Episode 430

“Is there anything I can do to help you?" Don moved in behind Shannon as she stood in front of the counter by the sink hunched over. She was breathing heavy, clearly still feeling the after effects from getting sick like she was. Moving forward, he placed his hand over her shoulder only to feel her knock him away forcefully. “Shannon…is there anything I can do for you? Do you want me to get you something to settle your stomach?"

“Stop acting like you care,” her voice came out in venom and she was clearly pissed at him, but he still didn’t seem to get the hint to get away from her. “After last night, it’s obvious how you really feel Don and I’m not in the mood.”

“I do care, I don’t like seeing you sick,” Don thought about getting close to her again to try and comfort her, but after the way she reacted the last time he figured it would be bad to give it a shot. Most likely he would get nowhere with the gesture when he was really just trying to be nice. “You are my wife…even if we have had our arguments, I still care about you.”

“You don’t care enough…” Shannon turned on the water and made sure to shoot him a final glare in the mirror before leaning forward again. It was clear by the expression over his face that he felt bad for this happening and if she could use it to make him feel that way, she was certainly going to try her hardest to make him continue to feel that way. “As you said…I’m your wife.”

“Come on, now is not the time to act like that,” Don felt his chest heavy as she said those words and he knew that she would be able to use what happened last night against him. That was just the type of person she was. “Anyone with half a brain could see that I care about you. I’m trying here. I don’t like seeing anyone sick.”

Moving across the bathroom, he watched Shannon throw some water in her face clearly ignoring him. This was so typical of her, but instead of pointing out the mistakes that she was doing he was going to still help her.

“Here,” Don reached under the sink after carefully motioning her to the side. Pulling out a washcloth, he ran it under the cold water before stepping closer to her. “Just try this.”

Moving closer, he dabbed the cold washcloth over her head hoping to help cool her down a little bit. She seemed to be relaxing a little, she didn’t seem to be as angry with him in this moment, but he never knew how long that would last.

“Did you eat something last night that isn’t good on your stomach?" Don tried to get her to think about what could have made her sick last night, but she just shook her head. Clearing his throat, he shrugged and took in a long breath. “Did you drink last night? Maybe have a little bit too much?"

Shannon said nothing, just pulled herself from his arms and her dark eyes glared out at him. Throwing his hands up he tried to find something more to say before sighing heavily.

“I just know what you’ve been through Shannon and you shouldn’t drink. After everything you have been through, you shouldn’t resort back to that no matter how mad you are at me,” Don tried to reason with her assuming that she was so mad at him last night that she drank and it effected her this way. “It’s okay though because we can talk through this and…”

A sharp pain filled his upper shoulder as he felt all the force of the power she took in hitting him near his collar bone. Stepping back, he moved away knowing that if he didn’t she would probably hit him again seeing the anger behind her eyes.

“I didn’t drink last night you ass,” she shoved into him and knocked him to the side so she could get out of the bathroom. The sounds of him following her could be heard as she moved toward the kitchen and she stopped half way there. “You should really know a situation before you judge because you remind me all over again how much I hate you right now.”

“You have no reason to hate me,” Don huffed hating to hear something like this over and over again. All he wanted to do was be himself and be loved by the person that was supposed to love him through all the faults that he may have had. “I was just worried about you…where is the fault in that.”

“Bringing up my drinking habits,” she pointed out with a scowl so big that he could tell that she wasn’t going to give up on him and the way she was acting. “There was no sense in doing that.”

“Well you don’t have a fever, so I didn’t think you were sick,” Don pointed out with a heavy sigh trying to give his side of the story even though he pretty much figured it didn’t matter to begin with even though he was trying. “I was just trying to find a way to help you out, that’s why I was asking those questions.”

“Well forget about it because I don’t want your help…at all…,” she stomped off into the kitchen letting out a final huff of anger making Don let out a long shallow breath. “I’m sick of your judgment.”

“I’m not trying to judge you,” Don moved into the kitchen and he saw her pushing through the fridge to try and find something to settle her stomach after everything that happened. “I’m trying to help you and I’m sorry I said something you didn’t like. I just didn’t know, alright?"

“You should have known better to begin with,” she shot him a final glare before slamming the door to the fridge closed. Moving over toward where the two counters met, she placed her hands on both parts and leaned forward feeling another sharp pain in her stomach. “You don’t say that to someone unless you know perfectly.”

“And I said I was sorry,” Don reached inside of the fridge trying to find something to help her settle her stomach since he still felt bad for making the comment. Also he hated to see anyone sick which was something she was clearly missing. “At least I had the guts to apologize.”

“What is that supposed to mean?" Shannon felt Don behind her and she turned to see him holding a glass out to her. Instead of taking it she shoved her hand into the center of it watching it spill over onto his chest soaking his shirt. The white liquid started to drink down his shirt and down over his pants showing that it was milk that she had dumped over him. “I told you I didn’t want your help.”

“It was supposed to help you,” Don muttered with a shudder as he felt the cool milk soaking through his clothes and running down his skin. He could feel the stickiness of the liquid already as he let out a tight groan. “I can’t believe this…I just can’t. What is wrong with you Shannon? I’m trying here? Why isn’t that good enough for you? Why is that never good enough for you?!”

Tossing his hands up, he hated to get angry at her now after knowing she was sick, but he couldn’t believe she just did that to him and now that he was covered in the full glass of milk he wanted to know what her problem was. And he wanted to know what it was now.


Grady tapped on the door to the bathroom pausing for a moment before looking to Zane again. He held up his finger and smiled over at Zane apologetically before knocking again in the hopes of getting Deana’s attention once again.

“Um Deana we have a situation out here,” Grady knocked again as Zane let out an emphatic groan.

“She takes forever when she is getting her makeup on,” Zane explained with a groan crossing his legs before jumping up and down with a huff. “I just need to use the bathroom.”

“Give me one more second,” Grady offered up again before knocking once again.

He waited for a second only to hear Deana stop the hair dryer that she was running inside the bathroom. She opened up the door and saw Grady opening his mouth to speak up, but before he could say anything Zane pushed his way past her rushing into the bathroom in a hurry.

“I think he needs a minute,” Grady explained pulling Deana out of the bathroom and closing the door behind her. Once they were in the seating area of their hotel room, he couldn’t help but laugh, “I don’t think he meant to plow you down, but when he has to go…”

“He has to go,” she replied with a knowing smirk thinking about how impatient her son was when something was important to him. Turning to the bathroom door again she couldn’t help but shake her head, “Though you should’ve told me sooner that he was wanting to get in there.”

“I was trying to do that for the last ten minutes,” he explained with a tiny laugh of his own. Stepping forward he pulled her into his arms and drew her in for a quick kiss, “I guess you were just too absorbed in singing in there to hear anything else.”

“You heard that?” she questioned her brown eyes growing wide with mortification at the thought of him hearing her tone deaf rendition of a Shania Twain song.

He nodded with a tiny laugh, “Every single second of it even if you were trying to mute it with the hair drier.”

“Well you weren’t supposed to hear it,” she pointed out curling her lip in a pout before turning to him again, “You weren’t supposed to be spying on me like that.”

“I wasn’t spying on you,” he corrected with a small laugh, “Far from it considering that Zane was the one who really wanted to get in there.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t answer sooner,” Deana offered up with a soft sigh, “I just wanted to get ready for our day together considering that…”

There was a knock on the hotel room door. Before Deana could give a second thought to it the door opened and Jason walked in much to her surprise and dismay. She stepped away from Grady and eyed her brother intently.

“Good morning everyone,” he waved his hand at the both of them before offering up a bright grin.

“Jason, how did you get in here?” she couldn’t help but ask with a small frown.

“I used Grady’s card key that I swiped when I was here last night,” Jason explained matter of fact walking forward and handing the key card to Grady again, “Thanks for being here last night.”

“No problem, but next time you’re going to take the key, just ask first,” Grady gave Jason a suspicious look before accepting the card key.

“I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have taken it, but I figured that I would steal Zane this morning before you two were roaming about. I have big plans for the two of us while you two are enjoying your honeymoon so to speak,” Jason explained with a bright grin.

“What kind of plans?” Deana couldn’t help but ask noticing a certain sparkle behind her brother’s blue eyes.

“Ones that I’m sure will keep him busy for most of the day,” Jason divulged brightly before holding up a paper in his hand, “I was thinking about checking out the scuba diving classes because I think Zane will get a real kick out of them.”

“Scuba diving?” Deana repeated with wide eyes. She shook her head furiously, “No way. There is no chance in hell that you are taking my son scuba diving Jason. It’s too dangerous and…”

“Zane knows how to swim,” Jason pointed out to her curling his lip in a pout, “You should know because you were bragging the other day that he was one of the best swimmers in his class.”

“In a group of four to six year olds Jason,” she mouthed with a soft scowl, “There is no way he’s ready to take on scuba diving just because you think it sounds like some kind of rush. I’m not going to let you put my son at risk just to fix some kind of cheap thrill that you’re interested in trying out.”

“It’s not like that,” Jason paused turning to Grady for support, “Tell her that everything will be okay.”

“Hey, she’s the mom, I’m just the husband,” Grady raised his hands in the air taking a step back to let the two talk it out.

“Oh come on. Deana trust me he’ll be fine. We’re just going to have some fun. Don’t you want Zane to be able to go home and say that this was the best vacation of his life? That he had a lot of fun and…” Jason continued to plead with her.

“Scuba diving is not my idea of a good time for my child. He’s not ready for that and you of all people should know that considering that scuba diving is really serious stuff,” she continued to rant as Jason held up the paper he’d been holding.

“There is a certified instructor and everything,” Jason continued to plead his case with her.

“Let me see that,” Grady reached for the paper and took a long, hard look at it. He read it over before turning to Deana and handing it to her. He glanced over at Jason again, “Um Jason, this is for snorkeling lessons, not scuba diving.”

“I know that,” Jason huffed as Deana eyed him wearily.

“Then why are you asking about scuba diving if this isn’t even a scuba diving class?” she questioned confused by her brother’s presentation. “I thought you said you wanted to take him scuba diving.”

“I know what I said,” Jason reached for the paper once again, “Just like I knew you wouldn’t ever agree to scuba diving, which is why I asked.”

“Excuse me,” she blinked back at him.

“I figured if I asked for something that was completely out of the question, then you would compromise on something not quite as intense. I already spoke with the manager of the hotel and he’s informed me that there are classes for beginners of all ages, which would be what I would be taking Zane to with me today. He would have me beside him all day and if he needed anything I would be right there for him.”

“I don’t know Jason. I’m not really sure he should be roaming around in the water like this when he’s not used to anything beyond the pool,” she paused contemplating her brother’s suggestion.

“Deana, I’ve seen him swim. He’s really got a knack for it and if there is any sign of trouble, then I promise you that I will gladly pull him out of the water and take him to the arcade instead. Please?”

“Jason I just don’t know,” Deana began again with a hint of a frown.

“It doesn’t sound so bad,” Grady stepped in behind her placing his hands on her shoulders. “I mean I trust Jason and if you’re really worried we can always check in on them. I was planning on us going around the island and checking out the beaches as well today, so why not let them try it? If you’d like we can go there and just watch them for a while.”

“I just don’t know if he’s ready for that Grady. He’s only been in swimming classes for a year and,” Deana started again worry creasing over her brow.

“Please mom. It’ll be totally cool,” Zane beamed with enthusiasm as he rushed out of the bathroom. “It would be the bestest thing ever if you let us do that. It would be too cool.”

“Zane, honey I just don’t think it’s a good idea because…” Deana began turning to face her son, who was now bouncing up and down with the desire to go off with his uncle.

“Mom, I am the second best swimmer in my class next to Matt. I got a star the other day for being the fastest and I know that I can do this. I would love to go with Jason. I saw the Scuba Squad on TV and they are so cool. I want to go! Puh-lease,” he reached out to tug at her leg before hugging it tightly.

“Yeah mom please,” Jason mocked Zane’s tone before flashing her a bright, white smile.

“If anything happens to him, then you’re a dead man,” Deana warned wiggling her finger at him before seeing Zane step aside and head towards the bedroom.

“I’m going to get my gear!” Zane squealed excitedly disappearing into his room area.

“Gear?” Deana turned to her brother again, “Did you buy him things for this already?”

“Well what can I say? We saw some people doing it the other day and it looked fun,” Jason stepped in closer to her before lowering his voice a bit, “though he thinks we’re scuba diving because that sounds a lot cooler than snorkeling. Don’t ruin the fun for him.”

“I swear sometimes I want to choke the life out of you,” she shot back at him with a small glare.

“Oh you love me and besides it gives you two some alone time together,” Jason quipped with a tiny chuckle as Zane returned with a few things for his snorkeling adventure. Jason bent down and picked Zane up in his arms with a quick sweep before turning to Grady and Deana again, “We’ll see you later.”

“Yeah later mom,” Zane waved at her before looking to Jason, “Let’s go!”

“What? No kiss?” Deana stepped forward reaching out to kiss her son on the cheek before playing with his blonde hair. “You be careful out there Zane and listen to your Uncle Jason.”

“I will mom,” Zane promised turning to Jason again, “Let’s go.”

“Right this way to adventure kiddo,” Jason promised making a few humming noises before Zane looked over Jason’s shoulder waving excitedly.

“Bye mom. Bye Grady,” Zane waved wildly as the two disappeared from the hotel room.

After they were gone, Deana turned to Grady with a small frown, “I feel like I was totally manipulated there.”

“In this particular instance I think you were, but Zane is in good hands with Jason. We both know that,” Grady reached out to pull her into his arms hoping to offer up his reassurances. “He won’t let anything happen to him.”

“I want to believe that, but I’m not used to letting go,” Deana confessed meeting his eyes again, “I just hate the idea of leaving him out on his own while we’re here…”

“It’s okay. He’s not alone. He has Jason and as I said if you want to check on him, we can leave whenever you’re ready. I don’t mind spending the day watching him with his new adventure. Heck, if you want to sign up for the class we can do it too,” Grady suggested sensing her overwhelming concerns.

“No, I’m not too fond of the water when it isn’t controllable,” she admitted with a tiny shudder, “Don’t get me wrong I do okay in pools and the such, but I’ve never liked the ocean or even lakes for that matter. When I was about five I went swimming with some friends and almost drowned. I got pulled down by the under tow and ever since then I have not been a fan of the open water.”

“Which is why you’re worried about this,” Grady noted watching her nod.

“And it’s also why I put Zane into swimming classes so that he could do what I couldn’t, but even the best of swimmers can’t always be safe,” she explained with a nervous laugh, “I sound ridiculous, don’t I?”

“Worrying about your son could never be ridiculous. In fact, why don’t you finish getting dressed and we’ll go down there? I know how to swim so if anything happens I can go in after him. We’ll just chalk it up as we’re hanging out on the beach that way we’re at a safe enough distance to be close to him, yet we’ll be far enough away that Jason won’t think we’re spying on him or doubting his ability to keep an eye on Zane.”

“Okay,” she nodded reaching out to squeeze his hand in hers, “and Grady?”

“Yes?” he turned to face her again catching the smile that spread over her features.

“Thank you for doing this. I’m sure it wasn’t exactly in your plans for today, but…” she began apologetically only to feel him press a finger to her lips to silence her.

“There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you or Zane, so don’t worry about it,” he assured her moving in to offer up a small kiss. “Now get dressed.”

“Okay,” she nodded in response feeling relieved that they were going to be able to enjoy their day together while being able to keep an eye on Zane as well. It just made things feel a bit more comfortable to her in knowing that Grady cared enough to help her put her own worries to rest. Giving him one last look she couldn’t help but smile while thanking her lucky stars that she’d married one of the best husbands around.


“I can’t even begin to imagine how nervous my father is today,” Avery admitted looking in the mirror in front of her only to discover Russ and Erin standing behind her in the other room. She looked over her shoulder to where Russ had Erin seated in his lap on a blanket in the center of the room while they played with her toys. “I mean he’s waited so very long for this day that I’m sure he has to be thinking that this really can’t be happening.”

“I’m guessing he’s pretty much on top of the world,” Russ glanced up at her watching as Avery continued to put on her makeup. He smiled briefly before turning his attention to Erin. He reached for one of her toys and made a buzzing sound, watching as she clapped her hands together encouraging him to continue what he was doing. He heard her laughter send a warmth through him before he turned to Avery again, “He seemed pretty excited when we talked to him before.”

“I know, but he’s probably waiting for the other shoe to drop,” she stopped what she was doing setting her mascara wand down before turning to face Russ and Erin. “With everything that my mother has pulled I’m sure he was waiting for something else to come up.”

“Even if Brooke tried to sabotage him, she can’t,” Russ pointed out seeing the worried expression on Avery’s face. He motioned for her to join him and Erin on the floor before he reached for another one of Erin’s toys. “The fact to the matter is that you know as well as I do that the divorce was finalized whether she liked it or not.”

“I know, but even so. When you told me that she had worked out that deal with the FBI,” she frowned moving in to sit on a patch of the blanket beside Russ, “well it just got me thinking about everything else that she might try to pull on him. She already stole so many years of his life already with her manipulations that I really don’t want to see her try to destroy this either. She ruined his life for so long and I just don‘t want to see her hurt him again.”

“Avery, you know while I’m not a big fan of your mother’s, I don’t think that everything she and your father had together was wrong,” Russ couldn’t help but point out to her seeing the way that anger flooded over her features. “I mean if you think about it, your father did have a few good things come out of that relationship.”

“Such as?” Avery arched a curious brow seeing Erin moving to put the toy she was playing with into her mouth. Avery reached for it attempting to keep Erin from eating the toy, but Erin let out a loud squeal of protest. “Okay, honey, you can play with it, but let’s try this in your mouth.”

“Well for starters,” Russ reached for the pacifier that Erin had and offered it to Avery, who in turn offered it to Erin. Erin readily accepted before wiggling her toy around in the air frantically, “they had you and Guy and while your mom might not always have been pleasant, the fact to the matter is that your father wouldn’t trade either one of you for anything in the world.”

“Yes, but even with me,” Avery paused an unsettling feeling carrying over her in the pit of her stomach, “well I mean you know what Cameron said and if my mother lied to get my father to marry her, then maybe she lied about him being my father as well and…”

“Avery, I thought we already went over this one. I’m sure that Richard is your father and not Cameron’s father,” Russ stated plainly seeing the doubt behind her eyes, “Your father told you that himself.”

“Yes, but he had no idea what Brooke was capable of and there really is no denying that Angela looks just like me. You thought she was me on the island and,” she continued to ramble on catching the disapproving look behind his green eyes, “before you tell me that my worries are unwarranted think about it. Brooke was desperate to get him to marry her. He was in love with Judy and I was the only reason that they wound up together in the first place.”

“Even so Avery I don’t think that Cameron is telling the truth. He isn’t known for his honesty and I really don’t believe this is the one time that he’s going to break his own cycle,” Russ explained as Erin tossed one of her toys across the blanket. He reached for it handing it to her once again before Erin let out a squeal. “Trust me on this one.”

“All I know is that today is one of the best days of his life and I don’t want to see Brooke find a way to ruin it. He deserves better than all of her drama,” Avery explained with a frustrated sigh bringing her hands up over her face, “Even now when I think of everything she’s done…”

“Maybe it’s time you stop thinking about what a witch your mother is and start focusing on how great today is going to be for your father. He’s happier than he’s been in a long time and that’s what is really important,” Russ explained pulling Erin up off of the floor and into his arms more completely. He turned Erin towards Avery and nudged Erin’s tiny cheek, “Tell mommy that everything will be okay Erin.”

Erin made a small sound as Avery looked over at her daughter, seeing Erin’s big, green eyes focused on her. Erin held her toy out towards Avery before making another sound.

“You can keep your toy honey,” Avery saw Erin stretch her arm out further offering up the toy again, “I’m okay. Really I am.”

“She wants a hug,” Russ explained curling his arm out around Avery and pulling her in closer to him. He offered up a small squeeze before Erin began smacking her lips together and reaching for Avery.

“I love you too baby,” Avery reached for Erin pulling Erin into her lap before setting in beside Russ, “You and your daddy are everything to me.”

“Just like you’re everything to your father too sweetheart,” Russ ran his finger over her hair pushing it from her face before leaning in to kiss both Avery and Erin’s foreheads gently. “You can’t let your mother’s chaos ruin all the years of joy you’ve had with your father.”

“I know that, but…” Avery paused tipping her head up to meet Russell’s worried green eyes, “Here I go again rambling on and on about my problems when you’re the one who knows for sure that things are different. You know about your father and…”

“And for a while I let it destroy me,” Russ explained thinking of his own situation, “I let the thought of what my mother had done eat away inside and create this rage--this animosity that was only going to hurt me and those I loved. When it gets down to it as much as I hate the fact that Nicholas is my father I was raised by Elliot Denton. From the moment I came into this world he has been the man who has taken care of me, the man that has helped me become the person that I am today. Sure, I could hate my mother and be horrible to her like I felt like doing a few times in the past, but in the same breath I can’t wish away what happened because if I did, then I would be wishing away all of this. If they hadn’t fallen into whatever it was that happened between them, then I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have this. I wouldn’t have you and Erin and that would be the worst thing possible.”

Avery met his eyes seeing the thoughtful expression on his face as he touched her cheek gently. He spoke up again in a soft, soothing tone, “Regardless of what Brooke has done Avery, the fact to the matter is that not even she can steal your happiness or your father’s for that matter unless you invite her in to do so.”

“You say that like you really believe it,” Avery whispered in response catching the expression behind his eyes.

“Hey, I went from beyond the grave to return to you against the odds,” Russ reminded her thinking about all that had kept them apart over the last year. “After that anything seems like it’s possible for us, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yeah, I think I would,” Avery nodded in confession turning her attention to a bubbly Erin, who was now clapping her hands together and smacking her lips excitedly. Avery reached out to touch her daughter‘s tiny head and she felt a soft, dark curl beneath her fingers. “I think we have everything we could’ve asked for these days.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Russ squeezed her closer to him, “and I’m positive that after today your father is going to feel the same way now that he’s able to share his life with his children and the woman he loves.”

“I just want him and Judy to be happy. That’s all I could ever wish for my father,” Avery confessed leaning in against Russell’s chest as she watched Erin.

“He’ll have that. I’m sure of it,” Russ promised kissing the top of her head again while he enjoyed the few moments of quiet with his wife and daughter. He smiled to himself knowing full well that life didn’t get any better than it was in this very moment they were sharing with one another.


Turning over onto her side, Mindy could hear the sound of a few pots knocking over in the other room making her awake from her heavy sleep. Stretching out, she brought the blankets in closer to her body with the thoughts of what happened pressing through her thoughts. A smile pressed in over her lips as she heard Nate’s voice in the other room.

Sitting up slowly, she pressed her hand in over the bed to feel that the sheets were cold hinting that he had been up a while, but she could hear that he was still there. What happened last night was so…unexpected, but surprisingly nice.

“I’ve got this Rusty,” she could hear his voice from the other room and she pulled herself out of the bed moving over to put some of her clothes on quickly.

Moving out into the living room after quietly opening the bedroom door, she leaned against the wall for a moment watching Nate while he got a few things ready. He was wearing his pants that he had become a mess as of last night.

“Here you go little guy,” Nate set down a bowl of food for Rusty who was sitting on top of the counter next to Nate. Rusty quickly moved for the food and Nate pet him once before moving back to what he was doing earlier. Which seemed to be cooking.

She stood there for a moment longer watching him, admiring the way he was and the way he acted. There wasn’t a bad bone in his body and she knew that. He was an amazing guy and the more she stood there watching him, the more she became in awe of him.

“I think you have become Rusty’s official favorite person while his family is away,” Mindy teased causing Nate to turn and look over his shoulder at her with a wide smile. He simply shrugged before moving to pet the small cat that was beside him, still eating. Moving toward the kitchen, she could see that Nate was just finishing up with everything. “Pampering to his every need…and others.”

“Well he’s a sweet little guy,” Nate winked feeling the heat of her body pressing in closer to his and he let out a heavy breath when he felt her arms pressing in over his torso. “Kind of like the woman that is kitty-sitting for him.”

“Aw, you are so great with words,” she giggled in a teasing manner as he pulled her in closer to him and gave her a tight hug. She rest her head against his bare chest for a moment as he sighed heavily. “So what are you doing up?"

“Well isn’t it obvious by the intoxicating smell that I’m cooking you an amazing breakfast?" Nate’s head tilted to the side as she stared up at him when he flashed her a bright smile. After a moment, an unsure smirk pressed in over his face as moved his hands away from her to rub over the back of his neck. “Well at least I hope it’s close to amazing, I thought for the moment it was right to make us breakfast. Nothing too fancy, just what I found around the house.”

“Yeah, I probably need to go shopping soon…,” she informed him looking to the table to see he had eggs, bacon and waffles set out for them on the table. Laughing, she heard him grabbing a few things out of the fridge and she sighed. “See, this is better than anything I could have made. The waffles would have turned out solid as a rock, so the ultimate gourmet breakfast for me is a bowl of cereal hoping that the milk isn’t sour.”

“Don’t like your milk with a side of chunks?" he teased reaching out to poke her in the side playfully making her let out a small yelp. He felt her try to do the same to him as a smile pressed in over his lips. “So I guess I’m pampering you with this breakfast because I’m not trying to sound cocky, but I do make a fine waffle. They are warm, delicious…well, I think you can put your mind to the rest.”

“Are we talking about the waffles or are we talking about you?" she teased reaching out to press her hands in over his warm body resting them at his hips. A laugh pressed in over her lips as she tipped up to kiss him, pressing her fingers through his long hair. “Or was that part of the idea of breakfast? To remind me all over again how perfect you are.”

“I guess suggesting some strawberries and whipped crème would make this awkward…huh?" his eyebrow arched up as a smirk pressed in over her lips and she tipped up to kiss him again. Letting her lips linger in over his she felt his hands slide in over her bottom giving it a gentle squeeze. “You know, I like the idea of whipped crème and us…I just think maybe we should focus on the breakfast--for a bit. Then…anything I’m up for.”

“If you suggest…,” she teased circling her finger around the center of his chest hearing him sigh as she moved toward the table. “You better have one hell of a breakfast Mr. Pryce.”

“I get compliments all the time,” Nate moved across the table from her pouring the orange juice before taking a seat. Hanging over the plate, he let out a small laugh and shrugged. “And trust me…if it was awful, Matt would let me know. He has a very open mind and will tell you how it is. So trust me on this one…it’s good.”

“Well if Matt insists,” she smiled again loving the fact that he was so great with Don’s son. That alone made her more attracted to him as he smiled at her again. There was something about the way that he smiled--it sent a warm vibe right to the center of her heart as she sighed. “I doubt he would be wrong.”

“If he was, you don’t tell him that,” he winked thinking about his brother-in-law’s son. Watching her take a bite of the food, he waited for her response watching her blue eyes carefully. “So what do you think?”

“I think I’m keeping you, I’ll hire you to cook around here,” she took another bite of the waffle watching him wink before taking a bite of his own. “This was all so nice waking up to, I’m not used to people doing this kind of thing for me.”

“You should, you’re worth it,” he winked at her hearing Rusty jump off the counter to go play with the toy that he had brought in earlier for the cat. “I know this might be the wrong time and it might freak you out, but I have a question.”

“Shoot,” she set her fork down to give her full attention to him as he pushed his hair back behind his ear. He leaned in closer to her and she reached out to press her hand in over his.

“You see this weekend I was supposed to go with Shannon to this stupid family reunion that my family has every year. If you know anything about Shannon, you would know that she’s not the type that likes that kind of thing,” Nate realized he was getting off topic as she smirked and nodded. “I was wondering if you would come with me to Chicago. To meet my family and to spend some time out there with me. Please?"

“Really?" Mindy found it hard to believe that he was already this open with sharing that kind of thing with her and she smiled widely when he nodded. By the look in his eyes she could tell that he was honestly sincere about it and she nodded slowly. “Yes, I will.”

“Really?" Nate laughed again watching her nod kind of shocked with her answer since he assumed she might have been a little worried about the question. Pressing his hair back again, he could feel a heavy weight move off his chest and he nodded slowly. “I’ll make it worth while, I promise.”


“You probably shouldn’t be straining yourself to do something like Kev-O,” Steve’s voice seemed to come off in a mocking tone as Kevin tried to stand up from the wheelchair. Steve folded his arms out in front of his chest and shrugged his shoulders. “In case you haven’t noticed, your leg is nowhere near from healing. Rip the stitches and you will be injured longer than expected. Then I will have to stick around longer to help make sure you are okay.”

“This is bullshit,” Kevin announced feeling Angela place her hand hands firmly more over his shoulders so he would stay in place and he felt every muscle in his body tensing. “You can’t just stand here and do those things in front of me. Ria is my fiancée and I don’t have to put up with that kind of stuff.”

“Put up with what Kevin? Steve is being innocent here,” Ria mentioned and the smug smirk over Steve’s face at her answer only made Kevin want to beat the hell out of him more. “You are being a real jerk toward him and you need to re-think everything you are saying.”

“Re-think everything I am saying? The guy is an asshole, there isn’t much to say other than that,” Kevin blurted out and he could tell that Ria wasn’t happy with him, but anyone with half a brain could see that Steve was trying to mock him. “He was perfectly fine where he was, but then he runs into you when you are with me in the hospital and he magically shows up? Decides to drop on by? This is ridiculous.”

“It was actually really nice seeing her again and I didn’t want it to end so quickly,” Steve explained in a simple tone knowing that everything he would say would get Kevin angry and he found himself rather amused. “We had a really good time together in the past…there is no difference between now and then. I figured we could have a good time again because…”

“No difference?" Kevin let out an exaggerated laugh because he could tell this guy from Ria’s past was clearly saying all the right things to try and piss him off. Steve could clearly tell that it was working and it would only make Ria more angry. “Do you realize that he is saying things to make me mad, Ria?"

“Kevin you just need to calm down,” Angela tried to mutter to her best friend and she leaned down so he could only hear her when she whispered in his ear. Her hands squeezed over his shoulders trying to calm him down. “He’s not worth it. Just ignore him.”

“I can’t ignore him,” Kevin muttered out loud as Angela gave him a glance and he threw his hands up in the air. “No one finds it wrong that this guy is purposely trying to piss me the hell off?"

“Weird that you won’t at least listen to her,” Ria blurt out catching the glare that Kevin gave her as she shrugged her shoulders. “You usually always listen to her when it gets down to things so clearly you are just out to be an asshole today.”

“What are you saying?" Kevin turned his attention to her completely not believing that she could be this oblivious to what her ex was clearly trying to do with them. “There is no reason to act like that toward Angie, she did nothing to you--she is just trying to help because I am clearly upset. Something you should be doing yourself…”

“You know Steve…” Angela noticed the expression over Kevin’s face knowing that he wasn’t happy at all with the way things were turning out. She moved away from him and pressed her hand in over Steve’s shoulder trying to give him the hint to leave. “You and I should go have a talk of our own. Give Ria and Kevin some space…”

“No, I’m rather okay…,” Steve smirked looking to Angela who gave him an angered glance with her dark brown eyes and he shrugged his shoulders. “I think I’m rather fine right here.”

“You know what, I would actually appreciate some alone time with Ria,” Kevin informed Steve looking over at him and he went to move his chair, but he felt Ria press her hands in over it heavily to keep him there. “Considering you aren’t really welcome here to begin with.”

“I’m the one that invited him in,” Ria informed him as Ria looked back at him over his shoulder and arched his eyebrow up. Clearly everything about Steve being here was making him angry and jealous, but she had no reason as to why he should be.

“Then maybe I should get Brant and find him so I can get him kicked out,” Kevin turned his chair enough to face his fiancée and he gave her a serious expression. “Because I’m pretty sure that he will be feeling the same thing I am and Steve will be thrown out.”

“It’s alright Ria, I don’t mind giving that ‘alone time’ that you and Kevin need,” Steve simply shrugged his shoulders as he caught the expression that both Kevin and Angela gave him, but his smile just seemed to expand a bit more. “She wants to talk to me, we can go have a chat. Enjoy you’re alone time.”

“Really?" Kevin blurted out throwing his hands up in the air as Angela gave him a sorry expression when she motioned Steve over toward the kitchen.

“We’ll be right back,” Angela informed them folding her arms out in front of her chest hoping that she could give Steve some kind of sense to leave them be, but she hoped things would be okay between Kevin and Ria.

“Why are you being so mean?" Ria waited for both of them to leave and Kevin gave her an awkward expression. “He saved your life you know, if it wasn’t for him you would probably be dead.”

“Gee, I almost died?" Kevin said sarcastically throwing his hands up in the air. His voice came out tense and he stared up at her intensely letting out a heavy breath.. “You really could have fooled me by the way you are acting. You think for someone who almost lost the so called love of their life, you would be more caring. I wake up feeling like total shit and where are you?"

“This is all toying up to be the fact that you are jealous Kevin,” Ria folded her arms in front of her chest angrily, her jaw clenching a bit in being upset with the way he was acting around her. The attitude he had wasn’t pleasing her at all and she was happy to see Steve around, but now all of the possible emotions she may have had were long out the door because Kevin stole them from her. “You know he is my friend and it’s nice to actually have those, but because of your jealousy, I’m pretty clear that isn’t going to work anymore.”

“Jealousy? This is all happening because of jealousy?" Kevin repeated the words with a sense of venom behind them and he let out a long strained breath. Kevin backed the chair up with the strength in his arms and he strained a bit feeling a heavy ache over him. Clearly his body didn’t like the way it felt being this angry and it was letting him know that. “This is all more than just jealousy because clearly there is something further with this, so why don’t you let me know why you are acting this oblivious to everything? Are you clearly that blinded by this guy or are you pissed at me about something? Because after the events that have already happened this morning, I’m going to have to go with angered. I know you’re not that blind. So let me know what’s going on with you and hopefully we can get over this.”


Moving into the bedroom, Don reached for his drawer pulling out another shirt feeling the rest of the milk running down his body and soaking his clothes. Pulling the shirt off, he tossed it to the side and let out a tight groan feeling the stickiness of the milk over him.

“You get mad at me because I’m not being a good husband, but when I try to help you damn it…you take it out on me and I’m sick of it,” Don heard Shannon step into the room and he reached for another pair of pants. “Why can’t you just accept that I’m a human being? I’m not always going to make you happy, but I’m trying damn it. Then again, you don’t understand the meaning of that.”

“This doesn’t stem from the me,” Shannon responded watching Don walk into the bathroom. Following him not far behind, she could still feel her stomach sour, but she didn’t care. She stood in the doorway silent for a moment as he wiped his body off with the towel that was hanging over the side of the shower. “What you said was inappropriate Don.”

“So you throw a glass of milk over me?" Don threw his hands up in the air, throwing the towel angrily to the corner of the room before taking in a deep breath. “I try to make up for my so called mistakes that I made to bother you and be nice, but you can never accept me. You want me to change, I do something to change, but then you want things another way. I’m confused what it will take to make you happy Shannon. I’m starting to think it’s nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“You don’t know me at all,” Shannon responded back watching Don pull on his jeans that he had just grabbed and he let out a hesitant laugh. “You don’t.”

“You won’t let me know you because for some reason you are so afraid to open up to anyone,” Don snapped at her giving her a glare as he clasped onto her stomach a bit harder. “I’m your husband and you won’t tell me a damn thing. All you can do is yell at me for what I’m doing or for what I’m not doing. I’m rather sick of it and I’m disgusted with how you are. So you know what? I’m done trying.”

“So it’s going to be just like that?" Shannon watched Don nod and he pulled his shirt down over his stomach tugging it firmly over his body.

“Just like that,” he answered her question moving around her and she grabbed a hold of him stopping him from leaving the room. “Listen, there is no point in trying to talk things out because you are never going to accept anything that has to do with me. I try to be myself, it’s wrong. I try to do something for you, it’s wrong. So instead of trying to be something I will never know, I’m just going to stop all together. This isn’t worth it.”

“You can’t say that,” she felt her stomach turning again and she fought the urge to vomit once more. “You know, you act like it’s all my fault that it’s happening Don.”

“Because all you see is what you feel. If I say something, I’m the victim begging for attention. If I say something to piss you off, I’m an asshole. There is never my side of anything, there is always your side and your side consists of tearing me apart,” Don stated angrily, his blue eyes narrowed out at her and he let out a tight breath. “I can’t make you happy. I try and I try. You are my priority. You are one of them, but when all you do is fight with me and constantly tell me how wrong I am…I begin to realize nothing is ever going to be good enough. You are a miserable person and I just think you long to be miserable.”

“Oh, screw off Don,” she waved away from him as she moved back toward the bathroom and he followed her close behind. “You really are a jerk.”

“Why? Because I’m speaking my mind? Oh, right…no one can say that your opinion isn’t right. Your opinions are fact Shannon. How you feel, that’s right, but if someone tries to correct you or state how they feel--they better watch out. Who knows what you will do to them,” Don threw his hands up in the air, his eyebrows tensing together. “It’s sad that you are so pissed off at everything in the world that you take it out on the person who has cared the most about you. You take it out on the person that’s willing to care. The person that’s trying to help. Well you know what…eventually people get sick of it. There is a breaking point for everyone which is something you don’t seem to understand.”

“I’m going to strangle you if you keep talking this way toward me,” she hissed at him as his eyes narrowed at her and his breathing was getting heavier by the moment. “You’re showing your colors Don. You act better than everyone else and you are no where near me.”

“See, I’m not the one that constantly has to compare myself to everyone Shannon. That would be you,” he pointed out watching her face tighten together in anger and he shrugged his shoulders. “You can love somebody and heaven forbid, I love you, but someone can only take a point of this. I’m reaching the point where I’m about to break and when I break sweetheart, it’s not going to be the same again.”

“Are you threatening me?" Shannon scowled at him and he tilted his head to the side.

“If I said no, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t believe me anyways because you like to make up drama in your head. Tell everyone how bad you got it when you have it better than most of the population,” he mocked her going to leave the bathroom before turning to her again. He went to say something else until he saw her cover her mouth and run over toward the toilet. The sound of her getting sick was soon heard again making him sigh. “Great.”

His heart was still pounding in his chest, but he knew that he was better than the type of person who would just walk away at this moment. Moving forward, he kneeled down and pressed his hand in over the back of her shoulders.

“Do you have any idea why you could be getting sick?" Don watched Shannon shake her head and he sighed heavily. “I guess I will go to the store to get some medicine to settle your stomach. Just, don’t overwork yourself. I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

“Alright,” she nodded feeling him rubbing in over her back making her sigh before he left the room and heard the front door close. Rubbing her fingertips over her forehead, she tried to focus on why she was feeling this way knowing that she didn’t do anything crazy yesterday. “Great.”

Pondering the thought, she thought of all the reasons why someone would be getting sick like this. Then it hit her.

“Oh no,” she muttered to herself standing up from the ground moving over toward the side of the bed where she kept a small calendar book in the nightstand. Looking over the dates, she bit down on her bottom lip and thought of an answer. “Pregnant?"

It had been a while since she had her last period and now that she found herself getting sick--Shannon thought of the one thing that she never wanted to imagine in her life thinking she might be. And that was pregnant!


“This was a good idea,” Deana confessed as she and Grady entered the restaurant bar that was just beyond the area of the beach where Jason and Zane were with one another enjoying their snorkeling lesson. She reached for her husband’s hand and offered up a small squeeze before pulling him in closer to her, “Thank you for doing this for me.”

“I did it for us. I’m concerned about Zane too since he is my step-son,” Grady mouthed in response wrapping his arms around Deana’s slender waist as he pulled her in closer to him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him in closer to her, a smile touching over her lips.

“I love that about you. I love how you care about Zane and I,” she whispered tipping up on her toes to steal a kiss from him.

“Why wouldn’t I considering that you’re my family now?” Grady questioned pulling her up into his chest. His lips grazed over hers before he squeezed her in closer to him. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she replied sliding her fingers through his thick, dark hair. “How could I not?”

“Honestly, you never had a choice. We were meant to be together from the start,” he murmured against her lips before turning his attention to the place that surrounded them. He saw a few people out on the dance floor and various couples scattered over at tables around the place. “How about some lunch?”

“I think I could handle that,” Deana nodded in response flashing him a bright smile as he set her down on the floor again.

“Newlyweds right?” a woman questioned approaching the two of them with a bright grin. “I can always spot them at least ten miles away.”

“Are we that obvious?” Grady laughed lightly interlacing his fingers with Deana’s.

“I just have a good eye for it,” the woman held her hand out to him, “I’m Martha. I own this place. What can I do for you two today?”

“We heard this was the place to be on the island so we thought we’d check it out,” Deana replied thinking of the hotel’s recommendations for them. “What’s the best thing you have?”

“The atmosphere,” Martha shrugged her shoulder before motioning to the dance floor, “I think that the music is calling your names out there.”

“Oh I don’t know about that,” Deana felt a blush carry over her at the thought.

“I’ll set you up over in that booth over there,” Martha pointed to one near the far corner of the restaurant, “and some of today’s specials.”

“What’s that?” Deana questioned curiously.

“Trust me you’ll love it. Now go dance and have a good time,” Martha waved them on encouragingly.

“Well, who are we to argue,” Grady reached for Deana’s hand and guided her out onto the dance floor. “Let’s answer the call of the music.”

“Grady,” Deana laughed lightly as they joined the others on the dance floor. She looked around the room seeing that everyone seemed to be lost in one another and not really paying much attention to them. Relaxing a bit, she eased her arms around Grady’s shoulders and pulled him in closer to her again, “she doesn’t leave much room for debate does she.”

“Russ said she’s pretty incredible and so is this place,” Grady noted thinking of what his brother had told him about the island.

“You mean you knew about this place before we asked at the hotel?” Deana’s brown eyes widened in surprise.

Grady nodded in confession, “I was told it was a place not to miss.”

“I see, so you had this planned from the start, eh?” she questioned feeling him spin her around as the music picked up around them.

“Not entirely, but sooner or later I thought we’d make our way out here,” he confessed twirling her in his arms. He spun her around and reached for her again before drawing her in against him in a seductive sweep, “I hope you don’t have a problem with that.”

“Hmm, let me think about this one. Being stuck in the hotel or lost in your arms enjoying the world around us,” she pretended to think it over before flashing a bright smile, “I think I’ll take this option.”

“Oh you’ll more than take it,” Grady dipped her in his arms before they continued to dance on the dance floor enjoying their surroundings in the intimate setting they were in. The song ended and was replaced by a slower, more sultry tone. Without hesitation Grady hugged Deana in closer to him, his fingers teasing over the long, blonde waves of hair that pressed in against her cheek. Her smile sent a warmth down into his heart and unable to repress the urge he leaned down to kiss her tenderly.

“I love you,” he whispered with a warmth in his tone, his words coming out in a slow drawl of emotion, “Thank you for marrying me.”

“You’re welcome,” she laughed lightly tipping her head up to see something flash behind his eyes, “I guess I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Well, I got to thinking that I haven’t told you enough lately just how much you mean to me,” he laced their fingers together again and raised her hand to his lips. He pressed a tender kiss over her palm before paying attention to the diamond ring on her finger, “You have no idea how many ways you’ve saved my life by loving me. When I thought I’d hit rock bottom, there you were to help me find myself again. You made me see that there was a chance for love in my life again and for that I’ll always cherish this.”

“Grady,” she felt a blush carry over her at his words.

“I mean it Deana. Before I met you I was miserable and going nowhere, but you changed all of that for me,” he confessed cupping her face in his hands, his words growing suddenly serious, “I thought that I would never be able to feel this way again after Jade died, but you proved me wrong. You kept me from being the stubborn ass that I’ve been in the past and the fact that you wouldn’t go out with me right away only made me want to be with you all the more.”

“And now?” she couldn’t help but ask raising a curious brow.

“Now I can’t imagine my life without you. You and Zane are everything to me and I don’t ever want to be without you again,” he whispered pulling her up off of the floor and into his arms completely. Unable to hold back any longer he kissed her again and again not caring where they were or who was watching because when it got down to it he realized he’d finally had the one thing that life had kept just out of his reach for so very long. Life was finally where it should’ve been years ago and he vowed that nothing would ever change that for him again!


“Thanks for taking me snorkeling uncle Jay,” Zane felt Jason holding onto him while they were in the water. Pulling his goggles from his face, he reached out to pat Jason on the side of the face before laughing. “It’s been fun, but at some point you should let me swim myself. I know how.”

“And I just want to be safe,” Jason informed his nephew pulling his goggles off himself as he sat them on the dock that was by them. Moving by the ladder he took in a deep breath and watched Zane closely. “If you promise to hold onto that ladder, I will let you go. Okay?"

“Alright,” Zane nodded feeling Jason make sure that he was holding on before moving back in the clear water and Zane smiled while sitting on one of the steps. “Mommy and Grady should do this one time. It’s really cool. Much different than swim class. You actually see real fish here and other stuff.”

“It was fun taking you out today buddy,” Jason smirked thinking about Deana and Grady for a moment now that they were married they would surely want some ‘time’ together. “Grady and your mom just need some time together now that they are married and all.”

“Yeah, married…,” Zane sat there for a moment seeing Jason go under the water for a moment before shooting back up above the water splashing him a bit. “Hey…you know what? You should think about getting married.”

“Me?" Jason laughed staring out at his nephew as he playfully ran his hand through Zane’s short hair. “That’s not going to happen for a while little buddy.”

“Why not?" Zane tilted his head at Jason and the question surprisingly was a bit hard to answer since Jason really wasn’t sure what the right thing to say would be. “Mommy was really happy about it.”

“Your mother and I are a lot different,” Jason explained trying to say the right thing so it didn’t come out wrong. Clearing his throat uneasily, he began to realize this was kind of hard. “Your mother is extremely mature for her age and she found someone that she loves. Someone that makes her happy. I haven’t found that yet. At one point I would love something like that, but I’m just not there yet.”

“Have you tried?" Zane muttered seeing the Jason took a minute to answer and he laughed. “That’s a no. Mom always says that if someone gives a long pause like that, they are trying to think of a lie.”

“It’s not that I haven’t, I’m just still searching,” Jason answered with a smirk finding it cute that his nephew was grilling him about his love life. “I’m start to freeze here buddy, how about you walk up that ladder and we can go find a place to shoot some hoops or something.”

“Awesome,” Zane quickly moved up the ladder to the dock and Jason moved up behind him stepping out and adjusting his soaked bathing suit. “I’ll go return these.”

“Hold on a second,” Jason called out watching his nephew run up to the small building where they had gotten the gear and Jason reached down to pick up a few more things they had set out on the deck. Turning on his heel quickly, he felt someone knock into him and he almost knocked them completely off the deck. “Crystal?"

“Jason…what a surprise,” she smiled pressing her dark hair over her shoulder as she stared over his wet body watching him look down. “I didn’t think I would be seeing you here.”

“Yeah, the same goes here,” he gulped down feeling her reach out to press her hand in over his wet abdomen and he gulped down heavily. “You know…this is a really bad time to…why did you leave the hotel room?"

“Why stay?" she muttered under her breath catching the way he tilted his head to the side and took in a deep breath. His fingers wrapped around her wrist as he smiled and shook his head slowly. “What we have is fun.”

“Have or had?" Jason pressed his hand through his wet hair staring out at her and while he wanted to continue to talk to her, he knew that he had to keep an eye on Zane. “Just…hold on a second I want to check on my…”

“Jason!” Zane’s voice boasted watching the way that Jason moved around the woman that was before him. “The guy at the desk said we could have the lessons earlier than planned. We can go do them right now Jason. Come on. Come on.”

“Hold on a second buddy,” Jason felt Zane tugging on his hand and he let out a hesitant laugh. “I was kind of busy with my…uhm, nephew, but I would love to see you again if you are interested because last night. It was…amazing. More than…”

“Is this your way of ‘looking’?" Zane groaned staring up at Jason as he continued to tug on his uncle’s arm hearing him let out a tight gasp as he pulled him down a bit. “She’s really beautiful uncle Jay, but lessons. Soon. Now, we need to go.”

“What kind of lessons?" Crystal questioned catching the attention of Zane as he stopped tugging on Jason’s arm long enough to stare out at her and blush. “What?"

“Just snorkeling lessons,” Zane seemed to go shy as he motioned Jason to kneel next to him. Leaning across, he whispered in his uncle’s ear with a smile hoping the girl didn’t hear him. “Okay, never mind--she is marrying material.”

“Good to know buddy,” Jason laughed squeezing his nephew closer to him in a tight hug seeing Crystal smile because she clearly heard him. “Good to know.”


A small gasp fell from Mindy’s lips as she watched Nate get up from where he was sitting and move toward her to wrap his arms around her tightly. Holding onto him tightly, she hugged him in her arms until she heard the sound of Rusty playing on the floor with the toy that Nate had set out from him.

“There is one problem,” Mindy backed up staring into Nate’s green eyes as he nodded and reached out to press her hair back behind her ear. Thinking about Rusty, she realized that she couldn’t leave him all alone at her place. “We have Rusty, what will happen to him if I go with you? I can’t leave him here alone.”

“Well that’s an easy answer,” Nate snapped his fingers watching Rusty look over at him from where he was laying on the floor. The noise made the cat get up and run over to Nate so he could pet the back of his neck gently. “We take him with us.”

“I’m not really sure that Russ and Avery would go for that,” she pointed out looking to the cat seeing it rubbing up against Nate’s leg clearly loving the way he was getting pet by the sound of his purring. “It is their baby you know. I don’t know if they would go for that considering…”

“If you are worried about it, we will leave them a note. I know how they are, they trust you I don’t think they will think you cat-knapped the little guy,” Nate smirked nudging the side of her face playfully knowing that by the look in her light eyes she was a bit cautious. “And if you are also worried about taking a flight or anything, we can go on a small road trip. We’ll take him in the car, make sure he has enough food and toys. I’m sure he’d love it. My mother is a huge cat lover, so I promise he will get enough attention there.”

“Are you sure they would be okay with something like that?" Mindy watched the way Nate smirked and gave her wink while her fingertips pressed in over his rough features. “Even with me coming, are you sure they won’t get offended? I don’t want to impose.”

“Mindy, a few things you need to know about my family…they are never really unhappy. Unless of course it’s Shannon. Shannon is a very unhappy person, but for the most part, my family is very happy. They are the complete opposite of her, especially my parents. My siblings are a bit awkward…but I promise they won’t have a problem with you around,” Nate thought about things for a moment, a small smile pressing in over his lips. “To be honest with you, I’m a little worried that they would be a little too friendly. Sometimes it gets to be a bit much.”

“Are they anything like you?" Mindy questioned and he half nodded letting out a small breath. “If they are at least half as great as you are, then I’m sure they are wonderful people.”

“They are pretty great,” Nate winked not sure what else more to say, but he was glad that she still seemed to be sold on the idea. “They will love you and I will love having you with me. It will be nice not going alone for once.”

“It will be nice not being alone for the weekend,” Mindy thought about Chase and Trisha being gone all the time. Along with Jason being gone for his sister’s wedding, it felt nice to be spending time with someone. Especially after everything that had happened. “Are you sure you are okay with this?"

“More than okay,” he winked standing up from where he was kneeling, sliding his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “But I must warn you ahead of time, my music is a bit selective. I’m into the hard rock, metal type and…”

“That’s exactly like me,” she informed him standing up from the table moving in closer to him. Reaching out to trace her fingers over his chest she sighed heavily and stared up at him. “I’m beginning to ask myself why you and I didn’t…earlier.”

“Didn’t what?" he questioned in a teasing manner knowing exactly what she was saying, but as he glided his thumb in over her bottom lip he sighed and took in a deep breath. “I’m kind of lost on what you are trying to say Mindy. Are you suggesting that you and I…”

“Uh huh,” she took the tip of his finger into her mouth as he moved forward to capture her lips in a quick kiss. Running her fingers through his hair, she heard the sound of someone gasping and she turned to see Trisha in the doorway. “Oh crap.”

“Uhm…yeah,” Nate stepped back seeing the wide eyes of Mindy’s friend staring out at him as he stood shirtless before them. Looking over his body, he whistled and pushed his hair back over his shoulder awkwardly. “You know, I think I’m going to go get my shirt from the dryer…”

“Alright,” Mindy eyed him over seeing him laugh for a moment before moving around Trisha to avoid the awkward silence that her friend was pressing in over them. “Don’t even begin…”

“Did I hear when I came in the door that the two of you are going on a road trip together?" Trisha questioned, the shocked expression turning into a wide smile as she stared out at Mindy who leaned back against the counter. “And then I walk in to see…that. Nate half naked and…”

“He just didn’t have a shirt on and that was…,” Mindy tried to explain things before shaking her head knowing that her friend was begging for information, but she wasn’t ready to feed into that. “Alright, we’re done with this right now. We’re just friends…”

“Friends my ass,” Trisha blurted out bluntly following her friend toward the living room to try and get the juicy details out of what had just happened. “You need to tell me about this friend right now and what exactly has happened since I haven’t been around.”

“Nothing, okay?" Mindy laughed knowing that Trisha would never be able to just accept that answer right now even though she was trying her best to try and avoid it. “Seriously, just friends.”

Even Mindy herself knew they were much further from that right now, but she didn’t need to have the whole world know that. For now…


“You know Steve, I don’t want to sound like I’m being a busybody or that I’m ungrateful that you came all this way to check in on Kevin, but maybe you should think about taking a step back right now with Ria and Kevin,” Angela suggested catching the confused expression on Steve’s face.

“I’m not doing anything other than doing a follow up. I know I told Ria that she could take over Kevin’s treatment but I figured since I was relocating out here that I would check in on him,” Steve offered up thinking about the reasoning for his visit to Brant’s home. “Ria told me that she and Kevin were here so I thought I would just check in on him this morning before my meeting over at the hospital.”

“Look, I know you mean well, but Kevin and Ria have been having a bit of a rough patch lately and you’re not helping,” Angela patted his arm gently before hearing the sounds of Kevin and Ria arguing with one another in the other room. “Don’t get me wrong I’m sure Ria enjoys having you around because you’re a great guy, but…”

“Kevin doesn’t like it, does he?” Steve inquired arching a curious brow. He listened for a second hearing Kevin and Ria’s exchange before a grin spread over his features, “Yeah I’d say he’s not too happy.”

“And can you blame him? How would you feel if you just had a piece of your leg split apart and then found out that your ex-girlfriend’s super hunk boyfriend was your doctor? Then to add insult to injury, you hear that the apartment that your girlfriend is living in not only isn’t hers, but that the previously mentioned hunky ex-boyfriend is the one who has the lease and plans on returning to the apartment.”

“Ria said that she was okay with that. I didn’t push the issue any further than it was,” Steve corrected thinking about his conversation with Ria. “Honestly, I’m not here to start any trouble.”

“I understand that Steve, but…” Angela began as Brant entered the room with Alison on his arm. He looked between Steve and Angela and frowned.

“Okay, what’s going on and why does Kevin sound like he’s furious?” Brant questioned jumping right into the situation. He tipped his head up and noticed Steve for the first time, “Why are you here?”

“I came over to check in on my patient since I’m going to be in town,” Steve threw his hands in the air, “You know twenty years ago a patient would be thrilled to have their doctor make a house call. I’ve been trying to help Kevin since he endured quite a horrible experience, yet he’s only wanted to tear my head off from the moment I first spoke to him.”

“It’s because you slept with his fiancée. Most men don’t take too well to that,” Brant shrugged his shoulders casually before listening to the muted sounds of Kevin and Ria, “Those two really are going at it aren’t they?”

“I’m sure that they’ll be like this for a little while,” Angela confessed glancing over at her daughter, “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, she was just hungry,” Brant replied with a warm smile of his own, “Annie is in with Brandon, but when I walked out here to look for you I heard all of the shouting and…”

“And all hell broke loose all because I wanted to check in on my patient,” Steve blurted out folding his arms in front of his chest. “That doesn’t make me a bad guy.”

“No it doesn’t big man, but he isn’t exactly himself right now,” Brant replied thinking about Kevin’s agitation towards Steve. Brant could remember only too well how he’d felt about Kevin lingering around at first when it was clear that Kevin still had feelings for Angela. While Brant was certain that Kevin could’ve very easily used a dose of his own medicine with Steve, he was also aware of the fact that now wasn’t the time to have it happen. With Seth in jail and Kevin just getting out of a life threatening situation, it was just about the last thing he needed. “Look I appreciate your stopping by, but you can rest assured that between Angela and Ria and all of the other doctors that are running around my house that everyone is doing fine.”

“Other doctors,” Steve replied giving him a strange look.

“My sister was in an accident,” Brant confessed his thoughts lingering to Blake, “and we’ve got the best care for her.”

“That’s right. I heard about her accident. I’m sorry that things played out like they did,” Steve offered up apologetically, “I didn’t know your sister personally but I’ve been keeping tabs on the great work that she’s doing with her charity and the community center. If she needs anything or you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you Steve. I’m sure Blake would appreciate that, but right now maybe you should go,” Angela piped in listening to Kevin and Ria once again.

“Well, I was going to say good-bye to Ria and,” Steve started only to feel Angela tug on his arm gently.

“Trust me she’s not going to be up for any talking after a few more minutes of that. Knowing Kevin they’ll probably fight for a little while longer and then, well let’s just say they won’t need you hovering around. They’ll want some private time,”

“Private time,” Steve repeated before Angela flashed him a knowing look.

“Yes very private time,” Angela guided him towards the front of the house again hoping to help her friend work things out with Ria without any interruptions.

“You know I’m not really sure that is a good idea especially if it is what I think you’re implying. With Kevin’s injury I really don’t think that he should be getting into anything strenuous or…” Steve started to object only to hear Angela cut him off abruptly.

“Trust me on this one. There isn’t a whole lot that can keep Kevin down, not a bullet and undoubtedly not what happened to his leg, so why don’t I show you to the door and maybe we can work out another time when you can check in on him again,” Angela suggested exchanging looks with Brant before taking in a breath and hoping that Ria’s ex-boyfriend would just listen to her and leave before another fight followed.


“You think I’m pissed at you?" Ria let out an ironic laugh after Kevin’s comment and she saw his brown eyes look up at her with complete seriousness behind them. He nodded and she moved away from him more toward the other side of the room. “God, you do nothing wrong Kevin, so why would I have any reason to secretly be mad at you. You’re like a God, you do no wrong.”

“I never said that,” Kevin cut her off abruptly letting out an angered breath as he turned the chair more to face her and he winced again. “I know I make mistakes. Hell, I’m known for that. I know that I’ve done them, I know that I’m not perfect. I never claimed to be, but damn it--why are you letting this guy come around acting like this?"

“Why are you even acting remotely jealous?" Ria threw her hands up noticing at the moment Kevin was clutching his stomach, but she had to get things off of her mind. He may be in pain, but he was the one that was staring all of this. “You’re the one that gives reason to have any kind of jealousy. We’re living in the house of the boyfriend to your perfect ex-girlfriend. The one you ran off to save. The one you just had to prove cared more about you than Brant. You know, the girl that just walked out of here with Steve. The one that I could never be better than.”

“Are you ever going to give me a chance?" Kevin questioned arching his eyebrow up as he spoke. He could feel his heart racing with the way she was talking to him. “I can tell you I love you, I can say that you are everything to me, but it’s never enough. All you can see is that I’m still friends with a person I was with for a long time and yeah, Angie is important to me, but you are the one. I don’t know how many times I have to say that and I won’t get sick of saying that, but I’m tired of hearing this.”

“Why Kevin? Everyone with eyes thinks you love her. They all think that you are longing to hang out for some kind of relationship with her…,” Ria began thinking of all the things that have been said in the past to her.

“They have no idea what I feel,” Kevin cut her off raising his voice heavily and he pointed toward the kitchen where Angela left. “I have a relationship with her, she is my friend. My friend Ria because damn it I love you. I don’t care what people think, I’m longing to have a marriage with you and I want to be happy, but somehow that’s never good enough when I say that. What this anger is stemming from is the fact that your ex is just trying to piss me off and you aren’t even remotely trying to understand that.”

“He’s a good guy,” Ria corrected him and Kevin rolled his eyes. He went silent for a minute and looked down toward the center of his lap before shrugging.

“And so am I,” Kevin muttered turning his chair and he started to move for the hallway until he felt her quickly grabbing his chair so he couldn’t leave. “Let me go, if you want to act like this--then forget it…I will go rot in the bedroom.”

“Now you’re just being a baby,” Ria stomped on the brake of his wheelchair to get him to stay there. Moving in front of him, she noticed the glare he was giving her and she shook her head. “I didn’t say you weren’t a good person.”

“Oh right…you treat me like I’m awful. I get you are upset about my past, I do. And yeah, I have made mistakes, but no one knows that better than me,” Kevin stated with a small sigh and he tried to plead with her the best he could. “God…I almost died and now one of the only people that loves me is stuck in jail for a crime I know he would never commit.”

There was a silence that fell over them as she gulped down heavily and could see the anger was slipping from him. He seemed to look extremely upset as he shrugged his shoulders.

“What do you want me to change?" Kevin finally broke the silence between them and he looked up at her with a sincere expression. “I try and it’s not good enough. You clearly aren’t happy with who I am, so what do you want to be different about me? I’ll try to change whatever it is that you want.”

“Now you are playing me off to be the bad guy,” Ria moved around him and he tried to move to follow her, but he still felt his wheelchair locked. Letting out a heavy breath he tried to move it before cussing. “I don’t like being the bad guy.”

“I’m trying to make you happy,” Kevin called out trying to brace himself to stand up and he let out a long hiss as he fell against the wall trying to brace his body weight. “Would you please wait…”

“Kevin, you just…,” Ria looked around to see Kevin try to move forward, but only saw him fall to the ground in a thud making her let out a small gasp. Moving over to him, he was clutching his leg and his face was beat red. “What is wrong with you? Are you stupid?"

“I was stuck,” he answered feeling her fingers running in through his hair as he dropped back against the ground and let out a heavy breath. “Nothing just seems to be going right and I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t want you upset, it’s just…”

Kevin just dropped his head back and found no point in trying to reason with the facts of what were going on as Ria stared down at him. Her fingertips were caressing over his cheek and he shook his head.

“I’m screwed pretty much every way possible right now,” Kevin tried to get up, but he just didn’t have the power in him right now to do it. “I’m weak as hell. There is Seth…then you, you’re mad at me…”

“I don’t like you jealous…there is a difference,” she tried to correct him and she could tell by the look that he gave her that he didn’t believe her. “What?"

“I woke up and you were gone…,” Kevin frowned thinking of this morning and whether it was stupid or not, he still felt awful being alone without anyone to help him. “I know I act like I’m fine, but I can hardly even get out of bed. You were gone and you hardly…”

“Hey,” she cut him off pulling him up into a sitting position with the strength she did have. His brown eyes seemed extremely upset as he looked away from her and down toward the ground. “Look at me.”

“What?" Kevin felt her finger nudging his chin and he let out a heavy breath. His voice cracked a bit as she sighed, running her fingers through his thick hair. “You can’t tell me you aren’t upset with me, I can see it in the way you look at me.”

“That’s not exactly it,” Ria thought about the news she had discovered while he was gone and she gulped down heavily. Thinking about the right moment to even bring it up, she wasn’t exactly sure she wanted to tell Kevin about the news on his daughter to begin with. “There are just some complications that are bothering me right and I’m taking it out on you, I’m sorry. I do love you though.”

“I love you too which is why I hate to fight with you,” Kevin frowned feeling her leaning in closer to him to press a small kiss over his lips. Sighing heavily, he felt her forehead rest against his and he let out a long breath. “It’s just…so much keeps going wrong.”

“I know,” she whispered and his eyes were heavy with upset showing that all of this was wearing heavy over him.

“I just don’t think I can take much more of this Ria…,” Kevin informed her strongly, wincing as he tried to move again, but all he felt was pain. “I can’t do it.”


Avery knocked on the door to her father’s hotel room door before finding the door was partially opened. She pushed it inward a bit further and popped her head inside before speaking up, “Anyone here?”

“Avery,” her father called out to her popping his head out from behind the bathroom door, “Hey I’m in here getting dressed.”

“I was hoping I might find you before everything got crazy around here,” Avery confessed with a small smile before approaching him. “I just wanted to see how you were doing now that the big day is here.”

“Hard to believe it’s happening,” Richard replied thinking about how long he and Judy had waited to be together. “It still feels like this is some kind of dream.”

“It is daddy,” Avery stepped forward moving in to help him with his tie. She reached for it starting to tie it before smiling up at him, “This is your dream come true only this time it doesn’t end when you wake up. It continues each and every day of your life.”

“I’ve been living so many of my dreams without Judy that to think of this one happening feels so surreal,” he paused as he searched her dark eyes, “but I hope you know that even though I’ve wanted to be with Judy for a very long time, it never took away from what I feel for you or your brother Avery.”

“Dad, you don’t have to,” she began feeling a bit uneasy at the direction of their conversation.

“No, I think I do,” Richard reached out to help her finish with his tie before he motioned to the couch near the other end of the room, “Why don’t we have a seat so we can talk?”

“Dad, you need to be getting ready right now because your wedding is right around the corner and,” Avery felt him reach for her hand before dragging her over to the sofa.

“Avery, for once don’t argue with me and just listen,” he urged her to take a seat once again, “I know you’re stubborn, but this time I think we need to talk about a few things especially before I go through with this wedding.”

“Dad, I didn’t come in here to delay you. I just wanted to wish you some encouragement and,” Avery felt him nudge her to take a seat once again and finally she complied.

She sat down and suddenly felt like a small child again now that he stood over her. There was a seriousness in his face that caused her stomach to tie in knots. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she hadn’t seen that expression from him since the first time that he’d discovered her and Russ in bed with one another back in high school. She was mortified at that moment in time when he stood before her with an almost identical expression and now worry carried over her completely.

“Look Avery, I know that you’ve had a lot you’ve been dealing with lately,” he began moving in to take a seat beside her, “more than any normal person would have to handle.”

“Dad, today isn’t about me,” she began again feeling him reach for her hand gently. “It’s about you.”

“No Avery, it’s about us--about our family,” he explained drawing in an isolated breath. He closed his eyes for a moment before facing her fully, “I realize that Cameron Stone has said and done some things to make you believe that the life that we had with one another wasn’t valid--that what we share as a family was nothing more than a lie.”

“Dad, I don’t want to get into this on your day,” Avery started once again with an unsettled tone.

“Well I do because it can’t be my day without my daughter knowing without a shadow of a doubt that she’s my daughter,” Richard further explained sensing her apprehension about the conversation they were having. “Avery, I haven’t been completely honest with you about things. When you first came to me with your concerns I brushed them off because it was easier that way, but now I think you need to hear what I should’ve said from the moment you told me about Cameron and this other woman.”

“Dad, I don’t understand,” Avery blinked back at him seeing his features twist with something darker than she’d anticipated.

“Before I was with Judy your mother and I were together. Judy had another man in her life, so I tried to move on and Brooke seemed to be just the key to forgetting Judy,” Richard explained with a small sigh, his blue eyes returning to hers again. “Brooke and I were together for a while before Judy and I found our way to one another you see. Judy had been seeing someone else for a while, but we both knew after a certain point that we wanted to be together. We both vowed to stop pretending that we didn’t love each other and that’s when we were together. Naturally your mother was hurt and…”

“It’s no excuse for how she’s hurt you. I know how much you love Judy and,” Avery offered up again.

“But still I made your mother feel like she was someone I was keeping at bay to pass my time with. Perhaps that was truly the case when we first started seeing one another. There was no denying my feelings for Judy, but after a while even knowing that your mother was only interested in what marrying into my family could give her, the truth to the matter was that I did love her Avery. A part of me still does.”

“Wait, what?” Avery’s jaw dropped at her father’s confession.

“We had some good years together even if you were too young to remember them. When I found out she was pregnant, yes I was upset because it put my plans with Judy on hold, but in another way it opened up the door to the life I never would’ve had if you weren’t in it. Avery, the day you were born was the happiest day of my life. The same goes for when your brother came into this world and even if I think awful things about your mother right now the fact to the matter is that she is the reason that I have the both of you and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. She gave me everything I could’ve ever asked for in a daughter.”

“Daddy,” Avery bit down on her bottom lip feeling it quiver with emotion as he reached out to embrace her.

“There wasn’t a second when I doubted that you were mine,” he whispered squeezing her tightly, “From the first moment I looked at you up until now I’ve always known that you’re my little girl. My very special little girl Avery.”

“Dad, I know we will always have that, but given what we know Brooke has done,” Avery couldn’t help but contemplate thinking of Cameron’s seriousness in his tone when he’d told her about Angela.

“When Bruce tried to hurt you,” Richard pulled back just enough to meet her eyes, “they brought you to the hospital and you were in critical condition. I didn’t know what was happening, but I rushed over to see you because I’d heard a great many stories that terrified me. I thought I was going to lose you and I dropped everything to get to you.”

“I’m sorry that you had to go through that,” Avery started again taking in a breath.

“When I think of what that monster did to you,” he reached out to touch the side of her face, “Avery I was so worried about you. There was a point when they weren’t sure what would happen. You had lost a lot of blood and when it got down to it you needed me and I was there for you.”

“I know we have the same blood type, but that doesn’t mean because we share that type that…,” Avery started again taking in a breath.

“Avery when you were very young you were sick a lot and we had testing done on you to ensure it wasn’t something more serious than it was,” Richard admitted with a heavy sigh, “It was when you were quite young and I never really wanted to bring it up because it, like the time Bruce hurt you, was one of the times in my life that I felt truly helpless as your father. A parent never wants to see their child in pain and back then when you were ill, it was perhaps one of the worst possible fears for us to live with.

“I don’t remember any of that,” Avery replied shaking her head and pausing, “I always remember being a rebel and really healthy when I was younger.”

“You were most of the time, but there was a small period of time when you kept getting sick and we were really worried about you,” he explained with a small sigh, “I won’t dig up all the details about it right now because that isn’t important, but what is important is that they ran some tests on you--tests that confirmed that what you were experiencing ran on my side of the family and not your mothers. Those months of worry that we went through only confirmed for me without a shadow of a doubt that you’re my daughter.”

“Dad, I just…” she stopped herself before meeting his eyes again, “Are you serious? You’re not just making this up.”

“Considering that you’re a parent yourself Avery you should know full well that you would never lie about your child’s health,” he pointed out giving her a long look. “Avery, honey, I know without hesitation that you’re my little girl and you’ve been blessed with a lot of my family genetics. Of course you got most of your good looks from your mother since she was always beautiful.”

“Beautiful on the outside, but ugly on the inside,” Avery sighed thinking about all of her mother’s misdeeds.

“Brooke always thought her intentions were in the right place, but they weren’t. Even now she still believes she’s doing what’s best for all of us,” Richard sighed before shaking his head, “She’ll never see that she’s destroying all that means anything to her by burying herself in her own warped perception on how the world should be.”

“I just can’t believe all that she’s done,” Avery frowned before sitting up straighter, “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have brought this up right now.”

“No, I’m the one who brought it up,” he reminded her simply, “and I wanted to get it out in the open before you started thinking that you were at fault for something that wasn’t there to begin with. I stayed with your mother because I cared about her Avery. I still do, which makes me an old fool, but the fact to the matter is that you and your brother are the greatest joys in my life. Regardless of what the circumstances were when Brooke and I first got married, I knew over the years that fate had plans for me just like it does now.”

“In your future with Judy,” she noted seeing a certain gleam behind his eyes.

He nodded, “They say the best things in life are worth the wait and in this particular instance I think I believe that.”

“So do I,” Avery leaned into him feeling him wrap his arms around her shoulders in an embrace.

“Um excuse me, but when did we have a family reunion notice and why wasn’t it passed on to me?” Guy questioned stepping into the room and seeing the two of them with one another. “I’m feeling left out.”

“Guy,” Avery grinned looking up to see her brother approaching. Without hesitation she rushed over to him and offered up a bear hug.

“Gee, I think I’ll stay away more often if I get this kind of treatment,” he laughed lightly picking Avery up off of the floor before teasing, “Though I think I’ll stick to holding that little girl of yours because she weighs a lot less.”

“Hey now,” Avery swatted at his shoulder feeling him set her down on the ground again. She gave him a once over before shaking her head at him, “You’re getting a bit soft around the middle now that you’re happy in love.”

Guy laughed before patting his stomach and nodding, “I guess that’s what happens when true love and homemade cooking gets the best of you.”

“I take it Gabe is back from his trip,” Richard half questioned approaching the two of them and joining in the conversation.

“Not yet, which is probably the real reason for my abs going to hell. Kellen‘s been busy too so I haven‘t hit the gym much really over the last few weeks,” Guy paused before shaking his head again, “Plus I’ve been visiting the fast food places more often than I care to admit when it gets down to it.”

“I thought so,” Avery couldn’t help but tease, “though you know if you were all by your lonesome, you know you’re always more than welcome to hook up with Russ and I. We’d love to have you over with us.”

“Last time I did that, we had to practically hose you two down,” Guy teased further before turning his attention to his dad, “So what about you dad? How are you doing?”

“Never better now that I have my family here,” Richard moved forward to give him an embrace, “You still ready to be my best man today?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world because family is the most important thing on a day like today,” Guy stuck his tongue out at Avery, “even if Avery and Russ decided to go about this the secretive way all those months ago and not invite us.”

“The next time we get married we’ll be sure to invite you both,” Avery assured him brightly moving in to adjust her brother’s crooked tie.

“There better not be a next time because I don’t think any of us could deal with another split between you and Russ,” Guy noted giving her a firm look, “When that happens we’re all miserable with you.”

“It’s not going to happen again,” Avery assured him brightly before turning to her father, “Although right now I would really love to focus on the wedding that we have in front of us today. Doesn’t dad look handsome?”

“He looks totally hot,” Guy added brightly before laughing, “Judy isn’t going to know what hit her by the time I’m through with him either.”

“Through with me?” Richard arched a speculative brow.

“Well duh, you didn’t think I came here only to stand in as your son,” Guy waved his hands around in the air before pointing to the small case he’d brought in with him, “Dad I work for one of the top fashion and beauty places out there in the world today. You don’t get to be head of a cosmetics company without being able to display your talents.”

“Nepotism did play a hand in it,” Avery tossed at him with a mock seriousness in her tone.

“Regardless,” Guy waved his hand at her dismissively, “I just thought I’d offer up a few finishing touches to help add to the greatness of you today dad.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask. I really don’t want to be a human guinea pig Guy,” Richard started an uneasiness in his tone. “I appreciate the offer but there is no need for cosmetics or…”

“Don’t worry I won’t be putting makeup on you, but I can promise you that you’re going to be smoking hot by the time the ceremony rolls around. Judy is going to love it,” Guy assured his father ready to do what was necessary to ensure that today would be a day that no on in their family would ever forget now that Richard was finally ready to have all of his dreams coming true.


“I’m so glad you’re both here,” Judy reached out to embrace her daughters hugging them tightly after they’d entered her hotel room to help her get ready for her wedding. She looked between the both of them and smiled nervously, “I was so worried that you wouldn’t be here in time.”

“We wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Deidra assured her mother reaching out to embrace her tightly, “We just got a little behind at the airport, but we were sure we’d have enough time to see you before the wedding.”

“That’s right mom. We wouldn’t leave you hanging especially on a day like today,” Diane reached out to hug her mother as well, “You look so beautiful today.”

“I’m nervous,” Judy confessed with a small smile, “more nervous than I think I’ve ever been in my life.”

“That’s because today is all about you for a change mom,” Diane piped in enthusiastically, “You’ve spent so many years trying to make the rest of us happy, but now today is all about you.”

“Diane’s right. Today you’re going to be able to finally have a life with the man you love and what could be better than that,” Deidra added brightly seeing how her mother appeared to be glowing at the thought of what was yet to come.

“Nothing, well other than being able to have my two girls with me,” Judy explained moving to embrace them both once again, “I love you both so much and I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Of course we’d be here,” Diane added with a hint of mystery in her tone, “We do have wedding traditions to uphold today, don’t we Deidra?”

“That’s right we do,” Deidra added with a cryptic smirk of her own, “and they simply cannot be ignored just because you decided to have a quick engagement.”

“Exactly, which is why we got together the list of must haves before we left,” Diane explained matter of fact as Deidra moved to open up the small suitcase they’d brought into the room with them.

“Starting with grandma’s pearl earrings for something old and borrowed,” Diane accepted the box that Deidra had extracted from the suitcase.

“We knew that you wouldn’t want to go through today without them,” Deidra noted seeing the expression on her mother’s face. “We both remembered how important they were to her when she got married…”

“And we knew that they would be just as important to you,” Diane finished as Judy’s eyes misted over with sentiment.

“I can’t believe you both remembered these considering that…” Judy replied surprise registering over her features.

“We’re not finished yet,” Diane bent down to pull out another box before handing it over to Deidra, who stood beside Judy.

“Something new,” Deidra explained handing it to her mother and watching as her mother opened up the jewelry box to reveal a pearl necklace from within.

“Deidra, I can’t believe that you would…” Judy’s eyes widened in surprise.

“We couldn’t let you not have something to go with the earrings. We both pitched in together to get it,” Deidra explained glancing over at Diane.

“We thought it might be a nice thing to have for this special memory because we both hope that one day we’ll be as lucky as you are in finding true happiness with the men we love,” Diane added pulling out one more box before moving in closer to her mom, “And while Deidra won’t admit it, we both picked this one out too. It goes into the whole blue theme.”

“What is it?” Judy questioned eyeing the box closely, “That looks too big to be jewelry.”

“Oh it isn’t that much bigger, but it‘ll be sure to shock the life out of Richard.” Diane noted feeling Deidra poke her in the ribs lightly, “What?”

“Let her open it first,” Deidra noted with a warning look as Judy stepped aside and opened up the box.

“Oh my,” her eyes widened as she turned to her daughters again, “Shame on you both for picking something like this up.”

“You say that now, but on the honeymoon I’m sure you’ll both appreciate you wearing it,” Diane noted with a laugh amused by her mother’s reaction to the barely there lingerie.

“Diane, have you no shame?” Judy couldn’t help but laugh at the expression on her daughter’s face.

“Not in a long time, but that’s another story that we’ll never get into with one another,” Diane teased with a shake of her head before turning to Deidra, “Though I can’t take all the credit for this one since Deidra came up with the idea when she was shopping for her and Dean.”

“Diane,” Deidra’s face grew red with embarrassment.

“What? Oh come on it’s not like we all don’t know what freaks you both are,” Diane noted thinking about her sister’s relationship with Dean, “We know full well there had to be a good reason why you two got back together so quickly after that misunderstanding that took place between you. Given how hot Dean is I’m assuming sex played a big hand in it.”

“Diane stop,” Deidra felt her face grow hotter by the second, “Mom, ignore her. I don’t know what she’s talking about.”

“Sure you don’t,” Judy laughed lightly before shaking her head, “Though you’re no Miss Innocent Diane. I’m sure of it.”

“I wouldn’t pretend to be,” Diane added with a haughty laugh, “only since the man I love is off for work I’m the odd girl out since you both are lucky and have your guy right by your side. Especially you mom considering that you‘ll have Richard with you from here on out.”

“That’s something that I look very forward to,” Judy confessed turning to take a look at her reflection again while thinking about how good things were turning out for her now that she and Richard were finally free to be with one another at long last.


Brooke sat on the plane sipping champagne as the flight hit a patch of turbulence. Smiling to herself she looked out the window thinking about all that was waiting for her when she landed. A tropical local and a special occasion that was only going to be even more special upon her arrival. Sipping her champagne she couldn’t help but reflect on her newfound freedom and how good it felt to back again with the rest of the world.

“How much longer will it be Brooke?” her traveling companion questioned from where he was seated across from her. “You said that we would be there soon, but…”

“But we’re taking a bit of a side trip,” Brooke assured him as the corners of her lips upturned in a sinister smirk, “This will be even better than what I promised you because this time, well this has so much more drama to it. The element of surprise is always a plus.”

“I’m not really one for surprises these days, but I thought we already discussed that,” he frowned over at her before giving her a brief once over. “Are you sure you should be drinking?”

“Why wouldn’t I want to indulge in spirits on such a joyous occasion,” Brooke practically squealed with delight, “A celebration is in order and once we get there I would imagine that everyone will be beyond thrilled to see us.”

“I’m not so sure. It’s been so long,” he replied as he glanced out the window of the plane to look out beyond the sky. “There is so much that I have to explain--so many things that I need to get out in the open.”

“But when you do I’m sure that everyone is going to be thrilled. You have no idea how much you’ve been missed, but once we get there you’ll see full well that everything I told you is the truth. This is the greatest experience I’ve been able to give to the world around me in a long time and I don’t want you having second thoughts about this. Everything will be perfect,” she finished sipping her champagne again.

“I really hope so. I’ve waited a long time for this,” he rubbed his hands together and giving her a brief, nervous glance before focusing out to the sky again.

“Oh believe me, everything is going to be better than perfect,” she mused taking another swig of her champagne again and knowing full well that by the time she was finished with what she’d started life would never be the same for anyone around her ever again!


...to be continued...