2×06 “It’s You”
Written by: Kelly Zollo and Chris Coleman
Warning: Episode may contain violence, language and sexual situations
Theme Song: Alica Keys- Like You’ll Never See Me Again
The funeral was covered with wall to wall factions of mobsters. Thor was almost shocked to see so many big influential people were here. Vladimir Stavridis was standing speaking with Kelly O’Connor, and Mavis Escobar was standing over speaking with other influential people. The cartel was in the building. The flow through New York was stagnant due to one person Don Falcone refused to let Madden push drugs through the city. He held a hate for father but oddly they had been invited to the old man funeral. That made him suspicious until this moment it was a goodwill gesture all around due to The Cartel stop selling to Don Falcone. It was a lot of bad blood but Gia was said to be in charge now. So her arrival as the signal of true change between the Falcone and Madden families. Thor nodded at them all with a stern glance at Vladimir who always gave him the creeps. He looked evil and that glare was so cold. It was something almost not human about that guy. Rumor had it about ten years ago he went to war with the O’Connors and it ended at the beginning of the cartel being formed. He tried to take over Cape Kenitrich from Kelly and it ended with him leaving and taking over the midwest. The truce has been lucrative for them by forming a cartel of enemies. During the infamous east coast vs west coast rap feud, it was escalated by his father going against The Bay’s very own Mavis Escobar. This blood feud died when his father did during Ronan’s courting by Kelly they brokered peace between them and Ronan became the east coast connect. It was history in the underworld.
Thor looked over at his brother and his breath was taken back. Damn nobody told them, Don Falcone, daughter looked like something out of an art portrait. She was stunning and just standing there with a veil that fell to the floor, along with a leather dress with a train longer than the veil. It was no doubt from Italy because the leather corset was impeccably made. He looked over at Ronan and wondered what he thought. She was something to look at because both of them were taken back. Thor had heard her beauty had gotten her the head of the Genovese faction her beauty caught them all off guard because she turned out to be a black widow. Thor was captivated but also cautious because plenty of men dicks had gotten them murdered. It was every day they were in the presence of a modern-day siren. He looked at Ronan and he knew what he was thinking. “Down doggy,” Thor said shaking his head.
Gia purposely ignored the two Madden heirs as they entered the funeral. Watching them pay their respects to the who’s who of mobsters in the United States and all over the world. Her father was beloved by many and hated by few. The room was hazy from cigar smoke her father’s favorite cigars from Cuba. Slowly making her rounds she saw people she hadn’t been around since she was a girl. Old hit men and others were the still in the game. Gun runners, drug dealers, and powerful politicians even sat at this funeral. Her father legitimized his business in the eyes of many. It was her grooming for the life of violence that got her ready to take over. She was now in many eyes one of the most powerful women in New York City. Manhattan was her playground but she wasn’t here for Manhattan she was here for the entire east coast. One man stood between her and that, Ronan Madden. Looking at him in person he was much more handsome than his pictures along with baby half-brother. Turning her body around she slowly slithering toward the Madden brothers. Approaching them she extended her hand which was wrapped in wrist length lace gloves and diamonds.
“Good evening welcome to the service.” Gia shook Thor hand as she leaned in to kiss both of his cheeks. Then turning to Mr. Madden her eyes locked in through the lace that covered her face. Her crimson lips painted glossily. “Mr. Madden I would like to speak with you alone. I know your brother is here. How about we all go have a drink in my office.” Basically saying that she knew he didn’t trust leaving Thor here with her men surrounding him. She sensually slinked toward the back never walking too fast or slow so neither men touched her gown or veil. Walking to her desk she pulled back the chair. Her eyes narrowed softly as she smiled at them. Carmine poured them all Manhattans drinks. “My father was a powerful man. I’m an even more powerful woman and our family history shouldn’t and if I have my way shall not stop us from making money. Money from Canada that the Genovese family has control of.”
Weapons had been checked as a sign of respect long before they even entered the reception for Gia’s father. Their weekend so far going off without a hitch he had even squeezed in a sit down with the O’Connors while he was here to make sure they knew what they did for him behind bars was appreciated. They still had one common enemy between them Vladimir and he assured Kelly that when the time came he would rally behind her part of the organization. He had been taken with Gia’s beauty first of all the rumors certainly didn’t do her justice. She was stunning in person and he saw Thor looking at him throughout the service he couldn’t help but stare at her not to mention find her attractive. Afterward, they had headed here and he was warned again by his dear friend Kelly that Gia was bad news, he was always a stickler for the wild ones he had told her. She should know that and he watched as she and Kevin left likely to catch a flight back to Florida, both likely tired of the northern weather and wanting to get back to business down south and in Chicago. He cautiously nodded his head at Gia as he followed her into the room and motioned for Thor to come where he turned to his brother as a sign of respect to her at the moment he would have him wait outside the door.
“I’ll be on the other side of the door try not to kill anyone while I’m inside,” Ronan said looking at his brother as he followed her inside the office. He waited a few moments as the man poured them both a drink and made note that she was trying to flex her power over the situation she still had living relatives to compete for the seat over control or the Genovese family, her brother being said roadblock. “I met your father once when I was younger. I make pretty good money where I am at in my own territory you seem to think that you have some control over your father’s territory if you were in control you would have asked for a meeting between all the heads. If you are looking for my backing on your inheritance I only bet on winners in this business. You have beauty and charm but you don’t have control so if you’re asking me to help you in your quest to the top my organization can’t risk that right now. The Feds just got a little too close for comfort over the last three years and I’d rather not involve myself in your family affairs.”
Gia tilted her head and wanted to laugh at his opinion on her power. She was flexing because she was powerful. She was the woman that New York needed. The audacity of Ronan to question her position. Gia was the last of the Genovese crime family and had been running it for the last two years. Her dear husband was in the Rosewood home for the invalids and disgusting creatures the world didn’t want anymore. As for the confusion over who was her father’s heir. She was the one and it wasn’t a competition between them. He wanted to exert his manhood but she’d slit his throat before her time was challenged. He’d back down and throw his power behind her if he wanted to live. Taking a sip of her drink she placed it down and looked at Ronan.
“My beauty nor my charm didn’t get me to where I am at in the food chain. I don’t need a man’s approval or backing because I have amassed a fortune with and without my father. My brother is petulant and his rage will do nothing but cause blood on the streets. No one will vote for my sister so who has left the imaginary sibling I don’t have. I don’t mean to be sarcastic but I didn’t invite you here for pleasantries. We don’t need to talk about my father because I’m the staring attraction right now. You don’t have to bet on me. I’ve bet on myself and won. I’m offering you New York and entrance into Canada now you can sit back and turn me down. Or you can listen and not judge what I’m offering. The thing about what I’m offering is my partnership and what the future will hold is doubling your profits. The Madden’s have never been able to sell in New York I’m opening the door.” Gia leaned back as she looked at him. “Can I have you respect me enough to know I’m the heir and I’m claiming my throne.”
He had been after New York and Canada for a while and the offer was tempting but he was going to be smart about it. People in his line of work just didn’t get to go into others territories without some sort of truce or agreement. He had heard rumors about her and her agreements and he was not going to be that to her he had only almost agreed to that type of arrangement once before in his life. He swirled his drink in his hand as he contemplated everything she was saying the problem was that right now he was being watched like a hawk and both he and Thor knew it. Kendrick’s demise had brought a ton of unwanted attention on him and his associates. Even his connections couldn’t deter the feds this time and his ties with law enforcement were quickly dwindling thanks to Gideon’s death. He used to have both him and Steven in his pocket that was gone now and he took a sip of his drink.
“And what kind of an arrangement would that entail. You and I both know that nothing is just cut and dry in this business. No one goes anywhere for free and you have yet to tell me what you want from me out of this deal. I would be the one taking more of the risk.” Ronan said trying to avert his eyes from her killer body even if he wanted her she was still very much so a married woman and that would not look well on him with the Cartel at all. He had earned his position and taking advantage of bedding her would reflect poorly on his family name. “You could have gone to Vlad or Kelly about this so why me and my organization. Whether you like it or not your brother has a claim to the organization blood will come in the streets unless you and he can work out an arrangement. I would advise you to get control of your brother before you pitch to the others.”
Gia listened to him and nodded her head. He hadn’t risen to the creme de la creme or the underworld for nothing. She did want something and it was a seat at the table. She wanted to play with the big boys and girls. No longer letting her father’s legacy block her. “I came to you with this for one reason. Our family connection and all the bad blood. I want to make it so that we can start anew. My father’s stubbornness gave way to blocking a deal years ago that would have made all of us rich and powerful beyond our wildest means. Hell, you wouldn’t have had to join the cartel if it wasn’t for us blocking New York and Canada. My father resented yours and I’m coming to you to say I hold none of that. I am hoping you can consider this a gold will.”
Folding her hands in front of her, her lips pursed. “My brother is under control believe that. He’s drunk and reckless right now. I doubt he’ll be able to run anything but his mouth. He’s arrogant and young thinking that because he’s a male heir that he gets the business. I assure you I’ll pull from the Chinese and Russians if they dare to back him. Leaving New York empty wasteland begging for one more hit. I would let every junkie and fiend wither away and then I would crush both the Chinese and Russians with my bare hands until dust remains.” Opening her hand she blew a kiss at Ronan as she blew. “So let me be frank I want to run Canada with the cartel and let your business flow through. We would have to deal with some of the Canadian runners and leaders but they fear me. They fear my reach and I hope this wasn’t a mistake. I didn’t go to Kelly or Vlad because you out of all the cartel members understand. You understand what it takes to be the best.”
Ronan took in her words he knew that Thor would say that it was stupid to get in bed with her both literally and figuratively but the appeal to go full on to Canada and New York was tempting. It was something that his father had dreamed of and now it could be a reality if he wanted it to with precautions of course. That meant that for now, he would entertain a few more meetings with her have her down to Atlas Falls and make sure that it was a legitimate offer. He could settle down the cartel if needed he had the connections and the means and avoid the bloodshed if needed. That was something he didn’t need the bloodshed, the Feds were right up his nose at the moment and he doubted they would be leaving him alone anything soon. Meaning things got riskier just like attending the funeral for her father where they all knew that they were likely outside waiting on them now and he finished his drink placing it down on the desk next to her.
“I see that you make a very tempting offer on all fronts. I’ll tell you what come to Atlas Falls for a meeting with me on my home territory I can show you around and we can work on a possible arrangement then. I’ve been warned about you Gia and I won’t be one of those men that you tug along on a string.” Ronan said leaning in close enough to smell her perfume expensive and Italian he knew it wasn’t the place to see if the rumors were true though. They were at her father’s wake and he was a lonely man, Brooke he had heard after seeing the ring at the Devonshire party was engaged to Atticus it was time he moved on as well. “Till then you have my number have your people get in contact with Thor he’ll make the arrangements,” Ronan said whispering in her ear as he stepped back and opened the door looking at his brother. “We’re done here, for now, we have a plane to catch to get home. I look forward to our meeting Gia.” He cast a glance back at her and then waved to Thor and his guards as they made their way to the exit.
“On your turf next time. I heard Atlas Falls is quite beautiful in the fall and you’re having an Indian summer which makes it even better.” Gia said standing as she slithered to the doorway to close it behind Ronan. “Get me a hotel in Atlas Falls in exactly two weeks. I want the best of course and make sure he knows I’m on my way when it’s time. I have my brother to tend too. I don’t want to be disturbed at all because I’d hate for this to be ugly and we are planning another funeral.” Walking to her desk she pulled out a small .44 magnum that was dipped in gold. She smiled finally touching a picture of her mother. “Revenge is near momma and I won’t forget anything you taught me.”
Miranda always enjoyed summers at the lake they had a rental up here that their parents had bought when their dad was still on the force and they used it as a vacation home in the summer. The Thompsons had one and so did the Fraiser’s and there wasn’t a childhood memory she had that didn’t involve them. She and KC had come here a few times when he was alive over the few summers she had with him and now she was glad that Quinn was getting those same memories. She watched as Jon helped Cassie onto the family boat, she was happy for her brother but she never thought she’d see the day that Cassie Montgomery hung out on Lake Everest in an old boat. There was a first time for everything she supposed, looking over she waved to her parents and the rest of the family before looking back at the water. KC would like this if he was alive today and she took a deep breath maybe it was time to bury that finally. She looked down at her shorts and then felt the impact of a very excited little girl running into her back.
“Silly girl you can’t surprise your momma,” Miranda said turning to look at her daughter whose skin was kissed lightly by the sun luckily she had the good genes from both her and KC and didn’t burn. Her hair was wild around her face in the ponytail that was already coming undone and before her escape artist of a daughter could bolt she wrapped her up in a bear hug and placed her in front of her so they could look out over the water together. She began to lightly run her fingers through her hair to get out the tangles before braiding it. “You were minding your nana and pop weren’t you? I think when uncle Jon gets back he’ll take us out on the boat you’d like that I think wouldn’t you?”
“Yup I sure would momma and so would my friend,” Quinn said looking around the park at uncle Jon and his girlfriend Cassie. Scanning the park she couldn’t find him he was just here. It was the silliest thing every time momma came around he disappeared. She’d ask him about that when she saw him again. He even knew she loved Frozen, she didn’t tell her mother but when she lost her Anna doll he gave it back to her. “Mommy I can’t find him anywhere! He was just here talking to me. He told me that you like our other favorite movie Back To The Future. I laughed because we said the same part. Nobody calls me chicken.” Quinn burst out laughing again.
She twisted the tip of her braid and looked at her face. “What’s wrong mommy? You love that movie don’t you?” Quinn said looking at the rocks. She felt bad when she said that for some reason momma “Momma did I say something wrong?” She asked looking at her mother she heard her nana say she was very perceptive whatever that meant.
Miranda avoided the temptation to roll her eyes at Quinn they had talked repeatedly about imaginary friends. She would need to grow out of it for school or she knew her precious little girl would be relentlessly teased and she knew how that was. In high school, she had been on the receiving end more than once. Not for imaginary friends but other things like not having the clothes the other girls did. Not being able to do all the activities they did not to mention she had baby weight until about her sophomore year. School bullying was starting younger and younger now and she didn’t want Quinn to be a victim of that at all. She watched as Quinn twirled her braid and thought about her next words carefully she had no desire to chase after fictitious friends she would rather spend the day at the lake enjoying it. Back to The Future was one of her favorite movies her and Jon watched it religiously as kids and she and KC did too, perhaps she had told Quinn about it and she shook her head. How in the world did Quinn know that was their thing the line nobody calls me a chicken.
“I do love that movie Quinn we’ve talked about this before your friend is not real you’re going into a bigger grade next year at school. You will make more friends and I promise work will calm down now so that you can have playdates and try some activities in the fall.” Miranda said realizing how much more short she was when she said it than she meant. She had been working undercover so much that the desk job now seemed like a heaven send and her parents bless them both had taken over Quinn while she was undercover but it was her turn to step it up and but Quinn first again which meant sacrificing her career. She was still trying to think of a logical explanation about how Quinn knew the line. “I think we should stay here and enjoy the beach today why don’t we go in the water or something instead? Quinn, what does the friend look like that told you about the chicken line?”
“Yeah mommy we can stay here I want to go swimming that’s fine. He’s tall like really tall. He has dark hair and dark eyes um and he has a scar on his cheek. But now he has all this hair on his face so you can’t see it anymore. He sort of looks like daddy but he’s got a big beard. He knows a lot about you though mommy. He tells me all sorts of stories about you. Like when you were almost arrested in Mexico for punching out a guy for grabbing you.” Quinn said looking at her grandfather making a fire. “Can I have smores today because grandpa said we could and he even told me you like peanut butter on your smores. We were talking about that earlier he said you like it like that which I think is gross mommy just so you know.” Quinn said as she sat down on the blanket they brought from home.
“Momma? I know I’m getting bigger and can I tell you something? I don’t think my friend is imaginary. He brought back my Anna doll when I lost it a while back. I just don’t think you’ll let me be his friend if because he’s bigger than me. But he’s really nice mommy.” Quinn finally admitted as she saw her mother’s expression she wasn’t happy at all. “Mom you just need to meet him.”
Anger surged through here so much at her little girl had she not gotten enough therapy for Quinn over the years KC was dead. How could her sweet six year old even know all those things unless they had talked about certain things as adults like the time for spring break in Mexico? She looked over at her daughter and then at over at the lake water trying to remain collected not to let that anger boil to the surface. Something was going on with Quinn and it went far beyond imaginary friends at this point maybe she was projecting from KC not being there when she was younger maybe it was resentment to her ending her relationship with Devin after he had been such a constant in her life for the last year and then guilt crept in. She had allowed that Devin to be the father that Quinn didn’t have and what if that was now affecting Quinn mentally? She took a few deep breaths before she looked back at her daughter.
“Quinn, what is going on? Is this about Devin moving out? You know that daddy is dead. He was killed trying to take down a bad evil man. We’ve talked about this a lot. Do you need to the counselor again? Are you mad at me for breaking up with Devin?” She asked realizing her voice raised slightly when she spoke and she saw her girl look at her in fear. She shook her head trying to get herself together as she tried to figure out what was going on with her child. “I remember you found your Anna doll we thought you left it at the park. Who told you about Mexico Quinn have you heard me talk to aunt Dani about the spring break we went there with daddy and uncle Jon while he was home on leave?”
Quinn looked at her mother as if she was crazy. She told her the truth. Her mother was asking her who was telling her these stories? The truth was she was seeing her friend much more frequently. She was only a baby when her father died from what she knew it really hurt her mommy. Lowering her head she felt bad because her mommy wasn’t listening to her or believing her. “Mommy I told you that my friend. He told me all about Mexico it wasn’t with auntie Dani or anywhere else. He told me and you don’t believe me! He said if I told you that you wouldn’t believe me.” She bit her lip feeling confused because she felt really connected to her friend. He thought she didn’t know but Quinn was a detective just like her mommy. She heard him call himself KC and she knew her friend was her daddy.
“My daddy isn’t dead and Devin wasn’t my daddy!” She snapped back at Miranda. “My daddy is my friend and he’s coming back for me! You aren’t listening he told me that he was hurt and now he’s back. My friend is my daddy and I know it!” Quinn screamed at Miranda as she pulled her little arm away from her mother. “And I lost Anna at the park and he gave her back a long time ago! I knew you’d be mad I lost that doll so I never told you! I’ll prove it he is here we just have to find him!”
Miranda looked at her daughter and wanted to shake her and tell her none of it was real. Her father was dead instead she did the next best thing. “Stay with grandma and grandpa for a little bit Quinn.” She relented to angry at Quinn’s outburst to say anything else to her daughter instead she cast one last glance at her before storming away down the beach of the lake.
She left her daughter standing there staring at her and she felt like the world’s shittiest parent ever but she couldn’t do this anymore with Quinn. Lying was not ok, KC was gone and to cruelly bring it up over and over again made her think that something was going on. Had she failed her daughter as a parent and she shook her head at the thought she had tried so hard ever since KC died. She walked towards the shadows of the shade of the trees to collect herself and to wonder how she had screwed up so badly.
Jon’s feet were in the water it was warm and the air smelled fresh. He made a choice when he bought another house it would be in the woods. He loved the peacefulness and to make matters, even more, he was with Cassie. Ever since the trial the Harrison’s had officially welcomed Cassie into the family. He was sure June loved her like, unlike any other girl he had been with. It was funny because everyone wondered why they were together? Then they saw them together and saw it just worked. Love sometimes showed more than it could be explained. As he looked around he saw Quinn and Miranda playing in the sand, Braden and his family back together, Dani and Jackson together and Lauren was on the grill with pops. This was a great day together and it was exactly what he needed after the trial. That was rough and honestly still echoing in his head but Dinah forgave him. That was all that mattered honestly. He got her forgiveness and she had let go of all that hatred for him after she saw the video and so much more. When he saw Cassie approaching them he took the beer from her hand and helped her sit down by him. Toasting by tapping their bottles together he took a swig. Lauren was becoming a master at brewing beer.
“I was just thinking next year I want to put down on a house. I think we should move somewhere out here. I mean think of the kids you know our potential kids would have all these beautiful woods as there backyard and I want that. I want to take my son shooting, and I want my daughter to be shooting also. So any man gets an understanding, not with my little girl.” He laughed looking at his girlfriend. “I think this is a topic we haven’t talked about. Cassie, I want a huge family and I don’t need them all to be biologically mine but I want my own biological kids. I just want a house full of kids you know? That’s always been what I saw. So I guess what I’m asking is do you want any children?” Splashing her foot with his a little. “I want six biologically ours and four that are adopted that’s what I’m thinking.”
Cassie adjusted her lace cover up as she brought Jon a beer to the edge of the water she was glad that life had returned to normal after the trial except for the things going on in her head. Seeing Thor again after those months apart had jilted her she wanted it to not be true but it was Skye was supposed to be revenge for what Jon had done to her with Skye and now Thor was in love with her? She refused to accept that deep down if she did it meant that she wasn’t her father’s daughter and despite her protests, she very much so was at times. Especially when it came to winning. Jon had gone back to work and she saw an ease with him again now that it had happened. Living together was enough for her at the moment so when he brought up kids her back stiffened she had so much more she wanted to do with her life. She wasn’t getting younger but she knew that Jon was ready to settle down and have the picket fence with two and a half kids and she looked down at the glass bottle in her hands and then over at him.
“I like the condo just fine. What is wrong with city living? You can’t expect me to live out here do you?” Cassie said teasing him only to see his face look at her and she took a sigh he did want to move to the middle of the woods. She liked the lake on occasion for a mini vacation or better Paris for a few months but living in the god-awful woods full time. She didn’t know how to tell him that she wasn’t ready for those parts just yet she had a paper to run that she planned on turning into an empire and from there maybe kids down the line. “I didn’t realize you were serious about it just because everyone around you has kids and houses doesn’t mean you have to rush into that either. I thought after the trial we would have fun for a bit longer, relax and put the last few months and year of chaos behind us. Maybe travel together when you have time off work. I know how disappointed you were with my scare Jon but I’m not ready for kids yet.”
“We don’t have to worry about that until it happens. I want a kid but I want it on our terms Cassie this is fine for me right now. I’m joking about our hypothetical children.” Jon said wrapping his arms around her and pulling her closer to him. “You know through everything that trial and the entire town against me you stood by my side. That is the love that I feel and I do have a lot of time piled up so traveling around after a nice ceremony won’t be bad. I would love to have an adventure with you after we are married.” Jon took her hand and kissed where her ring would go. Soon he’d ask his father for his grandmother’s ring and he was going to propose to Cassie. Children weren’t in the future right now but it might change when she feels the love of an impending wedding. “Look no pressure on you, okay I just like to think about what my future is going to be. Like me and you and a slew of kids is my fantasy but that might not be the reality and we live in a world full of contradictions. Sometimes I’d rather think about our fun.”
Jon whistled as he looked at Quinn and Miranda looking like they were having an argument which was funny. His niece was like a little woman she was mature and child all at once. It was quite a sight to see. “So what’s your fantasy? Do you even have one Cassie you know? Do you see yourself settled down with one or two kids? I remember when I was in the service my friend Bishop went home and his wife was pregnant every time he came back four kids. He was twenty-two with four kids and he was an amazing dad. Yeah, I want to enjoy the calmness and enjoy that I got the best girl in Atlas Falls. Plus you won June Harrison over and Miranda which is like unheard of.” Jon said with a bright smile. “My mom loves you by the way.”
Cassie didn’t realize that she had been holding in a breath when he said it was alright that she wanted to wait on children. In the back of her mind though she had to remind herself that men often said one thing when they sometimes meant something else. She sometimes had to wonder if that was the case now with Jon especially with most of the friends in his age group having children and starting lives. She wasn’t opposed to marrying him but she didn’t understand the rush either, they were in a good place where they were. She had just started her job at the paper and he was just back to work too. She wanted to travel and explore before settling down and she took a sip of the liquid and wondered why they had never carried it at the club before looking over at Miranda and Quinn and then back at him. He was so amazing with his family and she nodded her head at him when he mentioned his mother. In truth, she loved June too.
“I was by your side Jon because you were innocent you and I both know that, not to mention I do love you too. I know the scare how do I put it I could tell you were disappointed in some way we’re both not getting younger but I just always saw myself as career minded. I figured I would be the girl that ran MontCorp and had my fun I never even really considered marriage and kids.” Cassie said looking at him she loved Jon, loved where they were but how were they going to balance careers and kids. Marriage was hard enough she knew that first hand from her parents and it was not a shining example she supposed that was the huge difference Jon’s parents had been married for over thirty maybe even forty years. Her parents ended with her mother taking her life after years of her father cheating. “I wanted us to go to Paris it was my mother’s favorite city and then travel Europe for a bit. I honestly don’t know if I would be ready to just marry you yet, but who knows maybe the upcoming wedding will change my mind.” She finished trying to be honest with him they’d received a formal invitation earlier that week to Jackson and Dani’s wedding and at first she had been worried maybe Jon was still hung up on that but he’d put it on the fridge and told her he was way more excited to attend with her as his date instead. “Do they fight like that often I was a little spitfire to my mother just like Quinn is to your sister.”
Jon sat and listened to her. He absolutely understood that Cassie didn’t see herself in the past as a mother. That was something that was shocking to him. She didn’t see it but her relationship with Quinn and other kids around them such as Dylan showed she was motherly. Thor and Cassie’s relationship was much different than theirs due to one main reason. Jon felt like they both were two people in search of power and acceptance. Thor had found his in his brother which was horrible because now there were two Madden mobsters. Cassie, on the other hand, found her power by walking away from power. That was something unique and endearing about her and it made him love her even harder. Cassie had a life laid out for her, go to school, learn the business and you’re rewarded with COO position at a large conglomerate. Now it was all up in the air. Nothing was certain and he liked that with him.
“Well, when you have a daughter who is smart like that and is very opinionated at five. Well yeah, you argue.” He laughed as he looked at Cassie. “I don’t want to pressure you. I’m not going to lie though I want what Braden has. Tamara now, Dylan and life that’s full. You know sometimes we um spend so much time wondering if it’s the right time. That somethings pass us by and I don’t want children to pass us by. I’m going to wait until you are ready but I don’t want to be an old man with my kids. So let’s table this conversation until after the wedding. If you are still apprehensive about marriage then we’ll wait. But I don’t know, I guess when you see people slaughtered in front of you. You take a life accidentally, you learn life is short and it’s imperative to grab it by the horns. Last year was rough on me and innocent or not I took another life. It’s not something I like but you know what kept me from sinking into the darkness? You Cassie. You kept me breathing and I want to repay you somehow so if it’s a trip to Europe then I’m in. If it’s just being us I’m in. As long as I’m with you I’m in.” Jon leaned in and kissed her. “So I’ll broach the topic and I’ll proposing if I have too. But Cassandra Irina Montgomery you will be my wife, and I know and you know it. It’s about if you accept it.”
Cassie couldn’t help the laugh that came out when it came to Miranda and Quinn it was like that with her mother she eventually grew out of it. Which was why her mother’s death had hurt so much when it happened they grew to be best friends and mother-daughter so it hurt twice as much. When Jon said they could table everything till after the wedding her heart fluttered he was giving her time to warm up to the idea of marrying him and starting those steps with him. In truth, the last few weddings she had been too had not done much to bode well for the happily ever after Jon painted Max and Hunter divorce. Her cousin Lily and her husband Oliver divorce with a baby on the way from the mistress. Her father was probably working on a divorce again or cheating again one of the two and the wedding they had attended last year ugliness at the Devonshire party and rumor today was the divorce was final. She looked over at him and wasn’t sure how to explain what was in her head at the moment.
“People in my family don’t have a very good track record with marriage. So far every wedding I have ever been to has ended in disaster of some sort even the wedding we went to last year. I don’t know how to do normal and I know that probably baffles you.” She said softly with a small smile on her face when he declared that he was alright with anything as long as they were to together. There had to be a key to the secret long-lasting relationship without strings or to make a marriage work and she didn’t want to be another statistic when it came down to it. She refused to be a statistic of failure and pushing off kids on that front was a way to avoid all the heartache that she and Philip had experienced as kids too. “You’re a good man Jon Harrison and an understanding one at that. I was worried when the invitation came that you were still infatuated with Dani if you want me to be honest. I don’t know I thought you’d be jealous that you lost her and she was going to marry another man that you hated. Maybe she’s built that way and part of me wants to be that way but I don’t know how.”
“I haven’t carried that torch for a long time and when she got with Devonshire.” He looked over to Jackson swimming in the water. “It hurt I’m not going to lie honestly I was hurt as hell. I never thought that we wouldn’t be together after all she was my dream girl. Dani was a fantasy though because that’s what everyone thought that’s who I should be with. I never considered anything else because I am a tunnel vision type of guy. When she told me all she could only see me as was a friend. Well, unrequited love isn’t fun, I don’t know if you ever felt like that. It’s crushing when you put yourself out there to someone and they reject you. So at this point, I’m not jealous, I’m happy that she found happiness and I did too.” Jon admitted as he looked at Cassie.
“You have it in you. You just convinced yourself that you didn’t. Which is obvious everytime something good happens you either run or duck to see where the sky is falling. You don’t believe that you deserve the good things in life for some reason. I don’t know or maybe it’s all the torn apart marriages you’ve witnessed. I don’t have those hang-ups because my parents, Brock and Zach parents, and so many others I was surrounded by. Look you don’t believe me?” Jon jumped up on the docks. “Everyone!” He yelled looking at Cassie’s mortified and embarrassed face already turning red. “I love Cassandra Irina Montgomery very much,” Jon screamed out loud. “She’s beautiful, smart, caring, intellectual, sexy, exuberant, and all mine. No woman can compete!” Jon saw Brock and Kelsey whooping and cheering. “She’s all mine! No man can have her.”
“Hey speak for yourself,” Jackson said splashing at them swimming to shore.
“See I don’t even hate him as much,” Jon said with a whisper. “Now do I have to keep screaming how perfect you are for me or do you get it? I mean I can keep going with adjectives about how amazing you are.”
“Ok, I relent. Sit down!” Cassie yelled at him her face flushing red as she looked at everyone staring at them and she tugged on his shorts which caused him to sit back down. She looked at the sun and then smiled at him maybe she would change her mind one day.
Dylan got out of his mom’s SUV and looked around smiling. This brought back so many memories. His first time camping with his dad, Jon, Devin, KC, and his cousin Brock. This was where he hunted for the first time and he got his first kiss from Penelope O’Grady up here. This was where Dylan felt it wasn’t a vacation but a return to a home. Looking over at Maddie he couldn’t help but snicker as she swatted away bugs and flies. This wasn’t his princess step-sister scene at all. She looked out of place and even though their parents were divorcing Maddie would always be his sister. They had made that clear to both Selina and Braden. For some reason Maddie forgave Selina. He wasn’t sure why because she was with that jerk prince guy but mom had an interview at MontCorp this week. He wasn’t sure how he felt about her working in that place. Especially with rumors that Dimitri guy was working with Forbes. Maddie told him all the horrible things he did to her aunt Bliss and it sounded like her cousin Fox was in danger just being around his father. He was going to ask his dad if they could help Bliss somehow tonight.
As he walked over he looked at his parents kissing like high schoolers. It made him disgusted and excited all at once. He’d never seen them like this. So together and in sync, it was almost creepy and he wasn’t ready for tag team unison parenting. It was cool and once again awkward when they agreed together and it was over. He couldn’t split them up and go one on one. “Well you two are gross and I have to say I couldn’t be happier to see it. However, I’m curious parental units have you two conspired against me getting an Uber or using Maddie driver to the Homecoming Dance. I don’t want my parents to be pulling up with me. That’s so eighth grade and I’m just saying I’m becoming a man.” He saw the look on Maddie’s face. “A young man.” Dylan cleaned it up as much as he could because he knew his parents were about to give him hell.
Tamara’s face grew red was he embarrassed by them all of the sudden? Which little girl had cast a spell over her sweet son and he didn’t want to be seen with his parents? Smiling at him she folded her arms and shook her head. “You are on the lacrosse team, starting to use gel in your hair, and is using way too much Axe body spray.” Tamara waved her arm watching Braden smiling at him also. “No, I think that you will need guidance from your father like have we talked birds and the bees? I mean we will wait until after Maddie is gone but I think like it’s time to talk that father and son talk.” She knew she was getting a rise out of Dylan but Tamara honestly couldn’t help it. He was throwing her away. Saying it wasn’t cool to be seen with his parents at the dances anymore. Well, she couldn’t accept that. She wanted to see him at all his events. She’d missed so much and he didn’t just get to be a young man yet. She still wanted her sweet little boy but she also knew that was over.
“Seriously I’m thinking that if Maddie’s driver doesn’t mind, I don’t see why not,” Tamara said looking at Braden. “I think if you don’t think it’s cool to be riding in with your mom and pop that’s fine. I just say you only have one mother and you’re breaking her heart.” She said playfully falling into Braden’s arms. “God he doesn’t love me anymore.” Tamara smiled looking up at Braden.
Dylan rolled his eyes as bit his lip and saw Maddie smirking. “This isn’t funny. She’s going all dramatic Italian mom on me. She’s going to embarrass me all night this is what she does and that accent it’s going to get thicker and more evil as the night goes on. This is what I warned you off about her the Italian mom. The birds and the bees namedrop was just the beginning.”
Braden hadn’t decided how he felt about Maddie having a driver he thought it was beyond silly and not to mention a complete waste of money in his opinion. That was the Devonshire way he supposed but he didn’t want Dylan raised like that. He felt like they were raising a good kid, on the other hand, he sometimes felt he was a bit of a rebel too. They had been trying as a family for a few weeks now and it was going better than even he could have imagined Tamara was still working the steps and they were taking their relationship slowly. It was what they both had deserved the papers with Selina were after their fight at the DGI party it was just a matter of paperwork. He didn’t even hide that he was happy when it all came back that he was officially free when the papers had been delivered back to him at work and he went to the distillery and got an old aged bottle which he promptly drank when he got home under a weird celebration. Though he knew Dylan still saw Maddie as his sister his son would not be raised as a Devonshire and he looked over at Tamara.
“I think that is something your mom and I need to talk about later. There are a lot of details we would need to work out with us, Chauncey and Selina.” He said looking at his son and seeing Maddie fidget the worst part about his divorce from Selina was how awkward it made things with Maddie as she had been living with them last year when they were married part-time. Not to mention Dylan hadn’t forgiven Selina for what happened and he wondered if Maddie had even met the new man in her life with Dimitri he only hoped not that Chauncey had the good sense to keep Maddie away from that monster if they ever could agree on anything it would be that. “Maddie tell your dad I’m glad that he let you come I know we all haven’t exactly got along over the last year. Let’s say I agree with this what would be the rundown of your evening?”
Maddie smiled sweetly looking at Dylan who was nervous. Hell, she would be too because Braden was known to be hard on Dylan due to Tamara’s past actions. It was in his DNA to be an addict but it wasn’t in Dylan’s character. Something that Braden hadn’t figured out. As she tapped her foot on the twigs beneath it she looked at Tamara and Braden. “It would be a group of us going out and my driver would escort us to the dance and back. Scouts honor.” She said looking at them both. “We are just getting older and I think it’s a little lame to get dropped off by you two or dad and mom. It’s just not acceptable anymore.”
She looked around and saw no RV or luxury home and felt out of place. The time she forced her father to go camping they were in a luxury home and it was wonderful. This looked like she was going to be homeless for the night. As she folded her arms she looked at Braden. “You know she isn’t happy with him. I can tell she’s doing this to get back at my grandpa and dad. Either way, I’m not happy at all that you two couldn’t figure out a way to make this work. None of you are talking to each other do you think that’s healthy for us?” Maddie flipped the conversation so hopefully, the awkwardness would keep them on their toes and make them agree. The guilt was strong in these ones. “Oh, and mom and Braden gave us the birds and bees talk very awkwardly last year. So please save it, Ms. Tamara.”
Dylan watched Maddie manipulate the divorce and he wanted to smile so hard. Both of them weren’t too crushed by it because they were close before and after this. They’d been in the same class since kindergarten it wasn’t going to change now. They were a unit last year and that took some adjustments not seeing Maddie during the weekdays as much just at school. Or they passed each other at lacrosse and cheerleading practice. If he could convince his parents to let Maddie driver pick him up permanently after he got a little more freedom. It was weird because as much as his parents loved him, they fought the natural advantages of having a Devonshire as a sibling step or not.
“Plus mom is on the job hunt and you are busy with work. Taking me to school should be the last thing on your brains. On top of that, what will the girls think?” He said smiling at them. “It’s already tough enough Jon and Zach are my uncles and let’s not talk about you and grandpa. The mayor of the city I am born and raised in is my grandfather. I’m just asking for a little more freedom.” Dylan said pleading looking at them both.
Tamara sat quietly and wondered did they put too much pressure on their son. He was mature for his age and he did everything they wanted. He was a great student and even better athlete. She had no problem with Dylan getting things they never had from his association with the Devonshire. Braden grew up blue collar class. While she was poor and this was an advantage that he had Maddie as a best friend and pseudo-sibling. Looking up at Braden who still had that stern demeanor no matter what. She frowned looking at him. “It’s fine you two can go to the Homecoming dance alone. It’s alright we trust you Dylan and Maddie but if you take advantage of this then we’ll have no choice but to cut it off.”
Just as a curly head moppet crashed into her son’s knee. From the moment Quinn was born she knew that Dylan was wrapped around her little finger. finger. She was like a little sibling and she often resented not giving Dylan one. She was so young then and another child would have been too much. “Hello, Quinn.” She said holding Braden arm as she saw him looking concerned. She leaned up and whispered. “They are going to mess up and we’ll take it away. Let them think they got us for now.”
“What’s up, Quinn?” Dylan said smiling at her picking her up.
“You have to help my friend. Momma doesn’t believe me and now that you’re here we can find him together. Without her.” Quinn said looking at Maddie sticking her tongue out at her.
“Oh, that’s fine with me you brat. I don’t want to get eaten up by mosquitos anyway. I can paint my nails.” Maddie said rolling her eyes at Quinn. “Go we can go swimming after you come back. Clearly, Ms. Rhodes has plans for you.”
Throwing Quinn on his shoulders Dylan looked up to see Quinn sticking out her tongue. “I’ll be right back.”
Dylan walked with Quinn to the pathway on the wood. Placing her down he looked at her bright eyes scanning the camping site. He wanted to snicker because whoever she was looking for was long gone. However looking around Dylan noticed broken twigs on the trees as if someone was hiding behind them. He began to walk out with Quinn taking her hand. He could swear he heard something behind him. As he stepped down his foot sank down with all his might he pushed Quinn back and flew down into a pit that was covered in leaves and dirt. Hitting his head on impact and he knew he’d either sprained his ankle or broke it. “Ahhh.” He screamed out as he closed his eyes. He heard Quinn screaming for help but he couldn’t help it he just closed his eyes and gripping his leg praying his lacrosse career wasn’t over before it started.
Call it mother’s intuition but she had broken from the grill by the picnic benches under the pavilion on the lake to scan around looking for Quinn. Beer in hand from the Pub as she admired the new labels that Lauren had designed with Dani over the summer she placed it down on the table. Her ears pricked listening for the sounds of running feet as her daughter had asked to go exploring in the woods with Dylan, the silence only came back and she wandered to the edge of the woods. She looked back at the rest of their group enjoying the weather and the lake and then heard the patter of footprints and then a very distinct yell came from the woods as she heard Quinn call Dylan’s name and instinct turned in and she dashed through the thick trees towards the sounds of Quinn’s yells. Once she reached her daughter she froze as a man with his back turned to her was reaching into the hole Quinn standing to the side.
“Hey what are you doing!” She screamed at the man enough to startle him and she rushed to Quinn checking her for injury and then peered down into the hole seeing Dylan in it clutching his leg. She heard the rush of footsteps and looked at her daughter hearing Braden, Brock, and Jon on their way into the woods. “Stay here with uncle Jon, you did a good job screaming with the strange man. I’ll be back I’m going to go get him.” She saw the man moving through the woods and took a look back at her brother. “Dylan’s in the hole I’m going after the man that was with him.”
She didn’t wait for a response as she took off in the woods the rustling of branches in front of her and her feet crunching in the dirt as she chased the man. He was still in shape that much was clear and when she stopped when the footsteps in front of her did she took a breath grabbing her phone for an emergency call just in case. Taking it out she saw she had no reception it had always been spotty in the woods and she looked around the clearing. They were far from the hole she would say a good mile or so and before she could react she heard someone jump out from behind her and spun around. She let out a scream at the sight, he was dead long dead. What in the fuck was going on? When the grizzly man took a step towards her she took a step back grabbing a branch for protection.
“Stay back what in the fuck is going on and who the hell are you?” Miranda asked it couldn’t be him, she knew the FBI used tricks sometimes and who knew maybe the grizzly man before her was another spy pretending to be her deceased husband.
KC looked like Tom Hanks on Castaway. It was a look, a look that Miranda wasn’t favorable of so far. He was always here to catch her when she fell. That was his vow when they married almost seven years ago. Here he was being caught by her. He had to save Dylan and help Quinn that boy had grown so much. His eyes softened as he dropped his shoulders. She had every right to wonder what the hell what was going on. KC Rhodes didn’t die a three years ago and right now he was caught. To be honest he was glad because he couldn’t be away from Miranda or Quinn any longer. Rubbing his beard he looked at her face she was horrified and he knew that he deserved this reaction. He wanted to grab her and just hold her for a moment but here they were. His handler told him not to come back here. Hell, he was ready to take down The Cartel like anyone else but being away from his family any longer was insanity. Well, it technically wasn’t insanity considering he couldn’t be legally alive right now. However, he couldn’t take it anymore because Miranda was raising there girl and she was growing up to be quite a kid. Did he trick his own daughter and use her to have insight into his family. Well yeah because he’s a cop and he couldn’t stay away. He just couldn’t as he bit down on his lip.
“So I have a Wolverine thing going on so I apologize for that. I didn’t want you to see me in my hipster moment.” He gulped as he looked at Miranda. “So at least all that money you were going to waste on therapy on Quinn you don’t need. My humor hasn’t died but it’s me, Miranda. I don’t know where to begin when I tell you that it’s not a lie or me bullshitting. I woke up and you were the first thing I said. I woke up and my girls were the only thing on my mind. My handler took me away and saved me. The FBI are going after Ronan and three other big drug dealers who have connections throughout the world. If we get the American Cartel we get the international ones too and it would help stop so much.” He paused knowing Miranda knew all of this and deserved a better explanation. “I died Miranda but I wasn’t ready to die. I fought to get back to you two and the FBI faked my death because of the information I knew. Last year I ran away to Atlas Falls and my handler Diego followed me. He informed me that everything was different. I was a creep man I followed you two everywhere and then I saw you with Devin. I didn’t want to break apart your life with him when I saw you moving on. One day I was in the house I wanted something of Quinn’s and she came in. I saw her and spoke to that kid of ours and she was amazing. I was going to leave but she didn’t recognize me and I just wanted some more time with her. So I told her I was imaginary which was a horrible lie. It was selfish but I’ve been wishing that I could just tell you I was alive. I watched you raising her and I just want to tell you how amazing of a woman you are. How beautiful you are. How you are my soulmate, Miranda. I’m so sorry that I messed up. I got shot and I got so wrapped up in getting Ronan I didn’t know what the struggle was for. Making our world better for Quinn.”
KC paused wiping his eyes keeping a distance away from her. He knew better than to get close Miranda was no doubt pissed and confused. “Ask me anything. My dream car still is Delorean, favorite album Nirvana, Nevermind, our first kiss song was Prince Most Beautiful Girl In The World, and we conceived our daughter in Costa Rica on our vacation after I was shot. You hate the color pink because your mom used to force you to wear it, you resent pink is Quinn’s favorite color.” He said with a laugh but stopped when he didn’t see her laugh. Humor was his thing it got him through an awkward situation. Telling your widowed wife you are alive is one of those things he tried to have humor for. “You hate sushi even though I force you to eat it with me. You crashed your brother car and he took the blame in high school when you snuck out that night. Oh and my cheek my scar. I got this when I was fighting with Loco and arrested him a couple years ago. I’m me Miranda and I’m here baby. Now can I touch you or are you going to just let me let all this out and look like a fool? Can we get at least get a Bogart and Bergman kiss? I’ve missed my girls. Nobody calls us chicken remember?”
This couldn’t be real was the only thing going through her head she saw his cold dead body on a slab in the morgue. She was the one that identified his body with Dani by her side when they had called her to do so. She had picked out a fucking casket and put him inside of it and laid him to rest at Arlington. Her entire body was shaking with anger towards him for putting her through that and she lifted the branch at him and did the first thing that came to her mind and swung at him in rage. He proved to be to fast for her so she took a few more swings at him just to make sure he understood how pissed off she was at him. He’d been spying on her for a year, seeing Quinn behind her back letting her think that he was dead, letting his friends think he was dead. Letting his own brother think that he was dead not to mention his parents. She refused to go near him, she was too emotional right now and nothing made sense anymore and she thought back to New Years when the man had pushed her out of the way of a car and she swore she had seen him then. She had talked herself out of it that she simply had too much to drink that night and she shook her head at him with bitter tears running down her face he came near her she’d rip his face off for what he had put her though.
“I buried you for Christ’s sake. I picked out a casket at a funeral home with our screaming one year old on my hip and my best friend making the arrangements because I saw your cold body on a slab. Don’t you dare come near me right now.” She seethed at him, the memories making her cry about that entire week which was spent in grief. She had been numb to everything and then moved back to Atlas Falls from Washington because she knew she couldn’t do it alone she needed her family and friends to help raise his daughter. She shook her head at him nothing was alright and at the moment he couldn’t make it alright or fix it. Diego, she knew from work and the fact that he knew and never told her pissed her off even more and her poor brother where was he when Jon needed him? “You have no right to do this to me none. Let alone, Quinn, we don’t need you and have been doing fine without you.” She finally said coldly looking at him it would take a lot more than fancy words for her to let her guard down at the moment with him.
KC moved swiftly when she tried to beat him with a damn branch from a tree. His wife hadn’t changed much. She was hit first think later which was something he learned from his ten-year relationship with her. She was Irish and her blood ran hot as lava. When she unleashed at him he began to get frustrated. “Do you understand what I’ve been going through? I had no idea that they were putting you through that because I was in a damn coma, Miranda. Did you ever think what a ruse they put on for you? Huh? I was a star witness in taking Ronan and the cartel down. I was really shot and in a coma for over a damn year. I learned how to walk and could barely even talk. I fought my way back to you and I wasn’t supposed to be here telling you any of this shit. I’m supposed to be in witsec Miranda because I am going to be the one to place the stake in Ronan’s heart at the end. Did you ever think about what it was like for me to google images of my own funeral? Hell, that I was buried? I was erased they erased my life and I was just supposed to move forward. You don’t have a clue how that feels and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry our life was torn apart by some higher-ups.”
Sitting down on the porch he looked away. “You are trying to find bullshit in my story? I’ll call Diego and he’ll tell you I’m not lying. I was broken after what they did to me and keeping me away from you destroyed me. So I get your pain but damn it you’ll feel mine also. I was ripped away from Quinn and you. I didn’t make the choice to make everyone think I was dead. This was out of both of our hands and I’m a victim man also. What I should have done is go to you since last year. I should have come to you the moment I came back. It was when I saw you with Devin I just thought maybe you were better off. Call it my fragile male ego. I just thought that you had moved on and why should I break that up. You think I haven’t wrestled with every moment and this isn’t how I wanted things to happen. A year in a coma Miranda, a year of physical therapy to get me back into this point. I was scared and I’m sorry that I stayed away but please don’t do this. Don’t just tune me out and don’t say that shit! Quinn is dying for some more love and I’m dying to love her just as much. I’m dying to touch you and hell even just freaking yelled at by you feels good. Miranda do you understand they told me I could never reach out to you. I told them they were crazy because nothing but death could keep us apart and it did. For a short time now I’m here that’s all I can say. You two might not need me but I need you both.”
Miranda was still to rattled to even think straight what was going on with everything, part of his story made sense and the other part felt like something out of a crazy action movie. The deception and the lies that the FBI had put her through people like Diego that she knew personally that had been a part of her life with KC in Washington. She had accused her own daughter of lying to her and she felt like she might throw up from it. She steadied herself on a tree while he took a seat on the steps of the cabin they were near and she recognized it as the Rhodes cabin and she wondered if this was where he had been hiding out. After his parents left town for retirement they had given the cabin over to David and from what she knew he hadn’t been up here in years, it held too many painful memories of his brother. She knew that Jon and the rest of them would come looking for her soon and she took a seat next to KC on the porch branch still gripped in her hands. She needed time to digest all of this.
“I need to breathe.” She managed to say to him as she glanced over at him clutching the branch it was the only thing that she could say at the moment. A few moments ago he was still a memory to her and yet here he was with her now. It was a lot to take in and she wasn’t even sure what to feel at the moment love, anger, resentment for everything she had gone through over the years. “I hope you’re ready to face the music now though Jon will be out looking for me and for the man that swore he would never hurt me when we got married he may just have more than a few words for you.” She finished when KC died her brother had been gutted after all they had been through in the military losing part of his last tie to Iraq had almost killed him and it was only solved from his spiral when he got away from the toxic relationship he threw himself into with Skye Morgan.
“I’m ready to face the music and everything else. I didn’t do this intentionally Miranda and I hope you will forgive me for all that has happened.” KC said looking at flashlights starting to get brighter and closer. No doubt Jon and the rest of his old crew. He missed everyone well everyone except for Devin. He was still a little bitter the guy he trained came in a took over his entire life. Devin had his wife, his daughter, his partner, his best friends, and he recently broke Miranda’s heart. He folded his arms looking at her. “I’m not running Miranda, not anymore. It’s time for me to step out of the darkness.”
Brock finished wrapping his cousin’s knee and watched as Dylan finally woke up removing the ice pack from his head. He looked over at Braden and Jon they were lucky all Dylan had was a sprain and a mild concussion that could get looked at by a doctor when they got back to town. Rescue by rope was something he was well familiar with and he could tell that Braden was worried about Miranda in the woods by herself. More than that he saw that Jon was worried too, he got that but they had all grown up in the woods over the summers the girls trekking it just as much as they all did too. Not to mention there was still plenty of daylight out for her to find her way back to the lake and where they were. He thought about radioing in for help but between himself, Jon, Devin, and Braden he felt like they had it covered. His phone did buzz and he looked down at the text from Greer it was better to not bring that up to his family right now, if ever.
“Miranda is a big girl. Guys, she knows the woods better than anyone. We got Quinn here, Dylan is fine minus a sprain and probably a goose egg on the back of his head. Welcome back kiddo.” Brock said as he grabbed his flashlight from his pack and checked Dylan pupils, they looked alright and he bit it between his teeth. “Follow my finger.” He said as he watched Dylan almost roll his eyes at him, yeah the kid was fine still a pain in the ass like they were at his age and then nodded to him. “Dylan tell me what the day of the week is? What happened in the woods who was the man that Miranda saw standing over you?”
“It’s Saturday and I know exactly who saved me.” Dylan looked at his cousin in his eyes. “It was KC Rhodes. I know that voice anywhere and he was always around when I was little. I was walking with Quinn to meet her friend. She said her mom wouldn’t let her see him anymore and I was thrown off because I thought she was talking about another kid. When she called out to him she called him Charles or something. He turned around and saw me and was shocked. I walked up and called him KC and fell through that wood into the hole. That’s all I remember until KC pulled me out and Miranda came shortly afterward. It happened really fast but I know him that was KC he was like Jon or Devin they were all close. He was an uncle to me and I know him well enough that I know it was KC.” He saw their faces and he knew it sounded crazy as hell.
“Dad I’m not hurt seriously man I’m telling you I saw KC ask Quinn what her friend looks like and if I’m bugging then it’s the fall. If not then I swear that was KC.” He understood that the man died but his eyes didn’t deceive him. He knew who he saw.
Jon listened to Dylan who sounded a hundred percent sure that he saw KC. He turned to the woods and his heart jumped, even more, thinking about his sister out there. Big girl or not someone was out there looking like KC so much so that Dylan was sure of it. That could send her down a dark path. Everyone talks about how he was after Iraq nobody talked about how broken Miranda was was after KC death. His sister was so heartbroken and lost. In a flash, she became a single mother and widow it wasn’t something he forgave himself for. He introduced KC and Miranda to each other and it had lead to his sister biggest heartache. He looked at Brock and Braden wondering if he should question his niece about this friend. What in the world was going on and they had let her slip underneath all their noses. “Dylan, we all know KC is dead so could what you saw maybe were you getting hit on the head.”
“Yeah, me seeing KC prior to my fall is from the hit on the head uncle Jon,” Dylan said sarcastically as he felt Brock punch him playfully. “Ow injured here. My lacrosse coach is going to be pissed man. Where are mom and Maddie? I should be getting premium injury milking from mom.”
Brock wanted to point out that the man didn’t pull Dylan out he did Quinn had told them that her mom had scared the man and he dropped Dylan in the hole leading to the concussion and the sprain. He wasn’t sure what to believe as far as KC was concerned the man was dead and buried but he also knew Dylan to not lie, he wasn’t raised like that and he had no reason to lie about that. He looked over at Braden and Jon and moved them away from Dylan and out of earshot knowing that Jon and Braden were thinking about Dylan’s statement. He folded his arms as he looked at his cousin and then Jon.
“He bumped his head but he’s not a liar you both know that. If he said he saw KC I believe him even if his story doesn’t match Quinn’s if the mystery guy wanted to hurt Dylan he could have. His concussion aligns with his story and so does his sprain. I’ll stay with him but until we know who this guy is and get to the bottom of this you guy should go looking for Miranda.” Brock said it was the responsible thing to do he’d led search parties before but he could man the post at camp while they both went out and looked for Miranda.
Braden knew Dylan and he wasn’t one to lie ok he’d told white lies before when he was younger but he knew how important honesty was in their family. He trusted his son, on the other hand, he hadn’t seen KC in over 5 years so maybe he wasn’t remembering him correctly. The man was dead it had been repeated to him at the DA office for years it was reiterated last year when they went after Ronan. He had the damn pictures and reports to prove it but on the other hand, he knew Dylan was not a liar. He had no reason to lie about it and he nodded his head Brock was making the most sense. If the man in the woods was still out there with Miranda they needed to find out who he was KC or not. He looked at Jon as he nodded his head at Brock.
“You have to admit Jon Dylan wouldn’t lie like that not to mention Quinn. Kids say stuff to get out of trouble sometimes but that is not who either of them is. Miranda has been gone a long time. Do you want to head out and search for her?” Braden said he knew Miranda knew the woods all of them did but he also knew that if the man was out there it could mean trouble. Cell reception was spotty at best in the woods so time was not on their side when it came to that. “I’ll go with you if you want or heck maybe we can track down Devin since he brought Merci and I know he was avoiding a showdown with her and Miranda.”
“I do,” Jon said looking at Braden. “Look I can’t blame Devin I mean the guy wanted to date my sister and ended up a dad toward Quinn. He wasn’t ready and I honestly think they weren’t ready to be a couple as they were.” He spoke candidly as he saw Brock holding an ice pack to Dylan’s head. “Brock stay with Dylan and take him back to my parents the annual Harrison end of the summer picnic needs to continue. I don’t want to worry my parents. Can you and Maddie keep Quinn silent about her friend? I don’t want to freak out anyone else. That isn’t the plan at all. We need to keep this quiet and go about this the proper way. Braden, you head with me and Brock get Dylan back to camp.”
Jon and Braden began to walk in the woods and his heart was pumping hard. KC was dead he was his partner and best friend. Not only that but KC, Braden, Brock, Devin, and himself had all been good friends during and after high school. Their friendship grew until they weren’t friends anymore they were brothers. If KC somehow survived why wouldn’t he come to them? Why would he let them mourn him? Jon was ready to kill KC and hug him all at once if it was true. Dylan was raised around the man he wouldn’t have forgotten him. “Could it be Braden? Could he honestly be alive? I don’t get it? Miranda ID’d the body and if he’s alive who is behind faking his death?”
Braden followed him through the woods when Brock waved them off and started to take the kids back to camp, KC being alive would be bad news for everyone involved. The Feds had shown him the pictures he would look like a damn idiot since they were going after Ronan for his murder. Not to mention the emotional ramifications that it would have on everyone involved. Miranda was in a good place or he thought she was. Jon was finally happy with Cassie. Brock was avoiding shit like dating though he suspected something was going on. Devin was seeing Merci DuBois and then his mind rested on David. David who had mourned his brother, the reason he pushed so hard at the hospital to be chief of staff so he could save lives and not have to tell people the bad news like his parents had gone through with KC. He followed Jon as they went up to the cabins and wasn’t quite sure what to say to him he believed Dylan, on the other hand, it sounded crazy as hell.
“I don’t know Jon I do know that Dylan has no reason to lie about something as serious as that. He knows better, on the other hand, it sounds completely insane. Why would the feds be shoving his pictures at me when Miranda was undercover last year for his murder if he was alive.” He stopped in the clearing as they made a left turn and he felt like the wind had been knocked out of him as he saw Miranda sitting on the Rhodes family cabin porch with a grizzly haired man. His eyes got wide and he swore to God Jon looked like he was going to kill him and he grabbed Jon’s shoulder just in case Dylan was telling the truth. “What the fuck? KC?”
Jon walked with Braden and he froze the moment he saw Miranda sitting with him. His heart thumped as a lump swelled in his throat. Gulping down he almost charged at his friend but he felt Braden holding him back. That was one of his final connection to Iraq and his time in the military. KC was originally going to the Air Force but ended up joining the Army because of Jon. Seeing him made him furious. First where the fuck had he been? Secondly, did he think it was alright to just come back? He left them all and he wanted to kill him with his bare hands. “Miranda get away from him.” Jon declared with a roar. “Get away from him right now.”
KC looked at Jon raging eyes and huffed he knew his best friends were going to be just as hard as Miranda to explain this too. Biting down on his lip he looked over at Miranda who couldn’t look at Jon she had just staring at him as if he wasn’t real. Her heart was clearly broken from all the bad moves he’s made. He became so determined to take down Ronan that he didn’t see that Ronan wouldn’t hesitate to take him out. That’s what happened and now he was a star witness against Ronan now. The FBI had been keeping him away from his family and friends because if it got to Ronan he was alive then Kelly O’Connor or Vladimir Stavridis connections would eliminate him. He was alive because of the secrecy of what they did. Standing up he saw Jon fury.
“Two out of three. Where’s Brock? The Four Musketeers are back together. Look, Jon and Braden. I went through a hell of an ordeal and I just explained all of it to Miranda. I don’t want to keep explaining myself to you guys, I know I owe you all an explanation. I know you are pissed at me brother. I know it but I’m me man and I was taken away from all of you. I was lost in my own mind for a long time and Jon you know how that is more than anyone here. I’m not here to make excuses for what happened to me. I’m not even here to ask for forgiveness from either of you. I’m here for my girls and to try to reclaim a portion of my life. I’m sorry if I’m hurting you two by being here and keeping my status of being alive from you. I just had to be around Quinn and Miranda. I wasn’t supposed to be seen but when Dylan fell down that’s my boy. I taught him how to play call of duty and Halo. I didn’t want him hurt Braden and I damn sure didn’t want to hurt my second family. Jon, you are a brother to me and if you let me I’ll explain but let me fix this. Let me fix one thing at a time because I can’t do all of you hating on me right now.” He looked over at Miranda and tried to exhale.
“You guys have no idea what it’s like to be erased. To wake one day and find out nobody has visited you because your family and friends think you are dead. That the country you swore to protect and put life out on the line for day in and day out betrayed you. I feel betrayed by America but I couldn’t stay away from any of you any longer. So I will tell you every memory I have but I can’t do it with all your hate. Look at you foam at the mouth you two are way more alike. I just want my life back and the only way to get is getting Ronan. Diego said you were making headway and then you killed Kendrick. We could have flipped him and I could have been home. That’s not your fault Jon but I couldn’t stay away. All the memories and all the pain I knew that I had come home to my mom, my dad, my bro, and my family.” KC wiped his tears away. As he leaned over and finally touched Miranda’s hand. “You are my world and I can’t live without you Randa. I can’t think sometimes because I’m wondering what you and Quinn are doing. Or if Jon is okay? You think I just walked from all you as if I wanted too!” He screamed slamming his fist down. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to yell. I’m asking for understanding from all of you. I can’t step out of the shadows just yet. I can’t because it would put every one of you in danger. He’d use all of you to lure me out. So please Jon don’t do it, you either Braden. Not until you know what I’ve been through. Not until you understand why they did everything they did.”
Jon calmed down because this was only the third time ever he’d seen KC cry. The first was when they were twelve and the Rhodes were in an accident after a soccer game. The second was at Quinn’s birth and the third would be now. Seeing him so raw the jokester of their group made him emotional. He stepped back seeing Miranda pleading eyes to not attack him. “Are you alright sis?” Jon felt Braden shaking too and they leaned on each other. This was surreal KC was standing before them. “No way is this real. People don’t come back from the dead.”
“Unless they weren’t dead in the first place,” KC said biting down on his lip.
It had been quite a whirlwind of twenty-four hours. Her life had changed drastically after finding out Christopher and Jane knew who her parents were all along. Belle had never lived under a rock by the age of five she knew she was adopted. Some snotty children said some nasty things to her. Saying she wasn’t pure blue blood due to her being adopted. Little did they know she was billionaire blood. As the limo pulled up the sprawling estate she narrowed her eyes. She went from living in a historical mansion to a modern American one. It was the stuff of movies. Belle was still unsure why she was with her godfather Forbes Montgomery and not her family. What game did he have in mind to use her? She wasn’t a fool he was trying to use her but for what was the question. Belle ran her hands over her red leather Alexander McQueen ruffled biker jacket. Underneath was a mesh satin McQueen top, Guess black distressed skinny jeans, and a pair of black and red McQueen booties. Looking at him she saw him relax for the first time since they boarded the plane. He was stressed or something was bothering him. Either way, she would pry and find out somehow.
“This house is quite beautiful, Forbes I do think that it could use more flowers in the front. No doubt a woman’s touch around here is needed.” Belle said grabbing her Birkin duffle bag as the door opened on both sides for them. The driver letting her out and a butler letting Forbes out. Walking up the stairs to the door she saw men scurrying to get her belongings and get them to her room no doubt. “So what’s the game plan you have brought me to America from my home what do you plan on doing with me?”
“Yes father that’s an interesting question and who is the delicious specimen?” Philip said rolling up on Belle and Forbes.
Forbes was annoyed with the princess already. To be clear he didn’t wait on many but he had to with her. She took all day packing her belongings and it delayed the ride home for three hours. That meant paying his flight team overtime for six hours per their contract. That was a lot of money gone down the drain because of her being a brat. He, however, knew that he needed Belle because time was running very low on Zerick. Soon the truth would be out once a DNA test was provided. As he exited the limo she commented on his home and he thought what did a child know? She was barely legal in London and wasn’t at all in America. Her opinion wasn’t valid right now but he had to make her feel as if it was. Belle had to be safe with him and no one else. Belle had to love him like a father and he had a short time to place seeds of doubt in her mind. He had a short time to turn her against the very intriguing Lowell Devonshire. She would be drawn to her father but something has to happen to push her away from him. He’d orchestrate that and when he did she’d come running to her godfather.
“Philip this is your god-sister Isabelle Archibald and you can call her Belle,” Forbes said as he looked at Philip’s shocked face. He knew he didn’t have any godchildren but Belle was a special case. Belle was the trump card to win DGI truly and while everyone was dealing with Zerick he would have the last laugh. “What I plan is to help you navigate this world you are entering. You’ve been in the tabloids before but never becoming a billionaire heiress. In one day you’ll go from socialite to the world knowing who you are. You must be protected from that and I’m here for that. Tess will come calling for you soon you’ll inform her that you’re on a holiday until I tell you to do anything otherwise.”
“Yes, Godfather.” She turned to look at Philip in a wheelchair. “It’s very nice to meet you, Philip.” Extending her hand for a shake as they shook she smiled at him. “Well I don’t know about you but I’m needing to shower and get freshened up. So can I go to my room or are you going to control something else in my life? That’s a trick question because I don’t know you and I’m fairly sure I can navigate being a billionaire heiress. I’ll pose the question once again when I am done getting cleaned up this time I want a legitimate answer.” Belle said looking at Forbes and Philip as the butler took her to her room.
“This is delicious even for you, father. You have the last Devonshire heir in your disposal that’s karma for Lowell. Now my question remains what about Tess. She won’t be happy with you double-crossing her.” Philip said rolling his wheelchair watching Belle go upstairs. “I knew you were twisted but this brings a new meaning to turning family against each other.”
“Belle is a means to the end,” Forbes said as the doorbell rang. “Get that Philip I’m going into the study. Tell the chef that I’m starving and that we have a guest sitting a the table. Also get me in touch with Merci DuBois tell her I need her for planning a party. A lavish event.”
Philip wondered what event was his father going to have? Watching him work against the Devonshire’s was like a master class in betrayal. So much had happened in such a short time. He was using Zerick to distract them from seeing Belle. That was ingenious and he was also plenty determined to show his father he knew what he was doing also. Hunter, Max, and Bliss weren’t forgotten or forgiven he’d show them all what pain looked like. Working with his physical therapist Olga she saw his foot wiggle. That was a sign that he was going to get his revenge and make his father proud. Show him he wasn’t a victim but a victor. Opening the door he saw the royal dickheads Dimitri and Atticus Kavanaugh standing at the door. “May I help you, your highnesses?”
Dimitri looked at the wheelchair and pushed past him not bothering to respond to him, he was nothing more than a means to the end as was his father. Plus he and Forbes had business to discuss which didn’t include his weakling son in a chair. He looked at his brother who would be in for a rude awakening. He had always thought the crown was so pure and of good will, but if only his little brother knew that the crown did what it wanted to do and the people either would fall in line or they would not. This was his big moment to put a target on Lowell’s back and make him cave to make Bliss come home the guilt he could place on her and he let out a sinister smile at Philip and then looked at the beauty that was Belle on the stairs. Even better his brother could stay outside the room and drool over the women he was fucking behind Brooke’s back while he and Forbes talked.
“I don’t answer to you boy not now and certainly not in the future. Mr. Montgomery so nice of you to have me here this evening. As I am sure you have been watching the news. Rebels have stormed Isla Del Cruces going as far as to take the summer castle as their own. We seem to have a common enemy now that we can discuss. Cadmus of course and DGI Selina has informed me that you may be able to help. Shall we go into the study and discuss it further.” Dimitri said seeing Philip glare at him from his seat and he looked at Forbes they were the same cut from the same cloth. Rumor was that Forbes was a bit obsessive about his first wife Audrey back in the day so surely he could understand why Bliss mattered too much to him. “Atticus I am sure would like to catch up with the lovely Belle again. It is such a surprise to see you again.”
Atticus looked over at his brother and followed him inside the house as they walked by Philip who was a vastly different man than he had met a few years ago on the island. He turned his head slightly to take in the sights of Forbes house and froze when he saw her on the stairs and so many memories came back. He had met her in Paris where he was with Brooke and it was the same night that he saw her later at the club and took her inside one of the rooms he didn’t know who she was at the time. Or that she was Lady and Lord Archibald’s daughter and part of him was smitten and taken with her to the point he continued on the affair until Brooke caught him. Her reputation had been ruined and he brought shame to the crown for his ruined engagement to Brooke Kincaid and he shuffled his feet in front of him not sure what to say to her. He was back with Brooke now, engaged to be married surely she knew that nothing could ever happen between them again. He knew about the troubles at home and knew that Forbes could help them with it but he was also focused on the woman in front of him too.
“Belle, what are you doing here?” Atticus managed to ask he did not need this to happen right now especially after he and Brooke were about to make their engagement public again. It would be an official win for the crown and himself with winning the woman he lost back. On the other hand, he was still attracted to Belle there was something alluring about the young beauty before him and the lust he had for her had almost become real feelings he glanced over at Dimitri. His father had told him to watch his brother while they were there but he also needed to find out why Belle was there. “I’m just surprised to see you here your parents wanted you back in London after what happened.”
Philip snarled as Dimitri tried to put him in his place. It made him feel less than a man to have him talking down to him like that. His heart was beating fast because all he wanted to do was get out of that wheelchair and beat him. He began to breathe harder because he knew, soon he’d be out of that chair and they’d all feel his wrath. Physical therapy was going better and he had paid for it behind everyone back. The doctors said it would be a long road to recovery but he had feeling and one day he’d stand again. One day he’d stand so tall that he’d be a giant to step on everyone who left him in the wind. “I’ll be outside on the deck father when you’re done with the crowned fraud of Ilsa De Cruces.” Philip rolled away.
Forbes had hired Dimitri over the summer. Rumor had it Jackson and Dani were about to offer Ilsa De Cruces the first clean energy reform. He knew if he got Dimitri under his control then he could take over the deal from the dynamic duo. It came with a price though. Look at Dimitri so smug and happy that the rebels stormed the castle. With guns, he bought from DGI which would make Cadmus so much more important and bring it right back into the public eye. Chauncey and Lowell saved DGI by firing Selina but that didn’t mean the issues of weapons getting into terrorist hands was over. Not by a long shot because Dimitri ultimate plan was to overthrow his own father and take over Ilsa De Cruces. No longer would it be democratic land but a monarchy under him and MontCorp got the deal over DGI then they’d stand to make a cool ten billion dollars. Walking into his study Forbes sat down.
“You bought those weapons to end your own father’s reign over the Island. That was more Shakespearean than anything I could do.” Showing him that he knew exactly what was up. “I understand taking a legacy by the bullhorn and doing what you want. Now I hired you just to get an inside leg on DGI to get the energy deal from SandStar. What do you need of me when you’ve already schemed your way into sitting on the throne? Tell me does Atticus know you’re behind the rebels attacking your very own family? You see if you ever speak to my son in that way again. I’ll rip apart any plans you have young Dimitri. I’ve been scheming longer than you’ve worn that flimsy crown on your head. So don’t think I won’t but since we are here. I can help the media turning DGI on its head but I sense you have that under control. What do you need from me?”
Dimitri walked to the window in the study looking out at the meager yard and then back at Forbes. He wanted one thing Bliss back at home and he wanted Forbes help in doing that. Walking to the chess board in what he assumed was a game with Philip he kicked up the knight moving it into position with the king to place the pieces in checkmate. “Your friend Ms. Blisston has something that I want back a nasty recording. You will tell her to turn it over to you, you see Bliss is coming home with me and Fox. In return, I will allow you to take over the island with me when I am crowned. Attack DGI with all your might to the point that she sees staying her is futile with Mr. Kincaid. Can you do that for me Forbes or do I need to look elsewhere for services you said you could arrange for me to become king?”
Forbes smirked knowing it was true what Tess had said about the venomous prince before him. He beat Bliss and that was vile in itself one line he never crossed was abuse. Looking at Dimitri so smug and so determined to have the one thing that got away. In many ways, it mirrored Lowell, Audrey and himself. “I can do exactly what you need for a price. I don’t deal well with people who play games because I’m generally one step ahead of everyone. As long as I get the new energy contracts when you are king I will grind their bodies into dust. I have an inside track on the Blisston women believe that. I’ll get Tess to get the recording is there anything else you can bore with me. Oh, Selina, you will leave unscathed I want her at MontCorp for as long as possible. I’m going milk her mind and find all the Devonshire’s secrets.”
Belle stood stiffly staring at the man who broke her heart for the first time. Did he not leave her twisting in the wind as the modern Grace Kelly, Brooke Kincaid went back to America and carried on a tumultuous relationship with Ronan Madden. It was rumored he was a mobster well Brooke went from a prince to a mobster. She never was the girl for Atticus anyway but she regressed. It wasn’t her place to question his questionable taste. Playing with a lapel on her motorcycle jacket she bit her lip staring at Atticus longer. Slowly she walked back down the few steps she ascended as she nodded at Dimitri and Forbes walking to the study. She wondered what the devil and her godfather had planned? She never liked Dimitri he was always the man in the shadows. He always had a dark side which she heard was taken out on Bliss’s face.
“My business in Atlas Falls is none of yours Atticus Kavanaugh.” She with enough aloofness that she seemed as if she didn’t care. When deep down she wanted to jump into his arms. He was her first and her first love even if she got it by ill gains. No wonder her mother Tess was so understanding she carried out an affair with Lowell Devonshire for years. Belle, however, wouldn’t be a mistress ever again. It wasn’t her pedigree either she was the wife or girlfriend or it was nothing at all. “My parents know exactly where I am at and it’s not your business as I said before. Soon the entire city of Atlas Falls will know my name and you’ll just have to wait right along with everyone else to know why.” He was still the most handsome man she ever saw. He had that thing about him that made her heart skip a beat. Twisting the lapel around her finger. “I would ask you what you are doing in Atlas Falls but I think that’s very clear. Still babysitting your older brother? Or is Star magazine correct in saying that you are back with the lovely Brooke Kincaid? That’s wonderful Atticus if it is true. I wish nothing but happiness for you and her. Even though we never got a proper ending.” Passing him brushing her body against him slightly. As Belle nodded for him to come into the library with her. Sprawling on the couch Belle patted the seat next to her. “Come, sit let me get the proper closure I sure deserve. Or maybe you’ll continue to let me twist in the wind.”
“Are you sure how am I to know that you didn’t find out about me proposing to Brooke again and decided to just come here on a whim? I know that when things ended it was ugly but you have to understand Belle a man in my position I publicly shamed the woman I was going to marry and you. The scandal would have followed us so it was better for everyone involved.” Atticus said eyeing her body she was still stunning and gorgeous but he knew better now. Brooke wouldn’t take kindly to that type of a man again and he promised himself that if he ever won Brooke back he would not ever do what he did to her previously. Belle had a wild streak in her not to mention she was seductive something that had certainly added to her appeal of the spoiled princess and why she could spin men into her web. “If they don’t already I am sure the upper crest of Atlas Falls will be thrilled to have an actual lady from London in their midst, it would be their honor of course. Staying with Forbes though that is even more intriguing I didn’t know your parents knew him.”
“You know Dimitri he needs an escort. He is here on holiday while we meet with some dignitaries in New York and Washington. Brooke and I reunited over the summer after her terrible break up with Ronan Madden. It’s different this time with her and I hope that we can all be friends while you are in town.” Atticus said feeling her brush against his slacks his body couldn’t help but react and he felt himself take a breath she still wore that intoxicating perfume and he felt himself slightly harden at the action. She was also amazing in bed perhaps it was that he had taken her virginity that night they met that made her matter to him in that way, she was special to him because of that and he did want them to be friends. He followed her to the leather couch sitting across from her figuring he did owe her closure. “You have my undivided attention what closure did you have in mind? I am very sorry for my behavior in how we ended things and how I let you take the brunt of it when you left. It was unbecoming of a man of my standing.”
Belle listened to him chirp on and on about how fabulous his relationship was with Brooke. For now, they were perfect but anything could happen between now and a wedding. Pouting a little unintentionally she turned her head away so that he couldn’t see how upset the reunion truly made her. He actually went back to her. That was a very hard pill to swallow after all she was crossing her fingers he came back to her. Prince Charles and Camilla did it why couldn’t Atticus and she? “It’s amazing how quickly she accepted after Ronan. Why I don’t keep up on American gossip but the entire world was involved with her and Mr. Madden. I know what scandal can do to a person but my she really must be invested in you two already. After getting dumped by a mafioso well it just sounded a little peculiar to me. Getting engaged so fast.” As she folded her arms around herself. “You left me to go through all that shame and for what? A crown you will never get? I thought you cared about me. I thought we were falling in love and that bore of supermodel would have been out of my hair.” Standing up she walked to the window looking out at the beautiful scenery outside. “Yet I was yanked back to London and you were off making Ilsa De Cruces a better place without me.”
Looking at him walking to her she touched the window. “My family? Ha, that’s funny if only you knew. I’m a lady under the most false pretenses. It all so very complex and it hurts me so that I can’t even talk to you about it. Everything is a mess Atticus and my life isn’t mine. One day I was Lord Christopher and Lady Jane daughter the next I’m.” She paused knowing she was getting far too comfortable and Forbes told her to keep it quiet. “Nevermind it’s nothing.” Turning around seeing him behind her. She touched his chest as she looked into his eyes. Slowly raising her hand to his face stroking it. “You should go find Dimitri because I want to kiss you again. I want you to hold me and tell me everything will be alright with my mummy and daddy. I can’t be second to Brooke again not when I’m first at everything.”
Atticus furrowed his brow at her when she mentioned she was a lady in name only he supposed that was partly true he had taken her proper standing but on the other hand, it seemed a bit more as well. He walked to the window to look out of it with her and he wasn’t sure what else to say to her he had made his choice. It was Brooke he had made it right with her and she had picked him over that atrocious mobster Ronan Madden. Once the news died down about the revolt on the island they were going to make their engagement public again and the crown would be his. He watched as the office door opened and his brother stepped out with Forbes and he wondered what they had talked about.
“I will always cherish what we had together Belle but my heart is with Brooke at the moment that doesn’t make you second to her. I do still care about you and your well being and hopefully, while you are in town you will find what you are looking for and we can remain friends.” Atticus said softly as he saw Dimitri walking towards them.
Dimitri had sneered when Forbes told him to leave Selina unscathed if he only knew what went on behind closed doors. He had Selina right where he wanted her twisting on his every word and whim and she was already learning her place just like Bliss did. He saw his brother talking to the elusive and magnetic Belle Archibald and wished he had been the brother she had met first, so innocent and pure they would have made quite a pair. In some ways, she reminded him of Bliss in that way naive and innocent for the taking and he made sure to keep his desires to himself maybe one day. Instead, he walked towards them not bothering to acknowledge her as he spoke to his brother.
“Our business is done here. We’re leaving Atticus now.” He finished as he walked to the door and had the butler open it for him. He would do the next part of his plan soon he had time now to make sure everything went his way.
“Till next time Ms. Archibald,” Atticus said picking up her hand and kissing it and then nodding to Forbes. “Mr. Montgomery.” He finished as he walked out the door to follow his brother.
Nodding his head a the younger prince. Forbes watched Belle’s demeanor and saw how close Atticus was to reaching for her. She was her mother’s daughter. She was enigmatic something he saw instantly when he met her. It was clear it was something bubbling to the surface with the young prince and Belle. What he wasn’t sure but the scandal around Europe and Ilsa De Cruces was infamous. Seeing them around each other intrigued him. As he walked to the chair sitting down looking at her. “And what do you want Belle?”
“Everything,” Belle said looking at Atticus walking away from her. “I want everything that I was denied by being hidden away.”
Lauren sat behind Dani braiding her hair as she had when she was a little girl. Her daughter was a special gift now. She was always supposed to have two little girls but one just didn’t make it. Now all she had was her beloved daughter Dani. A child she loved fiercely and it was so amazing to see her children grow into parents themselves. She was about to have two new grandchildren to dote on and shower with all her love on. Braden had asked her if she was ready to start looking for her own love and life again. To be honest she wasn’t sure if she needed a man again. The stress that Walter placed in her life was almost too much to bare. It nearly drove her crazy and eventually took her to a place of darkness and resentment toward everything. She noticed she wasn’t as angry anymore. She didn’t have as many concerns. Slowly looking around she smiled at Dani reading a story to the twins. Brock had gotten Dylan back saying he fell over a hole. One thing about that man was he never could lie even when he was a kid. So she beat it out of him and it was a doozy. Dylan had seen KC when he fell and Jon and Braden were off trying to find a missing Miranda now.
“Can I tell you a secret? Maddie is over there icing Dylan’s wound but they are lying about how he got it. Dylan fell into a hole that was true but someone saved him that wasn’t Brock. They are saying it’s possible that KC is alive. I don’t know how but Miranda must be going insane if it’s true. If it isn’t they all have opened an old wound you know?” Looking at Dani she smiled. “You’re glowing and I just can’t help but remember that feeling of having a life inside of you. Last time was Victoria and she was so special. God, she was a redhead which your grandmother was. I thought this is the blessing you know? This is my mom coming back and showing me it’s okay because of her Vicki’s red hair. I know that sounds crazy, right? You know your grandmother died right before Victoria was born. All my pregnancies were good you, however, gave me the most problems. You kicked and kicked Dani and I was so angry with you because it was like you always were ready to run away from me. You have never been a mother’s girl, unfortunately, because you’re a daddy’s girl. You would kick every time Walter would sing to you. Oh, I’d hate it, I’d sing and not a thump. He’d sing you an Irish lullaby and you would be going crazy. I want you all to stop punishing him. He’s your father and angry as you might be, he didn’t betray you he betrayed me. All I can say is you’re happy and Braden’s happy and I’m so happy. It’s okay to let him be happy with us.” Wiping her eyes as she looked at Dani. “Sorry, this a happy conversation. These are happy tears that you have something I never got. You have a life that’s growing and thriving into something so beautiful. You have true love Dani don’t forget it.”
Dani was grateful that this year they were staying at the Devonshire cabin ok it was more like a mini mansion instead of a tent. They almost hadn’t gone but she and Jackson decided they needed a break from work and planning the wedding with Merci. Surprisingly that had been very easy after they had met with her, Merci had handled the guest list and they picked out the invitations. It helped that they were getting married after the twins came meaning setting an actual date on their calendars. They’d got the first round of steroid shots earlier that week for them as well a precaution that Ophelia said she preferred to take even though things were going well. It helped ease her mind as she knew this far along they could come early, which she wouldn’t be opposed to. She had sat down on the dock and watched Jackson swim in the lake instead deciding to read to the twins when her mother had joined her and started to braid her hair. They never talked about Victoria and if they did it was rare that was an old family wound she was so young when her sister died that night. Instead, she was the one that lived and she looked back at her mother glad that she was finally moving on from her father. She wasn’t ready to forgive him yet though, he had hurt her mother so badly. Her face showed complete shock at the KC information that wasn’t possible she had picked out the casket.
“Brock couldn’t lie his way out of a paper bag. Where is Miranda?” Dani asked almost deciding to get up and move only baby knucklehead on the right kicked her and she stayed put. They were so active lately and she was pretty sure it was because of Jackson he talked to them all the time and they reacted. “I remember Vicky’s shower it was pretty with pink garlands and flowers you had so many flowers. Grandma was there that was a good day when we were kids.” She didn’t know she had been the most stubborn of all her mother’s pregnancies she would have sworn that was her pain in the ass older brother. Not only did she know her father actually gave a shit, to begin with, half the time he acted like she was the plague and wanted nothing to do with her and she stared at her mother. “He hurt you, he had an affair with another woman and has some random kid running around out there. When you stayed and were faithful to him basically raising me and Braden while he carried out his insane feud with Lowell. He hurt me, I was never good enough for him growing up if I let him in he could do that to my kids. I don’t want that for them.” She refused to shed a tear over her father but she knew what her mother was doing trying to right wrongs. “You can be happy. Mom it is not to late go on some singles dating website or something. Go out have fun. I know what you’re trying to do to dad you want me to tell him to come to the shower don’t you?”
“Oh my God Dani I can’t do that going on the internet to find a date. That’s strange and I know you young people use those apps and things but Dani. I’m fine and I don’t want a man honestly. I don’t because all it has ever gotten me was heartbreak and sadness. You are still holding on to him being hard and cold. Dani as you will soon find out there is no book to being a mother or a father. Our mistakes trickle down on the kids and it chips away at the core of who they could be. Our mistakes with you guys were vast and plenty but I’d like to think that he’d do better with those two than the two he had when he wasn’t ready. He was bitter about Lowell and so much at that time sweetie but you need to understand it was never you. You were at one time his light and I miss him. I do but I don’t want to be with him anymore. When you share so many years with someone eventually. Yes, it is my way of asking you to let go and so what he has a child. I have two by him and she has one. So what you have a sibling out there you have your brother and me also. Dani let it go and let him back in both of you. I’ve invited him out here but he said he wasn’t coming because of you and Braden and Dylan. Even my grandson is pissed at him. I’m not mad anymore and I don’t want my children holding to it anymore.” Lauren said softly as she looked at her.
“Victoria’s baby shower was the most beautiful thing I saw. You know before Merci your grandmother could plan a hell of a party. I think Merci would absolutely love your nana because she would show her a thing or two. You know my mother was adopted into the Cummings family and that was one of the reasons I always volunteered at the girls home. I’m happy being a grandma and that’s it. I want to be grandma and mom and if loves finds me again. Then I’ll take it.” She said softly as she looked at Dani. “You have to let it go baby for them. They deserve what Dylan has with his grandfather and he’s mad at grandpop right now but he’ll come around. One thing you will learn as a mother is these two.” She wrapped her hand around Dani expanding waist. “Those two are resilient and they will fight back from whatever tragedy is around the corner for them. You just have to be there to help me up. Kinda like I’m doing now.” She touched her daughter’s face. “I’m sorry if I ever made you feel like you were second to Braden. I knew long ago you were searching for the love that Walter somehow couldn’t give you. I think losing us all in such short matter time has mellowed his cold icy heart. He understands he messed up.”
Dani agreed to drop the internet dating thing for her mother, for now, she just wanted her to be happy she wasn’t naive it was clear when her parents divorced without even a fight it was over. More than that it sank in for her and her brother that they had been the reason they stayed together and she wasn’t sure that was the healthiest thing for them growing up. Looking back on her childhood she could tell that when her sister died so tragically in the car while she lived had likely been the nail in the coffin. She had been young but she knew the grief had consumed her mom and dad to the point that he got even colder with her. The shower was something that she refused to take a back seat on and had been actively planning that with Merci and Jackson her father had not got an invite. She supposed that was her way of punishing him for everything that he had done to her mother and more so her as a child. She did thinking about her mother’s words and nodded her head at her.
“I didn’t know that about grandma. If they’re anything outside of me as they are in me I have a feeling karma may be coming for me and Jackson when it comes to them. I wanted to let you know first we aren’t going to name the girl after Vicky I don’t want to let you down. It’s just that we’ve tried to pick names that are really special to us. I don’t have a lot of memories of her. I remember playing with her, her red hair like grandmas. I remember getting in the car to head to Braden’s game. You’ve never even told me how I got out of the car when we wrecked.” Dani said looking at her mother she didn’t remember a lot of the details of that night she had been about eight or so. It was how she got her scar on her eyebrows and how she had broken her arm. She and Jackson had been keeping the names under lock and key but she didn’t want her mother to be disappointed that they weren’t going to honor her little sister this time may be down the road if they had more kids. “I’ll invite him but mom he has to be nice and he can’t start shit with Jackson again.” She relented as she watched Jackson swim up to them and sit next to her on the dock and she handed him his towel. Mentally she was counting down the days the bigger she got the more difficult them being intimate got sometimes. “Mom wants me to invite my dad to the shower and the wedding. I won’t agree to it if you don’t want him there.”
Lauren was grateful that Jackson finally swam up. Talking about Victoria killed her, and honestly, she missed her youngest child so much. When Dani asked how they got out she wanted to open her mouth but she bit her tongue. How do you tell your daughter that she owes her life to Forbes Montgomery? Forbes dragged them out of that car which was a shock to her because he was always so cruel. Lauren and Forbes had quite the friendship years ago they commiserate over there cheating spouses. They even shared a kiss but they both were in love with Walter and Audrey. It was odd to see Jackson and Dani so happy after all they were a Devonshire and Fraiser. After Lowell threw them all away she was sure they’d never get to this point. Jackie and she would tease each other back in the day about their children being together. “Please Jackson we might not be together but he’s still one-half of my children. I don’t want them to exile him because of my bad choices.” She saw Dani face when she said that. “I should have left him a long time ago and those bad feelings he had about you would go away. I just wanted you two not to be in a broken home. I wanted you to have good memories and I hurt you both more by staying.” She touched Dani’s hand as her voice cracked.
Jackson touched his future mother-in-law’s shoulder. As he sat on the other side of Lauren. “I want you to know if you want him there we will have him there. I appreciate this Lauren. You telling her to make him come. I feel like down the road she would have regretted it. I didn’t broach with you Dani but I know you love your dad. He needs to be here because he’s apart of our twins. Hell, I have issues in abundance with my dad but he’s coming. Look I just want you to know it’s okay to love your dad and your mom even though they aren’t together.” He touched Lauren back. “I got your back mom.” He said smiling at Dani.
Lauren laughed touching Jackson’s knee. “I told you I liked him.” She laughed at Dani kissing her daughter’s cheek. “Hey, I’m going to see what June is making on that grill and help set up some plates. You guys enjoy this day okay? I love seeing you two so happy and I love seeing you healthy Jackson. You and Tamara really have turned everything around for yourselves. I’m proud of you Jackson and I love you so much, Dani. I’m sorry if I didn’t tell you enough or if I didn’t ask why you were in such pain years ago. We’re going to fix this and all I need you to do is just try.” She said standing up dusting off her shorts wiping her eyes. “I’m sorry Victoria’s birthday is coming up and I’m just emotional this time of year. I’m off you two enjoy! My beautiful daughter I’m going to make you a huge plate and my son I’ll do the same.” Lauren smiled at Jackson as she walked away.
Dani looked at her mother watching her go she knew it was close to her sister’s birthday and that stung for all of them. She let out a sigh at the food comment she still ate a ton and she loved that everyone was able to take care of her like that but she wasn’t sure she could even take a full plate. “After we eat and I make sure Miranda is ok can we please head home and run a nice bubble bath for once the drama was not about us thank god. I’m glad we came today.” She finished looking up and kissing him before pulling back.
“I am too.” He saw his niece playing with Quinn. “Chauncey let Maddie come that’s a shocker I thought he was happy that she wasn’t no longer connected to Braden.” Jackson paused as smiled at her. “Of course whatever you want. You know this seems to be the most peaceful we’ve ever been. Which I’m grateful for and why is everyone whispering about KC? What’s going on.” He felt her leaning her head on him and he knew it was a story. “And why do you need to check on Miranda okay just explain.” He wrapped his wet body around Dani. “I’m happy we came too. But I want to do a lot more coming a little later.” Jackson playfully bit Dani’s neck.
Maddie had waited until Dani had gone to help Lauren over with the Harrisons before she approached her uncle who was drinking a beer sitting on one of the picnic tables. Part of the reason that she had convinced her father to let her come was to hang out with Dylan but the other part was that she knew her uncle was going to be there too. They had hardly spoken since the news of her grandfather’s illness had hit the family, he and Dani barely came around the mansion. Her grandparents were barely talking due to what that Zerick man was saying and she wanted her father and uncle to put aside their differences. Being around Dylan’s family she could tell that was something that was missing in the Devonshire’s half the time they were all at each other’s throats and with all the infighting she felt the important things were wasting away. Sure Dylan’s family was dysfunctional too and they all fought but they were always united too and she wondered what would happen when grandpa died. She shook her head at the thoughts as she looked down at her lemonade taking a seat next to her uncle on the table while she watched him look at Dani. She couldn’t wait for the twins to come to cousins finally.
“I know you and Dani are leaving in a little bit but I wanted to talk to something with you. I know that you and Rory are pissed at grandpa for what Zerick is saying and what not but why don’t you and Dani come around more? If it’s about dad uncle Jackson he’s hurting right now with grandpa even if he won’t admit it to anyone he is so scared that DGI will fall apart. Not to mention he has that Natasha woman around the mansion all the time too I barely know her and yet he wants her to be my next mother? Greer hurt his ego but at least he had an inkling of who she was she feels like a complete stranger.” Maddie said kicking her shoes against the wood bench and looking over at her uncle and she couldn’t tell what was on his mind. She was his favorite uncle he was always the fun uncle and she was happy he was so clear now, on the other hand, she wanted him and her dad to fix things between them. “I just don’t want to miss out on my cousins you know I get to be the older cousin finally. I don’t want to miss out on them while Dylan gets all the fun with them because you and dad are fighting. Can’t you guys try harder to fix things this time?”
Time had flown one moment she was a screaming toddler who he could only put to sleep and now she was a smart teenager. It was so cool to see the evolution of children but he wasn’t rushing it with his kids. He wanted them to almost stay in the womb to protect them from the cruel world that was out here. Huffing he saw she was serious and he knew it was time to talk to her seriously about everything. “Maddie, your father and I have some issues that are deeper than you know. When I was about your age we drifted apart as brothers and I don’t know how to fix that. Dad’s illness is deep and Zerick situation is even deeper. I’m staying away from the drama for once I’m happy Maddie. I have a family, I’m building and these people here surround me with love. I hate I can’t get that from my very own family but I’m getting it. I’m getting full relationships with people I never thought I would. I asked your father how can we fix this and he had no solution but I promise Maddie you are apart of their lives. I said something horrible to your dad recently and I wanted to text him and say sorry. I told him that I didn’t him apart of my children’s lives. I didn’t want your father to tell them I was a junkie. I didn’t want my son to lose faith in me like I have with my father.” Jackson nodded as he reached over the table.
“I don’t know how to fix what years of hate and betrayal have taken. The day you were born Maddie, I went on a bender a bad one. I overdosed and your grandparents rushed to New York. Chauncey needed them but they came to me. I was up when they walked in and the look on my mother’s face I’ll never forget it. She was disgusted because I hadn’t overdosed. It’s something I’ve kept buried for a long time. I did it because I was jealous. I hated my brother was getting all the love and shine. He needed them and I took them away not knowing that your mother died in birth. Maddie, Logan was incredible and you have so much of her in you. Like seriously you are sunshine and optimistic just like her. I just don’t know what to do any more kid. I have said I’m sorry. I have begged and pleaded with your dad. I just don’t think we will ever be a family or brothers. Were all too broken that’s why I like seeing you here. This is how a family should be.” Jackson smiled at her. “You know no matter what I love you and nothing will keep us apart or you apart from me and the twins and Dani.”
Maddie stared at her uncle and felt bile rising in her stomach at the lengths her father and uncle would go to hurt each other and one-up each other. Her dad did some shady stuff especially with Esme but hearing her uncle confess to dragging her grandparents away after her mother died made her do a double take. She wanted to hate him for it but she didn’t know or understand the circumstances, her mother died from a complicated delivery that was no secret. Her father had never shied away from telling her that and she did wish that her mother had lived but then again Selina wouldn’t be the person she thought of as a mother if she did. She bit her lip not sure what to say to make it better or even if she could she was just a teenager, a teenager that her grandfather always told her was on the rise. She was one of the only kids that would get to work at a real place in DGI with school in the fall and college. Her destiny was already in front of her and she took a sip of lemonade except it wasn’t either. Soon her father would marry that cold atrocious stranger and she’d have to pretend, her grandfather would die and Selina would marry the prince too. She still had Dylan but she wondered how long that would really last when it all came down to it.
“Not everyone hates you at the mansion grandma doesn’t and even if I wanted too, I can’t. You’ve always been there for me growing up and my mom God my mom dad said she wasn’t strong enough that something went wrong when I was born. It all happened so fast he said and Selina was there to help him afterward.” Maddie said it felt nice to talk about her mother her dad didn’t she knew the details about her birth a c-section that ended with her mother dying on the table due to her cord being wrapped around her throat. She had always wondered what it was like back then for her father, Chauncey and Selina were they all friends how would her mother have felt. Selina moving in on her husband in grief with an infant daughter. She had looked at her parents’ wedding pictures they were happy for a short time. “Why don’t you tell him that then? Can’t you at least text him that and try again? You know what will happen if he marries that woman she’ll likely decide I’m better off in boarding school. Selina will be too busy with her new life with the prince, Dylan has all this and dad will go along with his new pretty wife.”
“No way would we allow you to go to boarding school, Maddie.” He said looking at her seriously. Jackson had gone to reform school but never boarding school because his parents wanted a change in him. Jackie was so lost without him those few months she sent for him to come home. It didn’t hurt that he was begging on a regular basis. “I need you to hear this. With all the changes happening you are our one constant. You have exceeded all our expectations and already have a sharp business mind. Look I promise if it comes down to it you can move in with Dani and I. I’m serious if things are that bad and you feel like Natasha will send you away. I’ll step in and take you with me. That’s a promise Maddie and I mean it.” Jackson paused hearing his niece begging to fix the past. He wasn’t sure he could. How could he mend a lifetime of hatred? Or the rivalry they have had? Jackson leaned in and grabbed Maddie hand. “For you, I will try one more time and I mean it if he rejects me. Or rejects my love I will walk away and never look back. I asked him why did he hate me so much and he said it was dad basically. It was the fact I didn’t have to work hard at their attention and he craved it. I got their attention in the worst ways. You always had me wrapped around your little finger.”
When she spoke about Logan he felt bad, so Chauncey never told her how amazing her mother was? “You know right now you’re really reminding me of Logan. She wanted Chauncey and me to mend fences. She was almost too good to be true. You know your dad and how calculating he can be. Well, Chauncey wasn’t like that with Logan. He was different. I don’t know how to explain but I know what it was. He loved her not that pretend crap that he’s doing now. Chauncey loved Logan really deeply. It’s amazing to me because honestly right now I know what he was feeling. Having a good woman in your life that completes you man it changes things. He was truly complete with her and um, to be honest, he never recovered. He became who he is today because of what happened that night. It pushed him to be the best even if it meant hurting all of us. I know you don’t understand why we hate each other. I know you think it’s stupid as hell but you don’t bury that much resentment. I don’t know how to turn the page with him. I guess you’d say.”
She’d put on a tough face over the summer but Selina leaving had really hurt her like throwing her away for a wild ride with a prince, she still loved her but she felt like she couldn’t rely on her. Her father deciding that he was going to marry a complete stranger didn’t help any and she nodded her head at her uncle. Even though she wasn’t Dylan’s real sister, she did appreciate that his family still treated her like that and she watched as he limped up to them with his bandaged knee. Likely so that Braden could take her back to the mansion and she flipped her hair behind her back. Everyone was ragging on her grandfather lately, he was her idol she adored him and she wanted to believe that those rumors weren’t true on the other hand she wasn’t sure she should adore him if what her dad and her uncle were saying either. Taking a sip of her lemonade again she nodded her head at her uncle.
“She looked really happy with dad in their wedding pictures I wish I would have gotten to know her and the rest of the Jensen’s. Like I know who they are because of Skype and cards and I overheard grandma talking that they blame dad for taking Logan away from them but I don’t know it’s nice to know that side of me.” Maddie said she honestly wondered if she could ever really talk to her dad about her mother. It was such a painful subject to him and maybe that was why he was so terrible most of the time that he had a cold heart because of what happened to her mother. “I wouldn’t want to impose on you and Dani and my cousins could you imagine dealing with teenage drama on top of newborns? Push came to shove maybe you could convince dad to let me stay with Braden and Dylan. All that I’m asking is that you can at least try with him? I want to know the twins like I’m getting to spend time with Fox too that is all.”
“I promise I will give my all to mending the fences with your father. Look I said what I said you ever can’t stay with Natasha and Chauncey then you can come with me. I promise you won’t be imposing if anything that would give you more time to know the twins. Dani wouldn’t mind I know that and you have to know you always have a place at my home. I love you like you were my own. For some reason when I held you kid you stopped crying and I love you so much Maddie no matter me and Chauncey go through. You are the best of my brother you hear me. When I see you with him, I see the brother that I need. So for you my beloved niece I will try so hard to let go of the past and open up a new chapter. I just hope your dad is ready for that. Maddie right now with scandals bringing down empires. I’m scared for us all and you are right we need to tighten our ranks because things could go really bad for us all. I’m telling you this for one reason. If things get hard and being a Devonshire isn’t in favor anymore we will only have each other.” Jackson said wondering how she was doing with all the rumors about her grandfather. He didn’t have time to question seeing Dylan approaching.
“Look go on and Braden has to take you guys home. I don’t want the poor kid to hobble over here and I think I have an idea. Your aunt Taylor is always traveling how about we go to where she is at on winter break. I can make it a big deal we can take the twins on their first vacation and you can bring Dylan. Did you see that location shoot she did in Vogue? You have some cool ass family and if you want to explore them we can. I can get your father to do that with you also. It hurts him to talk about Logan but we all loved Logan and if you are missing your other side well you can have both worlds.” Maybe right now while his father was under investigation for a possible rape she shouldn’t be looking up to him. Maddie idolized Lowell and it was something he knew for a fact. Hell, they all did and that’s why this was so devastating to them all. Him having Bliss wasn’t another point in his court. If he did this to his aunt how could they even look at him the same sick or not?
Maddie looked over at her uncle and nodded her head at him before hugging him and then getting off the table she felt terrible for having Dylan hobble over to her. “Thanks, uncle Jackson for the talk and listening. I’ll see you at the baby shower.” She said brightly she felt better after talking to her and maybe making him see if he and her dad could work on fixing things they as Devonshire’s could be like the Fraiser’s and start that bonding before it was too late. Not to mention as she met Dylan and they walked to Braden’s car he was going to help her reach out to her aunt Taylor for a visit in the winter which would be perfect if he could make it happen.
Merci was running down the lake with Devin chasing her. She couldn’t stop laughing because honestly today was a day she never imagined. To be honest she wasn’t the type of girl who did family events. Hell, this wasn’t even his family but they considered him family. Lauren had made her a plate and she ate well. Dani looked at her with the devil’s eyes honestly she didn’t blame her. She broke up Miranda and Devin in more than a few ways. She just pointed out the fatal flaws that were clearly there. As she turned around she slowed down. “Alright, you won,” Merci said running into his arms and wrapping her legs around his waist. Leaning in she kissed him passionately as she ran her hands through his curls. “What?” She said him staring at something jumping down she turned around and saw Devin looking at Miranda. Biting her lip she knew what she had to do. They were going to be at many more events together and she refused to be uncomfortable. “Give me five minutes alone with her and if it looks bad then come to pull us apart. No arguing.” She kissed him quickly and jogged to Miranda.
“Hey? I saw Quinn she is by far the cutest kid I’ve ever seen. I want to talk to you Miranda! Miranda? Earth to Miranda look I’m trying to do the mature thing and apologize but if you want to be bitchy and just act like I’m not here. I’ll go back over there to my hulking boyfriend who happens to be your ex-boyfriend.” She saw Miranda finally snap into the conversation. “Good your paying attention to me. I’m absolutely sure that you hate me and I deserve it. I just want to thank you for moving out the way. Devin should have never been with you and I think you know that. You deserve to be the strong single momma you were destined to be. I love a new cut and color it really brings out your loneliness.” Merci bit her tongue. “Sorry, it’s force of habit to read you for filth. I’m saying I was out of line last year.”
Miranda was still reeling from everything that had happened KC was off in the woods or around the beach somewhere and she was so fucking angry. Angry didn’t even really describe it at the moment angry, love, torn apart would be what she would have described her emotions at the moment. She had mourned her husband and now he was back and she was so torn about what was going on now that he was alive and well. She had mourned a ghost in some ways in others she had mourned a real man as well they all did. She had eyed Merci from afar and tried to not let her jealousy and hate from the last year get in the way when Devin had pulled up with her in tow. She had bit her tongue when they had eaten earlier with Dani kicking her under the table to not start a huge fight with her even though they had both shot daggers at Devin and Merci. This, however, was just too much today especially when it came to Quinn. Quinn was her daughter and frankly, she didn’t want someone like Merci even remotely around her.
“Moving out of the way? Girl the only thing I did was tell Devin to pick when your pimp drug dealing boyfriend decided to commit suicide by cop. I should have just wagged my finger and left you out in the cold where you belong. You think you fit in here because June and Lauren were being nice to you? That anyone here even really wants you here let alone thinks of you as part of the family?” Miranda said finally standing up and brushing off the sand off her shorts as she stared at Merci and all her anger came boiling to the surface at the other girl and she looked as she saw Devin and Dani looking at them. Pointing her finger at Merci she couldn’t help herself now the girl wanted to apologize? For coming onto Devin repeatedly while they were together. Not to mention overstepping her bounds with Quinn on more than one occasion. “Why are you even here? We’re not friends Merci we never will be you came onto my boyfriend at the time going as far as to taking your dress off and throwing yourself at him like the whore you and Skye are. When that didn’t work you turned on your little tears dramatically when Kendrick was shot. Stay the hell away from my daughter don’t talk to her don’t try and be friends with her.”
“I knew it,” Merci said looking at Miranda. “I knew you were just as nasty as any other girl. You try to act like one of the boys but honey I see your claws. Finally, you aren’t acting so superior and I can finally tell you exactly what I think about you. You frigid bitch don’t ever and I mean ever bring up Kendrick. I didn’t bring up your dead ass husband. He more than likely ran into that bullet to get away from your miserable ass. You are incredible Miranda a cop who is just as nasty and bitchy as me. But I win because I have the man you had. I have the life you had and I have everything you wanted. Hell maybe if KC was alive he’d want it too.” Waving her hand down her body. Merci had always liked Quinn and it was funny that little girl found her way to her no matter what. She was intrigued with a real beauty. It was when she pointed her finger at her face she had enough.
“You know Miranda, Lauren volunteered in my group home. I’ve known her for years before I went after Devin. So no Lauren’s not just being nice bitch. I know her very well and as for whoring it wasn’t my speed. It’s not my fault Devin couldn’t resist me. You know what I learned in a group home? To fight bitch for everything I want. I scrapped by my entire life unlike you sweetie. But you want your child to stay away from me? Tell stay her to stay the fuck away from me.” Taking off her diamond earrings she stuffed them in her pocket. Stepping back just a little so she’d be in position. “You seem to think because you are a cop you can’t get your ass whooped. Bitch bring it because I’m tired of your shit. I have been wanting to do this for a long long time. Let’s go bitch matter fact.” Merci bawled up her fist and punched Miranda dead in the eye. “Say something else about me and Skye bitch. Come on? I’m ready because you still woman ho!” People seem to forget she was arrested in her youth all the time for fighting. She was angry and she was from Philly and Scottswood. Not today not ever would this bitch just keep disrespecting her. Skye was all she had and she wouldn’t throw shade at her and Kendrick and get away with it. “Come on bitch do your worst.”
Miranda looked at her and when the fist threw for her face she was caught off guard and before she knew what came over her, her own fist was up and she punched Meric straight in the nose in return. She was so tired of her being in her face all the time, so tired of her trying to take everything in her life from Devin to Quinn and her bringing up that KC would want her to set off a rage inside of her. She knew fist were flying and she didn’t care as she and Merci battled it out she heard people screaming at them and didn’t care as she continued to hit the other girl back. She thought that she was so tough because she grew up in some poor little orphanage and expected everyone around her to feel sorry for her when it came to her going after things that weren’t hers. Not to mention the trashy behavior that both she and Skye had and she felt strong hands around her waist and shoulders as she and Merci rolled in the sand and looked up at her KC, her brother, Jackson, and Dani dragging her off Merci. She saw Devin and Brock pulling Merci back and she let out a laugh.
“You are such an entitled bitch I fucking hate you. I’ll mention Kendrick as much as I fucking want for kidnapping Dani and Yasmine and then you dare to act like he was some saint. Girl, he was a straight-up murderer that was fucking your ass because he knew you were nothing but a whore who could be bought. A couple of nice bags and clothes here and there if it walks like a duck and talk like a duck it’s a duck.” Miranda said wiping at her lip which was bleeding she stared at Merci up and down with wild eyes and looked at the other girl daring her to go again with her. She saw Merci staring wide-eyed at KC in shock and she felt her body shaking all over in anger that was raging in her towards everyone and everything that moved including Merci DuBois at the moment. “Jesus get off me all of you. She started it last year and yet I’m just supposed to ignore it over and over again? I don’t fucking think so. Stay away from me, my daughter and my husband go get your own damn life keep your nose out of mine.”
Merci held her own against a trained cop that was enough for her to feel satisfied. When she saw KC standing with Jon and Braden. She felt an urge to scream out the double standard. “I’m entitled omg this the funniest joke of them all. Look you have a walking Lazarus risen from his grave. Nice to see you KC alive and well. I’ll stay away from you, your husband, and even your child. I don’t care about you enough to hate you. You’re pathetic here you are fighting me and KC’s alive. Girl, go be with your man! Oh, don’t look me like that.” She hissed at Devin and Brock. “She gets everything the support of a loving friend Dani. The love of an adorn brother Jon. For her third act everyone, her husband rises from the fucking ground. I’m entitled! That’s a joke! You have everything and you’re mad because for once you couldn’t have Devin. He was never yours, ever! As for Kendrick you sad little woman. I don’t a man to pay for my expensive bags and dresses honey I work for the Devonshire’s, the Kincaids and every other family that has more money than you. Sweetie I get a cop yearly salary from three gigs don’t try me, bitch, I’m self-made and I always will be.” Merci said as she touched her nose which hurt like a bitch.
“And one more thing. Kendrick was a lot of those things but he didn’t leave me to raise a child by myself. He didn’t make me feel like I was alone when he was alive the entire time. Man, you must have a broken pussy.” Stomping her foot she turned to Devin and knew he was furious with her she didn’t give a damn. “Don’t lecture me about her! She is vile and vindictive and worst of all she copied my haircut. Say something, Devin!”
“Enough who is this girl?” KC said looking at her. Watching them unleash on each other was a thing of fury. Miranda was fighting her as if she was a perp on the street. The other girl was fighting as if she had fought her entire life. It was clear neither one of the won per-say but they both kicked each other ass. “Listen you don’t get to talk to her like that. Who the hell are you? June and Richard invited you out here so don’t be disrespectful to her like that. This is for the Harrison family and they do this every year. I’m sure neither of you will get invited next year.”
“I’m crying,” Merci said rolling her eyes. Just looking at Devin she knew that look. He was intrigued by Lazarus returning from the grave. “Omg! Do you want to say here after I dragged her ass? Devin no! My name is Merci Dubois and I hate your wife. Your daughter is incredibly cute unfortunately she came from that harpy! Nice to meet you, Lazarus.”
Dani stood to keep her hand on Miranda’s shoulder this was all so fucked up and she saw Jackson’s shocked face. Seeing KC alive and in the flesh and she looked at Merci she had nerve but she also knew that for Miranda this was not about Merci. It was about KC being alive nothing more and nothing less. She looked over at Jon to say anything and instead looked at Devin. “Just take her somewhere else will you?”
Devin looked at the people he considered friends and he turned pale as a ghost as he looked at KC Rhodes in the flesh and he suddenly felt ill. He’d fucked one of his best friends wife, granted they both that he was dead and buried and he looked at Merci crying and knew that right now this was not about her. She had caught Miranda obviously at a bad time and apology or not Miranda was likely reeling from seeing KC alive. He was honestly speechless the man was dead cold and buried six feet under.
“Get off me,” Miranda yelled at them all especially her husband and she shoved all the hands off her and looked at Merci. “Just leave and don’t come back to any family function of mine ever again.” She said and then turned to KC punching him straight in the nose. “You ruined everything and now it’s all so fucked up.” She felt like screaming and worse she felt like they were all staring at her so she started to storm down the beach leaving them all standing there speechless.
KC stood with blood trickling down his nose. Wiping it with his thumb he gritted his teeth as he stood watching her go. Would she resent him forever? Did she not listen to what he said? He was fucking in a coma for a year. Cracking his knuckles he threw up his hands. “Miranda! We have to talk about this! Miranda! Fuck!” He screamed turning around and seeing everyone looking at him. “What you haven’t seen a damn man come back from the dead before,” KC grunted as he walked toward the food. Hell everyone knew he was alive no reason not to get a damn plate.
Braden had finally made his way back to the campsite with Jon after breaking up the catfight from hell with Miranda and Merci KC was already there staring at the flame while Devin eyed him with the side eye. The news was still a shock to him he was still reeling from seeing KC alive and well and in the flesh, it was real though. All the pain that KC had put everyone through more so that the feds had put them all through. It also made him question the legal system for the first time in years when it came to his position at the DA’s office. He wanted the mob and the gangs off the streets there was no question about that, he wanted Atlas Falls to be safe again for people to walk down even the worst parts of town without the violence that was there. He wanted Dylan to not be afraid to be in the Scottswood area, he wanted the drugs that the cartel were supplying and running off the streets. He wanted to nail Ronan the right way more. Shoving his hands in his pockets he looked at Jon and Devin, then at KC.
“I’m going to take Dylan and Maddie back home, it’s getting late and Dylan needs to rest his leg. Chauncey let me have Maddie for the day and I don’t want to step too hard on those bounds so I told him I’d have her home too. I leave no one is going to start throwing fists again or killing each other are they?” Braden asked looking between KC and Devin and he could swear that you could cut that tension with a knife and serve it for dinner and it wouldn’t go away. The history between them and knowing that Devin was sleeping with Miranda last year was messed up as fuck on all fronts and he could even tell Jon was still apprehensive about KC being back. He didn’t know how he felt he would do anything to protect his family probably even going as far as to fake his death if he was that desperate on the other hand that was fucked up too. “I mean it I’m not going to be seeing anyone in court on charges am I?”
Devin folded his arms as he stared at Jon and then over at KC no he wasn’t going to start a fight with KC but he was pissed as hell at him. He was still reeling from seeing the grizzly faced man and his friend on the beach earlier that day. It made sense now why Miranda was so fucking pissed and started a fist fight with his girlfriend then again maybe now that she and Merci had it out their feud could be over. He couldn’t believe that the good and honorable KC Rhodes had done something so cruel to the woman that he claimed to love, that he at the very least didn’t tell the FBI to have her and his friends in on the little scheme the last few years. That he had put Miranda through picking out a fucking coffin for him and believing that he was dead, that he let his own daughter believe he was dead for years. Part of him now felt guilty as hell for having his friends wife too that was beyond fucked up because he believed that KC was dead he would have never slept with Miranda had he known the truth. He leaned back and took a breath nodding his head at Braden, Jon still looked pissed as hell at KC as well.
“Yeah, I won’t be calling you to defend me get Dylan and Maddie home,” Devin said trying to keep his emotions in check as best as he could while KC glared at him through the fire. Braden had enough drama in his life that he didn’t want to cause him anymore and should he arrive in court he wouldn’t place his friend in that position any way he’d call Mason. Regardless he got why Miranda was so upset earlier with Merci more so she was upset about KC. His mind drifted to Quinn and his heart hurt that she had to mourn her father and then keep him a secret on top of that who did that to their own kids? He watched as Braden walked away and then poked a stick he was holding onto the bonfire. “You have a lot of fucking nerve just showing back up and expecting things to go back to how they were when your ass was dead. Newsflash when you lie to people about being dead they tend to move on with their life. You have a problem with me say it.”
“Don’t fucking lecture me. You have some audacity rookie. I trained you kid and made you the cop you are. Then when my wife is at her lowest peak you choose to swoop in and play hero with my woman. Man, that’s low Devin even for you.” KC said looking at him gritting his teeth. “I don’t expect things to go back the way they were. You see I have to stay dead and keep a low profile thus the reason I didn’t come back. So keep your woman’s mouth closed about me being alive. Ronan would go after Quinn and Miranda just to get to me. I see you think you know about sacrifice? You didn’t give up anything. God, why does everyone just think I gave up my life? Huh? You think I walked away from seven years? A one-year-old daughter who I adore? A kid that I had to lie to? And pretend that I was her imaginary friend? You think that made me feel good? I didn’t know what else to do but love her when I shouldn’t have been. I didn’t fucking walk away. But I don’t have to explain myself to you or anyone else here. As long as Miranda understands that I didn’t abandon my family and her. Then me being here alive is my problem not yours anymore. Stay the fuck away from Miranda, Quinn hell my entire life. Since you wanted it so badly. You just slid in. Jon’s newest partner, Braden’s close friend, Brock’s amigo, and you even had my wife and kid. You know if I didn’t know any better Devin I’d think you were going Single White Female Me or All About Eve me?” KC laughed looking at him boiling angry.
“No, I don’t have anything to say to you. I have so many things to say to you. You are a fake version of me. You replaced me in their lives with no real substance. You see I’m back now and maybe your place isn’t so secure just like your girlfriends. But I don’t have the energy or time to sit here and tell what a fake asshole you are. I’d rather go get my woman. So if we’re mean mugging each other. I think I don’t have anything else to say about or to you.” KC stood up and dusted off his pants. “I trusted you and you betrayed me in the worse way, Devin. You just took over my fucking life. You were my friend man! If that woman you call your girlfriend would have lost you and I was single I would have never. I would have never crossed that line but you did and I’m not sure I can even look at you the same.” KC said as the fire crackled between them at the campsite. “I hope you enjoyed having your place here. You won’t be welcomed back as long as I’m here.”
Devin stood up from the campfire throwing the stick into the flame as he glared at KC who in the hell was he to just come back and act like he stole Miranda from him. That was not how that shit went down, they’d both believed he had been dead for years. They took their time and tiptoes around his ghost for over a year which was why they broke up in the end anyway but he didn’t’ steal anything. Jon was assigned to him it was how the chips fell not to mention he was Jon’s friend long before KC and he got close in the military. They had all grown up together and he wasn’t going to apologize for that with KC Rhodes that he left and he was the one that stayed behind and got those relationships. He looked at Jon who was standing there and already knew how this would play out Jon would either take his side or KC’s when the blows came. Miranda had put her life on the line in that club last year and for a fucking ghost and that pissed him off to no end, she did it for KC to nab Ronan for a murder he didn’t even commit.
“Go back to whatever coma you were in, life was way better without you in it, that’s right you heard me. I will not apologize for taking care of Miranda and Quinn while you were gone because you were too much of a coward to have your handler boy Diego tell anyone what was going on. I didn’t steal anything.” Devin said shoving KC back for good measure this fool was something else thinking that he poached his girl. No his ass was dead until twenty-four hours ago and he saw Jon take a few steps towards them standing in the middle and he looked at his partner and friend. “Let me hit him, Jon, you know you want too. Miranda put her ass in danger last year for your lying deceased ass. Hell Diego let her put herself in danger working undercover at Ronan’s club. Seems to me if you really loved her and Quinn you could have had Diego squash that shit fast yet you did nothing.”
“You are pathetic, because if you knew Miranda no matter what she would have done that. Even if it wasn’t for me. She would have gone undercover and took that chance because honestly, she’s that type of cop. I know her as a woman and cop you don’t. And hit me you son of a bitch you don’t have it in you.” KC said stepping forward. “I wasn’t a coward I was the one close enough to take down Ronan and once again I’m ahead of you two. Yeah, I said it. I have an inside with someone very close to Mr. Madden and once again I’m going to bring him down. Not just him with what he did to me but what I know previously and right now. I’m going to decimate Ronan and bring him down. Now, what did me stepping out of the shadows have to do with the plan. We all have unseen mistakes enter the game what about Jamal. Well, Miranda going undercover killed me but I couldn’t mess up everything.”
KC knew he was being unreasonable and he couldn’t help it. Devin did take on his life and maybe one day when he wasn’t hurting as bad as right now. Not feeling less of a man and attacked he could thank him for looking after his family. Right now he was bitter and jealous and all he could do was be an asshole because he lost. He lost so much time with Miranda and Quinn that he would never get back and he was jealous. He was angry and right now he was sick of being punched and talked to like shit. He thought everyone would honestly roll out the red carpet but that was ego talking. KC was always a thrill junkie thus him leaving the military, going into law enforcement, and eventually going into the big leagues in the FBI. Now his ambition had never hurt him until literally killed him. When Ronan shot him he thought he was dead but he had an angel on his shoulder. He survived and right now all he saw was red because nobody understood or cared about what he had been through. Devin implying he didn’t care about Miranda pissed him all the more. KC drew back with his right but quickly swung with his left and jabbed Devin directly in his eye. “Come on!” Before he knew it they were throwing blow for blow. He felt Jon’s around him and he saw Brock grabbing Devin. “Fuck you!”
Devin didn’t know what overcame him as he and KC began to swing at each other over and over again he was so mad at him for putting them all in this position, to begin with. That was the crux of it for him everything could have been avoided with him and Miranda if he had just said something instead he had stayed in the hidden shadows alive and for God knew how long. His face hurt as he felt a few blows hit his jaw and then he saw Brock dragging him off KC and looked at the other man his own damage evident all over his face. A draw he supposed as he spat to clear his mouth and saw blood come out and Brock looked like he was going to beat them both down as was Jon and he felt Brock shove him back to cool off. Merci was staring at the confrontation she likely had never seen him come to blows before with someone else and over Miranda and he felt bad about that. On the other hand, he cared for Miranda and Quinn as a friend and had been a huge part of their life the last year.
“Fuck you I didn’t take your wife you left her.” Devin spat and felt Brock shove him more to Meric and he threw up his hands as he had enough and started to walk away.
“Walk it off Devin, now,” Brock said looking at him and then at Jon to get KC under control he hated this. Seeing all his friends fighting throwing punches at everyone left and right over what happened. He was still reeling from the news that KC was alive and well and he honestly didn’t know how he felt about it. He wasn’t the one that KC hurt the most that was Miranda looking at Jon he spoke. “You got this? I better go ice his face.”
“I got him go. Devin go cool off man and you two please stop for Miranda sake alright my sister is processing this and I don’t know how she will handle all this.” Jon said sternly. “I love you both like brothers and I need this shit worked out. Even though I’m pissed at you KC, I couldn’t be happier that you’re home. You should thank Devin because he fucking helped raise Quinn to be the amazing kid you see. He’s part of her and he’s apart of the family so man we all have to figure out how to make this work for Quinn and Miranda.” Jon declared walking to the cooler pulling out a napkin in his back pocket. Then quickly scooping up some ice. “Here you’re going to need that.”
“What no steak?” He said looking at Jon as he watched Devin charge off and Merci following him. “Don’t even say it, Jon,” KC said walking off toward where Miranda charged off too.
Miranda sat on the beach a blanket wrapped around her Dani’s arm on her shoulder after the fight they’d had a long talk about KC returning. She needed her best friend to set her straight and Dani had done that. Reminded her that she loved KC and yes KC may have lied and gone away but the alternatives would have been much worse and it chilled her. Had Ronan dug more maybe he would have figured out where she and Quinn were and eliminated them too from the equation. That didn’t mean that she didn’t get to be mad at KC hell in her best friends words if Jackson had pulled the same stunt he’d be in the doghouse for years, but it did make her stop and see the other side. She had also reminded her that they said until death do they part and she had never really buried or let go of KC so maybe in the back of her mind she knew he wasn’t really gone. Wiping her hands on her face she nodded her head at Dani. She was calm as she looked over at her best friend and squeezed her hand.
“Thanks. Somehow you always make me feel better everything is so fucked up right now.” Miranda said not sure what else to say to her as she leaned in and hugged her best friend and then her back stiffened as she watched KC walk towards them.
Dani had sat and listened and also did what she was good at when it came to Miranda Harrison made her see reason. They weren’t best friends for nothing. She like everyone else was still reeling from KC being alive but damn if she didn’t know that Miranda would always be in love with him just like she was with Jackson. She was still pissed as hell at KC for what he put Miranda through but she knew that Miranda was calm enough to actually talk to her husband and she saw Jackson waiting for her by the car. She almost didn’t take KC’s hand when he helped her but realized being this big she needed it and she brushed off the sand from her maxi dress and looked at him dead in the eyes. He pissed Miranda off or hurt her anymore she’d go find him and hunt him down like no other. Quinn was her goddaughter and if he was just popping back in to disappear again with that spook shit he could stay gone.
“Talk to your wife. If you dare hurt her or Quinn like that again I’ll find you and I’ll make you wish you were never born. You love her I know that she knows that but don’t you dare start popping in and out again FBI or not.” Dani said eyeing him up and down seeing Miranda nod at her as she walked away to the waiting car ready to escape the drama from the last part of the day.
He was so over everyone threatening him today. They know he was an FBI agent right? Well, somehow he felt Dani threat more than others. She meant it while Jon and Devin were just pissed right now. When she left them alone he sat down by her and rolled up his pants to dig his feet in the sand. “I never thought they’d look at me like trash. I thought everyone would be happy to see me again. It didn’t even cross my mind that everyone would think I just left you two. I’m overwhelmed and I can’t even process how you must be feeling. I was dead twenty-four hours ago to you. Now I’m right here Miranda and I’m sorry that I failed. I truly failed as a father, as a husband, as an officer of the law. I failed and it cost me so three years without you. I know that you must look at me and feel nothing but hatred. I stayed away purposely after I escaped Diego, it was hard because I saw you with Devin. You looked happy and I for one thought that you had moved on. I knew I was too late and my family had someone just as good as me. It hurt to think that you were ok without me.” KC said looking at the waves of Lake Everest crashing on the beach.
KC took a deep breath and wiped his eyes. “I never thought I’d lose you. I never thought I’d be in a coma and let Ronan ambush me like that. I messed up and I paid a price that I never thought I would. But Miranda I never thought I would leave it. You were mine and I loved that but I guess my ego stopped me from stepping forward. Then I saw Quinn the best part of me and you. I’ll do whatever for her because she knew from the first time she saw me I think. She made me want to come forward every day I hide in the shadow. I didn’t want to put you two in danger and I was in witsec. I would never deny you the fact that I was alive. The FBI is using me and along with Diego so don’t hate him. He did just across the world with Zach to find his kid and they came up empty but he’s paying for this shit too. Look I’m going to bring down Ronan but everyone here will be briefed tomorrow by agents. I just exposed myself and now they have to move fast against Ronan and the cartel before they figure out that I’m alive. But Miranda it’s me and I haven’t moved past 2014 and I was in that cabin holding you. I was swimming out here and you were holding Quinn in the water. I see everything in slow motion and reverse. I woke up and it was the end of 2015 do you understand that? I missed The Avengers Age Of Ultron and you know I love my comics. I’m sorry you are pissed and I’m joking but that’s all I know how to do to fix what I have done. I stayed away because I’m a witness and I can bring down Ronan but I can’t stay away and stay out of this fight any longer. I gotta be with my wife and family. I gotta tell my mom and dad I’m alive God my little brother.” KC covered his mouth. “Miranda this is been killing me and I’m so sorry.”
Miranda listened to him talk and reminded herself that she had to hear his side of things too and now that she was calmer she could that didn’t mean that she forgave him though or that they would automatically go back to normal. Normal was so far gone from her reality now and she did understand how he might have felt with her and Devin, on the other hand, she would have never got with Devin had she of known the truth. All it would have taken was one phone call from Diego or any of the people at the FBI to tell her what was going on she would have uprooted herself and Quinn to go into witsec with him and that was the most hurtful part. There were better ways for him and the FBI to handle this than making her, Quinn and their friends and family think he was dead for over five years. In reality, she knew that he was doing what he was told but the bitterness she felt towards the FBI and the people there that knew her and Quinn especially Diego she felt would be there for years to come. It would have been hard to say goodbye to her family especially Jon and her other siblings, it would be hard to leave her friends but she would give anything to change time and do that and go into witsec with him opposed to the lie they had forced her to live. The guilt for being with Devin because of that ached in her now, he and KC were friends and she had destroyed that not knowing the truth real friends just didn’t fuck other friends spouses.
“Why didn’t you tell them to tell me? Did you think that I wouldn’t have gone into hiding with you? I would have done anything uprooted our child from her family from the friends that helped me with her for us to be a family. The moment that you woke up you should have asked, no you should have demanded that Diego came to me and drug me and Quinn into witsec instead of continuing with the ruse. I grieved you, David was so broken after you died he started an affair with Ophelia Delacroix he was hurt so bad his big brother was gone. I was so torn up about what happened to you for years I channeled that into my job.” Miranda said looking at him with tears in her eyes for the time missed if anything. she still loved him. He was still the man she loved and had since college and that summer break when they finally made love for the first time and she kept it a secret from Jon. He had changed her life dramatically the rush of their life together and the adventure that drew them together. “I’m so angry at you for what you let them put me through KC we missed years. You missed years with Quinn. It was you wasn’t it at the New Years party you pushed me out of the way of the car that almost hit me. Who was in the car trying to run me down?”
KC scratched his head as he listened to her rational about them somehow being together. He gulped and prayed this didn’t make it worse because he had to say it. “What if he found out? What if he knew I was alive and he went after you? Miranda, it would have killed me if he got to you or Quinn to get to me. I had to keep it silent because what other true choice did I have? You would have run to me and I knew it. I knew that you wouldn’t rest until you were with me in witsec and what type of life would that be for Quinn? I know I messed up badly by just stay away but I thought I was protecting you. Do you know what me being alive means? Ronan shot me and intended on killing me. That means they have him on attempted murder right there. We got him but the FBI wants the whole cartel to fall. This is the chance we never had and I know it’s wrong to keep silent but Randa what if he came after Quinn or you or my family and hell what about yours? I can’t do it. I can’t let someone else get hurt because I failed and I know that seems selfish but I just didn’t want to fall on the sword again without slicing him down with me.” KC said honestly and he saw Miranda got it. “He killed Kendrick Watkins no matter that Jon pulled the trigger. He was going to have him killed. Some dirty cops at the precinct were going to do it. Don’t ask me how I know because you know I can’t tell you.”
KC looked at her and grabbed her hand. “I did what I thought was right until I couldn’t handle it anymore. You are so right it was me who saved you last year. Another reason I stuck around is that I saw someone after you. I don’t know who or why but Miranda I’m sure it has to do with me. I couldn’t leave you again so I’ve been watching and thought I was protecting you from afar. I know it sounds stupid as hell but I can’t lose you and Quinn. You two are my world man, it sucks that I didn’t come for you sooner but I’m here now. What’s our now Miranda? What can we do now to fix this because I want you and my wife and daughter back? I want us to be a family and if it’s out here in my family cabin instead of the main city then that’s fine. I just want a chance to be a father to Quinn and fix our relationship. That’s it and that’s all. Screw Jon, and Brock and anyone else who has something to say. Miranda can you honestly live without me? Seriously sometimes I can’t breathe without you. I can’t even make one of my corny jokes without thinking about your laughter. You are so beautiful and perfect to me just like when we married. I remember every vow and I know I might have taken protecting you to the extreme but Miranda I can’t lose you or Quinn because I fucked up and got caught by Ronan. No, not now or ever so if I had to do it again I don’t know? I don’t know if the man in me would allow you to come on the run with me. I was in a new state every four months. What life is that for Quinn? What life is that for us? So I hate myself for letting you down but I can’t hate myself for doing what I thought was right. It’s still as dangerous hell with all these people knowing it could get even more dangerous. But I’m not running anymore and I’ll protect you two with everything I have.”
Miranda looks over at him and still isn’t really sure what to say to him after everything the person in the car did try to run her down outside the Pub and the only logical explanation that she can come up with is it was someone connected to Ronan. That thought alone sends a chill down her spine at how close Ronan could have got to her or Quinn that night, her face looked over at him in shock about Kendrick. It also made her question everything she stood for as a cop she knew some cops were dirty and her stomach turned at the news that there were AFPD officers on Ronan’s payroll worse that he had ordered Kendrick executed. She was numb to that Jon did what was right and what he had to do he wouldn’t’ of executed him in cold blood she was so numb to what he was saying. How could she hate him for everything when she got that he was trying to protect her and Quinn from Ronan Madden and a life on the run. He was ultimately right that would have meant taking Quinn away from her parents, her brother, David and her friends a stable and loving environment to go on the run. Their life would have been chaos and it would have likely torn them apart she still didn’t want him to be in the shadows though. That hurt more than him telling her that he was going to stay here and in the cabin. She squeezed her hand in his she was grateful that he was alive and back it was just hard still to wrap her head around it, it was all still so raw and new.
“It’s always been us and it’s always been you for me. I’m just so torn up about everything KC the lies and deception that Diego and the FBI put me and Quinn through. I understand why you had to do it but it hurts and stings the way you and they went about it.” Miranda said looking at her husband with tears in her eyes as she watched their daughter with Jon and Cassie over by her parents she wanted them to be a family now that they were back. She wanted her daughter to know her father and she didn’t want him disappearing again that was something she had made clear to Dani she couldn’t handle that again. So something had to give between them either the FBI had to let them in on what was going on and they could come up with something to bring KC back alive from the suspected dead and still get Ronan or she and Quinn had to let him go. She couldn’t put Quinn through that having KC back in their lives, she couldn’t do that only for him to disappear when Diego and the feds said jump. “You have to convince Diego to bring me and Jon in hell Devin too. You can come out of hiding they can provide security for us. We can all take Ronan down together that is the only way this will work KC it’s not fair to do that to Quinn the other way. I missed you so much.” She said finally as the tears streamed down her face and she rested her forehead against his closing her eyes. “Please don’t go away again.”
KC wiped the tears from her face as he wrapped his hands behind her head. “Look at me. Look at me right now. I’m never leaving you or Quinn or our family and friends again. I have to atone for staying away. They make me feel like a coward, but I did it for you two. I hate myself because you think I wanted to leave you? It killed me to know what they did. Those sons of bitches but he has to go Miranda. He is the scum of the earth and he has to go. If the FBI wasn’t there and found me. I would have died so I owe them this to take down the man that tried to kill me and failed.” He leaned in and kissed Miranda forehead. “God, you don’t know how good this feels. How good it feels to be with you and how sorry I am. How weak I feel right now because I’m floating high with you. Miranda, I love you so much and I’m willing to go public if that’s how you want to play it but can we keep it quiet for a few weeks. Let me have you and Quinn in the cabin out here for a few weeks. Just us and a security detail.” KC needed to shave he could look like himself. He needed to call Diego who would be pissed. Either way today turned into quite the adventure.
“Quinn? I have to apologize to her and I need to tell her who I am formally but hey I heard the argument.” Revealing he was on the beach was hard seeing Quinn and Miranda fight over his dead body. She already knows and that’s shocking. I never gave her clues until she said something and I should have picked up on it. She had to have heard you and Dani talking about it I would guess. When you almost got arrested in Mexico, and she was asking all these questions about you hypothetically and she slipped in if I thought you had been arrested. She’s smart as hell. You did great with her Miranda and thank you for carrying all this weight alone. I’m here now though okay. Now since I saw your ass I’ve wanted to kiss you can I kiss you now?” KC asked leaning in without even getting a response he kissed her. “I couldn’t wait.”
Miranda didn’t have any other choice in the matter the police department could cover for her they could arrange something with Quinn’s school and take the work to the cabin. This would give them all time to adjust and make sure that they were all on the same page with his return especially Quinn she was sure that the FBI would be involved in something now. More rules but for her that had to be done if they were going to be a family again and she wanted that, it was something that Quinn deserved. She at first wanted to reject her husband’s advances but instead found herself kissing him back and it was like no time at all had passed between them. She pulled back a few minutes later happy tears running down her face this time as she leaned her head against his shoulder and watched the sunset on the lake with the waves crashing.