Diego stepped out of a room with a bright smile upon his features. It was always nice to see one of his patients finding happiness. Having visited a patient who had just given birth, he felt as if he were walking on top of the world. Sometimes it was the simple processes of life that could truly make a person appreciate all they had.
He stopped at the nurse’s station to make a notation on his patient’s chart. He liked to make the medical doctors aware of his patient’s psychological conditions whenever relevant, and it was never a bad idea to make the doctors aware that the patient had a psychological illness…even if it was just a touch of depression. He passed the chart back to the nurse before she nodded towards the nursery.
“Doc, could speak with that lady? She’s just been standing there staring at the babies for a while now, and she hasn’t said a word,” The nurse shrugged, “It may be nothing, but it’s a little scary, you know?”
“No problem. I’ll speak with her, Steph,” Diego smiled before he turned and made his way towards the blond woman. As he approached her, he realized he knew her…or at least was acquainted with who she was, “Heather?”
Heather stood motionless as she watched the babies through the glass window of the nursery. She hadn’t known where to go or quite what to do. She’d found herself in front of the nursery with no will to move from the very spot she’d solidified as her own.
“Heather, are you okay?” He asked tentatively as he observed her closely, “Heather?”
She couldn’t bring herself to reply. All she could do was watch the babies inside the nursery as tears filled her eyes.
Diego reached out to her, lightly placing his hand upon her shoulder. He frowned immediately, “You’re trembling.”
He turned her towards him as she looked to his eyes in question. He knew all the signs of shock, and she was without a doubt in the throes of a good case of it. He slipped his arm around her to steady her as he led her down the hall, “Come to my office with me, okay?” He asked in a very calm voice as he led her down the hall to the elevator. As they stepped inside, he watched as Heather dropped a hand to her abdomen and glanced down at her hand. He frowned, knowing that something had set her off. Now, he had only to figure out just what exactly it was.
When the elevator arrived on the psychiatric floor, Diego led Heather down the hallway to his office. He closed the door behind him as they entered his office and led her to his sofa. He sat down beside her and watched her closely, “Heather, can you talk to me?”
Heather slowly turned her eyes towards him as tears spilled down her cheek, “What am I going to do?”
“About what?” He asked as he plucked a tissue from nearby and handed it to her.
“I never wanted this. I never meant…Oh god,” She sobbed as she broke into full fledged tears.
“Heather, I want you to take a deep breath and let it out very slowly,” He urged her, “Why don’t we just start from the beginning, and you can tell me what this is all about.”
Heather wiped tears from her eyes with the tissue before she spoke, “I just found out…that I’m…I’m…” She paused as she tried to form the word that had shocked her to her core, “Pregnant.”
Diego nodded in understanding, “I take it you’re not pleased with the news.”
“I don’t know what I am,” She shook her head as more tears spilled forth, “I never wanted children. I never meant to get pregnant. I had been so careful. How could this happen?” She sobbed, “And now is the worst possible time.”
“Heather, you have options,” He spoke softly, doing his best not to make her feel pressured.
“No, I don’t. You don’t understand.”
“Then help me understand, Heather.”
She sniffled a bit and wiped her nose before she closed her eyes and began to speak, “Kipp shot himself, and now his father won’t even let me know how he is. It’s just…I never meant to get pregnant. In fact, it’s the absolute last thing I wanted. I was never in love with Kipp.”
“And yet, you’re worried about his well being. Perhaps you cared more than you knew?” He asked.
“I…” She shook her head, “I just don’t know. I guess…Well…”
Diego sensed her confusion as he placed his hand upon one of hers, “This baby…you know that you have a plethora of options before you.”
“I know that, but there’s only one for me. I’m having this baby. I may not have any other values that my mother passed on to me, but I believe in life,” She said before letting out a heavy sigh, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do when the baby is born.”
“You have plenty of time to make those kinds of decisions,” He assured her, “Right now, however, you need to be taking care of yourself.”
“No, right now, I need to be upstairs with Kipp. Maybe…maybe if I told him about the baby, it would give him a reason to fight for his life. Maybe…maybe it would give him hope…maybe…”
“You want to speak with Kipp?” He asked before answering his own question, “Of course you do,” He nodded, “Perhaps I can help you with that.”
“No one can help me with that. Douglas Mahoney isn’t going to let me anywhere near Kipp. He blames me for what happened. He’s not going to let me speak to him.”
“He might,” Diego suggested, “Especially since you’re pregnant with his grandchild.”
Heather paused as she placed her hand upon her abdomen again and looked down to where her baby grew inside her, “Pregnant…” She closed her eyes and tried to calm the restless pounding of her heart, “I’m pregnant,” She said as if to remind herself of the truth.
He watched her for a moment longer before he spoke, “Maybe you should take some time to come to grips with your pregnancy before you try to speak with Kipp.”
“No,” She opened her eyes and focused on the doctor, “No, I need to give him a reason to fight now. Later may be too late.”
Diego saw the urgency within her eyes before he nodded, “Then I’ll accompany you upstairs. Something tells me you’re going to need all the support you can get,” He offered as he knew she would be facing perhaps more stress than she could handle. If the news of her pregnancy had sent her into shock, a fight with Douglas Mahoney could only mean worse stress for her system as well as to her baby. Diego wasn’t about to let the situation get out of hand, if not for Heather’s sake, then for that of her unborn child.
Dave entered the his office while sorting through a stack of messages which had been waiting for him. He didn’t notice an occupant already filling his chair as she was hard at work. When he looked up from his messages, he frowned, “Don’t you ever take a day off?”
“I could ask you the same question,” Shannon replied, “I want to solve this case so I can get the hell out of this town,” She said dryly as she went about her reading.
“So why can’t you do whatever it is you’re doing in your own office?” He asked as he sorted through his messages.
“Because your office is nice and quiet back here, and besides that, you’ve got this nice little board all set up to make things easier for me. I just commandeered this office,” She shrugged.
“So what are you doing anyway?” Dave asked as he sat down opposite her and put his feet up on his desk.
“I’m looking through the facts of the original Mathis case along with the facts of our case. I’m trying to list all the similarities in order to make a profile for our killer,” She informed him as she pointed to the board which now had more pictures on it than Dave remembered.
“How long have you been at this?”
“Most of the morning,” She replied as she looked back to the file in front of her.
“So what have you come up with?”
“The two victims were both doctors…or at least they were both practicing medicine,” She said with a frown, “Because we don’t know who our victim actually is, we have no way of knowing if he actually had a medical degree or not.”
“Then there’s the positioning of the bodies at the scene. The method in which they were disposed of. The condition the bodies were in when found,” She shrugged, “These two murders are almost identical.”
“The original Bruce Mathis had some family and friends. Our doctor had no such connections.”
“What do you call Avery?”
“I call her the only person who knew anything about our victim other than the fact that he was a doctor and a generally boring person to be around,” Shannon said as she leaned forward onto the desk, “But there’s something else I haven’t quite been able to figure out.”
“Okay, I’ll bite. What haven’t you been able to figure out?”
“This,” She pushed a photograph at him.
“And what am I looking at?”
“A photo taken from the security cameras at the Cadillac Ranch.”
“Is there something I’m supposed to see in this photo?”
“Look at the tag on that vehicle.”
“Okay,” Dave nodded, “And?”
“A witness from the original murder said they thought they saw a vehicle with this tag number on the night of the murder.”
Dave frowned, “Why would anyone drive the same car to the second murder?”
“Good question,” Shannon nodded.
“This murder has been very smart up to this point. Why would our perp slip up and bring out this car?”
“Maybe he doesn’t know there was a sighting at the first murder,” She suggested.
“Or maybe he doesn’t care anymore,” Dave offered as he stood and pinned the photograph on the cork board, “Maybe he’s been spending his down time just simmering and waiting for a chance to explode with his rage.”
She focused her attention towards the board and nodded in agreement, “That theory would fit with the evidence at hand.”
“I think we need to go back to square one here. We need to trace our doctor’s past and just how he came to live in Coral Valley. There had to be some reason for his identity switch, and that may be the key to our perp’s identity.”
Shannon nodded as she glanced at the board, following Dave’s train of thought. Identifying the victim of a murder was usually the easy part of an investigation. In this case, however, nothing was at it seemed, and identifying the victim could prove to be the hardest part of all.
Avery inhaled a slow breath taking in the crisp clean ocean air as she
felt the tiny sting on her arm as the needle seemed to be less than friendly
in it’s invasion upon her body. She curled her lip in a pout as she
glared at the man before her, “Is this really necessary,” she demanded
harshly as he seemed to derive some kind of sadistic pleasure in drawing
her blood against her wishes.
“We just have to cover all our bases, Ms. Morrison,” the doctor explained with a rich mid-eastern accent as his piercing brown eyes returned to her once again, “as I’d hate to think that something happened to Brant’s bride to be and I wasn’t able to keep you on your toes. It could cost me in the long run.”
“I highly doubt that one as you’re one of the best we have on hand,” Brant placed his hand on Avery’s shoulder seeing the obvious disapproval in her eyes as the tube the doctor had taken from her was nearly full. The doctor finished with the first tube before opting to take another for reasons she was sure were just to set her off and irritate her more than spending the countless moments with Brant did while he was holding her hair back as she shamelessly spilled her stomach and then some over and over again into the toilet as nausea had given her something to remember on this trip.
“Ouch,” Avery winced as she let out an exaggerated whimper, “can you stop being so rough?”
“I’m not nearly are rough as you’re making it sound,” the doctor answered quickly finishing up with the tube in hand as he shook his head in Brant’s general direction. “She sure is feisty, isn’t she?”
“That she is,” Brant nodded in confession a tiny laugh spilling over his lips as the doctor joined in the laughter as if their words revealed some hidden secret boy’s club moment that Avery was kept in the dark about.
“I just don’t see why this is necessary considering that you said it yourself that this is just sea sickness,” Avery hissed up at the man who’d suddenly become number one on her list of current dislikes as his condescending attitude with her was suddenly becoming very tiresome as he’d long worn out his welcome.
“The reason this is necessary is because we’re doing this as a precaution,” he explained pressing a piece of gauge on her arm, “while I don’t believe this is anything more than sea sickness for you, there is a virus going around in those visitors coming in from out of the country and I’d like to make sure that you weren’t one of the unlucky few who’ve been exposed to it.”
“I already feel like one of the unlucky ones,” Avery curled her lower lip in a pout as she pressed the gauge down more firmly against her arm before wrenching it out of the doctor’s reach, “but it has absolutely nothing to do with the so called virus and everything to do with you.”
The doctor’s eyes widened in surprise as Brant quickly stepped aside motioning for the doctor to follow him out of the room as he explained apologizing for Avery’s words, “She’s had a very rough morning and we appreciate your coming over with such short notice.”
“Normally I’d say it’s been my pleasure, but…” the doctor glared over in Avery’s general direction, doing his best not to let his feelings on her temperament get the best of him in this moment.
“We’ve had a long morning,” Brant explained urging the doctor to follow him out of the room as Avery let out a harsh groan.
“You don’t know the first thing about a long morning,” she mocked Brant’s tone as another rush of queasiness passed over her. Placing her hand over her abdomen, she sank back into the pillows closing her eyes and feeling completely mortified and jumbled up inside as their ride on the yacht had turned into tropical misery.
“Hey beautiful,” Brant beckoned her breaking through her thoughts as Avery let out a low, guttural groan.
“I don’t feel beautiful right about now,” she confessed breathing in a slow, well thought out breath as she tried to still the war being waged inside of her. Anything to keep it from returning, she thought to herself as she felt Brant take a seat beside her on the bed. His finger tips ease over the smooth expanse of her shoulder as another tremor raced over her body sending chills rushing over her--only this time unlike those other times Brant had given her any kind of physical rush of anticipatory sensations, these were as close to melancholy as she could ever imagine as her body refused to accept any kind of contact.
“You already know how I feel on the topic as you‘re always beautiful in my eyes,” the sound of his voice rolled over her again, lulling her back from the misery she’d surrounded herself with.
“Brant, please…I think I’ve done enough vomiting for the morning,” she groaned inwardly, “You don’t have to add to this line of bull for me…”
“Avery,” he couldn’t help but smile as his eyes caressed her taking in every beautiful line of her appreciatively, “now you know I’m not trying to feed you any kind of line, although,” he paused an air of playfulness filling his tone as he maneuvered himself further onto the bed beside her, “I do have to admit while I’ve had very vivid, very erotic dreams of winding up in bed with you, they never quite came out just like this.”
Unable to control herself, Avery felt a laugh rise up in her as she forced herself to turn on her side in his direction. She opened her eyes, feeling the effort behind her lashes fluttering as her laughter rose with the moment, “Oh Brant…please…don‘t make me laugh…”
“Hey, you have to admit I’m getting one step closer to that goal of mine,” he settled in beside her stretching out as his eyes fixed upon hers. Lazily he reached out to touch her cheek, drawing a strand of her dark, silken hair around his index finger as his mood lifted with his words, “because here we are…in bed…together…”
“And if you even think about taking advantage of me, don’t think for a second that I won’t be strong enough to fight you off,” Avery reminded him harshly turning away from him as she fell back onto the pillows, “because I swear to you Brant, if you even try…”
“Avery, I had you all to myself in close quarters and if I’d wanted to, don’t you think I would’ve made my move by now if that’s really what this was about,” he offered arching a curious brow as her eyes returned to his.
“Brant, you’d have had some serious issues if you found my throwing up to be arousing there,” she remarked wrinkling her nose at the thought.
“And what if I had?” he threw back at her in a teasing tone, “what if I said while you were busy doing your thing, I was busy doing mine?”
“And just what might that be,” she questioned giving him a strange look as she tried to imagine what kind of sick perversions were going through his mind at such a tentative moment in her life.
“Well, I was thinking…” he paused contemplating his words before shaking his head in response, “never mind.”
“No, don’t do that,” she urged him as a frown touched over her lips, “I hate when people do that. If you’re going to start something, you may as well finish it.”
“Well I don’t know if that’s such a good idea considering that you’re feeling under the weather and…”
“Just tell me otherwise it’s going to bug the hell out of me,” Avery explained thinking of her inability to let certain things go.
“Knowing might leave you unsettled,” Brant offered in response.
“I’m sure it won’t be any more unsettling than where my imagination was going once you got talking,” she confessed thinking of all the twisted scenarios her brain had pushed upon her.
“Hmm, now that sounds interesting indeed,” Brant teased with a wink as he propped himself up on his elbow, “in fact, maybe we should skip over what I was thinking and go onto what’s inside your head.”
“You’d enjoy that far too much,” Avery countered giving him a sideways glance.
“Avery, you have no idea just how much I’d love to get inside your,” he paused with wicked emphasis, “head.”
“I can only imagine,” she shot back with an involuntary chuckle as the thoughts of all the other things of hers that she was certain Brant would love to find himself inside of flooded over her. Suddenly the laughter died down as an altogether different kind of heat rushed over her features.
“Oh judging by that look on your face, I most certainly want to know what’s on your mind now,” Brant teased watching the color rise over her features.
“Too bad I’m not up to divulging anything along those lines with your or anyone,” Avery reached for the blanket drawing it up over her body.
“Hmm…avoidance…” he pretended to think it over scratching his head, “well that’s something…however I’m sure once we try to get to the heart of matter…well it’ll be worth the wait as I’m sure you are…”
“God, do you ever not think about sex,” Avery groaned in response unable to contain her reaction to his words.
“I didn’t say anything about sex,” he pointed out simply, “You were the one who turned this conversation onto the subject--not that I’m complaining, but still… It would seem that very topic is in your subconscious mind and hey if you’d like to explore those thoughts with me, then the floor is yours for discussion.”
“You wish,” she mumbled rolling her eyes in response as she finally found the strength to face him, “Brant, why don’t you just stop beating around the bush and tell me what it was you were thinking before you give me reason to lay you out flat on the floor for where you’re heading with this?”
“Hmm…you sure you want to do that? I’m sure you could have me flat on my back right here if you’re prone for that position right about now,” he chuckled dodging her swinging fist before he raised his own hands in the air in surrender, “okay I’ll stop…”
“You’d better,” she warned giving him the evil eye as his expression turned suddenly serious.
“You really want to know what was on my mind?” he began after a moment’s hesitation.
“I believe that’s where we started on this conversation five minutes ago,” she nodded in response, “well?”
“Well, the truth is that when we were together in that bathroom, well I know you weren’t having one of your finest moments, but it gave me time to think about a few things…”
“Oh?” she lifted a curious brow.
“That’s right,” he nodded appreciatively, “in fact, the whole time we were in there I was thinking a lot about the situation we were in.”
“I hope you didn’t strain yourself in overworking that muscle in your head there,” she couldn’t help but tease as she took note of his expression.
“Oh I’ll give you,” he reached out towards her as though he was going to tickle her, but he stopped short as his hand dropped to the blanket once again, “I’ll have you know that while we were in there together I was thinking about how lucky I was.”
“Come again,” she blinked back at him.
“It’s true,” Brant continued his voice laced with hints of passion, “I mean here I am in the middle of paradise with the most irresistible woman in the world and we were there together sharing a moment that I’m certain you would’ve just as soon kept from experiencing with another person…”
“That’s putting it mildly,” she scoffed back.
“Even so, as I sat there holding you, trying to comfort you and support you when you were in a moment of vulnerability--in a moment where you needed me despite your protests, well it proved to me just how right we are for one another.”
“My vomiting brought you to this epiphany?” she questioned in confusion, “Brant, clearly you’ve got a lot more going on inside that brain of yours than I gave you credit for. Perhaps when we get back to Coral Valley I can give you the name of a good shrink.”
“Avery, I’m being serious.”
“So am I,” she insisted thinking of his words, “I don’t see how you could get all that from my being sea sick. It’s just…well, it’s demented.”
“Or maybe it’s a clear cut sign of devotion,” Brant threw back at her reaching out to touch her cheek, “I mean I can tell you that I never, ever would’ve done that with another woman.”
“That’s refreshing…I think,” she offered uneasily as his finger tips traced over her cheekbone.
“Avery, I’m trying to be open and honest with you here,” he reminded her with a scowl.
“Forgive me if I don’t find my heaving as a moment in time to have an emotional breakthrough,” Avery answered with an open admission, “it’s not exactly the kind of times when I’m doing much more than praying for the moment to pass.”
“Even so, when we were there together, it only solidified my belief that you and I are the right combination. We’re so perfect for one another and the way we fit together, well it’s amazing…”
Avery watched him for a long moment before wrinkling her nose, “Brant, were you inhaling some kind of paint fumes on your way over to the yacht?”
“Avery, would you stop joking for a minute,” Brant chastised her, “I’m trying to work my way up to something…”
“Brant, I really haven’t had the best of days and I don’t think that now is the time to say something that I’m going to have to kick your ass for later…”
“How do you know it’s going to be like that? I mean maybe I’m going to say something you can appreciate for a change…” he offered up to her doubtful demeanor.
“Don’t strain yourself,” Avery felt a smile tease over her lips as he teased the tip of his finger over her bottom lip.
“This time it comes easily,” Brant whispered inching in towards her as her eyes widened in surprise.
“Avery, just listen,” he breathed as he bridged the distance between them, his dark eyes filled with something she couldn’t quite read as he continued, “I think that today was a great starting point for us and maybe just maybe you’ll find a way to see that and then well, then we can work on what happens next…”
“Next?” she gulped in response as he nodded eagerly.
“And what might that be?” she questioned feeling the heat of his body inching in towards her.
“That my dear would be the moment in time when you fall madly in love with me and you welcome my heart as it’s yours when you want to accept it,” Brant explained matter of fact as he dropped a tender kiss over her forehead.
“Brant, please don’t say such things…” she began uneasily as her stomach was tied in knots once again.
“You can’t ask me to stop following my heart Avery and my heart tells me that you’re the one,” Brant continued determination surrounding his words as he gazed upon her, “I’m going to have you as my bride one day and the more you open yourself up to the notion, the better off we’ll both be.”
“Brant, I just spent the morning heaving and drowning in more misery than you can imagine, so pardon me if I’m not feeling this same romantic high that you’re seemingly on at the moment…”
“You will,” Brant skimmed his thumb over her bottom lip gingerly, “and when you do, we’ll be feeling it together as we’re going to be that incredible, Avery.”
“Brant, I just wish you’d see that…”
“I see everything I need to see in order to know that one day I’m going to make you mine, Avery Morrison. In time you’ll see that,” he promised reaching out to her much to her surprise.
“Brant,” she opened her mouth to argue with him when she felt a wave of defeat rush over her as she realized she wasn‘t in the mood to argue the point with him any longer. After a few moments of silence she spoke up again, “I can’t believe you got all of that out of my throwing up this morning.”
“Well, that was the gist of it,” he began to curl his arm around her before a teasing grin swept over his features, “that and well the fact that you really have some great curves there as I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more appealing behind in all my years as I was so tempted to reach out and just...”
“Oh you,” she groaned feeling the weight of his words upon her as she shoved him in the center of his chest pushing him off the bed with a resounding thud.
“Hey what was that,” he voiced in protest looking up from where he’d fallen on the floor.
“That was your cue to leave before this turns ugly,” she replied quickly as she glared down at him.
“I happen to think things were going well just now,” Brant answered in protest.
“You would, which is all the more reason for you to leave,” she explained matter of fact as she watched him pull himself up off the floor dusting himself off mid-movement.
“Fine, I’ll let you rest for now, but don’t think this conversation is over because it’s not,” he promised blowing her a kiss before walking out of the room as Avery sank back into the blankets with an exaggerated groan.
“As if I could only be so lucky,” she muttered under her breath realizing that regardless of how she felt in this moment in time, she’d have to find a way to keep herself on high alert as clearly Brant Ashford would prove to be anything but relaxing as he had an agenda in mind and if Avery wasn’t careful, she might find herself the latest mark on Brant’s hit list in more ways than she’d ever imagined possible.
Jade closed the door to Russell’s room behind her as she stepped into the hall. She had no idea how she would ever lie to Grady and his parents, but she knew that Russ needed time to follow his heart. Despite the precarious situation it placed her in, she would do her best to make sure he had the time he needed.
She slowly made her way down the hall and into the family room where the Dentons sat with Grady. She took a deep breath as she steeled herself for the questions to come.
“So how is he?” Grady asked as soon as he spotted her.
“He’ll be okay. He just needs a little time,” Jade assured them all with a smile. It wasn’t a lie. Russ really would need time…just probably not for what they all had in mind.
“So he spoke to you?” Cheryl asked with hope filling her eyes.
“Yeah, he did,” Jade nodded as she sat beside Grady, “He’s still confused about what happened last night, and I can’t really say I blame him.”
“What’s there to be confused about? He shagged a model,” Grady blurted out.
Jade rolled her eyes as she chose to ignore Grady, “I think Russ just needs some time to think things through. When he can reconcile himself, I think that’ll be when he’s ready to come out.”
“I just hope it’s soon. I’m worried about him,” Cheryl said as she glanced down the hallway towards Russell’s room.
“He’ll be fine,” Jade assured them.
“I don’t see what there is to be so upset about. He got rid of Avery. Big deal,” Grady grumbled.
“Would you stop that? That is not going to help anything,” Jade chided as she glared at him, “Russ needs your support right now, not your condescension.”
“I’m not condescending to him. I just wish he’d see that things aren’t nearly as bad as you’re making them out to be. He’s a free man now.”
“Oh really? Is that what you thought when you nailed Thea? That you’d be a free man?” She snapped as she met his eyes.
“Now that was an entirely different situation,” He began to defend himself.
“No, actually it wasn’t. You were drunk and not thinking clearly. Same thing with Russ. So why can’t you cut him some slack?” Jade demanded.
“It’s not the same thing. I didn’t want to get rid of you,” Grady countered.
“And Russ didn’t want to get rid of Avery either. He loves her whether you want him to or not.”
“He’s just chasing a dream. She will never make him happy.”
“Really? And how can you be so sure of that?”
“Look at what she’s done to him in the past.”
“And look at what you’ve done to me, Grady. You’re not exactly the most innocent man in the world. So don’t stand there and act like you know what’s best for Russ. You can’t live his life for him. He needs to follow his heart, and you need to stand back and allow him the space to do that,” Jade warned.
“But I don’t want him to be hurt.”
“And Seth doesn’t want me to be hurt either, Grady. So I guess that puts you two in exactly the same irrational place, doesn’t it?” She rolled her eyes as she glanced around the room and noticed his parents had left them, “Where’d your parents go?”
“Probably to the hills for safety since we started going at each other here,” Grady frowned, “Jade, I just wish you could see where I’m coming from.”
“I do, Grady. I understand that you love your brother, and you only want the best for him. But I also know what it’s like to be the younger sibling. I know what it’s like for an elder sibling to look at your life and tell you that every decision you make is stupid and impulsive. You need to back up and realize that Russ can make his own decisions. That’s what it takes to make a person truly happy. It’s what I have to do, and I’m sure it’s the same for Russ.”
“Okay, Jade,” Cheryl spoke as she returned to the room, “You have some explaining to do. Where’s Russ?”
Jade frowned, “I guess you know then, huh?”
“Oh yeah,” Elliot nodded as he joined his wife, “She went to check on him, and he wasn’t there,” He said calmly as he took his seat once again, “I’m sure he’s off following his heart.”
“He really is,” Jade nodded.
“Where is he?” Grady asked.
Jade heard the frustration in his voice as she turned to face him, “He’s following his heart. He’s doing what he feels he has to do in order to make himself happy. Can’t you understand that?”
“Not where Avery’s concerned, no,” He answered bluntly, “He’s gone to see her, hasn’t he?”
“Yeah, he has.”
“Dammit,” Grady said as he stood.
Jade matched his stance and blocked his path, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m going to stop him,” He answered boldly.
“Like hell you are,” She declared as she placed her hand in his chest, “This is none of your business, Grady. Stay out of it.”
“No!” She raised her voice as her eyes blazed with determination, “You’re not going to stand in his way. I love you, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let you ruin your brother’s chance at happiness.”
“She’s going to make him miserable!” Grady decreed.
“Seth says the same thing about you and me,” Jade spoke as she met his eyes, “You need to live your own life and get your own life under control before you start trying to tell Russ how to live his.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Grady bellowed.
“Time out!” Elliot shouted above them all, “Everyone sit!”
Jade and Grady stared at one another for a moment with their mutual anger boiling under the surface. After a silent moment had passed, they both sat back upon the sofa.
“Jade’s right, Grady,” Elliot held up his hand to stop his son from speaking, “Russell’s life is his own concern, and you need to be focused on yours. While Jade shouldn’t have kept the truth about Russell’s whereabouts from us, I’m sure Russ swore her to secrecy,” He said in understanding as he flashed Jade a reassuring smile before continuing, “Right now, Russ has enough problems without having to fight you too. Stay out of his way, Grady.”
“But Dad…” Grady began.
“There are not buts here,” Elliot finished as he met Grady’s eyes, “I know you’re feeling that stubborn Denton burn in your belly, but if I find out you’ve upset your brother, I’ll make damn sure you don’t get away with it. Understood?”
Grady frowned, “Why do I feel like a kid again?”
“Because your father tends to put his foot down rather firmly,” His mother offered with a supportive smile, “Grady, I wish there was some way we could convince Russ of what we know to be true, but when someone is in love, they tend to wear rose colored glasses. Maybe if he tries to do this on his own, he’ll learn that Avery can’t make him happy.”
“But I hate for him to have to learn the hard way, Mom,” Grady sighed.
“I know. I do too,” Cheryl wrapped her arms around herself, “But sometimes it takes learning the hard way to know what your loved ones already knew.”
Elliot reached out to his wife and gently drew her into his lap. He held her close as he looked to his son, “Now can we trust you two not to kill each other on this issue?”
“Yeah,” Grady nodded.
“The jury’s still out,” Jade said as she glanced at Grady out of the corner of her eye, knowing that their fight was a long way from over but it would have to be continued at another place and time.
Russell made his way into the Ashford mansion with one goal in mind--finding
Avery and making her see how they were meant to be with one another, but
as he entered the room where all hell had broken loose the night before,
his heart sank as the misery of the moment washed over him. He turned
his attention to the unmade bed thinking of the nights he’d held Avery
in his arms, but as those thoughts were suddenly replaced by the ones of
her finding him with Heather, his heart sank and it was in that moment
he decided not to allow himself to sulk as his happiness with Avery was
far too important for that. Turning his attention to the door leading
out into the hallway, he drew in a slow breath hoping he could find the
strength to do this--to find her and take her away with him at any cost,
but as he began to chart out his determined path the door opened and he
found himself face to face with a very surprised Blake Ashford.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded once the initial shock of the moment passed over her, “How did you get in here?”
“That’s not important,” Russell dismissed her questioning as the only subject of any relevance was finding Avery and taking her home where she belonged.
“The hell it isn’t,” Blake’s eyes narrowed with obvious agitation as she stepped forward.
“Look Blake, I really don’t have time for this,” Russell threw back at her quickly, “I need to have a word with Avery and I’m not leaving until she leaves with me.”
“From what I heard about last night she doesn’t want to have a thing to do with you,” Blake stated matter of fact folding her arms in front of her chest, “and if you don’t leave right this instant, then I swear I’m going to call the police and…”
“Go ahead,” Russell dared her, “You do that if you feel you need to, but I’m here to see Avery and that’s all there is to it.”
“Not that it’s any of your business considering what a low life you are,” she wrinkled her nose at him, “but Avery’s not here.”
“You lie,” Russell remarked quickly scanning the room as he saw Avery’s things still scattered around, “I know she’s here somewhere and your brother can’t keep me from her…”
“My brother can and will do what he needs to in order to keep you and your slut girlfriend from ruining his and his fiancée’s life,” she answered flatly, “and after what you did here last night with Heather Gibbons, you’re most certainly not welcome here. Neither one of you are for that matter.”
“Look Blake, I don’t know what pack of lies your brother has tried to feed you, but last night wasn’t what the world thinks it is,” he began to defend himself before shaking his head dismissively, “oh hell, I can’t waste my time doing this with you now. I need to find Avery,” he decided pushing past her as Blake tugged on his arm stopping him mid-movement.
“You’re not going anywhere buddy.” Blake insisted raising her voice as her eyes glared up at him, “You don’t belong here and I’m not going to let you or anyone else come into my home and make a mess of our lives because I know your type well and I won‘t let you ruin my brother anymore than you already have with Heather…”
“Excuse me,” he blinked back at her in amazement, “Blake, I don’t know where you’re coming from, but you don’t really have the first clue about what your brother is doing in keeping Avery away from me, do you?”
“He’s obviously doing her a huge favor,” Blake scoffed tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder, “because you’re clearly insane.”
“I’m insane?” Russell couldn’t help but give her a sideways glance, “This coming from a woman who lied about the man she craved in an attempt to keep him from his family and for what?”
“Get out,” she demanded stomping her foot as she shoved him out the doorway, “you don’t belong here.”
“Oh yes I do,” Russell’s voice rose with passion as he tried to keep himself under control, “Your brother can’t keep me from Avery and if thinks for one second…”
“Brant mentioned that you’d been giving him problems, but I guess he didn’t imagine you’d stoop to this,” Blake replied sharply, “Just get out of here and make this easy on yourself. We all know about you and Heather and neither one of you are going to get what you want out of my family.”
“I could give a care less about your family,” Russell answered flatly, “but what I’m here for is preserving mine.”
“Come again,” Blake gave him a strange look, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Your brother is with my fiancée,” Russell blurted out determination swelling up inside of him as he marched out into the hallway, “and I won’t let him keep me from her.”
“Oh boy,” Blake groaned realizing she had yet another lunatic on her hands as she chased after him, “I’m giving you to the count of three and then…”
“Then what?” he spun around to face her, “What are you going to do? Have your brother come out and get me,” he waved his hands wildly in the air, “Go ahead and do it. In fact,” he scanned the hall before raising his voice, “Brant, where are you? Come out here and face me…Avery…” he moved along the hallway, “Avery, please…we need to talk…”
“I already told you they aren’t here,” Blake insisted chasing after him.
“Look I don’t know what Brant’s put you up to Blake, but maybe you’ll understand the desperation behind the situation,” Russell replied spinning around to face her, “Brant is with my fiancée and all I’m asking is for a chance to see her…I need to speak with her…”
“Avery is Brant’s fiancée,” Blake reminded him sharply.
“No, she’s not and it doesn’t surprise me that Brant’s lied to you about that considering he’s not up to facing the reality of the situation…”
“The only one stuck in some kind of land of delusion is you because the world knows that my brother and Avery are getting married,” Blake insisted with a tiny huff, “You were at the party last night. You saw what went on…”
“I saw what Brant wanted the world to see, but that doesn’t change what’s happening with Avery and I. Blake, as hard as this might be for you to grasp, Avery and I are in love. We were going to run away with one another last night,” he struggled to get her to see where he was coming from as his desperation grew with each passing moment, “Blake, the ring she was wearing last night…that was my engagement ring. She doesn’t plan on marrying your brother because her heart belongs to me…” he lifted his hand to show her the ring Avery had given him, “We belong together and you have to tell me where she is. I need to be with her.”
“What you need is therapy,” Blake answered unable to believe what he was telling her as she shook her head dismissing his words, “Avery is in love with my brother and they’re going to be married.”
“No they aren’t. Blake, Avery and I have been in love with one another from the moment we first met,” Russell offered in response, “We’ve spent our lives together--waiting for the time when we could be husband and wife and as much as your brother wants to keep that from happening, we belong together and I need to find her. Look I know that you have no reason to go against your brother for me, but I also know that you believe in love--that you know what it means to feel for someone and have that bond with them…” he searched for the key to winning her over as he moved quickly through the mansion realizing that there may have been some truth to her words.
“This is crazy,” she marched down the stairs after him as he continued his ridiculous search, “You’re crazy…and that doesn’t give you a right to be here…”
“Ask Caitlin,” Russell spun around to face her, “She’ll tell you about Avery and I…”
“What?” Blake blinked back at him, “What are you talking about?”
“Caitlin knows that Avery and I are in love. She’s seen us together and she knows my heart,” Russell pleaded with her, “Blake, I have to speak with her. I know you love your brother, but please…I can’t just let Avery walk out of my life without a fight…”
“My brother loves Avery and she loves him,” Blake repeated firmly as Russell stepped forward approaching her.
“No, she loves me,” he proclaimed reaching out to her.
“Don’t touch me,” she snapped in response as she felt a gust of wind rush over her and in a matter of moments she watched Russell being dragged away from her.
“Hey,” Russell began as the man who’d grabbed him quickly opened the door and tossed Russell out onto the porch before he turned around to face her.
“Seth,” Blake gasped finding herself looking up at the man she’d felt so connected to only a short time ago. Once again he’d stepped in when she’d needed him and as if he’d known she’d been in a tense situation, he’d appeared and found a way to assist her.
“Are you alright,” he rushed over to her reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “Did he hurt you?”
“No,” she shook her head quickly thinking of Russell’s words as Seth pulled her into an embrace, “I’m fine.”
“Thank God,” he hugged her tighter as she seemed to welcome the embrace, “When I heard him carrying on, I was so afraid that he’d done something to you…that…”
“Seth,” she spoke his name again inhaling the welcome scent of his cologne before the warning bells went off in her head and she remembered the horrible lies he’d told her about her father. While Russell Denton was delusional to say the least, Seth had been far more vicious in his attack on her family and for her to be embracing him, well it put her in a precarious position--one she’d never intended to fall into again and in that moment, all logic took over and she balled her fist out punching him right square in the stomach as her voice rose to a shriek, “Don’t you touch me. Don’t you ever touch me!”
Douglas stepped into the intensive care unit and approached the room where Kipp lay. He opened the door to the room and slowly stepped inside as he caught his first glimpse of his son since the emergency room.
Kipp lay amongst the pale blue sheets, a mere ghost amongst the, in comparison, vibrant color of the linen upon the bed. The tubes leading to his intravenous fluids lay in what appeared to be a tangled mass. A tube led from a machine to his mouth where a tube was inserted to provide him with the ability to breathe. Dark circles surrounded the orbits of his eyes while small strips of tape kept his eyes closed.
Douglas choked back tears at the sight of his son in such a desperate state. He’d never imagined there would be a day when he’d see anything so heart wrenching outside a movie set. But here it was in painful living color.
He moved closer to the bed and moved a stool nearer to the bed as he slipped his hand under Kipp’s and lightly lifted the limb off the bed. He gently squeezed his son’s limp hand. He held Kipp’s hand close to his cheek and pressed a kiss to his hand.
“Kipp, son, it’s me. Daddy,” Douglas said desperately, needing to let his son know that he was with him, “I’m right here with you. I’m not going to leave your side. I’m going to be here with you, and we’ll get you through this.”
Douglas eased his fingers over Kipp’s forehead, brushing wisps of his son’s unruly hair from his skin, “Things will get better. You’ll recover. Then we’ll leave this town, and we’ll never look back. I’ll make sure that you’ll be happy, Kipp. I know I haven’t been the kind of father you needed, but I desperately want the chance to try to be. Please give me that, Kipp. You have to heal, and get stronger. Then we’ll make sure that all of this just becomes a bad memory of our past. So you just focus on getting better, Kipp. That’s all you need to do right now, baby boy,” He said as he lost the fight with the tears he’d been fighting.
Cameron stood outside the room, watching the scene from the glass windows. He crossed his arms as he thought of the new plan taking shape within his mind. He was not only going to have his father’s revenge on the Ashfords, but he would have his own against the Mahoneys.
Annette continued to pace around the waiting area as she thought to
her dog going into surgery. While the vet had done her best to assure
Annette that the procedure wouldn’t by anything to worry about, the mother
in her still took control as she tried to think positive thoughts about
“Hey,” Joseph beckoned her bringing her back from her thoughts as he motioned for her to take a seat beside him, “you’re going to wear a hole in that floor if you don’t take a moment to just relax.”
“How can I do something like that when my Peanut is in there,” she sighed slumping down beside him as she turned her eyes to Rusty. Unable to resist the urge to reach out to him, she gently pet his ears, “I mean after all this time, I never imagined that she’d do something like this. Granted she’s been spunky, but she never struck me as the kind to do something like this…”
“Children do tend to give you a run for your money,” he reached out to touch her knee supportively, “Believe me I can tell you horror stories about parenting…”
“I’m usually good with these kind of situations,” she confessed watching Rusty stretch out over Joseph’s lap, “I mean there were countless times when Brant or Kenneth found themselves in situation like this and Blake, well that girl always wound up in an emergency room one way or another, but still with Peanut…”
“I know, it’s not the same,” Joseph nodded in response, “but I’m sure that Peanut will pull through and think twice about eating another piece of jewelry.”
“That’s just it,” Annie frowned, “I mean I guess I understand to a point how Peanut might eat something she’s not supposed to, but how in the world did she get Avery’s engagement ring and more so how am I going to begin explaining that one to Brant and Avery?”
“I’m sure that will be the least of their concerns at a time like this as Peanut is a very vital part of the family.”
Annie smiled at the thought, “She’s certainly had her share of good times with the kids.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Joseph smiled in response as she leaned into him.
“I remember one time when Blake had gotten ready for a winter ball at school, she was so excited about the day as she’d finally found the perfect red satin dress after weeks of shopping around,” Annette remembered fondly as she looked to Joseph, “Once she’d found that thing, well she’d done everything in her power to keep it from any kind of situation where it could get dirty or wrinkled, so naturally she’d had high hopes for the dress. Then at long last the day had arrived and when it finally came time for Blake to put on that dress she hadn’t worn since the day she’d purchased it, well she went upstairs into her room only to discover that Peanut had also taken to the dress and she’d found a way to tear it to shreds in her playtime. At first I’d thought Blake was going to lose it--to really be overcome by misery as that dress had been the centerpiece of her big plans, but here it was all her hard work had gone down the tubes when Peanut decided to get into trouble.”
“So what happened?” Joseph questioned curiously as Annette’s smile widened.
“Blake decided that she’d wear something else and instead of getting upset about it, she decided that the dress wasn’t right for her after all as it had been the perfect dress for Peanut,” Annie remembered fondly, “Later that weekend, Blake decided to make the most of the situation and she turned the remains of the bed into one of the most spectacular dog beds anyone has ever seen. Peanut’s red satin sleeping quarters are still one of her favorite places in the house and Blake couldn’t be prouder of herself for the innovative thinking on her end. To this day she swears that the bed for Peanut was far more incredible than what she would’ve done with the dress.”
“It sounds like Peanut can turn around a situation even if it looks hopeless,” he noted with a soft smile.
“I suppose she can even if she tends to create the trouble herself,” Annie sighed leaning into him as she thought to her companion.
“And I have no doubts in my mind that this will be no exception to that as Peanut will find a way to make the most of this and turn this into yet another one of those stories that you can share in a moment of joy,” Joseph offered up in response.
“I sure hope so,” Annie confessed praying that somehow her long time pet would pull through the surgery with flying colors as Peanut had far more time on this world as there were certainly more adventures ahead for the both of them. Now as she tried to focus on Rusty and Joseph, she felt a hint of a smile touch over her lips. Reaching for Joseph’s hand she offered up a light squeeze and spoke up again, “Thank you.”
“For what?” he questioned gently.
“For making this situation easier on me,” she replied simply, “I don’t know what I’d do without you at a time like this.”
“I’m just glad I could be here to help,” he answered with a shrug of his shoulders, “if you can even consider this to be helping.”
“It is more than you know,” she confessed watching as Rusty seemed to be in a state of total bliss in his lap. Somehow while she’d overlooked Joseph Hastings all these years in her attempts to stay focused on the children, she began to wonder if maybe just maybe Peanut’s latest adventure was the key to getting her to open up her eyes to the possibilities between the two of them. Surely now was not the proper time to be thinking about it, but perhaps when this ordeal was over, she would have to find a way to thank Joseph for his support as it was certainly the least she could do, she thought with a smile as she pondered what the future could hold in store for them.
Guy finished up getting ready after his less than savory encounter with
Cathy. While he hadn’t anticipated his trip to Coral Valley to be
this eventful, he certainly hadn’t banked upon his mother trying to set
him up with the one woman on the planet that he was certain wouldn’t have
raised his interest if his life depended on it. Okay so maybe that
particular thought didn’t hold as much weight as it could for other men
who’d found themselves in that kind of situation, but for Guy, he really
couldn’t find one reason to feel anything but sorry for a woman like Cathy
and for his mother to actually believe that he’d want someone like that,
well it only reminded him that clearly his mother’s emotional wear and
tear was getting to her. With that thought in mind, he reached for
his keys doing a quick once over of Avery’s apartment as he prepared to
spend some time with his mother at the mansion, but before he could make
his way out the door, he heard a knocking sound.
A frown touched over his lips as he moved to open the door half expecting Cathy to show up once again with her latest and ‘greatest’ confectionary delight, but much to his surprise and somewhat relief, he found his mother standing on the other side looking highly agitated.
“It’s about time,” Brooke huffed pushing her way into Avery’s apartment as her words flew out, “I was worried that I’d missed you and after the day I’ve had, well the last thing I wanted to be doing was running circles around this godforsaken town while your father is out with his whore making a mockery out of our marriage over and over again just for the sheer delight of having me endure the shame of his actions. Why if I didn’t know better I would imagine that he’s trying to kill me--trying to ruin me not only on a personal, but professional level as you know the tabloids are most certainly loving his latest indiscretions,” she paused taking a moment to scrutinize her surroundings as her nose wrinkled in disgust, “Ugh, your sister desperately was in need of a makeover isn’t she?”
“One thing at a time, Mum,” Guy sighed pushing the door to a close as he followed his mother into Avery’s living room, “Now why don’t you have a seat and I’ll make some coffee for us.”
“Well, I’d rather us not do this here as your sister’s taste leaves a lot to be desired, but then again thinking of how she spent her youth defying me,” Brooke plucked away at one of the toss pillows on the couch as she shook her head with heavy disapproval, “I mean really what was she thinking in buying this sofa?”
“I have no idea,” Guy made his way into the kitchen ready to get himself prepared for the latest problem his father has pushed upon his mother as she continued to rant ignoring his response to her words.
“I’ll tell you what Avery was thinking. She was thinking of how much I would hate this thing,” she accentuated the word, making it sound like the most offensive thing that had ever crept over her lips as a soft groan filled in her throat coming out more like a low roar as she reluctantly patted at the cushion, “as your sister is only concerned with making me miserable just like your father is. I swear between the both of them I’m going to come to an early grave and…”
“Mum, just take a moment and slow down,” Guy returned to his mother’s side feeling her apprehension and anger getting the best of her as he coaxed her onto the sofa, urging her to take a breath as he sat down beside her, “Why don’t you start from the beginning?”
“Oh Guy,” Brooke began with a heaving sob, “It was just awful. Today when I was looking for your sister, well your father had the audacity to sit there and refuse to share with me what he’d done with her. He wouldn’t let me comfort my baby girl in her time of need after that hoodlum and his tramp found a way to ruin her and Brant’s special night and then to make matters worse, your father had his whore come to the mansion once again and the two of them paraded around as though what they were doing wasn’t wrong--as if all my years with him meant nothing--” she broke down into tiny sobs as Guy reached out to her embracing her tenderly.
“Mum, why do you put up with that,” he questioned with a heavy sigh, “Why do you allow him to put you in such a position when you could find so much happiness elsewhere?”
“I devoted my life to your father--I spend my best years being a good wife to him and a good mother to you and your sister and the last thing I want is for some hussy to come prancing in and take away what’s mine,” she continued with an exaggerated breath, “When I think of all those times when I’d worked so very hard to give your father a good home--a good life--the kind of family that any man could want, well it just seems so unfair for my to have to allow him that kind of freedom to just walk away from it when I’ve given him my all. I should be able to take more from my marriage than what he’s giving me…”
“Which is precisely why I told you that you shouldn’t have to deal with what he’s doing. Mum, why put yourself through this day in and day out when clearly he’s not worthy of you? You can do so much better than a man who lives to make you miserable,” Guy explained with a heavy sigh, “I just wish you’d see that.”
“Oh Guy, I wish it were that simple, but the truth to the matter is that even with all his faults I love your father,” Brooke turned her eyes up towards her son as she offered up another sniffle, “From the moment I first laid my eyes upon him I knew he was the one and he felt it too. We were destined to be together and sometimes in love, well there are circumstances where there are difficult periods, but when you give your all, eventually there is a payoff…”
“I’d like to believe that to be true, but in the case of you and Richard, well I’m having my doubts as he was never the husband you needed,” he argued with her.
“Yes, he may have turned your sister against me and poisoned her mind,
but all in all there is a part of him that loves me as I love him and he
knows that we belong together,” she explained with an emphatic sigh, “and
the more he tries to make me miserable with this small town hussy he’s
prancing around with, the more he’s trying to get me to react. He
wants me to prove my love for him and do something drastic to show him
how much he still means to me…”
“That doesn’t sound like love to me,” Guy began to argue with her.
“You’ll understand when you find the right woman in your life,” Brooke reached for his hand squeezing it gently as her tears faded and a hint of a smile pressed over her perfectly lined lips, “Speaking of which, tell me did you get a visit from Ms. Ashley this morning as she was so determined to find you?”
“As a matter of fact I did,” Guy sighed as he sank back onto the sofa, “and Mum, I understand what you’re trying to do, but it really isn’t necessary. I already explained that…”
“I know what you said, but Guy a man of your great many attributes shouldn’t be spending his nights alone when there are plenty of women in the world who would love a chance at winning a place at your side,” she began ready to launch the same tired speech that Guy had been dodging for months.
“Mum, I already said that work is…”
“Work is only one part of your multi-faceted life and I can assure you that finding someone to share yourself with is very rewarding and in the long run will make you feel so very fulfilled…”
“Like you feel with Richard?” he lifted a skeptic brow.
“Now that is entirely a different situation and you know it,” she frowned in response, “although there was a time when I felt extremely fulfilled with your father. There were moments in time when he made me believe I was the luckiest woman alive and it was in those moments, we found our way to romance and it was simply amazing.”
“Mum, even so, those few moments weren’t worth the misery that you’re going through now. Even you have to admit to that.”
“On the contrary, it is because of those moments that I keep fighting to save the family I have,” Brooke confided solemnly, “I’ve worked very hard to see to it that my husband and my children had the best of everything and I won’t stop until I see to it that dream happens for them.”
“My dream of happiness doesn’t involve getting married at the moment,” Guy began desperately, “and after having you try to set me up with Cathy…”
“Cathy is from good upbringing,” Brooke piped in eagerly, “Why her father is the same Marc Ashley who is founder and CEO of Temptation Enterprises.”
“Really?” Guy’s eyes widened in response as he thought about the pesky blonde who’d practically assaulted him.
“That’s right and while you might’ve failed to make the connection, I haven’t,” Brooke touched his shoulder gently, “and considering how complementary our companies could be to one another, well I can’t see it hurting for you and Cathy to spend some time with one another…”
“I suppose that I hadn’t thought about it that way, but truly she’s not my type,” Guy began again hoping to find a way to persuade his mother away from her idea of a love connection.
“How can you say such a thing? I mean granted you might think you’re not looking for romance, but perhaps it’s looking for you and Cathy is a wonderful specimen of woman for you. She’s beautiful, bright and eager to please that special man in her life…”
“You have no idea,” he muttered under his breath thinking of Cathy’s shameless display.
“What was that,” Brooke questioned giving him a sideways glance.
“Nothing,” he shook the thought before turning to face her, “Mum, what I’m trying to tell you is that right now this isn’t a place in my life where I’m seeking out the right woman. I’d really rather concentrate on what I’m doing at Beholder as that is top priority…”
“And you don’t think that spending time with Cathy wouldn’t be some kind of help for you in that arena? Why the things her father could do for us on a professional level…”
“Mum, I’m not going to date some corporate CEO’s daughter just so that Beholder can gain a few stock points. I have no qualms about where our company stands and you’ve done far too incredible on your own without your having to lean upon any other business in the industry. If Temptation Enterprises wants to do business with Beholder, I think it should be because of the reputation we have and not because your son is dating the head of the company’s daughter. That way Beholder can keep it’s integrity about it to say the least.”
“Son, I’m not saying that you have to marry the girl, but you could at least try to spend some time with her. Certainly you can see that she has some good qualities about her and maybe if you stop being so stubborn about how you’d like to spend your free time, you could warm up to the idea of having Cathy around…”
“Mum, I think it would be best if you stopped worrying about me and started thinking about yourself,” he squeezed her hand gently, “as I can assure you that I’m happy with where I am right now…”
“Guy, you can’t fool me. I know when you feel as though you’re missing something from your life and the idea of your not being able to have a lady companion at your side, well I can see that you need something to fill that void--someone who makes you happy…”
“Mum, I…” he rose to his feet feeling himself overwhelmed by the pressure she was putting on him.
“I’m just saying seeing as…” she continued to ramble on as Guy paced around the room struggling to find the right words. Slowly he turned to face her drawing in a breath as he curled his fingers into his pant leg straining to keep his voice even as he prepared to offer up a truth to his mother that he’d fought for so very long.
“Mum, just stop…” Guy interrupted firmly as he faced her, his eyes looking down on her. “Please just let me have a minute here…”
“Guy,” she paused noting the seriousness in his features, “what’s wrong?”
“There’s something I need to tell you,” Guy began drawing in a slow breath, “I’ve wanted to say this for a long time, but I haven’t found the strength until now, but I can’t keep this to myself any longer…” he finished ready to face his biggest fear as he anticipated her reaction to the secret he’d harbored for so very long.
Ken stepped into the restaurant with Caitlin at his side. As the host began looking for a table to suit the couple, Richard raised his hand to gather their attention.
“Ken, why don’t you two join us?” Richard waved for them to join them.
Ken led Caitlin to the table and helped seat her beside Judy before he took his own seat, “How’s Avery doing? I heard a small bit of what happened last night.”
“I wish I knew, Ken. Your brother took her away somewhere, but I have no idea where. He said she’d be safe and secluded where she could have time to deal with everything that’s happened,” Richard shook his head, “I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”
“I can,” Judy said somberly as she swirled ice cubes within a water glass.
Caitlin glanced to Judy, “Why do I feel like that’s a personal experience talking?”
“It is,” Judy frowned, “And it was very similar to what happened last night.”
“I’m sorry,” Caitlin said softly, “I didn’t mean to pry. Sometimes my reporter’s instincts just get the better of me.”
“No, really, it was a long time ago,” Judy assured her.
“So what exactly did happen? I gather that Avery caught Russ with Heather?” Ken frowned, “That just doesn’t sound right.”
“Well, as wrong as it sounds, it was even worse for Avery to witness. I hate to tell you this, Ken, but my daughter is not in love with your brother,” Richard blurted out.
“I know,” Ken informed him, “But Brant does care about her. If she was hurt by Russell, I have no doubt in my mind that Brant would want to take her somewhere she could rest and relax and heal.”
“Any idea where that might be?” Richard asked eagerly.
“Yeah, I do have an idea, but it’s a private island,” Ken answered.
“Just tell me where it is, Ken.”
“Richard, why don’t you let me go instead? You and Brant don’t exactly get along, and I’m sure Avery wouldn’t benefit by you and my brother fighting,” Ken began, “I can let you know how she is, and if I think that her staying would make things worse, I’ll bring her home myself and to hell with my brother.”
“Ken, I can’t ask you to do that.”
“You didn’t,” Ken replied, “Richard, please. Let me try to figure out what exactly is going on. If there’s one thing our family knows about, it’s drama. I can promise you that we also know how to handle it.”
“I’m just so worried about her, Ken. Avery probably doesn’t even know what’s going on herself,” Richard said with a frown.
“Then I’ll to remedy that situation,” Ken said as he looked to Caitlin, “Got a passport?”
“You want me to come with you?” Caitlin asked in surprise.
Ken nodded, “I’ll need your support if I’m going to go head to head with Brant. Besides, you and Avery seemed to connect before, and I’m sure she could use a friend.”
“Are you sure? I mean…I don’t want to intrude,” Caitlin said shakily.
“You would never be intruding,” Ken said as he met her eyes, “Please, Caitlin. I need you to help me do this.”
Caitlin gently touched Ken’s cheek before she nodded, “Okay, I’ll go. When do we leave?”
“Tonight. The sooner we get there, the better,” Ken announced.
“Okay,” Caitlin nodded, not quite sure how she’d gotten herself involved in an Ashford family drama, but she figured she’d regret it in the long run no matter how it had come about.
Seth felt the wind knocked out of him as he saw the pain behind Blake’s
eyes. He could feel the raw hatred behind her stare as his heart
ached--yearning to reach out to her and make that misery go away as she
placed more of a distance between them. He stepped forward, watching
her take one step back as she repeated her words tightly.
“Don’t come any closer,” she warned in a sharp hiss, “I mean it.”
“Blake, please…just hear me out,” Seth pleaded with her as he raised his hands in the air, hoping she’d welcome the gesture of surrender, “You can’t avoid me forever.”
“Seth, what part of it’s over, can’t you understand?” Blake demanded feeling the tears build behind her eyes as she spoke to him, “You’re a horrible, horrible man and I don’t need you coming in here and trying to ruin my life over again.”
“Blake, if you’d just hear me out…”
“I heard all I needed to hear the other night when you told my those lies,” Blake’s tears escaped her eyes as her heart raced with the vivid memory of his evil words, “I hate you.”
“Please, don’t say that,” he begged of her reaching out towards her, “Blake I love you and I need you…”
“You don’t love me,” she shouted back as her voice rose with each tear trailing down her features, “You never loved me as all you wanted to do was work to destroy me. You thought I’d be the key to helping you take down my family, but you were wrong. I won’t let you destroy us…I won’t let you and Cameron…”
“Blake, I’m not working with Cameron…you know that…”
“I know that you’re a manipulator and a liar. To say such horrible things about my father…”
“Blake, it was the truth,” Seth pleaded with her as he tried to reach out to her, “I know the way I said it--the way I told you was wrong and if I could take that moment back, I swear I would do it. I’d do anything if it meant I could spare your heart…”
“Then admit to the fact that you lied. Tell me that you only said those things to hurt me--to destroy my heart--that you did those horrible things because of your animosity towards Grady. You were upset and when I pushed you for the reasoning, you lashed out on me…you took it out on me by creating those lies and…”
“No Blake,” he shook his head poignantly, “they weren’t lies. As much as I wish they were, the truth to the matter was that your father ripped my sister’s innocence from her.”
“Liar!” she screamed bringing her hands up over her ears in an attempt to block out his words as he moved in beside her reaching out to her.
“Don’t you see how much I wish that take that moment in time back,” he placed his hands on her arms straining to find a way to get through to her as he held her much to her body’s bucking protest, “Blake, you have no idea how badly I wanted for the past to keep from destroying our future…”
“No,” she broke into tiny sobs trying to block him out as she tried to turn away from him only to feel his arm curl around her body, “no please…”
“Blake, you have no idea how much I fought with myself about falling in love with you after everything that happened. I didn’t want to open myself up to the possibilities of what we have with one another, but then you found a way into my heart. You made me love you and I do love you more than I ever dreamt possible…Blake, you’re everything to me and I’d do anything to erase the past for you and for Jade…”
“No…” she repeated feeling herself breaking down completely as he squeezed her in his arms.
“Blake, I love you,” he repeated his voice tight with passion breaking on his words as her tears tore him up inside. He felt her melt against him as her tears soaked through his shirt. Instinctively, he curled her in against him, feeling her tremble in his arms as he closed his eyes savoring the moment between them as he wanted nothing more than to prove to her how much she’d held his heart, “I love you…” he kissed the top of her head as her tears just about did him in.
“No you don’t,” she argued with him despite the way her arms hugged his body to hers, “you don’t love me. You’re a liar.”
“Blake,” he reached out to her touching her tear stained cheek as his thumb brushed against her soft, silken skin. He wiped at her tears for a moment before cupping her delicate face in his thick hands. Slowly he urged her to meet his eyes as he ached to go back to the way things once were between them--to have her look at him with the same adoration that once lit her up with hope and happiness, but as her sadness swept over him reaching down into the heart of him, he found himself drawn to her lips, to her irresistible mouth as he brushed his lips over hers gently. She whimpered upon contact, but as his arms slid around her waist, he felt her succumb to the kiss, throwing her arms around his neck drawing her nearer to him as her tears continued. Slowly, he caressed her mouth, tantalizing her with the tenderness behind each gently stroke, every soothing moment of the union between them as the soft vanilla scent of her perfume sent his senses on a whirlwind reminding him of all the reasons their love was worth fighting for. He’d wanted this for so very long--waited to reach out to her and now that they were next to one another again…
“Stop,” Blake pushed him away as she stumbled backward bringing her hands up over her chest in an attempt to keep the distance between them, “Please just stop…”
“Blake, I love you,” he began to approach her.
“Just go,” she pleaded with him, her eyes filled with tears of agony as her lower lip quivering as his kiss haunted her and she found herself in a further state of turmoil the longer she remained beside him, “please…”
“Blake,” he began to reach out to her, feeling her brush beyond him as she fled up the stairs refusing to acknowledge him any further. He placed his hand on the railing ready to chase after her, but stopped short as his heart sank and he realized that while there had been some faint glimmer of hope between them, he was no where near where he’d needed to be in order to regain her trust again. Suddenly nothing but finding a way to reach out to her seemed relevant as he realized that anything Cameron had waiting for him couldn’t possibly be any worse than the look in her eyes when Blake had pushed him away. Sure he’d needed to save Jade--to find a way to fix the situation, but he refused to do it at Blake’s expense. One way or another he’d have to reach her, but as he heard her slamming the door upstairs he thought to the reality of their situation, he wondered if they could ever truly move beyond the nightmares of the past.
Jenna tried to still her racing pulse as flashes of the near disaster
with Hart played over in her mind again and again. How could she
even think about allowing things to get so out of control with him, she
cursed herself over and over again as she wanted to crawl out of her skin
and knock some sense into herself. Honestly, had she been that hard
up for attention that she’d had to sink to such horrible levels to achieve
it? She was starting to question her own sanity as she contemplated
going up to one of the offices to speak with a therapist…though she could
only imagine how foolish she’d sound explaining to a psychiatrist that
her libido had nearly lead her to a man that had worked so very hard to
help ruin her life. It almost seemed too crazy a notion at that as
she realized that she had to find a way clear her head and avoid Hart Steiner
at all costs. That being said, she vowed to bury herself to the job
at hand, but first, she decided she’s make a little detour as she found
her mother over by the nurse’s station looking rather distracted.
“Well mom, it’s a surprise to see you here still,” Jenna blurted out in a questioning tone as she leaned in against the counter offering up a scrutinizing eye as her mother faced her.
“Jenna, I didn’t realize you were still here either,” Dorothy began at a loss.
“I didn’t imagine you would, although I had some research to do for a case I’m working on,” Jenna stated simply as she continued to watch her mother, “but that doesn’t explain why you’re still here.”
“Well I was just taking a moment to check in on someone I knew that had been brought in…” Dorothy began as the lie spilled from her lips.
“Really?” Jenna tilted her head doubtful of her mother’s words, “then I’m sure your pal would be highly disappointed to see that you’ve been spending your time with the likes of Douglas Mahoney when you’re so concerned about their well being huh?”
“Jenna, I don’t have the first idea what you’re talking about,” Dorothy backpedaled trying not to get any indication of what was happening with her and Doug.
“Oh I just bet you don’t,” Jenna replied unconvinced, “Considering I saw the two of you together.”
“Jenna, I don’t know what you think you saw…”
“I saw you with one another in an embrace which brings about the question of why?” Jenna demanded with a scowl, “You were so insistent upon my staying away from him, so why is it that you’re now suddenly cozying up to a man that you couldn’t bear to have speaking with me?”
“Jenna, it’s complicated,” Dorothy stammered a bit struggling to come up with some feasible explanation for the situation.
“Then uncomplicated it,” Jenna demanded with a huff, “I mean clearly you were very worried about my spending time with him, so why the about face?”
“I felt sorry for the man after his child had been hurt,” Dorothy offered in response, “to think of having to endure something like that on your own, well it doesn’t seem quite right…”
“Yet when I was trying to comfort him, you were ready to attack him…”
“That was before I knew what was going on Jenna, but now that I see what was going on…” Dorothy began.
“You just felt compelled to alleviate your guilt by cozying up to the man?” Jenna shook her head in response, “I seriously doubt that one, so why don’t you start telling me what’s really going on as it’s obvious that you said something to him the other night--something that’s changed the way he’s been around me and I want to know what it was exactly that you did.”
“I didn’t do anything and for you to think of something like that, well it makes me very disappointed in you,” Dorothy replied with a frown, “To think you could even dream up some kind of situation where I’d step in and interfere with your life…”
“You do it all the time which is why I have no doubt that you said something to Douglas, so why don’t you just spill it and tell me the truth before I get it from Douglas?”
“Jenna, there’s nothing to tell.”
“Fine, then I’ll ask him myself,” Jenna marched forward seeking out Douglas as Dorothy tugged on her arm once again.
“Don’t you even think about it. That man is going through enough and he doesn’t need your hassling him about something that isn’t even there to begin with,” Dorothy decided firmly hoping to stop Jenna from seeking out the truth.
“Oh I’m pretty certain that it’s there because I know that look in your eyes. There’s something you aren’t telling me mom and I deserve to know…”
“Jenna,” Dorothy began as she took in a slow breath knowing full well that her daughter’s curiosity knew no boundaries or limits. As Dorothy struggled to seek out some kind of reasonable explanation for what was happening, she realized that she had only one option. Now as she prepared herself what was ahead for her, she wondered how far she’d be willing to take things as the words fell from her lips, “fine. I’ll tell you everything starting now.”
Heather stopped outside the intensive care unit as the butterflies in her stomach churned. She’d never been nervous in her life, and now wasn’t the time to begin such a stupid behavior. Why should it be so hard to march in and demand to see Kipp? Perhaps because her entire world had changed in the instant she’d been told she was pregnant.
She felt Diego’s presence at her side and was oddly appreciative of his support. While normally she would have rebuffed his offer of help, today she felt as if his help was the only thing in the world she could hold onto. Still, it wasn’t enough. She knew that nothing would be enough to make her secure in facing Douglas Mahoney.
Diego eased his hand over Heather’s shoulder, “Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“No, but to be honest, I think I have to,” She felt a shiver travel down her spine as she thought of how Douglas would react to her presence much less the news she had to deliver.
“You don’t have to force yourself to do this, you know? You can take some time.”
“No, Kipp doesn’t have the luxury of time like I do,” She let out a slow breath, “I can do this,” She reassured herself before she pushed open the door to the ICU and stepped inside.
Douglas stood outside Kipp’s room, staring in through the window while the nurses were inside attending to his son’s need. He dropped his head, attempting to relax the tense muscles of his neck. When he raised his head, he caught sight of Heather’s approach. He immediately went towards her, “You have a hell of a lot of nerve coming here!”
“Douglas, please, just hear me out,” Heather pled as she held up her hands to halt his approach, “Please, this is important.”
“You have nothing to say that could possibly be considered important,” Douglas seethed with anger, “I want you out of here.”
“I need to see, Kipp,” She uttered out as she felt a sob reverberating through her, “Please…I have to speak with him. I have to tell him..”
“You have nothing to say that he needs to hear,” He snapped at her, “You are the reason he’s in this situation. You did this to him, and by god, I’m not going to let you finish the job by killing him.”
“Douglas, I’m pregnant,” She blurted out as she tried desperately to read his eyes, “Don’t you think Kipp should hear that…from me?”
“Why would he need to hear you say anything about some bastard child of yours? You’re a slut, and he doesn’t need to hear about your filthy spawn,” Douglas sneered.
“Mr. Mahoney,” Diego stepped forward, “I’m Dr. Diego Hernandez. I’m a psychiatrist here at CCR. I understand your son is in a coma.”
“That’s right,” Douglas said as he met Diego’s eyes, “And what does that have to do with you?”
“I just want all parties concerned here to find peace,” Diego began, “I know Ms. Gibbons is very upset, and she’s only asking for a moment’s time with your son.”
“A moment’s time is more than she deserves. It’s her fault that he is in this coma. She could have just pulled the trigger herself,” Douglas snapped, “I don’t know what kind of sob story she’s sold you, Doctor, but she’s a common slut, and I want her as far from my son as possible.”
“Please, Douglas,” Heather cried, “Just a few moments…it might give Kipp the will to pull out of this.”
“And it might send him completely over the edge. I’m not going to send you in there with him. You’re a ticking time bomb, and you’ve wounded him more than enough already,” Douglas seethed before he looked back to Diego, “I’m going to make this real simple for you, Doctor. You either take her out of here the easy way, or I’ll have security do it my way.”
Diego frowned as he turned back towards Heather, “Come on. This isn’t going to work, and we need to make sure you’re taken care of.”
“But…I just need to talk to Kipp,” Heather broke down in tears, “Please...Douglas…please.”
“Heather…come with me,” Diego urged as he led her out of the intensive care unit.
Cameron smiled as he watched the scene unfold before him. He moved out
of the shadows and crossed his arms, “Well, let’s see just what you’ll
do in order to have those few moments with Kipp, Heather. Let’s see if
you’re really ready to do anything it takes to see the poor little rich
boy,” He grinned to himself as revenge had never been so near before.