Episode 405

“Wow, I can’t believe this,” Diane gushed as she and Shane entered the party. She stepped forward taking in the decorations that were nostalgic to an era that was long before her time. Smiling she thought about how Ben would have loved to have seen all of this since he had always been partial to films set in this kind of backdrop. The music was in full swing mode, people were on the floor dancing and dressed at their best, yet there she stood dressed in a red and black flirty dress thinking about how she wished she could share all of this with the man she loved instead of not having him beside her. It almost didn’t seem fair.

“It’s incredible,” Shane noted taking a small step forward and gently placing his hand against her bare arm. She felt a small spark of electricity at the movement, but when she tipped her head up she found herself trying to remind herself that it was just a friendly gesture. Smiling she tipped her head to the side, feeling a ringlet of her now curled hair strike up against the side of her face.

“It really is,” she nodded once more casting another glance out across the room. Tonight she was going to enjoy herself and not dwell on what should’ve been taking place or the company she should be keeping. Shane was a friend and even if she thought he was kind of cute, it ended there. Ben was the one she’d just been obsessing over and now, well now she realized that Shane had to have taken pity on her for appearing so pathetic since day one.

“So tell me, what do people in this town do for fun?” Shane questioned in a lazy tone. Amusement laced in his voice and Diane couldn’t help but glance up over at him again.

“If you have to ask that while we’re here, then you are sorely depraved,” Diane wrinkled her nose at him before curling her finger up in his general direction. She urged him to move in closer to her, offering up a small smirk before tipping her head to the side. “I think the proper question you should be asking me is if I would like to dance.”

“But I think I already know the answer,” Shane smirked down at her, “and the truth to the matter is that I would love to dance with you, but I must confess I have two left feet.”

“Now I find that hard to believe,” Diane stepped back giving him a long once over. “Given all of your other talents, I can hardly imagine you not being able to charm a woman on the dance floor.”

“Dancing isn’t exactly a hobby of mine as there isn’t a lot of time for it in my line of work,” he offered his hand to her, his grin expanding and causing him to light up with an even greater sense of sensuality than Diane had thought possible.

“And what line of work was that again?” Diane countered with an arched brow, curiosities brewing over her.

“Nice try,” he winked at her before shaking his head and grinning down at her, “but you’re not going to get it out of me that easily.”

“Now haven’t I been good to you?” she challenged pressing her fingertips into the center of his chest. She batted her eyelashes up at him before curling her lips in a small pout. “I thought I’ve earned that kind of truth from you.”

“You are the self proclaimed expert on guessing,” he mouthed reminding her of her earlier words to him. “Surely you wouldn’t want me to spoil the fun this early on just by feeding into your curiosity with the mundane side of my career. Besides, sooner or later you’ll figure things out all on your own.”

“You’re no fun,” she frowned up at him, feeling the warmth of his chest beneath her touch. “You’re just being a poop.”

“A poop,” he repeated with a tiny chuckle amusement carrying over him. “Gee, I don’t know if I should be offended or delighted by that one considering that it isn‘t every day a beautiful woman thinks up something so juvenile to insult me with. I‘ve heard jerk and loser, but never poop.”

“That’s because it isn’t even remotely close to being the same category,” she explained brightly feeling his brown eyes shine onto her. “A jerk is someone I simply wouldn’t entertain the notion of spending my time with and a loser, well is truly someone you aren’t. A poop is really nothing too insulting.”

“I would beg to differ on that one considering that the only time people talk about poop it usually involved a toilet and…” he began to protest only to feel her hand over his lips.

“Let’s not go there,” she suggested raising her fingers to his lips to silence him once again. “How about we head in a new direction with dancing?”

“I already told you I kind of suck at that,” he mouthed in a muffled tone underneath her fingers. She felt the vibrations of his words carry over her and send a small moment of thrills upon her. She felt his fingers brush in against hers and her breath caught in the back of her throat. For some reason that smallest of movements had her head swimming with thoughts about things that she should have no business imagining with him. Suddenly she found herself wanting to think of a reason not to dance with him, but only because deep down she found herself wanting to do it more than anything.

“I can’t imagine you being bad at anything,” she revealed with a playful grin of her own. She reached for his hand against her mind’s silent urgings and felt his fingers curl into hers.

“Then I think tonight you’re going to be surprised to see just how wrong you truly are,” he whispered in response leaning in closer to her. He reached out to curl his arm around her waist and pull her in nearer to him. Lowering his head just a bit to accommodate for the height difference between them, his eyes found hers and the intensity of his brown eyes rocked her to the core.

“I look forward to the challenge,” she tossed back at him placing her hand on his shoulder before nodding towards the dance floor. “Shall we?”

“After you,” he nodded in response ready to give her the dance of a lifetime when she spotted Dean and Deidra up ahead of them.

“Diane,” Deidra waved over at her sister before tugging on Dean’s arm and guiding him along with her to join Shane and Diane, “Hey you made it.”

“Of course I made it,” Diane smiled over at her sister brightly. “Since when do you know me to miss out on a good party?”

“Since, well um…never,” Deidra laughed lightly glancing over at Shane with a scrutinizing brow. “I didn’t realize that you were going to bring someone with you.”

“Shane’s new in town so I figured I would show him that Coral Valley isn’t completely boring,” Diane explained with a bright grin.

“It’s off to a great start tonight,” Shane spoke up encouragingly ready to say something more when his pager went off. Frowning he reached for it and looked at the number. Tipping his brown eyes up to meet Diane’s gaze again, he spoke up once more, “As much as I’d love to keep having this conversation I need to take this.”

“Of course,” Diane nodded in response watching her date go off to make a phone call.

“Dean, could you give us a minute,” Deidra finally decided looking over to her boyfriend.

“Sure, I’ll go get us a couple of drinks,” Dean nodded in response, “I thought I spotted Shannon here earlier. I’ll say hello.”

“I’ll be there in a few,” Deidra smiled over at him waiting long enough for him to get out of earshot before she turned to her sister again. “Diane, what are you doing?”

“What?” Diane curled her lip in a frown.

“Diane, why are you here with him?” Deidra nodded in the direction that Shane had walked off in. “Why is he with you?”

“He’s new in town and I didn’t want to come here alone,” Diane frowned up at her sister. “He’s my friend.”

“Diane, you can’t just keep spending time with some hot new arrival in town especially when Ben isn’t here. People are bound to start talking about what they were seeing especially if it was anything like what I saw when I walked over here,” Deidra piped in with a disapproving stare.

“We were just talking,” Diane’s frown intensified. “That’s all it was Deidra. We’re just friends nothing more.”

“Does he know that?” Deidra arched a curious brow at her sister. “Does he know about Ben?”

“Of course he knows about Ben. He is fully aware of the fact that I’m off the market,” Diane paused sensing her sister’s concerns. “Look I only brought him with me tonight because I didn’t want to be alone. You know how Andy’s been harassing me lately…”

“I’m well aware of that, but Diane I don’t think that spending this time with that guy is the answer,” Deidra warned her muting her tone just a bit. “You don’t know anything about him.”

“He’s a good guy Deidra. Besides it’s not like I’m dating him. I’m just spending time with him until Ben gets home. It’s innocent,” Diane reminded her sharply before standing taller. “I can take care of myself you know.”

“Sometimes I wonder about that,” Deidra replied doubtful. “Something tells me that Shane isn’t the person you should be filling those moments of boredom in your life with.”

“Why? Because he’s an attractive guy?” Diane huffed back at her with a frown. “What do you think that I can’t spend any time alone with a hot guy without wanting to sleep with him?”

“That’s not what I said, but…” Deidra paused remembering all her sister had been through over the last year. “I just know that when you’re feeling insecure about something that…”

“What could I possibly have to be feeling insecure about? I have a fantastic relationship with a man who loves me and wants to share the rest of his life with me. My career is going fantastic and I’m happy Deidra. I’m not about to blow all of that away simply because Ben is out of town,” Diane informed her point blank. “I’m not that stupid.”

“Are you sure,” Deidra paused not sure how to ask what was troubling her. “I mean with you and Ben…you both are okay yes?”

“Why wouldn’t we be?” Diane snapped back at her the irritation level inside of her rising.

“I just wasn’t sure…I mean after that JT thing…” Deidra’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“JT was a stupid mistake, but I’m not stupid anymore. I know how to take care of myself Deidra,” Diane snapped back at her, her dark eyes narrowing up at her sister, “and for you to have such little faith in me really says something.”

“All I’m saying is that I know there has been a lot happening lately and this guy just seems off. I can’t place it, but Dean and I have been stewing over the vibe he gave us the other day…” Deidra tried to reason with her.

“Dean rubs everyone the wrong way. Hell even you felt uncomfortable enough to stab him at one point in time,” Diane added with a huff standing up straighter.

“That’s not fair. You know those were extreme circumstances,” Deidra objected to her sister’s protest.

“Either way, the fact to the matter is that I know what I’m doing and I don’t need you to keep an eye on me. I’m fine. I’m just having fun with a friend and it’s nothing more than that,” Diane blurted out with a tight scowl noticing Shane returning to the ballroom. “Now if you’ll excuse me I promised my friend a dance.”

“I just hope you know what you’re doing Diane,” Deidra mouthed under her breath watching her sister rejoin the man who still had Deidra wondering what he was really all about.

“It looks like I missed her. It wasn‘t Shannon after all,” Dean piped in rejoining Deidra again. He glanced over at her and noticed the twisted expression on her face before handing her a drink. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, but I’m not so convinced about Diane,” Deidra admitted watching her younger sister leading the handsome stranger out onto the dance floor. While she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, Deidra was certain Shane was trouble, but unfortunately she knew full well that Diane didn’t see it that way. That in itself worried Deidra more than she cared to admit.


“That was a tremendous waste of time,” Alexa cursed under her breath throwing her keys on the counter top and tossing her sewage soaked t-shirt in the process. “I can’t believe how we went from actually getting somewhere to having our butts handed to us all over again.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Ben paused for a moment taking in the scent of himself before wrinkling his nose. “Okay, I stink.”

“Join the club,” she turned around to face him watching as he peeled off his horribly stained shirt as well. He tossed it down onto the pile Alexa had started with her own shirt. Unable to ignore taking a look at him, Alexa bit down on her lip and cleared her throat again.

“At least it’s over, right?” Ben tipped his head up to see her eyeing him closely and she forced herself to look away.

“Well, this was just another waste of time,” she brought her hand up through her hair only to feel the crunched pieces beneath her finger tips. She dropped her hand down again and faced Ben, who was also clearly uncomfortable.

“Maybe we should just chalk it up as a loss, take the information back to intelligence and get cleaned up,” Ben’s gaze dropped down to the lines of her flesh colored bra before he cleared his throat again. “Not necessarily in that order.”

“Of course not,” Alexa forced a small smile while trying to ignore the way that even in sewage he still looked sexy as ever with his messed up hair and beautiful eyes. Still, she tried to keep things light and professional. “I mean you smell horrible after all and I don’t think I can deal with that.”

“And here I thought I was winning brownie points as your partner,” he winked at her before motioning to the bedroom area, “So you want to get cleaned up first?”

“How about we go at the same time?” she suggested watching his eyes widen at the suggestion.

He cleared his throat uneasily before struggling to find the right words to say, “Lex, as interesting as that might be, I really don’t think that we have to conserve water like that given…”

“I have two showers Ben,” she groaned outwardly despite the tiny jolt in her heart at the thought of being with Ben alone and naked with one another. Still she attempted to recover, “So don’t flatter yourself because I don’t need your mind in the gutter.”

“Of course not,” Ben laughed lightly, “I mean we already had everything else down there already.”

“Exactly,” she wrinkled her nose and waved her hand at him, “so go get cleaned up before you make my place smell as awful as you do.”

“Will do,” he saluted her before turning towards the bedroom area. He paused glancing over his shoulder at her, “Um, Lexie?”

“Yeah?” she tipped her head up to him once again.

“You want me to take the guest bathroom or…” he motioned to her bedroom again.

“Just go in there,” Alexa waved her hand dismissively. “I like the smaller bathroom better because I have more of my things in there. That one is just too…I don’t know upscale to serve a purpose with me.”

“Now I find that hard to believe,” Ben laughed lightly.

“Take a look at the whirlpool tub and you’ll see what I mean,” she informed him with a laugh, “Though if the power ever went out I could put my whole fridge in there or I could have a pool party. Whatever mood struck me I suppose.”

“I sincerely doubt that,” Ben stepped further into her bedroom and into the master bathroom. A few minutes later he called out to her, “You aren’t kidding. It’s huge.”

“Told you,” she replied circling around her living room and going over to her bar to pour herself a drink. She frowned knowing full well that Ben wasn’t the only one who smelled horrible, but right now she needed to refocus, which was increasingly hard with Ben in the next room undoubtedly naked by now.

“Get him out of your head Alexa,” she warned herself as she downed the glass of Jack Daniels that she’d poured herself. She wiped at her face with her arm and immediately regretted the motion given where she and Ben had been earlier. She reached for a hand towel and wiped at her face.

“Time to get into that shower,” she tried to remind herself in the hopes of getting her mind on track again.

She turned towards the guest bathroom when she realized that she needed to get a few more of her things. Carefully she stepped out of her slacks and pushed them onto the ground with the rest of her clothing that she vowed to burn after the day was over. With a sigh, she pushed her hair out of her face and walked over to her bedroom eager to get a few things and then go to get cleaned up. She could hear the water in the bathroom alerting her to the fact that Ben was in the shower, so she could sneak in and out without any notice.

“And then it’s off to work all over again,” she murmured stepping in closer to her closet when she heard the sounds of Ben humming a tune in the bathroom.

Turning towards the door, she couldn’t help but imagine him in there getting cleaned up after their night on the run from danger that had kept them trapped in close quarters. Her eyes fell upon the crack in the door and she realized how easy it would be to go into the bathroom to tease him. Maybe she could throw out a few lines and the charm and coax him into rethinking the whole showering alone business.

Instinctively she moved forward and before she knew it her hand was on the door, pushing it open further to reveal the frosted glass of the shower in front of her. Her heart was hammering in her chest, mind reeling with thoughts about her and Ben picking up where they’d left off in Louisiana when they’d been called back into duty with one another. She closed her eyes remembering the way it felt to have his hands upon her, his lips pressed against her skin and suddenly she found herself back in that hotel room longing to know what it was like to cross that line with Ben that she’d been so careful about through the years.

Of course before she could indulge in that fantasy completely, she heard the sounds of Ben shuffling inside the shower. Quickly she scooted out of the room and waited at the door knowing that she was going to burn for even thinking about invading Ben’s privacy, yet there was something far too tempting to turn away. She peeked inside and spotted him reaching out of the shower for something she couldn’t quite see from the small crack she left open with the door. Her eyes shot down the length of his muscled chest, to his abdomen and lower yet before guilt burned at her face.

“Don’t be stupid,” she heard a voice inside of her head warn her as she quietly fell back against the wall condemning herself for being so foolish about walking in to spy on Ben. She held her breath for a moment and listened to him returning to the shower and closing the door behind him.

“Get out of here,” Alexa warned herself quickly pulling together what she needed for her shower before rushing out of the room in the hopes that Ben wouldn’t realize just how truly pathetic she was when it came to being around him. She’d convinced herself it was a simple crush, but now that they were working together, she was certain it was so much more than that. That thought in itself frightened her more than anything she wanted to admit especially in knowing that she and Ben were never going to happen. He had Diane and she had, well, work, but that was enough to keep her going. She was almost certain of that.


“Hey honey,” Kyle smiled seeing Heather moving over toward him from the center of the crowd as he stretched his hand out to set down the champagne glass he was holding down on the bar. Heather moved in closer to him as he snaked his arm around her casually seeing the way her green eyes stared up at him. “Everything okay?"

“Yeah, I just think I would rather stay over here by you,” Heather looked back in the direction where she had left Sarah standing and took in a deep breath. It wasn’t worth wasting her time telling Kyle about it because it wasn’t a big deal. Sarah wasn’t a huge deal in their life at all because they were married and nothing was going to change that. Nothing. “Some of the crowd isn’t to appealing.”

“Well I know I’m rather quite appealing, but what does that mean?" Kyle teased his large right hand in over her shoulder in a tender caress before urging his index finger under her chin. “What’s on your mind? You’re my wife, I know that you like this kind of crowd--so what’s wrong?"

“What did she want?" they heard a voice press in behind them as Heather looked back to see Kellen moving through the crowd obviously leaving Kipp in the dirt behind him when he had seen Heather break away from Sarah. The moment Kellen could he had hit the dance floor, but once he saw a scene that could start a little gossip he knew he had to find out what happened. “I saw Sarah making her way out to you and I would have so backed you up but my jam was on. So what happened?"

“Sarah approached you?" Kyle glanced over at Kellen seeing him smile and nod slowly before noticing the expression that Kyle was giving him making him realize that maybe acting excited about the situation was a bad idea. His smile soon turned into a confused expression while he bit on his bottom lip and turned his eyes away from Kyle. “What did she say to you?"

“It’s nothing to worry about honey,” she set her champagne glass down on the bar seeing the worried look behind his light hazel eyes. His rough fingers grazed in against the heated skin of her cheeks as she leaned in closer to his touch. Taking in a long breath she realized that most nights she would let something like Sarah irritate her but not now. Now she was nothing but an annoyance it was something that would usually have her all worked up. It was just tonight she wanted to enjoy herself with her husband. There was no point in getting worked up when it would lead her nowhere. “Sarah was just trying to get me all fired up and I walked away.”

“She walked away Kyle. I saw it,” Kellen nodded with a wide smile placing his large hand in over Heather’s shoulder as he saw Heather glance back into his blue eyes. “Sarah was obviously trying to start something and you can see it in her body language, but Heather just totally passed on right by her. I mean if you want me to, I’ll go start something with her. I don’t mind.”

“I think it’s obvious you don’t mind after you had a fist fight with her that one day,” Kipp finally made it out of the crowd after Kellen had left him to run off to Heather and Kyle. Once he finally made it out of the crowd he brushed off his sports jacket and stared out at Kyle seeing the way he glanced over at him. “I’m sorry, I told him to leave it be, but he had to run over here to find out what happened.”

“Really, it’s okay this time,” Kyle stated looking over at Kellen seeing him half smirking but looked away once Kellen looked at him. Kyle curled his arm around Heather more pulling her in closer to him softly feeling her side press in against his chest. “I don’t care what Sarah wants though. She has nothing she needs to be a part of with this family. She’s just a burden and should learn to leave people alone.”

“Yeah, that will never happen,” Kellen spoke up looking back for a moment to see Douglas and Sarah moving over toward them. Well, maybe not. Kellen often saw things he thought were happening, but when he blinked once they were still moving over toward them. When he blinked twice, he knew he wasn’t just imagining it hoping for a chance to duke it out with Sarah. Trying to play up a little bit of innocence---well, okay that was never going to happen, he was just going to put a heads up for them knowing that Sarah was probably coming over to start more problems. “Heads up, super skank and her brainwashed companion are coming over and I’m guessing the grand canyon is going to try and start something with everyone.”

“Kellen,” Kipp glanced over at Kellen seeing Kellen laugh and shrug before moving between Kipp and Heather resting his arm on the other side of Heather while Kyle held onto her.

“What? It’s true,” Kellen looked to see Kyle smirk at the comment and he patted Kipp on the shoulder. Thinking things over a minute his grin expanded as he shook his head. “No, you’re right Kipp that was wrong. How could I compare a great wonder of this world to something so disgusting like that. I mean, not only is Sarah wider open than the grand canyon, but she is also more disgusting and less delightful to look at and…”

“Okay Kellen,” Kipp covered his mouth when Douglas and Sarah stepped in front of them. He almost hoped that his father heard none of that because while Kellen was funny with certain things he was going a bit too far with that one and he knew it. That was Kellen’s motto though, nothing is going too far. That’s what often got him into trouble. “Hello Douglas.”

“Kipp,” Douglas nodded wrapping his arm further around Sarah staring out at the others before him while his grin expanded more staring at the surroundings. “Kyle, Heather, Kellen…”

“Hello Douglas,” Kellen moved forward to extend his hand out for a firm handshake before turning his attention toward Sarah. He felt Kipp tug a bit on his blue dress shirt almost hinting at him to not say something. Thinking about it for a slim moment he realized that yeah, it would be smarter not to say something, but that wasn’t how he was. If he was going to make an appearance, he was going to make notice of what he stood for and what he usually always took a stand for. That was speaking the truth and teasing a little bit here and there. If he didn’t like you, it would be known and he didn’t have a problem showing it at all. “You know I’m not quite sure who you are miss, but I think I saw an article on the news about you this morning. I think it was a news story about these police officers arresting a prostitute because they found out she slept with so many men, but in the end they just realized she was a whore and she was let go. Huh, who knew?"

“Oh, very funny Kellen,” Sarah took a step forward feeling the hold that Doug had over her and she stayed back. Looking up at him she saw his dark eyes staring out at her to take the hint to relax and let him do all the talking. Rolling her eyes she looked away from the crowd and sighed under her breath. “Fine.”

“Anyways, I figured I would come and talk to you Kipp about things,” Douglas curled his arm more around Sarah feeling her reluctant to his movements as he cleared his throat, a large grin pressing in over his features. “I know it was kind of quick, but I got married to this wonderful woman right here by my side.”

“Yeah, we all saw that this morning,” Kipp blurted out with a not so happy expression knowing that his father was probably trying to start something. He just didn’t know yet what he was up to. Looking to Kyle and Heather he could see that the two were just uncomfortable by having Sarah around them. With one look he could see that in regard to dealing Sarah, Kellen was always ready for a fight. “So other than that what else do you have for us?"

“I was just telling you about how happy I am for this one Kipp,” Doug informed him as he felt Sarah playing into it settling her hand in against his chest as she caressed it softly glancing out at Kyle and Heather as they watched them. “It’s something I’m proud of for once and I figured I’d let you know.”

“That’s right we are so happy together,” Sarah tipped up on her toes pressing a small kiss against Douglas’ ear lobe before giving it a small tug with her teeth. “I’m so glad I got to find a real man to be my husband in my life.”

“Well as much as I enjoy hearing about this. I congratulate the both of you and I wish the both of you the greatest of luck,” Kyle began sliding his arm away from Heather grasping her hand in his and leading her away slowly from the crowd. “But I promised a dance with Heather here and that’s what I’m going to give her. I hope the two of you are very happy together.”

“Their loss,” Sarah sighed looking out at Kipp and Kellen as Kipp grabbed a hold of Kellen’s hand seeing the way that Kellen glanced down at him. “You two are going as well.”

“What can I say? This is my jam,” Kipp pulled Kellen away from the two as Kellen half laughed at what he said and they watched Kellen and Kipp walk toward the center of the crowd together to get away from them.

“Now let go of me,” Sarah shoved her hands into the center of Doug’s chest seeing him move back a bit as she straightened out her dress and he cracked a smile. “I don’t see what you are laughing at. There is nothing to be smiling over. Nothing at all. I still hate you.”

“Sure you do sweetheart,” Doug laughed catching someone out of the corner of his eyes as he slid his hands into his pockets watching the way Dorothy looked out at him and Sarah together. Once his eyes met hers, he saw the way she glanced away from him quickly making a smile press in over his lips. “I wouldn’t be so sure you hate me like you say you do.”

Looking out at Sarah he saw the way she rolled her eyes and looked away from him as a smile pressed in over his lips. Maybe in being with Sarah he would be getting more things than he expected. Cameron was upset and he wondered just by the look on Dorothy’s face moments ago if having Sarah would help him get back into her life. Maybe with having Sarah around he would earn back more than he lost in the beginning.


“I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love what all of you have done to make this party possible. I had no idea that this was what was going on when Sam told me to get ready today,” Wayne wrapped his arm around his girlfriend staring out at the crowd that set this all up for him. Her parents were there and his parents along with Rob and Alicia set this all up for him and he was loving every little part of it. “You didn’t have to do something so big for me though. I feel kind of bad about that.”

“And I felt like I didn’t do enough for it,” Rob blurted out against the crowd looking around the area before him. When Sam had told him what kind of style she wanted for the party he tried to get as many decorations that could fit as possible. He just didn’t know if he got it down good enough to her liking. Then again, he was his own worst critic. “I am glad you like it though. Sam there has some very talented ideas and thoughts for things like this. You’re lucky you have her creative mind by you all the time.”

“I know, I feel lucky everyday I have her by my side,” Wayne squeezed her in closer to him seeing the way she looked up at him with her dark eyes and a wide smile pressed in over his features. “I don’t know what I would do without her.”

“Well the two of you make a perfect couple. I think you two fit so perfectly together and the fact that you two make each other happy means you found real love together,” Preston stepped forward in the crowd knowing that every time he saw his son with Sam that his eyes would just glisten and he knew that he was in love. “I’m glad you two make each other so happy. I wish you the best of luck on all your adventures in the future because you both deserve it. So much.”

“About that,” Wayne cleared his throat looking in the direction of Hart and Jenna knowing that he needed to talk about something in private that Hart probably shouldn’t be hearing. Motioning Sam to wait a moment he wrapped his arm around his father’s shoulders and cleared his throat uneasily. “We’ll be right back. We need a little father son talk for a moment.”

“Well that was weird,” Hart blurted out looking out at Sam as he reached out to wrap his arm around his daughter’s shoulders while he squeezed her in closer to him with a tight hug. “I wonder what’s on his mind. I know what would be on mine if I was him--how fantastic of a job you did in helping set this up.”

“Well I couldn’t have done it without you or Rob,” she smiled seeing Rob shrug his shoulders and take a long sip of the water bottle he was carrying around with him. Looking out to the entrance of the club he saw Shannon walk in and his eyebrows tightened together. “I do have to thank you again.”

“It’s no problem sweetheart,” Rob motioned over toward the entrance showing that Shannon was showing up alone to the party tonight and he cleared his throat uneasily. “If you will excuse me a moment though, my daughter-in-law just walked in and she’s missing my son so I’m going to go find out where he is. I’ll be back in a few.”

“It’s no problem,” Hart turned toward Sam seeing her pull out from under his arm and go to step away from him as he found himself caught up on words. “What’s wrong?"

“I just saw someone I have to talk to real quick,” she stepped back a little bit more away from him and Jenna as he turned to Jenna giving her a worried glance. “Promise--I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” Hart went to say something more only to see her take off toward the other side of the room. He cleared his throat uneasily knowing that she didn’t usually act this weird and he wondered what was going on with her that made her act this way. Turning to Jenna he saw her shrug before he took in a long shallow breath. “I wonder what’s up with her.”


“Hey look, it’s your brother,” Kellen gasped staring out into the crowd looking over toward the stage as Kellen clapped his hands together. Pointing out to his brother he saw Kipp turn on his heel and look back at his younger brother as he talked to Lindsay smiling a few times here and there. “I see that after I gave him a makeover he decided to stick with it. I don’t blame him. If I was a seventeen year old girl I would totally jump him as well. Doesn’t he look good? Oh my God, I can’t believe how great of a job I did with him.”

“Okay, after you are done gloating,” Kipp laughed tugging his boyfriend with him to go talk to Danny and Lindsay. Once they started to approach the two he saw the way that Danny’s light green eyes lighted up once they moved over toward them. “Hey little bro, how’s it going?"

“Kellen, Kipp--hey,” he reached out to shake their hands only to have Kellen hug him before laughing himself and moving back over toward Lindsay stepping in next to her. Tugging at his suit jacket he saw Kellen smile and look him over. “I’ve been looking to talk to you, you see I went out and bought all of this new stuff. I called the number of the guy you gave me and he set me up with some really awesome stuff, but I think I want to go again because some of the things are totally I think out of style. Well, I mean I’ve seen some new things I like and I would like to see you a few times maybe get you to take me. I went and got this myself, but I didn’t know if it fit very well.”

“Oh God, he’s turning into a mini you,” Kipp rolled his eyes with a small laugh seeing his brother running his hands over the black jacket before opening it up to see the black dress shirt beneath it. “I think you warped his mind.”

“Well he said the best and I thought…,” Daniel looked down again seeing the grin that Kellen was giving Kipp before he turned to Lindsay and he looked down at what he was wearing again. “Linds, what do you think?"

“I think you look fantastic, I’m just loving the hair,” she informed him with a small nod seeing a smile pressing in over his handsome young features. Kellen had done a great job with him when he worked with him a while back. Not that she wasn’t totally charmed by him before, but she had a major crush on him now. “I think you look perfect.”

“See, you do have it. I’d love to go shopping with you one time because Danny boy I love shopping. Get me some new shoes a new outfit and I will love every second of it, but you are obviously doing something right by yourself,” Kellen informed him wrapping his arm around Kipp’s shoulders before taking in a long breath. “When you get the awes of others you are doing something great.”

“Good, I just wasn’t sure of myself at first. I know you told me that’s one thing I had to focus on, but…,” Daniel looked to Lindsay hoping that he didn’t come out sounding like a total idiot in front of her. Running his fingers through his spiked up dark hair he took in a long breath resting back against the stage pressing his hands in over it. “So, how has the party been for you so far? Good I hope.”

“Good except for that skank trying to start things,” Kellen gasped realizing what he said covering his mouth as he heard Lindsay chuckle a bit and he looked to Daniel seeing the smirk that pressed in over his young features. “I so did NOT mean to say that. I really didn’t.”

“It’s okay,” Lindsay laughed seeing Kellen’s handsome features flash over in a pale shade of red as she offered up another small chuckle. Reaching out to nudge him softly she saw him put his hand down and she looked out in the crowd. “By that I’m guessing you mean Sarah.”

“How’d you know that,” Kellen’s hands slid in over his hips as he stared out at Lindsay seeing the way she smirked before shrugging her shoulders. It was obvious that he hated Sarah, but now even the young ones knew that?

“For one Kellen, everyone knows about the fistfight you and Sarah had,” she listed off nodding her head slowly as she pointed to Daniel seeing the way he nodded slowly and let out a small laugh. “And I know I’m pretty young Kellen, but your not that much older than us. Well, a little bit but you’re what twenty-four? That’s not a lot older and I’m sure that you should know by now teens have the worst mouths around. So if I can put up with teens my age, which sometimes I have the hardest time doing--I can put up with you. You’re so much better than half the people my age.”

“Which shouldn’t be that shocking to you since I’ve known you’ve experienced it at the mall or something. People are very juvenile these days and it’s kind of sad,” Daniel spoke up before laughing again when he tugged at the bottom of his own jacket. “Though you know I think I have Sarah and you fist fighting in my favorites on Youtube. I think you can look up my screen name and you’ll see it’s there. I don’t know who took it, but it’s one of my favorites and still cracks me up to this day.”

“Oh Kippy, I’m a Youtube star and I didn’t even know it,” Kellen gently swatted at Kipp’s shoulder seeing the smirk that pressed in over Kipp’s features as his dark eyes looked over his shoulder at him. “You know though, that girl deserved everything she got. I know that you would think it was ridiculous, but she tried to ruin a lot of lives that day and I’m glad I got to shoot her down.”

“You did more than shoot her down, I’m pretty sure you throw her out on her ass too,” Daniel blurted out seeing the look Kipp gave him before laughing and holding his hands up in the air. “What? I’m being honest. It was awesome.”

“Well if you did something like that, I know that while you are very verbal you’re a very sweet guy and if you did something like that it was for the best,” Lindsay began moving forward and shrugging her shoulders when she glanced back into the crowd. “Because I know you are a sweet guy and you only do what’s best for everyone.”

“Oh, she is such a sweetheart,” Kellen moved forward to hug Lindsay in his arms hearing her laugh as he squeezed onto her tightly before letting go. “I think you picked out a good one here Danny.”

“Wait, what? We’re not dating,” Daniel hesitantly laughed before straightening up his suit and clearing his throat. Looking up at Kellen he saw Kellen arch his eyebrow up and knew that Kellen said that on purpose and he frowned. “We’re just friends.”

“Oh friends, right,” Kellen nodded before taking in a deep breath and looking around the area. Shrugging his shoulders a smirk pressed in over his features. “Friends or not, you still would make a cute couple and I would just think about that.”

Smirking Kellen rested back against the stage himself staring out at the crowd. The party was nice, he was with people he loved and remembered exactly the reason why Daniel came to him to help him with a makeover. Maybe that comment would be able to help him out a bit. The only thing right now he knew was that he wanted to enjoy his time and that’s what he planned on doing.


Brant returned to the seating area on the jet after he’d given the pilot the final destination to the island. While he was wound up hoping that he wasn’t making a mistake in leaving town without being completely positive that Angela wasn’t still in Coral Valley, his worries were secondary to the rage that filled inside of his heart. He spotted Kevin seated near the back of the jet, his dark eyes casting out over the airport while Brant moved over to his seat beside Don.

“Are we ready for take off?” Don questioned breaking the long silence in the jet. He glanced between Brant and Kevin again before taking in a breath and knowing full well it was going to be a very long flight.

“We’re going to be leaving shortly,” Brant replied glaring over at Kevin, who sat in his chair still completely silent. Unable to resist taking a jab, Brant spoke up again, “Is Ria aware of why you’re going on this trip?”

“Ria knows I have to find Angie,” Kevin answered flatly keeping his gaze out on the open runway beyond where they were stationed at.

“I wasn’t referring to your wanting to find Angela, but rather the fact that you’re still in love with her. I’m sure Ria would be less than thrilled to learn where your heart is considering you’ve mislead her to believe that she matters,” Brant scowled over at Kevin unable to quell the animosity that was eating away at him.

“Look Brant, about that,” Kevin started feeling the jet starting to take off. He met Brant’s accusatory stare and found himself at a loss for words. “About what I said before…”

“Oh I heard you loud and clear Kevin, and just for the record don’t think it’s going to change anything where I’m concerned. Angela and I are going to be together whether you like it or not,” Brant warned him sharply, balling his fists into the side of his chair.

“You know I don’t think that now is really the time to get into this,” Don piped in feeling the tension thick in the air between the trio.

“No now is the perfect time,” Brant cut his best friend off abruptly, “Kevin I’m just warning you now that I’m not someone you want to double cross because if you even think about it, so help me I’ll make your life a living hell.”

“Is that a threat?” Kevin raised a surprised brow not expecting the venom in Brant’s words.

“No Kevin that’s a promise. I’ve been more than tolerant about your position in Angela’s life, but I’m not about to let you step in on something that doesn’t concern you,” Brant continued to lash out at him. “When you wanted to be her friend I had no problem with that, but now that it’s clear you’re planning a reunion all bets are off.”

“I’m not planning a reunion. I was just upset and…” Kevin started again throwing his hands up in the air in frustration.

“And you let your real feelings on the matter come to light, which again reminds me that you can’t be trusted,” Brant cut him off with a sharp tone. “If you even think about making a move on Angela, then so help me God you’ll lose everything.”

Kevin couldn’t help but laugh amusement carrying over him in spite of himself, “Oh that’s rich Brant. What are you going to do? Have me killed off like you did with Angie’s father?”

“You son of a…” Brant moved to remove his seatbelt and go over to attack Kevin.

“Brant stop,” Don reached for his friend’s arm and held him back. Glaring over at Kevin, Don shook his head at him, “Both of you stop it now. This is the last thing Angela would want you two to be doing. Right now she could be in real danger and the two of you are spouting off like spoiled brats. The fact to the matter is that you both care about her and you need to come together to ensure that she’ll be okay.”

“Fine,” Brant relented slumping back into his chair.

“Yeah whatever,” Kevin rolled his eyes at the remark, “but once we find her all bets are off.”

“Once we find her you’ll see first hand who the man she’s in love with Kevin and it won’t be you,” Brant jabbed at him with a snarl, “and I’m sure by then Ria will come to her senses and see that she can do much better than a lying, son of a bitch like you. Tell me something. Did you ever give a damn about her or were you just stringing her along as a substitute since you couldn’t have what you truly wanted?”

“Ria’s what I truly want,” Kevin’s jaw flexed with tension, his brown eyes shooting daggers at Brant.

“If that’s really the case, then when we find Angela, you’ll do what you need to do to make up for what you said the other night,” Brant warned him with a glare of his own, “Otherwise it’s going to be war.”

“I’m not intimidated by you Brant. After all I’ve killed for Angela before and I’ll do it again if need be,” Kevin’s tone was dark and unrelenting. “Don’t think that just because you’re the man of the moment that it doesn’t mean I won’t take you out if it gets to that point.”

“If you did it would only further prove to Angela what kind of monster you truly are. I mean sure there is something to be said about killing a man that tried to harm her, but in murdering the man she wants to share the rest of her life with--her children’s lives with…” Brant tossed out at him with a wicked smirk.

“Last time I checked I was the one in control of the children Brant. She gave me power of attorney and given that she’s not in her right mind right now,” Kevin wiggled his brow suggestively over at Brant.

“You son of a…” Brant moved forward once again only to see Don spring up off of his seat to stand in the middle of the area.

“Shut up both of you!” Don snapped at the two of them, “or else neither one of you will get a chance to duke this one out. I’ll kick both of your asses and then neither one of you will have a chance to think about anything other than the agony you’ll be in.”

Both Brant and Kevin looked at Don before exchanging glances with one another. A few seconds later Brant and Kevin both erupted into laughter.

“You think this is funny? You think I’m joking?” Don’s voice raised with heavy agitation. He waved his finger around in the air at the both of them before huffing. “Yeah you two just keep on making fools of yourselves and we’ll see how funny it is.”

“Sure,” Kevin mused with another laugh.

“Whatever you say Don,” Brant shook his head before turning to look out the window.

“You’d better behave,” Don warned again wondering how it was that two perfectly sane men could find themselves bickering about a woman, who needed them both right now. Sure, there might be some confusion of the heart, but at the moment what was really important was finding Angela and making sure she was safe. The rest of it was truly irrelevant for the time being.


Sam surveyed the room spotting her father over in the corner talking with a few people who had worked to put the party together. While she knew full well that she should just be honest with Hart and tell him the truth about what had been on her mind, she felt herself still stuck in that stubborn mode. She wanted to be honest about everything, but at the same time the last thing she wanted was to be the one to bring disappointment into his eyes. She knew how he felt on everything and for her to explain her position on the subject that was bothering her only left her in more turmoil. Taking in a breath she opted to go seek out Wayne instead of thinking about her father, but before she could follow through with that task, she realized her grandfather was standing behind her.

“Going somewhere?” Walt questioned with a wide smirk, his dark eyes curious now that Sam stood before him.

“I was just going to go look for Wayne,” she motioned across the dance floor over towards the bar area where Wayne was chatting with his father.

“It looks like you’ve found him,” Walt noted with a nod of his own before turning to her again, “but before you go, why don’t you have a dance with your old grandfather?”

“Grandfather,” Sam laughed lightly shaking her head at the sound of it before nodding up at him. “Sure, I’d like that. Although I have to admit I’m still getting used to the sound of that one since I mean we just met one another.”

“I know,” Walt lead her out onto the center of the dance floor. He curled his arm around her keeping his granddaughter close to him before speaking up again, “but I’m hoping that things will change for us. I know that lately we’ve been able to spend some time with one another that has been very important to me.”

“It’s been very important to me too,” Sam revealed with a warm, welcoming smile up at him, “I never really had a grandfather before so this is all kind of new to me.”

“It’s new to me too kiddo,” Walt laughed lightly before shaking his head, “though I’m hoping I’m doing a good job at it thus far.”

“You’ve been doing a fantastic job at it,” she admitted with a bright smile. “Better than fantastic actually.”

“Then I take it you were pleased with the surprise I put together for you and your trip,” Walt arched a curious brow thinking about what he’d done for his granddaughter.

“I was more than pleased. I still am. It‘s perfect, well almost perfect,” Sam confessed thinking about all she had ahead of her. She glanced over across the room to where Hart was standing.

Walt seemed to pick up on her apprehension and he circled her around on the dance floor to keep her from dwelling on her worries. “He’ll understand Sam. He’ll know why you need to spread your wings and fly for a while.”

“I know everyone keeps telling me that, but I’m just not so sure,” she sighed looking up at him again. “I mean for so long I thought that Travis was my dad, but then when I learned the truth everything changed. Hart and I haven’t had a lot of time together and knowing that he’s my dad…”

“Geography won’t change that,” Walt touched the side of her face seeing the sadness behind her dark eyes. “He will understand and one day come to accept your decision because he’s your father and he loves you.”

“I just don’t want him hating me for doing this without telling him,” she explained further knowing full well she should be honest with Hart.

“He won’t hate you. After all you’re his daughter,” Walt winked down at her and grinned, “He can’t hate you or chastise you for following your dreams. Once he sees how much potential this move has in store for you, I’m sure that he will be your biggest cheerleader.”

“I hope so,” she sighed as the music ended and Walt stepped back reaching for her hand. He raised it to his lips and smiled over at her.

“To nothing but the best in the days ahead of you,” he whispered warmly reaching out to embrace her. “You deserve nothing less.”

“Thank you so much. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. You have no idea how much it means to me after you pitched in at the school like you did to rush through my admissions for me,” she mouthed in response returning the embrace as Walt squeezed her one last time.

“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my granddaughter and if you ever need anything,” he reached out to touch her chin with his index finger, “all you have to do is ask.”

“Thank you so much,” Sam replied reaching out to squeeze his hand before watching him walk away. She felt a breath of relief carry over her in remembering her grandfather’s words, but that moment of fleeting freedom came crashing down around her when she heard a voice from behind her.

“Care to explain that one?” Hart questioned as Sam forced herself to turn around and face him at long last. “What is he up to now?”

“Nothing,” Sam replied with a simple shrug of her shoulders. She forced a smile and took in a breath. Stepping in closer to her father she held her hand out to him. “Care to dance?”

“With you anytime,” he nodded pushing the thoughts of his father aside for the time being.

He moved out onto the dance floor with her while a swing piece surrounded them. They both moved to the music taking in the rhythm and beats until laughter surrounded them. Once the music slowed down and the song ended it shifted to a slower paced beat. Hart offered his hand to her once again before they took to dancing to the beat.

“I’m really glad you were here tonight,” Sam broke her long silence, thinking about how much fun she had with him. “Thank you for putting all of this together.”

“I didn’t put anything together. You and Rob were the ones responsible for all of this,” he reminded her thinking about the enthusiasm that went into the party. “I merely knew the right connections to get things in motion.”

“And it’s those connections that made tonight possible,” Sam added brightly. She took in a small breath before speaking up again, “and if I haven’t ever told you this before I just wanted to thank you for everything. You’ve been so good to me in welcoming me into your life--into your family…”

“Sam, you’ve always been a part of my family. I just hated that it took us so long to find one another,” Hart sighed thinking about all the years that they’d lost with one another. “If I would’ve known the truth, then I would’ve been there for so many things. There were so many important moments we missed out on with one another…”

“But there will be a great many more no matter where we are now that we know the truth,” Sam blurted out almost immediately. She saw something in his eyes before she quickly spoke up again. “I mean face it. We’ve got the whole world ahead of us and words cannot even begin to express to you how happy I am that you’re my father.”

“I’m sure I know what you’re feeling because I couldn’t have asked for more in a daughter,” Hart leaned in to kiss her forehead gently. “You make me so proud Sam.”

“I want you to be proud of me,” she whispered leaning into his chest and embracing him. Closing her eyes tightly she spoke up once again, “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

“You make me very proud and even though we haven’t had a lot of time together, you don’t know how lucky I am to say that you’re my daughter. I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” he whispered squeezing her in his arms again as she wondered if he would truly feel that way about her once he learned the truth about her plans for the future. While she knew that she should be telling him now what was going on, she found herself longing to refrain from spoiling the moment. Instead she just hugged him back and silently prayed for his forgiveness down the road once he’d learned of her deception.


“Did I say something wrong?" Preston questioned once Wayne had led him away from the crowd and toward the other side of the club. His son looked a bit worried and he wondered if maybe he did say something wrong between the time of what was going on. “What’s wrong?"

“Sam’s father really doesn’t know yet dad,” Wayne explained seeing the way that Preston stared out at him and he let out a hesitant laugh. Looking around the area he shrugged his shoulders thinking of a way to tell his father about everything that was going on. “I know that it’s not very nice, but it’s something she begged of me and I have to dad. So it’s kind of like her wishes and I’m trying to live up to them for her. You know what I mean?"

“I know what you mean, but still…,” Preston went to try and convince his son more of trying to not do something like that, but he knew that a lot of people his age would want something like that kept secret. Knowing that he didn’t like the fact that he knew the truth he took in a long sigh and looked around the room. “Okay, I’ll keep my mouth shut about everything, but I don’t like to do things like this. I know you really want this and I think he should be a part of it as well, but if you insist Wayne--I say do whatever it is that makes you happy.”

“This makes me extremely happy dad, I hope you know that,” Wayne patted his father on the shoulder before feeling someone do the same to him. Glancing back over his shoulder he saw Rob behind him with a few things in hand. “I know that you did a lot of this too Rob and I have to thank you very much for everything.”

“It’s no problem. You’re my best friend’s kid, I have to help you out somehow,” Rob patted him on the shoulder before handing him over something seeing the way that he stared down at it. “That’s the number to my friend you can check with when you get there. He will hook you up with everything you need. Just call him and everything we’ll be okay.”

“Thank you so much Rob, I really seriously can not tell you how much this means to me,” he thanked them once more before sliding the number into his back pocket. Looking back over his shoulder he tried to spot Sam in the crowd and found her out of the corner of his eyes. “I’m going to go find Sam. Tell her about this and I’ll be back.”

“Alright,” Rob nodded and when he turned around to talk to Preston he felt himself knock right into the slender frame behind him. Trying to catch the slender body in his arms he saw the familiar set of brown eyes before him. “Cori.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” she moved away from him as she straightened out her dress and stared out at him. “I know that this seems weird Rob, but I just wanted to come over here and talk to you. Not long. Not long at all. I just wanted to tell you that I was sorry for everything I did. I wasn’t in the right state of mind and I was being such a jerk and I’m extremely sorry that I did something like this. I know that you were just trying to be nice to me and I just need you to know that I’m sorry.”

“Cori, I won’t stay mad at you. I know you were having a hard time with your life and I’m not the type of person to be a total jerk about something,” he nodded looking to Cori seeing the way she looked out at him with her dark brown eyes. “I forgive you Cori. It’s okay. I forgive you.”


Dorothy stood near band listening to the music playing and watching over by the dessert table where Sarah and Douglas were with one another. She repressed the urge to throw up as she spotted the two moments earlier entangled with one another. Now Douglas was seated in one of the chairs, his new bride hovering over him and settling herself on his lap while she dangled a cherry over his lips in tempting him to try to take it from her. Each and every time Douglas attempted to reach for it, Sarah would pull it just out of his grasp before repeating the process over and over again. It was becoming nauseating Dorothy realized when Sarah discarded the cherry dangling it between her lips just enough to cause Douglas to move in for it and kiss her.

“Hey mom,” Jenna waved approaching Dorothy and seeing that her mother wasn’t listening. “Mom?”

“Would you just look at them,” Dorothy huffed shaking her head at the obvious love play that was going on between Douglas and Sarah in the middle of the club. “They look ridiculous.”

“Who?” Jenna questioned tipping her head to the side to follow her mother’s stare. Almost immediately she spotted Douglas and Sarah making out and then she promptly groaned. “Oh them.”

“Yes them,” Dorothy shook her head again, her scowl intensifying. “Does he have no shame? I mean honestly does he even care what an ass he’s making of himself in public with his little tramp all over him like that?”

“I honestly don’t think he cares,” Jenna sighed heavily knowing full well what her father was capable of by his previous exploits. “I really don’t believe this is something that phases him especially given how tarnished his reputation is.”

“Even so does he need to flaunt his whore off like this in front of everyone? I mean for God’s sake this is a party for your brother and…” Dorothy continued to rant unable to quell the agitation that boiled through her veins.

“I really don’t think Wayne pays much attention to him and you shouldn’t either for that matter,” Jenna decided reaching out to touch her mom’s arm gently. “Mom you can’t let him bother you. He’s not worth it.”

“You’re damn right he’s not worth it,” Dorothy huffed impatiently, “and to think at one time I thought he was special--that he could be the kind of man I could share my life with and love. Well I’ll tell you now that I know when I left it was the best thing I could’ve done for the two of us because look how he turned out. Here we went through hell because I was trying to give you a good life, but then for him to come in here and flaunt things like this in our face, well I have to tell you that I honestly can‘t believe that I thought he could make me happy. He‘s only making us miserable in being around and if we would‘ve stayed there we would‘ve been a complete mess too.”

“I think we did okay on our own,” Jenna piped in knowing full well that her mother wasn’t really speaking to her but rather to herself. “Mom, hey it’s okay.”

“No Jen it’s not okay because I deserve more respect than this. So do you,” Dorothy added firmly before glancing over at Jenna for a brief second. “Can’t he see that this is upsetting to you and…?”

“Actually mom I’m fine. I gave up on worrying about what he did once he shacked up with Thea,” Jenna shrugged her shoulders simply, “This couldn’t possibly be any worse.”

“Couldn’t be any worse? Jenna, do you know anything about that woman? About the kind of things she’s done to people in this town?” Dorothy’s eyes widened in astonishment. “Why when I think about what I’ve heard…”

“You should be thankful that she’s not your problem and that she’s his,” Jenna placed her hand over her abdomen feeling a moment of tiredness carry over her. “Mom seriously it’s not worth getting worked up about.”

“I mean look at him,” Dorothy flung her hand around in the air once again. “There he is acting like a dog in heat instead of behaving like a respectable citizen. He’s going to be a grandfather soon and…”

“Mom it’s okay,” Jenna stressed the words once again in the hopes of getting her mother not to focus on Douglas anymore. Suddenly a thought occurred to Jenna, “Unless of course it’s not okay with you.”

“Of course it’s not okay with me. It’s just wrong. We certainly don‘t need a peep show here,” Dorothy continued to rant before catching the expression on Jenna’s face. “What?”

“Mom are you upset because he’s giving everyone a peep show or because he’s married?” Jenna couldn’t help but ask while searching her mother’s eyes. “I mean I know you two have a history with one another and that you were in love with him when you left.”

“Jenna, when I was pregnant I did what was best for you. A mother always does what’s best for their child even if their head and their heart are in two very different places,” Dorothy’s gaze dropped down to Jenna’s swelled abdomen. “Surely you can understand that.”

“I do, but I’m not a little girl anymore,” Jenna noted eyeing her mother curiously. “And even though a lot of time has passed, you’ve never really gotten over it, have you?”

“Oh please,” Dorothy rolled her eyes at the remark. “I’ll have you know that I’m very over the spell your father had on me. It took me a while, but once I grew up I knew what a mistake being around him was. Well, other than my having you of course.”

“Right,” Jenna nodded disbelieving now that her mother seemed to be fixated on Douglas again. “You know mom if this was the reason why you wouldn’t marry Preston…”

“I didn’t marry Preston because I don’t believe you have to be married to be happy,” Dorothy snapped back at her. Her dark eyes filled with something that Jenna couldn’t register. “Just because two people are in love doesn’t mean that they need to automatically jump to some status together that leads to matrimony. I mean honestly it seems a bit too legal for me more than anything else.”

“Still Preston really did a wonderful job proposing and he loves you so much,” Jenna added thinking about the man who played a hand in raising her. “He’s a good father and you love him.”

“I do, but marriage was never a part of the plan for me,” Dorothy sighed feeling an ache in her temple.

“Not since you left my father anyways,” Jenna blurted out catching the glare her mother shot back at her.

“Your father was a lesson that I needed to learn in order to grow up and as for the whole marriage discussion,” Dorothy placed her hands on her own hips and frowned, “I don’t see you and Hart leaping into wedded bliss.”

“If we tried I’m sure you’d be right there ready to bound and gag me to keep me from making it to church,” Jenna noted with a tiny laugh shaking her head at her mother. “Face it mom. I know you hate Hart.”

“Even so for some reason you feel he’s the one for you,” Dorothy wrinkled her nose at the thought. “I personally feel you shouldn’t get yourself tied down to a man with so much baggage but…”

“But we’re adults and we can deal with our relationship on our own,” Jenna smoothed her fingers over her swelled abdomen. “We’re a family now.”

“Yes, well I can see what comes along with being in his family. His father is a crook and he is a liar and a cheat,” Dorothy started to rant at her, “He has a daughter and a lover…”

“Ex-lover,” Jenna corrected with a frown, “and it’s not a problem. Hart’s a good guy even if you can’t see that.”

“What I see is my daughter making some of the same mistakes I did,” Dorothy’s brow creased with worry, “and that terrifies me. Getting involved with a man like that especially at this point in your life is nothing but trouble.”

“Mom, I’m not making the same mistakes you did. I’m making my own if you can even call them mistakes,” Jenna continued to explain standing up taller. “Besides Hart isn’t like Douglas. He never was and he never will be. We have something special.”

“I thought that once, but you see how that turned out,” Dorothy motioned over to where Douglas and Sarah were with one another.

“All I see is someone holding onto an old grudge that needs to be let go of,” Jenna paused before giving her mother a long look, “or is it an old love?”

“Trust me the last thing I feel for him is love or anything even remotely close to it,” Dorothy waved her hand dismissively, “and for you to even suggest that I could give a damn about that shallow, greedy, lecherous man is beyond me.”

“I’m not even going to argue this one with you right now mom,” Jenna finally decided seeing Hart waiting over for her near the bar. “You will have to work your demons out all on your own, but trust me mom. In this particular scenario closure is what’s best for you--for everyone.”

“I’ve found closure. I found it years ago,” Dorothy bit back fighting to get in the last words as Jenna tossed out one last wave before joining Hart again. Dorothy slumped back thinking about her daughter’s words and feeling unsettled inside. Frowning to herself she spoke up underneath her breath. “I’ve closed that chapter in my life for good.”

“Have you?” a voice beckoned her from her sulking as she looked over her shoulder to see Douglas standing beside her. He wore a painted on smile and his eyes glimmered with a spark of hope. Stepping in closer to her, she felt him brush his fingertips against her shoulder. He curled his lips in a full smirk before speaking up again in a low, sensual drawl. “Have you really found yourself at that turning point where we are concerned?”

“There is no we Douglas,” she corrected with a tight scowl.

“Perhaps, but I still think there is a lot left to explore between us,” he mouthed boldly sliding his fingers over her arm in a tentative movement.

“Their ceased to be an us the moment you stopped being honest with yourself about the man you really are,” she shot back at him icily finding herself suddenly on edge. “Once upon a time you had a heart and a soul, but you sold it in your quest to become what the world wanted you to be.”

“I did what I had to in order to survive. Surely you of all people should be able to understand that,” Douglas tried to appeal to her pain flashing behind his eyes. “I can honestly say I’m not proud of all the choices I’ve made in my life, but damn it that doesn’t change the way I feel--the way I’ve always felt.”

“Gee, I’m sure your bride would be happy to hear you saying all of this,” she rolled her eyes at him while wondering where Sarah had drifted off to. “I’m sure she would be less than thrilled to know you’re offering up sweet endearments to me while she is undoubtedly planning your next make out session.”

“I would give all of that up in a heartbeat--all of this and more if I could’ve had you,” Douglas stated in a firm, decisive tone. “You were all that I wanted Dottie. You’ve always been all that I’ve ever needed.”

“Apparently not enough,” she mouthed in response shaking her head at him and pulling away from his touch.

“You do still love me though, don’t you?” he challenged meeting her gaze again. “That’s why you never married anyone else. It’s why you’ve never let another man see you like I did. It’s not that you don’t want to open up your heart to anyone else, but rather you can’t because it’s always belonged to me.”

“Don’t flatter yourself Doug,” she stood up straighter curling her lip in a tight scowl. “What we had wasn’t that special.”

“It was indeed special,” he reached out to her again feeling her ready to make a retreat. “It was filled with passion, romance and a whole hell of a lot more substance than either one of us have ever had in our lives. Our being together was the only right thing that’s ever happened to either one of us and Jenna is living proof of that.”

“Jenna is a reminder of the sacrifice I had to make to see that she would have the chance at real happiness in her life instead of having to deal with a selfish father who cared only about furthering his own personal pleasures,” Dorothy wrenched her arm away from him. “Face it Doug the only thing you’re missing out of our relationship is the fact that your admiration society is one woman short of what you believed it to be.”

“I honestly love you,” he tried to appeal to her once again with a pleading look. “I always have.”

She stood silent for a long moment before finally shaking her head at him and sighing, “I don’t believe you’re capable of real love Doug. I think that part of you died a long time ago and this farce of a marriage you’re in right now only further proves that point.”

“Dottie wait,” Douglas watched her turn around on her heel and start to walk away from him. “Please…”

“Save it Doug. Neither one of us need to go down that road again with one another. We closed the door on it a long time ago and I’d like to keep it that way,” she mouthed in response taking off across the party to rejoin Preston in the hopes of finally pushing any and all thoughts she had of Douglas out of her life forever before the past found it’s way to eat her alive all over again.


“So anyways,” Kellen went to talk to Kipp more once they got on the subject of the party knowing that once Daniel and Lindsay had left they could have some things to talk about with the party and what was going on later tonight. “I was thinking that I could…”

“Finally get a life and stop being a total jerk to half the population,” Sarah’s voice pressed in behind him as Kellen felt his jaw tightening in anger and he turned on his feet seeing the way that Sarah’s dark eyes were staring out at him. A satisfied smile pressed in over her features as she saw Kellen’s angered blue eyes staring into hers. “What’s wrong Kellen? Your panties in a bunch or something today?"

“You know aren’t you in the wrong building Sarah?" Kellen questioned folding his arms in front of his muscular chest seeing the way that she stared out at him. “I do believe that you are actually looking for the store ‘Whores R’ Us’ or maybe your most recent attraction ‘Money Diggers and Beyond’.”

“Don’t be jealous Kellen, I know that this whole situation has you upset. I was the one that got with Douglas, just because I fell in love with someone who had money doesn’t mean you have to pick on me about the whole money situation,” Sarah tisked him watching Kellen’s smirk turn into a smug one. “Gee, that means I’m kind of the step mother to your little boyfriend there.”

“Oh wow. The wicked step mother, now I knew there was a great part you could play for a movie. Now it’s finally there, it was always on the tip of my tongue, but I can see it now. You fit the part so well. The nasty face, the worn out body,” Kellen looked down over Sarah before letting out a long laugh. “You fit the cartoon perfectly. I know I should be asking you where you mirror on the wall is, but I know it probably kills you to see what an ugly skank you’ve become that you probably broke them all. Which I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want to look in the mirror either if I had a face like yours.”

“Oh that was a very weak one Kellen,” she shoved her fingers into the center of his shoulder seeing the way his blue eyes glared more into hers as he stepped in closer to her. “You don’t even know what it’s like to grow up do you?"

“Oh, I know exactly what it’s like,” Kellen began seeing the way she looked out at him as he shook his head slowly thinking about the recent events that had taken place. “I know that you will never grow up. This whole thing with Doug is nothing but a game. A game where you are trying to get back into the life of Kyle, but I have some news for you honey. He thinks your disgusting as well. As much as I hate you, well the truth is, he hates you more. You’re not even a blip on his screen Sarah.”

“Kellen, you’re the one I blame for ruining my life with Kyle and I promise you--I promise to God I will take you down and I will destroy you,” she hissed seeing the way that Kellen rolled his blue eyes and pressed back his perfectly styled dark hair. “Your life is so perfect you know and I will make it dark and terrible Kellen. I will ruin your life like you did mine and that I promise you.”

“Well honey you’ve already ruined the space of the good people around here. I find it funny that you are going to destroy me when you have no one by your side. No one. Everyone hates you Sarah, everyone knows what you are and why you are that way. No one cares about you, you are just a huge bitch that no one wants to deal with,” Kellen half laughed throwing his hands up in the air shaking his head as he spoke in a continuous breath. “And you know what? I even think Cameron might see you as the whore I know you are. I wouldn’t even be surprised if right now he’s planning out your murder because you married one of his worst enemies. You know that?"

“You like to babble a lot, don’t you?" Sarah muttered seeing the smirk that pressed in over Kellen’s face as his light blue eyes narrowed out at her and she laughed shaking her head slowly. “Cameron can’t do a thing.”

“Listen eight-mile--you don’t know what you’re talking about because let me let you in on something. I’ve been around Cameron’s family since I was a child. I’ve been JT’s friend since then, JT was my best friend letting me be around Cameron quite often,” Kellen began to explain with a deep laugh his eyes narrowing into hers. “And Sarah you'd better keep one eye behind your back every minute of every day because you are so screwed. And you will never see it coming, but Cameron will get you and he’ll get you good. You won’t even see it coming.”


Ben stepped out of the shower, wrapping one towel around his waist while using the other, smaller towel to dry his hair. He felt a chill surround him as he looked to the mirror seeing the steam that created a film over it. Stepping forward he wiped at the mirror in the hopes of seeing if he had been able to get rid of all the sewage he feared he would never get off his skin or out of his hair after the night he and Alexa had. Sure, he’d been in some pretty bad situations in the past, but being trapped in the sewers ranked somewhere near the top of awful.

“I’m never taking that route again,” Ben wrinkled his nose at the thought before setting down the smaller towel. Leaning forward he inspected a cut he’d gotten on his upper arm from his time in the sewer. It looked alright at the moment, but he contemplated what he could’ve caught down there in all the nastiness that had surrounded him and Alexa. Sure he’d had a tetanus shot recently, but it wouldn’t hurt to put some kind of first aid spray or cream on it.

“I’m sure Alexa has it around here somewhere,” Ben began to shuffle through the drawers on the vanity knowing only too well about Alexa’s obsessive health conscious tendencies. He almost laughed remembering how when they were younger, she was always the first one to run and grab the first aid kit anytime anyone fell down. Sure, it seemed excessive, but now Ben was banking on it as he knelt down to open the door underneath the vanity. Shuffling through the contents, he found the first aid kit near the back and grinned.

“I knew you couldn’t break all your old habits,” Ben smiled pulling it out and standing up to set the kit on the counter. He opened it up and started to search through the contents until he found what he needed. Once he was satisfied that the wound was cleaned, he returned his attention to getting dressed.

“You’re certainly not wearing those,” Ben mouthed to himself seeing the remainder of his sewer scented clothing on the floor to the bathroom. He’d half contemplated throwing them into the bathtub and dousing them with Alexa’s floral scented bubble bath, but he realized that probably wasn’t a smart idea. Even the boxer shorts that Diane had gotten him for Valentine’s Day were clearly ruined.

“No matter,” Ben shrugged walking out of into Alexa’s bedroom for his suitcase, “I can just find something else.”

Ben secured the towel tighter around his waist, thinking about the other clothing he had with him. Granted he hadn’t packed much, but if worst came to worse he could pick something up at one of the local stores in the area. There were reasonable places around where they were located, although Ben was pretty certain they wouldn’t appreciate him dropping by in a towel.

“Which is why you have your bag,” Ben reminded himself thinking about the emergency bag he’d packed with a t-shirt and a pair of sweats for something like this very occasion. The only problem was in finding where he’d set the bag. Initially he’d tossed it in Alexa’s room when they were going out to investigate, but now it appeared to be missing. He bent down and looked underneath the bed wondering if he’d kicked it there in a haste when they were leaving, but he was coming up empty.

“It has to be in here,” Ben circled around the other side of the bed looking to the nightstand area, but the bag was still missing. Frowning Ben stood up again and scratched his head.

“Where can it be?” Ben frowned moving out of Alexa’s room and into the living room area. He spotted his stained shirt on the floor where he’d left it along with Alexa’s clothing. Shaking his head he couldn’t believe the mess they’d gotten themselves into with one another. It was just one of those moments he would’ve easily wanted to forget, yet he was certain it would haunt him for years.

“But it’s over,” Ben pointed out with a sigh, “now if you can find your bag, you’ll be all set.”

“Looking for this?” Alexa questioned as Ben turned around to see her standing before him in a cream colored towel. Her long, dark hair surrounded her face as Ben couldn’t help but take a long look at her. Even without her makeup she was beautiful in a natural, self confident sort of way. Sure, she wasn’t as prim and proper as someone like Blake or Diane would be, but she had a simple, easy going quality to her. It was one of the things that Ben had appreciated over the years because much like Ria, Alexa was able to be comfortable in her own skin without having to worry about all the primping and the loads of makeup that most women felt made them sensational. She was essentially laid back and sexy without even trying, which was always something that had her, in Ben’s mind, one step above the rest.

“I saw this when I got out of the shower,” she explained further, a hint of a smile building over her pale pink lips. “Actually I almost tripped over it on the way out. I was going to get dressed first before coming out here, but then I remembered you showered first, so you were probably running around my place naked like a chicken with it’s head cut off searching for this.”

“Guilty as charged,” he held his hand up in the air. “I guess I didn’t remember where I moved it to.”

“Neither did I, but it sort of found me,” Alexa stepped forward holding her arm out to him. She dangled the bag in the air as Ben couldn’t help but smile at her.

“Just like you found me,” Ben replied reaching out for the bag and taking it from her. Their fingers brushed for a brief moment. He saw the way her lips curved outward almost like a pout, yet it was clearly unintentional as her eyes found their way to his again. He cleared his throat and smiled at her, “Thanks.”

“No thank you,” she countered with an awkward tone.

“For what?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“For reminding me what it’s like to actually lose focus for a while,” Alexa confessed bringing her fingers up through her dark hair. “For so long I’ve kind of been buried in this whole undercover world and I haven’t really had time to be myself. Not that I’m saying being down in the sewers is being me, but it was easier having someone else there with me.”

“Same here,” Ben couldn’t help but laugh, “I don’t know if I would’ve made it through that mess without you. Heaven knows if I was down there with Diane, she would’ve probably killed me before we found our way out.”

“Diane’s not a mud and dirt kind of girl, huh?” she questioned as her features shifted with something Ben couldn’t quite read.

“Nah, she’s more of the manicure and spa kind of girl, but it suits her,” Ben cleared his throat uneasily. “At this rate I could probably go for a manicure right now as well.”

“You with a manicure?” she brought her hand over her stomach with a moment of laughter. “Oh I can just see that one Ben.”

“Hey, I’ve done it before,” he frowned watching the way that her arm movement had pulled her towel down just enough to accentuate the curve of her subtle cleavage. He cleared his throat again, “I mean it wasn’t like I went alone. I went with Seth and…”

“Even worse,” she blurted out with a full blown laugh. “What in the world were you two doing there? Do you know how meterosexual that sounds?”

“Hey, Blake forced us into it,” Ben explained uneasily. “He didn’t want to go alone and…”

“You decided to hold his hand,” she finished with a chortle. “So tell me Ben, what else has Blake been able to coax you into over the years?”

“Nothing worth getting into,” he shook the thought from his mind.

“Fine,” she stepped forward, her eyes narrowing in at him, “then let’s forget about Blake and start talking about what I could coax you into.”

“What do you have in mind?” Ben wiggled his brow suggestively, his thoughts returning to the case at hand.

“What are you interested in?” she questioned reaching out to slide her hand over his bare shoulder. Her gaze dropped down over his abdomen before she stroked the area just above his wound on his arm. “What happened?”

“I think I scraped myself down in the sewers,” Ben explained feeling a breath catch in his throat as she circled her index finger around the outer edge of the band aid.

“You aren’t the only one,” she confessed bending down to push the towel away from her upper thigh to reveal a bandage of her own. “I think I snagged it on the way out of that place.”

“Did you put something on it?” Ben questioned worriedly. “I know I used your first aid cream in there, but not all of it.”

“I had another tube in the guest bathroom,” she explained standing up straighter as Ben was suddenly aware of the proximity between them.

“So I guess it’s safe to say that we hurt one another down there,” she leaned in towards him, her lips parting as her eyes narrowed down at him, “Although I’m fairly certain I can find a way to heal it for us.”

“I already put the first aid cream on and,” Ben began opening his mouth to say something more when she reached out to him, sliding her arms around his neck and pulling him in against her. Her lips came crashing down over his, sending a tiny jolt of electricity between them as his arms found their way around her waist. He opened his mouth to say something, but instead felt her press him down onto one of her chairs as she climbed in over him, her towel sliding off in the process.

“Alexa,” Ben broke through her kiss, feeling his skin on fire at her hands roaming over his chest.

“Don’t say anything and spoil it Ben,” she urged him on further, guiding his hands up over her bare hips as she kissed him harder than before.

“Alexa wait,” Ben couldn’t help but push her away gently. He urged her back on his legs at a safe distance and as his eyes swept over her curves, he couldn’t help but find himself grateful that his towel was still very much in place. Clearing his throat for what felt like the millionth time, he forced himself to meet her eyes, “I’m sorry Lex, but I can’t do this. I’m engaged.”

“We don’t have to tell her,” she leaned forward in an attempt to kiss him again as he turned away.

“Lex, don’t get me wrong you’re beautiful. Hell, you’re more than that, but we’re partners and,” Ben forced himself to face her, “I love Diane. I’ve waited a long time to find what I have with her and I’m not about to chance it.”

“But don’t you want to know what might have been with us?” she questioned seeking out more of a response from him before realization flashed behind her eyes. Scooting back, she eased herself off of his lap and reached for her towel wrapping it around herself in a haste. Embarrassment flooded over her as she turned away.

“Lexie,” Ben called out to her watching her circle around the bar again. He saw her pull out a bottle and he stood up hoping to smooth the waters over between them, “Look it’s not that I’m not flattered because believe me I am, but we discussed this before in the past about how you and I are friends. Sure, we tried to see if we could go into the friends with benefits department in the past, but we both agreed that would be a mistake.”

“I know it would,” Alexa nodded pouring herself a drink before turning to him. “You want one?”

“Sure,” he agreed seeing that her hands were shaking as she poured his drink. Still he felt that there was more to be said between them. “Look, I know that you’ve been really deep under cover for a while and…”

“And it doesn’t really open me up for a sex life,” she forced a nervous laugh, “which is probably why I felt the need to jump on you first opportunity I got because you’re one of the only people around me that aren’t breaking at least half a dozen laws and repulsive as well.”

“Gee and here I thought it was because you might’ve been still thinking about what we almost,” Ben pondered her earlier words to him.

“I only said it because like I said I haven’t been connected with someone in a while, but obviously that was the after effects of raw sewage in my brain,” she finished off her drink before pouring herself another one. “You ready for more?”

“Nah, I think I’m good with this,” Ben finished his drink and set the glass down. He watched her for a long moment before he spoke up again, “So we’re cool then?”

“Beyond cool,” she nodded placing her hands flat on the countertop. “Seriously Ben. What just happened, well that was the byproduct of absolutely no sex. I mean if you think about it, the last man I was with was Shane and well…”

“I don’t want to think about it,” Ben groaned outwardly. “That man might be a friend of mine, but the last thing I want is to think about him in a bedroom setting.”

“That’s refreshing to hear,” she forced a small smile, “for what it’s worth though I’m sorry I went all crazy on you before.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he smiled over at her. “I mean hey at least it was me and not some bum off of the street.”

“Boy I’d really be hating myself then,” she wrinkled her nose at him. “I mean could you imagine?”

“I shudder at the thought,” he added before looking down to the floor. An uncomfortable silence lingered between them until he faced her again, “though I should probably be getting dressed right now.”

“Yeah, we’ve got a lot to brief everyone on,” she nodded in response.

“So, I’ll just go into the guest room and finish up,” Ben suggested. “You can have your space back and…”

“Sounds good,” she agreed circling around the bar and heading towards her room.

Ben turned around to see her leaving without bothering to look back at him. He turned towards his empty glass again as he heard the sound of her door closing behind him. Letting out a breath he reached for the bottle of Jack Daniels and opted to pour himself another drink as it was clear that despite the words he and Alexa had exchanged with one another, things were still awkward. Yes, they had to work with one another, but Ben was certain that the sooner he got back home to Diane the better off everything would be.


“I knew you were lying to me when you said you were a terrible dancer,” Diane blurted out after she and Shane had stepped out onto the balcony with one another to get some air. They had been dancing for quite some time and she had to admit that she’d been very impressed with what she’d seen on the dance floor. “Shame on you for that!”

“I told you I was a bad dancer,” Shane corrected with a playful laugh, “I never said I was terrible.”

“I would hardly consider what you did out there to qualify you as a man with two left feet,” she laughed lightly watching her breath turn into vapor in the cool night air. Tipping her head up to look at the stars overhead for a moment she felt a small chill in the air.

“Okay, so maybe I’ve learned to make due with what I have,” Shane shrugged his shoulders noticing that she started to shiver in front of him. Wordlessly he slipped out of his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders catching her off guard. She stood up straighter and tipped her head back in time to feel his hands pressing in against her arms. He smiled down at her in explanation. “You look cold.”

“I am,” she admitted with a thankful expression feeling the warmth of his jacket around her slender form, “or rather I was before you decided to sacrifice yourself.”

“It’s hardly a sacrifice,” he shrugged his shoulders smiling at her. The wind kicked up ever so slightly just enough to cause his dark hair to blow around his face just a bit. “I don’t mind this kind of weather. I’m used to it.”

“Is that right?” she arched a curious brow turning around to face him fully. “Grow up in this kind of weather?”

“Actually I spent half my life in Michigan when I was in the states which pretty much was a guarantee that you would never be able to tell what the weather was going to be like,” he admitted with a sheepish laugh, “One day it was winter coat weather and the next it was shorts weather. I learned to adapt to all of that, so now hot or cold nothing phases me.”

“Michigan huh?” she gave him a long once over before smiling, “I never had you pegged for someone who spent lengthy amounts of time in Michigan.”

“Why? What’s wrong with Michigan?” he questioned blinking down at her. He leaned in against the railing of the balcony and tipped his head to the side to watch her.

“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with Michigan at all, but I guess I just figured with the whole air of mystery you had surrounding you that you’d have stepped out of someplace exotic with the accent and all,” she admitted feeling a blush rise over her.

“So what? You’re telling me that there isn’t anything exotic that comes out of Hell, Michigan?” he arched a speculative brow while catching the small laugh that poured from her lips.

“Did you just say Hell, Michigan?” she couldn’t help but laugh at what he’d told her.

“Don’t ask,” he shook his head and sighed revealing a tiny smile of his own. “It’s not worth talking about.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who came directly from Hell before,” she teased with a soft rumble in her tone. Her dark eyes reached out to his and she continued to speak. “Seriously I can’t even begin to imagine what that must’ve been like growing up.”

“It was for lack of a better word, interesting,” he chuckled in response with a small shake of his head. “Though I guess it adds character in it’s own way. We lived there for a while before relocating to Romeo after my step-father got a job working for one of the Ford plants out there after my mother opted to move back to the states after one of our European adventures.”

“Romeo,” she repeated with a small nod, “Well that also brings up an interesting thought.”

“Such as?” he arched a curious brow standing up straighter and moving in closer to her.

“Well one it gives me the first clue about you and who you are,” she admitted with a small smile stepping in closer to him in order to avoid the night wind, “and two well Romeo always reminds me of one of my favorite movies.”

“Romeo and Juliet?” he questioned with a wide grin, a newfound confidence in his tone. He saw her laugh lightly, a slow rumble falling from her now parted lips as she pressed her fingers into his chest.

“More like Romeo Must Die,” she teased seeing the strange expression on his face. “Shane, I’m kidding. Of course it’s Romeo and Juliet.”

“Oh,” he laughed back at her, “for a minute you had me there.”

“I thought so,” she shook her head with amusement, “and as much as I know I shouldn’t have done that, it was fun to see the expression on your face.”

“What expression?” he questioned lazily moving in closer to her.

“The bewildered one that gave the first hint to me that you were out of control of the situation. You‘re always so smooth and together that for a split second you actually seemed like you weren‘t prepared for that one,” she informed him honestly watching the way his face grew puzzled.

“You think I’m together all the time?” he repeated with a sideways glance his fingers curling over the side of the railing.

She nodded, “Yeah, I mean you’ve always been playing the smooth, suave kind of guy ever since we met in the elevators. You never gave me any hints about your background or about who you are, yet for a second there it seemed like maybe you didn’t know all the answers.”

“So now you’re calling me a know it all,” he shook his head at her, laughter spilling over his lips.

“No that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just…” she paused for a moment struggling to find the right words, “Well it was nice. This is nice.”

“Standing outside in the cold?” he replied with a curious expression seeing the way the loose strands of her hair framed her face.

“No not that,” she shook her head again, “The getting to know you. I mean you’ve been so guarded about who you are and every time I ask you something personal, you turn the conversation around on me.”

“That’s because I realize that you’re the kind of woman who enjoys a good mystery rather than an open book,” he stood up straighter moving in closer to her. His eyes pressed into hers revealing something a bit darker than what they’d held moments earlier. Her gaze dropped down to his lips and instinctively she felt her own breath escaping from her mouth in a small shallow pant. He reached out to her, fingers brushing up against the soft smoothness of her cheek before his index finger touched a piece of her hair. “Can I help it if I’m out to impress you?”

“Why would you want to do something as silly as that?” she questioned again her eyes drawn to his soft, luscious lips. She was suddenly very aware of the scent of his cologne carrying over his jacket, but more so over the warmth of his body that now lingered a few inches over hers. She closed her eyes for a brief second feeling his touch make a small caress against her chilled flesh. She opened her lips to say something further when his words carried a warmth over her mouth.

“If you have to even ask that, then you’re the one who hasn’t been paying attention to all of the details Miss Perception,” he mouthed in a low, sensual rumble all the while his fingers smoothing out into her hair. She felt his other arm curl around her slender waist drawing her in nearer to him. With a gasp her eyes opened and she discovered him leaning in over her, his brown eyes now filled with a sudden determination. Suddenly she too was aware of the press her fingers had over the center of his shirt, circling one of the buttons over the center.

“Shane, what are we doing?” she questioned feeling her throat go dry, her heart hammering in her chest as she remembered Deidra’s earlier warnings. She’d been certain she’d been spending so much time with Shane because he’d been a friend, yet now that he had her in his arms, the warmth of his solid frame in against hers, she found herself longing to discover what it would be like to leap beyond that barrier and experience more with him.

“You tell me,” he searched her eyes for a long moment feeling her fingers slide over the muscular planes of his chest causing a sudden warmth to fill the night surrounding them. Her hand dipped down to his waist offering a small squeeze before she slid her palm up over his chest again.

“I think I’m falling into complete insanity,” she admitted more so to herself than him as his mouth moved in over hers leaving no questions remaining about just how good it would be to kiss him. His fingers eased into her dark hair, arm squeezing her soft curves into his lean, muscled form and in that moment she knew full well she should walk away, but feeling his divine mouth over his, in tasting the delicious temptation that his lips provided her with she was certain that she was in trouble. Big trouble!


“So this is what paradise looks like?” Don questioned looking around the small island retreat that he, Kevin and Brant had landed in a short while ago. Taking in the tropical setting, he made a mental note to return at another time in the hopes of having an exotic getaway with Shannon considering that they’d never really taken a honeymoon with one another. Looking to the small bar ahead, Don pointed towards it. “So tell me do they have good food in there? I’m starving.”

“They have just about good everything in there,” Kevin replied honestly thinking about how good it felt to be home at long last. While he’d been ready to kick the living hell out of Brant most of the way over to the island, he now felt at ease knowing that he was back in his turf. The island was his home for so very long and he was well aware of the fact that he had the home court advantage now that Brant had no choice but to shut up and listen to him for a while. “You’ll like it Don because it offers up every kind of sin you can imagine.”

“Gee and why am I not surprised to hear you say something like that,” Brant rolled his eyes in response still fighting to maintain an air of professionalism while he found himself wanting to kick the life out of Kevin.

“Because it’s the truth,” Kevin ignored the snide tone Brant had issued him before adding, “Angie was very happy spending time here the last time we were here together.”

“She was even happier spending time with me when we were on the island together the last time. Come to think of it, maybe she went back to the beach house that we first met in,” Brant pondered the thought thinking about the place they’d first met on the other side of the island.

“If Angie has been here, there is one person who would know about it,” Kevin stated bluntly, “as she knows everything.”

“And just who might that be?” Brant questioned doubtful as the trio entered the bar and almost immediately they were greeted by a chorus of cheers.

“Kevin!” a group of women squealed excitedly all of them rushing over to embrace them. One woman placed a kiss on his cheek while the other whispered something in his ear that Brant couldn’t quite make out. Another ran her fingers over the thick, muscled contours of his chest before one grabbed his behind.

“Ladies please,” Kevin flashed them a bright smile, a new suave air overtaking him. He stepped aside to tip his head towards them before speaking up again, “I just got in. Give me a few minutes to catch some air.”

“You won’t need a few minutes by the time I get through with you. You’ll feel right at home immediately,” a petite brunette slurred sliding her arms around his neck and leaning up on her toes to kiss him excitedly.

Don and Brant exchanged glances with one another before Don spoke up.

“Must be a friendly island,” Don noted leaning in closer to Brant.

“Very friendly indeed,” Brant added with a tight scowl watching Kevin detangle himself from the woman’s arms. Brant glared up at Kevin expectantly before Kevin raised his hands in the air.

“Ladies as much as I would love to catch up with each and every one of you, the fact to the matter is that I can’t. I’m off the market now,” Kevin explained with a small grin again. “I’m engaged.”

“Engaged?” a bubbly blonde gulped before a curvy auburn haired woman slid to the front of the group.

“Oh no say it isn’t so Kevin,” the auburn haired woman curled her lip in a pout. “Say that you haven’t gone and made a huge mistake handsome.”

“I’m afraid it’s true. He’s very taken unless of course he’s changed his mind about the woman he’s promised to marry in favor of something else,” Brant stepped forward having had enough with the distractions. They had a mission and in being on the island they had one goal in mind--finding Angela.

“Oh hey,” the brunette glanced over at Brant suddenly realizing that Kevin was no longer alone. “Who is your friend Kevin?”

“He’s not my friend,” Kevin mouthed tightly watching the brunette saunter over to Brant and tease her finger tips over his arm gingerly.

“He’s cute,” she purred offering her hand into the center of Brant’s chest, “I’m Nikki. And you are?”

“Also taken,” Brant replied barely registering a reaction from the woman who was clearly in the mood to find a bed partner for the night.

“Oh and who is your other friend,” the blonde questioned worming her way into the group and reaching out to Don. Immediately she reached out to him placing her hand on his strong waist. She batted her eyelashes up at him, “Hello blue eyes. Care to dance?”

“I um…” Don gulped looking down at the petite woman in front of him and finding himself thinking of a million and one reasons to say no.

“Look ladies we really have to go,” Kevin cleared his throat impatiently. “While we would all love to catch up, we simply can’t do it.”

“Can’t or won’t?” the auburn haired woman questioned stepping in closer to Kevin. She dropped her hand to his bottom again before giving him a small squeeze. Her green eyes sparkled with delight as she licked her lips in anticipation. “I mean I hear what you’re saying Kev, but I have no problems sharing you with another woman or with your friends or even mine for that matter.”

“Excuse me,” Don practically gulped in hearing the woman proposition Kevin.

“I’m not above a little group action. Kevin of all people should know that,” the woman continued in a sultry tone before nodding to the two women who had walked over with her. “Monique and Erica are over at the table with us too. The five of us could go back to your place and show the three of you why you should never leave the island ever again…”

“As tempting as that one is ladies we are going to have to pass,” Brant spoke up quickly shrugging the brunette woman away from him. “We’re looking for my fiancée and…”

“Kevin Adonis. Son of a bitch. Say it isn’t so,” a thunderous roar swept through the group causing the women to part away from the trio of men. Within a matter of seconds they were joined by an older woman that seemed to recognize Kevin. She embraced him in a tight bear hug before speaking up again, “How the hell are you?”

“I’m good Martha,” Kevin squeezed her in return as Don leaned in closer to whisper in Brant’s ear.

“If Kevin slept with her too I’m going to throw up,” Don mouthed with a wrinkled nose seeing Kevin lean in to kiss the woman on the cheek.

“So what brings you back to my neck of the woods?” she questioned curiously her eyes filled with a welcoming delight.

“We’re looking for Angie,” Kevin explained his smile fading as he thought of his reason for returning. “She’s gone missing.”

“What do you mean gone missing?” Martha frowned back at him. “How is that possible?”

“We’re not sure, but I think she’s upset. She might have returned here to get away for a while,” Kevin began as Martha’s gaze traveled out to the other two men with him.

“Why would she do that?” Martha questioned looking over to Kevin again.

“Because she’s been confused lately,” Kevin explained with a sigh before nodding to Brant. “Martha I’d like you to meet Brant.”

“Hi Brant,” Martha waved at him before giving him a long once over, “My aren’t you as cute as a button?”

“Um thank you I think,” Brant flashed her a small smile before reaching for her hand and placing a quick kiss on the top of her palm. “I’m honored to meet a beautiful woman such as yourself.”

“Oh a flatterer. I think I like you already,” Martha squealed in response giving Brant another once over. She leaned in towards Kevin and couldn’t help but laugh, “He might be a suck up, but he’s got a nice ass. I noticed it when he first walked in here.”

“Excuse me,” Brant blinked back at her in astonishment.

“Honey if you have it, flaunt it. That’s what I always say.” Martha waved her hand dismissively before turning to look at Don. “And speaking of a nice ass, where have you been all my life blue eyes?”

“Um…in Coral Valley,” Don replied with a small gulp feeling Martha walk over to give him a big hug. He couldn’t help but hug her back before throwing a pleading look over at Brant.

“Damn, what a shame,” Martha sighed once they’d parted. Don gave her a confused look before she nodded at his wedding ring. “The good ones are always taken.”

“Oh yeah,” Don laughed lightly holding up his ring finger. “My wife is a tyrant. She’s pretty jealous when other women get this close to me.”

“And with good reason sweet cheeks,” Martha winked at him before looking to Brant again, “though I don’t see a ring on your finger. Why the hell not?”

“Well I…” Brant started to explain matter of fact as Kevin moved forward.

“Remember that story Angie told us about that jackass that knocked her up and left her to take care of the kids all on her own?” Kevin scoffed with heavy distain.

“Yeah, I do,” Martha’s smile faded at the mention of Angela’s story. “Whatever happened to that son of a bitch?”

“You’re looking at him,” Kevin grumbled glaring over at Brant as Martha’s eyes widened.

“No kidding,” Martha looked over at Brant again before giving him a long once over. “Well, I can’t say I can blame Angie for wanting to shag you considering you’re a hot one, but what the hell is wrong with you in leaving her?”

“I didn’t leave her,” Brant corrected glaring over at Kevin. “She dumped me. Threw me out bare ass naked on the beach. Though I suppose I had it coming.”

“Now that I would believe,” Martha couldn’t help but laugh at his words. “Angie does have a tendency to react more than think things through.”

“Which explains why she and Brant are now engaged to be married,” Kevin muttered under his breath.

“No kidding,” Martha’s jaw dropped once again. She looked over at Brant before rushing forward and giving him a big bear hug. “Congratulations you lucky bastard. You have no idea how long Angela waited for something like this especially after she was married to my good for nothing son. When she told me about you, I promised I wouldn’t say a word to anyone, but deep down she always wished you were a keeper. She said you were married though.”

“I’m not and I wasn’t when we met,” Brant corrected remembering the misconceptions between him and Angela. “I’m single…well at least until I find her again.”

“And you say she ran off huh?” Martha scratched her chin lightly before shaking her head. “I can’t see why she would just up and leave a hot thing like you.”

“Trust me Martha. He isn’t all that hot,” Kevin interjected rolling his eyes once again.

“Speak for yourself honey,” Martha linked her arm in Brant’s and guided him over towards the bar area.

“I am,” Kevin grumbled once again.

“Let me just fix you boys up something to eat and we’ll get down to business,” Martha suggested ignoring Kevin’s remark as Don’s ears perked up.

“You just said the magic words Martha,” Don blurted out excitedly. “I’m starving after the flight.”

“Good because we have plenty to go around,” Martha explained brightly motioning for Don to follow her and Brant. She looked up at Brant again and started speaking in a rushed tone. “While I don’t know where Angie is I sure as hell can give you some hints to point you in the right direction since I know how long she’s waited to find you again in her life. I’m sure together we can come up with something.”

“Gee and to think you believed Angie didn’t think that Brant was worthwhile or that he mattered in her life like you did,” Don patted Kevin on the shoulder before stepping forward to follow Martha and Brant. “Score one for Brant.”

“We’ll see about that,” Kevin scowled in response clenching his fists at his sides as he watched Martha warm up to Brant. While Martha might be so willing to accept Brant’s place in Angie’s life, Kevin found himself more and more eager to push him right out of it especially after the attitude that Brant had been giving him lately. Still knowing full well that they would have to work as a team to find Angela again Kevin reluctantly followed hoping that his instincts would pay off and that they would find Angela sooner rather than later.


“I can see you’ve decided to ditch your better half for a while and spend some quality time with yours truly, eh?” Dean teased walking up to Shannon and offering her the cranberry juice that he’d picked up from the bar for her once he’d spotted her off by herself at the party.

“I’m going to kill him actually,” Shannon revealed accepting the drink and smiling over at him.

“Any particular reason?” he questioned casually lifting his drink to his lips and taking a small sip.

“Oh I don’t know it’s just so hard to pick just one,” she shrugged her shoulders at him and sighed. “I mean when I think about it, I just don’t know what irritates me more about considering that there are so many things that he does that I would like to strangle him for.”

“I take it given the mood that you’re in he’s off hiding,” Dean noted looking around the area once again.

“Actually he’s not here,” Shannon informed him with a heavy sigh. She took a small drink of her juice before explaining. “Brant had some personal crisis to attend to and naturally Don was the first person to jump up and down to help him out with it.”

“Why does that not surprise me,” Dean scratched his chin lightly before looking to her again, “So in other words Don is helping Brant and that’s put him in the doghouse once again.”

“He’ll be lucky if he winds up in the dog house,” Shannon remarked with a small sigh. “I mean I just don’t get why he thrives on being such a moron where his friend is concerned. You would think by now he would just get it into his head that Brant can take care of himself.”

“Well sometimes with friends it’s easier said than done,” Dean pointed out knowing full well how Shannon felt about her husband’s involvement with Brant and his latest round of issues. “I’m sure if Don felt it was important enough to go it was for a good cause.”

“Brant always leads him to believe that, but I still hate it,” Shannon frowned thinking about her husband’s retreat.

“Yet you didn’t argue that point,” Dean noted catching something behind her dark eyes. “What gives?”

“Brant’s girlfriend is missing and they don’t know what happened to her. Chances are she got smart and decided to dump Brant after learning what kind of dog he really is, but given that she’s pregnant, well it’s got both Don and Brant worried. Don’s her doctor.”

“Ah, so maybe your husband has some altruistic purposes in his retreat,” Dean spoke up in Don’s defense. “He’s trying to help save a patient and a friend.”

“My guess is she won’t turn out to need saving, but honestly I don’t want to think about it,” Shannon wrinkled her nose at the thought before turning to him again. “In all honesty I would much rather say hello to all the people that I need to and get out of here before boredom does me in.”

“At a party like this I can’t see how you could be bored,” Dean shook his head at her before smiling. “The fun, the fiesta and the music. Shannon I’m telling you that you need to lighten up a bit and enjoy yourself.”

“I think I’ll pass,” she groaned inwardly seeing people swinging around on the dance floor. “It’s not my scene.”

“All the more reason to make it your scene,” Dean teased with a small wink reaching for her hand and trying to coax her out onto the dance floor with him. “Come on. I know you’ll like it.”

“Don’t you have a girlfriend to go annoy?” she scoffed in response shaking her head in refusal to his suggestion.

“I can annoy her anytime, but right now I would rather annoy you,” Dean grinned at her widely ready to say something more when Shannon felt her pager go off. She reached for it in her purse and fumbled to seek out the number.

“At least,” she smiled brightly relief washing over her, “saved by the bell.”

“Party pooper,” Dean shook his head at her before feeling his pager go off as well. He took a look at the number as well before eyeing her curiously. “Tell me that’s not work.”

“It’s work,” she replied with a small frown. Nodding to his pager as well she couldn’t help but ask, “You too?”

“Yeah,” he nodded in response, “So tell me are you going to make the call or should I?”

“How about you give me your cell and we’ll kill two birds with one stone,” she suggested watching him comply with her request. He handed the phone to her and she dialed back getting the person that had paged them. “Special Agent Pryce here. Yes.”

Dean waited for a moment listening to her making one word responses to headquarters. After Shannon had alerted the person on the phone that she was in fact with Dean as well she finished up with one final comment.

“We’ll be there right away,” Shannon in formed the person on the other end of the line before meeting Dean’s curious eyes again. “We have to go to work.”

“I gathered that much,” Dean noted curiosity brewing over him. “I take it somehow suddenly you and I were both taken off the hit list here.”

“Only because they are short handed in these parts,” Shannon explained with a small frown, “but I guess it gets us back in the field again, which is a hell of a lot better than the alternative.”

“I won’t argue that,” Dean added remembering full well how bored he’d been once he’d been put under review and on suspension after his last case went horrible wrong. “So what’s the story this time?”

“There’s been a murder,” Shannon explained taking in a small breath, “and this one, well let’s just say it’s one that we need to look into as soon as possible.”


...to be continued...