Episode 387

“See,” Andy rubbed his hands together taking the time to dust himself off before he turned his attention to Blake, “there’s nothing to it. As long as you have the proper equipment you can accomplish anything.”

“I can see that,” she noted having stood behind him watching him the entire time he’d worked to change her tire. “Though I’m really sorry that you had to get your shirt all dirty trying to help me.”

“What? This old thing,” Andy looked down to the shirt he was wearing and shrugged. Finally after a moment of contemplation he unbuttoned it and slipped out of it careful to take his time in bringing it down over his shoulders. He stood before her clad only in a white tank shirt and his blue eyes met hers once again. Finally he shrugged out of it fully and balled it up in his hand, “It’s no big deal. It’s just a shirt.”

“Shirt or not, you must let me give you something for what you’ve done. I know I should’ve called Brant or Kenny, but I just didn’t want to listen to them telling me how wrong I am and how I can’t handle myself all over again,” she explained with a small laugh, “They still view me like I’m a little girl who can’t do anything without them stepping in to take the reigns.”

“That’s a pity,” Andy’s gaze traveled up over her long legs taking note of the fact that Blake certainly looked anything like a helpless child. The small, white sundress she was wearing hugged each and every one of her curves and as Andy’s gaze swept upward he knew full well that she sparked a reaction inside of him that was anything, but what he would feel for a little girl. His grin expanded before he continued to speak to her, “Your brothers are obviously stuck in the past back when you were in need of their protecting.”

“Exactly,” Blake nodded in response clearly oblivious to the way that he’d just been checking her out. “They need to respect the fact that I’m an adult and I can take care of myself.”

“In all honesty,” he reached for the shirt he’d discarded moments earlier, taking the time to wipe his hands on it. Leaning up against the car he gave her another once over before continuing, “If you were my younger sister I wouldn’t let you leave the house without someone at your side because I would be afraid of what you might run into. There are a lot of creeps out in the world who would love to get the first shot at taking advantage of you.”

“You make it sound like I’m naïve,” Blake shook her head before rolling her eyes, “I’m not stupid you know.”

“I never said you were, but there are men out there who would love to manipulate a situation in their favor to spend some time with you,” he shrugged his shoulders before standing upright once again, “All I’m saying is that you never know who you can and can’t trust these days.”

“I guess it’s a good thing that you were the one that found me instead of some whacko then,” Blake smiled up at him, batting her long, dark eyelashes at him in a flirty movement though Andy was convinced it was just her way of being friendly. Still, it sent a thrill racing over him at the way her bright, blue eyes met him with such a trusting appreciation.

“It’s a very good thing indeed,” he stepped in closer to her, his grin expanding at the thought of just what he would love to see behind those blue eyes should he find a way to coax her back to his hotel room and out of that dirty sundress she was wearing. A sudden rush of eagerness carried over him with that thought and he reached out to press his index finger over her arm in a small movement, “You know I would help you in any way that I could if need be. That’s what friends are for.”

“Right,” she nodded feeling him trace a thin line over her arm. She cleared her throat feeling a moment of uneasiness carry over her before she turned to her car, “I really do appreciate your stopping to help me like this and about the shirt, well I’ll buy you another one.”

“Why not buy me dinner instead,” Andy suggested with the first hints of desire behind his blue eyes, “That way we could talk about how things have changed since the last time we saw one another.”

“I think I was about seventeen the last time we ran into one another,” Blake laughed lightly remembering when she used to follow Ken and his friends around, “It might be a while if we got to talking.”

“Who says I mind taking a while to catch up with you again?” he shrugged his shoulders simply, his grin widening further, “The way I see it you and I are on a different level now. You’re not the same little girl you once were and I’m not the man I used to be. We might find that we’ve got more of a common ground between us.”

“As much as I appreciate the offer, well I’ve got some things I need to attend to,” she motioned to the car once again, “I have groceries that no doubt are going to spoil if I don’t get them home soon, so I think we’ll have to take a rain check. Though if you like I could take down your number and we could get together maybe sometime later this week.”

“I like where you’re headed with this one,” Andy smiled down at her, feeling a moment of victory carrying over him, “Have a pen?”

“Give me one second,” Blake held up her finger before turning around to go back to her car.

Andy watched her lean in through the window reaching inside for her purse and a new heat settled in over his groin. Seeing the way her sundress seemed to sweep up around her thighs with the gentle breeze, he began to envision all the ways in which he would take his time exploring those delicious legs of hers once he got her alone. Already he had a new enthusiasm rushing over him with each and every taste he had of admiring her curves. Yes, she would be one of the best conquests ever considering how innocent she seemed.

“Sorry about that,” Blake stepped back returning to join him again. “It was buried in there…”

“There’s nothing wrong with having something buried in you,” Andy mouthed letting his thoughts go astray before he cleared his throat, “your car I mean.”

“Right,” Blake tipped her head to the side before holding out the pen and a small piece of a ripped envelope out to him. “Sorry about the lack of paper, but this was all I had.”

“It’s perfect,” he smiled reaching for it and brushing his finger tips against hers in a small sweep. He started to write his number down thinking about his plans for a seduction with Blake, but before he could finish with his number he heard her speak up again.

“When you call you might get Seth, but that’s okay. Just let him know who you are and we’ll hook you up,” she continued to explain seeing him still writing, “We’re having a big picnic for our friends and family and you’re more than welcome to join us.”

“Us,” Andy frowned realizing he’d overlooked the whole idea of Blake having her boyfriend.

“Seth won’t mind. It’ll be fun,” she nodded with a smile of her own before reaching out for her pen. She felt his grip on the pen remain, “Are you done?”

“Oh sure,” he nodded handing the pen and the envelope over to her, “I’d love to come over for a picnic.”

“Good then I’ll give you a call,” she promised with a wave walking over to her car again. She pulled the door open before casting one last glance over her shoulder at him, “Thanks again for the help with the tire.”

“It was no problem,” he waved watching her slip into the car and drive off. Frowning he thought about the problem that Seth would pose to where it was he wanted to be in Blake’s life, but as she drove off he decided that boyfriend or not, it was time he took on a new adventure in the form of Blake Ashford. Unlike the last time he’d moved in on someone, he was certain that he would be accomplish so much more with someone like Blake as he’d already found his way into her life as the good guy willing to help. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he’d stepped into a very profitable scenario and as time went on he was sure that this would be his biggest victory ever!


“Sorry I’m late,” Grady offered up taking a seat across from Seth at the corner booth inside of the coffee shop. While Seth had already taken the liberty of getting the both of them coffees Grady couldn’t help but notice the apprehension on Seth’s face.

“As long as you’ve come with good news, then I’m sure it won’t be much of a big deal,” Seth replied feigning an air of hopefulness. “Tell me that you’ve been able to fix this situation.”

“I’d like to say that I have,” Grady hesitated not knowing how to break the news he’d just discovered to Seth, “but the fact to the matter is that we haven’t been able to give Valerie notice of the papers. She was supposed to have her lawyer get back in touch with me so that we could iron out the details of the settlement, but…”

“There shouldn’t be a settlement,” Seth frowned at the thought of what Valerie was trying to pull in shaking up his life. “The way I see it we weren’t together at all to begin with so…”

“Believe me I won’t argue that one with you Seth, but when you get on the subject of a divorce things are complicated,” Grady hesitated before running his fingers through his own dark hair. “Believe me I know because I’m an expert on this one.”

“Because of what you went through with Susan?” Seth arched a speculative brow while catching the expression on Grady’s face. “Jade mentioned a few things about it before everything went to hell around us.”

“Susan was a lunatic,” Grady sighed heavily feeling an ache inside of him at the mention of the woman who had single-handedly worked to destroy his dreams for a future with Jade. Thinking back to how Susan had hurt Jade, he couldn’t help but feel anger boil in his veins. “I had no idea what I was getting into when I married her. Only at the time I really thought that she and I would have something special. I confused fun with something more and in the end, well if I could take it back I would.”

“I know that,” Seth nodded in silent understanding. “For what it’s worth Grady, I know that Jade wouldn’t hold any of this against you. I know that she loved you and what Susan did, well…”

“It was unforgivable,” Grady finished for Seth, feeling his jaw flex with tension. “If I could have found a way to stop her…”

“We all would have done it,” Seth added painfully as his thoughts returned to his sister. “Jade deserved far more than she got once Susan got her hands on her. My only regret is that Susan wasn’t around to pay for all that she’d inflicted upon Jade. I hate that she was never held accountable for her actions in murdering my sister.”

“I wish that she would have been,” Grady closed his eyes for a moment remembering the final moments of Susan’s life. He could still feel the rage eating away at his insides, the pain in knowing that Susan’s death wouldn’t bring back the peace and love he’d known before she’d taken it from him. Even in seeing her draw her last breath it hadn’t brought Grady any kind of comfort. His quest for revenge and retribution didn’t make losing Jade any easier after Susan was gunned down by her own arrogance and evil.

“Grady,” Seth spoke his name bringing Grady back to the moment they were in. Grady forced a small, pained smile, but it was clear where his thoughts had been to Seth. “This wasn’t your fault.”

“I know,” Grady nodded not finding himself at liberty to really offer up any other kind of response. Drawing in a breath, Grady cleared his throat once again, “but we’re here to talk about your divorce not about my life with Susan.”

“I realize that, but in the same breath I’ve gotten good at avoiding the issue,” Seth shifted on his seat uncomfortably. “I wish that somehow I could say that I wasn’t to blame for this, but I am. If I would have pushed harder for the divorce then…”

“Hey you did what you needed to do. I know full well that you tried to file for one right away, but it took one person not doing their job right to make this situation harder than it already is,” Grady noted remembering what Seth had told him about his relationship with Valerie.

“I guess I just thought that part of my life was over. She never really seemed at all that interested in keeping me around, so when she bust in on my wedding, this threw me for a loop,” Seth sighed sinking back further into his side of the booth. “Truth be told I don’t remember much about the wedding except waking up the next morning knowing I’d made a tremendous mistake. Sure, I cared about Valerie, but I knew that we could never be together. I never really loved her especially not like I love Blake.”

“Hey,” Grady offered up supportively, “Trust me on this one Seth. We’re going to find a way to get you out of this mess so that you and Blake can be free to be together.”

“At this rate I’m starting to wonder if that will ever really happen,” Seth cleared his throat before reaching for his coffee. He brought the cup to his lips and took a long sip before speaking up again. “It just feels like each day I get one step further from where I want to be.”

“Listen Seth I know Valerie is being stubborn, but you’ll be able to rise above this,” Grady explained drawing in a breath. “She can’t run away from this forever and hey, even if she tries, we’ll find a way to fix this.”

“I hope you’re right,” Seth finally nodded hoping that Grady would be able to accomplish the impossible in making sure that the marriage Seth and Valerie had with one another could be brought to an end at long last. Even if it felt like it was taking forever, Seth just hoped that once it was finally over that he and Blake could have the kind of life that they both had wanted--together.


“Kipp, what’s going on?” Heather questioned worry creasing over her brow now that she could see he’d been holding back on something. When he’d suggested that they go outside to speak about things, she was increasingly worried that something certainly wasn’t right with him. It wasn’t like him to want to have a conversation so private that it left Kellen out of the loop. That in itself gave her major reason to panic.

“Look, this isn’t easy for me to say, but I made a mistake,” Kipp sighed closing his eyes and thinking about the night that was behind him.

“What kind of mistake? You keep saying you made a mistake, but…” Heather started again seeing him tense up at whatever was haunting him. She stepped forward placing her hand on his shoulder gently in an attempt to coax the truth out of him.

“Heather, I don’t think I should’ve hired Becca,” he blurted out with a small sigh trying to control what it was that was eating away inside of him.

“Why? She seems to be working out okay. I know she’s had a hard life and is a little misguided with her crush on you, but…” Heather started thinking about the talk she’d had with Becca the previous day. “I think she’s just looking for someone good in her life--someone who will treat her decent and she recognizes the fact that you’re a good guy. I know it’s a bit of a problem for you and Kellen, but when she gets over her crush I’m sure that…”

“Heather she hopped into bed with me last night,” Kipp blurted out unable hold back on the truth any longer.

“What?” Heather blinked back at him, “Kipp, how is that possible? I mean…”

“I don’t know,” he threw his hands up in the air his frustrations mounting. “I left here in a fury and I remember driving home thinking that everyone was against me. I was so blinded by my rage that I started drinking. I didn’t stop until I passed out. After that everything was a blur until I woke up to find Becca in bed with me giving me…”

“Okay wait,” Heather held her hand up in the air, “How did you wind up in bed with Becca? Kipp I thought you weren’t interested in her like that.”

“I’m not interested in her. Hell, Heather I haven’t been interested in a woman since I was interested in you,” he confessed honestly, his voice raw with emotion. “You were the last and only woman I’ve ever really cared about, so I can’t for the life of me understand why I would wake up with her in my bed.”

“Well what did she say?” Heather couldn’t help but ask. “Is it possible that you invited her in when you were upset and…”

“No,” Kipp shook his head firmly, “I wouldn’t do that Heather. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have invited her in and especially not to do that.”

“But then how did she…” Heather searched his eyes seeing that he truly was convinced he wouldn’t welcome Becca into his bed with open arms.

“I don’t know,” he ran his fingers through his dark hair, “but I was really out of it. When I woke up she was on top of me and doing things--things that made me believe that she was, well Kellen. I thought he came home and wanted to stop fighting, but when I reached out for Kellen, I felt her long hair and…”

“Kipp, are you saying that…” Heather paused seeing the horror flash over his eyes, “Did you have sex with her?”

“She’s claiming we did, but I don’t think I would’ve. I mean I couldn’t have,” Kipp stopped himself, his dark eyes filled with upset, “Could I?”

“I don’t know,” Heather lowered her voice turning to look over her shoulder at the house again knowing full well Kellen would lose it if he’d heard what was happening. “What happened when you spoke with her?”

“She started going on and on about how I had invited her to come over--how I had called her over and asked her in. She told me how I wanted to make love to her and that I’d told her I was in love with her. She said I said I wasn’t getting what I needed from Kellen and that from day one I was hoping that somehow things would evolve between she and I,” Kipp shook his head firmly his lips curling in a frown, “but I don’t believe I would ever say that Heather. There is no way I would even think those things even when I was drunk because they are so far from the truth it isn’t funny. I don’t love her and I certainly don’t want some kind of relationship with her.”

“But if you were drunk,” Heather started again seeing the pained expression on Kipp’s face.

“Even at my lowest point do you see me telling her that about Kellen? Do you honestly believe that I would risk everything I had with him to be with someone like her?” Kipp pleaded with her seeking out affirmation of his own beliefs behind her eyes. “Would you have hopped into bed with someone else if you were fighting with Kyle?”

“No,” she shook her head firmly knowing what held true in her heart, “Even if I was bombed on my butt Kyle would be the only one I wanted.”

“That’s how I feel about Kellen, so when she said that things weren’t adding up,” Kipp divulged further, a tiny shiver racing over him. “I kept trying to piece together how I went from passing out on top of my bed to winding up naked with her. It just didn’t make sense Heather.”

“So what happened after you told her that? I’m assuming that you told her that,” Heather arched a speculative brow and saw him nod.

“I told her whatever it was she thought was happening, it wasn’t. That there was no way that I would do what she was accusing me of. Needless to say she wasn’t happy about it. She started shouting about it and screaming at me,” Kipp admitted with a small groan still feeling a throbbing in his head, “I tried to reason with her, but it didn’t go far. She snapped at me telling me that I used her and that I wouldn’t be able to get away with it. Heather, I honestly can’t believe that I would’ve invited her in to my home to do that--not when I was so drunk I could barely stay awake.”

“So what happened? I mean after you two got into an argument,” she questioned further thinking about the potential damage control after what had taken place.

“I asked her to leave and she wasn’t happy about it. Hell, she fought me tooth and nail about it, then made this big display telling me that next time I wouldn’t be so reluctant. She had this dreamy expression on her face and I have to be honest with you, I don’t think she got any of what I was telling her. I mean this sounds like I’m some raving ego-maniac here, but the girl is obsessed with me. She had to have broken into my house and hopped into bed with me when I was passed out,” he tried to piece the night together in his mind. “That would be the only way that could’ve happened. That must‘ve been why it happened and why she was there.”

“Then how did she get in Kipp? Do you have proof that she broke in?” Heather questioned thinking about what would come up in the future after the situation had taken place.

“I have no idea how she got in there Heather, but as soon as I realized she was there I wanted her out. Heather, you know me. You know the kind of man I am and when I’m true to someone, I don’t cheat. I don’t step out of the relationship for a second--not for anything,” he pleaded with her, his dark eyes beckoning hers, “You have to believe that.”

“I do believe it because I was a real bitch to you and you never once thought about moving on past me when we were together,” Heather admitted honestly reaching out to touch his arm gently, “Though this poses another problem I hope you realize that.”

“You mean other than Kellen telling me I told you so when he said that something wasn’t right with Becca?” he sighed emphatically feeling his spirits dropping even further.

“I’m sure that won’t be his first reaction when you tell him what you told me. If anything you might want to cuff him to a desk or something so that he doesn’t go take out Becca himself,” Heather added thinking about her best friend’s passionate side when it came to his loved ones.

“He’d wind up in jail in no time, but that’s not really what I’m worried about. Heather I don’t think I can work with her anymore. I mean if she’s this delusional about this relationship she’s put together in her mind, then there is no telling what could happen--what will happen now…” Kipp explained with a heavy frown, “I know that it sounds ridiculous, but…”

“No it doesn’t sound ridiculous at all. In fact I was just going to bring that up with you,” she paused attempting to sound like a friend and a boss to him, “Kipp, are you sure that you didn’t invite her in? I mean if you had to think about the situation, is there any possibility that there may be any truth to what she’s said?”

“Heather, I seriously doubt it,” Kipp sighed again, “I was so drunk that I can’t even remember being able to get undressed let alone inviting her in.”

“So you’re saying that it’s possible that she came in, stripped you down and then tried to jump you,” Heather pieced it together making a verbal note of the situation.

“That sounds impossible, doesn’t it?” Kipp frowned back at her thinking about how far fetched his story sounded.

“No, not to me it doesn’t. Things like this happen at times Kipp. They are horrible situations, but you aren’t the only man who has been violated,” Heather frowned pondering the situation, “Hell Brooke Morrison drugged me and put me in bed with Russ at that party so that you would think I was cheating on you.”

“You wanted to be cheating on me, remember?” Kipp tossed a look over at her.

“Yes, but I wasn’t cheating intentionally. She drugged me and got me naked. She threw me into bed with Russ and set the whole thing up. Then there was that time that Susan did what she did to Kyle. She drugged him and,” Heather frowned remembering all the horrors that had been inflicted on her friends in Coral Valley. “Is it possible that Becca drugged you?”

“She probably wouldn’t have had to considering how much I drank,” Kipp remembered all the empty bottles he’d had in his house. “I was so drunk that I can honestly tell you I don’t think I could get it up let alone encourage some kind of seduction between us.”

“Yeah well as much as I think that was too much information,” she wrinkled her nose at his comment, “I think that is a pretty good indicator that things weren’t consensual and even if they were anyone could’ve seen you were drunk if you took as much as you told me.”

“Heather you can see for yourself at my place,” Kipp added with a frown.

“I believe you, but this means we need to take a new direction with Becca. You just offered her one hell of a contract and unless you’re going to press charges against her, then we’re going to have to find a way to work around the situation,” Heather informed him point blank thinking about what he’d told her.

“Who other than you and maybe Kyle are going to believe that I was the victim in this situation?” he replied with a frown, “I’m the son of Douglas Mahoney--the man who gets off on treating women like sex objects. No one is going to see me as some helpless loser who let some woman jump in and upset the balance in his life.”

“First of all you aren’t a loser Kipp and second of all you shouldn’t let her get away with this. You need to take action before this festers inside of you,” Heather reached for his hand squeezing it gently, “You need to talk to the police and…”

“Heather, would you listen to yourself,” he pushed away from her. “This isn’t about the police. This is about my working with her. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to keep her as my assistant. I don’t want to ruin her life especially considering that there probably isn‘t any proof of what happened. It‘ll be my word against hers and if she puts on the tears, then no one is going to believe that I wasn‘t the one who initiated things.”

“You would be surprised what people would believe,” Heather stood taller thinking about her fears about her past, “Kipp if you didn’t initiate the situation and she took advantage of it…”

“I don’t think we had sex Heather. I think she was attempting to start something when I woke up,” he paused thinking about the night behind him, “Look I just need her to be away from me. I don’t want to destroy her. I just--well, I can’t work with her, but I know from a legal stand point I’ve backed myself up against a brick wall.”

“Not necessarily,” Heather thought about it for a moment, “After all she did sign a contract with Stone Corp, yes?”

“Well yeah, but…” Kipp nodded in response seeing something flash behind her eyes, “Why?”

“Let’s just say that I think I know a way that we can solve this situation without it causing a big ripple in any of our lives. Cameron owes me a few favors and plenty of retribution, so if I have a word with him, I’m sure that I can fix this,” Heather promised vowing to keep the obvious misunderstanding with Becca from ruining all that Kipp had hoped to accomplish with Heather’s company. “I still think you should talk to someone though just in case.”

“You mean in case Becca spins a different tale about last night,” Kipp added seeing the expression on her face, “Heather I really don’t think that it’ll do any good.”

“You won’t know unless you try, but before you do that I think you need to tell Kellen the truth,” she added firmly, “because if you don’t there is no telling what could happen.”

“I know that,” Kipp nodded in response closing his eyes again and thinking about his options not that it seemed the friendship he’d initiated had turned into something that was far from where he’d hoped it would go with Becca when he’d first hired her.


“What do you think they are talking about?" Kellen watched Kyle sip down in his orange juice before turning toward Charles to try and get him to eat a little bit. “Doesn’t this bother you the least bit that Kipp and Heather are alone together talking about things without us. That we aren’t part of this conversation at all and they specifically walked out of the room to get away from us.”

“Uh,” Kyle saw Charles open his mouth for a cheerio and Kyle simply shook his head before turning to Kellen with a small shrug of his shoulders. “Can’t say that it bothers me at all actually.”

“How can you just sit here and act like nothing is happening?" Kellen threw his hands up in the air seeing Kyle reach for his orange juice to take another sip. “Here we are blind to the total subject and here you are just drinking your orange juice. What is wrong with you?"

“What’s wrong with drinking orange juice?" Kyle arched his eyebrow up in response seeing Kellen roll his eyes and drop down to the chair across from Kyle and he let out a long laugh. “Listen, I think you need to sit and chill. They are just talking and I’m sure everything is going to be okay. You need to relax, have some orange juice.”

“What is it with you and orange juice?" Kellen curled his lip up seeing Kyle shrug his shoulders before standing up from the chair at the table. Moving back toward the counter he grabbed an apple before taking a small bite. “I like healthy things.”

“You’re a healthy pig,” Kellen wrinkled his nose seeing Kyle stare out at him with his hazel eyes and Kellen reached for a sausage link from the table. “I prefer to eat unhealthy piggish food and then work it out you weirdo.”

“You know, you really worry me sometimes,” Kyle let out a small laugh before moving over toward the door of the kitchen to try and hear if something was still going on between Kipp and Heather. “I’m sure there is nothing going on at all and…damn it Kellen you make me paranoid.”

“What?" Kellen stopped after Kyle turned to glare at him as he tapped his fingers along the table to pass the time. Sliding down his chair Kellen pouted until he heard Kyle’s cell phone go off and the buzzing sound that it made as it vibrated against the table top. “Oh, I’ll get that for you.”

“No, I have it,” Kyle shook his head moving quickly to grab his cell phone glancing back at Kellen as he rolled his eyes sitting back in the chair again slumping down. Smirking Kyle moved over toward the sink before answering his phone. “Hello.”

“Hey Kyle,” Russ’s voice came out from the receiver as a smile pressed in over Kyle lips hearing his best friend’s voice at the other end. Leaning back against the counter he saw Kellen staring out at him trying to listen to who was on the other side of the phone. “How are you this morning.”

“Well, I have a thorn in my side this morning but I have a feeling that I won’t be having to deal with it much longer,” Kyle teased Kellen seeing Kellen roll his eyes and wave his hand at Kyle to blow him off. “But anyways, how are you today?"

“Well actually, Avery and I were talking about you today,” Russ cleared his throat before moving through the living room and taking a seat on the couch. “We were wondering if maybe you wanted to come over for dinner. Avery misses you and wants you around, she’d really just like you to come over.”

“Hey, yeah. I’d love that and…,” Kyle saw Kellen move up again and move over toward the door to press his ear against it to try eavesdropping and Kyle pulled the phone away from his ear a moment. “If you don’t relax I’m going to kick your ass. Remember what I know about you.”

“Uh, what?" Kyle heard Russ laugh at the other end as he shook his head slowly watching Kellen’s blue eyes widen before nodding and moving over to sit back down at the kitchen table. “Just so you know Kyle, I’ve been relaxing for quite some time so I hope you stay away from my ass at all causes.”

“Funny,” Kyle retorted with a small huff knowing that his friend was just playing with him and he let out a small laugh of his own. “I know you wish I was talking to you, but I was talking to that thorn in my side.”

“Kellen over?" Russ questioned hearing the noise that Kyle made telling him that he in fact was. Remember all the stories that Kyle had told him and everything he had seen with Kellen. “I guess that means you are stuck for a little while.”

“Just a little while, but I promise you I will be done soon enough,” Kyle sighed turning to look out the window again knowing that in the last few days he had learned more than enough things about Kellen than he ever wanted to learn. “But everything will be out of here by later tonight. I’m totally up for some dinner, I’ll see you later tonight.”

“Alright, we’ll have you here around five if you want or earlier if you want to visit Erin,” Russ stood up from the couch ready to tell Avery that Kyle accepted. “I know she misses her Uncle Kyle.”

“Well I can’t wait to see her,” Kyle looked over at the clock checking what time it was before letting out a long exaggerated noise wanting time to pass by faster. “It’s been way too long since the last time I’ve seen her and I think it’s time I see that beautiful little girl again.”


“So how did it go?” Avery questioned popping her head into Russell’s study only to find him seated at his desk in front of his computer. “What did Kyle say?”

“What do you think he said?” Russ couldn’t help but tease, his green eyes traveling up to discover Avery standing before him with damp hair after the shower she’d just taken. His lips curled upward in a smirk as he leaned back further in his chair. He placed his arms behind his head to get comfortable as he enjoyed the view of her before him.

“He better have had said yes,” Avery informed him with a pointed expression before moving in closer to him. “What? What’s that look for?”

“I was just thinking about how much I love that robe on you,” Russ noted as his grin expanded, “even more than I liked it on myself.”

“What? This old thing?” she questioned teasing her fingers over the front of the navy colored robe. “I guess I just grabbed it in a haste after Erin went down for her nap. I was feeling a bit run down, so I thought a shower might be refreshing.”

“It would have been even more refreshing if you would have called me to join you,” Russ paused for a long moment thinking about her earlier experience with the shower the night before. “Your uninvited guest didn’t return, did he?”

“Huh?” she blinked back at him before catching on to what he was saying as her thoughts turned to their dinner with Ken. With a frown she spoke up once again, “Oh the spider. No, no he wasn’t around at all. I think he realized that it was best to stay away from our family because he doesn’t want to get squashed. I mean if he values his life no matter how miserable his existence is, then he’ll just back off.”

“Gee, I didn’t realize that you were that angry with the spider,” Russ noted as she circled around his desk to join him. “I thought that he’d exited your thoughts after you and I found a way to distract ourselves last night.”

“You mean with how we tried to push everything aside for a while until Erin woke up,” Avery noted pushing his chair back just enough to make room for herself on his lap. Leisurely she eased her fingertips across his thick, muscled shoulders before they slid up into his hair commanding his full attention. “Don’t get me wrong Russ I love spending time with our daughter, but I miss having some alone time with you.”

“It’s been too long since we’ve had some alone time,” Russ nodded in agreement while his eyes cascaded over the loosely covered lines of her body. “Not that I’m complaining about us having Erin around with us, but…”

“But we really should try to keep things on the level for us with a healthy dose of each other,” Avery added with a knowing smirk. She tossed her long, dark hair over her shoulders before meeting his sexy green eyes once again. “You know it’s been a while since we spent time in your office like this together.”

“That it has,” Russ lowered his hands, grazing the bare skin of her thighs that straddled him on the chair. Tentatively, he traced lazy circles over her thigh before his fingers disappeared underneath the robe she was wearing.

“So tell me,” she purred leaning forward to nibble on his neck while gently tugging at his dark hair, “What did Kyle say?”

“Of course he said yes,” Russ breathed hotly against her shoulder, using his chin to push the material down a bit before his lips pressed upon her warm skin. “He’ll be over later.”

“Later is good,” Avery murmured feeling his touch awaken a great many sensations from within. She closed her eyes remembering all the times in the past when Russ had found a way to take her from calm and collected to wild and unrestrained just with the same attentiveness that he was doting upon her. A breath escaped her lips as she found herself smoothing her palms out over his chest, gradually making her way to the elastic on the top of his sweatpants.

“He said something about being here around six or seven…” Russ breathed in a husky tone as her touch dipped in beneath the material of his jogging pants to feel his ache for her.

“Good,” she mouthed claiming his mouth in a desperate kiss while pushing his pants down over his hips in a clumsy movement. “I was hoping that you’d say that.”

“Avery,” he spoke her name in a sharp, staggering breath as she bridged the distance between them. He curled his arm around her slender waist, his lips easing over the soft lines of her body as he found himself longing to explore their passion with one another.

“Maybe we should call Kevin and Ria as well,” Avery pondered the thought reaching down to help Russ with the knotted robe tie that kept her hidden from his eyes.

“I think they’ve got more than enough going on right now,” Russ frowned remembering all that their friends were experiencing after Angela’s sudden memory loss.

“All the more reason to give them a break,” Avery shrugged before offering up a triumphant smile. She pulled the knot loose and allowed the robe to fall down onto Russell’s desk before she smiled at him, “After all everyone could use a little release every now and then.”

“I won’t argue that point,” Russell’s eyes swept over her trying to imprint every single second of their time alone with one another into his mind. “Still I think Kevin’s got a lot on his plate right now.”

“We can still call them later,” Avery decided shrugging her shoulder before reaching out to him, “but right now what do you say we take advantage of nap time?”

“Well if you really want to go to bed, I suppose we can…” Russ started to tease only to feel her swat at his shoulder.

“Forget bed Russ. I’m thinking that right here would be a nice change for us,” she wiggled her brow suggestively, “Unless of course you’re not feeling unconventional.”

“Believe me Avery, in a few minutes you’ll be feeling just how unconventional I can truly be,” he promised ready to deliver a whole new world of passion to the woman he loved in their time alone with one another. While things might have been strained for them in the past, it was clear that things were finally at a point with one another where things were right on track. They’d endured the worst of the torture that was ahead of them and now nothing would ever tear them apart again. Life was finally as it should be.


“Gee, it sure is taking Brant a long time,” Ria muttered after waiting for him quite some time alone with Angela and that was the last place possible she wanted to be right now. “It’s hard to believe that getting the newspaper takes that long.”

“Oh, I’m sure something important happened to make him take so long,” Angela stated simply starting to wonder herself what Brant was up to before seeing Ria reaching for the M&M’s on the counter eating a few of them at a time. Seeing that she seemed to be distraught about something, she decided that maybe the quiet grounds weren’t the way to talk to someone. “So, is everything okay?"

“With me?" Ria laughed seeing Angela nod before finishing up with the eggs and Ria reached for more M&M’s knowing when she got in a mood chocolate seemed to be the thing she reached for first. Well, other than Kevin that is, but right now she couldn’t get a hand on him because of his crazy ex. “Everything is just perfect. It could never be better than it is right now.”

“I see,” Angela didn’t quite know how to respond moving in toward the corner of the kitchen resting her hands on the counter as she tried to come up with some kind of friendly conversation. Nothing could really enter her mind other than the person that was missing from the room right now. “Everything okay with Brant?"

“Brant? Oh yeah, everything is okay with Brant,” Ria found it hard to mutter Brant’s name considering he would be the last man she wanted to be with right now. Right now she should be showing off that Kevin was hers and not Angela’s, but because of this stupid game they were playing there was no way she could do such a thing. Thinking more about Kevin, she tried to play along for her lover and for Brant who really was her friend. “Well, he’s a great guy. He’s romantic, loving, caring and does the sweetest things. I love him more than anything in the world because when it comes to me, it always seems that nothing will keep us apart. He’s wonderful.”

“It sounds like you really love him,” Angela felt a bit of redness pressing in over her cheeks at the thought of Brant while considering Kevin all the while. Kevin was the man she loved, the man she loved for so very long, but now she felt this attraction to Brant that she couldn’t believe. This jealousy was something taking place that she didn’t want to happen because Kevin was the best man she could ever have. He loved her so much and he showed it to her every day of her life and yet… “He kind of reminds me of Kevin.”

“Oh really?" Ria grabbed another hearty handful of M&M’s basically shoving them down her throat seeing Angela’s brown eyes widen as she nodded slowly. Throwing her hands up in the air and speaking with them in her mouth she saw Angela staring out at her before letting out a small laugh. “Tell me why.”

“Well, Kevin is just the sweetest guy. Whenever I need him, no matter what he is always there for me. Always. He’d do anything for me,” Angela replied seeing Ria’s full attention on her now as she folded her arms out in front of her chest. Thinking about all the time she spent with Kevin, Angela took in a deep breath before shrugging her shoulders. “He’d risk everything just for me and he’s so romantic. He can look at you with his beautiful brown eyes and say I love you without even saying the words. He just gives you this look and his jaw kind of tightens, but when he looks at you it’s clearer than day that he loves you.”

“Yeah,” Ria looked down toward the ground feeling a lump developing in her throat stronger than ever knowing that Kevin had given her that look so many times in the past and even recently. It just killed her inside that Angela knew exactly what that look meant and thatKevin gave that look to Angela long before Ria had been the one in his heart.

“I could go on and on about Kevin forever because he’s really that great of a guy,” Angela pointed out seeing Ria take in a long exaggerated breath and reach for the M&M’s once more. “He’s just amazing, whether it comes to his personality, the way he says I love you, his body or the way he makes love to me.”

“Makes love to you?" Ria repeated nearly choking down on the M&M’s ready to take Angela out with the last comment before her eyes met Brant standing in the doorway. By the look on his face she could see that he had been standing there listening to Angela going on and on about Kevin and Angela probably didn’t even notice. “Brant, honey. You’re back.”

“Yeah, I just had to get a new shirt,” he explained moving through the kitchen to tip down and press a kiss against Ria’s cheek seeing the way that Angela stared out at them. “Sorry I took so long.”

“We were just…,” Ria looked to Angela again before grabbing the bag of M&M’s from the counter getting tired of reaching for them when she knew she needed them. “Eating M&M’s and talking about girl stuff.”

“I see,” Brant nodded staring out at Angela seeing the way her beautiful brown eyes stared up into his and he let out a long, saddened sigh. “I can see you finished the eggs. No burning, that’s real great.”

“Well they shouldn’t have been that hard,” Angela went to continue to only hear a slam fill the air as they all turned toward the noise where the sliding door in the kitchen was locked. Moving over toward the glass door they all looked out to see Kevin laid out on the deck on his back showing that he obviously just ran into the sliding glass door. “Oh my god.”

Unlocking the door, Brant went to move out to see if he was okay only to be shoved to the side by both of the women moving outside to the sides of Kevin seeing his eyes clenched in pain. Letting out a small groan he was tired of seeing both the women running to him, especially Angela in that fact when she was his and not Kevin’s.

“Kevin are you alright?" Angela questioned seeing the way that Kevin’s brown eyes opened and he let out a hesitant laugh before bringing his hand over his head after running straight into the door. “What happened?"

“I guess I just assumed that someone left the door open for me,” Kevin groaned sitting up and feeling both Ria and Angela at his sides rubbing at his arms as he looked up at Brant with a glare. “I don’t know why I thought that, but for some reason I did.”

“Gee, don’t know why you thought something like that,” Brant smirked seeing Kevin stand up slowly and run his hands through his wet hair to straighten it back out. Moving forward Kevin grabbed Brant’s shirt seeing the way that Brant’s brown eyes stared out at him. “Someone must have given you the wrong impression to come through the back door and not go back to the front and ring the door bell.”

“Gee, what would be the point in that?" Kevin heard Brant’s small laugh as he pushed Brant forward into the house and they all followed them back in. Ready to tease Brant further, Kevin moved forward only to see pancakes on the counter and side stepped toward them. “Oh, brunch.”

“It’s more of a linner, I suppose,” Brant whispered seeing all eyes on him and he watched Kevin take a bite of the pancake before smirking. “Okay, I guess I should probably not make up my own words.”

“That doesn’t work too well for you honey,” Ria laughed coming over and patting Brant on the shoulder seeing Kevin throw the pancake down once she placed her hand in over his shoulder. A smirk pressed in over her lips as her arm slid in around Brant’s waist, seeing Brant’s eyes widen at the movement while Kevin’s jaw tightened in anger. “I think you should leave it up to other people.”

“You know, linner seems kind of cold. We should just clean up and maybe have some dinner instead in a little bit,” Kevin reached for the eggs that were left on the corner and made a quick turn bringing the plate right into the center of Brant’s t-shirt seeing Brant’s eyes close tightly as he let out a fake gasp. “Oops, I was just trying to clean up. I’m sorry.”

“Oh, it’s no problem,” Brant cleared his throat seeing the smile that pressed in over Kevin’s features and he saw Kevin pull the plate back and set it down on the counter. Looking down to the shirt that he had just put on Brant let out a long breath watching the egg yolk drip down his shirt and his pants. “I really think we should clean this up and then have some dinner later, so you were doing nothing wrong. Kev-O.”

“Dinner sounds good,” Angela finally spoke up trying to make the topic seem brighter as she saw Kevin look over his shoulder at her before nodding and laughing. Seeing Brant grab a piece of toast with strawberry jelly on it and hold it in his hand. “Uh…”

“What?" Kevin turned to look at Brant only to feel the slap of something against the center of his face as it slid down his face and fell to his shirt. Plucking it off his shirt Kevin threw it into the garbage next to him before staring out at Brant who started to laugh vigorously. “You missed the trash can.”

“No, I didn’t,” Brant laughed seeing some of the strawberry jelly drip from Kevin’s nose and he saw Kevin move forward toward him when Ria stepped between the two. “We were just cleaning up…baby.”

“Okay, I think we could all use some clean up time right now,” Ria chuckled seeing the two fighting with one another and found herself amused. Hating to say it she finally came up with something to say seeing both men stare down at her. “How about you and Angela go get dressed for dinner and we’ll order out for something. We’ll have dinner outside and it will be great. We’ll get ready while you two do, but before you guys go I think I have something to get that stickiness off your face for you Kevin.”

“Okay,” Kevin followed Ria toward the hallway seeing Angie staring out at him as he shrugged his shoulders and paused for a moment. “I swear I’ll be right back Angie.”

Seeing her nod he quickly followed Ria into the bathroom around the corner seeing her pull him in by his dark shirt and he saw her close the door behind him. Feeling her lips roughly press in against his, he kissed her back picking her up off the ground and setting her on the counter.

“Listen to me Kev,” she whispered seeing his brown eyes staring into hers as she moved forward licking his cheek slowly getting some of the strawberry jelly off his face in the movement. “Be nice to Brant. I hate this just as much as you do, but if you’re nice to Brant we can get through this easier.”

“Yeah, right,” Kevin moved forward to kiss her only to feel her pull back and he frowned before reaching for the hand towel to start to wipe his face off. “Fine, anything for you baby, but did you hear him mock me? Baby. Just because I call you that doesn’t mean anything.”

“Hey, it’s sexy coming from you,” Ria winked seeing the way he moved down to kiss her again and she shoved some face wipes in the center of his chest seeing the wide smirk that pressed in over his lips. “Now be a good boy.”

Moving out into the kitchen they saw a silent Brant and Angela staring out at one another as Kevin moved in beside Angela seeing Brant staring out at him.

“Come on Angie, we’ll go get ready and give them some time,” Kevin pressed his hand over the small of her back like any friend would do and shot Brant a sorry expression. “We’ll be back.”


“You know this was the last thing I wanted tonight,” Alexa blurted out slamming the door to her apartment behind her after she and Ben had stepped inside. She ripped off her blonde wig before letting out a groan. “I spent six months working to get where I am and if you ruin it for me…”

Ben half listened to her as he took a long look around seeing the posh surroundings that were before him. They were clearly given to offer up an illusion of money and wealth, but the one thing that caught Ben’s attention was the fish tank that was built into the far wall between the great room and what appeared to be a bedroom. Walking over to it, he took a long look at all of the tropical fish swimming around in front of him--their multicolored patterns in the water only adding to the posh element of the place that surrounded him.

“Um, hello Ben,” Alexa snapped her fingers at him in an attempt to capture his attention again, “Are you listening to me?”

“This place is great. Are you telling me that the bureau is paying for all of this?” Ben couldn’t help but ask turning around to see her glaring at him. He raised his hands in the air defensively, “I’m just asking.”

“Yeah, well what they are paying for isn’t relevant to my mission right now,” she frowned kicking off her high heeled boots in a huff. “I worked my ass off trying to get where I am Ben and if you blow this for me tonight…”

“Last time I checked I thought I was pretty efficient with my work. You of all people should know that,” he added taking another look around her apartment, “Man this isn’t anything like that hell hole they had us shacked up in back in Washington.”

“Nothing comes close to that roach motel,” she wrinkled her nose at the memory before walking over to the fridge, “Can I get you a beer?”

“No, but water would be great,” he mouthed in response turning around to find her popping the top off of a bottle of beer before grabbing another and moving in towards him. “You sure you want to be drinking right now?”

“Considering that we’ve got a heavy feat to pull off tonight, a beer might help instead of hurt,” she pushed a bottle into his hand before reaching up to the clip she had in her hair. She pulled it out allowing her long, dark hair to fall down over her shoulders. She pushed past him taking another sip of her beer before motioning to the coffee table. “The case file is right there. I’m going to go change, so why don’t you read up and you can ask questions when I get back?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Ben nodded reluctantly popping the top off of his beer and moving over to the couch beside the table. He took a seat hearing the black leather swish with the movement he made on it. He slid back on the couch thinking about how he would’ve loved to have one of these in his own place--how it would fit nicely in the great room at his house next to perhaps his game system and the big screen TV. Sinking back further Ben pondered how it was that he hadn’t been stuck on any of the missions that gave him the luxury of a five star apartment.

“She has all the luck,” Ben mouthed under his breath feeling a laugh bubble in over him. Opening his eyes and sitting up straighter, he looked to the coffee table in front of him and frowned seeing papers spread out over it in a disarray. Speaking up he glanced over towards the doorway she’d entered a few moments earlier. “Which ones are they?”

“They are on top of the pile,” she called back to him causing him to shake his head, “They aren’t hard to miss.”

“Easy for you to say,” Ben grumbled turning his attention to the paper trail mess right in front of him. He reached for one page then another in the hopes that eventually he could figure out the disarray in front of him. “You know you’re not obviously one for filing these the right way are you?”

“I can understand them,” Alexa’s voice echoed through the room and he shook his head.

“Of course you can,” he muttered under his breath finding his gaze drawn back to the fish tank again. He couldn’t help but notice the bright, yellow fish near the glass and as he tried to place it, he pushed the paper work aside and rose to his feet. He noticed the spiky fins on the fish and found himself trying to process what kind of fish it was. “Hey, what kind of fish do you…”

Ben’s words came to a halt when he spotted Alexa through the fish tank walking around the bedroom in her leather pants and the black bra she’d been wearing. He felt a moment of embarrassment wash over him when she unhooked the back of her bra and slid it from her shoulders. He blinked for a moment attempting to turn away, but when he heard her voice, he found himself turning his head to find her standing in her bedroom with only a small, black thong on.

“What did you say?” she questioned turning in just the right angle to have Ben catching each and every curve of her body with his wide eyes.

Immediately he felt a lump forming in his throat and a guilt carry over him at seeing his friend and partner in such a compromising position. Hurriedly he rushed back over to the couch and sat back down on it attempting to fumble through the papers. He tried to ignore the memory of what he’d seen, but as he felt his face grow hot with embarrassment he knew that there would be no hiding it. Looking up again he saw Alexa pulling some kind of oversized sweatshirt over her head before she slipped out of sight. Looking down Ben tried to focus on what was in his hand instead of what he’d just inadvertently spotted through the fish tank.

“What was that?” Alexa returned stepping out into the living room in a pair of very short, gray shorts and the oversized gray shirt Ben had seen her slip into.

“I said what kind of system is this?” he gulped trying to keep his voice cool and even after he’d felt like some kind of pervert gawking at his friend. While it hadn’t been his intention to take notice of her, the fact to the matter was that he had seen her naked and even now as she moved in closer to him, he tried to stun the male reaction to seeing a woman without her clothes on.

“Easier said than done,” he thought to himself finding his thoughts lingering to the papers in his hand, to the boring stakeout he’d been tossed on and taken away from home with. Home. That thought cut him like a knife as he remembered Diane. Thinking about what she must be doing at home wondering where he was, Ben felt his uneasiness settling in his stomach and fading a bit. He tipped his head up to look at Alexa and attempted to play things low key. “You know if the higher ups could see what you’re doing with classified information.”

“They can blow me,” she curled her lips in a full pout reaching for one page on the far end of the table and handing it over to him.

“Um, I think they might have a hard time in attempting that one,” Ben teased with a small laugh before turning his attention to the page in front of him. “What’s this?”

“This is what you need to brush up on in order to get started with our mission tonight Ben. If you are going to accompany me, then you can look at this as a cliff’s notes to get you through it. Once you read that, then I’m sure I can talk you through the rest. Actually we can probably play this where I do most of the talking and you just stand there looking like you have purpose,” she added moving around to take a seat across from him.

“Gee, when you make me sound so important there,” he couldn’t help but roll his eyes at her comment, “You know I do know what I’m doing.”

“I didn’t say that you didn’t, but you have to remember that you offered me the chance to keep doing what I was doing since I’m the one responsible for tonight’s meeting. No other agent has been able to get this far,” she pointed out with a stubbornness taking another long swig of her beer.

“Fine, but we’re partners on this one Alexa. If you even think about putting me out of the loop, then I swear…” he warned sharply watching her lower her bottle of beer once again.

“Fine, we’re partners, but just know that means that you don't step on my toes and I won’t step on yours,” she held her beer out to toast the deal.

“Fair enough,” Ben nodded clinking his bottle with hers before taking a sip and wondering just what this case they were on had in store for them now that it seemed that they were about to take things in a whole new direction with one another.


“So, how was Kyle’s house?" Kipp tried to make up some conversation hearing the laughs of Charles in the backseat as he looked to Kellen who was playing with his hair while looking into the small mirror. “Did you have fun there?"

“I had some interesting things happen last night, not the best night of sleep I must tell you. I never really did understand the people that slept on their floor, it’s not really orthopedic,” Kellen sighed finally smiling when he finished his hair in the mirror and turned to look back at Charles who laughed once he saw Kellen’s blue eyes. “Other than almost getting my ass kicked by Kyle and being stalked, I had a pretty horrible evening.”

“Honey I’m sorry I left you like that, it wasn’t the right thing to do and I should have never done something like that. It was rude and it was a horrible thing to say what I did yesterday,” Kipp looked to see Kellen’s light blue eyes staring out into his as he let out a long sigh watching Kellen half stare at him and play with his son. “All three of you are the best people I know and my son is the greatest. I should have never gotten mad about Kyle and the whole thing, Kyle is a great guy and he was the best thing that ever happened to Heather. I owe you for finding my best friend that happiness that she so rightfully deserved. I don’t know what was getting to me, I just have this side of me that gets jealous and…”

“Sometimes its hard to boil that jealousy down,” Kellen finished the sentence seeing Kipp nod and Kellen arched his eyebrow up in response. Thinking about last night and all the things that were said, he knew that he would always forgive Kipp for everything. He loved Kipp and there was nothing that would keep them apart, no matter how bad it was. “I’ve been through that game so many times Kipp and I know what it’s like. I don’t want you to think I hold it against you in anyway because you are the most amazing man I have ever met.”

“You really think that?" Kipp whispered seeing Kellen smirk before moving forward to press a loving Kiss against his cheek to not catch him off guard while they drove. “You really are the greatest too Kellen and I’m sorry that I have treated you the way I have.”

A silence fell over him as he saw Kellen smirk before nodding and moving back to play with Charles for a few moment leaving Kipp to think some things over. It was hard to believe that he got so mad the other day when Kellen, Kyle and Heather were all the people he had including his son. Kyle was that one man who never gave up in finding him and Kyle was his support when he first came back to Coral Valley. If he needed help, Kyle was that friend that would be there to help him and he couldn’t believe that he let his jealousy win the better side of him. Kyle saved his life and he was his best friend’s lover. Even at that, Heather was the woman that he loved the most in his life, she was his best friend and he had promised himself that time and time again he would have never let anyone hurt her in anyway possible. Yet, the other night, he was the one that was hurting her and that was the last thing he would ever want. He loved her, she was the closest friend in his heart while that was the last way he ever wanted to treat her the other day. Kellen, he was the first person to finally find out who he really was. Kellen loved him from the first moment they met and Kellen was honestly the first person he had ever loved in his life. He was the first person that actually meant something to him and he wouldn’t be able to live without him, that’s how important he was to him. If he lost Kellen, he would be lost forever because Kellen was the one person that kept him standing on his feet.

“You’re supposed to tell the person you love everything,” Kipp muttered to himself seeing Kellen’s smile and it brightened the whole car as he played with his son. And yet as he thought about telling Kellen he knew that he just couldn’t do it when it came to Becca last night and what she did to him. It was something he wanted to tell Kellen, but he didn’t want Kellen to hate him. People could take things wrong and yet… “I can’t tell him.”

“What’s wrong?" Kellen frowned sitting back in his seat glancing over at Kipp seeing his brown eyes glance over at him for a moment. Reaching out to place his hand on Kipp‘s thigh lovingly, he squeezed it softly before offering up a small smile. “I can see something is on your mind honey, what’s wrong?"

“If I tell you something,” Kipp began seeing the way that Kellen stared out at him with a small nod and worry behind his beautiful blue eyes. Pulling into the driveway he turned off the car and thought it over before nodding slowly. “That’s seems to be kind of out of it, you have to promise me that you won’t go nuts.”

“What is it?" Kellen’s eyebrows tightened together wondering what was wrong with his lover as he saw Kipp slowly get out of the car and open the back to get out Charles. Following Kipp into the house and into Charles’s room, he was begging to know what was wrong with Kipp and what happened to make him upset. “Kipp, I promise. Whatever it is, I can handle it. I swear.”

“Let me just get my son to bed and then I’ll tell you,” Kipp hushed seeing Kellen nod before moving out of the room for him and Kipp let out a long breath. Knowing that this was going to be hard to explain considering Kellen already hated Becca extremely, it was going to be hard not to get Kellen ticked off. “Oh man this is going to be a long day when he finds out he was right.”


“I hate her so much,” Ria snapped seeing Brant setting up the things on the table slowly as she dropped down to one of the chairs in the corner. “Did you see the way she was around Kevin and the way she left with him. Her hands all over him like he was hers.”

“Yes, I saw the woman I love having her hands all over Kevin Ria,” Brant muttered with a groan placing his hand over his head finally feeling the headache that pressed in over his forehead after hearing her complain so much. “Ria, I was there when all she could do was talk about how great Kevin was. At least Kevin knows who he loves when it comes to you. Don’t you realize that yes, you’re upset and honey, I know how that is and I’m sorry you have to go on like this. Hell, I wish you and Kevin could be married by now and all of that, but what you aren’t seeing is that I’m the one that is here without someone to hold at night. Without someone to tell me they love me, I lost something in this that neither you or Kevin have Ria. You don’t think I don’t know how that feels?"

“Brant, I’m sorry. I didn’t think about it, I’ve been so upset about things,” she tried to explain seeing him drop the napkins he was holding before letting out a long sigh from being so upset. “Brant, you’re one my friends now, I mean you kind of have to be. You’re a great guy and everything is going to come back to her soon. I know it is.”

“I really hope so Ria, I really hope so,” Brant saw Ria move forward toward him as he shook his head slowly. After last night he really hoped that when she woke up in his arms she would finally remember who she was. What they had, but as things continued he could tell that everything he ever wanted seemed to be turning into a nightmare more and more each day. “It just doesn’t look good recently.”

“Hey, we will all work on it together,” she promised pressing her hand in over his shoulder and caressed it softly seeing the way that Brant looked out at her. “We’re all friends and we are going to get through this together.”

“I know, but why did you come up with that stupid idea?" Brant paced back and forth letting out a small sigh looking back at Ria seeing the way that she stared out at him confused about what he was saying. “You suggest dinner and that we will wait for Kevin and Angela. They still aren’t here Ria, do you have any idea what they might be doing? Ria, she thinks that Kevin is her man and that they are together. She could be jumping him right as we speak and we wouldn’t know anything because they would be alone together.”

“That would be a nice thought,” Ria smirked seeing Brant turn to her and look at her with a confused expression and she shrugged her shoulders before nodding toward the lawn to see Kevin and Angela moving up toward them. “Except they are right here.”

“You’re here,” Brant moved forward happily to see Kevin and Angela before him as he helped Angela up the steps before turning to Kevin angrily. “What took the two of you so long?"

“I was lying on the bed while she put her make up on,” Kevin answered with a small yawn before rubbing at his eyes and shrugging his shoulders. It was true what he just told Brant, he was waiting for Angela on the bed and fell asleep. Nothing more happened and he could tell by the look on Brant’s face that he didn’t believe him. “Trust me buddy, I didn’t do anything.”

“He’s just a sleepy big bear,” Angela moved in next to Kevin to wrap her arm around his waist feeling him hesitantly wrap his arms around her shoulders. Rubbing at the center of his muscled abdomen she saw his eyes close before shooting a look at Brant. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“No, not at all,” Brant answered seeing Kevin’s apologetic expression and he let out a small noise not sure what to say. Brant turned away from Kevin for a moment motioning Ria to the table before letting out a small noise. “I guess we should start to eat dinner before it gets cold like breakfast did.”

“Sounds good,” Ria decided taking a seat at the end of the table where Brant placed her and saw Kevin take a seat on the side next to her making room for Brant and Angela to be closer to each other. “I think we should get to eating before it’s cold. Brant did a great job in getting all this ready for us, didn’t you Brant?"

“You did all of this Brant?" Angela smiled in a question seeing Brant nod and smile before helping her into her seat carefully. Sitting down closest to her he saw Kevin smile before reaching for his water and finally realized what the two did. “You did a wonderful job Brant, you didn’t have to do all of this.”

“Well, I wanted to make it perfect for our great guests,” Brant offered up a wide smirk hoping that the plan they put together seemed to get them a little bit closer to what they all wanted in the long run. “You really look beautiful you know.”

“Thanks,” Angela smiled widely seeing the look that Brant gave her as he smiled and reached out to take the glass of water before him. Looking out to see him smirk at her, something in her heart hammered as she thought about how great he looked. Finally getting up the nerve to look away she reached out to set her hand on Kevin’s leg as he sat on the other side of her. Seeing him choke on his food before smiling and reaching down to give her hand a squeeze. Knowing that the things she was thinking about Brant were wrong and she felt bad after the way she had been treating Kevin. “I see you got a new shirt on Brant.”

“Yeah, see this one is actually clean,” Brant looked to Ria who motioned him to hold on his shirt as his nose wrinkled in questioning of what she wanted and he moved on with what she said. Holding his shirt out towards her he smiled before looking over at Ria. “This is one of Ria’s shirts, see it’s one hundred percent cotton.”

“It’s nice,” Angela laughed seeing the way he nodded before wiggling his eyebrow up and down at her as she touched it with her fingertips. “It’s really nice.”

“Anything you touch is real nice,” Brant muttered hearing Kevin choke before smirking and Brant glared out at him. Looking back toward his food he played around with it a bit and Brant rolled his eyes before looking to see Angela just pushing things around on her plate. “What’s wrong? You not hungry?"

“Hey Kevin,” Ria spoke up seeing him take another bite of his food while his brown eyes stared up at her from his plate. “Didn’t you say you found something you wanted to show me earlier?"

“No, I don’t think so,” Kevin began feeling her fingers pressing in over his thigh and felt her hand press in closer to his leg as his eyes widened. “I uh, yeah right. You have to show me that thing, by the garden and oh damn. It’s something.”

“Wait, what?" Brant watched Kevin bite down on his bottom lip before tightening his eyebrows together and jumped up from his seat with his legs slightly shaky. “Whoa, where are you two going.”

“There’s a snake and I just wanted him to check it out before it destroyed the flowers,” Ria explained seeing Angela nod before looking to Brant seeing the confusion behind his brown eyes and Kevin grabbed another piece of bread before walking down the steps of the deck with it in his mouth. “We’re not so hungry, so don’t worry about us. Right Kevin?"

“Right,” Kevin nodded with a mouth full of the bread before throwing the rest to the side. Gulping down the mouthful roughly he let out a small noise before rubbing his stomach slowly. “I’m stuffed, so we’ll go check it out. Why don’t you two just have a good dinner.”

“But…,” Angela saw Kevin and Ria start to walk down the grass toward the large garden. Turning her attention to Brant she saw him shake his head before taking a long sip of his water. “I guess it’s just us again. I don’t know why it seems that the world keeps Kevin and I apart constantly.”

“I don’t know, I’m starting to like your company. That’s not a bad thing,” Brant offered up a wide smile seeing her smirk and look down toward the center of her lap. He was trying everything he could to just get her to remember him somehow whether it was wearing the clothes that he wore when they spent it together on the beach or when they had special moments together. No matter what he did, all he seemed to get from her was a laugh and smirk. “You know you can smile sometimes. You have a beautiful smile.”

“Kevin tells me that all the time,” she whispered seeing Brant nod simply before taking a long sip of his drink. Knowing that the moment seemed to be a bit off she stood up from her seat and moved over toward the stairs of the deck. “It’s getting pretty dark out.”

“Well, it is getting late,” he saw her trying to avoid him and he stood up from his seat moving in behind her and pressing his arms in over her shoulders. “I think that usually happens when it gets late.”

“Yeah, that was a real stupid way to start conversation wasn’t it?" she questioned looking back over her shoulder at Brant seeing his smile widen before nodding. Feeling a bit awkward staring into his brown eyes she stared up at the darkening sky before letting out a long sigh. “I don’t know what to talk about sadly, so I was trying to come up with something to say.”

“Well, it was a good way to start up something,” he teased hearing a small laugh fall from her lips and he just loved to hear her laugh. It was something he lived for, her smile, her laugh the look she gave him when she was happy. It was the same look she gave him now, but it had more meaning behind it when she was really herself. It was something important, something that only they could share together and it was the thing that he started to miss the most. “How are you feeling?"

“I’ve been better, I’ve been worst I suppose,” she turned toward him seeing his beautiful eyes staring down into hers and she felt a moment of hesitation and looked away from him. “I just feel super fat right now is all. It figures that I get with a huge guy and in the process have a huge stomach.”

“Oh, he’s not that big,” Brant reached down to run the back of his hand in over her stomach referring more to himself, but he knew that she was thinking of Kevin. It killed him inside to have her thinking that Kevin was the man of the children growing inside of her. Seeing her pull away from him after his movement and walk down the stairs he paused not quite sure knowing what Kevin and Ria were really doing. “You know Angela, I don’t think I want you around any snakes right now.”

“Do you think that it will end up getting in the guest house?" she questioned seeing him looking over at the garden and between the guest house before she moved out further in the yard. “I don’t want Kevin getting bit by anything.”

“I’m sure he’ll be okay, he’s a big guy,” Brant stopped her softly seeing the way she stared out at him as he grabbed her hand in his tenderly while leading her in the opposite direction of Kevin and Ria. Thinking of something to do he knew that Kevin and Ria had some issues when it came to these kind of things. “I want to show you something in the garden. It’s something you’ll really love.”


Moving up the steps to Deana’s apartment, Grady planned on spending some time with his girlfriend after everything that had taken place today. Moving toward her room, he knocked on the door and expected it to take a minute or so only to have the door fly open. Seeing Jason before him Grady was almost ready to turn back seeing the glare he got while Jason left the door open and plopped down on the couch.

“Were you expecting the pizza delivery guy or something?" Grady teased seeing Jason run his thick fingers through his gelled up hair and Grady let out a small laugh. Jason’s blue eyes met his as he shook his head and looked back to the television leaving Grady wondering what was wrong. “Uh, I was just playing with you kiddo. Is something wrong?"

“No, I’ve just been waiting for some people,” Jason added seeing Grady nod taking a seat on the edge of the couch. Raising his feet up he gave Grady some room to sit before letting out a long sigh. He’d been waiting forever and forever didn’t seem to go fast enough for what he was waiting for. “I’m sorry, it’s not like you are a burden or anything.”

“No, I just think I was the guy that had a hole glared right through him,” Grady smirked seeing Jason tilt his head to the side before nodding and letting out a deep breath. Looking Jason over he let out a small laugh at the way he was dressed. “Since when did Mr. Clean become your stylist?"

“What?" Jason looked down at his clothes looking down at the light blue checkered button down shirt he had open over his white tank top. It wasn’t much different from what he usually wore with tan khaki shorts and white tennis shoes that he worked hard on keeping clean. “I didn’t think the cowboy hat would fit well.”

“Oh goodness,” Grady covered his eyes after hearing Jason’s accent that was added to the sentence and was sadly reminded of one of his favorite westerns. “You know, you sound like one of my favorite Western movie stars.”

“And you remind me of my grandpa,” Jason smirked seeing Grady rest his head back against the couch after being teased so much about that and Jason let out a long laugh. “So, what’s your point?"

“I was just trying to start up some conversation spunky,” Grady whispered seeing Jason raise his eyebrow up and nod before taking in a long breath. Looking around the room he already came to the conclusion that Deana wasn’t home, that was obvious when Jason had been sitting with him for a while. “So you never did tell me, who are you waiting for?"

“I’m just going to be going out with some friends,” Jason answered never taking his blue eyes off the television as he watched what was going on in the movie before him. “We’re just going to go out and have some fun. See a movie, maybe something afterwards. Whatever she wants really.”

“Ah, I see,” Grady laughed at how Jason contradicted himself in his statement before seeing Jason glance over at him like something was wrong. Looking down at his watch Grady knew that Deana had to be home soon and he let out a long sigh. “So really friends means you are just going out with Mindy.”

“Uh, yeah,” Jason simply nodded knowing that he couldn’t lie to Grady about something so stupid. Especially when she would be showing up any minute for them to leave and he smiled widely at the thought. “She just wanted to hang out today.”

“And I can see by the smile that’s swallowing your face that you are quite happy it’s just going to be the two of you,” Grady pointed out in the obvious moment seeing the shy shrug that Jason offered up and he let out a long laugh. “So you like her, don’t you?"

“No, I mean she is just my friend and…,” Jason went to say more before meeting Grady’s green eyes and he let out a small noise. He never wanted to admit to anyone that he liked her, well not anyone around here at least. She was a sweet girl and he didn’t want to make it seem like something weird was going on now that he had what he thought to be a huge crush. “Okay, I like her. She’s amazing, she’s beautiful and sweet. She’s just great Grady, you don’t even know how great she is.”

“I’m guessing by how many times you just said the word great in one sentence that you mean she’s…great,” Grady couldn’t help but tease seeing Jason roll his eyes and stand up from the couch to the floor. Watching a pacing Jason, Grady rested his arm back against the back of the couch and thought things over for a moment. “The only thing I can offer you up as advice since I know the situation at hand is to give her some time to adjust as friends and if she wants more in the relationship, then you will get more not in a disgusting way.”

“You’re right, you are exactly right. If she likes me then she will let me know, but until then…,” Jason moved over toward the door hearing a soft knock at it and he quickly moved toward the door taking a minute before slowly opening it up. “Mindy, you ready to go?"

“Yup, let’s go,” Mindy motioned him to follow her with a wide smile waving at Grady and Deana as Deana moved into the apartment leaving them alone. “I’ll have him back on time.”

“Okay,” Deana laughed turning to Grady as they shut the door after the two left and she let out a long noise seeing his green eyes staring out at her. “Did he actually put cologne on for her? Wow, that kid has a huge crush.”


“I can’t believe that you’re making me do this,” Heather huffed stomping her foot down now that she and Kyle stood on the sidewalk with one another leading up to Russ and Avery’s house. “Of all the sneaky, slimy, lowdown things to do to me, this ranks right up on the top of the list. What are you trying to punish me for what you saw yesterday with that movie?”

“Heather,” Kyle frowned looking over to her and shaking his head disapprovingly, “Now first of all you know that I of all people in this world would never try to punish you for something like that. I thought I told you how I felt about the issue. I promised you that we would work on finding out who was trying to hurt you with your past together and as for what it means to me, it doesn’t change anything. You are my wife and I love you with all of my heart.”

“Then why bring me here?” she curled her lip in a pout refusing to make any further movement towards the door. “You know that I cannot for the life of me stand that woman. Her goody-goody act makes me want to vomit especially when she’s pretending to be so much better than the world around her. She acts all sanctimonious and…”

“And Russ and Avery are both two of my closest friends. I’ve known them for almost half of my life here and I’m not about to shut them out of our lives just because you and Avery have had a few misunderstandings with one another in the past,” Kyle informed her with a simple shrug of his shoulders turning to attempt to approach the house again. He felt her tug on his arm pulling him back to her.

“Kyle, now I know that you mean well and I’ll be honest, Russ is pretty decent. Granted he’s a little obsessive over Avery and it makes him look just a bit pathetic, but beyond that he’s nice enough. Avery on the other hand, well I have to be honest with you when I tell you it’s a toss up about who I would rather be stuck in a room with between her and Sarah. The woman is malicious and vindictive and…”

“And in case you haven’t noticed you two are no longer fighting over Brant,” Kyle interrupted seeing her fall to silence at his words. He couldn’t help but read the expression on her face before he continued, “I mean that’s what this all started with, wasn’t it?”

“Well, no, not really, but…” Heather curled her lip in a pout before offering up a huff, “Okay, so maybe it had a little something to do with Brant, but you know she had no right to discredit me with him. He obviously still cared about me and…”

“And would you rather be married to Brant right now?” Kyle arched a curious brow seeing something flash behind Heather’s eyes.

“You have to be kidding me, right?” she huffed in response glaring at him with a new scowl. Shaking her head she took a small step towards him, “Now why would you ask something that stupid?”

“Well,” he scratched his chin attempting to tease her a bit, “you’re talking about how much you hate Avery, but that all seems to go back to the time when you were obsessed with winning Brant over again. You obviously didn’t like the fact that she’d captured his attention when you were doing oh so much to try to charm him. Kind of put a crimp in your plans, yes?”

“Of course it did and I almost had him before she…” she stopped herself shaking her head furiously, “Kyle you know that’s not what I mean. You’re making me twist my own words and…”

“And what you’re trying to say is that while you once hoped to spend the rest of your life with Brant, you opened up your eyes to the fact that there was clearly someone out there who was much better for you,” he reached out to her curling his strong arm around her slender waist and drawing her nearer to him. “Someone who loved you for all that you are and someone who in his own incredibly amazing way made you realize that what you had with Brant paled in comparison to what you have with him now.”

Heather couldn’t help but smile snaking her arms around his neck and leaning in towards him, “Yeah I think that’s something along the lines of what I’m trying to say right now.”

“And I also think you’re telling me that you love me very much, so you’ll do what you can to make me happy just like I would do for you even if it means realizing that the feud with Avery is a thing of the past now that you two have both moved on to men who love you like Russ and I do, right?” he questioned with a hint of hopefulness in his tone causing her to realize that somehow in the course of their conversation he’d picked her up and pulled her onto the porch with him. She watched him reach out to ring the bell and she frowned.

“Kyle, you’re not being fair. Avery hates me and even if I did play nice with her, she’s never going to let things go between us. She holds a grudge and she’s wicked. She’s not everyone’s little sweetheart like she leads people to believe. She’s cold and calculating and…” her words were brought to an abrupt ending by the feel of Kyle’s lips crashing down over hers.

She curled her lips in a small pout thinking about the words on the tip of her tongue, but somehow they became nonsensical when she felt Kyle’s lips beckon hers. His arm pushed her in against his strong chest possessively reminding her that he was all man beside her. Remembering the lines of his oh so perfect body, Heather couldn’t help but melt into the kiss wanting and needing more that her husband had to offer her with each skilled caress of his lips against hers. When his tongue met hers in a persuasive stroke, she felt all her thoughts of Avery going right out of her now that her attention settled in on Kyle and his strong arms--on his amazingly talented hands and his body that could provide her with pleasures that went well beyond anything any woman could’ve ever experienced in her life before. He was truly divine--the man she’d been destined to be with and as she found herself pondering the things she’d love to continue doing with him, she heard the sound of the door opening behind them.

“Well this is just great,” Avery snarled with heavy sarcasm in her tone watching as Kyle and Heather parted. Heather looked up to Avery seeing the dark, hateful stare that Avery’s brown eyes tossed out at her. In that instant Heather realized Kyle had shot her straight up to the heavens with his kiss only to have her yanked right down to hell with her old adversary glaring down at her and making her realize that tonight was going to be nothing short of pure disaster once she and Avery were forced to spend time in the same house with one another. It was truly going to be the kind of night that nightmares were made of. She was sure of it!


Blake pushed her way in through the front door to her new home and found herself to struggling to keep from dropping the bags that she’d carried with her. It was bad enough that she had waited so long after the tire went flat to get them into the house and into a place where they could keep cool, but now that she’d spotted Seth’s car in the garage she wanted nothing more than to just push the day behind her and start with a quiet night with Seth.

“Blake is that you?” Seth questioned walking around the corner to find her standing before him with an overabundance of bags in her arms. Without another word he rushed forward to take some from her preventing them from spilling all over the floor like she feared that they would.

“Thanks,” she let out a sigh of relief feeling the load much lighter now that he’d taken a majority of the bags, “I just didn’t want to make two trips and I really thought I could handle them all at once.”

“You should’ve called and told me you were here. I would’ve walked out to the car to help,” he admitted setting the bags he’d taken from her on the counter top. He turned around to see her setting the last of her bags on the counter as well before he noticed the big grease spot that covered the top half of her chest. “Blake, what happened?”

“I had a flat tire,” she admitted wiping her arm across her forehead before motioning to the dress he’d noticed, “Isn’t it nice to see what something like that can do to a new buy? I picked this up earlier to surprise you and look special when you got home. I had this whole dinner planned out for us--this big, romantic evening, but then my tire went out and I got held up…”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Seth moved in closer to her seeing the frustrations on her face. Instinctively he reached out to touch her cheek gently, “You still look amazingly beautiful.”

“You’re biased because you love me,” she couldn’t help but smile at his words. She leaned into his touch and sighed again, “I was just so ahead of schedule with my shopping that I wanted to surprise you and show you that I had everything in order for the picnic. Then naturally I got the flat and the rest, well that’s history I suppose.”

“You should’ve called me. I would’ve come right over to help you,” he explained glancing down at her dress again, “That way you wouldn’t have gotten that dress messed up since I know you must’ve been proud of it.”

“Believe it or not this happened before I even got the tire out of the trunk,” she sighed pushing a strand of her long, blonde hair out of her face, “This was just me trying to figure out how to change the tire. If I hadn’t gotten help, I would still be at the side of the road figuring it out.”

“You mean you don’t know how to change a tire?” his eyes widened in response. He saw her glare up at him and he raised his hands in the air defensively, “I’m just saying. I didn’t mean to offend you it’s just that, well by the time Jade was nine she and I both knew how to change a tire.”

“Yeah, well I didn’t exactly grow up like you and Jade. My father felt I was a princess so he had Simon do all the work on the cars,” she informed him with a wrinkled expression, “Hell if he would’ve had his way I never would’ve even learned to drive since he felt that limos were the best way of getting around. I fought him tooth and nail to let me take driver‘s training.”

“Good thing for you that you were stubborn enough to make sure that didn’t happen,” he offered up seeing her blue eyes flicker with irritation. “Hey, but you’re home right?”

“Yeah,” she nodded with a small sigh, “One of Kenny’s friends saw me stranded and he helped me change the tire. He decided I wouldn’t need to call my brothers and bother them since Brant thinks I’m a juvenile still. It figures though, doesn’t it? He can’t even be honest with the woman he loves about their twisted relationship, yet he’s going to lecture me on mine. I swear sometimes I think he just needs to let me have my space.”

“I take it you two were fighting last night when I asked you about it. I thought that you said nothing was wrong,” he searched her eyes again.

“He was just getting on my case about wanting to get pregnant. Did you know his girlfriend is having twins?” she blurted out with another huff throwing her hands in the air, “Twins Seth. He claims they met up on the beach one whopping time before they reconnected and she got pregnant. They were practically strangers and she’s having not one, but two babies.”

“Hey,” he brushed his fingers against the side of her face gently, “When the time is right it’ll happen for us. We’ll have our own children in the future.”

“Yeah, but it just burns me to no end to hear my brother telling me to wait it off. Like, who the hell is he to tell me if and when I can get pregnant?” she wrinkled her nose at the memory of her brother’s words. Sighing she shook her head in an attempt to banish the thought, “If he would’ve known I couldn’t change a tire, he would’ve given me the you’re too young to get serious lecture part two.”

“He’s only looking out for you,” Seth reminded her hating to see her upset with her brother, “Besides maybe he’s got a point about the timing. I mean I’m not exactly divorced yet.”

“I thought Grady was working on that,” she tipped her head up to look at him again, “I thought he was making progress.”

“He was, but Valerie’s skipped town again. Apparently she is taking her sweet time in getting the papers in and her lawyer is dodging Grady’s calls,” Seth frowned thinking about the bad news he’d been delivered, “It’s just one thing after another with her.”

“She can’t keep doing that, can she?” she couldn’t help but ask worry sweeping in over her.

“I’m not sure how long she can stall, but it won’t be forever,” Seth promised sliding his thick fingers into her long, blonde hair, “but I promise you when this is over, we’ll finally be able to have the kind of wedding you’ve been dreaming about. It’ll be perfect and…”

“It’s perfect as long as you’ll be the one standing at the altar with me,” she smiled arching up on her toes to lean in closer to him. She placed her hand on his chest and smiled lovingly, “because you’re all that I want Seth.”

“You’re all I could ever need,” he promised in a small whisper leaning down to brush his lips against hers tenderly. He curled his arm around her waist squeezing her in closer to him before she let out a yelp.

“Seth wait,” she pushed away from him her gaze dropping down to the center of his chest, “You’re going to get grease all over you since this stuff on my dress is just plain disgusting.”

“I think I’ll risk it,” he moved in for another kiss only to feel her palms flatten out over his shoulders.

“No, I need to get changed and we need to put all of this away,” she motioned to the bags he’d carried in, “Those three over there need to go into the refrigerator and the rest, well we need to put them in the pantry. They aren’t going to spoil, but those three…”

“I’m on it,” Seth sighed stepping back and turning to grab the bags in question. Picking them up in one hand he carried them over to the refrigerator and started to put them onto the shelves in front of him. “Now are you sure that this is all that needs to go in here?”

“Yep and the rest of it should go into the pantry until the party,” she added as Seth stood upright preparing to close the refrigerator door. He was mid-swing when he spotted something flying across the kitchen. Looking down to the top of the door, he realized that Blake’s sundress lay clumsily over the corner of the door. He picked it up deftly with his thumb and his finger before turning around to see her standing in front of him wearing only a pair of white, lacy panties.

“I said I needed to change,” she informed him dropping her arms down to her sides. She tossed her long, blonde hair back over her shoulders before puffing her chest out in an attention getting move.

Without a word Seth bumped the refrigerator door to a close, his gaze sweeping over her curves ravenously. His eyes settled in over her long legs before he noticed that she’d still been wearing the white, high heeled shoes she must’ve picked up to go with her outfit as well. She started to shake one off of her foot before he moved in closer to her pulling her into his arms.

“No leave them on,” Seth mouthed picking her up in his arms before she could discard her shoes.

“Really?” her blue eyes widened with mischief sparked over her features.

“Yeah, I kind of like them,” he nodded feeling her reach down to pull his shirt out from where he’d had it tucked in his pants. He felt her hands slide in over his bronzed, muscled body and within a matter of seconds his shirt joined her dress on the floor.

“Funny because I think I like you better without the shirt and perhaps these as well,” she grinned a playfulness in her tone. She wiggled out of his arms ever so slightly before unclasping his belt and allowing his pants to fall to the floor in a lightening quick movement. Licking her lips, she took in the lines of his body and eyed him approvingly before moving in to slide her fingers out over his chest. “Yes I think this is a big improvement for you.”

“Hmm, well in that case, who am I to argue that point,” he curled his arm around her waist, fingers settling in at the top of her panties just below the small of her back. He dipped his fingers down to cup her full bottom before pulling her in flush against him, “Though I can’t help but remember you saying something about the groceries needing to be put away.”

“We’ll get back to that later,” she coiled her arm around his waist, while one hand slid up into his hair, tangling it between her fingers and urging him to bend down to meet her lips in a heated kiss knowing full well that right now groceries were about to take a very big backseat to passion now that she had Seth all to herself in their new home, “much, much later.”


Michelle heard a knocking at her hotel room door that brought her away from the television screen where they were doing a segment on Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. She’d been sucked into the report for a while now thinking about all the publicity that clearly followed the relationship and the money that would’ve surely followed such a media frenzy.

“Hell Katie, I would’ve married him, took his money and ran for my life,” Michelle noted sliding up off of the bed and reaching for the remote. She turned the television volume down and sauntered over to the door wondering who in the world was coming over to annoy her this time. She had gotten a call from Valerie earlier, but she hadn’t said much more than she was taking time away and something about Seth, but Michelle hadn’t really paid attention. Could’ve been because Michelle really didn’t care, she thought to herself and laughed before opening up the door to find Andy standing in front of her.

“Hey beautiful,” he grinned down at her, reaching out to pull her into an embrace. His lips came crashing down over hers, before his hand squeezed her bottom firmly and pulled her into him. After a few seconds he pulled away from the kiss and held out a garment bag for her, “I bought you something.”

“You did?” her eyes widened in response, then delight as she eagerly accepted the token he’d carried in with him. She rushed back into her room hearing him close the door behind her before she set the garment bag down on the bed. She noticed the name on it and got all excited at the possibility of what it could be, “Oh I like this store. It’s so expensive and classy.”

“Somehow the fact that it’s expensive sang out to me when I thought of you,” he laughed lightly seeing her carefully unzip the bag to reveal the white print sundress inside. She eyed it with heavy speculation before turning to him.

“Okay, I don’t get it,” she frowned taking a step away from the bed and eyeing the dress with a strange look, “Don’t you think that’s a little conservative for me?”

“I think it’s sexy as hell,” he wrapped his arm around her waist, his palm pushing up over her body to knead her softness between his fingers. His lips lowered to the side of her neck and he nibbled on her skin, “I want you to wear it.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she sighed tipping her head back to feel his kisses over her skin. He gently bit down on her shoulder before his hand pressed in over her hip.

“Wear it,” he instructed firmly pushing her away from him and towards the bed. “Put it on now!”

“Now?” she repeated giving him a strange look, “As in right this instant.”

“That’s right,” he nodded stepping back to take a seat in the chair across the room. He kept his gaze on the dress, watching her pull it out from the garment bag. He saw her hold it up to her figure inspecting the design again before he cleared his throat, “It cost a fortune so you’ll feel good wearing it.”

“Well yeah, but it looks so plain,” she pushed the oversized t-shirt she’d been wearing over her head before reaching for the sundress again.

“I’ve got some shoes for you too,” he noted thinking about how he’d been careful to select everything the same way as it had been when he’d found Blake stranded by her car. Even now the memory of her leaning in through the car window, displaying her perfectly curved bottom had him hotter than hell. He glanced over at Michelle seeing that she’d just about gotten herself situated in the dress. She walked over to the mirror and took a long look at herself.

“I guess it’s not that bad,” she decided playing with the skirt a little bit and taking in the flirty frills it had to offer. Smiling she glanced over at Andy in the mirror, “Okay, so maybe you didn’t do so bad. It’s decent.”

“It’s better than decent,” he mouthed in a low, throaty whisper feeling his body grow tight at the memory of Blake Ashford leaning up against the side of the car her long legs practically inviting him to take control over her. Smiling to himself he approached Michelle seeing her admiring herself in the mirror.

“So what do you think?” she couldn’t help but ask, her grin growing with the moment as her eyes met his.

“We're not there yet, but we will be very soon. Now do what I tell you,” he instructed stepping in behind her, his hand pressing in on her hip again.

“What?” she blinked back at him surprised by the harshness of his tone.

“Just do what I say Michelle,” he urged her again, a raciness in his tone. His lips nuzzled the side of her neck, biting down on her creamy soft skin. He felt her move beside him, shimmying herself against him. Smiling to himself he closed his eyes and imagined that he was back at the car--back where Blake had been stranded and needing him more than ever. Instinctively, he ran his fingers over the front of the dress, feeling Michelle writhe in against him.

“My you are feeling playful today, aren’t you?” she purred against his touch arching back into his hardened form, “And here I thought that we were going to talk business.”

“We are going to talk business,” he promised sliding his hand in up underneath her skirt to press his fingers between her thighs imagining the way Blake would respond to his attention. He raised his head up again, focusing on Michelle’s reflection in the mirror and he found himself envisioning Blake wanting him to take her as he’d anticipated doing back by her car. How he would’ve thrown her over the back of the car and claimed her in a way that would cause her innocent, spoiled, pampered princess act to fall apart at the seams. She’d be panting and begging for more just as Michelle was in the here and now.

“Cary…” she arched back into him curling her arm around his neck and coaxing him to continue. Her lips sought out his and he stopped himself taking the time to focus on her mouth.

“Call me Andy,” he mouthed back at her tugging on her hair roughly and forcing her to a kiss.

“I thought we were done with the games,” she pulled away from him, her dark eyes meeting his with confusion. “I thought that we didn’t have to pretend with one another.”

“Tonight I want you to call me Andy and do exactly everything I tell you,” he warned her pressing his hand up over her lips to silence her. “Do you understand?”

She nodded back at him, giving in to his request. Smiling, he touched her hair again thinking about the fantasy that had played out in his mind. He’d been so close to his next target and yet so far away. When Blake stood before him in that dress taunting him in ways that he hadn’t been teased by in years, he felt an old fire awaken inside of him. He’d felt it when Angela used to hang around the boxing ring showing off all of her assets and trying to get him to play with her. Oh he’d played with her alright and she’d loved every single second of it. Of course at the time she’d already been tainted by Kevin. She’d had too much baggage and it had spoiled what Cary was going for, but with Blake--she still had that fire--still had that thing that most men dreamt about. It was clear by the way she’d been so very sexy and completely unaware of the power she held over a man. It was intoxicating and addictive and he knew he had to have it.

“Oh Andy,” Michelle sighed her body spiking with pleasure as he spun her in his arms pushing her across the room towards the bed. She touched his chest ready to peel him from his clothing until his hands stopped her.

“No, not like this,” he shook his head at her spinning her away from him again. Feeling her whimper against him, he looked up to see the local news report on the screen. They were talking about the community center that Blake was putting together. An image of her flashed over the screen causing him to feel even more desperate than ever to have her.

“Andy…” Michelle purred his name again attempting to reach out to him when his hand pressed in over the back of her neck.

“I said don’t say anything,” he mouthed pushing her face down over the side of the couch in her room. Taking in a breath he focused on the television screen in front of him in an attempt to create the kind of fantasy his mind had conjured up about Blake Ashford. With each second he spent with Michelle, he kept his eyes glued to the screen vowing that sooner rather than later Blake would be all his. Not even Seth would be able to stop him from achieving that goal!


“Now remember follow my lead,” Alexa warned turning her attention to Ben once again, “We can’t afford to let this go any way other than what I’ve been hoping for.”

“It won’t,” Ben informed her seeing the black car in front of them with the tinted windows. It was hard to tell if anyone was inside, but as they were closer to breaking open the case he found himself caught up in a moment of nervousness.

“Just remember I’ll do most of the talking,” she warned him again waving her finger at him. He nodded knowing there was no point in arguing since Alexa obviously wanted to be the one in control of tonight’s activities. Still thinking about the gun on his leg Ben hoped that nothing would get to the point of no return for them.

“Let’s go,” Alexa beckoned him from his thoughts. He nodded pushing the car door open and stepping out onto the pier.

At first glance it seemed quiet--too quiet and in the dark sky, there were thunder clouds rolling in the distance serving only too well as a reminder that it was storm season in Florida--no where near the kind of weather that lead high school or college kids down to celebrate for spring break. It was miserable and the night was moody--dark even which fit considering the circumstances they were stepping into. He glanced over at Alexa seeing her armed with her cover she’d been working in for the last six months. If nothing else he’d give her credit for being determined. She was one of the few who had been willing to brave getting involved in a case like this so early on in her career, yet she appeared to master it like a pro now that they were ready to make the next big lead in it.

“It’s quiet,” she noted with a small whisper, her eyes surveying the pier around them.

“Too quiet,” Ben added glancing over at the car again, “Shouldn’t someone be out here?”

“You would think,” she pointed over to the car, “that should be Domingo over there.”

“Let’s check it out,” Ben suggested as they weaved off in the new direction moving in to take a closer look.

“Something doesn’t feel right,” Alexa confessed feeling herself clinging to the purse that was on her hip.

“Not at all,” Ben’s thoughts returned to the gun he’d been carrying on him. Even though Alexa had been worried about their bringing weapons something about the feel in the air had them both on edge. It wasn’t until they moved around to the front of the Lincoln Town car that Ben’s worries were reconfirmed.

“Oh my God,” Alexa gasped seeing a man leaning over the front of the wheel. It would’ve appeared that he was sleeping except for the fact that the man who was seated beside him was leaning back into the headrest on the seat with a bright, red bullet hole in the center of his forehead. Another gasp rushed over Alexa as she fished into her purse seeking out her gun, “Ben that’s Domingo.”

“I know,” Ben replied drawing his weapon as well and making his way around to the side of the car. Without hesitation he reached out for the door crouching down at it’s side and pulling on the handle. The door swung open readily and a man dropped to the ground onto his side.

“Oh my God. Ben that’s Guerrero!” Alexa blurted out realizing that everyone in the car had been executed mercenary style with a single bullet to the head. “I don’t believe this.”

“It looks like someone made damn sure that he wasn’t here to make this meeting tonight,” Ben mouthed in response exchanging glances with her now that it seemed that their case took a whole new spin that sent them down a collision course with danger head on!


...to be continued...