Episode 427

“Honey, what are you doing?” Kellen called out from the kitchen from where he was standing in front of the oven cooking for Kipp and Charles. Kipp had seemed to be having a hard morning, so to try and help him feel better Kellen decided to make breakfast for the whole family. It wasn’t something that he had been used to do, but he figured he would give it a shot. Though, something told him by the smoke coming from the sides of the oven that what he had planned for a special breakfast was turning into somewhat of a nightmare. “Kipp, I think I’m burning it?”

“What?” Kellen could hear the sounds of Kipp calling out to him from afar and he huffed heavily throwing his hands up in the air.

“What I was making…I think it’s burning,” Kellen explained fanning his hand over his face to try and keep the smoke from getting any closer to him. Coughing, he could see Kipp walking into the room with a fussy Charles in his arms that seemed to be squirming.

“Kellen! Take it out,” Kipp stated firmly trying to take Charles over toward the table, but his son was still insistent upon trying to get out of his arms. “You don’t just keep it in there while it’s smoking.”

“I’m not going to just reach in there with my bare hands now, am I?” Kellen questioned innocently folding his arms in front of his chest, catching the glare that Kipp gave him before pointing toward the cabinet that it would be located in. “Well sorry, I’m still learning the place you know. I’m not going to remember everything perfectly like you think I should.”

“You’ve been here long enough that an average person would think you would know the place from the inside out,” Kipp pointed out finally letting Charles out of his arms and he could see Kellen reaching for the heating pads. “Are you going to be able to handle this or do you want to take care of him?”

“I can handle it, I just didn’t know where they were,” Kellen nodded and he felt his cheeks flush over a bit as he noticed that Kipp had stayed to make sure he did it right before going after his son. “I’m not totally helpless you know.”

“Well, I don’t think you are totally helpless,” Kipp responded in a mono tone as he followed his son over toward the box of toys in the corner of the room. Gasping, he tried to get to him before Charles pushed his hands into the center of the box knocking all of them out all over the floor.

“Ooops,” Charles blurted out with a smile on his face knowing full well what he had done as Kipp sighed heavily and threw his hands up in the air. There was nothing he could do about it now. Charles clapped his hands together before pointing to the toys. “Yay!”

“Uh Kipp,” Kellen called out from the kitchen once more and Kipp turned to see Kellen holding a cooking sheet with burnt cinnamon rolls on top of it. There was still dark smoke coming from the morning treats that an average person would normally not have a problem with making. “I think I over cooked them.”

“You think?” Kipp sighed heavily thinking about helping him, until he heard the sound of his son getting into the toys that he had dumped over on the floor. “How can you burn something like that Kellen? It tells you when you need to pull it out.”

“I accidentally added three more minutes to it than it originally said,” Kellen tried to find the right excuse and he could see by the glare that his boyfriend gave him that he didn’t believe the excuse.

“A few minutes? A few minutes would be a little brown, not charred to all hell,” Kipp snapped catching the frown that Kellen gave him and he could tell by the way that Kellen’s blue eyes stared out at him that he truly tried. Just failed. “Why don’t we make something more simple?”

“Okay…,” Kellen stood there for a moment feeling the silence twirling around them and finally breaking it, he let out a heavy breath followed by an awkward sound. “So…what is more simple?”

“How about eggs? Scrambled eggs and toast?” Kipp suggested as a wide smile pressed in over Kellen’s lips and he nodded slowly moving back toward the kitchen. “I have a lot on my hands right now, you think you would be able to handle one thing.”

“Everyone makes mistakes and I can handle this,” Kellen insisted knowing that Kipp easily got mad at him for the littlest things. And when it was something that a normal person would get over in a few minutes, it would take him hours to get over it. All of it got rather hard to handle. It was hard to ever satisfy him with just an apology that was needed for a simple mistake. “Trust me, I won’t screw up this time.”

“Well…in that case, you do the eggs and I will do the toast,” Kipp moved toward the kitchen once he was completely sure that Charles was safe. “We don’t need you burning down the house with making some toast.”

“It was a one time thing Kipp. I accidentally left them in there too long. I think I can handle pushing bread down into the toaster,” Kellen huffed knowing that his boyfriend wasn’t going to let this go from here on out whenever he went to cook something. Tossing the burned cinnamon rolls into the trash, he looked over his shoulder to still see that Kipp was pulling out the bread and the toaster himself. “It was an accident.”

“Yeah, well I still feel more comfortable doing it myself,” Kipp replied back with a bit of venom in his tone and Kellen caught it very clearly. He had no idea what was going on with Kipp, but something was clearly making him cranky. “You know what, I’ll just make the breakfast, go watch Charles and make sure he doesn’t get into trouble.”

“Alright…,” Kellen simply muttered not wanting to aggravate Kipp anymore than he obviously already had today. Moving into the living room, he took a seat on the floor with Charles as he played with one of his trains. Hearing the sound of something knocking over in the kitchen, Kellen looked to see that Kipp knocked over a few pans and he shook his head slowly. “See, we all make mistakes.”

There was a glare shot in his direction and before Kipp could react, the sound of Kellen’s phone ringing on the coffee table blasted through the room.

“I guess I’ll get that,” Kellen noted, thankful for the person that was calling because he assumed if he would have said anything more Kipp would have been lecturing him by now. Moving for his phone, he picked it up and saw the ID before smiling. “Hey, it’s my mom.”

“Your mom?” Kipp looked back watching Kellen answer his phone and Kipp’s nose wrinkled not used to having Kellen talk much about his family around him. Let alone talk to them.

Hearing the sounds of Kellen boasting happily over the phone talking to his mother, Kipp sighed heavily and leaned against the wall trying to listen to the conversation while he waited for the food to cook.

“JT’s girlfriend?” Kipp could make out the sounds of Kellen talking to his mother about meeting JT’s new girlfriend and his eyebrows tensed together as he gasped watching Kellen walk into the kitchen. “We need to talk.”

“Oh yeah?” Kipp tried to pretend that he wasn’t eavesdropping on Kellen and his mother as he moved toward the eggs. “About what?”

“Well this is important,” Kellen cleared his throat uneasily setting the phone down on the counter showing that he was done talking to his mother for now. “Well, for me it is. And I hope it’s important for you too.”


“This is really nice,” Mindy smiled up at Nate as they stepped into the restaurant together. “I don’t think I’ve been here in months now that I think about it.”

“I like it here,” Nate confessed with a half grin. “It’s one of those places that not only is causal enough that I don’t have to wear a tie, but it’s classy enough that I don’t have to worry about clogging my arteries in the process of being here.”

“So that’s why you rushed past the Shake Shack,” Mindy teased with a hint of laughter in her tone. “Given how much you were talking about chocolate shakes the other day I figured we would end up there.”

“We could have, but I figured I should at least try to make a good impression upon you before spoiling it with junk food,” Nate winked down at her.

“Too late for that remember?” she shook her head at him.

“Maybe so, but I’m trying to clean up my act hence the turning away from the fast and the fattening,” Nate laughed lightly. “Maybe it’s Matt’s influence on me since he seems to want to see me going healthier with my lifestyle.”

“You two really hit it off, haven’t you?” she questioned as they stood near the front of the restaurant waiting for a table.

Nate nodded, “He’s probably the best friend I ever had.”

“That’s really nice to hear,” she smiled back at him. “I know a lot of people aren’t really comfortable with children one on one, but I think that they can be really interesting companions. Though I suppose I never would’ve thought that until Gabe and Brittany came around.”

“Yeah, I was wondering how that was going for you,” Nate added with a smile. “I mean I know you and Guy used to be a thing before and…”

“It’s ancient history,” Mindy waved her hand dismissively.

“Really?” Nate arched a curious brow.

“Yes really,” she shook her head at him. “I mean yeah okay I held onto the idea of being with him for far longer than I should have and I made a fool of myself not so long ago when I thought that there was a possibility that maybe just maybe we could find something together, but that phase in my life is over. Once I met Hunt everything changed for me.”

“I can understand that one,” Nate paused feeling a moment of silence overtake him. He looked around the restaurant and spotted the hostess approaching. He stepped in closer to Mindy and whispered, “Smile because it looks like we’re about to get service.”

“Just remember to behave yourself,” Mindy teased as the girl approached them.

“Table for two?” the hostess questioned looking between the both of them.

“Actually there are three of us,” Nate stepped aside and waved his arm around in the air, “but our friend is shy.”

“Friend?” the hostess questioned giving him a strange look.

“He’s invisible right now, but maybe by the time dessert rolls around, he’ll decide to make an appearance,” Nate joked only to feel Mindy swat him on the arm.

“Nate, stop it!” Mindy shook her head at him and laughed before facing the hostess fully. “He’s joking. Really.”

“Sure,” the hostess rolled her eyes and motioned for them to follow her.

“What happened to behaving?” Mindy whispered stepping in closer to Nate.

“I couldn’t resist,” Nate confessed in a muted tone. “The last time I was here she gave me a table by the kitchen and the damn door kept hitting me every time someone came out with food.”

“All the more reason to behave or else she could have someone spike our food with heaven knows what,” Mindy warned him simply.

“Fair enough,” Nate agreed as the hostess stepped aside to show them their table. Nate moved forward and grinned, “Thank you for your help this evening. It’s been a delightful experience for us.”

“Whatever,” the hostess rolled her eyes and walked off.

“Nate!” Mindy frowned over at him.

“What?” he shrugged his shoulders. “I was merely being polite. I can’t help it if she can’t take the complement. So what are you in the mood for?”

“Making it through dinner without being thrown out,” she teased as he helped her into her chair.

“No promises, but I’ll try,” Nate walked around the table take a seat across from her.

“I guess that will have to do,” Mindy decided as she reached for a menu. “So what do you think is good here?”

“I actually like…” Nate started when there was the sound of a shriek from behind them.

“Nate, what the hell are you doing here?” Cori snapped from across the room. She had a plate in her hand that she slammed down on the table top beside her. A moment later she marched over to the table with a scowl on her face, “And just who the hell are you?”


“Oh wow,” Jason sighed heavily loving the way he felt in every way possible as he folded his arms behind his head. Looking to the side, he could see the naked back of Crystal facing him, her body beside him. The thought alone made a smile press in over his young features. This girl was amazing. The whole package and who knew that he would come across her at a bar?

The time had passed by so quickly even though he knew that he had been spending most of the night with her already and he was loving every moment of it. This woman was someone who could have walked right out of his dreams. She was amazing in every way possible.

Glancing over at her again made another smile press in over his lips as he rolled onto his side slowly. His hand pressed in over the small of her naked hip making him take in a long shallow breath.

“How are you?” Jason muttered moving in to gradually press his lips in over her shoulder. Teasing his tongue over a sensitive area, he could feel her lean back against him and let out a heavy breath. “I can tell you that tonight has been nothing less than perfect. You are amazing.”

“You aren’t so bad yourself cowboy,” Crystal could feel his fingers drawing small circles over her skin causing a chill to run down her spine. Closing her eyes, she could feel his warm breath pressing closer to her neck making a sigh fall from her lips. “Tonight has been memorable.”

“Very,” Jason simply muttered against her neck after brushing her long, dark hair away from her neck. Moving in closer to her slender form, he wrapped his arm around her waist tightly bringing her body firmly against his as they laid in the center of his bed. “I can’t believe my luck in falling upon someone like you.”

“Luck…,” she whispered the words feeling him softly nipping at her tender skin before tugging on her earlobe softly with his teeth. “Jason.”

“Yes?” he moved back for a moment feeling her turn in his muscular arms. When she finally was facing him, he could feel her soft fingertips gliding up his muscular arms toward his firm chest. “What’s on your mind Crystal?”

“Honestly…?” she slid her fingers further over his smooth chest and toward his shoulders. Enjoying the warmth of his warm flesh against her and she saw him smile widely before nodding. “How wonderful you are Jason. You really have no idea.”

“Wow…we really are a pair you know,” he winked reaching out to press a strand of her dark hair out of her face and behind her ear. Leaning in closer to her, he pressed a small lingering kiss over her plump limps. Gasping, he felt her pinch at his nipple making a tight laugh fall from his lips. “Wow…you are a wild one.”

Moving over her, he pinned her small frame beneath his large muscular body catching the way she looked up at him with a mischievous expression.

“What’s really on your mind?” Jason questioned grabbing a tight hold of her wrists, holding them over her head and pressed them firmly against the bed. “I can see you thinking of something in there, but I almost think you are afraid to say it.”

“Afraid to say it?” she could feel him lowering in closer to skim his bottom lip along her jaw line making a sharp breath fall from her lips. After a moment of silence, she could feel his warm tongue pressing in over her skin and she shrugged. “I was just thinking how great this panned out. From the moment I saw you, I knew what I wanted to do and everything fell into plan so perfectly.”

“I’m glad I could make your plans fall into place for you,” Jason tightened his grip over her wrists, moving in closer to her to tease in a hint of completion with them again hearing her let out a small whimper. “And since I’ve done such a good job making everything fall into place…why stop now?”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Crystal could feel him lowering in closer to her, his lips teasing over her skin trying to fall back into what they had shared multiple times already tonight. And the more she thought about, the more she began to believe that everything was falling into place and working perfectly!


“Go fish!” Zane exclaimed wiggling his brow at Grady from across the small coffee table in the hotel room.

“Alright,” Grady reached for a card from the top of the pile before him.

“Do you have a two?” Zane asked enthusiastically.

“I do,” Grady nodded before holding the car out for the small boy.

“How about a five?” Zane questioned.

“Yes I do,” Grady started to hand it over before looking at the back of his cards jokingly. “Do you have x-ray vision Zane? How do you know what I have?”

“I’m just smart like that,” Zane collected the card Grady had proudly. “What about a four?”

“You’re clearing me out buddy,” Grady extended another card to him with a smirk. “Are you sure you don’t have x-ray vision?”

“Nope, I don’t, but that would be cool. Really cool,” Zane admitted sheepishly. “Then again I would want to be like Spiderman. He’s like the coolest superhero.”

“He’s pretty great though my favorite was always Superman,” Grady confessed with a smile. “I liked the fact that he was strong and could leap off of tall buildings and fly.”

“He’s okay I guess,” Zane shrugged, “but I still think Spiderman is better.”

“And I always liked Wonder Woman myself,” Deana added joining the two men in her life. “What’s going on here?”

“I couldn’t sleep mom,” Zane explained looking up at his mother, “Grady found me watching TV and we decided to play Go Fish. Want to join us?”

“Go fish huh?” Deana couldn’t help but smile.

“Yep,” Zane nodded holding up his cards in his tiny hand, “and I’m winning big time.”

“What can I say? He’s so much better at this one,” Grady laughed lightly as he patted the floor beside him. “Maybe you can take a seat and help me figure out strategy.”

“She still won’t let you win,” Zane replied, “because mom is always on my time.”

“That’s right honey,” Deana leaned down to kiss the top of her son’s head, “but it’s way past your bedtime.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Zane wiggled away from her.

“Neither could I,” Grady informed his wife, “I went looking for that number again since I couldn’t find it before and I saw Zane was awake. You were sleeping when we came back to the room, so we decided to play a game.”

“I see,” Deana looked between the two of them, “well I guess that is okay for tonight.”

“Really?” Zane’s eyes lit up.

“Yes really although you really should be getting some rest Zane,” Deana played with his blonde hair, “because Uncle Jason wants to take you to the beach with him.”

“I’m not tired,” Zane sighed.

“Sweetheart it’s going to be really early when Uncle Jason arrives,” Deana reminded him once again.

“Okay,” Zane groaned outwardly, “can I watch TV for a little while?”

“Television is going to keep you awake,” Deana explained.

“Not if he watches it while we’re in bed,” Grady suggested rising to his feet. “We can take him back into the room with us and watch some cartoons for a while.”

“Grady I don’t think that…” Deana began again only to feel Zane tug on her leg.

“Please mom. I promise I’ll try to sleep after a little TV,” Zane batted his eyelashes at her. “You know I think you’re the best mommy in the world, right?”

“You’re such a kiss up,” Deana scooped her son up in her arms to hug him, “but I love you.”

“I love you too mommy,” Zane kissed her cheek, “so can I watch TV with you?”

“For a little while,” Deana decided feeling her son wiggle in her arms.

“Last one to bed is a rotten egg,” Zane announced rushing into the bedroom area.

“You heard him mom,” Grady stepped forward to wrap his arms around Deana’s waist. He leaned down to kiss her tenderly, “last one in bed is the rotten egg.”

“In that case I can promise you it won’t be me,” she laughed lightly wiggling out of his arms and heading towards the bedroom as Grady found himself eagerly anticipating a late night with his wife and stepson.


“Well isn’t this rich,” Brant stepped forward, his dark eyes narrowing down at the blonde woman before him. While he noticed that she’d been dressed in a conservative suit, there was no mistaking the memory those long legs and the wild nights he’d shared with her--the nights that undoubtedly caused more problems for him than anything else now that his former flame had just arrived out of the blue to the Coral Valley Police Department when his sister’s fiancé was in trouble. He could practically see her salivating at the mouth awaiting the moment to pounce and spin a potentially ugly story surrounding something she knew entirely nothing about, “What are you doing here Gillian? Are you starving for attention out in Los Angeles so badly that you have to work your way out here in the hopes of salvaging what‘s left of your less than savory career or are you just set on stalking me all over again?”

She let out a haughty laugh before tossing her long, blonde hair behind her shoulders. It was a signature move of Gillian Geyer, yet it was one that Brant couldn’t help but be concerned about. Given the volatile nature of his last encounter with Gillian, he knew full well not to underestimate her presence especially when it was so close to the case surrounding his sister’s future husband.

“Only you would be so narcissistic to believe that I would actually consider feeling the need to get close to a chauvinistic, egotistical, narcissist like yourself,” she rolled her eyes at his remark, her laughter fading as her eyes narrowed in on him, “Don’t flatter yourself Brant because you certainly weren’t worth the effort then and you simply are not worth it now.”

“Gee, if that was really the case, then why was it you felt compelled to spend months trying to drag my company and my name through the mud?” Brant shook his head at her, a heavy distain carrying over him, “It seems to me if you were to keep moving forward with such claims in the hopes of them being validated you would’ve let sleeping dogs lie.”

“Oh I took care of the dog and it wasn’t my fault that your reputation was tarnished,” she wrinkled her nose at him and scoffed back at him, “You did that all on your own by showing your true colors as an Ashford.”

“The only thing I showed you was a good time, but you spun it into tabloid trash in the hopes of making a name for yourself,” Brant snapped back at her feeling his blood boiling as she tossed out another haughty laugh.

“I have made a name for myself Brant and a good one at that. Haven’t you been reading the papers? I am at the top of my game and a well respected journalist these days. Since I don’t have your oppressive presence holding me back I am able to flourish and spread the truth to the world,” Gillian offered up with a glare, her blonde hair framing her face as her red nails clutched onto the briefcase she’d been carrying with her. “I’ve received a great many honors and…”

“They were all based on some poor schmuck’s misfortune when you decided it was time to make all the males in the world suffer for your own prejudices,” Brant mouthed in response, his brown eyes full of contempt for her. “I saw all that you did with your spreading gossip in the Smith case.”

“That man was guilty as sin and I wasn’t about to let his sweet talking lawyer make him a martyr in the eyes of the public,” Gillian offered up with a small huff moving in closer to him. “I did the right thing and because of it the streets are so much safer.”

“You spread lies because it suited you just like you did when you tried to take my company under without so much as any concrete evidence to back up your claims,” Brant stepped forward ready to take her head off before Don intervened.

“Okay, I think we’ve all had enough tension today,” Don placed his hand on Brant’s chest to keep him from doing or saying something stupid before he turned to Gillian, “Really though what are you doing here?”

“This is a high profile murder case. While you might be too lost in your own world to give it a second thought Valerie Madison had a flourishing career in the fashion world and her death isn’t going to be taken lightly. There will undoubtedly be others coming into town to get the scoop on what really happened to her,” Gillian explained looking beyond Don to where Brant was standing. “My being here is only the first in a great many interested parties.”

“And naturally you’ve made your way into town to spin an ugly untruth into the media all to spite me because of what happened between us. You would destroy an innocent man with your unfounded rumors because you would like nothing more than to get back at me for the way things ended with us,” Brant challenged glaring over at her once again.

“Do you really think I would do something like that?” Gillian questioned arching a curious brow while an amused smile teased over the corners of her mouth.

“I wouldn’t put anything past you now,” Brant scoffed in response moving forward only to feel Don touch his chest again to keep him still. “That seems to be your mission in life these days, isn’t it?”

“As much as I would love to be able to feed into your overwhelming ego, the fact to the matter is that I am here because I’m searching for the truth,” she explained matter of fact wrinkling her nose at him before looking between him and Don. “There is a hot story here and I’m positive that I’m the one who can take this one to the top.”

“With your lies of course,” Brant muttered under his breath taking a step back and throwing his hands in the air, “That’s all you’re good at.

“Believe it or not Rex Ashford called me here,” she informed him causing Brant to stop where he stood. He turned around to look at Gillian with a surprised expression and she couldn’t help but laugh, “What? You find it that hard to believe that your uncle could see my strengths out of the bedroom just because you failed to do so?”

“Look you, the last time I saw you there was nothing strong about your journalistic integrity. You spread gossip and lies and used me so that you could give yourself a place in the world of trash,” Brant continued to lash out at her as Kevin joined the group again watching the backlash. “If you’re here to start something, then…”

“I’m here because your uncle trusts in my abilities and knows that I can have the power to open the jury to the light of day. With the murder case being so high profile, there is going to be a lot of questioning going into Seth’s past. Given that his father was a compulsive gambler and a conman, it would open up the door for a great deal of speculation--that kind of speculation that could be damaging to his case. Sure, you’d like to think that the truth would set him free, but that only happens in an ideal world. In the real world we aren’t given that kind of freedom. Given all that Seth has stacked against him the world won’t see him as the sympathetic soul that he really is. They won’t know the man who has endured the loss of a child after months of hardship. All they will see is a man on the bring of almost having it all, only to have it taken from him thus leading rage to take to the front burner. They will paint him as a monster when they see the all-American beauty that was murdered.”

“Seth is innocent!” Brant shouted at her, having had enough of her talking.

“And I intend to convey that message to the world. That is what Rex brought me in for and I intend to give Seth the kind of positive press that he needs to come out on top of this case,” she folded her arms in front of her chest as Kevin moved forward in his wheelchair to join the group.

“Seth doesn’t need you or your brand of help,” Kevin snarled up at her already not liking the woman in front of him from what little he’d seen.

“And just what are you?” Gillian questioned giving him a second glance before offering up a twisted smirk, “A bodyguard in a wheelchair? My Brant you are really desperate these days, aren’t you?”

“Look, I don’t know what Rex promised you to get you out here, but you can pack it up and be on your way. Your services aren’t needed,” Brant explained matter of fact before Kevin added as well.

“We’re more than capable of handling Seth’s defense,” Kevin informed her bluntly already getting a sense that the woman in front of him wasn’t to be trusted.

“You say that now, but you’ll need me for damage control,” she informed the men before her reaching under her arm to pull out the latest headlines on Valerie’s murder. She tossed the paper into Kevin’s lap before taking a step back. “Think about it because I’m quite certain you’ll need me before this trial is over--that is if you want to see Seth actually make his way out of that jail cell and into his life again.”

Brant opened his mouth to say something, but thought twice about it instead turning to look over at Kevin as Gillian turned to Don. She withdrew a business card from her pocket and dropped it into his hand with a smile.

“Rex already has my number, but I’ll give this to you once Brant comes to his senses and he will,” Gillian informed him with a tiny laugh before turning to eye Brant and Kevin curiously. She shook her head before looking to Don again, “It’s nice to see you again Don.”

“The feeling isn’t mutual,” Don replied once she’d walked halfway down the hallway to exit the police station.

“Who the hell is that?” Kevin questioned with a deep frown thinking about the confrontation he’d walked in on.

“A bad memory that should’ve left a long time ago,” Brant replied with a tiny shudder thinking about how Gillian had always managed to make his blood boil.

“An ex of yours huh?” Kevin frowned thinking about the exchange that had taken place.

“I don’t know if he could really call her an ex considering that they just hooked up after Heather slept with her dad and…” Don piped in thinking about the reasoning behind Brant and Gillian’s brief fling.

“Not now Don,” Brant silenced his friend with a frown before shaking his head. “If she’s in town, then I have to tell you Kevin, this is going to be harder than I thought. If she is trying to put a spin on things, we’re going to have to work major damage control with Seth. Did he say anything to you?”

“Enough to make me see that reporter can’t get near him ever,” Kevin replied with a heavy sigh hoping above anything that he would be able to find a way to clear his cousin’s name without things taking a turn for the worse!


“I’m worried about her,” Ria noted thinking about Blake’s reaction to waking up. Knowing full well that Blake had endured a horrible ordeal Ria had done her best as a doctor to help her through the nightmare she’d been having. She’d given Blake another sedative that had put her at ease enough to get her back to sleep again, but still Ria knew it would do nothing for Blake’s nerves in the waking hours again when she was faced with reality.

“So am I,” Angela admitted with a sigh giving Blake one last look before she and Ria stepped out of the room Blake was in. “She’s far too young to be experiencing all of this. Hell, I don’t think anyone young or old should be forced to face this for that matter.”

“It’s so unfair and what makes matters worse is that Seth isn’t here to mourn the loss with her. They need one another now more than anything, but he’s been taken from her,” Ria shuddered thinking about her best friend being behind bars. “I know he couldn’t have killed Valerie.”

“If I was in his shoes I can’t say I would have that kind of strength to keep from going after her,” Angela admitted with a small sigh as she and Ria returned to the room they were in earlier, “If someone had murdered my child like that, then there is no telling what I would do.”

“Valerie never seemed like she would go off the edge like she did,” Ria confessed thinking about her one time friend. “Granted she was always a bit into herself, but I never saw her crossing that kind of line.”

“People who feel desperate can often change without warning or any indication of it happening,” Angela pointed out with a small frown. “Even if you know someone, you can’t really know them it would seem.”

“Yes, but Valerie was much more rational about things. I knew her since we were children,” Ria confessed glancing over at Angela once again. “We were friends once before she found herself lost in her obsession with Seth. She came back to town and something inside of her kept longing to hold onto what was never really there. She couldn’t just leave things alone and I really thought that she would just get past it. I thought that her fixation on Seth would just be a phase.”

“It was Ria, but it was a deadly one,” Angela noted feeling a tiny chill carry over her. “When she thought she couldn’t have him any longer--when that divorce was finalized it must’ve made her pass the point of no return.”

“But I don’t understand why. She never really wanted Seth in the first place. When we were in high school she had no interest in him. Even after they’d gone to Atlantic City and gotten married she hadn’t wanted to stay with him. She went off to follow her dreams of being a star and Seth stayed here for Jade,” Ria shook her head feeling an uneasiness carry over her. “It’s not fair that this is happening. Here Seth has done absolutely everything in his life to make sure that those around him were taken care of. Time and time again he sacrificed himself for those he loved. He gave up a scholarship to be here for Jade when she needed him…did everything he could to help her through troubled times and then she was killed.”

“I heard about that,” Angela nodded in response thinking about Kevin’s brief musings about his departed cousin. “I know Kevin took this hard, but I would imagine that it was even worse for Seth.”

“Jade was his best friend for so very long,” Ria explained with a heavy sigh. “They were inseparable and I know how much he depended on her. After their mother died and their father showed his true colors, they were all each other had. They both were hoping to find happiness in their lives beyond the messes that their father had created for them, yet…”

“Jade’s dead and Seth has to endure this in the worst possible way,” Angela finished for her thinking about all that was happening. “Ria, if there is anything more that I can do…”

“I think your just being here for Blake helps,” Ria decided knowing full well that they were where Seth would have wanted them to be. “She needs the support of those that care about her and since you’re sort of family at this point I think that your being around with Brant will help her immensely.”

“Hopefully Brant and Kevin will find a way to get Seth out of jail,” Angela mouthed thinking about the man who had been taken away. “I still think that Seth is what’s best for her and until he’s out of trouble I don’t think that Blake will ever rest.”

“Neither do I,” Ria admitted knowing full well that as long as her best friend was behind bars nothing would ever be the same for any of them.


Julian pushed his key in the front door finding himself met by a surprising sound that carried over him now that music came flooding out of the apartment into the hallway. He took in a breath and half expected to find John and Jackie with one another again arguing over the remote, but instead he found himself face to face with Lindsay and Stacy, who were both seated on the couch.

“Hi Mr. Kurts,” Stacy waved her hand frantically while nearly spilling over the oversized bowl of popcorn in her lap.

“Stacy,” Julian nodded at her before giving her a long look, now that he could see the buttery substance all over her fingers, “Lindsay, where is Jackie?”

“She’s on the phone,” Lindsay explained as Stacy dipped her fingers into the popcorn again and held up an oversized handful.

“You want some?” Stacy questioned flashing Jackie’s father a smile before he shook his head in refusal.

“No, I think I’ll pass on that one, but you might want to be careful with that bowl because spilling it on the couch will probably leave a stain,” Julian warned doing his best to be polite as he looked around the messy living room. He glanced over at the television and realized that the girls were watching wrestling and he laughed lightly, “I didn’t realize you girls were a fan of the sport.”

“I’m a fan of the guys in the tight shorts,” Stacy replied with a gulp, “I mean yeah it’s a great sport.”

“I always watched wrestling with my dad and my brother when I was younger since Don was a wrestler in college,” Lindsay piped in with an innocence in her tone.

“That’s nice to know,” Julian looked around the living room again trying not to get worked up about the discarded DVDs, junk food and cds that were scattered on the coffee table. He watched Stacy reached for her can of Cherry Coke before he nodded towards her, “A coaster might work there.”

“Right,” Stacy nodded seeing him walk off into the other room in search of his daughter.

“Jackie?” Julian questioned moving into the kitchen area to find his daughter on the phone hovered over in a corner.

“So what are you wearing?” Jackie questioned in a slur her voice laced with something Julian hadn’t quite recognized in her tone before. She offered up a tiny giggle before turning around to find her father standing across from her. “On second thought I’ll call you right back.”

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” Julian arched a curious brow eyeing her intently.

“No not at all,” Jackie felt a color carry over her cheeks before she stepped up to embrace her father, “It’s always good to see you and pardon my asking this, but um, what are you doing here?”

“I live here, remember?” Julian pointed out with a small laugh, “At least the last time I checked I thought I did.”

“Look dad, I’m sorry about the mess,” she began apologetically. “It’s just that we were having a sleepover and you know how those go between hair, makeup and munchies.”

“It’s okay. I just wasn’t ready for it when I walked in,” Julian paused looking around the room, “Speaking of which, where is your mother? I would’ve thought she’d be taking part in some of these rituals with you.”

“Dad, mom hasn’t been actively involved in a slumber party of mine since I’ve been ten,” Jackie wrinkled her nose at the suggestion, “and before that John was always a tagalong.”

“Yeah, um speaking of your brother, where is he tonight?” Julian couldn’t help but ask.

“He’s at Toby’s,” Jackie rolled her eyes ever so slightly, “They are practicing for their big gig that is coming up.”

“Gig?” Julian arched a curious brow before watching her nod.

“Yeah, Toby’s brother decided to let them play in his garage for a get together he is having, so now they think they are rock stars or whatever,” Jackie rolled her eyes at the thought, “As if John didn’t already have a huge ego.”

“Oh come on Jackie. It’ll be good for him. They’ve worked really hard to actually get to this point,” Julian offered up thinking about his son’s band.

“Yeah, well anyone who would pay them to play is either deaf or stupid because they stink,” Jackie mouthed with another wrinkle of her nose.

“Jackie,” her father frowned over at her.

“Don’t give me that look dad because you know it’s true,” Jackie answered sweetly before smiling up at him, “So what’s going on with you daddy? Get off of work early?”

“Not exactly, but I was hoping to have a few words with your mother,” he explained walking over to get himself a drink out of the fridge. “Is she in her room?”

“Dad, she’s not here. She hasn’t been here for a while,” Jackie shrugged her shoulders before hearing Stacy squeal in the other room.

“What do you man that she’s not here,” Julian frowned turning to his daughter again.

“I don’t know. She’s at work or something,” she shrugged before rushing out to see what her friends were doing. “Later dad.”

“Yeah later,” Julian replied seeing her leave as he sat down at the kitchen table wondering how his wife was doing. Reaching for his cell phone, he dialed her office hoping to get a word with her, but her voice mail picked up. He hung up the phone before dialing her cell phone number again.

“Hey Livvie, it’s me,” Julian paused before offering up a heavy sigh, “I was just calling to check in on you. I guess I’ll just catch in with you later. I love you.”

Hanging up the phone Julian looked around the kitchen one more time before opting to retreat to his room for a few minutes rest before going back to the headache that would be waiting for him at work. He glanced over at the girls who were now gushing at what was on television and he shook his head wondering how in the world he’d managed to be the parent that was around when they were having a girl’s night out slumber party.


“Alright, so what are we talking about here?” Kipp eyed over Kellen as he leaned further back against the counters. Kellen’s blue eyes seemed to be watching him carefully as he dumped out the scrambled eggs into a bowl. “What’s so important.”

“Well that was my mother and she was talking to me about a few things and I think…I want you to meet my mother,” Kellen informed him seeing Kipp turn to look back at him and he shrugged. “I think it’s about time. She always hears me talking about you and it’s been a while since I’ve been back to see her Kipp.”

“Right now? You want to go see her?” Kipp continued to set up the table for their breakfast and he saw Kellen nod, a small smile pressing in over his lips. “What’s your plan for all of this?”

“Well, I figured since we would be going to the same island that Kyle and Heather are on…” Kellen began catching the glance that Kipp gave him as he took in a long shallow breath. “My mother owns a bar down there. Her name is Martha and she works on the same island they are. That way, when we take Charles…Kyle and Heather will be there too. So if something goes wrong…”

“So…your mother, wants to meet me?” Kipp moved into the living room to grab Charles so they could eat the breakfast he had cooked for them. “She would be alright with us just coming up there with no plans at all.”

“Kipp it’s really not that hard to have company when you own your own bar,” Kellen insisted as they moved back toward the kitchen and the more he had to talk about, the more he was thinking he would have to beg to convince Kipp to go. “You know how beautiful the island is.”

“Yeah, to the degree of seeing it only for a few minutes in and out of consciousness since Cameron was hiding me there,” Kipp pointed out and he could see the expression over Kellen’s face drop. Sighing heavily, he set up Charles’ breakfast and then turned to Kellen. He could see that it was upsetting him that he didn’t just say yes from the start making him feel somewhat bad. “Just tell me a little bit more about the place.”

“Well, it’s a great place to just relax for a few,” Kellen explained with a heavy breath knowing that some of the excitement slid away when Kipp seemed like he was going to be turning him down on the offer. “My mother just really wants to meet you. She wants to be part of my life since I always tell her how wonderful it is. I tell her how much I love you and how much Charles means to me…she really is a great person. She’s so down to Earth and she is very, extremely friendly Kipp. It would really be nice to have you go.”

“And you say it’s pretty easy going there?” Kipp eyed Kellen over knowing that he would say anything to try and get him to go. It was pretty clear that he was so eager for him to meet his mother and while he was cautious about it, he knew he would have to think about it just for Kellen. “I can’t really remember.”

“Oh yeah. The island is really relaxed and if that’s isn’t your kind of thing…my mother’s bar is so comfortable that you wouldn’t even feel like you need to leave,” Kellen suggested rubbing his hands together in a nervous moment. “So what do you think? You want to go?”


“Hey, are you okay?” Brant noticed Kevin slumped over in his wheelchair as he moved him toward the entrance to finally meet back up with Ria and Angela. He stopped and reached out to place his hand over Kevin’s shoulder noticing the way that Kevin seemed to be just shaking off a daze that he was in. “Are you alright buddy?”

“Just thinking,” Kevin sighed looking up into Brant’s dark eyes and he saw Brant kneel in front of him. Hinting that he was going to talk to him before they went in to see Angela and Ria. The fact that Brant even had to kneel to talk to him, made him all the more worthless as he sighed heavily. “I feel absolutely worthless you know. I can’t take care of myself. I need people to walk around and push me or else I’m at a damn stand still. I can’t help my cousin in any way possible. I’m stuck in this damn chair and I can’t do anything what-so-ever.”

“You’re not worthless, you are just hurt Kevin. The best thing you can do is support your cousin right now. No one is expecting you to be a hero,” Brant reached out to pat Kevin on the shoulder in a friendly manner knowing by expression on Kevin’s face that he wasn’t satisfied with that.

“But the best thing to do would be to get Seth out of jail, not just wait around in this damn chair and expect the world to work things out for Seth. If there is one thing I’ve learned…,” Kevin began taking in a long breath as Brant slowly began to stand back to his feet, but his eyes were still watching Kevin carefully. “It’s you don’t trust anyone for help, you have to do it yourself.”

“And I believe that’s the attitude that got you into that wheelchair Kevin. You went jumping into things unaware of what was actually going on and got yourself hurt,” Brant reminded him knowing that Kevin was highly disappointed in himself for that reason alone. “No one is going to blame you for being in this wheelchair Kevin. No one, but the main focus is to get you better. Everything will work itself out.”

“Yeah? You really, honestly think that?” Kevin eyed Brant over for a long moment trying to read his expression. Arching his eyebrow up, he could see the doubt in Brant’s dark eyes and he sighed heavily shaking his head. “That’s what I thought. Let’s just go see them.”

“Alright,” Brant sighed heavily knowing that Kevin was being a bit stubborn about the situation, but he could understand why. He was devastated about this for his own sister. All the pain she had to stand through and witness. Now with Kevin, he understood what he was going through, he just knew that Kevin had a whole lot of pride and right now it was being shut down. “We’re going to take care of this Kevin. I promise.”

“Yeah,” Kevin breathed out heavily hoping that Brant was right with the situation.

It killed Kevin to see his cousin in so much pain like that. He wanted him happy. He knew that he was hurting, but Seth never had it inside of him to kill anyone. The idea of him hurting people was a stretch and he knew that this wasn’t how things were supposed to go. His thoughts were soon put to a hold when he felt the chair run into the wall a bit and he hissed out noticing the expression over Brant’s face showing him it was an accident.

“I am so sorry,” Brant tried to push open the door far enough to get him inside the house and he could hear Kevin’s breathing heavy for a moment as he closed his eyes and tried to focus on keeping his cool. “That was an accident. I swear.”

“Just be more careful next time,” Kevin begged with a pained expression as Brant pushed him inside with a nod and once they moved forward, Ria caught sight of them from where she was sitting making her stand up quickly. “Thanks.”

“Yeah, I’m going to find Angela,” Brant pat Kevin on the shoulder for a final goodbye for now knowing that he wanted to see his sister and talk to Angela about a few things. Which meant that Kevin and Ria probably wanted some alone time to talk together as well. “If you need me…”

“I know where to find you,” Kevin nodded moving the chair forward with his hands toward Ria as she moved in closer to him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders after leaning down toward him. “Hey.”

“How is Seth?” Ria pulled away slowly, her hand reaching out to stroke Kevin’s rough, pale cheek. She could see that by the expression over his face that he wasn’t happy. Running her fingers through his thick hair in a soothing way, she could see him look away from her and she sighed. “Kevin?”

“He looks awful Ria. I can’t believe all of this is happening to him. He’s a good kid. He wouldn’t hurt anyone. He doesn’t have it inside of him to do something like this. He’s the last one in my family that would ever think about hurting someone,” Kevin spoke up, his voice cracking with emotion thinking about the pain that his cousin was going through. “But things don’t look good for him and I feel worthless Ria. I can’t do anything to help him.”

“Seth knows you would help him Kevin if you could,” Ria hushed reaching out to push her fingers through his dark hair in a soothing motion. She reached out to wrap her arms around him again trying to show her support. “He knows that you are going to do everything that you can do to help him Kevin. He knows that.”

“I’m just afraid it’s not enough,” Kevin breathed in her ear, biting down on his bottom lip as he tried to face the fear of not being able to help Seth with the things that were happening. The last thing he ever wanted for his family was to go through the very same pain that he had once had to experience. And now Seth was going through it all. “He’s just innocent and doesn’t deserve all of this. At all.”


Brant stood at the side of his sister’s bed thinking about the week she’d experienced. Unable to ignore the ache that carried in over him, Brant sat down in the chair beside her bed and reached for her hand, his heart full of sadness at the sight of what had happened to her.

“Blake, I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to prevent this,” he whispered thinking about all she’d endured while he was away, “I wish that I would’ve known what was going on so that I could’ve changed it. If I could’ve seen that woman was so crazy…”

Brant trailed off his dark eyes filling with tears as he took in a small breath. Thinking about a time long ago Brant couldn’t help but remember what it was like to see his sister hurting and how much he’d hated it.

“What’s wrong with her?” Brant questioned as he stood beside his younger sister’s bedside seeing her as a small child lost in her own world after she’d just witnessed their mother dying in Los Angeles. “Why isn’t she saying anything?”

“She isn’t ready to just yet,” Annie offered up in a comforting tone as a much younger Brant climbed up onto Annie’s lap and watched his sister closely. He waved his hand out in front of Blake’s face seeing her blue eyes wide open, but nothing fell from her lips after the tragedy she’d faced. She was unresponsive and felt worry consume him as he reached for her hand.

“Blake say something,” Brant pleaded with her squeezing her tiny fingers gently. “Anything Blake. If you talk to me, I promise Ken and I will let you play with us. You can go with us on the weekend and we can do whatever you want. We can go wherever you want if you just snap out of it.”

“She’s trying Brant,” Annie whispered giving him a small hug as Brant leaned in over his sister’s bed to give her a small kiss on the cheek.

“If you wake up again Blake, I promise you that I won’t let anything hurt you,” Brant’s voice promised as a child after it seemed like he could lose his sister forever like he had his mother.

Now as Brant focused on his sister once again he felt his heart sink wishing like hell he would’ve been able to keep that promise he’d made all those years ago to Blake. She’d experienced so much pain already in her young life that he hated to think about her feeling any more misery.

“Want some company,” Angela questioned reaching out to touch his shoulder gently. He tipped his head up and smiled at her before shifting on his seat just a bit.

“I’m sorry I’ve been in here so long,” Brant began apologetically only to feel her press her index finger over his lips to silence him.

“It’s okay. This is where you should be,” Angela whispered in response moving her fingers to the side of his face and touching his cheek gently, “I have everything covered with the twins so there aren’t any worries.”

“How are they doing?” Brant couldn’t help but ask thinking about his children.

“They are sleeping,” she paused feeling a smile tease over the corners of her lips, “finally, but I have to tell you I’m sure it won’t be long until it’s time for another feeding.”

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here to help with that earlier,” Brant reached out to take her hand in his, “I know I promised you more.”

“Brant, you’ve given me the world with the two of them,” she tapered her touch over his palm before lacing their fingers together. “Besides, in case you haven’t noticed I am very self sufficient and I have it covered.”

“But you shouldn’t have to be that way,” he pulled her down into his lap holding her close to him, “You should have me to depend on.”

“I do depend on you,” she patted her palm over the center of his chest before motioning over to Blake, “I depend on you to be the kind of man who doesn’t turn his back on his family in their time of need. Blake needs you and there is no place else I would want you to be.”

“Thank you,” he replied glancing over at Blake again, “you know I swore to myself when our mother died that I would never let anyone or anything hurt her again. Time and time again I’ve tried to keep her out of harm’s way--tried to keep her from danger, yet…”

“There are no assurances in this world Brant,” Angela finished for him pressing her fingers through his hair for a brief second before urging him to meet her eyes. “You can just do what you can to try to help those you love, but you can’t hold the weight of the world on your shoulders. This wasn’t your fault just like it wasn’t Blake’s or Seth’s. This was a horrible, horrible tragedy that none of us saw coming.”

“But I wish I could have,” he sighed inwardly closing his eyes for a brief moment.

“Brant, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that you are doing all that you can to help Blake. You’re a good brother and I know when you love someone you go to the wire for them,” she continued in an impassioned tone, “Just like you did when Craven had me hostage. You rescued me and the twins. You were there for us when we needed you the most…”

“I just wish I could’ve done the same for Blake,” he sighed his thoughts returning to his younger sister.

“You’re doing it right now,” she whispered leaning in against his chest and feeling his arms around her as she prayed that things would get better for Blake now that she’d experienced her own personal hell.


“I can’t believe that you’re here with her!” Cori shrieked feeling her anger mounting as she glared at Nate. “What happened to all of the promises and words you gave me when you said you would help me?”

“Cori, if you’d just let me explain,” Nate began apologetically knowing full well that he had entirely no reason to even consider apologizing to Cori after the way she’d treated him, yet with her brown eyes wild with anger all he could see was the news headline that had been spilled all over the television set when she’d shot Diego Hernandez. He didn’t want to be the next big headline on the news and for that reason alone he vowed to stop her anger from escalating. “Cori, we can just talk about this calmly and…”

“Talk about this,” Cori sneered reaching out to the table beside where they were to a bowl of soup that a woman was eating. With a snarl she tossed it forward at Nate, sending it directly at him until he ducked and the soup splattered all over the man at the table behind them.

“I think you’re being totally out of line,” Mindy snapped stepping up in Cori’s face after she’d witnessed the outpour of Cori’s rage. “Back off.”

“No you back off,” Cori raised her hand as if she was going to slap Mindy only to feel Nate reach out around her waist and pull her back.

“Oh no you don’t,” Nate mouthed trying to keep a writhing Cori from lashing out at Mindy, but much to his dismay Cori was on a rampage. She kicked at his shins, wiggling with all her might until she brought her leg back just enough to make a direct impact with his groin. Nate sank down to the ground releasing her immediately as Cori glared down at Mindy.

“Just who the hell do you think you are?” Cori demanded marching up into the line in front of Mindy’s face. “I don’t know where you get off trying to steal my man, but…”

“Your man,” Mindy couldn’t help but laugh, “Cori, you’re a complete lunatic and you’ve been ignoring Nate since day one. There is no way in this world that he is your man. I don’t buy it for a second.”

“Listen you little,” Cori reached for another bowl of soup from the table she’d extracted the first one from. The crowd was surrounding them and the manager of the restaurant was approaching, but it didn’t deter Cori. She lunged forward tossing the bowl of soup at Mindy. However, Mindy spotted Cori’s movement and ducked at the last second only in time for the manager to get splashed in the face with the soup.

“I am so sorry,” Cori gasped horrified at what she’d done to Mindy before a snarl carried over her features. “You’re so going to pay for that.”

“Take your best shot,” Mindy taunted having had enough of Crazy Cori and her attitude already. With that thought in mind Mindy let Cori take a stab at attacking her before Mindy vowed to put Cori in her place once and for all!


Letting out a small sigh, Jason could feel his body tense in the position he had been sleeping for the last few hours. After being with Crystal tonight, he was starting to feel a little wiped out. What he shared with her was beyond incredible tonight and he was loving every second of it!

Stretching out more in the bed, he could still imagine the way she tasted against his lips when they kissed. The way she touched him. Caressed his body in ways that he could only have imagined before he met her.

This woman was everything he could have wished for her and now his dreams were becoming a reality. She was amazing. Everything he could look for in a woman and ever want.

Looking toward the clock, his vision was a bit blurred from being exhausted, but he could see that it had been a few hours since he had fallen asleep. Stretching out once more, he looked over his shoulder to expect to find the beautiful woman he had brought back to his room laying beside him.

“Crystal?” Jason called out noticing that the bed beside him was empty and he lifted up from the bed slowly looking around the dark room half expecting her to be in the restroom or something. Reaching out to press his hand in over the sheets, he could feel the coolness of them showing that she had been gone a while. “Damn it.”

Cussing a few more times to himself, he threw his legs over the side of the bed and reached for the pants that he had tossed off in the eagerness to be with Crystal earlier.

The both of them when things first started were so eager to get at the other one that it didn’t matter where their clothing went. As long as they got to touch each other. That’s what mattered the most.

“Hello?” Jason called out again noticing that the bathroom door was closed and he was hoping deep down that she would be in there. The thought of Crystal leaving without even saying goodbye killed him. She was the perfect catch and her leaving like that would make him feel like he did something. “Crys?”

Pulling on his pants, he slowly buckled them together and moved toward the bathroom pushing open the door to find himself rather disappointed when he was met by the darkness that surrounded him. Reaching out to turn on the light, he let out a deep breath and realized that she was gone. She left him.

“Damn,” he huffed moving back into the bedroom, turning the small light on that was in the corner of the room. Dropping down on the bed, he felt the sudden emptiness of the room around him and he let out a heavy sigh. “Great.”

Here he thought he had the perfect girl that he found by pure luck, but she left the room without even saying goodbye. No note, no phone number…no way of connecting them back together from here on out.

So now, possibly one of the best moments of his life was going to be the only moment he would get to spend with the girl of his dreams. The idea alone was depressing, but the thought that he at least got to spend one night with this amazing girl was good enough he supposed.

“Wonderful,” Jason sighed reaching out to turn off the light beside him knowing that if he didn’t have proof of the marks she made on his skin earlier, that this all could have seemed like a dream. A very perfect dream that he longed to have again.

There was still that pure hope that he would see her again and he was hoping that his hope was lucky enough to get him that one single chance of seeing her again. Just once.

“I hope,” Jason sighed looking to the time noticing that things fly by so fast when you are having a really good time and he longed to have that again in his life. Very badly!


Grady turned on his side, seeing the way that Zane was snuggled into Deana after their late night cartoon watching had finally done him in. While Deana had promised they could move him to the other room in the suite, Grady refused the offer having found himself liking the idea of having a family in his life. Now that he watched the two of them sleeping, he felt his heart fill with love wondering how in the world he’d gotten so lucky. It still felt so surreal to realize that he’d finally found what he’d been missing out on in his life for so very long.

Grady’s gaze swept beyond Zane’s curled up position over to Deana, where he noticed the wedding band that circled her finger. With a smile he eyed his own thinking about how this time things were going to work out. This time he was finally going to be able to experience the kind of life that he’d always felt was just beyond his reach. Smiling at the thought, he turned on his side to watch the two of them for a few minutes longer before his stomach rumbled.

“Be quiet,” he whispered to his noisy stomach realizing that in the midst of wedding and the slumber party he and Deana had with Zane, he hadn’t had much more to eat than a piece of wedding cake and a few cheese puffs that Zane had brought into the bed with them. He spotted the bag near the bottom of the bed and reached for it before discovering that Zane had cleared it out in his snacking session.

“So much for staying still,” Grady thought to himself pushing the blankets off of his legs before stepping onto the cool floor of the hotel room. He tiptoed out of the bedroom area before moving into the seating room in the hopes that there was still some wedding cake left in the refrigerator that Zane hadn‘t spotted earlier. While they hadn’t had an oversized cake, the one that they’d had ordered in on such short notice was good enough in serving it’s purpose and would undoubtedly fuel the fire behind his sweet tooth satisfying him long enough until he, Deana and Zane could have a proper breakfast with one another. Crouching down Grady opened up the door to the refrigerator and felt a breath of relief carry over him in seeing that his mother had hidden a few pieces of cake at the back of the mini refrigerator for them.

“Finally,” Grady reached into the fridge and pulled out the neatly wrapped piece of cake. He stood up again searching the room for any sign of plates or silverware, but after a moment’s contemplation, he opted to pull back on the piece of plastic it was wrapped in. He raised the cake to his lips and took a hearty bite tasting the sweetness of the whipped cream frosting mixed in with the strawberry swirl cake that Deana had picked out. Admittedly it might not have been his first choice, but after Deana had opted for it, he couldn’t help but admit he rather liked it. With that thought in mind he finished off his piece of cake and headed back to the refrigerator again for a second piece when he heard a soft rapping on his hotel room door.

“What the…” Grady perked his head up wondering if Kyle was stopping by to check on him or if perhaps Jason was returning in the hopes of taking Zane back for the night so that Grady and Deana could enjoy their honeymoon. Both Grady and Deana had told Jason not to worry about it, but now as Grady heard the knocking he figured his brother-in-law may just be double checking.

“Maybe he just wants a piece of this cake because it’s incredible,” Grady teased with a small laugh taking the time to swipe his second piece of cake before moving to the door to invite Jason inside. He opened up the door half expecting to see his brother-in-law or his best friend, but instead he was met by an empty hallway.

Frowning Grady stepped forward half expecting someone to jump out at him, but instead he turned to the left to see a still empty hallway. He turned his foot to the right ready to look from that angle when he felt something come into contact with his foot. Looking down he spotted a necklace on the ground beneath his toes. He reached for it pulling it off of the ground and seeing the heart shaped golden charm that sparkled before him with a single emerald in the center of it causing him to catch his breath.

“No,” Grady shook his head walking out into the hallway and taking another look around before he found himself caught up in a moment he hadn’t thought of until now.

“So tell me Grady, am I going to be able to coerce you out of the office tonight or is it Chinese takeout all over again?” Jade’s voice questioned with a cheery tone as Grady looked up from the books he’d been shuffling through for hours. She winked at him before offering up a small laugh. “Of course if you are really antisocial maybe we can spice it up by having pizza.”

“Pizza,” Grady couldn’t help but laugh leaning back in his chair and feeling his tense muscles carry over him after the hours he’d put in. “I don’t think we’ve ever done that one before.”

“Pizza is very good as it covers just about every food group,” Jade circled around his desk and smiled, “Besides the way I see it pizza will be good for you. It might show that you’re not always so proper.”

“I would hardly consider myself proper,” Grady couldn’t help but laugh at her before shaking his head, “Whatever I did to give you that impression, let’s just dispel that thought before it gets the best of you.”

“I think you get the best of me,” Jade pushed his chair back just enough to make room for herself on his lap. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and smiled, feeling a warmth carry over her. Reaching out to touch his cheek gently, she couldn’t help but smile, “Admit it Grady you don’t let yourself have nearly enough fun.”

“If I kept up with all the fun everyone thought I should be having, I would get nothing done,” Grady reminded her with a hint of laughter in his tone, “Of course while I would like nothing better than to spend the rest of the day here with you making love, I don’t think that will pay the rent.”

“Maybe we’ll have to work on coming to some sort of arrangement,” Jade wiggled her brow suggestively, “One that could lead to cohabitation.”

“I’m all for it as long as I can find a way to get rid of Susan,” Grady sighed before shaking his head at the thought of his ex-wife lingering around town. “I swear I don’t know why Judge Carmichael hates me so much, but the very thought of my having to share my home with her when we both know that she doesn’t have any kind of substantial claim to it…”

“She’s just doing it to be wicked like she does with everything else,” Jade wrinkled her nose at the memory of Susan before frowning, “Grady, she’s just pure evil and she proves it more with each passing second.”

“I already knew that when I divorced her, but instead of admitting to that fact, I let her rule my thoughts and consume my sanity. I blamed myself for what went wrong, but in reality she was always the problem,” his brow creased at the thought of his ex-wife, “She still is.”

“Not tonight she isn’t,” Jade curled her finger underneath his chin to urge him to meet her eyes again, “Tonight we’re going to forget all about Susan, Avery, Cameron or anyone else who wants to make us miserable. It’s way past our office hours and the way I see it right now is about us and having a good time. We need to stop thinking about the negative and focus on what is important.”

“And just what might that be?” Grady couldn’t help but tease sliding his arms around her slender waist and pulling her in closer to him.

“If you have to ask to figure that one out,” Jade murmured in a heated whisper, her breath skimming over his lips, “then I must be doing something wrong.”

“On the contrary you’re doing everything right,” Grady promised delving forward to her lips and tasting the very sweetness that defined Jade. Kissing her was like heaven, like all of the incredibly sinful sweets in the world rolled up into one complete, perfect package.

“I thought so,” she laughed lightly, her enthusiasm radiating over his lips, “So should we be brave tonight Mr. Denton and try perhaps a Chicago Style pizza?”

“I think we should go a step further and try this,” Grady replied pulling a small box out of his pocket and offering it to her.

“Grady?” she spoke his name with a confusion behind her eyes.

“Before you say anything, just open it,” he suggested nodding to the box he was holding out to her. She did as instructed reaching for it and pulling it out of his palm before taking in a breath.

“You really shouldn’t have…” she began again feeling a curiosity carrying over her.

“Open it first and then we’ll talk about that,” he urged her on once again only to hear her gasp in astonishment at the necklace that was within the box.

“Grady, I can’t believe that you…” Jade started fingering the golden heart charm that was in front of her.

“How about we try it on you?” he suggested pulling it out of the box and watching her hold her hair up with a nod.

“It’s beautiful,” Jade blurted out feeling the necklace press up against her skin as her eyes were fixed on him. “I love it, but I don’t understand why you would get such a lavish gift when it’s not my birthday or…”

“This is for all those Valentine’s Days in the past when I wasn’t able to be there for you, for all those times when you could’ve used me around, but I wasn’t able to be there,” Grady explained watching her long, dark hair fall down to her shoulders again. He reached out to touch her cheek gently, “This is for all those times in the past before I met you when we could’ve used one another and for those times in the future when I promise you that I will be there for you.”

“Oh Grady,” Jade mouthed feeling her eyes fill up with tears, “I don’t know what to say…”

“Don’t say anything other than that every time you look at it you’ll think of the love that we have and know without a shadow of a doubt that it will hold as a symbol of my love for you,” Grady leaned up to collect another kiss from her lips, “my undying love for you.”

“I love you so much Grady,” Jade whispered in a heartfelt whimper as Grady felt the memory fading out leaving him to the empty hallway once again.

“Jade,” Grady spoke her name before eyeing the necklace with heavy scrutiny. It was exactly like the one he had given her and…

“There you are,” Deana’s voice caught him off guard as he spun around to see his wife standing near the hotel room door. She eyed him curiously before offering up a tired smile, “Honey what are you doing?”

“I was just…” Grady stammered slipping the necklace into his pants pocket before stepping back into the hotel room. He closed the door behind him before meeting her curious brown eyes once again, “I thought I heard someone at the door, but I was mistaken.”

“Hmm, well I guess it’s just as well because right now I really don’t even want to think about sharing you with anyone else,” Deana confessed stepping in closer to him while wrapping her arms around his muscled torso. “I missed you when I woke up and saw you were gone.”

“I was hungry since cartoon watching with Zane kept us from ordering that pizza you wanted,” Grady confessed thinking to the half eaten cake in his left hand. “Want some?”

“If I have that right now I’m not going to be able to sleep the rest of the night,” Deana replied with a wrinkle of her nose thinking about how good the cake was. She watched him raise it again before she let out a small groan, “Grady, I really shouldn’t especially since we talked to Zane about eating too much cake and…”

“Of course you should,” he pressed the piece of cake to her lips, “It is our wedding night after all.”

“In that case,” she took a small bite feeling the sweetness fill her mouth and leaving her longing for more. She took another bite followed by another until she realized that there wasn’t any cake left in her husband’s hand. Her brown eyes perked up with curiosity as she looked around the room, “Do we have any more of that?”

“We sure do. My mom must’ve knew we’d needed it,” Grady replied walking over to the refrigerator before bending down and thinking about the necklace in his pocket.

“I knew there were a million and one reasons why I loved your mother,” Deana noted giving him a long once over while he discreetly set the necklace on the counter before standing up with two pieces of cake.

“She loves you too,” Grady replied moving in towards her with a wide grin, “but not nearly as much as I do.”

“Bold words Grady, but do you mean them?” she wiggled her brow suggestively watching as he peeled the plastic wrap off of a piece of cake.

“Have a bite darling,” Grady fed her some more cake before looking around the hotel room. “Tell me something, was Zane still sleeping when you left the bedroom?”

“He was out like a light. I think we wore him out today with everything,” she nodded in confession taking another bite of the cake before seeing the mischief burning behind Grady’s eyes, “Why?”

“Well the truth to the matter is that as much as I would love to get back to being in there with him, I would really like to share a little grown up time with my wife,” he whispered in a naughty tone looking around the hotel room.

“Grown up time you say,” Deana couldn’t help but smile, “That does sound like an intriguing idea.”

“I thought you might be tempted,” he glanced around the hotel room, “I’m sure that we could very easily go check out that Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.”

“I suppose we could, but will that wake him up?” Deana questioned with a worried expression thinking about her son for a moment.

“I promise I’ll be quiet and if you can do the same…” Grady paused before walking over to the refrigerator once again. He opened up the door and pulled out a couple more pieces of cake before smiling.

“What’s that for?” she questioned seeing him stock up on the cake with a sly smirk.

“Just more motivation for us to keep our volume level down,” Grady explained reaching out to her before leaning in to kiss her, “and with that thought in mind I’m all yours Mrs. Denton.”

“Hmm, I like the sound of that,” she replied feeling him kiss her as a giddiness carried over her at the idea of spending the night in the arms of her new husband.


Crystal carefully closed the front door behind her entrance hoping not to draw attention to her late arrival now that she’d come home long beyond when she’d anticipated. She closed her eyes for a moment thinking about the long day she’d put behind her. With a sigh she sank in against the door for a moment reflecting upon her night with Jason and the earlier turn of events that had lead her to her unexpected one night stand. With a sigh, she knew that she couldn’t lose herself to that memory, not when she knew that she had to regain control of her life.

“You need to push it all behind you,” she tried to coax herself while reopening her eyes and reaching into her purse. She shuffled with it for a few minutes before pulling out the oversized diamond ring that she’s taken off right before she’d made her way to the bar. While she hadn’t anticipated taking things as far as she had, she’d been hurting and longing to feel some kind of emotion that would replace the void in her heart. After a few drinks she’d given up on emotion and just hoped to seek out the comfort of someone’s arms--that someone more specifically being Jason Sherman.

“Honey, is that you?” she heard her husband’s voice call out to her just as she was finishing up with the final adjustments in getting her wedding ring back on her finger. She felt her pulse racing as she looked up to see her husband across the hall watching her with a curious expression. He blended with the shadows in the hallway until he stepped forward revealing his concerned brown eyes, “I thought I heard you come in earlier, but I was mistaken.”

“I’m sorry about,” she cleared her throat uneasily before bringing her hand through her long, dark hair. “I got caught up in reminiscing about the past with old friends.”

“Clearly,” he gave her a long once over before moving forward to take her into his arms, “I know how you’ve been longing to give yourself one last attempt at doing so.”

“I just needed tonight to settle what was happening inside of me,” she explained tipping her head up to see the expression that carried in over his features. Guilt tugged at her heart as she wondered if he had any idea of just what she’d gone to do tonight. She could feel the voices in her head reminding her that her husband could never learn about her secret--he could never see how desperation had lead her to do something so completely uncharacteristic of herself.

“I’m sure that you were able to do what was needed and get it out of your system,” he mouthed tipping down to kiss her forehead gently before stepping back. He reached for her hand giving it a small squeeze before lifting it to his lips, “How about we go to bed now? We can discuss this more in the morning considering how late it is.”

“Actually I think I’m going to run into the kitchen first and make myself some tea,” she replied hoping to give herself enough time to calm her nerves before settling in to sleep beside him.

“Whatever makes you happy,” he mouthed with a soft smile upturning over his mouth before he leaned in to kiss her once again. “I’ll be waiting for you.”

“I won’t be long. I promise,” she replied watching him turn to leave her again. Once she’d heard the sound of their bedroom door, she brought her hand up over her neck thinking about the void that had been left there when she’d dropped off her necklace. It felt empty not having it with her, but as she thought of the meaning behind the necklace, she realized that her life no longer held any place for it. It was a part of her past and after tonight she had to make peace with the fact that there would be no turning back. Not now or ever!


...to be continued...