1×05 “Crash Into You”

Episode 1xo5 “Crash Into You”
Written by: Chris Coleman/Kelly Zollo
Warning: Episode contains language, sexual situations and content

Ronan waved off most of his detail as he made his way into the club passing the strippers on stage doing what he considered to be the lesser known shift. It was early and later that evening he was going to the children’s hospital fundraising event. A good political and business move not to mention it was a chance for him to see Brooke again. He hadn’t seen her that much over the last few weeks but he did miss their time together. He had done something he never did before actually he went ahead and called in a favor to Dante for a dress for Brooke which checking his watch should be arriving to her at her brunch with her mother later. He was going to dance with her at the fundraiser and get his mind off his current predicament. Yasmine Kohl her debt was nearly paid to him she had exactly two payments left that she would be able to settle in the next week or two.

The problem was Yasmine was a top biller for the club, men liked her they flocked to her not to mention she ran his very expensive drugs to their more expensive clientele. It was needed when he needed to blackmail someone in the higher rankings of society. He knew Kendrick and Yasmine were close but he also had to have known that business came first to him at the end of the day. He held no ill will towards Yasmine, he had honored his agreement with her to pay for her mother’s last rehab and her hospital treatment for her cancer but he couldn’t just let her go either. Kendrick was the only man allowed into the office with him and he was grateful when Cassie had agreed to not to attend the meeting. Things with Thor were still tense and while he respected Cassie as Philip’s partner he also knew Thor would see it as a threat. Walking into the office he took a seat on Philip’s couch.

“I am glad you called to talk and you are right Yasmine is going to be a problem for the both of us. She brings in a lot of money Philip and you know that she is my go to for your rich upper crust of society friends. She is still vital to my operation.” Ronan said seeing Kendrick’s face out of the corner of his eye as Philip poured them a scotch. He knew Kendrick wouldn’t like the way this conversation went and he almost wanted to venture he wanted to not have it. “How are her numbers this month? I have heard good things about your new girl you hired as well.”

Philip hadn’t been feeling excited about the option of losing Yasmine either. However he wasn’t ready to lose his number one dancer. Folding his arms he tapped his fingers against his desk. Looking at his phone for the fourth time. He’d texted Max earlier to speak with her. It insulted his intelligence to see she was fighting this. As he looked at Ronan he gritted his teeth. Losing Yasmine would kill his business. As he walked to his bar Philip pouring a bourbon, and took a deep gulp. Biting his lip he nodded his head knowing Ronan was correct.

“Tell me Ronan how do you expect to keep her? I just don’t think she’ll just stay. The girl is a classically trained dancer. She’s not going to remain a stripper. So tell me what do you say we need to do? I am up for any ideas because I don’t want my biggest money maker to walk out of the door. Or how about this once she finishes how are you going to keep Kendrick at bay.” Philip took another drink as he stared at Ronan. “Tell me I think that it’s horrible what we are conspiring but she’s money. So let’s get our girl to stay somehow.”

“Honestly I have been wondering about that for some time her debt is nearly paid on my end and Trisha is still in treatment for her chemo. Now I have had my dealers know to stay away from her at the moment but perhaps if her mother were to buy again well that debt could be tacked on to her debt.” Ronan looked at Philip as he watched the man take a drink and saw Kendrick look away at his suggestion. He could tell Kendrick was not on board with the idea and in truth neither was he but letting Yasmine go was bad for business and for him that was what it was a business transaction. “Do you have another girl or another set of girls that can replace her?”

“I did hear that she was going back to school the dean is a client here is he not? Or from what I remember his sons were at one point surely he understands that she is needed here for business as well.” Ronan said getting up from the chair and looking out the mirrored glass window to the girls in the club. He still was struggling with this decision to push Trisha back into using to make Yasminee stay he didn’t like doing it negating on a deal when he had already made one. “You could give her more shifts could you not at least until we figure this out make her work the same time as her classes.”

“She’d quit you just said she only has two thousand dollars left. She’s done because honestly one of these limp dick rich bastard would buy her freedom. I’m not going to drug that lady look that’s low even for you. Ronan we have to find a better way to do this. Threatening her mother makes me feel very cheap. Let’s be real if we did that we’d both lose her. However I can’t help but to hear gossip about her attraction. Well Mercedes is a very jealous but ambitious little bitch. If we wrap Rory Devonshire up in this. Well she’d have no choice but to um stay dancing.” Philip seethed leaning back in his chair.

“Bitch thinks this is Pretty Woman no my dear you don’t get a happy ending.” Looking at his eyes. “That’s sweet the rich boy loves the hood rat. I’m not going to pretend that I give a flying fuck about the Devonshire family.” His eyes glossed over as he bit his lip. His mother was gone and it stung a little in his eyes Lowell’s hands were bloody in that suicide. “So you see I want Max so badly because they won’t believe when I do it. They wouldn’t believe it when they see me.” Philip had a twisted smirk on his face. Fucking up a Kincaid to boot wasn’t bad. Cassie acted as if she didn’t understand why? Why he was about to embark on tangoing with Lowell and them. Well his father was coming and so was he. Proving himself right now in his moment was what Philip needed. “Let’s just say I’m all for hurting Rory but that ladies sober let her be.”

Kendrick was silent in the room remembering his place as Ronan and Philip discussed Trisha and Yasmine, two women that were like family to him. He’d always known Ronan to follow the rules with business that business came first but even his stomach was turning over. He had warned Yasmine not to get involved with Ronan or Philip to let him handle it like he told Gina he would and now, now it was too late. He couldn’t help her now and it seemed like if she turned to Rory for help that would be met with Ronan or Philip’s wrath. He bit the inside of his cheek nearly wanting to strangle Philip but he restrained himself he was Ronan’s right hand, he answered to Ronan.

“She can’t quit unless her debt is paid Yasmine knows this I was very clear when she approached me in my office that day, until her debt is paid I own her here at the club. I doubt any of the other girls know how to do what I need her to do for my organization.” Ronan said as he looked at Philip though Philip had a point sending Trisha back to the drugs was cruel even by his account but if it had to be done. Ronan thought over Mercedes for a moment as a replacement but for some reason he felt like that would be a bad idea. “You and I know Mercedes wouldn’t be able to deal the drugs the girl would end up snorting more than she sold.”

“Rory is an interesting choice the bouncers have said that he frequents then again my favorite customer is his paying brother. I don’t want to threaten the youngest prince if there isn’t a real claim are you certain that Yasmine has these mutual feelings for him?” Ronan asked threatening Lowell’s sons was not something he wanted to in fact he wasn’t sure it was wise. He had every intention of investing and operating the casino once it was approved with the city. Not that his business with Philip was not profitable it was he just wanted something a little more glamorous to really fit into society for once. “You may not care about the Devonshire family but I have a pending legal business deal with DGI. Before I go off and threaten either of Lowell’s princes I need to make sure that threat is valid. How often does he come to the club?”

“Well one of my girls helped me with something years ago.” Philip was proud of Mercedes and nobody knew her secrets and how far she’d come. She was once the golden girl around here but Yasmine made the most money and became the star. Now as luck would have it he had intel on the girl. Mercedes was ruthless and a perfect spy. Somehow she overheard Yasmine and Mia the new girl talking. Poor wounded dove actually cared about Rory. Folding his arms he looked at Ronan. “Now she informs me of everything. He’s our golden ticket to her she’s caught feelings, and to make matters better I think that we can use it. Use it to keep her.” He looked at Kendrick whose fist were clenched. A sick smirk graced his lips. “A tragedy possibly to the kid. Nothing major but let her know she isn’t welcomed to leave.”

Philip then looked at Ronan and shook his head. “I think a tragic moment for Rory will keep her in line. So tell me are you down with having Kendrick and Ivan scaring the prince? I’m sure he’s got a hard on for Diamond stupid puppy doesn’t know she’s trash just like us. They don’t mix but neither do me and Max. So what I’m saying she cares and he does too. Let’s use it because we’d have something to keep Yasmine around, and lets be real we need her.” He said walking past Kendrick smiling as he turned to Ronan. “Let’s figure this out in a day or so but I think that Rory will be our key.”

“Mercedes has been an asset not as much as Yasmine but yes she has. I also like that she can be trusted to be our eyes on ears. I would like to see the numbers at least by the end of the week to make sure the new girl is holding up her end and not leaning on Yasmine.” Ronan said watching Philip Mercedes had come to the club a year ago he didn’t know her backstory but he did think she had been close to Philip before she became a stripper.  He pursed his lips at Rory honestly he needed the casino deal to go through and threatening Lowell’s youngest son could swing him either way Lowell could agree to help him keep Yasmine at the strip club or he could go to Rory and tell Rory to rescue her. “I will have Kendrick keep an eye on things.”

“I do have one other thing to ask you my brother has been coming in the last few months your sister is seeing him. I would like to remind you Philip that Thor spilled blood first and I would hate our business relationship to go south if Cassie was to get caught in the crossfire.” Ronan said looking at his business partner in truth he would never hurt a woman something a long ago friend told him and advised him but he knew Thor was reckless. Others in the business wouldn’t think twice about making an example of him with Cassie, he got up from his chair and walked to Philip. “He’s getting ambitious now that this mother is gone and I don’t want to see your sister hurt. Talk to her Philip have her put an end to the nonsense she has with him before I can’t stop others.”

“Tell me do you think that you’d get away with harming my sister? I absolutely think that I’m sure if a hair on Cassandra head is harmed because your petty vendetta against your brother. Well Ronan I will crush you completely and utterly. It won’t be like your other rivals I’ll hurt you in the worse ways. I’ll take every hooker and have every New York pimp I know trick them bitches. I’ll dry the drugs out in this town because severe all ties with you and then where will you go? Vertigo?” He laughed knowing the owners were too good of people to ever do the heinous shit he put up with. “I’d ruin you so when the bullets fly you better hope Cassie isn’t harmed. I’m a businessman so I don’t ever look down at money but Cassie is my baby sister. She’s my only link to my mother so when you finally whack Thor. Make sure you kill him, when my sister isn’t around. That’s all I’m saying.”

Philip had enough of Ronan and the disrespect he felt from his little warning made him feel lesser than him. Ronan seemed to think because he was a mobster he could boss him around. He’d say jump and Philip would say how high. “Remember this is a partnership and remember you didn’t become leader of the cartel until my girls start running drugs. Your money changed before that you were a spoiled rich boy just like me.”

“No I don’t, my brother is the reckless one not me Philip he has many enemies.” Ronan said looking at Philip he hated that Philip was right Vertigo would be no good. He still needed his business relationship with Philip but he also wanted to give Philip a heads up about Thor, his brother was playing a dangerous game. “I have another meeting I have to attend. Yes we are partners Philip and you would be smart to remember that not me, you know I like to make an example when I need too.”

Ronan left it at that as he turned and motioned to Kendrick to follow him out of Philip’s office letting his friend and associate think on his words. Hopefully Philip would do the smart thing and talk some sense into his sister. He could feel Kendrick eyeing him on his way out of the meeting Yasmine was not going to getting out anytime soon it would be bad for business and if his right hand was smart he would see that. He thought of Kendrick as a brother, there was no one he trusted more and knew of Kendrick’s connection to Yasmine. He took out his phone as he saw that Brooke was up for the day and smiled hoping his gift to her would cheer her up before they saw each other later at the fundraiser dinner.

Kendrick shot Philip a sideways glance as he began to follow Ronan out of the office how could Ronan negate on his word to Yasmine? They had an agreement and now his boss was willing to play dirty to keep her. He knew since his brother had left for New York ages ago Yasmine hadn’t let a man close to her but she was getting close to Rory. He had promised Gina he would look after her had he not and now he knew he couldn’t interfere not if he wanted to live. if Rory was smart he wouldn’t push Ronan and if he was lucky he would wait and persuade him to lean on another girl to supply his line and carry it, convince him that there was someone better than Gina’s little sister. Until then he had to be silent and wait, watch and do the best he could to make sure Yasmine knew that her fate was going to determined by the cards and how she played them.


Rory felt comfortable in his element at the university where he could throw on a pair of jeans and old t-shirt and attend his last class for his masters. He would walk with the rest of his class unless he chose not too and right now he wasn’t sure. Honestly part of him wanted to be at DGI that day instead, the meeting with his father and his siblings had set him on edge. He was worried about Bliss and how she was going to effect Max. He was worried about Jackson and his oil project and he was beginning to question where his new app would be situated in it all. He knew his father had called the meeting on purpose to throw everyone off their game and he bit his lip. He had thought about going by the club afterwards but instead had went back to his condo and looked at the skyline deciding that he needed his sleep. He should have went and saw Diamond and reached out to her but part of him felt he couldn’t just yet either. Here he was telling Jackson to take a chance on love and happiness when he couldn’t just do it himself yet either. Shaking his head he rounded the corner and bumped into a gorgeous girl.

He watched her frame go flying almost to the ground before he dropped his bag on the ground and grabbed her steadying her feet underneath him. Her eyes were gorgeous that was the first thing he noticed and then her hair dark and mysterious. He could have swore the eyes reminded him of Diamond’s and he shook his head no that wasn’t possible. Once the girl had steadied her feet he reached down and picked up her bag and handed it to her. She was staring at him and he let out a light chuckle busted she probably knew who he was from the tabloids. He picked up his own bag as he finally spoke holding out his hand to her.

“Rory Devonshire and you are?” Rory offered giving her his best smile when she looked like she had stumbled onto something she wasn’t supposed to. Call it the Devonshire charm that had been passed down from his father to his sons. “Sorry about that I clearly wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. My head isn’t exactly on Business Analysis at the moment.”

Yasmine was lost on the campus, she just had a amazing meeting with her dean. When she danced in front of the dance troupe everyone gave her standing ovation. It made her feel so alive again. She was on a honest high as she ran right into Rory. Her heart skipped a beat seeing him outside of the club. Was this her chance to see if he liked her truly outside of the club. Slowly she got up and she smiled at Rory. Here he was the hero, he was her savior in a way. God only knew why he was so accepting of her lifestyle but this was her shot. To see if the hero truly was as heroic as he said he was.

Dusting her oversized sweater and shorts she adjusted her midriff. Looking at his handsome face she smiled feeling excited. “I’m Yasmine Kohl you can call me Yazzy or Yasmine or just Yas. Or just pretend I didn’t say all of that.” She said laughing at her own nerves. She really did like him which made her feel excited. “Business Analysis that sounds fun.” She said sarcastically as she slowly placed her backpack on her back. “I’m studying modern dance. I think I’m going to actually finish my degree. It’s exciting time for me but no doubt you’re a Devonshire. It should be an exciting time for you no doubt. Your family is always exciting I mean. God I’m babbling.”

“It’s not it’s just the last requirement so that I can graduate this semester and stick a fancy MBA in front of my name. Avoid professor Mills at all costs he’s a hard ass and sort of a jerk.” Rory said giving her a warm smile as he helped her collect her books and handed them to her. Looking at her eyes he could swear they reminded him of something or someone he just couldn’t place them. “Then again most dancers don’t have to take mathematics or business to actually have a degree. Sorry that came out pretty wrong not that you don’t work for it or anything, Are you really alright? I hit you pretty hard.”

“Let me at least carry your bag or something for you. What class are you heading to?” Rory said feeling like he was already blowing it, she was gorgeous had a nice warm smile. Plus it may get his mother off him about going to the club if he told her he had met someone and how realistic was it that he could sweep a stripper off her feet to run away with him it wasn’t like they were in Pretty Woman. Diamond wouldn’t leave the club a few weeks ago and maybe her mind hadn’t changed at all. “So why dance? Not that you don’t have the body for it or anything you do I just don’t know a lot of dance majors.”

“Why business? Isn’t that just you? Dance is me. I can’t help it I just feel a beat and boom.” Yasmine spun around rolling her hips with a playful smile. Wondering if Rory would figure it out just by her moving. Ever since she was little she heard a beat and it sizzled through her soul. No matter what she always had dance and that was something that she couldn’t stop. Yasmine looked at him as she folded her arms. “Rory I just feel free dancing like it’s such a major part of me. Just like taking over your dad business one day will be apart of you.”

Slowly looking around she figured out she didn’t know where the hell she was. Giving him the side eye she smirked. “Ok somehow since we’ve been walking, I’ve gotten lost. What’s crazy is people, in my world, live in Atlas Falls their whole lives and never see this campus. It’s sad huh? My mom went to school here and was on her way before my sister was born. Then somehow she had me and it’s… Too much information.”

“Technically I’m more into computers and information systems I like to take things apart and see how they work. Business is just something I need for the title and it does put me in the running with my siblings.” Rory said considering her statement honestly for the most part business bored him but it was something that he needed to prove to his father he was worthy. Once his app was developed and went through the testing runs then he could release it prove to his father he was just as capable as his siblings. He watched her look around confused and smiled at her.

“I think we’re on the way to the observatory which honesty at night is quite lovely I took an astronomy class in undergrad. I could give you the grand tour if you would like it is the least that I can do and let me buy you lunch or something.” Rory said watching her as she walked, she was nice and sexy as hell and he smiled at her. There was still something with her that he couldn’t quite place and that did intrigue him. “No it’s good, both my parents went here. I am pretty sure with the money my dad donates he’ll have a building named after him or something soon. So other than dance what else are you taking? Do you live here in the dorms or off campus?”

“I actually think that isn’t any of your business Mr. Devonshire.” Yasmine said bringing her signature attitude placing her hand on her hip. “No for real.” She said laughing at his clearly shocked face. “I live off campus in this artsy neighborhood which is slowly becoming a better neighborhood. In other words the Scottswood homes.” It was the infamous housing projects that the biggest star in Atlas Falls history Wildin talked about. It was a disgusting feeling knowing that she had come from the hood. He was used to society princesses, Paris Hilton type bitches. Here she was dying for a shot to talk to him like this. “It’s home people know me and protect me.”

She looked down feeling slightly ashamed but she shook it off. “So that mansion must be the shit you know?” Yasmine said smiling as she slowly continued to walk to the observatory. “To be honest I don’t know much about the stars but I want to see them. Maybe with you since the sun seems to be setting soon. Plus no doubt that I’m in good hands. I have a very protective brother-in-law. He’d get upset if I didn’t see the campus to it’s fullest. I can be spacey because so many things run through my head. I’m taking a few business classes because I want to um open my own studio. I think you asked that earlier but I want to help young girls empower themselves through dance. I found my own through dance. Come on.” She said taking his hand looking at him. “Considering you almost killed me just walking I’m not taking no chances on stairs. These ankles and legs too precious to waste.” Yasmine couldn’t help but ask.

“No girl in a young handsome guy like your world? Come on I mean didn’t you brother date Paris Hilton or some shit? And didn’t your sister model or is that rumors? I’m just saying you too damn fine not to be booed up.” Walking up the stairs she smirked as their fingers merged.

“The mansion is more my parents thing I haven’t lived there since college. It’s big and massive my mother prides herself on it. We have horses.” Rory said looking at her and smiling, he saw her textbooks and realized she was taking Richardson’s math class. He saw the grade at the top of the sheet a C would barely cut it in his class by the time she got to a more serious one she would be so far behind. When she mentioned the Scottswood projects he bit his lip that was in the rougher part of town someone no one in his family would go, hell Jackson wouldn’t even go there. You were likely to get robbed or worse if you looked wrong in that side of town. “The observatory is nice especially at night. You can see a lot. How bad are you struggling in Richardson’s?”

Rory watched her as she spoke and then grinned at her when she stuck her hand in his as they began walking up the steps in her heels he felt his smile spread more. Some of the other students were staring at them and maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing maybe some of the air heads would get it that he wasn’t interested. He wanted to met someone that didn’t care about his trust fund or his last name or his money. He felt like Yasmine was different and he laughed at bit at her curiosity for his siblings.

“Jackson doesn’t date. Max modeled in pageants for a while. My mother would like me to date I just haven’t found the right girl yet.” Rory said looking at her yes his siblings had bad reputations but he wasn’t Jackson he didn’t use girls just to use them. If he dated someone he wanted it to matter to connect with someone. He dated Val over a year ago over the summer and that was the last time, not that they ended badly or anything he just needed to focus in on school. “What about you? You have to have someone that has caught your fancy.”

“That’s funny considering I do have a lot of guys who are after me. To make a long story short I’m not finding anybody but a special somebody any attention. Matter fact he is so far into me that I.” Yasmine paused as she cleared her throat. “Think he might be before me but he’s saying corny stuff like fancy.” Placing air quotes on the word of fancy, effectively letting go of his hand. She playfully rolled her eyes as she made her way inside the observatory. Looking at him she wondered if he felt she was Diamond. If he did he wasn’t saying anything. A gentleman through and through. Her first boyfriend Khalil was apart of GDP Boiz which was founded by Kendrick and Devin. The man before her was so different than the one from her past. He was a blue blooded heir to a billion dollar empire.

“Now I’m not trying to be funny but I’m insulted you don’t see the perfect girl before you and you don’t recognize it.” Yasmine purred as she looked at the sun setting. “So I guess we aren’t as what’s the word I was thinking compatible as I was think. For a second I was thinking this could be something. But maybe it’s nothing at all.” She wrapped her arms around her the icy chill of the air conditioning waved over her. “So what do you do for fun? What interest you? What makes you happy other than this.”

“I never said you weren’t perfect have you looked at yourself in the mirror I just didn’t want to be pretentious. Despite what you may hear I happen to have at least been raised with manners I’m sorry if fancy insulted you I didn’t know what else to call it. Interests let’s see computers, video games um football.” Rory said giving her a warm and playful smile she was nice and he noticed she averted the question about the class meaning she was probably too shy to actually say she was struggling. He knew she could probably find another tutor at the center but for some reason if it meant that he got to spend more time with her he could at least help her pass the class. He felt his phone buzz reminding him that he had a meeting at DGI before his late lunch with his mother.

“So the class listen I know it’s none of my business but I don’t want to see you fail. I can help you with your grade and you won’t be lost next semester on the next class. Do you have any time this week to study. Call it a real apology you can come over I’ll attempt to cook or we can order out maybe spend some more time together.” Rory said he felt at ease with her, she seemed easy to talk to and he knew his parents would never approve of a stripper. However he did notice since Yasmine entered his mind he hadn’t once stopped to think about the club or Diamond. He saw her hesitate for a moment and showed her the gigantic telescope. “You’d be helping me out I really don’t want to go to this boring ass fundraising dinner later.”

With the arts department they demand you to have real life trade behind there name. Her business degree could help her open a dance studio or something for the kids like her. As she tapped her nails on the wood. “You know I knew I was screwed when you said my Professor name. Richardson is that bad huh?” Looking at him she nodded. “So today you want to have a study day today? Well I don’t want to disappoint your parents and get on the legendary Devonshire’s bad side. So how about this we go for a hour to the fundraiser? Then study?”

Yasmine smiled as she held her book bag. “My sister would have liked you. She used to get on me about me dancing before school. I couldn’t dance until I did my school work. So let’s do it I’ll let you be my tutor.” Pushing him playfully she smirked leaning back. “Yeah and I have go meet up with my cousin Kendrick. He’s so proud of me signing up for school so meet back up in a couple hours?”

“Today is fine you have a final coming up and if I can help you pass it I am more than happy to do that. Richardson is a hard ass and I wouldn’t wish him on my own worst enemy. I think I can manage to at least head to the fundraiser for an hour at most. It’s semi formal dress nothing too fancy donating money to the children’s wing of the hospital.” Rory said smiling at her so it was settled they could go to the stuffy as hell fundraiser dinner and then study. His mother could get off his back about Diamond and the club and honestly he liked Yasmine he felt some weird connection to her.

“See you in a couple of hours. Here is my number.” Rory said taking out a pen from his pocket and writing it down on one of her papers. “Text me your address and me and my driver can pick you up.” Rory stepped back from her letting his fingers brush against her hand as he did so, he saw her face light up and turned walking out of the conservatory his mind no longer on a stripper he probably could never have but very much so into the dance business major he just met.

Yasmine smiled knowing for real Rory would want her sincerely either way. If she was a stripper or a dancer he was interested in her. Biting her lip she watched him walking away. Pulling out her phone she immediately texted him her address. Slowly walking around the conservatory taking in her new life as a college student. No more stripping soon enough and maybe she could fly away with Rory. Walking down the stairs a chill swifted down her spine. Then it hit her what was she to wear? What was she to say? How was she supposed to act around these people? Looking up she noticed a man who she saw earlier with Rory but never said anything. When she got down the stairs to the observatory, she turn around as the guy continued to walk past her. She adjusted her bag from her shoulder to around her neck. College or not she hated to be caught slipping. Walking down the stairs Yasmine saw the parking lot she parked in.

She wanted to say who the fuck was this clown? Did Kendrick place this fucker on her? He wasn’t good or maybe he wanted her to know? Or what if this guy figured out who Diamond was? Getting in her car she shook off whoever that was following her.


Hunter packed away the last of his papers after a successful meeting with Lowell a few minutes earlier for the final proposal on the upcoming casino project. He had broke the news to Lowell about his marriage to Max and Lowell hadn’t said a lot to him about it. He had moved out last week and had been staying with his mother in the guest house for now it was the best. He still had Mason going over and fine tooth combing the prenup deciding at the end of the day that he wanted that for them to end amicably. He didn’t want them to be his parents stuck in a loveless marriage that neither of them wanted but he also wasn’t going to just hand Max half of what was his in a divorce either. Lowell had starred off most of the meeting and he was worried about his father in law, Lowell had been distracted the last few weeks. Checking his watch he knew he had about an hour and a half until he saw his mother at the country club later and then they had the fundraiser dinner later.

Walking out of the conference room he saw Bliss walking down the hallway and offered her a smile and a wave. He wanted to see her once Mason found something he would. Honestly he had wanted Bliss for a few weeks since the night his father died he was however trying to be a gentleman about it. He wanted what he wanted and if Max could fuck around on him he figured it was time she got a taste of her own medicine it was also something wrong in the back of his head with it too. Bliss was Max’s sister which made things awkward to think about and he wondered how her family would react would they hate him? He hadn’t done anything wrong yet they were just friends and he knew from experience when you were claiming you were just friends when the chemistry was there it was you lying to yourself. He cursed at the thought as he turned the corner and saw Philip standing in the hallway.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Hunter hissed looking at the man that was fucking his wife. Philip had a lot of nerve to show his face at DGI and was Max seriously bringing her lover to work? He felt his blood boil as the poor receptionist looked at them and he shot her a look to get lost. “Don’t look so fucking shocked you really think I am that dumb I know she’s spreading her legs for you I have for months.”

Philip had come to DGI to see Max. It wasn’t as if he could stay away. His heart was pounding deeply as he folded his arm. Who did this rich punk think he was? He spent years working his way up. He spent years making a name for himself in this community. Not only that his overt jealousy was clear. Poor bastard had every reason to be pissed. Hunter was correct that he was fucking his wife every damn chance he got. Max was amazingly missing at this moment but he wasn’t here to fight. He wanted to fuck Max brains out and tell her he’d wait. As badly as it ate at his pride he wanted her more than this son of a bitch. Stepping back because if he swung at him he’d have leverage to whoop the prep ass.

“Spreading her legs? That’s vulgar thing to say about your wife. Max and myself are dear friends now if you feel like were too close that’s one thing.” He laughed lightly knowing he was lying through his teeth. “Oh I see you aren’t satisfying your wife and you’re pissed at me. Where is Max? I mean you’re so mad at me but have you ever thought what you aren’t doing? Why you aren’t making her happy anymore Mr. Kincaid? Or shall I call you Hunter because you obviously know me.”

“Well if the shoe fits for her she should wear it honestly you don’t know anything about me and Max and it may be vulgar but we both know it is true. She is staying at your club oh don’t look so surprised I’ve seen the photos you really think your little club was any match for a very well trained and paid PI?” Hunter asked looking at Philip with disgust as he spoke he honestly felt like his mother in this moment learning and running into one of his father’s whores. Was this how she had felt when she and Carla would bump into each other in public. “Max is in a meeting but you would know that if she invited you.”

Hunter waved his hand off as security came out sending them away as he moved towards Philip circling him eyeing what was now the competition. He saw Max emerge out of her office and round the corner so it was a full house at the moment. He folded his arms behind his back as he stepped around Philip and back to the front. “She didn’t invite you did she no you see you can go back to the gutter where you belong. Didn’t her daddy throw yours out of the company years ago or was that after your father left with his tail between his legs when your mother killed herself? I have the name what do you have other than a titty bar that you sell drugs out of?”

“My father left town and why is none of your concern. Your people care about your parents linage. When at the end of the day I could care less.” Philip said with a hint of bitterness. Who did this boy think he was talking too? The resident good boy of Atlas Falls was showing some big fangs. “So you believe that I’m supposed to be intimidated by your words. If I’m fucking your wife you get mad at her not me. I didn’t tell her to find me or come to me begging for me. If that’s exactly what’s happening or is your imagination just running, Max is my friend. Nothing more and nothing less. I just can’t help but to see why if Max is having an affair that she would. You don’t trust her and you don’t even love her. These marriages you rich people do are archaic, keeping the money in the families. However you can’t make her happy can you. You go to sleep at night trying to figure out how to make her happy.” Philip knew he was playing with fire by insulting that man’s intelligence. He however didn’t care this was about him and Max.

“You know Hunt, may I call you Hunt? I’m all for equality so why don’t you do me a favor? Go fuck Bliss. Find her and screw her brains out because maybe then I’d be able to touch Max body all over. I’d be able to do all the depraved things you won’t. Just so you know Mr. Kincaid I was fully planning on voting for your father. Since he frequented that titty bar you are sticking your nose down at so much. Or did you not know he was a VIP member. I bet I know what your daddy liked more than your mother? I bet I know so much more than you about your beloved former mayor other than he fucked a mobstress. So don’t sit here and act as if I’m a problem being here. This is where I belong my father built this company, Lowell just played the game better.”

“You forget Mr. Montgomery my name could run you out of town, my money could run you out of town. I’m not intimidated by you, you’re a plaything to Max which is fine for now you really think a guy like you is going to end up with her you don’t have deep enough pockets for her. Seeing how badly your father left this company I doubt that she’d ever get serious with you.” Hunter said looking at him as he saw Max coming towards them and he couldn’t help the anger that was surging through him, not only of Philip but of his wife. She thought she was so smart about her affair he could prove her wrong as soon as Mason found what he needed he was filing. “I’m not you but if you must know Bliss and I are friends good friends. You know how that it is don’t you?”

“Hello Max your lover is here I do have to wonder whatever will daddy say this time about it. I told him Max.” Hunter said watching the mortification pass over her face that he let the cat out of the bag. He watched Max glare at Philip and wanted to laugh at her playing victim in the office when for all he knew she had invited him to work. He looked at them. “You know you want to Philip cause a scene but then again if you are just friends then there is nothing for you to actually be doing here. Don’t look so horrified Max I moved out or did you forget about that?”

Max had arrived at the office and had been in meetings most of the day so far going over things for her launch of the hotel chain. She knew that Hunter had a meeting with her father for the casino project but she was floored that he had told her father about their separation that wasn’t his news to tell. She had heard Philip’s voice in the hallway and walked down the hallway towards them both why was Philip here she had made it very clear he wasn’t supposed to come around DGI. Too much was at risk with the casino project, with Steven being dead and having the man she was cheating on her husband with show up would disappoint her father. She shot eyes at the other staff in the hallway making them leave as she finally reached Hunter and Philip.

“Hunter I thought you would be back at City Hall by now and how dare you tell him, we discussed this it is not the time.” Max seethed at her husband as she looked between the two, this was war now. The news of their separation would kill her parents especially right before Chauncey’s wedding to Selina. She then cut her eyes at Philip watching his anger on his face at Hunter. “What are you doing here? I made it very clear….” Max began her voice trailing off as she looked between them.

“Very clear what Max that he wasn’t allowed to come here and throw you on a table and fuck your brains out?” Hunter spat, as a chuckle escaped his lips at the two of them as he looked at Philip getting angrier and angrier. He looked at them both. “I may just take you up Philip at least I know Bliss may have the common decency to turn me down. Or maybe she won’t I’ve been holding off out of respect to you but since you both don’t know the meaning. I think I’ve reconsidered.”

“Please don’t bring me into this.” Bliss said slowly strolling into the hallway full of emotions. This however was her moment to stab her sister dearly. Eyeing Philip he was sexy in that in another lifetime or reality she’d screw him. However he had it bad for Max the way he was looking was burning a hole through her. Fanning herself she eyed Hunter sensually as she looked at Max. “My, my, my, my Maximilla you’ve been very busy sweetie. These two men are fighting over you. So tell me where does your heart belong or since I’ve been dragged into this I must know? Your devoted husband or your.” She walked to Philip and touched his jacket the leather felt smooth against her fingers.

“Lover?” Bliss stepped in front of Philip nuzzling against him. “Well sister tell me could I interest both your paramore’s? You are sad Max? Look at you, you’re pissed that I’m touching Philip.” Bliss said as she laughed playfully looking into his eyes. “How do you feel?”

“Now Hunter see I’m not interested in Max her sister is much more interesting.” Philip said looking directly at Max with a smile. “You see I’m here actually to talk to my friend Max and ask her how does she feel about me seeing Bliss? Misunderstanding but trust me rich boy if you ever talk to me like that again. I’ll fucking rip out every tooth in your mouth. I have the fucked up connections to make it happen.” Gripping Bliss by her hips.

She pushed him off. “Ew I was making a point my sister doesn’t give a flying fuck about you Hunter.” Her eyes looked at him as she walked to him touching his shoulder. “I’m late for a meeting but please call me after this fiasco is over.”

“I’m going to leave Max call me because this is all too much for me. But I hope you can live with the pressure you no doubt feel with this man. Let’s stop pretending and keep it very real about this because he knows. He fucking knows and I want you. I want you and I don’t give a fuck about him.” Philip stood there as he looked at Max. “I won’t be leaving or waiting I’m here for you. Feelings weren’t planned hell we weren’t but Max!”

“Yes Max?” Bliss said walking to Dani’s office. “Max aren’t you going to say something at his grand declaration?”

Max shot daggers at them both before she turned her attention to Hunter what in the hell was she doing? She and Hunter had been married for years had been together for years, her sister was basically throwing herself at her lover and as she stared at Hunter she wondered why? Hunter was loyal, reliable, kind and at one point she loved him and loved him dearly but now she felt friendship for him. She could feel her hands shaking at Philip for coming to DGI and embarrassing her like he was now, her place of employment where her father worked. She watched Bliss walk away and couldn’t help what she said.

“You’ll always have my leftovers if not my husband, my lover and daddy’s love.” Max said watching Bliss walk to Dani’s office. She turned her attention back to Philip. “I already told you this is how it has to be. I’ve known Hunter has known for a while, we all have what do you want me to say that I can just divorce him? It’s complicated Philip you know that.”

Hunter watched the entire exchange and he could feel himself look at Bliss the entire time with Philip’s slimy hands on her and he nearly lost it beating him to a pulp. He watched her go down the hallway before turning his attention back to his wife and Philip. He watched Max try and worn her way out of what was going on and if he didn’t hate Philip he’d feel sorry for him. He’d feel sorry that Max drug him into her web that he really believed that Max would run off with him. The entire thing was laughable and here he was staring at them knowing logic should say he should be furious at them both but his mind was on Bliss, wanting to call her spend more time with her. Clearly Max no longer wanted their marriage and she hadn’t in a while.

“Did you really think she’d go to you Philip?” Hunter asked looking at the other man he was already thinking of Bliss’s words. He would be calling her it was clear he and Max were done as soon as Mason got something in the prenup. Being her lacky for the next few months would only end up hurting the both of them in the long run. “I’m having Mason look over the prenup he’ll find something Max and when he does it can be done. You want to play your games you always do, I want more I want someone faithful that isn’t going to fuck with my head for next best thing. I certainly don’t want this to end up like my parents.”

Max looked at him seeing the hurt finally on Hunter’s face and she was shocked by the guilt that she felt in that moment. If she was fully involved with Philip why in the world was she feeling so guilty about what was going on with him. Hunter didn’t deserve what she was doing to him and she was reminded of her conversation with Jackson the night before. She never thought about how her affair would affect her family, how her brothers friendship with his best friend would be affected. How her parents would look at her with disappointment knowing she had turned out just as bad as her father. Worst of all she never thought about how it would affect Hunter.

“Hunter.” Max said looking at him and then glancing at Philip. They looked like they could start a fist fight and at this point she wasn’t sure if that would be over her or over her sister. She saw her father out of her eye and the chill of his look of disappointment at her sent a chill down her spine as she looked at Philip. “Please leave Philip.”

Philip stood frozen as she asked him to leave he nodded catching the old man glaring at him. His teeth gritted a little because all he wanted to do was grab her. Seeing security arrive that bastard called the police. He turned to Hunter and shook his head. “You’ll never satisfy her. You’ll never know what truly makes your wife tick. That’s the saddest part of this entire story. You want someone to be faithful to you, fine and dandy but she isn’t it. Max craves danger and she craves something not as monotonous as yourself. Pardon me for disturbing your place of business Mr. Devonshire but honestly we all know this isn’t anything but a trap. A trap for creative minds to be juiced like Walter and my father.” Philip stormed away as security followed.

Once on the elevator he shot Max a longing look. As if he was calling out to her without saying a word. “Marriage? You support this Mr. Devonshire then just watch as Hunter takes a piece of DGI and your daughter.”

Lowell stood in front of Hunter and Max looking at them wondering if what the boy said was the truth? Would Hunter take a piece of his legacy? “You two need to work this out. Max you are far too grown to have your business echoing throughout this building. Is that clear and Hunter you don’t have a father however you’ve always been a son to me. Remember that.”


Dani looked out the window in her office still feeling like a wreck from the restaurant. She really didn’t think it would hurt that bad Jackson rejecting her there. It did, enough that she had went home bawled her eyes out and then poured her first of many glasses of bourbon ignoring her phone for the rest of the night turning it off. She woke up with a mild hangover showered and got ready for work. She dressed simply in a navy dress and heels, fixed her hair, deciding even with makeup she looked terrible. She met with Lowell when she arrived where he asked about missing the meeting and if she was feeling better. She had nodded her head numbly at him realizing that Rory or Jackson had covered her absence from what was an important meeting for the oil project. Lowell informed her if she and Jackson couldn’t seal the oil deal then he would have no choice but to not let Jackson fully back into the company, reminding her that her job was on the line too.

She took a breath now in the silence of her office to think about things with her and Jackson. They had broken their own rules, she had broken her rule she fell for him and now it was something she would have to deal with. She probably shouldn’t have asked to be more with him and she knew that now clearly they were not thinking the same way. Looking back she felt completely foolish for it Jackson had told her he wasn’t capable of actually wanting something with her from the get go and why would he? She would never be enough for him just like she wasn’t enough for Lex or the others, he’d find someone better. She wasn’t going to let the oil project fail she did feel that would truly destroy any progress that Jackson had made since he had been home. The knock on her door broke her out of her thoughts and she wiped at her face just to make sure there were no tears before turning and looking at Bliss.

“Hello Bliss. Dani Fraiser come in. I would assume that your father at least showed you your office?” Dani said offering her a warm smile as she did and holding out her hand. She saw Bliss wearily take it in a firm shake before she led her to the couch and pulled out the packet she had prepared handing it to her. “Where would you like to start? I would have went over this with you last night I’m sorry I wasn’t there.”

Bliss twirled her pocketbook in her hand watching Dani who was shockingly pretty. Rumors around DGI was she was sniffing around Jackson. No doubt her big brother would go for this girl. She looked like a model but behind her eyes was something. She seemed tormented by something it was sadness. Sitting down on the couch across from her she crossed her legs. She was nosey and helped Jackson so she needed someone to be an ally in this place. No doubt Max was poisoning the staff against her and she and Chauncey didn’t get along at all. She hated a bully and one thing she knew Chauncey was a bully. He was scared of Jackson fulfilling his true potential. Opening her pocketbook she pulled out a compact and reapplied her lipstick before finally looking at Dani.

“That’s a loaded question, I want to start with assisting you and Jackson with the oil development overseas. I know a few people in Egypt and Dubai that could assist you. Not only that I want to get in on Max’s development deal. I think I can take on that project but most of all I want to expand DGI into a brand. I have a idea what if we could turn DGI into a luxury brand. Trump Towers, Hiltons, and so many others have created luxury. Let me create something magical for this company and I think you hold all the cards.”

Looking back she saw Philip and Hunter arguing and she knew it was about Max. She slumped a little. “I don’t fit in with my family at all. I just want to make something out of myself but tell me. Tell me what you want with Jackson and maybe I’ll tell you what I want with Hunter.” She purred pouting a little. “I don’t get it those handsome men are fighting over the most horrible brat I’ve ever seen. My whole life I’ve wanted.” Bliss paused looking at Dani. “Back to business I’m sorry.”

“I’ll ask Jackson and Lowell about it. Max I am not sure would welcome you to her project you have after all been getting cozy with Hunter at the resort. Your father wants ideas my job is to help you make those ideas a profit for DGI and make sure you turn good press on the way to that goal.” Dani said looking at Bliss not really sure that Jackson would welcome her onto the project he really wanted to do it himself. She tried to not think on Jackson too long if she did she’d be miserable again and she looked at Bliss. “Your father wants you to attend the charity dinner for St. Christopher’s tonight inside the packet is a press release for you to go over. Questions you are allowed to answer for the media with provided answers. You caused quite an uproar showing up in town unannounced. You’ll move into the mansion and be a part of Selina and Chauncey’s wedding.”

“How did you like Europe growing up? You moved around a lot.” Dani asked, Bliss reminded her of Lucy and a small smile spread on her lips at the thought of her cousin. When Bliss brought up what was going on between her and Jackson again in conversation though she paused she honestly didn’t want to talk about it. What was she supposed to tell her? That they were screwing around and her brother didn’t want anything else with her? She looked back at Bliss when she brought up Hunter and bit her tongue. Seeing Jackson in the doorway she tried not to fidget with the file in her hand why was he staring at her, he made it clear the night before he didn’t want anything else. She felt like such an idiot now with him taking a breath she spoke. “Bliss wants to know if she can work on the oil project.”

Bliss rolled her eyes at the cozy with Hunter comment. That was so immature not of Dani but the gossip. She hadn’t touched him but seeing him today made her want him even more. Max didn’t deserve a guy like Hunter. He was kind and looked crushed at what that Philip guy was saying to him. Snapping out of her feelings she tapped her finger onto the table.

“Europe was an adventure. My grandfather spoiled me rotten overseas we traveled all over and that’s where I met Ramses Hassan the sheikh. He’s supposed to be an Egyptian royal but the man’s honestly a bore. Now his daughter Natasha is amazingly fun. She’s also one of the most stunning and striking women you’ll ever see. Anyway I’d love to actually help you with the oil project big brother because I have connections and Mr. Khan actually has oil in Denver and Montana.” Bliss said looking at Jackson and Dani. The way they were looking at each other. “Are you two doing the bed limbo? I mean everyone knows it’s all over the office.”

Jackson looked down at his shoes. He looked at his half-sister as he looked at Dani. “Look I’m not mixing business and professional. I’m here for a meeting about our um relationship.” His eyes shifted up at Dani. “Why me? I know you know I’m fucked up why me?”

“Not another emotionally charged showdown.” Bliss said folding her arms.

Jackson shot her a I’m the big brother shut the hell up look. For the years she didn’t get them. “I just want to know why me? He’s a good guy trust me I have history with that jerk. He’s a good guy though and I just have to know what did I do to make you want me. And I promise Bliss we’ll get back to the oil but I just want to say. Dani you aren’t tied to me but I will say whatever this is. I want more.”

Dani wasn’t sure what to say when Jackson began talking, she was so sure a few moments ago that it meant nothing to him. That was why the night before sent her on a drinking binge honestly not living up to his standards as not even being good enough to want to date was humiliating. She glanced at him as he asked about why telling her he wanted more too. Why was it so easy to look at him and forgive him for the night before? She was used to closing her emotions off with men but somehow he always seemed to pull her back in. It was the little things like how he made her feel safe, made her laugh, the way he said her name when he asked her to stay for the night, how when he touched her skin it seemed to light on fire, how he didn’t press her about Pittsburgh, so many reasons with him flooded her mind.

“He’s not you. You make me happy. I just thought after last night that you didn’t…” Dani said quietly her voice trailing off while she looked at him. Pushing back other things she wanted to say to him. Like how she wanted to finally be tied by him. How she wanted to look at him when he was buried inside of her, give herself over to him fully. Hell they could do it right here on the couch if it meant he wanted this too. She bit her lip at him trying to push that fantasy out of her head with his sister staring at them. “Can we talk more after I’m done in a few hours?”

“Absolutely as for letting Bliss into my venture I don’t see why not. My sister has connections and I want to use them. If she can help DGI springboard into oil and clean energy well she’d be even more amazing. It’s not many people who can get my twin like that Bliss. I want to tell you that you don’t have to hate her to find a place in our family. You might already have one if you cool off the Max thing. Trust me I’ll be speaking with her also.” Jackson said sensing that Bliss was about to protest. “I just wanted you to know how I felt but you two can continue. I have to actually go speak with dad. See you in a couple of hours and Bliss stop being so antagonistic.” With that Jackson walked out and he couldn’t help but smile.

Bliss watched them making goo goo eyes at each other and rolled her eyes. She folded her arms when her brother scolded her about Max. Then for some reason she smiled thinking of what happened. Her brother just told her she has a place in the family. Slowly grabbing her tablet she smirked. “He called me his sister. That’s cool considering that I come from nobody. Look Max has had years of being adored and favored by this whole town. I just want a moment to be that girl. You know what I mean? I want be loved by never mind I’m coming off really stupid right now let’s get to work.”

Dani watched Jackson leave and could feel the smile forming on her lips as he left the office they could work out the details later. She smiled at Bliss when she saw her get happy about what Jackson said to her. She was giddy, she was happy and for once in the last year since everything that happened with Lex she felt like maybe just maybe everything would work out for once. That it was ok to feel what she was feeling with Jackson again, it was alright to fall in love again or at least try too. “If you’re stupid I probably look like a lovesick teenager. I’m so sorry you had to see that, it’s just been complicated is a good word for it with me and your brother?”

Dani saw Bliss’s phone buzz and saw it was Hunter’s number and deciding to break the ice even further with Bliss whom she felt maybe they could even be friends she spoke up. What bothered her was honestly that could have been her if she would have stayed in Pittsburgh she knew that even with everything that had happened Lex would never be faithful to her. “For the record I think Max is a spoiled entitled bitch I don’t like her I never have. I think Hunter deserves better than to have his wife go out and sleep around on him and while you say you’re friends people as you know talk. So I thought we could go over the packet I can bring you up to speed on the oil project. What do you like for food? We can order in lunch.”

“Chinese.” Bliss said taking off her jacket and flopping onto a couch. “Have you ever felt like someone would have been yours if you were apart of the family? Wait no that’s only things I go through.” She said with a biting sarcasm. “To be honest Hunter is sexy and smart he has this real sensitive thing going and he listens. He understands how I feel, how out of place this is to finally have a family and most of them hate you. I mean Max is a bitch but I wanted a sister always. Okay that is a lie but when I found out about her I always wanted to meet her. I just never imagined she was just an evil shrew. Not only that one who wasting a man like Hunter for Philip. He’s just sketchy I mean the guy is a dirt bag and I when I touched him I swore I started itching.” Bliss leaned back on the couch. “I need to know if it’s wrong to go after him? After all this isn’t all about Max. We have real connection and his smile it just makes me feel like it’s right.” Max may have met Hunter first but she was sure their connection was much more real.

Looking at the paperwork Dani handed her she read it and smiled. “Montana has some untapped oil as does Denver good idea. I also love that he’ll start reach out to foreign markets at the same time as he digs into those two sites. I also think it’s smart that he’s doing a energy summit for new technology this could be a major venture for DGI.” Bliss looked at Dani and smirked. “Okay stop glowing it’s okay he’s cute and all but he’s not all that.” She teased throwing one of her gloves at her.

“No I’ve never wondered that. I can see how you would feel cheated though not growing up here, with your siblings feeling like you missed out on what you feel was due to you. Hunter is a nice guy he’s been that way since high school, in truth I wasn’t exactly accepted by the cool kids your siblings included. But people grow up and change or I like to think they do.” Dani said smiling at the chinese comment there was a great place right down the road that had excellent take out and once they went over the oil project and her press release she didn’t think she had anything else on her calendar for the day. She had left it open with her assistant in case Lowell needed her at the fundraiser dinner. “I think Hunter and you are adults I certainly would never judge you two if you did start something. Hunter seems to really care about you which is probably why he hasn’t reacted to what is going on, he doesn’t want Max to unload on you. Max has been having her fun for over a year with Philip who I agree is a sleaze bucket. “

“Jackson’s smart I don’t think you’d ever know it looking at your brother but he really is. I know he has all these meetings lined up after the wedding and granted this was all just some ideas we wrote down on a paper over breakfast one morning but still it’ll be good for DGI. This is much more what I like to do being a part of projects managing them opposed to burying myself in press releases and speaking for DGI. Long story short my father swears up and down he should be part owner of this company he and Lowell got into it years ago and cut my dad out. They hate each others guts now.” Dani said looking at Bliss a small smile on her face about her and Jackson’s first morning after together. Sitting at the mansion eating breakfast that the staff had made even though she insisted she could whip something up where they talked about the oil ideas and music before they went riding the horses. “I think your brother is pretty amazing and for me right now he is all that. I haven’t ever felt like this and maybe it’s God playing a cruel trick on me given our parents but it feels right. I also think fate throws us our hands and we go from there, obviously there is a reason fate threw you into Hunter’s orbit.”

“I believe in fate. I believe that everything also isn’t forever but what kind of woman would I be? How cheap would I be? Tell me Dani were they really in love.” Bliss said softly as she folded her arms. “I’ve heard Lowell did some heinous things to your father the business world still calls that a Fraiser. Dani my brother honestly is known to be trouble but you seem to make him smile. I never saw him in pictures with Skye or that dead Cat girl smiling. He seems so charming with you.” She said playfully. “I don’t know he’s amazing Hunter really is but I just don’t want to be that girl. The girl who ruins her sister marriage, can you see the publicity. Unknown Devonshire heiress steals other Devonshire heiress husband. It writes itself and I just don’t know if I’m that girl especially considering our father is honestly looking for a successor.” Bliss leaned in testing how much Dani knew.

“I mean why else would Lowell subject himself to the bad publicity? I mean your job is too clean up the Devonshire image, so why hasn’t he had you clean me up. I mean isn’t that what Simon and your job is? Yet I’m now at the company and my familiar connection to the Blisston’s doesn’t hurt my grandfather was a pioneer in this community. So tell me Dani what is my father up to but looking for a successor and I’d rather Jackson, myself, or Rory wouldn’t you?” She tilted her head. “Listen I have a idea a grand scheme to help DGI go boldly forward. Not only that but since you know that and you are sleeping with my competition. I need you to be on my side when I make my big move. My play is luxurious new and fresh. Something DGI needs is a renovation so to speak. DGI is a technology empire but Lowell is thirsty to expand and how we are going to do this is expanding into different markets. Luxury brands, luxury hotels, no I’m thinking luxury condo’s. Expanding DGI into hotels and chains of luxury selling our lavish lifestyles to people who can’t afford it. For one night they feel like Lowell or Jackie or Jackson or Max or Rory or me. Arrogant as Chauncey is I don’t think we could sell him. I need you and I need you to keep my plan and idea secret.” Leaning back she looked at Dani.

“So as all of our publicist I will be launching a press conference and I’ll talking to father about my new idea.” Bliss was calculating to see if she could trust her new found friend.

“I don’t think you’re cheap. I don’t know if they were ever really in love kids do things to please their parents. I think maybe Hunter and Max tried to make it work and are now just figuring out maybe it wasn’t right.” Dani said looking at Bliss honestly she didn’t think Max ever really loved Hunter but then again she wasn’t one to judge. It was the same with her and Lex, except Lex was very much so the Max in their relationship. She had luckily avoided the entire marriage part, discovered they didn’t fit before they said I do and walked away her dignity still in tact. “Your father is looking for someone to pass the reigns too. You’re actually good publicity at the moment, your friendship with Hunter is good publicity people are talking about DGI because of it and interested in DGI products as a result.”

“I can’t be bought if that is what you are asking. I’ll do what is best for DGI.” Dani said as she looked at Bliss yes she was sleeping with Jackson but it wasn’t like they talked about corporate work stuff when they did. Not to mention the idea of betraying him felt wrong period, much like how she felt when she was out to dinner with Jon. They kept that very separate from their time in bed together and he’d never asked her for information on his siblings projects. “Honestly I don’t think you’d have to worry about Jackson taking over your project he’s happy with the energy stuff. I am curious about your idea though and I do think it is marketable. When do you want to have the press conference?”

Bliss smiled at Dani, she was for the best of them which she liked. The girl was loyal and the girl was fierce. “Okay tiger I just wanted to see where your head was at. I think selling luxury is the climate we are in. Think of it Dani the celebrities all sell their lifestyles why can’t we? My family is the new Kennedy’s or at least that’s what Forbes magazine says. Let’s use that to further expand a already recognizable brand into something so much more. Create four main new buildings Atlas Falls, Chicago, New York, and L.A. I think it could be a amazing venture for DGI.”

“It’s not about Jackson taking my project it’s about me figuring out if I could trust you.” Bliss said with a smile. “You passed I just don’t know who I can trust sometimes.  This is treacherous world we are in but I think you already know that. Just be careful you seem to be sweet as hell. I just know my family isn’t always to be trusted. My father did hide me for over twenty plus years.” A receptionist arrived with their food. “Let’s eat and figure out when I should do my big press conference and interview. Everyone has to believe this is a happy family reunion right?”


Brenda blotted her cherry red lips. Her mother would be turning over in her grave. No self respecting widow would wear that shade of red after her husband died. Looking over the dress she was wearing it didn’t scream widow. She felt liberated now. Free to do what she’d always wanted either have one of her kids succeed her husband. Or take something that for over thirty years belonged to her no doubt. Some loves were special but the burning love she felt for him. Well she loved her husband once upon a time. He was the love of her life but so much pain and hurt had happened. Now she was free, and felt vibrant. Plus the vintage bottle of white rhubarb wine didn’t hurt.

Slowly she turned in to see Jackie who’s perched face already annoyed her. She didn’t want to be fake. They’d never gotten along but they’d had mutual dislike for Lauren. However the abuse Ophelia took was childish. “Lookie here if it isn’t the new Queen.” She curtseyed to her. “Come on this is so what you want, hell Lowell is the new force in high society. You love it don’t you princess. You love that you are the new Queen but I won’t be down long. Trust me so enjoy it Jackie. I know why you’re here can’t stomach Lowell’s bastard staying with you? Oh don’t you dare hold back because no matter what I see you for what you are. I see you as the girl I constantly stepped on and surpassed. I fought for that throne and just because your husband is the richest man in this town. Doesn’t mean I’m giving up in the throws of my despair I’ll rise. Even though this will shock you beauty I don’t believe in losing. I’m the Queen and you can rule castle Devonshire but Atlas Falls is mine. You hear me?”

Brenda walked to the door and locked it. “Just between us girls how long did you know my husband was going to that filthy club? And is that how Lowell strong armed him for that ridiculous casino? It all makes sense now so much since I’ve hired Alfred Montenegro. Shifty lawyer no? He has an amazing private eye on his team and dug up that information. So how long would you smile in my face?”

Jackie had made her rounds while she confirmed her lunch reservations with Rory later that afternoon she was not happy to hear he was canceling the fundraiser event. She supposed she still had her other children to rely on for it but she dared to think Rory was blowing her off to hang out at that deplorable club again. She saw Brenda out of the corner of her eye and sent a look to the staff to clear the room and she watched in amusement as Brenda locked the door had Brenda started early? She could swear she smelt the booze on her breath when she spoke yes she loved the power knowing that with Steven gone she and Lowell were powerful the most powerful couple in Atlas Falls.

“Everyone knew Brenda did you honestly think he was out at the office keeping hours at city hall? You’ve fallen off your pedestal queen though honestly you needed too. Now that Steven is gone Lowell and I have our shot. The wedding between Selina and Chauncey will rival even your own it will be the talk of the town.” Jackie said looking at her with a coyness yes Lowell had blackmailed poor Steven with the club and the escorts but it was for business and DGI. She watched her rant and then spoke again. “The casino will happen and well we both know what a pushover Walter is so there will be no one to stop it. I smiled at your face and then laughed behind it did you honestly think we were friends Brenda?”

“You think Walter is weak I see.” Brenda said with a deathly calm as a silence eerily waved over the room. “Weak or is he susceptible for change? Walter isn’t any Devonshire concern. You think you have what it takes? You think you and Lowell are destined for greatness. I should have been more careful around you maybe it was the booze or the work you’ve gotten done. That made me think we were friends. I see now whatever the case Jackie I never thought you were capable of being so cold. So brava a performance of the ages everyone take a look judas and his wife have once again stabbed another but my dear. That crown you wear so mighty and just. Be careful because it’s always another like me waiting and willing to rip the crown. I’m scheming now my dear and even when you think it can’t get any worse oh Jackie, I’ll be there.”

Slowly walking to the door Jackie eyes glazed over a chilling sight. This harpy had a smug look on her face. Drunk or not Brenda was aware of the how Lowell treated Tess years prior. Jackie had bested her but she still had one stinging ace up her sleeve. “How long can you hold onto a empire? When every where you turn deception is at bay. Do you believe that the Kincaids aren’t in a move for power. Except I see one flaw that would dismantle Lowell’s greedy and self serving heart. It’s something called an affair. Oh I can see it all over the media Max Devonshire sleeps with sleazy stripclub owner. You know because Dani’s good the girls got chutzpah to be laying with you beasts. So he’ll miraculously be opening up chains of XES all over America and then to top it off he’s a enterprise with his sleazy strip clubs. Spin as you might but Max is a whore and she betrayed my son do you think he’s leaving with nothing? DGI stocks are mine and when I taste the blood of me inside of your company. Oh Jesus he’s hurt and weak and a pushover. So you tell me what the master of manipulation will do to a dear old friend with a iron clad prenuptial agreement.” Humming the wedding march Brenda smirked. “Got you.”

“Walter has always been a fool he probably always will be. He stands in the way of anything for DGI well you and I both know how Lowell likes to play with the company, how many things did Steven or the others push through with a little incentive? We’ve been destined for greatness ever since Lowell took DGI where it needed to go.” Jackie said honestly she didn’t know how far in they could reel Walter then again parents did crazy things for their children. They played by the rules when it came to their children Walter would do the same if he was smart and if he knew what was good for him. “You’re already at the bottom Brenda have been since Steven died since we both know Hunter won’t run for mayor.”

“Hunter is a good man and how he and Max handle their marriage is between them besides from what I’ve heard Hunter has been getting close to Bliss you have met her right Lowell’s other daughter. You want to play the affair card Brenda our PR team would be all over it if they aren’t already, say what you want but Dani is an excellent spinner she so far has been able to bury it to bottom feeder gossip.” Jackie said looking at Brenda yes she despised what had become of Max and Hunter but looking back she had to wonder if either of them really were ready for marriage. She and Lowell had put pressure on Max and she knew Steven had pressured Hunter to either marry Max or move on. “Trust me when I tell you that prenup is iron clad the only way it isn’t is if you have proof of these allegations solid proof. You and I both know how rumors could go didn’t you after all leave town in between Anderson and Hunter something about trouble at home? Would you like to discuss those rumors?”

“Lady MacBeth.” Brenda said stirringly as she looked at Jackie. “Behind every man there is one good woman with a knife ready to carve you apart. You hide behind that mask of self importance but dear we all know what you are. You’re scared that Tess or any of his other women might swoop in and take your place. Enjoy your time at the top my dear because once you’re there you must know it’s a long way down.” She picked up her shawl as her jaw clenched. How dare she. How dare she bring up what was none of her business. Narrow her eyes she pointed her index finger square at Jackie.

“Remember secrets are a two way street and I may not have any on Lowell. I do have one on you Ms. Jackie one we both don’t want you to be exposed. Slowly your poison we seep into your own perfect world and DGI and you will implode and you better believe I’ll be there to watch that crash. The Titanic of explosions and I will watch it all implode. Don’t you love that word? It’s masterful when you think of what it means. Oneself destroying the thing they love the most. Lowell and your children will destroy everything and I’ll wait and I’ll be patient but I’ll snatch my crown back. You better believe I’ll get it all back.” Brenda sauntered off opening the door. As she looked back smiling. “Enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Well now that we know there is no love lost between us you can advise your son to free himself from my daughter unless you want him to keep stringing Max along or perhaps he’ll move onto Lowell’s other daughter? Which would you rather have Brenda my daughter or Tess’s that is the question at hand here.” Jackie said eying Brenda her lips forming a tight line Lowell had assured her it was only Tess she wanted to believe her husband they had come to an agreement. There were rumors but none of it had ever been proven. “I doubt I’ll be falling anytime soon but you keep telling yourself that Brenda.”

“Brenda if you had anything you would have used it by now.” Jackie said looking at Brenda and considering her threats. She had things in her past she wasn’t proud of call it her weaker moments after learning about Tess but she also had been very discrete about those secrets. Straightening her back she watched the door open to see Lauren on the other side as Brenda was on her way out. “I’ll enjoy it Brenda I quite like where I am sitting. I would like to think we will see each other later this evening at the charity dinner? You may want to watch out Lauren she’s on the prowl.”

Lauren looked around everything was in place no doubt they were bickering like two old hens. Folding her arms she looked at Brenda who looked as if she’d be shaken to the core. What had Jackie said to the other woman? A smile creased across her lips. “I just came to get pretty a little lipstick and check my hair. Trust me I know how to skin a cat in heat stay away from my husband Brenda. Oh and I’ll be the the new first lady of Atlas Falls who has to be seen at public events.”

Brenda laughed as she touched her upper chest. “Dear tell your husband to stay away from me.” Grabbing her shawl. “I’ll see you both at the fundraiser Jacqueline, you watch your mouth or I’ll reveal all. Trust me secrets you think are buried and dead have way of resurrecting.” Slinking out of the room Brenda stopped outside of the door and exhaled. It was no way. It was no way she knew the truth. Years later she still feared the truth. Gulping deeply she walked past a waiter. “Please a martini stirred with four olives. Bring it to my table no my suite I’m going to my suite.”

“Have a good day Brenda.” Jackie said watching her leave and then looking at Lauren she did have to wonder if Lauren knew about their children, if Walter did. Brenda couldn’t know her secret she had guarded it well made sure everything was in place with it, no one knew. Perhaps God himself knew but the likes of Brenda Kincaid knowing were slim, very slim. “What can I do for you Lauren? Is your table at the dinner not good enough? If so I can call Merci and move you to another?”

“I was thinking I did recommend her to Steven to plan his victory rally this year but with Steven gone would you like her number? You will have so much to worry about if Walter wins the late nights it will take with him at city hall. Brenda of course running to him now that Steven is gone, you will have to keep up appearances.” Jackie said putting some papers into the manilla folder on her desk and looking at Lauren one time she and Lauren got along long before everything with DGI happened. “Don’t make me your enemy Lauren convince Walter to play along he wins the mayoral seat, DGI gets the casino project.”

“Make you my enemy I was just coming to ask could you remove Jon Harrison from our table. I do think that him and Dani aren’t going to work. I also was going to come in here and ask a couple of questions. None of that mess was my business but your snide comments about who is the Queen. My dears neither of you will get that title because bitch you don’t want a piece of me. You don’t want to get on my bad side and I want you to tell your son to stop fucking my daughter.” Lauren growled ferociously as she looked at Jackie. Her nail pointed directly in Jackie’s face.

“I no longer need to bow to you nor will the Fraiser’s understand so if it benefits us we will do this casino. If it doesn’t then it just may cost you but this is unacceptable and tell Mr. Devonshire’s employees who frequent my Pub to not fucking gossip in my bar. I’m not having it so you squash that junkie from hurting my baby.” Lauren stepped forward in Jackie’s personal space. “Don’t make me dig in. Don’t make me hurt you because I’m not that weak and naive woman I was thirty years ago. Money doesn’t cloud my vision I see you as the poise snake who’ll always bite me. The shame you must and have to feel. The years you saw us struggling while Lowell built a fortune on ill gotten gains. Don’t you ever order me again. You don’t know what this would do to Walter so I’m coming to you woman to woman. If you don’t stop it I will.” Lauren was riled up by Brenda and Jackie’s biting words.

“You want me to remove Jon Harrison from your table after you requested he be seated there interesting. I thought you were all so close your family and the Harrisons.” Jackie said looking at the seating chart and seeing that she could place Jon at Cassie Montgomery’s table and she made the change in her head. She could pass the information on to Merci before the party started. She saw Lauren’s hand point in her face, so she knew about Jackson and Dani she looked at Lauren and folded her arms “My son is an adult as is your daughter. How long have you known or did you just find out from bottom feeder gossip?”

“I don’t want you to bow to me Lauren I just want you and Walter to co-operate on the casino deal I’ve never wanted to be the mayor’s wife. Your daughter is a good employee and she has saved us a ton of embarrassment this year as you well know with various scandals. What do you want me to do about it? Go to them and keep them locked in separate rooms?” Jackie said, yes she knew Walter may go off with the information then again if Walter really cared about his daughter they could use it to their advantage. Walter could be reeled in on the casino deal. The other option was Lowell was using the information to hurt Walter where it mattered to him pride. “You may of struggled Lauren but would you have really wanted all of this and the trouble it came with? As for Jackson and Dani, she’s been good for him do you know how it feels to not see him high all the time for me? I know you could never understand that given how perfect your children are but do you know what that is like for me? To see him genuinely happy for the first time ever.”

“I want you to figure it out or I will. I want you to keep my daughter away from your bottom feeding junkie of a son.” Lauren spat back with a fury. “My family is breaking for your little boy to achieve this peaceful state. I’m sorry you’ve had a rough time with Jackson that’s sad.” Mother to mother the things Jackie went through were heartbreaking. She however couldn’t stand back and let The Devonshire’s take her child. It wouldn’t happen. “I’m warning you, I’ll do whatever it takes to assure Jackson’s downfall if I have to shove coke up his nose myself. So warn him no matter fact I’ll do it because we both know your family isn’t to be trusted with anything.” Lauren stormed away knowing the casino deal would be a point of contention with Lowell and Jackie.

One thing was for certain though. Jackson Devonshire had never met anyone like her, and after this introduction tonight he wouldn’t be the same again. When she saw her phone going off she saw it was from the Gallsbury Penitentiary. “Yes I’ll accept the call. Hello sweetie almost over two more years.” Lauren walked off her voice trailed off through the halls. “You have to be strong you’re a Fraiser.”


David Rhodes held out the chair for Tamara as he took a seat with her on the outside patio waiting for Braden and Talia Rose to arrive. He and Braden had met in undergrad at college had been roommates for over four years before he went to medical school and Braden went to law school. Tamara was his friend’s ex and was also a nurse at the hospital. When Braden called him about a double date however he knew that he would have to tell him about Tamara and it shouldn’t matter. Braden had stated many times that he wasn’t in love with her. David waved to Lauren who had come out to greet her son and Talia for the lunch hour rush as he took a seat next to Tamara. He hadn’t been this happy or content with someone since Samantha and yes Tamara had a past but who didn’t? They had been seeing each other for a few months and he had been working his way up to telling her he was in love with her but he also didn’t want to rock his friendship with his friend and her ex either.

The date had gave him a break from the hospital. Work had been maddening and crazy the last few weeks and he was treating a huge patient that was weighing on him over the past few weeks. Test after test to make sure his diagnosis was on point and true, though he feared it was. He stood when Braden approached the table with Talia and shook his hand. Smiling at Lowell Devonshire’s smart and sassy assistant. He saw that Braden seemed alright with his date and let out a grin. Slapping Braden’s shoulder as they all took a seat on the patio in the spring downtown outside of Fraiser’s was a good place to have lunch it was central to all their jobs. It was also classy and casual at the same time, something Braden’s parents had worked over thirty years to make a possibility. The pub and distillery was a local hotspot in the spring and the summer.

“Called me as your wingman though this might be a little awkward you should have had your sister bring a hot date instead as a double. Or Zach he has been seeing that designer for over a year.” David said shaking Braden’s hand and smiling at Lauren when she approached with a menu. He saw Tamara and Talia feeling each other out and then smiled at Talia. “It is nice to finally meet you Ms. Rose.”

Braden had been thinking about the day before and Selina all morning he was distracted at work and it showed and counting down the hours to his date with Talia he realized he wasn’t ready to fly solo. Instead he had called David to ask him if he could bring a date and double it with him, he had thought about begging Dani or Zach but they’d see right through his charade. Shit he was a mess, yesterday had gutted him watching Selina walk away from him to go home to Chauncey. When all she had to do was stop the car get out and pick him, chose him, be with him. It sent him into a foul mood for the rest of the night where he stayed up at his house looking out across the lake to the Devonshire mansion wondering if she was thinking about him too. Eventually he went to bed for a restless night of sleep before starting his day. He had to let her go and that meant moving on with Talia, giving he and Talia a shot.

He had walked down the three blocks to pick up Talia from the courthouse, where he passed his sister on his way into DGI and could tell something was off with her. His sister’s eyes looked sad they missed that sparkle they had over the last few weeks, something was going on. He would ask her later or maybe find out if Talia knew anything his sister was a bad liar always had been her eyes always gave her away. He had smiled at Talia as they walked to the pub or to others known as Fraiser’s he figured it was casual and mutual ground somewhere that he felt comfortable. He had hugged his mother when they arrived and then saw David sitting with his ex and Dylan’s mother and had to do a double take. He was not expecting that and he couldn’t hate David for it, Tamara and he decided long ago they were co-parents and friends. Walking to the table he shook David’s hand as he helped Talia into her chair.

“Now why would I do that David when instead I get to see you for lunch? Besides Zach I hope is hard at work getting Ronan Madden off my streets and Dani is busy at work. Hi Tams.” Braden said grinning at David as he offered his mother a smile when she brought over the menus. Maybe after if they had time he could give Talia a tour of the distillery people liked that sort of thing. “Talia Dr. David Rhodes my college roommate and friend. Tamara Wright my ex and Dylan’s mother.

“Nice pumps.” Talia said looking at Tamara who was a stunning blonde. She had the brightest eyes she’d ever seen. It was something about her that made her feel intimidated. The posture in which she sat was so cold. It was something about the woman that she felt an instant dislike. “It’s very nice to meet you Tamara, I have to tell you Dylan is so amazing. I mean that kid is the absolutely a star with the Bieber hair and guitar skills.” She said smiling at Braden and David. “David and I have met at a benefit or something for DGI you know Lowell gives an amazing party.” This was such a awkward double date. She somehow felt in between Braden anyway. Rumor had it Selina was his true love and Dylan poor kid was a slip up. “So a nurse?”

“Is that a problem?” Tamara said slowly showing just how irritated she was. Partially because Braden always felt the urge to flaunt his women in her face. Something Tamara hadn’t gotten over at all was Braden. No matter what man came in her life she truly never got over him. Somethings were predestined and her love for Braden was undying. Dylan wanted them to be a family and she did also. “I’m a nurse and a damned good one. I work at my craft because I want to be the nurse practitioner. As for my son we aren’t here for that.” Tamara said with a nasty smile.

She looked over at David and held his hand. He was someone special to her but he was her almost first husband. God Braden was her heart at one point. As she slowly sipped her water wondering could she slip off for a second. “I’m sorry I’m sleepy and a little cranky. Pardon me.” Tamara got up and walked away as she pulled out a vial. As she slipped into the bathroom. She rushed to a stall and dumped a little white powder on her fist. Taking a sniff until the powder was gone. Wiping her nose she placed the vial inside her bag.

Talia knocked on the stall. “Hey can we talk? I don’t want to be like annoying. I’m like in love with that cutie Dylan and Braden is my friend and I like him but if this is all too much. Well I’ll be the first to understand that.”

She was startled at the knock on the stall. Did she see her? Opening the stall Tamara exited adjusting her box cut white jacket.  As she fluffed her hair as she looked at Talia. “Its fine it’s just awkward. I love Braden as a friend now.” Tamara said as she washed her hands. “Let’s go get a drink and laugh at me being a bitch.”

Talia smiled at the woman’s turn around. As she rushed to the door and opened it for Tamara. “Now about those shoes.”

“Renards.” Tamara said as they arrived back at the table she seductively kissed David.

Talia looked at Braden and smiled. “Girltalk.” She whispered.

Braden watched the girls head into the bathroom and wondered if this was a bad idea before turning his attention back to David. “How long have you and Tams been dating?”

David looked at his friend watching Tamara go to the bathroom and Talia following her he took a sip of his drink, enjoying the ice cold water. “A few months. I didn’t know how to tell you and you’ve made it clear you’ve both moved on. Listen if it’s breaking guy code I can.” Before he could finish Braden cut him off.

“No I’m happy for you both it’s been a long time since she has been happy and after everything I put her through with Selina I owe her. You are probably one of men that I can actually stand having around besides at least your not some cracked up dealer like the other losers she’s dated.” Braden said folding his arms on the table as the two of them let out a breath.

“Speaking of Selina who are you taking to the wedding? I know that has to be awkward for you.” David said apologetically as he looked at Braden he and Selina were engaged just over a year and a half ago.

Braden shook his head he hadn’t decided who he wanted to take to the wedding he got the invite it would be rude of her not to send one. He didn’t know if it was personal or political though, it was the wedding of the town. He saw the girls come back and shot David a look to say shut the hell up about Selina. He shot Talia a warm smile as they returned and Tamara seemed to be in better spirits.

“Girl talk huh? I was beginning to get worried.” Braden said shooting Talia a grin as he watched David touch Tamara’s shoulder. “Renards huh? You two going to make it a girls day then shopping?”

“Well I have to find something to Princess Selina wedding because David is actually a pillar of the community. I’m pretty sure she has no clue he’s taking me.” Tamara said as she folded her arms. “What I’ll never like her serious because she’s the ghost I can’t get rid of. I mean look at this? I have to attend her royal wedding.” Rolling her eyes she picked up a piece bread slapping it on her plate. “I just think it’s pretentious with millions of kids starving she chooses to have the wedding of the century but that’s the Princess mindset.”

Talia nodded knowing the shadow of Selina all too well. Who hadn’t heard about the grandest love affair in Atlas Falls. She definitely heard rumors about how far in love Braden and Selina truly were. It honestly was amazing to see and hear the legendary love affair. “I guess I agree, I heard of this epic love affair but I’ve always been the girl who defied odds. So I guess Queen Talia will win after all.”

“Honey you play the game anyway you want. If I were you and I was Lowell’s assistant I’d aim higher.” Tamara said with enough sugar in her voice that it almost masked the venom. Gazing at her shocked expression she clearly hit a nerve. Coyly looking at Braden and saying. “I mean this one still isn’t a happy DA right? Braden? Wasn’t that your dream? Illusion de grand juer or some shit like that. Either way Braden how does it feel to have your sister fucking a.” She looked at David who never saw this side of her. Tamara waved at the waiter to return as she looked down at the menu. “That crab looks divine doesn’t it Talia?”

Talia understood that she’d never be friends with this bitter bitch after today. Whatever truce they found she clearly wasn’t a truce but a trick. This bitch was good, moving the hair from her face she sipped her wine. “Girl you are some nasty piece of work aren’t you? You think I slept my way into being Lowell Devonshire’s assistant and secretary? No it’s because unlike you who is a nurse and gruels all day. I have never fucked my way into anything I have had. I’m damn good and I sacrifice so much for it.” Raising her hands at the waiter to leave the table. He walked away with swiftness.

Looking at Braden she’d had enough. She could tell already that David was uncomfortable. Well he better hold onto his trousers. “One thing I do know DGI stops if I’m not there. I’m needed what about you? It’s another nurse to snap up your position so fast bitch. Is that what you’re so sad about my dear? You feel Selina and now me are maybe prettier or smarter and we just can’t have Braden. Well David I’m sorry this woman clearly isn’t over her ex. You’re afraid of being replaced and nobody will care about you. But when I walk into a room in a fifty fucking thousand dollar pair of pumps they all know this bitch is paid. So don’t insult my constant bubbly personality into showing you just how bad I am.” Talia seethed back.

“And lunch is over because I can’t deal with this bitch.” Tamara said to David. Who did this little girl think she was talking too? She had every instinct to grab and choke the life out of her. Tamara however refrained from showing just how New York she truly was. She’d eat this cookie up for breakfast lunch and dinner.

“You damn right it is.” Talia said looking at Tamara shaking her head. “You are pathetic.” Looking at Braden. “Some of us aren’t threatened by the Ghost of Selina in the past and with those last years shoes. Don’t make me show you how much of a lady I am when I show you.” Talia bit her tongue knowing a DA was in the presence. Was that the game she was playing?

“What honey say it? So we’d all hear and I’d be defending myself when I kick your ass all over here.” Tamara leaned in. “Why didn’t you say it?” Looking at Braden seeing he hated to see her like this. Did he know she was high she picked up her water taking a sip water. “What? I didn’t do anything!” She yelled at both men. “Oh you just watch honey just when you think you so high up Braden’s ass you’ll never think she’ll come back. Honey you watch Selina will come storming through. She’s a beautiful princess so stunning that he’ll never let her go. He’ll never leave you for her. So at the end of the day you are tossed aside for Selina and when it happens I’ll be there to say I told you so.” Tamara hunched her shoulders. “What? It’s the truth.”

David stood from the table horrified and embarrassed for Braden, for Talia and for himself even if what Tamara was saying was the truth now was not the time for the place to do it. Damn it all to hell they were in Braden’s family establishment Lauren was shooting daggers at their table. Hearing his beeper go off he was thankfully saved by the grace of God. Gently grabbing Tamara’s shoulder he led her away from the table looking over his shoulder at Braden. “I’ll call you man we can have a guys night.” David said apologetically before looking at his date. “What the hell?”

Braden looked between them and shot daggers at his ex, this was his first date with Talia and he had hoped they could all be adults about everything. Yes Selina was on his mind after the day before it was expected but he certainly didn’t think that Talia slept her way up the company at DGI. He saw David pull her away from the table and looked over his shoulder at his mother to signal everything was alright Tamara was leaving. His parents warning about seeing her where she used to score came to mind was she using again. Rubbing his hand over his face he also thought about the comment she had made about Dani, his sister wasn’t that desperate.

“I’m so sorry you had to see that she’s never taken well to me dating other people. There is nothing with me and Selina anymore and she had no right to say what she said about you and DGI. You’ve worked really hard there and frankly not every woman in that company sleeps their way to the top.” Braden said taking his water off the table and taking a sip of it hoping the next part didn’t come off as him being a complete ass but if his sister was making a mistake he wanted to know about it. “What did she mean about Dani? You two are close at work. This was not how this was supposed to go we were supposed to enjoy lunch and then I was going to give you a tour of the distillery unless you want to leave. I can walk you back.”

“I’m fine let’s go on the tour because I don’t want that woman to ruin our date. I guess I’m happy that happened she’s going to be bitter that’s not my fault. Bitter at a lot, my little sister Avianca we call her Viv. She’s a brat but I love her because she’s my sister that woman isn’t any other woman’s sister. She’s bold and bawdy and rude and yikes you had such an amazing kid with her. Dylan must be all you.” Talia said playfully looking at him. As her eyes focused on Braden. “I don’t think that you are understanding what a date is it means we have to do something. To get to know each other better. That is over and I’m over it.”

Tamara looked at David as she stomped her heel biting her bottom lip. “I’m so done with that part of my life. I just hate him so much right now. You know have you ever had a regret? A regret so badly? I gave that son of bitch my life. I left New York! I left my home and I fought through addiction and all types of other things.” She looked at David grabbing his jacket. Her french manicured nails ran through his hair. “David he drives me crazy and he always brings these bitches around my son. He’s always trying to replace me in Dylan’s life and I hate him!” Tamara wiped her eyes as she stepped back. “God I’m a mess that poor girl, I just attacked her but it’s him. I hate him.”

Braden watched David get their coats at the doorway and then looked back at Talia noticing her avoid his question about his sister. He didn’t know if it was girl code that Talia was doing but an uneasy feeling settled in his stomach at the thought of his sister with Jackson. He had his suspicions at the funeral but had shut his mouth about them, he didn’t want his sister to end up like he and Tamara. He would never wish that on his sister getting sucked into an addicts life he forced a smile as he looked at Talia.

“Then I say let’s order I can give you a tour and see how it goes. I am looking forward to more dates since the first one was a damn near disaster.” Braden said looking at her and trying to lighten the mood as he shot his mother a look saying they needed to talk later.

“Let’s just get back to the hospital, this was a bad idea.” David said looking at Tamara as he got their coats he tried to offer her a small smile but for some reason it came out half heartedly. He had hoped, hope was the problem he supposed he wanted Braden to be okay with this they had been friends for years. Honestly he thought Talia held her ground really well in the situation and while he liked seeing Tamara he wasn’t sure what to make of her behavior. “It’s fine let’s just let it cool down for a few days.”

Taking her hand in his he offered Lauren a wave of his hand as he began to lead he and Tamara down the street towards the hospital. He knew regret first hand his affair with Ophelia being one that still haunted him but he was trying to be a better person and man. His mind began to wander a bit as they walked was Tamara just upset at Braden dating again and Selina getting married? Or was there more to her outburst like her addiction coming back to the surface? Shaking his head as they rounded the corner he hoped for everyone it was the first option.


Mason was still reeling from the conversation with Jamal the night before and Simon not returning his calls from his DGI meeting. Jamal was in trouble a lot of trouble and he honestly didn’t know which way to go in order to help him. Jamal wasn’t telling him the full story about what he was into but he had said it was bad and he was in deep. The thought sent a chill down his spine as he placed his key into the condo that he had been sharing with Scarlett for the past few months an engaged couple had to be living together if he wanted to sell his romance with her. Walking inside he looked around the empty condo perhaps she had went to see her mother, placing his briefcase down on the counter he looked at the fridge. His sister’s wedding announcement on display. If Jamal could hold off for until after the wedding things would be alright, if he could keep up the double life he was leading. Once the wedding was out of the way he could go to his father about his concerns.

He had a few more hours before he had to be in court with his next client and he could put in a few calls in case the Jamal situation went south but first he needed a shower. Walking into the bedroom at the end of the hallway he stopped when he saw the master open, Scarlett’s room with the photos plastered all over the wall. Stepping into the room he looked at the canvas of pictures on the wall, her on her knees while Zach shoved himself into her mouth. Them in her bed inside the condo, he wasn’t mad at them but he did get a chill through his spine what the fuck was going on? Had Scarlett hired someone to follow her on purpose in order to blackmail him into marrying her? Had Simon hired someone to follow her as payback for not wanting to come out to his father? His mind was reeling looking at the photos as he reached out and began to rip them off the wall who in the hell had gotten into the condo to hang them up anyway?

“Oh my God.” Scarlett said looking at Mason and then at the wall in front of her.

She had just gotten back from brunch with her mother where they toasted to having the ultimate weapon on her game to make sure Mason stayed and that Zach was still involved in her life. She had to make an appointment at the hospital though she was certain she was a few months along, which worked perfect not that she wasn’t sure who was the father of her baby it certainly wasn’t Mason and well Dante could hit the road. She had arrived back home to see Mason’s briefcase on the counter and made her way to the master bedroom when she saw her door open and then stared at the pictures on the wall intimate pictures of her affair with Zach lined the wall. From their incident at the houseboat a few weeks ago, at the club over various times together in her bed she stared at Mason in a rage had he had her followed? They had an agreement.

Walking to him she took the photos from his hand quickly going through them as she then ripped more off the wall they were everywhere. Had Simon and Mason did this to her? Went out of their way to humiliate her with the photos so that she looked like a fool. She felt her hand shake and Mason touch her shoulder and shrugged off his touch moving away from her. Had Dante decided to up his game? She still thought he was behind the dead ugly bird that was sent to her after all he could have easily found out about her and Zach. She hadn’t heard from Zach since she had given him the bird and she wanted answers.

“Are you having me followed? Did you and Simon send me the dead bird? This is sick Mason we had an arrangement one that seemed to be working for all of us.” Scarlett said fear setting into her body looking at the photos someone was watching her. Watching her every move, honestly she could see Dante or Simon doing it they were the only two with anything to gain with stalking her.

Mason looked at her horrified no this wasn’t the work of Simon was it? He knew Simon was mad at him at the moment but Simon only had the PI on hand for DGI business nothing more. Simon was surprisingly calm about that part of his life his private life, granted people knew he was out and proudly gay but what happened in the bedroom stayed that. He wondered at times if that was because of everything his boyfriend was doing or had to do for Lowell if he at times wanted his own life that private. He looked at Scarlett who was still shaking and shook his head no, it couldn’t possibly be Simon why would he do this to him right now?

“No I don’t think Simon would do this and we talked about the bird. It had to be someone playing  a prank Scarlett.” Mason said looking at her they had talked about the bird when he came home last night. He was sure it was a prank some guy or something Scarlett had maybe pissed off recently harmless until now. “Besides you and me who has a key to this place?”

“My mom has a key but that makes no sense why in the hell would my mother have someone following me?” Scarlett asked nearly wanting to laugh at the pictures someone was trying to scare her though she didn’t understand for what yet. Sure she had enemies who in this city didn’t but hers knew better than to play this type of a game with her. “Simon would have motive.”

“Would you lay off Simon he couldn’t of taken these he was in bed with me when you were sucking off Zach or do I need to show you the picture time stamp again. Simon knows what we have is important Scarlett for both of us. My father needs to believe I am straight you will get a fortune to add to your fortune when we get married, everyone wins.” Mason said looking at her and then walking out to the kitchen inspecting the rest of the condo for signs that someone had been inside and he didn’t find any.

“Everyone wins listen to yourself you really think once we’re married I’m just going to keep up our arrangement? What happens when your father wants a child Mason? Do tell when we are getting married since you’ve been putting it off everytime it comes up” Scarlett asked following him to the kitchen knowing what she already knew his answer would determine her next course of action the next phase of her plan. She waited a few moments for his answer before she heard the knock on the condo door. She sighed walking across the condo and looking through the hole what was Zach doing here? Hadn’t they said what they needed to yesterday she took a moment before opening the door a crack not letting Zach into the condo. “What do you want Zach I’m busy and like I said yesterday go find someone else to service your needs”

“I just came here to check on you.” He said looking at Scarlett as he folded his arms looking at Mason. Shaking his head he knew how upsetting it was for Scar for this all to be over. That guy always used her whatever this was made him sick. He never appreciated that Scarlett was so damn sweet. That she protected his pristine image when his ass normally was in the air. He had a nice ass but that wasn’t the point. “I’m so sorry about how this all and how I broke up with you. You don’t deserve to be like this. Hiding for him and being fake Mr. Delacroix your life is fake.” Zach said as he looked at her. “I know it’s not my place but Scar I want you happy not living like this.”

“Well as you can see my fiance and I are doing fine.” Scarlett said looking at Zach through the door and watching Mason size Zach up in the entryway. Of course Mason wasn’t the jealous type and what Zach was saying was partially true it was fake and sham but it was a sham that she and Mason both agreed too. She opened the door a bit placing her hand on her hip for a moment moving some hair from her face. “Though I am going to ask are you having your little police friends follow us? Dante perhaps he knows photographers.” She walked into the kitchen picking up a few of the photos before handing them to Zach her smoking gun at the moment. “Unless you still think he’s not the one behind anything now.”

Mason moved towards Scarlett seeing Zach enter her condo he knew he should be jealous but it wasn’t like he was in love with Scarlett like that. Yes he knew that Scarlett and Zach were lovers that was no secret between them but he was disturbed at the thought of someone close to Zach or Zach himself hurting Scarlett and intimidating her. Yes she was high maintenance and spoiled but she was doing a lot for him in order for him to hold onto her secret with his own family. She was fargoing a normal life and based on the ultimatum she had laid down before Zach came home he wondered now if it was something he could really commit to tell her that he was alright with. Giving up his side life with Simon to be what the perfect straight husband to Scarlett that thought alone sent a slight chill over him, giving up what he truly wanted for Scarlett.

“What brings you by officer? I think Scarlett has made it clear that she is more than fine unless like she says you’d like to explain these photos. I think we can all drop the formalities at this point Scarlett has already told you about our arrangement though I never expected to see you here in the flesh.” Mason said as he looked at Zach and then back at Scarlett if Zach was screwing over Scarlett he would do what he had to in order to make sure Zach paid.

“To be honest I just wanted to catch up with Scarlett to see how she was doing. I’m sorry Mason you didn’t deserve me to lashing out at you. I just kind of want to know something, are you alright? This doesn’t prove that it is Dante what this proves is someone is watching you Scarlett okay?” He folded his arms. “Who have you pissed off? No seriously since we are dropping formalities. Scarlett when Veronica died you transformed and we all know you became the it girl. So who have you pissed off so badly they have nothing better to do than freaking watch our sex life?” When he looked at Mason his heart sort of felt bad for the guy. He couldn’t be his real self.

“I see no proof that my boyfriend has done any of this and considering he’s been meeting with Jackie Devonshire for boutique in the country club. I doubt that Dante did this at all. Jackie is looking to open the boutique in a few weeks. It’s a big deal he has barely been around and sleeping in the studio. No he isn’t involved in this so Mason? Scarlett this involves us all and if this secret gets out all of our lives are ruined.” Zach said looking at them both.

“I’m fine. I see no proof he hasn’t. He knows photographers Zach don’t be so blind or stupid. For a cop all the signs point to him since I know Mason didn’t do it.” Scarlett said looking at Zach and crossing her arms at him. Why he was still defending Dante was beyond her the man had all the tools to take the photos and it wasn’t like he wasn’t jealous. She remembered back to the encounter a few weeks ago where he banged on the door frantic till Zach hid her and let him in. She ignored his comment about her sister. “You remember how frantic he was at your boathouse banging on the door like a madman is it really that inconceivable to you.”

“Scarlett has a point, Dante knows people with cameras hell if we wanted to go there so do you with your job.” Mason said looking between them and he didn’t know how he felt about Zach the man was handsome and they had went to school together. It wasn’t like he was attracted to Scarlett like that, he and Scarlett had an arrangement. He wasn’t a complete asshole either and the fact someone was stalking her worried him. “No this secret can’t get out that is why you’re going to assure me that you’re going to get someone to look at the photos to see where they have come from. Even if that means looking into your lover or boyfriend whatever you want to call Dante Gonzales.”

“Are you dense? God Scarlett you have it in your mind that Dante would if he found out. He’d be heartbroken but to go this far. He isn’t like that okay? Mason you know Simon right? You know him and you know how far he’d go for you. So let’s be real about this situation my boyfriend had this it would be all over social media. I would the biggest dirt bag and his best friend Val God she hates me. You think that she’d be all happy go lucky? They are facebooking each other and and tweet up a storm.  Look Scar I know you want to blame Dante but he loves me. He loves me so much that sometimes I wonder if I deserve it. I don’t you know. I’m cheating on him with you. He doesn’t know because if he did God, he’d flip out.”

Looking at Mason and Scarlett he folded his arms. “I just know he doesn’t know guys. Can we logically what purpose would Dante have? I’m sorry but Dante has nothing to do with. Do you hear me? Both of you know I love him so much you know it. I hurt him but he isn’t like us three. He isn’t heartless and he wouldn’t do this okay.” Zach said folding his arms. “I’m sorry if you all think low of him but he isn’t that type of guy.”

“I don’t know Dante Zach but I think it is time you leave.” Mason said looking at Zach and then over at Scarlett seeing how agitated she was becoming about everything. Nothing was worse than an agitated Scarlett when she was that she became more demanding. His eyes met hers and he spoke again. “I have to head into the office tonight before the dinner, you got this?”

“I have this. He’s right Zach you should probably go as you can see I’m fine as for the photos I’ll hire an investigator to look into them.” Scarlett said annoyed the lack of Zach taking anything she was saying into account about Dante infuriating her to no end. Of course she still hadn’t played her best card with him yet but she was waiting for the right moment. “Anything else? I do have to start getting ready for the fundraiser.”

“Have a goodnight and have a ball at the fundraiser.” He said huffing away as they walked out. “You know I’ll look into Dante but my boyfriend has a soul and I know this isn’t his way. He’d come up here and try kick my ass and yours but not this. This is twisted stuff Scar and I hope you can understand why I wouldn’t see  the love of my life goodnight.” Zach stopped wondering if Dante could truly be doing this? Would he be that calculating? Pulling out his phone he called Dante. “I don’t care what fashion emergency you are having get home baby.” Zach smiled as he heard Dante’s frantic voice.

“Ok calm down I’ll be home in a moment. I’ve been thinking about you all day and I can’t wait to well.” He laughed as Dante started to speak Spanish in his ear. Looking up he felt Scarlett eyes watching him. The look on her face sent a chill down his spine. “I just had to handle some business be home in a moment.” Zach jumped on his motorcycle and sped off into the darkness of night.


Jackie had arrived back at the mansion after running errands at the club and her bumping into both Brenda and Lauren there. She flipped through some paperwork on her lap about the country club pinching the bridge of her nose when she saw a note to call Kathleen. Looking out the window she saw Chauncey walking up the walk and she looked at the clock he was home early probably to get ready for the fundraiser or worse work was bothering him. He had been in a mood since the night before when she saw him stalking back to the house from the property line of the Westwoods. She still didn’t know much about the Westwoods only gossip here and there around town the wife was apparently a gorgeous blonde and they were European. Hearing the front door open she walked out and looked at her oldest son as he handed his coat off to the staff.

“You are home early.” Jackie said looking at him and folding her arms, she wished he would let her into his head to tell her what he was thinking. She could tell he was distracted whether that be with DGI or the wedding she wasn’t sure but it had to of been one of those options. She walked to him as he went into the kitchen. “Is everything alright?”

Chauncey had spent the morning at DGI in meetings and with his father and Hunter, the casino project was something that they needed to close on soon before the election. The last thing they needed was Walter blocking them and he had spent the morning deciding how he would get Greer away from her husband. He watched their show the night before and watching her scream while her husband has his way with her unnerved him and it also left him in agony when even the cold shower wouldn’t work. It wasn’t that he didn’t desire Selina, Selina was a gorgeous woman but he wanted Greer hadn’t wanted her like he had his other mistresses that slightly confused him. Perhaps Greer was his Tess? Walking into the kitchen he nearly rolled his eyes at his mother.

Ever since the night before he had been on edge with Greer and at work because his father was finally giving Jackson a shot at DGI. Looking over at his mother he could already feel that she was going to start nagging him about the wedding. He would have to put on a front for everyone of course if Greer agreed she could be his mistress. His father after all had done the same thing with Tess had he not and it made sense for he and Greer to keep it as that. Zerick Westwood from little birds in the business was a powerful man that liked to have Greer by his side surely they could all come to an agreement that they could agree on no sense in Zerick knowing or Selina knowing. Selina knew what marrying him would entail the last name that would come with it the power and Maddie would be happy to finally have Selina as her mother.

“The fundraiser is later tonight and I know Maddie has been wanting to ride after school so I decided I would take half a day at the office. Everything is fine mother, perhaps you should instead be asking Max that or Jackson.” Chauncey said looking at his mother and giving the staff a look to say leave the kitchen when they entered. Folding his hands over his chest he knew it would at least get his mother off his chest if he caused a bit of an uproar and pointed her in Max’s direction. “Philip Montgomery showed up at DGI today he and Hunter had quite the scuffle that was after Hunter informed father and I that he hired Mason to represent him in his divorce from Max. So while Selina and I are fine, perhaps your focus could be on instead Max and her crumbling marriage instead.”

Jackie was mortified when Chauncey revealed that Philip had shown up at DGI surely Max hadn’t gotten into bed that deep with him that they were carrying on at the company? She had wondered if Max was really ready to marry Hunter years ago when she, Lowell, Brenda and Steven kept putting pressure on them to get married. Perhaps that was part of the problem between school and work Max and Hunter had no time to really think about their decision to get married. She nearly wanted to hang her head in shame she had taught all her children better they all knew how badly Lowell’s affair with Tess haunted her and their marriage. Looking at her son she wondered if he was truly ready he and Selina had been so on and off over the years.

“I’ll speak to Max about it, clearly now is not the time for her and Hunter to make irrational decisions. Steven barely died, your father has the casino deal waiting to go through and with the wedding coming up.” Jackie said she was about to say more then the doorbell rang and Dominique entered the kitchen. “Yes Dominique?”

“A Mrs. Westwood is here to see Chauncey where would you like me to tell her to wait?” The maid asked looking at Jackie and then at Chauncey.

“You invited her here?” Jackie asked looking at her oldest son horrified what was he doing bringing a married woman to the mansion. A stranger at that.

“I invited her. I don’t see you objecting to Jackson bringing Dani Fraiser around he can have a friend yet I can’t?” Chauncey asked looking at his mother and then moved past her and into the foyer where he saw Greer waiting for him. That would drive the point home to his mother that if Jackson could bring Dani around the estate that had to be the same for his female friends. Though like he guessed Dani was more than a friend to his brother he only hoped Greer would be more to him as well. “Hello Greer I am so glad you could come.”

“Thank-you, Mr. Devonshire.” Greer said looking as Domonique took her leather jacket. “Chauncey.” Quickly stepping and kissing both of his cheeks. “Ms. Devonshire you look radiant and I have heard what wonderful things your country club does for the community and less fortunate. I would love to be on the board if there is seat. I just love to help people when they are in need.” Greer turned her eyes to Chauncey seductively then back at Jackie. “Chauncey invited me over so that he could help with my charity. He also has plans to introduce me to Selina.” Lying with a ease. “I need a good girlfriend in Atlas Falls.”

“So Jacki.” Reaching out to touch the other woman arm. “Tell me what do you do for the less fortunate? I had plenty of charitable organizations I belonged to. So I do have some questions about what we could possibly collaboratively do for Atlas Falls. Considering I’m not going anywhere now that Zerick and Lowell have a new business venture. Based solely on those facts I think my skills need to be put to use. I mean Selina my God she’s so wonderful in the office as a executive and a humanitarian all at once.” Greer flipped her hair looking around adjusting her midriff. “So it’s great that I ran into you since we seem to be in the same sort of circle.” In fact that was a lie. Jackie was beneath her in every which way. Greer knew what she was doing. She was setting up Chauncey to be slaughtered and she’d slice his sacrificial throat soon enough.

“Dear God Jackie this place is stunning it’s something out of a fairytale. However did you did you do it?” Greer said softly looking at the house.

“I donate to charity I throw fundraiser balls. I did see your husband and your name on the list for the fundraiser tonight. I am sure the hospital will be thankful for your donation along with all the children it will help.” Jackie said politely as she looked at Greer the woman reeked of trouble and she saw that glint in Chauncey’s eyes at her. This was not happening again and so soon before the wedding even if she had to drag the other woman out of town herself. She’d done it before to Chauncey’s other whores that nurse last year was the last. “We are very proud of Selina. My husband rarely makes mistakes in business.”

“Chauncey do remember we have to leave in a few hours and that Maddie will be home from school.” Jackie said waving her hand off at her son and ignoring Greer completely she didn’t approve and she wasn’t about to pretend otherwise.

“My mother is always like this before an event.” Chauncey said nearly wanting to roll his eyes at his mother’s attitude. Honestly it wasn’t like he was screwing Greer at least not yet. Her show the other night was a clear indication of what they both wanted. When the time was right he would act on that desire and the heat between them. “I am glad father hired your husband on it means we can see more of each other you put on quite the show the other night.”

“The house was built right after I was born my father hired an architect and everything. Despite what she says rumor is my mother was a beast about everything and it being perfect. Do tell have you ever ridden before something that is just as prideful as DGI is the horses.” Chauncey said his eyes passing over her body and he bit his bottom lip she was gorgeous. He saw Dominique leave back into the back half of the mansion and stepped forward to Greer leaning into her ear. “So did your husband manage to fulfil your needs or was it me you were thinking of while he was thrusting himself into you?”

Greer smiled at Chauncey as she walked to the bar immediately picking up the scotch which she found out was his favorite. Placing a few cubes in the glasses she took a piece seductive sucking on it. She then put the ice cube she sucked on in his glass. Pouring them both a drink she sat down on the couch. The intensity behind her green eyes sparked as she took a sip. “My husband pleases me just fine Mr. Devonshire maybe I should be questioning why you can’t stop watching me. Selina is a stunning woman but she doesn’t satisfy your urges does she? She doesn’t taste as sweet as I would.” Greer opened her legs so that he could see her cleanly shaven hotness.

“I’m forbidden aren’t I? Everything about me is forbidden, from the fact that I’m your new conquest to you’ve been wanting me since my first appearance in town.” Leaning back she stretched out across the couch. Her legs laid across the victorian sofa. “So tell me why did you really call me? Considering you mother smells an affair on us.” Greer seductively as she turned around as she looked at his eyes on her ass. “You want me badly don’t you Chauncey it’s too bad because I’m taken.” Biting her fingertip with her wedding ring on it.

“I like to watch you but then again we both know that. No harm no foul in a little peep show. You’re European surely you have heard of menage after all with all your forte surely you have both experimented. Selina doesn’t like to experiment and she of course isn’t open to the idea of us being in an open marriage at least not yet anyway.” Chauncey said watching her move to the wet bar and watching her as she filed the drink and place it to her lips. He watched her sit on the couch and spread her legs and he could feel the tug on his lips, Christ she was bare. “Should we find out Mrs. Westwood with my mother upstairs?”

“I called you here to get to know you better and if your husband is going to be working with my father I would like to know the woman behind the man. I also wanted to see you and now that I have seen that pretty shaved pussy well I know you may just be the real deal.” Chauncey said as he walked to the couch he let his fingers trail on her leg from her ankle to her hip. He looked over his shoulder to see no one was watching and slipped his hand under her skirt letting his finger slide over her folds. “I want to spread you open right here but it would be in bad taste. Are you really taken if you are so in love then why in the fuck are you so wet just by this?”

A low hiss released from Greer mouth as she leaned in letting her tongue trace his lips. Before she finally kissed him. What she was shocked with was Chauncey was so sexual. The energy between them was damn near electric. Taking his hand out of her she moaned sensually as she took his wet hand. Then made him suck his fingers sensually letting her taste seep into his mouth. She moved back as she shook her head. “Prince Chauncey you’re used to women giving into you aren’t you. The Nordic handsome rich boy that is used to getting whatever he wants. I know I’m sweet but Mr. Devonshire as I told you I’m forbidden fruit. I’m the apple in a tree that you will never get to eat.” Greer stood up as she switched away.

“Chauncey there is something between us but I just can’t leave my husband. What we have is epic and the love I feel for that man, is more than the lust that I have for you.” She turned around and Chauncey was right there. Gulping a little she placed her hand on his buckle. “You wouldn’t know what to do with me. I’m not like other women, menage trois are basic. I have so much more higher expectations for you. I fantasized what you would do for me.” Letting her hand slip down to his rising bulge. “If you’re looking for another mistress then you’ve called the wrong woman. I only do first place.”

Chauncey let her bring her fingers to his mouth and opened to let the sweetness linger over his mouth and his tongue while he licked her clean. She was quite the vixen and well if they weren’t at the mansion he’d show her exactly what it was that he wanted. He watched her move away from him and felt his lips tug into a grin, her playing hard to get was cute he’d venture to say it was turning him on even more. He leaned into her neck and placed a slight kiss on it hearing her moan.

“Women always give into me Greer haven’t you noticed the last name yet?” Chauncey said his voice low against her neck. His hands trailed up her waist to her midriff and just as he was about to say or do more he heard the front door open.

“Ms. Delacroix we weren’t expecting you home so soon!” Dominique’s voice called out filtering into the study.

Chauncey stepped back from Greer as he saw Selina make her way into the study and only prayed she didn’t see the bulge in his pants. He looked at Greer and then took a sip of his drink looking at his fiance in the doorway. “You’re home early? Greer Westwood my soon to be wife Selina Delacroix.”

Selina looked at the two glasses instantly and the stunning blonde before him and got angry. The first time she caught Chauncey cheating was two years ago on the edge of town at the Everest Ski Resort. She could still see his head buried between the woman thighs.The passion marks on her neck and breast. The room smelled of cheap perfume except now the bitch had the money to buy the good stuff. She’d tried to satisfy Chauncey’s insatiable appetite for sex and wildness in the bedroom. She just didn’t see why she had to turn into a freak to do that. Her body should have been enough and more and more she was starting to feel like she wasn’t. Two glasses on the table. When Hunter gave her the key to his room, after thirty minutes of arguing she found them. She was a pretty girl too. Jackie said she was a nurse or something but moved away after the scandal. No doubt Lowell and Chauncey’s doing to placate her stinging ego. Two glasses again. It was enough to drive her mad.

“I had some errands to run today and came home early to get ready for the benefit. Greer it’s lovely to meet you so tell me what are you doing with my fiancé?” Selina asked with an equal part sugar and vinegar.

Greer could tell that Chauncey was nervous and she loved it. The look in his eyes was fear and excitement all at once. It was thrilling as she slowly walked to her pocketbook. “I was coming to introduce myself to you Selina actually. You’ve been working with my husband and I heard you were stunning and I just had to see myself. Call me petty plus Chauncey was telling me about a charity you and Jackie run.”

“Speaking of Jackie where is my soon to be mother-in-law.” Selina said knowing she was about to explode. She needed to see Jackie and talk to her about this. Would he do this to her all over again?

“Upstairs she actually was telling me about the balls she throws. I think we need to do an event like that. All of us ladies put our collective minds together.” Greer said as she looked at Dominique who she nodded at signalling her visit was over.

“Zerick’s wife.” Selina said wondering if Chauncey would stoop that low. “He’s brilliant and very sharp I like him. As I said I have to get ready but please Greer you are sitting at our table. We can discuss ideas.”

“Yes umm I have this idea of a masquerade ball it would be epic.” Her phone went off, Greer pulled out the Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge in Gold. Greer leaned in and kissed Selina’s cheeks then did the same with Chauncey. “Tata I have go get ready plus my husband just texted me. I’ll see you both.” Dominique helped Greer in her jacket and she was off.

“Charming Chauncey really charming.” Selina said looking at him. “You love blondes and I can’t do this anymore so if want to fuck her do it now before I embarrass myself walking down the aisle.”

“We were just talking Selina don’t get your panties in a bunch.” Chauncey said watching Greer walk away and making sure that his eyes didn’t linger too long. After the last year the last thing the family needed was another scandal the wedding was going to be the event of the year. This was where they needed to be at in their lives if he ever wanted to oust his father at DGI he could prove he could settle down and start a family have that image that his father had. “I’m marrying you. Unless you’ve changed your mind. The driver did let it slip that he saw you running away from Braden, again.”

Selina froze as his words hit her once again. It was as if they were doing a tit for tat dance and it had to end. Would he cheat every time Braden and she were in the same orbit. They kissed and she pushed herself away from the man she truly loved for Maddie. Her lips still were burning from that kiss. Her body melted when she thought about how Braden touched her. Walking up the stairs to their room. “I’m nervous that I’m about to make the biggest mistake in my life and you throw my ex in my face? No you don’t get to stand there and be the judgmental guy. I ran because I was running away from what felt natural for me. What feels right and this doesn’t feel right.” She screamed at him. “That I’m never going to be enough for you. That doesn’t feel good.” Selina screamed at him as she flopped in the chair of her vanity.

“I am so lost when was the last time you actually were speechless by me. Just me? Why I am I not enough? Do I not love Maddie? Do I not give you the attention and love you need tell me. Don’t do this to me again. It’s killing my love for you.” Selina said as she lowered her head on the vanity tears slipped down her face.

Chauncey followed her out of the foyer and up the stairs to their bedroom glaring at the staff to get lost. He had every right to bring up Braden she was willing to marry Braden not so long ago before she came back to him. Call it his ego but he hated Braden, hated that Braden could score someone like Selina. He’d hated Braden since high school and frankly he was always a fan of his father putting Walter in his place. He saw Selina move to the vanity and watched her sit down while he twirled his drink in his hand and looked at her.

“You were going to marry him Selina what was it? I remember you coming to me after he called it off something about his heavy family drama. We made love that night and you told me you wanted to be with me and Maddie. I thought that included being my wife. I proposed because that is what you told me you wanted me and Maddie. We’re a package deal.” Chauncey said looking her in the eyes he loved Selina his desire just didn’t burn for her like it used to or like it should. He knew however their marriage was needed it would propel his legacy at DGI they would be a wonderful power couple. “We both need this Selina, your fathers have put so much into this wedding. My mother too. You love Maddie and I want to do right by her. There is nothing between me and Mrs. Westwood.”

The lie came out easily as Chauncey looked at her but it was a lie he would tell her if it got her down the aisle. Invitations had been sent out it was too late to call the entire thing off not to mention the anger it would cause his parents. Taking a sip of his drink he walked to her and kissed her softly on the lips pulling back. “I’m going to shower and start getting ready for the fundraiser you should do the same.” Walking to the bathroom he shut the door behind him and only hoped he could stay away from Greer long enough to at least wait till after the wedding.

Selina stood up as she walked to their closet she looked at all the couture and fashion. The beautiful things in the closet and stepped back. Was that all she was another beautiful object for Chauncey to have? Grabbing a shimmering silver dress she dropped it and walked out of the closet. Selina grabbed her bag and rushed out of the room. “Tell Chauncey I’ll meet him at the event. I need air.” It was around five thirty and she knew she had a hour. A hour to find Mason and find out what her legal options to Maddie were. She wasn’t afraid of walking away. One thing she was a sucker for was detail. Unfortunately for Chauncey she could always tell when he lied. He would never look her in the eyes. Now she knew it was time to get legal rights to Maddie.


Miranda walked through the door of the cafe in her jeans and a light summer top seeing her brother hungover at one of the booths. Her mother had called her that morning to come talk to Jon about what was going on. She was still in a bit of shock at the events at the station the day before and she knew Jon was going through a lot. She waved to her sister in law Tegan as she tucked some hair behind her ears, Jon looked like shit. Like he had stayed up all night and she could tell he had been drinking the night before she was still mad at him fighting with Devin at the station. She also felt responsible for arranging the failed date between Dani and her brother now. After Skye and after Lex she just thought they would work, that they would fit when now that obviously wasn’t the case.

“Hey.” Miranda said sliding in across from Jon and watching him stare at his cup of coffee on the table she smiled at her mother when she approached with a cup for herself and fresh scones.

“You two need to talk I don’t like my babies fighting.” June said looking between her two children as she moved on to the next table.

Gripping her mug in her hands she tapped her fingers against the ceramic wondering how she was supposed to start. What was she supposed to say sorry my best friend is a bitch and has been sending mixed signals for a year? Hey you need to lay off Devin I’m seeing him and since KC it’s been good for me? Skye was never worth your time or your effort? Taking a sip of the liquid she finally broke the silence between them.

“I’m sorry about setting you and Dani up. I swear Jon I had no idea she was seeing him I would never do that to you after what you went through with him and Skye. She didn’t say anything to me about it.” Miranda said honestly not trying to pick a side with her brother and her best friend now she hated that Jon looked like a fool. She was trying really hard to not be mad at Dani at this point, her thoughts drifted to his fight with Devin and she looked at him. “What happened with you and Devin? The full story not some bullshit you gave at the station. You and Devin used to be friends before you enlisted.”

Jon looked down he’d been disappointed a lot recently but while it may seem strange his heart was bursting. Fear ached in him about what his sister was doing. When she was catching perverts with her youthful looks it was alright. Now Matt’s death was haunting them all. Ronan was involved in KC’s death that was known, but to go undercover. To hide on the timebomb that was about to explode. When all was said what Quinn? What about his beloved niece that their mom already was taking care of while Miranda worked because of the career they chose? He lowered his head thinking about Skye. The girl was troubled but so was he at that time. Skye destroyed his chances with Dani in many ways. No this was his fault but Dani wasn’t to blame. He blamed himself for waiting so long.

“Look I don’t want to talk about my love life. My love life is stupidly out of whack and I did this to myself Skye and now Dani. It’s not their fault I couldn’t get it right and Skye I’m really uncomfortable with even talking to you about her. You hated her and she wasn’t all bad you know. Let’s just skip the relationship talk and go into what I’m thinking. You are a mom and Quinn deserves so much more than a dead mom and dad. I’m worried okay that’s first. Secondly what the hell have I told you about jumping into my battles? I’m grown and the older brother Miranda. I messed up and said something stupid as hell. I will never cross that line I was edgy because of Dani. I said something stupid and I don’t think that is your fault at all. I know Devin and I know he didn’t deserve the jab. I was being a bitch and it was uncalled for but beyond all of that you know what I’m afraid of? Losing you to this vendetta you seem to be having with Ronan.” Jon stated to his sister.

“I don’t think you did anything wrong listen I love Dani she’s my best friend but she shouldn’t of flirted with you on and off after Lex. I should have made sure she wasn’t seeing Jackson before wrangling her into a date with you. Skye was a skank period.” Miranda said looking at her brother in the booth and folding her arms, she never liked Skye never would. Despite Jon being severely screwed up when he came home he didn’t deserve what that bitch did to him screwing him and Jackson at the same time. “Let’s not talk about Skye then since I doubt you’d like what I have to say.”

“Quinn is fine you know why I have to do this, I have to do this for KC to bring Ronan to justice for what he did to KC. Quinn doesn’t have a father because of him, I don’t have my husband anymore because of him. Zach keeps a close eye on the club he would never let me get hurt and you know I can handle myself I passed the exam just as well as you did and my self defense courses.” Miranda said yes she thought about working undercover and the threat to Quinn all the time but she also knew it had to be done. Someone had to do it and she didn’t ever want Quinn to think that she ever would let Ronan skate for killing her daddy. Quinn had barely been two when KC was killed and now as a happy kindergartner. She knew KC would be proud. “No Devin didn’t I don’t want you to lose more friends over it. Nothing is going to happen to my why is it that everyone in the damn family thinks that just because I have tits I can’t do what any of you could?”

“Tits? Is that what you think this is about? Our family is sexist that’s what you think? My niece is six or have forgotten? Six years old and needs you she lost her daddy and I’m worried. You don’t feel it? You don’t feel that this city hell our country is in the middle of a tumultuous time. I just lost so much in Iraq, and Miranda I just don’t want to lose you.” Slowly touching her hand he looked at his sister. “I missed my family so much. I thought about you all and it was the only thing that kept me alive. I used think about my niece and my little sister finally having a family. I was proud and I don’t want to keep you broken. I don’t want to keep you hurting and thinking that I’m not proud of the woman you’ve become. Miranda you kick ass but Quinn is important to me and you and mom. I’m just worried about my little sister because I can’t lose anymore.” Jon said biting his lip.

“You know Devin thinks this comes easy. That it was me just being a war hero and I got the detective position. I saw things that can’t be erased so I’m awkward. I don’t know how to say what I’m thinking. I have the perfect words but what I’m saying is you are my sister and fuck Dani right now. All I care about is that my sister doesn’t end up dead like her husband and my friend KC. Okay that’s all I’m saying Miranda and I know you’re kickass but I need you to be on top of your game because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that Ronan has power we can’t even see.” Jon wiped his eyes as he looked at sister. “I love you so much and I just can’t lose my little sister. I’d go off the deep end if I didn’t have my sibling you know?”

“No I don’t think any of you are sexist or anything but you all act like I didn’t go through the ropes that I didn’t earn this when I did. I am not stupid hell if was any other woman on the force you wouldn’t be riding them this much and you and I both know it.” Miranda said looking at her brother and looking over at their mother behind the counter. She wanted to scream all her life she was just the girl of the family. “I have to do this and you may not understand why but I do.”

“I’m not going anywhere be nicer to Devin alright he’s a good friend and it’s awkward as hell since he and Zach hang out so much. I’m on my game I’m playing Yasmine just like we need to hell I even had to pass up the Pub for that nasty Vertigo place but I did it. You know I’m smart, I keep my wits about me.” Miranda said looking down at their hands and giving her brothers a firm squeeze. She looked at him and then took a sip of her coffee. “You still going to the fundraiser dinner then? Who knows maybe you’ll meet some mysterious and hot stranger there.”

“I may have already met her.” June and Richard faces were happy as they watched them. “I met someone at a bar honestly and she was unique it’s too bad I always go after taken women. Skye, Dani, and now never mind she isn’t even on the list. I’m going to try and be a non-awkward guy but you know me in big crowds I’ve never been able to do them.” Jon never liked to speak publicly nor did he like to be around a slew of people. He just was the type of guy he was satisfied with a small group of friends and his family.

“Look Miranda no matter how much training you get, how many times I see you take down a criminal, or even shoot someone. I will not and I mean will not stop worrying about you’re my little sister. My little sister who took care of me after I came back a wreck in Iraq. You will never get judgment from me. I know you kick ass but I will never stop being afraid that anything could happen. You are in the line of direct danger but betraying Ronan so public.” Jon said looking at her.

“Well she’d be a fool to not see how amazing my older brother is. Mom and Dad got that table with Walter and Lauren if you don’t want on their bad side I’d say at least show up and say hello, those tickets are hella pricey.” Miranda said looking at her phone getting her text reminder she had her shift at the club tonight so she wouldn’t be at the fundraiser. Getting up from the booths he waved to her mother and then leaned down to hug her brother. “You know I will go to you if I get in too deep or if I need you. I love you Jon. I gotta head in now though.”

Miranda began walking out of the bakery and then looked over her shoulder flashing her brother a smile. “Do not load Quinn up on ice cream tonight if you ditch the fundraiser to babysit. I can see the wheels turning big brother and if you do you can take her for a sleepover.” Turning back she heard her mother laugh as she walked out the door.

“My niece deserve sugar dammit and we have that in common.” He laughed looking at her. He walked to his parents and wrapped his arms around them. “You know our little girl is all grown up and we have to deal with that.” Richard playfully slapped Jon on the head as he looked at his dad. “Hey Dad I can take you but seriously I might have to borrow a tux for tonight. If I have to go and play nice with everyone then I might as well go in style.”


Jackie approached the table where her youngest son was waiting and smiled at the few afternoon patrons. Business was good today and she had wanted the lunch date with her youngest for a few weeks to check in with him. It was nice having Chauncey and Jackson at the mansion but she knew Rory prided himself on being independent. She also wanted to grill him and make sure he wasn’t going to keep visiting that God awful club, perhaps a girl at the fundraiser could catch his eye instead or someone at the college. Anything other than him associating with strippers would do. She approached Rory with a smile why wasn’t he dating already? Brooke was back in town.

“How did class go?” Jackie asked taking a seat next to Rory as he helped pull out her chair always a gentleman. Jackson may of been her favorite but Rory held a special place as well, he seemed to get the best of both her and Lowell her romantic side and Lowell’s brains. “I am surprised you asked for a second ticket for tonight.”

Rory smiled at his mother after spending the morning with Yasmine at campus he felt his head was less cluttered and adding a fundraiser ticket at the last minute was intentional. When she had told him she was struggling with her math class he saw that as a good way to spend more time with her. He hadn’t met a lot of women that intrigued him like Yasmine did that morning other than Diamond at the club. He could only imagine his mother’s shock if he were to bring a stripper as his date to such a public event. Plus he knew most of his siblings would be there instead maybe not Jackson but the others all had their tickets to the event still.

“Class was fine I’ll just be glad when it is over. You know me mom I’m bad at these public things I would rather be home at the computer my ripped jeans doing code. You will be pleased to know that I am actually taking a date to the dinner. She made a deal with me an hour at the dinner and then I get her the rest of the time for a study session” Rory said taking a sip of his water as he smiled as Brooke approached the table. He and Brooke had been friends for years and it was nice to see her again he had been so busy he hadn’t really checked on her since Steven died. “You’ll like her mother I promise.”

“You met someone how delightful maybe you will stop visiting Philip’s club so often. You will have to introduce us this evening your father and I have been wondering when you would bring a girl home, we had hoped perhaps Val. Nevermind.” Jackie said looking at her son and then smiled as Brooke walked into the room, she never wished ill will on Brenda’s children. Brenda was often a beast but for the most part Hunter and Brooke were not she rose and hugged Brooke. She motioned for the staff to pull up an extra place sitting scowling when Brenda walked in as well. “ Join us my dear, I insist. Rory was just telling me about the new girl he met though honestly you are home now. I’m sorry terribly rude of me. How are you doing?”

“Jackie our families are linked up quite nicely already with Max and Hunter let’s not have Rory and I steal their thunder.” Brooke teased hating how her mother never seemed to get along with Jackie. The truth was Jackie was the type of mom kids craved. Her mother paraded her out and she was her favorite no doubt. Jackie somehow showed unconditional love. It was wonderful to watch her interact with her children. Versus what she was used to Hunter and mother constantly fighting, the secret feud between daddy and Anderson, and her resentment of Brenda at times. As she sat down she punched Rory shoulder.

“You know sometimes I wonder about you. I introduced him to the perfect girl my best friend from boarding school? Valentina? Val or has someone forgotten about a globe trotting beauty? You know the legs to die for and dazzling sex appeal.” She picked up a piece of fruit. “I thought you two were adorable jmo.” Looking at Jackie she smiled at her. “But we have to let our boy grow up no doubt huh?” Since they were little Rory and Brooke had an undeniable friendship. When she was twelve he was the boy she was going to marry now he’s the overprotective best friend. Jamal, Rory, and Brooke the three musketeers. “So Jamal I hear is making amazing beats Rory, actually I heard one in the club in Ibiza and to see him getting so much underground love. Well it’s good to see one of our dreams coming true since I’m not married to a prince or becoming a princess my dreams are over.”

“Yes we are linked up. You could steal their thunder you traveled all over Europe you’re young and beautiful and you know how pleased I would be if you and Rory were to ever. I too was so sad to hear about Rory and Val, you seemed so happy with her.” Jackie said smiling at Brooke and then looking at her son. She had met Val briefly in Spain when she and Rory were doing a trip and she and Lowell were also there on business.she thought Val was charming and smart, quite lovely. One of the staff came to the table and she nodded at them as she looked at Brooke. “Seems someone has sent you a gift. Your mother is here as well.” Jackie said glancing over Brooke’s shoulder as the staff brought forward the long box to the table.

Rory watched his mother and Brooke catch up with a slight grin on his face he and Brooke had been friends since they were born. Well really him, Brooke and Jamal they were inseparable as children and even for a few years in college. He wasn’t sure why he and Val didn’t work out it wasn’t like their relationship lacked chemistry or anything like that. They were just in two different places emotionally he wanted something more and she still wanted to be this carefree spirit. They had a lovely relationship and they had ended on good terms.

“Val and I wanted different things and you know what that is alright we still talk and keep in touch in fact I’ve met someone. Her name is Yasmine and she’ll be attending the dinner with me tonight.” Rory said taking a drink of his water and then raising an eyebrow as the package was delivered to their table. “Secret admirer?”

Brooke touched the black velvet box it was huge and beautiful. “I don’t do secret admirers they better tell me who they are themselves.” A small envelope was with the box. She touched the letter she could tell it someone spent money even on the envelope. She unwrapped the ribbon and pulled off the top part of the box. Looking inside it was champagne pink gown with antique lace and hand embroidered crystals on it. She pulled it out and smiled at Jackie. “This is vintage Chanel.” Quickly opening the card she smiled at Ronan’s words. He couldn’t wait to see her inside of the dress.

“He’s enthralling guys. It’s something I never had considering I was engaged almost six months ago. Please both of you don’t pretend that you don’t know about Atticus and I. We were epic and we burned epicly. I guess I deserved to be cheated on because honestly I never felt like this. Ronan is smart and cultured and he isn’t a boy.” Brooke said accidentally slipping and saying his name. “Rian his name is Rian.” Knowing she was caught she looked at them both. “You hate my mom but love please both of you keep this silent. I know he’s older but he’s literally amazing. So what it’s gossip around town about him it’s not proven.” Brooke said nonchalantly as she sipped her glass of water with lemon.

“Ronan?” Rory asked looking at his mother and then back at Brooke did one of his best friends even know what she was getting into with Ronan Madden? Word was that he was in with the mob, he was a murderer that cop that died a few years ago and they couldn’t pin it on him. He looked at his mother concerned and then over at Brooke. He saw Brenda approaching the table and knew how she would be. “That is quite the gift it must have cost him a fortune. Ronan is into some shady shit.”

Jackie could feel her face pale as she looked at Brooke Kincaid talking about Ronan Madden, her heart dropped. Even Lowell so far had the good sense to stay away from Ronan Madden when it came to the business that was not something they needed. She looked at Brooke with concern Ronan lived a dangerous life his ties to the community were less than reputable. She had heard of Brooke engagement to Atticus Kavanagh and had been shocked to learn it was called off as well. She nearly wanted to let Brenda know about Brooke and Ronan but instead picked up her own water and took a sip.

“You would be smart to listen to Rory on this Brooke. Don’t rush on the feelings you have now he is dangerous.” Jackie said waving to Brenda as she joined their table. She looked at Rory to keep his mouth shut about Ronan for now. “Hello Brenda we were just admiring Brooke’s lovely gift she received for tonight it is stunning.”

“Brooke dear is this another gift from Atticus?” Brenda asked sitting at the table as if she and Jackie hadn’t went to war a few hours earlier. “He’s been sending gifts since Steven’s unfortunate perishing.” It was clearly vintage Chanel from no doubt Paris it was expensive and Brooke always had a fetish for couture.

“God mom you make dad sound like a dog getting hit by car.” Brooke said placing the lid back on her box. “I missed you Rory.” Leaning in she kissed his cheek. “You are the best friend ever and I have to get myself ready for tonight so, I’ll be leaving now.” She leaned over and kissed Jackie cheek. “Please say nothing. See you all soon oh Jackie, Anderson is coming home for the will reading. I’m requesting a family dinner so I will need the private upstairs room.”

“Brooke please must you leave every time I enter a room? I have done nothing to you.” Brenda said looking at Rory for help.

“Fine I’ll stay but this isn’t from Atticus it’s from someone else. Whatever you’ve done to try to get us together again. Well that’s not happening.” Brooke said definitely moving her hair behind her ear.

Jackie remained silent on the matter of Brooke and Ronan she didn’t want to deal with a Brenda outburst as she smiled at Brooke. “Just let me know the date and the room is yours.”

“Mom as much fun as this has been or will be it’s getting late and if I am going to look presentable for your dinner then I have to get home and get ready. Not to mention make sure to prep my date before you railroad her.” Rory said standing up and kissing his mother’s cheek before he nodded to Brooke he could escort her out. He had never warmed to Brenda and over the years knew enough to know Brooke needed an out. “Let me walk you out. It was lovely to see you Mrs. Kincaid.” Rory gently guided Brooke away from the table he leaned into her ear. “You so owe me.”

Jackie watched their children beginning to leave and waved off the staff her son was right she did need to get home and start getting ready. Honestly it was a tight squeeze to have a later afternoon lunch before the fundraiser but she was grateful for the time she did get with Rory. He had been in his own condo as of late and the only children at the mansion were Jackson and Chauncey.

“Don’t fret Brenda I am sure it is a gift from Atticus. Brooke is smart.” Jackie said hoping to ease Brenda’s fears even though she suspected like any mother she could tell when her own child was lying to her.

“Please if she’s anything like me she’s going for the absolute wrong guy.” Brenda stood as she looked at Jackie. “Remember what I said dear if anything and I mean anything ever get’s out. I’ll just have to maybe remind everyone what you did after Tess revealed she had an affair with Lowell.”

“I’ll see you at the fundraiser Brenda you have a lovely day.” Jackie said as she steeled herself as she rose from the table and collected her coat from the staff. Slipping it on she walked out of the country club Brenda’s words fresh in her mind as she did so. No one knew and no one ever would.


Hunter looked around the resort as he walked in his mind had been thinking about Bliss most of the day when instead he knew it should have been on Max given what happened. He often had wondered over the last few weeks if this is how his father felt with his mistresses but for some reason he felt Bliss was more than that. His father may of been a cad and a bastard but he never to his knowledge really cared for his mistresses. Looking across the lobby he saw Bliss talking to the staff about her bags and belongings and transferring them to the Devonshire estate, she was leaving? On her own accord or on her father’s? He didn’t know why the thought upset him so much but it did it meant that she would be going far away from him, it meant that she would have to deal with Max constantly. He knew she had been at DGI most of the day, she even told him that in a few hours she would be going to the fundraiser dinner and he smiled as he approached her.

“So how was your first day? Are you leaving?” Hunter asked smiling at her and watching as the staff disappeared for a moment as he shot them a look. One of the things Simon had asked was that he and Bliss be a a bit more discrete and Mason had agreed. At least for a few more weeks Mason said he would have something soon in the prenup he didn’t care as long he could be free of Max and they could both move on. “I thought you wanted to stay here at the resort why the sudden change of heart?”

“Well I’ve always wanted to see inside of that house. I always wanted to be apart of that family so when I got a chance to live there.” She paused smiling at him holding her purse. “Plus I think it would be best if we didn’t get caught always under each other.” Bliss said slowly tapping her leather clutch in her hand. “You don’t deserve to be in my war with Max, or my war with the Devonshire’s. Work was fine but what sucked is knowing I’m no we’re ruining your chances of divorcing that skank bitch. The way she played you two was perfect. Sometimes I feel like I could learn from my older sister. She knows how to wrap a man around her finger.” Slowly stepping forward as she looked around.

“Now’s not the time for whatever we are doing.” Slowly touching his stubble. “You need a shave Mr. Kincaid. Do you know how jealous I am.” Bliss said slowly walking around him. “That she got to touch you first. She knows what it’s like to kiss.” Pausing letting the s sound roll off her tongue. Breathly she spoke again. “You in the morning, how you feel when you’re aroused, and hell how you fuck and make love.” Walking back in front of him. “I just hate that I get to you second and didn’t get to show you what a real woman would do to you.” Leaning in taking a deep sniff of his cologne. She exhaled so erotically it was almost like she was climaxing. “So tell me Hunter what are we to do?”

“I’m glad work went well I don’t want you to have problems there. Max is going to give you hell there you know that not to mention Jackie. You told me how Jackie treated you the first time she met you, do you really want to deal with that?” Hunter said looking at her why did he feel so empty knowing she was going to be living at the estate. He figured it was because of how much time they had been spending together at the resort something that he had been looking forward too after long days at City Hall. “I just don’t want you to have to deal with Max if you don’t have too and living there you will have too.”

“I don’t want Max anymore Bliss I haven’t for a while and well her little game with Philip today showed me that.” Hunter said looking at her as she touched his face and he felt his breathing increased he was attracted to her more than he should be and she was right. They were walking on dangerous ground until he knew from Mason he could divorce Max cleanly. Looking at her he took a breath. “I think we let this play out. I’ve wanted you for weeks Bliss and you and both know Max isn’t at home waiting for me. Do you know long it has been since I’ve been in bed with a woman? I’d break all the rules with you.”

Bliss couldn’t help it. They were face to face and although he was taller they were eye to eye. Her pulse was racing and feeling excited all over. She’d have to face her sister sooner or later. Now was the time to dethrone Max as her father’s favorite daughter. Nobody was around and she couldn’t help it. She leaned in and kissed him he earned it after his day. She knew Dani was right he was wasting being with Max. Why not have him? She deserved someone like Hunter and if her big sister couldn’t see that he was perfect, she would.

“I don’t want to talk about Max. Can we go into my room I’m keeping it.” She took his hand and slowly walked to the elevator. She saw no one who would open their mouths. Bliss stepped on the elevator and instantly started to go to town. She pushed Hunter against the wall of the elevator as they kissed again. “I don’t know where this is going and quite frankly I don’t give a damn I want you.”

Hunter watched her as she weighed his words honestly they were true he hadn’t been with a woman in a long time months. Max was always at Philip’s club or condo, he had regulated himself to the guest room before he moved out. They weren’t happy and he couldn’t remember the last time they genuinely were maybe college?  He looked at Bliss as she leaned in and kissed him and his hands went to her face pulling her to him, finally after weeks getting to taste her. By the time she pulled back he was breathless and he let her take his hand and lead him to the elevator.

“I want you.” Hunter said looking at her when the door closed as he pushed her against the wall and let his tongue collide with hers again. His hands went to her waist as he gently kissed her all the weeks he had thought about kissing her were nothing like it felt to actually do that. He pulled back from her biting her lip as he looked at the security camera looking at them. “We can’t do this here or in your room Bliss. Too many cameras and if Max found out or security did you know she would make your life hell. I don’t want that for you, for her to destroy your life.”

“I’m a big girl Hunter and I know what I want. I don’t want to be sitting here pretending that what I feel for you isn’t real. Nor am I a girl who will wait in the winds. So you have a choice have wait and risk losing me. I just don’t want to be the girl who wrecks your world oh my God.” Bliss said as she stepped back from Hunter. “This is over Hunter listen to me you don’t need money but you deserve to walk away with something. She betrayed you and you need a chance for a fresh start. You need a chance to find out who Hunter is without a woman. I just don’t want to be a rebound so this is smart.” Bliss said slightly feeling rejected and she wrapped her arms around herself.

“My life is fine but what about yours? When will you have a real moment to Hunter to divulge all the things you want to do to me and all the things you desire. You know what I have to get to the mansion or I’m going to be late to this fundraiser it’s the first event all the Devonshire’s are supposed to be at. See you there with your wife.” Bliss said honestly ashamed she put herself out there to be turned down.

“I know that I never felt this way about Max Bliss. You’re constantly in my head no matter what I do to try and get you out of it. I keep you at arm’s length I wonder if I am doing the right thing. I pull you to me I know she will wreck your life you don’t know her like I do. You don’t know how she can be, the other girls she bullied in high school and college.” Hunter said quietly watching her retreat he was not an asshole he knew that much, should he bed Bliss she would be more than just some revenge hookup. Unlike his best friend who went through and normally treated women like trash he didn’t have that in him. “I want you to be that Bliss trust me this is not about not wanting that for you.”

Hunter stepped towards her again when he saw her wrap her arms around herself saw the hesitation on her face, that fear of him not wanting her. To prove his point he pushed her gently back against the elevator wall and ran his hands over her dress stopping at her hips and pressed his bulge against her. He kissed her neck softly as he made a trail up towards her face and looking into her eyes he slowly stroked her cheek. “Does this look like I don’t want you? Dance with me at the fundraiser, I don’t even know if Max will show. When we do get together Bliss it won’t be where some camera can catch us and then go report our dirty laundry to someone that I know would want to hurt you. That is why this can’t happen here. Not because I don’t want you”

“Stop kissing me.” Bliss said trying as hard as she could pull away. She was becoming dizzy with lust and passion. The men prior to Hunter all made a fool of her. One loved to get her in private and shame her. He hated her sexuality and how men stared. It would lead to all sort of bruises and eventually running away from him was the best choice. This didn’t feel like anything she’d ever explored. She tried to tell herself that this was some sort of phase. The feelings that he gave her she couldn’t let go. Honestly it wasn’t as if she was some piece of fine china. Max didn’t intimidate her and yes she had a record of being a sadist but she wasn’t an angel either. Hell living with Tess for over twenty something years taught her how to be heartless. Her very own mother never gave a damn it was one nanny after another. She was the Queen Bee in every school she attended and wouldn’t let Max take what she wants.

“Whatever we are doing, I refuse to continue to let Max dictate my life. She isn’t doing that with you. Philip came to her job and embarrassed you. I can’t care about what Max will do when all I want to do is be with you. I’m not in love but I know what I want and this is it. You are what I want Hunter and I have to go.” Bliss pulled away. “This isn’t healthy for either of us. Look this isn’t good for me so please just let me go. I know we have a chemistry but I can’t wait on anyone you do that. I’m going to find someone who can adore me now.” Bliss said with defiance in her voice. “She controls you not me.”

“No. I want you to understand Bliss I want you.”  Hunter said refusing to let her go until she told him to a second time. He nodded his head as the elevator chimed and the doors opened, He saw a few staff members in the hallway and he shot them a glare to leave. He looked at Bliss and put his hands in his pockets perhaps she was right they were walking a fine line. “I guess I’ll see you at the fundraiser then.”

Hunter stepped out of the elevator and began walking down the hall in some ways what she was saying was the truth Max did control him. He also knew he had to protect Bliss from Max, the stories hardly did Max justice. Max ran people out of town if she wanted she hurted people where it hurt the most and he didn’t want that for Bliss no matter what he felt for her. He didn’t know if it was love he felt for Bliss, all he knew was it was entirely different than what he felt for Max. Looking back he knew he wasn’t in love with Max. Walking to the end of the hall he opened the door to the stairs realizing the long walk down would be enough to get his head back on straight. Or at least decide just how long he was going to wait when it came to Bliss.

As the elevator door closed Hunter looked at her one last time. “Damn it!” She screamed stomping her foot. What was she doing? Why was she feeling like this for a guy she just met? Holding her sapphire locket in her hand. She became enraged with Max. That bitch got to hold onto Hunter? Tonight was going make sure Max understood that she was here for Hunter.

Pulling out her cellphone she smirked lightly, she dialed a number. “Is this Dante, hi I need your skimpiest dress in your collection. I need to look like a movie star tonight. I’ll see you very soon.” A slick smile appeared on Bliss face. Hunter would be hers soon enough. “You just wait Mr. Kincaid soon you won’t be able to stay away.”


Cassie finished up the last of the inventory files on her computer glancing at the clock Francis was going to look out for the club tonight. She had her ticket to the fundraiser her mind was still on the night before and yes she did leave and go home with Thor but a kiss from a drunken cop was still on her brain. Jon intrigued her, his white knight complex the need to save someone he was the exact opposite of what she would think about. Thor was not like that Thor took what he wanted, was aggressive ran his own empire with an iron fist. The threat was real to her current boyfriend and lover enough so that he had guards posted outside their condo that he was taking risks going to Ronan’s places of business. So far the blood shed had been avoided inside the club it seemed he and Ronan had an agreement that the club was off limits and she wondered how long that would last.

Was she making the right choices with Thor? They had after all jumped right back into bed with each other right around the time her brother started his affair with Max. She had assumed that she would be married by now perhaps not with a child or anything like that but she had assumed her life would be a bit more stable. That she wouldn’t be delegated to just being the boss’ girl as her guards liked to point out. Then again it seemed she and Thor could never move past the fucking and lovers stage to something more. She looked at the clock she had her hair appointment and then needed to pick up her cocktail dress for the fundraiser when she saw Philip enter her office.

“Everything alright big brother? Do tell have you sent the tart home yet?” Cassie asked knowing it would get under Philip’s skin and not caring. She hated what Max was forcing her brother to do keeping up this sordid affair between them and well she hated her. She had hated Max since high school and the feud had only grown when she discovered that her brother was the one Max was having an affair with. “Oh don’t look at me like that. You could do much better than a spoiled and entitled princess who is using you as her side piece of entertainment while holding onto that prestigious husband of hers for the public.”

Philip scowl at Cassie hadn’t went away from the moment she found out about Max, she’d been pissed. God Max was his and he didn’t like sharing anything. Ever since he was a child all he had was Cassie. His father was cold and distant but he knew that he loved him. It was just he wasn’t the type of man to raise kids. Folding his arms when his sister focused on his life more than her own it meant something was generally wrong with her. As he leaned back he folded his arms he looked at Cassie. “Cassandra what is this about because Max. Just because you and her are marked for some girl secret war. That doesn’t mean you get to involve me.”

He lowered his head as he exhaled. “Max is something special to me. I just can’t stop thinking about her. Honestly she has captured me and for the first time the player is played. Is this how all those girls felt when I left them behind. Man I feel like a ass for falling for her, out of all the girls after Veronica. Ronnie was my heart and when she died on that boat well I just found something to feel that void. Hell you wouldn’t know anything about it you and Thor are perfect. Speaking of a that sonofabitch if he get’s you hurt in his war with Ronan. You let him know I’ll kill him with my bare hands. You’re all I got sis, and I’m worried about this war.”

“Max is special to you?” Cassie said looking up at her brother and she couldn’t help it but let the laugh out. Max was special to him of all people Max Devonshire? Bitch extraordinaire was special to him? Max was simply put a cheating bitch that was using her poor brother as her playtoy cause she was bored at home with her husband. “Please she’s using and stringing you along like a cat would with a string and you’re the cat that is chasing. You and I both know she cares way too much about Hunter’s bloodline to ever leave him.”

“Thor knows where I stand on his relationship with his brother and I don’t have to give you an explanation on that. Thor would never do anything to jeopardize me you know that, the man adores me.” Cassie said her eyes meeting with her brothers honestly she loved Philip but she was a big girl, she knew what Thor did for a living he had never tried to hide it from her. They were very transparent that way and it wasn’t like she had to worry about Thor having some double life on her. “I’ll pass the message on to him he isn’t going to hurt me though Philip. You should be more worried about Hunter hurting you, you are the one banging his tart of a wife.”

“Shut up.” He threw a napkin at her. “Tart? If I recall you did mess with a very married man when you were younger. Look Cassie you and Max are cut from the same cloth. I don’t think she’s better than you and I don’t believe you have room to judge Cassandra. What good would giving up do? Huh? I would be miserable and no matter what you say or think Max is what I want. Have I ever judged you choice in guys? So don’t sit here and judge me. She will leave Hunter you watch and we she does I’ll be standing right there. To get my woman.”

When he heard her security with Thor he felt good. “Thor and you are good together always have been. I’m glad to see you happy Cassie but let’s just say this. If Ronan kills him don’t come running to me. I warned you Cassie and I see nothing but blood shed on this. Let the big guy know if he’s playing with the big boys he’ll need to fight harder to dethrone Ronan. Let’s just say Ronan isn’t playing and since he is my partner I won’t be saying anymore.”

“Yes I made a mistake when I was younger the key word there when I was younger. I still think she is a tart. She’s not better than me.” Cassie said looking at her brother as he threw the napkin at her. She didn’t get what her brother saw in Max at all, Max Devonshire was no Veronica Nichols in her opinion at least she knew that Veronica loved her brother. Max was being Max and using Philip that is what the Devonshire’s did they used people. “I won’t quit my day job waiting on her divorce and neither should you.”

“Thor and I are Thor and I we go through cycles you know that right now it is a good cycle.” Cassie said closing the computer file and beginning to lock up for the night. She had to get to the fundraiser dinner in a few hours and she wanted to be ready on time. Thor may or may not come he hadn’t decided he was still upset about his mother’s death a few months ago not to mention things had been weird since her kiss with Jon Harrison the night before. A kiss she found mind wandering too throughout the day. “I’ll tell him you’re still coming tonight right?”

“I’ll be there.” He said looking at Cassie. “I’m at your table correct? So I’ll be ready for the party.” Philip stood up and hugged his sister. “I’m worried about you Cass it sucks that you’re in the middle of this mob war but you’re my sister and I’m going to protect you. Alright I know you are in a upswing with Thor but just be careful Cassie. Ronan is a good man he won’t hurt you but accidents in this world happens and I don’t want my sis to be an accident.”

“Good we should get going should there be problems tonight here I am sure the staff can handle it.” Cassie said one of things she did every year was the children’s hospital her mother had been on the board for years before she died. When their father moved on to his next flavor in his life and left DGI her mother held onto that at least. The Montgomery name was something it was well known for as charitable because of their mother. “You are at my table who knows maybe your mind will get off Max and meet someone who actually deserves you.”

Putting on her coat she walked around the desk and playfully hit her brother’s shoulder they may have  argued about Max and Thor but at the end of the day they were all they had. Yes Philip still spoke to their father and kept in touch but after his abandonment they were all each other had left. Walking to the door in her office she opened it for them both as she locked it as they stepped out. She knew Philip was worried about her but Thor over the years was very careful with her safety.

“I won’t be Philip you know that Thor would never let anything happen to me.” Cassie said reassuring Philip one more time as she saw a text on her phone informing her of the table arrangement change. Her mouth went into a thin line as she saw that Merci and Jackie had moved Jon Harrison to their table. She saw Philip’s curious stare. “He was drunk he kissed me it is not a big deal.”


Ronan looked out the window of his office going over the last of the legitimate paperwork that he needed before heading back to the estate. He had every intention of going to the fundraising dinner that evening he had to scope out a few things. Walter Fraiser would be there the soon to be mayor and he wanted to see how Lowell interacted with him. His conversation with Philip was still fresh on his mind, yes the drug trade was profitable but he also knew it wasn’t the only way to make money. The casino deal needed to happen, Steven had been all for it looking to close the vote after the election. He had read the papers Walter was opposed to the plan citing conservation and that the city didn’t need another massive project on it’s hands. He needed the casino to traffic in the money and eventually the drugs.

He saw his office door open and motioned Jamal to step inside Money and Ivan had told him the disturbing story about Jamal and Rachel Morrison a few weeks ago. Rachel was the police commissioner’s daughter and if she knew about the business, well he would hate to have to make Gideon a target. The police were already asking too many questions and had been sniffing around his various companies and associates since Steven’s death. The last thing that he needed was Gideon’s daughter seeing something that she wasn’t supposed too. Jamal had also shown something in him when Benny had been let go, a slight fear perhaps and he wanted Jamal to prove his loyalty.

“You can leave us Kendrick.” Ronan said looking up from his papers at his right hand man. He watched Kendrick leave the office hesitantly, Kendrick had taken a liking to Jamal to training Jamal. It was easier this way if Jamal was a rat and if he wasn’t loyal he didn’t need Kendrick anymore upset at him, he was sure he was upset about Yasmine. “Do you know why I had Kendrick call you in?”

“Nah I have no clue. I’m making the most money in the operation beside Yasmine so I’m confused on why I’m here.” Jamal was worried Money and Ivan had said something about Rachel. “Aw hell naw is this about shorty the blonde who was lost in the hood? Ivan said something about she the police chief daughter. Yo I’m not snitching or nothing she was cute and hell wouldn’t you like a in at the police department. Give her the wood and she’ll be talking to us? Tell us all the info bro plus she was lost didn’t know way around Scottswood. I just showed her where to go”

He wondered if he’d just ruined his chances. If he’d destroyed everything he was building a connection to the street. Just by flirting with Rachel and helping her out. “Man my bad boss man I should have said something but woman come at me all the time. I didn’t think anything of it.” Jamal gulped as him shooting Benny in the head flashed in his mind. “I not in trouble or nothing right.”

“Money and Ivan mentioned that you and Rachel Morrison did spend a few hours together. I don’t need cop trouble in my organization Jamal that is the last thing that I need. I’m watched constantly the crews are watched and I have been very lucky to catch snitches or those that want to talk before they do or soon before they do.” Ronan said eyeing Jamal behind his desk weighing his option was he telling the truth? Honestly if he would have said something to Rachel surely Gideon would have been onto him more and no he didn’t need and in at the police station. Not yet anyway, Steven had made sure certain things were in play there but Jamal didn’t need to know that. “You’re smart Jamal that was why I had Kendrick approach you when you began hanging out with him on the street. I can tell you want this.”

Ronan rose from his desk as he looked at the younger man he had to make sure there was no fear in the boy especially when he sent him on a run with the crew. Jamal had flinched when he killed Benny a few weeks ago. He walked around Jamal and then looked at his watch he had a few more hours till the fundraiser. “Do you want to know about the last time that I let a cop get close to my organization? It’s quite the story I can tell you that it didn’t have a happy ending. With the feds on us the last thing I need is Gideon on our bad side as well. Hearing his daughter would be mixed up with you would in fact do that.”

“No more Rachel I got you. I was just going to hit it and leave.” Jamal said knowing that Ronan understood the power of good pussy. Jamal had to make sure Ronan knew he wasn’t snitching or no shit like that. “I want this a lot man. I never denied that I knew people prior to your offer. Rachel always has been on my nuts man since we met. All I’m saying is I don’t want you to think I’m on some other shit. I’m loyal to you and thankful considering you gave me my start. I’ll never forget that Ronan.”

As he leaned back in the chair he saw Ronan looking into his eyes. He looked directly back at him. One thing he wasn’t was a snitch. He never snitched on anyone and wasn’t about to start now. So what he was hiding something else it was small compared to what Ronan was thinking. “I appreciate being able to pay off my college loans man. I appreciate being able to have money and who we hurting? Nobody because they want to do drugs and they want the high. So I’m good man we done? I got class in thirty and traffic is a bitch this time of day.”

“I know you want it, you’re not like Money or Ivan you have actual education behind you while they have the street smarts. My father always said you needed a mix of both. Their information worried me, Kendrick assured me it was nothing and I now know that to be the truth.” Ronan said as he watched Jamal take a seat he trusted Kendrick they were like brothers. If Kendrick could vouch for Jamal he knew he was good, but having two of his men come to him behind Kendrick was odd. He shook the thought off none of them would think of mutiny or a move right now not with the war with Thor going on. “I appreciate that. As for Rachel if you have known her from before you started here that is fine just be careful what you say around her. She is a gorgeous girl.”

“College is expensive we have a good operation going, you supply what I need to the college campus and you and Yasmine seem to get along well here at the club. Yasmine deals to the people in this town who like to hide behind fancy cars and picket fences.” Ronan said taking a seat on the edge of his desk as he looked at Jamal. He knew this would be good news for Jamal now that he knew he could trust him it was time, now that he had quelled the rumors with Money and Ivan. Verified that Kendrick was right and Jamal would have a solid explanation for his actions Jamal was ready. “You are going to go on a run with Money and Kendrick in a few days. You are ready now, Kendrick says you know your way around the gun he gave you now. I want you as an eye inside how the runs work, it is time for you to start moving up.”

Jamal heart sank all he needed was street validation. Now he was moving up the ranks, he just wanted to be a soldier. As he folded his arms and nodded happily or at least showing a fake happiness. “I’m ready.” He lied not knowing if he was really wasn’t up for killing anyone. It wasn’t what he wanted at all. “I not saying I deserve this because Ivan and Money should be raising in the ranks. Haven’t those two been soldiers for you way longer than me. Look they already running to you with their jealous pussy shit I’m not trying to get them to hate me. The motherfuckers deserve this shot more than me.”

Jamal was playing noble warrior when he was starting to fear what Ronan and Kendrick needed him to do. As he lowered his head he looked up at Ronan. “I want this but I want it on my time. When I can get respect because if I do it now I’ll have no respect.” He said trying to calm his boss illusion or what he needed and wanted. “I mean I don’t want this to be my life forever.”

“I know you are Kendrick said you are ready.” Ronan said moving from the desk as he watched Jamal and he gathered his coat. He wanted to go home shower and get ready for the fundraiser dinner, Atlas Falls would accept him as one of the elite he did make a donation after all. Plus he was dying to see Brooke dressed in his gift something for the first time in years he was excited about. His life had been on a standstill in many ways till her but something about making her happy seemed to erase his life with the organization. “Kendrick wants you I trust his judgement. Do indulge in something tonight Jamal Kendrick will give you the details on when the run will be. You’re in you should know that now, now that you are in you don’t leave.”

Ronan saw his office door open and looked at Kendrick as he entered. “Is the car ready?”

“Yeah boss it’s out front.” Kendrick said looking at Jamal and then over at Ronan. He knew Jamal wasn’t a snitch Money and Ivan were whack. They were both jealous that Jamal had the ambition they lacked.

“Very well. Remember our talk Jamal you are in you don’t get out now.” Ronan said looking at his newest understudy with Kendrick before walking out the door to his waiting car.

How would he get himself at that fundraiser and deal with whatever Kendrick needed. “Thank you for that opportunity man.” Jamal would honestly figure out something. He pulled Kendrick into a brotherly hug and then looked at Ronan. “I won’t let you down.”


“That was utterly amazing.” Dante rolled over and nuzzled his head in the crevice of his shoulder. When he looked into Zach’s eyes his heart skipped a beat. Sometimes he went crazy with work and neglecting his boyfriend. As he took Zach’s hand he kissed it softly. “I missed us you know, I hate we can’t go for another round we have to get up and get dressed. In our best tux introducing me as a couturier.” He said smiling at his boyfriend. “You know Jackie is wearing one of my creations tonight.”

Zach looked over to his partner knowing what he had to do. “You know the supreme court finally ruled in gay marriage. I apologize that I’ve been so distant.” Slowly stroking his shoulder letting his hand run over Dante muscles. “Do you mind if I ask you something? My entire life I’ve been in my feelings about my sexuality. I was weak when I was younger. To be honest I don’t know how stupid I can be. I do things to prove I’m a man, but my love for you makes me a real man. My father hated that I was gay but he loved and supported me being a bisexual eventually. My older brother told me he was never as proud as that day and my sister. Well Lucy always knew something was different. I love you and nothing would make me happier.” Zach reached over and pulled out a small box. “If you say that you’ll spend forever with me.”

Dante sat up as Zach glistening body got out of the bed and got on one knee. Tears started to burn in his eyes as he looked at his boyfriend. Lowering his head he started to cry. So much had happened between them. Now all of the sudden here they were. A few months ago he swore Zach was cheating on him but now he knew. Zach was working up nerve to do this. “I do.”

“I don’t think it’s the right time to say that handsome.” He jumped up and grabbed Dante out of the bed. “You’re going to be a amazing husband.” Placing the diamond wedding band around his finger.

“Dante Fraiser it sounds horrible but I love it because I’ll be forever with you.” Dante said kissing him. “Oh my God my brother, my mama, and Val! I need to call them all oh my God we need Merci! She plans the most beautiful events and she reasonable. I know we are on a budget but when I get that first check from Jackie. We can plan a big event I want my wedding to be a extravaganza.”

“Your wedding I did just propose didn’t I?” He took Dante hand a lead him into the shower. Turning on the water he tested it with his foot to see it getting warm.

“Yeah but you don’t care about details, I do so we will be getting Merci. Oh God I didn’t think about this. Zach we both want to be parents. Instead of using that money on some stupid wedding. What if we found a surrogate and had our kid?”

Zach stopped as he helped Dante into the shower. “Are you serious? You know I want a kid more than anything. Dylan shows me I want a son every day and since uncle Richard and auntie June adopted Chloe. Man I know that this is what I want. Oh my God are you serious?” Stepping into the shower.

“We can call an agency tomorrow because I think me raising a baby with you. Showing we love the same. It’s no different and that we can be parents, husbands, and men is amazing.”

“I love you.” He leaned in and kissed Dante. Scooping him up by his legs he felt himself aroused again. “We are going to be late.”

“Oh papi.” Dante said gripping Zach by his neck. He exhaled passionately as he felt the pressure of Zach entering him. “Yo puto amo Zach eres mi alma papi. Te quiero mucho. Tú eres mi alma gemela bebé más profundo!” He moaned out as Zach plowed inside of him with so much power.

“Whatever you said I love you too.” Zach said knowing that he made the right choice to cut off Scarlett. Not many people were lucky enough to meet their soulmates now. “God I love you.”

“I love you to and this is the start of our future.” Dante said passionately rotating his hips on Zach’s hardness.

For once Zach knew that he would be staying faithful and for once he was happy. After years of internalized hatred he found happiness with a man. This was the start of his new life. The start of everything good happening to him. The start of his future with his soon to be husband.


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