2×14 “Turkey & Tears”

2×14 “Turkey & Tears”
Written By: Chris Coleman and Kelly Zollo
Theme Song: John Legend- Ordinary People

The smell of honey baked ham with pineapples and cloves had filled the kitchen. As Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Going On’ echoed in the speakers above her head. This was the first time her father wasn’t cooking Thanksgiving and it was on her. Jamal had asked her to come to his home and cook. She wanted to see everyone because things were becoming to raw with Dimitri. Ever since the first time he assaulted her he’d become more sadistic. Just this morning he slapped her around all over the hotel room. Her lip was busted and her eye black. She’d covered it the best she could, her bang covered her eye and dark lipstick on her lip. It was still noticeable but she couldn’t help but hide it.  She was just focused on making the best Thanksgiving meal because her father wasn’t in attendance. As she walked to the oven she looked at the turkey and began to baste the turkey. Taking a bite of the dressing she knew it was done as she took it out of the oven. Exhaling she heard someone at the door and looked up at her brother and Zach walking in. Jamal was picking up some sort of surprise and his mom. She talked to him on the phone earlier.

“Hey I’m just getting the pies out right now. The turkey and ham almost done. I pulled out the dressing and the greens are still cooking. We have potato salad, deviled eggs, spaghetti, baked macaroni and cheese, I got cakes, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and all type of other type of treats and appetizers since daddy isn’t coming this year.” She hadn’t looked up at Mason or Zach as she kept going. “I just want it to be perfect because we all have so much going on you know? We don’t get to see each other. And I know you are so mad at daddy but I miss him.” Selina covered her mouth knowing that she was just compensating for the pain she was in. She was shaking and she saw Mason moving closer to her. “I’m fine Mason please just give me a moment.” Selina couldn’t help it before she knew it she collapsed to the floor and she felt Zach holding her. “I’m okay.” She said looking at Mason who was staring at her face too hard.

Jamal had Val hand as he walked into his condo kitchen. He had his father outside ready to apologize to not just Mason but them all. When he saw Selina on the floor he began to move closer to his sister and let go of Val hand. “Val go get my mom and tell her to come in the kitchen.” He watched Val rushing off to get his mom who was setting the table and setting the Mexican side of Thanksgiving. The tamales, chilaquiles, mole, and elotes were his favorite mixing soulfood and his momma Mexican cooking. When he got closer to Selina he saw her eye and lip he looked at Mason and Zach with concern in his eyes.

“Selina, sis you been throwing down in the kitchen pops would be proud.” He said looking at her crying hysterically on the floor he looked at Mason and he began to feel her pain. Stooping down by Mason and Selina he sat Indian style and looked at his beautiful big sister. “Selina your eye um sis. Your eye looks like it’s black and your lips is clearly busted. I don’t want to make any assumptions but you on the floor crying in Mason arms and you look like this. Is Dimitri? Is the motherfucker beating on you Selina?”

It all seemed to pour out of her because Mason and Jamal were mirrors she couldn’t hide from. Especially Mason the way he looked at her she knew it all had to come out. “I’m not this woman Mason. I’m not this girl who gets abused by her lover oh my God. I’m being beaten and I don’t know how to get away. He’s everywhere and I’m so scared. He’s going to kill me one day and the way he talks about Bliss and that baby. Oh my God I shouldn’t have doubted her. What kind of woman does that? What kind of woman does that? I’m Selina Delacroix how could this be happening to me? I’m not supposed to be beaten.” She began to bawl into Mason shoulder.

“I’m calling Ronan and Thor this motherfucker gotta be killed.” He didn’t care he was saying it in front of Zach. “Or you do something before I do! He’s beating on my damn sister!” Jamal screamed at Zach who had already had a shocked expression. “Man one thing I know is the police only do something after the fact Zach! Y’all better do something before I do. Just so you know Mason dad’s here he wants to apologize and I think you should hear him out.” Jamal said as he saw Ophelia and Val walking in.

“No please don’t let people see me like this.” Selina said trying to cover her face from Ophelia and Val.

Ophelia had moved into the kitchen when she heard the commotion coming from inside of it with Selina and her brothers and normally she wasn’t one to pry when it came to her former daughter. This time however she felt like she had the right to pry Selina may of hated when she was younger but from the looks of it, that was the least of what should be on her mind. Her blood boiled at the sight of makeup that was clearly caked on to cover marks on her face, her hands shook and she made a mental note to call Devin as soon as she could once she convinced her to see reason of course.

“Jesus christ.” Ophelia muttered as she looked at Selina’s face seeing her fight them all of her and she shook her head. “You are no one’s punching bag I know things have been hard since you left but this Selina is not worth it.” She managed to get out thankful Tony was running a few minutes late because she could only imagine what he would do.

Mason had stood in shock when he had arrived with Zach and greeted his brother to then see his sister in such a state, his sister was a lot of things making excuses for Dimitri was something he never thought he would ever see or hear. Granted she had told them nothing was going on but when it walked like a duck and fucked like a duck it was likely a duck, Dimitri was bad news. He didn’t take the Devonshire’s for liars when it came to him especially Bliss and this enraged him so much he felt Zach holding him back as he picked up his keys ready to make a beeline for the door to track Dimitri down and give him a beatdown of his own. He looked at Zach and pushed him back Fraiser’s could be such spineless people or hypocrites sometimes.

“Move out of my way Zach don’t act like if some asshole put his hands all over Dani or Kelsey that your ass wouldn’t be making a beeline for them too.” Mason said looked at his lover in the kitchen while his sister stared at him and the rest of them. He was so angry and saw that Jamal was livid too and Ophelia was clearly in doctor mode and he didn’t care that was his sister. That was the girl that always protected him what kind of a brother was he if he couldn’t return that favor? “I don’t care who he is move.”

Val wasn’t sure what her place was in the kitchen instead she played with the bottle of wine on the counter clearly not sure of all the dynamics between everyone. She did know that Dimitri was a dog hell everyone in Europe knew it thank God Brooke had never done that with Dimitri, she preferred the sane prince. She lifted the glass to her lips as she drank and then saw that something was starting to burn on the stove. “Um dinner, it’s burning.” She said flatly.

Jamal walked to the oven and pulled out the turkey and he saved it because like they needed a burnt fucking bird. He looked at Val and nodded his head for the door. She took the cue because she ushered herself out. He hoped she entertained his father because once dad saw this it was on. He’d grown up knowing that family fought for family. He’d draw blood before Selina was hit or assaulted again. “You aint going back to that motherfucker you hear me?” Jamal said as he looked at Zach who was whispering to Mason trying to keep him calm and focused. He’d never seen his brother so riled up.

“Look you aren’t going to Ronan or Ivan, you are on parole Jamal and I don’t want you in jail. Matter of fact you are my brother now and I swear to you both I won’t let Dimitri get away with this.” He looked at Zach. “I need you to listen to me. We are going to bury him underneath the jail and I can’t say that I wouldn’t feel like either of you. I want to kill this guy do you hear me Selina? You don’t deserve this shit.” He punched a table infuriated that this man had diplomatic immunity. “I’m going to figure it out okay just let me go before you two go and do something crazy okay? I know a lawyer who’d help with this and we’d figure out how to arrest his ass and make the charges stick.” He kissed Mason and with that he was gone. Zach pulled out his cellphone and immediately dialed Braden number. “Happy Thanksgiving cousin. I need to talk to you.”

Selina head was spinning as she saw Zach rushing out and Zach promising to get Dimitri. She began to cry even harder. “He’s going to kill me.” Her lip quivered as she felt her brothers immediately hovering around her. “I’m fine, it’s just that I didn’t think I was this woman. I didn’t think I’d ever be on a floor holding my face. Trying to cover it up because you all are the mirror I can’t not look at. I gotta get away from him.” She felt Jamal holding her and Mason arms around her. They were all on the floor at this moment and she just couldn’t move. “I’m sorry if I disappointed you both. I’m trying to be so strong but my marriage, my daughter, my life is gone. I have nothing and I’m nothing right now. I’m not the woman I know I am. I don’t know who I am Mason. I never thought a man would hit me. He’s done so much.” She felt Jamal gripping her tighter. “Oh my God.” She cried as she saw Ophelia wiping her eyes. “I’m not this woman Ophelia. I’m not her. I’m so sorry, I’m sorry for so much but most of all, leaving my marriage. I walked away and was out for revenge and God punished me. I don’t know how to leave or walk away. He’s crazy he’ll kill me. His reach is so far and strong that it keeps me still.” She exhaled as she looked at her brothers. “I swear, I’m leaving but I don’t want him to hurt anyone.”

Jamal looked at Mason and truly wondered what this man had programmed into Selina head. He might be royal but they were Delacroix, royalty was in there blood from the moment their ancestors stepped onto that slave boat. His lip quivered as he raised his sister face. “Selina don’t worry about us. Sis we all we got and I promise Devin and nobody letting Dimitri hurt you. You ain’t going back to him do you understand me?” He growled. Jamal hugged his sister as he looked up at Mason who was crushed. “We all we got. You hear me sis? I’m not letting it go down like that. Nah not at all.”

Tony had arrived at the house after a minor crisis at LaCallie it was the holidays and he had a few servers call out due to the snow meaning he was needed at least until the second shift came on. Once done he handed duties off to his manager and then began to make his way to Jamal’s. He was nervous which for a man in his fifties was rare, but he knew it was because he only hoped that he and Mason could make amends when it came to each other. It was his one regret of the last year how he reacted when he found out about Mason and Simon he was so raw and angry at the time. When he entered the house though and saw Val scrolling social media on her phone he looked around for his son only the hear the commotion in the kitchen. He had overheard the tail end of what his daughter was saying and anger raged in him as he looked at her face and his stomach pitted knowing what was going on behind closed doors, had he been that blind when she came back and said everything was fine that she was happy.

“I’ll kill him.” Tony said coldly as he looked at his children he saw Mason staring at him and for the first time in a long time it didn’t look like his son hated him anymore and he decided to take that moment and move forward wrapping his daughter in her arms. She was so strong and had been for years and this would not break her if he had anything to say about it Dimitri would be dead by the end of the week. He could simply call Lowell and ask him to get in touch with someone to help. He mouthed a thank you to Ophelia as he held Selina. “You will tell us everything and we will go to the police or better go to the DA directly since I know without a doubt that despite everything Braden would rather die than let that coward lay another hand on you.”

Selina looked at her father and nodded her head. She knew if she didn’t leave Dimitri she wasn’t just putting her life in danger but every person in this room also. They’d kill for her and gladly take the charge she knew that and if she didn’t leave they’d be in jail. Slowly she picked herself up and looked at them. As she saw Zach walking back inside as she looked at them all. “If you already haven’t please call Braden and let him know I’d like to make a statement and I’d like to press charges against Dimitri. I will do whatever it takes to make sure that the charges stick on Dimitri.” She looked at her brothers and father and quickly embraced them all. “I’m okay.” She said knowing she was lying. She’d never trust a man the same nor would she see life in the same way. She was spoiled and petulant the way she treated Ophelia for years was wrong. As a woman seeing her here and present for her. That was enough for her to see she’d been wrong about Ophelia all those years. Not only that she might have drove the affair to happen because of her constant badgering and rebellious nature. She felt Ophelia replaced her mother but she was someone her mother may have sent to her. Her pride might have not let her see it.

As she let go of Mason, Jamal, and Tony she walked to Ophelia and hugged her tightly. “Thank-you.” She said looking at Jamal. “For giving me an amazing baby brother and helping with my spoiled ass.”

Jamal heard the doorbell ring and his eyes got big. “Yo I didn’t like Dimitri so I was being messy anyway. Um Selina I’m sorry I ran into this brother he had nowhere to go on the Holidays. He’s in town because he’s been summoned by someone. But um Eliott DuVual  you remember him right Mason the guy you had that case against. I didn’t like him but he apologized for that shit and told me he’s here for Bliss and since the Devs family I thought. I thought we could invite the guy to dinner or something.” Jamal walked to the door and opened it as he looked at Elliot.

“What’s up man come on hour dourves on the table and I got some scotch.” Jamal was trying to act as normal as possible. “Man it’s the holidays drama always popping off you know even in the bougie black folk house.”

Elliot had randomly ran into Jamal Delacroix a few weeks ago at his club where he was in a heated conversation with his family. He had shit to do in Atlas Falls and would not be returning home for the archaic institution that was Thanksgiving. Which led to his predicament when he had realized earlier today he hadn’t been grocery shopping in a week and the regular farmers market that was near the Scottswood area was not open today due to the holiday, he had been pissed and then randomly ran into Jamal again who had in turn invited him over for Thanksgiving. At first he was going to decline but then decided he was hungry as fuck and wasn’t going to starve and had driven over as requested. He looked at Jamal and then over at his shoulder seeing the hate he was getting from Mason and Zach. “Yeah man thanks for inviting me even if others can’t see past our walk.” He then stopped as he looked at Selina realizing something bigger than him was happening at the moment.


It felt so strange to be in the Devonshire mansion and knowing that her father no longer lived here. Word was he sent for his belongings and was gone. Bliss could smell the pumpkin pie and this holiday seemed so much more important than any year prior. The Devonshire’s were truly broken but her brothers had stepped up as the men in the family. Thus she had to tell someone what Dimitri had done the other night. Hunter would have killed him if she didn’t beg him to stop. Fox was playing with a train set around the tree and she placed an ornament on the tree. “Fox come here love.” When her little boy ran into her arms she held him so tightly. He was nothing like Dimitri and that made her so happy. “Oh I love you so much. Do you know how much momma loves you?”

“To the moon and back.” Fox said as he kissed her

“Yes mommy loves you to the moon and back.” She closed her eyes and the flashes of what Dimitri was doing. He ripped her shirt the sound of his belt buckle unfastening and his breath on her body. Bliss squeezed her eyes tighter as she felt someone touching her shoulder. A scream so loud and blood curdling echoed out of her mouth. As she looked up at Chauncey and Natasha. Tears began to fall as Fox cried with her completely alarmed at her outburst. She saw Natasha reaching out for her son. Bliss pulled him closer just to calm him. “Mommy is alright, I need you to go with Auntie Natasha right now alright?” Bliss kissed her son forehead as she handed him off to Natasha and immediately she hugged Chauncey. Shaking her head she looked at him and couldn’t help it. Her father wasn’t here and she knew Chauncey was going to handle this. “Dimitri brought Fox to the night we found out father lied about Zerick and Katie. Well he tried to rape me and slapped me around a couple of times. I fought back Chauncey but God I can’t do this much longer. Hunter found me and he saved me from being raped. I hate to say it but he threatened Selina also. I think he’s beating her.”

Chauney wasn’t sure how the holidays were actually going to go this year but seemed like everyone was there as a chore this year instead of celebrating because they were all so concerned about his mother and father splitting. They all knew it was coming it was only a matter of time when one of them served the other one with divorice papers. So instead they were all at the mansion for the last minute Thanksgiving dinner and to decorate the tree while his father was at the hospital he assumed. He hadn’t spoken to him since that day in the hospital he was still reeling from the revelations and he wasn’t even sure what he was supposed to say to him. There wasn’t a lot to say and he saw Bliss by the tree with Hunter and Fox and made his way to them. Natasha had taken Fox and had volunteered to help his mother with some last minute arrangements for dinner with Frasier’s of all people he assumed it was something he would have to learn to adjust too. They were all going to be related in a few weeks after the wedding anyway and he laughed at Fox who was looking at all the ornaments on the tree he looked so much like his little sister and he remembered when Maddie was that little and all the joy those first few holiday’s brought her he hoped the same for his nephew as he watched them actually leave for the kitchen. When she mentioned Dimitri and the attack his blood boiled but he saw Hunter nod at him that Bliss had fought the bastard off. He stopped in the middle of placing on an ornament as she mentioned Selina though and looked at her.

“Selina? Are you sure?” How in the hell did he even get in your and Hunter’s house do you guys need more security?” He asked he felt like an asshole for even saying that but she had insisted that she was happy with Dimitri and he had his reservations about Dimitri being around Maddie. But he always assumed that Selina would never place her in harms way when it came to their daughter. “When we spoke the other day she seemed a little upset when I brought him up but I assumed that was because she is going to marry into royalty and I know that he’s a scumbag I saw what he tried to do to you the other day at DGI.” Chauncey said seeing Hunter look at him and realizing that Bliss hadn’t told him about Dimitri cornering her alone at the party at DGI. “You didn’t tell him about Dimitri attacking you at DGI? I need to be absolutely positive that you are right about Dimitri you can’t just walk up to a crown prince of a country and accuse him of beating a woman or raping them even you know that.”

“How much more proof do you need? It came out of his mouth? He said he was going to beat her when wanted and she was a means to an end. An end that would lead directly back to me. He wants me.” Bliss said as she wrapped her arms around herself. “I can’t keep living like this because my son was asleep upstairs in our house and um I was going to kill his father. If Hunter didn’t walk in, I’d would have just kept going until I felt his soul slip out of his body. I have no regrets and I don’t feel badly about it. That is what scares me. Chauncey what you and father did to her last year shook Selina. Now I’m not saying her taking custody of Maddie was appropriate but you haven’t been the best either. You hurt her and disappointed her as woman I get it. I get why she turned to a Prince who is so toxic, she wanted to hurt you and Braden and everyone. I’ve been there he’s charming at first. Like a Disney prince come to life. Every breath he speaks is in perfect cadence with your heartbeat. Somehow he just penetrates your soul and then you see how everything could be. How magic could happen to you and then the darkness starts to creep into your soul. At first he grabs to hard, then it’s a slam into a door, and finally for his grand finale he’ll begin to physically beat you and condition you into being less. Less than the woman you think can be. I know what Selina is going through because I lived it. He nearly raped me twice now. He cornered me at my families own gala and insinuated we’d reunited this time. Chauncey I’m lying and there are other women who have so many stories.” She said impassioned about taking down Dimitri.

“I’m asking you do you want to lose your nephew. I know that I didn’t grow up with you. I know you didn’t have the most love for me. I like to think now that we have a better relationship than then. When I first came to Atlas Falls I was a mess and I wasn’t the best person or representation of me. It was because I had to put on a front and a hard shell. I had to be this girl I wasn’t Chauncey because of him. I will never be carefree again or open. I can’t be because every second I’m guarded due to him. Every moment alone I see the scars because they don’t disappear. They don’t go away no matter how much I find love and happiness. I still fear him and I know it’s other women Chauncey out there. He brutalizes girls and is sadistic in the bedroom. He calls it rough but it’s rape. It’s rape because I didn’t want it when I conceived Fox. I don’t know because it happened so fast. It could be when he was being loving or it could be when he assaulted me. I just know I love my son and that boy is so innocent in this mess. He’s in the thick of his fathers sin and I can’t protect my son from him. I can’t and I’m scared that he’s going to pervert him into his sick ways. So how much proof do you want? You’ve seen me shivering and shaking because I’m scared of him. Do you want details brother? I can tell you how he beat me and raped me but trust me, Selina would be the voice to make true. Call her, ask her.”

Hunter looked at Chauncey like he was the biggest asshole on the planet when he began to doubt Bliss’s story the fact was if it was Max he would be running down there to kill him with his bare hands. But because it was the sister that he felt was an intruder last year and worse was the partial cause and the catalyst to his parents breaking up on top of Zerick he was being an asshole about it. He saw Jackson approaching them and wondered how much he hear about it and maybe he could convince Chauncey to take action about what was going on with Bliss and Dimitri. If only for Fox not just Selina but for his own nephew now that Jackson was a father he would at least understand. He was so angry and livid when he started to list all the things that questioning Bliss. It was his house he had walked in on it something had to be done and he wanted to make Chauncey see reason and if he had to smack him or punch his ass to do it he would. The priority right now was making sure Selina was safe and that Fox never ever saw Dimitri again for him and Bliss that was it.

“For a guy bent on being a Devonshire you sure can be an asshole when it comes to your own sister. I saw it, he attacked her you really think he is just prince charming with Selina? If Max came to you and said this there would be no questions or hesitation from any of you but because it is Bliss and you see her as some interloper in your parents shit of course you have to interrogate her.” He saw Jackson approaching them and looking like he was about to break up a fight between he and Hunter and then opened his mouth further.  “Not everyone likes rough sadistic sex but even people who do have the common decency to ask for consent. Wouldn’t you agree Jackson? Bliss never asked for it and I doubt Selina did too.” He instantly regretted it Jackson didn’t like to advertise his sex life but it was a known thing in their circle of friends but still he felt like an asshole, if anything Jackson would admit that when it was consensual it was fine but when it wasn’t is when monsters like Dimitri could keep attacking at will. “I’m sorry shit that came out totally wrong, but you get it. There is a big difference in fucking rough with consent versus not consent.”

Chauncey didn’t want to believe it about Selina because well it was Selina, she was strong and independent and he truly believed that she would never place Maddie in that type of danger. He glared back at Hunter he wasn’t exactly calling his sister a liar he had seen what Dimitri did at the party. But despite their wealth and connections Dimitri from what he understood had diplomatic immunity while on American soil so to simply claim he was abusing Selina was a heavy accusation. One he knew to be true he then looked over at Jackson who had just arrived with Dani and the twins. He saw Hunter’s anger and gave Jackson the most bizarre look he could and when his brother didn’t deny it then hit him, he and Dani had that type of a relationship and apparently consensual, which was entirely different than what Bliss was describing. He wondered how much of the conversation up until now that Jackson had heard and given what they now knew about their father and Zerick how could they do nothing? On the other hand going over guns blazing to him was still a bold move and a risky one, things went south Dimitri could disappear in the middle of the night with no one to stop him with Fox because Bliss did not have custody.

“Selina assured me that everything was fine with her and Dimitri. I am not calling you a liar Bliss I saw what he did at the party. Don’t look at me like that she didn’t want the rest of the family to know or impede on the baby shower or all the other stuff since then.” Chauncey repeated realizing that he was making excuses for Dimitri and as a man he felt ashamed. When Hunter called him out on his behavior he knew it was true if it were Max they would be all over this. He looked at Jackson who looked shocked that he and Bliss had kept this from hm but they had good reason they didn’t want to cause a ton of family drama. “Have either of you two gotten in touch with a lawyer? Surely between Mason, Braden or hell Anderson and his connections there can be someone to take the case that is what I am saying. Dimitri could run in the middle of the night and take Fox especially if he feels threatened. You need a plan, we need a plan if we’re just going to go down and tell Dudley do right Harrison that Selina is being abused we better have solid evidence and her willing to say so.”

Jackson face flushed when he heard Hunter put his business out there. He gave him a mothefucker look as Bliss had turned beet red and Chauncey looked like he wanted to burst laughing. For a split second the abuse and rape conversations were silent and they were just a family. That moment was human and he missed them. Looking at Bliss he felt his heart break for her. Hunter was right they’d often showed a difference between his youngest sister and the core four. They were five, no six now and somehow they’d have to deal with Zerick in the family much more respectable way. All the things he said to him and he was right. Tears nearly formed then hearing Chauncey declaring that the lawyers had to get involved was like playing ping pong. He went back and forth as he walked to Bliss and touched her back. Then wiped her tears as he looked at Chauncey and shook his head signalling him to come closer and comfort her. “It’s time for us to say this. Look I never thought my father would have another child but he had you and now Zerick. As bad as this is and under the circumstances that it crushed our mother. You hurt us by breathing but you are our sister just like Max. We won’t allow Fox to leave you. If we need to get guards and security round the clock on you all we will. I’m not having it anymore. No more rapist and sadistic men will we allow in our lives. We aren’t running out of time they are. Times up for them and he won’t be taking our nephew anywhere. It doesn’t matter what the lawyers say Chauncey, were rich motherfuckers and we now are running DGI. We are the next generation and it’s time to show them what we are about.”

Bliss wiped her tears as she nodded listening to Jackson and felt Chauncey towering over her and rubbing her back. Nodding her head she felt safe with her brothers and appreciated their words. Both had understood that she was being abused and now stalked. Looking at Hunter she mouthed thank-you to him because he saw her frustration and hell Jackson did also. It hurt him and it also opened up Chauncey’s eyes on his bias. As she looked at them. “I’m a mother before anything. A wife, a sister, a friend, and that little boy is my life and I love him so much. I love him to the moon and if I have to reveal every dirty secret in my closet and why I had to run, I will. It’ll be good press for DGI because dad is um a monster. But my story it could be what we need to turn the tide with everything.” She looked at Dani who was feeding at fussy Donovan. “We need me right now right? I mean soon the board will name a new CEO but the press for the Devonshire name is dark right now. We can change the narrative with an on air interview with Cassie. She’ll hammer me and I think she wants our heads but if I can play into that and show how much I’m going through with Dimitri and hell if we can get Selina. I think we can destroy him and in the process reveal what my mother has on him. Cassie will think she’s burying the Devonshire’s and she’ll actually be saving us. I think I could do it. Two birds one stone.”

Jackie had been in the doorway getting ready to call everyone into eat when she had listened to Bliss start to tell Chauncey about what had happened to her and anger boiled in her. Her oldest was often misguided and she knew her children’s bias when it came to Bliss was her own doing. Instead she watched as Hunter and Jackson took up for Bliss and her situation that as a woman she was tired of hearing about in her own family first Katie with Lowell an now Bliss with Dimitri, enough was enough in her mind. Her mind drifted to the other details of the conversation and she shut them out they weren’t any of her business what was her business was protecting Bliss and Fox, Selina too. She quietly turned informing the staff in the kitchen that she had an errand to run before they served the food and quietly went into Lowell’s office and the safe grabbing his pistol that was inside, casting one last glance at her family around the tree she slipped out the back of the kitchen having her driver open her car door. She had somewhere to be and someone that she needed to see to make sure her family was protected at all the costs.


“Your family has over a million ornaments mi amor why are we still out shopping? It’s Thanksgiving I hear this is the biggest feast of the year and we are in this store with all these people.” Sebastian said looking at Max face. She looked whimsical due to the magic in her eyes but he also saw a broken little girl. She’d been strong for everyone but herself because when she thought he was sleeping he heard the tears. All he could think about was that this narrative didn’t match the man. However DNA didn’t lie and Zerick was biologically Lowell’s son and that would never change. It disgusted him that Lowell violated Jackie’s own sister. As he leaned over he saw one that looked like a snowflake it had Swarovski crystals and what had to be diamonds on it. Max kept saying Christmas had to be perfect for Fox and Maddie but in all actuality he felt like she needed it to be perfect. Looking up he walked to the counter and took Max hand he pointed to the crystal ornament he saw. “That looks like a great one don’t you think?”

Just as he looked up he saw her walking through Renards she was still stunning as he remembered. The look on her face when their eyes connected he felt like he was in the Twilight Zone. She was so beautiful it hurt at times to look at her as if he was standing too close to the sun. Yet it was a inherent evil that lies beneath all that benevolent beauty. Sebastian turned around but he knew she would approach them. To be honest he assumed the fires in his vineyards a few months ago was her. She never took to him moving on and he was professing his love for Max already. No doubt she knew all about this and it was killing him to know that this was about to happen. “Max please don’t get pissed okay? That’s Gia my ex-girlfriend.”

Gia stood looking at Sebastian and Max and for the first time her resentment ate at her. He was a good man and she couldn’t have him. She felt the heat flustering to her face from the beautifully traditional girl that was Max Devonshire. She was a spoiled princess who seemed to have everything handed to her. Her Sebastian was broken but seeing the disgust on his face when he looked at her made her heart shattered. As she moved her hair she slinked up to them. Unwavering through Max’s disgusted expression. She looked as if she was intimidated by her but she had a defiant expression on her face. An expression that showed exactly who she was up against. She wasn’t cowering the look on her face if anything was attack. He must have yet to explained she had killers willing to end the princess life for nothing more than an order. As she ran her hands over her fur. She stepped into the jewelry store and walked closer to the ornaments.

“I’ve always been more taken with angels. They always seem to seep into your soul. I guess what I’m saying is that I have a Christmas gift for you. Want to see what I’ve gotten you?” Gia asked as she looked at Sebastian still ignoring Max as if she isn’t here. “I haven’t set any of your vineyards ablaze again. Did I get your attention? Did I explain to you that you will never be happy unless it was with me. You choose me and branded your spirit on me so I think you should know.” Gia leaned in so that Max wouldn’t hear her. “I won’t stop until I know you’re all mine so if you continue with this bitch I’ll kill her and everything she cares about.” Her voice barely above a whisper.

Max was going to make sure Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays were perfect that was her one job it was the one thing that she could make sure happened for her mother. For herself really so much had changed since the results came back so much in her life was over with her father was not the man that she adored and loved. He was not the man that any of them thought he was so what did that make her and her siblings? She wanted to block out the real world with people starting to pull out from DGI, from the company taking so many hits wanted to forget what the results said about her father. Forget that Zerick existed so she thought that the best way to do that was for her mother to start over with new ornaments on the tree for new memories. Her father was at the hospital he was not invited and she wondered if he ever would be welcome or invited again, he was not even mentioned when her mother asked them all over. Almost as if he never existed in her life and she wondered for a moment if that was how Hunter felt when they divorced as she knew it was only a matter of time till her parents officially ended their marriage, rumors were swirling at DGI over it. She had also heard her mother at the mansion in her study with Mason a few days ago it was going to happen after Thanksgiving. She was distracted when the woman approached them at Renards she had to remember that she was not the only one with a past but this woman was gorgeous like Italian gorgeous and she could tell that Sebastian had cared for her.

“Angels don’t burn down vineyards.” Max said just loud enough to cast a glare from Sebastian before Gia did the same and she let out a snide smirk at her. She had the other woman’s attention and she was not one to be simply dismissed by Sebastian’s former lover, she made sure to turn her body into his so that the woman got a good look at what he had now. “Max Devonshire and you must be some foreign lost woman in America? Sebastian and I have been together for a while now unless he forgot to tell you that? Or did you just seemingly forget that he didn’t want you anymore in his life and that was why you burned down his vineyard and stalked him here to Atlas Falls?” She said seeing the alarming look that Sebastian shot her and then wondering if she had overstepped her bounds with him and the woman instead she chose not to back down, he had told her about the vineyard burning it was the call he received a few weeks back. “Trust me had I been in Spain with him instead of fucking in the tub your little ploy would look like child’s play.”

Gia looked at Sebastian as if he’d lost his damn mind. How dare he allow this little bitch to speak to her as such. It took all her might not to backhand this little girl. “Listen little girl Sebastian has been mine for the last two years. He just let me go and love isn’t worth his life or his family life now is it?” She asked rhetorically as she walked to the counter. “Do you know why I set the vineyard on fire Max? Did he tell you? It was your fault. I could him slipping away and for a moment he was really happy. I could tell because he didn’t call me anymore. You don’t understand the love that we had and have for each other. It’s dangerous and that’s what he needed. Not some safe little Barbie, who seems to think she’s above a bullet between her head. Sebastian didn’t tell you? He likes them dark and twisty with an emphasis on dark. Well that had to be his infatuation with you. Max you are fucked up but I thought he just liked dangerous women not damaged. You did have a man who was stalking another woman as your lover. But a girl like you who has fucked her own teacher and married men could never.” She said with such sweet tone in her voice that she knew it was burning Sebastian and Max.

“I get the point, you’ve moved on but not with her. My name is Gia Falcone little girl one of the biggest mobsters on the east coast. I single evenhandedly brought the old world of Italy and new mafioso families together and he loved every fucked up minute of it. I invested in his vineyards did he tell you that when he was in debt and saved him. My money is bloody and it’s wrapped up in your boyfriend and his family’s hands. If I want to set the fucking vineyard ablaze that’s mine!” She hissed at Max. “You know nothing about the man you sleep with and it’s comical that you dare try to check me. I’m not one of the little girls you leave quaking I’m the bitch you say you are.”

“Wrong!” Sebastian quickly barked back. “Wrong I’ve paid you every damn penny you gave me back and you want me to embezzle your dirty money through my vineyards. You have no right to set my vineyards on fire nor do you have a right to come here and pretend I have touched you in any way in years. You Gia Falcone might be one of the biggest mobsters on the east coast but remember I know you. I know you deeply, I know you are a scared little girl and what makes it even more funny is that you are so much more ugly even as beautiful as you are. I could never love you it was lust and sex. You helped me and saved my family but we’ve repaid every debt. Tell me why are you here because since you know so much about the woman I’m dating, the woman I love! I love her!” This time screaming it so loud that everyone turned to them. “You could never get that from me because you are empty. It’s nothing to love.” Sebastian said making sure to stand between Max and Gia because he didn’t want this to turn into an all out brawl.

“Go away, go find someone else to bore with your tired games because Gia its over and please leave me and my family alone.” Sebastian declared as he stepped back. “Don’t threaten her, don’t come near me and if you don’t leave I’ll call Italy. I’ll call the Godfather himself and you know it.” Shocked to see Ronan Madden approaching them all his head shook. “Ahora todo esto tiene sentido, estás aquí por venganza. Chica tonta que pagras en sangre.” Then his chest peacocked out and Sebastian laughed. “I pity you sir because she’s a leech you never will be rid of.”

Max had taken basic Spanish in high school French was more her taste but she knew well enough to know that what Sebastian said to her was not nice and something about revenge. She saw Ronan Madden approaching them and instantly just stood there locking her mouth shut as she realized that Gia was that Falcone, the one that the news talked about sometimes. The one that could kill people when and if she choose that she didn’t like and she was obviously in cahoots with Ronan now too and he saw Ronan eyeing up Sebastian. She had to wonder what Gia was talking about when it came to his family being in business with her too, he had assured her it was just the winery that they ran. She simply handed the ornament to the cashier and handed her the card too the sooner they could leave the better. She knew when to hold her cards to her and not cause a scene with one of the most dangerous people in the east but she would find out what the bitch had dragged Sebastian into.

Ronan had been on the phone with a contact down in Florida assuring them that Gia was trustworthy something his contact had warned him about. He was not the man that thought with his fucking dick, or int he case maybe he was becoming him. Ever since their first encounter he hadn’t been able to stop fucking her not that she was his only option it was like he was able to be free again and he’d had a few girls over from the club on and off too. Most of it was fueled by seeing Brooke all over the news with Atticus and wanting to erase her from his mind and this was his way of doing so. He saw her about to lash out at Max Devonshire and a man that he simply knew as Sebastian and then he got a good look at him. He almost stopped in his tracks as he looked at him Sebastian Navarro, he hadn’t seen him in years and he walked up to Gia seeing Sebastian finally look at him too. They had all been so young back then and one night of partying had gone totally wrong he shook out the thoughts.

“Gia are you bothering those lesser than you? Besides I would love to take you back home for dinner.” Ronan asked knowing about his pact with Lowell was tricky last year they were business partners on the casino and he did swear to not hurt any of Lowell’s family. To him Gia should be more concerned with things in the north and the south trying to take over her territory and turning allies against her than Max. When his eyes met Sebastian’s and then he looked at Gia’s they were lovers at one time and he saw what she was doing was more than just marking her territory it was staking a claim on Sebastian as hers. “Navarro it has been a few years hasn’t it?”

“It hasn’t been long enough.” Sebastian said stirring his memories of the past. “Look we all knew each other long ago but I don’t want anything to do with either of you. So please all I’m asking is you both stay away from the life I’m building in Atlas Falls and with my girlfriend and love of my life.” He said impassioned as he looked at them both. “What we had is dead and over so please just let it go.” He took Max hand as he watched the cashier return with her credit card and he took her hand. “Mi Amor.” Walking away from the counter. “Happy Holidays.” Sebastian looked at Max and knew he had to explain. “It was a hard time. I was spurned from losing my fiance and I met her when I was vulnerable. Next thing I knew I was partying with mafioso and gotten involved deeply. It was two years ago, I went into a reclusive state and got my vineyards legal. I paid her back and have had nothing to do with any woman but the occasional one night stand.” Sebastian looked back at Gia.

Gia stared at Sebastian as she smirked at Ronan. “Why did you stop me? I was having fun and I assure you that bitch Max will kiss my ring. She will bow at my feet or I’ll chop hers off.” She turned and looked at him and saw how he was amused by her jealousy. “Stop it, I care about him and he has always been my friend. I don’t want him with that woman she’s toxic and I don’t think that he understands her poison is much different than mine. I know girls like Max maybe because once upon a time I was one of those girls. Dinner? I was going to just get some Turkey at La Callie it would be fine.” She said know he was addicted to the sex between them and she was also but she never was one to show her cards. As she slowly licked her lips she turned and touched Ronan face. “You are an animal in bed but he was the first man to show me unconditional love. He showed me that my body was more than a weapon it was to be loved and I love him for that.”

Ronan watched Sebastian walk away with Max it was a long time ago he had his regrets as far as what happened back then. It was hard on them all and saw Sebastian turn back around to look at them and did what he thought was best. Wrapping his arms around Gia he kissed her hard under the mistletoe that hung above and saw the look of disgust and partial jealousy on Sebastian’s face. “I say we pick up some turkey then and head back.”


Braden had been getting ready to head to the Devonshire mansion when Zach had called him and he had insisted that Tamara and Dylan had over by themselves he would catch up. He didn’t know what Zach was calling him about and it took him a few minutes to calm his cousin down before Zach had told him what he knew and rage boiled inside of him. He had picked up the glass decanter holding the family aged whiskey and had thrown it at the wall in a fit of rage and then grabbed his keys driving straight to the Delacroix estate. He wanted to see it for himself if anything  so he could put that smug asshole behind bars and he had parked in the driveway wondering who’s Mercedes was out front instead he had got out and slammed the door shut. He was not angry at her, he could never be angry at her but he was angry that she didn’t say anything until now to him or her family, he was angry that a man would do that to another woman and for a split second he wondered if not telling Tamara that the call involved Selina was wrong or not. He loved her he would always love her, but he wasn’t in love with Selina they weren’t meant to be married and he got that now as he went to the door and knocked he saw Jamal on the other side with his cousin.

“Where in the hell is she? And who’s stupid ass car is out front cause I swear to God if either of you let that asshole in here. I swear if either of you knew before today and said nothing I’m going to have words with both of you.” Braden said as he saw Jamal close the door behind him and he took a breath. His mind was racing a million miles a minute, he could prosecute this if she said so he could have Zach make the arrest or have Jon do it, all it would require was a statement from her and he would have Dimitri in a cell in a few hours tops. A judge would sign the order if there was physical proof. He then saw Selina in the kitchen with Tony, Ophelia and Mason and went to walk inside wrapping his arms around her pulling her close and then his eyes landed on fucking Elliot Duvall of all people what the fuck. “Someone better start to tell me what in the hell is going on. You should have told me Selina no one deserves this no one, where has he hit you?”

“It was just verbal for a long time. It was just him insulting me calling me stupid and treating me as if I was his property. A couple of weeks ago we went to the ballet it was an event that Atticus and Brooke attended. I loved it the opera was so enticing and then I told him he shouldn’t do something it happened so fast because I didn’t know what was going on. He pinned me against the wall and his men all watched as he stuck his fingers inside of me. Then it wasn’t enough because my cries and screams seemed to be happening at the crescendo of the opera. Everything was so loud and nobody could hear me screaming. He scratched my vagina I went to the doctor later that night. I told her rough sex but she knew something was wrong. He pinned me against that wall and had his way with me. Then after that it was constant slaps and belittling comments. I felt his fist soon.” She raised her shirt up on the side to show the blue and black marks on her body. The entire left side of her body was bruised.

“I just told them please don’t have me say it again. I have been being violently beaten by this man for the last month. He sexually assaulted and raped me at a opera house. Not only that I’m sure I have proof this woman in the bathroom helped me get put back together. I got a package in the mail a week later saying that I left my purse and I have the note. I wrote her a thank-you letter back. She knew what had happened to me that night. She comforted me and in her letter she says literally she heard about what happened to me. People saw him raping me and staff were horrified nobody stopped it. So I have proof and these last few weeks I went through hell. Are these enough? Bliss has been saying it for years now and I’m pissed! I’m pissed I let this happen to me. I’m pissed that he’s walking around and has the power to poison that baby. Fox doesn’t deserve it. Let’s be real we knew she was telling the truth and we all just ignored her. So I’m blessed to walk away please is this enough? Is this my body bruised, my face battered, and my word along with Bliss? Is that enough to bury him?”

Braden held her as she got it all out and tried his best to keep his body from shaking in rage at the incidents that she described terrible and horrible incidents.  It didn’t help he was angry, angry didn’t even describe what he was feeling at the moment maybe rage that wasn’t even the words he would use. When he felt that everyone was staring at them he slightly pulled back as she continued and he made a mental list of everyone that she encountered, everyone who could possibly have seen or heard something to back up her claims. The pictures were enough he knew that they had gotten an arrest warrant on less in the past, her going to the doctor but not filing the incident as an attack could be problematic. He marks were the worst she had marks from being kicked and punched worse marks than even his sister had last year and he felt his hands shaking as Zach placed his hand on his shoulder trying to calm him. It was enough for him that was all that mattered at the moment Dimitri would never set foot near her again or he’d die trying to make sure it never happened, he was broken out of his thoughts when he heard Zach’s voice saying his name he was too focused on looking at her and feeling his own eyes tear up.

“Jesus Christ. It’s enough.” He finally said as he looked at her, first things first he wanted to make sure she was safe and alright that was priority number one. He knew how this could go down with Dimitri, how dangerous women that were in her position could be when they reached this stage. He assumed it was why Bliss had to leave her son like she did, it was something he and a few other colleagues had talked about at the office international law was not his specialty but he could do something now that he was on American soil. He was going to take Dimitri down the legal way he just had to be smart about it. “You did good I can use all of this.” Braden said looking over at his cousin and then at Jamal. “Selina needs to stay here tonight that is not negotiable you can have a room for her I will make sure there is an officer here. Who else have you called about this?” Braden said hearing his own voice shake a bit and raise a notch.

“I got my sister so don’t worry man.” Jamal said looking at Braden. They had never liked each other and this time they were on the same side. “I’m going to say this either you get this motherfucker or I’m calling all the favors I can. I swear to God bro. Either we can do this legal or I’m using every connection I made last year and that’s a promise. I’m end his life my hands or someone else. You the only one who knows right now.” Jamal said giving him a stern look as he walked out of the room. “Do your job Fraiser or the streets will for you.”

Zach watched Jamal walk out in a huff and he became enraged. That little prick had gotten off for selling drugs because he was rich and now he was puffing his chest out? Demanding justice work in his favor after his privilege stole the judicial system? “We have enough to arrest him with this Selina. We can take some photos when Bianca our female officer arrives. We want to make you comfortable okay honey. I also want to warn you all that Dimitri is going to provoke and push you all. If he’s any bit as sadistic as we’ve all heard you all need to be ready.”

Selina knew Zach was right as she pulled herself back from Braden knowing they were done but his love was all over her. “I just needed to hurt everyone and I was so enraged that I spent years working for these men and for them to dismiss me the way they did. For my marriage to be crumbling the way it was. For everything to be going the way it was and I couldn’t handle it. So I ran and when I ran into him I thought it was going to get a good prince and I got a violent bastard. I hurt you all by being so stupid and put you all in danger. This is crazy I’m not that girl! I’m not the girl who gets.” She paused as she walked to the stove and begin to coat the lamb that she put on. “I wanna cook so everyone just please just leave the kitchen.” That’s when she heard a knock on the door and her entire body ran cold. He was here. He was the last person to arrive. “I think that might be him.”

Dimitri had sat as far back as he could from the Devonshire mansion watching Bliss and Fox through the glass of the mansion annoyed when he saw her smile. No matter her happiness would be short lived especially after what happened the other day at her little fake house with Hunter. He was going to make sure her life was miserable from here on out and he’d make sure to take Hunter out along the way of course his brother would be upset given his re-engagement to Brooke but it was easy to stage an accident. One that would paint Hunter as a hero for the narrative, leave Bliss to him with no choice but to return back to the island with him and Fox. He knew that she still loved and wanted him she was just playing hard to get again when his phone buzzed and he looked at the time he then swiped to silence it. For now he was needed at the Delacroix mansion upholding appearances while Selina kept her fucking mouth shut. If not he had no problems making her keep her mouth shut, he’d been making sure that she had been over the last few weeks. She was so weak and he almost laughed at how easy it had been for him to manipulate her to this point.

He put the car into drive and made his way through the streets of Atlas Falls parking in the driveway and taking note that her faggot brother was here with his cop lover. There was another car in the driveway that he didn’t recognize and then his eyes landed on the other car. She had called her DA friend of an ex and he raged inside. She had a lot of fucking nerve inviting him here of all people she was the one that wanted her divorce so badly from Braden Fraiser he had been the one to expedite that and make sure it happened and this is how she repayed him? He got out of the car slowly looking up at the mansion which was a mere piece of ruble compared to the castle that he would inherit on the island that was as soon as his father was out of play. Which he prayed would be soon he was tired of playing the charming prince in America to gain sympathy for the crown. He wanted to be home with Fox and Bliss in tow, wanted to make sure that she never thought about leaving again. Wanted to make sure that Fox started to be trained for his duties to the crown and his country and none of that could happen here where Bliss, Selina and their family and friends could poison Fox against him. He walked to the door and knocked before stepping inside when he saw Jamal open the door and before he knew it he was tackled form behind and thrown to the ground.

Jamal laughed as Braden went to town on him. He didn’t even see it because he pounced so fast. Old boy could say what he wanted but he still had some connection to Selina because he was furious. He’d never seen Braden punch so furiously and quickly he ran up and started kicking him while he was on the ground. When Braden looked up at him he saw Mason and his father running out except they weren’t there to stop they both began to beat Dimitri ass. It was something out of a movie because his uppity dad was here stomping out Dimitri with him. This was a hell of family bonding time. Before he knew it he saw four huge men charging toward them. That’s when he heard a familiar click from a gun. Not just any gun but his momma had a shotgun and walked out looking pissed. “What motherfucker! You thought you’d beat our sister? Nah bro!” He screamed at him as he looked over at Eli leaning back laughing with Val. This was quite a sight. Mason who was the least violent out of them all was swinging so furious he didn’t know his bro had it in him. His father was stomping and kicking like he was in a New Orleans jazz band. Braden hadn’t stopped punching since he began.

Ivan walked up and was shocked at what he saw. Seeing the Delacroix’s outside wilding and he saw the DA about to act a fool on old boy. “Yo copper you going to stand there and let the DA kill whoever this is?”

Zach saw Ivan and rolled his eyes he should have known Jamal invited this criminal. He quickly walked to his cousin and grabbed him. “Braden you’re going to kill him. Stop it now you have a son.”

Selina stepped out seeing the bloody mess that was Dimitri and a feeling of relief. He looked close to death and she felt the fear. The fear that echoed inside of her. “You aren’t a God or a King you are a man. A broken man who I promise that I will break. I will never break and you thought you took the will out of my body. You thought you stole my joy but no you could never. I’m surrounded by so much love that it consumes me and heals me. You could never be loved like this and you could never break me again. I’m alive again and no man will ever and I mean ever break me. Get your master boys because he will not be coming near me or Bliss again. Braden has ordered us both orders of protection and that means you can’t be around Fox.”

Tony had no idea what had overcome him when he saw Braden pummel Dimitri to the ground and lose control. It only took him a few moments but his body had moved to Dimitri and he began to stomp his foot as furiously as he could. He saw Mason join in as well as Jamal and rage overcame him for what Dimitri had done to his daughter that was his only thoughts. It was what he thought about every hit that he did to her as he continued only to be pulled back to reality when Ophelia appeared with a shotgun. He stopped pulling himself and Mason back and watched in horror as Braden didn’t stop.

Mason was so angry at first he was just going to let the other men do it he was not one to lose his temper or resort to violence he was raised better than that. But seeing Dimitri on the floor yelping and in pain when Braden began to wail on him, something snapped. He unleashed all his rage on Dimitri the moment that he saw his sister looking at Braden and Dimitri horrified and he was sure it was because she herself was in rage at what Dimitri did to her. His fists were swinging at the man laying on the ground along with his feet. He saw Jamal and his father doing the same by the time he stopped when Ivan spoke he looked horrified at Zach as he pulled Braden off.

Braden had no self control the moment that door opened people always said his family had tempers and his exploded in a fit of rage as he tackled Selina’s tormentor to the ground. It was the only thing that he thought about as his hands turned into fists as he pinned Dimitri down and began to punch him in the face over and over again. He didn’t stop he wanted to hurt him for Selina the rage he felt at what he had done to the woman that he had loved for so many years, they ended very badly last year but that didn’t just erase what he had felt for her for years. He was brought out of his trance seeing the skinned knuckles he had the blood all over Dimitri’s face and his hands as Zach drug him off and he realized he could have just jeopardized everything by attacking Dimitri like he did. He was acting DA attacking the man that he was going to have arrested and he saw Selina looking at him like he was a monster when she spoke and saw Dimitri’s guards getting him up.

Dimitri’s head hurt how in the hell did this happen and then it hit him, she had told them about what he had done he had tried to fight back the assault but four to one was not even odds. His ears were ringing as he felt the other man pummeling his face and wondered how this would look for her story. He let out a maniacal laugh as his security team swooped in ending the attack on him and handing him their handkerchiefs to clean the blood dripping off his face as they helped him up. She was a dead woman walking as far as he was concerned and he would make sure of it this time, not just her but her entire family. He felt his guards dragging him back and shrugged them off against her little ploy on words and laughed again at her. He had this in the bag now, she had made the mistake no strike that her family had made the mistake of jumping without thinking.

“You’re a weak and pathetic woman without me you couldn’t even please me right. I gave you everything you ever wanted Forbes didn’t hire you because you were smart. He hired you to piss off Lowell and because I told him too. I absolved your marriage to Braden and who exactly will believe you now? You’re dead you hear me? You and your family are dead and I will make it my life’s work to see to it. I do wonder how this will look to the judges and the courts in America the beating of a royal prince on American soil by none other than the noble and just Atlas Falls DA and his crony of friends who just so happen to be related to you. Mark my words do your worst Amanda will make sure this is all taken care of. You’ve met her she can be very persuasive when it comes to matters of state for me and my siblings. Fox will never be taken from me.” Dimitri started lunging for her only for the blast of a shotgun exploding the vase next to him making him jump back about three feet as he saw Mason’s gay lover rush the woman holding it. He felt his men dragging him to the door and saw the horror on Selina’s face as the words sank in saw the defeat on the man that was beating him five minutes ago he had fucked up. “Sleep tight Selina seems your ex just solidified my case to make sure that I keep my son from fanatical people like you and your family not to mention Bliss. Do dream of me while you do.”

Ophelia had enough of this animals ranting at her daughter and fired the gun only messing up her aim the very last second instead hitting one of the vases that Gloria had bought years ago instead of the asshole standing in front of her. She wrestled with the gun from Zach as she yelled. “No he doesn’t get to come here and threaten my family like that! He doesn’t get to threaten to hurt them and kill them! Prince or not he doesn’t get to try and intimidate my daughter with thin threats anymore.”

Selina looked over at Ophelia and grabbed her hand knowing that she was her mother just as Gloria and Jackie was. “I am fine. We need to warn Bliss. Someone call Bliss and tell her what has happened.”


Lowell swirled his motorized chair around and saw Tess lighting candles on the dining room table. As he looked at her he smiled because who would have thought out of his everyone Tess would be staying by his side. His hands were beginning to lose control and soon he’d be done with being able to get around completely. David said it would only be a few months and soon he’d be bed bound and all they’d be able to do is feed him. A man who ran a billion dollar empire was destroyed because his body. As he looked at his phone not one message from a friend or family member. The feeling of isolation was so intense he felt like he couldn’t breathe. As he turned away he rolled to the patio which was a frozen beautiful tundra. Exhaling the icy air tears started to fall down his face. It was his last winter. The last time he’d see the world cold and icy. In his heart ice laid dormant because they didn’t know. His eyes were on the lake outside and he saw the mansion lit up. It was Christmas time and he never thought about how others looked at his home with the longing he felt at this moment. He wanted to be there so badly and he wanted his family. Even with all the ugly words exchanged and how the let him down he was determined to get his children to understand. As he felt the winds of winter ripping against his skin. He knew for a fact that he had lost it all but tonight wasn’t about that. Lowell had only a little life to live and he planned on living it happily. If Jackie wanted to hate him he’d be with Tess until he died then. That’s just what it was and she wasn’t a second prize for once he saw she was devoted to him even when he didn’t not deserve it.

Belle walked out with a blanket and placed it on Lowell’s shoulders as she looked at the Devonshire mansion across the lake glowing like an unattainable prize. Her designer high heel boots crunched in the snow as she sat down and turned on the fire pit. “I love the cold.” She said looking at him and finally understanding where she got it from. Dusting the snow off with her hand she sat down and smiled at him. “I’m bloody glad you’re here. I’ve heard quite the stories about you and Tess. You two really had something special, I just have to wonder if you loved her so much why didn’t you leave? Why didn’t you go if you loved her and it’s clear she loves you. I mean no offense Lowell you are in a wheelchair and getting sicker by the day. Yet here she is taking care of you and you did what for her? Embarrass her and get her ostracized by her family for loving you.” Belle looked down when she saw how hurt her was by her assertion of him.

“I’m sorry but you bloody well have some explaining to do. I mean this woman has worshiped you forever and you never thought to love her for all she was doing? To show her she was a good woman? Reward her for carrying your children.” Belle said curiously. “Or was she just another toy to you? It’s funny being put on the shelf isn’t it? You’d know all about that because your children are doing that to you at this very moment.”

Lowell smiled she had balls that was for sure. Ever since he met Belle he’d had some undeniable pull to this little girl. She was stunning as Tess was when he first met her. Not only that she was spirited more than any of his other children. He could see they all wanted to be the top dog but this girl ego made her the top dog. He respected that because it was the same swagger he had to get to the top. Belle also didn’t hold any punches which made her feel completely like Tess. As butlers arrived with hot chocolate with peppermint handed it to them both he smiled at her. “You certainly don’t mince your words now do you Belle?” He asked with a sarcasm that couldn’t be missed. “I guess you can say I’m wrong for seeing it now but better late and now then never. I spent a lifetime building a company that I loved more than any of my women. It’s something I’m not proud of but I showed DGI more love than I ever did my family. I nurtured it and made sure that I never hurt it at the expensive of my family. Now I’d do anything to get a moment back without them all looking at me like a monster.” Lowell confessed as he sipped the chocolate and knew she deserved the truth.

“I did love Tess just as much as Jackie. I loved her so much that I had to stay away because I’d leave my marriage and the one time I thought about it, I went to a lawyer and everything. Jackie would have gotten more than half and I couldn’t have that. So I stayed in my marriage when I wasn’t happy until I found out I was happy. I was happy with her and my youth blinded me on that. I should have been at home helping her cook dinners for today instead I was flying across the world lying about my location so that I could visit my mistress and other daughter. Tess was special to me and so is Jackie but she doesn’t believe in me. Jackie believes those lies and I can’t figure out but someone changed those DNA test results. I didn’t rape Kathleen, Belle that’s a promise. I swear to you that I’m not that man. I guess my family has been burnt from my promises to do better and be better that they just don’t believe anymore.” He said as he touched her hand. “Thank-you for following Tess lead and believing in me.”

“Why should I listen to a DNA test when I’ve known the rich and powerful to do whatever they want. If they want you to be the father then you will be. So I say do your own DNA test that isn’t known by anyone. So that they can’t say he’s your I think it’s more going on.” Belle said taking a sip of chocolate. Her eyes narrowed looking at her mother coming out interrupting there moment.

“Dinner is ready come on you two, I’m going to grab a bottle of wine are you ready?” She gave Belle a look like not to get too close to fast. She had to appear just as shocked as Lowell would eventually be. When she revealed that would be her crowning achievement against Jackie and the Devonshire brats. She was going to steal her husband and finally reclaim her family. Her eyes narrowed as Belle past her and she looked at Lowell. “What on earth were you two talking about?”

“She was questioning how good I was for you. Which I commend your goddaughter was absolutely tough as nails I want to pat her parents on the back because she slightly intimidates me with her bravado. But she gives herself away though underneath she’s too vulnerable.” Lowell grabbed Tess hand and looked at her with a love and appreciation he never had for her. “Thank-you for being here Tess. Someone believes me. Someone understands that I’m not that man.” He reached out and grabbed both hands. “Thank-you Tess. I love that you have been my friend for such a long time and now I am hoping to rectify so mistakes in my past. Especially not being with you when I should have.” Rory wouldn’t be here without Tess she was the reason that Jackie had another baby. “They all hate me and I don’t know if that is what I want. I want them around me to listen to all my advice because with my death becoming public knowledge soon. Well I’ll die knowing someone had faith in me and love me.”

Tess held onto Lowell hand and the stinging guilt ate at her. Her eyes grew larger as she looked at the tears forming in her eyes as she looked at him. “I could never think of you as that man. I know you Lowell. I know your ins and outs and I know your heart. I hate that your children have been so unfeeling. Together we will repair your reputation I promise you that.” She exhaled as she looked at Belle picking off of everything. “We better get into the house Lowell, she’ll eat up everything and not gain a pound.” Tess said as he turned his chair around and she took his hand. As they walked in she watched Lowell and Belle laughing. She closed her eyes and quickly saw Bliss, Hunter, Lowell, some ridiculously handsome boy, and Belle. They were eating dinner at Christmas. She covered her mouth because she just couldn’t believe the feelings. She was happy and afraid all at once. The happiness was that she had her man in her hands. The manipulation of what she was doing with Forbes was enough to drive her crazy also. The fear and being afraid that all the secrets and lies she had inside of her were going to destroy this before it started. All someone had to do was look further into the past and they’d uncover what they’d done.

“Let’s say our prayers and let’s dig in. Or I say my beautiful goddaughter will have picked over everything.” She said softly as she walked to the table. Turning to look back at the Devonshire mansion she felt her heart swell.

“Please hurry up I’ve always wanted to partake in a classic American, Thanksgiving. It always looked delicious on the telly. So let’s eat we can pray but let’s chow.” Belle said looking at her mother and father. “I know you don’t have your children but Mr. Devonshire you have me and I can be your daughter.”

Tess turned to look at Belle as if she’d lost her damn mind. When she saw Lowell looking lovingly at her she knew she was more manipulative than Lowell gave her credit for. Something she wouldn’t forget. Bliss had always been stubborn and feisty while she hadn’t raised Belle to learn all the ticks that made her a full person. Watching her daughter she felt like she understood the main difference between her two children. Bliss had taken all the good from her and Lowell while Belle had to take the bad of her parents. “Well Lowell will you lead the prayer.”

“Absolutely.” Lowell said. “Heavenly father, in your name we humbly pray for you to bless the food today. Not only that but father I want you to bless my family. I know at one point I thought I was too big to pray, and I thought that I didn’t need you. Vain and human are the only two words that come to mind right now. I know for a fact that you’ve protected my children and me from so much. I hope you have a plan for what this is because I’m coming to meet you soon. Very soon the truth will come out and I pray that everyone gets peace. Amen.”

Tess looked up at Belle and saw she looked visibly torn. “Amen.” As she got up to grab a bottle of wine she looked at her placing one single finger on her lips and as she returned to the table. “Let’s eat.” A


Devin pulled the rental car up into the restaurant and helped Merci out they had been at the hotel most of the day after the flight out and he had ignored a few calls from Miranda. Honestly he didn’t want to get sucked up into the drama of Miranda and KC’s marriage especially after what happened at the station. He didn’t actually want to be around the Harrison’s this time he was relieved when instead it was suggested that he take a few days off and visit his sister in California with his parents for the holidays. It was neutral ground for them to meet Merci and he knew that she would be welcomed by them maybe as not as warmly as Miranda was but his parents could appreciate that he was with her. He looked over at her as he got out of the car and walked around to get her door, she was dressed nicely for dinner and he only hoped that she wasn’t disappointed it wasn’t like they were eating somewhere fancy.

“Just relax my parents and my sister are going to love you and after we can go back to the hotel as soon as you would like. I know you are worried about whatever happened with you and Skye the other day but she’s spending the holidays with Thor and you and I can have tonight and the rest of the weekend. I am sure she will be able to do without you until we get back.” Devin said wanting to reassure her as he helped her out of the car he could tell that she was still worried about meeting his parents and sister likely because she couldn’t return the gesture. He locked the car as the started to walk into the restaurant and smiled at the waiter when they informed him the rest of their party was not there yet. He placed his arm around her shoulder why they waited and could tell that she was still upset about everything with Skye. “Do you want to talk about what is bothering you? Is it being here and meeting my folks and Rochelle or is it Skye?”

Merci heart had been pounding since she’d found out that Jon was the father of Skye’s kid and not only that the boy was adopted into the Hessington family. She’d thought about scheme after scheme but it all came up blank how in the hell would she get this kid from them? This was about to be another scandal for Skye and she didn’t see it as such. It was about to shake up so many lives and all she could do was think of how they could get Miles back. Looking down at her silk slip dress and Manolo Blanik heels. She felt simple but also enough flash was with her jewels. Working for the elite of Atlas Falls paid her handsomely and she was happy to say she was becoming financially stable after years of living paycheck to paycheck. “It’s nothing the Harrison’s are having a dinner and I have it covered. KC wanted to surprise everyone with this big lavish dinner and I did it. I’m not there but Margaux is and she’s more than capable. I guess I’m worried that Skye has finally done something so stupid that she’s going to ruin not just her own life but so many others.” She exhaled as she looked at Devin.

“And I’m being completely stupid because I’m on the best date ever meeting your parents and I’m here pouting about my troubles back home. Forget Skye and the police force and any parties I’m here because I didn’t know I’d be able to get a guy like you. You are so much perfection it isn’t funny and so much better than I deserve. So I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m sorry if I’ve been off today. Today is about us and I can deal with everything else later.” She clutched her purse and wrapped her shawl around her shoulders. “I’m nervous I guess also. This is the first time I’ve met someone’s parents considering I have a long line of one night stands. Oh my God what if Miranda or one of those Harrison’s called them and filled them in on my past. They’ll hate me.”

Devin hadn’t been really focused on Skye the last few weeks he had agreed to back off because Merci asked him to and to get along with her. Not to mention the FBI case was going ahead full steam against Ronan and Thor and he only hoped that maybe Skye didn’t get drug into it for Merci’s sake but he had a feeling she would be. He would be there to make sure that Merci wasn’t effected by it as much as he could that was something he was going to be adamant about she’d been through a lot with Kendrick and other men he was going to be better for her. She looked so gorgeous in the dress that would not have been practical at home where it was damn near freezing but that silk against her skin was perfect. He wondered what was holding up his parents and Rochelle and he figured it was probably traffic nor that Atlas Falls didn’t have it but it wasn’t back to back on a six lane freeway either. He didn’t think Miranda would be that petty and call Rochelle or his parents to give them the lowdown on Merci’s past that wasn’t in her to do it. No matter what beef they had with each other he knew that Miranda had a class about her and wouldn’t want it done to her.

“Miranda is petty but not that petty and if they knew about you my mother wouldn’t have been begging me for the last few months to bring you by and introduce you. You’re going to do great all you have to do is smile at them and be yourself, be the you that I get to see and trust me there is no way they don’t or won’t instantly like you.” Devin said reassuring her again as the waiter led them back to the back patio fo the restaurant it reminded him of La Callie back home but much more posh. Merci was self made with her business and could afford it and he knew that his parents could too and if he had a feeling it meant Rochelle could too and since this whole thing was her idea well he was not going to let his little sister cover the bill no matter how great of a doctor she was. He held out the seat for her as they sat down and he sipped the cold water on the table. “When I told them you ran your own business it was something my mother was really happy about honestly. I don’t come from money like Kendrick did no matter how he got it so sometimes it can be intimidating to be with you honestly. Your clients pay you so well for what you do and you should be proud of that and what you have created Merci.” Devin said pausing and then standing up when he saw his mother, father and Rochelle approaching the table. “Mom, dad, Rochelle I would love for you all to meet Merci DuBois.”

Anita smiled at Merci and walked up to give her a hug first as she turned to look at her husband. “My son does not bring many women around so to have you here honey. I think you are important to him. Come on girl sit down this was Rochelle idea. She said she didn’t want to have to clean up so if anything is nasty blame her.” She said with a ferocious look shot at Rochelle. “I don’t blame her because I hate doing the dishes but my macaroni and cheese is the bomb.” Anita clapped looking at Devin. “How my bougie ass brother? Is Jamal ass still playing gangster? That was some crazy shit.”

Gregory smirked at his son and wife. Shaking his head at her bold personality. He walked up to Merci and also hugged her letting her know they were all family. “Well welcome as you can see my wife is mighty opinionated and I’m just here to eat and have some fun. She’d much rather be doing the cooking as she announced but I’m with my baby girl we should and have time to enjoy ourselves together as a family. Anyway come on sit down and let’s talk.”

Merci eyed Anita and smiled brightly she was so down to earth and Gregory seemed to immediately calm Anita though. They were balanced and she saw it and maybe that’s what Devin saw in her. She immediately hugged Anita and Greg back and sat down. The one who she couldn’t get a read on was Rochelle.

“Now tell me something about you girl? I mean the girl that snatched my baby from Miranda he wanted that girl forever honey.” Anita said looking at them as the appetizers arrived. She picked up a deviled egg and took a bite.

“I’m a party promoter and planner in Atlas Falls. If you want an event done then I’m your girl. I built my business off the back of my own. I’m pretty known for throwing the most lavish and upscale events. But overall I’m just a girl who was given up for adoption and worked her way up to doing parties and events for millionaires. Devin just was something I couldn’t get away from. He’s honest and true and has been patient with me. That makes me love him even more.” It just slipped out but she truly meant it. The shocked but smile on his face showed her that he was feeling the same way. “We just fell in love and Rochelle it’s nice to meet you.”

Rochelle had just gotten off a double shift, changed and made her way to the restaurant to see the woman that broke up Miranda and her brother. She made her way to the table with her parents as she hugged her brother and eyed Merci up and down. She had always liked Miranda and they were close so she knew what happened last year with Merci throwing herself at Devin. It wasn’t like her brother was innocent either and willingly led Miranda and Merci on. “Dev.” She said hugging him as she sat down and listened to her parents make small talk with Merci she looked over at her when she said hello to her. “It is nice to finally met you Miranda told me so much about last year.” She said getting kick from her brother under the table and looks from her parents and she shrugged.

“Uncle is doing ok and so is Jamal I think last year scared some sense into him or I hope it did.” Devin said giving his sister a warning as did his parents, this was her idea and he knew that she and Merci could learn to get along. Hell they had a lot in common from what he knew they liked a lot of the same music and TV shows. “Roch play nice. You and Miranda can be as nosy as you two want but it wasn’t ever going to work out between me and her in the long run. I care about her as a friend and you know Quinn is important to me but she wasn’t the one for me. I found Merci and in some ways yeah she found me too when I was grasping to something that I wanted to be real but it never was. Did you know that Merci here is just as huge of a fan of The Walking Dead as you are?” Devin said not mentioning KC yet to his parents or Rochelle knowing that if he did and even being states away it could always get back to Ronan putting the entire operation to a moot point. “I love her too.”

Devin saw his sister was still skeptical but saw his parents were happy for him Rochelle would come around eventually he was sure of it. He had fallen in love with Merci and he wasn’t going to be ashamed of that or try and pretend it was less than that. He saw Rochelle relent just a little as the waiter arrived and they all placed their orders. “So are you guys still planning that huge road trip to Yellowstone this summer or are you guys pushing it back again because you’re worried about me and Roch again? I think if everything goes well tonight me and Merci maybe might want to tag along I’d like her to see the house in Arizona.”  His parents had retired and moved to Arizona as soon as his father was done with the force and now they both loved to travel when they weren’t so upset about him and Rochelle and worried they were both failing at love and happiness. “Plus I’m not the only one with a dating secret now am I little sister?”

She slowly tossed her hair it was clear her friendship with Miranda had soured her taste on her. As she looked at her picked up a bottle of wine and quickly took a sip. “I love Michonne that’s my good sis.” She said looking at Rochelle who nodded equally enamored by Michonne. Taking a sip of wine she looked at Anita smirking.

“As I told her before you both even got here. That girl needs to mind her own damn business. She too busy sniffing around all those hot eligible bachelors that are doctors I’d have a grandbaby. Hell I’m glad y’all saying you two love each other. I’m getting too old to be sending you two grownups Christmas gifts. I want a grandbaby Greg and I’m going to keep pestering them until I have it.” She leaned into Merci. “So how close am I to a little DJ or MJ you know Devin Jr. or Merci Jr.”

“Girl they just said they love each other recently didn’t you see our boy face?” Greg said looking at Anita with a chuckle escaping his mouth. “You’ll have to excuse my children and wife. She just baby cray right now. Isn’t that what you kids are saying?”

“Don’t excuse me, and what have I told you about using cop tricks on me and the kids. They didn’t have a normal childhood because they couldn’t lie to the human lie detector. Anyways my grandbaby and who you hunching on girl.” Seeing Rochelle growing bright red. “I just got questions.”

“No grandchildren I have enough baby problems.” She said comfortable as she figured out how that slip would be noticed by Devin. “I have a horrible client who is having the babyshower from hell. Oh Rochelle I heard you love Rihanna me too so I was thinking when she goes on tour maybe we could come back out here and see the show together. Just us girls.”

Devin looked over at his mother horrified at her comment he was not ready to have a baby with Merci but he got why she was having the fever. All her close friends around her had grandchildren. He thought it was in reference to the baby shower a few months ago it was kinda hell and terrible or maybe it was something else. “How about we just wait and see with me and Merci I don’t think either of us want a child right away and we just barely started to actually date mom and just said we were in love like five minutes ago.” He said looking at Merci with a smile as he then looked at his sister. “She is seeing Julian again.”

Rochelle almost choked on her water when her brother opened up his big dumb mouth her mother looked like she was going to croak and her father had dropped his fork. Julian was not a bad guy and yes he was married at one point but they were separated when they got together for the first time. “Sure just as long as my brother isn’t invited to the soirée, seriously Devin?” She said looking at him knowing that her parents never liked Julian to begin with but it was different this time. “Quit looking at me like that both of you he’s divorced now and it’s not like he’s sleeping around either. He recently took over Bellview so he’s not even at the same hospital anymore.”

“Well I hope you and Julian are good.” Merci said as she poured herself another glass as the food started to be brought out. Her face flushed as the talk about babies hit her. She reached under the table. “I have an announcement I’m pregnant.” She said as a big smile spread across her face and before she knew it a laugh burst out her face. “Okay I’m kidding but I promise you this Anita. If and when I ever get pregnant by this amazing man. Then I’ll make sure you are my first call you hear me.”

Anita pouted as she started to fix everyone plate as the food was brought out them. “Okay enough with teasing me and Rochelle girl you know we are going to be talking about that snake Julian. That man left you heartbroken girl and he’s years older than my baby. Greg you got my blood pressure medicine?” She said, shaking her head. As she took a bite out of macaroni & cheese she scrunched her face. “It’s okay.”

“Girl it’s good.” Gregory said smiling at Devin and Merci. “They kinda remind me of us. You know you got after women like your momma. I was shocked with you and Miranda. Both of y’all too stoic to work.” He laughed as he grabbed his wifes’ and daughters’ hand. “Lord I come to you grateful to be spending time with my family. Now normally we’d be in Atlas Falls but you’ve blessed us to be able to go around the country. My son asked me recently father if we are going on a trip. I am blessed to tell them that we are going on a European trip for Christmas for a month. Lord you’ve provided me a smart son who is giving his life to protect others and a daughter who you provided with the power to heal and save lives. Finally you’ve brought some fun into our lives with this young lady right here who will bring laughter, love and light. In your name we pray amen.” Gregory heard everyone saying amen and he smiled. “So tell me what are your family up to this holiday season?”

Merci took a bite of turkey and saw Devin face she nodded to let him know it was cool. “My family gave me up for adoption and that’s just a way of my life. So I have no clue what they are up to. While my sister and best friend Skye is enjoying the holidays with her boyfriend. We were together since we were kids at the orphanage and honestly I feel like it’s beautiful two people unconnected could become so connected that they become family.” She felt good about that explanation.

Devin saw everyone relax at the table as the food came out and silently thanked his own prayer on top of his dad’s at that. He wanted Merci to feel comfortable  When they asked her about the holidays he smiled at her knowing that she handled it the best way she could. By the time dessert arrived he was stuffed and the mood had turned relaxed. Merci was laughing with his sister and his parents. He watched as his sister finally excused herself making note she had work the next day. He got up from his seat as he held out his hand for Merci. “Speaking up working and the evening I promised this young lady a walk on a beach. So as much as I would love to be pestered for the rest of my life by you both can we call it an evening and maybe do brunch tomorrow?”

“Baby I need me a mimosa and my new girlfriend Merci is going to show me all those shops. So absolutely you and Greg here are stuck with us.” She clapped as she flipped her hair. “Ahhhh I can’t wait to tomorrow girlfriend!”

“Help us all.” Gregory leaned in and hugged his son and then Merci.

Merci looked at Devin and smiled she winked at Devin and took his hand. “Goodnight.” She said softly as she walked down the hallway to the car. “So I think that went pretty good if I’m going to toot my horn thank you for remembering your promise.” Tussling her hair she saw a smile on his face. “I’m happy baby.” She said kissing his lips stepping into the car when he opened the door. “Your girlfriend is the bomb just admit it.”

“Yeah she’s pretty amazing.” Devin said as he closed the door behind her and walked around to the driver side and put the car in drive. California traffic was no joke and it felt like forever before they reached the turn off to the nearest beach. Once there he parked the car wondering if she had ever seen the ocean or not. He had a few times thanks to his sister being out here but he wondered if Merci had ever had that luxury. He saw her eyes get wide and looked her and knew he had his answer as he smiled at her. “You’ve never seen the ocean have you? It’s even better when you dip your feet in if you want.”

She shook her head no and finally saw what she had been running from for a long time. A world that she hadn’t explored. He was the first person who took her to a beach. He was the first to show her how much she hadn’t seen. Tears pooled in her eyes as she ran into the ocean and let out a shriek at the cool water. The wind was blowing against the humid air that made this feel perfect as she turned to Devin she smiled at him. Running to him she jumped into Devin arms and let her tongue explored his mouth. As the smell of his cologne and saltwater mixed inside her nostrils. Merci looked around and saw no others on the beach it must have been magic. Slipping her straps off her dress she smiled at him as her dress billowed around her feet. “So are you going to stand here or are you going to follow me into the water.”

Merci sauntered away and walked into the water which wasn’t as cold for some reason. As she looked back Devin was stripping as fast as he could. She giggled to herself as the waves crashed against her body. The water splashed her hair and she immediately dipped her head underneath the water. Coming up she was dripping wet her hair curled and laid down her back. Looking over her shoulders she saw Devin swimming closer to her. She started to swim away further from him until he sped up so fast that he had captured her. Wrapping his muscular arms around her she turned to face him feeling his nudity. She leaned in and kissed his lips. “I want to see the world with you. Like your parents are doing but I don’t want to wait that long. I want to see everything with you.” She kissed him deeply again. “Make love to me officer.”

Devin watched her as she left the car to walk down the beach to the ocean she had never seen it the wonder was in her eyes and he was happy that he was able to do this for her. He watched her shriek as her bare legs hit the water it would be cold not too cold not like lake Everest back home but chilly. The difference was with the heatwave that had happened for California the water would be warm too from the currents coming up from Hawaii. When she ran to him to kiss him, he eagerly returned the gesture trying to remember when was the last time that he felt this free with a woman and he had to admit it had been a while since before Miranda. His hands gripped her waist pulling her closer to him and he let out a groan when she pulled back. Most of their attempts to consummate their relationship had been interrupted or averted due to outside circumstances.

He watched her step back and start taking off her clothes and looked around the beach to make sure there wasn’t anyone there to arrest them or worse and as he looked at her body underneath those clothes he wondered if they would actually not be interrupted this time. She had a gorgeous body that he found himself staring at as she made her way into the water and when she asked if he was following he quickly undid his pants and joined her in the ocean. The water was slightly cold but also had a hint of warmness from the sun as he jumped in and searched the water for her under the moonlight. When he spotted her he swam through the slight waves to reach her pulling her to him and smiling at her. “I think I can oblige you on that request.” He said leaning in and kissing her as he wrapped her waist around her hips in the ocean feeling himself swell at the intimacy, he slowly moved his hands up her sides letting the water hold some of their weight as he did so, teasing her nipples while his mouth continued to explore hers. He felt her squirming and had to smirk a bit when he pulled back wondering if she was ready or not, not able to tell in the water. He braced himself at her entrance and then lowered her into him watching her face contorting up at the action the pleasure etched on it. “Fuck.” he managed to get out feeling her gripping him in the process.

He was so tender as he entered her body. It was perfect for them to be experiencing this at this moment. They had just admitted they were in love and after a long time of waiting here they were. False starts and the passion between them was immense. As she continued to kiss him she felt the pressure from each stroke due to his passion. She never thought she was the type of girl to take home to the parents. So much had changed for her because Merci finally saw that she was worth it all. She deserved all the chips and for someone to bet it all on her. At times she saw Miranda frustration with how she pursued Devin but this moment meant so much to her. She was street trash that even the middle class looked down on. Then she became a ho who would screw anyone to feel something. Then she became a grown up and saw that she deserved better than Kendrick and all the other losers she dated. Devin was what she deserved and for once she got what she wanted. For once she got to be a normal girl. Not the orphan whore who was Skye’s sidekick. She was the girl who got the guy and was happily devoted to him right now.

“Yes Devin.” She wrapped her arms and legs around him and pulled her body even closer to his. As she threw her head back she began to shiver. Slowly she began to ride him like a bronco her hips slithered in serpent esque way. As she looked into his sparkling eyes and slowly slipped her tongue in his mouth. “I love you.” Merci moaned as she felt a wave crash against their bodies.

Devin had honestly never made love to a woman in somewhere like the ocean before it made him think that this was the perfect moment for them the exposure of it all. It was exhilarating, yet somewhat tinder as well to him he wanted this to be special for her, for them. He held her hips on his length letting the water and the waves help alleviate her weight from him as he continued to thrust up into her. His mouth continued to explore hers as he moved hoping to please her body in all the right ways just like she needed, when he felt she was close he broke his lips apart to then explore he neck slowing down his strokes with her body. His mouth lowered just slightly pulling her up over the water so that her nipples that were already hard form the ocean were at his mouth and he lowered his mouth over them. Showing attention to them as he did so suckling and biting as he felt her shivering at the action.

He was unable to control his body or really hers at that point and gave in letting her vice around him as he too came with a groan into her chest. He felt himself spilling into her and almost wondered if she was on anything they didn’t really talk about that before now. He assumed she was she seemed like the type of girl to want that in life and he was always so careful with his partners. He held her close until she stopped shaking from her orgasm and he did the same. “That was amazing.” Devin finally said when his head had stopped spinning and he felt her pull himself away from him in the water instantly wanting her touch again. He saw her swimming in the water and lightly splashed her as he looked up at the moon. “I am thinking we get out, get dressed and head back to the hotel for a repeat performance before someone sees us and calls it in. I’d hate to cut vacation short with a call to my parents to bail us out for indecent exposure.”

“I think that’s a great idea considering I’m ready to get very indecent again and again with you.” She swam in but before they came in she looked at him. “This is perfect, Devin when I get married this is it. Hell I want to live here it’s perfect.” She said softly looking at him with a twinkle in her eye.


His parents were playing with Quinn and all he could think was this was a blessing. After all last thanksgiving he was sitting in a hotel room with Diego. Looking over he felt good that everyone had stopped blaming Diego and him. They all started to understand how dangerous this all was. This wasn’t a regular mission the DEA, CIA, FBI, and now police force from all over were involved. This wasn’t just taking down one of them this was doing a sweep. Closing drug channels all over the country and him being one of the leads meant he was going to have to try and stop carnage in the streets and eventually new successors of the empires they were toppling. He was now here to do that and more. The lives these people have destroyed and everyone didn’t get a second chance like him. This time he was taking it and not only that he was going to decimate Ronan. He was going to do what others had only dreamed about and KC was absolutely sure that he was the man to do it. Putting Miranda back undercover was risky but he knew that Ronan was having a rotation of dancers and if she somehow got in to figure the Intel they needed. Well he’d commend his woman.

That was different saying she was his woman after all they hadn’t discussed that. Seeing him in action and how he got the cold shoulder for demanding she not go back undercover. He knew he had traumatized Quinn, that kid had gone through far too much. She thought he was dead and then she knew he wasn’t. It was enough that he also knew that Quinn was going to be grown before her age. That was worrying but today was a celebration and he turned and poured himself another cup of eggnog. Nodding at his baby brother David who had made him so proud. Looking at him he was chief of staff at St. fucking Christopher’s. The biggest teaching hospital in Pennsylvania and was making medical strides. Personally he was proud of him for finally moving into something healthy with Talia. As he saw Talia and Miranda talking to David he walked over.

“Don’t go double teaming him.” He winked at Miranda. She looked fucking amazing tonight. She had on jeans and sweater and it looked like she was wearing one of those fancy gowns. Miranda didn’t know how badly he longed to touch her. Kissing was as far as it had gotten but he was bursting at the thought of ripping her clothes off. “I still can’t believe Jon is dating Cassie Montgomery. I went to high school with her and she’s now the star reporter of the Chronicle right? Man this being dead thing is challenging to keep up with everyone’s life.”

“Rumor has it that he’s got an engagement ring, you didn’t hear it from me but a friend of a friend has informed me Jon is going to propose. So you hillbilly people better get used to our uppity bogie asses.” Talia said sarcastically as she looked at David. Leaning in she adjusted his tie. “I’m starving because I so fast a week before Thanksgiving it’s gross but the best holiday ever. Do you smell that? That kitchen smells like heaven that’s the deserts of the Harrison’s I’m here for the pies. Fresh out of the oven no shade to TJ’s but this is going to be even better. Jon mom is the best pastry chef.” Talia looked at him and bit her lip. “KC look love has no lines or else you would have never had the balls to date Jon’s sister right? She came back to town all fine and sexy and you were smitten right? You broke boy code or something right? But you two got over it.”

KC smiled at Miranda and nodded his head. “You are right my boy Jon wasn’t the happiest about us but we won him over after I came back from DC. Or am I remembering wrong.” Funny thing when you are in a coma you forget things and somethings the memories they blur. “I got the past memories but the last few years are all jumbled she’s trying to help me fix that. Being shot in the head and not dying well it’s a bitch.”

“Showoff.” Talia said as she kissed David playfully underneath the mistletoe. “You’re a superhero you came back from the dead. Girl how are you not jumping his bones that’s sexy to me and my Rhodes boy holds hearts in his hand literally. Like are you seeing this what did their mom put in there cereal you know?” Talia said giggling as she saw Miranda was trying not to laugh.

Miranda looked around her parents house at her nieces and nephews her mother and sister in the kitchen doing what they did by baking up a storm. Talia had taken the news well when she arrived and after a briefing on the situation knew that she was sworn to secrecy now. The anxiety of what was coming up had been something that she and KC had been dealing with, he wasn’t a hundred percent happy with her going undercover again but it was their only option.  The only person that wasn’t there that should be was Miles and she wondered how much longer she could keep up the secret that Cassie had thrown at her and Quinn had all but confirmed. Quinn was no doubt card sharking her uncle at Go Fish and she looked over at Talia when she mentioned that Jon was going to propose to Cassie. She was happy for Jon of course she was but Cassie knew about Miles. Her eyes focused in on Talia and KC when she mentioned why she hadn’t jumped his bones yet. She wondered if everyone knew or not and that made her feel weird even weirder she was used to Frasier’s being here for the holidays.

In truth she hadn’t slept with KC again because she was scared of it, if things went back to normal with them that meant it was here and that he was back in her arms. Part of her felt  should they take things to the next level that it would all disappear and go away again and she didn’t know if her heart could take that or not again. Of course she wanted to and she knew that KC did too but it was a lot to think about and digest when she thought about it, a lot to come to terms with. Not to mention with them working the case to bring down Ronan she didn’t want it to be the last memory either of them had of each other if things went wrong. “Now Talia you know a lady never kisses and tells in your case though I think you take it another way that you tell. I’ve seen them both shirts off in the hot sun I know what their momma obviously fed them.” Miranda said with a smile at Talia seeing David blush a shade of red out of embarrassment he was always so modest when it came to his looks. It wasn’t like KC got his out of nowhere when it came the looks department the Rhodes boys could give even the most wealthy and beautiful people a run for their money. “Who told you about Jon getting the ring?” Miranda asked quietly wanting to keep the secret from Cassie and her brother as they approached.

“I’m friends with everyone at Renards. He honestly could have picked a better place to go ring shopping. I mean they can’t hold water. I also told them I’d stop buying shoes if they didn’t give me the gossip.” Talia said looking at Miranda with a smirk. “I also don’t listen to gossip, so I usually trick the person closest to the person into telling me the truth.” Talia said slapping Miranda with her purse. “Come on copper I’ll give you some lessons that I’ve perfected manipulating others into giving up information.” She teased as she looked Jon and Cassie arriving to the circle. “Well that is my cue because I have to check on my crispy peanut dumplings. My grandmothers recipe and it’s too die for. Come on baby you can come help me.” She took David hand and walked to the kitchen.

Jon looked up at Talia speeding away and he shook his head. It was still strange to see Talia the ditz of the Devonshire army and Dani best friend dating one of his best friends. David and he had become quite close after KC faked death. It was still strange to see KC standing before them all but it was so good to see him. All morning he’d felt sick. He’d called Devin four times, KC twice, Miranda six times, and Dani once. Dani actually gave him the best advice which was to speak from his heart. As he looked at Miranda he noticed how awkward she was being with KC. To be honest she hadn’t fully seemed to recover from him coming back from the grave. It was something about how she looked at him. It was still like she didn’t believe it. He understood though. It couldn’t be easy to just deal with him just being there after nights of tears. She was sure that she would reconnect with him but right now he still saw the distance. This wasn’t KC and Miranda he loved together and actually rooted for.

“Miranda you remember when we were little and uncle Merle came over? I was just telling Cassie about Uncle Merle. Well before he died of cancer he told me and Miranda that life wasn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. I didn’t know what that meant until I saw KC come back from the grave.” He looked at his sister to tell her it was okay to live again. “We gotta grab every fucking moment guys you know? Nothing is promised and seeing what’s happening with the Devonshire’s and how their father is dying. I don’t want to wait anymore on any moment. You should understand that right KC?”

Jon had thrown him a bone because he felt like Miranda was emotionally shut down. She loved him and was really happy to see him as a father to Quinn. He just knew she wasn’t opening up to him because he hadn’t been open with her. A week ago he basically said she wasn’t big enough to play with the big boys and girls. That wasn’t what he meant at all though. Quinn and Miranda were a team before he came back if anything happened to Miranda he knew Quinn would go crazy. She was smart but what they all forgot was that she was a child. A damn child that could break and was fragile as glass. KC leaned against the wall. “That’s all I want to do is create as many moments with my family. I’m moment guy. Like every moment is so important.”

“You suck.” Jon said patting KC on the shoulder with a smile on his face.

“I’m just saying if you’re afraid of opening up to someone because they left hypothetically but that person is back. That person understood if they came back in your life they couldn’t run away coma or not again. That person gets exactly why you aren’t trusting me like you used to. I have faith, I have faith that everything is going to go back to where it was. Every puzzle piece that I um shattered when I went undercover and didn’t come home. Look I’m sorry Miranda and I can’t keep apologizing about this. All I can do is tell you what I want. I want us. I don’t want a watered down version of us. I want a family with you and Quinn and Jon and everyone in this room. Except the talkative shoe girl she’s literally explained everyone’s shoe in here. Just give us a chance again Randa.” KC said exhaling.

Miranda looked at him and his proclamation of course she still wanted to give them a chance and everyone in the room knew that he was talking about them not about anyone else. It felt weird to discuss it so publicly at Thanksgiving in front of her already concerned parents. They had been helping with Quinn for so many years before KC just popped back up into everyone’s life. So it had been easy to ask for them for help in dealing with the various things that were going on her life when it came to Quinn and KC and taking a break from it all when she needed. He was back but he wasn’t really back because Ronan didn’t know yet and they had to keep it under wraps with the FBI and everyone around town that was not in on the operation, hell the FBI had drug poor David and Talia in for a briefing earlier in the week letting them know that under no circumstances could they tell anyone about KC being alive. Hell they had to pick of the Rhodes earlier in the week and do the same and she knew that they were happy their son was alive of course they were but they also were angry like she was too.

“It’s not that easy to just forget now is it?” Miranda said looking at him and then at Cassie and she swore she saw a twinge of regret about Miles there. She was carrying around all this shit with KC and then Miles in her head the last few weeks her brother deserved to know about Miles but at what cost? So that he could run back to Skye and what forgive her for giving away his kid and leave Cassie in the dust. She wasn’t going to lie to herself Jon was attached to Skye for whatever bizarre reason that was. She wasn’t sure if it was because of the drugs or the sex or whatever but Skye at once point had her brother wrapped around her finger. “Or course I want to but I need time.”

Cassie had been welcomed into the family months ago at the lake and his parents had taken her in like she was their own. She still had yet to tell him about meeting with her father the other day and what they discussed. That was her secret to keep for now until she and Miranda decided what to do about it, she was waiting for Miranda to hear back about a contact she had to verify the story. The picture was enough for her to verify it, people said she was a splitting image of her mother and she had photos to prove it. Miles would be coming into their lives sooner rather than later and she was not going to be on the losing end of that. Miles was going to be the ring bearer at Dani’s wedding to Jackson meaning he would be in town long before that. Around town around the Harrison’s like Miranda who was a bridesmaid there was only so much time she and Miranda had to stall and figure it out. Skye was out living in fantasy land in her mind, once Jon knew he would want the boy and her back, she got Miranda’s words and had to look away for a moment hoping Jon didn’t see.

“Well now that we’ve established that you two want to start fucking each other again can we end all this awkwardness? Jon here as been all concerned you two weren’t going to work it out something about being too stubborn.” Cassie said looking at KC slightly glare at her and Miranda turn bright red. She didn’t think she and Miranda would ever be best friends or anything like that once she knew the truth how she had played her but for now it was nice to think that Miranda was in her corner. She heard the buzzer going off in the kitchen meaning the turkey and whatever else the Harrison’s ate was ready to eat and she looked at Jon. “I have a feeling your dad is going to be calling in a few minutes to eat, I saw that thing in the oven. I don’t think even our servants growing up got a bird to look that nice.” Cassie said appreciating that if anything Jon’s mom was an accomplished cook something she never could be they ate take out like crazy most of the time with his mother often bringing over lasagna and other dishes for them.

KC leaned against the wall he understood Miranda wasn’t one to voice their differences however he wanted back up. She was being well he didn’t know how she was being. At times she was ice cold and other times she was his wife again. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to just leave nor pop back up but they had a golden opportunity. Everyone didn’t have their loved ones come back from the grave. He was petulant and figured people would see him as a jerk. Well he was and big kid something she loved but it seemed to annoy her now. It was as if they were off sync and he wanted them N’SYNC or at least 98 Degrees level of good. As he shifted he felt like bursting out laughing with Cassie. She was frank but it was also something Jon needed. She wasn’t milquetoast like him and Dani. They were so alike and it was almost as if he only wanted it because the Harrison’s and Fraiser’s wanted to be connected. Either way he was down for them because of his boy face. He hadn’t seen Jon this happy in a long time.

Jon felt his stomach turning and Cassie was always so bold. He was going to have to do this in front of everyone he loved. So why was he so nervous right now. She wasn’t ready for children and that was fine but he couldn’t see himself not spending his life with her. He’d changed with her. Somehow she’d made him more alive than he’d ever been. The beauty he saw in Cassie was beyond anything he saw with his naked eye, it went spiritual. Jon truly felt like she completed him and it gutted him to think of her ever being away from him. As he grabbed her hand and cleared his throat. “Hello, everyone can I have your attention! Yo everyone.”

“I love proposals.” Talia whispered to David as she took his hand walking out of the kitchen. “OMG.”

Jon looked at Cassie and got down on one knee as he looked into her eyes. “I know you don’t like all this public affection. I am sure you’re freaking out right now thinking about what I am doing right now. Cassandra Irina Montgomery would you marry me because I can see our lives and although you haven’t envisioned our children. I see them and I see what they will be like and I know what our life will be full of. Laughter, we will laugh through the pain and hurt. Love, I will love you through any adversity we come across. Pain, we will go through it but if you let me I’ll love you through the pain. I will give you the life your father couldn’t give you because your mother. I will give you the love you have always dreamed of. So Cassie what do you say? Will you marry me?”

Cassie had looked over at Miranda and then over at KC hopefully they could work it out, clearly they still loved each other. It took her a few seconds for everything to catch up with what was going on with Jon when he got on one knee and began speaking she knew that she should be elated and she was this time. When Thor had proposed at the gala she was not in the place to accept it because she didn’t think that they could in fact be together in that way. She loved Jon of course she did but there was Miles still hanging over her head as he spoke like the little voice in the back of her head. If she said yes perhaps her and Jon could speed up the wedding to make sure that he never saw Miles. Or even better she could make sure that Jon not be heavily involved in Dani’s wedding to Jackson meaning he never had to see the boy then buying her time without raising any flags. She saw all of his family staring at her and realized that he was about ready to ask what was wrong and she looked at him putting on a smile as she did, it wasn’t completely fake.

“Yes of course!” Cassie said looking at him and nodding her head at him as she saw his entire family clapping around them. She knew that this would come with a price though as he got up and she saw his parents moving in to hug them. She returned the gesture with them casting a glance back at Miranda who looked at her and she could tell she was thinking the exact same thing she then looked at Jon who smiled at her looking so happy and she decided to play along he was smart and if she wasn’t careful he would know something was wrong. “It is so gorgeous where in the world did you have the time to get a ring? I had no idea you were going too today.” She said kissing him softly as she pulled back seeing Talia and David opening up some champagne.

Jon scooped Cassie in his arms and spun her around as he looked at her and then kissed her lips. All of his friends began to surround them and swell around it was a euphoric feeling to be loved and happy. As he leaned in and touched her face he saw something in her eyes. He wasn’t sure what it was but it vanished immediately when she saw the ring. It was his grandmother’s and in his family for six generations it traced back to England. He removed the stones and had it reset with new diamonds. The ring was to show her that although he couldn’t give her what Forbes and Thor could with their bloody money, he’d give her so much more a life and a future.

“I had some help you were with Yasmine getting that facial being the good big sister you can be. I had a little woman who is obsessed with shoes and jewels help me find the best jewelers in town. That stone has been in my family for years it looked a little old so I thought freshening it up. Well that would help.” He looked at Cassie and felt so complete. “You are my soulmate. I can’t think of spending my life without you.”


Jackie had gotten into the hotel through the back corridors the car ride over she had thought about what she would say and do. She had done nothing all those years ago when it came to Katie and she closed her eyes on the car ride. Still trying to make sense of that night how she had stayed in the nursery even when the staff had come to tell her Katie was downstairs drinking, how she ignored her own sister that night for Gloria and gossip. How she had allowed her husband to violate her and she snapped her eyes open she couldn’t protect Katie that night. Her heart ached for Bliss and what she went through with Dimitri and she hated Tess even more than she did before if that was even possible. A mother was supposed to protect their children from monsters and what kind of a mother was Tess to allow Bliss to stay in that situation. Selina had Ophelia who she hated as a child and despite what Gloria had did she did promise her to look after her children and she felt like Selina was that her daughter in every way but name.

The monster was not the man that she shared a bed with for years, of course he was now to her but the real monster at the moment was the man that caused Bliss and Selina all that pain. She couldn’t protect Katie but she refused to not take a stand and protect Bliss and Selina. So her driver and security team had made sure to take her in the back and to the room where Dimitri held his prisoners hostage and that is what she thought about now when she thought of Fox who was her grandson just as much as Bliss was her now daughter. She couldn’t change the past but she damn well could protect the future.

“Leave me keep yourselves hidden this is between me and him.” Jackie said looking at her guards daring them to question her authority on the matter. She saw Terrence her lead guard give her a wary look and take the team back into the shadows as she took a seat on the couch. Her mind raced was this the spot that he was abusing Selina on? Had Fox witnessed it? She had so much rage inside of her and when the door opened and the bastard turned on the light jumping back in surprise about five feet she glared at him. “Hello Dimitri.”

Dimitri had left after that asshole of a DA and Selina’s brothers thought they could stop him already wounded still from Bliss he knew what he had to do a call to Amanda to clear all this up. The little bitch thought that she could go to the police about him she had no witnesses none that would say anything anyways if they knew what was good for them. He would win this and her threats were still ringing in his ears as he placed the bloody handkerchief inside his coat pocket damned assholes had broken his nose before the security team had jumped in and broke up the fight his eyes were almost swollen shut and he could feel the bruises forming all over his body, they would all pay. He was going to make sure he had Braden’s job when it was all said and done not to mention Mason he could probably make sure that he ended up dead no one would care. As for Tony and Jamal he would make sure that the bodies were left to the crows to eat.

He had made a few calls in the car and the way up the elevator making sure that he had his bases covered it would be his word against hers. Just like before people didn’t talk against the crown he made sure of that the crown made sure of that, Amanda was paid to make sure of that. The first order was business was the state opening an investigation into Braden Fraiser’s office how many other clients had be coerced or better beat down and as he read the text back from Amanda he smirked slipping his keys into the door. He was still a little shocked that he didn’t go grab Fox from the Devonshire’s on the way home but he was not going to let his son see him like this. They would all pay for what they had done he had the money and the means to do it not to mention the legal counsel to get him off. When he turned on the table lamp by the couch however he jumped back shocked at Jackie Devonshire sitting on his couch staring at him with a gun in her lap.

“Mrs. Devonshire.” Dimitri said looking around the room his security detail was outside in the hallway and he surely had no idea why she was here. Bliss was too much of a coward tot ell anyone about her plight and well word didn’t travel that fast about what just happened with Selina or did it. “I didn’t realize…” He began only to shut up when he saw Jackie pull the cock back on the gun to load it.

“That’s quite enough of you talking.” Jackie spat as she looked at him and the monster he was whoever had beat him had done good work and she wondered if she would have been able to stomach someone doing the same to Lowell after what he did to Katie. Who would have done it at the time she could probably make a list one of his enemies perhaps or even one of the children even and she willed herself to let let the gun shake in her lap. “You’re going to leave Atlas Falls of course Fox will be staying with us for the foreseeable future.”

Dimitri looked at her and let out a laugh howling at her demands like she was above him in life or station not to mention she was simply a woman. A woman with money that her husband had gave her what right did she have to come in and make demands of him or the crown to her or her family. Fox was crowned prince of Isla Del Cruces and he would remain as such under his care and care of the crown a little threat from Jackie Devonshire on behalf of her husbands bastard of a daughter would not change that. He poured himself a brandy as he looked at her ignoring the stinging in his face from his wounds.

“Please Mrs. Devonshire you rushing to the defense of the child that Lowell had out of wedlock and trying to defend her honor it is beneath you when at any moment Lowell could simply name Bliss his true heir while leaving your children in the dust. Didn’t Lowell force hold down your sister and rape her?” Dimitri said with a sadistic smile seeing her squirm at the words seeing how shaken she was. “I think your anger should instead be aimed at the man that you shared a bed with should it not? Instead you are here quivering at my hotel trying to compose yourself, pathetic.”

Jackie held her head up as she looked at him and his words hit her hard and coldly her husband had raped her sister there was no way around that. Her husband should be in jail or worse ont he end of what Dimtiri received but she had no control over that now. He would meet his maker sooner rather than later and that was something he would have to face, she could however stop Dimitri and that was something she was not going to back down on. Bliss and Selina and God knew who else. She looked at him when he mentioned that Lowell could out her children in favor of Bliss and rage happened at the statement. He wouldn’t be that callous to them would he? Surely he had to understand where they were all coming from at the moment when it came to their feelings towards him. Not to mention with Tess hanging on his arm lately, he was living with her and that hurt like nothing she felt she could ever overcome. After al the years he swore that he loved her and never Tess he was so quick to just move in with her.

“Shut up you’re vile and disgusting, Bliss told everyone the truth about you months ago and well now that Selina has evidence you’ll be done in this country. Lowell and I will see to it you son of a bitch so I’m giving you the chance now to leave and never look back. It’s the little you gave to Bliss the first time when she had to leave your wrath and her son you’re now going to return the favor.” Jackie said standing and pointing the gun right at him her hand still shaking not sure she could follow through with it. “You will leave Fox will stay. There is no more discussing this I will not let you hurt Bliss or Selina any longer.”

Dimitri looked at her amused as he took a step towards her seeing her shaking like a leaf and then the shot rang out in the apartment and he loved to the side as the bullet pierced the side of his jacket. His men burst in the doors as he saw a security team rush in from his kitchen to make sure that Jackie was positioned behind them his men and hers with guns drawn at each other.  He saw the main security man take the gun away from Jackie and wondered if twas more a precaution or if the great Jackie Devonshire had actually lost her fucking mind and he let out a laugh as he motioned for his men to lower their weapons and they complied. Reaching for his glass he took a sip of his drink as he saw Jackie fighting with the security guard who was whispering something to her in her ear.

“I say we chalk this up to a terrible misunderstanding Mrs. Devonshire. You see I’d hate to put you on trial when I take custody of Fox from Bliss and have to tell the court that you came into my home and threatened to kill me holding me at gun point and attempting to end my life. The  more and more I think about it you and your family are not a good fit for my son. Now I’m going to ask you nicely to leave before I have my security team escort you out.” Dimitri said watching the anger on her face as he did so. Such a weak and pathetic woman who had showed all her cards to him tonight moving to the side as her team began to escort her out he looked at her. “I do look forward to staying around town just a bit longer you see. Good evening Mrs. Devonshire.”

Jackie glared at him as her security detail took her gun away,her weapon and at that moment her power over the situation, he was a monster a rabid diseased animal that needed to be put down. She’d never killed anyone before and she was certain that was why her bullet had missed nerves had gotten the better of her. Before she had known what happened people burst in and her team made sure that for tonight it was over, no one would be putting the animal before her down. Rage burned inside of her as he mentioned that their would be a court trial for Fox in her mind it would never come to that she may of hated Lowell at the moment but surely he had someone he could call to put down the animal in front of her. He owed her that much, he owed his daughter that much she held her head high as Dimitri spoke to her dismissing her from his presence with thinly veiled threats. Once she reached the hallway and was out of his sight she pulled out her phone sending a simple text to her soon to be ex husband.

Do what needs to be done to Dimitri to rid him from our lives or I will.


Elliot was in the kitchen cleaning the dishes with Val trying to process everything that had happened since he arrived he had judged them all so harshly. The rest of the family was scattered around the house and he saw Ophelia come in and shoo him out something about making tea and coffee as he stepped out of the kitchen watching her with Val. Zach was with Mason out on the patio and he saw some snowflakes falling it was winter finally in Atlas Falls and he shivered. He could hear Tony inside the office on the phone with who he assumed was a local judge and he wondered how much of an arrest that Braden Fraiser would actually be able to make? A hot head was not a good look for DA and had it of been him he wouldn’t have lost it like Braden had, jeopardizing a case against a white man who raped a black woman. It was hard enough for rape victims to come forward, even worse worse for people of color who were often accused of lying and charges never came because of it. He took a few steps wondering if he should go gather his coat and leave only to see Selina sitting on the couch in the formal living room staring at the wall.

“Do you need anymore ice? Though I have a feeling he’ll be needing it later.” Elliot asked seeing her with the ice-pack on her face something that Ophelia had insisted on getting after dinner was over for her. He walked into the room saw her cast a sideways glance at him, he knew that she had heard stories about him. She had been in the courtroom for Jon Harrison’s trial knew his demeanor first hand from that. “I don’t mean to be rude but you’re a woman of culture, of position, of stature when most people like us can barely even fathom that. What in the world would posses you to let a man, a white man treat you like that to begin with? The system oppresses us you know that you really think the cops are going to do anything? Fraiser will be lucky to even get an arrest warrant served at this before a judge after his little attack.”

Selina shifted her neck to look at him in a way that would let him know she wasn’t Jamal or Mason. The way he talked was so condescending toward African-Americans. Twirling the wine glass in her hand shit bit down on her bottom lip hard. How dare he. She exhaled at his gall coming into her family home and truly showing how insensitive he truly was. “My brother what gives you the right to speak to me like this. You don’t know me or my pain or my story. Matter-fact all you see is a black woman who is educated and strong. How could I let a white man beat me? I don’t seem to think it has a damn thing to do with race Elliot. Not at all, you see I’ve dated black, Hispanic, white, and any other race. I don’t see color but the world does and I understand your view. That’s what I get huh? For going outside of my race. Get out!” She said with such ferocity she didn’t know she had it in her.

“I have spent the last few months being brutalized do you think I don’t know!” Selina screamed at him. “You think I haven’t said all of this to myself? I can’t begin to think how I let this happen. One thing I do know though it wasn’t about race. For once it wasn’t and I don’t want it to be turned into a black versus white thing. This was a man who punished me because I refused to fall at his feet. “As for Braden you think any of our family here would talk? We’ve closed rank Elliot. What that means is that what happened today didn’t happen. The attack he got was deserved. I have been humiliated and tortured but I won’t be victimized by you. So if this is your way of scream black power wrong bitch and wrong time. I’m proud that I am cultured and I have a status in life but it didn’t stop me from getting raped or beaten. So for once can you be a human and just go away.”

Elliot looked at her when she spoke at him with such ferocity that he didn’t even know it was possible for him to be so shamed. He had never really considered that a trait of his able to feel shame when presented with facts versus his own beliefs and agenda. He realized in that moment that he really had no right to confront her or even really question what she had been through. He still had his reasons for thinking like he did but he realized that this was not the time or the place for them to be expressed. He shifted awkwardly when she yelled at him realizing that he had hurt her with his words and he was no better than the man that had laid his hands and body on her unwillingly. He looked over at her and then back at the door. “I’m sorry that was entirely insensitive of me.” He said his voice low barely above a whisper as he looked at her and saw Ophelia looking in at them from the kitchen and he saw her glare at him it was a piss poor apology and he knew that. “I’m not good at this.” He finally admitted as he finally took a seat across from her.

“I’m not like white boy that divorced you and then rushes over to your defense when you have  plenty men here to do that for you. I’m not that man I would like to think that you and your family could handle themselves. Without the man that you divorced running over to you while he has a new woman on his arm a woman that you from rumor has it can’t stand.” Elliot said seeing her look at him with partial disgust and thought in his words, in truth where he was from women stood on their own with their children surrounding them in more a tribe for them to help. There were not a lot fo men in those homes life in an unfair system had taken them away from each other. That was the women that he knew and was raised around he leaned back on the couch catching a scathing look from Ophelia again. “I just want women of color to be able to stand up to their accusers and be believed I expressed that very poorly. You saw me in court I have a certain flair about me I guess you could say and sometimes I don’t see the world like people want me to or expect me too. I will leave if you really want thank you and your bother for inviting me over.” He finished trying to be as polite as possible with her and her state.

“Wait.” She said looking at him. “I am tense and usually not this snappy and I am sorry. You are asking real questions because Dimitri is going to use this against me. He’s going to try to hurt Braden and I’ve pulled him into this mess now. I am guilty that you are culpable in my madness. I just am on edge and I’m sorry because I think that for women like me to be taken into this mess. I guess I never expected and I don’t want it to become about race or anything but what men do to women. They violate us and treat us like we are nothing until we believe it. The spell didn’t work on me though because of my family and my friends. The people I love and care about truly in my life protected me and woke me up. I see it, and I now understand how a woman can be so taken with a man.” Selina said as she covered her mouth and patted the seat next to her.

“You are a powerful black man and I need you to understand this isn’t about my race.” As she looked into his eyes. “Race is something that dug into our souls to hate ourselves. My parents created me and my siblings to be free black children and I sometimes thing other black people don’t understand us because we are free. I am sorry that a white man hit me would it have been better if it was a black one? No man should have put their hands on me, or violated my body. I hope you understand that your platform isn’t what you have to stand on all the time being a decent human is sometimes the platform.” Selina looked at him and smiled. “Thank-you for coming here it’s big of you. You really shook my other brother Mason. I feel like he questioned his blackness and that was the same thing Jamal went through last year. I see the struggle but I don’t live it Elliot can you understand that. I am a black woman and understand the adversities facing my people but what I won’t do is be a fucking victim to it and live my life in fear of it.”

“I severely misspoke.” Elliot said it was the only apology that he could offer that was right he still believed that had a white woman been raped or even accosted like Selina was under Dimitri’s obvious control no one would have raised an eyebrow they would have all went on their merry way. But because it was Selina, that she came from a wealthy family so people noticed that was the sad part of it, no one would have cared if it was a young black girl without any of that. That didn’t make what happened to Selina any less valid and he had been a complete asshole about it, he wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy and as he sat there he wondered who else that Dimitri had raped were there other women like Selina, women of color who they felt like they didn’t have a voice in it? He knew those more fortunate would have a voice be believed those without though that weighed heavily on him. “Fraiser likely just threw out whatever order he will be able to send Dimitri with what he did in here. We’ve traveled in the same circles and when Dimitri mentioned this Amanda lady you froze. I assume that means she is a good lawyer well versed in both international law and local law.”

“Sometimes it’s hard for me to separate myself from being a lawyer and being human, you saw that during the trial for Kendrick. I had to go hard against your brother and Fraiser they were on the wrong side of the court. I said a lot of things that weren’t particularly flattering to your brother but he probably told you that.” Elliot said remembering he had called Mason a whole slur of names in the restroom that day names that were not the most noble to do, words that she clearly was not used to hearing. He had his opinions about how he was raised and he was not ever one to apologize about it, police weren’t to be trusted but maybe just maybe down the line he could see that not all were bad. Kendrick’s trial had taught him that he thought he knew everything about Kendrick and about Jon only for him to be proven wrong on so many fronts. “I wasn’t raised in all this. My father was killed or went to prison early on my moms never told me. She was a good woman until that day, they came after her one day after work said it was an accident. That was why I went so hard after Jon that day.”

She sat silently as she thought about the consequences of what those police officers did to Elliot and his mother. Did she survive this ordeal and she knew this is where the disconnect between African-American and law enforcement began. Some asshole cop who abused his power against some already disenfranchised woman. She felt herself getting enraged as she shook her head. “What does it mean to be black? Or a woman? Or both? Or even worse a black woman with privilege. All I know is there is no clear solution for racial discontentment in this country and even worse how men are trained by our society to marginalize a woman. Or take something so precious as her body and use it like it was nothing. So I have no idea what to do about all of that but thank-you because now you aren’t such an asshole.” She said gritting her teeth.

“I do think Amanda is one of the most ruthless lawyers I’ve ever seen. She’s brutal and her cunning isn’t to be messed with. I do know that much about her. Elliot can I ask a favor because I know nobody is thinking of the legal recourse of what just happened. All they care about is their rage was unleashed on Dimitri. Now I think we are all in danger and I’m scared so if you don’t mind. I don’t want the media to tear me apart. I don’t want to be another black woman that is put on a skewer because I am going to go to the media. I’m going to tell my story to everyone who will listen. I won’t allow this man to treat me like a piece of trash. I think I need a lawyer and unfortunately I think you need to be on retainer for my entire family and Braden. He won’t admit but he’s going to do everything to lock up Dimitri. But he’s now made himself a target for that psycho prince. So I want to hire you.” She said wiping her eyes. “I don’t want anyone who was involved with my mess okay? Can you promise me that you’ll protect them? I didn’t because now everyone is in danger and I’m scared Eliot.” She said covering her mouth and out of instinct she reached out to someone and grabbed his hand.

“I’ve never been scared of anything. I went to the best schools and was the only little black girl there. I fought my entire life to be seen as an equal to men. I strived to be better than men. I was! I was so much better than Chauncey as an executive at DGI. Losing my career shattered me. I didn’t know who I was without that job and maybe I still don’t because I can’t be as strong as I say I am when I’m getting beat on, and raped.” Selina rage started to boil as she furiously kicked over the coffee table. “Damnit!” She screamed grabbing a picture of her mother and immediately tossing it across the room. “You’re dead!” She screamed at the shattered glass on the floor. “I need my mom! I need!” Before she knew it, she began to hyperventilate. The air began to escape her body. Stepping back she fell into the wall looking at Elliot. “I can’t breathe!” She choked out.

Looking over at her as she spoke about Amanda and what she was facing he simply nodded so it was ruthless Dimitri had a ruthless legal team behind him. He shifted in his seat as he looked at her when she asked him to represent her and Braden. He would take her and her family on but he would not represent Braden Fraiser, he could find someone else to represent him. He had to have friends in high places and from what he understood that would not be a problem he had friends in high places too. “I’ll take you and your family on Fraiser can find his own legal counsel if he needs it. I won’t have Dimitri and his goons coming after you, Jamal, your father or Mason I can assure you that. I’ll draw up the restraining order first thing in the morning after as your legal council I along with Zach Fraiser escort you down the the station to formally lodge your complaint against Dimitri.” Elliot said looking at her and gritting out Zach’s name no doubt she had heard what he had said about him too with Mason. Regardless he was going to make sure that legally they did this right so that Dimitri would not get away with it.

Elliot let her rant and rage and destroy the furniture as she saw fit it was not his place to comfort her and maybe she didn’t need it. She needed to be mad and let it all out instead of being so stoic about her attacker, about what she had been through. It was her grief and her rage she was the victim and she was entitled to feel however she wanted about it. Gloria Delacroix was a woman of man secrets from where he was from and when she picked up and threw her mother’s picture across the room he took a breath wondering if rumors were true or not that he had heard. He shook his head it was office gossip and none of his business as he saw Ophelia rush in and he approached her cautiously with her step mother. “Let it out Selina all of it, keeping it in will do you no good. Be angry, be mad, be filled with fucking rage all you want he hurt you. They all hurt you let it all out and let them feel your wrath.” Elliot said seeing Ophelia stare at him and what he was sure she thought that he was giving her bad advice, well fuck it she had a right to be mad and lash out reaching over he grabbed a glass vase handing it to her. “Get on with it let it out.”

Selina took the vase and picked it up tossing it against the wall as she let out a scream looking at him. Then she grabbed her mother’s crystal ashtray she threw it against a wall. Turning around she saw her family slowly migrating from the kitchen to the living room. She stared at the destruction around her and picked up a piece of the table and she started to bash the picture of her mother. Immediately tears began to race down her face. “You left me! You left us all! Why couldn’t you be here! Why?!” She screamed furiously as she felt Ophelia arms around her. “No! I hate for dying and leaving me! I need her! I need my mother!” She screamed looking at Ophelia. “I just want her to be alright. I just want to be alright.” She said crying into Ophelia’s arms.

Elliot saw Mason rush forward to stop her and held him back seeing Zach glare at him as he stared at Jamal to stay back too. This was her way of grieving what happened to her and they should allow her to have it. He saw Tony stay by Ophelia and watched as Selina raged enough for it all to surface to the air as she unleashed all her rage at the picture of her mother on the floor the mother who was dead, who was not here. The mother that he could see that she missed terribly a mother that would be outraged at what happened to her daughter, a mother who would take her and tell her sweet lies of that it would be alright. In truth he had seen enough rape cases in his life time, read enough about them to know that it was never alright when it was all said and done. Selina Delacroix would never bet the same after this and he saw her melting into the woman’s arms who raised her and walked through the broken glass grabbing the blanket on the couch and wrapping it around her while she cried into Ophelia’s arms.

“I’ll see myself out and tomorrow we will talk more about your case. When you’re ready and have had time to grieve.” He said nodding at her family as he grabbed his coat off the hook and walked out the door casting a final glance back at her as he did so.


Dani had comforted Bliss after the tree and she agreed with her plan it would help the company and Bliss deserved to tell her story eventually she had gotten the twins down. Saw a text from her brother when Tamara and Dylan arrived saying he would be late and she wondered if that it was because of what was going on with Selina. Max had arrived with Sebastian, Rory had arrived with Aspen and she took a moment to cut out of the living room when she realized Jackson wasn’t there wondering if what Hunter said earlier was upsetting him. She also then realized that Jackie wasn’t at the mansion and then she confirmed it when she went to the kitchen to find her gone with instructions to hold dinner until she got back. What was even more bizarre to her was how the staff reacted to her and Jackson taking orders from them when it was still Jackie and Lowell’s house. She walked away from the kitchen to find Jackson inside Lowell’s old study looking like he was lost in his own thoughts.

“I thought I’d find you here, you hate this room.” Dani said looking at him eyebrow raised it was something he had told her one of their first nights together he hated how he was treated in this room by Lowell over the years. Hated how he would pit him against Chauncey here, degrade him and belittle him in some ways it made sense for him to retreat here given Bliss and Zerick. She walked to him wrapping her arms around him from behind by the window trying to read his emotions on what was going on in his head not sure if what Hunter said about them was upsetting him or if it was because something as horrific as a rape had happened to his sister probably both she guessed. “You want to talk about it? Bliss is going to be okay you know that right? I know you’re going to do everything you can, strike that we can to make sure he burns in hell and she gets Fox back permanently.”

“I guess I never saw myself being looked at like those men. I mean I love our sex lives but for him to compare me to them that just made me feel I don’t know dirty. My sister and Hunter were right. We should have rallied around her immediately after she told her story. After she said it a year ago and here we are. Now all of the sudden it’s real you know? She’s still sticking her neck out trying to be a Devonshire and we are just indulgent. As a man I never had to question or wonder if a woman wanted me like that. It never made me uncomfortable but going through this makes me see what you guys have to live like. I’m sorry that I was blind but I am going to help Bliss and my nephew. He’s amazing kid and I love him and I love her. I just think it’s horrible we questioned and didn’t show enough support. We were wrapped up in the feud between her and Max and didn’t see. We didn’t see how damaged our sister truly was. That hurts me.” Jackson looked around the room and tears started to form.

“This room turned me and my brother against each other for years. We still haven’t repaired our relationship completely I feel like he’s about to ramp up and betray us all to get that CEO spot. We know how he is and if any of us else get it well we’re screwed because second eldest is psycho. I just don’t know where we are as a family and in life. I’m so happy with our twins and I’m sad so sad with my family dying. I’m so sick of losing and I feel like my kids are here and now I have lost my father. I don’t know how to feel because I want to snap Dimitri neck and yet I’m wondering who is eating with dad right now. I hate him so much and I love him so deeply. I long for his approval even now. I don’t know about them but I think Bliss was right. I love mom but this is between them. My father is dying and this could be his last Thanksgiving. I don’t know I just want to save Bliss and Fox from all this shit.” Jackson said leaning against the black oak desk.

Dani bit her bottom lip as he spoke about his fear over what Hunter said but for her it was different Hunter was making a point that Jackson wasn’t like that. He would never be like that with her or any other woman that was the difference. “I think Hunter was just riled up and making a point to Chauncey not you. You’re not Dimitri or your father in that regard Jackson. What we do isn’t like that. If I didn’t want it anymore you’d stop that is the difference I or any other woman were to tell you no or stop, you’d respect that. Chauncey was being an asshole and not listening to what Bliss was saying trying to make excuses because he’s scared too.” She felt terrible that they really hadn’t had time to talk about any of his feelings when it came to Bliss or her revelation because he was in rehab and then he was thrust into everything when he came home. She was glad that he was at least talking about it though it was better than him bottling it inside. “You were going through some pretty heavy shit last year too, Bliss knows that and you were one of the only ones other then Rory to kinda take her side.” She said softly looking at him her hand touching the side of his face.

“I don’t think the board is going to hand it over to Chauncey because he is the first born, half of them still look at him side eyed even if after he and Natasha are trying to do damage control. Zerick is an outsider everyone at DGI knows it and not to mention like you said a fucking psycho no matter what else I don’t think they let him either. That leaves you, Rory, Bliss or Max.” Dani said realizing he was hurting and she’d been so blind to it or he’d put on a strong front for her and the twins because he felt he needed to be that rock for her. She leaned in kissing him deeply before pulling back. Ophelia had cleared her for normal activity again and she realized they hadn’t even taken that time since the twins came. “I’m sorry I haven’t been there like I should be for us lately we’ve been so consumed with the twins and the wedding. I’ve been so consumed with that I just thought you needed your space on the entire Zerick and your dad situation and what you said to your father. I wasn’t sure how to bring it up to you or if you even meant what you said about cutting him out at the hospital you were so angry.” She felt him wrap his hands around her waist and was glad to see him relax finally now that he got things off his chest.

“I just wonder why you know? My father had a relationship with Audrey and Tess. He had all the most beautiful women in the world throwing themselves at him and I just can’t help but wonder why? Why take something when so many girls were giving it to him. I just thought my father was a better man than that. I just thought that I was a better brother than what I’ve been. I mean for the last few months Selina has been being beaten and Bliss almost raped. My nephew around all that disgusting trash I just think we have to do better as men you know? Women should feel safe and never wonder what a man is going to do. If a man is going to cross that line.” As he touched her face he looked into her eyes. “I just want to make sure our son grows up in a world where he knows that this isn’t acceptable you know. That this couldn’t be the world he and JJ grows up in.” Jackson said looking into Dani eyes. “If I am ever to rough or do too much you’ll tell me. I need you to promise me if things are uncomfortable or too intense before we start our life back up.” Jackson scooped her up in his arms.

“Because a little birdie told me you were cleared to be as freaky as you want to be.” He said with a smile on his face. “I’ve been holding in a lot of feelings lately. With my dad’s illness, Zerick being our brother and now Bliss it’s just a lot of pressure. Which makes me wonder how did my father handle this? The constant crisis and the stress of being the one the entire family looks to. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. How did he do it? My family is holding on by a quiver and I’m worried it’s not my time. What if Chauncey is better at this than I am? I mean I’m not the most trustworthy under pressure. Last year I was just doing drugs and now I’m in line to run a billion dollar empire. It’s just pressure.”

“You’d never hurt me like that. But if you need an assurance from me on it I promise.” Dani said looking at him as he picked her up and teased her while he picked her up. “Chauncey better than you is like asking if a tiger has suddenly got spots he isn’t. You and I both know that he is marrying Natasha because we got engaged. Last year was last year Jackson you’re definitely not the same person you were then.” She said quietly refraining from making a sarcastic comment about how Lowell did it, mentally her mind rang with stealing from her father and apparently screwing Audrey, Tess and raping Katie. She let the statement sit between them for a moment and decided to lighten the mood it was the holidays after all. “You know you ever want to make new memories in here I wouldn’t mind.” She said looking at him looking at her and then the door opened and the head maid who she couldn’t remember her name spoke.

“Mr. Devonshire I’m so sorry to interrupt the Fraiser’s are here.” The woman said looking between them before closing the door.

“Perhaps another time though apparently.” Dani said leaning up to kiss him looking at his frustrated face as she placed her feet on the floor. Then she remembered that she needed to tell him about his mother too, the whole thing was weird with her leaving. “Your mom’s not here I went to the kitchen and the cook told me that he’d send the staff to tell you when everyone got here. It’s weird it’s still your parents house it’s not like you and I are taking over.”

Jackson got a chill down his spine as he looked at Dani and saw her eyes twinkling with curiosity. His was peaked also because at this very moment he felt like his mother was up to something. What was the other most important woman in his life doing? As he took Dani’s hand he saw Dylan standing at the door and Maddie immediately dragging him off. Tamara was talking to Sebastian and he was offering her wine. Braden was talking intensely to Chauncey. Randall was talking to Rory and Aspen it was a good mix until he almost choked. Kelsey was talking to Brock, Walter, Natasha, and Greer. From the look of his fiance face she saw Greer also. “I don’t know why she is here Dani but I need you to breathe okay baby?” He said looking at her. “This is Thanksgiving we’re already stressed please no more fighting.”

Jackson walked down the staircase with Dani at hand. “Hey everyone can I get your attention. We are starting dinner shortly my mother stepped out but she has requested our first Thanksgiving. I know everyone is starving but I assure you we have snacks and horderves in the library and den. So please grab a glass of champagne and let’s go enjoy the evening.” He turned to look at Dani. “Please breathe.” He said as he walked to Walter, Greer, Brock, and Natasha. Kelsey had already hightailed it to her parents. “Good evening Brock man, you still haven’t shown up to play hoops. Man I don’t know what’s it going to take to get you on the floor.” He teased shaking his hand along with Walter. “Walter good evening.”

Dani had followed him out of the room wondering if he was thinking what she was, what int he world was Jackie up too. Heck for all she knew maybe she had seen how torn apart all her kids were and went to get Lowell? Instead her eyes beamed in on Greer LeClerq hanging on her cousins arm inside the mansion as if she was even welcome there. When Jackson told her to be nice she shot him a look before she looked back at Greer. “Yes everyone enjoy, other than you don’t you have somewhere else you can be today? Some lost father to be with or maybe the kitchen could use your help.”

Brock stared at his cousin so clearly the fangs were already out with her he never expected her to strike first though or maybe he did he just thought she’d be nicer about it. She was still upset about what Greer did at her shower that was clear and he let out a breath as he looked at Greer’s fuming face. Chauncey looked smug as shit like he was going to jump in too. His uncle was hard to read if anything he looked proud of her. “You know I didn’t think motherhood would make you be so much of a bitch sometimes. I invited her you said I could bring a guest.”

Walter for the first time after a call from Brenda was actually proud of his daughter for standing up for herself finally towards him. Towards people that would hurt their family and he simply took the champagne and drank looking at his future son in law to let Dani and her cousin work it out. He didn’t want Greer here as much as the next person but that was Brock’s mistakes to make. He also tried to further break the ice with him and Jackson he had promised Lauren and Lowell he would try. “I was actually hoping to speak with you. The Scottswood project I have been trying to get the numbers from your secretary on those panels. And Brock I would have to disagree motherhood suits your cousin especially how she feels on outsiders.”

“I’ve always relished in being a outsider mayor. You should know all about that considering your daughter just is speaking to you again. How many years did you carry on an affair with Brenda? Sticks and stones good mayor sticks and stones.” Greer spat back just as bitingly but kept a nasty nice smile on her face. As she turned to Dani with a fake smile on her face. “You look so motherly as always. So down to earth and down and out.” She leaned on Brock shoulder. “Your mom is signaling us. We should go.”

Jackson had to grip Dani back he didn’t know what it was but this girl truly made her go crazy. Greer was a vile bitch but he didn’t think she was anymore lethal than Brenda who she just went toe to toe with. It was just for some reason he saw Dani become more feral and even lethal around Greer. It was competition and it was ugly. For some reason he knew that they’d never be on the same side of the coin. Maybe what Dani said the other night was true. As ugly as Greer made Chauncey he was close to the crown. Not only that but they both knew Chauncey wasn’t done with Greer. “Listen Greer it would you do yourself a favor and stay out of my fiances way? You aren’t her favorite person and this our first holiday with the kids we want it special.”

“I can do that Jackson can you tell little miss perfection to stay the hell away from me and stop throwing jabs? I just came here with my date that’s it.” Greer said as she looked at Brock who looked exhausted. “And we are clearly annoying the men so let’s play nice. I don’t want to ruin your first holiday with the golden children from heaven anointed prophets of DGI.”

“If you’d quit showing up where you weren’t invited or wanted I wouldn’t have to throw jabs now would I?” Dani shot back as she looked at her cousin and saw her aunt looking at her with a glare. Really so now everyone was all warm and fuzzy with Greer? It made her even more annoyed and she saw Chauncey approach them and saw him glaring at Greer and Brock and she wasn’t sure if was because of jealousy or something else but she decided to play on that card anyway. “Did you know that Chauncey over here was asking me the other day about Natasha advice, says he got too burned by you and the number you did on him watch out cousin she’ll do it to you too.”

“She’s my guest. You invited me so therefore you invited her too. Next time don’t send me an invite if it upsets you so much.” Brock said as he looked at his cousin like she had grown two heads in matter of weeks but part of him knew she was right too, when people laid warnings it was best to listen to them. He had seen that fight between Natasha and Greer the other day, he had been the one to break it up. He still had to wonder if the fight was over Chauncey or not but when they entered he couldn’t help but have his eyes darting around for Chauncey to see if Greer still wanted him. “Chauncey.”

Chauncey had been watching the entire exchange from a distance but couldn’t help himself when he saw Dani losing her shit over it. He didn’t get why but he had a feeling it was because of the medical records and the shower, they would never get along. When he arrived at the small group he saw Walter walk away, saw his brother gripping Dani’s hand to resist jumping Greer that would be quite the spectacle. His eyes got wide for a moment and then narrowed as he agreed to play Dani’s game if only to drive Brock and Greer insane. “You’re right Dani it was after Natasha returned home from that nasty fight she had with you Greer. What was it that she told me again that you could have me whenever you wanted?” Chauncey said seeing Brock cringe a bit.

“Well if someone brings me a bone then I’m going to eat on it. I’m sorry that you believe that I’m still infatuated with you but when your fiance.” Greer paused with air quotes on fiance. “Comes to my lavish penthouse that’s child free mind you. To question if I was doing something to piss off her fiance.” She stopped again and air quotes fiance. “Then excuse me for defending myself. I’m sorry you seem to believe that I’m the bad guy in all of this. I’m so sorry but I’m not and I’m not going to be the bad guy for defending myself against that wild banshee that you call a fiance.” Once again air quoting on the word fiance. “Now I’m going to do what I have to do when a bitch is that pressed by my presence when all we were doing were riding a horse my boyfriend happens to be absolutely afraid of.” Greer said as she looked at Chauncey. “You were a toy that I played with and don’t forget it. You were great with me but sadly Natasha still hasn’t gotten you to the CEO seat has she? Jackson and Dani you two looked so beautiful descending down that staircase. Like the new Mr. and Ms. Devonshire right Brock? It must kill you to that even the servants are rooting for him to be the CEO.” Greer flipped her hair. Then with razor focus she stared down Dani.

“Don’t worry Brock, I won’t attend if it upsets your beloved cousin so badly. I do think that would isolate you if you don’t attend all your cousins milestones. You two seem so cute I must be dreaming though. I think your uncle and fathers would have a fit. Just being around the Fraiser’s for that little bit of time if Brock stopped showing up that would cause all sorts of shit. Especially with him! He became a firefighter because of you so don’t treat him like this because to let you all know this isn’t a fling or some sort of revenge kick. I don’t want Chauncey because I’m enamored with all this man right here. The man who makes me want to be better than I could ever be with you Chauncey. Two scummy people shouldn’t be together. You should know that Dani because didn’t you transform Christian Grey from a junkie to contender and front runner to run the whole thing.” She hissed at Dani with another nice nasty smile. “Now if we are done let’s drink, eat and be merry.”

“We can’t do that when the Pilgrims brought such a disgusting bitch as you to the harvest for feast. You surely are here to do something other than be devoted to Brock. It’s sad that you haven’t gotten over Chauncey and I saw it in our fight a week ago. It’s so sad you could never fulfill this man and my man. He’s mine Greer.” As Natasha turned Chauncey head and kissed him passionately.

Greer rolled her eyes as Natasha joined the onslaught. “I have tough skin but really do you all wish to make your holiday so unpleasant by insulting me all night? When I’m so unbothered by either of your presence. You still haven’t reached the gold huh? Maybe it’s because you aren’t with greatness.”

Brock looked between them all and saw his cousin back off just ever so slightly and wondered if Greer was right. Family was important to him and his cousin and if he picked Greer he had a feeling it would send shock waves through the entire family. “Can we really not do this today for everyone including your kids?” Brock finally relented looking at his cousin.

Chauncey looked between all of them wondering why her words rubbed him the wrong way about how Jackson and Dani had pretty much taken over his parents place. He had tried so hard to replicate that with Natasha a new beginning if you would for DGI and their family and now it was all slipping away from him. Now it was his baby brother and Dani Fraiser when it could have been him and Natasha for emphasis he drew Natasha close he looked Greer in the eyes. “At least we have a seat you have what an old beat up pickup truck and middle class life? He’ll never provide what you need Greer but you and I both know that.” Chauncey hissed seeing his words hit her before he pulled Natasha away.

Dani glared at her cousin and Greer of all the women in the fucking planet he had to pick her and family or not she wasn’t sure she could accept it. She had hurt her so badly with the records, caused her and Jackson to breakup, which in turn led to the kidnapping. She saw the dig she made at Chauncey and didn’t even feel an ounce of regret about it Jackson deserved that seat over him. “I’d venture to say that you’re the one who was jealous that you weren’t walking down those stairs with Chauncey. You’re right, let’s not do this today keep her out of my way. For the record when she hurts you I don’t want to hear about it.” Dani hissed at them before feeling Jackson finally pulling her away. She saw him looking at her and then looked at him pulling her arm free as she looked at him. “I will never tolerate her near us, our kids or my family so don’t ask me too.”

“I won’t Dani but I don’t agree with you doing that. That’s his choice and no matter what it’s his choice to make. You doing this every time you’re letting her win.” Jackson said as he looked back at Greer and Brock. “And I hate to admit it the bitch made a good point, Dani. You did change me. So what if Brock can do the same with her?”

“I’m exhausted from bantering with all of you. See you Dani.” She said waving at her and the look Brock had on his face concerned on her. Seeing how alarmed he was by his cousins fucked up actions made her question him. “You know I can leave, it’s fine this was crazy Brock anyways. I knew better and I’m going to ruin Dani’s night, Chauncey’s and eventually everyone’s Thanksgiving will be ruined. It’s fine Brock go be with your family. I’m a big girl and I can go have dinner with my dad. American traditions isn’t my tradition so I’ll go and you have a nice dinner. Don’t argue call me tomorrow and we’ll go shopping for Christmas gifts like you suggested.”

Seeing this all transpire Lauren walked behind Greer and Brock. “I can’t stand you little girl but you aren’t going to play and have my family looking at my daughter any different. So you’re eating dinner with us and that’s final.” Lauren pushed Greer away from the door. “As you said you little brat you’re here to eat, drink, and be merry. Well let’s do that.”


Trisha wrapped her coat around her as she and Dinah walked out the doors to the women’s shelter after a long morning and afternoon of serving food to them for Thanksgiving. Since reuniting with Yasmine and Forbes she found Forbes money went a long way for an apology to her or at least she thought it did. At the very least it fed hungry mouths of women and their children for the holiday’s, for her that was enough for now Yasmine and Khalil were inside saying goodbye and she smiled over at Dinah. Who would have thought that after all they had been through together their children were finally making the way to actually be together. Now that Yasmine knew who her father was she knew that Forbes would never accept her with Rory so maybe now she could move on with Khalil. She wanted Yasmine to be happy and she was not even happy about how Rory had treated her with Tess.

“Thank you for coming to help the last hour Lord knows seeing you here brightens their days. Ever since the trial and all that compassion and love you showed the Harrison’s people have been talking about it Dinah. You showed a lot more grace then I or half the women we know would have.” Trisha said looking at her stopping on the steps as she took in the winter sky and smiled at her. After everything they had both been through with Kendrick and her own Gina to see Yasmine with Khalil seemed to calm her worry just a tad. Khalil and her could make a new and better life for themselves now that Yasmine knew about Forbes. “I’m glad you know that the kids were able to stay together after the trial I know Yasmine had so many mixed feelings about everything that happened. And your boy, I am so proud of him Dinah and the man he is becoming despite everything Kendrick did I know deep down he loved you, his siblings and my daughters. He would be so proud of Khalil taking his place in the community and giving back.”

“Amen sisters.” A homeless man said passing the women.

“Amen brother.” Dinah said taking in the crisp cold air of Atlas Falls. “Our flesh want revenge and retribution but we know who handles karma.” She pointed up to the sky. “That man Jon Harrison didn’t kill my son out of malice and Kendrick was out of control. I couldn’t get to him and hell if his father was around I’m sure he couldn’t even talk any sense into that boy. Sometimes the allure of these streets is more bright than any future that we could see of our children.” She said as she looked at the town car waiting on them. She shook her head unsure of how to feel about the luxury her son was starting to live in. The rich and powerful were just as toxic as the poor and weak it was just they hid theirs behind fashion and glamour. “I know that I’m absolutely worried about my son. More and more he’s getting the perks of being a star athlete. You know some rapper shouted him out in some song? Girl it’s crazy the recognition this boy is getting I’m proud but I’m scared. Money changed Kendrick but my baby boy isn’t like Kendrick at all. Khalil wants to protect the community and I hate to say it that boy Mason said it. Kendrick was a criminal but he also was my baby who got me a house and got my other two children out of the gutter where he was raised. I can’t disrespect what he’s done for my children but I miss him.”

Dinah saw Yasmine and Khalil talking to some young kids and they had truly transformed into iconic figures in Scottswood. Yasmine was the girl who got away and Khalil was the boy whose talent got him further. “Girl I’m just glad we cooked last night because I would cry if we would have to do anything today.” She said laughing looking at them. “Come on boy Kaydence is at home with your uncle Roman and aunt Tanya. You already know they running through my house with those bad kids.” Dinah looked back at Trisha and touched her hand. “Is Yasmine okay? She just seems so conflicted and I have two words Forbes Montgomery. Now I hated him when you dated him years ago and I’m not fond of him popping back up in your world or Yasmine’s. He’s always hurt and used you Trisha. Are you sure telling her was the right thing? I mean look I’ve known since you got pregnant with her but Forbes is dangerous and we both know that. So why haven’t you told her?” Looking at her lifelong friend she shook her head. “Kids you have told her. Yasmine doesn’t understand how he’ll destroy everything.”

“I had no choice but to tell him after the kidnapping I wasn’t sure what to do when Kendrick lost it and took her and she was gone Dinah I had no choice but to call him. He walked away all those years ago offered me money I never took but I couldn’t save her I had no idea if the police would bring her home. I couldn’t live with myself if I never told her the truth about who she was.” Trisha said looking at Dinah who she knew was right about a lot of things including her relationship with Forbes but he was genuinely trying with Yasmine and she knew better this time he was still married. She had put that in the back of her mind for now, she still loved him some would say that he was the love of her life no disrespect to Gina or her father that she wasn’t actually sure who it was. She had always known who Yasmine’s father was how she was created and she was sure that had she been braver and Audrey hadn’t manipulated Forbes with Philip they would be together. The past was the past now and as she looked over at Yasmine and Khalil. “She knows to be careful with him Dinah plus he has been so good to her helping her financially at the studio and getting her an actual place away from all the violence. She knows to keep her guard up.”

“No one is saying that you ever and I mean ever have to not talk about Kendrick to your kids or remember him Dinah remember all the good he did. He was good, he was a kind boy who loved my Gina something fierce and he loved you and his siblings. It’s one of the reasons he did what he did but we both know that people that get pulling into these streets, they rarely make it out unscathed.” Trisha said when they finally made their way to Yasmine and Khalil, her daughter looked beautiful and was smiling she had to wonder if she was really happy though. She of course put on a good front but when she had told her about her run in with Rory the previous week she had worried about things with her and Khalil, she didn’t want her falling back into Rory’s lap. “We just finished up and Dinah here is right Kaydence and the rest are waiting no sense keeping everyone starving now is there? Yasmine I was wondering about your party you have coming up did you get the invites out that you wanted?” Trisha said and then smiling at Khalil. “It is so good to see you two so in love again I was just telling Dinah I am so happy you two found each other again.”

Yasmine smiled brightly at her mother as she looked at Dinah and leaned in and hugged her tightly. “We are happy too.” She said turning around and touching Kendrick lips which had her lipstick on it. She had been having a great time with Khalil these last few days especially. He’d been giving out turkeys to the community, coat drives, toy drives, and all of it was sponsored by his charity K-Kares. Biting her lip she at her momma and knew what she was thinking. Rory was a moment of weakness because he was tripping when she told him about Forbes. Her father was her father did that change her? That mothefucker looked so crazy and all she could think was that it was a curtain call on their past. She had fun with Rory and bullshit got in the way it was over and right now she was enjoying this. Khalil and her were the king and queen of Scottswood, she ran the safe area for teens to just dance and chill, he was now starting a youth basketball camp.

“I’m ready to eat.” Yasmine said clapping her hands together as she grabbed Khalil hand slowly following them into Dinah house. It looked amazing and Kay had done her thing. She always loved to decorate and style the house every year she got better. She looked around at Khalil family but her face dropped when she saw Philip, some red haired woman, and her father laughing. Not only that but seeing these people made Gina come to life again. All the Thanksgivings with the Watkins when momma was strung out. Miss Dinah had a mean ass sweet potato pie. Her eyes watered a little looking at her father with Pastor Franklin. He was the pastor of the church she was baptized in still to this day. As she walked in she exhaled and smiled looking at her father and turning to see her mother and Dinah shocked expressions. “Why y’all gagging so? Let’s get this party started turn down the music and let’s pray so we can eat.”

Forbes smiled as he watched Dinah and Trisha shocked expressions turn into warm smiles. He still didn’t understand the big deal about spades game but apparently he was good at it. As he stood and watched everyone join hands as the pastor began to pray. He thanked Forbes for being here and donating to his church and he knew that would get him into good favor with both Trisha and Yasmine. As he walked to his ex-lover and daughter. “Well I think this food smells amazing and I’m starved so lets have some fun. I think you two are shocked but I’ve had black friends before and I’ve also done business with Gloria Delacroix. So I’m here to show my daughter and my friend that I can maintain with any and everyone. How are you two doing? Khalil my boy if you keep it up Lebron or Stephan will have anything on you.”

Trisha hadn’t told Dinah or Yasmine that she had invited Forbes and Philip to dinner and it looked like Philip had brought a guest. It was time in her mind that Forbes be welcomed in her life and in her daughter’s after the dinner the other day he had been trying. It even seemed like Cassie and Philip had somewhat come around to who Yasmine was to them after that awkward beginning. They had no idea that Yasmine was their sister or she was certain Philip would have never let her get naked on a pole at his former club that he owned. “I’m glad you’re here. I see Philip brought a guest the more the merrier.” Trisha said looking at Forbes warmly as she saw Dinah still giving him the side eye and she gently nudged her best friend to give him a chance as a father to Yasmine this time not as a lover and man who broke her heart over and over again. “Khalil just got back from an away road game currently one of the top scorers in the league not to mention he has good news doesn’t he?” Trisha said knowing he had news that had been gossip for a few weeks.

Khalil looked at Trisha and knew that right now the perfect time to share his news with his mom and siblings there, father Franklin, the woman he loved and her father there. It was his turn to show Yasmine that he was serious about them as a couple and this was his way of being able to do it. He raised his wine glass and stood up seeing Yasmine get wide eyed and he had to laugh a little. “It is not a proposal baby. I do have news though. I was scouted pretty heavily the last few months and was offered a contract finally to move up to the big leagues by the Ravens. I go into DGI with my agent on Monday to sign the contract. So I was hoping that after that Yasmine that you’d move in with me full time.” Khalil said seeing Forbes beaming at him with pride and he had to push out his chest just a little bit at it, Yasmine looked shocked that he was going to play for the local team and actually head into DGI but this was not about Rory Devonshire to him this was about making Kendrick proud and he knew his brother would be all his hard work was paying off. “Now momma I am not dropping out of school or anything like that I’m going to finish my last year online but this what Kendrick always wanted for me and us.”

“Baby.” She said as she walked to Khalil and wrapping her arms around him. “You really growing up and your dreams are coming true. Kendrick would be so proud and I’m so happy for you.” She kissed his cheek and looked at Yasmine and him. “God Gina and Kendrick are smiling you two are a blessing. Look at this Mr. Montgomery? Do you remember me? Man you are strutting like a peacock in my home. Now I love Yasmine and Trisha but I saw so much stuff that you’ve done. I look at this girl as a daughter and if she is hurt. I promise you I’ll handle you myself.” She seethed at Forbes as she looked at him and extended her hand. “But it’s brave shit to come here.” She said with a smile.

Yasmine held her breath for a brief moment as Khalil announced he was signing with the Ravens. It was a major deal and people already speculated what a team Connor Hessington and he would make. For one second she thought he was going to propose and honestly she wouldn’t and couldn’t say yes right now. She was happy and felt good but after what happened with Rory recently how selfish would that be? When he said he hoped they’d be moving in together she immediately felt the walls closing in. Why would he want that? Her apartment had a dance space and she was free. Khalil was moving too fast and everyone was comparing them to Gina and Kendrick but duh they dead. That wasn’t a good comparison. Moving her long thick hair to the other side of her face. “We will talk about that soon baby when everyone isn’t around. This our business.” She said trying to immediately show she was still excited for him which she was.

“I have to say that this isn’t your business at all. You are my daughter and I invest fully in my children lives just ask my dear Philip. Khalil and with all due respect Ms.Dinah.” Forbes said in the nastiest tone he could muster. “If I find out that you hurt my daughter or ever do anything to her I assure you that basketball would be the least of your worries. Are we understood? Other than that I love the Ravens from my first time living in Atlas Falls. This could change their chances playing against those heavy weights like Carmello, LeBron and Step. Congrats my boy and don’t disappoint me the last man my daughter was with broke her heart. Don’t start a trend of it happening are we clear?”

Dru was dancing with Kaydence, some other girls, and Philip all around his wheelchair. She felt like today was a good day. She seemed to charm Forbes Mongomery but he was someone to have in her corner right along with Philip and Pierre. You see each one of these men possessed tools to help her dismantle every one of the fucking Fraisers and Kincaids. As she spun around she tripped over the break pedal and directly into Philip’s lap. “My apologies Mr. Montgomery.” She leaned in due to them being underneath the mistletoe and kissed him slipping her tongue in his mouth tasting all the flavor of his lips. Her eyes opened as a bright light pulled up in the driveway. Standing up from Philips lap she walked to the curtains and saw none other than Rory Devonshire getting out the car. “We have company.”

Rory had snuck out of the party at his mother’s house it was so crowded not to mention he had tried his best to forget the fact that Yasmine kissed him the other night and he returned it. It didn’t help that as he was packing up some things in his master bedroom that he wanted to donate to the local boys and girls club he had run across the perfectly wrapped gift from a year ago. A diamond bracelet that he had custom made for Yasmine that because of the drama with Kendrick he hadn’t been able to give her because Tess told her about them before he was able too. Not to mention that he fucked Tess like two weeks later on New Year’s eve he had thought about giving it away and instead had tucked it in his pocket and when the drama had gotten too much with Greer’s arrival he had snuck out of the back and drove to the other side of town. Once he got there he parked the car and locked the doors it was quiet in the Scottswood neighborhood which he supposed even gang bangers and drug dealers celebrated the holidays. He walked up the steps to the house seeing some redhead there and then a girl rush inside and yell at Yasmine that someone was there for her. She looked just as gorgeous as she did when they kissed when she looked at him when he finally made her way to the porch.

“Hey I’m sorry to rain on your Thanksgiving and I know that I kinda lost my shit the other day when you mentioned Forbes but we agreed to be friends. I was going through my closet and the drawers getting ready for the big overhaul I do like every year and I ran across this.” Rory said shuffling his feet as he saw Khalil staring at them with some pissed off look not to mention her mother too. He took out the gift and handed it to her seeing her not sure what to say to him. “I got it for you last year you mentioned that Gina gave one to you that was made of some cheap store like Claire’s and you lost it in the club the night that Kendrick took you. I wanted to give you back something that he had taken from you so I called in a few favors.” Rory said looking at her slowly opening the gift and seeing the shock on her face. “I had meant to give it you but then Tess came over and you found out what happened with her. I’m still sorry about what I did to you with her and I know you don’t have to take the gift but I hope you will because I know how much the old one you had meant to you.”

Tears burned in her eyes. Why did he come and give her this? He smelled so good and he looked even better. As she took out the bracelet and admired it, she held out her wrist as he snapped it on her. Looking down she looked in his eyes. “Rory why did you come all the way over here? You have to know that you send me on a high that sometimes I think isn’t and couldn’t be forever. This was why I fell in love with you. Why I still love you because you are thoughtful and kind. Like I said the other night I understand man. I played a part in us falling apart and Rory nobody makes me shine like you but we can’t keep doing this. It’s not fair to Aspen and Khalil.” She felt high because she wanted to reach out and kiss him again but looking over her shoulder she saw Khalil’s wandering eye. “I can’t stop thinking about Gina and last year she would be so happy right now and I don’t know what to do but we can’t keep doing this. We aren’t these people to do this so Rory go home.”

Yasmine walked up to him and hugged him tightly not ready to let him go. “Thank-you so much because you don’t know how hard this is. I made it and she isn’t here and neither is Kendrick. Last year I lost my last connection to my sister and I haven’t even said that to Khalil. So are you happy with Aspen? I’m happy but I wonder if I wouldn’t have acted childish and jealous of an old broad where would we be? Look it’s cold Rory and I know your family need to see you. You about to blow Rory.” She said leaning back and seeing Forbes and Khalil walking outside. She huffed as she shook her head. “You two are incredible.”

“Oh I was just coming to see exactly why you are here Devonshire? Isn’t your rapist father dying? Shouldn’t you be devoting all your time to him and staying the fuck away from my daughter?” Forbes said seething raising his hand to Khalil not to attack or say a word. “I assure you that she’s mine and never will be with you again. She’s upgraded away from basic and the deplorable conditions of a Devonshire.” He growled as he looked at Rory. “Launch your petty app Zerick is still going to destroy you all.”

“Oh hell no.” Yasmine said turning to her father walking directly in his face. “If you don’t take your ass inside and shut the fuck up talking to him! You don’t get to come in my life after how many years gone and police shit. Boy hush that noise out.” She barked at Forbes and Khalil watching him pull Forbes inside. “I’m sorry Rory I gotta go.”

Rory stood there for a moment smiling as Yasmine hugged him wondering what to say back to her only to see Forbes step out and look at him, what the fuck was he doing here? He saw her step back and listened to him freezing when he mentioned that he was Yasmine’s father he looked at her with so much rage for Forbes he didn’t even know he had it in him. How long had she known? Did she know what Forbes had done to his family? He doubted that Forbes Montgomery was a boy scout given everything that was in his own closet, he and his family were trying to heal with everything that Forbes had done to them. Trying to heal with what his father had done to Katie and Zerick being in their lives now. He saw Yasmine telling him to go and shook his head at her almost laughing that this time he was the one in the dark. He had never questioned where she came into money suddenly or why MontCorp had backed the dance studio after he had offered it to her, now it all made sense. He was the fool this time not her and he shook his head at her this was probably how she felt with Tess last year.

“This was a mistake to come here. I may of lied about Tess but I never lied about who I was. You should have told me the other night while you sat in my car defending him to my face and then kissed me. You know what I am happy with Aspen. What happened the other night was a mistake and can never and I mean never happen again.” Rory bit out biting back angry tears he could never be with Forbes daughter after everything he had done to his family not to mention the way Yasmine defended him and stood up for him. He took a few steps down on the porch looking at her and he could swear he saw tears or it was cold. “I gotta go.” He finished before he walked back briskly to his car wondering how everything had turned to shit so quickly once again for him.

Yasmine face showed her crushed emotions. Did he think she would set him up? Like that she didn’t understand her father wasn’t copestitic with the Devonshires. This was some bullshit she’d just found out that this man was her father and he was tripping. Like she was choosing a side or something when all she wanted to do was get to know her father. Flipping her hair she turned around and waved her hand as she switched into the house. “What the hell was that Forbes?” She snapped looking at Khalil. “You know what are you insecure about him? I thought we were past that Khalil.” Rolling her eyes as she stormed upstairs to the bathroom.


Randall looked around the room he had been at the Devonshire mansion over the years on and off for various board member parties it was always so well up kept and decorated. There were always lavish dishes and chatter today felt different and he knew why divorce or even pending divorce was a terrible thing. It affected the very core of every family and it was clear today with all the tension that he could feel with the children they were all clearly dealing with everything differently. He hadn’t really talked to Aspen about how Rory was taking the news or really even talking to her at all she had seemed so distance lately and he knew it was because of Blythe. She had reached out the other night after a run in with her but other than that he had not had a lot of time with his daughter as of late. School was out for the holiday break which was nice and after a few more term papers had been graded earlier, his mind could now focus on his daughter. He finally saw Blythe approaching him and took a drink of his champagne.

“Blythe. Jackie certainly wanted to make a statement this year didn’t she?” Randall said mentally making a note of what board members were invited and which weren’t. Anyone supporting Lowell after the accusations and the tests were suspiciously absent which happened to include Lowell’s siblings Linus and Camilla. His ex looked gorgeous she always did and he had hoped to at least remain civil for the dinner that they were going to have to sit through together. “I do hope that we can at least civilly get through dinner without you and Aspen having another fight. If the likes of Walter and Lauren can do it and everyone else in this room who happen to hate each other can do it so can we with Aspen. Speaking of which have you seen her and Rory?”

“I haven’t.” Blythe said twirling her champagne glass between her now that she had cut her off. He had reached out to her after the reported fisticuffs between her and their daughter. As she fluffed her hair she looked at him. He was always so meek and tame it annoyed her because Aspen clearly had failed at being a student at Harvard and shamed them. Yet here he was still saving her and she never understood why. Randall had such a soft spot with Aspen. It hurt her feelings that often Aspen and her querels he would take the child side. Instead of standing as a united front. When she was heavy set and obese she wanted Aspen to diet but he refused. He let her keep eating until she was her cute little redhead she was a fat brat. He’d always spoiled her daughter and it lead to her worst actions.

“I don’t have a problem keeping the peace what I have a problem with is your constant babying of our child. Aspen is old enough to handle her own expenses you see she dropped out of Harvard, so why am I still buying Birkin bags and fancy facials? She’s spoiled and you’ve always spoiled her so I’m asking you to teach her a lesson with me. Stand with me as a parent or can you do that? I mean you never was much of a parent after all.” Blythe said writhing with rage and resentment. Their relationship had always been special and she damn sure wanted her daughter to love her just as much as her daddy. Yet she never felt Aspen loved her a fraction of how much she loved her father. Something to this day she still carried jealousy over. “I was there with her every fever, sniffle, and cough but she still treats you like you are on a pedestal and I’m trash. I’m done if you don’t cut her off I swear I use my lawyer to strip you of every penny so she can honestly learn a lesson.” She said in a hushed cold voice as she raised the stem of her champagne glass. “Cheers.”

“You have a problem with her not following our directions to Harvard, she is an adult and was unhappy there and you never even waited to find out the true story about why she came home in the first place. You want to call it babying I like to call it actually being a parent something you always thought was more of a chore with her.” Randall said looking at her it was so hard to be civil around her all these years later, they had tried so hard to make their marriage work and he thought when they adopted Aspen that it would help if anything it pushed them further apart. Of course Blythe was a good mother but she often wanted to claim she was better then he was and what they had both done for Aspen. In truth his wife liked her place at DGI, wanted perfection at home and as their daughter grew that bloomed over into fights that Aspen could hear in her bed between them. “Which lesson would that be exactly Blythe that you would like to teach her, that because she failed to live up to your standards that she would be punished and cast out? Harvard was always about you I actually preferred that she stay here and go to college but you of course had to twist her arm to do what you wanted her too.”

“Let’s just drop the pretenses shall we? You were always trying to make her someone she is not. Your little run in with her the other day proving just that going off on her in front of Rory Devonshire to attempt to what exactly again? Make you look like some sainted mother to her and Rory, let me tell you it didn’t go as planned when she called me bawling to tell me about the incident.” Randall said seething at her his voice rising just a bit knowing that now was not the time or the place to cause a scene. They had been through so much as a couple specialist after specialist to try and have a child and with Aspen he thought she would just adjust and love her as her own but he always felt deep down Blythe’s need to change her stemmed from the fact that Aspen was never hers biologically and she tried her damnedest to fix it or whatever his wife thought she was trying to do with her. “We tried to have a child Blythe and when we exhausted all our options and were at the bleakest Audrey came in and let us know that Forbes could help. He brought us Aspen and I will always be grateful to them for it, she wanted you to be happy but you tried to mold our daughter into someone she is not, she is not you Blythe she isn’t me either and maybe that is why Aspen is the way she is. Maybe it’s time we tell her the truth. She’s old enough to know now.”

Blythe eyes watered as she thought about that time her husband couldn’t conceive and she was desperate to have a child. As she touched her own shoulders and looked at him as she thought about Forbes handing her Aspen. She was the most beautiful baby she’d ever seen. She was a striking little girl although chubby and grew into a butterfly. As she bit down on her lip listening to the cold hard realities of what she had done to Aspen. Had she been too tough on her daughter? Or was she just the only disciplinarian between the two of them? As she slowly walked to the wall Blythe leaned her body against it. She looked at Randall and her eyes filled with tears out of rage. She gulped down the rest of her champagne and then snatched another glass from a passing waiter. Taking another drink she thought about Audrey calling her and telling her the truth. Looking at Lauren Fraiser staring at them speaking she shook her head.

“Absolutely not.” Blythe spat out as she looked at him. “She’s not ready and I think possibly I have placed my own expectations because she wasn’t biologically my own. But I did the best I could Randall and I wanted her to be safe and happy. I truly did and I wanted her to have the best.” She turned away and wiped her face not wanting him to see her cry. “You never cared about the burden that I had with her. I carried all the secrets and you got to be the loving father. I got the sin and you continue to profit from my secret pain. You’ll never understand but she will never know she isn’t our daughter biologically. Do you understand me Randall? Do you? We can’t tell her and I’ll go to therapy and do whatever I have to. To fix me but I can’t reveal that to her. I can’t because we have done things.” She paused wiping her face seeing Aspen and Max approaching them with Sebastian. “Please drop this Randall.” Quickly turning to the mirror she saw her sister Audrey staring right back at her. She held one finger in front of her mouth telling her to keep silent about what she knew. “Darling you look beautiful and your father and I were just discussing you actually. I want to make amends so if you would enroll in school here honey then I’ll give you back your trust fund. Not only that I want you, myself and your father to go to some kind of therapy just so we can all coexist with each other. So I can fix what I so clearly messed up. Our relationship, I’ve been thinking about Audrey a lot and she wouldn’t like how I haven’t been in Philip and Cassie lives or yours as much as I should have. Aspen I want to apologize to you. It’s the season right to be thankful for your family and I’m very thankful for my daughter. My beautiful daughter.”

Aspen looked over at a smiling Max and she thought she was being punked. Who was this woman and where in the hell was her mother. Something had shifted and she wasn’t sure what it was. Looking at her father she felt an unrelenting shock or sadness in him. As she clapped her hands together hearing her trust-fund was back. “Thanks mom OMG and I have to say that I was going back to school. Actually I’m thinking of interning with Max as she starts the casino and I would love to attend therapy to figure out why we clash so much mom. This is amazing! Dad why are you looking like that? Are you okay?” Aspen said as she bit her lip. “Oh dad this is Sebastian that wine you love his family makes it.”

Randall looked over at Blythe as she changed the subject when Aspen approached them with Max he felt like it was time that Aspen knew that she was adopted. That he was not able to have children with her mother and that was why they loved her so much. He loved her ever since that day when Forbes and Audrey had told them that they had pulled a few strings to get a baby for them and then they saw her for the first time. Beautiful in every way, angelic like and with no one else to care for her it was amazing that she came into their lives. He wasn’t sure if it was something that Blythe was serious about when she mentioned that she wanted to go to counseling and fix their issues. He had to wonder if during that time with therapy if the adoption would come up then what? He smiled at Aspen and then pleasantly at Max he was a little leery about her daughter’s growing bond with Max on the other hand if anyone could help his daughter navigate the Devonshire’s it would be Max.

“I do love this wine tell him that it is very lovely Max. I was so excited to see it at the local liquor store and they’re carrying it now at the Fraiser Pub as well. I am so happy that you are taking Aspen under your wing I was so excited when Aspen let me know that she was considering re-enrolling here next semester to finish her degree the opportunity would be amazing for her.” Randall said being polite as he could about everything in front of Max about the therapy that Blythe was suggesting, he took a drink of his champagne as he looked at Aspen. He did want to get to know Rory a bit better but he had seemed to disappear from the room. “I was hoping to speak to Rory tonight have you seen him Aspen? As for therapy that is something I think we should all look into I know the divorce has been very hard for you.”

Max had been spending the evening beaming with Aspen and Sebastian as they mingled in the room and got to know her family better. She was honestly trying to forget about the run in with Gia at Renard’s she was going to figure out what Gia was up to. Even if Sebastian had warned her in the car ride over to forget about it she was not going to let that bitch from his past control their future together she refused to do so. She looked over at Aspen as they approached her parents, of course she had to be polite to Blythe as a board member and employee at DGI but she hardly knew Randall in all the years his wife was a member. Randall always seemed to be taking care of Aspen or at work at the university when functions would come up but she was briefly acquainted with him from college everyone had to take his history class as a basic requirement. She took a sip of her champagne as she nodded her head at him when he mentioned the wine and then she wondered if Blythe had any clue that her now ex was actually dating Lauren and decided to stir the pot a bit to find out. Honestly she had no idea where Rory ran off too at the moment he was there earlier.

“My mom may of sent him on an errand or something I am sure Rory will be back soon. Aspen is so welcome to intern at the casino when it starts I think she would be a valuable member here at the DGI given who her mother is and all the hard work she has put in, she knows a strong work ethic professor Randall.” Max said giving them both a smile as she did she was curious about Blythe’s thoughts on the board seat though something that none of her siblings had even bothered to ask her, they were all more concerned with the other members of the board. Blythe was always fair from what she remembered but she was curious who she was going to vote for now that moves had been made to out her father given what had happened with Zerick. “Blythe I did want to ask about your vote, who is in the running for you? I know that business with Zerick was very upsetting for all of you to hear and how it came out we’re all still adjusting to the news of who he is. I am so glad you are both enjoying the wine and yes the Pub has it as well, Lauren probably let it slip the other day on one of your dates I assume Randall.”

“It wouldn’t be ladylike to open your mouth before you’ve decided who to vote for. Even though I think female leadership is at a rise, I just don’t think you or Bliss are ready. You seem to be more preoccupied with Sebastian and she has so much drama it isn’t funny. So to tell you the truth neither of you will be getting my vote.” She said with such nastiness it made her feel grimy. Why was he sniffing around Lauren Fraiser out of all women? It made her feel almost psychotic thinking of it. “I meant every word of what we said and we will talk later. I see Natasha and I have to ask her few work related questions. Oh and Randall after me you’d think you’d stay upscale and not go to the bargain dump to pick out a new less glamorous model.”

Aspen rolled her eyes watching her mother walk away. “Rory is out like Max said. Jackie needed something for the meal and he volunteered no biggie. He’ll be back soon and you can grill him all you want. Daddy I don’t know what you did but you fixed it. She’s not acting evil or mean right now. It’s like a miracle on Devonshire street.” She grabbed her father’s arm. “Max I’ll be back.” As she walked toward the outside where the heating lamps were keeping it toasty. “Daddy, I love you and do you think we could be quasi-normal family? I think we could be a family somehow again. Well that just makes me smile because I know you and mom are angry and have so much stuff to work through but being there for me. God daddy that’s major, and you two burying the hatchet. Did she get slipped with something? Her whole demeanor it was different. To be fair father if I don’t say so myself mother might be jealous of Lauren.” She scoffed opening her arms and hugging him tightly. “I missed this version of her and I don’t know why or what you did but thanks dad.”

Randall watched as Blythe walked away and followed Aspen outside honestly it wasn’t any of Blythe’s business who he was seeing and he quite enjoyed Lauren’s company. He still felt Aspen deserved to know the truth but he knew that it wasn’t his place to tell her on his own that was something that he and Blythe needed to do together. “We were just talking about the past about how you came into our lives I think she got nostalgic think of that your mother showing a nostalgic bone in her body. I think I should be allowed to date and so should she Aspen we’re in a better place now that we have all moved forward.” Randall said knowing how fragile his daughter was sometimes when it came to her mother he took a deep breath. “You’re still taking your medication right? I know your attacks can overwhelm you and there is no shame in having something to help with that.”

“No anxiety attacks.” She said looking at him. “I have been taking my meds dad can we not talk about my weirdness please.” Aspen looked around and still didn’t see Rory back. Then she saw his car pulling up. She smiled looking at her father. “See there he is. Today is going to be amazing and dad I think this is the beginning of something new for us both. So let me introduce you to my boyfriend properly.” Taking her father hand leading him back inside. For some reason she felt like this was the beginning of good times for them all.


Jackson looked around the table full of friends and family and his heart swelled. For a moment when he looked around he wondered where his father was. Then he remembered that his father wasn’t here. As he looked around he saw everyone eating and having conversations with each other. He began to feel like something was missing earlier today when his mother was gone he thought he knew where she went. She still wasn’t telling anyone who she came to see. Her eyes had a determination in it that was more lethal than he’d ever seen. Folding his arms he felt his nerves steel as he stood up at the table. “Attention.” He called out and cleared his throat. “This is the first year we haven’t had our father at a holiday in God knows how long. We all know why and I for one thought why should we keep continuously punishing him. He was born knowing that he was a product of rape and he’s our aunts son. So I called Zerick and asked him to join us today. He agreed and is here. Listen our family stands as one unit. We have done some horrible things to each other and Zerick just one upped us all. He’s our brother and our second eldest brother sorry Chauncey you’ve been usurped.” He heard Rory chuckle and even saw Chauncey crack a smile.

“We don’t know him, we can’t trust him immediately because of what he’s done. But what we can do is get to know him. We can do better than what did with Bliss and we can welcome him to DGI and our family legacy because he’s our brother. He’s apart of us and I don’t see us falling because dad isn’t here anymore. If anything this is a new dawn for DGI and the Devonshire’s. So can you move down a little Chauncey and please set another seat at the table. We have a guest coming. That’s all I have to say. Oh and I guess we should still say what we are um grateful and thankful for. Well I have two amazing children that I happen to already believe are geniuses. I think they understand me in ways I never thought anyone could. They are perfect and I couldn’t be more grateful for them and the woman who brought them into the world. Dani is my soulmate and to find that is so rare but I am so thankful for Dani and the Fraiser family showing me love and open arms. I’m grateful that this petty war between our families is done and we can enjoy that we are one family. I am so thankful that in one month I’m going to be married to the most beautiful woman on earth. I am full and I’m so content with us taking our families legacy into the future.” He looked up and the room grew silent as Zerick walked in.

Zerick didn’t even know why he had showed up the call had come out of the blue a few days ago when Jackson had invited him to the dinner. He had every intention of staying home by himself and plotting to take DGI and burn it to the ground. His aunt’s warning and pleading in the back of his head when the phone call and the invite was over leaving him to stew in his own thoughts. He then decided to give it a chance and to see what it was all about the last few encounters with his siblings ending in his opinion where he and Forbes wanted them. He had even considered for a moment going to visit his mother for the holidays but then thought better of it. His aunt’s visit had upset her and her doctor had recommended a visit from him would need to wait. So instead he had made his way over and stood in the doorway while he heard Jackson talk and then saw all the stares and near whispers as he entered the room.

He watched as the staff began to make room at the table and Chauncey looked at him with a mix of what he felt was rage and pity. Greer was there with her new guy his name began with a B or something was all he remembered and he was pretty sure he was related to the Frasier’s. Max looked at him with pity so did Bliss. Rory looked like he was going to welcome him and his aunt had tears in her eyes. He wasn’t sure if it was joy or if she was upset and he walked to the table looking at Jackson and then over at Dani as he took a seat next to her and then Chauncey on the other side. “Thanks.” He said quietly letting the silence of his arrival engulf the room.

Walter looked around the room as Jackson had welcomed Zerick Westwood or was it Davis now into the room for dinner. He watched the siblings faces and then looked over at Jackie, he was honestly quite surprised that Jackson had extended an olive branch to him after everything. When it looked like no one else in the room was going to follow suit he raised his glass giving the Devonshire siblings a chance to take in the news and react as he looked at his future son in law. “I’m very grateful that I have been blessed with two new grandchildren this year. That both my son and my daughter have found happiness and that Lauren and I have begun to work together to be civil.” He paused for a moment and finished. “Not to mention I am very excited to see how lovely my only daughter will look walking down the isle in a month to you. I meant what I said at the hospital the feud for now is over with your family and mine.”

Chauncey was still in too much shock as he was all but moved down a seat to make room for his half brother and looked at Jackson like he had lost his fucking mind. Zerick had shown up at the hospital the day the twins were born and told him to go off himself with drugs and had caused a scene. Not to mention how he behaved around their father at the hospital, his mother was looking at Jackson with beaming pride and then Walter spoke glossing over the fact that Zerick was at the table with them like it was an everyday occurrence. He felt Max kicking him under the table and saw Natasha looking at him expectantly to say something. He picked up his glass trying to not show his disdain for Zerick being there. “I am so glad that I have a daughter that I ma devoted too that is becoming a lovely young lady. I am grateful that I found the perfect woman in Natasha after one that went between two brothers.” Chauncey said looking at Greer and then at Zerick as he took a drink and seeing others in his family glaring at him. “I’m also glad that we can all be gathered as a family to forget about the last few months of unpleasantry that happened with father.”

Max sat in her seat for a moment as Jackson spoke then Walter spoke and then Chauncey spoke. She looked over at Bliss and Hunter, she was going to do the mature thing when it came to giving her thanks this year. “I’d actually like to say something I am grateful that this last year has taught me to humble myself when it comes to what I wanted in life. That I was able to look at my life with Hunter and realize that for the both of us it was best that we moved on. It also allowed me to move on with Sebastian while I was in Spain and find love while my sister found the person she was supposed to be with.” Max said seeing tears in Bliss’s eyes and a thank you in Hunter’s. “It also gave me a new nephew who is adorable to spoil and then another niece and another nephew that all will be dressed to the nines in a month when Jackson and Dani tie the knot.”

Rory sat in his chair and looked around the table not sure what he should say that he was thankful for he had just come from sneaking out to see Yasmine while Aspen was sitting next to him. He still hated what his father had done to Katie and hadn’t forgiven him for it by a long shot. He supposed their was the app, it was about to launch here in a few days. All his siblings were giving these speeches and he didn’t know what to say as his mother look at him expectantly. “I’m grateful for the app that is going to save the company from financial ruin. I’m grateful that we have a mother who was able to say enough is enough. I’m glad that dad has to really think about he has done to everyone including you Zerick.” Rory said seeing some shock on his siblings faces he was not going to forgive his dad so easily. “I’m also glad that Aspen has come into my life as someone I can really lean on when things go to shit.” He finished as he sat down his glass and looked at his siblings and the rest of them.

Bliss saw Rory was uncomfortable and she felt uneasy that Zerick was here. He had gotten his way and finally was apart of the family even though he wasn’t quite yet. It was nice of Jackson to think about how they treated her. She felt completely awkward but this was what needed to happen. “I am grateful for the fact that I’m no longer an outsider. I never really thought of being one of the Devonshire siblings but to have you all in my corner during this trying time with Dimitri. As she fluffed her hair looking at Hunter. “I’m so thankful to have someone who truly loves me and doesn’t take advantage of my insecurities. He loves my son as his own and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I thank Max for moving forward and I have so much more that just my siblings, I have another mother. Thank-you Jackie for loving me so purely and with so much grace.”

Lauren looked around the table and smiled at everyone. “Well I guess the Fraiser’s can get in on this tradition. I’m grateful and thankful for my grandchildren. Wow Dylan has become such a little man and the twins are so special. I remember when Jackie had Jackson and Max. We used to dress them up and take them to the park. Now we are grandmothers together and God has made it. I’m grateful for the Fraiser’s even though I am not with Walter I have a family. Most of all I’m grateful for starting something new. Something that I wasn’t expecting that feels so good.” She smiled at Walter and saw Blythe cutting daggers at her. “My children and even my ex-husband who has shown so much humility. I love you all and thank-you for welcoming our family here.” She looked over at Jackson and Dani. “I would also like to say thank-you to Lowell Devonshire.” The room grew silent. “His horrible actions have banded together two strong families and given a new kin to you all. Now Zerick Davis isn’t a good person but he deserves a shot to be here with you all running DGI. We are a family.”

“May I go?” Dylan said looking at the crowd. “I want to say thank-you to my parents for reuniting and showing me that I have a family. Sometimes as kids we think divorce is our fault and I’m grateful and thankful to see my parents together. I also am grateful I have two new cousins that my grandmother can fawn over so that she can get out of my business.” The room laughed as he looked at Maddie. He could tell something was bothering her. “It’s okay go ahead.”

“Fine, I’m grateful for the future that DGI has. My goal is to one day be the CEO of that company and I can’t do that if you guys are tanking it. So that is what I’m super grateful for. That one day my children can still work for DGI when I have them because of uncle Rory.” Maddie said sitting down as she looked at everyone. Then she saw Zerick looking at her and she became enraged. “I’m also thankful that we are all together but I’m going to say it. Grandpa is dying and all you can hate him for what happen years ago. I don’t care! I don’t! I don’t know aunt Katie and I don’t know Zerick. I do know my grandpa and all of you have turned your damn backs on him. He’s eating dinner with Tess and that random British girl! I’m sorry you all have accepted Zerick as a family member but he will never be my uncle. Not now, not ever because no matter what he tried to destroy us. He tried to ruin us and I hate him. I hate you do you hear me? You aren’t a Devonshire, you aren’t a Davis you are a mistake!” Maddie felt Dylan grabbing her hand. “No!” She screamed snatching it away. “I don’t believe that DNA test and none of you should either. What does grandpa gain from this and what does all our enemies? Please excuse me for ruining the mood. I’m not hungry.” Maddie threw her napkin down and began to rush out of the dining room. “I hate you Zerick! I hate you! I wish you were dead.”

Jackson saw Chauncey standing looking shocked at Maddie’s behavior. “She’s a teen Chauncey. She’s just upset and doesn’t understand the gravity of what’s going on. Zerick she didn’t mean it she misses her grandfather and we all miss dad. I know you don’t understand but he wasn’t the monster that Forbes put in your head. He was our father and although hard on us he was very much a piece of our hearts. So Zerick I apologize on her behalf you’re welcomed here.”

Jackie looked at Maddie’s outburst and how uncomfortable it made the entire table and looked around it before standing up. “Sit down this instance. I will not have you speaking to your uncle like that, to my sister’s son like that. You love your grandfather no one here is disputing that. Everyone here loved him at one point ignoring what he did however will not let us move forward as a family.” Jackie hissed seeing Chauncey staring at her and Maddie looking at her mouth open when she took up for Zerick, she had no choice he was her nephew and he didn’t ask to be born into the circumstances that he was born into.”I’m glad everyone is here including Zerick and you Maddie. I’m sad for the people that can’t be here but I won’t apologize for wanting him here. Now would someone cut the turkey so we can all eat.”

Jackson handed Zerick the knife and looked at Chauncey who was handing him a fork. “You’re eldest here let’s get to cutting.” He looked over at Maddie and Dylan who had their face glued to their phones no doubt texting each other. “Phones away it’s our first Thanksgiving like this. Together we know there aren’t any more long lost children out there. We are together.” Jackson looked across the lake at the flickering lights. Wondering if his father was having a good Thanksgiving.


Looking outside at the mansion glowing as if it was a star. Tess watched Bliss social media where she saw her daughter putting up so many pictures with Lowell’s children and her son. She was scared as hell that Bliss would become one of Jackie’s kids. As she walked the patio she watched Belle and Lowell taking selfies. As she smiled because this was her dreams. Fox running around the kitchen, with Hunter chasing behind him. Bliss with a big pregnant belly being teased mercilessly by Belle who was with some handsome young man. She was married and happy with Lowell her entire body shivered in fear. If he ever found out the truth she snapped out of reality when her cellphone rang. Who in the hell would be calling her this late? As she walked to her phone she saw an unknown caller. “Who is this?” She hissed into her phone.

Cassie stared at the ring on her finger as she exited the Harrison house and got a text from her father asking her to make a phone call for him to Tess Blisston. An odd request and the message was even more odd but she did owe him for the information she had given him about Miles and made the call waiting till Tess picked up and she spoke. “Cassie Montgomery, my father is occupied this evening and wanted me to call and deliver a message to you. He says the plan needs to move forward as planned. He says that you both come out the winners in this scenario as long as you do what he says.” She said tapping her fingers against the cold metal railing as the moonlight hit her engagement ring.

“So he sucked you back into his web. Here I thought you were smarter than I, Cassie. Tell Forbes that the plan is on no tricks. Tell him the charade is still on and I’m going to keep Lowell in my grasp. The divorce is coming soon from one of them. Cassie get out if you can. I knew your mother very well. She never was happy with Forbes, he’s evil and your father will destroy you and everything you hold and love dear. Believe my words.” Tess said hanging up as she walked out to the picture session with Belle, and Lowell. “Get me I didn’t get all this botox not to be seen.”