Episode 420

“I didn’t really see you as the mall type,” Mindy looked over at Jason as they walked in the open mall outside after he had suggest they go out together for a while. He walked beside her with a shrug as she took in a deep breath and pulled her light jacket closer to her body. “What do you like about this place?”

“The fact that you can take a walk outside and you don’t have stupid people coming up to you to ask if you need help because you look suspicious,” Jason heard Mindy chuckle to herself and Jason smirked sliding his hands into his jacket pockets. “When you are at a closed in mall you really don’t get to enjoy the day. Nor do you get the openness to just walk around and not go in any store. You really get those glares when you just walk around. Like…what are you doing here? This is a mall. Not a park to walk in.”

“Well, I just like to do my window shopping and if anyone has a problem with it…,” she saw someone staring out at her as she turned away from them and smacked her butt while Jason took a step back away from her. “They could kiss my ass.”

“Maybe we should keep moving,” Jason nudged her a bit placing his hand over her shoulder hearing her laugh as he motioned her away from the place. “You really aren’t afraid to do anything in public, are you? It’s kind of scary. I’ve never met a girl so open to go all wild there.”

“You think I’m bad?” she laughed seeing the way he nodded as his blue eyes stared into hers. Taking a moment to think things over she took in a deep breath and nodded as well. “Yeah, you are right. I kind of am.”

“See! You couldn’t even reject the idea. I like that about you though. You have more fun than I do and I really need to be with a person that opens me up more. I know I’m a bit of an idiot and do things without thinking about it, but I need to find someone who has fun,” he sighed thinking about his life and how him and Mindy were almost two totally different personalities, but he loved spending time with her. “I like being with you.”

“And I like being with you,” Mindy stated back seeing the way that his blue eyes watched her carefully as she stopped in front of one of the stores to stare out at him. “You are a very good guy Jason. I really didn’t think I would have a good friend again like you in my life. I kind of lost the one friend I had that was really true and you’ve made up for that. I love being your friend. You’re a good guy.”

“Thank you,” he smirked and he felt her move in to hug him making a small laugh erupt from the back of his throat. “People are probably going to think you are breaking up with me.”

“Or we’re two friends sharing an embrace,” she suggested arching her eyebrow up while moving back to stare at him. She placed her hand over the center of his chest and shook her head slowly. “You see, you could watch all these people walk by us and usually if you pay attention to people…I mean really watch them…you will see that they really don’t care. They just walk around you. Most people are too busy with their own lives to just step back and take a look at the world.”

“I see,” was all that he could say as she spoke and he wanted to slap himself in the face for that line, but that was honestly all he could say. “How do you know that?”

“Because I’ve been standing before the world a very long time and nothing has changed over these last few years. People don’t care,” she simply said while clearing her throat and thinking about her life over a period of time. The harder days in her life she knew of made her wish that she had a friend like Jason back then. “You could stand here and make out with me and no one would care. Well…except for a few perverts.”

“Oh really?” he responded back arching his eyebrow up and stared out at her. Folding his arms in front of his chest he cleared his throat and shrugged. “Prove it to me then. I think something like that would really catch people’s attention.”

“Trust me…that is not something you want to offer me,” she pointed out with a shrug while laughing and looking around those around them. “I might just actually take you up on your offer in the mood I’m in.”

“What’s wrong…,” Jason began and before he could finish his sentence he saw someone quickly move in behind Mindy and picked her up under their arm while spinning her around. “Hey, put her down.”

“Chill out bucko,” Nate laughed as Matt moved in behind Jason and tugged on his pant leg to show that no one was hurting her. Jason took a step back while hearing Mindy laugh and he looked to Matt who took a seat on the bench beside them. “I didn’t think I would see you here.”

“I didn’t think I would have you lifting me off my feet,” she felt him finally put her down while she was still laughing. Brushing back her hair she saw Nate smile and move over next to Matt to take a seat. “What are the two of you doing here?”

“We’re going to the play land here. It’s like a cool store with all these cool little areas where you get to play in like little obstacle courses,” Nate wrapped his arm around Matt’s shoulder and squeezed him closer to his body. “Matt loves it.”

“Don’t let him fool you,” Matt looked up at Mindy with his light blue eyes and pat his uncle on the stomach before shaking his head slowly. “He loves to play in it just as much as I do. If not more.”

“Yeah, he seems like that type,” Jason spoke up with venom behind his words while feeling Mindy jab him in the side with her elbow almost warning him to be nice. “I haven’t seen that place yet.”

“Oh really?” Nate smiled looking between the two before shrugging and whispering something to Matt. When Matt nodded he lifted his head back up and cleared his throat. “How about you two come with us? I think it would be fun.”

“We’d love to,” Mindy blurted out making Jason’s eyebrows clench together almost shocked by her answer.

She wasn’t even looking at him, but he knew that he couldn’t tell her no. She was smiling and happy about it. While he didn’t want to go anywhere with Nate, Matt wasn’t that bad. Maybe he was reading too much into the situation they were in.

“Yeah, we’d love to come,” Jason reached to pick Matt up off the bench and into his arms. He started to tickle Matt over and over again trying to keep a straight face, but it was to no prevail. “So you are ticklish.”

“This isn’t funny Jason,” Matt tried to keep a straight face while trying to wiggle out of his arms. The more he tried to get away, the harder Jason tickled. “I’m being serious. Don’t make me hit you.”

“You better listen. His hits hurt,” Nate winced rubbing at his shoulder while standing up and letting out a small laugh. With one last movement, Jason set Matt down and saw the glare he got.

“I’m sorry buddy, I couldn’t resist,” he chuckled seeing Matt shrug and brush off his shirt before moving forward. “You’re not mad at me are you?”

“No, it just wasn’t funny,” Matt answered seeing the way that Jason chuckled and shrugged his shoulders. He moved over toward where Zane was playing by the water and he grabbed a hold of his arms and motioned him to follow. “We’re going to go play. Follow us whether you please or not.”

“Alright,” Nate followed him pulling out his wallet knowing that they had to pay a couple of bucks to get in and he promised both Matt and Zane that he would take them. Once they moved into the place, he paid for everyone including Jason and Mindy. “I got you guys.”

“I could have done it,” Jason spoke up seeing Nate wave it off and the kids were already running off to play in the tubes that obviously all of them were too big for. “This is a huge place, but I don’t think we’ll fit in those.”

“I have an idea of where we can go,” Nate picked Mindy up over his shoulder hearing her gasp as he carried her over toward the corner of a steep hilled area of the playground. He dropped her into the pool of foam below him before laughing. “Cannon ball.”

“Great,” Jason moved over toward them seeing Nate and Mindy throwing a few of the foam brick at each other while rolling his eyes. “This is just…great.”


“So I want to know some things,” Stacy moved over toward the couch Cori was sitting on watching some kind of court case television show that had been running for hours. After waiting a while to ask, she just couldn’t resist to ask about her life. “What is it like being pregnant? Tell me about Nate. Tell me the whole story.”

“You really want to know about everything?” Cori looked to her niece seeing her nod slowly and she smiled reaching for the remote to turn off the television. She turned to her niece and grabbed her hands in hers. Staring out at her with her brown eyes, she shrugged and took in a deep breath. “Knowing that I’m going to be having a baby truly makes me happy.”

“With someone like Nate?” Stacy spoke up seeing the way that Cori stared out at her with her dark eyes while Stacy slightly shrugged. “I mean, he seems like an adorably hot guy and I think he would make a perfect father. Look at how he is with Matt already. He’s a great guy.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more. Having someone like him for my child is a dream come true. He’s committed, charming, sexy, good with kids, funny…there isn’t much not to like about him,” Cori spoke up once she saw her sister walk in and pretended that she didn’t notice Jewel in the back of the room listening in on what she was saying. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this in love with a man before.”

“Really?” Stacy spoke up seeing Cori nod as she looked around the room and took in a deep breath. “To be honest with you…this might sound a little weird, but I’m excited to have a cousin running around here. With you and Nate having a baby, I’m sure it will be adorable.”

“I hope so. We have been using this book lately to try and figure out names we might want for the baby. He hopes for a boy, but deep down I really hope it’s a girl. I’m liking a couple of names and maybe you can help us out,” Cori looked back sneakily trying to hide that she knew her sister was there and she cleared her throat. Sure, she was using her niece, but it was all under good intention. “What do you think it will be? A boy or girl?”

“I don’t know, but I think either one would be great for the two of you,” Stacy watched Cori place the remote aside and turn toward her with a smile. “I think you and Nate will make great parents. You know, I saw every time that he was around you he always seemed to be charmed by you. I should have known that the two of you were together.”

“Together?” Cori half laughed knowing that her sister was getting more boiled each moment they talked about her relationship with Nate. “Yeah, I guess I was just too afraid to admit that the two of us had been together for quite some time.”

“I don’t see why, the two of you make a great couple,” Stacy spoke up only to hear something knock over and she looked behind them to see that her mother had fallen over on the floor. Standing up, she went to help her as Jewel helped herself up. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Jewel seemed to totally walk by her daughter and move on with getting face to face with Cori who was seemingly acting shocked about the movement. “Do you realize how full of shit you are these days?”

“Mom,” Stacy blurted out after seeing the way that Cori had a stunned expression over her face. “Don’t talk like that.”

“I’m sorry, but someone has to call her on her bluff,” Jewel threw her hands up in the air before shrugging her shoulders. Scowling back and looking at Cori again. “I just decided to do it now before everyone finds out that I‘m right.”


“Seriously, how are you feeling?” Russ questioned after the nurse walked out of the exam room leaving him and Avery alone with one another. He looked to the bandage on her hand and felt a tiny shudder of guilt creep in over him for leaving her alone when it was clear that she never would have gotten into the position she was in with Kevin had he stuck around with her.

“I’m okay,” she confessed feeling him bring his arm around her shoulders. She leaned into his chest and closed her eyes letting out a long breath, “I was just afraid for what was going to happen to Kevin. When I thought about the possibility of us never getting out of that cavern and with him being hurt…”

“Everything is going to be okay now,” Russ promised kissing the top of her head as he held her in his arms. “You’re safe now.”

“I might be, but what about Kevin?” she questioned with a worried expression, “Russ you should’ve seen his leg. It was by far one of the most graphic, most horrifying things I’ve ever seen up close like that. What made things worse is when I tried to help him, I couldn’t…”

“You were there when he needed you,” Russ paused looking to the scrub top she was wearing now that her shirt had been destroyed in the cave in. He thought about the wound she’d had on her abdomen and the stitches that she’d required, yet she seemed unphased by her own injuries. “He knows you tried to help him.”

“But it might not be enough,” Avery felt a breath escape from her lips, “We were just trying to find Angela and…”

“Brant found her,” Russ informed her point blank seeing her eyes widen with his admission, “He and Don kept searching for her after you and Kevin left…”

“But how? Brant was shot and…” Avery started thinking back to what she’d witnessed in her hotel room before leaving with Kevin.

“I don’t know how they did it, but they were able to find her and make sure that she was alright,” Russ explained squeezing her closer to him in his arms, “She gave birth to their children as well.”

“So Brant’s…” Avery paused thinking about what that meant for her ex-husband, “he’s a father now?”

“Apparently so,” Russ nodded in response, “Heaven help his children given how he is.”

“Don’t you mean how both of them are?” Avery challenged arching a curious brow. “Kevin damn near killed himself to find her.”

“I know honey, but he’s safe now,” Russ touched her cheek gently, “I know full well that the doctors are going to do their best to help him.”

“He lost so much blood,” she paused remembering her time in the cave with Kevin, “He’s sacrificed everything to help her--to be with her and…”

“And you’re afraid this time it was too much,” Russ finished for her seeing something flicker behind her dark eyes.

“Kevin’s a good man with a good heart, but what he feels for her,” Avery paused attempting to put to words what she’d witnessed from Kevin in the cave, “I think he would truly step aside from any hope for happiness in his life if it meant giving her what she wanted. He would move heaven and earth to save her, yet…”

“You’re wondering where it leaves him and Ria, aren’t you?” Russ couldn’t help but ask surprising her with his question.

Finally she nodded, “I just can’t understand how he could go on loving someone who isn’t capable of giving him the love that he needs. I don’t see how he could spend his life longing for someone who is only going to lead his heart down a dead end road when the woman who could make him happy is right in front of him.”

“I don’t know how to answer that one,” Russ admitted honestly reaching out to touch her cheek, “Kevin might feel that he has something he has to do for Angela because of their child--because of what they lost…”

“He has no idea what he stands to lose if he keeps holding onto a moment that he shared with a woman who can never love him like he wants her to,” Avery added leaning into his touch as Grady entered the room with a slight hesitation.

“Is this a bad time?” he questioned wearily noting the tension on Avery’s face. He glanced over at his brother before taking in a breath, “Because I can leave if…”

“No, it’s fine,” Russ replied with a welcoming tone, “come on in. I was just telling Avery how worried we all were about her when she was missing.”

“Yeah,” Grady pushed his hands into his pockets seeing something flash behind her eyes, “we were all pretty worried that we wouldn’t find you.”

“I’m sure you were haunted by the thought,” Avery couldn’t help but tease with a shake of her head, “Then that might mean you’d need a new partner in the firm.”

“That might’ve proven to be a major problem,” Grady replied with a small smile seeing the way that Avery leaned into Russ. He watched Russ stroke Avery’s hair gently and she nuzzled her head into his chest without hesitation.

“Trust me, we’ll be having her around for a very long time,” Russ announced kissing the top of Avery’s head, “because I have no intentions of letting her go.”

“I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t found us Russ,” Avery admitted tipping her head up to meet his concerned green eyes. She felt his thumb brush against her cheek and she leaned into his caress, “When I heard your voice I thought that maybe I’d died and gone to heaven, but then there you were in a rush of thunder just like you’d been there before when Erin and I needed you.”

“Don’t you know by now that I would always find you,” he questioned in a small tone, leaning in closer to her, “I would move heaven and earth to find you if I had to. Nothing could keep me from you Avery.”

“I know that and if I didn’t, you’d keep finding a way to remind me of that,” Avery leaned up to kiss him again momentarily forgetting that Grady had joined them.

“Okay,” Grady cleared his throat once again, “This really is a bad time. I can come back later.”

“No, no really,” Avery tore her lips away from Russell’s feeling a blush carry over her face. She glanced over at Grady and forced a small smile, “I’m sorry about that. I guess I just was a bit eager to kiss him again since it’s been a couple of days.”

“It felt like an eternity,” Russ replied keeping his arm around her protectively, “but I promise you after our wedding it’s never going to be like that again. I’ll be here to kiss you every morning and every night, to hold you in my arms and be the kind of husband you need…”

“Yeah, um about that,” Grady cleared his throat again trying to remember what it was that had prompted him to visit his brother in the first place. After the phone call he’d received earlier, he knew that he couldn’t wait on cluing them in on what he’d needed to say, yet in seeing them with one another so full of hope for the future, he hadn’t felt the need to rush it either. Still he knew he had to get it out. “About that whole wedding thing, there is something that I need to talk to the both of you about. It’s kind of important.”

“Grady, what is it?” Avery questioned noticing the expression on his face, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s not necessarily that something is wrong, but rather I think that you both need to know the truth that’s been kept from you,” Grady took in a small breath before turning to face his brother with a sudden seriousness, “Russ, you’ve been being deceived from the moment you returned to town and it’s time for me to be honest with you about everything because it may change the outcome of that wedding you have planned for the weekend. I realize that this probably is the last time you should hear this, but it can‘t wait. You need to know the truth.”


“I don’t know what’s taking so long,” Ria mouthed pacing around the hospital waiting room and feeling her worries mount as she remembered the condition Kevin was in when they’d found him in the cave. Turning around to see Don standing behind her she brought her fingers up through her hair, “They should’ve told us something by now Don.”

“Hey, you know what it’s like being on the other side of this situation,” Don stepped forward reaching out to pat her shoulder gently, “I’m sure the doctor that is working on him is doing a top notch job.”

“I could’ve done it myself,” Ria frowned thinking about the man she loved, “I would’ve been able to help him and…”

“Ria, even if we were back in Coral Valley, which we aren’t, you know full well that you are far too emotionally invested in this situation to work on Kevin right now,” Don offered up a small hug knowing full well that his friend had to be torn into pieces at the thought of the man she loved being in surgery.

“Even so I should’ve done something more. Did you see his leg Don?” Ria leaned into the embrace closing her eyes and remembering the unconscious state Kevin had slipped into on the ride over to the hospital, “He was so weak and…”

“And you found him before things got out of hand,” Don reminded her thinking to when he’d seen the paramedics bringing Kevin into the hospital, “From what I heard what you started with him was enough to have him ready for surgery and…”

“And he was trapped for two days,” Ria blurted out taking a step back and feeling a shiver carry over her, “He was in that musty place trapped away from the rest of the world and…”

“And he’s going to be okay,” Don offered up sensing Ria’s worries were mounting, “I have complete faith that Kevin is going to pull through this. Once he does I’m certain that he’ll be more than eager to have you as his nurse tending to him in only the ways that you can do when you’re alone together.”

“Don,” Ria tossed out at him with a small glare, “Please…”

“Hey I saw the two of you in the pool house. I know how it is,” Don winked over at her attempting to make light of the situation, “Sure Kevin might have a cast and some aches and pains, but that won’t stop him from trying to get freaky with you.”

“Oh please,” Ria rolled her eyes in response feeling a heat carrying in over her cheeks, “You’re only hoping you’ll be able to get a pool side view of something like that again.”

“You’re damn right I am,” Don teased with a small laugh seeing the smile that cracked over her lips, “but can you blame me? You two have some major chemistry.”

“Chemistry didn’t bring us together when Kevin needed me the most,” Ria sighed thinking about the man she loved, “He was just so worried about Angela, but I stayed behind because of work and…”

“And Angela is fine,” Don informed her point blank, “Brant and I found her right before you found Kevin. She went into labor and…”

“How are the babies?” Ria questioned thinking about Angela’s tentative pregnancy.

“I’ll have you know that they are safe and sound thanks to yours truly,” Don patted himself on the back before smiling widely, “I was able to put all my skills to the ultimate test thus proving that I am truly the man in that particular situation. Dr. Leveski was at the top of his game and because of it I’ll have you know I was able to bring two beautiful babies into the world. Of course I suppose Angela does get some credit for doing some of the work…”

“Of course,” Ria shook her head at him, “and naturally you’ll be the one singing the praises about your talents while she was the one going through hell in labor.”

“Hey she had Brant to keep her amused. I was just doing what I do best and that’s being a good doctor,” Don continued to explain with sudden seriousness, “which is why as a professional and as your friend, I want you to believe me when I tell you that you should have faith in the staff here. From what I’ve seen thus far I think that they are more than capable to take care of Kevin. Yes, they might not offer up the same gentle tender loving care that you might bring to the table, but I think that he’s going to be okay.”

“I just don’t know,” Ria paused thinking about what she’d had on her mind when she’d braved the storm to make her way out to see Kevin on the island, “It’s just that when I came out here I never anticipated seeing him like this. There was so much that we had to catch up on with one another--so much I wanted to say to him, but…”

“But nothing. You’ll be able to have that opportunity when he’s out of surgery. Trust me Ria. Whatever it is you have to say to Kevin, you’ll be able to do it sooner rather than later once he gets fixed up,” Don offered up supportively as Ria thought back to what she’d discovered in Marie’s apartment.

Closing her eyes Ria thought back to all the various debates that she and Kevin had over the duration of their relationship about Angela. Remembering Kevin’s readiness to be with Angela in the past when Angela needed a hand, Ria couldn’t help but feel a tiny shiver carry in over her. How would he feel in knowing that Angela not only needed him in the past, but would soon need him again in the future when the truth came out that their daughter was still alive? How would it effect Kevin to know that the one thing that tore him and Angela away from one another was still very much a part of this world? Another chill crept in over her as she felt Don’s hand on her shoulder.

“Ria, it’s going to be okay,” Don offered up supportively sensing her uneasiness about the situation, “Kevin’s going to pull through.”

“I hope so,” she nodded in confession before another thought occurred to her, “You mentioned that Brant and Angela were together before.”

Don nodded, “Probably up to their eyeballs in bottles and diapers, which will be an interesting task considering that he took a bullet and she, well as you put it, did all the work in labor.”

“But then that means Angela remembers him, yes?” Ria felt a slight sense of worry carry over her, “She doesn’t think that Kevin is…”

“No, not at all,” Don answered almost immediately, “It appears to me that whatever happened with Craven was enough to jot her memory back to her and I think that she and Brant are finally going to be okay with one another. After they had the twins, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that they are going to make it. Not even Cameron can put a wedge between their family now.”

“Yeah well that’s a good thing,” Ria nodded as her thoughts traveled back to the photograph she’d found at Marie’s place. Taking in a breath she couldn’t help but wonder if she perhaps would be the person who would hold the key to taking that happiness away from Brant now that he’d found his family. Thinking about what it had been like when Angela had no memory of anything other than Kevin, Ria felt another worry creep in over her. Still she had to tell Kevin the truth. She owed him that much.

“Dr. Merhan,” she heard a voice call out to her. Looking up she spotted one of the nurse’s that had promised to give her word on Kevin once he was out of surgery.

“Yes,” Ria rushed forward an eagerness carrying over her, “how is my fiancé?”


Andy snarled down at Michelle as she’d managed to sour his perfectly good opportunity to get two steps forward with his wife without her FBI idiot boyfriend present. Now as he glared down at Michelle, he felt his mood sour even further as she curled her lip in a pout up at him. He tapped his foot impatiently and groaned before looking beyond her for any sign of Deidra, who had rushed off in a haste.

“What the hell could possibly be so important that you had to interrupt that,” he frowned down at her with a disapproving shake of his head.

“I realize that you are at work, but…” Michelle drew in a nervous breath as she looked around the hallway.

“But what? Didn’t I tell you that we needed to keep things low key for a while?” he snapped back at her with an angry glare. Looking around the corridor, he scowled again before seizing her wrist with an angry grip. Pulling her out of the main area, he stepped into an area by an empty bed and pulled the curtain closed to allow them a moment of privacy. “I have things that I’m working on here Michelle and you can’t come up here like this when the mood strikes.”

“I understand that, but Cary…” she pleaded with him.

“Andy,” he snapped squeezing her wrist again before pushing away from her. “I told you that.”

“I know but…” her voice was shaken as she struggled to regain her composure, “Andy it’s just that I couldn’t wait any longer to speak with you because it’s urgent. Something came up and…”

“Yeah about a million and one things came up, but they walked out the door the moment you arrived,” he rolled his eyes at her. “How in the hell do you expect me to make any progress with my wife when you’re lurking around? I’m trying to convince her that I’m a changed man, yet when you show up looking like that…”

“I didn’t really take the time to plan it out,” she admitted with a shaky tone, “It’s just when I heard what was going on I couldn’t just keep this to myself considering that…”

“That what Michelle?” he huffed in response. “What could be so damned important that you had to rush over here and cause a scene when…?”

“I don’t know what’s going on here, but you’re making a huge mistake,” a voice interrupted as both Andy and Michelle stopped speaking. “You’ve got the wrong man.”

“I’m afraid I’m just doing my job,” another voice replied as Andy watched Michelle opening her mouth to say something more.

“Not a word,” Andy held his finger up in the air to silence her before pushing the curtain aside. He glanced down the hallway to see two uniformed officers walking out with what appeared to be Seth Alexander in handcuffs. He peered his head out further to take in the situation further as Michelle tugged on his arm.

“What’s going on?” she questioned attempting to pop her head out to take a look at things, but Andy nudged her back behind the curtain again with a glare.

“Destiny is calling and I don’t have time to sit here with you and wait,” he revealed sharply before pushing the curtain aside and walking off towards the direction of the commotion before Michelle could reveal to him her true motives for arriving at the hospital.

Stepping out into the hallway she felt her heart sink as she knew better than to chase after him. If she was going to explain the situation to him, she would have to wait until he was ready to listen. She just feared that with the erratic way he’d been behaving lately that the day would never arrive for her despite the importance of the news she had to share with him. Still as he disappeared from her view she realized she would simply have to hold off a little bit longer whether she liked it or not.


“You need to relax honey. Like really relax,” Rex spoke up after watching Blake sitting in the hospital bed for the last few minutes and he could tell that she wanted to get up and out of bed so bad. She was very nervous and she had that nervous energy that was lingering, but for her own sake he really wished she would just take a breather to try and calm herself down. She was hurt enough as it was, she didn’t need to hurt any more. “Blake…listen…worrying isn’t going to get you anywhere. You are hurt, you need your rest.”

“I know uncle Rex, but I can’t place my head around something else other than Seth. I want to know what’s going on with him and just sitting here is killing me on the inside,” Blake informed her uncle looking over at him as she inhaled deeply trying to get her nerves to calm down, but she couldn’t help being worried. “I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what’s happening to him and that worries me Rex. I have to go find him.”

Watching her start to pull her wires from her arms he shot up from the chair he was in and pushed her back down to the bed seeing the look behind her eyes as one of the doctors walked back into the room.

“She just accidentally pulled out a wire,” Rex explained seeing the way they came over and fixed them and he could still see the glare she was giving him as he started to step back away from the bed. “You can’t get out of here honey. I’m not going to let you.”

“I can’t just sit here and wait for what’s going to happen to Seth,” she muttered seeing the way he stared out at her before taking in a small breath. “I just can’t sit here waiting for bad news that might be about to happen.”

“I understand honey, but I’m not about to let you leave here. Okay?” he muttered seeing the way she watched him with her blue eyes and he moved forward to run his thick fingers through her long blonde hair. He saw her eyes partially closing and he leaned down to press a soft kiss against her forehead. “Honey…I’ll go to the station and find out what’s going on with Seth.”

“You’d do that?” Blake sighed seeing Rex nod and she grabbed a hold of his hand resting her head to the side. While she wanted to be with Seth, she knew her uncle was right because there was a large amount of pain in her leg that was going on. They also wanted to do a few more tests on her and while she didn’t want to stay there, she knew she would be with Seth soon. Plus, she trusted her uncle. Not many people did, but she always felt that he cared for her more than most people did and she knew that he would help Seth. “Thank you Rex. You have no idea how much that means to me.”

“No, I think I know,” he hushed her while giving her hand a soft squeeze watching her rest her head to the side and he hoped that in the time period she would be able to sleep. “Just rest and I will make sure nothing happens to him. Everything will be alright.”

Taking one last look down at Blake he cleared his throat and moved toward the door to leave her alone for a moment. While he hated to leave her in a time like this, he knew that he had to take care of Seth for her and he would do whatever it took to help Seth.

Once he moved away from the door, he could see Ken sitting in the lobby area in one of the chairs that he knew from self experience killed his back. Sighing, he moved forward and reached out to place his hand over Ken’s back. It almost shocked him in the position that he was in hunched over, but he sat up and looked at him.

“Oh…hey,” was all that Ken could simply say as Rex loosened his tie a bit and ran his right hand through his short blonde hair. “What do you want?”

“I need your help,” Rex spoke up catching the glance that Ken gave him. It was almost like one of those ‘eat shit and die’ looks that people gave when someone they hated asked for help. He knew because he had seen it so many times in the past. “Just hear me out before you run around being a little prick about what you will and won’t do.”

Ken didn’t say a word just sat before him as Rex took in a deep breath trying to figure out how he could ask Ken for some kind of help. There was nothing nice on his mind so he was just going to say what he truly thought. There was no point in bubbling it up to make it sweet.

“Listen, you’re going to come with me because you are a useless dip shit lawyer that never does anything,” Rex said bluntly reaching for Ken’s arm picking him up as they moved toward the door and he could feel Ken sort of dragging behind him. “We’re going to do something with that talent you have there and make something of it.”

“For what reason?” Ken pulled his arm away from Rex and threw his hands up in the air. He refused to go with his uncle like this. Especially after the way he had been treating him for the last few days. “I’m not going with you anywhere with you. I’m staying here for my sister.”

“Listen to me. I wouldn’t be leaving her alone right now if this wasn’t important. This is for her,” Rex started to speak in a calm tone not trying to be aggravated by his nephew’s actions. Shaking his head, he pointed toward the parking lot and shrugged his shoulders. “Now if you would follow me, we’re going to go do something about Seth. We’re going to find out what’s going on with him. Now I will go with or without you. It’s your decision, but I would be putting your sister first and not your selfish own wants.”

There was a moment of silence between them until Ken shook his head and moved forward to follow him toward the parking lot hoping that he could find out what was going on with Seth. He wasn’t doing this for his uncle, but he was certainly doing it for his little sister. So much was already going on in her life and he wasn’t ready for her to go through so much more.

If all of this meant that he had to get over his whole hatred with his uncle and the rest of his family, the he would do it for Blake and Blake alone. No matter how hard it was.


Julian poured himself a cup of coffee thinking about the night he’d put behind him. He’d stopped off at home to take a quick shower and hoped to have seen Olivia for a few minutes before he’d left, but unfortunately neither one of those things had panned out as easily as he’d hoped for. Sure, he’d been able to get his shower after half a dozen calls from the police station came in, but he wasn’t able to see Olivia as it was clear that she hadn’t been home. Moving over to the refrigerator he attempted to write her a quick note on the message board when he heard the door to the apartment open.

“Liv, is that you?” Julian questioned turning around to see his wife entering the living room with her jacket draped over her arm. She moved over to the couch in a haphazard movement before plopping down on it.

Smiling to himself Julian walked over to the cabinet and pulled out another mug to give her some coffee. It was clear that she’d had one hell of a night and even without a word he could see her exhaustion carrying over her. He poured her mug to near the top before walking out into the living room.

“I take it you had the kind of night that I did,” Julian noted stepping in front of her and holding out the mug.

“I would sincerely hope not,” she replied with dark undertones her gaze tipping up to his smiling face. She noticed the mug he was holding out towards her and eyed it suspiciously, “what’s this for?”

“It’s coffee,” Julian held it out towards her once again, “It might perk you up.”

“I would doubt it after last night,” she admitted taking in a breath and sinking back into the couch, “Right now I would kill for a few hours of sleep. If I keep up at this rate, then there is no telling what will become of me…”

“We can’t have you wasting away to nothing,” he leaned forward to kiss her cheek gently before leaning away from her, “Why don’t you go to bed? The place should be quiet for a few more hours since the kids aren’t here.”

“I don’t know if I can. I have to check in with the hospital and…” she paused before letting out a long groan, “Oh screw it, a nap sounds fantastic right about now.”

“Then perhaps you should go with it,” Julian suggested thinking about how tempting his bed and blankets sounded right about now, “I would love to join you in loafing around the apartment, but unfortunately I have to go in to the station.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” she groaned again tipping her head to the side to see him taking a seat beside her, “What crisis is happening now that can’t go on without you?”

“I wish it was something simple, but there’s been a murder,” Julian admitted with a heavy sigh. He raised his own coffee mug to his lips before taking in a breath, “Blake Ashford was hit by a car the other night…”

“I heard about that one,” Olivia nodded in response, “The buzz was all over the hospital about that. Don’t tell me that she died. I’d thought that she was in stable condition…”

“She was, but then someone decided to take justice into their own hands after what happened,” Julian paused a shiver carrying over him, “Turn’s out that last night Valerie Madison was murdered in her hotel room near the edge of town.”

“Oh my God,” Olivia’s jaw dropped horrified at the thought, “You’re kidding me.”

“I wish I were,” Julian sighed again, “as much as I hate to say it I find myself wondering if maybe she got what she deserved, but I know I shouldn’t think like that. It’s not right to think of someone experiencing such a tragic ending.”

“I’m sure that’s how Blake and Seth felt when the woman ran down Blake and murdered their baby,” Olivia noted with a tension carrying in over her jaw line. “That doesn’t seem fair either.”

“I know,” Julian nodded in response setting his mug down, “When I think of someone doing something so horrible--when I imagine what Seth must’ve been experiencing…I mean if someone would’ve done what Valerie did to you or one of the kids, then there is no telling what I would’ve done. I might have done the same thing that he did if it had happened. I’d like to say that I wouldn’t have, but…”

“What do you mean?” she couldn’t help but ask noticing the expression on his face. “Julian, what do you think he did?”

“There was evidence at the crime scene linking him to Valerie,” Julian paused taking in a small breath, “I mean I can’t blame the guy, but in taking the law into his own hands like that…”

“Wait, you think that Seth had something to do with Valerie’s murder?” Olivia’s eyes widened in response.

“Unfortunately given what he’s been through I can’t blame him, but still you can’t just have people taking their own form of justice…” Julian felt his pager going off again. With a frown he reached for it and took a long look at the number, “It’s the station again. I have to get going.”

“Sure,” she nodded biting on her lower lip for a moment, “though you know you might be wrong about Seth. I mean after all Valerie did hurt an Ashford. That in itself would put her on a lot of hit lists.”

“I can’t argue that, but given the fact that it’s clear Seth was with her last night before she died,” Julian paused thinking about what he’d heard on the case, “They were in an argument at a bar and…”

“I’m sure whatever happened to her was something that wasn’t painful enough,” Olivia offered up before growing unusually silent. “I just hope this doesn’t wind up hurting Seth.”

“Given the circumstances it could go either way,” Julian bent down to kiss her on the cheek before stepping back, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she replied watching him head to the door before she reached for the remote control on the television eager to take in the morning’s news on what it was that had happened to Valerie Madison last night. While she was certain she could offer some light on the situation given what she’d learned about Seth Alexander over the last few days, she realized that in doing so she might wind up causing more harm than good.


“Don’t just stand there. He paid to have you in this place, have a little fun,” Mindy looked up after picking up one of the foam bricks. She saw Jason sitting on the edge of the steep area they had just slid down and she shook her head slowly. “Don’t be a party pooper. Just get up and have some fun. Come down here.”

“I’d rather just sit here,” Jason pointed out seeing the look that Mindy gave him and Nate simply shrugged. He moved across the area they were in and picked up a large foam brick lunging it at Jason hitting him in the center of the head. “What was that for?”

“You want to be a baby? Then fine. I’ll be the bully and pick on you,” Nate lunged another at him and this time Jason caught it before sliding down into the play field of foam bricks. He lunged it at Nate and hit him in the shoulder seeing the way Nate laughed as it hit him. “Fine, you want to play like that. Then it’s on.”

“Wait a second, I’m in the middle of this,” Mindy tried to block herself feeling foam hit her left and right as the two continued to lunge the foam pieces at each other. Continuously they hit her when they missed the other man they were going after and she threw her hands up in the air and let out a grunt. “When this wrestling match is over…I’d like to know.”

Again, the two of them ignored her and she let out a grunt as she tried to move out of the way and fell back into the foam staring out at the two boys. Neither one noticed her falling, they just kept throwing stuff at each other constantly.

“That’s it. The first one I get my hands on…I’m going to kill,” Mindy blurted out seeing the way that Nate stared out at her and dropped the foam square that was in his hand. She started to get up and he quickly moved up the side to try and run away from her. When she went to go after him, she felt another piece of foam hit her and she turned to see Jason laughing. “That’s it.”

“Oh shit…,” Jason started to climb up the side and ran toward the maze since it was the first area he saw. He wasn’t quite sure which way to go, but when he heard Mindy not far behind him, he took a quick right and ran into things that looked like punching bags. “Kids actually like this stuff?”

Moving through the maze filled with gags here and there, he finally tripped up a few soft stairs that led to an even bigger ledge higher up above the foam squares that they were just in. It was somewhat of a jump and the only way to go back was inside of the maze area where he would most likely get lost anyways.

“There you are,” Jason heard Mindy behind him and he turned to see her coming at him and he held his hands out in the air. “No, no. Don’t.”

“What? Are you afraid of falling or something?” Mindy tilted her head hearing Jason let out a hesitant laugh before folding his arms out in front of his chest as if he was trying to look cool. She stepped in closer to him seeing the drop behind him and it was really not that far. “Oh come on Jason. A big guy like you being afraid of heights?”

“I’m not afraid of heights,” he felt her slightly push him and he gasped out and cussed a few words before shivering at the thought. “It’s just the falling and smashing against the ground that scares the shit out of me. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t think I would break my neck every time I looked down.”

Taking a moment to go to the edge he looked down and shivered at the idea. Hearing her let out a small laugh he looked over his shoulder to see her running out at him and blocked himself.

“Mindy, no…,” he screeched feeling her lunge herself into him making him fall off the side and into the large bowl structure below them that was filled with the foam squares. When they hit, he let out a small groan with her weight over him and he growled. “That was mean.”

“It was mean, but you are still alive…aren’t you?” Mindy teased running her fingertips along the side of his rough cheek seeing the way that he stared out at her before shrugging his shoulders and pouting. “Oh come on. Don’t be mad at me for making you do something…it may have been not under free will, but I was still doing it for your benefit?”

“My benefit? If I wasn’t worried about you breaking my ribs I would have been screaming like a little school girl,” Jason laughed seeing her smirk as she took in a deep breath and curled her fingers through his short hair. “I think you are just in the mood to pick on me or something.”

“You want me to pick on you?” Mindy saw Jason smile and shake his head slowly and she swat him in the chest as they laid in the foam squares. “That’s what I thought. You don’t want to mess with this because I will become your worst nightmare and you wouldn’t even know it until it was too late.”

“Trust me, I certainly don’t want to mess with you. I know how vicious you can get. I’m not the one to go up against you. You can trust me on that one,” he smirked feeling her hand caressing his cheek and he was almost frozen in the moment when he saw her smile and move down to press a kiss against his cheek. “You’re pretty amazing, you know that?”

“Well, I think you are pretty amazing yourself,” she whispered seeing the way his blue eyes looked up into her almost confused as she moved in closer to him and then the sudden sound of someone screaming had her jumping away from him.

“Bonsai!” Nate screamed jumping into the foam blocks with both Matt and Zane over his shoulders and they laughed when they hit the foam. “I found two little winners while I was running around.”

“Nate, I swear. You are so childish,” Matt stood up and fell back into the foam before shaking his head slowly and clearing his throat. “Very juvenile.”

“Hey, you have to have a little fun here and there. If that means I’m juvenile, then I’m proud to be,” Nate teased picking up Matt in his arms before shrugging his shoulders. “Plus I know you love it…you’re still a young one that likes to have fun.”

“I like to have fun, but to run around screaming blatantly stupid words…,” Matt went to say more before seeing Nate frown and he sighed and rolled his eyes. “Okay, I like it.”

“That’s what I thought,” Nate teased tickling Matt once more before looking up and seeing Jason picking up Zane who was laughing. He shrugged his shoulders before looking to Mindy who pushed back her long, dark hair. “Did we interrupt something between the two of you?”

“No, nothing,” Mindy quickly spoke up as Jason looked over at her with his blue eyes and nodded while she cleared her throat. “It was great to see you guys.”

“Yeah, well…,” Nate felt his phone vibrating and he set Matt down to look at his phone and he let out a small sigh. “I guess I’m going to have to go and see Cori soon. So, this might be my last few minutes with you guys.”

“Oh really? That’s too bad,” Jason spoke up and sure he was a little bit…obvious about how he felt, but he really didn’t enjoy having Nate around all the time. It was the man that got him into this whole gay situation with Mindy in the first place, making him dislike him more. “It was nice spending time with you though.”

“Yeah,” was all that Nate could say catching onto the heavy sarcasm as he looked to Matt who shrugged his shoulders and folded his arms out in front of his chest. “I see.”


“Mom,” Stacy blurted out trying to get her to back off of her pregnant aunt knowing that if a fight were to occur it wouldn’t be good for the baby. She knew that when her mother got into fights, she would never back down and this wasn’t a fight she wanted her mother to continue with or win. “Just back off. Leave her alone.”

“Go in another room or something because this is between Cori and I,” Jewel motioned her daughter to back off and go somewhere else. She turned back to see Cori shaking her head as if she was in some kind of disbelief. “Don’t shake your head at me like that. You know what I’m talking about. You know I’m right.”

“What I do know is that you shouldn’t talk to your daughter like that. She’s just trying to make it so we don’t get into a fight. You shouldn’t treat her bad for that,” Cori looked to Stacy who was standing in the corner of the room as if she had no idea what to do at the very moment. “You obviously don’t make her happy when you talk to her like that. That’s one thing I know I would never do to my child. Talk to her like that.”

“Don’t tell me how to talk to my daughter,” Jewel snapped back at Cori as she heard her own daughter sigh and she looked back to see Stacy shrug her shoulders. “I know how to parent my daughter. You don’t need to be stepping in on everything I say all the time.”

“Then you don’t need to be talking to me like that. Clearly your daughter doesn’t like the way you talk to me either,” Cori pointed out and she saw Jewel move forward at her like she was about to hit her and Cori held her hands up a bit. “Please. You don’t want to be coming around me with the baby. You could hurt someone or yourself. Or the baby. That wouldn’t be good, would it?”

“It would certainly wipe that ugly smirk off your face,” Jewel shook her head in disbelief before throwing her hands up in the air and grunting. “I know what you are thinking and it’s not working. You think that by taking advantage of Nate you are going to piss me off. The poor boy doesn’t even realize you are pulling him in for a ride. This is someone else’s baby and you are just taking advantage of him because he’s nice.”

“Mom,” Stacy blurt out once more surprised with the tone of her mother’s voice and was shocked with the things she was saying to Cori. “Leave her alone. Just because you are jealous she has Nate and you can’t screw him doesn’t mean you have to be a bitch to her.”

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that,” Jewel went to turn around and stare her daughter in the eye and her obvious quickness made Cori reach out to grab her arm so she didn’t slap her daughter. “You can’t talk to me like that. Do understand me? I’m your mother and you can never talk like that to me…let go of my arm.”

“No,” was all that Cori could simply say as she shook her head and watched her sisters obvious violence raging and she took in a deep breath. “Stacy, leave the room before your mother does something that she will regret for the rest of her life.”

“You act like you are so great, you know that? Nate never wanted you,” Jewel spat back seeing the way Cori simply shook her head and took in a deep breath. “You are just some whore than stepped in on his life.”

“What is wrong with you?” Stacy stepped back watching her mother lash out at Cori and she shook her head at the thought of how her mother was acting. “I can’t believe you. Nate and Cori are perfect together. You know why? Because anyone is better off with somebody else in their lives. You would be the worst thing that ever happened to him because you do that to everybody. You ruin everyone’s life. Including mine.”

“Stacy,” Jewel sighed knowing that Cori would be smug with how this turned out. She knew that deep down that Cori set this whole thing up to make her jealous. To say how great her and Nate would be together knowing that Jewel was listening. It worked too. “Come on.”

“No, I’m serious. You are the worst thing that happened to my life. You know what dad tells me when I ask him what happened in his life?” Stacy questioned seeing the way that Jewel folded her arms out I front of her chest. “Dad tells me that I’m the best thing that ever happened in his life. That I was the best thing that ever happened to him. When I ask you, you always tell me your stupid cooking show. I’m sick of it. You know, he may not be the best father in the world, but he loves me. A whole lot more than you do.”

“Your father is not better than I am,” Jewel heard the doorbell ring and Cori finally let go of Jewel’s arm and Stacy shook her head taking one last look at her mother. Moving back toward the door, she opened it and saw her father before her. When Jewel saw Stacy jump into Paul’s arms, she shook her head at the thought and looked to Cori who shook her head moving toward the two. “Great.”

“I was just talking about you,” Stacy spoke up feeling Paul hugging her in his arms tightly before spinning her around. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m home to see my daughter,” Paul kissed her forehead gently and let her down in his arms before shrugging his shoulders. “I missed you so much. I’m back in town and I’m staying. God…I missed you so much.”

Seeing Paul hugging their daughter, Jewel folded her arms out in front of her chest and rolled her eyes. Of course now would be the moment where Stacy would say that her father was her hero. After just a conversation she wanted to have with her own sister. It figured that it would all…lead to this.


“I can take care of this on my own,” Ken snapped pushing his way past Rex through the double doors at the police station. “I’m perfectly capable of getting to the bottom of the situation.”

“Yeah, it shows sonny,” Rex rolled his eyes at Ken. “If you handle your court cases the way you handle your women then Seth is in big trouble.”

“Look Rex,” Ken stopped turning around to glare at his uncle with a snarl.

“I’m just calling it like I see it,” Rex informed Ken with a shake of his head. “Even now you’re wasting time instead of getting down to business.”

“I’d be taking care of the situation sooner if you weren’t harassing me about this,” Ken emphasized with a disapproval in his voice. “I would be able to focus on Seth if you weren’t so insistent upon stalking me all of a sudden.”

“Stalk you,” Rex roared with laughter. “Ken your life isn’t half as exciting as mine is, so why in the world would I want to follow you around? You know as well as I do I’m here for Blake.”

“Then start acting like it,” Ken warned sharply as he spotted Dave out of the corner of his eyes. Without hesitation Ken marched over towards the police chief and spoke up emphatically. “Warner we need to talk.”

“Ken,” Dave spoke his former friend’s name as a frown creased over his lips.

“Where’s Seth Alexander?” Ken questioned harshly. “What have your men done with him after they stormed into the hospital without warrant and decided that the best tactic was using brute force to pull him out of my sister’s hospital room without so much as an explanation why? I smell a setup, which doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for this department considering you’ve had a vendetta against my family for months now. So tell me Dave? Is this your new low in going after Blake to try to hurt me when everything else hasn’t worked?”

“Whoa, back up a second Ken,” Dave waved his hands around in the air. “This investigation has nothing to do with our personal situation and it most certainly isn’t about you.”

“Then what is it about Dave? You trying to make a mockery of your men all over again by arresting an innocent man with some trumped up charges?” Ken challenged with an icy glare.

“There’s nothing trumped up about Valerie Madison’s murder,” Dave answered matter of fact.

“What does that have to do with my client?” Ken tossed back at him sharply. “If anything Seth and Blake are the victims of Valerie’s madness, so why is he here under arrest?”

“Because he’s the last person to have seen Valerie before she died,” Dave informed him point blank. “We received a 911 call last night placing Seth outside of a bar where witnesses say Valerie was less than an hour before her murder. Seth’s on tape demanding that action is taken or else he’ll…”

“What?” Ken challenged.

“It was a rather incriminating message he left with the dispatcher,” Dave explained cryptically, “and it doesn’t look good on his behalf.”

“Neither does letting a woman walk the streets after she tried to murder Blake, but then again justice only works one way in this town, doesn’t it?” Ken spat out in Dave’s direction. “Once the name Ashford is in the mix you stop following your moral code and start doing what you can to get the wheels of justice spinning in the opposite direction, don’t you?”

“Give me a break Ken,” Dave rolled his eyes at Ken’s words. “You know as well as I do…”

“That your department is losing it’s credibility each day and I’m not about to let you railroad my family in the hopes of building it up again,” Ken mouthed sourly before standing up taller. “You might think your game is working but it’s going to come back to bite you Dave. Mark my words on that.”

“Ken…” Dave started again watching as Ken turned away and marched across the police station in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the situation with Seth while Rex stood watching the aftershocks of the words exchanged between the two men.

“I guess it’s safe to say you two aren’t best friends anymore, huh?” Rex noted with a dry laugh as Dave threw his hands up in the air and groaned. A moment later Dave walked away and slammed the door to his office with a resounding thud causing Rex to chuckle with mild amusement. “Oh yeah, definitely not friends.”


Andy stepped into Blake’s hospital room knowing full well that the police had cleared everyone out when the nurse was in with Blake. Now, however, Andy was taking full advantage of the fact that he was Blake’s doctor on the scene. He’d watched the police tote Seth away down to the station, citing him as the one who had destroyed Valerie Madison, but right now that was of no relevance to Andy. What was important was what was waiting for him inside the hospital room.

Pushing open the door to the room in front of him, Andy found Blake seated on the bed looking out the window beside her. Her long hair framed her face shielding her from his eyes, but it was clear that she was crying by the soft sounds she’d made. Carefully he closed the door behind himself giving them a moment of privacy between them. He approached her bed watching her reach up weakly to wipe at her face.

“If you’ve come in here to ask me any questions about Seth, then you and the rest of your police force can go straight to hell,” Blake spat out turning her head to glare at Andy only to find herself surprised to see him standing in front of her, “Andy…”

“Not who you were expecting huh?” Andy reached out to the box of Kleenex on the table beside her. He offered it to her and saw the expression on her face as she sat still before him. He reached into the box and pulled out a Kleenex for her. Handing it to her, he moved forward, “I promise I won’t take too long in here if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“No, it’s not you,” she shook her head at him before sighing. She reached out for the Kleenex dabbing at her cheek before taking in a small breath, “It’s just…”

Andy watched her break into tears again before he nodded, “I know. I saw them take him out of here.”

“But why?” Blake questioned in a low, hollow tone. “Why would they do that? Why would they think that he could do something like that to her?”

“She killed your child Blake. She tried to murder you and any man in Seth’s position would’ve been driven beyond the point of no return,” Andy informed her with a shake of his head reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “What man wouldn’t want to seek out retribution for what that woman did to you?”

“Seth wouldn’t do that,” Blake insisted firmly tipping her head up to reveal her bloodshot blue eyes to him, “he’s not that kind of man.”

“Losing the things that matter the most to you in the world changes a person,” Andy noted seeing her devastation. He squeezed her shoulder again before leaning in closer to her, “No one can really blame Seth for doing what he did.”

“He didn’t do it. He wouldn’t kill her!” Blake snapped at him, her voice raising with obvious emotion. “He doesn’t have it in him to be that kind of a monster.”

“Blake when they arrested him, I heard someone say he didn’t deny it,” Andy offered up seeing her cringe at the thought, “I even heard something along the lines of him not being able to account for where he was last night. We know he wasn’t with you.”

“Look he was…” Blake found herself at a loss knowing full well she didn’t have the kind of answer that she was so desperately seeking. She opened her mouth to speak up again, but stopped herself as her tears overcame her, “Why is this happening to us? What did we do to deserve all of this?”

“Nothing Blake,” Andy moved in to embrace her despite any initial protests she might’ve had. He felt her tense up in his arms before she sank into his chest overcome by her tears.

“All we wanted to do was get married and have a family. What was so wrong with that?” Blake continued to sob feeling as if her world was being shattered all over again with Seth’s arrest. “How could this happen?”

“I don’t know Blake. I wish I had answers for you, but I can promise you that you’re not alone,” Andy curled his finger underneath her chin urging her to meet his eyes. “I promised you a while ago if you ever needed me I would be here and now that you need a friend more than ever…”

“She already has one,” Sarah’s voice cut through his proposal, her dark eyes narrowing in at Andy. “Blake, honey sorry I’m late.”

“Sarah thank God,” Blake shifted out of Andy’s embrace and turned to her best friend, “The police were here and they arrested Seth. They are saying that he murdered Valerie, but I know that couldn’t be possible. There is no way that…”

“It’s okay honey. We’ll get to the bottom of this,” Sarah promised glancing over at Andy for a brief moment before speaking up again in a curt tone, “Thank you for keeping her company Dr. Byrne, but I can assure you that she is in good hands right now that I’m here.”

“I was actually going to give her another examination and…” Andy started walking over to the side of the bed and eyeing Sarah curiously.

“I’m sure it can wait since it seemed like you were in no real hurry to get to it,” Sarah placed her hands on her hips unable to detract from the feeling that ate away inside of her after seeing Andy with his arms around Blake. “I’m sure what Blake needs right now is a friend who is able to listen to her. Surely you can return later to finish whatever check up you were contemplating.”

“Fair enough,” Andy nodded before glancing over at Blake, “If you need anything--anything at all, you know how to reach me.”

“Thank you,” Blake nodded in response feeling him squeeze her hand before he glared at Sarah and walked out of the room.

“What is it? The day for all the losers to come out of the woodwork to harass you now that Seth isn’t here?” Sarah scowled unable to shake the vibe that Andy had given her. “Look Blake I know that right now you’re hurt, but maybe you should request another doctor. I don’t really trust that guy considering that…”

“Right now all I care about is Seth and helping him. Sarah the police are wrong. I’m certain that he didn’t murder anyone. I know him better than that…” Blake started to plead with her.

“I know honey, but you need to take a breath and try to relax. I’m sure that Ken will find a way to fix this situation and…” Sarah started thinking about Blake’s brother.

“Valerie tried to kill me,” Blake pointed out with a long breath, “who is to say that when she realized that she failed that she tried to set Seth up? He wouldn’t have killed her. I know that and so does anyone that knows him. I know the police are wrong.”

“Of course they are honey, but…” Sarah began again.

“No buts,” Blake shook her head firmly, “Sarah I don’t care what I have to do, but somehow I have to find a way to prove to the world that Seth is innocent. He didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sure of it.”


“Grady, what’s going on?” Russ questioned worriedly sensing the hesitation in his brother’s tone, “What is it you need to tell me?”

“Look Russ there is no easy way to put this considering that all you and Avery have been through,” Grady paused glancing over at Avery, then back to Russ again, “but…”

“But what?” Russ couldn’t help but ask again tension creeping in over his tone, “Grady, what’s going on?”

“Grady,” Avery half questioned seeing something flash behind his green eyes. Grady offered up an apologetic expression before turning to Russ again.

“Look I realize that right now you’re both eager to catch up with one another after Avery and Kevin’s disappearing act, but this is something that I just couldn’t let go any longer,” Grady continued taking in a long breath, “I’m sorry to be the one to do this, but…”

“But what?” Russ questioned again giving his brother a long look, “Grady, what’s going on? What do you have to tell me?”

“It’s just that,” Grady paused eyeing Avery once again before speaking up, “When you were gone Russ a lot of things changed. A lot of things happened in town and life was really different without you in it. We all did some really stupid things and made mistakes--mistakes that we’ll have to live with the rest of our lives, but…”

“Grady,” Avery interrupted watching him closely before making a small forward movement, “If this is about the way that you and I were fighting before Russ died, then I hope you know that it’s in the past…”

“No Avery, this isn’t about that,” Grady paused contemplating his words for a long moment, “I mean the way I see it Avery that is water under the bridge between us. A lot of things happened to change my outlook on life and I owe that in part to you--to your helping me when Russ was dead. When I hit rock bottom you pulled me back to steady ground again and I will always owe you for that…”

“Grady, it’s okay,” Avery started uneasily turning to look at Russ again.

“No, it’s not,” Grady shook his head firmly, “I mean I know I gave you both so much grief over the years and I’m sorry for that. Russ you have no idea how many times I wish I could’ve taken back how I’d failed you as a brother.”

“Grady you never failed me,” Russ blurted out honestly offering up a small smile, “Sure you infuriated the hell out of me every now and then but I would never consider it failing me as a brother. I love you and if you weren’t here especially after everything that played out after my return, then I don’t know what I would’ve done. Hell, I don’t know what we would’ve done without you. You and Kyle helped us bring Erin into the world and…”

“It’s because of Erin that I’m here now,” Grady rubbed his palms together before taking in a breath, “She deserves for her parents to have a clean slate with one another and I’m trying to give that to you now by putting closure on the past.”

“Okay you’ve lost me,” Russ began again with a sudden uneasiness. “If this is your way of apologizing for being a jerk the last time Avery and I were married, then you’re forgiven. As long as this time you don’t attempt to stop the wedding, then we’ll be all good.”

“I’ll go a step further and tell you that when I’m finished saying what I need to say, there won’t be a need for the wedding,” Grady blurted out catching the surprised expression on both Russ and Avery’s faces. Finally Russ spoke again a bit of an agitated tone carrying over him.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Russ couldn’t help but ask his brother. “Grady, I thought that you’d said you’d moved on past not wanting Avery and I together…”

“I have,” Grady started to explain before sensing what his brother thought was happening. Finally he shook his head quickly and offered up an explanation, “Oh no. No, that’s not…it’s not…”

“Not what?” Russ frowned down at his brother, “Your way of trying to tell Avery and I not to go through with a wedding? Grady, look man I know that you weren’t happy the last time, but you said it yourself you’ve evolved past hating Avery and…”

“No, Russ you’re not getting it. I’m not saying any of this to keep you from getting married,” Grady blurted out quickly hearing the irritation level rising in his brother, “I came in here to tell you that a wedding wasn’t necessary because I just got off of the phone with a few of the locals around here to talk about the upcoming wedding and it turns out that you and Avery had the wool pulled over your eyes.”

“I don’t understand,” Avery spoke up placing her good hand on the center of Russell’s chest, “Grady, what do you mean?”

“When Hart told the both of you that your marriage was invalid and that Avery was legally married to Brant, he was bluffing,” Grady informed them point blank.

“Wait, what?” Russell’s eyes widened in response, “Grady as much as we would’ve liked to believed that to be true in our hearts, Avery went through the divorce and…”

“And Hart was grasping at straws. Everything that he wrote up on the divorce was nothing more than a fabricated story he worked through with Brant I’m sure. Brant was so desperate to hold onto Avery that I would imagine he would’ve told Avery that he was the second coming of our lord if it was what was needed to keep Avery at his side. Hart was able to bribe a clerk to draw up some fake documents and…”

“And you’re saying that Russ and I have always been married?” Avery’s jaw dropped thinking about what Grady was saying to them.

“I’m telling you that whether I like it or not you’ve been my sister-in-law for quite some time and not even Brant and his cronies were able to change that,” Grady explained reaching into his pocket and pulling out the fax that he’d had sent over to the hotel for Russ and Avery to see, “Everything that you signed in Coral Valley was nothing more than an illusion that Hart cooked up. Your divorce settlement was just another smoke and mirrors movement used as a tool to stall for time on Brant’s end. The fact to the matter is that you never divorced Brant because you were never married to Brant in the legal sense.”

“Then you’re saying that…” Russ couldn’t help but realize thinking about what his brother was telling them.

“That Hart pulled a big bluff on us and broke about half a dozen rules along the way to put it into perspective, but it didn’t change the truth about who Avery’s real husband was and according to these,” Grady motioned to the papers he’d handed over to his brother, “Avery’s had one husband and one husband alone and that’s you Russ. It’s always been just you.”


“Knock knock,” Don tapped on the door to Angela’s hospital room popping his head inside to see her and Brant with the twins on the hospital bed. He tiptoed into the room upon seeing that Alison was sleeping on her father’s chest, while Brant had his arm around Angela and their son seemed to be interested in the bottle that Angela was feeding him. She offered up a small smile before Don moved across the room to join them. His grin expanded as he spoke up in a small whisper, “I see this is where the party is at in the hospital huh?”

“More like you’re getting the tail end of it,” Brant offered up with a small yawn motioning to his daughter who was comfortable on his chest.

“If that’s the case, then now I feel offended that I wasn’t invited sooner,” Don offered up with a small smile glancing down at Alison, “She looks like she had more than her share of a good time today.”

“He’s on his way out as well,” Angela pulled the bottle out of her son’s mouth watching his eyelids grow heavy as he cuddled in closer to the warmth of her curves.

“Damn, I really must’ve missed a good time,” Don couldn’t help but tease further before circling around the bed to kiss Angela on the cheek, “So how are you feeling sexy?”

“Better now that you’re here handsome,” she teased with a small smile of her own, “I mean it’s not every day that I get lucky enough to have the two sexiest men in the world doting on me completely.”

“Well get used to it because I’m sure that it’s only the beginning,” Brant whispered leaning over to kiss her cheek gently, “especially since Don has a vested interest in all of this.”

“I wouldn’t want to walk away from my adorable namesake,” Don glanced over at Alison who appeared not to have a care in the world, “or this little guy either.”

“They both like having you around just like we do,” Angela noted with a small yawn, “So tell me did you ever get in touch with Shannon and tell her all the good you brought into the world?”

“Shannon’s, well Shannon,” Don waved his hand dismissively before offering up a smile, “That’s irrelevant right now.”

“In other words she told you to go to hell like always huh?” Brant frowned thinking about his best friend’s wife. “She won’t ever cut you a break, will she?”

“She just has…” Don searched for the right word before settling on the best he could find, “issues.”

“That’s putting it mildly,” Brant scoffed in response catching the look that Angela gave him, “Well it’s true. I mean her husband was a hero in helping bring our children into the world, but I’m sure all she could talk about was how wrong Don was for coming out here to help me find you.”

“She’ll change her tune when she sees the proof of your good deed right before her very eyes,” Angela offered up with a hopeful expression causing Don to shake his head ever so slightly.

“Yep, it’s official,” Brant reached out to touch Angela’s cheek with mock humor in his tone, “You still haven’t regained all of your memory yet because if you had you’d know full well that there is no reasoning with Shannon when she gets in a mood.”

“I remember Shannon plenty,” Angela wrinkled her nose at the memory of Don’s wife, “but there is still plenty of time for change. I mean look at us.”

“You think we’ve changed?” Brant arched a curious brow before winking down at her, “Honey when I first met you all I could do is find myself wanting to reach out to you and, well you know the rest. That hasn’t changed.”

“Good point, but still we’ve evolved,” Angela motioned to the twins in their arms, “We have a reason to grow up and be responsible now.”

“You can still be responsible without losing the fun in a relationship,” Angela noted hearing Don laugh at the suggestion.

“She’s got a point there. I mean look at me I have Matty, but I’m still a big freak when it comes to…” Don stopped himself a second thought overtaking him, “never mind. You get the picture.”

“Unfortunately it’s far more clearer than I would like it to be,” Brant teased with a shake of his head, “but seriously you can’t talk that way around my children. We want to give them the illusion that you are almost respectable.”

“Why deceive them from the start?” Angela joked before looking to Don again, “Seriously though how are you?”

“Amazingly well now that I get to see these two,” Don paused before remembering what he’d witnessed downstairs, “but I wish I could say the same for Ria. She’s a wreck.”

“What about Kevin?” Angela couldn’t help but ask thinking about her best friend. “How is he doing?”

“He just got out of surgery,” Don explained with a small sigh, “Ria and I were waiting for word on him, but it looks like everything is going to be okay. Having Avery there with him probably saved his leg even though I’m sure neither one of them realized it at the time.”

“I just can’t believe that Craven left him there to die,” Angela shuddered thinking about what she’d witnessed before she’d escaped from Craven keeping her hostage. “He’s so cold and evil and I thought Kevin had died…”

“You were able to save him too by telling Kyle and Russ where to find him and Avery,” Don reminded her seeing something flash behind her eyes, “the mere fact that you could pinpoint that particular cavern among the others is incredible considering that…”

“It wasn’t that incredible,” she interrupted with a small frown, “I knew that place because Kevin and I had history there.”

“History?” Brant repeated with an arched brow.

“Yeah history, but that’s not what matters right now. All that is important is that Kevin is safe and that he’s going to be okay,” Angela continued thinking about her fallen friend, “When I’m able to I want to go see him and let him know that I’m grateful that he helped you both come after me. I know if he wasn’t trying to save me from myself and Craven that he wouldn’t have been hurt and…”

“And Kevin wouldn’t blame you for what happened,” Brant offered up squeezing his arm around her gently, “He’s your friend and he would do a lot of things to help you.”

“I know, but I’m not a very good friend to him,” Angela decided feeling flashes of the last few months carry over her, “Time and time again I have lead him astray. Hell, when I woke up and thought we were engaged that had to play hell on his relationship with Ria. I’m surprised she didn’t kill me.”

“Not for lack of trying,” Don noted thinking about Ria’s mounting frustrations over the time they had to pretend that Angela and Kevin were together.

“Don,” Brant threw out a warning look.

“What? It’s the truth,” Don shrugged his shoulders simply, “I mean I’m not lying.”

“It’s okay,” Angela nodded accordingly, “I know that I hurt a lot of people with what happened and I can’t even begin to apologize enough for what I’ve done.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Brant reached out to touch her cheek gently, “You were confused and in the confusion we had a lot of things happen, but ultimately the most important thing that happened is right here right now with our children.”

“You’re right,” Angela nodded looking down at the babies beside her, “I don’t know what I would’ve done if anything would’ve happened to them. They have been what’s kept me going for all these months.”

“And they’ll keep you going the rest of your life,” Don promised her leaning in to take a closer look at the sleeping twins as Angela thought about Kevin wondering how he was doing now that he’d had to deal with Craven trying to kill him not once, but twice in this lifetime.


Ria entered Kevin’s hospital room thinking about how close she’d come to actually losing them when they both had so much left unsaid between them. When he’d taken off with Brant she’d been furious, but now as she saw him laying before her in the hospital bed looking quite pale, she couldn’t help but feel her heart sink. Taking in a breath she moved in over to his bedside taking her time to inspect his bandages before she moved in closer to him. She ran her fingers through his dark hair, memorizing the lines of his tired face as her heart sank.

“Oh Kevin,” she sighed thinking about how far time had separated him and how things could’ve turned out differently for them. Feeling tears swelling behind her dark eyes she continued to run her fingers through his hair gently before speaking up, “You scared the life out of me.”

She paused for a moment feeling a lump of emotion in the back of her throat. Remembering the way she’d felt in Coral Valley when she’d entered Marie’s apartment to discover the truth about his daughter, she knew now those emotions paled in comparison to how it had felt in thinking that she could lose him.

“You have no idea how worried I’ve been,” she confessed moving in beside him. She sat on the edge of his bed, reaching out to trace the side of his face with a sigh, “Kevin, I missed you so much and you have no idea how afraid I was when they said you were missing.”

Kevin lay still beside her, his eyes still closed, his lips pressed together in silence as her fingertip traced over his mouth.

“I love you so much and when I think about the idea of losing you,” she paused unable to repress the tears that carried over her, “Adonis you really worried me. I hate feeling vulnerable and thinking that I could lose something important in my life, but every time we fight--every time we pull away from one another, I feel like my world is falling to pieces. I know when we fight we usually make up, but when they told me you were missing…Kevin, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to do other than pray like anything that I would find you. I couldn’t imagine not seeing your face again. I knew I couldn’t live without your smile.”

Ria stopped herself feeling her heart sink at the sight of how he seemed lost in his slumber before her, “Kevin I could use one of your smiles right about now. I could use your goofy grin and some beyond cheesy joke about how you’d like nothing more than to get on top of me or have me on you. I would love to give you strawberry pancakes and tell you over and over again how my life without you in it wasn’t worth living. You showed up in my life when I didn’t want or need something wonderful, but somehow you managed to work your way into my heart and make me love you. Kevin, you have no idea how long I wanted to have something like this, but I was too stubborn to admit it. I was too lost inside myself to realize just how much I love you.”

Ria paused for another moment before reaching out to ease her fingers through his dark, silken tresses once again, “Kevin, I love you so much and when I think about what it would’ve been like to lose you, I don’t know what I would do. I can’t even begin to imagine having to go through my life without you which is why this makes everything so difficult right now. I mean here you are recovering from a near fatal injury and I’m sitting beside you as someone who holds the key to your future--to giving you all the happiness in the world, but I’m terrified of that Kevin. I’m so afraid of what is going to happen when you know what I know and to make matters worse I hate myself for not being able to just share with you what I came all this way to tell you. I know you need to know the truth, but I’m just so afraid that when I say it that you’re going to leave my life again. I’m afraid that you’re not going to love me anymore because I’m not what you wanted…I’m not what you’ve been holding out hope for all of these years…”

Ria stopped herself releasing him long enough to wipe at the tears on her face. She took in a small breath before speaking up again, “I don’t want to be selfish Kevin. I don’t want to lie to you because you would never do it to me, but I’m so afraid that after everything is said and done that you’ll choose her, which is well within your rights to do, but I just wish… I guess I just hoped that…”

Ria stood up feeling a chill carry over her. She started to pace around the room straining to put to words what was eating away at her insides. She turned to look to Kevin again and let out a low, agitated groan, “Damn it Kevin I love you so much that I can’t even begin to think about my life without you. I want you all to myself. I want to be able to wake up with you beside me every morning telling me that everything is going to be okay for us. I want to be able to share all of my silly stories, my hopes and dreams and most of all I want you. I’ve always wanted just,” Ria moved forward stepping in beside the bed and looking down upon him, “you. But things are just so damn difficult.”

Ria dropped her head feeling a sigh spill over her lips now that she’d felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. She closed her eyes attempting to hold back on her fears now that she knew it wasn’t the time to be letting loose like this on him. She repressed the sob that built in the back of her throat and found herself trying to pull herself together until she felt a faint brush against her fingers that now rest over the railing on his bed.

Opening her eyes she realized Kevin’s fingers were pressing over hers. She watched his eyelashes flutter a bit before his lips parted. A sigh spilled over his lips causing a low rumble to fill the air surrounding them as Ria’s jaw dropped open.

“They wouldn’t be so difficult if you would just shut up and climb into bed with me,” Kevin mouthed in a weak voice, his brown eyes opening enough to gaze up at her before a smile teased over the corners of his mouth.

“Kevin,” she couldn’t help but gush watching the way he smiled up at her. Tears clouded her eyes as she felt his fingers curl around her palm urging her in closer to him.

“If you don’t kiss me Ria, then I’m sure I’m going to die on the spot,” he couldn’t help but tease with a low, muted laugh, “oh that hurts…”

“Serves you right for thinking wayward thoughts right about now,” Ria leaned forward to press a small kiss against his lips. She felt him raise his hand to stroke her cheek gently before pushing her hair away from her face. As they parted he smiled up at her with a look of love and longing.

“There is nothing wayward about my loving you,” he replied honestly taking in a small breath, “Now give a dying man his last request and get into bed with me.”

“You’re not dying. They were able to fix you up in surgery,” Ria informed him with a small smile loving the feel of his touch against her cheek.

“Fine, then do a horny man a favor and wiggle that body of yours in next to me long enough to give me something good to dream about,” Kevin suggested with a playful expression inching over to urge her to move in beside him.

“You know right now I think that should be the last thing on your mind given that you hurt your leg Kevin,” Ria tossed out a firm, warning look.

“It was my leg and I’m sure I’m stitched up,” Kevin curled his lip in protest, “besides once you slide in underneath the blankets with me I’m pretty sure that you’ll see the rest of me is working just fine.”

“Kevin,” Ria shook her head and laughed, “and here I thought that I was going to lose you forever.”

“You’re going to lose me if you don’t get into bed with me because I don’t know how much longer I can hold onto all of this,” he motioned down beneath the blanket, “I’ve been waiting for you since the night I wanted you to call me.”

“Well you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer Romeo because I’m not about to jump your bones after surgery,” she wrinkled her nose at him before moving in to the side of the bed, “but if you play nice I’ll stay close to you for a while.”

“I never play nice,” Kevin curled his arm around her careful not to pull the wires out of his other arm while he shifted to make room for her, “You should know that by now.”

“What I know is you gave me the scare of a lifetime Adonis,” she informed him a sudden seriousness in her tone.

“Fine, then let me be the first to give you every opportunity in the world to let me prove to you that I’m going to never do it again,” Kevin whispered reaching out to touch her face gently before leaning in to kiss her, “I love you Ria.”

“I love you too Kevin,” she confessed feeling him pull her in closer to him, “I love you so much. I don‘t want to lose you.”

“You’re never going to lose me because you mean too much to me for me to ever let you go,” Kevin promised kissing her once again as Ria wondered if that would really prove to be true once she told him about the daughter he’d believed was taken from his world all those years ago. As she continued to kiss him, she savored the moment hoping that this wouldn’t be their last after he heard all about the deception that Marie had pulled over him and Angela all those years ago. Feeling the warmth of him beside her she just prayed that once everything was said and done that she would be able to keep holding onto the hope for her happily ever after with Kevin.


...to be continued...