2×12 “A Well Served Dish of Revenge”

Episode 2×12 “A Well Served Dish Of Revenge”
Theme Song: Normani- Waves
Guest Starring: Brooke Shields as Blythe Sinclair
Written by:
Chris Coleman and Kelly Zollo


Charles Hessington stood in front of the media declaring his plans on running again and retiring in the next four years. It was brave to admit you were past your prime and that was something all his peers were facing. Steven dead, Harvey gone, Lowell was dying, and he was still here. Forbes sat looking at himself in the mirror as the reflection of the man staring back at him still had years. Years to finally beat the man that had haunted him over and over again. It hurt him to know that Lowell wouldn’t be around to see him conquer his kingdom but if rumors were true he’d get the last laugh. He didn’t know if he believed it but Lowell dying could mean he’d finally be rid of him by fate. Destiny had a funny way of showing that it had the last word in any conversation. Walking to the bar he looked at the morning news and he felt the need to drink. A man’s mortality is the one thing that they couldn’t beat. Pouring himself a drink he walked through his house he saw Philip with his physical therapist in the gym, and Belle was in the indoor pool. He missed Cassie being in the house he needed as many voices as possible. Audrey always haunted him here, he could smell her perfume in the hallways always. He’d dealt with two women that were incomparable Audrey and his current wife Angelica. One because he was haunted that she never loved him and one because he knew how dangerous she truly is.

As he walked to his room Forbes began his morning ritual of showering, shaving, and getting dressed. Once done he sprayed on a thick cologne his father taught him years ago a man should be smelled before seen. Walking down the stairs he heard a loud crashing sound as he saw her standing there looking furious. This is why he was determined to have Belle keep a low profile but she couldn’t. She slammed his Ming Dynasty vase which cost more than that garish jewelry she wore. Tess stood before his butler Nigel who looked mortified. “Don’t worry Nigel, she’ll replace that. She is a fan of high art so I assume she has something of relevance to replace that most valued piece of mine.” As he walked down the spiraling staircase he stopped at the last step. “Tess what can I do for you? I mean I know you have your demons but coming to my home to destroy priceless artwork is a little beneath you after all you are Lowell’s newest oldest plaything aren’t you? Now that his marriage is on the skids.”

Tess unbuttoned her Burberry petticoat trenchcoat never removing her destructive glare at Forbes. This could ruin their entire scheme because he was being greedy. She wasn’t planning on bringing Belle to Atlas Falls until at least Valentine’s Day to finally admit her to Lowell. By that point then they could be in good standing. Secrets could destroy everything she was building with Lowell. Not only that she had her shot. After almost thirty years of being second to Jackie, she had her shot to be with him. How could she just let that go? How could she not take this opportunity to finally see herself as Ms. Devonshire? She wanted to name and all the power that came with being Lowell’s wife. She deserved it and when she brought Belle into town she was going to stop Zerick claims. Tess had her own plans but this had changed everything thus Pierre returning to Atlas Falls was needed and she was going to see him soon. They all had put so much into grooming Zerick and even if he didn’t know that she’d invested into him. Now it was time to reap the rewards. Kathleen was her friend so long ago and now she was going to repair everything when she finally got what she wanted. She was going to give Katie peace and tear apart Jackie and Lowell. Then marry him dying or not she would be his wife.

“You’ve left me blind about my own child being in town?” Tess said stepping over pieces of glass and throwing her trench coat at Nigel. “I’ve had enough of you going off course with our plan. I refuse to sit back and let you have my child in town and not even let me know. How dare you Forbes, how dare you!” Tess immediately walked to Forbes and slapped him. Seeing that smirk remain she slapped him again and this time she saw he was pissed. Good, she wanted him to feel her wrath because who did he think he was? “You have some balls Forbes Montgomery! We crafted a scheme years ago to make sure we all got what we wanted. Now you are moving very fast and off-kilter changing as you see forth. No, that won’t do with me and if you ever and I mean ever pull one of my girls into this mess without my knowledge then I’ll destroy you. I unspool every sin you have spun in your web of treachery. You know which ones I’m talking about.” Tess declared defiantly.

Forbes rubbed his stinging cheek and knew that Tess was a livewire and furious which he expected but hearing her threaten him pissed him off. “Now why would you do that? Then wouldn’t you lose everything because we all know what those diaries truly said? We all know who would be implicated in so much which is you. Tampering with evidence, manipulating a witness, and so on. All the manipulation you did to your dear friend Katie fragile mental psyche don’t you know that it all could lead you down a 4×4 cell and no couture. That should frighten you more than anything else.” He declared as he looked at her. “I mean Belle does know now and the ugly part of breaking the news to her is done for you. You can come in and play super-mommy now. The mother that she always deserved the globetrotting multiple married professional mistress of Lowell Devonshire.” He snarled at her as he gulped down his drink.  Walking toward the pool he knew that Tess was anxious to see Belle.

“This coming from the Susan Lucci of the business world? You could never get the gold now can you?” Tess snapped back at him furiously as she started walking through Forbes mansion decorated in Asian artwork she became enraged even more so. Who did he think she was? More and more every day she wanted to know how his face would look when she destroyed his goals and plans. “Where is she?” She said as she walked through glass double doors as saw Belle stepping out the pool and a woman helping her into a silk robe. “Isabelle!” She screamed seeing her daughter from across the room and her heart swelled as she looked at her. She looked so beautiful as she charged to her daughter rushing across the pool.

Belle was doing her laps in the pool and Mai-Ling her personal butler was waiting when she stepped out of the pool she heard a frantic voice scream her name. When she looked up she saw her Godmother, no that was her real mother running to her. When her mother reached her the hug was so intense she couldn’t breathe. “I’m fine Godmother or should I say, mother? Which one would you prefer?” Belle said bitterly as she stepped back looking at Tess’s eyes watering up with tears. Her own refusing to fill because she was so angry at her. “All those years you visited me and you knew I wasn’t normal! I felt like I never belonged there! I wasn’t Jane’s and Christopher’s child I was yours and Lowell Devonshire. I can’t believe you just lied to me for all those years. You are not my mother you are a monster. A monster that kept me away from my family my entire life! How could you just leave me?”

Tess pulled back from Belle seeing her clearly and completely hurt, confused and broken. She knew she’d have to give it time but she also knew she could smooth some of the pain over. Her side of the story wasn’t the first she heard but it could be the one she understood and believed. “Listen to me. I had to give you away because I was afraid that the same thing would happen to you. It happened to Bliss to be ostracized by your own blood. For years Jackie knew about her and kept her away from the family. I’m getting very close to Lowell again and I want to tell him all about the child we made not in secret but out of our last night of love. You are so very special and I just couldn’t raise a baby at that point. I was going through my second divorce and Bliss was out of control. She was so angry because she never had a stable home. So I sent her away and I knew it wasn’t an easy choice to have but I knew you’d have a stable life with my cousin who could provide you the love and attention you deserved. Sometimes as women we are so wrapped up in a man we don’t see the pain that we are giving to our own children. That happened to me I was so enamored with Lowell that I couldn’t get myself together and it wasn’t your fault. I’m here now Isabelle and if you allow me I will be your mother and so much more. I love you, my beloved child. My darling beautiful Belle.”

Tess was hurt that she didn’t get to tell Belle herself or wasn’t even informed that the conversation was happening. Somehow she knew that Forbes had pushed Christopher and Jane hand. Turning her neck to see Forbes standing over her looking at their reunion.

Belle stood shaking she’d never been so furious at someone but so intrigued all at the same time. Here was this stunning woman standing before her and her tears were real. She shook in her mother’s arms. “You were my mummy this entire time and I didn’t know! I never knew you were my mummy! I always thought I was different and I was. I wasn’t my parents daughter for years and you knew. You knew through every moment that I told you I felt out of place with Jane and Christopher.” Belle said as her eyes started to pool with tears. “You really are my mummy.”

“Of course my love I’m your mother. Belle, you must get dressed and pack all of your things. You are not to stay here a moment longer in Sun Tzu home trust we aren’t learning the art of war. You were bred a warrior now go get dressed send this servant to get your belongs together.” Tess said looking at the older Asian woman scurry off with a elegant speed. “Please have all the maids prepare my daughters things.” Pushing her daughter along to get her property she would handle the rest. Watching Belle stick her tongue out at Forbes made her sneer a smile. Then her face got deathly serious. “We must talk you’ve made my job a hundred times harder. I don’t know if Lowell will be able to forgive this. She was what I was supposed to bring down as the last child of the great Lowell Devonshire. His ego will be crushed and you know it. You’re trying to kill him and I’m trying to save what we have planned. Yo’ve gone mad to bring my child into this fray. This was supposed to be over before she ever came to Atlas Falls.”

“You don’t get to play concerned mummy now, Tess.” Forbes said opening the glass door for her. Mocking Belle’s accent when he said mommy. “I have to ask if you thought for her one second when you hid her away as a convenient weapon to use against Lowell and Jackie when their marriage was at its most fragile. Please play coy with someone else. That girl is a means to the end, my dear she’s your victory lap against Jackie in a insane feud. She won him but a spoiled petulant old bitter woman can’t see that. You take your eyes off the prize and I’ll slit your throat. Do you understand? This is my plan and my path to DGI, I have worked to groom Zerick into my killer. He’s slicing and destroying DGI interview by interview. I am going to pick the bare bones of that company and if you believe you get that happy fantasy ending with Lowell then you’re a fool. Before that man expires he’ll see me on top do you understand?” Forbes declared defiantly as he looked at Tess who had pure hate behind her eyes. He instinctively grabbed her hand which was coming for his face. “No not three times Ms. Blisston. I will expose you and leave you miserable do you get it?”

Tess wanted to kill him where he stood. “You are a mad tyrant who blows hard but always fails to make it. You have two seconds to remove your hands from my body.” She hissed at him yanking her arm to freedom. “Out of all the ghouls I’ve met you are truly a demon. I have fought bigger and stronger men. I watched my daughter get dragged by a man for status and fame. It’s something that haunts me but I won’t let Dimitri or anyone else hurt my girls. I’ll kill you before you ever see me coming so if you want to dance with the devil, then so be it. Remember one thing those two girls are the end all for me! My daughters who I have let down over and over again Forbes. No not this time so this is it! You’ve crossed me one too many times.” Walking into the foyer she saw maids and butlers coming down the staircase with Louis Vuitton travel bags. She wondered where Belle was it was time to get away from him. Turning she saw Philip rolling into the foyer.

“Is our house-brat leaving? Someone, please tell me it isn’t so.” Philip said looking at his father.

“Apparently so, Tess would like to play a mother now but it doesn’t matter her even being here throws more gas on the Devonshire fire. Another long lost child why isn’t that convenient Philip? I mean this does prove that he’s a womanizing monster now, doesn’t it? Another affair baby tsk tsk. This will further demolish Lowell’s already doomed image. What will he do?” Forbes said sarcastically as he looked at his son who was amused. “It just seems this indiscretion during them me too movement will have major ramifications against our beloved Lowell. I’m loving this and now since his history of being nothing but a dog is so believable everyone believes what they want. You Tess know all about that now don’t you? You did get those diaries forged.”

Tess froze seeing he didn’t have a issue talking in front of Philip. “Nor did you have a problem poisoning a child’s mind against their family did you? We are done from here on out Forbes it’s me against the world. If you think you can bully and threaten me? Well, you have another thing coming because I’d rather unspool your entire plan before you slit my pretty throat. I want nothing to do with you and if you speak a word of our connection I’ll tell Jackson, Rory, or even better Chauncey everything. I have nothing to lose but Lowell and trust me you won’t open your mouth too much to lose. So we are at a draw.”

“Two generations of Devonshire men how was that for you Tess?” Philip said snidely.

As badly as he hated to admit it she was right. If she opened her mouth his entire scheme would be unraveled and he knew one thing he couldn’t afford that now. Slowly walking toward her. “Mai-Ling please get Ms. Blisston coat she’s leaving. Tess, you do know I funded your extravagant lifestyle? That before your parents were drooling at some nursing home I was the one who gave you money? Your lavish life wasn’t cheap but I will get my pound of flesh. I will get it or I’ll burn your life to the ground. We both have secrets and I suggest you keep your pretty mouth shut. Or I’ll shut it for you.” Forbes’ eyes went dark as the menace slither out of his mouth.

“Isabelle!” Tess screamed as she looked at Philip. “Little man in a little chair it must feel awful to be you.” She said with enough shade in her voice that it left him looking pissed. “As Montgomery’s do all your children know that your great love is hate? She never loved them and truly wanted Devonshire babies? That just has to sting? Or even worse that Audrey never loved you? That she bore you and Cassandra out of pure necessity? Philip, you can say whatever you want about me but remember affair or not my daughters were conceived and born into love. Can you say the same?”

Forbes charged at Tess as his staff grabbed him. “You bitch how dare you to insinuate that!”

“Well, it doesn’t feel good now does it. To be labeled a rapist but I saw how much Audrey detested your father you truly should be wondering where this sick plan came from? A little bit of history in every con.” Tess said as Belle appeared at the top of the staircase. “Come hurry we are leaving this dark mausoleum of hate. Trust me you won’t ever have to worry about seeing your Godfather I forbid it.” Tess snapped at Belle who was looking confused. “Say your goodbyes.”

Belle had been standing at the steps for the past five minutes listening to the hate being spewed between her mother and her Godfather. When she heard something about forged diaries and her mother was broke? Not only that she heard what they were insinuating? Was it about Zerick the other man claiming to be a Devonshire? Was he not? What did that have to do with forged diaries? She had so many questions but she’d ask them when the time was right. She felt like they were about to kill each other. Stepping in the middle she looked at Forbes and her mummy. “Mother, unfortunately for you I’m an adult barely now and I refuse to be told who I can associate with. Iwant to tell you Forbes thank-you because I don’t believe I’d know who I am if it wasn’t for you. Thank-you Godfather and I will never forget the time I spent in this house because I believe that you were steering me into a direction, I may have not wanted to go in.” Belle said looking at him up and down. “You are slick and this was a learning lesson to stay with someone as sinister as you truly are from what I heard. How could you threaten her?”

Belle grabbed her last bag from Mai-Ling. “Thank-you Mai and I’ll miss you. Unfortunately, Philip, I won’t miss you but I’m sure I’ll see you around the hospital. I just got word that they’re accepting me in the hospitals patient liason. Come on mother I think that we should leave, it’s becoming a little murderous in here.”

“Touche,” Tess said grabbing her daughter’s hand as they left Greystone Manor. She looked at Belle. “Come on we have a lot to talk about. I have to couch you, there is no way I’m losing your father now that I just got him.”

“Tell me what I have to do mummy.” Belle said looking at Tess shocked expression. “I don’t need coaching just tell me what I have to do.”


Dani was dreaming about vacation with Jackson their honeymoon and more when she heard the faint cries come over the baby monitor and rolled over. The house was beautiful spacious with enough room for them to grow and now that they had settled into being home for a week almost two, normalcy was starting to set in. Which included late night feedings and early morning ones, she had pumped earlier they were greedy and always hungry and she was so grateful that Jackson was here and not back at work. She got out of bed not even bothering to look at the clock as the cry came again, she threw on the robe over her sweatpants and nursing tank before making her way to the bathroom to splash some water on her face. The hardwoods of the master bedroom cold against the winter air as she slipped on some slippers. The crying had stopped and she made her way out the door she looked down the staircase seeing her mom holding Donovan while Jackie warmed up a bottle in the machine. It was early morning and she walked down the stairs looking at them both.

“I could have got him.” Dani said reaching over and placing a kiss on his head as she saw her mother wave her off and she had to laugh. She was very grateful that both her mom and Jackie were staying with them for now in the extra two guest rooms while they worked their way through adjusting. They helped with caring for the twins, letting her and Jackson rest as much as they could. She saw Jackie pull the bottle out and test it on her wrist before handing it to her mom. It was actually nice to see her mom and Jackie getting along her mom needed friends after the divorce and it was one less thing she and Jackson had to worry about if they got along. “It’s early I could have got him beside where is Jackson and my little angel girl?” Jolene slept much better than her baby brother and they had come to call her the angel.

Jackie looked at Dani remembering that phase all to well the unkempt messy phase were you weren’t sure if you had slept enough or when the last time you showered was. Her own mother and Katie had both helped out with each of her children, as did Lowell’s mother. This gave her ample bonding time with the twins compared to their aunts and their uncles and it allowed her to help ease her son and Dani into navigating a new part of their relationship. She also got to do that with Lauren who over the last little bit she had realized was a friend that she dearly missed. Instead of raising sons and daughters together they both had agreed this was much more special. Children could often throw a wrench on a couple when they were both working and raising them, a couple could drift apart feel the strain and the pressure and that let to mistakes. She was bound and determined that her son and soon to be daughter in law wouldn’t become her and Lowell in that regard and she hoped Lauren felt the same. For now until they flew to visit Katie together they were needed here and she knew eventually Dani and her son would want their own space to be together and focus as a unit of four instead of six.

“Nonsense that is what your mother and I are here for? You and Jackson were up most of the night with them and we love spending time with mister demanding handsome don’t we? We are happy to help you need your rest, your body is working and adjusting that includes resting.” Jackie said hoping that Lauren and her could ease Dani’s mind it was alright to ask for help and take it when you were a brand new parent even an old one. There was nothing that she or Jackson should feel guilty for and she knew how that felt first hand and how she struggled with it. “Your mother and I have both been through this it just takes time Dani they’ll be sleeping through the night together before you know it. I think I heard Jackson get up with JJ but he hasn’t come down yet, little sister slept through brother’s fit.”

“He’s so demanding. Where does he get that from? Was Max or Jackson like that?” She laughed looking at Jackie. “I mean he demands attention which is absolutely darling my grandson the showstopper.” She giggled as she kissed his small belly blowing kisses on his belly as she finished changing him. “His smile is incredible it’s amazing he’s already grinning and he looks so much like Jackson.” Lauren looked over at Jackie was standing to her right. They’d been together most of the past week and half gossiping and laughing. It was as if she didn’t stop being friends all they were missing was Gloria. However knowing what Gloria did how could she miss her? “She’s right you know we are here because we want you to get the rest. I don’t want you to become wrapped up in these two. You deserve to have a few hours to yourself a day baby. Go take a bath and relax you’ve pumped we have bottles. Go see your man because he looks like he got as much sleep as you. We have him.”

Jackson rocked back and forth in the rocking chair as he continued to read Grimms’ Fairy Tales to JJ. It was Max and his favorite book that his father used to read to them. As he looked up he saw Dani standing there watching him rocking a very sleepy JJ. She was so peaceful compared to Donovan which was funny. His mother used to say he was relaxed and Max was high demand. Guess it was flipped which he found to be very funny. As he placed down JJ in her crib he had been up since four. He noticed that was when JJ would awake and he didn’t want her to be alone or wake up crying. As he walked over to her he moved some hair away from her face. “You know you look absolutely stunning. We gotta start taking better care of ourselves though. I feel like I haven’t been sleeping at all and you haven’t been either. I just feel like we are sleeping two hours and we’ve been all babies. We need to have mommy and daddy time. Daddy really is ready to taste mommy.” He kissed her neck as he heard JJ whimpering about to start crying. She wouldn’t sleep unless she was in someone arms. “We are going to take time for ourselves okay?”

He took Dani hand and stood over JJ crib and they smiled when she giggled looking at them. “She knew we were there. God these kids are a trip.” Jackson turned and looked at her. “God I’m sleepy and you think mommy and daddy just want to stay up all night. But no kiddos you two have to start sleeping.” Jackson kissed her hand. “I missed you and we’ve been at the same house at the same time. Are you feeling okay?”

Dani had realized arguing with them wasn’t worth it and they did have good points and she watched them coo over her son and decided to walk back up the stairs to the nursery. She had been ragged since coming home from the hospital, all her attention and Jackson’s were on the twins. Who were very much so night and day her daughter for now was sweet and more docile while her son was certainly living up to his name in every way and though she lacked sleep she wouldn’t trade it for anything. Seeing Jackson in the nursery reading to JJ she stood quietly watching the two of them he was such a good father. She had never doubted it before but seeing him in action up for feedings with her, changing diapers and being so hands on she knew not everyone was so lucky. She watched him with a smile as he placed her in the crib and called her stunning. She had some weight to lose from the birth and she was pretty sure neither of them had a good night’s sleep since coming home. Sleep a few hours, up to care for the twins they hadn’t taken anytime for them and she felt her cheeks flush at the mention of him wanting to taste her, even sore and on restriction for a few more weeks he still knew how to make her blush

“Your daddy still has a dirty mind too bad he knows he has to wait a few more weeks. Even if mommy desperately wants to taste daddy too. Hopefully he locked that room from your nana’s.” She managed to say when he kissed her neck mentally praying their mother’s weren’t eavesdropping how weird would that be and her eyes scanned the room resting on the baby monitor which was turned off, thank god. She walked with him to the crib seeing her daughter waking up and couldn’t help the smile that came out her other little bundle of joy and she lifted her out of the crib lowering the strap to let her nurse and saw Jackson staring at her almost in awe and pure lust at her in a new way. She moved to the rocking chair while she did her free hand grabbing his. “All kidding aside I know we need time for us too mom and your mom say it’ll get better in a few weeks, much more of a regular schedule. I think we could do alright with that it’s Donovan he never sleeps while she does. You’re amazing though helping out when you can. I’m doing okay just tired like you are the rest is healing fine I promise. Have you talked to Merci about the whole timeline of the wedding. They came early and I haven’t even had time to talk to her about any of it.

“Yeah she actually suggested we move the wedding up to New Years since the babies are here and that was our original date. I think that would be amazing because honestly I can’t wait to be your husband Dani. You are the air I breathe right now and my children are little miracles and I truly believe my life wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for you stepping into it. Now I know that I’ve made some horrible decisions but marrying you as soon as possible isn’t one of them. Dani we would have forty days but why wouldn’t we do it? A fresh start, our children at our wedding, and everyone there for us. I think it’s perfect and her suggestion that we have it at the mansion and not Hotel LaGordia. I think that’s a good idea we’d have more room and the mansion could be decorated amazing we’d have the tents in the back and the veranda.” He looked at her body she had more hips but she was still slender. Dani kept saying she had to lose weight but she was perfect to him. Seeing her give birth made him feel like it was nothing this woman couldn’t do.

“So shall we get married on New Years or Valentine’s Day? I personally think bringing in a new year with you as my bride man. That’s perfect and a night time wedding who does that but us? Huh? We’ve always played to the beat of our own drum why not? This is something different and our children will hear about it. You know? This is something that I want to do and if you like the idea well once the clock strike midnight you’ll be my wife. I think it’s cool actually and we should be the cool parents versus the traditionalist that is my older brother. He’s been pretty nice lately huh? Him coming over last week and reading to the kids man I was like wow you know? He really loves Donovan but that’s because Chauncey has always had a vision of what it would be like to have son. He wants a heir and Maddie is a heir but she isn’t a boy and as revolutionary as our family is, Chauncey still wants a son.”

Dani let JJ nurse as she listened to Jackson talk at least he was on top of wedding stuff and handling everything at work. She saw their daughter drifting off to sleep and thanked everything for five minutes of silence and gently stopped nursing her letting JJ sleep in her arms for a bit. “I wasn’t to keen on the idea of the hotel from the beginning if you want me to be honest with you, everyone kept suggesting it and I just went along with it because I thought you wanted that too. Not to mention we haven’t really had time to talk about the wedding before they were born we were kinda busy building the house, preparing for them to come and working. The mansion is nicer and I know your mom has been asking why we don’t have it there since the engagement. We could easily have Merci send out an updated invite or notice to the guests if we want to change it to that.” She said getting up from the rocker and placing JJ back in the crib and then she felt like she was waiting with baited breath while her daughter slept. Silence overcame the room as she turned the monitor on low.

“I don’t think having a Valentine’s day wedding is something I want either we waited a long time already it already feels weird that I don’t have your last name while our kids do. Nighttime at the mansion with all those pretty christmas lights and we could already use the decor as well. I love you I want to marry you and if you want to do it then let’s do it.” She said quietly hoping he didn’t think she was going to become bridezilla she had gotten to control a lot with the twins with him but her own wedding it felt like it was becoming more and more about what everyone else thought they wanted. She had herself to blame for that and she hated to have Merci change all the plans last minute but how many times did you get married? When he brought up Chauncey coming over she almost had to snort and refrained herself that was a new development for sure. “I certainly wasn’t expecting him to come over and read to them but it was a sweet gesture even though I’m still watching him like a hawk. As for him wanting a son think of it like this you beat him to the punch on that.” Dani said looking at him and leaning up to kiss him biting slightly as she pulled back this could be fun making him wait for it a little while longer. “Maybe you just have the better male swimmers in the family.”

He smiled when Dani said that she was watching Chauncey like a hawk. She was always protective over him concerning Chauncey but he felt they were turning a new dial and station. As he cracked his knuckles and snorted when she said he had bad better swimmers. Pulling out his phone he started texting as he talking to her. “A nighttime wedding it is. Something unique to us you know. I don’t want this wedding to be like a big Devonshire event. I want this to be a big Jackson and Dani event. It isn’t about my last name that night it’s about you taking my name and us finally getting our happy ending. As long as you are happy with the date and sent.” Jackson wrapped his arms around her waist as he walked with her down the stairs to see his mom and Lauren laughing brightly with Donovan. He looked at them and shook his head. “They are going to spoil him rotten God help us. Mom put him down. If He cries we will let him.” Jackie and Lauren shot daggers at him and he knew he lost this battle.

“Alright mom but when he’s spoiled I’m sending him to the mansion with you and dad.” It came out so easily he wasn’t sure how his parents were truly doing. Looking at his mother’s expression he knew for certain that they weren’t in a good place. Not to mention Tess was slinking around his father becoming the albatros Bliss said she was. “So we’ve made a choice. On New Year’s Eve we will be having our wedding at the mansion. If you and dad don’t mind. I think we want it to be at the mansion. We feel like it will be magical their considering all the lights from Christmas will still be up and the tree. So having it at the mansion is where we’d like to have it outside in the courtyard.” Jackson turned to look at her. “Then I’ll make Lex and every other man in the world all feel horrible they didn’t marry this woman before now.”


Merci stirred her coffee cup at La Callie waiting on Skye to arrive. It had been a minute since they had a moment. Considering that she was a mother now. As she tapped the side of the the teacup with her spoon. Taking a deep sip of her coffee and she felt like she was charged up. Skye said that Thor had a plan to take on the Hessington’s. As she looked up she saw Skye walking through looking absolutely stunning. That mob money was doing her good. She felt her sister was becoming deeper and deeper into the lifestyle of a mob moll. To be honest they had ran cons on richer men in different locations in Pennsylvania but to be with a mobster. That was dangerous territory and she was happy that a man was all devoted to Skye but Thor? He was fully entrenched in Ronan’s world hell his own world. Standing up she looked at her sister and best friend smiling as she hugged her.

“Skye you look beautiful honey look at us, able to eat at La Callie and no longer the broke girls.” She teased as she sat down looking around. “I took the time to order you a coffee but I think we need to have this conversation. You’re dating a mobster who is trying to help you get the kid you gave up for adoption and the baby daddy is a cop while the adopted family is Pennsylvania’s first family. Do you see how complex this web is? Sweetie you had a baby by Jon Harrison and I can’t help but think this is going to be horrible when it all comes out. Do you understand that this man is beloved in this town? Or even worse what will happen to you? You are just getting your life under control. You have this big audition coming up for Romeo and Juliet with that Broadway producer. Skye is it really worth unearthing all of this? All of the drama? All of the pain.”

Skye had been spending the time worrying about how Thor was going to get the Hessington’s to give her Miles though she had been thinking about it nonstop. It was one thing to pretend to want to get Miles and dream about it, it was another to actually go up against someone like Charles and his daughter to get him. It was one thing to pretend to want Miles she was not naive that agreement was ironclad she had seen so many lawyers over the years and as much of a train wreck she knew Lex was at times he was damned good attorney. One who dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s, it was part of the reason Charles and the rest of them became rich old money and carefully written contracts not to mention them having the Walkers join them with all the big oil money they had. Meaning it was a mobster and herself against them all and she listened as Merci laid out all the problems she was about to face. She was going to try out for that film but then she had to wonder if that was what she still wanted. With what Thor did was that even practical? Not that Brooke had to give up her career to be with Ronan but that clearly fizzled out she took off her coat and grabbed the coffee taking a sip in the restaurant that they had often dreamed about as kids.

“It is about time that we joined all the other bitches that get to come here I would say we both deserve it even if we may of funded this a little different than most. It feels like ages since we caught up, I told Thor about what I did by going to see Whitney and Ryan.” Skye said looking at her sister and seeing the look on her face the disapproval. She sat the cup back down on the saucer she had to tell him and now he was going to help her. “I had to Merci I caused a lot of trouble for him and Ronan by going there surprise surprise Charles is involved with their entire organization. He already knew by the time that I had the nerve to go see him and he thinks he and Ronan can convince them to give me Miles back. That would mean that I could raise Miles with Thor and Jon would be none the wiser, no court battle no one else needs to know.” Skye said seeing the dirty look Merci was giving her she knew how crazy she sounded but if she and Thor had Miles that meant that Jon never had to know she never had to deal with him and what she did. She knew how selfish she was being and shrugged. “What do you want from me? To march over and tell him I’m going to try and get our child back that I gave up when I was a drugged up mess fucking him and Jackson at the same time?”

“I want you to be honest with yourself. You should have told me and Jon when you pranced your ass back into town. Instead you sat on this bomb and now it is ticking Skye!” She said lowering her voice. “Do you understand how horrible this could be? No I don’t think you do. You never see when you are about to blow up your own life. I told you to slow up on the drugs, to stay away from Jackson and you just couldn’t do that could you. You went deeper and when he dumped you, Skye you ran to Jon. Drugged up sex and his depressed as didn’t even notice how far you were slipping.” Merci said as she leaned back as the waiter arrived. “May I have the Belgium french toast, with two slices of turkey back and two sunny side up eggs. She wants the same.” Merci smiled at Skye they had ate the same order since they had to split a plate here. “We’ve come so far and I just am so scared Skye. I’m so nervous that everything will just explode on you. That somehow you’re going to lose Thor and then you’re going go running back to Jon and get crushed by the Cassie Montgomery train. You know that right? You know that he’s madly in love with her. No matter what you say and do with Thor I know you. Don’t forget that you don’t tell him because you lose leverage over Jon and Cassie. Oh you haven’t forgotten how he did you last year and I’m not here to judge but Skye.” Merci placed her hands in her face. For a few moments everything was dark and she just needed a moment to say it.

“Skye you are worth more than all of this. We have been used and hurt so much maybe we don’t believe that. You know you are a diamond right? Hooker so what? Thief and? But this is a different level of calculation Skye. Everything you do has to be right or you could lose Thor or you could lose everyone and everything you’ve worked for honey.” Merci said reaching out. “You deserve Miles but not getting him like this. The mob, the business you’ll be in their debt forever. You’ll be another moll and we choose our destinies remember? We do! You are slipping deeper and deeper in and I don’t know how to stop it. I’m worried about the only person in the world I have. You.”

Skye shrugged knowing that she was right about how it all should have went down there was no sense in denying that anymore but there was nothing she could do about it now. Merci had warned her so many times back then about what she was doing with Jackson and Jon but she was too busy chasing the next high to care about what she thought back then. She was an addict and an ugly one at that, stuck in addict behavior with Jackson and then sucked into even worse addict behavior with Jon. It wasn’t something that she bragged about now or that she was proud of but it had happened, it was a part of her past. “Nothing is going to explode on me the only two people that know are you and Thor it’s not like Thor is going to go over and tattletale to Jon and break up him and Cassie.” Skye huffed looking at her and nodding her head at the waiter they’d been sharing food out of old habits not to mention wanting to keep themselves skinny a bad habit that they had but never really addressed. Not to mention they were poor growing up so they got food where and how they could and always shared to make sure the other had at least something. You couldn’t just take that out of them she guessed.

“I am not still hung up on Jon and I don’t care that he is out fucking Cassie the bitch and Thor doesn’t care either.” It was a lie she told herself a lot over the last few months and while she was falling in love with Thor sometimes she wondered what it could be with her and Jon if she had kept Miles. She imagined them raising their son together and then she remembered that was a fantasy that she had concocted in her mind, if she would have stayed she would have likely got an abortion or tried to trap Jackson or overdosed. She would have never gotten clean, she and Miles had to leave to make sure she didn’t end up like Catherine. Dead covered in her own vomit and Merci being paid off to leave by the Devonshire’s. Jon would have never gotten the help he did and they’ve be in the same destructive cycle as before. “What am I supposed to do Merci tell Thor I don’t need his help when I clearly do? It’s a risk I’m willing to take and seeing how you were sleeping with Kendrick you were all about that life. Why is it so different just because it is Thor? I didn’t tell you what to do when it came to you and Kendrick even though he was probably more dangerous than Thor is. You don’t have to worry about me shouldn’t we both just be happy that we’re both moving on from our pasts?”

Merci didn’t believe a word coming out of Skye’s mouth. She’d always been caught up on lineage. She hunted for her birth family, she wanted a Devonshire for his title, and Jon’s family were one of the few founding families of Atlas Falls left. She had no doubt that Skye wanted Jon again and thought that when she dropped that bomb it was going to be a reunion. If it was Jackson kid it would be the same thing. “It’s different because he’s Ronan fucking Madden brother. It’s different because you have a kid in the mix and is pretending to not know that this will upheave so many lives. You will destroy Cassie and Jon but you don’t get it honey. You are also going to destroy what you and Thor are building. I hate this but I was wrong last year. I only messed with Kendrick because I knew that Devin would have a reaction. I played the game but Skye this is even worse. Don’t you see? You are ripping apart your relationship with Thor, Jon and Cassie, Ryan and Whitney and most of all Miles. That’s my nephew and I couldn’t love him anymore if his blood ran through my body. He is mine just like you are my sister but having a baby with Jon and then giving it up. Then trying to take it from one of the biggest political families dynasty in our state? Girl are you crazy or are you living in some fantasy of how this shit is going to play out?” She said completely frustrated.

Quinn had the bags in her hand. Today was the day that her daddy and mom were going to the cabin he used to live at for a couple of days. Her mommy had said something about that they were reconnecting. Quinn was sure they were going to do grown up stuff that her mommy would always cover her eyes up when they were watching movies. She froze when she saw Merci and Skye they were so pretty. Her mommy was pretty but she never wore makeup or did her hair up like they did. They were so glamorous and she was amazed with them. Heck her aunt Dani was just as stunning now that she was a Devonshire. They were all so pretty but she couldn’t help but to hear what Ms. Merci was saying about Skye having her uncle Jon’s baby. She picked up the food and was stuck. She didn’t know her uncle had a child and her perplexed face washed over her. When she felt someone hand on her small shoulders. Turning around she looking her mother. She looked angry and she immediately walked closer to Merci and Skye. “Hi, Ms. Merci and Ms. Skye. Momma said her new year’s resolution was to be nice she was going to make her start early.

“Good morning Quinn.” Merci said smiling at the beautiful little girl whose dream had come true. Her father was alive but Skye didn’t know that and it felt crushing because she couldn’t open her mouth to Skye. Thor and Ronan were another mob faction about to crumble. Looking Miranda up and down she couldn’t stand this woman. Her entire body clenched up but she promised Devin she would try to rectify their catfight. “Miranda, it’s actually ironic you’re here. I didn’t expect to see you but I have these tickets three in fact and I was wondering if you’d like to go to Baylor Spa.” She said smiling at Quinn. “I think um we could work some beef between us and if you don’t want to please think of Quinn. She would love this opportunity and even if it’s not with me I’ll send the tickets over.” Merci saw Skye face and she was going to show her friend that sometimes you could outclass these bitches.

Skye looked over at the little girl and gritted her teeth in the best possible way she didn’t care for Miranda at all and she knew that it was only a matter of time before Miranda hated her forever. Deep down though she would always be a throne in Miranda’s side and secretly relished that thought as well, not to mention Jon. Jon would be in her life forever no matter what and he would have to look on the inside out while she and Thor were together eventually with Miles. She was about to say something to the little girl and then bit her tongue as Miranda appeared in her smugness to look down at them. She watched Merci with caution as Miranda eyed them up and down and saw her reach for her daughter’s hand.

Miranda had went to the spa to get a treatment something she thought was stupid but KC had insisted that she and Quinn had some pampering. The FBI was proceeding with caution at the moment when it came to KC they had agreed that for now Atlas Falls was big enough that if he wore some hats and sunglasses not to mention blended into crowds when needed that spoiling that he was alive to Ronan would not work. It annoyed her to no end like what other proof did they need to take Ronan down? Another corpse or two to line a casket and the streets, it made her angry to even think about it. On top of that running into these two made her want to claw their eyes out and then some instinctively she reached for Quinn and pulled her daughter to her. It still rubbed her the wrong way that Merci had tried to even step on those bounds and she honestly didn’t want that type on influence on her daughter. She had plenty of aunts and other role models to look up too.

“We actually stopped by for a spa day ourselves but thank you for the offer.” Miranda said as as forced as she could she only hoped that Quinn didn’t pick up on that. Her child was intuitive by nature and then was always off to the races on adventures and she knew she got it from her parents. Despite everything though she knew that Merci and she had tried to stop that gap between them but she doubted that would ever close. “Listen it was nice to see both of you again but we really have to get going don’t we sweetie.”

“Yes momma, we have a day to spend with.” She felt a small pinch. “Ouch.” Quinn said looking at her mother cautioning eyes. “We have to spend the day with grandma.” She lied feeling bad that her mother wasn’t nice to Merci or Skye. As she took her mother’s hand she saw Skye rolling her eyes. That lady didn’t like them and it felt bad that all the adults couldn’t just apologies like she and Evan did. Evan was her best friend and when they were mad they just said sorry. No big deal but adults were much more complicated. “Come on mom we have to go.” Quinn said as she looked down the entire walk to the car. “I thought you were going to be nice?” Her eyes staring up at her mother with sadness. “Now I’ll never see uncle Jon baby. Ms. Skye said she had uncle Jon’s child and Merci said it too. I know you said listening to people conversation was bad. But you’re so mean to Merci and Skye they don’t even tell people uncle Jon and she have a baby!”

Miranda refused to mention KC’s name around Skye of all people she didn’t need her to go off blabbering her mouth to Thor of all people and letting Ronan know that he was alive. She gave the other two women the fakest smile she could as she and Quinn walked out to make their way through the parking lot to the car. Once she got inside and Quinn started blabbering again she looked at the clock it wasn’t even night yet she almost told her to just go back to her tablet and play her game one she stopped and froze at Quinn’s words. Skye had a child not to mention her claiming it was her brother’s was the bitch even sure who the father was? She kept her composure as she turned around in the seat and looked her daughter square in the eye. “Quinn sweetheart what do you mean Skye and uncle Jon have a baby? Tell me everything you overheard.”

“Merci said that Skye had uncle Jon’s baby and she was going to destroy Thor, Jon and Cassie relationship. But mommy you are always so mean but then I was confused because she said something about going up some political family. She asked Skye if she was crazy but see you are so mean that they don’t even tell you about her and uncle Jon baby.” She said picking up her tablet. “Are you going to apologize so we can meet uncle Jon’s baby?” Moving her finger alongside the tablet. “Mom it’s strange because uncle Jon doesn’t talk about his baby huh?”


The wind of winter ripped against her porcelain skin. Standing outside of the Fraiser house was a tradition. She’d been out there for every day since she slinked into town. Once a day she’d go look at the house that was supposed to be her family’s home. She heard that her big sister Dani had given birth to those twins with that Devonshire bastard. Nothing would make her feel better than ripping apart Jackson and Dani. Lowell Devonshire was just as much to blame as her parents and hurting his son would be sufficient enough. Something today pulled her to the house today. Maybe it was how toasty and beautiful it looked underneath the snow. What would her life be like if Brenda would have kept her and Walter wouldn’t been such a pussy and left Lauren? Lauren wasn’t blameless either she went to Lowell for help. They all had to be the worst people but she wasn’t going to dwell. She saw Dylan grab his lacrosse gear from his grandfather and Walter locking up. It was always like that. If it wasn’t Dylan it was Kelsey going to visit her father or Brock because their parents were leaving. She guess it made them feel close to someone.

As she stepped through the sludge that was the snow that had fallen. She pulled back the rug and found a key. How Mayberry were the Fraisers? Her family were straight out of a 50’s sitcom who left a key under the doormat? Unlocking the door she walked through and it smelled like oak and fresh muffins. As she walked to the back and saw TJ’s she opened the box and took a muffin as she walked around her body froze stiff. The muffin fell to the floor and she just became enraged. When she saw it she walked to the picture of Lauren, Walter, Dani, and Braden. Braden had to be in high school and her rage started to boil. Grabbing the picture off the wall she screamed in rage throwing it in the kitchen when she heard someone clapping behind her. “Who the fuck are you?” She hissed as she looked at the dashing man smiling at her. “What are you doing here?”

A birdie had told hi that there was a new worker at the Pub meaning he was instantly intrigued where had their trusty man of years gone? It lead him to asking questions and then once he saw her he asked around for a first and last name, lastly it was quite intriguing seeing her getting in a car with Philip Montgomery of course he had been called away pesky overseas business. Along his trip though he began thinking more and more about the girl, he even had hired someone to tail her a loyal and faithful person he trusted. Greer was moving on with that Fraiser boy and what type of a father would he be if he didn’t look into all their dark secrets and he watched from the shadows as Walter and that brat Dylan sped off. He had stepped out of the early morning shadows to look at the girl that was staring from her own spot. He followed her as she broke into the house but was it really breaking and entering when the old fool still kept the key under the mat on the back door? He watched as she took a bite of the muffin and couldn’t help himself as he raised his hands and started clapping at her to mock her seeing her spin around and glare at him.

“The real question is who exactly the fuck are you Ms. Price and why are you inside Walter Frasier’s home stealing a muffin that you could easily pick up at that local crappy eatery yourself?” He asked seeing her still glaring at him as he pulled out a chair and took a seat. Walter was if anything as predictable as always the key on the doormat, the family photos plastered on the walls. The fake image he had built over the years, granted he had always never hated Walter he wasn’t the one that forged those papers to send him to prison but he had testified against him all those years ago probably out of spite due to Harvey’s attraction to Lauren, he saw her place the muffin almost down and leaned back in his chair gesturing around the kitchen before getting up and opening the cabinet to pull down two cups and then pour the coffee from the pot sliding the cup to her watching her eyes burn daggers into him. “Pierre LeClerq if you were wondering and here I thought you knew all the players in this game or not. Perhaps you have been to wrapped around my ex son in law and that imobile gimp to pay attention.”

“LeClerq.” She said as it clicked in her mind. Zerick ex-wife name was Greer LeClerq the daughter of Pierre and niece of Harvey. The two men who help build DGI right along with her father. This was the man that Walter testified against and got him those years in jail. Why was he here and what exactly did he want from her? Clearly he’d been watching because he knew she’d be spending time with Zerick and Philip. Picking up the muffin she tossed it the trash and leaned against the wall. Her eyes glaring at him as her head tilted slowly moving to the dining room table. “That’s none of your business on why I am here and to be frank aren’t you breaking and entering right along with me. It’s funny that you’re here though. Didn’t Walter Fraiser get you sent up the river? How was prison Mr. LeClerq? Was it everything you dream of? Did you enjoy being someone prison bitch?” Dru said with enough venom to shoot acid out of her tongue.

“Immobile gimp cute but Philip stands taller than you any day and Zerick my friend is also none of your concern. You seem to know so much about what I am up to, my question is simple what the hell do you want because I’m not going to play these idle games.” She hissed back at him. As she moved her red hair from her face. “I’m leaving now but I was just here to leave Mr. Fraiser a report on current brew of that signature Fraiser beer. So now that I’ve answered your questions I’m done.” She said placing her purse on her shoulder seeing the shatter glass on the floor. “You should clean that up I’m sure you’re used to doing domestic work being a jail birdy and all.”

“Oh but I think it is my business little girl you see everything involving the past at DGI is my business and Walter is such a key part of that. He contributed to sending me up the river but he wasn’t the one that sailed the boat no that was someone else someone I hope to see him get his karma for that action sooner rather than later.” Pierre said looking at her she had a sharp tongue he actually liked that about her through her smarts in other areas were a bit lacking. Someone like her should be aiming a little higher than scraps like Ronan, Zerick and Philip he hoped she had some grander plan than that. When she mentioned his time in prison he leaned back in the chair folding his hands on his lap and gave her the most smug smile he could muster. “No you’ll clean it up you see in prison people did what I told them to and I don’t clean up any else’s messes except my own flesh and bloods and you my dear aren’t that. Now be a good little bar keep and clean up the mess, you see here I was going to have a civilized conversation with you and you already broke pictures and glass giving it away we were here to begin with.” He finished reaching to the folded dish towel on the counter and throwing it to her.

“Now be a good girl and clean up after your own messes.” Pierre said watching her look and stare at him like he was insane when he had meant every word of it. He knew exactly who she was the part he couldn’t quite figure out was her revenge scheme it was rather dull at the moment in his eyes. He got up from his chair as he watched her cave and start cleaning up the glass. “Ah there you go, you see you want to play this game little girl you have to know when to play your hand and when to hold it. Right now you’re about an explosion away from showing all your cards. You see I know exactly who you are Ms. Price or should I say Ms. Braddock?” He sneered seeing her bolt upwards at the name and he shot her a glance. “You see I trained my little girl how to take on an identity and run with it, she was much better trained than you are. Right now your game plan little girl is lacking, so you slept with your half sister’s ex fling and working in that little shit hole of a bar and completing a little B&E when you want for what exactly? So they’ll throw you a crumb or two so they’ll cry for you? Shouldn’t you I don’t know want to aim a little bit more for the jugular? You see Ms. Price I know for a fact the Fraiser and Kincaid trees are both a bit bigger than what you are doing now.”

Dru was stooped down holding a dustpan in her hands shaking. When he called her Braddock her last name. Tears almost formed and she then put a hard front on because this guy already clearly had her number. She walked in front of the picture and poured the glass in front of where logistically it would be if it had fallen. Then she placed the frame down. “First of all I didn’t ask for some fucked up yoda to guide me because I didn’t need a daddy to learn how to fuck up lives. You don’t need to know what I’m going to do just know that I’m fucking up each and every one of their lives. Since you know so much about me Pierre LeClerq tell me what do you want from me. Since you clearly have been following me.” Dru spat as her eyes narrowed in on him. “I know what my bloodline is and Kendall Braddock is dead she died in a car crash. My name is Dru now and you should respect that and never and I mean never call me that again. I’m going to enjoy this because a man like you loves to have little secrets like this under your belt.” She said snapping at him. “Do you think I spent my entire life dreaming of being this close to them all and I’m needing to make them feel it. You have no idea what I have planned for them but you better know that them sons of bitches are going feel it. You know that! You know that my dad who was so great to these bastards will know that I fucking deserved a shot! That bitch will lose everything so don’t worry I’m coming with the fire of a fucking dragon!” She spewed at Pierre tears started to fall down her face.

Stepping back wiping her face she shook her head laughing. “You are the first fucker to figure it out but know one thing. I’m going to do what was done to me. I didn’t have shit! I grew up hungry scrapping for every fucking thing I had and if I have to play barmaid and girlfriend for a while that’s fine because they’ll play my pawns. I’m going to become so involved and intricately apart of their lives so don’t worry about me but what do you want.” Dru asked. “Yeah I am still on that what do you want man?” She laughed knowing she was caught and the fear was screwing with her. She stopped laughing wrapped her arms around herself. “I have a lot of hate and venom to give you see. I like a slow burn betrayal you might be after a quick jab but I go for a long con. You aren’t the only person who can know how to play revenge. I like mine long and painful gutting them without my hands getting dirty at all.

Pierre rose from his chair and walked towards her he liked the anger and the fire that was happening in her something he could watch and manipulate. In a way that was easier than doing the same to his own daughter, Greer was too struck for what he wanted to do to Walter and he needed her at DGI. Walter was the one that had testified at the trial everything had hinged on Walter taking the stand and he had lied to send him away with Lowell. Deep down he knew why and he wanted to hurt Walter just as much as he wanted to destroy DGI as well. “No I think you have spent your life hating the right people. A mother who was too ashamed to have you with your other siblings in her perfect family with Steven. A father who is a hypocrite beyond measure and one that you should hate the most and probably do and what about all those perfectly poised siblings you have? The perfect district attorney brother and sister that will marry into the enemy with the Devonshire’s? The gorgeous model of a sister and the beloved first son of Atlas Falls own beloved Steven? You’re just a little stain they all tried to get rid of that has to hurt doesn’t it? Deep down that has to hurt so much.” Pierre hissed hoping to just plant those seeds as he watched the pain in her face with each word he didn’t have to manipulate her physically just emotionally.

“I watch little girl have been for a while you think that a man like me doesn’t keep an eye on those that we wants to destroy? I’ve watched for years and you my dear are going to help me I can help you in ways you can’t even imagine. What if I were to put in a good word for you around town get a rumor started that you wanted to perhaps take on a bigger role at that precious little Pub? You’re already fucking the mobster perfect revenge on one sister. Take away the legacy from that older brother that won’t set foot in the Pub that he doesn’t want, that his momma doesn’t want because you shackle her to her past. Hunter is too fucking bland but I have a feeling you can figure out a way to hurt him too. And your other sister that just had children I can think of a million ways you can manipulate that situation.” Pierre snaked around the kitchen making sure everything was in order as he watched her thoughts swirl in her head and he washed the cup he had used placing it in the sink to wash it and dry it. Her problem was she was only looking at her parents but a real recipe for revenge was making sure that root spread to the entire fucking tree and rotted it from the inside out. He walked back to her when he was done and looked her dead in the eye. “I’d imagine instead of petty B&E to resolve your plans or to move them along when you’re ready to play with the real players at the table and have a backer that wants only one thing in return you should reach out. Until then I can’t actually believe I’ve wasted all this time on you.” He finished as he put on his coat and made his way to the back door to see himself out.

Dru stood in the home that her great-grandfather built and felt her need rising to hurt them all. Her whore of a mother who couldn’t keep her legs closed to a clearly married man. Her lying hypocrite father who lived in a morally superior place. They all had to be punished and he was right. They all had such perfect lives compared to her. No more, no longer would she let them all get off. Had she quite possibly gone soft watching her family? He was right and she was going to exploit him just the way he was using her. Slowly walking through the house she knew that Pierre LeClerq and Philip Montgomery were her chance to take out both side of her family. She had come into town just to infiltrate and ruin small things but was she thinking in pebbles on how to hurt them when she needed actual boulders to dismantle their lives. Grabbing her purse she knew he was right no more stupid moves like this. She quickly opened her notebook and scribbled down Pierre LeClerq name. Closing it and placing her purse she walked out the back door and saw a Rolls Royce pulling off and knew she’d either just made a new friend or a major enemy.


Jamal lowered the echo on Ivan’s voice as he looked around the studio and yawned. Most people wouldn’t think to put a studio inside of a club. It was genius the new music and energy gave him all the inspiration he needed. Looking out the glass window the stage was being built and everyone was busy transforming the club for Rory and his big night. Soon everyone would know who IMoney was and it was amazing to see Ivan transform. From a rough and tumble guy out in the streets to a full on rapper. Looking at him sitting down in the booth with all the people from Scottswood proud of him. He was nervous that the street might pull him back hell the devil had his way against everyone if not strong. Jamal pulled out a bag of dro and began to roll a blunt. When he saw his father downstairs speaking to Ivan. His eyes grew big it was strippers in here and people were doing drugs. His dad was about to have a heart attack. He was still on probation for the entire situation with Ronan and Kendrick. Shaking his head he knew a lecture was coming about who he was hanging with. Placing his notebook over his weed he opened the studio door.

“Yo Mal! Your pops hella cool bro! He talking about he used to smoke and some of your people were from Scottswood. That’s crazy as hell bro I guess you wasn’t all fraudulent.” Ivan teased Jamal. “You good bro?”

“Yeah I just didn’t expect to see you here dad.” He said looking at his father. “Mom told me you doing good that’s what’s up. Come upstairs to my office and the studio.” Jamal watched his father walk up the stairs as he looked him up and down. “What you want pops? Man I’m doing my thing and I don’t want to hear all that today dad. I’m worried about so much shit I’m about to launch Ivan as the star of my label. I don’t have time today so whats up you didn’t come to the edge of the ghetto and downtown to say hello. What’s up you mad you didn’t get a invite or something? You don’t deserve one dad matter fact leave me alone until you fix whatever your issue is with Mason we have nothing and I mean nothing to talk about.”

Tony had been to Vertigo a few times since Jamal had bought it mainly when he knew his son was not there to at least admire the crowd that would flock outside the club. He was very proud of Jamal over the last year and how he had changed his life around after the kidnapping. He was glad that Kendrick was out of their lives and that Jamal was back to making better choices. He had made his way inside and he quickly saw people hiding the weed they were smoking and he almost laughed. He had been young once in his lifetime and perhaps if he hadn’t of been so strict on his kids Jamal would have never went to the lengths he did with walking that like with Ronan’s organization. Instead he made his way up the stairs greeting who he assumed was Ivan with suspicion after all the man was and had worked for Ronan for years. He made his way into Jamal’s office after a young girl had pointed him in the right direction. His relationship with both Mason and Jamal had been severely strained since he had found out about Mason’s sexuality something he was still coming to terms with. He grew up in a different time period where it would have been taboo to discuss it and he knew he hadn’t handled it right.

“I came to visit I wanted to see how the club looked I’ve had a few people come into La Callie and talk about it. You’re label it’s making quite the raves in some preview magazines and I hear you have some good interviews with your artist coming up for your launch party. I do wish you would let me cater the event Jamal as a show of support to you.” Tony said looking at his youngest son not sure what else he was going to say to him. Lately things had felt so isolated and alone, not to mention with Lowell being sick it had been dredging up thing he didn’t think he could think about anymore. Zerick’s claims had dredged up so much bad things in his mind as of late not to mention how heavy things were with him and Mason. “I don’t want our family to start to become like your godfather’s and this thing with Zerick won’t be going away. I know what happened with Mason and I was wrong and I am trying my best to make that up to him.”

“Do you? Do you really understand how you made him feel dad? He was suicidal dad! He thought that taking his life was better than freaking disappointing you! Do you know he tried to do it?” Jamal seethed as he looked at his father. “I love you pop and you have rode for me through this entire thing I did last year. I’m gonna need you to do the same fucking thing for Mason!” Jamal spat at his father. “I thought that being someone else would connect me to this entire other world and thank God, I figured being just a Delacroix and this man was enough. He doesn’t feel like that because you aren’t showing that love. I understand how different it is for your generation pops but it isn’t like that for us. We see love is love and if you can’t accept that then you do want to end up like godfather.” Jamal said looking at his father. “You don’t need to understand it, you need to respect it though.”

Jamal looked at his father and folded his arms. “You can cater the event dad if you are here then respect that Mason will be here. Fix this shit because holidays are really going to be awkward if I don’t have my big bro there and I don’t care how you feel, you need to fix this. I don’t understand how you let this get this far but dad please. I just want to feel like we are alright and for the first time my label and life is going in the right direction. Dad please let’s show the world we aren’t in the Devonshire or in anyone else’s shadow. I mean Selina is engaged to a prince we black excellence! She going all Meghan on a nigga!” He saw his dad smile. “Come here dad.” Jamal walked to his father hugging him.

Tony didn’t know that Mason had sunk that far after what happened and he was grateful that his son had pulled himself up and looked towards better days. He was ashamed of how he had acted with his oldest son and he knew that he had to make amends and accept that part of Mason.  The accusations against his best friend had showed him that family was everything and he had done a terrible job of actually being a parent let alone fixing his family in the state that they were in now. So he had considered this baby steps to what he would eventually want to do is make full amends to Mason. “I had no idea that your brother thought that after I found out. I was so angry at him Jamal for all the lies about his life he had me fooled for years that he was happy with Scarlett that they were going to start a life together. Not only that finding out that Simon of all people was his lover at the same time that everything was going on with you and Kendrick. I lost my temper and said a lot of hurtful things that I do wish I could take back.”

He paused clearing his throat just thinking about it made him regret what had happened and Mason had since then rejected any means of reaching out to him to make it right or to fix things between them. “He won’t return my calls Jamal I can’t make it right to him if he won’t answer his phone or is texts so there is another reason that I came here as well. I was hoping that you could host Thanksgiving this year at your condo, this way if I were to stop by and say hello that would mean that I could apologize in person. He won’t refuse an invitation from you to your place.” Tony said it was weak and manipulative but it was the only way that he knew to get himself and Mason in the same room. It was his last resort and he was going to at least make any attempt to make amends even if it was underhanded. “Please Jamal I am out of options when it comes to Mason. I only have you, your brother and your sister, your mother too. Did she tell you we’ve been talking again lately? Like really talking.”

Jamal smiled looking at his father nodding his head. So that is where he got this slick ass side from? His dad was smart because they both knew Mason once he was stuck on something he wasn’t moving forward until you force him to. He had been known to hold a nasty grudge and the things his father said he didn’t blame Mason one bit. Then when he heard his dad admit his shit last year had played a major part in his reaction against Mason he felt guilt. He had pushed his father to the brink and Mason being outed didn’t help. As Jamal sat down in the chair looking at his dad. “I heard that you both are talking. It’s kind of odd honestly because I always used to want you two together and now looks like I’m getting what I want.”

Looking down at his feet. “Look last year I guess was a test. A test for the entire family and things have changed honestly they have. I see that I can’t force my way into my culture because I am already the culture. Mason finally was real with himself and Selina went through a divorce and finding her happiness again. Look we all found our places in this family and we are centered. Was Mason choice your choice for him? No, it wasn’t dad but was his truth and as long as you are cool with that. Then I am sure then we can fix all of those words because they are just that words but our blood as Delacroix is forever.”

“I haven’t told your sister or brother yet that your mother and I have reconnected. It just sort of happened we both realized that we haven’t really moved on from each other. I want to start to see her again date and everything. The only way I can do that is if I make this right with your brother. Your mother is not as forgiving in that regard.” Tony said not sure how Jamal would take the news he wanted to have a relationship with Mason again. He also wanted to date Ophelia again and see what happened with their relationship perhaps he had given up too quickly when everything happened with her and David. Selina had been wreaking havoc on their relationship and acting out he was blaming her he saw Jamal looking at him. “I know you love both your sister and your brother but I also know your mother and Selina have never gotten along. That is on me and no one else. Things back then were bad you know that it was one of the main reasons we divorced. I’ve forgiven her for what happened with her and David.”

“Everything happened so quickly after Gloria got sick until she passed not to mention back then everything going on with DGI and Walter at the time. I lost some of myself back then and vowed I would be a better man and do right by your sister and brother. Your mother was one of the only bright spots when it came to that time.” Tony said he hung his head in shame at what happened with Mason and memories of that time in his past. A time that was not proud of, one of the reason he only had his shares at DGI which he had given to his children to get out. He instead invested in the restaurants and making sure he did something he loved in cooking. “Then you came and I thought that would ease things for your siblings with your mother. I was not innocent in what happened with her and David I pushed her to it. I’m the one who is responsible for everything that happened with Mason too. Hell part of what happened with you last year. We should have been more proactive about your roots when you asked, but I thought I was doing the right thing back then. Please Jamal help me fix this family before it is too late.”

Jamal sat back listening to his father ask for his help he nodded his head. “I got you pops.” His voice boomed through the studio. “Dad look I wanted to know who I was but I didn’t want to be a bad guy. I just got sucked up into what I thought was my life and my culture. Being black doesn’t mean you have to be ghetto nor a thug. I thought the struggle was what I needed to be black but I already had that. I already have the troubles just being a African-American man in this world. I am sorry I didn’t see that. It messed me up seriously and me screwing up didn’t help the family. I’m so sorry. I’m here for you pops and I’ll help with Thanksgiving, and whatever else you need.” Taking in the fact his parents were dating again was deep for him. He was just a baby but hearing about how Selina and his momma would go at it. He wondered if she would move past that hurt of losing her mother.

“They lost their mom a long time ago and I think last year unusually bonded Selina and I know that they won’t be fighting like in the past. So I think that that we will have thanksgiving at my place and I’m going to do some magic but dad I think this is going to work. As for you and mom I always thought you two would get together again. I’m excited about this dad we going to get the Delacroix back together. I had a lot of worry and anger that I hurt the family but not as sorry as I was to see my brother pull away from the family. I love him a lot and I love you both of y’all hurt me. We the Delacroix men come on you know how we do!” He said clapping. “This is going to be amazing us all together this is what I always wanted. I used to hear how happy you and mom were and I’m happy for you. I’m happy for our family dad.”


Cassie sat back in the chair at her desk looking over the last bits of some news and sorting through the mail on her desk. Papers were flying off the shelves and her gossip rag had been upgraded to serious news ever since Charles Hessington had announced he was running again this time with local boy Anderson Kincaid running his campaign. It was an angle she was excited to play with and then there had been the birth of the Devonshire twins so she could rest easy that she was doing what she needed without the help of her father. Bills or the paper, credit card bills and she shoved them in her desk some weird formal invitation to some media gala event in New York she may actually go to that with Jon. She placed that on her planner and her heart ached a bit at the Opera flyer ad that was in her hands, seeing the up and coming singer on the cover for Madame Butterfly. It was that time of year again and she looked at the attached letter for the opera house thanking her for her donation and dedicating the show to her mother’s memory all funds from tickets going to the National Suicide Hotline, she pushed the tears back putting the letter and flyer away. Instead she was left with an unmarked manilla envelope.

Strange there was no postage on it and she wondered who had delivered it, no one on her staff had mentioned it and perhaps they didn’t have time to yet. She reached for her letter opener curiosity getting the better of her as she ran it along the edge of the paper. She reached her hand inside pulling out the stack of papers and the stack of photographs. She instantly recognized the faces in the photos it was hard not too. She had known Charles in social circles for years, he had been Governor for longer than she could remember and his daughter and son were frequent partakers of the club she used to own with Philip on and off over the years. Lex was standing next to his father, Whitney on the other side with her husband and two children and the lonely Connor youngest son on the other. Like herself there was no mother in the picture though unlike her mother the Hessington matriarch hadn’t killed herself.  The children in their arms were Miles, Whitney and her husband’s adopted son and their new infant daughter and she for the life of her couldn’t remember the child’s name. It was the perfect image for a re-election campaign and she wondered why she had been sent it.

Flipping the photo over she saw the writing in red marker which one didn’t belong? What an absurd comment was her first reaction everyone knew that while his marriage to his wife was not perfect at times every single one of Charles’s brats were just that his. He may of had some political scandals over the years bribery, double crossing and at one point their investment company was under investigation for FCC violations but everyone knew that Alexis Hessington  was faithful to the man that was head of the state till her deathbed. She then thought over Whitney the only married one of his children, it was a huge news story years ago when she and Ryan were having problems and she remembered how Charles made them handle it after some rumors about an affair started between Ryan and some uppercrest bitch in Atlas Falls. He had made them come out and talk about fertility issues saving the family the political drama of points lost at the polls. That was right around the time that scandal came out with his son’s almost marriage to Dani Fraiser, something about his fucking a stripper that they later employed at the club. Little Miles had joined them all about seven or eight months later so he wasn’t blood per say but she always assumed that the entire family thought of him as theirs.

Adoption was hardly a bad thing in fact it was something that she knew for a fact that swayed those votes to get him re-elected in an election year. The girl was their miracle pregnancy and the last that she had heard things were going okay for the couple in the photo they had worked through their issues, Ryan was a doting father and husband that had stopped his whoring around. Whitney was slated to take over the investment business later that year over her older brother. Staring at the photo though she looked at the boy in between them something was strange about it him, she felt like she knew him that she’d seen him before or maybe she was just crazy. The parents of him had always been something that was denied to the press the Hessington media team and noted it was to protect their privacy and that of the mother. It made sense perhaps they got a surrogate to carry the baby for them, using a sperm bank or one of Whitney’s eggs. Or perhaps they had helped someone who was in a bad situation maybe it wasn’t her business, but then why send a photo with such a message to begin with. Turning around in her chair she nearly jumped out of her skin when she saw Jon standing there staring at her.

“You scared the crap out of me.” Cassie stammered putting the picture back into the envelope and into her desk, a sinking feeling creeping into her stomach as she did. She wasn’t sure what to expect with it or really what to do with it and then she smiled at Jon pushing it to the back of her mind. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work taking down mobsters and criminals?”

“My boss actually gave me and few others the day off since we have been doing doubles. Since we have a lead on a certain major criminal in Atlas Falls. So every beat cop, detective, and any open hands we are taking. Here is a exclusive in a couple weeks you could be seeing the take down of Ronan Madden but that isn’t something you put in press just now.” Jon said with a happy smile. To put Ronan behind bars and have Atlas Falls free of the east coast biggest don well that would break doors down for his career and lives in the communities of Atlas Falls. Jon walked over to her and touched her face and smiled. “So I was thinking I could take you to that chinese place on Fort street that you love. No only that I preordered those dumplings you love so they’ll be at the table waiting.” Jon said folding his arms.

“Now if you don’t want your boyfriend to take you to your favorite restaurant then I understand. I heard you were dating some guy name Jonathan and I’m Jon so I guess you’ll have to cheat. I’m much more interesting than Jonathan and I have a night of pleasures for you. I want to give you a night after all you have been stressing and scoops you have been getting lately. You have been working hard and I want to show you that we can have a impressive night even when didn’t expect it. So get your things because any work you have to do will be left here and let me surprise the most beautiful girl in the world.”

Cassie looked up at him and then over at her deck locking the manila envelope inside she could make a few calls about it tomorrow. She then thought of someone else that might have an inside on the Hessington’s Jon himself, he had to know something. “Dinner sounds perfect I’, starving from working so late with the paper. As always thank you for the tip I’ll have some beat reporters follow up on it. You met the Governor once or twice haven’t you? He has two children right? He handed you one of your medals when you came back some weird tip came in and I was hoping you might be able to use those detective skills on it or maybe even give me a read on them as a family.” Cassie said looking at him playing dumb for her own purposes she herself even knew that the Hessingtons were a touchy subject for Jon given that Dani had been engaged to him right around the time he was fucking around with Skye. She saw his face crinkle at the suggestion and she knew she had hit a nerve but that damn picture was engraved in her mind.

“Listen I know you have beef with Lex but surely not all of them could be bad and you seemed to genuinely like Charles when you accepted your medals. That or when you were going through that time with Skye you were even more screwed up than meets the eye. I’m sure this tip is nothing but it sounded like a big deal and trust me you don’t mix politics with those people. I start asking questions outright and it could get back to my father and you know I’m not speaking to him.” Cassie could tell she had almost ruined whatever plans he had made or attempted to make for for them. Which was a pity but right now he was the only one that had any insight into the family that she had been pointed too. Ronan was quickly becoming old news, Walter was boring as fuck as mayor now that he was divorced. Atlas Falls was just out of reach from Philly so that meant that she could start a little story and hopefully hide it in the back pages. “Sorry I asked if that meant that you were going to be such a poor sport about it.”

Jon took a deep breath as she asked him to recall a difficult time in his life. It took his mind to a places he didn’t like to go anymore. Thinking about his time with the Hessington’s was quite the adventure. He’d always been close to Whitney and Ryan, through Dani. It was a bad time for them all to be honest. Dani was being cheated on by Lex and wasn’t really happy. Jon had not only slept with Skye but one of his greatest sins was sleeping with Whitney. Ryan had been cheating with some girl and eventually Skye. Lex had his stripper it was a lot of betrayal going on all around. He just didn’t like who he was back then and refused to go back to that man. As he wrapped his scarf around his neck he walked to his car which he figured they’d take. He’d just drop her off in the morning.

Opening her door and quickly walking around to the driver seat he saw Cassie still digging. “Alright.” He exhaled exhausted at the thought already. He took the envelope and opened as he looked at the picture and read the text in red letters. Who would do this to the Hessington’s? Well the clear person who didn’t belong by the clearest was Miles Hessington. The adopted child of Ryan and Whitney but he had been apart of the family since he was born. “Well it was strange Cassie one day they were a single couple and the next they were parents. I mean the clearest thing I could see was Miles. He was biologically not there child so maybe it has something to do with him or the adoption?” Jon said looking at Cassie wheels turning. “Hey stay out of that. You hear me you don’t want these people as enemies or even on there radar. Just leave this alone Cassie ok. I’m a cop and I know that somethings you just don’t mess with. The Hessington’s in Pennsylvania going up against them its suicide.”

Cassie looked over at Jon and watched his reaction to the entire thing he was clearly upset about it and she did the mature thing let him look and tell her what he thought about the pictures. She almost pressed him further but knew better of it for now and then took the file back from him she could easily call her father if needed. Have him reach out to Charles for the scoop that was what Jon never had to know. It would be nice to do it the other way but she was not naive and the entire picture was bugging her. Why single out some child in it? Why the mystery of trying to ruin some power couples life with what was for all purposes a private adoption to make their family complete. If Jon wasn’t going to look into it for her or anything like that she knew that she would have to turn to her father to help her there was no other options. It mean probably groveling and making nice with her actions towards Yasmine, her now half sister. But this was a story that she felt an urge to follow through no matter what.

“Yes very strange indeed. One day they’re getting married in one of the biggest events of the year at the time that of course was not without its drama of course and a few months later they adopt a child. I’m not saying that is not normal or anything like that, but what is the point of trying to have a kid before you were married to begin with?” Cassie said shaking her head as she took back the photos from him. The Hessington’s had always been perfect in her mind presented that way but even she knew about Lex’s secrets when it involved pretty women on a pole. And Ryan she was not dumb she saw him in the club before he miraculously turned it around and proposed to Whitney. She placed the envelope back inside her purse as they started to head to dinner. “How about you use that smart and sexy brain of yours to just put out a feeler or two and I can grovel and talk to my father? That way you don’t have to get involved with them again and my father has just as much clout as Charles he wouldn’t dare go after me.”

Her arrogance alarmed him but that was the richest of the rich mentalities that they couldn’t be touched. Just as he bit down on his lip and nodded. “How about this I check into Miles for you and you use your private sources to investigate this. We don’t want this to be directly traced back to you. This could be a expose or something very big for you but I just want you to cover your tracks. I can look into the adoption and a few other things. I just want you to do some safe digging okay and I’ll go make some calls. I think I could have some leads because of my past. Connor Hessington owes me a favor about two years ago he was partying in Atlas Falls with Rory and Jamal. He was pulled over and it was a DUI. If anyone I can pry info out it’s him so I think that why we have a in.” Jon looked at her knowing she wasn’t going to stop so he had to help. “How about we stop talking about the Hessington’s and enjoy this one night I’m going to be off.”

Jon pulled into the Chinese restaurant as he looked over at Cassie. “So tell me you have a new sister are you going to acknowledge that? I mean Yasmine isn’t a bad girl. She’s actually quite remarkable that she’s overcome the obstacles that she has. How do feel about Yasmine? Tell me what you think about that it has to be hard to adjust to.” Jon questioned as he pulled into a parking spot. As he stepped out he walked over to Cassie door and opened it. “Hey you ready to eat and have conversations you know that couples do. That isn’t about either of our jobs and about our actual lives.” Jon teased linking is hand with hers. “Are you ready to turn off reporter Cassandra and can I get Cassie my stunning and loving girlfriend?”

“Yes let’s just enjoy the rest of our evening.” Cassie said looking over at him as they pulled into the restaurant and he parked the car. For now she could turn her brain off of the mysterious envelope that arrived at her office and the nagging thoughts about the Hessington’s. Surely her father would help her and reach out to Charles and she could go from there despite Jon warning her not to, she had always been curious by nature and she wanted to know who sent her the envelope and what it all meant.


Natasha walked out of the bathroom from her shower and Chauncey was beginning to get dressed for his day. Last night wasn’t half bad actually considering he was a exceptional lover and actual intellectual. She hated to admit it but seeing him so involved with the twins and even repairing his relationship with Jackson it endeared her to him. She wasn’t saying she actually liked Chauncey or cared about him. Natasha just loved having the man who Greer wanted truly and she secretly loved that Chauncey was becoming more attentive again at DGI. Her greatest fear would be not being Ms. Devonshire because he gave up. Greer somehow motivated this man to betray his family but she wasn’t after that in fact that was why she was slight worried to bring up a more ambitious idea she had. Dropping her silk robe she strutted to a custom dress that her designer from Egypt created for her. Natasha placed oils from home on that were known to drive men crazy she saw him watching and exhaled.

“I am hesitant to speak on this but I am marrying you to get my company back and this lovey dovey brother keeper thing you got going on with Jackson is beautiful. It truly is but I am also the one that was forced to sign over my family’s company under DGI and right now Lowell scandal with Zerick and everything else now that is coming out about him. It’s tanking my company in the process so DGI needs a win and I think I can help you get that.” Natasha took in a deep breath and looked at him. “DGI lost it’s government arms deal with if I can get it back with the Government. My ex-lover Tristan is in New York and he’s now working for the white house. With that being said I do want you know I could get those contracts back for you. Not only that but I could get you some good political capital. Enough capital to clean up that will help your stock back up.” Natasha said as she looked at him placing her engagement ring on her finger. As she slipped on her black leather opera gloves on. “He’s sent his private jet for dinner it should be landing anytime now. Can you zip me up?”

Chauncey had been sitting on the edge of the bed while she showered wondering how he had come to here in his life not that it was bad place to be in. Ever since the baby shower he and Natasha had come to an agreement about who they were going to be. It wasn’t the perfect arrangement but it was one that worked for now and maybe that was what he needed. Greer was moving on or so it seemed and that was for the best for everyone involved. There was no way he could want her again after what happened with the company and with his family, at least not right now while his father was sick and dying. He moved his focus back to Natasha and getting ready for their evening together, he knew who Tristan was and he wasn’t jealous of her past other women he probably would be. The last year had taught him that life was too short to worry about the past or maybe or maybe it was that they had an arrangement and he hadn’t given his heart over to her like he had Greer. He zipped her dress up as he moved to grab his shoe horn to place it in the shoe and then put the shoe onto his foot.

“It wasn’t an act you know when the twins were born at the hospital, with me and Jackson. Logan my first wife died in labor with Maddie, I wanted to be there to support my brother I know that type of anxiety that can happen. I’m not sure if that disappoints you or not that I’m not quite the evil person everyone makes me out to be at times. I knew that he didn’t need that stress on him I wanted to help.” Chauncey said looking at her and seeing the genuine shock on her face, he hadn’t ever told a lot of people about Logan he wasn’t even sure he had ever told Greer about her either. It was also true he had meant it about Jackson and trying with his family it was something he had promised Maddie. “I hope you do know that I didn’t invite Greer there I had no idea that she would show up let alone stay with Dani’s buffoon of a cousin. I don’t think anyone thought that Zerick Westwood or whatever his last name is running his mouth would start tanking the company.” Chauncey said moving to the back of the lounge seat in the room and placing the coat that lay on it on. She was still looking at him and he wondered if maybe overtime this could be beneficial to them both maybe this was what he needed, of course they each had their reasons and motives this was also a relationship that didn’t start out with the lies that had been told like they had with Greer. “I want you to know that I can’t promise that we won’t see Greer from here on out around especially with the wedding coming up. Thank you for doing this for DGI and our future.”

“Not that seeing Tristan is something special, in fact I don’t want to. However this will hopefully return some of the luster that DGI has been stolen. To regain those contracts could be the start of repairing public damage to the company. I hope you all are about to ask your father to step down as CEO and distance yourselves from him.” Natasha purred as she looked at his face. “Chauncey I know this isn’t what you want to hear. I’m not trying to break apart the family to get the company to be fair all I care about is SandStar and I want it back in my control. I just know that for this company to survive this scandal you all may have to distance yourselves from Lowell. I just hope he understands you all have the proxy vote him out of the CEO spot to save the company he’s built until his name is clear. I’m not saying that you have completely gone have him behind the scene but you need a interim CEO for the business. That should be you and you should spearhead Rory’s app for revenue.” Natasha looked at him in the eyes. “Do you think you can be the villain and the hero again? Broach it with your siblings together you all make the choice but I think it’s what has to be done and I’m not trying to be Greer. I’m trying to tell you as a partner what we can do against the onslaught that’s coming at DGI. I ran my father company and I know for a fact that I can continue to help it thrive and grow. DGI though this could destroy the company.”

Chauncey looked at her as she told him that she expected him to turn on his father and then his mouth almost fell open. She couldn’t be serious at the moment. He was barely on good standing again with his parents he couldn’t even so much whisper about outing his father right now. Not only that he doubted his siblings would back it or hell maybe some of them would it was hard to gauge where they all stood on the stance of the rumors right now. None of it had been proven it was delusions of his aunt passed down to her clearly deranged son nothing more and nothing less. SandStar was a part of the company a part that was tied effectively to his brother’s hands as he saw fit at the moment, outing his father wouldn’t change that. He understood why she wanted to cause a stir at DGI and then to try and take her company back but they had to be smart about it at the moment. He knew the board was not going to budge they wouldn’t’ simply oust his father without concrete proof of wrongdoing and right now there was none. Hell they didn’t even blink when he did shit in the past so it was hard to say that if they weren’t even going to do that if he did rape his aunt.

“I can’t actually just walk into a board meeting and try to oust my father especially right now, I just barely got into his good graces again. I am still under his watchful eye and if I so much as make a move against him with the board right now until we know the truth you can kiss ever seeing SandStar ever again.” Chauncey said fixing his tie and seeing her sneering at him and he walked to her placing his hands gently on her shoulder. He was never sure how to react around her they had agreed their engagement and soon to be marriage was just that one of convenience for the both of them, she was a good lover but he wasn’t a complete jerk either. “Pouncing now plays into this narrative that I’m willing to just roll over to what I want when I need it. It is exactly what Jackson and the rest of my siblings want. I do that right now without proof of my father’s guilt it puts us ten maybe even twenty steps back from you getting what you want. Me and SandStar and us taking over both companies. You know if we had a little more time before this meeting. I could show you what you can look forward too again, the same thing that had you screaming my name earlier.” He said leaning down to kiss her lips and then pulling back. “Be patient.”

Looking up at him through her mirror and she held a icy glare and a even colder expression. “Be realistic.” She said pointedly at him with enough ferocity in her voice to stop him. “I’m not going to sit here and watch my company be destroyed because you aren’t man enough to step up. I’m a board member and I know many others are thinking the very same thing. That isn’t insider trading that’s facts. Now look at it in my eyes Chauncey if you aren’t thinking your father guilt that’s wonderful. If we are proven wrong then I’ll be patient but in the era of men being exposed for sexually assaulting women over and over again. Then this looks another narrative of the same and I for one don’t want my legacy associated with a rapist. Now if it is the truth you all need to be grownups and dethrone the king of the castle. It’s just that simple. If it’s proven that Zerick is your brother then you need to plant seeds in their heads so it won’t be like your idea.” Natasha stood up knowing he wouldn’t agree until the truth came out.

“I know that you are in a vulnerable place with your family Chauncey but you are the pragmatic one. Your father legacy is more important than letting him live out his last days in a CEO position. Now soon the board will remove him either way so be ready one of you will be CEO by the end of the year. This isn’t a statement but a fact Chauncey. One of you will be the head of DGI and I want it to be you. Now if you can’t handle this because of what happened with Greer I understand but I’m throwing my influence and weight in your corner. Thus me going to see Tristan now. I have to get you a win for the board because by the end of the year a temporary CEO will be appointed.” Placing down her makeup brush and turning her seat to look at him. “What do you want? Do you want to be the CEO because if so you have to tap into who you are and get the CEO position.”

“I am being realistic I am not going to take some psychopath that was raised by Forbes Montgomery of all people’s word over that of my father. You would not do the same if some random stranger came and accused your father of the same crime now would you? No your company be damned you would stand by him until proven otherwise.” Chauncey said looking at her he wasn’t that huge of a jerk to just lose his temper at the moment. But he had to wonder if the roles were reversed if she would be clutching her pearls so much. SandStar at the moment was one of the only positive things that DGI had going for it at the moment. He saw her place her makeup brush down and placed on his own watch so they could officially head out the door. “SandStar is safe at the moment Jackson is not going to let anything happen to his pet project of a company that he took from you. Almost fleeced it even had you of not been so prideful and went with what I offered you I would have at least gave you a fair split but instead you bottomed out for a board seat instead. You were emotional then.”

“If my father is guilty I have no intention of standing by his side Natasha I can forgive my father doing a lot of things like ousting his numerous business partners over the years, stealing the entire software that the company was founded on from Walter Fraiser, hell even sending Pierre LeClerq to prison but raping my aunt and having a child with her? What kind of a monster do you take me or the rest of my siblings for?” He said grabbing his wallet as he looked at her and her face. He wasn’t kidding about the accusations against his father if it were true they would deal with that when it happened and when it happened. If it were her father she would be doing the same he knew the board was going to be the board when push came to shove they would name someone if it wasn’t because of the Zerick accusations it would be from the diagnosis of his father’s illness. “I want the CEO position Natasha I feel it is owed to me but doing so to get that means swaying the board and they haven’t been happy with me since Greer or the CADMUS release. I have to be smart about how I play my cards with wanting the CEO position, I come in too strong they name someone else I come in too weak I look like a weakling. We should get going though our your dear friend Tristan will think we have forgot about our meeting.”

“Exactly I have a plane to catch and if we get this contract then we will break the image of you as the screw-up in the boards eye. As I told you either way your father will be ousted from his seat as CEO. I hope you understand this is business Lowell had a great run. The board sees it as this no matter what he’s losing this scandal if you look into his health he’d have to step down legally. It’s over for one of the business world’s most interesting men. However your legacy can begin today secure these contracts part two take over as CEO and push Rory’s app fund money into Jackson project and push your siblings projects before yours and I assure you yours will go before there projects.” Picking up her diamond and sapphire earrings she placed them in her ear and turned to him. Strutting to the closet she picked up a leather and lace trench coat, along with antique lace gloves. “Greer is a ugly mark but our marriage maybe needs to happen even faster than we thought. Reclaim the narrative on who you aren’t the guy who nearly destroyed DGI you are the man who built it from the flames.”

She slipped on her coat and Chauncey helped her inside as she tied it close. Placing her clutch underneath her arm. “I’m sorry I sound cold and calculating but my families legacy was SandStar and I trust that I will get it from DGI. I have a history to reclaim Chauncey and just like you I trusted someone else to guide my destiny. I am so happy that I can start the transition in the boards eyes and everyone else. We have to reform the image of you but that can appen hell Jackson is the perfect example. Look just so you know a few people are considering throwing his name in the ring against you. Chauncey he’s now your main rival and I want to tell you if we don’t do something he’ll be named CEO at the end of the year not you.” She walked downstairs and one of the concierge opened the door. As they walked out of the building and directly into the limo. “Tonight is going to work Chauncey.”

Chauncey didn’t answer her as they entered the limo and shut the door he only hoped that tonight would be the restart of restoring DGI. They were under so much scrutiny thanks to Zerick’s claims and even Greer’s at the party. People were pulling out of DGI and the only thing the company had at the moment that was pulling it in a direction to go back up was Rory’s app and the merger with SandStar that hopefully wouldn’t bankrupt them before it got started. So tonight he would put on his best face and act like the dutiful son that was going to marry Natasha to get the contracts back to save his father’s legacy.


Aspen and Rory had spent the day at Rendard’s for once it was fun being with a rich boyfriend. He refused to let her pay for anything. It was actually alarming how much of a gentleman he was. She didn’t like that stunt Jackson and Dani pulled with Yasmine and Rory being the twins godparents. It made her feel like she was in a fantasy all those bags in the limo. She even bought him a Rolex and diamond earring. They had to look amazing for the launch for the app and she’d be right by his side. Beginning to braid her hair she held up her finger as he held out his hand. Stepping out of the limo she smiled at Hotel LaGordia. It was a staple in Atlas falls the rich and powerful all came here. He was taking her here he was declaring her his girlfriend in front of high society. “I’m starved and how about this dinner on me because I want to treat you. Matter fact after all the shopping we just did I think I want to cater to you. We did go to La Pearla so I have something very very very sexy to wear and I can’t wait to see you take it off.” She said placing her clutch underneath her arm.

Walking into the candle lit bar a sultry blues singer sang into their ears invoking the voice of Billie Holiday. Removing her mink shawl she looked at Rory and smiled. “Your app is almost launching baby are you nervous this is years in the making and everything is coming together from the big fashion show with Val who I still can’t stand, to the music Ivan is hot hehas a viral hit, and now your app is the last piece. This is going to be a big deal everyone in the music industry is buzzing and I have my sources being a Harvard dropout gives me clout.” She said teasingly. “I’m sorry about the entire fight and we never talked about it but I don’t hate Yasmine she just is the last girl you cared about and I can be jealous.”

Rory was for the first time in a long time just enjoying the stages of a new relationship he had been mad at the fight at the hospital but he was the one to blame for it not the two women who had done it. They hadn’t really discussed the move his brother had made with Dani about being a godparent to his niece and nephew but he knew she wasn’t happy about it. It wasn’t like he and Yasmine would be raising the twins or anything like that in that role. He had enjoyed being with her and even the shopping he hadn’t done that in a while so it was nice to get out and do that again, it was a nice distraction from his parents and everything else that was going on with them. He had made reservations at the restaurant as soon as he was ready to go out in public, it was good for them and the app, it would help the company and he smiled at her as she finished braiding her hair. He followed her inside and held out her chair for her and thens scooted her in before he took his seat as well, it was refreshing. He honestly didn’t know why he had not ever taken Yasmine there, they didn’t really have the time not to mention he was certain she would have stuck her nose up at it maybe.

“I’m not nervous or at least I don’t think that I am anyway, we’ve done all the pretesting that we can do on it and all the trials with the focus group say this will revolutionize the way social media is run. Not to mention it has been awesome working with Jamal on the launch to go along with Ivan’s album release, even if he is a little rough around the edges.” Rory said smiling at her as the waiter came and handed them their menus. He looked over at her the way the candles touched her face giving off a beautiful glow and he could just imagine how their night would go from here. “I know we haven’t talked about what happened with you and Yasmine and we probably should. I didn’t know that Jackson and Dani were going to ask us to be the godparents, but could you imagine them naming Chauncey. Listen I know you guys don’t get along but she’s clearly with Khalil now and we’re together. I think that is what matters now and what we should both focus on you know?”

“I agree.” She lied with ease as she smiled at him. Max had been texting her since the twins birth no way did she want to see her baby brother with that stripper tart. She grabbed a bottle of wine and poured them two glasses as she took a deep breath. No matter what she saw it, that look she’d waited her entire life for a guy to look at her like. Rory looked at Yasmine with that type of love but today showed her she had a chance. Today was blissful, they were a couple that people saw and gawked at. They were stunning together and she felt the power of being with a Devonshire and today was just what she thought. The only problem was Yasmine and that nagging feeling of her lurking in the background. If Khalil and she did not make it she had doubts that Rory wouldn’t be there to lick her wounds. She was insecure about her place in Rory’s life and she’d do anything to cement it. “I understand the entire godparent thing but I just was taken back with her there and everything but like you said we all have moved on.” Aspen tugged on her Chanel babydoll dress from underneath the table.

“I have a suggestion that tonight we go to my condo and enjoy the rest of the evening after a great dinner. So toast to a amazing app launch, and being the company of an amazingly stunning woman like myself.” She raised her glass and knocked it against his as she looked up and saw him smiling at her. She picked up the menu and rubbed her leg against his underneath the table. Kicking off her shoe she let her foot rub his thigh and when she got to his penis she felt him swelling in excitement. Pulling the menu down she giggle as she looked at him then the color from her face drained. She felt completely scared because there she was. Her mother the most striking woman all these years later. She had just come into her beauty but her mom had always been so beautiful. She felt less just looking at her condescending expression with a drop of disappointment. “Rory just follow my lead my parents are a different breed.”

Blythe strutted in after getting a call her daughter was galavanting through Atlas Falls with Rory Devonshire. Randall informed her that she had transferred schools and the levels of disappointment was enough to make her hate that woman. Her eyes started to burn with levels of rage as she slowly strutted through the Hotel LaGordia restaurant. Poised as she stood raising her hand so that her daughter didn’t even have a chance to speak. “Good evening Rory, the stocks are rising because of that app. I voted for it to be first up and I’m highly impressed on what it is doing. The buzz is unprecedented like Facebook or Instagram. This is very good news for us all.” As she turned her head enough to show the disdain she had looking at her daughter. “You on the other hand have disappointed me in ways I don’t know how to measure. It’s sad that you don’t seem to have the integrity to follow through with Harvard a legacy in our family.” Blythe folded her arms.

“No Harvard, no trust fund because why would I reword mediocrity? You have failed me and your father for the last time Aspen. You are cut off and I hope you figure out how to live. I could care less if you are homeless. Did you think I wouldn’t find out you are fan of nose candy? You were expelled because of drugs? Are you insane Aspen? No matter it’s done and so is you using my families money for your despicable narcotic pleasure.” Blythe seethed as she looked at her daughter’s face. “You should know the truth Rory. Why my daughter is back in town. You should know the liar that is in your face and what she is doing. She is a manipulative liar and playing some game but do be careful we’ve ruined her.” Blythe stared at Aspen with contempt in her eyes. She almost detested her very own child now.

Rory stood looking at Blythe partly shocked at how she was acting with Aspen and the other part of him was looking at Aspen for her lies. He knew that she had left school but she had told him it was because a guy that dragged her into a mess not that she was out there using drugs. He didn’t think that Aspen was an addict or anything but on the other hand she had lied to him about why she left school. Looking over at her and then back at Mrs. Sinclair if she was even that anymore he felt severely out of place. He knew that things were hard right now on Aspen as her parents were going through a very public and nasty divorce and he could see people staring at their table. He waved off the waiter and his security detail as they approached and did his best polite and fake smile as he could at Blythe. He got that she was obviously upset with Aspen but she showed up to publicly humiliate her seemed so harsh.

“Hello Mrs. Sinclair. It is so nice to see you. I already let Aspen know that I would be covering our evening together. After all that is what a good boyfriend and respectable gentlemen would do.” Rory said seeing Aspen looking at him grateful for his words as he then looked back at her mother. He took a drink of is water eying her up and down it seemed in such poor taste to do this to Aspen even if she had deceived him about college. “I was so happy to have your backing on my app at the board meeting perhaps all this personal business could be discussed in private between you and Aspen later. Instead of here?”

Blythe stood silent for a second wondering if she had just embarrassed her daughter more than she should have. She was furious that she had screwed up Harvard. As she nodded her head looking at Aspen. “You are right Rory and since you seem to care about my daughter. I don’t think she addicted to drugs at all are you Aspen?” She knew exactly what happened and Aspen was foolish for letting a man take her place in Harvard. “I said what I said to show you something Rory. My daughter crafts grand stories because she’s always had an imagination. She also has a habit of fabricating the truth. So I suggest you watch your back, lies flow very easily out of her pretty mouth.”

Aspen gritted her teeth and knew she had to stop her mother’s tirade against her. “You know mom maybe if you weren’t the most judgemental bitch I know then maybe I would get to know what I was going through. I loved him and he lied and I just couldn’t be at that school with him. So was it horrible to get away from a bad guy? Sorry that I could have stayed in a very verbally and mentally bad relationship but I got away before it turned physical. So I’m thousands of miles away and I need that but mom you don’t even ask me what happened. You just talked to people and assumed. I’m always a failure in your eyes.” Aspen looked at Rory and closed her eyes. “Why can’t you just love me and not be so cold.”

“No you happen to be quite the convincing liar.” Blythe stopped as she thought about the first time she held Aspen and that stunning little smile on her face. “I had such high hopes for you Aspen. I apologize for interrupting your night Rory and Aspen I expect you at Thanksgiving dinner not with your father. Don’t disappoint me again dear.” Gulping she never felt connected to her very own child and she knew why. As she turned around she looked back at Aspen. “I hope you know the most harsh thing I say is driven from the love I have for you. I choose to believe that you can be the most at anything in life but you have to go for it.” Blythe walked away and nearly hyperventilated due to sins and secrets. Opening her compact mirror she quickly began to fix her makeup in her eyes. Then she saw Forbes behind her walking into Hotel LaGordia. She snapped her compact closed and rushed away.

Aspen sat silent for a few moments. “I don’t do drugs. She knew that but she had to come over here and make a scene. That’s my mother she’s hyper judgemental about my entire life. I was serious he was a jerk and the first guy I gave my body to. I was a virgin when I met him and he just was this intellectual. I thought we were going to spend our lives together and I was tricked. I saw my father cry and that helped repair my parents marriage. Seth begged for my help and I just wanted to be different from them. The fights and arguments and I thought we were that exception until he begged me to take the drug charge. Thank God my grammy isn’t a bitch because I’d have a coke charge on my record. She cleaned this up from Austria. Rory I’m sorry I lied I just didn’t want to seem like a victim. I didn’t want to be that girl.” She said softly as she tapped her finger on the table. “So if you are done with my lying broke ass I understand.”

Rory watched Blythe leave and the awkward silence that overcame them and the whispers when it came to what was going on. He wasn’t mad at her or anything like that it happened sometimes you get caught up in college. He was more irked that she felt the need to hide everything from him things could have been so much more different between them. Instead he was here questioning what was going on in his life if Aspen was using him. He knew it was terrible to have that in his head but it wouldn’t be the first person who cam after his family for money or fame. All she had to do was tell him the truth about why she left school including taking the fall for drugs and then tell him that she needed help covering with her family. It would have made so much more sense for his first meeting with Randall where he clearly knew it was a ruse. He leaned back in his chair as he looked at her and the waiter cautiously went ahead and filled their glasses.

“I’m not mad or anything like that Aspen at you, I’m just confused about all the lies. You could have just simply told me the truth about why you left school Without the games and the bullshit half truths so that I could have handled dinner with your dad the other night or even just now with your mom. I have enough money that we’re never going to run out from what I know so you having or not having money isn’t the problem Aspen.” Rory said looking at the menu then putting it down suddenly losing his appetite he had been the one to hold onto lies with Yasmine so maybe this was his payback for that. Regardless if he and Aspen were going to even have a chance at a relationship she had to start telling him the truth about what she was doing or about what she had done and he had to make sure that he didn’t let what happened with Yasmine happen with her. “We just got to start fresh you know if we’re going to make this work is all.”

“I just didn’t want people to know I was that girl. The girl who would keep silent and put herself on the backburner. Why would I give up Harvard? Everyone would question it but I never liked Harvard. It was always the type of place that made me feel like less of me. Then my parents marriage is crumbling it just seemed like I should be home. Hell all I knew was home and even after the big transformation I just wanted to be their for them both. She doesn’t love me though and I know that. Look at how she just attacked me and didn’t even care about what she was doing to me in front of the guy I clearly like. I lied because I came home to find my family and I’m scared that I’ll never find them. I’ll never find them because with a mother like her God who needs enemies.” As she ran her hand through her hair looking at Rory he was being so supportive. Wiping her eyes she felt herself becoming so emotional.

“Dad won’t cut me off and I’m sorry Rory this was so embarrassing and it was just like her to be jealous. You know what she told me when she heard I was dating you? There is no way that Rory Devonshire will dare date you. She thought you were too good for me. She’s always telling me how I’m not good enough.” She wiped her eyes looking at Rory. “Sorry this is good day ruined by me weeping and my psycho mommy crisis. Umm can you take me to my dads I’m going to talk to him about money and I guess it’s time to start working. I think I know exactly who to call.” She said smiling her mind thinking of Max. “I hope we can move past this asap it just was a bad situation and I didn’t want to tell you.”

Rory nodded his head at her as he took the check and paid while the staff got their coats, he wasn’t mad at her or anything like that. He got that she was likely embarrassed by her mom if anything he felt naive to her and what was going on. He had been so caught up with Yasmine and Khalil he never really stopped to ask what Aspen had been going on about when they started hanging out. He was so sure that it was just him wanting to escape what happened with Yasmine and hang out with Aspen again. He had glossed over her story about college because who wasn’t embarrassed by a guy or a girl in college? He walked her to his car and took her hand in his giving it a squeeze for support. Once they reached Randall’s he got out and walked her to the door leaning over to kiss her softly on the lips. “We’re okay alright talk to your dad and call me later.” He said before placing his keys back in his pocket and walking back to the car putting it in drive and deciding he needed a drive to clear his head.


Greer stood outside Olympus Bar as the wind crashed against her skin. It was starting to get bitterly cold in the states which she detested. Why couldn’t the Devonshire’s stay in Miami or California instead of this icy tundra of a wasteland. Rubbing her leather opera gloves together to stop the cold from infiltrating her hands. She saw Brock getting out of his pickup truck. She gasped shocked that he was wearing a suit and instantly was impressed. She knew he was much more of a jeans and t-shirt guy so to see him put effort in made her smile. Strutting in her Burberry trench coat, the wind was like a added effect. Due to her looking amazing underneath the restaurant lights. Playfully hitting him with her clutch she looked at him with her green eyes sparkling. Biting down on her lip she cleared her throat. “I hate to say this Brock but Olympus Bar was the place to go but tonight it looks mighty empty. It’s fine though we can go and have an amazing night with nobody here at all.”

Greer looked around the empty parking lot wasn’t like this place. Hell she visited it frequently with Chauncey so what the hell had happened? Taking his arm she saw a mischievous smile on his face. “Brock what’s going on? You look like the cat that ate the canary.” As Greer walked in she saw the entire restaurant was empty and not only that a staff of people stood there waiting on just them. She snickered as Brock looked proud and she felt amazement. Now men had done things just as grand but seeing it from a guy who was a fireman and had limited resources. She was impressed and she couldn’t help but smile even wider. “Brock this is amazing how did you do this?”

Brock had probably went above and beyond when he decided to do this for Greer as a date if anything his siblings would have rolled their eyes at it minutes Kelsey and if his cousin knew, he would never hear the end of it.  Instead he had did it without anyone knowing and it helped that he had been one of the contractors with the owner when they did the remodel a few years ago. He was now calling in that favor at the owner promised him anything that he needed in the future for the deal on the counters that he had been able to snag from his vendor. While he loved his public service job putting out fires when needed and saving people he also loved the manual labor of the construction business that he owned and operated. He got to set his own hours outside of his shifts at the firestation could work or not work it was his choice. He wasn’t tied to it for the rest of his life either and could if he ever moved start a new firefighting job somewhere else and take his business with him. He escorted her inside and had to smile at her excitement.

“Devonshire’s are not the only ones in town to know how to pull out all the stops when it comes to wooing a woman. I still have my secrets when it comes to this town and it just so happens I gave the owner a steep discount on the countertops when they did their remodel and in turn that has changed their business around since then. So I may of called in a favor or two.” Brock said escorting her inside to the single table that was waiting for them with champagne already in the bucket. He saw that she was touched by the gesture and he had thought about this move for a few weeks his cousin was past giving birth so what he did with his life didn’t really have anything to do with her at the moment. Not that it did before but she was too high risk and he was not going to be the cause of anything setting her off. “I know I’ve been a bit distant since the hospital and I wanted this to be special for you. I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed with this given everything that happened and then you surprised me at the hospital by I don’t know being cordial the entire time. So where would you like to start since I’m not even sure I can actually read half of what is on the menu here?”

“Well the Tete de veau is boiled cow head.” She said with a smile. “Or the Coq au vin is a braised chicken in a red wine sauce that is delectable. Andouillette is also a very acquired dish I’m not a fan of it for my palate. I believe the escargot and mussel with angel hair pasta. It’s the best dish here I can tell you that.” She couldn’t help but smile when he said she shocked him at the hospital. It wasn’t bad to be there when the sainted twins were born. As she grabbed the bottle of champagne on the table. “This is the Bollinger Les Vieilles Vignes Francaises a very expensive champagne from France. It’s one of my favorites it’s three hundred a bottle. As I see it being at the twins birth was easy. It was how your family looked at me was the problem. They hate me don’t they? I guess I can tell you a little more about me.” Greer paused as she looked at Brock.

“When I was a girl I lived with my uncle Harvey LeClerq. He was an amazing uncle and father figure growing up. Around my tenth birthday my father returned to my life. I was sent to boarding school and I guess that’s when I repressed all these emotions. I was trained on how to completely dismantle someone life. My father told me a story about how these people destroyed his life. I got wrapped up in it all and unfortunately you see what I’ve done. Brock I’m not a good person an I assuredly trained as human to make fatal flaws. If you are looking for perfection then I don’t want to disappoint you.” Exhaling she looked in his eyes. “I’m not a Dani or that Savannah girl so if you are looking for downhome I’m the worst thing for you.” Greer drank down her entire glass of champagne. “Self deprecating as always.”

“I think I’ll kindly stick to the pasta from the sounds of it. They look at you like that because let’s face it you’ve had it out for my cousin since last year. My mother and father would probably keel over if they found out I was having dinner with you my brother too. My sister sees it a bit differently and you showed me you could put aside what was going on with Dani to give her, her big day without a ton of drama between you too. That might go a long way to winning them over in the end.”  Brock said he wasn’t going to to gloss over how his family felt about her that didn’t seem fair to either of them. Kelsey had been the only one to remotely support it but even then she seemed wary and had warned him to watch his back with her. He looked at the bucket and saw her staring at him not sure if she was mad at him or not for his honesty/. “It cost a pretty penny but I thought this was worth it. It seems like a man has never really taken you on a proper date from the sounds of it. I’m not saying my family are going to be Leave it to Beaver with you or anything like that but what you did at the hospital will go a long way.”

He saw the waiter approach and pointed to the menu since he couldn’t even pronounce what it was and then held up two fingers. Everyone thought that she was so cold but he honestly liked this side of her more the vulnerable side. “That had to of been really hard for you growing up with your uncle and waiting for your father to come back only to send you away when he did. Boarding school sounds like it was a chore. I have a feeling that maybe when you were done your father started to make you do this do what earn his love?” Brock said he knew that she wasn’t a good person but he did believe that people could change and become better people if they wanted. That was something he felt pretty strongly about if she didn’t have anything good in her she would have went running back to Chauncey and then would have came to the hospital with him and caused a scene and she didn’t. “I don’t think you are Dani or Savannah for starters you’re prettier than Savannah. Second you and my cousin may have things in common with each other like shitty fathers but your journey’s are a bit different you know? You had no one other than to lean in him it sounds like. Dani has always had and always will have her family.”

The waiter brought out a french red cabbage salad. Placing them in front of them she started to pick over her food. “Me and your cousin are nothing alike. I could never do what she did. She’s a mother and I don’t think it’s a maternal bone in my body. Children are for some women but not me. We may have similarities in our fathers but that’s it. Dani will never forgive me and do I blame her no. Me however I’m vindictive but I’m not someone who will hold onto things forever. In my opinion Dani and I aren’t over by a long shot. I don’t want it to be like that but I have a distinct feeling if I continue to pursue you then she’ll do whatever it is to stop it.” As she took a bite of her salad and saw he was smiling at her. “As for your family I also could care less to be fair they also have a reason to hate me loyalties and all. I just know I’m not trying to lay with any of them besides you. So I’ll win them over eventually.” Sipping her champagne she smiled at his compliment about her beauty. Savannah was reigning Ms. Pennsylvania and to hear that was amazing. “My childhood was unique and to be honest I wouldn’t change it. I had a stable life but I just don’t think it’s what I deserve. Sometimes I do have to admit I’m jealous of Dani. She has the perfect life a man who adores her and built her own family. That is commendable.”

Greer slowly looked at him. “I know you had the perfect childhood right? You were the eldest and football star right? What happened? You went from football to firefighting? I heard you were quite arrogant back then. I do my research but I never could find out what happen. So golden boy how did you go from the QB to the fireman slash construction worker?” Greer said she had found out that he had a lucrative not rich but lucrative business in construction. She was liking that she was finding a relationship with someone that her father hadn’t arranged for her. This wasn’t planned and they could just talk so long. He also was really interested in who she was and seeing her truly change. “Either way I find it interesting that you went from town golden boy to town’s even more golden boy because you are a firefighter.”

“She’ll likely get upset out it if anything but on the other hand I could call her out for the very same thing with Jackson. Everyone told her he was evil and terrible and you know what he proved everyone wrong even with all the shit that happened last year. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a right to feel that way about you but us Fraiser’s we always make our own choices.” Brock said he was an adult and his cousin was an adult and if Dani couldn’t be an adult about it that was on her. That didn’t mean that he didn’t care about her or love her nor that they weren’t family anymore either. It just meant that he was a grown ass man and the rest of his family could suck it up and wait and see if he was right or wrong about Greer. They were all judging her without getting to know her reasons or letting her grow and amend her mistakes, he took a bite of the salad and almost grimaced it was not his type of food. “I think as long as you keep out of Dani’s crosshairs and she keeps out of yours they’ll come around. I’m an adult Greer I make my own choices and for now I want to see where this goes.”

“I wouldn’t call it perfect but it was pretty great my family had to adjust after Lowell cut out my uncle. My mom and dad were strapped with student loans that he was planning on paying off for them. Thankfully we all pulled together and they got the Pub going, my mom became a top tier nurse hence Kelsey going to medical school. My dad helped my uncle at the pub on and off, it was good.” Brock said finishing the rest of his salad as she asked why firefighting it was a touchy subject for him but he remembered it clear as day. He and Braden had gotten done with a baseball game and their uncle was driving home only to come back to his cousin’s house that was still empty. A phone call later and his uncle was driving them to the crash site and he remembered the gnarly car, the flashing lights and looking at the firefighters pulling his aunt from the car, them working on little Victoria. “I was about eleven maybe younger don’t get me wrong I love football always have it was fun to do it. My uncle picked me and Braden up from a baseball game because my mom was working late and Dad had a shift at the bar. I was going to stay the night at their house Kelsey and Zach were with us to. My aunt had promised homemade pasta sauce when we go there she wasn’t there. My uncle got a call and we came upon the wreck. I watched them save my aunt and Dani from the car work on her and Victoria, watched as my little cousins body floated to the bottom of the lake and the only thing I thought of was that is what I want to do. Save someone else.” He stopped looking at her his family knew why he did it and now she did too, maybe it was the kid in him he could have been an NFL superstar if he wanted but for him if any family never had to go through what he ever did again if he could spare even one it would be worth it.

Greer had heard the story of Victoria and how she died and hearing about it first hand and how it affected him well that was sadder than she initially thought. As the waiters returned with their food she felt a sudden urge to reach out to him. Taking his hand she knew that Victoria was the crowning moment of destruction for Walter and Lauren. Losing that kid was tragedy for them all and she could see the pain drizzled through the entire family. She only had her uncle and father she wondered what it was like to have cousins and family members. For some reason when the waiter left she picked up her napkin and wiped her eyes. She couldn’t believe it but that was sweet. He left his dream behind to help people and not only that but seeing him so selfless. She didn’t understand it but she understood that he was a good man. Something she had never had before. “I’m sorry that was strange I don’t usually cry but I just think that’s amazing you placed your dreams to the side because you wanted to help others. I’ve never been that type too selfish. I’d run someone over to get what I want.” She stopped as she looked at him. “I think learning how to be better just being around you. That is the truth after all I’ve been rotten my entire life. Maybe it’s time to do something different.”

She looked at him and smiled. “This is a great dinner and I haven’t even dug in. I feel like I’m getting to know you a lot more. So the Fraiser’s aren’t all wet-blankets. You all have some balls which is shocking considering that I thought you all sort of just did what mom and pop said. It’s funny I think that you all are sort of rebels against what your family have done. Dani went against your family for Jackson and Zach because of his sexuality and from what I see Kelsey is the same thing. I admire the Fraiser’s in a way but I guess blindly I went after you guys. I do know that your uncle purposely sent my father to prison as a way to get back at my uncle. Lauren was the apple of my uncle’s eye and he loved her deeply. After dinner would you like to go on a carriage ride? I saw it downtown and I thought it was cool to learn the local attractions more. Since I plan on staying in Atlas Falls and around you much more often.”

Brock had gotten emotional when he spoke it was a tough subject for all of them they barely spoke about it. It destroyed his aunt and his uncle, both his cousins and how they viewed the world and relationships they were really never the same after that. Sure they all put bandaids on it when it was brought up but the only way he knew to heal when he got older was to make sure another family didn’t have that Victoria moment. He smiled at her as she grabbed his hand knowing it probably wasn’t something she did often. “It’s fine it was just that moment for me if I could spare anyone else what my family went through I could. Since then I’ve saved so many people, ran into burning buildings, delivered babies on the highway you name it. I also get to do the other thing I love on the side in work like what you see here. It’s slow and steady when the firehouse isn’t busy, it pays pretty decent and it lets me be close to my family. Football would have been fun but it wasn’t want I was meant to you know? I was meant to do what I do now and that feels pretty damn amazing.”

“I don’t blindly say or really do what they want when my parents learned I wanted to be a firefighter they about died but that was more they were worried for my safety. They eventually came around to the idea and honestly my mom she was so damn proud. Kelsey and Zach it was the same they accept who they are and the choices we make. My uncle doesn’t really talk about his time at DGI it’s a pretty sore spot so I can’t really judge him or your father on that.” Brock said it was the truth he wondered if it could be true his uncle could often be a hypocrite when needed and often was it was a flaw. One he could live with he supposed that was on his uncle not him nor was it on his uncle’s children or he and his siblings. He got her anger though family banded together. “I don’t know if he did that but if he did he was probably in a bad place I won’t make excuses for him if that is what you want me to do.” He said finally digging into the food which wasn’t that bad and he looked up at her a bit surprised when she said she wanted to leave and go on a carriage ride, it was probably the most romantic thing he had ever hear come out of her mouth. “Sure if you want too. So what was school like you know after boarding school? I skipped the whole college thing.”

“College was a learning curve because I was in two schools. The daytime I was a college student learning economics and then by night I was learning Atlas Falls. I didn’t have the normal college life, I was researching history of the first families in town. The legacies that they hold and have in Atlas Falls. Then I learned all of your families weaknesses. Points of access and I tried to find out how to hurt each of the founding families of Atlas Falls. Your uncle buried my father because of my uncle loving your aunt. It’s ironic isn’t it? Now we are talking and dating each other. Anyways after the meal I might have a surprise for you.” She said looking in his eyes with a dark mystery that her daddy called her mother. Tapping her nails she bit her bottom lip.  “Boarding school was harder though. I was a kid and people knew what my father did. It wasn’t a secret in Europe and they teased me. I eventually became the queen bee by fighting and showing that I wasn’t scared to attack first and think of the consequences later. I had quite a temper which hasn’t changed. I can be downright vindictive to those I deem as weaker or someone who could hurt me. Like Natasha she was in my way and I just bulldozed over her. Well we gave it good to each other but the point is. Boarding school is painful experience to feel unwanted.” Greer sipped her champagne.

“Can we talk about something else less depressing that your dead cousin and my sad lonely rich girl upbringing? Thanks.” She smirked as she saw him smiling. Moving the food around her plate. “I want to skip desert, I think that carriage ride through Atlas Falls is sounding like the perfect way to end a exceptional night. Plus I have a snatched waistline no way am I going to lose it to French cuisine.” She said taking another bite with a small smile. “I’m feeling optimistic that we are going to have lots of time to enjoy desert.” Licking her finger seductively as she smiled. “I’m so enjoying this with you.” She reached out her hand to him. “Thank-you.”

“To no more talks about college and being sent away to boarding school it is then. I have to say at least it sounds more exciting than girls creaming your name on Friday nights and pointless cliques. At least you had the mystery behind it. You had to stand on your own when you did it and there was no one there to hold your hand or guide you that had to take a lot of strength.” Brock said as he then dug into his food the main course was for sure better than the appetizer that they had earlier. He was fascinated by Greer and her upbringing likely because it was so different than his own and sure she was kinda a bitch to his cousin but he had seen good in her, he didn’t think that she was evil or anything like that. She was just different and from the sounds of it she had no positive influences in her life growing up so she didn’t know how to act when someone really cared about her. “We could talk about that atrocious hockey game the other night but I take it you are not a Penguins fan. Like I can’t exactly see you swinging back a few rounds on tap on an ice cold arena bowling was like as far as you will probably go. Which I’m okay with.” Brock said flashing her a grin trying to lighten the mood between them after discussing Victoria and  her past.

Brock watched her as she ate and commented on her waistline women did that a lot and it drove him insane had the woman looked in the mirror she was gorgeous. Plus girls in his family ate and ate a lot. He wondered or a moment if she reminded him of anyone it was Lucy to a degree and he wondered why he didn’t mention her to Greer. It wasn’t like it was some secret in town that Lucy was serving a sentence in prison for tax evasion. “I have a feeling we’re going to be sharing quite a few desserts after this. I was intimidated to take you out here since I have no idea how French culture let alone cuisine works.” Brock said handing the waiter his plate as they began to clear the table and he said no thank you to dessert. He walked to her chair helping her out of it as he saw the owner wave to him as they got their coats. He held the door open for her as he placed on his mittens and made sure that she was bundled up from the cold before walking with her towards the center of town where the carriage rides were, thankfully they were only a few blocks away. Once he spotted a carriage he held up his hand for it to stop and wait. “After you and be forewarned I am scared shitless of horses. If I cower the entire ride that is why, I can run into a blazing building on fire but horses scare the shit out of me.”


She had filed her last paper of the day for Philip and was almost done preparing for the board meeting tomorrow. Mr. Montgomery was absolutely determined to take on DGI and tomorrow he’d release his strategic plan. To be fair she wasn’t happy that Forbes Montgomery was coming after DGI that would displace so many different families and jobs. DGI was the heart of Atlas Falls and destroying it could destroy this town. If he had a heart he’d think twice but judging her bosses wasn’t her job preparing for this move was. As she walked to the coffee pot she poured her a cup of the steaming black joe. Taking a deep sip she exhaled working here was far less stressful than the hospital. Plus the added desire of taking a extra pill wasn’t there. Walking to her desk in the office she heard a knock at the door. Exhaling she hoped it wasn’t Philip saying she had to do anything else. Dylan cast was coming off soon from that unfortunate fall when he was at the lake a couple of weeks ago. He was more than ready to play lacrosse again. Which she couldn’t blame him a underclassmen getting on varsity was a big deal.

Walking to the door she saw Dimitri Kavanaugh standing before her. She knew who he was because she made it her business to know exactly who Selina was with. No offense she didn’t trust that woman as far as she could throw her. Biting down on her lip she felt the urge to scream for some reason. How awkward was this? Hi, I’m Tamara your current fiance, ex-husband who is my son’s father and I’m dating. “Hello, how can I help you?” Tamara said as she walked to Philip office turning off the light. It had been two weeks and she was learning the lay of the land at MontCorp. “I believe Mr. Montgomery is out but how can I help you? I can leave a message.”

Dimitri had made sure over the last few weeks that Selina knew her place and now that she did it was time for him to stop letting her control where the crown and his deal with MontCorp went. Of course it meant coming to deal with that arrogant immobile brat Philip because Forbes was too busy but it didn’t matter. Soon it would all be worth it in the end, he would have his coop and his father would be off his crown and Bliss well his dear old ex would come around if she ever wanted to see their son again. Selina would ensure that a court here in the states would give him custody and if she didn’t, well he had his resources that could make sure the Delacroix’s would be wiped off the face of the earth. Once inside Montcorp he made his way towards Philip’s office and then opened the door stunned at the blonde before him. Pretty with gorgeous lips and eyes, she was exactly his type he had one afterall. Blonde, leggy and worth every single fuck he ever had. He knew exactly who she was he made a point to know about the men that Selina had fucked, Tamara. Drug addict, Braden’s current flavor of the month or year and mother to Dylan.

“I know who you are Ms. Wright I do make it a point to know everyone in town especially someone as lovely as you. I was actually looking for Philip but perhaps you could help me instead?” He could tell that she was nervous around him something that always happened with women and he knew why they all wanted the crown and what came underneath it or at least in his pants. For now he knew that he would have to tread carefully with her when it came to that, she was afterall at MontCorp and she was with the district attorney again. She was built for the bedroom though he could tell by the way her legs were slightly parted and he had to flash her his best smile to ease her nerves the time would come. “Philip was supposed to have some contracts ready for me to sign so that the crown could fight the rebels, MontCorp was going to supply those weapons as part of an agreement. I was just stopping by to see if he had them so that I could sign them in person. It is a quite important matter.” Dimitri said it was partially true but if it meant watching her bend over slightly to look it was worth it. “Could you possibly look for me? I know it is late and I of course don’t want you to be late getting home to your family.”

“I absolutely can help you with that.” She said calmly as she walked to the files as she walked to the computer and began to print up the documents. As she bit down on her lip she saw him undressing her with his eyes. It made her completely uncomfortable as she walked to the printer. “As for my family I can do this without being late for my son getting his cast off his leg. I have those contracts for you.” She placed them in the manila envelope as she passed them to him. “I have to ask you are engaged to Selina Delacroix and I think that’s the only way you could know exactly who I am. Listen I don’t want any drama with one of my bosses associates. That’s honestly not what I want.” Tamara became slightly more uncomfortable with how he was looking at her. “I have to say I hope Selina is very happy because she deserves it. It has been a long road for her and I. As a woman I can wish her the best and you seem like a interesting character.”

As she saw he wasn’t leaving. She grabbed her purse and jacket out the closet. Tamara wished he caught the hint she was trying to leave. She’d done the mature thing wishing Selina and Dimitri the best. Now it was uncomfortable. “I think you have your contracts Mr. Kavanaugh is there anything I can do for you. I think that all you came for so if you don’t mind I’m going to lock up Mr. Montgomery office.” Walking past him she felt a chill. Shaking off the feeling as she looked at him. “Good-evening.”

“Thank you so much Ms. Wright.” Dimitri said giving her the best smile he could. She was anxious around him which he found flattering those moments when women really wanted you and played hard to get. He kept his cool though he still needed MontCorp for the weapons to aide the takeover on the throne for now he would have to woo her the old fashioned way with charm and wit. She would fall for him just like all the others had over the years and see things his way, he took the file and tapped his against his hand a few times as she spoke about his engagement to Selina. He could tell it was still a sore spot for her and clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth to add a little bit of flair when he spoke the next words. “I am sure Braden was so tore up about how she left you must have been so eager to step back in? At first I wondered if it was all a ruse between her and I you know that she wouldn’t run back to him or he wouldn’t chase her down. I suppose I have you to thank for that? Keeping him occupied here?”

“I was thinking of showing my gratitude for him signing the divorce papers so quietly and quickly when we returned I could donate a large sum to the preparatory academy I know Dylan and Madeline go there. I am just so glad that I will be able to be with Selian without wondering if Braden is going to pop back into the picture. She and I plan on returning back to my country of course when all the drama calms down with the civil war at home with my son.” Dimitri moved to the doorway unlocking it seeing her jump a little when he entered her space he saw Selina walking towards them down the hallway and smiled at her and her long pants and sleeves it was fall now so no would know and she would know to speak of anything well it would be a lot worse than what was going on at home. “Hello my dear Tamara and I were just getting to know each other weren’t we?”

“I think that you should not suggest that I’m some placement holder for Selina with the man that I’m in love with. We are very happy and I hope you are the same. I can’t seem to fathom why you seem to think that we care about your happiness? That’s the furthest thing from our mind but I want you know that Selina isn’t a bad woman. I think she is very good woman but she doesn’t deserve my husband. Furthermore I am the mother of Braden son and we are a family so don’t you dare say anything less.” Tamara said as she turned to lock up the office. Hearing Selina’s heels approaching she saw her looking absolutely stunning. She always had a regal appearance and somehow she insecurely felt less than. Look at her she understood why Braden loved her because she was so perfect. Every hair in place, and every inch of her body making her know she was good enough.

“Selina.” Tamara said looking at the other woman who didn’t have that normal sparkle in her eyes. “Yes, your fiance is very interesting.” Tamara adjusted her purse. “He was just insinuating that my relationship was a nice placement fr you. I just have to wonder if you two are so happy why is he making me so uncomfortable and you are a princess or queen shouldn’t that be enough?” Tamara questioned as she saw Philip approaching with a intern. As she tightened her grip on her briefcase she charged away.

Selina stood silent as she looked at Dimitri disgusted. “I would rather you leave all of them alone. Please Dimitri, that family has been through enough. I love Braden and I am asking no pleading and begging that you leave Braden and Tamara alone. The kids and I just can’t handle if anything happened to them Dimitri. Do you understand me? I swear that if anything happened to them then I just might not make it.” Selina said in a exhausted tone. Licking her lips she saw how pissed she was making him just asking a request. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to speak out of turn. I just don’t know when to speak at all.” Selina said with a malice dripping from her words.

Dimitri watched Tamara walk away that pretty little ass swinging back and forth the hint of blonde on her shoulders and then turned to Selina, seeing her fear. He looked around the hallways before he made his move pinning her against the wall seeing her starting to shake. This is how a woman should be around him, around the crown fearful of his power. “You should be lucky my dear you’ll get your precious crown, power and wealth. You won’t ever mention him again or you know what will happen. I’ll make sure to take what is most important to you or worse. So from now smile shut up and accept your role for what it is, what you were dreaming out with me on the island. Because that is all you will have left, what I say you will.” He released her arms seeing her wince knowing the marks that covered her body from the last time she spoke out against him. He turned to walk down the hallway looking back at him. “Compose yourself my dear no one likes a monarch that isn’t in control.”

Tamara dug through her purse and must have left her cellphone during the commotion with that completely creepy man. She got a chill as she turned around to retrieve her phone she froze when she saw Dimitri pinning Selina to the wall. The look on the great Selina Delacroix face made her shiver down her spine. She was afraid and the look in his eyes was so evil. Quickly turned around she took a deep breath. Was Selina being abused? For a brief moment she swore the woman saw her staring shocked. She turned the corner for a few moments when she heard a loud gasp for air she turned the corner and walked down the hallway passing him again. “Left my phone.” She said as she saw Selina wrapping her hands around her neck. Tamara walked to the door acting as she didn’t see a thing. As she saw Selina gasping. She walked to the water fountain and poured her cup of water then picked up her phone. As she walked to her passing her cup. “You don’t deserve that Selina.”

“Don’t.” She said looking in Tamara eyes. “Don’t tell Braden or anyone because this isn’t your business. He gets really stressed with the rebels and Bliss and custody of Fox. He has a lot going on and I really don’t have time to explain this to you.” She said opening he purse wrapping a scarf around her neck. As she looked at Tamara. “Stop looking at me like that. Please stop! I’m not an abuse victim! I’m not being beaten by a man who I thought loved me Tamara!” Selina said wiping her eyes. “I’m going to be a princess soon and all of you will see I’m worth something more than DGI and being Braden wife. I’m fine, I’m okay and I’m going to be so happy Tamara. Just like you and Braden.” She said said hyperventilating as she looked at Tamara.

Tamara lips quivered as she turned her head. Pinching the bridge of her nose and wiping the corners of her eyes. “You are in danger Selina and I don’t know why you are choosing to say in this but what I just saw. God I didn’t think you were weak at all but that has to be the weakest thing I’ve ever seen you do. You aren’t this woman Selina and I going to say something to Braden. You are being physically and mentally abused how he spoke to you!” Tamara leaned in and grabbed Selina hands pulling her into a hug. “Oh my God, Selina please leave.”

“Stop please Tamara.” She said as she melted into Tamara arms bawling. “I can’t go. He’ll hurt everyone I love. Maddie, Braden, Dylan and even you. He’ll hurt my family so I can’t go. I can’t.”

Tamara just rocked Selina as she buried her head into her shoulder. Looking down her back was black and blue. As she rubbed her back she slowly wiped her eyes. “I’ll keep your secret for now but we have to find a way for you to get out promise me. Promise me Selina!”

Selina looked up and saw a royal guard. “I have to leave, pardon me Tamara for that outburst of emotion.” Selina rushed off with Paul as two other guards appeared quickly escorting her to the limo where Dimitri was waiting for her.


Lauren pulled her hair into a ponytail as she looked at Jackie sleeping on the couch. The new parents were upstairs sleeping while the twins were out like a light. She knew that they needed a few things in the house. Plus she wanted to paint Jackie, Dani, Jackson and the twins. A supply run was needed as she quietly snuck out of the house she was relieved when she didn’t awake anyone. Walking down the driveway to her car she got inside and began to drive. She hated to drive around semi trucks ever since Victoria. Tonight was so clear and beautiful. Atlas Falls had beautiful winters and glorious summers one of the reasons the visitors always came back for more. She smiled thinking about her grandchildren they were precious and it was funny Jackson was going to get it back times two with Donovan. Being around Jackie was also a added perk catching up on each other was as if they’d never stopped being friends. The DNA test were coming back very soon and Katie had finally agreed to see her also. This was either going to change Jackie and Lowell life forever or strengthen them. Pulling up to the market she quickly grabbed her purse and felt her stomach drop. She was giving up The Pub and not only that she was giving up her life with Walter. Jackie had to feel the exact same way. If Zerick was Lowell’s son then she was walking away, shaking her head out of the thoughts. Lauren walked into the market.

Picking up eggs and a few other household items they needed she had a hankering for ice-cream and steered into the cooler. When she saw Randall standing there looking at ice-cream she smiled at him waving. That catfight between Aspen and Yasmine was nasty as hell she knew he was embarrassed and said as much. Walking to him she looked at the black walnut in his hand and shook her head. “I’m all for a classic flavor but you know what I’m living wild tonight. This looks interesting and a toothache and considering my grandbabies are so perfect I’m still celebrating.” She picked up a vanilla swirl with strawberries and brownie chunks. “How are you handsome?” Lauren said touching Randall’s shoulder.

Randall has spent the last few weeks finalizing his divorce from Blythe it was official now that and getting midterm papers corrected at school. The next few weeks would fly by like a blur as they had the last few years though there would no pretenses he had to keep up to play nice with Blythe. He hadn’t had the chance to really talk to Lauren or anything like that since the incident at the hospital due to the term at school. He hadn’t even talked to his daughter who he was disappointed in, getting into a brawl while another woman was giving birth almost effectively ruining the moment. Not only that he had yet to really believe her relationship with Rory even though she kept insisting that it was real. He smiled at Lauren as she reached into the cooler for the ice cream he had stopped by to get a few groceries, something other than take out. Not that his ex did any of the cooking and most of what they did do was eat out anyway, but he wanted to unwind now that the term was over and start the musings for his next novel.

“It’s so good to see you as well Lauren. I am so sorry I haven’t reached out after our last date. Things at school have been so busy with the end of the term and I know you have been so busy with your new grandchildren. Not to mention Aspen causing a scene at the hospital. I want to again apologize about that I don’t know what has gotten into her lately.” Randall said the apology was real the last part however was a lie that he told himself he had been mortified when Blythe had called to tell him what the real reason was that Aspen had left school. It wasn’t something that he was proud of and if the college found out he could only imagine what they would all think. He hadn’t asked how much of a payment Blythe had to make to Harvard to make sure that no one found out. “I was hoping that once things calm down a bit of course that you might want to attend the faculty Christmas dinner with me as my guest?”

It honestly took her back thinking about the Atlas Falls Preparatory Academy faculty dinner was a prestigious event. Last year Walter and she attended but this year was the first time she wasn’t Ms. Walter Fraiser and now just Lauren Cummings. She blushed a little as she looked at him nodding her head. “I think that would be amazing. I actually was thinking of donating some art there. I think that could be easily auctioned since it’s a tradition to bring something to donate in the silent auction.” Lauren smiled wider. “The holidays are almost upon us and it’s my first as a single woman in almost thirty-five years.” She said slowly walking out the ice-cream section. “Aspen is no different than the hundreds of other girls who have fought over a boy. Don’t be ashamed trust me it was a small moment in a really big day for two different families.” She pushed her cart looking at him.

“I have been really busy also. These last few weeks with Jackson and Dani have been great though. They are first time parents with twins which is a shocker to anyone. You don’t have one but two. You remember how it was when Aspen came home nonstop feeding, crying, and no sleep. They are being strong but Jackie and I see they are exhausted but super granny’s are to the rescue.” Lauren paused as she saw Randall expression when he mentioned Aspen. “She is quite lovely and smart girl. Whatever brought her home be grateful. Sometimes having your children close is amazing thing you know? I think she really needs you she didn’t come back to Atlas Falls for nothing.”

Randall looked at her and for a moment he felt a bit of a slice he never got to stay up with Aspen the first few weeks Aspen had been adopted when she was almost one. A tragedy really her parents had been killed in a terrible car crash, she was the only survivor. They had been trying for years to no avail and Blythe had discussed their trouble with her sister. Shortly afterwards his brother in law had stepped in and helped them with the adoption finding Aspen for them. He had been so elated that he even let him handle all the legal paperwork and fees, Blythe at first was excited as well. Over the years he wanted more children and she did not and their marriage slowly deteriorated from there. Something good had come of it he supposed he got an amazing young woman as his daughter even if she made mistakes when it came to college. He followed Lauren’s cart remaining silent for a moment as she spoke, he remembered a story though around town the accident that had taken her own daughter from her and didn’t want to dredge that up for her.

“I remember everything after she was one, we didn’t adopt her till about then. It was very private, we never met the birth parents. I always wished I had that with her so tell them to enjoy this time with the twins. Aspen was one of the only good things to come out of my marriage to Blythe.” Randall said seeing Lauren look at him as he continued to place more groceries in the cart on his way down the aisle. Pasta and sauce, ramen and a few others. He was never one to really cook Blythe had always proved that with the in house chef that she had picked out. It was all very different now though he was single she was in the house and he had found a lovely two bedroom condo that suited him near the college. The settlement had went through and his lawyer had encouraged him with the amount he got from the proceedings, he had got spousal support and a large lump sum in return she had gotten the house and most everything inside and she could not get the money from his books. “I am happy she is home now I just wish it was under better circumstances.”

“Sometimes our children surprise us. She might not been meant to be in Harvard but she is meant to be with her family during this trying time.” She’d heard rumors over the years that Blythe or Randall couldn’t conceive so when they turned up with Aspen it was shocking but she was happy for them. Now to hear that they thought a child was going to save their marriage it spoke to her deeply. Dani and Victoria were that but Victoria actually worked. She was truly fixing the cracks in her marriage and it was a sight to behold. As she walked past the colorful isle full of sugary snacks she resisted the urge to grab more junk. Dani was a health nut and no doubt those babies would be on special diets when they were older. She was so concerned with everything it was truly funny because she remembered how she was with Braden. It was the same thing when her daughter had another child she knew she’d be more lax and relaxed in the situation. Right now she was fighting through the fears and anxieties.

Looking over at Randall she leaned in and touched his shoulder. “Aspen is special I can see that. She has this fire and it’s very unique. I can tell she took a lot of Blythe but her heart has so much of you in it. The way she fought for Rory it was something. She isn’t scared and I wish I still had that. You know? That um fearlessness to be and do and say whatever I felt. Now I’m guarded and maybe she’s the mirror you both have neglected and now you have look at that reflection. She was so embarrassed and ashamed which she should be but you’re her father and Blythe is her mother. You two deserve to love her unconditionally through those quirks and flaws. She’s spirited and I often wish Dani had a little of that. She’s more of a girl you push against a wall and she’ll come out blowing things up. Now that she’s a mother I fully know that Dani will eat everyone up for those kiddies. Just give her time she’ll find her way.” Lauren said looking at him. “Randall will you go somewhere me after this?”

Randall placed his groceries on the belt as the cashier began to check them out she was right about the entire situation with Aspen and he paid as he placed the groceries in the cart. He had only met Dani a handful of times but he saw that she could be a bit of a hell raiser, if anything Dani reminded him a lot of her mother. “I may not know your daughter very well right now, but I do hope to change that I do enjoy spending time with you. I dare to even say dating you if that is not too forward of my of course. However from what I have seen she is strong and resilient, not to mention a bit of a hellraiser like you were when we knew each other in college. The Lauren I remembered never took crap from anyone and if she did, well she made sure they paid at the end of the day for messing with her. You as a parent should be very proud of that.” He waited while the cashier went ahead and rung her up and then placed her groceries in her cart. “I would love to go with you, where would you like to go?”

“Underneath the vidock where Kendrick was shot. These kids I have to find them and I want to find this one especially Valkillre she’s amazing they are Scottswood kids and I know you have a connection with the scholarship. I volunteered at the the local orphanage and children home. Whomever this Valkillre is and so many other of these kids in Scottswood. I want them in Atlas Falls Prep. I want them in that school because I think that all children deserve a chance. I think they all should and will get the opportunities that our children have because they deserve it. I’m hunting this kid down because her art skills are exceptional. I’m serious it’s amazing what she can do. Not only that Randall I want to show you that I think that we need some type of new program to get these exceptional kids. Like Yasmine the young lady that your daughter was fighting with. She is one of the most fluid dancers I’ve ever seen, it literally is like magic when I see her dance and when I see all the potential in Scottswood that is untapped. I think we are doing a disservice to humanity to let these artist fade into the darkness they are born in.” Lauren said softly she got in her car and begin to drive off with Randall. They weren’t that far from the mural in Scottswood.

“I care about a more inclusive world for my grandchildren to live in. I don’t want the separation between Scottwood and the upper crest. I have always been middle of the road and I think that these kids all deserve to shine so I’m going to Walter eventually or Hunter with a plan to rezone the schools so the Scottswood students will be able to Atlas Falls Prep and better schools. Along with that I want to close those damn schools down they are in piss poor condition to teach any of these kids.” She pulled up to the vidock where Kendrick was killed. Stepping out she saw the most stunning artwork in graffiti. “Look at this it’s beautiful and even though Scottswood has glorified a monster I have say the art is exquisite and I think these types of talent is right in the projects down the street. You see?” Lauren crossed her arms. “I have a plan to change the system of this city and if I have it my way the systematic displation of a group of people will end.”

Randall followed her to her car making sure his was locked before they headed on their drive they could always come back and get his. He was a little nervous when they started to drive through the Scottswood neighborhood Kendrick was gone but he knew of the violence that still existed. He was still amazed at Lauren’s grace the very spot where her own daughter was kidnapped would be a scar on him he wasn’t sure he could bare but she was going it with grace. He still thought a shrine of sorts towards Kendrick was odd like a way for Scottswood to hold on even though Jon had been vindicated but he supposed that was how human nature worked. “I think you are brave to come here should he of done what he did to Aspen I would never sit foot here ever. I think you Lauren Cunmings can do anything you put your mind too.” Leaning over he took her hand and gently placed a kiss on it before looking at his phone as a text came in from Aspen. “Speaking of daughters would you mind taking me to the store so I can meet her at home she is saying something about needing to talk.”

Lauren nodded her head as she looked at the art work. Taking his hand she walked to the car and knew that this could be something special between them. Opening her door she jumped into her car looked over at something that could be amazing.


Yasmine had locked up the dance studio and was walking to her mother’s shelter she worked at. Working in Scottswood and yesterday Khalil asked her to move into his condo. To be fair she should be jumping at moving in with Khalil. He was on his way to being one of the most prolific basketball players since LeBron James. Not only that since she had gotten with him they were Scottswood royalty. The gangs don’t beef on the block of her dance studio and the recreational center. It just seemed like life was going perfect until she went to meet her godchildren. She was going to see them tomorrow smiling just at the thought of Donovan and JJ. They were adorable and she just wanted to spoil them. However their birth had brought up the thing she had been hiding since last summer. How she really felt about Rory. Walking out of Scottswood toward the streets that separate the hood from downtown. Placing her bag on her shoulder she saw some boys from the neighborhood. “Y’all get your asses home!” They laughed as she kept walking through the streets that were once her home.

When she saw a car pull up beside her she was wondering if she would have to whoop some ass or take off her earrings. When the window rolled down she smiled. It was irony she was just thinking about him. Here he was the one guy who left her heart sinking. Looking at the graffiti colored streets his black BMW was muted compared to vibrancy. She looked up at a mural of Kendrick and they had his picture with Biggie, 2Pac, Left Eye, and Aaliyah. He wasn’t legacy like those people. As she strutted up to the car she looked at him. “I was just thinking of you.” It came out so honestly. “I mean that I was thinking about you. I can’t play that off huh? I was thinking about what happened at your niece and nephew birth. I’m sorry I don’t know what came over me. But hey we are the Godparents that’s cool.”

Rory had dropped Aspen off after dinner and then went for a drive to clear his head he wasn’t mad at her or anything like that about the entire college thing. He actually felt pretty bad for her after seeing how her mother could be close up. On the other hand she had not told him about the drug side of her story not that he thought she was an addict or anything or that she would get pulled into that shit. He just wished she would have told him about it from the get go so her mom wouldn’t of had to throw it in her face or worse try to embarrass her in front of him. Somehow he turned down main street and kept going and then he saw her step outside her dance studio in honesty he hadn’t been thinking about her and he had no idea why he pulled over to watch the exchange. Kids were leaving and she was outside laughing with them and it was nice to see her smile even if they were not together anymore. What was he doing at Yasmine’s dance studio to begin with? He was with Aspen and she was with Khalil it wasn’t like they could just pretend that nothing happened in the last year between them or how it all went down. He had almost started his car again only to freeze when she made her way over to him and offered her a smile.

“You were thinking about me huh? I hope it was of better times.” Rory said not really sure what to say to her not to mention it was awkward he almost felt like a stalker. When she mentioned about JJ and Donovan he couldn’t help the grin on his face he had been so little when Maddie was born so he didn’t quite get the bond that Jackson and Max had with her. It was cool though to see the twins and visit and help out his brother and Dani with them so far. He finally got to be the cool uncle and it was actually great to his brother really happy with the woman he loved and two people who loved and depended on him. He actually wondered if when he became a father if that is how he would feel too. “Yeah they’re pretty amazing I know you haven’t been by yet but you really should they’re growing like weeds and I know that Dani would love to see you. You don’t have to stay away because of me you know? I don’t have to be there if it is awkward for you with Khalil or whatever.” He said wanting to respect her space and then he said something that had been on his mind since it happened. “It was not my idea at all to name you as their godmother I was completely taken back when Jackson let us know. I honestly thought it would be Max or Miranda and either Brock or Braden.”

“I was too.” She said looking at him smiling at him. It was good to finally smile at Rory and not feel badly or hurt. Honestly she stubbornly didn’t forgive him and sometimes she wondered if it was a mistake. Placing her hands in her pockets as she folded her arms. “To be honest miss thing did make me feel like I shouldn’t be around. I guess I’m all up in my feelings.” Yasmine said honestly as she leaned on his car. What was he doing down here? As she looked in his eyes. “Rory I want to say something to you and I don’t want you to say a word yet. I’m sorry for icing you out of my life. I was wrong after all we went through and I am not interested in that bull shit with Tess. I swear to God I’m over it but I guess I’m prideful. I need to stop that shit because my life has been blessed. You showed me I deserve so much more than I even saw. You took me to levels I didn’t even know.” She bit down on her lip as she wiped her eyes. “I’m not sorry for how I felt but how I treated you was cold.”

Yasmine backed off the car as she looked at him. “But I won’t be staying away. The kids are in Ivan’s show and Jamal has been working with me. I’m living my best life because he has me doing the girls routines for Ivan. The music is lit too Jamal is a beast and I know your app is debuting with Ivan music. I think that is brilliant Rory you really doing it and I think you deserve to be the genius that people don’t see it. Um I’m babbling but what are you doing down here Rory? I mean it’s good to see you real good. I just been feeling like everything is moving so fast with Khalil and I don’t know through my pain of what happened did I make a big mistake.” Yasmine covered her mouth knowing her true lineage. “I’m sorry this is wrong and fucked up but I gotta say it. I guess I’m questioning everything. And I got one more crazy ass to tell you. But I guess we gotta talk about what I just said.”

“Aspen is going through a really tough time right now I think that might of all came to head when you and Khalil showed up. Like I get that you came but I had wished that maybe Jackson and Dani had waited to have you show until she was gone you know? Then spring the whole godparent thing on us it would have been a lot less awkward for everyone.” Rory said he didn’t as a threat to their relationship. He did care about Yasmine she was the first girl he had ever really cared about in that way but he was with Aspen now and she had made that clear that is what she wanted. He had apologized and tried to make everything right with her after Tess and she was the one that iced him out and told him to go fuck himself. “Listen what is done is done you know, we had fun and maybe this was the fresh start we both need.” He said showing that he could be just as prideful he was not going to admit a part of him still didn’t want to blame Aspen for standing up to Yasmine for something that she felt with her.

One of the reasons he had come this way was to discuss the app launch with her after the hospital he wanted to clear the bad air he didn’t need the PR mess that would come with another fight with her and Aspen or him and Khalil. Jamal and he were business partners with the app it would have direct access to all of Jamal’s artists and resources which would include live shows and eventually music videos too. “We’re probably going to run into each other more often than not coming up and part of the reason I came down here was to talk to you about the hospital and clear the air with you. You’re going to be doing stuff for Jamal coming up like dancing and he’s likely going to want you in music videos and stuff too because you’re an amazing beautiful dancer. I just wanted to come and make sure we were cool before the launch. I already talked to Aspen about it to so she knows and won’t be so upset next time. I’m really happy if you are happy with Khalil he seems like a great guy and you guys have a lot of stuff in common that I probably would never get.” He lied about the last part that he was happy for her and Khalil or that he was a some awesome dude he hated him. He saw it was getting colder outside as some clouds rolled in and he didn’t see her car near the dance studio. “I have no clue where you are living at the moment but do you want a ride home? Looks like a storm might be rolling in and it’s getting late.”

Yasmine stood outside until she saw the snow slowly sprinkling out the sky. It wasn’t a icy cold night but it was cold enough. Adjusting her bag on her shoulder she walked to the car and got in. Looking at Rory she didn’t know how to feel at the moment. She’d just confessed that she maybe was stupid as hell to let him go but he thought she was just letting bygones be bygones. “It’s funny you say that about Khalil. Sometimes I think only thing we do have is the past and a love we have for each other from a shared past. We were called little Kendrick and Gina that was our identities. I’m just scared now that I moved into something way to fast.” She said honestly because moving in with Khalil scared the hell out of her. They were joking about her being a WAG and now she was about to be his live in girlfriend? What was next a reality show? Khalil was being scouted by the NBA and she knew he was near his dreams. Khalil was the best hooper in Pennsylvania and that was the truth. She was scared of love and after Rory hurt her she knew it was hard to trust any man. Except the one she was sitting right next to. Even though he hurt her she knew that he would never intentionally hurt her.

“As for work we cool. I’m sure we going to cross paths but I’m good with you white boy.” She said teasingly as she looked over at him and knew she still cared way too much. She didn’t like Aspen and didn’t care if that little girl was having a rough time. Jealousy was a powerful trait considering that she had pushed Rory away for the last few months and now he was moving on well it didn’t make her feel good. Biting down on her lip she looked at him. “Rory can I ask you something? What’s your take on Forbes Montgomery? I’ve always trusted your gut and I’ll tell you why in a little but I’m staying over on Cherry Hills the nice condo building. I bought one a couple of days ago.” She saw his shocked face. “I just came across a lot of money but answer my question what do you think about Forbes?”

When she got in the car Rory wanted to let out a sigh of relief he didn’t like the fact she was here in this neighborhood all alone and maybe this was the start of them being friends again. He didn’t ask how she could suddenly afford a place in Cherry Hills honestly it wasn’t his business though Jamal had told him that the dance studo was funded by Forbes. He let her talk as they wove through traffic of the city and back to Cherry Hills. When he reached her building he looked over at her and the weather started to come down even harder on them and he was glad she accepted his offer. He was going through so much with his dad right now and juggling everything with Aspen, it almost felt like last year was easier. He would go to the club and he and Yasmine would talk ands he would listen. Sure he could talk to Aspen about it but it felt shitty to do when she was dealing with her own stuff. It would fill even shittier to dump on his siblings or Jamal so close to the album launch. “I just want you to be happy Yasmine.” It was all he could get out about her and Khalil, he leaned in only to then think about her question about Forbes pulling back.

“He’s a monster Yasmine. Rumor was that he drove his wife to kill herself, he tired to take DGI from my father, hell he tried to destroy so many people all those years ago. He went after Dani and Jackson right after the baby shower. No to mention filling Zerick Westwood’s head with nonsense about my father raping my aunt and siriing him.” Rory said his voice rising a little in anger not at her at all but about Forbes and his obvious lie that was tearing apart his family left and right. It felt like he and his siblings had to pick sides and his poor mother, he slammed his hand on the steering wheel watching her jump. “I’m sorry he’s a fucking evil monster. I’ll never like him or any of his spoiled ass brats either. After all that shit Philip put Max through gasligthing her with shit from Scarlett. Cassie seems cool but she’s a bitch and has been to Max for years. Why?”

“I guess I should tell you the truth.” Yasmine looked at him. “You know my mom was a hooker and she always said she didn’t know who my father was. Well that was a lie. She knew exactly who my father was and he did too. A few weeks ago I was shopping because mom had a event at the shelter she’s working at. Well next thing I know I was approached by none other than my very own father.” She twiddling her fingers wondering if he would look at her differently now. “Forbes is my father he did a DNA test and mom knew all along. She didn’t want me living with him and Audrey didn’t want me in the mansion. It’s a lot right but he’s my father and that’s why he gave me the money for the dance studio in Scottswood and last week I got access to my trust fund. All this time I wasn’t the broke girl that everyone thought I was. I was Forbes daughter and yes he’s toxic Rory but that’s my pops but I’m scared of what he’s going to do. He’s already infiltrated my life in ways I didn’t even know. Cassie told me don’t build hope on him. But my whole life.” She stopped beginning to be choked up. “My whole life when momma would go on her benders me and Gina would dream of what our daddies were like. We would know that they would someday come and save us. Hell look what he’s done. He’s saving a lot of kids in the Scottswood community because he isn’t letting them be on the street because of my studio.” Wiping her eyes she looked at him and grabbed his hand.

“But then it’s you.” She said confidently grabbing his hand he wasn’t driving with. “I trust you with my life and I didn’t get why you cheated with Tess. No please let me finish and now I see I wasn’t perfect either. It sucks because all I keep thinking is we never would have had a chance either way huh? My dad is Forbes and yours is Lowell that’s like a cardinal sin huh? I trust that your judgement of character because you saw the evil in Kendrick immediately. You hated him. So it’s hard to hear that the man that I’ve dreamed of for so long is a monster. Forbes has showed me love and respect and he wants me to be apart of the family. I want to be a Montgomery also too because it’s right you know? I just can’t keep thinking what if we were together what would he have done to us? He just slithered into my life and I’m not to fool man. I know trouble when I see it but it’s still my dad and he truly showed me not with money but his heart he wanted me. Mom was selfish she admitted it and so was Audrey. It was a mess and I just I feel so alone right now and confused because I can’t call Cassie and Philip they are gagged. I just needed to tell someone else because this is weighing on me so hard right now. He’s really bad and I just want to have a relationship with him but I also know how can I love this man when I know. I know I’m going to have to turn a blind eye to all his shit.”

Rory pulled his hand away from her at the revelation and shoot his head at her this was just too rich for him. “You choose him we can never and I mean never be together Yasmine not after what he is saying about my father and my aunt. I could never be with someone that would stand behind that not to mention all the other stuff he has done.” Rory said he was still floored by the revelation as he looked at her weighing her options and nodded at her she could decide once she came to terms with it. “Listen I gotta go check on Aspen. You should go.”

“I figured that.” Gripping her bag. “See you around Rory.” She got out the car and was shocked at how he basically told her they couldn’t even be around each other if she choose to care about her father. She made the right choice with Khalil. Tapping her foot she saw him already pulling off Yasmine stomped her foot because nothing right now truly felt alright. It all felt like she had made mistake after mistake and maybe telling Rory that Forbes was her father was the biggest. “Damnit.” She said walking up to her place wiping her eyes. Had she made the biggest mistake by jumping into a relationship with Khalil and letting go of the man who gave her so much sunshine?


Tess looked at the servants unpacking Belle’s belongings and she glided through her mansion sipping her tea. Walking into the kitchen she poured another cup of tea. Looking out the window seeing her daughter brushing her horse. As she looked at her she smiled the doorbell rang as she slowly strutted to the door. “No, Dora I’ll get it.” As she opened the door she saw Dimitri, Brooke, Atticus, and Selina standing in her foyer. Moving out the way she curtseyed to the princes as she smiled at them. “I have invited you all over here because I want speak with you Dimitri privately. My Goddaughter is here Belle and she’s outside you three are more than welcomed to go into the library and Dora please get Belle and bring her inside to entertain the guest.” Tess turned as she walked through her home looking at the elaborate art on the wall and luxury surrounding them. “I think that lately we haven’t been on the same wavelength. My daughter Bliss deserves a chance to be a mother. Now you seem to continue to get in her way of that. I refuse to allow it any further Mr. Kavanaugh.” Tess said as she stopped seeing him fuming that a woman no doubt was speaking to him as she was.

“Do you remember a man name Levi? Levi Johnston he was the man you hired to snatch the crown jewels of your country. Then you had the audacity to pretend to find them when your father was completely dethroned. You would have been a hero but it wouldn’t be so good if everyone knew you snatched them yourself. I have no intention in revealing the truth your civil war you are creating with your own family is none of my business. What is my business is Fox and I want Bliss to have at least shared custody of that boy. If you don’t I’ll not only expose you Dimitri I’ll go tell Atticus right now. I’ll have him make sure you aren’t a problem for my baby anymore. So either you help me or me calling you to Atlas Falls a few months ago will look like you were trying to hawk those garish jewels off to me.” Picking up her teacup she took a deep sip. “The choice is yours Mr. Kavanaugh either bend the knee as they say or be broken as I turn the wheel.”

Dimitri looked at Tess with disdain that woman was always a black mark on him and the crown it could be that he found out his daddy had fucked her first. Part of him knew that the only reason he had been introduced to Bliss was for that reason alone, that his father didn’t want that getting back to the queen. Tess was nothing like her daughter though, Tess was vile and knew what buttons to push to get her own way whereas Bliss was a meak lost little girl without a father in her life. It made her easy to manipulate and use as he saw fit and when she stepped out of line it was easier to make sure he broke her down to begging and pleading. It was different with Tess and he glared at her as he watched the girl in the other room Belle Archibald his brother had gotten caught pants down with her back home such a shame as he had wanted her first. Knowing that she was here with Tess though he was smart enough to put two and two together Belle was part of Tess and by extension he wanted to know by which husband. He saw Atticus doing his best in the other room to be a gentleman and almost rolled his eyes such a fucking pushover.

“Who is going to believe you Tess? The media or Bliss didn’t you tell her to marry me in the first place? Changing your story now to what paint me as a monster when no one will believe you or your daughter. I have an impeccable reputation and no criminal record and if you can find Levi I doubt he would actually talk.” Dimitri hissed looking at her, she was a snake which was why he always made sure to make sure he knew where she was. The woman would do anything to get ahead and he admired that normally except when it came to him and what he wanted. He almost laughed at her whens he mentioned that he was going to hand over Fox to Bliss over his dead body. “You think I’m going to hand over the future crown prince and King of Isla Del Cruces to your weak little daughter and Hunter Kincaid? Have you lost your mind Tess I hear it might run in your family. Bliss was always so hysterical I do wonder where she always got that from. She abandoned him in the the middle of the night Tess I hear the American courts frown on that sort of thing. Besides you share with my brother I’d hate to wreck your little world with yours too. I’m not the only one with secrets here now am I?”

“They don’t frown on these.” She slammed down a folder full of sworn testimonies of maids, gardeners, and other staff at his mansion. “Graciella, Mario, Florence all staff that adored my daughter. They are also all very wealthy for these testimonies. Before I stopped being so friendly with Mr. Montgomery, I had to have a contingency against you. I know your type Dimitri.” Tess said with a hollowed laugh. “A big man who uses his fist to control a woman. So I pimped my daughter off to a prince what mother wouldn’t. Except you are a maniacal, abusive, and  monster who has no balls. I won’t allow you to snatch my daughter’s child away again. So this is how we will play it. You will have Fox in the summers and that’s not even going to be real. You will look like a valiant father flying in to America we will do photos for press purposes but you are not going to be around my grandson poisoning him into being a lesser man than his true destiny to be. He is a king and he shall be such but make no mistake Dimitri I will slit your throat where you stand if you dare try to take what is mine. My family, and my blood will not suffer at your hands to sadistic you sonofabitch. You are truly pathetic.” Tess seethed at him with a fire in her eyes.

“Did it make you feel strong to slap around a woman? Do you get off on the violence. You know your father knows.” She smirked seeing how uncomfortable she had just made him. “This portfolio was quite easy to put together. You’ve left quite the trail of women and enemies. You raped the maids daughter did you think Maria wouldn’t say anything? You have brutalized so many woman that your time is up. Now with the flick of my finger you know what I can do? I can call my messenger who is sitting right outside your family’s castle. They’ll march right into the king’s chamber due to my connections and hand him this entire file to see how depraved a child he raised. I know he knows that though, we as parents always know what we have on our hands and he must have know he a rotten and rancid man for a son.” She sat down. “Now you have very few options but you will hand over Fox or I will eliminate your chances at the throne. By also revealing what you and Forbes have planned. Check and mate motherfucker. My secrets aren’t going to be revealed or else it destroys Forbes and if you do that then I think you know what type of wrath you’ll get.” Tess sipped her tea with a big smile on her face.

“I’m sure that will be lovely in court ‘Your honor I knew he was such an abusive asshole but I encouraged my daughter to marry him for the crown’. No balls I don’t think so you see I was balls deep in your precious Bliss and she was screaming my name before she even agreed to marry me and you had no qualms then either. Boo hoo for her she left Fox in the middle of the night to run to her little friend in Egypt who by the way would not help her retrieve her son from me or my family. What in God’s name do you think that I wouldn’t do to ensure that Fox stays with me?” Dimitri hissed looking at her as she tried to belittle him she’d get what was coming to her in the end if she messed with this entire plan to lure Bliss to come back home with him. He’d hurt her too in the worst ways imaginable starting with that girl in the other room for good measure. He saw her looking at him and almost laughed only to see that Atticus was looking at them as well, his poor naive or not so naive brother. “The only pathetic one I see here is you who was so cold that she sold her own daughter to a monster, should we all clap and applaud you?”

He mocked raising his hands as he clapped, she had dirt on him there was no denying that and Maria would be paying as soon as he left a simple phone call would suffice she would retract her statement, or take money. If she was wise she would retract, his father was old and would soon die or better yet the rebels would kill him right as he and Atticus with MontCorp came in to save the day with the allies of other countries. “Do it Tess I dare you and I’ll wreck your little scheme you have going on in town with Belle. Your daughter may be dumb as a brick, when it came to the real reason that she was sent away for 9 months in boarding school when she was younger. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the man you married at the time had gotten snipped and you and Lowell were how do the American’s put it fucking again? I wonder what would happen if a leak were to happen and I expose that Belle is your other bastard daughter with this innocent act you are trying to pull. One daughter being abandoned for another. Do you really want to play with me Tess?”

“You’ll play into my hand much faster if you go to the press about Belle.” She said with a smirk on her face. “I’ve thought about all moves you could make. Trust me if you can find any of those witnesses in my file on you’ll have to kill a lot of men to find these women and men. I’ve done the painstaking work to make sure you are neutralized now down doggy.” Tess placed her teacup down and looked at him dead in the eyes. “You must be a fool to think that I’d let you or Forbes pain the narrative over Belle. I have her in my grasp again and now it’s time to make it known who has the true trump cards. Now I’ve warned you. I’ve told you how this is going to go do I have to make the call? Or how about this?” Tess picked up her phone and scrolled down and dialed Cassie Montgomery number. When she went to voicemail she smirked putting her on speaker. “Cassie I do need your help dear I have a exclusive for you and I assure you that your paper wouldn’t want to miss it.”At this moment she had show she was unwavering and if he did expose Belle she’d use it to her advantage. Lowell would be under her spell even more when she made Forbes into the bad guy. Hanging up she looked at her. “Now that it’s done what will you blackmail me with?”

As she walked to him sitting directly in front of her. Leaning over she pulled out a custody agreement and slid it in front of him. Then she pulled out a sparkling handbag that wasn’t her’s. “If you don’t play ball I’ll cut so deeply on your reputation and the current abuse of your fiance. I met a lady who was at a Opera showing of Madame Butterfly with you, Selina, Brooke, and Atticus. She worked in the bathroom and she helped take care of Selina after she was literally falling apart. She left her purse that night did you know that? Selina admitted that something happened now. I’ll call off my dogs if you sign the custody agreement. If not I swear Cassie will be getting this little file and a written statement of the woman who physically helped Selina after you abused her. It’s irony that her mother was such a bitch and would have destroyed you if she knew what you were doing to her. How many other women if I go looking into your past in Paris, or Brazil. I have a idea that if I search hard enough you’ve made enough enemies to bury yourself. So as I said sign this little boy before I spank you. I’m the victor here and there isn’t any room for discrepancy in this. You lose this round and I dare you to try to fight against this. I’ll doom you now think long and hard on what I want. Sign the fucking papers and give my daughter her son you sicko.”

Dimitri looked at her raging and knowing she was partially right but there was not a lot he could do at the moment as he saw Atticus and Belle walking towards them. He placed his hands on the paper giving her and his audience the best smile his could as he slid it back to her. “I’d rather die than hand over my son to a bunch of lunatics like you and your ungrateful daughter. Especially not without the lawyer for the crown present. For now though perhaps we should reconvene later to discuss the matter?” Dimitri said his anger boiling as he hissed out his answer and he saw the worry on Atticus’s face and the confusion on Belle’s at the exchange. “Brother Belle it is so lovely to see you again. I do hope that your parents are doing well it was so nice to meet them at that gala while you were what was it again occupied with my brother.”

“It’s nice to see you again Dimitri, the feeling is always mutual.” Belle said seeing her mummy’s eyes were deadly serious. She never truly like the crowned prince she always felt like he was dressing her down with his eyes. “They are fine but I hear my mum is come down with the worse case of pneumonia she’ll be fine though. Atticus and Brooke wedding is going to be the social event of the year. I mean Brooke talked about it nonstop in there but what I felt was slightly bloody alarming was Selina. She was silent in the room and I mean a royal wedding has to be coming right? She should be beaming with joy and I couldn’t feel anything but sadness. I wonder why?” Walking to the teapot she poured herself a cup. “Atticus it was good to see you but this is my home for now I’d appreciate if you don’t bring Brooke here again.”

Tess watched him slither his way out of her clutches. “I’ll fax this paperwork over Dimitri and trust me if you don’t sign then I’ll make life very hard for you. Atticus I’ve always found you to be so pleasant and sweet such a charming prince. I wish the DNA of a neanderthal didn’t jump into your older brother. I’m sure you both can see yourself out. Please go get your women and get out. Oh and Dimitri tomorrow my daughter needs to see her son. I suggest you call her and give him to her. It’s been far too long don’t you think? Oh one more thing I forgot to mention Dimitri silly old me. I called your father a couple weeks ago when you hit town. I asked for a favor because I know that Isla De Cruces has some beautiful roses this time of year. Oh Bliss and your wedding was just stunning right Belle? Well I asked Hugo if he could come here and bring me some of those roses. He’ll be joining us in America and we can have a family reunion. Won’t that be special for Christmas.”