2X11 “Finally Home”
Written by: Chris Coleman and Kelly Zollo
Theme Song: Daughtry “Coming Home”
Jackson stood inside the room as Ophelia and Kelsey along with a team of six nurses all swooped in around Dani. His eyes got wide as they hooked her up to all the machines and started checking each baby. A nervousness ate at him what if something happened just like with Chauncey and Logan? He took his parents from his brother on the most important day of his life. He had never forgiven himself for being so selfish. Chauncey actually needed their parents and he faked an overdose. Something they had discussed recently as he felt his heart pounding. What if they were cursed and history repeated itself. Jackson stepped out of the room and walked directly into Chauncey and Rory who patted him on the back. He looked at his brother and immediately grabbed his brothers hugging them. He didn’t know what was coming over him but he was emotional. He was about to become a father and he was losing his father not to mention that he might have another sibling. As he pulled back he looked back at the room with Lauren and Dani laughing. She didn’t look worried at all and he was so afraid of what could happen.
“I’m afraid. What if what happened to Logan happens to Dani?” Jackson said looking at Chauncey. “I don’t think I’ve said sorry enough for keeping mom and dad away from you when Maddie was born. We have had the ugliest history but I love my niece and I love you, big bro. I’m just scared how do I not screw up these two little people lives? I mean mom and dad gave me everything and I was such a fuck up. How do I make them well-adjusted kids? I mean there is no manual for kids. I just want to figure out all this shit. How do I be the best dad I can be? I mean we might not get along Chauncey but the love you have for Maddie can’t be denied. I see you and if you have any weakness it’s that little girl. Man, how can I live up to dad, you, and uncle Linus? I’ve had so many good males in my life but I don’t know if I’m a role model. Look at me ex-junkie and…” He stopped as he felt the fear waving over him. “I just don’t want to screw up man. You know I don’t want to let her down or those two perfect kids about to come into the world.”
Chauncey had arrived at the hospital as fast as he could with Maddie at first he had thought about not coming till later but something told him he should be there. Once he had arrived and saw his sister and Sebastian in the waiting room he had wandered around the floor for a bit. Natasha was off somewhere he supposed making some calls to her contacts to make sure they could get back in with her suppliers about the defense contracts. When he peered down the hallway though and saw a glimpse into the room and the machines he was reminded of Logan though Logan never had that amount of staff around her. Everything with Maddie’s birth had been calm, up until it wasn’t when she refused to dilate past a seven. They had consented to the c section by then and she was wheeled back for surgery. He was there when it happened in the room saw them bring Maddie out and then Logan start crashing. The cord was wrapped around Maddie and she was duress but came out fine, Logan, on the other hand, he remembered she was pale on the table and they rushed him out something about stopping the bleeding. It took him months to find out the truth, she had developed a placenta eruption along with the cord cutting off blood supply. He watched as Jackson began to freak out and knew he didn’t have it in him to make it worse on his brother the anxiety and the worry was enough.
“Dani has an entire team surrounded by her look how many doctors and nurses are monitoring her. Ophelia is one of the best at this very hospital that has dealt with this type of stuff a lot.” Chauncey said looking at him and he knew Jackson was sorry he knew from the letter his brother had written, he had been apologizing for months for it. He saw Jackson pacing still and walked with him taking his mind off things for now or at least just giving support he figured Lauren was in there with Dani or Dani kicked him out, he remembered how mad Logan was during her labor, how nervous he was. “I think you and Dani got this Jackson what happened with Logan was entirely different she was induced, they monitored her late and sometimes God’s not forgiving when it happens. Two completely different situations at hand. Maddie was the best thing to happen that day and if for some reason that was the same outcome today your two children would be the best outcome for you too. I don’t think that’s going to happen though okay? You have to stop and breathe or whatever shit she would tell you to do, she needs to you to be calm and collected right now. They need you to do that. I’m not going to shit on you today this is a lot of stress and I know we may have had shit in the past and I’d say something to set you off but not today alright?”
Jackson just leaned into his brother and hugged him because for once they were brothers. It wasn’t fake because he saw him in his own pain right now. After Logan’s death, Chauncey only came to hospitals for checkups and physicals other than that he wouldn’t set foot in one. He laughed when he said that he had to think of what Dani would tell him. He heard her voice saying calm down and he smiled knowing that he was right. It was horrible what happened to Logan but Kelsey or Ophelia wouldn’t let shit happen to Dani. Letting go of his brother he saw Rory with a toothy smile behind them. He knew what he was thinking finally they weren’t fighting but together. Ever since they had a talk a few months ago the love between them was showing. The blocks that he found were a great remembrance that they weren’t always at odds. It was a time they truly opened their hearts to each other and he looked at him.
“Thank you, I’m just nervous you know? All these emotions in bringing a child into the world. I swear I just want to make sure my babies and that woman are the happiest people on earth. Only thing I can’t wait is to see if they are perfect as I think they are going to be. I have to say right now it’s good to have you in my corner. Look out world the Devonshire boys are on the same page that’s a dangerous thing.” He said grabbing Rory pulling him into this moment. “Kid is that the new girlfriend? Chauncey isn’t that the annoying girl with the strange laugh? We used to say was Rory girlfriend.” Jackson laughed as he saw Aspen looking absolutely beautiful. “She really turned into a beauty, I’m honestly glad you are moving on. I thought you were going to go all stalker and creepy on Yasmine.” He teased looking at Rory smiling at Aspen. Then the color left his face when Khalil and Yasmine walked in. Jackson looked at Chauncey and wondered exactly if he was truly over her. You never forget your first love and that was the truth. “Let’s um sit down.” Then his entire mouth dropped seeing Zerick walk in. “What is he doing here?”
Rory had cleaned up before he and Aspen arrived at the hospital making sure they were both decent and then had stopped by for a coffee. This was the first time he actually remembered a birth he was so young when Maddie was born he had been maybe a little younger than Maddie herself. He handed a coffee to Aspen as he walked to Chauncey and Jackson noticing that Zerick had arrived too. He had meant what he said at the meeting no one knew what actually happened back then and how his dad wasn’t a rapist or so he thought but he was going to at least try with Zerick. Everyone was so hell-bent on hating him they had yet to even think about if it was true if it was true that meant that Zerick was his brother too and he belonged there with them. They had all welcomed Bliss with open arms, minus Max but no one even batted an eye at Bliss he didn’t know why he was here honestly. But he hoped that Zerick wasn’t here to start shit with Jackson especially not today. He had been wanting to say something to Jackson about him and Aspen too only to see Yasmine and Khalil walk in and he about froze. He got that Yasmine and Dani were tight and friends but he didn’t get why she had to be there or bring Khalil with her. He saw Aspen looking at her and then looked over at Zerick too.
“Yeah, Aspen and I we’re sorta seeing each I just didn’t want to say anything about it till now. I don’t know what he is doing here. Like why would she even bring him here and why would he even show up here after what he did to dad the other day here or at the party.” Rory said and then he realized he hadn’t clarified who he was talking about in the him statement. It was a mix of both he couldn’t stand Khalil and he never would, he may have screwed things up with Yasmine but Khalil straight left her behind for college fame and a shot to leave. Zerick was annoying if anything and he looked at Chauncey wanting to make sure that he was alright too if it was true that meant that his brother was still oldest and then the pecking order would be Zerick, the twins, Bliss and him so he was still youngest. But there hadn’t ever been that big dark cloud over Chauncey till now not to mention that Chauncey had messed around with Greer who was Zerick’s wife at the time. “I think as long as none of them start drama we can handle that right?”
Chauncey looked at Zerick and agreed with Rory he had no idea why he was here and he only hoped it wasn’t to start unnecessary drama today, it was the last thing any of them needed. Plus he wasn’t in the mood for it, he hated hospitals and the memories that he was faced with when he would be bombarded with them while there, today was not the day for him to start shit. He had taken a seat next to Jackson his baby brother was right for once they were going to be a united front and if Zerick couldn’t handle that then he could simply leave either by force or not it was up to him. His parents were still not here and he saw Greer enter with Brock of all people and instantly got annoyed, Natasha was around somewhere and then he spotted her on the phone by the windows of the waiting room. He let out a sigh between all the family drama at least they could all joke about Rory not turning into a stalker. He had been worried for Rory for a little bit but he was glad to see him out of his funk. His youngest brother was young and he had his entire life to fall in love with a woman and want to spend the rest of his life with her. He had waited for a while to marry Logan and between him and Jackson they had experience and years behind them to make those decisions.
“Honestly Rory you’re a young man take time to decide what you want, experience life a little before you go all in on some girl. Jackson and I will tell you that right now, I messed around a lot before I even thought about marrying Logan or Maddie was born. Same with Jackson. We had our fun, had woman chase after our name or our money then decided when it was right.” Chauncey said looking at his younger brothers and hoping that Jackson agreed with that. He wasn’t even going to acknowledge Zerick as being there the more attention that he gave him the worse he thought it could be. “I think everything will be fine Jackson this can take hours though you know that right? Sure the book tells you all the things that you should do or what the doctors say to do but it could be hours before you meet them. Did you guys do classes to prepare for that? Logan drug my ass to Lamaze and then when it came time. She reversed everything when it came to that. I just figured that maybe that would help you. I was a nervous wreck too before Maddie was born, not that I ever didn’t get along with Dad or anything like that but the pressure…”
“Ah yes, the pressure of being the product of a man like that dear brother. Oh, wait none of you actually want to talk about that do you?” Zerick said tired of being ignored while they all celebrate this occasion and reminisce about their experiences he was going to remind them every step of the way about who their father was. A rapist. “At least you didn’t have to force yourself on her to have your soon to be children. Were you even sober when they were conceived? Like, father, I bet you just liked to fuck at will too. Don’t stare at me like that you all want to act like he is a great man, I’m living proof that he’s not and I’m not going away to the shadows.”
“I’m not acting like anything I’m saying this. If you are going to be here then please respect the fact that today isn’t about Zerick or Lowell it’s about my family being born right along with my twins. You are the most selfish and self-absorbed Devonshire you definitely have our traits.” Jackson said looking at him. “If you must be here then please save the lectures about your mother and my… I mean possibly our father and just be here. All our family is and I think it would be good for you to see that we aren’t the monsters you create us out to be. We actually care about each other and maybe you should consider us before you go on this crusade against our family. You do realize truth or fiction you still are our cousin and blood. You think you know us but you know a file maybe it’s time to see the Devonshire’s before you continue to rip us apart.” Jackson didn’t want to raise his voice or make a scene but he was horrified that Zerick had the audacity to even show his face at such an important family milestone.
Looking up he spotted his twin and Bliss with their spouses walking with them. It was strange as hell that Hunter was with Bliss but also not. Meeting Bliss and Sebastian seemed to fit better with Hunter and Max than they did together. “My two beautiful sisters can we have a moment? All of us are talking and I just want to tell you all how important you are to me. Chauncey, we may clash but I think that you have always looked out for me. We aren’t perfect but I feel like we are growing into the best brothers we can be. My other half you are perfect and I think I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for you. You kept me going even when I didn’t think I could you are my heart and even though I have a family I will always have room for you. Rory my little brother who I didn’t do right by. I wasn’t a good role model but hell I didn’t need to be because you were always so amazing. Man if I was half the man you are at your age I would have been a lot better. Bliss we didn’t grow up together but I think our family wouldn’t be the same without you. You gave us our nephew and Fox is an exceptional kid. And you.” He said looking at Zerick. “Welcome.”
Chauncey liked the spunk that Jackson was showing to Zerick he even hated to admit that he admired it if he was in his brother’s shoes Zerick would have been sprawled out on the floor with a black eye. But he supposed that was the difference between them Jackson was trying to be a good person and a good soon to be father and husband. He had to sneer at Zerick and then saw the same look on his sister’s faces as they did the same. Rory was hard to read honestly he still felt that Rory felt bad for him. Rory was always the softie of them in his mind and maybe he felt that was his little brother’s downfall when it came down to things. Instead, he placed a hand on Jackson’s back as he approached Natasha who he noticed had gotten off the phone with a scowl on her face.
“Zerick for today can you just act like you’re not trying to ruin our lives? Show some sort of I don’t know humanity?” Rory managed to get out he had seen Jackson’s shade and heard it too. His brother was right to throw it, on the other hand, it wasn’t like Zerick was asked to be born when it happened to him or how it did. A pit settled in his stomach as he looked at Jackson and he knew he was thinking it to hell they all were. That if it was true and if he was there brother that meant their father raped their aunt. “Come on man, not today. It’s literally his kids’ birthdays” Rory said seeing Zerick staring Jackson down even more.
Max had walked overseeing the argument about ready to break out and wanted to make sure nothing happened the last thing Jackson needed to worry about was Zerick drama. She smirked at the subtle dig at Zerick that her twin laid down and then watched as Chauncey walked away. She still thought that was odd that he was marrying Natasha on the other her hand it was better than marrying Zerick’s first wife, or ex-wife and the woman that almost destroyed the company and them too. She saw that Bliss was doing to same looking up Zerick daring him to say something or do something, it would only make him look like a fool. Then she looked over at Rory and wanted to smack him upside the head he was still all about helping the man that was spreading rumors at this point. She opened her mouth to say something only to see Zerick do it.
“I see you still won’t acknowledge what he did little brother and that is on you not me. When you learn the truth I hope it crumbles your world and this grand image you all have of him. Let’s see forgive him for being a rapist, forgive him for being a crappy father to you, forgive him for destroying from what I hear even your future wife’s family is there anything that he can do that is wrong? For now, though I’m going to so sit in the lobby and wait for him to arrive. I’m going to sit in that chair and watch him squirm while I wait with the rest of you.” Zerick said glaring at Jackson before walking away brushing his shoulder against Rory’s shoulder as he did so.
Jackson watched Zerick walking away his heart swelled wanting to knock him out. This man had the nerve to come to his children birth and reign darkness all over it. His father wasn’t even there and he was throwing salt on an entire day. He wanted to yank Zerick up and threw his hands up looking at his siblings. Bliss had this sympathetic look on her face he saw she was sorry about all this. “Fuck this you won’t ruin my children’s day this isn’t about you. Now I’ve sat here and listened to you whine for the last time. That’s your one Zerick you have no more. Today isn’t about you it’s all about what has happened. Today is about my family’s future and I refuse to have you sour it. So that’s your one no more.” Jackson turned and went to Dani’s room not saying anything more.
Bliss stepped in front of Zerick path. “I was the outsider once upon a time. As I told you whatever your tie is to our family we could welcome you. However, it can be quite cold and lonely as the Devonshire or Davis or Westwood. Don’t think Forbes is your friend he was always around when I was little. I remember him slithering in and I understand he’s being your mentor. Watch out he’s a monster and remember every monster bares its fangs. Don’t get devoured on the way to being slain. I understand that you are hurting but today isn’t about your pain. It’s about your brother and if you can’t stop your tyrannical temper tantrum you’ll be removed.” Seeing all of them looking proud she turned to walk to Max. “We got this.”
Lauren walked out of Dani room seeing the Devonshire boys and Zerick all huddled in a corner talking. It was odd to see Katie’s kid here and saying Lowell was the father. The man had a sexual appetite that wasn’t a secret but to be a rapist. She just didn’t see it on him, not the charming man who wooed all the women in Atlas Falls. Lowell’s transformation from a hard worker to CEO was enough to make any woman panties drop. Not her but she understood the appeal because honestly, Lowell was one of the most handsome men back then. She waved at Randall who called her after his disastrous meeting with Aspen. She honestly was interested in meeting the young woman because she sounded quite spirited. They were having dinner at La Callie when she got the call her daughter was in labor. Looking down at her red dress and high heels she felt out of place. Everyone was dressed so casually but here she was coming in with heels and her hair in a chignon. Turning around she saw Walter looking at her she immediately walked away from him and was alarmed to see Brock and Greer talking. Clutching her pearls she shook her head the woman was just like a LeClerq. They had that energy to seduce and she knew first hand. Shaking Harvey out of her mind she saw Dylan, Tamara, and Braden all entering the waiting room. She laughed they looked so beautiful together and she smiled.
Holding up one finger to Randall she walked over to them. “Well, I thought you were with your lacrosse friends. I wanted you over to the house to help me salt the grounds before the snow hit.” She looked at them. “Scorpio babies you know that means these twins will give Dani and Jackson the blues. She’s so excited to meet them and he looks a wreck like any father. Braden won’t you go give him some words of encouragement a little later when he’s done with his brothers and cousin.” Or half-brother she thought shadily to herself. “Tamara my dear you look almost like how I met you. Dylan your mother was the queen of the clubs that’s seriously the truth she was a fabulous dancer and taught me a few things honestly.”
“Hey now don’t be spreading any gossip. My past as a clubber is mine and mine alone this kid shouldn’t be getting any ideas about how wild his parents were once upon a time. Here you are talking about me but look at you. You’re looking like a glamazon and is that makeup I see? Wait a minute you weren’t at the ranch, were you? You were out! Braden!” She said in a teasing tone.
Lauren’s face grew beet red as Tamara caught on. “I was invited to a dinner with an old friend. That’s none of any of your business.” She could tell this was making Braden happy considering Dani and he had begged her to move forward. “It was one date and he drove me over here because I was so nervous. It was just awkward because Walter arrived at the exact same time as us.”
Braden and Tamara had gotten themselves decent and then headed to the hospital to be there for his sister they were still in their clothes from the club and they both probably looked like a hot mess but it was important that he was here. He and his sister had always been close it was just them growing up after Vicky died, they had been through a lot together and he really wanted her to finally get her happy ending. Tamara’s labor and delivery had been relatively easy he remembered that like it was yesterday and he was always glad for that, given how addicted she was before she learned she was pregnant. Despite that, she didn’t do drugs while she was pregnant and he was always grateful for that she never even thought to endanger their unborn child. He saw all the Devonshire’s there and for a moment that was almost still weird that they were all about to be connected and he looked at Chauncey through it. He had always heard about how Logan died and as much as he hated him at times he didn’t wish what he had gone through with Logan on anyone that had to of been traumatic for him. When he saw his mother dressed to the nines and realized that she had been on a date, and he wondered if his father knew.
“That’s good right?” Braden asked not that he thought his dad really needed an explanation from her at this point they weren’t married anymore and unless he knew otherwise they talked still because of the bar and anything related to him or his sister. But outside of that as far as he knew they were on the outs with anything emotionally. “I mean that’s good for you mom, you deserve that. Honestly, it’s about time in my mind you always wanted us to aim for what we wanted maybe it is time you did too.” He said looking at Tamara and then seeing her face light up at his mom too, despite her past with him his mother had always been good to Tamara. Even when they were on the outs or fighting over Dylan his mom had always been nice and kind to her or at least he tried. “We were out when we got the call we appreciate you calling to let us know on top of all the texting and picking up Dylan. Especially knowing you likely had to drag your date into it, is that Professor Sinclair?”
“You took his class?” Lauren almost spat out her coffee. As if dating when you were as old as she was, wasn’t awkward enough. Now her son was calling Randall, Professor Randall. Shaking her head she started to giggle and laugh for the first time since she saw Walter. For some reason seeing him looking alarmed made her laugh. “He was hard huh? Well, I’m pretty sure you did miss quite a few of his lectures during your partying heyday. Am I right? Randall has always been one of my favorite people. His novels helped me a lot the latter ones it made me understand relationships when the crumble. It helped me see that I had to let go of your father.” She said confidently as she looked at Tamara who was pulled aside by Dylan and Maddie. Touching her son’s face she smiled widely looking at Tamara glowing and looking so beautiful. It was such a positive thing to see her alive again. She didn’t have the look of sadness or that sunken expression. She was always a great mom but right now Tamara looked like that girl she met in the early ’90s who lit up any and every room she entered.
“Last year was hard on us all but seeing you so alive again. So enthralled was enough to finally make me say I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to wait anymore. I just want to live and be happy so if this is the first step. Then I am all for it.” Lauren said seeing Walter throwing daggers at her with his eyes. It made her uncomfortable to think for the first time in thirty years she would be with another man. She’d rather start over than to be run over. “So tell me what kept you two? I mean Kelsey said that she was at the club with you and she also said she had to ride with that awful girl Greer. Can you talk to your cousin and let him know that she is no good.” Watching Brock and Greer just laughing made her stomach turn. “You know her uncle could have been you and Dani’s father at one point.”
Braden looked at her and almost spit the coffee that he was holding he couldn’t see that for the life of him them being related to a girl like Greer. Not that his family was perfect or anything like that but they were all close and had each other’s backs. Greer was the type of girl that would stab someone in the back and he was going to warn Brock to watch his back with her. He focused in on what his mother had asked about Professor Sinclair his class wasn’t hard it was an English class he had to take and he was certain he had slept through a lot of it and still passed not that he was a bad teacher or anything. It just wasn’t his cup of tea he saw Tamara’s cheeks flush a bit when his mom asked where they had been and he looked over at her. Hoping his face didn’t give it away only for what he assumed was her face that gave it away to his mother.
“Hard ass wasn’t exactly the words I would use but I did struggle a bit in his class when I took it not due to him though. Not calling him Professor Sinclair will take some getting used too.” Braden said looking at her We saw Kelsey briefly there as soon as I knew about this though we headed right over here.” Braden said it wasn’t like he and Tamara wanted to flash around what they were doing before getting the call but he wasn’t ashamed of it either. They were in a good place now and he saw her starting to get nervous around his mother no doubt and took her hand in his. “We’ve been taking things slowly this time her recovery is the most important thing for our family mom but I’m happy finally. Not that I wasn’t with Selina but we had entirely different viewpoints on things that, and I’m glad that we were able to move past that now. She can be happy and I can be happy now too. Gross to the viper possibly being our cousin I know things were rough with dad, it’s probably still rough. But I know me and Dani are grateful that you and Dad had us.”
Lauren touched her son’s face and smiled as she grabbed Tamara hand. “This makes me so happy. Look you two have seen the worst in each other. Now you have no time for games or pitfalls go forward a strong and together.” She said smiling clapping her hands together doing a happy dance. It felt so good to see them in such a beautiful place. They’d hurt each other deeply and to see them together well that made her heart leap. It made her believe again because love was abounding and she felt it all over her children. Even Victoria she had to be here to protect the babies. She wore an angel necklace that represented her lost child. Slowly taking their hands she sat them down. “I’m going to get some of that coffee that girl has and check on Dani. You look so beautiful, Tam.”
Lauren walked to Randall and sat down by him. Her eyes were blurry with tears of pride. “I’m sorry my children are all I have. I had my marriage and the children but the kids and my grandchildren and my art. I know that doesn’t sound like much but they are so important to my world. My little girl is giving birth in there. She’s so amazing and I’m so proud of them both because they have overcome every problem we placed in their path. As parents, we never know exactly what we are doing and what one insecure moment does to our children. They have overcome everything and I am so happy.” Wiping her eyes. “I’m happy you called me on this date Randall. I need something else in my life. Even though I hear you are a very good teacher but evidently my son wasn’t engaged. I don’t know if Braden was ever into Literature.”
Randall looked at her and nodded his head at her he had politely stayed to the side for the time with her son it wasn’t like him to involve himself. Not to mention they had been on one mutual date for dinner nothing more but he wasn’t going to let Lauren go all the way back to her house for her car when her daughter was giving birth. He was happy to give her a ride to the hospital and home after it was all over. “I wouldn’t expect anything less Lauren you and I both are parents first. And no people have to really love my class Lauren some don’t do Literature and I’m sorry to say that included your son.” He said with a laugh remembering Braden well as someone that slacked in his class at the time but that was years ago. “Come on let me get you a coffee.” He said walking her down the hallway to the cafeteria.
Jackie had gotten the call at home while she had been trying to get a hold of Katie’s doctor to schedule an appointment with her sister. She had been sleeping in one of the guest rooms at the mansion over the last few weeks Zerick’s words haunting her. She had been so blind back then to Lowell’s affairs and indiscretions had she really turned a blind eye to him with Katie her own sister? Her mind wouldn’t shut that off no matter how much she tried over the last few weeks and she opened the door to her limo going in the back way to avoid the press. She was stunned though when Lowell’s limo had arrived at the same time and he was brought out in a wheelchair first, it killed her to see him like that now. She wasn’t stupid she knew that he had been leaning on Tess of all people at the hospital a good friend had called to tell her about it. That stung he was still her husband and that didn’t change overnight and he knew how much she despised and hurt her over the years with Tess. It was bad enough with Bliss here, but she could live with it but him leaning on Tess instead of trying to work all this out with her was devastating.
“I didn’t know you would be arriving at the same time. I would like to think that for today we could put aside whatever is going on and be there for our son? Or would you like to call Tess and she can just sit on your lap the entire time like I hear she has been doing at your appointments since you have banned me from going.” She spits at him he always said to trust him he could never hurt Katie like that she had been deceived so many times by him and now when she needed him to show her he wasn’t that man. He was leaning on the one person she truly hated. She cast a glare at Simon as she watched him saunter inside the door and she watched as both their security teams stepped back they had always respected their privacy and her husband was a fool if he thought she wouldn’t find out about Tess this time. “I wonder how that conversation would go with the kids. Rory here is the woman that destroyed your happiness with Yasmine, Bliss after everything your mother has done I forgive her fully. You want to always say you are a good man Lowell that you could never hurt my sister, this is certainly not the way you prove that to me. So I would kindly ask you not involve her today.”
“Is she here Jackie?” He asked with a croak bellowing out, clearing his throat he felt the chill inside of her. She didn’t trust him and how she was speaking was so cold. “Did it ever register to you that I’m dying? I don’t have much time to live Jackie. I don’t want to spend around someone who clearly doesn’t have faith in me. You can’t look at me, you leave a room when I enter, to make matter worse you are believing all this madness.” Lowell said with tears in his eyes. “You can’t blame me for feeling like I need someone to believe in me. So its Tess? My children barely call, my wife isn’t speaking to me, and I have my granddaughter who won’t leave my side. I don’t know what to do or say Jackie but she is there and you aren’t. You close your eyes and you must see me raping your sister! You have no idea how that makes me feel. I have cheated on you but I have never violated a woman. Are you that uncertain in me? Have I broke you so much that you can’t see that this isn’t me. I would never violate any woman let alone Katie! You think you are hurt imagine spending a lifetime with someone and knowing that you’ve failed them over and over again. Then you break them so completely that they can’t see the light in the darkness. I have been an adulterer and dog but never have been a monster. I thought you knew that at least. I thought you would see me as your husband no matter what. The man that sat through every labor with you. The man who vowed never again to hurt you that deeply.” He snapped back at her.
“If I need comfort and someone to tell me I’m a person, not an illness. Do you know how badly I need it to be you? Do you think Tess is an iota of you? I spent years with her sexually but I spent the best days of my life with you. I am so scared that I’m going to be a decrepit old man and withering inside of my own body. I am facing my mortality and death is winning so don’t stand there on your high horse because your forgotten nephew has stated I did something. You don’t get to be sanctimonious when you have left me. I cheated but I’d never emotionally runaway when you needed me most. You running now you can’t look at me as you scold me as if I’m a child or crippled. Everyone is carrying kid gloves for the great Lowell Devonshire, no.” He said with a rage he hadn’t felt in months. “No, I won’t be treated like a dying man you want to leave Jackie? Go. Don’t lecture me, I don’t have time for lectures because I’m dying. Every day it hurts to get out of bed so no! No, you don’t lecture me on my moral compass when you are giving up. You have given up damnit and now you stand before me with vitriol and disgrace. When I wouldn’t ever touch your sister especially when at that time I was fucking Audrey left to right.” Lowell knew it was ugly to hurt her like this but he was hurt. Hell, why should he spare her feelings when she was done with him? She didn’t care why should he?
“She may as well be Lowell because you certainly aren’t. I know you are dying I was the one lying to our children last year covering for you while you were sick and we were trying to figure out what was wrong. I was the one that spent the entire summer caring for you, making sure that you were taking your trial meds avoiding our children’s phone calls. I was there the entire time covering your secrets just like I always do. I have always covered for your ass to not disappoint the company or our kids.” Jackie spit out at him how dare he try and act like she wasn’t the one there all those years caring for him, making sure that she covered for him with their kids from his affairs in the past. To shady business deals in towns, to likely affairs or one night stands he had when the kids were growing up and then to act like she wasn’t there when he got sick was infuriating. “How am I supposed to feel about this Lowell? You were screwing Audrey for years and god knows who else at the time we both know it was Tess too. Katie always had a crush on you when she came to the house or the company. You were always kind to her, I remember that party that night. You had your friends over and associates I was in the nursery for most of it with Chauncey. I have no clue what you were doing downstairs all I do know is that after that night she ran away from Atlas Falls after she called the house and cried to me you attacked her I hung up in disbelief. I never saw her again until Forbes called me. I lied and told you I had to go see my aunt, I flew to London. Katie tried to kill herself and drown her son. She had turned over custody to Forbes and never wanted to see me or you again. When I came home I told you that my aunt had heard about Katie snapping and you helped me put her in the hospital.”
Jackie spat was furious at him for everything that had happened to her in the past how he treated her, how he dismissed his cheating as something men just did. She didn’t regret it when she told him the truth he needed to hear it it was the one secret she had ever kept from him that she flew to London to see Katie and saw Forbes at the same time too. She saw his face drop in shock and she continued not backing down. “So tell me, dear husband, why in the world would my sister hate me so much, hate you so much, hate her own son so much that she would never want to see us again? What reason would she have? I saw it in his eyes he believes what he has been told. We send her things and we pay for her treatment but I never told you the whole truth, she flat out told me it was because of you. She won’t return my calls right now so what am I supposed to think!” Jackie said finally screaming at him almost throwing her purse as she looked at him. It was her sister or him, in this case, there was no middle ground and she honestly didn’t know what to believe because no one would give her an answer about what really happened that night. “You have nothing to hide here then you tell that boy you want a DNA test put all this behind us. I want to believe you Lowell but we both know you have had so many affairs over the years it’s one of the reasons most of our kids think it’s appropriate because I never put my foot down. You lie about your bastards you lied about Bliss for years and I already know you still fucked Tess years after you told me it was over, she showed me a lovely photo a few months back. So spare me the lies.”
“I helped because I knew!” Lowell paused knowing that if he said anymore then sins of the past would come seeping into the future. Things had changed and his transformation into the man who deserved Jackie wasn’t easy at all. He left Audrey and Tess focusing on Jackie and his family. That meant Bliss suffered and either way, he had one woman he loved in his right hand and another one he loved in his left. Jackie was the choice and he knew he made the right one. Tess was in love with his power and he never knew if she really cared truly for him. Deep down he knew she loved him but would she love him if he was never Lowell Devonshire the billionaire. The funny part was the stock had taken a hit but with the news, Rory’s app was coming Zerick sob story was becoming less effective in the media and more effective in the family. He saw how his children looked at him hell Maddie didn’t even look at him the same. As he began to feel his heart swell knowing he was killing her but sometimes vows were just that. He made a vow to Jackie to love her through sickness and health. He also made a deathbed vow and that haunted him. “I stopped sleeping with Tess in 1999 and I want you to know that even though I betrayed you. You were my priority no other and yes it took years for me to see that I had everything I needed in my home but Jackie I saw it!” He snapped back at her as his eyes teared up.
“I hurt you and right now you disbelief in me is killing me even faster! Don’t you get it? I hurt you but I never and I mean never had to take a woman virtue. I never had to steal a woman’s body think about it, women were at my feet why take it. I have no control issues and I have no reason to take Katie when I was downstairs making love to Audrey.” There it was a piece of him felt relief and sadness that she wasn’t here to say he didn’t do this. He wondered if she would believe him during this and it hit him she would. Tess even believed him but the one person in the world he needed to believe him had been warped against him. “Zerick is playing a game with Forbes. He told me he’d destroy me and he is right because he’s made the one person I love most in this world hate me. Look at me like this but I will say this for almost twenty years I have been faithful. I know it’s hard but do you have any faith in me? I’ll throw Tess in the trash where she belongs if it means that you stand by me.” Tears fell down his face. “I ruined us but I don’t think I love you any less and I know that you love me or else why stand with me all these years? I know what I have done is wrong and how I hurt you can’t be undone but Jackie you are it. You are the all-consuming love of my life. Other women, I have loved but none are you.” Lowell rolled into the elevator so that he didn’t have anything else to say on the matter.
Jackie fumed at him as he pleaded his innocence to her so he was still going to refuse a test she wasn’t going to have it not this time and as she looked at him she walked briskly to him towards the elevators as well. No this was going to be resolved one way or another they would find out the truth and move on from this shit show. She saw the security detail get on the elevator with them and she pressed the button to the floor. “I honestly don’t care what game you think he is playing, you don’t want to get a test that is fine I’ll find out the truth on my own. The fact you refuse to even take a test Lowell tells me a hell of a lot. You know I told myself all those years ago I stayed with you through the years with Audrey and Tess because I loved you, that I could look the other way. That my love should have been enough that you wouldn’t seek out other women in bed. Little did I know I was just a naive woman who would just lap up the lies you fed me to keep me at bay, no more. I will have a test done one way or another.” She saw the security team gapping at her mouth open as she looked at her husband glaring. “You’ve never been much of a father to Jackson don’t spoil today for him, that was always my mess to clean up seeing how you were likely lost inside either Audrey or Tess after pushing him.. I have grandchildren I would like to met.”
She brushed past him and into the waiting room where she spotted the one child she knew she could count on to make this right. She walked up slowly to Rory wrapping her arms around him seeing that Jackson was likely in the room with Dani. “My sweet boy. I need you to do something for me.” She said.
Rory had watched his mother get off the elevator along with his sisters and he could tell that she was mad, if that could even describe it. She looked hurt and wounded and he looked at his father as well, it looked bad no matter how you sliced it. When she hugged him and spoke to him where only he could hear he nodded at her. “Okay, mom.”
“You will go with Zerick to the bottom floor a Dr. Marsh will meet you there. You will give him this,” She said handing him a comb from inside her purse that she was sure he would recognize as his father’s. “I don’t care what you have to do to convince him to take this test but you will. We all need to know Rory please.”
Rory stared at her as she handed him the comb and he realized what she was asking, she wanted a test done. A test his father had refused to run with his DNA along with Zerick and his father’s that meant they could learn the truth once and for all. His father could be cleared of this nonsense that Zerick was spewing. He nodded his head at her and slipped the comb inside of his coat as he looked at his father wheel himself to the opposite side of the room.
Maddie laughed with Dylan as they were in full SnapChat filter mode. Taking pictures of each other and family with silly filters on their face. She had a picture with her grandfather and placed it up with monkey filter. Placing her phone in her back pocket of her jeans she wondered if Dylan had a date for the winter formal. After all, this was the biggest event of the year. Plus it meant they weren’t in eighth grade anymore they were in high school. The winter formal was a thing of legend. Her aunt Max had first made out with her teacher there. Her uncle Jackson had a threesome and was nearly expelled. Hell her uncle Rory was caught smoking pot in the teacher’s lounge with Jamal. She really didn’t want to go with a boy yet because that would freak her damn father out. Dylan was her best friend though and going with him wouldn’t be too crazy. Plus she heard a rumor one of her Instagram friends that Wyatt Kincaid was coming into town. What nobody knew was Wyatt was her first kiss at the sixth-grade cotillion. When she saw her dad walking back and forth she almost was shocked. Chauncey Devonshire was a lot but worrier wasn’t one of them. Then it struck her exactly why he was worried. Daddy never did hospitals well after mom died. She gripped her Chanel bag as she walked over to him.
“Parental unit.” She opened her arms and looked at him. People didn’t know her dad gave the best hugs. “I think that I wasn’t thinking about you at all. I was thinking about my uncle and cousins coming into the world. I’m fifteen dad. So I need you to stop. Next year I’m driving around you can tell me this is making you think of her. All that love wasted inside of you but I guess I got all that love huh?” Seeing his eyes looking like pools wasn’t something she was used to.
“Daddy, I wish I could have met her and seen you all in love like that. I see pictures of her and I think about how my eyes sparkle like hers. I see my hair and it’s shiny like hers but you promised. You promised to tell me more about my biological mom. So I’m all ears and I think it could help you because I can see you’re not yourself.” She said softly as she took her dad’s arm walking him to seat and seeing Talia walking with coffee for everyone. Maddie waved at her and she handed them both some coffees. When her dad winced at and she almost spat out the bland black coffee. “This is yours and that’s my unicorn expresso.”
Chauncey had left Jackson to go back inside the room with Dani while he traveled back down the hallway to the waiting room. Hospitals still haunted him he was not probably ever going to get over that but in this case, he was hoping for a better outcome. There had not been a mad dash of people to Dani’s room there had been no chaos like there had been with Logan, and he was very grateful for that as much as he and Jackson didn’t get along at times he wouldn’t wish that on his brother. That wasn’t something he could wish on his own flesh and blood to lose someone like he did Logan but seeing Maddie made him feel more at ease. He wrapped his arms around his daughter glad she was here to see her cousins come into this world. She looked exactly like her mother, perhaps that was why he reached out to Selina as he did back then because of how much she reminded him of Logan even as an infant. She was growing up now into a young woman and he had a feeling despite some of his shortcomings as a parent with certain things Logan would be more than proud of her for the woman she was becoming. When she handed him the coffee and he winced it was too sugary for him and they switched he had to smile at her. It was so adult like for her to be drinking coffee and he looked over at Dylan who was on his phone before he spoke.
“You will be driving alone unsupervised when I am dead.” He said smiling at her completely kidding he knew that was coming. “Just kidding you can drive with the rest of the class if you pass driver’s ed. This just reminds me of when you were born, the good parts of that, of course, it has been a while for us all fifteen years is a long time to have more Devonshire’s.” Chauncey said over the years he had no idea how to talk to her about Logan or how it happened, he wasn’t a child psychologist but back when she was little explaining to her how Logan died seemed like it would do more harm than good if he did. He looked over at her knowing they had to have this conversation and she was old enough now. “I did promise to tell you more about your mom and maybe now is the time. I’m not good that this part of parenting part of the reason I avoid hospitals and talking about her. It’s painful but you’re old enough now to know about her and what happened. So you start what would you like to know?” He asked seeing her look at him as he took a drink of his coffee.
Maddie looked at him and felt relief the moment he said that she would be driving with her class. A Jaguar had her name on it and her father was so going to throw her the biggest sweet sixteen ever. As she looked at him she wondered what she could ask first. So many things had been kept silent but at ten years old she remembered Selina telling her about her mother’s death. “I heard granny and gramps talking once they said she was the sweetest woman on earth. What made her so sweet? What made her a person aunt Max even liked. I mean we all know she doesn’t like any of her brother’s girl well besides Dani. She seems to be the exception because she detests Natasha and Greer. I don’t think she was that fancy of Yasmine either. I guess I want to know what type of person is she? Would she like me? I don’t know.” She said fiddling with her unicorn frap. Mixing the colors together she looked at him.
“I talk to my other grandparents and my aunt Taylor. She actually is talking about visiting soon when she is in America. She just opened another gallery in Argentina. They all seem so happy when they hear from me. Honestly, I just don’t have a connection to them as much as I want one. I guess I just want to know how it happened. How did I lose my mother? I love Selina but she isn’t biologically my mom. I want to know why don’t I have my mom? Is it my fault? I mean I know everyone says it wasn’t my fault but I just can’t help but think. That my birth brought her death and I just want to talk to her. See her and know if I’m making her proud. You say that but I just don’t know. She didn’t grow up rich and I’m spoiled as it gets, I want her to see me as a great person you know? That I have a wonderful life and I just want to know everything you can tell me.”
“Your mom was funny and smart, really smart it was how we met in a college economics class. She had grown up in Los Angeles born and raised there, I was the kid fresh out of water East coast to West. I had to make new friends there, most of them knew me because of our last name. The moment I saw her I wanted to met her and then once we hung out I knew that I wanted to date her.” Chauncey said deciding not to tell her the other parts that Logan had been seeing another guy and they had started their affair behind said other man’s back. They had both been young at the time and the more that he spent time with Logan the more that he knew that she didn’t love the other guy. It was wrong they both knew it at the time but he wanted her to remember the good parts about her mother. “She looked past the money and my last name and she tried her best to make me and your uncle Jackson brothers again. She helped Max with her homework and a tough time when she was going through in high school. I brought her home and she seemed to fit, but I knew she wanted to stay in California so we planned to open an office there for DGI.”
“Then we got married and found out she was having you shortly after, she was so happy to be a mother even if we weren’t expecting it. We had bought a house in California and everything. I never want you to think that it was your fault some things are out of our control Maddie what happened the day you were born was one of them. Your mom was induced not like Dani where her water naturally broke. We ended up in the emergency room to do a C-section, they got in there. She got to see you and then she started crashing.” Chauncey said looking at her it was so hard for him to remember that day he looked at her and was certain that he had tears in his eyes. It was horrible to remember that moment when she had smiled at Maddie and then they had rushed him out. “Her placenta had pulled away while you were being born there was nothing they could do the bleeding wouldn’t stop and I know she would have chosen you over anything else. It was never your fault. We came home here because I was selfish honestly I didn’t want to share you with anyone in California. I am glad you are reaching out to them and that you and Taylor talk. I think she would be very proud of the woman you are becoming.”
Maddie had tears glowing in her eyes as she leaned her head on her father’s shoulders. It wasn’t her fault. For years she blamed herself because she heard her grandmothers whispers how things would be different if Logan was here. If that was true then it was her fault but hearing her father say it made all the difference in the world. Slowly bringing her tear soaked face up she looked at him nodding her head. It was hard to believe she was doing right afterall she was a Devonshire. Right now that wasn’t the fetch thing to be at all. Everyone was calling grandpa a rapist and her mother was accused of selling weapons to Ilsa De Cruces rebels. As she folded her arms. “I just wish she was here. I want to know her so badly because I know Selina is the only mom I’ve ever known but she isn’t biologically my mother. I know this sounds horrible sometimes I wonder if she could have her own children would she be invested in me so much. I mean she picked up and just left.” Maddie said softly looking at her father.
“I just know my bio-mom wouldn’t just up and leave me. I’m angry and I forgive her but she doesn’t understand. I don’t trust people easily hell… I mean heck the most important person to me couldn’t stay.” Maddie said honestly speaking on how she felt about her mom summer in Ilsa De Cruces. “When she left she was so angry she didn’t even think that she was hurting me. Or just giving up on her marriage and I know she isn’t blameless.” Her eyes looked at her father and at Braden across the room. “You could have done something but that’s the ugly thing I can’t correspond with being a Devonshire. We can actually be good but when we are bad we are the ugliest people. So my next question you say she would be proud of me but what about you? Would she like what she sees in you dad because honestly, I don’t.” It was hard for Maddie to say it but she had to say it and they both were emotional right now so she thought what better time. “Dad you are harsh to everyone and you shoot bullets that pierce. I’ve heard you my entire life be absolutely cruel and I guess I can be a bit vapid and a bit stuck up but I am not as cold as you are.”
Chauncey knew she was right when it came to what he had been acting like it wasn’t like he was a good person he knew that he had been on a path of self-destruction for years. He had always tried to be a good parent when it came down to making her happy and her having a good life and perhaps he failed at that. He knew what she was saying about Selina even if Selina wanted to pretend that her running off hadn’t hurt Maddie at the time he was right to suspect otherwise. He looked down at the floor and then at her, she wasn’t a child any more or one that he could wrap up and protect from the world anymore. Instead, he had to start thinking about the future and it amazed and amused him that he had a child that could see that far ahead of herself and into the bigger picture when the adults around her couldn’t. That was something he was certain that she got from Logan and not himself, he was always impulsive as was the rest of their family.
“I was afraid of losing you and the truth of the matter was that I wanted to hurt Selina after she married Braden instead of me at our wedding. When she left I never stopped you from reaching out to her I would never do that but I will step in and place my foot down when it came to you traveling to that country to see her. It’s my job to protect you, my only job as your parent.” Chauncey said he wasn’t stupid he knew that she had heard the whispers about Dimitri, heard the rumors she was not dumb. It was selfish of him he knew that but she was his only child not for a lack of trying recently and he wondered how she would feel about that he had to stop and think about if Logan would be proud of him or not. He supposed she wouldn’t have let it get this bad with him. “Your mother was a special woman she wouldn’t have let things consume me as they have. You are right though about DGI and Forbes right now he is the enemy and I don’t want you to turn your back on your grandpa Lowell no one here is doing that. I’m built the way I am because of things that happened with your grandpa and grandma Maddie things I’m working on. I promise from here on out I’ll try and do better alright?”
When he promised to do better she smiled seeing she couldn’t tell if he was being honest but her heart believed he was. As she slowly ran her hands through her hair as she looked at him. Crossing her legs Indian style she felt herself become lighter. She’d let out some of the things that had bothered her for a long time. Grabbing her father she leaned her head onto his shoulder. “Dad? I want a car on my sixteenth birthday and I am going to hold you to that promise. You should be fighting everyone trying to take down our family, not our family. I hate to say it dad but you owe them this. I want you to be as badass as you are with your siblings to the people who are trying to destroy gramps legacy. Look do I know he’s not the nicest businessman of course but does he deserve to lose grams?” Maddie looked up at him. “Okay, that’s enough of me being wise. I have to go do my twin tweets and do a live right now. Everyone is so excited about the babies. Especially us we deserve some happiness right?” Standing up she looked at her father.
“One more thing. Mom would be so proud of you right now. I don’t her but I saw videos and heard her singing the other day. Grandma was playing this voice and I was so drawn to it. It was my mom. She said you could rule the world on that video but you choose to fix it, dad. Fix it dad this is a mess and I don’t think my gramps is a rapist and no I don’t think this Zerick guy belongs even if he is Grams, nephew. I just want you to use your big badass brain to take all the people down who are going after us. Did you have my permission to rip them apart.” Maddie leaned down and kissed her cheek. “No family! Just assholes.” She saw his look when she kept swearing. “And I’ll watch my potty-mouth. Love you dad bye come on Fraiser time to update the world on our mutual cousins.”
Walter had been at city hall when he had gotten the text from his daughter and after finishing up a few calls about the Scottswood project he wrapped things up and headed to the hospital. He knew how things like this would go he had been there before with all his children and despite what his children and others thought he was there for every single one of their births he had never missed it. Looking back on it there were times that his father wasn’t there for him and his siblings sometimes, and he supposed that was part of the reason he stayed with Lauren so long. In reality, he had continued that cycle staying where he felt trapped and the one that suffered for it was his daughter. He only had one daughter now and he was going to make things right with her so if that meant sucking it up through the Devonshire’s being around he was going to do it. He was going to make it right with her show her that as a father she could depend on him from now on and he was going to be a grandfather to his grandchildren like he was already to Dylan. He saw everyone waiting on their phones or laughing and approached his ex-wife who was dressed to impress and saw her coldly look up at him from her seat he deserved that.
“I assume everything is going okay so far? Jackson is in there with her.” He said looking around to make small talk and looking around to not see his future son in law in the room. He saw her nod at him, that was good she needed him there and he thought back to his daughter’s time before she came home and it made him shift a little for all the planning and plotting he and Charles had done the truth was Lex was not there. “That’s good. Kelsey in there too?” He asked not seeing his niece in the waiting room either when Lauren didn’t answer him he softly moved the phone from her hand downwards so that they could talk. He didn’t want a rehash of their ugly argument at the Pub. He had been very drunk and hurt when she came in and they both had said some ugly things to each other but he no longer had it in him to fight with her anymore. “I need to apologize to you about the other day, we were both very raw with each other. I have a lot I need to say I am sorry for including how horribly I treated you over the years with Brenda. I made a lot of mistakes with you and the kids over the years. But I’m trying Lauren I wouldn’t be here unless I was. So please at least today can we at least talk to each other, Dani needs the both of us.”
“No, we have nothing to say to each other,” Lauren said with so much malice she didn’t know she had it in her. Her heart swelled as he mentioned that he wanted to talk for Dani. No, he didn’t get to be a father now. He didn’t get to come here and be emotionally attached now that she was a mother. He didn’t get to see his mistakes because in her eyes if she was Dani, she’d spit in his face. He hurt her over and over again and now he was here to play nice. She almost choked on laughter when he said he treated her poorly with Brenda. Grabbing him by his arm she took him to the side because Dylan was staring at them. Just begging for one of them cut up so he could break it up. That kid was almost too mature for his age because she knew what he was doing. Wearing the nicest smile she could muster Lauren leaned against a wall and spoke to him.
“Walter I don’t care if you’ve made a mistake with Brenda. I truly don’t because I see through this. I don’t know why but you need something from me. This is your pattern and don’t raise your damn voice at all. We won’t be the spectacle today because if the Devonshire’s are playing nice we all are going to today as well. I’m willing to be here with you in my presence but don’t think I’m over a thing you said about Victoria and me. I needed a second for you to just be my ex-husband because she was on my mind so heavily lately but you mourn your dead child with that bitch. You do that but I don’t accept an apology from you. I don’t accept you at all because honestly at this point after that fight Walter. You are dead to me, and we will play nice.” She smiled at Brock and Zach standing in a corner laughing with each other trying to show how fine she was. “However this is it. After today I quit The Pub and I’m legally changing my name to Lauren Diane Cummings dropping the Fraiser. I don’t want your name and I don’t care if you are sorry it’s too late.”
“Can you please not do this here today? I’m here extending an olive branch and all you can do is spit venom in my face. I’m sorry Lauren I failed you as a husband and I most certainly failed as a father more times than I can count but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love Dani or Braden.” Walter said looking at her he had come in peace he knew that he had royally screwed up in the past when it came to their daughter. He wasn’t a fool he was the one that missed recitals and practices. He was the one that insisted that she stayed and worked things bout with Lex when he knew for a fact that Lex was always going to break her trusting heart. He had to account for those things regardless of his failed marriage to the woman he sat down next to he most certainly wasn’t going to be leaving. He would wait with the rest of the family for the birth of his grandchildren and show his daughter that she was more important than the hate that he held for Lowell in his heart. “I was drunk the other day when you came to the office I lost my temper and said some vile things I probably shouldn’t’ have. But you think for one minute I’m leaving you will be in for a treat don’t think she just got the stubborn pig-headed side from you.”
“I’ll play nice with the Devonshire’s today including the man that ripped my daughter with Brenda away because you told him to do so because I’m required too. I have to accept her marrying Jackson and the fact that they are having a family together, I don’t have to accept that you went to Lowell and told him about my child with Brenda before I even knew and he was the reason she went away and got rid of her.” Walter spat staring at her and he was certain that his voice had raised a notch. She had a lot of nerve to act so innocently in the entire situation her, Brenda and Lowell and that part infuriated him to no end. That was his child, a child he would never know about now, never see or hold. “You can’t just leave the Pub Lauren you own half of it and you took that in the divorce. Who is going to run it I don’t have time at City Hall and it has to stay in the family. Dani is busy at DGI and Braden is busy as DA. I won’t let you tank something my great grandfather built from the ground up because you’re in one of your moods at the moment.”
Lauren looked at Walter and felt her stomach drop she didn’t want it anymore. She didn’t want his Pub or his name. Nodding her head she knew he was right she wouldn’t tank The Pub but she would be leaving. As she looked into his eyes she knew he was driving her crazy and that feeling that he was winning. She ran her hair through her hair and shook her head. “You can’t let me go, can you? That’s fine I’ll stay for a little while longer and I’ll have a manager trained and I’m done. We’ll find someone who can run The Pub and I don’t have time to stay. I want to sit back and just collect my money from that place. I don’t want it anymore.” She said honestly finally speaking from her heart. “I just think of so many good memories and you were cheating with her right in that bar.” Lauren calmed herself knowing she was getting loud.
“Here is your olive branch Walter, here is the branch to say I’m done doing this. I don’t want to fight today either but babies make me emotional. Especially when the little girl in there is our child. A child you never gave enough to and I let you treat her like shit. She deserved a father that was attentive and I deserved a husband who cared!” She said exhausted as she gripped the wall. “I deserved to not have my youth wasted with you. I had people who loved me too Walter. Do you think it wasn’t other people who caught my eye? Huh?” Lauren gasped as she looked at him. “Harvey LeClerq, Forbes was very handsome and maybe I could have changed some of that evil, oh let’s not start with Oliver James. I had options and you stole every chance for me to be young and free. You never loved me like you loved her say it. Say it and we will have peace because I need to hear it.” She said no longer caring she was being loud. “I want you to say you loved her more and you should have let me go!”
Walter looked at her making a fool of herself in the middle of the damn waiting room he was not chasing after her. He had let her do in the divorce along with half of everything he owned he thought that was more than fair of him. Seeing how their son had handled the paperwork to ensure that it was fair for both of them and for them to move on peacefully or so he thought. “This is not about me wanting you back do you think I’d ever want that again after what happened the other night? This is about our children’s legacy Lauren the only thing we built for them since DGI was ripped from us. I want us to be able to move on from each other and the toxic place we have put ourselves into.” He said his voice rising and he didn’t even care who was staring at them now if she wanted to hash this out now they could even though he thought they already had. “The Pub is your meal ticket and you should remember that, if it were to dry up what would you be left with for finances? You don’t have a job other than the Pub the entire reason we split it because you ran the books all these years. I can’t win or lose with you lately.”
“I don’t want to fight with you either today but you seem hell-bent on starting an argument. I show up late I’d be reamed, I try and apologize I am the bad guy. I made mistakes with Dani why in the world do you think I’ve come to accept all this nonsense with Jackson and the Devonshire’s? Don’t you think I know how special she is because she is the only girl either of us has left? That was set in stone for me last year when that drug dealer kidnapped her, held a gun to her head and we both worried if she was coming home or not.” He spat out raising his voice and seeing Braden and Brock look at them followed by all the Devonshire’s in the room. He ran a hand through his hair he couldn’t win with her but to say that he hadn’t eased up on their daughter was not true he had relented and had been trying for the last year to accept her choices and the future she chose, he still had silent reservations about it but he knew from the kidnapping that she was more important than his feelings. He was livid at this accusation that he didn’t care and worse that Lauren wanted to make a scene and have him admit something that was very private between both of them. There was no need for them to air more dirty laundry. “Fine you want to hear it so bad I’ve always loved Brenda does that satisfy you? Can we move on now today?”
For one moment she felt an honest release hearing him saying it. The silence was so deafening and she saw everyone looking around trying to act as if they weren’t listening. A soft escape purred out of her lips as she exhaled looking at her ex-husband. Pulling the dress she was wearing down a little she knew that it was crazy what she did. “Please stay our daughter needs you.” Reaching out to him she touched his face. “I don’t need that pub and it’s your families you have until the end of this month to find someone to take over. I don’t want a thing from you.” She said in a whisper. “I don’t need the money and I think for once it’s time for me to take a risk. I don’t want to deal with you anymore and I don’t even want to see you. I wanted it because it was all I thought I had but the painting is brought me back to life. I hope we can be friends one day but right it hurts so badly. For me and I thought I needed that pub and I thought I needed you. I thought that even after the divorce you’d see me. You finally see I loved you with my everything. This is goodbye for a long period of time.” She bit down on her lip. She needed space and no matter what goodwill she had at these showings she couldn’t just forgive him.
“I’m sorry that I yelled at you.” Lauren gulped down the words. “Here I was promising to keep the peace and I’m starting a war. Walter I don’t want you to worry about me but it’s time we need a clean break. I need to remove you from my mind and get you out of my system. Us not living together isn’t enough Walter. I need to not see you anymore for a while and maybe I should have left when we first divorced but I need to be free of Lauren Fraiser and I want to be Lauren Cummings again. I’m leaving The Pub and don’t worry I have the cottage and I am fine I bought it and I just want to live right now free of all of this.” She admitted out loud and saying it again made her feel full. “Please do this as a person. Let me get my break because for once I have a nice man interested in me. Can I have a moment where I don’t have to run into you and her? Walter, you’ve waited a long time to be free and now you are. No matter how rotten Brenda is she is your soulmate and I wish you both nothing but the best but I can’t do this. I can’t be fake anymore and bottle it all in because of days like this. I’m so happy and so sad because we could have had everything. It bursts out of me the hate I feel for you so please let me go.” She said in a whisper. “Let me leave The Pub I’ll sell ownership back to you.”
Walter looked at her and then looked around at the stares in the waiting room people that were trying to be polite and not eavesdrop. Staff quickly turning their attention back to their work, the Devonshire’s all suddenly going back to their phones or turning their heads. He heard his cell phone ringing and looked at the caller deciding that he would take the call. A mayor’s job was never done in this case to make sure everything went as planned with the Scottswood project he had called in the governor for help and Charles would want to know about the birth of the twins. “Do what you want Lauren you always do. I’ll have Braden draw up the paperwork if you want to just toss away the Pub and everything we worked for.” Walter spat before taking his phone and placing it next to his ear as he made his way outside to take the call.
Lauren stood back and her legs felt like jelly once again she expected him to be understanding. She assumed that he loved her enough to understand the pain she was feeling. She had expressed herself over and over again. She didn’t want the kids to hate him but she had every right. Pinching the bridge of her nose she turned to see Kelsey standing there, along with Brock, and Braden looked sick to his stomach. As she smiled and ran her hand over her dress she swiftly walked to the bathroom. She didn’t want them to see her crying and ruin the day even more than she did. Where did that rage come from? She wishes he knew what it felt like to be her for a moment. She set him free but it didn’t set her free. The pain was almost too much to bare. She wrapped her arms around herself as she wiped her eyes.
Dani gripped the edge of the hospital bed rail as she looked over at Kelsey Jackson was outside checking on things or she had kicked him out she couldn’t quite tell which. He was making her nervous which in turn was making him a nervous wreck, so she had sent him out while she stayed with her cousin. Her mother had come and sat with her for a while before she decided that walking might help and this pain was unlike anything she had ever felt but maybe in a good way. She had glanced out the doorway to see everyone gathered and had to be dragged away by her cousin when she saw that bitch Greer here with Brock. She had almost gone out and yelled at him and her only the contraction came again and she looked up at her cousin seeing her rubbing her back. She had declined an epidural when they arrived and wondered if that was the right call now that it was progressing so fast, she looked up at the door when Jackson came back in her mood was better now. She held out her hand for him to take it and when he did she squeezed as hard as she could let out a scream at the contraction that ripped through her. Hopefully, for a while this would be it for them she wasn’t sure she wanted to go through this again.
“I love you but next time you push them or it out,” Dani said gritting her teeth as she looked at him halfway teasing him and halfway serious. She had been avoiding her cousin’s questions about why she was dressed in a nightgown when they arrived and what had kick-started labor and maybe that was for the best. She only hoped Jackson didn’t let it spill she would never hear the end of it from Kelsey if he told her what they were doing before her water broke. She looked down at his hand seeing it turning white and released it not realizing her own strength as she looked at him smiling and shaking his hand. “No one has fought each other outside right? Zerick’s didn’t cause a scene, did he? Tell Brock to send his little toy away, I don’t want her here. Jesus Kelsey how much longer? Where is Ophelia isn’t she supposed to be here like the whole time?” Dani asked remembering that Ophelia had been called down to another patient which annoyed her.
Jackson walked in and saw her pacing through the contraction. God, she was beautiful because right now she was the most beautiful she had ever been. When he felt her gripping his hand tighter than a vice grip he knew she was serious about the next kid. They were already thinking about another child it made him feel complete. This was the beginning and he knew it after tonight nothing would be the same for any of them. Moving the hair out of her face he smiled as she questioned them all. Looking over at Kelsey she nodded saying she could know what was going on. He exhaled as he sat her back down on the bed and propped her feet up. “I need you to calm down Dani and breathe because my fingers can’t take it anymore.” Rubbing his hand he smiled at her. “Alright, I’m going to do this fast.”
“Zerick showed up bitching about my father and his conception, your mom and dad had the ugliest little argument and pretended like it was nice. We all heard her she as she was ripping him apart. Max is being very strangely zen which is freaking me out. My dad’s legs are getting worse he rolled up in a wheelchair and Brock is very infatuated with his toy. I think that’s everything oh and Whitney sent a bouquet and baby basket.” He looked at her and saw her sad expression. “It isn’t that bad I think my parents were fighting too. Dani this is about us and we aren’t letting any of them steal this do you understand me and right now I think it might be time for you to push or are you dilated that far along. I’m just anxious to meet them.” He rubbed her belly. “Hey daddy is saying hurry up, I’m pretty sure if you’re anything like myself and Max you’ll come roaring into the world.” Looking up into Dani’s eyes. “I love you.”
If a contraction hadn’t ripped through her body that felt like a million needles poking her she would have refused an escort to the stupid hospital bed and she nearly rolled her eyes. Of course, the drama would be happening on the day that she wanted things to just go normally. She supposed that came to be expected when it came to the Frasier’s and the Devonshire’s. She was still mad that Greer’s face was even there didn’t she have better things to do than hang around her family at the hospital? Wasn’t she the same woman that told her like days ago that children were like Gremlins or something like that? She tried to not be annoyed as she looked at Jackson, on the plus side at least no one had punched anyone yet, blood hadn’t been spilled and it wasn’t like anyone died. She looked over at the bouquet and that is when the emotions hit her, and she would never be so glad to get rid of fluctuating hormones as when after the twins came. She knew why Whitney couldn’t be there one she lived an hour and a half away and two her goddaughter had a cold that she wouldn’t dare transfer to her while giving birth. She squeezed his hand again as another one came and looked at him.
“Max is zen cause she’s happy don’t jinx it. I make no apologies about my parents but if they’re going to fight after they’re born they can both wait outside. As for the rest think of it like this, no one has bloody screamed murder or anything so win-win for us and them. We can figure out what is going on with your parents later. The fact that that monster of a woman is here just makes me mad so let’s ignore that part of today. I did send a text out to Yasmine hopefully Rory is okay with that. I love you too and I agree I want them out now too. It’s kinda exciting right?” Dani said breathing through the pain as she saw her cousin staring at them. When Jackson had mentioned if it was time to push or not she wasn’t sure it wasn’t like she was a doctor but it did feel like the contractions were getting shorter and more intense. “Can you please go find Ophelia or you know do the whole doctor thing Kels? I’d rather know now opposed to later when I can get them out of me if you don’t mind and don’t you even dare ask I’m still not telling you why I’m dressed like this. Maybe I didn’t have time to change from waking up.”
“Or maybe you two were getting freaky deaky,” Kelsey said looking at them both. “It happens so much more than you two would think. Hell, how do you think the twins came to be? You two had to be doing some freaky things so now that the awkwardness is out of the way. I’m going to check and see how many centimeters dilated since you are having contractions six minutes apart.” Kelsey said checking to see how far along her cousin was.
“Honey you’re eight centimeters dilated I’m going to call Ophelia. This is going to be happening very fast.” She stood up and looked at Jackson. “Stay in here I’m going to get Ophelia she was just delivering a kid downstairs. I will be back and don’t let anyone in here. Every time you come around she dilates an extra centimeter we are in the home stretch.” Kelsey walked out of the room.
Jackson looked at Dani and laughed. “Freaky deaky?” He lowered his chin and looked at her. “Well, at least I know that I didn’t hurt my kids from hitting it from the back.” Dani squeezed his hand and they were down to every five minutes now. That made him know the twins were coming. “Dani you do realize we didn’t go on a baby vacation so now we’re stuck with these little people for the rest of our lives. Look I don’t want you to worry about the drama out there. We’re about to do this your contractions are coming and I think that is what’s important. Exciting isn’t the word man it’s like I want to know them. I want to teach them how the world is a big beautiful place. I want to travel with you, Dani. We had this time apart but I want our kids to see the world like I did when I was young. I think it enriches you as a person and I want them to be financially and emotionally rich as possible. Soon we are going to be back and work and we are going to have to fight hard.”
Dani looked at him and was pretty sure she was halfway between shooting daggers at her cousin and embarrassment when she left, she supposed there were a few words for what they were doing. Instead, she felt another contraction hit and noticed they were getting closer and she almost said something only for the door to open and for her to see Ophelia walk in with Kelsey behind her. She was still gripping Jackson’s had through the pain and released it just a little bit seeing his hand again and the smile on it.
“Someone told me it was about time so let’s check again alright?” Ophelia said looking between them both they had that look. The look of anxious new soon to be parents and she checked looking up at them with a smile. “I’m going to start calling in the team myself, Kelsey and of course the double set of nurses. This will go fast you are almost ready to start pushing.” She removed her gloves as she saw the look on Jackson’s’ face and the slight fear on Dani’s about how early it was and she reached out touching their joined hands. “It’s fine twins come early we talked about this remember? We covered all the precautions with the steroid shots, their growth was perfect and they were both facedown a few days ago. It’s just time not to mention we have one of the nest neonatal units in the state here, so if there is a problem we are covered ok? I promise the goal here is healthy mom and dad, healthy babies no matter what.”
Dani looked at her saw the fear ease off Jackson’s face and nodded her head at Ophelia she was pretty sure that she was as nervous as Jackson was. However, she was glad that they had Ophelia so far she had been there every step of the way so far and she did trust her to do right by them both and the twins. She nodded her head at her as Ophelia nodded at her cousin and then the door opened and she watched as an entire team began filtering in. She looked at Jackson who was even at a loss for words and she sat up a bit to look at him. “We can do this. I know we can.”
Jackson grabbed Dani’s hand and kissed it. As he looked up he knew it was time he saw a fear in her eyes but she was calm. It was scary but thrilling he could see a twinkle of excitement in her eyes. Feeling that time was here he had to support her because in his soul he knew they were ready. They were about to become parents to two souls. “Duh, I know we are about to be kick ass parents to these twins. You know you rocked my world and changed everything.” Jackson choked up as he pulled himself together exhaling. “You are amazing because here we are a little early and our kids are perfect. Come it’s time to push Dani and I’m ready to meet these two perfect individuals we are having.”
Kelsey smiled at them she saw so much love and her heart felt so full. It was so sweet to see two people so invested in their love. They loved each other that it spilled over into twin souls that was something that touched her. As she looked at her cousin roaring with another scream. The nurse swarmed into the room she went to the sink watching Ophelia, doing the same. It was amazing how her mind shifted to think about Val because would she ever have that type of love with her? Was she wasting her time with a bisexual girl who would never truly commit to her? What was worse was Ophelia was truly a work mentor and she was always bragging about Jamal and Val. Kelsey had to say she was impressed with Jamal because you’d never know last year he was slinging drugs and pretending to be a thug.
Turning around she placed on gloves and she walked to Dani. “Alright my beautiful cousin you are amazing and it’s time to push,” Kelsey said as she looked at Ophelia at her side. She was going for baby B which would be the little boy. “Have you two chose names? I have heard all type of rumors in the tabloids.” Kelsey teased as she looked at them.
“Come on baby push and squeeze my hand and push Dani,” Jackson said amazed how fast this was happening. The twins were coming.
Aspen started to walk around to everyone passing out champagne flutes. She walked directly past her father not even acknowledging him she was still pissed at how he treated her at dinner. Two huge men with a crate of champagne from Sebastian vineyard arrived as she clapped. “My gift is here.” She said turning around looking at everyone. “Today we are celebrating Jackson and Dani along with the two most adorable babies who were just born. Not only that I’m celebrating that I’m dating the most handsome Devonshire man, Rory. I’m so sorry Chauncey you just aren’t this pretty.” Everyone laughed as she walked to Yasmine and smiled at her. “Here you look thirsty must be why you’re here.” She watched the men start to pop champagne glasses as she stared at Yasmine. She was exotic, lean, and had the most perfect smile she’d ever seen. Her insecurities flared instantly because she was looking at a Goddess before her but she wouldn’t let her know it.
Yasmine had been feeling out of place here but Dani had sent her a text saying she was in labor. Khalil and she were watching Netflix and eating junk food in bed just relaxing. Ever since the kidnapping and trial, they had become so close because of the shared trauma. Seeing someone get shot repeatedly would do that to two people. It wasn’t until she saw Rory with this stunning redhead did she finally feel something, she wasn’t sure should. Yasmine walked away and it was her choice but all and all she could have been more understanding. Tess old ass had caught him clearly vulnerable about their breakup. Now all of the sudden seeing this bitch all sprawled out over him made her feel sick. When Talia bumped into her in the bathroom she looked just as emotional as her she just handed her a tissue. Yasmine didn’t cry but it did feel like someone stepped on her chest. Did she have a love for Khalil absolutely but did she love Rory absolutely. That feeling was selfish as hell but she didn’t want him to be with anyone else.
When she almost passed Khalil and her up for champagne flutes she scoffed. So the little bitch knew who she was. Truth be told a piece of Yasmine knew she could snap her fingers and get her ex back but that wasn’t what she was on. Until that bitch came into her face and called her thirsty. Sucking her teeth she knew that she was intimidated. Khalil was talking sports with Brock and she felt the need to check this girl. “Thirsty I am not sweetie. I’m here celebrating my dear friend giving birth. I don’t think she even knows who you are honey, but that speech was cute. Rory deserves to be happy I just didn’t think after he’d been with a woman of substance he’d go so vapid.”
Aspen rolled her eyes as she sipped the champagne. “Substance? Oh you mean the stuff you used to sling in the strip club Rory found you in? Look I’m going to tell you that you popping up at family events with Khalil is tacky and even more so don’t you care about him at all? I mean rubbing salt in his wounds to punish him. I see you little miss Scottswood. You don’t fool me you want him to suffer but the gag is that you thought he’d sit around and wait until you were done with LeBron James 2.0. I mean you know how much of an animal he is in bed so he wasn’t going to sit around and wait. Plus we’ve been friends since we were kids.” Aspen said bragging instantly knowing she might have pushed her too far because the look on Yasmine’s face showed the hurt. Not only that she saw how she looked at Rory and that must have triggered her.
When she talked about her past she felt small for a second then Yasmine knew it was time to rip this bitch apart. Who did this preppy princess think she was? She was all up in her face oh no she didn’t. The fact that Rory was even sleeping with this bitch irritated her but who was she to judge? Rory begged her to stop trying to hurt her with Khalil. When Aspen said it she didn’t see it like that in the beginning but at this moment she finally got it. She still was punishing Rory and honestly, that wasn’t her intentions but subconsciously she must have been. “Funny I know Jamal, Brooke but he never mentioned you, honey. I mean so you must not be that important. Listen very carefully what’s your name? Oh, it doesn’t matter because I’m calling you bitch from now on. Bitch if I want Rory back I can have him back just like.” She paused and snapped her finger in Aspen’s face. “That.”
Aspen instinctively slapped her hand out of her face. “Listen to you guttersnipe if you ever point at me I’ll rip those extensions out of your hair. I don’t think you have many brain cells so let me explain this to you in full sentences. And just so you won’t forget it my name is Aspen Sinclair the girl who has the man you clearly really have feelings for.” That was all this was about she still did love Rory and honestly she had to know if she had to pursue Rory any further. He was still heartbroken about this girl and she wasn’t going to let her get what clearly was good for her.
“Bitch this all mine,” Yasmine said pulling her hair up in a ponytail. She saw Khalil and a few other starting to look at them but she wasn’t about to back down. “But I don’t think you know me. First, if you ever call me a guttersnipe again I’ll drag your ass all over this hospital. Second I think I’m going to drag you for the hell of it because you think you’re tough.” Before Yasmine knew it she swung on Aspen connecting directly to her jaw.
Aspen took a few stumbles back and looked at Yasmine and she couldn’t believe this bitch touched her. Shocked at her rage she couldn’t help it she ran up grabbed Yasmine by her shoulders pushing her over the refreshment cart. Snacks went flying in the air as she heard people running. Aspen pounced on Yasmine wrapping her arms around Aspen’s throat. “You bitch!” She screamed at Yasmine. Looking up she saw her father’s horrified face but Aspen wasn’t backing down.
Yasmine used her legs and kicked Aspen off her as she saw Khalil, some old ass white man, Rory, Bliss, and Max all charging at them. With a quickness, they both were back up on their feet ready to continue. No way was this princess going to get the last lick. Not when she was from Scottswood. Yasmine swiftly backhanded Aspen as she ran up on her again. As Khalil and Bliss grabbed her. “Let me go! I’ll show this bitch a guttersnipe!”
Aspen screamed in fury as her father, Max and Rory held her back. “You ghetto Scottswood trash! How dare you! My lip is busted! I’ll get you, bitch! You’re just mad that I have Rory!” She screamed at Yasmine.
“Nah you just mad if I wanted Rory I could have him honey get it right!” Yasmine said as she tried to break free. “Rory I don’t know where you found this bitch but you better get her!”
Rory had watched everything almost as if it had happened in slow motion Aspen passing around the glasses as they celebrated the birth of the twins. He had seen Aspen completely sideswipe Yasmine and knew it was her way of making sure Yasmine knew they had sex and were together. Still, he didn’t quite expect Yasmine to tell her in return that if she wanted him back she could have him, she was the one that told him it was over and had started to date, Khalil. He almost balked at her only to have Aspen and her exchanging words and then fits like it was a war and he reached down to pull Aspen off her and watched as Khalil did the same. This was not the time or the place for them to be fighting each other and he looked at Aspen begging her to stop as he watched Max come up with Bliss to help him and Khalil hold them both back.
“What in the hell is wrong with you both?” He snapped not sure who he was madder at Aspen for starting the fight or Yasmine for encouraging on the fight and dangling her to him. He shook his head at Khalil. “Maybe you and your new man should leave.”
Khalil had watched the entire exchange take place and was about ready to tell shorty white girl to step back that she didn’t want any piece of his girl. Only for him to stop and think when Yasmine basically said if she wanted she could have Rory back. Was that what she wanted? They had just spent most of the morning and the day before making love and here she was saying that she may want Rory back? He was so annoyed that he didn’t even realize what was about to happen before Aspen hit Yasmine and then suddenly Yasmine hit her and they were both flying around the room and for a few moments he was frozen as he watched. He then snapped out of it and walked over to the fight helping to break it up as he watched Rory do the same. He saw the other two who he assumed was Rory’s sisters do the same. The girls were now a mess and he stared at Rory as he demanded them to leave.
“Screw you, you didn’t invite her here Dani did. You were the one that let Yasmine go when you messed around that old nasty piece of trash wasn’t she like at one point almost your step mommy? How about you take the new doll that you can lie to her instead. We’ll leave when the parents of the kids want us to you spoiled little ass.”
Max had rushed to the two girls as they started to fight and looked over at Bliss and then back at the girls and then over at Rory. So two young women wanted him, she supposed she had men fighting over here. Jackson had women fight over him in the past not recently but in the past. Same with Chauncey and she didn’t; even need to mention her father word was that her mother and Tess would fight and so would Audrey. She had walked over and helped break up the fight looking between Yasmine and Aspen. She had known Aspen for years, she was a nice girl and had become a radiant flower overnight it seemed. She wasn’t sure she should be impressed with her brother or if she should be irritated his two women were causing a scene at the hospital. She made sure she had a grip on Aspen and then saw that Bliss had gotten Yasmine.
“Everyone calm down alright? How about you and I head to the bathroom and get you cleaned up?” Max asked Aspen hoping the girl agreed she looked like a mess and maybe that would give both girls a chance to cool down. She didn’t hate Yasmine per se but she did feel that Rory had been manipulated by Tess and Yasmine should have maybe let it slide it wasn’t like Rory went out and had an affair on her. Then again her baby brother had made his own bed and she wasn’t exactly one to judge given who she was either. “Bliss can help Yasmine right?” Max said hoping her sister got the hint or there was bound to be more hair and glasses flying.
Bliss looked at Yasmine who looked like a cat who had been thrown in the water. It was quite different to be watching one unfold in front of her. Max had the same look in her eyes which was an embarrassment but amusement. She couldn’t believe what had just happened but last year they were scrapping like cats in the same manor. Helping Yasmine pulling her hair back. “I can Max, I can help her and you two calm down emotions are high. I think that’s all.” Bliss said taking Yasmine toward the bathroom as she looked at Rory with a smirk. For months her little wise brother sulked because he thought Yasmine didn’t care. It amused her because in a second a lot was opened back up to him. He saw that Yasmine did still love him in a flash that world that he believed was closed was opened back up. Opening the bathroom she grabbed some towels, peroxide, ointment, combs, bandaids, and finally opened her purse pulling out a flask.
“This was for my brother when I was alone with him to celebrate. It’s a tradition of my grandparents on my maternal side, Yasmine. But just so you know I think Gramps wouldn’t mind. Plus I was just kicking my sister ass last year she would say it was the other way around. Max was horrible to me but you can’t let her or any other woman get under your skin like that. Something I learned after one too many moments like this. It’s going to be really embarrassing to go out there after this kid.” Bliss began to tend to Yasmine wounds.
“She called me a guttersnipe,” Yasmine said looking at Bliss. “I’m not a guttersnipe, I’m somebody and I don’t like how she treated me or Rory.” She said looking at Bliss. “I never thought Rory wasn’t perfect. I still do and that’s the problem. I don’t know it was scary being with him.” Letting it out was scary for her because for the first time she faced she was running. “He makes it hard to trust him because he is so perfect and when he cheated it made me get away because if I didn’t. I don’t know where we would be at this point. I was so wrapped up in Rory I didn’t see that I could fight myself out of a hole. He was a knight and I was his damsel and I want to always save myself, Bliss, you know? I miss him so much though and today when she dangled him in front of me like a damn carrot it pissed me off.” Yasmine winced when Bliss put the peroxide on her lip.
“Khalil just made me feel safe in a different way. Rory pissed me off and I can hold a grudge but to move on with that prissy princess girl. Nah I thought he had more flavor than just some old debutante. I guess I was wrong.” Yasmine sucked her teeth placing her hand on her hip. “I should go beat that bitch ass. I was holding back I could have torn a mudhole in that hoe!” Yasmine screeched still not facing what she was truly mad at. Breaking free from Bliss warm touch. “What if he doesn’t love me anymore? I was mad and the way he screamed and I know I was out of line but what if he loves her and I messed up because I was mad and I can be a bitch? He won’t love anyway when he finds out who my.” Yasmine gasped as she covered her mouth looking at Bliss shocked expression. Wiping her eyes. “I gotta go.”
“Yasmine, what were you going to say?” Bliss said looking at the young girl. “Please tell me.”
Aspen tore into the bathroom on the opposite side of the bathroom with Max as she looked at the Goddess. The only girl in Atlas Falls Prep ever to get away with sleeping with a teacher and not get expelled. The legend herself was in front of her the bad girl who made all other bad girls quake. She was always so sweet to her and she felt a need to explain why she just did what she did. Yasmine was a threat and whatever they had before she came back home was potent. Now to see how explosive that girl was and how he reacted. She watched his eyes never left Yasmine and that made her quiver. She’d never admit that to anyone but she didn’t like that this girl had somehow become in the inner circle and not on merit but on being Dani’s friend. Well out of respect she wouldn’t be at any other events.
“She is infuriating,” Aspen said looking at Max in the mirror. “I just am really liking your brother and it sucks because she’s always around. Why does it have to be like that? She’s like this ghost who won’t go away. I am so sick of her and whatever this is because she won’t go away. I just think she is going to come and take him away one day. She snapped in my face and said she could have him back. I’m not a fucking toy? She doesn’t get to play with Khalil and then Rory and I get to be thrown away. I won’t be thrown away because she is still hung up on Rory and wants to keep it real with Khalil.” She sniffed as she looked at Max who looked amused. “That Scottswood skank won’t be replacing a debutante from the upper crest of Atlas Falls. My grandparents were settlers here and my father’s face. He was so disappointed in me oh my God he’s going to tell mom and everything will be horrible. They’ll call Harvard oh my God Max what did I just do?” She cried covering her mouth. “I’m in so much trouble.”
Max took the rubbing alcohol in her hand and then placed some on a cotton gauze pad and placed it to Aspen’s cuts watching the poor girl wince. That wouldn’t’ do if she was going to roll with a girl like Yasmine or keep up her charade of why she had been kicked out of school. If she was going to be with Rory that meant that she’d have to learn to at least fight and sometimes you had to fight dirty. “I know you don’t like Yasmine, she knows you don’t like her either that means she will even push your buttons more. Rory is not some asshole that is going to go around cheating on you alright? Yeah, he made a boneheaded drunken mistake with Tess that she couldn’t’ forgive him for that was it. Outside of that, he is loyal to a fault. You want to be with my brother that means you fight fire with fire.” She said seeing Aspen looking at her she could teach her what she knew, she had always liked Aspen so there was that, honestly, she didn’t know Yasmine well enough to like or dislike her. She only disliked how cold she had been to Rory when it happened.
“So here is how this is going to go down. You’re going to tell me everything about Harvard and I’m going to make a few calls to make sure things go your way when they call. Trust me no one is above taking a bribe of threats, you are then going to apologize to Rory. In the meanwhile, Yasmine is going to leave with Khalil and you will still be with Rory. Use what God gave you if you have to, I like you Aspen but I’ve been where you are before.” Max said not sure where in the massive restroom Bliss and Yasmine were or if they could hear and she really didn’t care. The reality of it was Yasmine was the one that tossed Rory away over Tess, Rory had moved on and if she thought for one minute a wag of her finger meant that she was going to just let Aspen rollover that was not going to happen. She removed the gauze and saw the bleeding had stopped and she handed Aspen some bandaids to place where she needed them if she wanted. “I fucked a teacher in high school, I spread the lie the way I needed. We can make this situation with Harvard go away so you get exactly what you want.”
Bliss looked at Yasmine as she told her that her father was Forbes Montgomery. “My mother is Tess Blisston the woman who is coming between Lowell and Jackie right now. So what? If that’s going to stop you from being with my brother then you don’t deserve him.” She could tell that she was shocked by her reaction. “Girl clearly my brother and you have some unfinished business and seeing how you reacted out there it shows you still care. Now if you are going to let Aspen walk up and take him then I don’t know what to tell you but you can’t have it every way baby. You can’t push him away and then pull him back with a glance or a look. I don’t think you are that girl. I think you are better than that. So pick up yourself and go after what you want Yasmine. Life isn’t fair and you can’t worry about others sometimes you have to take a leap. What Rory did with my very own mother was disgusting. Totally twisted and I don’t really think we talked much after it but he’s a good guy. I’ve told him I know that was my twisted mother being twisty. So don’t blame him anymore and maybe you should also take a little responsibility.” Bliss knew that caught her off guard.
“Look you were in the middle of the stripping game and all that drama with drugs. Didn’t you purposely push him away? He was drowning his sorrows while you two were kinda broke up. Girl look Hunter was my sister husband and he’s my soulmate. I don’t have time to care about my pride because I have a life to live. Let me ask you a question.”
“Yes,” Yasmine said folding her arms.
“Do you think about my brother when you are alone? Can you tell me that you can throw away a year where you two clawed to get to each other?” Just looking at her face she could tell she was thawing the ice over her heart. “Look if you don’t live for you and not what everyone thinks your a fool. Your secret is safe with me Yasmine but don’t give up if you are still in love honey.” Bliss tended to her lip as she wiped her mouth with a napkin. As she turned to see Max down the bathroom. Looking at her sister she saw a determined look in her eyes. She saw Rory and Yasmine last year that type of love didn’t just dissipate and knowing Max she wanted Aspen. Did the Devonshire women need another yes woman or manipulative witch? Hell, they’d barely survived Greer why add another one? Yasmine was real and kind but she also showed she wouldn’t stand for what Jackie and Tess did. She wouldn’t be cheated on nor the other woman Bliss respected that.
Word had it that Dani was officially a mother now and she couldn’t wait to meet the little buggers. When she saw everyone rejoicing Zerick walked away and she saw that he wasn’t as engaged as the others. She knew that the Devonshire’s let him stay for this joyous event. They were even pleasant toward him. His discontent for Lowell was clear but he was even shocked to see Lowell come in with a wheelchair. Her parents were in Japan and she just wished sometimes they were here. They promised to visit for Christmas considering how close the Rose family was to the Devonshire’s well it was clear they were needed. Jackie looked fed up and Lowell looked like he had given up. Zerick had placed a family into literal turmoil. She looked back at David speaking with Lauren and Ophelia. It was the perfect moment to finally speak with him after she set fire to his scheme. She knew where he was going after all they had been connected for much of last year.
Taking the elevator upstairs she got off at the top floor and walked to the stairs to get on the roof. He was standing on the edge and she felt fear for him. “Don’t you dare!” She said immediately as she walked over to him in the fresh snow melting on her skin. It was November and it was becoming frostier by the day. As she slowly walked toward him and stepping on the ledge looking down she almost jumped back down. Then the wind blew against her skin and she felt free to speak. “I never thought I’d fall for a guy like you. I hope you were better than you were and I honestly think you are. It hurts me sometimes to think where we could be if you were just Zerick Westwood. Is Zerick even your real name? I never asked you what did your mother name you? I don’t believe this is what Katie would want. You dismantling her family? Look like it or not you’re an only child Zerick siblings are sticky shit. Now you may have four other people to love and have the family you never had. Isn’t that enough?” She took his hand when the wind slightly pushed them both. “You won whatever this is. Rory fought for you down there I heard him! They all just let you be here don’t you feel that? It’s the ice cracking and I want you to love them even if it pains you to do so. You aren’t alone Zerick, you have a family now and a friend in me.”
Zerick had wandered away from his family as they all gathered and celebrated he felt completely out of place even when Rory had been kind to him. The stares and the side eye looks that he had gotten over the course of the time he had been there, of course, it was calm too. But he knew that was the calm before the storm all to well and he didn’t want that to start with him. The cool of the weather was needed as he had walked to the edge of the building and then looked down over the ledge at the drop it would be. If he were to jump and hit he figured his skull would be crushed in and then he thought for a moment who would mourn him when he was gone certainly not the people downstairs, he would be the stain that was gone. Forbes maybe but ever since this afternoon with Dru he had made sure to have a backup plan in place now with his Godfather perhaps she was right selling it off was the wrong move. His mother would, he stopped closing his eyes he had no clue how she would feel when he heard Talia’s voice he stepped back from the ledge looking at her so she still cared. He had hurt her and she had hurt him, she was moving on with that nice doctor that was treating Lowell he had seen them together downstairs.
“I wasn’t going to jump Talia I was simply just thinking about a few things I have too much I have to do here before I just skip town. I’m not just going to toss all that away because of what happened that night, you did open up that can of worms I’m actually shocked that you chose to stay with Lowell afterward though knowing what he did to my mother.” Zerick said looking at her that was long gone now between them and it was for the best, David or whatever his name was could give her the life she deserved. Someone like him would destroy her from the inside out, he would never forgive Lowell for what he did to his mother. Ever he would hate him until the day that he died or more there was no negotiation on it. “Zerick is my real name, I took the Westwood name on when I went into business. I was listed as a Davis before then should be Devonshire but why should he ever acknowledge what he did. My mom doesn’t even know what she wants now or when she doesn’t get a say right now. I have no connection to them they’re his children we just happen to share some DNA even if Rory is trying to ease that. I know you are trying to help but I need to do this my way and on my own. You made your choice when you sided with him over me. When you sided with a monster over me.” He said quietly looking at her realizing he was losing his temper over it all when it was not supposed to be that way. “I do hope that you’re happy with David is it?”
Talia’s face was cracked when he said that Lowell was a monster and even worse she was hurt he thought she chooses the Devonshire over them. “You have to understand I’ve known this family for years. Not only that my best friend is marrying into them. Now you can sit here and say that this is acceptable but what your doing is sick. If Lowell did this then he’s dying isn’t that punishment enough? He’s a walking corpse, and you saw him he’s in a wheelchair. He’s gone and you are here. Is it ideal how you came into this world absolutely not? It’s disgusting but I know that you have a heart underneath that bravado. I saw you when they announced the twins were born. You smiled and I think that’s you under all this hate and anger. What happened to Ms. Davis was horrible and I refuse to believe though that you can’t let go. You can’t go forward Zerick.” As she stepped down from the ledge. “You can’t leave it wasn’t easy for Bliss and year later she is apart of the family. I love her that can be you but this hate you are harboring for your very own siblings is foolish. Like they didn’t do this!” She said furiously as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“I was scared of love. I always have been scared of love but what happened to us is my biggest regret Zerick. Do you think I don’t think of you? That I hate how this played out. You were the first guy I honestly opened up to. Sometimes you think you know what is the right move and then you make it. You make it and all of a sudden you see the one thing I’ve always wanted slipped through my fingers. You know after I revealed the truth it took me awhile to breathe again. I just thought that I’d be fixing everything with your family. I just thought that it would be over. You know? That it would be the beginning but you said it. We were done and I thought if I showed you hard love. I just ruined everything even more between us and between you and your family. David is nice but he wasn’t my first choice you were.” She said softly as she heard the door opened to see a flushed face with tears in his eyes. It was Simon. “Simon.”
“I don’t care how long you have known them I am here living and breathing proof that he is a monster and yet you stayed on his side. Nothing is punishment enough for him in my eyes dying or not, you expect me to feel sorry for him?” Zerick seethed looking at her he felt nothing for Lowell no remorse for the state of his life and what was to come. He deserved much worse in his mind, so much worse he had gotten the fancy life and the parties while his mother had gotten a nightmare that she lived with every day in him. He wanted to be angry at her and her optimism that Lowell was still some sort of good man when he was living proof that he was not. Looking over at her he went to say more only to have that weasel Simon appear. He didn’t hate Simon per se he had been the one to make sure that he was exposed with Scarlett and Mason but still. “I should leave you to it then,” Zerick said looking at her and wondering where he went from here to the waiting room seemed so out of place and if he stayed here he would have to coddle Simon.
Simon had arrived at the hospital as soon as he had gotten the text and the calls, business as usual and it also gave him time to get away from Ivan and the drama there. He honestly wasn’t sure how much more he could take. Sure the sex and the fucking was good but he wondered if that was what he wanted to sign up for again all the secrets. One second Ivan acted like he wanted all in on them and a relationship the next he was hiding behind his music and fake persona of women and this tough guy act. He had so much drama over the last few years with both Zach and Mason but if anything had taught him much in the last year was that none of them were kids anymore. He had made sure the security team was in place still and the family still had their privacy in the hospital wing, checked on Lowell and Jackie which was weird and icy before heading to the roof. He had taken out a rolled joint on the way up he needed something to take the edge off of all the stress he was under. He had never touched the harder stuff but a little weed to set the edge was something that he needed. Instead, he was pretty sure he had walked in on even more drama with Talia and Zerick. He almost turned away to go back down but instead heard Talia call his name and he just collapsed on her when she took him into a hug.
He wrapped his arms around his friend realizing that cold wet tears were on his face as he did, normally he wasn’t such a god damned pussy. He pulled back from her wiping at his face realizing how much stress he was truly under as he looked at Zerick staring at them. “What are you looking at?” He snapped as he then turned his attention back to Talia they were best friends and he felt like they hadn’t talked in forever like when was the last time him, her and Dani hung out after work? Sure he and Talia knew about Dani’s life and he knew about Talia’s but then he realized he had closed himself off with everything going on with Ivan from them. “Does he have to be here right now with you? Trust me from experience men like him that are users and liars aren’t worth it. For once Talia I was going to move on you know make good and smart choices like you were hell like our friends were, you with David, Jackson and Dani and yet here I am falling for the same shit I did with Mason why in the fuck do I do this to myself over and over again? The worst part I tell you or that nosey asshole over there any of it he’ll be pissed at me for talking about him. Combined all that with the sick lies Zerick spreading about Lowell today I feel like breaking and you know me I don’t break girl.”
Hearing Simon being so vulnerable startled her. He never was emotional or so lost like this but then she heard a man was involved. “Zerick give me a moment please.” She said softly as she looked at him. When she watched him walk away she truly wondered what moment they’d have if Simon hadn’t found her. They were just starting to have a breakthrough. The cold air chilled her as it ripped through her leather coat. She wiped Simon’s cheeks and smiled at him knowing that he was feeling insane. She had gone through all of Simon’s boyfriend post, Zach. Mason had done a number on Simon he made him feel unlovable. The spark he roared out with was diminished year after year when he was with Mason. In many ways, she wondered if Simon stilted his own self for Mason. Not to say Simon was flamboyant but she wondered who he’d be if he didn’t have to hide right along with Mason. It was last week that she heard from Zach Fraiser for the first time in years. He told him all about Simon’s boyfriend carefully not outing him. Talia was always nosy and it didn’t take much to figure it out. Carrie O’Neil was Simon’s secretary who she always bought bonbons for and a killer high heel collection with her hand me down shoes. Well, Carrie said he was hanging out at Club Vertigo since Jamal wasn’t gay it only made sense that Vertigo newest recording star was a DL man.
“I have ridden with you through Mason, Simon and I will say that you never seemed comfortable with being open. I hate to say it your parents’ conditional love stopped you and I’m going to say it they favored your damn brother and it’s hurt you for years. I’m not one to tell someone to leave a guy or girl because you can only know that. I have to think that this is no good. I have to think that this isn’t good for you. You deserve to have an out and proud man show you how you should be loved. On the flip side, you’re talking to a girl who wants to chase down the most toxic man I’ve ever met. I think David is wonderful but I don’t feel the butterflies yet not like I did with Zerick.” Talia moved her dark hair behind her ears. “Ivan right?” She said softly looking at him. “I won’t say a word you know that but Simon this isn’t good. Jamal is pushing him to be the face of his record label and he isn’t pushing him as a gay rapper. Hip-hop is the most misogynistic forms of music. Not to mention the songs that have been leaked don’t sound gay-friendly. He hates himself and I know what it is to want to save that man. I do but my question is simple Simon because I don’t think it’s horrible either. Do you care and knowing you the way I do. I think you do Simon because you’re crying. Bitch when do you cry?” Talia said looking at him. “He’s special huh?”
Zerick knew it wasn’t his place to stay and watch her with Simon he simply graciously nodded his head at her they would have time to talk more or argue. He wasn’t sure they were ever going to agree with how to proceed when it came to the Devonshire family and his father. He didn’t have it in him to forgive the man that raped his mother and he walked to the door and headed back downstairs to be with the rest of them.
“I know you have been there for me from Mason and everything else. I have always been comfortable with who I am I didn’t hide behind some false sense of who I am. Why in the fuck do I keep picking men who are? First, it was Zach in high school and then Mason on and off through college. THen it was full time with Mason. I keep picking and falling for men who are too ashamed of who they are to be straight with me and instead hide behind lies to their family and keep me in the dark.” Simon said looking at her not even sure where to start when he was coming to Zach and Mason let alone Ivan. He wanted to scoff at her for assuming the worst about his parents they weren’t that bad compared to other parents that he had heard about at least they didn’t try to pray or take the gay out of him. It was true that they favored Julian the most but he often thought that wasn’t because of his sexuality or maybe it was. “How do I make him come out Talia, all I hear is excuses constantly. It’s the 21st century there is no reason for him to be ashamed of who he is label ties or not.”
Perhaps he had blinders on to the hip hop community and how they would react, maybe he needed to take a step back or go into the shadows and find out. The entertainment industry that he knew hell the press he would or had been a part of relished in that story. “Maybe you and he are right Talia but I’m not sure how much more of it I can take. On top of having another in the closet relationship, we have all the drama with Zerick going on with Lowell and Jackie. I’m stressed out beyond reason at work and I just needed a moment you know?” He said pulling himself together as he took a few deep breaths he didn’t think the tears were necessary right now and he had to remind himself that he could be strong and get through it. Maybe one night of partying is what he needed text Ivan that he needed a break and then let off some healthy steam. “So how do I make him not hate who he is Talia maybe I’m just not cut out for that. I don’t know how to make him more comfortable with who he is and more comfortable with our relationship. He’s different when we are together and then a different person in public that is what I am having such a hard time coming to grips with. I want to think he is special, but Talia how special can he be for me if he won’t be real with himself?”
“I guess what I’m saying is it that important. I was really happy with Zerick when nobody knew. Like I get you want everyone to know that you have someone Simon but sometimes keeping things on the low is so much better than having it out there. I know you don’t agree but Zerick and I were special and I feel.” She bit her lip. “Maybe I lost a good thing before I knew it was even gone and that hurts. Simon this is simple okay? I’m going to make this so simple alright.” Talia said wiping away her own tears. “Do you recognize love inside what you two have right now? Do you feel like you are falling for this man? Are willing to fight against another man’s expectations of what a man is. Against Ivan’s own toxic masculinity is? I’ve heard some of his raps they are disgusting and misogynistic but I like pop music, bubble gum pop. I’m weird K-Pop is so my jams. So, Simon, do you love him and do you think he’s falling in love with you?”
Simon for once wasn’t sure what to say to Talia to him it was important that Ivan was honest with himself that was how he was raised, he knew that wasn’t how Ivan was raised. When Talia brought up that he loved Ivan it was way too early for that he wasn’t ready for that and assumed that Ivan wasn’t either. Perhaps that was where the disconnect was coming from for him what if Ivan was thinking that was what this was? He was still hurting from what happened with him and Mason he had time to heal from that. If he was pushing too much on Ivan maybe that was why Ivan was acting the way he was, why he was so scared of what was going on between them. He stepped back from her feeling a calmness after talking to her. “I think maybe Ivan and I should decide where we want this to go and I’ve been maybe mixing my wires. He’s not ready for some deep epic love story and maybe I’m not too Talia. You and I know happy ever after rarely last long in this town.” He said looking down at his feet as their phones rang and he looked down at the texts. “Looks like it’s time for us to get back to work.”
“Wait!” She said as she looked at the phone. “I gotta make a press release the golden babies are here but first.” Talia took Simon hand and opened her purse. “It’s a custom in my family to have saki when a baby is born. I need to have a drink and I’m looking at you, you clearly do too.” She pulled out two shot glasses and flask. Pouring them two shots right on the ledge she was standing on earlier with Zerick. “Happiness doesn’t last long in Atlas Falls but our friendship will and as long as I have Simon and Dani. Well, honey, I’m fine so to my best friends and we are finally growing up. One of us has kids.” Together they knocked the shot glasses and threw back the shot. “To the twins and we finally getting our happy endings huh?”
Walking over to her son she could smell the scent of baby in the air. Hearing Dani crying out in labor excited her but she exited for some air. When she saw Dylan and Maddie on their phones it’s shocking how that generation videoed everything. Sitting down by a snuggling Tamara and Braden she smiled as she looked at them both. “So it won’t be long now you know Fraisers come roaring it seems that the Devonshire’s are a little more stubborn so from what I hear baby A which is the girl is going to be born first and baby B the boy is going to take his time. It’s funny they have our traits already.” She said looking at them both knowing they heard how nasty it was between Walter and herself. She closed her eyes knowing they had every right to know the information she was given by Walter. “I’m so sorry if my fight with Walter earlier alarmed you. I just am taking in the fact that he has a child with Brenda. That hurts and it hasn’t stopped hurting. So when he told me that their daughter died, it feels horrible to say but I was happy. I have relief waving over me saying it now. I didn’t want to have to look at my husband’s bastard and Jackie is a better woman than me.” Lauren knew Randall had left she felt relief she hated for him to see her so emotional.
“Braden I know that you think that I’m horrible because honestly it’s your sibling but I can’t help it. My Victoria is gone and so is their daughter. I just in an odd way feel vindicated that they have to suffer. They don’t get some happy ending it all came back at them, the worst bitch got them karma.” Lauren couldn’t believe she was saying it out loud but she was so grateful that she didn’t have to deal with that pain in the flesh. Slowly running her hands through her hair she looked at Braden and Tamara sad and shocked faces but Jackie was behind them both. “Jackie if you heard that I didn’t mean it I’m so sorry that wasn’t a dig honey that was just me expressing my heartbreak it had nothing to do with you. I assure you.”
Tamara looked at Braden as the two matriarchs stared each other down. “Braden let’s go get them some coffee let these two grandmothers come to an understanding.” Tamara grabbed Braden hand as they walked off. “Call me what you want but I am not. We will not get in the middle of that.”
Braden had gone to speak to his mother only for him to see Jackie standing behind them and then Tamara dragging him away. He honestly wasn’t sure if Jackie and his mother were going to fight or not. Jackie looked like something he had never seen the regal and strong woman he had come to see over the years looked broken. He nodded his head at Tamara casting a glance at his mother as they walked off.
Jackie had seen the staff go into the room with Jackson and Dani and she had heard the screams of the start of delivery before the door had been shut. It was time now and she had walked through the wing one to avoid Lowell and the other to remember and cherish the times her own children had been born at this very same hospital. By the time she reached the group again she saw that Lowell and Walter were both gone and she had made her way to the private room that the hospital had provided for Rory only to stop when she heard Lauren speak. Eavesdropping was incredibly rude but the moment that she had overheard about Brenda and Walter’s daughter died she had stopped and then when she had mentioned Bliss her heart sank. Not in a bad way or a hateful way but in a way of understanding years ago she had wished that Bliss had died it was cruel. It wasn’t something that she was proud of by any means but the constant reminder of Bliss as part of her husband’s affair stung it still did but she didn’t hate Bliss for it. She had learned not to do that with a child who had no choice in how she was conceived or how she came to be into the world. She watched as Braden and Tamara walked off and quietly took a seat next to Lauren, they had been friends once they all had. She had imagined that they would have their children grow up together until that night at DGI when her husband threw everyone out.
“I know what you meant Lauren. There was a time that I wished that Bliss had never been born. I prayed for it and then it was easier to not even act like she existed when she was in Europe with Tess. Over the years I thought I could forgive and forget Lauren you know as well I do that is easier said than done and now, with everything Zerick is claiming.” Jackie said quietly they would be in-laws soon and while she wasn’t sure about her future with Lowell anymore. She hoped that Rory would do what she asked that they could all move on from this Zerick nonsense or they could move on with the truth that either Zerick was Lowell’s son or he wasn’t, she understood Lauren’s anger and hate for the child that Brenda and Walter had, today though wasn’t about that. “I used to think about this when we were all younger when you and Walter would come over to the house for dinner when we were all friends in college. It was right after Braden was born he and Chauncey a few months apart I remember us joking that we would all raise our kids together. When you barged into my office at the country club I didn’t quite expect this to play out like this though with your daughter and my son. I had inklings don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think either of us planned they would be parents let alone parents to our grandchildren. It’s funny how life works like that sometimes isn’t it?”
Lauren eased when she heard Jackie understood her pain as a woman sometimes mutual experiences could bond you. She laughed thinking that it was nothing they could do to stop it. Sometimes things are meant to be and sometimes things happen in ways they never imagine. She was still shocked that Jackie’s son was even with Dani. She was happier than she ever saw her and even though they had some darkness. This was amazing because the kidnapping and all of that was behind them and the love they had made her feel happy. “It’s absolutely strange in fact considering all the bad blood we spilled throughout the years. It was horrible what we did to each other. I actually did think we were family that’s why that night hurt so badly. It was so dark and stormy. I just know that now I hope all of that can be buried and we all move forward from that time in history because we are all grandparents. It’s almost shocking to see Lowell Devonshire in a wheelchair earlier. How are you doing with that?” She asked softly as she looked at Jackie.
“I no doubt you saw me and Walter divorce is ugly. It’s raw and it shows you what type of person you can be. I swear I hate how vulnerable he can strip me in a moment. I can see him do one thing. He can care about our daughter today and we needed him to do that years ago. I don’t know to divorce the person you love the most and you gave your all to is absolutely crushing. I am crushed under the weight of what he did and I’m sorry that I said that because I got my wish. Lowell is really sick he looks horrible. That’s what I’m trying to avoid saying and I just can’t avoid it anymore. He looks so different than that handsome rogue that I saw even a few months ago he’s vanishing before our eyes. You need me to help with anything let me know. I feel like the twins are going to be here and if I can help.” Seeing Jackie face of pain wasn’t missed. “What’s the matter? Oh, I’m stepping out of place I’m sorry.”
Jackie wasn’t sure she wanted to share all the ugly details with what she and Lowell were going through, however, she had no friends to tell at the moment. It wasn’t like she was super close to Ophelia and she and Brenda had never really been that close and it was even worse now that Hunter and Max had divorced. There was no one on the staff she could talk to either, talking to her children about this betrayal that she felt would only turn them against their father. “Unless you screwed my sister and knocked her up Lauren I don’t think you can do much about what Lowell and I are going through. I want to believe him but you remember how attentive he was to Katie and how enamored with him she was. What possible reason would she have to lie about the situation? We both know that he was never fully one hundred percent loyal to me in the bedroom, he had Audrey and Tess along with who I am sure are more and I blindly turned the other way for money and status. I was so foolish back then and I kept telling myself he’ll stop one day Jackie. Audrey was the first of many followed by Tess but the thought of him with Katie Lauren that is something I simply cannot ignore this time.”
Jackie finished as she let it out and then looked over at Lauren feeling the sting of tears behind her eyes and she reminded herself to push them back there would only be happy tears today. It was about the twins, not her upsetting past or present with Lowell and she saw Lauren handing her a tissue so she went ahead and took it. “I’m happy for them Lauren. They became something much bigger than what we all put between them. He’s sick Lauren there is no cure for what he has and yes a part of me is dying slowly watching him like this, knowing he is allowing Tess back into his life right now. I should be there supporting him Lauren but how can I do that when he won’t even acknowledge what happened to Katie am I supposed to turn my back on her?” Jackie said taking a few deep breaths to compose herself as she then looked at the nursing team going into the room it was closer now. “I was surprised to hear about you and Walter, on the other hand, I know how deeply his affair with Brenda had to have hurt you over the years. I often think I should have reached out after Victoria died to you offered you and Walter the support you two needed perhaps your future with him wouldn’t have crumbled as it did. I would like to think we can at least share the twins as grandmothers, two is definitely more trying and time-consuming than one I am sure they will appreciate the help.”
“I like to think that Walter and I were doomed from the moment he coveted a fictitious woman.” She reached over and grabbed Jackie’s hand as she looked into her eyes. “My greatest fear was what’s happening now. That’s why I went to Lowell years ago when Brenda was having that child. I want to tell you myself because Walter might say it out of spite down the line. I went to your husband and had him help Brenda give up her and Walter’s child. That was cruel and I know it and Lowell doing it was what he thought was right for his friend. Pride kept us all apart for years and that ugly rumor. One thing I never thought was back then Walter and you weren’t sleeping together. He was too wrapped up in Brenda to see past to you. I always felt so plain up against you two but I thought he loved me. I should have married Harvey and been with him. He loved me and I knew it. I should have been with him.” She repeated catching herself slipping into the past. “I remember once I saw Jackson at The Pub snorting coke and I slapped him. He doesn’t remember and would more than likely be mortified but I saw the potential in that man a long time ago. You did really good and I happen to think as broken as we were as women we made some incredible humans.” She wiped her eyes as she looked at her.
“Jackie, how did we get so far apart? I have to say I hate to hear that you think it’s true about Katie. I remember how tender he was at that time with her but I also remember him saying she was like a kid sister to him. I can remember him saying that about her. She wasn’t looked at like that Jackie in my opinion and that’s not me validating your fears. I clearly see Lowell has a type, they are all stunning and have a look I don’t know. You, Audrey and Tess, are and were beautiful striking women and not to say Katie wasn’t stunning in her day but she always looked like a little girl.” Lauren commented seeing if her memory was fuzzy or if she was right on. As she ran her hands down her hair she felt herself unburdening on Jackie also. “I feel unlovable. I spent my entire life putting my everything into a man who left me and cheated on me after so many obstacles and he left me so broken. Lowell took everything from him. He truly broke when he stripped him of DGI and I don’t care what anyone says that’s when he stopped loving me. That’s when he was so broken that he didn’t repair because I don’t know him.”
Jackie squeezed her hand back they could relate to the men in their life and she looked at Lauren as she spoke about Brenda and how Lowell had helped her. She didn’t necessarily approve of how Lowell handled it but she also got why it happened that way. When Lauren mentioned that she had caught Jackson once using she was a bit shocked that the woman had stepped in to help her son when she and Lowell were too selfish too and didn’t see the problems starting then. “You were always such a strong woman Lauren and I have missed this us being friends. I know how hard it was for you and Walter to trust this with Jackson when it came to Dani. I’m glad though that we all were able to let this grow to what it is now.”
“I don’t know what to say about Katie she won’t see me or speak to me Lauren how am I supposed to trust Lowell’s word over hers? He refuses to clear his name with a test. I have no choice but to find out the truth Lauren no matter the cost we have never been this far apart before.” Jackie said looking at her and wiping her eyes with the tissue in her hands, she was prepared to have her marriage end. That was the reality of the situation with Lowell and then looked at Lauren. “Was it hard divorcing the man that you raised your children with? Shared a life with for over thirty years? I fear that is where my marriage is heading and we haven’t told anyone but Lauren I can’t forgive if it is true. I can’t forgive and forget that if he raped my sister. I could get back Audrey, Tess and the others not that though not Katie.”
“I’m proud of those kids they fought through us to get to each other. That wasn’t easy considering how horrible we’ve all been to each other.” She said looking into Jackie’s eyes. As she faced her head on she knew what she had to tell her. It was what rang through her head during the entire time she came to the choice to divorce Walter. “I kept saying to myself is my self-worth more important than this man? I only wanted Walter’s love for so long that it was so painful to say the words. Even thinking it had my head spinning. However, waking up and knowing that I can awake in peace. I don’t have to think if he’s looking at Brenda or if he’s at work this long for this reason. The Pub was a success because of our hard work but I don’t even want that. I don’t want anything dealing with Walter and I believe he’ll see one day. He’ll understand that I ironed his shirts, cooked meals, cleaned up every boo-boo and scrape, that I was his superhero, not some woman he could use. That I completed him and sometimes grownups put their wants to the side of what’s right.” She wiped her own eyes.
“Then you take the damn DNA test for him. We’ve put everything in these men hands. We’ve grown while they stay in the same damn place. I stood through Walter through losing DGI, losing Victoria, and so much more. I have pain for a lifetime and I’m sure you do. Now the question is do you truly want a life with Lowell? The answer is yes then you take that DNA test because you can’t go on without the truth. Katie needs to open up and if I were you I’d go see her and demand to see her. You pay her bills right? You have a right to get to the truth. Jackie if you want I’ll go with you even. Look us ladies of a certain age who are divorcing the men we’ve spent our lives building up need to stick together.”
Jackie knew that it was true what Lauren was saying it was why she was having Rory run the test with Zerick later that day. She wasn’t going to compare their pain one was not greater than the other but she did think Lauren had been through the worst losing a child. She was afraid to go see Katie and she didn’t know if it was in fear of what she would learn if she did or it was a shame at how she had hidden her in that facility all these years. She took a breath nodding her head at Lauren as she did so. “I’ve always taken care of Katie that is what an older sister is supposed to do. I know I have to go see her perhaps in a few weeks when things are settled, would you go with me? I’m not sure I can go on my own and I certainly can’t ask one of the children or Lowel. It would mean so much Lauren.”
Lauren looked at Jackie and nodded her head knowing she would. She’d always been supportive of Jackie and Lowell relationship and one thing she saw between them that she and Walter never truly had was real love. “I don’t think Lowell raped Katie and I’m sticking to that. I will go with you wherever you need. I am so sorry that you have been going through this alone but we are grandmas together and I won’t let you go through this or anything else alone. Jackie, I missed you a lot.” She leaned in and hugged her tightly as tears slipped down her face. “I’m going and we will figure this out. If we have to travel down memory lane and find everyone who was there that night. I will because you deserve to know if you are staying in this relationship or leaving.”
Walter had stepped outside the hospital he was a grandfather again and this time one to two healthy twins and he didn’t think he could ever be as proud as he was. They were special in his eyes just as much as Dylan was to him. He had given his daughter and Jackson space with their new family to bond and get to know one another before the entire family barged in on them. Lauren was not talking to him at all now and he had to wonder if it would ever improve from here on out with them. They still had to be a part of Dylan’s life and now the twins together, not to mention the upcoming wedding for Dani and Jackson. Should Braden and Tamara make a real go of thing this time as well, they would have to socialize then too. His son had glared at him earlier in the hall and he had a feeling that his ex had shared their argument with Braden meaning it would get back to Dani too. They would know soon that their biological sister was not here anymore she was dead just like Vicky. At least they had met and had some sort of bond with Vicky, they would never know that with Kendall. Even saying her name in his head made him emotional as he adjusted his wool jacket he turned and saw Lowell rolling up to him in his chair.
“Are you not wanted inside either? We should be down to the wire now I would think though Lauren won’t tell me a damned thing nowadays. She has her reasons I suppose I should blame you for that.” Walter said wondering what had led the great Lowell Devonshire to his presence he had to play nice with him for the sake of their mutual grandchildren. That didn’t mean he had to like him anymore not to mention that what he and Lauren had done with Brenda to force her to leave with his child. He kicked at some of the snow on the concrete as Lowell crept himself towards him, he knew Lowell was sick but seeing him like this was almost sad. Before they could exchange jabs at each other, at least stand toe to toe on even ground now that he was in that damned chair it almost felt petty not to mention cruel. “I don’t wish to fight with you today Lowell I’m on thin enough ice as it with Dani given what she learned about Brenda and I. Today is about her and your son their impending future with our grandchildren. So if you rolled yourself out here for that I will politely have to decline.”
“Can I tell you something? I should have never betrayed you.” Lowell said looking up at Walter. “Maybe this fate wouldn’t hurt so bad if I had more people in my corner to turn to. I’m rolling myself out here to offer you these.” Pulling out a Cuban cigar and handing it to him. He lit his cigar up and took a deep inhale letting out a rich cloud of smoke. “I’m offering a truce for our grandchildren and for your future. Walter mayor isn’t a good look on you and I am only speaking from knowing what I know. You belong in the boardrooms and I think you should have gotten a fair shot. That’s not the grandchildren talking that’s me. I listened to Gloria and I failed you all in different ways but you were the worse. I took something from you but Walter know that you will get your chance but if you are still mayor you’ll miss it. I’m dying and my wife believes I raped her sister. I know that this might be reaching but I need someone and you need someone. Don’t pretend you don’t you aren’t the bile of the Fraiser’s. Irish and true but you laddy has ruined your opportunity with a wonderful woman for a raging drunk. I always liked Lauren but Brenda was a social climber. I told you that.” He sneered at Walter taking another puff.
Lowell saw that Walter was pissed and he was maybe pushing his luck but he wasn’t going to cower. “Walter I didn’t rape Katie and they are going to hang me. They are going to take everything I built and I’m asking for our grandchildren which will have my name Devonshire but they are Fraisers and for the first time. I am swearing on there head none of Dani or any of there worries will be felt. I want to give you what was taken. Walter, I need you to step up when I die because they will be devastated including Jackie. I was lead to believe you two were having an affair and years later I found out it wasn’t true. It blinded me because I could cheat but even believing Jackie was ate me alive. It did I was so angry at you for so many years and when I asked Lauren she said you two were nothing but friends. It stung that I helped her do some horrible things to you. I had to punish you, Walter because I thought you fucking Jackie and as evil as that is. I’m so sorry for what I have taken from you. I’m here because I need someone to guide my family after the biggest gut-punch happens to them. I am not asking you to be CEO but an advisor your mind is in the business world and I’m sure you can help. Please, Walter just do what you can and I’ll do what I can to repair what I have stolen from you. I’ll have Simon look into Kendall’s death.” Lowell gave him a deal and this was the least he could do at this moment.
Walter looked at him a little shocked at his declaration that he never should have cut him out of DGI he was still the one that had made Lowell his billions of dollars. Part of the reason he was so angry at Dani for working for DGI the sting of it all was pretty raw and he took the cigar from Lowell watching him in his chair as he took a puff. “No, you shouldn’t have instead you did and look where we all have been Lowell. A truce always comes with a price for you I assume or maybe your black heart finally bleeds red now.” Walter said playing with the cigar in his fingers as he looked at Lowell and had to shrug his shoulders at the statement he assumed that they were going to have to have a truce now. They couldn’t very well squabble in front of the grandchildren the dirty looks that he would get from both their children, wives and former wives if they did. “I like the mayor’s office now I have plans you know a few years there then maybe Senate Charles and I have it all mapped out. Jackie and I? Gloria?” Walter stammered out as he looked over Lowell and he almost laughed at him if it wasn’t so outlandish. He had always had eyes on Brenda back in the day he had begun that affair after Braden was born it wasn’t something he was proud of but he wasn’t screwing Jackie of all people. “Gloria told you what exactly? That I was fucking Jackie? And here I thought you couldn’t even be that naive back then. I stand corrected.”
“Katie was emotionally disturbed from an early age Lowell they would have a term for that now from what I understand. She was always friendly with you but I never saw anything to indicate that you were inappropriate with her.” Walter relented and he meant that part he stood behind the #MeToo movement just as much as anyone else but he also didn’t trust Forbes or his word as far as he could toss him. Zerick was angry in his mind he had a right to be on the other hand he felt like perhaps he was jumping to all the wrong conclusions when it came to who his father was and the story that he had been told. “I should hate you until the day I die for taking Kendall from me Lowell Lauren told me what she did, Jackie told me who helped her go that awful place in Florida where she gave away my daughter. At least you had Bliss in your life I was denied that. I will never forgive you for that for DGI I can let that go because of the woman my daughter became and the choices she made in the man that she decided she marry. I learned last year I have no say in that now. You ripped Kendall from me and I don’t need your help she’s dead if that makes you feel any better.” He said coldly seeing Lowell take another puff and he breathed for a moment. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore with you Lowell that wound is still too fresh. Should you really even be smoking right now?”
“I’m dying already Walter what’s it going to hurt?” Lowell said knowing how wrong he was for doing all he had done Walter. “I can’t take back what I’ve done in the past but just watch Walter I’ll repay you. I promise you that.” He said looking at the man who towered over him because he was in a wheelchair. Using the railing he stood up hurting but able to stand still. He looked at Walter and smiled. “Years ago I would have said this was impossible but right now I will say this. I need you, Walter, Forbes is after me and my family because I ousted him and it was foolish then and it might be crazy to think but if you ever don’t want to be this man anymore. I have a place for you hell you’ll always have a place at DGI the door is open now. If you want. I just need to know that what I did was cruel and I don’t know if I’m getting into heaven or hell. All I know is while I’m here I’m going to try to right all my wrongs.” As he took a long puff off the cigar he knew that he had another confession that he had to make.
“The Pub, Walter when I was mapping out the casino I found out that there might be something underneath the Pub. I’m asking for permission to drill there and get to see if what’s underneath there is what I think. Then you might not need DGI you might need a new broker because The Fraisers will be black diamond-rich. I’m asking you to help me get DGI so tall again that Forbes nor any company can touch it. I want to be untouchable again. I think if we dig underneath The Pub then we could have a billion dollars. Atlas Falls deserves to have our families on top because like it or not Walter we are now connected through our bloodlines. I for one want those twins and Dani to have everything she deserves. So help me and sell me The Pub and I’ll ensure you everything will change for real this time. I have no reason to cheat you because I’m dying Walter, I’m dying so I don’t have anything to lose.”
“I suppose that is the truth,” Walter said if rumors were true that meant that Lowell was dying and there would be no reprieve for his one-time friend. Rumors were just that rumors but he was astute enough to actually believe in the rumor and the diagnosis. Lowell’s health had deteriorated to the point that he was in a wheelchair and had a hard time standing a blind man could easily see that meaning that the ALS was the truth. Eventually, he would have to tell the world and as much as he hated Lowell he felt that was a terrible way to go. “So the great Lowell Devonshire wants to ask me to reconsider being mayor, drop everything I have worked for because he needs me? I must have finally been summoned to your chambers and you think that I’ll just jump?” Walter asked Lowell still had balls he’d give him that and once upon a time he dreamed of this moment. Now that it was here though he had to think about what Lowell was offering him a chance at DGI again and when he mentioned Forbes Walter felt a chill go through him. The man may have pulled his daughter from a car years ago but he hated him more then he hated Lowell.
“Can you blame me for being a skeptic, we used to be friends Lowell you gave me and Lauren hope we had planned on raising our boys together. You then ripped my hard work from me and that dream slipped away from us all.” Walter said looking at him he had seen the rumors of a report on the pub during the casino map out and now that Lowell was telling him the truth about it he was torn. That was something that his entire family had worked for not his dream job but he and Lauren had rolled up their sleeves to transform it when they left DGI and made it what it was now, the thought of tearing it down for oil conflicted him. “Forbes may have pulled Dani from a car all those years ago when Vicky died but it doesn’t mean that I don’t hate him just as much as you do. I understood why you got rid of him Lowell he was like cancer at the company but then you turned your back on me too. I would hope your son is deserving enough to give my daughter and grandchildren everything they deserve, she has never wanted money. I failed her in a lot of ways and because of that we have the grandchildren that are coming today.” He said relenting just a bit. “Let me think about it on the Pub. I suppose it would be rude of me to let you smoke alone wouldn’t it?”
“It would be terribly rude.” Taking a inhale of smoke he saw Walter pity all over his face. It was what he saw out of his wife, children, and all his friends. Pity, it disgusted him to be looked like a falling king. Everyman mortality was facing them when they saw the face of their own sons. Looking at Chauncey, Jackson, and Rory broke his heart because he wasn’t that man anymore. Seeing them made him feel less than what he used to be. He wasn’t handsome as he once was, he was withered and old. Never was he a vain man but he could see his life slipping out of his body. Looking at the puddle of murky water at his reflection and turned away. “I would happen to say my son took that foot up your daughter ass and turned her into a much more fun person. She was uptight and so tightly wound up I thought she would explode. She’s much happier and as far as I see it she isn’t so afraid to stand up to anyone. That’s what my son did for Dani and I’m sure they will hold each other up.” Lowell said hating how Walter always spoke down to Jackson contribution to his and Dani relationship.
“I’m asking to give you back what was taken from you. I know one thing you deserve this shot to be the man I stole from the world. Look everyone knows you weren’t the same after I exiled you from DGI. I don’t think you can go back to that sunny guy we all knew back then. Hell, I don’t expect you to lose your sour ass disposition but I’m asking you back to guide my family. Now don’t think this offer will always be on the table, Walter. I have a lot of planning to do. Death makes you think about all the vile things you’ve done to people and I will start with you. I know you have no reason to trust me or believe me. I am asking you to have faith that I’ll do what’s right. I mean with the little time I have on earth what else am I going to do but make right the wrongs I’ve done. Please don’t let me die thinking I didn’t fix this between us. Tony knows I detest Gloria now but the things she did along with you know… Jeremiah, I just don’t think that I can die without making so many things right. My sons are mending fences and I need to with you and Harvey at the least.” Lowell looked at Walter and reached out touching his shoulder. “My life has been so much pain Walter and the things I did to you and Harvey.” He gasped as he weakly crumpled in his arms. Quickly stiffening his body up he pushed himself back away from Walter.
Waving off Walter’s assistance he hobbled to the wheelchair and sat down. “You see I’m not a God. I’m a mere mortal and my body has betrayed me in the worst ways. I will be able to think and not move. I won’t be able to talk soon enough and when that happens. What am I? I mute who took down the financial industry? God had the final laugh now didn’t he? For a man who used his golden tongue to get an empire. I won’t be able to even speak.” Lowell laughed his fortune. “I have to say everything now. Or else I won’t be able too soon. Walter, I’m sorry I shunned your family for years.”
Walter looked at him he had been hard on Jackson probably unreasonably so and that he felt was due to his own shortcomings with Dani he knew that now. That she was the way she was before now because of him. “I have my regrets Lowell just like you do when it comes to my family especially my children. Make those amends now before you can’t before they are ripped from you or you from them.” He lit up his cigar taking a smoke of it before coughing realizing he hadn’t done this in years. Leaning on the railing he looked over the waterway to where the casino was going to stand. He’d been helping Hunter and Bliss with it and wondered if Lowell knew he was already sort of helping at DGI. “I helped guide Hunter and Bliss with the casino they didn’t want you to know and I didn’t want Dani to know. So I suppose I can admit that I missed that part of DGI and I want it to succeed now especially with the grandchildren we now share.”
He looked at Lowell and shrugged at him taking another puff he supposed this was the mutual olive branch they couldn’t exactly fight at the holidays now. Harvey was always a sore spot for him knowing that the man held a torch for Lauren and likely did while they were married. “I’m hard on Jackson but I only am that way because I failed my daughter so much she deserves the best Lowell. You have your girls and me I only have her now one day you may understand that. If you are going to bring Harvey to town can you at least let him know we won’t be combining to fight this time over my ex?” Walter said finally deciding to offer him one last sound bit of advice. “I’d honestly hate for you and Jackie to not make it Lowell. If you’ve changed you would fight for her just like she did for you all those years. If not do the right thing by her and let her go before it gets so ugly it affects everything a lesson I recently learned the hard way.”
“Walter where the hell do you think you’re going? I was smoking a cigar and I’m winded. Get your ass back here and push me.” Lowell said nodding listening to what he said about Jackie. Deep down he wanted to fight with everything he had. However, he knew if he did fight it would unravel so much. So many different things would come undone. Secrets that he buried but who was he to play God? He made a promise years ago and he intended to stick with it. No matter if it ruined his marriage and it ruined his reputations. Sometimes secrets could dismantle entire lives and that’s what this would do. He’d hurt Jackie so much and he didn’t want to do it again however he knew that if he did say something it could destroy his very own family. Either way, he was going to lose.
“Walter can I tell you one more thing?” He saw the man looking at him. “What happened the night that Katie was raped.” He looked up into the eyes of his one-time friend. “Push me it’s a long story and people are only touching the cusp of it.”
“Come on Dani push!” Jackson said watching his daughters head start to crown. He knew his fiance was exhausted sweat poured off her face. As he stood up he wiped her face. “Dani, come on baby it’s time push she’s almost here. I see her she has a head full of hair.” Jackson chuckled when Dani gave him a death stare. “Push baby please.”
Kelsey was impressed with Ophelia she was guiding the delivery perfectly Dani was doing amazing. It was just them and a team of nurses. They were prepping and busily moving around the room. “Dani come on push, honey.” Kelsey was amazed at her cousin strength and her mother always questioned did she want to be a mother. Seeing the beauty of giving birth she was amazed and she started to tear up. Her cousin who was always so stunning was about to give birth and become a mother. It was what she always wanted. She remembered playing dolls and Dani even older would play with her. She’d always have the handsome prince and her doll marry. She’d run off always and be an adventurer something they should have known. She truly wished Lucy was here. They all had always had a special bond the Fraiser girls. “Come on push, Dani you know Lucy would tell you. Come on tough tits.”
Jackson saw Dani laugh and push hard as she squeezed his hand. “Come on! One more she’s almost here Dani!” Jackson started to tear up his daughter was almost in the world. He felt a comfort of love wrapping around them. He didn’t know how powerful this feeling could be but he was truly high on it. This was what Chauncey and his parents spoke of a love so deep that no bond could break it. He just wanted to protect and show these two little people the best world possible. They wouldn’t know the insecurities or pains of the world but they wouldn’t reach a ceiling they couldn’t break through. “Come on one more Dani push and then we can meet our firstborn.”
Dani was so exhausted from pushing and breathing and pushing and breathing, she wasn’t even sure how long it had been that they had been at this. Both of them were taking their sweet little time arriving, tv always made it out to be this relaxing experience that was fast and she had mentally laugh at it. Did they know how exhausting it was and she was sweaty and gross and she gripped Jackson’s hand as he told her to push again? She bit down gritting her teeth and nodded her head at him and then at Ophelia and Kelsey glad that the rest of the family was outside the room honestly it was weird enough with her cousin in there but she trusted her and her skills. She felt a pressure and then let out a scream bearing down as hard as she could as she felt the pressure release and she heard the faintest little cry almost like a whimper come out and she watched as Ophelia and her cousin pulled the baby out and she wasn’t sure why she was so emotional seeing that full head of hair and what looked like ten fingers and ten perfect toes. “Is that her?” She managed to croak out seeing the nurse handing Jackson a pair of scissors to cut the cord and then she watched as they moved her to clean her off and she then snapped back to Ophelia when she heard her call her name.
“We still have a little boy to greet. I’ll give you a moment to rest unless a contraction comes he’s going to slip right into where sister was. Sister is perfect.” Ophelia said looking at them both with a grin she could tell that Dani was tired not to mention in love with that little life. Jackson looked in awe as well and almost like he was going to pass out. “Jackson focus I think you can talk her through the next one just as well, she’s fine if there was a problem they would tell me or Kelsey. Ready?”
Jackson couldn’t help it as tears slid down his face seeing how beautiful and perfect she was. He couldn’t believe how fast it happened. In one moment it was Dani and him and then she came. The most beautiful cry he’d ever heard and the nurses were rushing around her giggling and talking amongst themselves as he stared at that little girl. She was his daughter and then all the pain he bestowed on women made sense. What people said when they spoke of it coming back on him. You see at this very moment his daughter was so perfect that all he wanted to do was protect her and Dani. Then he heard Ophelia voice snapping him out of his thoughts. “That’s her.” He said to Dani as he looked at his fiance and knew that God had blessed them because Kendrick kidnapped her during a fragile time in the pregnancy. She could have miscarried but now here she was giving birth to his children. “I love you but we got a little boy ready to come Dani I know you are tired and I don’t want to exhaust you but baby its time. Come on let’s get to our boy.”
Kelsey looked at the clock on the wall as she walked to the incubator where her cousin was inside. She looked at the beautiful baby already wrapped up in blanket and designer clothes on her body. These Fraiser’s would never know the struggle they had growing up it was amazing to know that. They all had middle class but Dani’s children would never know a struggle as they did. She knew the next contraction was near and she heard Dani starting to whimper between kissing Jackson. “My turn cousin. Alright, I need you to push because your daughter is so beautiful sweetie and you will meet them both soon. But right now it’s time for us to meet baby boy Devonshire. Come on Dani push.”
“Dani, I’m right here just push it’s alright. Our boy is ready to come home and meet his sister on the outside.” Jackson said as he looked at her discomfort on her face. He wished he could take it off but she was about to be done with this and finally, they’d see their twins. “Come on push baby.”
Dani almost glared at him how about he push? Instead, she took a breath as she felt the contraction again and gave a push pausing to take a breath as she looked at Ophelia. She was so tired and exhausted and she wasn’t sure she could keep going but when he encouraged her on she nodded her head at him. She felt the pressure and only hoped that this was almost over as she heard Ophelia talking.
“Good baby is crowning a few more pushes and he’ll be here you’re going great,” Ophelia said looking up at her.
Dani pushed again and saw Jackson smiling and then took a few more breaths, Lamaze was nothing compared to actually giving birth. She let out a scream as she felt the pressure release and saw that Ophelia held the baby in her hands and she heard the faint cry as she saw her hand the boy to Kelsey and closed her eyes exhausted and crying tears of joy as she heard their son crying and saw Jackson cut the cord, he was overcome too and then it hit her they were both there. Their babies that they waited months to see and met were finally here and she smiled at Jackson kissing him as the nurses finished up making sure they were both alright. “They’re perfect.” She managed to say to him.
“They won’t stop crying.” He laughed as he saw the nurses cleaning them up and putting on their onesies. They both had sparkling green eyes and the most beautiful blond head of hair he’d ever seen. As he leaned back he felt his heart swelling. He’d almost got these two snatched away from them during the kidnapping. Now seeing the twins the reality of all the waiting, and being apart was worth it. As the nurse gently picked up both babies they handed baby boy Devonshire to Dani and baby girl Devonshire to him.
“I guess we need to give you two some names huh? We can call you baby one or baby b forever. So we’ve got some choices but I think we both know which ones we should go with huh?” Jackson asked as he smiled. “Ophelia can you send our parents in. We um want to tell them their names first.”
Lauren walked inside of the large room and smiled brightly seeing Jackson and Dani both sitting in a queen sized bed holding both twins. She could already tell Jackson was in love with his daughter the way he stared at her made her heart burst. Tears started to fall as Dani rocked a little boy in her arms she covered her mouth. She knew the love she felt for a son because it was different. You as a woman had a responsibility to show that boy how to be a man that respect and honors women. She knew the love they felt so deeply that she couldn’t stop crying. Lauren’s hand shook as she walked up to her new grandchildren. Inhaling to calm herself she saw Jackie walking in with an alarming sight. Walter was rolling in Lowell in his wheelchair. She was shocked to see them playing nice. Hell, Jackie and she did earlier so why wouldn’t they? Sometimes strange things happen on days like this.
“Well Lowell, and Jackie I must thank-you for having such a handsome son who helps my grandchildren look like living dolls. They are so perfect and I can’t believe that my daughter is a mother now. Oh baby the wonders and magic that happen now. You are going to truly love every moment and every tear. Do you know what we are naming them because I want to be introduced to these little ones.” Sitting down on the bed. Lauren said smiling at the little boy in her daughter’s hands. She leaned down and kissed Dani as she reached over and touched Jackson’s hand. “Kelsey said you were amazing with my daughter so I have to thank you for continuing to take care of my baby.”
“It’s no problem and I promise you both these three are in safe hands.” The house was being prepped for the move as they spoke. He was ready to build a life with his family. “We have some names picked out actually and we want to go over them with you both. If you all don’t mind I think we want to honor our parents and also honor us. These twins mean the love that Dani has found is more real than ever. I’m marrying this woman and I want to give her the life they all deserve so if you four don’t mind we want to tell you their names before anyone else.” Jackson looked down at his daughter and she slept so peacefully in his arms. She was so beautiful and looked like perfection and his son his little warrior and so strong already. He was stoic like most Fraiser boys but roared like a Devonshire. It was quite the mixture and he felt so at peace.
Lowell looked at Jackson and the pride beamed off of him. His son was so beautiful as this man and no matter what his qualms with Jackson past. Right now he saw the man he always was going to be. He was smart and that was known but Jackson somehow developed his womanizing ways. It never looked right on Jackson nor Rory, unfortunately, Max and Chauncey got the trait of being truly scared of love. Looking over at Jackson with Jackie sitting right there. He wanted to grab her hand and for a moment he did. He was so happy that his son was becoming so at peace and no more bad blood between the families. Today meant the Fraiser’s and Devonshire’s were done with war and he cleared his throat.
“I do appreciate that you two would consider us all in naming the children but this ought to be interesting how are you honoring us?” Lowell asked curiously as he looked at a smirking Dani. “I have to say, my dear, you are radiant and motherhood looks beautiful on you.” Lowell looked over at Walter then reached out to shake his hand in front of Jackson and Dani. “It’s over for them we promise.” Lowell knew that Walter was going to help him now and he had a great chance to stop Zerick and Forbes finally. “Please tell us.”
Dani was still in awe and shock at how perfect they both were from the moment that she finally got to hold them both and they both attached. She almost didn’t want to let the family in to see them and had relented when Ophelia and Kelsey had assured them it was safe. It was like she wanted to keep them in a small room with them for the rest of their lives and never share them without the outside world. She smiled at her mom and Jackie when they came in and then raised an eyebrow at her father rolling Lowell into the room. She and Jackson had agreed he could be there as much as she knew Jackson’s fears about the rumor with Zerick but they had agreed they didn’t know the truth yet and for now, he could be here for this moment with the twins. She saw Jackie approaching the bed and waved to her mother to come over. They had talked for months about names and after the had come had decided on their names even though she would never tell her grown child the reason behind her name. She saw Jackson rocking her softly and waited for a moment seeing them about to pester them again.
“Everyone meet Donovan Laurence Devonshire,” Dani said looking at her mother and father tearing up, not that her grandfather was like the most stellar example when it came to things. The meaning of the name though mattered more to her and Jackson than who it was behind it and she saw her father tearing up and she was pretty sure she had never seen Walter Fraiser ever cry. “He came roaring into this world so it felt fitting that he get the name of a dark-haired chief and well to honor grandpa and you mom.” She said softly handing her mother the baby and watching her face light up with joy.
Walter was floored he was certain as the day was young that his daughter would throw tradition out the window and disown everything associated with him out the window when she became part of Jackson’s life. She would ignore who she was and her roots for the fame and the money that being a Devonshire would entail he was proved wrong twice in one day. First by Lowell and then by her and he couldn’t even find words as he looked at Lauren their eyes meeting briefly they may not have been the best example of parents or good spouses but he felt like they had done something right. He walked behind her leaning over his ex’s shoulder as he looked at his grandson, “Very nice choice and he looks exactly like a Fraiser.” He said hearing Lowell and Jackson chuckle he couldn’t help it. “Ok part Devonshire too.”
Jackie looked at the pride beaming off Jackson and Dani especially Dani as she explained the reasoning behind the name, she had done well in her son. She saw Lauren and Walter beaming over the little boy and she inched to where Jackson was with the sleeping bundle in her granddaughter. She was perfect and reminded her so much of Jackson and Max when they were little they both did. She saw Lowell approaching too and sat at the foot of the bed squeezing Dani’s hand and then reached out to touch her son’s. “And the little princess?”
“Jolene Jacqueline Devonshire better know as JJ by us the girls in our family traditionally take on boys names. Max and now JJ she is every bit of the beauty her name means but she’s tough just like her aunt Max. Something Dani and I wanted to give her. I think that somehow I got lucky and all the stars aligned right because I have my children with the most perfect woman on earth.” He looked over at his father and knew he was proud and felt his heart swell. “Would you like to hold her pops? I mean are you stable enough to hold a baby?” Jackson asked concerned for his daughter and father.
Lowell’s heart sank when his son questioned if he was strong enough to hold his grandchild. Tears burned in his eyes as he nodded. “I won’t drop her believe that.” He stood up and slowly extended his arms as Jackson laid her into his arms. “Hello, Jolene oh your name is so beautiful you remind me of your father and aunt Max. You are so perfect and look so much like them. What a grand world you are about to embark on. Let me tell you all the secrets to getting what you want. Just bat those beautiful bluish-green eyes, my dear. Your father will melt just as I am. I love you already my JJ. You don’t know what inviting me here means Jackson.” He stooped down to give him back JJ in his arms. “Thank-you.”
Jackie saw Jackson take the baby back and then she looked at her son as he placed her granddaughter in her arms. It wasn’t her place to say that Lowell couldn’t be here that was up to them no matter what Lowell had done. She looked down at her granddaughter as she saw Lauren walking next to her and then smiled at her grandson too. Their conversation from earlier floating in her mind, they had to be strong for their children. She would find out the truth about what happened to Katie and then go from there, she could be polite to Lowell for the sake of the little children in the room if that is what it came too.
Dani watched the exchange with Lowell and Jackson, they had talked about letting him be here and as long as everyone got along agreed he was still their grandfather. A rumor didn’t change that for now and she nodded her head at him. “Of course.” She said watching her mother and Jackson’s stare at the twins and she took Jackson’s hand. She saw their parents all starting small talk and then spoke quietly. “As awesome as it is that they’re all being nice would it be possible for us to maybe get a little rest and then have the rest come in. Besides, the nurses did say they need to eat again too.” She said rambling realizing this could be more demanding than working full time for a while.
Bliss and Hunter walked into the room with balloons and roses for Dani. Looking at each of them holding a baby she felt warm all over as she slowly walked toward them. As she looked at Dani who had clearly fallen in love with her son immediately. The feeling between mother and son was something she knew so well. He’d delivered her from her vapid existence and she truly loved Fox for that. As she ran her across Dani’s face. “You are so beautiful and this must be my already heartbreaking nephew Donovan Laurence Devonshire and that’s my beautiful, Jolene Jacqueline Devonshire. I could eat them up guys they are so perfect.” She said looking at Hunter excited to start a family with him as soon as she was done with getting Fox from Dimitri and there lives was stable.
“Hunter they are so cute I can’t wait to have a baby again and do it like you minus the arrest and all that.” She said looking at Dani with a smile. “My brother looks so happy with his precious daughter. Can I take pictures? I’m such a scrapbooker it’s an odd habit but my nanny in Europe used to do it. So I picked it up and haven’t stopped.” Seeing them lean in for the picture she snapped it instantly on her phone. “It’s adorable.”
“Gemelos Bienvenidos, ambos tienen una botella de vino que lleva el nombre de sus cumpleaños 11-18-18. Te daré todo junto con tu impresionante tía Max mientras navegamos por los mares de Europa. Oh, yo, el mundo que planeo mostrarte ya que tu tía Max me está haciendo esperar por mi cuenta.” Sebastián said as he smiled at Max as she looked at him with a smirk. He sometimes hated she spoke Spanish but at the same time it turned him on. She was an incredible woman and the layers were enough to engross him over and over again. “I’m your quasi-uncle Sebastian babies it’s going to take a while for me to be uncle Bas but it’ll happen. She has some issues to get over.” He said in a shady tone looking at Hunter. “However I’m here to show her a new world right along with her.”
Sebastian wrapped his arms around Max and saw her smiling but it was hard to describe the look in her eyes. It was as if she was giving up a piece of her twin. That was something she noticed immediately but it was an overwhelming sense of pride and he knew she was happy for Jackson. The tears in her eyes said it all. It was something magical these twins brought that these families needed.
“Move out of my way!” Maddie pushed through her aunt Max, aunt Bliss, Hunter, and Sebastian. “OMG, they are adorable when you two tell me I’m so putting them on Insta and all other social media. Hey, I’m your cousin Maddie and I’m going to be the cool cousin who totally helps you do some amazing things.” Looking over at Dylan, Braden, and Tamara entering. “Come here Dylan we are so related now for reals.”
Dani moved to open her mouth about pictures the grandparents had their fill, the twins had been fed and then she and Jackson decided they could let in visitors. Honestly, she was excited to see Bliss, Max, Chauncey, Rory, Braden and the rest around the twins now they had waited long enough. But she wanted pictures for now kept in the family. “Can we hold off on social media for a while? Let me and Jackson do it?” Dani asked Maddie not that she didn’t get that Maddie was excited but that was something she wanted to do with Jackson not have teenagers spilling things on the internet.
Max had been so excited while she waited to meet her niece and her nephew she was even a little jealous when the grandparents got to go in first. The moment the nurse came out though she followed Bliss’s lead to rush into the room and looked at her brother holding her niece and walked towards them. “Oh, they’re so perfect. I can’t wait till they are older and they get to spend the day with me and I get to spoil them rotten.” Max said seeing her brother beaming at her and then looking at Dani who she swore was smiling at her or glaring she wasn’t sure. “What can I say soon to be sis they’re Devonshire’s they’ll be spoiled rotten either by me, their grandparents or you and my brother.”
She looked over at Sebastian as she moved to take her niece from her brother’s arms and almost laughed at the resistance he showed. It wasn’t like she would drop her or anything like that she was a pro she had held Maddie when she was little. “You can let go you know I’m not going to drop her. I would never think of doing such a thing would I Chauncey?” Max asked seeing her older brother enter the room.
Chauncey had walked inside the room with Natasha and he was honestly happy for his brother and Dani that everything had gone smoothly for them that they didn’t as a family have a repeat of what happened with Logan. He saw Natasha drop off the expensive flowers on the table along with the generous gift that they had included with the card. Not that the twins needed it but he remembered people had done the same with Maddie. He almost had to laugh at Dani instantly going into protective mode over the new additions to the family. He nodded his head at Jackson when Max insisted she wouldn’t drop his niece.
“Trust me brother this is the hardest part about parenting letting others hold them or help with them. Our sisters though, both of them have done this a time or two remember that. You both did well.” Chauncey said looking at Jackson hand over Jolene to Max as he placed his hand on his shoulder as he looked down at Donovan. He almost teared up remembering how sweet it was when Maddie was born and pushing the bad thoughts that Logan had never got to hold her out of his mind, he felt Max reach for his hand no doubt remembering that for him. “Take the help you can get but when mom and Lauren get to much kick them out.” He managed to say with a smile hoping to ease the tension he was feeling.
Braden had entered the room with Tamara and his eyes fell on his sister holding his nephew and they walked to the bed and he saw Dylan so excited too. Most of the Devonshire’s were fawning over the girl and he would have time to see his niece soon enough. However, for now, he wanted to be amazed at his nephew and his sister for pushing through that grueling ordeal of giving birth, he was proud when Tamara did it and was even prouder of his sister. He leaned over giving her a hug and then brushing the blonde hair of the boy to the side, his father was full of crap little boy Devonshire looked like his daddy. He hoped that Jolene had red hair down the line though call him selfish they needed more redheads in the family other than Dylan.
“He’s pretty amazing not to brag or anything he was the one that gave you the most fits. You’re in for a bumpy ride with that one.” Braden said knowing first hand how boys could be down the line Dylan pushed his buttons constantly and if this little Fraiser ok half Devonshire too was anything like Dylan they were in for a ride. He saw Jackson reluctantly handing over Jolene and then saw Dylan looking at him and he looked at his sister. “So you willing to part with him to let your nephew hold him?” Braden said he saw his sister nod her head and helped Dylan with the baby. “Support his head there you go. See you and Maddie are going to be champs at this.”
Maddie walked over to Dylan and touched little Donovan hand taking him in. He was a dream they were truly a family now. She couldn’t help it before she knew it tears fell. “I just wish mom was here, Selina.” She said looking at Tamara and Braden. She knew her saying that name made them so uncomfortable. Moving her hair behind her ears she looked at Dylan and snapped a picture. “I’ll send it to you. No FB, Insta, SnapChat, uncle Rory’s app nothing.” She said winking at Dani. Stepping back into her dad’s arms she missed when her mother was able to attend events like this.
Jackson saw how his niece was being affected about not having Selina around. Chauncey and none of them wanted to see Maddie upset. It was sad that everything had fallen apart for her in a year. “Hey Selina changed my diapers no way she isn’t invited here and we are all adults okay. She is invited to anything you want you hear me?” He and Maddie always had such a special bond so seeing her smile made him happy. Everyone had to be happy today it was the beginning of their families finally burying the hatchet. Leaning over he kissed his fiance deeply. “I’m so impressed and proud of you. You were like some warrior or something and even though Donovan gave you hell you showed him you were willing to give our stubborn child hell back. I’m pretty sure since he’s my kid we have hell coming.” Rubbing her face he kissed her again.
“Gross isn’t that how you two got the twins dad!” Maddie said looking at them as she grabbed Dylan and started to take more pictures. “So it’s okay for us to say the babies are here? They are healthy is that cool? My followers are going nuts.”
Bliss looked at Maddie and wondered if she’d be like her if she was apart of the internet and social media generation. She had social media but they weren’t important to her as they were to Maddie. “How about you let Simon and Talia do their jobs? You just will have to let your followers go crazy. It’s crazy you have followers when you are a kid yourself.” She said sticking out her tongue teasingly at Maddie. “So welcome to the mommy club and I want to invite you to have a playdate with Fox whenever you want. I want our kids to grow up way closer than I did to your fiance Jackson and my siblings. I want them to be cousins but feel like brothers and sisters.” She looked at Hunter grinning ear to ear. “Hunter and I are going to have another event for you two. A family baby shower no friends and all that. Just something for us all together you know. I want to throw a party for the twins and Fox’s birthday is actually Christmas if you guys didn’t know. So I was thinking let’s do a big party and we welcome all three of them?”
“I’m down I love good party no senorita?” Sebastian grabbed Max and spun her around into his arms. Then kissed her passionately as he smirked at her glowing cheeks. “I was thinking we all should have an adult night huh? Put the bambinos up and we dress to our nines and take on the world. All of us no?” He said looking at Dani. “Ms. Fraiser you need a night to be the woman Jackson fell in love with. I want to party and drink great wine and be with all of you. You all have welcomed me so wonderfully and I want to repay it no? Let me host a night also matter fact Hunter and I can do your bachelor party no? Chauncey, Rory, Hunter, Mason, and all of your other friends we can do a big night or something come on. We all talking about babies but let’s celebrate. We have huge parties for kids in my families but later that night we party to celebrate the life that is come into the world.”
Bliss looked at them and smiled. “You know I think that’s an amazing idea! We can leave the kids at the mansion and go out. Wouldn’t that be nice? We’ve all never done that. Come on Jamal owns Vertigo now we can have a ball. Hell, we can have him shut down that night for us. Come on guys what do you say? Once per month no matter what we all get together and enjoy each other company.”
“As long as Zerick isn’t invited then I’m in,” Natasha said leaning against the wall. “I would love to mingle with the family a little more. I mean I am marrying into the family. Those babies are beautiful and I would love to get to know you all.” She looked at Chauncey who looked annoyed she was even speaking her opinion. She told him that he didn’t get a vote. “I think I want to get more invested seeing you all together is jarring to me. I mean Sebastian seems like more of the family than I. So that tells me that I’ve been what do you call it? Antisocial?” Natasha said reaching out to Jackson and Dani. “When you two are the reason I’m here with Chauncey and Maddie.”
“Don’t say me, you’re here with him.” Maddie spat quickly.
Bliss saw Max shooting Maddie a death stare which made her snicker. She’d been friends with Natasha since they were younger. So she knew how opinionated and often times crass she was. “Of course you are invited.” She felt Maddie death stare on her. “What!” She exclaimed looking at them all as they laughed at her. “I just want peace okay.”
Tamara looked at Braden and smiled at the Devonshires planning. “We will be in attendance. Jackson and I have seen each other in the NA group. I think we have quite the repore.” She saw Dani and Braden looking shocked. “It’s our choice to reveal anything about NA. So we are choosing to reveal that he asks me lot’s of parenting questions as an ex-addict. You’re doing amazing already told you nothing to fear.” Tamara winked at him.
Jackson playfully caught the wink and slammed his fist to his heart. “Thank-you.” He looked over at Dani shock and wonder. “She’s really nice what?”
Dani was a little shocked at the NA reveal with Tamara and Jackson but she supposed it was good to have someone in his corner and out of it too. Her eyes lit up when she saw Rory enter the room and then her eyes darted to Yasmine and the other girl. Had they been fighting? She wanted to say something only she stopped when the door opened and she saw Greer in the waiting room and she rolled her eyes as Brock came in.
Brock had waited till at least some of them filed out before he looked at Greer who had been oddly polite the entire time at the hospital. He hoped that continued he did really like her so far, she was different than other women and was outside his box. His aunt and Braden had cast her some pretty harsh glances not to mention Chauncey in the waiting room. When the nurses come out to say that he could go see his cousin though he took the opportunity and looked at his sister as he entered. “Don’t get her riled about Greer alright?” Brock said as he smiled at Kelsey before entering the room and seeing the twins with their aunts. “I’m very happy for you and Jackson and I think they’re going to fit perfectly in that nursery you painstakingly made me work nights on the last few weeks.”
Kelsey looked at Dani and bit her bottom lip. What in the hell is she doing here? I asked you that in the car and you just ignored me? I mean she’s despicable and absolutely deplorable. Well that was what she wanted to say but instead she looked at Brock and smiled. Dani was going to ask because unfortunately for Greer once her cousin got her fangs into someone she wouldn’t let go. You know she was like a dog who was eating a bone and wouldn’t let go. “I think we all put in work on that nursery.”
“Trust me, Maddie, they didn’t just kiss to make those babies,” Rory said seeing Chauncey’s mouth drop open as he leaned in and gave Jackson a hug and then looked at his niece and nephew. Maddie was a teen and he hoped his older brother was going to have that talk with her about how babies came to be, he looked around the room between Aspen and Yasmine this was way more awkward than he thought it would be. “So how many days are they planning on keeping you guys here? Maybe we could all pitch in with the move to help you guys out?”
Jackson paused as he looked at Rory, Maddie, Chauncey, and Dylan. The teens had this lost shocked look on his face. He saw Dani’s cheeks grow rosy red at the thought of her nephew knowing that she was getting it on with him. “Rory!” He saw Aspen curl up under him and Yasmine’s face was clearly showed her irritation. “Um, I guess this would be an awkward time to tell Rory and Yasmine we’ve chosen you two to be our children Godparents.” Looking over at Aspen clearly pissed face he looked over at Donovan and took his son swapping with Dani. “So what do you two say?”
“Absolutely. I am so here for becoming apart of these two babies lives. Considering I was around them when they were peanuts in my girl Dani’s belly. I would be honored to be the Godmother.”
Greer paced back and forth not liking being on the outside of this entire grand event. Wow, two babies were born did it have to be a national holiday. As she fluffed her hair she smirked at Khalil sitting on the outside and then when Zerick walked up she leaned against the wall. “The unwanted club is here.” She purred to Khalil and Zerick. “How are you both?” She asked softly as she folded her arms. “I was on a date and now I’m at the hospital pissed that I have to see the wonder twins in full effect.” She winked at Khalil who had the same annoyed expression on his face. Then she looked at Zerick. “Ex-husband how have I missed thee.”
Khalil wanted to leave this goddamned hospital and Rory behind him and Yasmine in the rearview mirror and then he saw the family clapping and Rory and Yasmine’s exchange looks. Great, he was never going to get rid of the douchebag now he had a feeling. He raised his eyes at the woman outside the door, he knew of her not who she was though. “I’m wanting to get out of here and go home no offense to ya’ll but this is not for me or Yas. It’s just two babies for heaven’s sake.” He said annoyed more at Rory than he was over the actual twins being born.
“Hello, ex-wife I am surprised you aren’t in there making a scene between my brother and a man below your standards. Then again you could certainly up the ante with slumming it with the certainly not rich construction worker, firefighter. Anything other than everyone drooling.” Zerick said partly teasing her and partly speaking the truth. Having Greer inside at the moment would certainly be more entertaining than them all standing outside the room. “Me I’m fine getting what is due to me and you my dear how are you? Watching Chauncey marry that bitch Natasha must really burn you doesn’t it especially knowing he was using you to get her in Egypt last year?”
Greer rolled her eyes at Zerick and smirked at Khalil. He was a mood honestly his face wasn’t having it at all. They had made these babies seem like the second coming of Christ. She narrowed her eyes when he brought up Natasha and she shook her head. “Honestly she can have him. I’ve had two Devonshire’s and I must say they both were wonderful but how many times is a girl going to dip in that genetic pool? Slumming it? Isn’t that funny because rumor has it you’ve been all over some local barista? So I guess we both love to be below your standards. You aren’t the only one who keeps up.” Shaking her head she looked at Zerick. Seeing that devilish smile she approached him. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in there. God to think I was going to trap that bastard with a baby. They disgust me hell hospitals disgust me. Either way, ex-husband I’ve missed you.” Walking up she hugged him. “Khalil right? You are some sports star or something like that. Either way.” Greer walked to a tray with three empty champagne flutes. She grabbed the bottle of sparkling wine she poured them all a glass. Then handed each of them a glass.
“Toast to the Devonshire babies coming healthy and alive. But most of all toast to the outsiders who make Atlas Falls so much more interesting.” Turning around she saw Rory and Yasmine taking pictures with Jackson and Dani. “Play dirty kid. Don’t let him take her if you want to keep her play as dirty as possible.”
Rory had eventually dropped Aspen off with her father to go home explaining that he had an errand to run for his mother. The hospital was quiet now most of the family had gone home while his brother and Dani obviously had to stay a few days till the twins were released. He had been walking around the last half hour looking for Zerick and finally had spotted him about ready to sneak out the back way of the elevators on the south side.
“Zerick wait,” Rory called out stepping in front of him and the elevator as it finally hit the floor they were on.
Zerick had had enough of the gooey lovefest of his brothers and sisters, not that the babies weren’t cute they were adorable and even he had to admit that. It was enough though for him today being around them, being the outside with no acknowledgment of what Lowell had done. So instead he had wandered the hospital for a bit and made a call to the facility with his mother, she had accepted the call it was a good day. They talked for a bit about the weather and how he was doing and when she mentioned the past however it had all gone downhill from there. She had one of her episodes and the therapist had taken over the call. He understood and then decided to head home to a bottle of scotch sneaking out the back way. Instead, he heard his younger brother’s irritating voice.
“What do you want?” Zerick sneered back at him looking past him to the open doors.
“Can you drop the fucking attitude with me. I’ve been nothing but nice to you since you arrived and made your grand statement. You’ve uprooted my entire family, accused my dad of raping my aunt and unlike my siblings I’ve been nothing but cordial to you.” Rory said his voice rising just a hair and he swore he saw a fraction of maybe regret for his actions on Zerick’s face. He placed his body in front of him making sure that elevator dinged and retreated down before he spoke again. “I need your help. Before you say no hear me out. You’ve let Forbes fill your head since you were a kid, you’re a smart guy. I haven’t ever met my aunt Katie your mom but I feel for her. My mother sure as hell does too. My dad, our dad maybe is sick and for some reason doesn’t want to dig into the past. Don’t you want to know the truth, the real truth?”
Zerick looked at him not giving away his own doubts about Forbes story to the young man in front of him. He was angry at Lowell and had been throwing that anger around on all his children and perhaps that was a bit misguided. When Rory had mentioned his mother he softened a bit and then he saw the genuine concern about her in his eyes. It was the same concern that Jackie had shown the other day when he had interrupted her meeting at the hospital for the foundation. He shrugged his shoulders at the suggestion about if he wanted the truth. Did he, of course, would it change them all to believe him if they did know the truth?
“Listen you can come with me right now and then we’ll know. My mother has made arrangements it will take a whole five fucking minutes of your time maybe ten. My father may not want to know or face the past. But you deserve to know, my mother deserves to know, hell my siblings and I deserve to know if the man we have all looked up to is capable of what you say he is. There is only one way to do that you and I walk down and take a DNA test no one else has to know about it in the family, we compare it to a sample of my dad.” Rory said he saw Zerick thinking about it and waiting a moment before he knew he had to push him to want to take the test. “You want to let Forbes control this narrative and use you, go home and sulk. You want to own your claim and speak your truth and be a man. You will get on this elevator with me and go down and run the test.” He finished pushing the button for the first floor so they could go met Dr. Marsh.
Zerick looked at him and had to admire the fight he showed for his family, for his mother and he was right Forbes never had to know that he had the test done. It would answer all the questions he had and he would finally be taken seriously. He was a little shocked that his aunt had actually arranged the test behind Lowell’s back, it meant that she even believed or at least thought it could be true. He saw Rory get on the elevator and didn’t know why but he took a few steps following him on. He watched in silence as the doors closed and they made their way down the floors, when they opened he followed Rory down a few corridors to a private room. The man inside was portly and he assumed this was the man who would run the test.
“Dr. Marsh, Rory Devonshire my mother told me to give you this,” Rory said as he took the comb out of his pocket that was inside the bag and handed it to the man in front of him.
“I would assume you are Mr. Westwood?” The man said taking the bag and labeling the two vials turning with a swab to them both as he saw the man nod. “This will take just a few moments then open your mouth. You can let your mother know I will expedite the results with complete privacy a few weeks at most for them to come back.”