Episode Eight

Russell entered Grady's office before Dorothy closed the door behind him. Russell approached his brother's desk as Grady finished a phone call. He took a seat across from Grady while looking around the room, wondering why Grady was all worked up.

Grady hung up the phone after a moment, "Russ, thanks for coming."

"From the tone of your phone call, I gathered something was seriously wrong," Russell spoke as he observed his brother, looking for some clue as to what was going on.

"My life is so screwed up," Grady admitted, "Why is it that the women who mean the most to me are the ones that I'm always on the verge of pushing away?"

"Is this about Jade?" Russell asked, knowing the answer would have to be yes.

"Partially," Grady admitted as he turned in his chair, "I took her home yesterday, and.." He trailed off.

"Did you finally give in to her?" Russell asked with some hope in his voice.

"No, I most certainly did not."

"Well what the hell is the matter with you, man?" Russell asked as he stood and shook his head, "You've got a beautiful woman who wants you and is probably the least complicated of any woman you're ever going to meet. And what do you do? You run like crazy. What the hell is wrong with that picture?"

"Russell, she's young enough to be my daughter."

"And you're acting like a monk. Why don't you just sleep with Jade and join the real world again? Since Susan left, you've been acting like a real schmuck," Russell said, referring to Grady's ex-wife.

"What is wrong with you?" Grady asked as he watched his brother move about the room.

"What's wrong with me? I'll tell you what's wrong with me," Russell declared as he slammed his hands down upon Grady's desk, "You have a beautiful woman right in front of you, and you're just letting her get away. There are others in the world who will take her in the blink of an eye," He declared, "And they will take advantage of all she is."

"Why do I get the feeling you aren't talking about Jade at all?" Grady asked, feeling his brother's agitation thick within his office.

"This is absolutely about Jade. You're an idiot if you don't grab her while she's there. There could always been an Ashford waiting around the corner to put her through hell with the guise of better things."

"Okay, I'm confused. What the hell does this have to do with the Ashfords?"

Russell frowned as he stepped away from the desk, "Brant is trying to work his many charms on Avery."

"Avery? Well, there's a name from the past," Grady spoke as he leaned forward upon his desk, "So how'd you find out about Brant's hang up on her?"

"She told me," Russell confessed, "We were actually talking at the hospital the other night when you and Brant almost came to blows. She broke up with Bruce, and now Brant's going to do everything he can to get her into bed."

"And why should you be worried about Avery?"

"I can't believe you've even asked that question," Russell said incredulously.

"You told me over and over again that one of the reasons you and Avery didn't work out was that you are both more stubborn than two people should ever be. So don't you think she can handle herself in any thing Brant might throw her way?"

"I can't believe you're defending him."

"I'm not defending him. Not even close, but Avery? Yeah, I'll defend her. I really don't think you have to worry about her."

"I have every right to worry about her," Russell declared as he sat back across from his brother, "She admitted to me that she's tempted by Brant."

"Then, you'll have to let her make her own mistakes. She's not going to change her mind about him one way or the other."

"You can't honestly be suggesting that I just let her screw up her life."

"I'm just saying that Avery is going to do whatever Avery wants to do. It's who she is," Grady shrugged.

"Well, I can't just let her feed herself to that piranha," Russell declared before he met his brother's eyes, "And as for you, you should stop being an ass about Jade and just accept that you want her. It won't be the end of the world if you sleep with her."

"So now we're back to Jade?" Grady asked with a frown, "Russell, I can't take advantage of her."

"Would you stop saying that? You wouldn't be taking advantage of anything. She wants you. You want her. I really don't understand what your problem is."

"My problem is that we work together, and I'm supposed to be her mentor."

"This isn't about Jade at all. It's about Susan, and the fact that you two worked together before you were ever lovers. Well, big deal," Russell grumbled, "You two were good for a very long time. You can't just write off the rest of your life because of one relationship. So you and Jade work together. Who cares? Work together, sleep together. It's not like that's going to be some big scandal."

"Russell, I just don't want to risk it. Jade and I work great together, and I don't want to risk breaking up the great working relationship we have."

"Well at least you're admitting part of what's wrong with you."

"What are you babbling about now?"

"You're afraid, and it doesn't have a thing to do with work. You're afraid of being hurt again."

Grady paused, understanding what his brother was saying. He nodded, "Yeah, I suppose I am."

"I know you were torn up when Susan left, but Jade isn't Susan," Russell grinned, "Hell, she's not even close. She's her own woman, Grady, and she could be yours too. All you have to do is put your own fears aside," He groaned as his cell phone pinged in his pocket. He took out the device and glanced at it, "Voice mail. I swear sometimes I wish these things were never invented," He mused before listening to the message Heather had left for him. When the message was complete, he hung up his phone as he made his way to the door, "I've got to go, Grady, but I'm telling you…don't let Jade get away," He said before he ducked out.

"Great advice there, Russ. Really helpful," Grady frowned as he turned in his chair, wondering if there was some way to make things work with Jade.


Avery stepped up to the front door of Steven Davies’ estate, oozing with confidence as Brant stood behind her ready to turn this meeting into nothing short of victory.  Her confidence had been boosted over in the jet ride and now as she prepared to seal the deal with Davies, she realized that nothing less than success would work for her.  Her thoughts were drifting over the impending meeting as she felt Brant’s palm press over the curve of her spine and she glanced over her shoulder throwing him a warning look.
“Don’t distract me,” she offered simply an icy smile touching over her lips, “because I’d hate to be less than the best here today.”
“By all means, work your magic Avery,” Brant stepped aside as the large polished wooden door opened and Davies’ butler stood before them.
“Ms. Morrison, Mr. Ashford,” he nodded politely, “Mr. Davies is expecting the both of you,” he opened the door wider allowing them access to the lavish estate.
Avery took in a breath ready to finalize the details of the deal before them as she took a survey of Davies home.  While he’d been quite eccentric over the years in his business dealings, his home was rather quiet and traditional.  It had a certain sense of eloquence that seemed to accompany those with money to spend.  Sure, she’d give him credit on a great many things when it came to style, but his sense of style was not in question today.  It was more so a case of proving that his investment at BBK would be worthwhile and profitable.  So very much was riding on that temptation of increasing his already flourishing fortune.
“Mr. Davies is out by the pool,” the butler explained leading Avery and Brant towards the back of the estate.
“This place is like a museum,” Brant whispered from behind her as he touched her waist slowing her down a bit to talk to her as the butler lead them through Davies home.
“That’s rich coming from you,” Avery rolled her eyes slightly, “I was starting to think that once you’ve been in one mansion, you’ve seen them all.  It‘s the carbon copy design for the rich and shameless.”
“I think I’m offended,” Brant shook his head simply, “my place is no where near as uninviting.  I‘d like to say that my home has far more character.”
“Hmm, well you know considering that Davies is said to be eccentric, then perhaps his home is also equipped with mirrors on the ceiling of his bedroom for those times when he’s ‘entertaining’ guests,” she rolled her eyes before throwing out a teasing smile.
“Hey, now you’ve never been in my bedroom,” Brant feigned insult as his gaze swept over her, “though if you play your cards right, I’d be more than willing to give you the grand tour very soon.”
“I bet you would,” she groaned inwardly.
“You’d find it’s quite nice,” Brant mouthed as he stilled her mid-step turning her to face him once more, “in fact, you might find that once you’re within the walls of the Ashford mansion your outlook on me might change a bit.  It‘s a lot more than some carbon copy home.  It‘s grand enough to inspire the kind of dreams that many would crave for themselves.”
“Brant, I’ve been to the Ashford mansion,” Avery stated point blank as she traced her index finger over the center of his chest.  Tipping up on her toes, she leaned in closer to him, motioning for him to bridge the distance between them, “and I must admit I do have a confession to make.”
“Oh?” Brant raised a curious brow, “and what might that be?”
“Brant, a little word of advice,” she softened her tone as an air of playfulness crept in over her beautiful face, “if you really believe you have a chance at seducing me,” she glided her finger down the center of his chest trailing over his abdomen leisurely, “then I’m going to tell you now that it takes more than your big,” she stopped movement just above his belt as she pressed in against him teasing him with her curves before drawing back, “estate,” she winked at him before holding her briefcase more securely, “now back to work before we get back into your bedroom again.”
“We haven’t even begun in my bedroom,” his lip curled in protest.
“And I’m certain I don’t want to be there just yet,” Avery shook her head in dismay as she looked ahead to the direction Davies’s butler had drifted off to.
“There’s still hope,” Brant offered with a teasing chuckle as he leaned in over her, “and for the record, there aren’t mirrors on the ceiling in my bedroom,” he stood taller adjusting his tie, “I much prefer them for the recreation room,” he finished stepping forward as Avery shook her head wondering what she was getting herself into with this man.  Somehow working with Brant was never dull and always entertaining, yet at the same time, she realized he was certainly something of a chore.
“Back to work,” she reminded herself as she followed Brant prepared to meet with Steven Davies.  She quickly sped up to meet the pace Brant had set as she pushed her personal issues aside and she focused at the task at hand.
Once outside, Avery noticed Steven Davies out by his Olympic sized swimming pool with a very young looking blonde woman at his side laying on her stomach in a shamelessly skimpy white bikini bottom.  Judging by the color of her tanned skin and the lack of tan lines covering her toned spine, it was clear that she’d spent a great deal of time lapping up the sun’s eager rays minus the top half of her bathing suit.  Avery felt a frown touch over her lips as she thought to Davies half dressed companion finding it a tad inappropriate for a business meeting to be out here by the pool in this state of undress, but she reminded herself that being prude would not get the effect she desired by this meeting.
With that thought in mind, Avery turned her attention Brant, noting that much to her surprise he looked less than thrilled about the half naked woman before him.  If anything agitation seemed to set in as he stared down at Steven Davies, who’d been seated on a one of the chairs, clad in his own scantly swim suit as Avery wondered how a man of his age could possibly think of wearing something that inappropriate.  Sure, he wasn’t a bad looking man and though he’d gone gray where she was certain his hair had once been a deep shade of black, he’d stayed in great shape.  Still, looking down at the black Speedo he was wearing, Avery too was less than impressed.
“Brant,” Steven greeted them as he looked up from behind his dark sunglasses, “good to see you.”
“Steven,” Brant nodded appropriately as he stood before the sun bathing duo, “I’d thought we had a meeting scheduled.”
“Of course we do,” Steven replied rising from the chair as he extended his bronzed arm out towards Avery, “Ms. Morrison, as always it’s a pleasure.”
“It’s good to see you,” Avery accepted his hand as the gold from the medallion he wore around his neck nearly blinded her in the sunlight.  She watched as he lifted her hand to his lips kissing her palm gently.
“Please call me Steven,” he smiled up at her as he lowered his sunglasses a bit, flashing his sparkling blue eyes before he stood upright once more.
“Alright Steven,” she nodded as Brant stepped in closer to her.
“I was under the impression that we were closing the deal today,” Brant cleared his throat once again.
“Brant, would you relax,” Steven shook his head simply as he kept his gaze on Avery, “I thought perhaps we’d make this an informal meeting.  You don’t mind much, do you Avery?  I can call you Avery, yes?”
“Of course,” she smiled politely as she noticed the blonde shifting a bit on the chair she’d been sprawled out on.
“Excellent,” Steven offered a predatory smile before he motioned towards the blonde, “this is Brittany Simmons, my lawyer.”
“Your lawyer,” Avery’s jaw nearly dropped as the woman sat upright having no shame about her nakedness as she rose from the chair.  She flashed Brant a smile as she reached for a white towel wiping at her face before discarding it to the cement beneath her toes.  She extended an arm out towards Brant as she tossed her hair back over her shoulder offering him a glimpse of her bare breasts.
“It’s a pleasure,” she smiled brightly, “I must confess I’ve heard quite a lot about you Mr. Ashford, though I wasn’t expecting that we’d be meeting so soon.”
“Neither was I,” Brant answered with a nod before he looked back to Davies, “what’s with the lawyer?  I thought we’d agreed upon the deal…”
“We did,” Steven waved his hand at Brittany, “she’s just here for moral support if you will, but I should hope neither one of you feel threatened.”
“Just pretend I’m not here,” Brittany shrugged her shoulders before offering another bright, white grin.
“Easier said than done,” Avery muttered under her breath realizing that while she’d researched Davies a great many hours, she wasn’t prepared for this.
“So Avery, what have you come here with today to dazzle me with,” Steven questioned breaking through her thoughts as Avery turned her attention back to him.
“Actually we’ve come here to propose…” Brant began.
“I asked Avery,” Steven frowned slightly giving Brant a disapproving look before he returned the focus to Avery and he placed his arm up against hers, “you know it’s such a lovely day today that perhaps we could put the meeting on hold.  Brittany and I were thinking about a swim and if you were interesting in joining us, well there’s always room for three…”
“Thanks, but I’d really rather not,” Avery offered politely as she fought the urge to cringe, “as we did want to get this deal out of the way as soon as possible considering that we all stand to gain a great advantage by closing this.”
“That we do,” he conceded taking a step back, “of course I must admit I do like a woman who has business in mind,” he turned to Brittany, “why don’t you take that swim?  I should be alright here in Avery’s good hands.”
“Whatever,” Brittany shrugged her shoulders as she dove into the pool leaving the trio alone again.
“Come into the house,” Steven instructed leading the way back into the estate as Brant stepped in next to Avery.
“I had no idea that this was what we were walking into,” Brant whispered in her ear as she shook her head up at him.
“It’s okay,” she raised her hand to silence him as they entered the mansion.
“So Avery,” Steven began simply as he guided them into his office, “I’ve read over the papers and from what I gather all that’s needed is my signature.”
“That’s right,” she replied with a nod, “and I’d assume that the terms are more than satisfactory.”
“They seem reasonable,” he agreed taking a seat in his chair, “however, I must confess that I do have my reservations about going to bed so to speak with BBK.  Given the negative press that has been circulating…”
“All unfounded rumors at best,” Avery insisted, “there is nothing shady about the dealings over at BBK.”
“Now if he had said that, I’d have my doubts,” Steven motioned to Brant, “but you, well I like you and I’m going out on a limb and taking you on your word.”
“I appreciate that,” Avery smiled politely, “you can rest assured that your association with BBK will prove to be profitable in a great many ways.”
“I can see there are perks to being involved with BBK,” he nodded glancing over at Brant, “it appears you struck gold with this one.”
“That I have,” Brant answered confidently, “Avery is the best.”
“Indeed she is,” Steven pulled out his copy of the papers, “she’s so good in fact, that I’m tempted to take her on at Davies Industries.  What do you say Avery?  Would you like to,” he paused as his gaze swept in over her, “go to bed with me over at Davies?”
Avery felt a heat rise over her features at his obvious innuendos, but vowing not to let her discomfort show, she continued to smile politely, “I’m flattered that you think so highly of me.”
“I can treat you far better than this guy can,” he added motioning to Brant, “whatever he’s paying you, I’ll give you double…”
“My employees are very loyal,” Brant stepped up closer to Steven’s desk, “and Avery is quite content with BBK.”
“Content is the first step towards boredom,” Steven shook his head, “however over at Davies, I’m certain we could find ways to keep Avery on her toes.”
“As tempting as your proposal is, I’m quite satisfied over at BBK,” Avery offered once again.
“Avery is vital to the company,” Brant added.
“All the more reason I could use her expertise here,” Steven winked at her, “to give me the inside track and besides,” his eyes offered a brief perusal over her curves, “I’m certain she could give Brittany a run for her money out by the pool.  Are you sure you wouldn’t care for a swim?”  he paused a smile touching over his lips, “I’m sure Brittany has something that you could borrow.”
“No thank you,” Avery motioned to the pages on his desk, “but I would be eternally grateful if you could just sign right there.”
“Hmm and if I do, what’s in it for me?” Steven raised a curious brow, “perhaps dinner?  A night alone with you in the near future?”
“Mr. Davies,” she began again a heat rising over her features.
“I would take it as a personal insult if you wouldn’t at least consider giving me a chance to prove myself,” he insisted firmly.
“Sign the papers and she’ll see just how wise you are,” Brant piped in frowning at the way Davies eyed Avery.
“I’ll sign the papers, if and only if Avery escorts me to my party here tonight.  A beautiful woman on my arm would be a nice perk to close this deal, wouldn’t you agree Ashford?”
“As enticing as that sounds, I would think that you’d much prefer to have someone such as Brittany escort you,” Avery insisted suddenly wanting to be anywhere but in this office.
“Brant, your father would’ve done anything to ensure that I was satisfied with this partnership we’re working towards and I’m certain that a night with Avery would be just the level of comfort that would appease a cautious soul like myself.  So what do you say?  Will you tempt your lady lawyer to spend the night with me so that we can close this deal?  Your father would‘ve agreed that this is more than a fair exchange.  I mean the way I see it, we both gain in this situation.  I get a night with the lovely Ms. Morrison and you get my business.”
Avery turned her attention to Brant knowing that while the Sr. Ashford had been less than reputable in his business dealings, that had been in the past.  Certainly Brant wouldn’t offer her in exchange for the millions he stood to gain in closing this deal.  Yet as she looked to Davies and his predatory glances in her direction, she started to wonder.  Would Brant volunteer her to close the deal with Davies by any means necessary or would he sacrifice his millions in order to stay loyal to her?  Feeling her breath catch in her throat as Brant’s poker face gave nothing away, she waited for him to respond.
“As much as I can see that you’re very tempted to get closer to Avery,” Brant began after a moment’s hesitation, “I’m afraid she is off limits and not a part of the deal we’ve made.”
“Consider her a perk,” Steven suggested, “and if we can agree on that, I’ll sign right now.”
“If you’re going to sign the contract,” Brant stepped in beside Avery, “then it’ll be without trying to steal Avery away from me.”
“I look at it as more of borrowing,” Steven leaned back in his chair, his eyes sweeping over Avery in an unwelcome brush.
“Borrowing might have worked with my father,” Brant began sternly as he wrapped his arm around Avery’s shoulders, “but in the case of my fiancée I’m afraid that I’m in no position to share her.”
“Your fiancée?” Steven’s eyes widened in surprise.
“That’s right,” Brant squeezed her closer to him, “you didn’t honestly believe I’d let just anyone tackle my dealings.  As with my personal life as well as business, I accept nothing but the best and Avery is it.”
“This is a surprise,” Steven frowned as he sat straighter in his chair, “though I suppose I should’ve figured it out.  She’s incredible Brant.”
“That she is,” Brant nodded in response as his arm dropped around Avery’s waist, “and while I realize that she’s quite sensational, I don’t make a habit of sharing my women.”
“A pity,” Steven shrugged his shoulders as he gave Avery one last look, “it could’ve been fun.”
“Avery, has all the fun she needs with me,” he turned her in his arms touching her cheek gently, “isn’t that right?”
Avery nodded too stunned to speak as Brant leaned down to give her a quick kiss in his attempt to prove to Steven Davies that she was clearly off limits.  Finally as they parted, she placed her hand over the center of his chest offering a bright smile as she looked to Davies, “Brant makes me very happy indeed.”
“Lucky bastard,” Steven shook his head.
“So do we still have a deal?” Brant questioned before reaching into his pocket for his pen.
“Well as much as I hate losing,” Steven sighed as he accepted the pen, “in this case, I suppose I can make the exception,” he finished signing the pages before him, “but don’t think that my invitation to the party tonight is not withstanding.  Considering that you two are clearly a surprise to me with this engagement, I’d think it a personal insult if you didn’t allow me the chance to apologize for my lack of discretion.  I should hope you’d still consider being guests at my party tonight as means of a peace treaty of sorts now that we’ve closed in on the deal.”
“It would be our pleasure,” Brant nodded in agreement reaching out to accept the papers that Steven Davies finished signing, “we wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Excellent,” Steven smiled at the both of them, “after all we wouldn’t want anyone else mistaking Avery as something on the market now would we considering that a great many of our associates will be here tonight?”
“She’s well off the market,” Brant assured him with a confident grin as he held Avery closer to him leaving her to wonder just what they were getting into as Davies scrutinized them with a skeptic eye.
“A pity,” Davies shrugged again, “but I’m sure tonight we’ll work on clearing up any misconceptions.  We’ll have a celebration for the two of you along with the closure of our deal.”
“It sounds like a splendid idea,” Brant nodded casually keeping Avery within the confines of his arms as his finger massaged over her spine gently.
Avery leaned into Brant draping her arm around his waist as she hoped to offer up the look of the devoted fiancée in the hopes that Davies would stop eyeing her like she was dessert.  She felt Brant’s palm rest easily upon her hip as she wondered if they could pull off the rouse tonight in front of others.  Certainly Davies was doubtful now, but tonight, well that would prove to be a whole new ballgame as Avery realized perhaps she was truly getting in over her head working with Brant Ashford.


Caitlin entered the lobby of CCR and smiled as she saw Kenneth speaking on his cell phone. He did have a presence about him that seemed to draw her in every time. Maybe it was the way he was generous with his time and effort on the behalf of others. Or maybe it was simply because he was one of the most attractive men she had ever laid eyes on.

He spotted her and smiled as he waved for her to join him. Was there something magical about that smile or did it almost feel warm all the way to where she stood? She chastised herself for such thoughts. She had to be professional about this story, or Russell would have her head. She simply had to think of Kenneth Ashford as an attorney, and nothing more.

That was easier than it seemed, however. He was all male with his charcoal gray slacks perfectly cinched around his waist with a dark leather belt, a soft blue shirt wrapped around his torso with the top few buttons undone to relax at the end of the day, and a smile that would melt the polar ice caps. How was she ever going to keep her reporting objective? Oh who was she kidding…objectivity had flown out the window the moment she'd read the letters from the Hendersons, but there was even more personal feeling within the case since she'd found herself attracted to Kenneth.

Kenneth finished his phone call and focused his attention on Caitlin, "Good afternoon. How are you?"

"I'm looking forward to meeting the Hendersons," She replied as she met his mystifying brown eyes, "I trust you've spoken with them about me."

He nodded as he led her towards the elevator, "I have. They're a little nervous about meeting with you, but I've told them that I think you'll do right by them."

"I hope I can live up to the hype," She spoke as the elevator doors opened, "Are you sure you want to get on this thing with me again?"

He grinned, "I think I'll risk it."

Caitlin smiled as she boarded the elevator with him. After the button for the pediatric floor had been pushed, the doors closed, and Kenneth turned to her again.

"Did you have your cell phone number changed?"

She met his eyes, wondering if he had someone discovered her secret. There was no way anyone could have told him….unless Blake…"No, I didn't get around to it. Why?" She questioned as she met his eyes.

"I was just curious. It seemed as if whomever it was calling wasn't going to give up," He spoke candidly, "Besides, when people start calling incessantly like that, they usually have a reason. It might not be a good one, but in their minds, they think its sufficient."

"I just think it was someone with a wrong number," She said as she looked to the floor trying to dismiss the phone calls.

"Perhaps," He nodded, sensing her need to change the subject.

"So, the Hendersons, what should I expect from them?" She asked as she looked back to him.

"They're just as forthright in person as they were in their letters," He smiled, "And Randy, well, he's a bit of a handful."

Caitlin smiled, "I can't wait to meet them."

"It seems the wait is over," Kenneth announced as they arrive on the pediatric floor. He led her down to Randy's room where he gently knocked upon the door before entering, "I hear there's a boy in here who has beaten my score," He teased as he stepped inside.

Randy smiled proudly, "That's me. Now I'm the champion."

Kenneth approached the bed and folded his arms, "Should I be upset?"

"Well, you could, but hey I can't help being the greatest player there ever was," The boy replied smugly.

"He can't help being modest either," Kenneth chuckled as he looked to Kelly who smiled from her chair near the window, "Kelly, how are you?"

"I'm doing okay," Kelly replied as she looked to Caitlin, "And you must be Ms. Vaughn."

"Please call me Caitlin," She suggested as she shook Kelly's hand, "It's very nice to finally meet you."

Kelly smiled as she introduced her husband, "This is my husband, Jay, and that little pile of meanness in the bed there is our son Randy."

"Hey Mom," Randy frowned, "I'm not that mean."

"How about mischievous?" Kenneth asked as he sat on the corner of the bed, "I think that would qualify."

"What's mis…mischiev…what is that?" Randy asked.

"Well, you're so smart that you should figure it out," Kenneth teased, "Last time I was here you were bragging about all the school work being easy. So you should have no trouble figuring out what mischievous means."

"Hey now, why do I have to do all the work around here?" Randy asked as he looked pointedly at Kenneth.

"That's what you get for bragging, pal," Jay said with a grin before he looked to Randy, "This is the reporter Kenneth told us about. Her name is Caitlin, and you'd better be nice to her."

Randy looked at Caitlin as if he'd only just noticed her. His eyes widened before he grinned, "Hello beautiful," He said before he patted the bed beside him, "Wanna sit down?"

"Uh oh," Kenneth smiled as he stood and walked around Caitlin, leaning close to her ear to whisper to her, "I think he's in love."

Caitlin smiled brightly before she moved to sit down on the bed beside Randy, "Hello handsome," She said as she looked to him, "You certainly are the center of a lot of attention."

"I know," Randy admitted as he shrugged, "It's hard being so great, but somebody has to do it."

She smiled, "So what do you think of Kenneth helping out your family?"

"He's doing a great job. He's going to make the people who made me sick pay for what they've done, and I think that's great."

"Well I'm glad I've got your vote of confidence," Kenneth announced from the end of the bed.

"Shush, I'm talking to the pretty reporter lady," Randy admonished before he looked back to Caitlin, "Do you like video games? Kenneth brought me on the other day. Want to see?"

"Sure, I'd love to," She smiled as she focused on Randy who started the video game.

Jay lowered his voice to speak with Kenneth, "He seems to trust her."

"Is that a good sign?" Kenneth asked of his client.

"I'd like to think so. Randy has a pretty good sense about people," Jay noted as he met his attorney's eyes, "The question is do you really trust her?"

"You know how I feel about reporters, but she's different," Kenneth admitted, "She's not looking for every little personal detail and tidbit of information that could blow our case out of the water. I think we can put our trust in her."

"If you trust her, then that's good enough for us," Jay agreed as Kelly wrapped her arms around him and hugged her husband.

A nurse stepped into the room and looked about before she approached Caitlin, "Ms. Vaughn, there's a phone call for you at the desk."

"Thank you," Caitlin replied before excusing herself from Randy and stepping outside the room. She made her way to the desk and picked up the phone, "This is Caitlin Vaughn."

"Did you really think you could ever get away from me? I told you once that I can't live without you, and I meant every word."

"Don't call me anymore," Caitlin warned before she hung up the phone. She closed her eyes, trying to calm the racing of her heart. A hand upon her shoulder startled her as she spun around only to meet Kenneth's concerned eyes.

"Whoa, I didn't mean to frighten you. Is everything okay?" Kenneth asked, noting every aspect of her agitation.

"No, not really," She admitted as she glanced around, "Could you say goodbye for me to the Hendersons? I've…got to…see to some things," Caitlin said quickly before darting towards the elevators and repeatedly pressing the call button. As soon as the doors opened, she rushed inside.

Kenneth watched as the elevator doors closed, knowing now that his hunch had been correct. Something was frightening Caitlin. He just didn't know where to begin in uncovering what that something could be or how he could help her concur her fears.


Jade knocked lightly before entering Grady's office. After he'd left her yesterday, she had gone upstairs and rethought her strategy. She was going to get his attention one way or the other. Since the straight forward approach didn't seem to work, she would try another tact. Instead of her normal office attire, she'd opted for khaki slacks and a pale pink sweater. She'd ignore him until he had no choice but to acknowledge his attraction to her.

Yes, she'd noticed how his eyes would linger upon her and follow her about the room. She'd noticed how he would gingerly place his hand at the small of her back to lead her into a room, and she'd most certainly noticed how he would 'accidentally' brush against her to get a file. It wasn't a secret to her that he wanted her, but apparently he had yet to admit it to himself.

She had spent most of the day completing research for Grady's current case, staying well away from his office. If he wanted to suffer, he'd have to do it alone. She wasn't about to walk by him and struggle with the urge to embrace him. She'd just do her work in her office, and try to keep Grady out of sight and out of mind.

Now, she had completed the file Grady had requested and had to deliver it to him. She would have to face him, but she wasn't about to show even one iota of desire. She would be a professional in the fullest sense of the word. She would be about the job and nothing else.

She approached his desk with the file in hand. God he looked good. She took a deep breath, forcing herself to disregard all her personal feelings where he was concerned. She placed the file upon his desk, "This is all the information you requested."

"Thank you," Grady smiled as he looked up to her. His eyes slowly moved over her, noting the differences in her clothing. It certainly wasn't what she would normally wear, but as Grady had noticed about her over the last few months, there was nothing Jade couldn't wear and make look like a million dollars. He leaned upon his desk and looked to her, "Why don't you have a seat?"

"I really can't," She said softly, "I have some more papers to look over in my office before I call it a day…unless this is business."

"No, I just thought…well, I thought you could take a break," He offered as he met her eyes.

"I don't think that's such a good idea," She flashed him a light smile, "I should be going."

"Jade," He stopped her as she made her way towards the door, "Have I upset you in some way?"

She shook her head, "Of course not. It's just that I have work to do."

"Oh," He said with a hint of sorrow in his voice, "Well, okay, I just…well, we haven't had a chance to talk today as we usually do."

"It happens when things are busy," She shrugged, "There will be other days. As soon as I'm through with the papers in my office, I'll be calling it a day," She said softly, "See you tomorrow," She said before she left his office. She smiled to herself as she walked back to her office. Her plan was working.

Grady sat at his desk with a deep frown etched into his handsome features. He'd never known Jade not to take a break with him. The truth was he'd often distracted her from her work by asking her to sit and talk with him. Despite her youth, she was quite mature and knowledgeable about a vast number of subjects. Their talks had often been the highlight of his day, but now he wondered if he hadn't somehow ruined all of that with his hastiness to dismiss her yesterday. Had he finally pushed her until she'd given up all hope of being with him? Despite the fact that he had denied her propositions each and every time, he'd come to expect them…even look forward to them. Now, he simply wasn't sure if he wanted to go on without them. He knew for certain he didn't want to go on without Jade in his life, but he didn't want to face the risks associated with an interoffice relationship. Did he really have what it would take to get through it or would it end in disaster just as his marriage had? Either way, he knew that he would have to do something where Jade was concerned perhaps sooner rather than later.


Seth extended his arm out feeling the pins and needles rushing through it as he realized it must’ve gone to sleep in the position he’d fallen asleep on the couch in.  He began to move his arm, when the weight upon it drew his attention and in that instant the whiff of Blake’s soft sensual perfume reminded him of just where he was.  He glanced down at her seeing that she looked like a sleeping angel as he’d held her.  Somewhere between dinner and watching Romancing the Stone, the two had drifted off on the small sofa in one another’s arms.  A smile touched over his lips as he looked down at Blake savoring the innocence of her as she lay curled in his arms.  She truly was remarkable and her beauty was certainly unmatched by any other he’d been around before.  She began to stir over him as her soft, blue eyes opened.
“Did I miss the end of the movie,” she yawned stretching out over him.
“I’m afraid so,” he smiled down at her as his fingers brushed over her spine gently.
“I suppose this means that you think I’m a horrible dinner companion, huh,” Blake questioned with a soft smile as she shifted her position in his arms.
“Not in the least,” Seth shook his head in response, “I rather enjoyed holding you like this.  Truth be told it’s the most peaceful sleep I’ve had in a long time.”
“I don’t know what came over me,” she confessed with another yawn, “I guess since the quake, things have become pretty intense for me.”
“That’s one way of putting it,” Seth agreed as his fingers tapered off over her cheek, sliding into her hair, “but I think it’s more so that fate brought us into something wonderful.”
“I suppose it did, didn’t it,” Blake couldn’t help but smile as she leaned into his touch, “I mean hey you didn’t turn away my cooking so that’s always a plus.”
“Your cooking was divine,” Seth confessed with a tiny smile, “although there was something that struck me much more sensational than your cooking.”
“And what might that be?” Blake questioned with a hint of a smile.
“Your kisses,” he whispered leaning up to kiss her tenderly as his lips brushed over hers.  There was just something about her and in kissing her, well he’d never get used to how good she felt in his arms.  Sure, she was an Ashford and he knew what he must do, but there was something sensational about Blake--something he was starting to wonder how he’d ever been able to do without.
“Truth be told,” she murmured her cheeks a pale crimson color, “I enjoy your kisses as well.”
“In that case,” he shifted her on the sofa moving carefully as he hovered over her, “it would seem that you and I have something else in common.”
“Imagine that,” she couldn’t help but offer with a tiny laugh as she wrapped her arms around his neck drawing him in closer to her yet again.  Her soft lips brushed against his in a tender motion as his arm glided over her curves taking in the silken fabric of her sundress.

Unable to resist the urge to indulge in those incredible legs that had first captured his attention at the auto shop, Seth’s palm pressed in over her thigh leisurely as a sigh escaped her lips.  Drinking up the sensual sounds that escaped her lips, Seth felt her fingers curl in against his shoulder as his hand slid up her tanned, slender thigh bunching up the fabric of her sundress as his explorations continued.
“Seth,” she breathed his name as he looked down at her a sexy smile touching over his lips.
“You’re so beautiful Blake,” he whispered bending down to dip his tongue between her full, throbbing lips as he offered her a long, drugging kiss.
“Oh Seth,” she murmured rubbing her leg against the heat of his long, muscular thighs as a delicious tingling sensation rushed over her.  His lips devoured hers absorbing her sweetness as his touch washed over her smoother than silk as he lifted her up off of the sofa drawing her hips against him.
Blake closed her eyes feeling as Seth’s palm cupped over her bottom giving her a sense of self assurance as his eyes widened upon the realization that she’d worn a thong she’d chosen just in case.  The look on his face as his finger tips brushed over her soft, curving flesh proved that she’d made the right decision.  Certainly she hadn’t been planning on seducing Seth Alexander, but at the same time it didn’t hurt that he saw she had a wild side that had dared her to be prepared for passion.
“Blake,” he mouthed her name as he rocked his body over hers, finding himself spellbound by the remarkable woman he’d met only a few short days ago.  Something about her, about the way she looked at him--the way she tasted and the touch of her skin excited him in ways he hadn’t dreamt possible.  She was beautiful, truly one of the most beautiful women he’d ever encountered and now as his fingers bunched up the fabric of her sundress bringing it up over her flat abdomen, he wanted to see every inch of her.
Blake smiled up at him seeing the hunger burning behind his eyes as she lay back against the couch feeling him eagerly undressing her as he brushed the material of her sundress up to the top of her rib cage.  She felt a moment of hesitation pass over him as she eyed him closely wondering if things were really happening like this for him.  Never in all her years had she been so eager to please someone, so ready to offer herself, yet as Seth’s gaze cast over her flat abdomen, down over the skimpy white thong she’d worn for him, her heart raced in her chest as she wondered if this was really it.  Could she truly give herself to this handsome stranger that she’d just met days earlier.
“You’re beautiful,” he breathed as he released her sundress instead leaning down to place feathery light kisses over her flat abdomen as his hands slid over her thighs down her legs and up in over her inner thighs.  His lips traveled down over her naval causing her to feel a thick rush of heat over her center as she closed her eyes imagining what it would be like to have Seth make love to her.  She’d wanted him…that hadn’t been in question since the moment she’d first laid eyes upon him, but now as his kisses stirred up a passion in her unlike anything she’d ever experienced, she wondered if reality with Seth would live up to anything her dreams had given her.
Feeling Seth press his mouth over her hip, tasting the vulnerable flesh as his thumb slipped in beneath the side of her thong, easing it down a bit over her soft skin, Blake suddenly felt a warning signal go off in her head.  What was she thinking?  She’d known him less than a week and suddenly she was ready to give herself to him completely.  That harsh gust of reality hit her as she reached out to him, stopping him from breaking down her barriers.
“Seth, wait,” she pleaded as he looked up at her seeing the conflict between her eyes.
“What’s wrong,” Seth questioned moving up beside her as he touched her face gently.
“This is too fast,” she replied trying to still the furious pounding in her heart, “I mean I want to--I want us to make love but…”
Seth watched her for a moment as she struggled with her words.  Suddenly as he saw the confusion sweep over her, he wanted to kick himself for letting his hormones get the best of him.  He drew in a breath as he closed his eyes trying to rid himself of the erotic images building inside of him.
“I do want you,” Blake started her voice very soft and childlike as Seth cursed himself over and over again for allowing things to get out of hand.
“I know,” was all he could manage as the faint ringing of the phone brought him back to the painful reality.
“Seth, I’m sorry,” she apologized as she tried to keep her voice even.  Biting on her lower lip, she watched as he rose from the sofa making his way over towards the phone.
“I’m the one who should be apologizing,” Seth began reaching for the phone, “I guess I got carried away.”
“It seems we both did,” she offered meekly as Seth greeted the caller on the other end of the line.
“Seth,” Cameron broke through the tension in the room as Seth held the phone to his ear, “I’ll bet you weren’t expecting to hear from me so soon.”
“I’d be lying if I said that I was expecting a call from you right now,” Seth’s voice tightened as he turned away from Blake, finding himself on edge in a new way that was entirely based upon Cameron’s intrusion, “what do you want?”
“I was thinking that perhaps it was time for you to start getting to work,” Cameron explained, “surely you’ve healed by now.”
“I haven’t been out of the hospital that long,” Seth frowned thinking of the job at hand.
“Does that really matter?  I’d assume a man of your talents could start right away,” Cameron added smugly, “and seeing as I’d like this taken care of in a quick and efficient fashion, I don’t believe timing would be a problem for you.”
“I’m a bit busy at the moment,” Seth explained simply.
“It can wait,” Cameron decided, “given what I’m paying you, when I say jump, you should say how high and with that in mind, I want to see you.”
“Half an hour,” Cameron explained, “I’ll send a car on over to your place so be downstairs when it arrives.”
“And if I say I can’t,” Seth challenged.
“I met your sister today,” Cameron began menacingly, “Jade’s a beautiful woman and I’d hate to think that something unfortunate could happen to change that for her.  The way I see it, she’s intelligent and has a lot of life ahead of her.  One would hate to think that it could all be taken away in a blink of an eye…”
“You just leave her alone,” Seth snapped as he fought to keep Blake from hearing his words.
“Then don’t disappoint me Seth,” Cameron snapped back at him, “you’ve got half an hour,” he finished hanging up the phone as Seth turned to see Blake staring up at him from on the sofa.
Seth hung up the phone hating to end things with Blake on the sour note they’d left off on with the confusion in the air, but being at the apartment was the last place he wanted for her to be when Cameron’s car arrived.  He didn’t want her anywhere near that man even if Seth had foolishly wound up working for him.  Whatever Cameron Stone wanted, Seth vowed to protect Blake from him at any cost.
“Blake, look I don’t mean to do this, but I have to get going,” Seth confessed with a sigh, “I have a follow up on my treatment and I completely forgot about the appointment.”
“Oh well in that case,” she stood up off of the couch straightening her dress out, “I can take you there…”
“I’m afraid I couldn’t let you do that,” Seth shook his head as he looked away from her.
“It’s not a problem.  I mean the hospital is on my way home and…” she began.
“Blake, I need to go on my own,” he cut her off abruptly before letting out an exaggerated sigh, “look I think I’m just feeling a little worn down after surgery.  I know you mean well and believe me I enjoy your company, but I have to do this on my own.”
“I understand,” she replied as Seth saw the hurt behind her eyes. “I should be going soon anyways.”
“Blake, it was nice having you around,” Seth offered as he watched her collect her things.
“Sure,” she nodded as she scurried to his front door, “well good luck at the appointment.”
“Thank you Blake,” Seth watched as she opened the door, “oh and Blake?”
“Yes?” she questioned turning to face him again.
“Thanks…” he hesitated wanting to say so much more, to bring her back inside and hold her in his arms as he thought of what being around her was doing to him, but as he thought of Cameron, he knew it was for the best, “for everything.”
“You’re welcome,” she offered with a tiny smile, giving him one last longing look before turning out the door and leaving Seth alone with the mess he’d made of his life.
“Why now,” he questioned as he looked around the apartment realizing that just when things seemed to be going right, they had turned so very wrong.  He just prayed he could find a way to get Cameron Stone out of his life without sacrificing Jade and Blake in the process.

Brant and Avery arrived at the hotel, a silence sweeping over them as he looked over at her knowing that despite the way she’d carried herself at the Davies Estate, she was still clearly in a state of unrest at the way Davies had approached her.  Saying nothing on the ride over to the hotel, Brant realized that perhaps this was Avery’s way of taking it all in with his quick thinking to lie about them being engaged in his attempt to get Davies to just lay off of her.  Still, she seemed a bit too quiet for his liking.
“You know,” Brant broke the silence between them as they stepped into the elevator together, “that man is a jerk.”
“A jerk,” Avery looked over at him in amazement, “that’s putting it mildly.”
“He had no right saying those things to you and had I known we were walking into that, well I wouldn’t have forced you to come along with me to his estate,” Brant offered gently as she stepped over into the far end of the elevator.
“I just can’t believe he’d think we’d take a proposal like that seriously,” Avery shook her head in dismay, “I mean what kind of business does he take us for?”
“Avery,” Brant took in a breath before speaking again, “he was just working us in ways he liked to work with my father.”
“Your father didn’t run business like that,” Avery hissed back at him, “sure he was a lot of things, but he never…”
“Avery, by the time you started working for him, he’d come to terms with his own mortality and knowing that his life was slipping away, he tried to clean up his act a bit…at least in that respect,” Brant paused thinking of the less than savory tactics of days gone by with the company, “but once upon a time, my father seemed to enjoy having a showcase of women to share with his investors.  It was a boys club of sorts if you will and it worked in my father’s favor a great many times in his dealings.”
“Brant, you don’t expect me to believe…” she paused as she looked at the seriousness over his features, “you’re not lying, are you?”
Brant shook his head, “Afraid not.  My father was known for having the best women at his beck and call and the more stunning they were, the more money he stood to make at the end of the day…”
“So then Davies really thought that you’d…that I’d…” Avery cringed at the memory of Davies and his lecherous gaze.
“He’s not going to lay a hand on you,” Brant vowed as he stepped in closer to her, “you have my word on that.”
“Brant, given what I know about you, your word isn’t all that much,” Avery pointed out with a frown as she looked to the elevator doors once again.
“Avery, the man thinks you’re my fiancée and that alone makes you off limits,” Brant explained simply.
“I still can’t believe you said that,” Avery shook her head with a frown, “I mean why didn’t you just tell him that you aren’t your father and that you don’t run a prostitution ring, but more so that you are working towards a respectable pharmaceutical company?  Why didn’t you tell him that you’re not going to sink to that level and put so little value on women?”
“Avery, this man is old money,” Brant argued with her, “he’s set in his ways.”
“So that makes it perfectly okay for you to barter off the women working for you,” Avery spat back at him, “Brant, what kind of business are you running when you leave men like Davies think they can put a price on someone like that?”
“Avery, I didn’t say I agreed with it being done, but my father had him and a great many other investors thinking…”
“To hell with what your father had them thinking,” Avery argued with him, “Brant, this is your company now and your time running the show.  You aren’t your father and it’s time that they all respected and accepted that.  If men like Steven Davies can’t deal with the policy changes, then they don’t belong associated with BBK.”
“Avery, you and I both know it’s not that simple,” Brant shrugged his shoulders, “and besides, I spared you of his unwanted advances, so what’s the problem?”
“The problem is that it’s wrong Brant,” Avery hissed up at him, “it’s morally wrong and you shouldn’t have to put up with it.”
“Avery, it’s just how things were done in the past,” Brant explained with a deep frown, “I’m sure Davies got the hint today once I set him straight.”
“You didn’t set him straight.  All you did was tell him that I was off limits because I’m your latest sex kitten,” she shook her head in disgust, “Brant, that kind of thinking alone underrates me as a lawyer and as a woman because it implies that the only reason I’m of any worth to you is because I can give you thrills in the bedroom and satisfy your carnal urges as my only means of staying in your good graces.”
“Avery, that’s not what that means,” Brant frowned as her words were grating on his nerves, “that’s not what I was trying to do back at the Davies estate, nor would I ever attempt to belittle you to that degree.  Yes, you are a beautiful, intelligent woman and I accept and respect that…”
“But not enough for you to tell Davies to go to hell,” Avery folded her arms in front of her chest as she stepped off the elevator, “a real man wouldn’t have to lie.  He’d just tell it like it is and be done with it.”
“Avery, we’re talking about twelve billion dollar profit potential,” Brant chased after her making his way down the hallway towards their suite, “I think given that kind of investment, there should be a little allowance in terms of what I will and won’t take from a man like Davies.”
“Brant, he’s a pig,” Avery stomped her foot down as she turned to face him again, “he doesn’t give a damn about my abilities and he certainly doesn’t give a damn about your company.  All he’s looking for is a quick roll in the hay and that’s it.  What you do or don’t do at BBK is of no concern to him.”
“Which is exactly why his money is a good thing,” Brant insisted as he pulled out the card for the hotel room door, “when his interest isn’t in my company, I can do what I deem fit with the money and I can be the one making the difference.”
“Brant, you can make a difference on so many levels if you’d just stop trying to live in your father’s shadow,” Avery explained with a sigh, “if your ever going to prove to the world that Brant Ashford is a force to be reckoned with then maybe it’s time to be your own man.”
“And what man would that be?” Brant challenged opening the door to the suite as she marched into the room and he followed behind her, “The man that you want me to be?”
“Brant, all I’m saying is that you could try to be the man I know you’re capable of being rather than being what everyone expects you to be,” Avery set her purse down as she looked around the suite taking in it’s extravagance.
“Avery, you’re not one to lecture me considering that you don’t have the faintest idea on what it is you want or who you want to be,” Brant argued with her continuing to ponder her words as she grew silent, “the way I see it, you’re in a constant state of denial in your relationship with Bruce as we both know he’s not what you want or what you need, yet you keep pretending that being with Bruce is where you belong.  So if you think you can stand here and criticize me on how I run my business, maybe you should just take a long, hard look at your life before you start throwing stones.  Avery, we’re both the same.  We both do what we need to do in order to get the job done and we wouldn’t have it any other way…”
“I wouldn’t sell my soul to make it happen,” Avery insisted spinning around to face him.
“And just what do you call it that you’re doing with Bruce?” he challenged lifting a curious brow, “Avery, we both know that you’re about as attached to him as I am to Steven Davies.  We’re both in it for what we need for the moment and then when it’s done, we seek out pleasure from other outlets.”
“Brant, you are so wrong about me.  I’m not like you in that respect and if you really want to know about Bruce…” she stopped herself as she looked around the hotel suite, “Brant, where’s the other bedroom?”
“What about Bruce,” Brant prompted ignoring her last question.
“Brant,” she marched forward throwing open the doors before her to find the master suite before her, “where is the other bedroom?” she challenged throwing out an accusatory tone as she spun around to face him again.

“About that…” Brant shifted on his feet as a devilish grin pressed over his features, “I guess I forgot to mention that well considering that Diane saw us in my office the other day, she just assumed…”
“Diane my ass,” Avery glared at him, “you did this on purpose didn’t you?  You actually thought that what?  That once I went over to meet with Davies I’d be so grateful to you that I’d leap into your arms and beg you to make me yours?” Avery shook her head as anger fueled over her, “I don’t believe the nerve of you…”
“Avery, it’s not like that,” Brant defended as she stomped towards the hotel room door, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Away from you,” Avery announced as he reached out to her tugging on her arm and drawing her back towards him.
“Avery, don’t do this,” Brant pleaded with her as he held her in his arms, “don’t go.”
“Brant, you lied to me,” Avery’s eyes lit with anger as her pulse raced in her chest.  Dealing with Davies had been bad enough, but now to find that Brant had his own set of wayward plans for her, it was enough to set her soul on fire with rage, “you had no right…”
“I know,” Brant sighed shaking his head as he realized there would be no point in fighting her on the issue, “look I’m sorry.  I guess I just got a bit ahead of myself here, but if you’d like, well I can sleep on the sofa.  If you truly aren’t interested…”
“Even if I was,” Avery huffed as she dislodged herself from his arms, “you blew it with this,” she waved her finger around the room.
“Avery,” Brant watched as she closed the hotel room door and she turned towards the bedroom stalking towards it as Brant saw the fury in her movements.
“And don’t think I’m changing my mind about us, Brant because it’s not going to happen,” Avery shouted slamming the bedroom doors shut behind her as Brant sank into a chair realizing that his plans for this time alone with Avery were anything, but happening for him.  He was no where near where he wanted to be and as he heard her cursing from the other room, he wondered if he’d ever get close to where he’d wanted to be with her.  Surely he still had to have a shot with her, shouldn’t he?  Somehow he was starting to get the impression that Avery Morrison might be the one challenge that he couldn’t conquer.


Caitlin sat at her desk in the newsroom, having spent most of her evening finding any little thing to do to keep her busy. She didn't want to think about the calls to her cell phone nor the one at the hospital. One thing was for certain, however, the past she had fought so fiercely to put behind her was once again in the present. She would have to deal with the one thing she never wanted to face in her life again.

"Caitlin, you're here mighty late," Mindy announced as she made her way by her friend's desk, "Want to go out for a drink?"

"Not tonight. I don't think I'd be very good company," Caitlin admitted with a smile, "Let me have a rain check?"

"You're on," Mindy smiled, "Good night. Don't work too late," She warned before she left Caitlin.

Caitlin glanced around the newsroom where a few reporters were working on their stories. She glanced to the papers upon her desk and realized there was nothing more she could do on her work. She would have to go home. She could only hope that home would be a safe haven for her.

She slipped her purse over her shoulder and made her way to the elevator. She stepped on board and pressed the button for the underground parking garage. She leaned into the wall of the elevator, thinking about the phone call at the hospital. How had he found her?

The doors opened on the elevator, revealing the relative darkness of the parking garage. She took a deep breath as she walked into the parking lot. She stepped into and out of the light emanating from the security lights along the wall. She looked down the lot, seeing her car just ahead.

Out of the shadows, her attacker emerged, blitzing her from behind. Caitlin screamed in shock as she fell against a car in front of her. Her attacker seized a handful of her hair and yanked her neck backwards, "Did you really think you could humiliate me by running away?" He slammed her forehead into the car before lights from an approaching car focused upon them.

The attacker grumbled harshly before shoving Caitlin aside and running into the darkness.

"Caitlin!" Mindy cried out as she stepped out of her car and ran to her friend. She knelt beside her and saw the blood drenching Caitlin's forehead, "Caitlin…Oh no. Help! Somebody help!" Mindy cried out as she grabbed Caitlin's bag which had fallen nearby during the attack. She took Caitlin's cell phone and dialed 911, hoping that her friend wasn't as badly injured as she appeared.

...to be continued...