Episode 412

Blake stretched out underneath the blankets, snaking her arm out to feel the warm, solid body beside her as it had been the previous evening. However, much to her dismay she found herself met by an empty side of the bed. Her blue eyes opened and a frown touched over her lips when she realized that although she’d expected the handsome man she was going to marry beside her all that remained was the pillow beside her.

“Seth?” she questioned lazily, a yawn touching over her lips as she tugged on the blanket, bringing it up with her. Searching around the room she brought her fingers through her long, blonde hair half expecting to hear the sounds of the shower running or at least have some other indication of where Seth was. Turning onto her side, she noted the time on the clock and frowned.

“Damn,” she cursed under her breath pushing the blanket away from her slender frame while dropping her feet down to the floor. She was late. Despite the fact that she and Seth had decided that they were going to take their time with each other the previous evening, she’d promised to meet up with a few workers at the community center and…

“Oh God, I’m so late,” she frowned rushing over to the closet and wondering if she had time to take a quick shower before she met up with those she’d scheduled a meeting with. It might be a tight squeeze, but…

“Hey, where are you going?” she heard Seth’s voice call out to her. She glanced over her shoulder and spotted him out of the corner of her eye holding a tray of various fruits and breakfast foods on it with two glasses of orange juice.

“Seth I’m late for a meeting,” she admitted feeling out of breath after the thought of her blunder began to consume her. “I was supposed to be there over an hour ago and…”

“And I think it’s okay for you to take a moment and relax,” Seth set the tray down on the bottom of the bed before making a casual stride over to her. He reached out to curl his arm around her slender waist before pulling her naked form into him. “I’m sure that they can wait a little bit longer for you.”

“Seth,” she sighed offering up a pleading look, “I have a responsibility to the center and to the people who have offered to help and…”

“Shh,” he whispered leaning down to silence her with a kiss, “Blake, it’s okay. I think that they will forgive you for being a little late.”

“Seth, I’m not a little late. I’m over an hour late,” she blurted out in a frenzy thinking about how bad that was going to look in her trying to make a name for herself. “This isn’t good at all.”

“Perhaps not, but given that you’re the one running the show, I’m sure that you’ll be forgiven,” his lips dipped down to taste the side of her neck leisurely while she couldn’t help but feel a shiver race over her at the feel of his smooth, bare skin against hers.

“Seth, I’m trying to prove myself,” she sighed tipping her head back as he placed kiss after lavish kiss over her skin. Her nails grazed his muscled back feeling the warmth of him beside her a greater temptation than she’d anticipated. On any other day she would’ve said to hell with her meeting and spent the morning in bed with him, but today was important. Today was something big for her and…

“You’ve already proven yourself to be more than worthy of your position Blake,” Seth whispered meeting her lips in another ravenous kiss. “Besides I have plans for us this morning.”

“Seth are you not hearing me? I told Mrs. Damon that I would be there at eleven thirty and…” she began to protest her words buzzing against his lips.

“Blake, it’s okay,” he gently pressed his palms over her curves dropping his fingertips to her hips. “It’s better than okay. You don’t need to worry.”

“Seth I’m late and,” she felt him place his finger over the center of her lips to silence her.

“Blake, she called earlier this morning and cancelled,” Seth informed her with a half smirk seeing realization flash behind her eyes.

“You mean you knew all this time that my meeting was cancelled and you let me panic?” she questioned with wide eyes before swatting at his chest lightly. “You jack ass. Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

“You wouldn’t let me get a word in edge wise,” he couldn’t help but laugh watching her take a step back, “So I was going to wait for the right opportunity.”

“You had me out of my mind worried to death that I would sound incompetent,” she frowned up at him, her long blonde hair shaking with the movement of her head. “Shame on you Seth!”

“I know. I wasn’t being very nice at all,” he moved his hand in over the center of his chest, “but maybe there is a way that I can make up for it.”

“I seriously doubt that.” she folded her arms in front of her bare chest, now suddenly aware of the chill in the air. When she’d been in bed naked it hadn’t phased her, but now that she was standing in the center of the room completely unclothed she realized there was a chill. Frowning she bent down and picked up the shirt she’d peeled off of Seth the previous night and wrapped herself in it. Given his height it came down past her knees as she kept it unbuttoned realizing that just having it on would be good enough. She tipped her head up and spotted the way that Seth watched her closely. His grin expanded as she played with the two sides of the shirt. Finally she couldn’t help but ask, “What?”

“I’m sorry,” he brought his hand up to touch the side of her face before moving in closer to her. “It’s just…well, you look so beautiful this morning.”

“More like a beautiful disaster,” she frowned knowing full well that she had to be anything, but sexy after she’d sprinted out of bed in a frenzy.

“Actually I don’t know if I’ve told you this or not before, but this is my favorite part of the day with you,” he stepped in closer to her, his palm pressing in beneath the fabric of her shirt to wrap his hand around her waist. He pulled her in closer to him, his dark eyes reaching out to hers. “I like when you first wake up and you are right in front of me like this without your makeup and your hair is just a bit wild. It’s ultra sexy.”

“Oh please,” she laughed lightly shaking her head at him, “Now I know you’re delirious this morning.”

“Not at all,” he shook his head and laughed again, “Blake, baby you look incredible just like this and I can’t imagine wanting to have you any other way…well, maybe naked would be a bit better of course but you still look hot in my shirt.”

“Naked?” she repeated giving him a strange look. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s this all about?”

“Can’t I tell you how sexy you are?” he questioned reaching for her hand and guiding her to walk with him over to the bed. Gently he nudged her in over on her side before offering up the tray of food. “I thought that we might share this morning together for a while and kind of ease into our day.”

“Okay,” she eyed him curiously, “It’s not that I don’t appreciate this Seth, but something seems off.”

“My wanting to pamper you seems off?” he questioned with mild amusement circling around to his side of the bed to move in beside her. He leaned in over her and extracted a strawberry from the bowl that lay over her lap. He dropped it between his lips and took a bite before offering her some. “I would think that you’d enjoy this.”

“I do, but..” she searched his eyes again for a long moment. “What is it that you’re not telling me?”

“What makes you think I’m not telling you something,” he teased with a playful wink.

“Seth, I’m serious,” she poked at his ribs again and he held his hands up in the air defensively.

“Okay, okay so maybe there is something that we need to talk about,” he divulged with a cryptic smirk before reaching for another berry and offering it up to her. “Here try some.”

“Seth what is it?” she asked feeling him slide the berry between her parted lips. She reluctantly took a small bite before speaking up with a mouthful. “Well?”

“Actually what I wanted to talk to you about is the reason why I’m up this morning,” he paused contemplating how he was going to break the news to her that he’d just received. “You see I got a phone call and…”

“Oh no don’t tell me something is wrong with Kevin,” she began worriedly thinking about what he could be keeping from her. “He didn’t go and do something stupid again or was it one of my brothers? Is Kenny in some kind of trouble that you’re trying to buffer me from?”

“No Blake,” he shook his head before reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “This has nothing to do with my family or yours--at least not really.”

“Okay, I’m lost,” she paused eyeing him for a long moment her blue eyes overcast with confusion. “Seth, what’s going on?”

“The truth is that this morning I got a phone call from Grady’s office. It turns out that before he left town he was having some papers sent over to me,” Seth paused feeling her tense up at the mention of the papers.

“Let me guess,” Blake curled her lip in a sudden frown, “Valerie has decided to keep being a pain in the ass, which means that the divorce proceedings are going to take even longer.”

“On the contrary,” Seth replied brightly unable to believe it himself as he shared the news with her, “She isn’t contesting it any longer. She’s signed the papers and it’s official…”

“Wait, what?” Blake’s eyes widened as she watched him closely. “Seth are you saying that…”

“That I’m a free man darling and as soon as you’re ready we can really do this,” Seth blurted out excitedly unable to contain the enthusiasm that carried over him. “We can get married anytime you want to.”

“Are you serious?” Blake questioned already getting her answer behind his eyes. “Oh my gosh. Seth do you have any idea what this means?”

“That we’re probably going to have to get working on moving up that ceremony to a closer possible date?” Seth laughed lightly watching her toy with the possibility of their wedding in her mind.

“Oh Seth this is perfect. In fact why should we wait for the wedding we were planning? If we’re really able to be married as soon as possible, then why not go for the gusto? I can just make a few phone calls and we can get married tonight,” Blake blurted out unable to quell her enthusiasm. “We can just have the big wedding later for everyone, but tonight you and I can get back to what we were going for the last time. You can call Kevin and…”

“Kevin’s out of town sweetheart,” Seth reminded her with a sigh, “He just left, remember?”

“Oh that’s right,” she sank back onto her pillows. “I forgot about that. Well, what about Ria? Is she still in town?”

“I think so,” Seth nodded in response watching the wheels turning in her head.

“Ok, so then you call her and I’ll talk to Sarah when I see her later. She is supposed to be meeting me at the center a little after two and…” Blake began excitedly pushing the tray off of her lap. She sprung off of the bed and moved around the room in a quick pace. “We can make a few calls to the chapel and…”

Seth couldn’t help but laugh as he leaned back on the pillows watching her rush around the room bubbling with energy. He brought his arms up over his head and kept his gaze on her.

“Gee, I’d imagine you’ve forgiven me for not telling you about your meeting being cancelled, eh?” Seth couldn’t help but laugh seeing her stop all movement. She turned to face him again before taking a running dive towards him onto the bed.

“You’re so forgiven and more,” she blurted out straddling his waist while placing frantic kisses over his face in an eager display. She wiggled over him, her fingers moving into his hair to bring him nearer to her. “I love you Seth. I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” he mouthed in response wrapping his arm around her waist in an attempt to still her enough so that he could kiss her. Their eyes met after they parted and he spoke up in a solemn voice, “Blake I’ve loved you since the first moment I met you and this is something that I’ve been wanting for us to have since day one.”

“And now you’re free,” she sighed touching his face lightly and smiling, “I just can’t believe it’s really happening.”

“I’m a divorced man,” Seth shrugged his shoulders and laughed lightly, “which means I’ve been on the market a few hours.”

“Which is more than plenty of time before you become a married man again,” she explained in an authoritative tone bending down to nibble on his lower lip. She traced his muscled shoulders, sliding her fingers down over his arms until a thought occurred to her. “Wait a second.”

“What?” he questioned lazily leaning up to seek out her lips again.

“Why did Valerie just agree to it?” she couldn’t help but question. “She’s been a huge pain in the ass since she arrived in Coral Valley, so why give up now? She thrived on making us miserable.”

“Chances are she got a new shoot in Europe that was more important or maybe she met someone with far more money than I had who offered her the world,” Seth shrugged his shoulders as he held onto her, “Does it really matter?”

“No not at all because all that’s important is that you’re mine and nothing is ever going to change that,” Blake leaned forward again, her body crushing into his in a clumsy movement. He tried to recover, but the blankets slid out beneath him causing the both of them to fall to the floor.

“Two minutes after talking marriage and you’re already trying to kill me,” Seth teased after he’d landed on the floor first, using his body to buffer her from taking any brunt of the fall. “Gee, maybe I should be afraid…”

“You don’t have anything to fear Seth except a life of happiness and good things around the corner,” she offered up in a muted tone, stretching out over him. Her fingers pressed into his muscled chest, massaging the warm contours before her hand tapered off over the top of his sweat pants.

“I think I can handle that one,” he mouthed in response feeling her long, blonde hair cascade over his shoulder while she pushed his sweatpants down over his hips. She readjusted herself over him carefully sliding the material down past his knees. He wiggled around a bit to help her by kicking them off completely before he pulled her in closer to him again. “I suppose this is the part where you decide you want to ravish me and tell me how thrilled you are that this is all yours now, eh? Maybe even give it another shot at building our family.”

“No Seth, this is the part where I give you my undivided attention and show you how important lust is in a relationship,” she explained dipping down to kiss him once again. She eased her tongue between his lips feeling him reciprocate as his arm wrapped around her soft curves. She reached for his hands and brought them in over her body before lifting them up over his head. She pushed them down onto the floor just above his head before her eyes met his again, “This time it’s got entirely nothing to do with our having a baby and everything to do with my wanting to have you.”

“So you’re staking your claim on your territory?” he questioned lazily, his eyes focusing on her ever so kissable lips.

“That’s right. This is where I show you a preview of the honeymoon giving you a taste of what married life has to offer,” she revealed nibbling on his mouth again before focusing on the side of his neck. She traced her tongue along his skin before kissing his earlobe and whispering. “This is where I give you all the reasons in the world to realize that you’re never going to want to be married to anyone other than me for the rest of your life.”

“Hmm, sounds like a pretty tall order,” Seth teased with a small smirk, “I don’t know if you’ll have time given that you wanted to get over to the community center for a while…”

“The community center can wait, but this can’t,” Blake replied with a low growl ready to stake her claim on the man who would undoubtedly be her husband before this day was over. That in itself was the greatest rush she’d ever known.


There were many things that Sarah wanted to do today. Things to get accomplished, things she needed to do. Things she wanted to get done. Like getting a divorce. Yeah right, that would never happen. The list was long but the goals were set too high and here she was at a donut shop. Not on the number one list, not even on the list--but somehow she was here. Maybe eating made her feel better when she was angry. Okay, well when she thought about it.

“I’m going to get fat,” she sighed looked over the donuts knowing that she had no reason to want to go home. Coming here was better than actually being at home and talking to Doug. They never really got much communicating done anyways. It seemed like life had taken it’s run and it didn’t even bother to stop and ask her what she wanted along the way. She had made plenty of mistakes that maybe weren’t the greatest thing in the world, but she was pretty sure that she should have been the one to decide what man she wanted in her life. “What do I want?"

That was actually a loaded question. While right now she was surveying the stand before her of donuts, she also thought about her life and really just what she wanted. With so many opportunities in life it was almost hard for a person to know how to choose. Such as the decision of the men in her life or what kind of place she wanted to take in their lives. What does she want?

“I don’t know,” she sighed to herself taking a step back realizing that it was almost weird a donut shop could get her into thinking about her life this much. Maybe it was because the lack of time she had to herself. She was either with Cameron or Douglas and really the two didn’t help as stress relievers. They made things worse sometimes, which they probably did on purpose most of the time but still it was a hard thing to handle. Most of her thinking got done at a donut shop--how weird would that be to tell most people? “Of course.”

“I know what you mean,” a voice pressed in behind her after a long second as she looked over her shoulder to see the light blue eyes of Andy behind her. A cocky smile was pressed over his features as she watched him step in next to her looking over the selections. “It’s hard sometimes to pick a kind you like. While the glazed is generic and good you can often go to your sweet side and pick chocolate frosted. I personally like the custard filled donuts but I see you as more of a…cinnamon sugar kind of gal or original?"

“Charming,” Sarah simply stared out at Andy after she knew he was trying to be cute somehow. She never really ran into a man that thought charming would be knowing something about donuts. That would have been the strangest flirt she had in a while. He was still smiling a big creepy smile and while some girls would have liked it--she thought it was absolutely creepy. “You know while I appreciate whatever it is that you are doing right now--you can just go away. I don’t know what you are trying to do.”

“I was trying to help you pick something out. You looked a bit distraught and I was trying to help out. I had no bad intentions in coming over to talk to you,” he tried to defend himself placing his right hand over his chest before taking in a long breath. “I was just simply trying to help.”

“Sure,” there was a bit of silence between them and instead of listening to anything he said she just ordered a few glazed to take with her and when she was done she turned to look at him seeing that his attention was still fully on her. “Now that I have my donuts--I no longer need your help. Let alone need you here to tell me what to get. So go find someone else to talk to.”

“Hey, I wasn’t being a stalker,” Andy followed Sarah toward the front of the shop stepping out of his place in line to reach for her hand to hold her back a bit. “I was just merely being nice. There should be nothing wrong with that. I was just starting to try and pick up some friendly conversation.”

“Well you got your donut information in and now I’m going to leave,” she went to head for the door only feel him keep a hold of her still not letting go of her wrist. It wasn’t a forceful grab, but it was tight enough to keep her by him. “What?"

“So how is Seth and Blake after Zack?" Andy eyed her over seeing the confusion behind Sarah’s dark eyes as he nodded slowly and finally let go of her wrist. “Are they doing good after the fight?"

“The fight?" Sarah looked out at Andy seeing him simply nod. It really didn’t give her any answers as to what was going on, but right now she knew that with the mention of the name of her best friend she needed to know what was going on. “What are you talking about?"

“Well I was just figuring after a fight about him…,” Andy looked over toward the corner of the room seeing that Zack was in the corner of the shop talking to someone. When he turned on his heel to face Sarah again he saw that she was walking over toward Zack unhappily. “Where are you going?"

“Away. You, come with me,” Sarah stepped up to Zack seeing the look the person gave her that he was talking to as she pulled him toward the door. She totally ignored Andy to get to Zack as she finally got him outside. “We need to talk. Listen, I don’t know what is going on lately, but you are going to stay away from Blake. Do you understand me?"

“Hey, I’m not doing anything that would be considered bad by most,” Zack tipped his head to the side amused that the biggest bitch in Coral Valley was actually standing up for someone. And he thought he’d seen everything. “Anyways--what are you going to do to make me stop seeing Blake? I’ll do what I want. No matter what you threaten me with.”

“You want threats?" she chuckled in return making sure that she had a good enough grip on the donuts under her left arm as she stared out at him. Reaching forward with her right hand she poked at his chest hearing him let out a small breath before rubbing at the place she roughly poked him. The skin was kind of tingling and he didn’t even expect something like that coming from her. Her dark eyes were full of rage and this was certainly not one of the things that he was expecting to see when he came to get some breakfast for himself. “You know, if you want a threat here is one here right now. In case you haven’t heard yet--Douglas Mahoney is my husband and if I need to I will make you disappear Zack. Don’t push me. He’s rich and powerful that he will have no problem making you vanish. No one would even look twice.”

“Listen little girl,” Zack stepped up toward her seeing the rage growing behind her eyes with his snap back and he knew that pushing her wouldn’t be the best idea with the exact information she just brought up. Douglas was her husband and that was one thing he wished that he could use against her, but he couldn’t. “You don’t scare me.”

“See, that’s where your first mistake is you jackass,” Sarah shoved her hand into his chest making him trip back again as his light eyes looked out at her. “If you make a few more I will make sure your life will be nothing but the past and it has an ending. It won’t be a good ending but I can promise you that. Leave Blake alone--or else.”

There was nothing more she wanted to say to him. Nothing more that she wanted him to say to her and with that last final word she turned on her heel and headed back away from this shop. It already caused her more stress than she was actually looking for. The day had turned into something completely new and even though Zack had some bite back to him she was hoping that her words would possibly get him to back off her best friend. She may have not cared about most people in the world, but Blake was the only one she was one hundred percent sure about in protecting. No matter what. No matter who she had to threaten. No one messed with her best friend and she was going to make that very clear for anyone who tried to step in the way of it.


“Open up,” Douglas groaned pounding his fist into the wooden door before him. This really wasn’t the place he wanted to be considering the thoughts of what his son would give him, but when he had nowhere else to get advice this was the only place he could go without getting his family in trouble. Kipp was the first person he could think about and while he didn’t like the idea of getting help from Kipp he knew that this was the one place he could go without getting someone to ask too many questions. Slamming his fist into the door a couple of more times he finally felt it open and he stumbled forward a bit seeing the glance that his son was giving him as he allowed himself in. “We really need to talk.”

“What is someone coming after you to kill you or something? That’s the impression I got by the way you were banging on my door,” Kipp half scowled looking over his father before shutting the door and stepping in closer Douglas who was pacing back and forth before him. “Can I help you with something because I was kind of in between things right now.”

“Well we need to talk, no exceptions,” Douglas finally stopped pacing holding his hands up in the air as he spoke. Kipp watched him as he went to speak and then stopped before starting. Pacing once more. “Where is Kellen? I thought he would be here with you. I like talking to him. He‘s a good kid.”

“Heather isn’t here so he is watching over things for her and yeah--he is a really great person,” Kipp watched Douglas move over toward the couch to the right of them taking a seat. He could tell Douglas was in a panic and it was having his own mind in circles. He had never seen his father like this. In this much panic. Doing things that he had never once see him do. “For some reason I don’t think you came here to talk to Kellen about something unless you had some type of fashion problem and I’ve yet to see you get this upset over a suit--so…why are you really here?"

“Well…,” Douglas began looking up while Kipp’s dark eyes surveyed him almost trying to figure out what was going on inside of his mind. When he got that call--he didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what to do and now that he was here he knew he had to bring it up. It would be a terrible thing for him to just show up and then leave in the state he was in. While he and Kipp had never really gotten along as well as some parents do with their children he knew that Kipp would care enough to not let him leave. He was a pain sometimes, but maybe this time it was a good thing. “You’re a lawyer. I need your opinion on something.”

“Okay, that’s interesting you coming to me for advice. Don’t you have a few of your own that can help you out of whatever kind of situation you are in right now?" Kipp questioned and knowing by the look on Douglas’s face something was really wrong. Sitting across from him he spoke up in a long sigh before rubbing his hands together. “Douglas, you have to tell me what’s going on. I can’t help unless you speak. This mumbling about things here and there are going to get us nowhere. You have to talk to me and tell me what’s wrong.”

“It’s about something that someone called me about. It was somewhat of a threat that I don’t know what I should do about. What would you think if someone called you and said something about your son being with someone he shouldn’t be. A pay off so to speak to keep mouths shut,” Douglas came out mumbled as Kipp stared out at him almost blankly. Like he was trying to understand but nothing came out right for him.

Kipp frowned feeling a chill creep in over him. "What is this some kind of joke?"

"No I'm not joking," Douglas shook his head. "Far from it."

"So what's the deal? Did you come over here to rub it in my face how I screwed up once and..." Kipp began defensively catching the air that his father had about him.

"No, Kipp it's not about you," Douglas informed him point blank. "It's not even remotely close to being about that. Well, it's like that I suppose, but it's not really about then. It's about what's happening in the here and now."

"And just what might that be?" Kipp arched a suspicious brow.

"It's about...well, it's complicated and," Douglas struggled to find the right words. “I don’t know how to put this.”

“Well if you can’t come up with something Doug, I don’t know what to tell you because I’m busy and I have to get things done,” Kipp informed him knowing that he had a whole load of work he could be doing. “What did you do now Doug? That’s all I need to know. We need to get this talking over with so we can come up with some sort of agreement on what’s going on.”

“I didn’t do anything Kipp, it’s your brother. JT,” Douglas explained thinking about the conversation he shared with the mysterious male the other night and he sighed leaning forward in his chair before speaking up again. “You see…”

“Listen--I don’t want to hear it. I don’t need to hear it,” Kipp stood up from where he was sitting throwing his hands up in the air shaking his head in a slow motion. “I’m not going to go and do something for JT. We’ve never been close--never will be. He has to bail himself out of this one.”

“Kipp, I wouldn’t here if this didn’t mean something. There is no other way I would be here unless it was very important. There is a situation that has come up and I need your help or else I might be doing something that will make me break the law and you don’t want me doing that,” Douglas began seeing Kipp slowly lowering himself in his seat while he listened to Douglas speak. He continued on knowing what he was saying was working for Kipp. “You don’t want that Kipp, do you?"

“Tell me what’s wrong,” Kipp frowned knowing that while he hadn’t had a good relationship with JT--ever. He didn’t need his father going to jail for something his brother did. He still cared somewhat for his father. Somewhat.


“So I was thinking tonight maybe we’d explore the world of real excitement out there and delve into the world of crossword puzzles together,” JT suggested holding up the books that he’d picked up for a dollar at the local market. “What do you say?”

“This is a shining example of why you need cable,” Evie couldn’t help but laugh as she set down the kitten she’d been playing with moments earlier. “At least a satellite dish or something. Maybe some Tivo.”

“I don’t have a television set in this place,” JT motioned to their less than pristine surroundings, “so I think Tivo is out of the question for the moment.”

“For now,” she shrugged giving the room she was seated in another once over. “At least tell me that you bought some interesting crossword puzzle books.”

“Funny that you asked because I do happen to have two incredible books here with me. One is about pop culture, which includes sports, movies, music and television, while the other is about a little bit of everything,” he held one book with a purple cover up in front of him before smiling. “The choice is yours.”

“Hmm, well since you put it that way,” she stepped forward seeing the blue book he held in his other hand, “how about we bypass the crossword puzzles altogether and focus on building a mystery of our own--or rather a romance.”

“Romance,” JT scratched his chin lightly, playing into her request with mild amusement, “well, truth be told I’m a bit more of a comedy man myself.”

“How about a romantic comedy?” she wiggled her brow suggestively as her arms snaked around his shoulders. “Those can always be fun.”

“Considering our mishaps with one another in the past,” JT draped his arms around her slender waist, “we should probably simply stick to the crossword puzzles.”

“Chicken?” she wiggled her brow at him suggestively.

“Not in the least,” he shook his head firmly, “but rather I know my limits and well let’s think about this. We’ve nearly set ourselves on fire during the fireworks. Come to think about it we’ve had just about everything short of a natural disaster try to ruin the moment for us.”

“Don’t say that,” she warned with a small frown when the first hint of thunder rumbled beyond where they stood with one another. She practically leapt out of her skin as she looked up at him worriedly, “Did you hear that?”

“It sounds like we’re tempting fate,” he laughed lightly only to feel her swat him on the shoulder.

“That’s not funny JT,” she replied worriedly as another sound rose from outdoors. At first it was a low, muted rumble, but seconds later it became a full blown crash causing her to jump. “Oh God, that sounds like trouble.”

“It’s just a thunderstorm,” JT explained seeing her tense up before him, “It’s not really a jinx or anything brought on by our teasing because we knew it was raining.”

“Rain I can deal with but this,” Evie heard another boom overhead and she shrieked, “JT, we shouldn’t be here. We aren’t going go be able to survive this if it crashes over here…”

“It’s just thunder,” JT replied seeing a flicker of light beyond where they were in the small beach house, “and lightening.”

“See I told you that it was coming after us,” she panicked bringing her fingers up through her dark hair. She sucked in a sharp breath followed by another as her pulse pounded inside of her. “JT, we aren’t safe here. We’re by the water and…”

“Trust me it’s okay,” he reached out to her only to feel her swat at his hands to keep him away.

“No it’s not. Do you have any idea how many people die in tropical storms each year?” she questioned biting back the tears that threatened to overtake her. “Why oh why did I think that our coming out here was a good idea when I knew full well that there was always a possibility that we could get stuck in something like this when…?”

“Evie relax,” JT reached for her once again, “It’s going to pass.”

“When? After it blows this place over in it’s fury?” she questioned abrasively, her brown eyes divided by terror. She searched around the room seeking out some kind of shelter. “You don’t even have anywhere for us to take cover. It’s just this room, then the bathroom or the bedroom, which doesn’t really even have much of a closet for…”

“Honey, listen to me,” JT moved forward taking her hand in his, “everything is going to be okay.”

“No, it’s not JT. It’s not okay at all. I can’t deal with storms. I can’t be trapped in this when,” she turned away from him, her eyes darting over towards the door, “I can’t be in here. I have to find somewhere else that…”

“What are you doing?” he questioned seeing her sprint over to the door and unlock it. Within a matter of moments it swung open with a loud force behind it as Evie rushed out onto the beach. Frowning JT followed.

“Evie, what are you doing?” he questioned spotting her running away from the beach house in a frantic sprint.

“I can’t stay in there and let it fall on top of us,” she explained in a labored breath as she continued to rush away from the house. She was about fifteen feet from the front door when her footing gave out and she tripped over a wet pile of sand going down face first.

“Evie!” JT shouted her name as he raced over to her only to discover her buried in the sand beneath her.

Another flash of lightening zipped down cutting through the darkened sky as he leaned forward to scoop her up in his arms. Thunder rolled and she shuddered, burying her head in his chest as she broke into tiny sobs. He hugged her closer to him, hearing the winds pick up as he looked around the beach seeing the darkness that surrounded them.

“I can’t be in there JT,” Evie pleaded with him desperately as he returned to the beach house. “It’s going to fall apart and…”

“Right now it’s the safest place for us both,” he explained with a seriousness in his tone. “Your racing across the beach is going to get you killed.”

“I can’t let the house fall on us just because…” she pleaded as he wiped the sand away from her cheek.

“Trust me this might not look like much, but it’s got a very sturdy foundation,” JT informed her as a wind whipped past him nearly knocking him over as the rain pelted down upon them.

“JT, I can’t…” she started again as the rain showered over them.

“Honey as much as I’d like to argue this point with you, we’re going back inside even if it means I have to tie you down to get you to relax long enough for the storm to pass,” he decided firmly. He lead a protesting Evie back into the tiny beach house in the hopes that once the storm was over and gone she’d realize that he was right about what was best for them even if she hated him for trying to point that out to her.


“How much further is it Kevin?” Brant questioned impatiently seeing the muddy road ahead of them. He glanced over at Kevin, who was unusually quiet while the wipers on the car pushed away the beginnings of the rainstorm. “This island couldn’t possibly be that huge could it? Kevin?”

“Huh?” Kevin blinked back at him coming out of the trance that had consumed him from the moment they’d left Cameron’s beach house. While it wasn’t so much the rain that was getting to him, but rather the thunder overhead, Kevin found that he couldn’t stay focused. Taking in a breath he spoke up again, “What did you say Brant?”

“I asked how much further it was,” Brant replied impatiently hearing another sound of thunder overhead. He watched lightening flash across the sky near the water and it was then that he felt the car swerve a bit.

“Oh shit…” Kevin gulped as Brant looked over at him a bit confused.

“What’s wrong? Was there something in the road?” Brant questioned seeing Kevin’s knuckles turning white as he clenched onto the steering wheel tightly. “Kevin, what was it?”

“It’s nothing. It’s just that…” Kevin paused watching the winds pick up whipping the branches on the palm trees around with it’s violent force. He bit down on his thoughts and felt the car try to move with the fluid sweep of air that pressed over them.

“Just what?” Don questioned popping his head forward from the backseat. “This place that we’re going to isn’t off the road is it?”

“No,” Kevin replied trying to stay focused. “It’s just a mile or so up the road, near the incline and…”

“And what?” Brant asked seeing Kevin drifting off again to somewhere else. The car swerved to the left more than Brant had anticipated then Kevin gripped the wheel tighter and it zipped to the right near a ditch. “Kevin, what are you doing?”

“I don’t like storms. I never have,” Kevin watched lightening crackle overhead coming down in the road about twenty feet in front of them. He slammed his foot down on the brakes causing the car to spin in a circle now that the muddy terrain had washed out most of the solid road.

“Kevin what are you doing?” Brant questioned placing his hand on the side of the door while the car continued to circle around the road with no ending seemingly in sight.

“Hold on,” Kevin instructed trying to regain control of the car.

“We’re going to die, aren’t we?” Don couldn’t help but ask raising his voice to a high pitched sound when he realized that they were headed right towards a fallen tree near the side of the road. He brought his hand up to cover his eyes and gulped. “I’m too young to die. I have my whole life ahead of me and…”

“Shut up Don,” Brant snapped realizing that Kevin sounded like he was whimpering as he kept his hold on the wheel. Leaning to the side Brant grabbed the wheel right before Kevin released it and pushed his own hands up over his eyes.

“I’m sorry. I can’t handle this. I can’t…” Kevin started to hyperventilate as Don continued to shriek in the backseat.

“Kevin, you have to help me here. You have to…” Brant’s dark eyes widened as he noticed the tree in front of them approaching faster by the second. “Kevin the brakes! Kevin!”

“Oh right,” Kevin gasped struggling to catch his breath as the car picked up momentum and continued to chart towards the tree at a rapid pace.

“Kevin now!” Brant shouted at him snapping Kevin out of his panic attack long enough to cause Kevin to slam on the brakes. The truck screeched and sputtered and soon they found themselves caught up in a heavy ditch on the side of the road.

“Is everyone alright?” Don’s voice questioned from the backseat as he patted himself down. He held his hands up and counted his own fingers letting out a breath of relief after the impact. “Brant?”

“I’m fine,” Brant nodded feeling an ache in his neck after the impact had jolted him, but he knew that he’d live. Looking over at Kevin, he realized that the normally intimidating man was crouched over as far to the door as possible with his hands up over his head. “Kevin are you okay?”

“No,” Kevin shook his head refusing to look at Brant, “I’m not okay. I’m not okay at all.”

“Are you hurt? What’s wrong?” Brant asked again as Don leaned forward ready to help out. “Did you get hit in the collision?”

“No, it’s not that,” Kevin gulped tipping his head up to reveal frightened eyes. “I really don’t like storms.”

“Yeah I kind of figured but…” Brant started again.

“No, you don’t understand. When I was younger I was caught in this storm and…” Kevin heard thunder again and practically leapt out of his seat with his seatbelt on. It pushed him back into the seat as his breathing began to increase in frequency. His brown eyes widened and he pointed to the road ahead of him before covering his head again. “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t…”

“Kevin get a grip. We need to find Angela and…” Brant reached out to him grabbing his collar with a frown. “This is ridiculous.”

“No, it’s not. I hate storms and especially when they get like this. When they…” Kevin continued in between heavy gasps. “I just…just…can’t…”

“Kevin snap out of it! Kevin,” Brant lashed out at him trying to get Kevin to focus as the winds roared around the Jeep. He waved his hand around in the air as Kevin looked to the lightening beyond where they were.

“Brant I…” Kevin’s eyes crossed before he doubled over, his head falling flat onto the steering wheel and causing the horn to go off.

“Did he just pass out?” Don couldn’t help but ask watching Brant poke at Kevin in an attempt to get his attention again.

“He couldn’t have. I don’t believe that he would freak out like this over a little rain and…” Brant nudged at Kevin again only to discover that Kevin had in fact passed out. “I don’t believe this. This cannot be happening.”

“It does happen when a person hyperventilates at times,” Don offered up his opinion. “If Kevin’s really as afraid of storms as he appears to be, then…”

“Not now Don,” Brant pushed Kevin back into the seat. Leaning in closer to him he started to shake Kevin, with no avail. Finally he brought his hand up and slapped the side of Kevin’s face to awaken him.

“Kevin you have to tell me where the place is. I need to know where to go!” Brant shouted at him hoping to rouse Kevin from his fainting spell. “You have to tell me where I can find her! Kevin!”

“Brant I don’t think he’s getting up,” Don replied with a worried tone seeing his friend getting upset. “If we just give him a minute…”

“I don’t have a minute,” Brant finally decided with a groan. He looked to the storm raging out beyond the car and let out a sigh, “I have to go find her.”

“Brant…wait you can’t just…” Don watched Brant push open the door to the car and begin to step out.

“Tell Sleeping Beauty when he wakes up I’m off saving the woman I love,” Brant suggested before walking out of the car and moving down the muddy road in a jog hoping to get to Angela before it was too late. Regardless of what had just happened he knew he had to get to her with or without Kevin if it meant saving her from danger!


“Did you get a hold of Kevin?” Avery asked Russ after the group returned to the hotel room once brunch was over. She looked to him with a worried expression before speaking up again, “Well?”

“Still nothing,” Russ hung up the phone and shrugged. “Maybe Kevin is out of range with his cell phone.”

“Or maybe he’s in some kind of trouble,” Avery offered up thinking about what Heather had told them about Craven. “It’s possible that the guy Heather saw downstairs was the same man who had hurt Kevin all those years ago.”

“He didn’t seem like anything special to me,” Kyle noted joining in on their conversation once Elliot and Cheryl had said their goodbyes to the group.

“He wasn’t even worth a second glance,” Heather piped in with a small shrug before rethinking it again, “Then again maybe he wasn’t worth a first either considering the situation. Either way he couldn’t have taken Kevin though. I’m sure of that.”

“From what Kevin told me the man was dangerous. Also just because someone doesn’t look threatening doesn’t mean they aren’t. Take Bruce for example,” Avery pointed out looking between Russ and Kyle. “No one thought that he was some kind of serial killer, but look how that turned out.”

“Come on Avery. Not everyone is a serial killer,” Heather shook her head at Avery’s line of reasoning.

“No she’s got a point there,” Kyle added contemplating what Avery was saying to them. “If this guy could be trouble, then perhaps there is something more going on than we realize.”

“I should go see if he’s at his place,” Russ announced thinking about his time on the island. “I know my way around here pretty well and if Kevin’s at home, then I can just check in and make sure that all is okay. I mean it‘s really no big deal. I can just pop over and let him know he‘s scaring the life out of you Avery and tell him to call.”

“It’s not that he’s scaring the life out of me, but it’s just that I have this feeling,” she revealed feeling a tiny shiver carry over her. “I just can’t shake it.”

“Then I’ll go check in on him. You can just stay here with my parents and Erin while I’m gone,” Russ suggested leaning in to kiss the top of her head gently. “It shouldn’t be long.”

“I’ll go with you,” Kyle offered without hesitation, “since there’s no reason why you would need to go alone.”

“But Kyle I thought that we….” Heather began with a frown not liking the idea of her husband running off after some kind of lunatic if there was in fact trouble.

“It won’t take long,” Kyle promised moving in to give Heather a small kiss. “Russ just shouldn’t be alone since the last time he went to go check something out on his own we had major problems.”

“I don’t think this is exactly the same situation,” Heather replied in a muted tone. “Russ isn’t chasing after Bruce Mathis this time.”

“Even so I would feel better if he wasn’t alone. I owe him that much to keep an eye on him,” Kyle whispered in response glancing over at Russ and Avery as they talked about his going to look for Kevin. “Besides it might give you a chance to play nice with Avery.”

“I’m not going to play nice with Avery,” Heather spat back at him clenching her fists at her sides. “I’ve been civil for you, but we’re not going to become best friends while you’re gone. Hell, I’m going with you.”

“No you’re going to stay here with her until we return. It won’t kill you,” Kyle touched the side of her face gently, “Heather please I need you to do me this favor.”

“What if I say no?” she stomped her foot down before glaring over at Avery. She turned her focus to Kyle again before speaking up, “I really, really don’t want to be around her.”

“I know, but I am also aware of the fact that you love me and if for no other reason, you’ll help me out here,” he bent down to offer up a quick kiss. “Please Heather.”

“That’s emotional blackmail and you know it,” Heather bit back on her words before shaking her head at him. “I hate that I love you so much Houston.”

“No you don’t,” he winked down at her stealing another kiss before turning to Russ, “So tell me is Kevin’s place far from here?”

“No, it’s about a mile away at best,” Russ explained thinking about his friend. “We should be able to get over there and back in a few minutes.”

“Just be careful. I don’t want anything happening to you. If there’s any sign of danger, promise me that you’ll call the island police,” Avery touched Russell’s shoulder gently. “Swear that you won’t get in the thick of it.”

“I promise you that I won’t,” Russ curled his arm around her pulling her into his chest. He reached out to slide his fingers through her long, dark hair before meeting her concerned eyes. “We have far too much ahead of us for the weekend for me to wind up doing something that foolish.”

“Just remember that,” she poked at his chest again before tipping up on her toes to steal a kiss from him, “Russ I love you honey.”

“I love you too and I swear to you nothing is going to stop me from making you my wife all over again this weekend,” he assured her with one, last, lingering kiss before stepping aside. He nodded towards Kyle, “You ready?”

“Sure, let’s go,” Kyle nodded in response while turning to Heather with a small warning. “Behave.”

“Only if she does,” Heather bit back in a tight whisper as Russ and Kyle left the hotel room putting her in a position that was pretty close to one of the last places she ever wanted to be in. Now as she and Avery glared at one another she had a feeling that it was going to be a very long day indeed!


“Hello sexy,” a voice pressed in behind Seth as he worked at his station and a small shadow made him turn toward the side to see the tall man that had been beckoning him from behind. “How is it going today? By the looks of things--pretty hot.”

“You are nasty Kellen,” Seth laughed bringing the back of his hand into Kellen’s chest as Kellen moved up behind him eyeing over the things that Seth had laid out and he clapped his hands together looking them over. “Why don’t you stick to the flirting with my cousin.”

“Because I’m afraid of Kevin Adonis. He has one hell of a body that I don‘t mind staring at from afar, but I know sometimes if he catches me gazing I‘m afraid just what he can do to me with his body. You, you don‘t scare me as much,” Kellen informed him with a small smirk pushing through a few photos outlining them before turning to look back at Seth again who was obviously still laughing at him. “Very nice.”

“Thank you,” Seth shook his head slowly moving forward to pick up a few of the pieces of his work and he took in a long breath. “You know maybe I should stop being so nice. Everyone is afraid of Kevin and yet I’m the tender heart that no one is afraid of. By the way also--please never talk about my cousin’s body around me. He’s my cousin and that’s kind of sick.”

“Hey, he can’t help it if he’s sexy. Not that I’m saying you’re not because you’re cute yourself, but…yeah, I’m just going to stop right there for you,” Kellen laughed seeing Seth wrinkle his nose at the thought and a smile pressed in over Kellen’s young features while he looked through things. Kellen’s blue eyes glanced over at him before clearing his throat. “I think you need to stay nice though, that makes you who you are. It makes you a perfect guy.”

“Thank you, now onto something that doesn’t have to deal with this,” Seth chuckled seeing Kellen smirk before helping him pick up a few things. He finished putting things away before giving Kellen his full attention. “So what brings you here?"

“I’m actually here to check on things while Heather isn’t here and Kipp’s father is with him, so that’s why I’m here,” Kellen explained folding his arms out in front of his chest before looking around knowing that everything would be okay and maybe there should be no reason for him to be here, but he had nothing better to do with his time. He was bored without his best friend around him and he was willing to do anything to get out and try to make the best with his time. “I’m actually quite bored.”

“Well I have a few more things to do around here so if you want to talk as long as you don’t mind me working I’d love company,” Seth was trying to be nice to Kellen knowing that obviously he was missing his friend. Putting a few more things together he looked over his shoulder at Kellen’s face seeing him thinking. “What’s on your mind?"

“Truthfully?" Kellen motioned toward Seth to make sure he wanted to hear his complaint and Kellen took in a long breath seeing Seth nod slowly. “I was thinking about Sarah marrying Douglas and I just was thinking about how much I hate her. That’s really what I was thinking.”

“You know…sometimes--she’s not that bad,” Seth pointed out seeing the look that Kellen gave him and the look was enough to make anyone laugh. He held his hands up in the air motioning Kellen to give him a minute to explain what he meant. “I can respect her for caring about Blake and I know she has done a lot of things wrong, but I do like the fact that she protects my fiancée.”

“Well okay, I can understand that,” Kellen agreed moving over toward the counter and pulled himself up on it taking a seat while he watched Seth. “Though, that’s like the one thing she does right is be her friend. Everything else seems like it’s distant and just shows how much of a bitch she is. I can see where you are coming from though.”

“She might be a decent person, it might just be hard to see sometimes,” Seth insisted looking back to see Kellen wrinkle his nose and roll his eyes.

“No offense to you Seth, but never in this lifetime will she be considered a decent person,” Kellen made a noise of disgust before hearing Seth laugh again. “I really keep thinking that she is up to something like her marrying Douglas was some kind of play.”

“Hey,” Seth turned on his heel wiping his hands off on the hand towel he had before shaking his head slowly. “You have nothing to worry about Kellen because I’m sure there is nothing going on that she is planning for.”

“Yeah well, I wouldn’t be so sure,” Kellen informed him with a deep sigh knowing that everything Sarah did was just not by chance. She did it to somehow get a better advantage at things to make sure she got what she wanted and that’s what she always did. Something was on her mind and he knew it. Whatever it was he was never going to let he get away with it.


“Tell me again what it was exactly that possessed you to believe that Zack Vaughn was someone that you actually believed you could fall in love with,” Sarah couldn’t help but throw back at Blake with a small frown. “I mean don’t get me wrong I know this is an awkward subject, but each and every time I see that man I can’t help but wonder why in the world you ever thought that he was someone that you would want to be with.”

“I was young and stupid,” Blake shrugged her shoulders, “but I suppose that’s not really a good enough excuse.”

“Hey it works for me,” Sarah shrugged opting not to keep dwelling on the pain in the butt that Blake was once involved with. “I’m just happy that you finally found a real man in your life now Blake.”

“So am I,” Blake admitted with a cryptic smirk, “Seth is all the man I could’ve asked for and more.”

“I know that look,” Sarah noted with a smile. “Something tells me that the reason you were late coming over here has entirely everything to do with exploring just what a man Seth truly is.”

“I’m not saying anything,” Blake’s grin expanded, “but I will tell you that life before Seth wasn’t at all what it should’ve been. He’s opened my eyes to just how amazing it feels when you find that special someone that you want to share forever with.”

“It’ll happen for you too one day Blake,” Sarah spoke up encouragingly.

“Oh I’m positive that it will,” Blake couldn’t help but add, “although right now I want to pause on this particular subject for a moment so that we can skip onto something a bit more controversial.”

“Such as?” Sarah arched a curious brow.

“You and Douglas Mahoney,” Blake blurted out with an inquisitive expression on her face. “I want details.”

“They aren’t at all that interesting,” Sarah shrugged her shoulders. “It’s more of a painful technicality brought on by an unfortunate situation, but I’m dealing with it.”

“Is that right?” Blake mouthed giving her a long look.

“Of course it is,” Sarah nodded. “I mean sure I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, but this one is a chart topper. You don’t have to tell me twice because I already see that I need to work on changing it.”

“No, I’m not buying that,” Blake admitted honestly. “I mean I know you Sarah.”

“Which is all the more reason that I’m sure you realize that I made a huge mistake,” Sarah continued on with an outward groan.

“No, that’s not it at all. I know you well enough to realize that you wouldn’t just up and marry some man that you loathed on a whim,” Blake added searching Sarah’s features.

“You’d be surprised,” Sarah let out an ironic laugh. “In case you haven’t noticed I’m not always the smartest about the men in my life.”

“Maybe, but this time it’s different,” Blake continued on giving her friend a long look. “This time I don’t see the repulsion that you’re trying to convey.”

“I’m suppressing it for the sake of keeping myself from going mad,” Sarah laughed lightly. “I’m getting pretty good at pretending though, huh?”

“I don’t think it’s pretend at all,” Blake pushed the issue further. “I mean sure maybe it wasn’t at all what you were looking for, but you have this glow about you.”

“It’s the lighting in here Blake,” Sarah motioned to the overhead fixture, “which is kind of bright now that you mention it.”

“Nope that’s not it either,” Blake shook her head adamantly, “In fact I think that you happen to look like you’re trying to convince yourself more than me that you are hating being Mrs. Douglas Mahoney.”

“I do hate being Mrs. Douglas Mahoney,” Sarah insisted, “almost as much as I hate Douglas Mahoney himself.”

“See now I might’ve believed that a few months ago, but not now,” Blake leaned up against the desk to watch her friend with heavy scrutiny. “Something’s definitely changed with you and it’s something that hasn’t been there since you and Kyle were together.”

“Blake honestly…” Sarah frowned over at her.

“I’m guessing that even though you’re telling me that you despise your husband that you actually might on some level enjoy his company,” Blake noted with a smirk. “Hell, you might even like him somewhat.”

“Not a chance,” Sarah shook her head adamantly. “He isn’t at all my type.”

“All the more reason why you’re intrigued,” Blake laughed lightly as the phone on her desk rang.

“Not even close,” Sarah protested watching Blake pick up the receiver.

“Liar,” Blake laughed as she spoke into the phone, “Hello.”

“Trust me I don’t like him,” Sarah mouthed more so to herself than anything as Blake hung up the phone. “Who was that?”

“They hung up,” Blake shrugged her shoulders, “and yes, you do like him.”

“Blake trust me I don’t at all…” Sarah began to protest as the phone rang again.

“You do, but hold that thought,” Blake reached for the phone again. “Hello.”

A moment later a frown creased over Blake’s lips as she set the phone down on the base again.

“We’re not even open yet and we’re getting a heavy breather on the line,” Blake explained with a wrinkled expression as the phone rang again.

“Maybe it’s Seth anticipating your returning home again,” Sarah wiggled her brow suggestively as Blake reached for the phone.

“I seriously doubt that,” Blake mouthed in response as Sarah pulled the phone out of Blake’s hand.
“Let me give it a try,” Sarah suggested bringing the phone up to her ear. “Hello.”

Again as Blake said there was a breathing sound and then a click indicating that the caller had hung up once more.

“I told you someone is playing phone games,” Blake offered up as Sarah hung up the phone.

“It’s probably a bored teen that realized they are getting someone after they pulled numbers together,” Sarah shrugged her shoulders. “I wouldn’t worry about it. In fact, now that I think about it, how about we let voice mail pick it up next time so you can see how well that system is working.”

“Sounds good,” Blake agreed, “and then we can get back to the things we talked about yesterday in putting the offices together.”

“As long as we agree to steer clear of the topic of my husband,” Sarah decided with a warning glance.

“Nope, it’s not going to happen, but trust me that’s a good thing,” Blake spoke up encouragingly as she and Sarah headed towards the door. They were halfway in the hallway when the phone rang again.

Blake paused, “Maybe I should answer that.”

“Nah, let it go into voicemail like I suggested since we have work to do that doesn‘t involve talking about my husband,” Sarah encouraged her on further as the two left the offices to go into another one of the areas of the community center ready to work on putting things together for the center’s impending opening.


Avery paced around the room looking at the clock once again. She’d put Erin down for a nap and hoped that by the time she’d finished settling Erin in that Russ would have returned and she wouldn’t have to face the inevitable moment of being alone with Heather, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. When she stepped out into the sitting area of her hotel room she found Heather over by the mini bar pouring herself a drink. Frowning Avery moved forward to just get the whole miserable moment over with in faking pleasantries with Heather.

“You know I hardly imagine that Kyle would want you to get drunk right now,” Avery mouthed with a dry tone seeing Heather raising the glass to her lips.

“How else would he expect me to get through spending any amount of time with you?” Heather shot back icily taking the first sip of her drink. She glared over at Avery before setting the glass down on the bar again and refilling it to the top.

“You could always go back to your own hotel room. I don’t need a babysitter,” Avery explained folding her arms in front of her chest while her irritation level began to rise.

“Kyle asked me to stay,” Heather lifted her glass again before rethinking the drink she’d poured. She set the glass back down on the countertop before eyeing Avery intently.

“I can tell him that I forced you to leave, then I would be the bad guy in this situation, which for you I’m sure isn’t much of a stretch,” Avery noted with a frown. She moved across the room to pick up a few of Erin’s toys that she’d left out after she’d spent time with her daughter.

“Kyle wouldn’t believe that and neither would Russ since they both know how stubborn I am about things. Plus I would never, ever listen to a thing you had to say, so again that wouldn’t work,” Heather informed Avery with a heavy sigh. She circled around the bar leaving her glass on top of it. “So I guess this means that we’re stuck with one another.”

“Wonderful,” Avery grumbled under her breath. She placed Erin’s toys in one of the bags she’d had before moving in to take a seat on one of the chairs. Looking at the clock again Avery tapped her foot impatiently.

“Look I don’t like this any more than you do, but we can’t really argue this point, now can we?” Heather moved over to drop down in one of the other chairs in the room. “Like it or not I guess we’re stuck here.”

“I never thought I would live to see the day when you would want to be ‘stuck’ in the same place I was at unless of course Brant was running around the corner,” Avery rolled her eyes at Heather and groaned.

“Brant’s old news,” Heather waved her hand dismissively before pausing, “although when it gets down to it I’m sure that he enjoyed being with me much more than he did with you. He still talks to me.”

“That’s because I broke his heart. You on the other hand really weren’t the effort he spent in having you tossed out on the street,” Avery shot back at her icily. “I’m sure Kyle will follow his path soon enough when he sees what you really are like.”

“Kyle knows what I’m really like and he loves me for me. He sees me as I am and doesn’t care if I’m not perfect. Russ, on the other hand, has no idea about what a whore you really are, but once the wool is pulled from his eyes, he’s going to be highly disappointed. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he took Erin and ran. Really though who could blame him considering the kind of person that you are,” Heather waved her hand dismissively. “You’re lucky you’ve been able to keep up the rouse this long.”

“Listen you,” Avery snapped back at her wanting nothing more than to strangle Heather now that she sat across from her with a smug expression. “You don’t know the first thing about who I am.”

“I know enough to know you don’t deserve Russ,” Heather shot back at her sarcastically. “Given that you’ve slept with his brothers I’m more than positive that he’ll realize that sooner or later too. Tell me how long will it be until you try to bed Grady?”

“That’s it,” Avery stood up and felt her blood boiling. “You get out now!”

“I’m not going anywhere. I made a promise to Kyle and I intend to keep it,” Heather answered stubbornly folding her arms in front of her chest in a defiant stance. “Unlike you I keep my promises.”

“Since when?” Avery balked back at her. “I seriously doubt Kyle would stand for you insulting me.”

“I’m not insulting you. I’m just telling it like it is. You can’t argue the fact that you’ve slept with both Brant and Ken. It’s a common knowledge to everyone, but Russ,” Heather huffed in response before offering up a haughty laugh, “though I’m sure that makes for some interesting stories for the upcoming family reunion.”

“Look Heather, not that it’s any of your business, but Ken took advantage of that situation,” Avery glared over at her not wanting to discuss the details of the night that still haunted her.

“Oh right,” Heather rolled her eyes, “Like anyone is going to believe that flimsy excuse.”

“It’s the truth,” Avery blurted out feeling her frustrations mounting. “Ken took advantage of the situation and if he hadn’t, then I never, ever would’ve slept with him. I knew him for years and in one night he destroyed that friendship that we had with one another.”

“Here we go with the sob story,” Heather groaned inwardly rolling her eyes again as Avery began to pace around the room.

“Go to hell Heather. You have no idea what it’s like to have someone hurt you like that. You have no clue what it feels like to have someone violate a trust just because they are trying to feed into their own selfish ego. It is one of the most awful, horrible things that a person has to endure, but if you’d like to exploit that and tell Russ, then be my guest. Go ahead and tell him if it makes you feel like more of a person, but when you do just know that you’ll be proving to the world that you haven’t changed. You’ll still be the same miserable little person who only cares about the destruction she can create around her,” Avery shot back at her stomping across the room towards the door. She flung it open and turned to Heather again. “You can leave now.”

“No,” Heather shook her head refusing to look over at Avery, “I’m not going anywhere. I promised Kyle…”

“To hell with what you promised Kyle. I want you gone Heather. I’m not going to stand here and have you belittle me. I’m finished with that and if you can’t find it in yourself to get over this obvious chip you have on your shoulder where I’m concerned, then get the hell out!” Avery snapped at her, raising her voice to a shriek.

“I said I’m not leaving,” Heather stood up and faced Avery again. “I told Kyle that I would stay here with you and I’m going to do that until he gets back.”

“Heather, you’re not listening to me,” Avery marched in towards her, “My friend is out there in trouble which is the only reason why Kyle and Russ left in the first place. Something horrible could be happening and the last thing I want to do is add to the situation by doing this.”

“I’m worried about Kevin too,” Heather lashed out at her. “He’s my friend too.”

“I seriously doubt that,” Avery bit back on a sarcastic laugh. “He doesn’t seem to be into bitch.”

“He must be if he’s your friend,” Heather tossed back at her moving a small step forward. Her green eyes narrowed in at Avery before Avery let out a groan.

“That’s it. I’ve so had it,” Avery lunged forward ready to strangle Heather if that’s what it took to shut her up.

“What the…” Heather gasped feeling Avery charge at her. She pushed Avery in response sending Avery backwards before she wound up knocking Avery down to the ground. In a matter of seconds the two were tangled up on the floor, both slapping and kicking at one another, attempting to pull at the other’s hair in an attempt to settle the score between each other once and for all. The fight raged on in full effect until Elliot and Cheryl appeared in the room shocked to see them tearing at one another.

“Avery! Heather!” Cheryl gasped in a horrified wail.

Elliot pushed forward doing his best to intervene. He attempted to pull the two of them apart, but in doing so he felt Heather’s fist fly into his jaw. Avery’s leg kicked into his thigh and he let out a loud groan.

“Damn it both of you!” Elliot snapped regaining his bearings and doing what he could to place himself between them. He glared over at Avery, then to Heather once they’d separated. “You’re both acting like spoiled brats. You’re not five years old anymore and this isn’t some playground for you both to duke it out with one another. You’re both adults.”

“She started it,” Heather pouted folding her arms in front of her chest as Elliot tossed out a warning look. “Well she did.”

“No you started it when you came in here ready to launch an attack on me,” Avery argued with a huff as Cheryl joined the trio.

“Both of you know better than to be doing this,” Cheryl added hoping that Avery and Heather would refrain from another fist fight. “You’re both bright and beautiful women who are mothers for heaven’s sake. How do you think your children would feel to see you doing this? What kind of impression do you think that this would make on them?”

“I…” Heather began before finding herself at a loss.

“I just…” Avery paused as well suddenly feeling foolish now that her future in laws were lecturing her on the importance of steering clear of violence. She glanced over at Heather again before throwing her hands in the air, “I give up. I’m going to check on Erin.”

“Avery,” Cheryl called out to her watching as Avery disappeared into he bedroom. She glanced over at Heather before following Avery to her granddaughter’s room.

Once Elliot and Heather were alone with one another, he looked to Heather again, “Heather, what’s going on? I mean seriously…”

“She started it,” Heather blurted out again with a frown. “She just doesn’t know when to quit.”

“Given what I just stepped into quite literally,” he paused rubbing his jaw that still ached, “I think both of you had a problem with that.”

“Look I didn’t mean to start a fight with her, but she was asking for it. She just kept making dig after dig and…” Heather continued to attempt reasoning with him.

“Heather, come on. We both know that neither one of you were innocent in all of this,” Elliot tossed out a look of distain and concern. “How do you think Kyle would’ve felt if he came in here and found his wife fighting with his best friend’s wife?”

“She’s not his wife yet,” Heather folded her arms in front of her chest stubbornly.

“Even so, I don’t think he’d like it and deep down I’m sure that you wouldn’t want him to see it either,” Elliot’s tone softened as his eyes fixed in on her. “Heather, whatever it is that you and Avery have against one another, I think it’s long past due that you both just let go of it. You’re both in love with two men who grew up together and are like family. If this continues then it’s only going to hurt them. If you can’t look outside your own animosity at least think about them.”

“Why are you lecturing me? Shouldn’t you be saying this to her?” Heather huffed impatiently fighting to keep from lashing out at Elliot.

“Avery’s stubborn, which is why I’m sure Cheryl is giving her the same talk in there,” he nodded towards the bedroom before sighing. “Face it Heather whatever it is that you and Avery have against one another all it’s going to do is lead you both down a destructive path and if this is about Brant…”

“Who said anything about Brant?” Heather frowned over at him while catching his knowing look.

“Let me just say this. No man is worth getting into a war with someone else over especially when it’s a man that neither one of you are in love with anyways,” Elliot added in a strong parental tone. “You have Kyle now and she’s with Russ. Brant shouldn’t even factor into this.”

“He doesn’t,” Heather paused shuffling on her feet a bit, “At least not really.”

“So he chose Avery,” Elliot shrugged his shoulders, “Yes, I would imagine that hurt, but after a while that hurt went away. You found Kyle and you love him, don’t you?”

“With everything that I am,” Heather nodded in confession a smile touching over her features for the first time since she’d started fighting with Avery.

“Then why focus on something so irrelevant? Avery isn’t with Brant anymore and I don’t see her ever going down that road again,” Elliot explained thinking about Avery’s love for Russ. “She’s trying to rebuild her life again and clearly so are you. You’re both incredible, wonderful women, so please don’t let that get clouded by the fact that you both feel the need to put the other in their place. By doing so you’re only hurting yourselves and the men you love over and over again.”

“You’re right. You’re absolutely right,” Heather nodded in agreement realizing that he had a point. Still when it came to being around Avery, it was always easier said than done in doing the right thing. Taking in a breath she just hoped that she could find it inside of her to keep herself in check long enough for her to wait it out until Kyle returned. Her green eyes fixed on Elliot again when she thought about her husband, “You’re not going to tell Kyle about this, are you?”

“He doesn’t need to know and I don’t see any reason to upset him or Russ unless of course you and Avery aren’t going to stay in line,” Elliot explained a sharp warning in his voice.

“No,” Heather decided lowering her head a bit, “I’m going to keep myself in line. I don’t want to do what we just did again especially not if it is going to hurt Kyle.”

“Good answer,” Elliot replied with a small smile reaching out to pat her shoulder gently, “and trust me Heather. In the long run it’ll be better for you if you just learn to let go of the anger and embrace the finer things that life has to offer you.”

“I know,” Heather agreed with a nod hearing the door to the bedroom open. She tossed her long, blonde hair over her shoulder and spotted Cheryl returning with Avery. In that instant her eyes locked with Avery’s and she saw a glimmer of the same thoughts that had been running through Heather’s mind. Both women were frazzled and clearly shaken by what had happened, but as Heather looked away she vowed that she wasn’t going to be the one to dish out any apologizes anytime soon. If Avery wanted to let go of their anger, then that was fine. Heather would be civil for the rest of the duration of their being together, but Heather would not under any circumstances be the one apologizing to Avery. Not in this lifetime!


“You really think that we’ll have any luck in finding Kevin?” Kyle questioned as he and Russ drove towards Kevin’s place on the island. “I mean if the guy isn’t answering his phone, then I’m sure there might be a good reason…”

“Hopefully it’s not the reason Avery is worried about it being,” Russ added thinking about Kevin’s situation. “He’s already had a lot to deal with this past year.”

“Sounds like you two have gotten close,” Kyle noted glancing over at Russ and eyeing him closely. “I still don’t trust the guy and maybe now isn’t the time to bring this up, but you should probably watch yourself around him.”

“Why would you say that?” Russ couldn’t help but ask turning to his friend before focusing on the road again.

“I don’t know why, but my instincts are telling me that there’s something about him that can’t be trusted,” Kyle hesitated thinking about what Russ and Avery had been through with one another. “Plus given that you almost married the woman Kevin’s been in love with, that in itself makes him a high risk person to be around.”

“He’s not in love with Angela anymore,” Russ paused contemplating Kyle’s warning, “and neither am I. I never was in love with her because all that time I was thinking about Avery and a part of me believed that Angela was her. I know it sounds crazy, but…”

“No it doesn’t sound crazy Russ, but with Kevin,” Kyle hesitated wondering if Kevin Adonis was a true friend or nothing more than a foe, “there is just that possibility that he could be out there waiting for a moment to get you back for what you did to him. You said it yourself that Erin’s already taken to him and given that Avery is clearly concerned about him…”

“Kyle, it’s nothing to worry about,” Russ laughed lightly attempting to dismiss the idea, “Back when I was on the island it was like a lifetime ago. Kevin and I were both different people. He’s found happiness with Ria now and I really don’t see him being a problem for Avery and I. He’s been good to us trying to get us together again after the truth came out about Angela.”

“Even so Russ, I know it sounds like I’m being the skeptic, but I’ve seen the guy a few times. He knows he’s got something going on and I would hate to see him make a play for Avery after you both worked so hard to be together again,” Kyle paused knowing how foolish he must’ve sounded to Russ. “You two deserve some happiness after the hell you’ve been through.”

“And we’re going to have it,” Russ glanced over at Kyle once again, “though why do I get the feeling that your mistrust for Kevin stems from something outside of my relationship with Avery?”

Kyle shrugged. “I don’t know man, but there’s something about him that just doesn’t seem quite right. He just has something about him that…”

“Didn’t he do a photo shoot for Heather?” Russ interrupted catching the expression on Kyle’s face. “Is that where you’re coming from on this one?”

“Russ the guy is friends with Brant,” Kyle tossed back at him refusing to admit that Kyle did have a flicker of jealousy at seeing Kevin with Heather during the photo shoot Russ mentioned. “That in itself should tell you to keep your guard up. Brant’s been nothing but a problem for you and I don’t want his pal adding to that.”

“I appreciate your concern Kyle. I really do and I respect your opinion, but this time I think that there isn’t anything to worry about,” Russ declared squeezing the steering wheel between his fingers. “Avery and I have gotten everything out in the open about what happened while I was here with Angela. She knows about my time as Nick and she’s forgiven me for that.”

“Are you sure about that?” Kyle questioned wearily.

“Of course I’m sure about that. Avery loves me and we have a family together,” Russ nodded quickly. “I don’t think anything is going to split us up again. I mean yeah okay, so we suffered a major blow to our relationship when she thought I’d died. I know she married Brant and I did what I did here believing that my name was Nick and that Angela was the woman I was meant to be with, but it’s in the past. That’s not who I am anymore. I’m back where I was always meant to be with the woman who has spent her whole life loving me.”

“I know Russ, but…” Kyle paused wondering why he was filled with a sudden weariness about Kevin Adonis.

“Kyle you and I both know that if I hadn’t gone to follow that lead at the airport, then Avery and I never would’ve split. We would’ve been happy together and she wouldn’t have given Brant a second look. Even if Kevin was trying to help Brant put a distance between Avery and I, which he’s not, then I’m certain it wouldn’t hold any impact on the situation. Avery and I love one another and there isn’t anyone who can change that.”

“Yeah, right. I know,” Kyle nodded thinking back to a time when Russ had confessed about his past with Angela. In the same breath Kyle remembered Grady’s confession of love for Avery. Glancing over at Russ and knowing full well how much Russ was hoping for a happily ever after, Kyle just prayed that the truth about Grady and Avery never came to light. If Avery had truly blacked it out of her mind, then Kyle hoped it stayed buried there.

“You know he’s not Diego Hernandez,” Russ interrupted Kyle’s thoughts rousing Kyle back to the moment.

“Huh?” Kyle blinked back at him, “What did you say?”

“I said he’s not Diego,” Russ explained focusing on the road once again. “I know the guy pretended to be your friend and then slept with Sarah behind your back. That was an all time low and…”

“Diego opened my eyes to what kind of person Sarah really was, so in a way he did me a favor,” Kyle thought back to his farce of a relationship with Sarah. “She never represented herself truly until her lies were exposed. It was then that I saw her true colors and found my way back to the woman that I was meant to be with.”

“I know and I’m glad that you found out what she was about before you married her,” Russ added thinking about the explosive wedding ceremony that played out.

“I never intended to marry her once I learned how she’d schemed and plotted to destroy what Heather and I have with one another,” Kyle sighed remembering the deception that had hung over his head. “It’s just I thought I knew her--that I really believed that Sarah had grown up and turned into the woman I’d always wanted her to be, but then when I saw the truth…”

“Kyle?” Russ questioned turning to face him again.

“Anything I felt for her died when I realized how she’d pulled Heather and I apart,” Kyle replied behind clenched teeth. “You have no idea how many years I lost because of her lies--how many times I made myself miserable believing that Heather left because she didn’t care and even now…when I think about what Heather endured because of it…”

“Kyle, hey it’s okay,” Russ could hear the strain in his friend’s voice. “It’s in the past.”

“I know that,” Kyle nodded glancing over at his friend again, “I just don’t want anyone else to have to go through anything like that. It ripped my heart out when I thought I’d lost Heather and I know how it killed Avery when she thought you were dead. I just don’t want either one of you to ever go through that again Russ. You’ve worked too hard to lose it now.”

“We’re getting married Kyle,” Russ pointed out with a wide smirk, “That’s something in itself. We have a beautiful baby girl and after this weekend is over we’re going to have all the dreams we’ve been waiting for.”

“I know man,” Kyle reached out to pat Russ on the shoulder, “I know that and I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks. I’m glad that I have you here to share that with us and for the record,” Russ pulled the car into Kevin’s driveway, “there isn’t anyone else that I would want as my best man other than you. I mean yeah Grady’s been in that position a few times already, but you’ve always got my back.”

“And I always will Russ,” Kyle promised as the two got out of the car and went into Kevin’s house hoping to find some clue about what happened to the man that Kyle still felt was going to be a problem sooner or later. While Russ wanted to think the best about Kevin, Kyle wasn’t convinced that Kevin was the ‘good guy’ that Russ believed him to be. Sure, Russ might’ve thought the past was the past, but Kyle knew full well if anyone had been burned by love as Kevin had perceived he’d been, then it was a guarantee that one day things would come full circle and Kevin would ultimately find a way to give Russ a payback for the wrong doings against him. Kyle just hoped that before that moment arrived that he would be able to save his friend from that kind of fate with Kevin Adonis. If Kevin ever did anything to hurt Russ and Avery, then Kyle vowed that he wouldn’t rest until he buried Kevin one way or the other.


“Alright so what’s going on?" Kipp began leaning back in the chair wanting to listen to his father fully so he didn’t let him get in anymore trouble than he already was in. “You need to tell me what’s up before I just drop this Douglas. I want to help you, but I need help from your side to understand what’s going on.”

“All I need to say is that there is this guy that called me and he knows something that JT is doing. He wants money for it or else he is going to get him in trouble and possibly put him in jail with the information he knows,” Douglas began to explain seeing Kipp’s brown eyes get a bit angry as he continued on with his explanation. This had been on his mind for quite some time and he had no idea of what he should be doing right now. How he should be handling this situation and after having the idea haunt his mind he really thought that this might be the only way out of everything. “I don’t want your brother in trouble and I was thinking about paying him off. Maybe the guy will just leave him alone after.”

“Are you kidding me? Are you really being serious about this?" Kipp watched Douglas nod and he shook his head slowly not wanting his father to fall under someone’s trap to try and get JT out of something. “I can’t believe you. I think it would be an absolutely ridiculous idea to pay someone off for something JT did himself. That’s a stupid idea.”

“Well what else am I supposed to do?" Douglas questioned running his hand through his dark hair thinking about the thought of his son actually getting himself in huge trouble. He didn’t want JT to end up in some sort of pain and he certainly didn’t want him going to jail. “I don’t know what else to do about this Kipp I have to do something.”

“Listen Douglas, just call JT. I’ll tell you what--this will probably work. Call him, tell him what you know and then you know what?" Kipp began in a degrading tone seeing his father’s eyes staring out at him as he shook his head slowly. “I’m sure that will probably fix it. The problem will fix itself if you tell him he can situate it out himself.”

“Knowing your brother…,” Doug thought about the problem he was having with his son and he shook his head slowly running his fingers through his hair once more. “It’s probably too late knowing how much of a whore he is.”

“What is that supposed to mean?" Kipp questioned knowing that Doug hadn’t told him the whole truth about what was going on and with that comment it almost made him wonder what it was that JT truly did to get himself in trouble. With that comment it made his thoughts linger as Kipp slightly laughed. “Dad?"

“It doesn’t matter Kipp what he did, but I will tell you this--I know you don’t have the best feelings for him, but he is your brother Kipp. Your flesh and blood and you know what? He’s my son, I care about him and I don’t want him hurt,” Douglas rested his head in his hand and bit down on his bottom lip thinking about his son and how serious the man on the phone sounded. “I don’t want him hurt. That’s the last thing I would ever want for him.”

“Okay who in the world are you and what are you doing pretending to be Douglas Mahoney?" Kipp questioned seeing the worried eyes of his father look up at him and he could see that he was genuinely worried about JT and that was something he had never seen coming from his father before. It wasn’t normal. “Something is wrong with you because you are not like this.”

“Kipp, I’m sick of my family being torn apart,” Douglas informed him with a small shake of his head knowing that it would be hard to explain somewhat. Even though he hadn’t showed it much he really did care about his family and that was one thing he always cared about in his own screwed up way. “I just want him safe. I want us to be closer.”

“Listen, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m kind of baffled by the things you are saying here and I think something more is up isn’t there?" Kipp saw Douglas looked away from him a moment and he took in a long breath not quite knowing what to say after Douglas didn’t answer him. He saw him look down toward the floor and he said honestly the first thing that came to mind. “Listen, I understand that you probably don’t want to part with your money at all with JT or have your reputation ruined by having something like this happen with JT going to jail. I get it that it’s for your better benefit and you are making up this bullshit, but…,”

“That’s not what I’m doing,” Douglas went to say something more until he was cut off by Kipp once more who stood up from the chair he was in and moved in front of him.

“I don’t care what it’s about Doug, just call JT,” Kipp answered not even giving him a chance to do any explanation of things he was saying. Moving back toward the hallway again he turned on his heel a moment and looked his father over. He didn’t need anymore problems today and it would be it for him talking to his father anymore. “That will solve your problem. Trust me.”


“See it’s easing up a bit,” JT whispered kissing the top of Evie’s head as he held her in his arms as they sat on the faux bear rug in front of the fireplace with one another. He had her wrapped up beside him as the kittens all nestled in on Evie’s lap all trying to get closer to her as JT held her.

“I still don’t like it,” she admitted with a tiny shiver as her fingers played over the tiny heads on her lap. She looked down to the four kittens, who were all contented by the warmth of her legs while their mother was lazily stretched out across the sheet covered couch across the room.

“I’m well aware of that, but as promised the beach house is still standing,” JT replied tipping his head up towards the ceiling over their heads. “As it should be.”

“I know,” she let out an emphatic breath, “but you can’t tell me that you didn’t hear all that roaring outside. It sounded like a tropical storm--a hurricane even and…”

“Trust me,” JT assured her gently, “I’ve been in a hurricane and that’s not even remotely close to what one of those feels like.”

“You’re just saying that to shut me up,” she curled her lip in a pout as she tipped her head up to meet his eyes again.

“No, I’m not,” he promised wrapping her up in his arms tighter as she sank back into his chest. “I’ve seen things that would make your head spin.”

“It was about to before when it was thundering,” she shivered at the memory. “I don’t like the storms. I never have and I never will.”

“Storms aren’t so bad as long as you’re with your family,” JT spoke up encouragingly. He motioned to the kittens in her lap, “After all the way I see it they were trying to ease your mind after they saw how upset you were.”

“I’m surprised I didn’t frighten them,” she sighed relaxing a bit in his arms as she looked down to the kittens sleeping over her. “They really are beautiful, aren’t they?”

“The truly are,” JT nodded in agreement, “which proves that you can find little miracles when you least expect them.”

“I honestly thought they were going to be rats after what you said before you spotted them,” Evie pet Spunky’s ear, watching the kitten curve into the movement. “I’m glad they weren’t though.”

“Even if they were rats knowing you, you would have undoubtedly given them all names and perhaps sewn them clothing and invited them into our mock family.”

“I would not have,” she couldn’t help but laugh, “although I might start thinking about sewing some clothing for these little ones.”

“You really sew?” his eyes perked up.

“I did a little embroidering and crochet,” she shrugged her shoulders, “and I’ve been known to modify my wardrobe a bit when the mood strikes.”

“So you have a hidden talent I wasn’t aware of,” he smiled down at her. “That might come in handy one day.”

“I suppose,” she scratched Bradshaw’s twin, “although I’ve never made kitten clothing before.”

“I’m sure you’ll be a pro at it. Besides, the way I see it you can whip up some adorably sweet little outfits for the five of them. I can dig out my old camera and then we’ll get them dressed up and post photos on the internet. Maybe it’ll catch on and you’ll start getting orders for your chic and snazzy kitten wear and it could become an internet success,” he continued on with a hint of laughter in his tone.

“Oh please,” she groaned outwardly, “Now you’re just being silly.”

“No I’m not. The sky is the limit,” JT added further with a twisted smirk. “I mean look at me. I started from the bottom and worked my way up to owning the bar.”

“Yes, but can you see it now? Sports bars and kitty clothing chains across the nation,” she felt a laugh bubble over her. “What would we call it?”

“A novelty,” he teased further, poking at her ribs, “and who knows maybe our customers will bring in their owners and…”

“Customers?” Evie gave him a strange look. “As in we’ll be serving drinks to the kittens?”

“Well I think that’s the general idea, but it might get messy around the bar with the litter boxes every which place,” he laughed lightly catching the amusement that twinkled behind her eyes.

“Now you’re just being silly,” she shook her head at him.

“Maybe, but it made you smile, didn’t it?” he curled his fingers underneath her chin, tilting her head up towards his. His lips descended towards hers and offered up a small kiss.

“I suppose it did,” she agreed with a small sigh.

“So how are you feeling now?” he questioned in a lazy tone.

“Better now that we’ve survived our first panic attack with one another,” she admitted with a hint of a smile touching over the corners of her mouth.

“That’s quite the accomplishment indeed,” he added pushing a piece of her long, dark hair away from her face.

“You must think that I’m insane, don’t you?” she questioned fluttering her eyelashes up at him as they got more comfortable with one another on the floor.

“Not in the least,” JT smiled down at her. “A lot of people don’t like thunderstorms.”

“But to the level of ridiculousness that I was just wrapped up in?” she asked uneasily as his fingers eased through her silken tresses once again.

“Trust me this particular panic attack wasn’t at all as horrible as it felt,” he assured her tenderly. “Now if you get me in the middle of a circus you’ll see the real meaning of ridiculous since I will undoubtedly have a panic attack being surrounded by clowns.”

“Oh please,” she groaned, “I seriously doubt that.”

“What happened with you today will seem like nothing if I’m stuck in a room of clowns,” he shuddered at the thought. “Have you ever read the book It by Stephen King or seen the movie? I think I had nightmares for years after that one.”

“JT stop,” she couldn’t help but laugh.

“I’m serious,” JT confessed with a somber expression. “Even the mention of Bozo the Clown and I go running in the other direction. I can’t even stand to look at them which made for a horrible Halloween when I was younger. And Circus day at school, well you could forget that too.”

“So as long as we don’t happen to run into a middle of a thunderstorm at a traveling circus, we’ll be alright,” Evie snuggled into his chest further.

“Exactly,” JT nodded resting his chin on the top of her head lightly, “but if that does end up happening, I have to admit I think we’ll be screwed royally.”

“I’ll protect you just like you protected me tonight,” she cuddled into him further. “You’re always playing my hero JT and I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for that.”

“Having your love is more than enough for me,” he admitted hugging her closer to him as the storm continued to pass on beyond where they were thus leaving them the time to simply enjoy their quiet time with one another and the kittens in their own private hideaway.


“Where…where am I?” Kevin questioned hearing the fading sounds of the storm clouds in the distance. His brown eyes opened as he tried to focus on where he was now that he’d blanked out of the moment. His eyelashes fluttered and as he looked up he found Don hovering over him, his lips only a few inches over Kevin’s. That in itself was enough to send Kevin jolting up from the seat of the car banging his head in the movement. He yelped before attempting to shuffle away from Don. “What the hell are you doing? Where are we and why are you trying to make out with me?”

Don rolled his eyes and moved back, “I’m not trying to make out with Kevin. I was just going to give you mouth to mouth because I thought you’d stopped breathing,” Don explained with a small groan rubbing the back of his neck. “You passed out and…”

“I don’t want your mouth near me ever again,” Kevin warned waving his fingers around in the air while a shudder passed over him. “I mean it Don!”

“Trust me it was not on my list of things to do today,” Don wrinkled his nose in disgust before motioning to the washed out road ahead of them. “You think you’re in good enough shape to get this car on the road again?”

“What?” Kevin blinked back seeing the road in front of him. Suddenly he remembered the rush to find Angela--the storm that had overtaken him and as he looked around the car he realized that Brant was missing. “Where’s Brant?”

“He went after Angela. He said he couldn’t wait,” Don explained watching Kevin push himself around the car. “He was afraid it would be too late if you didn’t wake up and…”

“We have to find her,” Kevin moved in towards the wheel grabbing it with a shaky hand.

“Actually Kevin, maybe I should take over driving. Now that I know you’re out of the danger zone, it’s probably a good idea,” Don reached for the keys only to feel Kevin grip his wrist tightly.

“No one drives my jeep but me,” Kevin snarled at Don moving to place the keys into the ignition once again.

“Listen Sleeping Beauty, while you might be a stickler about this one, the fact to the matter is that you blacked out a little while ago and you’re in no shape to be behind the wheel of the car,” Don reached out to snag the keys out of the ignition, “Now you can be stubborn and argue with me about this, or you can let me drive. The choice is yours, but I will tell you that the longer we wait, the more trouble Brant and Angela might be in if this Craven guy is as bad as you are telling us.”

“Craven will kill Brant if he’s there,” Kevin realized knowing full well what Craven was capable of. He reached for his keys again only to feel Don pull them out of his reach.

“Then you get your ass on this side of the car and let me drive. I can’t lose my best friend, but I can assure you that if you take us there and the storm starts up again we won’t make it in time to help him,” Don reminded him sharply, his blue eyes filled with warning. “Kevin please just let me drive.”

“Don I…” Kevin heard a thunder cloud overhead reminding him of the night he’d last faced Craven. It had been a night filled with disaster--a night that had forever changed his life. Kevin finally nodded watching Don step out of the car. He slid over to the seat Don had been in and waited for Don to get back inside.

“Now where are we going?” Don questioned moving in behind the wheel and adjusting the seat for his size. He put the keys in the ignition before looking to Kevin.

“That way,” Kevin motioned to the road ahead of them. He closed his eyes for a brief moment hearing the sounds of the storm, but he did his best to ignore them as it was clear that far more was riding on his finding Brant and Angela before Craven did. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that Craven was bad news and if Brant was there on his own, then Craven would kill him without hesitation. Brant didn’t stand a chance against someone so sinister and as Kevin took in a breath, he just prayed that his passing out didn’t cost him the few precious moments he would need to save Brant and Angela’s lives.


The rain slowed down to a gradual spray overhead as Brant stood outside the white beach house in front of him. While it wasn’t nearly as large as the one that Cameron had been staying in, there was something regal about it--something that gave off an air about it that lead Brant to believe that he was about to face some opposition on the inside. He took another step forward knowing full well that he looked ridiculous with mud caked over his pants and shirt after the jog he’d taken over, but it didn’t matter. All that was important was finding her and being with her again. He rushed forward thinking about the sound of her voice when she’d called him.

“Angela,” he spoke her name realizing that she’d been terrified. She was frightened and afraid, yet when she’d had a moment to reach out to someone--to seek out assistance she’d called him. She’d found her way to a phone and dialed his number, which could only mean one thing.

“She remembers,” Brant gasped in realization knowing that this meant something that ran far greater than he’d anticipated. Not only would he find his way into the beach house and rescue the woman he loved, but they could be together again. They could finally be able to have their bright future ahead of them and nothing would stand in their way any longer.

“I’m coming for you Angela. Hold on,” Brant whispered under his breath making his way up to the door. He contemplated how to enter as there were a million and one scenarios going through his head. He thought about ringing the bell as no one would suspect a casual intruder to do such a thing, then he thought about busting the door down and forgetting about being polite. It would serve the son of a bitch who took her right if he wound up on the receiving end of an Ashford ass kicking. Still if he had a gun, that might prove to be a problem and put Angela into danger. Looking around the deck area, he circled around back opting for a sneak attack.

“Please be open,” Brant mouthed under his breath reaching for the sliding door in front of him. Much to his dismay it was locked and proved to be more of a problem than a help. Frowning he shrugged out of his rain soaked jacket and wrapped it around his fist. He said a silent prayer that this wouldn’t come back to haunt him as he rammed his fist through the glass watching it shatter into pieces in front of him where he’d struck it. He slide his hand further into the hole in the window and reached out to unlatch the lock. The door slid open without hesitation.

“Just let her be okay,” he whispered half expecting to find a man with a gun standing in front of him after the noise he’d made, but there was nothing. The house was silent and as Brant looked around he realized he’d stumbled into the kitchen. His dark eyes scanned the room searching for anything that he might be able to use as a weapon if need be. He moved over to one of the drawers and that’s when he spotted it. Hanging over near the other end of the room was a series of cutlery in front of him. He frowned wondering what kind of person would have their cutlery out and overhead like that, but still that wasn’t important. He reached for one of the oversized knives and prepared to search the house in the hopes of finding Angela.

“I’m here baby,” he mouthed hoping that she could sense his presence. He turned towards the hallway making the first movement towards going through the house, but before he could complete his task, he felt a loud, hammering movement crush into his skull causing him to drop the knife to the ground. He toppled over and as he let out an agonizing breath Brant realized that his surprise attack was no longer a surprise as the world around him faded to black!


...to be continued...