1×04 “Pretty Bird”

Episode 1xo4 “Pretty Bird”
Written by: Chris Coleman/Kelly Zollo
Warning: Episode contains language, sexual situations and content


Scarlett Nichols went over her stock options in the folder at the kitchen table one of the things she had learned from her father, they had gotten rich off them at DGI and she refused to let that slip or stop her lifestyle. Her fingers tapped against the table as she checked her watch soon enough it would be time to go and look at what she needed. For now though she was content to make sure that her money was safe and so far it was DGI was up in stock for the quarter and she had a healthy deposit in her account. Moving her long brown hair over her shoulder she picked up the bellini from the kitchen table and took a drink a celebration everything was going according to how she needed it too. She thought about calling to find out where Mason was but knew better he was out they had an arrangement. She looked at her sparkling engagement ring in the sunlight, of course she and Mason hadn’t set a date yet but they would need to before Tony started to ask questions.

Tony was becoming more and more of a problem to her plans and her future, Tony Delacroix wanted her and Mason to set a date and well she wasn’t the girl to just marry and share. Mason and she were good friends or she liked to think they were friends she had been his cover for years so that Mason could avoid the truth to his father. Honestly for her however she was bored with playing the dutiful fiance to Tony unless there was something in it for her. The other problem she was running into was Dante Gonzales, Zach Fraiser’s other lover who in her mind was overstaying his welcome or not for long. Honestly Dante couldn’t do what she could for Zach provide for her female urges that Zach desperately craved if he could Zach wouldn’t still be sneaking around her with when the mood or the time suited him. She also liked the fact Zach was a cop, Zach could get her out of trouble if the time ever came and she needed it and Zach cared about her. Not that Mason didn’t but it was a very different situation with her and Zach versus her and Mason. She went to take another sip of her bellini when her condo doorbell rang it was a little after noon and she moved from the kitchen to the door seeing a flower delivery service on the other side.

“Delivery for Ms. Nichols.” The portly man said handing her the flowers along with a wrapped box as she signed for them.

“Thank you.” Scarlett said taking both from the man and walking back to the kitchen.

The roses were exquisite and she smiled obviously Zach had been thinking about her placing the box down on the kitchen island she reached into the cupboards for a vase. Once she found one that she wanted she took the flowers out of the store holder and placed them in the vase with some fresh water. She searched for a card not able to find one part of that was odd and she then turned to the white box with the red ribbon on it, chocolates perhaps? It wouldn’t be the first time that Zach had sent her chocolates to make up for being abrupt with her in their encounters or making her feel like an outsider to him and Dante. Zach despite that one flaw was a caring man, she attributed that to his very large family and she frowned a bit at that. Her family was not like that no her father cared more about his stock options. Her sisters had cared more about their looks and rising in society. The only one she was close to was her mother.

Her fingers traced the ribbons a bit before she pulled on the string and then took the lid off the box, inside she found red tissue paper and folding it back she let out a shriek of terror as her fingers touched something cold. Jumping back from the box she looked at the dead sparrow inside of it, it’s neck bent  in an odd shape eyes glazed it’s body stiff. Scarlett felt her chest tighten more who in the hell would send her a dead bird? Inside the box she saw a crisp white envelope and reaching her shaking hand inside she pulled it out being careful to not look at the dead bird. Her blood was cold and she felt her entire body shaking at the image of the dead animal inside the box, her fingers shaking she ripped the paper open to see the note card was blank except for a tuped message “I know”. Tossing the card down on the island Scarlett took a few steps backwards bracing herself on the sink counter what did they know?

Making her way back to the kitchen table she reached for her phone swiping her finger on the screen she scrolled through her contacts before she came across Zach’s name and pressed call. She waited a few moments until she heard Zach pick up. “Zach please come over someone sent me something I’m scared.”

Zach had just left Dante who was super excited about his chance to meet with Jackie Devonshire. He tried to be excited for his boyfriend but honestly he’d never trust a Devonshire. The way those people operated it was no telling what they’d do to Dante’s collection. Dante’s talent was amazing and for a year he designed for Shakira. He legitimately wanted recognition now and he wasn’t following anyone else beat. He was on the verge of something big he was working with some girl from New York named Valentina. Now Selina wedding dress were commissioned he’d created at least six dresses. He’d barely seen Dante and he was just worried would he leave him behind?

When he saw Scarlett calling he sighed. To be honest it was fun but he understood what Dani was saying. Dante’s success had awakened something he wasn’t sure he wasn’t ready to lose him. Answering the phone he heard a panic in Scarlett voice. “Scarlett what’s in the box? I’m coming over right now okay calm down don’t touch it.” Zach hung up the phone. He quickly grabbed his keys to Roxanna a candy red 1967 Chevy Impala. It was his sister Lucy car which he promised to keep up. When Lucy left away it was a dark day on their entire family. Getting in his car he sped all the way to Scarlett which wasn’t if he stayed on the North Lake Drive.

Jumping out of Roxanna he slammed the door rushing into Starling condos. As he flashed his badge so he wouldn’t have to sign in. Rushing to the elevator pressed the button to the elevator. As the door opened he got a chills stepping onto the doors closed and rolled his neck. Getting off he quickly rushed to Scarlett’s condo. Knocking on the door she opened up quickly wrapping him into a hug. “What’s going on Scarlett?”

Scarlett clung to Zach in the entryway of her condo feeling safe in his arms she supposed one bright side to their affair he was a cop. One that she could use to her advantage to get her out of trouble if she dabbled in a little coke now and then. Or worse her body was still shaking a bit as she led him inside the condo and towards the box on the island. She moved to the table to take her bellini again as she took a drink of it and then looked at Zach’s face when he finally saw the bird in the box. Did this mean that they knew about her and Zach was this Dante’s idea of some sick joke? Surely Mason wouldn’t do this to her they had an arrangement that she assumed they were both happy with perhaps she had misread the signals and they weren’t as happy as she thought. She walked to the counter and tossed the card at Zach too.

“Someone sent me a dead fucking bird. Honestly getting sent dead animals has me concerned would Dante do this?” Scarlett shot looking at Zach disgusted honestly if this was Dante’s idea of a sick joke she’d handle it herself. She’d show him exactly who Zach was fucking and proudly. “I’m upset Zach we both didn’t want this to get out.”

Zach let out a disgust and exhausted expression on his face. As he looked at Scarlett he shook his head no. “This isn’t Dante he doesn’t know about us and we aren’t exposed so get that out of your head.” He said in a forceful tone. “Listen whoever sent you this is obviously playing a really out there joke on you. Who’d you piss of lately Scarlett? That is a habit of yours making people mad so it doesn’t surprise me someone struck back.” Zach shook his head she was unbelievable blaming Dante for no doubt some drama filled mess.

“Dante is sweet and caring and Catholic he doesn’t believe in doing shit like this. My boyfriend who I love wouldn’t do this. The man that I love wouldn’t be involved with you and neither should I. Listen I’ve been thinking and Dante doesn’t deserve this Scarlett. He doesn’t and I have to.” As he looked at the box with the dead bird. “I have to get this to a lab ok?” Now wasn’t the time to break up with Scarlett. As a pulled out a pair of gloves from his back pocket. “I’m going to call in a favor, get this analyzed.”

“Dante is jealous Zach he’s been jealous for weeks about what is going on with us. I haven’t pissed anyone off lately. Of course it couldn’t be your precious Dante.” Scarlett said her voice rising a bit at Zach truthfully it could be Dante. Even Catholics could do things when pushed and well she knew Dante was jealous the way he would look at Zach out in public the way he thought that he was so much better than her fro Zach. “If it wasn’t him maybe it was someone who saw us at the houseboat. The man you love?”

Scarlett looked at him and folded her arms well at least that was out now, he didn’t love her no one had ever really loved her or really appreciated her why was she surprised. She was hurt and that she reminded herself was something her mother had warned her about when she and Zach began their affair. She watched him look at the bird in the box and say that he had to get it to the crime lab and wanted to laugh at him she didn’t need his pity. Shaking her head at him she picked up her phone to check for any more messages from her mother.

“If you love him so much what am I chopped liver Zach? If you loved Dante so much you wouldn’t have continued what we are doing, what makes you feel good. Are you seriously going to stand there and tell me this wasn’t what you wanted?” Scarlett asked moving her hand between them and pursing her lips at him. When he couldn’t deny it she looked at him. “I was scared it’s a dead bird Zach obviously whoever sent it knows why would they send what they sent on the card if they didn’t?”

“It’s not about us Dante was just with me he wouldn’t be pretending.” Zach growled at Scarlett knowing that he was being really being cruel. As he looked into her eyes he saw her fear. “Look Scarlett I know we are friends but baby I just think that I need to be faithful to my boyfriend. I need to start respecting him do whatever I need to keep him happy. My boyfriend is my number one priority. I just can’t do him wrong like I have been.” He confessed to her.

“I’m going to get the bird and the box analyzed but us we are over.” He said looking at her shocked expression. “I love Dante he’s my world and you were something to do. I just don’t think this is going to work out. It isn’t going to work out at all.” Zach folded his arms he looked at a picture of Max, Veronica, Nina, Cat, and Scarlett. “We hooked up from high school but now it’s over.”

Scarlett looked at him coldly as he all but dismissed her claims on Dante no one screwed her over, no one was done with her till she said they were done. In this case he and Dante thought they were going to get a happy ending, they were wrong. She’d do everything in her power to make sure that didn’t happen most look at her like she was a pretty face, she was more than that. She had been playing it steady and cool for a few months now but she was done playing folding her arms over her chest she waved to him with her hand.

“Get out. You’re right it’s not going to work out but when you are looking for another pussy to satisfy you don’t come here. I mean it get the hell out.” Scarlett said watching him grabbing the box from the counter as she marched to the door and held open the door for him.

Zach grabbed the box and walked toward the door wondering if he had made a mistake. Having Scarlett pissed at him was worse that having Max or hell any of the Devonshire’s ever since her sister died, she’d been a handful. As he walked out he looked back at her.

“I’m not trying to hurt you, I just have to do whats right for me and my boyfriend Scarlett.” He said as he walked out. “I really care about you. It’s over though.”

Scarlett watched him grab the box and walk to the open door looking at the old photo of her on his way out, this was not how she had expected things to go. Wrapping her arms around herself she looked around the condo what could the person possibly know? If anything she had hoped that the dead bird in the box would draw Zach to her even more and not push her away not only was Tony a problem now but Diego was as well. Diego was never supposed to win Zach’s heart enough to pull him away from her and she angrily walked back to the kitchen finishing her Bellini as she shook her head to wipe the cobwebs away. No sense in her crying about this development she reminded herself after all what would her mother say? Her mother would say to pick your head back up and continue on course she had every intention of doing just that.

Men were so stupid sometimes when it came to women her mother had taught her that and sometimes sacrifices had to be made to make sure they stayed.  She was aware of those sacrifices now after all so much was at stake her place in society. She walked back to the kitchen and the now empty granite countertop pushing the dead bird out of her mind as she picked up her phone. She wiped the tears from her eyes as she walked down the hallway to the master bedroom and then into the bathroom. The test was on the counter and she walked towards it seeing the two faint lines clear as day. She knew she should feel something now a slight bit of happiness or dread, perhaps anxiety. However all she felt was her lips upturn at the test her fingers traced the handle yes sacrifices had to be made. Her body was now that sacrifice and of course she would have to give up her other partying habits but she finally had the ultimate weapon at her disposal she could eradicate both Tony and Diego from her life for good.


Dani walked into the restaurant and waved at Jon as she made her way to the table he waited at. She had showed up to Jackson’s after the game with a really expensive bottle of wine a few weeks ago. They proceeded to play gin rummy and watch TV most of the night. She talked about how her dad had controlled every step she made after college until she came home. How it was never good enough for him, how she wanted something different now something not mapped by her father. She was pretty buzzed by the time the bottle was empty and halfway to his bed kissing him, she had touched his cheek to look at him, telling him he was right they weren’t just sex they were friends too. The next morning when she woke up clothed in bed next to him, she knew she was gone for him she had told him about her father something she never did ever. Yet Jackson brought that out of her the vulnerability she had locked away for years, he was bringing out the best in her again.  It was starting to weigh on her avoiding questions from people like Miranda, Jon’s sister about when she was going to start dating. Which now sitting across from Jon guilt was sneaking up on her for not telling Jackson she was having dinner with Jon and sideswiping his invitation to spend it with him instead. It wasn’t like they were official not yet anyway she hadn’t found a good way to bring it up to Jackson. She didn’t know what else to call it after being with him for almost over a month and a half.

“Sorry I’m late we got caught up in this brainstorm session at work. I know you’re really busy with your cases. Thanks.” Dani said sliding into the seat and thanking the waitress as she placed a glass of ice water on the table. She had accepted the date weeks ago before she and Jackson even started whatever was going on with them. Jon would be a safe choice to date Jon was someone her parents would hand pick out of a lineup for her. Jon also was like a brother and really good friend, she also knew from Miranda Jon had been in love with her for years. She knew she didn’t feel that way about Jon that heat that she felt with Jackson, reaching for the water on the white tablecloth and taking a drink. “I’m glad our schedules finally worked we haven’t had a lot of time to catch up recently.”

Jon had Miranda picking out his outfit he wanted to look nice. Hell he wasn’t sure what to wear he was about to ask the girl of his dreams out. After Lex Hessington he thought it was his chance. How couldn’t it be? After all that son of bitch did break her heart. He’d waited and he listened to the heartbreak and now it was his time. Well their time and Jon wanted to try at least with Dani. Iraq left him frozen and Dani was one of the only people who thawed him. He had years of letters but when he heard she was with Lex. Well that somehow broke him down. As he looked across to her beautiful face, he smiled.

“Yeah I think we haven’t had time to talk in forever it feels like.” Jon took a sip of water as his feet tapped under the table. “Look Dani I asked you here for dinner because I need to talk to you about something. When I was in Iraq you know I went through some things. Watching half of my platoon get blown up would do that to anybody. When I came back I couldn’t function and you know. You knew how to reach through to me so.” The waiter appeared and he ordered a filet mignon and roasted sage and parsley potatoes. “Order what you want. Oh a bottle of white wine she can’t drink red.” Jon teased with a boyish smile.

“No we haven’t had time to talk recently.” Dani said quietly realizing by his body language what was going on he wanted this to be a romantic date and guilt ate at her even more. Jon was a good guy probably one of the best she knew he had really been there when she came home. They had both been at dark and depressing times in their lives him with the war and her getting her heart ripped out with Lex. Lex cheating had destroyed her, it had also made her realize true love was a fairy tale people told themselves it made you feel safe when most men lied, used and humiliated you. She smiled at the wine comment a bit sadly, no red just made her lose her mind like she did the other night with Jackson and confess things she never would sober. Looking at the waiter she forced a smile. “I’ll have the salmon with the asparagus. White is fine.”

“I was glad I could help you when you needed it that is what friends do right?” Dani asked him he was smiling and looking at her like she was the only girl in the world that mattered. She bit her bottom lip at him God she wished it was Jackson across from her at the moment this would all be so much easier if that were the case. She could have canceled the date with Jon let him down easy over the phone told him she was seeing someone. “You needed someone we were all worried about you with what happened over there.”

“Dani I didn’t ask you here for that reason. I don’t want to talk about Iraq, Dani this is me asking you on a date.” Jon said looking at her beautiful warm eyes. As he looked at his dream girl. “I brought you something.” Leaning down he picked up a box full of letters. Sliding it to her he had Miranda wrap them up pretty. “Those kept me alive when I just wanted to die. I was eighteen and young. I didn’t understand what I had in you and Skye. I pushed her away when I went away. I know you never liked her she was always a friend but these letters. These letters were me pouring my life out to you. These letters were us figuring out what we could be. Listen I don’t expect you to answer me now. I do expect that you read and understand what I feel.” He said touching her hand. “I needed you but I need us much more. I need to be with someone who understands my pain.”

Jon lost his whole team in a raid looking for Bin Laden almost a year prior to his death. They walked into a trap and it was mass murder with blood everywhere. He was awarded all type of awards for trying to save his brothers in arms. “I need someone who knows that I couldn’t save them all.” Slowly moving the hair from her face. “I need someone who personally touched me read the letters and let me show you what Lex never could. Undying true love what you deserve.” Jon leaned in and kissed her softly as he sucked on her lip.

Dani looked at the box as he slid it across the table to her and felt her throat tighten unable to open or speak it was obviously more than a crush. Mostly she had assumed it was just Miranda trying to make them get together and now she felt like the worlds biggest bitch. She was flattered of course she was but she didn’t care about Jon like that and she could feel the tears forming in her eyes at his declaration, that he needed her and she reminded herself to keep her composure over it. She really wished she had cancelled now at this rate that she had told Jon or Miranda that she was sort of seeing someone it would be so much more easier. She also knew that she needed to talk to Jackson now about what was going on with them, she deserved more with him and she wanted more with him.

“Jon…” Dani managed to get out quietly and before she could react he had leaned in pressing his lips against hers pulling back from him she looked at him. Jon was a good person and she knew how it felt to have head games played with you first hand. Her eyes darted around the restaurant and they landed right on Jackson who was staring at her like she had betrayed him, as he and Rory made their way to the table. “’I’m sorry I can’t. I’m very flattered… just I can’t.” She finished quietly reaching for her glass of wine on the table, trying to not feel awkward as the man she was giving herself too in bed showed up angry as hell at the table.

For one second it was the sweetest kiss the next his heart was aching. When Dani didn’t reciprocate his feelings he instantly felt the urge to pull back. His entire body language stiffened as he gulped. Taking a sip of his water he almost gagged at the thought of what she just said. How foolish was he? Did he think that Dani would wait? Jon’s face got hot as his hands tugged at his jeans. With deep breaths he lowered his head wondering exactly what in the hell was he going to do? How was he going to cope with this? It never ever crossed his head that this was how it was going to happen.

Jon eyed the way that Jackson looked at Dani. He was observant and had to ask. “I know that I have no place asking you this but if you’re going to let me down. Well I have to know exactly who for Dani? Its a guy thing I have to know whose ass to kick if you shed one tear. God I’m an ass.” Jon said immediately spiraling feeling his confidence wavering. “I’m so sorry, Dani I’m embarrassed by all of this.”

Dani looked at Jon and then over at Jackson honestly she wanted to crawl into a hole and die. She bit her lip and crossed and uncrossed her legs under Jackson’s gaze. She was pretty certain he was gazing at her on purpose his eyes raking over her body to drive the point home that he was who was pleasing her in bed. The man could stare at her like he was now and she could already feel her skin prickling at him, wanting his hands on her, his mouth, wanting him whispering in her ear while he fucked her and she took a breath her fingers playing with the tablecloth. She felt herself glare at Jon’s statement she wasn’t a child and frankly it was none of his business but she did at least owe him something this entire thing was a mess now.

“It happened a few weeks ago and we’re trying to just keep it between us right now. I’m more than capable of taking care of myself. I should have canceled but Miranda kept saying it was just dinner and we’ve had dinner before. It’s him okay are you happy now?” Dani said her voice barely above a whisper it was out now no sense hiding it anymore. She didn’t honestly get why Jackson was so angry at her at the moment. It wasn’t like either of them had made a move to define what they were she hadn’t found a good way to bring it up. It wasn’t just sex or friendship, it was more for her and she didn’t want to be a fool if that wasn’t how Jackson felt. She took another sip of her wine and then looked at Jackson her voice quiet and wavering, as he took a seat next to her and across from Jon. “I didn’t know this is where you wanted to go tonight. Hello Rory.”

Rory had decided to go to dinner with his brother when Jackson had entered his office to tell him his plans fell through. Honestly Jackson spent most of his time with Dani and looking at his brother fuming at her and then at Jon it hit him. His brother was sleeping with her, and from the looks of it his brother was jealous as hell at another guy wining and dining her. Dani judging by the awkward body language she was giving off looked like she didn’t know what to do with his brother. She liked Jackson that much was clear by her tone and her eyes while she looked at his brother. He’d never seen Jackson upset like he was over a girl and that intrigued him had his brother fallen for Dani? Not that that would be a bad thing Dani was smart, pretty and his brother wasn’t a drugged out mess around her. He’d put money on his brother over Jon Harrison any day of week.

“Hi Dani.” Rory said watching the exchange curious to see what was going to happen now. He wondered if his dad or Dani’s dad knew too and maybe that was why neither of them had said anything. He looked between the three of them sitting down at the table when his brother did just to make sure his brother didn’t lose it. “Jon.”

Jackson looked at Jon with a deathly dark scowl as his heart started to pound. What was Dani doing with Jon anyway? His heart instantly struck with jealousy and fear. What if he wasn’t good enough? What if Jon had given her what she obviously desired someone to love her. How could Jackson love Dani when he didn’t love himself. Watching Rory trying to navigate the sticky situation that was in front of them. Why should he be angry when Dani always deserved more.

“Well I hate to break-up Mr. Harrison’s date with this lovely young lady but I think Dani understands that I am very invested in what we are doing now. Its actually great you’re here. I mean we’ve circled the same woman before Jon. Dani you aren’t the first we both recall Skye don’t we?” His eyes grew even darker. Jon always seemed to sniff around women he had already or were with. Looking at Dani he folded his arms with a sensual grin. “I am sure you aren’t the guy to please her, considering he’s sitting in his skin very comfortable that you’ll never have what I don’t want you to.”

“Pardon me?” Jon said looking at Jackson with a disgusted expression. “Your arrogance is amazing and yes we did share Skye but you turned her into a junkie. You are disgusting matter fact all you Devonshire’s are disgusting. I apologize to you Rory for having to bare a name of these people, out of them all you seem decent.” Jon grabbed his jacket, standing up as he looked at Dani.

“I’m not at the top like this guy, I’ll never be rich or famous as Jackson. But I won’t pretend that I love the idea of you with him Dani. I swear if he hurts you I’m going to destroy this fucking guy. I suggest you tread lightly.” Jon said trying to exit before he punched Jackson’s face until he saw red.

“Is that a threat?” Jackson asked standing up looking at Jon.

“It’s a promise.” Jon said looking at him disgusted. “I always thought you had better taste but when another one of these assholes break your heart don’t run back to me.”

“Another one? There is no other one you jackass, she’s with me.” Jackson said growling annoyed with Jon’s obvious jealousy. “Still angry and poor that’s a shame.” Rory got between the men.

Rory saw people staring at their table the moment voices had raised. Obviously his brother wasn’t happy about the idea of Dani out to dinner with someone else. Dani looked like she was about to kill either one of them or worse cry and that intrigued him. He made sure to stand between them.

“Let it go Jackson.” Rory said looking at Jon to get lost. It was clear his brother and Dani needed to talk. “Let’s just enjoy dinner ok?”

Dani didn’t know what to feel when Jon or Jackson brought up Skye frankly being reminded that they shared women made her uncomfortable. She knew Jackson was trying really hard to stay sober she didn’t think he was using it was something Lowell asked her about on her reports. When Jackson mentioned that he was invested in what was going on between them she bit back tears and what was that for him a nice roll in the sheets? Honestly she didn’t know how much longer she could pretend that it was only that she needed him to clarify things either he wanted to give them a shot or he didn’t. Standing she stepped between them and looked at Jon.

“Jon I’ll call you ok and apologize to Miranda about all of this I’m sorry.” Dani said quietly hoping that would be the end of it. The evening was already shot to hell in her mind since now it felt like she and Jackson actually had to face what was going on. She turned her eyes to Jackson. “We really need to talk about this. I can’t keep pretending with you we both know that changed for me after the funeral. I can’t keep lying to people about what is going on when I don’t even know what this is anymore.”

“I don’t know what this is but I don’t want you kissing that guy.” Jackson said looking at his girlfriend. In his gut that’s what she was but saying it. It was so hard expressing himself after years of being repressed by his father and Chauncey. The look on her face didn’t make him feel like he won. If anything it worried him he looked at Rory giving him a look to say get lost. He loved his little brother but at the end of the day he needed to speak with Dani. Watching Rory go to the bathroom excusing himself from the table. “I can’t breathe right now and I don’t give a damn who is looking. Dani I…Dani I’m trying to… I just like this. Are you asking to put labels on this? I just don’t think that would be smart I mean I’m…” Jackson couldn’t express how he felt. “You choose me over him?”

Jackson knew it was petty and small but she chose him and that meant he wasn’t alone. He wasn’t alone in feeling this. How could he love her when he didn’t love himself. She didn’t deserve to be let down. “Dani I just want to let you know I’m into you but I don’t know how to love. I hurt when I love.” He touched her face and slowly leaned in and kissed her lips softly. “I’m just into this and I still think it isn’t time yet. You know to tell everyone our secret.”

Dani looked at Jackson not even seeing Jon leave she was too focused in on him and what felt like was a weight being lifted off her chest with him. She watched him trying to speak to get out what he wanted and just when she felt like he was going to it came back to him not wanting to put a label on it. She watched Rory excuse himself to the restroom and looked at Jackson when he asked her what she wanted to choose right now it was him. When he finally leaned over and kissed her though rational thought went out the window with him and she kissed him back wrapping her hands into the back of his neck. Feeling him pulling her to him she returned the gesture not caring who was watching before he ended the kiss and pulled back. She looked at him taking his hand in hers glad that Rory had excused himself as she rubbed her thumb over his hand.

“Right now I know I want you not him. I just didn’t know how to bring what is happening between us up to you. I care about you, I have since before the funeral. When I’m with you I feel like I don’t have to be anything other than me. I don’t have to be your dad’s publicist, I don’t have be Walter Fraiser’s fucked up daughter. I just get to be me with you. I want this whatever this is, I want you.” Dani said quietly, as she gazed into his eyes leaning into him she kissed him slowly letting her mouth glide against his. She felt his hands slip onto her hips gripping her she pulled back to look at him again. “Jackson…say something.”

Just as Jackson was about to tell her back his phone rang. Holding up a finger to signal one second he saw it was his father. “How about this Dani, can we meet later tonight to finish this conversation?” Jackson just knew now wasn’t the time. He all the sudden wasn’t so hungry. His appetite was stolen by fear. He leaned down and kissed Dani’s lips softly as he looked into her eyes. He wanted to be more but with a guy like Jon. Even though she was saying she wanted him, he knew the truth. She was too good for him. Jon would come in on his white horse the moment he fucked up.

“Rory I’m going to a meeting dad just called let’s grab some takeout.” He felt like the air was being sucked out of his chest. Jackson literally feared saying it. He feared being around commitment after all he never had to commit to anyone. Hell women were easy to get it was keeping them where the problem arose. “Hey come over tonight okay.”

Dani looked at him when his phone rang hoping that it meant they could finally sort out what this was as she asked the waitress for the bill. Honestly part of her felt foolish and eating dinner she had ordered with Jon seemed weird. She didn’t know what to feel when he leaned down and kissed her softly before telling Rory he wanted to go somewhere else and get food. The public rejection hurt that he was ok with them as long as she was some hidden secret that no one knew about. She tried to mask the hurt and the rejection with a nod of her head at him when he told her to come over later. It was stupid to have tears springing into her eyes as she stared at him and she knew that. She saw Jackson reach for the money to cover the bill and refused to be any more embarrassed than she already was pulling it out of Jackson’s reach, she threw down enough cash to cover the bill. She pushed back the tears composing herself. She was confused, Jackson didn’t want her to see Jon or kiss him yet he didn’t want to define them either honestly some time to process and think maybe would be good for both of them.

“Sure. I have some things we need to go over anyway for work. Just text me we can talk later.” Dani said quietly she could feel Rory staring between them making this even more awkward. Not knowing what else to say to Jackson when he reached out for her she took a step back and averted her eyes from him before walking out of the restaurant.

Rory had given his brother and Dani space and went to the restroom where he smiled hearing Diamond’s voice on his voicemail. He had left her his number a few weeks ago and he was glad that she had called him he could be back at the club. Honestly he had kept his space but that was out of respect for her to give her some time. By the time he came back from the restroom to see his brother and Dani kissing and tugging on each other. He honestly wanted to smile for Jackson. He now knew why Jackson was applying himself he wanted Dani which was clear and then he watched the two of them awkwardly dance around what they both obviously wanted again. His brother had never been the romantic type he knew that, but he also knew his brother could reel anyone into his bed and if he ever really wanted to apply himself he could keep them. The problem was Jackson had a hard time with the second part keeping, he almost reached to pay for the bill only to see Jackson do it. He backed off watching Dani take care of it herself while she fumed at his brother. He saw the hurt in her eyes when his brother all but dodged what he was obviously feeling towards her. He watched Dani leave before looking at Jackson who looked like he wanted to chase after her but was frozen in place wondering what to do. Rory glanced down at his phone when he noticed it buzz getting the text about the DGI meeting.

“You know if she makes you happy maybe that’s not a bad thing. You’re into her hell the way you almost kicked Jon’s ass for looking at her let alone kissing her, you obviously don’t want her seeing other guys. You and I both know dad hates Walter and Walter hates dad but you’re both adults. That would be like mom or dad telling me to stop hanging around the club because they’re afraid it will ruin my reputation.” Rory said smiling at his brother wanting to let him know it was okay to feel something for Dani. Even as kids Jackson bottled in his feelings. “I know you know how to work the ladies let’s face it you got a rep. You probably don’t need my advice on how to make a woman scream your name or whatever. However in this case I’d say buy her some flowers or something for when you two do decide to talk. She obviously wants you too if she didn’t she would have told you to fuck off and not sent Harrison packing.”

Jackson bit his lip as he folded his arms looking at Rory as he wondered if he was correct. Was he being dumb and not seeing what he was doing? Looking back he wanted to run back after Dani but honestly he knew that his family would freak out. Max never really liked Dani and his father would freak out to know he was with Dani. As he got into the limo he bit his lip.

“Do you ever wish we weren’t Devonshire’s? My entire life I’ve been struggling to have something. To feel something but now look at me. I have someone special and I can’t have her. Look you spent your entire life being the good one and dad is taking a risk on me.” Jackson couldn’t help but feel like he was about to ruin any leeway that his father had for him. All he’d ever wanted was his father’s love and now it seemed like he could get it. “Dani means I lose his respect, Dani means I lose period and although we are grown how would this work? Tell me how dinners would go. Let’s just go to work ok Rory because I don’t want to think about this anymore.”


Dante was doing little things on each gown he’d created for Selina. Her wedding was the event of the year and honey he was designing her dress. Society pages were abuzz of the marriage and connection of the giants Lowell Devonshire and Tony Delacroix even more. Or so he heard because Dante didn’t read tabloids and Page Six. Well that was a lie but it was too late not to freak. Six gown and he wasn’t even sure if that was enough. Hell he made them all from scratch and gave different looks for each wedding gown. Each one with different accents and looks he’d even named them after famous icons. Pulling out his phone he texted Val and was super excited. This was amazing Jackie Devonshire said she wanted to see his work and portfolio maybe she’d sponsor a collection? To be certain she did he made accompany looks for Jackie and even Maddie.

When Ricco arrived and told him Selina, Maddie, and Jackie had all arrived. Looking at all the gowns he’d created in a two week span. He smiled as they entered the room. He saw the women faces light up and he knew he’d done something right. They instantly went to the Grace Kelly gown as he called it. It was a Cinderella gown if he’d ever seen one. Then the mermaid Cleopatra gown as he called it Selina loved that one.

“I just want to present them!” Dante said laughing. “Go sit down you have all day to try on these gowns. Ricco please get the ladies a glass of champagne and Maddie a Shirley Temple.”

Ricco nodded and scurried off to get the orders of the drinks.

“They are all so beautiful! Jackie where did you find him? Seriously you are the best mother-in-law ever.” She kissed her cheek. “I love you and you know ever since mom passed I just.I feel you’ve been a mother and it shows this little girl that mother’s aren’t biological.” Selina said as she kissed Maddie’s head. A dick head little boy told her she wasn’t her real mother. Selina kissed her cheeks until they burst into giggles. “I love you Maddie.”

Dante watched smiling at them they were a stunning family. “This is the Grace Kelly it has a eight inch train and gives nothing but drama. If you want to be the Queen of the day this is the Cleopatra gown. If you want to be a California slinky bride we have Gwen Stefani. Daring and dramatic we have the Marilyn Monroe. Sensual and eternally beautiful Liz Taylor dress. My favorite is the Diana Ross gown it’s drama and ladies those dress are yours over there.” He said to Maddie and Jackie. “I also have the sample bridesmaid dress that will match with any gown.”

Jackie and Maddie arrived at Dante’s boutique with Selina and she smiled at her future daughter in law, she had hoped that Chauncey would show a bit more interest in the wedding. She had come of course to see the dresses and if in fact Dante’s portfolio had translated to something she wanted to invest in. While she sat on the board for DGI she also invested in smaller projects and since DGI as a brand was expanding an exclusive fashion line seemed smart it could tie into Max’s hotel chain if they wished. She smiled at the different gowns each one taking her own breath away after Dante would reveal them and the story behind him, Selina would have a hard time picking. Honestly she wondered if Selina was having second thoughts Chauncey had been so disengaged in the wedding planning and it was inching closer. It was the event of the year one everyone was investing in the media, DGI and the family. She touched Selina’s shoulder smiling at her.

“Pick what one you want they are so breathtaking and beautiful and you will look stunning in any of them. This is exquisite work Dante I can see the initial investment will pay off do you have the rest of your sketches with you?” Jackie asked watching Maddie light up at the dresses Dante had designed for them too. She smiled graciously at Dante and then looked at Selina eyeing the gowns again. “Your mother is here in spirit you will look so gorgeous on your day just like she did when she married your father.”

For some reason at this moment she felt her mother’s spirit with him. Slowly she saw the Cleopatra gown which truly reminded her of her mother’s wedding dress. It had white, gold, ash pink and was embedded with hundreds of jewels. It was heavy but stunning and the corset on the back. As she touched the beautiful beads this was the gown. As she looked at Jackie her eyes were blurring as she wiped tears. “My mother would love this dress I know it. I just wish she was here and not.” When she saw Ophelia it was as if her blood ran cold.

“Maddie honey I left my Birkin in the limo could you go get it.” Selina said softly as she looked at Jackie and Dante looking over the sketch book. “Then come in with grandma okay I want to talk to a old friend.” Selina picked up the Cleopatra gown walking out with to see Ophelia.

“Yeah just act like I’m too young to know you’re going to fight with Ophelia.” She said walking toward the limo.

“Mind your business kid.” Selina said rushing out.

“Should we break that up?” Dante said looking at Jackie. As he opened his sketch book with silks and beautiful designs inside. “I really would love to work with you Jackie.You have been the example of class and beauty. The collection is supposed the middle of a woman who is in love with city and finding the ideal man of her dreams. Girls like Max and Selina who are socialites. Feel this fur and stunning leather that’s what those pants are made of.”

Jackie looked at Ophelia enter as Selina made Maddie leave and for now she knew that she would just keep an eye on it. Renards was a respected dress shop and Ophelia had every right to come into it, she couldn’t ban the woman from everything though she had tried. She smiled at Dante as she focused in on his portfolio keeping an eye on Ophelia and Selina out of the corner of her eye. Truthfully Dante’s brand was fresh and invigorating it was also something that the average class buyer could buy, yes DGI wanted their luxury brands but they were also known for their smaller brands as well.

“I would assume that you are ready to go? I was also hoping that we could have something for those that aren’t as well off as Max and Bliss. While my daughters hotel chain is a thing of exquisite beauty the research has shown middle class families will probably purchase reservations as well. Perhaps for a honeymoon or family vacation.” Jackie offered smiling at the eager young designer and his assistant. She flipped a few pages and traced her fingers on the sketch in front of her. “How soon can you start once I transfer the funds?”

Ophelia had ordered her dress a few weeks ago for Selina’s wedding of course it was nothing more than a formal invitation to keep up appearances. She knew that, Selina knew that, Tony knew that she was certain the entire wedding know that but nonetheless she was going. She and Tony had a meeting scheduled for a sit down with Jamal in a few days and she hoped together they could get to the bottom of what was going on with him. She was still worried about her son and she waved at Madeline as the girl made her exit to the limo, why could Selina reach out to her when she wouldn’t let her nurture her when she was a girl? She pushed the bitterness down as she stared at Selina and the dress, which she had to say was breathtaking.

“The dress is lovely.” Ophelia said looking at her former step daughter. Her fingers played with her purse as she waved at Ricco who had dashed off to pick up her dress. Moving some of her hair out of her face she looked at Selina again. “I would like to think your father has talked to you about the other night he told me he would. I know you and I will never see eye to Selina but I am Jamal’s mother.”

“And I respect you as such but to turn an eye to such behavior. Let’s be clear Ophelia my friend didn’t have to tell me a thing. They chose to inform me because of fear that Jamal might be hanging in the wrong circle and crowd.” Simon spotting Jamal at Club XES with those thugs wasn’t a joke or game? As she ran her hand down her dress she looked at Ophelia. “My place is with my blood and Jamal’s blood is mine. I don’t take kindly to being scolded by my father nor will I be scolded by you. I will protect Jamal something you obviously can’t or choose not to do. He’s my blood you’re the interloping bitch who stole my father heart and broke it all over again.” Selina said in a nasty whispery tone nothing too loud nor not loud enough Ophelia couldn’t feel her wrath.

“My father is my father and I adore him. I love him dearly Ophelia he protected me and nurtured me into the woman I am today. At the end of the day you were never good enough for him. You were never good enough.” Selina hissed as she spun in a mirror. “The only reason you are still around is because of Jamal because Jackie, and myself would have been made you leave this city.” This is what she had to say to her. “You will never replace my mother she is the ghost that keeps on haunting you. Gloria say her and fear it because you didn’t replace her. You made her stand on a pedestal and become a stature that’s all the more unattainable to you.” This was it she’d had enough all the lies.

“Go find Ricco and get your things you’re dismissed because now my father will finally see how pathetic you are and I’ll get all the glory to get you gone.” Selina flipped her hair. Scooping it through her fingers. “No up, down I’d need extensions.”

Dante smiled his dreams were coming true his business partner Valentina was excited as him. Thinking before his could talk he blurted out. “For Renards, Macy’s, Burgdorf, and other elite brands possibly six months. I would request each location have signature items the other doesn’t.” Six months to get at least seven store locations done. His heart started to pound! Purses, shoes, scarfs, jewelry, accessories, and of course the clothes. Signature pieces his eyes water again from emotions. “I’m so happy you love it and I think adding some Torrid Beauty, in your daughters hotels also.”

He looked at Selina who was stunning strutting around. However he’d been around rich women long enough. He knew a showdown and the claws were definitely out. “She looks truly exquisite in that gown.” He commented as he watched Ophelia fangs starting to be unleashed and by whatever Selina had turned that latina hot. He knew the look his momma often had it.

“Dismissed I’m a paying customer you spoiled rotten little girl and that is all you are Selina a little girl still hurt that your father remarried and was happy after your mother passed. I am sorry that she died Selina I always have been but I am not sorry I married your father or that I had a life with him. I do regret that I had to constantly put up with you on and off over the years you are not Jamal’s parent and it is about time you learned that I’m glad your father spoke to you.” Ophelia spat back as she watched Dante’s assistant make a step towards her and then retreat out of fear. She was well aware that her affair with David had damaged her and Tony but she also was going to make Selina own her part in their crumbling home life.

“Run me out of town I doubt that, that would require a hospital board meeting and we both know I have more than my fair share of friends there. You think that because you sit on the DGI board that your father gave you his seat to please you that you are powerful. Tell me who is Chauncey’s mistress at the moment? You and I both know the only reason you are even attempting to marry him now is for Maddie.” Ophelia shot back Selina wanted to play dirty so could she Chauncey had screwed a nurse on her service last year for a few months and she had the common decency to not toss it in Selina’s face. “I don’t think Jackie wants Maddie to become the next you.”

“You foul bitch.” Selina said with a menacing hiss. Slowly swirling around from the mirror to face Ophelia. How dare she bring Maddie into this? Who did she think she was? Spoiled she was but if she thought her power was limited that wasn’t a problem. She’d get the board to finally remove the plague that was Ophelia. Each step she took toward Ophelia was terrifying because she’d wanted to do this for years. She’d wanted to say these things to her. She’d wanted to make her see that she’d never and she mean never would make herself a Delacroix wife. Raising her hand up she slapped her with vigor. Swiftly she did it again as years of anger came boiling out of her body.

“You miserable bitch.” She tackled Ophelia into a rack of clothes. “I hate you.” Selina said wrapping her hands around her neck. “You are going to leave!” Grabbing her by her hair she finally had a chance to rip this bitch apart. She finally had a chance to show Ophelia she’d never and meant ever be a Delacroix again. “You were a mistake hell Jamal was a mistake! You aren’t anything but a guttersnipe! You’ll never have my father! Never! Now you don’t speak about my future husband and child!

“Ms. Devonshire please come assist me in separating them.” He said looking at Jackie as he rushed to the floor.

Ophelia stood her ground with Selina as she charged her and slapped her. Her entire body shook with rage at Selina so apparently the truth hurt. She tried to fight back and managed to get her hands free enough to smack Selina right back across the face for all the years of hurt she had caused her. Her eyes filled with tears and she felt Selina’s hands tighten on her throat and her own hands clawed at Seljan’s face. She felt strong arms pull her back and looked at Dante and then saw Jackie dragging Selina off her.

“I don’t hate you I pity you Selina miserable in your own future. I’m not leaving Atlas Falls in fact I’ll stick around to see your misery. Your father still loves me and you should accept that so when we do reunite it won’t be a shock to you.” Ophelia said looking at Jackie and then at Selina as she shrugged Dante off her. She reached her shaking hand for her purse. “I give it a few weeks before Chauncey is spreading someone else for him. You will be home with with Maddie while the man you and I both know you love moves on with Talia Rose.”

Jackie looked between the two and as soon as it got physical she had moved into separate them. Jackie looked at Ophelia as she spoke about Chauncey and looked away her son was unfaithful. A trait which did disappoint her but that was something that she couldn’t change now and she blamed that on Lowell’s affair with Tess with Lowell spoiling Chauncey. Her eyes darted at Ophelia and then at Selina wanting her to know that she supported her no matter what.

“I am sure Selina and my son will be very happy and they can figure it their own marriage. You didn’t like others butting in yours now did you?” Jackie asked with a scowl as she shot a look at Dante. “We would love to see the bridesmaid dresses now forget that Ophelia even attempted to be a part of this.”

“That woman!” Selina shriek scooping up her dress as she charged to the dressing room. “Jackie please take Maddie home I’m late for the appointment at TJ’s. I am so sorry how shameful this must be.” She said hearing Talia Rose’s name ringing in her head. Braden was moving on with her? She was beautiful and smart and her heart was broken. How could she feel like this? After all this was her fault wasn’t it? Chauncey needed a wife to succeed Lowell one day who else but the woman who helped raise his daughter? Selina knew this was a business plan for her soon to be husband but for her this was so much more. This was giving up Braden Fraiser.

“Tell her I’ll bring her a slice of every single one. We’ll eat them together. Or even better I’ll have June box them up and we’ll eat them together. The three of us Jackie? I just have to get out of this dress.” She said gasping a little. Ricco rushed to Selina aide as she tried to get out of the dress. “Please hurry. Get me out of this dress!”

Dante watched the show of the rich. His family had ties to Atlas Falls but his older brother didn’t even know it. He wondered how Diego was doing at Quantico. How he often wanted to just reach out to his brother something deeply. Slowly folding his arms he looked at Ophelia and smiled. “Ophelia we can check you out in beautiful Astoria room where we’ll actually give you a spa day for this incident.” Dante said as he heard Selina scream.

Ophelia looked at Dante as she drug her back to her own fitting room and offered to pay for a spa day at least he was worried about his clientele of course he was Renards was a town staple. He wouldn’t want the boutique slammed in the papers or with her friends that she knew spent good money on things in the boutique. Her friends were just as powerful as Selina’s they weren’t the Devonshire’s but she was respected.

“That won’t be necessary Dante. I’m ready to go now. I am sure the wedding will be lovely in a few weeks won’t it Selina?” Ophelia bit out making sure the last jab hurt.

Jackie looked at Selina as she went to work on helping her out of her dress. Honestly the wedding was closing in on everyone it was just a few weeks away. Over a year of planning and preparations was going into it and it was going to happen. It was the talk of the society pages and she knew it was a power move too for the board Selina marrying Chauncey sent a message to the board to back both of them. She looked at Selina and could see the doubt when Braden was brought up. She loved her god daughter but she also loves her son and she helped take off the dress inside the fitting room.

“Ignore her Selina she is just bitter that she and your father are over.  Things will change once you and Chauncey get married he loves you Selina.” Jackie said trying to force even herself to believe it. Her son could do it be faithful to Selina when he hadn’t in the past. She ran her fingers through Selina’s hair. “I can take Maddie home do you want me to go with you to the bakery?”
“I’m fine just leave me alone for a moment.” She said softly grabbing her dress. Touching the fabric from her wedding dress. Selina looked at Jackie. “I just need a moment.” Turning around she slipped on her dress and saw the bruise on her arms. “Just a moment.” She whispered closing her eyes she thought of Braden.


Miranda had learned a lot in the past few weeks drugs came into the club and while other girls used the only dealer she had spotted was Yasmine. Her nervous approach to the cover had worked enough that the other dancers thought she was ditzy and stupid while Yasmine had quickly became Mia’s friend. She had figured it out on Yasmine’s nights off that she was the one that got the drugs from Ronan’s organization when security wasn’t as tight on her in the club not to mention when a deal was going down Yasmine always broke from working the club to go to the back to get something. She and Zach had been running the operation since she went under Zach was still her partner and he couldn’t be spotted in the club again he was known as a cop so he strictly worked the outside. Surveillance had been their friend the past few weeks and something that had also been able to pick Yasmine as the dealer, they saw her take a bag from an unmarked SUV belonging to Kendrick Watkins Ronan’s second in command.

It was enough to bring her into the station but the DA and feds wanted more. They didn’t care who the dealer was they wanted Ronan meaning she had to stay under hopefully in turn it would mean getting Yasmine to flip. She had observed Yasmine over the past few days heard the rumors that she had lost it with Rory Devonshire a few nights before and since then she had been extra alert. She knew Yasmine was dealing but she wasn’t sure why that was the million dollar question why would a girl with a smart head on her shoulders, that wasn’t a drug user want to be caught up in the drug trade under Ronan Madden. Obviously she owed the man a debt but Miranda was wondering at what cost, Yasmine seemed caring with the other girls minus Yelena and Mercedes. She was gentle with them and even her when she performed her first night at the club so there had to be more to her than just running drugs cause she felt like it. Walking into the fitting room she stopped when she spotted Yasmine hanging up her cell phone looking like she was about to cry.

“Everything alright?” Miranda asked holding her bag on her shoulder as she looked at Yasmine. Honestly the girl looked like she had been struck by a Mac truck or something, her eyes were lined with tears and maybe this was the right time to find out what the deal was with her. Honestly she liked Yasmine and didn’t want to see her continue in the drug trade. “I can come back if you’d like.”

Her mother’s cancer had progressed and she had enough money to help her through this. It almost killed her to see her mom like this. Biting her lip the doctors and mom were optimistic that this was caught early enough. This was a minor setback that Dr. Lydia Fullerton was sure of it. She just couldn’t keep up this lifestyle. Look how she did poor Rory? He was trying to open her heart. Slowly she wiped her eyes with a makeup cloth to get herself ready again. Shaking her head at Mia as she looked at the mirror. Trying to get herself together, trying to not let Yelena and Mercedes see her crying. The pounced on weakness and she was looking weak right now. However Mia was sweet for caring enough to be here during her meltdown.

“I had a scholarship four years ago, I was going to be in the American Ballet Company. I can do it all hip-hop, ballet, ballroom, hell I studied African dance my whole life. One thing my sister and momma didn’t play was me not getting good grades and being at dance practice. Gina that’s my sister she used to say I was going to be a star. That I’d become somebody who everybody wanted and loved. They just used say I was special. Then drugs came into our lives it’s crazy I’m selling the shit that broke my very own family.” Yasmine said grabbing the makeup brush as she started to reapplying her makeup.

“My momma needed rehab and if I was thinking right maybe my pride wouldn’t have lead me down this path. But my sister died four years ago today and nobody knows to this day who did it. Kendrick he’s Ronan right hand man and father to my niece or nephew. He’d pay for my mother’s rehab but I had to do it for Gina. Gina went out there and found momma in the streets. She found momma when she was selling her body. My mother worked the stroll and it’s believed I was maybe a John’s baby. So when I am I going to sacrifice? It was now and I was going to get my mother help. I’m just emotional because my mother’s cancer and Rory. You know that boy was trying to take me away. I can’t bring him into a world where I’m selling drugs, I’m a stripper, and I don’t even know who my father is. I’m just overwhelmed today that’s all.” Yasmine spoke finally getting herself together to her liking.

Miranda watched Mercedes and Yalena leave the room as they both shot Yasmine ugly glares she didn’t expect Yasmine to break that easily though. Listening to her story she understood a bit more why she got in the trade and having Yasmine confirm that she was in the trade was something she and Zach could use to their advantage. Her mind wandered to Yasmine’s sister she remembered the Gina Kohl case a few years back it never made front page news but it was something that was talked about in the station and department. The drive by had left the girl dead and they were sure it was mob related the problem was like everything with the Madden crime family Ronan was smart and covered his ass, they had no evidence to tie him to any of it.

“That must of been very hard. It makes my problems seem so small you know with a raise in rent prices.” Miranda said picking up one of the makeup brushes to help Yasmine with her face. Thank god that her mother and girlfriends at least did each other’s make-up enough that she could play this part. When Yasmine mentioned Rory Devonshire she almost wanted to smack some sense into her from what she knew about Rory he was one of the good ones. When a man like him asked you to go you went it wouldn’t of made this as hard as it was playing on Yasmine to get information out of her. “So you’ve been trading for your mom? Is her cancer getting better at all? You need some extra you let me know alright?”

“Mia I wouldn’t take your money honey, nor would I take Rory’s as much as it was an appealing thought. Think about his parents they’d never go for a girl like me. I mean I was raised over the tracks. I live in the ghetto still, Mia what would the grand Jackie Devonshire or Lowell say to me? I’m too small time for him. I don’t know which fork is which and I can’t be the girl that he needs. Look at us girl were over sexualized barbie dolls. We dance for an image of what they think they want. He knows what I tell him and I just can’t let anyone in my life. Look around Mia.”
Yasmine smiled as she helped her with her makeup. “That’s Nona she’s forty doesn’t look like it does it? Plastic surgery does wonders and she hooked on heroin a coked up mess. She’s lost her children, lost her family, and all she has is the drugs. She’s tried to leave three times got herself clean. So look around and think if any of us truly have a chance. If any of us can really be free of this. Rory doesn’t deserve it or my sins.”

“I’m serious I can ask Philip for an extra shift or something. Honey if I had Rory Devonshire asking to pay my bills I’d let him the boy is obviously into you. You’re lucky most of the men that have come in here and at the other club were not interested in my personal life if you know what I mean.” Miranda said the lie slipping out she hated this she knew Devin hated it. The men objectifying you like their personal fantasy while their hands roamed she felt sad for girls like Yasmine. Girls that didn’t have people like her family or Devin to head home to, those that felt so alone and afraid to turn to this life. “I hear you.”

“Drugs have never really been my thing honestly. Saw too much shit you know as a kid with people that were on that type of game.” Miranda said honestly she had seen a few addicts first hand many of which were informants for her and Zach. She also knew from being around Tamara it was like an ugly disease the crap she had put Braden through over the years, Miranda blinked a few times as she applied some eyeshadow to Yasmine’s lids. “I don’t think Rory would judge you for your sins you know? I always saw myself somewhere else you know not taking it off for a bunch of normally skeevy old men or rich men that have way too much money of their hands. I guess I always wanted normal what about you?”

“Mia cover for me for a few minutes. If they call me on stage go on for me.” She grabbed her purse and walked to the back exit. Opening her purse she pulled out her phone. She dialed Rory’s number he had slipped it to her once. “Rory I don’t think what I did to you was fair. Matter of fact I know it wasn’t. Listen I hope you don’t think I’m one of those girls who plays games. I’m not and I think I want to see you again. I want to be around you because I need some light and sometimes I can’t see in the darkness.” When she pulled her face away from her phone. “I really want to see you again. I’m sorry its hard for me to fly after my wings were broken so much.” Hanging up now she looked at door walking in she wondered if Rory would show up tonight.

“Sorry I just had someone I had to talk to.” She smiled looking at Mia. “I’m glad the Russian sluts are up first it’s been a hard day. I think that we should go out tonight. The Pub I hear they have a new club tonight. I’m not staying all night Mia I want to dance. I want to be free tonight.”

Miranda watched Yasmine walk out the back door excusing herself and made a mental note that she could be flipped if push came to shove, obviously she didn’t like working for Philip. She felt that Yasmine had a heart that she wanted to better her life, but circumstances had changed that pushed her to where she was now. She finished applying her own makeup and felt her bag buzz and looked at her phone and the text from her brother. Apparently the date didn’t go well at all and she took a breath as she was trying to reread it Dani was seeing Jackson Devonshire. She wouldn’t have guessed that but then again her best friend had been secretive about something for the past few weeks and she got it now. She bit her lip focusing back in on Yasmine asking to go out tonight to the Pub she couldn’t her cover would be blown.

“How about we go to that new place downtown? I think it’s called Vertigo or something like that? I’m off I think about two hours after you are.” Miranda said offering Yasmine a smile she couldn’t go to the Pub. The Fraiser’s were like second family to her and they knew she was a cop she could be spotted and blow her cover with Yasmine. “So lets go out dancing, it’s nice to make a friend you know? I feel like that is what we are Yasmine friends.”

“Agreed girl it’s nice not to easy for the few good girls in the world to get along. The fact I got a friend in this world. Girls here are shady and always have a scheme its amazing to see you got my back.” She said slowly hugging her as she pulled back. “Now let’s go shake our asses and then go really show these bitches how we do.” Yasmine took Mia hand finally thinking that she had the friend that would support and help her.

“Vertigo it is girl.” Yasmine said as they grabbed the masks walking to the dance floor.


Braden stood in line at TJ’s waving behind the counter at Tegan Harrison, June’s daughter in law TJ’s had been a staple for so many years and he was there to get snacks for the office. Middle of the day he still had a sweet tooth and TJ’s eclairs were his weakness his entire staff was working overtime to put various cases to close. He also wanted to pick June’s brain about his date with Talia coming up, he was a master at picking a girls favorite dessert had been for years but Talia he noticed at the baseball game was a bit of a wild card. He still couldn’t believe she had said yes to an actual date but he counted his blessings on it too Selina was getting married. The girl he had loved for years was going to marry Chauncey Devonshire. Truth be told that stung knowing she was going to marry someone like Chauncey someone they both knew could be selfish and he knew for a fact over the years Chauncey had cheated on Selina a few times. No matter what leaf he was pretending to show Selina now he would never trust him to not do that to her, shaking his head to wipe the thoughts away he stepped over to the table June and Selina were at. He was pretty certain she was going over her wedding cake design and his heart thumped in his chest at the envy of that. The cake looked exquisite and he expected nothing less from June and Tegan, they were known for the sweets but their cakes were the best in the city.

“I would say the gum paste flowers for sure. June knows what every bride dreams of don’t you?” Braden said looking at his godmother and Selina as June stood and hugged him. He offered Selina a small smile as he hugged June and tried to not let his hurt show that she was really going to marry Chauncey. He shuffled his feet for a bit reminded that Selina had picked Chauncey at the end of the day when she could have picked him. “Getting ready for the big day it’s a few weeks away right? Dani says she’s been overworked making sure everything is lined up, you look good Selina.”

Selina’s body stiffened from the moment she heard his voice. She’d just picked out her wedding dress it was the Cleopatra Gown and she mixed another veil with it. It just made her feel perfect Maddie was at ballet practice and she was here to pick out her wedding cake. Chauncey was late and more than likely not coming. DGI was his worry lately and not her. That scared her when Chauncey wasn’t focused on them he cheated and she wasn’t in the mood to end up like Brenda Kincaid. Embarrassed and the towns gossip. When she saw Braden he was still handsome as ever. For a long time she was in love with that man. A friendship that was their connection and then it bloomed into so much more. It wasn’t until Maddie entered the picture she understood exactly what that girl went through. Chauncey didn’t know how to raise a daughter.


“Dani has been amazing keeping the media at bay which we appreciate your sister was always a smart girl.” She adjusted her cape remove it revealing a tight form fitting red dress with leather accents. Unzipping her gloves she sat at a table as June left to the back. Before Braden arrived June was just saying how she thought this would be for Braden and her. June was always sweet and rooted for them. “It’s not even a month away it’s overwhelming finally marrying the man I love.” She said knowing that would sting Braden’s heart. “This is awkward I don’t have to talk about my wedding when we were planning one a few years ago. You are doing an amazing job DA Fraiser.” Selina couldn’t help it as she walked to him and fixed his tie. “Still awful at tying these huh? You should get a woman for that.”

“I’ll tell her that Lowell has been working her pretty hard the past few weeks she’s happy to do it for you. She knows how much you value your privacy.” Braden said smiling at her as they talked about his sister. Selina and Simon had been the ones to tell her about the job at DGI when she returned back to town and Selina was always kind and gracious to his sister. He suspected it was due to their rooted friendship. When Selina mentioned it was under a month away he shuffled his feet soon she would belong to Chauncey. “I want you to be happy Selina does he make you happy?” His voice trailed off as he looked at her.

“I’m sorry I shouldn’t of said that. This is just it’s hard Selina I can’t pretend that it’s not.” Braden stopped realizing what he was doing with her, to them though they promised not to with each other he was holding onto hope what in the hell was he doing? She was getting married and he had come to pick up eclair’s and ask about dessert for a complex and intriguing woman he was going to go on a date with. He did want Selina to be happy but he didn’t want her to be with a man like Chauncey. Chauncey was an asshole everyone knew it, he cheated and lied. He had been raised better than that something both of his parents instilled in him to treat a lady right it was also the reason he never wanted to see his sister go back to a man like Lex or to see Selina marry Chauncey. “The only women I know that can tie a tie right are you, my mother and sister. Dylan isn’t all that much better at it than I am. How is Maddie?”

“She’s getting big and precocious she has quite the attitude which doesn’t amuse me. She’s sarcastic and a very intuitive girl. Her dancing in the ballet is amazing which is funny because I did ballet and I got her in it.” She said trying to not think about what he just asked her. Looking up at him, she almost wanted to jump out of her skin. Did Chauncey make her happy? What was happiness anyway? It was the fact that she took on Maddie as a daughter that made her so happy. It was so much love she had for her daughter. Closing her eyes she nodded lying knowing he could tell. Knowing he could see through her bravado.

“I love Chauncey and I’m giving my heart a second chance. After all we know heartbreak isn’t something I’m not familiar with. Disappointment hurts much worse than heartbreak and with Chauncey I know not to put my faith in him. This is for me and Maddie so can we not do this. You are doing whatever, and I’m doing this. I’m getting married and I don’t think you are in any place to judge me. I can say one word and it trumps Chauncey, Tamara.” Selina said trying to not seem hurt from rumors he’d been talking to Talia. That girl was stunning and smart. “I’m getting married.” She repeated to assure not just herself but him.

“Dylan said that she’s quite the dancer or at least in school he says she is. I’m glad that despite me and you not working out in the long run that he and Maddie have been able to still be friends. They’re always texting each other or Skyping and it’s been good for him the last few years with some of the Tamara stuff.” Braden managed to get out and then it hung between them talking about her soon to be step daughter and his son. Being able to put what seemed to be in their past behind them and be friends. “I know Chauncey doesn’t like her hanging around him but you know Dylan he is a good kid Selina.”

“You didn’t answer the question does he make you happy? You and I both know how he can be and I don’t want that for you. I want better for you. I want better for you, I want better for my sister for the women I care about I want better. Is that such a crime or such a bad thing?” Braden said looking at her and knowing what she was doing avoiding the big elephant that was her and Chauncey. He knew that Tamara getting pregnant years ago had hurt her he knew that he was well aware of that but he also knew that she had let him go, to do the right thing. They had clawed their way back to each other and then the election happened and they called things off again. “I’m not judging you Selina but I’m also not going to pretend to not care about you or pretend that you marrying him is what I want. You and I both know that isn’t the truth.”

Dodging the question again she folded her arms as the bruises on her arms were showing from her and Ophelia tussle. It wasn’t a bad thing what he was asking as she bit down on lip looking deeply into his eyes. As she turned around she paced slowly thinking about her happiness it was Maddie. A girl who lost a mother at a young age and the pain she knew all too well. Slowly wrapping her arms around herself. She started to cry it was the look of disappointment in Jackie eyes, longing for her mother, and the fact she had faced the fact she was getting married for all the wrong reasons. Yet they were the right reason because legally she would now have claim over Maddie. Her heart and someone who she needed to fight for.

“Braden I find this highly inappropriate.” Selina wiped away her stray tears. “I mean how dare you ask me these questions? Have you moved on from me or Tamara? Have you gotten your happy ending? I am already so stressed with Ophelia not listening and still being apart of a family that she never and I mean never belonged to. I hate that woman and said awful things at Renards. I made quite the spectacle of myself. And now I’m here trying my wedding cakes waiting on my fiance to come here and you ask if I am in love? Please tell June that I’ll return in a hour. Good day Braden.” Selina said trying to act above his question. She knew she wasn’t in love with Chauncey and he wasn’t in love with her. This was a powermove and a moment to gain control over her daughter’s life. If she ever had to help and protect Maddie she could. Chauncey was following Lowell’s footsteps and no offense to Jackie but she wouldn’t stay around. Storming out of TJ’s Selina felt like she was hyperventilating. When she looked around for her chauffer that she called after the brawl. She swore Braden was on her heels she swiftly walked down the street not able to look back. He was the one and she remembered how her mother described her daddy. It was love. That real love and she and Braden had it.

Turning around she ran directly into him. She knew him all too well. “Braden please leave me alone.” She wiped her eyes.

Braden watched her inside TJ’s before seeing the tears in her eyes he hated it when women cried any woman in his life and he felt like an asshole. He was supposed to be going on a date with Talia later in the week but here he was still mulling about Selina. His sister had warned him about it, and he had reminded his sister that sometimes love hurt but you had to fight for it if you really wanted it. Somewhere along the way he and Selina had quit fighting for it in between Lucy going to prison, Dani’s failed engagement to Lex and the election which ate up all of his time they stopped fighting for it. He was the one that had allowed Chauncey to snake back in on Selina when he was too distracted at home with some heavier stuff that was going on with his family. He stood inside the cafe for a moment waved to June and then followed Selina out the door and down the alleyway. He looked at her protest before gently pushing her against the wall wiping the tears out of her eyes and leaning his lips down and gently kissing her. He pressed his body into hers and he didn’t care if it was wrong or if she had Chauncey’s ring on her finger it never belonged there.

“No it’s not too late for us.” Braden said quietly when his lips finally pulled back from hers tugging gently on her lip. He saw it in her eyes her resolve wavering with him and maybe he needed to get this out to her, it would always be her for him and while he liked Talia and it would hurt like hell to let Selina fully go he would do it once she said I do, he wasn’t that guy. He wasn’t a Lex Hessington or a Chauncey Devonshire. “Tell me that you are happy with him that he makes you happy and I will walk away Selina. If not don’t marry him, don’t do that to yourself or us.”

“I have a daughter.” She said pushing Braden back. “I have a child just like you do and I don’t appreciate this. You know how badly I want to run straight into your arms. Do you know how badly I’m dying inside because I do love you? Maddie is my first priority you know that I’m a mother to her. As for this whatever this is. I’m refusing this Braden, I’m refusing to do this because the space between us is awing to kill me. Our love is intense and it broke me and she saved me. I just can’t do this. I can’t do this with you alright because like you I’m a parent to that girl and I love her deeply as if she came out of my very own body. So what happens if I don’t marry Chauncey? I lose her and Braden that’s my daughter so what you’re asking isn’t in the plan.”

Selina eyes watered as she started to cry. Touching his face she couldn’t help it, Selina leaned in for another kiss. His cologne was intoxicating. Her hands brushed over his stubble as she felt her legs trembling out of fear. If she knew anything she was opening up Pandora’s box. They were passionate lovers and what Ophelia said had gotten under her skin. Slowly her lips parted from his as she looked into his brown eyes. “Please stop looking at me like that, I can’t do this. Even though how badly I truly do want this.” Grabbing the lapels on his jacket. “Talia is a smart girl.”

Braden watched her pull back and knew what she was saying was true at least about Maddie Selina was the only mother she knew and had since Logan died in childbirth. He also knew that Selina had built her world and happiness around Maddie since their breakup and he did blame himself for that, she could try and refuse it and ignore it but it was still there. He had went to move away again until he saw her relent and kissed him back pulling him to her. His lips pressed against hers as his hands tangled into her hair and he backed her into the wall again and then she stopped and mentioned Talia. He and Talia were not exactly together at all in fact their date was later he looked at her watching her face choosing his words carefully for her.

“I want to look at you like this because you and I both know that Chauncey will never look at you like I do. You can do this and hell if you wanted too you and Chauncey could work something out for Maddie too, you are Maddie’s mother the only one she knows that doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable to do that.” Braden said softly as he looked at her he stroked her cheek not sure what else to say to her. He would take her away now if she said too, he would take her back to his house make love to her and never let her go again. “Talia is not nor will she ever be you Selina. If you marry him you can’t expect me to just not move on with my life.”

Selina held her head up highly as she looked at him exhaling deeply. Slowly biting her lip she nodded her head. Why did she lose everyone she loved? Her memories of her mother were so imbedded in her mind. She could smell the cooking of her father and her mother elegantly putting together the house. Her eyes flashed into a life of just boring parties and fake kisses. She told herself she wouldn’t cry over the lost potential but she became choked up as she tried to express her words. That was the happiness she wanted and craved but today wasn’t the day. It never seemed like the right time. She pulled herself away wondering why love left her? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

“I can’t do this.” She rushed away as she ran down the alley. Her driver was in front of TJ’s. Her body moved swiftly rushing down the street.S he felt sick as all that she could think of was that she should be marrying Braden. It wasn’t meant to be though. As the driver opened the door she slipped into her town-car. “Please hurry I have a scheduled appointment with the wedding planner. I also have to get to my stylist and the couture jeweler who will be providing my jewels. I am far busy to stop.” To stop and think about what she was about to walk into. Looking back at Braden walking out the alley as she pulled off she turned her head away. Picking up her sunglasses she slipped them on her face. As tears slipped down her cheeks. Selina had to do this for Maddie.

Braden watched her go deciding that it was best not to chase after her, his father had always taught him to respect a woman and so had his grandfather, Selina had made her choice. He couldn’t help but feel like there was a gaping ache now where Selina should be in his heart now though. He would respect her wishes there was not much more he could do to convince her that she was making a mistake now. He shuffled his feet on the asphalt in the alleyway watching her flee to the waiting driver and car at the end of the street. He watched the call pull away from the curb and shoved his hands back inside his pockets before turning and walking away back inside TJ’s. He would still go on the date with Talia and maybe he could try and move on while he was out doing it but deep down he knew that wasn’t possible he hadn’t lied no woman would ever be Selina to him. Taking a breath he shook his head fighting back the sting behind his eyes cursing himself for letting Selina go when he was too focused on all the shit his family was going through in the first place.


Max lay on the sofa her skirt bunched around her waist as Philip laid on top of her spent from the past hour in his office. In truth she didn’t want to head back to work at DGI but she also couldn’t stay much longer or someone would start to ask questions, they already were. Hunter had moved back into the Kincaid mansion a few weeks ago officially starting what she assumed was their separation. She should have been thrilled with that but laying underneath Philip while he kissed her neck in the afterglow of fucking her mind was only on Hunter being with Bliss. Bliss had made it known that she was going after Hunter and well she was way too stubborn to just roll over and let her sister push her out of her own marriage and Hunter’s life. Plus Hunter wouldn’t be that stupid would he? Hunter had a lot to lose in the divorce his half of the resort along with his trust fund if either of them had proof of an affair. She had been so careful over the last few weeks ditching the PI that Hunter had hired, skirting around and thank God for the PR team. Simon was always on his a-game when it came to her affair nearly being caught and was quick to make sure he and Dani had squashed it. She let out a sigh as she stroked Philip’s back for a moment looking at the clock. She needed to get back to the office they were in the middle of a few deals and she was sure her assistant would be calling soon anyway asking where she was.

“I really need to go.” Max said gently pushing him off her and her body already felt lost without him inside of her, how had they gotten here? What was supposed to be just a fling had quickly become a full on affair with Philip and she could tell that he was starting to grow tired of their game it was etched on his face. Surely he didn’t expect her to leave Hunter for him of all people. “We’ve been over this Philip I can’t stay too long. Someone could find out if they haven’t already.”

Philip grabbed her face as he looked into her eyes. He slowly let his tongue slither into her mouth as they kissed passionately. It was something about this woman that ever since he got inside her he couldn’t get enough of her. He licked her neck refusing to let her go. His eyes focused on her still wet pussy. A kiss got her that wet but Hunter was who she went home to every night. “I am so sick of you playing with me divorce him Max this isn’t my thing. Sneaking around like I’m a fucking adolescent. I am a fucking adult and I want you. Give him what he wants and I’ll break Hunter legs if he goes after your shares. Babe you are it for me. Now you may not see it but I do we are perfect fit. We are right.”

Philip let his tight grip of her go again kissing her lips as he started to dress. This started out as fucking Devonshire’s daughter. Now feelings had been involved, and it seemed Max was running away. “Now tell me Hunter makes your body quiver, tell me that you think of him when you please yourself. No goodboy doesn’t make love like me. I’ve gotten in your skin I’m  all over you girl.” He said slowly whispering in her ear. Philip walked behind her wrapping his arms around her body. Buttoning up her shirt for her. “Tell me Max do you want to be trapped by a prenuptial agreement? Or can we destroy the boy scout with that tart of a sister Bliss?”

Max leaned her mouth into his for the kiss feeling herself getting lost in it once again it was just supposed to be a fling yet here she was wanting to stay. She looked at him when he mentioned she was playing games with him she was, she had no intention to dissolve her marriage now that Bliss was in town. No that meant that her sister could get her claws into Hunter and she would rather die than let that happen. Bliss needed to go back to whatever hole or country her father had stashed her away at over the years and stay out of their family. She looked at Philip when he finally let go and she lowered her skirt reaching for her panties on the floor. They were still wet and she slipped them on while he spoke about wanting to be with her, right now that wasn’t going to happen her father had a lot riding on a business contract on the casino that they needed Steven’s backing for as mayor. If things were to go south with her and Hunter that would jeapordize the entire project costing DGI huge loses.

“Or are you scared your sister will make him happy? You know you can’t have us both one day you’re going to have to choose. But maybe I’ll contact Bliss and get her to move things along faster. Unless you still have feelings for him?” When Max didn’t answer quickly enough Philip’s natural jealous streak roared. How could she not see he was compatible with her in every way. It seemed like excuse after excuse with her. He just was starting to feel like they’d never stop sneaking around. As he laid back on his desk his shook his head grabbing the watered down scotch on his desk. “I don’t need a hand out from you or the Devonshire’s I’ve made a business out of exploiting women. Just like your father made a business out of destroying others.”

Philip guzzled down the scotch wondering if his anger. “You say it’s not about that but let’s prove your notion.” Walking around his desk he picked up his phone and dialed up Everest Ski Resort. “Hello my name is Aurik and I’m one of Ms. Devonshire’s many couture designers.” Holding his nose to sound as proper as possible. “Darling is sending me to voicemail because I changed my number can you please connect me.” The receptionist connected him and he smiled. “Now let’s put your logic to the test. Bliss wants Hunter let me work with her to expose him and you keep your shares and maybe take some of that old Kincaid blue blood money.”

“Please my sister is gunning for him she was all but draping all over him and Hunter knows better. I spend my early nights and afternoons with you Philip that should be enough. With the deal at DGI going down I can’t afford to disappoint or jeapordize that trust me my father has enough on his hands at the moment.” Max said placing on her heels while she began to make sure she had the rest of her belongings. She straightened her hair while she looked at Philip make his way to his desk and his scotch avoiding the question about Hunter she and Hunter had been together for years and she did care about him. “No you don’t need a hand out here at the Club but the business wouldn’t hurt the club now would it? You are no where in the league of my father, you have a nice club. A fantasy you sell people but everyone knows that is all it is Philip a fantasy.”

Max watched him pick up the phone and call the Everest Resort and felt her blood boil he wasn’t playing with the Bliss thing he made that very clear. She debated about her next move for a few seconds while the receptionist connected the call and walking to the phone on his desk she hung up the receiver catching a glare from him. She didn’t need his help to secure her divorce from Hunter but she was going to be smart about it. Her eyes flamed at him when he mentioned Hunter’s money and she nearly laughed she had more than he did she heard her phone buzz about a meeting at DGI her father was calling. “You are not second to Hunter but if you stand in my way of how I choose to handle this and end my marriage Philip I won’t continue this.”

“That’s fine Max. Then how about this get your uptity ass out my club. It’s over.” Philip said knowing it was no where near over. He wanted Max and he wouldn’t stop until he had her. “You can’t have it your way babe, I’ve spent my life dealing with unbelievable things. My fantasy is expanding very soon and I’ll be in major cities. So don’t compare me to your father his success was built on stealing another man’s ideas. Project Andromedia? Or something like that correct so check your attitude.” The truth was he wasn’t some poor kid. He however wasn’t swimming in money like Max.

Philip walked to Max wrapping his arms around her tiny waist. As he snarled looking furiously yet passionate all at once. “I can’t seem to understand why you won’t take my assistance on this matter. I will not wait and I won’t cower to you. You don’t get to stomp your foot and I stop. I’ve tasted a bit of you and I love what I have gotten. Now at the end of the day you know what you want. You know I’m what feels the best but you want one thing. You want to spite Bliss for being born. You want Bliss to not have him because he was your toy first. Grow up little girl because everyone wasn’t handed the world, and to be honest I won’t be sticking around if you. Continue down this path of playing me like a yo yo I’m nobodys play toy. So either you do this with me or you run but I’m ready. And so is Hunter because.” He grabbed her face. “Bliss and he are getting oh so close.”

“I’ll leave I have no problem leaving.” Max said glaring at him Philip infuriated her to no avail and she supposed that was part of his appeal. She looked at him with a sneer part of DGI would always be haunted due to how her father got the company and the software that made them millions every year in revenue. In truth it was also bragging rights too that her father would do whatever it took to make a deal happen the lengths he would go to. She felt her phone buzz and took it out of her purse to look at the message that her father was calling a family meeting at DGI. It was late after normal working hours so it had to be important for him to call one this late at night. “At least my father has the balls to take what he wants. I take what I want Philip just like my father did just like my siblings do remember that.”

“Because I don’t want your assistance I will divorce Hunter when I am good and ready you knew that when we started this. I still need something from him. I hate my sister I hate the fact she is in town I hate the fact she exists and I will not bend down and let her think she has a place, my place.” Max spat back at him pulling her face away from his grip and putting her purse on her shoulder. He was right she was doing this to spite Bliss she wasn’t ready to roll over and let that little bitch take over her life and her place. Grabbing her coat from his desk where he had thrown it when they had been ripping and pawing at each other she put it on. Taking out some lipstick from her purse she applied the color while she and Philip stared each other down. “I have a meeting I need to get to.”

“Then go.” Philip slammed his fist down on the desk as he looked at Max. “I am very sure that you’re going to need me. You’re going to come back begging for the sex that I know you need. Say what you want little bird but it’s time to make a choice it’s either me or him and just like you I’m not secondary to none.” He  walked to the door and opened it for her as he watched her stalk down the hallway of the club. “And I’m not waiting forever Maximilla. Not for you or anyone. So maybe I can call Bliss she seems to be the hotter model of you.” He slammed the door behind her on her way out of his office knowing that pissed her off.


Devin didn’t know why he was so anxious but he had been for the last week ever since Miranda had went undercover he hated her going to the club. He hated the thought of other men staring at her and groping her and while she didn’t talk about how it made her feel he couldn’t help but think she hated it too. He had instead put hours into the Steven Kincaid murder case and while he should have been at home doing anything else he couldn’t. He and Miranda spent her off days at the club on the other side of town her out of her wig where they made love and talked about a future. A future he wasn’t so sure about especially now that Jon was his partner how long did he have to keep sneaking out the window in Miranda’s master when Jon would come by? It wasn’t like Miranda was a teenager anymore she was a grown woman. They had been waiting for the bullet forensics to come back for over a week and he had got the text the results were in and was sitting inside locker room waiting for Jon to arrive. Jon who was out with Dani Fraiser he was happy for his friend don’t get him wrong he really was but he also knew how Dani could be she hadn’t dated since she came home and she wasn’t the same girl they grew up with either. In his opinion Jon had to man up with her or not at this point. He folded his arms as he saw Jon finally enter and only hoped Jon hadn’t figured out his own relationship with his sister yet it was awkward enough.

“Finally you’re here. How did it go?” Devin asked trying to break the ice with Jon who he wasn’t sure if he looked pissed or confused obviously something had happened. He hoped it had worked out for Miranda who really wanted her brother happy and his girlfriend had been dreaming for years of her best friend getting with her brother. “Beth said she was on her way with the results so we should know at least the type of gun and she got a hit she said to another case.”

“That’s good I guess.” Jon said looking at Devin as he unbuttoned his shirt inside the locker room. He threw his bag inside the locker as he looked at Devin. “Do you believe she’s dating Jackson fucking Devonshire? I can’t get rid of that guy after Skye I thought us sharing a woman was over. The type of girl that I go after is nothing like the type Jackson goes after. What the fuck?” He said folding his arms as he placed on his work clothes. “Devin I swear to God the guy has a radar when I have my eye on a woman. What makes this all the more worse I’ve done some serious thinking. She was special you know I waited and look at me with egg on my face. Devin if you would have saw her.” He paused as he looked at his old friend. “She was ashamed for me.”

Jon nodded hearing that Beth was coming as he folded his arms as he looked at Devin. “This is so shameful look at me. I’m angry at work and not thinking with a level head. After all we went through I thought we were perfect you know? I wanted to love her man. It’s a shame man. It’s a true shame that Devonshire gets every fucking thing.” He shook his head and slammed his locker. “Let’s get this case started.” He said walking away through the doorway outside of the locker room.

Devin had to do a double take when Dani’s name was mentioned in the same sentence as Jackson yeah she worked for the Devonshire’s but dating one? That went against their social norm and not to mentioned he could only imagine a field day that was coming if Walter knew. He could see why Jon was in a foul mood but he also knew that Jon was in love with Dani before Lex, before college and now even though she was home he didn’t really know Dani anymore. He could say that maybe Miranda knew Dani and so did Zach and Braden but they weren’t kids anymore. He also got why Dani didn’t tell anyone about seeing Jackson Miranda or otherwise it would be frowned upon, Jackson had a record and was known for the party and drug scene.

“I know she works for them pissed her dad clean off I can see why she wasn’t blasting it from the rooftops if you know what I mean. She’s not the same girl anymore Jon you were gone a long time, she went to college she’s not the same sixteen year old kid you used to cast glances at.” Devin said not wanting to hurt Jon’s ego anymore than he had to but wanted to point out the logistics of everything. It was a shame that she couldn’t see Jon was decent but that was on her and not something Jon should carry as he followed him out of the locker room. “You’ll find the right girl Jon it might just take longer than you would like. As for the case hopefully this will give us the lead we need, hey Miranda hasn’t checked in with you today has she? I was hoping she and Zach would have had something by now.”

Jon hated the fact that Miranda was stripping at Philip Montgomery’s sleazy ass club. When her husband died two years ago at the hands of Ronan or at least that what she believed. He was sure that Ronan had something to do with his brother-in-law death. As he slowly walked down the hallway Beth walked up and handed him a forensic report on Steven and Carla’s murderer. Beth stood with a sappy smile on her face.

“It was a 9 millimeter and the bullets had no serial number not only that but want to hear the best part. The bullets were rare from New Orleans where the bullets explode inside the body. Both died instantaneously. Not only that but they are Opper Killer. Get it cop killers? They pierce through the skull not only that but we have proof when we brought in Kendrick Watkins, he had these bullets. Well let me say this Kendrick is our man. I just want to know why he did this to Steven when it’s rumored Steven and Ronan had a partnership.” Beth said looking Devin and Jon.

“It figures your people would do this.” Shaking his head Jon instantly felt that came out wrong. Everyone knew Devin ran with a rough crowd in high school. Looking at Devin he saw his rage fuming. His people he sounded like he was in the fifties. Huffing he folded his arms he looked at Beth whose face had gotten bright red from shock or fear about what was about to happen. “Devin I was just saying he was one of your friends in high school don’t turn this into a race thing man. I didn’t mean it like that and you know I’m not a racist.” Jon said matter of factly. “It just came out really wrong.”

“My people? Are you fucking kidding me you come back here after what years being gone and just expect everyone to be the same? Of course it has to be the black guy Ronan is smart what motive would he possibly have to want Steven gone? They had a good relationship from what we gathered I doubt Walter will be as cooperative.” Devin said his anger full on flaring at Jon no wonder his date with Dani went to shit. He hadn’t run with Kendrick since high school he wasn’t a damn fool and as soon as Kendrick began getting into the dealing and running for Michael Madden he was out. “I haven’t spoken to Kendrick since we brought him in six months ago. You want to be pissed at Dani for being a bitch be that to her man. Anyone could have killed Ronan and I still think it makes no sense whatsoever for him to do it and you’re right race doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it.” Devin said as he saw Zach and Miranda approaching down the hall and glared at them one of them better step in or he swore to God almighty Jon would be on his ass soon.

Zach heard Devin say race doesn’t have anything to do with it. Then he saw Beth scurrying away. He just felt like something bad had happened. Looking at Devin’s expression it was really bad. Did Jon say nigger or something. He’d never said the word before in his life but God Jon wasn’t that ignorant or stupid. None of them had been raised to see color. He just seemed lost for words. “What in the fuck is going on?” Pulling Devin back a little as he looked at Miranda pushing her brother back.

“Devin I swear I didn’t mean it like that.” Jon said looking at Miranda who looked pissed. “Sis I said something and it came out completely wrong. I just feel stupid as hell. I’m stupid as hell Devin.” He said trying to apologize for how much of a ass he was. He was upset about Dani and was saying the absolute wrong thing.

“Jon has always had a way with words, come on Devin he’s saying sorry for whatever he said.” Zach said trying to calm him down. Leaning in he whispered. “And you’re secretly fucking his sister.”

Miranda had met up with Zach in between getting out of her shift at the club and meeting Yasmine later long enough to shower and go over what she had learned. She and Zach had agreed that Yasmine could be flipped it was just a matter of time and working her. She had been grateful for the hot shower after being on that stage for her shift however walking down the hallway and seeing her boyfriend about to lay out her brother she was concerned. Devin was pissed in the past six months they had been together she had never seen him so mad. She shot Jon a glare as she pushed him back and saw Zach hold back Devin.

“What in the hell is going on? What did you say?” Miranda asked she knew her brother was upset about Dani and she felt responsible for it. How could Dani not fall in love with her brother one of the best guys she knew? Jon was an upgrade from Lex times ten and it wasn’t like Dani told her she was seeing Jackson. So really it was her fault for having or thinking that Dani was into her brother. She also was kinda mad at her best friend for giving her that impression by leaning on Jon so heavily after Lex. “Well?”

“Jon over there wanted to kindly point out he thinks a black man killed Steven and Carla already judging before we even can trace the gun. He’s just pissed that Dani is fucking Devonshire maybe he gives her what you can’t.” Devin spat at Jon with rage he was still riled up about Jon’s comments. He saw Miranda and Zach shoot him a look and threw his hands up stepping back from Zach and looking at Jon.

“Truth sting a little Jon? That is the real reason you are pissed does it feel like Skye all over for you again? Didn’t after Skye have a turn with him she was back to fucking you who knows maybe it’ll be a repeat this time.” Devin knew it was a low blow when he said it and judging by the looks around the hallway he felt like an asshole afterwards. Zach was looking at him like he could deck him for comparing his cousin to Skye. Miranda looked horrified at him and he knew it was the anger at Jon’s comments that was setting him off too.

“I apologize for how that came out but fuck you. You know I’m glad I said it you know why? We can stop pretending that we are friends or even give a fuck about each other. Go to hell Thompson tell the captain I’m going home for the day.” He brushed past Miranda who was staring an evil glint at both Devin and him. “You know what makes matters worse? I divulged all that shit to you because I wanted to build our friendship. Just so you know I don’t think all black men are criminals. I think the hooligans you fucking left me behind for are though.” Jon said as he stormed away into the locker room.

“Jon wait.” Zach said looking at Devin. “Really? You two are worse than high schoolers you knew he didn’t mean that. Then you throw whatever in the hell happened with Dani in his face. Real mature Devin.” Zach walked off shaking his head as he turned around. “Just remember you’re secretly fucking his baby sister behind his back.”

Miranda watched Jon stalk off along with Zach and then cut her eyes at her boyfriend. Skye was a sore spot for Jon had been for a few years and she got that Devin was angry but Dani was not Skye. Placing her hand on her hip and glaring at him she took a breath agreeing with Zach fully Devin was acting like a high schooler. “You know when you decide to apologize to my brother for the Skye shit call me. Don’t bother coming over tonight after I’m done with Yasmine.” Letting out a breath she walked away from Devin and down to the locker rooms.

Devin watched them all leave the hallway and let out an exasperated sigh great not only was Jon not going to do his shift, Zach was pissed at him and he and Miranda were now in a scuffle. He knew what he said was out of line there was no secret that Jon had been a mess when he returned home two years ago and started his affair with Skye. He just had barely gotten his act together when Dani came home after Lex. He and Zach had been friends for years, he and Braden were friends and you didn’t talk shit about your friends sister or cousin period. Nothing killed him more than Miranda glaring at him and angry at him. Yes they had been seeing each other afraid to tell her brother about their relationship but he was in love with her and seeing her hurt he hung his head in shame. He shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked down the hallway to the captain’s office. He had a lot of thinking about the case to do and how he was going to get back on Miranda’s good side. He doubted he would be in the clear with her anytime soon.


Chauncey looked out the windows of the room at the city skyline while he waited with his father for the rest of his siblings to arrive. He already knew what was going to happen his father was telling them he was letting Bliss into the company he had already seen the paperwork, Bliss his child with another woman handed a position. He poured himself a drink ignoring a phone call from Selina as he thought about his upcoming wedding in a few more weeks. If he was being truthful with himself he wasn’t thinking about Selina any longer he hadn’t been since his encounter with the lovely Mrs. Westwood a few weeks back. He watched the next door mansion late at night hoping to catch a glimpse of her in the shadows while Selina slept. He loved Selina of course he did she had been there when Logan died, had devoted her life to helping him raise Madeline but he also knew he had a wandering eye. He always had according to his mother it was one of his less desirable traits. He looked back over at his father a tight lipped scowl nearly forming he had worked his ass off at DGI and yet here his father was giving out a position to Bliss and taking on his drug-addicted brothers ideas as a reality.

“Are you sure that Bliss can handle working here father? Have you put any more thought into bringing Mr. Westwood on? I have been reading over the reports on Jackson’s oil project are we sure we want to invest the money and the time into that? He’s never followed through on a single thing in his life.” Chauncey said looking at his father one thing Lowell had taught him DGI came first. His brother and Dani were asking for a lot of money to get his brother’s pet project up and running. He’d venture to guess Jackson was fucking her too with how much time they did spend together and how they looked at each other. He swirled his drink in front of him while he watched his father contemplate his response seeing the doors open and Jackson and Rory enter before looking at Jackson. “Aw where is your sitter?”

Rory had ridden in the limo with Jackson in silence after Jackson all but confessed to him how he felt about Dani and decided to drop it. He supposed Jackson had a point dinners wouldn’t be pleasant but he also didn’t think their happiness had to be a sacrifice either. The ball was in his brother’s court on whether or not he decided to tell Dani how he really felt. He had checked his voicemail a few more times with no more messages from Diamond. He just hoped the meeting was fast and quick and if he was really lucky he could go to the club and see her. Walking into the conference room he nodded at his father and really wanted to punch Chauncey with what just happened at the restaurant the last thing Jackson needed was to be riled up.

“Father. Stop it Chauncey I’m pretty sure this is a family only meeting otherwise dad would have Simon, Selina and Dani here. Right father?” Rory asked looking at his father and then shooting Jackson a look to tell him to ignore Chauncey. He saw the papers his father had out of the corner of his eyes and realized he was letting Bliss into the company and he was going to talk about the oil project, he only hoped it wasn’t a set up for Jackson. His father had done it plenty of times given Jackson an ounce to take it away. “Max said she was on her way.”

Jackson’s jaw locked hearing Chauncey’s little bitchy comments about him. It felt like he was a child again. How Chauncey chastised him felt much more vindictive though now. Yes he was still on drugs but now he was infuriated. He couldn’t help it as he folded his arms looking at his elder brother with a deadly stare. Slowly he sat down at the table he smirked at Chauncey. “I told myself I wouldn’t act like a spoiled ass child. Nepotism is running rampant I mean are you that intimidated that I might have my shit together? It’s pathetic how you slither to father and whisper in his ear. It’s even more pathetic that we are supposed to be brothers and you can’t stop acting like I’m your enemy. I’m not but if you want to prove you are the right man for the job to succeed father let’s see it. Let’s see how you take over you weak son of bitch. You’ll never be me because you see why father hates me so much is because I’m the one with the wasted potential. But I’m not wasting it any longer.” Jackson said leaning back. “Scared my deal with the sheik could change everything?”

Lowell watched Jackson lash out at Chauncey and Rory’s lowered head. It was true out of all his children Jackson was the one with the most potential. That hurt he saw in his son’s face he wondered if he had pushed Jackson too far. However the potential in his son was limitless, yet Chauncey was the son who was consistent. Rory had yet to prove which way he’d waiver while Max could be a worthy contender but she was too wrapped in romance. If Bliss’s need to be love could be tamed she’d also be a contender but as for now she wasn’t even in the running for her little stunt. “Enough you two.” Lowell said raising his hand.

Bliss briskly entered the room as she looked at Chauncey, Rory, and Jackson sitting at the large marble table. “Great a family reunion.” She said sarcastically as she pulled out her chair sitting down. “So what does this meeting entail?”

Max had arrived at DGI after leaving Philip’s office she supposed that it had given her something to think about her entire affair with Philip. She waved to the doorman on her way into the building and in the elevator ride up wondering what the meeting could be about. She was met with her answer when she saw her father and her siblings at the table and she shot Bliss a sneer and glare, then looked at her father he was letting Bliss into the company. She saw Jackson and Chauncey glaring at each other and shot a look to Rory she’d find out what was going on later. Taking a seat next to Jackson she continued to glare.

“I would assume this is important. If you’re planning on bringing her in father I’d suggest a good image campaign her little reveal caused quite the uproar.” Max spat how could her father do this disrespect her mother this way, insult she and her siblings like this. It was true business had been on shaky ground with the hornets nest Bliss stirred with her announcement.

Chauncey wanted to roll his eyes at his brother and he should have heeded his father’s warning but he couldn’t help himself.  “No Jackson I’m not you see you’ll never be me. You’ll never have a woman to stand by you and love you. You’ll never have a child that adores you. You’ll never be the image that father needs you to be to run this company. You see that would require you to actually be sober and give a shit about someone other than yourself. We both know you can’t do that.” He looked at his father and shrugged as he caught Rory glaring at him as he looked at Bliss. “Welcome to the table.”

Rory could have swore he saw Jackson see red and shook his head putting a hand on Jackson’s shoulder. Sure Jackson was bad at showing his feelings half the time but he could do it when he was sober as kids before the drugs took over he did it. He just saw it literally not an hour ago with Dani, his brother could feel and did and he hated that Chauncey was trying to bait him. He shot Max a look to tell her they would talk after and then looked helpless at Bliss. “I actually think the oil plan is good, oil is big right now. Hi Bliss.”

“My image is that I have a masters in business and I’m a fucking brilliant mind so I don’t need your opinion about my father’s choices.” Bliss said swiftly cutting her eyes at Max. “Let’s just get to the nitty gritty you hate the fact that I’ve befriended Hunter and you hate that I’m not a whore like you. That some of us take our wedding vows seriously and don’t cheat.” She shot her eyes at Chauncey and Max. “Sad isn’t it? If daddy would have taught you all how to keep it in the pants then I wouldn’t be here.”

“Enough Bliss.” Jackson said seeing where she was going with her little jab. Everyone knew Max was screwing Philip it wasn’t a closed secret but no need for them two to be fighting. “Trust me don’t go down that path with a sibling it only leads to one being favored. Considering you are new the odds aren’t in your favor.”

“And they are in yours? I mean you’ve never been loved by this man but you sit here and judge me? It’s shameful how some of you bow to our father.” Bliss was about to continue but Lowell’s face said it all.

“Yes I’m bringing Bliss in.” Lowell said looking at Max. “I am bringing her on board because in Europe she was one of the best students in Cambridge. Do you all know what’s shameful? Our third quarterly reviews that’s what’s shameful! I won’t let your egos and attitudes destroy my linage. Now Jackson to be honest what Chauncey was saying was the truth. It was more than the truth. You have been a failure to not just me but Max, and Rory who constantly and continuously try to help and make you better. Yet have you proven to anyone that you want truly better for yourself. So tell me Chauncey what do you presume as another energy resource besides oil?”

“Father the oil business is something that could still be a proper market. Not only oil I have some clean energy resources along with the oil.” Jackson chimed in instantly.

“I was asking Chauncey what would he do and why isn’t Dani here? She convinced me of this and I want her to know if you fail so does she.” Lowell said stopping Jackson again.

“Dad, Dani has nothing to do with this it’s my project.” Jackson said looking at his siblings.

“Chauncey please continue with your idea with the energy market.” Lowell said shutting up Jackson for the last the time.

“Dani I think went home she wasn’t feeling well.” Rory said speaking up finally as he looked at Jackson covering for him. It was better than the truth that she looked like an emotional train wreck after Jackson pushed her away at the restaurant. He realized that when his dad asked about Dani if she and his brother couldn’t close the oil deal, that meant his dad would fire her. He always did that punish Jackson if he failed with something. “I say we let Jackson and Dani at least try and close the deal with the sheik before we all just decide it’s not worth pursuing. Dad you saw the preliminary reports it’s a fucking goldmine.”

Max watched the exchange fuming at Bliss as she did so honestly she didn’t know if her brother was still using or not. If he was he was doing a stellar job of hiding it and she too like Rory supported Jackson’s project. Dani had been encouraging for her brother she was a good influence on him. She had seen them together and she didn’t know how to put it Jackson seemed happy around her and Dani looked at her brother like she used to in high school. She had seen Jackson look back at Dani too at work and she had wondered if something was going on between them.

“To bad Dani isn’t here she could start on Bliss sooner rather than later. As for the oil project I think it’s a good prospect. Jackson has worked really hard on it with Dani. Rory has a point.” Max said looking at her father honestly she owed Dani, she was good at her job and kept her affair with Philip out of the papers. Plus in this case she felt like Jackson didn’t need her father just ripping this project away from him at the moment, he needed this too. She always had her twins back. She shot her eyes back at Bliss it was war now. “Do tell sister how is my husband? Has he been to your suite lately?”

“I think natural gas would be a good alternative. The oil project is going to have roadblocks in it politically Walter is going to fight you on it. It takes a lot of time for a board vote and not only that you’re going to have to get the sheik on board and that would require a good business meeting he doesn’t work with just anyone.” Chauncey said looking at his father and then over at his brother. He could see the potential in Jackson and that scared him but he also knew Jackson couldn’t follow through.

When his father mentioned he wanted Dani at the meeting he got why her job was on the line too. They’d went through a lot of publicists over the years until his father picked Dani. He attributed that to the fact Dani had a masters in business was politically connected and she was good at her job. Chauncey looked at his father and then back at Jackson. “Dani is involved because her name is on the proposal with yours. A project like this isn’t something you just get to tinker around with until you get bored and move on. It takes a lot of commitment.”

“Depending on the sheik I may be some help. I vacationed in Egypt and a few other locations so dear older brother that isn’t a problem. My business connections are vast and deep. So if Jackson is looking to dabble in the oil game I have a few friends.” Bliss said looking at Jackson smile and Max’s clear disdain. “I mean let’s be real if DGI actually cracked into the oil business then what Chauncey is true. In America and all over the world we are needing more clean energy but oil is still highly profitable. We need to be in both lanes.” Bliss said not fully saving either brother.

Lowell looked at Bliss nodding her head. “I also want to say if any have heard of Zerick Westwood, please speak now. Good or bad I’m closing rank on a company. So if any of you have heard anything? Simon has found nothing.”

“Did you say Zerick Westwood? He’s a very influential business man in Europe. I know him and have been in the same circle.” Bliss said once again triumphing that bitch Max. “Tell me is he planning on taking over a company for us because Zerick’s specialty is dismantling companies?”

“So as my sister said I have connections let me do this father.” Jackson commanded looking at his father. “Please let me do this.”

“I’m trusting you with this Jackson, and yes Bliss I plan on him taking over oil giant SandstarOil. To have him would be a asset.” Lowell said looking at the room. “Class dismissed.” He said with sarcasm.


Ronan sat inside the private booth with Kendrick going over the numbers for the club for the last few months the club had been profitable beyond that for him. It was a good business investment with Philip though now it was coming down to something else Yasmine was nearly done with what she owed him, she was their biggest money maker. He cast a glance at Kendrick it wasn’t something he would bring up tonight to Philip perhaps later Kendrick was like an older brother to Yasmine. However, Yasmine was the one that came to him for the job to strip and to run the drugs that he needed through the club to the more expensive men that desired that. He saw Mercedes approach their table in her bra and thong and took a breath. He hadn’t been with her in weeks, honestly his mind was still on Brooke Kincaid. He had taken a few steps back from Brooke since their kiss at the cemetery it was dangerous to be around her with Thor’s threats, threats that he took seriously. Thor hadn’t retaliated since that night with him but perhaps that was a good thing. Mercedes slid into the booth next to him leaning into him and he pulled back waving her away as he focused in on the paperwork.

“Everything alright boss?”

Kenrick’s voice brought him out of his thoughts and Ronan looked up at him, yes it was unusual for him to not have company at night a man had needs. Truthfully he hadn’t been feeling it though perhaps it was a rut or that Benny’s death was haunting him. At night he would close his eyes and hear his screams in his head, the dream would change to Brooke and their kiss only to end in a trail of blood. He nodded his head at Kendrick his eyes scanning the club where they landed on Dante Gonzales and his interest was peaked. He picked up his scotch on the rocks and nodded his head at Kendrick to Dante’s direction.

“We have a mutual friend that has arrived do have Ivan bring him over.” Ronan said looking at Kendrick as he got up from the table to go to Dante and whispered to Ivan to bring Dante over. He placed the papers down as Dante approached the table and he folded his hands on it looking at him. “Hello Dante.”

“Don’t hello Dante me.” He said in a nasty tone. “I’m only here because my brother and what you’ve done to my family. This is the last import you’ll get out of Renards use that strip club you seem to be so found of. I’m done and tell him that. It’s funny Diego is a cop a FBI agent and we are.” He paused knowing his brother didn’t know what their family lineage was. It was enough to make him cry as he folded his arms. “Cape Kenitrich does that that town sound familiar you tell him that he does his own dirty work? I’ll scream the truth from the rafters of this town so go to hell.” Throwing down a Gucci bookbag full of drugs. As he looked at Kendrick and Ivan. He noticed the disgust on Ivan’s face. At least Kendrick wasn’t a homophobe.

“What the fuck are you looking at?” Dante said looking at Ronan. “I’m not hanging for and with Jackie investing in me I don’t need your dirty money.” Just as he stood he felt Kendrick pushing him back down. “Get your damn hands off of me. Do you know who my brother is? Huh? I swear to God you’ll be buried if you place a finger on me. I’ll bury you and don’t you forget it.”

“You are done when I say you are done Dante you see you still owe me a debt did you really think it would be that easy? I know where you live, I know your boyfriend is a cop I know where he lives, where his family lives. Currently until the casino deal is acquired I will still be needing Renards a bit further.” Ronan said watching Kendrick place Dante back down in his seat on the table. He picked up his drink taking a sip of the liquid as he looked at Dante he knew who Dante’s brother was a pain in his ass and had been for years. He and agent Gonzales had been playing quite the game of cat and mouse over the years. “I am quite aware of where Cape Kentirich is. I could make a few phone calls if you would like.”

“We’ve had such a good business arrangement up until now Dante and I would hate to think that you would want to endanger that. Your contract with Jackie I would hate to crush your dreams I could easily have a tip called into police trust me you aren’t that valuable to Jackie yet that she would bail you out.” Ronan said removing his gun from his hip and putting it on the table between them. He saw Dante’s eyes got a bit wide at the gesture and he knew that Dante was getting the point. “I like you Dante we’ve had a good relationship I would hate to change that. Now should you still want to go through with your threat to stop what I need you to do at the moment well I am sure a message can be sent to you, your family and your loved ones it is your choice.”

“That’s enough money from my advance with Jackie.” He said looking at Ronan. “That’s a check and it is over. Try me you do know what I know? If anything happens to me suspiciously then I will assure you everyone in the mob scene will know what I know.” Dante said barking back at Ronan. “If you touch a hair on my head we both know your power will weaken. Let’s not forget how you became a cartel member.” Dante knew Ronan wasn’t joking but neither was he. As picked up a bottle of water he looked at Ronan.

“I’ve honored our deal with that money we are at an even playing field. I’m not following you down the rabbit hole. One day you’ll have happiness and it’s all going to be taken away from you. I’m not your drug runner I’m dating a cop for God sake I did what he and you wanted. Now it’s time for me to be free understood? I’m not going to sit here and take anymore. So you can call him or call your hitman it makes no difference. I’m free of you and your money. Leave me alone once and for all because my career is about to take off.”

“I don’t really care about your career Dante you really think that the upper crust of society is going to be thrilled if I ever leak what was going on in your shop to the press or the feds? your brother and I have an agreement it is done when I say it is done I would hate to get him or perhaps your sister involved? She too tried to get away from the family didn’t she?” Ronan asked taking a sip of his drink as he looked at Dante across from him he waved his hand at Kendrick. He tolerated Dante’s insubordination out of respect for who Dante’s family was but now it was bordering on insulting.

“Perhaps I should call in a tip to your boyfriend? It would after all give he and his friends at the department something else to chase other than me. Does he know all your secrets Dante? Who you really are beneath that fake last name and the fake backstory you have given him?” Ronan said looking at Dante’s pale face across from him as he placed his drink back on the table. He swirled the liquid in the glass again as he spoke. “I will expect another shipment next week from you don’t disappoint me Dante. I like to keep business clean.”

“Stop threatening me Ronan or else.” He said looking at Kendrick disgusted he was so over the veiled threats. “Do you worse but I assure you everyone won’t think you’re clean and legit business man when I’m done. Everyone will know what a heartless monster especially Brooke. Everyone knows you’re sniffing around the man daughter who you provided whores too. That poor girl doesn’t know everyone who is in the mob is cursed. All of your are cursed and I’ll have your shipment but this is the last time. Find another drug runner you and him will or else. I promise I’ll spend the rest of my life in witness protection.” Dante signature latino anger was on full display.

“Vete al infierno hijo de puta! Quiero decir que si alguna vez me amenazas de nuevo voy a ti y mi hermano arruinar!” He said in a fiery tone. As he snatched his manbag rushing through the bar. As he turned around looking at Kendrick and Ivan. “You both will die at his hands. The great trick about kingpins is everyone dies around them but they keep living.”

Ronan looked at Dante as he got up from the table and left the club honestly he could make a call if he needed too but he also knew that was going to be a last resort. Looking over at Kendrick he nodded his head to Ivan and Money to leave the table what he was going to say next would stay between strictly between himself and Kendrick. He leaned into the table and spoke.

“Keep an eye on Dante for me Kendrick and I want you to bring Jamal into the fold. I think he is ready if you think he is. Do not let Ivan or the others reach out to Florida at the time I need Dante alive still.” Ronan said looking at Kendrick his decision final.

“I think Jamal is ready and I will keep an eye on Dante.” Kendrick said looking at his boss as he watched Dante walk out of the club.

If he was in charge he would have been buried in the lake or one of the rivers around town. He shook his head of that thought he would never be in charge of the Madden crime family unless something happened to Ronan. Looking back at his boss he motioned for the girls to come back to the table, in his opinion Ronan was distracted by that blonde debutante bitch and perhaps he needed Mercedes for a night or two.

“Would you like me to send Mercedes over later?” Kendrick asked watching Ronan gathering his gun and his things to leave.

Ronan shook his head honestly even if he had Mercedes for the night he doubted it would get everything out of his head. He still heard Benny’s screams at night and the only thing that had been distracting him from that was Brooke. “No that will be all tonight, remember we are meeting with Philip tomorrow. Then I have the fundraiser dinner to attend in fact I think Mr. Gonzales can help me out a truce of sorts. Enjoy your evening.” Ronan nodded to Mercedes as she approached the table and two other guards left with him out the door.

Kendrick watched Ronan go as Mercedes came into the booth with Ivan he stretched his neck muscles Brooke could potentially be a problem in the long run. If anything he wondered if she was turning Ronan soft, if Dante was anyone else he would have been dead yet he was walking out of the club without repercussions. He picked up his drink bringing it to his lips as he watched Ivan and Mercedes in the booth he was a dream Gina always told him that would be a problem one day. Perhaps one day she was right.


Cassie looked out over the club it was packed tonight girls dancing on the poles on the strip floor above them hot bodies dancing on the dance floor. It was a good night for business, she had been worried about Philip when he stormed out of his office and she saw Max leave. Good maybe the little tart had been dumped and her brother could do something other then be strung along by her. She had been worried about Philip and Thor, she eyed Ronan and his men finally leaving the club and let out a sigh of relief she never wanted to get in bed with Ronan or the mob it was too late by the time she realized Philip roped them into it. Taking a sip of her cosmo she thanked the young man behind the bar when she noticed another man at the other end of the bar. She had seen him around town before and knew he was a cop and she only hoped that the business Philip had gotten them into wasn’t going to crash tonight. She liked the club she had a sense of pride with the club, it was posh and elegant and at the same time a great fantasy that people could come to. Taking her clutch and her drink she moved down the bar to sit next to the man.

“Don’t you look like something that a poor meat grinder had a field day with. Another round here for my friend Francis.” Cassie said to the bartender while she looked at the cop sitting next to her. He clearly had been pounding down whatever he was drinking yet she saw a sadness and a hurt in his eyes, probably over some dumb bitch if anything she’d seen that look before in men. “So do tell what someone like you is doing in my club?”

Jon eyes focused in on the woman before him she was absolutely radiant however he wasn’t interested. Whatever she wanted he wasn’t truly interested. Never had he thought he’d be at this bar sitting here drinking his sorrows away. “Trying to drink alone.” He said looking at the girl as he cracked his knuckles. “I’m sorry that’s really rude. I’ve been having a crappy day and you’re just being nice.”

As he turned his glass as he folded his arms. “Have you ever had one of those days? Where nothing you say is right? Where you hurt people because you’re angry? So much of me is angry right now. I’m mad at a war I really don’t understand that I fought in. A war which stole my life and things I wanted. I’m Jon Harrison the most tragic man you’ll ever meet.” He finished his drink. “I need the bartender to call a cab. I’m sure that I shouldn’t be driving.”

“I’m not that bad of company. If you want someone else I can send one of the girls over for you unless that really isn’t why you come most men that come to forget like a companion to do that with.” Cassie said as Francis poured them another drink she watched him and wanted to laugh at him but on the other hand she felt sorry for him too. Men often came to the club to indulge in the beautiful dancers and if they wanted more of course there was the private rooms. In the case of the man in front of her she would keep an eye on him since she doubted Philip would want him snooping around. “Cassie Montgomery.”

Cassie said extending her hand to his with a small smile as she watched him take it and then she took another sip of her cosmo. Her eyes scanned the room as she waved to Mercedes and then saw Jon cringe before turning back to him. “Oh so I take it you aren’t interested in the girls and Francis here can call you a cab. Do you swing the other way? I have been trying to get my brother to run a mens night here a few days a week unfortunately he hasn’t agreed yet.”

“I’m not gay but I have a dear friend who is. It doesn’t bother me, just like the color of peoples skin doesn’t bother me.” Jon laughed at Cassie’s boldness. His mind flashed to Devin wondering if he had just ruined any rekindling of their friendship. He also liked that out of nowhere she made him laugh. “I don’t want any girl Cassie, I want thee girl. She’s special you know? She’s the one who makes my heart stop a little. Its so much to discuss so I just don’t think I should.”

“What about you? Love in your future? Let me guess since you own a bar no this bar. It would be your men are dangerous. You like risk and have never had someone truly love you unconditionally.” Jon felt bad letting that come out the way he did. “I just was kidding don’t listen to the ranting of a drunken ex soldier who can’t get a girl.” He laughed at how horrible that sounded. “I’m sorry Cassie I’m just a ass and nothing or nobody is going to make that better. I just said some heartless shit to a dear friend of mine.”

“I will keep it in mind that the gay community needs a night then.” Cassie said looking at him and motioning Francis to leave them alone honestly the down and beaten on his luck cop was beginning to intrigue her. Looking around the club when he mentioned the girl, he was a hopeless romantic no one had the girl and women these days often didn’t wait around for men to make up their minds. “Are my girls not up to your standard then? Tell me what does the ideal girl look like?”

“Do tell what love looks like or what it is? I do like my men a little more on the bad side then again what girl doesn’t are you dangerous detective?” Cassie asked looking at him with a smile as she sipped her drink and looked at his badge. She tilted her head to the side at him his mouth opening in what she assumed was a grin she was never ditzy hadn’t been for years and her mother had taught her to be observant. “Not all women like to be saved some of us like to hold our own and some of us would rather play the game then deal with the men that won’t give themselves to us fully. So who was she?”

“I don’t want to save her.” He said mumbling half telling the truth. “Well now I do because who she is with. The guy is a loser not only that the guy has hurt so many people. Real love doesn’t give up but I don’t know. I really don’t considering how much I’ve cared about her. I just think about her milky skin, her beautiful blue eyes and perfect lips. You know Cassie?” As he noticed her alabaster beautiful skin and hazel eyes. It was something so intriguing about Cassie.

“I mean my life isn’t that easy danger comes with being a soldier or a cop. My life hasn’t been easy Cassie nor is my career path. It’s as diverse as you’d expect. Imagine after coming home and sleeping in a bed after being on a cold hard concrete? I just wanted one thing for myself and I honestly couldn’t get it. It’s annoying and highly irritating. I just had I always lose when I’m so sick of it. However I’m in front of a beautiful woman with a stunning smile. So let’s stop talking about me being a loser and let’s discuss how much I am thinking about taking you home.” Jon said smoothly trying to use Devin’s old pickup lines.

“Well thank god you’re not chasing after damsels that don’t want to be saved.” Cassie said looking at him talk about love and happiness. Honestly she wanted to point out women went after what they wanted and while they enjoyed a good chase you couldn’t change someone’s heart. It often wanted what it wanted would her mother have approved of Thor probably not due to his business choices but that shouldn’t stop her from loving hm. “Let’s dance shall we?”

Jon nodded slightly stumbling to across the floor taking his hands out of his pockets. Slowly wrapping his arms around her waist as he smirked boyishly. Looking into her eyes he felt comfort in this moment just him and a girl. Not just any girl one that made him smile. When he closed his eyes he looked at Dani. God the girl was haunting him. His heart skipped a beat as he looked at Cassie. Slowly turning her around he looked again seeing Cassie.

“This dance is nice.” He whispered into her ear. “I know you have a boyfriend but for now can you just move closer to me. I just want to feel a soft body next to mine.” He said looking at rose colored cheeks. “You just think that I’m really drunk, I’m so drunk that I’m going to do this.” Jon leaned in and softly kissed her lips. “I’m sorry.”

Cassie let her body sway to the music and for some reason she let a small smile cross her face while they danced how long had it been since Thor danced with her? In truth it had been ages they were both busy and with Ronan becoming a silent partner with the club he kept his distance most nights. She stepped closer to him, he was clearly drunk and part of her felt pity for him one day maybe he would find the right girl. She tilted her head up when he kissed her and her lips parted for his for a moment and she reacted kissing him back.

“You are definitely not driving home.” Cassie said feeling her cheeks flush when she pulled back from him. She looked over his shoulder to see Thor arrive at the club, his eyes told her he had seen the kiss, a kiss that for some reason had her heart beating. She shook her head the man before her was drunk and trying to mend a broken heart and she was taken. She stepped back from Jon seeing he was clearly ready to pass out. She looked at Thor and his guard when they approached “No need to be sorry people come to forget their troubles. Let’s get you home. Help me get him a cab will you?”

Thor looked at his brother exiting the club but what caught his attention was the searing kiss between his girlfriend and a cop. Ever since he was young he kept his attention on police. It was a trick his mother taught him. Jon Harrison that was this one name. He was the war-hero. Shaking his head he looked at Cassie. “Bruno take him to the cab there is a few out in the front of the club. Mr. Harrison please don’t let me see you do that again. So for fair warning Cassandra Montgomery is off limits.” Thor smiled at him. “Now enjoy your night detective.”

Jon nodded as he waved at Cassie. “Sorry.” He mumbled as he looked back at the red head one more time.

“Red please don’t have me kill a cop. I don’t like that you were so into that drunken kiss.” Thor said clearly jealous. When he saw her smirking he knew she caught him in his feelings about the kiss. He grinned as he looked at her. “Oh you wouldn’t get jealous if I kissed Max or Scarlett Nichols?”

Cassie couldn’t help the smirk on her lips as Thor’s jealous side came into play, he had nothing to worry about did he? She watched as Bruno led Jon outside to the waiting cabs that were waiting for other patrons. She turned back to Thor and leaned up pressing her lips to his own in a reassuring kiss before seeing trouble with Yalena and a male in the club.

“Don’t murder the cop. A kiss is just a kiss, after all I am going home with you not him. I have a club to manage.” Cassie said turning around she began to walk away stopping halfway she turned back to look at him her eyes narrowing in on him. “No I’d take them outback and claw their eyes out but we know that Max or Scarlett don’t have the bravado to go after what is mine.” Turning she could feel him watching her walk away as she made her way to the scuffle and had to wonder if she and Thor were just in old habits and why in the hell a drunken kiss from a cop was making her question everything again.


Simon moved rhythmically inside Mason hearing him moan on the mattress underneath him and just when he felt Mason shiver he closed his eyes exploding inside of him. Simon continued to move feeling his release overtake him. Collapsing on top of Mason he kissed his neck gently two years later and he was still very much so into Mason Delacroix but he was tired of sneaking around and Mason having Scarlett Nichols draped on his shoulder. He didn’t understand why Mason couldn’t just man up already and tell his father the truth his sister and Jamal both knew. He had met men like Tony Delacroix before that disagreed with their lifestyle but it was none of his business and he should be happy for his son. In high school and college he had been afraid to come out to his own parents it wasn’t until Julian encouraged him that he finally did. He heard his phone ring as he pulled out of an exhausted Mason and checked his text messages.

Lowell needed him and looking at the text about the board meeting, Bliss’s introduction to the company and Lowell asking if he had the photos. Simon took a deep breath he had them but had stopped himself from turning them over it would after all jeapordize his friendship with Jackson. Taking a sigh he knew that he was employed by Lowell so if Lowell wanted him to do something he would, reaching over the bed he grabbed his boxers from the floor and put them on looking at Mason who was checking his phone too. Two years later and Mason still had to cover that he was in meetings have his secretary cover for him while they would sneak to his loft and spend hours in bed together. He reached for his pants as he watched Mason get up from the bed and do the same eventually they needed to talk about things.

“Scarlett?” Simon asked him trying to gauge the response frankly being second to Scarlett wasn’t something he was content with doing for the next few weeks or years. He had been waiting long enough for Mason to come to his senses and he wasn’t above playing dirty to get what he wanted or needed, he learned that from Lowell. “When is it going to end with her Mason?”

Mason felt like himself with Simon when they made love and he couldn’t help the moans and the cries that had left his body while they did. He had moved his hand on himself while they made love and when he felt himself release, he felt Simon release in him and drifted off at the same time. He and Scarlett had an arrangement in fact it was ample he got to have Simon, Scarlett got to have Zach and everyone won. He had to marry Scarlett if his father ever knew that he was gay it would be the end of him publicly, the end of his relationship with his father. Something he couldn’t risk he could be possibly disowned or worse there was nothing more to it other than that. He needed his trust fund for his law firm it was the funding that got him started but he also wanted to make sure his father was proud of him. He watched Simon go to his phone and heard heard his ring as well, it was Scarlett.

He went over the text message that something had happened and took a sigh he honestly didn’t know how much longer he could keep up the charade with her. She was high maintenance and clingy and her jealousy over Simon had been rising at an alarming rate. He reached for his own pants and briefs as he saw Simon doing the same he could say that they were in a rut as of lately it was more than a rut and he knew it. It felt like the walls were closing in on them due to him not calling of his engagement to Scarlett. If anything it was putting too much pressure on him to focus on things he should have been like being there for his sister’s wedding to Chauncey that he thought was a mistake and trying to figure out what was going on with Jamal. Looking at Simon as he reached for his shirt he sighed.

“Yeah something happened I need to get back to her place.” Mason said looking at Simon look away from him with a look of disdain on his face as he did so. He took another breath as he began to button his shirt. “I need more time Simon, right now is not the best time for me to just tell my father the truth not to mention her mother is expecting this wedding after Selina’s is over.”

“It’s never the right time for you Mason.” Simon spat not even bothering to reach for his shirt on the floor as he went to his phone and replied to Lowell that he had what he needed. He doubted Walter or Lowell would be thrilled with what his investigator had found out. He honestly had no clue Lowell had hired someone to follow them until the photos appeared after the funeral. Pictures as they said were worth a thousands words pictures of them kissing and holding hands spoke volumes. They were seeing each other. Lowell still wanted confirmation that they were fucking even though he was sure his boss knew and he knew why to throw it in Walter’s face. “You know I’m starting to think you’re the same as your sister doing what your father wants just because you both think it will be the right thing. Both being unhappy do you really want to end up like she is with Chauncey.”

“I am not Selina and you know why I can’t come out.” Mason said reaching for his tie as he followed Simon into the living room, he was about to say more when he heard the front door open and he looked at Jamal. Jamal looked upset and he looked at Simon who looked pissed.

“Next time knock. You figure this out I have to go into DGI.” Simon said looking at Jamal with a warning Mason’s brother had a bad habit of coming over uninvited and Mason had given him the code to his condo. It was something that annoyed him but he dealt with it because that is what people did when they were in love they had each other’s backs. Simon walked back into the bedroom to finish getting dressed when he came out Jamal was biting his lip looking at his brother like they needed to talk. “Lock the door when you leave. You and I will eventually have to make a decision Mason.” Walking out the door he took out his phone and looked at the texts from Lowell again.

Mason let out a frustrated sigh as he saw Simon leave great now they were in an argument again about Scarlett he did deserve it though. He ran his hand over his face as he then looked at Jamal something had been bothering Jamal for weeks. He wasn’t blind to that and he knew that Ophelia and his father were both worried about him. He went to the wet bar and poured them both a scotch on the rocks before handing the glass to his brother.

“What is going on?” Mason asked seeing the fear in Jamal’s eyes.

“I might be in over my head.” Jamal said flopping down seeing Simon rushing out in a huff. He was always in a huff with his brother. It annoyed him considering he understood why Mason refused to come out. His father was always saying little comments about gays and he never thought about how fearful it must be to hide behind the past. “You know he’s right? I mean Mason you’re grown as hell and if dad can’t fucking take it then that’s on him. You’re still my big bro and Selina won’t love you any different. I have a Selina issue she’s got her spies watching me and I can’t do me. I might want to be with a sexy ass young lady however I can’t do me if Selina doesn’t allow me.”

Jamal flopped his feet on the table as he took his brother drink. He took a sip and looked at Mason. “I’m so pissed why is Selina all up in my business? She’s my sister not my mother. I have one of those. You gotta talk to her bro. You have to tell her that she has to back up on me. I’m grown and I’m making my own choices.” He looked at his older brother and smiled. “Come on Mase you are always the peacemaker make some peace. Help me out because I can’t deal with Selina all up in my business and you better tell her to chill disrespecting my mom. You know they got to fighting in Renards? It’s all over social media.”

“Over your head in what? I know your grades haven’t been stellar or anything but Jamal if you are going to graduate from your degree you need to apply yourself. I know he is right but you know how dad is I can’t just go to him and tell him I don’t swing the way he thinks I should. He is so set on us making our way in with the Devonshire’s and society and with Selina’s wedding coming up I don’t want to rock that boat you know?” Mason said watching Simon leave before looking at his brother. It was no secret between them that he was gay something both of his siblings had hidden for a few years.

“Selina told me that some of her friends saw you in Club XES you know that is not the best place to be, you know that Philip Montgomery is in some shady shit there. Though Selina doesn’t have to put a tail on you or whatever I’ll talk to her about it and hey at least it wasn’t dad with the brilliant idea to have you followed.” Mason said looking at Jamal hoping that he would open up and tell him what he was into. He was scared and he had a feeling it wasn’t just about school something else was going on. “Tell me what you are into I can’t help you if I don’t know.”

“I’m grown if I want to go to a tiddy bar that’s my choice. Not Selina’s and her precious image for what this family should be. Nobody say nothing to Rory when he’s up in there all night throwing ones. I go to kick it and no I’m the rowdy black boy.” He shook his head. “No don’t even say I’m overreacting that’s the truth! Jackson and Rory frequent that place and nobody says nothing about them. I’m so sick of the society double standard and you all jiving to it.” Folding his arms as Jamal looked at Mason.

“Rocking the boat? Please man what else could they say to you? You’re a successful lawyer and a very successful man in general. Being gay doesn’t affect your manhood and I resent my father for making you feel like that Mase. You’re no less of a man or a person because you love the same sex.” He wondered if he should tell Mason what he was up too. “I just like a girl from the other side of the tracks. Mom or Selina won’t go for that. I’m sick of living up to their collective standard for me.”

“Jamal this isn’t about Jackson or Rory and I would like to think that you aren’t doing the same shit Jackson is into. Rory is young but you and I both know he ain’t into the same shit his brother is too. You’re scared and yeah you may like a girl at the club but what is the real reason, you looked about ready to jump out of your skin when you came in.” Mason said looking at his brother pleading something was going on with Jamal had been for a few months. If it was bad he needed to tell him or someone so that they could fix it before they didn’t have that option anymore.

“Selina is getting married I’m not going to ruin her wedding by coming out to dad before it and causing a bunch of inside family tension. I don’t think we can help who we are attracted too look at me Jamal I love Scarlett as a friend but Simon feels natural and maybe Simon has a point at some point we have to stop living for mom, dad and everyone else.” Mason said wondering is Simon was right was he going through everything Scarlett to please his father. He wondered if Selina was having her own doubts marrying Chauncey.  “I need to come clean to dad and I will just not until after the wedding.”

“How about explaining why you haven’t married Scarlett? I mean people are going to start talking Mason. It’s suspicious all your peers are having babies and getting married. Here you are still single. Dude Selina is going to be pissed you didn’t tell her yet.” It was best to keep Mason out of this and he was sure of this. His eyes glossed over as Benny brain splattered against the concrete. He didn’t know what to say. Standing up he looked at Mason and folded his arms.

“I’m not into drugs.” He said strategically considering he was selling them all on campus. His heart was thumping through his chest. “Mason have you ever hated the fact we come from money? Have you ever hated that we had it so easy? I mean we are black how can we not know what the struggle is? We’ve had shit handed to us and I really want to work for my own.” Jamal said passionately as he looked at his brother. “I don’t need college that shit isn’t getting me anywhere and if I drop out dad will flip his shit. You and Selina were built for school me I hate it.”

“Scarlett is happy with our arrangement and the only person married in our friend circle is Hunter and I don’t have to tell you how that has been working out for him. I am not single Scarlett has the ring on her finger. I know but I want to do it on my own time with Selina not a few weeks before her wedding to Chauncey.” Mason said watching his brother something was bothering him and he didn’t think he was on drugs he knew the signs. Watching his brother pace for a bit and then when he started to ask about the money Mason knew he was in trouble.

“No it has never bothered me but it bothers you Jamal and you are in trouble you need to tell me. I know you’ve been keeping a low profile at school and look you are dressing different if you are in the wrong crowd you need to tell me. It obviously is bad since you came to me, if I don’t know what is wrong I can’t help you.” Mason said feeling like something settled in the air between them as he looked at Jamal. Something had his brother spooked and he looked at his brother taking a breath before he asked something that had crossed his mind was Jamal running with a crew. “How deep are you in?”

“I’m in deep but it’s not that bad Mason I’m doing what I want and making my own money.” He snapping at Mason. Jamal looked at his brother and lowered his head. “I have to go man, I don’t really want to talk about this. I’m okay man, just get off my back. All of you please just get off my back. I want something different and I won’t be living in the shadow of Tony any longer. I’m my own man and I’m making my own rules. So I want you all to stay the hell off my back.” He said snapping looking at Mason.

Jamal balled up his fist because he wanted to blurt out he was selling drugs. Ever since he caught Mason with that dude Josh years ago. It was a close relationship between the brothers. He told himself never lie to his brother. “I just got a business venture. I’m really learning the ropes of the music business. So what I’m staying out all night and not looking like a preppie. Is that going to help me when I become a producer? The answer to that is no.”

Mason watched Jamal talk about making his own money and say him snap on him, maybe he could ask Simon to look into what Jamal was into. He was certain that Jamal wouldn’t like it but that was Simon’s specialty doing things under the table to never get caught. Mason took a sip of his drink as he watched Jamal walk to the door, he’d ask Simon about it. He knew Jamal’s dream had always been to do something with music he only hoped his brother wasn’t getting in with the wrong people to achieve that dream.

“Alright I’ll let you get going. You can tell me anything Jamal you know that. I should at least go see Scarlett before she starts a scene somewhere.” Mason said grabbing his coat from the back of Simon’s sofa and following Jamal to the door. “Speaking of the wedding who are you taking?”

“Oh Rachel Morrison she’s a cutie. With a nice ass too. Come on you’re gay you gotta look at the asses.” He said wondering if Yasmine would be a better choice. Actually bringing a stripper to his sister’s wedding. “I just think that you’re my brother and I’m so proud of you. You braver than you know. You are Mason the peacekeeper and my cool ass brother. Gay or straight we will love you no less dude.” Jamal leaned in and hugged his brother.

“Yo and spray his shit it smell straight sex up in here.” Jamal teased as he walked out. His eyes closed wondering if he should have told Mason. If he should open his mouth. Looking back at his brothers concerned face. “Mase I’m all good dang!”


Chauncey had returned back to the mansion after the board meeting with his father to check in with Maddie before bed and told Selina he would be up after he finished some paperwork. Staring at his computer now though and the natural gas he told his father about he realized he was out of his element he hadn’t really looked at or studied energy resources that was what Jackson was good at. Even in college his brother had good ideas and was good at seeing a goldmine in energy though now his father had challenged him to step up to the plate. Numbers were his thing he was good at the company finances and over the years he had worked his ass off to achieve just that success at DGI. He looked at his planner and took a sigh the wedding was a few weeks away and he closed his eyes, Bliss was right about that the cheating. The last had been some nurse at the hospital it was last year a very brief and short affair when his mother found out he called it off, he and Selina worked through it.

He got up from his chair at his desk to look out the window across the lawn at the Westwood estate he checked his watch normally Greer was out by now. He’d been watching her swim in the moonlight for weeks since they had their encounter at her house. Watched her swim and dry off as he relieved himself to a fantasy of her looking at him while she screamed his name, it was wrong he knew it and he wondered if in fact marrying Selina was the right thing. Maddie adored her that was no secret but a few weeks from his wedding he knew that he shouldn’t be thinking about fucking another woman. He was though, he ran his hand through his hair as he heard his office door open and he smiled at his mother.

“Mother.” Chauncey said looking at Jackie.

Jackie looked at her eldest son wanting to check in with him, honestly she wanted to check in with all her children over the last few weeks. It felt like maybe they could rebuild things as a family, deal with Bliss together, Jackson was for the first time in years not high all the time. Lowell was still pushing the boys and that worried her but her husband was also right Chauncey was steadfast, had been the pillar of the company for years and now that he was getting married to Selina he was ready. For so many years she had thought it would be Jackson taking over, having a family getting his act together only to be let down with his drug use. The last had been the worst case for her son his hospital stay the weeks he spent in the coma to flush everything and now she wasn’t sure how to help him. While he was in rehab the last time the counselor had warned her that Jackson had to want to change, to fix his life to fight the disease that was eating him it was in his hands now.

She pushed the thoughts back as she watched Chauncey looking out the window, Lowell had honored her agreement with him he would try with Jackson if that meant she opened up with their other children. She and Bliss hadn’t spoken in weeks but she knew the plan was for Bliss to move into the mansion she had relented. Honestly she had seen the light on in Chauncey’s office and came in to speak to him about Selina. The incident at the dress shop had unnerved her, that Selina was having doubts about Chauncey and her wedding. She wanted to make sure Chauncey’s head was in the game that he wouldn’t’ keep up his philandering ways with Selina. She loved Selina like her other daughter and she loved her son too.

“I thought we could talk. Selina tried on her gown today and I want to make sure there isn’t an incident like the nurse from last year lurking in the shadows. You have come so far at DGI Chauncey you are right where you need to be next to your father.” Jackie said looking at her son she paused for a moment looking across the estate. She looked at the photo of her son, Selina and Maddie on his desk. “Are you still sure this is what you want?”

“I had meetings at work today mother I couldn’t make it to the cake tasting and besides that is what you and Selina are for. It could be chocolate or vanilla it doesn’t matter to me. There is not another nurse in the wind.” Chauncey said annoyed as he looked at his mother and her grilling of the wedding. He supposed some men would put more care into the planning than he did, but honestly he had a company he was destined to run. “If I was right where I needed to be dad wouldn’t be wasting his time with Jackson’s pet project. He’d finally give me what I am due retire step down and let me run things.”

Jackie bit the inside of her cheek at Chauncey a sadness in her eyes so Lowell was pitting them again hopefully it wouldn’t set Jackson off on a road of self destruction. Then again her husband had assigned Dani to watch Jackson for that reason to make sure drugs didn’t set him off again. She still thought they were seeing each other outside of work and that did bring a small smile to her face perhaps Jackson was really trying. Chauncey had always been stubborn and felt like he was owed her husband’s place as CEO of DGI very few men would have the balls to challenge her husband’s place. She ran her fingers over the picture for a moment before she spoke.

“He isn’t ready to retire you know that Chauncey. I’m proud of you don’t stay up to late.” Jackie said softly leaning up to kiss her oldest son’s cheek. She cast one last worried glance at him before she shut the door to his office and headed to her own bedroom.

Chauncey watched her go could feel himself getting emotional his mother had never told him that before no she usually saved her favoritism for his younger brother. Perhaps it was the thrill of planning a wedding for her that she had decided that he was now worthy and at that he had to laugh. So far they hadn’t had a very good track record for marriages yet everyone in the family knew that Max and Hunter were on the rocks had been for a few years. His sister’s affair with Philip was something everyone knew about but didn’t talk about because it wasn’t polite and having the current mayors son publically divorce your only daughter would be disastrous. It was also the reason he had put of marrying Selina until Braden tossed her aside again and they broke up.

He hated being second to anyone and being known has his father’s right hand little bitch at the office was beginning to piss him off. He rolled his shoulders as he looked out the window again and saw the pool light up and Greer step out and he took a breath looking at her naked body. Her tits were fucking amazing and he had to wonder if her husband knew that she was about to give him a show. He waited for her to get into the water only to be taken back when she laid down on one of the lounge chairs spreading herself open. He took a breath and only hoped his ultimate fantasy was about to come true.

Greer knew her nightly swims would slowly catch Chauncey attention. For the last few days she’d swim at night and let her body seduce his mind. She noticed a few days ago he would watch. Now she had encaptured him she knew he was watching but she didn’t care. It was all about the art of seduction. Something her step-mother taught her all too well. Slowly spreading her swollen lips she looked deeply into Chauncey eyes. Her heart pulsating at him watching her. Call it voyeuristic but she got off on the fact she was turning him on.

As she ran her hand over her breast the cool air of the night turned her nipples hard. Turning her body she grabbed the tanning oil. She rubbed her nipples as she squeezed them as fresh oranges. Slowly running her hand down her belly and back between her soft thighs. Greer slipped two fingers inside of herself. Throwing her head back in pleasure, Greer ensured that she made eye contact with Chauncey. It was something about him that made her feel like she knew what he needed. Slipping two more fingers inside of herself she let her slick juices cover her fingers. She couldn’t breathe slightly as she then looked at Chauncey, pretending to be aghast that he saw her. Swiftly grabbing her robe she rushed into the house.

Greer rushed to the house she grabbed a brick. Throwing it at Chauncey window seeing his shocked face. “Peeping Tom, Mr. Devonshire isn’t attractive just how much did you see?” She howled at him.

Chauncey had made sure to lower his zipper as he watched her and took himself into his hand pumping steadily as he watched Greer move in the water and then when she began to have her hands travel over his naked body, She was exquisite and when her eyes bore into his, his lips had to upturn a bit into a smile at the things she only wished he was doing to her. Zerick didn’t know how to please her, he felt it as his hand pumped with her movements when her fingers dipped between her folds, he would make her scream. He was about ready to indulge himself a bit more lower his pants when she stopped and he saw her face looking horrified at him through the window before she disappeared back into her house. He stopped frustrated as he tucked himself back into his pants and ran a hand through his hair.

“Fuck.” Chauncey managed to mumble out looking out the darkness. He had a few seconds as he heard her shrieking in the yard as she attempted the throw a brick at the house. Opening the window he cocked his eyebrow at her looking disheveled in the lawn. Climbing out of the window he walked to her property and waved security off. No need for the entire house to know what was going on. “Enough to know that your husband obviously isn’t doing his job. Embarrassed are we Mrs. Westwood?”

“You don’t know what my husband is doing for me Mr. Devonshire.” She said with a coy sexulity in her voice. “How do you not know I wasn’t thinking of my female lover Margaux? Tell me do you think that we limit ourselves sexually whatever he wants I give. If that’s two women or two men for me we do it. Sexuality isn’t the problem nor is you watching. The problem lies when you don’t tell me and sneak as if you’ve been doing the last few nights.” Greer purred looking at him as her eyes seductively narrowed. “We are European trust me we love to put on a show. Next time ask and I’ll make it worth your while.” Greer said dropping her robe.

“I like control and I like options trust me my husband knows my tastes.” Slowly walking to a lawn table. She turned on the music of Sade her soothing voice echoed through the gate between them. Greer slowly coiled her body. “You want me don’t you Mr. Devonshire? You want all this? I don’t think you could handle me.” Watching Zerick turn on the lights. “Goodnight Mr. Devonshire. I have to be leaving.” She said with a smirk. Looking at her husband she slipped on her robe slipping inside the kitchen.

Chauncey had wanted to point out that she knew exactly what she had been doing the past few nights that she was nude in her pool and she knew damn well that his office and the house could see into her backyard. Looking through the darkness to the barely lit pool and through the gate at her body though something inside him snapped he was going to have her. Although he had just promised his mother there were no more skeletons to be had before the wedding he felt unsettled like he just needed a taste. If he had a taste he could be done with it marry Selina everyone would win and be happy with the outcome. He saw the house lights click back on and leaned into the gate looking at her.

“You were thinking about it too Mrs. Westwood you and I both know it.” Chauncey hissed out as his eyes burned into hers one last time before turning and stalking back to the house. He only hoped the chaos hadn’t caused Selina to wake and he would definitely need a cold shower once he got back inside.

Zerick had been inside speaking with Lowell about some consulting work the plan was going exactly how they needed it too. Lowell was so focused on projects at work, his oldest son was restless the old man would never see what hit them. Not to mention in all the wedding preparations for Chauncey to marry Selina he hadn’t even noticed his son was ogling Greer a smile spread on his face as he heard his wife bait Chauncey. Yes being european had it’s perks for them and those perks didn’t just stop for any pleasure they were both aware of how to play the game to win. He watched Chauncey’s shadow retreat back to the mansion as he poured Greer a glass of champagne as she slipped on her robe.

“It’s on he’s hooked believe me.” Greer said as she jumped on the counter looking at Zerick. “l’ll have him soon enough.”

“I have never doubted you Greer you were right he would be watching as soon as he met you it has worked to our advantage. I do think it is time to dangle the next carrot make nice with me at the fundraiser of course send him those scorching looks that he has been so enamored with since you meet.” Zerick said handing her the glass as he looked at her trying to figure out if she was still in the game or if she was actually intrigued by the mark. “I can say his wedding will be the talk of the town and I would like to think you can get him bed by then. After all it would quite wreck the plan if he actually marries Selina.”

“Trust me he won’t.” Greer said slowly sipping the golden liquid as she slowly strutted to him. Adjusting Zerick’s tie she ripped his shirt open as she kissed his neck. “I didn’t get what I needed and right now I need to be fucked.” She leaned in rubbing his print forming through his slacks. “I heard a rumor from our mole. Well they said Lowell will be offering you a job very soon.” She kissed his neck softly nibbling on his neck.

“So are you going to please me or are you going to stand there with your mouth open?” Greer said slowly dragging her hand over her body.

Zerick watched her walk towards him a smile on his face if he’d known she was serious he would have let Chauncey see them together. Taking her hand in his he gently pushed her against the door. Stepping between her legs, his hands traveled up her thigh and his lips traveled on her neck before he rammed two fingers inside of her.

“I would hate to not indulge you and wife don’t forget who is going to make you scream.” Zerick said letting her already wet pussy clench on his fingers. His hand pinned her hips in place while his fingers moved in and out of her leaning into her ear he whispered. “Do you want more?”

Greer moaned furiously, see Mr. Devonshire her husband knew how to please her. She leaned in and kissed his lips as he pulled back from the kiss she bit his lip. Seeing him furiously go to work on her pussy she gasped passionately as she looked into his eyes. “We are going to take them down.” Turning her head she saw Chauncey still lurking in that window from the house. He could see their backs. She knew what she had to do. Greer was about to be fucked and fucking trap Chauncey still a little more.

Taking his hand out of her hotness she shook her head. “Not here.” Opening the door they stumbled through she laughed playfully. Holding him by his belt buckle sticking her hand in his trouser. “He’s still watching let’s put on a show.” Slowly she used her teeth and mouth to unbutton Zerick’s shirt. Her eyes traveled to the window. Letting his slacks fall to the ground slowly kissing his thighs she slowly started to suck his penis until fully erect. “Now that you’re hard fuck me.” Greer said as she stood and walked into the warm pool water.


Jackson texted Dani to come see him if she could which he wasn’t sure she would after all he did blow her off. Leaning back in his recliner he thought about Dani and Jon Harrison’s kiss, a kiss he was fairly certain he never wanted to happen again with her and another man. She was amazingly funny and he saw her charm. Not only that but he saw her damage. He saw that she was just as alone and unsatisfied in her family life as he was. He spent over twenty years not loving himself. Was what Chauncey said the truth? Would he always be a loser who failed? Would he always be the guy who got no happy ending? When he was with Skye and they got into drugs it was his weakness. His problems vanished when he smoked pot, then it was cocaine, and finally at his low it was meth. When his mother found him in Pittsburgh on the street homeless and begging. He’d sent his family through so much.

When he saw Max walking through the garden he smiled. God it was good to be home and see his twin. Their connection was so strong that mom said she lead her to him while he was on the street. His father was so embarrassed he didn’t even come to rehab. All and all he’d never been the one that was special to his dad. He walked outside and snuck up behind Max.

“Boo.” He said as she jumped. “Sorry I couldn’t help it remember we used to talk about the Atlas Falls killer and scare the shit out of you? Max what’s bothering you? Considering we got that freaky twin shit going I can see it on your face. Is it about the rumors I’ve been hearing? Max really? Philip Montgomery?”

Max had went home to the cold and now empty house she shared with Hunter after talking to Rory after the meeting had gotten over. Rory was gullible and told her everything, though she guessed something was going on with Jackson for weeks. Eventually she had made the drive back to the mansion and decided to see for herself with Jackson. She was worried how he was doing he was under a lot of pressure at DGI with their father and if what Rory told her about her twin and Dani surely Jackson had never been this riled about a girl before. Walking towards the gatehouse she looked at the lights on the estate maybe a good next step would be getting her brother to move out from under their father’s thumb and into his own place. Walking up the walk as she heard the bushes rustle behind her she turned and let out a scream before smacking her twin on the shoulder and taking a breath.

“You scared the shit out of me.” Max said looking at him playfully seething at him as she caught her breath and moved her hair out of her face. She looked into the gatehouse with a frown before looking back at him. “I was worried about you. Rory told me what happened at The Pointe with you and Dani. If you must know yes Philip. Don’t look at me like that I know you and Hunter are friends but it hasn’t been like that for me and Hunter in a long time.”

“Hunter is one of my best friends man. You two are perfect for each other we all know that. Now tell Max what has changed from being so very in love with Hunter that you married him. Remember what you said whatever you could do to have him forever? Now you’re throwing it way?” Jackson asked confused. “I mean if you and Hunter can’t make it how are me and.” He paused wondering if he could actually get his happy ending with Dani. “Secrets in our family don’t stay secrets, so Dani. That’s why you’re here? I’m going to kill Rory.”

Jackson knew his baby brother was worried he just didn’t know he’d call Max. Yes he wanted Dani but look at him. He was a drug addict hiding his secrets from everyone. Not only that but the pressure of not being a success would cripple him. If he didn’t prove to his father now he’d never get his approval. Lowering his head he paced around Max. “I know when Chauncey finds out he’s going use this to his advantage to make me look bad. I’ve done so much bad Max. I’ve done so much but this is the first time I feel good about not just her but my path with DGI.”

“You know in the entire time I’ve been with Philip no one has asked me why not mom, not dad the only ones who have are Simon and Dani and that was only when they had to bury it in the press. I don’t love Hunter anymore Jackson I don’t even know if I ever really did. Right after college mom and dad put all this pressure on us to get married.” Max said looking at her brother as she spoke if anyone would understand maybe it would be him. Honestly she knew she didn’t love Hunter anymore and hadn’t in a while. While Philip gave her something that was missing in her life a bit of adventure and something different. “I’m going to divorce him as soon as I am able Jackson and I don’t like putting you in the middle of it.”

“Rory was worried about you. Apparently according to him you saw her out to dinner with Jon Harrison and I guess Jon kissed her and you in Rory’s words. Nearly reached over the table and beat him to a bloody pulp. I’m not mad you’re seeing her you guys look at each other a lot at work. I thought something was up and you’re both I don’t know happy.” Max said looking at him walking into the gatehouse and going into the kitchen. Opening the fridge and taking a bottle of water. “Rory said she looked pretty mortified when she left. If you don’t want her seeing other men say so. Forget what Chauncey wants, or what dad wants. What do you want? Do you want her to see Jon Harrison?”

Exhaling out as he heard that Max was contemplating no she was serious about divorcing Hunter. Lowering his head he looked at the ground. “Hunter and I have been friends since I was six years old. Max I asked you years ago not to do this with Hunter. Now look at where you’ve got me. I appreciate your honesty but God Max, doesn’t he deserve better than this? Just divorce him and be honest because lies will only piss him off. Remember when he found out I was in Pittsburgh?” Jackson could still remember how passionate Hunter was about being lied too. How hurt he was about the betrayal.

“She was with Jon on a date. A date with that asshole I already took Skye from him. Why is he trying to always have what’s mine. I just feel like he wants my life drugs and all.” He said with a frog in his throat as he began pacing again truly not sure what to do about him and Dani. “You know Rory is tripping but God I don’t know what to do. I really don’t. I have so much to offer her and I feel like she has so much to offer me.” Jackson lowered his head. “I just don’t want to like a girl it scares me because I can see myself. I don’t know with her.”

“I know you and Hunter have been friends since grade school we all have and maybe that was part of the problem. No one let us pick who to hang out with or what to do, no one let us choose who to date or marry God look at me and Hunter and Chauncey and Selina, all thought out that mom and dad picked. No one gave us guidance. I know what I am doing with Philip is wrong I don’t need you and everyone else telling me, I know and no Hunter doesn’t deserve this but when would be the right time to serve him Steven has only been in the ground a few weeks. I don’t want Bliss after him either.” Max said looking at her brother as she spoke and then looked out the window for a moment. She felt like she could talk to Jackson no matter what. “She’s after him has been since that God awful birthday party Brenda threw.”

“Does Dani know that she’s not supposed to see other people? You can’t just change the rules on her on the fly that’s not exactly fair and I don’t think she’s that type anyway to play games. I haven’t once seen her happy or nice since she went to work for dad, she pretty much works all the time and has a stick up her ass. Then I don’t know you happened she’s nicer since you guys started whatever you started.” Max looked at back at her brother for a moment obviously Dani was important and mattered to him. She took a sip of her water before she spoke again. “According to Rory she picked you and you blew her off, he suggested flowers she doesn’t strike me as the flower type. I’d say talk to her tomorrow at work or after. Who cares what dad or Chauncey thinks for once you want to give it a shot with her tell her. If not I don’t think she’s going to keep playing the hidden secret you want it to be.”

“I don’t want that at all. She doesn’t deserve to be a secret. I think she’s amazing Max I really do.” Jackson said completely ignoring her comments about Hunter as he pulled her into a hug. “I hope you don’t think I am judging you because believe me, I don’t have any room to judge. I want to protect my sister. I want to protect the woman I truly love more than myself. My twin sister.” He pulled back from the hug. Grabbing a glass of water he took a sip as he watched her looking as if she was about cry. “I love you sis.”

Jackson knew that Dani deserved an apology from him. He was afraid though. He always had disappointed the people who he loved the most. Now all of the sudden he was about to embark on something he never knew how to do. Dani was someone he honestly could see himself falling for. He was afraid of that because honestly love wasn’t something he thought he could do. Expressing himself to people especially with a woman that he could see himself with. “Hey I’m going to talk to her at work. She isn’t talking to me right now and I deserve it but I’m going to get her. I’m going to get my woman.”


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