2×01 “Pain, Passion, Pressure”

2×01 “Pain, Passion and Pressure”
Written by: Chris Coleman and Kelly Zollo
Warning: Episode may contain graphic language, sex and adult themes



Selina held a leg as she looked over at Tamara, Bliss, and Jackie. Each woman carried a arm or a leg. It made her feel so lost how did the four of them get here? She looked at Tamara and the sympathy waved over her. He’d just beat her but this son a bitch had taken something much more precious from Tamara. Her eyes drifted to Bliss dragging his body and she felt an urge to scream. How did four smart and talented women get to this place? Dropping the leg all the women tumbled to the ground. She looked at them and started to cry. Before she knew it Jackie grabbed her shoulders shaking her out of her stupor. Chauncey saved her a few months ago after he beat her ass. Now she was carrying her fiance body. If she would have stayed and fought for Braden this wouldn’t happened. She was hearing Bliss and Tamara yelling at each other.

“Stop it!” Selina said looking at the other three women. They were once beautiful earlier today, a wedding that brought two rival families together. “We have to get this body into Lake Everest and find a rock to sink this fucker. Bliss you brought the rope and I need us all to stop fighting. Dimitri is dead and if we don’t get rid of this body we are dead so please. Please stop fighting and let’s get this bastard in the lake. Let’s make sure he’s forever is gone because I don’t want to remember him anymore. Tamara you shouldn’t be fighting with Bliss when us three have a connection beyond anything I’ve ever felt. You are my sisters because I know the pain of a man hitting you.” She said grabbing Bliss hand. “A man attacking you.” She grabbed Tamara hand. “And a mother protecting her family fiercely.” She looked at Jackie. “Let’s get rid of a man who doesn’t deserve to take us away from our families.”

Bliss nodded as she started to weep openly thinking of how she brought this man into their lives. Now Tamara a mother, Selina a mother, and Jackie her stepmother were all in danger. Looking at the dark blood stained shirt she flashed back stabbing him. She cried thinking that was why he was dead. Her son deserved Hunter as a father not this monster but how was she going to keep this a secret? A secret that had made them all murderers. As she nodded her head she heard Selina as she looked at her. “But you didn’t stab him.” She felt like her entire body shook from feeling completely alone. Her eyes were blurred with tears as she felt Selina help her up and she shook her head.

“No but I bashed his head in.” Tamara chimed in as she looked at the women. “Please guys I’m in couture and I can’t do this much longer. I cold and it’s raining out here we have to keep moving. This is what happens when you rape a woman. You have to deal with your sin and we all had to attack him Bliss so who knows which one of us gave him the fatal blow. I just thank-you all because if he did that to me again.” She felt a shiver run down her spine and her eyes also started to water. “I beat a drug habit and all I want to do is get a hit now. That’s all I want is to do some drugs and make it all go away. What he did to me!” She said as she looked at Jackie and leaned on a tree trunk. “I know I can’t use because Dylan doesn’t deserve that. He deserves me clean but I can still feel his breath on me. His hands all over my body and even though he’s dead I still… I still fear him because he’s evil. This isn’t your fault Bliss, when you have children especially a boy we want to do nothing but protect them. I want to protect Dylan he threatened my son, and he protected me.” Clearing her throat she wiped her face smearing the mud on her face.

“Please can we get this over with because I don’t know how I’m going to explain this to Braden. I need to get back to my boyfriend and son.” She saw Selina cracked face and knew for a fact that she hurt the other woman. She closed her eyes not wanting to see the pain all over her face. “I love him Selina and I know you’re single but please stay away from my boyfriend. Stay away from us and my family. My family deserves a shot and I’m asking for you to walk away from Braden.”

Bliss looked at Selina and Tamara and was shocked at what was transpiring. This wasn’t the time she heard about how much these two women hated each other. She went through that last year with Max and was grateful for Max and she were done with that. Flipping her hair she looked down at her finger. “My engagement ring is gone!” Her hand shook feverishly. “What if it’s found out here?”

If anyone would have told her that months after receiving her husband’s diagnosis and what was supposed to be a day of joy she would be helping the girl she considered her own daughter, her stepdaughter and a complete stranger bury a body in the lake she would have called them crazy. Yet here she was sneaking away from the reception to take the evil out of her family and Atlas Falls forever doing what had to be done as a mother. She was fiercely protective of her family which included Selina and Bliss and the moment Chauncey had told her what Dimitri had done to Selina she knew he would need to leave. Max was back at the mansion with Simon cleaning the crime scene while the party continued and she shook Selina out of her stupor and then had looked over at Bliss and the blood on her hands. It was dark near the lake and the woods and yes the ring could be out here and wiping at her hair seeing the dirt and blood on her hand she looked at Bliss.

“We cannot worry about the ring right now. If it is found we have a simple explanation it slipped off your hand on a walk or a jog you didn’t notice it was gone till later. Hunter will go along with your account.” Jackie said not wanting to put fear into Bliss more than she already felt it was a simple explanation and one she knew Hunter would back especially once he knew the truth. She heard the music in the background and knew the longer they stayed away the more people would talk and or take notice and looking at the lifeless body and then at the dock she steeled her gaze to the other women. “We have to get him to the dock, the boat has an anchor that will weigh him down. I will drive it out and push him over the edge. You three will go back to the party and get presentable. We have to hurry.”

Selina watched each woman grab a limb of Dimitri Kavanaugh her fiance and Bliss ex-husband. Tamara rapist and Jackie’s tormentor. The man had harassed them all deeply and she couldn’t believe this had divulged into this. As they dragged him to the dock. Each of the women dresses were covered in mud. Then she heard the fireworks no doubt Jackson and Dani were leaving now. It was a Devonshire tradition that fireworks happen every wedding and knowing that they were about to get exposed and hearing voices they all moved faster. The rain didn’t stop the show as she looked at them all. They dropped the body on the docks and she heard everyone clapping. No doubt doing their first dance before they leave. It was also a tradition with the Fraisers. She stood back as she watched Jackie start to tie the anchor onto his leg with Tamara help.

“Bliss this isn’t your fault.” She said softly seeing the young woman in a fury over her engagement ring. “Bliss look at me this isn’t your fault. We all made a choice tonight and with Max and Simon help this will be behind us all.” Selina took her in her arms as Bliss cried. “Look at me. It took you a lot of strength to leave your son and to take on this demon. You heard what he did to Tamara right? You choose to lure him here and you were going to kill him alone. Ready to leave your son all over. You made a choice because life is a fight and you fought back. He wasn’t ready for you to fight back honey. He was going to rape Tamara again and he hit me already. So you are not a villain you’re the hero.” Her lips quivered softly as she saw Bliss nodded her head. “It’s almost over.”

Bliss shook her head as she walked over to Dimitri body and kicked it. She knew it was time to throw him in the lake. “How could a man who gave me the greatest love in my life bring me this much pain.” She wanted him to jump up and scare her so she could hit him. She wanted him to move so she could stab him all over. “Hunter is my son’s father and I love him so much but how am I going to be the woman he needs. How? If I’m hiding this?”

Tamara waved the girls over as they all began to their roles as Bliss questioned how they would move on. “I’m not my father’s daughter.” She said flippantly. “He doesn’t know to this day and my mom kept it a secret. Women since the dawn of time have kept secrets from men. Momma’s baby daddy’s maybe. Look it’s what we all have to do. After his body goes into this water we won’t speak of this anymore. We won’t!” She said as she the body fell into the water. They all stood back and watched him sinking into the water.

“Is it over?” She looked at Jackie. “Do we just walk away?” Bliss questioned with a rasp in her voice.

Jackie made quick haste of the work in front of them making sure to help the girls secure his legs with the chains from the anchor. Their DNA would be on it if they ever found it along with the body but it could be easily explained. Lakefront property and a party, Bliss and Selina were regulars at the estate and she could easily add in that she and Lowell had reached out to Tamara over her ordeal. She and Lowell of course owned the boat and it’s contents of course their fingerprints would be on it. She was missing the finer moments of the wedding but she also knew as she started the boat and drove it out to the deeper end where the body wouldn’t be found this was where she needed to be. She watched as they pushed his body into the dark water before turning the boat back to the dock, they arrived just as the music ended and she looked at the other women as she tied the boat back in place.

“It’s over and we will never speak of this again. You will all go back to the mansion Max and Simon will help you all get changed and then burn the clothes. We keep this between us, it’s over he can never hurt anyone ever again. He will never force himself on another woman again, he will never hit one and the world will be a better place for it.” Jackie said feeling her clutch vibrating and looking at a text from Lowell asking where she was. She looked up seeing the limo pulling into the house to take the newlyweds off to their honeymoon and she looked over at the girls. “People are starting to ask where we are. Hurry we can change and clean up and be back at the reception before people start to ask more.”



Jon placed down a box as he looked at his new condo. He had put his house up for sale after the protesters threw a molotov cocktail through his window. A couple of days later his house was on the market and bought by a young couple. It was incredible how a cop with a remarkable record could turn into a public enemy for the Black lives matter movement. As he looked at the table his entire body felt stiff. Time had passed and the blame game was over. He knew he didn’t do anything wrong but seeing the people still protesting, and the political climate. Well he felt his heart swelling and the pain of what his family had been through. TJ’s had lost a significant amount of business from the Scottswood area. Not only that his parents had to rebuild everything. Thank God Teagan Hessington had transferred to Atlas Falls University and helped his parents. He felt like some people had stomped his soul flat and the contempt that they felt for him.

One great thing from killing a known criminal was that it somehow brought Cassie and him together. She was amazing and a rider through these last few months. When he had to move she found their condo. When he felt like he was going through a mental breakdown Cassie loved him through it. Love was keeping him going and not only that but Cassie walking away from her father. He was a nasty ass piece of work and how he talked to Cassie disgusted him. Somehow she walked away from that cushy job at MontCorps. However he was happy and finally in love. Pouring himself a drink he felt ire in the fact the civil trial was coming up. He’d been cleared in the criminal charges and now he was free to be a cop again. He wanted to get back out there and show the world he was good. Hell show his city he was a person they could trust. Grabbing a bottle of scotch sent over by none other than Forbes Montgomery.

Pouring a glass he heard keys in the doorway and smiled. When she walked in he smiled looking like a snack as Devin would say. He smiled walking to her as he wrapped his arms around her waist. “So tell me am I looking at the newest journalist at the Atlas Falls Chronicle. Or are we looking at still diving into my saving which I don’t mind at all by the way. You see coming home to a hot meal and a even hotter girlfriend isn’t that bad.” Touching her long red hair he smiled brightly at her. “It’s almost over and maybe we can go on a trip or something before I start back with the force.”

Cassie was enjoying the last days of solace before she was officially going to work at the Atlas Falls Chronicle and not as a reporter, though that’s what she had officially interviewed for. The owner of the paper Mr. Crenshaw instead let her know this afternoon that his former editor Mr.  Baetz was retiring in a few weeks and he was actually looking for his replacement. She was the final applicant and had left his office with a lucrative job offer and seeing how her savings was dwindling since her father had cut her off she had decided to take the job. Of course that meant talking to Jon about it and as she went into the condo that they now shared she looked at the man that she loved, the man she picked over her family name. Months ago she had been angry at the Devonshire’s for what happened with Philip and she still was but she knew deep down she couldn’t be a part of what her father had planned. So when he had insulted her relationship with Jon after it happened and she chose Jon she was thrust into a new life and the job search the last few months had been long needless to say.

The condo made sense for them both she had resold hers after her father had cut her of to have some in savings and stayed with Jon after. The moment the molotov went through the window though he had listed the house and closed a few days ago. They had shopped for the new condo together she had put down the payment and he had taken a lot of his savings towards the renovations on it and legal costs for his upcoming hearing. A hearing that she knew he would be cleared of any wrongdoing with Kendrick. She put her purse on the entryway table as she looked at the piles of boxes still in the room and a smile came to her face. This was her new normal and she could not be happier with it. To be living with the man she loved and adored and finally out on her own a completely new feeling. She had been so used to her wealth and being a Montgomery so it was nice to have this side now too and she placed her hands over Jon’s a short trip possibly would be nice for them both. Not too long as she was needed at the paper soon and she turned to face him wrapping her hands on the back of his neck.

“No you are looking at the new editor in chief of the Atlas Falls Chronicle all those interviews were not for a reporting job at all. I should have figured it out by the third one. Mr Crenshaw offered me the editor in chief position they’ve been keeping Baetz retirement a secret for a few weeks. Needless to say I told him yes of course provided that it’s alright with you. It means exclusively covering the upcoming hearing and long hours it sounds like. The money is good.” Cassie said looking at him that was her condition and she would tell Mr. Crenshaw her answer after she had the okay from Jon, she would have to be impartial on any articles ran about the hearing even if they were not fair. She did think she could do that people had a right to print what they wanted in the paper it didn’t mean she had to agree with what was printed and she saw his brow furrow at the money comment. He was so old fashioned and she did love that about him. “I want to help out getting things here too and I know you’re more traditional but it will be nice to have my own income again. Let’s face it you can’t keep racking up your credit cards every time I want to go on a shopping trip.”

Jon laughed God did this woman love to shop. He loved how beautiful her clothes looked on her and he loved taking them off even more. Holding her body close to his he smiled at her. “I’m proud of you. I know a lot of trust fund brats, hell I went to school with the Devonshire twins their freshman year. So I know all about how much giving up your heritage and connection to your father hurt. You’ve been through just as much as I have with this Kendrick shooting. You have supported me and I’m going to do any and everything in my power to make it up to you.” Kissing her neck. “And a editor wow you are going to be racking in the big bucks after all that. I will do any and everything to give you what you want. It’s going to be different but I assure you that you won’t be unhappy Cassandra.” Kissing her shoulder again with his lips pressing

Swiftly removing her shirt he gently unbuttoned every button. Letting the silk fall off her porcelain skin. He unfastened her bra and began to feast on her breast, like a newborn hungry for more. Jon loved the way she tasted and smelled no matter what time of the day she tasted sweet. Laying her back on the couch he hiked up Cassie’s skirt. She was a piece of his sanity after all the bullshit with Kendrick, he knew he had someone on his side. She’d opened up so much to him about her mother’s death and he fought back all the demons inside of him. Them making love was a way to show her how much he appreciated everything. Kissing her belly his head slithered down and eventually settled between her thighs. Diving his head in the warm middle he began to feast on her.

Cassie knew that what she had with Jon was very different than what she had with Thor they had never really lived together, his lifestyle was far to dangerous for that. As for being with Jon and not abandoning him during the shooting and the fallout, she knew that at the heart of the matter was that Kendrick was a monster in that moment and Jon was doing what was right. She wasn’t going to shed tears over the man and she did believe that Jon would do his best to make her the happiest woman in the world. For now that was important to her especially since she had turned her back on her father and she nodded her head at him as he kissed her shoulder and led her to the couch. She watched him remove her shirt button by button, his fingers lightly grazing her skin and she felt the goosebumps form and she wondering if that would ever go away, she hoped not his mouth went to her breasts and she could swear her entire body started to hum..

She watched him travel down and hike her skirt and she couldn’t help the smile that formed when she felt his breath against her soft folds and then the deep moan that came out when his tongue entered her. She threw her head back her eyes hooded as he slowly began to torture her with his mouth, feeling his hands gripping her hips and she arched her back desperate for more. Her hands went to his hair fisting the ends and tugging wondering where he got his stamina from half the time. She supposed it was because he hadn’t gone back to work yet and she let out another moan when she felt him add two fingers as well. “Jon.” She moaned her breath catching in her throat at the sensation not sure what else she was supposed to say or even if she could say anything at the moment, she was too caught up in him feasting on her. Instead the incoherent ramblings turned into her pleading as her eyes met his “Jon more please, more.”

Jon lapped up her sweet juices and let his tongue twirl inside of her. He slurped and sucked with fever. He couldn’t express how tasty she was as he truly went to town. Seeing her squirm underneath the weight of his tongue made him feel like a God among men. He’d always heard he had a silver tongue but this was exactly what he needed. He needed to relax with the woman he loved more than life itself. As he ran his hands up her sides to control her bucking hips as he slurped up. Unbuckling his belt he instantly crawled on top of Cassie and diving deeply inside of her.  As he pressed his head down kissing her neck and licking her earlobe. He slowly kissed her lips passionately with a moan escaping his mouth.

Jon started to move deeper inside of her as he began to throw his hips in a slow motion. As her moans began to accelerate he exhaled and started thrusting in a quicker speed. As he picked her off the couch and held her in his arms. The breathing was intense and how her eyes were focused on pleasure. He bounced her on his rock hard cock as he growled looking in her eyes. Wondering if Cassie would love to have his first born. He wanted a child with her so badly to complete the life they were having. Hell he was ready to marry her already but Cassie wasn’t ready for that yet. “God you’re so tight.” He growled looking into her eyes.

Cassie could barely contain herself when Jon continued one of the things he wasn’t lacking was how to please her. It was something over the months they had been moving forward she has come to appreciate in him. When he finally stopped long enough to unbutton this pants she couldn’t help the wicked grin on her face looking at every glorious inch. She spread her legs in anticipation and the moment of impact never got old as she moaned into his ear feeling him glide into her channel. She’d fucked a lot of men in her life but she’d hardly ever made love to any of them, she for sure knew it was love when she and Jon fucked. It was passionate and caring and afterwards she felt an ease with it, that this was the life she wanted or at least she felt that way in these moments. His pants around his thighs, her skirt hiked on the couch. It was perfect and at the same time scandalous and she threw her hips eagerly into his own needing this with him.

She couldn’t escape the moans that came out at the sensation of him going in and out hitting her in all the right places, his hands on her body. His mouth on her skin as it traveled from her shoulder to her neck and ear before she kissed him back while he increased his thrusts. When he picked her up and switched the position for them changing the depth and angle for her and she couldn’t help but moan and throw her head back at the sensation. She wrapped her hands around his neck smiling at him when he spoke before leaning in and kissing his lips. “God.” She managed to whisper against his lips while he continued to move and she felt her body starting to clench. Even if she wanted too she wasn’t sure she was going to make any longer and she let out a gasp as the tidal wave came over her while she bit her lip at the scream that followed wondering if the neighbors were listening to them or not. “Jon.”

Jon let out a loud growl as he started to moan his legs began to quiver until he let out a powerful growl. It was electric as he felt himself releasing a powerful nut and her tightness wrapping around him. How couldn’t he do it? How couldn’t he just release inside of her hotness? Jon had been wondering if she was taking her pill regularly after they had that scare a few weeks back. Which wasn’t a problem for him but Cassie seemed to freak out about the prospect of having a child. He was ready honestly but he also knew she was feared her father’s judgement. He wasn’t exactly the stock of man that he saw Cassie with. As much as she wanted her independence his hold over Cassie wasn’t done, she wasn’t free quite yet.

As he sat down with her in front of the fireplace he clicked it on. Then grabbed a blanket wrapping it around them both. Not wanting to get in clothes nor let her go. “That was amazing.” He kissed her lips playfully. “I think we should order pizza and pop that bottle of wine my parents gave us.” He said kissing her neck. “If I can suggest something a story on how an amazing cop is being railroaded because of idiot cops out there. I’m not a bad guy and I want everyone to know my side of the story right along with the sympathy of Kendrick. I want people to see I’m just like them. I’m not a racist and I’m not a bad guy.”

Cassie let her breath catch up to her as he finally released inside of her and she kissed him reassuring him that everything was alright. The scare a few weeks ago was just that a scare with stress that set things back a few days. She smiled as he turned on the fireplace and they settled in on the floor. “It was. I do hope the neighbors weren’t too bothered. Then again I’m not sure I would really care if they were either.” She said laughing at him and nodding her head at the wine and pizza offer. She was not in the mood to cook now and it wasn’t like she was a good one anyway. She grabbed the blanket around her going to the kitchen and grabbing two wine glasses, the bottle and her phone. Placing the pizza order as she sat back down.

“I don’t think you are a bad guy Jon and nore does half of Atlas Falls even better I’d say seventy percent. What matters is that you know what you did, there are a ton of witnesses to Kendrick’s actions that night and before to attest to his character as having changed for the worst. Your character Jon has never been in question why would it be?” Cassie said pouring the win and passing him a glass wanting to ease his mind about everything. She believed everything that she had said his character was beyond reproach according to her and others. “Soon this whole civil trial will be over and you can move on and be reinstated. Plus from what you have said Mason has made an amazing case for you trust him.”

Jon listened to her speak the truth. Kendrick had been out of control and nearly let Yasmine be raped. It wasn’t something he could shake and that image of her crawling to get away. Then  him shooting that man well he’d do the same thing. Rapist and molesters were high on his list of people he’d kill if he could. Then the man kidnapped Yasmine and Dani who is still very pregnant. Shooting Kendrick was a clean kill but with the media and the spin Elliot was giving he was unsure how the civil trial would go. “You know you’re smart cookie?” He said smiling brightly as he kissed her shoulder. “And we have about a hour before Giadorno Pizza arrives so let’s not think about that. Let’s sit and drink our wine and make love again.” Jon smirked playfully as he rolled on top of Cassie with a bright smile on his face. “I love you and I know I pushed you into finding out what you wanted with me. I’m just grateful that you see that this is where you want to be. I’ll never hurt you. You’ll never be alone and you’ll always have a home with me and the Harrison’s. Even though Miranda still thinks you’re a snob.” He laughed as she rolled her beautiful green eyes. “I love you more than I think I’ve ever loved anything. Except a kid and you know I’m a little jealous of Miranda and Dani. They have a family and I want nothing more than a family of my own.”


Max rolled her hips on his body the sun from the windows shining down on her blinding her eyes in this case being the solace she needed. She has put the last three months behind her, put the images of blood and carnage in be past where they belonged. True to his word her daddy had made sure the police hadn’t charged any of them with shooting Philip and it only drove her more her mouth fell open feeling his hands on her. Throwing her head backs she exhaled a moan as her body shook the organum joint her back to reality as she smiled down at her new lover. Leaning down she kissed Sebastian while he continued to love inside of her, her chest heaving when her lips finally parted with his and she caught her breath. Spain was exactly what she had needed to escape the drama of home and he was the perfect man to do it with. The sex between them was amazing and she knew coming to Spain with her brother all those months ago had been worth it.

She laid there for a moment taking in everything that had happened she was still running her part of DGI from Spain conference calls in when she had to be at meetings. She had simply told her parents she needed the time away and they had obliged with everything with Philip. She had med Sebastian on a winery tour and needless to say sparks had flew between them and they were in bed hours later and since then they had embarked on a needed fling for her. She still kept up on everything back at home even gave Bliss and Hunter her official blessing to move forward as a couple and knew she would have to return to Atlas Falls soon, rumor was Dimitri was coming and she had an obligation to her new nephew to ensure he stayed. When that happened she knew it would be time to call her life in Spain over at least for a little while. When she felt him rubbing her back she rolled off him, intimacy was not something she was looking for with him at the moment and she looked up at the ceiling.

“We really should close those windows more often. People walking or trespassing on your private beach could take a gander in.” Max said smiling over at him while she looked out the window. Another perk to fucking a man like Sebastian Navarro was the money he had his own, meaning she knew he wasn’t with her for her fortune. She had always been particular about that she knew better than to get caught up with a gold digger. Not that Hunter was and Philip certainly wasn’t, she still only knew he owned many wineries but she was smart enough to not ask about the rest of his wealth. “I will hate to cut our time away when I return to the states. We have a huge meeting coming up at DGI and I do think my father will want me at home this time for it instead of calling in. You could join me you know if you wanted. I know we haven’t really talking about it that much but I think my parents would approve of you.”

Sebastian smirked as he rolled out of bed grabbing his robe and shutting the blinds as he wrapped his arms around Max waist. Meeting her was a unexpected perk of something he didn’t want. He didn’t want to harbor all these feelings for her. What had started off as a summer fling, was now something he needed. Her body was infectious as he slowly started to feel more for her every day they spent together. Max had a very icy presence but that wasn’t who she truly was. She wanted to be loved but found it hard. Growing up with his mother he saw the power in women. It was something he respected immensely about Max. She was fierce in the boardroom and bedroom. As he nibbled on her neck his mind drifted to Atlas Falls. Going there wasn’t something he was looking forward too. After all once there the summer fling would be over and his true motivations for that town would begin. Max wasn’t in the plans but now that they were lovers he knew he’d make sure she was somehow involved.

As he stirred out of his very own thoughts. Seb froze a little and turned her around. She wouldn’t look into his eyes. “If you think that we should spend more time together then I agree.” He touched her blond hair. “I need a shower and I need you in it.” Smiling he walked to his cellphone and pulled it off the charger. “Hello, this is Sebastian Navarro I need my private jet fueled and ready to leave. Let them know we are going to America. Atlas Falls, Pennsylvania. I have to deliver a princess to her kingdom. Thank-you please have the caviar and champagne on ice. Yes and I’m sure I want to go to Atlas Falls, Raul please just have the jet stocked and fueled.” Hanging up the phone he dialed another number. “I’m leaving for America just for a short period. Hopefully I can convince someone to come back to Spain with me.” Seb laughed and finally hung up. “Well I’ve taken care of all my business here and I’m all yours. Now I want to get you in that shower.” Just as Max phone rang. “I’ll be waiting my dear come in when you’ve handled all your business.”

Max was content to stay where they were in their own little world and fling while the rest of the world went on with their lives. She could run her part of DGI from Spain but she also knew that eventually it would come back to her she would have to face home.  She had wanted to join him in the shower only for her phone to ring and looking at the number a small sense of dread She waited till Sebastian was out of earshot and into the bathroom while it continued to buzz and she slid her thumb to the home screen to unlock it. They hadn’t spoken since the hospital when Forbes had choked the almost life out of her, she hadn’t been there when he woke up. She hadn’t gotten to tell him to his face how sorry he was for all of it. She did know that the surgery was a success he was alive and according to Simon and her father’s team he was now wheelchair bound meaning his paralysis was her fault. She cleared her throat.

“Philip how did you get this number?” She asked she had changed it right after the incident with Forbes and when she and Jackson had went to Spain her for a business meeting and for her brother to check into rehab. She didn’t want to deal with whatever Forbes was going to do in fact she expected more from her father’s arch rival since he arrived in town. Only those weeks had been met with silence so it wouldn’t surprise her if he was planning something and waiting for the right moment. She wasn’t sure what made her more uneasy the waiting or the not knowing, she cleared her throat when she was meant with silence on his end. “I mean it how did you get this number we don’t have anything to say to each other. Your father made that perfectly clear that day in the hospital.”

“How’s Barcelona you bitch?” Philip said looking out the window in his room. Moving into the mansion after the shooting made him feel like a invalid. Gritting his teeth he couldn’t feel his chest heaving up and down. He felt so many different emotions running through him. He was excited to hear her voice after months of not hearing from her. Enraged for her leaving him to be a paralyzed nothing. Fury because he didn’t know how badly he was hurt by her abandoning him. The last was a sick sense of obligation. He was obligated to rip her life apart and get the revenge that he wanted. He wanted so badly to tell her he was going to ruin her. He however had to have her mind on something completely else. Something he’d never be able to move away from. The night that Max got him shot and paralyzed.

“Please don’t tell me you listened to my father? I always thought you were much more feral than that. You know it’s been so long that I’m poisoned to think about you in a negative way. I heard that you had to come soon so I thought it was best that I call you and let you know. I won’t be silenced much longer and I won’t be a pushover. I’m being pushed that’s enough. What I want is simple 12.5 percent of your share of DGI and if I don’t have it Maximilla I’m going to throw Bliss, Hunter, and you in jail. I’ll remember every moment of my shooting and it won’t be so blurry all of the sudden. Can’t you see it the Devonshire Sister’s the new Mendez Brothers. My sister just got a job at a newspaper I’m sure she’d love to expose this to the media and world. Now 12.5 goes for Bliss too and yes I’m smart with math. That give me 25 percent of DGI stock.”

Max was furious was an understatement as he spoke that was essentially her share of the company and at least five percent of her sisters and she snarled. So far the police couldn’t prove jack shit about the shooting the gun had mysteriously went missing and she was sure that Simon had made sure of that or at the very least erased things so they couldn’t be traced to them. She was not going to give up DGI to him of all people that was her legacy her and her siblings, along with Maddie and Fox. No one else was a part of that right now her mother had shares but she would die before she would let Forbes Montgomery’s son into the company. Her father would kill her if she let that happen and yes Hunter was Bliss now and she was alright with that but she knew he was still expendable to the company as well. He had a lot of nerve calling her let along asking for the shares of her legacy how would he like it if the roles were reversed? She wanted to rewind time to where she never confronted him that day but she knew that wasn’t possible.

“It’s a little hard not listen to the man as he was choking me out against the wall and you were lying there drugged up as your sister stared at me like I was trash. It’s the last time he’ll ever put his hands on me, he’s lucky I just left town and didn’t tell anyone about it except my brother. My father would have had him put away or worse. You wouldn’t of wanted that would you who would help push you in your chair then? Last I heard Cassie isn’t there to do it.” Max bit out instantly regretting the words that was probably low even for her that was one bit of information over the last few months that shocked her. Cassie and Philip were thick as thieves they only had each other growing up but she heard that Cassie turned her back on Forbes and things had gone downhill for her and Philip because of it too. She had thought Cassie didn’t care that her father had almost killed her and maybe she was wrong. She heard the bathroom water running and decided to play his little mind game. “Barcelona is great but I bet you already knew that I met someone Philip. Whatever this was between us is over and you’ll never and I mean never get a part of DGI.”

“You still seem to think that you have power huh? Max you let the man who shot me into my apartment. You then lied to the police after the said man shot me. Finally you three have been carrying this secret like a Birkin bag. I’m telling you that if I don’t get twelve percent I’m sending you to jail. All three of you and that messy triangle last year will look even more of a mess. My feeling in my legs was taken away from me. It took awhile before I could even talk anyone. Do you know how betrayed I felt? The woman who everyone in my family told me not to fall for betrayed me. I guess I should have known better it’s just what a Devonshire does. You take from people and you think that I’m going to just sit here in this fucking chair and not get something? Oh Max you know me better than that. I stalked Scarlett until that bitch went crazier and I’ll do whatever I can to destroy you. You know what I am capable of and I’ll make sure you face the guillotine.” Crack his neck his lip quivered in anger how could she be so bold? It was her fault that he was in a wheelchair in the first place.

“Maybe I should call Devin and Miranda and tell I remember everything that happened that night. I’ve spun the narrative that I can’t remember a thing. Now it’s time for my memory to return and there is nothing Lowell can do about it. Nothing because for once he can’t bury this. I’m living proof of how vile his daughters are. I’m living proof that if you don’t  do what I want, Max I’m going to ruin your life. I’m going to make every moment scary because no matter who you are with. Nobody can protect you from the truth. I’m going to expose you three unless I get 12.5 percent of you and Bliss stock. Oh and Hunter’s inheritance the rumor is Steven left his children everything. I want twenty million oh that’s the exact amount that each Kincaid got? Wow that’s irony that I want his full inheritance. The happy couple will be getting a surprise also from me to them. Do you know Bliss is officially divorced now? Well I hear the royals love to say goodbye up close and personal.” Pausing letting his words sink in her mind. Dimitri was coming and he and his father arranged for it. “You have one week to figure out how I’ll get those stock and percentage of DGI or else I’ll reign down on you like you’ve never and I mean never seen before.” Philip hung up his phone.

As he looked outside he felt his eyes sting from fury and pain. He’d never been betrayed like this. He’d never felt like this. The woman he loved just moved on and just took another man. Philip felt the sting that his father basically scared Max away from him. Was Cassie right to move away from him? Hell where would Max be if his dad just showed some type of class. He was barbaric but he was enraged no matter what, Max left him. She was who he wanted revenge on and that was going to happen one way or another. He weakly moved his foot as he looked down a smile etched on his cold face. “They say I’m looking like you more and more old man. Well I’m proud of that when it comes to this.”

Sebastian stood in the doorway watching Max shaking like a leaf. As he walked up to her he touched her shoulders. She was jumpy like when he first found her. “Hey let’s take the shower and we are going to Atlas Falls. Whatever it is we will face it together. Huh? So about our shower beautiful. I think the water is cold now.” He touched her face. “Who was it? It was him wasn’t it?”

Max didn’t know why she was shaking when she hung up the phone it felt like she should be over this with Philip, that he shouldn’t affect her in this way months later. What happened was an accident and then Bliss had made up the lie that had then grown, a lie that they couldn’t take back now. When Sebastian had finally approached her she nodded her head at him a shower to take her mind off the awful call would be the best for all of them. She could wash her troubles away with Philip Montgomery and then head home where she knew that her father would never let anything happen to her or Bliss.

“Yes lets enjoy that shower and then it’s time that I head home.” Max said looking up at him before turning around kissing him and placing the phone down by the bed as she made her way into the bathroom.

“Vamos. Estoy seguro de que podemos calentar la ducha una vez más.” Sebastian said as he scooped her in his arms. “Together Maximilla we will conquer Atlas Falls. However I won’t let him take you from me or your family. That’s is my word. We leave soon but now we make love and plot. Plot on how to make sure Philip never gets a chance.” Sebastian said as he walked her into the bathroom using his foot to close the door.


Zerick took off his coat jacket hanging it on the rack inside by the door finally out of the office with his brothers and sister. He was ready to come home to the silence of his condo a compromise since his divorce from Greer. It had taken everything in him to stay at DGI and play Forbes games longer, especially with Greer now being executive at the company worse was when Lowell had almost gotten the truth. He covered enough with Forbes offering him a lucrative deal at Montcorp as an executive in which Lowell countered and he agreed to stay on at DGI. His father didn’t know the truth yet and he wondered how long it was before Forbes plans would begin to take place honestly he was getting impatient being the waiting whipping boy. It was well played and after months of worrying if what happened to Gideon and Rachel would ever be traced back to him, he was confident now that it was over. The official ruling was carbon monoxide poisoning and he didn’t ask how or who Forbes had to pay off to make that official.

The other part of it all was bothering him the most Talia knew who he was and yet she had yet to say or do anything towards him or Lowell on it. Perhaps she was still playing the dumb secretary and assistant that she had been turned public relations manager at DGI. The only thing he did know was that when he passed her the note at work to meet him tonight at his condo he hoped she followed through. He still remembered that night months ago when she had learned the truth and how she begged him to let go of the hate, he hadn’t done that yet let it go he probably never would but he hadn’t acted on it yet either. He supposed that was why he had contained himself until now he wanted Talia. Wanted her in his bed and he no reason to say no to her any longer as he was no longer tied to Greer and he had taken a backseat to what Forbes was planning. He didn’t even know the next move and he wondered if Talia could ever look at him different, when he heard the soft knock on the door he opened it ecstatic to see her there. He pulled her inside and then gently pushed her against the closed door.

“I am so glad you decided to come. We’ve been dancing around this long enough wouldn’t you agree?” He didn’t wait for a response as he pressed his lips to hers and felt her return the gesture and that was all it took for him. He was going to have her right there against the door, the neighbors could hear her scream he’d been thinking about it for over a damn year and the way she was kissing him, he knew she had been thinking about it too. His hands made quick work as they traveled down her body undoing that pantsuit jacket and rubbing this thumbs over her nipples breaking apart from her he watched her reaction the pleasure she was feeling. “You want this too or you wouldn’t be here.” He finished leaning into her neck and marking it with his lips feeling her rubbing him through his pants he panted.

They’d always had a magnetic heat between them and this was no different. When he slid her the note she wasn’t sure she’d attend his little sneak attack yet here she was. Here she was being kissed and touched all over. She should have told Lowell who he was by now but Simon and her had a plan. A plan to finally unravel all these lies and secrets. If Lowell was a rapist as Zerick had said then he needed to be exposed. With the times changing and powerful men like Harvey Weinstein falling from grace, her boss was no different. As she slowly rubbed his thick buldge through his pants she pushed him off of her. Gasping for air she turned away feeling sick to her stomach. She was going to damage a entire family and him soon.

Slowly catching her breath she shook her head. Knowing what she doing was wrong but her mind couldn’t stop her body. “What the hell.” She rushed to him jumping into his arms. As she wraps her legs around him sliding her tongue down his throat. “Make love to me Zerick. Make me feel like I don’t care but afterwards. It’s over okay? It’s done and I’m done with you because I can’t do this. I can’t live in secrets and lies. I hope you understand because I just need one night. One night where I feel like I’ve gotten the happy ending you know? I am in peace with every move I’ll make won’t feel like you are hating me or I’m betraying the family that gave me everything.”

Zerick was happy to oblige her in every way possible now yes she knew the truth about everything well part of the truth and yet she hadn’t exposed him yet. Greer was off doing God knows what and he was alright with that she was the distraction and she got what needed to be done with Cadamus for him.She was at DGI still but he honestly had no idea what she was up to now with everything that was no this a part of the game any longer Forbes had made that clear. His part now as striking and growing close to Lowell and the rest of his siblings they would let the truth out when the time was right and Forbes assured him the time was not right yet. The only thing that had been the calming factor in the emotions he felt at the office everyday looking at Lowell was Talia. He was no longer a married man he didn’t want to shame her with that like he had others and now that it was final they could explore whatever this was between them perhaps not the complete right way but she wouldn’t be labeled like he knew women would with her. He carried her in his arms to the door letting go of her long enough to work the buttons on her shirt open letting it flutter to the ground beside them.

“I’ve waited a long time to finally do this with you Talia after tonight we can take this whatever way you see fit.” Zerick said he wouldn’t like about that with her he did want to be with her that was his goal and afterwards he couldn’t promise her that he wasn’t still going to go after Lowell. That a part of him hated Lowell and always would. He pressed a kiss to her shoulder blade before going to the next one and doing the same and then he lowered his head to her bra teasing her nipples with his mouth through her lace bra watching them peak to a point and then looking at the satisfied smile on her face. “I can’t promise you more Talia and I won’t force you into that position either.” He didn’t say anything else to her as his hands snaked around to the clasp on her bra letting it fall off her shoulders and then leaned in and began to suckle on each other bringing her nipples to an erect peak while his hands raked up and down her thighs before slipping two fingers inside of her heat to go along with his mouth.

He was all over her before she could change her mind. It was like there bodies were instantly connected in a way she’d never known before. It was crazy because as his lips touched her skin she hissed at the pleasure she felt. If he just let her love him the way he deserved. So much of her felt like liar and like she was betraying what her and Simon plan was. They knew what they had to do but it wouldn’t be easy. Not for him or her but the more he touched her the more she felt in her zone. Her body hadn’t been touched like this in a long time and he reminded her of what she had missed. She wasn’t afraid of the bullshit that was about to bestow on the Devonshire’s but she was afraid of what he would think of her. If he figured out she was going to expose him. It was what had to be done because the longer he slithered inside of DGI the more they all would be in danger. He was in bed with Forbes and Zerick had to go. He had to go because even if Lowell was a rapist DGI meant to much too many different people. It was a job for millions and she wasn’t going to let Forbes or Zerick stop that.

As she moaned she threw her dark chocolate hair back. As she unfastened her pants letting them fall to the floor she slowly strutted into his bedroom. She was pleasantly surprised that he was neat as she thought he would be. It was electrifying crawling in his bed something she’d dreamed about plenty of times. Late at night she sometimes even touched herself as she laid in bed Talia knew it wasn’t anymore going back. She also knew this could be the biggest mistake, sex could lead to even deeper feelings. Something she wasn’t sure she needed when she was planning on exposing the man she loved. Secrets that up until this point had been safe with her. “Don’t hurt me.” She whispered sensually as she felt him lowering his body on top of hers. She was so scared that tonight would open a door that she’d never be able to close.

Zerick was too lost in kissing and pleasing her something he had been thinking about for over a year when she moved them to his bed. He couldn’t help the way his heart raced just a little when she said that she had been thinking of him that way as well. He watched her get on the bed while he made sure that he had a condom on him they could discuss the rest later if this became a regular thing but he knew that he wanted to make sure she felt comfortable. He wasn’t asking her from some huge commitment of monogamy just this one night where they could finally explore what was going on between them. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt letting it fall to the floor before doing the same with his boxers and his pants. Crawling on top of her he opened the condom watching her face and leaned down kissing her to reassure her.

“I won’t try to or will I intend to Talia but for tonight can we just have this?” Zerick asked when he broke away from her lips and slid his hand between her legs watching her spread them. He took a breath welcoming the invitation and when she didn’t object he rammed into her head watching her throw her head back and moan. He groaned as she tightened around him and he knew she’d feel even better if there was nothing between them. He pulled out and then slammed back in hitting that spot at just the right amount of pressure his lips going to her neck. His hand went to her nipple teasing it while he increased his tempo, he watched her face for reactions to everything. “Jesus you feel so good. Tell me what you need Talia, I will make you not feel anything at all but this.” He said groaning at the sensations.

Talia’s body tingled with a sensation as he kissed her breathlessly. She had no choice but to submit because she wanted it just as badly as him. It had been a year worth of stares, kisses, and touches. There hand would touch at the copy machine in the office and her entire body would shiver. How could she not break finally and give in? They’d been in this game for a year and finally she had enough. She had to have him darkness or not. She saw a lot of pain in his eyes but right now he was hungry like a wolf for her. When he pulled off his boxer her eyes grew big with excitement and he had that something she couldn’t quite resist. When he entered her Talia exhaled with pleasurable moan escaping her lips. He didn’t have to say anything because their bodies were connecting intensely. She grabbed the silk sheets and cried out as she tightened herself around her girth.

“Shut your mouth and fuck me!” She purred sensually as the room seemed to be turning all around. Talia knew this wouldn’t be the last time they would be engaged just from the first moments. Leaning her head up she slithered her tongue inside of mouth. Swapping a intense kisses between moans and hearing him grunt made her gasp. She could feel the waves of pleasure rolling through her body. Clawing his back she ran her nails down as she tried to slow him but he was just as lost as her. Somehow she was going to fix all of this and when she was done they could be together. They would be together because she’d do anything to make it happen. One thing for certain they both were feeling each other was it love? Or was this just infatuation taken to another level? “Yes right there.” She moaned out knowing she wanted to ride soon. “Please let me show you how ahhh.” She couldn’t complete a sentence. Placing her hands on his chest she pushed him back making him stop. She rolled on top of him and sat down on his stiffness. As she bounced her ass up and down making him moan louder.

Zerick had wanted to drive her to the brink and her pleading with him had only confirmed that for him as he pounded into her relentlessly. Her hands snaking down his back, digging into his flesh something inside of him snapped. He went harder and wasn’t sure he was being gentle anymore with her when he did, he was broken out of it when she put her hands on his chest and pushed him backwards and he looked up at her. She was majestic in that moment and he laid back on the bed when she slid back onto him bucking his hips upwards to her. She certainly knew what she was doing and he couldn’t contain the moan that came out while he tried to drill into her hotness, while she tightened around him like a vice. Looking up at her he knew he wouldn’t want to stop after this even if he had too he wasn’t sure he could.

“Jesus.” He managed to get out his left hand going to her hip to gold her in place while she rode in and his right hand went back to her nipples playing with them, watching them peak while she moaned. He wasn’t sure how much long erh could last and sat up slightly on the bed moving his head to her nipples where his tongue flicked and sucked and then he felt himself swelling right as she started to shiver. Hearing her moan as she came he growled releasing into the condom, jerking up into her wanting to be free of the plastic between them. He kept jerking as he shook and he let her ride out her orgasm while he shrunk, eventually he pulled out when he was sure she was exhausted. “That was well worth the wait. Are you alright?” He asked softly looking down at her.

She rode him until her body began to buck wildly. It was as if she wasn’t there anymore because the pleasure waved over her. She couldn’t breathe and all the sudden she started to scream out. Falling on top of him she didn’t let him pull out she just laid there until he pulled out. Once her breathing calmed she touched his chest and nodded her head. Wondering exactly what the hell she was going to do. She had just made love to her dream man. A man who would love her and give her everything she wanted. Ever since Braden jilted her for Selina she hadn’t felt like the woman she once was. She truly wanted that type of love but hell they didn’t survive either so she wasn’t so sure of that. All love died she saw it withering away around her. The smell of his cologne snapped her out of her thoughts right along with him asking if she was alright. Was she alright because she wasn’t sure she could hurt him. He’d been through enough.

“Can we discuss the elephant in the room. Your father?” She said softly looking in his eyes. “Tell him Zerick because if you don’t you’ll have no control over how this comes out. I never took you for a weak man. I never saw that in you but Forbes Montgomery is a snake and he’ll bite you. Without a second thought and if you trust him that’s allegiances I have no idea of but I think you see. You see that he isn’t to be trusted because no matter what past you two have you’re a Devonshire. A Devonshire heir who he’s controlling but I won’t push. I won’t push anymore but I care about you and this isn’t healthy all the games and lies.” She touched his face. “I have fallen and I’m scared that I don’t know who I truly love.”

Father her words froze him he’d never considered Lowell that to him the man that conceived him was a monster. He stiffened from her pulling away he was not a father to him, he would never be a father to him. If only his other stupid siblings knew the truth that he had raped a woman to get what he wanted how much of a monster their dear father was. He didn’t want to think about telling Lowell not yet at least he refused to, he would tell him when the time was right to strike when he had taken everything from him just like he took everything from his mother. He couldn’t do what she asked yet and if she was wise she wouldn’t push it further. Forbes had been his mentor for years a father when Lowell refused to be or so he was told growing up, the way they all shamed his mother for daring to try and tell him what happened. He shook his head.

“Don’t call him that Talia, he’s nothing to me but a monster. I have to go make a call.” He said grabbing his pants from the bed and putting them on. Grabbing his phone he walked to the office area in the condo shutting the door behind him placing distance between them as he closed his eyes suppressing the emotions he felt towards Lowell and his family before dialing a number. “This is Zerick Westwood calling for Katie Davis, I’ll wait.”

Talia grabbed her dress and quickly slipped it on as she snatched her purse. Grabbing her pumps she rushed out of the door. What had she done? Talia held her purse tightly and started to run down the hallway. Time was up and she knew that Zerick would keep this game going. Opening her bag her hand shook a little. As she dialed up her best friend number. When he didn’t answer she figured he was with some hot beefcake. She loved Simon was exploring his verse side now. Walking on the elevator she spoke into the answering machine. “Simon were on it’s time to expose this secret now.” As the doors closed she narrowed her eyes knowing this had just became much more complex. They both basically admitted they were in love and how was she going to bury Zerick now?


“And one and two hit it hard girls!” Yasmine yelled as the young women and men in her class moved with the precision. Seeing her choreography coming to life was something she couldn’t get over. It felt like magic seeing all the visions in her mind coming to life. The Kohl Studio had been opened ever since she got that grant from MontCorp. Money kept coming in after Forbes Montgomery came in and visited. He wrote two more checks and they had expanded with couches, refrigerators, office furniture, and so much more. As all the kids burst out in cheers as they hit her last eight-count. She cheered with them as she clapped her hands together with them. Flipping her hair she looked around at them freestyling. “Keep up now!” As they rhythmically clapped on beat. She faintly heard some Drake song in the background but seeing them all dancing gave her life.

Yasmine turned around and rolled her hips before bursting into a Chicago style footwork. Leaning up she did a Michael Jackson-esque ballet move standing on the tips on her feet. She then did the milly-rock and then a little girl name Starr burst up between her. She did a couple of nasty twerk moves. Yasmine duplicated and then grabbed her leg bouncing into a split. Everyone screamed wildly as she started to duck-walk which started in the vogue scene. Then Marques who was boldly gay dipped right in front of her into a death drop. She laughed her student’s were really trying to come at her. She whipped her hair and began to catwalk down as she looked back she did a backflip into a death drop. Before anyone of her other students tried it she began to do ballet as the beat dropped on cue. Twirling majestically she felt like she was in her element. They all clapped and she was lost in the music she kept dancing until everyone was hyped up and screaming. Dropping to her knees Yasmine looked up and saw them clapping and cheering. She could barely breath but she was ready for more. Until she saw him.

His skin was chocolate and his twist were tight in his head. He looked like a golden God much like his brother and not at all. That was because Ms. Dinah had two different daddies but his smile made her smile. Damn he was the sexiest and she just wanted to jump in his arms. “Go get some water and chill and no trouble or else ya’ll aint dancing in here.” They all laughed grabbing their bags and water bottles. She hugged Marques and then whispered in Starr ear to try a new dance she’s more than a big butt. Slapping her on the butt Starr and Marques laughed and walked out together. Walking up to Khalil she ran into his arms and kissed him playfully. He smelled like cologne and that natural male sweat that was so sexy. He must have just got of  basketball practice. “What’s up baby I am closing now and I’m sorry they are so good. I mean they give me life. Seriously Starr is this talented little spitfire and Marques is delicious queen in the making. He’s so vicious with his words but underneath that bravado he’s searching for something. Starr is so much more than what those men out there catcall she’s talented and they all are and I just want to help them all Khalil. They are so special and I wish something like this was here when we was younger. God knows it would have helped us all.” Flipping her long hair she looked at him when he was smiling at her. “Okay you clearly have something to say so what?”

Khalil’s life he felt hand changed so much since all those months ago he had finally had his tryouts with the team and made it including singing a hefy contract to start at left guard for the season. He had finally been able to move his mother officially out of the neighborhood and had been able to continue on with that his brother had done with the community. It was odd in a way the new life that had taken over for him, the pride he felt continuing on with his brother’s work. Work that had a dark cloud over it due to his connection with the mob and the dirty money with the death and the drugs. He’s also had a sense of guilt ever since that riot all those months ago, a riot that took out so many businesses downtown a riot that had crashed over to where his younger siblings went to school. Police relations had not gotten better since then if anything there was more distrust that had happened between the community. The worst part was when the police investigation to his brother’s shooting had sided with Jon that was when his mother’s grief had become too much and he fronted the money for the civil trial. A trial that was soon to be over or so he hoped they were just waiting for the date to arrive.

He shook his head as he watched the girl he adored and had grew up loving dance on the floor he had been there the night she called him after breaking up with Rory. They had talked for hours and soon afterwards while she was getting the studio ready to open after she had gotten the grant they were back in old habits. She was back in his bed and they were a couple again, a couple in a new and different way a couple that could make changes. They were helping the community together and he admired her drive to give back with the free classes she was giving along with the ones she was charging and seeing her in her element always brought a smile to his face. They also had an unspoken rule between them they wouldn’t discuss the upcoming trial to after it was over she was a witness in the civil case it was already suspect that they were together because of it. He knew he smelled like sweat and the court he had come to the studio right after practice to tell her that Elliot had wanted to see her, the lawyer he hired wanted to go over her testimony again before court. He nodded his head as the dancers left and wrapped his arms around her returning the kiss to the adoring students delights.

“Elliot called he told me that you haven’t been returning his calls so he wanted me to come and tell you he put you down for a meeting with him this week. He wants to go over your testimony again to make sure all his bases are covered.” Khalil said seeing her face scrunch up a bit and this was why they didn’t talk about the case personally. His brother had did some heinous shit to her that night but Jon had still shot his brother, his brother was not armed at the time. He felt terrible for her and that lady that was pregnant but his brother was dead because of it. He rubbed her back following that dreaded news with some better news. “I got us tickets to that fancy ballet that you love I wanted to surprise you since we never really celebrated milestones before. It’s fancy dress and everything we could even pose for the cameras the press has been all over us with you opening the studio and my signing I figured it would be a nice break for us both.”

“Because I don’t want to talk to Elliot.” She said honestly sitting down. “It’s been plenty of crooked cops out there Khalil but this guy fought to save Dani and I. To be honest I don’t see what he did wrong but kill someone this community care about. A community that’s already falling apart. So I guess what I’m saying is why are you and Dinah suing this man? Kendrick was wrong and you know it. He got out of line and honestly I don’t want to be a witness for Elliot because a cop saved me. He was going to kill us to prove he was the man and I don’t want to talk about it. So if I have to testify I will but I don’t agree how everyone railroaded that man.” She said walking to the water fountain and taking a sip. As she looked over at Khalil shocked face she felt a sting of sadness wavering over her. Did she just ruin a new relationship? Did she throw away everything they were building. They were always at the wrong time but this was different. This time they were happy and she didn’t want to ruin that.

“I would love to go to the ballet with you. I know you never understood my fascination with the ballet but I will not be bought. I won’t be.” She said softly as Yasmine began to tie her hair into a ponytail. “The deepest parts of me feel like Jon doesn’t deserve this. I also think Kendrick shouldn’t be dead. I am drowning in obligations to the hood and now to you. I messed up deeply man by hurting Kendrick and betraying him. However the emptiness I was feeling was killing me. Stripping was killing me and I know I went to Ronan on my own volition. It was my choice but I don’t want to focus on that time anymore. It’s taking all my strength to move forward from that girl. Diamond was her name but my name is Yasmine and Yasmine doesn’t believe that Jon should pay for doing his job. Hopefully nobody else does either because Kendrick tried to break me. I don’t believe that a woman should be put in the position I was. Selling drugs and selling my body in a much different way isn’t what I want. I never wanted anything so much as to move on.” She said wiping her eyes wondering if she had said too much or not enough. “Say something.”

“He killed my brother.” Khalil said looking at her he didn’t hate her or that other lady that was kidnapped but from what he knew Kendrick never even drew his gun. He had to take a few breaths to calm himself he had struggled the last few months separating the man he knew as his brother and the man that he had become when he went away to college and the minor league. He despised what Yasmine had gotten drug into while he wasn’t there, he felt guilt about that. Maybe if they would have went away together he could have helped her avoid all that the stripping and the selling and, she would have never met Rory Devonshire at the club. Not that Rory had been around a lot the boy was relentless but Yasmine had picked him after Rory fucked that old hag. “Just call Elliot okay and soon this can be behind us both Yasmine. I don’t blame you or that other lady. I just want justice for my brother, my moms deserves that too.”

He looked at her as she put her hair up into a ponytail and gave her the space she needed as she vented about everything. He understood her obligation part hood and then part of what she was trying to do by starting over here at the studio. His emotions had been all over the place since the riots and the people that took up for Kendrick, his brother was not a saint he was second in command to Ronan Madden he killed people for Ronan, did shady shit for Ronan. But did that mean that the cops should just be able to shoot him unarmed? There was a lot of grey area in his brother’s shooting and that was part in what made him help his mother sue. Perhaps the cops could have tried harder with his brother to convince him to surrender. Did they act to hastily, grabbing her hand to reassure her they were ok he nodded. “We’re okay Yasmine you’re not under an obligation to me when you are on the stand I just want the truth to come out.” He said leaning down to kiss her as he saw the limo outside pull up. “Here he comes again.” He said rolling his eyes as he saw Rory Devonshire step out and he looked at Yasmine watching her reaction.

Yasmine knew that Elliot would pursue her until she was no longer on his witness list to be interviewed. She had no choice but to call her she’d hate to see him flip on Jon but the truth was the people of Scottswood were out for blood. No matter what she said to Dinah and Khalil they couldn’t see how cold blooded Kendrick treated her. How evil he truly had become and that irritated her. No matter how she shook it he was brutal to her. What choice did Jon have? Khalil didn’t see how ravenous he was and how he fucking basically committed death by police. He knew didn’t stop and no matter what Jon warned him. The bullets killed Kendrick but he was dead long before that. When he mentioned Rory her eyes perked up as she saw him stepping out in with roses.

She felt badly because she couldn’t look at him without thinking of Tess. She left him without a second thought because if he did it once and he would do it again. Her heart felt swollen with anger and slight hurt that hadn’t went away. Seeing him hurt her and her momma said it meant that she still loved him. Yasmine didn’t feel like that she still loved him but for the man who got her out of the ghetto ass life she was living. Not as the man who cheated with a old botoxed bitch. Gritting her teeth she saw Khalil clutching his fist. He didn’t need to mess up his hand for her. “Rory why are you here? I told you not to come here I’m good bro.”

Rory didn’t know why he had come down here to see her with the flowers but he wanted to give them to her she had a beautiful interview on the news about the good the studio was doing and he hoped time would heal old wounds. His mother called him a romantic at heart and maybe he was and maybe he thought that he and Yasmine given time could fix what he did wrong. Stepping out of the limo he was glad to see that there was no one around the studio to snap his picture and fawn over him she wouldn’t be in the gossip pages and he grabbed the three dozen red roses one dozen for each month out of the back seat. He had told the driver to wait as he looked up at the sign on the studio, she had achieved her dreams thanks to MontCorp which boiled underneath his skin she was fine with taking MontCorp money but the money they sent at DGI was something she snubbed her nose at. He opened up the door to the studio and passed what he assumed was a few of her students who were on their way out and he froze as he saw her holding Khalil Watkins fucking hand.

It shouldn’t have bothered him but it did this was the dude whose brother made her strip on a pole selling her body while she dealt drugs to barely survive. The guy that ran off to college and left her to the streets and a pole and she’d rather be with him that everything he had offered her. He felt foolish he made a mistake and he didn’t understand why she couldn’t see that or why she wouldn’t even give him a second chance but she could give the other man one. The man that incited riots that led to business getting destroyed all based on a lie, that led to the lower level of DGI being destroyed and yet here she was with him of all people. He glared at Khalil watched as the other man sneered at him he wished he would and before he knew it he threw the roses on the ground storming out of the dance studio. People in his family rarely ever got a happy ending even when they groveled and apologized hell look at his sister and Hunter. Or how many times had his mother taken his dad back? Chauncey was a joke and miserable all the time he heard her heels clicking and turned around not wanting her to see the hurt and embarrassment all over his face knowing it was too late.

“Stupid me I thought giving you time to cool off was enough I didn’t think you’d be back with the brother of the man that almost had you raped or worse. I made a mistake coming here thinking we could fix whatever this was.” He said looking at her trying to not lose his cool at the thought of her with Khalil forever that was killing him at the moment. He kicked at some absent dirt on the sidewalk as he stared at her and he dared Khalil to make his way outside he’d make sure he was off the team if the thug laid his hands on him. He knew the owner and he’d find out just how miserable he could make his life if he pissed off the wrong people. “I have tried everything Yasmine I gave you your space, I don’t date or go out. I tried to help fund your studio and you rejected that for MontCorp. I have sent gifts and apology letters I think I’ve got the message now.”

Yasmine saw the salt on Rory face from a far. He was mad she had moved on and forward away from DGI and him. How dare he just come down here and act like she was wrong. She had told him to move on. She’d given him her heart and soul, in turn he just smashed it to a million little pieces. Sleeping with Tess was creepy and most of all broke her. You couldn’t trust the bad boys and you for damn can’t trust the good ones either. She placed everything into him and he just stood there with that stupid ass hurt expression on his face. She could tell Khalil was ready to knuckle up because of the disrespect. “Nah I got this one.” Yasmine raised her hand to keep Khalil at bay.

“You don’t get it do you?” She said with a harshness in her voice. “I sent back your flowers, jewels, and everything else. I don’t want your money to fund this place thank God Forbes did it. I don’t want see your face. You disgust me Rory sitting perch acting like you the victim. Bruh I don’t even have words for a pussy ass motherfucker like you. You mad? Hurt? All up in your fefes? Rory I gave you me! I loved you more than I breathed and you cheated? I had motherfuckers offering to do everything for me. Just like you when I was on that pole. Strippers are turned into millionaires or did you never watch Anna Nicole, Blac Chyna, or Amber Rose? You not the only rich boy who wanted this but you were the one who got me. What did you do Rory? When you had me? Huh?” She screamed finally letting out more of her rage against him. “You got fucking shit faced and couldn’t handle your liquor and let a old bitch who fucked your daddy fuck you. So all I can say is don’t come back if you don’t like what you see. I’m doing me and I’m living! I’m doing best I can and I forgive you but what you won’t do is force me into believing that we should be together. No Rory we shouldn’t because you just like Jackson and Chauncey and your daddy. Ya’ll Devonshire men fuck what ya’ll want too and the women ya’ll say you love you leave them broken. I won’t be Jackie, Selina, Dani or any other bitch. I won’t be disrespected by you or any man not anymore. So since you seem to like to throw my stripper past in my face. I’mma throw your bitch ass out step Rory and don’t come back.”

Rory didn’t have the energy to fight for her anymore if she didn’t want to fight for them either, it seemed like such a moot point. Instead he took in her rage nodding his head at her before turning around without saying a word to her and walked to the limo getting inside. He watched in the rearview mirror as they pulled away from the curve waving off the driver when he asked if he wanted to stop anywhere, no he wanted to go back to his empty condo and drink away the day. Maybe this was for the best for both of them maybe he had been more infatuated with her than in love, after all he did do exactly what she said with Tess. If he had been in love maybe he would never have cheated on her to begin with, or maybe she was right and it was embedded in his DNA hell if you looked at his own father as an example. Placing the divider between them he took out his phone pulling up her contact info and he nearly pressed delete only to stop himself and toss the phone beside him. Reaching for the scotch and the glass next to it, pouring himself a drink and forgetting he ever showed up.

Khalil picked up the flowers inside the door throwing them in the trash, the card included did that white mother fucker think a card and some flowers would woo over Yasmine Kohl? Fool had another thing coming and he almost went after the pretty ass rich white boy only he stopped when Yasmine read him for filth. She could handle himself and he couldn’t help but sneer as Rory tucked his tail between his legs and ran like a pussy afterwards. He saw her students staring at the confrontation and gave them all a look to scram. He walked to her placing his hand on her back. “He’s out of both of our lives now Yasmine, maybe this time he got the message? You want to head out and catch a bite?”

Yasmine felt the chill of how Rory walked away and didn’t look back. Her eyes blurred with the tears. She wouldn’t cry because she was so infuriated right now after what he did. He came here to school her or woo her back. She wasn’t for it after all this time Rory didn’t know her at all. He didn’t seem to get betrayals she went through last year. If she couldn’t trust a man she didn’t need him. As she grabbed her hoodie and bag. “Yeah let’s lock up because all that dancing I’m starved like seriously baby I need a burger from The Corner. A bacon burger matter fact.” She smiled as she took his hand. All she could do was hum Drake’s ‘Too Much’. She wouldn’t be thinking about it too much anymore.


It had been a exhaustive three months. Looking over at Diego he saw he was crushed they didn’t find Scarlett and his son. He knew that Scarlett wouldn’t hurt the baby but God the toxic in her heart. How was he supposed to know that his son was being raised properly? That he wouldn’t be like the other spoiled rich kids that ran this city. They had been in China, Togo, and Northern Cyprus all places with no extradition laws in place. All these locations Scarlett had been seen at and he couldn’t find a clue. Three months and he’d missed the small things. Such as his son first laugh, his first sleepless night, and so much more. It burned him up to think about how they’d been halfway around the world and nothing. Nothing had come up which rock was she hiding under? Who was protecting Scarlett because honestly no one in the city cared about her. She murdered Dante, and had done some scandalous things. He really didn’t care who was stalking her because they knew she was a murdering ravenous bitch. What person killed their elder siblings? Brock and Kelsey drove him crazy when they were in the younger but to kill them? The love his siblings shared was too deep to ever have jealousy like that. He hated Brock when he was younger because he was the perfect son to his parents. Hell Kelsey was pretty much hated by them all because she is perfect other than she likes to lick kitty and not a pogo stick. Looking over at Diego he saw his face and knew he was just as disappointed. Dante was Diego’s brother and he was after Scarlett until his death.

As he walked into the airport he felt his heart hurt. He wanted to run to the United Airway to get another ticket to go to another country. As he turned around Zach saw a huge blue sign. They’d talked every day since he’d been away. Mason sent him money when he was down to his last of his savings. If he didn’t love that boy before man he loved him now. It was something about how far he had went for him. He’d always be here for Mason no matter what? “Hey in a few weeks we are back on the road for my son and Scarlett.” When he saw Diego nod the men shook hands and walked away. Just then he turned to Mason and ran into his arms. Picking up his boyfriend he shoved his tongue down his throat. “He’s out there Mason. My son is out there and he’s not with us. What if she does something to him? What if she hurts my boy?” Tears started to fall as he looked at Mason. “I love you.” He mumbled through sniffles. “This is a horrible time to say that but I love you.”

Mason had supported Zach in every way he could over the last few months emotionally and financially it was the distraction he needed from dealing with his father and their fall out. It was also what he needed to prepare for his case to help Jon Harrison, something he had faced backlash over. He was a fan of the Black Lives Matter movement he always would be but his case was not that case to take up that cross for. He knew that the moment that the Harrison family had contacted him and when he got back the numerous police reports and when he interviewed several witnesses. He had taken his case and some of his clients who felt he wasn’t supporting the cause enough had left as clients. There was nothing he could do about that now and some other clients had rolled in like his brother’s label and a few more so he wasn’t hurting financially. If anything he missed the representation he had with his other clients who had went to Elliot Duvall’s new office.

He held the sign up as he saw Zach and Diego step off the plane both looked tired and worn down after another country with no sign of Scarlett and his son. He had tried all that he could to get extradition in those countries that didn’t have it to no avail it was a lost cause for the most part but he felt like he had to do something to help Zach in his plight. They had only gotten sighting of Scarlett with her mother and a newborn son, the baby was three months old by now and they had managed to track down a birth certificate with the name Kieran on it. That was all they knew Scarlett hadn’t played her usual mind games with them taunting them like he thought she would. Instead she would keep the hope alive and skip to the next country and the saddest part was she had the funds to do it and there was nothing he could do about that either. He wrapped his arms around Zach glad that he was finally home after the months away as selfish as that sounded and he gave Diego a nod as the agent passed them both.

“I don’t think she’ll do anything to harm the baby Zach. If she was going to she would have by now and gave him away or worse. We will find him whatever it takes I promise.” Mason said it was the only comforting thing that he could come up with at the moment. If Scarlett had wanted to hurt Zach she could have given the child away in one of those countries or worse, but she didn’t so a part of him believed she had no intention of harming her own child. When he finally broke away from the kiss he looked at Zach. “I love you too.” He finished with a slight laugh at the moment they had said it to one another he figured this was what real love felt like, when you would literally do anything for the other person. “We have the worst timing don’t we?”

How did he know what that psycho bitch would do with their son? He’d defied her and Scarlett sanity had slipped years ago. She was vicious and what anger would she take out on a baby? Veronica only wanted to expose their molesting father and she killed her. Changing Philip’s life forever and that was something that he didn’t want to think about. No matter what Philip had done irreparable damage to not just Scarlett but Kieran. It was the first time he thought about that name since he suggested it to Scarlett. That was the name he wanted for their son and he loved that little boy feverishly. Already he’d die to have a moment to know him. Just to see him smile like he did when he was a baby. How was he to tell his family he didn’t find Kieran? Closing his eyes he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“We do.” He said smirking as he touched Mason face. “You’ve gotten even more handsome since the last time we’ve seen each other. Or am I just missing touching you?” Taking Mason’s hand Zach began to walk through the airport. Dante was the last man he felt this electric about and that lead to a marriage proposal. He knew it was too soon for that but Mason was perfect and at times he felt like he didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve to have happiness so soon after what happened to Dante. “I have lots of lesson I learned on the road but the best one was keeping my dick in my pants. I’ve waited a long time to give you a piece of me and I hope you’re ready because I plan on putting in a lot of work.” He didn’t want to focus on Kieran too much because if he did he’d fall into the darkness that Diego said he saw in him. If he had a chance he’d kill Scarlett to protect their son from the darkness his mother possessed. He just wanted a well-adjusted kid. “So how was the last three months without me?”

Mason couldn’t help the laugh that came out he never doubted Zach’s ability to be faithful while he was gone but given both their pasts and the mess with Scarlett it was nice to be able to joke about it. He was happy that they could move to that part of their relationship honestly, the distance had only added to that between them the wait and anticipation. It was about commitment and it felt very really for that but at the same time just right too, he had never done a distance relationship and he wasn’t sure Zach had either. When he saw Zach’s luggage on the belt grabbing his hand he drug him to the carousel to retrieve the bag. It all felt to domesticated with was different for him now that he was out. So many outreach groups had reached out to him to speak out about his story and the fall out with his father. He and Jamal were good, Selina had left town and left things in ruins for her marriage to Braden. Which was awkward when Jon would bring Braden long to prep for the trail just in case what was he supposed to say to his soon to be ex-brother in law and Zach’s cousin.

“You missed all the drama. Braden filed from divorce from Selina which is just sad you know? I thought they were good and then when Lowell fired her. Jon’s trial starts up soon so I’ve been working on that I feel good about it.” Mason said not sure how Braden and Selina would complicate them Zach was a Fraiser that wasn’t changing and from what he knew a lot of them were really pissed about how Selina left. He understood his sister but he also knew leaving Braden like she did after all the shit that happened with Jamal and then Tamara would be the end for their marriage. He couldn’t discuss the details on Jon’s case but he felt good about what he would present in court the shooting was justified as was Jon under those circumstances. “I missed you the most though. Night by the fireplace or on your boat. I know you had to leave and do what you needed for him but I can’t say I’m not glad about you being home finally and back with me. That probably makes me a selfish asshole.”

“It doesn’t it makes you my boyfriend.” Zach said as he opened the trunk to put his luggage inside. He walked to Mason before he got into the drivers side and grabbed him. Pushing him against the car and pressed his body against his. He stuck his tongue in his mouth and slowly started to french kiss him. It was passionate something he never had when he slept with Scarlett. He felt a pure connection to Mason it was like a moth to a flame. “How didn’t I see you before? I mean look at you Mason you’re so sexy and I just walked right past you. Simon saw it though and I didn’t. I want to tell you that no matter if your father is against us I’m going to fight for him to see how truly amazing his son is. Everyday of my life. I want him to know what he missed out on.”

Zach smacked Mason ass as he walked to the passenger side and jumped in. “Can I ask you something? I know the drama between my cousin and your sister isn’t going to affect us. Look Braden and Selina have been doing this since I was in grade school. I was a teenage kid watching them in college breaking up and making up. I’m not getting in that mess but juicy about Tamara and Braden. I always thought he gave up on that relationship too soon. However I know how important family is too you. Have you ever thought of reaching out to Gloria’s family? You don’t bring your mom side of the family up much. I mean Devin is your cousin by your dad’s sister right? So why don’t you see what that side of your family tree has to offer?” Then he saw La Callie and his stomach growled for there famous crepes. He knew better than to ask so he thought of the next best thing. “TJ’s we need to go to TJ’s they’re reopened right babe?”

Mason was still getting comfortable with PDA in public but he couldn’t help it when Zach all but pushed him against the car and like a bunch of teenagers they made out for what seemed like forever. By the time he pulled back and smiled at Zach he wasn’t as embarrassed at the gesture straight couples did it all the time and he felt a little more free in who he was. Something he always had to hide before, he was openly gay not his choosing and looking back it was something maybe he should have done earlier. He felt more free than he had in years and he felt a passion with Zach that he can he never did with Simon. The sex with Simon was good don’t get him wrong but there was never a deeper connection or maybe there was and he had just shut off that part of himself until now. He walked Zach to the passenger side and let him jump in before going to the driver side and starting the car.

“It’s not going to affect us I know that too. No one in your family has asked that I pick a side I don’t think they’d ever do that. Plus Braden has been helping with Jon’s case so I think we’re still cool. It’s just weird my sister and your cousin have been back and forth and back and forth for years. I just figured marrying him at her wedding to Chauncey was it for them.” Mason said wondering if in fact that was part of the curse of her relationship to Braden Fraiser, she had been hellbent on revenge for Chauncey at the time and making sure she got Maddie. Maybe instead they should have waited it out and they wouldn’t be in a pending divorce situation. He also bit his mouth about Tamara the woman was trouble but he felt for her too in the situation it was a mess, when Zach mentioned his other side of the family he shrugged. “My mom’s side of the family started over when she died they moved away. I think I have a few cousins on that side and an aunt that still keeps in touch maybe one day at our wedding if we have one they can visit. TJ’s it is. I know you love those crepes so thanks, I’m not ready to speak to him yet or forgive him Zach. I’m just glad you’re home.” Mason finished as the light turned green and he looked over at LaCallie before concentrating on TJ’s and then taking Zach home.

“And I’m just glad to be here. Soon we’ll be a family with Kieran and you it’s just finding that psychopath first.” He leaned his head back wondering what his son really looked like. If he had his hazel eyes or if he smelled like butterscotch like his mom said he always did. “And did you say our wedding? So you already planning our happily ever after okay only thing I don’t want is carnations. I hate those flowers and anything dealing with red or crimson I’ve had enough scarlet in my life.” Zach leaned back and took Mason hand knowing that soon they’d be happy when they had their son. “Kieran is ours and together we will raise him to be a great kid. I just hope he’ll forgive me for putting away his mother. Scarlett needs to be in a asylum and I’m going to lock her away forever.” Closing his eyes he saw they were pulling into TJ’s. “It feels good to be home again.”


Ronan looked out over the remodeled club now that Philip was out of it and he had one hundred percent control he had brought in the best designers to remodel it. The dancers were all given an upgrade the private rooms as well and now they were getting ready for a re-grand opening. He for now had pulled out the drugs and the counting of the money there, he had another front for that more secure not only that it was compromised now. It was for the best that he moved those operations somewhere else and he smiled as one of the new bartenders delivered his drink to the table where he was waiting for Thor. He and his brother had buried the hatchet now that his father’s true killer had been revealed in a massive cover up that took even him by surprise. The gun was found inside Gideon Morrison home. Unfortunately Gideon and his daughter were both killed from carbon monoxide poisoning so there was no reprieve of a trial for Gideon. There would be no day in court for revenge and he was alright with that. Had he of known earlier Steven would have met a more unfortunate fate.

When Mercedes came to his booth he couldn’t help but slide over and let her press those lips against his while her hands worked on his pants, a man had needs after all and Brooke had clearly moved on. They were broken apart by the cough and he looked up as Thor slid in across from him and then looked at him. He pulled back from Mercedes waving her off for now to go back and attend to the rest of the girls in the back perhaps later he could invite her to the house. He adjusted himself as he picked up some of the numbers for the remodel and the casino plans sliding a copy over to Thor. Picking up his glass from the table he took a drink waiting for his baby brother to say something though he was one to talk word was that he had moved on from Cassie, which he didn’t get Thor had been in love with her for years. Instead he was shacking up with Skye Morgan which while interesting was also not ideal, she had been heavily involved with a few of his runners in the past.

“I know you want to say it so go ahead and say it. She moved on Thor shouldn’t I be allowed to do the same? Shouldn’t you be allowed to do the same with Skye? Or would you prefer that I sulk for the rest of my life it is better this way for everyone?” Ronan said waving the bartender over to poor Thor a glass and he waited till the bartender had left and he knew that Thor was thinking of his answer. Taking a breath he changed the subject though they had healed a lot ever since Thor had tried to kill him expressing their emotions was never something they had been good at. He supposed he got that from his father and so did Thor. “Do the numbers look alright for you? I moved some things around I hope that is alright we still need to replace Benny and I haven’t had any names come up. He was good about moving around things that needed to be moved. When you called you said something else had come up?”

Thor had been with Skye for the last three months and he couldn’t actually complain. It took time after he purposely called her Cassie but she broke down. Plus he took her on a shopping spree in New York. What could he say he knew how to woo a woman. From the moment it came out Gideon killed Steven and Carla it seemed the feud was dead. Ronan and he had finally had a moment to breathe and actually get to know each other. It wasn’t long before he felt like he had a brother to depend on. He stepped up and became Ronan’s right hand after Kendrick unfortunate death. He couldn’t be happier that snake was now six feet under. Now he wanted to get Ronan back on track. To be honest he could get his woman back in all honesty. Yeah Brooke was back canoodling with the prince but she loved him. He didn’t understand why Ronan the most influential mobster since John Gotti was scared. He was afraid something bad would happen to Brooke and honestly he was right. Any woman who joined them in this life was in danger. It however was Brooke choice and he took that away from her by breaking up before she could choose.

As he sat down in the booth he looked over the casino stats and smirked. They were about to make a killing and the casino would change Atlas Falls. The city was still recovering from the riots and he understood why he didn’t want to reach back out for Brooke. His ego was wounded that she ran back to the prince. Thor however couldn’t blame her she was out to hurt someone because she was heartbroken. You don’t just get over that type of love and relationship easily and the best way she knew how was move forward. Tapping his fingers on the marble tabletops he looked at his big brother. “You know how I feel on the subject of Brooke Kincaid. You love her and she loves you why are you walking away? I mean I had Mercedes and so did Kendrick and so did Ivan. Look I know Skye has a rep but that doesn’t change the fact that you had a woman. A woman who was devoted to you completely. So I question again why? Why force her away when you want nothing more than to have her close?” He saw the irritation etched on Ronan face. Another thing he learned was Ronan didn’t like to be told he was wrong or not making sense.

“If you got someone you love then you should be with them. That’s all I am saying and I’m pretty content with Skye and losing Cassie now. So.” He clicked his tongue stopping himself from pushing the subject. “I didn’t come to discuss your fucked up love life. I came here because we have been invited to the funeral of Don Falcone in New York.” Thor said as he looked at Ronan. “By Giavanni Falcone.”

Ronan was glad to put the moment to rest between them about Brooke he didn’t want to argue about it with Thor. He still didn’t get the fascination with Skye Morgan over Cassie Montgomery but that wasn’t his business as long as Skye stayed away from his business side of things. He had that worry about her, she had a past as a troublemaker and a drug user and while it wouldn’t be the first time Thor was involved in something like that this time was fragile to both businesses. He wondered if Thor was in love with Skye or not, he had always been in love with Cassie and wanted to point out he gave up Cassie quite easily when she had turned to Jon Harrison. When he mentioned Giavanni he looked over at Thor his interest peeked at everything he had said. Giavanni was the eldest daughter of Vito Falcone they had met on a few occasions. She was beautiful and gorgeous but he did have to wonder how she would take over the business she was not an O’Connor and he smiled a bit at that.

“Do I need to reach out to our friends down south to see if she if up to par? Her father as you know ran a tight ship and operation one of the most deadliest and most efficient. I do wonder how his precious daughter will shape up to those demands. How are relations with the Falconne’s right now?” Ronan said wondering if they should accept the invitation to the funeral or not they had been on good terms with the Falcone’s in the past and right now he thought they were as well. He picked up the reports one more time anxious for the last of the casino to get done so they could start the business operations there. Lowell had turned the casino over to Max and Chauncey with his new execute in London but that was the nature of business. “Have you heard back from DGI when we can tour the grounds and building yet? I worried when I went to Lowell that the delay with the casino could happen do you think that he could be delaying on purpose? I heard rumors could you look into it for us we need to get the money moving quickly.”

“Kevin gave me information that she’s going to take over not her bitch ass little brother. She’s the only one who can after his death. I mean Don Vito Falcone is a legend in the game but he also made a lot of enemies including the O’Connor’s. However I think she reached out to you for a peace treaty and to become a member of the cartel.” Thor looked at Mercedes bringing them both a drink. He took it and gulped down the hard liquor as he looked at his brother. For years his mother feared Ronan because of the cartel. They had broken the country into four quadrants that each powerful mobster ran. It was a legendary move that stopped the bloodshed between all. Not only that it made them all collectively untouchable. Each clan seemed to have something the other didn’t. Not only that they all worked together to go head to head up against the police and anyone else who threatened their reign. He didn’t know how close Kevin was to coming to off him in his sleep until he met the man from Cape Kentrich.

“I just think the bitch is shifty as fuck. She seems to always have her finger in the pot and always has. How do you think they got the Capalletti fortune? It was simple she married Aldo Capelletti and then her husband vanished. I don’t think she is trustworthy but who am I to talk? I went against you last year and one of the few alive to tell the tale. Look I’m not giving her that much power but I am giving you the option if we should even go. She’s dangerous and everyone knows that but what mobster isn’t? I’m saying brother that she’s also more calculating than most and as long as you understand who you might be bringing in. Then well she can operate under you until you see if she is someone you want to bring in. I do think she has a market for the drugs in New York but do I trust her? Hell no.”

Ronan listen to Thor relay the information they had unlike other factions the Madden and O’Connor’s had always been on at least friendly terms. If his father had it his way he would have married into the O’Connor’s in the end it would be a match ill made. Both sides came to a different arrangement one of a business nature of making sure to watch each others backs as needed and he had another friend he could totally trust in the game, someone who would be his equal. A major reason why a marriage would have never worked for he and the O’Connor’s eldest daughter and now head of the family. If they felt that Giavanni was a threat then he trusted that but he also knew that peace was paramount at the moment for the trade and the network to continue and she would see it as an insult if they didn’t show up to the funeral to honor her father. He would keep his back up and attend Thor could double down on the security with Kevin if Kelly was going to attend and they would be able to see what GIavanni was up too.

“Book the plane we’ll go leave Skye behind for the trip. We’ll pay our respects to her father and I’’ reach out to Kelly for you and Kevin to work joint security together. She would have to go around her brother to actually take a seat at the cartel table unless her daddy felt it to her.” Ronan said looking at Thor he wanted Skye to stay behind just in case something did happen or worse she pissed off someone with her tongue that would piss off a rival family. He never thought Vito would leave his empire to his daughter only a few other men had done it, Robert O’Connor being the last but there was never any question about whether or not she was prepared or if it was her birthright. Her birthright went all the way back to Dublin. “Give her your credit card or something while you’re gone it’ll be a few days a week at most. Funeral and then meetings. We asses the situation and then we come back with what the cartel decides.”

Thor looked at Ronan as if he was crazy when he said give Skye his credit card. His eyes narrowed slightly knowing that he was right only shopping would keep his girl in line. Nodding his head he saw that twinkle in his eyes. Kelly O’Connor was rumored to be his one time lover and they did go to college at the same time. It was ironic he wondered where his life would have been if they had some sort of arranged marriage. His brother wasn’t the same after Brooke and he felt that deeply that she was his soulmate. It was just how he looked at her he’d seen that only one other time. Lowell and Jackie Devonshire when he took Max out once. After one of Cassie and his breakups he choose to hurt her with Max. It was childish but he was a child then. The way they looked at each other was that true love that he didn’t believe in due to it being rare.

“I can handle Skye you pack up brother we are going to New York’s biggest mobster funeral. This is a legendary moment you know that right? We are finally showing the Luciano and Madden families are one. Our mothers and ties kept us apart and I want to tell you I appreciate you finally opening up to me. I used to want a brother and when I found out I had one well you weren’t what I expected. No offense you were a douche bag and highly combative to the idea of me. I’m not going to get to sentimental but I have family again and I thought I was alone last year. I just want to see you back whole and I hope that’s with Brooke. I won’t harp anymore on it but dad looked at your mother like that. Never at mine but I see that look of true love. I’m searching for mine and you got yours bro don’t lose it.” He grabbed his phone. “I’m going to see my girl while you take your turn riding a bad Mercedes. Have fun brother.”


Jackie looked over at Lowell as she made the way into their bedroom the trial had mild success  and it was the strongest thing she had ever seen him do. Put aside his dignity for a few months and let the kids take over the company as much as they could while he told them he was taking a vacation with her. A lie they had went to Europe for the clinical trial and the prognosis was in he had maybe a year left not much longer and soon the medications would stop helping to hide his symptoms. The medications were illegal in the US but they had gotten enough while they were overseas and thankfully Lowell knew the right people to pay off to let him have them. She was grateful to it all but now that they were back she was worried he would take a step back into the world of DGI when she thought he should be doing what they agreed letting the children take over. Chauncey had redeemed himself bringing Greer on as an executive something she objected to but the board was behind. Max was having a summer fling in Europe. Jackson had avoided jail time and instead checked himself into a rehab overseas again. Bliss had moved on with Hunter and began taking over side projects with Max. Rory had ended his relationship with Yasmine and she worried he was too focused on work again.

She walked to the cart with the pills carefully and slowly opening each one to get the dosage right and then put them all in the plastic cup pouring some sparkling water as well into a glass tumbler. It was better than the IV medication they had tried during the summer that had made Lowell so weak and fragile but a necessity at the time. She walked back to the bed watching her husband comb through company emails and stocks and wondered if he would fully let it go again. That was the plan yet he was engrossed back in work the moment they came home, he was supposed to be taking it easy and making arrangements. Letting the kids take over their legacy a legacy she knew he often felt they were ill equipped to take over but there was no choice now. She handed the pills and the glass to Lowell watched as he placed them down on the bedside table to turn his attention back to the screen.

“The doctor said you have to keep taking them on a tight schedule. Work can wait the kids should be handling everything. Forbes has yet to attack the company in anyway he didn’t even make a move this summer they have it under control.” Jackie said watching the worry on her husbands face and she wished he could just have an off button when it came to DGI. She glanced over at the stock prices they were stable and she looked at the social media page for the company they had managed to flip most of the narratives. People loved the idea of Rory’s app. Bliss and Hunter as a couple had intrigued people. The casino deal was an up and coming development. The energy division was stable and the public still adored Jackson with Dani, if anything the kidnapping and won them over more. “See there is nothing to worry about. The company is running as it should everyone is doing what they are supposed too. Do you not trust everything you have taught them to move forward?”

“I trust them but I see they’ve never faced anything like Forbes.” He said looking up at his wife. “I don’t know what he’s doing. I don’t know what his intentions are but he’s planning and plotting. Look I’ve spent over twenty years in war with this man. I don’t know what to say but that I understand that I should be sitting down but I can’t let them go up against that man. He’s evil and I have done this to them. He’s coming after me through them and you can’t sit here and pretend that it won’t happen. Forbes is sitting on secrets and plans I know him. I worked with him to get to the top. He’s meticulous and a snake Jackie.” His hand shook as he took the medications she was handing him. He slammed his hand down on the cherry oak desk. His eyes started to blur with tears. “I’m about to be a incapable of holding a glass of water. I’m dying and I can’t stop it. It hurts so much and I’m so tired Jacqueline.” He didn’t call her Jackie to show how exhausted he truly was. Only time he called her full name was when he was teasing or completely emotionally spun.

“I’ve fought my entire life to be this titan among men and now I’m just a crippled man. I’m just a man who will be dead soon. I can’t leave them. I can’t do it because they need me and I need them. I don’t want to die Jackie. I don’t and what makes it worse is for the first time in my life I see them. I see them as the perfect kids for me. Chauncey is flawed but I did that to him just like Jackson’s addiction. Oh God I can’t stop crying thinking about my girls. Max who never blinks at danger and Bliss never felt the love of her family. Rory is the only one with his head screwed on tight but God he’s so buttoned up I think he’s going explode. I’ve ruined them and I just want a chance to show them. Show them that their father isn’t just bones and wither body. I hate it. I hate how I’ve choose to raise them all because I didn’t give them my all. You soon I’ll be a ghost to them. They’ll have children I’ll never meet. What am I supposed to say to them? I’m sorry I have MS and I’m dying? No I won’t let them battle Forbes alone. I will live to protect them and get them ready for the battle of their lives. You see it’s now that’s scary it’s when I’m gone. What will he do to them? What will he do to you? How will he punish us all?” Lowering his head Lowell wept for the first time since they had left. He had been strong for Jackie but he was so tired. He was so fragile and weak. “I’m dying and I want to live Jackie. I want to live so badly.” He gripped her hand as it shook. He felt like a monster because he wasn’t the man she married he was someone weak. “I’m weak because of this sickness but I still have enough strength to ensure he doesn’t get my damn company and I leave them with our legacy. A legacy we built my wife.”

Jackie watched him making sure he swallowed the pills like a hawk she had considered hiring a nurse to tend to her husband but deep down when the option had come up she reminded herself that she did say in sickness and in health. This was the in health part and it felt wrong to let anyone else do what was her right and obligation to do with her husband. Her husband had a lot of flaws he pushed their children to be the best and at times she knew it was too much with the boys, but he loved them fiercely. He hadn’t been there for all their big moments there were many he missed because he was with Tess and she tried not to bitterly think about that that he was with his long term mistress all the times he missed things for their children. She understood his fear about the grandchildren part they had Maddie and Fox, and the soon to be twins but the rest wouldn’t met their grandfather and she would make it her mission that they knew who he was. She would tell them stories about how much he loved them, show them the ropes at the company, let them see his face in family videos and pictures. She knew that he was still worried about Forbes, she was too but he had yet to do anything to them or the company which had surprised her given what happened with Philip and Max.

“He should have struck by now why hasn’t he that is what I want to know too. We gave the kids the warning, we have Simon looking out for what it could be but why the waiting game. That is the only fear that I have about Forbes right now Lowell not that they can’t handle it, they can.” Jackie said holding his hand in hers watching it shake, she knew he was scared to tell the children but she also thought that he should do they were prepared like she had to be. When he called her by her full name she tried to bite back the tears and was successful that was reserved for the hard times when he was lost and he rarely ever used it. He had a few times before through their rough patches with Tess and when “You have time to work things out with the boys now Lowell and the girls know how much you love them both. You will spend time with the kids that are here now Maddie, Fox when Bliss gets him back and the twins once they’re here they will all know you. Be strong now for them and the company you are not weak because of your illness and if you are worried about that being the narrative stop right there. You will set me up to be protected and the kids will protect me too from him.”

“Maybe he’s waiting for my return back in town.” He said looking in Jackie’s eyes. “I was gone for months three months to be exactly. Now that I’ve returned he is going to attack us somehow. Look I’ve know that he wouldn’t want to hurt DGI while I’m not here to witness it. Leaving was a smart move it pushed him back so we can try to find out what he’s planning. Simon and Talia have been watching diligently and I know that we can figure it out. If we stop him and I die then I’ll die at peace.” Maybe it was his fault since the age of forty he’d notice light tremors and ignored them. Saying it was stress and other things now he was in his sixties and facing his own death. Mortality was so fragile now a days more so than his ego. “You say that Jackie but look you have a full life ahead of you still. You’re going to find another man to love you promise me that. I know it will kill the kids but you promise me you will find happiness and I’ll haunt that son of a bitch if he isn’t good to you.” Lowell said with a laugh and saw Jackie crack a smile.

“Listen my love my body is failing. I won’t pretend that isn’t the truth but I will say that I’m slowing figuring out my mind isn’t gone. I’m going to use it to stop him. I won’t be there everyday but I will be there for my children. He’s up to something Jackie and you know it. He didn’t come back here because of Philip shooting he could care less about those kids. He is here to punish me and now that I’m home Jackie he’s going to attack believe me. Some way or another this isn’t over.” He took her hand. “I’m not afraid to die, I’m afraid to die knowing that I didn’t fix what I have with my children. That I didn’t get enough time with Bliss or tell Chauncey how proud I am of him. He’s doing a damn good job. I just don’t know how to say some of the things I need to say to them. To tell them the lessons I didn’t get to have with my father. What I wouldn’t give to talk to him one time and get his strength he wouldn’t be blubbering like me. He would be strong right now and facing all of us. I have to be stronger for them.” Lowell coughed loudly as he pulled out his handkerchief to his mouth, as he removed it blood coated the silk rag. “I’m fine.”

The blood on the rag frightened her it had never happened before now and she tried to remember if the doctors had said that would happen. Or was something else wrong it had been tremors and nervous issues up until then and she forced a smile back at him. “You are going to leave a legacy that no one can take from you or our children. Even now when you are sick he can’t harm you like that unless you let him. I won’t let him.” She said not knowing what else to say to her when he looked over at her and she composed herself she had to be strong for him as well he couldn’t see her weakness when it came to how sick she was. How inside she was scared to death of him leaving her alone in this world and she would not find another lover after him, she loved him with every fiber of her being. Tossing that aside for someone else seemed so callous and cold but she faked the smile and the nod of her head at him if it comforted him to imagine her like like that she would. “Alright.”

“I think it is time you name Chauncey as CEO break up the rest of the other duties at the company with the other children. Designate them as the other titles at the company you know he is qualified to run the day to day operations and do everything you trained him to do. As long as he doesn’t chase the skirt of the month.” Jackie paused for a moment when she saw him thinking about what she was saying and then it hit her he didn’t want to give it over to Chauncey which had been the plan for years. That was something that truly did shock her everything he had done, the training he instilled on Chauncey the way he made the boys compete. The fallout was supposed to be worth it when Chauncey was ready to take over the company. “You don’t want to give it to him why? This was the plan Lowell everything was for this moment to give Chauncey full reign. Tell me why you won’t do it now after everything.”

“Because I’m home and I want to secure them myself. I want to stand as the man they thought me as one more time. I want them to see me as their father who will protect them to his very own dying breath. It’s the least I can do when I’ve failed in so many other areas. You keep saying he’s not going to do anything your wishful thinking is amusing. I’m sick not stupid Jackie. You can bury your head in your sand and pretend that my most dangerous rival is just here for a visit. He moved his entire company beloved and it isn’t going to get brighter. It’s going to get much darker and the rain will come when you least expect it. So I’m staying as CEO for now until I can figure out a way to block every move. Trust me Chauncey isn’t ready for Forbes and the rest aren’t either. Who would be because when he does strike it’s going to be casualties but not my kids.” He said clearing his throat as he stood up. Walking to the balcony outside of his office he took Jackie hand.

“As soon as I stop him I’m leaving with you. We are going to Jamaica or that Island you love in Florida. I’m grateful you are pushing me to stop. I will when I stop Forbes.” Lowell said as he took his wife hand. “I’m going to give up this power but I won’t pretend that the kids and you are in danger. Look I think you fear I can’t hand over the reigns to Chauncey or whomever that’s not it. I can but I won’t hand them the company when it’s snakes and bombs everywhere. So you can either stand with me in the sun or walk away. I’m staying and I’m fighting my last battle against Forbes. I plan on winning my dear.” Turning around he saw Jackie face was concerned and she had fear in her eyes. “Hey I’m dying you can’t pout.” He touched her cheek and smiled. “I know the fear of what is happening. I want to live out my last days in peace and it will happen when I destroy Forbes once and for all.”

Jackie knew that it was pointless to fight about him leaving the company now with the threat of Forbes looming over them he wouldn’t stop. DGI had meant everything to them over the years it was what they worked for, the people the hurt hurt to get there along the way briefly crossed her mind only to stop, you couldn’t undo the past. She knew that now and more than anyone if she did she wondered if they would have made different choices on both their parts to get where they were today and perhaps the outcome would be different. She walked with him out to the balcony and wondered if this would be what their final days were like going forward. Little moments together like this before he was bound to twenty four hour care, unable to speak or express himself and she lightly choked up at the images, images that frightened her she didn’t know how she would cope then. She gently leaned up kissing her husband on the lips her soulmate over the years before pulling back. “After Forbes then you’ll turn the company over to the kids. Let’s get ready for bed.” She finished squeezing his hand for good measure as she made her way back into the house.

Heading straight for the master suite and the bathroom she waved off the staff as she went, no doubt Lowell would be still finishing up last minute calls and business before bed. She however needed space from him as she felt the pounding in her chest a mix of love and fear etched in her response. Her eyes prickled with tears and she shut the bathroom door behind her walking to her vanity and looking at the creams and jars spread out over it. It all seemed so superficial was the best word for it all life wasn’t eternal and no cream or jar would make her outlive anyone, she knew that now. Life happened in the worst ways possible sometimes, it threw you off guard and your time could come at any moment. She sat down in the chair reaching for her makeup remover and putting it on her face, rubbing vigorously and when she stopped she saw it was mixed with tears flowing down her face. Tears she had been keeping at bay most of the summer only reserved for moments like these where she was alone and out of sight from Lowell and everyone else. Her lip quivered and she bit back the sob that almost came out as she heard the footsteps in the master bedroom. Composing herself she rinsed her face and dried it applying the creams afterwards, her hands hidden in the sink to hide them shaking when she saw Lowell step inside.

“All finished love?” She asked looking at him and wondering how she could let him go in the end.


Looking at the ocean underneath them Selina knew that she was about to make quite the wave. Not only was she returning back to Atlas Falls. She was returning prepared to divorce Braden. It had been long enough and she was sure that he was moving on. Out of all the people she didn’t believe Lauren would be the one to keep her on top of her husband. Selina wasn’t foolish. She knew that Braden deserved to move on just like she did. It just stung that everyone was saying it was with Tamara. A woman who’d given him and her so much stress. Reaching over she grabbed his hand. He wasn’t what she thought at all. He was charming and charismatic plus she loved how he cared for his son. Nothing could prepare her for the time they shared in Ilsa De Cruces. The family was gracious and welcoming. For royals that was a shock. She only was there for refueling and then she was supposed to head to some Caribbean Island. What happened truly shocked her. For a week she stayed at the castle Highpyke which was luxurious as any five star hotel. Not only that she was seduced by a prince, and a long time rival of her mentor. For some reason Forbes Montgomery had business in Ilsa De Cruces. There time together was brief but he offered her a sizable job and she accepted. She was the new COO of MontCorp. Twirling a glass of champagne through her fingers she looked at Dimitri holding a sleeping Foxworth in his arms.

“He has her eyes.” She said finally choosing to speak after hours of silence. The shock and pressure of returning home. She couldn’t put it into words. How would everyone feel knowing she was now working for MontCorp and not DGI. Would the people she hold dearest hate her? Or would they respect how bold her latest career change was. The power she had at MontCorp was enough to take down anyone including her ex-lover Chauncey. He framed her and pushed her out of a company she helped bring into the modern era. Her hard work and stamina made DGI along with a lot of other brilliant minds. She was stripped of a company and piece of a legacy she’d worked hard to attain with the Devonshire family.

“I hate that she has the entire world thinking you are a abusive monster. I hate it Dimitri and I need you to clear your name and make sure Fox never has to go with her. I never trusted Bliss at all, she’s just as cunning as her mother if you think about it. She takes Max husband, leaves a child behind, and then comes after her legacy. Does that sound like anyone we want raising a young prince? Foxworth Dimitri Kavanaugh deserves his life with you and me. Not her.” Selina closed her eyes as she thought about the doctors words. She wasn’t able to have children. It would be a long and brutal road. It felt horrible that this was the second child she invested in so deeply that wasn’t hers. Tears almost started to form as she gulped down the rest of the champagne. “My father and family will love you I know it.”

Dimitri looked out the window of the plane the blue ocean underneath them this was all working out in his favor. His brother thought he could smooth things over with him because he got to America first and had wormed his way back into her life. No that was not how this was going to play out and now that he had Selina by his side it was even better, Bliss looked erratic and neurotic two things that he knew would work in his favor. Not to mention she had abandoned Fox all those years ago stole away in the middle of the night and got through border security thanks to Ramses Hussien that would be her ultimate downfall, mothers abandoning their children looked even worse. Looking down at his sleeping son he knew that eventually Bliss would cave if she ever wanted to see her son again and the woman beside him would assure him of that. No mother liked to feel like they could be replaced and that was what he would use to his advantage to get Bliss to come back home. He picked up the glass of champagne as he took a drink smiling at Selina it was all a game to him a game that fell into his lap.

He remembered the day she had arrived at the island to refuel and from there when he laid eyes on her he sparked his plan. Win over the foreigner to his bed and then from there turn her against Bliss and the family she loved the most and after a call from Forbes Montgomery to tell him to make that move he knew it was for the best. She had been vulnerable on the island heartbroken about the Devonshire’s betraying her and leaving her husband like she did. He had played the prince charming part perfect his best facade that he was known for. Comforting her when she cried about it, letting her adjust to the palace and the grounds and when she became attached to Fox he knew it was the in he needed. He’d seduced her assuring her that as soon as her divorce was final he’d make her the Princess of Isla Del Cruces and then used her for his liking in bed and she had been vulnerable enough to let him. She would never be Bliss though he knew that and eventually she would know that as well, but for now he was content to play along until he got what he wanted.

“I am so glad you see it this way the disgusting lies she has told about me Selina have nearly ruined me and Fox I always wanted what was best for him. Bliss just didn’t want to be a mother like you do, she ran off in the middle of the night likely for that man she was fucking behind my back. It was all over the palace rumors at the time and I suspected for a while she was having an affair. Motherhood never suited her, what type of mother abandons their child like that and then tells lies about the only parent that child knows?” Dimitri said choosing his words precisely and with the emotion he knew she needed to hear. A way to seduce her even more to his side make her believe that she could be a better parent to Fox than Bliss ever could, make her believe that she wanted that more than anything. He took her hand in his squeezing it showing her what she wanted a part of his vulnerability. “If your father is anything like you have told me I am sure to win him over. Your husband has he signed yet? The sooner we have that matter cleared the sooner we can move forward.”

Selina nodded listening how Bliss lied pissed her off. This man hadn’t been nothing but cordial and eventually a passionate lover. He was a real man and it disgusted her that Bliss marred his name. Somehow she’d expose her for the lying witch she was just like Tess. The apple never falls far from the tree. As she walked across the aisle and sat closer to him. She nestled closer to him as she kissed his cheek. “He hasn’t actually from what my father has told me he wants to speak with me before signing the paperwork. I will get this to happen it’s not every day that a girl can say she might be royalty.” Many pieces of her regretted leaving Atlas Falls the way she had. She was furious at Chauncey and the Devonshire’s for using her as a scapegoat. Then there was how Braden didn’t understand the black struggle. Yes Jamal was a fucking fool but at the same time Jackson got a spanking on the hand. Yet he seemed to think it was acceptable for her brother to be thrown away. Justice or not she wasn’t here for her baby brother being in the jail system. The black men in America were looked at as criminal and her damn brother wasn’t about to be in that.

“Fox deserves more than Bliss and I assure you he’ll get it. He’s a Devonshire and he also gets a substantial part in the company as they grow older. He’s a heir twice over and this little boy will be that company future and a king. Power that no one can imagine you know.” Touching his chest she smirked. “I assure that Lowell will fall at our hands. They hurt me and I’m out for blood.” Selina meant everything every word of what she was saying. It hurt her terribly no one from the Devonshire family had even reached out. Jackie her so called Godmother and Lowell who screamed so much love for her. Selina felt it deep in her heart and soul how dare they all abandon her? She’d fought for her brother, marriage, and freedom. Lowell and Jackie both said they understood but she felt this was a quasi punishment for leaving Chauncey at the altar? Revenge was what she wanted. Looking at him she saw disgust or anger in his face. “What’s the matter?” Picking up a piece of toast and caviar taking a bite.

Dimitri pretended to be interested in her problems and her story playing the part to fit his narrative at best over the years he was very good at that, deception he had her eating out of his hand. Turning her against Lowell and the Devonshire’s letting her believe in all the stories that he told her about Bliss and other matters. In truth he cared less about the DA soon to be ex husband he was untouchable even to the law if it came to that, diplomatic immunity and all that. In truth she was collateral damage at the end, he would have Bliss back with him, she would be turning against everyone she cared about and he would be back off to the island with his son and Bliss without her even knowing what hit her. He forced a smile at her rubbing her back to reassure her that he had her back and together they would pounce on those that held power over them both and in her case she would be the ultimate lamb. When she asked what was wrong he shook his head knowing to say exactly what he needed to earn her trust even more.

“Nothing hearing you talk about my son knowing how hard you will fight for him makes me how do you American say it, proud? We will have Fox back and with you having partial custody of Maddie as well that gives us a stake in DGI that they can’t take from you this time Selina not as their mother.” He took the piece of toast from her hand feeding her a bite letting her think that she was his eternal queen that she would be the woman by his side. It was all a part of what he had to make her believe that he would marry her, together they would raise Fox and Chauncey’s brat Maddie together whatever it took to make his time in Atlas Falls a part of the reimaging he could do. People in his home country had heard the rumors and his father had made it clear he was friends with Forbes and he had made sure that Selina landed right in his lap to change the image on the crown. His father would not rule forever. “See your pauper of a soon to be ex file the papers and then we will take over DGI. I will give you the grandest wedding you could ever want. That is what you want is it not? Soon you will be Her Royal Highness Princess Selina Marie Delacroix Kavanaugh it has quite the ring to it.”

Selina smiled as she wiped her mouth with a cloth napkin from the caviar. Then grabbed the champagne bottle and popped the cork. Soon she’d have her revenge on everyone who left her floating in the wind. The family that she thought she was apart of. She’d made many mistakes but trusting a Devonshire had to be the worse. Gloria had been apart of DGI corporate world more than her father and if she didn’t die she’d be standing up for her. God she missed her mother and so much of her lived and breathed through her. How couldn’t she fucking sustain herself like her mother had. As she lowered her head she tried to not cry. She truly did but when she did but her momma always got her going. As she stood up she kissed his lips looking at his eyes. Something in his eyes made her feel unworthy and how he was looking. She could tell it was some darkness behind his eyes but not what Bliss said. He wasn’t a monster he was her future husband as soon as she divorced her current husband. God how had she messed up so badly over and over again.

“Excuse me my princes.” She said softly as she walked to the bathroom. Closing the door she took a deep inhale of air. God she was about to face off against Lowell with MontCorp. Forbes had offered her a job and she took it to be spiteful and finally jab at them. Her heart swelled with fear if her brothers would hate her? Would they understand her fury with Chauncey and Lowell? Would her father still love her after she attacks Lowell and helps Forbes take down DGI? It felt like she was lost right now. “God please show me the way and if this isn’t right.” She said turning her head to the door as if she could see through it. “Lord I come on bended knee. I have been a sinner and I can’t say that I’m a good person. I have so much anger in my heart right now and I left my daughter. The only child I can have. I know you don’t make a mistake but finding out I can’t have a child. It’s killing me and I have to see Lord are you real? Are you listening because I am broken. This is why I can’t love Braden completely because I’m broken as a woman and how am I supposed to be a woman and if I can’t have a child. I’m not complete why Lord?” She sat down on the toilet and cried to herself.

Selina opened her clutch and readjusted her eyeliner and mascara quickly. As she walked back out there. She picked up a champagne flutes and poured them both glasses. Sitting back down she saw they were flying over DGI and her heart dropped. Gulping down the champagne Selina laid her head on Dimitri shoulder then grabbed Fox hand. Seeing those beautiful blue crystal eyes looking back at her. “You are so loved.” She whispered softly.


It didn’t look like The Pub where she conceived their child. Lauren had done some major adjustments in here and it was so much more than a college bar tavern now. It had a matureness and ease that shocked her. Lauren had truly transformed The Fraiser Pub into a much more classier establishment but still was interesting to the youth. Holding her McQueen clutch close she walked inside seeing Walter sitting having a drink. Slowly she approached him placing her hands behind his eyes. After her little stunt it took a long time for him to speak to her but when he did, it was love behind his eyes. He also looked younger that was for sure. He didn’t have the stress of Lauren toxic love on his shoulders. No matter how badly she loved him, Lauren wasn’t his soulmate.

“Hello, stranger I have great news.” She purred as she sat down by him. “A long island please.” Brenda felt anxious to even tell him about there daughter. She could remember how they made love all night and weeks later she knew. She knew she was carrying a child of Walter’s and not Steven’s. Something she’d hidden for years and something she would always hold onto. Something that if ever revealed it could leave irreparable damage to her family. Some secrets just had to stay buried and some deserved to be unearthed. This was a secret that couldn’t stay buried anymore. It couldn’t and her love for Walter would be lost if all her lies were revealed. It was best to just keep silent on somethings. “The private investigator has news. I know he’s located our daughter and soon we will be reunited with the child made out of our love.”

Three months later and the Pub looked like something completely different thanks to the riot and the desolation of his marriage to Lauren. They had agreed to split the business Lauren would run the day to day operations, he would be at city hall as mayor. He had kept the house Lauren claiming it held to many unpleasant memories there for her to stay and instead she had moved into a new house. She was there now doing what he assumed was some painting and remodeling while the Pub ran smoothly. The bartop was still there the long mahogany counter still in tact, something that had been in the family for generations. Glass panels now lined the wall which opened up to the distillery where the house bourbon was made along with displaying the silos for the beer that was homemade as well. New fresh paint and a gorgeous new front window, chic tables and the flooring all tied it together. A new fresh start after everything they had been through and when he felt Brenda’s eyes covering his face he knew this was the right move for both he and Lauren. He had refused to talk to Brenda for weeks after her scene, after his marriage was ruined but eventually he came around.

He had let her do the digging into their daughter he wasn’t even sure he wanted to find ehr in truth, he had his other children to think about who were not speaking to him. The news of a child with Brenda had destroyed any trust left his other daughter had in him and Braden has simply said he was taking his mother’s side when he was the one to help Lauren file from him. He hadn’t seen either of his children in weeks and the only update he got on the state of his soon to be grandchildren was what Lauren provided to him on occasion. They had been civil while waiting for the final paperwork to go through which hopefully would be soon. Thoughts of Brenda had been off his mind his anger had subsided at her over the last few weeks and he had thought on occasion about their daughter, he had turned his rage at her instead to Lowell once again. Lowell was the one who helped her get rid of this child adopt it out without his say, or permission no one even asked him.

“That’s good. I want to know if she is happy with her new family.” Walter said his concern was genuine but there was bitterness there too towards both Brenda and Lowell. He didn’t know what Brenda expected from him did she expect him to fall at her feet and travel around the country to track down their daughter? He had obligations here in Atlas Falls obligations that he couldn’t just walk away from being the mayor and if he ran off now to chase down his love child with Brenda he wondered if his children would ever forgive him for it. “I will make Lowell pay Brenda and I’m furious for what you did, the part you had in this. You uprooted my entire family Braden is not speaking to me. Dani refuses to see me I have no idea what is going on with her or my future grandchildren. I’m actually surprised Brooke and Hunter are taking it so well.” He paused seeing her face he put it together they still had no clue. “You haven’t told them.”

“They just didn’t know right now.” She said aloofly acting as if it was no big thing. “Listen I’ll tell them when the time is right and I thought that it was just a good time to rip off the bandage. I was emotional how many times do I have to tell you that? It all just came out. It was world vomit and all just came out. I’m sorry and I apologize to you profusely but I won’t continue to be the bad guy. I am a good woman who loves you and I want to find her. I want to know our daughter is safe and knows she has a grand two families. The Kincaid’s and The Fraiser’s because she is your blood a much as mine and she deserves a shot to get the wealth and prosperity of these two families.” Brenda said with a glow in her eyes. “I love you and we are free to be together she has moved on. Now all it has happened for a reason and if you continue to wallow then I’ll have no choice but do this on my own.” She said hissing as she knew Lowell and her giving up the baby would hurt her with him.

“Lowell was helping me back then. I take some of the credit for giving our daughter because I couldn’t have her when I was with Steven. My heart is full of love for you and I did what I had to do because did you want her to ruin what you and Lauren had back then?” She said with a dark tone in her voice. “Lowell helped and he twisted the knife and your children will come around. Sooner or later they’ll know that you are a vital part of their lives much like Lauren is. I know my kids will hate me for a while also but it’s what I have to do. I have to know her. I have to get her in my arms because I gave her up because I was scared. I was scared to finally be with you. I love you and I want to a chance to fix all that I’ve ruined and I will.”

“You should have told them the moment you decided to barge into my life and ruin whatever good faith Lauren and my children had left in me. I asked you to wait Brenda for me to tell them at the right moment and you ignored all of that. I won’t do that to your children but I’d tell them sooner rather than later. They bump into my children I wouldn’t put it past either Dani or Braden to unleash the truth on them before you can.” Walter said trying to not get lost in how angry he was at how the secret came out to Lauren how his marriage was over and the hurt it had caused his other children. He had been trying to make amends to them especially Dani to no avail, he had been supportive after the kidnapping and he wanted to make things right with her. That was gone at least for now she hated him for what he had put Lauren through. “They’ll look at your different once they know Brenda you should prepare yourself for that. If you’re lucky they’ll still speak to you even. I don’t have it in me to ruin their lives so I won’t say anything to them.”

He raged at Lowell when she brought up how it had all happened how she had turned to the man that ruined his family to give their daughter away. He was trying to see reason seeing how they were connected now him and Lowell, that wasn’t changing Dani was past that point. Still he was angry at how it all happened and the reasons for which it did. He and Lauren were going through a rough time he had leaned on Brenda and he fucked her every chance he got and the moment he wanted to leave Lauren informed him she was pregnant with Dani. He’d felt trapped at the time but his parents especially told him to stay with his wife and the mother of his children and wanting to be honorable he did. He never even knew Brenda had been pregnant and that was the worst part had she of told him perhaps the outcome would be different. He supposed looking back he took all that anger out on Dani at times and that was part of the reason he wanted to make amends to her, she was not at fault for any of it.

“The worst part is I can’t shut off my feelings for you Brenda I tried for over twenty years and that hasn’t changed but how could you not even tell me? I had a right to know you were carrying our child back them. Everything would have been different if you would have just told me.” He finally said motioning for the bartender to go to the back and give them some privacy before the rush came in. He tapped his fingers on the bartop when she mentioned their child’s legacy and he wondered what that would be on his side. If she was happy he had no right to uproot her from that. “What do you need from me Brenda? I want to know if she is alright I have obligations here as mayor that I have to be around for I can’t just uproot on a wild goose chase.”

Brenda sat silent listening to how she hurt him. She had so many more secrets under her belt and if he knew them all. She was a alcoholic for almost thirty years how didn’t he understand. She’d gotten one of her biggest secrets out and at first she didn’t want to drink. Slowly these last few weeks she’d been dying for a drink. Nobody knew how far she’d gone to secure this moment. For years she’d been the one pleading for his love. He wouldn’t have left and that was just a bold lie. She wiped her eyes as she tried to not freak out and tell him everything. If he ever walked out her life she’d die. That’s how she truly felt because love like theirs never truly left. So much of her stomach cramped thinking about him knowing everything. As she reached over she grabbed his hand. “Lowell threatened me for Lauren.”

“He found me crying outside of here. I think he was coming here for one of your legendary fights Walter. Then I blurted it out and told him. I don’t know why because he wasn’t really here for me. He told me that I wouldn’t ruin Lauren’s life. He respected her and threatened to tell Steven so Lowell is at fault but I was weak also. I couldn’t give up the life of a Kincaid at that time. Now I can I’m queen of Atlas Falls and I stand on my word to say I love you. So he did what he thought was right and I think it’s not his fault. It’s mine now blame whom you want but I’m telling you I gave her up. He helped me hide her but I gave her up. Now if you hate me then hate me. My children will always love their mother and as much as you think that they’ll turn their back on me. For once I think they’ll understand why I’m so lost. Why I drink every night to numb the pain inside of me. I’m dying because I want her. I want to have a piece of our love right here in Atlas Falls. I deserve her and you do too. If Braden and Dani can’t see you are amazing man and how they don’t understand what happened. Lauren had you first but I always had you. So don’t sit here and pretend that I’m not a good person. I was drunk okay. I told her out of hatred that she has your kids and you and everything that I need to survive. I needed you and I never had you so don’t.” She stopped knowing she was putting on quite a performance but the words were from the heart.

“So don’t just hate me because of what I did. I did it to free you and I’m free now of Steven. Now that I know Gideon did it. I’m free to be with you and isn’t that all we’ve ever wanted?” Brenda said snatching his drink and guzzling it down. “I haven’t had a drink in weeks. Weeks and now look at me. I’m back to that girl but it feels so good going down and it makes me feel so good to have something that will never let me go. A bottle of booze I’m a country girl. I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhoods but I fought my way to the top baby. I fought and I’m fighting for this love we feel but if you can’t be here for me. Then just tell me now and I’ll find my baby all alone.”

Walter looked at her broken down in front of him confessing she hadn’t taken a drink in weeks and he was proud of her he always thought she drank a little to much . It was none of his business back then she was married and if anyone should have been helping her through it was Steven. He wondered if she ever got help his family had been through addiction so many times with Tamara over the years, at one point part of Lauren’s family struggled with it as well. He wondered if that was one of the reasons he and Lauren were so cautious with Braden and Dani growing up and he pushed the thought aside grateful that neither of them ever went down that path. He took out his phone texting hsi press secretary and asking him if he could run things for a few days at the very least or longer so that he could go on this journey with her. Once he saw the three dots and the text back that they could hold things down at home and perhaps even spin this to an advantage he looked over at Brenda squeezing her hand.

“We’ll do this together and then figure out everything else with Lowell’s involvement afterwards.” Walter said knowing that right now he had to do what was best for her and their daughter it wasn’t like he was involved with his other daughters life right now, Braden wasn’t speaking to him either. He was still angry about what happened with Lowell wondering why Lowell would protect Lauren of all things. He had to wonder if Lauren knew about it all as well if she had pushed Lowell to help her he wouldn’t put it past her or their marriage. They had put each other through the ringer over the years and after the fall out from DGI he always wondered if she still had latched onto that friendship that they shared with Lowell and Jackie back then. “I want to find her too. Make sure she is alright and then we can see what she wants to do. When do you want to leave?”

“Tomorrow night.” She said softly looking at him. “We will track our baby down and soon enough we will be a family. You let me handle Braden and Dani because they seem to be ungrateful that you’ve made their lives so beautiful. I catch myself thinking about if I had Braden and Dani. I find so much jealousy in Lauren has my life. I was greedy back then and I wanted mansions, money, and cars. Well that got me a lifetime of heartache with Steven all I can do is show you.” She woke up alone so many nights thinking of what her life would have been if she would have just choose Walter. “I need to find her and tell her how much she is loved and she came from love.” Brenda stood up as she turned his face so that he would look at her. “Walter no matter what I float when I am around you. Sometimes it feels like gravity isn’t even taking effect on me. When I’m with you. Walter I have never stopped loving you and won’t.”

Leaning down she took his face in her hands touching his silky beard and mustache. Then she leaned down and kissed him passionately. “I won’t tell your secrets anymore and I promise you that I will help. I will help repair your relationships with your children because if I have too I’ll ruin my relationship with mine. To show you how much am on your side and together we will finally have our happy ending.” Grabbing her purse Brenda storms out of the pub with a wicked smile on her face. Soon there child will be the most important thing to Walter and when Dani and Braden come around her family with him will be formed. She had no intention to go see those sanctimonious brats. She would do what she had to do make sure Lauren was a figment of his past. Scrolling through her phone she found the number she was looking for. She heard that Cassie got a promotion.

“Hello, Cassandra darling I have exclusive tip for you. Walter and I, Brenda Kincaid have a child a daughter somewhere out there. Run with it and I’m not to be exposed at all matter fact I need you insinuate that it was Lauren in this expose. A scoop like this will make your career. Let me tell you a little story of the past. This isn’t to be used until Thursday, Walter and I will be out of town. Good that you agreed darling you do what you have to get your happy ending remember that.” Brenda smiled walking off as her driver opened the door to the limo. Stepping inside she knew part two of her plan was in full affect.


Looking around the cottage she loved her new home. It took a long time to decorate it the way she wanted. At first she was lost because who was she if not a wife? A wife to a man who she’d lost a long time ago. As she looked around she smiled because she felt at home in this new skin. Her hair pulled into a messy bun, overalls, and flip-flops. Her therapist had told her to paint her emotions. Art was something she hadn’t explored in years. When she was younger she was quite the accomplished artist. She created some stunning work and she had stopped when Victoria died in that car accident. It was as if the color had been sucked out of her life honestly. She didn’t remember much from that night but she knew Forbes Montgomery was leaving town and saved her life. The tea kettle whistled at her as she walked to the kitchen and she wondered what was next in her life? After Brenda exposed Walter for the man that he truly was she thought about staying but it didn’t fit right in her soul. So in a month she packed up everything she needed. Then she stayed at Hotel La Gordia before she found the cottage. After a conversation with Walter he offered to pay for it but she refused. After all this time he didn’t understand she didn’t want alimony or anything from him. She didn’t want his hand in marriage anymore and she didn’t want him in her life. Pouring the tea in a cup she smiled it was hers. This entire home was all hers.

She sketched a night she wanted to forget but that car accident she had so many questions about that night. Dipping her paintbrush in the purple she started painting the sky which was so beautiful that night. When she stopped she put down her paintbrush trying to rack her brain on what exactly happened. She always wondered as she walked to the telephone she texted Forbes Montgomery. They bumped into each other at La Callie when she was with Dani for breakfast once. Dani despised him but was shocked to hear he was the reason she was alive today. He pulled her from the wreckage of that car accident. She wanted to meet him and discuss what happened that night. As she looked in the mirror she smiled at herself. Touching her skin softly she wasn’t twenty anymore but she was aging gracefully. Something she often wondered was who would want a middle-aged woman? How was she too move on at this stage of her life? Maybe she wouldn’t not because she couldn’t get over Walter but because she didn’t want to be disappointed this badly again. Marriage wasn’t in her future at all because she was happily free right now. Seeing Braden pulling up in his SUV she smiled brightly as Dylan and Maddie burst out the car.

When she saw Dylan outside with Maddie on the tire swing they put up earlier in the summer. She smiled seeing her her son outside laughing with the kids. Braden was chasing Maddie and Dylan. “Hey leave those kids alone you’re old now you’ll never catch them.” She laughed slapping her hand against her pants. Walking into the kitchen she grabbed a pitcher of lemonade and cookies for the kids. Sitting it out on the porch she waved at Dylan blowing a kiss at him. As her handsome son approached her. “What brings you out in the outskirts? Oh my God it’s family day isn’t it at the rehab? I’ll go get dressed okay.”

Braden put his car into park staring at Dylan and Maddie in the backseat and then took a breath how had he got here? Co parenting while Selina left with Chauncey of all people, he tried not to think about her and how she had walked out without so much a warning or word. He hadn’t even been granted the grace of a phone call he’s returned home to an empty bedroom everything of hers was gone. He then had to hear about her new overseas romance on the news and at that point he’d had enough filing the papers and the moment she’d come back she’d be served. He knew they saw things differently when it came to Jamal but never did he honk she would leave him, Dylan and more Maddie for her own ego over DGI. He never thought she’d start an overseas affair with a crowned prince either but she did. And that was the moment that sealed the deal for him to file that she would cheat on him that ruined him way more than her living. So instead he went to focusing in on what he could control and help with. Clearing Jon’s name and helping Tamara in rehab, helping his mother with her divorce and being there for his sister.

The cottage was the perfect size for his mom three bedrooms and two baths quaint with views for her to start over something he knew she needed to do. There had been too much hurt between his parents now that he knew what his father had done all those years with Brenda and they needed a fresh start his mom especially. Walking to the front door he saw Dylan and Maddie go to the swing their innocence and youth still there and saw his mom dressed to paint on the porch and followed her inside to the kitchen. Taking a glass from her as she poured it and looked over the fridge and the new memories on it. The old family photo was still on the mantle and his stomach knitted as he saw the one of his and Selina’s wedding day. He had been preparing for a few weeks to tell her and now he had too. He’d heard from a friend at the State Department that she was coming back to town. Meaning he could hand her the papers and expedite them to eat filed.

“It is but I wanted to have Dylan come by and see you before we left to head up. I think this time you need to stay here you’re finishing up that painting and I need to talk to Tamara myself alone today. I’m thinking of letting her stay with me and Dylan at the house when the halfway house says it’s okay too” Braden said looking at her and then seeing her face knowing what she was thinking about Selina and him. It was over there was no going back for him after the way she left the hurt she caused him and her son and he shook his head at his mother. “It’s over for me and Selina mom It was over the moment she walked out of mine and Dylan’s life. She’s fucking some prince now couldn’t even face me and I just can’t anymore with her mom. It hurts to much and maybe this is karma you know for what I did at her wedding to Chauncey but I can’t anymore.”

Lauren knew it was coming and her heart hurt for her baby. Braden didn’t deserve that at all and it made all her emotions wretch up about her very own divorce. It was final soon and it killed her that she stayed after year after year. If he had to choose between Brenda and her then he shouldn’t have choose her. Brenda was the worse type of woman and it made her seem like a virus who infected the man she loved. She wasn’t a option and that was the truth for Braden too. As she looked at his eyes he looked hurt but it was something she saw behind his eyes. It was relief and she hadn’t noticed it before but something about Braden with Selina wasn’t as happy as either of them thought. Sometime the love is in looking at what you don’t have. Once they had each other neither of them know how to sustain that love. She touched his hand and nodded looking at his eyes. “I understand she hurt you and whatever is happening you two need to make it work because those kids are brother and sister now. Chauncey is being obliging by letting Maddie come around I expect you to work it out with Selina just as much. She’s a snot but I think she’s quite a good influence on our shy boy Dylan. He’s opening up and showing so many different sides of himself. I mean lacrosse? I never would have thought it.” Lauren wasn’t going to get into Selina with some princes or whatever it wasn’t her business. Braden would have to deal with the consequences of his choices now.

Now that was quite a turn around about Tamara, Lauren thought to herself. “You two have been spending a lot of time together. I mean Tamara is getting better and I have always been a fan of her. I hate to say it baby the pressure of being a Fraiser may have pushed her into drugs harder. The pressure of living in the shadow of the great Selina Delacroix may have hurt her. If you are going to go on the merry-go-round when she comes back in town, then don’t move that girl in. You are going to give her everything she has everything she wanted but to be cruel and Selina cries and bats an eye and you’re under her spell again. Tamara doesn’t deserve that and I care for Selina just as much but no. If you are still that fool for Selina don’t do it.” Walking back in she went to her painting and started to tap her foot. “Don’t be him Braden! Don’t be Walter! You pick and you stick with a pick. I could have had a much different life. I could have went to Europe and saw art and fell in love with French starving artist. You say you’re over her but know you are and don’t trick yourself into believing it. Know that it’s over.”

“She didn’t just hurt me mom she left me and worse hurt Maddie and Dylan in the process. They needed her this summer and she wasn’t there for them. I could maybe get over her hurting me but my son? The person I care more about than anything in the world. No it’s over now. That doesn’t mean Maddie and Dylan can’t still be friends or semi siblings but I won’t put him through that again.” Braden said it felt good to say that outloud to someone that wouldn’t look at him like he was a loser for giving up so quickly the fact that his mother seemed to never judge him or his sister for their choices seemed to influence how he parented Dylan. His mother always put the needs of her children first and this was what he had to do this time with Dylan put him first before Selina and Tamara and the way to do that was to ensure that he and Selina divorced. “He’s had to grow up fast this summer hell even bore that mom and if therapy taught me anything working the steps with her this summer was that we were both at fault for that. I want him to be a kid again if that’s lacrosse which you can blame Brock on by the way then I want that for him.”

He paused when his mom mentioned that he and Dylan had spent a lot of time with Tamara that summer which they had, the rehab facility he found the best in Atlas Falls insisted on it especially when it came to family therapy. They had to peel back the layers to see their own dysfunction and he was a part of that enabling Tamara, placing her and Selina against each other at times  just as much as she was for using. Hopefully according to the counselor they were working with those triggers now could be addressed in a healthy manner. “It won’t be a merry go round this time I changed the locks the moment she moved out. I can send her anything she wants in the divorce what matters right now is making sure Tamara stays healthy and maybe I don’t know therapy has opened that back up. At one time I loved her I was going to marry her and maybe instead of giving up so quickly on that I don’t know. Life maybe would have been different.” He said following her to the other room he pulled up a chair and sat next to her looking at the painting he remembered that night. He had been at a baseball game, his parents drove separately to the event. Dani was in the car with his mother he shook the memory away and then looked at his mother to reassure her. “It’s over I’m a hundred percent sure of that now I promise.”

“Then I support you moving forward and I honestly always thought you did give up on her too fast. I just want you to know that if you open your heart up to her, she deserves all of you. If you think it feels right with her then you may have to woo her again. You ever think of that?” She laughed as she picked up her paintbrush. “God I remember what it was like to be in that place. I was going to walk away from your father when you were a baby. I should have and I suggest you go with your gut. I’m glad because your two sisters wouldn’t have been born but I think if I would have left to Europe with you. Well I would have been much more complete.” Lauren said as she saw Maddie and Dylan eating the cookies and drinking lemonade. As she touched his hand she nodded at him. “I don’t want you think you failed because sometimes two people grow so far apart. They never can find the space between them again.” Lauren looked at her son and smiled brightly as she saw so much of herself in him.

“You have a huge heart Braden but don’t forget common sense. You married a woman on another man’s wedding day. It seems like it was bad karma huh now but you should have saw how badly that could have turned out. You two were in love but sometimes love isn’t enough. I hope you finally get a happy ending. I hate how Dani spent this summer alone but she stood by her love. That’s what you need to do. You need to learn how to stand by someone because Braden you got your father’s anger fuse. You get so worked up but I want you finally take your time. Take your time and open up for real. Do these women know how funny my son is. Or how compassionate you are? Open up because son that will sustain a relationship and happiness.” Touching his hand she pointed over at the wall. “I finished that painting I was doing a couple of months ago. I want you to take it home and show Tamara when the time is right huh?” The painting of Dylan holding his own hand at different stages of his life.


The fresh roses and flowers she planted in the garden almost three months ago had bloomed. Here she was again at another halfway house on another family day. Trimming the roses she placed them in a vase and walked to her room. She was so excited to see her son. He’d gotten taller since the last time she saw him. He had that dreamy California surfer guy thing going for himself. She knew that he was going to break some hearts this year in high school. Tamara also knew that this was the last time she could get away with drugs without him hating her. Dylan finding her was a wakeup call. He’d matured so fast because between being a latchkey kid, and having a junkie for a mother he had to grow up. Now he was on the lacrosse team and doing things she didn’t think he’d like. Like sports her son was now playing on a sports team which made her freak out a little. Her baby wasn’t a baby anymore. He was a growing teenager and now he was becoming a teen who was at that preppy ass school. Why did Walter have to put him in that academy?

She settled in on a sundress, a pair of cowboy boots, and silver accessories. Once she dressed she paced for a good twenty minutes. Would he love her? Would he be angry? He’d seen her once since the overdose and he was truly supportive but over the summer break he’d worked at the firestation with Brock. Braden said he had all these abs now and girls were calling nonstop. He even had to give him the talk to which Dylan covered his ears and texted Maddie through no doubt. Her baby wasn’t a baby anymore but she was ready to see the grown man he was becoming. As she walked downstairs she saw Tisha and Shelby with their kids. Women just like her who were pushed into many different drugs. Tisha was an alcoholic and Shelby abused opioids. Waving at the little kids she stopped in her tracks seeing them. That couldn’t be her son. It couldn’t he was so tall from just the last time she saw him and so big. Then Maddie dear God did she develop overnight? They weren’t the cute thirteen year olds anymore they were fourteen and puberty was taking hold. Walking up to her son she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly.

“Geez you’re about to be taller than me kid.” Then she spun Maddie around and gasped. “I saw pictures of your momma. She was stunning and you look just like her.” She smiled at them as she looked at Dylan. “Kid what’s been going on. I know we talk on the regular but I can look in your eyes now. I can see what’s a lie and what’s the truth. Plus Maddie can’t hold water.” Tamara said teasing as she wiped happy tears away.

“I can hold water, I kept it a secret that you’re in a poor rehab facility.” Maddie said looking around as she felt Dylan pinching her. “Oww that hurts and I’m going to get some lemonade and cookies.”

Dylan laughed at his mom partly embarrassed as he looked back at his father who was hanging back for now. They had talked about the trip to the halfway house a lot over the week and he had made the decision to go. No pressure from his dad or his grandparents if anything they had been supportive of his mom’s recovery too. They had texted a lot and she no doubt knew about the summer he spent at the firehouse which was cool the pay was meager but the reward was something he would cherish. He had a whole other respect for first responders like his uncle and it had allowed him to work out enough to try out for the lacrosse team. Atlas Falls Preparatory Academy was something he knew would help him immensely in college they had a great music program and he finally got to come out of his shell with lacrosse thanks to Brock, Zach and his dad working on his game that summer.

“Mom don’t I’m not a little kid anymore.” He said feigning embarrassment from her over the fawning and fussing, it was true he was in high school now. He also thought his mom looked good this time and he knew now that she was soon going to be out on her own, meaning they had to figure out living arrangements again. She had no job, his dad was trying to get her nursing license reinstated but it would take time. “I’m excited about school me and Maddie went on our official orientation a few days ago. We’ll go school shopping in about a week maybe you can come too if they’ll let you.” He stopped seeing her face not sure if he said something wrong. “Dad said it was okay as long as it was okay with them.”

“I would love to see what you are wearing now. Oh the clothes you must have to have now and all that teenage stuff. I can’t wait to experience it because I’ve been stuck here. I never thought that I’d miss going shopping with you.” She said wiping her eyes turning around so he didn’t see her all emotional. “I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to cry but I keep missing so many moments in your life. I keep showing you that I’m not dependable. I want you to lean on me and I know I’m going to be on your side. Understand how much I’m sorry for happened to me and how it’s affected you. I messed up baby but I promise this time I’m going to get back on track. I’m going to get myself together and keep it together.” She said with a sweet rasp. “I love you.” She kissed his forehead softly as she messed up his perfect hair.

“So sorry baby.” She stopped from saying sorry over and over. “You’re about to be in high school a little grown man. And I just want to be the best mom I can be for you. So tell me any girls you interested in. At least the princess isn’t a option because you’re like brothers and sisters. I am so wanting to know what’s going on with you. What’s the 411, what’s the tea, and I all that good stuff yo.” Tamara said teasing him. “So any thots that’s what you kids are saying right now.” She laughed trying to be hip folding her arms in a hip-hop style. “Lisa puts me up on what you kids are saying and doing uh-huh.”

Dylan let his mom fuss over him he knew she was going through a rough patch and he didn’t have it in him to tell her the clothes were pretty boring at school he wore uniforms now. He looked at the surroundings again watched some families interacting, it all seemed so semi normal but it wasn’t as well. He watched as his dad stayed back talking to a lady who he assumed was in control of the halfway house or at least ran it, likely checking on his mom’s status. He didn’t want to get his hopes up about his parents but ever since Selina had been gone he felt like something changed in his dad like he was more accepting about his mom and maybe even like he wanted to be with her again. It meant that it made things awkward with Maddie too who felt like Selina had abandoned her too, it had been a lot to process and he smiled at his mom.

“Lacrosse tryouts went well coach really thinks that I’ll excel at it. Clothes are not that cool there right Maddie? Rumor has it they are pretty strict about that and mom please don’t try that again.” He said with a laugh as his dad finally approached them and he looked between the two not sure if he and Maddie should stay or give them some privacy or not. He looked at his dad and he swore he wanted him and Maddie to leave but was too polite to say so, instead he said the first thing that came to mind. “Dad and Selina are getting a divorce you should probably hear that while you’re in here. Even if Dad says you need to focus on rehab and recovery I want you to know that.”

Tamara looked up at Braden and her eyes got big. He’d been keeping this a secret for a long time. They were divorcing and she was hurt for him and seeing the embarrassment waving off his body. She warned him that little miss uppity would hurt him and here he was with egg all over his face. As she looked at Dylan pinching Maddie she grabbed her sweater and became sad. This wasn’t what she wanted. For once she was looking for her friend to come back not her ex-fiance. She slipped on her sweater and nodded at the kids to leave them alone for a few seconds. As she fiddled with her fringe on her sweater she laughed. “I remember when I got this you used to say I looked like a New Yorker who got lost in Nashville. I’ve been hooked on something my whole life. When I was younger it was attention and I loved to go out and dance. I loved to move and everyone look at me like I was the belle of the ball. Then I it was coke because I needed a bigger high and then it was you. I hate that you finally umm are at a point where you are in rehab baby. Rehab in your relationship. I hope you and Selina can fix it because you deserve to be happy. I was really ugly and hateful to you about her. I want nothing but you to be happy.” Tamara truly meant it she prayed that they could fix it honestly.

“Our son seems to think because you are getting a divorce that maybe something can happen between us. We are friends and that’s it Braden. That’s all I need because for once I want to get my life back on track. I don’t want to be around drugs, I just want a fresh start. Listen it was a time I thought we belonged together. It truly was but right now I see you are my friend. You’ve been amazing and I know it’s hard to build trust in a place like this. I promise this is the last time because he doesn’t deserve that anymore. Coming a place as nice as this is. Coming here to see his mom. I thank you because I see I’m missing my sons life and I can’t do that anymore. I finally can say it Braden. I’m a junkie and I’m a recovering one that wants to fix our friendship.”

Braden knew what Dylan was implying and maybe a part of him had been thinking about it over the summer. The progress they had all made in rehab how he had been there for her this time and he had started to see some of what he once loved in her again. He’d avoided it all summer what he was starting to feel for her so instead he focused on on helping his mom and other people like Jon. It hadn’t changed though that inkling was still there and part of him was sad when she said they could only be friends now. They had been friends once before and he nodded at her and knew from talking to her sponsor that was what she needed right now. A relationship right out of rehab was not a good idea and he knew that plus he needed to end his marriage officially to Selina to move on with her. He wouldn’t do what she was with the prince not after everything he had seen his father do. Rubbing his hands on his pants he chose his words carefully.

“I don’t want to fix my marriage to Selina and it has nothing to do with you this time. The way she left me and Dylan it’s too much Tamara and the moment she gets back I’m serving her.” He said quietly he took a breath not sure how to say the next part to her. She had no job at the moment he was trying to get the medical board to give her license back but it would take time. Her sponsor said she was ready for the next step a new place to stay and to look for a job and he wouldn’t and couldn’t have her on the streets. “I made a few calls in to the medical board and I came here today to say that I want you to come stay with me and Dylan when you get out of here full time. You need to be around him full time he is a part of this too. It is I think for the best for everyone and Selina won’t be there to make you feel like you don’t belong there.”

Tamara had been waiting over ten years to hear that. If she was in the same place of last year she might have ran into his arms. Tried to kiss him and fall into his arms. She wanted to be strong for herself and that was the honest the God truth. He finally saw that he and Selina were oil and water. The just didn’t mix and no matter how much love they had their lives were too far apart. She had to stand on her own this year without love of a man. The only man she was focusing on was the one who was developing in front of her Dylan. She swore she saw a streak of sadness when she stressed they were only friends. Twisting her dress in her hands she blinked over his proposal about moving in she turned around. Before she know it she was sobbing because all she wanted was them to be a family. Now he saw the benefit of them being a family but she didn’t want to ruin it.

“I’m um getting out in a couple of weeks. I would love to be there and watch our son grow up.” Running her hands through her hair she walked up to Braden and hugged him tightly. She recovered because of their love and honesty about how her using made them feel. Tamara never knew it affected Dylan so deeply and God Braden fear about finding her dead overdosed was chilling. Therapy had saved all their relationships with each other. She was sick of fighting for time with Dylan and fighting with Braden. She hadn’t let him go because honestly she did love Braden hell she never stopped. He had a keeper and truly didn’t know how be grateful with what they had. She was also young and suppressing her insecurities in drugs which didn’t help their relationship. “Thank-you.” She said pulling back as she smiled at him. “I’m sorry about Selina and you. She doesn’t know that you were all for her but I do. I know you love her undying but sometimes women don’t know they have exactly what they need. I promise I won’t hurt our son ever again. I won’t hurt your trust in me I think this time I’ve conquered the beast inside of me.”


A Rolls Royce pulled up on the spiral driveway where the chauffeur pulled up to the staircase of the new Montgomery mansion. As the driver stepped out of the car he walked to the passenger side of the backseat. When he opened the door a sparkling diamond pair of Christian Louboutins stepped out as Greer stepped out. She was wearing a nude illusion Gucci party dress with swarovski crystals covering her body. Wearing her hair in a 40’s style finger waves with pin curls falling on her shoulders. With a sparkling glittering red lip Greer was ready to meet Chauncey but she’d been summoned by none other than Forbes. Her nails sharp as talons claws and her eyes were painted to look very Jessica Rabbit. Walking up the stairs the door opened and she was impressed. He was prompt but her father would be late no doubt because he didn’t like being summoned. She never understood how these two egomaniacs got together to come up against Lowell. Slipping her mink stole shawl off skin Greer narrowed her eyes as she looked around. No one yet?

“My father told me to give you this.” Philip said rolling up and giving her a glass of champagne. “I have to go but damnit if I can’t say you look delicious.”

Greer took the glass of champagne from Philip and she winked. “I hate that they took your legs beloved.” Her natural French accent seductively rolled off her tongue. “I assure if you were walking you might be the one undressing me tonight.” Taking a sip of champagne. As she walked into the living room she sat down and heard Philip welcoming someone else. Twirling her champagne glass between her finger. When she looked up her father stood in front of her and he was handsome as ever. “Papa, why are we here? I refuse to be summoned because tonight I had plans. As you can see, no?”

Pierre had gotten the summons a few days ago and he always knew this day would come when it concerned he and Greer, when they had agreed to the charade he knew it was always a possibility. Meaning he always had a backup plan in place he’d putten a call into a mutual friend. A friend that was far more on his side against Lowell than they ever were on Forbes. Zerick had yet to do anything but he knew that was a lost cause with Greer and Zerick as a team, he was firmly on team Forbes. Greer would always be on his side, Zerick may of been seduced by Forbes but he was not his blood. Not in the way that Greer was with him that was a bond that not even Forbes himself could break and he’d made sure of that at an early age. He walked into the mansion looking at the great Philip Montgomery and almost sneered that was the problem with Forbes to him his own children were casualties. Had one of Lowell’s children shot Greer well he wouldn’t have let them leave the country let alone still breathe air meaning he had to wonder what Forbes was up to the game plan going forward.

“I have no idea my dear but do remember we are in a house of snakes.” Pierre said going to her and kissing her cheek and then the other a custom they had back in France. He pulled back and looked at the dress clearly she was headed to another engagement and he had to wonder if it was with Chauncey or not their goal was still the same target the oldest Devonshire boy and make him fall madly in love with her. Making sure he did anything that Greer would ask of him, he’d seen that fire between two people before he and his beloved Agnes had it. Chauncey would be eating out of her hand as soon as they finished with him. He was about to say more only to have Philip roll up to them with the waitstaff and he took a glass of champagne from the tray. “Do tell us Philip why have we been summoned here? You have to know about all your father’s agendas and plans and like Greer has stated we have other thing ons to do and take care of than be in this God awful gothic looking house.”

“My father will be downstairs. I know very little of his plans and I suggest you both wait. He gets very annoyed when things don’t go his way.” Philip said rolling away as he went to the elevator his father built in the mansion for him. Pressing the communicator he spoke into it. “They are here father and they aren’t patient. Hurry before Greer or Pierre leaves.” The elevator door closing.

Forbes walked downstairs watching his son go upstairs. It was painful to see his eldest son in a wheelchair. He vowed he would make Bliss, Hunter, and Max pay for that. All his life Devonshire’s had taken from him and now they took his boys legs. No those three would feel his wrath especially Max he had a special hate for that Helen of Troy. He’d carried a heavy cross for these last few months. How badly did he want to dismantle everything Chauncey Devonshire was doing. It was cruel world and he would teach each Devonshire that. As he opened the sliding doors of the living room looking at both of them he smirked. Greer was her mother’s daughter because Agnes was a temptress much like this young woman who stood before him. Pierre’s look of contempt he knew soon it would be either him or Pierre. That man never had a loyal bone in his body.

“You know everyone wants to rule the world. Not many have the smarts and strength to do it. I sleep and breathe destroying the Devonshire’s. I’d betray my own children and wife to get my revenge. I waited patiently for months on months until Lowell turned back. I mean why wouldn’t I? I had to see his face when I dismantled his company. You know I found Dimitri Kavanaugh in Ilsa De Cruces and lead him to something very precious to them. That’s not the point you don’t know all my plans. I suggest you don’t get comfortable with Chauncey, Greer. Matter of fact I think both of you should leave Atlas Falls. I mean Chauncey losing you would be quite a blow and while distracted I can snatch pieces of that damn company from his hands. Or you could just sabotage them. I don’t care how you get his mind all twist Greer you just better do your part. Honestly I didn’t need either of you and I let you live. Don’t make me regret it. I will kill both of you if I don’t win this game. I see the future of MontCorp it’s me standing in the middle of DGI burning to the grown. I don’t care how you do it twit. You fucking make it happen. I want him to not know what hit him. I want his demons to spin inside of him and then I’ll snatch out his heart.” Forbes said looking at Greer twisted face. “You’re angry.” He laughed at her fury. “Tell her Pierre she doesn’t want to come against me.”

For three months Forbes waited since their last meeting. His enemy looking tired and worn but he was ready for a fight. That was sure and for the last three months his life had changed. Somehow he lost his daughter and the brutal fight they had about her being with that cop. Poor wasn’t what they did and he hated that somehow that cop had warped Cassie’s mind. On the other side he had a son who he groomed even more than he did when he was child. Philip being shot had changed him and the revenge was the only flavor he was interested in tasting. He fueled the abandonment of Max and how everyone left him in that wheelchair. That’s all he had to do because after that. Then there was his middle child who didn’t know she was his child. Forbes had invested a lot of money in her studio in the middle of Scottswood. However he was leading a secret plan with Walter to gentrify her neighborhood. He wouldn’t have his daughter shot and he would be visiting none other than Ronan Madden soon enough. Never would he threaten his blood or she wouldn’t have to pay some protection fees. No Montgomery would be afraid of a Madden. No it didn’t work that way. People feared the Montgomery’s not the other way around.

Greer’s top lip curled in disgust did he just threaten her? As she looked at her father she saw the hatred in his eyes. Standing up she looked at him and smiled. “Men like you think you beat your chest and everything works in your favor. You brought me here to act on your worst instinct fear. Am I supposed to fear you Mr. Montgomery?” Greer said walking around him fixing the lapels on his blazer. “I don’t take to being threatened Mr. Montgomery and I don’t take to being thrown out of Atlas Falls. I’m not you I don’t get forced out, I find a way to decimate my enemies now you said your peace. Let me say mine! I won’t be leaving town, I won’t be pushed, and I won’t take you threatening me or my father’s life. Trust me a whisper between the sheets I will burn down you and Zerick plans. Don’t threaten me again.” Drinking the rest of the champagne she dropped the glass on the floor.

“You should fear me little girl. I’ll break your neck before you ever climb into bed with Chauncey. Don’t forget this is your job not what’s real. Or have you forgotten that?” Forbes asked looking at Pierre.

Pierre looked at Forbes wondering what he could be planning after all these months, he had safeguards in place with he and Greer and he sneered at the man he agreed to this little coop with. He knew from Greer that it was Selina was Forbes latest pawn, she had Chauncey’s trust fully now at this point though the man had no clue what her real last name still. He looked at Philip and then his eyes narrowed back at Forbes, child play in his eyes he remained calm letting Forbes rant. His mind shifted however the moment he mentioned that he could have Greer and himself killed at any moment no one threatened his child, no one. Forbes was the same as others who had tried he’d take care of him slowly and painfully from the inside out. He’d make sure of it and the first part of that was making sure Greer stayed on track she was the only one that had remained on track in the entire rouse with Zerick. Zerick was the one that had slipped so far down the realm of what they were after he had fallen weak to Talia and Forbes was the only one that didn’t see it. He walked to Forbes placing himself between his daughter and Forbes and glared at him.

“The only one distracted in this game isn’t even at this meeting Greer has sacrificed everything we have asked of her to get to this point. Meanwhile your precious Zerick is just wandering aimlessly away at DGI while Greer is the one relaying everything we need. Don’t threaten my child again Forbes you won’t like the consequences when it happens.” He said coldly he shot a look at Greer for her to remain silent for the rest of the meeting it was in both their best interests and then cracked the knuckles in his hand. He walked away from Forbes and to the fire place it was better for them to end the charade with Forbes now and then strike on their own. “Honestly I’m a little sick and tired of waiting back in the shadows I did my due with those years in prison. You didn’t have anything ripped away from you, you just chose to ignore your children while you chased after whores in Europe after Audrey died. So let’s cut the shit shall we?”

“I left to Europe for power something you never had LeClerq.” Forbes said with a nasty tone. “I’ve spent a lifetime ammaculating my wealth and power to be able to crumble Lowell. Understand that I have the power not you so don’t you dare wonder about what I did in Europe. I made a fortune so that we are here where we are right now. I am shocked that you have the balls to dare even speak to me about my whores. My whores what about you Pierre? Shall we go down your history after Greer killed Agnes?” Forbes said with a bark knowing that he got underneath both their skin at one moment. “I threaten your brat because she is still engaged in a affair with Chauncey even when Zerick has said over and over it’s done. It’s done but since she’s still engaged in a relationship with Chauncey it’s something we all can use to get what we want.” He sat down looking at them.

“I was going to eliminate this part of the plan but since Greer has embedded herself into his life we can use it. I need you to talk Chauncey into part of the plan. I don’t need you here anymore Greer you are dismissed but don’t forget I’m watching you lovely. I must say you are looking more and more like Agnes which is ravishing.” He looked over at Pierre who was fuming knowing he hit him were it hurt. Agnes death ruined a good man but he’d be more hungry for revenge on Lowell to get to him.

Greer almost crumbled when he brought up her mother. How dare he? As she picked up mink she wrapped it around her shoulders and kissed her father’s cheeks. Walking to Forbes she slapped him as hard as she could then stormed away. Looking back at her father she saw he was telling her to leave. As she walked down the stairs with a fury. If Forbes Montgomery thought he was going to control the LeClerq family he was a fool. Walking to the Rolls Royce the driver opened the door and her face contorted in pure rage. Opening her purse she pulled out a small black book. Flipping through the pages she couldn’t believe what she was about to do. Her father might not forgive her but she had no choice. They were in too deep but he wasn’t. Dialing the international number Greer face flushed. “Bonjour, oncle Harvey J’ai besoin de votre aide. Père nous a mis au courant avec Forbes Montgomery.” As she drove the car drove off to meet Chauncey.

Pierre nearly snapped at Forbes and it took all his willpower not to go after him and choke the life right out of him he knew better though. Let people think they had you pinned and then strike a lesson he had perfected in prison, manipulate it to your advantage and make sure your hands were never dirty when the deed was done. Forbes words echoed in his head Greer killing Agnes in truth part of him always blamed Greer for that how could love something so little and innocent and yet hate that it existed at the same time for the love they took from you as well. He had instead turned to Lowell and hurting DGI and then it all fell apart when he was sent to prison not Forbes or anyone else the worst part his brother making sure he went to prison. Having Harvey turn evidence on him for DGI had killed him and then letting Harvey be the one to try and raise Greer until he got out had defined his entire life. He boiled the rage and the anger down at all of it instead he looked cold as ice at Forbes their arrangement was over he would act the part and play it all perfectly as he handed the glass to Philip who sneered at him from his chair insolent fool.

“I see we no longer have business to discuss Forbes how about you keep the son you really wanted all those years in check and no I don’t mean you Philip always for the redheads and how you wished you were the man Katie wanted. I’ll worry about Greer and we can see which one will come out on top when it concerns turning Chauncey to our side.” Pierre said looking at Forbes and then down at Philip for his reaction so he didn’t know about Katie Davis such a shame he’d have to inform the man. He saw Forbes glare at him and he almost threw his head back to laugh but instead he resisted he had the ultimate trump card in play at the moment and when it struck Forbes wouldn’t’ know what hit him. “I was hoping to see dear Cassandra again I did love our chats when she was visiting last year and we spoke. Such a pity that the one child that can stand you can’t even stand for your company anymore. Rumor has it that you disowned her for that such a shame she could have given that tart Max what she really deserved for shooting your son. I’ll see myself out. “ He finished watching the rage in Forbes and Philip as he took his coat from the staff and made his way out the door to the waiting car.

Forbes watched Pierre walk away and he felt himself getting infuriated. He was used to everyone bending at his command and seeing Pierre saying he quit. What became infuriated at the thought of it all. Was this Pierre declaration of war against them? What would he be planning and doing? Either way he knew that he was about to embark on a war with one less ally because he overplayed his hand. “Philip I’m going to destroy Pierre but don’t worry about what he said about Katie. I never cared about her like I did your mother. Your mother was a rare rose but I’m going to squash that man. I’m going to dismantle that man’s life and when I’m done. He won’t have a pot to piss in.” Forbes walked away knowing Philip had heard his past with Katie. He hated what happened to her and his anger was targeted at Lowell. A man who had done everything to sustain a secret. A secret that born his own son Zerick.


Dani looked around the train station from her seat inside one of the charging tables inside looking at her phone and then back at her laptop. Feeling a slight kick in her side she placed her hand there a small smile on her face they were kicking up a storm over the last few weeks. Tapping her foot on she saw the reminder on her calendar for her session with Kelsey pop up and then deciding between two active babies and her mind being a cluttered mess today work was not going to get done she shut the laptop. One month had turned to two, which led to three and while she was glad Jackson was finally coming home and that they did all the steps they were supposed to while he was away for his recovery she was exhausted. Her summer had been spent juggling work, therapy for her here with Kelsey for the kidnapping. The nightmares had snuck up on her to the point where she wasn’t sleeping well and she didn’t want what she went through to effect the healthy part of their relationship. Flying to Jackson when it was needed for his therapy too until Ophelia put her foot down and advised her to say here and looking up at the board she let out an exhale seeing his train number finally on the arrival board. She had sold the townhouse and moved into his crowded penthouse and she tried not to think about their future living arrangements after the twins were born because that felt like more stress.

She’d spoken to him mostly over facetime the last few weeks, sent him everything with the twins she could while he was in rehab, which was something his therapist encouraged. She had worried about that that rehab would break them, some therapists she knew from talking to Kelsey advised addicts to completely start over and she was grateful every day that he was gone that he refused and he got one that understood the crux of his addiction and really helped them with the distance between them while he was gone to build up the relationship again. She got up from the bench using the back of the chair for support. One of the things she had noticed was being pregnant all summer did it’s number on your body. She was exhausted, her feet swelling on and off and as much as she loved them both she would be glad when it was over. She had the envelope in her hand something she and Jackson agreed to open together when he got back to find out what they were having. She made her way through the crowd and spotted him, hair short from the summer something she would have to get used to and wrapped her arms around him when he walked to her dropping his bags beside her. She felt the kicking start up again and finally pulled back watching him look down at her stomach in amazement and she placed his hand there. “This one moves all the time. How was your flight? I didn’t have the driver come I hope that’s alright I didn’t think you’d want to deal with that yet. I know you said you wanted to get back to normal but it’s ok to take it slow going back to work. I’m sorry I’m rambling.” She finished not wanting it to be completely awkward between them but wanting him to feel good about being back and to go his pace.

The first month away from Dani was the hardest. It was detoxing from the drugs and pressure that was actually easy. It was hard to focus though because he was balancing his recovery with his longing to be home. For days he’d try to figure out if leaving was actually for the best. What sucked was Max left him and started her own adventure in Spain. She needed it but he was looking forward to actually having a summer with his twin. Yet she wasn’t an addict and had no reason to stay in the wilderness. Talking to Dani and facing that he did leave her in the most vulnerable time in their relationship hurt. However his sober coach and teachers all explained he could never be a good father in the state of flux he was in. One minute he was riding high on their love, and the next he was searching for a high in a drug. They taught him that he couldn’t use Dani as a crutch and he had to truly want to get better. Something he did want. He wanted so badly because he didn’t want to let his twin boys down. He just knew it was two boys it had to be. The second month he truly faced some demons that he hadn’t ever faced in rehab. They forced him to talk about not only about his brother but his father too. How all the comparisons made him feel and how much it destroyed his relationship with his eldest brother. They made him see that Chauncey was every bit as manipulated as he was. Something he hadn’t cared to see, Chauncey had to be perfect and he had to be the successor because of what their father put in them. They also made him confront the fact that he felt lesser than all his siblings. Why this feeling because of his father’s need to push him to be the best.

The third month was recovery and finally figuring out what type of person he wanted to be. He wrote in his journal everyday to his unborn twins. He called them thing 1 and thing 2 which he was sure Dani would hate. Talking to her was a breath of fresh air actually she always looked like she was glowing. Plus she kept him up to date on what was going on at DGI since she had his proxy to vote and do whatever to keep the energy deal going. The visits had stopped by the third month but that was fine. The babies were far more important than he was. Coming back in through New York was his sponsor idea. Then riding the train to Atlas Falls was smart. Nobody knew he was coming home and after three months he felt like it was time. He felt healthy, and his mind was so clear. It felt so good to be this man. Not the man he left as a broken boy. When he saw her she looked even more beautiful than he knew. Carrying the future of the Devonshire’s in her belly man that was enough to almost choke him up. When she placed his hand on the future soccer star of America he laughed. He couldn’t stop himself because didn’t know them as much as she did. They grew inside of her but he stooped down and spoke to them.

“Hey I’m your dad. I haven’t um been around to rub you moms feet or fix her those late night cravings for PB&J’s but I just want to tell you. I’m here for you three right now and forever okay?” Standing up he looked at her smiling both of them were wiggling and moving now. “I know you’re worried that the pressures of my job and the pressure of life in general can slip me up. I don’t know why but this feels so different. Everything in my soul feels different. I’m complete with a family, a future wife, and a job that I actually love. Last year I proved to myself I can do this. Not my dad, not Chauncey, and not even you accomplished my journey with finally becoming at peace with my future at this company. I’m sorry I left but I found me and I hope you can fall in love with this version or me. It’s still me, I’m just better now. I’m just happy now. Without drugs and with you.” He said wondering if she felt as strange right now as he did. It was a good strange but strange nonetheless. Awkwardly Jackson leaned in and kissed Dani. Then he did it again but this time he playfully slipped his tongue inside of her mouth. “I had to see if my girl was still there.”

Dani looked at him he’d apologized a lot for leaving over the last month it was part of the steps make amends and at first she was angry at him when he left and that was then curbed by getting her own help with Kelsey. She had issues too and it was nice to talk about those with her and get her own shit straightened out as well it helped and now she wasn’t angry anymore. It gave her a chance to talk about her issues with abandonment with her father’s expectations and Kendrick. Kelsey wasn’t sure there wouldn’t be triggers with her kidnapping with their intimacy but she figured when it came to that they would face it. When he kissed her it was awkward at first and then she just let go and returned the kiss wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer even pregnant aching to be with him. When he pulled back to speak she bit her lip at him smiling she was still there. “Still here. I know you’re better now and I just didn’t want to overwhelm you on your first day back going through the train was easier. We can figure out the work stuff when you’re ready everything’s on track.” She said stroking the back of his neck and laughing a bit. “I kinda like the shorter hair not gonna lie.”

“So how was the flight?I have the envelope it’s in the car and I repainted the penthouse, I needed something to do while you were gone. I don’t know if two cribs going to fit in there or not along with everything else and I wanted you to make those decisions with me. Ophelia says this is the fun stage of everything. I know you think you missed a lot but I’m so proud of you for doing what you needed for you. Even if you didn’t get to make amends to everyone on your list you did to me, we’re good or at least I think we are right?”  She watched him pick up his bags and took her hand in his so they could leave thankfully no one had spotted them yet to cause some media uproar. She said wanting to support him with this journey. Max and Bliss had went to some of his sessions. Rory flew out for one too. Jackie had come with her for the last one and the only two that never came even after he made those amend letters was Chauncey and Lowell. That was on them now she knew that he had done his part and it was the hardest thing she knew he did. “I really missed you and you’re still that man I love, just different in a good way and that’s all I wanted was to see this version of you. Anyway what do you want to do first? Are you hungry because I can always eat now, we could go home, a meeting it’s up to you.”

“My father and brother are unique cases.” Jackson had apologized to his entire family. He told his brother so much in that letter. How he always felt he couldn’t measure up to him. That he wanted to looked up to Chauncey so much in his youth. Somehow they forgot they were brothers and became rivals. He knew that Chauncey wasn’t ready to bury the hatchet because Jackson had ruined a lot of his life. Remembering how high he was at Chauncey graduation and other major events. He went to rehab right after Maddie’s birth and stole the attention from Lowell’s first grandchild and Chauncey first born. He’d done a lot just to feel important and Chauncey had reasons but his father he felt angry as hell. A anger that sat in the pit of his stomach because he did this to his brother and him. Chauncey and he would never had this long feud if he didn’t pit them against each other. For him not to come after he wrote how much he wanted to mend the relationship they had. It felt like someone shot him in the heart. “Actually I learned a couple of Spanish dishes and I want to cook for you.”

That was something he had never said. He always was more of a takeout king but this was a moment he wanted to give Dani something special. Jackson had always been materialistic but Dani loved the small things. “I cut my hair as a way to release some of the old Jackson. It was actually freeing to be someone new. The flight was fine long but fine, I got a text from Max saying she’s on her way back. Did I tell you that I’m going to take a load off you now that I’m home. It’s not hard Dani anymore to balance everything. I think it’s all about my stress and I have to remember these moments are more important than a high. I relapsed because I was afraid that I had lost you. I also relapsed because I was weak about my place in life. Drug addicts fall into things because they don’t know where to go. I have a sponsor, I have you, and I have the most important person in the mix myself. I have two lives to fight harder than ever.” Jackson arrived at the car and when Dani unlocked the trunk he threw his bag inside. “I brought you something also so how about this. Right now we find out were having a lacrosse star and baseball champ. Then I’ll give you your gift?”

“They’ll come around and you know what that’s on them if they can’t, they’re going to miss out on getting to know you the best parts of you. The people that matter are there for you me, your mom, Max and Bliss, Rory too. Speaking of Rory we should have him over he’s been really depressed all summer with everything that happened with Yasmine.” Dani said looking at him knowing how much Lowell not coming hurt him but they’d made it through and it was nice for him to open up to her in rehab about it. It was nice to hold his hand and walk through a crowded train station and not worry about someone snapping a picture of them, bombarding him with questions instead they just got to be together in tune and step and she couldn’t help the smile and the joy that it brought her. She didn’t know what happened with Rory and Yasmine and Yasmine hadn’t put her in the position to be in the middle either and she moved some hair behind her ear. “They still won’t tell me why they even broke up but I know he’s not taking it very well and if you want me to not talk to her or anything like that I will especially if that can trigger stuff with you. We’ve become friends and it helped to talk to her about everything with Kendrick she was there too. You cook now huh, I could get used to that. Especially right now when it feels like a chore for me to do it.”

When they reached the car she opened the trunk with her keys and watched him put the bags in the trunk before going around to the passenger side. This was the part she’d been looking forward to the most mainly because hiding the damn envelop in the trunk with the ultrasound pictures that she had Ophelia do over two weeks ago was driving her crazy, reaching inside she grabbed it. Between them both they had a bet going he said boys and she said girls, she hadn’t told him her entire family had bets going as well her mother right now in the lead with a boy and a girl but it was killing her not to know. She saw him reach for the envelope and playfully pulled it back from him watching the smile on his face and before she knew it he was pulling her to him and fighting for the envelope, in between shrieks of laughter she relented handing it to him as she watched him rip it open. There was no doubt on the pictures her mother was the winner and she looked at him and his face and couldn’t help the grin. “Looks like both of us were totally wrong. Pretty amazing right?” She said watching him look at the pictures in aw and then leaned in kissing him softly. “So about my gift where is it?”

Hearing his baby brother was going through his first real adult breakup hurt him. He remembered when he felt that pain and hell he had years more. He wondered if he should say something but at the same time he knew Dani might get more out of Yasmine. “Yeah ask Yasmine what’s going on. I don’t want to snoop in his life but the pressure on him I just don’t want him to get sucked into something like I did.” After a playful tug of war between them he almost cried when he saw it was a boy and girl. It made him think about his twin deeply. She was his rock the beginning of the summer and how she saw him as a great person. Max made him believe it and it was a bond his twins would have. A tear formed in his eye as he turned around to kiss Dani’s belly. “Wow a boy and girl. This is going to be something for my family to rally around. You are carrying the next generation Max and Jackson.” He laughed as he shook his head. “Scratch that they won’t be anything like us in our youth.” Jackson laughed as he kissed his love again. “You are so beautiful right now man I’m breathless and you want your gift right?

Jackson dug into his pocket and pulled out a black velvet bag tied with a gold ribbon around it. He untied the ribbon and slid out a triple diamond ring. One stone had a traditional princess cut, the next was a yellow diamond, and the third was a pink diamond. “I had it made in Spain by a man who has made my mother’s diamond ring from her and dad’s twenty year anniversary. He made her this yellow diamond chain and I knew he’d capture you perfectly. If it’s too gaudy or anything we can do something else Dani but I guess what I’m saying is will you marry me? Will you be my wife forever and ever. Will you hold me down when I don’t know if I can hold myself down. Much like you’ve already done. Dani I can’t live without you and I know you can’t live without me. This summer proved it because every moment I was away I was thinking of you and our children. I grew up in love but I never thought I’d grow up and see this. This perfect woman before me who has opened me up to the possibility that I’m so much more than a Devonshire. I was born to be with you, I was destined to love you. We can um be rewritten a thousand times and I think I’d find my way to you. So I’m asking again today with the sober mind and heart will you marry me?”

Dani watched him as he thought over the picture and she agreed with him their kids wouldn’t be anything like they were when they were younger. They would make sure of it and give them what they didn’t have growing up she made that promise to herself to not let her and Jackson be like their father’s were with them. Compared to the last time he proposed which she knew had been for the wrong reasons, this felt completely the right time and the fact he put so much thought into the ring was more than enough for her. It wasn’t gaudy or huge, it wasn’t a ring he had almost given to someone else it was hers. Hers and only hers and she couldn’t help it when she felt the sting of happy tears in her eyes, sure that it wasn’t just hormones this time as she nodded her head at him and let him slip it on her finger. “Yes of course yes.” She said leaning in and kissing him pulling back and handing him the keys, she wasn’t sure she could drive at this point she was so happy and she couldn’t stop staring at it. “Let’s go home.”