Episode 392

“Just put those boxes over there,” Blake motioned to the far corner of the staff offices of the new community center. She watched the man in front of her attempting to maneuver his way through the room only to stumble on one of the chairs in front of his path. “Careful!”

“I think it’s a little late for that now,” Deana noted seeing the man regain his balance only to stumble forward again.

“I’m okay,” he announced pulling himself to an upright position again as both Deana and Blake fought to suppress the urge to laugh. Once he moved into the designated area Blake had pointed him to, Deana turned to her again.

“I guess the crisis was averted,” Deana noted with a playful smirk.

“If it wasn’t I had a nurse here who could patch it up,” Blake mouthed encouragingly back at her.

“An off duty nurse which means I wasn’t about to get wrapped up in it,” Deana added focusing on the box in front of her again. “I’m not going to get caught up in the chaos.”

“Speaking of chaos,” Blake noted seeing Nate approaching through the main doors with a giggling Zane tucked over his shoulder.

“I believe someone misplaced this silly little boy, who has no problems beating me at basketball,” Nate circled around the room spinning just enough to cause Zane to squeal out with delight. “Does anyone want to claim responsibility for this little cheater?”

“I did not cheat,” Zane blurted out firmly kicking his foot into Nate’s shoulder and causing Nate to put him back down on the floor.

“Zane,” Deana frowned going over to snap at her son for his behavior, “You can’t go around kicking people. Tell him you’re sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Nate waved his hand dismissively before smiling up at her, “I don’t mind. He can kick me around whenever he likes to.”

“No he can’t,” Deana added glancing over at her son, “Zane, you apologize.”

“Okay fine,” Zane folded his arms in front of his chest, “I’m sorry you’re such a sore loser Nate.”

“Zane,” Deana huffed in response before Nate held his hand up in the air and smiled over at Zane.

“Apology accepted,” Nate decided with a bright, white grin before motioning to the discarded basketball he and Zane had left behind. “Now how about you get that basketball so that we could have a rematch?”

“You’re so on,” Zane nodded excitedly before racing off to recapture the ball.

“I’m really sorry about that,” Deana began again with a frown, “Normally he is on his best behavior around new people and…”

“Oh I’m not new people,” Nate waved his hand dismissively before smiling at her again, “I’m Don’s brother-in-law Nate Pryce. I’m the man that’s been keeping an eye on the kids, or rather they’ve been keeping an eye on me more often than not.”

“Oh,” Deana’s eyes widened in response seeing Nate’s green eyes sparkle back at her, “Well then maybe I should be the one to apologize considering how rude it was of me not to make it over to introduce myself sooner. I mean I had been at the house briefly, but you weren’t around and…”

“And we’ll have to find a way to bring about a remedy to that,” Nate reached out to take her hand in his. With another mischievous grin, he raised her hand to his lip placing a small kiss on the top of it before speaking up further, “Zane never mentioned that he had such a hot mama in his life.”

“Oh please,” Blake rolled her eyes moving in over to join the conversation. She shook her head at Nate before speaking up again, “You two are practically family in some twisted, round about way. Don’t go scaring my friends away when you should be unpacking boxes Nate.”

“Just because I have community service to do doesn’t mean that I can’t offer Deana my services along the way,” Nate flashed her another grin hoping to make some ground with Deana along the way.

“In that case, why don’t you shift gears and offer them to me,” Blake pushed a box into his arms, “Those go over with the other sports equipment. I’m sure you’ll find it’s place over by the basketball courts.”

“Gee and here I thought I was getting a lighter load by working here today. Why did I ever believe Shannon?” Nate rolled his eyes in response before turning to Deana again. “We’ll chat later. Maybe over dinner or something.”

“Sure,” she smiled back at him before Blake turned to her with wide eyes.

“Please don’t tell me that you’re even going to indulge that idea for a second,” Blake mouthed with a small frown, “You have Grady and…”

“And Nate is practically family like you said. Just because I’m being nice doesn’t mean I want to date him,” Deana pointed out glancing over at Blake, “Where I come from people look out for one another and are nice when someone else reciprocates the gesture.”

“I understand that, but guys like Nate are hoping you reciprocate in other places--specifically the bedroom,” Blake added with a wrinkle of her nose watching Zane follow Nate around to the equipment room, “I know the type very well.”

“I’m not so sure he fits into that mold,” Deana eyed Nate and Zane interacting with one another before her dark eyes glanced in the opposite direction, “but he does.”

“What?” Blake followed her friend’s stare to Zack entering the community center. Her frustrations mounted as she stood taller wondering what was prompting this visit from him. “Why today?”

“It looks like you’re about to find out,” Deana whispered seeing Zack headed over in their general direction.

“Blake,” Zack greeted her with a flashy smile, “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“Hmm, well now that you’ve found me, you can say you’ve completed that mission and you can be on your way,” she started to turn away from him only to feel him snag her arm with his fingers.

“Blake, look I know I’ve been being a jerk lately, but can we just talk for a few minutes,” Zack pleaded with her feeling her resistance. She slowly turned around to see his eyes full of urgency before he softened his tone a bit, “Please just five minutes.”

“Zack I have things I need to do,” she detangled her arm from his touch before stepping back. “I need to get back to work.”

“Fine, then give me five minutes and if after five minutes you feel as if I’ve wasted your time, then I’ll pay for it,” he pulled a blank check out of his pocket, “You just name the price and I’ll donate it to the center. You are after all putting this together in Caitlin’s honor aren’t you?”

“Caitlin and Jade,” she corrected glaring up at him, not wanting him to think that he had anything over her.

“Fine, then for Caitlin and Jade,” Zack nodded back at her, “You just name the price and I’ll make the donation as long as you’re willing to give me five minutes.”

“That’s an awfully long time for a person that no one can stand to tolerate,” Deana piped in glaring at the man that made her miserable at work. “Why should she bother with you?”

“When did this conversation include you?” Zack frowned over at Deana, “I came here to see Blake, not to deal with you.”

“Yeah well guess what she’s here to help me, so you’re the one who is going to have to deal,” Blake scoffed in response glaring up at him, “Zack, don’t play games because I’m not interested. What do you want?”

“Five minutes. That’s all I’m asking,” he pulled out his checkbook further holding it out in the air. “Here to prove I’m serious I’ll let Deana hold onto it and if you aren’t happy with me after five minutes, then she can write the price in.”

“Sounds like a nice idea,” Deana finally decided reaching out to snatch his checkbook, “Though tell me will this bounce when it gets to the bank?”

“I’m good for it,” Zack added, his dark eyes fixed on Blake’s, “You know I am.”

“I honestly don’t know what you’re good for anymore, but since you put the offer out there, I’ll give you five minutes, but only because it’s for the community center,” Blake decided ready to hear what Zack had to say even though she was less than interested.

“The clock starts now,” Deana held up her watch to set the timer, “You had better make it fast.”

“I will, but the talk doesn’t include you,” Zack snarled back at her motioning for Blake to give them some privacy. “How about we go in there?”

“Fine,” Blake nodded moving towards one of the offices with him in the hopes of appeasing him long enough to find a way to get him to leave her alone from here on out!


“I have to be seeing things,” Seth tried to convince himself knowing that he was just lying to himself to try and come up with things to make what he saw seem less real. Knowing that it could have been something else inside of that bag, he tried to convince himself that’s what it was until thinking it over. “I need a second opinion.”

Picking up his proofs, he pushed them together carefully before moving into the hallway and over toward Heather's office, moving in seeing that the door was opened and he saw Heather and Kyle hugging in her office.

“Listen, I’m real sorry to bother you,” Seth began setting the proofs down on Heather’s desk seeing Kyle let go of Heather slowly before moving over toward the desk. Catching the look in Kyle’s hazel eyes Seth knew that Kyle must have realized something was wrong as Seth motioned Heather in closer. “I need you to look at these proofs something is wrong with them.”

“Don’t worry about that Seth,” Heather pressed her hand in over his back seeing how pale Seth’s face looked as Kyle picked one of them up studying it under the light. Looking down at one of the proofs she shrugged her shoulders and looked back up at him. “Photoshop can fix anything.”

“I don’t think this is a Photoshop situation,” Kyle pointed out seeing the way that the color from Seth’s face never seemed to come back and he moved in closer to Seth trying to figure out what it was he saw. “What’s wrong Seth?"

“Well let me see this,” Seth reached out to take the proof from Kyle’s hand and moved in closer to the light placing his finger to point where he had first seen the image. “What does that look like to you?"

“Something you didn’t plan on shooting,” Kyle saw what looked like a man in all black carrying a body bag and he reached for the picture looking it over clearly. “Do you have a better picture because this guy looks like he’s carrying a…,”

“Body in that bag? Yeah, that’s what I thought too,” Seth saw Heather’s eyebrows tighten together as she moved in closer to take the photo from Kyle’s fingers and looked it over. Her green eyes scanned over the picture and she looked up at Seth seeing him nod. “I don’t know how I got this or what was happening, but that sure as hell doesn’t look right.”

“I can’t believe this,” Heather set the proof down reaching for another one seeing the same thing and the more that she looked at it, the more she realized that both Kyle and Seth were right. “This can’t be a body in there, that’s just unbelievable.”

“Think about it Heather, I picked a place most people won’t even be,” Seth stated handing another one to her before shaking his head slowly and looking to Kyle. “No one would have expected me to be there, no one would have thought someone would be there to catch this crime Kyle. What if that really is a body, what if someone was killed in that building Kyle and I just saw it happen without realizing?"

“I have no idea Seth, maybe we’re just seeing things and it’s just something extremely screwed up,” Kyle pointed out seeing the way that Seth looked at him and he watched Seth shrug and look down at the photo again. “You never know, but there is only one way to find out you know.”

“Kyle, don’t even go there,” Heather hit at his chest seeing Kyle picking up a few more proofs to look them over and glance up at Seth. “Kyle that’s dangerous and I know you think it’s your job, but…”

“It’s exactly my job,” Kyle looked down at Heather seeing Seth staring out at him as Kyle pushed the pile together lining them up to look through them one by one. “What do you think Seth?"

“I’m not even getting what you’re hinting at,” Seth began before catching the look that Heather was giving Kyle and he then knew exactly what it was he wanted to do. Taking in a small breath Seth grabbed one of them remembering the exact place he took the photos of. “If you are up for it, then I am too.”


“I knew something wasn’t right when we got out there,” Chris noted thinking about the setup he and Russ had walked right into with one another when they had gone to meet the person who contacted Russ earlier. “Whomever set that up thought you were a problem. They didn’t like that the article was close to something and they wanted to put an end to what was happening here. Though I’m surprised they went after you instead of me.”

“They probably went after me to give you a message,” Russ noted thinking about the close call that he’d been delivered when he was out earlier. Frowning he turned to eye the notes he’d jotted down on the paper before his meeting. “Something tells me that we’re onto something big.”

“Obviously. I mean it’s not everyday someone just pulls a gun out on you,” Chris noted when there was a sound from the door to Russell’s office. Both men looked up to see Avery standing in the doorway with a scowl on her face.

“What?” she huffed stepping into the room and eyeing Russ expectantly. “Did he just say a gun?”

“Well yes, but…” Chris started standing up as he looked over to Avery.

“We were discussing a story that we’re working on,” Russ tried to reason with her watching the way in which her brown eyes narrowed with disapproval.

“What the hell kind of story involves a man pulling a gun on you Russ? Where were you and what the hell were you thinking?” Avery questioned placing her hands on her hips expectantly in an attempt to pull the truth out of him, “Well?”

“We were investigating the murder of that drug lord down in Florida,” Chris answered for Russ offering him a moment of out as Avery looked over to Chris. “I ran a story on the man and his ties to Coral Valley, then today someone called Russ offering to give him more information on what was going on. The man said he had the truth about what happened and we went to go investigate.”

“What? Why?” Avery tipped her head to the side to glare at Russ, “Why would you even involve yourself in something like this when you have a whole hell of a lot more to think about at home like maybe our daughter?”

“Avery, I took Chris with me because I didn’t trust that it was on the up and up,” Russ continued to explain to her with a frown, “I had a feeling that something was off and we were careful.”

“How could you be careful when there was a gun pointed at you Russ? What if someone would’ve shot you?” she shook her head unable to believe that he’d behaved so foolishly. “Haven’t we been through enough here without your getting into something like this?”

“Avery, it’s not like that,” Russ began with a pained expression, “It’s just…”

“Your being stupid and getting in over your head again,” she frowned down at him, “I cannot believe that you didn’t learn the first time around.”

“Avery, I was okay. Chris and I were…” Russ started again trying to plead his case with her.

“You were nothing. Russ you could’ve been shot and after I lost you once, I can’t see how I could explain you being gone to our daughter again. I can’t live through something like that again Russ,” she added with a frustrated sigh watching as Chris rose up from the chair.

“You know I think I’m going to give you two a few minutes alone,” Chris cleared his throat uneasily. “In fact I think I’ll look over this story and give you a break from it. I think that this really ties back to my article and if I get back to it, then I’m sure I can figure out what’s going on.”

“Chris, I don’t want you to go out on your own with this one,” Russ added glancing over at the man he’d been working with.

“Trust me Russ. I think we’re onto something and the people behind this are from a very powerful family,” Chris paused a thought carrying over him, “which you know brings up an interesting point now that they tried to involve you.”

“Yeah, what’s that?” Avery questioned with irritation in her tone.

“Well, half this town knows that Russ is an Ashford now, which by the way I’ll be the first to say how much that sucks for you Russ, but still. Someone knew that Russ is from a power family. They called him and were trying to make a point today,” Chris paused a thought carrying over him, “Maybe they were trying to drill something home to the Ashfords like they did with Guerrero when they shot him.”

“Russ doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of drug lord Chris. Neither one of us do,” Avery piped in almost immediately shaking her head at him.

“Maybe not, but Brant runs a pharmaceutical company. He works in the drug business,” Chris mouthed in response his eyes lighting up at the suggestion, “Then again maybe this is more about the Ashfords than I thought before.”

“I think you’re headed in the wrong direction Chris,” Avery mouthed in response shaking the thought from her mind. “Brant isn’t involved in that.”

“You say that now, but how well did you know the man? You thought he cared about you and then he destroyed you,” Chris added seeing the wounded expression on Avery’s face. “He could have a whole other life like his father did--scheming and plotting to make the world around him miserable. You can’t trust anything in that family, well other than with you of course Russ.”

“Right,” Russ replied giving him a firm look before Chris offered up a wave.

“I’m just going to get on that research right away and you two, well do what you do, but Avery don’t kill him. He was really doing a good thing whether you believe it or not,” Chris added with another wave before leaving Russ and Avery alone with one another in his office.

Once the door closed behind Chris and his exit Avery turned to face down Russ again. Her brown eyes were filled with anger, the sharpness in her earlier tone was nothing to prepare him for the obvious anger that carried over her in the here and now. It was going to be one hell of a confrontation Russ realized and he bit down on his lip ready to take whatever it was she was going to dish out at him.

“Do you have any idea how stupid it was to do something like that?” she questioned in a tight, angry whisper. She shook her head refusing to allow herself a moment of upset now that she saw him standing before her. “Russ why would you do something so stupid?”

“Avery, I was just following a lead and I was also covering my back,” he stood up from his chair making his way over to her and seeing that she was extremely upset. “Avery honey…”

“Russ, this is exactly what happened the last time. This is why we almost fell apart before. Does Bruce not mean anything to you?” she tossed back at him with a huff, “You promised me back then that you wouldn’t get involved in something dangerous and then I lost you.”

“You didn’t lose me Avery. I’m right here,” he reached out to her feeling her punch at the center of his chest.

“I lost you for months Russ. You were gone and I couldn’t be with you. It felt like my whole world was crashing down around me and for you to do something like this,” she moved to hit him again before tears overtook her, “Damn you Russ!”

“Avery, I’m sorry,” he reached out to embrace her hugging her tightly, “I never meant to upset you.”

“Of course you never mean to, but you don’t think. You don’t think about what doing something like that can do to our family. If you get involved in something dangerous it will turn around and hurt Erin and I,” Avery reminded him sharply, “We have all come too close to have happiness just for you to toss it away in the name of some story that six months from now won’t matter.”

“I realize that and I’m sorry,” he started hating to see her upset. He reached out to touch her cheek gently before urging her dark eyes to meet his again, “Avery, I never wanted to upset you.”

“Even so that doesn’t mean you’re not going to do something like this again, does it Russ? You’re not going to give up on this story are you?” she tossed back at him with a frown already seeing the truth building behind his green eyes, “Damn it Russ when are you going to learn? When it’s too late?”

“Avery, I…” he started feeling her push away from him angrily.

“No don’t you Avery me because I swear to you Russ if you’re going to chase this stupid story, then you can kiss our future goodbye. I’m not going to stand back and pretend that I’m okay with you going out and getting yourself into trouble. If you’re going to be inviting danger into our lives then let me know so that Erin and I can get the hell out before it turns into what we had happen the last time,” she warned him placing her hands on her hips. “I refuse to go through that again.”

“Avery, it’s not the same thing and if memory serves me correctly what happened with Bruce was not my fault. I’m not the one who invited him into our lives,” he tossed back at her almost immediately regretting it by the expression on her face.

“Oh of course you would blame it on me,” she rolled her eyes at the comment, “because it’s much easier to assign blame on anyone other than yourself. Face it Russ you thrive on danger and that’s why when something like this arises you can’t just turn away from it.”

“Avery that’s not true,” he started once again hating to fight with her over what had taken place.

“No Russ it is. You like playing the hero and you like getting wrapped up in trouble when it presents itself in front of you. You’re so hung up on trying to rescue the world that…” she continued to spout off at him only to feel him pull her into his arms laying a kiss on her. She kissed him in response for a brief second before pulling away from him ever so slightly, “If you think that you can shut me up with a kiss then…”

Russell’s lips descended to hers again, kissing her with more passion and fire than he had the first time around. While he knew Avery had a point, he was also aware that their fighting over what had taken place would not make the situation any easier on anyone. Knowing that and feeling her upset in his arms, Russ continued to kiss her hoping that somehow they could find some kind of middle ground with one another without turning this into a full blown war!


“So how are we doing in here?” Brant questioned rejoining Angela and Michael in Michael’s lab to go over the details of the work they were putting out with one another. While Brant had found himself in a bit of a moral dilemma earlier he thought back to how Cameron had tried to destroy him and that thought in itself seemed to take away the guilt. Brant had no doubt in his mind had Angela remembered everything that was going on in her life, that she would’ve found a way to go above and beyond the call of duty to help Brant and his company. She loved him and was going to be the mother of his children, so why wouldn’t she want his company to move ahead with the marketing of something that could save so many lives? So what if her brother was pushing to make the same discoveries. When it came down to it Angela wanted to be with Brant--to marry him and be his wife, so why the hell couldn’t she help him better the legacy for their children.

“Phenomenal,” Michael revealed tipping his head up from the microscope that he’d been staring at for quite some time. He glanced over at Angela before grinning, “You should’ve brought her here sooner. I had no idea she could shed so much light on this project Brant. Where have you been hiding her?”

“She’s been tucked away in my palace for a while, but now, well now I’m glad she’s here to be helping me,” Brant admitted with glance over at her. He felt a warmth carry over him in seeing Angela come to life next to the computer monitor she was at. Leaning in against the counter he couldn’t help but smile, “I would do anything for her, so I’m thankful that she’s here with me.”

“I just cannot believe how easy this is,” Angela divulged tipping her head up to speak to Brant, “I mean when it gets down to it this was all a situation with minor miscalculations. I’m sure if you do what I told you, then you’re going to find much better trials for this in the future.”

“I’m going to get started on that right away,” Michael revealed looking between the both of them, “Now that you’ve pointed me in the right direction, I’m going to call my team in and see what we can do with this.”

“That sounds great,” Brant mouthed the corners of his lips tipping up in a smile as Michael walked in over to him.

“You should’ve hired her a long time ago. Who knew she could do lawyer work and research as well,” Michael couldn’t help but laugh lightly.

“Oh she’s not…” Brant started to explain, but Michael was out the door. While Brant had thought he’d cleared up the confusion about Angela versus Avery, he realized he would still need to speak with Michael. Of course now it didn’t matter because he had Angela alone and that was something he’d waited for all day. Carefully he closed the door behind Michael’s exit before moving in closer to her, “You know I can’t even begin to thank you enough for what you’re doing here.”

“I don’t mind at all,” she admitted taking a step back to point at the notes she’d jotted down, “Want to take a look at them?”

“Honestly I’m more of the money behind this than the researcher. I don’t know the first thing about how all of this works,” he waved his hand around in the air casually, “but I pay to have the best working for me that way I can help make a difference.”

“If this will do what Michael claims it will, then I would say it’s certainly making a difference,” she noted with a soft smile, her dark hair framing her face ever so slightly. “This is a major discovery Brant.”

“I know and I hope that with it comes something that will change the world as we know it. I’m hoping more specifically that it’ll change my world as well,” he revealed with a small sigh catching the way she was staring at him.

“What do you mean?” she couldn’t help but ask with a small frown, “Is it about the money for you? Is that why you’re doing this?”

“Given all the money I’ve invested into this project, I stand to lose more than I could ever gain if this goes sour,” he admitted thinking about what had driven him to enter into the project in the first place. “I’m actually looking to rediscover my dignity in all of this once the drug is on the market.”

“I can’t see how a new find like this would offer you dignity. Maybe fame and fortune and a place in the medical world for the break thru, but…” she started watching him closely. He inched in closer to her, his eyes shifting with the moment and within a matter of seconds they were a mere footstep away from one another.

“When my father was alive he did some really horrible things and he used this company to front them,” he revealed to her in a soft, raw tone, his brown eyes reaching into hers. “He was involved in some very shady dealings--so much so that it brought shame to my company long after he did. Even now I’m still haunted by his mistakes and while I realize that such a discovery as what we could have on our hands is something that could help a great many people, I also know that it would take away the stigma that my father put to this company. People wouldn’t look at me and see his mistakes, but rather my successes.”

“So you’re hoping to vindicate yourself somehow by pushing this into the market,” she arched a speculative brow her gaze dropping down to his lips almost instinctively in spite of herself.

“Something like that,” he nodded in confession reaching out to push a loose strand of her dark hair behind her ear, “That makes me sound incredibly vain doesn’t it?”

“It has a certain nobility to it even if you are trying to escape the past,” she paused her dark eyes narrowing up at him, “though I have to warn you that you can never truly escape what’s haunting you. As long as you hold it inside, it never really goes away.”

“Been there, done that?” he couldn’t help but ask searching her eyes for a long moment.

“Let’s just say I’ve grown up in a world of corruption and it’s left me a bit jaded. I find it very hard to trust anyone considering that most people have an agenda,” she paused as Brant felt a twinge of guilt rush over him at his allowing her to help him with his project when he knew full well she’d been working for the enemy. “I guess it’s just hard to see what people’s true motivations are when it comes to me. Most people are looking for something other than what I’m able to give them. They fall under the illusion that because I am who I am it will give them access to the inner circle, but the workings aren’t exactly that cut and dry.”

“And just what is it that you want?” he questioned softening his tone a bit, now that his hand rested gently on the side of her face, “What is it that motivates you?”

“A hunger and a passion,” she tipped her head up, her lips parting with an exaggerated breath that carried over her. “I want more than anything to be able to express who I truly am without the whole empire my father has built hanging over my head. I’m tired of being seen as the daughter of Cyrus Stone--the woman that has been kept on a leash because her father feared what would happen should his enemies get his hands on her. I want to be free.”

“And do you believe that you’re close to that freedom?” he couldn’t help but ask leaning in over her, his eyes darting down to see her lips curl in a bit of a sultry pout.

“I did once, but now,” she forced herself to look away unable to face the conflicting emotions inside of her, “I don’t know what I have anymore.”

“Maybe the problem isn’t with what you have,” he curled his finger underneath her chin urging her to meet his gaze again, “but rather in where you’re looking for it. Perhaps the answer to all of your prayers is right in front of you waiting for you to take the reigns and make it yours all over again.”

“I don’t know if it’s that easy Brant,” she sighed leaning into his touch and feeling her heart hammering in her chest at the scent of his rugged cologne.

“Nothing worth having ever is, but that’s part of the thrill,” he whispered warmly over her lips, feeling her breath intermingle with his. He watched her eyelids fall to a close, her lips curved in anticipation of the kiss he’d been dying to lay on her since he’d been with her earlier this morning. He could feel her so very close to him--remember so vividly all of the times he had waken up with her beside him, had loved her until they both were unable to focus on anything else other than being lost in one another and now that he could almost caress her soft, luscious lips with his, he found himself filled with a longing--with an unspoken need that could no longer be denied.

“Brant, you’re never going to believe this!” Michael’s voice boomed out bringing them both back to the moment as Angela jumped back with a start.

“What?” Brant questioned fighting to suppress the frustration in his tone now that Michael had killed the moment between them.

“I think we’ve got it. I think we really have all we need to go into the next phase of the project,” Michael explained excitedly bringing an end to any and all hopes of reconnecting with Angela on an intimate level. Now as Brant found himself faced with the promise of a break thru with his company, he realized he had no choice, but to run with it and hope that when Angela regained all of her memory that she would understand why he was going to have to make the decision that he was about to make for the greater good of BBK!


“I can’t believe that your brother would just offer up a private jet for us like this,” Evie admitted taking in a small breath as she looked around the plush interior of Cameron’s personal luxury form of transportation. While she’d half anticipated her and JT taking just a simple commercial flight out of town, JT’s brother had gone above and beyond the call of duty in offering up such a surprising ride for her and JT.

Now that the two were in the center of Cameron’s jet, Evie couldn’t help but take notice of the oversized plush red and black interior. In some ways she couldn’t help but think that it reminded her of one of those old fashioned gothic movies where Dracula would take his time in attempting to win over the damsel in distress who clearly had no idea of where his intentions would lead them. Only unlike the blushing innocent in most of those films who were taken aback by the sultry setting that the leather and suede seats provided, Evie couldn’t help but be intrigued.

“It’s a bit much I know, but…” JT offered up feeling her hesitate as he moved in behind her in the isle. He placed his hand on the small of her back before speaking up again. “Cameron’s got this thing with coming across as intimidating and…”

“Luxurious,” she finished with a tiny smirk. Turning around to face him, she couldn’t help but reveal, “I was starting to feel like a modern day gothic film and I’m Mina Murray ready to turn myself over to all that Dracula could offer up in this lifetime and beyond.”

“Really?” JT couldn’t help but smile watching her walk across the row to one of the oversized chairs. She traced her fingertips across the back of it before meeting his eyes once again.

“It’s all incredibly darkly romantic, don’t you think?” she wiggled her brow suggestively before motioning to the mini bar across from where she’d moved.

“Considering that you have this sudden fascination with my brother’s jet I think I need to be concerned,” he couldn’t help but laugh making his way towards the mini bar and pulling out a bottle that had been on ice. “Though in that same respect something tells me that you wouldn’t be the woman who was waiting for Jonathan Harker to rush forward and rescue her under this setting.”

“Why would I want him to?” she shrugged her shoulders simply. “There’s something to be said about the bad boy…”

“Bad boy,” he glanced over his shoulder to find her seated on the chair in front of him, “see now I was starting to think that the idea of a bad boy would be the last thing to spark an interest in you, but then again if you were anticipating a Keanu Reeves coming in and sweeping you out of my arms…”

“Keanu Reeves?” she wrinkled her nose at the suggestion, “No, I was referring to the novel silly not the film Dracula. Although if we’re talking about movies, then I would probably have to take my Dracula as Gerard Butler. I mean Dracula 2000 wasn’t the greatest of films, yet there was just something about that enigmatic charm that he works over everyone in that movie. His story was just brushed over before the film ended all too premature for my liking.”

“So now you’re telling me that you would be more than willing to walk away from me for a Scotsman, huh?” he couldn’t help but laugh moving to pour them both a drink of the sparkling juice that he’d instructed one of the pilots to bring onto the jet earlier. He turned to face her holding out a champagne flute and smiling, “and here I thought that you found my accent sexy in itself.”

“Your accent is incredibly charming, but there’s just something to be said about a man who can play dark and daring and can pull off one of the most challenging roles with an air of romance and mystique,” she explained accepting the champagne flute before JT moved in to the seat beside her.

“So you’re saying if I put on a cape and tried to nibble on your neck, you’d find me all the more appealing?” he wiggled his brow suggestively before leaning in with a mocking tone hinting at a Transylvanian accent. “I vant to suck your blood.”

“JT stop,” she swatted at his chest playfully while almost choking on her juice. She felt him nibble on her earlobe and she giggled with delight. “JT I mean it.”

“What?” he winked back at her. “I was just giving in to the fantasy theme you had going now that my brother’s jet has aroused your dark side.”

“I wouldn’t say it was the jet entirely,” she reached out to bunch the fabric of his black t-shirt between her fingers. Urgently she tugged on the material and pulled him in closer to her, “as the company I’m keeping might have something to do with it as well.”

“You don’t say,” he feigned seriousness before meeting her dark eyes with a hint of laughter in his tone, “though I must confess if you’re looking for a bad boy I’m in the process of reforming my evil ways.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” she mouthed her gaze dropping down to linger upon his ever so kissable lips. “I happen to like the way that you try to play my hero even though it has to feel like a completely foreign notion to you.”

“Honestly,” he paused setting his champagne flute on the small table between their seats. He reached out to touch her cheek tenderly before speaking up again, “it isn’t a role that I’m accustomed to, but it’s one that I’m learning to appreciate more and more each day.”

“In that case, let me provide you some further motivation to keep going with it,” she suggested leaning forward to kiss him tenderly now that it was clear they were finally getting things on track with one another by taking the time to leave Coral Valley behind them.

“We’re about to take off sir,” the pilot explained over the loudspeaker breaking the both of them from their moment.

“I suppose we should get you buckled in,” JT sighed pressing his forehead in against hers, “but rest assured when we get in the air I’m fairly certain that you’ll appreciate the in flight film.”

“Is that right?” she replied catching the hint of teasing behind his eyes. “What is it?”

“You’ll see,” he reached for her hand in his, “but I’m sure you’ll love it.”

“I know I will,” she nodded placing her hand on his shoulder and smiling now that they were about to begin their adventure with one another.


Cameron’s jet sped off down the runway at the private airport, but as Evie's father sat in his car watching it’s ascent into the clouds, he knew that his daughter wouldn’t be able to ignore him forever. While Evie had it in her mind that she could play the situation both ways, he knew that one day he would have to put her in line again. If she honestly believed she could betray him with Douglas Mahoney’s son, then she would find herself sadly mistaken when he took action for her disobedience.

“You’ll get what’s coming to you sweetheart,” he vowed setting the binoculars down long enough to turn his attention to the newspaper in front of him. He reached for it pulling it up and off of the passenger side seat of his car. A smile teased over the corners of his lips as he saw the face of the past that had now become something of an obsession of his. Tracing his lines over her smile, he couldn’t help but realize that now wasn’t about being passive. It was about being proactive in reclaiming what was rightfully his. With a little luck he would be able to reclaim all that he’d been cheated out of and once he was finished with that, he would return his attention to his insubordinate daughter and deal with her and her precious boy toy. All in good time, but for now he had another far more appealing target that he wasn‘t about to walk away from.


“What do you want Zack?” Blake questioned folding her arms in front of her chest while glaring up at him. She could see something brewing behind his dark eyes and as he took a step in closer to her, she moved backwards careful to keep a distance between them. “Well?”

“Blake I miss you,” he blurted out without hesitation, “I know that you probably don’t believe that, but I hate this…”

“I don’t really care if you mean it or not Zack,” she added with a huff refusing to offer up an inch in their conversation.

“Blake, that’s what I’m talking about. I hate that we’ve come to this. We were friends once, weren’t we?” he couldn’t help but ask with a pained expression on his face. “We used to have a lot of fun with one another.”

“That was a lifetime ago,” she added stiffly her blue eyes searching his features and feeling as if there was no sincerity behind them. “We’re different people now.”

“We’re not that different. I’m still the same guy you knew back in college--the one who liked to spend time with you and have fun with you. We did have fun, didn’t we Blake?” he questioned hoping to find something to work with in her eyes.

“We did, but it was a long time ago. Just like everything else we shared,” she pointed out honestly, “Zack a lot of things changed since you were in town before.”

“I know that and some of those things I wish I could take back. Blake, I hate how we ended things with one another,” he sighed bringing his hand up to run his fingers through his blonde hair. “You and I had a connection to one another--we shared something special and I know that when you found out that Johanna was pregnant it changed things for us. I know I hurt you and I hated that.”

“As much as I felt it hurt me Zack in the long run it did something good for me. I found love in my life with someone I was meant to be with,” Blake explained honestly thinking about Seth. “I’m happy now.”

“But you would’ve been even happier with me. Blake, I know all about Valerie and how Seth keeps dragging you along. I knew the guy was no good from the moment I met him, but now, well now I can see he’s just leading you along for the ride and I don’t like it. You deserve better,” he informed her with a small sigh shaking his head again.

“You’re just about the last person to tell me what I deserve,” she rolled her eyes at his comment, “because from where I stand I think you did a number on me far worse than what he could’ve done.”

“See and that reaffirms my belief that we still have something there between us,” Zack added reaching out to touch her arm gently, “Blake you and I never had any closure between us and that’s because Johanna came into town and she was having Cody. Things got jumbled, but they aren’t jumbled any longer. Blake, I never stopped caring about you or wishing that we could find a way to pick up where we left off with one another.”

“Zack what we had was a mistake,” she informed him with a heavy sigh, “we were two people who thought we knew what we were doing, but we were so completely wrong in even thinking we could make something of it.”

“You didn’t think it was wrong when we made love to one another--when you shared your virginity with me,” he reached out to touch the side of her face only to feel her pull away from him.

“Don’t flatter yourself Zack,” she mouthed curling her lip in a pout, “I know what I said, but I wasn’t being honest with you. Seth and I already covered that one with one another before I ran to you.”

“Now who is the liar?” he called her bluff arching a curious brow at her, “Blake, you know damn well that you waited for me because deep down you knew that you and I would end up together. You believed that we could finally have happiness in our lives and we could share our love for one another just like Caitlin wanted for us.”

“Don’t you dare even go there,” Blake snapped back at him with a shake of her head, “Don’t you use Caitlin as a tool to manipulate me. She warned me that you were a player and she wanted me to steer clear of a relationship with you. She may have loved you as her brother, but she knew we were no good for one another.”

“She wanted me to find happiness with the woman I loved and that woman is you Blake,” Zack reached out to her boldly grabbing her and pulling her into his arms. Before she could say a word, his lips crashed down over hers stifling her protests with a rough kiss.

“Damn it Zack,” Blake pushed away from the kiss, not bothering to return it as her hand slapped him sharply across the cheek. She shoved her hand into his chest before moving backwards with a frown, “Get over yourself. I’m not interested and I don’t know how many different ways I have to tell you that. God, if you’re so hard up for attention, why don’t you go back to your wife and your son?”

“That’s why you’re not going to let me in isn’t it?” he frowned back at her, “Because you are still upset about Jo and Cody.”

“No, I’m really not,” she brought her hand up through her hair, “Zack the fact to the matter is that the window passed for us a long time ago and it really is best for us that we have moved on. I’m happy now--happier than I’ve ever been in my life and I don’t need you complicating that for me Zack. I’m not interested in recapturing what we had.”

“You’re just saying that because you’re afraid to fact the fact that we belong together. Seth can’t make you happy. He can’t even give you the kind of commitment that you need,” Zack reached out to her again only to feel her pull away, “Blake!”

“Save it Zack,” Blake warned him sharply as Deana popped her head into the room.

“I believe your five minutes are up,” Deana added sensing the tension in the air between Zack and Blake. “How much should I write the check out for?”

“Give me that,” Zack huffed snatching his checkbook away from Deana and shoving it back into his pocket. He turned to look over at Blake again before shaking his head, “You’re making a big mistake Blake.”

“The only mistake I made was in giving you the five minutes,” Blake replied with a shake of her head watching him stomp out of the community center.

“I guess he won’t be missing this,” Deana plucked the signed check Zack had on the top of his checkbook out of her pocket. “I knew the cheapskate couldn’t be trusted.”

“No he can’t,” Blake groaned bringing her hand up through her hair, “I cannot believe that I even thought it was a smart idea to get involved with him. I mean I slept with the guy one time--just one time and suddenly he thinks he’s the great love of my life.”

“If you ask me one time is one time too many there,” Deana noted glancing over at the check she had in her hands. “Though we all make mistakes.”

“Yeah, but I can’t believe that he actually thought I would be begging him to take him back,” Blake couldn’t help but roll her eyes, “After all I’ve heard about how he’s been now that he’s back--he’s so far from being what I want. Still he thinks he’s got me all figured out.”

“You should see him at the hospital, but then again half of the girls are dumb enough to buy into his lines,” Deana admitted with a sigh still looking to the check in her hands again, “You aren’t going to let me use this for a donation are you?”

“As much as I would like that, I’m afraid not,” Blake shook her head firmly taking a seat on the edge of one of the desks. “I couldn’t do that considering that I don’t want my center off to a bad start.”

“Fine, then I’ll do something even better,” Deana walked over to the one computer that was working in the office. She glanced over at Blake and smiled with a wicked smirk, “This wouldn’t happen to have the internet on it, would it?”

“Yeah it does, why?” Blake asked watching Deana click away on the keyboard with a grin on her face.

“Let’s just say I think it’s long past due that we give Zack something he’ll never forget--something that will certainly make an impression on him and those around him,” Deana added with a tiny chuckle as Blake circled around the desk to see the site Deana had gone to.

“What in the…” Blake’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped as she saw the various X-rated toys on the page in front of her. “Deana, where did you find this?”

“Let’s just say that not all of my co-workers are on the up and up,” Deana revealed clicking to the order form page. “Plus my cousin was a big goober and he and his friends would look up stuff like this and send some really appalling things to teachers or former bosses that gave them a rough time.”

“You’re kidding,” Blake couldn’t help but laugh, “You’re not kidding are you?”

“Unfortunately not. Even Jason got into trouble sometimes playing along with my cousin, but this time, well this time I think Zack has it coming to him. So what do you think will strike Zack’s fancy?” Deana shifted to the side to give Blake a view of the various products in front of her. “What do you think most fits his personality?”

“I can tell you now most of them don’t even match what he’s got in his pants,” Blake blurted out without a second thought, “They obviously don’t make them that small.”

“In that case, maybe we need to get him something so that he can find a new way to overcompensate,” Deana suggested moving to click in on one of the images in front of her.

“No wait,” Blake stopped her from doing so as she pointed to another part of the screen. “That’s it. That’s exactly what Zack should have right there.”

“You know,” Deana’s dark eyes followed Blake’s suggestion as she grinned, “You’re absolutely right. This one is perfect for him. It’s so good that you would think that Zack was here himself picking it out.”

“I’m sure he’s going to drop dead on the spot when he sees it,” Blake couldn’t help but laugh watching Deana begin to place the order.

“Hey, I can’t help what he gets on the net. His sexual orientation is all his own business,” Deana mouthed in response putting a few numbers into the computer. “Of course I’m sure that once this hit’s the hospital, it won’t be just his business any longer. Hell, I’m willing to bet all the people he’s been hitting on will see just what a stud he isn’t.”

“Amen to that,” Blake replied enjoying this time with Deana and entering into mindless fun after Zack had once again upset her day. Sure, maybe she and Deana were a bit out of line, but given how strongly Zack was coming on and refusing to back off, Blake didn’t mind returning the favor and humiliating him for a change!


“I don’t believe this,” Alexa sighed stepping over the ruins of the strip club she and Ben had attempted to go to the previous night. While they’d gotten the lead from the matchbook they had found, what they had encountered was a completely different story. Even now as she saw the charred pieces of building surrounding her, she could remember the blaze she and Ben had almost walked into. They had pulled up to the lot, prepared to blend in with the club and just when they were almost to the front door there was the loud popping explosion. Even now she still felt chills carry over her from it.

“How are you holding up?” Ben questioned walking over and placing a police issue blanket around her shoulders now that it was clear she was shivering. She tipped her head up to meet his concerned gaze before frowning.

“I’m ticked off. Does that surprise you?” she scowled in response ready to shrug off the blanket, but then she realized she was still dressed in the leather pants and the black sparkling halter top that had gotten her a lot of attention from the local police. She knew full well she looked like a common street walker, but still it was irrelevant to what was happening around her.

“If we would’ve gotten here a few minutes earlier, we would’ve been dead,” Ben pointed out feeling a bit uncomfortable in his club gear as well. He cleared his throat again before trying to run his fingers through his over gelled hair. Giving up on the attempt he dipped his hands into his pockets and met her frustrated eyes again, “Alexa someone was trying to keep us from finding what was in there.”

“And they certainly succeeded didn’t the,” she scoffed in response shaking her head before a pinched squeal built up in the back of her throat. “Ben, there is no way that someone would’ve known we were coming unless someone on the inside leaked the information.”

“Maybe it wasn’t only about us,” Ben tossed out at her thinking about the case that they were working on, “Perhaps someone tied to Domingo and Guerrero was covering their tracks after their murders.”

“Whatever it was it’s put us even more behind,” she sighed again feeling tension carry over her. “All these months of work down the drain. We’re no closer than where I was when I started now Ben.”

“Yes you are,” Ben explained shaking his head at her, “Lexie you have to keep in mind that you uncovered something big. This case wouldn’t be where it was if it wasn’t for your hard work and dedication. You need to feel good about that.”

“Take a look around Ben. People are dead,” she shook her head at him with a heavy scowl, “In my book all of this chaos and destruction is so far from being a positive.”

“I’m not saying it’s a positive, but…” he stopped himself throwing his arms in the air. “Look I’m not going to fight with you about this. Yes this entire situation sucks, but there isn’t a thing that either one of us can do to change it.”

“But I’m sure if we would’ve been in there,” she started again unable to get over her frustrations.

“We would’ve been dead and we aren’t. That’s a good thing,” he pointed out once again before thinking about what he’d learned earlier. “Callaway called me and told me that the number on that matchbook checks out. It’s a boat rental place down by the pier.”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” she questioned with a glare thinking about all the time they had wasted standing around doing nothing.

“You didn’t let me get the chance,” Ben pointed out shaking his head at her, “but if you want to get cleaned up first before we go…”

“No way,” she shook her head firmly, “I want to find out just who Domingo was calling and what they know before someone decides to blow that place up as well.”

“Then I’ll go get the car,” Ben decided ready to move onto their next adventure with one another.


“You sure you’re going to be alright?” Deidra questioned adjusting her earring as she walked into the kitchen to discover Diane nose deep in a cookbook. With a frown Deidra leaned in against the side of the door to watch her sister tinkering with the ingredients in front of her for whatever culinary project Diane had taken up in her moment of boredom. “What are you doing to my kitchen?”

“Creating inspiration,” Diane piped in brightly before reaching for the bowl she’d started mixing things in. “If you stick around long enough you’ll be able to check out my masterpiece.”

“As tempting as that sounds, Dean and I have a few things we’re going to be doing today and then we have reservations tonight,” Deidra paused for a long moment as the timer was going off on the stove. She watched Diane set the bowl down before tending to whatever was baking in the oven. “Though I would like to have a clean kitchen when I return.”

“Oh would you relax,” Diane waved her hand dismissively before reaching for the hot pad on the counter. She bent down and carefully pulled out the pastry dish that she’d put together in a moment of impulse. “Everything will be right where you left it before I started working in here.”

“It had better be,” Deidra noted seeing Diane set the pan down to cool before returning to the mixture that she’d been set on putting together. “So what are you working on exactly?”

“It’s a thank you,” Diane explained brightly tipping her head up to meet her sister’s curious eyes. “I figure it’s the least I can do for your new neighbor that managed to find a way to rescue me last night.”

“Rescue you?” Deidra arched a curious brow. “How so?”

“Remember how I told you I was locked out of the apartment,” Diane recounted with a thoughtful expression, “Well when I went downstairs to get the spare key, no one was at the security desk and then I came back up here. Only instead of being able to get inside, I found out that the elevators had gone haywire and I was trapped inside with Shane.”

“Who is Shane?” Deidra inquired blankly.

“He’s your dreamy new neighbor whose tall, dark and handsome. He has one of the sexiest British accents, not that I was noticing it much because I’m a happily involved woman, but I must say he leapt up to the role of hero rather well,” Diane mused with an expanding grin. “Just when I thought I was about to lose it altogether, he talked me down from a panic attack and before I knew it, I was falling asleep watching cartoons with him.”

“Cartoons? In the elevator?” Deidra replied with a wrinkled expression. “How did you pull that one off?”

“He had his laptop in there, which by the way he used to contact a friend to let them know that we were trapped and before I knew it, we were up here and he helped me break back into your place,” Diane finished her story with a bright smile. “I was able to get back to my Thai food and enjoy relaxing for a while.”

“So let me get this right? You met some handsome stranger in the elevator who wound up helping you break into my apartment, thus proving the major flaws in the security here, and I’m supposed to feel relief about this, why?” Deidra tossed back at her with a frown.

“He wasn’t trying to break and enter,” Diane waved her hand dismissively, “but rather he was simply helping me out when I needed someone. It beats the alternative considering that…”

“That what?” Deidra stepped in closer to take a look at Diane’s concoction.

“That I would much rather be stuck in an elevator with someone nice instead of some creeps like Andy,” Diane shuddered at the thought. “At first when Shane stepped into the elevator I almost believed that I would wind up being trapped with Andy, but Shane was there instead.”

“And the fact that he’s hot and has an accent doesn’t at all make last night’s experience all the more exciting to you, does it?” Deidra frowned at the expression on her sister’s face. “I would have thought you’d learned with JT that a cute guy with an accent was nothing, but trouble.”

“JT was different,” Diane wrinkled her nose at the thought. “He was the kind of guy that I wanted to be with when I was younger because he was the wrong guy. He was wild and impulsive and despite all of his flaws he was amazing in some ways…”

“Stop right there!” Deidra ordered bringing her hand up in the air. “I don’t want to hear about your sex life with JT again.”

“It really was the high point of our relationship, which is disappointing that he turned out to be such a slime dog because he seemed like he was sweet in the beginning,” Diane frowned.

“No he seemed like he could show you a good time, which is something that I thought you evolved past in your life Diane,” Deidra added bluntly. “You’re with Ben now and I thought that…”

“Deidra!” Diane squealed tossing a hand towel she’d been wiping her hands with at her sister. “I love Ben and for you to imply differently just because I can talk about my former lovers so candidly is just…”

“My way of knowing when you’re about to get yourself into trouble. Diane, I know that you and Ben are happy, but I also know that you’re your own worst enemy when you’re feeling like you’re isolated. When I think about what happened with JT the last time,” Deidra warned her sharply.

“Hey, I didn’t judge you when you decided to sleep with a known serial killer, so I don’t expect you to rub my nose in my mistakes Deidra,” Diane retaliated with a huff. She caught wind of the wounded expression on her sister’s face before relenting. “Look all I’m saying is that I really don’t need you worrying about something that’s not there. I love Ben and Shane was just the good Samaritan that I needed when I was in a tight spot. I figure since I was a nutcase when the elevator first stopped that the least I can do is offer him something to make up for my moment of craziness. It’s just baking for him, not anything more than that.”

“Still it’s not like you to be so generous to strangers,” Deidra noted leaning up against the counter. “You just need to be careful.”

“I’m very generous when someone does something nice for me,” Diane objected, “and besides the guy is your neighbor, so I’m sure you have the scoop on him.”

“Truth be told I’ve never heard of him and given what you’ve said about him, I’m pretty sure that I would recognize a man that fits your description,” Deidra watched her sister return to working on her dish in front of her once again. “Just be careful Di.”

“I will be,” Diane promised stirring the contents of her oversized mixing bowl once again. “I just learned a long time ago that you have to do the little things for those who look out for you. He’s nice. You and Dean would probably like him. Plus he’s probably your only neighbor that isn’t over the age of like fifty. Honestly, I don’t know how you can stand living here…”

“It’s quiet and I like quiet,” Deidra stepped forward realizing Diane was working on frosting. She dipped her finger into the bowl before sampling it. Raising her finger to her lips, she took a taste of it. “You should try that sometime. It beats wild and frantic.”

“I’m a committed woman now. I have a house and I can do as I please without worrying about giving the neighbors a heart attack because the music is too loud. You should try it some time especially if you and Dean are serious about a relationship,” Diane tossed back at her with a wink.

“Right now I’m ready to get through my divorce and then focus on what’s next,” Deidra admitted honestly, “Whatever that might be for Dean and I.”

“Suit yourself,” Diane shrugged before focusing on her work again, “I’m just saying.”

“So am I,” Deidra couldn’t help but laugh, “Just be careful when picking up strangers.”

“I’m not picking up strangers and besides,” Diane smiled back at her, “Shane was a perfect gentleman. There’s nothing to be worried about.”

“I hope you’re right,” Deidra added wondering just who her new neighbor was that made an impact on her sister. She would have to keep her eyes open since it was clear that Shane had more of an impression on Diane than Diane cared to admit. Deidra just hoped that it wouldn’t be something that would cause Diane trouble in the long run!


“No, you are not doing this Kyle,” Heather pushed at the center of Kyle’s chest seeing Kyle’s hazel eyes staring down into hers as she shook her head over and over. “It’s probably nothing Kyle, it’s nothing at all.”

“Then why are you worried about me going Heather?" Kyle questioned looking down at her pressing her blonde hair back behind her ear before taking in a long breath. “Nothing is going to happen to Seth or me. We’ll both be okay, we’re big guys.”

“What if it really is something bad Kyle?" Heather blurted out looking between both Seth and Kyle. Stepping back she threw her hands up in the air, for once hating that Kyle always had to be the hero and go out doing things like this. “Why couldn’t you just pick an easier job other than private investigation. I want to keep you here you know and I’m sure if something happens to Seth it will only light more of a fire for Blake wanting to kill me.”

“Hey, we’ll watch each other’s back,” Seth offered up seeing Kyle nod as Heather turned to glare at him and he held his hands up in the air. “Heather, what if there are other people there? They have no chance unless we go there.”

“I’d really prefer both of you not to, I can’t lose my best photographer,” Heather pointed out before turning to Kyle seeing him looking down at her with that look he always used when he wanted something. “Kyle, I can’t lose you.”

“Heather, I’ve been shot, I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been hit by a car--even though it was only going through a fast food restaurant at about 5 miles per hour and it was Grady that hit me, it still counts,” Kyle offered up in a playful tone only to feel her push into his chest again as he frowned. “Heather baby, I’m just saying that I’m hard to take down. You remember at the airport when it blew up? I was the one closest to the bomb Heather and I came out just fine. I’m superman.”

“A superman that thinks too highly and might get brought down too hard when he doesn’t expect it. Even though you haven’t died yet, that doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt Kyle,” Heather turned away from him feeling him moving closer to her and she looked out at Seth. “Do you even realize what you could do to Seth? He is such a sweet guy and what if something bad happens to him?"

“I’m pretty strong too Heather, if you want some backup information,” Seth began looking to Kyle trying to come up with some story to somehow match up to Kyle’s and he wrinkled his nose in amusement. “Did Grady really hit you with a car?"

“Yeah, it was actually funny because it hit me right in the as…,” Kyle went to continue only seeing the glare that Heather gave him and he let out a long laugh. Moving out to her he tried to grab her hands only to see her fold them over her chest. “Baby come on, Seth and I will both be protected.”

“Hey, you know my cousin got shot once in the chest and he is still alive. I’ve got the Greek heart,” Seth placed his hand over his chest seeing the way that Heather looked over at him with that same glare that she had been giving Kyle. “Heather, you remember Kevin right? That was the one that got shot and he is doing just fine.”

“Kevin? I sort of hardly remember him to a degree,” Heather blew off the question before thinking things over knowing that she wouldn’t get Kyle to agree with her and not go. That just wasn’t who he was and she knew from his history he was the man to search. “If you have to do this, I know you will anyways without my permission--just please be careful.”

“We will honey, I promise,” Kyle wrapped his arms around her seeing Seth pick up the rest of the proofs so him and Kyle could look them over later. Wrapping his arms around her he hugged her in his arms tightly before pressing a loving kiss in over her lips. “We’ll be okay, I love you honey.”

“I love you too,” Heather watched Kyle motion Seth to follow him as he waved goodbye and she saw the door close making her fall down to the couch. “How did I end up with Kyle the explorer as my husband?"

Shaking her head she stood up from the couch deciding that there was nothing she could do to stop Kyle from going to these things, that’s just who he was. She didn’t like it, but she loved him enough to live with it--she just hoped he’d come out okay in the end of this.


“You sure this is the place?” Alexa questioned looking at the small wooden shack near the end of the docks that Ben had driven them to. She frowned realizing that the place looked like it hadn’t seen life in quite a few decades. That in itself had her wondering if they had hit another dead end on their investigation.

“This is the address that checked into the number,” Ben nodded pulling the car onto the docks and parking it. He looked over at Alexa before taking in a breath, “You ready to go check this out?”

“Hopefully this place won’t explode like the last one did. Although I have to tell you this place looks like a more likely target than the last,” Alexa reached out to push the passenger side door open and stepped out onto the docks.

“Whether or not this place looks like it should be condemned is irrelevant to what we’ll hopefully find in there,” Ben piped in locking the car behind them. He stepped up behind Alexa eyeing the shack in front of him before taking in a breath. “It’s now or never.”

“It sure as hell had better not be never,” she frowned marching forward and moving in to inspect the door in front of her.

Tipping her head down she realized that the door was opened a crack and instinctively she reached for her gun pulling it out of where she’d had it the previous night. Motioning for Ben to do the same, she used the butt of the gun to push the door open only to discover the place was ransacked inside. Still she pushed forward hoping to discover anything that would potentially help him with the case they were on.

“Looks like someone beat us to the punch here,” Ben noted after they’d secured the small one room shack enough to see no one was lingering after the obvious break in.

“Someone else must be trying to cover their tracks here as well,” she stepped over a pile of broken glass from a vase that was at her feet. Turning around she faced Ben again. “But who?”

“Maybe this will help,” Ben bent down to pick up a broken framed photo to reveal an image of Domingo and an older looking man with a red baseball cap on. Holding it out to Alexa, he nodded towards her, “This face ring a bell?”

“No,” she admitted honestly thinking about what little she actually knew about Domingo. She stared at the photo for a long moment noting the similarities in both of their eyes, “but something tells me that when we find this man he’ll be able to offer up some insight as to what it was that Domingo said to him before he died. Something tells me this man might know more than either one of us thought when we first arrived.”

“Although chances are if he’s still out there, we’re going to have to find him first before whomever did this gets their hands on him,” Ben noted taking another look around the small shack to find himself wondering if they would truly find the man who was in the photo.

“If nothing else, we have something to go on,” Alexa added with a newfound determination. “Maybe once we get a name to the face we’ll be on the right track.”

“I’ll get right on it,” Ben promised reaching for the photograph again ready to push the information through intelligence in the hopes that they would be able to find more than a dead end as their new lead led them in a new direction.


Diane took in a nervous breath as she surveyed the hallway leading out of her sister’s apartment. While she’d been given a mini-lecture from Deidra earlier in the day, she was fairly certain that she was doing the right thing in making a little thank you for Shane after he’d had to deal with her during their time being trapped with one another. Now as she eyed the long hallway contemplating her move, she attempted to seek out the direction that Shane had gone off in. There were only about six luxury suites on the floor that Deidra lived on, so her options were rather limited. Worst case scenario was that she knocked on four doors that were wrong before finally reaching her destination. Of course once she found Shane, what was she really going to say to him? After all her flirting last night, he probably thought she wasn’t nearly as committed to the relationship that she’d talked about with him when he’d asked about her having someone.

“You’ll be fine,” Diane stopped mid-movement opting to try to relax herself enough to get up the courage to just give Shane the cake she’d made for him. It was a nice thank you gift and given his nature, she was sure that he would enjoy the surprise. Still, she felt her stomach tied in knots at the possibility of seeing him again and hearing his soothing voice.

“Get a grip Diane,” she mouthed to herself now standing taller as she was armed with a cake and a smile. She would thank him and then be on her way once she located the door to his apartment. With that thought she looked at the doors in front of her preparing to figure out which one would lead her in the right direction. She finally settled in on one to the right before stepping forward preparing to see if her instincts had lead her astray.

“Here goes nothing,” she whispered in a muted tone ready to knock on the door when the sound of the elevator doors opening captured her attention. She turned around to see Shane stepping off of the elevators with the same suave demeanor that she’d picked up on the previous evening. He was dressed a bit more casual than he’d been the night they’d met now that he was in a black t-shirt and a pair of black jeans, but it was a look he wore well. His dark hair was just perfectly in place and as his brown eyes met hers, she realized a smile had replaced the pensive expression he’d had upon exiting the elevators.

“Diane,” he spoke her name in a sexy drawl, “we meet again.”

“So we do,” Diane nodded feeling butterflies in her stomach as he approached her. She sucked in a sharp breath before clearing her throat. “I mean fancy meeting you here.”

“Considering that we’re neighbors,” he paused before winking at her, “well rather your sister and I are neighbors and you’re just visiting, but…”

“It still brings us to the same circles near the elevators,” she explained with another silly grin wanting to kick herself for sounding so foolish. “So what are you up to?”

“Truth be told I was just about to check in on my messages at the apartment,” he glance down at the tray in her hands before motioning to the door behind her. “You planning on surprising Mr. Butters with a sugar attack there? Because I believe he’s diabetic so…”

“You mean this isn’t your…” she motioned to the door behind her before offering up a nervous laugh. “Of course this isn’t your place. I mean I just assumed that sooner or later I would find you because…”

“You were seeking me out?” he arched a suddenly curious brow. He made a small movement towards her as his grin expanded in a leisurely fashion. “Now you’ve piqued my curiosity.”

“I just wanted to say thank you,” she revealed holding out the container to him. “I baked you a cake and…”

“A cake?” he leaned in closer to her, his dark eyes searching hers with a look that would cause any red blooded American woman’s heart to melt. She bit down on her lower lip as he wiggled his brow at her suggestively. “So are you going to give me a sneak peak?”

“Excuse me?” she blinked up at him, surprise registering at the hint of flirtation in his tone. While she’d been prepared to see him again and thank him in a polite fashion, there was something about Shane that her blood pumping through her veins. It had to be because Ben was out of town, she rationalized as she stood before Shane.

“The cake,” he broke through her thoughts and offered her an out, “Am I going to get to see it before you hand it over?”

“Oh right,” Diane gulped reaching for the lid on her container. “Although you know I don’t want to drop it after I worked so hard on it. Maybe we can take it back to your place and…”

“My place?” his smile grew exponentially at her suggestion. “Well, if you’d like that, I’m sure we can arrange that. My door is actually the last one over there and…”

“Over there?” she replied her gaze wandering beyond him to the apartment he’d pointed out to her. Suddenly she found her curiosity getting the best of her as she imagined what it would be like get a closer look at her sister’s most intriguing new neighbor. There was just something about him that Diane couldn’t help but find herself eager to learn more about, but as she thought of her sister’s warning, she stepped back in retreat.

“Actually,” Diane cleared her throat uneasily. “I have a few things that I need to attend to, but I’m sure you’ll love it. It’s an old family recipe passed down from my grandmother and…”

“And I’m sure that I have something we can toast to it with as you have to have a piece with me,” he motioned to the container in her hands once again. “It’s far too savory I’m sure for me to take it in all myself. Besides, I have the Little Mermaid part two on hand if you’re interested in taking in a film as well.”

“As tempting as that it, I’m going to have to take a rain check,” Diane decided pushing the container out towards him. “I mean I’m sure we’ll see one another around, right?”

“Why do I suddenly feel like I’m getting the brush off?” he arched a curious brow as his dark eyes swept over her.

“You’re not, but it’s just that…” Diane fought to come up with a reasonable way to duck out of the invitation without making a bigger fool of herself then she already had. “I promised my sister that…”

“Well you can’t break a promise to your sister, now can you?” he replied leaning in against the wall beside her. He rested his arm out just beyond where she stood and she felt a series of shivers at the nearness of him. She closed her eyes momentarily half anticipating that he would lean in closer to her to whisper words of coaxing, but much to her dismay and relief he stayed where he was standing.

“I guess then we’ll have to share dessert and drinks another time,” he shrugged his shoulder simply before reaching out for the container in her hands. Their fingers brushed up against one another’s momentarily and Diane could swear she’d felt a jolt of electricity pass between them. Taking in another breath forced a nod.

“Another time sounds good,” she finally released the container before smiling up at him awkwardly while trying to play things cool.

“Excellent,” he motioned to the door behind him, “and since you know where I live, just know that the invitation is always there.”

“Sure,” Diane stumbled backwards offering up a quick wave before rushing back to Deidra’s apartment. Once she was inside she realized that maybe her sister was right. Maybe it would be a good thing to steer clear of Deidra’s neighbor especially when Ben was away. Missing Ben and being bored with Shane around would only lead to one thing in Diane’s life--trouble!


“So this is it?" Kyle looked over at Seth who was sitting in the passenger side of Kyle’s truck as they pulled up in front of the abandoned building that was in the background of the photos that Seth had taken the other day. “This is the exact place.”

“I was right there Kyle, I know where we are,” Seth stated firmly pointing across the street to where he had set up the shoot of the car and saw Kyle nod, his jaw getting tight as he looked up at the large building before them. “Are we going in?"

“Yeah, do you by chance happen to know what this was before it became trashed and abandoned?" Kyle looked in the direction of Seth seeing him shake his head slowly and let out a long breath. Pulling off his seatbelt, Kyle opened the door and got out of the car seeing Seth do the same. “Of course not.”

“We’ll just quickly go in there and then come out,” Seth pointed out waiting for Kyle to get in front of him before following him up the sidewalk to the building. Not being too sure about this whole idea once they got here, Seth slowly moved behind Kyle making sure that he kept a good distance. “Just make sure nothing horrible is going on in here.”

“Exactly,” Kyle nodded moving toward the opening of the place seeing there were a few boards in front of it to obviously try and warn off people from going inside and he looked inside the dark building thinking things over. Turning around on his heel he slammed right into Seth, feeling Seth’s forehead running into his and he let out small groan. “Want to give me a little space.”

“Where are you going?" Seth watched Kyle walk around him and go back toward the truck and he quickly followed behind not sure if Kyle was ready to leave. To be honest, he would have been totally okay if they left right now and just told everyone they looked in there. It was okay to lie--at least sometimes about these kinds of things. “What are you doing?"

“We’re going to need some flashlights,” Kyle shut the passenger’s door to a close and handed Seth a flashlight seeing the way that Seth’s brown eyes looked down to look it over. Moving up the sidewalk, Kyle looked over his shoulder to see a frozen Seth staring up at the building and he snapped his fingers. “You know Alexander--for a big guy you sure have some scared issues. Are you coming or what?"

“I’m not scared, just trying to figure out how we are going to look through all of this,” Seth moved slowly to follow Kyle seeing Kyle crouch down and move in through the wide space the boards had between them. Wish that he didn’t have to do this he watched as Kyle disappeared into the darkness and gulping down Seth moved through the tight space and let out a small noise once he got in. “Kyle? Kyle where are you?"

“Right here,” Kyle flashed his light in Seth’s face seeing Seth block his eyes and frown before turning on his own flashlight doing the same to Kyle. Motioning Seth to move in closer to him, Kyle moved around the first floor looking around at what seemed to be a lobby of some sort. “I see nothing, what about you?"

“I see a ton of spiders, dust and stairs,” Seth answered seeing the glare that Kyle gave him and Seth shrugged his shoulders moving over toward the stairs motioning Kyle to follow him. “You asked what I saw and I told you. Lets go upstairs and maybe we can find something better in one of the higher levels. You know, work our way down.”

“Smart,” Kyle saw Seth waiting for him to go first again and Kyle laughed before shaking his head and moving up the stairs. Flashing the light in over the walls he saw the graffiti that was in over the walls and let out a long sigh. “This just looks like a hang out for stupid teenagers to do their own messed up versions of artwork.”

“You know, I could really use artists like this in some of my photography work,” Seth saw Kyle look back at him for a moment and he shrugged his shoulders thinking about some of the work he had done in the past. “You put a person in front of something like this for a portrait, it only emphasizes subject, but when you have a great composition of background and the subject it only makes the photo a greater piece of art.”

“Right, your photography art stuff,” Kyle moved forward up the stairs finally stopping around the top floor that looked at least ten stories up. Looking over the side railing he placed his hand over it feeling it creak and he jumped back not even wanting to fall that far down. “This place is just rigged for an accident.”

“Then lets look around and get the hell out of here,” Seth moved through the room they were in seeing familiar signs he had seen in his life in the past, but couldn’t quite place what they were. Moving through the room he heard some creaking and saw Kyle behind him to the side looking over some of the pictures on the wall and Seth moved forward. “I keep hearing this cracking sound and…”

Before he could finish his sentence Seth felt the floor moving out beneath him and the cracking sounds of the wood as he fell through the floor, his upper body still above as his legs swung beneath him. Letting out a groan he dropped the flashlight and tried pulling himself up seeing Kyle look back at him.

“Well now, you look like a good floor decoration,” Kyle laughed out loudly seeing the way that Seth kept trying to pull himself out and Kyle kept laughing not being able to help it. Seeing Seth still trying to get out, glaring out at him as Kyle continued to laugh. “I’m sorry, I need a photo of this.”

“You better not,” Seth hissed seeing Kyle pull out his cell phone and flash the light on him and Seth heard the click of his cell phone saying he took the picture. Letting out an angered breath he saw Kyle laugh louder placing his hand in over his stomach and moving back. “Could I have some help please.”

“Yeah, sure,” Kyle moved back a bit further running into the ladder that was behind him and heard a noise from above him and stopped laughing long enough to only feel a firm slam into the center of his forehead. Falling to the ground in a thud he started to hear Seth laughing as the area around them went dark when Kyle fell on the flashlight he was holding and dropped his cell phone. “What the hell was that?"

“Why don’t you pull the flashlight back out and see,” Seth blurted out laughing as he finally got out and pulled himself back up being careful to avoid the hole when he reached for his flashlight to turn it back on. “I didn’t know you wanted to be the next work of art in my photographs.”

“What?" Kyle slowly sat up from where he was on the ground looking that there were paint cans on the ladder he ran into and he reached for the one that fell and hit him in the head thankful that it was still closed. “Green, my favorite color.”

Seth watched as Kyle set the paint can back down and he turned away from him for a moment to look at the room around them. Hearing Kyle let out a small whimper he saw Kyle stumbling back on his hands to try and get away from something and flashed it in the general direction.

“What, what is it?" Seth muttered seeing Kyle freaking out and saw the rats that rushed around the light and Seth laughed feeling Kyle run into him and almost knock out his knees, but he was lucky enough to catch his balance on time. “Are you afraid of rats?"

“Yes I’m afraid of rats,” Kyle blurted out at Seth seeing the way that Seth laughed down at him and he frowned from where he was on the ground. “They could have diseases and can bite the shit out of you. I hate rats.”

“Get up and lets look around here before one of us break something. We don‘t want the big bad rat to end up getting you,” Seth reached out to help Kyle up with one hand seeing Kyle rubbing at the center of his forehead where he had been hammered with the paint can. Letting out a loud laugh he saw Kyle‘s hazel eyes staring out at him almost embarrassed that Seth knew Kyle was afraid of these animals. “Neither one of us need to be in the hospital anymore.”

“Before you fell through the roof and before I became that paint can’s crush, I was going to tell you,” Kyle began reaching for one of the photos off the wall handing it over to Seth seeing him reading it over. “This is actually an abandoned hospital we’re in right now. How about that?"

“That’s kind of creepy, that means people died in here,” Seth’s nose wrinkled hearing the sounds of cracking all around him and he let out a long sigh hating the fact that he had some superstitions. “Let’s continue to look and get out of here because I don’t like it in this place.”

“Neither do I,” Kyle saw a rack of something in the corner of the room and smile moving over toward the jars that were resting on top of it. Picking up one of the jars he flashed the light into it seeing something floating around in the water and his nose wrinkled at the sigh. “What in the world is this?"

“I don’t know,” Seth moved in next to Kyle and picked up a jar of his own and flashed the light into the jar of water with a round object inside of it trying to determine what it was. “What do you think this is?"

“Let me see it,” Kyle set down his jar and flashed his light into the jar now shedding more light into the jar. Both of them let out a scream seeing it was an eyeball as Seth dropped the jar to the ground seeing the eyeball fall out on the floor while the water and glass spread out everywhere. “Did you just scream?"

“If I did, I’m sure as hell you just did too,” Seth flashed the light on Kyle seeing the paled over face of Kyle seeing him shrug before looking at the eyeball on the floor. “This is sick Kyle, whoever was here picked a horrible place to do this at.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Kyle moved into one of the rooms looking back to see Seth still staring out at the jars on the rack and he looked around the room hearing the scurrying of rats again and flew back into the door hearing it come to a slamming shut. “What in the world?"

“Kyle?" Seth turned to see that the door had been closed from where Kyle had entered the room and he moved over to hear Kyle shaking the handle over and over again. Banging on the door Seth heard Kyle stop shaking the handle and Seth put the flashlight under his chin trying to tug on the door over and over. “Hold on, I’m breaking the door down. Get back.”

Slamming forward into the door with his foot he saw the beaten down door fall to the ground right of the hinges and split the wood door right in half. Stepping forward into the room Seth looked around trying to see any sign of Kyle.

“What are we looking for?" Kyle asked from behind Seth hearing him squeal out and saw Seth flash the light back at him and he tried to block his eyes from the light. “Man would you stop flashing that in my eyes.”

“How are you here when you were in there?" Seth pointed back to the room that Kyle got locked into and felt Kyle place his hand in over his shoulder showing Seth that there was a door in the corner of the room and Seth rolled his eyes. “I should have known.”

“I’m magical, but not that great,” Kyle laughed patting Seth on the back before moving back into the lobby area looking around the room to try and find a possible way to get to the roof. “Maybe we can find something on the roof and that’s where everything happened.”

Seeing a ladder in the corner of the room that was a few feet off the ground leading to an opening where some light was shining through he moved in closer. Handing Seth his flashlight, he saw Seth stand in behind him as he jumped up grabbing the bottom of the ladder.

“Dang,” Seth let out a long breath seeing Kyle pull himself up the ladder just by his arms before finally getting to have enough ladder to use his feet. Seeing Kyle toward the top, Seth tried moving in underneath him more to shine light up for him only to hear another cracking sound except louder than last time. “Kyle, did you hear that?"

“Don’t worry about that,” Kyle muttered hearing the noise and felt the metal ladder shake as he looked to the side to see the side of the ladder next to him rusted to the point where it started to break. “Oh shit.”

“What?" Seth questioned only to see the ladder break on one side and he watched as Kyle tried to hang on, his only way of hanging on was by his right hand and Seth dropped the flashlight ready to catch Kyle if he fell. “Careful.”

“Yeah, like that’s going to happen,” Kyle groaned feeling his fingers slipping and heard the other part of the ladder cracking showing that it was rusted as well and within second it would be breaking. “Oh man, why me…”

“Oh no,” Seth saw the ladder break and both the ladder and Kyle started to fall making Kyle move quickly to try catching Kyle. His catch was successful, but only led to the both of them falling out on the wooden floor and the excess weight of Kyle made it hurt even more. “Oh man, you need to lose some weight.”

“And you need to gain some fat, I needed a soft thing to land on not something that is going to take the breath out of my lungs,” Kyle slowly stood up kicking the ladder across the floor, looking down to see Seth going cross eyed before blowing some dust out of his mouth. Wiping dust out of his hair Kyle looked around the area seeing a smaller set of stairs leading up toward the roof. “That would have been helpful about ten minutes ago.”

“Oh no, this is just my luck for today,” Seth slowly got up reaching for his flashlight feeling like he just got hit by a truck as he wrapped his arm around his ribs. “I’m ready to call it quits after this.”

“Yeah, me too,” Kyle pressed his hand in over his back motioning Seth up first as Seth glared back at him. “I tried going up the ladder first and now it’s your turn.”

“If I die, I’m coming back to kill you,” Seth warned opening the hatch to go out on the roof making Kyle let out a small groan as he blocked his eyes from the sunlight not ready for the switch from darkness to light. “I see a roof.”

“Anything else?" Kyle heard Seth let out a gasp and he was struggling with something and Kyle tried pulling him back down by his legs and got him down far enough only to see that he was covered in bird feathers. “You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not,” Seth grunted spitting some of feathers out of his lips before feeling a sudden drip sliding from his hair and he saw Kyle start to crack up. “They crapped on me, didn’t they?"

“Yes,” Kyle laughed even louder reaching out to pat Seth on the shoulder before thinking twice and moving out onto the roof looking around as Seth made his way up behind him. “I don’t see anything Seth, this thing seems to be turning out to be a bigger secret than any of us imagined it could be.”

“Something has to be up here Kyle though, I just think we’re missing it,” Seth saw Kyle stand up on the ledge of the building and look down at the area below them. Moving in behind Kyle, he wouldn’t even bother to try and stand up there considering that he didn’t like the feeling if he fell he’d most certainly die. “All this area is just abandoned Kyle, something had to have happened.”

“Well, we just have to figure what it was,” Kyle jumped down from the side to the ground next to Seth before moving back down to go inside the building hearing Seth’s footsteps behind him. “Whatever it is, we have to find something that will lead us to something other than just a hunch.”

A sudden noise erupted through the darkened area making both Kyle and Seth jump at the noise until Seth realized that it was the song milkshake and he looked to Kyle turning on the flashlight.

“My bad,” Kyle laughed reaching for his cell phone seeing the way that Seth’s eyebrows tightened together and looked at his cell phone showing him it was Avery. “I picked the song for Avery because like I said, it seems no matter what she does she just attracts men like nothing.”

“And she actually likes that song?" Seth asked seeing Kyle step further out into the room and shake his head before laughing. “Then why do you have it for her?"

“Because I get a kick out of her getting so pissed every time it plays,” Kyle explained with a small laugh before motioning Seth to wait when he answered his phone. “Hello?"

“Kyle, I really need you here right now. You see, Russ was an idiot and went out to meet someone he didn’t even know that was already suspicious enough and he even thought about going alone,” Avery blurted out from the other side of the phone making Kyle turn away from the receiver for a moment knowing that she was pissed off. Having it a couple of inches away from his ear he continued to listen as she went off on what Chris did. “I guess this guy pulled a gun out on Russ and tried to jump him Kyle, we really need you here. He’s alright because someone ended up following Russ there and saved him, we just need you right now.”

“Okay, okay sure. I‘ll be right there, just give me twenty and we‘ll have this settled,” Kyle was suddenly worried about one of his best friends and motioned Seth forward seeing the way that Seth stared out at him. Hanging up the phone after saying his goodbyes Kyle turned on his heel to look back at Seth. “Listen I have to go because…,”

“Kyle,” Seth reached out forward to try and stop Kyle from falling through the same hole that Seth fell through only to see Kyle go through the hole and it broke enough for him to fall through. Looking down through the hole with the flash light he saw that Kyle went through the floor on the next level and fell against the wood on the floor below that. “Oh shit, I’ll be right there, I’m just going to go down the stairs.”

Running down the stairs he ran out to Kyle seeing him covered in wood shedding and dust and he let out a long laugh hearing Kyle grunt when he sat up from the ground. Seth helped him up and let out a louder laugh seeing all the things he was covered in.

“You know,” Seth went to say something more only to hear a noise and looked up to feel a sudden splashing against his face and he closed his eyes hearing Kyle laughing as Kyle flew back. Finally feeling whatever fell on him stop spilling on him, Seth reached up to wipe at his eyes seeing Kyle flashing the light on him. “That was painful wasn’t it?"

“Yup, you look nice and red,” Kyle blurted out in an uproar of laughter motioning Seth to follow him outside as Seth dripped paint all the way out to the truck. “You’re going to have sit in the back of the truck man because you are not going to get my car all painted up.”

“You’re kidding,” Seth groaned seeing Kyle lay out a towel for him to sit on and Seth grunted before getting up in the back of the truck, taking a seat before glaring back at Kyle seeing him laugh and get in the car. Noticing Kyle opened the back window for him Seth moved in closer before yelling out. “I hope you’re happy.”

“Hey man, think of it this way,” Kyle looked back seeing Seth covered in red paint that was still dripping from his chin and Kyle started up the car. “I’m just giving you some time to dry off.”


“This is it?” Evie’s eyes widened as she and JT stood outside of Martha’s island bar with one another. “This is the place that you’ve been telling me all about?”

“The one and only,” JT nodded in confession seeing that while the bar was open it was still rather quiet around the area because it wasn’t quite nightfall. “When the sun sets it’s a bit crazier around here as you’ll soon find out.”

“Wow, I mean when you told me that you were taking me to an island sports bar, I guess I just sort of expected what we had back in Coral Valley, but this beats the hell out of your place. No offense.”

“Gee, when you put it that way,” he felt her nudge at his ribs before offering up a laugh, “none taken, but I’ll have you know that my place is a Coral Valley hot spot.”

“So I’ve seen,” she couldn’t help but further tease, “though something tells me that at least in here I won’t get stuck doing dishes.”

“I don’t know. I might be able to put in a special request with Martha or give her a referral on your abilities in the kitchen and,” he felt her shove him and he spoke up in protest, “hey…”

“Watch it JT. You’re cute, but not that cute,” she wiggled her finger at him in protest, “and besides I’m on vacation.”

“Is that right?” he stepped in closer to her sliding his arms around her waist to draw her in against him, “Who said that I was giving you a break from your duties at my restaurant? Maybe I only brought you out here so that Martha could put you through a vigorous training session so that you’ll stop breaking so many plates at my place.”

“You wouldn’t dream of wasting a trip to paradise with something so tawdry and besides,” she tipped up on her toes while wrapping her arms around his neck to squeeze him in closer to her, “the way I see it, you and I both know that I don’t break nearly as many dishes as I did when I first started.”

“Nah of course not love. You’ve gone from breaking about half a dozen a day to maybe three or four, which I will confess hasn’t had me putting in as many orders for new dinnerware considering that,” he began to tease only to feel her silence him with a kiss.

Her fingers teased through his thick, dark hair and in that moment he found himself forgetting all about their conversation in the name of focusing on the sun and the sand with the woman he loved. He dropped his arms down around her slender waist, using his strength to pull her petite frame up off of the ground so that they were more on the level with one another. His lips tasted the fire behind hers and as her fingers sank into his shoulders, he had to admit that they really had found their way to paradise with one another at long last.

“Oh would you just get a room already?” a voice muttered in protest as Evie and JT parted only to find Martha standing in the doorway to her bar grinning at them like the cat who ate the canary. She wiped her hands on the front of the black and red apron that she had tied around her waist before moving forward to greet them. “I thought I heard you slurping out here when I opened the doors.”

“Martha,” JT smiled releasing Evie and moving over to embrace the woman in front of him, “How are you?”

“A hell of a lot better now that hot, young eye candy like you has returned to brighten up this place. I mean the way I see it, if you’re around, then business will start booming again once the girls on the island know that you’re here,” she teased with a suggestive wink before motioning over his shoulder, “So who is this one?”

“This is,” JT cleared his throat before standing up taller. He curled his finger towards Evie motioning for her to join him and Martha, “my fiancée Evelyn White.”

“Really?” Martha’s eyes widened in unmasked surprise. “Fiancée?”

“That’s right,” Evie stepped forward and offered her hand to Martha in a confident movement, “but you can call me Evie.”

“Well Evie, I never thought I would live to see the day when JT tried to give me this kind of heart attack,” Martha couldn’t help but joke while shaking Evie’s hand, “but if you’re really the one that can put this boy on the path of the straight and narrow and get him to commit, then you’re more than welcome around here. This boy needs to get his act together.”

“Hey, I happen to think I’ve had it together for years,” JT curled his lip in protest.

“Of course you do honey. It’s because you’re male and men very seldom believe that they are anything less than perfect,” Martha swatted the side of his face in a playful fashion.

“Well unlike most men I don’t have to delude myself into believing it because it’s a fact,” JT replied with a cocky grin as his arm curled around Evie’s shoulder lovingly. “Evie, this is Martha. She owns the bar.”

“This place is fantastic,” Evie gushed taking a look around at Martha’s establishment. “I mean when JT told me he was taking me to the best place on the island, I never imagined that…”

“He told you that huh?” Martha glanced over at JT once again. “Oh yeah you are in the mood to be a kiss up aren’t you?”

“I’m just telling it like it is,” JT shrugged his shoulders modestly, “and besides the way I see it Martha, you still owe me some of those fabulous tropical smoothies that you’ve been bragging about over the years.”

“You wouldn’t fly all the way out here for just a smoothie,” Martha shook her head at him, “So don’t even feed me that line. Something bigger is going on.”

“We just thought that we’d take a break from the rainy season in Coral Valley for a while,” JT added leaning in closer to her. “Besides I couldn’t think of any place in the world more romantic than to bring my fiancée to the island. We both could use a little fun in the sun.”

“And that’s exactly what you’ll get in being here, but hearts will be breaking tonight when word spreads that you’re off the market,” Martha elbowed him the ribs before directing her attention to Evie, “but don’t you worry honey you’ll be the envy of each and every woman around here, which makes you the star of the night. Anything you want from the bar you’ve got it.”

“Well I…” Evie fought to find an appropriate response.

“Trust me whatever she has in mind, she won’t be taking no for an answer,” JT leaned over to whisper in Evie’s ear. “It would be best to go along with it.”

“In that case I’m all yours,” Evie shrugged her shoulders and moved towards the bar.

“Good thing honey because I’ve got plenty of stories for you. Go inside and we’ll get you something to eat. It must’ve been a long flight in from Coral Valley,” Martha waved Evie further into the bar before Martha brought her hand up to block JT from walking into the bar after Evie. Martha’s eyes met JT’s again before she issued a firm warning look, “She’s cute JT and I like her already.”

“You’ve said five words to her,” JT couldn’t help but laugh watching as Martha swatted his shoulder once again.

“Given that you’ve said you’re planning on marrying this girl, I would sincerely hope that means that you’re no longer that little shit you used to be where women are concerned,” Martha piped up in response with the first hints of a frown, “because as cute as you are every man reaches a point where he needs to settle down.”

“I’m settling down,” he raised his hands in the air defensively before placing his palm over his heart, “I swear it. Scout’s honor.”

“Yeah, I know all about how well you and Kellen did in your two week stint in the boy scouts, so don’t even try to run that by me,” Martha warmed him with another mock glare. “You really need to start thinking about the future kiddo.”

“I am, which is why I brought her here. I thought I might get your approval before I make her my bride,” he winked down at her before reaching for her hand, “because you know how much your opinion means to me.”

“Don’t try to snow me hot shot because I can see right through the innocent act,” Martha reminded him sharply as she searched his dark eyes, “but considering that you’re cohesive and I don’t see the glossy eyed stare that you used to have when you washed up on my doorstep before…”

“Martha, I gave all that up a long time ago. The drugs, the women, the gambling,” JT mouthed in response, “Those days are over.”

“Honestly?” she gave him another long once over.

“Yes, honestly. I’m a changed man,” JT promised sensing Martha’s need to give him a long overdue lecture after their last run in with one another when he’d been blitzed out of his mind a few years ago. That night he’d sworn off a great many vices he had in his life, but he knew Martha enough to know that she would always try to keep him in check.

“I sincerely hope so because she looks like a keeper,” Martha motioned to where Evie had taken a seat over by the bar on one of the barstools and was now waiting for them to join her.

“Believe me for her I would move mountains if I had to. She’s worth it and more,” JT confessed in a raw honesty thinking about the ways in which he’d changed since Evie had entered his world.

“Good for you kiddo. That’s just what I wanted to hear,” Martha replied lowering her arm to allow him into the bar. “Now how about you take me inside and give me the opportunity to meet this miracle worker once and for all?”

“If you insist,” JT replied offering Martha his arm as he found himself realizing that his life had finally gone full circle. After he’d spent a great many years making the world around him miserable, he knew now that it was time to savor what he’d always convinced himself he could do without. He’d been obsessed with Diane and let himself believe it was love for so very long, but now that he’d brought Evie to meet Martha he knew that there wasn’t a doubt in his mind that she was the woman he intended to spend the rest of his life with. No questions asked.


“It looks like you’ve got things pretty much in order,” Angela noted from where she’d been seated in the far corner of Brant’s office waiting for him to get off of the phone with a few of his contacts. She’d been keeping herself busy surveying his office for a while, but now that he was ready to refocus on her she was more than eager to partake in any conversation between them.

“So I have and I owe it all to you,” he mouthed proudly getting up from his chair and circling around his desk. He walked over to take a seat on the sofa beside her before a smile crept in over his lips, “You’re brilliant. You do realize that, don’t you?”

“Not really,” she waved her hand dismissively before a blush fell over her face, “I’ve just been known to have a knack for chemistry and organic chemistry every now and then.”

“It’s more than a knack sweetheart. It’s a gift,” Brant encouraged her, his eyes sparkling with excitement now that things were headed in the right direction with his company. “I don’t know how you do it but each moment I spend with you brings me one more moment closer to realizing how amazing you truly are.”

“Gee, I don’t know if I should be flattered or offended that you don’t already see how amazing I am,” she teased feigning hurt with a wounded expression.

“I already know how amazing you are, but I think you already realize that,” Brant reached out to her sliding his fingers into her dark hair. He watched her eyes widen at the movement before he closed in the gap between them. “I think the world of you Angela.”

“I’m starting to feel that way about you as well,” she confessed arching her head up towards him and feeling his breath skim over hers. Before she could say anything further she felt his fingers slide into her hair, while the other hand gently caressed her cheekbone, savoring the warmth of her skin in his embrace. His lips hovered over hers, taking in the sweet intoxication of their breath intermingling before he plunged forward taking them both to a new point of sweet surrender.

Unable to refrain from responding to the tantalizing feel of his lips over hers, Angela curled her fingers out, squeezing his shoulder gently, while his arm dropped to her waist, sliding her in closer to him on the couch. Within a matter of moments, she no longer felt the smooth imported leather beneath her, but rather the steely lines of his warm, muscled chest beneath her. Somehow she had been shifted from the sofa onto his lap. Their lips met in a fevered union, tongues colliding in a slow, sultry sizzle while her nails dragged lightly over his shoulders, sliding down over his spine. His lips caressed hers, kissing her in all the right places to cause her stomach to be tangled in knots--to make her body soar at the possibility of what could be between them. It was pure torture meshed with sinful pleasure and just when she’d thought she’d died and gone to heaven, she felt him withdraw from the kiss breathless.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered in a low, tight tone closing his eyes and pressing his forehead in against hers. “I was out of line.”

“No,” she shook her head firmly, reaching out to stroke the side of his face tenderly, “Brant, it wasn’t you. I’m the one that was out of line. It’s just that I’ve been thinking about kissing you all day--dreaming about what it would be like to have you with me like this, well maybe I’m just pushing this into happening because I’m not happy with Kevin.”

“You’re not?” he blinked back at her surprise registering over his features. He cleared his throat and tried to cover before speaking up again, “I mean really? Why?”

“Honestly,” she paused detangling herself from his lap now that she’d felt completely inappropriate in the moment. She slid back to where she’d been seated on the sofa earlier and she buried her face in her hands, “I just don’t think he loves me anymore. He avoids me at all costs and every time I try to reach out to him, he shoves me away. I just don’t get it.”

“Well maybe it’s because he’s trying to see you get better. You went through an ordeal and…” Brant began wondering if perhaps she was seeing things as they truly were once again.

“And nothing. Brant I’ve never seen him look at me like he did earlier when we were in the shower with one another. You should’ve seen the expression on his face when we were together. There we were sharing a moment and then…” Angela confessed to him a frustrated breath escaping from her lips.

“You were in the shower together?” Brant practically choked on the words. He watched her nod before he felt his own anger bubble over him.

“I thought I would join him since it’s not uncommon for us to make love in the mornings before we leave. We’ve always found a few minutes here and there whether it be in the shower or a couple of extra minutes beneath the blankets, but earlier he was acting strange. I mean one minute he was warming up to me and the next, well you would’ve think I tried to stab him in the back or something,” she brought her hand up through her hair, “He said he got a leg cramp and he rushed out of the shower, but I don’t think that was it. I think he was lying.”

“So you two didn’t make love then?” Brant couldn’t help but ask feeling a moment of relief carry over him.

“No, but I’m starting to think it’s because he doesn’t love me Brant. He’s been pushing me away and the only thing I can come up with is he thinks I’m hideous because I’m fat. He never used to want to not be with me, but now,” she threw her hands in the air frustrated tears carrying over her, “Look at me. I look like a beached whale and I don’t know why any man would think this was attractive. Even someone as wonderful as Kevin has to find me completely unappealing. That has to be why he’s distancing himself from me.”

“Angela, that’s not it,” Brant offered up struggling to find the right words, “It’s just…”

“Admit it Brant. The only reason you kissed me is because I’ve been playing a pity poor me act on you the last few days and you feel sorry for me,” she blurted out with a desperation in her tone. “You think I’m pathetic too, don’t you?”

“No, not at all. Angela I think you’re wonderful. You’re beautiful and amazing and every minute I spend with you, I find myself wishing for more of them,” he reached out to her touching her cheek gently. “I think you’re the one woman in this world that always has me guessing, who always has me eager to learn more and when I’m with you it’s the only time that I can really enjoy myself and be who I am.”

“Brant, I know you’re just saying that to make me feel better, but…” she began again attempting to dismiss his words before he urged her to meet his penetrating stare.

“Angela, I’m not doing anything remotely close to it. I’m telling you like it is because the fact to the matter is that I lo…” Brant opened his mouth to say something more when a noise erupted from outside of his office.

“I don’t give a damn who he is with. I want to see Ashford now and I’m not leaving until I do, so either you let me in that office, or I’ll plow right through you and get in there my own way,” Chris shouted out through the door and within a matter of seconds the office shook with the sound of his voice. A low rumble filled the room and in the blink of an eye Brant found himself facing down one of the few men in this world he had no patience or tolerance for.

“Brant I’m here because I want the truth out of you about your ties to what’s going on in this town and I’m not leaving until I have them,” Chris announced as Brant realized that things had gone from bad to worse. Once Chris saw Angela seated beside him, Brant knew it was only a matter of time that Chris would do or say something to upset the balance that Angela had in the moment and that was one thing Brant was suddenly hoping to avoid more than anything!


...to be continued...