Episode 99 

Cheryl and Elliot Denton entered the police station feeling their early morning coming to a less than perfect beginning as their humble awakenings had been overshadowed with the news that their eldest son had been arrested and in jail unable to be released.  Now as the couple searched the small lobby of the police station, they spotted Russell standing in the corner of the room, holding a Styrofoam cup in hand as his face was clouded with concern and doubts about the situation that had freshly fallen into the Denton family’s lap.
“Russ,” Elliot spoke out to his son beckoning Russell from his own lingering thoughts as Russell turned to discover his parents approaching before he tossed the nearly empty cup into the trash can beside him.
“Dad, I’m sorry I had to wake you like that,” Russ began to apologize as he looked to his mother seeing her obvious string of emotions from within, “Mom, I’m sorry I had to deliver news like this…”
“Son, it’s not your fault, although I can’t believe that the law would think that Grady would be capable of something so out of character as I know that he wouldn’t just up and shoot someone,” Elliot tried to make sense of the bits and pieces Russell had given him about Grady’s incarceration before he’d broken the disturbing news to Cheryl.  “Have you spoken with your brother?”
“No, I haven’t been in there as they weren’t letting him see anyone for a while,” Russell continued to further explain, “Avery’s trying to get more of the details there and try to make some progress with these trumped up charges against Grady, but so far she’s still going at bat for him with some idiot officer that decided to go a few rounds with her and I don’t know anything more than I did.  I was going to go tag along with Avery, but then Jade showed up and hey were finally letting Grady see a visitor…”
“How is she holding up,” Cheryl broke her silence, “Can she shed any light upon what’s going on more so than what we’ve been told?”
“All she’s said is pretty much what I told you both earlier.  Grady and Cameron Stone got into a physical dispute and then we’d just assumed that we could pick Grady up and get him out of here, but then well, then this happened…”
“I just don’t understand…” Cheryl began unable to contain the tears that pooled in her eyes.
“Sweetheart, we’ll get to the bottom of this,” Elliot promised her hoping that there would be some kind of answer that would save their son as he curled his arm around her protectively.
“Actually, I think I’m going to try to take another look for Avery again,” Russell cleared his throat hating to see his parents so torn up as he decided that he needed some air before the weight of the stress he’d been under had carried him down to a breaking point.
“Let us know if she’s heard anything son and we’ll be here when you find her,” Elliot suggested taking note of the exhaustion that remained evident in his son’s features.
“I promise I won’t be long,” Russell nodded turning to take off in the direction Avery had gone off with Lieutenant Sharpe earlier when the two had gotten into a very escalated discussion with one another.  Avery had demanded to speak with someone of a higher ranking than Sharpe, to which she was speaking with an officer who’d also been at their home right after Bruce had broken in and it seemed that Avery would likely get more answers that way.  Still, Russ wished he’d been there to have heard them himself, but when Jade showed up, he’d wanted to get a few words in with her to see if there was something he’d missed with Grady’s arrest.
Still as Russ found himself recalling the words that Jade had offered up to him, he couldn’t help but wonder why someone was trying so very hard to tear his family apart.  Something kept nagging in the pit of his stomach and now with this recent joke of a crime that the police were trying to pin on Grady, Russ was certain that his brother was a victim of some sort of setup that had Cameron Stone’s name written all over it. 
Now, if he could only prove that, he thought to himself as he spotted Avery up ahead.  She was alone near the end of a long, narrow hallway as she seemed to be lost in a world of her own thoughts unaware of Russell’s approach towards her.  Silently he reached out to touch her shoulder gently, causing her to let out a tiny squeal of surprise before she spun around to face him defensively.
“Russ, you scared the hell out of me,” she hissed back at him, her pulse racing with the moment as her dark eyes glared up at his features.
“I’m sorry about that,” he began to apologize as his fingers curled over her body, “I just saw you standing there and I couldn’t help, but reach out and touch you…”
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that,” she slid her arms around his waist unable to contain the simple gesture as she leaned into him, “but next time, just try to give me a little more warning than that, okay?”
“I promise I’ll do that,” he nodded tipping down to kiss the top of her head as he could feel the tightness in her body, clearly alerting him that there was nothing good or promising for her to share with him about his brother’s situation much to his dismay.  Letting out a sigh, he couldn’t help but question even though he was certain of the answer, “So how did it go?”
“Worse than I imagined,” Avery admitted openly thinking about all the things she’d uncovered in her time away from Russell, “Grady’s really in the hot seat right now and with the evidence the police have against him, well let’s just say that they have a pretty solid case they’re working with.”
“That wasn’t what I was hoping you’d say,” Russell frowned thinking about his brother’s current predicament.  “I was kind of hoping we’d be able to take him home and kick his ass for getting into trouble again.”
“Yeah, well that’s going to have to wait because now half the police department has him pegged as a would be killer,” Avery nibbled on her lower lip, her obvious apprehension flooding over her before she turned her eyes up to her husband once again.
“My brother’s not a would be killer,” Russell declared firmly, “I mean I know Grady’s got problems, but he doesn’t have that in him…”
“No, he doesn’t which is why I’m not buying into this whole scenario that’s been presented to me, although…” she stopped herself feeling an uneasy moment overcome her as she searched the hall.
“Avery, what is it,” he inquired sensing her hesitance as she turned her eyes up to his once again.
“Do you think maybe we can take a moment outside,” she suggested nervously feeling her throat go dry as Russell’s green eyes flashed with confusion.
“I suppose we could, but my parents are waiting in the lobby hoping to get some word on Grady and if there’s something they should know…” he started again as Avery cut him off abruptly.
“We can go talk to him in a few minutes, but right now I’d like to have just a couple words with you.  I think there are a few things we need to talk about here before I can face your parents or anyone else for that matter,” she sighed heavily her dark eyes pleading with him before Russell finally nodded.
“Okay, let’s go out in the courtyard,” Russ decided taking her hand in his and leading her out into the small, garden area that the community had put in near the civic center not long ago.  It had always seemingly been a place of comfort and beauty before this moment in time, but now as Russell stood in the morning air, his fingers laced with Avery’s as something clearly was bothering her beyond the mere fact that they’d spent the night at the police station trying to help Grady out, he found himself feeling less than settled to say the least.  He felt a tiny shiver race over him as he took note of the solemn expression on Avery’s features.  Reaching out to sweep a slightly fallen strand of her dark, tousled hair from her cheek, he couldn’t help but find himself drawn to her as it seemed in holding her he’d only then be able to obtain a sense of inner peace.  With her in his arms, it always did the trick to steal time away for a little moment or two even knowing that the things that troubled them were still lingering beyond him having his arms wrapped around her.
“I love you,” he whispered squeezing her gently in against his warm, hardened form as his need to be closer still with her overtook him.
“I love you too,” she murmured under her breath thinking of the strangeness of the moment as seconds earlier he’d seemed so lost, so compelled to stay miles away from her, yet once he’d held her, pulled her to him, the connection was stronger than ever as she tried to dismiss her strong discomfort about the situation with Grady for a moment or so.  “I really, really do Russ.”
“I know that sweetheart,” he nodded in confession sliding his hand up over the curve of her spine as a slight breeze rushed over them, “and I just thought I’d take a moment to tell you just how much you mean to me.”
“Funny how dire times bring about this between us,” Avery snuggled into him closing her eyes as she listened to the sounds of his heart beating in his chest, “I mean sure things are always great between us, but when things are tense, well…this is when I realize all over again just how much I love you and how you’re everything in this world to me…”
“That’s funny,” he couldn’t help but tease massaging the pads of his fingers over her body lovingly, “as I was just thinking the same thing about you.”
“I’m glad to see we’re on the same wavelength,” she offered up a sad smile unable to contain the tears that pooled in her eyes.
“Hey, baby, what’s wrong,” he questioned brushing his thumb against the hollow of her cheekbone as she took in a slow, calming breath.
“What isn’t,” she tossed back at him with a sad smile before shaking the thought, “but still that isn’t the issue at hand, is it?”
“No, it’s not, but hey you know things are bound to get better.  I mean they can’t get much worse, right,” he stated in a teasing tone before rethinking that statement, “well you know on second thought don’t answer that one.”
“I wasn’t planning to,” Avery confessed with another sigh, “although I think there’s something that you and I need to talk about where this case is headed with Grady as there’s something I think you should know about his relationship with Kipp Mahoney.”
“Avery, I’m sure that my brother didn’t know the guy too well as I’ve never heard Grady even mention him…” Russ began thinking about the man in question.
“I haven’t heard Grady mention him either, but truth be told, I’ve seen them interact with one another in the not so distant past and it was very violent,” Avery paused thinking back to the night that had nearly ruined her life.
“What?” he replied in confusion taking her words in, “When?”
“That night at the Ashford mansion…Grady and I were going at it.  He said a few things and then I said a few things and you know how he is where I’m concerned.  One thing lead to another and it got pretty heated in a really bad way until this guy stepped in and tried to help me.  He pushed Grady away and told him to back off, but when Grady didn’t they got into a physical sort of fist fight as the guy was trying to protect me and this guy was…” she began desperately.
“Kipp Mahoney,” he finished realizing where she was headed with this new information.
“It was really ugly Russ.  I was really afraid of what Grady was going to do as he was so angry with me and Kipp just stepped in trying to be a gentleman, but then…well things were said and they started beating on one another which I’m sure can account for some of the things that they might have against Grady here in terms of well if they’ve collected any DNA evidence from that night as there’s no telling what Grady’s got working against him…” Avery paused biting on her lower lip as a shudder passed by her, “but Russ, that anger was because of me.  It wasn’t directed at Kipp until he tried to help, but I still don’t believe that Grady tried to kill him.  Grady wouldn’t do that and as it stands only Grady, Kipp and I knew about that exchange as we were alone in the hallway when I was trying to reach you.  No one else saw it, but if the police start checking around that party--or with the security from the mansion that night as I’m sure Brant had the cameras running…” Avery paused hating what her implication could mean to Grady, “Russ, I just don’t want the wrong people to get their hands on something that could damn him.  I mean maybe Brant didn’t have anything going with the cameras, but if the district attorney continues to build a case against him, well if someone knows what I know…”
“Avery, that’s not going to happen and even if it did, I’m sure it can be explained as what they have against Grady isn’t concrete, right?” he inquired sensing a hesitance in her as she shifted on her feet.
“I’m not sure how far this can go, but the more that I think about it, the more I realize that there’s only one way I can make sure that I’m not going to have to say something about Grady that could hurt him,” Avery paused thinking about the weight of the decision she’d made a few short moments ago before Russell approached her, “and while I’m sure Grady’s going to absolutely hate it, I think it’s the only way I’m going to be able to help get him out of this.”
“What exactly do you have in mind,” Russell questioned seeing something spark behind her dark eyes as she took in another breath.
“I guarantee you’re going to think I’m crazy, but maybe it’s time I start using my voice in a more positive, more beneficial way for our family where it really counts,” Avery started to explain wondering if she truly had it in her to do the one thing that she was quite certain that Grady would hate every step of the way opting to wait until hell froze over before even listening to her wild suggestion, but as she thought of what the police were building against Grady, she realized that right now it may be his only option.

Jade stepped into the visiting room as two police officers led Grady inside. The officer led Grady to the table and set him down. The officer looked to Jade, “You have ten minutes.” The officer left the room, leaving Jade and Grady alone together.

Jade quickly moved to the table and leaned over to kiss him, “Are you okay?”

“I’ve been much better,” Grady admitted as he met her eyes, “How are you holding up?”

“I’m just worried about you,” She sighed, “What exactly are they thinking with this? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I don’t get it. I only met this Kipp guy briefly, and it wasn’t exactly a life altering meeting. Mostly, I just kind of remember brushing him aside so I could go after Avery,” He shrugged, “I don’t know. They said they have my fingerprints at the scene, but I don’t even know where this guy was supposed to be staying.”

“I don’t understand this,” She frowned, “What exactly happened at Stone Corp?”

“Jade,” Grady looked around to make sure no one could hear him as he motioned for her to lean forward. He lowered his voice as he whispered, “Cameron has pictures of you.”

“What? From where?” She asked in confusion.

“From years ago…when your father…well…when Ashford…” He stammered, not quite willing to speak the horror aloud.

“What?!” She shrieked in horror as she scrambled off the table and paced the room as her heart trembled in pain, “Oh god…”

“He threatened to sell them to a tabloid, and I lost my temper,” He explained, “That’s how I ended up here, but I still don’t quite understand where this murder charge came from.”

Jade wrapped her arms around herself as she nibbled her bottom lip, “I know where it came from. Cameron.”

Grady watched her carefully, “You don’t think he really has that much pull, do you?”

“Yeah, I do actually. I think he would do whatever he could to pull us apart, Grady,” She searched his eyes, “He’s threatened me to your face just to pull your strings, and he knew it would work because he knows that we love each other. He just wants to pull me away, and I don’t have the first clue why.”

“I’m not going to let him do that to us, Jade.”

“He already has done it, Grady. He has you in jail.”

“That’s just temporary. I’m getting out of here, Jade, and when I do, we’re going to find a way to keep Cameron from ever getting near you again.”

“I just wish I knew what his motivation was. Is he just some psychotic stalker? Is that what I’m dealing with? Or is he just a brat? Is he so used to getting his way that he doesn’t know when to take no for an answer? I just don’t understand him, and it scares me.”

“Jade, come here,” Grady urged her as he lifted his cuffed hands towards her. She moved to lean against the table and place her hands in his, “We’re going to push him out of our lives for good. We’ll find out what his problem is, and then we’ll make sure that he understands that he can never have you.”

“And if he finds a way to send you to prison for this? Then what, Grady? He’s playing hardball here, and I don’t know if we can afford to just stick this out.”

“Jade, don’t you let this bother you. We’ll work this out. I promise you that we can work this out.”

“But Grady…I don’t want you to go to prison,” She said tearfully, “Cameron’s a powerful and rich man. He can buy off whomever he wants, and you know that if he really wants this to happen, he’ll make sure you go to prison. Grady…”

“Shhh,” He urged her, “That’s never going to happen. I’m going to get out of here, and nothing Cameron can do will stop that.”

“Time’s up,” The officer spoke as he stepped into the room.

Grady looked to her, “Jade, you just hang in there. This is going to work out. I promise you that,” He said before the officer hauled him up from the chair, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Grady. Don’t forget that,” Jade spoke while the officer took Grady from the room. She sat there for a moment on the edge of the table and took a deep breath. She knew what she had to do, and while the thought damn near sickened her, she couldn’t let Grady go to prison because of her. She would have to do what she could to keep him from prison, and that meant selling her soul to the devil.


Seth pulled into the back entrance of the Ashford mansion thinking about the urgent tone in Blake’s voice when she’d left the voice mail message on his phone pleading with him to show up at the mansion by ten.  While he’d been in the shower at the time she’d called, the moment he’d heard the desperate tone in her voice, he’d rushed over to the mansion frantic to meet with her as he feared that something horrible had happened.  Even now as he hurried out of his car, up to the guest house that Blake had insisted they meet at, he couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to have her sounding so desperate.
“Blake,” he called out to her upon stepping up onto the front porch only to discover the front door opened a crack as his heart thudded in his chest.  Feeling a sudden sense of fear rush over him as he thought of the warnings Thea had thrown out to him earlier in the week, he pushed his way into the living room of the small guest house on the outskirts of the Ashford property only to discover Blake standing in the center of the small kitchen beside the stove, dressed in a pale pink floral print sundress with her hair curled around her shoulders while her simple white apron lay in contrast to her otherwise perfectly polished outfit. 
Upon hearing Seth’s arrival, Blake turned her attention away from the meal she was preparing for them as a smile upturned over her soft features and she beamed with enthusiasm, “Seth, you’re here and you’re early at that.”
“I heard your message and I was worried because you sounded so urgent and, well I just thought that something was wrong,” he offered up feeling his pulse quicken at the sight of her in an altogether different way than it had been when he’d entered the guest home thinking the worst.  Now as he took in the beauty before him, unable to believe that she was this excited to see him as she stepped away from the stove, bridging the distance between them before she slid her hands over his waist to squeeze him closer to him.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” Blake apologized with a brief, flicker of her eyelashes before she strengthened her hold upon him, “but I just wanted to get you over here before you went off and stuffed yourself on some quickie fast food fix as I wanted to surprise you with a good and hearty home cooked meal before we began our day together.”
“Hmm, well that does sound tempting,” Seth admitted bending down to steal a kiss from her lips, “but what’s the occasion?”
“You mean other than the fact that I love you so very much,” Blake questioned simply tickling her fingers over his rib cage before taking a step back and reaching for his hands, lacing their fingers in one another as she urged him to follow her towards the stove, “You’d be proud of me as I’ve even made dessert, although I’m sure you’re not very used to eating it around brunch time, but I’m certain you’d love it as it’s well, a good surprise…”
“I think that despite the shaky beginning that this day is turning out to be a wonderful surprise,” Seth noted watching her tend to the bacon before her as he couldn’t help but admire every perfect line of her as she attempted to do something special for him, “although I must say right about now I wish I’d known that you were planning something like this so that I could bring something for you.”
“I have all that I need with you right here beside me,” Blake curled her finger at him motioning for him to step in closer to her before she stole another quick kiss from his sensual lips, “although if you want to grab a couple of plates, I’m sure that I can let you do that while I finish up.”
“I’m sure I can handle that one sweetheart,” Seth promised seeking out a couple of place settings to take with him to the modest dining room before he peered out into the garden once again, a new idea forming inside of him.  Stealing another quick glance back into the kitchen where Blake was finishing up with their meal, he stepped out onto the patio, bringing the things he’d collected in the kitchen cabinet as he made his way to the small table set up on the patio. 
Opting to take advantage of the beautiful morning before him, Seth quickly threw something together on the patio for a romantic, intimate breakfast between them before taking a step back to admire his quick inspiration.  Still something seemed to be missing as he surveyed the area, spotting a single crimson color rose that stood out amongst the others as if it was begging for his attention and with that rose fresh in his mind, he stepped forward thinking that nothing would be more perfect or fitting than for that rose to be a token of his appreciation for Blake.
“There you are,” Blake’s voice rose from the background as she stepped out onto the patio taking note of what Seth had set up for them as her smile grew with the moment, “Oh Seth, what a wonderful idea.  I didn’t think about us coming out here, but this is perfect.”
“Not quite yet,” he admitted turning around to face her, offering up the single silken ruby colored flower in his left hand, “for you.”
“Oh Seth, I love it,” Blake practically squealed as she accepted the token of his affection eagerly throwing her arms around him in a quick movement.
“I love you,” Seth whispered nibbling on her lower lip as he held her in his arms, “I missed you last night you know.”
“I missed you too,” Blake confessed with a heavy sigh, “more than you can imagine as I realized when I got into bed that it was rather lonely without you.”
“It’s ironic that you say that because I was thinking the same thing when I finally made it home last night,” Seth admitted taking in the sweet scent of her exotic perfume as his arms kept her firmly beside him.
“Hmm, well then maybe it wouldn’t be so far off for me to guess that your dreams were similar to mine as I was imagining what it would be like to have you here just like this which is truthfully what inspired the phone call I made earlier,” Blake explained feeling his fingers skim gently over her shoulder, sending a shiver of anticipation and warmth over her body at the simple movement.
“In that case, I’m glad that I wasted no time in finding my way over to you,” he confessed drinking another intoxicating kiss from her pale pink strawberry flavored lips.
“So am I,” she murmured leisurely snuggling in beside him as they stood together on the Ashford patio, “although I must confess I did wonder how your meeting went since you’d mentioned you had something come up about a potential job.”
“Actually,” he sighed thinking about how he could open up the conversation about Thea’s latest demand upon him, “I was hoping we could have a few minutes to talk about that meeting.”
“Why do I suddenly not like the sound of this,” Blake frowned in response sensing his hesitance, “Seth, what is it?”
“How about we sit down and get started on breakfast?” he suggested trying to open up a segue to what they needed to discuss as he refused to keep her in the dark about what was happening his life especially after what had happened the last time they’d tried to make things work with deceptions lingering over them.
“Okay, but don’t think this is stopping our conversation,” she warned him as they both brought the meal out to the patio table.  Within a matter of minutes, they were seated across from one another and the silence surrounded them before Blake’s curious blue eyes returned to him once again.
“Well,” Blake questioned impatiently tapping her foot on the concrete blocks beneath the table.
“Well, I was approached by Cameron’s assistant Thea,” he began taking in a breath as he focused upon her, “She paid me a visit about the microfilm and about what Cameron might do to those I cared about now that I’ve failed him…”
“Oh Seth, I already told you that I’m working on something,” Blake started to remind him, “It should be to me in a few days and it’s got an authenticity about it that will have Cameron believing that my father had placed it there in an attempt to keep others seeking it out in the dark so to speak…”
“I get that, but still, Thea’s offered me a way out of the microfilm and she’s very adamant about my taking her up on it,” Seth stated plainly watching as a frown curled over her lips.
“And just what did she have in mind,” Blake huffed already not liking anything Cameron’s assistant might have lined up for Seth.
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” he reached across the table top to take her hand in his as he tried to convey the sincerity in his tone, “as it seems that Cameron’s taken a bride and Thea’s rather jealous from the looks of things.”
“Whoa, back up a second.  Are you telling me Cameron married some poor, stupid woman and now his psychotic assistant is feeling green with envy and wants you to…well, what does she want out of you,” she questioned in confusion.
“She wants me to work for his wife’s company and keep an eye on her,” Seth shrugged his shoulders as he took a bite of the food Blake provided him with, “Oh this is good…”
“Thank you,” Blake nodded in appreciation, “but what about Cameron’s wife?  I mean why do you have to work for her?”
“She’s opening up a modeling agency of sorts in town and Thea threw in my references as a photographer.  All I have to do is keep an eye on things and if Cameron’s wife isn’t on the up and up with him, well I’m supposed to tell Thea…” Seth continued thinking to what was now pressed upon him.
“So you’re a spy for Thea now?  What about Cameron and the microfilm?  How does this help us out of the situation?”
“Well, I figure if I do what Thea’s requesting in working at the agency for a short time, then we can have just enough leverage where Cameron is concerned to wait for the copy that you’re having made.  I can stick around his wife’s agency long enough to pacify Thea so that she keeps Cameron from doing something horrible and then, well then we can give him the microfilm and hope that he backs off.”
“But you don’t think that’s possible, do you,” she searched his eyes sensing something more about what had happened as a darkness clouded over his otherwise handsome features, “Seth, what aren’t you telling me?”
“Blake, there’s no easy way to say this, but before I went on that interview, well Thea confronted me about what I haven’t been producing where Cameron is concerned and she threw back some pictures of Jade in my face ready to take them public if I refused to comply…” Seth started to explain feeling a shudder pass over him.
“That bitch,” Blake spat out feeling her anger boil, “How dare she sit there and exploit your sister like that?  I mean it’s bad enough that a monster like Cameron would threaten something like that, but for a woman to dare to be so hurtful and cruel…”
“Blake, there’s more,” he interrupted feeling his throat go dry, “as there’s no easy way to put this than to just tell you straight out.  Thea’s had someone following us…”
“What,” she blinked back in surprise, “Seth, are you saying that someone’s been watching us?”
“I wish it wasn’t true, but the other night when we were here together…” Seth started uneasy with the news he’d delivered to her.
“Wait a second,” Blake turned a pale shade of white, “You mean someone was watching us when we…”
Seth nodded shamefully suddenly rethinking the notion to have breakfast out on the patio as he searched around the property seeking out anyone who might be watching them.
“Those evil, horrible, sick and twisted monsters,” Blake growled as her anger boiled and she followed the movement of Seth’s eyes over her property, “Are they here now?  Is someone watching us?”
“I don’t see anyone, but the other night someone was around and they took pictures,” he added bracing himself for her reaction.
“They what…” her jaw dropped as the horror of the situation filled a sick feeling in a pit of her stomach to have had something so beautiful and private trespassed upon by someone so vile.  “How dare they!”
“Blake, if I’d known that someone was following us…” he started to apologize, “If I even thought for a second…”
“You couldn’t know,” Blake decided as a scowl pressed over her otherwise flawless features, “and beside that now this is personal.  Not that it wasn’t before with Jade, but for someone to keep trying to get at us, well this means war.”
“Blake, she has pictures of us together and she threatened me that if I didn’t go take the job with Cameron’s wife that well, that she’d make them the front page story,” he continued worry evident in his tone.
“Wait a second.  Now she’s planning on giving the world a peep show of our private time together.  Okay, now that so pisses me off,” Blake brewed over with rage as she slammed her fist on the table top, “That’s so not happening.”
“I know it’s not which is why I went on the interview and I was hired by Cameron’s wife and from the looks of things it won’t be a problem for us, but still I thought you had a right to know what was going on since I didn’t want for us to have any secrets…” Seth started to offer up his reasoning for sharing the truth with her.
“I’m glad that you told me Seth as it’s obviously a sign that we have been going about this the wrong way, but I think I know a way that we can keep Cameron or that bitch that works for him from trying to throw out another shocker upon us,” Blake decided firmly eyeing the gardens as she clenched her fists at her sides ready to address the phantom strangers who could be out there watching him, “Fine, you want a story.  I’ll give you a story.  I’m not ashamed of what I feel for Seth.  I don’t care what you try to do because despite your sick and perverse pleasure you’re getting off of playing games, I’m not intimidated by what you’ve done…”
“Blake, wait,” Seth rose from his chair watching her ready to march out into the garden and beat the life out of anyone who dared to be around them during this moment in time.
“No Seth, I’m tired of this.  I’m tired of people trying to manipulate my life and quite honestly I’m sick of all the bull that comes my way because of who I am.  I’m fed up with people who think they are entitled to invade my privacy and bully my family around just because we’re Ashfords.”
“Blake, this isn’t why I told you about Thea.  I didn’t want to upset you, but more so I wanted to keep you informed…” Seth started once again.
“Oh I’m informed alright and the truth to the matter is that if she’s going to try to take our making love and make it front page news, then I’m sure as hell going to give back what she’s trying to give,” Blake insisted urgently, “I’m not about to let anyone walk over me ever again.  It’s not going to happen!”
“Blake, I already told you that when I took that job with Cameron’s wife, that it’ll keep Thea at bay so that no one will ever see those photos…” Seth began trying to calm her down as her anger seemed to grow with every passing moment.
“No, that’s not a good enough solution,” she insisted firmly before facing him once again, “In fact the way I see it, I’m not going to give Cameron or anyone that works for them the satisfaction to exploit my relationships like that especially when it’s my place to share with the world what I have going on in my life.”
“Blake, I’m sure that we can find a way to fix this,” Seth started reaching out to touch her shoulder.
“Oh I know we can,” she nodded emphatically as an idea formed in her head, “as I am an Ashford after all and we have our own ways of dealing with the press when they try to get a story that is deemed juicy…”
“Why do I suddenly have a bad feeling about this one,” Seth frowned unable to read what was going on behind Blake’s eyes as she seemed to be taking the news he’d given her and putting a spin upon them that seemingly took on a life of it’s own.
“Trust me,” she urged him on reaching for his hand, “as this will be even better than I thought, although hopefully you won’t be super camera shy today like you were at the studio,” she paused a blush rising over her features as she stepped away from him heading back towards the guest house with a determined stride, “well at least before things got heated up…”
“Blake, what do you have in mind,” Seth chased after her sensing trouble was brewing behind those beautiful blue eyes of hers.
“If the press wants a steamy exclusive and the inside word on the fact that I’ve grown up, then so be it,” she announced boldly tossing her hair back over her shoulder before flashing him a sexy smile, “You did bring your camera, right?”
“Of course as I thought we were working on the Bella Vogue shoot later, but…” Seth began at a loss watching her lick her lips as she threw out a sultry expression, her hand bunching up the fabric at the center of his chest as she pulled him towards her in a demanding fashion.
“But it seems that our photo shoot has taken on a new direction as I’m about to give the media a story that will have them salivating for months on end along with my being able to take away what little blackmail Thea has about us that she’s trying to throw upon you,” she promised confidently as trouble clearly sparked behind her eyes and Seth wondered just what in the world Blake had in mind for them as it seemed she was suddenly filled with a whole, new sense of enigmatic inspiration.


Shannon walked through the hospital hallway as she looked for Deidra Byrne. She’d decided to introduce herself this morning so that Deidra would know that she wasn’t alone. Shannon wanted to help Dave’s friend and perhaps in the process catch the serial killer no one seemed to be able to pinpoint.

Shannon walked around the corner and lightly knocked upon the door of Deidra’s office. When she heard the invitation from inside, Shannon opened the door, “Deidra Byrne?”

“Yes,” Deidra spoke as she looked up from the papers in front of her, “Can I help you?”

“Actually I’m hoping I can help you,” Shannon stepped inside and closed the door behind her, “I’m Shannon Pryce. Dave sent me to look after you.”

“Ms. Pryce,” Deidra stood and extended her hand to the agent, “Thank you.”

“Please, call me Shannon. I’m going to be your shadow, and I hope that maybe we’ll even become friends. I hate that it’s under these kind of circumstances, but perhaps we can make the best of it.”

“I hate that you’re having to give up your time to follow me around,” Deidra sighed, “Please have a seat,” She offered before she sat back at her desk.

“When Dave came to me, he said that you were having a tough time with this. I can understand that, and I hope that this doesn’t take up much of your life. If Mathis tries to get anywhere near you while I’m around, we’ll nail him to the wall. I promise you that.”

“Thank you,” Deidra smiled, “I don’t understand why Dave asked you to do this.”

“I was on the Mathis case until I pissed off the Ashfords,” Shannon sighed, “And I stepped on a few toes over at the Morrison camp. I don’t mind pushing the rich and famous if it means getting me closer to catching a psychotic killer. That’s why I was booted off the case. Dave came to me because he knows I want to bust Mathis more than anyone. He also knows that I’m dedicated to my job, and I won’t back down for anything.”

“That’s good to hear,” Deidra smiled with a sigh, “So is there anything I can do to help you? Or maybe something I can do for you in return?”

“I’ll just kind of need a schedule of your day. I think I’ll walk up and down the halls regularly to check anything suspicious. I’ll be close enough all day that if you need me all you have to do is call out my name.”

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this, Shannon. I’ll have to do something for you in the future. If there’s ever anything I can do for you, all you have to do is ask,” Deidra smiled.

“I’ll remember that,” Shannon stood and extended her hand to Deidra for a gentle shake, “In the meantime, don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll do everything I can to keep you safe.”

“Thank you, Shannon, and I have faith in you,” Deidra smiled as Shannon walked out of the office. Deidra looked around the room and spotted the flowers that Dave had sent the day before. She smiled softly as she thought of all that he’d done for her, and she was already planning something special to repay him for his kindness. She only hoped that Bruce Mathis wouldn’t find a way to devastate her life.


“Hey, Jen, slow down,” Hart urged her on as he chased her into the police station knowing full well that she’s continue to ignore his words as her thoughts about her brother took precedence in the moment.  Finally finding it in him to catch up to her, Hart reached out to her arm stopping her mid-movement, “Jenna, hold on a second.”
“Hart, I need to know what’s happening.  When that idiot Sharpe called the apartment you heard how smug he was being about things.  He was evasive and creepy and if he’s being on the up and up about them finding a lead in my brother’s kidnapping, well I want to hear it.  I mean sure I might not know Kipp like I could’ve done had I known about him earlier, but I always wondered if he was really capable of trying to kill himself like the papers said he had done.  That seemed like something of a sore spot and now, well and now that the police are saying that he was a victim of some kind of foul play that‘s carrying over into his kidnapping…”
“Jen, I know you want to think the best and I’m all for that here as I want there to be some kind of lead in this case, but just remember that it was Sharpe that called us which while it could be that he’s doing his job, he might be trying to work an angle,” Hart pointed out thinking to the bad blood between Jenna and Patrick as a brief, flicker of guilt pressed over him for him ever having associated with a lowlife like Patrick in the past.
“I realize that and if that’s really what this is all about, then well, then I’ll ask now if you wouldn’t mind being there to represent me when I assault him again because considering the circumstances, you know I’ll do it if he’s just trying to screw with my head.”
“I’m fully aware of that which is why I think it’s best if you let me help you with this one.  That way we can get answers without causing any kind of situation that we might live to regret later,” Hart explained simply, taking in a slow breath as he prepared himself for whatever breakthroughs might be there in the case of her brother’s disappearance.
“To hell with not creating a situation,” she argued with him, “If someone knows something about my brother and they’re not being on the up and up about me about it, then heads are going to roll.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” a voice piped in as Jenna turned her eyes to see Douglas standing before her dressed in a simple navy colored suit as his face was a mask of concern, eagerness and tension that Jenna could clearly read as he seemingly carried the same emotions she’d been holding with her from the moment she’d received the phone call from Patrick urging her to come down to the station.  As if Douglas sensed her own need for answers, he approached her offering out his arm to her, “We’ll find a way to learn what’s happened to your brother Jenna.”
“Stay away from me,” she hissed at him taking a step out of his reach as her eyes darkened with anger.
“Jenna,” he blinked back in confusion dropping his arm down to his side as a frown shadowed over his features.  He took another step closer to her watching as Hart pushed himself between them, “we really should talk.”
“I have nothing to say to you,” she answered sharply, clenching her fists at her side, “as you said it all the other night when you were out with that woman.  I think that speaks for itself seeing as you’ve taken to sleeping with the enemy.”
“Thea isn’t the enemy and if you’d give me a chance to explain,” Douglas sighed trying to think up some way to express his intentions to his daughter.
“Oh spare me,” she rolled her eyes, “the mere fact that she works for Cameron Stone speaks for itself.  Then throw in the knowledge that you were all over her the other night for this town to see, well that says it all.”
“My relationship with Thea has nothing to do with our relationship Jenna,” he strained to reach out to her again as she stood taller, glaring at him stubbornly.
“The hell it doesn’t,” she shot back sourly, “as I wouldn’t be surprised if your relationship with Cameron’s assistant had everything to do with my brother’s kidnapping seeing as that man is a known murderer and anyone who has worked for him is nothing short of pure evil.”
“Thea’s not evil,” Douglas began with a frown, “and if you’d give me a moment…”
“Oh I think I’ve given you more than what you’ve deserved Douglas,” she snapped back at him unable to contain the anger that brewed inside of her, “I know all about the kind of man you are and I just thank God that my mother had enough good sense to get me away from you before I turned out like Kipp--a mere victim of circumstance seeing as you like to take a risk in being around those who cause nothing but disaster.”
“Now you listen here Jenna,” Doug’s voice rose with the moment as he’d had enough of his daughter’s stubborn side, “you know nothing about the world I’ve lived in, nor do you know anything about the women I take to spending my time with, but even if you did have a concern about who I am keeping company with, it’s none of your business.”
“Oh of course not seeing as I’m only your daughter,” she rolled her eyes before glaring at him, “a daughter that you’d just discard for the sake of a good roll in the hay with someone who is connected to a man that no doubt has taken my brother away from us.”
“There’s no proof that Cameron could’ve done that considering that…” Doug started unable to believe the words the fell from his lips as he thought of the raw hatred Cameron had for him.
“Right, and I’m the Easter Bunny,” Jenna huffed back at him, “Hey you know, since you’re all up on Cameron’s assistant, why don’t you ask her about my friend Maria Sanchez and see if perhaps Cameron was the one who drove that car that ran her over, or if the lovely Thea did it seeing as reports spoke of a woman in the car at the time my pregnant friend was killed in a hit and run…”
“Jenna, I really don’t think this is the appropriate time or place for us to be doing this considering that right now we have your brother to think about,” Douglas charged in response watching as her eyes grew wild with rage.
“Oh I’m thinking about Kipp and I swear to you once I find out where he’s at, I’m going to bring him home and make sure that he’s never touched by you or your girlfriend’s connections ever again as I wouldn‘t wish that kind of fate upon anyone to have been stuck with you for so long,” Jenna declared boldly as Hart reached out to her trying to stop her from going too far with her anger.
“Jenna, stop.  Now isn’t the time for this,” Hart pleaded with her, turning her away from Douglas as he held onto her.
“No, I’m not going to stop.  I’m not going to stand back and listen to him spout out another lie to me about how much his family means to him when he’s sleeping with someone who thrives on hurting others,” Jenna argued with him, “It’s not right and I’m not about to let him or his associates take my brother away from me again…”
“Jenna, for all we know the police haven’t found Kipp as they are clearly inept,” Douglas remarked making a bold move towards her as he refused to be ignored, “as I was told that your brother’s would be murderer is in custody.”
“What?” Jenna turned to look up at Doug.
“That’s right.  Apparently while you’d like to launch your verbal assault on me about how horrible of a father I am, it would seem that your brother’s shooting was an attempted murder that had absolutely nothing to do with Cameron,” Doug pointed out bluntly, “as it seems that a man here in Coral Valley that you’ve known for quite some time I’d imagine was the one who shot your brother.”
“I don’t buy that for a second,” Jenna shook her head at his words, “If anyone shot Kipp, then Cameron was behind it.  There’s no way anyone I’ve spent time with would have done such a horrible thing…”
“See now there you’re wrong because Grady Denton, your best friend’s brother-in-law, was the one who tried to take your brother from the world, not me,” Douglas informed her pointedly as he stood before her, “and when you’re ready to grow up and see that things aren’t always as they seem, then maybe we can work on coming together as we always should’ve as a family because.  Maybe by then you’ll be willing to accept me as I am instead of playing these childish games and having tantrums about the woman I’m dating.  Maybe you’ll realize that while you’re my daughter, I’m the parent here and it’s time you honor and respect that.”
“As far as I’m concerned, my father died in that plane crash a long time ago as my mother told me he did because you‘re nothing to me Doug--nothing,” Jenna replied spinning on her heel in search of answers about what happened to Kipp as she left Hart and Douglas dumbfounded in the police station lobby watching her retreat.
As Hart turned to look at Douglas, he saw something pass over the otherwise stoic man’s features that could clearly be a hint of a wounded expression, but right now wasn’t about helping Douglas deal with his issues as if what Douglas was saying about Grady was true, then there was a whole lot more going on in Coral Valley than met the eye and Hart needed to find out some more information himself.  With that thought in mind, Hart began to chase after Jenna only to be stopped by Douglas mid-movement.
“Hart, wait a second,” Douglas began his voice shaky with emotion, “I’d like to have a word with you about this--about Jenna.”
“I really don’t think that now is the time,” Hart started to argue with him.
“Perhaps if you could help put in a word with her about me--maybe let her know that I do love her and that I didn’t mean to lose my temper just now…” Douglas began again his voice growing more shaky by the moment.
“You know Doug, if you really want to find yourself back in Jenna’s good graces, a nice starting point would be no to tell her she’s wrong.  That doesn’t fly with her too well--trust me as I’m an expert on this one,” Hart offered up in suggestion, “and beyond that, maybe you should listen to what she’s telling you about your girlfriend.  She might be onto something there especially if you’re opting to spend time with those citizens in town who are hell bent on destruction…”
“There’s really no way around avoiding Cameron and I was trying to tell her that, but…” Douglas started once again.
“Take it up with Jenna, but not today,” Hart replied quickly taking another look in the direction Jenna had taken off in before doing the same as Douglas stood alone at long last pondering what it would take to find a way back into his daughter’s good graces once again.


Dave followed Cameron’s butler into a study to await Cameron’s arrival. While detectives had explained to Dave what had happened at the Stone Corp offices, he’d wanted to speak with Cameron himself.
Things just weren’t making sense to him. He knew Grady had a temper, but for him to attack a client…well, there had to be a very good reason behind it. And just a disagreement about their case wasn’t a good enough reason for him.

“Chief Warner,” Cameron spoke as he stepped into the room.

Dave turned to look at the victim of the crime he was investigating. Cameron definitely had a busted lip and black eye, but Dave wondered if there weren’t somehow deserved as he spoke, “Mr. Stone, I just came by to ask you a few questions about the assault.”

“A horrible situation,” Cameron frowned as he made his way to the sofa, “Please have a seat, Chief.”

“What brought on the attack? I mean what were the circumstances leading up to the attack?”

“Grady charged into my office and argued with me about quitting my case. I didn’t want to release him from his responsibilities as my attorney, and for some reason, that offended him. He just erupted in anger and attacked me,” Cameron shrugged.

“Did he say why he wanted to quit being your attorney?”

“I’d rather not discuss that. It’s a private matter concerning the case.”

“Look, Mr. Stone, if you want us to do our job in prosecuting Grady Denton, you’re going to have to tell us everything we need to know.”

“I am telling you what you need to know,” Cameron spoke, “I’m not trying to be difficult, Chief Warner. It’s just that there are aspects of the case that shouldn’t be public before trial. I’m afraid one of those was involved in our argument, and I’m not comfortable sharing them.”

“So let me get this straight. You still want us to pursue a case against him while you want to keep aspects of the argument quiet with your lawsuit,” Dave shook his head, “I don’t see how we can do our jobs adequately with you keeping secrets from us.”

“I assure you that I would do whatever I could if it wouldn’t endanger my lawsuit. Some things are more important than others, Chief Warner.”

Dave frowned, “I have to tell you that I’ve known Grady Denton for years. It’s not like him to loose his temper so easily.”

“I was quite surprised by his reaction as well, but I do know that he’s been going through a lot lately.”

Dave nodded, “He’s not going to receive bail due to another charge against him…the attempted murder of Kipp Mahoney.”

“What?” Cameron acted concerned, “What are you talking about?”

“His fingerprints were found at the scene. He’ll be in custody until a preliminary hearing can be held.”

“I…I had no idea,” Cameron stammered, “I suppose Doug has been told.”

Dave nodded, “He’s been notified and will be at the station shortly.”

“I should be there too. We are family after all. If you’ll excuse me,” Cameron hurried out of the room.

Dave stepped to the doorway as he watched Cameron rush up the stairs. This still didn’t make sense to him, and he wasn’t going to give up until he got to the bottom of this situation.


“Sal, I’d like you to meet Seth.  Seth, this is Sal, the photographer I was telling you about,” Blake introduced Seth to the petite man before them as they stood outside the Ashford stables feeling the effects of the morning’s sun upon them as Blake seemed to bursting from within at the thought of her latest ‘brilliant notion’ as she’d put it.  However, as Seth stood beside her clad in jeans and a white t-shirt ready to submit himself to Blake’s so called spark of genius he had his own doubts about the situation.
“It’s great to meet you Seth,” Sal offered up his hand, as a crooked grin spread over his unshaven features, “as we’re always eager at the magazine to get a good look at the latest Ashford interest…”
“I’m sure you are,” Seth replied with a polite smile before raising his finger and taking a step back, “Would you excuse us for a moment?”
“Oh of course,” Sal nodded eagerly motioning to the bags of equipment he’d brought with him over to the mansion, “I have to set up anyways.”
“Great, you might want to do it over there as I think that the best place for the shoot would be right over there,” Blake motioned to a small clearing just next to the stables before she turned to Seth, following him away from the tabloid photographer.
“Blake, I’m not so sure about this,” Seth began to voice his concerns watching as she ran her fingers over the sides of her faded blue jeans that she’d changed into upon opting to take on a more casual air for what she had in mind with the last minute photo shoot she‘d scheduled.
“What aren’t you sure about,” Blake questioned in confusion, “The way I see it, we’ve got a head start on the obvious and with Sal here, well we’ll certainly be making some headlines in such a way that anything Thea or Cameron have on us, will pale in comparison when it comes to shock value.”
“Blake, I get what you’re trying to say, but inviting a photographer from the Inside Track to your home to photograph us,” he spoke up hesitantly, “well, it just leaves an unsettling kind of feeling here with me…”
“Why?” she curled her lip in a pout, bringing her perfectly manicured nails over the center of his chest, “I don’t see anything wrong with us letting the world know that you’re mine and I’m yours.  This way we get to be the ones to break the news to the world instead of our having someone else do it for us…”
“Yes, I understand that, but with the tabloids getting involved…” he frowned again.
“I called Sal because I know he’s not going to throw some super sleazy spin on it.  He’s been here a few times in the past when Brant wanted to start a bit of a media uproar and he’s on the up and up with his imagery.  He‘s no where near as talented as you are, but since I want you in these with me, he‘s going to have to do for the morning,” Blake continued to defend her actions as she leaned up into his body, brushing against him, “Besides, the world wants to know about the man who captured my heart and I think it’s about time that we let them know exactly who you are and just how much I love you…”
“Blake, I’m not really into the whole public profile thing.  I mean I know that you’re used to it, but to invite the media into our lives, to follow us around like this--even for a day, well it just seems like we’re asking for trouble,” he started to reason once again.
“Asking for trouble would be letting Cameron and his goons place X-rated pictures of us up in the tabloids without the world getting the real story about us.  I don’t want to read anything on how I’m following in Brant’s footsteps or how you’re the flavor of the moment.  I want the world to know that you’re my guy and that if and when Cameron tries to use any kind of photos against us that they won’t phase us other than my suing him for all he’s worth for invasion of privacy, but still.  Seth, I’m serious about us and I think it’s time that the world knows it…”
“And what about Zack,” Seth questioned watching a flicker of reaction behind her eyes, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Blake, if you go through with this photo shoot and let the world see that we’re together now, Zack is included in that world.  He’s bound to catch wind of the tabloid and then what?”
“That’s his problem,” she replied quickly, almost too quickly as Seth frowned.
“I don’t buy that for a second, Blake.  I know that you have feelings for Zack still and this doesn’t have to be the way that you try to force yourself to pretend you don’t.  You don’t need to flaunt us off to every media hound out there in the name of proving that you care about me.  I know that you care about me--that you love me and I love you too.  Sweetheart, you mean more to me than I’ve ever allowed anyone to be in my life and I know that you love me, but I also know that you’re hurting about what’s happened with Zack.  I mean, sure I could lie and live in a state of denial pretending that I’m unaware of how torn up you are about him, but then I’d only be hurting us both by it.  Blake, honey I don’t want you to do this because you’re trying to prove something to me, to Cameron or anyone else.  What we have is special and it doesn’t need to be shared with the rest of the world unless it’s truly what you want…” he reached out to touch her face gently seeing a mixture of emotions running behind her blue eyes.
“Seth Alexander, if you know nothing else about me, then you should be aware of the fact that when I want something I go after it.  If I didn’t want to be here with you doing this, then we never would’ve been here like this with this photo shoot.  I called Sal here today not because of Cameron--at least not entirely and not because of Zack.  I mean sure, yes there are some majorly frustrating issues that have come from what I shared with Zack, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about you.  Seth, I love you and I want you to know that isn’t just going to fade away in the blink of an eye.  I’m ready to quit hiding from what we have with one another and I know this might feel like it’s an extreme, but I have no qualms about sharing what’s in my heart with anyone who is interested in hearing about it,” she slid her arms around his waist pressing flush up against him as she lowered her voice to a sultry, sexy tone, “as I want the world to know all about the man who saved my life and taught me how to love again after I’d closed myself off from the world.  I want everyone to know that for the first time in a long time I’m happy again and that you’re the reason for that happiness.  You make me feel like the woman I’ve always wanted to be and this photo shoot as silly as it seems, well, it’s about us--about where we are with one another and where we’re going…”
“Blake, there are so many other ways to do that,” Seth began to urge her again as she tipped up on her toes to steal a quick kiss from him before he could protest any further.
“I’m not really concerned with any of those right now,” Blake whispered against his lips, “as all I can think about is how great this is going to be now that I can finally be myself and keep from hiding what’s in my heart.  Plus, I thought this might be a great segue into the whole Bella Vogue piece as well.  We can work in a little about us and where I’m going in my life now that I’ve decided that I’m going to make some very big changes here starting with finding love at long last.”
“Changes,” Seth repeated watching as her grin seemed to grow with the moment.
“That’s right,” she nodded in confession, “Last night I was thinking about a lot of things--about everything actually and it got me thinking about the direction I was taking with my life.  I found that I’d only been making a mess of my life--that I was kind of coasting doing as little as possible to get by and I was using my Ashford status to pretty much keep me from committing to anything.  Granted, there was a bit more to it than I’ll get into right now seeing as I’m sure Sal is almost ready for us, but the truth to the matter is that I was hit by a whisper of inspiration that turned into a full blown need that I have to run with.  I was going to tell you over breakfast this morning, but well, one thing lead to another and here we are…”
“So we are,” Seth nodded in response curling his arms around her, “though if there’s something you want to say, then I’m all about listening to what you have on your mind.”
“Well, I was actually thinking about what I’m good at--other than spending money of course,” she couldn’t help but tease with a tiny giggle at her own words, “and the truth to the matter is that I have a lot of talents and taste and I’ve been idle for so very long doing nothing that I’d like to work on changing that.  After the other night when we were at that play, well I got to thinking about all those people out there who need someone to be there for them--to have something to keep them busy and enjoying life rather than always feeling the brunt of the misery that can overtake them which is why I got to thinking about opening up some kind of community center.  I mean sure I know I’m not really on the up and up with the whole business side of things when it comes to finding somewhere to start everything up, but I’m sure with the help of Brant, Kenny, Caitlin, you and some others, well I’m sure we can put something together to help those who are less fortunate than I’ve been.  I thought that maybe we could even enlist Jade’s help since I’m sure she could bring a lot to the table with her experience and how she’s overcome so many horrible disasters in her life.  Granted, she wouldn’t have to share those moments with anyone if she didn’t want to, but maybe if she wanted to take control of that nightmare and show that it couldn’t take her down that she could find a way to empower other women who have been through similar situations.  That way we all could kind of work on healing the hurts that have carried over us and lead our lives for years on end.  As for this photo shoot, well with what the magazine is offering for the exclusive on my romantic life, well I figured it would make a great down payment on maybe a theater we could put into the place I had in mind there so that more little Samanthas of the world could be able to show off their talents to the rest of the world.  You probably think that I sound silly, don’t you?”
“No, not at all,” Seth shook his head at her finding himself completely surprised by her words as he reached out to touch her cheek tenderly, “I just…well, I guess I never thought that you’d have something like that in mind considering.”
“Yeah well you know I can surprise people every now and then,” she flashed him a hint of a teasing grin, “and besides I did go to UCLA to get somewhere with my life.  Right now as it stands my psychology degree is just collecting dust and I’d really like to work on changing that as I’ve been far too self absorbed lately to really do anything beneficial to anyone…including those I love.”
“Now I wouldn’t go that far Blake as I think you’re an incredible woman,” Seth teased his fingers into her blonde hair holding her closer to him as the warmth of the sun spilt over them from above.  “I happen to find you quite sensational truth be told.”
“Yeah well, I’d like to work on making you think more than that of me and along the way,” she dipped her fingers in underneath the back of his loose fitting t-shirt to gain an intimate connection with his spine as she stole another kiss from him, “well I’d like to work on showing you just how committed I am to us and to our future with one another…”
“I know you’re trying Blake and I love you,” he whispered just over her lips, “more than you’ll ever know.”
“I love you Seth.  I love you so very much,” she breathed in response revealing her heart to him more and more with each passing second as she vowed that this photo shoot with him would be the beginning of a new page in her history, she reasoned as she broke away from the kiss she and Seth were sharing, “So, how about we get to that photo shoot as I’m sure the sooner we finish, the sooner we can start working on bringing some happiness to those who desperately need it.”
“Since you put it that way,” he replied with a sexy smile, “I’m all yours.”
“Just the way I like it,” Blake squealed clenching up some of his t-shirt in her hand before leading him towards Sal as she prepared to immerse herself in the moment knocking down those working against her in the process.  Starting today she was going to work on turning her life around in all the ways she’d avoided for years and with her newfound approach on life, she promised herself that she wasn’t about to let anyone steal her happiness away from her again as she would find a way to be one up on her enemies and be one step ahead of the game because she was an Ashford after all and that had to count for something.


Russell paced around the small room wondering what was going on as Avery was off to put her latest plan in action.  While Russ had his doubts about his brother’s receptiveness to what Avery was about to suggest, Russ himself had to admit that it may prove to be a plus for Grady should Grady put aside his pride long enough to hear what Avery was telling him.  Just the mere thought of Grady being behind bars for what happened caused a chill to carry over Russell as he began to wonder who it was exactly that was trying to sabotage his family.  Certainly things weren’t adding up and starting from Bruce’s threat leading to Grady’s arrest, there was something dark and twisted at work--something that Russell was convinced tied back to someone with means and motive for wanting to keep the Denton family away from something big.  His gut instincts were telling him that the key to ending this madness was in finding out who was supplying Bruce Mathis with the finances he’d used to evade capture, but right now following up on those instincts wasn’t going to happen as he had to wait and see what would happen with Avery and Grady.  Still, he couldn’t help but ponder what nefarious forces were aligning outside of the Coral Valley police station to bring doom and misery upon the Denton family.
“Russ,” Jenna’s voice broke through his thoughts bringing him back to the reality of the moment as she rushed over to him, “I was hoping I’d find you here as I wanted to know what‘s going on with Grady.”
“It‘s not good Jen,” Russell frowned in response, “as the police tend to think he’s responsible for this shooting, but I’m not seeing it considering that he hardly knew this guy they’re saying he attacked…”
“The guy is my brother,” Jenna explained simply watching the surprise register over Russell’s features as Jenna came to a realization, “Avery, didn’t mention that to you, did she?”
“No, I guess it never came up,” he admitted dumbfounded by what she’d confessed, “Things have been really tense for us lately with Bruce running around and…Jen, how did you find out that you and Kipp Mahoney are related?”
“My father’s is Douglas Mahoney,” she paused feeling her stomach tied in knots at the very thought of that truth, “at least according to biology, but I didn’t know it until after Kipp was shot.  I never actually got a chance to meet Kipp before well, before he was in a coma, but now he’s gone missing and the FBI believes he was kidnapped by someone that wanted to keep the truth about his shooting a secret.  The police are trying to spin a new version on that tale saying that Grady was the one who had Kipp taken out of town, but…”
“But I don’t buy that.  My brother barely has enough money to make ends meet on most occasions.  I mean yeah sure, he’s a lawyer with a successful practice, but for the most part that money goes into a mortgage and the house, not into making people disappear,” Russell frowned in response thinking about the ridiculous tales being spun about Grady.
“I didn’t believe it either Russ and to be honest with you, I don’t think Grady had anything to do with Kipp’s shooting.  I know the police are trying to say that Grady’s prints were at Kipp’s apartment and on the gun that shot Kipp, but something about that doesn’t add up,” Jenna continued thinking to what the police had informed her and Hart of after she’d raced away from her father, “Your brother might have some serious anger issues, but he’s clearly incapable of murder…well, unless the victim was Susan because that’s the only way I would’ve thought he might’ve been capable and that’s because he had a moment of temporary insanity.”
“Yeah well funny that you mention Susan because she’s back in town,” Russell replied sourly as a thought occurred to him, “and she has your brother’s job with Stone Corp now that I think about it.”
“She does,” Jenna’s eyes widened in surprise, “well, now I suppose that shouldn’t shock me considering what a witch she is…”
“Even so, it does seem a bit odd that your brother got hurt and then Susan shows up to step right in beside Cameron and now Grady’s being blamed for this,” he frowned deeply.
“See, that’s where something doesn’t feel right as I know Cameron is evil and he’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of those who oppose him,” Jenna continued thinking about the man who caused so much damage in Coral Valley already.  “I have a strong, sinking suspicion that he has something to do with my brother’s disappearance and I wouldn’t put it past him to have found a way to pin the blame on Kipp’s shooting on some innocent along the way, though I don’t understand why he’d go after Grady.”
“Grady was working for him briefly,” Russell confessed with a heavy sigh, “Grady was running a case for Cameron against BBK that Cameron decided to go outside his company for, but once Cameron started making unwelcome advances at Grady’s girlfriend, well Grady went to tell Cameron he was leaving the case.  Apparently the two got physical with one another and then Cameron had Grady thrown in jail on assault charges, but then this popped up out of the blue.  It just burns me to no end as I warned Grady about working with Cameron in the first place, but this is just too much…”
“Yeah well, I have a feeling that there’s a whole hell of a lot more to the picture than we’ve been seeing Russ as things haven’t been right in town ever since Cameron popped into it.  I mean sure, no one ever has any proof that he’s behind the dark double-dealings around here, but I know in my heart that he’s been up to no good and I wouldn’t doubt that he’s trying to set your brother up after your brother dared to defy him.  Not so long ago, a friend of mine fell to a similar fate, only she died in the process…” Jenna trailed off thinking poignantly.
“You mean Maria,” Russ noted watching a flicker of sadness press over Jenna.
“Yeah, I don’t buy that it was a random hit and run.  I’m certain that Cameron was behind it and even now with what you’re saying about Grady, well it just seems to fit into place.  Plus, while I hate to admit this my father has ties to Cameron as I recently found out that he’s been having a relationship with Cameron’s assistant.  While my father and I hadn’t talked much on the topic, he’d made a few remarks about Cameron being bitter and out to get him in the past.  If Cameron felt that my father was doing something to put him into an uproar, then it’s very likely that Cameron had something happen to Kipp in the name of going after my father, though I don’t see why my father would continue to be sleeping with Cameron’s assistant knowing that.”
“Maybe your father doesn’t see what’s going on,” Russell suggested sensing a strong sense of turmoil from within Jenna, “Maybe he’s clueless like the rest of us.”
“Or maybe he’s just as evil as Cameron ready to destroy his children for his own greedy agenda,” Jenna threw out feeling a shiver race over her at the thought of the man she’d once tried to get close to.
“Maybe we shouldn’t jump to those kind of conclusions just yet as right now I need to find a way to help Avery prove that my brother is innocent,” Russ announced ready to do what was necessary to make the situation disappear before Grady had no more second chances.
“So Avery’s going to be the one to try to help him,” Jenna inquired with obvious curiosity.
Russell nodded, “She’s going to try.  Granted I don’t know how effective she’ll be in getting through to him seeing as he’s decided that Avery is Susan part two, but hopefully she can at least get him to talk to her about what the police have working against him.”
“Hopefully she’ll find a way to help,” she agreed with a nod losing herself to her own line of thinking about the situation.
“Yeah hopefully, although after everything that’s been happening lately in between this and Bruce, well I don’t know just how much more she can take.  The other night Bruce broke into our home and left one of his victims and a video tape proclaiming his innocence in Brooke’s kidnapping.”
“He what,” Jenna’s jaw dropped in horror, “Oh my God.  How is Avery holding up?”
“She’s terrified,” he confessed honestly, “I know she’s trying to keep up a tough, strong front, but I know this is scaring the hell out of her.  The police are no where near catching this lunatic and while he’s out there adding to the body count of his victims, they have my brother in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.”
“That’s not right at all, although,” Jenna spotted Hart still speaking with an officer just down the hallway, “maybe I can shed some light on the situation with Bruce as I have a strong feeling that the FBI was working against us from the start on this one.”
“What do you mean Jenna?  Do you know something that I should know,” Russell questioned immediately drawn in by her words.
“Let’s just say that Hart and I have been doing some investigating of our own and we discovered that someone’s been doing a very thorough job in trying to cover their tracks where Bruce is concerned.  It’s as if from the moment Bruce was pulled from that lake, that someone on the inside was helping him escape and I’m willing to bet it’s that same someone who is making damn sure that he’s not been caught yet…” Jenna divulged as it seemed that the secrets in Coral Valley were growing darker by the moment as the reality that someone was pulling the strings and trying to bring everyone to misery set in.


Avery stepped into the visitor’s room and immediately spotted Grady’s disgusted grimace. She’d known she wouldn’t receive a warm reception, but she didn’t quite expect the outright hatred she saw blazing in his eyes.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Grady demanded as he glared at her, “No, never mind. I know why you’re here. You’re here to gloat. Well go ahead and get it over with.”

“I’m not here to gloat, Grady,” She sighed as she placed a legal pad upon the table and sat down across from him, “I’m here to be your attorney.”

“You have got to be kidding me,” He snorted before he broke out in laughter, “Oh now that’s good.”

“Grady, I’m serious. Look, I know you’d rather see me rot in hell instead of being your attorney, but you need me.”

“Like a whole in the head,” He shook his head, “I’ll represent myself, thank you very much.”

“You know what they say about that, don’t you?” She sat back, “A man who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

“I’ll just have to be a fool,” He shrugged.

“Grady, come on. Don’t be stubborn about this. I need to be your attorney.”

“Need? Are you kidding me?”

“No, I’m not. I need to be your attorney because I remember the night of Kipp Mahoney’s shooting. I remember that you and he had an altercation because you wouldn’t let your hatred against me slide and Kipp was gentleman enough to intervene on my behalf,” Avery explained as understanding began to show in his eyes, “I need to be your attorney so that I can’t testify against you, and I’ll have to testify if anyone at that party remembers that altercation. I don’t want to testify against you, Grady. So just shut up and let me represent you.”

Grady took a deep breath, “There has to be another way.”

“Not a legal one without perjuring myself which I’m not willing to do for you, Grady. Let me do this to help you and to help your family. Please just let me do this,” She took a deep breath before she let out a slow breath, “You may not be too happy with me, and you can continue to hate me if you want to. But I want to do this for our family,” She paused as he glared at her, “Whether you like it or not, Grady, it is our family now. I love your brother, and I’m not going to stop just because you don’t like it.”

“I just don’t trust you, and if I’d have to trust anyone who would represent me.”

“We can work on that. You used to trust me, and maybe this will give us a chance to build on that because I promise you, Grady, that I will do everything possible to get you out of here,” Avery assured him.

Grady began to respond before the door opened again.

“Grady, I got here as soon as I could,” Susan said as she rushed inside.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Grady raised his voice as he looked away from her, “Like I needed another headache.”

“I’m here to represent you.”

“Like hell you are,” Grady declared firmly as he looked back to her.

“Grady, come on. You need the best money can buy, and of course that would be me,” Susan said proudly as she glanced towards Avery, “You can go now.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Avery declared as she stood and looked to Susan, “You weren’t invited.”

“I’m Grady’s wife.”

“Ex-wife,” Grady reminded her, “There’s no possible reason you should be here.”

“But Grady…you need a good attorney.”

“I have one,” Grady spoke as he looked to Avery, “Avery’s going to represent me.”

“Avery?” Susan chuckled as she looked towards her, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Hardly,” Avery said with her head held high, “Now, if you will excuse us, we’ll get back to work.”

“I’ll assist in your defense,” Susan spoke as she turned her attention back to Grady.

“I think not,” Grady said dryly.

“Don’t do this, Grady. You’ll be sorry if you send me away,” Susan warned.

“He’d be sorrier if you stayed. You did everything but send him to prison the last time you were around, Susan. What did you have in mind when you came here? To finish the job by sending him to prison for the rest of his life?” Avery questioned, “Besides, you work for Cameron Stone, and the last thing Grady needs is anything to do with him hovering around here to muck up his life further. So get out.”

“How dare you speak to me that way!” Susan shrieked.

“I dare because I have more respect for Grady than you ever will,” Avery stated plainly, “Now get out. Officer!” When the officer opened the door, Avery pointed to Susan, “Can you get her out of here? She’s interrupting my client and myself.”

“Of course,” The officer escorted Susan from the room.

When the door closed again, Grady looked to Avery, “Impressive. Let’s just hope you can manage that same level of capability in the court room.”

“Don’t you worry about a thing,” Avery said proudly, “Because I’m not going to let anyone railroad you, Grady. I promise you that.”

Grady nodded as he wondered if he’d completely lost his mind in allowing Avery to represent him with his life in her hands.


Cameron adjusted his cufflinks as he descended the stairs. Going to the police station hadn’t exactly been in his plans for the day, but to see Grady Denton rot in hell for Kipp’s shooting would be well worth the trip.

As he walked across the foyer, the front door bell rang.

“I’ll get it, Franklin,” Cameron called out as he approached the door and opened it. As he spotted his visitor, he leaned against the door with a soft smile, “Well this is quite a surprise.”

“Is that so? Somehow I doubt it,” Jade spoke as he stomach quivered in nervousness. She glanced around, “Is there somewhere we can talk?”

“Yes, come in,” He led her inside and into the living room, “What can I do for you?”

“You can leave Grady alone,” She blurted out as she watched Cameron closely.

His eyes widened slightly before he sat on the sofa and adjusted his slacks gently, “I don’t know what you think I can do. I wasn’t the one who lost my temper.”

“No, you’re just the one who pushed Grady over the edge. I know that you threatened him with pictures of me,” She winced as she thought of the degradation that could happen if the pictures were made public, “And I also know that this is all about me.”

“Well then you know that I’m not letting Grady quit my case,” He said as he continued to watch her.

“I just want you to let Grady out of jail, Cameron.”

“And what will I get in return?” He asked as he watched her carefully.

“Anything you want,” Jade said as she tried to calm the butterflies in her stomach, “I’ll do absolutely anything you want, Cameron, if you’ll just let Grady go free.”

Cameron smiled as his eyes caressed her body as all the possibilities went through his head. Everything he wanted was finally within reach, and nothing could stop it now.

...to be continued...