1×03 “By Darkest Day”

Episode 1xo3 “By Darkest Day”
Written by: Chirs Coleman/Kelly Zollo
Warning: Episode contains language, violence, sexual situations and content
Guest starring: Anderson Kincaid (Gabriel Macht)


“That’s it guys get every single thing of his out of here. Now that I have my bedroom back and let’s hurry I have a funeral to attend.” She watched a steady as group of butlers and staff talking all of Steven’s belongs out of the house. Brenda knew that she’d have to fight twice as hard now. The fact that Hunter nor Anderson would be taking on their legacy now. She expected this from Hunter but Anderson not coming back home, she was dying to take a crack at Walter. It had been years since they’d been alone together. Tomorrow she’d report to him informing him that no Kincaid’s would be opposing him. Once again Hunter had a chance to prove he wasn’t a complete failure. It hurt her very much that when she reached out for him he closed her down, once again he hurt her deeply. Her entire life he’d been a reminder of her screw ups.

“Jessie please you take a few of Steven’s shirts and these cufflinks you always favored them.” She said smiling at their young chef who adored Steven’s fashion. The fashion she picked out for her husband. The political campaign she helped create and the power she lusted for was gone. Over the week Ophelia had been a rock for her. It was hard when reporters attacked Steven. At one time she did love him deeply. Her mind raced with thoughts of the past when he saw her daughter rushing upstairs. “Brooke sweetie you have to get those rollers in your hair. We only have a few hours until the funeral.”

Brooke snatched her father’s cufflinks and shirts Jessie’s hand. She looked frantic as she saw her mother for the callous bitch she was. How dare she not ask her children before hand? What type of person did this? She wanted some of her father’s belongs and here she was giving it away to servants and the staff. Brooke eyes flushed with tears as she spun around watching her father’s belongs be packed up. His life being thrown in boxes for Goodwill or the Salvation Army and the rest going into these people hands. She wouldn’t let her just box up her father’s memory.

“What in the hell are you doing?” Brooke growled at her mother. “He hasn’t even been in the grave yet and you’re ridding yourself of his things. Did you ask Hunter or Anderson if they wanted anything or are you just happy he’s dead? I won’t let you just glance over his his legacy. How dare you on the day of his funeral just throw him away! I’m not putting rollers in my hair because I’m not going anywhere with you! You are sick to just box him away. Just throwing him away are you drunk?”

Brenda walked to her daughter waving off her staff members trying to get her to see she wasn’t the enemy. She saw her daughter jump as she immediately went to work in her hair. Then looked at her daughter in shock, the look of hatred from Hunter she was used to. However Brooke had been sympathetic to her. “You have no idea how much I miss your father. Not his power but him. Sometimes seeing things of someone you lost it can kill you and deeply hurt you. I’m lonely now and I don’t have anyone to argue with anymore. I don’t have the urge to be creative or even go outside.”

“But you have the energy to remove all of his things? You know what mom you are looking for sympathy, and I have none! You acted as if you hated father when he was alive. Now he’s gone and you are all alone. You are bitter at everything.” She slapped her hand out of her hair. “I don’t need your help. I don’t want your help, I want my father shit to be here when I get back. I don’t his belonging out our butler or chauffeur and you think this acceptable don’t you? Did you even say to Andy or Hunter or Wyatt! What about his grandson huh? Shouldn’t he get his cufflinks? Why are throwing my father away!” Brooke screamed at her mother. “You are a virus to our lives and to be honest I’ve felt dad loved us more. We were weapons in your need to keep political power.”

“You little ungrateful bitch.” Brenda slapped Brooke as hard as she could and immediately grabbed her hand. In shock at what she had done. “Baby I am struggling just as hard.”

“Not even! Not even in the same way. I love you mom but you are numb no doubt right now.” She said with a nasty snarl holding her face. “I have all the stress in the world on my chest and I wouldn’t do what you do to your kids. We babysit you to make sure you aren’t sloshed! I used to glance over all your unfortunate situations as a kid but I see you. I see you just like he did. You are an embarrassing, selfish drunk who will no doubt be dead in another couple of months. So mom mix pills and booze and make us a lot happier and do it fast.”

“Brooke!” Brenda called out with a croak holding back the tears. “Brooke where are you going sweetie, I’m sorry!” She said rushing behind her daughter “Brooke please wait you are my heart. You are my soul, sweetie I’m sorry I just couldn’t look at it anymore. Brooke!” She yelled watching her rush out of the house. Brenda crumbled on the stairs as she saw Wyatt watching her. “Damnit!” She said standing up as she saw him closing the door. “No Wyatt don’t!” Before she could say another word she was rushing down the stairs and saw Anderson from her peripheral rushing after her.

Making it into the study Brenda slammed the door as she rushed to the bar. Then pulled out a bottle of vodka. Twisting the cap she immediately took a gulp as Anderson burst into the room.

“Mom no!” He screamed as he rushed to her. Wrapping his arms around her he tried to wrestle the bottle from her grip. “Mom let it go!”

“Stop it! I’m the mother! You are all my kids, I won’t be disrespected! You hear me! I won’t be! I’m not dying because I’d kill myself before we let everything we built be destroyed! Damn it Steven why’d you leave me!” She screamed furious at herself for needing him to keep her family together. “I don’t know how to fix all of this! I don’t Anderson all I want is to drink! Please let me go! Please let me go!”

“Mom no don’t!” Anderson said holding her as his eyes tear up. “Mom we love you okay Brooke is hurt. You can’t keep harming yourself mom this isn’t healthy and you’re scaring Wyatt and Cara.” He finally wrestled the bottle from Brenda hands.

“Shut up all of you have disrespected me because I enjoy a drink. I have natured all of you more so than you’d ever know. I protected you all from the harshest realities of your father! Do you understand I was driven to extremes and none of you care. None you care how many affairs I endured, how many lonely nights I had, and how much your father betrayed me.” She swiftly rushed away toward the steps. “I’m sober for now.” Brenda hissed not wanting to deal with Anderson or any of them.

Anderson placed the cap on top of the bottle as he watched his mother escalated up the stairs. His mother was correct none of them seemed to think about her pain. Picking up the bottle he slammed it into the wall. As he roared a cry his chest heaving knowing his family was shamed and how hard would it be to be anywhere in politics.

“Cara and Wyatt get your coats.” He said looking at Jessie he barked “Clean this up.” Anderson watched his family walking down the stairs. Grabbing his son face he looked into his eyes. “I love you.” Walking out of the mansion they entered the limo.

Brenda watched her son leave and Jessie was cleaning up the glass. As she ran her hands over her long mink. Slowly walking down the stairs as she placed on her sunglasses. The tabloids shuttered and flickered as she entered her limo. Stone faced she felt the door close as she sat. Opening the vodka from the minibar, she gulped the small bottle then grabbed the next. “Please make sure this is restocked when I return.”


Hunter stood at the pulpit watching his mother, sister, brother, Cara and Wyatt the entire town had come out for the funeral well most of it anyway. The Devonshire’s were sitting behind his parents, Max with his family. The Delacroix’s had come to show their respects as well next to the Devonshire’s. On the opposite side Walter and his entire family had come, he didn’t hate Walter Fraiser by any means and it took a lot for his father’s life long rival for mayor over the last eight years to pay his respects. He spotted Ronan in the very back and he wasn’t even sure how he felt about that the known mobster showing up at the funeral and worse casting glances at Brooke in the front row, clearly the man was interested in his sister. He had thought a lot over the last week about this moment honoring the man that people now knew as an adulterer, cheat and so far the news had painted as corrupt. Max had been supportive but he felt himself spending a lot of time at the resort with his family and Bliss.

Shaking his head he pulled out the pristine speech he had written for his father glancing at the words on the page. A fitting tribute that highlighted who his father was a part from the scandal of strippers, Carla and some of his questionable choices. He took a few deep breaths he was still a bit shocked when his brother had passed the torch to give him this task if anyone could have done it better it was Anderson but he made a good point he hadn’t been around their father in years. He looked at the gardenia’s in the church and smiled his mother hated it but Brooke had insisted and seeing his sister smile at him he let out a slight laugh holding back some tears. Truthfully he was never good about these things speaking in public, he had no desire to be a public figure or to run for office even though his mother he knew was already planning it. No that was on Anderson he was content working for the city to continue with something he was passionate about improving Atlas Falls to become the next Philly or Pittsburgh. Folding up the paper he put it back in his pocket and realized he could do this from the heart not in some pre-written speech he had spent the entire weeks on.

“Thank you all for coming.” Hunter said into the microphone. He paused for a moment taking a breath. “He loved gardenias even though my mother hated them. He bought them every week to send to my sister no matter where he was. He also loved his children I remember when we all went on vacation to the family house in the Hamptons we spent the entire summer on the beach it was the happiest I had seen my parents and us in years. It was the same summer that Anderson and Cara got married and moved to Chicago and my father got re-elected again. People like to think my dad was perfect because he held public office that we are all perfect because of our breeding but that isn’t the case. We are just like any other family in Atlas Falls and the world, my dad was for all his faults after all just a man.”

“Some of you would say he was a cheat, liar, a snake and some would say a man that spent his time with hookers and an old lover isn’t worthy of being remembered for what he was good at. I would say you are wrong my father loved his children and his grandchildren greatly, he was proud of the work that he had done in Atlas Falls, he was proud to carry on a family tradition that started years ago by serving and expanding the city to what it is today. He had his friends backs over the years even when he knew he was crossing a thin line to the public, he was loyal when it came to making sure those friends became God’s in the eyes of this city, that they were respected and well known. He also cared about the people, making sure to work with the state senate and governor to make sure that we had great public funding for our schools, a health care system that he felt was fair to even the most underused worker.” Hunter said taking a moment to compose himself as he continued with his speech. He looked at his mother for a moment and felt like maybe he saw a glimmer of something hope maybe affection before his eyes moved to the crowd. “So despite his many shortcomings at home he did care about the people. He loved his children deeply all of us even when things were tense between us we could always count on that.”

Hunter paused again looking at Max and wondering what he was even doing anymore with her. That was something that he was sure his father didn’t want once he had learned about her affair with Philip Montgomery. His father has stated as soon as he was elected he would make sure she was eradicated from his life he had something on Lowell. Now though he wasn’t even sure how he was supposed to handle that but he was sure he didn’t want to stay with her. He was done with her as soon as he found a way out he wasn’t going to have them end up like his parents miserable.

“He also wanted us to find true love or at least that was something he always told me, my brother and my sister. He wanted us to be happy and do the best we could for the people around us especially in Atlas Falls. So today while some of you are thinking about all the horrible things he did not in his seat in office and some are thinking of the man that helped them. I’ll remember the man that I called father and loved dearly. The man that I will miss, the man one day I hope to be. My sister would like to say a few things as well.” Hunter finished looking down at Brooke and her nearly tear stained face. He had meant every word.

Brooke shook her hands as she saw Hunter speech winding down. He did beautifully and she wasn’t sure she could top that. After all her daddy always said his best speeches were on the fly. Sometimes writing made it fake and untrue and today she didn’t want to be fake. Unbuttoning her coat she wore a chic black mod style dress with sheer sleeves. It was a Chanel dress that evoked Audrey Hepburn epic Breakfast At Tiffany’s dress. As she walked up to the podium she looked around and eyes caught Rory’s. They were pen pals when they were kids. She smiled at him and then she saw him. He was sitting in the back but why wasn’t he closer? The air sort of sucked out of body because seeing him had made it better. Ronan Madden was a charming man and so what he was older. She felt it was too late from the moment they saw each other she felt something. He made her feel better right now and all she wanted was her father.

Clearing her throat she looked at her mother. “Just this morning I had a fight with my mother.” She saw the shocked expression of Brenda. “It was stupid because I now get what she was doing. She couldn’t handle something and understand it after someone talked to me about it. Sometimes mothers and daughters aren’t on the same page. I love you mom but my dad was special. You ever felt like Superman was right there in your face? That’s was every moment with Steven Kincaid he was daring and handsome. I wanted a guy just like my dad because to me he was perfect and I wanted to be just as perfect as him and mom. So no matter what the media and what happened I hold onto those memories. Please don’t take his ugly death as the person you remember him as.” Brooke paused as she looked at the crowd.

“My father was love and I want you all to hold onto that memory of happiness and love and don’t care about the physical and judgement we place on each other. None of us are perfect and I can’t see myself judging him anymore so please just hold onto those memories. Of him at the Christmas party or him visiting you in a trying time. Just remember the good in my dad because he loved us very deeply and whoever did it. Whoever did it is going to burn in hell.” Brooke rushed back to her seat and into an embrace with her mom. As she bawled she looked up she saw Ronan looking directly at her. He took her to dinner twice last week. It was sweet because he was the only one who she had opened up to. She mouthed thank-you to him then nuzzled her head when she noticed her mother’s head turning to see who she was talking too.

Hunter saw Brooke falling apart and shot his mother a glance before he stepped back up to the podium and gently took her hand in his. He helped her down and back to her seat trying to see in the vast crowd who she had been staring at before we went back to the podium. Anderson had already said he didn’t want to speak so that had left him and Brooke. He felt it was fitting given they were the two closest to their father since Anderson had moved away. He and Brooke had stayed to pick up the pieces and the mess that was their family ignoring the fighting and the drinking. He had been the one to pick up the pieces when Brooke couldn’t or when Brooke went to college and school. Leaning into the podium and the microphone he spoke.

“Thank you all for coming the burial will be held in a few hours at the cemetery if you would all like to join us there.” Hunter said looking over the crowd before stepping back from the microphone and taking his seat back in the pew.


Brenda wiped her hands as she hauntingly caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror as she exited the bathroom. The years had been quite kind to her but today’s pressure had gotten to her. The things that Hunter said stirred in her gut. The fight with Brooke somehow stayed in her brain. Her eyes blurred what had she done? Hunter didn’t deserve her behavior for her own sins. This was nothing but a consistent mess that she’d created. The service was almost over it was almost done. All she had to do was get through the thank-you’s and she’d be alone with a bottle. Brenda had nobody in her corner but Ophelia who always had been a friend. If Brooke and Jamal had more time she’d promise her daughter to him. The honest truth was Jamal had no focus and Tony gave him to long of a leash compared to Selina and Mason. He was wild and unpredictable. That wasn’t something Brooke deserved or needed. Her daughter deserved the Prince Atticus and when he got his shit together she’d get him. Correspondence between her majesty Lady Magdalena was of the utmost importance. Brooke would be Queen one day and her dreams of power wouldn’t be dreams but a reality.

When she looked up she saw Lauren approaching her as she rolled her eyes. The woman who got it all. This was always an interesting conversation mostly because Brenda was admittedly jealous. Somehow Walter went after Lauren when they were in their youth. It still made her feel angry that was getting what should have been hers in every way. Through a fake smile Brenda said with a icy tone. “You are a vulture, please tell your husband coming to wish my husband gone was a great and grand gesture but I don’t believe it.”

“Bitter as always.” Lauren said through an equally fake exterior. This woman had nerve to judge her in anyway. She always and always had her nose in air when she poisoned her husband against her. She was still flawless but she was still brave. Lauren used to always feel less than the beautiful Brenda Thorpe. She was the town’s golden girl and when Walter the all-star American jock loved her and left Brenda for her. Well they’d never gotten over it. Brenda always had a soft spot for Walter and she’d done so much meddling in her life. This was no doubt eating her alive that she would now be first lady of Atlas Falls. “I had to ask you a few things about the mansion and decorating the mayors mansion.”

Brenda eyes glared in a darkness. “You bitch you will never get in that house it is a Thorpe family heirloom and my legacy even if you and Walter are the successors you’ll never get my house.” She said with a growl.

“Shame I would of loved to evict you. I’m truly sorry about Steven and hearing that Anderson is going to Chicago and Hunter hasn’t put in his claim. Well you’re politically played but we both know why you wouldn’t dare run. Why you couldn’t the political mind that you have can’t be in play because of your secrets.” Lauren said putting Brenda on notice not to screw with Walter from here on out. “I will crush you in front of your children, friends, and beloved Thorpe family name. I’m still that trashy bitch who won Walter so you keep your distance from my husband and his campaign you desperate witch.”

“Desperate I’m never but confident you aren’t. Why are you afraid that Steven’s getting cold in the ground and Walter might come running back to where he always has belonged. We both know Walter, myself, and you all would be destroyed by secrets don’t do that to yourself.” Brenda then smirked as she looked at Lauren. “Hi and mighty I’m going to eat you until you’re skin and bones. Leaving you to rot you hear me? You aren’t ready for me you’ve never been ready.” That’s when she saw Jackie approaching them. “Oh good Jacqueline you can settle this argument aren’t the Fraiser’s always going to be the laughing stocks because your husband tricked Walter into selling his stock? In what’s now a billion dollar company damn you must feel very foolish mayor or not you will never get respect.”

“You bitch if this wasn’t a funeral I’d kill you. What the hell.” Lauren smacked Brenda with all her might.

“You street urchin bitch!” Brenda growled as she slapped Lauren back. “Jackie call security get this bitch out of here!”

Jackie had thought it was a wonderful service led by Hunter she knew that Steven would be proud of him speaking from his heart about what Steven stood for. Some people unfortunately remember the man that was found in bed with Carla Luciano while others would take Hunter and Brooke’s words to heart. She wasn’t one to pretend with the Kincaid’s they were cordial since Hunter and Max had married Steven was good for business but she did agree with Brenda. Lauren had always looked to places where she didn’t belong to fit. Her eyes shifted to Hunter and Brooke as they left the church followed by Max and Bliss. Her eyes caught Bliss’s eyes as she exited as well, she wished the girl would just disappear for good she was not part of her family and never would be. The now constant reminder of Tess thrown in her face around town and Lowell was even hinting at her moving into the mansion.

That was never going to happen the mansion was hers and for her children to come and go as they pleased not for Lowell’s bastard to pop in and stake her claim. Did he really expect her to just put up with it Bliss in her face at every turn in public, now he was attempting to make it personal. Her house was exactly that her home and she wasn’t going to let Lowell do this to her no, she had put up with a lot over the last thirty years but this was the last straw. Not to mention the police sniffing around left and right about Steven’s murder over the last week how many more questions did she and Lowell have to answer about the dinner? They had returned to the mansion the staff could verify that but is seemed that the detectives were hell bent on keeping Lowell on the suspect list. Shaking her head at the thought she turned back to Lauren and Brenda watching the fight break out. They had never gotten along and get them in closed and confined quarters hell was sure to break out and it did even before Steven was six feet under. Jackie stepped between the two ladies to call a cease fire looking at Ophelia approaching as well.

“Now ladies this is a funeral. Dear Brenda has a point you and Walter have always been how shall we put it bitter? If your husband would have read those papers he signed a bit harder perhaps your fate would have been different. But we all know how that happened all those years ago don’t we?” Jackie said watching Lauren’s face as she spoke she didn’t hate Lauren but she didn’t like her either. At one point she and Lauren had gotten along quite well in college until Walter and Lowell had their falling out and then they too had fell out of touch with each other and let that slow dislike set in. “Why exactly did you and Walter come today again?”

Lauren scoffed at Jackie’s indignation God was this woman serious? While watched by Jackie and Ophelia she knew if she made a play for Brenda again she’d be stopped. So she went on the offense as they all felt like enemies at this point. Jackie stood by Lowell in the darkness and trickery it was a fact. There friendship hadn’t been the same since she found out about how Jackie knew about a lot of things. Her eyes darkened as she scoffed at them both.

“A urchin really Brenda? If you weren’t proof you aren’t what this town needs I don’t know what is. This city needs upfront, relatable, and personable not some ice queen. Sweetie your nose was so far up in the air that none of you know it’s another side of Atlas Fall dying! Your husband death signals change in every way. This city isn’t going to be plagued by you rich elitist any longer.”

Brenda felt the sting of her cheek and Lauren’s words. Her eyes cut at Ophelia and then Jackie. “You never answered Ms.Devonshire what are you doing here? I never would want you or your husband here.” Her words were sarcastic as if she had won in some sort of game. “Considering how I know how both of you feel about me this rings so false.”

Lauren shook her head. “Its as simple as paying our respect. Your need for respect is funny considering how many times you trampled on my marriage.”

“It wouldn’t look very good for the campaign Brenda now would it if Lauren and Walter had just stayed home now would it? The people do love their underdog story.” Jackie managed to quip between them everyone knew the only reason Walter, Lauren and the rest of the Fraiser’s had come was to make a political statement to clear Walter’s name of Steven’s murder publically. Though she never thought he had a hand in it Walter was many things but deep down murder wasn’t something he was capable of. “Oh look Ophelia is here.”

Ophelia had seen Lauren and Jackie approach Brenda out of the corner of her eye a she had sent Jamal out of the church with Tony their schedules were still in conflict but they had all agreed to a sit down with Jamal as soon as possible. She was training about four new interns at the hospital and her regular rounds people didn’t stop having children when your own life was a mess she learned that years ago. Even if she and Tony were at odds she was still a doctor and had been pulling her weight over the last few weeks to just put everything behind her. She also spent a lot of her time with Brenda her best friend needed her that was something she was always going to support the way Steven treated her over the years.

Nothing had been that dark for her and Tony until her affair with David she had never understood Steven’s affairs or Brenda’s own burdens that she carried until then. Until things looked that bleak enough for them that she began her affair with David. She approached the women as soon as she saw the slap with Lauren and Brenda. She made sure she was firmly on Brenda’s side as she looked at Lauren Fraiser. “I think it is time that you and your husband both leave.”

“I’ve been thrown out of better affairs enjoy this even ladies considering I’ll be first lady soon and you snotty bitches will have to bow to the new Queen. Long live the reigning family of Atlas Falls the Fraiser’s.” Lauren said rubbing her cheek one time. “Brenda, Jackie, Ophelia you all will bow to me one day.” She stormed off knowing she’d break down like a kid if she didn’t get away. How could all those women still make her feel like this? Years later she felt inadequate to them.

Brenda turned away from Jackie and Ophelia covering her mouth as Lauren’s words echoed in her mind. “I’m fine.” She said looking at Ophelia. “I am, but she isn’t going to be. I swear to you both by next year Lauren Cummings won’t be married to the man I’ve loved my entire life. I’m going to destroy that bitch life and Dani won’t stop me this time. She just declared war.” Brenda grabbed Jackie’s shoulder. “Thank-you for earlier and you.” She hugged Ophelia knowing no love was loss between these women due to Gloria. “She’s been dead could you two let it go? Gloria would have wanted Tony to move forward.”

Jackie watched Lauren leave and knew that Lauren was right with Steven gone she and Walter would soon take over and for Brenda she felt that had to hurt. The subject of Walter came up and she let that thought filter for a moment they had all been friends at one point she, Walter, Lauren and Lowell before the plan with DGI. Everyone knew that Walter deep down still carried a flame with Brenda of some sorts Lauren and Walter had nearly divorced because of her. She watched Brenda leave and then she was left alone with Ophelia and she took a breath no it was not ever going to go away. Ophelia had moved in on a grieving man.

“Ophelia.” Jackie said coldly looking up at the casket in the church and back over at the other woman. “Brenda is your friend and I won’t speak ill of her she is not here. You and I are not nor will we ever be friends after they way you snagged Tony.”

Ophelia watched Brenda leave knowing she would be left with Jackie, Jackie who had never welcomed her no Jackie openly despised her. Just like Selina had she had not planned on getting pregnant with Jamal so quickly it just happened. She knew what people in town thought about how she and Tony had gotten together how fast she had gotten pregnant but it was never planned. It anything she had tried to tell Tony not to marry her but he had insisted that she was what he wanted after Gloria had passed. She had only met Gloria a few times in the hospital before she had passed but she and Tony had become friends while Gloria was treated for her cancer. In truth he needed someone to talk to and while he had Lowell and Jackie he and she had many coffees in the hospital cafeteria where he vented about Gloria’s condition. Those weeks turned to months and when Gloria passed a few months later she and he fell into bed together. Perhaps out of grief on his part but eventually they became something more.

“The way I snagged Tony? I find it hilarious that years later you are still trying to play that card Jackie I would have thought you would have moved on to a new comeback. When Tony and I got together Gloria had been gone for months.” Ophelia said not in the mood to deal with this again for the millionth rehash of their history. She straightened her back refusing to give into the jab. “How is the Bliss situation? One could say Lowell blindsided you with that after Tess snagged him.”

“How dare you bring up Tess. I am sure Tony knew about that you conned your way into Tony’s life manipulated him he never would have bedded someone like you. But you just wouldn’t let it do would you pretending to play the caring doctor at the hospital that was concerned about his wife.” Jackie said glaring at her with contempt knowing she could have pulled a Brenda if she wanted but she also knew they were at a funeral and in a church. Hardly the proper place to lay the smack down she wanted on Ophelia but in due time she would leaning into her ear she spoke. “Gloria was barely cold then. I would have to agree with Brenda you like Lauren reach far beyond your station. By the way stay out of Selina’s way from now on.”

Pulling back she wrapped her coat around her and pulled out her sunglasses slipping them on as she put her purse on her shoulder. She would leave Ophelia to haunt her own demons in church with God when it came to how Gloria had died. How she had moved in on a grieving family and man, she tried not to let the Tess comment hit her too hard as she made her way out of the church.

Ophelia looked at Jackie her jaw flexing at the insults that she threw down she wasn’t going to dignify that with an answer. She had worked her way up from nothing in Mexico sent money home while she worked her ass off in America in school and the class struggle was real when she met Tony. Though honestly Tony himself came from humble beginnings so the entire thing was partly laughable to her, Tony had just invested in DGI at the right time and place. She could tell that the comment about Tess dug under Jackie’s skin and she was glad about that, she deserved to be brought down a peg or two. She looked at Steven’s casket and then crossed herself honestly it was out of respect they were in the house of God afterall. Something she had done when Gloria was sick, praying to God to save her offer her a miracle and then one day she showed up and Gloria was gone, Tony destroyed. In truth she hadn’t been in church in years as a child she came every Sunday for mass and watching the priests move around it reminded her of home in California. Placing her own purse on her shoulders she walked out of the church.


Walter waited until a lot of the crowd had cleared watched as Lauren went to speak with Jackie and Brenda as he made his way to Anderson. He had already heard from the chief of staff in Steven’s office that Anderson was not staying to take his father’s place. He honestly didn’t hate Steven for being mayor but he also knew it was his time at the helms with his family. He patted Braden’s shoulder on his way past him. Saw Dani sitting in the pews casting a glance over at Jackson as he made his way towards the front. He took a few moments looking at her and over at Jackson, she was not that dumb that she would want to be with Lowell’s drug addicted son. His daughter knew how he felt about Lowell and his family, but that to get friendly with a recovering addict and a worthless human being no she wouldn’t be that dumb he didn’t raise her to be that stupid. She was always hell bent on wrecking her own life and constantly letting him down after all she threw her future with Lex away. Thank God that Braden had got the idea of romance with Selina out of his head when Tamara had Dylan though he could sense his son was sniffing around again. No his children wouldn’t be that tempted that naive, maybe his little girl but his son no that was not ever going to happen over his dead body.

He had heard through the grapevine that Anderson was taking the political circuit by storm in Chicago at an entirely new level that much he was sure about. He was just waiting for his time to run for senate being wise enough to learn the ropes and make the connections that he needed. Charles had called to inform him Anderson was interested in working in Pittsburgh with him. He had already stated he would still be mayor earlier in the week with no opponent on the ticket it was a no brainer it was going to happen. Lauren had stood by his side for the announcement and he cast a smirk at Lowell his dreams would soon be crushed. That was what mattered the most to him winning against Lowell after thirty years working his way up in city council to finally be able to stick it to Lowell. Afterall he should have been up with the Kincaids, Delacroix and others in town Lowell and the Devonshire’s had robbed him and his family of that years ago. He had every intention of hurting DGI where it mattered the most with money and investments in projects from here on out he was going to make sure DGI was brought down a peg or two. He reached out and shook Anderson’s hand he was never one to be a sore loser with Steven but he also knew to not gloat here. Anderson had just lost his father and as much as the elite of the damn city still got on his nerves he knew what that felt like when his own father had died a few years ago.

“Anderson I am so sorry for your loss. If there is anything I can do please let me know.” Walter said compassion and understanding in his eyes. He already knew Anderson’s time in Atlas Falls would be short this time he was on a flight back to Chicago in a few days. “I never wanted this for your father to not be able to finish the race.”

Anderson shook Walter’s hand as he pulled him into an embrace. “For the media incumbent Fraiser, I can say your condolences mean something but I’m old enough to remember the damage you did to my parents marriage. That your noble front is bullshit Walter so don’t come here with that fake shit. I don’t care about the mayor spot that’s the small leagues when I see you and him.” He said to an approaching Lowell. “I will be a threat the Kincaid’s are regrouping very soon. We won’t be a joke but a legitimate threat. A threat that will haunt you all, good day Mr. Devonshire.” Anderson brushed through both men.

“He did inherit Steven’s flare for the drama. I like to put my rivals on notice by just approaching them and letting them know. If you stand in my way Walter you being mayor will mean nothing. I tricked you before and I’ll destroy you this time. I will bury you and we both know I don’t mind blood on my hands. I hate to say it but Steven and I had a understanding. You must know that Steven and I were partners. This death now affects my company and as you know I play for keeps when it comes to my company.” Lowell said looking at Walter. “It’s quite predictable that we are here but under these circumstances you finally getting some power. How does it feel Walter? How does it feel to be a God now? Don’t get full of yourself my kind sir I will crush you and you’ll be back to the puny man that I stripped of everything.” He said viciously as he looked at him. “Walter I’d hate to destroy you.”

Lowell smiled at Dani and Jackson in his vision. “Its sad isn’t it. Your daughter is my bitch now. That she’s babysitting my disappointment that must get under your skin.”

“Yes I suppose he did. Anderson is not the only one that has powerful friends. You’ve been trying to squash me for years Lowell yet I always seem to rise from the ashes. First you went after my father’s business right after Braden was born I blocked you then and it still remains a local hot spot in town.” Walter said turning to face his lifelong rival DGI was supposed to be their dream until he gave Lowell the Andromeda software and trusted him to make him a partner when the first contract came up with the government. Instead he signed papers that Lowell had given him assuring him it was standard business practices he hadn’t read them very well he was worried about Lauren’s post partum with Braden and his head was not on, instead he signed. Forging everything over to Lowell including his shares and the software that made Lowell his first million that was still DGI’s top performing software seller. “You soon won’t be able to strip me Lowell with Steven gone there is no other option and trust me I refuse to let DGI rally this town any more.”

Walter cast a glance at the pew to see his daughter sitting with Jackson he couldn’t tell if they were doing anything other than talking from where he was. The implication that Dani was a babysitter was laughable. Dani had graduated near the top of her class in both undergraduate and her masters she could have went to law school and he shook his head at that disappointment. She worked for Charles Hessington for two years a well known congressman, she had gotten him re-elected after his wife died. “It must be quite the embarrassment that you feel your son needs a babysitter when he isn’t off getting high. Then again there isn’t a lot to say about him other than that is there?”

“Jackson is my failure and a mistake of my parenting but maybe if he get’s some naturing from your princess, well she might actually be getting somewhere with him.” Lowell said laughing knowing his words stung more than he let him know. “I’ve taken something so much more precious from you not the other way around. Your daughter is working directly under me. She’s employed by the company you should own. Doesn’t that irony kill you? It strikes me as amazing but on the contrary you’re the same man who gave up the delicious Brenda Thorpe for crazy Lauren Cummings.” Shaking his head he folded his arms. “However I don’t know which one was the catch since Brenda is a alcoholic and Lauren would hang your baby from a tree if she was left alone with it.” He slowly sipped his water with a lime twist inside.

“Oh don’t give me that look as if I’ve crossed some invisible line all is fair in a lifetime feud dear friend. You have gotten in my way for the last time but I won’t and I mean I won’t deal with it in my business. I’ve destroyed more than you know. I taste blood and I go for the jugular. You can’t do anything because no matter how much power you obtain I’ll have money more money than you could dream of. I will crush you so don’t think of this as an idle threat think of it as my warning. My warning to you that if you ever and I mean ever cross me I will leave a wake of destruction. Starting with your daughter who is my possession.”

“I’m surprised your son is even sober honestly Lowell wasn’t he so doped up last time he almost ended it for him? Don’t flatter yourself she won’t be naturing anything in him he is a job to her you really think she’d ever act or fall for his charms, you are a fool if you think that is how it will play out. The only reason she is working for you Lowell is to prove a point to me believe me it is not about you.” Walter said coldly looking back at their children honestly Dani working for Lowell irritated him to no avail. It disappointed him greatly, it was a betrayal of the worst kind for him something he had tolerated looking back at Lowell he growled at him when he mentioned Lauren. Lauren’s illness after Braden had been born was town gossip everyone knew about it. “At least I don’t have a bastard running around throwing it in my wifes face how does that feel Lowell? That Jackie years later can barely even look at you.”

“You leave Lauren out of this no it is between me and you but you’ve never been man enough to face me it begins now. Your son steps out of line this time I’ll make sure mine sends him to a prison cell, your paperwork is out of line with anything and I mean anything at city hall I’ll make sure to tie you up in court for years costing you what you really crave money it has always been about money.” Walter spat looking at him seeing his own words hitting where it mattered with Lowell the pocketbook and a scandal with a bastard and a drug addicted son that belonged in jail. He looked at him when he mentioned destroying Dani no only he was allowed to do that to teach her a lesson, a lesson he always did she was not good enough. “You see why you’ve been so worried about me being mayor you forgot not only do I have a few judges in my pocket my son is also the DA. As for Dani try and destroy her, like I said we Fraiser’s always are able to pick ourselves back up.”

“Careful Walter your true colors are showing in front of the adoring public who is around and you don’t want to seem just as evil as me.” Lowell said as he looked into Walter eyes for once he had the ammo to actually do something against him. This was going to become very interesting because if he had to he’d sacrifice Dani in a heartbeat. He’d make a example of her. Hell he’d throw his son a bag of coke and tell him to turn Dani onto it. Lowell had seen him do it to plenty of girls poor Cat overdosed in high school trying to keep up with Jackson. Another secret he covered up for his son. As he folded his arms he smiled at his rival finally Walter’s balls had dropped and he was ready for war. After years of him embarrassing him, Walter wanted retribution.

“Now isn’t the time, you think you have a little power with Braden? You think your judges can stop me. God isn’t powerful enough to stop my billions. Know one thing ignoring my warning will lead to a wake of bodies. Fraiser bodies that I will hit one by one. So you do your worst but know at the end I will win. I always win. I take everything and you know first hand. I won’t warn you again but you know that. You are doing amazing in the polls and so you know Walter you have my vote.” Lowell said watching his rivals face as he spoke edging Walter on was always a thrill.


Looking at her father and Lowell Dani took a breath in the pew shaking her head in the now empty church only they would get into this here. They were after all at Steven Kincaid’s funeral and it really wasn’t the time or the place. The last week had been intense. Lowell had assigned Jackson to work with her, she would pitch, promote and sell his oil project. They spent a lot of time together at work formulating his oil plan and in a few weeks they would start going for bids and getting the media talking about it. She believed in his project heck she could even say she loved it, it was smart well thought out and something that would get people excited about DGI and the job market not to mention the stock numbers would rise. He made things fun when they were together outside of work like ice skating, teaching her to ride horses or watching TV together she was surprised they both had music in common. They covered their encounters well informing staff at the Devonshire estate it was just work and they were just friends. He made her feel something again that she didn’t think she could after Lex happy. He made her smile, made her laugh and laying next to him that morning while he tried to entice her in another round it hit her. She was falling for him even though she said she wouldn’t, it was supposed to be just sex.

Sex that was amazing and turned her into a puddling mess anytime he touched her, kissed her, whispered in her ear or bent her over her desk to fuck her at work knowing it was so forbidden. She’d never been with a man like him in bed before, never had someone fill her needs the way he could and the more she had him the more she wanted him that frightened her. He didn’t lie he took control with them teaching her new positions, how to control her orgasms and she quickly learned it beyond turned her on knowing she was pleasing him. He still hadn’t tied her but he’d pinned her with his hands, dug his fingers into her hips to the point bruises had formed always asking her permission and if she was okay with it, she was beyond okay with it she trusted him with her body. She felt so comfortable with him when they talked, safe with him enough that she slept over a few times that week. He still wanted her to look at him during sex and she had successfully avoided it instead turning his attention to other things like kissing or biting. She knew if she looked at him during it he’d see everything, how much she wanted to be maybe more with him to see where they could really go. She’d see nothing in return she couldn’t do that again with someone. He had made it clear the week before he wanted nothing more than sex which made her wonder if he even wanted her staying over. Which was why she left that morning finding the funeral even a lame excuse when she used it even though she had wanted to stay with him. She finally noticed Jackson take a seat next to her in the pew and spoke quietly as she glanced at their yelling fathers.

“We should probably do something about that before it gets worse with them.” Dani said quietly just being around him felt nice. She reached to play with her hair only to remember it was secured in a low pinned bun. Her hands went the the hem of her a-line black dress to play with that instead. She was nervous around him and it showed he’d eventually get bored with her if he wasn’t already. “I’m sorry about rushing off this morning that wasn’t fair to you. I just don’t want to overstay my welcome.”

“I like you in my space and if you do that again I’ll think I did something wrong.” Jackson said folding his arms. “I love sneaking around with you. I think we generally let them duke it out maybe they can stop acting like little bitches.” He couldn’t believe he just said that but he did. “I’m tired of telling grown men and women to behave and looking at it this is only going to get worse. I almost want to tell you to get your pretty ass over here and let’s go away.” Jackson smirked at Dani trying to not show how this was actually turning out. It was about to get bad. He knew whenever this many elders of Atlas Falls elites around it always turned into a big blood spill. No matter what happened between the new generation it wouldn’t compete with the past because they had them beat. The drama seemed to subdue until this point. It seemed Steven’s death was shaking up the foundation.

To be honest he couldn’t believe what he was doing. Jackson Devonshire was addicted to something new. He wasn’t sure it was a drug he could have either. Dani from the moment they spent that one night had somehow connected them. After his conversation with his father Dani had become a rock. To be honest drugs weren’t on his brain. She was intriguing and something forbidden came with her. Not to mention the fact that she was also a animal in the bedroom but something about her kept him focused. A couple days after the conversation his father discussed the oil ideas with him. It was a start and after years of disappointment it was good to feel like he may have impressed him. What truly impressed him was Dani though. She seemed to be into this as much as him. The sneaking around and pretending to be friends. When he knew she was letting him use and touch her body. He wanted to care about her publicly which also freaked him out.

What was he going to say? Hey dad I’m dating your sworn enemy and my personal babysitter? Then it was the fact that he was a walking Greek tragedy. The first night he tried to set expectations of what they needed this to be. He needed to be free but all of the sudden they were watching movies every night. Not to mention he didn’t mind. Dani had dreams of helping him take a place at DGI, he had dreams of bending her over. It was a even trade he guessed but all and all he was starting to enjoy this. Whatever this was.

“To be honest let’s just let them do them for a while we can just look concerned and be fake. While I can tell you how sexy I think you look in that dress is that inappropriate at a funeral?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong and I would have loved to finish something this morning. I just…nevermind.” Dani said quietly, realizing how stupid it was it was just fun if he didn’t want her there he would have said something. Looking up at the front of the church again as he spoke about her moving her ass to him, he was bossy with her she liked that about him. She rarely let anyone boss her around she really hadn’t since college but she let him, dear God forgive her it turned her on with him. She let out a small laugh at his bitches comment. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call your dad or mine bitches it suits at the moment.”

She let out a slight grin before she moved down the pew a bit to sit next to him her hip touching his as her bare knees touched his slacks. Her hands had stopped playing with the hem of her dress as she placed her fingers on his forearm of his rolled up shirt tracing his skin to his hand and fingers, she loved his hands. She saw his slight grin at the action she did like this the sneaking around the hidden touches in public it was part of the thrill. “Since we’re being honest I love sneaking around with you too. This close enough at the moment since I don’t think we can just run off? As for the dress I’m pretty sure pointing out you want to bed someone in church is on a list of sins at a funeral.”

“Well God knows my most carnal urges.” He laughed looking her in the eyes. “Sometimes I can.” Jackson stopped himself knowing what he was about to tell her. Honestly he could stare at her all day. Somehow Dani brought out the best in him. It was becoming comfortable to be around her and that wasn’t something he was looking forward too. As he looked at Dani he smirked as he saw Walter watching them. “Sometimes I wonder do they know you know look at your dad. Whatever my father just said pissed him clean off.”

He knew it seemed weird just cutting his words and sentence off in the middle of it. “I was going to say I could stare at you all day. There now any sexy points are out of the window. Damnit I’m in a church.” Jackson couldn’t help but to laugh “I’m sorry that was out of line. This entire thing is out of line considering our fathers are about to rip each other apart.” Jackson stood up seeing Walter and Lowell getting closer to each other. “You want to stop this now?”

“I’m sure he does and if we weren’t in a church I’d let you indulge in them.” Dani said when he looked at her feeling her entire body flush at the idea. He had carnal urges she was fairly certain about it if what they had done so far in bed was any indication. When he stopped mid sentence though she tried to not stare at him, she shrugged at if their fathers knew. She honestly didn’t care one way or the other with her dad he’d see Jackson as another failure in her life it was never good enough for Walter Fraiser no matter what she did. Lowell she wasn’t sure about. “I don’t know maybe.”

When he mentioned he could stare at her all day though she really wished they weren’t in a church that they were back at his place indulging in what she had walked away from that morning. Sure they looked at each other a lot at work, in bed stealing glances but she’d never of pegged him for that taken with someone like her. When he cursed in church she smiled a bit honestly she didn’t know if she believed in God or not. She looked up at their yelling fathers and saw he was right they were edging to a fist fight so unfortunately for now whatever they did or were thinking about each other would have to wait till later. “I still find you sexy even if you are cursing in a church and speaking about your carnal urges but yes we should stop them.”

Grabbing her clutch she walked to the front stepping to her dad in the middle and saw Jackson by her and Lowell just in case. “Come on dad mom’s waiting.”

Walter looked at his daughter standing next to him within feet of Jackson and Lowell. God he had never been more disappointed in her than he was in that moment, watching her side with them in public perhaps Lowell was right afterall her loyalty had ended. He stepped forward just a tad to look at Lowell and then looked between his daughter and Jackson. If they thought this was over they were surely mistaken no Lowell would have to contend with him at city council meetings, any business proposal he had would have to go through him at the office.

“I’ll see you at the city council meeting Lowell no need to spill blood in church is there?” Walter asked before stepping back and looking at his daughter, his own flesh and blood. “As for you I’d rather you have stayed in Pittsburgh like you were told instead of coming home but even you had to screw that up. At least then I wouldn’t have to constantly look or remind myself at what a constant disappointment and failure you are to me by working for him. They’ll use you both of them if they aren’t already and the fact you are too stupid to realize it just makes me even more disappointed.” He took a few steps back done for the day she wanted to throw her life away for the Devonshire’s and Lowell’s addicted son so be it. He cast a glance back at them on his way out of church he had better things to do other than look at his daughter betraying him any longer than he had to.

Dani averted her eyes from him the man who she’d adored since she was a child the man she spent her entire life trying to please and she could feel Jackson staring at her. It was never enough no matter how good of grades she got, how much she practiced music lessons the list was endless other than one, Pittsburgh and Lex. He expected her to stay in Pittsburgh with a man that was unfaithful, had lied to her and for what so he could get his dream of being in with his political friends? She’d thought long and hard after Lex and Maggie about her choices realizing at the end of the day she wasn’t even sure she was even in love with Lex anymore when they returned from Whitney and Ryan’s wedding. She packed up and came home, she couldn’t even say why she was with Lex anymore after his mother died, other than it pleased her father. She didn’t know how long she had stayed there standing still after her father had left and she heard Lowell walk away too.

She bit back the tears seeing Jackson still standing there wondering why he was even still there. He had asked her the week before if she ever felt unloved and unworthy she felt that constantly from her dad. Her mother and her brother were different they loved her she knew that, her father had always been cold to her. She never knew why but she felt it growing up and swore when she came home she wouldn’t put up with it anymore that was why she took the job at DGI to prove to her father he couldn’t control her life or her choices. The words they’ll use you echoed in her head and they weren’t false Jackson was using her for sex and she was letting him. She was reminded of that now no matter the teasing that they had been doing moments earlier. It was just sex for him no matter what she felt on her end, he’d get bored move on and who really stayed with an emotional train wreck like her anyway, men had made that very clear to her. She’d be another conquest he could brag about. She tried to steady her shaking hand by fiddling with the fabric on her dress.

“Just go I’m fine.” Dani said quietly not able to take the awkward silence anymore between them.

“Meet me at my house.” Jackson said looking her in the eyes. Seeing how Walter treated her first hand his soul got a chill. It was exactly the same way with Lowell. How could they not see they were killing them? Why couldn’t they love them just for who they were? Watching Lowell walk away and not even address him. Well that showed him exactly how important he was to his father. As always he seemed to disappoint him. For whatever reason he’d never amounted to anything good. As he looked in her eyes he saw the same hurt that he’d lived with his entire life. So Dani’s life wasn’t as perfect as he thought. The many nights they sat up talking the past week she hadn’t spoken much about Walter. He now understood why the wrath of the men who controlled them. For years he’d been constantly screaming fuck you to his father until he finally collapsed. The last overdose was the worst Max and Jackie found him and it wasn’t pretty. He could remember Lowell telling him to die, as he awoke from his medically induced coma.

“I know that feeling.” Jackson said taking her hand and squeezing it not caring who the fuck was watching them. “I know it all too well and you hold your head up and you say fuck him. You hear me? You say fuck him because he isn’t worth you becoming hurt for.” He bit his lip. “I’m not going anywhere so fuck them all. Let’s go Dani I’m not going to let him embarrass you like this. You are my friend and I.” He stopped as he wanted to say more then stopped. “If you want I can take you where I went whenever my dad pissed me off.”

Dani felt his hand take hers and it seemed to calm her down after what he had seen they hadn’t really talked about her dad the last week. He hadn’t asked her a lot of personal questions other than her interests and now that he saw this side of her she wasn’t even sure what to feel. Heading to his house right now would lead to intimacy that she wasn’t ready for, she’d look at him in bed he’d see everything and after dealing with her dad just now she didn’t have it in her to be anymore broken down. She reminded herself that it was just sex for him as she looked at their entwined hands and she realized it was the first time he ever really grabbed for it in public. He did it a lot in private and she pulled her hand back before she forgot that it was anything more than a good time in bed for him.

“I can’t I have a baseball game I’m supposed to go to with my cousin and brother later. I would invite you but I gave Talia my extra ticket. It was very sweet of you to offer though. I haven’t really cared much about what he thinks. You asked me last week if I ever felt unloved and unworthy, I do mostly with him and some other less than stellar choices in men. Now you know so let’s not pretend this is something that it’s not. Okay? It’s just sex and that’s what we both wanted.” Dani said quietly stopping before she let out the last part, that she wanted to be more to him. Her father’s words echoing in her head about using her, while she walked out of the church and let the few tears slip out as she did.

For some reason Jackson felt truly almost as if she was pushing him away. “Right I understand that. Its just sex.” He said as he stuck his hands inside of his pockets watching her walk out of the church. Why was he all for it possibly becoming more? Why did he hate the idea of her shutting him out? No that would inflame his father and hers even more. He tried to seem happy, about her pulling away. No girl like that would ever want him. He was sure of one thing, he wasn’t good enough for Dani. If he was a better guy she would have stayed no doubt. Pulling out his phone he pressed a number.

“Diamond baby I need to see you.” Jackson laughed looking at the cross above him. “Amen.” Walking out with a devilish smile on his face. Time to get into his right mindstate.


Ronan looked out the window as the grey sky cast a gloom over the city it was fitting given that they had just had Steven’s memorial service a few hours ago. He had went to pay his respects to Steven and to catch a glimpse of Walter Fraiser he could already tell the man was going to be a problem, he’d have to find a way to bend and break him to what he was used too. More importantly he had went to see Brooke he hadn’t stopped thinking about her that week ever since their conversation about grief and loss, she seemed so lost and broken. He had even set a few guards to keep an eye on her that he knew was paranoia but a necessary one his enemies had tried it before with him went after people they thought he was getting close too. Even though he and Brooke were nothing more that acquaintances and friends he still felt like they could target her. He had taken her to dinner twice to make sure she was alright and they talked, had great conversation he loved her company. Of course he had texted her during the week wanting to check on her to make sure she was alright, she had assured him that she was. He didn’t or he hadn’t had a connection to a woman like this in a long time if ever, he had never really done that got close to one his mother and father’s death had taught him that. In his life there was always going to be a balance and choices, love or a real marriage was hardly something that one chose in his line of work. He folded his hands behind his back the age thing was bothering him as well he was a good ten years older than her. He however couldn’t help himself and staring at her in the church earlier had confirmed it he was smitten with her. He heard the door open and looked at Kendrick nodding his head at his right hand.

“Is he here?” Ronan asked. Kendrick nodded his head and he took a seat behind his desk sitting down and watching as Thor Luciano came into his office. He waved his hand at Kendrick he knew Thor was not armed. “Leave us.”

He had discovered the truth about Thor a few years ago the picture that his father kept on his person after his parents were gunned down in Philly. Carla had come to him afterwards and he learned all the vicious details about his father’s long term affair with Carla and she revealed that Thor was his half-brother. He could tell now they looked alike and he felt bad that he had missed Carla’s memorial a few days prior he had business in Pittsburgh to attend too it couldn’t of been avoided. He wondered if Thor would retaliate it was rare of a woman to be in charge he knew very few men in his position within the family that would allow that and exception being the O’Connor’s. His father had valued Carla enough to let her front businesses for him over the years as he lieutenant and he had to honor passing that on to Thor not to mention that his father had left Thor money and power in his will. Next to murder there was nothing he could do to get rid of his half-brother though the thought had crossed his mind he refrained at the moment Thor was more use to him alive than dead. He let his fingers tap on the desk for a few moments as he watched his half-brother looking at him studying him, he eventually rose and walked to the wet bar pouring himself a drink.

“Can I get you anything? Let’s cut the bullshit shall we we both know who we are to each other.” Ronan said finally turning to face him. Thor had called this meeting and pouring himself a scotch on the rocks he took a sip of the liquid. “You wanted to see me.”

Thor popped a peanut in his mouth as he looked at Ronan. Leaning back in the chair he threw the peanut, extending his neck to catch it in his mouth. As he did the trick again he focused in on his brother. His eyes had a childlike glint to them. As if he knew something mischievous and glint on his face. As he stared at the man before him he felt no intimidation. The one man he knew had stake in taking out his mother was Ronan. Steven was an unintentional target and now he felt. Slamming his weight down he looked at his elder half-brother. He used his weight in his chair to slam down commanding attention.

“Unless you can tell me why my mother was killed in your territory? I never asked for shit from you or our father. My mother wasn’t interfering with you so why’d you do it? Jealous your beloved father loved my mother more than yours? It’s comical you know thinking about it. Everywhere I’ve been and seen was because of your father. I wasn’t raised by our father and I think honestly you finally snapped about you not being the devoted heir, that he left me half of the fortune. Either way I want an explanation or I vow to bring my limited power on your head. I will do everything to make sure you crumble even if that means me dying. You got everything but a mother and you took mine you selfish bastard.” Thor leaned back in his chair throwing another peanut in his mouth.

“Oh and big brother if you think I’m kidding just watch what I’m capable of. I have limitless resources legal and illegal. I will crush you. I will crush you so badly that all will remain is the memories. Hell I think me being head of the cartel would be amazing.” Pointing at Kendrick he smiled. “You think so too, oh no okay um awkward.”

“I can’t tell you why your mother was with Steven other than the fact she apparently spread her legs for anyone with a little power. Frankly she didn’t rate that high on my list or my father’s she was how shall we put it a throw away? Even in the business the only reason my dad kept her around was for you. I doubt you could even call our father that it must hurt doesn’t it that he left you a bastard?” Ronan said looking at his brother in the chair so the rumors were true people think he took Carla out and in the process Steven too sadly for them they were wrong. He was sure that Thor had started the rumors, rumors he would make a call the families and assure was not the case. “You’ll never get power Thor you don’t have the right last name for it.”

Ronan walked to the wet bar taking a long sip of his drink before walking back to his desk taking a seat on the edge as Kendrick walked to Thor’s chair when he mentioned taking over. He held up his hand at Kendrick to stop no he wanted his half-brother alive for now anyway. Until he decided if he was worth keeping around or not in the organization not to mention he just bought the rug last week. He watched Thor a darkness seeping into his eyes as he took a second sip of his drink. Yes his mother had been ripped from him callously his father had let her get too close to the business. That had been his father’s mistake with his mother it was not something he would repeat.

“You forget your place little brother. You are still the bastard son and no one in the other families will ever take you seriously because of that alone. Know your place little brother it is not at the table.” Thor said coldly watching Kendrick take a step back watching his words getting under Thor’s skin. He twirled the empty glass hearing the ice clink against the glass before he set it down on his desk. “You think legality matters to me it doesn’t. I didn’t kill your mother and if I would have I wouldn’t of been as sloppy as to take the mayor with her.”

Thor snarled as he looked at his brother. It was become clear that he didn’t think that he was a threat. As he cracked his knuckles as his teeth gritted. A nervous habit he had since he was a kid. He was a bastard but it was always known his mother was about power. The only reason he was alive was because of the power it gave her. Shaking his head as he felt that his brother didn’t seem to understand. He didn’t understand that he looked at every angle on this and it had his fingerprints all over it. As he tapped his index fingers on the desk as if he was drumming.

“There it is.” He laughed as his eyes grew darker. “Bastard this, bastard that you know you are sadly predictable. Like when you went to my mother in the first place trying to sell her territory on the east side of town. You thought I didn’t know. Now your personal hitman might be stoic but to be honest I see through both of you. I see what you’ve done but you won’t have my mother’s territory ever. Do you hear me Ronan? You know the rumors is that you are sneaking around town with Brooke Kincaid. Or is that my spies just telling me what’s going on? I wonder how she’d feel if I went to her with my assumptions? Does she even know you’re a mobster?” Seeing the look of disgust on his face and clear shock that he’d had him followed. “You are arrogant and what’s worse you’ve been given power because of our father’s merit. What makes you better than me? That’s right nothing at all because you are a mobster. I have a degree and connections to demolish you.”

Thor stood seeing Geoff looking like he wanted to pull out his gun. He raised his hand. Kendrick didn’t intimidate him or his goons. “You have two days to tell me what you did to my mother. Two days or I will unleash hell on you.”

“Well you are a bastard. I went to your mother out of respect but I can see she raised you with none. Your mother and I had an agreement before her untimely death.” Ronan said watching Kendrick out of the corner of his eye and Geoff. His eyes glared at his brother as he brought up Brooke, she was to be left out of this she had nothing to do with it and she just got done burying her father that day. “I took Brooke to dinner a few times this week hardly something to make a fuss over her father and I were close friends. I was given power because I was born into it, you should know that Thor.”

Kendrick grabbed Geoff as he made a move and he rose from the chair knocking the peanuts out of his brothers lap and onto the floor. He could tell his baby brother that he wasn’t afraid of him. Maybe there was some Madden in him after all, he held up his hand to Kendrick as he watched Thor’s face. He leaned into his little brother making sure he was caged in the chair as two other men came in and held him down..

“Do you know what I do to rats or those that happen to make false claims on my good name? I am sure you heard stories about our father, I learned from the best. What makes me better is that I am not a spoiled child Thor you might want to watch if you are going to learn anything. Stay out of my relationship with Brooke Kincaid I won’t warn you again.” Ronan said before stepping away and then watching Kendrick release Geoff.

Thor cracked his neck to the left and the right and smirked at his brother. It was sad how predictable he was. For the east coast leader of the cartel it was almost like this was too embarrassing. A easy task because he had been preparing for this day since he found out who he was. Making a fucking wrong move against the king of crime  in Atlas Falls. After all he was training to take down Ronan since he was old enough to know who his brother was.

Just as he looked up Ronan, Kendrick, and the two goons and red dots on their foreheads. “You thought I didn’t think of this?” Thor turned his head and one of the goons instantly fell to the ground. “You think I didn’t think of the torture you could put me through. A handsome little college boy? Oh I’m not pretending my life was created to be a front. I’m smart enough to know I’m not bred for this but maybe one of the southern cartel or the west coast or the midwest wants the east coast? I will make it so hard for you to keep your empire. You see what school has taught me, I was trained in business and it’s all about supply and demand. In our business you must demand respect to keep a constant supply of fear.” The next goon was shot directly in the head. Blood splattered on his face. As he took out a handkerchief and wiped his face.

“I hate a mess.” He said smirking still having that childlike glint like this was a game Thor was playing. “The thing is I’m in this game to dismantle everything our father built just to spite you. So even if you haven’t killed my mother, I’ll make you pay for calling me a bastard, for treating me like shit, for your father abandoning me and most of all for you to finally see. See me as someone who will make you life fucking miserable. You hear me? You will have nothing but misery.” Thor stood up seeing the dead bodies he felt sick but his facade was strong. He looked like this was normal. This was what his adviser told him to do. This was how he had to come in. With guns ablazing and two men were dead no doubt murders so it was good ending for them or so he guessed.

“Two days bitch. Let’s go Geoff.” Thor said knowing he wouldn’t be able to cross back over after this.

Ronan watched his men fall and Kendrick moved quickly to shove him to the ground it was quite clear that his baby brother had been paying attention. The two men that now lay on the ground covered in blood from their wounds had been loyal to his father for years and were now on his personal detail they would have to be replaced now. He watched as Thor and his man moved towards the door he made sure Kendrick moved to block their exit, before he stepped over the two bodies and right to his brother. Looking Thor in the eyes his voice lowered, coated with ice and venom to make sure his little brother got the point.

“Watch yourself Thor, you forgot one very important thing in your plan for revenge Cassie you know her right? Cassie Montgomery Philip’s partner at the Club the Club that he is in debt to me with, I would hate to make sure the woman you are seeing is sent home bit by bit to you as a warning. Now do the smart thing and walk away before I make that call your weakness has always been the women in your bed and your life. Including your mother.” Ronan said watching the horror pass over his brothers face before he moved to the side and the door to his office opened. “Two days it is if I were you I’d make the best of them.”

“We’ll see no won’t we?” Thor said walking with Geoff out of the room. “Cassie is mine and if you think about breaking a nail on her. Well Steven Kincaid won’t be the only Kincaid that family was burying. Brother don’t you believe she’s a little too young I mean you are long in the tooth. Maybe new blood would do this all good.” He watched Geoff and Kendrick staring at each other.

“Down doggy.” He referred to Kendrick nastily. “Let’s see who wins shall we brother?”

“Kendrick let him go.” Ronan said watching his brother walk out of the office as he looked at Kendrick. “Place at least one more on Brooke. Get this cleaned up and find Benny Ruzzo for me.”


Jackie had spent the rest of the afternoon in the solarium her favorite room Steven’s funeral had been grim setting the mood for the rest of her day. She and Ophelia had successfully broken up the heated battle between Brenda and Lauren. In turn she had noticed the locked jaw Lowell put on when he exited the church when they got home he and Walter had gotten into quite the fight somethings would never change that she was sure of with her husband and Walter Fraiser. She glanced around the room looking at the various plants growing some exotic provided with only the best sitting furniture for lazy afternoon reading that gave vast views of the estates most beautiful views. There had been many times she and the children would come here when they were younger she spent a ton of time with Jackson in there, he appreciated the views and Lowell was far too busy with Chauncey. She heard Lowell enter the room no doubt to discuss Bliss and she wanted to laugh at that of course it was about his daughter, with Tess. Tess had been a black mark on their otherwise good marriage, yes Lowell did things in the name of business but banging his secretary over twenty years ago still stung. Now granted Tess had been fired soon after she discovered the affair. Knowing now he swept Tess and he shipped her and and Bliss off and had a double life burned her more than that.

“My answer is the same as it was last week Bliss is not moving into the mansion she is more than comfortable at the resort. Does she really need to be here Lowell in my house? In front of our children have you no shame?” Jackie asked closing the classic she was reading and looking at her husband from the sofa. Hurt in her voice as she spoke surely Lowell wouldn’t ask that of her after everything that they had been through as a couple. “You can’t be serious can you?”

Lowell looked at her as he clapped his hands together. This room was never one he enjoyed considering it always seemed to be where his child with the most potential ran too. In many ways a piece of him blamed Jackie for coddling Jackson. He could remember Jackson first aptitude test where he scored off the meters. He was smart it shocked him not to mention beating Chauncey scores was a feat. Max also test extremely high but she didn’t beat Jackson. Something he was very clear about his son was the one. Then Jackie and life seemed to snatch the potential from Jackson making him useless. The only two other children who matched Jackson intellect was Rory and Bliss. He could see himself grooming either of them. Considering Chauncey had yet to show that he could handle the pressure of a corporate environment and actually having a life. It was always one of the other with his eldest in his mind. No room for both and since Selina was on his mind, right now with his skills Chauncey wasn’t ready. He was the closet but not ready quite yet. So grooming others to take the mantle wasn’t a problem, it was more of a duty of him. None of them were going to be around forever.

“Tell me Jackie is my blood not coursing through Chauncey, Jackson, Max, and Rory? Just because they are biologically ours am I supposed to love them more? You sound like a fool.” He said looking at her getting annoyed at the fact she was fighting this so hard. “My daughter will be here from now on and this is final. No need for discussion Bliss will live here until I feel like we have recovered from my very own scandal. You both will interview with Cynthia Masters saying how we have become a family and so on.” He said looking at her. “This is all about our company. Our dynasty and if I ruin the company with my sins what are leaving to our children?” He screamed at Jackie. “I’m not asking, I’m telling dammit. Bliss is moving in.”

“Our blood Lowell still my house. I sound like a fool? I am not the one that is parading her around and shoving her constantly down my face or in it. You are a fool if you think I am going on a news station and pretending to make nice with your love child. No and you, Simon or Dani can’t make me.” Jackie spat standing her ground with him was he mad that she would be doing that going on national TV to welcome Bliss with warm and adoring arms no she would rather rot. The house was one thing but her pride was another. “After everything I have done for you at this company building your empire with you this is how you repaid me. You had an entire new life with her missing holidays here, important dates here while you were off what with Tess and Bliss? Tell me does Tess still get it up for you is that the case?”

“You know I worried those nights on those trips you would have to take out of town for the company how you could miss important dates like that one Christmas. Or Jackson’s first recital, or Max’s rise to pageant queen in high school. Rory and his fifth grade science fair. You nearly missed Chauncey’s wedding to Logan. All those times I looked back you were with them. So don’t you dare stand here and talk down to me about bringing her into my house.” Jackie spat back her voice rising at how entirely messed up it was for her to even be having this conversation with him. This was her house and her children’s house. “I have covered your sins with Walter. I watched the things you did in the name for the business and company but I won’t do this Lowell I will not let you embarrass me and your other children like this.”

“I can’t buy your love anymore. One thing you can’t tell me you are questioning is that my heartbeat is beating for only you.” Lowell declared as he grabbed her arms. “Listen carefully I haven’t touched Tess since you found me and her together years ago. I didn’t have a family on the side. I had a daughter and yes I spent holiday’s with her but what was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to just ignore her? I know I kept my heart protected and cold but you are the one and I’m offended that you think Tess is a factor still after all these years? Has love not been good enough? I made a mistake and I paid for it by missing my son’s first recital, not seeing Max become Ms. Atlas Falls, and so on! Don’t you see I felt trapped if I did bring her home you would have never accepted her. If I kept her away then you weren’t hurt. I didn’t want to hurt you again.” He screamed as felt himself getting frustrated.

“I’m home with you. This is our home and this is us.” Lowell said looking at her. “But she is my blood.” He shook his head as he felt himself getting emotional. “I wish you would see how much this has killed me. But parading her around town? No that’s Bliss doing because she’s desperate for some sort of love. Tess took a lump sum of her trust fund and was in Europe most of the time. Bliss’s only figure was a butler named Isaac who loves her to this day and I think maybe if you try a bit harder you’d see that she’s crying out.” He knew what was coming next. Jackson was about to be brought up and he wasn’t going to deal with it. “No comparison Jackson has consistently failed me just because he’s your favorite that doesn’t mean a thing. Bliss is looking for love and I want you to understand that. She wants love.”

“No you can’t Lowell you haven’t been able to buy my love in years and why shouldn’t I question the fact that you hid Bliss that you snuck off to other countries and cities for her and Tess. Perhaps Gloria was right all those years ago you were going to replace me and our children with Tess instead you just thought you could have the best of both worlds. I suppose Bliss blew that all the hell when she came to town and publicly outed herself.” Jackie said looking at him and wrenching her arm free from him he wanted to do this now they could do this now in her mind it was long overdue about twenty years or so in fact. She had stayed by him while he had another life with Bliss. “You already hurt me Lowell the moment she showed up. Your blood not mine.”

“If you aren’t parading her around town and at the company than it should be no problem making her stay at the ski resort. Jackson and Bliss are not the same don’t go there Lowell. Jackson is the child that you wanted to let die after his last overdose, a overdose that you pushed him into.” Jackie said mortified at the comparison her son and Bliss were not the same. Was Lowell trying to say that Bliss was his long lost favorite child? In truth the entire family had contributed to Jackson’s drug use and her husband had been the worst anytime he wanted affection from Lowell it was never given. “The moment you begin to show our son an ounce of compassion and love is when I will show an ounce to her. Then again that would mean you would have to look at him as something other than a shame to you.”

Lowell wondered if he’d never get past hurting her precious Jackson? To be honest the boy had yet to prove he was worth all the trouble. It hurt him that he couldn’t stand by the side of his child with the most potential. He felt like he was in vain all of it. All the pushing he’d did to get Jackson to a position to dethrone his very own brother. Yet here she was defending his actions and words again. She didn’t fight this hard for Chauncey, Max, or Rory but when it came to Jackson, she’d sell her shares to protect him.

“I’ve given you things Tess nor Bliss have never gotten. It’s Bliss’s birthright though to have a piece of this company and hell even this house. My sister is in Europe and she doesn’t want a thing to do with DGI. I’ve atoned for my sins but one thing I couldn’t do is be without my child. Bliss is my child and I didn’t deserve our shit. I instead of manning up and dealing with what I did, I cowered is that what you need to hear? You need to hear that I was afraid of what happened to Bliss? I was afraid because of what I had already done I would have ruined our relationship? Tess was a mistake and if I have to prove that again we might as well divorce. It’s old and I’m sick of it. I understand your pain but look at you. You don’t even want me to touch you because of your paranoia. So that you know Tess Blisston was the only woman I’ve cheated on you with. So if you’d like I can call up the B-Agency and have some of those beautiful hookers come over. You can catch us so that you have something to bitch at.” Lowell roared sick of her jealousy.

“You want Jackson to be treated like my son. You force your precious boy to get his shit together. To stop using but since we both know that isn’t going to happen. Then I suggest you get used to Bliss coming or I’ll ensure you I’ll drown Jackson. I’ll make him so depressed he’ll actually finish the job. You’ve gotten jewels, stock, furs, cars and covers of magazines. Jackie what else do you want from me? I’ve bent for our love it’s time you do the same.”

“Stooping to Steven’s level how becoming.” Jackie shot back when he brought up the well known escort agency that Carla Luciano ran.

In truth Bliss was something she didn’t want to think about but now she had too the fact she was here. Honestly she had wondered if her husband had other affairs after Tess and now that he had confirmed he hadn’t she felt her body relax at him as she looked out the window. Why were their children so unhappy didn’t they give them everything they wanted? Yes Chauncey was getting married but he was distracted. Max was a damned mess her and Hunter were ripping at the seams and she knew her little girl was screwing around with Philip Montgomery. Rory was hanging out at a strip club and Jackson right now was sober. Her son seemed happy and she didn’t know if that was because her husband was letting him work at DGI or if it was the fact that Dani Fraiser was always at the estate with him. She had seen them at the church after Walter and Lowell had left. Saw her son take Dani’s hand which confirmed what she suspected they were involved more than work. Right now she would keep that information to herself if her husband knew she didn’t know what he would do but right now Jackson seemed happy.

“He is getting his shit together look at him Lowell look at the idea that he is finally embracing at DGI. You have no faith in him, you never have do you think he is using now? I am sure you are having Dani report his progress to you does she think he is using?” Jackie retorted she hadn’t seen her son touch anything since he’d been back and when she looked in his eyes the last week they were clear for the first time in years. She finally walked to Lowell and relented. “I want you to not embarrass me Lowell with Bliss you could have told me years ago but you didn’t. If I agree to let her move in what is in it for me? You and I both know we can’t divorce. I won’t be your parents I won’t put our children through that.”

Lowell grew pale from the comparison of his father. His father died never seeing what he truly built and his mother was in Europe with Janice. His baby sister’s children didn’t carry the Devonshire name but they did carry the bloodline. Rainer Goulding was one of his best European executive. Not to mention Barron and Kimber the twins which ran in their family. It was ironic that Kimber was the screw up and Barron was amazingly gifted. As he thought about the destruction that laid in the wake of his parents messy divorce.

“Dani is giving me reports she’s also telling me a lot of good information on Jackson. I see he’s trying in DGI and life but Jackie.” He stopped seeing his very own father reflection in his own. Watching his wife looking at him disgusted at how he was treating Jackson. “I’ll try with Jackson, I swear it okay? I can’t say that I am going to be able to forgive him. I will give him the same authority and power as the rest of the kids with limitations. Dani is the only one I trust with him. She seems to reign him in. I just gave my heart to Jackson I thought he was the one and look at him now. Maybe it’s time to let go of my anger, but to do this we both need to move forward. That also means you need to let your guard down with Bliss for the children to do the same.”

“That is all I ask.” Jackie said quietly looking at her husband did her son and Dani know they were playing with fire and the company with their affair? Honestly she had swore Lowell hired Dani to get back at Walter but Dani was good at her job, the girl was a hard worker who kept the bad press that out of the press. Knowing what she saw at the church she left it at that with their son and Dani Fraiser. Though Jackson had denied it to staff they were more than work buddies and friends and if it kept him away from the drugs she’d wait and see where it went. “Bliss can come live here give me some time to prepare a proper room for her and make sure that is what she wants.”

Jackie stepped to her husband and placed her lips gently on his weeks apart after Bliss she felt like they had a breakthrough. He wanted her to try with Bliss she wanted him to try with their son and now a truce was called. She wrapped her arms around his neck kissing him as she felt Lowell kiss her back. She was being unreasonable with Bliss she knew that pulling back from her husband she bit his lip. “It is settled then. I will not have her treat me like she did when she first came here Lowell when she showed up at the dinner party. If we are going to move forward she and I need that mutual respect from each other.”

“All in time.” He said touching her beautiful soft skin. “But I want another one of those kisses.” Lowell slowly placed feather light kisses on her skin. “Baby you got the best of me and trust me no other woman will replace Jacqueline in my heart, mind, body, or spirit.” Bliss was coming and so was change for them all. From this point on none of their lives would be the same.


Miranda Harrison looked in the full length mirror one last time she had worked her ass off to get into VICE and finally they had gotten their break when they sent her into the club. Her brother would kill her if he ever knew what she was doing though Commissioner Morrison assured her that he wouldn’t know Homicide and VICE were two separate departments. She ran a hand through her hair in the club she had to be known as Mia Bryson a girl down on her luck that needed to be stripping for the cash, thankfully Philip never recognized her as someone he went to high school with when he hired her, granted they had a graduating class of over six hundred so that helped. Nope he didn’t ask questions he had asked her to take off her clothes and she did for him he had inspected every inch of her and nodded his head a few days ago she would start tonight. She only had one goal while she was in the club watch and figure out who was running drugs for the Madden family and to keep an eye on Kendrick Ronan’s right hand man. Devin had been pissed when she took the gig worried about her safety.

She was the eldest girl in a slew of brothers who were in the military or serving on the police force or fire department. She also had a younger sister Chloe that was still in high school but she was bound and determined to make her own name for herself on the force. Everyone talked about her father Robert Harrison was a legend working his way up patrol to lead detective and one of the most decorated officers in AFPD history, her brother Jon was following in his footsteps but she was tired of being told she was Robert’s daughter. Devin didn’t get it men respected him because he was male and wore a badge in the department meanwhile she and the other female officers had to fight tooth and nail. She watched as the Russian stripper Yalena arrived to her table taking some of the makeup and saying something she was sure was an insult in Russian. The other girl Mercedes was trouble and she watched her do a line of coke on the dresser, so drugs were in the club.

“You want?” Mercedes asked raising her head and the rolled paper to the new girl.

“No I’m good.” Miranda said looking at her as a girl younger than her entered the room.

“Aw little princess doesn’t want some did you hear that Yalena, too good to get in with what Philip has for her. Should we tell the boss man?” Mercedes said standing up and adjusting her g-string she had a few more minutes before her routine came on. She walked to Mia who was by all accounts good looking and with those tits she knew the only reason Philip hired her was for that, running her hand through Mia’s hair she looked at Yasmine in the mirror. “What do you think Yas? Should we tell Philip this one isn’t cut out for this? She certainly doesn’t know how to have a good time look at her scared like a frightened bunny.”

Yasmine turned around with her eyeliner on the table. So Mercedes had a new target, this girl didn’t know anything about the streets. It was clear by how she was standing there. Placing her hand on her hip as she looked at Mercedes. Shaking her head as he looked at the other girl Yalena. As she looked at Mia she took a brush and tapped her shoulder. “Come on girl you going to have to be around the right people.”

Eying the other girls she started to dust her with the gold dust. “It makes them not be able to touch you easily. Listen I’m not about to tell you that this is easy. Getting up every night and letting a piece of yourself go to these vultures. Men treat you like a object but if you use this job like me you’ll be out and not regular like those coked out bitches.” Yasmine hated that girl it was something about Mercedes. As she looked at her. “I’m Yasmine around this club I’m Diamond if you see me in the street its still Diamond. What’s your stage name honey?”

“Sparkle. Real name Mia.” Miranda said looking at the young woman before her honestly she was glad to see at least one clean dancer in the room. She supposed she should thank her parents for the dance lessons when she was younger to even get that past Philip and to the job. If she fell flat on her face at least she would know it wasn’t due to lack of trying. She kept her eyes and ears open as the girl poured the dust on her. “I’m just here for a few months. I need the rent money my landlord raised it again.”

“So does Philip get them from Madden’s crew?” Mia asked watching Mercedes do another line in on the counter. It was a good conversation starter at least she had all the information she needed and her alibi was rock solid not to mention if they needed more cops to collaborate her story the commish said they would send some more in. They had at least two more they could send in to be her cover story if it got to sticky hopefully though it would just be a few weeks and she could be out. “Anyone that I should worry about getting too grabby with me? Philip said he had some muscle but I know from a few other clubs sometimes the audience can get a little rough.”

Yasmine finished dusting Mia’s body as she stepped back she smirked at the girl. She looked exotic not just a normal white girl. It was something dark behind her eyes which told her she wasn’t telling the truth. Plus no way Philip or Ronan let girls work for a few months. Hell she’d seen Roxy escape but that was because she was pregnant with Money’s baby. Most girls were just trying to escape this but after this was done so were you. You were damaged goods most men don’t want the girl everyone wants. Moving her long bang from her eyes. She smiled at Mia.

“A guy named Hans the girls warns you about him. He actually has ejaculated on a few girls.” Yasmine turned around smirking. Then she burst out laughing. “No serious Hans is gross and always stinks but is a big tipper but he is sweet. You just have to hold your breath.” When she asked about the drugs. “Girl it’s best you don’t ask too many questions about that shit. Let Mercedes and them bitches get sucked up in that. Trust me you aint about that life.” She said seeing she was a girl who just got sucked up in the madness.

“I got it stay away from a guy named Hans gross.” Miranda said shooting Yasmine her best smile she remembered her cover story back to front standing there in the room looking at the girls. It was risky and learning about Ronan Madden’s connection to the club would take longer than just tonight judging by Yasmine not even acknowledging her questions. She didn’t think Mercedes or Yalena had or was a dealer though dealers were smart and doing a line in the middle of a dressing room didn’t scream smart to her. She realized she was staring and looked at Yasmine. “So it’s pretty much same shit every night just like Club Royale?”

Her cover story was solid Club Royale was a low scale titty bar near the airport and they had crafted her backstory around it anyone went down there they would know her as MIa. One of the things she had worried about being undercover despite living in a large city was just that getting caught. Putting her entire family at risk her brothers, her cousins, her sister and her parents but it was a risk someone had to take. “Clyde was the worst down there but Philip he pays better here.”

“Girl I wish I would have worked at The Royale!” She said laughing at the thought. It wasn’t pretty but she must have left a star spot to come here. Everyone knew Yelena, Mercedes, and she were the big draws. Each girl had such a distinctive look. Hell Yelena should be worried she was about to be replaced. Rumors had it a few weeks ago she OD and Philip and Ronan had her back on stage. As she blew her fingernails to dry them.

“Anyway stay away from Rory he only wants a dance from me.” She teased laughing lightly. For some reason she honestly liked him. It wasn’t like they stood a chance at all. She’d been waiting and waiting on a guy who made her feel something. Hell after Kendrick’s brother Khalil went to New York she didn’t think twice about men. It was all about getting Trisha back to fighting form. She wasn’t sure what she was waiting for. “Anyway girl just stay away from Mercedes and her crew. Trust me them Russian girls and that bitch are trouble. Rumor has it all them are apart of the B-Agency. You aren’t one of those girls are you? A lady of the night? A working girl? A hooker?” Handing her a brush to get her hair together. “Let me know now so I don’t hang with your ass trust me these clubs small everyone know.”

“Got it stay away from Rory he is yours.” Miranda said watching Yasmine laugh at the other girls she put it to note that the rest of them worked for the B-Agency too it didn’t surprise her they were model worthy. She could at least pass that along too that some of Carla’s girls worked at the club. Which could be used in the case against the Luciano family that the feds were building. “I don’t think it will be a problem staying away from those two either.”

Miranda watched Yalena say something to Mercedes in Russian again and decided it may be worth it to bring a bug into the back room or a small surveillance camera. She kicked herself for taking Spanish instead of Russian in high school and college at this rate Russian would have been the better choice. She offered Yasmine a smile as she stood from the chair looking at herself in the mirror Jon would kill her, Devin would probably kill her but appreciate the view but she felt like she was doing something good. Putting an end to the drug trade inside Club XES and crippling it in Atlas Falls once Ronan was caught the drugs could stop flowing. If that meant shaking her ass on a pole, letting strangers touch her to get what they needed to Ronan and Kendrick away she would do it.

“No I’m not involved in the B-Agency. Thank God.” Miranda said smiling at Yasmine who she felt could be her ticket inside.

“Come on new booty lets show those trashy bitches how pretty girls rock?” She took Mia’s hand quickly feeling the need to protect her much like Zenobia did when she first entered the club. It was so long ago that she didn’t think of Zenobia anymore. She watched Kendrick, Money, and Ronan drag her out of the club because she was trying to leave. She’d never see her again as she stopped Yasmine touching her stomach. She felt sick knowing that that woman had kids and they were lost to a cycle of violence and the street. Slowly smiling at Mia she touched the wall.

“These streets girl they a killer sweetie and I want you to know I got your back girl. You just have mine when those bitches try to no doubt jump me again.” She’d fought with Mercedes, Yalena and Titania ass also. “Be careful to not like this life suck you up you’re in the big leagues now.” Yasmine walked out in a cop outfit with a gun as Rihanna “Bitch Better Have My Money” and “Pour It Up” mix came on. She went to the stage ready to put on a show.


Rory had taken the last week to catch up on his last of homework for his ongoing masters class the masters was something that he needed if he was going to impress his father further at DGI. He had also been to the club every other night to see her the mystery dancer that he had been crushing on for months otherwise known as Diamond. The good news for him Jackson hadn’t been back in the club since that night so he knew nothing was going on with her and his brother other than a deal, he was still worried about that. Bad news for him he hated to see other men in the club watching her when she was performing and when they touched her he had to remind himself that she wasn’t his. Hell what was he doing it wasn’t like someone of his standing to be in a club like this, half dance club, half strip club and he was pretty sure Philip let other fetishes go on behind closed doors too. In fact he belonged at the country club with his mother, but something about Diamond always drew him back here, he should be at the country club or the estate even especially after Steven’s funeral but that felt fake to him. To grieve Steven Kincaid. Brooke was his friend but he also knew he had seen Steven in the very same club he was in numerous times over the last year. Honestly the son of Lowell and Jackie Devonshire could have any woman he wanted but he was in a strip club watching a stripper because honestly he was bored with the debutantes and social women his mother had lined up for him. He wanted something more, something more honest and a bit more real and maybe if he waited long enough he would get that with Diamond.

DGI had been doing well or at least as well as could be expected he could say it was weird seeing Jackson at work, it made sense his father would make him work with Dani though. Not that he envied it Dani was good at her job which was making sure they were in line with the press, pushing projects through but he felt bad that their father didn’t trust his brother enough that he basically made Dani attach to his hip. It was doing good Jackson at least seemed happy at work or maybe it was that he wasn’t with some drugged up girl but he could even tell his brother was focused. Chauncey was working on some deal with their father for some overseas software takeover, Max was grooming her hotel chain idea and the big dark horse was their half sister. He had looked her up ok he more like hacked her up in the files at DGI she had a business degree had went to a good school, he knew it was only a matter of time before she was brought into DGI that is where his father would place her. Perhaps with his project by the looks of it and that bothered him, he had done everything he was supposed to in order make his father see he was the right choice for heir. His social media app was something that would put Facebook and Twitter to shame. He picked up his drink from the table when he caught her walk by and reached out for her arm.

“Can a guy buy a dance?” Rory asked flashing Diamond his megawatt smile. Her eyes always reminded him of chocolate raisins hidden with a hint of gold in them they only lit up when she was dancing or when she was around him. He wondered why that was and this time he was a little shocked to see a bit of fear in her eyes at the statement surely a dance couldn’t hurt she had been giving him dances for months. “Just a dance I promise this time no funny business.”

Yasmine had just hit the stage as she watched Mia doing her thing up there. That white girl wasn’t afraid. It was refreshing to actually have someone who was sane in Club XES. Slowly smiling at him she honestly wondered why he was here. He had hundreds of debutant bitches no doubt ready for him. Yet here he was again. What was going on? What made him think that this is where he should or would want to be? Slowly nodding her head she looked him in the eyes. His eyes were so beautiful and that smile. That smile could kill someone.

“Rory we gotta stop meeting like this.” Swiftly spinning as Beyonce’s 7/11 came onto the speakers. Her hair whipped around as she dipped down making her ass jiggle as she twerked to the beat. Slowly duck walking to him she bounced back up slowly rotating her hips as she landed in his lap. “Boy do your parents know you are here? I’m not going to have the Devonshire’s shutting down my money.” She teased as her body slithered on him. “Don’t you have some high society princess that needs your attention. You spending too much time in here Rory. You’re too smart for this place to suck you up. Don’t believe me just ask your brother.”

“No my parents don’t know and if they did they’re too self absorbed with some other stuff at the moment to care. Honestly high society princesses don’t do it for me.” Rory said watching her dance on the pole and then make her way to him. He blocked out the club and the men that looked at her and only focused in on her. Yes she was a stripper yes he knew it was wrong but now that she was there he wanted to make her see this didn’t have to be her life. Did she have family? Didn’t she want more? “How are your dreams of dancing in New York going?”

Rory wanted to slap himself he broke the rule asking her personal questions already honestly he wanted to take her out, outside of the club she still wore that awful mask. At least it still showed her eyes and he was happy to see that he enjoyed the view as he focused in on her ass in front of him. He could take care of her if she would give him her real name that much was true he had the money and the means when she brought up Jackson he frowned. Jackson had lost himself to clubbing, partying and drugs and for once he was hoping this time his brother was better. He wanted his sober brother back the one that was before the drugs in high school. “I’m smart enough to not get involved with the things I know my brother comes for in this club. I’m not Jackson Diamond.”

When he asked her about New York she felt like he was a prince somehow he remembered her plan. She was stuck here right now but shit a couple lap dances from Rory and the other ballers she’d be free soon. As looked into his smiling face. More and more she felt in tune with him. She stood up as she walked to the other side stopping her private dance. What was she to tell him? I’m your brother’s drug dealer?

“To be honest I want to go, my mom.” She paused looking at him. “Why do you care I’m a stripper Rory. Look girls like me don’t mingle with dudes like you. You’re a come up in my world, if you’re looking for a girl find one with no baggage. Rory I am complex I sell drugs, I dance for a living, and barely got time for myself whatever this is boo, it’s not what you want. So go home call up one of those society girls and get a white fence because I’m not the girl you wife up. I’m the girl who you spend a night with.” As a Drake song came on she walked slowly and sensually to him. Her walk was to show him his fantasy but today she was looking to fulfill his desire. Straddling him she leaned all the way back and threw her hair in his face.

As her lip was so close to his for some stupid reason she did it. Yasmine kissed him softly as she looked into his eyes. “Go home Rory.”

Rory looked at her as she spoke about her mom and he could swear her eyes changed a bit when she did they got more sad. No girls like her didn’t mingle with guys like her but for him that was kinda the point it was different. He didn’t care that she stripped the drug dealing part was a little unsettling but he wasn’t one to judge someone else she had her reasons he was sure. He watched her stop the dance and he wasn’t even sure what to say other than stare at her when she walked towards him all thoughts of being a gentlemen went out the window with her. He let her sit on his lap wrapped his hands on her hips and leaned into the kiss. She tasted like an exotic wine and he pulled her closely into his lap feeling himself get hard at the action. He didn’t know how long they had kissed but he could swear the world finally stopped moving in the last few months. He opened his eyes as she pulled back.

“Only if you go home with me.” Rory said quietly he could do it help her escape the club give her that dream of New York all she had to was walk out with him. It was crazy he knew that but honestly that was how he felt he wanted to know the girl behind the mask and she wasn’t going to push him away. He’d come every night till she did. “Just do it clock out I’ll pay your fees for the night and go home with me.”

“Rory no.” She said standing up touching her lips. For one second she let herself slip into being young. It was stupid. Ronan and Kendrick would kill this boy over her. Neither of them like someone to mess with their money. She stepped back as she shook her head. “Listen this isn’t Pretty Woman and you not some guy who is going to sweep me away. My mother is dying from cancer and addiction. I don’t know the first thing about your life and you don’t know about mine. So just stop Rory okay whatever this is I’m not for it.” She said shaking her head knowing she was doing the right thing. She couldn’t follow what she had developed in her heart. A secret yearning for someone to take care of her because that’s never happened. She was always doing for herself or she had Gina.

“This isn’t what you want and I’m sticking to that I just slipped up. You’re sweet Rory but I’m not that girl. I don’t know who I am.” She said softly. “I thought I’d be gone from here, I thought I’d be free from all this shit. You don’t know what it’s like to struggle so how can you stop me from shaking at night? Have you ever heard gunshot besides at a race track? Rory our lives aren’t compatible don’t come back here.” Yasmine couldn’t help it she wiped her eyes through her mask. “I can’t be the woman you need.”

“I know enough about you that you don’t like doing this for a living. I know that you are way too beautiful to have assholes staring at you all night or to have my brother use you to score.  No I don’t know a lot about your life or at least I didn’t up till this point. Do you think I care honestly?” Rory asked watching her pull back from him and making sure to keep his voice low to not let attention to get to them in the club. The last thing he wanted was Philip or one of his goons coming and hauling her away or telling her to move on. “I come here to see you.”

“You can leave from here tonight all you have to do is walk about with me do you think I’m scared of Philip Montgomery my money could crush him. He can’t hold you here prisoner. You need money to get out of whatever shit you are in I’ll give it to you. Do you honestly want to stand here and tell me you enjoy this?” Rory asked quietly as he made his way slowly to her to not frighten her but she was crying he had seen her wipe the tears away under her mask. Once he reached her he gently placed his hands on her hips trailing his hands up her sides. “You aren’t the woman I need I could have anyone you are the one I want.”

Yasmine was closed off a year go she hardened herself. When Khalil left for New York and Kendrick demanded she never dated another hustler. This boy didn’t know her soul, the truth was she was locked down in her own heart. Pushing Rory away from her she shook her head. This wasn’t happening as her eyes blurred again because what girl wouldn’t want Rory? He was sweet, handsome, and had a big heart. Forget his wallet it was his heart that was enticing.

She knew what she had to do. It hurt her to even open her mouth and say this. “Boy you aren’t ready for me. You can’t handle me so as I just told your ass this isn’t that. This is money and you are money to me. You’re a fucking check so whatever you think this is. It isn’t that because I don’t fuck with tricks who break me off with money. Yo!” She said loudly so Black and Calvin would come over. Both of the burly bodyguards appeared as she looked sadly into his eyes. “He don’t get it yo he trying to stop my money. Get him out of here.”

“Mr. Devonshire please let’s go.” Calvin said looking at him. He smirked at Black who was cracking his knuckles.

Yasmine rushed away from the scene and briskly walked to back as she walked into the dressing room. Kicking her shoes off she slammed her body into a locker. As she closed her eyes and slid down the locker. As she started to weep into her hands. Her momma was dying, her sister was gone, and the first thing she ever wanted for herself she couldn’t have. Looking at a reflection she grabbed her heels and threw it directly into the mirror. The shards of glass surrounded her as she saw a woman who would never be happy in the pieces of the mirror.

Rory saw her pull away and felt his heartache at her holding his hands up as he saw the muscle arrive he stepped back. He could tell that she wanted something more but perhaps she was too afraid to admit it or someone was threatening her to not go with him. He watched her walk away and adjusted his pants to hide his erection something about her just did it for him he couldn’t explain what it was and she just stated they came from two separate worlds but she intrigued him. He stuffed his hands in his pockets walking past the security guards and out of the club maybe he could call Simon to find out what was haunting her so bad, find out who she was. Walking to his waiting jaguar he got inside vowing that he would be back as soon as he could he had her schedule memorized and if it meant coming every night she was working to earn her trust he’d do it.


Dani was in line with her cousin getting unhealthy hot dogs and beers for the fifth inning of the Hawks home game. After the funeral she had went home changed into her gym clothes had called Zach and together they went to the gym. Where she proceeded to beat the hell out of a punching bag that Zach held for over an hour, her release to deal with her father and afterwards Zach didn’t ask questions told her if she wanted to talk about it he was there. She came home had texted Jackson an apology asking to see him after the game, what she said to him wasn’t fair taking out things her father had said out on him. She realized when she sent the text she had done what her father wanted at the church, let him control her choice to want to be with Jackson and she only hoped Jackson would at least respond back now, unless she had already screwed it all up. She felt her phone buzz and smiled at the text back from him, telling her to come over after the game, she wasn’t a complete failure and her father didn’t win and knowing he still wanted to see her made her feel at least wanted by someone. She saw Zach wave his hand in front of her face and then before she could react her cousin had snatched the phone away. She saw the look of horror mixed with amusement on Zach’s face and she was pretty sure her face was flushing with embarrassment, she and Jackson had been careful with not letting people know.

“Give it back Zach. I’m serious it’s not what you think it is…ok maybe it is. I don’t know maybe it’s not, I just…he’s not like everyone says he is.” Dani said reaching her hand up to try and snatch it back from her cousin who was enjoying this way too much in her opinion. He had this half assed goofy grin on his face and was egging her on. Eventually she saw her cousin give it back looking at her waiting for an explanation. “You cannot tell my parents about this or Braden. It just happened. Come on I haven’t said anything about you and Scarlett to anyone even though you know you need to make a decision there.”

Zach finally handed her back the phone he laughed again knowing Dani was a bad liar. She couldn’t even pretend if she wanted to. As he looked at her eyes they were sad. Once again uncle Walter was a asshole. Something happened to Walter after Lowell stole everything from their family. It was clear he hadn’t recovered and he wasn’t going too. So Dani was once again playing with the wrath of uncle Walter. He remembered the depression Walter was in even years later. It was amazing to watch him give up like that and pull himself up. It was when he pulled himself up it got a little painful to watch. He started to lash out at everyone.

“My choices are none of your business. Only people I am hurting are Scarlett and Dante.” He mumbled sipping his beer. “Listen this isn’t about me it’s about you hooking Jackson you whore.” Zach and Dani always had a special bond due to him being bi-sexual. It was so hurtful to his father but in many ways it freed him from what Dani felt. His father’s expectations were extreme but he loved him. Dani was just exerting her independence after years. “I say go for it what can your dad and the rest of them say? You’re disowned Dani you’ve been disowned since you left Lex. It’s fine for you to be happy.”

“No they aren’t but I know you love Dante you’d told me so and I know Scarlett is just a good time for you right now. You were upset when Scarlett got clingy with you last week and you badgered me about being at the club. All I am saying is Dante is all kinds of amazing and you seem happy with him. I left with Jackson that night that was why I was late to dinner, we were together though you probably already guessed that.” Dani said handing the cashier money to cover the food and beers as she took a drink of her own beer. Now that she was calm she could talk about the church about all of it without crying or falling apart. “I like him he’s funny and smart, we have a good time together and he makes me feel I don’t know alive after all the Lex crap. He makes me happy Zach and that scares the shit out of me after what happened with Lex.”

“My dad went off at the church about everything with me working for DGI, dad brought up Lex brought up all of it how it is never good enough for him and I treated Jackson like shit about it. He’ll tell me it’s a mistake that I’ve failed him yet again. I always thought parents wanted their kids to be happy you know?” Dani said honestly after a week of keeping what she was feeling with Jackson in it was nice to lean on the one person she could count on with her heart Zach. Zach always had good advice about it and Zach was the only one that disliked Lex when he met him so his opinion was something she valued maybe even more than her brother. “I wasn’t supposed to develop feelings for him Zach he made it clear he doesn’t want that right now if ever. What am I supposed to tell him? Hey we’ve been fucking and it’s great but I also think you’re kinda amazing even if you are a mess I want to actually see you and not sneak around?”

This wasn’t about him right now but he was sure Dani wasn’t going to let it go. At the bottom of it was Dante was his heart but Scarlett was what he wanted. To be honest she was refreshing and yes she was clingy but she was sexy. Everything was amplified right now for him sexually Scarlett was it, while Dante was the man he loved. When he heard Dani talking about uncle Walter, he felt an instant anger ripping through him. The way he favored Braden and not Dani was unfair. Guilty as he felt about Scarlett and Dante he was even more guilty he wasn’t there to punch his uncle. Ever since Walter made a flip comment about his sexuality he’d wanted to deck him. To be honest there weren’t many Fraiser’s who didn’t want to punch him. Lucy was known for throwing things. He couldn’t wait to see his sister when she got out.

“Dani only reason you’re a failure is because he hasn’t gotten that his vendetta against Lowell isn’t our lives baby don’t stress okay? What Lowell did to uncle Walter was horrible but at the end of the day isn’t our issue. It’s his and we can’t live for him. You’ve been my cousin and best friend for years. I’m glad you are moving forward even if it is with Atlas Falls royal fuck up but that’s not the point right now. You are moving forward after Lex and that’s beautiful.”

Dani dropped the entire Dante and Scarlett thing at this point she knew her cousin would do the right thing. She got quiet when Zach called Jackson a fuck up, people made mistakes and she was one of them they all were. She supposed she was moving forward even if she felt she wasn’t ready last week. She was ready now, the trick was figuring out how to tell that to Jackson and for once she let what Zach said sit to be happy, she was going to be and she really didn’t care what her dad thought about it. She just needed a few days to put it into the right words for Jackson tell him that she wanted more with him, to date him and hopefully he didn’t run for the hills. She saw Talia walking towards them and this time her co-worker and friend looked out of her element but it was the only way to get her her brother and Talia together.

“I mean it Zach scouts honor you can’t tell anyone about me and Jackson. At least not yet till I figure out what we both want or how to tell him what I want. If you do instead of a damn gym bag I’ll hit you.” Dani said a hint of teasing in her voice as she waved at Talia walking towards them. She looked up at her cousin he knew she meant it, she and Lucy spent hours hitting bags along with Miranda as they made their way back to their seats. “Promise me Zach.”

“Promise I will say nothing but you are such a bad liar it’ll be out in a couple of weeks. To be clear I’m voting against this okay? Your dad is already a asshole now he’s going to have merit in his ass to be a asshole to you.” He said dropping it as Talia approached them wearing nothing but a basketball jersey and a pair of heels. She was rocking a fitted cap and leather gloves. He started laughing instantly as he saw her.

“Talia you do know this is a Atlas Falls Ravens strip game correct? Our basketball team isn’t due to next year the Nguyen’s are bringing the team from B-More here.”

Talia looked down at her jersey. “I thought it was cute and the colors look better on my skin tone so whatever the guys love it.” She said playfully looking around. “For a gay and a hag you two don’t keep the guys around. I’m sorry those are the guys I should be sitting with.” Pointing to the skyboxes. “Not these overweight plumbers whose crack I’m sure I’m smelling.” She smiled at the man in front of her as she sat down. “What he smells like butt.”

Zach lowered his head did she have to insult everywhere they went? It was like being around Carrie Bradshaw from Sex In The City and Karen Walker from Will & Grace. “That’s rude Talia.”

“What’s rude is the fact Braden isn’t here at least he’s hot.” Looking at Dani she smirked. “So did you two do your magic? I mean where is the dreamy DA? A girl like me deserves a hot body like him. Sorry Dani your bro is hot.”

“Gross! Braden isn’t hot he’s my cousin.” Zach laughed sipping his beer.

“Say what you want but I know that boy wants the Talia. Do they have champagne here?” She asked looking at the beer clearly disgusted.

Dani shot a glare at her cousin she knew it was dumb to keep what was going on with her and Jackson a secret she wasn’t stupid but after what happened at the church she needed time to do what she was good at, come up with a plan. When Talia approached them in a jersey and heels she almost spit her beer and she let the hag comment slide, she liked her jeans and shirt while at the stadium. She could have probably got them into the skybox she knew the Devonshire’s had one here they owned the stadium but it thrilled her nephew to be in on the action courtside. She smiled and waved as her brother, Dante and Dylan made their way to them finally lines were long during innings.

“Yay you’re back!” Dani said rising from her seat and moving over to make sure her brother took a seat next to Talia and so that Dylan could sit on the other side of her. She watched her brother scoot in and give Talia a small smile, honestly they had bumped into each other a few times at DGI and Selina was getting married. Plus she kinda owed Talia for not bringing up that she left the club with Jackson at work. “You guys get the signature?” Dani asked wanting to make sure her nephew got Connor Hessington’s signature during halftime seeing Dylan hold up his flyer she gave him a smile.

“You spoil him.” Braden said watching his sister he supposed one of the perks of PR was at least having an in with local celebrities.

Dylan had been collecting signatures for the entire roster all season and since his sister ran PR for DGI which owned the team he had almost completed his quest. Not to mention the fact that Connor was Lex’s younger brother and his sister was never above not calling in her favors. He knew something happened at the church but wasn’t quite sure what it was, he’d seen her sitting with Jackson on his way out after shaking a few hands. It wasn’t his business and his sister had made that clear that she was done with people telling her who to date when she came home. He saw she had relaxed since they left and he attributed that to Zach he gave her a small smile before he looked at Talia.

Leaning into her brother’s ear she grinned. “Call it the perk of being the only aunt not to mention you know Connor owes me. Now quit moping and talk to Talia you and I both know Selina is getting married in a few weeks. She made her choice when she went back to Chauncey and I don’t like to see you so unhappy. New chapters for both of us this time. No more letting mom and dad dictate things this year.”

Braden looked at his sister and felt like maybe it was time Selina was getting married in a few weeks and right now there was nothing he could do to stop it. He hadn’t been on a date in well over a year thanks to work and everything going on since his sister came home. However, he did like Lowell’s assistant even if he and Lowell butted heads when he went to him with case information when it tied to DGI employees or subsidiaries. He’d been gawking at Talia for a while and now he supposed was a good as time as any to start fresh like his sister pointed out. He looked back over at Talia. “I’m glad you came.”

“Glad to be here it’s a little strange considering I had no clue on which team was playing. Apparently I wore a basketball jersey.” She shrugged as the opposing team scored a home run. Talia jumped up cheering when people looked at her evilly she wondered what was up? “That’s the wrong team isn’t it?” She laughed as Dylan was staring at her. Looking at him she blew a kiss at him. “He’s adorable. I wish I was that young again on second thought I had awful hair and terrible skin. The kids lucky.”

“You know to be so smart Talia is a ditz.” Zach laughed watching Dylan staring at Talia. “I think my little cousin has a crush.” He laughed as he whispered to Dani. “I don’t blame her she’s adorable in a grown woman who never grew up all the way.”

Dani let out a laugh at her cousin before turning her attention back to the game and watching as Connor took down the court to shoot a wild three pointer. She was sure the Hessington’s were here too and shaking her head she refused to think about it anymore. She blocked out the church, her father and Pittsburgh as she looked at her watch counting down the minutes till she could leave heart racing a bit at the anxiety to see Jackson again. Smiling at Dylan’s face lighting up when Connor threw his another strike in the game overall the day wasn’t that bad.

Braden looked at Zach with a playful glare as he saw him and Dante turn back to the game honestly Talia was what he needed fun. When was the last time anyone in their family ever let loose and have fun? It had been a long year of battles and inside tension and he had to laugh at her when the opposing team scored a home run and he admitted she looked amazing in a basketball jersey at a baseball game. He looked over at his nephew and his sister staring at Connor pitching for the inning, they always had a special bond had since Dylan was born. He placed his beer down as he looked over at Talia wringing his hands.

“If you haven’t figured it out yet Dani did this as a set up, I haven’t had the chance to ask you much over the last year other than to torture your boss when it comes up. Needless to say you’re really gorgeous and despite what my meathead of a cousin says you’re smart too and I didn’t think asking you at work would be appropriate…but would you like to have dinner with me sometime?” Braden asked hoping his sister was right about this entire thing and Talia wanted to actually date him and if not he felt like an idiot he was older than her and had a teenage son. He wrung his hands a bit more as the crowd cheered at the strikeout. “I mean a real date flowers, wine, dinner the works not some loud stadium where we can barely hear each other.”

“I’ve actually been playing dumb for a long time. It works for me so people never know what I’m truly up too. I however want to say that a date isn’t an option, it’s a demand. And about damn time big brother because I was starting to wonder if I wasn’t sexy enough.” Talia flirted back placing her hand on his knee.

“Nice slam dunk Connor.” Talia said playfully winking at Braden. “Well you just hit the home run Mr. DA.”


Ronan had taken matters into his hands after Thor had left the office making sure that he made the calls he needed, Thor was a fool if he thought the families would ever take him seriously. Of course the ones he had called had given him their support he was the one that kept things running. Without him the trade would be dead and they all would suffer, Thor thought it was all about legality in truth being legal helped but it was more than that in their world. In their world you needed the clout behind it He had already sent Kendrick out to find Benny Ruzzo, Benny was behind far behind on the money that he owed him he had been a patient man and then he heard Benny turned. Thankfully his man on the inside had confirmed it for him Benny had talked to the feds which was why he cancelled the last shipment at the last minute. He made Kendrick follow Benny to make sure and now Benny had to face his fate.

“Benny…Benny.” Ronan said as he approached his once long term associate watching Kendrick behind him in the chair pinning him in place. “You ran Benny packed a bag and everything.”

Benny Ruzzo looked at Ronan Madden and then up at Ronan’s right hand man Kendrick he knew running was a bad idea no matter what the feds had told him. Now however he knew his fate was sealed. The only option now was that he could beg for his life and that Ronan would be merciful to him, bestow upon him a fate that Ronan’s father would have awarded him. Honestly business hadn’t been good for him, he had gotten behind on payments so when the feds came to him for information in order to keep the business afloat he had agreed to snitch.

“Please Ronan, your father and I were friends. He would understand.” Benny managed to mumble out not even knowing if it would be enough.

Ronan honestly got no pleasure out of this part of the job making an example of those that betrayed the family but it was something that had to be done. His father had his first talk with him about it when he was twenty-two when he attended his first meeting like this with his father. Friends or not, those that snitched couldn’t be trusted they had risked the business, their enemies and their lively hoods. Benny Ruzzo was now in that category he had watched Benny and his father’s friendship through the years. Benny’s restaurant was a great place that had been used forever to run drugs and cash through, Kendrick had the proof though that he had talked to the feds they couldn’t come back from that.

“Kendrick made sure to take what you said to the feds and the evidence that you turned they won’t have a trail. What happened Benny? Was my father’s grace and friendship not enough for you?” Ronan asked, as he looked at Kendrick and the other men in the room he head the door open and watched as Jamal walked in. He nodded his head at Kendrick and others began the beat down untying Benny from the chair.

Kendrick had caught Benny Ruzzo on his way out of town a packed bag and evidence that he was planning on turning against Ronan. Benny unlike a younger man that had snitched and been caught turned himself over with dignity. They had taken him back to the underground parking garage and the room where he had proceeded to beat the information out of him along with Ivan three hours later they had what they needed. The feds had been sniffing for weeks but they didn’t know the full story yet they hadn’t gotten close to the club yet so they didn’t know about Yasmine, Jamal or the others inside nor did they know that was the main flow for everything. He had a sense of power as he laid the beatdown on Benny until Ronan had finished business with the families after Ronan and he and Money had made sure they kept him on the brink. He helped Benny to his feet as he watched the older man take the beating and spit blood on the concrete.

“Boss man asked you a question.” Kendrick said looking at Ronan and his eyes caught Jamal’s. He could have swore he saw the younger kid look almost disgusted at the action and shook it off before looking at Ronan. “Now answer.”

“Business hasn’t been well for years Ronan ever since your father died, Carla made better offers and yet I was still loyal to your family. Then you raised the fee and I couldn’t repay it. I made a mistake Ronan, the feds they threatened me, threatened my kids.” Benny said a sob wracking through his body as he felt Kendrick lower his knees to the floor.

Ronan walked to the table in the room picking up the baseball bat as he motioned for Kendrick to raise Benny up, he thought about this part the most. The torture that he had to inflict he would start with Benny’s knees once they were broken it would be a shot to end it. Sometimes the tortures were worse but with Benny he couldn’t, he remembered having dinners with Benny and his parents at the restaurant Benny was like family. He blocked the thoughts out as he turned around swinging the bat as hard as he could against Benny’s right knee, he heard the loud crack the scream that accompanied the shattering of the bone. He looked at the men around the room that were there the most trusted in his circle the ones that were allowed to watch so that they knew what it meant to snitch. What it meant to betray his family he watched Benny’s strained face heard his sobs as the man sagged in Kendrick’s arms. He motioned to raise Benny back up as he gripped his hands on the bat and his eyes met the men in the room.

“You do not snitch. None of you Benny worked with my father he knew the risks you snitch to the feds or the cops this is what you will have at the end.” Ronan said coldly as he swung at the left leg hearing the same reaction as before even if Benny wanted to run he couldn’t now. He motioned to Kendrick to let him go and watched as Benny crawled pulling his body towards the door in agony.  Ronan stopped him by placing his shoe on his back applying pressure as Kendrick handing him the 9mm handgun before he leaned down to Benny’s ear. “You will die now. I’ll make sure the girls are looked after.”

Pulling back from Benny’s ear he pressed the barrel of the gun to his skull pulling the trigger, the echo of the shot ringing in the garage as he stepped back from Benny’s now lifeless body. Handing the gun off to Kendrick as Kendrick handing him a cloth to wipe the blood from his face as he watched the pool form under Benny’s head. He never closed his eyes during an execution something else his father had taught him a real man and boss handled things head on. They didn’t cower behind someone else to do what needed to be done and the fear that it installed in the organization kept things in order it was the way it worked. He saw Kendrick look around the room for weakness as he got another clean rag and wiped his hands getting rid of the blood on them as well. Rolling down the sleeves of his shirt he was grateful that there was no blood elsewhere on him.

“Benny made the mistake of speaking to the feds and not paying his debts when they were due. Instead of coming to me first about the loan or Kendrick he went to the feds. Benny was a good friend of my fathers he had done business with us for years. Benny took care of me when I was coming up under my father. None of that matters now, I do not care who you are or where you are from you go to the feds or the cops you will have the same fate as Benny.” Ronan said as Ivan handed him his jacket so that he could place it back on as he adjusted the cuffs on his shirt. He watched the younger men in the organization look and stare at the body that was why he asked them there so they understood. “Benny’s two daughters are to be left alone I gave the man my word. Is that understood?”

Ronan waited for the yes replies around the room as it fell into silence as he looked at Jamal who was still staring at the body. Perhaps he had been wrong the young college student that came to Kendrick all those months ago wasn’t what he needed at the university. It wasn’t hesitation he saw on Jamal’s face and if it was he was hiding it very well he wondered if it was fear. When one of the men came to tell him that Brooke was still at the gravesite he nodded. “Is that understood Jamal?”

Jamal watched the color seeping from the man’s face. He took a deep breath as his hand was shaking. His eyes were looking directly at him. As if the man knew he wasn’t made for this world. How did he get so stupid? How did he just not see that this was a grave mistake? “This my life. I got it.” He said as he watched Money and Ivan quickly pick up Benny’s body. He turned around walking with Kendrick.

“Did he have to kill that man in front of us? What was the point of that?” He said watching Ronan getting in a limo.

“To remind us Jamal he is in charge this is his game. I will text you about the next run.” Kendrick said looking at Jamal who had just witnessed his first body something he had been worried he wasn’t ready to see. He left him standing there knowing that he had to return to the limo with Ronan.


Hunter thanked the bartender as he poured him his whiskey on the rocks and he loosened his tie, he rarely drank a fear of turning out like his mother. He needed it though burying his father had been harder than he thought it was at the gravesite they had all broke. Brooke was still there having told him and Anderson to leave, Anderson had taken it upon himself to take their mother home. He had left the gravesite in a separate car from Max who had rode back with her parents and instead of returning home he had instead went to the resort. What was he still doing with Max he knew she was cheating, his mother knew she was cheating and she doubted it had escaped her parents that she was cheating either. He wasn’t even sure he was in love with Max anymore, they had been together on and off in college she wanted to be at DGI he loved city development. They had the most splashy wedding of high society in the last decade and now he was bored, she was bored and they lived as complete strangers. They lived like his parents and raising the glass to his lips he took a long drink, that was the clue it was time to move on. He refused to end up like his father married to a woman he liked but at the same time couldn’t stand or worse resented.

Looking over at the seat next to him he saw Bliss sit down and take a seat next to him, she looked sexy and he instantly regretted that thought she was still Max’s sister. It would not be a smart idea to think like that at the moment, even if the fact they had seen each other so often over the last week was something he was always thinking about. At work he thought about her, laying next to an empty bed he thought about her, he was always checking on her at the resort in truth he felt like she got him. She had no real family in town, ok that wasn’t true her father was Lowell but she wasn’t close to her siblings, her mother was off in Europe and it showed that Tess had little regard for being there for her. In many ways Tess reminded him of his own mother, Brenda Kincaid often put him to the back her other children and priorite came first. He got that from Bliss that her mother would rather be anywhere other than there with her. He watched her order her drink and then finally looked into her eyes feeling a small smile cross his face.

“Thank you for coming today to the funeral it means a lot. I know you didn’t know my father or anything but it’s been nice to see you this past week. I didn’t think it would be like this you know? This hard saying goodbye to him.” Hunter said quietly he could feel his defenses going down around her and for once it was nice to not have that front. Not have to be the rock that his family and others looked too in truth it was killing him to say goodbye to his father. He could sense her wanting to say something to him. “I just wanted you to know that, thank you.”

Bliss smiled at Hunter wondering what they were doing? He was honestly becoming a friend and that wasn’t the biggest problem. Taking off her elbow length gloves as she wore at the funeral. She severely hated her sister but she wasn’t a whore. What she was planning on doing to Max, and Hunter was shady at it’s core. She truly wasn’t sure he deserved her hurting their marriage. Hunter was a good guy and more they talked the more she became jealous of Max. After a years of wanting to have Max’s life it felt even worse now because he was her only friend. The only one who mattered that is. Her family wasn’t speaking to her it was disrespect to Jackie for them to acknowledge her.

“You’re welcome but we do need to chat.” She said twirling the champagne flute between her fingers. She was breaking something before it started. “I’m very comfortable with you Hunter it’s taking something away from your marriage. I can’t sit here and condone that I think my sister husband is an amazing man. That I catch myself wondering if I should be around you. I’ll be another man’s woman soon, girls like me don’t end up single for long but Hunter you don’t deserve this.” Taking a sip of the golden liquid. “I don’t want to be the woman who seduces her sister husband. History isn’t on our favor if you look at my mom and your dad. So why are we tempting fate? Let’s call a spade a spade you and Max are having a moment and I’m a look alike replacement.”

Bliss gulped the rest of her champagne. “So whatever this friendship is let’s stop before the tabloids and staff start spreading gossip.” Removing her charcoal grey coat she wore a sleek black leather and lace pinskirt with a crisp white button up shirt. Her red Prada pumps had a broach on them. She was laid out in golden accessories.

“I’m comfortable with you too Bliss I don’t know what else to say about it other than that you are my friend. Or I would at least like to think we are. You aren’t taking anything away from my marriage it was in shambles long before you ever arrived in town.” Hunter said watching her twirling the champagne flute in her hand and he waved to the bartender he wanted one too. The thought of her with another man for some reason sent his senses on high certainly Bliss was beautiful but was she ready for that she just arrived in town. “I think we can still be friends Bliss we will see each other at family functions I am still married to your sister for now anyway.”

“Let them spread the gossip trust me that is what your father pays Simon Rutherford and Dani Fraiser a lot of money to do swing the tabloids. I don’t care about what they print about me Bliss or any of it. I haven’t since my dad died I have thick skin so we’re used to it if every gossip rag printed every detail of my family or yours they would have a novel.” Hunter said looking at her and then taking a sip of his own drink. He knew that he and Max were having more than a moment if anything they were having a slew of moments that had collided now. There was no turning back for him and Max know.. “Have you ever done this lost someone this close to you?”

“My grandfather he was amazing. You ever met a man who could put a spell on the room? He entered it and God it was like he was this amazing force. Everyone took notice and Papa was so charming in a Texas way.” She laughed at his cowboy boots and big gallon hats. “I used to think he was immortal you know? Like nothing could chip or break my Papa until cancer ate away at him. He smoked so many cigs you would have thought it would have happened sooner. I loved him very much because when Tess was brokering deals in the European art world and Lowell couldn’t be at my events he was. He was always there at school dances, and everything then he wasn’t.” Raising her hand at the bartender to refill her glass.

“You’re not a good listener Mr. Kincaid.” Bliss smiled at him. “You can prove the tabloids wrong but what about us? Can we fool ourselves? I can see myself wanting more than a friendship Hunter is what I’m saying. I’m in the middle of hating this family and desperately wanting them near. It’s a long road I’m on but stealing you from Max would kill any momentum. Hunter you are a very desirable man and I think she’s stolen your mojo from you. Maybe you see nothing wrong in this but trust me.” Placing the champagne flute to her neck. “I see it and what I want is so wrong.”

Hunter couldn’t imagine losing the only stable person you had to cancer but he could relate to having a stable parent and then being taken now that his father was gone. Despite his parents Steven had always made them a priority and he was ever grateful for that he attended recitals, parties, graduations when he could and if his schedule would allow. His father could also charm a room it was something he had done since he was elected charmed the room and voters. When Bliss mentioned that he wasn’t listening he figured she was right he wasn’t and right now he could fool himself with her.

“I think we can still be friends Bliss I can’t fight fire with fire with your sister. I have a lawyer looking for a loophole to get a divorce from Max I won’t be tied to her forever or at least that is the plan right now.” Hunter said as he took a sip of his drink and he looked at her. She had lovely eyes and the gold accents she wore compliment her skin tone and her hair. “You don’t have to steal me from Max if my heart is not with Max you do know that right? As for your family I say give it some time I have a feeling your father will convince them to come around your siblings at least. He does have a way about him,.”

Bliss looked at him as she grabbed her purse. “Trust me stealing isn’t my thing I just take.” She said scooting over a seat to him. As she played with a stray curl of hair that was determine to be unruly. “I’m stubborn always have been but you might have me beat.” She placed her hand onto his touching his hot skin. Touching his fingers examining his hand she smirked playfully. “Sometimes I wonder how different my life would have been if I was with my father? If he wasn’t a coward, would I have a guy like you.”

As she looked down at her drink as she let go of his hand. Twisting her ring on her finger as she looked at his handsome face. He seemed at peace with her but she wasn’t with him. This wasn’t how she expected this to go. “I wanted to steal you, I wanted to take you from her because she has the life I’ve always desired. To be honest who wouldn’t want you? Compassionate, smart and handsome not to mention I can tell you make love tenderly.” She said with her words dripping with sex. “It’s too bad we didn’t meet before you and her because trust  me I’d do things that she couldn’t.” When she turned her head she saw the bartender looking shocked. Then she saw Max entering with a mink on. The bitch had fashion sense. “Don’t look now but looks like I spoke up the wicked witch.”

“You take initiative you remind me a lot of your sister now you know she is cutthroat in the boardroom if that is where you and Lowell are planning on making you be at DGI. Perhaps you are more alike than you care to admit. You have no idea how stubborn I can be.” Hunter said watching as she picked up his hand and played with it, he was crossing a dangerous road he knew that but something about her was magnetic it pulled him in. He considered himself a good lover one that aimed to please whomever he was with. When she mentioned Max he refused to move his hand back from hers if his wife could be out screwing Philip then he had every right to be spending some time with a friend. “So you did.”

Max had went to Steven’s funeral honestly the entire week she had put up a front of faithful and dutiful wife to Hunter she hardly thought it was classy not too. But in between work meetings she and Philip had made time to get together at the hotel over the week. Just because Steven was dead didn’t mean that she was just going to stop doing what she had been for the last few months. Philip Montgomery was everything her husband wasn’t adventurous, dangerous and a God in bed. She was bored with Hunter that was the conclusion that she had come to the last week, they were boring together and years later they had nothing in common. Which was probably why she had began her affair with Philip months ago when she ran into him at the club. There was something alluring about the club that everyone in the city partied at she and Hunter used to go in college with her brother. Speaking of Jackson she was glad that her brother and twin was back in town and at DGI.

She didn’t know how he convinced his dad to let him on but she was glad about it, it was weird seeing him around Dani at work though not that she hated Dani or anything, but the girl was still innocent. She guessed she owed her for keeping her affair with Philip out of the press so far even though she knew the publicist for the company had objected many times to it during their meetings about it. Arriving at the resort after getting out of work though she was pissed to see her baby sister sitting at the bar with her husband. Who in the hell did she think she was that she could just come into her life and from the look of it get cozy with her husband. Looking over at Hunter she saw him looking at her with hollow eyes so it was on, if he really wanted to play this game with her it would mean war. She had at least enough class that she wasn’t planning on fucking his brother, judging by Hunter’s eyes though with her sister that was what her husband was thinking.

“Yes you did and she is right here. What are you doing Bliss daddy didn’t want you, my mother doesn’t want you so you have to slink to my husband and throw yourself at him?” Max asked coldly as she approached them watching the bartender politely exit for the door. The bar was quiet which was expected and frankly Hunter’s family owned the resort watching them both she picked up the full glass of champagne in front of her sister and took a drink. “What are you celebrating exactly again?”

“My taste buds just seem to always require champagne, we were actually toasting to you dear sister.” She said sassily as she folded her arms looking at him. Here was a perfect male and she was throwing him away. It seemed very clear this was her time to let Max know she wasn’t a weak at all. She was a threat to everything she’d ever had. Tapping her nail on the glass she smirked as her eyes glinted. Clearly unbothered by her sister’s jab.

“Hunter I know this is your wife but I have to ask for a moment between my sister and myself. I would like to set some ground rules with how this bitch will speak to me.” Bliss was deadly calm. “Matter of fact you don’t have go anywhere, I have been itching to tell you this. The society princess, the girl who always was in the picture well sadly you aren’t that girl anymore. I’m going to be the face of DGI soon enough and when I’m done stealing our father’s love and attention maybe I’ll work on your mother. I’m not worried about love when I’ll be running a billion dollar empire so save your love parental jabs and let’s get to the nitty gritty. You are intimidated by Hunter and my friendship and where we will go. I would be too.” She said coyly smirking in Max face. “You know here I was fighting what I so clearly want. Now you’ve made it so easy to see Hunter will be mine.” Winking at Hunter seductively, Bliss leaned over the bar grabbing a glass and the bottle. “I find women snarking at each other so boring, but you are proving what I assumed from the moment I revealed myself. You are scared of me.”

“Scared of what with you? You’re trash just like your mommy was trash all those years ago make a play sister I dare you. Our father may of sent you to all the best schools in Europe but he never really gave you the time of day never entrusted his company too you. Hell he’d rather give the company to my twin over your ass and that is saying a lot. You are the mistake that he made, one that he regrets trust me on that one that is why he kept you so hidden all these years.” Max spat back watching Hunter lean back and away from her sister she’d deal with him later right now this was between her and her sister. Bliss thought it would be that simple that she could just come in and disrupt her life no that was not going to happen. “That is your big play to attempt to steal Hunter?”

Max let out a laugh as she took the bottle from Bliss and moved it out of her reach watching Bliss’s eyes as she did so. Tipping the bottle up she dosed her sister’s coat in the liquid Bliss wanted to play she better learn that she played for keeps. Setting the bottle back down on the counter she spoke. “Go sniff elsewhere my mother may of been too classy to tell your whore of a mother that over twenty years ago I’m not. Or I will destroy you starting at the company I’ll make sure the press eats you alive and trust me I have daddy wrapped around my finger enough to do it.”

Bliss sipped the champagne and then tossed it in her face. “Your mother was a loser in this all of this. If she was on her game then my mother, wouldn’t have gotten our father. Just like I’m getting Hunter.” She said softly as her eyes narrowed. “You have no idea what my master plan is. How far I’ll go to ensure you don’t have a happy ending dear sister. You are a leech to him never letting him reach his greatness but I see it. I see what we could be and it is eating you alive isn’t it? How a another woman could warm Hunter’s bed after all you are warming Philip’s?”

So it had began? It was clear that she was about to go to war with Max but how far would Max go? “The truth is that you couldn’t handle me, your mother couldn’t handle mine. Let me tell you that you may, have more moxie than Jackie but in Atlas Falls history has a tendency to repeat itself. Let’s see what happens this time?” Bliss hissed as she got up. “It was great seeing you sister dear.”

Max glared at her sister as her face dripped with champagne and she took a step towards her only to be stopped by Hunter. What in the hell was he doing defending her sisters precious honor, she wanted to roll her eyes the fake concern was damn near laughable. Bliss wanted to fight dirty she could too Hunter wasn’t stupid in fact their prenup was so iron clad he has as much to lose as she did and a Devonshire never lost and her sister would learn that. One thing she had over her sister and her siblings she could say was drive to never lose, she grabbed Bliss’s arm tightly refusing to let go when Hunter tried to stop her.

“Let’s see then shall we. I won’t warn you again little sister stay the fuck away from my husband. Or you’ll find yourself on the outside of a family who already doesn’t want you. I’m not my mother and I won’t be backing down while you try to worm your way into my husband’s bed.” Max spat anger rising in her, eventually Hunter made her let go. She looked at Bliss with hatred in her eyes challenging her before taking a step back. “You wanted a war you have one.”

Hunter had moved from his seat to pull Max back as staff began looking into the bar area Max always knew how to put on a show and he had been caught nearly red handed. Truthfully he was trapped at least until his lawyer could figure out a way out of his prenup with Max something years later he was cursing, he had been foolish and in love at the time. Lowell had insisted it that they sign one and now he stood to lose half of what he came into the marriage with if he walked which meant his part of the resort and his trust fund. Max’s lawyers could easily disprove her affair with Philip as he only had a few pictures and clean ones of that with them at XES nothing solid yet. Bliss however he could see himself being with and that was something was now weighing on him. Bliss got him in ways he wasn’t sure Max ever would and seeing them go at it he realized now was not the day to really let them duke it out.

“It was good to see you again Bliss. Call me if you need anything in your suite. Max drop it.” Hunter said apologetically to Bliss hoping she understood he did care about her but he had just buried his father. Max he shot a warning look she did it embarrassed him on the day he buried his father she could sleep alone at their house not that she wouldn’t be anyway but he’d trash her all over the papers and make sure they knew trouble was brewing at home. “I mean it wife don’t push your luck I’d hate to have to think of what I could tell the waiting reporters about where you really were all day.”

Max shot Hunter a glare knowing now that he spoke the gloves were off between them before she looked at Bliss. “Get out of here before I change my mind.”

Bliss clutched her shoulder as swiftly cut her eyes at Max smiling at her sister. “If you think that’s all I have in store for you Max.” She laughed looking her sister. “Every project you have at DGI matter fact all of you have. I will be apart of this company and family even if you try to block it because bitch I’ll make your life hell.” She said walking off looking at the staff.

“What in the hell are you all looking at?” Bliss snapped at them as they pretended to get busy. “I’ll be seeing you both soon.”


Greer blotted her lips one last time looking at the reflection of herself in the mirror. Her hair was dripping wet from being in the pool. It had been five years since father first explained what the Devonshire’s had done to her. It was so much pressure on them to finally get what they’d wanted it. The pool was heated and the weather was cool but warm enough that she could take dip. It wasn’t quite warm enough but she’d set one man’s blood boiling. As she grabbed her sheer sarong made out mesh. She knew she was looking delicious the lace white bikini made her feel even more seductive. Watching Zerick appear with Chauncey and Lowell was a shock. They were laughing and it all seemed to easy. He was already worming his way inside. This should be harder but with Zerick and her it came all too easy. When a mover came in with a large table. She pointed in the dining room.

Rushing out of the house she ran directly into Zerick arms. “Darling where have you been?” She said playfully kissing him. “The pool is amazing.” Not even acknowledging the other two men she’d studied for the last five years. Fixing her husbands tie she smiled at the men before her. “I’m sorry I must seem so rude, we’re newlyweds I can’t keep hands off of him.” She touched the stubble on his face. “No matter what he says I’m not that bad of a cook and if you’re our neighbors I insist on us having some dinner party or something.” Falling into Zerick arms as her green eyes connected with Chauncey sending sexual energy toward him from a glance. As she tilted her neck she turned to Lowell.

“Greer Westwood, and you’ve already met my handsome and successful husband.” She giggled again kissing him. “I insist please come with me to the backyard I’ll order the chef to get you all scotch.”

Lowell was happy another family of wealth had moved next door. Maybe Greer could give Jackie something to do. She was becoming too invested in DGI and everything he had built. She hadn’t had someone to gossip with in a long while and now maybe the girl would do. Something about her eyes were very familiar it was as if she was someone he knew. He shook off the thought because they were from Europe. As he looked at Chauncey he patted his son back. “Zerick you were telling me you have connections in Saudi Arabia that’s amazing because I just got some ideas about that side of the world. DGI is stepping into the the energy world. I know a sheik you should tell me about your work experience we are looking at new blood at DGI.”

“Please don’t get him started on work, I didn’t catch either of your names.” Greer caught herself nearly stating Lowell last name.

Zerick had been thrilled when the tycoon and his son had come to the house first that meant they were intrigued and now it began being a good host playing a part. He had given them a tour of the estate as he saw Greer swimming in the pool doing her part, tantalize and tease the mark. He had to remind himself it was all a game as Lowell attempted to make small talk and polite conversation with him over the tour. Zerick wrapped his arm around Greer pulling her close and into a searing kiss it was all part of the show they were to appear as newlyweds until the right moment of course. When she pulled back he signaled for the chef to go ahead and prepare the drinks for them they could take them in the sitting room or by the pool he’d let Lowell and his son who couldn’t stop staring at Greer decide.

“Yes I know a few sheiks I thought DGI wasn’t in the energy game yet mainly weapons, software and hotels. Right now I am content Mr. Devonshire as an outside contractor it allows Greer and I to spend time together and I’m not tied down to a permanent office.” Zerick said looking at Lowell he made a note that DGI was going into energy and oil he knew Chauncey wasn’t on that project. No Chauncey had a big defense contract that he was working on for some new missiles that DGI had been perfecting. “What type of energy are you looking into and who is heading up the project? We actually choose Atlas Falls from overseas because Greer saw the house online and we wanted a change of scenery isn’t that right dear?”

Chauncey had went with his father to met the couple next door honestly he couldn’t look at wedding colors one more time or he’d get a headache. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Selina he did it made sense to marry her, she had been there since Logan died when Maddie was born. He however was so busy at work trying to prove himself to his father over the last few months prove he could give him DGI. He was the most qualified he had done everything that his father had ever asked of him. However now his father was letting Rory in and Jackson he was still livid about that, his drug addicted brother leading up what could turn out to be a major project left a bad taste in his mouth, it wasn’t fair he had worked the hardest put in the most work. He had noticed the house when they came in more so he had noticed the blonde in the pool and the ridiculously fine body she had. Watching the water crash over her skin as she stroked he hadn’t taken his eyes off her since they arrived. He hadn’t cheated on Selina in over six months and he considered that a record, his last fling had been a brunette that he met on a business trip in DC. He watched them as a couple and for some reason he felt her watching him and turning to Greer he caught her eyes a hint of flirtation behind them she was stunning. Chauncey extended his hand to her taking hers in his hand and placing a delicate kiss on it.

“Chauncey Devonshire and this is my father Lowell. We saw the house was being moved into last week and since we haven’t had neighbors since I was a child we thought it would be time to introduce ourselves. Your husband was telling us about all the contract work he has been doing for various companies he is somewhat of a shark as we like to call them.” Chauncey said rumor had it if you wanted an energy deal Zerick was the man to see in the business world. Zerick could strike a deal with anyone at a fair price and was known to haggle when needed to make sure whomever had hired him got the best deal. “What about you are you involved in the contracts too? Zerick wouldn’t say what you do, you have a lovely home the pool is stunning.”

“Chauncey maybe you could introduce Greer to Selina who is Chauncey’s fiance.” He said trying to sink his claws into Zerick. No doubt he’d heard about him. The boy had taken over plenty of company’s and even helped him via Rainer Goulding bury Forbes Montgomery when he tried a coup on DGI. Something that he hadn’t forgotten having a shark on his side like Zerick would be amazing. As he sat down in the pool chair he watched Greer who looked so familiar. Her eyes were haunting. “Mr. Westwood you’ve had some impressive raids in your young life. I don’t know if you remember because you have made so many since then. You assisted my nephew Rainer in helping strike against Forbes Montgomery.”

At one point they were all friends. How could it all go so downhill? He betrayed Walter, destroyed Pierre, and left Forbes in the cold. The only one who had his loyalties was Tony. His entire adult life he’d destroyed his own relationships with friends. As he watched Greer appearing from behind the bar with a silver platter and three drinking glasses. “What do you think about possibly joining DGI?”

Greer heard the words and giggled as she sat the drinks down in front of each man. Her giggle looked like a excited housewife for her husband. It however had other true motives. Lowell was easier than she thought, her father had said that he’d be susceptible due to Zerick and her work at DGI Europe. The air was changing and it was becoming cold. Her nipples became harder through the fabric as she removed her sharong. Stepping back into the pool the skies darkened as she dipped into the pool. Starting her laps she came up for air.

“You are engaged to be married?” She asked to Chauncey as her eyes flirted playfully at him. As she stepped out of the water she smirked at Zerick as she flopped on his lap still watching Chauncey. “I’m sorry Mr. Devonshire I just truly wanted to kiss him. He’s amazing and at the moment he’s not taking any jobs.” Slowly kissing his lips she turned to Lowell. “Lowell correct you’re a jerk I know that look. That look on your face Zerick you said no jobs for six months.”

Zerick watched the men in the house watching Greer it was exactly what they wanted with Chauncey, he was a bit of a cad and Greer was a master at what they needed. He forced a smile with Lowell when he asked about working for DGI no he’d dangle a bit of carrot if he needed to just now of course when things began to heat up on Greer’s end is when he would take the bait. But by then the joke would be on Lowell and his son, they would have already taken the bait he pretended to mull over the business offer as he watched Chauncey watching his wife saw Chauncey adjust his pants, he was already having doubts about marrying Selina that was good to know.

“Greer is right I did promise her no job at least for a few weeks Mr. Devonshire we are considering this a bit of a second honeymoon if you will. I did help out Rainer when he needed it with Forbes I am glad I could be of assistance to your nephew he made me quite a bit of money on my end.” Zerick rubbed Greer’s back moving his way slowly down to the hem of her swimming bikini and let his fingers trace her hips. Chauncey was still staring at her and it intrigued him that Lowell seemed to not care, so daddy knew about Chauncey’s weakness that was good to know as well. “I may reconsider your offer in a few weeks a happy wife is a happy life isn’t that right Lowell?”

Chauncey watched Greer from the moment she walked away they were here to discuss business but he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She took off that sarong and dipped into the pool and he wasn’t focused on his father placating his ego with Zerick. No he was focused on the beautiful creature in the swimming pool and he knew what he wanted her, naked in his bed when she emerged from the pool Chauncey could feel himself harden at her nipples watching them change in the air. His phone buzzed and he saw the text from Selina it was dinner time and while he would like to avoid it he couldn’t. His mother wanted to go over some other details and he rose from his chair adjusting his pants hiding his semi hard erection and shaking Zerick’s hand his eyes never leaving Greer’s or the fact Zerick was running his fingers on her skin.

“My father is right Greer, I would love to introduce you to Selina stop by the mansion later in the week or DGI she would love to met you. It was nice meeting you Mr. Westwood unfortunately wedding plans call at the moment.” Chauncey said knowing his eyes lingered on Greer just a tad bit too long and he licked his bottom lip. He hadn’t been this turned on by a stranger in months and maybe it was last minute wedding jitters the fact he was really going to finally marry Selina he reached for Greer’s hand and kissed it before stepping back. “Father ready when you are Selina and mother are ready.”

Greer walked away from Zerick making sure her body slinked away. As she picked up his glass and took a sip as her eyes met with Chauncey. Taking a slow slip she smirked at him. Nodding her head. “I would love to meet her I’ll come by the house, I’ll also stop by DGI my charity might love to throw a function maybe in conjunction with your wedding.” Greer said wrapping back into Zerick arms.

“Well don’t we both know that lesson and if Greer is anything like Jackie then you better listen.” Lowell said with a smile. “Nice to meet you both. I don’t believe in coincidences Mr. Westwood we need you at DGI. Ms. Westwood you have exquisite taste in locations Atlas Falls is beautiful in the summer. They say we are the new Hamptons actually but in a city we have on side of the city but rumor has Mr. Fraiser has a renovation program. The incumbent mayor please do us both a favor don’t trust him.” Lowell shook Zerick’s hand as he shot a glare at Chauncey.

His son was nothing if not obvious he was ogling Greer she was stunning creature. She didn’t acknowledge his stares but she was quite beautiful. Her face reminded him of someone but he couldn’t put his finger on it. “Good day.” Lowell finished as he and Chauncey exited the mansion.

Greer watch them leave as she removed herself from Zerick arms. Taking another sip and handing him another glass. “That was almost too easy. To the downfall of the Devonshire’s.”

“Good day.” Zerick said watching as Lowell and Chauncey left. Actually he was going to take Walter’s side for now it was a good project and when he was done with what he needed to do he wanted his name on it. He watched Lowell and Chauncey get into their waiting limo and waved from the window before dropping his hand from Greer. She had put on a stunning performance. “Well played wife well played, now do go get dressed.” Leaving it at that as he kissed her cheek he took his drink and walked to the window staring at the Devonshire mansion soon and only when he was ready would everything come out like he wanted.


Thor sat twisting at the thought of his mother’s funeral which was tomorrow. Who would show up? She died as a disgraced whore not the powerful woman who took over a mob empire. Why was she with Steven they hadn’t been together in years. Last time he heard it was some younger cabana boy from Puerto Rico. Dying with that punk would have been better than being labeled Steven’s whore. History would mark him as a bastard and her as whore. He sulked in the darkness pouring him another glass of cognac. One of the few things he knew about his father was he was a cognac drinker. It was something his mother always talked about. How much of a drinker he actually was. Now any memories he had would always be connected to the woman who died with mayor Steven Kincaid. Fuck Steven and the Kincaid his wrath was all he cared about. Right now all he wanted to do is make Ronan pay. He had the most to gain with both of their death. Steven really wasn’t a problem for Ronan but the truth was Steven was starting to get a mind of his own. That was causing major problems for Ronan and it didn’t look like he’d win. Nobody wanted old man Fraiser to win but this wasn’t the way

When he heard a key in the condo door he quickly grabbed his gun. When he saw the light flash on the wild tendrils of Cassie’s hair shined on him. Slipping his gun into his desk he nodded a Geoff at the door. The condo was to be watched at all times. No telling when Ronan would want retaliation for his show of bravado. “Turn off the light I’d rather pout in the dark and not have my girlfriend seeing me like this. My mother is gone and that bastard that arrogant bastard thinks I’m a joke. I’m going to prove I’m not some spoiled kid that was educated.” He stood up as he walked to the balcony and the cool air blew over him. “Cassie I have to talk to you.”

Cassie flung her heels off inside of the condo looking at Geoff on her way inside the darkness, the club was busy tonight which she supposed was a good thing Philip liked the night shift. She preferred the day shift and not that it was well into the evening it was nice to return to see Thor, She and Thor had been together for a few month six to be exact ever since he walked into the club with Ronan when Philip decided to go into business with him. She switched the light back off as Geoff made his exit to leave them alone and she made her way to Thor, his mother’s death was haunting him. Ever since the week before and she wanted to comfort him though he had resisted recently. Walking out on the balcony Cassie reached out and took the drink from him bring the glass to her lips as she stepped in front of him.

“Let me in. I can’t help you if you won’t let me. I am sorry about your mother and Roan doesn’t know you. So talk you’re shutting me out.” Cassie said taking out one of the ice cubes and pressing it over his lips before capturing his lips with her own. She set the drink down on the railing wrapping her arms around his neck deepening the kiss. “I waited up for you last night. Lonely and naked. Let me love you.”

Thor moved stray hair from her face as he touched her warm skin. Cassandra had been a weakness for him since he was sixteen. They’d gone on and off it was their pattern and ever since they’d become sexually active. He’d always a soft spot for Cassie she was something special to him. When Ronan threatened her he swore nothing bad would ever happen to her. He’d make sure of it. If he had to kill his very own brother to do it. He’d never be good enough for Ronan but he’d be good enough to take over.  Everything in his power wanted to hunt down and kill the man who stole his mother. That man was Ronan and if he had too his entire life would be made to destroy his brother’s.

Kissing her neck she knew how to speak to him with her body. As he looked at the skyline of the city he smiled. “Cassie soon enough this city will be ours. What I mean by that is you’ll have the respect and adoration of everyone. You know my mother ran the Luciano family? Well I’ve taken over and when I’m done blood will run through these streets. I will destroy my brother legacy and take over his spot as head of the cartel.”

“I heard rumors about your mother. I want you to be careful with Ronan we both know how he can be.” Cassie said wrapping her arms around his neck while his lips traced her skin. Honestly she feared Ronan Madden and had been against bringing him into the club. She of course had been outvoted by her brother but Philip always wanted more. The club was his huge fuck you to their father for leaving them and their mother years ago and heading to Pittsburgh with his last catch. She had wanted to have the club stay legitimate but Philip had insisted on bringing in the trade to the club last year and now they were stuck. “So I take it that the meeting didn’t go well?”

Cassie picked up the glass from the railing again as she let her fingers trail over the buttons on his shirt kissing him back, as she undid it before letting it fall to the ground. They had been lovers on and off for years and she did love Thor she always would. Two crazy teenagers that had evolved to lovers and friends well over a decade though they hadn’t gotten back serious until recently. She tilted her head back a bit to give him access to her neck and groaned she could give him her body for now. Take away everything that he was feeling with Ronan and reaching for his belt she reached up and kissed him, pulling back to bite on his lip. “You will be a good boss one day.”

Thor didn’t really didn’t want to talk anymore. As he looked her as he grabbed her hips. Holding her close Thor unbuttoned Cassie’s shirt. He sensually exhaled as his lips slowly planted soft feather kisses on her neck. His breath hotly blew on her body. Thor’s hands traced her back sensually scratching her back as he rippled her bra off. The wind blew raindrops on their skin as he removed her bra. Slurping on her nipples as if they were fresh strawberries. His eyes pierced hers as he looked at her. His chest heaved as his hand moved up her thighs raising her skirt. Thor’s tongue ran up her neck as he reached her lips. Kissing her deeply their tongues exploring each other mouths.

He let Cassie unbutton his shirt as she touched his skin he smiled. He’d always hit the gym and he knew she was attracted to that. Ripping her panties he hadn’t been this primal ever but he wanted it right here. He didn’t care who heard them under or above them.Thor picked Cassie up and holding her in one arm he unfastened his belt. Quickly thrusting his inside of her wetness as it engulfed him. He kissed her on the lips and smiled. “Say my name!” He wasn’t going to be just a good boss, he was going to reach for the stars. Thor had to kill a man and Cassie didn’t need to know that. All he want her to know was how he felt inside of her. Caressing her body as he held her sensually.

Normally Cassie would have preferred the comfort of a warm mattress but it had been days since they made love and she was willing to indulge him in a show if he wanted one. She felt the rain pelting down on her skin and it only added to the thrill for her as she watched him undress her something sensual about them always drove her insane. She felt herself soaked for him when he lifted her skin and tore away the fabric of her lace panties and her nails raked down his chest. Her hips arched to him in need and she let out a moan as he traveled his lips back to her own and she let out a content moan into his mouth when he slammed into her. Her hips arched into his and she broke their kiss throwing her head back.

“Thor.” Cassie managed to gasp out while he plowed into her and she looked up at the stars. She leaned her head forward again and her nails drug down his back and into his pants to grip his ass in her hands. She let her lips trail along his neck and then sucked on his ear trying to pull her legs up more desperate to have him all the way inside of her in ways only he knew how to love her and she whispered into his ear. “Harder, deeper.”

Thor grabbed her hips holding her in midair he started to thrash her pussy. This was him unleashing the stress of the day through his body. He wasn’t about to let Cassie know what she wanted. He was opening up to her in ways he never had. As he tenderly slowed down long stroking her letting her bounce on his hardness while he held her. Slowly he parted her lips letting his tongue search her mouth for a few moment. He pulled back softly kissing her ear.

He walked her to the glass placing her back against it. Letting her legs wrap around his is back as he rolled his hips into her. Moving deeply inside her to the right then to the left. He knew how to drive Cassie crazy. It was a gift they lost their virginities to each other and sexually each time they broke up it was like they came back better. It was a pattern. “I love you.” He whispered in her her ear feeling like she was nearing explosion.

Cassie gasped out as he moved inside of her pleasing her in exactly the right way the sex between them had always been hot. She knew he was using sex as a way to avoid what she wanted to do which was talk about his mother and what happened with Ronan. She knew that he would eventually open up to her when he was ready and not before. For now she was content to close her eyes and let him fuck her till she couldn’t think.

“Thor.” Cassie managed to moan out when she felt her back against the cool of the glass and she adjusted her hips around him feeling him pound into her. Her hands raked his back holding on as she felt herself getting lost in the moment when he told her he loved her. Honestly she did love him, she felt her entire body feel like it was on fire as he pounded her. Her legs began to quiver and she felt herself clenching on him. “I love you too.” Cassie managed to whisper as she cried out into his ear his crashing her into his cock to send him over with her.

Waves of pleasure washed over him hearing her say it back it. She loved him and he knew it. Today to prove he wasn’t a joke to his brother he had to kill two men. He felt his body moving in slow motion as he was still thrusting inside of her as he felt another climax inside of her again and he finally climaxed inside of her. Thor growled in her ear. He felt her legs slide down him as she almost puddled inside of his arms. He laughed a little as he tried to catch his breath. “That was amazing.” Thor just wasn’t done yet. “I’m going to run us a bath and I want to tell you my day. Not all of it but some of it.”

Thor scooped her up in his arms knowing she was still weak from her climaxes. He kissed her lips tenderly as he opened the glass door. Walking Cassie into the room he smiled. “You are beautiful thank-you for that.” Walking to his bedroom he saw a picture of his mother he closed his eyes. Ronan would pay he vowed it.


The rain lightly coated the marble mausoleum, Brooke’s slender finger touched her father’s name engraved in the marble. The wind whipped through her long blond hair. She had been out here since the funeral. She kept telling the driver that she’d be only a few more moments. Slowly entering the room she saw her grandfather’s name, and so many Kincaid’s rested here. How couldn’t she be hurt, so her father wasn’t the best man. He had done some shit that he couldn’t take back. She sat down in the mausoleum feeling closer to him somehow. He wasn’t here but he was her heart and father. Touching her locket she received when she was sixteen from her father. It was her great-grandmother’s and a family heirloom. Tears flowed from the memories of what was taken away from her. Today she’d never have a father again from this point on. That realization hurt her badly.

When she heard the mausoleum opening she was expecting Hunter or Anderson but it was a shock to see him standing there. She quickly wiped her eyes as he stood up. “What are you doing here Ronan? I’m sorry I just want to be alone because this isn’t the time or place for us to talk. I don’t feel like talking I feel like hurting someone or something. I feel like screaming so I’m not in a mood for company so just go.” Brooke turned away not wanting him to see her this emotional. She wasn’t a little girl but she couldn’t stop crying. As she turned around he was closer to her. Brooke was drawn to this man like a moth to a flame before she knew it she said “More than you’ll ever know this is killing me. My daddy is gone.” She ran into Ronan arms burying her head into that perfect spot that seemed to be made for a woman.

Ronan had made his way to the cemetery after his encounter with Benny honestly he needed to see Brooke to make sure she was alright. Thor’s threat on her life had worried him to the point that it was risk to even come out right now he had made the men move off once he arrived and made his way to the mausoleum where he knew she was. She looked so sad and broken down touching what she assumed was a very important locket to her. When she mentioned hurting someone or something his lips formed a hard line he never enjoyed that part of his life which was why Benny had been so hard. He shook his head as he looked at Steven’s name on the wall where he was now laid to rest, unfortunately that meant now coming up with a new plan Steven he could reel in. He expected things to be much different with Walter Fraiser he would need a new plan to deal with him for the trade and for the casino deal which was still on the table for discussion. When she came into his arms he wrapped his own around her after the evening he had he needed it as much as she did perhaps even more.

“I wanted to see how you were and I saw your car parked out front on the way home from a meeting. Your brothers or your mother should have stayed with you.” Ronan said the first lie slipping out easily he wasn’t sure if she really knew what he did. He also didn’t want her upset or freaking out about the guards that he felt were now necessary to make sure she wasn’t hurt with the cartel or his brother. He rubbed her shoulder in comfort as she talked about her father and his own parents murder came back to him. “It has not been that long it will get better Brooke. I can see it is killing you, losing a parent is never easy I would know.”

“Ronan.” She said feeling something between them. Was she crazy? Here she was in her father’s crypt and she was thinking of this man like that. He was just checking on a troubled princess. Wiping her eyes she shook her head to get the hair out of her face. Slowly tilting her head she looked at him with his mysterious eyes. As she raised her hand she touched his face. “I’m emotional right now. I do know that I don’t know what to feel about my father.” Brooke croaked out knowing and she had caught feelings.

“I know I’m younger girl but I’m a woman also. I don’t know what to do with this.” She touched his stubbled on his face looking at his lips. Brooke exhaled knowing one thing she trusted him. Whatever this was catching feelings call it a fling she wanted it. “I know you may think I’m some little girl but every time I’m around you I’m short of breath. That sound so stupid and I just feel like you make everything better and I just talking but I can’t pretend were just friends.”

Ronan watched her movements a mix of a grieving girl and woman stuck in a world without her father, her eyes were sad. He watched her as she looked up at him and he did stare at her eyes, she had lovely eyes and he could stare at them. He was staring at them and when she finally broke that to wipe the tears away and touch his face he nearly flinched. He had just killed a man a few hours ago and his life was not for hers it would never be for someone like her. Even if her last name was Kincaid his enemies would come for him and he was still older than her.

“You are a girl that just lost her father. You may of traveled the world Brooke and seen wonders but you are still young.” Ronan said softly looking at her he knew what she was speaking of that heat between them he did feel a connection to her. He thought she was stunning and smart and he also knew he was tempted with her. Brushing some hair from her face he spoke softly. “No we can’t pretend to be friends.” Ronan finished before leaning in and knowing he shouldn’t he let his lips brush against hers urgently.

Brooke lips quivered as he kissed back she couldn’t breathe but was eager to taste his lips. His scent was intoxicating as she closed her eyes. This was more than a silly crush, she felt it and it was real. So what he was older but she couldn’t when she was alone at night he was the man who flashed into her head. He’d been there and everyone could say this was grief but she’d never met anyone like him. Her french manicured fingers ran her hands through his hair. Brooke pulled back as she took a deep breath.

“Ronan, I didn’t know but ever since that day we met.” Atticus cheating on her left her mind. The tabloids in Europe loved them they were an main attraction. Slowly dragging her hands down his face to his coat lapels she looked him in his eyes. “Just don’t hurt me Ronan, I’ve been through enough storms this feels good. This feels right you know? It feels good right now. I’ve seen the wonders but I haven’t felt like this before.”

Ronan ran his hands in her hair she tasted like vanilla and he could swear the taste would be embedded in his brain forever but he also knew that it was a dangerous game that he was playing. He hadn’t felt like this with a woman before if ever, yes he had lovers but none that he was close to emotionally he couldn’t afford that. He found himself pulling her body to his own and grabbing her hips as they kissed and let out a sigh when she pulled back. Her words echoed on him as he took a few steps back from her the reality of the situation was that he was dangerous for her, people around him died. His lifestyle was dangerous for any man let alone a woman and he knew very few women who could actually make it in the business let alone with him.

“I can’t hurt you Brooke since we can’t be together. No matter what we feel between us or how right it is. You are too young for me and you have your entire life ahead of you.” Ronan said forcing the words out as he looked at her he did feel the same as her but she could never know that. His enemies could find out and the evening had been a reminder he had Thor to contend with and though he may of threatened Cassie he was a man of honor. Cassie had done him no harm but Thor was not breed like him he wouldn’t understand that. Looking at her he could see the pain on her face. “I shouldn’t of taken advantage of you just now and near your father’s grave.”

“I’m guaranteeing you that you didn’t take advantage of me. I’ve been thinking of doing that since we met. I just want to be around especially after this week.” Brooke said looking at him finally pulling. She shook her head knowing that he wasn’t listening to her. Age wasn’t a factor in her choices and she’d always marched to her own beat. Brooke had felt his heart beat against her body and she felt warm inside. Her entire body was on fire and she was open now to Ronan.

“I should go.” Brooke grabbed her purse pulling out her phone she saw twelve missed calls from various family members. Throwing her IPhone 6 into her purse as she looked at him. Walking back to him she kissed him again. This time it was sweet it was a come and get me kiss. She finally pulled back for air. “I don’t give up Ronan whatever this is it’s making me believe. I believe in that love could happen to me.” Turning around she walked away as the rain finally started to pour. Turning around she looked at him one last time, as she walked away.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *