Episode 389

“What’s going on up there?” Diane shrieked bringing her knees up to her chest. She felt a shiver race over her now that she sank closer to the corner of the elevator silently praying that the lights would just go back on. “What was that noise?”

“I don’t know,” Shane replied tentatively setting his bag down on the floor beside Diane, “but I’m sure whatever it is it’ll be fixed shortly. I’ll just go over to the control panel and get someone on the emergency phone to see what’s going on.”

“Good idea,” Diane nodded in agreement squeezing her legs in closer to her chest and waiting for a response from Shane. She closed her eyes tightly saying a silent prayer over and over to get her out of the situation she was in.

“I don’t believe this,” Shane groaned causing Diane’s eyes to snap open with a start.

“Believe what,” she questioned feeling tension coiling over each and every inch of her body, “What is it?”

“The phone in here,” Shane stepped aside to reveal the iridescent lighting of the box the emergency phone was supposed to be in, “is missing.”

“What do you mean missing?” her voice raised as she followed the soft blue glow to see him holding onto the phone cord that revealed no phone. “Oh my God this can’t be happening. I can’t really be trapped in here with a stranger about to end my life.”

“You’re not going to end your life. I promise you,” he saw her starting to panic and released the phone cord. He rushed over to her side taking a seat beside her, “Besides we’re not strangers. I’m Shane and you’re Diane.”

“And that’s really not going to help us get out of this situation, is it?” she questioned with a huff before motioning to his bag, “unless of course you have a cell phone in there.”

“As a matter of fact,” he reached for his bag opening the top of it, “I do. That’s a great idea.”

“Thank God,” she let out a breath she hadn’t been aware she’d been holding, “I left mine back up in Deidra’s apartment before and…”

“There’s no signal,” Shane frowned holding the phone out to show her. He could see the visible upset behind her eyes, but knew that she needed to see that he was at least trying. Now as he scooted on the floor beside her he reached into his bag again looking for something.

“If you have rope in there and you tell me we’re going to climb up the elevator shaft I think I’ll kiss you,” she mouthed thinking about a quick escape out of the metal hell that they had seemingly found themselves in. It had been bad enough when she’d locked herself out of Deidra’s apartment, but now to be trapped in such cramped quarters without any means of escaping.

“I wish I did, but I only have this,” he informed her honestly pulling a laptop computer out of his bag, “while the cell phone isn’t getting any kind of signal, this might.”

“Do you really think that a laptop is going to help us in this situation,” she huffed seeing him boot up his computer. Immediately the screen popped up giving a soft glow of light in the elevator that made it a little less terrifying. Instinctively she leaned in closer to him hoping to find a little way of staying out of the dark.

“It’s worth a shot isn’t it?” he tipped his head to the side eyeing her intently while the computer booted up. “I’m sure with all the wireless networks in this place we’ll get a connection.”

“And if we don’t? What then?” she couldn’t help but ask her fears mounting, “It’s late and people aren’t exactly going to be rushing to the elevators here.”

“I realize that, but…” he stopped himself, a grin sweeping over his features, “would you look at that?”

“What?” she questioned pressing her fingers in over his shoulder to take a look at the screen in front of her.

“We got a signal,” he informed her proudly clicking open an instant messenger program. She watched him sign in with his screen name before a list of contacts popped up before her.

“Wow, you have a lot of friends, don’t you?” she noted the list of names that flashed up on the screen in front of her.

“No, not really,” he shrugged his shoulders simply ignoring most of the names while he scrolled down the list searching for a specific one. “It’s just mostly work related. I have to be in the know and this kind of gives me quick access to what I’m searching for most of the time.”

“If you have a magic way to get the elevator moving again without it crashing down to the ground, then I’m all for your long list of contacts,” she replied nervously watching him click on one of the names he’d sought out. He began to type away and she craned her neck to read what he was saying. Unable to get a clear view she scooted in closer to him. “Who are you talking to? What are you telling them?”

“I’m speaking with a good friend of mine,” he explained typing in a few more words before sending the message, “I asked them to call the apartment complex and arrange for them to get someone here to fix the elevator situation.”

“You can do that?” she eyed him curiously, “I mean are you sure your friend would pull those kind of strings for us?”

“Trust me. I don’t think my friend is going to let either one of us die considering how important we both are,” he teased with a small wink before the person responded and he started to type again. Turning his head to he side he looked to her and smiled, “It’s going to be okay. They are making the call now.”

“Good,” Diane nodded pressing her back up against the elevator wall. She closed her eyes and thought back to another time and place--to when she was with Ben and things were much calmer--much smoother. She would give anything to go back to when she and Ben had been with one another back in Florida soaking up the sun.

“Someone’s coming on down to work on it,” Shane informed her breaking through her thoughts of the man she was missing. “It sounds like there’s some kind of power outage in the area that hit just a couple of blocks. We are just the unfortunate two to be stuck in the middle of it.”

“Yet we’re able to get an internet connection,” Diane arched a doubtful brow thinking about the likelihood of what he was telling her.

“Hey, I didn’t make it up. I’m just telling you what was passed on to me,” he sighed shaking his head and typing one more thing on the computer before moving to close it.

“No don’t,” she reached out to place her hand on top of his to prevent him from shutting it off. Her dark eyes met his with a worried expression before she spoke up again, “I’m kind of afraid of the dark especially in being trapped in a place like this. I know it sounds silly, but…”

“It’s not silly at all,” he replied with a supportive glance removing his hand and keeping the laptop open. “In fact if you would like I can put on some music or a movie or something.”

“You have movies in there?” her eyes widened in response seeing something flash behind his eyes before he offered up a sheepish grin.

“Nothing that is really gripping,” he reached into his bag and pulled out a DVD case, “It wasn’t for me exactly but I had it with me.”

“What is it?” she questioned reaching out to snatch the case from him only to read the name on the cover, “The Little Mermaid?”

“What can I say?” he shrugged his shoulders, “I thought it would be a nice change from the norm when I picked it up.”

“You said it wasn’t for you,” she eyed him closely, “So who is it for? Your children? Your girlfriend?”

“Nope, I don’t have children,” he informed her with a simple shake of his head, “or a girlfriend. What about you?”

“I’m engaged, though my fiancé is away right now,” she confessed her thoughts lingering to Ben once again, “Though I would give anything to have him here with me right now.”

“I’m sure he would give anything to be here with you too considering that he’s clearly a lucky man to have a girlfriend like you,” he replied in a soft tone, his brown eyes reaching out to her again.

“I’m the lucky one,” she tipped her head up catching the way he was watching her and she felt another warmth carry over her. She bit down on her lower lip nervously before her gaze dropped down to his lips and she found herself thinking thoughts she hadn’t thought in a long time--not since she and Ben had found their way to one another. Turning away she cleared her throat uneasily, “Though I have to tell you even though this situation is one of the last ones that I would want to be in at this point in time the Little Mermaid is one of my favorite movies.”

“Mine too,” he revealed with a tiny laugh, “but I wasn’t about to own up to that until you told me it was your favorite since it makes me look like a bit of a wimp.”

“Why would you say that?” she tipped her head to the side, her long hair sweeping off of the back of her shoulder. “I think it’s sweet that a man can like something so romantic.”

“You’re one in a minority then Diane because my last girlfriend thought it was ridiculous that I enjoyed cartoons,” he laughed lightly shaking his head, “She was more of an action flick kind of gal and didn’t appreciate my softer side. She said it made me weak.”

“She sounds kind of like a jerk,” she noted thinking about how the man beside her had gone out of his way to try to help her when she was losing her mind. “You’re better off without her I’m sure.”

“I didn’t think so,” he admitted honestly, his eyes sweeping over her again, “at least not until now.”

“Well see then maybe our being stuck here is doing something good for you,” she motioned to the DVD case again, “So why don’t we put this in and watch the movie until help arrives?”

“It sounds like a plan,” he nodded in agreement ready to put on their new distraction to keep either one of them from focusing on the situation that they’d happened to find themselves in with one another. Even in the darkened elevator there was still a way to make the most of the time they had to stay in there with one another.


“Where are you?” Ben frowned realizing that this was the third time he’d called Diane with no answer. It wasn’t like her to keep her cell phone anywhere, but attached to her side. Now that he sat in Alexa’s apartment thinking about how he hadn’t touched base with Diane in a while, he was starting to worry about her. Remembering how Andy had upset her before, he hoped that Andy hadn’t had the chance to do so again because if he did, then Ben would see to it that Andy paid for it big time.

“Are you almost ready?” Alexa questioned stepping out of her bedroom wearing a very revealing black and red leather pantsuit that left little to the imagination about the lines of her body. She glanced over at Ben seeing him still dressed in what he’d worn earlier to the docks and she frowned, “Ben, you have to change.”

“I’m sorry,” he apologized setting his phone back into his pocket, “I was just trying to call my fiancée and let her know that I would be here a little bit longer than I expected, but she didn’t answer.”

“Your fiancée,” Alexa’s eyes widened in surprised. She eyed him with obvious interest before taking a small step forward, “You’re getting married?”

Ben nodded back at her, “Yeah, I guess you could say I’ve decided I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m ready to finally settle down.”

“Wow,” Alexa dropped down to one of the chairs across from where he’d been seated, “It didn’t seem like it’s been that long since I last saw you, yet with you talking about getting married… It just seems so sudden.”

“It was in it’s own way,” he admitted with a thoughtful expression thinking about Diane, “She was someone I met working at BBK and I tried to ignore what was happening with us, but she was rather stubborn about us. She kept chasing me around until finally I couldn’t help but give her a chance.”

“Really?” she arched a curious brow, “So who is she? Maybe I know her if she’s from Coral Valley.”

“You might since she was friends with Seth’s sister Jade. Her name is Diane Stevens,” Ben explained watching her practically choke at his admission.

“Wait, you’re telling me that you’re going to marry Diane Stevens?” her eyes widened as she tried to regain her composure, “Ben have you completely lost your mind? Do you have any idea what she’s like?”

“She’s really a great woman and…” Ben started once again thinking about Diane.

“Ben, she’s the one that Jade used to get into trouble with. Remember that friend that used to drive Seth nuts because she kept getting Jade into situations over her head?” Alexa frowned over at him, “I’m surprised you don’t remember her.”

“We never really crossed paths, but I can say she’s not that way anymore. She’s really an amazing woman and…” Ben started to defend Diane with a frown.

“A slut,” Alexa blurted out catching the disapproving look he gave her. “I’m sorry, but it’s true. Not only did she sleep with about half the guys in Coral Valley, but she and JT Mahoney were this couple and they were really big into the whole party scene. You know drugs, sex, blackmail. The whole she-bang if you will.”

“Alexa, I really don’t want to get into this,” he stood up wanting to put an end to the conversation they were having.

“Last I heard she was sleeping with her sister’s husband,” Alexa added with a small scowl, “which I’m sorry but that kind of person doesn’t strike me as someone you would want to spend the rest of your life with. She was always so much trouble and…”

“And as I said before she’s different now. She’s really pulled her life together and I respect her for that,” he replied with a snap turning around to face her again, “I love her and that’s all there is to it.”

“Yeah, but I mean Ben this girl does not have a loyal bone in her body. It’ll be only a matter of time before she cheats on you and…” Alexa started worried about her friend now that he had revealed who his lady love was.

“I’m not getting into this with you,” he held his hand up in the air to silence her, “I didn’t say a thing when you and Shane decided to start seeing one another even though I knew that you two wouldn’t mesh well with one another.”

“Yeah, well maybe if you would’ve said something, then I would’ve learned my lesson before he went all caveman on me,” she rolled her eyes at the reference to her ex. “He’s a nut Ben and I would’ve loved to have been clued into that information before I decided to hook up with him. It would’ve been nice.”

“Hey, you’re the one who always said you didn’t want people telling you how to live your life,” he shrugged his shoulders in response, “I was merely doing you the favor in keeping my mouth shut to respect your wishes just like I would like you to do now with me.”

“I still think you’re making a mistake,” she sank further back into the chair and eyed him pointedly.

“Yeah, well mistake or not I’m happy and that’s what matters to me,” he stomped into the bedroom snatching up the clothing he’d picked up on the way over to her place for their undercover assignment.

Alexa heard him slam the door now that he was going to change. Frowning she sat up straighter and thought about what he’d said to her.

“Ben you’re making a mistake--a big one,” she mouthed in response knowing that even if Ben was happy now a woman like Diane Stevens would be anything, but the kind of wife he needed in his life especially considering that Diane didn’t know the first thing about love and caring about anyone other than herself!


“Say what?” Jason chuckled to himself hoping that this was some kind of horrible dream as he backed up over the back of his seat getting to his feet to jump to the next table and get on the ground. “Mindy, really what is this? What’s going on?”

“Well since you were new I thought you’d like to meet my gay friend,” Mindy nodded toward Morgan motioning him to wait a moment as Jason smiled and covered his eyes showing her that something was obviously wrong. Getting up from her seat she saw him laugh before shaking his head and moved over toward the door. “I’ll be right back.”

“Jason, hold on a second,” Mindy followed Jason out through the door and outside seeing him turn to look at her folding his arms out in front of his chest. Knowing that she didn’t want him to be mad at her she took in a long breath before reaching out to squeeze his arm. “Nate and I were at the gym and heard about your ex dying. You know Bruno and I heard you talking to Grady about being gay and losing the love of your life, so I just assumed…”

“Whoa, wait. What? Bruno?” Jason held his hands in the air seeing her blue eyes staring out at him as if she was worried. Thinking about what she could have possibly heard Jason gasped realizing that at one point in the gym he was talking to Grady about how he didn’t know what it was like to lose the person they loved. Other than his dog, named Bruno and he let out a small snicker. “I think you’re confused Mindy, Bruno wasn’t my boyfriend.”

“He wasn’t?” she questioned almost confused by his confession as she folded her arms in front of her chest. Seeing his blue eyes staring out into hers she moved forward placing her hand in over his chest. “Was he much more to you Jason?”

“Mindy, you’re not getting it,” Jason went to try and explain further as she pulled him away down the street, making him walk beside her. Looking down to her he saw her watching him carefully and he let out a deep breath trying to put this in easy words. “That’s not at all what it’s like.”

“I understand Jason and I’m so sorry,” she cut him off before he could explain anymore and she squeezed his fingers in hers tightly hearing the groan he let out. “I should have known that you already had another boyfriend and I should have asked first. I just automatically assumed and that was so wrong of me to do and for that I’m really sorry Jason. I never meant to upset you like that. I’m really sorry.”

“Mindy, look at me. For one, I could never be mad at you for anything, but for two I don’t have a boyfriend either,” Jason tried to explain seeing the confusion behind her beautiful blue eyes and he let out a long sigh. Stopping he made her turn to face him as he reached out to touch her face softly. “Let me tell you something right here, right now about Bruno.”

“You don’t have to Jason, I really understand if you don’t want to talk about it because it could hurt you,” Mindy saw Jason close his eyes tightly and she reached out to touch the side of Jason’s smooth face. His eyes slowly opened to look into hers past the moonlight and he took in a deep, shallow breath. “I understand Jason.”

“Mindy, I really need to tell you something,” Jason began placing his hand in over hers, feeling her fingers curl into his to hold his hand softly. Knowing that by the way she was talking she really believed that he was gay he let out a long sigh. He had to tell her that he wasn’t gay because that was a huge confusion that should have never happened in the first place. “Listen Mindy, I need to tell you something. I really need to tell you something about this whole gay thing and it’s kind of important.”


“Right this way,” Dave helped Stacy in through the front door to his place hating to see her so upset after the night she’d endured at the hospital. “We’ll just get you in to rest for a while after you were up all night at the hospital.”

“Thank you,” Stacy replied in a small voice tipping her head up to look at her uncle, “You still haven’t heard anything from my mom or dad have you?”

“I’ll let you know when I do,” Dave promised seeing disappointment flash behind her eyes. He started to walk with her down the hallway to the bedroom she was staying in, but she stopped and looked up at him again.

“I think I can finish the rest of the walk by myself,” she forced a small smile before looking up at him again, “but thanks Uncle Dave. Thanks for bringing me back home with you.”

“There’s no place I would rather you be right now than here with us Stacy,” Dave replied giving his niece a hug before watching her disappear into the guest room. He turned around and made his way down the hallway finding Carly in the kitchen area.

“I thought I heard you come in,” she noted wiping her hands on a towel after she’d started working on a late dinner, “How is she holding up?”

“Physically she’s going to be okay, but mentally,” Dave sighed shaking his head with clear cut frustration, “I don’t know what the hell Jewel and Paul are thinking. They are just so wrapped up in themselves right now that they can’t see that their little girl is hurting. It kills me to think of how irresponsible they both are. I mean really would it have killed Jewel to just stick around long enough to bring Stacy back here?”

“She’s still wrapped up in her own little world huh?” Carly frowned thinking about Dave’s sister’s need to relive her childhood over and over again, “Can’t she see that Stacy needs her?”

“All Jewel cares about is her own needs and if it wasn’t for Don hunting down Stacy like he did, then there is no telling what would’ve happened to her,” Dave snarled in response finding himself increasingly frustrated with his sister’s lack of maturity, “Jewel needs to stop catering to her own needs and start thinking about Stacy’s. Hell, even Paul should’ve stepped up and started acting like a father. He’s in town too, but you don’t see him here.”

“I’m sorry things are like that Dave,” Carly reached out to him touching his shoulder gently, “but at least Stacy’s here with us. We can keep an eye on her and…”

“I know Carly, but it has to feel terrible to think that your own parents can’t be bothered with you when someone tried to hurt you,” Dave’s jaw flexed with tension, “Jewel knows better than that.”

“Obviously not, but maybe you should sit down and talk with her,” Carly suggested seeing the anger that flashed behind her husband’s eyes. “We could call both her and Paul and speak with them. Maybe together we could reason with them.”

“I’m starting to think that’s not even in the realm of possibility with those two. They are so stuck on hurting one another that they don’t see that they are destroying their little girl,” Dave replied with another frown hearing the door bell ringing. He looked over to it wondering if his sister had finally pulled her head out of her rear long enough to finally start acting like a parent.

“I’ll get it,” Carly announced seeing that Dave looked ready to rip someone’s head off. She made her way over to the door and opened it half expecting to see Jewel, but instead she was met by Lindsay’s smiling face.

“Hi Carly,” Lindsay waved up at her, “Is Stacy here? I called the hospital and they said she was released.”

“Yeah she’s here honey,” Carly opened the door further stepping aside to let Lindsay inside, “She’s in her room right now.”

“Can I go see her?” Lindsay asked tentatively glancing over at Dave for a moment and seeing he looked upset.

“Sure you can,” Carly nodded in response watching Lindsay make her move to Stacy’s room. Lindsay knocked on the door before disappearing inside and Carly refocused her attention on Dave again, “Dave, why don’t you just sit down? Dinner is almost ready and we’ll just try to make the most of tonight.”

“I want to, but when I think about Jewel,” he frowned again taking a seat on the couch and trying to keep his thoughts from getting the best of him. He was about to say something more about his sister when he heard the sound of little feet racing down the hallway.

“Daddy you’re home,” Kayla squealed rushing over to bounce onto his lap. She threw her arms around him excitedly giving him kiss after kiss now that she was squealing with joy. “I’m so glad you’re here. I missed you so much.”

“You did huh?” Dave couldn’t help but smile down at his daughter, “How much?”

“This much,” Kayla confessed stretching out her arms as far as she could reach before moving in to embrace him again, “Did you have a good day at work daddy?”

“Not as good as a day as I’m having now that I have my most favorite little girl in the world here with me on my lap,” he replied giving her a hug again and finding himself at peace with his little princess.

“Thank you,” she smiled up at him batting her long eyelashes at him, “Do you want to color with me daddy now that you’re home? I want to make a picture for mommy and for Stacy and one for you too. So can we?”

“I’d love you,” he nodded in response reaching out to touch her cheek lightly as he thought about how much he loved Kayla. He could remember when Stacy was as young as Kayla was and all over again it made him realize he was going to have to do something with his sister’s blatant disregard for Stacy because no daughter deserved to have her parents treat her so poorly. Looking at Kayla, Dave couldn’t even imagine doing that to her and now that he knew Stacy was still hurting over her parents leaving her at the hospital, Dave vowed to try to find a way to make it up to Stacy somehow.


“How are you feeling now?” Lindsay followed her friend into her bedroom and watched her sit down on her bed and reach for her cell phone. Looking out at her phone she saw Stacy skimming through the numbers to look for something. “What are you doing?”

“If he called me, that means he was probably dumb enough to call me from his house or cell phone, don’t you think?” Stacy questioned seeing Lindsay arch her eyebrows up and move in closer to her to sit down on the bed with her. “I figure that if I still have his number on here in the incoming calls section I can probably help my uncle Dave out a little bit more to get to know where this guy is. Let alone who he is. I don’t even know if his name is really Caleb.”

“I gave your uncle a full description of the guy,” Lindsay informed her friend before moving in closer to look through the numbers and try to help. Reaching for the paper on the side of the dresser knowing that it would obviously help when she saw Stacy stop. “You got it.”

“Yeah, just copy it down,” Stacy handed the phone over to Lindsay before reaching for her throw pillow at the top of her bed holding it closely to her chest. Still having that feeling of sickness in the pit of her stomach she knew it was from disgust. Not just because of how the guy took advantage of her, but just how fast she gave into him and wanted to like him. “I still can’t believe I did that and fell for him.”

“Everyone makes mistakes Stacy, even I make mistakes sometimes,” Lindsay tried to explain knowing that more regret and pain she felt, the worse it could be for her condition in making her more upset. “Honestly Stacy, you shouldn’t keep blaming yourself.”

“Lindsay, when you make mistakes yours are fixable, this is one I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life. There is nothing I can change about what I’ve done,” Stacy sighed heavily realizing that while yes, he hadn’t gotten to the point of what he wanted she still fell for him anyways. “I guess I just wanted to believe in that whole love at first sight thing and boy was I stupid, but I wanted something I never saw with my mother and father. I guess I just pushed my life in another direction and I should have never done that because I screwed up. I really did and now I know what you should and should not do when it comes to meeting a new guy. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is gorgeous and all…”

“But he’s scum and disgusting on the outside Stacy,” Lindsay patted her friend on the shoulder softly thinking about how Caleb wasn’t her type, but to most girls they would have just been won over by the looks of this young man. “No matter how good someone looks on the inside, it’s the inside that really counts. That man was ugly as can be on the inside and I’m sorry you had to run into someone like that.”

“As I said, I guess I was just a little too eager to be something that my parents weren’t,” she explained thinking about how quick her parents had already left the hospital when she was there and shook her head slowly. “I don’t need that because I took the wrong moves toward having a relationship and made a total fool of myself which was so stupid of me to do.”

“Well let me tell you this Stacy, don’t worry about what your parents have. Both of them still love you and if you want someone to love when you’re older,” Lindsay wrapped her arm around Stacy’s shoulder friendly giving her a small hug. “When you’re older and ready for a relationship, it will be so perfect that you won’t even have to think about what you’re doing because it will be that great. You’ll have to trust me on that one Stace because I know I’m right. You’re a great girl and you will have an amazing guy that will take care of you when you get older. That I promise you for sure.”


“So what do you think?” Shannon questioned motioning to the two cartons of ice-cream that she’d picked up. “Rocky Road or Strawberry Shortcake?”

“Sure,” Don replied walking past his wife as it was clear that his thoughts were elsewhere at the moment. She frowned seeing him pass by the frozen foods section out into another aisle and with a groan she set the containers of ice-cream down realizing that perhaps this was not the night to indulge in any kind of entertainment with one another.

“Don,” Shannon called out to him seeing him nearly push the cart he’d taken with him into a display of canned vegetables. “Don, hey are you listening?”

“What?” Don blinked out of the daze he was in before frowning over at her, “I’m sorry Shannon. I know I told you that we could do this together tonight so that we could see what we both wanted, but the truth to the matter is that I’m not here right now.”

“The last time I checked you were standing beside me,” Shannon reached out to pinch at his arm. She watched him yelp before she offered up a smile, “Yep, you’re still with me.”

“Hey,” Don rubbed his arm with a wince before frowning. “Look, I don’t mean to be so detached tonight, but I can’t help but think about Stacy. Shannon, you should have seen her when we found her. There was no one there for her and…”

“And you took it upon yourself to play her hero,” Shannon smiled up at him reaching out to slide her arms around his muscled torso, “It’s part of the reason why I love you. If you put your energies in the right place, then you can accomplish anything Don.”

“I just don’t feel like I accomplished much of anything with her Shannon,” he divulged thinking about the young girl in obvious turmoil in her life.

“Don, you rescued her from some kind of smut party where they obviously planned to use and abuse her. I think it’s safe to say that you did quite a bit for her,” Shannon reminded him pointedly. “If you hadn’t stepped in when you did, then there is no telling what would have happened to her. For all we know she could’ve been someone on the street that I was called in to investigate her ending if you weren’t there.”

“Don’t think like that,” Don frowned back at her unable to shake the uneasiness he felt about Stacy’s lack of parenting in her life.

“Don, I’m just saying that you did a good thing and you shouldn’t be beating yourself up over that,” Shannon touched his arm gently. “You helped that girl in more ways than her parents obviously could have.”

“I know,” he agreed with another sigh, “which is part of what’s been bothering me lately. Shannon, I know that Stacy’s got two parents, but between the both of them they are totally useless. Jewel walks around with big dreams about how she can push herself further in her career and get noticed while Paul, well the guy perpetually has his head up his ass and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. They are the worst possible parents for that girl.”

“Don, I’m sure that maybe what happened will serve as a wake up call for them,” Shannon suggested knowing only too well that things like that seldom happened in families where the parents weren’t invested in their child. Still she wanted to alleviate her husband’s concerns. “Sometimes it takes something shaking up a parent for them to be responsible. Heaven knows that’s how it went in my family with Nate.”

“Nate got himself into that kind of trouble?” Don replied with a doubtful expression.

“Don, he was a living, breathing nightmare for any parent. If we weren’t there for him, well who knows what would have happened?” Shannon frowned thinking about her younger brother’s troubled youth. “Though in the same respect if my sister would have just left him in jail that one time he got into major trouble with vandalizing the school, then he might have grown up faster than he has. I think he’s still a child sometimes when I just listen to him….”

“Your sister?” Don replied catching a few of her words. “I didn’t realize that you had a sister.”

“Yeah,” Shannon rolled her eyes at the thought, “There’s a whole slew of us back in Chicago, but I really don’t feel like dwelling on it. Nate’s more than enough of a reminder of where I came from. He’s hard enough to handle.”

“You make family sound like it’s a bad thing,” Don replied curiously. “You know how I am about mine, but I never hear you say anything about yours. Other than our having Nate around, you never really talk about your family.”

“I wouldn’t talk about Nate either, but he makes it next to impossible to ignore the fact that he’s lurking around,” Shannon admitted with a shake of her head. “He can be such a pain.”

“I rather enjoy having him around and if the rest of your family is half as entertaining as Nate is, then maybe we should take the time to get better acquainted with everyone,” Don suggested after a moment of contemplation. “I mean we’ve been together for a while and I still haven’t really gotten any clues into where you’ve come from…”

“A place that I don’t want to return to,” Shannon snubbed her nose at the thought. “Besides, I was just mentioning it because I was thinking about Stacy. She’s got family to support her and even if her parents aren’t the most responsible, I’m pretty sure having Dave as an uncle will even it out.”

“Yeah, Dave is pretty level headed, but still if I know Paul and Jewel, they are undoubtedly doing what they can to get the hell out of town before they have to actually own up to being parents,” Don frowned knowing only too well that Stacy would need her family even though they would probably be too consumed by themselves to care. “In fact, maybe we should go over there to Dave’s and check on her later. I’m sure she’ll be there since Paul and Jewel will undoubtedly be absorbed in all of their own issues.”

“We can do that,” Shannon decided realizing that there would be no other way to put her husband’s mind at ease. “We can finish up here and then head on over to see him if you’d like.”

“I would,” he nodded in confession before pulling her in closer to him again. “Shannon, thank you for understanding.”

“How could I not?” she smiled up at him catching the expression on his face. “You’re a good man Don and what you did for that girl goes without saying.”

“Still, I wish I could do more. Maybe by my talking with Dave I’ll be able to give him more information than I already did. Maybe there was some detail about the place that we picked her up at that I overlooked,” Don pondered the thought for another long moment. “There has to be some other way I can help her.”

“Don you saved her life. I think you did a good job with that,” Shannon squeezed his arm gently. “Just let me finish with checkout and then we can go over to Dave’s, alright?”

“Sure,” Don nodded knowing only too well that if Stacy was already seeking out trouble at such a young age without her parents realizing their need to be there for her, then she was destined to find herself in over her head in a world of trouble that the next time she might not be rescued from. Frowning to himself, Don only hoped that he and Dave would be able to find a way to protect Stacy from the madness of the world that her parents hadn’t warned her of. Hopefully after the experience she’d gone through Stacy would know not to return to that kind of place willingly.


“She what?” Kellen snarled, his blue eyes growing wide with rage at the thought of what Kipp was saying to him. “Kipp, why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“Kellen, I wanted to, but after everything else that’s been happening,” Kipp sighed taking a seat on the side of the couch. He dropped his head down before taking in a long breath. “I didn’t know how I would be able to tell you without you thinking that…”

“That what? That bitch violated you and I’m not going to just sit back and let her get away with it,” Kellen announced in a fury. “We’re calling the police and then…”

“No, Kellen I don’t want that,” Kipp shook his head firmly. He forced himself to meet his lover’s eyes as he frowned. “At this point it’s my word against hers and this will get ugly.”

“You’re damn right it’s going to get ugly Kipp!” Kellen clenched his fingers into fists at his side. “I’m going to tear her head off and then…”

“No you’re not,” Kipp frowned standing up again and approaching his lover. “I know that this situation is horrible, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t have any proof to back up my story…”

“You have the truth on your side and that counts for something, doesn’t it?” Kellen questioned with a frown of his own. “The fact that Becca’s been all crazy stalker since she was first hired will also prove that she’s insane. She had no right to come into our home and take advantage of you like that when…”

“Kellen I was drunk. At the time I woke up, I didn’t know what was going on,” Kipp sighed bringing his fingers through his own dark hair.

“You didn’t want her to violate you. That much I’m sure of,” Kellen paused for a long moment searching his lover’s eyes before speaking up again. “Kipp, what aren’t you telling me? Did you invite her over?”

“No, I didn’t do that. I’m certain of that, but…” Kipp stopped himself before rubbing his palms together. “It’s just that I can’t afford to go to the police about this one. Do you have any idea what kind of bad press this will have on the company? Heather’s about to make a name for herself and…”

“And she wouldn’t want you to sit back and pretend that some little witch could get away with hurting you Kipp,” Kellen made a small movement towards him. “Kipp, you can’t just let her walk around like nothing happened. She was completely wrong.”

“I pushed her out of the house before things got too out of hand,” Kipp tried to reason with Kellen’s anger. “She’s gone.”

“But she left her mark. I can see that this thing is upsetting you. Kipp, honey I know it’ll eat you alive if you don’t do something to let Becca see that she can’t get away with taking advantage of people like that,” Kellen continued in a tirade. “If you go to the authorities, then…”

“Then they’re going to take one look at who I am and they are going to laugh in my face,” Kipp frowned back at him. “Kellen, I wish things were simple, but they aren’t. I’m the son of Douglas Mahoney. Surely, you must understand what that means.”

“It means that the police will be even more motivated to bring Becca to justice because they’ll fear the wrath of your father which is a good thing considering that…” Kellen tried to rationalize.

“No Kellen, that’s not what will happen. The media will start sniffing around and it’ll turn into a media frenzy,” Kipp paused contemplating his words for a long moment. “Look, I don’t know how to put this, but when this situation gets out in the press, they’ll spin it around into being something that it’s not.”

“Kipp, you have the truth on your side. I know that doesn’t count for much these days, but…” Kellen watched his lover fall back onto the sofa once again.

“Kellen, look it’s not the first time that I’ve been the subject of media scrutiny, okay?” Kipp drew in an uneasy breath. He reached out to rub the back of his neck before speaking up again. “While I’m a lawyer and I’ve learned the insides and out of the law, the fact to the matter is that if someone wants to dig hard enough they might find something that I don’t want them to see.”

“Like what?” Kellen moved in to take a seat beside them. “You mean with JT and his problems?”

“No, this time it’s got nothing to do with JT,” Kipp revealed taking in a small breath. “Look, around the time that I was nineteen I wasn’t in a good place. Sure, I was in school and finally away from my father, but in college you do things--you experiment and you find yourself in situations that you might not have been in otherwise.”

“Such as?” Kellen questioned placing his hand on his lover’s knee in order to get him to continue to speak.

“I met this girl,” Kipp finally explained a tightness in his throat as his dark eyes met Kellen’s once again. “She was hot. Really hot and we were at a party talking with one another. I had a few drinks. She had a few drinks and before I knew it we were on our way back to my dorm. It was purely consensual and I thought I was really hot stuff because she was beautiful.”

“I don’t want to hear this do I?” Kellen frowned shuddering at the idea of Kipp’s past relationships.

“Probably not, but the gist of the story was my buddies coaxed me into taking her back to my place and because I wanted to prove what a big shot I was, well, I did. She and I got pretty hot and heavy with one another, but then the next day rather than her sticking around, she left without so much as saying good-bye.”

“And this is a problem, why?” Kellen questioned not really seeing the connection between then and now.

“Because a few weeks later I got served with papers from angry parents informing me that they were pressing charges against me after I’d slept with their fifteen year old daughter,” Kipp blurted out painfully, “I swear to you that she said she was a freshman at the college I was attending, but apparently that wasn’t even remotely close to the truth. Turns out she was a freshman, but in high school. I was completely mortified by what was going on. Things got ugly, but I swear I had no idea that she was only fifteen.”

“So what happened?” Kellen couldn’t help but ask.

“For starters her parents brought up charges of statutory rape, which my father had a field day with. He got his top legal experts to come in and try to fix the situation,” Kipp let out an ironic laugh. “Turns out that if she had been sixteen instead of fifteen there wouldn’t have been a problem since the state law mandated that a sixteen year old can be with anyone she wants to as long as they are no more than twenty three years old, but since she was fifteen…”

“You were in some trouble,” Kellen finished for him with a frown. “So what happened?”

“My father didn’t want to go to court, so his hands were tied,” Kipp closed his eyes remembering the outcome of the situation. “Eventually the whole situation turned out to be about money more than anything else. The media were swimming around like sharks either to get the scoop on the downfall of yet another Mahoney, so to avoid the process of a messy trial, my father paid the girl’s parents off and everything was kind of swept under the rug. Problem solved.”

“Why am I not so convinced of that?” Kellen questioned seeing an uneasiness behind Kipp’s eyes.

“Because I never forgot how stupid I felt in having to deal with that. You have no idea how close I came to being in some really, major trouble all because I’d buckled under peer pressure and took some girl home that I had no business being with in the first place,” Kipp sighed leaning back against the couch and closing his eyes. “I didn’t even really want to in the first place, but I thought it was something that would get me in good with the guys. You know really have me in a place where I could make my own reputation for myself and gain some respect. Don’t get me wrong she was beautiful and no way did she look fifteen, but even then a part of me knew that I wasn’t completely into the idea of women…”

“You weren’t completely out of the idea of being with them either,” Kellen scooted in closer to him, touching his leg gently. “I mean with you and Heather babes…”

“Heather’s the only woman that I’ve ever, really truly felt something real for,” Kipp admitted honestly turning to face his lover. “She’s one of my best friends and I wouldn’t trade that relationship that we have for anything in the world. I just know that if this thing with Becca came out in the media that all it would take would be one smart reporter to do a little digging and the situation from college would only be used as a tool to destroy not only me, but the company that Heather’s worked for.”

“But Kipp you didn’t know. I mean more than likely that girl knew you were Douglas Mahoney’s child and she planned everything from the moment she saw you at the party,” Kellen spoke up in Kipp’s defense.

“I don’t doubt that especially after her parents started an outcry for monetary compensation, but the fact to the matter is that back then there was no way of clearing my name even if I tried and now,” Kipp sighed once again, “I just don’t see an easy way out of the mess going on with Becca. If she wants to offer up any kind of backlash…”

“Then I’ll take her out myself,” Kellen decided firmly, “because no one gets away with hurting my man. Do you understand me?”

“Honestly Kellen right now I just want to push the entire ordeal behind me and just focus on us,” Kipp leaned in against him placing his head on Kellen’s shoulder. “I know that might be asking a lot right now, but…”

“No, it’s not asking a lot at all,” Kellen wrapped his arm around Kipp to pull him in closer to him. “In fact it sounds absolutely perfect for us.”

“Thank you,” Kipp replied snuggling into Kellen as Kellen found himself thinking about all the ways he would see to it that Becca Button paid for daring to interfere in his lover’s life. While Kipp might have wanted to sweep the problem under the carpet, Kellen was going to make damn sure that Becca lived to regret the day that she dared to cross him!


“I was just telling Avery that Erin is getting so big,” Kyle announced returning to the room to find Russ and Heather still seated where they’d been when Kyle and Avery had walked out on them. “She’s so alert and ready to start going I think it’s only going to be a matter of time before you and Avery are chasing her down trying to keep her out of trouble.”

“If she takes after me then she won’t get into trouble,” Russ teased catching the look that both Avery and Kyle gave them.

“You’re so full of it,” Avery shook her head at Russ moving in to join him at the sofa again. She watched Kyle moving over to take a seat beside Heather with Erin still in his arms.

“She’s been thinking about taking on the world I think,” Russ added with a thoughtful expression, “She’s very contemplative and alert to the world around her. I see her pondering what it would be like to get down and explore it all.”

“Charles did that for a while too, but when it comes to crawling or making any movement around the house, he’s very stubborn,” Heather offered up trying to include herself in the conversation, “Though I remember my mother telling me that I didn’t bother with crawling. I went straight to walking.”

“More like running,” Kyle teased with a small laugh, “because I remember not being able to keep up with you.”

“Oh stop,” Heather patted his arm lightly before she looked down at Erin, “Hey you.”

Avery stiffened not liking the idea of Heather being so close to Erin. She felt Russ place his hand on her thigh in an attempt to keep her calm now that Kyle and Heather both played with Erin.

“Charles just said his first word,” Kyle explained proudly thinking about Heather’s son. “Though it kind of came at an awkward moment considering that it came at the worst time.”

“How can a first word come at the wrong time?” Avery questioned with a curious expression.

“It came when Kipp stopped over and Charles called me dada,” Kyle revealed with a small shudder, “Needless to say that didn’t go over too well even though it was a simple misunderstanding.”

“Yeah I could see why Kipp might not have been happy,” Russ added noting the way that Erin was playing along with Kyle and watching him intently. “Hopefully when Erin gets around to saying that she’ll think about me instead of Kevin.”

“Kevin?” Kyle arched a curious brow, “Why does she like that muscle head?”

“I think she’s got a crush on him,” Avery noted thinking about Erin’s attachment to Kevin. “She just lights up when he’s around.”

“Yeah well she seems to be lighting up around her Uncle Kyle too, aren’t you beautiful?” Kyle leaned down to kiss Erin’s chubby cheek and she broke into a fit of infectious laughter. “Yes you do, don’t you?”

“Kyle come on,” Heather couldn’t help but smile seeing how good Kyle was with Erin, “You’re going to give her hiccups.”

“No I’m not,” Kyle raised Erin up a bit to play with her and caused her to start giggling again, “She’s having a good old time.”

“Kyle Heather might be right. You don’t want to overdue it,” Avery added seeing Erin kicking her legs and waving her arms clearly delighted.

“Oh come on mommy,” Kyle cupped Erin in his arms again turning Erin to face her parents, “We’re just having a good time. Can’t we play?”

“You’re such a brat,” Avery stuck her tongue out at Kyle before watching him playing with Erin again. “Russ I’m going to get a drink and her bottle since she‘s due for one.”

“Okay,” Russ nodded watching Avery disappear before he turned to Kyle and Heather, “You’re a natural with the whole parenting thing Kyle.”

“I’m getting a lot of practice for the future,” Kyle admitted glancing over at Heather with a bright smile, “So what do you say? Think maybe we can get a little girl like Erin for Charles to play with?”

“You mean you would like to have Erin and Charles have a play date?” Heather arched a curious brow.

“I was thinking that might be a good start, but I was also thinking that maybe just maybe we could consider giving Charles a little sister sooner rather than later,” Kyle wiggled his brow suggestively. “What do you say?”

Before Heather could answer him there was a loud crashing sound coming from the kitchen. They all looked up to see Avery standing there with a frown on her face. She shook her head at Kyle before speaking up.

“Kyle if you did that I think you would be making a mistake. A big mistake,” Avery mouthed knowing full well that the last thing that Kyle wanted was to be tied down to someone like Heather.

“And why might that be Avery?” Heather questioned on the defensive side pushing away from Kyle and getting up to stare her down.

“Because I would hate to think of him being tied to you after all that you’ve done to hurt so many people,” Avery stepped forward glaring over at Heather.

“Hah, you’re hardly one to lecture me on hurting people considering that you live for it,” Heather marched forward placing her hands on her hips.

“Um Kyle,” Russ started nervously seeing the two women they loved ready to attack one another.

“I’m on it,” Kyle replied looking down to Erin and kissing the top of her head, “Uncle Kyle is just going to set you in your playpen for a minute.”

“You know Avery I’m getting really tired of the goody-goody act and believe me you’re the last person who should tell me what I can and cannot do with Kyle. It’s none of your concern,” Heather spat back at her icily.

“Kyle’s my friend and I don’t want to see him ruin his life with you,” Avery mouthed with a tight scowl, “He deserves a lot better.”

“He already has the best with me and if you can’t handle it too bad,” Heather flashed her an icy smile.

“Sooner or later he’ll see what you really are--a liar and a manipulator who only cares about herself,” Avery cut back sharply ready to say something more when she felt a firm slap across the side of her face. She stumbled backwards in shock while Heather’s grin expanded.

“I owed you that one from before,” Heather smirked at her ready to say something more when Avery lunged forward reaching out to strangle Heather. Within a matter of seconds both women were on the floor attacking one another.

“Avery,” Russ rushed forward attempting to pry them apart only to get an elbow in his face.

Kyle moved in as well, but he too was smacked by Heather’s fist as she attempted to take another shot at Avery. Feeling the pain vibrate through his jaw, he took in a breath and attempted to push forward doing what he could to help Russ peel the two women away from one another.

“I hate you!” Heather screamed at Avery clenching her fists at her sides while kicking out in an attempt to get Kyle to release her.

“If you hit me again then so help me God I’ll kill you,” Avery warned sharply fighting with Russ as well now that Heather had tapped her last nerve.

“You know I think it’s time for us to go,” Kyle announced feeling Heather struggling to get loose. “Thanks for having us over Russ. We’ll talk later.”

“Yeah that’s right you run Heather because you know I could take you out in an instant,” Avery taunted as Kyle tucked Heather over his arm attempting to place a distance between Heather and Avery.

“Bring it on bitch,” Heather waved her arms around in the air, “We’ll show Kyle and Russ just how full of it you really are. I’m not afraid of you.”

“Heather! Avery stop!” Russ blurted out finding himself increasingly upset with what was taking place around them. “You’re behaving like children.”

“She started it when she walked in here,” Avery argued in her own defense.

“You started it when you couldn’t keep your yap shut. Kyle you know I’m right,” Heather huffed in response kicking out against Kyle’s chest.

“What I know is this is the last thing that Erin needs,” Kyle snapped at the both of them turning around to face Avery, “You both need to grow up.”

That seemed to shut them up for the moment as all eyes were on Erin. She watched them with a confusion that carried over her, but even after the fighting had died down, the evening had already been ruined. The night was clearly turning out in a way that had only spelled disaster for everyone!


“So Evie,” Cameron started with a polite smile from across the dinner table. He looked over to JT’s date and smiled hoping to open up the lines of communication at the table after it was clear that things were beyond tense in the room. He glanced over at Sarah watching her poke at her food with clear distain and he frowned before turning to Evie again, “JT mentioned that you work at the bar with him. How do you like it?”

“It keeps me close to JT, so I can’t complain,” she smiled over at JT seeking out some response from him. “How could I not be happy working with him?”

“Oh you are so delusional,” Sarah spat out with a small snort thinking about Evie’s words. She tipped her head up to glare over at Evie before speaking up again, “You think that he’s something special--that you’ve got some great love going, but honey you’re just a dime a dozen. Soon he’ll get bored with you and run off to be with your sister or anyone else who gives him the smallest bit of attention.”

“I think you’ve had too much to drink,” Cameron frowned watching Sarah reach for the glass in front of her. She held it up smugly before raising it to her lips. She watched his eyes narrow with heavy disapproval before she spoke up again, “It’s only water considering that you’ve banned me from finding a way to enjoy myself.”

“Well isn’t this wonderful,” JT rolled his eyes unable to refrain from speaking his mind now that it was clear that Cameron’s latest flavor of the moment was ready to make everyone miserable, “Cameron I don’t know where you keep digging these women up, but I think you’d better start finding a better place to locate them.”

“Screw you,” Sarah spat out at JT, her dark eyes filled with a sudden rage, “You know full well that you’re not man enough for a woman like me.”

“If that’s what you want to call it, sure,” JT shook his head at her and laughed, “I wouldn’t dream of being near someone like you and I’m surprised my brother has lowered himself to being with you. I guess that’s because he was looking for a sloppy second since your sister’s moved on.”

“That’s it,” Sarah pushed her chair away from the table and glared down at JT. She stomped her foot down before turning to Cameron, “Are you going to let him talk to me that way Cameron? Are you just going to sit there and do nothing?”

“Actually I’m not,” Cameron replied as Sarah glared over at JT issuing him a smug grin. She opened her mouth to say something more when she felt Cameron’s hand snake around her arm catching her by surprise. Frowning she turned to look at him, “Cameron, what are you doing?”

“Taking you to bed,” Cameron mouthed in a low, warning tone. He turned to address JT and Evie with an apologetic expression, “We’ll have to take a rain check on dinner.”

Without another word Cameron marched out of the room with Sarah taking her away from the situation and away from JT and Evie. Sarah’s words of protest were faintly carried over the atmosphere before Evie and JT exchanged looks with one another.

“Well that was productive,” JT broke the ice with a small nervous laugh, “I’ll be honest dinners in my family don’t get any better than this I’m afraid.”

“It’s alright. In my household we didn’t even get this far,” Evie replied with a small smile of her own, “I really do think your brother can do better than her though.”

“That makes two of us, but Cameron’s a bit of a moron when it comes to women. I don’t think he’s ever really been in love,” JT pondered the thought thinking about all that had ruled his brother’s life, “and if he had been, well he’s kept it hidden enough for no one else to see it.”

“That’s so sad,” Evie sighed tipping her head to the side and looking over in the direction that Cameron had walked off in. “It’s a shame that he couldn’t find love in his life. I can’t even begin to imagine having to spend my years without it now that I’ve had it.”

“Neither can I,” JT admitted pushing away from the table and walking around the table to get closer to her, “Though I guess you could say that we’ve both been blessed because we found one another at a time when I could’ve gone in a whole other direction--one that would’ve ended in disaster.”

“We couldn’t have that, now could we?” she questioned rising up to her feet as well, her dark eyes meeting his. She reached out to him trailing her fingertips over his chest gingerly before she leaned in closer to him, “Though your brother did have one thing right earlier.”

“What’s that?” JT questioned arching a curious brow as her fingers stretched out over his shoulder to urge him in closer to her.

“I think we most certainly should get to bed,” she wiggled her brow at him suggestively, the grin on her soft lips expanding with the mere suggestion and transforming from innocent to full blown seductress. “I believe we have more catching up to do with one another now that Franklin isn’t around to interrupt what’s happening between us.”

“Why Evie if I didn’t know better, I would think that you were trying to take advantage of me,” JT laughed lightly shaking his head at her, “You never stop, do you?”

“Not until I get what I want,” she ran her fingers down over the center of his chest before her palm settled in over the top of his pants, teasing over the belt he was wearing. She licked her lips before pushing her dark hair behind her shoulders with a simple shake of her head. Her brown eyes widened with anticipation and she leaned up towards him, her lips a mere breath away from his, “Absolutely everything I want JT and right now what I want is you.”

“Is this the point in time where you tell me about the other set of condoms you’ve stolen from my brother?” JT arched a curious brow seeing her eyes light up with promise for the briefest of seconds before a frown touched over the corners of her mouth.

“I suppose I should’ve taken more than one, shouldn’t I?” she breathed in response thinking about her hasty decision, “It would’ve been the smart thing to do, but you know if he’s busy with Sarah right now, I can just go back and…”

“Save it sweetheart,” he reached out to her snaking his arm around her waist and pulling her in closer to him once again. “I think that is a sign that maybe we should hold off for tonight. Maybe we’ve seen enough action for the evening considering we have a big day ahead of us.”

“But JT,” she frowned up at him, her lip curling in a pout, “I thought that you wanted to make the most of tonight.”

“I do,” he replied reaching for her hands and raising them to his lips. He placed a tender kiss over her soft, creamy skin before speaking up again, “which is why we should probably put the brakes on things for tonight since we have an early start in the morning.”

“But…” she curled her lip in protest only to feel him cut her off with a kiss.

“I think earlier was a good start,” he whispered warmly against her lips touching the side of her face. His fingers slid into her hair urging her to meet his dark eyes again, “We shouldn’t rush things not when it’s worth waiting for.”

“JT, I don’t want to wait. Tonight we already…” she started to protest only to feel him cut her off with a kiss.

“We have plenty of time for the next step with one another,” he promised wrapping her up in his arms, “Besides you gave me plenty of food for thought earlier when we were together. I can honestly say that you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen Evie.”

She felt a blush rising over her at his words. She shook her head and let out a laugh in an attempt to be confident, but her words weren’t as convincing in their tone. “Of course I am because you know I’m the best you’ll ever have.”

“Yeah, I’m well aware of that,” he replied cupping her face in his hands and leaning down to press a faint, whisper of a kiss over her lips again, “which is why I’m not going to rush this. You are worth waiting for Evie.”

“But I’m ready now JT. I want for us to be together tonight and…” she started to protest again thinking about how good it had felt to be in his arms earlier. “I want us to make love with one another completely.”

“Sweetheart, you’re killing me,” he sighed pressing his forehead in against hers, “You have to trust me when I tell you that you really do not want our first time to be in my brother’s house with him and his girlfriend fighting in another room. The island will be much better for us.”

“Fine, but once I get you out there you better not keep putting me off otherwise I’m going to start to think you’re lying about wanting me,” she replied with protest behind her eyes feeling him curl her in closer to the strength of his chest.

“Do you honestly believe I’m lying about the way I feel for you?” he questioned searching her dark eyes. His thumb brushed over the hollow of her cheekbone, fingers sliding in a slow, tender movement into her long, dark hair.

“No,” she breathed in a shaky exhale, “and that’s all the more reason why I want to be with you JT. I love you.”

“I love you too and we’ll get to the other part of being together, but tonight I just want to hold you in my arms and keep you with me,” he whispered embracing her. He inhaled the sweet scent of her berry scented perfume and found himself intoxicated by her all over again. “That’s what I really want for us tonight.”

“I can’t promise that I won’t try to get you to go for more with me should we pass by Cameron’s study for me to swipe another condom,” she teased with a playful expression seeing something flicker behind his eyes.

“As tempting as that is,” he paused taking the time to scoop her up in his arms and hold her in against his chest, “I’m going to have to keep you close to me so that we don’t compromise ourselves tonight. As long as you aren’t going to Cameron’s study, then I know we’ll play it safe by keeping it on neutral territory.”

“You’re no fun,” she curled her lip in a pout before swatting at his chest.

“Believe me baby I’m a lot of fun, but tonight, well you can think of me as your own personal teddy bear,” he winked at her squeezing her in against him before taking her upstairs with him in an attempt to put the failed dinner behind them before they started their new day with one another getting ready for their trip to paradise at long last.


“This is going to be one of the best nights of my life,” Kevin let out a long sigh pulling his shirt off once Angela moved into the bathroom to take a shower. Reaching for his bag up off the ground he thought about possibly calling Ria to see how she was doing, but knew Angela might come out anytime soon and that was a bad thing. Reaching for his shorts and a tank top he dropped the jeans he was in before stepping into his shorts. Moving over toward the window he slowly pulled on the white tank top down his abdomen opening the blinds a bit to stare out into the darkness. “They’re obviously back in the house.”

Moving over toward the bed he laid back against the pillows feeling how comfortable the bedding was underneath him and his sore neck after he had hit it in the center of the fountain. Letting out a long sigh he closed his eyes liking the feeling of silence for just once, it was something he often longer for, but nothing he usually got to experience.

“You look comfortable,” Angela muttered seeing Kevin partially open his eyes as he yawned and nodded slowly before resting his arms back behind his head. Moving out from the bathroom she came over to the side of the bed and set some of her things down before taking a seat on the edge of the bed. “Sorry for interrupting, I just got out is all.”

“That’s okay,” Kevin replied ready to just fall to sleep before seeing Angela pressing her fingers in against her neck noticing that she may have been in some pain. Moving up on the bed he moved in behind her softly, pressing his fingertips in over her knotted muscles. “You alright?”

“Yeah, my back is just killing me,” she answered looking over her shoulder at him seeing the way his worried brown eyes watched her and she went to get up from the bed feeling his fingers softly holding onto hers. “It’s really nothing to worry about.”

“Just sit back down,” he motioned her to sit on the bed and he moved in behind her reaching up to caress her shoulders softly while she leaned back into him. Focusing on the knots in her back while she closed her eyes and rested her head back on his shoulder. “I may be useless for some things, but I can help you out here.”

“You were always the best at these,” she murmured letting out a small wince feeling him hit one of her tender spots and knowing that he was concentrating usually meant that he was pretty much silent. Opening her eyes she remembered what she had experienced with Brant tonight and instantly felt bad. “This relationship we’ve had Kevin is pretty rocky isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” he muttered not quite sure knowing what to say at the moment still focusing on working on her back. Resting his chin on her shoulder softly he took in a long breath thinking about their history and everything that happened to break his heart. “It hasn’t been that bad thought, I’m still living aren’t I?”

“Gee, you make it sound like it’s horrible,” she laughed hearing his small chuckle in her ear and she turned her head slightly to see him move his head so he could look into her brown eyes. “Is it really that bad?”

“Not at all Angie, you’re my best friend and that’s the best thing I got out of this relationship,” he answered truthfully answered moving into press a small kiss against her temple seeing her close her eyes before he took in a long breath. “I mean yeah, the sex was pretty great, but what I really loved about the relationship is after everything we could talk. I mean really talk, I could come home and hold you in my arms and tell you anything. I felt so comfortable being with you and that’s what I loved the most about it.”

“I miss those days,” she whispered gulping down as she heard the sound he made only to feel him wrap his arms around her softly and rest his chin on her shoulder tenderly. Leaning back into him as much as possible she just loved the feeling of him holding her in his arms and it was a moment she would keep in her mind forever. “So tell me, when was the first time you fell in love with me?”

“Fell in love with you,” he laughed thinking about the moment as he cleared his throat trying to think of something to say knowing that right now he loved her in the way she wasn’t thinking about. Thinking back in his mind he tried to come up with the honest answer and he took in a long breath. “You’re going to have to give me a minute, I really have to think about this one.”

“Oh, I bet I know,” she remarked seeing the smirk that pressed in over his features as she turned to look back at him and he let out a small laugh. Turning to look at him better she nodded before smiling widely taking a guess at the history they’ve had. “It was probably the first time you saw me at the pool without my top on, right?”

“No, that wasn’t it at all. I was more afraid than in love,” he replied to her comment finally remembering what it was that made him fall in love with her. Gulping down he tried to play it out in his head before laughing out loud at the thought. “It was at that one party your father had where the only thing you wanted to do was catch my attention. It wasn’t what you were wearing, but it was when you fell over your heels and fell on your butt in front of everyone.”

“Oh, you have to be kidding me,” she turned to hit him in the center of the chest hearing him laugh and shake his head slowly. His eyebrows tightened together as he shook his head showing her that he really meant what he said. “When you came to help me up and the cake knocked over leaving us covered in it?”

“Yeah, it really was. You were just adorable and when I looked into yours eyes, I just knew I loved you. Something sparked inside of me telling me that it’s how I felt,” he informed her seeing the way she looked out at him and he reached out to press a strand of hair behind her ear. “And when I saw you give me what I felt was the same look, my heart just sunk to the extreme and filled with love for you. That’s one hundred percent honest.”

“Wow, that’s really sweet,” she gulped down seeing the frown that seemed to press in over his features as she reached out to press her palm in against his rough cheek. Thinking about the first time she fell in love with him she let out a small laugh before looking up to him. “That sounds so sweet compared to mine.”

“I doubt that,” Kevin let out a laugh of his own watching Angela shake her head and look down toward the ground. Reaching out to press his finger in under her chin, he raised her chin so that he could look in her brown eyes. “When did you fall in love with me?”

“Honestly? When you had one of your first boxing matches,” she answered seeing the smirked that pressed in over the corners of his lips and she nodded slowly seeing his eyebrows perk up. “I’m not kidding. I thought you were hot and I followed my dad into the back and heard him telling you that you were going to be watching me. I was very excited at that point and you kind of left the bathroom door open while you were taking a shower. Yeah, that’s really pathetic I know, but I fell in love with you when I first saw you.”

“Are you being serious? You watched me in the shower?” Kevin pondered the thought seeing her slightly shrug as he shook his head at her. Rubbing at his chin softly he laughed again staring up at her with his chocolate eyes. “You’re right, that kind of is pathetic.”

“You jerk,” Angela moved forward to shove at his chest seeing him fall back against the bed as she moved forward seeing that he hit his head on the remote. Groaning out he laughed feeling her in over him as he raised his fingers up to the back of his head to caress it softly. Seeing him smile as she reached to rub at the spot he hit, she saw his nose wrinkle as he laughed and she moved forward pressing her lips in against his. Feeling him hesitant in kissing her back she felt his fingers press in over the small of her back before laughing and pulling away from her. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” he lied going to sit up slowly, losing his grip on the bed making him fall of the bed in a thud. Groaning out he let out another loud laugh and saw her glance down at him as he was on the floor. “I don’t know why I’m laughing, that pretty much hurt.”

“Are you on something?” she chuckled seeing him laughing as he started to stand up and she reached for his hands feeling him grab her hands in his caressing the back of them with his thumbs. “Seriously? What are you laughing at?”

“I really don’t know,” he felt a pain in his back before sitting down on the edge of the bed next to her motioning her to move in closer to him. Wrapping his arm around her shoulders he felt her rest her head against his chest as he held onto her. “I love you kiddo, not matter how much the first time you fell in love with me was scary.”

“Of course you would say something like that,” she smacked him in the stomach hearing him groan and she closed her eyes tightly. Feeling the warmth of him around her she felt safe, she felt calm and even more she felt protected. “I love you too Kevin.”

“I know,” he tipped down pressing a kiss against her forehead before grabbing her free hand and holding it tightly in his. Pulling it up to his lips he kissed the back of it softly before reaching out to caress her cheek tenderly. “Maybe we should try and sleep, it will help your back feel better.”

“Sure,” she nodded sitting up from the bed seeing him move up in the same time, pulling back the blankets for her before motioning her to get in. Noticing that he was waiting for her, she slowly moved in under them before feeling him tuck them around her softly. His fingers pressed her hair behind her ear tenderly before she moved up meeting his lips in a small kiss seeing his brown eyes staring down at her. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

“I always have and I always will,” he promised moving into the bed next to her and motioned her to move in closer to him. Wrapping his arm around her waist he felt her snuggling in against his chest. Resting his chin against her forehead he loved having his best friend with him, but had no idea what was going through her mind right now. “All I care about is making sure you are okay.”

“As long as I’m with you,” Angela closed her eyes thinking about how both men seemed so perfect when she had woken up in their arms. Lifting her head up for a moment she watched him stretch his arm out to turn off the light and saw his brown eyes meet hers past the moonlight. “I’ll always be alright.”

“Well I’m always going to be here for you, so you can always trust me to keep you staying alright,” Kevin grinned moving down to kiss her forehead softly before squeezing his arm around her tightly, letting out a long sigh as he thought. “Goodnight Angie.”


“I can’t believe she isn’t even bothering to answer her damn cell phone,” Dave huffed hanging up the phone and cursing his sister again underneath his breath. “I mean honestly what could be more important than her daughter right about now? I’ll bet she isn’t even aware of the fact that Stacy is out of the hospital.”

“Dave, you need to calm down,” Carly blurted out hating to admit that her husband was getting too worked up, but now that he’d settled in to call his sister she could practically see the fire of flames from inside of him. She’d just finished putting Kayla down to bed a short while ago and she’d hoped to help Dave relax, but he was anything but wound down now that he was fired up about Jewel.

“I swear to God Carly I’m half tempted to put an APB on her and have one of my men haul her in to lock up--Paul too just so that they can actually start owning up to responsibility in their lives,” Dave admitted with a heavy groan before hearing the sound of the doorbell ringing.

“Maybe she’s back,” Carly suggested seeing something flash behind his eyes.

“If it’s her, then she isn’t skirting around this issue any longer,” Dave waved his finger around in the air before stomping over to the front door. He opened it ready to chew Jewel out, but much to his surprise and dismay his sister wasn’t the other one on the porch. He spotted Shannon and Don in front of him and he let out a small huff throwing his hands in the air, “This figures.”

“I take it Jewel isn’t anywhere to be found,” Don frowned already knowing the answer by Dave’s less than enthusiastic welcome.

“Of course not,” Dave shook his head stepping aside to let Don and Shannon into the house, “but I’m sure it comes as no surprise.”

“Damn it. I thought she would’ve learned,” Don added thinking about the woman he’d once been involved with. “She just can’t take the time to grow up, can she?”

“Stacy will hit maturity first--that is if she lives that long after the way they’ve been ignoring her,” Dave scowled shaking his head again, “My sister and her husband are idiots.”

“I won’t argue that one,” Don added looking over to Shannon. “That’s kind of why we stopped by. I heard Stacy was released and I was pretty sure she would be with you. We wanted to check in on her and see how she was doing.”

“She’s with your sister right now,” Carly added joining the three of them. She smiled politely over at Shannon before looking to Don. “They seem to be doing okay in there since we haven’t heard anything from them.”

“If Linds is in there, I’m sure Stacy is okay,” Don added thinking about his younger sister. “She’s pretty good with her friends and I’m sure she can help Stacy if she needs it.”

“But it won’t bring her mother home,” Dave blurted out with a scowl. Shaking his head he turned to Don again, “I’m at my wit’s end with Jewel. No matter what I do or say she just refuses to listen.”

“I tried talking to her at the hospital, but obviously it didn’t do any good,” Don mouthed in response thinking about how he’d blown up at Jewel. “I don’t understand why she doesn’t try to put her daughter first.”

“I don’t know Don, but I’m running out of options here. I don’t want to see Stacy end up in trouble again like he was last night. If Jewel and Paul aren’t going to make sure that doesn’t happen, then I’m going to have no choice, but to take care of Stacy myself,” Dave decided realizing that his sister’s inability to take her parental responsibilities seriously would be something that would hinder anything that Stacy would have ahead of her.

“Look if there’s anything you need me to do to help, then I’ll do it,” Don piped in hoping to help Dave with his problems he’d been experiencing with Jewel. “If you want me to try talking to her again…”

“I don’t know if it will help, but I suppose any attempt is better than nothing at this point,” Dave added wondering if his sister would ever truly change or if she would find herself losing all of the things that should truly be important in her life because of her own foolishness.

“I think the important thing is that she is here,” Shannon broke her long silence offering up her two cents in the situation, “Dave, you and Carly are without a doubt the best thing for her right now so I’m sure in the long run even if it’s hard for her not to have her parents around, at least she has the both of you.”

“Yeah, but even so we’re not her parents and that has to bother her,” Dave sighed once more, “I just hate having to see her in this position because Paul and Jewel won’t grow up.”

“I hate it too man, but maybe we can come up with some kind of way to reach out to Jewel before it’s too late,” Don suggested after a moment’s contemplation. “There must be something we can do.”

“If you can think of it, then I’m all ears,” Dave replied looking over at Don and Shannon again.

“You know it’s been a long day,” Carly blurted out thinking about all that had happened, “How about I put some coffee on and we can come up with something together?”

“It sounds like a good idea,” Dave nodded in agreement looking over to his wife briefly before wondering if in fact the four of them could truly come up with a plan to help spare his niece the pain of having to deal with her parents being world class screw ups at a time when they were needed the most in her life.


“I know it’s probably very important, I agree,” Mindy reached out to place her fingers in over the center of his lips tenderly seeing his blue eyes close before staring out at her again. She pulled her hand away from his lips before reaching for his hand to give it a soft squeeze. “I’m so sorry for automatically assuming Jason, but when you helped me when I needed someone the most, I tried helping you to the best of my abilities and I may have pushed a little too far with some of the things.”

“Yeah Mindy, but you’ve just been confused,” Jason tried to explain squeezing her hand softly before laughing and thinking about what she had said to him. He never pegged himself to look like a gay man or even act like a gay man for that fact, but it was obvious to him that it was Nate that pushed the subject and made her believe it even more. “I’m sure Nate just told you something that made you realize something that wasn’t real Mindy. I’m honored to the fact that you wanted to help me, but…”

“I know, I know. I shouldn’t always be too quick to the punch Jason. I’ve been told that so many times in my life, but I like you so much that I just wanted you to be happy. I figured if I hooked you up with someone I would give you a chance to be happy. You deserve it Jason and well the truth is,” Mindy began to explain realizing that any guy she was normally attracted to seemed to be gay. It was something that she thought was wrong with herself, but when it got down to Jason, he was such a good friend that she wanted to help him in any way possible. He was so nice that she tried to think of one of her friends that would be a good match for him. “I don’t know if you will understand this, but I feel really close to you Jason. I feel so much closer to gay guys and if you weren’t gay, I don’t think I would have ever been able to be this close to someone. If you weren’t who you were right now, then I don’t think I would be able to talk to you like anyone. If you were straight, I probably wouldn’t be close to you at all.”

“Are you serious?” Jason saw her nod as he gulped down and thought the situation over in his head. The last thing he wanted to lose was how close he was to Mindy and he knew what he had to do. Placing his right hand on his waist, he curved his body a bit before running his left hand through his dark hair. “I have to be honest to you about this whole thing Mindy, I like a total different type of man and maybe you can call me a whore for this but I really don’t like the whole relationship thing. I’d like to at least know a man until I start dating him.”

“Oh, I see,” she laughed feeling him place his arm around her shoulders softly before tugging her in closer to him before laughing in what he tried to make a bit more high pitched. “That doesn’t make you a whore, what kind of man is your type.”

“Well,” thinking about himself he thought what the heck? If he was going to say what kind of man he liked, why not make it like himself. “I like the handsome, dark haired, chiseled, amazing eyes pretty boy. You know, I love accents too.”

“Yeah, accents are pretty hot,” Mindy agreed thankful that Jason could finally be open with her as she placed her hand over his abdomen before letting out a small gasp. “You have to tell me what you think about Johnny Depp. Honestly, what do you really think about him?”

“He’s not my type honey,” Jason shook his head thinking of something to say before clearing his throat and thinking things over. An answer popped into his head before he placed his hand in over her hip softly. “I’m more of a Mark Wahlberg type. He’s my kind of man.”

“Oh wow, nice type,” Mindy laughed thinking things over before moving over toward the car they came in and she turned to face him holding his hands in hers tightly. “I’m going to love hanging out with you, you can tell me what you think about certain guys and we can hang out all the time. This is going to be so great.”

“Oh so great,” Jason smiled seeing her turn away from him and his smile turned to a frown. This was going to be so much of a hassle, but if he had to fake being gay he had to work hard at making that happen so she couldn’t trust him enough to make her hang out with him like she was. “I like her too much not to do this.”


“Last one to the couch is the rotten egg,” Kellen blurted out rushing over to his spot in front of the television with Charles in his arms. “We’re so going to beat your daddy on this one.”

“Not likely,” Kipp announced dropping down onto the couch cushion before Kellen and Charles could claim victory.

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Kellen curled his lip in protest before moving in beside Kipp. “Your daddy cheated Charles.”

“On the contrary I finished with popcorn before you issued the challenge, so you know…” Kipp couldn’t help but tease, “I guess you lost this one this time Kellen.”

“I guess I can live with it as long as I get to sit here with my two favorite men,” Kellen shrugged his shoulders before getting more comfortable. He paused for a moment thinking about the earlier conversation he had with Kipp. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” Kipp forced a small smile before taking in another breath, “ok so maybe my mind is a bit jumbled at the moment, but truth be told right now I don’t want to think about that. I would rather focus on the three of us enjoying the movie together. What movie is it anyways?”

“It’s actually…” Kellen started as Charles let out a small squeal. “What honey bunny? You want to tell him?”

Charles clapped his hands together before reaching out for the remote that Kellen had picked up. He put it into his mouth before giggling once again. He held the drool covered remote out to his father before laughing.

“Dada?” Charles waved the remote around in the air excitedly.

“I think I’ll take that for you little man,” Kipp decided reaching out to accept the remote from his son before turning to Kellen, “So what were we watching?”

“Wipe the drool off of the remote and find out,” Kellen suggested with a small smile seeing Charles reach for the bowl of popcorn that was in Kipp’s lap. “Charles no that’s not good for you. Here try this…”

Kipp watched Kellen offer Charles a bottle and as Kipp wiped at the remote control he couldn’t help but think about how fortunate he’d felt to have this all in his life. When he’d been in an uproar before things had gotten out of hand all around. He never should have walked out on Kellen in a fit of rage. Even as he sat beside his lover, he couldn’t help but recall how drinking had put him in a bad place. Why he’d felt running off and acting like a brat would give him anything other than misery was beyond him. Now as he sat with Kellen and Charles, he just hoped that he would be able to put the whole mess that had transpired with Becca behind him.

“Earth to Kipp,” Kellen waved his hand in front of Kipp’s face once again. “Are you with me?”

“Sorry,” Kipp offered up taking in a small breath, “I was just…”

“Thinking about that little witch,” Kellen frowned back at him. “Kipp, I know what you said about the situation, but the fact to the matter is that you really shouldn’t let Becca get away with what she’s done. She’s a psycho and…”

“She’s not with the company anymore Kellen,” Kipp reminded him with a sigh. “Heather and I will find a way to make sure that things were going to be less tense.”

“Yes, but if that crazy still thinks she has a chance with you,” Kellen trailed off for a long moment. “Heather Babes was obviously trying to help, but…”

“Trust me Kellen it’ll be okay,” Kipp assured him hoping more than anything that would be the case. While Heather had assured him that they would take care of the situation quickly and in a discreet fashion, Kipp couldn’t help but wonder if his association with Becca would be the key to inviting trouble into his life all over again!


Shane watched the end credits coming to a close now that it seemed that he and Diane had been trapped in the elevator for quite some time. She’d been speaking with him earlier in their closeness, but after the movie was half way done he realized she’d grown unusually quiet. Tipping his head to the side he saw that she’d fallen asleep on his shoulder, clearly lost in her own dream world.

“See everything is okay Diane,” he whispered reaching out to push a piece of her long hair away from her face. The movement caused her to snuggle further into him, clearly lost in her dreams when a noise sounded from above. The lights blinked on again and within a matter of seconds there was a small movement vibrating through the elevator.

“What?” Diane questioned groggily her eyes slowly opening. She tipped her head up to look at Shane, a yawn spilling from her lips as her eyes adjusted to the light. “Where are we…are we….?”

“Moving?” he finished for her with a nod. “It looks like the power came on just in time for you to miss the end of the movie.”

“I did,” she blinked at the computer screen before a thought occurred to her. “Did you just say that the power is on?”

“That’s right,” he nodded in response smiling down at her, “It looks like we’re going to be saved after all.”

“Really?” a smile spread out over her face. Her eyes widened with delight and she sat up straighter trying to stretch out her tired limbs. “I can’t believe that I fell asleep like that. One moment I was so afraid and then the next…”

“I bored you to tears,” he teased with a small wink seeing her yawn again.

“No it wasn’t that. I mean I guess I was just so into the movie and then with you sitting there like a warm and cushy pillow,” she glanced over to the spot on his arm where her head had been earlier. She felt a blush rise over her at how comfortable she’d been beside him, “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to…”

“Hey, I didn’t mind,” he grinned back at her before letting out a small laugh, “Though you caught me by surprise when you started snoring and when you started to drool…”

“Oh my God,” she gasped bringing her hand up over her mouth with a horrified expression, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do that…”

“I was kidding,” he laughed lightly amused by her reaction. He carefully put his laptop back in his bag before pulling himself off of the floor. Dusting his slacks off he looked to her again, “I was joking really.”

“Oh,” she felt a blush carry over her face now that he held his hand out to her in an attempt to help her up. She readily accepted his touch and found herself soon on her feet standing beside him.

“See, it’s all better now,” he mouthed in response grinning down at her as the elevator doors opened indicating that they’d reached their floor.

“I wouldn’t have been able to push through it without you,” she admitted with a small smile of her own feeling her exhaustion lingering now that she made movement towards the elevator doors. Grateful to finally reach the floor she stepped out into the dimly lit hallway and glanced over at him again when he’d followed. “I would’ve gone out of my mind without you in there. Being closed in like that would’ve killed me.”

“Then I suppose it’s a good thing that we were trapped together,” he mouthed back, his brown eyes reaching out to hers again in a warm, inviting fashion, “though maybe next time we get together you’ll stay awake for the whole movie.”

“I think I’m more than willing to take a rain check on that after all you made such a good pillow,” she replied in a flirty tone wondering if her exhaustion was finally getting the best of her. She motioned to the apartment down the hall before smiling, “There’s my stop.”

“I’m in the other direction,” he informed her with a small smile of his own, “so I guess this is where we say our good-byes.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” she ran her fingers through her hair before offering up a small wave, “Well thanks again.”

“Thank you--for all the great company,” he waved back at her watching her take a few steps in the general direction of her sister’s apartment before she let out a groan.

“Damn it!” she threw her hands up in the air before spinning around to face him again, “I locked myself out of the apartment. That’s why I got stuck in the situation in the first place.”

“You forgot your key?” he repeated seeing the frown that touched over her lips. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet making a step in towards her, “Let me see if I can help.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have a master key in there would you?” she teased watching him move in towards the door to Deidra’s place.

“This is the apartment, right?” he questioned pointing to the door before looking over at her again.

“Yeah,” she nodded watching him withdraw a card from his wallet.

“The true master lock,” Shane explained holding up a single credit card to show it to her. “You didn’t lock the deadbolt, right?”

She tossed out a small glare in his direction, “I locked myself out on accident so no I didn’t happen to lock the deadbolt.”

“I was just checking,” he shrugged his shoulders before focusing on the lock again. Within a matter of seconds the door popped open and he spun around to face her with a proud smile, “As you can see it works every time.”

“I don’t know whether to be relieved or worried now that it means anyone could get in,” she confessed with a small laugh shaking her head at him.

“I promise I’ll only come in when I’m invited, which I’m hoping won’t be too far away from now,” Shane added with a small wink smiling down at her.

“If you keep playing your cards right you might get an invitation sooner than you think,” she replied watching him for a long moment before making a small step towards the door. She leaned in against the archway before pointing inside, “I should probably get back in here before I end up locking myself out all over again.”

“That’s probably a smart idea,” he nodded in response, “as fun as a repeat performance would be, my battery is running low on the laptop.”

“Then I guess you should probably get a head start on recharging it for the next time,” she laughed lightly giving him a very long once over now that her mind remembered the way the warm lines of his body had put her at ease beside him in the elevator. Shaking her head at the thought she stood up straighter, “Well good night.”

“Good night,” he replied watching her slip into the apartment. She hesitated for a moment before finally closing the door behind her. He heard it lock and he smiled to himself before turning around and heading in the opposite direction near the elevators again. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a cell phone and dialed a number before stepping into the elevators again.

“Hey, it’s me,” Shane explained to the voice on the other end of the line, “What you did tonight with the elevators was brilliant. Yes, I know it was risky, but it was perfect. Yeah, I’m in. That’s right.”

He listened to the voice on the other end of the line before speaking up again.

“Yeah, I’m in and from what I can see Diane’s eating it all up just like I imagined she would. Now it’s only a matter of time before I have her exactly where I want her,” Shane finished saying his good-byes as the elevator doors closed and a proud smirk carried over him after a job well done. He’d orchestrated everything down to the last second with Diane, but it had gone better than he’d thought possible. With Ben out of town it was only a matter of time before Shane had her exactly where he wanted her and there wasn’t a damn thing Ben would be able to change things once he returned. By then Shane would have Diane in every way imaginable and Ben would be helpless to try to regain the life he’d left behind in Coral Valley when he was put on assignment. Everything was, in a word, perfect, Shane realized pushing the button to take him back down to the lobby where he’d meet with his contact to celebrate a job well done!


...to be continued...