Grady stumbled ahead of the officer who escorted him into the Coral
Valley police department. He’d never planned for things to get so out
of hand. Hell, he hadn’t really planned for the confrontation with
Cameron to last longer than his ‘I quit’, but that hadn’t worked out
the way he’d intended. It seemed that was the way things were going for
him more and more lately…in a way other than the one he’d intended.
The officer opened a cell and pushed Grady inside before he closed the
door, “Back up to the door, and I’ll remove the handcuffs.”
Grady sighed as he backed against the bars and felt the officer remove
the handcuffs. He turned towards the cop while he rubbed his wrists,
“When can I have my phone call?”
“I’ll have to take your fingerprints and process your booking sheet
first. Then I’ll let you have your phone call,” The officer replied,
“I’ll be right back.”
Grady nodded as he leaned his forehead against the bars. If Jade had
been upset by Cameron’s behavior, she’d be ballistic over this. He had
never expected things to go so far, but when Cameron threatened to use
photographs of Jade’s rape to keep him in line…rage wasn’t even close
to what he’d felt. He couldn’t even think of a word that could
adequately describe just how much hatred, rage, shame, and pain he’d
felt at the mere mention of photographs of the most painful night in
The officer came back and unlocked the door to the small holding cell.
He led Grady to a small niche and took mug shots from every angle. He
then led Grady to a chair where he asked Grady about all his personal
information. After the forms were all filled out, the officer led Grady
to another niche and took fingerprints.
Grady wiped the remainders of the black ink from his fingers as the
officer led him to a desk and pointed to a phone.
“One phone call. You’ve got ten minutes,” The officer informed him
before stepping aside.
Grady looked at the phone and considered who he was going to call. In
reality there was only one person he could call. There was only one
person who he wanted to talk to…no, he needed to talk to.
Grady dialed the number and only hoped that she hadn’t given up on him
and gone shopping.
“Hello?” Jade answered quickly.
“Jade…good, I’m glad you’re at home. Look, I need you to call a bail
bondsman for me.”
“What?” She gasped, “Grady, where are you?”
“In jail,” He blurted out with a sigh, “I went to see Cameron, and
things got out of hand.”
“Grady…” She began, “Look, don’t incriminate yourself or anything, but
“He threatened you, Jade, and I couldn’t take it. So I let him know
what I thought about that real quick,” He frowned, “I didn’t mean for
things to happen this way. I only went there to tell him that I don’t
want his damn lawsuit, but that wasn’t where it ended.”
She paused for a moment as she thought about what could have possibly
happened between the two men. She took a deep breath before she spoke
again, “I’ll take care of everything. You just hold on and hang in
“Okay, but Jade…”
“Yes?” She listened.
“I’m sorry about this. I just couldn’t let him threaten your happiness.
I love you, and I would do anything to protect you,” He assured her.
“I know, Grady. I love you too. Just be careful,” Jade warned before
she hung up the phone. She considered who she should call to help
Grady, but only one name actually sprang to mind. Granted, it probably
wouldn’t be Grady’s first choice given their current situation, but in
the long run, Grady would thank her in the end.
She lifted the phone and dialed the number from memory.
“Hello,” Russ answered.
“Russ, hey, it’s Jade. I know that you’re probably busy, but…”
“Actually, I’m taking Avery out of town for a few days,” He replied.
“Russ, I need to ask you a big favor, but it’s going to put a crimp in
“I don’t like the sound of this already,” He sighed in disappointment.
“You’re going to like it even less by the time I get through telling
you this story,” Jade began, “I need you to meet me at the Coral Valley
Police Department. Grady’s in jail.”
“What? Why?” Russ questioned quickly.
“He’s trying to protect me from Cameron Stone, and apparently things
got out of hand. Russ, can you help me?” She questioned, “Please.”
Russ paused, “I’ll be there, Jade.”
“Thank you, Russ. This means a lot to me, and I know it’ll mean a lot
to Grady too,” Jade spoke before she hung up the phone. She just hoped
that things weren’t as bad as she felt they could possibly be. She had
a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach that warned her things would
get a lot worse before they got better.
Susan frowned as she shifted her way through the hallways of Stone Corp
wondering what the hell was going on as it seemed that the local police
department had taken up residence in the offices. Granted there
weren’t that many of them, but there were enough to raise her sense of
suspicions as she made her way directly to Cameron’s office wondering
what kind of legal bind she’d have to work them out of this time as it
seemed that their lack of public uproar in Coral Valley was about to
Entering his office, she found him seated in his chair groaning as he
held an ice pack up over his eye while dark shades of dried blood
pooled at the corner of his mouth. She carefully closed the door
behind her, her curiosity and concerns evident as she made her way
across his office catching his less than enthusiastic stare.
“What the hell happened in here,” Susan frowned taking in the state of
disarray his office was in.
“Your ex-husband decided he wanted to up and quit working on my case,”
Cameron remarked smugly as he lowered the icepack enough for Susan to
catch her first glimpse of the now purple bruising that tarnished his
otherwise flawless complexion. If before that moment in time
Susan had any doubts about Grady and his convictions then they were all
put to rest as she watched Cameron wince in response to the feel of the
air upon his wound.
“And obviously that didn’t go too well,” Susan frowned making her way
clear over to Cameron’s desk immediately tending to his wound as she
was far more curious about what had transpired between the two men in
“Not for Grady it didn’t,” Cameron remarked with a twisted smirk, “as
I’d imagine he’s having a lot of time to rethink this latest impulsive
act he had going on this afternoon while he‘s caged up behind bars.”
“Behind bars,” Susan repeated with wide eyes unable to mask her
surprise, “You mean you’ve had him thrown in jail?”
“That’s right,” he nodded in response amused by her instant reaction to
his words, “and yet this surprises you for some reason?”
“Well there’s the whole issue of the officers I saw lurking in the
hallways as I imagined something worse had happened with some of our
other less public dealings, but with Grady, well, don’t you think that
time in jail is a bit extreme for his refusing to represent you?” Susan
questioned unable to refrain from her own lingering concerns for Grady.
“This isn’t about his inability to produce the way I requested him to
do as he’ll work for me whether he likes it or not, but more so this
was about his connection to Jade--in which case you should be thanking
me for doing you such a favor in pressing charges,” he gloated wincing
once again as Susan reached for the compress placing it to his face
once again, “You get to be the voice of reason and see to it that not
only does Grady get over his little temper tantrum, but that he comes
to his senses and lets go of Jade. I’m sure with your
persuasions, you can make him see the light and show him that such
actions as those he put forth here in my office earlier today are
completely bound to lead him down a path to destruction that he’d
really rather not fall into again considering his less than savory
“Grady’s a hothead, so I’m not really sure if he’s going to be throwing
out any apologies anytime soon,” Susan stated plainly.
“I’m not seeking out an apology as I would just like Grady to see where
I stand on loyalty and I think he’s starting to see the big picture
here,” he paused searching Susan’s features, “and besides the way I see
it, you should be grateful for my giving him the time to reconsider the
path he’s gone down here with me. He’s far too wrapped up in Jade
and that simply is unacceptable.”
“Jade isn’t going to be a thing for him to worry about soon enough,”
Susan promised thinking to her plans for Grady.
“Especially not when you deliver him the news about the out I’m willing
to offer him if he decides to grow up and forget any of the notions he
had about dropping my case. The way I see it, I’m going to send
you in to present an offer that Grady can’t and won’t refuse and then,
well then I think we’ll have everything exactly where it should be with
“And what about Jade?” Susan inquired seeing something brewing behind
his eyes as she reached out to press the compress over his wound once
again feeling him tense up beneath her touch.
“She’ll be taken care of and I’m sure you and I can work out the
arrangements of that one later, but for now, well…I think that we
should start discussing the terms of this offer I’m willing to throw
out on the table for Grady,” Cameron stated plainly the wheels in his
head turning faster by the moment.
“You could just drop the charges,” Susan suggested with a simple shrug
of her shoulders imagining the relief that Grady would feel when she
shared the news with him.
“I could do that, but then there wouldn’t be a lesson learned.
Grady has quite a few lessons to learn unfortunately before he’s going
to just be accepted back into my good graces, but after he has a little
time to think over my offer, he may be just be willing to cooperate,”
Cameron decided unable to suppress the smile building over his twisted
features as he relished in the knowledge that Grady Denton’s nightmares
were only beginning and not even Susan would be able to get him out of
the situation he would find himself in should he refuse the offer
Cameron had for him.
Caitlin reached over to take Ken’s hand, hoping that maybe he wouldn’t
act on the anger she could see in his features. While she knew Ken
wasn’t the violent type, she still had the fear that he wanted to do
great harm to her brother.
“Ken,” Caitlin spoke softly, “I’d like you to meet Johanna Larsen.”
“Oh, you’re Brant’s brother,” Johanna smiled as she reached out to
shake Ken’s hand, “It’s nice to meet you.”
“You know Brant?” Ken questioned, wondering just what sort of woman
Zack had become involved with.
“I’m a editor for the Standard Reporter. I’ve run into Brant from time
to time at various social events, and he’s always good for a story,”
Johanna replied before she backed into Zack and smiled.
“Hmmm, he’s not the only one these days,” Ken noted as he kept his eyes
glued to Zack.
Zack frowned. He’d figured that the Ashford twins wouldn’t be happy
with him when they found out about Jo, but he hadn’t imagined it would
be Caitlin’s boyfriend who would be the first to deliver a blow. Blake
had always described Ken as the solid member of the Ashford family, and
yet somehow all Zack could see was a brother hell bent on revenge.
“So,” Caitlin began awkwardly, “Does that mean you’re going to stay in
“Yes, it does,” Johanna smiled as she looked to Zack, “Zack and I have
been over and over this the past few days, and we both just want what’s
best for our baby,” She paused as she plucked the picture of the baby
from Zack’s shirt pocket, “Caitlin, look at your nephew.”
“Nephew?” Caitlin asked as Johanna moved beside her on her free side,
“They can already tell the sex?”
“No, but I’m pretty sure of it. It’s just a motherly thing,” Johanna
smiled as she produced the picture for Caitlin’s viewing, “Isn’t he
Caitlin couldn’t help but smile at the small picture of the baby.
Ken, on the other hand, couldn’t for the life of him force a smile. He
stood and looked at Zack, “Zack, could I have a word?” He more
commanded than asked as he directed the other man out of the hospital
Caitlin watched as Zack nodded and stepped out of the room. She only
hoped that the two most important men in her life would behave
Zack followed Ken to a waiting room where no one could hear their
conversation. Already, this wasn’t looking good for him.
Once inside the waiting room, Ken turned to Zack and slipped his hands
into his pockets, “I guess you know why I wanted to speak with you.”
Zack nodded, “Blake.”
“That’s right. Blake. You do remember my sister, don’t you? The woman
whose heart you broke?” Ken questioned, “You had the audacity to accuse
me of hurting your sister, and yet you’re the one who has hurt my
sister. Casting the first stone there, huh?”
“Look, I had no idea that Jo was pregnant when I came to Coral Valley
and started seeing Blake. I know it’s not much of an excuse, but…”
“You’re damn right that it’s not an excuse. Do you shirk all your
responsibilities so easily?” Ken frowned as he sighed heavily, “Blake
is an innocent when it comes to matters of the heart. She wants to
believe that people will treat her with the same dignity and respect
she shows them. Unfortunately for her, that doesn’t happen very often,
and I guess you just proved that to be the case once again.”
“I never wanted to hurt Blake. If I could change what’s happened…”
“But you can’t, Zack. It’s way too late for that. All you can do is
prevent Blake any more heartache. Stay away from her.”
“Blake’s still my friend,” Zack declared, “I won’t let you decide if I
can see her or not.”
“You already decided that when you got your ex-girlfriend knocked up,”
Ken reminded him, “Blake doesn’t need to be reminded of what she lost
with you by your parading that woman in front of her. Stay away from
her, Zack. Let her heal. Most of all, let her move on.”
“I want Blake to move on. In fact, she already has in case you haven’t
“I have, but I don’t want you to interfere in that. Don’t jeopardize
what little happiness Blake’s found for herself.”
Zack started to speak then thought better of it.
Ken met Zack’s eyes and spoke solemnly, “Just stay away from her, Zack.
If you ever cared about her, just stay away from her,” He spoke in
warning before he walked back towards Caitlin’s room.
Zack groaned openly as he thought of the situation he’d found himself
it. Ken was right. He couldn’t jeopardize Blake’s chance for happiness,
and he had to focus on his own life…the one he was forcing himself to
make with Johanna and their baby.
“Make your move if you think you have one still left inside of you,”
Jenna dared eyeing Hart with the same predatory stare that had carried
over her for the last half hour she’d spent with him as they sat at her
kitchen table immersed in a very heated game of cards.
“You think you’ve won this one, don’t you,” he arched a speculative
brow, carefully selecting the course of action he was about to take
with her as her smirk and newfound sense of confidence had amused him
to no end as he perused the cards in hand.
“Oh I know I have,” Jenna replied with a confident nod licking her lips
as she eyed the single card she held in her hand ready to triumph once
again at this game she’d so carefully mastered over the years.
Now as Hart sat before her holding his half a dozen cards before her,
she couldn’t help but revel in the knowledge that she was about to be
deemed the Go Fish champion yet again after they’d opted to try
something that should’ve been a bit less intense than a round of
poker. Okay, so maybe that was the intention, Jenna reasoned
realizing that hadn’t been the case as it had been fairly obvious early
on that Hart was just as competitive as Jenna was about winning
especially when it came to card games--even if those games were
childish in their origins. Now as they sat upon their eighth
round of Go Fish with one another, Jenna prepared her words of torment
for her impending victory as Hart eyed his cards with heavy scrutiny.
“Well, are you going to make a move today or should we just call it a
night?” Jenna couldn’t help but tease as Hart raised his finger in the
air alerting her to come to silence again as he perused his cards once
“Give me a minute here,” Hart urged her on shuffling his cards around
as his face was a complete mask of seriousness and concentration.
“You know we could just quit now and you could bypass that whole
feeling of loss that you’ve had with you most of the afternoon since
I’ve beaten the pants off of you,” Jenna jabbed at him watching as he
dropped a pair of cards on the table, followed by another and yet
another until finally he had nothing left in his hands.
“Gee, had I known that getting me out of my pants was one of the perks
involved in this game,” he winked at her flashing her a sexy grin as he
motioned to what he‘d laid down on the table before her thus ending
their latest game, “then I would’ve stopped letting you win hours ago.”
“You didn’t let me win anything,” she raised her voice in protest
before taking a moment to search his expression, “right?”
“What do you think,” he challenged in a flash of laughter as Jenna
reached for the cards that he’d laid down on the table top and she
plucked them up into her hand only to toss them right back at him as
she rose from her chair.
“You suck. You know that, don’t you?” she huffed shaking her head
at him as she crossed the kitchen ready to pour herself another mug of
coffee as she thought of her eagerness to show off her talents when it
came to cards.
“Honey, I just couldn’t make you feel like you were slipping there
after you‘d told me all about your being the queen of the game in your
younger years,” he shrugged his shoulders sliding the chair he was
seated in away from the table before rising to his feet to follow her
around the kitchen, “as I really didn’t feel the need to share that I
happened to have been a champion myself.”
“You still suck,” Jenna stuck her tongue out at him before turning away
from him and filling her cup of coffee pretending that it was by far
the most interesting thing at the moment while he stood behind her.
“Oh baby, you know you love me,” Hart slid his arm around her waist
stepping in closer to her as he felt her pulse racing at the nearness
between them despite her protests.
“Loving you has nothing to do with how unhappy I am with you at this
very moment for deceiving me,” she concluded turning in his arms to
shoot a glare at him before stepping out of his embrace.
“Oh come on Jen, I was trying to do the polite thing here,” he watched
her leave the kitchen as a frown touched over his features.
Sighing heavily as he realized that he would never quite be able to
read her as well as he would’ve liked to, he turned his attention to
his own coffee mug debating whether or not he’d refill it, but instead
he followed after Jenna thinking up some way to remedy the current
“Don’t Jenna me,” her voice rose from the shadows that filled her
narrow hallway as he followed the sound of her voice as it lead him
down to her bedroom only to discover her seated upon the center of her
bed, holding her television remote with obvious attitude. He
stood still for a moment just watching her flip through the various
stations indignantly before he marched into her room thrusting himself
down upon the bed beside her as he reached for her remote control.
“That’s mine,” she huffed trying to keep her hold on the remote as he
wrenched it out of her hand, “hey.”
“I’d like to speak with you and about how we can work on changing your
being such a sore loser,” Hart argued with her bringing his other hand
around the top of the remote control.
“I’m a sore loser,” she repeated clasping the top of the remote with
her hand in an attempt to keep him from taking it from her, “Oh I think
not Mr. Con Artist.”
“Con artist?” he blinked back at her, “For trying to be a gentleman and
let you win the game we were playing?”
“That’s right because if you’re going to downplay your abilities there
when we’re doing something as simple as playing cards, then who is to
say that you aren’t doing the same when we’re engaged in other
activities with one another,” she blurted out shaking her head at him
again as she felt him ease up his hold on the remote control.
With a grumble she sank back into her pillows focusing her eyes on the
television before her.
“Now wait just a damned minute,” Hart snatched the remote from her hand
turning the television off in a quick movement, “Don’t even try to run
that one by me because of a stupid card game. You and I both know
that I’m not deceiving your nor am I withholding any of my abilities
where you’re concerned as I think I’ve been pretty much at the top of
my game about things…”
“Or so you say, but how can I know that considering that you let me win
back there? I mean clearly you were still holding back on things
as you have a bag of tricks that I’m not even aware of,” her dark eyes
fell upon him, “so who is to say that one day we’ll just stumble upon
yet another one of those and I’ll know if it’s the real deal or not…”
“Jenna, what are we talking about here? Are you upset about a
card game, about us or about your father?” he frowned in response
wondering why she was getting so worked up about his having let her win
the card games until the last round.
“Well, a simple deception is how it starts you know. I mean first
it’s your letting me win a card game, and then it’s your sneaking out
to spend time with someone half my age and your lying about how you
really feel about me in an attempt to win my trust all over again and
then before you know it, you’re off in Vegas married to some eighteen
year old stripper who knows the kama sutra inside and out and I’m just
a thing of the past…” she ranted with a huff turning her eyes away from
“Okay, I know what this is,” he took in a slow breath leaning down
beside her on his side before he reached out to touch her face urging
her to look at him, but she refused as he felt a frustrated sigh
overtake him, “Jenna, this is about your father. I’m right on
“Of course it’s not about him. I just don’t like the idea of your
keeping things from me even if they’re as small as your being an
incredible Go Fish player because you know one day that’s going to be
something that comes back to haunt us…” she stated once again facing
him as he dipped down to capture a quick kiss from her lips in an
attempt to silence her words of protest.
“Jen,” he touched her cheek gently, “sweetheart, now you know that my
card tricks aren’t going to be something that makes or breaks us and
unlike what’s been happening with your father, the truth to the matter
is that you knew what a bastard I was long before you ever fell in love
“That doesn’t mean that in my having the knowledge that it’s going to
make things easier for us. I mean what if you suddenly decide
that you no longer want to do what we’re doing and you want to slip
back into your old ways with someone who obviously suits those needs…”
she continued unable to contain the thoughts that consumed her.
“Jenna, my life before you was meaningless. I mean in all honesty
I could sit there and say that yeah I had one hell of a wild life
because that’s the truth, but once you and I started this between us,”
he traced her jaw line drinking in her image as he lay beside her
taking comfort in the warmth of her body next to his, “well I never
found a reason to look back. You showed me that things didn’t
have to be so empty--so miserable and hollow and when we found one
another, well it was only then that I really truly learned the meaning
“Hart,” Jenna began with shadows of doubt lingering over her, “you say
that now, but who is to say that when push comes to shove that you
don’t find it easier to just run away and do what my father’s done…”
“Jenna, if I was going to run, I would’ve done it a long time ago….long
before you ever loved me, but you were exactly what I wanted and
everything I needed in my life. You’re what I still need more and
more each day and the way I feel about you is nothing like the way your
parents were with one another. I’m not the man who betrayed you
and hurt you Jen and I won’t allow you to push your feelings about what
your father has done upon me in your attempt to shove me away from
you,” he declared firmly seeing the protest about to spill from her
lips as he placed a finger over the center of her mouth, “Jen, listen
to me. If you’re this upset about what’s going on with your
father, then find a way to deal with it. Scream, yell or do
whatever it takes to get your emotions out, but all I ask is that you
don’t turn me into the bad guy because he fell through on his
promises. I’m not that man who let you down and I swear to you as
long as I have the power in me to do so, then I swear I won’t be doing
it. Hell, if letting you win gets this kind of reaction, then I
swear I’ll beat you every time if need be,” he added with a hint of a
smile watching as a sad grin cracked over her features.
“Hart, it’s not that,” she began trying to convey what had been
bothering her, but as she thought to what he’d said about her father,
she realized that on some level he was right. Clearly she was
ready to lash out at someone for her father’s actions and poor Hart had
been caught in the crossfire. With an apologetic smile she turned
to him once again, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be yelling at you like
“Hey, it’s okay. I still love you,” he whispered in response
leaning in towards her, “even if you’re just a little bit of a nutcase.”
“Well, what did you expect from me after you went and made me fall in
love with you,” she threw back at him, her eyes filled with a
playfulness that hadn’t been present moments earlier, “I mean clearly I
had to be just a little bit insane to allow myself to fall like I have.”
“Clearly,” he nodded in response his gaze lingering to her ever so
kissable lips before he leisurely took in her features with his
eyes. He slid his hand out around her body, curling her in
towards him as he moved over her, feeling her burning beneath
his. He tipped down to kiss her, tasting the fire behind her lips
as his palm teased over her curves thinking about how he’d savored this
time with her especially after all the near misses they’d had with one
another in the past, “though I do have a confession to make to you too
“What’s that?” she questioned lazily teasing her finger tips down over
his spine as he settled in above her.
“No woman has ever proven to be as much of a challenge for me,” he
murmured against her mouth fanning his fingers out over her abdomen and
up underneath her shirt as she shivered upon the contact he’d made with
her skin, “or as exciting as you are.”
“Hmm…” she purred against his lips pondering the validity behind that
statement as he held her, “so does that mean that you won’t be trading
me in for an eighteen year old acrobat anytime soon?”
“As long as you promise to return the favor should you ever decide
you’ve had your fill of me,” Hart teased in response nibbling on her
lower lip as she began to tug at his shirt recklessly urging on a more
intimate contact between them.
“Don’t worry Hart,” she winked up at him feeling him shift up over her
just enough to allow her to rid him of the shirt he’d been wearing
before her eyes took in every inch of him, “I wasn’t even considering
making that bold of a move where you were concerned…at least not for a
few weeks anyways…”
“I knew it. I knew you couldn‘t be trusted,” he tickled at her
sides watching the laughter flood from her lips as she wiggled beneath
him bowled over with her giggles.
“Hey now, I’m not the one playing games when it comes to mastering the
art of Go Fish,” she threw back at him feeling his tickle torture
continuing as his fingers danced over her skin.
“Yeah well guess what,” Hart spoke up in a menacing response, “You said
you didn’t think that I’d shown you all I had in of my bag of tricks
and you were right on that one as I have one in mind for you right now
that’s guaranteed to be just what the doctor ordered as I only throw it
out in the case of emergencies…”
“And is that what you perceive this being,” she inquired lifting a
“In the worst way,” he nodded eagerly moving in over her once again,
“but don’t worry I’m sure that this is one surprise that you’re going
to find far more enjoyable than you ever thought possible and unlike
the sour mood that was brought on by my not being forthcoming on my
card playing talents, I can promise you that you’re going to love this
one as it‘s well worth the wait.”
“Something tells me that I know I’m going to love it,” she confessed
thinking of all the ways she appreciated Hart’s presence in her life as
he was the only person who could get to the heart of what was bothering
her and turn things around in such a way that her worries didn’t
consume her--at least for a little while, she thought to herself as she
focused on the man in her arms knowing that she’d found the key to
happiness the moment she’d reluctantly fallen in love with him.
Dorothy stepped into her house and stopped. She looked around for a
moment as she tried to get oriented to just what was going on in her
The lights were down low with only two candles flickering in the room.
Rose petals lay scattered over the carpet and continued up the stairs.
Soft music beckoned her to climb the stairs to see what else lay in
store for her.
Dorothy placed her bag aside and took off her cardigan before she
climbed the stairs. The soft smell of lilacs tantalized her senses as
she stepped into the bedroom she shared with Preston. She stopped as
she saw candlelight flicker from inside the large master bathroom.
She smiled as she stepped to the bathroom and gently pushed the door
open. Preston smiled from the ledge of the tub as he dropped several
rose petals into the water. He stood and slowly made his way towards
her, the candlelight etching every muscle of his bare chest.
“Hello beautiful. Welcome to a night made just for you,” He spoke as he
lightly eased his fingers down her arms to take her hands in his. He
lifted her hands to his lips so he could gently place a kiss upon each
“How long have you been planning this?” She asked with a smile.
“All day,” He admitted as he released her hands only to begin gently
plucking at the buttons of her blouse, “There’s a nice hot bubble bath
“Hmmm, sounds divine,” She said as she shrugged out of her blouse and
kicked her shoes aside. She slipped out of her skirt then paused, “But
I’m only going to enjoy it if you join me.”
Preston grinned, “I thought you’d never ask,” He grinned as he watched
her continue to undress. He slid off his lounge pants and held out his
hand to her. He led her to the bathtub where they sank down into the
Dorothy closed her eyes and leaned back against Preston’s chest as the
water surrounded them. She smiled as she let out a relaxing sigh, “Now
this is heaven.”
“I’m glad you approve,” Preston smiled as he wrapped his arms around
her and held her close to him, “So…how was your day?”
“I don’t remember,” She replied in a dreamy tone as she enjoyed the
quiet moment between them.
He kissed her temple with a smile, “Then my work here is done.”
“Your work has only just begun,” She grinned as she turned slightly to
peer over her shoulder at him, “I have plans for you too, Mister.”
“Well I’ll consider myself warned,” He leaned forward to gently kiss
Dorothy smiled as she lay back against him, “So what’s all this about
anyway? Are you trying to sweep me off my feet for any particular
“Do I need one?” He asked as he gingerly trailed his fingers down her
“No, and that’s one of the things I love about you. You love to just
enjoy life for what it is.”
“With you in my life, it’s easy to enjoy,” He squeezed her gently in
“Now there’s something else I love about you. You’re always easy to
“I just know what makes me happy, and you make me very happy,” He
smiled, “You know, I’ve been thinking about retirement.”
“And what exactly have you been thinking?”
“I was considering what I might do if I didn’t take that job at Fort
“Well, I was actually thinking about opening a self-defense school.”
“To teach people hand to hand combat?”
“That and perhaps having a shooting range to teach people how to
properly handle a gun,” He mused, “But this is all just me thinking
“No, Pres,” She turned slightly, “It sounds like a really good idea,”
She paused, “I could actually help you.”
“I’d love to have you helping with the business side of things,” He
“Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of teaching.”
“And what would you teach?”
“I do have a criminal justice degree. Granted, it’s been a while since
I’ve actually practiced with it, but think about this. We could teach
people just their basic rights, what they need to know if they’re a
victim of an attack, or if they’re ever arrested. People don’t
understand their rights, and this would be a great chance to educate
them,” Dorothy smiled, “I think this would be a great opportunity for
the both of us.”
“So you think this is a good idea?”
“I think it’s a great idea,” She sealed her lips to his in a
celebratory kiss, “We can be together in every thing.”
“Now if only I can convince you to marry me,” He teased as he hugged
“Hmm…well, why don’t you get started on convincing me?” Dorothy smiled
seductively as she curled her arms around him and sealed her lips to
his once more. Things were looking as if they were picking up for her
as her family was together, and she would do whatever it took to hold
them together and keep anyone from tearing them apart again.
Blake entered the mansion ready to lose herself to her misery as her
heart was breaking over the state of her affairs. While she’d
tried to be calm and reasonable on the ride home from the hospital, at
this moment she was feeling anything but reasonable as it seemed that
her world was falling to pieces. While she’d tried to convey that
to Ken, he didn’t understand either, though the truth to the matter was
that she couldn’t quite explain everything that was happening inside of
her and the more she tried to think about it, the harder things were
upon her. How was it possible for her to be so very hurt by
losing Zack when she clearly had hope for the future with Seth? Yet, in
experiencing the loss that she’d clearly felt today, her heart was
still breaking more and more with the moment.
Running into her room and slamming the door behind her, Blake fell face
first into her bed burying her shameful tears into the comforter as her
sobs masked the sounds of the faint tapping at her bedroom door.
Unaware that she was no longer alone, Blake continued to drown in her
misery realizing that nothing was going to make this situation go away
as it felt as though a huge chunk of her heart had been ripped away
from her when Johanna showed up to share the news of Zack’s baby with
him. How that moment had wounded her far more than she’d ever
imagined as her heart shattered with the reality that she and Zack were
finally over at long last after all the dreams she’d had for them
together. Even now the pain seemed to vibrate inside of her
burning her down to the core until she felt the soft, tender touch of a
hand pressed upon her shoulder.
“Blake honey, what’s wrong,” Annie inquired, her tone ever so patient
and compassionate as Blake refused to meet her eyes any longer than she
had in the brief moment of initial surprise.
“Nothing,” Blake lied burying her face in the blankets once again as
her tears continued, “nothing at all…”
“Blake, don’t lie to me sweetheart. I know that you’re clearly
upset and perhaps we should talk about this,” Annie suggested feeling a
tug at her heart at she thought of seeing Blake in so much pain as it
felt as if her own heart was breaking beside the girl whom Annie had
spent so many years helping to raise, “What’s going on?”
“Oh Annie,” Blake began with a heaving sob as she forced herself to
meet her nanny’s penetrating gaze, “It’s horrible…absolutely horrible
and I don’t know how I’m going to get past the fact that a dream of
mine ended today.”
“Sometimes when it feels like a dream is ending, that just means that
it’s changed. Sometimes the dream isn’t over though we think that
it might be as it can transform into something more--something better…”
“Not for me,” Blake remarked adamantly, “as everything I hoped for with
Zack is gone. He’s found someone else--someone that’s having his
baby and now…”
“Oh Blake honey,” Annie reached out to embrace her as Blake sobbed
harder with each passing second.
“He told me that he loved me--that we had something special and I
believed him. I gave myself to him--to the dreams I’d had about
us having a future together and now…now, they’re gone. They
aren’t here for me to hold onto now that she’s having his baby and all
those moments we shared--the love I felt in my heart--the love I feel…”
“Blake sweetheart, I know this hurts, but I thought that you’d found
something special with Seth. I mean I just thought that since you
were so excited about spending time with him yesterday that naturally…”
Annie began a bit flustered by what she was witnessing in Blake despite
the clear cut emotions she’d seen where Zack Vaughn was
concerned. “I just never imagined that you and Zack were still…”
“We weren’t. We aren’t and obviously we’ll never be,” Blake
replied emphatically ready to lose herself completely to the depression
that ate away at her insides, “I just kind of hoped…”
“That maybe you and Zack would be able to repair the damage that was
done,” Annie completed watching as Blake’s sad blue eyes revealed the
truth behind Annie’s statement as a thick moment of silence pressed
over the two women, “and what about Seth? Sweetheart, does he
realize that you’re still in love with Zack?”
Blake nodded wiping at her tear stained cheeks as another whimper rose
from within, “Yes, he does and I know that he hates it. I know
that he hates the way that I am about Zack and yet he loves me.
He loves me with all that he is and I’m only hurting him with my
“Blake, if you aren’t in love with Seth, then perhaps you should spare
his heart before it…” Annie tried to think up some way to help Blake
uncomplicated the situation she’d found herself in.
“No, that’s not what I want,” Blake blurted out desperately as the
thought of letting go of Seth send a shudder of fear racing over her
every synapse, “I do love Seth. I love him so very much and I
can’t imagine my life without him. He’s the man that I want to
share my life with--the man who sees me for the woman I am--the woman I
can be and when I’m with him, there isn’t anything in this world that I
could want more than to spend forever with him just like that…”
“But I just thought you said that with Zack…” Annie wrinkled her nose
as she found herself at a complete loss in the midst of Blake’s turmoil.
“I love Seth just as much as I love Zack. I want to be with the
both of them Annie. When I was younger, I met Zack and he was
everything a girl could ask for and more. I fought like hell to
get him to notice me and when I finally was able to rekindle that flame
that was so obviously burning between us all those years ago, I thought
that life couldn’t be better--that I couldn’t be happier than I was
when I was with him, but well, things weren’t as easy as I’d
imagined. I mean the quake happened and out of nowhere Seth
walked into my life. He’s so very handsome, so strong and
wonderful. When he saved my life during that quake, well I knew
that he was someone that I needed in my life--someone that fate sent to
me to change things around. He didn’t care that I was Blake
Ashford--that I was someone with a family of power and influence.
He loved me for me and he accepted me as he was showing me that it was
okay to be vulnerable and open to embracing love. He made me feel
so many wonderful things that I never felt before until he said things
that I wasn’t able to face. It hurt me so very much that I ran
away from him. I pushed myself to create this distance between us
which ultimately lead me back to Zack and when Zack and I made love for
the first time, oh Annie I knew that he was the man that I waited my
whole life to share something so very wonderful with. When he
held me and experienced that first special moment with me, I knew in my
heart that it was always how it was meant to be--even with the way I’d
felt about Seth, but then…well, when Caitlin had her disaster…I guess
things changed and there was Seth. I was so very wrong about him
and words can’t even begin to express how awful I felt about thinking
the worst in him. He’s been so good to me and he’s there when I
need him. He’s always trying to do what is best for me and he
makes me so very happy. When we’re together--when we’re lost in
one another, Annie, I feel like I’m this desired, loved woman who has
the greatest man in the world with his arms around her. Making
love to him was more than I ever dreamt it to be and even after the way
I’d given my heart to Zack…oh it‘s a never ending cycle for me…”
“Blake, honey, can’t you see what you’re doing to yourself,” Annie
interrupted seeing Blake going into a moment of despair once again,
“You’re dealing with so many emotionally taxing feelings and
experiences that you’re not taking the time to deal with them
properly. Sex isn’t something that should be taken lightly and
after you’d waited for so very long to share that with the right man,
well it’s only natural that you’d be feeling some of these things, but
then when you’ve found yourself tangled up with two men going through
the emotions you‘ve been completely unprepared for…”
“I guess I just never thought that it would be this hard--that it would
do these things and confuse everything,” Blake sniffled realizing that
in Annie’s words a truth was revealed to her about herself, “Oh God…I’m
a slut Annie. I’m a total whore and that’s why this is happening…”
“You’re none of those things Blake,” Annie cut her off abrasively as
she reached for her hand, “and for you to say such a vile thing about
the precious little girl that I know you are, well it’s completely
wrong. You aren’t even close to being that horrible, vicious
string of words you used.”
“Of course I am. Here I am upset with Zack for having slept with
Johanna and gotten her pregnant, but I’m no better. I’ve been
sleeping with Seth and loving every second of it, finding myself
wanting him all the more, yet I was furious when Johanna announced she
was pregnant. She and Zack had something before he and I ever
crossed paths with one another again and she had no idea that I was a
part of his life, yet here I was well aware of what I had with Zack and
I leapt into bed with Seth because of how I felt for him. I
wanted him so badly that I didn’t care what it would do to Zack and
I. I didn’t care how it screwed the situation up with Zack
because all that mattered was this irresistible urge, this ache I had
inside for Seth and now, well I know I can’t make it stop. I
don’t want it to stop because I want Seth. I love Seth and I need
him in my life…just like I need Zack. I want him so badly and
knowing that I can’t have him… Oh God, Annie what is wrong with
me? Why am I behaving so foolishly because let‘s face it both
Seth and Zack would be better off without me. Maybe Johanna being
pregnant is a sign that Zack deserved more…just like Seth deserves
“Blake, sweetheart I have to say that you’ve just found yourself in a
very emotional situation and since it’s clear that your heart is still
seeking out an answer, well perhaps that’s a sign that you should take
some time to yourself to figure things out. Only then will you be
free and clear to draw some kind of conclusions to what it is your
heart is trying to tell you,” Annie suggested patiently.
“It’s telling me that I’m a lunatic,” Blake groaned inwardly.
“No, that’s your head fighting with you, but inside here,” Annie
motioned to her heart, “that’s where you’ll find the real answers.”
“What if they never come to me Annie? What if in being this way
and in having these conflicting emotions I’m leaving room for the
greatest thing that ever happened to me to just slip away? I mean
I know there’s no future for me and Zack. I love Seth so very
much that I shouldn’t be doing this, but I can’t help myself…”
“Sweetheart, whatever is meant to be will be and you have to believe
that,” Annie tried to offer up some comfort to Blake’s grueling
“I wish I had your faith Annie,” Blake sighed heavily leaning into her
as she wondered if this was just another sign that she’d fallen under
the Ashford curse like every member in her family did. First with
her parents when her mother had been ripped out of the world, then with
her brothers as Brant and Ken had seen more than their fair share of
heartbreaks and now as she thought of the woman she’d become she
wondered if happiness was ever truly meant for her as it seemed she’d
become involved in the very things that she swore she’d never allow
herself to fall into. In that moment a shudder passed over her as
she wondered if she’d ever be able to pull her way out of it without
losing the thing that she craved more than anything in this world--real
Seth stepped into the Cardinal Hotel and looked around. This wasn’t
exactly the kind of place he liked to visit, but considering Thea
wanted an update where no one would know either of the, this was
perfect. An older building, the Cardinal Hotel had once been the place
to be in Coral Valley. Now, however, it was a seedy den for those who
had something to hide. Unfortunately, he was now one of those people.
As Seth moved towards the lounge, he turned and looked around the area
once more. He didn’t want to sit in a tacky bar if he could avoid it.
As the front door of the hotel opened, he stopped in his tracks as he
never expected to see anyone he knew in this place much less Ria.
“Ria?” Seth questioned, not quite believing his eyes as he stepped
across the room towards her.
Ria turned quickly in surprise with her eyes wide, “Seth…oh god…what
are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same question,” He said in a protective manner.
“Well…I…” She paused as she tried to think of some answer to explain
away her presence in this hotel, “I’m here to meet someone.”
“Oh please tell me you’re kidding. You deserve someone who would treat
you to something better than this,” Seth began.
“And you? What are you doing here? I can’t imagine Blake Ashford would
want to be seen here,” She pointed out, “So just who are you treating
to this place?”
“This isn’t about me,” He countered.
“It’s as much about you as it is me,” She reminded him.
“Well…” He paused, “Come on. It’s obvious that the both of us need to
just leave. I’ll take you home.”
“No, thank you,” She said as she pulled away from his offered hand,
“I’m here on business. So if you don’t mind…”
“Business? What kind of business would you have here?”
“None of your business,” She groaned, “Seth, I don’t need you trying to
butt into my business.”
“Obviously you do if you’re meeting someone here. Do you know what kind
of things go on in a place like this?”
“And how would you know? And what kind of business are you doing here?
Don’t act like you’re all innocent, bud, since you’re here too,” She
“Ria…” Seth began.
“I’m not arguing with you. Back off,” Ria demanded as she walked
through the double doors at the end of the hall.
Seth fumed as he wondered how he could find out what Ria was up to. He
walked down the hall to follow her. As he stepped through the double
doors, he instantly frowned. All he found was an empty hallway, and no
sign of Ria.
Ria sighed heavily as she glanced over to her lover, “I’m sorry. I had
no idea I would run into Seth here. This is the last place I would have
thought to run into him.”
“Seth…hmmm,” Her lover pondered as he leaned against the wall of the
elevator, “Who is this Seth?”
“A guy I went to high school with. He was a football player, and he was
kind of like a big brother to me. He’s very protective of me, and only
wanted to check up on me.”
“Is this way with all women or does he have a particular soft spot for
“Are you jealous?” Ria grinned as she gently adjusted his tie.
“Perhaps a little,” He smiled.
“You shouldn’t be. Seth’s just a real stand up guy. He wants to make
sure that all women are well treated and respected,” She explained,
“You don’t have anything to worry about as I’m all yours,” Ria assured
him as she leaned against him and drew his lips to hers.
Her lover held her close to him as he pondered the man who had almost
discovered them. He wasn’t quite sure where he’d seen him before, but
he was certain that Seth was a face from his past. He just didn’t quite
know where he had run into him. Still, perhaps he would have to
investigate the matter and find out more about Ria’s protective big
Brant took in a slow breath adjusting the tray in his arms after he’d
heard Brooke call out to allow him entrance to the room she’d been
staying in at the Ashford mansion. While Richard had been
spending most of his time with her, he’d taken a quick leave from his
position at her side to get some fresh air upon Brooke’s urgings from
what Brant had heard from various staff members and Brant had decided
that now was the perfect time to pay Brooke a visit. Now as he
saw her sitting upright, wrapped up in a pile of blankets looking
bruised and battered a chill rushed over his spine tugging at his
insides as he approached her trying to remain calm about the situation
as his head filled with fury at the monster who had harmed her.
“Brant,” she greeted him with a slight smile upon recognition of her
latest visitor, “I didn’t expect to be seeing you this evening.”
“Well, I couldn’t help but wonder how you were doing and plus,” he
motioned to the tray that he’d carried in with him, “I didn’t have a
dinner date this evening, so I thought that perhaps I could tempt you
into joining me.”
“With an offer like that, how could I refuse,” she grinned widely
patting the bed beside her, “Please…sit down.”
“I’d love to,” he replied carefully placing the tray in front of her
before taking his seat on the bed watching as the bruising that still
filled her pale features reminded him all over again of how determined
he was to make the man he’d let get away pay for his crimes, “So truly,
how are you holding up?”
“Better now that you’re in here as I’ve been thinking about you I hope
you realize,” Brooke flashed him a slight smile, “as it’s not everyday
someone in my position finds herself fortunate enough to have you come
to her rescue. The other night I truly believed that my life was
over, but then when you saved me…”
“I didn’t do anything Brooke,” he sighed heavily feeling a guilt riding
over him, “as I really wish I could’ve done more and prevented this…”
“Brant, this wasn’t something that anyone realized was coming and even
in the position of having lived through the horrible ordeal, well I
still can’t say that I would’ve been able to change any of the events
leading up to it,” she replied as her smile faded, “Bruce was just out
for revenge of sorts and I’m lucky to be alive, which is something I’m
certain I wouldn’t have been had you not answered that door when I ran
away from him.”
“I’m just glad that I was able to be there to catch your fall,” he
reached for her hand gently as a sad smile spilled over his lips, “as I
let that man get away once before when he tried to kill Avery, and I
couldn’t bear the thought of him taking you from this world either.”
“Oh Brant,” Brooke’s eyes glazed over at the sincerity in his tone as
she raised her hand to her chest touched by his words.
“I just think of that night when he attacked Avery and I had a chance
to end this--I had the chance to make things right for us all, but I
hesitated. I saw Avery on that couch, barely breathing and that
took control of me. I put Bruce out of my mind and went to her,
but if I could go back…”
“You did right by my daughter Brant and you did right by me with all
you’ve done,” Brooke continued trying to assuage his lingering guilt
about what was in the past, “When you risked yourself in the name of
love to protect Avery and furthermore when you did what you could in
giving in to Bruce’s ridiculous ransom demand by providing him with
that money, well that in itself shows just how noble and gallant you
are in terms of those you care about.” she continued shaking her head
as she reached for the juice he’d brought up for her.
“How did you know I did that,” Brant questioned in confusion watching
her life the cup to her lips as he was surprised by her clear cut
statement, “Brooke, no one knows about my playing a part in putting
together that money except for Guy and I made him swear to me not to
say anything to anyone…”
“Well, you know my son and I are very close,” Brooke backpedaled nearly
choking on the sip of liquid in her mouth before she faced him once
again for another round of quick thinking, “He refused to provide me
with the truth the first time I’d asked, but when I finally coaxed it
out of him, he told me about your involvement and I must say that I was
touched in more ways than you can ever imagine. I mean clearly
you and I haven’t known one another too long, yet for you to pay such a
price to have me back home again with my family especially after my
daughter abandoned you like she did…”
“That’s not what mattered,” Brant explained accepting her answer as he
focused on the bruising on her face once again, “as I was concerned
about your safety.”
“But I’m safe now and it’s all because of you. You gave me my
life back by doing what you did with that one selfless, generous act
and…” she started once again.
“Brooke, you can’t tell Avery that I did that. I made Guy swear
to it that he wouldn’t inform her of my paying the ransom demand there
because I don’t want her to think that I had any other ulterior motives
than bringing you back because that’s truly what my gesture was about,”
he began to plead with her a desperation in his voice.
“Guy wouldn’t break your confidence for anyone in this world, but me,
though I must say that I really think Avery should know about the
kind-hearted soul that you truly are. She should see that there’s
so much more to you than she allowed herself to bear witness to and…”
“She can’t know Brooke,” Brant pleaded with her shaking his head with
heavy dismay, “I don’t want her to have any knowledge of what I’ve done
because I can’t bear to have her thinking of me in that way…”
“In what way Brant?” she questioned incredulously, “In the way of a man
with a generous and loving soul who places those he cares about on the
top of his list of priorities?”
“Brooke, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I’m ready to
give up on your daughter because the truth to the matter is that I love
her. With all that I am I’m certain that Avery and I were meant
to be together, but for us to fall back into place with one another, I
don’t want it to be because of what I did for you,” he explained
bringing his fingers up through his hair as he thought to his decision
to keep silent about his contribution for Brooke’s safe return, “When
she and I have another chance at happiness, I want it to be because she
loves me for the man that I am--that she sees me as I am with no false
pretenses and when that time is right, she’ll understand.”
“How could she not understand if she knew how you took a chance on
bringing me home again? Certainly that in itself would open her
eyes to just how much you care about her…” Brooke urged him on reaching
out to touch his arm gently, “That kind of move on your part speaks
volumes about your heart and how you feel about Avery.”
“I did what I did in part for Avery, but more so I did it for you
Brooke,” Brant continued to explain as he thought back to his impulsive
decision, “as you’re one of the few people in this world who has always
been up front with me about things. Granted things worked their
way kind of fast with our getting to know one another and clearly Avery
and I weren’t exactly forthcoming with you about some other situations,
but you’re someone who has accepted me for me and I respect that about
you. I appreciate that you were willing to give me a chance to
make your only daughter happy when most mothers would go running in
another direction taking their daughter’s far from a man like me.
You took the time to see me--to really see me in the way that I’d
always wanted someone important in my life to see me and I’d like to
think that even though Avery and I aren’t together that you and I have
a certain friendship between us.”
“Of course we do Brant,” she squeezed his hand firmly, “as while I know
my daughter made her choice to be with Russell for that baby, I still
wish that fate would’ve dealt you a better hand.”
“So do I Brooke. Believe me as there isn’t a time when I’m not
thinking about how it could’ve been with Avery--about how it should’ve
been for us as there’s nothing I could want more than to have been the
man she married--the man that she’s sharing her future with. Had
things been different, then maybe right now Avery and I would be
planning for a way to bring our child into the world together and it
would be like everything I ever wanted was really happening for
me. Of course the ironic part was that I spent so many years
wanting anything, but that kind of commitment in my life, but when I
met Avery, that all changed for me. Even now, I can’t think about
anything, but what it would be like in being with her--holding her and
loving her,” he paused offering up a sad smile, “but I guess it’s too
little, too late, huh?”
“Never say never Brant,” Brooke added encouragingly, “as you never know
what the future has in store for you.”
“All I want for Avery is a life full of happiness and as much as I wish
that she could have that with me--as much as I want to be the man to
love her and be with her until the end of time, if she truly feels that
Russell Denton is where her heart is, then I’m not going to take that
from her,” he answered poignantly thinking to all the pain Avery had
been dealing with lately.
“If I know anything about my daughter Brant it’s that she’s hiding
behind Russell. Sure, she seems like she’s happy now, but don’t
let that fool you. When she and Russell went down this path with
one another before, my daughter was miserable. She ended their
engagement right before their wedding because they weren’t meant to be
together…” Brooke started to reason with him.
“Because she lost her child,” Brant corrected seeing the flash of
surprise in Brooke’s eyes, “She told me about why she left Russell and
oddly enough that all kind of makes sense now even if I didn’t see it
“Okay, so granted they parted because of the child she lost, but that
in it’s own devastating way was a reflection of how wrong they were for
one another. My daughter and Russell Denton might have a long
history with one another, but despite the picture perfect portrait
they’re trying to display, they’re like fire and ice. Avery will
only be content so very long before Russell’s charms tend to turn to
annoyances for her. He’s overbearing and controlling and he’s
very set in his ways as that includes his contempt for my daughter’s
career as she’s by far outdone his. Her reputation exceeds his
and with a man like that pride can be a dangerous thing as I strongly
suspect he’s going to try to start pushing her towards leaving your
company as soon as their child makes it into the world--that is if
Avery can keep the pregnancy going full term,” Brooke trailed off with
a cryptic tone.
“Why wouldn’t she be able to,” Brant took note of the hint of mystery
in her voice as an instant flag went up in the back of his mind.
He scanned Brooke’s features as something was clearly brewing behind
her eyes--something that he couldn’t quite read, yet found unsettling,
“Brooke, is there something you know that you haven’t been telling me?”
“Well, it’s not exactly my place as I’d just overheard a few things
here and there, but…well…I shouldn’t say…” Brooke paused watching as
Brant was clearly hanging on her every word.
“Brooke, if you know something that I don’t, then you need to tell
me. If Avery’s in any kind of danger, then I need to find a way
to protect her somehow…” Brant pleaded with her, “If Bruce said
something to you about what he was planning for Avery, then…”
“It’s not what Bruce said, but more so about what Avery’s doctors told
her,” Brooke blurted out bringing back the tears as she choked up on
emotion, “Oh I don’t know how to even say this considering that I swore
to Avery that I would keep this between us and for me to reveal
something like this to anyone, well she would be upset with me that I
couldn’t keep it to myself…”
“I swear to you Brooke, whatever you say will remain between us.
It won’t leave this room,” Brant vowed to her desperate to hear what
she was hiding about Avery.
“I really shouldn’t, but…” Brooke paused dramatically before
continuing, “the truth to the matter is that this pregnancy is putting
Avery at a risk. Her doctors have expressed their concerns to her
and Russell about this baby as the last time she’d had a miscarriage
she was told she’d never be able to conceive again.”
“But that wasn’t the case,” Brant noted watching Brooke wipe at her
“Perhaps it wasn’t, but now, well my daughter is playing a very
dangerous game with her life. According to what I overheard at
the hospital, Avery’s going through a very high risk pregnancy and she
was advised to terminate it before it took her down, but Russell was
adamant about her keeping the child even if it meant costing her the
life she worked so very hard for. She tried to reason with him,
but he wouldn’t hear of it as he was hell bent on keeping her and that
baby is the only way for him to have his hold on her…”
“Brooke, are you trying to tell me that having this baby could kill
Avery?” Brant questioned in confusion, “That somehow this pregnancy
puts her life at risk?”
“At the greatest risk imaginable,” Brooke nodded emphatically, “Avery
was talking about it with me just the other day and she’s broken up
about it because as much as she wanted to be a mother, she’s not sure
she’s willing to sacrifice her life in the name of having this child,
who in all likelihood could never make it into this world and if it
does, well there’s a chance that it will either take her down under or
be born with serious birth defects due to what’s happened inside of my
daughter. She’s broken up about it feeling as if there’s no
choice but to end things, but with Russell, he won’t hear of it.
He forced this marriage upon her and he’s firm in his position to make
her have this baby regardless of her wishes. He’s backed her into
a corner and now she feels trapped, confused and hurting. I tried
to reason with her, to get her to open up with me and be honest with
herself in just putting her foot down with Russell, but she’s afraid to
defy him. He has her believing that there’s nothing more out
there for her beyond him and he’s drilled it into her head that you
wouldn’t waste your time with her anymore now that she’s gone and hurt
you in the worst possible way. She feels trapped and hurting and
fears what would happen if she just followed her heart back to
you. She said she’s tried to break free of him, but as with
Bruce, Russell has played head games with her and now, well now it’s
just awful. I tried to tell her to be strong--to fight the hold
Russell has on her, but she begged me to just let it go--to try to be
civil with Russell and I’ve done what I could for Avery’s sake, but I’m
so afraid that man is going to be the end of my daughter--that he’s
going to take my little girl away from me and that I’ll finally lose
her forever after I fought like hell to get her back in my life.
Brant, I just couldn’t bear the thought of having her disappear like
that after I’ve waited so long to finally recapture some of what we
lost together over the years--to have that happen now, well I think it
would truly be the end of me,” she broke down in sobs as Brant reached
out to embrace her.
“I’m sure that’s not going to happen Brooke. You’re not going to
lose Avery,” Brant tried to assure her taking in Brooke’s tale as he
pondered the story she was telling him, making his own assessments of
“As long as Russell is planting his thoughts into her head and forcing
his will upon her, I’m so afraid that she’s never going to be free to
live. She’s never going to be truly happy as her heart will never
have what she’s truly longed for with a future filled with love and
happiness. If this keeps up much longer, I’m terrified that my
little girl will be gone from this world all because she made a mistake
that has her forever bound to a man who doesn’t deserve her….” Brooke
trailed off overcome with her tears as Brant continued to hold her.
“That’s not going to happen Brooke,” he promised her, “I won’t let
anything happen to hurt Avery.”
“But how? How can you save her Brant? If she knew that I
shared with you what she’s been afraid to admit to the world around
her, then she’d certainly be feeling the backlash of it from Russell,
yet if we do nothing…” Brooke sniffled turning her dark eyes up towards
him, “Brant, we have to find a way to save my daughter from the
nightmare she’s pushed herself into. If she keeps that child,
then she’s going to lose more than I’m certain she’s willing to pay…”
“And if she loses that baby it’s going to destroy her,” Brant remarked
simply thinking to Avery’s reaction to being pregnant, “That baby means
everything to her even with the risks you say that are involved…”
“But I just told you that…” Brooke began a bit baffled by his words as
he’d seemingly bought into the tale she’d been telling him.
“I heard what you said, but I know in my heart Avery wouldn’t terminate
this pregnancy even with the risks and if things are as desperate as
you say they are, then perhaps I should step in and try to help
her. I have friends--friends in places where they can help Avery
bring her baby into the world without the fear of losing either one of
them. I know doctors that can help her assess the risks and see
to it that they don’t prevent her from having a normal life with her
“But Russ is never going to agree to that as I’ve already told you that
he wants to control every aspect of Avery’s pregnancy. He’ll see
your stepping into the situation as means for an attack. He’ll
lash out at you and see to it that you aren’t able to help Avery with
your good intentions as you’ll never get the chance to save her or her
“There might be a way,” Brant decided thinking about the possibilities
that this situation could bring to the table for him.
“How so?” Brooke questioned trying to read his expression as he
stiffened beside her sitting up straighter clearly lost in his own
train of thoughts.
“There’s always a way,” he assured her with a quick nod, “as I’m
certain I can get through to Avery and save her and the baby…”
“Brant, you say that like you know something--like there’s a part of
the story that you are withholding from me now,” Brooke began sensing
something brewing on his end as she reached out to him, “Please…tell me
what it is…tell me what you’re planning.”
“Brooke, as I said before I love your daughter and I’d do anything for
her. She means the world to me and I just want her happiness for
her. If what you’re saying is true about Russell stealing that
chance for that kind of life away from her, then I have no choice but
to take drastic measures to ensure that Avery and the baby are taken
“But how?” she repeated demanding answers once again as she thought to
her plans for her daughter‘s pregnancy.
“Don’t you worry about that Brooke as I can promise you that Avery
won’t ever have to worry about anything other again once I get through
to her--well, other than whether she’d like to have a private or public
wedding here or overseas once we’re together again,” Brant decided the
wheels turning in his head as he decided that it was time to look into
a bit of investigating of his own before he launched his latest plan of
attack on Russell Denton.
“You’ve been quiet tonight,” Dave spoke as he led Deidra to a table in
Irvan’s, “Stop thinking about Mathis.”
“Easier said than done,” Deidra sighed as she slid into the booth.
He sat across from her and leaned onto the table, “Then I’m going to
have to come up with some way of changing that.”
She looked at him sympathetically, “I’m sorry, Dave. I probably won’t
be much fun tonight.”
“You’re always fun…maybe a little neurotic at times, but always fun,”
He teased with a wink as he pulled a menu from the holder at the end of
the table and began to glance over the selections.
“Oh good way to cheer me up there,” She rolled her eyes though a smile
did creep over her lips.
“I try,” He smiled as a waitress joined them.
“What can I get you guys this evening?” The waitress smiled as she
removed a note pad from her apron.
“I’d like the Grilled Chicken Club,” Deidra smiled, “And I want my
fries to be cheese fries. And I’ll have a diet soda.”
“Okay, and you sir?”
“A mega burger with the works,” Dave spoke as he returned the menu to
its slot, “And soda, please.”
“All right, it’ll be just a few minutes,” The waitress smiled before
Dave looked to his date once more, “Dee, if you don’t shake that frown
off, I swear I’m going to have to do something drastic.”
“Such as?” She asked in curiosity.
“Probably something totally embarrassing. Something that’ll have you
blushing straight down to your toes,” He grinned, “And you don’t want
that, do you?”
“Hmm…I dunno. We may have to take drastic measures here because I just
do not feel much like doing anything but frowning.”
“Okay…just remember you asked for it,” He pointed out as he stood and
walked over to the jukebox. He glanced through several songs before he
smiled. He slipped some coins into the jukebox before he turned and
slowly walked over to her, “Come on.”
“What are you doing?” She asked as he extended his hand to her. She
looked to his hand then back to her, “Dave…”
“Come on,” He urged as he took her hand and drew her onto her feet. He
led her to an open area on the dance floor.
As the soft sounds of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love”
began to play, Deidra chuckled, “Oh god…this? Are you crazy?”
“Hush up,” He teased as he slipped his arm around her waist and took
her hand. He gently began leading her in a dance as she met his eyes.
“I remember you dedicating this song to me at my wedding party.”
“Hmm…I so didn’t mean it for Andy,” He pointed out as he met her eyes.
“Are you trying to tell me something?” She asked with a smile.
“I’ve been trying to tell you something for years, but you’ve never
been very receptive,” He shrugged, “It’s not my fault you’re not
willing to listen.”
Deidra met his eyes with a level of amusement before she tried to
regain a measure of seriousness, “Maybe I’m ready to listen.”
“Hmm, I don’t know. I don’t want to be the rebound guy,” He sighed.
“You’re not. Been there, done that. Remember?” She pointed out, “You’re
the guy after the rebound guy.”
“Hmm, is that a label I can live with?” He questioned with a grin.
“I don’t know. You tell me,” She smiled.
“I don’t know. I may have to find a way to get used to it.”
“And just how would you go about something like that?” She asked as she
met his eyes.
“Very, very carefully,” He spoke seriously before he began to slowly
ease closer to her towards a kiss.
“Your food’s ready,” The waitress announced before she winced,
“Oops…sorry,” She scurried back to the kitchen after leaving their food
upon the table.
Dave met Deidra’s eyes. Deidra took a deep breath before she slowly
pulled away from him and made her way back towards their table. Dave
tried to still the rapid beating of his heart. He’d been so close and
yet here he was…still as far away as ever.
“Avery, are you sure you want to be coming in here with me as I’d be
more than happy to take you home to be with my parents instead of…”
Russell started feeling a wave of apprehension fall upon his shoulders
as he thought to all he and his wife had been through over the last
twenty four hours before he’d received the call from Jade alerting him
to Grady’s latest predicament.
“Russ, there’s no way I’m leaving you now especially not when you need
me to help here,” Avery insisted firmly pushing her own worries and
concerns about the situation they’d been dealing with after Bruce
Mathis had violated their home not so long ago as she scanned the
police station ready to make some progress with at least one thing that
was going wrong in their life, “I’m sure we stand a better chance at
getting Grady out of here together than apart. This is just plain
stupid and I’m sure that we can get things in order to get him out of
here before he does anything stupid--well, beyond what he did earlier,
“I still don’t like the feel of this,” Russell frowned slightly, “from
what Jade said, it sounds like Cameron Stone was goading him on--that
there’s so much more to this story than we’re hearing.”
“Even so Grady tends to be inclined towards violence before thinking
things through,” Avery reminded him sharply, “not that he would be
unjustified in slugging Cameron Stone as it shows that maybe there’s
still a shot at some sort of conscience going on inside your brother
seeing as he’s finally realized what a snake he’s been spending time
“Yeah well men like Cameron don’t take too kindly to any kind of
opposition on any level and especially not physical there,” Russell
frowned as Avery surveyed the police station once again.
“We’ll work on the details of that one once we get him out of here, but
right now we need to work on trying to set up bail so that we can take
Grady home to figure out what’s next as I‘m sure that the courts
already have the wheels rolling on this one since bail was brought up
before Judge Carmichael earlier today before Jade called us, so it‘s
just a matter of us getting the courts what they need and then we can
take Grady and…” Avery spotted someone up ahead of her before wiggling
her finger at Russell to follow her, “Over there.”
“I’ll be there in a second,” Russell remarked watching his wife go
speak with someone at one of the windows before he surveyed the police
station once again wondering how it could be possible for a small town
to just go through so many ridiculous things in such a short
time. It was starting to feel like there was some kind of hex on
the Denton family as first Bruce Mathis had taken the liberty to
vandalize Russell’s home and now Cameron Stone was having Grady thrown
in jail. Somehow things just weren’t fitting right into place as
Russell began to wonder just who was behind all the happenings in
town. Certainly there had to be a connection behind who was
financing Bruce and since Avery was working for BBK when Stone had a
lawsuit going up against them, Russell began to wonder if perhaps he
was going in the wrong direction with his suspicions about who was
behind the madness in their lives. Still, none of that mattered
now as he joined his wife finding her in the midst of a heated debate
with a uniformed officer before her.
“What the hell do you mean bail has been denied?” Avery frowned placing
her hands on her hips firmly as she glared at the man before her,
“Since he’s right where he belongs,” the man remarked smugly as Avery
stood taller throwing her angry eyes up at him.
“That’s a matter of opinion, and my client has rights you know,” Avery
replied sourly going into full on lawyer mode as she eyed the man’s
nametag before her, “Lieutenant Sharpe.”
“Rights or not, he’s not going anywhere,” Sharpe informed her bluntly,
“as bail’s just been denied for him considering the compiling evidence
we have against him. Perhaps your client should’ve thought about
that before he decided to mess with the wrong person today…”
“Look, there’s no reason to hold him as I’m sure what happened with Mr.
Stone is a misunderstanding and…” Avery began again.
“Oh I’m not talking about what happened with Stone as that’s small
potatoes,” Sharpe explained abrasively, “as your client has leapt into
a whole new world with moving up to attempted murder.”
“That’s bull,” Russell shot back in a grumble, “My brother wasn’t
trying to murder anyone today.”
“No one said anything today as this is more so about what he did before
he decided to pound on Mr. Stone,” Sharpe continued turning his
attention to Avery, “because his prints were found at the scene of a
very violent crime that took place not too long ago here in town as we
ran a match between him and those we had taken at Kipp Mahoney‘s
apartment from the night he was shot. Your client‘s prints were
all over the place and today‘s arrest just confirmed that.”
“Come again?” Russell blinked back at him, “That’s just ridiculous as
my brother doesn’t even know Kipp Mahoney.”
“That’s not what we hear as it seems the two have had quite a violent
history with one another coming to blows in public according to
sources,” Sharpe stated plainly still wearing that smug expression he’d
carried with him from the moment he’d delivered the news that bail had
been denied for Grady.
Now as Avery stood before the Lieutenant taking in his words, she tried
to conjure up some explanation for Grady’s being linked to Kipp
Mahoney. Certainly Grady was uninvolved in anything that
nefarious, but as Avery started to recall some of the details of the
Mahoney story that had been splashed over the papers, the face of the
victim came into mind as Avery was transported back to the engagement
party that had taken place at the Ashford mansion. While that
night had been full of disaster, there was a moment when she and Grady
had been engaged in a full blown argument and the man who had stepped
in was… She stifled the gasp that built up in the back of her
throat as she recalled the way the two men had torn at one another once
Kipp had stepped in to protect her. However, as she thought back
to the rage and drunkenness that Grady was filled with that night, it
was entirely directed at her and Kipp had only been unfortunate enough
to try to help--that didn’t equate attempted murder…not by a long shot
even if that’s what Sharpe was trying to imply.
“What sources told you that,” Russell demanded answers as Sharpe sighed
as if he were bored.
“It doesn’t really matter who said it as your brother’s prints were
found at the crime scene. That speaks for itself,” Sharpe blurted
out once again.
“That means nothing,” Avery shook her head in response discarding what
Patrick was saying as she continued on a rant thinking for the briefest
of moments about who Kipp Mahoney was, “From what I was told the
Mahoney shooting was an attempted suicide, so if you’re saying that my
client’s prints were there, well then it’s irrelevant considering that
they both did work for Cameron. For all we know they could’ve
been involved in some kind of work related exchange which could easily
place Grady at Kipp’s apartment.”
“Perhaps, but work doesn’t explain the set of prints we found on the
gun,” Sharpe divulged the detail that he’d been holding back on as
Avery’s jaw nearly dropped.
“What?” she blinked back in confusion trying to take in what Sharpe was
“That’s right,” Sharpe continued smugly, “your client’s prints were all
over that gun thus implicating him as the man who pulled the trigger
and tried to take Kipp Mahoney’s life from him. As it stands
we’re looking at attempted murder, but then again given that Mr.
Mahoney has up and disappeared from the hospital without a trace,
there’s no telling what’s happened to him. We could be looking at
murder if it turns out that Mr. Mahoney hasn’t made it out of the coma
he fell into when your client shot him in cold blood,” he finished
bringing about a silence through the group as things went from bad to
drastically worse for Grady in his current predicament.