Episode 426

“That was a really beautiful wedding,” Heather confessed sinking back into Kyle’s arms as they stood on the balcony in their hotel room. They looked out over the water beyond the shoreline beneath them. She felt his strong arms wrap around her as a smile teased over the corners of her lips. “I think Deana and Grady are going to be really happy.”

“I hope so because they both deserve a taste of what we have,” Kyle whispered warmly in the back of her ear leaning in to kiss the side of her neck. He felt her shiver with the movement before a giggle spilled over her lips.

“That tickles,” she wiggled in his arms before turning around to face him. She reached out to touch his goatee before laughing lightly, “I love all of you, but this will take some time to get used to.”

“Want me to shave it?” he questioned with a curious expression.

“Don’t you dare,” she shook her head at him, “I love it on you. I always have it’s just well, it’s different when you’re not just admiring it from afar. When you wind up kissing it each and every day…”

“That sure sounds an awful lot like a complaint to me,” Kyle noted with a hint of a smirk building over the corners of his lips, “I thought that we’d agreed once we were married that we’d be happy with everything.”

“If we did that we’d be lying,” she pointed out stepping up on her toes and giving him a quick kiss before tugging on his goatee once more, “but in reference to this, I can live with that and live very well I might add. It just will take a little adjusting to and some moisturizer for my skin, but I suppose that’s the price to pay for true love.”

“Just like your endless shoe collection hogging up the closet is something I’ll have to get used to,” Kyle noted with a pointed expression squeezing her in his arms. “Come to think of it Heather, half of those shoes I have never seen you wear.”

“That’s because you can’t wear the same shoes twice to an event,” she wrinkled her nose at the thought, “Do you have any idea how bad that would look if advertisers saw me doing that when…”

“If you’re not going to wear them again, then why not get rid of them?” Kyle suggested thinking about the endless mountain of shoes in her closet. “Surely someone somewhere would put them to good use.”

“Kyle some of those are custom made. Do you have any idea how much they are worth?” she wrinkled her nose at him before shaking her head. “Honestly I would be crazy to just give them away.”

“And so here we are doing exactly what every other married couple does when the honeymoon is over,” he shook his head dropping his arms down around her waist leisurely, “fighting over the silly things.”

“We aren’t fighting. We’re just having a heated discussion about little things,” she corrected with a hint of a smile, “and I’m sure given time you’ll get use to my shoes just like I’ll get used to kissing you with that on your face.”

“I think you like kissing me with this on my face,” he pulled her in closer to him, his hazel eyes sparked with something mischievous burning behind them.

“Maybe,” Heather sighed feeling his lips descending closer to hers.

“Oh I think it’s more than maybe,” he replied his lips tapering off over the side of her neck in a slow, drawn out movement, “Face it Heather you’re crazy about me. Goatee and all.”

“I suppose you have grown on me and since I did marry you after all,” she laughed lightly before stepping back out of his arms just a bit, “I might have seen something special there.”

“I’ll show you something special,” Kyle reached out to her bending down just enough to scoop her into his arms and kiss her enthusiastically.

“Kyle,” she squealed feeling his kisses tickle over her skin as he carried her back into their hotel room ready to ravish her.

“About that honeymoon phase,” he decided bouncing down on the bed with her in his arms, “I think perhaps it’s time that we get back to that, don’t you?”

“Well since you put it that way we did never really have a proper honeymoon,” she decided reaching out to tease her fingers over the center of his chest before smiling. “Though I should warn you I’m feeling very, very aggressive tonight.”

“Good,” Kyle smirked up at her reaching out to wrap his large hands around her hips and bring her in over him, “because I happen to like you that way. The more aggressive the better.”

Heather giggled at the low growling noise he made before sitting up to place ravenous kisses over the side of her neck. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders before leaning down to nibble on his earlobe with wicked intent.

“Good, then be prepared to experience the night of your life because the honeymoon is just starting Mr. Houston,” Heather assured him reaching out to strip him from his tuxedo shirt as she vowed to make the most of this alone time with her husband now that they’d fulfilled their obligations for the day with their friends. Now was a time for focusing on the simple pleasures they could derive from one another.


“I think she’s partied it up harder than she’s used to tonight,” Russ noted seeing Erin laying in her crib lost in her slumber as she held onto her toy rabbit. He leaned in to kiss her tiny head, touching the dark curls near the crown of her head before stepping back to admire his daughter. Finally he glanced over his shoulder at Avery, “Wouldn’t you agree?”

“I think she’s had more of her fill of excitement tonight,” Avery nodded in response motioning for Russ to join her outside of the bedroom area, “but that doesn’t mean we have to go to bed just yet.”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Russ whispered in response before turning to Erin again. He kissed the top of her head before smiling down at her one last time. He adjusted her blanket before following Avery out into the living room area in their suite. He watched her move over to the small refrigerator and pull out a few bottles of water she’d had chilling for them.

“Thirsty?” she questioned holding up the bottle in her right hand for him.

“I don’t mind if I do,” Russ replied reaching out to take it from her before pulling her into his arms and kissing her quickly.

“Mmm, I don’t mind if I do,” Avery mouthed in response curling her fingers over the front of his shirt and claiming his lips again in a desire filled kiss. “Very nice.”

“I thought you might like that,” he teased rubbing his nose in against hers before reaching for her hand and guiding her over to the sofa with him. Once they sat down he leaned back taking her in his arms where she settled in against his chest. He smiled wrapping his arms around her before he thought about the night that they’d just experienced, “Tonight was good, wasn’t it?”

“Grady looked really happy,” Avery nodded in agreement thinking about how Deana and Grady’s wedding went off without any problems. “Maybe this time he’ll finally find peace with himself now that he has love in his life.”

“It was so different from when he married Susan,” Russ thought back to his brother’s first marriage. “Susan was so miserable, yet Deana is so incredibly sweet and amazing. She’s the kind of woman that Grady has always needed in his life.”

“Meaning she’ll keep his butt in line when he starts to misbehave,” Avery chortled with a tiny laugh thinking about the years of dealing with Grady’s mood swings. “I have a feeling he doesn’t even realize yet how tight a leash she’s going to keep on him.”

“It’ll be good for him,” Russ laughed lightly before a sigh spilled over his lips, “although as much as I adore Deana, I can’t help but think about how much things have changed since well, since I returned.”

“How so?” she questioned turning in his arms to see something pass over his features.

“The last time I was in town before everything happened, Grady and Jade were just so happy and now to think that she’s dead,” Russ shook his head and sighed, “I still can’t get over that. I mean between her and Caitlin…”

“It was hard after the explosion,” Avery reminded him thinking about the months of misery she’d felt without him in her life. “It was so unexpected and…”

“And to learn that Susan was behind it,” Russ shook his head and groaned, “I just can’t seem to process that one. I mean how can someone be so vicious and cruel? I know that they were two separate incidents, but for Susan to torture both Caitlin and Jade…”

“I don’t know what motivated Susan, but at the same time I’m kind of relieved that she’s not around for us to ask her,” Avery turned in his arms ever so slightly. “She brought nothing but misery for Grady and it was because of her that he was lost for so many years.”

“I know,” Russ agreed with her reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “It’s just when I think about how they went from two people in love to being two people who were…”

“Russ, it’s not worth wrapping your mind around,” she sat up straighter meeting his concerned green eyes, “Susan is gone and your brother is happy with Deana. It’s clear that they love one another and they have the chance to start a new life with one another.”

“Yeah, I know,” he paused for a moment sliding his fingers into her long, dark hair. “Speaking of which I’ve been thinking about that where we are concerned.”

“What do you mean?” she couldn’t help but ask sensing something in his tone.

“Well we’d planned on being married this week, but we already are and now with Grady being married and settling down it seems like things are finally in order,” he informed her with a thoughtful expression. “Well almost everything…”

“What’s missing?” she couldn’t help but blurt out catching the whimsical expression on his face.

“Avery, I started thinking about this after you went missing and something hit me,” he started to explain drawing her in nearer to him. “I thought about all the things that I missed out with you on when you were pregnant with Erin. All those months that I was away from you there were things happening, experiences that we were meant to share with one another…”

“We shared the greatest one when you rescued us,” Avery informed him simply, feeling the warmth of his touch sending a tiny rush of sensation over her.

“I realize that, but still I got to thinking about us and about how incredible it was when we discovered you were pregnant with Erin,” Russ explained with a smile expanding over his lips, “She is our little miracle baby and there is so much that we have to look forward to with her. I know I wasn’t here when you needed me when I lost my memory, but…”

“Russ, it’s okay. You’re here now and we’re a family. That’s what really counts,” Avery leaned in to kiss him gently, “That’s what is really important for us. There are no more obstacles in our way and we can finally just absorb being happy together.”

“I want to do that,” Russ explained squeezing her in his arms. He carefully repositioned them on the sofa so that she was laying beside him as he stroked the side of her face. “I want for us to put the past behind us and move forward to the dreams that we’ve always had for us and our family.”

“I think we’re on the right road to doing that,” she mouthed in response leaning in to kiss him again feeling the soft, sensual sweep of his lips against hers.

“Avery, when I think of how close we have come to losing one another time and time again, it’s gotten me thinking about what’s important--about what really matters and that’s the love we have for one another and for our family,” Russ informed her his lips grazing over the side of her neck.

“This is everything I ever could’ve dreamt of,” she murmured in response closing her eyes and feeling his lips taper off over her shoulder while his hand pressed in over the front of her shirt she’d changed into. He undid the buttons on it before placing his large hand inside to caress her smooth skin.

“I feel that way too which is why I know that our expanding our love within our family is the right thing to do,” he moved to steal a kiss from her once again, “which is why I think that we should have another baby.”

“What?” Avery blinked back at him feeling a gulp build in the back of her throat. She saw the way his eyes were glazed over with emotion and she tried to recover from what he’d just said, “Russ, are you serious?”

“We always said that we’d have a baseball team,” he nodded in confession a grin expanding over his lips. “What could be better than Erin having a little brother or sister? It would take us one step closer to that dream for us.”

“Russ, I know we talked about it, but…” Avery wiggled out of his arms unable to refrain from showing the surprise that carried over her. She sat upright on the couch before tipping her head to the side to look at him once more, “Another baby? Really?”

“Well, I mean Erin is young enough that I’m sure she would adjust to a little brother or sister wonderfully,” Russ reached out to her touching her face gently, “Plus this time around I’ll be here for you every step of the way. We can plan it out and…”

“And being pregnant is not really going to fit into the cards right now,” Avery couldn’t help but frown at his suggestion, “I mean don’t get me wrong Russ I would love to have another baby with you one day, but think about it. I’m barely employed with Grady and you’re working like mad to keep the newspaper over the top. We barely have time for each other and Erin, let alone the thought of bringing another baby into the craziness that surrounds our lives.”

“Avery, come on. You know that it wouldn’t be so bad,” Russ started again only to watch her get up off of the sofa in order to pace around the room.

“Russ, you have no idea how difficult it was for me being pregnant while you were gone,” Avery replied turning to face him once again. “I endured so many things with your ‘dying’ and with Bruce that I can honestly tell you that I don’t think I’m up for that kind of experience all over again. Emotionally it was very taxing on me. Don’t get me wrong I love Erin, but…”

“But things weren’t typical Avery. We had a lot happening and it wasn’t like it was supposed to be,” Russ reached out to her only to feel her withdraw from his reach.

“Russ, you can’t make up for lost time by having another baby. It doesn’t work that way,” she shook her head at him and sighed, “We can’t just pretend that everything that happened didn’t simply because you want to give it a second try.”

“Avery, you've known since we were very young that I’d talked about a large family,” Russ stood up reaching out to her only to feel her stiffen against his urgings. “We both said it was what we wanted.”

“I know what we said Russ, but given all the problems that keep coming up,” she turned to face him again, “Russ, we got lucky with Erin, but there is no saying that it could happen again. You and I both know that Bruce was drugging me for a while and…”

“And Erin turned out beautiful,” he touched the side of her face in a loving gesture. “She’s the most amazing little girl and I know that any other child we could create together would be just as perfect.”

“Russ, we need to focus on Erin now. She’s been through a lot, even if most of it was before she was born. We shouldn’t keep bringing other people into the situation,” she replied with a shake of her head. “I’m not ready to be pregnant again Russ. I’m sorry.”

“Avery, I just thought that…” he watched her withdraw from his reach and step across the room.

“I wish I could give you the answer that you’re so desperately hoping for, but Russ the timing doesn’t feel right for me. I don’t know when it will, but right now it just doesn’t,” Avery explained opening her mouth to say something more when Erin’s tiny voice sounded from the bedroom area. She glanced over in the direction of the sound before turning to Russ again, “I have to go check in on her.”

“I can do it,” Russ decided stepping around her before going to check in on their daughter.

“Russ hey,” Avery called out to him sensing his displeasure with what she’d told him.

“Avery, I get it and it’s fine. The timing just isn’t right,” Russ shrugged his shoulders, speaking in an aloof tone before taking off to check in on their daughter now that she was requesting their attention.

As Avery watched him leave, she sat back down on the couch wondering why she’d felt so quick to dismiss his idea about another baby. Sinking back into the cushions she thought back to the violent mood swings she’d had right after Erin was born and in that moment she feared that if she’d had another child she would wind up driving both of them crazy all over again. Of course that was just one small factor in the thought of having another child, but still with so much turmoil surrounding their lives it wasn’t the right time to bring another life into the strangeness that surrounded them. That certainly was something that was understandable given the nature of their lives in Coral Valley, or was it?

“I give up,” Avery threw her hands in the air vowing not to lose herself to thoughts of what had prompted her reaction to his suggestion. Right now they had a lot on their plate and another baby would only complicate matters. Sure, Russ was always gung ho about a big family, but now should be about rediscovering one another and sharing their time with Erin, not about trying to make up for the mistakes they’d experienced in the past. If they’d gone down that path of having another child so soon, they would be miserable with one another after the weight of the emotional situation set in over them. Avery was almost certain of it.


“I can’t believe that he ate that much wedding cake,” Deana confessed closing the door to Zane’s bedroom in their suite. She turned around to face Grady with a shake of her head. “If he ends up getting sick and throwing up later, then you’re so taking care of it since you refused to let me stop him.”

“Hey, how many times does he get to take part in his mother’s wedding?” Grady laughed lightly from where he sat on the sofa. He patted the cushion beside him and wiggled his brow suggestively. “Although if you feel compelled to spank me tonight for my bad behavior I won’t be compelled to argue the matter.”

“Gee, why doesn’t that surprise me,” Deana rolled her eyes as she bunched up the bottom of her dress in an attempt to get comfortable. She started to plop down on the sofa before standing up straighter. “How about you give me a hand with this thing? I feel like I’m suffocating in it.”

“It’s beautiful,” Grady noted giving her a long once over. “It’s the perfect dress for the perfect bride.”

“And it will be even more perfect when it’s hanging up in the closet and I can breathe again,” she batted her eyelashes at him. “Grady, I’m ready for what comes next for us after the wedding ceremony and reception.”

“You mean the days of comfort that lead to lazy evenings in front of the television?” he questioned rising to his feet and stepping in behind her.

“That sounds like heaven,” she admitted freely, “because my feet are killing me right about now after all the dancing. I was so eager for flats, but then I found those heels and…”

“You were radiant,” Grady whispered tipping down to kiss the side of her neck leisurely. His finger tips eased over the zipper on the back of her wedding gown, sliding it down in a slow, tentative movement. “You are still by far the most beautiful woman I’ve laid eyes upon.”

“Mmm, keep talking like that and I may have to spoil you later,” she kept her eyes closed and sighed.

“How about sooner?” he questioned drawing his fingertips up underneath the straps of her gown. He raised the material off of her shoulder before guiding it down over her arms.

“I am a bit tired,” she sighed dropping her arms down at her side and allowing the dress to fall down beyond her waist.

“Too tired for a honeymoon night?” Grady questioned pushing the dress down over her hips. His thick fingers pressed over the silken slip she had on beneath her gown.

“Now that you mention it I am feeling a small rush of energy,” she smirked while leaning back into his embrace.

“I thought you might,” he smiled squeezing his arms around her waist and enveloping her closer to him. “I had the distinct feeling that you might be compelled to stay awake a little while longer.”

“Zane’s fast asleep so I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if you and I spent some time together,” she tipped her head back, allowing her brown eyes to meet his gaze over her shoulder, “enjoying each other’s company.”

“I was hoping you’d say that,” he added brightly. A moment later he scooped her up into his arms completely. His lips dropped down over hers and he kissed her ravenously.

“I just bet you were,” she murmured in between kisses as he stepped towards their bedroom area in the suite.

“I’ve been dreaming about this all day,” Grady confessed pushing open the door and carrying her inside, “and I have to tell you that now that the moment is here I’m hoping that we’ll be able to enjoy it to the fullest.”

“Given what you’ve shown me thus far about your skills Mr. Denton there isn’t a doubt in my mind that you’ll be more than up for whatever plans you’re about to initiate,” she joked as she pulled back long enough to meet his green eyes.

“My plans for us involve happily ever after Mrs. Denton and nothing less,” Grady assured her as he carefully pushed the door to a close with his hip. He paused for a moment and reached out to lock it just in case Zane’s cake eating came back to haunt them. Turning his attention to Deana again he carried her over to the bed. “Now where were we?”

“Right about here,” she replied pulling him down with her onto the bed as the two embarked upon their first night together as husband and wife.


Staring out at the sunset amongst the shoreline, Jason moved in toward the dry sand after walking through the water for a while. He had gone off to think about things. To try and get his mind around everything that had been happening over the last few months. With his family. His life. All those things.

This island was a nice place to just relax and walk around aimlessly on. No one to bother you. Beauties to stare and gaze upon. It was something new and exciting. Something that really could get a person thinking.

Letting out a heavy breath, he settled down in the sand trying to focus on the things that had been on his mind all night.

Resting his head back, he gazed out at the ocean as he took in a deep breath and shook his head slowly. When he was coming to this island, he had imagined that Mindy would be coming with him. They were friends. They were close enough, why didn’t she want to accept his invitations?

“This is all so confusing,” Jason mumbled to himself knowing that he had fully expected to bring his so called ‘date’ in Mindy. He thought she would love to come with him. Boy was he wrong!

When he asked her about it, she didn’t even seem to think twice about the idea. It was almost like an instant no for her. She didn’t even want to take a minute to think about it. For some reason it shocked him. They had seemed to be getting really close over the last few months. Or so he thought. He really believed that. Was he that wrong? And if so, what was so wrong about him.

Yeah, he was pretending to be gay, but he knew she still believed it. There was just that need to want to get closer to her. To long for something more with someone. And with Mindy, it just seemed like they clicked. From day one.

Things were a little rocky and…weird…at first, but things were getting better. More steady. She wanted to spend more time with him. She was calling him more. So did he read this whole situation completely wrong? Or was there something more behind it all?

Ideas were just flying through his head and the more he thought about, the more he was confused about it. It was going in the opposite direct, not the right direction.

While he hoped that this would accomplish some kind of something along the way, he knew it really wasn’t helping. His sister would be off with her husband. Happy. He knew she would be. Maybe that’s why he was feeling down. He longed for something like that. Something special. Something more.

The sounds of loud music piercing through the air caught his attention as he looked over his shoulder noticing a few bikers moving out of the bar making a scene with their loud hefty laughter and their bickering.

Wherever they were at sounded more fun than this. Just sitting around and wasting time thinking about all of his sorrows. He was unlucky in love, but also in a bad situation with something he couldn’t handle or take care of.

There was no way to take back Mindy telling him no to coming with him, so there was no point in just sitting there and moping. That was going to lead him no where, real fast. And he hated it.

“Might as well check out the place,” Jason moved to his feet and over toward the bar knowing that it seemed like a pretty hopping joint for the island. A good hang out for those looking for a good time and it happened to be right next to the hotel. Not far to go. “Why not?”

Stepping inside, he heard the sounds of civilization. People talking, people laughing. The things that could make a normal person comfortable.

Unfortunately for him, it was the things that made him feel like he stood out. Like he didn’t belong. He didn’t have another. He didn’t have someone to talk to or someone to even say was his friend.

Nervously moving through the crowd he headed over toward an empty bar seat and motioned for a beer quietly. As much as he would love to mingle with someone, he knew that he couldn’t. He wasn’t in the position to do so.

“What’s a guy like you doing in a place like this all alone?” a voice pressed in over him as he took in a deep breath and turned toward the slender form that he felt press in next to him. The motion alone pulled him out of his lingering thoughts while he stared down at the slender brunette before him. “A man like you…should surely be having someone on his side on a night like tonight.”

“Oh yeah?” Jason knew that he had told himself that he shouldn’t be interested in anyone with the mood he was in over Mindy, but this petite woman in front of him perked his interest. “What’s so special about tonight?”

“It was the night you met me,” Jason felt her reach up to trail her finger down the front of his chest. Taking in a deep breath, he felt her fingertips caress small circles over his skin that was exposed from the top two buttons of his shirt being undone. “I’d say that was something special to make this night eventful.”

“I’m starting to think that myself,” he smirked biting down on his bottom lip as he eyed her over and could still feel her fingers tracing over the muscular lines of his chest through the material of his shirt. “I’m Jason.”

“Crystal,” she simply stated back turning toward the bar tapping her hand against the top of it before looking back at him with her brown eyes. “How about I get you a drink, Jason?”

“That sounds nice, but the next one is on me,” Jason fell into flirting with this new female that stepped up into his life unexpectedly. Sure, he still felt for Mindy and was upset about the situation with her, but she thought he was gay and would never look at him like a straight man. “So Crystal, I guess I have the same question for you. What’s a woman like you doing here all alone?”

“I’m not alone, I’m with you now,” Crystal winked at him before sliding him over the shot she bought for him watching him smirk and then quickly drink down the burning liquid. “So I think we both solved the problem of the night when we found each other.”

Smirking, he motioned for the bartender back toward them and hoped that this was a good change for once. Instead of moping about the things he didn’t have, he was going to indulge himself in this experience because it was good for him. Well, at least he thought so!


“Hey Mindy?” Trisha pushed open the door of their apartment, stepping inside to see a few cat toys thrown around the room telling her that Rusty was at their place for the night. Closing the door behind her, she could hear silence in the house except for a few little sounds of rustling in the living room. “Are you here?”

Stepping inside of the living room she expected to find Mindy inside playing with Rusty, but when she saw Mindy sleeping in the arms of Nate she found herself rather amused.

Here she thought she would find her friend in a rather boring position playing with the cat she was supposed to baby sit for Russ and Avery while they were gone. Instead, she was rather surprised to see her in the arms of one of the men she had been spending some time with lately.

“Well I can see you are more comfortable than I thought you would be,” Trisha folded her arms out in front of her chest watching Rusty prance over toward the couch before jumping up with Nate and Mindy. The movement caused Mindy’s eyes to flutter open for a small moment before she fully noticed that Trisha was in front of her and jumped. “Well good morning sleeping beauty. You sure look comfortable.”

“This isn’t what it looks like,” Mindy felt Nate’s arm hooked around her and she lifted her head from the pillow noticing that Nate was still asleep amongst their talking.

“Oh, so you weren’t just sleeping in Nate’s arms on the couch?” Trisha questioned sarcastically in a teasing tone watching the way Mindy’s eyes got wide before she looked back over her shoulder at Nate who cuddled more into the pillow.

“Okay, so maybe I am doing what it looks like,” Mindy finally broke looking to the satisfied expression on Trisha’s face and she shook her head slowly. “But this is nothing more than two friends falling asleep while watching television. I promise you that.”

“Uh huh, right,” Trisha rolled her eyes moving over toward the kitchen as Mindy snaked her way out of Nate’s arms carefully. Tip toeing over toward the kitchen, she saw Trisha with a bag picking up a few pieces of clothing from the hamper of clean clothes as she moved forward. “Here I was, feeling bad that I was going to be staying at Chase’s for the night when you clearly have male entertainment for the night.”

“I’m actually not like that,” a voice pressed in behind the both of them as they looked to see Nate standing at the entrance of the kitchen rubbing at his tired eyes. “We just fell asleep, that’s all.”

“Oh…okay,” Trisha smirked still teasing the both of them further as Nate pushed his hair back and then leaned up against the wall to keep his balance from clearly still being tired. “I’m sure that’s what the both of you are going to do spending all night alone.”

“You’re leaving?” Nate replied watching the way that Trisha nodded and Nate smirked looking over at Mindy before shrugging. “Not all men and women are like you and Chase Trisha. We can keep ourselves under control.”

“Ah, that’s where you are wrong,” Trisha pulled her bag over her shoulder looking between the two. “Most of the world is exactly like that. It’s rare to find a case where that doesn’t happen. Especially between friends. If a male and a female are friends, they are bound to sleep together at least once. Unless of course one of them is gay.”

“I refuse to believe that,” Mindy tossed her hands up in the air in an exaggerative manner watching the way Trisha smirked and nodded slowly. “Two people can be friends if they are a male and female and not sleep together.”

“It’s pretty much proven,” Trisha assured her with a smirk knowing that by the expression on her face, Mindy was ready to go hours in a debate and instead of doing that she figured she would ask for proof. “If you are so eager to prove me wrong, tell me of a male-female friendship you know of in this town where the couple hasn’t slept with each other once or the male is not gay.”

“Kyle and Avery,” Mindy blurted out right away catching the eye roll that Trisha gave before moving back toward the refrigerator to grab something to eat. “There are two friends right there that would never do anything like that.”

“Yeah, but…he’s like her brother,” Trisha tried to defend and Mindy held her hands up and seemed to be a bit smug that she came up with something. Nate smirked knowing that Mindy was excited she could come up with one and Trisha shook her head slowly. “Okay for those rare occasions, it can happen, but it is extremely rare.”

“Well, we are the rare ones then. I’m not like that,” Nate tried to assure Trisha with a heavy sigh feeling Mindy moving in beside him as he spoke. “Mindy is a great friend of mine and I don’t take advantage of my friends. Especially when I come to them for advice.”

“Well, we will see how that turns out,” Trisha moved toward the living room again, patting Nate on the shoulder as she moved out almost in a teasing manner again. “I figure it’s only a matter of time. Don’t let it bother you if something does happen.”

“Nothing will,” Mindy blurted out catching the way the way that Nate looked over at her when Trisha walked out of the house without even responding. Feeling a soft tap against her hand, she saw Rusty moving in underneath her hand to try and get some attention. “She is very blunt, I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, I’ve noticed,” Nate smirked watching Mindy sit down on the couch letting the cat sit in her lap for a moment and he ran his fingers through his blonde hair. They had just fallen asleep watching television. That was all. At least that’s what he thought.


“Could you move this thing any slower?” Kevin covered his eyes in complete embarrassment over having Don pushing him in the wheel chair toward the police station to talk to Seth and find out what was going on. While he knew that his leg was hurt and he could tear the stitches by walking on it, he would rather endear the pain of that instead of having to be helpless having Brant’s friend pushing him around. “I need to see my cousin.”

“And I need to be careful because you and Brant both had a terrible injury,” Don blurted out feeling Brant moving in beside him as he pushed Kevin toward the door of the police station. “I’m not going to risk hurrying for something to hurt you more than you already have been hurt.”

“He’s a doctor, you aren’t going to get much faster than this,” Brant explained pressing his hand in over his abdomen where he still felt an ache from where he was hurt not long ago. “We will talk to Seth, just have a little patience for your own good.”

“I’m not one that deals with patience really well if you haven’t noticed,” Kevin blurted out with venom in his voice and Brant held up his hands to show that he wasn’t the one that was pushing him. “Come on Don.”

“I’m working on it,” Don muttered with a heavy sigh as he stopped to get Brant to open the door for him and then he pushed Kevin inside hearing him huff heavily. “I’m trying the best I can to get you in here without hurting you. Give me a break.”

“Before he says anything else,” Brant cut off Kevin who was clearly about to complain again, catching the glare he gave him. “We are all very worried about what’s going on and it’s going to cause us to say things we don’t mean because we are eager to get to the truth.”

“I understand that,” Don tried to reason with Brant catching the look he gave him and Don decided to be quiet since he knew that the conversation would get him no where. Pushing Kevin up toward the desk, Don placed his hands over the desk and tapped them over it to get the officer’s attention at the front. “Excuse me, we are here to see someone about Seth Alexander.”

There was a silence that filled the air as the officer simply glanced over at Don and then went back toward his computer. Don cleared his throat uneasily and tried to get the cop to notice him again, but he was still getting ignored.

“Excuse me?” Don spoke up a little louder and the officer still seemed to ignore him over whatever it was that was on his computer and Don heard Kevin let out an angered breath.

“He said excuse me,” Kevin yelled shocking everyone inside of the room including the officer who jumped at the pitch of Kevin’s voice. Kevin rolled the chair up closer to the desk before tilting his head to the side. “Now you can’t pretend that you didn’t hear us. We said we were here to see someone about Seth Alexander. I would be very happy if you could point me in that direction. Please.”

“Just a second four wheels,” the officer smirked and he saw Kevin laugh before trying to get up making him jump out of his seat.

“Down Kevin,” Don ordered placing his hand firmly over Kevin’s shoulder forcing him down with his strength back into the wheelchair. His action caused the slender, young officer to relax a bit. “You don’t need to get worked up over a kid who clearly just got into the job. He’s barely out of college. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was playing a game on the computer right now.”

“I don’t see what your hurry is,” the officer spoke up as he ran his fingers through his short hair looking to Brant who was staring at him pondering what he meant. “It’s not like talking to anyone is going to get him out of jail. Waiting isn’t going to make a difference.”

“Listen you…,” Brant moved forward with a rumble in the bottom of his throat clearly upset with the way the man was acting toward them. Before he could reach the officer, he felt Don grab a hold of him and pull him back. “You sure have the attitude that is going to get you fired. Do you know who I am?”

“Do yourself a favor and go find Dave Warner,” Don warned the officer before Brant or Kevin got up and beat the younger man. He could feel Brant tense beneath his touch and he let out a heavy sigh. “Now.”

Watching the officer nod and move toward the back catching the sudden seriousness behind Don’s voice, Don turned toward Brant and glared out at him.

“Neither one of you should be ready to be on the attack. You were shot,” Don reminded Brant knowing that he liked to play the hero and not hold back, but he knew that he could hurt himself if he over worked himself. Looking back at Kevin, he could still see the anger in his eyes and Don nodded slowly. “And you had a hole in your leg so big that I’m surprised you are still even alive. You two need to chill out.”

“Things aren’t done when you are being nice Don. You saw that yourself,” Kevin reminded him of the way he politely asked the officer for some help not long ago. “And I’m not going to chill out until my cousin is out of jail. I can promise you that.”

“Well fine then, just make sure you are angry while sitting down because I can’t afford to be rushing you to the hospital right now after you get your ass up and start bleeding all over the place,” Don hissed back with heavy breath before tossing his hands up in the air. “The both of you are impossible.”

“As he said…being impossible gets things done,” Brant looked to Kevin knowing that he was worried about his cousin’s well being and he wanted him to be safe.

He wanted the person who hurt his sister to pay for what they had done, but he knew that Seth would never go through the actions of actually hurting anyone to get there. And they were going to prove that somehow!


“Poor thing,” Angela whispered as she and Ria stepped out of Blake’s room giving Blake much deserved time to rest after her pain medication had finally kicked in. As Angela closed the door, she turned to Ria and motioned to the stairs. “Want a drink or something?”

“Sure,” Ria nodded in response following Angela into the other room over by Brant’s bar. She watched Angela make her way behind it as if she was at home before Ria spoke up again uneasily, “You know maybe you shouldn’t be drinking Angela. With the twins…”

“Brant has cranberry juice in here too and other things,” Angela assured Ria before pulling open the small refrigerator that Brant had hidden behind the bar. “I’m not nursing at the moment because I just want to make sure what Craven drugged me with won’t hurt the twins, but beyond that, well even if I wanted the strong stuff right now I’m on meds that wouldn’t let me. Though if you want a heavy drink I can get you one.”

“No, a juice will work for me,” Ria replied thinking about Kevin going off to check in on Seth. “I still can’t believe all this is happening. I mean when I talked to Seth a couple of days before I left town everything was going so well. He and Blake were so happy and…”

“And all it takes is one person to spoil it,” Angela shook her head thinking about what had happened to Seth and Blake. “I highly doubt that Valerie took into consideration how many lives she’d be screwing up when she acted like an impulsive sociopath.”

“I don’t think Valerie’s been in her right mind for a long time,” Ria confessed thinking about the woman she’d once called friend. “When she and Seth were together she couldn’t get rid of him fast enough, yet when she couldn’t have him…”

“That’s when she decided she wanted him the most,” Angela noted walking around the bar to give Ria the juice. She took a seat beside Ria and sighed, “That’s how a lot of people are. They can’t just be happy with what they have because it’s always what you can’t have that looks all the more delicious to you.”

“Spoken like a woman who has been there, done that,” Ria arched a speculative brow wondering if Angela was speaking about Kevin.

“Unfortunately I know what obsession is like and it can be ugly,” Angela replied with a small breath, “but on the flip side if it’s beyond obsession and there is something real there it could be the best thing in the world. I mean take Brant and I for example, the first time we split, well we weren’t really officially together, but still when I met him I knew from the first moment I saw him that there was just something about him. I knew that after I shared a night with him that I wasn’t going to be able to write it off as a one night stand. I didn’t want to by any means. After I let him go I couldn’t stop thinking about him--couldn’t stop dreaming about being with him again and even though I was convinced I would never see him again, he was consuming my thoughts.”

“Yeah, but when you found him again you weren’t ready to wipe out the competition if there was any, were you?” Ria couldn’t help but ask thinking about what Valerie did to Blake.

“No, but I don’t know if I would’ve given up on Brant without a fight,” Angela paused for a long moment, “Then again we kind of had special circumstances given that we have the twins. Wow, I’m sounding silly now, aren’t I considering what happened to Blake and Seth was not at all the same situation.”

“Valerie and Seth got married a long time ago when they both went to Atlantic City and got drunk,” Ria explained thinking about Seth’s situation, “They were friends, didn’t really even date and when he woke up he filed for an annulment. He was ready to let it go and so was she. She went off to model all over the country, which I thought was something that was important to her, but now…”

“Now she’s proven how low she would sink in murdering Seth’s baby,” Angela noted thinking about all that Blake had lost, “It’s going to take Blake a long time to heal over that situation. When you lose a child especially when the circumstances are beyond your control, you never fully recover. It took Kevin and I years to talk about losing our daughter, but it’s never really taken away the pain of the situation. I mean there isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t cross my mind at least once.”

“Angela I really don’t…” Ria started feeling extremely uncomfortable with the direction that the conversation was taking.

“Don’t get me wrong. You learn to keep pushing on, but you never really recover from the loss. I mean Brant and I are happy now and the twins are everything to me, but I guess I just still wonder about what if,” Angela glanced over at Ria before feeling a bit uneasy herself. “I mean I know it’s bothered Kevin for a long time because he’s going to be a wonderful dad one day. He loves you so much and when you both have children…”

“Angela, I really don’t think that…” Ria started hearing the sound of Blake screaming from the other room. Without hesitation Ria sprinted out of the room and rushed to Blake entering Blake’s room without a second thought.

“She was here,” Blake gasped horrified clutching her chest as tears consumed her. “I could see Valerie laughing as she was coming towards me--as the car was speeding in front of me and…”

“It’s okay,” Ria moved over to the side of Blake’s bed offering her hand supportively on Blake’s shoulder, “Valerie can’t hurt you again. She’s gone. She can’t hurt you anymore.”

“But she’s already taken the baby away from me and now even though she’s dead, she’s going to take Seth away from me too,” Blake blurted out with a mournfulness in her tone.

“No honey that’s not going to happen,” Ria promised Blake hoping full well that there would be truth to her words now that it seemed that Blake and Seth’s lives had taken a horrible turn towards the worst. She just hoped that now that Kevin was back in town that he could help Blake and Seth pick up the pieces of their lives by proving that Seth had nothing to do with Valerie’s murder.

As Ria looked up she spotted Angela in the doorway standing in silence and in that moment guilt ate away at her. Hearing Angela speak of her daughter’s ‘death’ was the last thing that Ria wanted to talk about with Angela, yet it had come up so naturally. It had been the perfect opportunity to come clean with what Marie had shared with Ria, but Ria knew deep in her heart that when she made her confession of the truth that had been held from Kevin and Angela it had to be with Kevin. He had to hear the news from her lips before she could spread it to Angela or anyone else for that matter. Yes, Angela was the child’s mother, but it was Marie’s connection to Kevin that had brought Ria into the picture and it was that connection that would ultimately lead Ria to telling Kevin the news about his little girl still being alive. After that she swore to herself that she would clue Angela in on that as well. Just when the time was right.


“Now that was a honeymoon,” Kyle boasted proudly feeling Heather sink into his chest as a smirk spilled over his features. “I think that was even better than our being on the beach after our ceremony.”

“It was pretty close to that,” Heather teased her nails over the muscles of his damp chest before offering up a playful laugh, “Although this time you don’t have an audience to show off to. I still can’t believe that you did that when everyone was there.”

“Hey, it wasn’t my fault that they showed up when they did,” Kyle laughed lightly bringing his fingers through her long, blonde hair, “but if you’re feeling like I should go out there and brag, I could always go out on the balcony and shout it out to the rest of the world how truly incredible you are.”

“And risk getting arrested for indecent exposure,” Heather wrinkled her nose at the suggestion, “I think I’ll pass on that one since I enjoy having you right here all to myself. Besides, I don’t think the world is ready for what I have.”

“Yeah, I know I am pretty impressive naked,” Kyle teased feeling her pinch at his chest before shaking her head at him.

“You are a raving egomaniac and I think that each time I have sex with you there is less room for me in the bed because your ego expands beyond belief,” she rolled her eyes at him before propping herself up on her elbows.

“Every time we’re alone together I don’t think my ego is the only thing that expands,” Kyle tipped up to nibble on the base of her throat, “and if I do recall you like it that way.”

“You’re such a pervert,” Heather sighed dropping her head back as she sat up on his abdomen pulling him up with her.

“You like me nice and perverted,” Kyle whispered over her damp skin, his fingers traveling between her thighs to caress her intimately, “Admit it you love me in all my raunchiness.”

Heather closed her eyes and let out a soft sigh, “Kyle, you are insatiable. And to think I always viewed you as being the good boy.”

“You knew long before anyone else that I was not the good boy,” he murmured kissing her just beneath her earlobe before dropping his hand to her hip. He pulled her up enough for his lips to collide with her breastbone while his other hand stirred over her soft femininity bringing her to the brink of pleasure all over again.

“Yes, but you had the rest of the world fooled, didn’t you?” Heather dropped her head back losing herself to his attention. She felt a laugh tickle at the back of her throat before she met his eyes again with a newfound intensity, “Though I have to tell you I’m half expecting Paul to bust through the door or Kellen to call and get you riled up…”

“Honey I don’t need Kellen to get me riled up when I have you right here in my arms,” Kyle slurred his lips meeting hers again in a heated kiss leaving no questions about where his thoughts were lingering to all over again.

“He’s going to kill us when he realizes we kept that we’re married from him,” Heather pointed out with a small frown thinking about her best friend.

“So let him try,” Kyle couldn’t help but grin at the thought, “I wouldn’t mind throwing out a few punches in his general direction since I think I owe him a few.”

“Kyle, he’s my best friend,” Heather curled her lip in a pout thinking about the man that she’d kept in the dark about her relationship with Kyle.

“Your best friend who also had you like this before,” Kyle pointed out with a darkness flashing behind his eyes. “When I think about what I saw with him and you…”

“You were never meant to see that,” Heather frowned feeling the moment sour as she pulled away from him. “It was a big mistake Kyle. I told you that I was young and stupid and forced into the situation because…”

“Heather, I’m not blaming you,” Kyle reached out to press his finger over her lips to silence her, “but I have to admit when I think about the things that I saw Kellen doing to you…”

“It wasn’t real. I mean it was, but it wasn’t,” Heather shifted uncomfortably on the bed. She moved off of him and settled in on the opposite side before bringing the blanket up over her, “It wasn’t like it was something we enjoyed.”

“He appeared to be enjoying himself quite well,” Kyle snarled at the memory of seeing Kellen and Heather on the locker room floor with one another. “He seemed to be having a damn good time.”

“Looks can be deceiving in those things,” Heather frowned over at him seeing the way his face twisted with agitation. “Kyle, trust me his enthusiasm was not at all for me, but rather the blonde guy that was behind the camera. They’d been making out for a while before we did the takes and…”

“Heather, I really don’t want to talk about this,” Kyle blurted out with a tension behind his tone.

“I don’t either, but you’re the one who brought it up,” she frowned falling back onto the pillow and squeezing the blanket up over her body now that a chill carried over the air. Closing her eyes she took in a small breath, “Tell me Kyle. How can something so awful just come in and ruin a perfectly good moment between us?”

“I don’t know,” he replied turning onto his side to look at her, seeing her closing down now that he’d brought up a painful part of her past. “Heather, I didn’t mean to upset you, but…”

“But it’s always going to be there, isn’t it? Like some giant elephant between us you’re always going to be thinking about what you saw--about the way it made you feel when you saw that stupid DVD,” Heather threw her hands in the air and let out a pinched hiss, “Kyle I wish I could take it back--that I could go back and change everything about that, but I can’t. I already spent so many years hating myself over it and now…”

“You shouldn’t hate yourself,” Kyle reached out to touch her cheek gently, “It was every bit my fault as it was anyone else’s. If I would’ve been wise to Sarah and her manipulations, then I would’ve found you before any of that happened. I could’ve stopped it and we could’ve been out of that kind of misery years before we found one another again.”

“Kyle, we can’t go back. We can only move forward,” she sighed tipping in towards him. She reached out to touch his cheek gently, seeing the pain behind his hazel eyes, “Kyle I want for us to do that, but if this is going to be a strain between us…”

“It’s not. It’s just…” he paused searching for the right words now that he’d killed a perfectly amazing moment between them.

“Kyle, I can honestly tell you that you’re the only man who has ever touched me like this,” she reached for his hand placing it over her heart, “You love me unconditionally. You’ve always seen the best in me even when I was at my worse and you never judged me.”

“I still don’t Heather. I mean believe me I’m the last person to be able to do that,” Kyle slid in closer to her. He placed his hand against her cheekbone before tracing it lightly, “It’s just when I think of what I saw in the movie--when I remember the pain in your eyes…”

“That wasn’t Kellen’s fault,” she offered up with a heavy sigh, “I was dead inside a long time before that. When I thought I lost you I didn’t think I deserved anything good in this world anymore. I gave up on me and that was my first mistake.”

“My first mistake was letting you go in the first place Heather, but I promise you that I will never, ever be played for a fool again,” Kyle curled his palm around the back of her neck pulling her in closer to him. His lips collided with hers, arm dropping down around her waist before he moved in over her settling between her thighs.

“I love you Heather Houston,” Kyle whispered, the warmth of his breath buzzing against her lips, “and I’m always going to love you. Nothing will ever change that.”

“I love you Kyle and I just want you to be happy with the life we have together,” Heather confessed feeling him lacing their fingers together before lifting them to his lips and kissing them tenderly.

“Every minute I spend with you is all the happiness I could ever ask for in this world,” Kyle replied with a sudden seriousness before leaning down to kiss his wife while fully preparing to make love to her with all joking pushed aside. While he and Heather were full of playfulness with one another, right now he needed her to know that nothing was more important in this world than the love that they shared with one another. She was without a doubt his everything.


“Russ,” Avery spoke her husband’s name pushing open the door to the room Erin was in. She moved inside and found him in the rocking chair with Erin in his arms sleeping on his shoulder. She couldn’t help but smile as the two of them seemed beyond content in one another’s arms. Just the expression on his face said it all as he held her keeping her safe in the warmth of his arms. His eyes were closed and his head was tipped to the side just enough to stay close to Erin and keep her protected in his embrace.

“You really are a good father,” Avery whispered reaching for the blanket that had been beside the bed. She covered Russ and Erin up with it before stepping back and watching them for a long moment. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that any child she and Russ had with one another would be amazing just like Erin was, yet she’d had so many concerns. Still as she looked at Russ with their daughter she couldn’t help but feel her heart melt. He seemed happier than he’d ever been with her beside him.

“Avery,” Russ questioned coming out of the moment of sleep that had overtaken him. His tired green eyes raised up to see her standing in front of him watching him with Erin, “what time is it?”

“It’s kind of late,” Avery explained in a small whisper, “I would’ve come in here sooner, but my father called and I talked to him for a little while. Then Guy wanted to check in on us and I guess with the way that Guy talks, well we got a little carried away.”

“That’s okay,” Russ yawned turning his attention to Erin, who was still sleeping on him, “I didn’t mind spending the time with my baby girl. She’s always good for the soul.”

“Yes she is,” Avery nodded in response watching Russ carefully reposition Erin in his arms to carry her over to her crib. She could see a reluctance in his face as he contemplated returning her to her bed. Without hesitation Avery stepped forward and reached out to touch his arm gently, “Hey, why don’t we take her to bed with us tonight?”

“You sure?” Russ glanced over his shoulder at her watching her nod.

“Yeah, I think I’ve already spent too much time away from her already,” Avery confessed watching Russ shift directions and take Erin over to the bed. He stood at the side of it waiting for Avery to set up a pillow between them so that he could get comfortable.

Carefully Russ sank onto the bed keeping Erin on his chest. Avery stepped back watching him for a moment before discarding her clothing and changing into pajamas. After a few seconds Avery slid into the blankets beside Russ and Erin opting to turn in towards them so that she could bring her hand over his bare chest only a few inches from where Erin was sleeping on him.

“Russ,” she spoke up in a faint whisper after a few minutes of silence had passed.

“Huh?” he questioned with a laziness in his tone. His glossy green eyes met hers again and he couldn’t help but smile a tired smile.

“I’ve been thinking about what you said to me earlier,” Avery admitted wondering if he was awake enough to hear what she had to say to him. “You know about having another baby.”

“Avery, look I understand where you’re coming from,” he replied his green eyes widening just a bit further in spite of his exhaustion, “I won’t push the issue if you’re not ready.”

“It’s not that I’m not ready,” she searched her thoughts for the right words, “It’s just that I’m afraid of what would happen if I got pregnant again.”

“Afraid?” he repeated with a confusion behind his green eyes.

“The last time it happened you and I were on the outs with one another and everyone tried to keep us apart. My mother did horrible things just like Nicholas did and then there was Bruce,” she trailed off recounting all the things that had gone wrong in her pregnancy with Erin. “After all of that I wasn’t any help either. Even now I still feel like I depend on you far too much Russ. You’re always the one who is right on top of everything taking care of Erin and giving her what she needs.”

“You give her what she needs Avery,” Russ replied stretching his arm out to wrap it around her shoulders in an attempt to pull her in closer to him.

“I’m just not as good as it as you are and then when I had that meltdown,” she paused feeling a fear sweeping in over her, “I just don’t want to do that to you or to Erin again.”

“You wouldn’t,” he whispered warmly over the top of her head, “and for the record you didn’t do anything wrong. We met that roadblock head on in our relationship and we came out on top of it just like we do with everything else.”

“The whole idea of disappointing you is just too much for me Russ,” Avery paused searching for the right words. Her dark gaze fell upon Erin and she took in a small breath, “I just want everything to be perfect for us.”

“As much as I would like that to perfect just doesn’t exist in this world, but what we have is as close to it as anything I have ever known,” he whispered pressing a kiss on the top of her head. “I love you Avery and I love what we have with one another.”

“I love you too,” she touched her daughter’s back lightly before meeting his eyes again, “and Russ if you want to try for another baby, then I’m not going to fight you on it. You’ve always known what was best for us from day one, so if you think having another baby is something that would fit into where we are right now, then I have to trust you that it’s the right decision for us.”

“It’ll be the right decision for us when we’re both sure that it’s the right time,” Russ promised kissing her once again before urging her to snuggle into him more completely, “Deciding to expand our family isn’t a split second decision and if you have any doubts what so ever, then we’ll need to work through them before you tell me yes just to make me happy. You don’t need to do that you know.”

“Do what?” she questioned looking up at him again.

“Do something that doesn’t feel right because you’re trying to make me happy,” he replied reaching out to push a piece of her long, dark hair from her eyes. “You already make me happy by loving me Avery.”

“I want another baby Russ. I really do, but…” she started finding herself at a loss for the first time since they’d settled into bed with Erin.

“But when we’re ready for it--when we’re both ready for that step, then we’ll know,” he nodded in response squeezing her in his arms before motioning to Erin, “but right now I think you and I can more than be fulfilled with what we have in front of us. Erin is our precious little angel and having her and you makes me complete. It’s getting back to that whole close to perfect scenario.”

“One day we’ll give her a little brother or sister,” Avery promised rubbing his chest lightly, “and in the mean time we can work on practicing for that still with one another.”

“I look forward to that one Mrs. Denton,” he smiled down at her before feeling her sink into his chest beside Erin and leaving him with the feeling of being the luckiest guy in the world to have the two women that meant the most to him in his arms.


“You couldn’t possibly believe that Seth is capable of something like this Dave,” Brant tried to argue with his Ken’s old friend while Kevin was inside with Seth talking to him about what happened. Don followed him not far behind as Brant threw his hands up in the air. “Seth is not the type of person to just go and kill someone. I doubt he would even hurt a fly Dave. You know what kind of person he is known to be, you can’t just assume he is the one that killed Valerie.”

“I can’t assume anything Brant, that’s one thing for sure that I have learned with the job,” Dave threw his hands up in the air to cut him off noticing the way that Brant’s jaw tightened in anger. “I know that Seth is a good guy, but love can make you do stupid things.”

“I don’t think he is capable of something like that,” Don tried to reason with Dave watching him flip through a few papers and he could tell that Dave wasn’t disagreeing with him, he just couldn’t flat out say he was agreeing. “He may have been drunk, but Seth wouldn’t do something like that.”

“And it’s stupid to just arrest Seth for all that you have on him. All that you have got is that they fought in a bar. It has no relevance. People fight. He was drunk, upset and he was fighting with her. There is no evidence that he actually did anything at all to her,” Brant blurted out watching Dave’s dark eyes lift up from the paper he was reading to stare out at him and Brant shot up from the chair not being able to sit there any longer. “Honestly, how is that enough to hold him on?”

“Alright guys. The two of you should know first hand what kind of problem I’m stuck in here. Seth was the last person that was around Valerie when she was alive. And he threatened her. They fought. It’s not my fault that it was presented in the order that it was,” Dave explained in a calm tone knowing that there would be more bickering coming from the both of them because of this case. “Seth was covered in blood. We are seeing if the blood is a match to Valerie, it’s just right now Seth looks like the most logical suspect.”

“He’s the easiest target, yet the real target is probably still out there and thinking of killing other innocent people to put the blame on good people. Do have any idea what this is doing to my sister?” Brant blurt out angrily watching Dave run his hands over the front of his forehead clearly irritated with the pressure that was being put on him. “Clearly you don’t.”

“I know how all families feel when someone they love is suspected of committing a horrible crime Brant,” Dave insisted with a hiss understanding that they were upset, but they clearly didn’t understand he couldn’t do anything about it. “Right now, Seth seems like the most logical suspect and my people are running with it investigating the leads. There is nothing that I can do to change that.”

“I thought this country was innocent until proven guilty,” Don muttered taking a seat while catching the glare that Dave shot him. Sighing heavily, Don leaned back and looked toward Brant. “Or am I wrong on that one?”

“Either way. Seth was covered in blood the night that Valerie was murdered. He can’t remember anything and the last place he was seen was threatening her and fighting with her,” Dave stood up from the desk motioning them toward the door. “I don’t know what else to tell you until evidence starts to show up. Now if you will excuse me, to actually get further in this case I am going to have to do some work.”

“By sitting at your desk?” Brant muttered standing still for a moment to glare out at Dave. He could tell by his last comment he highly upset him and he shrugged. “I’m just saying. Sitting at your desk is going to accomplish nothing.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Dave slammed the door in their face catching both men off guard as Don looked to Brant knowing the last comment went a bit too far.

“That was really good,” Don motioned Brant toward the waiting area in the front again hearing Brant let out an angered sigh. “That got us no where.”

“Well I was trying to get something in there and you weren’t helping,” Brant moved down the hallway with his best friend catching the glare of the blue eyes over him. “What? You weren’t.”

“Brant? Brant Ashford?” both men noticed a blonde female walking up to them and when Don looked over at Brant he could see that his eyebrows tightened together clearly knowing the woman before him. “What a surprise. Do you have a statement about your sister’s fiancé? Any update on what has been going on?”

“Shit,” Brant muttered under his breath and looked down toward the floor catching Don off guard showing him that Brant clearly knew the reporter in front of him and he wasn’t happy about it!


Kevin sat at the table with Seth thinking about everything his cousin had endured over the last couple of days. An ache carried over him as he saw the darkness behind his cousin’s eyes alerting to far more upset than Seth tried to lead on. As Seth slumped in the chair, Kevin couldn’t help but feel himself longing to find a way to make the situation disappear.

“You look like hell,” Kevin confessed after a long moment of hesitation.

“You’re one to talk,” Seth arched a speculative brow noting the wheelchair that Kevin was in, “What the hell happened to you?”

“Let’s just say I fought nature and nature won,” Kevin shrugged it off before growing suddenly serious, “Seth, how are you holding up really?”

“I would be a lot better if I knew Blake was okay,” Seth replied with a worried expression, “have you seen her?”

Kevin nodded, “Yeah, she’s pretty torn up over everything, but I can’t blame her. No one with a heart would feel anything less than the pain of the situation that Valerie caused.”

“I just don’t understand how she could do something like this,” Seth replied bringing his cuffed hands up on the table. He thought about bringing his fingers through his hair, but stopped himself and resigned himself to putting his palms flat on the table top.

“I just can’t believe the jackasses here would try to pin Valerie’s murder on you. Granted, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to kill her, but I know you kiddo. This isn’t in your nature,” Kevin noted thinking about how clearly wrong the police were wrong about Seth, “and once they figure out they have the wrong guy, then…”

“Kevin, they found her blood on me,” Seth replied with a lost expression remembering when he’d been taken into custody. “I had it all over my t-shirt.”

“Yeah, about that,” Kevin lowered his voice a bit before moving in closer to Seth, “How did that happen?”

“I don’t know,” Seth replied honestly feeling a cold chill press in over the back of his neck causing him to have goose bumps. “I don’t remember.”

“What do you mean you don’t remember?” Kevin questioned worriedly wondering what was happening to his cousin. “You mean you can’t remember how the blood got there or…”

“I can’t remember what happened until I woke up in the morning in a hotel room,” Seth replied a nervousness carrying over him. He closed his eyes for a moment before speaking up again, “I don’t know what happened, but the last thing I remember was confronting her in the bar. It got heated and then I called the police. I told them where she was, but no one came to pick her up. They didn’t even give it a second thought and then, well the rest is hazy…”

“Seth, why didn’t you say anything about this before,” Kevin frowned knowing full well that the blood on his shirt would be damning evidence, “Are you sure it’s her blood?”

“Who else could it belong to?” Seth questioned as he looked down at his hands again seeing that his knuckles were cracked and scraped up as if he’d been in some kind of fight. “There was a lot of blood Kevin and…”

“And you said it was Valerie’s blood,” Kevin reminded him thinking about what his cousin said. “Did you hear someone specifically say that it was hers?”

“One of the officers that brought me down here mentioned it when I was in booking--saying that they were going to nail me for her murder with the blood,” Seth closed his eyes and dropped his head straining to come up with some kind of answer that would right the situation at hand. “I let Blake down and she doesn’t deserve this.”

“She didn’t deserve to have Valerie plow her down with a car and murder your child,” Kevin reminded him sharply knowing full well that Seth was not the bad guy in the situation. “Seth, are you sure that you heard them right? Did they run a DNA test on the bloodstain?”

“I don’t know,” Seth replied the color draining from his face, “but they say that I did it and…”

“Seth just because the police are too stupid to see the truth in the situation does not mean that you are their fall guy,” Kevin continued with a worried expression, “We’ll just have to find out what happened to you that night.”

“I told you Kevin it’s all a blur. I remember waiting outside the bar and,” Seth paused a darkness shadowing over his otherwise handsome features, “I remember I had the gun I bought for Jade in the glove compartment.”

“You had a gun?” Kevin’s eyes widened in response.

“Kevin, I wanted to kill her. I wanted to make her suffer for what she did to Blake--for murdering our child,” Seth continued in a raw, broken tone. “I promised Blake a life of happiness and love, but instead she got this. I told her that I would keep her safe--that she would never be hurt again, but she was. She was nearly killed because of me and now…maybe I deserve this. Maybe being in here will be the one thing that keeps Blake safe. As long as I’m out of her life she can’t be hurt again.”

“No Seth. She loves you and being without you is hurting her far worse than you can imagine,” Kevin explained with a frown, “Look just because that night was hazy doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Until I see DNA evidence claiming that blood was Valerie’s, then I don’t want you going around telling anyone that it was her blood on your t-shirt. You don’t know if that is true or not and right now I don’t want you saying anything that these idiots in charge could use against you. If they want to try to pin Valerie’s murder on you, then they are going to have to work their asses off to try to uncover the details.”

“Kevin, I already told you I woke up in a hotel and…” Seth shook his head and sighed, “I remember following her in my car and thinking about how I was going to make her pay…”

“Wanting to make her pay and thinking about it are two different things than actually doing it,” Kevin reminded him point blank. “Seth I know loss and grief motivates a man to do things that he wouldn’t normally do, but in the same breath I know you. You’re still the same guy that wouldn’t kill a spider when it terrified Jade. She begged you to stomp on it, but instead you got the newspaper and scooted it safely out the door rather than ending it’s life. It’s not in your blood to be a murderer.”

“When she tried to kill Blake and murdered my child it changed everything Kevin,” Seth explained a sharpness in his tone. His brown eyes filled with remorse and anger and Kevin couldn’t help but reach out across the table to squeeze his cousin’s hand.

“Grief does a great many things cuz, but it doesn’t make you a killer. I’m positive that even without remembering the details, there is something missing here. You didn’t murder Valerie and I’m going to prove that to you and the rest of the world,” Kevin vowed knowing full well he couldn’t let his cousin stay in jail.

“Kevin, if they find out that it is Valerie’s blood--if the DNA evidence confirms it, then you have to promise me that you’ll take care of Blake. You need to make sure she’s safe if I’m in here and…” Seth started worriedly.

“You’ll do all those things for her yourself Seth because mark my words I will get you out of here one way or the other,” Kevin vowed promising that he would uncover the truth behind what really happened leading to Valerie Madison’s demise. While Seth was unclear on the turn of events, Kevin didn’t believe in his heart that his cousin was a murderer, but if in fact the police proved Kevin’s theory wrong, then Kevin knew full well what he needed to do. After Valerie tried to steal Seth’s world away from him, Kevin knew full well that even in death he wouldn’t allow Valerie to accomplish such a nefarious mission.


Taking a moment to sit in the awkward silence after Trisha left, Nate glanced over at Mindy still playing with the cat in her lap and he cleared his throat uneasily. He wanted to talk about what Trisha brought up earlier with him trying to put a move on her, but he figured if he were to bring something up like that again it would only get back to the awkwardness that was there when Trisha was around.

“So is Trisha always that blunt?” Nate finally broke the silence watching Rusty lay down in Mindy’s lap. Shrugging his shoulders, he let out a small laugh seeing her nod and spoke up once more. “I notice that it’s usually all about sex.”

“Yeah, she has a few problems,” Mindy smirked knowing that her friend was very blunt and had a warped sense of what she thought was right, but overall was a good person. “You learn to deal with it because she’s actually a really good friend. Just freely speaks her mind.”

“I give credit to those that say whatever is on their mind,” Nate took in a deep breath knowing that he would do it on occasion, but opening his mouth about certain things was one thing he wished he had the talent to do. “I don’t think I could ever be that straight forward with people. I would probably end up getting hit.”

“You think that poorly of people?” Mindy poked him in the ribs teasingly hearing him laugh while trying to urge her hands away from him carefully. “I didn’t think you were that type of person.”

“I’m not that type of person, just people take criticism badly. Like my sister, if I told her how I really felt about her, I would die,” he finally grabbed a tight hold of her hands to make sure she couldn’t tickle him anymore with her pokes. “Those are the kind of people I’m talking about.”

“Well what about me? What do you think about me?” Mindy’s eyebrow perked up in interest feeling him letting go of her hands. A smirk pressed in over his lips as he leaned back further on the couch. “So?”

“I pretty much can say whatever I feel toward you. So you really shouldn’t be thinking anything more than what I tell you. You’re a good friend of mine that I can easily open up to,” he explained with a heavy sigh knowing that she would probably find it hard to believe, but it was true. “There is nothing I can hide from you. Or Matt. You two pretty much are open to whatever I have to say and neither one of you judge me.”

“Well I’m glad to hear that,” she gave his ribs one more playful poke before moving back to her side of the couch watching Rusty playing with one of his cat toys. “I hope you remember that because I will always be here to talk to if you ever need me.”

“And I very much appreciate it. I would hate to come and talk to someone like Trisha who would tell me my problem is coming from type of suppressed sex fantasy I’m not fulfilling,” Nate joked satisfied with the response when he heard Mindy laugh and he shrugged. “I just think I’m too eager to help those that are broken cases.”

“Broken cases never heal unless they want to. Trying to be someone’s hero can only happen if they allow it,” she reminded him knowing that he had been trying so hard with Cori for the last few months and it was really breaking him down.

“Yeah, I’m starting to learn that the hard way,” he sighed thinking about how much he truly wanted to be a part of Cori’s life and how much he was regretting it now.

When this first started, all he could really think about was spending a life with Cori. Getting her to feel for him, the way he felt for her. The only thing this time made him have more of the feelings she had for him because he no longer cared about what she wanted. He saw her for the jerk she was and that was the worst part about even agreeing to be some part of her life. He was going to be stuck with her and that was the last thing he wanted as of right now.

“I’m sorry she has been nothing, but a pain for you,” Mindy reached out to place her hand over his in a supportive manner. “I always knew that she was a bitch.”

“I wish I would have listening to you sooner,” he squeezed her hand in his softly. Letting out a small laugh, he figured if he had ever gotten to this point he would have been so upset about it, but he was rather fine. “I actually am kind of surprised that I’m not upset about this whole thing. I’m glad she is a bitch because if I was truly stuck with her in a marriage or anything like that I think I would have to put a bullet in my head.”

“Now that’s not a thought I want to think about,” she pushed her hand into his shoulder a bit thinking about the comment he made. “You should never be with someone that makes you feel like you have to do that.”

“I know,” he cut her off before she could lecture him anymore and he held his hands up motioning her to wait. “For being so great with me, do you want to go to dinner or something? It would be my treat. Unless of course you don’t think Rusty would be alright alone for a little while.”

“Uh,” she looked to Rusty seeing that he was now in his little bed sleeping and she sighed. Instead of being stuck in the house all day and night, maybe it would be good for her to get out for a little while. “Sure, why not?”

“Alright, let’s go. Maybe we can get back before he even wakes up,” Nate urged her up reaching for her hand and pulling her towards the door. “Don’t want to be gone for the little one.”


“I love you,” Deana murmured running her finger across Grady’s chest. She closed her eyes feeling the warmth of him beneath her as he squeezed her in closer to him.

“I love you too,” he replied kissing the top of her head lightly.

“Enough to sneak out into the other room and snag some of that left over cake your mom sent up with us?” she questioned raising her head and batting her eyelashes at him.

“Hungry already?” he asked with amusement in his voice.

“Starved actually and I want something sweet,” she slid up over his body to hover over him. Leaning down she stole a quick kiss from his soft lips. “You worked up quite an appetite in me.”

“Now that’s something I like to hear,” Grady reached out to touch her face tenderly. He pushed her hair over her shoulder to take a long look at her, “although I’m pretty sure Zane might have eaten those pieces already.”

“I sincerely hope not,” Deana groaned falling back onto her side of the bed and taking the sheet with her, “and not just because I’m hungry.”

“I could always order us something from downstairs,” he suggested turning on his side to face her.

“I think the restaurant is closed so room service is probably out of the question at this time of night,” she sighed glancing over at him once again.

“Last time I checked I believe there was an ad out on the table by the couch for a pizza place that was open until three in the morning. I could go look for it,” Grady suggested eagerly feeling his own stomach rumble as well.

“Pizza,” Deana repeated with a smirk. “I think I like the sound of that.”

“Let me go check,” he kissed her quickly before pushing the blankets off and stepping out of bed.

“If it’s open until three you don’t have to rush so much,” she offered up turning onto the bed to watch him closely as he crossed the room in search of his pajama pants. “Grady, hey…”

“What?” he questioned glancing over his shoulder at her.

“Has anyone ever told you just how sexy you look naked,” she flashed him a flirty smile.

“Who me?” he laughed lightly flexing his arms and turning to strike a pose in the hopes of eliciting a reaction out of her.

“You’re such a goober,” she finally spit out with laughter while falling back onto the bed.

“What happened to sexy?” he frowned over at her.

“You lost it when you tried to be impressive,” she tossed a pillow over at him. “Honey I love you, but flexing isn’t going to get me hot and bothered again. That pizza on the other hand, well…”

“Say no more,” he nodded pulling his pants up over his hips. “I’ll go find that number.”

“Hurry back,” she waved at him as Grady stepped out into the living room area determined to find the advertisement.

“Where are you?” he questioned crossing the darkened room.

“Over here,” a small voice caught him by surprise as he realized that the television was on with animated characters dancing across the screen before him.

“Zane?” Grady asked moving forward to peer over the back of the sofa to discover Zane seated upon the oversized cushions with a paper plate on his lap. On Zane’s face was the remains of the frosting that had clearly covered the piece of cake Zane had stashed when Grady and Deana weren’t looking.

“Am I in trouble?” Zane asked with a worried expression on his face. “I know mommy said no more cake, but…”

“You couldn’t resist one more,” Grady noted watching Zane drop his head shamefully.

“Uh huh,” Zane sighed, “it was just too good.”

“It was pretty good,” Grady agreed circling around the sofa to take a seat beside him, “but you know all that sugar isn’t going to make you feel any better in the morning.”

“I feel better now,” Zane smiled up at him with a white frosting mustache.

“Maybe so, but you need more than sugar if you want to grow up big and strong,” Grady reached out for the napkin Zane had discarded on the couch cushion. He wiped at the small boy’s face and explained, “You want to be strong and healthy when you grow up right?”

“Like Uncle Jason with all his muscles?” Zane’s eyes widened.

“I was thinking along the lines of maybe Uncle Kyle,” Grady couldn’t help but laugh.

“That would be pretty awesome,” Zane grinned widely. “He’s so cool.”

“Yeah, he’s pretty cool, but you know he got to be that cool by listening to what his mother said,” Grady continued to explain to Zane. “Just like you should listen to your mom. She’s pretty smart about things.”

“Yeah, I know,” Zane shrugged, “but I like cake especially this one.”

“I did too, but right now I’m thinking maybe we should go get you to brush your teeth so the sugar bugs don’t get you,” Grady reached out to the small boy and scooped him up in his arms.

“What are sugar bugs?” Zane questioned tipping his head to the side.

“They like to eat sugar and when you eat things like cake and frosting they try to sneak into your mouth and have a bite to eat,” Grady informed him feigning seriousness.

“Awesome,” Zane squealed with delight. “Can we catch them when they come out? I think I want one for a pet.”

“You can’t keep them as a pet Zane, but you can help them grow up to be big and strong outside of your mouth by brushing those teeth of yours,” Grady urged him on further. “Uncle Jason packed your toothbrush and that new Superman toothpaste that you wanted.”

“Cool,” Zane wiggled out of Grady’s arms and towards the bathroom area. He stopped long enough to turn around and face Grady again. “Can you help me? I have trouble with the cap on the toothpaste.”

“Sure,” Grady replied standing up and following Zane to the bathroom.

“Thanks Grady,” Zane smiled up at him as they stood before the sink. Zane’s eyes traveled to the sink before him and he cleared his throat. “It’s a little tall.”

“I can help with that,” Grady assured Zane as he picked him up and set him on the counter.

“Thanks Grady,” Zane stretched his arm out across the countertop to collect his toothbrush.

“You’re welcome Zane,” Grady replied reaching for the toothpaste and opening the cap. “Here we’ll just put some on your toothbrush right now and…”

“Grady, are you my dad now?” Zane asked brightly.

“Your dad,” Grady repeated noticing the way that Zane was watching him closely.

“You married my mom so that means that we’re family, right?” Zane tossed back at him.

“That’s right Zane,” Grady nodded.

“So then are you my dad because I’ve never really had a dad before,” Zane continued on. “I’ve always wanted one, but my mom never really found me one.”

“Would you like me to be your dad?” Grady replied.

“Well duh,” Zane shook his head and groaned, “Isn’t it obvious?”

“It is now,” Grady smiled before he reached out to hug Zane.

“Good,” Zane replied turning his focus to brushing his teeth once again.

When Zane finished he set his toothbrush down on the countertop and turned to Grady with wide eyes. Extending his arms out for Grady to help him up, Zane smiled a bright grin.

“Can you help me down dad?” Zane questioned innocently as Grady felt his heart melt with the word.

“Of course I can,” Grady smiled down at his stepson.

As Grady helped Zane down to the floor again, he felt an unfamiliar feeling overtake him at knowing that he’d finally been able to achieve the things that he’d felt were out of his reach for so very long. Zane hugged him briefly before shuffling out of the bathroom ready for bed.

“Thanks dad,” Zane called out once again before disappearing into his bedroom area of the hotel suite.

“Dad?” Deana questioned popping out from where she’d been standing in the shadows.

“Yeah,” Grady nodded, “it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

“It sound perfect,” Deana reached out to embrace him tightly.

“Everything about this is perfect and it’s going to stay that way,” Grady promised his wife now that he was certain life had finally taken him to where he always longed to be. Now that he had it, he was certain that nothing could ever steal the happiness he felt in his life away from him again.


“I don’t normally do this,” Jason staggered feeling the after effects of his alcohol carrying over him now that he and Crystal stood together outside his hotel room pawing at one another. He dropped his hands down over her slender frame, feeling the warmth of her curves brushing in against him. His blue eyes met the darkness behind hers, savoring the warmth that her petite frame offered up against him. She seemed so wounded, so fragile and yet as she reached out to him dragging him down for a savory kiss, she was like a tiger ready to claim her prey.

“Neither do I,” she mouthed clawing at his shirt as she continued to devour his lips again. She ran her fingers through his short hair before pushing him up against the door to his hotel room, “but maybe that’s part of the thrill.”

“Or it just proves we’re insane,” Jason murmured reaching into his pocket for his hotel room key only to discover her hands in his pants pockets.

“Allow me,” she shuffled her fingers through his pockets causing his blood to boil when he realized that she hadn’t given a second thought to his card key, but rather had met her mark in tempting him all over again.

“If you keep that up, then we won’t get into the room,” he gulped reaching out to pull her hands out of his pants and bring them up over his chest.

“Would that be so bad?” she slurred her brown eyes meeting his with a sudden fire and passion that Jason found himself longing to explore. He felt her tease her nails over the center of his chest scratching lightly before her hands curled around the sides of his shirt. “Jason, tell me are you up for excitement?”

“As long as you’re around, oh yeah,” he nodded in response feeling her let out a low growl before ripping his shirt apart to expose his strong, muscled chest. He felt her slide forward, her lips moving in over his bare flesh. He closed his eyes as her tongue traced hungry circles over his body, hand creeping down over his abdomen until she connected with the top of his pants.

“Crystal,” he spoke her name in a tight whisper threading his fingers through her dark hair tightly. He closed his eyes feeling her tug on his nipple between her teeth before she unzipped his pants and reached into his boxers.

“You said you’re a man of all action Jason,” she tossed his earlier words from the bar out at him. She tipped her head up licking her lips before pushing his boxers down over his hips with a wicked smirk, “Prove it to me.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking,” Jason replied spinning her in his arms and pinning her up against the wall.

“I know exactly what I’m asking,” she dug her nails into his thick, tensile shoulders before leaping up in his arms to devour his mouth hungrily. He reached out underneath her dress quickly discarding the tiny, red thong that she’d been wearing. She kicked it out across the floor watching it connect with a knob in front of the room that was the opposite of where they were. He stepped in closer to her, using one hand to hold her bottom up before he fished into his pocket and pulled out a condom. He quickly disposed of the wrapper before sheathing himself with it.

“You’re about to get all you asked for and more,” he promised pushing her skirt up over her hips once again while her legs clamped around his hips causing him to plummet into her without hesitation. She let out a harsh cry, her head tipping back as Jason continued to move inside of her finding himself taken by the primitive feel of their union. Her nails scratched over his back, biting deeper into his flesh before her lips collided with his, her body bouncing back to meet his with the same wild and wanton fashion. He felt her teeth sink into his lower lip as he continued to delve into the sheer reckless of what they were entering into with one another.

Moment after heart pounding moment seemed to transform into nothing short of pure, raw, unadulterated lust as he found himself going beyond the norm and making love to Crystal in such an open place. Yes the hallway was empty, but he knew that at any time anyone including his sister could very easily hear what was happening. She would be mortified if she or Grady stepped out to discover what was happening only to see him and this beautiful stranger in such a raunchy, erotic state in the hallway. That thought in itself caused him to pick up the pace, pounding on furiously in the hopes of seeking out the release that he and Crystal were clearly aching for with one another. He could hear her cries building with each movement she made over him. As her teeth sank into his flesh he felt her let loose and it was in that instant that she let out a pinched cry, losing herself completely to the moment with one erotic sensation after another.

“Oh God,” Jason murmured pressing his lips into her shoulder as he too was taken with the moment realizing that when he’d gone to the bar he’d never anticipated finding someone like Crystal. Hell, in his entire life he hadn’t found anyone who excited him like she did, yet as they both came down from the passion play they’d entered into with one another he felt her chin resting on his shoulder, her breathing still labored as her petite form sank against his.

“That was…” Jason fought for the right words once he took a moment to recollect himself. He inched back ever so slightly to see her face was still flushed with desire, her lips swollen and rosy after the experience they’d shared with one another.

“Incredible,” she purred with delight reaching out to swipe her index finger over his lower lip before smiling. “And if that is any indication of what you’ll be like once we get into your hotel room I think we’ve got an amazing night ahead of us.”

“Hotel room,” he repeated blankly, his blue eyes lost for a moment until he remembered where they were. “Oh right…”

He carefully set her back down on the floor and attempted to pull his pants back up without looking ridiculous. It was then that he looked around the hallway saying a silent prayer that no one had seen them. Of course given what he’d just shared with Crystal he found himself not giving a damn what anyone thought considering that she was hotter than any woman he’d ever met before. He hadn’t even seen her completely naked and yet he was drawn to her, wanting to relive the moments they’d shared just a short time ago, but the next time he would be slower. They would take their time to enjoy it more and draw out the power of the passion that was alive between them.

“If I can only find that key,” Jason cursed under his breath turning to look around at Deana’s hotel room door. He felt a moment of anticipation carry over him again before he spotted where he’d flung her underwear. He saw Crystal’s red thong hanging on the doorknob still swinging with the intensity of the movement that he’d tossed it with. He reached out to recollect it before he felt her tug on his arm.

“Leave it,” she slurred with a tiny giggle, stepping in behind him and bringing her palms flat across his chest. She massaged the muscular planes in front of her before pressing her slender form in against his, “I won’t be needing them tonight.”

“No, I suppose you won’t be,” Jason smiled hearing her let out a small laugh. Still he pressed forward and pulled them off the knob before turning around to face her again, “though I think we should still take them with us.”

“If you insist,” she shrugged her shoulders before holding up the card key that she’d managed to withdraw from his pocket long before they’d given into the insanity in the hallway. “Though I would much prefer you take me instead.”

“I’m pretty sure I can take a firm handle on that one and give you a night you’ll never forget,” he pulled the card out of her hand before picking her up and throwing her over the shoulder in his attempt to open the hotel room door. Once it unlocked he kicked it open and let out a small sound of triumph.

“I’m going to hold you to that cowboy,” she replied smacking his firm bottom before her eyes darted across the hall at the doorway just beyond where they were. She felt a flutter inside of her at the thought of what was in that room--of what she was so very close to, yet so far away from as Jason smirked widely doing his best to close the door behind him.

“Yee ha,” he blurted out pulling her back into his arms again as he found himself fueling up for what would undoubtedly be an even better round two now that he was prepared to show Crystal a whole new meaning of paradise before the night was over.


...to be continued...