A dull ache began to throb in Russell’s temple as he went from being
in the warmth of Avery’s arms--feeling her surround him as somehow they’d
wound up in bed together--except the road to that moment was blurred and
it wasn’t until he heard the sound of her voice that he’d felt her lips
upon him--that he’d reached out to her, to touch her and hold her, but
then in the midst of the moment, something happened--something that felt
foreign--so out of place and… His head throbbed as he looked to the
chaos taking place on the floor beside the bed and he caught a glimpse
of Avery in a whirlwind of confusion. Limbs were flying, grunts and
screams filling the room as he looked up to find Grady, Jade, Brooke and
another man he couldn’t place standing before him. He opened his
mouth to speak as Brant entered the room adding to the confusion.
“What the hell--” Brant questioned immediately turning his attention to Avery and Heather at battle as he reached for Avery tearing her up off of Heather as Avery shouted out words cursing at Heather.
“You bitch,” Avery kicked at Heather while she was down not caring about the consequences as the image of Russ and Heather in bed together was now forever imprinted in her memory, “You manipulative…”
“Avery, stop,” Brant picked her up off the ground keeping her flailing limbs from causing any more damage to an already well winded and almost completely naked Heather who now lay before them wheezing on the floor.
“Put me down,” Avery demanded harshly thrashing against Brant’s hold as his arms clenched her tighter.
“Get your hands off her, Ashford,” Russell roared rising from the bed as he was suddenly aware of his nakedness, “Don’t touch her.” He marched forward towards Avery as he clumsily wrapped a sheet around himself trying to figure out what was going on.
“Brant,” Heather questioned in confusion from the floor as she looked up to the man she’d believed she’d been in bed with. Her eyes almost immediately drifted to Russell and a horrified gasp fell from her lips as she watched him approach Avery.
“Brant, let go,” Avery kicked at his shin causing him to release her with a groan as she freed herself at last. She turned her eyes towards Heather once again ready to attack as Russell reached out to her capturing her arm.
“Avery,” he spoke her name groggily as she turned to face him tears streaming down her face as she withdrew from his touch as though she’d been burned upon contact.
“Don’t you ever touch me again,” she hissed at him choking on her words as she wrenched herself out of his grasp completely and she raced out of the room lost in the thought of the betrayal she’d encountered.
“Avery wait,” he began to chase after her as Brant stepped forward placing his hand firmly in the center of Russell’s chest shoving him back again.
“Don’t even think of following her,” Brant growled in response as he looked between Russell and Heather, “I always knew you two were losers, but to do this here of all places…”
“You can’t keep me from Avery,” Russell stood up wild with anger as he threw a punch at Brant connecting with his jaw. Brant stumbled back a step or two taking a moment to recover before he stood and collected himself.
Brant wiped at the blood at the side of his mouth throwing back an icy smile before he spoke, “Haven’t you hurt her enough,” Brant challenged looking from Russell to Heather, “and you? Did you honestly think I’d want to be back with a whore like you considering?” he spat out at her before he looked to Russell again, “and you, well I don’t know whether to be disgusted or thank you because you’ve just made my life a whole hell of a lot easier as I’m pretty certain that after this Avery’s going to want to have nothing to do with you, so thanks,” Brant finished turning out of the room as Russell lunged at him once again only to be stopped by Grady.
“Russ don’t,” Grady warned firmly, “That slut isn’t worth it. She never was and now, well now you’re exactly where you should be--without her…” his words trailed off as a swirling overtook Russell’s head as he tried to make sense of what was happening while his happily ever after seemed to be slipping away faster by the moment.
“I don’t understand,” he began as a few random voices murmured as more partygoers made their way to the room taking in the scene and as their shock and surprise became something that was sure to be the latest hot gossip in Coral Valley, Brooke felt a strong sense of pride wash over her as she’d finally found a way to push Russell Denton out of her daughter’s life forever and she couldn’t be happier.
Blake fanned her fingers over Zack’s chest as she continued to work magic over his mouth. She had wanted him for longer than she wanted to remember, but now, she had the chance to have him in every way.
“Blake, wait,” He stammered as she began assaulting his lips once again. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her tightly to him, turning her quickly and pressing her back to the bed. He held her down as he looked into her eyes, “Let’s slow down here.”
“Zack, please. I just want to make love with you,” She pleaded as she undulated beneath him, “Please,” She begged as she eased her leg over his, “Don’t you want me?”
“Of course I want you,” He admitted as he met her eyes, “Just not like this.”
“Not like what?” She asked innocently, sliding her legs free beneath him and parting them to draw him within her grasp. She wrapped her legs around him and smiled, “You’re wearing entirely too many clothes.”
“You’re drunk, and I never want you to regret anything that happens with me. When I make love to you, I want you to remember every single detail of it,” He lifted his hand to touch her cheek, “Blake, I just can’t do this.”
Blake smiled as she slipped her hands to the lapels of his shirt shoving it off his shoulders. She used her body weight to turn him over on the bed and crawl on top of him, “Oh yes, you can,” She smiled as she eased her hands down his chest, “Now you just lay there and be a good boy,” She purred as she dropped her lips to his throat.
Zack closed his eyes as he swallowed a huge lump in his throat. Despite what his mind was saying, his body wanted to comply with her every demand. He struggled out of his shirt and tossed it aside as her lips moved down his chest.
“Blake, will you just listen to me for a minute?” He asked as he attempted to draw her face up.
“I’m through talking,” She smiled as she pressed her lips to his hard stomach, “Now I’m all about action,” She returned her lips back to his skin as her fingers began plucking at the fastenings of his pants.
“Then I’m taking control of the action,” He said as he seized her arms and drew her back to him, turning her on her back as he raised himself over her.
“Now this is right where I want to be,” She smiled as she drew his lips to hers quickly.
Zack ravaged her lips as her fingers slipped through his hair. She returned his kiss while she held him close, wanting to never let him out of her grasp. He eased his hands down her body slowly, cupping her body against his.
He dropped his lips to her neck, learning every nuance of her soft delicate skin. While she’d been bold enough to strip for him on occasion in college, he’d never allowed himself to indulge in tasting her. Now that he had a chance, he wasn’t about to hurry the experience.
Blake hummed to herself as she felt his hands upon her skin. She felt as if she were on fire. Never in her life had she been so turned on, but at the same time, she felt confused and out of control. Still, to feel Zack’s lips and hands upon her body was a dream come true, and she wasn’t about to put an end to it.
“You are so beautiful,” He whispered against her skin as he eased his palms over the curve of her breasts. His lips lavished attention over the swell of her breasts as he palmed each one in his hands.
“Hmm, Zack…” She arched her body towards him, easing her hands over his back to press him closer to her.
“Blake,” He whispered as he eased his hands behind her back and deftly unclasped her strapless bra. He drew it from her body and tossed it aside, allowing his eyes to caress her skin as it was revealed to him.
Blake smiled as she extended her hand to him and drew him back to her, capturing his lips as she wrapped her arms around him. He squeezed her body to him as her breasts pressed against his bare chest. She gasped at the sensations rustling through her. She closed her eyes as he began dropping kisses upon her skin once again. She slid her fingers down his arms and allowed them to drop onto the bed.
“Blake…tell me we aren’t making a mistake,” He whispered in a pleading tone, hoping to find some way to ease his conscience. He waited for a moment before he looked up and saw her eyes closed, “Blake?” He asked as he moved to look directly upon her face, “Blake?” He lightly tapped her cheek but she was unresponsive.
Zack moved from above her and dropped back upon the bed. He closed his eyes as he sighed in a heavy manner before opening them again and glancing over to her. He frowned as he slipped his arms under her and moved her into the bed in a proper position. He pulled a blanket over her and kissed her cheek, “One of these days, Blake…one of these days we’re not going to be interrupted,” He promised her before he slipped under the blanket beside her and held her within his arms.
Dave turned a corner of the house and spotted Shannon at the end of the hall. She frowned as she crossed her arms, “Did you see him?”
“See who?” He asked as he approached her.
“A man wearing a bold red tie. He was here earlier, and there’s something about him that just doesn’t make any sense.”
“I tried to speak with him, and he ignored me.”
“Maybe you’re not his type,” Dave shrugged.
“No, I’m telling you that something wasn’t right with him. He was looking for something, and he was being very sneaky about it.”
“And you know all of this just by walking by him?”
“No, it’s just that I was watching him. It’s just a hunch, but I’ve got a serious feeling that he’s just up to no good.”
“That’s real good, Shannon. That’ll hold up in a court of law. I can see it now. Yes, your honor, she had a hunch and we just followed her woman’s intuition,” He frowned.
“Don’t patronize me, Dave. It’s just that I have a gut feeling, and I have to follow what I’m feeling.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“Let’s fan out and look for this guy. If we’re lucky, he’s still here,” She said with enthusiasm, “Come on, Dave. Just humor me on this one.”
Dave frowned before nodding, “A bold red tie, right? Okay, I’ll look for him.”
Shannon smiled as she stepped away from him, looking for any sign of the man who’d caught her attention. She’d follow her hunch to the ends of the earth if necessary.
Caitlin stepped out of the bedroom in the cozy pair of flannel pajamas Blake had picked out for her. While they weren’t exactly what she’d call sexy apparel, they were comfortable and practical. Still, why would Blake pick out anything so asexual?
She made her way down the hallway and stopped as the bathroom door opened. Ken smiled at her as he ran his fingers around the waistband of his own flannel pajamas. He held his shirt in his hand as he switched off the light and joined her in the hallway, “Come on. I’ll light the fireplace.”
Caitlin felt her breath catch in her throat as she watched Ken move down the hallway. She’d almost felt her head spin in the moment she’d seen his muscled chest. She’d felt his strong body beside hers before, but it was an exciting experience to see the strong planes of his hair dusted chest before her. She’d have dreams about that sight for some time to come she was sure.
Ken tugged his white tee shirt over his head as he bent over the fireplace and began to ignite the gas logs. Once a nice flame licked over the logs, he turned and smiled at her, “Come here.”
Caitlin closed the distance between them and slipped into his arms. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her cheek into his chest, “This feels so good.”
“You’re not kidding,” He said as he pressed a kiss onto the top of her head. As she raised her head to meet his eyes, he eased his palm against her cheek and eased his lips to hers in a tender kiss, “Let’s have a seat in front of the fire.”
She followed his lead as he led her in front of the fire and sat down. She sat down in front of him and leaned back into his arms as he tugged a throw blanket from the sofa behind him and draped it over her legs.
“Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have you?” She questioned as she pulled his arms around her.
“You might have,” He smiled, pressing a kiss to her temple, “Though I think I’m the lucky one. I was serious tonight when I told you that I’ve needed the kind of peace you bring me forever. I’ve always needed a sanctuary, and you’ve become that for me.”
“How can you even begin to say that?” She asked as she looked over her shoulder at him, “I’m a mess especially with this thing with Jimmy. I don’t see how you can think being with me could possibly be peaceful.”
“Because you bring a sense of calm to me that I’ve never felt before.”
“I just bring chaos to you,” She sighed.
“You do not,” He assured her as he slid beside her, “Caitlin, you’ve brought me a world of happiness. How can I even begin to tell you how special you are to me?”
“Ken, can you honestly tell me that I haven’t brought you into my misery? For years anyone I’ve come into contact with have been subjected to my world of pain. You can’t possibly be different.”
“Yeah, okay, I’ve hurt…but only because you’ve been hurt. Don’t you see? You haven’t brought me any pain, but I’ve shared yours,” He assured her. He cupped her cheek in his hand as he met her eyes, “Caitlin, I love you.”
Caitlin blinked as she heard his words, but more than that, she’d felt the emotion in his words. She felt tears pooling in her eyes, “Ken, you don’t have to say that to make me feel better.”
“I’m not,” He assured her as he eased her hair from her face, giving himself an unobstructed view of her features, “I love you, Caitlin. I’ve been so damn slow about telling you, but I should have. That night in the hospital when you told me the truth about your ex,” He paused, “I felt so badly for you. All I could think of was finding that man and destroying him. I knew when I held you then that I had to tell you what I was feeling.”
Caitlin’s tears spilled forth as she turned to face him and wrapped her arms around him, “I love you too,” She cried as she held onto him, “I never thought I’d be able to find someone to love who would love me in spite of all of my baggage.”
“I do love you, Caitlin. And the baggage…we’ll find a way to unload it together, baby,” Ken assured her as he held her within the safety of his arms. The both of them felt a lifetime of love as they held one another, and it was just what they had both longed for.
“Where are you,” Jenna frowned wondering where her date had drifted
off to as she thought of the strange reaction he’d had to her after her
mother had gotten a word with him. It was bad enough that Jenna had
to deal with her on a daily basis judging the men she chose to spend time
with, but to blatantly go out of her way to see to it that Douglas ran
off without so much as a word of explanation, well it set her blood to
boil as she decided that this time her mother had gone too far.
“Missing something,” Hart beckoned her as he stepped out of the shadows the room she’d provided.
Speaking of going too far, she thought to herself struggling to keep from cringing at the sound of his voice as she thought to that moment of weakness she’d had--to the sheer and utter stupidity that had carried her into his arms and into that kiss that still had her cursing herself for even allowing such a silly notion.
“Well,” his teasing tone took on a hint of menace as Jenna stiffened, pausing in her stance before turning around to face him as his smug expression filled her up inside with a strange mixture of emotions, “What’s wrong? Mr. Hollywood disappear on you?”
“Not hardly,” Jenna lied biting on her lower lip, “I just said I’d meet up with him in a few minutes after I finished kicking your ass around and he seemed to welcome the notion considering you’ve been trying to make me miserable all night.”
“Oh I made you something,” he stepped in towards her, “but you can rest
assured that it certainly wasn’t miserable.”
“You really need to work on the size of your ego because you aren’t all that you think you are, Hart Steiner and if any woman lead you to believe that you were, well then they were lying.”
“I’m not thinking about any woman, but more so about the one standing before me as she certainly seemed to enjoy my kiss,” his tone dared as he approached her.
“Now I know you’re delusional,” she took a step back scanning the room, “Besides, why bother harassing me when you have Teen Dream Barbie around here ready to give you your adolescent fantasy?”
“Now Jenna, I told you before that she’s not as young as she…”
“I really don’t care,” she interrupted harshly, “I could care little about your date and even less about you.”
“We both know that’s not the case,” Hart winked in response getting a rush off of her abrasive demeanor. “Now why don’t you just fess up and tell me that you’re still thinking about kissing me?”
“If I did that, then my stomach would be churning right about now and I’d just as soon skip over that kind of unpleasantly,” she feigned repulsion as she watched him, “which is why this conversation ends right now.”
“Not so fast,” he reached out to her tugging on her arm.
“Hart, I swear if you don’t let go of me, you’re going to find yourself on the receiving end of a restraining order so fast your head is going to spin,” she warned him sharply as her eyes darted up to his.
“Jenna,” he began with a heavy frown watching her.
“I mean it,” she replied as he almost immediately released her upon her words.
“Why are you making this increasingly difficult when it’s quite obvious that there’s something worth exploring between us? We have a certain chemistry.”
“I have no doubt in my mind that there’s something wrong with your brain chemistry, but we,” she waved her fingers between them, “have no chemistry whatsoever.”
“Jenna,” he sighed shaking his head at her, “You know one day you’re going to be eating those words where I’m concerned.”
“Not likely,” she replied refusing to accept that she felt anything for the impossible man before her, “now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go meet up with Douglas.”
“Fine,” Hart pouted watching her go as he realized that Jenna might need a bit more working over, but eventually he’d make her see she was falling for him and when he did, he was certain that he’d have her rehashing this moment over and over again admitting how wrong she was as they clearly were meant to explore something with one another. It was only a matter of time.
“That’s enough,” Grady shoved some of the reporters out of the room
upon realizing that they’d made their way to check out the action in the
bedroom. He could feel his head buzzing as he thought to what his
brother had done in his quest to put Avery in her place and it was in that
moment that Grady felt a strong sense of pride wash over him. Turning
his attention to his brother, who’d now emerged from the bathroom with
his clothes on, he walked over towards him patting him on the back proudly,
“It’s about damn time, Russ.”
“Grady, how can you say something like that,” Russell frowned stepping away from him as he held his head in his hands straining to remember how he’d come to be in such a precarious position as the situation was slowly beginning to sink in.
“I had no idea that you’d planned this one, but when you said you’d had a surprise you wanted to share with me tonight,” Grady beamed with enthusiasm, “well I had no idea that you’d be sticking it to Avery like this, but it was priceless--beyond even as the look on her face just about said it all. Here I thought you were going to be ruining your life with that twisted bitch, but all along you’ve been building up to this moment,” Grady paused thinking over the scene as it replayed in his mind, “and hey bringing Brant’s ex in on this one was a nice touch.”
“I didn’t plan any of this,” Russell snapped in response his eyes full of confusion and anger as he thought back to what had taken place, “I wouldn’t have done something like this to hurt Avery. I couldn’t…”
“Russ, we all saw what was going on here, and hey,” Grady waved his hands in the air, “I don’t have a problem with it as you’re better off without Avery in your life. She never deserved you and in my opinion this was nothing short of sheer brilliance on your part in getting rid of her,” he rambled on in his drunken, elated state as Russell reached for his collar slamming Grady into a wall as his rage and anger mounted and it exploded with each shove he inflicted upon his brother.
“I didn’t do this to hurt her. Damn you Grady I love her and I was going to marry her,” Russell blurted out painfully as the way her eyes penetrated him earlier haunted him. Just the thought of her having that look of disgust and repulsion on her face when he’d tried to reach out to her, it broke his heart over and over again as he slammed Grady into a wall once more, “but you wouldn’t understand that. You couldn’t understand that I loved her…that I wanted to be with her no matter what the cost…”
“I’m not the one who put you in bed with the blonde,” Grady shoved him in response his voice a low growl as his green eyes narrowed at Russell, “but I wish I had because now maybe it’ll show you that you’re better off with that tramp.”
“You son of a bitch,” Russell sneered unable to control himself as he lashed out at Grady striking him as an irrational rage overtook him. He needed someone to blame--anyone even if it meant taking it out on his brother when inside he was certain that the only man to blame was the one who was now throwing out the punches. Horrified by his actions, he took a step back trying to remember how many drinks he’d had and how it came to be that he’d wound up in bed with Heather after promising to run off with Avery tonight of all nights. He looked around the room watching Heather speaking to Kipp and in that instant, he couldn’t think of any level of temptation that would bring about something to blatantly stupid on his end when he was so close to having all of his dreams come true--so near that promise of forever with Avery.
“I’m going to pretend you didn’t do that,” Grady slurred stammering a bit as he glared at Russell, “because I realize you’re going through a lot of things right now, but if you ever hit me again, I won’t be as forgiving.”
“You wouldn’t give Avery a chance. You wouldn’t allow me to be happy with her Grady and you pushed her to the point that she…” Russell began again.
“I didn’t do a damn thing to her,” Grady replied with a smile shrug of his shoulders, “as tonight this was all you. You were the one who decided that you didn’t want to waste your life away on her and that’s what this is about.”
“No, that’s not true. We were going to go away together--to be happy and…” Russell trailed off feeling a surge of guilt and confusion sweep over him, “I know I had some drinks, but I wouldn’t…”
“Russ, don’t try to second guess what your subconscious was trying to tell you there,” Grady remarked with a huff, “You knew that you were ruining your life with Avery and maybe you were in denial of it until now, but that’s not the case anymore… Tonight you proved that you feel you’re better off without that bitch and for that I’m very proud of you…”
“I’m not better off without her,” Russell argued with him, “and I’m not letting her go. Not now--not ever…” Russell turned towards the door ready to go after Avery as Grady reached for his arm stopping him.
“I can’t let you do this Russ,” Grady explained refusing to give his brother another chance to ruin his life.
“You can’t stop me,” Russell remarked bitterly, “I’m not going to let you turn me into you no matter how much it pains you to see my happy with Avery.”
“She’s gone Russ. Let her go before it destroys you as that’s all that witch has ever wanted to do to you,” Grady warned him sharply.
“All she’s done is love me and in not having her with me, it’ll be the end of me and I won’t make the same mistake twice in letting her go without a fight,” Russell threw back at him rushing out of the room desperate to find Avery and make things right.
Grady began to chase after him, ready to do whatever it took to keep Russell from reaching his goal as he refused to let Russ ruin his life with Avery all over again, but before he was able to get out the door, Jade stepped in front of him blocking his exit as her eyes met his firm and determined.
“Let him go,” she urged him as Grady blinked back at her in surprise.
“Jade, you know I can’t…” he started to argue as she placed her hand into the center of his chest shoving him back into the room.
“You can and you will,” Jade explained firmly as she refused to budge as she knew all too well how much this moment would mean to Russell, “This isn’t your fight anymore Grady. It never was and if you really care about him, you’ll just stay out of it starting now.”
Avery’s feet couldn’t move fast enough as she tried to push her way
through the dwindling crowd at the mansion. She couldn’t think straight--couldn’t
breathe as her heart pounded in her chest uncontrollably. There was
nothing but pain surrounding her as the only thing that she could hear
over and over again were Grady’s words telling her that Russell had finally
paid her back--that Russell had finally proved to her what it felt like
to suffer after all she’d done to him. Over and over again she tried
to dismiss Grady’s words, but as the image of Russell and Heather haunted
her, controlled her memory as it ate away at her, she found the walls closing
in on her. Her breath came out in short uneven gasps as she crashed
into those before her--into those people who’d been oblivious to what was
going on as they enjoyed the party and took in the occasion and oh what
an occasion had it been as tonight would forever be the night that Avery
felt her dreams all within her reach before they were ripped right out
from under her.
“Please, let me through,” she begged of those she’d squeezed her way beyond as she wanted nothing more than to escape, to disappear into the night and never return to the world that had been taken from her--to lose herself in a place far away from the pain as she’d struggled with the knowledge that she’d been played for a fool by the man who’d claimed to love her time and time again.
“Move,” she ordered as she pressed through the ballroom headed towards the doors as escape was well within her reach. She’d almost made it to the French double doors before her when she felt a hand grasp on her shoulder stopping her from seeking out that freedom and solace that the night would provide her with.
“Don’t touch me,” she cried out turning to see her father’s concerned eyes before her as the last shard of strength she’d carried inside of her crumbled upon seeing him and tears spewed down her face.
“Avery, what’s wrong,” he questioned his smile fading as she threw her arms around him sobbing heavily. He glanced around the room for a long moment before pulling her into one of the empty side rooms as her misery flooded over her.
“Oh daddy,” she cried harder as Richard looked to her disheveled appearance. The strap on the right side of her gown was torn and there were rips over the flashy garment as well as Avery’s face was soiled with mascara and tears.
“What is it,” Richard questioned struggling to make sense of what he was taking in before him as he searched her eyes, an immediate sense of panic sweeping over him as his daughter broke down, “Avery?”
“It’s over,” Avery heaved with each broken sob as she struggled to find the words, “he…he…I….they….”
“Avery, honey talk to me,” Richard pleaded with her as Judy joined the two of them.
“Richard,” Judy’s voice was laced with heavy concern as Richard squeezed his daughter in his arms before focusing on Avery completely.
Richard placed his hands on her shoulders urging her to look at him. “Please talk to me. Who did this to you,” he questioned realizing that she’d clearly been in some kind of situation as her appearance spoke of a struggle, “Was it Brant? Did he do this?” Almost as soon as the words fell from his lips, his jaw clenched with anger as he began to piece the puzzle together, “You told him the truth and he attacked you, didn’t he?”
“No,” Avery shook her head adamantly, “it wasn’t Brant.”
“But…” Richard began again.
“I was wrong. I was so horribly wrong because I thought he loved me, but all this time he was just trying to hurt me--just playing me by working with this horrible woman and then when I found them in bed together…” she sniffled as the thought made her shudder, “He wanted to hurt me like I hurt him, so he lied to me….made me believe that he wanted to marry me--that he wanted to be with me…but it was all a lie--nothing but a cruel, manipulation because he wanted to hurt me for leaving…”
“Avery, you’re not making sense,” Richard tried to put together her tear laced words as they came out in a rapid blur.
“Russell…he…we…we were supposed to run away tonight…to get married, but…” Avery tapered off blinking as the memory haunted her, “when I went for him, he was…he and Heather…they…”
“Oh Avery,” Judy gasped suddenly realizing what she was saying as she exchanged looks with Richard, “you found him with another woman?”
Avery nodded, “They were in bed…together…naked…”
“What?” the color drained from Richard’s face before a bright red shade filled his cheeks.
“He told me he loved me, but then…all the signs were there, but I wanted to believe that he really wanted a second chance for us…that he loved me…that we could somehow work through what happened in the past, but it was all a game…a lie…” Avery gasped for her breath as she felt as though the wind had been knocked out of her.
“That son of a bitch. I’m going to kill him,” Richard roared as he turned away from her ready to seek out Russell and tear him apart for the pain he‘d obviously put Avery through, but as she tugged on his arm, his thoughts were ceased.
“No daddy please,” Avery begged of him, “Don’t hurt him. Please…”
“Avery, you just said that he…”
“I know what I said, but I love him…” Avery cried harder as her heart was still betraying her head where Russell was concerned. Despite what she‘d pieced together about him and Heather, she couldn‘t bear the thought of hurting him again--of her father hurting him, “and maybe I deserve this…maybe this is my fault for walking away and not telling him the truth before…maybe Grady was right that I brought this on…that I had what was coming to me…”
“No, you didn’t deserve any of this,” Richard declared with a thunderous roar, “and when I get my hands on him…”
“Daddy please, don’t make this worse,” Avery broke down sinking into the sofa beside her as Richard and Judy exchanged worried looks.
“Rick,” Judy spoke up feeling herself haunted by the past as she thought back to a time in her life when she’d been as broken as Avery appeared to be.
“He’s not going to get away with this,” he replied adamant that Russell was going to pay for hurting his little girl.
“You’re not going to be helping this if you go off in a fit of madness,” Judy tried to reason with him as Avery shivered on the couch curling up in a ball as her tears consumed her, “that’s not going to change what this is doing to her.”
“I swore to myself that I’d never let anyone hurt her again…that I’d never watch her go through something like this and now,” Richard’s voice trembled with anger as he lowered his voice trying to keep from losing all control in front of Avery, “I practically pushed her into his arms when all this time, he’d been set on hurting her for something she did to spare him any kind of pain. Those moments when I saw them together…when I‘d actually believed that he‘d loved her and cared about her wanting what was best for her…”
“Rick, I saw them together. They were so in love,” Judy reasoned thinking to what she’d witnessed on the balcony, “He’d asked her to run away with him--to get married tonight and I don‘t think that kind of love could be an illusion as they seemed to lost one another…”
“Just another way to hurt her for her walking out before. When I think about how that killed her,” Richard’s eyes lingered upon his daughter for a moment more, “To hell with being calm. I’m going to find him and when I do…”
“Rick don’t,” Judy pleaded reaching out to him, “Don’t make this worse.”
“If I do nothing, then I’m not nearly the father Avery believes me to be,” he answered tightly as he touched Judy’s hand for a brief moment, “Please just stay with her and be here for her in case she needs someone…”
“What she needs is her father,” Judy tried to reason with him, “You can’t just run off when right now this is where you belong…”
“What I should be doing is…” he started as there was a knocking on the door and he heard the faint sound of a man on the other side pleading with Avery to just open up. Almost immediately he tensed up as he took in a slow, contemplative breath.
“Rick don’t,” Judy began again as Richard threw open the doors ready to take on the man on the other side as he vowed that nothing and no one would ever be able to hurt his daughter again.
Heather chased Kipp down the hall as she attempted to right her dress, “Kipp…please, just wait. I can explain.”
“Oh really?” Kipp asked coldly as he turned to face her. His eyes filled with pain and tears as he searched her face, “How can you possibly explain this kind of betrayal?”
“Kipp, it was all a mistake. I mean…I came up here, but I had no idea…” She stammered.
“Let me guess what the mistake was. You probably came up here thinking you were going to reunite with Brant Ashford, right?” He shook his head, “Everyone warned me about you, but I really thought that we had something special.”
“Kipp, it’s just that,” She began.
“Stop!” He shouted at her, “Just stop! The last thing I want to hear right now is how much you wanted to be with Brant Ashford. I loved you, Heather. Don’t you understand that?!” His voice escalated to practically a scream before he stopped and regrouped, “I could have given you the world. I could have given you everything you ever wanted. Why would you throw that all away?”
“Kipp, really, just let me…” Heather attempted.
“No, I’m through, Heather. I was your fool, but I won’t be anymore,” He paused as he met her eyes, “Why did you have to do this to me? Why did you have to break my heart like this?”
“I never meant to,” She admitted as she saw the pain behind his eyes.
“I think you did. All you ever wanted from me was my father’s ear. You thought you could use me to get to him,” Kipp shrugged, “Well, Heather, tell me. Was it worth it? Was it worth destroying the best thing that ever could have happened to you? I would have worshipped you. I would have given you absolutely everything in the world. Was it worth throwing that all away?”
“Don’t bother with your excuses,” Douglas warned as he joined his son’s side, “You’ve done enough with that lying whore mouth of yours. Just leave Kipp alone. You’ve done enough harm.”
“Really, if you’d just let me explain. This has all been one huge misunderstanding,” Heather began.
“Yes it has, and the misunderstanding was all on your part. I knew what kind of tramp you were, but Kipp was in love with you. He truly believed in you, and for you to do something like this,” Douglas shook his head, “You’re just the common whore I took you for.”
Kipp glared at Heather for a moment longer before he turned and ran down the stairs, needing desperately to escape from the pain.
Douglas called out after his son but received no response. A moment passed before he turned his attention back to Heather, “I want you out of our lives for good. If you ever make any overtures towards my son again, I’ll make sure that the only films you’ll make are of the porn variety. Understand me?” He warned before he charged down the stairs after Kipp.
Heather trembled at the force of Douglas’ words. He was angry and upset, and he had every right to be. After all, she had made Kipp look like a fool, but to be honest, she had never wanted that. All she had wanted was to be in Brant’s arms once again. But what she couldn’t understand was how she had wound up with Russell Denton instead. No matter how it had happened, the night had ended in disaster. Heather had no choice but to tuck her tail between her legs and go home all by herself.
Jade slammed the door closed behind her as she faced off with Grady.
She wasn’t about to let him make Russell any more miserable than he already
was, especially when she’d had her own miserable encounter this evening.
“Jade, you can’t expect me to just stop after the way he’s acting,” Grady huffed as he took a step forward.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I expect from you. You need to stop acting like a brat and get over this. Russ can make up his own mind where his heart is concerned,” She declared firmly, “You need to focus on your own problems.”
“My only problem is that Russ is acting like an idiot.”
“Actually the only Denton acting like an idiot would be you, Grady. You’re drunk, and you’re making as ass out of yourself. You should stop while you’re ahead.”
“I’m not drunk,” He snorted.
“Oh really? That’s why the air in here is forty proof?” She countered, “Don’t deny this, Grady. It’ll only make you more of an ass in the long run.”
“Jade,” He began before he stopped and scratched his head, “Okay I might be a little drunk, but that doesn’t change how stupid Russ can be. Why would he want to run after Avery now after he was just getting rid of her?”
“Did it ever occur to you that it was all a mistake?” Jade shook her head, “You’re not going to see reason tonight no matter what,” She took a deep breath as she crossed her arms, “Remember that we have other problems, Grady, problems that don’t involve Russ.”
“What do you mean?” He asked with a heavy sigh, “I think the biggest problem right now is Russ.”
“Cameron Stone, Grady, you do remember him, don’t you? He’s coming after me, and he’s not going to back down. He cornered me tonight, not that you would care since you’re too single minded in your quest to make Russell as miserable as you,” She snapped.
Grady started to respond before he stopped cold. He focused on her as if he were suddenly sober, “Cameron cornered you?”
“Yeah, he did, and he was very intimidating. He even grabbed me, and he was going to try to kiss me before some people interrupted him. Thankfully, I got away from him, but where were you, Grady? Didn’t you say that we’d deal with Cameron together? How can that be if you’re too busy chasing after Russell and his love life to give a damn about what’s happening with me?”
“Jade, I never meant to…” He began as he reached out towards her.
“Of course you didn’t. But your blind hatred of Avery and your mission to keep her from Russ is keeping you from doing the things you really mean to do. I know that you would have been there with me if it hadn’t been for this thing with Russ. But I’m telling you now, Grady. I can’t do this on my own. I can’t fight a man like Cameron unless you’re there to help me. He’s not going to back off unless there’s someone there with me to make him see that he has to stop.”
Grady lightly touched her shoulders, “Jade, I’m sorry,” He spoke as he lightly cupped her cheek, “I’m so sorry.”
“Well you should be,” She chided as she met his eyes, “Do you know how terrified I was when I was all alone with Cameron? Do you have any idea how much I was hoping you might find me and get me away from him?” She asked as tears filled her eyes.
“Jade,” He said softly as his face filled with sympathy.
“But you weren’t there,” She shook her head as she pulled away from him. She held her head high, “I got through it on my own, but only because you made it necessary for me to do that.”
“I’m sorry, Jade. I never would have had you face him alone.”
“Oh no? Then why are you so hell bent on ignoring what’s going on with Cameron and us while single mindedly chasing after Russ? Russ is following his heart, Grady. He’s doing what feels right to him, and you need to respect that. You don’t have to agree with him, but dammit, he’s an adult and he can make up his own mind.”
“Can he? Did you see the way he was acting here? He just got rid of Avery and now he’s chasing after her? He’s just a glutton for punishment, and I want to spare him the pain I went through with Susan.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, Grady, Avery isn’t Susan, and Russ isn’t you. You need to let him do what he feels led to do, and you need to focus on your own love life.”
“Things are secure for me, but I can’t say the same thing for Russ.”
“You can’t say the same thing for you either,” She said boldly, “Because until you’re sober, I’m not talking to you,” She said as she turned and opened the door, “I’m going home, Grady.”
“Good, I’ll see you there,” Grady said with a nod.
“No, you misunderstand. I’m going to my apartment. Do you see how far you’ve pushed me, Grady? I’m going home to face Seth, and I know that when he sees me showing up he’s going to say I told you so. And I’d rather face him than you right now,” Jade declared as she turned away from him, closing the door after her exit as she made her way down the hall. The night had ended in heartbreak and confusion for so many people, and unfortunately for Jade, she counted herself as one of those people.
Gabe made his way through the house as most of the party guests had left the estate. He, however, wasn’t leaving until he got to have a few moments alone with Guy. He’d come to this party in order to make some progress, but apparently, making things happen with Guy wasn’t going to be as easy as making their business deals.
He untied his bow tie and allowed the ends to dangle loosely. He unfastened the top couple of buttons of his shirt in order to get more comfortable. He moved easily down the hallway towards the library as he spotted a light on at the end of the hall.
Gabe stepped into the doorway and leaned against the frame as he spotted Guy across the room. He smiled as he stepped inside and closed the door behind him, “Hey handsome.”
Guy turned from the French doors and glanced towards the door, “Did anyone see you come in here?”
“Would you relax?” Gabe sighed as he turned back to the door. He turned the lock before he approached Guy, “The door is locked, okay? We’re all alone, and no one else is coming in.”
“Why do you insist on pushing the envelope like this, Gabe? There’s so much at stake here,” Guy spoke as he turned back to look out the French doors.
“I’ve lived my life behind closed doors too long. I’ve forced myself to live by society’s perceived standards, and I made myself miserable by doing it. I’m not going to impose that punishment on myself anymore. I’m going to live my life, and I’m going to love you whether you’re prepared to deal with it or not,” Gabe declared as he spun Guy towards him and quickly drew him into a kiss.
Guy melted into Gabe’s kiss, wrapping his arms around him and holding him close. As their lips parted, Guy kept his eyes closed and held onto Gabe just as closely.
Gabe smiled as he lifted his hand to Guy’s cheek and used the pad of his thumb to trace his cheek bone, “I love you, Guy. I know you feel like you’re over a barrel right now, but I promise you that coming out isn’t as bad as you think it will be.”
“Gabe, you’ve met my mother. You’ve even heard her expectations of me. I’ve worked very hard to live up to those expectations,” Guy reasoned.
“But you shouldn’t make yourself miserable just to make your mother happy. You have to think of yourself some time, Guy. I know that you think she’d ostracize you, but she won’t. If she truly loves you, she’s going to accept you for who you really are,” Gabe met Guy’s eyes, “And when you do come out from those dark shadows you keep us hidden in, I’m going to love being the man at your side.”
Guy drew Gabe into a quick kiss, “It sounds like it would be nice, but things would never work out so easily.”
“They can, and they will. I’m not going to stop, Guy. I want to live my life freely, and I want to live that life with you. We can either live openly here, or we can go back to Europe. I know that your family means a lot to you so I’m sure you’ll want to stay here. I’m also sure that I’m not letting you go, Guy. I love you, and I’m going to stay right by your side.”
Guy closed his eyes and leaned against Gabe. Coming out of the closet would be the hardest thing he’d ever have to do, and he wasn’t sure he’d ever be prepared to take that huge step forward in his life.
“What the hell are you doing here,” Richard demanded stepping out of
the room as he saw Brant before him. Quickly closing the door behind
him as he refused to allow Brant access to Avery, his eyes narrowed with
“Where’s Avery? Someone told me she was in there and I need to see her,” Brant explained desperately, “please…”
“She doesn’t need your kind of hassle right now,” Richard argued with him, his voice growing darker by the moment, “My daughter’s been through more than enough tonight.”
“I know she has and I’m not here to add to that,” Brant promised a sigh spilling over his lips, “Look I know that you hate me and I can’t say I blame you as if I was in your shoes, I know any man like me would be the last thing I’d want around my daughter, but you have to believe me when I tell you that Avery means everything to me. I hate that she’s hurting and I want to help her…”
“Then leave her be. Let her work through this on her own because she doesn’t need you stepping in and manipulating her,” Richard argued with him, “My daughter is in no position to have that at the moment…”
“I can’t walk away…I won’t do it and regardless of what you think about me, I’m not going to let you keep me from her,” Brant declared his voice impassioned as the sound of Avery’s sobs on the other side of the door broke his heart, “While I realize that you’re trying to do what’s right by your daughter, I’m not going to let her lose herself in her misery. You can either sit here and argue with me, or you can let me in there so that we can both be there for her because that’s what she needs right now after what happened…”
“Brant, maybe you didn’t hear me right, but the truth to the matter is that I don’t really feel that you’re doing what’s best for my little girl because if you’d truly had her interests at heart, you wouldn’t have forced this party upon her. You wouldn’t have uprooted her life and made things worse for her after Bruce tried to kill her and you certainly wouldn’t have left these lies expand as they have…”
“Sir, I know you have no faith in my intentions for Avery, but the truth to the matter is that Avery is one of the only people in this world that I truly give a damn about and I’d do anything, absolutely anything in my power to make her happy and to take this pain away from her…even if it meant offering up my own happiness for hers.”
“Brant, don’t try to snowball me into letting you in to see my daughter. I’m well aware of where your agenda has been leading you and I’m not going to let you take advantage of the situation now that Avery’s hurting.”
“That’s not what I’m doing,” Brant argued with him, “Richard, I love her and I want to be there for her when she needs me.”
“She doesn’t need you to make a play for her or your attempts at persuading her to see your line of thinking. What she needs is someone she can trust--someone who won’t put anymore pressure on her.”
“And I can be that man,” Brant threw out at him desperately, “and if you give me a moment, then I’m sure you’ll allow me that chance.”
“I just don’t understand,” Avery sniffled as Judy took a seat beside
her, doing her best to try to soothe Avery’s pain as she felt an ache fill
her own heart at the situation, “Why would Russ do that to me? I
thought that he loved me…”
“Avery, I saw you two on the balcony earlier,” Judy confessed touching Avery’s hair gently, “I heard you talking about getting married…”
“I asked him to marry me,” Avery nodded thinking back, “I didn’t think that would happen for us again after last time, but then he came back into my life--pushed his way in even when I didn’t want him to. I tried not to love him--not to feel for him, but even now…” she sank back into the couch breaking up as her tears consumed her, “I still love him.”
“I know you do,” Judy tried to soothe Avery’s broken heart as she thought back to the moment in time when she’d felt love slip away from her so many years ago. Now as she ran her fingers over Avery’s dark tresses, she wished somehow she could find a way to change the way things turned out for the both of them--as if somehow love could find a way.
“He said he wanted to share forever with me--that he loved me, but then when he was with her…” Avery continued sinking further into despair as Judy touched her shoulder.
“I think he does love you,” Judy offered up at Avery looked to her in astonishment. Judy eased a damp strand of Avery’s hair from her face as she continued, “I saw the love between you both earlier and I felt it in the air.”
“Then why would he do this? Why would he wind up in bed with someone else when he asked me to run away with him? How could he do something like this when he swore to me that I was the only woman that ever truly mattered to him? If we’re supposed to have love between us, then why did things go so horribly wrong? How could love hurt so bad?”
“I wish I had the answers sweetie,” Judy hugged her as she tried to soothe the pain that consumed Richard’s daughter. She tried to think of something to tell her, some way to ease the situation, but she found herself at a loss as the mysteries of how something like that could happen consumed her.
It was over thirty years ago that Judy had wound up in the very same position Avery was in when Judy had encountered Brooke in Richard’s arms, but how could fate be cruel enough to come full circle on another couple who’d been so very lost in love? Judy knew very little about the man that Avery had given her heart to, but in those few short moments Judy had seen so very much in them that had paralleled her and Richard, but still…
“Judy,” Richard’s voice beckoned her as Judy looked up to find him standing in the doorway with Brant Ashford beside him. Almost immediately Brant stepped forward eagerly if not a bit cautiously as well as he looked to Avery.
“May I,” Brant questioned gently as Judy nodded rising to her feet as she saw the conflict building behind Richard’s eyes.
“Of course,” she stepped aside walking across the room as she touched Richard’s arm.
“How could this happen to my little girl?” he questioned painfully, “How could she hurt like this after she seemed so happy?”
“I wish I had the answers,” Judy sighed as she looked to Brant, who was now kneeling beside Avery, “but maybe we should give them a moment.”
“I don’t want to leave her alone with him,” Richard answered tightly still unsure about his decision to let Brant see Avery.
“We can wait just outside,” Judy promised urging him out of the room as she carefully closed the doors behind them leaving Brant alone with Avery.
Brant heard the soft clicking sound of the doors closing as he looked to Avery, touching her tear stained cheeks as her eyelids fluttered with sadness. Her dark eyes seemed to look beyond him as he touched her cheek gently.
“I’m so sorry,” Brant whispered hating to see her broken apart like this as he touched her. He’d never wanted to witness this kind of misery in her again, but after Russell and Heather had given the party quite an eyeful he knew there would be no avoiding the backlash.
“How could I be so stupid,” she questioned with a gulp closing her eyes again as if she was afraid to look at him, ashamed to admit to what was going inside of her as she turned away.
“You weren’t stupid,” Brant eased in beside her on the sofa reaching out to touch her shoulder, “You wanted to believe that Russell was a good man--that he was the man you used to love--the man you almost married, but you were wrong…”
“All this time he and Heather…” she trailed off as a shiver swept over her bottom lip causing her to tremble as Brant fought the urge to wrap her up in his arms forever and take her away from the pain.
“They were playing us both for fools and I should’ve known--I should’ve saw how they were trying to manipulate us and when I think of how I extended my courtesy to that man because I was under the misconception he was your friend--someone we could trust,” his tone darkened at the thought, “Avery, if I’d known what he was capable of--if I’d thought he was on Heather’s level, I never would’ve allowed him to get near you--to be around you…”
“Brant, you don’t understand,” she faced him again her dark eyes overtaken by sadness as she tried to explain.
“No, I do understand Avery,” he placed his index finger over her lips to silence her, “and it infuriates me to no end as I want nothing more than to tear Russell Denton apart limb by limb for hurting you like this.”
“Oh Brant, I just wish…”
“I know,” he tried to soothe her as her wounded eyes met his.
“I just want this to go away--for the pain to disappear and I want to be as far away from this as possible. I don’t want to hurt anymore,” Avery sobbed as he gave in to impulse and pulled her into his arms as her tears flooded over him.
“I won’t let anything hurt you ever again,” he promised as he bit back the urge to allow his anger to take over as her tears ate away at him, causing him to feel a twinge of guilt at what he’d felt before--of how he’d not stopped this before it got out of hand, but as he thought to the great lengths he’d gone to in order to rid Russell from Avery’s life, he saw that while he hadn’t started to eliminate Russell from her life sooner that he’d clearly been right on target. He refused to allow Russell to hurt her again and as he held her, he vowed to do whatever it took to make her misery go away--even if it meant taking drastic measures that he was certain would change their lives forever as nothing mattered more than giving Avery the inner peace and happiness she so desperately craved in her life.
Russell weaved through the crowd hoping to find Avery as he’d wanted
nothing more to explain, to reason with her although neither logic nor
reason could bring him to any kind of answers about the situation he’d
found himself in with Heather. He remembered going upstairs for Rusty--ready
to begin his new life with Avery, but then, well there was a blank until
he’d heard the sound of Avery’s voice pulling him out of the darkness that
surrounded him. Even now he couldn’t bring himself to think of one
reason he’d hop into bed with Heather Gibbons--especially now. Sure
there was a time when he might’ve thought Heather to be sexy--okay, so
she’d always been sexy in her own bitchy way, but it didn’t compare to
the ways Avery had captured his complete attention time and time again.
In having her, holding her, making love to her, Russ found himself feeling
complete for one of the first time in his life since Avery had left him
which was reason enough for him to never think about another woman again--especially
one like Heather. The last time he’d spoken with her, he’d been furious,
less than eager to speak with her anytime in the near future, yet now he
was expected to believe that he’d willingly jumped into bed with her. Something
didn’t add up and given the surprise that was evident in Heather’s tone
when Brant came onto the scene, well she didn’t seem aware of what was
happening either. He couldn’t have perceived that wrong, could he,
he frowned as his mind was nothing more than mush as none of that mattered
at the moment.
Right now Russell needed to find Avery and fast as the seconds would count against him the longer she was upset with him. He couldn’t bear the thought of having her angry with him as he needed her--needed to hold her and find a way to fix this. If he lost Avery… No, he cursed himself refusing to allow such a notion to overtake him as he continued down the corridor determined to find the woman he loved.
“What are you doing here,” Brooke demanded popping out from one of the rooms harshly as she stood before him blocking his pathway as her eyes darted up towards him.
“Get out of my way Brooke,” Russell warned continuing towards her as he refused to let her stand in the way of where he needed to be, “I don’t have time for this…”
“The hell you don’t,” she shoved her hand into his chest as her lips curled with disapproval, “I don’t know why you haven’t left yet, but you aren’t wanted or needed here.”
“I’m not going to argue with you,” Russell explained taking in a slow breath as he tried to move around her, but she matched each movement obvious in her quest to keep him from seeking out Avery.
“Haven’t you hurt my daughter enough? She doesn’t need a man like you destroying her life,” Brooke growled in response, “I told you a long time ago to stay away from her, but you couldn’t take a hint. Even now when Avery tells you to get lost, you still won’t listen to the obvious voice of reason.”
“Avery loves me and I love her,” Russell spat back at her sharply, “and as much as you’ve tried to stand in the way of that over our lives, I’m not going to let you keep me from her.”
“I’m not doing a damn thing as this time you did it all yourself,” Brooke threw back with a haughty laugh, “Honestly Russell, bedding that whore was no way to prove your love to my daughter, but then again I always warned her that your so called loyalty would dwindle off when you found yourself a cheap piece of ass…”
“I’m not going to stand here and explain myself to you or anyone but Avery,” Russell answered tightly as he shoved her aside and continued to stalk down the hallway hoping to find Avery.
“And what are you going to tell her,” Brooke spun around to watch him moving down the hallway before she lurched forward grasping on his arm as her nails dug into him, “that your love is going to keep her warm at night when you’re not shacking up with another more enticing offer? That you can give her the world as long as she doesn’t mind your infidelity and your lack of devotion?”
“I love her Brooke,” Russell tried to shake her off, “Avery is everything to me.”
“Then walk away. You’ve hurt her enough and tonight was just another means of destroying her. She’ll be better off without you,” Brooke urged him once more.
“No, you’ll be better off without me because you never wanted me in her life to begin with, but I have news for you Brooke, you can’t keep me from her not now, not ever,” Russell reached for her hand wrenching it off of him as her nails pinched at his skin and he winced.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Brooke released him suddenly as he took a step back feeling something solid behind him as he turned to see two oversized, gruff looking security guards before him.
“Is this the guy,” one man barked out at Brooke as she nodded emphatically.
“See to it that he’s removed from the grounds immediately as he’s trespassing,” Brooke explained throwing out an icy smile as the man reached for Russell.
Russell struggled elbowing the man in the ribs before darting off down the hallway as the other chased at him. A few moments later three other security guards appeared from the darkness using their strength to take him down and pin him on the ground as Brooke watched approvingly. Russell strained beneath them trying to break loose but as they slapped handcuffs on him, he found himself completely immobilized.
“Sorry about this, Mrs. Morrison,” one of the guards explained quickly as he motioned for the other men to pick Russell up off the floor, “You said that Mr. Ashford wished to press charges, correct?”
“That he did,” Brooke nodded watching the men haul away a reluctant Russell as his voice rose with anger, “and see to it that this is taken care of properly as this isn’t the first time this man has broken in here.”
“We’re sorry about that madam,” the man nodded apologetically as Russell kicked and bucked against the arms of the burly men carrying him out of the mansion.
“This isn’t over,” Russell shouted out in Brooke’s direction, “You can’t keep me from her, Brooke.”
“Oh yes I can,” she promised as her grin widened and she realized that this time she’d managed to keep Russell away from her daughter for good and it was in that instant that she’d felt a sense of pride wash over her as tonight she’d succeeded in making the impossible possible. Soon Avery would marry Brant and Russell Denton would be the last person to keep Brooke’s dreams of happily ever after for her daughter from happening. Life couldn’t be better, she mused taking great pleasure in watching the guards drag Russell away from the mansion. Victory was hers at long last and she was going to savor it as it was a long overdue moment in time and nothing could take away from the excitement it held for her.
Dorothy placed her champagne glass down as waiters moved to begin the cleanup after the hectic party. Considering the way Douglas had ran out the door after Kipp, things were just as hectic with Douglas as they had ever been. Thankfully, she had averted another disaster by cutting Douglas off at the pass where Jenna was concerned. Now that he knew the truth, however, there would probably be more pitfalls ahead of her.
She rubbed her temple as she moved out of the den, feeling a headache starting to throb deep within her skull. She closed her eyes and massaged the dull ache as she took a deep breath, trying to will the pain away.
“Mom, have you seen Douglas?” Jenna asked as she approached her mother, “I can’t seem to find him anywhere.”
“He rushed out of here after his son,” Dorothy replied as she opened her eyes to observe her daughter, “I guess he forgot about bringing you here tonight.”
Jenna frowned, “What did you say to him?”
“Jenna, don’t blame this on me. He was chasing after his son when he left,” Dorothy defended.
“But you said something to him, didn’t you? Mom, why can’t you just leave my love life alone?” Jenna groaned.
“Why? Because your decisions are clouded, Jenna. I can see things clearly as a third party, and I just don’t want you to get your heart broken, baby,” Dorothy said as she reached out to touch Jenna’s shoulder.
“Mom, I can make my own decisions. I’m a grown woman.”
“I know you are, but sometimes situations evolve beyond our control.”
“Look, I know you’re afraid that I’ll end up alone and heartbroken, but I’m not looking to get married and settle down right now. I’m involved with my career, and that’s what I need to focus on. As for love,” Jenna shrugged, “If it happens, great, but I’m not looking for it right now.”
“Really? Then why did you come tonight with Douglas Mahoney?”
“He was nice enough to escort me, and it was a way for me to avoid the advances of people I’d rather avoid,” Jenna explained as she met her mother’s eyes, “You didn’t have to frighten him away.”
“I did it for your own good, Jenna. One day, you’ll understand why I’ve done everything that I’ve done,” Dorothy explained with desperation, “But as for right now, why don’t you come home with me? We’ll go home, and we’ll have some herbal tea to relax.”
“Mom, herbal tea is not going to help this. You need to be honest with me.”
“Come on. Let’s go home,” Dorothy deflected her daughter’s demand.
Jenna nodded in resignation, knowing that she would get no answers from her mother tonight, but she vowed that she would get answers whether it was Dorothy or if she had to go directly to Douglas herself.
Douglas stepped off elevators heading towards Kipp’s penthouse as his
worries consumed him. He’d tried to reach out to Kipp after Kipp
had fled the mansion, but Kipp wasn’t taking his calls--wasn’t answering
his cell phone or home phone and that in itself was reason enough for Douglas
to fret. Granted he’d knew all along that Heather Gibbons was nothing
but trash, but to have Kipp found out in such a way was not only harsh,
but an eye opener that he’d imagined his son would be able to handle.
However, as Douglas had tried to reach his son again and again, he began
to realize that perhaps Kipp wasn’t ready for that kind of reality check
and in that moment of lack of communication between them, Douglas realized
he needed to reach out to his son more than ever.
Sure, Douglas had said quite a few things to Kipp over the last few weeks that Kipp wasn’t ready to face, but it was the truth. Though truth never seemed to hit home with Kipp as he’d had that same stubborn streak that had clearly come from Kipp’s estranged mother. After she‘d fled the country with her personal trainer leaving Douglas to raise his son alone, he‘d tried to more than make up for her absence. Granted Eliza hadn‘t been looking for more from Douglas than a ticket to stardom, much like Heather had done with Kipp, but Douglas had been smitten, completely infatuated with the idea of having someone to share his life with after Dorothy had disappeared, but still none of that had been important over the years as Kipp had been his primary focus. Sure, Douglas had tried to teach Kipp how to stand up for himself, to be able to read the signs of obvious deception and yes Douglas had been hard on the boy, but then someone had to be as if Douglas hadn’t tried to toughen him up, then something like tonight’s disaster would be the end of Kipp. Still as he thought to the pain in his son’s features as he’d lost his heart to that gold digging whore, he promised himself that somehow, some way he’d make it up to Kipp. They could talk about what happened and then, well, then Douglas would find a way to persuade Kipp into returning to Los Angeles with him and they could build on things from there as Douglas could find plenty of other women to help Kipp mend his heart. Yes, that was a splendid idea indeed, Douglas decided as he approached his son’s door hearing the booming sounds of heavy rock music bursting into the hallway vibrating the walls outside Kipp’s private place.
Douglas tapped on the door hearing the fierce thumping sounds of a band Kipp had listened to time and time again during his youth take over as a sigh spilled over Douglas’s lips and he knocked harder.
“Kipp, son open up,” Douglas urged hoping to reach out to his son, “We can talk about this if you just let me in.”
A moment of silence followed as the song changed and another heavy guitar rift overtook the hallway adding to the impatience that filled Douglas as he pounded his fist against the door, “Quit being impossible and acting like a child and open up right now, Kipp!” Douglas roared realizing his son was going to keep sulking unless he found a way to change that. “Don’t make me call to get someone up here and open that door because you know I will and then…”
Douglas found him words interrupted as a loud smashing sound pierced through the music offering up an abrupt silence as the stereo went dead and seconds later a thumping sound carried into the hall. As the heavy silence lingered over Douglas, he felt his stomach tied in knots as Kipp still wasn’t answering. Suddenly thinking to the way his son had looked before he’d run away from the mansion, a thought occurred to Douglas as there was another shattering sound. It was enough to cause Douglas to break his way through the door as he looked to the smoking stereo system as it had come to a premature ending. It appeared that someone had…
“No,” Douglas gasped as he rushed through the penthouse seeking out his son, but as he entered the bedroom only to have his fears confirmed as the deep shade of crimson surrounded Kipp as he hung over the side of the bed slumped over with a gun in hand.
“No!” Douglas rushed over to his son pulling him into his arms as Kipp’s blood soaked onto his tuxedo and he realized what his son had done, “No Kipp…” he pleaded struggling to pull his cell phone out and dial 911 as he placed his hand over the wound in the center of his son’s chest as he feared that he’d lost his son forever as Heather clearly had torn his heart out and Kipp had clearly given up hope.
“Please help…” Douglas spoke desperately to the voice on the other end of the line, “My son--he’s shot himself and there’s so much blood--please…” Douglas threw the phone aside unable to find a way to rouse Kipp as his body grew cold in his arms.
“Just hold on son,” Douglas whispered as he placed both of his blood soaked hands over his son’s chest praying that tonight’s chain of events would result in him losing his only son as it was too high a price for Douglas to pray for being right about the tramp his son had chosen to give his heart to. Now as he waited for help to arrive, he just prayed that there was some miracle out there for him as losing Kipp would certainly be the end of him especially now at a time like this when he’d had such high hopes of reconnecting with his son, but as Kipp’s blood poured out onto his hands Douglas feared he was too late as it seemed that nothing had stopped Kipp from putting an end to the misery he’d found himself in.