1×25 “Sunrise on Tears”

1×25 “Sunrise on Tears”
Written by: Chris Coleman and Kelly Zollo
Guest Starring: Michael B. Jordan (Khalil Watkins), Ben Barnes (Atticus Kavanaguh), Kevin Costner (Forbes Montgomery)

Khalil Watkins stared at the street rage inside of him as he watched the reverend of their church comfort his mother a few blocks from where his brother was gunned down, without even so much as he was told a chance in hell. The cops had always been out for them here in the neighborhood Kendrick had always told him that, they either wanted to use you or send you to the fucking slammer. Cops were dirty all the time, had been for years and the people of Scottswood stuck together through thick and thin. His mother’s tears in the street brought him back down to a dose of reality, they had escaped this neighborhood and this life because of his brother. Bought them a posh house on the other side of town had been paying for private school for his younger siblings and had helped him with college. That was all gone now stolen.

Drugs had brought his brother into the world of the Madden organization but there wasn’t a lot of options for young black men from their neighborhood at the time. Especially with a mother that had spent her days with Yasmine’s mother on the corners of the streets. He didn’t even know who his father was, or who half his siblings fathers were either. Sometimes they barely ate and often times his mother starved to feed them. When Kendrick hit high school that all changed, he came home one day with money and eventually moved them away from the hood. He never asked if his brother did drugs, though Kendrick strongly discouraged them all to do it. He had listened getting good grades and excelling in sports. His brother was happiest with Gina he remembered those times. He and Yasmine had started seeing each other, sneaking around bit and they soon learned that Gina her sister was pregnant with Kendrick.

Even that would end in tragedy and he watched as the reverend tried to comfort his mother and he couldn’t stand it anymore watching her in pain and walked out the door. The street was littered with people and he continued to walk down the road towards the park and downtown he wanted to see the site. The site where is brother was callously gunned down by that asshole cop, where his life was robbed from him. Khalil looked at the people on the streets as he passed, people that Kendrick wouldn’t be able to help anymore how much had his brother given back to where they came from over the years? More than he could count more than he sometimes even cared to think about. No matter how much he tired to separate himself from this world a part would always be with him. You could take the hood out of the boy, but you couldn’t take the boy out of the hood. He waved to a few of his old crew that he recognized as he walked by a life that Kendrick had afforded him to avoid.

Gangs were after him for who his brother was back then, the street credit he could achieve but he had bigger dreams and goals and his older brother made sure he got to them. He made his way to the park and he saw them lined up the people of where he came from. Holding signs, chanting about police brutality and he wanted to join in but held back. He didn’t know the officer that shot his brother from Adam, all he knew was he was white and didn’t give his brother even a chance and when his eyes finally met the memorial that was starting near the underpass rage overcame him. Rage he wasn’t sure he knew where it came from rage at the Madden organization for dragging his brother into this, rage at the circumstances he was born into, rage at the man and higher ups that he faced everyday. He moved through the crowd to the very front watched as one of the protest leaders pointed at him and started to speak.

“They don’t even care they gunned down his brother. We have to take back our place we can’t let them do this anymore!”

Khalil watched as the crowd cheered and he nodded his head going along with her words, he drowned out the noise for a few more seconds though it felt like minutes. His eyes finally landed on a poster in the crowd and he came face to face with the man that killed his brother. He memorized everything about it, the white skin and dark eyes and then he read the name underneath the sign. Jon Harrison. He noted it to memory as he repeated the name over and over again and before he knew it his mouth opened and ti was barely above a whisper.

“Jon Harrison is a dirty cop and a killer. He killed my brother.” He whispered not even sure who he was speaking to.

The next thing he knew people were screaming and hollering and chaos erupted around him young men with baseball bats marching past. Women armed with rocks as they brushed past him and he stood frozen in place as the woman that was holding the sign dropped it on the ground as she joined in the march. He watched as people stomped over the face of the man that killed his brother. He saw the candles on the memorial start to tip over as the people marched past and for a moment he stood there before shoving his hands back into his pockets and heading the other way. His mother needed him she was burying his brother, he wasn’t even aware he was crying until he felt the cold wind hit his cheeks and he wiped at them. He looked up and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Yasmine staring at him with who he assumed was Rory Devonshire.

“Yasmine.” He said his voice barely above a whisper as he looked at her face. He heard the shouting and the sound of gunfire coming from the on going crowd that was now marching on the business section of the city the heart of it, downtown. He had to remind himself this was all that cops fault as he stared at his first lover and one time friend. He also had to remind himself that she turned on his brother, on her life for the rich man behind her. “What are you doing here?”

All they were trying to do was trying to get to her apartment. She wanted to get a few personal things from that place. To be honest she wasn’t here with staying in Scottswood anymore. She wouldn’t forget it was her home, born and raised but honestly she did not owe them a damn thing. When she saw all the people and familiar faces her heart was heavy. Everyone was sad because Kendrick was the unofficial king of the town. Some people looked at her with disgust while other she saw the sympathy. When Kendrick let those fools try to rape her he crossed. Some in the hood wouldn’t forget that while others would make him a legend because he bought them a pair of sneakers. She had priorities to get her shit and get the fuck back home. Rory had accompanied her to the old neighborhood but when the crowd started to flood to the memorial site heading downtown. She was smart to suggest that they just take the bus. They could get in and out of Scottswood without too much drama. Looking her man in the eyes she felt fear in general. This many people riled up and the tension made her uneasy.

As they got off the bus she held Rory hand. Her stomach was clenched seeing how many men and women looked pissed at her. How was this her fault? Hell if she was being honest with herself it wasn’t even Jon fault. Kendrick had gotten too big headed and his death was square in the hands of Kendrick. As they entered her street she wondered if Rory had ever seen a projects before? What was he experiencing? For a second she froze when he called out her name. She should have known that Khalil would be here but him in front of her and Rory. That was the gag. Looking down because he looked like Kendrick by the eyes. Stepping in front of Rory and felt her chest raising seeing the judgement in his eyes. They were once best friends and lovers right now she saw a enemy. Until he proved otherwise.

“So you questioning why I’m here and that’s me and my mom apartment? Rory this Khalil Watkins. He also is my first boyfriend we followed behind Gina and Kendrick but we weren’t meant to be. Crazy right both our big siblings gone.” She said with sympathy as her eyes watered. “I don’t know what’s in these streets but Kendrick had changed and he wasn’t himself. He wasn’t my big bro or yours. He fucking kidnapped me and almost let me get raped so take whatever your beef is on Khalil. Not that you give a fuck you bounced on me a long time ago.” Looking at Trisha standing in the window. “He sent you away and I stayed save whatever you have to say because I was forced to strip and sell drugs after I was done. So no Khalil you wasn’t here you don’t get to come back and fucking judge me.” His face showed it all. She knew he was hurt but she was too and his brother isn’t Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner, or Michael Brown. Yet here were kids marching for a false prophet. He was a fucking criminal and left a wake of pain. “I am sorry your momma going through this. I hope she gets peace of mind.”

“You’re here to see your momma I thought that rich ass boy of yours moved her to the posh side of town too? They both gone.” Khalil said looking at her and then glancing at Rory behind her watching her face as he spoke insulting Rory. He was angry at everybody her rich ass boyfriend included rumor was if Rory had never involved himself with Yasmine Kendrick would have never went off the rocker and made a play for the bigger part of Ronan’s organization. No his brother would have been the hero he would have gotten Yasmine out somehow that was who Kendrick was he didn’t want to listen to the other rumors. “Better to bounce and get out than work on a pole. I told you that you should have came with me but you always were stubborn you went to Ronan.” He saw Rory walk forward a bit and shook his head at him. “Fool I wouldn’t try it. Unless you want to get jumped again and get your ass beat, again.”

“My momma was askin’ about you at the hospital last night but where you? Probably with him when you should have been with your family, you know the family that you used to have before you traded up. The ones that have had your back for years like my momma.” Khalil said he knew his tone was full of anger and part of him couldn’t help it at her, at everything involving his brother and what happened. He knew mentally it wasn’t her fault deep down but that was clouding his judgement emotions at the moment. “Did you know they haven’t even given my mother his body yet? How cruel can they be? She can’t even pick out the pine box yet that is how callous the men and women that killed my brother are being.”

Rory felt bad for him but the man in front of him screamed thug and for a moment he felt weaker and smaller next to him, knowing he had Yasmine first that he had a part of her first. He also didn’t understand the attitude he possessed at the moment, Kendrick died because he was an idiot that couldn’t follow orders. That was on him not on Yasmine or anyone else it was on his own stupidity. He looked over at Yasmine wanting to defend her honor only the warning about the beating weighing down on him at the moment. He knew it was true people had been staring at them since they stepped off the bus he even recognized the two men that gave him a beat over at the club outside what he assumed was Kendrick’s place. The ghetto was something he had heard about but hadn’t spent a lot of time in.

“You’re just like your ghetto brother someone who wants to blame the rest of the world for choices you and everyone else makes. Also don’t talk to her like that or like she’s trash just cause you at one point had her. She’s not some commodity that’s tradable like your brother thought either.” Rory said his tone rising at the other man who in the hell did he think he was talking too let alone threatening. He saw the other man eyeing him and saw Yasmine shoot him a look almost warning him to step back. He wanted to yell at her that the hood rules were different than her own. “Let’s go get your mom or check on her and get out of here. You don’t owe him anything and you don’t owe his mother anything either.”

Yasmine moved deeper between the men seeing the tension between them becoming thicker. “No I do think I owe them.” She turned to Rory and bit her lip as her eyes watered. “Listen Khalil let me tell you something your momma knew. You knew what I was doing and God be my witness Kendrick didn’t want it at all. I can say this descent into madness he went through was.” She paused trying to find the right words. “I don’t know. The darkness somehow dug into him and he didn’t know how to shake it. I am still mourning my God the man bought me school clothes when I was a kid but I beg you. I am begging you to understand your brother wasn’t the same kid who moved your momma out the hood. He was cold and heartless. We share a history deeper than you because you see a good person but I see who he really was and is. Khalil if you think clearly because he made sure you weren’t him or any thug out here. I’m not turning back on Ms. Watkin, Pumpkin who fed me, and everyone who used to say I was special. Nah I ain’t turning my back on them but I don’t have to stay in the hood. I don’t have to be here in this anymore because honestly it stole so much from me and you. My blood is Scottswood and just because I want more that doesn’t give y’all the right to judge me.”

Yasmine wanted to hug him and wipe his tear streaked face. Gulping slightly she tried to hold her tears back she shook her head. As she looked at Rory pushing him back. “You are my first love and I have no father and Kendrick was almost such so don’t think I don’t love him but he put me through was not right. He snapped and the vigor and fucking anger of our community are villainizing Jon but he saved a pregnant woman and me so what? We have plenty of egregious wrongs against us, but this isn’t one of them. I swear Kendrick was bossed up on his kingpin shit thinking he was fucking swerving on a legit mobster Ronan you know him.” Yasmine lip quivered but she exhaled. “And what you not going to do is fucking disrespecting my man. Khalil my momma refused to stay at the house Rory got. I’m here to see my momma and evidently these fools about to do something stupid so I’m going to be taking her out of here.” Yasmine grabbed Rory hand. “Bye Khalil.”

Rory went to grab Yasmine’s hand only to be rocked when he heard the sounds of gunfire and instead grabbed her in fear to lower her to the ground. See Khalil drop down too he wondered what was going on and then he saw the smoke starting to climb above some of the skyscrapers downtown. He heard sirens ringing in the distant and saw Yasmine looking at Khalil furious and he wondered if the other man had started what he was sure was the destruction of the business district downtown. His mind raced to DGI and if they would even venture there or if the rioting would even get that far.

“What the hell is going on? Don’t you realize there are people that work down there? Businesses that this city depends on not to mention the college campus is there?” Rory asked furious for the city and the company he hoped to inherit. He saw fear on Khalil’s face and he could swear that he saw a twinge of guilt too only to see people march right past them ducking below the fence heading downtown. “Yasmine I know you’re worried about your mom and Mrs. Watkins but let’s check on them both and leave its not safe here.”

Khalil had went to say something back to Yasmine offer some sort of explanation apologize only for more gunfire and explosion sounds to ring out. He then saw the smoke in the air and he to dove behind the fence watching the city erupt in chaos. His younger sister was at the college she went to school there, Kendrick had paid her tuition that was there the arena was that he had a tryout at for basketball in a few weeks. Rory’s words began to ring in his head, the chain reaction that he had set off by uttering a few words and then he looked back at where his mother’s apartment was, saw her looking out the window at them with the reverend and his younger siblings. He saw her eyes plead with Yasmine to come visit and he watched as the people ran past them.

“I have to go see my mother. She needs me now I have to be what he was to her.” Khalil bit out not sure what else he was supposed to say as he heard the shouting saw more smoke and fire billowing. He didn’t even realize the tears were streaming down his face before he turned and walked back into the building, seeing people move out of the way as he did.

“Rory can you take my momma to that house you gave her?” Yasmine looked at her then bit her lip. “I have to see her okay please don’t be mad. I promise I’ll be home but these people won’t hurt me I assure you that. Not with Khalil. I know you don’t understand the hood Rory or how I move but baby I’m coming home tonight. I have to tell her because she needs to hear it from someone who was there. I going and I don’t want to hear anything else.” She knew he was about to protest. “These are my people and I need to tell them what happened Rory. I have to.” Yasmine grabbed his hand. “She fed me and I know you don’t understand.”

Rory didn’t know what to say to her as he looked back over his shoulder at the growing crowd and then took out his phone texting the family driver to come and get him along with Trisha. He didn’t get why Yasmine wanted to stay in the mayhem there and he almost put a fight and forced her to go with him. Instead he was going to think rationally and he saw Tess text his phone again and knew he needed to let Yasmine do what she needed and he could figure out a way to silence Tess. There was no way she was still getting any part of his app and there was no way that Yasmine could ever know what happened between them either.

“Fine. I texted my driver send your mom out to me and I’ll take her back to her new place. I should head into work for a bit and make sure everything is ok there and stop in at the hospital to make sure Max is ok too.” Rory said not wanting to way what he really felt. That she was ditching him for her past life and worse Khalil but he was going to be the bigger man here. I was going to show he could be supportive. “You call me if anything happens and I’ll send the driver plus security back to get you.”

Yasmine could see she upset Rory but all she could do is be here for Ms. Watkins as she watched Khalil start to walk away. “I’ll call Alfred and yes I know that isn’t is name.” She said trying to make him smile. Seeing Khalil standing at the end of the block brought back so many memories. She took Rory face and kissed him passionately letting him and Khalil know where she was standing. “I love you.” Yasmine slowly walked to Khalil feeling her heart sinking being back in Scottswood. She’d always be from Scottswood but seeing the violence, made her remember she was no longer of Scottswood.


The bullets whistled past his face as he saw Dani get shot directly in the chest. Jon screamed but no sound came out of his mouth. Then he heard a familiar whistle echoing and he dove down and when he bounced up Yasmine fell down. She was shot in the exact place as Dani and he screamed again. Once again no sound came out as he turned he saw Kendrick standing there laughing, until blood curled out of his mouth. Kendrick stopped laughing and he fell to the ground and he turned around seeing all the eyes looking at him. So many beautiful people pointing there brown hands at him. The entire community of Scottswood were pointing fingers at him. He could breathe as he finally heard sound. He heard the word murderer and he felt his chest tighten. How could he think he was a murderer? Kendrick was pushing drugs into this community and his entire stomach clenched. When he saw Kendrick mother and brother stepping forward and they called him a murderer. Jon brushed through all the people trying to grab him and then he froze.

There he was. The body looked the same as it did in Iraq. Hussein Al-Saher was the little boy he shot inside of a raid in house where Al-Qaeda were holding American and British POWs. He started to shake feverishly as he saw the little boy. Jon eyes opened his eyes as sweat rolled down his brow. His back was wet from the nightmare as his chest heaved up and down. Looking over at Cassie sleeping peacefully, he felt so angry at himself. Why was he thinking of that boy? Walking to the bathroom he washed his face and turned on the radio. Hearing that there was a riot downtown he felt so guilty. Then he heard his doorbell ring. Who the fuck was here at seven o’clock in the morning. As Jon walked down the stairs he looked out the peephole and saw his sister. “Miranda you don’t have to check on me I’m fine.” He said looking his sister. “I’m fine.”

Miranda had went home to get a few hours of sleep after staying at the shooting crime scene most of the night, Quinn was at her parents and Devin had been called to the hospital another shooting. This time Philip Montgomery, she couldn’t feel bad about that even if she wanted too this whole mess with Jon was partly his fault too, he was the one who got involved with Ronan. Worry this morning though filled her about Jon and what he was going through, PTSD was a real thing with veterans especially someone like Jon who had seen so much front line combat, on top of the top secret things he saw with everything. She took her time on the drive over wanting to make sure she found the right words when she got there. She didn’t know if there was any right words that she could say. She avoided the main roads and listened to the scanner on the way over, the large crowd growing down by the part and the downtown area a cause for concern.

Making the turn on Jon’s street she waved to the officers a few houses down that were watching her brother, Gideon had made sure about Jon’s safety until the investigation was cleared. Pulling onto the sidewalk she almost pulled into the driveway only to stop when she saw the Mercedes parked there and the plate. Cassie was there, she wondered if she had heard about Philip’s shooting and why she wasn’t there. She was glad she was here with Jon her brother didn’t need to be alone after what happened, that could lead to drinking and even popping a few pills but at least he was with someone and not Skye of all people. It was such a mess last time her brother and Skye, Jon was spiraling and Skye indulged him in the partying and free lifestyle leading to Jon’s mental breakdown and that short stint at the VA. Shaking the feeling off she walked to the door and rang the doorbell seeing Jon face to face when he opened.

“I wanted to check on you, mom wanted to come but I thought that might be too overwhelming for you. You know how she frets and worries, dad was worried too so I told them I’d stop by and make sure you weren’t spiraling again, like last time.” Miranda said looking past him into the living room not seeing anything out of the ordinary. Jon was her brother and a proud man and the silence sat there for a while knowing what she was implying out of concern she saw her brother’s face soften. “None of this is your fault you know that right? You did what you had to do, what you’ve been trained to do, what all of us have been trained to do. I know you think you can handle this by yourself but you don’t have too. I’m here for you and so is everyone else that is in your corner.”

Jon closed the door behind Miranda as he walked to the couch. Sitting down as he lowered his head staring at the floor swallowing hard. He wanted to scream all his emotions and let her in. Not being able to cry or scream but all he want to is both. As he looked at Miranda he knew he scared the hell out of his family. What could he do? After all the drugs and a stint in the VA he had changed. Pills were being abused but he had more control than that now. That dream had shook him he hadn’t seen Hussein face in years and now he was back. He hadn’t focused on the war but Kendrick and all that was going on had his mind lost. He couldn’t think of anything but all the bodies of his fellow soldiers around him. A child blood was on his hands and he was reliving the night his team perished and he killed so many to survive. He survived but his soul was broken and at least Miranda knew that.

“I’m alright nothing a session with my therapist at the VA won’t change. If I need to cry I’ll call you.” He teased trying his best to hide how tortured he truly was. His mind was missing the link to stop all these thoughts but he had boiling in his mind. “Kendrick was a vicious sadistic man. He is becoming a martyr for the disenfranchised people of Scottswood but didn’t he force that girl to strip and sell drugs by threatening her? I hate someone died by my hands trust me I do but I had to save those women. I have my family, my woman, and the force behind me. I have faith in God that this will be over soon and I’ll be back doing my job.” Jon noticed Miranda face when he said his woman. “What I thought you’d be happy Cass is who I choose.”

Miranda wanted to object a visit to his therapist would probably be a good thing to talk about what happened but she wasn’t going to argue with him about it at the moment. He was in one piece there wasn’t pills or booze scattered around, he certainly looked at the very least sober and not hungover. She wanted to laugh at the he’d call if he needed to cry she rarely ever saw him cry the only time she could really remember was when KC had died and when he was admitted to the VA the last time. Her brother was tough and that was part of what she adored about him but it was also something she always worried about too. It was dangerous to bottle in emotions she knew that and she knew how reckless and destructive he could be when he did.

“I think if you need them you should call and go see them Jon there isn’t anything wrong with that they can help you better then me or mom and dad can. I see Riggs and Monroe kept a good eye on you last night, they better of the protest is growing any word from Gideon when you can get a union rep? Dad was thinking that we should think about calling a lawyer too just in case.” Miranda said she knew how quickly the narrative that the media was painting how the story was changing every second. Of course Kendrick was the martyr for his neighborhood and it didn’t help that the media was turning against her brother and the department now either. “Kendrick was a monster Jon there isn’t any denying that, you saved both Yasmine and Dani plus an unborn child. Instead of rioting people should be thanking you for taking him off the streets. I saw her car in the driveway I’m happy she finally came around.”

Jon nodded as he looked at his sister as he rubbed his hands together. “Cassie is really the one you know, after all the false starts I see something different in what we have. I remember when I thought Dani was the one. It never felt like this.” He smiled at his sister warmly. “She challenges me and makes me feel alive. I love her scent in the morning and how her breath never seems to stink. How her hair curls out of a shower and how she makes me feel alive. I know I worried you with Skye but that’s why I don’t even take cold medicine. I’m alright sis but I do have to ask you something. Should I apologize? To the people of Scottswood? I mean I took someone for them. I took something special or so they think.” Jon jumped up feeling angry. “He is a fucking monster and I am disgusted all these people seem to be turning him into a hero.” Jon growled as he saw the look on his sister face.

“What’s the matter? You are hiding something and don’t say you aren’t. You’ve been my best friend and sister your entire life. You have that cat who ate the canary look on your face. I know when you are lying about something. Like when you said you were ready to move on from KC.” He said trying to turn the conversation away from him and onto Miranda. He had a superpower which was to deflect. He knew how to shift the conversation away from himself and since his little sister couldn’t lie effectively with him. “I just want you to be honest with me. Oh God is this about Kendrick and all this? Is that why you’re here.”

Miranda didn’t know what to really say about Jon and Cassie it was an odd pairing Cassie was rich and uptight not to mention she was about to be in revenge mode if Philip didn’t make it. Still that was a better option in her mind than Skye walking around on him playing mind games on him and sleeping around on her brother. Not to mention how addicted to drugs Skye was last time. When he asked if he should apologize she almost felt like slapping him upside the head for what? Taking Kendrick off the streets and making it safer for everyone involved? For saving both Yasmine and Dani and doing the right thing? In her mind he didn’t owe the people of Scottswood anything and if he admitted even a shred of regret she knew that if it went to court that would be used as ammo against him and the department.

“No I don’t think you owe anyone anything especially the people of Scottswood. Right now you should keep your head down and not say anything that implicates you or the department. Which is what will happen if you speak out even if you want to and I know you do. You want to call his mother and tell her you are sorry, but Jon you can’t. You’d possibly lose everything.” Miranda said looking at her brother with as much sympathy as she could, he deserved that to get it off his chest with Kendrick’s mother but he was a good cop. One of the good guys on the force and she was not going to lose her brother and his career to a bad move in grief. “I’m here because of Kendrick no one wanted you to go off the rocker or make some move to die on a sword of valor. Now that I saw Cassie’s car out front though I have to ask has she got a hold of the hospital yet? Devin was on his way over there to get statements. Philip was shot yesterday.”

When he heard the words Philip was shot his heart dropped. How could this be happening? Cassie was fiercely protective over her family after her mother’s suicide. It was a moment that defined her as a person. He wanted to run upstairs and grab her. Then a crippling fear of what was going on outside ate at him. When he stepped outside he was the man who shot Kendrick Watkins. Not the man who saved two young women and made sure a criminal was off the street. He understood that certain men gave the shield a bad name. He however wasn’t one of those cops. As he nodded Jon knew what he had to do. He had to tell his girlfriend and if push came to shove he’d go up to the hospital with her.

“Miranda is he alive?” Was the first thing he mumbled. He couldn’t bare to see her cry or even think of losing her brother. He might have been a scumball but Philip was her brother and she loved him deeply. It was a bond he wasn’t so sure about but at the end of the day Cassie was going to be devastated. “I have to tell Cassie so I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine Miranda and I won’t make any moves with our representation. Look I need a favor ask the guys can I leave just for a hour. A hour to go with Cassie.” Jon declared as he looked at Miranda. “I have to go with her.”

Miranda went to say something to her brother only to see Cassie appear at the bottom of the stairs, she was gripping the phone in her hands. Miranda could tell that Cassie knew about Philip. “I’m sorry about your brother. I came by to check on Jon and heard about Philip. Thank you for being here for my brother.”

Cassie had woken up and heard the door open downstairs she had turned her cellphone on to get the flood of text messages from her father and listened to the voicemails from the hospital. Everything else from there seemed like small miniscule things, she turned on the TV as she went to the bathroom to wash quickly and then put her heels on. No word of Philip’s shooting at all but of course there was about Kendrick the monster turned hero and it physically made her shake in rage. Having enough of the news painting Jon a callous murderer she turned it off and grabbed her purse making her way down the stairs. Cell phone in hand has she nodded at Miranda and her words and then she looked at Jon, she had to head to the hospital and the worst part he couldn’t be there.

“Thank you. I had turned off my phone last night I know silly but with everything that happened with Kendrick I needed to check out for a bit. I knew that Jon needed me last night and this morning.” Cassie said looking at Miranda and then hearing her phone buzz she looked down at the text from her father. He was flying in he would land in an hour maybe more, he mentioned going to the hospital. She looked up at Jon, that was one part of her life Jon had not been involved with yet and she wasn’t ready for him to be. Her father could be cruel and harsh and he would never approve of Jon. “I need to head to the hospital. Maybe Miranda can stay here with you until we’re all sure it’s safe for you to be out on the streets. I can call from the hospital to let you know what is going on.”

“Go Cassie, it’s fine my sister can stay with me.” He said lying through his teeth. The truth was a little moment of silence would do him good. Yeah he got Cassie back but what would become of his life? As he started to think about it his heart started swell. His mind was going a million places after all the media was painting him as a trigger happy cop. He wasn’t that he was a cop who did his duty. With the media quickly to condemn him he felt himself growing angrier and angrier. No he wasn’t a fucking criminal nor a crooked cop. He was a damn good cop and he was going to fight this. He’d given his life to the public, and now they were turning on him. Jon knew a little alone time to sulk and figure out where to go from here. “Just call me if you need me. Cass he’s going to be fine your brother is strong guy.”

Cassie stood there for a moment awkwardly as she looked between Jon and Miranda reaching behind Miranda to her purse on the hook. She felt terrible for leaving right now when Jon needed her but she also knew that Philip needed her more. Philip was family the only family other than her father that she had left and she wanted Jon to be family too maybe one day, she hadn’t thought that far ahead yet honestly but she wanted Jon in her life. Reaching up she kissed Jon’s cheek pulling back as she fished her keys out of her purse. Looking over at Miranda she reached behind her again for her coat.

“Sorry I have to keep reaching behind you. You’ll make sure then for me that hero over here doesn’t get any crazy ideas then while I’m gone right?” Cassie said as she slipped it on and gave Jon her best teasing grin she could. Jon had a hero complex but she was not going to see the man she loved go to jail over Kendrick Watkins of all people. She leaned in for one more quick kiss. “I gotta go or I’m not going to want to leave. Thanks for understanding, love you.” Cassie finished waving to Miranda on her way out the door.

Miranda watched her leave and nodded her head she wasn’t going to let Jon do something stupid if she could help it. The problem with her big brother was that he wanted to play hero, had since he was a kid and that was part of what made him an amazing officer. His sense of right and wrong, to want to be better and change the world. It’s also why he served a few tours of duty before he came back and now that was all hanging on what happened with Kendrick.

“Have I told you lately I really like her so don’t screw this up with her this time. I know you don’t want me or anyone else hoovering but I think right now it’s best I stay here at least until…” She started only for the scanner in the room to start going off about a crowd moving downtown and she looked at Jon shaking her head no. They were staying put he was not going downtown and she heard the officers responding to the call. “At least until everyone else gets this under control. How bad was the nightmares this time?”

“They were bad.” Jon said as a silence hushed over his house. “No I don’t want to have you hovering over me. You have a job to do and my little sister has become a better cop and friend than I deserve. Having you have my six, that’s enough for me to sustain and be fine. Miranda go help downtown these people in the business district need some help. Hell Devin also with this shooting it’s all hands on deck. Plus I heard the guys talking nobody has got in touch with Gideon since yesterday. You guys need to be in the streets so go.” Jon insisted as he walked to the door and opened it. “Cassie isn’t going anywhere. That’s the one good about this year. I found her. Now go sis.”

Miranda almost felt like arguing but she knew better and instead nodded her head at him, she wasn’t sure quite how much use she would be downtown or if roadblocks would be in place. She also wanted to know what was going on with Gideon it was odd for him not to call or at least have someone take over for a day if he called in sick. Perhaps he was at home working things from there with the feds and reaching out to the city council members that way. She closed the door behind her and walked to her car hoping that everything would turn out right for them all in the end, unsure if it actually would as the scanner in her car began relaying that the protest was growing and becoming more hostile.


Dani didn’t know how long she slept last night everytime she would close her eyes everything came back to her the fear of being kidnapped, taken out of her own house. Tied and held hostage while Kendrick waved a gun around on her, it always ended the same the shot going off and her miscarrying. She woke up shaking to go back to sleep. Jackson didn’t leave her side the entire night even with the nightmare on repeat. Eventually she crept out of the bed careful to not wake Jackson to go to the bathroom and splash some cold water on her face, closing her eyes to erase the last twenty four hours, taking a few deep breaths it seemed to work as she heard her phone buzz and she moved back to the bed picking it up to check the texts. Tamara was out of the woods, Kelsey had arranged her appointment for that morning in a few hours at the hospital as promised with Ophelia. She was lost in her own thoughts when she felt Jackson’s hand reach out and touch her bare shoulder she jumped nearly out of her skin.

“I’m sorry I just I was thinking about everything. Tamara is out of the woods. I see Ophelia in a few hours I want you to be there. Thanks for not leaving me last night I felt a lot safer knowing you were right there.” Dani said looking back at him seeing that look on his face she’d seen it before last night guilt, fear. She knew she was bruised there it was sore and it hurt enough to bother her to sleep on it the night before, it was definitely tender. They hadn’t really talked about any of what happened between them with Kendrick and the drugs and she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to him, instead she placed her hand over his. “Bruises heal. You didn’t sleep much either. What’s on your mind you’ve been out of it since last night?”

Jackson wrapped his arms around her small belly. She was carrying his child and he felt the thrill of having something Chauncey nor his family could take. His child was his and he loved it no matter what. As he slowly touched her hair, moving away from her neck. Then kissing the back of her bruised neck. God what had he done? Why hadn’t he done better than getting his pregnant girlfriend kidnapped? Jackson felt the pressure mounting inside of his chest as he looked at her? He relapsed happened and there was no way to take back using drugs. How would she forgive him or would this be time up? His heart was beating fast because losing Dani wasn’t a option, not at all. Knowing the truth would either come out or be revealed he knew he had to beat everyone to the punch. He was high as a kite at the station and soon someone would say something. Soon he’d be exposed for the lying junkie he was. The feelings of self doubt started to eat inside of his mind. What if she took the kid and raised them as a Fraiser away from him? He’d deserve it.

“I’m just thinking should we get married?” Jackson words stumbled out of his mouth. Feeling the guilt rising because how couldn’t he? How couldn’t he fucking hate himself after all he had done to her? “I just could have lost you and I know I can’t breathe without you. Dani you are my soulmate and my heart. I love you and I need to know that you’ll understand where I was coming from. I thought I was going to be the hero. Saving my brother, Yasmine, and Jamal all in one swoop. I love you, my baby, and our life. Seeing how our life could have been snatched makes me not want to spend a day without you.” He confessed as he looked at his fiancee. “Our baby deserves to come into a stable life.” Jackson finally paused hearing what he was saying. “Except I’m not stable.”

Dani relaxed as he wrapped his arms around her and ease came with it she also knew that they had to do what was best for their future and that included most of all the baby. She still thought hiding the drugs at her house was wrong, it was also stupid but she didn’t think he was malicious in his intentions nor did he have any clue what Kendrick was up too. He was a prideful person she knew that when they began dating, he was also trying to live up to an impossible standard with his father. Years of Lowell’s expectations that he pushed on Jackson to compete with Chauncey and his other siblings, it was worse with Chauncey. His sudden urge though to run off and get married was throwing her for a loop, she wanted to get married but she wanted to do it the right way. Her family deserved that especially her mother. Plus she knew Jackie would be devastated too if they just took that away from her. She turned on the bed to look at him seeing a mixture of emotions on his face the stable part of his speech gnawing on her.

“We can’t do that to your mom or mine. I still want to get married. I still want us to raise our child together the way we want. Not the way you were raised or the way I was raised but the way we know what is best for our child. I know you  were trying to be the hero for Rory, Jamal and Yasmine I’m not mad about that. It was dumb and I don’t think you ever meant to have any of this happen. I don’t think if you knew Kendrick was following you, you’d ever of came to my house. You hid the drugs there and yes maybe I should be more mad about that than I am.” Dani said looking at him she didn’t hate him or blame him about any of it. He had good intentions and she looked at him carefully wanting him to understand she wanted to get married the right way. “But as long as you didn’t use them then it’s something we can work out. We shouldn’t rush off to the courthouse and ruin something both your mom and my mom want to see. I want to get married the right way.”

Jackson nodded as he looked at her lowering his head. When she said he didn’t use he felt that guilt. His eyes watered letting go of her. Slowly sauntering away down the stairs to catch his breath. Beating his hand against his head the entire thing was stupid. How could he fall so quickly? Would anything just throw him off? Tears almost started to fall down his face but he knew he had to keep it together. When he shook off the funk he had too. When he heard her walking down the stairs he knew he’d have to explain his emotional nature. What if she hated him after he used this time. What if she just couldn’t forgive him after all he had done?

“I wonder if I deserve you sometimes. My entire life I was placed in the back of Chauncey and to have someone place me in first place. Well that shocks me still to this day how you treat me. I feel incredibly guilty for what happened but to know how you don’t care about it. Not that you aren’t affected by what happened the kidnapping happened. It’s almost like we can bury the past in a way. Get to start over fresh and that’s all I ever wanted after all. To be able to give you something more to focus on than that. I want to make you forget it. I want it to be a bad memory that we tell to our kids about how adventurous their parents were. I just don’t want it to define me after a year full of highs I don’t want this to be another pitfall.” Jackson paused looking directly at her. “I want this to be the start of our lives together. To show everyone we are stronger than ever.” To prove to himself he was stronger now. That he had to have faith in goodness. Dani survived and he had no faith that she would so he went to a dark place. Now looking back he sees that he was wrong and weak. “I just don’t want you to be all pregnant in our wedding pictures our kid might think it was a shotgun wedding or something.” He teased to lighten the mood.

Dani watched him get up from the bed and then took a breath, something was bothering him and she hated seeing him like this in pain. She wrung her hands in front of her for a moment before following him downstairs, he was still upset and she took a seat on the couch and let him get what he was saying off his chest. The kidnapping had unnerved him and her and yes she’d like to pretend that it didn’t happen but it did. She pulled her legs up underneath her when he again wanted to make things official with them. She didn’t know what to say to him and she didn’t even know why she was so hesitant about it other than her mother and Jackie. It hurt him when she had said no upstairs and she didn’t want to that to him.

“I care about it Jackson but I’m not going to blame you for it. You didn’t know he was watching the house you had no idea he would go all crazy and kidnap me. He put a gun to my head. I don’t think that’s going to go away for a while. But I’m ok and I’m hoping everything with the baby is ok too.” She said softly looking at him and fighting back tears she wanted to be strong for them for their child. She managed a small smile at the pregnant photos she hadn’t really thought about it. “Does it really matter that much to you? That we get married right away? I just don’t want us hurting people that would really like to be there unless we’re both sure.” She wanted to say more only to hear his cell phone ring hearing Max’s ringtone. “Go ahead and answer.”

Jackson nodded as he picked up the phone and listened to Max spew her drama on him. So Hunter had shot Philip and Bliss was smart enough to cover it up. That was impressive she was really turning into a Devonshire knowing when to close rank and take the lead. For once it didn’t sound like Max was bitterly jealous of Bliss but she was thankful. When she said he had two surgeries he couldn’t believe how bad this truly was. He could hear it in her voice and when she started to cry he felt it. He knew it was coming and the bond of his twin finally felt void. How could he let her get involved in this. “You are my little sister, I’m so sorry I haven’t been there for you. And calm down Maximillia I’m coming.” He looked at Dani and his face flushed with fear. He had never heard her so erratic or scared. It made him question was he the Devonshire screw up or had everyone kind had a turn as screw up.

“Dani, I need to go see her she’s a wreck Philip was shot.” Jackson left out the part on how Bliss conspired to hide a shooting and Hunter was the shooter. That would come out soon enough he just needed to see Max. Plus he was stressing about him using. This would give him some time to think everything out. Could he continue the charade or could he tell her, and she’d understand?

Dani looked at him while he talked to Max the moment interrupted between them and her mind wandered about why she was so put off at marrying him. On one hand after the shooting she got why he wanted too if anything did happen he would be able to make decisions medically for her and their baby if they weren’t married that would fall on her parents. It was completely unfair to do that to him when it was their child. On the other hand she respected Jackie and her mother had been thinking of her wedding day forever and that was something she didn’t want to take from either of them. When he finally hung up and mentioned everything with Max and Philip she nodded her head at him before getting up from the couch walking to him and kissing him before pulling back.

“If Max needs you, we should go. I would never tell you not to be there for your sister. We have to be there anyway for the appointment with Ophelia later. I should really go check on Braden and Dylan with everything that happened with Tamara too. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that I don’t want to be with you, you know that I do. We can talk about it more after the appointment today.” Dani said looking at him wanting him to understand where she was coming from about it, it was a lot on her shoulders. She felt the silence between them and smiled at him rubbing the back of his neck. “You do make excellent points. I just need to think about it more okay?”

Jackson nodded as he felt manipulative how could he marry the woman of his dreams under false pretenses. As he cracked his knuckles Jackson stood up and grabbed the keys to his car. “Take your time I think that I might be jumping the gun. I can be anxious and that’s the.” He wanted to finish the end of his sentence. That was the junkie in him. As he took Dani hand into his own he felt a weight of guilt on his chest. How was he going to tell her that he fell again. How was going to explain this to Dani? “Corniest thing I was going to say. I love you whatever you choose, I’m content as long as I have you.”


Max didn’t know how long she had slept after being held by her father earlier that morning but when she woke and he had stepped outside for a call, she snuck out of the waiting room. She had asked a nurse at the front desk about Philip and the only thing they told her was they were waiting on family to get there but he was out of surgery. For the first time since everything happened she felt helpless which wasn’t something she liked and nodding her head numbly at the nurse she made her way to the cafeteria for some coffee. Hunter was nowhere to be found so as a last result she called Jackson and then relief flooded her when he said he’d be there and she waited back in the waiting room. Seeing her brother arrive she rushed to him throwing her arms around his neck grateful that he was there. He was the only one that understood her in ways none of her other siblings could ever fathom.

“I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so sorry I called at such a shitty time you and Dani just went through hell. I didn’t know who else to call I can’t talk to dad about this or Bliss or Hunter. You know what it’s like to royally fuck up your life more than anyone in the family and that is what I feel like now. It’s all my fault I took dad’s gun. I went to confront him about all the secrets he was keeping.” Max said looking at her twin and then taking a breath seeing understanding on his face, she wouldn’t judge him for his past with using and all the other shit he did but she knew he would get it. He would get that it was a terrible mistake and maybe one she couldn’t live with. “I caused this Hunter shooting him and now it’s a waiting game to see when Forbes or Cassie shows up. Forbes will go after us now and Philip I don’t even know how he’ll ever look at me the same way ever again. None of this was supposed to happen.”

“That’s comforting Max, I’m the biggest fuck up you know.” He said trying to lighten the mood. “Look you screwed up and it won’t be any of our last times. I do say you definitely seem to know how to word things but you just pick yourself up and do better. You pray your mistake doesn’t affect those you love like mine have. I just want to say you aren’t a fuck up but you did fuck up?” Jackson touched his sister hand. “He’s going to get better and when he does he’ll hate you and you’re going to lose someone you care about. Also something’s that you care about. Like dad’s trust just because he’s all nice now that doesn’t mean he’s going to respect the moves that you’ve made. You have made some bad choices, after all you did get the man shot. You have made a mistake but remember the comeback is always better.” As he listened to her go on about Philip it clicked she loved him way more than she let on.

“You’re in love and it sucks that your choices have you here. In this place but now it’s only two places you can go.” He paused as he looked her dead in the eyes. “You can fight for what you want which from what it looks like is Philip or you can walk away from the entire thing after the dust settles. I ran my entire young adult life from being a Devonshire, from being the bad one, and most of all from being the man I wanted to be. Once I saw that I wasn’t grandpa, dad, or Chauncey I knew where I was going. I don’t want you to run Max, I want you to face what happened and figure out how it can never happen again.” Jackson looked at his twin and hugged her seeing she needed it. “He’s going to be fine.”

“I should have listened to mom and dad, to you when you said that being with him would ruin everything and it did. I lost Hunter as my husband and possible friend, Philip will hate me and Bliss won everything she asked for and wanted. The last thing given the kidnapping and the Cadmus mess with Chauncey dad needed was this with Philip and Forbes looming over his head.” Max said she knew she was being selfish and petty with that statement but that is how it felt that her sister won everything Hunter, her father’s affections and of course her place in the family. Yes she made the choice to be with Philip in that way to want to be with him and screw everything up but she didn’t think it would be this bad she saw the look of shock on her twins face. “Holy shit you didn’t hear about Cadmus? Chauncey finally feel from grace and Dad fired Selina as the lamb.”

“I wasn’t supposed to be in love with Philip that is the problem Jackson. It’s one thing if it was someone else you know that but Forbes son? I don’t know if Dad will ever accept that the only thing I can think of that would be worse was some of those other CEO’s that Dad all pushed out.” Max said the only reason her father accepted the entire thing with her brother and Dani was because he was sober finally and she was carrying their future grandchild. She had nothing of the sort with Philip and after the rumors of her father’s affair with Audrey and her suicide she knew that Forbes swore revenge and blamed their father for her death. “How is the baby? Kendrick didn’t…I mean everything’s okay right? I should have called but by the time I watched the news about it I was covered in blood and in shock here. Do you remember all those rumors years ago with Dad and Audrey? Forbes will strike now even if he’s fine it won’t change that.”

When hearing about Cadmus he felt a sense of glee. Chauncey had failed even bigger than he had. If dad had fired Selina this was major and the ramifications would be far reaching. He wondered if his father would fire his brother? Or what would come of all of them. Max had gotten her boyfriend shot, Rory was in love with a stripper, Bliss was in a relationship with Max ex-husband, and Chauncey had gotten roped up in a epic scandal. The kidnapping wasn’t looking so badly now after all of this. He was the one engaged and the public image of Jackson was sympathetic after Dani kidnapping. That was to be used to his advantage. For a second he felt greedy and manipulative but now he was ready. He was ready to dethrone them all because honestly he had a vision for DGI where to take it in the future. How it could be so big and how it could be even more legendary. His father built the company on his shrewd business sense he’d take that image and reframe DGI into something more. Making it America’s company was his long term goal. He frowned as he looked at Max, hearing her casually talking about dad and Audrey. Yeah he remembered seeing the red head and Forbes around the mansion years ago. He would sneak out of his room and watch the big parties because everyone kissed his father’s ring basically. It was something he wanted now more than ever. For everyone to bow to Dani and he.

Smiling knowing she needed him to be optimistic more than anything, Jackson grabbed her hands. “Max you can’t sit here and dwell on what happened. It’s over and Phil is shot but now what? Now what? What I need you to do is find the silver lining in this. Find what you want to get out of this ugly situation.” As he kissed his sisters hand he felt a sense of urgency slithering through. “If Forbes is coming for once we have to band together. We have to close ranks because the guy was intimidating from what I remember. His presence was felt miles away and I can see him being pissed. It used to be rumors of him connected to the mob and all type of other sadistic shit. He was brutal in business and in his real life. One thing I can say is he makes dad look like a teddy bear kind of.” He was sure they’d all be getting more security now due to Forbes impending arrival. “As for my kid, Ophelia checked Dani out and she’s fine. We go to a check up tomorrow and get to hear the kids heartbeat. Max I did something stupid and I need your advice.”

Max nodded her head at him knowing what he was saying was the truth she couldn’t sit here and dwell on what happened, she didn’t even know how much Jackson did know about what happened. She wasn’t sure what she wanted honestly she didn’t want to go to jail, she didn’t want Hunter to go to jail and she didn’t want Philip to die. She wanted things to go back to normal and she felt like that wasn’t going to happen everything was different now and it couldn’t go back to how it was. Looking at him she was glad when he said so far everything was ok with the baby, having a niece or nephew to spoil on top of Maddie and Fox was something she could look forward too. She relaxed having her twin by her and she felt her body starting to adjust to that ease, warmth returning to her shock wearing off.

“Thanks for being here I mean it. Dad went to make a few calls and get some coffee. He’ll probably be back so I want to give you the heads up. I have some big choices to think about with everything. I already signed the divorce papers. I gave Hunter what he wanted and I, I get to rediscover what I want maybe.” Max said looking over at him. She wasn’t sure how how their dad would react to Jackson being there given the kidnapping but she also knew no one got her like her twin and even her dad wouldn’t interfere with that. When he mentioned he did something stupid she nodded at him. “It can’t be that bad but yeah tell me.”

“So when the kidnapping happened I…” He paused as the words almost couldn’t come out. “I used drugs and I know it was stupid but I was so stressed. All I could think about was Dani and the baby not coming home. All I saw was how many times my fucking life didn’t work out and this time it did. It worked out and I got them back healthy and alive. I feel weak and I don’t want to use again but maybe I should get a sponsor? Or maybe check myself into rehab again. Really work the program and not rush back out. You aren’t the only one who needs to discover things about themselves. I need to dig deep and finally acknowledge I’m just as good as them.” He paused seeing his father at the doorway on his cellphone. “I need to prove to myself that I’m just as good as Chauncey and dad. For years I thought I couldn’t measure and now I know I can but not with this monkey on my back. I have to kick the drugs Max once and for all.” Jackson knew his words had so much truth and he was happy that he was facing it.

“I think we both chase different highs you know. You seem to be drawn to danger my dear sis and don’t say you aren’t. Remember how controversial it was when you got with Hunter? Dad loved him but hated his parents. Now it’s Philip either way you seem to like the hunt of a relationship that could be dangerous. Me other the other hand I’m a man so I’m much more literal in my highs. I want a damn line or a pill or anything to make me feel something. I was numb for so long but she opened me up. I want that for you. I want you to find who opens your soul up. Since Dani has done that for me I was debating if I should tell her. If I should admit my flaws and I know what I have to do. Even if she hates me for a while I have to believe she’ll fight with me. I was debating on telling her and I have to. I can’t come here preaching to you and not live my truth.”

Max looked over at him as he confessed about the drugs and she wrung her hands in her lap about it, she couldn’t preach to him about rehab or the drugs and it felt like this time she didn’t have too. Sure he’d done rehab and shit before but it felt different this time, in the way he was talking about it in his body language. She felt like he was serious about it this time. “Wow I don’t know what to say Jackson that’s pretty big and you said what you have to do yourself. I do know that if you did use and people know, she’s going to find out from someone else and that I think would be more crushing to her than you telling her.” Max said looking at him and taking his hand in hers reassuring him. “Dani loves you and I think if you’re honest with her, you can save this with her, she’ll fight for you but only if you tell her. You have to decide if that is what you’re ready for.”

Max saw their father finally hang up the phone and knew what Jackson was saying about opening herself up to someone. She didn’t think she had done the best job of doing that with Philip, they both had walls and secrets between them that kept that part of their relationship from growing. Perhaps that was where their entire relationship went south to begin with, he was keeping secrets from her about Scarlett and Veronica and she was playing both sides the entire time with him and Hunter. “I remember when Hunter finally proposed to me because it was in his words the best thing for everyone. I remember saying yes and now looking back it was the wrong decision. Veronica had died, it was normal with Hunter but I didn’t love him in the way I should you know? I don’t know if Philip and I will have that chance now. Maybe we will and maybe it’ll take time.”

When their father finally made his way over to them she looked up at him, dreading his answer. “Daddy what’s wrong?”

Jackson listened to his little sister. She somehow had fallen for Philip and this was a terrible situation. Not only that but she told him the best advice he could have. Truth would set him free and hearing it from Max meant more to him. He knew he would tell Dani the truth and no lie could cover up what he had with her. He had just showed how little faith he had in his life not theirs. Jackson finally saw that his girlfriend wasn’t weak or meak. She was stronger than he was even now. He had to have faith in Dani and that’s what he would do. He would believe in her. Looking at his father’s face his eyes showed fear. That was something he’d never seen his father wear on his face. “Dad?”

“That was Simon, Forbes private jet just landed in Atlas Falls. I believe he’s here and I want you Jackson to go to that appointment with Dani and take her straight home. Max I have to leave and I wouldn’t ask you to do the same. If he figures out that something isn’t right well I don’t know if even I can protect you. You make the choice my dear but understand he’s coming here now. I’m not running but I’ll see Forbes when it’s right. When I’m stronger in DGI and with my family. Right now I need to prepare the company and security.” Lowell looked at them. “Please leave Max and don’t look back on him until he awakes. I’ll handle Philip from there. His silence will cost us but we will pay.”

Max felt it when her father spoke Forbes was here and there seemed to be a darkness that filtered through her body she watched as Jackson got up from his seat and knew her brother would do what he needed. She looked at her father not sure what to do next and she wasn’t sure if she should stay or go but she needed time to think about what to do. Instead she leaned up and kissed her father’s cheek before walking down the halls of the hospital heading for the gardens she needed air to think and breathe. Before the air was snuffed out by her choices and Forbes Montgomery.


Jamal stood outside of DGI and felt his stomach in knots. How was he going to come at his godfather? Lowell would never just go for any proposal he had to be go hard. He had to get Lowell the same passion he found with Val. Now whatever he had to say he had to prove himself. Inspiration was spilling out of him and he knew his godfather would respect his ambition. After all he had been through hell but he was also a hustler. He had tricked career criminals and he used his brain to eventually get him off. He had gotten hungry to prove himself no doubt people would hate on him. Yet competition wasn’t on his mind because he’d tasted the most expensive champagne and the cheapest liquor. They both got you drunk but if he could show Lowell he’d found his sound. He found the thing that was going to make him rich. As he turned around he swore he saw people marching toward downtown. Walking into DGI he felt himself getting nervous he was about to ask for a hell of lot money.

As he got on the elevator Jamal mumbled to himself saying have confidence. Stepping off the elevator and walking down the hallway he saw Selina office was empty. That shit was foul but he wasn’t here for her it might be selfish but he needed in with Lowell. As he walked into the office he saw him looking down a files. “Sorry if I am interrupting.”

“No, no, no please come in.” Lowell said looking at Jamal. “Honestly I do want to speak with you. I had a visit from Ronan Madden and he blackmailed me with you and Yasmine freedom. She is enjoying time with my son and you are here. I saved your life because you mean something to me Jamal. Your father is a best friend to me. Plus our families have a connection but I do need a favor.” Extending his arm for Jamal to have a seat. “My relationship with you hasn’t been as strong as it should be but I’m looking to change that. Tell me Jamal why did you pretend to be poor and sell drugs.” Lowell asked as he closed the file on Philip.

After finding out that Forbes was coming into town he knew his family was in danger. That also including the Delacroix, no matter what he had to hold them close. Max fell asleep on his shoulder his girls were in danger and only way he saw to get them off was blaming Hunter. Throwing him under the bus would happen but Max and Bliss would never forgive him. With Forbes imminent arrival soon he was going to have security risen. He had to handle the problem in front of him right now. Jamal was here for something but he needed something also. Something to hang Ronan and he’d get him out the business. “Did Ronan do anything that I can oust him from the casino deal. A deal your father is involved in due to him opening a restaurant inside of the casino.”

Jamal sat silent knowing he had to think about his response on Ronan. The man spared them and Lowell was still about to wage war against him? That was stupid as fuck after what happened to Benny. “I honestly only interacted with Ronan once and he just came to show he had the biggest balls. That was months ago man and as for me acting poor that’s exactly why I am here. My music teacher told me a semester ago my music had no soul. That didn’t give me a good feeling, I just can’t pretend to know what Yasmine or others from Scottswood. So I figured out how to find out what happened in Scottswood. I saw things that I had only seen on television. The fights, the parties, the atmosphere was trouble and optimism all mixed up. It’s almost shocking how much culture is in Atlas Falls. A lot of New Orleans people migrated here after Atlas Falls job boom. I just found music in this city and embraced something I wasn’t. I thought I wanted to see what the thug life was about but I see it wasn’t for me. It was a trap and mistake to be someone else.” Jamal paused looking at Lowell.

“I know who I am and I hear so many beautiful things in my ears. My music teacher wasn’t wrong but I didn’t have to go to Scottswood to find my soul. I could have just tapped into my culture without being stupid. It was me experimenting and not being Jamal Delacroix a name with pressure on it. It was me just being Jamal who was from Philly and was down. The sad part is they’d respect me a hell of a lot more if they knew who I was. Godfather I’m here because if my parents refuse to let me get my inheritance then I’m going to go sell everything I own. I’m going to do any and everything I can to start my label. I know who I am now and I know that if I go after what I want then a entire market could be exposed to American listeners. I’m mixing African, African-American, Afro-Latino, Latino, and all types of sounds. I can play these new beats and music I am making but man. I think you see it in my eyes. I’m passionate and every worldly thing I own can go if I get the shot to push my vision. People believed in DGI my father, Walter, Pierre, Harvey and so many others to make it what it is. Do the same thing for me and I’ll show you what your investment can do. These are my projections for the next five years.”

Lowell smirked hearing his godson so passionate about his new business venture. A record label under DGI wouldn’t work. However he thought of a brilliant new marketing tool. What if Rory launched his app and somehow became a joint venture with the talent Jamal would find. Leaning back in his chair he felt a sense of pride in Jamal. How he went about his finding himself had put everyone in the Delacroix family in danger. He however did it young and knew what he wanted. That hunger was familiar and he once had it. Now he saw it in all of his children but Jamal was defined and he had a idea where he was going. That made him curious to see if he’d pull it off. If he did and they somehow could have the app and Jamal label coinesiding well that could bring something magical for DGI. A new avenue for disposable income and something fresh for DGI to bring to the table.

“Jamal listen to me. If you can remember anything about Ronan and his business then I’d say it would be worth well whatever you want. You see the moment I said Ronan name your entire body tensed up. Have you ever read body language? I made a career sensing out when people were holding or when they should fold. You are holding which makes you far smarter than I thought. I always knew you weren’t a dummy but this is impressive. Whatever you know keep it to your chest because I’ll want it soon enough. I’m going to write you a check under two conditions. One you work with Rory to have your app and the label work together. I want these artist everywhere young man. Secondly you will complete college and I don’t want to hear anymore about drugs or you involved with criminals understood?”

Nodding his head Jamal smiled knowing that he’d have to work hard to run a successful label and fucking complete college. He knew he couldn’t do anything but agree and having the label under a subsidiary of DGI made him excited. This meant Lowell saw this as a project that would succeed. “I’m all for working with Rory.” He lied instantly. “I mean we have pictures in the bath that’s my boy.” Jamal wasn’t sure how Rory felt about him after all he had done. He hit on his girlfriend, totally lied to him, and sold drugs. Rory could forgive that all in Yasmine sexy ass but he expected more out of him. Hell he knew their friendship was on thin ice but what other shot did he have? Extending his hand out to his Godfather.

Lowell took Jamal hand and shook it. “Jamal listen to me don’t disappoint me and make me feel like this maybe a mistake.”

“I won’t let you down because I’m going to sign my first artist now. I have two actually a indie little group called Glory Road, and a rapper from Atlas Falls. Ivan is amazing wait to you hear him man.” Jamal said as he started for the door. “I’ll find the space for the studio and where I’m going to have my office and send it all over.”

“Trust me I went through my rap phase with Chauncey, Jackson, and Rory I know all about Snoop and NWA.”

“Lowell we listening to J.Cole, Lil Uzi Vert, Moneybagyo, Lil Pump, and Drake not no NWA.” Jamal laughed at Lowell. “Why is it always easier to talk to you than dad?”

“Give your father time he’s going through a lot of changes but I sure your father will be here for you all once the shock wears off. I have to go to a appointment. You call me with all that information. Oh and Jamal when I find out what you are hiding and you tell me I assure you Ronan won’t be able to touch you. I’ll bury that man before he hurts anyone else I care about. Trust me on that I’ve ran into his type once or twice.”

“Look at you Lowell Devonshire a OG. As for dad man he’s tripping on Mason and I can’t stand how he is reacting. ” Jamal clapped his hand together. “Gay or straight if I have to face that I know I wouldn’t disown my kid.”  As he walked to the door.

“You better believe it. We are from the old school where homosexuality wasn’t something to be discussed. The eighties saw a shift where we finally sort of had to accept that they were here. Gays have always been here and I was blind to it. However your father will face this and will be a man and admit he was wrong for hurting him.” Lowell said closing his door with a smile on his face. He’d lure Jamal into the web and once stuck he’d make sure he’d hang Ronan from his throat. Leaving nothing but a distant memory of a faded gangster.


Cassie had left Jon’s as soon as she had turned on her phone to check all her voice mails, freezing when she heard the last voice mail. Her brother was in his second surgery because of a gunshot wound. She had rushed out of Jon’s politely and not trying to abandon him but he seemed to understand, Philip needed her. She drove downtown where streets were filling up and then took the back roads once she saw a few of the fires blazing. Once she reached the hospital she had to take in all the extra security and police officers that were there and for the first time in years it felt like Atlas Falls was about to explode in a very bad way. Instead she went into the front doors of the hospital and once she reached the nurses desk she was then led to the ICU unit. She felt her heart race as she followed the nurse to enter the waiting room. Once she had her brother’s room number she followed another nurse down the hallway to his room and rage overcame her seeing Max at his beside.

“What the hell do you think you are doing in here? Haven’t you done enough for everything that was going on? First you wrap him up in some fantasy world with you and DGI. Then you bring your husband and sister to his house to shoot him?” Cassie said furiously as she ripped Max’s hand out of her brothers. She didn’t believe in their story to save her life.She was furious as she watched the machine beeping away at them. The swelling was bad according to the doctors it had nicked an artery and barely missed his spinal cord. “You’re pathetic thinking you two can ever and I mean ever come back from this. You got him shot did you know they say he’ll be lucky if he can walk again? Was it worth it playing roulette with Forbes Montgomery’s son? Get out of this room now.”

Max was still in shock she had been waiting at Philip’s bedside for what felt like hours and the only reason she was in there was because she had to sneak in. She had tried to put it behind her but she always came back to it was her fault. She assumed the guilt would lessen as time went on and she already knew that her father and Simon were working on the best way to throw Hunter under the bus if need be, her friendship with Hunter would be buried dead and buried. Even if Bliss and he remained a couple if her father and Simon would have ruined them by throwing Hunter to the wolves for she and Bliss. Could or would Hunter ever forgive them for it? Probably not if he was rotting in a prison cell for murder. Looking over at the machines and Philip’s closed eyes, they weren’t there yet surgery went well. She had been broken out of her thoughts when Cassie finally arrived.

She knew this was coming but seeing Cassie’s face so full of rage and hate towards her she felt for the first time guilt and remorse for everything she had done to lead to this. Cassie had every right to be angry and hate her, she would feel the same way if the roles were reversed if Jackson, Rory or Chauncey was lying in the same bed as Philip and if the Montgomery family had hurt them the same way. She pulled her hand back as if it had been shocked when Cassie ripped her hand from Philip’s anger surging through her. She had been there for Philip since he was shot where was Cassie? She just now shows up hours after the shooting and expected no one to be there for him, she knew she wasn’t a perfect person but she wasn’t the monster Cassie was painting her as either.

“I’ve been here for him where in the hell were you? There was someone else there they broke into the house and shot him.” Max said the lie slipping out way to easily out of her mouth that was the story she was sticking with, the narrative they had decided to go with. Philip wasn’t awake yet to refute any of it and she knew that once he was awake he wouldn’t press charges on Hunter. She felt paralyzed herself when Cassie said he could never walk again, do anything that he loved she had done that to him. “They wouldn’t tell me anything, Cassie I’m so sorry. You have to believe me what your brother and I had.” She didn’t get to finish the sentence as Cassie’s hand collided against her cheek.

Cassie pulled her hand back reality seeping in with her about slapping Max. Her anger had reached its breaking point worth the spoiler and pampered princess of the Devonshires too long had Max thought her shit didn’t stink. That nothing could touch her all the way back in high school when she ruined her relationship with Hunter. Well she was tired of it she was Forbes Montgomery’s daughter and it was about damn time she started acting like it. Her chest rose as the beeping of the machines filled the room and her eyes burned rage into Max’s eyes.

“Someone else broke into the house and shot him?” Cassie said her voice laughing for a moment at Max she knew better. The entire story rotted of Devonshire planning and scheming she shook her head at Max before walking to her brother’s bedside and grabbing her hand seeing the look and color drain from Max’s face. She adjusted the pillow slightly before taking a seat in the chair by his bedside and glaring Max down. “Of course they wouldn’t tell you anything you’re not family, you’re simply the Devonshire that Philip was fucking to get back at your father for mine. Anything else that you may think was happening or going on is a fantasy that you built up. And now no one wants you not Philip even if can walk again, not Hunter he’s too busy with your sister so that leaves you who then? No one. Now I asked you to get out unless you want me to call security and have them toss you out.”

Max was fuming, that was an understatement and she looked over at Cassie and then at Philip she tried to push those words out. Sure they may of started out like that but she thought that they had perhaps gotten past that part, the fucking to something more. Very few people got under her skin Cassie had always been one of them and she almost picked up the phone in the room to chuck it at her, hitting her right in the face. Only she refrained. Security would come throwing her out and it would cause another public uproar and scandal. Something she knew that her family could not handle anymore at the moment there was too much going on. Her looking like a crazed person over Philip Montgomery when she, Bliss and Hunter had been there when Philip was shot it would be terrible for them all.

“You know what I think your problem is Cassie? You’re still miserable about what happened with Hunter all those years ago. That I bagged him when you couldn’t even get that with him, no instead you wanted Thor Luciano.” Max hissed looking at her, venom spewing out of her mouth when she said it. In her mind it was quite the silly thing to still hold a grudge over did Cassie really think that she and Hunter would have made a good couple let alone ever have been happy. She saw something on Cassie’s face in that moment smugness maybe. “What Cassie? You think you’ve won something here in all this?”

“No seeing you fall flat on your face years later has been worth everything. You think this is about Hunter Kincaid? Always comes down to you and men doesn’t it?” Cassie said looking at her and then closing her eyes for a moment she remembered the moment all too well, the day Max went after Hunter at that party Philip threw the day her mother killed herself. She remembered how Max humiliated her afterwards. “No this is about you and your family thinking they can do whatever they want. You went after Hunter because Thor wouldn’t sleep with you when he told you he wanted me and then you went after my mother the day after she died. Did you ever hear the story about why my mother did it? You think your mother was going to what stay with your father back then? No your father was going to leave her and ruin my family…” She stopped mid sentence when her father opened the door and she looked at him watching the hate in his eyes when he looked at Max. “Father.”

Being in Atlas Falls brought back ugly memories for him. How couldn’t he lost his first wife because of Atlas Falls. He wasn’t afraid to be here on the contrary it was pushing him. The rage he felt just stepping in this low rent city fueled him. When he got that frantic call from Catalina saying his son was shot. He’d married that woman over twelve years ago and she had been his mistress for over twenty-five. It was something about how she said Philip’s name that made him feel dead inside. He loved his two younger children but Philip and Cassandra were his heart. The last part of Audrey and the last part of a past that he had yet to avenge. No the Devonshire should have never prospered against the Montgomery’s. He foolishly trusted Lowell and it was the biggest mistake in his life. The man stole his company and his wife. He convinced Audrey that she loved him more than Forbes the bad blood could have stopped there. However Lowell moved swiftly and ousted Pierre, Harvey, Walter, Vincent, and himself from DGI.

From the moment he entered the hospital he felt how afraid everyone was. Good they should be after years of having the scrape by because of Lowell destroying his connection to DGI. He waited and watched the stock market was the first time he reclaimed his money. It took awhile but he invested in fledgling company that now is in the Fortune 500. Then he took some of that money and built a company out of nothing. Blood and tears were built to make MontCorp the success it was today. He didn’t care for anything but having his revenge. What better way to destroy Lowell legacy than to totally wipe away his company. Then his children. Then his wife. Hell Lowell’s pet wasn’t safe around him. Catalina’s familia connection got him even farther quicker and before he knew it MontCorp was now digging at the heels of DGI. When he stepped off the elevator he forced a nurse to escort him to his son room.

When he entered Philip room his heart sank. Every damn time he saw Cassandra she looked more like Audrey. The main reason he moved away to Italy and restarted was because Cassie. He loved his daughter more than life itself but her face. Her face drove a dark hatred and the same for Philip. They were his heart but also a reminder of his weakest time. A time that he could never reclaim because Lowell took Audrey from him. He drove her to committing suicide. When he finally made eye contact with Max his heart sank. She was stunning as Jackie in her youth but she had his eyes. Eyes that immediately he saw deceit. Walking to his daughter he kissed her head and pulled her behind him. “You were going to say by leaving me? No your mother wouldn’t leave that’s why she slit her wrist.” Cruel he knew but he was about to show a Devonshire that they were no longer welcomed near his children. No longer would a Montgomery be secondary to a Devonshire.

Forbes immediately grabbed Max by her throat. “Oh you thought you should be here. After all these years your father hasn’t taught you to not intrude. Tsk tsk tsk.” He said taunting Max. “Little girl whatever you think is happening with Philip isn’t anymore. Whatever happened to my son I will find out and if I find out you had anything to do with it.” Forbes squeezed with much more pressure seeing her face change color he smiled. “Oh you can’t breathe? Is that what my son felt? Why is he here Maximilla? Why wasn’t you shot? You see if my son die I will bring hell and fire to you, Hunter, and that walking domestic violence poster Bliss. You think that pompous prince beat her? I will stomp you all to death.” He growled finally letting her go and throwing her into a wall with force. “Get the fuck out of my son room and if I see you here I’ll kill you. You run and tell your father I’m here. I’m fucking here and he should be afraid he should fear what I’m about to unleash on you all. Get up and go you little slut before I start something I won’t want to stop. Get out!” He bellowed as he stood over her. “I should snap your neck one child for another. That’s how Lowell plays. You know DGI isn’t his but many men who he took it from and we are going to take it from all you little brats. I’m going to take everything that was taken from me. Tell him I’m coming for him.”

Max barely had time to react to take in Forbes before his hand encased her neck and she struggled against his grip her hands clawing out at him, her eyes begging Cassie to help her. Only the other woman rose from her seat and froze and she swore she saw fear etched in Cassie’s face. Who in the hell was scared of their own father like that? She wanted to cream only she could feel her chest tightening as Forbes words seemed to go like waves over her, her eyes going in and out of focus. She felt like it was over when her eyes finally closed and then a gush of air went into her lungs as she felt her body hit the ground hard and her fingers went to her neck which was now free and she gasped for air. Her entire body was shaking as she reached around Forbes feet feeling the tears streaming down her face for her purse. She was too stunned to even reply as she nodded her head at him before grabbing the door handle and slamming it behind her. Her hand gripping the wall as she finally made it to a seat in the hallway clutching her purse to her as she did the only thing she could think of prayed that Philip woke up and the nightmare would be over in between her sobs.


Kendrick was dead and he had the casino deal in his pocket and walking out of a private dining room at the Rawling he was smiling from ear to ear. Robertson Enterprises had finally come on board with him as a developmental contractor for the casino after  years of snubs. They couldn’t pass over what he was offering a chance to be a part of the casino. Not even they could deny that it was smart of them to work with one of his legitimate construction businesses, it was a win for him and well the riots had started too meaning more business on the illegal front too. None of his men would step out of line on him again and he had a foolish Kendrick and a cop to think for it. They all feared him now and the neighborhood that he had a hold on for years, that his father had a hold on before him was still his. They would still depend on him and is organization for protection, for the drugs and in return they had his backing when things got rough.

He was getting his coat from the front desk when he saw Brooke leaving the restaurant a man with her and his heart stopped, Atticus. He would recognize him anywhere after Brooke had told him what Atticus had done he made sure to put a face with the name, seeing her with him though shattered him and it was a feeling he wasn’t expecting. Yes he had pushed her away and out of his life the other night broke up with her coldly but it was for her own good and he never thought she would move on from him so quickly. So abruptly almost as if they never existed in the first place and his pride was wounded. He guessed it would come to this it came to it with his father, rumor was his mother was his father’s weakness and now it was true with Brooke as well he forced a smile as they approached.

“Brooke. I didn’t expect to see you here how are you?” He said trying to sound as polite and courteous as he could, trying to hide what he was really feeling hurt at seeing her with a man that had hurt her so badly. He didn’t even bother to address Atticus the crown price to some God awful nobody country that no one cared about. He took the coat from the hostess watching as the woman slipped him her number and he couldn’t help it but smiled at her wanting to make Brooke just as angry, just as jealous as he was feeling. “I always thought you were better than taking back the man that fucked around on you back. Seems I was mistaken, can you please send your mother my regards about the mess with Hunter. Awful what happened between him and Philip.”

Taking off her mink coat she wore a form fitting silk slip dress with lace around the bottom. Removing her leather and fur opera gloves Brooke saw Ronan from across the room. The uncomfortableness she felt was eating at her. They’d just broken up and here she was with Atticus. What did he think of her? She wasn’t sleeping with Atticus hell she wasn’t even planning on entertaining the man. However her mother was persistent and to make matters worse Val was pushing it also. Slowly moving to their table at The Rawling which Atticus had chosen. She offered the ski resort but he was adamant he didn’t want anything but time from her. Her hair was in a perfect bun as her bangs flew over her eyes, giving her a sense of mystery. When she sat at the table with Atticus she saw the smug expression on his face. Then when he judge her choices she had just about enough of Mr. Madden.

“Atticus this is my.” Brooke paused looking at him feeling the need to make a dig just as he had. “This is my ex-lover who happens to believe he still has any say in my life or choices. What makes the matter worse is the jerk dumped me.” She seethed as she tilted her head looking at him. “I will send her my regard however I didn’t know criminals were accepted in The Rawlings. Atticus you do know that Ronan Madden is the towns local Al Capone. One of his thugs was shot it’s all over the news. We both know however he wasn’t a victim of police brutality now don’t we. I mean after he threatened my life and countless others. I say good riddance and now you are disturbing my date with Atticus.” She reached over and touched the prince hand. “We have so much to catch up on handsome.”

Atticus rose from his seat politely following Brooke’s lead as he stared the other man down, Ronan Madden one of the major problems with Atlas Falls. Drugs, money laundering, hookers if it was illegal Ronan had a hand in it, he also heard from Brenda about how callously Ronan had thrown Brooke out. He supposed it was a phase that she was going through, getting bad boy and now that she saw what was real and what wasn’t she wouldn’t be easily swayed by the other man’s charms. He didn’t look like much to him, he lacked how would his father say it the breeding to be a better man for Brooke. He saw Brooke’s feistiness come out and he couldn’t help but grin and promptly ignored Ronan’s hand when he reached out for him.

“This must be who you were talking about I’m appalled that you even have the nerve to speak to her. It must be painful for you to see her with someone like me, you have what some cocaine and ass that you pander to every now and then meanwhile I have an entire country and a crown to offer her.” Atticus said seeing her looking at them both and he hoped she played along for a little while longer until the man was gone from their sight. He saw Ronan take his hand back and he couldn’t help the smug grin or the small laugh that escaped his lips. “I’m sure you’ve heard about me from Brooke. Prince Atticus Kavanagh of Isla DelCruces you are not worth my time or Brooke’s any longer. She had her fun, you had yours and now you can go back to causing riots and carnage without Brooke in danger.”

“I put Brooke in danger? I thought that was you screwing around on her right before you were supposed to marry her last oh I’m sorry are we not supposed to discuss your baggage. You are a prince with a title and land, but other than that you have nothing. You’re a fake prince if anything from what I’ve heard.” Ronan said he had tried to do the polite thing by reaching his hand out to Atticus and seeing the other man reject the offer he looked over at Brooke amused. Atticus was the one that broke her heart or so she had told him and yet here he was in Atlas Falls hoping to what reconcile with her? He reached out to touch her hair and saw her flinch from him and he wanted to laugh, she had been putty in his hand all but a few days ago. “You disappoint me Brooke I had expected better not that it is any of your business but I was in a legitimate meeting. You know the Robertson family.”

“Lowell and I recently came to a mutual understanding and he’s made me half owner of the casino deal and those nasty rumors that spread about me. I had thought that you knew better after all we did share so many secrets in bed together. Thor told me that Hunter went to see him a few days before Ronan was shot now rumor has it the gun Philip was shot with they can’t trace.” Ronan said willing to play this game if he had to Brooke wanted to pretend with the pretender prince she could. He could pretend better, he’d parade one of the girls at the club on his arm if he had to make her feel an inkling of what he was. “Now I tried to ask Thor if he knew anything about that but he couldn’t recall. I thought I should let you know Hunter’s secret is safe with me I doubt it would be with Atticus. Afterall from what I hear his brother is quite the monster that he just lets run rabid like a beast.”

“What secret?” Brooke said with a rising in her voice. “You know what why are you even here? You dumped me and left me heartbroken yet here you are playing victim.” She couldn’t take it anymore because being around him was making her jump out of her skin. Shaking her head with a fury she grabbed her water and tossed it in his face. “Listen don’t go pounding your chest over me, either of you because Atticus I can’t with you. Ronan I truly can’t with you.” She grabbed her mink. “You see one thing you must know is that I am not a simple girl Ronan. I don’t just jump out of one bed into another and although I’m here with Atticus. That doesn’t mean that I’m with him. What makes me sick is you here acting like you care. You don’t care about me and that was proven when you just threw me away. You just left me looking stupid and like a kid. And you!” She pointed at Atticus. Did they think she was a piece of meat to fight over? No not Brooke Kincaid!

“You don’t get to just come back in my life and make me feel badly about my choices. You broke me!” She screamed at them both. “Both of you made me feel stupid and worthless. Like I can be just thrown away. You cheated and you weren’t man enough to stay when you know you are in love with me.” She hissed at Ronan as she stepped back. “You don’t say a word about my brother or mother. They warned me about you and I just fell for your lies. You said you wouldn’t hurt me like Atticus did and I believed you. I believed you and that hurts more than any silly woman he fucked.” Brooke said knowing that she had lost her cool and she was looking frazzled. “I loved you both and you broke me. You swore you loved me and you swore you weren’t him. Except I finally see I have a type and it’s assholes.”

Ronan watched her eyes blaze at him when she roared secret at him there was the girl he knew that spitfire, the fight that was something she challenged him on. She wasn’t simple that was something he could say about Brooke Kincaid she was complicated with expensive tastes, she was a mix of everything he wanted. Combined with everything that he could not have as well, it was too dangerous for her to be with him right now. Too volatile with what Kenrick did people would think his house was out of order and he had to get it back in order for him to bring her back into it. He was patient he could be a patient man that was something he had learned over the years and something he got from his father.

“I told you why I am here. I was having lunch with my new business partners the Robertsons I didn’t realize you had claim on the Rawlings as well as the resort.” Ronan replied with more force than he should have and he then realized when the drink was thrown at his face people were staring at them. He had what he wanted her frazzled enough to make a scene with him, she still felt for him he saw Atticus reach out to her and watched as the other man comforted her. He couldn’t help the sneer that came. “Enjoy your lunch.” When he turned to walk away though that is when the rocks began to fly through the window and instinct turned over in him as he pushed Brooke down to the ground and covered her head..

Atticus had went to say something instead he had shut up it wasn’t his place, everything that Brooke had said was true. Instead he had placed a hand on Brooke’s shoulder once people had begun to stare at them wanting her to calm down. He could see it now in the papers prince’s lunch date a frazzled American mess. Of course the gossip columns here and abroad would run it and he want to move Brooke from the table only for the sound of glass to shake him back to reality as people in the restaurant began screaming. He watched as Ronan pushed her down and then he saw men with guns surround them.

“What the hell is going on? It is always this adventurous in Atlas Falls? This is a five star establishment.” Atticus said looking at them both and then seeing the smoke billowing across the street. It reminded him of some of the violent protests back home of war stories his grandfather would tell as bedtime stories back in the day. He saw Brooke was shaking and placed his coat over her shoulders. “Brooke are you ok?”

Brooke saw so many angry faces screaming and rushing down the street. It was madness all over the place as her bottom lip quivered. As she leaned forward she saw the signs and heard the chants. It was all about Kendrick Watkins the man Jon Harrison had killed defending Dani and some girl name Yasmine that Rory was dating. As she stood up she saw a bottle flying through the establishment with a flame out of the open hole. It emblazoned the entire north side of The Rawlings. She gasped immediately turning to Atticus as her eyes connected with Ronan.

As she saw started to cry seeing her city being ravished and people being attacked in the street. “This is all your fault!” She screamed at Ronan. Brooke finally saw what he did. She finally saw what was happening in the streets of Atlas Falls and how Ronan’s hand was all over this. Slowly stepping into Atticus arms.

“Please get me out of here.” She didn’t want to see Ronan’s face and for once she honestly feared him. He did push Kendrick to this and it wasn’t just Kendrick fault. He was a monster but he was also a product of Ronan’s grooming. He was his right hand man and that meant at one time he learned from Ronan. This was the man she was in love with. No he was a monster a monster that relished in this chaos. “Stay away from me.” She said grabbing her purse and mink coat.

Atticus felt a sense of satisfaction as he saw Brooke fall back into his arms, he looked at the raging fire at the other end of the dining room and then heard a few more screams from one of the shops on the other side of the hotel. It was madness all around them and he wondered if it had been unwise to leave his security detail a the Kincaid estate. He saw people scrambling for the exits and at one point thought they were going to trample each other in the chaos. He looked down at Brooke and then over at Ronan watched as a few men came to see him. He assumed they were his guards or employees, he noticed the guns in their holsters the rough look of a few of them.

“The exits are crowded Brooke they could trample each other.” He said seeing another bottle of fire thrown through the window it landed closer to them and he covered her again from the explosion his mind raced. He looked at the other man as he saw Ronan nodding his head at the men and then finally spoke up again when it seemed like Ronan was ignoring them. “Are you going to do anything or just sit there with your guards?”

Ronan had been listening to Ivan that the protests had gotten out of control that much was obvious and his men had swarmed him the moment the bottle came flying through the window. He looked over at Brooke watching her cling to Atticus and he couldn’t help the jealousy and the rage all that money and a country and the man couldn’t even afford security. Isla De Cruces must have been a poor barren wasteland if that was the case, when he heard the pampered pipsqueak prince try and make a fool of him he looked at the other hand daring him to make a spectacle. He saw the second glass fly through the window and nodded to his men, grabbing Brooke’s hand in his own as he drug her through the dining room the men following them watching her angered face at him when he pulled her away from Atticus.

He pulled her around tables a man in front and Ivan behind them, his other two guards helping the prince. He pulled her through the massive crowd and made a left away from the exit and then opened a door by the service elevators watching her face. She thought he was just a gangster he’d been doing business in the hotel for years, his father before him he knew every nook and cranny it was where rich men came to get away from their wives. His girls and the girls that worked for his father had a long standing of using the service elevators to conduct business undetected. The elevator opened and he watched as she recoiled from his touch and then he pressed the elevator to go down. Once it did and the door opened to reveal his two cars he walked to one looking at her and the princes shocked faces.

“Ivan will see to it where you need to go. Shocked I see did you really think I’d leave you both up there to the madness of rioting.” He said they were underneath the hotel on the backside by the over overpass the rioting far from them. He pulled open the door to the car he had for them he saw Brooke’s face searching for answers. “Your father used this way sometimes. I meant it when I said I wanted you safe Brooke that will never change. Please get in the car.”

“Alone.” Brooke said looking at Atticus. “Get him to my mother’s home and I’m going to the hospital. My brother needs me and this riot won’t stop me and you know it. I’ll walk if I have too.” She said passionately as she looked at Atticus. “Anderson is calling and I really think whatever this is I need to handle this with my family. This is something we have to face on our own so please Atticus just let them take you home and I’ll be with my mother. I’ll be with my family and they need me.” When he nodded she got inside of the car. Seeing Atticus and Ronan standing in the rearview as the car pulled off. She placed her hands in her face and screamed frustrated. Atticus return was frustrating especially because she had given her all to him. Yet she felt like it was a chapter unfinished. Ronan had slammed the door in her face, and she blamed him for this mess. A mess that wouldn’t be going away apparently because Atlas Falls was under siege. Scottswood was erupting and she was in the middle of the chaos. Yet it was more peaceful being away from them both than having to deal with them together.


Diego thanked the two plain officers at the front door of the condo as he and Zach walked through into Philip Montgomery’s condo. Looking around he knew that the FBI was doing the AFPD a favor by lending him to help with this not to mention with Kendrick’s shooting and the initial report of someone shooting Philip based off eye witness statements. His bosses wanted to make sure that Ronan wasn’t part of the shooting afterall he and Philip were business partners at their club together. Perhaps he was trying to clean house now with Kendrick out of the way. He followed his way into the living room seeing the pool of blood by the sofa along with the towels. He had insisted that no one start the evidence gathering until he saw the crime scene first. He had met Zach there watching him looking around like he was to see if they saw any signs of a break in.

“See anything that can officially collaborate the story of the two Devonshire girls and Hunter Kincaid? Blood on the carpet with the towels adds up, I’ll have the crime scene guys get in here as soon as you and I have taken first look.” Diego said pulling out his own gloves to inspect the stack of papers on the entryway table, some financial statements and a pile of junk mail. He looked down at the floor seeing the sheer amount of footprints, he wasn’t able to decipher anything from them though. “A lot of traffic in here likely when the medics arrived. I didn’t see anything in the hallway you would think if someone shot him there would be some sign of a break in or fleeing. Gideon tells me you have a good eye what do you think?”

Zach began to access the scene as much as he could. Looking at the ground which the bloody footprints tracked all over the apartment. Closing his eyes he envisioned the shooting as Bliss said it. For some reason many things were not adding up. Philip wasn’t a kingpin but he hung out with one. Ronan was a powerful figure and someone robbing Philip might not be a coincidence. The flip side was who was foolish enough to do this? None of Kendrick boys would be foolish enough to do this. “Bliss said Hunter wrestled with the shooter. Where are his tracks and footprints? I am confused on that did he leave immediately after the shooting?” As he walked through the apartment living room.

Looking around he saw something out of place. First off what would a antique music box be in a condo full of men’s thing. Women usually had music boxes and it wasn’t something he felt Philip would keep. As he slowly walked up to it he touched it. As he twisted the lock to unlock the box he opened it and waved at Dante to come closer. Pulling out pictures of Scarlett, Mason, and himself he felt a rush of fear. What would Philip have this for and a spark of a old conversation flashed into his head. Philip had dated Veronica who was Scarlett’s older sister. As he kept rummaging through the box he found a sealed letter with Scarlett name on it. When he opened it he felt his chest tighten and his mind was rushing. Slowly walking to the balcony of the apartment he opened it for air. “The mother of my child is being stalked. You may have heard that was happening. This is what the stalker was sending, messages just like this cut out newspapers and magazines.” As he stared outside. “I think we may have stumbled onto Scarlett’s stalker.”

Diego watched him work he’d seen Zach’s file his scores for seeing things were off the chart and he was honestly surprised the man never thought to move up to the FBI or the CIA. He followed Zach to the music box it was out of place. Men especially wealthy men didn’t have music boxes no they had wives that had music boxes. It was possible that the box could have belonged to Philip’s lover but he saw the initials on the outside and knew it belonged to Veronica Nichols. He had heard about the stalking going on with her but not the full details he’d been involved somewhat more recently when they thought she had killed Dante. Instead it was looking like she had been the victim.

“We discussed it once when we thought it was her that killed Dante. Very interesting indeed that Philip was involved in the letters. Why would Philip have them, what is his motive. I don’t think she would have showed up and shot him and then walked right by the other three.” Diego said he inspected the door by the condo the windows in the living room they all locked from the inside. The more he looked the more it was looking like one of their witnesses had shot Philip leaving him to wonder which one had the best motive. Hunter perhaps felt Philip was in the way with his divorce. Bliss protecting her sister. Max was a Devonshire and word was you could never count them out. “The windows they all lock from the inside on this level. Perhaps our assailant came from upstairs. Let’s check it out bring the box with you.”

Zach walked upstairs with Diego as he walked to the windows, immediately checking them. Finding there was no way the assailant came in through the windows. As he walked to Philip skylight. He grabbed a broom and saw that it was open by pushing on the glass window which should have been locked. As he looked out of the window he saw a rose bush full of black roses. Jumping back aghast and what he was seeing. God Philip was the stalker but why? Why would he do that? This was Veronica Nichols music box and it clicked Patricia had said they couldn’t find it after her death, nor her diary. He remembered because Patricia insisted on them finding the music box and her diary.

“I think Philip is the stalker.” He said again. “The black roses. We researched where to find them and no one in Atlas Falls sold them. It was somewhat of a mystery however look out the north window. That is a rose bush and it has black roses now circumstantial as this all is. It fits what if the Nichols wanted all this stuff back because of a dirty secret. They were not the most forthcoming people. I know this sounds strange.” He closed his eyes and swore he could see Philip making the letters to Scarlett. It all made sense now considering that he was engaged to Veronica. “Officer Torres please get all uniforms to strip this place clean. I want this placed swept no corner not looked under.” Turning around he saw a picture crooked on the wall. “A safe, call the safe cracker.” Zach froze as he looked at a man standing in his crime scene. “Who the hell are you?”

“I guess I could be asking you the same thing.” Forbes said with slow deliberate steps as he looked at the officers. “My name is Forbes Montgomery and you are in my son’s home. One of the many reasons I’m here is to assist with the investigation. No need to call a locksmith. I am sure I have the combination of my sons safe. It’s his mother birthday January 28 1957. 1281957 try that code and I’m sure you’ll be able to get inside of the safe.” As he folded his arms he watched Zach press the codes. “Now I will say this if my son isn’t given justice I have some of the best lawyers in the world. They practice law in multiple countries my wife Catalina is a lawyer in Mexico, Italy, and the United States. You see I have no problem suing you into infinity and beyond. I suggest you solve this crime and not let my son’s shooting be anything like the beautiful Veronica Nichols.”

Zach put the code in and for some reason this guy didn’t scream paternal at all. He screamed like he was manipulating the situation. He had no proof other than the smarmy ass look on his face but he’d say the man was enjoying this. As he opened the safe he pulled out a old diary. It looked tattered and beat up. As he flipped through the pages of the book he gasped when he got to one page. Veronica said she lost her virginity to her father. As he kept flipping Zach skimmed and saw Veronica was planning on exposing him. Then he dug deeper inside and found a flashdrive. Walking over the Mac desktop he plugged it in. After a few moments he placed in the same code inside of the computer and the encrypted files flew up. As he clicked on the folder he found pictures and immediately clicked through. Finding the dates that he was stalking her. Philip was the stalker as he looked over a very satisfied Forbes. “Oh my God.” The night Dante was murdered. It was pictures and she was at the apartment. Taking a deep gulp he killed Dante. More than the murderer themselves he did it. She thought it was Dante who was stalking her. Zach knew it more now than ever Scarlett killed Veronica and that’s why Philip was doing all this. As a way to honor Veronica and no doubt drive Scarlett crazy.

“This can’t be real.” Zach said looking at Diego. “She is carrying my child. She’s carrying my baby.”

“I think that you’ve found what you need detective Fraiser and Special Agent now I would love if you drop the charges on my son somehow. He did just do all your homework for you. I’d hate to reveal to the public that Patricia daughter is a murderer and the police are holding my son who was trying to get her to confess but once again I’ll let my lawyers handle that.” Forbes turned around with a frown on his face. All the work he had to do to clean up the scene. Philip would be a free man when he awoke. His boy could be paralyzed and all he could think about was burning down whomever crossed him. “Goodnight officers.”

Diego watched as the man entered the room and as Zach opened the safe to reveal the diaries he picked one up and skimmed through it. His stomach turned at most of it the diary of a very abused girl and the madness that no doubt consumed both them growing up. Raping your own daughters only vile men did that, monsters and he looked over at Zach horrified. He then looked at the pictures of Scarlett outside the building could she of did it, of course she could he had thought her at first too. Everything added up and in some weird fucked up way he could get why Philip stalked Scarlett to scare her he didn’t agree with the methods especially the fire at Scarlett’s condo but he got the why. He watched the man leave just like that and spoke up.

“It’s quite fortunate wouldn’t you say Mr. Montgomery that everything was right here in the safe to help our investigation. The best techs in the world couldn’t undo security footage or explain why it went out at the complex but your son managed to stalk her all the way from across the street. Yet he didn’t feel the need to tell anyone about it.” Diego said seeing Forbes turn around to look at them again. Let the man come after him better had tried and he couldn’t nail anything on him or Philip at the moment stalking was illegal but people like Montgomery’s had money to spare to escape it. “I don’t suppose you’d be any help in telling us where we can find Ms. Nichols then right now.”

“Well I would love to let you know that Special Agent.” He laughed as saw how he was basically accusing him of tampering with evidence. Well he wasn’t a fool and his men had swept Philip apartment immediately after the shooting. He knew everything his son was doing when he first stuck his dick in that Devonshire wench. Just like he knew Cassandra was dating that guttersnipe cop Jon Harrison. “Scarlett took off in her families private jet today. From what I hear she’s laying low.”

Zach felt like he had a gut punch. Scarlett was running and here he was with all the evidence. The woman who was carrying his child was the murderer who stole his fiance Dante. He punched the wall out of fury. How could this be happening?

“I’ll send the AFPD the bill on that, once again good day officers.” Forbes said whistling a old song Audrey used to sing to the kids. It was sad actually. “Morocco is beautiful this time of year, have either of you ever been? I find it so interesting there’s no extradition treaty there. I’m sure Ms. Nichols did too. Special Agent it looks like your job is to find her right. However where in the world could she be?” Forbes continued to whistle knowing that Patricia for years had kept him in the loop. She was the best spy but she was no longer of use. Neither was her daughter. “Goodnight.”

“She’s gone with my baby.” Zach said looking at Diego. “I’m going with you.”


Brooke finally made it through the violent crowd to get to St. Christopher’s. After leaving Atticus standing alone in the riot, she rushed away to the hospital. Her mother had called her a hundred times and when she saw Anderson name she felt fear. Whatever was going on with Hunt was serious because her elder brother was involved. One thing Hunter was determined to do is not be in Anderson shadow. He never leaned on Anderson and if he was involved then this was serious. As she moved through the crowd of people coming to hospital. It was so many injured people due to the riot, God what had Atlas Falls tapped into? She was not ignorant right now America had a mad man in office and a community of disenfranchised people were feeling attacked. She however didn’t agree with the circumstances these people were rioting. Kendrick was a monster and no matter how many hams he passed out he was a criminal. He kidnapped two women and one happened to be pregnant. Flipping her hair she rushed upstairs and found Hunter outside the ICU.

“Hunter!” She screamed running to him she instantly grabbed him and held him in his arms. “Are you alright? I am hearing you were involved in some sort of shooting. Hunter what is going on?” She said holding him by his arms but seeing his face he looked sick. Like something had crawled into his soul and was killing him. God what had Max drug her brother into? “Hunter, mom is on her way and she called Anderson. I know that you don’t even like Philip why are you here? What’s going on big brother? Please talk to me because once she’s here she’s going to do what she normally does and take over the entire situation. Let me see if I can help you and maybe we can find some way to get you out of this mess.”

Hunter had stepped away hours ago from the madness that was the surgery, stepped away from Bliss and Max away from his future. He saw it in the room when Lowell arrived they were closing ranks on each other. Lowell would throw him under a bus in an instant to protect his girls and he knew it was only a matter of time before the police knew the truth or figured it out. He had texted his mother but no doubt since she was on the board at the hospital she knew about the shooting gossip traveled fast in their circles especially when it involved the shooting of Forbes Montgomery, two Devonshire girls and the former mayors son. He looked up when he heard Brooke call his name and he rose from hi seat and wrapped his arms around her looking at her face as she saw the blood stained shirt he still wore.

“It’s not mine. I was afraid for Max, me and Bliss she’d been acting so erratic lately more than usual so we went to find her at Philips. It was late they were fighting about Veronica Nichols and I just lunged to protect Max from him.” Hunter said the moment replaying over in his head they struggled for the gun and it went off and then he remembered the look on Philips’s face when he looked down and saw the blood the horror on it. His own horror overcome with everything, the gun he’d bought from Thor all those months ago to protect himself and Max just in case. No doubt Simon had done his job to get rid of it by now Bliss had slipped it into her purse on the way out. “He could die you know? He was ok for one moment and then they had to do a second surgery. Are you ok the streets are so bad right now. Mother’s on her way.”

Brooke listened and she had literally had enough of the Devonshire sisters using her brother. They now had gotten him somehow wrapped up in this shooting. How could he shoot Philip if he dies Lowell will set Hunter up for the fall. Hunter was beating himself up so she couldn’t lecture him. She had to support her brothers grabbing his hand she kissed it. Tears started to fall gasping softly as she hugged Hunter. “He has to make it Hunter.” She couldn’t lose him. “I just went through the worse break up and those riots. It’s so scary out there and I hate that you are going through this my God Hunter what were you thinking?” Brooke cried looked at him hugging him tightly. “We have to tell Anderson and I so can’t do mom right now. She’s going on and on about Atticus. They both suck and I sound horrible you shot someone.” Brooke whispered softly as she turned around seeing her mother arriving. Grabbing the lapels of Hunter’s suit she pushed his hair back. He always had the weirdest hair. Brown instead of blonde like Anderson and she.

Brenda had drove through a riot feeling the urgency in Hunter voice when she saw Brooke crying she felt crushed. This was serious and if Lowell already had his finger in the pot then those damn Devonshire girls had finally done it. They had made her boy into some sort of prize to claim. Now they would discard him in grand Devonshire tradition. She walked up to her children and just held them. God with this riot going on and now this Atlas Falls couldn’t be in anymore dangerous to a Kincaid. Once royalty here they were now tarnished. A joke and Steven assured that. The election fail and her own anger had also put them at a disadvantage. No more though after today Brenda was using all her weapons. She had to get ahead of Lowell and now Forbes. Brenda let go of her children from her embrace.

“I heard The Rawlings is ablaze my dear and you were there. Brooke oh my baby.” She said gasping as she looked at Hunter. Her perfect boy who never failed her until he got with Max over Cassie. This all started with that witch Max and her casting whatever spell she did over Hunter. He would have never been caught up in a shooting. Grabbing her beloved son whom she could see so much of his father in. “Hunter whatever happened you will get out of it. I assure you this my dear the narrative will be much different when I’m done. I mean it is Forbes son, you shot him but he is running that strip club.” She wasn’t rich once upon a time so her bougie was fake. This was a well tailored act but she wore this skin for a long time. It was a piece of her.

“Philip is a Montgomery and that means his father will be all over this. His hate for many people drives him and if you think anyone has been particularly nasty he trumps them. He’s unlikable and very likely to try and harm you. If what you said to me is true sweetie then Forbes is after you and you are on very borrowed time. Time that we are going to use to make sure he knows if he attacks a Kincaid then I’ll dismantle him and that second rate company of his. You trust your momma and big brother huh when I say that if Forbes or Lowell try you your mother media prowess will decimate them. You have to tell me if they can prove you did anything. If I have to plant evidence I will. If I have to do anything to protect you I will.”

Brooke saw how supportive her mother was being to them both. Seeing Atlas Falls in chaos was enough to make her cry. Her stomach tightened looking at Max walking out of the ICU. She couldn’t believe how lucky they were. She had officially enough of her when she gasped seeing her mother charging toward Max. Brooke jumped back as her mother grabbed Max shoulders.

“You bitch!” Brenda screamed at her. “What have you done!” She yelled at Max shaking her. In a move pushed her against a wall. Then reached back and slapped her with all her might. “You have placed my son in danger. You have placed him in the middle of your father and Forbes’s war.”

Max was ready to head home after everything, home to the mansion and not the house she used to share with Hunter. Her neck was still sore and to hide he bruise starting to form she had placed her scarf around it, her body was still shaking in fear. She barely had her thoughts caught up when Brenda flew at her and shook her, tossing her against the wall and the slap that followed. Having enough of everything she shoved Brenda back and slapped her back seeing the shock on both Brooke and Hunter’s face. She raged at her soon to be ex mother in law how dare she.

“Back off bitch. That’s right I don’t have to play nice with your wretched ass anymore. You’ve always hated me but I don’t and I mean I don’t have time for you today.” Max said tears almost streaming down her face she saw Hunter looking at her and she knew he knew. Knew what her father would do to protect her and Bliss. She only hoped he knew it wasn’t her plan at all she had wanted to tell the truth only the story had been spun in that room with Bliss and Hunter lying to the paramedics. “You’re a miserable woman. You don’t think I don’t know this is bad? Newsflash I do more more you ever could know. I didn’t ask for Hunter and Bliss to show up. That was on them. Will you treat my sister like common trash too due to your irrational hate for my family. What did we ever do to you?”

Hunter rose from his chair walking to both his mother and Max seeing Max breaking. When he reached out to comfort her he saw the look of disgust on his mother’s face and then Max push him back. He got it he wasn’t wanted there anymore needed there Philip had been the one to be that for her the last year. He was simply the man she didn’t want or love anymore if she ever did. When she went on to rage about he and a Bliss showing up to help her with Philip he didn’t know what to say or where the hell she was going with all of it. He and a kiss were worried about her she was the one threat was holding Philip at gunpoint when they got there like some crazy person. He tried to intervene and now he knew what would happen.

“Max you should leave get some rest you’re upset and not thinking clearly.” Hunter said he wasn’t sure what to say to her anymore. All his could have been avoided if she never would have started to sleep with Philip anyway and at that thought he let the anger take over. For a year he played the fool probably longer than that from what he heard, he’d tried to be a good husband and for what to go to jail for murder or attempted murder? “None of this would have happened if you would have kept your legs closed anyway. I tried with you I loved you at one point and you didn’t care and still don’t. If you did you’d go to the police and tell them what happened instead of having your dad do the dirty work to try and throw me under the bus. And don’t say that isn’t what is happening you know it is.”

Brooke saw her brother finally standing up for himself. She nodded as she grabbed her mother seeing that he finally said what he needed too. As she looked at Max seething her fury at Brenda it was amazing to see Hunter do the same. Unleash on Max in a way that he had never and said what needed to be said. “Just go Max once again you are here making yourself the victim. You did this Max and you are the reason you three are even in this mess. Nobody told you to sleep with that man and not know what he was truly capable of.” A lesson she was learning at this very moment with Ronan. He kept her safe but he also was the cause of all the strife in Atlas Falls right now.

Brenda rubbed her red cheek as she felt herself growing satisfied. “You will divorce my son immediately. You will keep your slutty sister away from my son. You will make your father protect him just like he’d protect you and Bliss. You will do this or I’ll ruin you. You hear me you little bitch! I will tear apart everything you hold dear. From your junkie brother to your bratty little niece. I will rip you all into a thousand pieces and by the time you have enough glue to put yourself together I’ll shatter you all over again. Max your family has interfered in my affairs and I won’t sit here and pretend that I like a Devonshire. Lowell helped me bury something many years ago and I won’t ever forgive him for that. That is why I hate him so and if you want to know ask your father and I presume he wouldn’t tell you the truth though. It would prove how much of a monster he truly is.” She hissed at Max. “Now leave my family with what you came with. Nothing but your name and your whorish title.”

Max looked at Brenda and Brooke and let out a laugh they were quite the ones to throw stones at glass houses. She took a step to them both and then glared at them. “My whorish title no I think that belongs to you Brenda long before it belonged to me. Didn’t you lay on your back with a married man while married? I wonder how your children really feel about that your entire affair with Walter plastered. And you little girl you were lying with the mob oh wait we aren’t supposed to talk about that in your perfection. So don’t even with me.” Max seethed looking over at Hunter her eyes burning she has been willing to play nice to settle their divorce but the gloves were off now.

“I was willing to play nice with you in our divorce but now Hunt go fuck yourself. I’ll take it all part of that cushy trust fund you have. Part of the ski resort that would look amazing with the DGI brand on it. Courts frown upon husbands fucking sisters or so I heard.” Max said something about all of it lighting a fire in her as she looked at their faces. Her father no they should be worried about her like father like daughter in this case. She was her daddy more than Brenda could ever imagine. “Your family comes after my brother, hell my niece I’ll burn you all to the ground. As for my confession I don’t think so. You wanted a war you got one.”

“Jesus Max.” Hunter said when she attacked his mother and laid her dirty laundry our whole the hospital staff looked. He then looked at his sister and the heartbreak on her face and before he knew it he lunged at Max only to be stopped when her guards finally showed up. “You’re cruel and heartless you’d really put Bliss through that a trial over what a trust fund and the resort? What about your nephew huh? What about him? You’d really do that to him your own flesh and blood? I love her Max don’t do that to her.” He shrugged the security off as he looked at her and what he saw hurt him she was dead inside. He saw the look of disgust on his mother’s face about Bliss but he didn’t care.

Something else was there something he never thought he’d ever see Lowell. The greed, the manipulation, the ego on full display and he held his mother back not wanting her humiliated anymore. The Max he knew was gone and maybe it was the tucked up way they carried on the last year or the shooting but she was gone now. “Leave Brooke out of his you want to attack someone attack me in court. I wanted this to be amicable when we met to meditate on things. Bring her back Max the girl I knew. Don’t become him.” Hunter said looking at her and realizing it was over now.

“Oh that’s it!” Brenda said furiously moving around Hunter with a swiftness she didn’t know she had. She grabbed Max by her hair and then threw her to the ground. Before she knew it she was on top of the little girl. “You won’t get a penny because you’ll be dead.” Her posh fake New England accent was gone and all that remained was the dirty girl from Scottswood who never stood a chance against the elite. Jackie used to talk down to her just the same condescending way. No more and she wasn’t this weak little girl like Max. She clawed her way into high life and she wouldn’t let some little slut talk down to her. “I’m going to kill you.” She screamed ferociously slamming Max head down on the floor.. “I’ve had enough of your insolence and I won’t take it!”

Brooke rushed to her mother as she saw her choking Max as they tussle on the ground. “Stop it mother!” She’d never heard her mother sound like this. She wasn’t so proper and seeing how embarrassed she was Brooke had never seen her mother like this. Rushing to her mother and grabbing her as Max kicked her in the gut. This was a mess all Brooke could do was scream at her mother to stop.

“No Brookie! She won’t touch anything that our family built. This slut will never touch our families legacy again! I assure you I will strip you of the Kincaid name and legacy. You know nothing about my past but what is worse is your life is built on blood little girl. Your father stole so much from me, from Lowell, and from everyone and his time has come. Lowell has someone who will tear him apart and God help you all you spoiled little bitch!” Brenda hissed as she screamed at Max.

Hunter saw his mother attack Max again saw his sister lunge to stop it and he along with Max’s guards broke up the fighting. He looked at Max as she threw back her hair eyes determined he was sure to destroy them all. He’d never seen her like this and then his mother seeing her in so much pain. He knew that Lowell hurt his parents but it was years ago but he never thought that his father retaliated maybe he was wrong with how his mother was talking. “It’s enough mother, she’s leaving.” He finally said looking at Max.

Max brushed her hair out of her face at Brenda’s attack knowing her words had impact on Brenda shaking the other woman possibly to the core. She waved her security back as she looked over at Hunter. Pulling the scarf tighter on her neck and dignifying herself she’d won today with Brenda at least she may not of won with Philip or Forbes but Brenda she’d won the battle with her today. She walked to Brenda’s dropped purse handing it to her. “I’ll see myself out don’t worry I’ll make sure to send over a bottle for you when the divorce is final and I have some of it. Hunter.” Max said a snarl on her face before walking out of the door with her security.

Brenda wildly freed herself from Hunter’s embrace. “Those girls are the devil to you Hunter! Don’t you see he won’t help you? Lowell made me do something I never truly wanted to do. He talked into ruining three different lives. That bitch is her mothers daughter and I can’t and won’t tolerate it anymore! Anderson is coming and he will fix this but you aren’t to see Bliss or Max anymore. Whatever happened to Philip, Lowell will do everything to see his beloved little girls get a fair shot while we end up with you behind bars. Not today and not ever!” She said as her voice cracked and she wrapped her arms around herself. “I was so young. That baby was so innocent.” Brenda ran away grabbing her purse to the bathroom and past two women and into a bathroom stall. Screaming and hitting the wall of the stall. After a few moments of weeping, Brenda heard the women scuttle away. No doubt about gossiping about her breakdown and fight with Max. That little wench kicked her good. As she walked out of the stall she quickly turned on the water at the sink. Quickly splashing her face she pulled out a paper towel and blotted her face.

Brenda opened her purse grabbing her shades placing them on her face. Thank God it was a riot because the fight would be tabloid fodder. However her mopping the floor with Max she flipped her hair into a clip. Taking a deep breath she bit down on her lip. Her daughter a daughter she never knew and missed every day of her life. She was heartbroken and she felt like moving away from her children would be best. She’d been chilly to Hunter at best because of her selfish anger and Brooke was replacing a daughter she never knew. Exceeding her own worst expectations as a mother. Brenda opened the door and rushed away not even saying anything just rushing away. As she got to the Maybach the driver opened the door and she threw herself in. Every day she died more and more inside reaching for a bottle Brenda quickly gulped down the vodka.”Drive!”

Brooke looked at Hunter with her mouth opened aghast at what had transpired. Moving her hand through her hair she gasped placing her hands on her knees. What was her mother thinking? Quickly walking to her brother she just hugged him. Whatever Hunter was feeling he was in danger and they all saw that clearly. She was here to support him. “I love you Hunter.” She whispered in his ear.

Hunter watched Max leave watched his mother rush to the bathroom her last words hanging in the air. He didn’t believe that Bliss would throw him under the bus he didn’t think that little of her. Instead he focused in on the other part, she had a daughter right here in Brooke and then there was the rumors from the debate where Walter had his mother publicly admit she had lost a child with that man. Not knowing what else to do or how to deal with the rest of it just yet. He wrapped Brooke in his arms and let her hug him not sure what would happen to them next.


Talia stood outside of Zerick office with Simon. Her heart beating fast because today they would be the first day she was told the truth. The truth on Zerick after a year of not knowing what was the truth. She couldn’t believe she was about to hack this man life. Hell why couldn’t she? After going to Egypt which was a major shift for her. She started to fall for a man she knew she didn’t know. His heart wasn’t pure and most of all she knew he was after the Devonshire family. A family she loved and cared about. Hell they cared about her well being. Not many people could say they had a in with the Devonshire’s and she planned to keep it. Love or not something was seriously off about Zerick. He was dark and twisty something that attracted her and made her fear him. As she pulled out a key she got from maintenance and knew she didn’t have a choice. What did she do? Continue on like this in some confused limbo loving the asshole or find out his dark and twisty secrets. That’s what she had to do. Find out who he was and finally have the upperhand.

As she unlocked the door she looked over at Simon disapproving face. He was just as nosey as she was. However something about this she could tell he didn’t like. Talia had fallen for the man and how was she going to be objective? There was no objectivity when it came to matters of the heart. “Don’t just stand there snoop. We are here for one reason to find out who this son of a bitch is.” Talia tapped her heel against the floor. “Simon stop looking at me like that. I care about him but I won’t sit here and pretend that he doesn’t need to be figured out. He’s a mystery to me and I need to know. I deserve to know exactly what he is.” She walked to his computer and stuck a flashdrive inside of it. Then she started to download all his information off the computer. “I think we need to find out everything about him because things are getting bad. I never saw boss shook like that with this Forbes guy in town.”

It has been a day needless to say the shooting cover up had taken up most of his day and then the call came about Forbes. That was another beast altogether Forbes was dangerous and could easily take down DGI ruthlessly if they weren’t careful. He had been wanting to go back to his place early kick back a glass or two and then go from there when Talia called. Zerick had went home for the day meaning it was safe to finally make their move. Greer was with Chauncey somewhere Zerick would no doubt be wanting to know where his wife was and they could finally crack what he was hiding. He followed Talia inside and more than anything he didn’t want her to be heartbroken by Zerick. She was his friend and sometimes he felt like he had very few of those.

“You know maintenance could have helped you with this or security. Luckily for you I happen to be nosey as shit too. Lowell will thank us once we figure out what is going on the company needs a win today. Put your personal feelings aside Talia if this goes south I don’t want you getting hurt.” Simon said looking at her she started to take the files off of Zerick computer. He looked around the office Bare unusual in his mind. People kept momentous pictures of loved ones, achievements he had none of those almost like he was a nobody. “So what is your best theory. We know he lied about his upbringing thanks to our trip to London. But the bigger question is why. You said the other day he was doing something with his desk? Which drawer?” Simon asked taking out a set of lock picks from his pocket seeing her look at him. “I have a skill set wouldn’t be the first time I’ve picked in the name of DGI which one?”

“This one.” The drawer underneath the computer at his desk. Well to be honest the thing she was most afraid of was finding out he was a monster. That was what she didn’t want most of all. That he was like this Forbes guy or even worse because honestly she couldn’t help it. She had gotten wrapped up in her emotions with Zerick. It started off as light flirting and now she was falling in love. Slowly moving her hair behind her ears Talia looked at him. “I think that he is connected to something in the past. He said something along the lines of he wants revenge against the Devonshire’s. That means he has some sort of vendetta I just want it to be some sort of misguided mistake.”

Flipping her hair she pulled out the flashdrive. Now they were able to see what was on his computer. As she finally looked at Simon. “You know what makes me sick? How he’s all mysterious and that’s what I’m drawn too. I just think it’s awkward knowing he’s lying and he’s this entire other person. I can’t help but to feel stupidly falling for someone who isn’t even a good guy. I just know he isn’t good you know? I feel it in my bones. He’s lying about something major and we are about to find out what. When I do know then I’ll know how to proceed with him. I’ll know how to take him down with Lowell help. Hopefully I’ll have a damn new job and shiny position.”

“You know if I was into your type, the ones with nice legs and wet channels someone might think this to be improper.” Simon said offering her a sly grin as he moved in between the desk and her legs to work the lock. He was gay, no doubt about it he’d know about it for years always he felt different was into men from a young age, girls were never his thing. However if someone were to walk in on them they would see him on his knees and her in a chair compromising to say the least and funny in his opinion. “Luckily for us both it can provide a good cover story if someone were to open the door. Though the office would gossip about it for weeks on end.” He rambled on as he finally heard the lock click and the drawer opened. Rising up he looked at the folders inside.

Various investments in companies abroad and at home, some personal scribbles about projects at DGI he was a part of. By the time he reached the last folder he was sure Zerick was the most boring person he had ever met in his life. Opening up the folder though something peaked his interest the Willowbrook Institution he’d heard of that before. He just couldn’t remember where, there were other files there financial records from over thirty years ago that were faded. Account numbers and he handed the files to Talia she had access to financial files at DGI he did to but she was already at the computer and their flash drive had opened up the computer for use.

“Look up this account, it’s old it might not be in the system anymore. There’s also this a bill from the Willowbrook Institute I swear I’ve seen that name before someone or heard it here at the company I just can’t remember where. For a second I was afraid we weren’t going to find anything.” Simon said as he watched her type on the keyboard and then looked at the window in Zerick’s office walking to them and drawing the blinds just in case. “Anything yet?”

Talia eyes sparked up when he said Willowbrook her eyes sparked. As she gasped grabbing Simon suit jacket. “Oh my God.” She mumbled as she opened her Birkin bag rumbling through she pulled out a blackberry phone and plugging it into the wall. “This is my phone from when I was Lowell assistant. About six years ago we started to send obscene amounts of money there.” Once the phone had a little bit of juice in the phone she turned it on as she fumbled with her purse handle nervous she got him. Nervous to know that Zerick was who she now in her gut said she was. Scrolling through her contacts Willowbrook was right there. Dialing it she bit down on her lip. “Hello, this is Talia Rose Mr. Devonshire assistant and I want to know did Ms.Davis receive her monthly organza flowers? She did well thank-you don’t let her know about the call don’t want to disturb her.” Talia hung up and she shook her head looking at Simon they had uncovered who Zerick was.

“Simon you’ve heard of it before because it’s where Jackie sent Kathleen too that uppity insane asylum. Honey think Noelle told us in London that her auntie name was what Katie. That’s Jackie nickname for Kathleen and she goes by that. Why would Zerick who is a Devonshire sort of do this? I mean he’s Jackie’s nephew and infiltrating their lives hell all of our lives but why? This bastard has me caring for him and he’s Jackie’s nephew.” She spewed looking at Simon whispering but about to burst. “God I care about him and I don’t know what his motives are?”

Simon looked at her when she mentioned Kathleen Davis and his blood ran cold, that is where he remembered the name of the institution. The family talked about Katie sometimes Jackie would get sentimental over her sister from time to time. None of the younger generation had ever met her, she left about a year after Chauncey was born. He had asked his parents about it once and his mother had clammed up saying it was impolite to talk about. He’d been sixteen and he remembered that day he hadn’t come out of the closet and his father had pulled him into the study and gave him the talk about respecting women. He had asked why and the answer still gave him chills.

Because even your friends can be responsible for heinous things. He had tried to press his father further and that is when he had heard one of the many rumors of Lowell Devonshire. A party at the Devonshire estate drugs, sex, partying and a beautiful young girl. It was the night that his father had told him Kathleen had left town after she had claimed Lowell had raped her and the accusations were never taken seriously by the people she told. When he asked his father if it was true he remembered how he had shrugged and he said he didn’t know if it was or not. They’d never discussed it further. He looked at the screen and closed his eyes a gut feeling sinking in no this was personal and not against Jackie. This was against Lowell.

“Don’t tell anyone about this. I need to make a few calls do some digging. There was a rumor a long time ago about Kathleen and what happened to her. There was a party and drugs, Lowell used to party back then…” Simon said slowly he watched Talia’s face and he saw it click for her if it was true. He didn’t want to believe it either but the evidence made him question things. If Zerick was after Jackie there was a million ways to do it, no this felt personal like an attack on Lowell and what he held most dear DGI. “It’s not personal against Jackie Talia, it’s against Lowell. There were rumors he was the father of Kathleen’s baby. I have to go. Lock up and put everything back where you found it.” Simon said looking at her and his hand was shaking as he walked to the door casting  glance at her and then shutting the door behind him before taking out his phone and calling his PI. “Find me every record you can of Kathleen Davis.”

Talia gulped as she looked at Simon and the fear in his voice said it all. He was thinking that Zerick was possibly Lowell son with Kathleen. Dear God that’s why he was here. The rage and fire she saw in his eyes was because he was the thrown away son. With a misty eye she quickly placed the files back in the drawer and closing it she stood. Sliding his chair back in place and she felt her stomach clench as she walked over to Simon and nodded her head. Kathleen was a nutcase and to hear that something might have happened with Lowell. That was how Zerick came into the world and she felt that feeling eating her up. She had gone digging and never thought she would feel like this. Simon urgency showed that this wasn’t a game. This was a well calculated scheme and the game wasn’t stacked in anyone favor.

Talia placed her purse on her shoulder as she grabbed her charger and blackberry. Putting them inside her bag she looked at Simon. “I know I said I could handle this. I really care about him and if this is true who the hell are we working for? Simon we have to go tell Lowell or someone this is personal and I feel like we are stepping into their family pain. It’s almost too dirty for me. I don’t want to be dirty and spoiled by this family. Simon we didn’t come this far to be these people. What are we doing because if this is true maybe who are we to step into karma?” Talia questioned but then saw the bigger picture quickly. He had always saw her as a brilliant young woman and not just a beauty. He told her that her biggest asset was that people would think she was dumb. People would underestimate her and with that she’d be able to attack. He was like another father but cool. Talia knew it wasn’t true. “Lowell isn’t that guy I know it. Zerick isn’t Lowell son. I care but the Devonshire’s have been my family and I’m freaking because this is going to affect everyone.”

“Right now I need to make some calls and talk to a few people. There were rumors about when she left. Some people at the party that night said Lowell left the room she was in, she was crying. I know from my parents Jackie almost kicked him out it was an ugly time and I can’t say if it’s true or not.” Simon said looking at her and that was the truth he didn’t know what to believe. Sure it could have happened but he didn’t want it to be. If it was he knew the ramifications would he huge and far reaching. “We don’t know if it is or not yet. For now you need to act like you don’t know anything.” He finished knowing Talia that might not be possible and she may even go see him which could be good or bad. “I don’t want it to be true Talia but there is a real possibility that it is.” He finished as he walked away from her in the hallway he had to get out of there and he had to figure out what was going on.

“I can’t see him right now.” She said her voice barely above a whisper. Closing Zerick office as she placed the keys in the door she turned to see Simon rushing away. He was calm but deep down she saw he was freaking out. Rushing down the hall she pressed the elevator button. She was going to go home and take a hot bath and drink a lot of wine. That was the best end to a day like today. She was sure that the man she more than cared about. That was stupid because she didn’t just care about him but she was falling in love with him. Talia got on the elevator wondered if Zerick was thinking about her as much as she was thinking about him.


Jamal heard the chants as he saw a local activist named Vaughn up there preaching the gospel of the streets. It was full of the same praise as a church hymn, but this praise was evoking chaos. The looting had become intense in the shopping district which housed Renards, and the mall. Which he heard through kids late to the party rushing to try get a pair of free Jordan’s or Yeezy’s. Tears in his eyes he felt the extreme guilt of what he had done. If he maybe didn’t cross in the path of Kendrick then maybe he wouldn’t have grasped all that power? He helped Kendrick grow into the man. Encouraging the disrespect of Ronan and eventually letting him think that the mob wouldn’t be able to squash his revolt. He was a minion who flew too close to the sun and got burned. At the end of the day Kendrick seemed to have talented individuals around him. He didn’t want too many people to notice him but he knew the Austin Hills boys would want to kill him. He would risk it for this moment. He had to find him and being in the middle of the riot as the rich boy who played Kendrick wasn’t a good look. Jamal knew he had to find him.

Moving through the thousands of people out. So many of his people were hurting and this was proof. Kids were out here stealing from grocery stores and TJ’s was demolished in the wake. It was sad because who was he to think about these people after he betrayed them. He got Kendrick killed with his dumbass plan. Taking a deep ass breath Jamal saw Ivan standing alone smoking a blunt. Now yeah he could get popped for this but he wasn’t coming as Jamal with a thousand secrets he was coming as Jamal Delacroix. A different swagger was behind him and he was going to do what he had to get what he wanted. They were heading to DGI if they got any further. It would be on the steps of the Devonshire’s. When he turned around he saw him standing in the back smoking a blunt. The smell of his sativa was signature. Ivan Gutierrez was the sickest rapper in Pennsylvania and hell the east coast. It’s just he didn’t know it yet. Or if he did he didn’t care because the streets had him. He was best friends with Money and his death hit him hard.

As protesters with sticks and flames passed him, Jamal approached Ivan and tapped his shoulder. “Hey Ivan.” Throwing down his hood on his hoodie showing his face. “I just need to speak with you man. I want to say that you are the sickest rapper around and I need you.” Jamal felt a rock hard fist connect to his face. Falling directly onto his back he grabbed his jaw rocking back and forth on the ground.

“You pussy ass bitch!” Ivan said standing over him. “You old fuckboy I should shoot your bitch ass. It’s fucking chaos I could get away with it. Boy your rich ass got balls coming in here. If your bitch ass would have given Kendrick the drugs then Yasmine wouldn’t have gotten involved in this shit. Nor that bougie ass white bitch and another one of my brothers would be here. You know I just lost Money and even though Kendrick was power tripping I could gotten him out. I could have gotten him to my people in Florida and you just had to come doing some extra shit.” Ivan snapped as he pulled out his gun and aimed it at Jamal head. “I come from this shit boy. I do this shit and this is my life boy. I’m cut from a different cloth than these other niggas know that fuckboy. Why you want this life I don’t know boy you all Cosby and shit scared now huh bitch?”

Jamal finally looked up and saw Ivan over him with his gun waving in his face. Damn there goes the Delacroix swagger huh? Yeah he was himself but that didn’t mean people would be forgetting his stunt anytime soon. Raising his hands to show he has no weapon he looked at Ivan in his eyes. “I want to see what it was like not to be privileged and have everything handed to me. Selling drugs was fun and to be honest I learned a lot about life and myself. I fought it every day and night but I will never know what it’s like to be a child of Scottswood. You do though and hell you know much more than that.” Jamal gulped as he scooted up as he saw Ivan literally struggling with Kendrick it was weighing on him deeply.

“I blame myself and his group is either dead or locked up. Somehow Ivan you got out and I have to think that this is Kendrick way of letting me help you.” Jamal said as he saw Ivan starting to listen and calm.

“How the fuck you going to help me rich boy? Man I should pop your bitch ass.” Ivan said raising the gun back at Jamal.

“If you shut the fuck up and let me fucking talk Ivan!” Jamal screamed at him with saliva spewing from the sides of his mouth. “I want to sign you my record label is Scottswood and what I learned out there. I see my vision of these people stories coming to life. The passion in them right now I see Scottswood and I see the struggle now. So if you ask me I wanted to know the struggle and I wanted to get some emotion in my music. Right now I feel guilty as fuck and I know that man death I got some blood on my hands. More than Jon Harrison or anyone else so I’m begging you to just let me show you I’m trying. Most of Kendrick people are locked or dead right now but as I said you here. You fucking here Ivan and I want to ask you to be my first artist. I want you to be my superstar at my label.”

Ivan stood floored as he his hand fell placing his gun in his pants. Rich boy had some heart because even though he got punched here he was. He was standing right here chin up still trying to convince him. “Man you a fucking liar and bro I don’t got no time for liars. You fucking had us all believing you were from Philly and I assumed you were down. Your ass played us all and I’m not here to fucking trust you. Fuck you rich boy you got me fucked up. Take your ass back up in that mansion before someone spot your ass and kill you.” Ivan pulled up his pants and started to walk away.

“Fuck me and trust my money. I got the Devonshire’s backing my label and if you ride with me I promise you will be able to get whatever you desire. Whatever you dream of and if it’s getting out of Scottswood or stopping selling drugs then sign this contract. Come with me and let me show you how much your time with me meant. Ivan your flow is electric and when I hear you spit I hear that laid back Florida flow but I also hear that aggressive Philly beast that you’ve acquired by rapping against our rappers. You have something special and your freestyle man you going to murder them.”

Ivan stood silent as he heard how much Jamal was feeling him. Seeing the passion in his face he knew that the motherfucker wasn’t lying. Yet signing with him what he wanted. Hell all he wanted was to go to Florida again. Ivan knew that wasn’t happening after his father tried to kill him his mother made him vow on his little brother not to come home. He hadn’t been back but he heard shit all the time. He heard that his pops beat his mother merciless just last week. If he could get back to Florida he’d kill that pussy and show him who the man was. “If I do this shit I aint recording shit lame as fuck. I’m doing me.”

“That’s all I ask bro. That’s all I ask Ivan and I will produce you and let you go where we need to.” Jamal smiled as he extended his hand. “I don’t care about shit but the music and you are fire. I will show and prove too you Ivan. I’m going to show you that I’m the truth on the production tip and you are going to be grateful to me one day. I promise that.” Jamal had his hand out there.

Ivan shook the fool hand quickly as he shook his head. “You corny as hell boy I don’t know how we fell for that that shit.”

“I’m a better actor that you know.” Jamal said throwing his hood up knowing his eye was swelling. He didn’t give a fuck today was the first day on his move to takeover his own empire. “Yo tomorrow meet me at Club Vertigo at six o’clock and I promise you something you like. We start tomorrow.”

Standing there he knew that something was different. All his life he could spit and rapping wasn’t something he thought would get him here. He was grateful already because after Money dying that was brother and his heart was ripped out. Now Kendrick his boys were gone and they knew things about him nobody did. “I’ll be there rich boy.”

“Jamal my name Jamal.” He said walking away tomorrow he’d sign the paperwork and he’d be someone to lead them into their futures. Kings of hip-hop very soon but titans in the music industry.


Ronan had arrived at Club XES after dropping off the prince of whatever fucking small island back at the Kincaid estate and then headed into the club. Business couldn’t be closed long and the blood stain was already out of the floor. Since the raid his men and a crew were working on making the club safe again. The drugs wouldn’t be able to be traded out of here for a while and that was alright for now he knew when to hold back and when to let the trade flow. This was one of those times walking to a private booth in the back he had one of his guards go get him a bottle of the best bourbon as he took out the newly acquired casino contracts. Two wins the contract from Lowell and of course the Robertsons and to celebrate he was going to drink and make a few calls to the girls that had left. Get them back to work. He waved his hand off as the glass and bourbon was placed in front of him and he poured himself a glass. Looking up when the club door opened and men moved and Forbes Montgomery took a seat across from him.

“Well, well the man and the myth. Forbes what can I do for you. Terrible business what happened with Philip but despite what you may hear on the streets I had nothing to do with it.” Ronan said annoyed at the interruption he had met Forbes once when Philip and Cassie went into business with him on the club he had come for the opening. He had come gotten a dance from a girl, he was even pretty sure he fucked one in the back room before leaving and now here he was in front of him. “Here to pick up Philip’s messes. Please apologize to Cassie for me when I heard about Kendrick assaulting her at the meeting before I was sent to jail it disturbed me greatly. What can I do for you Forbes as you can see I have legitimate business to attend too.”

Forbes had arrived at the low rent laundering establishment and felt disappointed in his son. If he was going to start a titty bar then at least do it with a little more class. It was nice for a mobster and repressed semi-rich kid. Just tacky enough that it made you feel skeevy but not trashy enough to make you want to run. They didn’t listen to his decorating skills. He saw what the clientele had to be, middle class men who could never score a woman like Yasmine. Folding his arms together he listened to him gloating. When he spoke about Kendrick putting his hands on his blood he felt a chill run down his spine. Ronan thought he was in control in this situation. It was time for him to show him who was in control.

“My son only flaw was not turning this place upscale he definitely has an eye for this. The mess I’m here I’m here to pick up is that my children no longer have any stake in Club XES. Whatever it takes to buy them out but they will no longer be involved with you. I mean the gloating is extremely disgusting Mr. Madden. I expected a little couth from you besting Lowell has you feeling quite arrogant.” Forbes turned to one of Ronan’s lackies and waved his hand at him. “You I will take your best rum.” Seeing him not moving. “Now!” He growled as the man made eye contact with Ronan.

“Mr. Madden your workers don’t move fast at all my my my a proud King on his throne. It’s quite ironic the only real reason you have your kingdom is a cop mowed down that young man. What was his name Kendrick? Oh I love that power and arrogance that boy had. He had the piss of youth while you have what? A group of mourning pawns and your rook is now dead, if I was smart I’d say right now you are most vulnerable.” Forbes leaned back and took the drink from the man. “Now how much do I need to pay you to walk out with my children name off your establishment. Considering I’m feeling in the mood I might give you a little advice to help you with Lowell.”

“Your son saw a chance to make money along with your beautiful daughter and I simply provided the building for it to happen in. I think you as Philip so kindly putting we’re somewhere in Europe with your latest wife too bothered to be concerned about it. I’m actually surprised you’re here now that Philip might actually need you.” Ronan said as he watched his staff run errands for Forbes the disrespect was clear and he waved the man back off. Holding up his other hand when his guards made motions towards the table. “I’ve already bought Cassie out well technically my brother bought her or after the Kendrick incident. They’ve been in love for years and her you’ve never bothered to come here before.”

Ronan looked at Forbes he never cared for his other children from what he had seen. Cassie had always flown to see him not the other way around. Forbes has refused to meet Thor when they were together when his brother made her happy. “You think you can walk into a club that I own and accost me from it? Philip likes it here he makes good money here you want him out go to him and have him do it.” Ronan said eyeing Forbes and his eyes grew dark when he mentioned Lowell he was not an insolent nor one of Forbes’s minions. “I don’t need your help with Lowell I have him exactly where I want him. You’re not the only one that can go to war with the great Lowell Devonshire.”

“No but I will be the only one that will decimate him. I’ll tell you that only but once little boy. Look at you thinking that was a request not now that is a demand and my price has went down. You are very insolent I like that though. You think that because you are here with hundreds of men guarding you that you are powerful. Power boy you know nothing of power because you apart of the cartel.” Forbes saw his eyes light up in shock. “You think you have control over everything but a lacky you employed and trained came into your house and showed you whose it was. The gambinos I rolled with would have killed these people for the choices they made against you. Your brother killed how many of your men in that shoot out? Ronan I have been watching and I am high unimpressed with Thor but he’s better than the all-American golden boy Jon Harrison.” Forbes took a gulp of his drink as he paused leaning in.

“Ten million is a fair enough but let’s say that’s not enough. I’ll throw you a bone. You war with Lowell and get in my way I’ll step on you. I’ll crush you Ronan and nobody in your cartel family will be able to help you. So desperate to be your father you saw his weakness a woman and this isn’t easy for is it Ronan? Brooke with my friend Prince Atticus, his coming here was amazing coincidence no? All the sudden you let the most beautiful piece of ass I’ve seen since Brenda was that age slip away. God Brenda was stunning you would have loved her in the sack much like Brooke I presume a beast but coy beauty model? And fuck here’s this pretty sonofabitch I’d be infuriated with his presence because what’s a prince to a mobster.” Forbes knew how to push his buttons. “Philip is not able to handle his legal affairs and I don’t think you want any lawyers in your books? I mean I’ll have to factor in how much Philip makes at the club and since he’s a co-owner.” With a grin he leaned back he pulled out a cigar and sparked it up. “Now since I’m his power of attorney ten million how does that sound?”

Ronan has been disrespected much of his life he was used to it people in this town looked at him a certain way. Because of who he was because of what his father had brought to Atlas Falls when the movement was headed more east. Some of his own men had turned against him and they had been dealt with after a few calls his closet men though that were loyal were in the club. He let Forbes roll on about the club about his baby brother but it all stopped when he insulted his father and worse Brooke. The move was swift as he reached across the table grabbing Forbes by the hair and tossing his face down against the wood. Men jumped and when he released Forbes back into his seat his gun was already draw at the old man.

“You come into my house insult me? Insult my brother, my father and a woman I happen to care a great deal about and expect me to roll over like your dog? You’re not the only one with friends.” He watched Forbes wipe at his nose seeing the blood on it. He kept his hand steady on the gun saw his men watching Forbes men. He kept his breathing calm ten million was a good offer he wasn’t afraid of that but the club was important the entire point of Philip as a partner was the connections Philip assured him he could bring to the bigger picture. Whatever that meant he placed the gun on the table his finger never leaving the trigger. “Benny Logan is a name you should ask about around town ask Philip about him. People just don’t get to double cross me and live Kendrick learned that the hard way though I’ll thank the cop in person for ridding me of his disease on my house. I’ll take fifteen. I don’t want a war with you Forbes I have my eyes on bigger things but I won’t be insulted by your what do you call it intimidation techniques? Swagger perhaps?”

“That will be the last time you ever put your hands on me.” Forbes pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his nose. The blood infuriated him but did know that Ronan had the bigger guns right now literally. As he smirked tilting his head he wiped his nose unashamed as he turned his head back. “Careful that’s extortion and here I thought you were a fair mobster. Deal little boy but I dare to warn you that you’ve gravely underestimated what you are involved in. I asked you to step back and get away from Lowell but you of are the understanding that it’s equal in war. Don’t answer that just know that once I begin what I have planned. Once my plan is in effect then I don’t expect to tell you again. If you are in my way I assure that you will be broken. Fifteen will be the price but I’ve made myself clear and I was willing to go twenty.” He said standing feeling himself making a clear to Ronan.

“It doesn’t matter who is in my way Ronan mobster, tycoon, friend, lover, and hell even a child. I’ll burn the ground you walk on and when you look up. Poof you’ll be a memory.” Pulling out a blank check he filled it out and smirked. “This should do little Madden. Your father was much more interesting. It’s surprising to see you so demure.” Forbes slid the check over and stood up gulping down the rest of his drink. “A man has to eat but remember I’m the one who eats first. Then you can lap the leftover carcass.” Walking to the exit. “I don’t take this as a friendly meeting Ronan. I will not forget your hospitality today.” Leaving Club XES Forbes swore that Ronan would pay for not only touching him but boldly not kissing the ring. He was the man and if that was what Ronan thought he was well he’d prove him wrong. Pulling out his cellphone he smirked. “El Jefe Navarro please call me. I have a interesting proposal for you and a expansion into American soil.”

Ronan watched Forbes and when he was sure blood wouldn’t be shed at the club for the second time that week he released his finger from the trigger. He knew enough about Forbes from the streets and the rumors if he were to off someone like Forbes he would be a marked man to Forbes’s employees and friends it was heat he couldn’t afford on him right now. The feds were too close for comfort at the moment he had things in place so witnesses to Kendrick and the organization would be taken care of behind bars, a gang incident. The kidnapping of Yasmine and Walter’s daughter had put more eyes on them and for now having Forbes in a ditch would send attention where he didn’t need it.  When Forbes mentioned that he was not like his father he supposed that was true, they ran things slightly differently and he attributed that to his dear friend in Florida who had come into power at the same time. He waved his hands at his men as Forbes got up allowing him safe passage out of the club.

“I’ll see you around town Mr. Montgomery. For now I would say you stay out of my way and I’ll stay out of yours.” Ronan said watching the other man leave and placing the check inside the pocket of his shirt. He picked up his drink and took a swig swirling the glass in front of him and then waving his guards away. Forbes words about Atticus on his mind and the doubt he felt about the steps he was taking for a moment. He was dangerous and that very much so was in his interest looking over at Paco one of his guards he looked at him. “Reach out to Kevin I need to know everything he may know about Forbes Montgomery. Be discreet about it and get the car ready. We have one last loose end to tie up, find Yasmine.” He needed to pay Yasmine a visit and make sure she understood silence would be what she would live with now on their connection.