3×09 “Going Down Swinging”

3X09 “Going Down Swinging”
Written by: Chris Coleman, Kristi Clark, Ashley Stoddard and Kelly Zollo
Guest Starring: Anderson Kincaid (Eric Dane), Cara Kincaid (Evangeline Lily), Anya Troester (Judy Reyes) and Gloria Beecher (Angela Bassett)
Warning: Episodes may contain violence, language and graphic sex.
Theme Song: Ed Sheeran- Bad Habits

Brooke gripped Atticus hand and felt his grief at this moment. He was grieving the past relationship with his brother. Not to mention hearing that Bliss nearly lost her baby with Hunter over Dimitri wasn’t any better. Atticus partially blamed himself for Dimitri reign of terror, he’d never burden her but she knew the truth. Atticus thought he could stop Dimitri but he was younger and wasn’t as strong as he was now. He wasn’t a man yet and how could he prevent Dimitri from doing some of those things against Bliss? Stepping out of the limo she was glad that Bliss had chosen to stay at the Devonshire mansion for the time being. Her house was swamped with paparazzi but the truth was she knew that Hunter didn’t kill Dimitri. She was sure that Bliss did it from the moment, he turned himself in. She wasn’t going to let Hunter rot and she wasn’t going to lose her sister-in-law. If Hugo was behind the scenes had pushed for Dimitri’s murderer to be found this would be the reason why Jon went after Bliss. It had been a week since everyone in Atlas Falls was taken by storm with the allegations against each woman.

“Visiting Fox is a good thing and checking on Bliss shows that the throne is caring especially after Dimitri.” Brooke smiled at Atticus and she knew it was going bad for Hunter in jail. She heard someone attacked him and he might be in solitary. People would be after him because of the Kincaid legacy and name. Steven Kincaid put a lot of criminals behind bars but Greer was running stories saying should his cases be looked into. Now that he was a known racist. Her father loved Tony and she knew he loved the Delacroix, Jamal was like a son to him. She hated this perception of him because her grandfather was a part of the klan. The staff opened the doors to the mansion leading them to the dayroom and going to locate Bliss. “Are you alright?” She walked to him touching his chest. “You can express anything about this situation. My brother is in jail for killing your brother. That isn’t normal.”

Atticus never knew the weight him being regent would have until this entire mess with Dimitri happened. Part of the crown was heavy and the prime Minister and his father had went behind his back, to contact the new district attorney over his brothers death. His brother was a monster that didn’t deserve to be mourned let alone the state funeral he received. Now he was out even in a more impossible position that Hunter was arrested, Brooke’s own brother was accused of killing his own with a confession to boot. None of it was good or looked good for them as a couple in fact the paparazzi had swallowed them and Bliss this week. Gree LeClerq kept sending her vultures he’d have to send her a message legally to stop or have to dig up some unwanted dirt on her retaliation. He escorted Brooke up the steps of the Devonshire mansion and inside, he honestly wanted Bliss to stay with him and Brooke after her collapse but this would do as well. Seeing his nephew would be the highlight of today for him and he nodded as they were let in and told the maid would get Bliss.

“I am happy to see Fox he has been through so much with what happened with Dimitri and not to mention when Bliss left. He is such a smart young boy though I do wish Bliss would consider his upbringing a bit better. Private school back home would be better.” Atticus said, looking at Brooke and trying to avoid the subject of Dimitri all together. In truth he was upset that Fox would be in America away from advisors and his own country but Bliss was the boys mother but he was still the heir apparent toll he was of age. “Honestly my father and parliament are behind this entire witch hunt as such is politics. It would have been better had he been extradited back home for his crimes they see it as a slight he was killed here. As for Fox I do wish Bliss would reconsider and have him come home where he belongs; he won’t learn to be a king here.” Atticus said, looking at Brooke and seeing Bliss in the doorway.

A piece of Bliss wanted to scream at Atticus he wasn’t going anywhere near that toxic throne. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. She didn’t want Fox to be anything like Dimitri or Hugo for that matter. She loved Atticus but he was too little to defend her against Dimitri but if he was older he would have. As she walked in the room in yoga gear Jackie had insisted that she needed a outlet beyond fretting. More than anything Tess and Jackie were bickering more and more. When her mother came to see her it was world war three. Poor Jackie had to deal with her and her sister as a permanent reminder of her father’s betrayal. Not to mention Hunter was acting like a complete ass. He was protecting her but she didn’t believe in that. She didn’t believe he deserved to take her punishment because she was pregnant. She should be behind bars. As she placed Fox down on the ground he took off to Brooke and Atticus. She walked down the small stairs and grabbed a bottle of water pouring it in a glass.

“Can I get either of you anything. I got the paper from Ilsa De Cruces.” Bliss picked up the paper which somehow had reconstructed Dimitri as a hero who was misunderstood. Hugo was working overtime to repair the crown’s image. Slamming it on the table she looked at Atticus and Brooke. “He’ll never learn how to be the king. He’ll go back because honestly your father has betrayed me for the last time. I want him to have a relationship with you and Brooke but that man isn’t to be near Fox. I mean it. I’m done playing the political game with your dad the king and his shady prime minister, and your horrible uncle and aunt and cousin. I’m not doing it to him. I’m putting that pressure on him and you’re the regent so tell him to make you king. Tell him that Fox is no longer his concern, I’m not trying to be a bitch. I’m being a mother and the destruction of my son will not happen. He won’t be corrupted by the throne so tell your father this.” She placed coffee down. “Hunter didn’t shoot Dimitri, I did. I killed him with no mercy and no regrets.”

Brooke sipped her coffee and spewed out when Bliss said she killed Dimitri. Her eyes grew big as she saw Atticus’ shocked face. Placing the coffee cup down she stood up and walked to Bliss and hugged her. “I’m so sorry you’re facing this alone. But you aren’t Anderson’s coming home to fight this, and my mother is completely on your side. We as the Kincaid’s won’t allow you or Hunter to go down for this.” She saw the wheels in Atticus head turning he was digesting Dimitri was murdered by his ex-wife. “What happened that night, Bliss? Can you tell us? I don’t think Fox understands that. He does understand that his father is missing and maybe somehow we can help you. I want to make Ilsa De Cruces into a place where Fox and you feel welcomed. After all Dimitri did to you and those other women. I can’t sit back Atticus and say I’m alright with what your father has done. He broke them and Jon didn’t help. They already were broken because of Dimitri and we have to face that the crown and the titles mean nothing when we don’t have family. I refuse to run a kingdom built on lies so maybe we can help if the crown comes out against what AFPD is doing.” She looked at Atticus unsure on how he felt about striking out against his father.

She nodded listening to Brooke’s childish dreams. Hugo would always have strings on Atticus even if he didn’t know it. “He kidnapped me, Selina, and Tamara. That part is true he was going to kidnap me and Fox. He had this grand fantasy that if we went back to his home, the castle everything would be okay. He was going to kill Tamara and Selina and go back to Ilsa De Cruces as if nothing ever happened. We fought back and when he lost control over the gun he said some ugly things to me. It just happened. I picked up the gun, he spoke, he charged at me and unloaded a clip into him. Well everyone was scared and we thought it was best to bury him. To leave him in the lake and let him go away. Never to be seen again until some old man with Alzheimer’s went fishing and uncovered him. That’s the story. That’s what happened and people helped cover it up but they aren’t the problem. The problem lies with your father and my husband is now refusing to see me or my baby or my son. Fox needs Hunter he’s had quite the life and he loves Hunter as his father. You can’t make him Atticus, you can’t make me make him go through all of what you and Dimitri went through. It destroyed him, I assume Dimitri wasn’t always a monster but having it all made him that way. I won’t do it. I won’t allow him to be a part of that. You are his uncle and you are the only one I will allow near my child.”

Atticus looked at Bliss; he understood her rage and he was trying to reconcile her shooting his brother. He didn’t quite understand her hatred for the crown Fox was Crown Prince her opponent on that didn’t change that. He would step aside one day and let his nephew take the crown when he came of age. He knew he had to be careful with her because of her delicate state of course but she was Queen she wasn’t even a regent that was soon to be Brooke’s title. “And you think here in America is where Fox is best suited to be raised. Away from his homeland and the country that loves him? With America to poison him against his people? My father is hurting Bliss. He lost a son and I lost a brother. Everyone knows that Dimitri was a monster. Even I can admit that it doesn’t diminish the grief my family feels. What I won’t do is have you insulting Fox’s heritage or lineage. He is the crown prince of a nation. Your opinion doesn’t change the facts.” Atticus said looking at her and then at Brooke he knew that Hunter loved Fox as his own. There would come a time when Fox was old enough to discover the truth thr longer Bliss kept it from him the worse it would be for her.

He simply took a sip of his coffee. He didn’t come here to fight with her. She wanted to push things with the crown he could push back if needed. “Eventually he will ask questions Bliss about where Dimitri has went. He will ask why he isn’t allowed to see his grandmother and grandfather and you will have to answer for that. What will you tell him Bliss? I want nothing but the best for Fox lying to him to preserve yourself is not for the best.” Atticus said looking at her and then over at Brooke perhaps he could help them all. He was still king regent and could call shots if needed, perhaps a simple call to the district attorney to override his father and Prime Minister was in order. “I don’t want Hunter any more on jail than you do he is Brooke’s brother and I understand why he did what he did. I am sure he is excited to be a father for the first time and Fox will have a half sibling. Meet me and crown halfway Bliss for your son for his legacy surely you and I can work something out so he can be who he is meant to be?” Atticus finished watching her sit down with Brooke on the other side; it was all such a mess.

“We also should take in account what Fox wants.” She said looking at Brooke and Atticus. “If this is what he wants then we will go down that path. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in saying that. Your father let me be abused but he wants me to place my faith in him to bring up my son one day? To help him become a man, no offense Atticus he’s one for one. You are a good man but Dimitri wasn’t. I just don’t see myself placing Fox in his care to entail what’s best for him.” She ran her hands through her hair. “I’ve done everything to try and keep his lineage intact but how can I when Hugo’s moves have gotten Hunter in jail? How can I keep forgiving the crown and meeting you halfway means that I will share my son with your father eventually. I don’t know if I am ready for that.” She stood looking out of the window. “My pregnancy will be difficult without Hunter and my life has been difficult enough dealing with the Kavanaugh’s. Am I supposed to forget that? Am I supposed to just accept that Fox has this forsaken life?” Bliss questioned as she touched her cross on her neck.

“And when those days happen Atticus and he questions why Dimitri isn’t teaching him how to be king what will you tell him? In a few years Dimitri reign of terror will be a bad memory. Your father is already starting and I know he won’t explain everything. I will have to contend one day with the fact that I killed Dimitri. I am going to tell my son exactly what type of man his father was and I won’t lie to him but I get a sneaking suspicion your father won’t do that.” She walked to Atticus and sat by him this time. “You’ve always been good to me and I don’t want a disconnection between us but I just need time to figure this all out. I will never keep you from him because I know you love your nephew. Both of you but I can’t shake the suspicion your father did this to get his hands on Fox. No offense,  Hugo has never been a good person.” Bliss said, handing Fox his ball.

Brooke listened to Atticus literally plead his case for his home and Ilsa De Cruces. She was going to be Queen regent for the next few years and she wasn’t going to allow Fox to not inherit his birthright. She understood Bliss reluctance after all why wouldn’t she be after all Dimitri had done. “I can say the same pressure that Hugo put on AFPD we as a couple can do the same thing. I know I might be stepping outside of my place by saying this but I think everybody deserves to know where they come from. Just think of your life if Lowell hadn’t kept you from your siblings for as long. I am not saying this conversation will change your mind but I just want you to think on it. Atticus wants to help his nephew be the best man and eventually when Atticus and I have kids we want Fox to be someone they look up to. I think that’s all Atticus wants to protect him from what transformed his brother into someone he didn’t recognize.” She gripped Atticus hand and saw he was smiling at her support. “I promise you, I look at this boy as Hunter’s son and I will protect him with my life.”

Atticus understood her apprehension when it came to everything when it involved Hugo his father was a king but right now he knew his father knew what Dimiri had done. He was just hurting that he was dead taken from the punishment that would have happened when he returned home. Instead he was killed in a forgeign country to be allegedly killed by his former wife’s new husband during a custody case. “I will not ever condone what he did to you and the press can say whatever they want back home in the streets they wanted Dimitri home to punish him for the victims that he had there too, I know you think little of my father he didn’t do enough I didn’t do enough but he wanted Dimitri’s murder solved when he was killed in America and not at home. He publicly renounced him after he attacked Tamara and made me his heir apparent till Fox came of age, the plan was always the police would take him in and then he would be extradited to Isla Del Cruces to stand trial there after he was prosecuted here.” Atticus said he had no idea if she knew what her testimony and story did back home, the women that had come forward to their local police the evidence some of them had. “I don’t want discord between us either, you know that Bliss.” He finished gently looking at her. He looked at Brooke reassuring her as well. “I have Hutner’s back here and if you don’t want my parents around Fox I can understand that.”

He wanted to be the caring Uncle to his nephew that he was oftentimes denied in his own childhood. It wasn’t like his family was warm and fuzzy; part of what drew him to Brooke was she seemed to have that. He wanted to change that for Fox and their future children; he wanted them to be close with each other and to drop the stiffness behind closed doors. Surely that could happen. “I have a few favors I can call in. I can reach out to Otto to talk about dropping the entire thing, I’m not sure that will work Bliss but the very least I can do is try. I want to be a good king until Fox is able to do that himself. I want to show the crown isn’t just a bunch of cold hearted monsters that the press makes us out to be. I want things to be better for Fox and whatever cousins Brooke and I one day bestow upon him. Perhaps an arrangement can be made that Fox may visit Brooke and I for summers at the castle, Hunter and yourself included of course and any of your other children. Surely you can work at the island. I want to get Hunter out, I will make all the calls I can to plead my case but it may be out of my hands at this rate. I know you don’t trust me or the crown but please have faith I want the best for my nephew.” Atticus said looking into her eyes and wanting her to know he meant it.

Bliss leaned over and grabbed both Atticus and Brooke’s hand. “I assure you both I will think on this and I will make a choice on how we will move forward. I can’t help but not want to think about any of this when Hunter is stuck in a jail cell. I have to get him out and when I do, I think I can finally let go of all of my resentment for my time in Isla De Cruces. I have nothing to give though at this moment.” She said looking at them. “I’ll leave you two with Fox for a while. I love you both.” Bliss grabbed her glass of ice and saw Atticus cuddling with his nephew. He loved him and she hated how this all was happening. Though she knew that a piece of her would never get over the abuse and pain she had in that island.


The sex was spectacular. Belle honestly had no complaints about how their bodies seemed to connect. She was in the bathroom wondering what he was thinking outside of the door. David was in a terrible situation, after all he was daddy’s doctor but he was her lover. How could he keep a beauty like her secret? What stung was the fact that she was still a secret. What was funny in retrospect was that she begged for the chance to be with David. She seduced him and found him at his most vulnerable and took what she wanted. It was quite familiar to her it was the same thing Atticus did to her. She hated how the media painted her but to be with the chief of staff at St. Christopher’s. Well that would clean up her image but he wouldn’t allow it. He loved for her to ride his dick but never to eat dinner in public. It hurt her pride and she was stunning. She had the best of Tess looks and she had that Devonshire sheen. She was flawless in her eyes and David’s too. So instead of waiting she was going to push him. Her entire life Belle had gotten what she wanted and right now she wanted to be the doctor’s girlfriend. A respected new Devonshire and if he couldn’t give that to her she was going to leave. Or at least make him believe that. In her eyes games never stopped as the world never ceased to spin. The world was one big game and she always liked to win.

Walking out of the bathroom she walked to the fireplace which housed the bottle of champagne in a melted ice bucket they were drinking earlier. Pouring herself the final glass she sipped it and tipped toed to grab her keys and shoes. When she turned around she gasped seeing David in front of her. “Jesus David you scared me. I thought you were in bed.” She said downing the last bit of champagne, and placing the flute down on his counter. “Can you zip me up?” Her Alexander McQueen black and red leather ribbon dress was fairly tight. Turning around she moved her hair showing her bare back. “I just know so much is coming up for you. I thought I should sneak out. I mean what are we doing David? You don’t want me, you only want me when my clothes are off. You don’t know me love and I am drowning in this. Getting deeper and deeper.” She could feel him zipping up her dress as she exhaled sensually.Turning around she looked into his eyes touching his face. “David, don’t I deserve to be on your arm the night of the summit. I want the ball to be out as a couple. Why shouldn’t we if my father’s illness tells me anything, it’s life is so short to deny happiness.”

David laid in bed for a few minutes giving Belle her space in the bathroom the sex was not the problem right now with them he was simply looking for someone more mature than she was. It had occurred to him recently one of the nights that she stayed over where they simply drank champagne and she talked about fashion outside the bedroom they had nothing in common. She was still young really young. She needed someone more free and her pace and he needed someone that was ready for what he was in life. To settle down maybe start a family of his own, hell his older brother did with Miranda and they had been fresh out of college at the time yet here he was a successful career with literally nothing to show for it, the accolades didn’t matter all that much to him in the long run. He was a doctor because he liked to help people it was always in his nature but Belle wanted them to be public and she wanted to drape all over his arm. His parents would never approve of her especially with the public stunts she had pulled like the announcement she made at Yasmine’s party and then that bit with Jamal Delacorix and Val Ruiz not to mention he was her father’s primary care doctor, certainly not his specialist but if that go out that he was literally sleeping with a patients daughter it would be disastrous for his career. He didn’t need that again at the hospital after working his ass off to earn that chief of staff position after his affair with Ophelia years ago.

Putting his pants back on and leaving his shirt off for now he then stepped into the adjoining office to check his messages, he watched as she came out of the bathroom to play with the bottle of melted champagne. Even now she was so focused on getting a drink of nearly warm champagne, she did deserve someone to parade on her arm and maybe someone younger would be more he style. “Sorry I didn’t mean to frighten you or course.” He said softly as she turned and he went to her back to zip of the dress trying to not stare at her bare skin and get drawn back into that banging body she had. When she was the one that brought up what they were doing he honestly felt a sense of relief at the question it meant maybe he could be honest with her about what he was feeling and thinking. “I thought we were having fun Belle. I was pretty upfront with you when we started this that I just wanted to be lovers Belle I’m not looking for something serious. At least not looking for someone serious that is a lot younger with me either. You need someone more your speed your idea and mine of a night out is vastly different I don’t want to go clubbing with you. You are into fashion and art, I like medical journals and getting my hands dirty. There has to be some young stud that is more your speed.” David said trying to be as gentle with her as much as he could, she was fun and young.

Belle instantly regretted bringing it up because this wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to be going. He was okay with leaving her which confused and slightly pissed her off. To be honest she wanted David to clean up her image. The internet was a funny thing, one moment they were laughing with her the next she was a hot mess. Jamal had run a smear campaign against her saying she manipulated an already toxic situation. Now here she was fighting to keep the relationship going. Sucking her teeth she looked at him. “Yeah you did say that, well I guess this is it. This should be easy to imagine life without you considering you’ve kept me locked up in a room. I was only sex good how could I be so stupid. I gave up a guy who really liked me for you and I thought that it was going to be something special and it turns out it was a mistake to even touch you.” Belle walked to the couch and picked up her purse. She thought he was a good guy and he honestly hadn’t tried to get to know her. While she had a crash course in David. She listened to him talk about his past and she didn’t mind using it against him at this very moment.

“I really should go and find that guy who is my speed since you obviously needed me for one thing. To fix your heart after Talia ran away with Zerick who doesn’t want her now. Oh the irony isn’t lost on me. I guess you two can reconcile and she can be your girl again. Then when Zerick is bored with whatever trick he’s fucking, he can snatch her away from you. I can deal with you not wanting to be serious, what I can’t deal with is being a secret. I don’t want to waste my youth or life continuing to do this. So if this is what you wanted to say then.” She paused as she looked at him. “You can bloody well suck it. I said it before you and I don’t want to do this anymore. But when you’re always getting shitted on by every woman in this city then maybe you’ll see I wasn’t the problem. Your irrational fear of what everyone else will think when I have enough money to buy that hospital twice over. I live for what I want and if I don’t get what I want then I get really cranky. Right now I don’t want to be alone and feel badly about myself after I have sex. I mean honestly David, Tamara left you for her husband right? Talia ran away and here I am really trying. You don’t care because I’m not old enough. It’s fine, David but I can’t wait to see who hurts you next. Ophelia, Tamara, and Talia have already done a bang up job but you changed the game and left me feeling horrible so thanks. You’ve done what they did to you to me. So welcome to the carnivore family, a wolf eating a wolf. But remember I have big fangs and I don’t like feeling used.” Belle hissed at him with as much viciousness as her tiny body could muster. “Go to hell.”

David folded his arms looking at her in what he could only describe was a temper tantrum and she wondered why he didn’t want to continue things with her, this was the exact reason. He almost wanted to laugh at her and her stammering on about him using her, she was the one that approached him at the wedding to tell him she needed to get some guy out of her head when they had sex. He’d then took her on a fun little trip because she asked but it was just that for him fun and that was something he thought that she understood. He was not this bad guy that she was trying to make him out to be either, he was a gentleman and had been straight up with her from the beginning that he was simply looking for a little fun in the bedroom. That hadn’t changed for him and he wasn’t going to feel bad about it either when she couldn’t handle that he always took care of her after sex. He watched her grab her purse and wondered if he wanted to chase after her or not for now though he was going to stand up to her, something he doubted anyone had ever done. She was spoiled and entitled, probably even worse than most if not all her siblings combined the world didn’t revolve around her.

“You are such a spoiled little child, I was completely upfront with you when we started to sleep together. You were trying to get over what was his name, the prince or the governor’s youngest son? I kissed you while I was dating Talia and lived with that guilt for weeks before I called it off with her at least I feel guilt for my actions, you instead go out and blast some news about a woman who had an abortion for likes on social media. Tamara and Braden reunited and its vile as hell to talk shit about her seeing how your older brother is a recovering addict. I was never with you for the money sweetheart. I’m not that desperate you wanted to bag an older rich doctor in bed I let you.” David said staring at her in what he was sure was burning holes she had a lot of fucking nerve he didn’t care about the Devonshire fortune unlike a lot of other people in the city he wanted nothing to do with it or the feud over who was in control of what in the spotlight it was exhausting. He shook his head she could think whatever the hell she wanted but talking about Tamara was foul she had relapsed and was in a bad place as her friend he should have paid better attention instead of turning a blind eye to it. “I don’t need anyone to fix my heart, Belle I’m not some love stricken teenager over things, shit happens life goes on. If you think I’m going to risk my career for a vapid little girl who can’t handle the fact we were lovers and we were fun you clearly didn’t know who I was to begin with.”

Belle was shocked that normally any man would bow to her. She was two for two because Connor wasn’t having it and now David. She didn’t like that she wasn’t getting what she wanted. Normally she’d stomp her foot and everything would go her way. “I’m sorry if I am such a spoiled child but I wasn’t a child when you were just screwing me. I’m showing you a pattern David, I’m not dissing Tamara or any of those other women. Now you can look at me and think it was all spite what I was saying. I’m saying something that’s very real. You have been hurt by all those women and if you feel guilt about Tamara that has nothing to do with me. I’m a woman offering you a place in her life and my age is the only thing you see and that is frustrating. Yes you were looking for sex but do I mean nothing to you?” For the first time actually wondering if she did have a place in the lexicon of women he’d been with. Did she even matter to him? “I came after you because I thought that you saw me as more than a little spoiled rich girl. You saw I loved art, I’m a fashion girl, and I’m looking for some happiness. I’m looking to belong.” She said honestly and it was the first time she was innocent about anyone. Even though she was a Devonshire she wasn’t sure she belonged with them.

“I bought this dream and maybe it’s my fault but I thought we could honestly be something more than fuck buddies. I thought we both were screwed over and I know I’m not exactly the best human on earth. I know I can be a brat but you aren’t giving me the chance to be something more. You have locked me away in this paradise. Do I love our sex life yes but do I feel like I deserve more yes! I want the big love story that I see on TV! I want to be loved so much that it hurts. I want what Jackson and Dani have where they don’t think they can survive without each other. I need that and if you can’t give it to me then we should stop this. We need to stop this because I deserve someone willing to end the world for me. I want love so big it consumes and swallows me whole. I know you think that I’m a kid but I’m not and I want you please.” Belle said, dropping her pride for the first time. “It hurts inside to give your body to someone who doesn’t care.”

David knew that she was very much so a young woman she was well over age but maturity wise she just wasn’t what he was looking for. He wanted and needed someone more seasoned in his life, who had real life experiences and wasn’t so selfish was a good word for Belle Devonshire. It had nothing to do with spite he said it because he meant it, he could hardly see them working long term and he wanted to be honest about it. “We had fun Belle, I’m not spiteful towards you. You’re young and beautiful but I wasn’t looking for anything long term, especially anything long term with you given that I am still your dad’s doctor. I just thought you understood that, you deserve a guy that will give you what you want and that isn’t me.” David said looking at her wanting to be gentle with her the last thing he wanted was some drama at the hospital out of it, looking back he wondered if getting into bed with her was the best idea. He was still in charge of most of Lowell’s care, he was chief of staff and Belle was technically his employee it looked bad like he had abused his power in a ton of ways if she wanted her revenge she could try and ruin his career. “You like art I think that is about where our interests were Belle. I could care less about what fashion you are wearing, or about social media or any of the other things that drive you.” He walked to her helping her pick up her purse.

“You’re so young I don’t even think you really know what you want or are looking for deep down, prince one minute, Governor’s son the next, handsome doctor next. You want to be a art therapist at the hospital but you always seem to want to just be there to be there, and now lately you’ve been talking about going to work at DGI. Those two things don’t co-exist.” David said looking at her and he saw naivety with love and life in that moment, her big love story was coming it just wasn’t with him. He didn’t know a lot about Jackson and Dani’s either but he saw it between them at the wedding, that spark that passion he frankly didn’t feel that way about Belle and she did deserve someone to be that down the line. “Not everyone gets a happy ending Belle and not everyone falls that deep in love with someone that fast. Your brother and Dani they found that with each, they got lucky but it took them heartbreaks, overcoming things, hard things to get there. You’ll find that one day with a guy lucky enough for you to have that spark with. Let me walk you out okay?” David finished looking at her not wanting to hurt her but he was pretty sure he already had by the way she stared at him.

Belle knew for a fact that he wasn’t the one but it didn’t sting any less. Her eyes began to mist but she refused to cry in front of David. She knew where she went wrong. Belle placed expectations on something that wasn’t real. Some flings were good but this one hurt badly and it stung to even think she was losing him. Connor flashed into her mind and then an unusual person actually triggered. He was older and a piece of her knew that they weren’t a match but it didn’t hurt any less. Belle exhaled and breathed instead of stomping her feet or throwing a tantrum. “You’re right it was no way this could have worked. I’m fine I don’t need you to walk me out and I think that you should be interviewing another art therapist. I don’t think it’s smart for me to continue working around you. I’m mature enough to know that wouldn’t be a good idea. So I quit.” Belle said flippantly, no longer wanting to be around him. “The door is right there, you don’t need to walk me out.”

She placed her heels on and grabbed her clutch quickly making a beeline for the door. She felt embarrassed here she was thinking she could get anyone and this man basically told her she wasn’t good enough. As she opened the door, turning around to see David on her heels right behind her. He looked sorry that he was hurting her but he also had relief. She was viewed as an inconvenience or a problem. Touching his face she tried to smile but it was hard reaching her hand on his face. “Goodbye Doctor Rhodes.” She leaned in and kissed him sweetly. “All relationships aren’t forever or known but this meant something to me. I’ll send someone to get my things at the hospital.” Belle walked down the hallway and her eyes began to burn with tears as she bit her bottom lip. All she wanted was to belong somewhere and someone to love her. Hot tears soaked her face as she pressed the elevator button. She covered her mouth as she silently cried to herself. Stepping on the elevator she saw a elderly couple looking concerned at her crying. Rolling her eyes she wiped her tears as the elevator doors closed on a chapter of her life.

Tess rounded the corner as she saw her baby girl kissing none other than the chief of staff David Rhodes. Not only was it shocking it was just what she needed. Something to show Lowell that he shouldn’t be trusting his kids anymore. She also would swoop in and save the day. Plus how dare he try to betray her? Giving the kids everything was a mistake and giving Jackie the mansion that should be hers. She was the new Ms. Devonshire and who did he think he was fooling. She should have seen what was there all this time. It all went back to Jackie and if he thought she would get everything. That wasn’t going to happen and Belle just afforded her the perfect opportunity to wreak havoc on everything. Lowell was her muse in life at one point but if he wanted to play a game she’d win. She vowed that and if he thought she had any faith in him that was a mistake. He had hurt Tess Blisston for the last time. She wasn’t going to annihilate Jackie and those brats. She promised herself that Lowell had pulled the wool over her eyes for the last time. Her girls were going to reap the rewards and Belle would be the target of some vitriol but when she was CEO or COO well who would care. Pressing the elevator button she looked down through the glass to the lobby seeing her daughter storming out of the building. Stepping on the elevator she texted Pierre.

I just came to see you. But you must be in Paris but I have a plan. I need your assistance, I need to be a safe distance from what I’m planning. Pierre I have a way to get DGI and I assure you that I’ll give you something you always wanted. Just call me when you can. I know it’s 6pm in Paris but just call me soon.

Tess walked on the elevator and smiled as the doors closed she felt a new chapter beginning. The reign of Tess Devonshire had finally begun.


Brenda was wearing a sleek Chanel pantsuit as she moved through his city hall. It brought back so many memories about her time as first woman. If Walter would just try she could be back on her perch battling Jackie for supremacy but no he was concerned with Dani and Braden’s feelings. Dani would never get over the mental abuse he put her through because she wasn’t Victoria and she was the child that trapped him. So he might as well just move on to his life with her. She had been talking to Walter consistently since David diagnosed her with liver failure. He didn’t know but she was going to use it if it was going to get her child off. Walking into the bathroom she opened her purse and pulled out her golden flask. David said he’d test her he wouldn’t know because she was going to buy off the lab tech. She wasn’t drinking a fifth of liquor a day anymore. She had stopped cold turkey up until Hunter turned himself in. Not her boy, they had their differences but Hunter wasn’t a murder and he’d gotten wrapped up with another Devonshire woman. Those bitches seemed to love to drag her boy in the gutter. Last year he was in that mess with Philip and now he was in jail. What a tragic trajectory and she took another gulp of her liquor and screwed the top on. As she walked into Walter’s office and smiled at him sitting down across from the mayor.

“Walter.” She mumbled as he held up his finger. He was talking about Hunter and her heart skipped a beat. Please she prayed to herself as she gripped her purse as he hung up the phone. “Well did you pull every string Walter? Was that them saying my boy will be getting out? Someone attacked Hunter! I heard about it and I’m not amused that he’s being abused in that filth infested place. Now I need you Walter, I know you hate me because Kendall is dead. I know I ruined our love but if you care about me at all you’ll help me. Walter, Hunter has been devoted to not just you but City Hall and your transformation of the projects. He’s stood by your side and he’s your right hand, damn it please don’t let him fall on Bliss’s sword. We both know those women buried Dimitri and I don’t blame them but Hunter shouldn’t be punished for it.” Brenda commanded as she looked at her love. “I still love you Walter, please don’t let me down. I know I’ve ruined any chance for us but I have so much to tell you.”

Walter had been stuck in a rock and a hard place for the last week of course he wanted to help Hunter. The problem was that Hunter had a confession on file with the police and the murder weapon. He had called in almost every favor he knew no one was budging on this one, Dimitri was a dark stain on this town one people wanted to put behind them. He felt for Hunter of course, he did he was Brenda’s son but protecting Tamara was his priority he didn’t owe Hunter a damned thing. He touched it frankly it looked bad Bliss was a Devonshire his daughter worked there was married to Bliss’s brother. Hunter was a part of City Hall as an economic planner he was an invaluable asset when it came to everything that the city needed. He didn’t want to sell Hunter out the only person he had yet to call was Charles mainly because he doubted that Charles would do jack shit for Brenda Kincaid’s son. Charles had always despised her and warned him that cheating on Lauren was awful, much like his children he doubted that Charles would ever accept Brenda. He knew Brenda was sick but that was her business to tell people and of course he wanted her to get her transplant and live longer he looked at her when she came in, nodding his head into the phone another dead end. His hands were tied and he looked at her knowing that she wouldn’t like his answer.

“I’ve made calls Brenda there is only so much I can do as mayor. I push to hard it looks bias towards Hunter, he is married to Bliss. Bliss is part of the Devonshire’s, Dani is her sister in law. They have a confession out of him and gun with his fingerprints on it, if maybe he had been silent when they found the gun maybe that didn’t happen. I’ve called every judge I can think of that owes me a favor I’ve also spoken to the new district attorney. It is out of my hands.” Walter said looking at her not mentioning Charles she wouldn’t’ like that answer no he hadn’t called. He was pretty sure Charles would laugh at the thought of helping Brenda out when it came to Hunter. He knew that Brenda wanted to help and wanted him to help. “It looks bad Brenda I can’t risk that especially with the Summit coming up. Plus if I were to want to run for reelection, getting the former mayor’s son off looks poorly on my campaign. The most I can do is see if Braden old work Hunters’ case with Mason. Hunter wanted to protect his wife and children surely you can understand that given what he knows about Steven and what Bliss went through?” Walter finished looking at her and he thought about Kendall from time to time but like Victoria she was dead he didn’t dwell on it. “Kendall is dead Brenda I refuse to dwell or live in the past with her. I focus on the daughter and son I still have. You should do the same.”

Brenda’s lips curled in a silent rage as she narrowed her eyes at him. He had no urgency in her son being locked away. As she crossed her legs she gritted her teeth. Kendall no longer was a weapon she could use and shoot him with to get what she wanted. Fine she had other means and if life was an orchestra she was the conductor. One time she let a man convince her that he knew best for her life. If she would have done what she thought she should have well Lauren and he wouldn’t have made it as long. Placing her purse down on the floor she had one last bullet to use and she wasn’t above using it. “I’m tired of losing people. I’ve been tired and I want to fight it all. I’m not leaving this office until you guarantee me that Hunter will get off. I don’t care how and I don’t care how much finagling you have to do but you will make it happen because you would for Lauren.” She seethed as she looked at him. “I’ve been dealing with a lot and it isn’t the same without you Walter and romantic lovers or not. I’m pleading with you to help me.” Knowing she had to play this just right. “I can’t die knowing Hunter is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit and I don’t want to put any of those women in danger, well maybe Jackie.” She said snickering and saw him looking concerned.

“Oh don’t look like that! Wipe that expression off your face, you haven’t cared in a long time. From the moment Kendall resurfaced you haven’t cared. So Lowell isn’t the only one dealing with a life threatening illness. Well looks like my love of the bottle has gotten me. I’m in liver failure and I won’t live much longer without a new one. With that being said you must save my son because we know one thing. He’s better than you and me put together. He’s a better person and man than you and I. He doesn’t deserve this and I don’t know how much more that girl Bliss is supposed to tolerate. If you care you will make this all vanish for them all or else I assure you no peace will come to any of them.” She said in a threatening tone. “You know how far I’ll go and what I can do. If I die with my son’s freedom I will go through every storm and will go to every length to ensure that. But I’m asking if you ever loved me, if you ever held what I meant to you dear well you’ll free Hunter somehow. I don’t know how but Walter, you have to help.”

Walter listened to her talk about everything she was feeling with Hunter being in jail and he felt for her. He almost scoffed he didn’t even bail his niece out of prison what in the world made her think he would do this for her? Lauren was simply put his ex wife and the mother of his children he wasn’t even sure that he would do it for Dani. Braden had been taken care of when it came to his last scandal thanks to Charles and he looked at Brenda. “My own niece is in prison for money laundering and I didn’t lift a finger to help her and yet you think I should help Hunter? She is doing her time, Hunter will do his and who knows Mason is a capable lawyer perhaps the jury would see leniency in Hunter’s case seeing what Dimitri did to Bliss. She is pregnant as well, that is something that they can use. I think what Hunter did is admirable Brenda.” Walter said placing his pen down on his desk he knew that she was sick and his heart strings tugged at her over it mortality was coming for their age group. First Lowell and now the woman that he spent most of his adulthood loving at the expense of his first wife, his children, his pride, the Pub. He would always care about Brenda but after that photo of Steven he had to step back publically from her in order to save his career. “I see your hatred for Jackie is still on full display.” Walter finished moving from his desk to sit by her in the chair across from his desk.

“I knew you weren’t well, have you spoke to David? Surely he has a plan and why have you been keeping all this to yourself? I know I pulled back after Dani’s wedding too much was at risk with that picture. I won’t say that my children weren’t thrilled with the news, but they knew ahead of time how I feel about you and Lauren. They see you as an interloper, Brenda, someone who wrecked their home, it was my fault too. I would have liked to have helped you through this. Have you told any of them?” Walter was concerned for her, his heart tugging at the thought that Hunter surely didn’t know about her illness if he was her or Lowell he would have wanted his children to know. He would want them around him for his treatment and final moments surely Hunter deserved that as well? Looking at her he took her hand in his, her health needed to be a priority. “What has the doctor said, surely there are treatments like a transplant they can do. I would like to think you don’t mean you would be threatening Tamara. I’m sure Bliss wouldn’t approve of that or Hunter himself.”  Walter said looking good at her darkly Tamara was his son’s wife and the mother of his grandchildren he refused to sell her out after what she had been through.

Brenda grabbed a tissue on Walter’s desk as she shook her head. Wiping the corners of her eyes she didn’t want to use her illness to get what she wanted. She knew it was the only way to get Walter back underneath her thumb and she would always want this man. For her adulthood she truly loved him and wanted a chance to be with him. Things kept pulling them apart but she loved Walter Fraiser more than he knew. A piece of him consumed her and divided her into a million pieces. She wasn’t whole until she got a chance to be with him and then it was cut short because of her lies and a scandal. She didn’t want to sink slowly and she wasn’t as brave as Lowell. She wouldn’t be facing the great beyond alone, Walt would be right here by her side. “Why would I tell them? I mean Brooke is marrying Atticus and leaving, Andy isn’t here anymore and I don’t want to drag him in town, and Hunter has this great life with Bliss. I can’t tell them right now and I won’t.” She said honestly as she shook. “Hunter and I always have had this tension between us and I never thought for a moment. I never thought that I wouldn’t have a chance to fix it.”

She lowered her head as she looked in his eyes. “I have an appointment coming up in a few days with David. I need your support with my son and this. I let you have your space and it killed me that you haven’t been in my corner. I didn’t have that crazy picture taken nor would I have ever let that be released. I can’t let Hunter go down because if I do you know it’s over or the Kincaid line. He’s going to be something and we both know he didn’t do it. Now I don’t want to threaten Bliss or Tamara because those women have been through something. I do know that Dimitri wasn’t my father’s issue and if we don’t figure out something my boy will go down for something he had no part in. As for Jackie she’s up to her neck in this mess and she hasn’t reached out to help me. Knowing that she is a part of this and I thought we were past our little beef. I see old habits die hard and that woman can choke. What do you want Walter? Do you want me on my knees losing the last of my dignity. Well I’ll do it. I will crawl back to the top of life but right now I’m at my lowest and I’m begging for your help. I don’t know how but please don’t leave me without my son at this time in my life. He’s all that I have left Hunter, Bliss, and Fox.”

Walter looked at Brenda and his heart broke even a little more how could he not help her? He was so torn over what to do when it came to Brenda in his life political suicide was it worth it he had worked so hard to be mayor all his time and effort for years to get Steven out. To prove to his father he was more than just a bar owner to show Lowell that he didn’t get the best of him all those years ago. He had made it he was mayor of Atlas Falls, his family was thriving his daughter was at DGI soon likely to take back their place that was denied from them by Lowell years before. Braden was at a stand still in his career one his son was being stubborn about anyone helping him with and that included him, Charles and his sister. He had four grandchildren that were happy and healthy but was it all what he really wanted? He was mayor but then what, did he plan on doing this for years on years like Steven did, especially now that Lowell was dying? There was no one to upstage now and he had pushed Brenda away, had he done so in haste or too soon? He was still baffled by why she wouldn’t tell her children, if he was sick he would tell his to prepare them, so he could spend time with them.

“I think Hunter seeing that picture changed who he was as a man Brenda I’m not saying that Steven was perfect we both know that he wasn’t, but it even took me years to accept the man he eventually did become. That had to have been how Hunter and the rest of your children felt when they saw the picture and that doesn’t make them awful or ungrateful to you, they would still want to know that you are ill.” Walter said looking at her wondering if he really could support her again welcome her back into his life with everything that had happened with Kendall. He was still angry with her about it, that she had just given their daughter away that she took it upon herself to decide what was best for their daughter without a thought about how it would affect him. How he actually would have wanted his daughter with Brenda, then he wouldn’t have stayed with Lauren miserable for years on end playing house. He had tried to no think about the what ifs sometimes but lately it was something that he had thought about. “Honestly Brenda I think they would want to know and you should tell them. I can make a few more calls on Hunter’s behalf but I can’t guarantee you anything. But you in turn have to promise me you will tell your kids. Even though things are rocky with mine I would want both Braden and Dani to know if I was sick, you owe it to them.” Walter finished looking at her.

Brenda listened to his words soften and she felt it in her gut. He was hers again and just like that Walter was under her spell again. She knew that the Kincaid’s had things to repair with not just the African-American community but inside of her own family. He didn’t have to tell her that she should be telling her children but everytime she tried, Brenda became tongue tied. It was like the words meant that she was truly dying. Brenda had no intention of dying and the thought of never having another drink scared her. In her mind why should she give up the only thing that hadn’t turned it’s back on her. Every other week one of her kids, Walter, and most hurtful of all Atlas Falls turned their back on her. Alcohol never left her alone and that was a fact. It always warmed her at night and she had no intention of turning her back on it. “Well you’re telling me to tell my kids to pity love me. I’ve never been that woman and I hate to say it but they detest me. I’ve never been the best mother and I know that and how much are they supposed to tolerate. Brooke can’t stand me, Anderson moved away and didn’t look back and Hunter and I well I’ve ruined that relationship. So tell me why should I tell them? This illness isn’t going to break me, I’m Brenda Kincaid and I’ve always climbed out of every hole and ditch since I was born. My family wasn’t rich and I became one of the most powerful women in this city. I refuse to let death taunt me, or play with me like I won’t fight back. I’m not content on dying. I have so much life left to live and my show isn’t over, baby it’s just starting.” Brenda declared defiantly.

Brenda’s lips quivered as she felt the weight of what she was saying. She wiped her eyes and felt like getting Hunter out of this situation would be the least she could do. If something God forbid did happen Hunter would at least know she could do something good for him. “Thank-you for helping with my boy. I should leave you to fix Atlas Falls, I’m sure you have more to do than just deal with me. I hope for whatever happens I have you in my corner.” She knew nothing at all about love. It was a great mystery in her life because she’d stumbled through relationships so many times. What she did know is what she had done was manipulate Walter into doing more. That was enough for the moment and she couldn’t help but feel guilty. Years of doing that to a man would do that to anyone because here she was again using her wiles to pull him back in. Brenda often wondered if she left Walter alone could he have had a healthy life and relationship with Lauren? She had tainted their love story and a piece of her felt so much guilt for that. “I have to meet with Maggie and the doctor so I should be leaving.” Picking up her purse she stood and looked at him. “You look good in that seat.”

He may have looked good in the seat but at the moment he certainly didn’t feel good, there was too much uncertainty about where he was in his own life. What he wanted, versus what he had over the years there was no feud anymore at the moment. There was only him at City Hall, and his children at various places. Hell rumor was that Lauren was going to open an art studio. He thought about something that Lowell had mentioned to him about the Pub, something he had written off as Lowell just being Lowell. He could make a few calls to survey it and then decide, he simply nodded at Brenda as she made her way to the door outside of it. He moved to follow her it looked like political career suicide and he wasn’t quite ready to give up being mayor just yet. Instead he let Brenda go for now until he figured out a safe way for them to be together again, it may take time but this would pass for them. He thought about the calling he could do and the reaching out and decided against doing it on the land line instead he picked up his cell phone calling Charles receiving his voice mail.

“Charles, would it be possible for us to spare a moment at the Summit? I have a couple of things I would like to ask your advice on and chat about.” Walter finished and he could ask about Hunter then and then ask if he knew a survey developer that he could recommend.


Mason had a week and it was one of the hardest in his career Hunter had the gun, the police had a public confession meaning he was up shit creek without a paddle so bull shitting his way through this case was something he had to figure out. He waited on pins and needles the few days waiting for the forensics on the gun and once it was confirmed he knew it would be hard to get out of. He and Zach had finally decided on a date something they were going to tell Kelsey, Willow, Brock and Greer at drinks and dinner later that night, it was the one good distraction he wanted. His wedding to the man he loved and they both agreed they didn’t care if it was crazy or unheard of or if Greer got upset about it life was too fucking short. Zach knew that with Dante and he knew that since his father died, regardless as he pulled up to the jail and checked in at the office he was prepared to be the lawyer and friend. Lawyer first and friend later, but Hunter was in a lot of shit. Shit he couldn’t just tell the truth on either or it meant Bliss would be behind bars, which he knew that he couldn’t do. Hunter would kill him and there was no way Jackson would let that happen too.

Walking down the halls to the meeting area he wondered if Jamal would have survived it inside a cell it was fucking cold and everything was grey as hell. When he saw Hunter his brow furrowed gone was the clean shaved guy that ran five days a week, his eyes were hanging, he had dark circles under them and he was pretty sure he saw remains of that stupid bruise he had got when he was in a fight with an inmate. He had immediately asked for them to move him to solitary, thanks to Steven’s past a lot of the men in the jail wanted Hunter’s head or worse wanted him dead. He really didn’t know what to say to Hunter when he sat down across from him, cuffs and all as the guard shackled him to the concrete seat and he folded his hands on the table. “For the record you are either insane or just dumb, what in the hell were you thinking Hunter? I told you I would handle it and now, now I’m not even sure how to wing this and I may have to get another attorney on board, obviously not Lex maybe Braden but it’d bad.” Mason said taking a deep breath as he waited for Hunter to say anything, anything at all about the mess he had made.

Hunter got maybe one call a day ever since being put inside the week before he had debated about whether or not he did the right thing, especially once Jackson had called to tell him Bliss collapsed. She had been checked out and everything was okay with the baby but when it came to talking to her he simply had hung up the phone, if he heard her voice he’d break down all his life choices over the last week and regret what he had done. He frankly couldn’t risk that if he caved then Jon would come fucking sniffing around again and everything would fall back on her again so he’d face the consequences for her in some fucked up way he thought that was what he had to do. To atone for everything that his father was back in the day to make his family name just disappear from the face of the earth and to protect Bliss. Protect her from Jon and the police, protect his son and his unborn baby, from them and then the rest of the world that hated his father and his last name. It was nuts that wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities but he did what he did there was no turning back now and then they told him he had a visitor before he had agreed to go he made sure it wasn’t Bliss.

Walking down the hall from solitary he saw the men staring at him from behind bars, he was pretty sure the men that jumped him were part of the gang wars in Scottswood he didn’t blame them. He had a broken rib from the exchange and a nice balck eye that was healing up, it was enough that they moved him to solitary. It was cold while he walked not sure if that was his soul talking or something else, maybe it was the air but he was pretty sure if the state pen was like this he wouldn’t make it last over a month maybe. He leaned on the concrete table looking at Mason he didn’t really know what to say he didn’t want a lawyer he was set he would go down for Dimtiri’s mruder if it meant that Bliss would walk free. “I called you to represent Bliss not me Mason so I don’t know why you are even here. I know what I did and why I did it, hell after all the shit that my dad did this is what I have to do to protect them. Jackson’s already gave me and earful but like I told him what if it was Dani they were going after? Hell what it was Zach they were after tell me you wouldn’t do the same to protect him. It’s what I have to do.” Hunter said looking at his hands as he folded them.

“So let me get this straight you think that spending life behind bars hell maybe even facing the death penalty is what your wife and soulmate would want opposed to I don’t you around for your kids and her the next fifty plus years? I can guarantee you, you will be lucky if the new district attorney doesn’t press for the death penalty, a foreign dignitary who was here on what is listed as official business was killed. Granted you know that is bullshit and so does everyone else.” Mason said looking at him like he had lost his damn fucking mind all over again, like was Hunter even hearing himself. It was like the smart and capable Hunter Kincaid had went off the deep end and thought of this crazy ass plan, just to torture himself from the guilt of his father’s past. That wasn’t who one of his best friends since childhood was certainly he had to know that this was the most whacked out and fucked up plan he had ever heard. “You do realize how god dammed insane that is right? Bliss literally had to be kept overnight at the hospital thanks to your little stunt, she’s at the Devonshire mansion now odd seeing her with Jackie actually. Though it’s not surprising given who her mother actually is. Listen Hunter we’re talking the death penalty here.” Mason said looking at him and Hunter’s broken face, he knew he didn’t want to do this but maybe he felt like he had no choice.

“It doesn’t look good like if you would have kept chill you wouldn’t be here. You’d be home with Bliss, you should have handed the gun to Simon and we could have gotten a plan. Instead we have a confession on our hands one that I’m not sure how to even get that cleared Hunter. Bliss is worried about you, you won’t even talk to her.” Mason said looking at one of his best friends for most of his life, in fact all of it. Regardless of what that picture of Steven showed that wasn’t the Steven he remembered from his childhood the one that they had dinner with growing up the one that was there for him, Jackson and Hunter at prom to give advice too. “She wants to be there for you let her. Besides your stuck with me she already paid my retainer and if she wouldn’t of done it Jackson would have. Maybe I could find a shrink to say that you’ve lost it but even that it doesn’t explain how you had the murder weapon without risking Bliss.” Mason finished his voice low on the last part just in case any of the guards were relaying information back to the district attorney and the police department, he got that Hunter wanted to help but the smart and right thing to do was to let him and Simon handle this shit. “I can see if Simon can do some digging since the original plan is out the window since you clearly didn’t look at your texts before going off the rails at the police station.” Mason finished maybe he could even make a few more calls to friends that his dad knew there had to be someone that was willing to help Hunter.

Hunter looked at Mason and folded his arms at the time the only thing that was on his mind selfishly was helping Bliss freeing her from the crushing feeling that Dimitri was hanging over her for the rest of her life. That was what a good father and a good husband was supposed to do granted he had his father to look up to and now that he was older and knew the truth that he fucked around with Carla and his mother with Walter maybe that wasn’t the best example. For all his parents flaws however the one thing he always knew and could count on was that they loved their children and would be there for them and support them no matter what. He still remembered the first time that he and Jackson had gotten caught with weed in his car back in high school and his father reamed into him about the dangers of drugs to then promptly call in a favor to the police station to protect him and his friend. Now though he was faced with the reality that he would never see Bliss, Fox or their unborn child again if he was lucky hell he knew that the death penalty meant exactly that death. The gravity of it all hit him in that moment how final it all sounded and he looked up at Mason and he could feel tears behind his eyes.

“I had to do it Mason it was the only way to save her. I couldn’t take it seeing her so broken walking out of that interrogation room and we know Jon would have only pushed again and again if they didn’t have someone so it had to be me. I had to fall on the sword I don’t need you, or Jackson to clean this up Mason it had to be done.” Hunter said looking at him wondering how he would deal with this for the rest of his life he supposed he would want Bliss to move on, they could easily get an annulment and of course he would give his trust fund to her, Fox and their unborn child. He bit his lip at Mason seeing Mason looking at him like he was insane and honestly he wondered at this point if he was or wasn’t. He wasn’t even sure what that meant anymore with him and he looked down at his hands, even if it was death he would stand and take it if it meant that she was okay. “Would you just tell her that I love her Mason. As for the retainer just send the money back.”

Mason wanted to reach out and slap him upside the head so fucking hard at the moment what a stubborn son of a bitch, he suposed Hunter got that from Steven but this was literally insane when it came to what he was doing. Fuck Hunter Kincaid he was going to keep the retainer and find the best psychiatrist that he could to make this shit go away even if he had to make it a lie at this point. Hunter was clearly not on his right mind at all, he was out here ready to fall on a sword that wasn’t his to fall on in order to make sure that Bliss walked free while sacrificing his children for it. There had to be something that he could bargain with someone that they all could find to pay off in order to let Hunter off he just had to figure out the right way to do it. It would mean reaching out to Simon to do some digging, and despite what had happened to them recently, he knew they could all work together for Hunter. Hell Jackson too, he had ower at DGI now he would be able to make a few calls if needed too. He watched as the guard motioned for them to wrap it up and he simply nodded at him as he watched as the man picked up Hunter from his seat, leading him back through the metal doors and he let out a shiver in his spine. He picked up his briefcase thinking about the case as he took out his phone sending a text to his boys.

Hunter has damned near lost his mind. We need to figure out how in the hell to get through to him. I think we all know about carrying our father’s sins onto ourselves and that is what he is doing, Wanting to atone for Steven of all people.

Hunter didn’t need to respond more than a simple last look glance at Mason as he the guard came up and hauled hm up from his seat, prodding him in the back as he walked the black line on the floor to head back to the jail. He felt the eyes on him again as he walked through the gray walls of the jail passing by holding cells seeing various inmates shooting him signs a few gang ones and of course another held up his thumb slicing it against his throat, he knew what that meant all to well. If the lethal injection didn’t get him he was sure something or someone in here would and for a moment he almost wondered if he could or should reach out to Brooke, she was friends with Ronan and past lovers. Hell his father was in bed with Ronan from time to time when it was needed in the city maybe going to him for protection would be something that he could do. He stayed silent on the walk listened to the guards instructions while they walked wanting to make sure he was safe with them, once inside of his cell he looked at the blank walls.

He looked at the cell, apart from the fucking gray on the wall there was a metal cot attached to the wall, it was cold and uncomfortable as hell and he was pretty sure he’d have permanent back damage from it, their was barley a cushion on it that he was pretty sure had bodily stains on it. In the corner was the porcelain off white toilet that was growing shit inside of it no privacy of course when it came to taking a leek. There was a sink of the same color attached to the wall with no mirror just a wall of bricks. He heard the jail cell door shut behind him as he walked to the edge of the bed and sat down on the end. He sat in the silence for a moment until it hit him, he was really in jail Bliss was safe, Fox was safe and his unborn baby would be fine. He felt the tears prickling his eyes and before he knew it his hand covered his mouth and feeling the tears starting to fall down his face. Before he knew it he was full on crying trying to mask the hurt and the pain of what he was doing to himself and his family, trying to live with his decisions. It was anguishing to think about leaving them behind but he had to do it, there was no way out, the tears then turned to anger as he turned slamming his fists into the wall, screaming out in pain. He wasn’t sure how long it happened the crying or the hitting the wall but when he couldn’t take it anymore he sunk down back to the edge of the bed hands bleeding at the knuckles as he looked at his hands cursing Dimitri Kavanagh with everything inside of him.


Jon walked up to KC and Miranda’s home and his nerves began to ache. He’d took a break for a week off work and left to the VA. He told Skye he needed a break and just left. He hadn’t called Maggie or Skye since he’d come back. He came straight here to the smell of BBQ and Atlas Falls grass. Something he didn’t know smelled so sweet. As he walked to the door he could feel his tension rising. As he felt his stomach clutching as he knocked. He could hear old nineties hip-hop which was KC favorite playing. He missed all of them and God knows he had some apologies to go around. When the door opened he immediately saw KC’s guard go up. That made him wince his friends were alarmed by his presence that wasn’t a good feeling at all. As he raised up his hands to show he wasn’t here for drama. “KC I just need to speak to my sister.”

KC was grilling with his wife he had a few steaks on the grill, chicken, and hot dogs for Quinn extra burnt. He folded his arms as he looked at Jon who looked clear eyed. He also could tell he wasn’t here to battle. He didn’t have that look in his eyes instead he had that puppy dog look that nobody could resist. Jon was always like a wounded dog, always hurt and this time he lashed out. He just wasn’t sure that everyone would be forgiving. “If you disrespect her Jon I swear to God, I’m going to kick your ass up and down this street. You think what Zach did was shocking I’m going brutalize you. She’s been worried sick about you since your dad dropped you off last week. Why didn’t you answer her calls or text her or something Jon damn it. Miranda deserves more than this and you know. You know Miranda doesn’t deserve to be iced out.” KC growled at Jon.

“I was ashamed KC.” Jon shrugged his shoulders as he looked at his friend. “I was so ashamed of what I had done. I yelled at her, I pushed her away, I said ugly things about your marriage, and I acted like being out of Quinn and Dylan’s life was alright with me. It wasn’t. I don’t know if I can ever repair all the damage that I did. I will spend my life trying KC but I need my sister now. I can’t explain it to you because I just don’t owe it you. I’m sorry man I was a dick to you but I did forgive you for faking your death I think we’re even now.” Jon said lowering his head hating this so much.

KC nodded, understanding that Jon was about to try and repair the damage. Hell Devin didn’t even like being around him, so he was going to have do something. Something to make everyone remember why they cared and loved him because all he saw was a monster the last few months. Honestly if it was him he would have turned in his badge before he ever went after those women. The pain that Jon was in clouded his professional judgment and dragging those women in nearly sent all of his team of detectives to the brink. He watched and thank God he was in special forces and didn’t have to be under Jon anymore. “Come on we’ll go in the back and I’ll swap with Miranda. She’s playing with Quinn, they’re doing some water color pool art stuff don’t ask me?” KC walked to the backyard and saw Quinn and Miranda dancing. “Hey look who the cat dragged in.”

“Quinn.” Jon waved at her. “Miranda, can I speak with you alone?” Jon asked and he instantly could tell his sister was in a lot of pain just seeing him. He lowered his head. “If you can’t I understand but I would really like to speak with you and I kind of need my sister and I know that’s hypocritical after all I’ve done. But I’m just asking for you to listen okay?” Sticking his hands in his pocket he waited to see if Miranda came or what she said. He would move at her pace after all he ruined things between them. “Please.”

Miranda had a week if that was what you would call it Jon all but up and disappeared he was at the VA but it still was a shock. He didn’t call her or her parents took the week off from work and she was pretty sure something was going to go down with the new district attorney and Hunter Kincaid and none of it was good or even remotely okay, work was a mess no one wanted to solve this murder. She was grateful for the weekend in order to come and spend it with KC and Quinn barbecuing in the back yard. The weather was still just cool enough to do so and Quinn had a three day weekend from school. So they had time KC had even mentioned going up to the cabin for the weekend early in the morning but instead they decided on staying home. She let KC get the door trying to figure out what Quinn was doing with the pool in the backyard something about Koolaid and she was looking at the now black water disgusted that rainbow didn’t happen like it should, she tensed when she saw Jon. Quinn had waved at her uncle oblivious to what was happening with the tension with them and she simply stepped inside. She had been shocked when Zach had planted him but she got it because Dani was his cousin. She was still her friend too but even lately she felt like Dani was changing despite protests changing into a Devonshire.

“Okay, I’ll be back make sure she doesn’t get in that water I’m not sure Koolaid comes out.” Miranda said looking at KC and opening the door to the porch to go inside the kitchen looking at her brother. She knew KC had her back no matter what but she was exhausted with it all with Jon, she wanted her real brother back not the shell before her. She went to the fridge and pulled out some beer, barely glancing at the label. It was Fraiser beer, the nice late summer one that smelled of orange, hops and that hint of pineapple and she opened the top, taking a drink before looking at Jon. “Mom was really worried about you but I told her that if you had to go back in there it was for the best. I would offer you one, I think KC has like Coors in here or something like that if it still bothers you so much. Listen if you are here to fight I’m fresh out with you between what happened last week and Zach hitting you. I want things to be right with us again but I’m not sure how to get there. I know I fucked up okay everyone knows that they fucked up.” Miranda said, looking at him wanting her brother back.

Jon listened to her and bit his lip. “I want my sister back.” He said as he took the Fraiser beer from her. “They have the best brewery in town. I thought I was going insane last week. I didn’t know who was staring at me in the mirror. I felt like everything was heavy and the pressure became almost too much to deal with honestly. It did feel like a few years ago and I just didn’t want it to take over my life. Depression is a dark thing and I’ve dealt with it my entire adult life. I really had some bad thoughts Miranda, I almost took my gun and I just.” Jon paused looking at Miranda as his eyes became clouded with tears. “I got my medicine back for a little while and I’m taking another week off. I need some air from that case and I need some distance from a lot. I haven’t even gone back to the house with Skye. She’s a trigger also. I also know I’ve been awful to her and everyone in my life. I just felt so betrayed by everyone Miranda. I can’t explain it but my anger took over. I was so mad at myself and everyone that I didn’t want to be myself anymore.” He looked at her and opened the beer taking a swig.

“I mean Jackson came home and used drugs and got my dream girl kidnapped and still won. I thought why not let loose? I mean all of them have been manipulative and hurt and I thought if you can’t beat them join em.” Jon said, looking at her. “I knew I was crossing lines but I was so mad and I refused to sit back and lose again. I don’t know where to go but I’m so alone.” He said placing the beer down and placed his hands into his face and began to weep openly. Crouching into a ball Jon just fell to the floor crying. He hadn’t cried the entire time he was away in fact, he went to the VA to try to stop himself from hurting himself. “I don’t deserve Miles, I want to die again Miranda. I feel like I’m no good to anyone and I feel the darkness absorbing me and I don’t know how to stop it.” He knew he didn’t deserve her mercy but he didn’t know who to turn to. “I have made my life such a mess and I don’t want to be in my own skin anymore. I feel like I’m not good enough to be a cop, a man, a father, I just don’t know what to do anymore Miranda.”

Miranda looked at her older brother, the strong man that she had always looked up to as a rock for her and their family, sure they had Robbie and Noah but Jon was the literal glue that held them all together. Jon was the one that took care of everybody but himself when things got tough, it was why so many people loved him so much. She almost dropped the beer in her hand when he mentioned that he almost took the gun out and ended it, Jon had struggled with depression for that first year back from the war. She wanted to blame Skye for Jon jumping into abusing his meds last time but she knew it took two to tango and honestly yes it was hard to accept what she had done, it was wrong. But she also wasn’t in her shoes alone and pregnant not knowing where her life was going to go or with who, and her family had treated her badly was an understatement they were fucking awful to her. She bit her lip when he started about Dani that was totally on her and she had misread so many signals looking back, Dani was a mess too after Lex. What friend didn’t want their best friend to pick their amazing big brother to fall in love with was such a fantasy she had. Walking to the other side of the counter she wrapped Jon up in her arms letting him cry it out.

“I should have never set you up on that date with Dani. I knew you liked her and I just assumed that was entirely my fault.” Miranda managed to get out, maybe if she hadn’t things would be different for everyone. Granted Dani probably should have declined as well, but at the time she had no clue her best friend was out fucking and falling in love with a man her brother despised. There was no way to change that and it was still on Dani when she found out about Miles just as much as it was her and everyone else too. Looking back she was so ashamed of how she had been to Skye back then and even now, so ashamed that she kept what she knew from Jon because Cassie had convinced her it was the best for everyone involved. When all Skye had to do was tell the fucking truth and none of this would happen or one of them to speak up. “Jon I had no idea that you were dealing with that again, Jesus if I had known, KC, Devin hell Braden we would have never and I mean never. I was mad at Skye for what she did back then and Cassie just convinced me if we just forgot about it everyone would go on. It was fucking stupid I should have came to you when she told me. I fucked up and I am so sorry you have no idea how sorry I am.” Miranda said looking at him horrified for him and herself when did they become this as a family where they were so broken they just stopped being family.

Jon just cried in his sister’s arms unsure of what else he could do. For a few moments he felt so weak breaking down in front of Miranda. He felt so lost at this very moment and when she admitted she did things wrong he felt a relief. Did he understand that he should have never placed those expectations on Dani? Nor should he have held all the stress inside of him for all these years. He lost Dani, his best friend Braden, his son, and everyone close to him. As he exhaled he saw KC shielding Quinn from what was happening. That kid was intuitive and knew he was in pain and something was going on. Dylan and Quinn were two things he missed desperately. “I threw away all my relationships and I don’t know how to get it back. I knew from that date Dani didn’t want me. I held on because I wanted it so badly and I should have let it go. I can’t sit here and act like I’m not haunted. I’m fucked up right now Miranda and I just want to say none of this is your fault. I do appreciate you apologizing but I have ruined my own life. I’ve pushed away everyone who matters and that is a problem.”

Jon looked at her and grabbed her hands and wondered if Miranda understood that he was asking for another chance. “I don’t know if you want me but I’d love to be your brother again. I’d love for you to let me around Quinn and I’d love to be your big brother. If you ask me you don’t have to but if you have room in your heart please let me back in. I know I messed up but Miranda I am so hurt right now. I know you don’t have to but please I have so much to make up for. I left Skye all alone pregnant her entire pregnancy and I screwed up and I have to face that my actions also led to why she gave up Miles. I can’t believe my breakdown is the reason I don’t have my son right now. I would have had him if I wasn’t scared of what you and mom and dad would have said. I loved her and I ruined it. I loved Dani and I ruined it. I keep ruining everything I love. I’m afraid I’ve ruined my chances of knowing Miles too.”

Miranda really didn’t know what else to say to him other than to just hold him and let him know that she was there for him with everything. They didn’t stop being family just because he had lost his way that wasn’t how daily worked for her or them, that wasn’t how either of them was raised. She was always going to be his sister and would always support him no matter what, it was just this time maybe he just needed to find his way back to them as a family. “Jon what matters right now is that you saw that you needed help and went and got it. You didn’t end up like it was before  you didn’t go out and abuse pills and party so hard that you ended up rolled over unconscious.” Miranda said she knew that he felt bad about everything but that was something that his doctors at the VA would talk to him about, his therapist could talk to him about and reassure him that this time was different than the last, he saw he was spiraling and sought help. She may not have liked him while he was spinning but he reached out and took those steps on his own this time and that was something that he should feel good about.

She watched as KC and Quinn were still outside the door wondering when they could come in. She wanted Jon to get help and he was and she wanted the brother she knew back. She had no idea how he was going to fix things with everyone but the most he could was try and see what happened. “You’re always going to be my brother Jon even when it’s messy. That is what family is for. As for everything else Jon, you know that the only way to find out if you can fix it or make it right is to try, even with Skye, Braden and hell, even Dani. The most you can do is ask them what you asked me, the rest is on them.” Miranda said looking at him and she thought about Miles and she wondered what she could say about it, he had fought so hard to be with Miles and have him in his life but this setback she had a sinking feeling that the Hessingtons would find out about it, there was no way they wouldn’t. “Maybe you need to just approach Whitney and Ryan without the lawyers and the attorneys around, hell even Skye around. You did sleep with Whitney Jon clearly, don’t think she is a terrible person or parent. I’m not saying give up on him or anything like that but you’re one of the best problem solvers I know.” Miranda said gently, wanting him to know that she would support him no matter what he decided.

Jon listened to his sister and nodded looking at her as he wiped his face. Instantly feeling embarrassed that he just exploded like this. He was a mess and he saw it. He didn’t need to be imposing on her life. She could say it was alright but he couldn’t forgive himself for what he said and took her through. Not just her but everyone he didn’t know he was beginning to mentally spiral and he wasn’t sure how to say exactly how he felt. Jon knew he still was floating but confronting all the mess he had done. He leaned in and hugged her and saw KC and Quinn just enjoying each other. “I’m glad he was here for you through all this and I just need some air Miranda. All that I’ve ever wanted was to have a family of my own and once again I face a new loss. Sometimes I feel like God spits in my face purposely and I just don’t want to get out of bed. I saw how you looked when I brought up Miles. You know what I know right? That the Hessington’s are going to use my illness against me. They are going to use my depression as a weapon and I can’t even keep fighting for him like this. I can’t keep going like this and honestly Miranda maybe I don’t deserve him. Maybe it’s my fate to always be proverbially unhappy. To always have what I want at within my grasp and never can quite get it.” He couldn’t do this anymore; he needed some air away from this. Jon stood from the floor and nodded at his sister.

“Miranda, I appreciate you listening to me. I really need some air right now.” He said knowing that he should leave to see Skye at least. Not only that he didn’t feel comfortable staying right now. He knew it was coming. Miranda was going to invite him to stay and he just couldn’t. He just really couldn’t be around kids right now his heart ached at all the things he’d miss. “Honestly I’m thinking I might leave Miles alone. He isn’t mine and as badly as that hurts me Miranda. I can’t upend that boy’s life. Who am I to do that to him? He loves Whitney and Ryan and they are for all purposes his parents and I’m a stranger to my own son. All I can do now is wait until he comes to me and asks what happened.” Jon felt a chill run down his spine. “Plus I need to rest in my bed, you know? Getting back and all. I guess I’m not giving up, I’m giving in to the inevitable, I mean did I have any chance? I never do.”


Jackson’s heart was hurting for Bliss and to be honest as the leader of the family he had to do better. He felt Hunter didn’t deserve this and he knew Mason was doing all he could to get their childhood friend and his brother-in-law off. This was an open and shut case and Hunter had painted himself as the killer. It would take some time but at this moment he didn’t have that. When his mind was cloudy, exercise always worked and running to the mansion and back. He began to stretch his body as he jumped up and down a few times. Then he began to run down the hill and began to feel an immediate runners high. It was the only high he was looking for. Jackson felt so much stress and he had the urge the other day. He knew he had to attend a meeting at NA soon. It was brief after Dani missed an important dinner yesterday. He didn’t know where her head was at lately. She seemed more focused on that charity ball than being supportive and his partner at DGI. He knew he had no reason to be jealous but Jackson couldn’t help it. Lex had a piece of Dani he didn’t know and sometimes that glimmer came out. How she acted with Whitney and although he hated Jon, Jackson actually got one thing. If Hunter had kept something that vital or Mason or Simon from him he’d be pissed also. So the Hessington’s were more important to Dani than even she realized. She protected Whitney even if she didn’t intend for it all to end up like this. He understood she didn’t want to hurt Jon but he understood his hurt.

As Jackson went around the corner his mind shifted back to Hunter and he wasn’t going to let him fall. Not now, not ever. He was going to speak with his father when he got back to the house. They had to come up with a plan and it struck Jackson what they could do. He wondered if Lowell would go for it? When he stopped he began to box the air moving swiftly, left and right. When turned around he saw what he thought was his wife in the distance. He smiled widely Dani was working so hard but maybe she understood he missed just having fun with his wife. Going to dinner, laughing at his stupid Netflix shows, his bad dad jokes and her horrible mom ones. He loved Dani and his entire face cracked as the summer heat played a cruel trick on him as he saw Dru running up. She was really good with the twins but she did cross many lines and that wasn’t acceptable. He began to shadow box again and then waited because he had questions. “Why are you exercising who the hell is with the twins?”

Dru had let Jackie into the house but was shocked how she reacted to Lowell playing with the twins. She almost pitied Lowell but the way they looked at each other she knew. That they had true love. Something she didn’t get or understand she was sure she heard them laughing that was heartbreaking and call her sympathetic. Seeing death up close and not blind to how fast time went. How it cruelly turned it’s back on them all. She however knew for certain this was her chance to do exactly what she wanted to. To try and seduce Jackson while Dani wasn’t feeling too well. Dru gave her some tea with a mild sedative and hallucinogens inside of it. When she found out about Lauren’s family history of going a little nuts well the gaslighting had to begin somewhere. She erased another meeting with Jackson tonight and stopped that text earlier in the week. However the bitch was with Jackie getting arrested. So she was still there for her husband but she was going to do some other things soon. Maybe Jackson and Lex could show up at the same place at the same time? He was already insecure when she heard them talking about Lex. He put on a facade but she saw the truth that he intimidated Jackson. Wearing a lime green Ivy Park sports bra and matching leggings. Placing her hands on her hips she looked at him as if she was offended by him. “Was I supposed to interrupt your parents? Considering Jackie and Lowell haven’t had a pleasant moment in months. I think sharing the twins is sweet and they deserved it especially considering he’s dying.”

Dru said, approaching him as she licked her lips. “And Dani just came in and I helped draw her bath. She really is beautiful with that milky skin. It’s almost like mine isn’t it? She has that dark hair like Lauren and that luscious body. I hope I look like that after I give birth but I happen to like the way I look. Do you like how I look?” She asked innocently as if she didn’t see how she was flirting. “Yeah your mom and Dani are going to go over the ball some more. I’m excited I actually get to attend something so high profile. I just hope the dress looks good on me.” She said seeing him instantly tense up when she mentioned the ball. “I actually have a few options for who wants to take me? Do you want to hear?” She purred seeing him get highly annoyed but intrigued. “I can join you right on your run? You don’t mind?”

“No, Dru I don’t mind. I hope you can keep up.” Honestly he’d be blind not to notice the redhead in front of him. She was beautiful honestly and maybe when he was a hot mess he would have slept with Dru. No doubt she was sexual and she loved attention which was something he didn’t like. Right now touching her skin and the way she even moved, he knew what was up. He’d bedded so many women in his days he knew when one was trying to fuck him. Jackson wasn’t that man anymore. Cheating would be easy, honestly he had women throwing themselves at him all the time. The lady at Starbucks, the cashier at TJ’s bakery, an office intern, and so on. He however never felt the need, at this moment in his life Jackson was so satisfied with his life. Unlike his father he didn’t need more, because he had more than enough with Dani. She was the epitome of womanhood, she was a mother and wife. She loved their kids and although it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies right now they’d get over it. They were happy and were having growing pains. It happened, it was still the first year of their marriage.

“So tell me who these lucky gentlemen are?” Jackson said, exhaling as he looked over at Dru who was surprisingly keeping up with him. “You actually run huh?” He nodded at her. “I also want to say I appreciate you befriending Dani. She seems to look at you as someone she trusts and the way you take care of my kids. I just want to tell you that my wife and I appreciate you. Dru you deserve a night to enjoy the perks of being connected to my family. If you need anything for the ball, call Renards and I’ll pay. I do think you deserve to experience the Devonshire treatment. We look out for our own and I think you are part of our tribe so I’m looking out for you.” He didn’t like that stunt with kiss but she was great with the twins. She literally recorded JJ pulling up and Donovan tried to do the same immediately. The cute little competition on who was going to walk first cracked Dani and him up. They were almost eleven months and it was amazing to see them develop into little people. Donovan was stubborn almost to the liking of his uncle Chauncey but his baby girl Jolene well she was feisty like her aunt Max and Bliss and he guessed Belle also. He kind of felt she had that Cummings and Fraiser attitude also.

Dru almost felt a pang of guilt then Dani and Walter hugging at the wedding flashed in her head. Not to mention when they danced at the wedding. She hated Brenda and Walter so much and she wanted everyone to feel her hatred. She almost felt herself getting emotional. As she stopped running seeing the Devonshire mansion just on the horizon. This guy was actually being nice to her and she almost felt bad about how she was ruining them. But then Walter and Dani’s first dance played in her head and she shook it off. Using that pang she placed her hand on her knees. She sniffled, forcing the tears out at this very moment. “You don’t have to do that, Jackson.” Dru shook her head as if she was baffled at his kindness. “I appreciate what Dani and you have given me. A chance to bond with those beautiful babies and you two. I actually think I need to get my own life because I’m too invested in you both.” She said slickly, wiping her eyes.

“I guess you should know Philip Montgomery, Zerick Davis, and Lex Hessington all asked me to the ball.” Dru walked in front of Jackson and touched his bare chest with her talon like nails. “But not one of them compares to you Jackson. I find it horrible that your wife doesn’t give you constant satisfaction. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I find how you love your family and Dani so sexy. I sometimes when I’m alone.” Removing one hand off of his chest and touching his jaw. She could feel him about to break free. She instead grabbed his face and tongue kissed him. “I want you Jackson and I’m sorry.” Dru once again playing the innocent touched her lips. Then she honestly got shaken by the look on his face. He was horrified with her. Dru for the first time in a long time felt a bit of shame and she stepped back.

The quick electricity that happened in that kiss he immediately pulled back. Jackson looked at her with utter disgust. At that moment she almost looked like Dani but there was something very dark about what Dru just did. She got emotional because he was being nice, did she transfer that somehow into thinking that he wanted her? Jackson couldn’t believe that either because of the energy she approached him with. What the hell was she thinking? He was paying her a six figure salary and like he said Dru and Dani were friends or so he thought? Dani mentioned Dru had a hard life per Lauren but that didn’t give her the right to try and sabotage his life or his wifes. That wasn’t what she was going to do. She wasn’t going to keep disrespecting Dani and even though she was radiating fear and embarrassment. “If you try this shit again Dru. I mean this it is the last time I’m warning you. I assure you if you try this again I’m not only going to tell Dani, I’m going to run your ass out of this city. I’m not that guy anymore and I won’t hurt her. I know we all make mistakes and I know the feeling of wanting something you can’t have. But you should seriously consider Philip, Zerick, and any other guy but me. If you want to continue to make the money we pay you. I suggest you swallow those feelings. Stop playing with me and my wife. If you don’t like her, don’t pretend to be her friend, just do your job and go.” Wanting to avoid this further because Dru was pissing him the hell off. “I’m done with this, please leave me alone.” Jackson began to jog away. Wondering if he should just tell Dani what Dru was doing and fire her to stop any problems before they started.

Dru stepped back and wiped her mouth from the kiss with a pissed expression on her face. She never liked to be turned down. Sex was always a weapon and she had a very low opinion on men, they all cheated. She was surprised when Jackson turned her down for the second time. That was fine she wasn’t going to stand by and let Dani have this happy ending. That was the comedy of it all. He swore she was afraid of losing this job but he should fear losing his marriage. Dru turned around and began to hike down back to the house. Unzipping her leggings she pulled out her phone and texted someone.

Congrats you just won a date with me. You’re taking me to the summit. 

Dru pressed send and her eyes sparkled soon Jackson and Dani would have to deal with the real possibility they just weren’t meant to be. Not only that but they’d never get that fabled happy ending. In fact she was going to make sure their true love extinguished just like Lowell’s and Jackie’s. She had every intention of fucking Jackson but if he didn’t want to give it up willingly then she’d pivot. One thing her sister couldn’t handle would be a relapse. They’d reach a ceiling then and no more of this epic love story. It was over. She was going to hurt Dani one way or the other.


Selina loved New York in the summer and the breeze and noises always intoxicated her. She truly wished she went to NYU looking back because she remembered she was so in love with Chauncey then. She snickered because he left California shortly after and had his life with Logan. Then Braden came into her life and both her men had babies eventually. She touched her belly and her empty womb made her feel less than. She shook herself out of her thoughts as she felt Elliot kissing her hand. She had visited Jackie and Tamara both since the arrest. Bliss however wouldn’t come out of her room. She was heartbroken from what Hunter did and she couldn’t blame her. She was so sad at what he had done. As she looked over at him she knew he wasn’t sure of why she was digging into the past. Hell she had to find out why. A part of her kept digging because it was about her mother and father. They both were gone and he left her all alone and whatever in these diaries wasn’t telling the entire story. She knew her father hurt himself and she wasn’t going to rest until she figured out everything. Selina now understood Walter, Lowell, Jackie, Lauren, Pierre, Forbes, and so many others hadn’t truly given a real image of her mother.

With Elliot’s research and help they had discovered her childhood nanny. From her mother’s diaries it said that this woman and her father were having an affair. However just from reading about her daddy he was hopelessly in love with such an ungrateful woman. She knew that Elliot wasn’t happy with her keeping the secret of Dimitri as long as she did. She was sorry but she made a promise until it exploded on them all. She stopped him and touched his chest. “Look I know you more than likely have no idea why I have to track down Anya. She is someone important to me. I can remember her singing Spanish lullabies to me when I was a little girl and I can also remember my mother screaming about her. She was jealous and now that I understand what’s happening then with them. Well I don’t believe it. I just need to figure out why dad did this and more about my mom. My mother was a complex woman and I know she isn’t all good nor bad and maybe I can see more of the good if I get a little more of the past.” Selina picked up his hand and kissed it. “I thank-you for all this.” She looked down at her phone. “This is her home. She’s married and has three kids. That’s so beautiful, I bet she was the best mother. I just wonder what type of life I would have had if Gloria would have survived.” How would Gloria help her through IVF? How would she help her through it? She hadn’t talked to anyone but Ophelia about it but she was sure if Elliot wanted that’s what she wanted to do.

Walking up the stairs she knocked on the door. When a teenage boy who looked like someone off a television teen soap opera opened the door. He instantly called for his mother and walked way she snickered at his obvious teenage behavior. Who was she to judge? Her little brother pretended to be a thug to validate his black side. When the older Latina woman came around the corner she squeezed Elliot’s hand. She stopped in her tracks and covered her mouth. People said she looked like her mother and that was the truth. She’d seen pictures but she knew who she was. The woman had tears coming down her face. “Anya? I’m Selina Delacroix and this is my boyfriend Elliot Duval. May we come in?”

Elliot was a little surprised when Selina had told him that she wanted to go to NY after he found some information on Anya Troester who was surprisingly a very hard woman to track down. Rumor had it that the new interim district attorney Paul Richards would not be returning and there were rumors he would be out after the DGI Summit that was coming up. Meaning he had put out feelers about running for office in the Scottswood neighborhood to his surprise the turn out had been good. He also had been shocked when Jon called him that morning to tell Jim to cease and desist when it came to his case with Miles. He wondered if that would be the case rumor was that the Devonshire family had filed a formal harassment claim on him and then he had checked out and into the VA for a week. He could already tell what Lex Hessington would do using Jon’s seeking help at the VA for his mental health against him in court. He’d done it during Kendrick’s shooting, the difference this time a minor child would be involved. A judge would easily see it as a setback to Jon’s case and complaint for custody. They would rip Miles away from a stable and loving home life to go with a man that recently checked himself into the VA for depression and other issues. He looked over at Selina watching her watch New York she was still an enigma in many ways to him.

The drive to find out who her mother really was something he could relate to; he had tried for years to find his father with no answers. It was hard at times not knowing who he was and he held onto that anger that made him bitter and even angry, it was likely what led to his divorce from Monique. She had a huge family knew exactly who her parents were, he had his mother, his brother and his step father and questioned who he was as a grown man. He had a great relationship with Zeke but he attributed that to the fact he had an amazing stepfather growing up and Monique had helped him immensely with counseling when it came to putting his past with his biological father to bed. It was still there in the back of his mind, but Selina it was all so raw for her since her father had committed suicide. She had all of these questions and concerns about who Gloria Delacroix was, what drove her, what her parents’ marriage was like. He knew that she needed to find out for herself the truth before she could ever move forward with him and herself. He could tell that she was questioning everything lately who she was as a woman and sister, where she was in her career. How were they ever going to move forward as a couple if she wasn’t sure of who she was? That thought alone frightened him in some ways even with Monique he hadn’t ever put everything on hold all the time for her, and he looked at her wanting her to know that no matter what they found out today he was here for her.

“I’m here to tell you that no matter what happens I’m here for you and I don’t think it’s weird that you want to know what she was like Selina. You have all these questions and you deserve answers and if I can help you find those then that is what I want to do.” Elliot said looking at her leaving the rest of his thoughts in his head, he could tell she was at DGI because of Chauncey not because she wanted to be there. He wanted her to be happy at work too, he knew she wanted children too and not that Maddie wasn’t her daughter but she wanted something that was a part of her he was older but he wasn’t going to be opposed to that type of a journey if that is what she wanted to go on. When the door opened and he looked at her former nanny he could tell that the woman recognized Selina. “Hello Ms. Reyes we’d just like to to talk to you about your time when you worked for Selina’s parents.” Elliot said, flashing her the megawatt smile that he normally gave to some of his clients.

Anya Troseter raised three beautiful children after Gloria fired her and she left Atlas Falls married the man if her dreams in her husband Frank. They lived in the Bronx two girls and a boy. Her husband worked long hours as a concierge at one of the swankiest hotels in the upper east side  she herself had been a teacher since the move and retired a few years ago. Looking at the girl before her that was now a woman she was transported back to the Delacroix house in her youth, at the time only nineteen and a college student an au pair nanny position was fitting. It allowed her to go to college during the evening and earn a very goo income working for a such a prestigious family. Prestigious families often had dark and dirty secrets she quickly realized and working for the powerful up and coming Gloria Delacroix was no exception to that rule. But how she loved taking care of the woman that was now before her she had stayed till Selina was about eight, Mason was just a newborn before she was let go. Making sure her son was in front of the the TV she invited them both inside to the den.

“You look just like her I always knew you would.” Anya said looking between them both shaking her head a bit, that time of her life was some of the best and worst years and she had tired to put that behind her. She had never really wanted to leave Atlas Falls or stop being Selina or Mason’s nanny but she wasn’t really given a choice and now it was for the best. If she never left she and Frank would have never met at a swanky club and started their life together. “What can I do for you Selina?” Anya finally asked wondering why they were there.

Selina felt an instant connection to the dark haired latina woman before her. Although her beautiful hair was streaked with gray that woman hadn’t changed. Her voice was every bit as comforting as it was when she was a child. She could remember her singing beautiful lullabies to Mason and her. How she played dolls with her and how she was always there as her mothers hair vanished before her eyes. She danced around the house playing samba and taught her how to speak one of the four languages she could. Her lips quivered as she covered her mouth unsure of what to say at this very moment. The emotions of seeing Anya again overwhelmed her. She even smelled the same it was freaky how many memories were starting to flood back. She’d erased her life mentally before her mother was gone. Placing her hand on her chest she truly wanted to bless the woman before her for all that she had done. “This is Elliot, my boyfriend and the man that I love so much first off.” She said taking Elliot’s hand into her own. “Secondly its so good to see your face.” Selina reached out and touched her hand.

“I have some serious questions for you if you have the time. My mother has been heavy on my heart lately and her secrets are unraveling in my personal life. I can’t ask my father because he committed suicide. I’m trying to come to terms with that because the man was healthy as a horse and he had so much going for him. He was remarried his second wife, he rebuilt his relationship with my brother, and he was happy most of all. I have watched him my entire life and my father just never struck me as the type to kill himself. These diaries I have of my mother paints a awful picture of her as a self absorbed egomaniac. So can you tell me why you left us and what you saw going on between my parents. Nothing is too big or small Ms. Anya I just need to know. Did you know about my mother’s relationship with Jeremiah Beecher and is it true what her diaries said?” She lowered her voice for the next part. “Pardon me if I’m being too forward but did you have a relationship with my father?”

Anya looked at Selina and for a moment she wondered what exactly Selina remembered as a child, of course the Delacroixs’ put on a perfect front to everyone around, including their daughter. Inside she knew however that there had been tension in that marriage from the get go, Gloria was ruthless she still remembered how it felt sometimes in that house. She was saw that Elliot was happy to step back and let Selina lead with the questions. Her heart stopped for a moment when she heard that Tony had committed suicide, it was quite the shock he was always to calm and collected never in a thousand years did she think he would ever leave like that. Walking to the leather sofa on the study she took a seat the shock was almost too much for her at the news no wonder Selina had come to New York and her for answers. “That is awful, your father was always so strong and wanted the best for you and your brother. I’m terribly sorry for your loss.” Anya said looking at Selina knowing that she was here for answers.

“Your mother was quite the woman Selina and I don’t want to speak ill of the dead but I do mean that in the worst way. She was always terrible to your father at home even at work, I stayed of course with you because your father thought I was best fit for the job. Her affair with Jeremiah was so toxic when it came I always thought she and your father should have just divorced.” Anya said seeing the pain on Selina’s face at her words and she wondered if the girl was ready for the next part the day she was fired. She had thought over that moment in her head over the years what she had walked in on; she knew that was what led to Gloria letting her go, and she had done the best thing left town before Gloria’s blood thirst went after her. “I was watching you that night. Your father had a late night at the restaurant, I was leaving for the evening and entered your mother’s office without knocking. I walked in on Jeremiah and her in the middle of you’re old enough now, she was on the phone he was down on his knees. She was talking to her doctor at the time. I think his name was Dr. Pendelton. She was furious I profusely apologized she had kept swearing to your father it was over the affair.” Anya paused for a bit letting it sink in and she tried to think about any other details that she knew.

“She mentioned something on the phone about everything being ready and in order. I threatened to tell your father about the affair again, she told me she would ruin me and tell everyone I was sleeping with your father, which was not true. I left the following morning much to your father’s shock.” Anya finished as she looked at them both wondering what else she could offer. She saw the hurt all over Selina’s face and she hated leaving the way she did. But it was something she had to do. She had seen Gloria take out people more powerful than her along the way and knew she would be just another casualty if she didn’t leave. “Your father was a good man honorable man Selina and I would never overstep his bounds or his marriage in order to do whatever was in your mother’s imagination. I loved both you and Mason as your nanny and caretaker but your father and I were friends nothing more. Despite my protests he was very much hanging on to your mother no matter what hurt she would do to him.”

Selina felt the weight of Anya’s words and truly felt sorry for her father. She also understood why he was so cold to Ophelia after she betrayed him. He was dealing with trust issues from her mother. She felt Elliot wrapping his strong arms around her. She mentally remembered the doctor’s name. She was sure that David would inform her where and if this Dr. Pendelton was still around. Selina also knew that her mother was diagnosed with cancer after Mason’s birth. It took everything in her not to cry.  Her mother’s constant betrayals led to Ophelia and he. Was he seeing Ophelia before his mother officially died? She knew that Anya wasn’t lying. Her mother never loved her father the way she loved Jeremiah Beecher. That man made her skin crawl and knowing he was lurking around meant he had something to say or worse some more information. Taking Anya’s hand she looked at her and  lowered her head. “I first want to say thank-you because of your kind heart we didn’t turn out badly. In fact I truly believe you are the reason we have the humanity that Mason and I have. If she harmed you or threatened you Anya, believe me she’s no longer around. My mother is dead and if you need anything I have you because you protected me from her as a child.”

“Did my mother threaten to deport you? Are you legal because I have very powerful friends and we can handle that.” Selina said as she looked at Anya’s emotional face. “Anya, is there any reason you could think of in the past that my father would hurt himself? Both my parents are gone and call me crazy but I’ll do anything to have a piece of clarity on why my father killed himself, why my mother was so unhappy and what can I do to prevent history from repeating  itself. My brother Mason is gay and he almost  hurt himself once and I don’t know if it’s in my family or if I’m overthinking it but I just got out of a abusive relationship. So I know something deep in the Delacroix family is broken and maybe if I can figure the past out I can protect my brothers. My dad remarried a beautiful woman and I have a little brother also named Jamal.” She paused as the feeling hit her and Jamal faked to be a thug over a year. They all had some dark things inside of them and she didn’t believe her dad kept all these diaries for nothing. “I just need to protect my family because I can’t lose anymore.”

Anya looked at Selina and felt for the girl and what she was going through and thought that she had caused more pain than healing. It wasn’t her place now though to comfort Selina or place those expectations on her. “No, I’m legal. I was very young in my last year at college. Something like that would have ruined my career. I’d seen your mother go after and take out more people way powerful than me. I wasn’t going to give her the chance to do it. I am sorry I left how I did with you and Mason but I had to make the decision for myself and my family. I’ve thought about you all over the years. I wish I had more answers for you about your father.” Anya said she had known Tony was unhappy when he was married to Gloria; that wasn’t a secret. But hurting himself seemed to be such a dark place to sink too if he had reunited with his second wife.

“I think we all have a bit of darkness inside of us Selina, it’s what we do with it that counts. I don’t know all your fathers inner demons but I’d like to think he would want you all to move forward. I’m not sure I can be of much help.” Anya said as she heard the timer going off on her oven dinner would almost be done. Getting up from the couch she hugged the woman in front of her before walking them back to the door. “You turned out to be a good woman, remember that my dear.”

Selina once again embraced the older woman with a smile on her face. She didn’t know it. She had given her a lead on what her mother was facing. She was unsure how someone who didn’t have much time to live would just meaninglessly throw her love and life away. She did however now know a doctor and name. She didn’t know who her mother’s oncologist was until this very moment. If she could track him down she might have a chance to at least see what her mother was thinking of. Taking Elliot hand she looked at Anya. “If you need anything please don’t hesitate. If your family needs me I Selina Delacroix make you a promise. I will be there because you loved me like your very own and love like that you don’t forget. Thank-you Anya and if you don’t mind me saying your home is beautiful, your family is beautiful and you still are stunning as I saw you over thirty years ago.” Standing up she began to head to the door. After some more pleasantries Elliot and she exited. As she looked at him. “This isn’t over I’m going to hunt down Dr. Pendleton if Anya doesn’t have answers I know he will. My mother is dead and I’m sure a little more money in his pocket will make him forget all about HIPPA.”


Chauncey looked over at his wife as he pulled his Mercedes up to the restaurant Eleven he had made reservations weeks before. Yes, he should be Atlas Falls with Bliss and Hunter. But this meeting would prove to his father that he was capable of leading the company and not his little brother. Besides, the last thing DGI needed was another scandal. Apparently Hunter and Bliss hadn’t gotten that memo, Hunter’s confession had all but sealed his fate at the police station. He also saw this as an opportunity with Natasha for them to work on their image and their marriage, for now it was stable they had an understanding. Since their wedding the sex was good he wasn’t going to deny that maybe it was the honeymoon phase talking. He handed his keys to the valet as he got out. Walking around to the passenger side he helped her out as always she was looking exotic and elegant and he placed his hand on her back to lead her inside. He was still trying to figure out a way to get SandStar back in her hands. The problem was the patten of the panels; perhaps he could negotiate with Jackson on it.

“Thank you for coming to this meeting with me. Langston Tech has been floundering for years. If I can convince them to sell to us, that means revenue for DGI. Meaning we can father get back into this race against my brother it means perhaps I can have leverage to speak to him about SandStar as well. Perhaps I can convince him to give it back to you of DGI is allowed keep the patten on the panels.” Chauncey said looking at her in truth he wanted her to be happy or maybe he was trying to be a better husband and partner than he had to Logan or even Selina long term. Ever since they had lost the baby it had affected him. She seemed so distant and he didn’t blame her in the least and he still wanted to know who pushed her; that is what the police should have been doing, not harassing Bliss. “I think he and Dani can be reasonable. Besides it would maybe invite other investors to the table at the Summit showing that DGi is a team player. Are you alright? Ever since the wedding I feel it’s been good between us.” Chauncey said, seeing her eyes wander, wondering if she was looking for someone.

Natasha had a plan to get SandStar back from Jackson and Dani’s control. Nothing would stop her either not even her husband. He didn’t notice how she was plotting her future. Chauncey had hurt her but she didn’t intend to spend her life pretending. She deserved a great love story not this false narrative. Somehow he bought into all of this and was honestly trying to make it work. However it would never work between them. She just saw bigger things than being a wife of one of the Devonshire boys. He really had no clue she was planning on stabbing him and DGI in the back. However she would play along. What pissed her off was he seemed to not know where they were. Eleven was Anderson and her spot when they went out in Pittsburgh. It was honestly a little distracting and she didn’t want someone to spot her and bring up Anderson. If Chauncey ever found out that baby wasn’t his he’d try to destroy her before she was ready for war. Instead she looked around and didn’t notice many of the regulars here tonight.

“It’s been nice Chauncey but don’t push it.” She said with a lightness and playful tone. “I am glad you’ve been able to show why you should run DGI. This deal could put you in the forefront.” Natasha said as the maitre d pulled out her chair as she sat down. “I haven’t been here in a while, the last time was with Anderson.” She said as her waiter poured them a glass of wine as she saw Chauncey face scrunch up in annoyance. “Langston Tech could help Rory also, have you thought about that? I mean this could be bringing him an upper hand to you. He says he doesn’t want DGI but who was placed as CEO? It wasn’t you, it was him earlier in the year. I personally think you all ignore Max and Rory as viable threats. ”

Chauncey looked at her as she spoke about it being nice. Honestly he had picked this place for more than just the food and the meeting and his eyes caught his target as if on cue as he watched Anderson and Cara Kincaid walk into the restaurant. He had never been dumb or blind, he had his doubts and watching her fuck Anderson over at the Kincaid mansion while she had told him he had a business meeting had led him back to Greer’s bed. He wasn’t all that worried about Rory trying to claim this as a win for him Rory had his own division he wanted his own investors in it he could find them, plus he had plans for the software to break into the crypto market or something like that not some social media app. Max was focused on the casino and his father wasn’t looking at either of them as CEO he knew that much, there were whispers it was between him and Jackson. He wanted that position and had told his father he was willing to slit throats to get it the power it would give him, the control over DGI it would give him to do what he wanted with it and not what his siblings wanted. Just the thought was enough to want to make sure this dinner was memorable, he saw the look on her face when he simply waved at Anderson as they approached and he got out of his chair to shake his hand.

“Anderson, so good to see you again. I had thought you would be headed back to Atlas Falls given that Hunter was arrested. I know Bliss probably called you. I just want to say that I my mother of course if handling taking care of her and her pregnancy while Hunter is away lord knows the only thing your mother can take care of is a bottle.” Chauncey said gripping Anderson’s hand in his own wanting him to see that he was serious Natasha was his wife now their little affair or fling or whatever the fuck it was, was effectively over if he couldn’t have Greer Natasha didn’t get to have her little fun on the side anymore either. “Pardon my manners I am sure you two probably met before the wedding, Natasha this is Anderson’s Hunter’s older brother. We go way back don’t we? Anderson moved to Pittsburgh with Cara. Lovely to see you Cara, I take it Poppy is at home with Wyatt?” Chauncey said looking at them all and then watching Anderson eye up his wife up and down and right in front of poor Cara as well.

Cara had made a point to head to this restaurant as a way to exercise her demons in her marriage to Anderson and create new memories in the place he used to frequent with his mistress seemed the best way to do that. Poppy was growing like a weed and she was home with Wyatt and of course a trusted nanny to watch over them both, though she hardly thought that Wyatt needed one now. Leaning on Anderson’s shoulder she saw the look on Natasha’s face as Chuancey had got up to greet them. “Chauncey, lovely to see you, we’re actually going to head up to Atlas Falls in the morning, poor Bliss has to be going crazy in that big empty mansion. I mean how warming can it be for her there with your brood there. I will say Wyatt is looking forward to seeing Madeline again.” Cara said looking at the sour look on Natasha’s face at the mention of Poppy no doubt the jealousy would be on full display she would live with what she had done, it haunted her but it was for the best she wasn’t going to be losing her husband or family to the exotic woman in front of her. “Natasha, lovely to see you again.” Cara finished looking at her husband looking at Natasha and almost rolling her eyes such a weak man even now.

Her dark eyes narrowed looking at Cara as she gritted her teeth. She hated to be around this bitch. Every fiber in her body knew that she was going to get her revenge one day. She killed her baby in cold blood and in her eyes she would always be an eye for eye. Cara might have thought it was over but revenge was a long game and when she swung back it would be in the heart. She was going to gut this woman like a fish. “I would say the same thing but it’s never lovely to see you Cara. No use in pretending anymore let’s get this all on the table. Since my husband brought me here to what? Recapture old memories? I’m sure that’s why you’re here, Cara. You have to have memories in Eleven? You don’t because I used to bring your husband here and fuck him in the bathroom. Our passion couldn’t wait sometimes. I don’t believe in coincidences so which of you coordinated this?” She said pointing to Chauncey or Cara. She saw Chauncey eyes bulge as she went full force. “I refuse to share a meal with this woman not now or never. So if she is here then I’ll leave and let you handle the deal. Not only that but Cara this isn’t over.” Natasha leaned in and kissed Cara’s cheek. “I promise that was the kiss of death you bitch.”

Anderson looked at Natasha and Cara and felt a chill run down his spine when Natasha threatened his wife. He felt sick as she admitted right in front of Chauncey they used to have a relationship. Was this woman crazy and the look on the other man’s face showed his absolute rage. “It was prior to your marriage Chauncey, and Cara I apologize you’re having to relive this. Honestly I don’t think this was a setup I think it truly was a coincidence. Natasha, please calm down.” His eyes couldn’t stop looking at her perfect lips. God he missed kissing her and holding her. He hated that he couldn’t have both of these women in his life. He loved Cara as his partner but what she did was unthinkable. While Natasha was brazenly in her face and his wife. “I think you should calm down Natasha, and someone called the press so I don’t think you can leave here unscathed so just sit and calm. Smile in pictures and let’s make it look good.”

“She killed my baby and I don’t think that it’s something I can fake.” Natasha said looking at Anderson and saw Chauncey confusion.

Chauncey looked between them all honestly this was going better than even he had planned, he had simply taken Natasha here to see her reaction. He hadn’t quite banked on Anderson and Cara showing up that had just happened and now there the truth was.”I actually had no idea Anderson or Cara would be here but thanks for the trust.” Chauncey said picking up his wine glass and taking a sip.  He met Natasha’s eyes across the table and she was the one to judge him for his attachment to Greer, when she was out fucking Anderson? His stomach pitted when he brought up the baby she had lost, he didn’t actually know that it was at Cara’s hands but looking at her now he could see why she did it. Rumors were Cara’s parents were ruthless; that was how her entire family was, much darker than his own; his mother would have never pushed Tess down the stairs to hurt either Bliss or Belle. He actually felt bad in that moment that he had accused Greer at the time, he felt like he was going to be ill. How had he been so blind to it all? He did look over at Anderson and Cara seeing they weren’t even at the table next to them. “Anderson has a point Natasha the press is right outside you want to spread gossip, none of us would be unscathed.”

Cara looked at her snidely as she spoke about what she had done, the truth of it was she would take it up with God when she died. People did horrible shit all the time, hell look at Dimiri Kavanagh her finally met his maker she was sure she would as well. “So crass as always I also heard you fucked him in my bed while I was visiting my parents with Wyatt. Was that before or after your little spawn was conceived? Little miss prim and proper high and mighty, rumor has it you were fucking your lawyer too right under your father’s nose.” Cara said smoothly staring as icily as she could at the other woman did she really think that she was just going to step aside and let her take Anderson from her? The woman almost even lost her own company completely because she thought she was so above everyone else. She took the menu from the waiter as she saw Natasha still looking at them and she almost laughed at her she shouldn’t try that hard. “There is also a rumor that your little ways are what lost you SandStar but that is just my father talking to the governor who was more than happy to give his goddaughter the goods to make sure you were tied to the Devonshire’s for now for a while.” Cara finished seeing Anderson staring at her trying to not entice her anymore into a scene.

Natasha sneered as she looked at Cara. “You think throwing around the governor’s name and your petty connections. Will scare me away from what I want? If I want your husband I’ll take your husband. I don’t want him anymore.” Natasha said with enough moxy that it seemed to shock even Anderson. “I’ve been around kings, diplomats, and aristocrats my entire life. I’ve lapped in luxuries you could only dream of. Rumors are just that rumors, which is ironic because I always love to speak in facts. The facts are Anderson could never and I mean never be satisfied with you. You are a well bred white girl who politically everyone will stomach better than a woman from the middle east. I also know something though Cara about you as well Cara. You’re lonely while women like me are lusted after and wanted. While you sit back and wonder why you aren’t good enough. Do you want to know why? Nothing about you is alluring, you captured your husband because of Wyatt and you’ve kept him because he needs you to get in the Governor’s mansion and eventually the white house. I told him though you’ll never be charismatic enough to be first lady nor any lady. You are boring and bland and unflavored. You have his kids, you have the ring, but I have his mind.” Natasha purred as crossed his legs.

Anderson felt his chest clench as Natasha ripped into Cara and he knew she was right. Cara was perfect for the political scene but she wasn’t what a man desired. She had everything in place until she pushed Natasha down a flight of stairs and he saw how dangerous Cara could be. “I think you need to relax Natasha that was very uncalled for. Your husband is right there and you’re disrespecting Chauncey at this moment.” He said as he looked at her. “We could never be your father wouldn’t accept me and my future is dependent on staying as squeaky clean as possible. You’re not having couth right now and I think Cara we should leave. I don’t want to cause problems anymore and I don’t need the stress. My brother is in jail and I want to do nothing more than to get him out. I just don’t see the point of regurgitating all this between us four.”

Cara pursed her lips together at the table as she listened to Anderson chastise his former lover in front of her. The satisfaction she felt in that moment and the look of absolute horror on Natasha’s face was priceless. Then there was poor Chauncey sad she could already tell the look on his face the questioning of Natasha’s miscarriage at her hands, was it Anderson’s or Chauncey’s was still up for debate but the look of betrayal for a Devonshire was worth it. “I do think you are right Anderson we really don’t have to keep doing this with her in public. Besides I’m sure you’ve already had everything on the menu.” Cara said, rising from her seat to the shocked waiter as she made her way towards the door seeing Anderson following her.

Chauncey watched the entire exchange keeping his temper in check as he did, his entire family had mourned her baby. Hell they buried it in the family lot yet now he was wondering was it even his to begin with? Surely Cara couldn’t have been that deranged that she killed his child with Natasha meaning that she had to have thought it was Anderson’s. He rose from his seat slightly as he moved his chair to his wife looking at her as he reached for the glass of wine on the table taking a drink. He at first didn’t know what to say to her he was too fucking angry at the possible deception of it all. He had honestly been trying to make this marriage work, his one slip up being with Greer for a brief one night stand after catching  Natasha with Anderson. He was trying to change to be what she needed. Was it all some sort of game and lie with her and he shook his head seeing her face and he made sure when he spoke he chose his words carefully.

“This entire thing with Anderson ends right now you signed a prenup to that effect. At first I actually felt sorry for you did you know that? At how Jackson and Dani took SandStar from you and I actually thought this would work in both our favor. Clearly you’re still not on that page with me so I’m wondering now why I should even help you get your company back.” Chauncey said pausing for a moment when the waiter arrived and he ordered the porterhouse mushroom steak, mashed potatoes and baby carrots. He waited till she had completed her order as well before he looked at her. Everyone said he was a barracuda at times and he was never one to play the docile little husband role but for this betrayal he was willing to play with what he had. “If I ever find out that the baby you lost was not mine I assure you I’ll destroy you. I grieved with you, I buried him with you and I accused Greer of pushing you. I’ll ensure that you never and I do mean never touch SandStar again. I’ll tell Jackson and Dani you keep the solar panel patent and sell it off bit by bit. You’ll have nothing to your name or your legacy other than what I choose to give you. So you better pray every day to whatever God you believe in that it was mine.” He finished looking at her mortified face

“Who are you to tell me that I am not going to do anything. If I want Anderson I will have Anderson. Just so you know Cara, he still wants me. All you have to do is just check his phone at night. He texts me all the time. Telling me how you can’t satisfy him and Chauncey last I checked you only wanted me because I could make you a baby to compete with your brother. Don’t fool yourself this isn’t some grand love it’s a business arrangement pure and simple. We both know that and if you wanted love you could have stayed with the woman who truly loved you. You and I know that isn’t me. You married me so we could get SandStar and derail Jackson and Dani so do what you said and be a man of your word.” Natasha said purring in the perfect tone of fury and coyness. Seeing Cara freezing up at her words was enough to make her feel better. “She killed my baby. As for if the baby was even yours I guess you’ll never know will you? What are you going to do to get the baby exhumed and pulled up from the ground? He died because this bitch pushed me and if you loved that baby you’d do everything in your power like I am to destroy her biology be damned.” Natasha’s eyes narrowed as she looked at him. “Or I can call Pierre LeClerq and ask for an exclusive about my fraudulent marriage. Now do you want that? Don’t play with me Chauncey unlike Greer I don’t care about your precious fragile heart. I’ll crush it so the question is do you want to know if it was your baby and did you kill a baby that wasn’t Anderson’s.” She said looking at Cara’s horrified expression when she said that. “Oh never thought of that, did you? That I might lie to trap Anderson and not Chauncey.”

Anderson’s chest clenched as he heard that his baby might have been Chauncey’s after all. It made him furious and then he heard the kicker. What if Cara did kill Chauncey and Natasha’s baby he immediately dropped her hand to comfort her. He knew she wouldn’t like that they still texted and that they were still in contact. He loved Natasha but loved his dreams more. If he had to choose he’d always choose his ambition over his heart. The Kincaid were in an impasse either they would fight together or they’d vanish out of high society. Brooke would be the only one standing to let Atlas Falls have it’s way with them. His mother was a racist apologist and he couldn’t understand how she was even with his father. “I suggest you stop playing games Natasha. It clearly didn’t end well for you last new year. You have no proof my wife pushed you and it would be her word against yours. I however know whomever the father of that baby was, it didn’t deserve to die. Something I think Cara needs to address inside of herself. The toxic hate she seems to carry and affair or not to go to those means. To push Natasha down a flight of stairs and it could have killed her and the baby. I just have no words.”

Cara looked at Natasha as Anderson dropped her hand what a foolish woman, she still thought that she had won and she looked at Anderson of course she knew it was far from over. She had just hoped that Poppy had been enough apparently not but there were other ways to ensure that it was over and over for good a simple call to Charles from her parents would suffice. “You don’t even know who the father was, such a shame Natasha really, but I guess that is prime for a whore like you. Seems to me whoever pushed you saved everyone the hassle. Maybe it was Noah’s too, I think maybe a call to your ailing and dying father may be in order.” Cara said not bothering with more of a response as she walked out of the restaurant.

Chauncey looked at Cara and Anderson as they left and than back at his wife and an anger overcame him at how fucking foolish he had been with her. She thought she was so fucking smart with her little games with him, he was honestly trying to make this entire marriage and arrangement work. He was angry of course he was at the fact that Cara had obviously pushed her down the stairs but he wasn’t about ready to bend over backwards for her when she clearly still held onto this flame for Anderson. “You want me to destroy Cara? Why in the hell would I do that when you are still carrying on a flame for her husband? You seem to think that I’m your little toy to pick up and play with.” Chauncey said cutting a piece of his steak and chewing it seeing the text arrive that the CEO of Langston would be there in a few more minutes. He watched her face as he chewed and put his fork down. “You ever want to see SandStar again you’ll start by doing what you said, be my loyal wife and give me a son, one that is actually mine this time. Call Pierre blow up your own life if you must, the horror all your laundry would do to your father. I’d still have a place at DGI and SandStar would still be in DGI’s hands.”

“My father is on his deathbed. So the threats that you and Cara keep throwing out are getting boring. By next week he’ll be gone.” She said honestly. “I will mourn in public and then I’ll be his  sole heir, acquiring over half a billion dollars. SandStar is a family company that was taken from me but DGI is also my legacy so I’ll put just as much energy in destroying you as you will with  me. Don’t assume I care about what my father thinks after all this time. I’ve been restricted and today feels like a liberation from all my constant drama and maylays. You may think you can destroy me Chauncey, Cara might think she won, and you may believe you have the upper hand but Chauncey I’m sick of losing and I’ll do anything and everything to get SandStar back with or without you. We are a team of convenience, don’t mistake that for love and I won’t either. Now if you don’t mind taking that steak to go, I’m ready to leave because I just don’t have an appetite and I believe you wouldn’t want the tabloids to see you leaving without your wife.” She picked up a carrot off his plate and took a bite. ”You’ve met your match in so many ways.”


Braden looked at his mom and Tamara inside of the bar, he had a meeting with a client in a few hours his first since leaving the DA’s office it wasn’t much small claims court about business disagreement but it was something. The last week had been so much stress for them the first thing he and Tamara had done was see her therapist the memories of Dimiri were all fresh. He knew he had lost his shit at the police station with Devin but it had to be done, they had went after Tamara for Dimiri’s mruder and he did what he told her he would. Protect her, Bliss, Jackie and Selina by extension he watched the news about Dimitri’s case, when and if Mason reached out for him to help Hunter out of the mess he was in he would likely assist. His sister had even called with again a job offer to go to work for DGI, he turned her down he wanted to do this on his own without her help, or his fathers or hell even Charles. For years he had worked his way up fighting for justice when it came to the people of Atlas Falls and now it was all gone, his entire career as DA was gone there was no going back here in town to what he loved to do. He still had his license thanks to Charles but he needed to find his new legal passion since putting criminals away was out the window. He knew that his mother was with Tamara and he felt comfortable enough to leave to meet his clients and he took the summer sun to do just that.

Rounding the corner to go to his car he stopped seeing a town car pull up to the Pub and seeing the license plate of who it belonged to. A chill ran through his spine in the years the Pub had been standing Ronan Madden and anyone in his organization had ever stepped foot in the establishment and he was damned sure it would stay that way. Locking the door on his car he turned seeing one of Ronan’s guards open up the car and he saw Ronan step out and instead he was shocked when Ronan didn’t even attempt to go in, instead however he watched as Ronan made his way to him and his heart raced. They were enemies and he reached for his phone just in case and saw his mother peering out the window at him. When he saw Ronan simply hold up his hand to keep his guards back and withdraw any weapons he looked into the window nodding to his mother that it was alright he doubted that Ronan was going to gun him down in fucking daylight at the Pub with a crowd. Ronan’s style was much darker and scarier he preferred to make his kills in the middle of the night with close contacts around him, and he remembered seeing the pictures of some of the bodies they had found. KC had gotten lucky to be alive even if it meant a coma and losing time with Miranda and Quinn. “What can I do for you Mr. Madden? If you’re here to put a bullet in me it wouldn’t look very wise given we are in broad daylight in the business district with patrons around, a ton of witnesses.” He finally asked looking at the mobster before him and wondering just what he wanted.

Ronan knew that reaching out to the man in front of him was a risky move but he needed an attorney stateside in order to handle Gia if it came to that after the baby was born. He knew Braden Fraiser was too straight and too narrow to actually take on being his attorney on a business front, but Raven viewed him as one of the best legal minds that he knew. Gia had left on a trip to New York with Hector and when she returned and they bumped into Brooke out and about that is when his radar started to go off Gia was blood thirsty about Brooke and any other woman that was in his orbit or past. Meaning he had no idea how blood thirsty she would be with their own son, he wanted his freedom to have women on the side, she apparently wanted something more a choice he may have to make down the line. For now though it meant he needed a lawyer to handle distribution of his legitimate business finances, make sure that Thor would be in charge of those followed by his son. He needed to make sure that if push came to shove and Gia pushed too much that he would be able to have the power to rip their son from her in order to make sure his son stayed with him. Braden had children surely he would understand that, he had thought about kidnapping him and dragging him to the mansion but Raven had flashed into his head Braden as she always said was reasonable and level headed.

Instead he drove towards the Pub and looking at the scenery along the way his empire was reaching but this part of town something that Walter Fraiser had been very sure of. He knew once the kingdom got too big it meant not as much control and as thrilling as it would be in order to bring things to this section of town he was on to bigger and better things with Gia. Expanding beyond Atlas Falls and taking over the entire east coast, Atlas Falls was simply small compared to what he knew he was ready to take. Therefore it meant that the Fraiser’s could have their little slice of Atlas Falls pie for now. He saw Lauren looking at him out of the window when he stepped out of the car and saw Tamara with a baby in her arms no doubt Delilah, he waved his men to stay back and lower anything they thought about pulling out. He wasn’t about to gun down the former district attorney that had tried for years to put him away not yet anyway, he needed him to be his attorney. He had made a list over the last week Mason was too connected to the Devonshire family, Elliot was too much of a fame whore and so that meant Braden who while he was connected to the Devonshire’s he wasn’t playing in the corporate game despite what he heard was a generous offer. Meaning he had no loyalty to the casino, or MontCorp meaning he could be objective when it came to his legitimate businesses. There was that pesky connection to Charles of course but he knew Charles was too smart to let even the man before him sniff too much into the drug trade with his connection.

“I’m actually here on a personal nature, I’m looking for a new attorney and I need legal advice. My men currently have no motive to go after you Mr. Fraiser. You were highly recommended to me once upon a time before Raven died. She spoke very highly of your qualifications and it’s not like at this point in your career that it would be immoral or a conflict of interest. Besides, I can make it worth your while.” Ronan said looking at him wondering if he was going to take him up on his offer as he walked to the closer seeing Braden not back down from him, that was a good sign he needed a tough lawyer after Raven. Someone that would advise him when needed on certain things and tell it to him straight. “I know that we at one point were at odds I’m not here about my illegal activities take a walk with me will you.” Ronan finished motioning him to walk the land of the back of the distillery with him towards the river.

“I have a certain problem at the moment with a woman that I’ve gotten involved with, Gia Falcone. You know that she is pregnant with my child. She wants something from me that I am not quite sure that I am ready to give her. I am concerned that she will use my son one day against me or try to make sure that I don’t have access to him after he is born. You’re a father, surely you can understand where I am coming from with that.” Ronan said looking at the land years ago his father actually had thought about buying it from Walter though Walter’s father had said no. It would have made the perfect spot for money laundering, or storing the cocaine instead it remained a steadfast spot no longer just a little Pub in downtown the grass was cut, Lauren had cleaned up the buildings and their was ample places to host large events. A legacy other than his mansion that his father had and various buildings there wasn’t much to the Madden name just yet but he would change that with the casino. “I would like to draw up a custody agreement with her ahead of time to ensure that I have just as much rights to him as she does. I also would like you to look into some paperwork for me at the casino.” Ronan said shrugging as he looked at Braden who was actually quite hard to read.

Braden looked at him when he motioned for him to take a walk with him around the grounds of the Pub it did reassure him that Ronan wasn’t out to end his life at the moment. He needed to decide what to do with his career that much he knew he just didn’t expect for Ronan to approach him about it, he respected Raven in some weird way. Hell in law school sparks clearly flew one night at a study session in the library and they almost fucked each other’s brains out to get it out of their system. Her death had been one of the most gruesome he had seen after they raided the warehouse and rescued Sebastian Navarro who refused to cooperate or name Gia as his kidnapper. She was gutted like a fucking fish and it still sent a chill down his spine as he thought about it, he kenw a lot from studying Ronan but he had never murdered a woman it wasn’t in his motives and he knew that Raven and he were close friends. He listened to him talk about his entire situation with Gia Falcone and wanted to shoot him the dumbest look he could did the man not know she had a reason for the “Black Widow” moniker that was given to her, gorgeous ass or not. The woman had at least two husbands that they knew of that ended up dead, he did have children so he got Ronan’s concern with his own. He put his hands in his pockets as he looked down at the water in the river not sure if he was going to accept Ronan’s offer or not clearly he had to know there were certain lines he wouldn’t cross.

“There are a ton of other attorneys that you could have gone to in order to ask them to represent you. My father is the mayor, I used to track you down. I know about every illegal thing I could never nail you for. Not to mention that I have connections to the police force.” Braden said looking at him wondering what he should do instead he felt someone pass him a piece of paper it was one of Ronan’s men and he looked at the yearly salary and bonuses that were laid out that he was proposing it was enough every month to get him and Tamara settled again live comfortable, pay off the new house they had bought. Much less than what his sister had offered him at DGI but he didn’t want to work for her or Lowell’s son call it his pride, Lowell was the reason that they grew up like they did and his sister was changing into one of the people they used to hate. He wanted something different for Dylan and Delilah and he looked up at Ronan who was looking at him for an answer. “So just your legal issues with custody and looking at contracts for the casino then? Nothing and I do mean nothing else?” Braden asked, the casino deal had made news and from what he knew about it, it was legitimate.

Ronan knew the retainer fee was exactly what Raven had started out with she was easily paid incentives the longer that she worked for him. Thor had found him a very capable attorney when it came to other side of the business and a very good financial adviser when it came to that side, he simply needed a lawyer local to handle the other things the legitimate things when it came to everything. Braden could easily fit that for him without ever stepping foot into the underside of his world. He did have to wonder if the money was enough to sway someone like Braden to work for him. “Yes just this pending case with Gia if that happens and then looking over things for the casino. I would eventually like to buy Max out down the road and in order to do that I need someone comfortable with the legal side of things and how they work. You seem to be able to fit both those bills you handled your own previous custody case with Tamara over your son, your mother’s divorce and I know for a fact that when the Pub does contracts you look them over. You’re smart I just need you to handle the legal side.” Ronan finished seeing his phone ring it was an associate that he needed to talk to but not with Braden near him.

“I have to think about it. I can let you know by the end of the week.” Braden said finally looking at Ronan as he saw that his number was on the paper with the written amount. He needed to think about it all, he needed to weigh his options and decide if it was the right move he wanted to make. He saw Ronan walking away simply nod his head yes before walking away as he started at the ice cold river water in front of him. The summer heat beating down on his suit as he glanced back at Ronan getting in his car and then down at the paper. It was a lot of money he could ask Charles for advice on how clean it was and how legitimate it was.


Val slouched in Club Vertigo booth as she was on her fourth cosmo. Twisting the martini glass in her fingers. She hadn’t found her footing in Atlas Falls after all the drama. Good thing for her Jamal wasn’t here she missed the drinks in this club. She was sticking to her guns though no more men and she was devoting her time making Dani Devonshire gown for the Energy Summit. As she gulped down her next drink she sauntered to the bar and sat down smiling at Hilary. The stunning bartender Jamal hired and she saw the tabloids she was out with him and Greer rag even hinted Jamal might have his eye on Belle Devonshire. Getting another drink she sauntered back to the booth. Of all people if that was true she’d vomit. That girl would pay one day as she looked over to her right at a guy sitting a few barstools down. The club was fairly crowded so opened her purse and used the compact to look at him. Who was he? Val flung her chocolate hair as she sipped the rest of her drink. Then it clicked it was the governor’s son and one of Belle’s boytoys. See Greer’s tabloid was good for something plus that online gossip section was juicy. Looking at her Tory Burch bag she stood up and walked toward him confidently.

As she purposely spilled her entire bag in front of him. She then tried to pick up her belongings while at the time dropping her drink. “Damnit!” She shouted as she saw him stooping down to pick up her hair brush. “I’m having one of those days you know?” Val said as she took the brush from him and smiled at him. “Sorry I don’t think you should have to hear about my horrible day. I’ve gotten my dress rejected by my boss and I got rave reviews for her wedding dress. My other client is becoming a bridezilla but she has every right she’s about to become a princess. So I’m trying to unwind tonight and it’s not going well. I actually wanted to see my ex and hopefully make him see that I’m not a horrible person. Omg I’m babbling, I’m telling you my life story.” Biting her lip she looked at Connor. “This is when I exit and bury my head in the sand.”

Connor had gone out for the night when they had just got back from an away game and honestly he needed some fun and some stress relief. His father was on the war path ever since Whitney and Ryan had gotten embroiled in that case with Jon Harrison over Miles. There was no way in hell that his nephew was leaving that was made perfectly clear and he had a sinking feeling that meant no matter what his father had do. Instead a night out at a local club was just what he needed and he waved to a few teammates on the dance floor while he took a drink from the bar. It had changed a bit from when they owned it and it wasn’t like he didn’t know who Jamal was. Honestly, they had so many properties and investments he had a hard time remembering them all. Besides he had more interest in his current career on the court than he did for anything related to the conglomerate he left that up to his siblings. He had signed a few autographs and some of the local college girls had come up to him to grind on him for a few dances and he had eventually gone to the bar to order his vodka and tonic, taking a drink while he turned around wanting to hit the floor one more time. Instead he bumped right into Val Ruiz the up and coming fashion designer and he couldn’t help it he let out a grin at her she was very gorgeous.

“It’s quite alright you’re not the first girl to fall and trip all over me you won’t be the last either. Your dresses do seem to have a way of seizing the moment and the press.” Connor said, flashing her a mega watt smile at her as he helped her pick up her things. He wasn’t lying, she was quite beautiful and he was lonely; perhaps she was just what he was looking for as he picked up her hairbrush, slipping it into her bag. He knew about the upcoming party at the Devonshire mansion; his father was cutting the ribbon along with Atticus Kavanagh for the solar panel project in the Scottwood neighborhood rejuvenation. Something that he knew that his father hoped to expand into other areas in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It meant he would of course have to show up at the event and smooze people and shake a few hands. “You mean that Summit party? I’m attending for a bit because my father wants the entire family there. Are you sure you are alright I hit you pretty hard when we crashed.” Connor said leading her back to the booth and letting her sit down before taking a seat next to her the worst thing that could happen would be he could go home lonely the best thing he realized looking at her was he could take her home instead. Honestly letting go of Belle had been hard, but she was clearly all about playing with things instead of taking them. “I would venture to even say you crashed into me on purpose.”

“You’d be.” Instead of lying to Connor she chose to play it honestly. “Completely right. Well I can’t help but to feel like we should get to know each other. Now you can say this is strange but I think sports are very sexy Mr. Hessington and the fact that you’re a sports superstar I find incredibly attractive. Don’t worry I’m not a golddigger, I’m a designer. I’m actually designing my most elaborate gown yet. You know Brooke Kincaid soon to be Princess Brooke Kavanaugh of Ilsa De Cruces? Well I’m about to finish her wedding gown and I’m kinda dealing with a lot. My personal life is on fire while my professional it’s flourishing. I actually have a offer to open up my own haus and an eponymous line.” She said proudly. “I was funded by DGI and Jackie Devonshire but I’m actually looking to do my own thing now. I have enough money to repay the loan my cousin and I did. So I guess it’s time to see what’s out here for me.” She said flirting.

She didn’t care who photographed her and she also wondered did he know what Belle had exposed on the internet? Did he know she had an abortion and was rotten enough to not tell Jamal? That was the type of thing men didn’t exactly trust. She just couldn’t see herself having a child at the moment but she also couldn’t see herself not being with Jamal or Kelsey. Now she had no choice but to move on and she would with someone even more influential. Her eyes locked in on Connor. “Look I hate chit chat I need some good sex and release are you down or are you scared to tell me what you want?”

Connor wondered if he recognized her honestly she seemed really fucking sexy and hot, normally he didn’t swing the way of fashion designers he was way more used to debutates and road girls. His sister maybe cared more about fashion than he did but he had to go to this party because his father wanted him there so they’d likely see each other again. He almost rolled his eyes at the royalty comment Isla Del Cruces was a dated monarchy and one would like to think that after what Dimitri did no one would be running around dying to work with them. He knew who Brooke was thanks to his father’s business deal with Brenda and Anderson was leeching onto his family legacy with Cara instead of being in Atlas Falls chasing Steven’s legacy then again the son of a former KKK member didn’t really have a ton of places to go politically in his opinion. When she mentioned that she wanted a night of wild fun he simply leaned into her body and kissed her lips letting his hands explore her dress over her hips and breasts for a moment before taking her by the hand. He led her through the winding club to a little bit more of a secluded spot towards the offices. Once away from the music he pinned her against the wall with his body before kissing her again.

This time he let his hands feel up her dress as slowly as he wanted and brushed his fingers over her nipples wondering if she was wearing a bra or not. Pulling back he bit her bottom lip the club was thumping meaning no one was going to bother coming upstairs it was a damned Friday. “I think I can manage to give you what you need.” Connor whispered it had been a while since he’d bedded a woman a few weeks and it wasn’t like he was engaged to be married, in a relationship or married, he was simply young and looking to enjoy life to the fullest. His hands traveled to the skirt of her dress lifting is slowly as he rubbed his fingers over her panties seeing ehr squirm at the action and he wondered if she’d ever been fucked like she was about to in a club. He’d done it a few times and from what he knew it was such a turn on for most of the women he’d been with. Letting his tongue travel into her mouth he tasted her lips and mouth with his own tasting the liquor that was there as he slipped three fingers into her warm center, hearing her moan against his lips. “You still sure?” He whispered against her ear already hard from her wetness starting to soak his hand.

Val huffed out in pure pleasure from the moment their lips crashed into each other. She knew she had picked the right guy to make her feel better. The instant sexual chemistry they had at hand was explosive. She felt him slipping fingers into her warmness. Her eyes were glossed over because she took a pill earlier. Val had never been a drugs girl but recently a little blunt or some molly didn’t kill her. When he started to finger her she felt incredible and she felt her entire body shivering because he was what she needed. A man to pleasure her body so deeply that she didn’t have to think about her problems. Her breast nipples perked up and she began to moan loudly as she stared into his eyes. Taking his hand she licked it then stuffed the fingers into his mouth. She saw him exhale as she unfastened his pants and smiled as she saw him growing. “I’m sure.” She purred as she began stroking him furiously. “And I’m clean.”

When she wrapped her legs around him she began to cry out in pleasure as he entered her body. She could feel her body dripping from him digging inside of her. She squeezed with every stroke she wanted to match his intensity. It was crazy to believe she was inside of Jamal’s club fucking a random man in the darkest corner. It made her even more enthralled in all of the riskiness of what she was doing. He was absolutely what she needed. “Yes, Connor.” She called out to him as she felt her body shivering. “Fuck me deeper.”

Connor had been willing to incite her a bit more in foreplay before she completely turned into a puddle around him he watched as she was clearly into the fingering that he was doing. To the point that her nipples were rock hard under her shirt or bra or whatever she was wearing underneath of her clothes. Honestly he didn’t care either way all this was for him at the moment was a bit of fun and a way for him to release some much needed steam before dealing with his father at the Summit party. When she pulled out his hand then then proceeded to lick herself off of his fingers he was beyond turned on and had to suppress a moan into her mouth when she then placed them into his mouth. He let out a deep exhale at the action almost as if to steady himself bracing the wall while she undid his pants and began to stroke him. He let take control for a moment as he lowered his boxers and watched her hook her legs around his dick.

“Fuck.” He managed to groan out as he felt her channel vicing him with each inch as he plowed into her, she was slick and tight two of the best features in his mind for a lover. He didn’t bother thinking about it too much as he began to dive into her body against the wall wondering if he was injuring her or not while her hips slammed against the wall and he wrapped her legs tighter around his waist encouraging her to wrap her ankles a bit. Once she did he grinned at her before his hands went to her ass spreading her cheeks while he roughly plowed into her. “Like that?” Connor asked his hips moving vigorously not sure where he ended and she began but was intent on driving her there none the less. She wanted it hard he had every intention of giving it to her and he leaned down taking a nipple into his mouth slamming her against the wall again feeling her shivering from the intensity of his strokes. He gently tugged on her nipple through the thin fabric on her body and then repeated the action to the other one watching her face as he pounded into her against wall.

Val screamed out as she felt him plowing inside and out. “Yes fuck me Connor.” He was becoming exactly what she needed at this moment. A man to please her body and make her feel desirable again. She was shaking as she clawed into Connor’s back knowing he was about to make her orgasm. As she screamed out she began to shake feverishly. Throwing her head back she saw Jamal watching them through the glass. Exactly what she wanted. She wanted it to be Jamal fucking her but this would do and maybe it would teach him not to just leave her. How could he just leave her? Yes she messed up but this was her way of luring him back. Val’s eyes rolled back to the back of her head. As she began to cry out.

Jamal had wanted to sell La Callie but he just couldn’t. It was his father’s other child and it was foolish to turn away this successful business. So the club, his label, and now a restaurant was underneath his belt. He had gotten a call from his bartender that Val was here drinking and flinging herself on any guy. When he walked through his bar he didn’t see her and the bartender Hilary who he was sleeping with pointing upstairs. He missed Val but he wasn’t here for her shit. When he walked upstairs through the office he shook his head. This bitch had lost her mind? Was she actually fucking some dude in his club? First she aborted his baby and now she was fucking disrespecting him in the club. As he began to walk into his office. Turned on his laptop and then looked at the camera’s in hallway B. He then began to get pissed he logged onto to RePlay. Then he signed out of his account and created a burner account and live streamed Connor and Val screwing in the hallway. Fuck that bitch. Jamal grabbed a blunt and sparked it up as he inhaled the smoke. Watching them get dressed he smiled as he stopped the feed and rewound his video footage of them fucking. He got that bitch.


Zach looked over at Mason who had this love struck expression on his face. He’d give up forever to keep that expression on his face. This was what heaven must have felt like because he was so happy. He could die a happy man right now because he had the love of his life. Nothing would compare to Mason and he knew that a while ago. He figured out that Mason was his soulmate when he just let him cry at night mourning losing his son. When Mason prayed with him for Kieran’s safe return. Those things meant something to him. Them talking all night about kids names and arguing over who had the most eccentric name. He laughed at his corny names for the kids but he wanted to adopt, have a surrogate and have Kieran. He wanted it all. As he walked over with their drinks he sat them in front of Mason. Sitting down he was waiting for the other couples to arrive. He really liked his sister girlfriend Willow but Brock’s girlfriend was another story Greer was a terrorist. La Callie was packed lately because people were excited to see the new menu and decor. Jamal had outdone himself and made La Callie a hot spot for the youth again and not just a local favorite.

“So I expect to get busy tonight to erase the thoughts of having to deal with Greer LeClerq tonight. I can’t even say Greer Fraiser. Ugh that woman is such a bitch and I’m sorry if I could I’d punch her like I did Jon ass last week. Speaking of the detective Jon he’s been out and I hear he put himself up if you know what I mean. I honestly feel badly for Jon. I mean he shouldn’t be lashing out but the guy always has a hard time. It sucks.” He saw Kelsey and Willow entering and he stood up as he waved them over. He greeted both of them and kissed his sister cheek and hugged Willow. He saw Mason doing the same. “I was just saying that I miss Lucy being around because she’d kick Greer ass. I mean you can’t because of your precious hands but I really can’t believe Brock got Greer knocked up and he’s marrying her.”

Mason was so glad to be over with his day Hunter was being stubborn as hell when it came to everything with this situation that landed him in jail. Looking over at Zach he couldn’t help it as he kissed his fiance’s lips for a moment pulling back as he took his drink from him. This was what they needed a night out to tell Kelsey and Brock about their engagement he had told his siblings, Zach had told Dani. He was so excited about everything coming up for them when it came to their upcoming marriage, to move on with his life and start new. He wondered if his father would be proud of him for turning a corner in his life and being with Zach to getting married he would like to think before he died they had resolved their differences enough that Tony would be proud of him. They agreed a short engagement and then they would start to look more intently for Kieran and reach out to adoption agencies and a surrogate. He wanted a family with Zach, he wanted what Jackson had with Dani, love, passion and a family he found that with Zach. Simon was a good test run, hell a lot of his lovers were over the years but Zach was his one, he clicked once he came out of his depression when he saw Zach as a friend that saved him from suicide and it had had blossomed from there.

“I think a night of stress relief is in order between this entire thing with Hunter and your last week. We deserve that. As for Greer don’t get me wrong Kelsey is cool Willow is cool, but I still can’t believe your cousin knocked her up and actually proposed to her after everything that she did to Dani. Hell what she and her paper then proceeded to print about Braden and Tamara, it literally cost Braden his job.” Mason said he wasn’t Greer’s biggest fan and there was no way in hell if Greer had stuck her sights on someone in his family like she had Brock after attacking one of his cousins or family members he would ever be on board with things. He looked over at Zach knowing that hitting Jon had been Zach’s last resort because talking to Jon was falling on deaf ears ever since the Miles thing happened, plus Zach was defending his cousin he totally got that. “I feel for Jon man it sucks what he’s going through. Who knows maybe Dani slapping the shit out of him and you planting him will turn his life around for the better this time. I can’t be mad he lost to my bro on that one Zach.” Mason said and then he greeted Willow and Kelsey at the table before siting back down. “So any news on if Lucy will get out I have yet to met the wonder that is Lucy Fraiser.”

Kelsey had no idea what Zach wanted to talk to them all about though she had a good idea she had begun to suspect at Braden’s wedding the way Dani had jumped up and down like a schoolgirl while they conspired on the porch about whatever they were talking about. She figured that Zach would tell them all when he was ready and this was likely how he was going to do it and a night out like somewhere at La Calle was just what the doctor literally ordered. So she and Willow were going to come out and enjoy an evening eating at one of the most swanky and upscale places in the entire state. Hell she had even gone Renards for a dress that was almost out of her budget, granted she scored it on the clearance rack even though Willow insisted she pay, they weren’t quite at that stage yet. She kissed Mason’s cheeks when he greeted her and then hugged her brother, shooting him a playful glare in honesty. Yes her hands were important, she never used them in anger or if she did it was pretty rare. She couldn’t risk a broken bone or knuckle her patients depended on her too much for that and she smiled over at Willow. Hopefully this wouldn’t be that awkward for her seeing that Greer was her cousin. She was going to stay out of it with Brock. He made his choices and that was up to him, there was no way to change his mind.

“Lucy would have Brock running for the hills away from Greer, no offense Willow but she can read a  person or a room like no other. I still can’t believe after basically admitting that she was still in love with Chauncey Brock proceeded to follow through with it let alone knock her up. I mean can you imagine her as a mother, we all know what Brock wants and it’s not what she will be able to give him.” Kelsey said looking at the shock on Willow’s face, she didn’t regret saying it though everyone in their family thought the same other than her parents that were over the moon happy that Greer was pregnant. It certainly wouldn’t be how she wanted to marry someone knowing that deep down you were a replacement for someone else. Nevermind how awful Greer had been to Dani and then how she ran that trash in the tabloid that was enough to have Braden have to resign as district attorney. “So what is this all about? Willow and I had a bet about what this is. She thinks you finally got in the FBI, me on the other hand dear brother you and Dani are like the worst. I saw her jumping up and down on the porch at Braden’s wedding. Perhaps the second Fraiser event of the year, well technically third if you count the other horrid one that I’m sure certain cousins would rather die than attend.” Kelsey said, smiling at them both.

“Well little sis, I would tell you but our big bro isn’t here yet. So you’ll have to wait until Brock gets here and don’t get jealous that Dani knows Kelsey, you’ll always be my KelsBear.” He saw his sister turn beet red and he felt her almost instantly ready to kick his ass. “A bar fight with my sister at the new chic La Callie isn’t my idea of a good time but telling Willow how she got that nickname well that’s all on the menu.” He teased again as he folded his arms and saw Greer and Brock entering the restaurant. Jamal had gotten a small band together and the atmosphere was so different. Zach folded his arms as he stood pulling out the chair for Queen bitch herself Greer. She was pregnant after all and he looked over at Kelsey who had a shit eating grin. He really couldn’t stand Greer but she was pregnant with his niece or nephew. “Well now that everyone is here.”

“Oh no you don’t get off that easy.” Willow said, looking at Kelsey kissing her cheek. As she felt her blushing. “We need to go back to KelsBear.” She kissed his girlfriend’s hand. ‘Wow so now the great Zach Fraiser is silent and Brock Fraiser is looking like a cat who ate a canary. What is this KelsBear?” She said with a smirk on her face.

Greer rolled her eyes as she sat down at the table and looked at Kelsey who still looked at her as if she was scum on her shoe. As she rubbed her belly looking at them she felt the judgment. To be honest she deserved it because they were right. Here she was acting superior when she was pregnant with another mans baby. They all knew she wasn’t good but they had no clue of how bad she was. This was a different level of stress Greer felt the pressure in her soul. Brock was rubbing her feet, reading to her belly and rubbed cocoa butter on her swollen belly. This man was perfect and the guilt was beginning to eat her up. “Well I personally don’t care about KelsBear.” Trying to throw Kelsey a bone. “I do want to hear what this news is about. Mason and Zach have brought us all here tonight for.” Greer looked across the room and saw Max and Bliss. Every time she was around a Devonshire her heart started to pound. She wondered if they could sniff out their kin. “Ugh.” She said mumbling underneath her breath. “Indigestion this baby loves spicy food.”

Brock didn’t question the place of the dinner he hadn’t been to La Callie in a while. Actually the last time with a girl out of his league he didn’t quite get the appeal and it was pricey as hell, but he knew that Zach and more so Mason was footing the bill. There had been a lot of speculation about what Zach and Mason were up to, he had a few guesses and it was exciting but his attention had been on Greer. He was thrilled about being a father to their baby, he hoped for a boy his mother wanted a girl. He made sure to take care of Greer’s every need, despite his family’s resistance to their engagement he knew marrying her was the right thing. He wanted to make sure their life together was as perfect as she imagined it would be, meaning he needed to save a bit more for the wedding. He wasn’t made of money and he wanted it to be something Greer remembered for now he was content to spoil her and their unborn child as much as he could, he even had taken extra shifts at the firehouse to ensure those dreams happened. Plus as much as he knew Greer liked working he wanted to show her that he could support them without all the fuss of the paper, sitting down he saw the looks that both Kelsey and Zach shot her way.

“Too bad KelsBear is a lot of fun. Sorry we are late Greer had one of those last minute cravings and I for one can’t wait to see our baby. Hopefully everyone will be as welcoming as they were with the twins. Plus I can’t wait for the whole family to gather for the wedding after. Bring some happiness.” Brock said casting his brother and sister a glance he wanted and meant that. Everyone had given Jackson a chance to prove himself they should do the same not to mention the twins had been doted on. He wanted to bridge the hostility between his family and Greer; she was after all about to have his baby. “Now that we are all here, what did you and Mason want to tell us? Did you finish that huge FBI exam? Is Mason running for DA? Have there been any leads on Kieran?” Brock asked, trying to keep it civil the more he did the more he hoped everyone wouldn’t be so against Greer in his life.

Mason looked over at Zach and he could tell that everyone at the table was trying to be at least polite to Greer. He didn’t have a beef with her or anything like that. He wasn’t quit sure how either of them would feel about their announcement, it was going to be a shock he was sure but they didn’t want to wait or have a long ass engagement. Plus Merci said it wouldn’t be the first wedding she had to plan on short notice. Not to mention their best man and maid of honor seemed to be thrilled for them and he took Zach’s hand in his own kissing it as he saw them all looking at the ring that Zach had given him and then saw the smiles break out on Brock and Kelsey’s faces, Willow looked happy and he could swear that Greer looked unimpressed at best and annoyed. Mason picked up his glass and took a drink feeling Brock reach over and give him a hug followed by Kelsey, he doubt Greer got that welcome he knew she didn’t her engagement party had been awkward as hell.

“Well we’d hate to keep everyone in the dark any longer since Jackson and Dani both know but we’re engaged to be married. Zach proposed the night of Braden’s wedding in private of course he’s that type of man you know? Respecting his cousins wedding day, away from a crowd and a scene.” Mason said, casting a glance at Greer who looked like she was going to vomit and he almost laughed at her, the woman literally had her pregnancy announcement at another woman’s wedding. Their announcement would be more private and not overshadow Braden and Tamara’s day. Smiling at them all he was so happy at the prospect of the wedding about making a life with Zach and starting a family with him. They were going for a chic and relaxed gatsby vibe, some smooth jazz in there with all the lux they could have, he knew Zach didn’t make a ton but he did and he wanted their wedding to reflect both their cultures and backgrounds too. “So we’re going to need all hands on deck. I’ve already asked Merci to reach out to you Willow. We would love it if you could DJ the wedding. I’m pretty sure we both agreed that we’d want Kelsey and Brock included in the wedding party too. A few more as well, nothing too large or maybe it will be.”

Willow got up and hugged Mason and Zach and saw everyone cheer and doing the same. She looked at Kelsey and saw how happy she was for her brother. “You two are adorable and I think that we should get a bottle of the best champagne because they are getting fucking married!” She cheered as she clapped her hands. “Yes I’m pumped. Of course I will do the music at the ceremony because I would have a killer playlist for you two.” Walking up to Kelsey she wondered how she felt about getting married. She wanted it one day and wondered if she was into it. As long as she was with it, she’d be committed to her. Leaning over she kissed Kelsey happily and she saw her blushing slightly embarrassed that of public displays of affection but that was her girl. She was always shy. It was adorable. “Congrats!”

Zach leaned in and smiled when he saw how excited Willow was. He wrapped his arms around Mason’s waist and kissed him. “We are thinking about next month. I mean why wait, you know? We shouldn’t have to wait to be a married couple when we know that we are the loves of our life. We as a couple shouldn’t be waiting any longer. We shouldn’t have to do a long drawn out engagement. If Tony leaving us taught us anything. Well time is far too precious and I think the best course of action is to jump into it. I also want to tell you after the wedding we are actively looking to adopt. I’m going to talk to the FBI also about Kieran, and the other big news I got. Well I’ve been accepted into Quantico.” He hadn’t told Mason that yet either. He wasn’t sure his future husband would be willing to leave. Zach was looking to go into the missing and exploited children division. “I think Diego is pulling some strings to keep me in Atlas Falls. So no worries I’m not moving but I’m thinking of leaving AFPD after this summer.”

Greer face immediately scowled a wedding before her due date? They were trying to purposely outshine her and the baby. That just wouldn’t do. How did the queens think this was acceptable? They all hated her and now another event where she’d be told she wasn’t good enough for the Fraiser family. That was just enough to drive her crazy. She bit her bottom lip as she clapped for them. “A month? That’s so soon, well do I have the exclusive on the story? Tell me are you two doing a prenuptial agreement? I mean Brock is so against it but I refuse if we ever breakup I have to protect my baby and the LeClerq fortune. What about you Mason, I heard Tony left each of you three a heavy inheritance. If you two ever call it quits, Zach is going to get a piece of that lucrative fortune and rumor has it La Callie is franchising under Jamal care to comment?” Greer rubbed her belly coldly seeing that they clearly never talked about it. “It’s just something Brock and I have been discussing. I think you two should as well.”

Mason was shocked that Zach had gotten into Quantico in a good way. Of course he was happy to move for his career if that was what they decided to do once married. He was willing to do anything when it came to finding or helping with Kieran. He saw the disdain on Greer’s face and shrugged that he and Zach wanted what they wanted. “Not really Merci has planned a wedding like this before and neither of us want to wait. As for an exclusive we’re not actually open to that you’ve done plenty enough already to Zach’s family. Your last little exclusive got Braden to lose his job.” Mason bit out looking at her Zach was down to earth and the last thing he knew that he wanted as Greer all up in their asses at their wedding and he looked at her talking about his fucking money. He and Zach had no desire to sign a prenup; she and Brock wanted to do that more power to them, but he didn’t feel that they needed one. “Not everything is about money and what’s mine is Zach’s Greer. I’m sure someone as vapid as you only cares about her fortune.” Mason finished seeing the look on Kelsey’s face at how candid he was being with Greer and Willow’s face too.

Brock watched them celebrate and couldn’t help but feel like it was a slight towards him and Greer as they were rushing to the altar, he got that most of his family hated her. But what was he supposed to do, let her have the baby and then not marry her? He refused to be that type of a man with Greer, he loved her flaws and all he wanted was to be a good father to their son. Raise their son like had he been raised with two parents that loved each other. “I didn’t know any better. I’d say you two are pushing up this wedding to that Greer and I are outshined Zach. There is no harm in waiting but if it makes you happy.” Brock finished looking at his brother and then at Greer and Mason when they started to talk about money. It was something that they fought about the most; she apparently wanted a prenup he didn’t see the point in it. His family weren’t some money hungry urchins looking for handouts. “It is something that Greer and I are discussing, though I’ve assured her I have no intention of going after her fortune I have every intention of making her the happiest Mrs. Brock Fraiser for the rest of her life.” Brock said looking over at Greer and he wasn’t sure what was behind her eyes, maybe contempt for his last name surely she was going to take it.

She was so sick of them blaming all the strife that Braden the shadiest DA in history downfall. To be fair she’d never tell a source but it intrigued her that they didn’t know who was really after them. When she read Dru Price was the one to send the information well that intrigued her. In what world would Dru Price the nanny of Jackson and Dani want to destroy her boss’s beloved big brother. Greer would tell them that it wasn’t her though. “I think you should watch out Zach and Mason because I don’t come after people in the shadows. I do it up close and personal. So whomever revealed all the dirty information on Braden it wasn’t me but the irony is I know who it was.” She said taking a fry off the appetizer platter that sat before them. “Honestly do I look like I want to die of boredom? Braden and Tamara aren’t exactly front page news unless you want to give me an exclusive on why she was brought into the station a week or so ago. I mean the worst kept secret is that she along with her friends are murderers.” She said slickly as she fold her arms across her belly.

Willow’s eyes narrowed at her cousin. How dare she just act like what she did was normal. She just basically dropped a bomb on Zach, Kelsey, and Brock then washed her hands with it. Her father had called asking if she was interested in LeClerq media. As long as Greer was at the helm she wasn’t sure she wanted any part. She was cold and calculating but looking at Greer she could tell she wasn’t lying either. “Wait, are you saying someone else is after the Fraisers? Maybe you should tell us who instead of citing a source cousin. I’m dating Kelsey and you’re engaged to Brock. Come on.”

Zach looked at Willow and smiled at her and playfully kicked Kelsey underneath the table. She was a keeper and he saw that. Cousin or not she spoke her mind that he respected.. He liked her and for the first time in his life for some reason he felt Greer LeClerq wasn’t lying. He had intuition and Greer was irritated and showed him one thing. She wasn’t lying. It was the way she said someone was after his family that sent a chill down his spine. “I agree if you aren’t going to say anything then why even open your mouth? Greer who is after my family?” Zach asked in a commanding voice. “Seriously.” This time he raised his voice. “If you weren’t pregnant with my niece or nephew I’d drag your ass out of here and find out.”

Wagging her index finger at them all. “You’re asking me to compromise my integrity as a journalist. Just know I don’t care enough to damage Braden’s life. So stop saying it was me.” Greer could tell she pissed off Brock but they were trying to upstage their baby and she was going to have the last laugh. “I mean I guess eventually everything will come to the light.”

Kelsey almost spit out her drink listening to this bitch repeatedly deny any wrongdoing to her family was she fucking serious? She was glad that Willow stuck up for her family though. She snorted at the words’ integrity; she doubted that Greer even knew the meaning. “Integrity that’s laughable seeing everything you did to our cousin when you came to town. You had no problem leaking her private medical records. Then you basically confirmed you still loved Chauncey at your engagement dinner to our brother. But now suddenly you can’t tell us who’s after us? Spare me right now with integrity. If you weren’t pregnant there is no way any of us would be rooting for this disaster. Face it the only reason Brock is still marrying you is because he wants to be a good father.” Kelsey said seeing Brock’s mouth open at her in horror.

Brock had hoped that they all were moving forward after the disaster that was his engagement dinner. He still remembered how Greer had all but admitted she was still craving and in love with Chauncey. He remembered how he felt after how they had taken a short break and then had made love a few weeks after. When she told him she was pregnant though he still wanted to marry her, was she still carrying on feelings for Chauncey? “So there it is, is that how really everyone feels? And here I thought it was just Braden and Dani, I’m your brother. Greer is having my baby. You all should be more supportive seeing how it’s your niece or nephew. I’m marrying her so can we all stop the shade? I want her to feel welcome. Besides I doubt whoever it is will get anywhere. Braden is a big boy who can handle himself.” Brock said taking Greer’s hand in his not sure how much of what he was saying was true or not.

Greer eyed Brock excited that he was seeing she was his future. If she could just drop the firefighter dream life she would be even happier. She knew her son or daughter deserved a certain type of lifestyle. Him giving them the easy living isn’t what she wanted. She wanted luxury and Greer wasn’t going to keep being berated by these low vibrational people. Grabbing her purse she stood up. “Brock, enjoy your family. I need some time alone. Oh it’s okay they can shade me all they want. I don’t want that negativity around my baby or me. Stay away from your niece or nephew Zach and Kelsey. Willow you seem to side with them so you can stay away from me also. Not like you are a LeClerq anyway and you just proved it. You see how they all band together, that’s what you’re supposed to do for me.” Greer said frustrated with all of this. “I’m done, Brock either you put them on a muzzle about me or you’re going to lose me and this baby. I didn’t admit I loved Chauncey. I said I will always love Chauncey. Just as you will always love Val? How about I got multiple reports you two were together at the hospital? Did I run the story? If Dante was alive Zach would it be so easy to marry Mason? You all act perfect like you are saints! It’s laughable because didn’t you sleep with a woman until she went mad and kidnapped your baby? Did you have a threesome with Jamal and Val and then threw Val and Jamal out? Didn’t report that either. Don’t throw anymore fucking stones at me when you Fraiser’s aren’t perfect. In fact Walter Fraiser is your family patriarch don’t fucking tell me about what’s laughable. What’s laughable is all your judgment when you all are such hypocrites.” Greer charged away and clutched her belly feeling a wave of pain rushing over her. Fear struck her for the first time she felt herself becoming completely absorbed by her pain. Greer grabbed a hold of the bar and began to cry. “Brock!” She yelled out.

Brock for the first time in months felt like the walls were closing in on him and Greer where he had to make a choice between her and the rest of his family. He was happy for Zach and Mason of course he was but he felt like they were doing this on purpose to slight him and Greer. Everyone had just accepted others into the family left and right and he did feel Greer was changing. He took a sip of his water watching her scurry from the table while he looked at his brother and sister. “She’s trying and she does run a media empire. Braden made his own choices with Tamara and his career. I don’t expect Dani or Braden to like her but I did expect some at least respect from both of you.” Brock finished as he got up from the table to make his way to Greer who was bent over clearly in pain. He immediately helped her sit on the bench outside while the valet got his pickup truck. Running her back seeing the pain subside. “I want you to go see Ophelia as soon as possible, Greer, especially if this has happened before.” Brock said, looking at her wondering if all the stress was too much or if something else was going on.

Zach looked at Kelsey and instantly felt bad. His big brother accepted them with no question and here they were being nasty to Greer out of loyalty to Dani. He did wonder should he show more loyalty to his brother. It was all so complex and Greer didn’t help but some vague threat felt bad. No matter what Brock said. He didn’t like that she knew that someone else was aiming at his family and she wasn’t saying anything. She was apart of this family right? So she had a responsibility because technically wasn’t whomever after her child? His niece or nephew? “That couldn’t have went better. Great this is what I wanted to avoid.” Zach said as he looked at Kelsey. “I know she’s horrible but she’s about to be our family. We have to find a way to get along with her KelsBear.”


Maggie stepped out of the shower wrapping her body up in the ratty towel that hung on the rack after today she would be able to afford the good shit. She had been debating about whether or not she was going to continue to work at the club or not, fucking men at this point and taking her clothes off seemed to be so lack luster lately. Plus her debt to Charles thankfully was over then again it had been over since that entire thing with Lex and Dani went down, she could make her own choices about it. The only other interesting thing that had happened lately was with Jon Harrison but even that was fizzling out and she shook her head at it. Her parents weren’t around they’d moved to Arizona a few years bac leaving her with this awful fucking hald run down farm. When she’d called about the potential offer last week they were thrilled with the offer. She just had to have her aunt agree as well and she almost laughed at that. Aunt Brenda who could barely stand up straight on a good day, when she wasn’t drowning in the bottle she was way too pulled into her new little fancy life to worry about her. Hell she never even tried to help her when Charles ostracized her and she had to come back to this shit hole and start stripping at Club XES for money, she made it work while her cousins and her aunt lived in the lap of luxury it was her turn now. Walking to her closet she picked a midriff top out, lace bralette and a pair of worn jeans that showed off her curves before walking down the stairs.

Walking to the kitchen she went and grabbed the pot of coffee and poured herself a cup tasting the Folgers on her lips, it still tasted like dried cardboard half the time but when you had to scrimp and save it was what would have to do. She took a sip from the chipped ceramic mug being careful to not cut her lip in the process as she looked at the old stained linoleum floor what a fucking dump, at least it was paid for. The water and the electricity was still running though she had a feeling the water heater was going out and she looked over the field. It was mainly dirt now they hadn’t planted anything in years, her parents had sold most of the farm equipment to afford retiring. Plus it wasn’t like she was going to get her hands caked in dirt to plant shit, those hands were far too good at the skills she had acquired over the years and dirt under her nails was not something that her clients would appreciate. She picked up her phone texting Jon if he wanted to come over or meet at a hotel later, he had ghosted her ass a week ago. She saw the dirt appearing on the road as the car made its way up from the county road. The farm was a good hour drive from Atlas Falls, people like her in backwoods preferred it like that. The car when it stopped screamed money and the man that got out exuded it even more. Sebastian Navarro wine maker from Spain and stuck with that fucking tart Max Devonshire at the moment, payback to Max would be fun for all the times Max tortured her in high school. She opened the porch door seeing him looking around the farm. “You look lost. Sebastian Navarro I presume?” Maggie said, sauntering out of the house letting the sun beat down on her skin.

He’d taken his time looking over land, studying the layout of what the area around Atlas Falls had to offer. Sebastian knew exactly what was on offer and he knew exactly what he was looking for. The Thorpe Farm was the epitome of what he needed. It simply needed a little love, love that Sebastian could easily give the land. He’d already begun to make his plans, drawing up the way that he would reshape the property, all before he’d even been able to make a full offer on the property. But he wasn’t one to take no for an answer. He knew what he wanted and he’d go for it. And laying out his plans for this piece of land would perhaps take his mind off of Max and her response to her pregnancy. He could only try to get his fiance to make plans for their wedding, their childs’ nursery for so long. This would be the perfect distraction for him.

Driving out the property, he re-ran over the numbers in his mind. He went over every offer he was willing to make and the rebuttals that the Thorpe family might try to send his way. Sebastian was a man on a mission. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t going to leave until he had signatures on the contracts. But this land was everything. It might be in shambles now, but he had plans and he knew exactly what he needed to do in order to get it producing fruit within the next year or two. He parked and exited his car, he started looking over the area closest to the house. The house didn’t appear to be in the greatest shape, but it would become everything that he and Max needed for their little family one day. He turned the moment he heard the door opening, the voice reaching him a moment later. Grinning, he gave a short shake of his head. “Just looking around,” he replied reassuringly.

She was a beauty to be certain, but she was no Maximilla. Sebastian had foregone a more formal attire and dressed down slightly. He wore form fitting khakis with a dark button down shirt, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms, and the top three buttons undone. Removing his sunglasses, he tucked them into his shirt pocket and gave her his full attention. “You would be correct, Miss. Thorpe?” he asked, wanting to make certain he was speaking to the correct person now that he was out on the property that he was intent on purchasing before the sun set on the day.

“That’d be me.” Maggie said looking at him and almost licking her lips forget little Jon Harrison at this point he had money and lots of it. She’d fucked enough rich men to know when one was enough for her tastes and clearly he was. She let him get a feel for the land as she finished her cup of coffee from the porch quickly going inside to tug her jeans down just a little to show more skin before she headed back to the porch. She played up the country girl thing as she did so placing her hands in her pockets as she approached him noting the suit was clearly Prada or Armani he would do nicely. Who knew that Max had been hiding and keeping the creature all to herself and she in turn had been wasting her time with Jon Harrison. There of course had been other suitors over the years and had she had her way, Lex would have put a fucking ring on her finger until Dani blew that shit up. She was still angry over that the way they had been exposed she had been so close with Lex convincing him to leave Dani for her hell she had almost faked a fucking pregnancy for it to happen, then Dani lost her baby clearing the path. She remembered the day after that though Charles showing up and threatening her to keep her distance from his son she came home and had to start fucking stripping to make ends meet. “You are correct I’m Margaret Thorpe, but everyone calls me Maggie. Old nickname and rolls off the tongue much easier than Margaret.” She said smiling brightly reaching out and touching his shoulder.

Her other name Mercedes of course was reserved for clients and clients only whether that be ones that she worked on the streets and campaign trail for Charles and then the ones over at Club XES. However if this worked in her favor that meant that she would be able to move on from the club buy one of those swanky condos on the east side and live comfortably from there on out. “I was delighted that you agreed to come out to see the land honestly a bit surprised that Max isn’t here with you, her family has been after this land for years then again she’s always been a bit how do you say it selfish.” Maggie said seeing the look on his face clearly Max was still the same spoiled little rich girl that only cared about her ambitions and she faked earnestness when it came to his entire situation with her over it. “I’ve known Max since high school like most Devonshire’s if its not about them or DGI they really don’t care about anything else. Would you like a tour? I’m happy to go over the numbers again but I quite liked your offer that you sent over my aunt disagreed she should be here shortly.” Maggie said putting on that country good girl act that she was so fucking good at, she was much better at the bad girl that schemed for now though she was already working a web with the man in front of her.

Brenda’s town car and driver pulled up to her family’s old estate. Her heart was full at that moment of past regrets. She completely ignored her family and moved onto the Kincaid’s. Now look at her family’s legacy. It was tarnished. The soil she used to love to dig underneath her fingers looked dry, the barn was no longer full of animals, and her chicken coup was empty. The house she was born in and lived in until her seventeenth birthday. Brenda’s hands shook as she dug into her purse pulling out her flask. Emptying it as she greedily guzzled it down. She grabbed another mini bottle and filled it up with liquor. If she was going to die it would be happy and full of the thing that kept her warm at night. As knocked on the partition she stuffed her flask in her purse and popped a mint into her mouth. Placing her sunglasses on her face the fall was close and the weather had begun to shift. The warmness of Lake Everest was beginning to chill everything.

Looking at her niece a slew of emotions welled in her. She had her father’s strong features but was soft like her mother Daisy. She looked like a whore as usual with Maggie. She’d kept a busy life sleeping with one wealthy man after another. In many ways Maggie was a more basic version of her. She hadn’t hit the jackpot quite yet but she knew Maggie would snag someone one day. As she strutted up to the barn she smirked at her niece. “Margaret, are you giving Sebastian a hard time? Hello Mr. Navarro tell me exactly how much you are talking about. I don’t have much time and my family’s land well. Its soil might need tilling but I assure you this ground has made so much money for not just the Thorpe’s but everyone in this town.”

The first time he’d laid eyes on this land, he knew that it was perfect what he had planned. He knew that the Thorpe land would make for spectacular vineyards and he couldn’t wait to see just what the town of Atlas Falls would bring to his life. Sebastian already had Maximilla in his life and a son on the way, but he wanted the roots that this property would grant him. He stepped away from the porch, looking it all over again in a different manner, taking in the difference in time of day. The way that the sunlight streamed out from this spot. He could already see just where the vines would hang, bringing in a fresh crop of grapes ready to be turned in only the finest of wines Atlas Falls had ever had on offer. Slowly he turned, allowing his gaze to trail over everything including the house. Yes, the house would have to go. He had something else entirely in mind for his family, a little taste of his native Spain. A grand Spanish inspired villa that would be his own little slice of home for him, Max, and their baby. Sebastian could already see it all laid out before him in his minds eye, but he couldn’t allow Miss. Thorpe to know anything of his plans. Not yet. First he needed to talk her into selling this large parcel to him.

Turning back to the woman, he offered her a brilliant smile. “A pleasure to meet you, Miss. Thorpe,” he said, offering his tanned hand to her. Sebastian nodded his head, pulling his hand back when her hand lightly touched his shoulder. “This property is absolutely beautiful.” He nodded as he looked back out towards the open land. He had already fallen in love with the property and he knew that he needed to have it. He needed to remind Max of exactly what they had while they were in Spain, remind her of what made them fall in love in the first place. Help her to see in some way that their family should come first. Yes, he knew how she wanted to return to work immediately, knew that she was deadset on hiring a nanny to be the main caregiver of their son. It wasn’t exactly what he wanted, and he wanted to show her what all could be gained if she were to change her mind. He knew that their had to be something motherly inside of her that would reveal itself, he just had to wait until it shone through. More than likely, it would happen the moment their precious son was laid in her arms for the first time.  “It’s no problemo. I wanted to see the property once more and just  had to reassure myself that I had the connection to this piece of land that I knew I’d felt the first time I saw it.” Sebastian caught the slight dig at Max, but he kept his mouth shut. He knew exactly how his fiance could be. He knew that she could be selfish, he knew that she liked things her way, but there were things about her that Maggie didn’t know. He knew Maximilla in ways that most didn’t and that was what was important to him. “You didn’t have me come all the way out here to discuss Maximilla or the Devonshires, Maggie. But I am more than happy to go over those numbers again while we wait for your aunt to join us.”

Sebastian heard the car coming down the road and looked off into the distance, taking his attention away from Maggie momentarily. He watched as Brenda Kincaid stepped out of the town car and made her way down to the barn where they had been discussing the numbers once more. “No hard time at all, Mrs. Kincaid.” Sebastian said in greeting, holding out his hand to the older woman. “I can assure you that my offer is more than substantial enough to cover the properties value and it is the best offer you’re likely to get. This land needs work to return to its’ former glory. And I’m a man that is more than willing to get a little dirt on his hands to make certain that this land can will be fertile and provide for this town for many generations to come.” And he would do just that. He had always been hands on when it came to ensuring that he was growing only the best product. The Navarro name would make its’ mark on Atlas Falls.

Maggie almost rolled her eyes when he didn’t want to discuss Max didn’t he know that all Devonshire’s only thought of themselves and loved to talk about themselves. Who did he think he was marrying if rumor was right, the Waltons? Regardless, she’d let Max roll all over herself and her mistakes and he’d soon find out what it meant to be with the real Maximilla, not whatever fake version of entertainment she was selling him at the moment. “I’m actually glad you could come out and take a look its been a while since we’ve had someone that knew what to do with the dirt. Does it look like I get my hands dirty?” Maggie asked as innocently as she could if he only knew he’d never leave her bed. Men only left her bed when the funds ran out, she wanted more, was bored or their wives found out. She walked to him shaking her hips slowly as she did and rolled her eyes when her aunt pulled up fucking old ass bat was clearly cramping her style. She only cared about the farm suddenly when they were about to make a fortune and people called her a gold digger.

“I see you’ve met my aunt, you know your new girlfriend’s former mother-in law. Hello Brenda surprised that you made it back daddy always said you’d forgotten about us little people.” Maggie said her distaste for her aunt clearly on display; she hardly cared about the farm in all her years since she’d married Steven. She couldn’t even bother to help her either the entire Lex situation instead she’d been sent back home and told to make some money to help out. Lowering herself from the lucrative clients she held in Pittsburgh to working in the strip club for Ronan and Philip. “I’m sure my aunt has to go home and stew over what my uncle was doing or has an important meeting to attend.” She refrained from saying word a bottle it wasn’t a secret her aunt was an alcoholic hell she was surprised she didn’t crash on the way to the farm. “I am very interested in discussing the numbers. We don’t come from much but I would hope you aren’t trying to lowball us.” She finished as she almost huffed so much for the seduction angle at the moment. Clearly that wasn’t happening now she’d have to call Jon up later.

“I only forgot the little people. I always tried to come back for you and your siblings.” She said with an arrogance in her voice to let her niece know it wasn’t just her. Her father blocked his very own blessings she tried to take them years ago but he preferred them to live in squalor. She would never let her nieces and nephews live in this run down shack. It looked bad on her behalf. Fluffing her hair she walked up and looked at Maggie. “My name is on the deed as well as is my late brother meaning your father. So he won’t lowball us. Nor will you be the only one getting the money. You see I don’t want a penny from this podunk little farm girl. I want to make sure your little greedy paws don’t take everything from your siblings.” It was no secret Maggie was a hellcat and she seemed to be ready to take a bite out of Sebastian. To be young and that beautiful but that insecure. Brenda saw so many traits of herself and wondered if Kendall would have been like that if she sent her to live with Daisy and her brother. So ambitious and so willing to do anything to come up she remembered that feeling. “I don’t care the price you are offering Sebastian but it will be substantial. They deserve that and Maggie when you’re done showing Sebastian the property again please come see me. I have an offer for you I think you’d appreciate.” Oh she couldn’t stand the little vamp but she was family.

Brenda walked into the old barn and her hands began to shake. It was dirty and didn’t look the same but she saw where Walter carved a heart into the barn. Years ago when she was so messed up and in love. All the men and all the drama maybe she could guide Maggie away from the heartbreak. So she wouldn’t slip underneath secrets and sins. She still hadn’t gotten from underneath the things she carried and maybe if she could protect someone. Maybe God would have mercy on her soul one day when it was her time. Watching them walking away. She wondered if she could ever save anyone when she always herself was in need of saving. She had more secrets and more lies to tell. Redemption was never in her grasp.

Sebastian offered Maggie a smile. If she thought that he would say anything about his fiance to her or anyone else, he wouldn’t. He kept his mouth shut and simply didn’t discuss his relationship with anyone not in the relationship. “No, I don’t believe you do.” he replied easily. If Maggie knew what to do with the dirt, she and her family wouldn’t be selling this beautiful piece of land. It was magnificent. He couldn’t wait to get out here with his crew, rebuild and repurpose this land into fresh vineyards. He would make it what they could no longer do. He was already working through the layout of the land, seeing where he’d place the vines for the grapes that would make the best of wines. As he turned to look up at the house, he knew exactly what it would need to make it into a home for himself, Maximilla, and their son. “Yes, I’ve heard of Mrs. Kincaid.” he stated, turning to face the older of the two women.

He held his hand out to Brenda, knowing exactly who she was. He knew what Max had to say about the woman, what he’d heard around town about her. How she was more than likely already drunk as she stepped out of the back of her car. And now he could tell just how Maggie felt about her aunt. Sebastian was more than ready to sign the paperwork though, his offer was more than fair and would surely support the Thorpe family for years to come. His attention turned to Brenda, quietly taking in everything that she was saying to her niece. There was obviously something there between the two women, something far deeper than he cared to dig into in that moment. His main focus was to get this deal taken care of. “I’m certain that my offer is more than fair for the land as is.” he commented to Brenda, offering her another smile. He watched as the older female walked off towards the barn before turning back to Maggie. “Shall we?”

Maggie wanted to scream at her aunt and her nosey ways if handling things couldn’t she just go find a bottle somewhere? Regardless she knee better on when to continue to try and fuck a man and eventually to cool it down a tone. This clearly needed to be the time to tone it down the last thing she needed was her drunk tart of an aunt babbling her mouth and ruining her opportunity again. She turned to Sebastian with the brightest smile she could, honestly as long as the money was enough to get her off this hell hole of land and move her into one of the posher condos in town she would sign on whatever line he fucking wanted. “Ignore her she likely had a few on the way over and rumor is that Walter Fraiser is no longer interested. I’m happy to show you around while we talk numbers and then you are welcome to have it after I sign on the dotted line.” Maggie said as sickly sweet as she could placing her hands in her pockets and almost grumbling as she did so.


Pierre glanced down at the text on his phone from Tess and a smile formed on his lips quite the development indeed. Closing the screen he picked up his espresso before taking a sip and then waiting on his guests. He’d been planning his revenge for years. Greer infiltrating DGI was just the tip of the iceberg. He now had Walter’s wayward daughter involved in his scheme to extract revenge on both Walter and Lowell in one fell swoop. But the real treat would be after Lowell died when his company and children were vulnerable and desperate for leadership. He had waited in the shadows for years planning this moment where this threat would come in and shake up everyone that had betrayed him over the years. Now that he had Tess firmly on his side, he knew now was the time to strike while the iron was burning hot. He’d already gotten a hold of the best forger he knew was on that little bit of a snag they hit. The only thing in the way currently was Harvey, Harvey and his sentimental feelings towards Lauren and her fucking children with Walter. He warned him years ago Lauren would never leave and take Braden with her to leave with him, hell during his trial when he discovered Lauren’s baby wasn’t his that didn’t break Harvey’s weak heart for her. Freya had for a moment in time he remembered that moment where he told Freya to stop her birth control to take what she was due. It had with Bode and then Gunner, Willow was a surprise and another in a list of women Harvey couldn’t shake in his live for Lauren Cummings.

It didn’t matter now Harvey could either get on board at LeClerq Media or get the hell out it was up to him. He and Greer controlled the majority; mostly Bode was too busy offshore scuba diving to save the world. Gunner tried to break into some dance company somewhere and Willow was a musician. Tapping his finger on the table he looked at his watch he hated to be kept waiting. He looked at the menu and ordered them a bottle of 1946 Chateau Lafite Rothschild five grand was just a small price to pay for their celebration that would happen. The downfall of DGI and he smiled at the text from Dru Price saying that things were already happening on her end, she would be his sacrificial lamb if needed. Between her and Tess, this was the perfect time to bring in the last of his puzzle piece to make sure that DGI was formally rocked to its core. Taking out Forbes and their alliance along the way was just a bonus at this point, their little game with Zerick of course was fun while it lasted but Forbes never checked those around him, always focused on only Lowell. He saw her the moment she stepped out of the town car of course with her husband and waved at them from the patio the Paris lights and night sky illuminating them with the candle on the table. He had still been debating what he was going to order on the menu when they both took a seat across from them. “You’re both late and you know that I don’t like to be kept waiting.” Pierre said, looking at them both before swirling his wine in his glass and taking a long sip.

Paris in the summer was always so intoxicating for her. She’d lived many lives in Europe, Beijing, Dubai, and her last home was in Africa. The feeling of home never left her though, Atlas Falls was home. With a sleek catlike walk she strutted to Pierre LeClerq. Time had aged him but she hadn’t. Fine black skin as hers doesn’t crack. He was still ruggedly handsome and had mischief still in his eyes. Which meant he’d betray them in a heartbeat. She wasn’t a fool in fact you don’t fake your death and get away with it without having some wit about yourself. Most people thought Jeremiah was in charge which was even more foolish. He was a brilliant lawyer but running an energy company wasn’t in his wheelhouse. She had cultivated a career with being stronger, and better than her white counterparts. Hell if she wouldn’t have faked her death then DGI would have been hers. Now she didn’t want it. She’d much rather cripple the company and take what she wanted from it. Piece by piece and leave Lowell’s legacy nothing more than a bad memory. Removing her box cut trench coat revealing a sleek cheetah print cocktail dress and thigh high Louboutin boots with cheetah print on the custom boots. She picked up the wine glass and poured herself some. As she smiled at him. “A woman of my caliber comes and goes when she pleases. Time isn’t real and you and I both know that Lowell’s time is up. That’s why you called this meeting. Now is everything ready for my big return?”

Gloria Delacroix Beecher cocked her head at Pierre. “We will have the escargot a la bourguignonne, brie cheese, another bottle of Dom Perigon oenotheque and please bring me a mineral water with freshly squeezed lime.” Handing the menu to the waiter without as much as looking at him. She leaned back in her chair as she looked at Jeremiah who seemed alarmed she was coming back in the public. “Pierre I’ve lived a very long time, I crawled out of the gutter of Atlas Falls. Scottwood to be exact and I have made more of myself than any silly spoiled white boy has.” Referring to Lowell because she honestly hated him at this point. “I left my children because of Lowell and I won’t forget that. I also left because of Tony but I got him now didn’t I?” She looked at Jeremiah. “I want them to suffer and I want my baby girl to rise. She’s been in the shadows far too long. It’s time for some sun to shine on her. I’m just glad she didn’t get wrapped up in Dimitri Kavanaugh shit. Hugo ought to be ashamed of what he raised.” She’d been in Isla De Cruces a time or two. “Now let’s get to business. What do you want for helping me rise from the dead?”

Pierre watched her enter the restaurant like she owned it of course she did and he simply nodded to Jeremiah to silently took a seat at the table as well. BA Energy would be the wrench that they need to take down DGI or at least pull SandStar to them he watched and knew one thing Natasha Hassan was always going to do what was best for her. He had reached out to Ramses after that dreadful wedding Chauncey was a creature of habit now that Greer was set on Brock Fraiser he knew it would only be a matter of time before Chuancey was chasing her down trying to get into her bed again, Natasha would be at home or with Anderson Kincaid. She thought that Anderson was her savor, she had a thing or two to learn about American culture and politics and she would have to learn the hard way it seemed. Prestigious women like Cara Young, now Kincaid didn’t just let their husbands go to the mistress. Chauncey was still in love with Greer he knew that much and his daughter knocked up with another mans’s baby he was sure was going to drive Chauncey to push Natasha right to them. Meaning then Dru could do her end with Jackson and his wife, meaning SandStar was a solid for BA Energy, picking up his glass he looked at Gloria.

“I thought we could go over the specifics when it came to your triumphant return to the land of the living back in Atlas Falls. Now that I control a major media outlet in the states I can make your return a tale of the ages, desperate mother that was unhappy wanted to spread her wings, Hell you want we can paint it that it was Lowell that made you fake your death. I think it is smart to have a plan for your return Tess has contacted me, Lowell made his decision on CEO. It’s close now he’s deteriorating every single day. She needs to be in full control for your little takeover of SandStar to happen negate the power back a bit.” Pierre said as he looked at her seeing her wanting to fight with him about it when he looked over at the waiter simply handing him the menu as he did looking over at Jeremiah who was no doubt answering emails for his firm. Sending Jeremiah back to the funeral for Tony had been a good mind fuck in his opinion it got Selina curious about her parents, gave enough gumption to start to question loyalty when it came to Lowell and Chauncey. “The Summit Ball that is happening I think that yes you should both be in town but only Jeremiah should show up as our representative. You showing up just tells the world you’re here and wouldn’t that surprise be better served once DGI is in fucking ruins on their knees. I want DGI to burn off to be sold off bit by bit to undo everything that Lowell and Walter especially ever did for it. Tess can assure us that will happen, she can sell at DGI’s lowest to you.” Pierre simply said looking at her.

“That energy summit could be my grand return. Why would I have wait? Jeremiah runs a law firm. I’ve always been the brains behind every choice at Beecher Energy. Now I am not about to sit back and lollygag any longer. You see my daughter is digging and I’m not sure I like what she might be onto. I don’t want Selina to have a clue of me being alive until I’m ready. Now facts are just that Lowell and I ran into some issues so to speak. Plus I wouldn’t be leaving the man I love more than life itself. Jeremiah was my rock and I couldn’t do what Forbes, Walter, and to some extent Lowell did. Be trapped in a relationship I didn’t want. Now if Selina figures out that I’m alive then all we have done, all our planning all would be for nothing. I’m not ready to lose are you? Then thought your lovely daughter was the only missile we are aiming at the Devonshire dynasty. The bomb has always been there and her name is Selina. My daughter will choose her legacy over the Devonshire’s. We will get SandStar away from DGI and start dismantling the shiny new energy division revamp. It’s just that simple but you’re saying you want me to sit back in the cut and act like I’m not that bitch. Keep letting my man act like he knows what he’s doing. That’s nice and all but I’m not that bitch anymore.” Gloria leaned forward and crossed her hand as the waiter returned with their food and the other bottle of wine.

“Did you know I’ve been in Atlas Falls? I visited a month or two ago. I went to see an old friend and sadly he isn’t here anymore. I won’t be denied my children anymore. I may have left but Lowell, and Tony would have killed me if they knew everything. It was better to die the way I died. A faint memory but understand this and hear me well. I won’t be dealing with all this waiting. I’ve waited long enough. Now if you can’t speed this up then tell Tess to do it. Lowell’s death will make Forbes mighty antsy to get his hands on Tess. He’s on death’s door; a push might not hurt to help me regain my life. I’m not saying kill him but I’m not saying not to kill him. Unless you’re afraid that I’d get everything I want and you’ll be left with nothing. Media empire or not Pierre you want back in this race now Harvey. He doesn’t want any part in it now does he? Have you told him how far you’ve gone? How is the noble Harvey LeClerq?”

“Your grand return would be ruined we don’t have anything set up yet at DGI for the takeover that we need. Tess should have the paperwork soon but you also have to know that Lowell always has a backup plan. Meaning you popping up sharing a glass of champagne and then trying to take SandStar without guarantees in place simply isn’t the best move. Selina there or not, Selina who would bend over backwards for her loyalty to Lowell and Chauncey.” Pierre said looking at Gloria and calling her bluff they went in guns blazing without even so much as sweeping to Natasha a whiff of their plan or what they had in place the deal was as good as dead in the water. DGI would never sell SandStar back or release them from the contract until certain things were in place and frankly Tess needed to be CEO for that to happen. “I don’t plan on losing as long as you agree to keep following the current path and plan. I’m sticking my neck out for your Gloria it would be easy to give Selina a few bones here and there a few planted stories. Hell look at what Forbes and I were able to do with Zerick and poor Katie with a few words. Natasha is on no one’s side at the moment but she will be after Jeremiah introduces himself to her at the Summit.” He waved the waiter off as he took a bite of the food before looking at her again.

“I heard you paid a dear friend a visit that ended badly and then hightailed it back before even a whisper got out. I’m a patient man while you and everyone else got free reign and passes to do what you wanted. I plotted and planned in a prison cell. A cell that I remind you that your husband helped send me too. I haven’t forgotten that before your death Jeremiah was the one that advised Lowell to make me his fall guy.” Pierre said looking at her and cutting his eyes at Jeremiah, he hadn’t forgotten but teaming with them gave him exactly what he wanted Lowell’s ultimate downfall. At the time he had wanted Forbes or even Walter to stick up for him and when neither did that was when he turned on them and he looked at her when she mentioned Harvey and huffed. “Harvey doesn’t really have a seat or say in this development. I’ve chosen it wouldn’t be wise to tell him. He wouldn’t be thrilled that we are going after his precious Lauren’s daughters livelihood seeing how he desperately wanted and wished she was his for years. I was thrilled when she was revealed to be Walter’s brat the devastating look on Harvey’s face was exhilarating.” Pierre said looking good at Gloria prepared if needed to strike out on his own if he needed

“I sent you to jail because you weren’t ready to take down Lowell and you were sappy with Agnes if I’m being honest. I didn’t have that with Tony up until the moment I arrived back into his life. Call me jealous because I didn’t know what love was until I had this man.” She picked up Jeremiah hand. “I have had four children, two boys and two girls but my eldest kids. They deserve to know me. They deserve to have a mother and not Jackie Devonshire’s white ass mothering them. She’s got enough strays and I ain’t letting her get ahold of my babies anymore. I faked my death and lost everything. You lost Pierre? Try not knowing if you’d ever be able to see your children. Faking your own death while actually going through chemotherapy and unsure if you truly were going to make it. Look, we can go back and forth Pierre or we can talk about some real business. We’ve provided you with what you need to finally take over and destroy DGI. It holds horrible memories for us both. You lost your wife and daughter and I lost my children. I did things for Lowell that I thought were for the greater good. You can understand that because your hands were clean but you let him take over Walter’s ideas. So in my eyes we are both complicit with Lowell’s rise to power.” Gloria said as she leaned forward looking at him.

“So I guess my question is simple? Do you want DGI or do you want to destroy DGI. If its the latter then the deal is still on. If however I feel like your emotional attachments to Tess Blisston is urgent then I’ll have no problem taking you out. This is war and I intend on B.A. Energy being on top along with my daughter and son. They will rise to power henceforth unknown to even us. I refuse to have my kids secondary any longer to those Devonshire brats. When the Montgomery’s, Fraiser’s, LeClerq’s and even the Delacroix’s have all contributed to their success without as much as a mention in the media. We know the secrets but do everyone else. I want not only a glowing return from the dead but I want a expose on DGI as soon as possible. I want people to know a black women, two French men, and a guy from Atlas Falls were the ones that made this happen for DGI, not some dying old white man.” She crossed her arms over her breast. “So do we have a deal?”

No one disrespected Agnes, no one of course he was soft when it came to the love of his life, something that he lost deeply, Gloria was too stubborn to know how devoted Tony was to her instead she started this little affair with Jeremiah. Her crying over her choices to fake her death now was laughable. She knew what she was doing all those years ago, she had a choice Agnes never did. Now that he knew what she wanted and was about though he could use it to his advantage tell Tess to sell to BA Energy once she was in power, they could all win and if it went the other way he could just as easily twist Tess and the entire situation back to him. “I would tell you to mind your mouth about Agnes, Gloria. She isn’t a part of your revenge scheme and I would like to think I still lost more than you ever did. You were happy to let a nanny raise your children while you warmed Jeremiah’s bed and drug poor Tony around like the little lost puppy he was. Agnes never had a say in leaving, you did.” Pierre said gripping his fork in his hand while he took a bite of his food, he’d seen things in prison, witnessed things, made a few friends along the way.

Looking at them both he kept his composure Tess was a lot of things but he thought above all else she was a true friend to him and she was Agnes’s best friend. They had history together and honestly it was Tess’s time to get what was due to her and in his mind that was the title of CEO to do with DGI as she pleased either cataploting it to new heights or selling it off bit by bit. “I want Lowell and the Devonshire family to suffer like I have Gloria like you have and I don’t care about where the pieces fall in order to achieve that. Selina is still chasing after Chauncey not even realizing her own greatness doesn’t fall in line to man that has used her for years. Mason is too busy planning his wedding to Zach Fraiser and he’s a lawyer don’t see him coming to fruition as this corporate mastermind you want him to be. Meaning I think when the time is right you’ll pop back up and take back what is yours I’m just not quite sure who will be on your side while you do it.” Pierre said taking a sip of his wine seeing the utter horror on her face at the news about Mason and Zach and he wanted to laugh. Greer being involved with Brock was proving to be at least useful as that weapon against the woman across from him. “As cute as this meeting has been, you can show up when the time is right to implode things especially if you want that spread that you crave. Besides, doesn’t Jeremiah need to get his beauty rest to go pretend to be that business mastermind tomorrow in order to get Natasha to start to think about an alliance with BA Energy over DGI at the Summit?”

“Don’t you need to pimp out your own child? Watch your tone when speaking to me Pierre.” Gloria warned as she leaned in. “Atlas Falls has no idea what is coming up and I suggest you don’t tell me what to do. If I want to return when I return so be it but just know when I do come home if it’s any funny business I will not show mercy. I got rid of you once, don’t forget it either and don’t think I won’t do it again.” She took Jeremiah’s hand as she stood up. “You’re paying Pierre ciao.” Gloria got into the limo as she took out her heart shaped locket with a picture of Selina and Mason on the other side. “I’m coming home my babies, I’m coming to give you what you’ve been denied.”