Episode 424

“So remind me what we are doing here again,” Trisha muttered following Mindy up the driveway to Russell and Avery’s place while they were away on this vacation. They were planning on going to a few stores, but Mindy wanted to make sure she made a stop here first as Trisha sighed heavily. “You never really said what we were doing at their house for while they were gone. Just said ‘have to take care of some things’. That is never very helpful. Do they know you are going into their house while they aren’t here?”

“You know what I’m doing here, I told you the other day,” Mindy sighed heavily reaching for the key that was under the pot on their front porch. Looking back at Trisha, she could see that she seemed to genuinely be confused about already knowing what she was doing. “They have a cat and I take care of him when they are gone.”

“Oh…you told me that?” Trisha muttered watching her friend nod before sliding the key into the door and she sighed tossing her hands up in the air. “I don’t know what I was doing then, but obviously I wasn’t paying attention.”

“Good to know I’m not good enough to listen to,” Mindy teased moving aside allowing Trisha room to get through the doorway and to step into the house before closing the door behind her. “It’s a good thing to know.”

“Or I just don’t remember. My memory is just…,” Trisha looked around the large house finding herself cutting off on her words as she stood in awe of how big and nice it was. “Blah.”

“Good to know,” Mindy smirked snapping her fingers and whistling a bit to see if Rusty would come for her. Clapping her hands together, she saw Trisha starting to walk off in the other direction as Rusty came prancing down the hallway. “Come here Rusty, come here baby.”

“This is a really nice place,” Trisha moved out of the kitchen to see the cat on the edge of the couch tipping up on it’s paws to get pet by Mindy. The sound of his purring could be heard from where she was at as she smirked. “It’s a huge home for that little guy while his parents are away.”

“True…let’s go see if he has food and water,” Mindy nodded over toward the kitchen motioning Trisha to follow her so she didn’t get into any unnecessary trouble with the house that was obviously intriguing her. “Thanks for coming with me.”

“Yeah…it’s no, problem,” she continued to look around the kitchen hearing Mindy pouring some more food into the bowl for Rusty as she turned to glance at Mindy again. “You know, I am kind of surprised you are still here right now. I really thought you would have gone with Jason to that wedding when he asked you to go. I know I would rather go to a wedding instead of being a kitty babysitter. He‘s cute and all, but this is a little lame.”

“A little lame?” Mindy found her friend’s words a bit harsh before shaking off the feeling of telling her off a bit. Shaking her head, she thought to Jason asking her to go to the wedding and she shrugged. “It just kind of seemed awkward.”

“Explain,” Trisha opened one of the cabinets to take a look at the mugs inside pulling out one that was a Red Sox design and she shook her head slowly before sighing and placing it back.

“Explain? Why do I have to explain?” Mindy moved into the living room hearing Trisha following her behind while Rusty jumped up into her lap after she sat down on the couch to get pet. “It just felt a little awkward. Like he wanted me to go as his date and he’s gay.”

“Friends could go as dates you know…,” Trisha reminded her taking a seat in the corner of the room staring out at Mindy. “Why would it feel awkward? The guy is hot and he is gay. You have a hot date knowing he won’t try to grab ass at you. Though, I wouldn’t mind if I was you because he is a good looking guy.”

“He is also gay,” she reminded Trisha knowing that something like that didn’t bother her friend when it came down to it in the long run. “I don’t know. It just felt a little too fast. And I can’t leave the job of doing this for them. That would be wrong, wouldn’t it?”

“How about this…I will let you believe what you want, okay?” Trisha spoke up in somewhat of a sarcastic tone and she caught the glance that Mindy gave her before she threw her hands up in the air. “Hey, I’m just saying! I don’t really see a problem with you going. You know the family, it should have been fine.”

“I guess it just didn’t feel right,” she continued to drag her fingers through the soft fur of the cat laying in her lap. Sighing heavily, she knew she loved spending time with Jason when she could, but there were sometimes when things felt off. When things were too close and after knowing that he was really gay, the things that she felt with him were wrong. She wasn’t ready to jump into feeling that kind of way with a gay guy again. “I just think it’s right for me to be here.”

“Well I guess I can see why,” Trisha took another long look around the house noticing the winding hallway leading toward the other rooms of the house and she stood up. “This house is gorgeous and it’s huge.”

“Don’t go anywhere Trisha, I am just supposed to feed Rusty and then leave,” Mindy noticed her friend completely ignored her warnings moving off down the hallway toward the bedrooms. Getting up slowly, she sighed and heard a door open. “Trisha, I told you to mind your own business.”

“I walk into someone’s home and I can’t help it, I’m interested in their lives,” Trisha moved over toward the photo of the dresser of Russ and Avery and she smiled. “I do have to admit I am rather glad I am going to be working for someone as hot as him. It gives work a whole new meaning. A viewing pleasure to make the day easier to get along with.”

“He’s married you know,” Mindy pointed out reaching for the picture and set it back down where it belonged. She caught the way Trisha glared at her before she moved back to the next thing she clearly wanted to look at. “And you could also be pregnant you know. With taking that house test and getting a positive, I thought things like this would have flamed down.”

“Hey, everyone needs something good to look at once and a while,” Trisha went to open a drawer only to feel Mindy close it midway. Throwing her hands up she moved toward the hallway feeling Mindy nudging her that way. “I have eyes and I know what’s hot. Hence why I think you should have gone with Jason.”

“Well I didn’t and I can’t go back and change that now,” Mindy sighed knowing that she felt that her answer to Jason was the right one. It would have been nice to go to an island like that for such a great event, but she really felt that not going with him was the right thing. And as long as she thought it was the right thing, she really didn’t care what someone else though about it. “So I’m just going to enjoy the time I have alone here.”

“Alone…not many girls look forward to something like that,” Trisha pointed out only to feel the soft vibrations of her phone inside of her purse that hung at her side loosely. Gulping down, she motioned Mindy to wait for a moment while pulling out her phone to see Chase was calling her. “Hey baby.”

Mindy watched from the living room as Trisha walked off to talk to her boyfriend in the kitchen and she found herself thinking about Jason. The way he had been there for her had been great, just things were off and she didn’t know how to move on with them.

Jason would tell her one thing, but every time he was around she always felt like he was feeling a different way. Their relationship had gotten confusing and she just wasn’t in the mood to approach it any further.

“Looks like I’m going to have to pull out on you,” Trisha closed her phone moving back into the room while watching Mindy take a seat on the couch again. “Chase is in need of some help, so I’m going to go help him with his crisis. Alright? Are you going to be okay?”

“I’ll be just fine, I think I’m going to just take Rusty back to the apartment with me,” Mindy thought aloud seeing Trisha seemed to ignore her again as she moved toward the door. “Have fun.”

“Always do,” Trisha moved out of the house and Mindy found herself thinking about her friend and her actions. She was so glad that she was nothing like her. She could only imagine how crazy her life would be if she was! She was happy with the way things were now and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Being alone for some people was bad, but she didn’t expect to have anyone new in her life. She was happy and content with herself to know that she didn’t need a man in her life right now.


Still feeling Cori kissing him, Nate pressed his hands in over her hips knowing that she was only using him for this, but as he felt her lips caressing in over his he couldn’t help feeling his emotions for her coming into play for him.

For the longest time he wanted to be with Cori. Have her in his life somehow and this wasn’t exactly how he wanted it to be. At all. He wanted her to fall in love with him, not use him. But in this case, he was hoping that in her using him, she would fall in love with him with the time she was going to spend with him.

Hearing the door click to a close, it was obvious that Jewel was gone by now and as he felt her hand sliding up his side, he was soon met by the violent smack that she pressed in over his face.

Turning with the hit, he let out a small groan hearing her drop back down on the bed while he pressed his hand in over his cheek. The sharpness of her hit caused a strong burning sensation in his skin as he hissed out.

“What the hell was that?” Nate blurt out watching Cori shrug and reach for a magazine to start flipping through. “You were the one that started to kiss me.”

“Like I wanted to…” she muttered not even bothering to look at him as he tried to shake off the feeling of her venomous slap. He couldn’t believe that she had just hit him after what she had done to him to get back at her sister. “Stop complaining.”

“You have some serious issues,” he informed her with a small nod seeing the way she stared out at him after looking up from her magazine. Taking in a deep breath, he watched her set the magazine down to watch him and he shook his head slowly. “I don’t think I will ever begin to understand you.”

“I don’t want you to understand me, I just wanted you to leave me alone, but now I am stuck with you,” she explained watching the way he stared out at her and she knew that he was angry with her. “So I just am going to do what I need, otherwise I want nothing to do with you.”

“Good to know,” Nate shook his head slowly before breathing in heavily thinking about the situation he made in his life to lie for her. How it would effect his future and how much he was starting to regret it. “Do you realize what I’ve done for you.”

“Not much really,” Cori replied watching Nate’s jaw clench in anger as he stared out at her and she could tell that he wanted to say so much, but was trying to keep his mouth closed. “Are we always going to be like this? Acting like I owe you some kind of something because you offered up to do what you did. I find it rather…disgusting if you think you are going to change my mind about you. I still find you repulsive.”

“You know, I’ve tried to be nice,” Nate finally spoke up after having her talk to him like that. “But I’m sick of this. I’m sick of you talking to me like this. I want to help you. I’ve felt bad for you and I happen to think I’m the person that has been the nicest to you. Yet you treat me like I’m shit.”

“Your point is?” she opened her magazine again flipping through the pages not even paying attention to him. She could hear in his breathing that he was upset, but didn’t even pay attention to him. “Listen, you can leave now.”

Gasping out, she felt him rip the magazine out of her fingers and she watched him toss it on the floor before standing in front of her. Clearly, he wanted her to pay attention to him as she folded her arms out in front of her chest to pout.

“Okay psycho…what do you want?” she stared up at him seeing his jaw tighten after she spoke. She saw him pace for a moment before tossing his hands in the air.

“You know, when everyone called you a nut…I stood up for you. When you had no one to help you and you needed someone to step up and be there for you…I did. I’ve been nothing, but good to you and you treat me like I’m trash,” Nate spit out watching the way her dark eyes just stared up at him. She didn’t say anything. Didn’t even have a single emotion. “You think you would at least have a little respect for me after all the things I have done for you.”

“What do you want…?” she finally spoke up after the silence that was between them. She stood up and reached for the magazine he tossed aside before turning back to him. “Some kind of cookie for being a good boy. Gee thanks for being there, but I never asked for your help. So you shouldn’t even expect anything from me.”

“I don’t know why I even bother with you,” Nate went to say more, but knew that the more he talked, the more upset he got with everything and he was sick of feeling that way. Shaking his head, he reached for his keys that he had placed on the corner of her desk and went to leave. “You know…you should really play out who to have as an enemy and who to have as a friend because sooner or later you are going to have no one.”

“And when the time comes I guess you can say I told you so, huh?” she mocked him once more hearing the huff he let out while opening her bedroom door. She could hear the door slam shut with the anger he still obviously had for her, but yet…it still didn’t effect her. “He’ll get over it.”

She could hear the car door slamming outside and she knew that he was upset, but in the long run she never wanted to be with him. And he ‘always’ came back anyways no matter how bad she talked to him.

She wasn’t looking for love and if she was -- it would never be with him!


“So this is what you meant by tacky country western huh?” Shane questioned looking around the smoky bar Diane had pulled him into upon the conclusion of their dinner with one another. “When you said you were contemplating drinks, I had just assumed that we’d be going to your sister’s place or…”

“Being in public is safer,” Diane explained reaching for his hand and weaving her way through the crowd to a booth in the back. She released him and took a seat with a smile. “Plus I’ve missed hanging out here and since we were talking about being friends…”

“You figured that we’d have a night out like you and Jade did,” Shane deduced sliding into the opposite side of the booth, “Though I must confess if I’d known that we were entering into dangerous territory here I would’ve pulled my cowboy hat and boots out of the closet for such an occasion.”

“You have cowboy boots and a hat?” her eyes widened as she found herself overtaken with a deliciously wonderful mental image of Shane dressed as a cowboy wrangling cattle on the range. In that instant her temperature rose exponentially.

“You seem surprised,” he laughed leaning in closer to her from across the table. “I told you I spent half my time in Michigan, remember?”

“They have farms in Michigan?” she questioned before shaking the naughty thoughts that continue to play out in her mind. “Of course they do. What was I thinking?”

“I’m not sure, but something tells me that I’d love to find out,” he noted reaching out across the table to press his hand over hers. “You’re blushing Diane.”

“I am not,” she protested pulling away from him just in time to bring her hand up against her cheek. “It’s just hot in here with the crowd and…”

“Sure,” he laughed lightly while sinking back into his seat and stretching his arms out across the back of it. “I’ll let it go…for now.”

“There’s nothing to let go because I told you,” she paused hearing a sound of applause overtake the crowd as the band on stage finished up their song.

“I guess they are popular,” Shane noted listening to the crowd’s response. “It’s not my choice for dancing music, but I suppose it’s workable.”

“For dancing?” her eyes widened at the suggestion.

“It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to show off,” he winked at her. “What do you say? Care to put the rest of the bar to shame?”

“I don’t know if we should considering that…” Diane hesitated briefly before remembering her promise to herself. Tonight she had a point to prove and she wasn’t about to let Shane intimidate her.

“You’re tempted, aren’t you?” he questioned stepping in towards her. “Admit it we make a good team on the dance floor.”

“We sure do,” she nodded in confession as she pulled herself out of the seat. “Though you’d better know how to line dance because I don’t want to have you make a fool of me out there.”

“You’ll be pleasantly surprised by my skills,” he assured her guiding her out onto the dance floor as the band began to play another song. This time however their music had shifted and a slow, melodic beat carried over the smoky bar.

“So much for line dancing,” he noted extending his hand out to her again. “What do you say? Still up for a dance?”

“Sure,” she agreed stepping forward into his arms as other couples began to pair off on the dance floor around them.

“See it’s not so bad,” Shane encouraged as his arms eased around her waist, pulling her in closer to his powerful chest.

“That’s easy for you to say,” she thought to herself feeling the warmth of him stirring up sensations that she’d believed she could easily ignore. The scent of his aftershave mixed with the strength of his arms, keeping her near him was enough to send her head swimming with naughty thoughts. Her heart was hammering in her chest and as she tipped her head up towards him, she hoped and prayed that the dim lighting on the dance floor would provide enough of a mask to shadow over the heat that had found it’s way to her cheeks. Dancing had always been fun, but dancing with Shane Slater was temptation put together in a perfectly sexy package. Even now she couldn’t help but find herself imagining what it would be like to be lost in his eyes, in his arms as they found their way to a more private dance away from the crowd.

“A penny for your thoughts love,” Shane slurred in the thick, sensual accent that had turned her into putty time and time again. His breath skimmed against her neck, words weaving their magical spell as her head pressed in against his chest.

“Believe me you don’t want to know,” she admitted tipping her head up just enough to feel his lips hovering over hers--a mere breath away from the completion she longed for.

“Try me,” Shane suggested leaning in closer yet as Diane wondered if she would be able to resist a taste of him all over again.

“I think you’d enjoy that far too much,” she half teased, her eyelashes fluttering as she tipped up on her toes, longing to claim his lips if only long enough for one last taste.

“When I’m with you I must admit that you bring forth a certain intoxication,” he admitted inching in closer yet as Diane felt the urge to resist fading inside of her. She closed her eyes anticipating the hunger behind his skilled caress when she found herself met by a screeching sound from behind her.

“Diane Stevens! I thought that was you,” Cathy Ashley’s voice bombarded through the moment pulling Diane out of the fantasy and into the reality of where she and Shane were.

Immediately Diane sprung back out of Shane’s arms to turn around and face her rival with a defensive stance. Placing her hands on her hips, Diane glared over at Cathy with venomous intent as the blonde sauntered over towards Diane and Shane.

“I thought it was you when you walked into the bar, but then something told me I had to be mistaken because clearly you would’ve been with Ben and this handsome hunk is by far certainly not Ben,” Cathy’s eyes traveled blatantly over in Shane’s direction. She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulders and puffed out her chest, hoping to draw attention to the low neckline on her tight fitting t-shirt. She smiled smacking her over glossed lips together before extending her hand out to Shane. “Hi, I’m Cathy Ashley--a friend of Diane’s.”

“Hello Cathy Ashley,” Shane accepted her hand and raised it to his lips in a gentlemanly fashion, pressing a kiss upon it. “I’m Shane Slater.”

“Also a friend of Diane’s I presume,” Cathy giggled up at him.

“I’d like to think so,” Shane’s dark eyes traveled over towards Diane once again, revealing the desire behind his words to Diane.

“Diane really doesn’t deserve friends like you from the looks of it,” Cathy chortled amused with her own humor in the moment as Diane glared at her.

“So what are you doing here tonight Cathy?” Diane interrupted impatiently. “Going out with half of the accounting crew again? Or maybe it was the mail room clerk this time? I can’t keep up with you.”

“I’m actually here tonight with a few of my girlfriends,” Cathy pointed over towards the direction she’d arrived in. “Though as I said before I was curious when I saw you weren’t here with Ben. Is he late coming in?”

“Ben’s not here tonight,” Diane bit back on her words wanting to smack the smugness off of Cathy’s features as Cathy continued to press for information.

“Really? Does that mean there’s trouble in paradise between you two?” Cathy wiggled her brow eagerly.

“Ben’s on assignment in Florida, but he’ll be returning anytime now,” Diane answered flatly as she moved in closer to Shane.

“Is that right?” Cathy noted with a disapproving glance. “Hmm, well does Ben realize you’re out with such a hunk tonight? I mean I’m sure he wouldn’t be happy to see that…”

“Diane and I are friends Miss Ashley,” Shane interrupted giving Diane the opportunity to wrangle herself off of the hook as Cathy prodded for information.

“Hmm, well in that case I don’t think Diane would mind if I buy you a drink,” Cathy tangled her arm in Shane’s. “After all being a friend of a friend it’s the least I can do.”

“Well I actually…” Shane started glancing over at Diane once again.

“We were about to take a seat and,” Diane stopped herself when she felt the buzzing of her cell phone inside of her pocket. She pulled it out and recognized Ben’s number on the screen before her. Immediately her mood perked up as she answered the phone. “Ben hi! How are you?”

“I’ve had better days,” he confessed with a sigh as Diane looked over to Cathy and Shane once again. “Are you busy?”

“No, not at all,” Diane replied giving Shane one last look. “Hold on a second Ben.”

“Sure,” Ben replied as Diane covered the base of her cell phone with her hand.

“I have to take this,” she explained quickly throwing out an apologetic look in Shane’s general direction before walking off of the dance floor and leaving him alone with Cathy.

“I guess you can take that drink now huh?” Cathy offered up in a low, sultry tone as Shane’s dark eyes returned to the blonde beside him.

“Sure, why not,” he shrugged allowing Cathy to lead him off of the dance floor as he found himself wondering what kind of setback he would have to face now that Ben had made contact with Diane.


“Honey where are you?” Ben questioned as Diane weaved her way into the ladies room hoping for a moment of peace and quiet to speak with him. “Are you there?”

“I’m still here,” she answered watching a set of women finishing up their lipstick by the mirrors. “Where are you?”

“In hell,” he sighed heavily, “but I’m feeling like it’s turning around now that I’m able to hear your voice again.”

“It’s been too long Ben. I miss you,” Diane confessed taking a seat on one of the benches that were set up in the corner of the ladies room. “When are you coming home?”

“Soon I hope,” Ben admitted with an uneasiness in his tone.

“What do you mean you hope?” Diane questioned curiously. “I thought that you said you were almost finished down there the last time we talked and…”

“There were a few loose ends that we had to take care of and it’s taking longer than I’d hoped for,” Ben continued to explain to her. “Believe me there’s nothing I want more than to be home with you right now, but…”

“But what? Can’t you just tell them to shove it?” Diane urged him on again. “I mean they can’t expect you to just push your life aside like this forever, can they?”

“It’s not forever,” he offered up.

“It feels like it,” she pouted watching the other women walk out of the ladies room. She leaned back on the bench and sighed again, “Ben, I miss you and each day you’re gone has been killing me.”

“It’s killing me too Diane, but my hands are tied. Even now I’m sneaking in a phone call when I should be working on the case,” he lowered his voice a bit. “I had to talk to you even though I know that I have work to do.”

“To hell with work Ben,” she frowned. “You should just quit and ask Brant if you can come back to work for him. He’s got great benefits and you and I both know that he liked you.”

“Diane as tempting as that is, I don’t think he’s going to welcome me back with open arms after he’s learned that his company was under investigation,” he reminded her simply.

“So coax Blake into talking with him. I’m not fond of her, but I know she can twist his arm and…” Diane suggested.

“Again it’s tempting, but right now I’m where I need to be. There are things happening that really need to be taken care of out here,” Ben began with a sadness in his tone. “I know I won’t be home as soon as I said but…”

“But nothing Ben. The job isn’t worth it,” Diane glanced up at the high definition television up in the corner of the ladies room. On the screen before her flashed a news brief on a fire that took place down in Florida. Her eyes barely registered the story unfolding until she spotted Ben on the screen before her with his arms draped around a beautiful brunette before him. Immediately her mood soured as she shot up on the bench for a closer look at the woman in his arms, “unless of course the perks outweigh what you have here at home.”

“Perks?” he repeated with confusion evident in his tone. “Diane, what are you talking about?”

“I see you right now,” she scowled up at the television screen.

“What do you mean you see me?” he questioned blankly.

“On the news. You’re by a building and you’re with a woman and…” Diane hissed in response.

“What woman?” Ben asked.

“She looks kind of like a hooker with the way she’s dressed and…” Diane started feeling her anger rising up inside of her.

“You’re talking about Lexie,” Ben realized catching the tone in her voice. “She’s not a hooker. She’s my partner and Blake’s cousin. If you take a look at her you’ll see that…”

“You’re enjoying more than just the weather down there,” Diane snapped back at him. “Tell me Ben does the FBI pay you more for cuddling in a crisis?”

“Cuddling? Diane, what are you talking about? Look whatever you’re seeing it’s clearly out of context,” Ben started to defend himself.

“Out of context my ass Ben,” she rolled her eyes at his words. “I see it with my own eyes.”

“Diane, I don’t know what’s on there, but I can assure you that it’s not what you think,” Ben began desperately.

“Oh I’m sure,” she groaned outwardly, “I mean first you tell me it’s going to be a couple of weeks and then you keep telling me to wait and wait, but you never return my calls--never try to reach out to me and yet…”

“I’m calling you now because it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to do so Diane,” he insisted with an uneasiness in his tone. “I’ve been swamped and…”

“Busy with your,” her word were laced with venom, “partner. Tell me Ben, did you get to hand pick her for the assignment?”

“I don’t believe this,” he groaned, “Diane, let’s not have this argument. You know I love you.”

“Then come home. Say to hell with the job and come home,” she ordered thinking about her own situation with Shane. “I love you and that should mean more than some stupid case.”

“Diane, I wish it were that simple, but…” he started desperately.

“If you really loved me it would be,” she pouted further. “Come home Ben.”

“Diane, I can’t,” he sighed before falling to a long silence.

“Can’t or won’t?” she challenged.

“Diane, I want to but right now it’s not in the cards,” he hesitated for a moment as Diane heard a shuffling from his end of the line. “Look Diane, I’m sorry and we’ll talk about this later…”

“When?” she questioned. “When you come home? Oh wait you don’t know when you’re coming home, do you?”

“Diane, I’m sorry. I really am but…” he paused again this time to speak to whomever had approached him.

Diane heard the sound of muffled voices from behind him. Although she couldn’t make out what they were saying it was clear the person wanted him off the phone. In that moment her frustrations mounted.

“But nothing. Why don’t you call me when you get your priorities in check Ben? Until then I think it’s pretty clear where we rank in your life,” she snapped back at him hanging up her phone with a hiss.

Looking at the mirror in front of her, she groaned outwardly as she tossed her phone across the bathroom floor. She watched it spin on the tile until finally she found herself wishing she hadn’t ended things like that with Ben. She stood up rushing forward to retrieve her phone as she contemplated calling him back. She began to dial knowing full well she should’ve listened to what he had to say, but then as she thought of their ending, she realized he should be the one doing the apologizing. He’d put his career before them long enough. Hanging up the phone she waited half expecting him to call, but instead she was met by silence. It was in that moment that it hit her that she wouldn’t be hearing from Ben again that night.

“Damn it,” she cursed under her breath dropping her phone into her purse and lowering her head as she wondered if she’d just given her relationship with Ben the shove towards destruction that she’d been hoping to avoid.


Cringing, Alexa heard the sound of Ben slamming the door shut and she looked to see him stepping into the room with an angered expression pressed in over his features. Watching him for a moment pace, she could see that he was angered and she wanted to say something, but was wondering if it would truly be the wrong time to do something like that.

She had so many things she wanted to say or suggest to him, but she was so worried that he would be mad at her that she kept her mouth shut for now.

Ben was silent for a minute, but as she watched him she could tell that he was getting angrier within his silence. And she didn’t want him to break to the point of where he couldn’t get out of it.

“Do you need to talk about something?” Alex offered up some kind of support catching him off guard as he stopped after pacing for a long moment to stare out at her. The stare made her feel a bit out of place knowing that he looked angry, but hopefully it wasn’t with her. “Ben…is everything alright?”

“I just can’t believe that Diane is angry with me over my job. My work…,” he spoke up quickly before brushing her off with a shake of his head and then continued to pace around the room. “I’m so sick of this. I’m so sick of waiting. Being stuck here. I want my life back.”

“This is your life to some degree,” she pointed out catching the glare he shot back at her and she held her hands up in the air to try and defend her point of view. “I’m just saying. You got into this job knowing what it would be like, you would have had to assume that this would have happened at some point. Having a case that seemed impossible.”

“Yeah, the case seemed impossible, but I really thought that if we could have worked harder this would have been done already,” Ben snapped at her knowing that they had so many mistakes happen already that they kept hitting the bottom of the barrel. He wanted nothing more than to have this finished. He missed his life. “This should have been done already.”

“It’s not our fault that this has turned out the way it has,” Alexa tried to correct him as he dropped down to the chair in the corner of the room and she took in a deep breath. “Ben…you just need to do what is best for you. That’s all I will say about this because I don’t want you mad at anything else I say about your life.”

There was a silence that pressed in over them as she gulped down and saw him looking toward the floor. He was rocking a bit while clenching his hands together and she couldn’t tell exactly what he was thinking.

“I just want to go home,” he finally spoke up after a few minutes and behind his voice you could tell that he was upset. The expression over his face and the regret behind his eyes could be read easily as he dropped down to the chair. “I want to go back to my life.”

“This is your life,” she pointed out once more and obviously her reminder sent him into a mood as he lifted his head up to glare out at her tilting his head to the side as she spoke. “I think you just need to pick which life you really want to call ‘home’. If you aren’t good enough for this job…”

“It’s not a matter of whether I’m good enough or not,” Ben snapped seeing the way her eyes widened a bit with the venom that he had behind his words. “This is a case of unlike you, I have people waiting for me who love me at home. I have someone who is in love with me and misses me. I have someone to go home to. I have a life that I love, something that is important. Something that you clearly would never understand because you have no one in your life like that…at all.”

“Well thank you for reminding me of that,” Alexa spoke up after a moment of silence hearing him get up and he moved off the chair so quickly that it sent it slamming against the wall behind him. “It’s always nice to know that because of my work life I have no one waiting for me at home. Thanks Ben.”

“Well how can you expect me to take any of your advice serious? You have no idea what it’s like to have fallen in love with someone. To want to be with them twenty-four seven and have them feel the same exact way about you as you do them,” Ben snapped at her once more and he could see by now that she was no longer willing to put in her input after he snapped at her like that. Standing there for a moment, he placed his hands over his hips before shaking his head. “God this is ridiculous. This isn’t fun. This should have been over because I have a life to get back to.”

“And eventually you will…,” she spoke up watching the way his blue eyes looked down toward the floor before he let out an angered noise and moved toward the bathroom slamming the door shut behind him.

Flinching a bit, she could feel the tightness in her chest from what he just said to her. She knew he was upset about not being with his friends and the one he loved, but he was really hard on her just now. And surprisingly he ended up hurting her feelings more than she thought he would.


Blake sank underneath the thick blankets of the bed in her old bedroom at the Ashford estate knowing full well that even the faint comfort of the past wouldn’t keep her calm now that Seth was in jail. While she’d wanted to go home, she’d realized that home just wouldn’t be the place for her without Seth beside her. Now closing her eyes she thought about one of the last times she’d seen Seth before all of this happened to them.

“I love you Blake,” Seth whispered in her ear holding her closer to him after they’d made love to one another. She felt the warmth of his arms around her and as his lips tapered off over the back of her neck she couldn’t help but smile.

“I love you Seth and I can’t wait to be Mrs. Alexander,” she replied squeezing his arms around her tighter than before, “This is something I’ve waited a long time to have in my life for us.”

“And it’s not going to be anything less than perfect,” he promised urging her to meet his dark eyes again. She shifted in his arms seeing the warmth that radiated over her with his smile. He reached out to touch the side of her face with a newfound hope behind his eyes, “After tonight Blake nothing is going to keep us from having what we’ve waited for with one another. After tonight I hope you’re ready to live out the rest of your life as my wife.”

“I can’t wait,” Blake confessed sliding in for another kiss as the scene faded out turning to the present once again.

“Oh Seth,” Blake sighed feeling her tears threatening when a sound captured her attention from across the bedroom. She looked to her door and was surprised to see it opening. Reaching for her blankets she fully expected Ken to be there with a firm lecture waiting on the wings, but instead she discovered it was Andy who had opened up the door to her room.

“Blake, are you awake?” he questioned as his blue eyes fixed on hers.

“Andy,” she paused shifting a bit beneath her blankets, “what are you doing here?”

“Wondering how in the hell you were able to sneak out of the hospital without my releasing you,” he informed her moving into her room without permission. He stood at the foot of her bed and gave her a long once over, “You know full well that I would not have approved of your leaving just yet especially when…”

“When my world is falling apart,” Blake blurted out throwing her hands in the air, “Nothing else could happen to me to hurt me worse than losing Seth and the baby has. Being in a hospital or here makes no difference to me.”

“It makes a difference to me,” he circled around the bed moving in to eye her closely, “You need medical treatment and…”

“My Uncle Rex has that covered,” Blake informed him stubbornly still holding onto her blanket as he stared down at her disapprovingly.

“Blake, it’s not the same as the hospital and you know it,” he reminded her pointedly, “You should be getting the kind of care that only I could provide you with and…”

“And I appreciate all that you’ve done for me, but I can take it from here,” Blake informed him with a small huff wiping at the tears that threatened to overtake her. “I’m fine here. Better than fine.”

“No you’re not,” he sank down to the side of the bed meeting her sad, blue eyes. “We’re both smart enough to realize that.”

“If you have any doubts or concerns about the care I’m under, then go talk to my Uncle Rex. He’ll tell you that his staff is more than qualified to help me get back on my feet again. I’m under constant watch here with a private nurse and…” she started again only to see him shake his head at her.

“Blake, I just wish you would’ve consulted me first,” he explained in a muted tone, “I care about you and I want to see to it that you make a full recovery.”

“I’ll recover just fine here. I’m not going back to the hospital,” she declared boldly her blue eyes meeting his with a newfound determination.

“Fine, then if you want to have it that way, then you leave me no choice,” he matched her tone, his eyes narrowing in on her. “You can stay here and get care, but only if you let me be the one to give it to you.”

“I said I already have it covered,” Blake huffed up at him.

“And I’m your doctor. I know what’s best for you, but if you want to argue with me, then I’m sure we can find a way to get you back to the hospital and I really don‘t think that‘s what you want considering that…” he tossed out at her with a firm, warning glance only to see her face scrunch up with a mixture of emotions.

“Right now all I want is to have Seth home with me,” she blurted out unable to refrain from her tears a moment longer. Bringing her hands up over her face she started to sob weakly, “I just want this to go away.”

“I know Blake,” Andy touched her shoulder seeing her fall to pieces in front of him. Without a word he eased in closer to her, bringing his arm around her shoulders as she sank into his chest lost in her grief. “It’s going to be okay.”

“No, it’s never going to be okay again. If I lose Seth, then I’ll have lost everything because of that woman,” Blake sobbed unable to look past the moment now that her world had been torn to pieces in the blink of an eye. With Seth in jail and her still reeling from the loss of their child, she found herself wondering what in the world she’d done to have lost so very much in such a short time.


Sarah ran the towel through her hair feeling a numbness that carried over her long after the warmth of her shower had attempted to alleviate some of the tension she’d kept inside of her since the morning. She reached out to wipe at the mirror seeing the dark circles underneath her eyes after the sleeplessness that she’d endured since Blake’s accident and in that moment she realized she’d felt terrible. She felt beyond awful about what was happening to her best friend, but what was worse was the fact that she couldn’t do anything to change it. She’d left Blake at the mansion promising she’d be back in the morning, yet she couldn’t quite shake the feeling that was gnawing away at her insides.

“Are you in there?” Douglas’s voice carried through the room bringing her back to the moment. She turned around to hear him moving through the bedroom. She could hear a distinct shuffling that perhaps was him sliding out of his jacket, but before she could see for herself she heard him speak up again, “Sarah?”

“I’m in here,” Sarah explained moving to open the door only to find herself face to face with him. Surprised she eyed him when he presented her with a curious smirk.

“I’m glad I found you,” he reached out to her offering up his hand. She looked down at it half tempted to refuse whatever it was he was about to offer, but after the day she’d had she didn’t want to fight with anyone especially him. “I have something I want to show you.”

“Do I want to know?” she questioned sliding her hand into his and feeling him pull her out of the bathroom. Once she was in the bedroom she noticed an oversized box on the bed. Looking back at him again she couldn’t help but reveal her surprise, “Doug, what is this?”

“Why don’t you find out for yourself,” he suggested nodding to the package again.

“Okay, but…” she stepped forward a bit wearily before turning to him again, “you know you didn’t have to get me anything really.”

“Believe me it’s not like I was searching for it. It just kind of fell into place while I was out earlier,” Douglas offered up feeling an uneasiness carry over him, “Then again I really wasn’t considering buying it, but I had a press photographer following me inquiring about you and I so…”

“Of course,” she nodded doubtful about the validity of his story. Moving forward she pulled at the bow on top of the package watching as the ribbon that covered the wrapping paper danced it’s way down to the top of the bed. She turned to eye him for a lingering moment catching the small smirk on his face before she focused completely on the package. Tentatively she tore at the paper opening it up until there was a brown box before her.

“Almost there,” Douglas whispered moving in behind her. He placed his hand on her hip in an intimate fashion catching her off guard, yet she kept moving to open the package. She felt his breath skim over her shoulder, but nothing prepared her for what was inside after she’d pulled the top off of the box in front of her. There in front of her very eyes was a white colored rocking horse built for a small child.

“Douglas I…” her eyes widened as she reached in to touch it’s soft faux fur with her fingers. “I don’t know what to say.”

“I realize that we haven’t talked much about your child, but I thought that it would be only appropriate for me to give him or her something,” Douglas confessed with an air of sentimentality in his tone. “JT had one when he was a child and you could never get him off of the damned thing. I figured it was worth it’s weight in what it cost.”

“It’s really amazing,” Sarah offered up touched by the gesture. She turned around to face him, throwing her arms around his shoulders and leaning up on her toes to kiss him. After a moment she stepped back drawing in a small breath, “I mean thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he cleared his throat uneasily realizing that they’d stepped across the comfort zone line with being nice to one another, “and for what it’s worth I figured it would be enough to have the press stop hounding us for a little while.”

“Right,” Sarah nodded disbelieving, but still she was in no mood to challenge him or his motivations. She ran her fingers through her damp hair before focusing on the floor in front of her.

“So tell me,” Douglas began clearing his throat again, “How is Blake doing today?”

“She’s still about the same,” Sarah replied honestly thinking about the situation taking place. She sank onto the bed and drew in a slow, agonizing breath. “She left the hospital though and wound up going to see Seth at the police station.”

“I’d imagine that didn’t go well, did it,” Douglas frowned watching her slide further onto the bed. He took a seat beside her placing his hand on her leg supportively, “So where is she now?”

“With her brothers,” Sarah admitted thinking about how heartbroken Blake truly was, “Her uncle arranged for the doctors to keep her under private care at the Ashford Estate, but you can see that this is tearing her up inside. Even with Seth, I know it’s killing him not to be there with her when she needs him the most. It’s so unfair that this all happened now.”

“It is unfortunate that circumstances have kept them apart,” Douglas nodded in agreement, “especially when they sound like two people who truly feel something for one another.”

“She loves him with all that she is,” Sarah revealed tipping her head up to meet his eyes again. “She’s probably the only real friend I’ve ever had in this world and I can’t bear to see her in this much pain.”

“She’s lucky to have you around right now. You’re a good friend Sarah,” Douglas squeezed her leg gently before offering up a small smile.

“Most of the time no I’m not,” she revealed with an ironic laugh, “But Blake is more like family to me than my actual family. At least she isn’t alone right now, but with Seth, he’s in jail and…”

“I’m sure his lawyers are working to get him out of jail,” Douglas noted seeing something flash behind her eyes. “If he truly didn’t kill that woman, then…”

“You’d think it would be easy to prove that, but nothing ever goes right in this town,” Sarah sighed heavily, “Seth must be feeling alone right now. It’s as if he has no one on his side supporting him.”

“He has Blake and that’s what is important,” he pointed out after a moment’s contemplation. “Having the woman you love in your corner is a miracle in itself.”

“Yes, but he needs something more like a friend or family member that…” Sarah paused a sudden thought occurring to her. “I’ve got it. I know what Seth needs. Rex and Ken might be trying to help him, but I can think of someone who might be able to offer more impact in his life right about now since Blake can’t be with him.”

“Who might that be?” Douglas questioned seeing Sarah standing up to leave, “Where are you going?”

“Be right back,” she promised walking out of the room and knowing exactly what she needed to do in order to help Seth. Why she hadn’t thought of it sooner she didn’t know, but she was convinced that she would be able to help her two friends find happiness again before they knew it.


“There’s nothing to fix Brant,” Ria frowned over at him knowing full well that Brant was the last person she was about to reveal the secret about Kevin and Angela’s daughter to. While Brant had a vested interest in the situation in being Angela’s lover, she also knew full well that she was going to speak with Kevin before opening up about something that wasn’t meant for anyone else’s ears. “You’re imagining things today.”

“Am I?” Brant arched a curious brow. He stepped in closer to her and watched her for a long moment, “It seems strange that you wouldn’t want to be in there with Kevin especially since Angela is in there.”

“You’re the one who should be worried considering that Angela thought she was in love with Kevin and not the other way around,” Ria snubbed him before spinning on her heel and walking into Kevin’s hospital room.

“Or so you think,” Brant mouthed under his breath following behind Ria into the room to see Angela look up at the both of them.

“Brant, hey honey there you are,” Angela stood up and moved in closer to Brant reaching out to embrace him, “I was wondering where you and Don went off to.”

“I got a call about work,” Brant frowned thinking about all that was taking place at his company, “but the crisis is averted and now I’m back to see my beautiful family.”

“I still can’t believe that they are yours,” Kevin couldn’t help but tease with a hint of laughter in his tone, “they are too cute.”

“Stop saying that,” Angela frowned back at him, “Honestly now you’re just bordering on being rude.”

“It’s okay he can get away with it this time,” Brant moved forward reaching out to swipe Brandon out of his arms, “They are so much better looking than I am and I am not ashamed to admit that.”

“See being a father has made him smarter,” Kevin jabbed again before laughing, “Though I have to tell you Brant you’re one lucky son a bitch. These two are perfect.”

“How could they not be with Angela as their mother,” Brant offered up proudly turning his attention to the woman he loved, “She is amazing.”

“Yes, she is,” Kevin nodded in agreement before glancing over at an unusually silent Ria, “Hey you. I wondered where you went to.”

“I needed some air,” Ria replied in a neutral tone moving forward and taking a long, hard look at the baby in Kevin’s arms, “Who is this?”

“This is Alison my new friend and over there is her brother Brandon,” Kevin explained with a bright smile, a warmth carrying in over his tone, “Would you like to hold her?”

“Oh I don’t know if I should considering that…” Ria started feeling a bit uneasy about the situation.

“I think you should go for it,” Steve suggested walking into the room and joining the group, “because a child would look beyond amazing in your arms Ria.”

“Steve,” Ria turned around to see her former flame standing across from her.

“So tell me who brought in the bundles of joy?” Steve asked leaning in over Brant’s shoulder to take a closer look at Brandon.

“We’re the guilty party,” Angela mouthed with a small smile waving over at Steve, “And you obviously are the one who did the handiwork on Kevin, yes Dr. Biggs?”

“Dr. Biggs,” Kevin repeated with a gulp unable to suppress his laughter, “You have to be kidding me.”

“Why is something wrong?” Steve questioned as all eyes were suddenly on Kevin.

“No it’s just…” Kevin found himself at a loss thinking about his earlier exchange with the man that Ria was once involved with.

“Steve took over for me at the clinic when I left the island,” Angela reminded Kevin with a pointed expression, “You were there the day that I hired him on.”

“I was?” Kevin arched a curious brow before glancing over at a now smiling Steve, “Sorry, I can’t say I remember it, but gee I will admit to the fact that this world keeps getting smaller now doesn’t it.”

“I don’t know if I would go that far,” Steve blurted out turning his attention to Brandon once again, “considering that there are two beautiful babies in this world I would think it’s safe to say that the world is getting a little bit larger for those of us in it. They are too precious.”

“They sure are,” Brant boasted proudly, “and I’m glad that they are mine.”

“As you should be,” Steve noted before walking in over towards Kevin, “How’s the patient feeling now? Did you get the pain meds we’d talked about?”

“Yeah,” Kevin groaned seeing the way that Steve looked over at Ria once again.

“Excellent,” Steve nodded before curling his finger over at Ria, “Come here. You really should hold her. I would love to see how she looks in your arms.”

“I really don’t think I can,” Ria began again nervously.

“Go ahead Ria. I don’t mind at all,” Angela encouraged Ria to take Alison from Kevin.

“Well just for a moment,” Ria grudgingly decided bending down to pick up Alison and hold her in her arms. “Wow, she really is adorable.”

“That she is,” Steve nodded in agreement moving in to place his arm around Ria’s shoulders and offer up a small squeeze, “Just like I’d imagine for us when you became a mother.”

“Excuse me,” Kevin blinked back at Steve with a heavy scowl.

“I mean for you,” Steve stepped back with an apologetic expression, “Ria and I always talked about starting a family, but with both of our medical careers we didn’t have time to fit it all in. Not that we didn’t have fun practicing for it of course…”

“Of course,” Kevin replied behind gritted teeth before speaking up again, “though things have changed. Ria and I are already trying for a family and before you know it she’s going to be very pregnant with my child.”

“Is that right?” Steve glanced over at Ria once again, “I guess I should’ve registered that after you mentioned you two were engaged, but since I didn’t see a wedding band to go along with that engagement ring I had no idea that you were that serious with one another.”

“Well we are,” Kevin snarled up at Steve having had more than enough of Steve’s small blunders, “In fact Ria honey why don’t you come and sit on the bed right by me. I would love to hold you and Alison in my arms right now.”

“Kevin I,” Ria paused before finally nodding in wanting to get closer to Kevin. “Sure.”

Ria settled onto the bed with Kevin feeling him place his arms around her shoulders possessively before he glared up at Steve.

“As you can see doc I’m doing just fine right now, so we don’t need you to stick around,” Kevin snarled up at Steve before issuing a firm warning glance.

“Well okay, but I’ll be back later,” Steve nodded his grin expanding before turning to Ria again, “and Ria maybe after you’re finished here tonight I can take you out for coffee or something to catch up while Kevin rests.”

“Yeah sure,” Ria replied haphazardly before Steve walked out the doorway.

“You’re not really going to have coffee with that jackass, are you?” Kevin frowned over at her not liking the direction the conversation had gone in.

“I hadn’t really thought much about it, but Kevin he’s not a jackass,” Ria informed him with a shake of her head, “He’s a nice guy.”

“Any man who makes a play on another man’s fiancée right in front of him is not a nice man,” Kevin stood firm in his resolve not to like Steve.

“Gee, famous last words,” Brant glared over at Kevin hinting at some of the fighting that had gone on between the two men over Angela not so long ago.

“Look all I’m saying is that I don’t like the guy. I don’t think he can be trusted,” Kevin huffed impatiently glancing over at Angela. “Help me out with this one.”

“He seems nice enough to me,” Angela shrugged her shoulders before she and Brant continued to gush on Alison and all the while left Kevin to stand alone with his thoughts on why the good old Dr. Biggs was nothing more than a headache waiting to happen in Kevin’s life!


Glancing over at the passenger seat, Mindy smiled seeing the kitten she was sent to take care of sticking his head out of the little carrier bag she had brought with her to take him around. Feeling bad that Rusty would be alone for a little while with Russ and Avery gone, she decided it would be time to bring him with her for now.

She had already checked in with Russ and Avery to make sure it was alright even though she figured it would be fine.

In spending the time she had with the kitten, she had already grown attached to him from how playful and loving he was while she was there. So instead of constantly coming back and forth, she found no harm in taking Rusty with her while they were gone.

Which of course meant that he would be living with her for a while, so she would have to stop off at the pet store to pick up a couple of things for him to play with while he was there. Along with some food and things to get him by for the next few days.

“Come on little guy,” she reached for the carrier bag seeing Rusty stick his head back inside of the bag after she parked the car and reached for him. Pulling his bag over her shoulder she got out of the car and moved toward the store until she heard someone call out her name. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw Nate standing outside over at the next building. “Nate.”

“Hey Mindy,” Nate smiled moving in closer to her while he seemed to push something inside of his pocket after moving out of the sport authority store he had just walked out of. “What are you doing here? I didn’t know you had a pet.”

“Well actually…,” she went to say something more until a small meow was heard from her bag and she opened it to let Rusty pop his head out of the bag. She looked to see Nate smile and move forward to gently press his fingers in over the kitten’s head. “I’m babysitting.”

“Babysitting?” he smirked with a wink before leaning down to take a closer look at the cat before sighing heavily. “Well, the little one is adorable. I would almost think you might be kidnapping the little guy if I didn’t know better.”

“He’s a good cat, so I would certainly think about it,” she muttered knowing that it was hard to find a pet that would be this good right from the start. “I think if I took him though, I might have a problem going to work since it’s my boss’s pet.”

“Oh, so it’s Russ and Avery’s cat?” he watched the kitten go back into the bag and grab a hold of one of its toys before laying down in the bag. Mindy closed up the bag as he sighed heavily and shrugged his shoulders. “You want some company in there? My dad just became very open.”

“Sure,” Mindy didn’t mind having a friend hanging out with her since Trisha was sent off to help with some crisis that Chase was having at home. “So what are you doing out here? You certainly weren’t someone I was expecting to see out by the pet store.”

“That’s because I was next door in the sports store,” he winked down at her hearing her let out a small chuckle and he shrugged. “Yeah, I know. Tacky joke, but I figured it worked. I was just having a long day so I figured I would just hit some golf balls or slap around some hockey pucks.”

“And yet you are carrying nothing?” she eyed him over knowing that when he called out to her he had just gotten out of the store. “Are the sports stores no longer carrying those types of things?”

“You would think,” he watched her move over to pick up some toys for Rusty before looking over at him. “I figured physically letting my anger out about things would be bad for me. So I was just going to try and calm down in a better way.”

“Calm down?” she muttered watching him shrug for a moment and she stopped for a moment to stare out at him knowing that something was behind his green eyes. “What did you get yourself into now?”

“It’s just…it has to do with Cori,” Nate explained not sure any other way to explain it as. Staring out at her for a moment, he shrugged and took in a deep breath. “I don’t know what I should say about it, but I think I made a mistake in wanting to help her. A very big one. And I don’t know what I’m going to do now that I got myself into this.”


“So you’re really going to go through with this, eh man?” Kyle patted Grady on the shoulder after taking a look at his friend now that he was dressed up in his tuxedo. Grady adjusted the collar a bit before glancing at Kyle through the reflection in the mirror. “I mean this is a done deal once you say I do.”

“I realize that,” Grady smirked over at his friend before letting out a small laugh, “and if you can do it, then I don’t see why in the world I can’t do it. Come to think of it I’ve already been down this road once before.”

“And here’s hoping it won’t have the same outcome,” Kyle helped Grady ease out of the tuxedo jacket he was wearing before Grady started to unbutton his shirt now that he was satisfied with the fit. While he knew he’d have to get dressed up again in a short while, he wanted to relax for a short while before getting ready to take the plunge that would happen later tonight. “Then again Deana is really sweet so I highly doubt she’ll turn insane on you unless of course you drive her to it.”

“Very funny,” Grady rolled his eyes at Kyle before laughing, “I’ll have you know that I love her very much and I can’t see myself being any happier than I am when I’m with her.”

“Sounds a lot like love to me,” Russ noted entering the room just in time to hear his brother’s words. “It seems like you have a lot ahead of you big brother now that you’re going to let Deana make an honest guy out of you.”

“Hey I can’t let you be the only one in the family to finally settle down,” Grady wrinkled his nose at his brother before giving him a quick hug, “I can’t keep trying to live up to the reputation in being the rebel who keeps putting off the good life.”

“And it is the good life indeed,” Russ confessed thinking about Avery with a warm smirk, “She’s really amazing and I wouldn’t want things any other way for us.”

“Hey you just found out that you were married,” Kyle pointed out with a small laugh, “Surely you can’t be basking in the notion of wedded bliss this fast after learning the truth.”

“I’ve been basking in the idea of wedded bliss most of my life where she was concerned,” Russ admitted with an air of sentimentality. “She’s been the one thing I knew that I wouldn’t be able to live without in this world. From the first moment I saw her I just knew that she was the one that I wanted to share the rest of my life with. She was my world.”

“I can relate to that one,” Kyle noted thinking about his own wife with a warmth carrying over him. “I guess when you find the right one things just fall into place for you.”

“Listen to you two,” Grady groaned inwardly before shaking his head at them, “You sound like a couple of lovesick teenage girls. I mean really who knew that getting married would make you both lose your masculinity? Next you’re going to start talking about crochet patterns and cooking techniques.”

“There’s nothing wrong with knowing how to cook,” Russ protested with a frown, “and besides just you wait after the honeymoon is over you’re going to be just like the rest of us.”

“Not if I can help it,” Grady shuddered at the thought, “No offense to you guys because while I respect you both, I’m not going to turn into that. You both have it all wrong, but maybe it’s because you’re new to the whole marriage thing. I’ve been down this road before and I have to tell you the moment that you lose yourself completely to the idea of happily ever after is the moment when fate steps in and kicks you in the ass for daring to believe life can turn out like you want it.”

“That’s awfully cynical for a man who is about to marry an amazingly wonderful woman,” Kyle frowned back at his friend, “I’m sure Deana wouldn’t be happy to hear you talking like that right before your wedding.”

“Deana doesn’t need to hear me talking like this because she, like the both of you, has never been down this road before. I’m just being practical about the matter and trying to keep realism about me,” Grady informed them point blank, “I love her and Zane more than anything, but the moment a person loses their own identity is the moment that misery follows.”

“I don’t think Kyle or I have lost our own identities,” Russ shook his head at his brother before sighing, “If anything life with Avery has only enhanced my world.”

“Same goes for Heather and I. I mean, yeah sure, okay so maybe there are a few subtle changes, but I’m still the same guy and she’s still the same woman she always was. We just found a way to make it work with one another,” Kyle piped in thinking about the bliss he’d found in matrimony, “Getting married was without a doubt the best thing I’ve ever done in my life aside from falling in love with her in the first place.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Grady finally admitted glancing at his reflection again, “Deana and I weren’t something I saw happening a year ago considering that my life was so very different, yet…”

Kyle watched his friend grow silent before he stepped forward and patted his shoulder gently, “Life might have thrown you a few curves but you landed on top of this one buddy. Deana’s a keeper.”

“I know she is and I wouldn’t want to be without her,” Grady admitted with a small sigh feeling a nagging worry in the pit of his stomach, “It’s just when I think about how happy Jade and I were right before she died…”

“History isn’t going to repeat itself,” Kyle promised knowing full well his friend’s abrasiveness were a direct result of losing the one he loved. “Trust me Grady everything will work out as it should be.”

“I just hope you’re right on that Kyle,” Grady paused remembering his troubled relationship with Susan, “because I can’t imagine ever experiencing that kind of situation again.”

“Deana and Susan are like night and day,” Kyle promised his friend reaching out to pat his arm when there was a knock on the hotel room door.

“Expecting company?” Russ half questioned as Grady took a seat on the bed.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Grady shook his head pondering the thought of a moment. Suddenly his green eyes widened and he took a step back, “Wait it might be Deana. She might have forgotten something in here…”

“In that case,” Kyle shoved Grady towards the bathroom making sure his friend was inside before nodding over towards Russ. “Okay you can open it now. It’s all clear.”

Russ did as instructed opening the door and half expecting to find his future sister-in-law in front of him, but instead he noticed a single box wrapped up in a clown print paper. Curiously Russ stepped out into the hallway wondering if the person who had dropped off the box was still there, but instead he found an empty hallway.

“That’s strange,” Russ noted seeing a card on the top of the package with his brother’s name on it. Bending down he picked it up before carrying it back into the room with him.

“What is it?” Kyle questioned noticing the strange package in Russell’s arms.

“I don’t know. It looks like a present,” Russ replied walking over to the table and setting it down.

“Coast is clear,” Kyle knocked on the bathroom door alerting Grady to rejoin them, “though it looks like someone wanted to give you something before the wedding.”

“Really?” Grady replied with a puzzled expression making his way over to the table where Russ had placed the box down. “What is it?”

“I’m not sure,” Russ admitted honestly watching as his brother reached for the card and tore it open. “What does it say?”

“It says, ‘To give you the strength that you need for your special day’,” Grady read aloud before setting the cryptic card aside. He tore open the paper and opened up the box only to discover various trinkets inside.

“What is it?” Kyle questioned leaning over Grady’s shoulder and spotting a very strange looking thing in front of him. Unable to quell his curiosity he pushed his hand into the box and found a wax figurine inside that looked a lot like a doll of sorts. Frowning Kyle tipped his head to the side and eyed it closely, “Is this Hulk Hogan?”

“Hulk Hogan,” Russ repeated with a strange look. “I don’t get it.”

“I do,” Grady replied noticing the wick that was coming out of the top of the candle in his friend’s hand. Suddenly a thought occurred to him and he turned to the door again, “Russ, did you say that was out in the hall?”

“Yes, but…” Russ started only to watch his brother sprint out into the hallway to leave Russ and a puzzled Kyle behind. They exchanged looks before Russ spoke up again, “What just happened here?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll go find out,” Kyle promised chasing after Grady only to discover him near the elevators. “Grady, hey where are you going? Hey!”

“I have to find who sent that,” Grady explained turning around to face his friend in a panic. “There is no way that anyone would’ve thought to send me that except for…”

“For what?” Kyle realized that the color had drained from Grady’s face.

“Jade. Kyle the only person who would send me that would be Jade,” Grady blurted out his heart pounding in his chest. He surveyed the hallway before turning to his friend again, “Only Jade would know about the Hulk Hogan candle.”

“I don’t understand,” Kyle replied with a strange expression.

“The night I proposed to Jade she and I were trapped in this shack in the middle of nowhere. We had like nothing with us, yet I wanted to do something special for her,” Grady recalled like it was yesterday. He held up the candle and waved it around in the air, “This was the only thing I could find to set the romantic mood and that was pushing it.”

“Grady that can’t be the candle you used,” Kyle replied attempting to calm him down now that it was clear that something was truly upsetting him. “We both know that Jade couldn’t have possibly sent that to you because…”

“I know Kyle. She’s dead, yet no one else knew about this. I didn’t tell anyone about what happened other than Jade and I knowing that…” Grady turned around the corner again half expecting Jade to be there.

“Grady, think about this one,” Kyle chased after him, “Zane is an avid wrestling fan. Other than John Cena, Hulk Hogan is popular with the children. Chances are that care package was from Deana and Zane wanted to throw something in there…”

“But the exact same something that Jade and I had?” Grady turned to face his friend again. “What are the odds of that one happening?”

“I’ll admit it’s very strange, but come on,” Kyle paused seeing Grady survey the hallway all over again, “Grady listen to me. You’re about to marry Deana in a short while and maybe this is your mind’s way of playing tricks on you.”

“This isn’t a trick to my mind. It’s real,” Grady held the candle up again feeling an air of sentimentality carry over him at the memory of Jade.

“Grady, we both know that Jade isn’t coming back,” Kyle reached for the candle before pausing, “but if you’re not sure about doing this. If you’re having second thoughts about marrying Deana, then you need to find a way to deal with it right now before you break her heart.”

“No,” Grady shook his head firmly knowing full well that he had the world ahead of him with Deana, “You’re right Kyle. This had to be from Zane. Granted it was shocking, but who else could’ve sent this? Jade is dead and I’m well aware of that. I lost her a while ago and I’m not going to ever have her back again.”

“I know it hurts Grady, but I’m telling you that it’ll be okay,” Kyle reached out to touch his shoulder gently, “Deana’s an amazing woman and I know she loves you.”

“I love her too,” Grady paused glancing at the candle again, “which is why I can’t let the memories of the past ruin tonight for us. We deserve nothing less than the best for our wedding.”

“There I won’t argue with you,” Kyle patted him on the back before smiling, “Now how about we get you back into your room before you jinx things and find yourself seeing your bride to be before your time?”

“That sounds like a plan,” Grady finally nodded taking one last look around the hallway before resolving to push the memories of the past out of his mind now that it was time to move forward onto a future that would be the key to all of his dreams of happiness coming true for him. Marrying Deana was the best thing he could ever do and as he worked his way back to his hotel room, he made a silent vow to see to it that their wedding went off without anything to cause either one of them any grief along the way.


“Nervous?” Heather questioned reaching for the veil that had just been sent over to the hotel a short while ago after Deana had returned.

“Are you kidding me,” Deana placed her hand over her abdomen and took in a small breath, “I’m terrified. I’ve never done this whole marriage thing before and I’m honestly not sure I can go through with it.”

“Why not?” Heather couldn’t help but ask a surprised expression carrying over her. “Do you not think Grady is the one?”

“No, it’s not that,” Deana paused turning to look at her reflection once again, “I mean it’s just that every time something wonderful happens in my life, I have something on the opposite extreme come up and knock me right back down again. I just don’t want to jinx what Grady and I have by jumping the gun.”

“Is that what you think you’re doing?” Heather couldn’t help but ask eyeing Deana intently.

“No, of course not,” Deana shook her head firmly before sinking down onto the chair beside her. She threw her arms in the air before offering up a small sigh, “I mean I always said I would do this once and just once, but that was before I had Zane. After that I guess I just figured I was one of those people who weren’t meant for marriage. When Zane’s father left me alone to raise Zane it was my top priority.”

“You’re a good mother,” Heather replied warmly taking a seat beside Deana, “Zane would want you to be happy and Grady makes you happy, doesn’t he?”

“Oh heavens yes,” Deana nodded in confession a hint of color rising over her face, “and it’s not just because sex is incredible either. I mean okay, so maybe the fact that he’s the first and only man to ever give me that kind of pleasure makes me all the more thrilled about the prospect of sharing the rest of my life with him, but…”

“The only man?” Heather’s eyes widened with a sudden interest. “Seriously?”

Deana nodded awkwardly bringing her hand up to her cheek and letting out a small laugh, “I was only with one other man before Grady and that was Zane’s father the night Zane was conceived. It lasted probably a whole five seconds and then it was over. The next day I discovered that he was sleeping with one of my best friends as well and I ended it. A few weeks later I learned that not only was my first sexual encounter highly disappointing, but that I was going to have to live with it the rest of my life after I learned I was pregnant. Of course I’m not saying I regret Zane at all, but I mean I had to have the worst luck there. I thought I met someone special and he turned out to be a creep and…”

“You’re afraid that you can’t really open yourself up to happiness because chances are that you’re going to find yourself in that same disappointed position with a lot of regret and doubt hanging over your head,” Heather finished for her watching Deana nod back at her.

“Sounds stupid doesn’t it?” Deana forced a half smile before letting out an ironic laugh. “I mean honestly what kind of person thinks like this on her wedding day?”

“Someone who has been hurt by love and doesn’t want to travel down that road again,” Heather reached out to touch Deana’s shoulder gently, “Look I know that maybe it’s not my place to be offering advice, but having been there I know how you’re feeling. When I was younger I hooked up with jerk after jerk hoping to find something to make me feel anything, but the more I tried to find something, the more it seemed to hurt. When Kyle and I parted ways I wound up doing some really foolish things because I felt like I didn’t deserve love. I hurt myself time and time again and in doing so I made a lot of mistakes all because I didn’t think that love was meant for me. Even after I found Kyle again I didn’t believe that I deserved to be happy.”

“But you are happy,” Deana paused eyeing her for a long moment, “Aren’t you?”

Heather nodded back at her, “Happier than I’ve ever been in my life, but I wouldn’t have been had I not found the strength to take a chance on following my heart. I thought about letting go of what meant the most to me, but if I would have done that I know I would have been miserable just like you’ll be if you don’t try to open yourself up to love. Yeah, so Zane’s father was a jerk who had the stamina of a sneeze, but as you said yourself you and Grady have a lot that you’ve connected with both sexually and emotionally. I can see when you’re together that you care for one another,” Heather paused before offering up a small laugh, “and I think it’s safe to say the hotel knows full well how much you enjoy one another when you’re alone together.”

Deana blushed before clearing her throat, “Were we really that loud?”

“Girl, you were making me envious because as amazing as it is for Kyle and I, I have yet to experience that kind of explosion,” Heather teased with a hint of laughter in her tone. “I was half tempted to bust open the door and see what he was doing so that I could give Kyle a few pointers in that department.”

“Like Kyle needs them,” Deana couldn’t help but laugh at her. “He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who needs any kind of pointers.”

“Well no he doesn’t, but I mean wow when I heard you and Grady,” Heather shook her head before laughing again, “I just knew that I thought Kyle and I should have some of that. It sounded incredible.”

“It was,” Deana blushed before hearing a sound at the door.

“Oh boy,” Heather glanced over in the direction of the sound, “how much do you want to bet that’s your stud right now wanting to come in here for a quickie before the wedding?”

“He can’t do that,” Deana sprung up off of her chair worry carrying over her, “he can’t see me like this before the wedding. It’s bad luck and…”

“I’ll get rid of him,” Heather promised waving her hand dismissively at Deana. She motioned towards the bathroom for Deana to go hide while she approached the door. “Even if I have to hose him down I’ll find a way to get rid of him.”

“Thank you Heather,” Deana called out to her from behind the half opened bathroom door. A second later she popped her head out and spoke up again, “Tell him I love him too would you?”

“You’re going to be able to do it if you don’t get back in there soon,” Heather warned sharply watching Deana disappear behind the bathroom door before she reached out to the lock and opened up the hotel room. She found herself staring into a pair of very blue eyes and in that instant she couldn’t help but smile, “Well hello, who are you? I‘m pretty certain that we didn‘t hire a stripper.”

“A stripper,” he balked back at her surprise washing over him as he looked down to what he was wearing. With a frown he met her eyes again and shook his head, “What in the world would make you think that I was a stripper?”

“Well, I um…I just figured with that box in your hands and,” Heather paused before a frown overtook her. She placed her hands on her hips and glared at him, “Just who the hell are you?”

“I’m Jason,” he replied with a shake of his head, “You know Deana’s brother.”

“Oh Jason,” Heather gasped embarrassment washing over her. She opened the door up further before laughing lightly, “She’s hiding in the bathroom right now.”

“Why?” Jason questioned watching Heather shut the door behind his entrance.

“Is he gone?” Deana asked pulling open the bathroom door a crack.

“If he was here you’d be in big trouble because I just let him in,” Heather teased hearing the door slam shut and listening to Deana squeal, “but lucky for you it’s Jason instead of Grady.”

“Jason,” Deana opened up the door to find her brother standing in front of her with a box in his hands. Happily she rushed over to him moving in for an embrace before pausing. She eyed the box he was holding before a smile pressed in over her features, “Jason, you shouldn’t have.”

“I didn’t,” he admitted with a small laugh seeing the way she’d reached for the box, “It was on the floor outside when I arrived.”

“Really?” Deana replied with a curious expression reaching for the box. She carried it over to the table before turning to face him again, “Come to think of it, where is Zane?”

“He ran into Grady on the way up. He wanted to see him for a few minutes before he made his way over here,” Jason explained with a small laugh. “I think Zane is more excited about this wedding than anyone. He’s already talking about walking down the isle and where Grady is going to start sleeping once he moves into the apartment.”

“The apartment,” Deana paused thinking about how she and Grady hadn’t given thought to what they would do with their living arrangement. “I guess I never thought that…”

“It’s okay. You can just move in with Grady and let me live at your place,” Jason piped in with a chuckle, “I could get very used to being there.”

“I’ll bet you could,” Deana groaned at him before turning her focus to the box in her hands again.

“Oh yeah it would be nice,” Jason nodded again, “Anyways Elliot and Cheryl promised they would bring Zane down here after he spoke with Grady.”

“Sure,” Deana replied noticing the sparkling paper on the small box. She reached out to the card on it and extracted it from the top of the box where the words were typed out on it. She read them aloud. “Something new.”

“New?” Heather moved in closer to her ready to see what Deana had in front of her. “What is it?”

“I don’t know yet,” Deana confessed tearing at the sparkling paper only to discover a tiny velvet box inside. She eagerly opened it up to reveal a sparkling ruby necklace in front of her.

“Oh my,” Heather gasped at the token that was in Deana’s hands, “That had to cost a fortune.”

“Are you sure you didn’t get this for me Jason?” Deana questioned thinking about how there was no name on the card.

“Do I look like I could afford that? Last time I checked I was unemployed,” Jason moved forward to inspect the necklace in her hand, “but it’s pretty sharp.”

“It’s very stunning,” Heather reached out to pull it out of the box, “and you should wear it.”

“I don’t even know where it came from,” Deana pointed out with a small frown, “especially considering it was in front of the door.”

“It had to be Grady,” Heather noted thinking about Deana’s upcoming wedding. “He couldn’t bring it to you himself, so he probably just set it out there for you.”

“Maybe,” Deana lifted her hair feeling Heather move in to place the necklace around her neck. Once Heather was finished Deana reached up to finger the heart shaped ruby that hung proudly in front of her, “It’s so beautiful.”

“Just like you are sis,” Jason whispered brightly, “Grady’s going to die when he sees you.”

“I sure hope not because right now there is nothing that I could want more than to marry the thoughtful, considerate man that bought me this necklace,” Deana mused feeling an excitement carry over her now that she and Grady were one step closer to finding happily ever after with one another.


“I’m sorry,” Blake whispered in a raw tone pulling herself together after she’d cried on Andy for at least a half an hour. She tipped her head up to reveal her blood shot blue eyes as he touched her cheek gently offering up a soothing smile.

“Don’t be,” he mouthed in response smoothing his fingers through her blonde hair, “I care about you and seeing you hurting upsets me as well. As your doctor I want to make sure that you’re doing okay and as your friend, well there isn’t any other place I would rather be than here with you.”

“Thank you,” she attempted to sit up straighter hoping to recollect herself after breaking down in front of him, “I’m not normally like this.”

“Blake, no one else would be any different in your shoes. You’ve had a bad run of luck lately,” he reached out to her again sliding his fingers through her hair before his thumb brushed against her cheekbone in a faint, tender movement, “You have nothing to feel embarrassed over in leaning on me. That’s what I am here for.”

“Thank you but I don’t understand why you’re being so nice to me,” she admitted thinking about how he’d taken to watching over her, “I mean you were friends with Kenny, but you never really seemed to give a second thought to me before…”

“You’re like family Blake. Ken was one of my best friends and I watched you grow from an awkward little girl, to a bright and beautiful woman,” he confessed leaning in closer to her, his blue eyes penetrating hers with a sudden intensity. She opened her mouth to say something, but instead another sound erupted from the far end of the room.

“Well Doc, I didn’t expect to see you here,” Rex blurted out moving into the room and eyeing Andy with heavy scrutiny, “I would’ve thought that you’d be at the hospital now that Blake is no longer under your care.”

“I never approved Blake’s leaving the hospital,” Andy quickly recovered standing up and moving to approach Rex, “We haven’t been formally introduced sir. I’m…”

“That little punk that used to spend time with Kenny-boy,” Rex replied unimpressed as his eyes dropped down to Andy’s outstretched hand. “Yeah, I know all about you and who you are just like I know full well that Blake doesn’t need you here anymore. I have the top doctors in the country keeping an eye on her and her recovery.”

“Uncle Rex,” Blake frowned at her uncle’s rudeness. “Andy was worried about me and…”

“I’ll bet,” Rex mouthed eyeing Andy suspiciously, “I would imagine he was greatly concerned especially now that you’re here by yourself.”

“I wouldn’t want anything to happen to her,” Andy continued to explain when something else captured his attention. He glanced out into the hallway beyond the room they were in and frowned. “If you’d excuse me for a second.”

Rex watched Andy move around him before leaving Blake’s room without another word. As Rex eyed him with heavy scrutiny, Blake spoke up again.

“He’s a good doctor Uncle Rex,” Blake offered up in explanation to Andy’s arrival.

“Good doctor or not I don’t want just anyone here with my niece,” Rex moved forward to squeeze her hand. “How are you feeling sweetheart?”

“I’d be lying if I said I was doing great, but I’ll survive,” Blake explained stiffly refusing to acknowledge her own injuries.

“I know you will princess and I promise you that I’m going to make things right,” Rex assured her ready to say something more when a crashing sound vibrated through the room. He spun around to search for the source when he spotted Andy lunging forward in the hallway just beyond the room they were in. “I’ll be right back honey. Stay put.”

“Okay,” Blake replied worriedly watching her uncle exit the door to leave her with the sounds carrying on outside of her room.

“What in the high heaven is going on out here,” Rex demanded seeing Andy charging at another person who stood by one of the pedestals that there was a sculpture on. The sculpture fell to the ground in a shattering blow taking the other man down with it.

“I told you not to bother her,” Andy warned sharply as Rex moved forward to discover Zack on the ground in front of him, “You’ve already done enough to upset her and I’m not about to let you destroy the balance in her life any more than you already have. She’s suffering enough.”

“As if you have a right to tell me what I can do where Blake is concerned,” Zack sneered pulling himself up off of the ground. He glared at Andy before stepping forward ready to throw out a punch at him. “You can’t tell me what to do where Blake is involved.”

“No he can’t, but I can you little punk,” Rex caught Zack’s fist in the air preventing him from attacking Andy. Rex shoved Zack again before glaring at him, “You’re out of here.”

“No I want to see Blake. I want…” Zack began again only to feel Rex yank him down the hallway towards the exit to the house.

“I don’t give a damn what you want. It’s time to go,” Rex mouthed leaving Andy to watch as Blake’s uncle took care of Zack. With a hint of a smile tapering off over his lips Andy realized if he’d played his cards right he could very easily win over Rex and then have all access to Blake, which was exactly what he was hoping for!


“Now this I could get very used to,” Kevin confessed smiling up at Ria before letting out a small laugh now that Alison was asleep in his arms. He leaned over to kiss her seeing the curiosity brewing behind her eyes, “What do you say? Interested in having a couple of these?”

Ria glanced down at the sleeping infant in his arms and couldn’t help but feel conflicted by seeing the child in Kevin’s arms. Watching Kevin with Angela’s little girl only further reminded him of the daughter that was still out there waiting for Kevin to find. Uneasily Ria shifted beside Kevin attempting to clear her throat before Brant spoke up.

“Don’t get too adjusted to her because you can’t take her home with you,” Brant warned with a hint of teasing in his tone as he and Angela sat on the empty bed in Kevin’s hospital room with Brandon in their arms.

“He says that now but after a few weeks of dirty diapers and late night feedings I’m sure he’ll be dying to retract that statement,” Angela teased leaning in to kiss Brant briefly before redirecting her attention to her sleeping son.

“Nah, I wouldn’t trade any of this for anything in the world. You have no idea how good it feels to actually be a father,” Brant confessed reaching out to touch his son’s tiny fingers. “This is even better than I could’ve imagined. I mean to sit here and see two beautiful little people that were created by our love…”

“You’re even better than I imagined,” Angela replied leaning in closer to Brant to steal a kiss from him before Kevin let out a groan.

“Oh please get a room,” Kevin teased before turning to Ria, “although you know if they keep that up maybe we should give them something to feel jealous of considering that we’re the ones with all the chemistry baby.”

“Keep telling yourself that Kevin,” Angela mouthed with a tiny laugh ready to say something more when the phone beside Kevin’s bed started to ring.

“Were you expecting a call?” Ria couldn’t help but ask seeing the surprise in Kevin’s eyes at the ringing phone.

“I didn’t realize anyone else knew I was here,” Kevin paused for a moment, “well other than Russ and Avery and everyone on the island, but still. Maybe Avery is calling to check up on me.”

“So you want me to answer that?” Ria nodded to the phone again.

“Yeah, I should probably talk to her,” Kevin decided thinking about Russ and Avery’s upcoming wedding. “I need to let her know a few things and…”

“You really think Avery would be calling,” Brant remarked with a curious expression. He caught the look that Angela gave him before he cleared his throat again, “not that I would care one way or the other, but…”

“Good answer,” Angela jabbed him lightly before focusing on their son again, “You don’t need to worry yourself with her or her problems.”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Brant admitted turning his attention to his son in Angela’s arms, “though I was planning on our talking about our own wedding around the corner once we are able to get you and Kellen out of being together.”

“Kellen and I were never together,” Angela couldn’t help but crack a smile at the thought, “I thought you and I already covered this.”

“We did, but I just wanted to make sure,” Brant teased with a small wink before hearing Kevin’s voice change.

“I see,” Kevin replied stiffly, his words coming out hollow and empty as he kept the phone to his ear, “When did this happen? How long has he been there? And Blake?”

“Blake,” Brant repeated removing his arm from around Angela’s shoulders as his full focus turned to Kevin. He stepped forward sensing something was wrong by the expression on Kevin’s face and as Kevin hung up the phone Brant couldn’t help but ask for answers. “Kevin, what’s going on?”

“Blake was in an accident,” Kevin explained with a heaviness in his tone.

“Accident,” Brant repeated worriedly, “What kind of accident?”

“She was hit by a car,” Kevin started taking in a breath, “They think that Valerie Madison ran her over and…”

“Oh my God,” Angela gasped horrified at what Kevin was telling them, “Is she alright?”

“The doctors said she would be fine,” Ria offered up thinking about the last time she’d seen Seth.

“Wait, you knew about this?” Kevin’s dark eyes darted up towards Ria once again, “You knew about this and didn’t say anything.”

“I didn’t think about it until just now,” Ria offered up apologetically, “I was going to tell you because I had seen Seth before I left, but…”

“Wait, you knew my sister was in an accident and you just kept your mouth shut,” Brant’s brow creased with tension, “You knew she was hurt and….”

“Brant relax,” Angela reached out to touch his arm. “Ria hasn’t exactly had time to get a word in here. She flew in during the storm and was hit with one train wreck after the other.”

“Yeah well it’s time for one more,” Kevin blurted out with a grumble, “Seth is in jail.”

“Wait, what?” Brant glanced over at Kevin once again, “Why?”

“Because apparently Valerie is dead and the idiots running the police department think that he’s the one that killed her,” Kevin’s jaw flexed with tension, “but I would’ve done the honors if I’d been there especially when I think of what she did to Blake and the baby…”

“Baby,” Brant repeated feeling completely kept out of the loop in the conversation, “what baby?”

“She was pregnant before Valerie hit her,” Kevin explained in a raw, agitated tone, “That witch tried to murder Blake and now…”

“I have to see her. I have to get back home to my sister,” Brant decided thinking about what his sister must be going through. “I have to get the jet fueled up and…”

“I’m going with you. There is no way in hell that I’m about to let my cousin rot in a jail cell for something that he wouldn’t have done. Hell if he did to it, he’s still not going to rot in jail because that woman deserved a lot worse,” Kevin declared thinking about what he’d learned over the phone.

“Who called you?” Angela couldn’t help but ask.

“Strangely enough Sarah, but I’m glad she did because now I know what’s going on and now I have to find a way to fix it,” Kevin decided exchanging glances with Brant. “You say you can get the jet fueled up and ready to go?”

“I’m already on it,” Brant assured him ready to do what was necessary to get back to Coral Valley and to his sister when it was clear that she needed him now more than ever. He turned to Angela seeing something cross over her features, “If Blake’s in trouble…”

“Then we’re going home,” Angela finished for him knowing full well that nothing was more important than being there for family in a time of need and given what Kevin had just told them it was obvious that the time was now!


After sitting in silence for what almost seemed like forever while Ben was still inside of the bathroom obviously ‘hiding’ from the rest of the world, Alexa decided that she couldn’t just sit there anymore. After the things he said to her, she wasn’t really feeling well and good about herself to begin with.

Sitting in this silence was making things worse because the more she thought about it, the more she could hear his voice repeating in her head over and over again about the things he thought about her.

Maybe it was time to go for a walk or something rather than sitting here waiting for him to come back out. If he wanted to come out and say something…he would have done it already. The fact that he hadn’t done it yet showed to her that he wasn’t going to.

What he said, he meant and she would just have to deal with it. He was upset and she had no right to feel the way she did right now. It was none of her business to be involved in his relationship problems anyway.

Getting up from the bed, she reached for her keys and moved toward the hotel room door pulling it open. When she did, she heard the sound of the bathroom door finally opening and she saw Ben standing in the doorway staring out at her.

“I’m just…I’m going to go for a walk,” she simply said not knowing what else to really say to him right now. She didn’t even expect him to come out of there anytime soon. The fact that he did, shocked her. “I’ll be back.”

“Alexa…” Ben sighed heavily moving toward the door approaching her a bit as he grabbed a hold of the door. Motioning her to go back to sit on the bed, he closed the door before she could leave and he sighed. “Don’t leave. We have to talk about things.”

“I don’t really think there is anything else to say about this kind of thing,” she answered thinking about the things he said and knew that she really couldn’t take him saying much more other than what he did. “I think we should just leave it at what we left it at before you came out of the bathroom.”

“No we shouldn’t because I was being an asshole,” he explained pleading with her in a way as he held his hands up in the air and tried to describe to her what he felt. “I was mad at myself for this whole ordeal that I blew up at you and I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize to me. I was in your business and I shouldn’t have even stated an opinion because you are right. I don’t know what it’s like,” she muttered and he could see that her feelings were still wounded by what he said as she shrugged. “It’s fine Ben…really.”

“Please let me try to apologize here, I’m really sorry that I hurt your feelings, okay? I am just…I miss my life. I miss my friends. I miss Diane. I miss being with her,” he rambled on a bit before sitting down on the bed next to her and he shook his head. “I’m not good with these kind of things and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you when I was mad at myself. Do you think you could forgive me?”

“Of course,” she spoke up seeing the way he smiled before moving forward to hug her quickly and when he pulled away she shrugged. “You know…I could try to get someone else to work on this case with me if you want. Maybe that would help and it could get you back to your life.”

“No, I’m fine…,” Ben sighed standing up from the bed and moved over toward his phone to look down at the screen. “I started something and I’m going to finish it. That’s the only way we are ever going to finish this.”

“Alright,” she simply nodded and she hoped that they finished this sooner than she thought they would because she didn’t want it to be like this for long.

Ben constantly slipping up with his anger…it was something Alexa wasn’t used to and she wanted to make sure that she avoided that side of him! And hopefully she could do that by getting a move on this case…somehow.


Diane stomped out of the ladies room ready to just put the night behind her after her disastrous conversation with Ben. Although her pride had kept her from calling Ben back initially she couldn’t help but find herself caving in as she dialed his cell phone number only to be greeted by his voice mail. She’d tried a couple more times before exiting the ladies room with no avail. Now as she reentered the bar all she wanted to do was go back to Deidra’s place and bury herself in her sorrows and perhaps some of the double chunk chocolate ice-cream that Deidra had hidden in the back of the freezer. She just had to collect Shane and be on her way. It would be an end to another miserable night brought on by the distance between her and Ben. Of course as Diane spotted Shane and Cathy over by the bar doing shots with one another, Diane suddenly realized it wasn’t going to be nearly as easy as she’d anticipated.

“Honestly what is a sexy guy like you doing wasting your time with someone as miserable as Diane Stevens?” Cathy slurred running her hand across Shane’s arm as her eyes widened with curiosity. “She’s not even remotely close to being loyal with men. She’s a user and a cheat and that’s on a good day…”

“Maybe I like danger,” Shane wiggled his brow suggestively. He set his shot glass down on the countertop before signaling the bartender to bring them another round.

“Then I’m sure you’d like me,” she arched in towards him, using the momentum to slide her shirt further down over her cleavage to reveal her ‘attributes’ to him. “We could get into lots of trouble with one another.”

“Unfortunately for you Shane has other plans,” Diane finally interrupted with a glare stepping in beside Shane and Cathy. “He’s here with me tonight.”

“As your friend,” Cathy reminded her with a wrinkled expression, “but a man like Shane needs more than a friend especially on a cold, lonely night like tonight.”

“Actually the drinks are helping with that,” Shane motioned to the shot glass on the counter top, “Can I buy you a drink?”

“Why not,” Diane decided sliding in closer to the bar and reaching for his newly refilled glass. She raised it to her lips and downed it immediately. Setting it down she turned to the bartender. “How about another?”

“You’ve got it,” the bartender smiled at her while refilling the glass.

“Actually,” Cathy began elbowing Diane harshly in the hopes of causing her to spill the newly refilled shot, “Shane and I were having a bit of a drinking contest between us and you’re not invited Diane.”

“A drinking contest?” Diane repeated giving Shane a curious look.

“I don’t know if I’d call it that exactly,” Shane flashed a small smile in Cathy’s direction. “Rather we were just having a wager on something if you will…”

“What kind of wager?” Diane’s dark eyes shot back to Cathy.

“If I win, he comes home with me and it’s no holds barred tonight,” Cathy explained licking her lips in a provocative fashion.

“And if he wins?” Diane couldn’t help but question.

“Then he’s stuck with you I suppose,” Cathy wrinkled her nose at the thought, “though I’m pretty sure it won’t get to that. Now if you‘ll excuse us we‘ve got another round here to start.”

“Actually,” Diane ripped the glass out of Cathy’s hand, “considering that Shane’s here with me, I don’t think he’s in a position to be entering into any kind of bets with you. He’s with me tonight.”

“Last time I checked he’s not a puppy dog,” Cathy rolled her eyes at Diane before sliding her fingers down across Shane‘s chest. “From what I’ve seen he’s a very strong willed capable man ready to make his own decisions about things in life around him so if you’ll excuse us.”

“No it doesn’t work that way,” Diane argued pushing her way between Cathy and Shane. “I’m the one that asked Shane to join me here tonight so if you even think you are going to stand a chance at taking him off my hands, then you need to go through me first.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard,” Cathy rolled her eyes in response.

“Good, then how about we start where you left off?” Diane motioned to the bartender to give them another round of shots. He poured the drinks and prepared to walk away as Diane reached out to him again. “Could you just leave the bottle?”

“I don’t know if I could seeing as…” the bartender began to politely decline as he’d caught part of the conversation between the two women.

“I’ll see that everything is taken care of,” Shane assured the man while withdrawing a hundred dollar bill out of his pocket.

The bartender shrugged and left the bottle on the countertop before walking away to tend to other patrons. Once he was out of sight Diane flashed an icy smirk over at Cathy.

“So what do you say? Still think you can out drink me?” Diane questioned boldly.

“I’ve already had three shots,” Cathy folded her arms in front of her chest smugly, “so you’re already losing.”

“In that case I’ll more than catch up,” Diane downed three more drinks before glaring over at Cathy. “I’ll even make it so the first one doesn’t count. How’s that?”

“Fair enough,” Cathy motioned for Diane to pour them another round of shots.

“Diane, you don’t have to do this,” Shane whispered over her shoulder as Diane prepared to enter into battle with Cathy.

“Oh but I do,” Diane explained turning around to face him. “Cathy’s always trying to one up me and I’m not about to let her do it again.”

“Diane, I was half joking when she made that proposal,” Shane lowered his voice a bit. “I know I can out drink her without any effort considering that it’s clear she’s already plastered. It won’t be much of a contest.”

“Sure it will,” Diane tipped her head up towards him, “because the last thing I’m going to let happen is having Cathy get her hooks into you. She’s the last kind of woman you need in your bed.”

“It won’t get that far Diane,” Shane explained as Cathy tapped her nails on the countertop impatiently.

“Are you two almost done over there?” Cathy muttered impatiently. “I have big plans for Shane tonight and you’re not helping in delaying them.”

“You can’t sleep with her Shane,” Diane pleaded with him ignoring Cathy’s protest. “She’s not at all the kind of woman that you need in your life.”

“Believe me Diane I’m no saint,” Shane glanced over her shoulder to Cathy’s general direction, “and I’ve done worse I’m sure. I don‘t think I‘ll lose, but if I do I‘m sure I can go with the flow for a while.”

“Not tonight you aren’t,” Diane reached out to slide her fingers across the side of his face. She forced him to meet her eyes as she spoke up in an authoritative tone. “The only woman you’re going to be walking out of the bar with tonight is me. Is that clear?”

“Diane, I can’t ask you to defend my honor by entering into a drinking contest with her. It’s silly to think that…” Shane began to protest as she placed her index finger over his lips to silence him.

“You didn’t ask. I offered and I’m not about to take a refusal from you for that matter,” Diane turned away from him to glare up at Cathy.

“Are you ready?” Cathy asked impatiently.

“Bring it on,” Diane goaded her further as she reached for the bottle, “because tonight winner takes all.”

“Oh I intend to,” Cathy smirked as Shane watched with amusement knowing that he’d made a bold, yet welcome move in initiating a conversation with Cathy after Diane had taken off to speak with Ben. Granted the drinking contest was Cathy’s idea, but the jealousy he’d been rewarded with in Diane was going to be enough ammunition to get the job done at long last. Tonight he was certain that he would put an end to the manipulations he’d brought forth upon Diane Stevens as tonight would be about collecting the ultimate prize once and for all.


...to be continued...