1×06 “Earned It”

Episode 1xo6 “Earned It”
Written by: Chirs Coleman/Kelly Zollo
Warning: Episode contains language, sexual situations and content
Guest starring: Megan Fellows (Patricia Nichols), Richard Greer (Gideon Morrison), Kat Graham (Merci DuBois)

“No I want the roses on every other table with the silver and the gold has the gardenias is anyone listening?” Merci said stomping her feet. Holding a clipboard she checked off a few things. Wearing a metallic Herve Leger dress and a pair of imported high heels. When she looked around it was stunning.

“You did it again Merci Dubois this place looks like a tropical oasis.”

When she turned around she saw Jackson standing in the doorway. When she was younger she was crazy about Jackson. Hell what young girl wasn’t? However growing up she moved on and they were friends. Let’s just say Jackson lived a life that Merci refused to deal with he was far too dangerous. Drugs and booze plus that girl Cat got killed with Jackson that night. People hadn’t forgotten at all. Moving her bang out of her face she smiled at Jackson as he approached her.

“So I heard you’re dating one girl why couldn’t I or Skye you know my best friend get that out of you?” She leaned in and kissed his cheek. “I missed you Jack it’s been quite boring without you.” Merci’s assistant Kyra came with two glasses of champagne. “This business is my new baby aren’t you proud of me? Oh you look so good all cleaned up. Skye would be really happy you look good and healthy.”

Jackson looked at Merci and remembered the wild nights with Merci, Skye, and Neil. Her eyes still sparkled as he walked up to her. He pulled her into a bear hug as he kissed her cheek. “Merci have you talked to Skye? How is she?” It was good and bad seeing Merci again. How he remembered that time of his life was scary. Skye was a drug as much as the coke. She was addictive and exotic. As he sat down at a table he picked up Jon Harrison’s card. Then scoffed at the thoughts of how he stole Skye from Jon.

As he looked at Merci. “I am so happy to see you.” Tapping his foot against the floor he looked at her. “So a grand party planner I heard that you’re doing good. I’m healthy and happy Merci you look good too. All that partying hasn’t slowed you down at all. Still trying to take on the world. Look that night that Neil passed out and you, me, and Skye did that thing. It was a mistake Merci I just wanted to tell you how special you are to me.”

“Skye is fine and I’m grateful to be here it was your pics in the newspapers with me that pushed this job to me. I have a bigger future now and I just wanted to say thank-you.” Merci leaned in and kissed him passionately on the lips. “If you ever get bored with Ms. Fraiser call me.” Turning around she saw guests outside and Dani scowling at her. “I think Dani isn’t too happy.”

Dani had smiled when Jackson texted her to meet him at the party when they kept missing each other at work. His confession inside her office still making her smile, he wanted her wanted what was happening between them too. She had went home changed excited about tonight. Now however watching Merci lean over and kiss Jackson set off a slew of bad memories for her, along with the jealousy that she felt radiating from her. She was an idiot and a fool here she was dressed in an overpriced light blue cocktail dress thinking he had actually meant what he said inside her office. Yet here he was letting another woman kiss him. She glared at him as she pushed the tears back before she turned and walked out of the ballroom, hearing his footsteps behind her. She turned towards one of the smaller rooms so she could deal with the humiliation alone and then she felt Jackson grab her wrist and he turned her around to look at him.

“If I’m not pleasing you enough and you’re bored already. I’d rather you just tell me now. Instead of making me look like a damn idiot. You asked me today why you over Jon Harrison.” Dani said her voice cracking as she looked at him fighting back tears. She couldn’t do that again give herself over to someone, while they fucked around on her. “Because when I was out to dinner with him I felt guilty for it because I wanted it to be you. When he kissed me and touched me my skin crawled because he wasn’t you. You make me want to feel something real when we are together, it feels right. Because silly me I thought you wanted this too.”

“I do.” Jackson said with a forceful grab pulling their bodies closer together. “I’m sorry Dani, that wasn’t what it looks like.” He said watching Merci clearly win. Dani hadn’t learned the game yet and how these girls operated. Merci no doubt had heard the rumors about them. Just by her expression in the corner he could tell Merci was loving this. She loved to stir up shit and see where all the pieces landed. “So you’re a quitter huh? You just give up the moment things get hard I’m so very glad to know that about you already. Dani that’s Merci and she wouldn’t touch me if you paid her. She’s one of my ex’s best friends so I suggest you calm down and stop making a fool out of us both in front of her.”

Jackson exhaled cooly as he touched her face. “Now lets go get a drink and maybe I can explain what just happened.” His voice gruff and commanding. “Merci Dubois what can I say about Merci. She’s crazy and self absorbed but sweet and fiercely protective over her friends. Mostly because she doesn’t have family and Skye is family. In many ways Merci’s family is Skye and vice versa. I’m not excusing what she did but I understand and I apologize for even making you think that.” Jackson lowered his head. “Do you think I want to tie her up? Do you think I want to explore the darkest and most depraved sexual desires with her? No Dani I only want to show that side to you. So please don’t ever question that because right now I need someone who has faith in me. Not someone who will quit on me.”

Dani leaned into him when he pulled her to him placing her hands on his chest feeling herself calm down the tears that threatened to fall left, he wasn’t Lex and deep down she knew that. “What was I supposed to think Jackson? Last night happened which was confusing then I walked in and she was kissing you, you were just sitting there.” She said quietly when he finished with his apology. His apology meant more than he probably ever knew. Not even Lex had ever apologized to her for Maggie, no he insisted it was her fault that he even cheated and told her she should accept it. She leaned into his touch when he stroked her face. “I’m sorry for doubting you. Jackson please don’t think I don’t want this. I do more than you know.”

“So do it. I want to look at you when you make me come undone for you. I want to give myself to you, be with you like that.” Dani said her mouth close to his as she looked into his eyes he still hadn’t tied her. She wanted that to give herself to him in bed to be his in all the ways he wanted. She looked at him and the door that was open in the hallway. Leaning in she kissed him gently on his lips and then moved her mouth to his earlobe tugging on it pressing her hips into him. “Take me and tie me up you have no idea how badly I want that. How I thought about it today while you were in my office thought of you tying me up and fucking me, making me yours in that way. Please I want you to show me.”

“I will when you demand it.” He said touching her hand lightly stroking her skin never breaking eye contact as he led her back to the bar and sat down. “We’ll have a vodka and soda.” Waving off the bartender Jackson looked at her and smirked playfully. “It is good that I have worked you up in this way. What’s better is that I don’t think you haven’t earned it. You haven’t demanded it. I want you to want me so badly to please you in the most painful ways just back to pleasure.” Jackson said leaning back in the chair.

“So demand it and I’ll show you exactly what you’ve been yearning for since I even mentioned it. I’ll tie you up and show how dark my mind can get. I will give you the pleasure that you deserve. I will give you everything you need Dani but I want you to not be a meek flower, I need a roaring rose. You didn’t attract me by being sad babe it was your brassy attitude and that fire. I don’t want you to turn weak we need to trust each other.”

Dani looked at him as he touched her hand and then he had to trail those damn fingers on her skin. She had wanted to get a drink but when he sent the bartender away she didn’t get the chance. Trust him that wasn’t something she expected him to say and yes she wanted to be with him like that. Lex had never been this way with her caring, gentle it was much more looking back a bad business arrangement. For some reason she felt like she could trust him that was the scary part she did trust him. Looking at him she was far from weak but she wouldn’t be an idiot either she couldn’t afford to be again. Taking his hand in hers she pulled him off the chair and down the hallway entering the small room she pulled him to her by his tie.

Looking at him she leaned up and kissed him running her hands through his hair. Pulling him to her feeling his length brush against her hips feeling herself pulse for him she spoke mumbling against his lips. “I’m crazy about you have been since that first night. I just didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t want to scare you away. I’ve never felt like this before.” Kissing him again she let her mouth glide over his wanting to show him he drove her crazy for him. Had been crazy about him for weeks and she wanted him all of him. She smiled at him when she pulled back breathless and heated undoing his tie and looking into his eyes. “Tie me right here right now Jackson.”

“Whatever you want is my command Dani.” He said when she pulled back, his hands resting on her hips pulling her to him. Looking at her knowing how badly he wanted her, bent over begging in that moment. Wanted her as his and only his. Jackson made sure the coast was clear before he took her hand starting to lead her back through the ballroom to the elevators. Taking notice of his mother’s condescending eyes. He knew what she was thinking, don’t hurt Dani and he wouldn’t. That wasn’t his goal after all she was a good luck charm. Since their time together his father had started to listen to his idea for DGI Energy division. Something Chauncey just used as a way to get dominance, him running two divisions of DGI now was becoming his strength. Taking back his piece of the pie while expanding it into so much more.

“I hate to talk about business right now but um I have an idea, tell me what you think. Clean energy Chauncey tried to use it against me. However I want DGI Energy to use oil, solar, water, and basically expand it into a event. Get the world leaders and lead scientist in one room and show that DGI isn’t just about oil but all. I’m thinking of calling it the energy summit or something. Global warming is a prevalent issue and I just think Chauncey would have me at my balls if I just ran with Bliss and the oil. I’m killing the mood aren’t I?” Jackson said lowering his head and looking at her. “I can stop when I’m around you. I can stop using and I see and I think more clear it’s scary.”

“I think clean energy is smart you have a ton of contacts. You could work towards that with the city too. Think if half the city was on clean energy what a difference it would make?” Dani said looking at him this was what she loved about them. They could have a good time together talk work in the middle of what was supposed to be him taking her to bed. They could be holed up at the gatehouse or her brownstone eating take out and watching bad TV, riding horses to her it didn’t matter. The fact was he made her happy when they were together, he was all she thought about outside of work. “I love it. You know I’d help you with it we can start a feeler campaign and do another business proposal to your father. Bring in leaders have it here in Atlas Falls a conference of sorts, it could be the event of the year.”

She didn’t know what to say when he told her he could stop and focus around her, she felt like he evened out her need to focus so much. The other part of his words did worry her the using part, she didn’t think he was, was he? She hadn’t noticed anything different with him but maybe she had been so caught up in what was going on with them. Maybe he had slipped up when he said it or nervous but tonight felt wrong to ask him about it and pressure him to talk about it. She traced her fingers on his jaw making him look at her. She kissed him softly and smiled teasingly. “Yes you’re kinda killing the mood. Which would be a damn shame since I skipped panties just for you.”

“Well I always warned you that you shouldn’t leave the house with at least a clean pair of panties.” Lauren growled at Danielle as she saw them about to leave the party. Not on her watch. “I see you haven’t met me Mr. Devonshire I’m Lauren Fraiser the mother of the woman you’re trying to make another notch on your belt. Mr. Devonshire my daughter was ripped apart by better than you. I refuse to watch her fall into the same game as before. You rich people think that your money can buy anything. Not my daughter and you.” Her eyes grew dark and hard.

“Do you know how hard my husband has suffered because you are Lowell’s blood? Dani are you crazy? Are you insane? How this will affect our family that you are sleeping with him? God you aren’t thinking what about Lex? What about his reputation? God are you going to do this again?”

“Woah you don’t know anything about me so why don’t you calm down?” Jackson said looking at Lauren as her hand collided into his face. Dazzled he looked at Dani shocked.

“Why don’t you keep your damn hands off of my daughter.” Lauren barked at him. “She’s off fucking limits you ass. The Devonshire’s are the enemy Dani!”

Dani glared at her mother, she knew everything about Lex and to bring him up right now hurt. She’d been a complete wreck when she came home about everything with Lex. Jackson looked confused as hell at her and she could feel her hand shaking in his. She pushed back the tears fearing that Jackson would leave her now. She had made stupid choices with Lex, stayed with Lex when she knew something wasn’t right stayed to please her parents. Lex never loved her, he made that clear when he screwed Maggie and then told her she was to blame that she wasn’t enough in bed for him. That they could work it out she could still work for his father, he could have Maggie and it was a win win for everyone. In many ways her catching him cheating had saved her a lifetime of misery.

“Do what? Be happy? I’m not crazy, I’m not insane. I’m happy. Isn’t that what you always wanted for me to be happy? I’m not some notch it’s not like that with him. He cares about me which is more than I can ever say about Lex. Lex’s reputation? I really could care less about Lex’s reputation since we aren’t together and haven’t been since I caught him fucking around on me last year.” Dani said looking at her mother if the mood wasn’t ruined before it was now. She did believe that with Jackson. That what they had wasn’t just that to him, that she mattered to him, that he felt the same way she did. She was in love with him, what they could have and build together. She turned her eyes to Jackson this was not how she wanted to tell him about Lex. “I can explain just not here, not tonight.”

“Dani I’m going to go speak with my parents.” Jackson said gritting his teeth at whomever this Lex guy was. Obviously he was important to not just Dani but Lauren. Dear God who was this guy? Reputation the fuck did they care about his reputation as he rubbed his cheek. “Nice to meet you Mrs. Fraiser.” Jackson walked away furious who was Lex?

“You too Jackson.” Lauren waved at him. “Danielle Grace Fraiser.” She spoke with a obvious anger. “You will stop this or I will.” Slowly she walked to her husband as the photographers started to shoot pictures of them.

Dani watched Jackson leave and glared at her mother over her dead body, she was done having her parents tell her who to be with. Done with trying to please them and live up to their expectations she had made that clear when she called off her engagement to Lex. She knew this meant she had to talk to Jackson about Lex it wasn’t something she could avoid anymore. She grabbed a glass of champagne from the passing waiter seeing her cousin and Dante enter taking a sip she watched Jackson walking through the crowd she only hoped her mother hadn’t ruined everything. Walking towards Zach and Dante if she had to play nice with her family at least she could do it without the judgement with her best friend and cousin and his totally awesome boyfriend.


Philip placed a single rose down on the grave. Wiping the dust away and he touched the letters carved into the marble. He could still remember the smell of her hair it was like lavender and vanilla. He could still see her stunning reflection on that boat she loved so much. “I want to tell you I am moving on. She isn’t sweet like you Ronnie that’s one thing I wanted to say to you. I know you aren’t here, but is it wrong that I believe that I’m betraying you? The yacht is still being renovated and I um haven’t put it on the water yet. I just can’t take the boat that took your life on the lake yet. Veronica you know her and she’s infuriating. She’s smart and funny and calculating all at once. I feel like I’m betraying your memory just by dating Max. She is so funny and we talk about you a lot. You were her best friend.” He sat down on the ground as the smell of the flowers seemed to smell so strong.

“I got the flowers from your family’s garden and visited your sister. Scarlett is a actually dating Mason Delacroix can you imagine those two? I just can’t believe it but she is happy. I know you always wanted your sister happy. She isn’t little Scarlett but you know that don’t you? Look I just have to say something to you. I love you and I will never stop loving you. You were my heart my love please don’t think I’ve forgotten about you Veronica. I have a fallen for one of your friends Max is becoming something more to me Veronica. I swear she doesn’t want to admit it but we are in sync. I feel it and what’s worse is that she does also. I will never disrespect your memory but I’m moving forward with Max.” He said looking at her tombstone.

“God don’t be like that Ronnie it’s not my fault that we have this relationship. It just happened and you know how and what happened in high school. I’m just asking for your retribution, I love you and missing you is hard. I want to still have you in my arms Ronnie. I just can’t let go how you left us.” Philip got up as he walked out of the cemetery as he looked at her grave one last time. He’d never forget her. He’d never let her go and he vowed to visit her again. As he walked to his car he got inside and sped off. They were getting married. He was opening a club not a stripclub. They were supposed to be in Europe right now. They were supposed to have a lot of moments that were cut short. Today Philip refused to cry he wouldn’t. It had been five years and justice hadn’t be given. As he pulled in front of his door, he jumped out throwing his keys at the valet.


“Mr. Montgomery you have a…” The valet stammered.

“Fuck-you.” Philip said storming through the doors not trying to hear anything now. His mind was fucked with Max and Veronica. Two women he loved. Two women he’d never have. Walking into the elevator he pressed the 22nd floor and leaned back. Closing his eyes he swore he heard her voice. Nobody still knew what happened to Veronica. What happened to the last woman he loved. Slowly walking down the aisle he unlocked the door and saw Max sitting on his couch.

“That little fuck.” He said growling. “What Max? Care to make me look like a fool again. I won’t let you so get hell out. Get out right now! I don’t want to play your games. I don’t want to screw you. I want you but not like this. Cheap and tawdry is that the way you want to feel? You want feel like whore? Is that what you want me to keep treating you like? My bitches who slide down the poles for me? I tried to show how I good I can be but you want to just fuck. You want to see the worst in me so here it is. Let’s call Mercedes and get a threesome going you were little boring in the sack.” Philip opened his door wider so she could leave. “Oh I forgot you’re too prim for that. Princess you don’t want me. You don’t need me so go to soho or New York and repair your marriage. Work on your perfectly fucked life.”

Max had arrived at his condo after going home and picking out some of her best lingerie Hunter wanted to fight dirty it was on she was done putting on a happy face for everyone. She was tired of playing the role of perfect wife to Hunter Kincaid so instead she was going to do what she wanted. She wanted Philip it was clear her and Hunter were over and she had no intention of showing up at the fundraiser where her father was showing her sister around. Instead she had went to the condo sat on the couch and waited for Philip to get home when he did she saw a side of him that she never had. An deep anger at life in general and at her, rising from the couch she walked to the door and shut it dropping her coat to the floor. Revealing her Carine Gilson matching lingerie that she had on, she had it specially tailored and made for him.

“If I didn’t want you I wouldn’t be here standing in your entryway waiting for you to fuck me. You and I both know you aren’t going to throw me out.” Max said looking at him and taking a step towards him seeing the tension on his body. She wrapped her right hand around his neck, where had he been all night? Her left hand went to his slacks pressing her palm over his rigid cock and massaging him. “I was thrown off at work but you were there you know that Hunter wants us to end things. I already got my legal team on it at DGI. I’m not one of your whores who slide down your poles this was dirty when we started Philip. No sense pretending this was a fairytale when it wasn’t.”

“Fairytale. Well let me tell you a story about a spoiled little princess who has gotten everything she wanted. All the way to the storybook wedding with a spoiled petulant prince. However the princess body was bound to a dirty street rat. The princess mind was bound to the the street rat and then the craziest thing happened. The princess has fallen for the street rat. Since you think this is some game my emotions aren’t a fucking game.” He growled at Max. “I love you and I want you and you’re the girl for me. I want to be true to myself and it’s killing me.” He growled looking at her.

“The first woman since Veronica’s death I love you and you can’t be with me. I’m sick of it Max, I wasn’t supposed be this man. I was supposed to have kids and be married and have club in Paris where I could breathe. I would not be a street rat anymore. I want to touch your flesh so badly that I can’t breath right now. I want you with all my body and I love you with all my mind and heart. Why do you torture me? I can’t share you because I’m selfish so damn selfish. You want me and you want what he gives you but today I’m in enough pain to forgo my ego. To forgo my pride and do this.” He slammed the door and slowly walked to Max as he kissed her then bit her lip as hard as he could. “I hate you.” Philip said unbuttoning his shirt and unfastening her bra. Clasping her nipples between his fingers. As he fell down to his knees as he kissed her belly. “I hate you.” He whispered taking on her intoxicating scent.

Slowly kissing her waist as he used his teeth to pull off her panties. “I hate you.” His breath was bated as his tongue kissed her middle. Slamming her down on the couch he spread her legs apart slowly burying his head between thighs. “I hate you.”

Max looked at him when he said he loved her honestly she didn’t even know what that meant anymore. She had married Hunter for love hadn’t she? Looking back she married Hunter because when Veronica died and her twin was slipping further away she felt like Hunter was her safety net. Her parents wanted her to get married to Hunter due to his political ties so she did. Years later and she had nothing to show for it were her and Hunter even friends? They barely liked each other but Philip she felt a connection too, she needed Philip she he was right the princess had fallen for the street rat. Of course the right thing to do would be to say something back to him in the moment but she wanted to say it when she was sure she meant it.

When Philip kissed her and slamming his body to hers into the door she moaned. She wasn’t sure if she felt blood when he bit her but it sent something down to the bottom of her toes. She ran her fingers down his chest when he unbuttoned his shirt and he removed her bra. She watched him lower to his knees and bit her lip to surprise a moan at him. She never felt like this with Hunter honestly it wasn’t that Hunter was a bad lover but the chemistry wasn’t there. She ran her hands in his hair while he removed her panties and parted her legs.

“I hate you too.” Max managed to get out when be started it explore her with his mouth. Closing her eyes she threw her head back sucking in a breath and then letting out a moan. Throwing her hips into his mouth shamelessly she knew she loved him. “Philip.” She managed to get out.

Philip kept eating her until she was juicy and dripping her juices. Standing up he unbuckled his pants as they fell to the floor. He was fully erect and grabbed himself. As he kneeled down on the couch he positioned himself in between her legs as a smile appeared on his face. She was so beautiful and everything in him was making him want to run. She would never be his but he was addicted to her. Taking his girth in his hand he plunged inside of her.

Before she could moan he stuck his tongue down her throat. Slowly tasting her lips he pulled back thrusting deeply inside of her. His hips started to thrash her tightness feeling her grip around him. God how did she do that? How did she make him feel like this. Like he could explode just but diving inside of her? Veronica never made him feel like this. Her body was a drug and he was getting his dosage. “Say my name.” He growled holding her face forcing her to look inside of his eyes.

Max moaned as he feasted on her unable to control things with him how did he do this to her? Have her near screaming his name with only a few licks of his tongue. Watching him stroke himself did something to her it intrigued her, watching him get so hard for her. A man hadn’t desired her in a long time like this, sex with Hunter had gotten repetitive and dull there was no spark they were like roommates. She wrapped her arms around his neck while he thrusted into her moaning loudly into his mouth as they kissed. She closed her eyes lost in the sensations he was causing her raking her hands down his back.

“Philip.” Max ground out when he grabbed her face and held her eyes to look at his, it was always so intense with him something she had never experienced before. She knew in the back of her mind she should be feel guilty after all Veronica had him first was going to marry him, she and Veronica were friends but the other part of her wanted to be selfish with him. She threw her hips into him wrapping her ankles into his thighs. “Philip. Fuck.” She moaned again.

Philip kept long stroking Max feeling her body underneath him felt like for once he had control. Hell it was the only time he felt the power. His heart was pounding as he looked at her. For the first time since Veronica he felt it. It was a connection he thought he’d never feel again. As he kissed Max neck he slowly pinched her nipples softly. As he started to pound her making her feel every stroke

As he leaned in he kissed her lips tasting the sweat on her soft lips. Gravity had seemed to cease to exist because. As he nuzzled his lips as he kissed her neck. As he held her wrist he kissed her neck. Slowly rolling his hips inside of her as he felt himself swelling inside of her. As he tongued her. “I love you say it.”

Max was lost in the moment while he plowed into her on the couch it should have felt wrong shouldn’t it? That was what she kept telling herself while he moved and she moaned underneath him. If anything the ring on her finger should have been an indication that it was wrong. Instead she was pretty sure she had never been this turned on before as he stroked her. Feeling him pinching her nipples she groaned into his ear and she glared into his own eyes while he pinned her wrist.

“Philip.” Max managed to moan out she was so very close and the way he was working her body just right. Very deliberate making sure she remembered was intense it was almost too much. Love was a tricky thing for people in her family Philip seemed to know the real her the good the bad and the ugly. There was no hidden secrets with Philip unlike Hunter. “I love you now stop talking.” Max finally relented gazing at him as she threw her hips into him.

Philip wrapped her legs around his neck as he bent her up. Feeling her pretty pussy pulsating as if he instinctively knew that she was close. There bodies were in one motion now. He knew how long he had until she exploded and he wanted to do something to make sure Max stayed. Veronica left him and so did his dreams. This time he wasn’t going for it. Leaning on top of Max he tongued her down. As he deep and long stroked her but his pace quick and steady.

“You will never know what you mean to me. Do you understand? You don’t know any better.” He managed to pant out as he started to feel her juices start to release on him. She was about to explode. His dick was getting extra wet and he felt himself shivering as he popped a powerful orgasm inside of her. He felt the cushion on the couch soaking wet so he was sure Max got off. “But I’m willing to teach you. I’m willing to teach you that you don’t deserve to be secondary to Chauncey, Lowell, Jackson, or Rory. Or that you don’t have to fucking remain with a man who doesn’t make your body react like this.” He kissed her neck. “I fucking am falling for you Max. Do you get that?”

Max let him move in her let herself escape in the feeling he created when he moved in her, he always made her feel wanted and desired. She continued to throw her hips into him even when he raised her legs up around his neck groaning at the sensation and how deep he could always go. She felt her breathing increase with his movements, felt herself tightening on him to the point that she was going to scream. A few seconds later she did crying out as her orgasm ripped through her, feeling herself clench on him as she exploded and then felt him do the same. She was silent afterwards as her fingers traced his back feeling the bumps he had never told her how he got them.

“I have my reasons why I need to stay with Hunter just for a little while longer, if you would have seen the look my father sent me today. There is tension at work after its settled maybe then.” Max knew he deserved more of an answer than that but honestly she couldn’t give him one. Work right now was tense Chauncey and Jackson seemed about ready to go to war, she was still trying to get her idea up with her father. Not to mention with Steven’s murder still unsolved it was hardly appropriate. “When are you going to tell me about these? You know everything about me Philip but these you keep hidden.”

Philip thought about it for a second and for one moment the lie he told every time almost seeped out. As he pulled her closer to his body he tried to smile at her. As his eyes glazed to a youthful child. “When I was five my sister and I had a nanny named Magda. She was relentlessly mean to us and did so many cruel things. When my father found out I swear I saw fire in his eyes. The devil was awakened and we never saw Magda again. I don’t know what happened to her but I do know my father promised never to never let us be hurt again. Then your father stripped my dad of all power he had. Not only was he powerless but he was heartbroken.”

He lowered his head wondering if he should have told her the truth. “I’m ashamed that I just let her beat on me and my sister was only three. I know you hate Cassie but we went through things because of your father. I thought we agreed that the past should stay there. I’ve lost more than you know. Veronica’s death still haunts me.”

Max looked at him watching him talk about the nanny the scars were something they never talked about. They also didn’t talk about what her father did to Forbes by ousting him out of DGI. Her father had done that to a lot of men over the years Walter, Forbes some french guy she couldn’t remember his name. The press always called her family selfish and self absorbed and she wondered if that was true. She knew she was being selfish at the moment wanting both Philip and Hunter, she liked playing both sides. When Philip mentioned Veronica part of her stiffened and she pulled away to grab her panties and her bra.

“We did agree to that.” Max said quietly slipping on her clothes or what little of them she had Veronica was her friend, her death had affected her too. Life was too short after Veronica’s death and she had rushed into marrying Hunter.Partly was a way to please her parents and partly because everyone around her was leaving Cat, her brother to drugs, Veronica. Sometimes she wondered if she should feel guilty fucking Philip when Veronica was dead. “She was my friend too. You need to give me more time to end things with Hunter at least until I am sure I can handle him in the divorce.”

Philip saw that he triggered her by bring up Veronica. His dreams and hopes were wrapped up in that woman. Grabbing his towel he cleaned up and slipped on a pair sweats by the time he returned Max was dressed. Once again she was gone but tonight he was going to make her uncomfortable. Philip had a plan and once he was done he’d see if he’d continue to play second string to prince Hunter. As he smirked he looked at the clock wondering if her double life was catching up to her.

“I guess you’re late so go ahead.” Philip said flopping down on the couch he quickly pulled her into his arms. “Even if you don’t know what I am thinking know this. You’re in my head every day and I can’t seem to shake my angel is up there smiling at us. Somehow two lost ones found something now I don’t like sharing you. I’m stubborn but Max I make you happy and isn’t that what life is about. Cat, Veronica, and so many people have been removed from our lives. I have sacrificed a lot for us and I don’t think that we aren’t in the affair phase. This isn’t us calling each other drunk at five anymore. This is you wanting me more call me selfish but you have no clue. No clue I’m after more than a few hours in a day I want it all.”

Max didn’t know what to say to him while he laid out what was an ugly scenario for them both in his living room. Adjusting her coat back around her she looked at the clock she did need to get back. He was right she was living a double life and their vicious cycle did need to stop she just wasn’t sure how. Getting up from his lap.She opened up the door and walked out she couldn’t give him more right now. Not until she and Hunter had at least filed.


Hunter had arrived to the fundraiser and shook a few hands at the door early ignoring his mother and the press that was asking him questions no doubt wanting him to slip his name on the ballot for mayor. He had no interest in politics that wasn’t his forte that was on Anderson, something his brother was doing with fire in Chicago.He was happy for Anderson that he and Cara that they had got away from the craziness of his mother, that they were able to be happy. Looking around the ballroom he spotted Bliss who looked stunning in her couture dress that he supposed was showing off a little too much skin but he liked that. He grabbed a glass of champagne on his way to her. The walk had done him good and a call to Mason had eased his fears, Max’s stunt at the office was ammunition. He supposed he had been letting Max confirm him for far too long and now it was time to stop that.

“For someone that is supposed to be staying away from me you’re not doing a good job at it?” Hunter teased as he walked up to her. She looked stunning and as he looked at the clock he doubted Max was coming. If she was coming she would have been there by now not to mention he hadn’t seen Philip yet either. It wasn’t hard to put two and two together where she was concerned. “I do have to say my mind is wandering at the moment with you in that dress. I have been considering what you said earlier. About Max controlling me, dance with me.”

“No thank-you Mr. Kincaid.” Bliss said in a breathy voice as the camera flashed on them. She made sure to look as if she was uninterested in what he was saying in the photograph. “One thing I can give my big sister is she has balls. She isn’t afraid to make you look like a fool, or me for that matter. Everyone was supposed to be here it’s my debut and she’s missing it. As much I hate her I think I wanted her here. I wanted her to feel my presence looming but I guess we don’t get what we want such is life.” She slowly walked toward the outside garden where the fountain was. “I used to dream of this Hunter. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be at one these parties but Max was always in my fantasy. My father would love me and she’d be vanquished.”

Bliss spun around as she flew into his arms. She was playing the slightly tipsy beauty. “Oh no Hunter what are going to do?” Asking rhetorically she continued. “I want to dance with you but I don’t want everyone to know. I don’t want to be under your spell any longer, I put spell on you Hunter. You’re mine.” She purred as the classical music swept her away. “This is scandalous me lusting after you but you are lusting after me. But we are betraying Max but she has you and I’m hurt because nobody wants me. But you want me, don’t you Hunter?”

“Unfortunately for us both I think you know where she is. She is with Philip I doubt she will come to your outing with the family.” Hunter said his voice low as he looked at her and the flashing cameras she was good and honestly she was making him work for it. He liked the chase hell when was the last time he chased someone? He had never even chased Max, he and Max hung out with the same crowd were friends growing up. The chase though was something that was intriguing about Bliss one of many things. He watched her go outside and followed her to the gardens. “I think Lowell was protecting you in some strange way.”

“If you would stand still for more than two minutes I’d tell you. Max is with Philip tonight people won’t talk about it because it’s not polite. Dani and Simon will bury it in the papers because it is their job but it’s still a fact. She wanted our marriage she would be here, she’s not. I have my lawyer looking into our prenup.” Hunter said when she turned into his arms. He pulled her body to him and inhaled her scent Christ he wanted her and in his head it was going to be for way more than one night. He wanted to finally in what felt like years live his life with someone that got him, that he shared things in common with. It was scandalous and wrong but it also mostly felt right and peaceful. Mason had told him he found something he just had to look up a few more cases to be sure. “I want you Bliss I have from maybe that first night on the balcony at the resort. I want to be with a woman that actually wants me back that doesn’t care about my last name or my money. For some reason I think you’d fit the bill on both accounts.”

“Oh I don’t care if you are the crowned prince of the Kincaid’s or whomever you are. I care that you are the guy I see. A man for the first time who doesn’t just see me as a object as a possession.” She slowly tugged at his silk tie. As she touched his face letting her finger trace his lips. “Then don’t ever reject me like that again. Don’t ever deny what we have. I feel what you feel with me. I feel it all the time and I think about you all the time. Hunter don’t you see? From the moment I set my eyes on you were mine. I can feel what we have.” Letting her tongue slowly enter his lips as she kissed him. It was a kiss full of passion. When she felt Hunter arms around her body she wrapped her arms around his neck.

A few years ago this was impossible in so many ways. First her father forbid her when she turned legal to contact any of them. She was traveling and her past lovers never seemed to let go. Either way to feel this free and being Bliss Devonshire well this was a calculated move. Her father was a very smart man to have her announced so to speak at a charity ball. “Don’t do that again. Now possibly if you could will you continue to sweep me off my feet because I do want to explore every side of you.”

“I would never see you like that Bliss. You’re smart and your independent I like that about you.” Hunter said watching her pull him to her by his tie he leaned down when she touched his face. Feeling his skin tingle like it was supposed to when you are attracted to someone. Like really attracted to someone. The desire he once had for Max was gone it had been for years, looking back they should have never gotten married when they did. Neither of them were ready for that type of a commitment to each other. So much pressure between their parents, Veronica’s death. Kissing her back he slowly stroked her face pulling her to him deepening the kiss letting his tongue explore hers. “I just don’t want her to hurt you.”

For Hunter that was the truth he didn’t want Max to extricate revenge on him through her sister, a sister he knew she was already hating and feeling insecure about now that she was in town. He’s seen Max do heinous things when pushed with other women that threatened her hell look at her feud with Cassie Montgomery. When he thought Rachel was having and affair with him she nearly went ballistic until he informed her it was ridiculous especially when he knew back then that she was screwing Philip. Letting his hands travel over her dress to her hips Hunter pushed her against one of the tables on the patio. “I want to explore you too. Why did you have to leave the resort? I liked you at the resort I show up to the mansion for you that might be awkward.”

Bliss laughed as she softly kissed his neck. He smelled so good, he really made her feel like she was flying. He rocked her world in the matter of days and she was in suspended belief in a way. After all she had been through with men, Bliss honestly gave up on caring about men. Hunter was the type to be loyal and faithful not only that he wanted her. The relationship or whatever this was it was electric. The anticipation from just his touch thrilled her, as she looked in his eyes. Naturally taking his body closer to her by wrapping her ankles around the back of his knees. Letting him press even closer to her.

“You understand me and I like that.” She stroked his face. “Who is to say I can’t keep the resort suite? I think that is part of the fun hiding it in front of her face. Don’t get me wrong I’d much rather hide out in our paradise but doing it in secret could be quite fun no?” Bliss leaned in kissing Hunter letting her body press against him. “Max is a force and I understand that she’s a vicious but I’m a fighter and I’m going to claw for what I want. You know how many times I’ve imagined the pleasure you’re going to give to me?” Another kiss left Bliss feeling hungry to explore more of Hunter as she touched his chest feeling his heart pounding. His hardness was poking against her thigh. “I wonder where we could go now.” She purred as kissed him again.

Jackson’s chest was heavy. Not only had he not gotten screwed over with Dani she was hiding something from him. Walking outside he took in a deep breath as he looked over to his right he saw Hunter and Bliss kissing. His heart dropped as he saw the passion in their touching. Jackson stepped back right into a decorative pot. “Shit.”

Bliss instantly pushed Hunter away as she saw Jackson staring at them both. Quickly she slapped Hunter. “You’ve had too much too drink!”

Hunter had wanted to lift her skirt and have a taste or two it was different with Bliss he felt something with her that he didn’t with Max. Passion and freedom, someone that saw him and didn’t expect him to be a certain way. The crashing of the pot however and hearing his best friend’s voice his body stiffened. He let Bliss slap him and rubbed his cheek finally turning around to look at Jackson. Yes he was married to Max but honestly when was the last time Jackson cared about anything other than his last or his next high?

“Go inside I’ll handle this.” Hunter said looking at Bliss as he watched her walk towards the doorway he touched her hand softly seeing Jackson scowling at him. Once she was gone he looked at his best friend. “I don’t have to explain myself to you not when Max is out fucking Philip at this very moment. It’s over for Max and I we put on the happy face for your parents or mine but shit Jackson I want more than that. I already have Mason filing the paperwork. I deserve more than that. I want someone that makes me happy that I don’t have to pretend with. You want to take a hit at me do it. It won’t change anything I won’t end up like my father married to misery with a woman who I don’t love. Bliss is different we have a connection when I think about a woman that I want in the long run, she is who I see. I don’t expect you to understand that you’ve never really cared as long as someone was willing to go to bed with you.”

“I guess this is my way of getting cosmic karma. How many times have I put Max and you in the middle of my shit? I can’t judge Hunter but with Bliss? You don’t know her and I don’t want you with two Devonshire sisters. How do you know my little sister isn’t playing a game? She is helping me Max’s twin and if she comes through now all of the sudden mysteriously seducing the lonely husband.” Jackson popped a piece of shrimp into his mouth. “I told you not to marry Max, my sister and I are a lot alike. I have a high tolerance for drugs and for Max games are her drug. I’m not sure you’ve figured that out.” Honestly Hunter should have known Max wasn’t in love when she agreed. After that fiasco with that teacher, Max was looking to please their father. A marriage of convenience was just what she needed to get back in dad’s good grace.

“And don’t judge me. I’m trying something new just so you know.” His stomach knotted up as he thought about Dani and Lex whomever he was. “I believe that I’m actually trying with Dani. Believe it or not. I really like her she’s a piece of work Hunt.” Jackson smiled at his best friend. “Is she worth it? Is Bliss worth Max? You know this war between them is about to get way uglier.”

“You’re my best friend Jackson we’ve always been friends I don’t think that will change when Max and I end. You don’t know anything about Bliss or what she has been through, she didn’t have parents growing up. Your father bought off nannies and caretakers, her own mother left her. Things I think you and Max take for granted having parents and siblings that care about you.” Hunter said looking at Jackson, Bliss siding with him and helping him at DGI didn’t surprise him in the least. Hunter hated that Jackson used, yes they were friends but there was way more to life than getting high it was living and experiencing it. He supposed that Max was chasing a high with Philip the danger and the game. “I figured it out just later than I should have with Max. We want different things Jackson.”

“I saw you with Dani but I didn’t know how to ask about it. She’s good for you if you want my opinion on it you seem happy with her. You’ve never looked at anyone the way you do her. Or is it all some show and game?” Hunter asked looking at his best friend he knew him well and to him Dani didn’t deserve Jackson playing games with her if it was all a show. Hunter adjusted his tie as he looked at Jackson he wanted to know if Bliss was worth it, worth growing up for and being happy for she was. “Bliss is worth a thousand Max’s when you know with someone you know. A wise woman my grandmother told me that. You know she warned me about that the day of my wedding. I am realizing now it wasn’t right with Max. Lets get together sometime this week alright?”

“I just have to ask if she is worth it. Max is going to go on a war to make sure you two are fully capable of taking on my sister. My twin is used to being malicious don’t believe me ask Cassie. I’m serious do think she’s going to take this lying down? She’s going to have a fit and it won’t be pretty. Not to mention Bliss is after her place in the company. I don’t want you two railroaded by the Max Devonshire train. So think about our Max and think if Bliss can handle what she’s going to bring.”

Jackson cracked his knuckles as he looked at his brother and smirked looking at Hunter. “It’s truly good to see you’re happy right now Hunt but be careful because my sister is out for blood and I don’t know my other sister well enough to speak about if she’s going to be able to handle this. So you better be ready.”

“I’m not afraid of Max Jackson and from what I’ve gathered your other sister Bliss is more than capable of taking care of herself. I don’t expect Max to take anything lying down but I’m sick of lying down for her to walk all over me.” Hunter said looking at his friend seeing how he avoided talking about himself. It was hard to gauge where Jackson’s head was at with Dani. He knew first hand how Walter could be. He’d seen him enough in city hall and council meetings. “It’s good to see you like this sober, happy that’s all I’m saying and if it’s because of her I’m happy for you. Word of advice when dealing with Walter Fraiser’s only daughter tread carefully you know how he and your dad can be.”

Leaving it at that he waved to his sister inside the party, as he cast Jackson a final look hoping his friend knew what he was doing. Lowell’s feud with Walter was well known, he didn’t think Walter would take it well if Jackson hurt Dani. He also didn’t think Dani would take his friends bullshit either from the time he had spent around her. His head was still thinking of Jackson’s words about Max and Bliss when he stepped back inside the party. Bliss was worth it that much he knew and there was nothing else that made sense other than he and Bliss fit.

Jackson bit his lip as he lowered his head as he felt himself liking the smell of Dani’s hair. He wanted to dive into his darkest desires with her. He didn’t know how to feel about the drugs. To be honest he was tired of being so dependant on them. However he didn’t want to replace drugs with Dani. The forbidden angle was so comfortable for him. He’d always curved from the Devonshire straight line. As for Walter well that man was known to be a ass and knowing what Dani had already been through. Was she ready for what was coming next?

Turning around he spotted her like a moth to a flame. She was so stunning and her eyes were fixated on him also. He wasn’t sure if he was going forward or backwards. Picking up a glass of champagne. He turned away toward his family leaving himself to brood inside his own mind. Hunter had brought out the more troubled parts of what they were doing. They were about to reignite a decades long feud in the most ugliest ways.


Rory helped Yasmine out of the car as it pulled into the country club, she was gorgeous in the dress yes it wasn’t couture or anything but he didn’t care about any of that. The driver had been a little sketchy when they had picked her up in the Scottswood neighborhood and she had looked hell of nervous until she smiled at him as he gave her a small bouquet of spring flowers. The peach dress she was in suited her perfectly it complemented her eyes and he had made a point telling her that. She had looked out the window as they drove and he wondered if she had ever really been in a limo before, probably not but he wasn’t rude enough to ask. Honestly it was nice to be around her, he felt a connection to her he couldn’t explain. Being around her also he felt like he didn’t have the urge to go down to Philip’s sleazy club and watch for Diamond. Not that he wasn’t attracted to Diamond he was but he could only imagine his parents reaction to him showing up with a stripper.

“It will be fine I promise my parents and my friends don’t bite. You’ll have a good time I promise besides I will owe you afterwards when I help you prep for your your final. I will say you are adorable when you fidget.” Rory said when the car came to a stop and he got out extending his hand to her so they could exit. The country club was gorgeous at night and he could tell his mother the committee and Merci had outdone themselves. “Come on.”

“You for sure?” Yasmine said looking at him confused at the extravaganza before her. She looked out of place these women were wearing thousand dollar gowns. Her eyes were on the big ass rocks on their finger and jewels around their necks. “Rory this is crazy I got this dress out of some catalog these girls are beautiful. What are doing with me? Hell what are you doing in that club?” She asked unintentionally as she gasped covering her mouth.

“That’s so beautiful the fountain it’s changing colors.” She said amazed at the water magically changing shades. The entire place looked as if she stepped out of a time machine. Her eyes were wide and expressive at the damn tables. “Rory this is too much, I can’t do this that girl wearing something off the runway I got this at some value store.” Yasmine saw a waiter walking past her and she snatched one glass of champagne. “I don’t know how to talk to millionaires this was a bad idea.”

“I’m sure. My mother puts this on every year and every year I am bored out of my mind. I won’t be this year in the least.” Rory said looking at her exit the limo and take his hand. When she mentioned the club though he stopped catching himself she was Diamond. He was a bit surprised it had taken him this long to put the pieces together but there was something about her when he saw her at school. Almost as if it was some predestined connection which now that he knew who she was it explained why he was so pulled to her. “We can discuss the club later alright.” He said softly kissing the back of her hand.

“I thought you would like the fountain thanks to the county club being on my mother’s side it’s been upgraded. Do you really think I care what you are wearing?” Rory asked her moving some hair out of her face. Honestly he didn’t even at the club he didn’t yes she could have and normally was in nothing less but a skimpy outfit but what he felt for her was bone deep not superficial. He could tell she was nervous and insecure and didn’t want her to be. It was a stupid charity dinner party they would need to talk about the club of course not here or anything.. “I like you the way you are Yasmine in the club and outside of it. No one needs to know about the club here. I promise you that.”

He didn’t care. He didn’t care about her being a stripper and didn’t care that she wasn’t rich. As she grasped his hand for security more than anything. As they walked through she saw signs that they were supposed to be in Shangri-la. Yasmine read Lost Horizon at least three times. Certain things stood out to her. A smile appeared as the silent auction for the hospital began. It was so lavish. It was so much more than she ever had seen. Biting her lip she eyed Rory as she stepped in front of Rory.

“Promise me.” Yasmine said as she bit down on her lip. “Promise that my other life won’t matter, all that matters is us right now.” When she looked at Jackie and Lowell Devonshire approaching them. God they were going to know she wasn’t anything but a junkie’s daughter in one moment.

“A promise? Rory you aren’t thinking of courting this stunning young woman now are you?” Lowell said looking at Jackie as they approached their son and this stunning creature. “You are my dear? You look beautiful, Jackie do you know this girl? I mean you are the society maven.”

Jackie had made her rounds around the room keeping a careful eye on Jackson the last thing they needed was him hurting Dani. Not that she wasn’t happy for her son she was but after Lauren’s warning to her earlier that day she knew Walter could do more damage than good. She had talked to Merci as the guests arrived instructing her to make sure to let the staff know to limit the amount of booze that Brenda got if she arrived. She had went and pulled Lowell away from a few hospital members when she saw Rory arrive with his date. She didn’t know much about the girl other than he had met her at school and she was quite stunning, though the clothing left something to be desired.

“I actually don’t Rory just added her on the list this evening. I was actually hoping that he would have taken Brooke as his date.” Jackie said curtly looking at Lowell and then at Rory. It was the truth she extended her hand seeing the worry on Yasmine’s face. “Brooke is Rory’s dear childhood friend I had assumed they would go together until Rory told me he was bringing a date when we met this afternoon. Where did you get your dress, it is quite lovely?”

Rory shook his father’s hand when his parents approached and nearly shot daggers at his mother, they could be such stuck up snobs sometimes. Then again when he thought about it his parents had been hand picking for Chauncey and Max, both thought Jackson was a lost cause. Neither had started on him or Bliss yet and he thanked God for that, he wanted something real with someone not something that they thought was to their standards.

“Mother, father Yasmine Kohl my date for the evening. Yasmine is a dance major and taking business courses. She does look quite stunning doesn’t she?” Rory said daring one of them to make a scene. He could tell in their eyes and their tone they didn’t approve. “Yasmine my parents Lowell and Jackie Devonshire.”

“Mr. and Ms. Devonshire it’s truly a pleasure to meet you both.” Yasmine also instantly felt the tension between Rory parents and her. When she saw Jackie waving at a stunning young woman she had long flowing blond hair. That had to be Brooke. She was so pretty and the way Jackie and Lowell ignored her hand, made her feel like a fool. As she looked at Rory she hardened her exterior.

“No need to be so damn rude. I was trying to say hello for some rich folk you sure don’t have no damn manners.”

Lowell snickered at Yasmine’s bravado looking at Jackie’s face she didn’t enjoy it as much as he did. “Rich folk very colorful conversation. Rory where did you find this one? Didn’t you learn anything from Steven. Never bring your dirt where you lay.”

“Dirt?” Yasmine said looking at Rory. She dropped his hand and looked at Lowell and Jackie up and down. “Neither of you could survive my life and you are the epitome of classless. Sticking your nose down at me won’t make you a better people.”

“Lowell.” Jackie chided looking at Yasmine and the horror on her youngest son’s face. Lowell had never been one to bite his tongue and as she stared up the girl up and down. She wasn’t from their world that was clear. “I think I see Tony has arrived shall we go say hello?” Jackie finished lifting her glass to her lips and taking a drink.

Rory was fairly certain he he was stifling steam coming out of his ears as he stared at his parents and their lack of grace and class for the evening. He could feel his hand shaking wanting to just stalk off but he knew better. This was for the children and a Devonshire never caused an uproar at something like this besides their PR would be all over that disaster. He pulled Yasmine close to her a move to solidify her and in many ways defy his parents.

“I found her at the college as for dirt father isn’t that what Bliss is or do you conveniently forget that. Oh wait are we not supposed to talk about that how you bent Tess Blisston over and knocked her up while married to mother.” Rory bit out watching his father’s face. He was so tired of being held to no regard. “Yasmine has showed more class than you have. I see Jamal excuse us.”

“Rory you can act like you aren’t from the upper crust but a swamp rat like this will truly only be after you for one reason. The millions behind your name. Trust me girls like this only want one thing. That’s how I got Bliss.” He took Jackie hand and walked around Yasmine. “Good day Jasmine you have a wonderful day.”

“It’s Yasmine you old bastard.” Yasmine said picking up a glass and hurling it at Lowell. It missed him because she’d never been the type to throw. Gina and Kendrick taught her because she was so beautiful her fist were needed.

Lowell turned around shocked at Yasmine boldness. As much as he hated to admit he liked it. The kid had moxy and wasn’t going to let him disrespect her. For a girl from the other side of the cuff he was impressed. “My apologies Yasmine.” He smirked as he tested everyone around him. Yasmine would be able to handle Rory life and maybe give his son some more. Out of all his kids Rory was the one he was most bored with. His son had no lust and for the first time he got it. He got it with this girl.

“I hope to see you again Yasmine.” Lowell had grew up struggling for everything and he saw the fight in her eyes and obvious confusion. “Finally Rory’s in the race Jackie.”

Jackie looked back over her shoulder at Rory and Yasmine. She didn’t know about Rory being on the race she didn’t understand her husband’s need to put all their children at the company. Taking a glass of champagne from the waiter she lifted it to her lips. “Well if e is and if he must hopefully he can teach her the finer things like not shopping at the local market for a gown.”

Rory watched his parents walk away towards the press and his lips curved upwards when Yasmine tossed a glass at them. The room had almost stopped when she did it even if she missed, he loved that about her. Even in the club she had what he liked to say was a backbone with people. He grinned pulling her close as he lead her to his best friend. Tapping Jamal’s shoulder he spoke.

“Dude where have you been the last few months. Did you just see my dad get handed here?” Rory said a smile on his face he wanted Yasmine in his life and his circle as he saw Jamal turn around. “Yasmine Kohl. Jamal Delacroix my best friend and someone who like me hates these fancy parties.”

Jamal looked up at the stunning beauty of Yasmine and almost choked. What was Rory doing bringing her here? As he saw Rachel moving toward them he felt himself croak out. “Hello, Yasmine nice to meet you.”

Yasmine stomach dropped. Selina Delacroix, Tony Delacroix as in that wealthy chef. He wasn’t from the hood of Philly he was right here from Atlas Falls. He was rich as hell and he wasn’t who he said he was. What type of game was this motherfucker playing? Did he not know bodies were starting to drop a mob war was here? Her stomach felt heavy.

“Nice to meet you too.” She shook his hand with disgust. “So Rory how long have you known Jamal? Ya’ll close?”

“Jamal and I grew up together he’s going to college too in business he minors in music.” Rory said taking an appetizer from the waitress and smiling at them. He honestly hadn’t had a lot of time with Jamal in the last few months. “We’re more like brothers aren’t we Jamal?”

“Our parents have pictures of us in the tub together if that tells you how close we are.” Jamal looked over at his parents watching him. What in the hell was going on? He looked at Rachel who approached them. “Rachel you know Rory and this is Yasmine.”

“Nice to meet you Jamal, and Rachel you two sweetie.” This dudes was crazy he was talking to the police chief daughter? Her eyes welled up in fury. Yasmine looked at Rory. “I don’t feel too good can we leave?”

“Yasmine I hope to see you again my best friend does not bring girls around. Believe me we are on the same side.” He said trying to to get her to understand.

Rachel approached Jamal and Rory and then did a double take when she saw her best friend on Rory’s arm holy hell when did that happen? Not that that was a bad thing hello he was Rory Devonshire she smiled extending her hand. She saw Yasmine’s face drained and played it cool with her.

“Pleasure to meet you.” Rachel said giving Jamal her best smile. “We should go say hello to your parents.”

Rory watched the exchange and then he became worried when Yasmine said she wasn’t feeling well was what happened with his parents too much for her? It was only their first date one that he hoped was the first of many but still. He knew she was nervous about the fundraiser about what she was wearing and the club.

“Come on I’ll take you home.” Rory said pulling Yasmine away and placing a hand on her back. “If you really want to leave I’ll take you home. We can get together tomorrow you can come over to my condo we can make a day of it.”

Jamal gritted his teeth as he pulled Rachel closer to him. He knew he was busted and nothing could keep him safe. Yasmine could expose him and everything he was working on would be gone. As he looked at Rory he felt a tinge of jealousy for the first time a woman chose Rory over him. Yasmine was a girl he wanted and his eyes glimmered as he looked at Rachel.

“Let’s dance?” He asked nodding at Brooke across the room. “Rachel we should go out more you should come see me.”

Rachel looked at Jamal and nodded her head at him as they went to the dance floor. Watching Rory lead Yasmine out of the party. She hoped her friend knew what she was doing the Devonshire’s ran this town.

“Watch out for him okay Rory? You don’t know him as well as you think.” Yasmine said walking out of the party.

Rory held her close as he escorted her out of the party there was no reason to stay his parents had obviously made her uncomfortable. He remembered his promise to himself not to let them pick for him he didn’t want to end up like Max or Chauncey. He asked the staff for their coats, placing hers on her before leading her back to his limo.

“I’ve known Jamal for years I know him pretty well. Let’s get you home alright and we can get together for dinner tomorrow. Take us to her place.” Rory said as he helped her into the car and then spoke to his driver. He pulled her close to him. “Don’t let my parents get to you they’re just trying to control what they can’t.”


Ophelia had waited until she knew that Jamal had left the condo to make her move her son was hiding something from her and she was going to find out what it was. She took out her key for the condo and went inside, she saw the lights were off and turned them on inside the living room she would start there. She wrapped her shawl around her, was it a girl that Jamal was seeing? His grades were slipping and while he was producing music with his music studies the grades slipping worried her not to mention what Selina said a few months ago. What was Jamal doing hanging out across town at Philip Montgomery’s club all the time? Yes she and Selina didn’t get along but she would like to think that they both wanted what was best for Jamal.

Bending over she ran her hands long the cushions going as far as to lift up the cushions only to find nothing underneath. She moved towards the kitchen looking carefully at the fridge and some of the various notes scribbled on it so far just classes and study groups. Surely there had to be something else she was missing as she stared at the dates and numbers on the fridge. She opened it and looked inside seeing that he was at least eating alright. She looked around the kitchen and the bill basket seeing his phone bill there and again nothing out of the ordinary. She knew he was avoiding her, avoiding his siblings and Tony.

Moving through the condo she went to the guest bedroom and bathroom the club was known to have drugs running through it, there had been patients brought in over the last few years into the hospital that had gotten drugs from the club. Opening up the bathroom closet she shuffled through a few baskets not finding anything other than over the counter pain meds. Crossing herself she thanked her lucky stars that she didn’t find any drugs bless her heart she loved Jackie. However, she knew Jackie had her hands full emotionally dealing with Jackson’s drug usage over the years. She didn’t think Jamal was that stupid if Mason wasn’t she knew they had raised their youngest right. She made her way to the bedroom, which felt like a huge invasion of privacy.

Over the years she and Tony had been pretty lenient when it came to their kids and privacy especially when the boys were older. Even when Jamal was a teenager she never had the urge to go through his room but she had validation this time. He was acting strange, had been for a few months and maybe the slipping grades wouldn’t or shouldn’t be a cause for concern. What was for her was the secrets he was keeping from the family, it was unlike him to pull away from her when they had been so close not to mention Mason. She also knew he was pulling away from Rory as well,, he and Rory had been best friends since birth so to her that was another alarm.

Opening up the master bedroom she was able to see out across the city one of the things Jamal’s trust fund had of course paid for. She had tried to instill not spending as much on Jamal, but she learned eventually she couldn’t help it, Tony had insisted. Plus not to mention that that when Mason and Selina were spending money and raised in the style that they had money she had relent and let Jamal spend. Walking into the master she went through the side tables not seeing anything inside and then checked the master bath, again there was nothing out of the ordinary. Taking a breath the only other place she could think of was to look in the closet. She flipped through the clothing seeing the higher end things and then the lower end of the clothing as well. Almost as if Jamal was trying to hide the fact he was a Delacroix.

Her hands worked quickly as she picked up shirts and folded pants, replacing them on the shelving and then she bent down looking at the shoes. Her foot bumped a Gucci box and it went flying into the closet the lid flying off. Cursing she bent down to put the lid back on and stared in horror at the sight before her. Why would Jamal need a 9mm handgun, the solid black gun stared back at her. Sure her kids had been around guns before for hunting and sport, it wasn’t like he needed the gun for protection here at the condos or at the mansion. Her hands were shaking as she held the lid and picked the box up before sitting down on the bench inside the closet pulling out her phone.

“Tony it’s me. I’m not at the country club, where are you?” Ophelia asked. “I need you to get to Jamal’s right away. It’s an emergency Tony. I found a gun.”

She waited a few moment and then hung up, when she heard Tony yell to his driver to turn the car around and head to Jamal’s condo. Cellphone in hand she rose from the bench staring at the gun in the box again, before pacing back and forth. How was this possible it wasn’t like Jamal knew criminals and surely they would have noticed a gun purchase on the trust fund had Tony known and just not told her? Jamal loved music and producing, an ill thought settled over her was he getting involved in the wrong crowd of people in college? Yes his degree was taking a little longer than Rory’s to complete but she and Tony had encouraged him to go to college wisely take breaks when he needed. She heard the condo door open and relief washed over her as she saw Tony enter the room.

“Thank god you are here.” Ophelia said as she watched her ex husband enter the bedroom and saw him look at the gun on the bed. The horror on his face as well as her own. “Do you have any idea why our son would need a gun? Let alone where he got it from?”

Tony had been on his way to the fundraiser when he saw the call from Ophelia he had picked up and now was glad he had done so. The words I found a gun were etched in his head the entire way to his youngest sons condo. Yes he knew that something was going on with Jamal he had been pulling away from the entire family. He and Ophelia had been putting off an intervention but now it was clear that they needed to have a family meeting. He had seen interventions in the past not go well. Not to mention all of this happening right before Selina’s wedding. In truth he had been wondering if his daughter had cold feet.

Walking through the condo he took in the view of the city why would Jamal need a gun he lived in a secure building and it wasn’t like he had to want for anything. On the outside he appeared as normal as any young college student minus the fact his condo was paid for. Jamal was brilliant and smart and now looking at his ex-wife’s face that seemed to be frozen in fear he swallowed hard. How had they gone so wrong with Jamal? Was he involved in drugs or something else? Perhaps he felt threatened at school that was the reason he wanted a gun, but even then his kids knew better.

“I came as soon as I could. Where did you find it?” Tony said walking to her and hugging her, that alone for him was familiar and he was filled with a sense of longing. He had tried to move on from her over the years but never could seem to and their meeting after Steven died only reaffirmed that. “No I have no idea how he would have got it or why he needs it.”

“In the closet in a Gucci box, I was looking for drugs I was terrified he was turning out to be Jackson. This is serious Tony.” Ophelia said looking at her ex her hands shaking as she took a seat on the bed and sent a text to Brenda telling her she would be late to the dinner.

“Why would Jamal do drugs?” Tony asked still looking at the gun and then at Ophelia one of the things they had to deal with was the Devonshire’s and Jackson’s drug use had nearly spiraled into their family when he and Mason were in college. Mason had been smart enough to never touch that shit. “I know what you said about him hanging out at the club but a lot of kids go there.”

“Yes a lot of kids do Tony but I also know a lot kids we see come into the hospital scored there. Let me not even get into it’s city gossip that is where people like Jackson go to score because heaven forbid they be seen in the Scottswood area. I want to talk to Jamal about this gather me and you, Mason and Selina.” Ophelia said staring at him she wanted answers and wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on with her son and if it meant having Selina in the same room so be it. She saw Tony look at her at the suggestion of inviting Selina. “I’ll retract my claws because this is for our son Tony and maybe I should have listened when she came to me.”

“Let’s not jump on the Jamal is involved in the drug game until we know all our facts.” Tony said looking at her. He felt his own hand shaking as they spoke this would be that defining moment for their family. “When do you want to do it? We can’t have it happen tonight with the dinner the press would be atrocious not to mention how badly it will effect the wedding.”

“I agree I don’t want to ruin the hospital’s night and despite how much sometimes Jackie and I don’t get along this is a very important function. I want you to promise me if we all feel Jamal lies or won’t tell us you’ll reach out to Devin.” Ophelia said even though Devin Thompson was Tony’s nephew and they had very few family dinners together. Devin was a detective at the police department and could go where Tony and she could no with finding out what was going on with Jamal. “For Jamal Tony. You can put aside what is between your sister and you for your son.”

“Let’s see what Jamal has to say in the meantime I’ll take the gun back with me to the estate we can invite the kids over for brunch and then go from there. I will call Devin if he’s still being defiant about it. He has to have an explanation Ophelia.” Tony said taking out his handkerchief and grabbing the gun. He walked into the kitchen and placed it in a paper bag. “Put the box back in the closet, we can deal with this tomorrow as a family. He’ll be at the fundraiser tonight or he said he was coming so we at least know he’s not out wandering the streets with this on him.”

Ophelia nodded her head at him as she took the box, replaced the lid and then put the box back into the closet with the rest of his clothing. She prayed that Tony was right and between now and tomorrow Jamal wouldn’t need it or feel the need to look for it. She walked back out to the living room and walked to the front door opening it. She turned the lock as she and Tony stepped outside.

“Let me have my driver give you a ride to the fundraiser.” Tony said watching his ex go around the condo and put things back into order. He knew she had to of taken a cab her condo had no parking and she liked to take the subway for for. She drove sometimes on the weekend and they were going to the same function there was no reason for her to take a separate car in his mind.

“You don’t have to Tony I can call a cab.” Ophelia said once they reached the elevators. She let him enter and pressed the button.

“Absolutely not don’t be silly.” Tony said placing the bag between them. He saw her lip upturn at the sentence and then took her hand. “It will be alright Ophelia I promise we will find out what Jamal is into.”


Mason arrived at the fundraiser after stopping by the office to do some research for Selina when she had called about Chauncey and Maddie. He had texted Scarlett to tell her that he would meet her at the fundraiser when it happened. They still had to keep up appearances, he avoided Simon when he entered the room and his eyes scanned the room for Selina. Between Selina’s request and finally finding what he needed for Hunter he felt work was going well, after tonight he could get Hunter’s paperwork in order with Max and then move on to his next order of business. He needed to have Simon look into his brother a favor that had been on his mind all day he was worried about Jamal. Of course Simon was pressuring him about Scarlet but his mind was so cluttered with Jamal to really even be bothered. He saw Selina sitting at her table and was relieved when Chauncey was gone.

“I got your message. Legally I looked into it Selina this there aren’t a lot of preceding cases to go off of. Honestly the Jensen’s would have a better claim to legal custody over Maddie than you would. Not that I wouldn’t fight tooth and nail for you to have her but biologically speaking is what judges look for in this type of a case.” Mason said lowering his voice just to make sure gossip would start the wedding for his sister was coming up. Even if Selina didn’t want to marry Chauncey were was no sense in spreading gossip. “Is Chauncey having an affair again? You’ve put up with so much from him don’t keep doing this to yourself.”

Selina was wearing a skin tight silk and leather gown. She’d had Frederico add extensions to her hair which draped down her back. Covering her bare back as she slowly twirled the champagne glass in her hand. She absorbed Mason’s words wondering if she screamed would anyone even hear her? Slowly picking up her train as she nodded for them some privacy. She looked at her brother in his eyes refusing to cry or shed a tear. Nodding her head trying to grasp what she was about to say. She saw Maddie dancing with Lowell her face warmed. A exhaled feeling exhausted as she touched her diamond necklace.

“I see that you haven’t lost your idealistic thoughts. Our fight would be fruitless but I won’t lose Maddie. If we fall apart today I will have her.” Wiping her eyes as she looked at Mason. “In business what I’m planning on doing is the shadiest. I’m going to get Chauncey to sign the adoption papers and I’m leaving.” Selina said looking at her brother’s eyes. “I just need this to get past Simon somehow. I don’t know how but he’s a pitbull with a bone and always ready to attack. I have to get her because he’s about to do it again. He’s about to hurt me again because honestly were just like Max and Hunter. Forced and not real because she’s dying do you not see her? She’s dead inside and lonely and hurt and confused Max is going through so much and none of us see it because she was forced into love. I won’t be and I’m going to get the last laugh for once Mason.” Her crystal talon nails nails wiped away a tear.

“I’m getting my daughter and I’m getting him back for the tears I’ve cried. This time he won’t make a fool of me watch me.” Selina said knowing Mason shocked face was all she needed. “Now I need you to tell me when you see Braden. It’s my time Mason mine.”

Mason hated to see his sister like this honestly she deserved so much more than Chauncey. She was always happier with Braden and his eyes scanned the room for Simon honestly he could hide this from him. He wasn’t even sure he and Simon were together anymore frankly there was so much tension there. He was never as proud of his sister as he was in that moment her standing her ground with her value. Her strength was something he had always admired about his sister.

“You know not everyone at DGI supports Chauncey there are people there that would help you with this. I don’t want you to end up like Max or hell me to end up like Hunter.” Mason said quietly looking at his sister and feeling guilty he loved Simon but he had to be with Scarlett. Coming out would kill his father destroy their family and he couldn’t do that not now. Not after what Selina just told him. “Who are you having file the papers? I can do it you could also call up the handsome DA that walked in with his parents to do it.”

“You can file the papers I just need to get them drawn up asap.” She touched her brother’s arm. “He reached out to me and fear stopped me once again. And for better or worse I will hurt him the way he did me. I’ve been everything for that damn man and he once again makes me feel like I’m not enough. I won’t be second to another woman not again and I won’t be Chauncey’s puppet any longer.” Selina knew that Mason was about to do something very underhanded for her but she deserved it. She was about to show Chauncey and DGI she wasn’t to be toyed with.

“I’m asking you to help me with this.” She saw Braden enter with Talia Rose on his arm. How did it get like this? How did she get so lost to what she wanted. Turning around swiftly she touched her belly as if she’d gotten a cramp. Looking at Braden she almost started to weep. “I pushed him away and look at what I’m going to do. Mason I’m going to pull apart Dylan and his life. I’m going to change Maddie’s life. I just need you to get me those papers.”

“I’ll file them first thing in the morning just remember that once Chauncey figures it out there will be hell to pay. I will say I’m proud of you playing your part though it’s killing you. Dad isn’t going to take this well at all even though I know he wants you to be happy too.” Mason said looking at his sister, he knew she was tired of being Chauncey’s support system to get nothing in return and at least she was coming to her senses now about it. Their father was going to be beyond disappointed when the wedding didn’t happen.

“You know I will help you with this but he would have too Braden’s never been a fan of Chauncey Devonshire. I don’t think your are ripping anyone’s life apart. If you pushed Braden away he knows how you feel about him.” Mason said looking. At his sister clutching her stomach the anxiety she was probably feeling. His hand went to her shoulder and squeezed it. “Even if he is here with Talia. You and I both know if he knew what you were doing he’d be on your side in a heartbeat.”

Selina sauntered to the bar and grabbed a club soda as she poured herself a glass. Taking a deep breath she looked at her love. How could she just hurt and leave Braden like that? Slowly moving her bang from her eye she smiled. “I’ll be okay hey I think Scarlett just arrived go ahead I’ll be out there.” Never thinking about how her father would flip out about her little plan. He wouldn’t be pleased but her father had broke her heart when he moved on to Ophelia. It was high time he felt the return.

“I just need a second and do me a favor Mason, you seem stressed baby brother whatever it is. Let it go because our lives are too short to not do what makes us happy you understand me?” Selina grabbed her brother hand looking into his eyes. “I love you deeply baby bro.”

“I think for now Scarlett is under control and she’s pissed at me. I don’t want to leave you alone right now.” Mason said looking at his sister he wanted to protect her from the world even if she was older and he was younger she didn’t deserve Chauncey’s shit. Looking around the room he saw Simon look at him and took a breath. “At least you’re not stuck in the obligation love triangle from hell. Simon’s pissed at me too but what am I supposed to do you know?”

Mason too a drink of his champagne wondering how he was going to bring up Jamal something was bothering their little brother and he was worried about him. His jaw ticked a bit if he was going to bring it up he would now. “Something is bothering Jamal I want to get together and talk to him as a family about it. I feel like he is hiding something.”

“I know he looks so stressed lately.” As she looked at Jamal from across the room. Her eyes gazed on Mason as she gripped his hand. The relationship between Mason and her ran deeply. As she gripped his hand tightly. Simon and Scarlett were running her brother ragged. She’d be glad when Mason faced their father and faced his sexuality so he could stop wearing all these masks. It had to be exhausting. As she looked at Jamal shaking her head.

“Something is off and we are to damn rich not to find out what in the world it is.” Selina said looking at Mason. “Hell what better way to keep Simon off your trail than to put him on our baby brother? What the matter? You are going to have to get your hands dirty in this plan and using your long time boyfriend happens to be apart of it. Plus Jamal is into something and we’ve seen Jackson crash and burn.” She said softly so she looked into his eyes. “It isn’t drugs what’s wrong with him. You two are close?”

“I was thinking that I would have Simon look into it. I don’t want to alarm Jamal he was nervous when he came to see me. I’m really worried about him and I know you don’t like Ophelia but maybe we need a family meeting.” Mason said wanting to let Selina know that right now he was worried about their little brother. They needed to have an intervention with him in order to rebuild their family something was going on.

“He was going on and on about the money the other night it was kinda weird to be honest like he’s never complained about it before. Simon is doing all this shit for Lowell too that he doesn’t like, I’m sure he will if I ask him too.” Looking at her and then over at Jackson yes he had seen his friend crash and burn many times. He didn’t want a repeat with Jamal he never wanted to see that with his baby brother. “I’ll ask Simon I don’t want him to end up like Jackson. I don’t think it is drugs he’s not showing those signs.”

“Exactly.” Selina said folding her arms. “What is it if it’s not drugs though? Listen I’m going to go talk to Ophelia and I will be civil and share my concerns. How about we all corner him tomorrow at his condo. I told myself I need to spend some time with him. Our little brother didn’t ask to be born to that woman.” She hissed slow watching her dad and Ophelia walking around the party. She couldn’t believe she was still using the Delacroix name. She shouldn’t have the right and daddy shouldn’t be stooping so low with that bitch again.

“You don’t think they are getting back together again? He would embarrass himself like that again. She was so young all those years ago. I know she pretends that it was a mistake but I don’t believe her at all.” Selina slowly folded her arms. “I hate Ophelia and she thinks she can step into my mother’s life. No that’s not happening he can move on but not with that tramp. Not after she disrespected him like that before. I’m not having it.”

“Keep the claws in will you? I doubt they’re back together I’m sure dad is just being nice for Jamal.” Mason said watching his father and Ophelia in the room they had always been civil and he wasn’t sure his father ever forgave her for David. He doubted they were back together. “Agreed we meet tomorrow at the condo stage something. I have to go find Simon and for the record Chauncey looks like he’s about to piss himself. Maybe he’s getting his just desserts from both angles you and Jackson this time and it serves him right.”

“He has no clue what’s coming for him.” Selina slowly wrapped her brother in a hug. “I’m wide awake to him. For once Chauncey is about to feel the sting of what I’m about to do to him. I hope it hurts so bad it haunts him when he sleeps and I hope he can’t eat. I hope for once he learns a valuable lesson. From a woman he’s betrayed so many times.”


Chauncey watched Selina across the ballroom while he spoke to a few investors honestly though his mind was on Greer. He had been looking for her all night long given their encounter earlier he did hope she showed. He saw Selina talking to Mason and knew he should walk over it was what an about to be married man would do. Instead his eyes scanned the room for Jackson it had been far too long since they spoke. When he saw his brother at the bar watching Dani across the room he knew it was his chance to rub salt on old wounds. His brother was a known cheater something he probably got from their father and well Jackson never valued anything when he had it. Plus not to mention Jackson had been far too stable since he came home and began sleeping and being with Dani and he couldn’t have that.

“Shouldn’t you be over there with your new beloved? She looks quite ravishing though honestly bored out of her mind with her family. I should go say hello to her ask her for a dance.” Chauncey said watching his brother’s gaze the slight anger pass over Jackson’s face. He signaled the bartender for another drink lifting his glass. “Oh don’t look at me like that care for her? We both know that’s not true little brother that’s not who you are. Right now she’s just your plaything. You don’t actually care about her we both know that. When the fun stops when she wants something more we be both know how that ends. It’s what leads them to the arms of other men or did you forget that?”

“You truly know nothing about me because you’ve stopped caring years ago. When I became a convenient way to continue to get father’s approval.” Jackson said wondering what did he do to be blessed with the honor of his elder brother presence. He’d like to be civil with Chauncey but that was too much to ask him. He’d understood that now that he was involved in DGI, he was a threat but to try to shake his relationship. Wait was this what he was having with Dani? Tonight had transformed him into some drama. As he gritted his teeth he leaned back sipping his drink.

“Tell me do you get off on being a ass to me? You know Maddie and me talked the other day she’s sometimes scared to speak with you. I count on you to know that I’m no longer playing the competition game. Whatever you want I’m not in the mood to play so Chauncey go away. Or matter fact there is your fiance she looks distressed. It still fails me on how Selina a smart and stunning woman fell for you. To be honest my relationship with Dani isn’t the Devonshire or your business. I am for once finding a peace and you or father or her father or anyone else isn’t snatching that away. So just so you know she isn’t a playtoy she’s someone who I care about.”

“I know everything about you Jackson especially how you like your ladies. You see the thing is I have father’s approval I’m the one marrying Tony’s daughter, I’m the one with the best image at the company.” Chauncey said taking the drink from the bartender as he took a long drink watching Jackson be riled up, of course it was a public party for charity hardly the place for a scene. “I doubt you’ll ever have his approval in the way you want. You’d actually have to be trying for that to happen and I’m not buying your new little show. You may have father fooled you and Dani whispering in his ear that you have changed but I’m not buying it.”

“I don’t get off on being an ass to you I just know who you are. When you have kids then you can lecture me about parenting. Selina loves me something you can’t understand, even if a woman offered you that kind of love I don’t think you’d ever return it.” Chauncey sneered at him looking at Jackson his brother honestly cared about Dani it showed in his tone. Swirling his drink around for a bit he spoke again. “If you cared about her so much you’d be over there she looks distressed as you so kindly pointed out about Selina. Instead of brooding in a corner scared her daddy’s going to find out? What about her when she feels for you Jackson and you toss her aside? Do I need to remind you of Esme? How she begged me to fuck her when you began to sleep with Skye? How Skye begged Jon to fuck her? I do wonder who Dani will go to when that time comes, then again would it even bother you? The look on your face when you knew it was me she was fucking for months was worth everything.”

“You have to be the worst thing that has ever happened to me. To think that you are in line to replace our father. I guess slime does supersede slime. To get his grand approval is that all you live for? To try and eventually replace father oh Chauncey you’ll never be daddy because unlike him you can’t keep your fucking conquest secrets.” Jackson barked at his brother never actually raising his voice. “As for Esme she’s always been a whore who loved the clout and I understand that you always want what’s mine. Stop pretending you don’t because if Skye spread her legs for you, you would have fucked her.” Smoothly running his hand through his hair as he leaned back in his chair.

“You know your problem you’ve never crossed a line. You’re either goodie or fucking up just like me. Let’s not pretend that Maddie was a planned pregnancy nor was your grand love affair with Logan. Don’t you look perfect on your high horse? The single father who let the beautiful and vibrant Selina Delacroix raise his daughter. A ready made family however I know your secrets? You crave to be like me and dad. You crave to take a risk but you have yet to do it. I at least go all out so you know what I wonder Chauncey? When will you not be second in their eyes. You see the disappointment they have for me is because I’m the one they expected. With Dani I can be what they expect and thus the approval comes.” Jackson sneered back as he raised his glass.

“I am in line or have you forgotten that, right now you have nothing to you Jackson nothing. You’ve been chasing daddy’s approval since you got high the first time wasn’t it in high school? Unlike father no I don’t hide them they’re a part of me just like the many women you’ve fucked and used are a part of you.” Chauncey said his anger at his brother rising, he had balls he’d give his baby brother that much. Esme was quite the conquest and he was more than happy to bed her, he craved that humiliating Jackson that way Esme was a gold digger had been since she was sniffing after his baby brother. “Who’s to say I didn’t fuck Skye she was apparently willing with anyone including Jon Harrison.”

“No Maddie was never planned but I love her and you don’t know anything about me or Logan, she died no we weren’t together long enough to really enjoy anything. Selina loves me, loves Maddie and since you’re incapable of actually feeling that towards a woman you will never understand what that truly means.” Chauncey said he took a sip of his drink looking directly across the room at Dani and then back at his brother. Her eyes looked sad at his brother and he could tell she wasn’t having a good time. “You know your problem Jackson this time you picked the wrong woman to fuck with Dani Fraiser isn’t going to play your games. You see when you hurt her like you are right now ignoring her at a party when you just tried to convince me you care about her, she’ll grow tired of it. Just like if I were to go to her now and ask her if she would like to go home. I’d take her home, fuck her and then I’d tell her daddy about it the secret DGI whore that she has become. You’ll toss her aside you always do your approval will disappear again.”

“You know nothing about what I feel for Dani and the fire I feel for her. What I want with her and you never will. You see you are dead inside and don’t underestimate me big brother. I’m about to step out of your shadow and for once you are scared. I’m not and I’m so ready to be better than you. In every way and you are correct I know nothing about Logan but neither did you. I can love and your jedi mind tricks won’t work. I deserve happiness and I can have the high I’ve never had. Our father’s approval. You’ve done your worst Chauncey. You lose this time and I won’t back down this time. It’s on and I’m going to be your worst nightmare. Sober Jackson with a woman who is respectable that will never betray me. You are going to lose and I can’t wait to hear father’s approval at our next meeting. What is it you do again Chauncey? Besides kiss our fathers ass?” Slowly standing up he patted his brother on the shoulder.

“You did give me one good piece of advice. I shouldn’t be brooding, I should be going to get my girl. You are one miserable soul to feed off my pain but I guess that’s all you’re good at. Being jealous of the next man and never quite satisfied with what you have. I know this is a shock Chauncey but you don’t hurt me anymore. And one last thing if you ever call Dani a whore again I’ll knock your teeth down your throat. Goodnight Chauncey and tell Selina she’s a much braver soul than I. Laying in the bed with a snake like you she’s bound to be bitten by you.” Jackson said with a snide smirk on his face.

Chauncey looked at his little brother and tried to gauge if it was a game or not Jackson couldn’t actually be in love with her, he’d been through how many women? None of them stuck then again his brother didn’t look at them like he had been Dani. In truth he was scared Jackson always had the potential it was probably why mother favored him like she did. He doubted his brother could actually stay clean even now though honestly he’d been more functional and focused his eyes not glassed over. He looked at Dani pushing past her family and looked at his baby brother his own smirk on his face.

“I know that you’re incapable of actually telling someone how you feel. Her included hell you rarely show it. I’m not dead I just know how to play the game better than you do. You keep chasing that high see how far it gets you, you’ll self implode all on your own this time.” Chauncey said rising from his seat and stopping as his eyes met Greer’s a smirk on his lips, he wanted her and he would have her sooner or later Zerick be damned. Selina was still mad at him he could tell from the way she was shooting him daggers. He and Selina had an understanding just like Max and Hunter did, they needed the marriage for DGI. “Well you better go chase your Cinderella down before she leaves. Love her we’ll see now won’t we when the time comes? As you just said game on may the best man for the job win.”

“To bad you’re not a man still a boy trying to upstage and beat me.” Jackson said walking away knowing he’d shown a fearless side he’d never shown before. Was he in love? Well to be honest he’d never truly felt like this. They were happy and any moment away from Dani he was thinking of her. The little things she did impressed him so much. Her laugh was intoxicating to him. The way she moved her lips turned him on. Everything she did was fascinating. He loved how she claimed her stake with Merci and she was running all at once. Jackson wasn’t one to say love but what was this. The more he thought about it the more confused he got.

Was he worthy? Could he sustain a healthy relationship? Would she stay by him during his highs and lows? That was a risk he’d take turning to see Dani he smiled at her. He was worthy and he was going to get her. Jackson pulled out his phone texting Dani telling her to meet him at the house tonight. They needed a moment just to them and the truth.

Don’t make a big deal when the night is over meet me at the stables I want to see u asap. I’m not mad about this Lex guy. I want the truth but slip out and I’ll see you soon.

Slipping his phone in his pocket he smoothly walked to Bliss and few other investors never taking his eyes off her.


Scarlett looked around the living room that was now silent and empty since Zach and Mason had left, getting up from the couch she began to pace who could have followed her. There were only two options Simon or Dante one of them had crossed her, there were other possibilities of course but she doubted they would be that daring and her secrets were buried. She and her mother had worked hard to ensure that was the case. Her mother had taught her everything she needed to know about revenge and how to extract it on your enemies. Her mother was stellar at it, had eradicated those in society that stood in her way in town over the years. Years ago her name was feared and in some ways it still was, taking a sigh she moved to the window to look over the city.

There was something about Atlas Falls that would always be home to her, she looked at the clock she had a few minutes till she had to be at the charity dinner. If her mother wasn’t on the hospital board she would skip it however appearances had to be kept. Much like the Devonshire’s the Nichols’s went every year made a hefty donation and smiled for the cameras and make small talk with the politicians. Something they did every year she could practically do it in her sleep she should be up and getting her Birkin bag to leave tonight but her mind was elsewhere. It was on the photos and the dead bird that was delivered earlier honestly it was bothering her.

She turned on her heel and went back into the master bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror in her red cocktail dress, her fingers ran over her stomach wondering if her figure would change all that much. Of course if she wanted she could jump up the timeline and let Zach know but as her mother always told her play your cards right. Right now she needed to know who was stalking her and to figure that out first, from there she could let her cards fall. Mason wouldn’t know what had hit him and the irony of that made her lips curve. A gay black man with a pregnant fiance, Tony would be ecstatic and well Mason would have to make a choice come out or marry her. She hoped it would be him coming out, she wanted Zach all to herself and she was tired of playing second to Simon Rutherford. Dante however would be a problem, she looked at the time she had to leave to make it to the fundraiser. The knock on the front door had her setting her makeup brush down and straightening her hair.

Walking to the door she looked through the peephole and didn’t see anyone and then frowned before she opened the door. On the step was a bouquet of red roses and a lovely white wrapped chocolate box from See’s with gold ribbon. Could it be that Zach had changed his mind about his assumptions about Dante? Had he finally come to his senses? She picked up the dozen red roses and looked at the card which had her name typed it along with the simple word forgive. If it was from Zach of course she would forgive him it was only right she was carrying his baby after all. She picked up the box which she thought was exquisite the paper alone was gorgeous. With faint silver and gold swirls it looked so romantic, she had time to open it before she had to leave. It wasn’t like she had anything she had to do at the fundraiser other than drop off her check.

She grabbed a vase from the cabinets in the dining room to place the flowers in and smiled at the card again. Walking to the kitchen sink she filled the vase with water and then put the red roses inside. Once she went to the box, she saw another note in a longer envelope. She unwrapped the gold ribbon on the box and held off on opening it until she read the note, such a thoughtful gift and if Zach was apologizing she wanted to read his words. Of course she would appreciate the gift no matter what it was if it was from Zach. Her fingers went under the seam of the envelope using the letter opener seemed so impersonal and she wanted to remember this moment. The moment that she had won when it came to Mason and Zach, the moment that Dante was out in the cold. Opening up the letter she unfolded the paper.

Dearest Scarlett,

Forgiveness is not for those that have done something so wicked. Only for those that are pure of heart. Please accept mine to you and ponder yours as you enjoy your gift.


So sweet. She placed the letter down on the counter and then began carefully tearing the paper she wanted to enjoy what was inside the box. The thrill that she was winning overcame her in those moments, that Mason would look like a fool to his father. That Dante would be left out in the cold while his fashion line launched and she had Zach at her side. Her life would be where she needed it to be and the sacrifices that she had made to get there all the work she had done. The sacrifices she was now going to have to make, her hand stopped on the paper and she placed it on her belly, yes sacrifices.

Lifting the box slowly she removed the gold tissue paper, smelling the chocolate along with a strange odor and what she saw horrified her to the point her hand went to cover her mouth as she screamed. Maggots were inside the box, the smell from opening the lid finally got to her, she suppressed the urge to vomit. Her free hand went into the kitchen drawer by her side and she grabbed a pen. Moving the maggots around the box she finally saw what it was they were feeding on. A finger, decomposed from the ground and she turned her head away to repress another urge. Her eyes zoned in however on the pink pearl ring on the finger, she knew that ring. It was her sisters she had given it to her at the funeral placed it on her finger.

Her hands were shaking as she reached into the drawer again and grabbed the tongs fighting off the maggots to grab the finger. When she lifted it from the box, the ring slid easily off and clattered on the granite countertop. Grabbing a tupperware from the upper cabinets she took the box placing it on the counter. Picking up the tongs again she placed the ring and the finger inside. Holding her nose she went to the kitchen sink dumping the chocolates and the maggots inside. Turning on the water she turned on the garbage disposal as the sound of the chocolates hitting the blades and the squish of the maggots blending together. She turned off the faucet a few moments later and wiped at her face realizing she was bawling in the horror of everything that had happened.

It had been years since she thought of her older sister Veronica five years ago on the boat, that day still brought her to tears. The entire family had been devastated at the time her sister’s fiance Philip Montgomery had been horrified in his grief, of course Veronica’s friends rallied and did out of character things afterwards. Max got married to Hunter, Skye fell into drugs and booze everything changed at home for her too. Her father spent more hours at DGI which lead to his heart attack over two years ago. Her mother took over until she came into her father’s seat. Ilsa her older sister left Atlas Falls to start over. Life as she knew it ceased for her family with the death of her sister.

Taking a few steps back she sat down on the couch her hand trembling as it covered her lips and she wiped at her face. Veronica’s finger and ring delivered to her front door sent a chill down her spine. Her arms wrapped around herself before she felt the urge to vomit again and then ran down the hallway to the bathroom. Thankfully she made it to the toilet in time and afterwards she grabbed a tissue wiping her mouth. The sobs continuing to come as she flushed. Her entire body felt cold, she closed her eyes knowing the stress wasn’t good for the baby or the plan. That was what was important, she was going to find out who was doing this to her. Find them and destroy them into nothing.


Zach saw his cousins, his parents, his family and friends. Holding Dante’s hand he looked at his lover and knew this was right. Tonight was about burying the past on the entire mess he got himself in with Scarlett. It was over and for once he was going to move forward. Letting go of Dante’s hand, he playfully winked ate his fiance. As he looked at everyone he walked up to a waiter and swiftly spun around taking a glass of champagne. He stood on a chair making sure he got everyone’s attention. When he was younger he truly didn’t know how to feel about his sexuality. It was truly a burden in the Fraiser family. It wasn’t until Brock told him to be himself was he came into his own. Man or woman he was into love. As a cop he was masculine and refused to be the stereotypical gay man. However tonight was a declaration to the man he loved.

“I just have to first apologize for embarrassing the hell out of my uncle Walter Fraiser. The soon to be mayor of Atlas Falls come on people give him a round!” Zach roared as the room applauded on cue and he watched his uncle bask in the glow of the sunlight. “Now onto me because I want to tell you something. Every last one of you! I’m engaged to the most amazing man and I want my family to know! You see I’m about to marry Dante Gonzalez.” He heard cheers from Braden in the background and clapping all around. “I love you baby and I’m going to make you so happy.”

Dante immediately walked to Zach and kissed him the room exploded again into coos of affection. As he wiped Zach’s lips he looked at Walter’s face and saw the disgust. It was clear the man was a bigot. Not that Zach’s father looked too much happier. His mother was crying she was no doubt excited about a wedding. How he wished his pal Lucy could be here. Zach’s sister was like his other half. If he could compare it to any it was Braden and Dani. As he folded his arms around Dani he felt himself smile.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” He gleamed showing her the ring as he saw Lauren approaching him. “I’m so in love with him Dani.” Dante said seeing Ronan smirking across the room. This was the inside track on how to possibly get away from Ronan. “I want to make all you beautiful ladies dresses to my wedding. None of you are upstaging me. You all will wear pastels.” He teased as he smiled. “Girl stop staring so hard at him you letting him know everything.” Dante laughed seeing Lauren stiffen he gagged harder. “Oh senorita Lauren oh mami you angry about them? Please I think it’s cute. You deserve to smile again Dani and don’t let nobody take that away from you. And you wrong so wrong.”

“Shut up queen.” Lauren barked rolling her eyes. “My daughter knows she’s a Fraiser and if she wants to remain a Fraiser she will stay away from the Devonshire’s. Like that.”

“Momma got fangs. Well how do you plan on keeping a grown ass woman apart from that sexy ass man. I’m engaged not blind.” He pointed at Dani’s smirking face.

“By getting her to quit her job.” Lauren said looking at Dani. “Please baby this will start world war three!”

Zach approached his uncle and cousin. His father was helping get his mother together she was so happy. He walked up to them. “So public was the way to go. Sorry uncle Walter I thought getting the gay vote would cinch you in for that win. With or without an opponent.”

Walter watched the engagement and forced a smile his nephew was right with that it would secure the gay vote. When he was younger he knew being gay was taboo it was a different time he never understood the appeal. He watched the family accept the proposal watched his children embrace their cousin. His face fell a bit when Dante and Lauren though began in on his daughter, looking at her watching Jackson. He shook his head she wasn’t that dumb or naive and Christ was the boy looking back?

“I am sure you and Mr. Gonzales will be very happy.” Walter said seeing his brother with his sister in law he walked towards them keeping a cautious eye on his daughter. Watching her body language, her eyes dear Lord she was hiding something. She wouldn’t do that sleep with Lowell’s son to spite him. He watched Jackson looking at her too and took another glass of champagne from a waiter before turning his attention to Zach’s parents.

Always a bridesmaid never a bride that stung years later Miranda and then Whitney. Her friends and family, starting families of their own while she kept getting trampled on Dani was happy for Zach she really was but it stung. She couldn’t get someone to stay with her. Let alone get the man she was seeing to remotely act interested in her at a party thanks to her mother earlier. Jackson would leave her she was used to it by now with men. Honestly she wanted a stiff drink at this point in the evening. The moment her job came up and seeing her father talking to her uncle. She looked at her mother defiantly.

“I’m really happy for you both you two deserve this. No.” Dani bit out seeing the horror on her mother’s face she was done. She loved her job, she loved her family but right now she wanted to be with Jackson more. “I’m not quitting that would give you and dad both way too much satisfaction. For your information who I share a bed with is really none of your business but since you want to press it. Fine I’m seeing Jackson and I’m not stopping in fact get used to it. Lex can crawl into a fucking hole and die for all I care. I hate him and the fact that you’d even want me to take him back after everything he did to me tells me you guys never wanted me happy. You just wanted votes and to help dad and Charles win seats.”

Braden had been with Talia when he saw it happen and his heart sank he looked at his sister and then across the room at Jackson. Shit she was in love with him his mind was whirling as he saw the horror on his mother’s face. His sister never looked at Lex like that like how he used to look at Selina. Saw Dante and Zach smile at his sister always strong he loved that about her. Lex was his sisters ugly monster hell who had Dani called when things collapsed Zach and Dante not him. Not their parents she was too ashamed, too hurt and humiliated. He got up from his chair with Talia and approached his mother, Dani, Zach and Dante thankfully his father was still conversing with his uncle.

“Hey lets just be happy for Zach and Dante alright.” Braden said seeing the hurt in his mother’s face and his sisters. Dani wasn’t backing down it was all in her eyes and he wondered if it even mattered their father told her she was disowned in anger of course but still. “No one said you can’t be happy just not with him. Mom’s trying because she doesn’t want him hurting you like Lex did.”

Lauren nodded as she looked at her eldest with a warm smile. “Oh baby watching you spin because of Lex hurt. It hurt so badly.” She said kissing her daughter’s cheek. “God knows if I could take the pain of what will happen from what could come from you and Jackson I would.” Her voice above a whisper.

“What big poppa going to get mad? Please let’s not make poppa mad hell he’s pissed at Zach’s big declaration. So let’s be real shall we? She’s grown and she can be in love or like or whatever she’s doing.” Dante said looking at them.

Zach noticed Dani’s disappointment and felt like it wasn’t her time. Watching her, Whitney and Ryan, and Talia have full lives. He was always stuck but he’d chosen and Dante won out. As he wrapped Dante into his body. Kissing his cheek as Lucy’s face flashed into his head. “I miss my sister. Don’t tell Kelsey that because you guys know she’s a dictator. I thought Brock was coming Braden?” He asked as he saw his uncle Walter’s face. “He’s not happy huh?”

Dani looked at her mother Lex still hurt even when it shouldn’t, the drinking the not leaving Zach or Dante’s condo for weeks. She honestly didn’t care anymore it was like an albatross around her neck and the only one who took that away was Jackson who thanks to her mother was ignoring her. “Jackson’s not Lex. I don’t care anymore tell dad to do his worst he already did when he told me to go back to him. Excuse me Zach, Dante I’ll see you later I need some air.” Pushing past her family she moved from the table to the bar right now she’d rather drown in a glass for the evening and go home.

“Dani.” Braden said watching her push past them and fight back the tears. He wasn’t sure who she was trying to convince herself or everyone else that Jackson wasn’t going to hurt her. He looked at his cousin and Dante before looking at Talia this was a mess and now she knew his entire family put on happy faces half the time. Especially his sister and he knew the one she would reach out to or talk to was Zach. “Brock said he was coming he’d be late. Keep an eye on her will you Zach? I promised this fine young lady a dance. Mom you should probably keep close to dad.”

“I have your father.” Lauren said as she looked at Talia. “Welcome to the Fraiser’s and all our dysfunctions dear. I’m sorry you have to be apart of this.” She walked to Walter as she knew it was a secret that was about to explode on her hands.

“I love you Dante.” Zach whispered into his fiance ear. “I will Braden I have her just let her breathe okay. You enjoy that beautiful woman on your side dude go dance.”

“Sí she’s fierce enjoy your date.” Dante said as he kissed Zach. “I love you too.”

Talia smiled at Braden as she nodded. “I don’t argue with gays honey they are always right. They keep me up on the cute shoes especially that one. Dante is exceptional at his job and I think we should skip the credit conversation. I’m maxed out and I think I deserve a dance after the engagement announcement from hell.”


Miranda looked out into the crowd at the club it was packed tonight and thankfully she had managed to overhear Kendrick talking. She wasn’t sure who he was talking too on the phone but it involved a big shipment of drugs coming into the club. Meaning she had to play her cards extra careful this time, if she was found out it she would end up like Matt. Jon’s words to her earlier in the day were heavy to her, she never wanted to leave Quinn parent less but she also knew someone had to be inside the club. Who could Gideon send Zach, Devin or Jon? No it had to be a woman and for her she fit the mold.

She adjusted her g-string for the eighth time it felt like in the last half hour when one of the security guys came over and told her some patron had asked for a private showing in one of the rooms. Normally people asked for Yasmine who was off tonight or Mercedes, she didn’t nor had she ever done this part of it but if it had to be done so be it. She looked at herself in the mirror before she ran her hand through her hair one last time. If a customer got to grabby that was the point in security, though she found when she was dancing and they did get grabby her cop instincts wanted to take over. It was a fine line in that regard in here she had to play meek stripper that was down on her luck. Outside of the club she was a tough ass single mom cop.

She walked past Mercedes who pushed her a bit and gritted her teeth Yasmine was right that bitch was trouble. She followed the bouncer through the club some form of hip hop was blaring on the speakers. Once to the private back rooms, she took a breath before shooting the bouncer Calvin her best grin, she had this.

“I got this Calvin.” Miranda said looking at the burly bouncer who had folded his arms at the door.

“I’ll wait outside Mia. I know Philip doesn’t like the girls unattended and if this guy gets too close in case something happens it is better I am here. We don’t want a repeat of Yasmine and that Devonshire boy.” Calvin said looking at her.

Miranda nodded her head at him she had been in the club that night that Rory had caused a bit of a stir with Yasmine, of course the boy went willingly but still. She turned the knob on the door and entered the room, the lights were dim and she saw someone sitting on the couch inside. Walking toward the figure her eyes got wide as she looked at Devin, what was he doing here? She kept calm and her eyes quietly scanned for some sort of security, when she didn’t see any cameras she still knew she had to play it safe.

“Damn girl you should wear that more often.” Devin said eyeing his girlfriend with a lazy grin.

He was supposed to be at the fundraiser dinner but had decided against going when he got a solid lead at the office. Rumor on the street was Ronan was moving some college kid up into his ranks, it was the bit of info they needed. After talking to Gideon he had gotten permission to buy Miranda for a few hours at the club. There were a ton of police officers in the city and Ronan had to not know all of them. It was a risk he was willing to take honestly he was worried about her Miranda was tough as nails there was no doubting that. He also knew she was playing a dangerous game when it came to herself with it came to Ronan Madden.

He felt like he was a part of Miranda and Quinn’s life now, he was their protector even though Miranda insisted they didn’t need one. Matt was sort of an unspoken between them, over the last six months he had fallen in love with Miranda. A life with her, a life with Quinn but he knew that if they were going to do that things had to change Miranda couldn’t go undercover anymore. He knew that would be a problem because Miranda loved VICE she loved taking down the people that had destroyed their city with drugs. She lived for righting peoples wrongs.

“Very funny.” Miranda hissed at him as she moved closer to him and began to sway her body in front of him. She didn’t mind Devin looking or touching and a wicked smile formed on her lips when his hands went to her bare stomach. “Though now that I know this does it for you. What are you doing here?”

Devin made sure to not touch her just because he didn’t know what type of security Philip was running, he didn’t see any cameras inside when he entered but he still wanted to be careful. Honestly it was hard not to stare at her though and feel himself getting hard for her while she swayed her hips in the scantily clad g-string, barely covered bra and the mask she wore. This was one perk of her undercover job that he did enjoy was the outfits that she was not shy about modeling for him. He leaned back as she stepped towards him and bent forward so they could talk more just in case there were cameras with sound.

“I wanted to check on you and seeing how Jon coming in would be awkward. We got a few tips this morning that Ronan is moving someone up. A college kid, word is there is a run later this week Ronan is doing.” Devin whispered into her ear making sure his hands stayed on her hips while she swayed back and forth. Just in case he wanted to make sure they sold it and he didn’t look too stiff with her. “Has Yasmine said anything about it?”

“Yasmine has been talking a lot to this guy that comes in he’s young in college for sure and I swear I’ve recognized him from somewhere. His name is Jamal something. They have to be working together he comes she goes on her break. She also goes to the money room to count at night with Kendrick.” Miranda said leaning into his ear while she spoke, still making sure to sway her hips just in case. Turning away from him she gave him a good view of her backside and dipped down and then back up. Turning again she shot him a grin leaning into him and pressing her lips to his for a kiss. “When I overhear the big date and the time you know I will give the information to Zach. So how much did I cost inquiring minds want to know?”

Devin listened to her talk about the kid that Yasmine was seeing at the club he trusted Miranda and if she was telling him information it had to of been good intel. Zach hadn’t gotten a good shot of the guy that Miranda was talking about on camera yet, Kendrick and Ronan were smart like that. They watched their entrances left and right and it was way too risky to try and get a camera in the counting room, they wouldn’t risk Miranda like that. He felt like Jon in that regard what Miranda was doing was dangerous and with Quinn to look after and care for it only just made him more easy.

“Have you got a good look at him could you sit down with Pembrooke and get a sketch done?” Devin asked letting his lips brush briefly against hers wishing that it could be more than that. Unfortunately he knew her goon outside the door would only give him the half hour he paid for and who knew if Philip, Kendrick or Ronan had cameras inside. “About two grand but you know you are worth way more than that. Does this mean I am forgiven and start sleeping over again? I miss you and Quinn.”

“I’ll try to get a good look at him when he comes in I haven’t been able to yet. He stays in the shadows and if I get too close I could give my cover away.” Miranda said spreading her legs a bit to spread her hips for two grand she had every intention of staying in the room with Devin as long as she could. It was better than the creeps on the other side of the door, with their touching and feeling. “I don’t know have you apologized yet to my brother? He is going through a lot and he didn’t mean what he said you know him Devin. You owe Zach an apology too, for what you said about Dani.”

“Miranda he started it when he mentioned that Kendrick shit. I’ll apologize to Zach.” Devin said looking at her and taking a deep breath he knew he owed Zach an apology, at the very least. Jon though, what Jon said was out of line America was in enough of a cultural and racial war at the moment and Jon’s comments only angered him. ”I need you to be careful while you are in here without someone.”

“Jon too.” Miranda said softly as she looked at him. “Come over when I am done tonight.”

Yes she wanted him to apologize to Zach but she also wanted him to apologize to her brother. She was still waiting for the right time to tell her family about her and Devin. Hell Dani warned her it was a bad idea to keep it a secret, pot meet kettle as far as she was concerned there with her best friend. It seemed both of them were keeping their love lives in the dark. She hadn’t felt this way about anyone since Matt. Matt dying had destroyed her and she and Quinn had moved back to Atlas Falls from DC. Her father in particular would flip out ever since Matt he didn’t want her with another cop, even if he knew the Thompson family inside and out. Her mother would be thrilled she was dating but warn her to make sure Quinn understood that Devin wasn’t replacing her daddy. Her brothers all worried about her being under and a cop, especially Jon.

“Miranda.” Devin said seeing her stare off in what seemed like a haze as her hips stopped moving.

For him it felt like the room was swallowing them whole, he was deathly afraid of her work being undercover. He could feel the goosebumps on her skin and he gently ran his hands up her arms, hoping to ease her nerves. He knew now he probably shouldn’t of said what was on his mind she had a job to do while she was here, and she didn’t need him setting her game off. He heard the knock on the door from the guard out front he looked up at Miranda one last time placing his lips against hers. Pulling back as a second knock came on the door.

“Mia boss man likes his girls to keep on time.” Calvin’s voice said as it filtered into the room.

Miranda looked at Devin and closed her eyes for a moment letting everything sink in this was dangerous, and for the first time in weeks she wondered what she was doing. If losing Devin, her family and especially her daughter was worth it, worth avenging Matt. She pulled back from Devin running her hands through her hair as the door opened and Calvin stepped inside. She flashed Devin her best smile.

“I hope you enjoyed yourself from the looks of it you got your money’s worth. Should you want more of course come back.” Miranda said looking at Devin’s pants, Calvin looked between them making sure nothing was out of sorts. When Calvin nodded at her to let her know that it was time to go she inwardly fought off the sigh of relief.

“I plan on it.” Devin said watching her step away from him and watching Calvin escort her out of the room.

He ran his hand over his head watching her walk back out into the hell hole that was Club XES with the drunks and the addicts, the rich ballers and more importantly Ronan’s drug operation within their reach. He trusted Miranda she had great instincts she was a great cop, who he didn’t trust was Yasmine Kohl he didn’t trust her as far as he could throw her. What if she was onto Miranda and what if worse she decided to make Miranda the next example and the next Matt to Ronan? Knowing if he stayed much longer he would ultimately blow her cover he walked out of the room and outside of the club, leaving the woman he loved behind.


Zerick pulled Greer to him for the flashing camera lights as they arrived at the country club for the fundraiser, of course Greer was in fine form. Wearing a dress to assure that Chauncey would have his eyes on her all night long. His eyes scanned the room as they entered making a note of where the important people were in the room. Steven Kincaid’s murder had tipped the scales in their favor and well what better way than to back the new man for the job? Not that he cared one way or the other with Walter Fraiser but he knew when to play his hand and his cards, you always kept your friends and enemies close. Something a wise man had once told him, he took Greer’s hand in his own as he grabbed a glass of champagne from the waiter. Any other man would be jealous that she had let Chauncey touch her, him no he knew it was all part of their plan her plan. Seduce and then bite like the black widow would do to her mates.

“I would assume things are going along nicely thanks to my meeting with Lowell earlier today I was able to get Chauncey’s schedule for the next few days. He’s already hooked from what you have told me. His bachelor party is when you need to reel him in, if not he may actually go through with it.” Zerick said looking at her and wanting to make sure they were on the same page. Greer had been tempting Chauncey for weeks in the pool at night, took it further by letting him watch and earlier that day finally gave Chauncey literally a taste. He let his fingers trail on her arm watching the detest on her face. It was a game to them a marriage that they needed to sell. “You do your job and I will do mine at DGI and with the soon to be mayor. Unless of course you are wanting to stop?”

Greer had on a red Calvin Klein dress that hung to every curve on her body. Tonight was another step into the mental seduction of Chauncey. Once again seeping her body and sensuality into his mind. Seduction was a game and Greer always won. She was taught by many different women how to tame and control a man. It was a dance and she was always the best on the floor. With confidence she strutted on Zerick arm watching men and women gawk at her revealing dress. It was vintage and one of a kind. A target was in mind and she was ready to dance, her eyes instantly connected to Chauncey’s. Spotting him across the room at the Devonshire table which, they were sitting at tonight.

“I can’t stop, no doubt this imbecile thinks I’m wanting him. I want to crawl in a tub. He’s weak and wild. They think Jackson is the bad seed but wait until I get my claws into Chauncey officially. Tonight I will be aiming to win. Corporate espionage at dinner it’s all in a days work. Please stop questioning my commitment to what we are doing. I gave up Rene, I gave up a life that I could and would have.” Greer purred through a flawless smile putting on a showstopping performance. Stopping Zerick she adjusted his bowtie, as she flipped her hair leaning in kissing him.

“I love you husband. I love you dearly and I’m about have an affair with that infantile man to gain access to a company we both know should be ours. So smile and let me and you talk to the mayor incumbent coming up. Please stop questioning my commitment to this it’s unwavering.” Greer turned her head and smiled seductively to Chauncey.

“The beauty of this is like you said everyone thinks Jackson is such the bad seed when in fact we both know the worst seed is the son they have pinned everything on yet give him no real control. You and I both know how control can fuel someone how much one thirsts for power when they lack that respect and control.” Zerick said leaning into the kiss letting the press snap their photo with smiles on their faces. He was certain that Chauncey was watching them which was exactly what they wanted. “Yes you gave up poor Rene but did you really want Rene?”

Zerick watched her face as he spoke Rene of course was still a sore spot with her years later he never liked Rene but he always knew it had to be done. Greer had to be part of the plan to play the perfect part something they had been working on for years. He stepped towards Walter and Lauren Fraiser extending his hand to the other man, if there was someone that hated the Devonshire’s just as much it was the man in front of them. “Mr. Fraiser. Congratulations on the win I’m looking forward to seeing you sworn into office in the next few weeks, Zerick Westwood. This is my wife Greer and this stunning creature next to you must be the lovely Lauren.”

Walter had been making small talk honestly he would never understand Zach’s lifestyle choice a man was supposed to marry a woman and have children carry on the family name. While he loved his nephew he understood why it was hard for his brother he couldn’t imagine if it was Braden in Zach’s shoes. He had been keeping an eye on his daughter most of the evening call it something he was feeling she was hiding something. He also had taken notice when Lauren had approached Dani with Jackson and yes he saw them close a little too close for his liking, no she wouldn’t do that. Disappoint him that much to start a relationship with Lowell’s son. He saw the young stunning couple reach out to them and took the man’s hand in his own with a firm shake.

“Thank you I was not hoping to win this way of course, while Steven and I never got along all that well the man ran a clean and fair race. It is absolutely horrible how he died and I do promise to do everything in my power to make sure his killer is caught and brought to justice.” Walter said shaking it and then taking the stunning blonde’s hand in his own in a shake as well. Westwood, they had made a campaign donation last week a large one at that, they wanted him to win. Looking at Lauren and pulling her to him he smiled. “Pleasure to meet you both my wife Lauren. My son the DA Braden is around the room and lord only knows where my daughter Danielle is.”

“Well we are very happy to meet you, the Westwoods you made a donation to our campaign.” Lauren said smiling at Zerick and Greer the girl was oddly familiar something in her eyes. As she turned around she saw Dani and Jackson still on opposite sides of the room. The Lex bomb had worked to separate them, for now at least. As she looked at the dress Greer wore she remembered those days. A smirk hit her lips wishing for her youth back for a mere moment. “Really you both thank-you for attending with all that’s going on in our town to get backing from newcomers is appreciated.”

Lauren watched Walter eyeing Dani and her heart was dropping. He wasn’t dumb hell the man was mayor of Atlas Falls in another month. He had been the brains behind DGI and he would get the picture very soon. To be honest the chemistry between Jackson and Dani was palpable. “So I tell everyone to be careful with the Devonshire’s, they can be beautiful but don’t be blinded.”

Greer wanted to laugh. Why because Lauren your husband was dumb enough to be gotten by Lowell? No offense to her father but he was foolish he trusted a rattle snake. He was overdosed with power and the man was greedy. As she folded her arms softly looking at Zerick alarmed as if she didn’t know the information they called themselves giving them. As she eyed Walter sensually. This was all the game she had to play now to act like the shocked princess.

“What are the Devonshire dangerous? Zerick have you hidden something about these people? I’m trying to befriend them and they are inviting us over to dinners? Have you gotten in bed with another takeover? You promised me.” Knowing this was her cue to be dramatic and exit. “You promised me that you wouldn’t do another takeover this soon.”

“My wife is quite correct I am afraid they like to take anything they can. They think they run this town. With their money and power Steven was able to turn a blind eye to some things I won’t.” Walter said tearing his eyes away from his daughter, who was sitting alone at a table now drinking. If she would have stayed in Pittsburgh and with Lex she would have been happy. Then again he felt she had been happy the past few months, they weren’t close they never had been but he had noticed that. He felt Lauren touch his arm and turned back to their donors. “Lowell can’t be trusted as far as you can throw him. So if he hired you my advice is to look over your contracts as hard as you can. He’ll find a loophole to shut you out.”

“Greer I am fine you know that Lowell would have to be quite the snake to get a upper hand on me. I have to do an oil takeover the last one for a while you know that my dear.” Zerick said looking at Greer putting on a stunning show for the people of Atlas Falls, they should hand her an Oscar behind the bewilderment she was reading everyone in the room. They had studied their subjects well for over a year and this was no different. Walter loved to fight about Lowell and well he knew that. The donation was a move to make sure that Walter played by their rules that he made good decisions that benefited them. “We invested in you for that very reason didn’t we Greer? With a man such as yourself in charge of the city you’ll finally do right by it won’t you? Such nasty business with Steven we were relieved to hear you had nothing to do with it weren’t we Greer?”

“Exactly I just can’t deal with all that.” She wrapped up in Zerick arms making sure she was making direct eye contact with Chauncey. This was almost too easy. “When we were in Europe my husband took down a corrupt company. No Zerick these people need to know how brave you were. The public officials basically left my husband and myself to fend for ourselves during the ordeal. Zerick took it down brick by brick and revenge wasn’t the motive it was justice. My husband is a hero and he was treated like a criminal. We all about injustices and no change but I see but good things. The ugliness of the previous mayor we shouldn’t gossip.”

Greer moved her wavy hair from off her shoulders slowly stepping up as she took Lauren’s hand. “You are going to be a lovely first woman I’d love to actually take you up on a charity event. Maybe a bachelors auction.” She said playfully looking at Lauren. “I’m sure your husband will be top bid. I think it’s always a good idea to have women with money spending on men.” Greer said giggling almost acting too perfectly the beautiful caring wife role. The truth she did care for Zerick but he wasn’t her soulmate.

Lauren took in the pain of her of the fragile young woman before her. She’d have Dani look into the Westwoods. Something about her seemed fake she wasn’t sure what it was. Him too they were perfect but she didn’t seem to connect with them. “I would love it what a splendid idea Greer.” She looked at Walter placing her hand on his shoulder. “Remember when we couldn’t keep our hands off each other.” Lauren giggled as she smirked at the young couple. She was stunning and he was handsome.

“That is excellent advice Walter and Greer was right it was quite horrible back in Europe. The company embezzled quite a bit of money from their investors I am sure you are both aware of that with what happened to you both being robbed of DGI.” Zerick said looking at Greer working Lauren was like watching a black widow with her prey the Fraiser’s were desperate for acceptance. The file on them was thick and he watched Lowell out of the corner of his eyes looking at them, good he wanted that. “I do see some investors that Lowell wanted me to speak too. Shall we catch up later I would love to ask you both more questions about the things you ran on.”

Walter watched them both he saw Lauren with Greer this was a good move Lauren needed friends in high society. It have been over thirty years and it was now their time he had waited patiently got his grooming in council was on his way up. Learned from Charles over the years how to play the game and he was ready now. “I think that would be a wonderful idea Lauren is quite the planner I am sure you two will get along fabulously. We should make the rounds should we not Lauren?” Seeing Lowell across the room staring at them which was never a good thing.

“Goodnight and thank-you for your contribution to our campaign.” Lauren said smiling looking at the young couple.


Simon looked around the massive ballroom weighing his options in his head about what he was about to do. It had been bothering him since the night before he and Jackson were friends. He didn’t want to see his friend fall back to drugs again, it was actually nice to see Jackson not high all the time. He wasn’t best friends or anything with Dani but she didn’t deserve to have her picture plastered or her reputation ruined at DGI. She was very good at her job, he was the one that told Lowell that Dani could handle Jackson and he wasn’t wrong. Their files matched and he thought if maybe they talked got to know one another that Jackson could be the man Lowell always wanted him to be. Running a hand through his hair he saw Jackie and Lowell at their table and approached taking a seat next to his boss. He looked at Jackie and then at Lowell.

“Hello Jackie. Lowell I have what you wanted. You should have told me you were spying on them I could have been better prepared.” Simon said taking out the envelope and sliding the pictures to Lowell across the table. The spying reminded him of everything that was going on with Mason and Scarlett too the invasion of privacy. Not that he was opposed to sex but he was certain that seeing pictures of Jackson fucking Dani made him uncomfortable as hell. Not to mention how happy they both looked, it was more between them. It reminded him of when he would make love to Mason those moments, when you knew and wanted someone so intimately. “What do you want me to do with them?”

“Keep them the new mayor won’t need a scandal when it comes down to it we’ll need more than idle threats to hold Walter to the casino. I have to say Simon that my son is doing better with this girl. You both have been friends since you were children so you would know. Is this something we should break apart now? Or let this continue? I mean Danielle is breaking all sorts of contract violations thus she could be fired. We don’t need some harassment suit.” Looking at the pictures they didn’t show anything too x-rated but they were enough to scare Walter if need be. To be honest he cared less about it Jackson already torn apart reputations but he was sure Walter would protect Dani’s.

“I miss that old man and I think it’s time we talk.” Lowell said handing the photographs to Jackie. “Our son is truly happy and I am enjoying that. I am enjoying the healthy look in his eyes and if that girl is giving it to him. Then we need her is that understood? I will say that I’ll do anything to get this casino up and running.” As he looked at his wife. “What Jackie did you not expect me to exploit this? It makes all the sense in the world to use Walter’s disappointment to gain our unwavering happiness. To use her lust as a weapon against her daddy.”

“I think DGI Energy could be good for the company. I don’t think you need to spy on them if that is what you are asking, he seems happy with her and he’s not high all the time or I haven’t noticed. Dani is a good employee you asked me that when you hired her, she is highly recommended if you were to let her go politically that would be a bad move you and I both know that.” Simon said looking at Lowell it was the truth. Charles Hessington would lure her back to his office and a lot of the energy contracts would fall through they needed him to sign off on some of them to get DGI Energy up. Dani was the only one connected to Charles. Even worse Walter could hire her to work for city hall which again could block DGI contracts like the casino. “Right now their both good for the company and if that means letting them have this then my advice would be to leave it for now.”

Jackie looked at the pictures they weren’t too terrible but she saw between the lines in them they both looked happy. Her fingers traced the pictures for a moment how long had she waited for this for her son to want to turn his life around? Years, it seemed like he was finally doing that there was something about Dani that brought out the best in her son. He wasn’t high all the time, for the first time in years his eyes sparkled. Jackson was different with Dani and even in the photos the way he looked at Dani made Jackie smile for her son. Not to mention Dani looked just as happy as her son did, she was reminded of what happened with Lauren earlier in the day.

“He’s on the other side of the room with Lauren and the Westwoods.” Jackie said quietly not sure what Lowell was going to do march over there in the middle of the party and cause a scene? Jackson had applied himself since he started his affair with Dani, he wasn’t drugged out all the time had catapulted DGI Energy into a real possibility. As for using Dani Simon made a good point she was very good at her job she wanted to say it meant more to their son than just a fling but she wouldn’t until she knew for sure first. She guessed it meant more to Dani too as she saw her looking at Jackson across the room. “If you do decide to have a chat at least keep it civil will you?”

Watching them across the room Lowell knew that it was time to strike. As he looked at Simon that boy was a barracuda and one day he’d grow tired of hiding their secrets. The things they asked of him always seemed too much but he always came through. Looking back he was becoming more satisfied with Simon’s work. He would have to reward him soon enough. Nodding as he looked at Jackie he kissed her cheek. “Simon my boy please do come past my office tomorrow, I have something for you. You’ve been a major part of DGI resurgence the last few years. I want to celebrate that with a new position.”

Lowell walked away to see Bliss as he kissed his daughter he noticed that Max entered the party. “Thank-you for being here.” He whispered shooting Max a dart of disgust. Slowly approaching Walter, Lauren, Greer, and Zerick he wondered what the Westwood had to speak with the Fraiser’s about. A waiter was right by him as he placed down his scotch and picked up another glass. “Walter I would hate to interrupt this truly intellectual conversation. I do want to converse with you about a project Steven and I were working on. I think it would behoove you to speak in private.”

Lauren eyed Lowell and smiled at Zerick and Greer. “Powerful men never sleep.” Lauren tried not to give the devil who seemed to hear his name being called. “Greer and Zerick I’m sure you saw my nephew and his fiance Dante let me introduce you.”

Walter had been hoping to hear more from the young couple before him until Lowell came over the man was insufferable. He didn’t see what they could possibly have to speak about in private he’d indulge him for a moment not a second more. “I’ll be right back my dear. Mr. and Mrs. Westwood it was lovely to meet you.”

“You too Mr. Fraiser. Do lead the way. Greer and I are always looking to make new friends.” Zerick said watching Walter turn his attention to Lowell. He saw Chauncey watching Greer’s every move as she walked and worked the room with him. The beauty of the plan was no one would see Greer coming or Chauncey’s downfall.

Walter watched Lauren lead them away and turned his attention back to Lowell and then noticed Jackie sitting back watching them like a hawk. He took a sip of his scotch looking at his lifelong rival. “They’re gone so do tell what I can do for you Lowell? I already warned you to stay out of my way when it came to mayor.”

“I’m not in your way Walter. Dear man I would never get in the way of the newly minted soon to be mayor of Atlas Falls. I’m excited to finally step up to the challenge sir. Always meek and maybe too good for your own good but old man I never thought it would take this long. Now I told you what my intentions are and they are clear as the sun is bright. That casino is to be built or the day after your election sextape rumors with dear old Dani will be spread across the media.” Lowell said clearing his throat as he smiled like the cat who swallowed the canary.

“The best part is you haven’t heard exactly who the sextape is with?” Slowly leaning in he smirked. “A drug addict. Gasp yes a drug addict who has a trust fund bigger than you’ll ever dream about. A trust fund brat not Lex whom you’ve managed to keep a very good secret but a kid so sick that he was pretending to be homeless with infinite wealth? You know who that kid is? My very own son Jackson.” Lowell raised his glass in the air. “I’ll ruin her and you know first hand how far I’ll go. This is a new era in DGI Walt and either you will get aboard this time legitimately or be railroaded.” Lowell seethed with a perfectly fake veneered smile.

“Tell me what could you want with my new hire Zerick and his enchanting wife Greer?” He said folding his arms.

“You lie. Dani wouldn’t.” Walter said, horror passing over his face she wouldn’t be that stupid.

He looked across the room again watched his daughter carefully, as she looked at her phone and then at Jackson and he saw it. A fool would be an idiot not too she was in love with him. His hand shook the glass rage boiling out of him, no she was supposed to go back to Lex that was the plan. He saw her get up from her seat and walk to the exit. He waited a few moments before he saw Jackson leave too, no. Anyone but Lowell’s son.

“You’re a bastard you won’t press me on this prove it you have no proof. Besides do you even look at your children he’s been looking at her all night. You really want to do that to him?” Walter said it was two choices go with the casino or throw Dani to the wolves. She’d done wolves before with Lex she could again but something inside of him told him this would break her. “If you must know they donated to my campaign quite a hefty sum.”

“Well Zerick bets on the winning team.” He pulled out only one picture. “My boy Simon has pictures this was just a taste Walt. If anything the boy is efficient. Now you have a choice to make. Either you will do exactly what I say or I’ll ruin her and him before you have a chance to say the word election.” Snapping his fingers he smirked. “You have no idea how far I’ll drag you and ruin you. Steven just nodded get used to doing that. You have the title and I have the power. I have proof and I’ll destroy your daughter at the press of a button.”

Lowell adjusted his tie as he looked at Walter. “Do get Hunter and city hall to get behind this amazing new casino.” Lowell said looking at his onetime friend. “Shock doesn’t do you now smile old man. The people are watching you’ll need a better poker face.”

Walter was still in too much shock looking down at the the picture in his hands looking at Lowell’s son having his way with his little girl. Looking at her hands wrapped around Lowell’s son. He didn’t like the gaze between them it was the same gaze he saw a few minutes ago, the gaze people gave when hearts were really involved. His glass was still shaking in his hand as Lowell walked away. He looked into the crowd his eyes met Lauren’s and he realized both she and Jackie knew and had for weeks. It was all over their faces. He placed the photo into the inside pocket of his vest, lifting his drink to his lips to drain it.


Brooke stood on the other side of the room watching all the drama unfold with Jamal and Rachel. They laughed at how Walter face’s looked when what everyone knew was exposed to him. Whatever Lowell said was nasty. The guns were being drawn and everything was highstakes. She saw it a little more clear now that her daddy wasn’t there to shield her eyes. Slowly dragging the train of her gown she saw Max and Hunter having a conversation looking awfully bored with each other. That was sad as hell, that they were forced together another day forced in a sad paradise. To be unhappy and filthy rich, she mused laughing at how ridiculous that thought must be to the average American. They were privileged and none of them appreciated. She excused herself from Jamal and Rachel feeling like a third wheel. Just listening to their conversation she truly felt like she didn’t fit in. She was always more grown than her peers. They seemed so juvenile although they were still her friends she just longed for something more. To be honest someone was more like it.

He’d gotten her this stunning dress and hadn’t came to speak yet. Was it just a nice gesture? God what was she thinking? That man wasn’t interested in a little girl like her. She was so interested in him. He was handsome and so mysterious. Why didn’t he call her? Why didn’t he say one word to her all night? Brooke felt silly asking all these questions. Walking to the courtyard she took in the sky which was stunning and filled with stars. The breeze danced against her skin as her eyes closed. When she opened them he was before her, and she jumped.

Ronan.” She mumbled softly. “I was just thinking of you.”

Ronan had made the rounds at the party like he was supposed to watching Brooke the entire time business had to come first. That was something that unfortunately couldn’t change and in order to make it run well he needed Walter reeled in, perhaps now he would be. Whatever Lowell had said to him had the man shaking with rage as he looked at his daughter. He supposed blackmail was never above Lowell that was good to know, he had to step away for a few calls about the shipment and the club but the moment he returned his eyes came back to Brooke. Watching her, she was a big mysterious puzzle that was the funny thing. His appetite for the woman at the club had drained. He wanted more than a warm body nor that Mercedes wouldn’t do.

He had shook a few more hands as he saw Brooke move from the table she was at, his view had been blocked of who she was sitting next too and he wondered why she left. Brooke was younger than he was but he felt like she had an old soul to her. He waved off his security that had blended into the event as he followed her to the courtyard. The dress was even more beautiful in the moonlight he knew that much as he gazed at her in it. The soft lines of her back, her hips it fit her like a glove.

“It looks even more gorgeous on your skin, Dante assured me it would be the gown of the evening and I happen to agree. Did you like my gift?” Ronan asked looking at her watching the way her cheeks flushed just a bit at him. He offered her a smile she had been thinking of him too. “I’m sorry I’ve been away this evening I had some business that came up.”

“I guess it’s childish of me to want you to come to me immediately. To only spend time with me, I was listening to everything they said but I was only focused on you.” Walking closer to him the moon seemed to show his face even more clear. Brooke’s heart was beating so fast that she couldn’t breathe. Biting her bottom lip she looked down wondering what to say or how to say it. Would he laugh at her? God this age thing was stupid she felt like she was guarding what she had to say.

“It’s silly I guess me acting skittish when I want to reach out and kiss you.” Brooke said slowly stepping into his arms. The scent of his cologne was intoxicating. “A vintage Chanel gown? What girl wouldn’t want that? What are we doing? My family act as if you’re some type of bane on this earth? So tell me what’s deal with you Mr. Madden? Why is everyone keeping me from a handsome and well respected man of the community.” Brooke asked as she smiled at him. “You’re so handsome tonight.”

“Not childish at all. You should know by now I’m not used to this courting a woman. I like how you speak your mind to me Brooke it is one of the most fascinating things about you. That and you seem to have a bit of a wild steak sets you apart from the other Kincaid’s.” Ronan said looking at her and then extending his hand to hers he pulled her body to his for a dance. The music from inside was filtering outside just faintly enough for them to hear and she had asked him when they first met to dance again. “You skipped college that is impressive I would have thought that your parents would have insisted that you go.”

“We have time for kissing for now I want to see how that gown sways on your hips. Besides your mother could see or your brother and then what? The age thing I have decided is something we’ll have to deal with.” Ronan said pulling her closer to him as he watched the dress move on her it was exquisite. He had known it would look beautiful when Dante had shown him the picture and now his brain was seared on taking it off. “I’m the type of man that society princesses have the good sense to run from. Now would be your chance Brooke if not then I would like to say have you enjoyed my gift? I plan on giving you more but I want to make sure you understand that about me I am not your prince charming.”

“It’s not every day that you get a lucrative deal modeling when you’re fresh out of high school. I was awkward as a kid even if you don’t believe that. I couldn’t just leave that to fate. Does it look like I’m running. I’m right here and I want you. I see what we have and I see what we could be. So I’m not afraid to be the society princess who breaks the mold. Even if you don’t know it I’ve broken rules my entire life. Thus me not being in college at all and traveling. I go against the grain and so that you know it.” Brooke quickly grabbed his hand and dragged him. Well it wasn’t a drag as a hard pull.

She saw a lot of couples dancing as the music shifted to a almost lustful tango beat. It was perfect. “Mr. Madden will you dance with me? In front of the upper crest of Atlas Falls. Humor me a worldly man like yourself must know how to tango. Shall we dance?” Brooke said dramatically spinning away from him. “Or are you going to let the dictators of Atlas Falls tell us what we can and can’t do?”

“I suppose it is not every day that that type of an opportunity comes along. I doubt that you were that awkward if anything it looks like you are staying.” Ronan said pulling her to him to again she was bold he liked that in her. It was something that would serve her well by his side his life was not that easy. He kept her in the courtyard just for the privacy. “I do know how to tango and you my dear are in for it.”

Ronan pulled her to him making sure to place his body next to hers she was divine and the fire he felt with her was something else all together. She may of been young but he was dying to find out what she knew about herself. Wondered what she wanted out of life especially one with him the prospect was intriguing. He had never really thought about it till now what he wanted with someone like her, it was almost as if his life perspective had changed given who his parents were. He twirled her a few times when the music called for it and dipped her down seeing her smile.

“I would say for now we let the dictators pretend to be dictators in their own lives. My father had a rule live for the moments while they are here. I haven’t done that in quite a while.” Ronan said leaning into her he brushed his lips against hers only to be stopped when he heard a voice clearing behind them.

“Pardon us. I was just telling Brenda how lovely this looked.” Gideon Morrison said looking at Brenda watching her shooting daggers right where he wanted them at Ronan. “Brooke I wasn’t aware that you and Mr. Madden were friends.”

“I wasn’t aware my social life was any of your business?” Brooke said with a sass that was unmistakable. She was over people interjecting into whatever she was having with Ronan. “One thing I have ask did my mother put you up to this?”

Brenda looked furiously at Brooke for having the nerve to be so defiant. “What are you doing with this man Brooke? I refuse and you stay the hell away from my daughter is that understood?” She said pointing her finger at Ronan. “You sick SOB I’ll ruin you. You hear me? I’ll ruin you back into that dirty little grease pool you came from. You filthy mobster keep your hands off of my daughter!”

Brooke looked at Ronan with a shock? Was he a mobster? It didn’t matter he was who she wanted. “You’re out of line mom now back away. I’m done with you and this I’m seeing Ronan no matter what lies you’re vile mouth spills about him.”

“Honey you should know me better than that, I don’t lie to get what I want. I manipulate and this isn’t manipulation this is the truth. You’re kissing on a mobster a man your beloved father hated.”

Ronan looked at Brooke when Brenda told her what he did for a living and pulled back he couldn’t hide it forever surely she had heard the stories. He looked carefully between Gideon and Brenda he doubted they would want their own lies and secrets spilled. He and Gideon had an understanding and if he wanted it to stay that way he’d butt out. He leaned down kissing Brooke’s hand watching her mother fume.

“Unfortunately I do have to leave but we will get together later in the week. I have your number you have mine.” Ronan said watching the disgust on Brenda’s face register. He stepped back adjusting his tie and then spoke. “You know Gideon I would hate to have the patrol area in the Scottswood section decreased wouldn’t you? Your dear husband Brenda who liked to frequent one of my many clubs. I think it’s time you stop telling your princess your pretty little lies.”

Turning Ronan made his exit out of the party looking at Brooke over his shoulder with a smile no he wasn’t going to let her go her mother could hardly stop them.

“I can have an extra patrol at the house if that would make you feel more comfortable tonight Brenda. I am having my detectives work as hard as they can but the case went cold, we haven’t given up we will catch him for this.” Gideon said leaning into Brenda’s ear for the last part Brooke didn’t need to know the ugly truth that the man she was seeing was a prime suspect in her father’s murder. “Of course it is up to you.”

“I have guards.” Brenda said touching Gideon’s arm as a thank-you. She watched Brooke searing into her. “My dear you don’t want to be with him. He isn’t worth it your time. As in he’s a monster Brooke!”

Brooke stormed off hurt from what she had just heard. Her father was having affair at one of Ronan’s club. She didn’t know how to feel. As she ran through the people needing air. Brooke no longer wanting to be involved with her mother’s dramatics.


Scarlett stormed through the hallway coming to her condo before opening up the door how dare he? Zach had assured her it wasn’t serious with Dante that he needed them both but now her body was shaking with rage. Walking to the box she wanted to laugh this was supposed to draw them closer in frustration she opened the box and threw it along with the maggots still in the trash, he would pay for doing this to her. She had the ultimate weapon after all there was no need to hide this anymore. Dante couldn’t compete with her unborn child if she had to force her hand she would. Mason be damned he could wallow with Simon or perhaps better he could come out to his daddy finally quit hiding behind her and their fake love affair.

She looked around the condo for a moment taking a glass from the cabinet and filling it with water, she couldn’t drink anymore a sacrifice as her mother would say for the greater good. Letting the water get cold enough she filled the glass before bringing it to her lips. The gift of Veronica’s ring was still getting to her, the plan was to tell Zach about it and he would come running. Only to find out he was engaged, that he wanted and was really going to give up what she could provide for him that Dante couldn’t. She was livid as she clutched the glass before throwing it at the opposite wall in the condo. What in the hell was it all for getting pregnant if he was going to marry Dante? The mere thought was enough to have her heart beating wildly in her chest in anger.

Stalking into the living room she picked up the pictures from earlier flipping through them it had to be Dante who did this, he knew photographers. He had to of tricked Zach into the engagement perhaps blackmailed him. Of course no one really believed her Zach had looked at her like she was crazy and Mason was all but useless. Flipping through the pictures she became more enraged as she started pacing around the living room bringing the photos back to the kitchen she threw them on the table. Walking to the knife block she took it out and stabbed them pinning them to the table. No one fucked around with her least of all some clothing designer that didn’t know his way how Atlas Falls worked.

Her mind went to the ring and the box of maggots he had to be super sick to dig up her sister’s grave what else did he find there? Her mind raced and she closed her eyes to shut it out, Mason was too occupied with Simon now to help her. Zach thought he could just toss her aside and his little boyfriend thought he could stalk and torture her? He had another thing coming she walked back into the kitchen and eyed the knife. She thought about taking it out and putting it into her purse her hand was shaking so bad she could feel her nails breaking her skin. The knock on her door however broke her out of her thoughts. Pushing her hair back and not bothering to check her reflection she opened it to see her mother on the other side.

“Mother?” Scarlett asked looking at her mother Patricia Nichols.

Patricia looked at her daughter pulling her light chiffon coat around her more as she brushed past her daughter into her condo. She had seen Scarlett arrive to the fundraiser and of course do her duty while she stared at Zach the entire time. When her attention in public needed to be on Mason. The marriage between her and Mason was a good match it was what Scarlett’s father wanted another into DGI from the inside out.

“You left early.” Patricia said her voice low a sneer on her lips.

“You saw him mother he was draped all over him! They’re engaged.” Scarlett said stepping back like a child being scolded on her first day of school.

She followed her mother into the kitchen and watched as her mother took in the surroundings. She saw her mother look at the photos with a raised eyebrow before going to her sister’s ring on the counter. She watched as her mother picked it up in her hand passing it between her fingers.

“Are you still taking your prenatals? We’ve worked too hard on this, you’ve put in too much work to just stop now.” Patricia said placing the ring into her purse, she faced her youngest daughter with a steady gaze. “Dear god pull yourself together Scarlett. Crying over spilt milk boo hoo, he went to Dante you are carrying his child. Mason will be exposed after your wedding you will get his shares in a divorce. The dressmaker will not be able to compete with a child.”

“Of course I am.” Scarlett said watching her mother in the kitchen. She saw her pick up the knife from the table and wave it back and forth for a bit. She felt the sting of tears on her face and realized why her mother told her to stop crying over the milk, she was bawling. It had been a long and tiring day with memories of her sister, the photos and Zach’s move to marry Dante. Wiping at her face she tried to pull herself together. “It’s too much.”

Patricia watched her daughter and moved to her swiftly looking at her in the eyes. “Then you will fail me. Your father should have had more of DGI before he passed and Lowell assured him more shares. You wouldn’t want to fail me now would you?”

Scarlett looked at her nodding her head reminded why she was doing this for the shares. She watched as her mother reached into her purse and handed her a small radio and a key. She raised her eyebrow at her feeling herself calm down.

“It’s a police unit Gideon owes me a favor. You can track when Zach is away from Dante. I would like to think that now would be the opportune time to visit Dante and make him realize his place is no longer welcome. The key is of course to the dressmakers apartment.” Patricia said looking at her daughter and placing her purse on her shoulder.

Scarlett held the radio in her hands not really sure what she was supposed to do with it until her mother mentioned it was another way to spy on Zach. They needed Zach reeled into the plan that was why she got pregnant in the first place was it not? Stiffening her back she nodded her head as she watched her mother leave to the front door. Leaving her standing in the condo she shared with Mason.

“Do take the back stairs when you go and call our mutual friend in order to assure that things go smoothly. I would expect you and Mason to set a date soon preferably at his sister’s wedding.” Patricia said, she didn’t bother glancing over her shoulder to look back at her daughter as she opened the door and left the condo. Taking out her phone she sent the text.

Everything is set.

Scarlett walked back to the master bedroom clutching the radio in her hand, wiping at her face Dante would pay. He was becoming a problem more than anything in her life. Walking to the vanity she picked up a pair of scissors from her drawer walking to the closet. She took a look at her couture lines and began cutting and slicing the tops and anything she could find it didn’t matter she wouldn’t fit into them anymore. Her mind raced with a thousand thoughts hadn’t she sacrificed enough? Involved with a man that wouldn’t touch her because he preferred balls? She quit partying well what Mason wouldn’t’ know wouldn’t hurt him or her parents. She did quit the coke when she saw the lines on the test it was time or she thought it was. Now though what was it all for if she couldn’t pull through?

She kept slicing until the fabric was on the floor and her hand quit shaking everything was for their family. She had to make sure Zach stuck by her no one could know her secrets not all of them anyway and like her mother said they still hadn’t achieved part one of the goal.. Placing the scissors down inside the nightstand she took a seat on the vanity. Carefully placing the radio down as well she turned it on. All that was left to do was to wait till Zach was away, Mason rarely came home anymore she had plenty of time to think about her next move. Taking a tissue she dabbed at her eyes in the mirror like mother said no sense crying over spilt milk there were things she had to get done.