Episode 96 

Travis Callaway stood outside the Denton home, feeling a brisk chill in the air on this spring morning in Coral Valley. While he’d always hated having to partake in such situations as this where someone was needed to speak to those who had been victimized, he realized that given the nature of the surprise attack that Bruce Mathis had launched upon the unsuspecting newlyweds, there wouldn’t be anything nearly as acceptable as his making the trip was clearly the right thing to be doing. Still as he stood on the porch, he adjusted his tie hoping that this meeting would go smooth and simple, though he had his doubts about that thought truly developing into a reality. Seconds later the door opened and Elliot Denton stood before him looking less than thrilled to be seeing him as Callaway cleared his throat.

"Mr. Denton, I’m Assistant Director…" Callaway began tentatively as Elliot opened the door wider seemingly hesitant in welcoming Travis into his home.

"I know who you are and why you‘re here," Elliot cut him off abruptly stepping aside to allow the federal agent access to his humble home, "but what I don’t understand is why you haven’t caught that monster before now?"

"Sir, we’re doing all that we can to remedy this horrible situation," Callaway started once again, using his best business as usual tone with Elliot as Elliot’s eyes glazed over with obvious irritation.

"Don’t patronize me son," Elliot warned sharply, his temper getting the best of him as he thought to Russ and Avery’s arrival at the Denton home the previous evening. They’d both been visibly shaken and while Avery had refused to let Russell take her to the hospital, Elliot could clearly see the impact of the stress that had fallen upon his family and in being the family man that he was, the last thing he’d wanted was to have to watch his son have to endure such horrors because of the law enforcement’s lack of competence in handling the apprehension of a maniac like Bruce Mathis.

"I’m not patronizing you sir," Callaway started again in an apologetic tone as Elliot waved his hand at him dismissively.

"Do you have a family? Do you have any idea how hard it is for a couple to make it in this world without all of this to get in the way of their lives?" Elliot continued unable to contain the need to chew someone out for the situation that had arisen within the Denton family, "Tell me, do you have children?"

"No sir, I don’t, but if I did, I can’t say that I’d be feeling any differently than you are at this moment in time," Callaway offered up in an apologetic tone.

"No, I don’t think you would as I find it hard to believe that you’re in a position to make presumptions about how I might be feeling at a time like this when some lunatic is chasing after my son and his wife and my grandchild."

"Sir, I can assure you that we’re working on…" Callaway started in a feeble attempt to appease Elliot’s obvious frustrations and concerns.

"Quite frankly at this point Callaway, you can’t assure me of anything seeing as a homicidal sociopath is still out there running free and terrorizing my family," Elliot countered abruptly shaking his head with heavy dismay as Cheryl stepped out of the hallway into the living room to see their new arrival.

"What is going on in here," Cheryl questioned in confusion turning to see the expression on her husband’s face, "Avery finally just went to sleep and I was hoping we could keep it down so that she could get some rest and relaxation after last night."

"I’d like nothing more than to see our daughter-in-law get that, but unfortunately the FBI has other plans for us this morning," Elliot glared over at Callaway, "as it seems they’ve sent their brightest and best over to offer up some weak form of an apology in the hopes that it’ll erase the fact that they’ve screwed up yet again by allowing a madman to violate our son’s home and get out undetected yet again."

"Mr. Denton I realize that what your son and his wife encountered last night in their home was a horrible mishap, but…"

"Mishap?" Elliot’s eyes widened in bewilderment upon Callaway’s word selection, "I think last night goes far beyond the realm of mishap considering that there was a corpse in my son’s bedroom."

"I wasn’t trying to downplay the situation, but…" Callaway shifted on his toes uneasily as he wondered why he hadn’t just sent someone else to take care of this as he had entirely no patience for the likes of Elliot Denton after last night’s gruesome discovery.

"But nothing, my son and his wife want some peace and serenity in their lives and clearly you and your team of FBI agents running the investigations on Mathis isn’t cutting it," Elliot asserted making his way across the living room as he opened the front door once again motioning for Callaway to take a hint and leave through the same way he’d entered the Denton home moments earlier.

"We’re trying to do what we can to track Mathis down, but to do so it’s vital that we speak with your son and his wife…" Callaway frowned seeing that this was going to be far more difficult than he’d anticipated as the Denton patriarch stood before him.

"My son and his wife have made their statements about last night to Chief Warner’s men and they’ve assured my family that they’ll be right on it picking up the slack for where your agency failed," Elliot blurted out with obvious irritation.

"I realize that you think that the local police department is more close to home and able to have a personal involvement in this case, but they don‘t have the resources that the FBI has or the training. They aren‘t qualified to take care of the situation at hand and if you‘re thinking about this in terms of the good old boys making things right, then you‘re sadly mistaken Mr. Denton because that isn‘t going to be happening here…" Callaway began again feeling his politeness fading away with each passing moment.

"What I’m seeing in this case is that the Coral Valley P.D. aren’t going to sit on their duffs letting someone like Bruce Mathis outsmart them on every whim. Your men came to town taking charge of this investigation back when the world thought Mathis was dead and because of your men, he was able to find his way back into town and ruin a great many lives. That speaks volumes about the competency of the FBI, so if you’re asking me if I think that you’re incapable of getting the job done, then you’re damned right I am. If you’re asking me to help you make things worse for my son and his wife by allowing you the chance to muck things up yet again, then you’ve come to the wrong place as I’m not about to let you get the opportunity."

"This visit isn’t about my asking your permission as I’m well within my rights to speak to the both of them if I please," Callaway declared using his best poker face to throw out a severity about the notion he’d thrown on the table to Elliot Denton.

"I’d like to see you try, but know if you don’t leave my property right now, I’ll have the ‘good old boys’ as you so curtly put it come and escort you from my property in restraints as I’m quite certain after the blood bath you’ve allowed Bruce Mathis to make of an otherwise quiet little down that Chief Warner would be more than eager to find a reason to rid Coral Valley of the FBI forever," Elliot threw back at him with an angry glare firmly facing down Callaway before speaking up once again, "Now if we’re finished here, I’m not going to ask you again to leave."

Callaway stood taller, frozen for a moment as he seemed to be contemplating his next move in this standoff that Elliot had initiated. Finally he allowed his shoulders to roll back to a more casual position as he took the first step towards Elliot with a smooth stride. The two men locked gazes for a moment as the metaphorical bull horns seemed to clash once again, but instead of saying what was truly on his mind, Callaway let out a slow breath shaking his head at the elder Denton family member, "You’re making a mistake in doing this Mr. Denton."

"My only mistake was in letting you into my home in the first place," Elliot remarked dryly watching as Callaway stepped out of the home obviously agitated with the way Elliot had pushed him out.

"What just happened here," Cheryl questioned repeating the same sentiment that had overcome her before when she’d first encountered her husband taking on the FBI agent. Now as he turned around to face her after slamming the door on Callaway, she could see something dark and almost aggravated burning behind his eyes and that in itself felt so out of place.

"I’m making sure that our son doesn’t have someone else come in and trample upon the future he’s trying to make for himself," Elliot stated plainly, "as he’s had far too much of that already…"

"But that man was from the FBI," Cheryl voiced her own concerns, "shouldn’t we have at least allowed him a moment with Russ?"

"And risk having to watch Russ and Avery get worked up all over again," Elliot half questioned before shaking his head at the thought, "No, because the statement they had to make about last night is with the police department and Callaway can get it there just as easy as he could get it out of them. I would really rather keep things quiet around here."

"Honey, I know that’s what we all want, but don’t you think we should’ve left it up to Russ to decide whether or not he wanted to speak with the FBI," Cheryl stepped towards him, reaching out to touch his arm tentatively, "I mean perhaps in speaking with them…"

"Cheryl, after what I heard him saying about the FBI last night, I’m quite certain he wasn’t interested in speaking with them. Besides, it would’ve just made things harder on them and given what they’re going through," Elliot sighed heavily shaking his head as his thoughts got the best of him, "well I don’t think that this family could endure yet another loss of a child, do you?"

Cheryl’s eyes widened in complete understanding before she squeezed her fingers around her husband’s arm in a tender gesture, "Oh Elliot…"

"I just don’t want to see Russell have to go through what we did in the past," Elliot confessed wrapping his arms around his wife before he placed a gentle kiss upon the top of her head, "I know how hard things were for us and we didn’t have a murdered threatening what we had with one another…"

"But we had enough between us to make things strained," Cheryl’s sad eyes tilted up to watch his reaction closely as she thought back to a time in their lives when things had gone from wonderful to an all time low with the loss of their child.

"When I think about our baby--about what losing our little one did to you--to us, well I just don’t want our son to have to face any of that. I don’t want to watch him have his world ripped away from him again or his wife for that matter…" Elliot’s jaw clenched with tension and rage as he seemed to fall back into another place and time.

"Elliot," Cheryl brought her palm up over the center of his chest trying to pull him back from the place he’d drifted off to, "honey…Russ and Avery aren’t the two of us. Things won’t happen for them like they did with us…"

"They often said despite the best well laid plans that history repeats itself and he’s already talked with me about how Brant Ashford has also been putting a strain on their marriage," he paused hating the idea of his son ever having to endure what he went through in the past, "Should Russ and Avery lose that baby, then there’s no telling what could…"

"It won’t," Cheryl brought her finger up over his lips to silence his words before they came out, "Elliot, they aren’t going to make our mistakes and they certainly aren’t going to lose that child…"

"I wish I could be so certain, but in watching Russ, it’s like watching my own life come back to haunt me--like I’m seeing the things I didn’t do right--the things that I fought like hell to keep from happening rolling around and there’s nothing that we can do to stop it," Elliot continued his voice tight with emotion, "When I see him and Avery together. Cheryl, he loves her like I love you and with Ashford playing a heavy presence in their lives…"

"It’s not going to change things," Cheryl reached out to him once again, "Russ and Avery have had something special for a long time. They love one another with everything that they are and that’s the one thing that we all have in common as you and I found a way to make it even with the pain and suffering along the way. We beat the odds with one another and we have to believe that our son’s marriage will be able to do the same."

"We almost lost everything once upon a time," he pointed out a frown touching over the crease in his lips, "Cheryl we both know how close we came to it after…"

"After I let you down when I lost our baby," Cheryl blurted out lowering her head, unable to face him as the years of guilt and anguish rolled out from inside of her.

"Losing our child was a pain that cut straight to the heart of us both and in what followed after our child was taken from us, well Cheryl, I know that it wasn’t your fault," Elliot reached out to her touching the side of her face gently as he beckoned her to meet his eyes once again, "I don’t blame you for any of it and you have to stop blaming yourself for that."

"Still, they say it all lies in sins of the father…or in this case the mother perhaps," Cheryl found herself unable to keep the tears that pooled in her eyes from escaping, "Maybe the reason Russ is having such difficulty with his marriage is because of me--because of what I’ve done…"

"No," Elliot cut her off abruptly, "this all started the day the Ashfords came into our lives and as they were before, they won’t stop until they’ve found a way to destroy the rest of us. We just have to make sure that never happens especially not for Russ as we‘ve worked so hard to see to it that would never be."

"It won’t happen to Russ," Cheryl replied urgently as her eyes filled with a mixture of concern and fear, "We can’t let this all come back to haunt him. We can’t allow everything we’ve worked so hard to fight for all these years blow up in our faces. I love our son too much for him to have to endure what we have…"

"Which is why I think that it’s best that we handle this in our own way without having to deal with the FBI or anyone else who won’t have our son’s best interest at hand," Elliot insisted thinking to what his son was facing, "We just need to focus on what we can do to help Russ and Avery and that precious little baby they’re dreaming about bringing into the world. That’s really what matters and I’m ready to do everything in my power to make that happen."

"So am I," Cheryl decided realizing that maybe her husband had a point as the FBI had never been trusted in her eyes, yet with the impending thought of Bruce Mathis on the loose, she began to wonder what was the bigger threat to her son’s happiness--the serial killer madman fixated on Avery or the Ashford legacy that had always haunted the lives of her family. Either way she vowed not to let her son’s future be at risk because of the mistakes she’d made in the past. One way or another they’d have to see to it that Russ and Avery never fell upon the same fate that Cheryl and Elliot had as it was far too high of a price to pay for anyone.


Stewing over the loss of control that he’d experienced inside the Denton home, Travis Callaway now sat in his sedan, holding his cell phone to his ear behind clenched fingers as he watched the small home intently. While he’d had a certain plan set out before him in making this personal visit, it hadn’t gone at all as he’d been hoping for as the voice on the other end of the line mirrored his own displeasure.

"Yes…I tried," Callaway began apologetically, "but apparently Elliot Denton is far more bullheaded than I’d anticipated, but don’t worry I’ll get a few words in with Avery and smooth things over. Certainly what Mathis did last night made an impact, but I’ll be on damage control soon enough…"

"You’d better be," the voice on the other end of the line warned, "because if this goes in any other direction than the one I’d planned upon, it’ll be your head and your career on the line. Are we understood?"

"Of course," Callaway promised hearing the line go dead before he tucked his cell phone into his pocket vowing to find a way to reach the newlyweds one way or another as the future plans were riding upon his ability to spin gold from straw so to speak where Bruce Mathis was concerned. His visit to the Denton home last night had certainly caused a rift in some very well laid plans, but soon Callaway would spin the situation in his favor and when that happened, well he was quite certain he’d find a way to gain the rewards out of life that he so richly deserved. In fact, he was banking on it.


Deidra stepped off the elevator and walked onto the obstetrics floor. As she looked down the hallway, she studied every aspect of her new working environment, hoping to fit in as soon as possible. This would be the first time she’d practice professionally in Coral Valley, and it was important to her that she could make a strong practice for herself. She wanted to make all her family and friends proud of her, and she also wanted to prove herself in her home town.
She pushed open the doors to the obstetrics office wing and made her way to the front desk. She stopped and smiled at the receptionist.

“I’m Deidra Byrne. I’m supposed to start today,” Deidra announced herself with a smile.

“Ah, Doctor Byrne, we’ve been expecting you,” The receptionist smiled as she stood and extended her hand, “I’m April Collins. I’m the receptionist for the obstetricians here in the hospital offices. If you need anything or have any questions, you can just ask me. We have a nurse for each doctor here, and your nurse will be Denise Nielsen. She’ll be in to meet with you before your first patient arrives,” April paused, “Let’s see…I’ll give you a schedule of your day each morning,” She began as she passed Deidra a piece of paper detailing her day’s schedule, “And if you need anything else, just ask,” She smiled.

“Wow…everything seems good,” Deidra smiled before she paused, “Except…I’m not quite sure where my office here at the hospital is located.”

“Go right down this hall and take a right. It’ll be the first door on the left,” April smiled as she placed a key into Deidra’s hand.

“Thanks,” Deidra smiled as she made her way towards her office. She’d taken an office here at the hospital while she scouted the area for a suitable building in which to set up a private practice. She hadn’t quite had the time yet, but she would. In the meantime, however, she could practice medicine at the hospital and serve her patients to the best of her ability.

She turned the corner and found the first door on the left. She slipped the key into the lock and opened the door. She paused as she spotted the large spray of white roses upon the otherwise bare desk.

“Good luck on your first day at work,” Dave spoke from behind her as she spun to meet his eyes.

“I should have known you were behind this,” She smiled brightly as she stepped into her new office and placed her schedule down in order to smell the roses, “These are beautiful.”

“I’m glad you like them. I figured that your new office should have something to perk it up, and what better way to do that than with your favorite flower,” He stepped into the office behind her.

“I can’t believe you remembered that I like the white ones,” She glanced over at him, “Unless you called my mom to ask.”

“I swear I do remember some things. Besides, I’m a cop. I know all the details of my suspect.”
“Suspect?” Deidra asked as she turned her attention towards him and sat on the corner of the desk, “And just what am I suspected of doing?”

“Being just too adorable for words,” He said seriously.

“Oh god…absolutely not guilty,” She giggled as she looked away in embarrassment.
“Oh I don’t know. You’re acting guilty,” He teased as he moved forward, “So are you nervous?”

“Excited is a better word for it. I mean, yeah I’m a little nervous because it is my first day, but I’m so excited to finally get back to work,” She glanced at her schedule, “I only have a few patients today, and maybe that means I’ll be able to leave early. I want to look at some of the professional office parks around for some office space.”

“You’re not going to stay here at the hospital?” He asked as he sat in one of the chairs in front of the desk.

“I want to maintain a private practice as well as one here at the hospital. I want to be able to offer the best of all services to my patients, and I’ve found the best way to do that is to work through both an outside office as well as an office at the hospital.”

“Maybe I could help you with that,” He offered.

“Dave, you’ve been holding my hand ever since I got here. I can’t ask you for any more help. I really do have to learn how to do something for myself,” She sighed before offering a smile, “But I appreciate the offer.”

“Okay,” He shrugged, “Just remember I offered.”

“I will,” She smiled.

“Are we still on for dinner tonight?”

“Are you kidding me? Of course we are. I wouldn’t miss a chance for you to pay for dinner,” She teased with a wink.

“I see how it works. I’m just a meal ticket,” He teased with a sigh, “Oh well, I guess I have to take it where I can get it.”

“Oh hush,” She smiled as she stood and looked to him, “Don’t you have a job to do Mr. Chief of Police?”

“Yeah yeah, don’t remind me,” He smiled as he stood and met her eyes, “Hey, if you need me to come down here and take you away from all this…”

“I’ll be just fine,” She declared as she turned him towards the door, “Now go…I’ll see you this evening.”

“Okay okay, I’m going,” Dave turned back to her, “Are you sure?”

“Positive,” Deidra groaned as she gave him a good shove to send him on his way. He chuckled as he walked down the corridor at her urging. She watched him turn the corner before she stepped into her office and closed the door. She looked to the roses adorning her desk and smiled. She could always count on Dave to bring her a smile even when she wasn’t looking for one. He’d found the perfect way to break the ice for her today, and she found herself now looking forward more than ever to getting to work.


Jade knocked lightly upon the door and waited for Grady to answer. It seemed kind of odd to be knocking on the door after all the time she’d spent with Grady, but since she’d been the one to call for the temporary lull in their relationship, she had to abide by all the rules including behaving like a visitor at Grady’s house.

The door opened to reveal Susan standing in a man’s dress shirt similar to one she’d seen Grady wear many times. Jade frowned as she met Susan’s eyes.

“Where’s Grady?” Jade asked bluntly as she stepped into the house, brushing by Susan.
“I didn’t say you could come in,” Susan declared in disgust.

“I didn’t ask, did I?” Jade asked as she walked across the room looking for Grady, “I’m here to see Grady.”

“He’s taking a shower,” Susan stood at the doorway, “And if you’ll leave, I’ll join him.”

Jade snorted, “And then he’ll spend the rest of the day puking in disgust. Give it up, lady. You don’t fool me for a moment.”

“Grady is my ex-husband. I know every intimate detail about him, and I know just how to arouse him to drive him crazy. You will never know him the way I know him,” Susan stepped forward and met Jade’s eyes.

“You’re right. I already know him better than you do. I know that Grady doesn’t give a damn about your sleazy lifestyle or ambitious career whoring around. He cares about being happy and having a stable life and all the things that you could never understand.”

“And you think you know him so well?” Susan asked as she looked at her rival, “You don’t have the first clue about how to truly get Grady’s attention.”

“Well I damn sure wouldn’t do it by being quite so obvious,” Jade smiled bitterly, “You think that moving in here is going to get Grady’s attention? All you’ve done is pissed him off, and if you haven’t noticed, pissing him off isn’t the smartest thing in the world. He’s a very stubborn man, and once he’s good and angry, he doesn’t let go of that anger easily. He’s going to find a way to get rid of you, and when he does, I’ll be on the side lines cheering for his victory,” She winked at Susan to further the jab a bit.

“Why you…” Susan began as she started towards Jade.

“Jade,” Grady spoke with recognition as he emerged from his bedroom, buttoning his shirt. He cast a glance in Susan’s direction and rolled his eyes, “For pete’s sake, what did you do? Go rummaging through my laundry hamper? You’re pathetic,” He waved for Jade to join him, “What brings you over here this morning?”

“I ran into Cameron last night, and he scares me, Grady. He never gives up, and I just don’t get it,” Jade blurted out as she and Grady stepped into his bedroom.

Susan crossed her arms as she thought about what Jade had just said. If Cameron frightened little Jade, then Susan would have do everything she could to help Cameron in whatever quest he had regarding that particular thorn in her side. Hopefully whatever it was, it would help her get Jade out of Grady’s life so that she could take her place at his side once again.


Blake knocked lightly on the door to Caitlin’s hospital room and smiled as she entered, “Good morning,” She spoke in a sing-song voice as she stepped inside, “You’re looking good today,” She spoke as she stepped across the room.

Caitlin finished brushing her hair as she studied her friend’s buoyancy so early in the morning. She smiled as she put her brush down on the hospital table, “You’re more chipper than I’ve seen you in a very long time. You must be walking on air.”

“I certainly feel like it,” Blake smiled as she sat on the end of Caitlin’s bed, “I feel like I’m on top of the world and no one can touch me.”

“Wow, so what put you on top of the world? Or do I have to ask?” Caitlin asked before she shifted under her covers.

“Seth,” Blake beamed, “He’s just been so amazing to me. He’s been supportive and fun loving and gentle and sweet,” She spoke in happiness, “I couldn’t have asked for any better.”

“So…” Caitlin began, “When did you two make up? I mean after what he said about your father…”

Blake’s bright smile faded, “Well, actually, it turns out that not everything he said was a lie. I mean…I still don’t think my father was directly involved, but my father’s associates certainly were.”

“But…so how did you find out?”

“There were pictures Seth showed me. I recognized a few of the people in the pictures, and…” Blake paused as she looked away in pain as she thought of what she had seen, “Anyway, we both realized that there were things we did that we wrong, but we’re together now,” She smiled.

“And Zack?” Caitlin asked, “I’m not asking as his sister. I’m asking as your friend, Blake. Believe me, I have no illusions where my brother’s concerned, but I know that you care for him. I’m just wondering how your heart has dealt with that.”

Blake stood from the bed and walked to the window to look out at the park below, “I’m not really sure I can answer that question. So much has happened, but…” She paused, “I still love Zack. He’s hurt me with the things that he’s done, and now that I know he’s going to be a father,” She shook her head, “It’s just not an easy thing to deal with, you know? But I do love him. Still, I love Seth as well. He’s so good to me.”

“You don’t have to sell him to me, you know,” Caitlin explained as Blake looked at her curiously, “Blake, you keep expounding on how wonderful he is, but it’s enough for me to see you smiling this way.”

“But Zack is your brother.”

“Who has plenty of problems of his own that you don’t need in your life. Don’t get me wrong. I love my brother, but I love you too. I want you both to be happy, but somehow…I don’t think you two can find that happiness together, not while you both have so much to resolve in your own lives.”

“I don’t want to do that, Caitlin. I don’t want to give up on having Zack in my life,” Blake admitted as she looked to her friend, “I know I shouldn’t say that considering I’m with Seth now, but…I’ve always dreamt of being with Zack for the rest of my life. I don’t want to just forget those dreams ever existed.”

“You don’t have to forget they ever existed, Blake. You just look back on them and see that things changed to push you in a different direction. You never know…things may become better than you can imagine,” Caitlin reasoned before smiling, “Besides, something tells me you’re off to a good start with Seth.”

Blake’s face illuminated in happiness, “I think I am. He’s everything I could have dreamt of…but…”

“He’s not Zack,” Caitlin frowned slightly, “I’m sorry, Blake.”

“So am I,” Blake sighed, “But I’m not sorry that I’m involved with Seth. I love him. I do, and I’m not ashamed of that fact.”

“Nor should you be,” Caitlin smiled, “You should be proud of the man you love, and I’m glad that you are.”

Blake smiled as she sat down upon the window ledge, “So what about you and Kenny? How are you guys doing?”

Caitlin’s smile fell, “I’m not so sure.”

“What does that mean?” Blake asked in concern.

“It means that Susan came here to declare her intentions to get Ken back into her bed,” Caitlin felt tears begin to choke her, “I’m just afraid that she’s going to win.”

“What? Why would you say that?” Blake asked as she quickly moved in to sit beside her friend.

“Because he didn’t tell me that he had been with her the other night. You remember yesterday when I asked you if he was acting strangely? It turns out that she had gone to him the night before. He swears to me that nothing happened and he would never turn to her, but I find myself wondering if that’s the truth.”


“It’s just that…well, I feel like a burden to him.”

“Caitlin…no…” Blake began.

“I do,” Caitlin stated again, “I’ve brought the pain of my past into his life which I’m sure is the last thing he needs. I mean…I know he loves me, and I know that he knows that I love him. It’s just that I wonder if that’s enough.”

“Of course that’s enough,” Blake urged her friend.

“It wasn’t enough for you and Zack,” Caitlin reminded her, “Sometimes love just isn’t enough, and I find myself wondering if he’ll be seduced by her. Lord knows that I haven’t been the sexiest woman in the world, and if she offers herself to him often enough…he may not be able to deny her.”

“Caitlin, this is Kenny we’re talking about. He’s not like that.”

“Blake, he’s human, and besides,” Caitlin paused as she weighed her words before speaking, “We haven’t made love, and I’m just afraid that if she invites him into her bed, he won’t exactly have any reason to say no.”

“Caitlin,” Blake began before she moved closer to Caitlin and took her hand, “Susan may be relentless, but Kenny loves you. He loves you with all his heart, and I’ve never seen him more dedicated to anyone. He’s not going to be swayed by anything Susan says or does. She might try her damnedest, and she may be a serious thorn in your side. But I promise you that she doesn’t have a chance of actually succeeding where Kenny’s concerned. He isn’t going to betray you, Caitlin. He loves you too much to ever do anything to hurt you.”

Caitlin looked into her friend’s eyes, “Then why do I feel so scared?”

“Because it’s our nature to worry,” Blake smiled softly, “But I promise you that you don’t have anything to worry about. Everything’s going to be just fine, and one of these days, you’ll say that I told you so.”

“Oh boy,” Caitlin allowed a smile to begin as she hugged her friend, “Thank you for being here for me. You’re still my best friend in the entire world. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d be completely hopeless,” Blake teased as she eased back to look into Caitlin’s eyes, “So when are you going to get out of here?”

“Hopefully tomorrow. The doctors have been happy with my progress, and I’m just itching to get out of here,” Caitlin smiled.

“I can’t wait for you to get out of here. We’ll have to go shopping and have a day out just as soon as you’re better,” Blake smiled happily.

“A day out?” Zack spoke from the doorway, “Sounds like a good time for everyone.”

Blake turned and looked at the man she’d been trying to avoid. She took a deep breath as her heart began to race wildly in her chest at the sight of him.

Caitlin looked between her brother and her best friend. She wasn’t sure how this tense situation could be resolved. She only hoped that everyone’s feelings could be spared in the end.


Seth finished with the first roll of film before him having successfully developed the images from the school play that he and Blake had attended with one another. A smile lifted over his features at that thought of the time he and Blake had shared with one another. Certainly life had thrown him a loop lately, but one in which he could truly grow accustomed to it seemed as the time he’d spent with Blake had been some of the best moments ever. Unfortunately Seth knew all too well what happiness brought as he’d seen it ripped from him time and time again thanks to his father’s nefarious past. Still over the last few days he’d gained some hope for the future and maybe just maybe Blake would realize that Seth was the man who could truly give her the love she deserved.

If only she hadn’t had lingering feelings for Zack, Seth frowned thinking of the other man in the situation. It seemed so unfair to be stuck in such a position though Seth really couldn’t fault Zack for caring about Blake as in being with her just once it would be hard for anyone to resist a woman like Blake. She was bright, beautiful and stunning in every sense of the word and between her wit, intellect and charm she was any man’s dream. However, Seth had hoped that she’d be able to be his dream without the chain of men pursuing Blake along the way as well, though in some strange way Seth had to wonder if he’d been doomed from the moment Zack had arrived in Coral Valley. Clearly Blake had some lingering feelings for Zack which were only pushed to the front burner when Seth told her the truth about what her father had done, but now, well now it seemed the playing field had been evened out due to Zack’s less than generous behavior.

Still, Seth realized that he didn’t want Blake to come to him as afterthought--as a second choice because Zack had found himself in a tentative position with another woman. Seth had fought like hell to put things off until Blake’s heart was clear about things, but once the two of them had made love, well the lines became blurred and Seth couldn’t help but give his heart to her again and again as this time with Blake was everything he’d ever truly wanted. However, knowing that she was still attached to Zack always left him feeling a bit unsure of himself and of their relationship as he began to ponder how long it would be until the other shoe dropped and she left him for Zack again.

Of course who could really blame her, Seth frowned thinking of how his father’s actions had lead to the distance that grew between Seth and Blake. While he hadn’t exactly been sensitive about revealing the secret to her, he knew that hadn’t been using a whole lot of tact either as it seemed that he’d only hurt Blake on so many levels that he swore to himself he’d never sink to. Seeing the pain that swept over her blue eyes once he’d confessed what her father had done had ripped his heart out, but instead of trying to repair the damage, the distance had only grown between them and there was a time when Seth feared that he’d never be able to get Blake back. He’d realized once again that his father had found a way to hurt him all over again as the horrors that had been bestowed upon Jade would always linger over the Alexander family like a dark cloud of thunder raging from within. It wasn’t fair, but then again it seemed that life was seldom fair in that aspect. Still, as Seth began to think about Blake and Zack being with one another, it hurt him more than he was willing to admit as he’d really believed that he’d finally had that one shot at happiness with Blake--that perhaps even after all the sins of their fathers they could find a way to break past it, but then the handsome, hotshot doctor walked back into Blake’s life and complicated things.

Unfortunately even now when Zack was on the outs with Blake, Seth couldn’t help but realize that Zack had quite a few strong points that he couldn’t come close to touching with Blake. Zack was a doctor with a secure financial background that would no doubt have him running things soon enough in Coral Valley while Seth had been lucky to barely finish up with his bachelor’s degree through the community college distance learning center as Jade’s career had been far more important than what happened to him. Even now he knew that with his photography it wouldn’t become a multi-million dollar achievement and it most certainly wouldn’t be what Blake was used to. Seth and Jade had hit rock bottom time and time again living with next to nothing to survive while Seth was sure that Zack Vaughn and his family wouldn’t have ever had to experience such a thing. Zack was the all American good guy that every mother wanted their daughter to be with while Seth was the underdog, the kind of man that never meshed well with country clubs and yet Seth wished that he could’ve been. He wished that somehow he could’ve been all those thing for Blake that Zack could be, but then again maybe that wasn’t what Blake was looking for. After all Seth was the man she was with currently, but for how long, he pondered as a frown touched over his lips.

"Stop trying to live in the negative," he reminded himself with a scowl taking a moment to step out of the darkroom as he tried to keep his pessimism from getting the best of him, but before he could try to muster up that misplaced optimism inside of him, he came face to face with one of the last people he wanted to be seeing--Thea.

"Well hello sexy," Thea licked her lips stepping closer to him as her dark eyes gave him a very hefty perusal, "miss me?"

"Thea," Seth spoke her name inwardly feeling his body tense up at the thought of having to be anywhere near her especially at a time like this when he would rather just as soon avoid her.

"I’ll bet you thought I forgot about you, didn’t you," she shook her head allowing her tongue to roll gingerly over her bottom lip as she eyed him like the cat who ate the canary.

"Actually, I was kind of hoping that you would…" Seth blurted out allowing his thoughts to get the best of him before he could censor himself.

"Of course you don’t mean that," Thea chuckled with mild amusement waving her hand at him dismissively, "but that’s cute that you’re in the mood to play."

"Actually…" Seth started once again.

"I came here to tell you that I’ve got big news for you today," Thea bridged the distance between them offering out her hand which now contained a piece of white paper, "as today is your lucky day."

"What is this?" Seth questioned wearily eyeing the scrap of paper before him.

"This is your two ‘o’ clock appointment," she explained matter of fact tossing her dark hair back over her shoulder, "as Cameron’s wife Heather is expecting to meet with you in her temporary office where you will charm the pants off of her by any means necessary so that she will hire you into her joke of a company. Then once you’re in, well then you and I can work on getting you out of the hot seat with Cameron so to speak."

"You mean you’ll just have me doing favors for you instead of Cameron, right," he remarked skeptically.

"Oh Seth honey," Thea stepped forward curling her finger over the center of his chest, teasing her nail atop of his shirt before tugging on it furiously as she yanked him in towards her, "you’ll find you will much prefer my method of madness to Cameron’s string of torture. A union like this between us can only be beneficial for the both of us."

"Something tells me that my working for Cameron’s wife is due to benefit you more than it will me," Seth threw back at her unwavering in his tone.

"That’s where you’re wrong Seth as exposure like that might bring you one step closer to what it really is that you want out of life," Thea stated plainly watching the way Seth’s eyes flickered with the first taste of terror it seemed, "as I’m quite certain Blake’s already spoken with you about that photo shoot with Bella Vogue."

"You set that up," Seth’s jaw dropped in horror as a wicked smirk pressed over Thea’s lips as she leaned up on the tips of her toes, her heated breath pressing in over his features.

"What? Did you think Blake was the only one with connections," she laughed heartily shaking her head once again before releasing him, "I do happen to hold a lot of weight in the world of fashion as Bella Vogue’s publishing company is just one of the many companies that Stone Corp is financing behind the scenes if you will."

"So you’re trying to set Blake up by getting her to play into the shoot," Seth’s voice darkened with anger.

"No, you’ll be shooting her so that you can see I’m on the up and up with you where your interests are concerned unless of course you’re unwilling to help partake in mine," Thea’s crimson colored lips curled in a subtle pout, "though you wouldn’t really disappoint me like that, would you Seth?"

Seth remained silent for a long moment before finally relenting, "What is it you want me to do Thea?"

"You just show up for your interview, charm the current Mrs. Stone and get yourself hired," she shrugged her shoulders returning to the casual nature she’d had when Seth had first discovered her standing in the studio.

"And then what," he questioned still skeptical.

"You just keep an eye on the little tramp and let me know if she’s doing anything that could be deemed inappropriate behavior," she explained her lips curling into a deep rooted frown at the mention of Heather, "When she slips up, I want to hear about it regardless of how trivial it might seem because I’m quite certain that she will in fact screw up sooner or later."

"So you just want me to spy on Cameron’s wife, huh," Seth folded his arms in front of his chest contemplating her words, "Won’t Cameron be a little upset with my doing that?"

"Don’t you worry that pretty little head of yours about Cameron as I can take care of him," Thea informed him with a sultry expression as she reached out to take another sample of the steely contours of his chest once again, "You just focus on what I tell you to do and then we’ll be in good graces with one another."

"And if I refuse to go to that interview," Seth challenged arching a brow as he tested the waters with Thea.

"Then you’ll get me rather upset Seth and I’ll have no choice to go to Cameron with the news of your failure to get the microfilm and with these," Thea reached into her oversized purse pulling out a large manila envelope and handing it over to Seth, "which I’m quite certain you wouldn’t want anyone getting their hands on right about now--although I must say that I can certainly see that I was right about you and that Blake, well she’s a lucky girl…"

"What is this," Seth questioned ripping open the envelope as he feared the worst discovering that there were images of him and Blake with one another at the Ashford guest house making love with one another.

"I especially like that one as it features your good side there though you really don’t have a bad side it seems which is much to what I held in my imagination," he heard Thea blurt out as he felt her step in beside him wiggling her finger at one of the images in particular as he quickly pushed the photos into the envelope again.

"Where did you get these," Seth asked in horror feeling as if his time spent with Blake had been violated now that Thea had clearly been spying on them.

"I have my resources as there are eyes everywhere in this town," she motioned to the envelope that Seth held in his hands, "though don’t worry those copies are yours to keep as I have many more to go around."

"Look I don’t know where you get off on…" Seth’s anger rushed to the surface as he found himself wanting to tear the petite woman before him apart.

"No, you listen to me Seth," Thea cut him off abruptly, "I’m offering you a chance to make a little money and get a name for yourself in the fashion world. You can either take me up on that offer and clear your debt to Cameron with the microfilm while gaining some experience in your desired professional field or you can choose not to go to that interview I lined up, but I warn you now if you do those photos along with some very racy ones I found in Cameron’s office of your sister will be the front page story by tonight. Do I make myself clear?"

"In other words there isn’t a choice in the matter," Seth frowned heavily.

"Oh Seth, there’s always a choice, but this afternoon I just suggest that you choose the option I gave you as I’m sure it’ll be a good career move on your part," Thea urged him on patting his arm encouragingly, "Though I do have one more request…"

"And what might that be," Seth grumbled in response shrugging out of her hold on him.

"Don’t be so tense Seth as I’m sure this one will be something you can live with," she spoke up again in a bright tone, "as while I want you to get the job this afternoon, I don’t want Heather to know that I’m the one who referred you. It’s best to keep that between us for all purposes intended."

"You mean so that Cameron doesn’t know what you’re up to, right?" he deducted.

"What Cameron doesn’t know won’t hurt him," Thea pointed out with a cryptic expression, "as I think that theory works out best for the both of us. Wouldn’t you agree?"

"So all I have to do is show up today for this appointment with Heather and get hired?" Seth questioned tentatively realizing that in this situation that was the only available option to him.

"That’s right and then I’ll call you later tonight to see how it went. Hopefully, we’ll both have something to celebrate, but until then," Thea stepped forward grabbing him with all her strength as she laid a sloppy kiss upon him before throwing him away from her. She licked her lips giving him another once over, "wear something sexy as Heather’s a sucker for men who make great eye candy such as yourself," she finished throwing one last wave before walking out of the studio and leaving Seth to his task at hand.

Once Seth heard the door close behind Thea, he ripped up the envelope she’d handed him taking it straight to the office part of the studio where they had a date with the shredder. Just thinking about someone spying on him and Blake made his skin crawl and furthermore the thought that Thea had set up the photo shoot that Blake was so very happy about was worse yet. He just hoped that this particular task wouldn’t blow up in his face as there was so much riding on his future now that he’d finally regained Blake’s trust once again. He had to find a way to tell Blake about what was going on without someone spying in on them and he’d also have to get himself hired at Cameron’s wife’s company just until he found an out in this situation as he feared what Thea would do to destroy Blake and Jade if he wasn’t careful in how he played things.


The soft subtle rays of the sun’s morning arrival had long passed as Russell kept Avery safe within the warm confines of his arms wondering how in the world things had gotten so twisted for the both of them. While the previous evening had been strained enough after his confrontation with Brant, nothing could’ve prepared Russ for what was next when he and Avery had arrived home ready to put the whole horrible mess behind them. Now as they lay together in his old room at his parents house, he had to wonder who they’d agitated on a karmic level to have such a run of bad luck as it seemed that the outside forces in Coral Valley were pitted against them, working to tear apart the happiness they’d found with one another. It didn’t seem right for one couple to have to endure so very much early on, but alas it seemed that this was the card that fate had thrown them.

Yet, despite all the worries and the fears Russell had about what the future could hold for him and his wife, he found himself put at ease in just being able to hold her like this--to watch as she remained oblivious to the horrors of the world while lost in her dreams. Judging by the expression on her face her dreams clearly were of a much better content as she seemed to melt against him, snuggling into the warmth of his body without reservation as they’d been able to capture a moment’s peace with one another. Even as he thought of how upset she’d been last night when they’d come here with one another, he never believed that she’d be at rest like this, but now, well it was a more than welcome moment between them.

Reaching out to touch her cheek gently, Russell fingered a few loose strands of Avery’s hair as a smile crept in over his handsome features, "I love you beautiful," he whispered leaning in to kiss her forehead as he found himself unable to refrain from the gesture.

"I love you too," Avery murmured under her breath as he began to pull away from her. He noticed that a soft, hint of a smile tickled over her soft, full lips as her eyelashes fluttered open to gaze upon him.

"Hey, I thought you were sleeping," Russell couldn’t help but offer up with a touch of laughter in his voice as he thought of how breathtakingly beautiful she was beside him.

"I was, but then something told me that I should wake up since it would seem I have the ultimate dream right beside me with his arms wrapped securely around me," she confessed with another quick flutter of her eyelashes.

"That’s funny because I was just thinking the very same thing about the woman in my arms," he admitted leaning in towards her to kiss her gently.

"Mmm…" Avery hummed against his lips feeling a warmth curl down to the tips of her toes as she held onto him savoring this moment of peace and calm between them before they parted and their eyes reconnected. "How is it that you find ways each day to make me fall more and more in love with you?"

"It’s a gift," he teased with a wink watching her shake her head upon his words before her eyes did a quick scan of the room they were in and her smile faded a bit.

"We’re still at your parents house," Avery frowned back at him growing immediately into a state of unease as she thought back to the night preceding their morning with one another.

"Yes, we are Avery, but right now I think that’s what’s best for us. My parents don’t mind us staying for a while and…" Russell started hoping to put her at ease as he hated to see her so upset.

"And we get to act like victims being driven from our home because of what Bruce did. He took our private, special place where we hoped to bring our son or daughter into this world and turned it into--" she shuddered at the thought as Russell cut her off in the moment.

"Avery, you can’t think like that. I mean yes I know that what happened last night was awful…" he offered in response.

"Awful doesn’t even begin to cover it Russ. Bruce broke into our home, carried in a dead woman or for all we know he murdered her right before we came in and left the whole horrible ordeal for us on video tape all the while pledging his supposed love to me as he issued a deadly warning to you…."

"Even so Avery, that doesn’t mean that we have to let him destroy what we have. The police are going to find him and…" he tried to reason with her.

"Russ, they haven’t made an inch of progress since this whole nightmare began and I have little to no faith in their finding Bruce before he finds us and does something horrible to you, me or our baby," she confessed biting on her lower lip as tears pooled in her eyes, "Russ, we’re only tempting fate in sticking around to watch the aftermath of Bruce’s destruction."

"Avery, I know that it seems like he’s got the upper hand right now, but I swear to you we’re going to find him and see to it that he’s put away for the rest of his life," Russell decided firmly, "We’ll make sure that he never has a chance to hurt or terrify you again and then, well then we won’t have to keep running away from what he’s thrown at us."

"Even so with us being here with your parents, well it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but I just think about our home--about our beginnings and how Bruce stole that from us…" Avery started desperately unable to contain her tears. "He took something so precious between us and turned it into madness."

"He didn’t take what we have between us and destroy it Avery. We still have each other and I don’t care where we are as long as I have you," he pleaded with her brushing his thumb against her cheek gingerly. "What we have in our hearts is all that matters."

"I realize that Russ and I truly want to believe that, but what about our baby? What do we do when our child comes into the world and Bruce is still out there trying to get us? Are we ever really going to feel safe in our home again knowing that Bruce was able to break in like that? To know that he can come about anytime he pleases to gain the upper hand?"

"Avery, he won’t do that…" he started.

"How can you be sure? How can you really be sure of anything after last night?" she challenged her doubts flooding over her.

"We’ll change the locks and get a security system and then do whatever we can to help the police find him…" he began in suggestion.

"But will that be enough? Russ, will it ever be enough for us after all I’ve done to put this lunatic into our lives? What if we’re never free of him? What if he decides that he’s tired of waiting and he hurts you? What if…" she broke down into full blown tears.

"Baby, I’m not going to let that happen," he pulled her into his arms more completely, "I swear to you that I’ll do everything in my power to keep you safe. I’ll dedicate myself to protecting our love until my last breath…"

"That’s just it Russ. I don’t want Bruce to be the cause of your last breath like that because if I ever lost you again…" Avery continued desperately, "Russ, I just can’t…"

"You won’t have to," he tried to assure her squeezing her in his arms more firmly as she broke down completely against him, "I promise it won’t get to that."

"Russ, you can’t make promises you can’t keep and I can’t live with the thought of Bruce taking anything more away from us. I love you so much that…" she sobbed unable to contain her tears.

"That we’re going to keep fighting for our love," he promised again hating to see her torn apart over something like this, "Avery, I know that right now we’re thinking the worst and feeling the aftershocks of this latest stunt Bruce has pulled, but right now I’d really like for us to try not to focus on Bruce."

"Russ I…" she began in protest turning her eyes up towards him as he cupped her face in his hands tenderly.

"Avery, I know it’s horrible, but right now I’d like to focus on you--on us and on our child," he continued with his words, "We both know that stress like this isn’t good for the baby and when you passed out last night…well I wish you’d let me take you to the hospital…"

"I don’t want to be stuck in the hospital," she argued with him stubbornly, "I don’t want to be out in the open where Bruce can just roam around and use his connections to reach us."

"So then at least let me call Deidra," Russell suggested urgently, "Let me see if she can set something up with us--something private and away from the public so that we can make sure everything is going okay."

"Going okay," Avery repeated her eyes widening in surprise, "Russ, you don’t think something’s wrong with our baby, do you?"

"No, that’s not what I’m saying Avery," he answered quickly seeing that he’d clearly brought about a sense of panic from within her, "All I’m trying to suggest is that we should just be sure…just take a moment for us and our family. I mean hey, what could be a better alternative to worrying about all the chaos than getting an up close and personal view of our baby?"

"Well, when you put it that way…" Avery sighed seeing some reasoning behind where he was headed with the conversation between them.

"At least let me call Deidra," he urged on again watching as she finally nodded.

"Okay," she decided with a sigh, "but can we put it off for a little while longer because right now all I really want is for us to just be like this without anyone else between us for a little while. I want to have you hold me if that’s okay."

"Avery, you should know by now that’s more than okay as there‘s nothing I could love more than just that," he snuggled in beside her coaxing her in closer to his waiting body as he allowed the warmth of her to fill him up inside. As she settled in over him, he wrapped his arms around her securely closing his eyes as he felt her palm press upon his chest and he said a silent prayer to the heavens above that fate would finally give the two of them a break as he was starting to feel like they’d been thrown far more disaster than two people in love should ever have to endure.


Deidra stepped into the exam room while glancing over her patient’s records, “I’m Doctor Deidra Byrne,” She announced as she glanced up to meet her patient.

“Johanna Larsen,” Johanna smiled softly while she adjusted the paper gown the nurse had given her, “This is always so awkward.”

“I know, but we’ll try to make it as easy for you as possible,” Deidra smiled to help ease the situation for her obviously nervous patient. She took a seat upon a stool and glanced at the chart, “It says here that you recently discovered you were pregnant, and here’s the blood test to confirm it,” She smiled as she continued reading over the blood test results, “All your blood work is normal, but your iron is a little low. It’s still within the normal range but on the low side. I’m going to prescribe you some prenatal vitamins with an iron supplement as well,” She paused as she closed the chart and looked to Johanna, “This is your first child?”

“Yeah,” Johanna nodded, “I’m kind of nervous. I just want my baby to be healthy.”

“And we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that happens for you,” Deidra smiled, “I suppose you know that all the normal stuff about taking care of yourself applies double now.”

Johanna nodded with a smile, “I’ve been watching my diet to make sure I’m getting all food groups, and I’ve completely cut out alcohol. I’ve cut down on caffeine, and I’ve been keeping up my exercise though I have been feeling a bit more tired lately.”

“That’s perfectly normal. The first few months of pregnancy are when your body is changing the most hormonally and chemically. Your body experiences more fatigue because of those changes,” Deidra explained, “Have any of the women in your family experienced any problems during pregnancy?”

“Not that I know of,” Johanna answered as Deidra stood.

“Well then, I don’t think we’re going to have to take any extreme measures as you’re already taking all the precautions necessary. So why don’t you lie back and we’ll get a first look at the baby?” Deidra smiled.

“We can really do that? So soon?” Johanna asked with a smile growing upon her features.

“We can try. Some babies can be a little shy, but we’ll see if we can get yours to show us a little smile,” Deidra smiled with encouragement as she moved to the machine and pulled it along side her patient, “This gel is going to be a little warm.”

Johanna nodded as Deidra prepared placed the gel upon her abdomen and began to move the wand over the gel. Johanna stared at the ceiling, hoping that everything with the baby would be picture perfect.

Deidra watched the monitor carefully before she paused and smiled, “Okay, there’s the baby.”

“What? Where?” Johanna asked as she looked to the screen.

“Right here,” Deidra pointed out the baby, “Here’s the head, there’s the feet, and look…there’s a little fist.”

Johanna smiled as she felt tears pooling in her eyes. It hadn’t seemed so real until now. It had felt just like a dream, but in seeing her child upon the screen, it all came into focus. She was having a baby…Zack’s baby.

Deidra looked to her patient and smiled. It was always magical for a mother to see her child in utero for the first time, and she felt blessed to be able to share in that moment.

“Everything looks great, and the baby appears to be normal size for this stage of your pregnancy. I’ll print off several pictures for you. I’ve found that mother’s tend to enjoy showing off their baby,” Deidra smiled as she typed gently on the keyboard upon the machine before she removed the wand from Johanna’s belly. She offered Johanna several tissues before she moved the machine aside and took the pictures from the small printer, “Here’s the pictures of your baby,” She spoke as she removed her prescription pad from her jacket pocket and wrote out a prescription, “This is the prescription for your prenatal vitamins with an iron supplement. Make an appointment with April on your way out for about three weeks from today,” Deidra smiled as she gently touched Johanna’s arm, “You’re doing great.”

“Thank you, Dr. Byrne,” Johanna smiled at her doctor as she left the exam room. She looked at the pictures of her baby and her smile grew. She was really having a baby, and she couldn’t wait to show Zack the first pictures of their baby. She knew he would be just as touched as she was, and perhaps seeing their child would prove to Zack just how good they really were together.


Susan knocked on the door to Cameron’s office popping her head inside after she’d hurried to get a move on her way over once she’d watched the gag worthy display between Grady and his latest plaything. While she was still bound and determined to rid Jade from Grady’s life, she needed to chart out her best course of action and at the moment Jade’s little comment about Cameron had fueled a new hot fire burning beneath her. Now as her eyes scanned Cameron’s office only to find him seated behind his desk rummaging through some kind of photographs before him, Susan cleared her throat capturing his attention at long last.

"Got a minute," she questioned stepping fully into his office as Cameron quickly shuffled with the photos before him clearly unwilling to share with her whatever had been keeping his interest so intently before her arrival.

"Of course," Cameron replied attempting to be casual despite the obvious strain in his voice, "What can I do for you Susan?"

"Actually, it’s more so a case of what I can do for you rather than what you can do for me," Susan flashed him a confident grin as his demeanor shifted and he offered up a very responsive smile.

"Now isn’t that the way things seem to be turning out lately between us," Cameron nodded accordingly before waving his finger at her, "I knew hiring you was a very good career move."

"Probably one of the best ones you’ve made," she winked at him playing along before shifting with the direction of her conversation with him, "but in all seriousness, I came in here today because I have a proposition for you."

"Sounds tempting," Cameron leaned back in his chair eyeing her intently.

"Oh but it is," she nodded eagerly making her way around his office before taking a seat on the corner of his desk, finding herself at home in such a position as Cameron sat before her.

"What’s on your mind Susan," Cameron questioned unable to refrain from taking a brief look at her slender, sexy legs now revealed to him from underneath her crimson colored skirt before returning his gaze to hers once again.

"Not entirely what you’re thinking Cam," Susan threw back in a flirty tone thinking about her bosses insatiable appetite for beautiful women even beyond his newlywed status, "as I was thinking about what I could do for you in terms of giving you exactly what you’re itching to have to add to your collection."

"Sounds intriguing. What exactly do you bring to the table today Susan?" he arched a curious brow.

"Jade Alexander," she blurted out watching his suave persona shift to a state of unrest as he sat up straighter in his chair, his eyes penetrating hers in the moment as she continued, "as it’s come to my attention that she’s become an interest of yours."

"I see, and how is it exactly that you came upon this information," Cameron countered a bit hesitant in his tone.

"Let’s just say you hired me to be on top of everything and that’s exactly where I’d like to be…," Susan slid off of the edge of his desk moving directly into his lap in a bold, yet very needed move to capture his full attention, "on top of things."

"I see," Cameron remarked slowly coming to a simmer beneath her as he forced his best poker face feeling Susan shift over him in such an unexpected brazen display.

"That’s right," Susan continued seeing that Cameron was baited while she ran her fingertips gingerly over the lapels of his jacket, "as I was thinking that perhaps you and I could discuss this subject more in detail at a later time…say at my place later this evening."

"Why Susan, I’m a married man," Cameron replied feigning insult as she let out a hearty laugh.

"And I was once a married woman if you recall, but that didn’t change anything in the course of our relationship," Susan flirted back with him, "though I can promise you that dinner tonight will be more about mutual benefits beyond the hedonistic pleasures that you and I once indulged in as this time, well this time I think we can work to help one another get one step closer to what we want in our lives."

"And just what is it that you’re seeking out Susan," Cameron remarked trying to decipher her angle as his hands pressed out tentatively over her hips.

"Well, it just so happens that while I appreciate the penthouse apartment that you offered me, well, there is just something to be said about home being where the heart is. You see legally I still hold residence with Grady and this morning, well he had Jade over and…" she hinted at the beginnings of her notions with a smile, "Well she does spend a great deal of time over there you know."

"She does, does she?" Cameron lifted a curious brow, "And this would tempt me why?"

"Because you want Jade all to yourself. I’ve been doing some research and I know that your interest in her runs deep--deep enough for you to hire Grady for a job that should’ve been mine," Susan confessed openly.

"So this is what you want? Me to knock Grady off the case against BBK so you can be the one running the show?" he questioned in confusion.

"Oh no, keep Grady on the case as this isn’t about work. This is about my taking back what’s mine while you get a chance to seize what you want," Susan insisted firmly, "I want Jade out of the picture so that Grady and I can work on a new beginning with one another and since you’re so very interested in the little law clerk…"

"You expect me to believe you want to hand Jade over to me just so you can ignite an old flame with your ex?" he questioned incredulously, "I find that very hard to believe Susan considering that the rumors around town are slating you as trying to win over Kenneth Ashford."

"Well, there is some truth to those rumors as well," Susan admitted with a simple shrug of her shoulders, "and who says I can’t have my cake and eat it too? Eventually Ken and I will pick up where we left off and we’ll win the case against him and along the way I fully intend to remind Grady just how right we are together and when I do, well he won’t have room for someone as trivial as Jade."

"And just how do you propose that we work out the details of this arrangement?" Cameron shifted beneath her feeling a spark of enthusiasm race through his body like a jolt of lightening.

"It’s quite simple Cam," she teased her fingers over the center of his chest again, "You join me for a dinner at home with Grady--it can be quite professional, but I’m certain that he’ll try to have Jade over to set me off. However, after a while he’s bound to crack as he’s always hated the idea of my spending time with other men--even when he claims to be over me. I’ll push a few familiar buttons and when the time is right, I’ll have him begging for me to dote on him and when that time comes, well you just be sure that you’re there to dry Jade’s tears as she’s going to need a good shoulder to cry on when everything is said and done."

"As interesting as that sounds Jade isn’t exactly open to my friendship at this point much to my dismay as I’m starting to think she doesn’t trust me," Cameron frowned heavily thinking of his encounter with Jade.

"You’re right on that as I heard her say that very thing to Grady, but when the time comes when Grady betrays her trust, it won’t matter as a woman in such a tentative, desperate position doesn’t care who buffers her fall just as long as there is someone there to take the pain away and believe me by the time I’m through with my plan to make Grady mine, Jade won’t ever look back as her days with Grady will be all over," Susan vowed thinking to her plan to make Grady hers as sooner or later she would have him exactly where she wanted him as Cameron‘s involvement would give her just what she needed to rid Grady of his latest annoyance in Susan’s life. That much she was sure of.


Grady sat on his bed while he watched Jade pace the floor of his bedroom. He’d known the minute he saw her that she was upset, and at first she’d thought it was just a run in with Susan that had her in such a state. Instead, it had to do with someone much more sinister than even Susan.

Jade ran her fingers through her hair as she moved back and forth through the bedroom. It was bad enough that she had run into Cameron the night before but to arrive to find Susan doing her best to play make believe with Grady was just sickening.

“Jade, you’re going to wear a hole in my floor,” He spoke up, drawing her attention as she stopped in her tracks and looked at him, “You’ve been pacing since we came in here.”

“I’m sorry. I just…how the hell can things get so screwed up?” She groaned as she moved to sit beside him.

“What happened with Cameron?” He asked as he watched her closely.

“I went into Irvan’s to have dinner, and while I was sitting there, Cameron came in.”

“That’s not exactly the kind of place you’d expect him to turn up,” He spoke in confusion.

“No kidding,” She frowned as she thought of the situation, “For all I know, he could have followed me there. Any way, he walked in and said that he was married now. He said that he wanted to be my friend,” She rolled her eyes, “As if.”

“What else did he say?”

“It wasn’t so much what he said as what he did, Grady. He tried to pay for my meal, and then he followed me to my car. He wouldn’t back off, and to be honest, it scared me. My saying no just isn’t enough for him.”

“I don’t understand why he won’t back off of you…especially if he’s really married.”

“He was wearing a ring,” Jade pointed out, “Not that something like that matters to a man like Cameron. He could care less if he had one wife or a dozen. And with the way he thinks he’s entitled to anything he sets his eyes on,” She shuddered in disgust, “He scares me, Grady.”

“I’m sorry we ever got involved with him, Jade,” Grady wrapped his arms around her, “In fact, I’ll give up this case that we’re working on. The last thing we need is anything involving this man. Besides,” He raised her chin so that he could gaze into her eyes, “I won’t let anything threaten you or frighten you. I’ll do anything I can to protect you.”

“I won’t let you jeopardize your career for me, Grady. This case could mean everything to the firm, and you have to go through with it.”

“Jade, I can’t do that when this guy is after you the way he is. I won’t have you upset every time he comes to the office, and I won’t have him thinking he can drop by just to get his rocks off by tormenting you. This is something we can control, Jade, and I’m going to exert that control.”


“No buts,” Grady put his finger over Jade’s lips, “Nothing means more to me than your happiness and your safety.”

Jade put her arms around him and hugged him tightly. She smiled through her tears. She hated being afraid of any man, and she hated putting Grady in a position to lose a client. Still, it made her believe in her love for him even more that he would give up such a prestigious account in order to put her at ease. Grady had proved to her that he did in fact have hope left for him after all.


Heather fumbled through the mounds of paperwork before her realizing that there was certainly more in starting your own company than she’d anticipated, but she was still ready to get on top of things and get her agency jumpstarted--that is if she could focus on not being so wound up after her disaster of an evening the previous day. Even now she was seething with animosity at the cocky know-it-all psychiatrist that had managed to make her miserable with his intrusions upon her life. Okay, so maybe she had been pushy when she’d rushed into his office eager to share her good news about her marriage with Cameron, but how dare he sit there and judge her--or furthermore, what right did he have to lock her up like that? Like a common invalid nonetheless!

It didn’t seem right at all to her as all things were leading her towards a hefty lawsuit against Diego for his interference, yet when she’d spoken with Cameron briefly this morning before he took off to the office, she hadn’t said a damn thing about what Diego had done to her. And so with that Heather found herself right back to where she’d started with her agitation. She’d had the perfect opportunity to stick it to Diego--to get the wheels rolling on his dismissal from the hospital with just a few words shared with Cameron, but she’d hesitated and now, well now Diego was going to go about his day unaffected while she sat over her paperwork not getting a damn thing done because of her not speaking up. That in itself had her ready to climb the walls and ready to crawl out of her own skin with a complete state of unrest.

"Damn him," Heather cursed throwing her arm across the large, oak desk that Cameron had offered her in one of his private studies for her to begin her work on putting the company together. Now as she watched the papers fly across the room flailing to life after her impulsive move as they danced around in the air, she felt her frustrations mount.

Groaning as the things she should’ve been working on hit the floor, Heather tucked a long strand of her silky blonde hair behind her ear before rising from the plush leather chair she’d been seated in moments earlier. Circling around her desk, she eyed the scattered pages before her, frowning intensely as she cursed Diego Hernandez for driving her straight to distraction before she reluctantly lowered herself to the floor to pick up the mess she’d made.

"That man…" Heather grumbled to herself scooping up the pages after pages before her as she contemplated calling Cameron up right this instant and giving him the information on Diego, but like before she knew she’d keep quiet…perhaps out of pity for the man or out of her relentless need to take care of problems herself when push came to shove. Either way she was finding herself far more worked up than she’d intended to be when she heard the sounds of footsteps on the floor just outside her office door.

"Franklin, could you come in here for a moment," Heather beckoned Cameron’s loyal servant opting to have some help in picking up the things she’d knocked off her desk since clearly she’d done quite a job in the moment of rage. "I could use a little help."

"I can see that," a thick, masculine voice replied as Heather felt herself stiffen at the realization that the man crouched down beside her was no where near being Franklin as this man who offered up a simple smile while reaching for the page before him had dreamy brown eyes, lusciously tanned skin and a smile that could clearly rock any girl to the core causing all their insides to melt and pool somewhere near the pit of their stomach.

"It looks like the wind just had a mind of it’s own today," he offered up with that same sexy grin as Heather felt her throat go dry as his grin expanded and he motioned to the papers that surrounded her.
"Th--that’s one way of putting it," Heather began straining to regain her composure as she watched him stretch out across the floor uncurling a perfectly sculpted bicep as another breath thickened inside the back of her throat.

"Allow me," he flashed her another confident grin as Heather nodded silently allowing this newfound eye candy to take over on the clean up of her office while she rose to her feet appreciating the bird’s eye view of this fine specimen of man that had arrived in her office.

"So," she cleared her throat feeling the room grow warmer by the second as her eyes planted firmly to his tight, muscled bottom while he crawled around on the floor scooping the remains of her tantrum. She involuntarily licked her lips as her fingers casually skimmed over the low neckline of her blouse while her mind conjured up images of what her handsome intruder would look like completely naked.

"Is that everything," he glanced up at her watching her nod eagerly as he rose to his feet once again using one thick, large, oh so sensual hand to dust off his pants before he handed over the stack of pages he’d collected, "Here you are."

"Thank you," Heather replied, in a low, sultry tone unable to contain that most primal reaction he’d provoked inside of her with his entrance as she collected another slow breath. "And you are?"

"Seth," he offered his hand to hers as Heather felt a wash of heat rush down upon her with the sound of his name rolling from his lips, "Seth Alexander."

"Well Seth Alexander," Heather repeated his name wondering what it would be like to scream such a name in the throes of passion as she was quiet certain that Seth would give her a good run for her money if the opportunity arose for them, "what ever can I do for you this afternoon?"

"I actually coming over here to speak with you as we have an appointment," Seth explained politely keeping that same smile over his handsome features, accentuating that perfect jaw line of his as Heather lifted a curious brow.

"We do?" Heather repeated completely wondering how she could forget about having planned any kind of encounter with such a fine looking man.

"That’s right," Seth nodded in response, "as we were supposed to be meeting at two. I know I’m a little bit early, but…"

"It’s no problem," Heather replied motioning to the chair across from the one she’d been seated in before Seth’s arrival, "Have a seat."

"Thank you," he smiled making his way over to the chair and taking a seat as Heather circled around the desk trying to still the racing of her heart and keep her cool and collected composure before she addressed this fine specimen of man before her.

"Not a problem," she nodded accordingly sliding into the leather chair behind her desk as her eyes traveled appreciatively over the lines of Seth’s contours, "so what can I do for you Mr. Alexander?"

"You can call me Seth," he offered up in response as Heather suppressed the urge to growl upon reaction to him.

"And you can call me yours," Heather muttered under her breath as she watched his eyes divide in confusion, "What I mean is you can call me your boss…Heather that is."

"My boss," Seth repeated with obvious surprise upon her words, "You mean I’m hired? Just like that?"

"Apparently it would seem that today’s your lucky day," Heather nodded enthusiastically, "as I’m assuming you came to speak with me about my company…"

"Well yes I did, but I wasn’t aware that this interview would go so smoothly as I’d imagine that you’d want to see my portfolio and…" Seth began unable to mask his astonishment in her haste to hire him.

"Gee, I don’t think we need to take that step with one another as I can see that you’re clearly qualified, yet if you really think it’s necessary for me to take a closer look, we could start with you perhaps taking that shirt off and getting comfortable," Heather suggested mildly reaching for a pen on her desk as her finger slid up and over the smooth texture, thinking of all the ways she’d embellish this moment with her new prospective talent, "that is unless you have a problem with getting naked in front of your boss this early on…"

"Come again?" Seth blinked back at her in surprise.

"Well it is part of the job," Heather shrugged her shoulder simply leaning back in her chair ready to let the games begin as she was going to enjoy this hot hunk before her, "I mean not all your work will be in the buff, but there might be some advertisements that require you to take your clothes off…not necessarily all of them, but some of them and I just think we should see how comfortable you are in doing so before I get you in front of a camera and you freeze up on me…"

"I don’t think you’re understanding," Seth started color rising up over his features as Heather’s face lit up with an amused grin.

"Oh I understand and believe me the first time is always the hardest," she continued all but leaping up from her chair as she found herself eager to see Seth’s body first hand.

"No I mean you’re really not getting it as…" Seth began clearly flustered by her request as Heather rose from her chair, circling around her desk to sit on the edge before him, dangling her long legs in his face as she licked her lips. She tossed her head back a bit, dragging her tongue over the crease of her mouth as she fingered the neckline of her blouse once again.

"Trust me, this will be easier than you think it is," Heather continued shifting on top of her desk once again allowing her skirt to hike up with the movement as she was quite certain Seth would notice her body the way she’d noticed his. With that thought in mind, she leapt off of her desk standing before him, "In fact…I’ll be more than glad to help."

"I appreciate the offer, but…" Seth began to politely decline as her fingers were already working their way over the buttons on the center of his shirt like a hunter closing in upon her prey.

"I insist," Heather continued managing to pop a few buttons before Seth rose to his feet, standing decidedly determined before her bringing his hands up over hers to stop her from shedding him of his shirt completely.

"Look I don’t know what you think I’m here for, but it’s not to be a model," Seth explained simply as Heather seemed to stiffen in response to him.

"You’re not?" Heather gave him a strange look tilting her head to look at him in confusion before he released his hold on her taking a step back with the motion, "Then why are you here?"

"Because I heard you were looking for a photographer on staff," Seth stated matter of fact motioning to the pages he’d just picked up for her, "My résumé is on the stack of papers over there that I just handed you."

"Oh," Heather’s sound came out in a hushed whisper as she spun around to reach for the page. Sure enough there it was in black and white--Seth’s résumé for her to peruse intently after the awkward moment that had just passed between them. Now as she felt the color rising to her face, she strained to find a way to make up for her previous assumptions. Slowly turning around to face him once again, she offered up a simple, yet conservative expression, "I guess I just thought with a body like that you’d be coming about a modeling job…"

"Nope, I have no desire to get in front of the camera, although I’m flattered that you think I could do it," Seth answered lightly finishing up with the buttons on his shirt once he’d done them up as he tried to keep a casual air about him.

"You really should reconsider that position you know as you certainly have the look for it," Heather threw out once again as Seth shook his head.

"It’s not my scene, but if you’re really looking for someone with talent and experience, then I’m your guy. Granted I haven’t done a lot of things for any big name publications, but I’m in the middle of working on it. As you’ll see in my portfolio here," he pulled out the black case he’d brought with him, "I have an eye for things that most photographers overlook. Details are very important to me and…"

The rest of his words were lost as Heather pondered how it was that a man with such a beautiful body like that could be on the other end of the camera’s loving lens as he seemed to have so much potential to be a sex symbol. Still as she found herself filtering out most of his words, she wondered if perhaps she could tempt him to change his mind about not being a subject of the camera’s loving eye himself. Sure as he thumbed through his portfolio, she had to admit that he had talent--far more talent than the other potential photographers that Cameron had sent her way in passing. She’d found all their work to lack the taste and prestige that her company was seeking out, but with Seth’s work, well there might be hope yet for her little company to get it’s way off the ground and thriving.

"You’re still hired," Heather blurted out turning her eyes up towards him, "as a photographer this time."

"Thank you Mrs. Stone…" he began to reply.

"Remember I said call me Heather," she offered her hand to him, "as I like to keep things casual."

"Alright then Heather. Thank you for giving me this opportunity," Seth nodded in accordance, "I promise that I won’t let you down."

"I sure as hell hope not as I have high hopes for you given your….talents," Heather remarked realizing that in having a man like Seth Alexander on her team that suddenly working in the office as opposed to out in the field had a whole new level of entertainment added to it. Sure, she might be a married woman, but having a little fun wouldn’t be out of the question and maybe just maybe if she played her cards right, Seth might prove to be some of the savory snacking on the side that Heather was so accustomed to doing in her life before wedded bliss. Granted he was no where near as powerful as Cameron was, nor did he possess that enigmatic fire that she’d sensed in Diego Hernandez, yet he had this irresistible, sexual vibe about him that suddenly got her libido racing in all the right places at this moment in time and that had her more than eager to get up close and personal with him.

"So then when shall I start," Seth questioned breaking through her thoughts as she suddenly realized that he’d offered up a series of questions with her.

"Oh well we can work over the details with one another perhaps tomorrow over dinner," Heather boldly suggested hating to let him walk out of her office without arranging for yet another encounter between them.

"Um, actually dinner might not work out for me," Seth began simply thinking beyond this arrangement he’d made with Thea, "but maybe we could schedule something in later in the week."

"Later in the week it is," Heather decided offering up a moment of generosity as she watched him collect his photographs and put them back into his portfolio folder, "I’ll call you with the details."

"In that case I’ll look forward to it," Seth replied offering up one last look before Heather escorted him out of her office thinking about the potential he brought to the table with him as she found herself all the more willing to get a jump start on her company so that she could completely immerse herself in the working environment starting with having a personal one on one with Seth and his camera to see what could develop between them.


Caitlin saw the pain in both her brother’s eyes and those of her best friend. It was obvious that they loved one another, but it was also obvious that there were too many issues between them for a relationship to work for them. She’d always known that Zack and Blake would work off of one another well only to end up hurting one another in the end. Two people who were so passionate about something could only end up pushing their passions to the limit and in the long run finding them exploding in their faces.

Blake stood slowly from the bed and looked towards Zack. It hurt so much to see him because she loved him so much. She wanted to be with him, to hold him, to remember everything she’d ever dreamt of with him. Instead, she was faced with the harsh reality that she could never have what she wanted with him.

Zack’s arms ached with wanting to hold the woman he loved. She’d never looked more beautiful, and all he could think of was holding this moment in his memory forever.

“You two should talk,” Caitlin suggested, “I think you both have a lot to say to one another,” She spoke as she looked between them.

“I…don’t…” Blake began nervously.

“It’s not a bad idea,” Zack encouraged with a slight smile, “Come on, Blake. Let’s talk outside.”

Blake blinked in surprise before she nodded, “Okay.”

Caitlin watched Blake step outside with Zack and hoped that maybe they could find it in themselves to be peaceable with one another.

Blake moved to the waiting area and sat on the arm of a sofa. She looked up to Zack and wondered if she’d somehow betrayed him with Seth. And then it occurred to her that she hadn’t betrayed anyone with her actions. She was living her own life and doing what it took to make her happy.
Zack slipped his hands into his pockets and looked at her with seriousness in his eyes. Now that he had her alone, he wasn’t quite sure what to say to her. He didn’t want to waste these moments he’d been given, but he simply didn’t know what to say in order to make the moment special.

“So what did you want to talk about?” Blake asked as she took a deep breath, desperately trying to calm her heart.

“Us,” He admitted freely as he searched her eyes.

“There is no us, Zack,” She reminded him, “I think we’ve both proven that pretty thoroughly.”

“Aren’t we still friends?” He asked desperately, “Blake, I know that I screwed up our chance together, and you’ll never know how sorry I am for that. I wanted to make things work between us.”

“Then why did you shut me out?” She asked with the pain still evident in her voice.

“I don’t know. As stupid and as easy an excuse as that is, it’s the truth. I really don’t know why I did something so stupid, Blake. I love you so much…”

“Don’t say that,” Blake warned as she felt her heart flutter at his words, “You can’t say that.”

“But Blake…it’s the truth,” He began as he reached out to her.

“Stop it,” She backed away from him, “You’re going to be a father, Zack. You can’t love me.”

“It doesn’t change the fact that I love you, Blake.”

“Yes, it does,” She declared firmly, “You have to focus on the baby and the mother of your child. You have to do everything possible to make a family for your child.”

“We’re never going to be a family,” Zack said with finality, “Just because the biology worked doesn’t mean we’re a family.”

“You have to make it happen, Zack. Your baby deserves the best in the world,” She felt tears in her eyes, “I’m just…I just wish…”

“Don’t Blake,” He stepped forward and touched her arms, “Don’t wish for things to be different. It’ll only hurt you.”

“It just seems that this hurts again and again and again,” She reasoned as she pulled away from his touch, “I just wish it would stop hurting.”

“I wish I could stop it for you,” He began.

“Zack, there you are. I’ve been looking for you,” Johanna burst forth with happiness as she rushed towards him, “Look at this…it’s a picture of the baby,” She slipped the picture in front of him, “Look,” She smiled as she leaned against him.

Zack looked to the picture and paused as he saw his child for the first time.

Blake felt a thousand daggers pierce her heart as she turned and ran down the hall in tears. It seemed the pain was far from over for her as there would be always be his fatherhood that would break her heart every time she was reminded of it. In the end, she knew she had to give up on Zack and focus on the man who did love her with all his heart and who had never betrayed her. She just had to focus on Seth as she was beginning to believe that he was the only person who truly wanted the best of everything for her, and she knew she could trust him with all her heart which was the most comforting feeling in all the world.


Deidra entered her office with a strong sense of purpose after her morning of work had left her feeling far too busy to worry about all the trivial things that had been getting her down. Sure, she’d sulked for a bit at her mother’s place, but now that she was finally out there making a name for herself again and after her time away from Coral Valley, she was really starting to feel things come full circle for her. Life was picking up and it seemed that she’d finally turned the page in her past that was sucking her down the seemingly bottomless pit. No more feeling sorry for herself. No more feeling like a victim as right now all that mattered was that she was starting from the beginning making a life of her own after the way in which Andy had found it to destroy her happiness, but no more. Starting from this day she wasn’t looking back--wasn’t reflecting on all she lost as in being a doctor and practicing medicine, she had everything she needed.

At least for now, she reasoned as she circled around to her desk ready to check her messages as she noticed that her mother had called a few dozen times to wish her good luck. Then there was Dave who’d also left another message alerting her that he was eager for their evening out and she couldn’t help but laugh at the silly little drawing he’d added to the bottom of the card he’d left. All in all though she had to admit that all the extra touches that her family and Dave had put into easing her into the transitions had helped her make it through the day smoothly thus far.

"Um, Dr. Byrne," April popped her head in to greet Deidra cheerfully, "Have a minute?"

"Sure, what can I do for you April," Deidra replied turning around to face her once again.

"Actually I think it’s more so what I can do for you here as these just came for you," April explained fully entering the office with an oversized tropical floral bouquet in hand.

"Oh my," Deidra gasped feeling her cheeks color as April shifted the bouquet in her arms, carefully making her way to stand before Deidra’s desk.

"Where would you like them," April inquired as Deidra extended her arms out to her secretary.

"I’ll take care of them," Deidra decided taking them off of April’s hands as she made a mental note to have a very long talk with Dave after all of his over the top gestures. Sure, she was touched, but as she noticed the garden that seemed to have sprung up in her office, she couldn’t help but think he was really trying almost too hard.

"You must have some admirer," April noted with a knowing expression, "It wouldn’t happen to be that cute guy that was here earlier, was it?"

"No, it’s not…what I mean is he’s not…well, we aren’t…" Deidra felt herself in a full blown blush, "well it’s just we’re friends. It’s not like that…he’s just a long time pal."

"Sure, sure," April remarked with a snicker clearly disbelieving Deidra’s words as she exited the office leaving Deidra to admire her latest gift from Dave.

"Dave, sometimes you’re just too much," Deidra murmured under her breath making her way towards the desk as she noticed a card atop of the bouquet. Snatching it up between her fingers, she noticed her name printed on the envelope in some type of gold calligraphy lettering it seemed before her curiosity heightened and she wondered just what Dave had up his sleeve this time. However, when she opened up the envelope, she withdrew a cryptic card that had been typed out with a short message.

"Until we meet again…" she read aloud puzzled by the meaning Dave could have behind it as usually he’d thrown out some witty remark or joke to get her going, but as she held the envelope, she realized there was more than just a card inside.

"What’s this," she question to herself pulling the contents of the envelope out for inspection when suddenly her eyes fell upon the pictures of her on the island that Christian had been taking when they’d shared drinks with one another. Suddenly a gasp fell from her lips as she looked around her office feeling as though she’d been violated in that moment in time. She choked on her breath, grasping the image as she saw something written on the back of one of the images.

"You still owe me a date and I’ll come to collect soon. Love, C.."

"Oh my God," Deidra cried out dropping the photos on the floor as fear consumed her and suddenly her carefree morning transformed into something of a nightmare now that she realized the madman she’d bedded on the island was coming back to finish the job he’d started with her in a moment of weakness.

...to be continued...