1×10 “Scorch the Earth”

Episode 1xo10 “Scorch The Earth”
Written by: Chirs Coleman/Kelly Zollo
Warning: Episode contains language, sexual situations and content
Guest Staring: Heather Locklear (Tess Blisston)

Selina touched the expensive silk on her wedding dress Dante really outdid himself. She thought today was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. This was supposed to be the wedding she’d always dreamed of. As she closed her eyes tears fluttered seeing her mother antique sapphire veil. Her father had dug it out of storage and she was wearing it today. It was blue diamonds, sapphires, and blue pearls her mother was exquisite on her wedding day. Merci had talked her into transforming it into a egyptian tiara. She looked down at the picture minus the horribly tacky decor of wedding her parents were beautiful. They looked like something out of a magazine and part of her heart fluttered wondering what her mother would think. From what her father had told her she’d think she’d be proud. Selina stood up with her silk robe on she floated to the makeup station. The woman began putting her finishing touches on her face. She had to be perfect. When she did this she had to be perfect.

Looking over she saw her father entering the room with a bouquet of white roses. She knew that she was going to break his heart today. She was going to hurt everyone she cared about but it was what needed to happen. “Daddy.” She said softly looking at him. “Tanya can you pardon us we would like to have a moment. I just want to hug and hold my daddy.” Selina rushed to him as she hugged him. “No matter what I’ll always be your little girl and you’ll always be the only man that was ever a superhero to me. It’s not many men who can learn how to french-braid but you did. You stepped up as mother and father and I love you for it daddy.”

Tony had stopped in at the kitchen just to make sure everything was in order before walking up the stairs to see his daughter. Merci had outdone herself the ballroom looked exquisite, it was what his daughter wanted for her big day and as long as she was happy he was happy for her. The guests would be arriving shortly for the pre wedding activities and then he would walk his daughter down the aisle. He paused for a moment to reflect on that how Gloria would have been proud of the woman Selina had become. There was also a somberness that seemed to settle on him as well her mother was not here to see this day, cancer had taken Gloria far too young and too early ripping her of these memories. He moved out of the way offering Tanya a warm smile as he smiled at his daughter admiring her dress. Little parts of his own wedding had been incorporated such as the veil and his throat tightened a bit.

“You’ll always be my little girl Selina.” Tony said wrapping his daughter in his arms in an embrace and a hug, he stepped back taking her in his sight. She looked stunning, gorgeous everything that a bride should on her day. The dress was something that took his breath away and then looking at his wife on display through the tiara it was hard not to get emotional about it. He let out a chuckle at the mention of braiding he had a lot of help on that matter thanks to Ophelia. Selina never let her do it, but it was their secret he practiced on Ophelia so he could do it for his daughter. “You look absolutely beautiful and stunning your mother if she were here today would agree. The dress alone, you picked good and your mother’s veil she would approve. Are you ready?”

Selina was absolutely dreading disappointing her father. Looking at him she bit her lip wondering if publicly if this was a good idea. Slowly touching her dress she knew her mother would love. As her eyes started to water a little bit she couldn’t believe what she was about to do. This was wicked and nasty something her father always taught her not to be. However as the old saying goes when a woman’s fed up. She was infact devastated being with Chauncey and in every way she was stifling her soul. Selina started to repair her flawless makeup. She looked like she stepped out of the nile and was blessed by Cleopatra. Exhaling she nodded her head wondering if he’d look back at this moment and hate her.

Letting go of her father Selina walked to the champagne she poured a glass. As she drank the entire glass. She felt herself releasing all doubt this was needed. “Father this letter is apart of my wedding gift I’m giving to Chauncey. Keep it I’ll need it.” She unbuttoned her dad’s jacket and slipped the letter inside his pocket. Then she walked to the table reapplying blush to her cheeks. “I’m so ready for the next part of my life to start. A baby, a husband who truly loves me, and family.” She said thinking of Braden with a smile. “I’m so in love daddy.” Wiping the corners of her eyes.Soon everyone would know it. “I heard Mason has Jamal whatever is going on I hope he doesn’t bring it to my wedding.” Spraying on her perfume and quickly brushing her long extensions. “I believe that any drama should only come from me. I mean it’s my wedding.” Walking to the door she opened it letting Tanya back in. She had to finish the Egyptian style makeup. “How is the step-monster weeping in the willows. I don’t believe you made me invite her.”

Tony watched her move back from him Mason assured him that he had Jamal under control he also had not heard from Devin. As a parent that was something that he had learned that his children their happiness and safety came first. In this case it was up to Devin now with Jamal and he hoped that he had been able to talk to Gideon and Braden Fraiser about a plea bargain or a deal the thought of what Jamal was doing still sent a chill up his spine. His hand went to his jacket and the letter inside of it, worry and curiosity filled him all at once. How had he done so wrong as a father how had he and Ophelia got so apart on Jamal. He watched as Tanya began to reapply the makeup and bit his tongue about Ophelia she was here out of respect to Jamal and if Selina knew anything about what Devin had told them she would know better. Ophelia like him was of course upset about their son it was her right as Jamal’s mother to be.

“This is your day Selina and it is beautiful so far in a few more hours you and Chauncey will say I do. You will be a full fledged member of the Devonshire’s I always knew you would do right by them and us. Mason at the moment has your brother under control he has assured me that today will go smoothly for you.” Tony said looking at her in the mirror she was beautiful and he knew if Gloria could see her like this strong and gorgeous she would be smiling at her. He was proud of Selina and he knew it had not always been smooth sailing for her and Chauncey but his daughter loved him and that was what mattered. “Ophelia is fine and won’t make a scene. It is your day.”

As she looked at her father Selina looked at him. Nodding her hand she knew that this could be confusing. The feelings that were swelling inside her thinking about Ophelia. That woman was painful memory to her. She remembered when Ophelia enters the picture and she was so beautiful. She looked like a movie star from another time but when she took over as mother. Selina couldn’t handle it. The fake bonding she experienced and she didn’t believe her. She didn’t care about Mason and her. When Jamal came she sank her claws into her father even deeper. Mason was too young to remember their mother and Ophelia was all she knew.

“Daddy I love you and thank-you so much.” Selina said as she touched his hand. Stopping from holding her breath as she looked at Tonya. “I’m good sweetie thank-you. Oh dad do you think you can put on this necklace. I know that you are proud of me but I want you to know. If I do something that you don’t like it’s only for my happiness. Sometimes I’ve been in a craziness of our lifestyle and I have made moves to make others happy. Today I mean it, it’s all about me.” Selina said softly as she looked at him. “I am happy with what I’m about to do.”

Tony walked to her at the vanity and saw her holding up her mother’s necklace and the emotions overwhelmed him. She reminded him so much of her mother she had so much of Gloria in her, the eyes and that vibrant personality. She also had her mother’s beauty something that he thanked God for every day. He forced back the tears as Tonya gave him a smile before she left the room. Taking the necklace he looped it around Selina’s neck and then stepped back she looked absolutely radiant on her day. Leaning down he kissed her cheek.

“Your mother would be so proud of you today and I know I am too. You look absolutely gorgeous I am going to check on things downstairs before you make this old man cry.” Tony said pulling back from her and looking at her in the mirror one more time. He opened the door. “I’ll have the staff come up to get me when it is time. As long as you are happy Selina that is all I want for you and your brothers.”

“Trust me daddy after today I’ll have everything I ever could want and desire.” She smiled looking at him. She noticed her father grimace as Marquese passing him with more rare jewels being placed on her skin. Selina held out her arms as the antique lace baseball length gloves. As she looked at Marquese and acted as if she didn’t see the clear disrespect. Cleopatra was the theme so tonight had to be better than all of that. Tonight she was getting married as she smiled into the mirror. She just hoped he looked the part.

“Hurry up I have to make sure Maddie looks perfect it’s my wedding day. But I have to see if she’s ready.” Selina said beaming with joy. Today was her wedding day. Today was the beginning of her life starting again all over again. A fresh start and a new beginning.

*********

Greer slinked into the hotel with a trenchcoat and fedora hat on her head. It was incredibly cold in Pennsylvania and what she had planned for Chauncey was worth it. There was a vulnerability to him even though he was self centered and egotistical. His lust for her more than satisfied her ego but it was something more. She found herself attracted to him and his need to be the best. It was a trait they had and today was about solidifying their chemistry. Oh how she loved to tease him but today wasn’t a tease. Today was the day she was going to give in. Today was the day she was going to disrespect Selina in the worse way. By sleeping with her husband on their wedding day. It wasn’t easy being this bad but damn sure was fun. Slowly strutting up to the desk, she took off her sunglasses.

“Hello, I’m looking for Chauncey Devonshire suite. His ” Greer purred to the front desk concierge. “Oh I have a last minute gift for him and his wife. A couture gown for her leaving and his tux. I just have to drop it off because Merci is so busy.”

“Room 312, I’ll phone and let him know you’re coming up. Your name?”

“Greer.” She said walking to the elevator she pressed the button. As she tapped her Louboutins against the marble on the elevator floor. Walking down the hallway as she knocked on the door. “Mr. Devonshire I have what you’ve been waiting for.”

Chauncey had been pacing the suite for the last hour back and forth his mind should be on walking down the aisle to marry Selina in a little bit but instead it was cluttered. Filled with thoughts about Greer and the night before they had been so close to what they both wanted and yet she pulled away again. He looked at his tie for a moment on the bed before the suite phone rang and he picked it up. Listening as the front desk concierge told him that Greer was on her way up and he let out a grin, he knew she couldn’t stay away much longer. It was a game and one he was certain he was going to win as he waited for her to knock on the door. He opened it up letting her inside as he eyed her up and down in the trench coat she looked amazing. More so than she had at the club not that he would complain that number at the club had clung to her body.

“Are you here to tease me again Mrs. Westwood? The game has got rather dry now hasn’t it? Then again if you are here something had to of changed your mind.” Chauncey said waiting for her to do something he had done the chasing and she had turned him away at every turn. He watched her taking the room in for a bit before he walked to her and moved some hair from her face. “So do tell why you are here? I am still getting married in a few hours that hasn’t changed.”

Greer knew that Chauncey was beyond the little games that she had played. To make it matter of fact she was also. She wanted to see if he was worth all the hype. She slowly walked around Chauncey as if she had been invited in. Turning around she unfastened her trench coat belt and the dropped it to the floor. Revealing the white and black leather bra and panties set with her garter belt attached to her stocking. She smelled like fresh roses as she walked up too Chauncey touching his chest.

“Does it look like I’m playing? I am not playing anymore games.” She purred as she looked at him. “The fact of the matter is that I know that you’re getting married and I don’t care. I don’t give a damn about the fact you’re about to be married if you don’t care either than I can be fucked all over this room. Call me kinky. No call me a bitch. No no no call me a freak because I wanted to make you wait until the last possible moment to have me.” Greer switched over to Chauncey and pulled him to her as she kissed him. “No you can stand here and question what I want or you can fuck me.”

Chauncey looked at her when she took off the trenchcoat and reminded himself that he needed to make sure that she was done playing games. He smirked at her a bit as he found himself turned on at the leather get up that she wore when she went all out she went all out. The moment she touched him though and kissed him he wrapped his arms around her. Pulling on her hair slightly in the kiss as his hands traveled over her smooth skin and the leather bra his fingers flicking over the fabric feeling her shudder in response. She was a divine creature and one he had fantasized about for months on end and now it was time to see if she lived up to the hype. Pulling back from her lips he moved them down her neck lifting her in his arms to the bed, this was wrong he knew that but he gave up caring.

“I’m glad to see that you’ve come to your senses I have every intention of having you now. No turning back Greer.” Chauncey said seeing her spread out on the bed he stood at the edge letting his hand travel up her leg watching her eyes, when it reached her garter he leaned down with his mouth letting his teeth nibble her hips as he undid the straps. His fingers traveled upwards to her panties and he traced the lace seeing her squirm and he smiled at her. “Tell me does he do this to you? How do you like him to fuck you? Call me a freak want you the way he has you.”

“And if I say he has been too busy.” She purred slapping his hand away. Greer rolled over giving him another shot of her ass. It took everything not to scream out telling him to screw her all over the room. Everyone was saying that Chauncey wasn’t any good but she knew the truth. He just wanted everything much like her. The truth of the matter was they both were very greedy people. This game was intoxicating having Chauncey thinking he was in control. You see he believed himself to be the cat when he was actually the mouse. Or a spider in her web but the intensity between them was enough set Atlas Falls on fire.

“I’m looking to fall from grace but if you want to know what Zerick does to me. Maybe you aren’t what I want. If I wanted him to be doing me then he would. I want to know what you’re going to do to me.” Her voice whispy and full of lust. “First he always like to get me wet and tastes me all over. From the front to back.” Greer pulled his robe which revealed he was nude as she was. It was thrilling how much they were similar. She laughed as she finally released her breast. “Freak or not I came to fuck you on your wedding day. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to mark my place with you. Now my body is ready stop talk and savoring and make me regret not doing this sooner.” Once again Greer kissed him and this time she released a passionate moan.

“I would call him a fool but then again he obviously has to be.” Chauncey said he would not do her like Zerick did he wanted to show her that he was the one in charge of their little game. He watched her roll over and his entire body filled with lust for her, how as Zerick turning down that. He let her pull his robe to the side and smirked at her as she took in his size and he wondered if he was the biggest she had ever had. Leaning down he moved some hair off her shoulder as his hands traveled down her spine and traveling to her ass. He moved her thong to the side and then ripped it off her.  He slid two fingers into her soaking pussy. “You’re fucking hot did I ever tell you that before?”

He let his fingers glide in and out watching her face as he did so, watching her body shake and react, he waited a moment before he rolled her over onto her back. He started by moving his lips down her neck stopping at her lush and and plump right breast before taking it into his mouth, hearing her  moan. He gently tugged before moving his attention to the next one, repeating the action, he could tell she wanted him to hurry but he refused. Instead he continued downwards spreading her pussy and then lowering his mouth over her. His tongue moved in and out slowly hearing her moan again and he could tell she was close he continued till he felt her come. Lapping it up he looked at her face in that moment watching her body react rising he looked at her.

“Tell me what you want? Do you want this?” Chauncey asked rubbing his dick along her seam he wanted her begging for him.

Never breaking the intensity of his glare she leaned in and kissed him releasing a moan in his mouth. Her waist raised as he nibbled on her clit instantly sticking his tongue inside of her. She felt his tongue flicking over her g-spot. It was almost like war. She wasn’t going to release first. That would be showing him that she couldn’t keep up with him sexually. Greer knew that other girls hadn’t made Chauncey wait. This was a challenge and she knew from this moment she had to connect with him on a deeper moment. She had to get his body to fall in love with hers before his mind. Greer felt her body quivering as he looked at her ready to penetrate her. Thank God she was on the pill. Not only that she would be taking the morning after pill. No way she was ever having children. The fact of the matter if she did they’d be a weapon.
As he pressed against her seam she felt his penis about to slip inside of her. This was going to be his biggest mistake. It took her a long time to figure out sex. How in many ways that sex would lead to who has the power in any relationship. Calming her body she felt like Chauncey was in control at this moment. Then she regained her poise and quickly smiled sexually to get him riled up even more. “Fuck me Chauncey!” She called out passionately as he pressed inside of her. As soon as he was inside of her Greer muscles clamped down on him making sure it would be difficult to move inside of her freely. Knowing that this move made lesser men explode in moments. Greer knew that he’d been waiting for this so it should be fast.

Chauncey finally relented after that look that she gave him hearing her say that she wanted him, he slowly sank into her letting out a groan it was exactly like he thought it would be. Tight full of tension and desire, full of passion and lust. When he felt her clench down on him he refused to relent as his hips thrusted into hers a weaker man my of came. But he had every intention of not letting that happen with them especially not on the first time. He gripped her hips in an act of defiance against her charms before he pulled out and then slammed back into her the force pushing her slightly up the bed. He saw she was into it and then did it again the battle between them that he knew would even invade sex thrilled him. He knew that from the moment he saw her she wasn’t like Logan or Selina or the other women he had been with. There was a bit of mystery with her a bit of a push back, a challenge.

“You will find it’s not going to work.” Chauncey groaned out as he felt her clench down on him again he spread her legs open a bit wider wanting to make sure he kept hitting her in the right spots. He moved quickly in and out and just when he felt she would clench down again he stopped grinning at her wickedly. “You think that this is still a game it’s not, you want this I know you do. Trust me I want this too but not until I’ve had you on every surface of this suite right before I say my vows.” Chauncey leaned down kissing her as his hips kept moving inside of her he had every intention of making her come first and refused to let her win this round.

It was a game and so far Chauncey was winning. Somehow he figured her technique quickly so he wasn’t just a trust fund brat. Sexual conquests and unforgettable nights had prepared Chauncey for her. It was incredible how precise his strokes were to her body. Looking deeply into his eyes Greer moaned intoxicatingly as her head spun in the plush pillow. This was a game and she had to win. As she kissed him passionately biting his lip as her nails pulled down his back. Making sure that she left a mark so Selina saw she was here. Leaving her mark for other women in general it had been so long since she had sex like this. Her eyes narrowed using all her muscle she stopped him in mid stroke.

Then pushed him off of her quickly mounting him wondering if he was ready to please her. As her her hips gyrated against his girth. Greer threw her head back as she moaned, her eyes rolling in the back of her head. Bouncing to the rhythm of the moans and sweat was dripping of their bodies. It was passion and a intoxicating fire. “Now say my name.” She wrapped her hands around his neck. Choking him as her ass bounced up and down on his dick  Leaning down she tongue kissed him. “Say my name Chauncey.” Greer said as she slowed down squeezing on him the passion was so intense. This was war and she was going to win.

Chauncey smirked down at her she was a wicked little thing when she tried to do it again, in many ways she was just like he was. That thrilled him sexually sure he had been with a lot of women but none that never really got him like was at the moment. Her body was made for his and he was staring at her under his thrusts watching her face and he let out a moan as her nails raked down his back. He was a bit taken back when she flipped them onto his back but welcomed the challenge eagerly his hips rotating upwards to hers wanting to make sure she felt him inside of her.

He placed his hands on her hips making sure they slammed down on him just right that he was hitting her g-spot in just the right angle. He felt her hands wrap around his neck and his breathing became heavier as they fucked. His hands traveled up to her breasts squeezing as she rode him to travel downward refusing to answer her as his thumb found her clit before rubbing circles around it. Between the moans and the sweat he felt her finally clench and decided to surrender. “Greer!” Chauncey cried out feeling her clench around him as he exploded inside of her. He rolled her onto her back violently as he fucked her emptying himself into her at least twice more groaning as he did so. His breathing was shallow as he leaned into her ear. “Just remember me next time your husband is fucking you and I will with Selina.”

This had never happened before. As he built into a perfect crescendo of moans and thrust. She felt his balls swelling while the tip was pressing right against her clit. All Greer could do is scream and cry out. Just as she heard him screaming her name. She laid in the bed spinning. Yes sex was easy for her but this was more. It was an instant connection between bodies and minds. It actually scared the hell out of her. Greer grabbed a sheet wrapping it around herself. Greer had never came with someone at the same time. It threw her off her game.

“I have to go.” She swiftly grabbed her dress which was on a hanger. “I have to get ready for your wedding. This was mistake.” Then she dropped her sheet and grabbed her trench coat. Knowing that she had a room upstairs she tied up her coat looking at Chauncey staring at her face. She rushed out of the room knowing that things had just changed. She was playing a game to destroy DGI and he was playing one for something much more guarded. Chauncey was after her mind, body, and heart. As she exited Greer bit her French tipped nail.

*********

Braden looked at Talia on his arm as he handed their coats to the staff of the resort guest were already mingling inside the ballroom and games had been set up outside on the lawn. It was exactly what he imagined the event to be for Selina on her day as the staff was passing out light appetizers and champagne. Talia looked gorgeous next to him but he couldn’t help but looking around the room hoping to catch a glimpse of Selina. He was a skeptic of course holding out hope that she was going to come to her senses and call the entire thing to Chauncey off. Chauncey didn’t love her hell he barely respected her he took a glass from one of the waiters and then he handed a glass to Talia too. He refused to think on it anymore as he smiled at her raising his glass.

“To us, you look lovely thank you for coming with me. Or should I say thank you for dragging me here as your date. The limo ride over was alright wasn’t it?” Braden asked he had splurged instead of driving his own car he had instead opted for the limo. He wanted the date to go well and to prove that he wasn’t still hung up on his high school and college sweetheart. Talia looked gorgeous in her dress and the shoes easily were the highlight of the outfit. “So is this what every woman imagines for them for their big day? It all seems so extravagant.”

“This is how every woman who grew up like Selina Delacroix imagines her big day. It looks like something out of a fairytale. My God it is breathtaking in here.” Talia said in her tutu white Chanel dress. Her sparkly Jimmy Choo were only appropriate for tonight. Flipping her long dark hair. “Avi would love this she’s my little sister she would feel like she’s swept up in mythological times. The limo ride was someone trying to get redemption and it worked. It worked so well.” She laughed softly as she took his hand. Walking to their aisle which they were delivered to by a escort.

“This is by far one of the most cool weddings I’ve been too. Plus we are up front I wonder why Selina put us up here.” Talia said as another waiter arrived with champagne handing it them. Trying to make light of what no doubt was a calculated move by Selina to hurt him. “I see Simon and Bishop here we can trade with them if you’d like. This is really childish of Selina this entire event was a mistake to come do you want to leave?”

Braden wondered for a moment if the money had something to do with how they never worked, he didn’t make enough as Chauncey or hell any of Selina’s past loves but he did well enough to afford to put Dylan in private school. Save for retirement and own his own house, his parents had taught him early on the value of hard earned money. He could have never afforded this for Selina if this is what she truly wanted on her wedding day. There was enough over the top extravaganza for the event he was certain it would be at least double his regular salary. He shook his head no he didn’t want to leave, it was a wedding he and Selina were friends. Obviously she just needed to get him out of her system before the wedding and he took a breath. If he thought about that very long he’d lose it how again her promises to come back to him didn’t happen over the last two weeks.

“If this is what you want Talia I’m telling you now look for someone else there is no way I could afford this. Your sister is a model right? I sprung for the limo, the service owed me a favor and I figured it was a good time to call it in.” Braden said taking the glass from the waiter and taking a long drink of the liquid. He didn’t understand why Selina would sit him right at the front her for this, she’d made her choice and if it was to rub salt in a wound he wasn’t interested anymore. “No I don’t want to go and if you want to switch seats we can. How is work going? You seemed to not like that guy at the park yesterday.”

“Yes her and Brooke just did a print campaign for YSL.” She said holding her breath. Wondering was this what she wanted? Well yeah it was but only bigger. Her wedding would be a spectacle and her father was the one who paid so what did it matter? “Well I want something bigger but that’s father’s job. I’ve been saving my entire life for my wedding well not saving but thinking about it.” Talia said wrapping her arm around Braden. This was nice it didn’t feel like what Simon and Dani had. That undying unbelieving love. Talia sat down sipping what was no doubt some expensive champagne that was sweet and aromatic of fruit.

Flipping her bang and adjusting the ribbon on her bun. “Him he’s this slick guy who thinks that nobody can see through him. I’m like dog when it comes to guys like this. It’s like a joke I see gold-digger miles away and he might not be after money but he’s after something.” Talia said looking at him entering the wedding. “You spoke him up this guy has some nerve. The guy is evil and for some reason Lowell trusts him but I don’t. I’m paid not to.”

Braden saw the tension in her and wondered if it was him or just the setting they were in. Talia was a nice girl and his sister warned him not to screw around with her friend’s heart probably a reason why he avoided dating Dani’s friends. “Money isn’t everything take my parents for example were married in a small and intimate ceremony and they’ve been together for over thirty years. I think you’d look lovely on your wedding day when that comes.” Braden took a sip of the champagne himself it was nice and he could tell it was expensive too. He did mean that with Talia she would look stunning in a gown on her day.

“He seemed to want to be your friend. Are you excited about your promotion then at work you won’t be Lowell’s assistant anymore which means we won’t have to bump into each other under awkward circumstances anymore. I thought he and his wife were well off according to my parents they are from Europe or something like that.” Braden said hoping to keep the conversation going as he saw the man from the park enter the room without his wife. Nice guys normally finished last and he could see why Talia would want to go to some rich snob. If it wasn’t guys like Chauncey it was men like Zerick that could give women the money they craved most of the time. “I think your new friend is staring at us.”

Talia rolled her eyes here he comes. He was so annoying in that charming way. That annoyed her badly because Zerick was the type of guy who seemed to never stop. What that meant was now that she tipped her hand that she was onto him he was on her. That was fine Simon and she would be absolutely on it. The powerful thing was that she was going to figure out what he was going to do. As she folded her arms. “Braden he’s trouble I see it all over him.”

“They were from Europe and his last company he took over they had a little trouble. That was a perfect excuse that I’m over. I’m so over it. The truth is that I’m so onto him. Listen it’s not about money with girls it’s about how you make us feel. Yeah I want a huge wedding but to have thirty years with someone like your parents that’s magical to me. I have seen what love looks like my parents are hilarious and if you see them it’s romantic and sweet. I want romance and someone to make me feel loved and happy. So I don’t know what you are looking for but this is what I’m looking for.”

Braden smiled at least she wasn’t too superficial he could safely say that there were things that mattered to him other than money. Love, family, trust all things that you needed when you should want to marry someone. Looking over at Talia he went to say something more only for Zerick to approach them. Instead he placed his hand on her back a stance to prove that she was there as his date. Besides didn’t Zerick have a wife somewhere? He looked around the room the clock was still ticking down and they still had a bit to go before the wedding started.

Zerick smiled at them as he approached them looking at Talia he was happy to see her again the plan was going well. First Dani, next was Simon but the worst would be her. Lowell’s former assistant and now DGI publicist. He looked over at Braden staking his claim and he wanted to laugh the man was so full of himself the moment that Greer hooked her claws into Chauncey which should be happening now it was all over. Talia of course would be putting up a wall and he would be there at work to break it down, all part of the plan.

“You look lovely Ms. Rose. The white suits you I don’t suppose either of you have seen my dear wife? Granted the ceremony doesn’t start for at least a few more hours but I love the pre-wedding parties like this don’t you? It gives people a chance to get to know one another better.” Looking at them both he looked at them before looking around the room taking note of who was there and who was not. No Chauncey meaning he hoped Greer’s seduction had done its trick and he was fucking her senseless. “I was hoping to speak to Lowell but they told me you don’t do his schedule anymore. I was so sad to hear that.”

“Nope I don’t actually but Mr. Devonshire should be here any moment. My parents are in town and they always have a drink with Jackie and Lowell.” As she looked around for Greer she was no doubt getting more botox. That girl had not a crack on her skin she she was stunning but too perfect. Hell so was Zerick everything was too perfect about them both. When she felt Braden touching the small of the back she smiled. Her sparkling heels tapped as she leaned in and touched Zerick shoulder. “You know what in the spirit of my parents being in Atlas Falls, would you consider actually possibly getting a drink with us? I mean I’ve been a bitch but I’m hard on everyone.”

Talia looked at Braden with a fake smile. No she didn’t trust Zerick at all but this was a good chance to find information on him. This was her chance to stab him with his own sword. She could make him slip and give her something. As she flipped her bang out of her eye she grabbed his arm also. “Two hot guys on my arm aren’t I lucky? Now where is Greer she has to be here I mean no woman who was invited to this wedding wouldn’t show. I mean look at the fashion? Look at the luxury? How did Greer and you meet Zerick? I just think that first meeting stories are darling.”

Braden saw his parents entering and he knew he wanted to at least say hello to them before the wedding started they had been supportive of him over the last few years. Even when he and Selina would get on and off the crazy train together. They were always there encouraging what he wanted and his happiness. “Actually Talia I want to go say hello to my parents really quick I will be right back. It was nice seeing you again Zerick.” Looking at them both he kissed her cheek before going to see his parents.

“It was lovely to see you too DA Fraiser.” Zerick said watching him leave amused at everything that had happened. Clearly Braden was not over Selina and yes he knew Greer was up with Chauncey hopefully on a second or third round she could go a few afterall. He looked at Talia and could tell that she was annoyed as well at Braden soon she would cave and they would be friends possibly more. “I would love to go met your parents and get a chance to say hello to Lowell. I can tell you all about me first meeting Greer on the way. Do lead the way my dear we can catch up with your date later. Greer is running late.”

“Oh always the fashion plate.” She said sarcastically that bitch had wardrobe she’d kill ten men for. As she looked over at her mother and father speaking with Jackie and Lowell. She shook her head. “Bad idea considering my father will grill you. My dad spent years dealing with me and my horrible choices in men. Hell I truthfully have been avoiding him and.” Talia paused as her eyes trailed over to Anderson. He was her favorite mistake to be honest. As she fiddled with her purse. “My parents still are disappointed in me. I mean no matter what we say our parents kill our confidence in our choice and decisions.” Talia bit her bottom lip. Then it dawned on her.

Talia lowered her head as she knew what she had to do. “I’ve had like three of these.” She said referring to champagne flutes. Downing her first glass of champagne as she looked at him. “I was so in love with Hunter. The affair was brief but it was passionate.” Nobody knew about her affair with Anderson and if this came out then she’d know something was up about Zerick. As she looked at Max entering. “She hates me.”

“You secret my dear is safe with me. I think children often do things their parents are disappointed in. Do introduce me to your parents.” Zerick said holding out his arm to her as he watched her watch Max.

He never would have pegged Talia as an affair type especially with an upstanding man like Hunter but rumors had circled for over a year about the state of Hunter and Max’s marriage. In truth he didn’t care which Devonshire fell as long as they all did, but he also knew that he had to keep up appearances now that Talia had moved up at DGI if she did more digging she could uncover other unpleasantries in europe about he and Greer. They had to be prepared for that so for now he let the information sink in to stay there. Perhaps it could be used later for now he was going to charm Mr. and Mrs. Rose on his way to destroying DGI with their daughter on his arm.

“I plan on getting to know them much better now that we have agreed to be friends.” Zerick said flashing a smile for the photographer at the event knowing that the plan was now fully in motion.

Talia slowly walked toward her parents. The disappointment was true, her parents were hurt she would do this. The only one who talked her through the storm of the affair and the messiness was Dani, Simon, and Max. She would have to text her friend and tell her this plan. Whatever Zerick was up to was about to unravel. She touched her clutch looking at her parents as she waved at them. They were standing with Lowell and Jackie as she walked over to them. She smiled at her parents and Lowell and Jackie.

“Well I hate to interrupt but this is Zerick Westwood a VP and new executive mom.” As she walked to her father and hugged him tightly. Flipping her bang out her face. “Daddy you have been in Asia you haven’t met Zerick. My mother favors herself as a fortune teller she reads palms Zerick do you care to take a gander?” She looked at Jackie and smirked. “And Jackie I hear she brought her tarot cards? Dare to cope a gander?”

Lowell looked at Norika and Keith and smiled. This is where Talia got her eccentricness from her mother. Lowell looked at Zerick wondering where was Greer was and why had Walter’s spawn left her. As he looked at his friend he touched Norika shoulder. “You have to read all of our fortune Norika it’s a tradition.”

Keith smiled at Zerick as he extended his hand. “Nice too meet you Zerick. And don’t mind them they indulge my wife in the tarot cards and palm reading.”

“Nice to meet both of you.” Zerick said shaking Keith’s hand and then looking over at Lowell with a smile. Talia’s mother was quite lovely and perhaps at another time he would be down for a palm reading. He laughed a bit at the thought. “I say after the lovely nuptials that I would be happy to let indulge you Mrs. Rose. Are you both enjoying your visit back to Atlas Falls for the wedding and to see your daughter?”

“The cards never lie.” Norika said playfully as she looked at Zerick and Talia. “May I see both of your hands.”

“Mom really.” Talia said looking at Zerick shaking her head. “Oh my God you met Ms. Cleo and she told you had the power. She’s a fraud.”

“Hands Talia!” She said softly as smiled at her daughter. Snatching her and Zerick hand. “Interesting. You two have star lines together. That’s rare it usually means soulmates or love.”

“Sorry momma he’s taken nice try.” Talia snatched her hand back. “You are so transparent.” She laughed looking at Zerick. “Married and you know how much I hate going after married men.” Talia saw her parents instantly looking at Anderson, Cara, Hunter, Brooke, and Ronan. She bit her lip knowing what they were thinking. “It’s over and Zerick knows everything so no need to stare guys. Matterfact Zerick let’s go get something to drink and hors d’oeurves. I will see you two for breakfast.” Talia dragged Zerick away from them.

Lowell looked at Jackie and laughed he saw that he wasn’t the only one who embarrassed his family. He pulled his wife closer as he paused. It couldn’t be. Why was she here? What was she doing here? As he gritted his teeth he looked at Bliss wondering if his daughter knew. As he pulled Jackie closer he knew this was going to be a truly eventful wedding.

“Soulmates don’t you say anything smart. My mom reads tea leaves it’s horrible. She thinks she’s psychic when she’s actually psycho.” She grabbed his hand looking at the mark on both their hands. “Too bad you’re all married and I vowed never ever again. I’d see if she was right.”

*********

Jamal had escaped Mason thumb long enough to show up late to count the money. Since Ronan was shot Kendrick had called a sweep. This was done to make the dope fiends more hungry and to sniff out the snitch. Kendrick somehow got the notion that someone helped Thor infiltrate Ronan’s organization. As he started to count the money he heard the door open. That’s when he saw Yasmine all decked out in her designer clothes. He wanted to laugh looking like Rory’s pretty new doll. She was so beautiful it wasn’t as if it didn’t look good on her. He just knew how the Devonshire’s were and Jamal wasn’t going to let it go. With a cheshire like smirk he had a smug look on his face.

“So tell me how much did you give to get um let me see that’s a Christian Sierano gown. That has to be an over four thousand dollar dress. How much did you put out to get into that?” Jamal said writing down Ivan money. Not a penny missing as he looked over. “What? Why are you looking at me like that.”

Yasmine almost bit her tongue for far too long as she slowly approached him and slapped fire from Jamal face. She’d gotten away from Rory and even lied about quitting. Until she knew her mother was safe he wasn’t walking away just yet. As she caught her breath. “You must be tripping boy. You are in here pretending to be a thug and you’re a rich ass elitist? Your daddy owns the biggest restaurant in Atlas Falls and around the country. You want my world Jamal? You are pathetic I swear! You think this shit is cute being from the hood? Huh? It’s a world so cold and you really want this. Boy I’m not stripping for fun. I’m stripping because my momma a junkie.”

She folded her arms as she shook her head. “You were born with all the luxuries in life and you want to dismiss them? You’ve lost your mind and you’re a spoiled dummy.” Yasmine wiped her eyes. “I’m not some whore and don’t you dare insinuate that.”

“Look you don’t know me!” Jamal said stepping in her face.

“No you don’t know yourself! You’re playing a dangerous game and if Kendrick ever found out he’d kill you. Boy you are in deep and you aren’t digging yourself out of this hole. Hell I could be killed for knowing do you get this is drugs. Billions of dollars! Drugs, guns, and women. Ronan might not have a direct hand in human trafficking but young girls are whores. Men are turned into zombies and kids are being killed by guns. You had everything and you just choose to throw it away why?”

“I want to know.” Jamal stopped as he looked at her. “I want to know what it’s like to be not me. I’ve always been man never mind why am I telling you this.” Jamal said walking closer to Yasmine. As he touched her face. “Man you don’t even get it. Nobody will because sometimes I don’t get it. I’m lost but you gave me some my brother back. I missed him so much so I guess I should thank-you.”

“You told him?” Yasmine asked softly as she bit her lip.

“Yeah I know you hate me and don’t understand this but I just always want to do this.” He leaned down and kissed her.

Yasmine pushed him back as Kendrick entered the room. “Kendrick!” She yelled seeing the rage in his eyes. “Calm down it was a kiss.”

Kendrick had dropped left the resort to head to the club to count the money he needed the counts in ever since the shoot Ronan had buckled down on that. Well that and taking that blonde bitch with him everywhere it was still comical she thought she was in charge. The only reason he didn’t cap that bitch of a mother of hers was because Ronan gave the signal not too. The debutante had a a lot to learn. Walking through the club he smiled to a few of the strippers and the girls on the stage as he made his way to the office. He knew Yasmine had the night off but was there for the count, she was still seeing that fool Devonshire boy. Walking into the office and seeing Jamal defy his orders kissing the woman he thought of like a sister he didn’t even think. He grabbed Jamal by his collar and his hands went to his neck.

“Are you a fool boy?! I told you she was off limits, she ain’t about all that shit you want!” Kendrick screamed at him applying just a little more pressure as he saw Jamal struggling. Yasmine’s voice called him back and he released his grip just a little enough to let Jamal breath. “Give me one good reason.”

“Because I make too much fucking money to kill.” He said grasping his neck. “You spazzing  Kendrick over here power tripping.” Jamal said instantly going into character and not backing down. He couldn’t help but look at Yasmine in her eyes and saw the horror of what he was doing. The gravity of the situation was weighing on Jamal more and more. As he did anything to feel alive and feel like he was living. To be honest his privilege always bothered him and he wasn’t comfortable with being handed everything.

Jamal bit his lip knowing that this was the moment that he was switching into another person. Nobody had ever saw it. Nobody saw this stupidity in action and yeah now looking and seeing what he had done. It was dumb as hell he had put everyone’s lives in danger. As he folded his arms. “Man fuck this I counted I’m out.”

“Yo, chill both of you chill!” Yasmine said looking at them feeling completely confused. What she wouldn’t kill to have his lifestyle and here he was pleading for approval in a world he didn’t belong. She ached for him for a second considering she was currently feeling the exact damn way. Being around Rory’s family and wearing this fancy shit. It was impressive but she wasn’t herself. You could dress the girl up but she was from the ghetto and sometimes she felt like everyone knew that.

“Like he said it was a kiss. Let’s count this money so I can get out of here. I have a date and I’m going to the big wedding.” She said smiling widely. “And yo Kendrick you said I should be dating a doctor or a lawyer how about a heir to a billion dollar fortune? Did good? Or maybe I should of caught his friend? He’s a brother right? Man you mean swinging your dingalings and think that girls can’t handle their own. I been doing this shit for years after Gina!” She pointed at Kendrick. “I’m grown you don’t to tell me white boy, Jamal, or any other man is that understood? I’m taking care of Yasmine and you are tripping we here because of the sweep. Let’s get this money counted. People getting killed and I don’t think it’s smart to be fighting each other.” Yasmine said looking at Kendrick. “I wuv you Kenick.” She said in a playful voice as if she was a kid trying to say his name when she had a stutter.

Kenrick felt himself calm down at Yasmine’s pleas maybe it was the power going to his head or maybe it was having Brooke around all the time. He stepped back from Jamal as he glared at him and then his heart softened a bit at Yasmine there was no reason why he should be so upset. It wasn’t like Jamal was all up in her or the other way around, he also wasn’t sure yet how he felt about the entire Rory thing. Knowing that Ronan was going to rope her in more and that Rory had no way of stopping that gravely worried him. He dropped his hands as he went to the cash to double check the numbers.

“Let’s do one more count. If you have somewhere so important Jamal leave.” Kendrick growled out one of the things that had bothered him as of late was Jamal’s disappearing tricks. The boy was running out every time he came around or had business to take care of elsewhere which looked bad to the crew. “If you think Rory Devonshire is going to save you and rescue you, he’s wrapped your head even more than I can imagine. You two are from completely different worlds. You are living in a dream world with him Yasmine, wake up he’s a Devonshire.”

Even though he was scared shitless he knew he had to stay. As he walked through he picked up Ruffio money and started to count. Jamal couldn’t help but smile as Kendrick said the truth. Yasmine nor he were leaving this shit so easy. They were moneymakers and Rory wouldn’t be able to save her. Jamal continued to count as he eyed Yasmine as Kendrick declared Rory wasn’t the best. As he looked over at him.

“Man from what I hear Rory is a just like his big brother. He’ll use and abuse a woman when some people are devoted to a girl that many guys just won’t understand.” He looked into her eyes. “Everyone knows that you’re going to get hurt just give him up.”

“Both of y’all coming off as haters. Look I’ve known my entire life I had to fight but fighting for the man I love. Fighting to tell all of you that we love each other. It’s neither of your businesses and it will work out. So what he’s a Devonshire you shot high for Gina and got her. Can’t I do the same.” Yasmine seethed back as she looked at them counting the money. “It’s a fucking limo outside he’s going to help me, I’m getting out this shit if it kills me.” She knew what she was declaring and knew how scary this shit was going to get.  “All Prophet money here and closing up shop in the beginning of winter is crazy.”

As she moved quickly to the next pile of money. Ronan was rich and Mercedes could step right on in. That was her proposition to get her out. She would speak to Ronan directly. Moving her hand she started to count Jinx money. This was crazy she was telling someone who would report to Ronan that she was leaving and this rich boy pretending to be a thug. “We can finish this Ken man go ahead.”

Kendrick watched them count the money and he knew what Yasmine was saying was dangerous Ronan didn’t want her out and the last time she went to him she had gotten into this mess to begin with. He waved his hand at her allowing her to leave the last stack was counted and the numbers added up, he looked sideways at Jamal as he got up to leave as well. Jamal was always running off what did he have to get to that was so important? Weren’t colleges on break at the moment? He let them gather their things for now he would figure out what was going on Yasmine he knew was running off with Rory but he was going to find out what Jamal was up too.

“We good here. Ronan will be at your fancy little social event that you are going to Yasmine.” Kendrick said going to the safe and sticking Philip’s cut inside while he put the rest of the cash in the bag to go to Ronan. He would linger in the office for a bit just in case he wanted to know what Jamal was up too, Jamal and Yasmine had worked together she could get it out of him.

Jamal walked out not thinking twice. He just hated being around Kendrick now. It was like when Ronan got shot he saw it. He saw his chance to takeover and he hasn’t been right ever since. As he exited the room he saw Yasmine coming out of the dressing room with something. “Yo, I didn’t kiss you to play me!”

Yasmine grabbed her charm from her necklace it was the only thing fancy she had. She hid it in the club as she saw Jamal. That guy didn’t give up. “No you need to leave me alone you fake. You aren’t no good you could have chose to help me but you didn’t. And don’t yo me with your fake ass.” Yasmine snapped as she felt his hand yank her back.

“Listen to me this place is on its way down the police know all about it and I have to tell you. We are all in the line of fire. Get out Yasmine.” Jamal said looking in her eyes. “Look if Rory can somehow get you out drop everything. Get out Yas.”

“Jamal you’re scaring me.” Yasmine said looking in his eyes.

“Look my cousin is Devin Thompson the detective. He’s a beast and he knows. He knows that I’ve been dealing, that you’ve been dealing. There is someone on the force inside of the club.” Jamal said looking at her before walking away.

Kendrick leaned back against the door watching Jamal leave pointing his finger at him like a gun. “Gottcha.”

*********

“Uncle Mason it’s hard to explain why I have a black mother and I’m lily white.” Maddie said laughing as she curled up to her uncle. “I don’t care about biology grandpa, uncle Jamal even though he’s a jerk right now, uncle Mason is the smartest and I have the most beautiful mother.” Maddie snuggled closer to Mason. “So I heard a little rumor uncle that we maybe attending your wedding soon. I would hate to be a flower girl now okay so it’s out the question.”

Selina laughed as she looked at Maddie knowing that was her little girl. “Madeline get up before you wrinkle your dress and your uncle. Look I just want you to know baby no matter what I love you okay?” She kissed her forehead softly. “It’s almost time for me to become Ms. Devonshire. I love you so much why don’t you see if Dylan has arrived. I have a surprise for you both.”

“Mom shouldn’t I be giving out the surprises? Okay something borrowed my mom Logan um mother gave this to me. It’s a bracelet that she had when she was a little girl. I want it back so I thought this was be perfect for you today.” Maddie opened her purse which held a gold box with a sparkling rose gold and pink diamonds bracelet.

She’d seen it so many times it was hard to count. To see Maddie doing this she really wanted this. “Thank-you baby.” She leaned down and kissed her cheek. “Go on baby I have to talk to your uncle.”

“Always being kicked out one day I’ll be involved in all this mess.” Maddie said walking out of the room.

“Make sure she is escorted out when I say no to the pastor understood? Her and Dylan.” Selina said sitting at her vanity. “I don’t want her to see me destroy Chauncey. Make sure she’s gone and I want to rip him apart. I’ve never felt so conflicted in my life do I make everyone happy or myself? But that’s how I um got myself in this situation being Ms. make everyone else happy. I’m going for me and Mason you should go for yours.”

Mason had arrived early after making sure Jamal was still sleeping in and made his way to the resort. He wanted to check in with Selina before the ceremony everything had to be in order. Chauncey had signed the papers and now she had Maddie. He still didn’t feel right about it this could severely backfire once Chauncey found out what she was doing but she had asked him to do it so he did. He tried his best to force a smile as Maddie mentioned marrying Scarlett it was not happening anytime soon he had to have a plan in motion but once he did it was over. Scarlett knew that he was not going to stay and marry her that was what he promised himself it was not going to end like that for him.

“I understand and you are sure Chauncey isn’t onto this. He could be pulling the wool over your eyes and I don’t want that for you. It is going to be bad enough when you unleash on him up there that he signed you partial rights. You know he is going to get his lawyers on this.” Mason said looking at her wanting to reassure her that no matter what he had her back at the end of the day. She was his sister and he would do anything for her and Maddie was like family and he knew this would be bad for her too. “I have your back you know that I’m just giving you fair warning. Chauncey is going to flip his shit up there. Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

Selina knew Chauncey was going to flip however he’d signed her parental rights to Maddie. As she reapplied her lipstick and looked at her brother through the mirror. It felt like her stomach was dropping but she felt so in control. What if this was all apart of Chauncey grand game? She shook her head knowing that he wouldn’t let her get this far. She was about say as much when she looked at her brother. “Whatever happens today I’m enjoying this moment I’ve never had the upper hand against Chauncey and today I have that. Today I know I’m going to walk away with Braden and my daughter.”

Refusing to believe that he knew anything if he did the snake would have attacked. She knew her soon to be co-parent to well. Surely Chauncey was a conniving bastard but if he found out about Maddie he’d be after her by now. Hopefully some brotherly spat would get him all huffy so when she knocked him out she’d break him. Fluffing her curls as she looked at her brother. “I’m so positive that today is a turning point and I’m breaking free and so should you. If you want to live a happy life Mason you are gay and it’s ok. It’s okay baby brother it’s so alright.” She said softly wiping a tear from her face and kissing him on his forehead. “If he doesn’t love you then he doesn’t. So be it but Jamal, me and even that bitch Ophelia loves you.”

“Very few people get the upper hand on the Devonshire’s or Chauncey I just want to make sure that you are alright. Hopefully Braden takes this as well as what you have planned I know it had to be hard to stay away from him after the fundraiser for you.” Mason said looking at his sister, he knew her heart was with Braden Fraiser. But to sell herself as loyal to Chauncey and for him to get all the paperwork ready she had went back to sell the appearance of staying with him. “Plus I saw him when I walked in he brought Talia as his date. This was risky you know that the man’s waited a long time for you and I hope it works out in your favor with him.”

“I can’t just leave Scarlett you know how dad can be how he snubs his nose at people like Simon or Zach or hell Dante. He doesn’t accept that and can you imagine his face let alone his rage? I just don’t want to deal with all that and plus Scarlett isn’t just going to let go of me that easily you know how badly she wants a part of DGI. After dad and Lowell took away her father’s seat before he died.” Mason said looking at his sister and meaning it that was a huge fear of his that his father would look at him like he did the others. Full of disgust and would take it out on him and his siblings. “I know you and Jamal love me. I also think Ophelia does too despite everything that happened she was the only mom I ever knew.”

“I know that she loves you, and I know we love you but Mason you can’t.” She stopped as she touched her belly with tears in her eyes. “Mason you love Simon he’s a good guy and smart don’t you want to share that with the world?” Selina asked knowing that she wasn’t about to get through to him. Growing up with her father had always looked down on effeminate men. When she was twelve she remember him insulting and saying disparaging remarks about homosexuals. It just wasn’t something that men did in his generation. As she folded her arms she saw his stress about Scarlett. That girl was trouble and she didn’t trust her at all with her baby brother.

“Really at the end of the day do you want to live for our high society? I know your secret and the world didn’t stop.” She said as she walked slowly to Mason. “I just want my handsome and smart brother to be complete. Not a half of a person who doesn’t get to explore his happiness fully. It sucks to see you hiding when I see you as a true man. The truth is that nobody is going to see what I see. The real you Mason.”

Mason knew that he loved Simon but he couldn’t openly be with Simon in the way he deserved he knew that it was too much at risk. He saw the conflict in his sister at what she was about to do and the last thing he wanted to have her worry about him. Leaning down he hugged her looking in the mirror she looked beautiful. He smiled at the necklace on her neck that he knew was their mother’s. She would be proud of her too that she was living life. His mother he knew would be proud that she was not going to marry Chauncey at the end of the day.

“Today is about you Selina not me and Simon or me and Scarlett. Do you need anything else do you want me to give you a few minutes alone. I should go out and at least greet some of the guest before this all goes to hell.” Mason said looking at her with a grin knowing that it was going to explode soon. In the meantime despite his reservations about Simon and Scarlett he wanted her thinking about her today. “Mom would be proud of you sticking it to Chauncey like this.”

“I have to think that she would be proud of this. That I’m not marrying for a arrangement to solidify two families that are already solid. Whatever happens today I have Maddie and my dignity.” Standing up she kissed her brother cheek. “You are perfect just the way you are.” She released him and then walked to the crystal water pitcher. “I’m fine go ahead.”  Selina said walking to him wiping his shoulder removing a wrinkle. As she walked back to her vanity she stared at her reflection and felt the weight of what she was about to do.

*********

Hunter had arrived at the resort alone planning on meeting his mother who was finishing up the last minute wedding plans for Selina. He had read Bliss’s text the night before that it was urgent that they needed to talk about what happened. Maddie wasn’t going to back down and as much as he loved his niece he knew she could cause a lot of problems with him and Max for the divorce. He had the pictures of Max with Philip but damning testimony from his niece with catching him and Bliss could seriously put negotiations at a stand still. Mason had already filed the papers and soon they would be delivered to Max and he just wanted it done at this point, wanted free of her. Free to move on to Bliss, wanted to start a new life with her and he only hoped Maddie wouldn’t complicate that. Seeing Bliss inside the ballroom he approached her with a smile, she was stunning bridesmaid.

“I got your messages last night I was out with Mason and Jackson. He knows about us, surprisingly despite how much he loves his twin he wants me to be happy to. What did Maddie tell you? What in the hell does she want? She has to know that she can’t just blackmail us.” Hunter said placing his hand on her back to reassure her that Maddie was not something they had to be worried about. He didn’t want Bliss to think that he wasn’t committed to her or them, he was nothing was more clear to him other than he wanted that. To be with Bliss. “I don’t want you to worry about her alright. We can handle this no matter what happens. I’m not just going to bow out.”

“What do you mean I shouldn’t be worried that little girl is a demon. She’s like a mini-Chauncey have you seen your beloved niece with her fangs out? I feel badly I’m now the slutty aunt who boinking uncle Hunter. Now look how she’ll look at me Hunt, I’m skanky and I like her she’s cute and funny and smart and I just want a place with this family. Is that so much to ask? I mean I just have been through so much and none like me. I can’t keep up this facade that I’m tough how much more am I supposed to go through? A fifteen year old is about blackmail me!” Bliss said trying to stay calm as she looked at him. “You know how badly this sucks? That I want to kiss the man that I’m in love with in public?” Bliss said biting her lip as she fixed Hunter’s tie.

Bliss was excited about the prospect of being with Hunter and finally being happy and in love. As she turned around she saw Brenda gritting her teeth at her. “Looks like we have company coming.” She stepped back as she looked at him. Slowly turning away from Hunter she could tell this was about to be a dramatic show.

“That’s right my son is rid of one Devonshire skank he now has another on his heels. Hunter is my son and I won’t continuously let you women keep spinning him. What is this? Are you crazy have all my children gone crazy? Brooke is dating a mobster and you are screwing your wife’s sister? This has to be some kind of cruel joke that you all seem to want to play on me?” Slowly touching her son’s face. “Hunter this is dangerous we all know Max is a bloodhound she’ll destroy both of you. Think of what you are about to bestow on your beloved Bliss.” Flipping her hair she looked at them both. “This is a mess all of you weave and I won’t let you fail anymore.” She said looking at Hunter. “This is a Greek tragedy. Will Anderson come home divorced? I’m running for mayor this can’t get out!” She hissed at them both. “Think about me for once Hunter.”

“You’re not slutty Bliss and Maddie sticks her nose into adult business where it doesn’t belong she thinks her father walks on water. The problem is he doesn’t nor does Max. Maddie knows when to hide a secret and when to not and she knows that I wouldn’t appreciate it getting out. It does suck you have no idea how badly I want to sneak off with you and do a repeat of yesterday.” Hunter said reassuring her with a smile while she adjusted his tie. They had been cut short the day before and he was looking forward to it just being them again. Perhaps after the wedding they could get away for a bit he knew Max would be off with Philip the first moment she got. “It looks like we do.”

Hunter looked at his mother as she approached them and let out a breath no one was spinning him at least not anymore he had made sure of that with Max. Mason had filed the paperwork last night Max would be served with divorce papers in a few weeks it all would be over. He knew his mother was trying her best to look out for him but judging by her own choices he wanted to laugh at the matter. “Mother I see you have met Bliss. Bliss my eccentric mother who is running for mayor. I hear you and Walter have quite the past of your own mom. I doubt you should be the one to judge me or Brooke. As for Anderson didn’t he already have that little fling on Cara last year and you swept that under the rug too? I’m done thinking about what other people want.”

That fling was none other than that Devonshire puppy Talia Rose the exotic fruit that she couldn’t stand Anderson tasted. That girl was trouble and a puppet to Lowell Devonshire something she didn’t like. The worse part was she felt like Anderson thought he’d leave Cara for Talia. As she shook her head at Hunter justifying his behavior by his siblings failure. She gritted her teeth as she shook her head at Bliss. “Tessica Blisston a stunning statuesque blonde beauty came into this town and wrecked havoc. I’m seeing it clear as day you are just like her. You love the drama darling and it’s all over that stunning couture on your back. From one drama queen to another don’t pull my son into it.”

Brenda remembered how dark it got when Tess came to town. As she twisted her hands. “You two are really playing with fire. Tess is all over you little girl. You feed on the weak but not my son. Not my son.” Brenda was about to turn around when she saw Max entering. “I’d rather you with that bitch then this one. Oh Max you look stunning daughter-in-law.” Brenda opened her lace fan and coyly looked at Bliss. “Your mother is a virus and I hate you just because of her. I’m sure you’ve been getting that a lot lately.”

Bliss watched everything unfold and she was absolutely disgusted with Brenda. The woman was vile upper crust society bitch in the worst way. Sure her mother is vile and could have absolute ice in her veins. This however was cruel just hating her because of Tess. Tess was her own woman a woman who was genuinely dangerous. After all these years her mother is still chasing pavements to be rich and famous. It was just laughable how she traveled through Europe trying to marry rich and little old Bliss got it her first try. Looking down in her ring finger she was right. If the past ever caught up her she’d be in grave danger. When Brenda called over Max it was almost like that girl in prep school you have to kick their ass. Bliss leaned in and whispered in her ear.

“I speak four different languages, I’m highly skilled in etiquette, and have went to only the best schools. My mother never did any of that so take what you will. I’m her but oh so much more dangerous. Now put down your fangs before I slay you bitch.” Bliss purred making sure Hunter couldn’t hear her bark back. As she tilted her head she looked at Max approaching. “Big sister my God that dress is stunning. I mean you look absolutely beautiful.” Shooting Brenda a bitch try me look and the focused in on Hunter. “This is awkward don’t you think?”

“No I don’t think it’s awkward at all it’s entertaining. Max get your skanky sister away from our boy.” Brenda said looking at Max. “Prove  to me you aren’t as weak as your pathetic mother. Don’t let history repeat itself.”

Hunter looked at his mother and scowled she was being such a monster and he gritted his teeth pulling Bliss closer to him and making a statement at the same time. They had thought that Maddie would be the problem today when instead it was his own mother. “Mother now is not the time or the place. It’s now awkward at all Bliss. Max made her choice I made mine.” His eyes met his Max’s for moment and he could feel the hate he had for her surfacing. She had been screwing around with Philip for over a year yet he was expected to the the perfect husband and partner to her. Reaching over her grabbed a glass of champagne and passed one to Bliss as well.

“I’m surprised you made it. Then again I’ll keep my eye out for Philip to see when he saunters in too. Hell I’m not shocked he’s not draped all over your arm.” Hunter said letting her know the guns were out with him he was done playing. She could do her worst as far as he was concerned and he saw his mother’s mortified face at his stance. Bliss looked like she wanted to crawl into something and die and he refused to let that happen. “I do agree with Bliss that dress does look amazing on you. If I still wanted you that is.”

Max had been to see Philip who for once had refused to see her and it was a hard pill to swallow she wanted that with Philip. She had been jerking him around for the last year so she couldn’t exactly blame him either but it still stung. Instead she had went home to change into the couture dress and make her way to the resort. Chauncey’s wedding to Selina was another ploy another thing for DGI to look good at. Chauncey was all about sleeping around with who he wanted and when he wanted them and while she and Selina were close. She felt bad for her and had often wondered if Hunter had felt the same. Looking at her sister on his arm though filled her with so much rage as she approached. She shot Bliss the dirtiest look she could and it was a miracle Brenda was being semi gracious to her.

“How is history repeating itself again dear sister that is the question is it not? Brenda you look smashing as always. Bliss you look how can I put this nicely…even that couture still makes you look like a secondary replacement to me.” Max said her tone biting as she spoke looking between Bliss and her sister. She took a sip of her own drink as she twirled her glass glaring at Hunter this would be fun if she considered it foreplay but his word cut her. No one just threw her away no one not even Hunter Kincaid. “I am sure a real man would appreciate this and the dress then again you wouldn’t know about that would you Hunter? Bliss if you ever want pointers on how to not get bored with him we can compare notes. Oh that is right you are still so innocent with my husband aren’t you.”

“I am, like a virgin big sister but it’s funny you say that we can take notes? I have a note for you don’t try so hard. Look at you decked out in your Oscar De La Renta and no where or no one to care. You are a sad little woman, you’re mad at me for finally seeing what you’ve been abusing for over a year.” Bliss ran her hands over her dress and laughed. “You wish you could wear what I do. You wish designers designed gowns like this for you. You were a model but I was a muse. Remember sweetie I traveled all over and I’m what you want to be. A successful woman who doesn’t use her last name as a reason she’s far in life.” Bliss bit back at Max as she looked at Brenda who was enjoying this all too much.

Bliss touched Hunter arm having enough of this entire situation. “I need some air because I’m so sick of fighting and arguing with you! You want to do who is the baddest Devonshire bitch is you win. You win Max but you didn’t win him and as for the looks of it you didn’t win Phillip either. You lose and it must feel sad. Sad to be so miserable and just so you know it’s not my fault my mother fucked our father you miserable people. Whatever she did I have no control over. So you can go to hell, and you can go to hell.” Bliss walked away from them all as she looked away from them.

Brenda looked at Max and leaned in. “Oh thanks for the compliment but how sad Max. I always thought you were my heir apparent as Queen of Atlas Falls. She however has spunk and isn’t marred by the ugly scandal that is Philip Montgomery. Tsk tsk oh Hunter I want you to know that out of all my children you are the one who continually disappoints me.”

Max looked at Brenda and then at Hunter as Bliss stormed away she had business to attend with her sister and she certainly didn’t like that little comment at all. No one won against her no one and especially not some second rate bastard that her father thought it was appropriate to come to come. Downing her glass of champagne she looked at them both. “If you will both excuse me. I have other things to attend too.” Turning on her heel she disappeared into the crowd keeping a close eye on her sister so that she could catch her at the right and exact moment.

Hunter sipped his champagne as he watched both ladies leave and then looked at his mother with amusement. He always knew that part of her that he was her disappointment that didn’t cease to amaze him, it only made him pity her more. “Yes well I may be that mother but at least I’m not you and won’t end up a bitter alcoholic over my lost happiness. Think on that for a bit over a few drinks tonight. I’m going to see Brooke.” Walking away from her and leaving her there he knew what he was doing. He was not going to end up like her at all.

Brenda stood their feeling alone as the words echoed in her head. She had wasted her youth being with their father instead of being with man she loved. God Walter and she were so nasty to each other. After all these years his words still affected her. Looking at the waiter with someone’s drink she snatched it off the golden platter. Gulping down the vodka and tonic she walked to the back of the bar. Brenda wanted so badly to drink the entire glass. Her hand shaking Brenda gulped down the rest of the alcohol. A feeling of ease and control waved over her.

*********

Bliss let the cold winter air blow against her skin as she looked at Atlas Falls. You could actually see the entire city. It really looked magical almost like Paris or some small European country. How she missed Europe. The truth was with his reach if she even visited he’d know. What she wouldn’t do was having him coming after her. Bliss wrapped her shawl around her shoulders as she exhaled. Between Brenda and Max it was becoming harder to just have a moment with the man she loved. She had started an affair with Hunter but they were more than sex though or a tawdry affair. He dominated her thoughts and made her feel alive after Dimitri. That man drained her not only physically but emotionally. When she heard heels she turned around to see Max. Shaking her head. “I don’t have time for this.”

When she saw Max was standing in her way to leave the terrace. “Fine you want to do this now? What do you want from me? I came here just like you would with my gun locked and loaded. You are mad for me even breathing my dear blame our father not me. He slept with my mother and I am just the product of the affair. I’m bastard but you are a bitch that’s losing. How does it feel Max? How does it feel to lose to your baby sister? Hunter wants me and whatever tips you could give me I don’t want them. You see it has to be so boring with you but with me it’s truly a thrill. Whatever Hunter does to my body will be well worth the wait and when he’s done ravishing me. Well we are going to laugh because I brought out the the freak in good old boy Hunter.” Placing her hands on her hips. “Maybe you aren’t woman enough to see what type of man you had.”

Max had followed her outside the the freezing cold of the snow and winter of Atlas Falls it was cold but well worth it. Bliss thought that she was just going to walk in and take her life she had another thing coming. She listened to her rant and rave again about her poor little life that she came to town for. She should have stayed in Europe it was insulting to have her in town, to throw her in her mother’s face along with her siblings. She laughed at her she never lost, ever not to other girls in school not in business and not now. Not ever, she moved into Bliss’s face to block her exit refusing to get out of the way when her little sister wanted to run. Bliss started this little war and if she wanted to play she was hell bent on finishing it.

“Your mother was a whore that was chasing after my father and wormed her way into my parent’s marriage. I wouldn’t of put it past her to make sure you came into existence no sweetheart my problem is that you being here is fucking insulting. I haven’t lost anything to you and should my husband take you to bed then well you are no better than that rancid bitch you call a mother now are you? You say you are nothing like her but I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this case no does it?” Max seethed right back she refused to back down about this for all the protesting she had done about her innocence she knew better. Bliss was playing a game one she knew all too well. “Truth sting a little doesn’t it? When he fucks you if he hasn’t already I’ll ruin him in court and you.”

“You aren’t even sure who you want to be with and I’m a whore. Mirror meet Max. You are so lost in yourself you have no clue you hate me for the exact damn thing you’re doing.” Bliss let her dig linger in the air before she spoke again. “My mother is vile, rancid, and still the bitch who still shakes your mother to the core. Just like I shake you to your core. Oh Max once again just so you know I haven’t slept with Hunter yet. I just can’t wait though I’m sure all the pressure and chemistry boiling between us will bubble over and explode. I can keep my legs closed but you can’t. This entire town knows you slept with Philip and when Mason get’s Philip on the stand well I don’t think you’re worth a man perjuring himself for.” Bliss snapped back at Max as she tried to get around her. “Move Max!” She said getting even more infuriated. “I said move!”

When she saw Maddie and Mason walking by people were starting to stare at them. This was almost embarrassing but this wasn’t going to end until Max saw she wasn’t afraid. “I warned you.” Bliss hauled off and grabbed her arms slinging her into the snowy terrace onto her butt. “Always beneath Mad Max no doubt your designer gown is ruined but I asked you to move and you didn’t. Goodnight Max.” Picking up a little snow she threw it at her with a snide laugh. “Never seen you look better big sis.”

“I’m selfish what can I say daddy raised us that way I know exactly what I am doing you see right now I need Hunter to be my husband you know that huge casino deal? You know the one that our father is banking on to open up jobs and bring in lots of money. Hunter is on the committee along with that stupid dumbwit that Atlas Falls is electing into office Walter Fraiser. He will follow through on the casino as long as he is married to me.” Max said letting out a laugh at Bliss the only reason that she had not divorced Hunter was that, it was a business deal. That was the irony of it all her little sister thought she really cared if Hunter finally went out and fucked around on her in truth maybe it would good for him to let loose. “That is something you clearly haven’t learned from our father a good business deal. As for Mason I doubt he’d actually do that you see his sister is marrying our dear brother in an hour or so. So please do throw yourself at him so you can make a fool of yourself even more.”

Max refused to move when Bliss went to leave and then the bitch laid her hands on her and placed her into the snow and she let out a shriek. Who in the hell did she think she was? Her entire body was shaking from the cold and the rage she felt. She went to say more only for a handful of snow to arrive right in her face. Having enough she let out a shriek before getting up and shoving Bliss back into the embankment. Raising her right hand she let it collide as hard as it could against her perfect little face. “I hate you God why won’t you just go away or better why in the hell didn’t Tess get rid of you when she knew you wouldn’t work as the grand trap she wanted you to be?”

As her body hit the cold embankment of snow. She started to scream the cold splashing against her couture gown. As she quickly grabbed her sister’s ankle pulling her down back into the snow. This was it. If she thought she was just going to slap her then she had another thing coming. Clawing at her sister she intentionally ripping that cheap disgusting garment. As she reached Max she shoved her face in the snow. “So pretty!” Bliss screeched at her as she let out a infuriated growl. “You bitch!” Punching her back with all her force.

“You think you can bully everyone but me! You will never bully me! I’m not Dani! I’m not anyone you’ve ever contended with. Why didn’t you just die in the womb because everyone know you’re Lowell’s biggest mistake! More than Jackson you are a slut just like your mother!” She was covered in snow, wet, and slippery. Letting Max go she scooched back and tried to get up. “You ruined my dress and you ruining my relationship with Hunter! Stay away from me!”

Max felt the fist collide with her face and recoiled before her hands flew to her sister’s throat while her face was shoved into the snow. She was pretty sure at some point she had began to pull on hair and the dress as well. Her chest was heaving as they tossed and turned in the snow as the words of Bliss’s relationship with Hunter came to the surface so her dear husband was looking and her slutty sister was fishing. She had no intention of staying out of it if anything it was only going to drive her more to destroy them both until they both broke in humiliation. As for failing her father at the moment that was besides the point he was happy in business.

“My mother the slut? That is rich coming from Tess Blisston’s offspring! My mother put up with your mother in her face while yours screwed our daddy not the other way around.” Max screamed back rage inside of her. By the time they had separated her eyes met her mothers on the terrace as Jackie looked between them both. “She stared it.”

“I don’t care who started it. It’s over both of you go get or find something else to wear your brother is getting married in an hour.” Jackie said horrified as she looked between the two girls hearing the back end of the conversation.

She had heard about the fight from Mason and Maddie and guest had started to ask what was going on. On today of all days when the wedding was going to happen she expected better from them both especially Max. Selina was like family to them, a sister and her day didn’t need to be marred by a fight in the snow. She caught Hunter look in and the girls and she glared at him to stay the hell away he and Bliss’s relationship was the cause of this to begin with. She stared between them both knowing Max had seen her face and for a moment she thought Bliss did too, in fact she would venture to say they both felt guilty.

“Do I make myself clear?” Jackie said having enough today was not about their pettiness.

“Jacqueline you won’t talk to my daughter like that.” Tess said in her superior haughty newly acquired English accent. Taking off her shawl revealing her killer body she still had. She helped Bliss up shooting Max a death stare. Wrapping it around Bliss she looked at her daughter. “You look a mess Beauty.”

“Mom.” Bliss collapsed into her mother’s arms. As much as she detested her mother it was so good to see a familiar face. Even though she was just a tool for her mom this was too much. She was hated and in her mom own twisted way she knew she was loved. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Look at me.”

“No Beauty you’re fine my dear. I’ll get you cleaned up.” Tess said as she looked at Max and Jackie who was also getting her mother’s help. “I actually just checked in for an extended stay well when my dear friend Forbes called me. Telling me about the rumors around town I had to come home. Plus you know father is sick darling. As for you little vile witch if you ever place your hand on my child. I swear your mother or father won’t be able to protect you. You think you’re hot shit huh? Honey I’ll devour you for breakfast, then leave your remains for the crows. I will destroy you do you hear me little girl. Jackie you know first hand I dismantle your marriage. “

“Mom!” Bliss said looking at her mother.

“No Bliss she thinks she can treat you like trash. I’ll bury this little girl under my shoe. Keep playing Max and Jackie tag teaming my daughter. Let’s see how you two do with me here.”

“Mom, Jackie isn’t involved.” She said looking at Jackie trying to slow her mother down.

“Oh she’s always involved. Where do you think that Max is getting all this hate from? The boys are starting to warm up too you correct?” Not letting her speak because her face said it all. “Exactly this little bitch is only picking up on her mother’s hatred of me and you.”

Jackie helped Max up trying her best to ignore Tess in her face years later that still hurt looking at Tess. She felt her back stiffen at the implication that she knew something stupid bitch. “Max go change leave the whores to themselves.”

Max brushed off the snow the wind settling on her skin in a chill as she walked right up to Bliss and Tess. She was never one to back down and the older bitch that she knew trapped their father with Bliss thought she was welcome and could threaten her.

“The only ones that are trash here at the moment are you you old hag and your whore of a daughter that is hell bent on history repeating itself.” Max spat laughing at them both before turning and walking away, to find another dress.

“Get out before I have security throw you out of this wedding you were not invited.” Jackie said looking at Tess. Turning on her heel she went to find Lowell to let him know his whore was back in town and hell bent on causing even more trouble for Hunter and Max.

“I was actually invited.” Tess said with a smirk on her face. “I bet you’re wondering who invited me but that’s none of your business.” As she held up one finger rushing behind Max.

“Mom stop.” Bliss shot Jackie a bitch you made me call in the reinforcements. Rushing behind her mother in a broken heel. “Mom!”

Tess caught up to Max waiting at the elevator. She quickly yanked her hair from behind. “Listen little girl. I have no morals or scruples and I will make you rue the day you crossed my child.” The elevator door opened and she pushed Max in quickly into the elevator and pressed the button. “We will meet again dear and your mommy or my daughter won’t be able to stop me from chewing you apart.” Tess turned around looking at Jackie aghast at what she’d just done. Seeing Bliss covering her face she laughed. “Come on Beauty let’s get you cleaned up. History does repeat itself Jackie. This time I’m betting on a Blisston.”

Tess yanked Bliss and walked away with her daughter toward the boutique. “I’m going to drive Jackie and the rest of those Devonshire brats crazy. You and I are about to get everything we’ve wanted.”

*********

Merci was going to be late. Of course Skye would arrive in the middle of the wedding. Of course she’d demand to see her immediately. Which she didn’t actually mind at all. Her assistant Jules had it under control for one hour. Merci had to go home to pick up her second outfit for the reception. This Dior dress was killing her it was vintage and was so tight she could barely breathe. However this was what they wanted. They had to have the party planner looking beyond everything. Merci also felt the flutters about seeing Skye. It had been too long and to be honest she was the closest thing to family she’d ever had. Skye and she survived multiple group homes and vowed never to get separated. Skye needed to get away after the threesome and drugs consumed her. Jackson was a jerk to her with the entire Esme stuff and they all were kids. She just hoped Skye wasn’t trying to infiltrate the upper society again. It didn’t work for either one of them well. This however was a good thing because her business was serving them and getting rich off of it. She was doing good but her condo, clothing habit, and debit was kicking her ass. She couldn’t keep doing this. Merci had to play the part but the part was killing her.

As she walked into the airport she saw the bright red luggage and the disgusting beautiful girl. How did that bitch get off a plane looking like this? She was coming to the wedding as her date after all Devin didn’t want to be it. Why not have one of the most beautiful girls in the room on her arm. She had a Chanel women’s suit that was going to look amazing. Plus when they dropped off Selina’s belongings they could get a couple of things. Hell everyone would at the reception they could go for Jackie, Max, and Bliss. A pair of diamond earrings here and Prada bag there nobody would notice. Then resell to the highest bidder and they were paid. It was a scheme they’d been doing since they met the elite of Atlas Falls. Running up to Skye she hugged her and kissed her cheek.

“You look amazing and we have to hurry you’re coming to the social event of the season. Selina Delacroix and Chauncey Devonshire wedding Egypt In America.” Merci said so excited to have her back. “I love the nail polish but why are you here? What are you up too and don’t say you missed me because we Face Time every single day.”

The plane ride from Europe it was an easy job that she had just came from and her recent fling was none the wise so when Merci had called to tell her about Selina’s wedding she knew it was time. Time to return to Atlas Falls she had been gone far too long, Merci was there not to mention Jon and Jackson. She had been clean for almost a year now and she had no desire to go back to that life but she was going to face her past head on. She smiled as she walked towards Merci who looked amazing as always she returned the gesture with her best friend, who was more like a sister than not. Merci and her were like sisters raised in the same group home and they found each other and through all the shit she had been through with her grandmother, her parents dying the Jackson and Jon scandal Merci was there. Had they made mistakes along the way of course they had the drugs, the partying but now they were older and wiser. Her heels clicked on the airport as she felt people looking at her Louboutins a gift that she had helped herself too.

“I heard it is the wedding of the year it is supposed to be even bigger than Max and Hunter’s then again from what you have told me they are on the rocks too. The nails are of course to complete the look later let the eyes travel all the way up.” Skye said pulling back as she looked down at the luggage they had time to stop by she could get changed and then go to the wedding. With Merci she could get in easily, they could get out just as easy with what they needed. Once it was all complete she could then call their buyer who would pay top dollar for the merchandise. “This will be an easy score for us you know that they’ll all be so caught up in the nuptials. I missed you and home or the closest thing that is home to us. How are you, you still seeing that guy?” Skye said wanting to know who the mystery man was that Merci had yet to tell her about.

Rolling her eyes Merci knew Devin would come up. So they weren’t a couple but the truth was she was mad about that blue eyed cop. It sucked because he was all about Rhonda Rousey cop clone. So much about Devin confused her. He kept approaching her but wouldn’t come make love to her. Ok that was jumping the gun but God she wouldn’t mind if he bent her over and showed her who was the boss. Flipping her cute little bob she shook her head at Skye. That skank was wearing three thousand dollar heels and she didn’t think she was getting away with that. As she picked up her Louie bags and her heels knocked against the marble. As she exhaled laughing looking at Skye.

“I missed you so much! His name is Devin Thompson and don’t you tease me. He’s a cop and also Jon’s partner.” She said in a singy voice. “I just have to squash his love for his stupid girlfriend.” Merci hunched her shoulders. “Oh guess who it is? Miranda you remember how that bitch treated us when she met us? Jon was so embarrassed but we didn’t make it any better kissing in front of momma and poppa Harrison.” Merci laughed as she put Skye’s luggage in her BMW. That the note was three months behind for. Image was everything and sometimes a pair of heels were just as important as a briefcase. “So do I have to ask about the shoes or the Louie luggage? Or the expensive extensions in your hair or that diamond tennis bracelet! Why are you here again if that European guy is all over you?”

“Devin huh? I seem to recall him being an uptight asshole the last time I saw him and Miranda is no better she is a bitch. Placing all the judgement on me when her brother was the one calling me begging me to fuck his brains out.” Skye said that was something that still burned her a year later how beneath Miranda and the rest of Jon’s family they had made her and Merci feel. More so her other than Merci it hurt. Yes she had been fucking Jackson too and the coke, God she thought she needed the coke at the time but she had genuinely cared about Jon. She wondered if Jon was seeing anyone. “I want her to pay so if it means fucking Devin girl go for it. She has always thought she was better than us, hell do you remember her and Dani in high school God. How is Jon?”

Skye saw the notice on the car she now knew why Merci had called her and she also knew why she had come home, her sister was in trouble. They both had a bit of a shoe and clothing habit and sometimes that had to come before eating or payments. It stemmed from having nothing growing up for years. Looking over at Merci she touched her shoulder wanting to reassure her this score would be everything it was the perfect job. “This bad uh? Good thing we have this job in order to come and get us both caught up. So other than the usual suspects you mentioned something about out of town royalty as well? I want to stay somewhere nice while I am in town are you still in your condo? We should go visit the home too, maybe over the holidays. How much are you in for right now with the bills?”

“Twenty-Thousand.” She said honestly saying it out loud she felt like a child and it felt even worse that Skye was here now bailing her out. Hell they were sisters what was family for if you couldn’t call for help? Between the bills and being alone she couldn’t be happier that Skye was home. “I just have to look the part you know? This rich people don’t understand the working class. I got my shit together enough to start this business and after these last few jobs I’m done. I don’t want to keep doing this Skye.” Her mind shifted to Devin as she thought about Miranda face. She hated Dani, Miranda and all those other judgmental bitches. They made them feel dirty by expressing their sexuality. Hell she didn’t like girls but it was a experience. One day she can look back and smile that she did what she wanted in life. Not like them who were afraid of sex and being sexual. Dani was the most frigid bitch she ever met. Miranda was just a bitch. To make a long story short Miranda deserved it. She deserved to get Devin taken.

“What makes it all sad? It’s he wants me and yes he’s still uptight but it’s cute.” She said turning on her street looking at Skye wonder. “No girl, I’m not in that small hole in the wall. This is my new condo I’m on floor twenty and I have a Jacuzzi tub. I’m doing okay if I can keep up with these rich bitches. I have to be cute and fun always. No being a broke you know? If I look poor how will they trust me with millions for overdone parties.” Merci said parking in her spot. Jumping out she looked at Skye. “I do have a Givenchy dress that will look amazing on you. You are going to look amazing tonight and just so you know. Jon is single rumor has it that he was seen with Cassandra Montgomery. Oh the redhead stepchild is sniffing around your ex.” She said getting out and quickly grabbing Skye’s things. “I think to be honest you still have a chance. Skye he’s doing good honey is he what you honestly want? Hurry up hooker I have a wedding to deal with.”

“We should be able to at least make that or score that tonight at the very least. The purses alone my contact should be able to get us a good price.” Skye said looking over at her in truth she was tired of the con as well but it had to be done she didn’t know any other way to survive. She had some money left but she needed her nest egg to be built back up she refused to go back to being that girl again. The poor girl that grew up in foster care no she was going to show the girls like Max, Miranda and Dani that she was back and back for keeps. If she had to use her body to do that, steal a few purses or minks to the highest bidder to do it she was going to. She loved the clout the clothes, the material things they way a head or a room would turn and look at her and she was not giving that up. “This can be your last one and if you need to borrow something let me know.”

Skye looked up at the condo building it was gorgeous her sister was totally keeping this no matter how much they had to steal. It was classy and exactly where they needed to be now in their lives. Exiting the car she took her suitcase back from Merci as they walked inside. So Jon was still in town and still into her, she had wondered about that. Jon was reliable a good guy but to hear he had went to the likes of Cassie Montgomery set her eyes into a blaze that bitch always thought she was important. She could walk into the room and Jon would flock to her she knew that maybe Jackson too, but that was a different road she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to go down again. Correct that she couldn’t again the dress though she smiled she would look fabulous in it.

“I love the new digs even a front desk this is where we always belonged Merci no way in hell are you losing that.” Skye said as they got on the elevator. She watched the floors tick up to twenty. “All you have to do is get Devin to look it will send Miranda burning. As for Jon you and I both know that boy ain’t over me. Besides I’ve always wanted to give Cassie Montgomery a taste of the medicine she used to dish out.”

The next dress with the peekaboo cutout would be perfect to lead Devin into temptations. As she walked into the bedroom she clicked on her light. Then pointed to the room down the hall. She had a two bedroom for this very moment. When she had to come home or wanted to visit. “It’s all decked out for you new sheets and everything kid. I am going to get dressed, I use that other room as a closet so you have a few dresses. I have this epic Givenchy dress I was talking about but I do have that cream Herve Leger dress unworn with fringe which would look amazing with the Louboutins on your feet. And no taking all day considering my assistants are blowing me up and we have like a forty minutes to the wedding starting.’’

Quickly undressing and slipping on her royal purple Alexander Wang dress. Then sweeping her hair into a ponytail with a clip on bun. The diamond Tiffany’s hairclip she fasten on the bun. Then she put on a head-chain. Quickly grabbing her 24 carat gold chandelier earrings and teardrop diamond choker. Applying rings onto each finger, bangles, and bracelets on her wrist. “I’m ready sis? Let’s wow them all?”

Skye looked at Merci from the doorway as she dressed and then looked between the two dresses which one would Jon like better? She debated for a moment more before deciding on the cream Herve Leger dress it would match her shoes fabulously and she thought wearing white or cream to the event was ironic. She laughed as she nodded her head before walking down the hallway to the guest bedroom. Placing her suitcase on the floor and then undoing the zipper on her dress to let it pool at her feet before taking her heels off. She walked into the bathroom closing the door behind her as she started the shower. Looking at her reflection in the mirror she was not the same woman she left Atlas Falls as over a year and a half ago. No she was stronger now, she was in a better place but damn if she still wasn’t curious about Jon Harrison still. She felt the steam of the shower filling the room and stepped behind the curtain letting the hot water wash away the hours long flight and the restlessness she felt. The past was just that in the past now there was no sense dwelling on it and she had a job she had to do.

*********

Looking at her reflection one more time in the mirror she was satisfied the DVF lace sleeved dress, she and Bliss had shopped together a few weeks ago and she had decided on it. Her friend had assured her it was flawless would drive Jackson crazy but still appropriate for the wedding, running a hand through her hair she debated about pulling it up and then opted to leave it down. Instead she curled it softly before walking down the stairs to the kitchen. Looking at the messages on her phone she still couldn’t believe he knocked Lex out cold at the club for her. It also made her want to call him, to talk about everything had Bliss been right had she given up too fast? She still had an hour before she had to be there and hearing the doorbell she froze. It wasn’t like she was going with anyone unless, no he wouldn’t do that would he? Walking to the door sure enough Jackson was standing on her steps like they were still going to the damn thing together. She opened the door for him when he walked inside to close it behind him.

“I didn’t think you were still coming. It’s not like you don’t have other options you made that clear when we started this. Maybe one of your exes will be there you can tie them up and…” Dani said stopping when she saw him staring at her looking halfway irritated and then that little gleam she’d come to love showed up he still wanted her like that. He still owned her like that and she took a breath she still wanted him too. She’d been second before, felt like a stupid idiot before and it wrecked her. She couldn’t do that again as much as she wanted him again she couldn’t do that. He had to be clean or at least working on being clean and mean it period. “What I said yesterday still applies I can’t be with you unless you are off them. I can’t do what Lex did to me again the lies, feeling like some second choice. It started with late nights at the office, meetings he had, he’d say the right things I’d give in only to find out it was never real. He had his secret life and a piece of ass on the side. You have no idea how that feels how it destroyed me. I won’t do that again.”

Jackson saw the snow starting to flicker outside. Today was stunning it was cold but it was clear and the snow made it look perfect. He bit his lip as he heard her say she couldn’t be with him if he was still on drugs. As his stomach dropped he looked at her face. Her eyes showed so much hurt and he didn’t want to hurt her anymore. As he cleared his throat he felt like shit pulling her down. All he could do was build her up and make them strong again. He’d broken the trust between them. As he looked at his best friend and another half of himself. Cracking his knuckles he shook his head. “I’ve been clean since you caught me. Max and Bliss helped me and somehow Rory knows all my business. I’m sorry that I disappointed you baby. You are so special to me and I’m sorry that I disappointed you.” As he extended roses to her.

“I have to be careful because I let these people and things tear into me and I go on benders. Dani I don’t know what the future holds for me but I know you are it. You are all I need and if I have to take home drug tests I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever I need to do because that guy hurt you and I don’t want to be tie up another woman. I don’t want to hurt you anymore and Lex isn’t me. I’m not that guy so please Dani come to this wedding with me. Come to this wedding with me and let’s fix this.” Jackson said wanting to reach out to her but she hadn’t taken the roses yet. “God will you say something. Tell me if I’m off base because I’ve never felt anything like this. You are my happiness.”

Taking a few steps towards him she eyed him for a moment and then looked at the roses her heart may of melted. He was trying and what Bliss had told her the night before was still true for her she felt like he was worth it, they were worth it. She didn’t know how to fix them or that awkward distance that was between them physically and emotionally. She couldn’t question him all the time and Rory had texted her about the club and some stripper named Yasmine. She took the flowers from him letting her fingers brush against his for a bit before she turned to the cabinet and reached up for a vase to put them in. She felt him behind her and smiled when he reached up and grabbed it for her, turning around she looked at him biting her bottom lip.

“Rory texted me about some stripper at XES. You could just talk to me about it or someone. Walking in on you lying there it was like my entire world was crashing and spinning. I called my cousin she knows a therapist at the hospital. She could keep it under wraps. I would say go back to rehab but with the sheik meeting coming up I don’t know Jackson your dad would know. I don’t want him to take the division from you or the projects.” Dani said taking the flowers out and putting them in the vase with some water. She missed him so much and being this close to him was agony, the way he smelled those kind eyes that she felt were always watching her. “I miss you. Did you really knock out Lex at the club? Not that I’m complaining he’s an asshole. How did you even know about that?”

“I’ll talk to the therapist.” He said instantly knowing that if he went back to rehab he’d be done on the oil project and DGI Energy. Walking up to her he moved the hair from her face and smiled. “You know I’ve been dying slowly ever since you left me. I know that I messed up and yeah I’ve been using sporadically since I came home. That’s who Rory is referring too.” He said looking at Dani. “I remember everything that I promised you and I won’t go back on it. I missed you so much and your smile. Waking up to none of that in the morning was painful.” He pulled her closer tightly as he he smirked. “Look all those other girls weren’t you Dani and you aren’t them. You are so special to me Dani man you are the one that makes everything stop.”

As Jackson laughed looking at her thinking about that punch. Lex had it coming. He was bragging and acting as if he could say whatever he wanted against Dani. “He was being disrespectful of you and I just couldn’t take it. I know that it’s stupid to fight with my fist.” The first thing his father taught him was a smart man never fought with his fist but his mind. “Listening to him talk about you like that. I just flipped and I’m sorry if I embarrassed you I know you don’t like to be office fodder. I hope you know you’re more than that. To me and my family Dani they all love you.”

Dani looked up at him when he pulled her to him letting her body relax against his it had been almost a week without him. She ran her fingers over his tie for a bit loosening it while he spoke and she looked at him. She had missed him too, how they were together at night sometimes during the day. They way they made love to talk for hours afterwards or how he’d pull her to him and they’d relax together. He’d made a mistake, and maybe it was naive to think that again but she knew Chauncey and Lowell constantly rode him. Made him feel less of a man than he really was, he was a good person deep down he just had a really fucked up home life with those two. She rested her forehead against his before she leaned in kissing him on his lips. She deepened the kiss feeling him push her against the counter on the island and she let out a moan.

“Yasmine was the girl your brother brought to the fundraiser I figured she had something to do with the drugs. You’ve just had all these other women, gorgeous women. It’s hard not to be insecure about that sometimes. Even now when I want you inside of me.” Dani said pulling back waiting for him to make the next move with her. She knew it was silly she loved him she knew that but it was hard hearing about all the women he fucked and comparing herself to them mentally. She took a breath before she looked at him. “I know I’m not office fodder or gossip. I’m not embarrassed besides hearing you gave him a black eye defending me is totally a turn on. You’re not him I know that you’re better.”

“Dani, Yasmine and I have never done anything. I don’t believe in sharing at all. I don’t want to share you with anyone. Lex had you at one point and I’m I don’t know jealous. But all and all Dani no woman has gotten me like you. I’ve never given any other woman what I have given you. So Yasmine is pretty, so is Skye, Esme was a goddess and Cat was just stunning. I keep telling you this Dani they aren’t you.” Touching a loose curl from her face as he stroked her cheek. Slowly stepping back as he looked at her. Folding his arms as he wondered if this was their reunion. If for once he’d be happy and at peace. Looking at her eyes he smiled playfully he nodded to the door. “I got something for us that I think is pretty special. After all our first time was at the barn. Our first time really exposing ourselves. I got something for you to remember you are always first.”

He walked her to the door with his hands covering her eyes. “I know this by far this doesn’t make up for what I did. I hope this is a start.” Removing his hands he showed her a white carriage with two black horses, and two white horses pulling the carriage. “Shall we go to this wedding in style?” Jackson said sparking his natural charm. “Be my girl again.”

Dani bit her lip as he spoke she didn’t think he would share her and she didn’t want to be shared either. She wasn’t Skye or Esme in that way, hell she wasn’t a Maggie. She knew that even he wasn’t dumb enough to screw with Yasmine if she was with Rory. That would be something Chauncey would do. She relented when he covered her eyes to walk her to the door, they could salvage this more than she ever could with Lex. It didn’t mean that him using and lying was gone from her mind it wasn’t but they had to start somewhere. Opening her eyes she looked at the carriage, it was crazy it was snowing and it seemed way more practical to take a car but it was the thought that sold it. The thought that counted for her.

Turning around to look at him her hand stroked his cheek for a moment before leaning up and kissing him again. She let it sit for a few moments the simple act of reconnecting with him with a kiss. Feeling them both react to that need for each other she pulled back smiling at him. “Take me to the wedding before we both blow it off and go back inside. I’m always your girl even when I’m pissed at you for being dumb sometimes.”

“Let’s go to this wedding and watch that poor woman get binded to my brother forever.” Jackson said laughing as he took her hand to carriage. “When we get married I assure you that it’s going to be magical. Everything and anything you ever want.” Helping her into the carriage he leaned in and kissed her again. “Whatever you want Dani, I’m here to please you. To make this right okay?” They jerked back as the carriage started to move. He laughed as she laid her head on his shoulder. “I love you.” He whispered laying his head on hers.

*********

Cassie handed her coat to the staff as she looked over at Thor how in the hell had she got back into this mess? Sneaking out of Jon’s family cabin for the waiting car the week before was humiliating not to mention had set everything with Thor back into motion. He had finally called her and apologized about missing the fundraiser. Told her he needed her. She had ignored the texts and voicemails from Jon over the last week as well. Not out of shame or anything like that out of fear she realized. Fear of something new. Fear that all the things Jon wanted he would actually follow through and give her, at least with Thor she knew what she was getting into they had a cycle and a pattern. She linked her arm through Thor’s as she saw him eyeing the dress a lovely green that she had decided on his and her mother’s favorite color. Her eyes saw Jon across the room and she gulped a bit.

“I’m glad you called. We’ve been friends for years and I wanted to go to this with you like we planned. I know everything has been so confusing for you since your mom died. Promise me that you and Ronan have called a truce, your mother or your father would have never wanted this. His sons at war.” Cassie said her free hand want to the glass of champagne that was being handed out as they stopped at the guest book to sign it. She could feel Jon watching her and steeled her back this had to be done, a woman’s heart was her only asset and she was damn sure that he was not going to have hers. Her mother had taught her that not to be that weak with a man that they got so deep inside of you or your head. “You know I care about you Thor I just don’t want this to come between us.”

“Listen I just got you back and hell everyone knows we have a pattern. I screw up and you go away. You come back and I um screw up again. Cassie what I’m saying his you accept me flaws and all. I accept you and I love you more than life itself and you’re all I have left. You’re my soulmate Cassandra, and if you let me.” Thor got down on his knee and looked at her. Pulling out a red small box. He pulled out a heart shaped diamond with wings cut on the heart which housed diamonds also. “Cassie, I love you will you marry me?”

Jon watched from across the room with a disgusted as he folded his arms watching Cassie and Thor’s engagement. This couldn’t be real. He just took Cassie to his family cabin and now she was here with her old boyfriend. What in the hell was that? As he gritted his teeth he saw a crowd starting to swell around the impending couple. People were in awe at the perfection that was them. They were beautiful together he heard someone say. Shaking his head, how in the fuck did this keep happening to him? As he looked at Devin he frowned he saw Devin coming for him. Ever since he started talking about Cassie he’d saw a different side of his partner. They actually connected over their mutual misery of the women in their lives.

It just so happened his sister had been Devin’s problem. She was embarking on that dual life and it was becoming harder and harder on them. Walking through the crowd he didn’t want Devin to stop him. He moved to the middle of the circle as he eyed Cassie burning into her eyes. Looking at his girlfriend as he bit down on his lip. He looked over and felt Devin’s arm on her shoulder. “If she agrees I’m going to be just as heartless as everyone else. I’m going to break apart hearts and tear apart lives and do I want. For once I’m going to be heartless.”

He was still grieving his mother and Cassie knew that but she also wanted the mob to be behind them and she knew it would destroy him in the long run. Could she be on board with that she knew the answer deep down she couldn’t.  When a man was going to propose to you or did she knew she should be feeling something a moment of happiness with them or something to that effect. Instead she knew she didn’t want to marry Thor and she couldn’t marry him. People were staring at them and her eyes met Jon’s across the room and her heart sank a little at what she saw from him. They had a night of passion but it felt like so much more which was why she had run, the intensity of it all had scared her. She shook her head no at Thor saw the disappointment on his face and then looked down at him dreading his reaction now when she said it out loud.

“No I can’t Thor.” Cassie said quietly seeing his face flood with the embarrassment and she could hear the whispers in the crowd. She and Thor had never even discussed marriage it was off the table for both of them. She had never even considered marrying Thor having a family with them putting them in harm’s way with a target on their backs. “I’m so sorry. People are staring at us can we go somewhere and talk about this.”

Thor closed the box and saw Ronan’s signature smirk on his face. She jumped back in bed with him. She made him feel safe with her again and now here he was with egg on his face. They hadn’t been the same since Audrey suicide and that was something he accepted. He however was on his knees opening his heart he placed the ring back inside of his coat. “Not now folks.” People slowly looked at him with pity as they started to walk away and leave them alone. Watching how Jon was looking at Cassie with disgust he knew it. They had something going on. Hell she was telling on herself looking at him with moon eyes.

“I should have been grateful to have you back in my life. I’m pushing it huh? You are also though embarrassing me in public in front of him.” His eyes shift to Jon and Ronan. Not saying who he was referring too. “If you want that cop, Cassie don’t let me stop you but don’t play with my emotions. If you want me, then I’m here and if you don’t then I’m free.” He seethed at Cassie as he walked to the terrace passing a dripping wet Max Devonshire. He wondered who drenched the cat. He did wonder what would happen sometimes if he would have gotten with Max instead of Cassie.

“Look I’m ready for something real and I am in love with you. I have always been in love with you.” Thor cupped her face as he looked into her eyes. “But you don’t love me anymore do you? You don’t want to be with me. If you did you’d accept this. What is this, a mistake? A game? What is this? Cassie I’m not a game and whatever this is I don’t want this like this. So tonight was this all a game. Don’t think I didn’t catch the moon eye detective.”

Cassie wasn’t embarrassed as people left honestly she felt bad that it had even come to this for her and Thor. She also couldn’t stop looking over at Jon thankfully the crowd that had gathered for now had begun to move on as Thor got up off the ground. It was done now and she couldn’t take it back her answer was no, nothing at the moment would change that. There were too many variables in the answer for one the mafia was dangerous she knew that. She refused to let herself or any children be targets in that way. She and Thor were both free creatures when it suited them they had never even discussed this not once. As she followed him out to the terrace she cast a glance at Max and wanted to laugh the bitch was finally getting what she deserved.

“Play with your emotions:? I asked you to come to the wedding with me you said you wanted to go. Let’s not pretend that you weren’t off galavanting around on our short break up. I found the cop to be a fine companion for one evening it wasn’t like I was off with someone behind your back.” Cassie shot back and even when she did it, it felt hollow even for her. The fact was she brought Thor as a way to run away but she certainly never thought he would get down on one knee and ask her to marry him without even discussing it before hand. “I don’t know is this even love Thor? It’s a cycle we go through every few months in our lives. We’ve never even discussed getting married before tonight in fact we both agreed we didn’t want that.”

Thor looked at Cassie and started to smile as he shook his head. “You’re running from him. I know you and I know how you think. You know what when your figure all this out call me. I’m not a replacement Cass I’m a man who adores you. A man who would die for you. Can you say the same about the detective?” He walked to Cassie as he rubbed her cheek and then leaned down and kissed her. “Doesn’t that feel like love? Don’t you see that Cassie that I might be a mobster now but all my kindness and love is here.” He pointed to his heart. “It didn’t just stop you are it for me because no matter what you take my breath away. You think long and hard because I know that this is bigger than this fight. Hell all our fights.”

Thor stepped back as he looked at Cassandra. “This is real and I don’t want no pressure on you. You figure out if it’s me or the cop. You see no matter what he does to your body.” Thor walked up scooping Cassie into his arms as he let the sequins pull up against her skin. Holding Cassie in one arm he kissed her again. Thor laughed again knowing she wasn’t wearing panties he slipped two fingers inside of her. Just when she was wet and juicy he placed her down on the ground. Then let her legs wobble. Licking his fingers he smiled. “Nobody will know you like me.” Thor walked off leaving Cassie stunned.

Cassie wasn’t even sure what happened she expected anger from Thor not to be told to pick one, picked up on the balcony and then his hands snaked between her legs. She bit her bottom lip refusing to moan out and have people hear her. Yes Thor was a good lover but so was Jon her body knew that. Her legs were shaking as Thor set her down and he walked off back inside to the wedding. Her hands gripped the balcony and she turned looking for Jon in the crowd. Only for her eyes to stop and land with him sitting at the bar with some dark haired beauty. Her reaction was instinctive she’s seen Thor with another woman and it never filled her like this. Rage and jealously, looking at Jon getting cozy with her at the bar. It was stupid and she felt people staring finally her eyes landed on Philip and she held her head high. If she had to be at this farce of a wedding by God at least she could be with Philip to swallow it.

Jon sat down at the bar as he exhaled. “A shot of something. Matter fact the strongest thing you have?” The bartender walked off when he lowered his head he closed his eyes. He didn’t know what to say about Cassie. Jon felt someone sit down besides him. When he opened his eyes he almost jumped back. Was he seeing things? Jon couldn’t help but laugh as he moved her bang out of her eyes. “Wow.” He laughed looking at Skye Morgan. “Wow.” Jon said looking at her. “Did you know I needed to be saved from this place or is this some cosmic joke?”

Skye had arrived at the wedding with Merci her invitation in hand and avoided contact with Lowell, instead she searched the crowd to see Jon sitting at the bar. He still looked ruggedly handsome though he didn’t have the darkness in his eyes anymore. They had a fucked up relationship that was for sure the drugs the binges, going from his bed to Jackson’s and back again. Then again it felt like it was more with Jon, Jackson she knew it was a simple high and a need to fuck Jon wanted a companion a partner. She had been such a mess back then on the coke, not thinking straight it was different now. She sat down on the stool looking at him as he moved the hair from her face.

“Nope not seeing things it’s me in the flesh home. Did you miss me Jon?” Skye said taking his drink from the bartender and downing it with a smile. She could tell that he was still mesmerized with her and the dress well that alone was enough to have Jon craving her. Her hand trailed up his slacks watching him breathe in and out, he was trying to be honorable. She was not going to let him, her eyes met Cassie’s in the crowd and she flashed her a wicked smile before leaning into Jon’s ear. Her hand sliding over the bulge in his slacks. “I’ve missed you Jon. We should rectify that don’t you think?”

“Skye.” He said exhaling as he stopped her hand. “I know you’ve have been gone for a long time. I just don’t think that this is the right time. Everything that happened last time. I was lost Skye and using you. I don’t know if you’re clean or not but I don’t want that. Do you hear me? I don’t want to be that guy. I was actually starting to see someone so…” Jon paused as the flashes of Thor and Cassie, and Jackson and Dani flashed in his head. “You know what come on let’s go on the terrace and talk.”

He took her hand and lead her outside. “The wedding hasn’t started yet and we have a few moments.” Jon ran his hand down his face as he touched her smooth skin. “I can’t lie and say that I haven’t missed you. You’re still the most beautiful girl in the room. Well you know how to make an entrance.” As he slipped out of his jacket. “Don’t leave again Atlas Falls somehow isn’t interesting for me when you aren’t here.” Placing his jacket on her shoulders. He observed no track marks on her arms. “You’re clean. I can tell.”

*********

Mason entered the ballroom after leaving his sister’s room it was her day though he supposed the guest in a few minutes would much rather be anywhere else. He was proud of Selina finally standing up for herself and what she wanted in life. If that meant moving on from Chauncey to something better he was going to support her in that endeavor as he spotted Scarlett near the glass windows of the resort he made his way politely to her. It was true they didn’t fit, if anything they had a mutual friendship and respect for each other but that was as far as it went. Perhaps everyone was right it was better to call off the entire thing now save everyone the heartache. Then he was jolted back to reality it wasn’t something he could really do, if he did his father would know he was gay and that would be the end of it.

“Scarlett.”  Mason said as he approached his fiance wrapping his arm around her as the photographer snapped a picture of them. He could tell that something was on her mind she was furrowing her brow. She was irritated too as she shot the photographer a look before they scampered off. “You’re giving me that look.”

Scarlett was annoyed as she went over to the waiting gift and card table this would never be her and Mason, hell her and Zach. It was a reality that had set in over the last few weeks killing Dante had been unexpected not part of the plan, things had gotten out of hand and she had to do what she had to do. Now however her next move was going to be even more calculated, send Mason up the river with his father all while dropping the bomb about her pregnancy at the same time. She smiled for the camera after all she still had to keep up appearances look the part that was needed and once the photographer left she felt Mason let go of her.

“We need to set a date Mason. People are starting to ask questions and I would hate for either of us to not get what we wanted.” Scarlett said taking an appetizer from the waiter thank God the morning sickness had subsided and she could enjoy food again. Though looking at him drinking that was something else that she had cut out for the sake of her child, sacrifices. “If your sister can finally walk down the aisle to Chauncey well you should be able to circle a date on the calendar.”

“Scarlett we really need to talk.” Mason said, only to stop when he spotted his father finally approaching them.

“Scarlett you look lovely. Son I just got done visiting your sister one last time. Hopefully you two will be next perhaps with even future grandchildren. Lowell and Jackie have at least one all my friends have them.” Tony said leaning in to give Scarlett a kiss on the cheek and then shaking his son’s hand. He could tell the statement made Mason uneasy and he didn’t understand the problem with it. Men were supposed to get married and have children, he and Scarlett had been together for years and well for him it was time. “Is everything alright?”

“Of course it is Tony in fact I’m glad you’re here I was going to tell Mason later but since you’re here it seems appropriate. I’m pregnant.” Scarlett said watching the horror pass on Mason’s face, the joy on Tony’s as she pulled out the sonogram from her appointment. She’d be showing soon there was no denying that and she had been hiding it so far with bigger more draping clothing. “So you will be having a grandchild sooner rather than later. This should mean we will up the date as well doesn’t it baby?”

Mason nearly choked on his champagne she was pregnant which meant that it wasn’t his and as soon as that baby was born it would be over for them. His father would know and he saw his father’s delight come on his face as he picked Scarlett up in a hug. He downed his drink and noticed Simon approaching them with a scowl on his face, he’d overheard. How in the hell did he get in this mess where he wasn’t even able to tell anyone what he wanted? How had this lie taken over his life now that she was pregnant with someone else’s baby?

“This is wonderful news.” Tony said hugging Scarlett and grinning ear from ear at his son, he had done him proud. “Your sister is going to be elated. I would assume you are taking care of yourself or at least Mason is helping you as well?”

“He is he has been such a trooper. Making sure I eat and take care of myself. He even put out a fire I started on accident.”Scarlett said lying with ease as Simon approached the group.

“Tony I do hate to interrupt but they need you in the kitchen.” Simon said patting his shoulder. He looked at Mason and shot Scarlett daggers. How could she be doing this to them? Now Mason had no reason to stay with the bitch anymore he could come out they could be happy together.

“Or course. I will catch up with you both later.” Tony said grinning at them again before he made his way to the kitchen.

Mason watched his father walk away and then turned his attention to Scarlett in a rage while Simon looked between them. What in the fuck was she doing? She was ruining everything for him couldn’t she just get rid of it? He felt his hand shaking as he stared at her and she was staring him down right back.

“What in the fuck are you trying to do?” Mason said his voice raising a bit at her and he felt Simon place a hand on his shoulder. He almost shrugged it off and he would have if he wasn’t so angry.

“Oh please Mason did you really think this was how it was going to end? That I’d stay your little fiancee forever while you get to fuck around with your closeted boyfriend? It was never going to be that I will talk to you later my mother has arrived.” Scarlett said letting out a laugh as she brushed passed Mason and Simon letting them digest her latest move on their arrangement.

Simon looked at Mason annoyed more than anything now that Scarlett was pregnant there was no way he could keep up the charade. Unless Mason was still considering staying with her he was starting to feel like an unwanted outsider in what should have been his relationship with Mason. Lifting his glass to his lips he took a drink of the champagne letting the amber liquid travel down his throat as he watched Mason still fuming. He went to touch his shoulder again only to see Mason pull away.

“Just go up to her and end it already. It’s been years Mason how much longer do you expect me to stick around and play your little game. She’s pregnant for God’s sake.” Simon said looking at him hurt they had been sneaking around for years. Tony could get over it for heaven’s sake it was the twenty first century his son was gay and no amount of debutante handpicking was going to turn him straight either. “Unless oh my God you are considering this aren’t you? Staying with that bitch to please your father.”

“Would you please keep your voice down.” Mason growled annoyed with Simon and the pressure that he was suddenly placing on him. He twirled the ice in his drink for a bit this was not happening to him with Simon and Scarlett. They were both jeopardizing everything that he needed. How could they both be doing this to him right now lifting the drink he took a long sip before looking at Simon. “Let me figure this out Simon you know what is at stake. My father has certain expectations. I can’t just disappoint him like this.”

Simon placed his empty glass down on a tray as the waiter walked by he was beyond irritated and wondered looking at Mason why he had stayed so long in the first place. He was just like his sister selfish and spoiled always thinking about his father and not himself or his happiness. He had wasted years with Mason years that he couldn’t of got back over the years now and standing there he knew Mason was never just going to come out. Even when faced with Scarlett pregnant by another man he wasn’t going to come out stepping back from Mason he shook his head.

“You know Mason be miserable it seems to be what your family wants. I’m done.” Simon said looking at his lover and then turning on his heel to walk away.

Mason watched him go wanting to chase after him but knowing speculation would arise his father would want to know why. He saw Scarlett grinning at him with her mother and scowled at her she was ruining everything. Taking an appetizer from the tray as it passed he wanted to scream as he walked away from the table.

Zerick watched them both move from the table before he came out from the pillar and then looked down at his phone the voice recording would come in handy. He had thought for weeks about how to take down Simon and what he had learned was that it was more than that. Simon was the one behind deals for Lowell was the one that kept the wheel turning and he now needed it to turn in his favor. Tucking the phone back inside of his pocket he looked around the room hoping that Greer had succeeded with Chauncey after all they couldn’t have the wedding actually happen. Looking at Scarlett across the room he caught her eye before lifting the glass to his lips in a silent toast and finishing it off. Everything was falling into place exactly as it should.

*********

Selina felt Merci covering her up with her veil as she slowly as she looked at her father and the closed doors. Once the doors opened it was game time. It was the moment she truly been waiting for. The floor length veil made her look even more exotic. Slowly taking her father’s arm she looked at Merci and nodded. Whatever just happened between her and Miranda. Not only that Max and Bliss had some sort of altercation. The doors opened as she slowly started to walk through the doors. The gasps and sounds of sheer wonder. As she looked at Mason she spotted him through the veil shooting him a knowing look. Get Maddie and Dylan out until they were ready to explain everything that happened. Slowly walking down the aisle she saw Jackie crying. She was ready for the big league. Deception was a Devonshire trait but it would take a mastermind to understand the things she was about to do. Looking down seeing Chauncey her heart skipped a beat for all the wrong reasons. As her daddy removed her white veil.

She watched his happiness and she was about to break his heart. As she looked at her family’s reverend Clayton Barber standing there. He was about to see the ugliest side of her as herself. When she heard the pastor asking who was giving her away she wiped a stray tear out of her face. “I love you so much daddy.” As Selina looked at her daddy wondering what he’d think in a few mere moments. As she stepped up on the platform with her father’s help. As she looked at him.

“Do you give away this woman to Chauncey Devonshire?” The Reverend asked as he looked at Tony.

Tony couldn’t help the emotion that was coming out of him as he looked at her behind the doors she was perfect. Exactly how a bride was supposed to look at their wedding. She was exotic and stunning and he held back the tears as they walked down the aisle. He saw the crowd gasping at her and the beauty of it saw Lowell and Jackie holding back their own tears. By the time they reached the reverend he couldn’t help it but let a tear slip out as he lifted her veil. Clearing his throat he heard the crowd laugh a bit a needed reprieve he was sure from the tears.

“I do.” Tony said leaning in and kissing his daughter’s cheek before stepping back and taking a seat in the front pew.

Chauncey looked out over the crowd seeing everyone in their seats as Selina walked down the aisle in truth he was imagining ti was Greer walking towards him. Their tryst in the room an hour ago coming back to haunt him he was supposed to marry Selina. He plastered on a fake smile as she walked to him for the camera. He wanted to sneer at his brother who was in the back with Dani. He had hoped that would be over by now soon enough, his eyes then went to his sisters who were giving each other death glares in their seats. He saw Rory with Yasmine and he could swear Rory was still hiding something as he saw him glare at Jamal. He took Selina’s hand in his own smiling warmly at her all he had to do was say I do. He could whisk her off to a honeymoon give her the security she needed and then when he returned he would have Greer all over the hotel.

“I’m ready if you are.” Chauncey said lowly to Selina smiling at the reverend to continue.

“I’ve never been more ready.” Selina said as she took his hand.

“God doesn’t make mistakes when he brings two people together. It’s been a long road for you two. I was there when you brought Madeline to the church to get baptized by me. I’ve seen you both grow into strong pillars together.” The Reverend stated as he looked into Selina eyes and felt anger not the usual love he was used too. “Today you both have wrote your vows. Selina will you please tell Chauncey why he’s the man you will forever love and marry.”

Selina turned and nodded to Mason as she watched him whisper something to Maddie and Dylan. She waited until she saw her brother and the children leaving. As the doors closed again she looked at Chauncey and repulsively snatched her hands away from him. Her lip quivered as the stirring of what she did shocked everyone. She turned her head to her father and saw Braden eyes. She smiled at him and then blew a kiss at him. Which had more gasps and seeing Talia’s none too amused facial expressions. She didn’t care at all.

“I have thought of so many ways that I can tell you I’m not marrying you. I thought a private moment. I thought about telling my father and leaving Atlas Falls to Europe. Then I would be abandoning the little girl I love so much. I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man on earth. The affairs, the cheating, the lies, and all the lonely nights I’m guaranteed? No I want a undying love that you can’t give.” The shock and whispers were stirring louder. “You are a miserable man. I loved you so deeply that I took another woman’s baby and made her mine. I do know how petty you are and this embarrassment of the riches that you are feeling now is twisting sick revenge plots. Such as possibly taking my daughter from me no?” She stepped back unsure of what Chauncey would do but she wasn’t backing down. She heard Jamal cheering and laughing in the background.

“I spent years being submissive and stupid thinking that you’d change. A dirty dog will always have fleas and you make me itch. Everything you’ve done to me all the girls calling my phone. The promises that it would get better. This will never be better only thing I need from you is my daughter. I know you though. I know you well enough that you would have kept her from me because you are sadistic asshole. Oh Chauncey let me tell you how I really feel. You bully everyone around you because you secretly fear you’re lesser. Jackson don’t worry he’s nervous over you and Bliss and Max and Rory. You are a smorgasbord of fear and loathing but the truth is you hate yourself.  And I hate that I know you well enough that I had you sign over joint custody of Maddie.” The cameras flashed crazily as she said that. National reporters were blogging and tweeting already.

Taking off that gaudy diamond ring she shook her head throwing it at him. “I told Braden to wait. Just wait and I’m ready. I won’t ever marry you Chauncey but him I’d marry him right now. You are nothing and an animal. A jealous little man who never could stop living in the shadow of his father and now his baby brother who over ten years you’ve berated and destroyed. Logan would be up here saying the same thing. Hell any woman after me you are warned he’ll never love you more than himself.”

“Selina that’s enough nobody talks to my boy that way!” Lowell yelled shocked that Selina was doing this.

“Oh please, don’t interrupt you’ve all turned a blind eye to his wandering eyes and maybe if he wasn’t a boy then he wouldn’t have disappointed me so utterly. You know I was dead? Do any of you know I was dying on the inside. You don’t care though that he would hurt me so deeply when I used to love you so completely. You stand here and look at me with disgust and awe. Welcome to the last five years of my life. Here you should have these it’s the court papers I had legally brought up. She’s legally adopted to me and my daughter now. Not only that but you signed a joint custody agreement. We are now co-parents.”

Tony was in too much shock to say anything let alone do anything, he looked at his little girl and wondered how in the hell he wound up here. Had he pushed all his children to this to be miserable? He and Lowell were best friends had been for years, it seemed logical for their children to get married. He wanted that for Selina to have a family and yes he had turned a blind eye when Chauncey cheated a few times brushing it off as a man needing to explore his path first. He looked at her seeing how scared she was that she disappointed him and shook his head, he was but more than that he felt bad he didn’t protect her better.

“Lowell please now is not the time.” Tony said his voice barely above a whisper knowing there was nothing the Devonshire’s hated more than public humiliation.

Chauncey stared at her who in the hell did she think she was? She was supposed to be his wife and then he let it sink in she was leaving him for Braden Fraiser? He refused to believe that shit about Maddie he wasn’t that stupid, Maddie was his entire world and yes she helped raise her but she was his daughter. Logan was her mother, he saw his parents aghast faces this was real. He saw Jackson sneering at him, watched as Jamal cheered when she threw her ring at him. He looked around the room for Maddie only to realize she was missing along with Dylan and Mason. His eyes became enraged as he glared at her. She knew what it would take to be married to him, he could fuck around if he wanted. His father did and his mother stayed with him, his chest heaved as he saw Braden looking at them both contemplating her offer.

“You want to accuse me of cheating? You were fucking Braden at this very hotel a few weeks ago, don’t look so shocked mother. She’s been pining after him for years. I may be everything you said but at least I’m not a vindictive lying, conniving holier than thou slut. You want to act like your mistakes don’t matter they do Selina just as much as mine!” Chauncey screamed at her seeing people flinch in the crowd he took the papers flipping through them. He had signed on those lines but it would be a cold day in hell before a judge ever took them as fact. “Maddie is my daughter mine and Logan’s you were a replacement for her Selina. She doesn’t have your blood you want to marry loser Fraiser do it right here right now. But you don’t get my daughter you never will. I’ll have a judge toss this out believe me I’ll be making a few calls.”

“The legal paperwork you signed says otherwise. And yes I slept with Braden but can you deny you’ve been lusting after another man wife? Oh I’m a slut. I haven’t touched you in a year now? Hell maybe longer so I’m sorry that I finally unleashed what I wanted to do. I’ve known since I seen you with the bimbo a couple of weeks ago. I finally figured it out.” She said unraveling her bouquet which housed the paperwork Chauncey signed. “Your heartlessness about the fact that you hurt me. You constantly hurt me and yes I cheated because needed to feel again. I have no moral superiority to you. I was just as wrong as you but the difference between me and you. I did this when I knew that this was over. This was over you hear me? I haven’t loved you and if are real with yourself you don’t love me. This ia marriage of convenience and it’s not convenient for either of us. Now all I want is a relationship with Maddie and if you can’t understand that you’ve signed over joint custody.”

Selina turned to Braden walking down the steps. “I have spent ten years running from us. I’m running from the pain in the past and this has only gotten more undying. Today was a reset on not just my unhappiness but my happiness. Braden Fraiser will you marry me today and let’s start a life of happiness.”

Talia looked at Braden and shook her head. “Don’t look at me far be me to block true love.” Turning around for some reason her eyes made contact with Zerick before she walked out the wedding.

“Marry me Braden and let’s start our lives together as a family. Maddie, Dylan, me and you. Let’s be happy, let’s love, choose love and choose us.” Wiping her eyes she touched his face she nuzzled close to him. “I love you and I want this.” Selina dug into her bra and pulled a ring. “Marry me.”

Chauncey ripped the papers from her bouquet seeing it drop on the floor, he flipped through him his eyes burning at his signature on the line. This was ridiculous he signed them thinking it was a defense contract he was horrified and then handed the papers to his father. His father would handle this no judge in their right mind or pocket would allow this to stand. His eyes met Braden’s in the crowd and he was glad he at least outed him before this farce happened. Everyone thought he was so honorable and good but he had no problems bedding Selina, his face smirked a bit as he saw Talia walk out. His mother was still looking horrified at the event as the guests looked unsettled.

Braden had sat down in shock for the last fifteen minutes of all the plans that Selina could come up with he certainly didn’t expect this for her to go back to him in order to dump Chauncey on their wedding day. He didn’t know how to react at the faces of his parents his mother looked ashamed he had slept with Selina his father looked at him like he was semi proud. His sister’s mouth was hanging open in horror and half amusement. Talia looked at him like she was embarrassed and he was scum, given the circumstances he kinda was. He loved Selina, he always had and he was certain he was smiling as he watched her step down from the altar. He felt everyone looking at him hell her family was staring between them back and forth. Tony’s mouth was hanging open he didn’t spot Mason in the crowd and then noticed Dylan was missing. Jamal looked like he could jump for joy. Chauncey was staring him down, shaken and embarrassed. His hands felt clammy on his pants as she asked him to marry her to the point she even went and got a ring. To his parents horror he stood from his seat and took her hand.

“Yes.” Braden said to the gasp that went off in the crowd as he saw Chauncey and Lowell and Jackie fuming at him.

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