3×10 “Solar Sunshine”

3X10 “Solar Sunshine”
Written by: Chris Coleman, Kristi Clark, Ashley Stoddard and Kelly Zollo
Theme Song: Colorblind- Counting Crows
Warning: Episode may contain violence, sex and adult themes.

The mansion was glowing in beautiful twinkling lights. It made her stomach tighten because she knew what she was about to do. It had been a long road to get here but tonight she was about to get everything she ever wanted. She was about to be at the top of the food chain after all these years. Pierre had found her a world class forger and she saw the new will. It looked perfect and soon Lowell would die. When he died she’d get everything she ever wanted. She’d make sure her daughters were the sole heirs of the great Lowell Devonshire. With her as CEO and Bliss as her COO DGI would go into the new age with a fresh set of eyes. It was hard feeling as if she was about to betray the man she’d loved her entire life. However he thought she was stupid. He thought he could get one up on her one last time. Enough was enough. She spent her youth chasing him and now he was going to embarrass her? That was enough to drive Tess crazy. Jackie had everything handed to her, from the time she was born. All of Tess resented that Jackie had it easy and she had to work for her future. Touching impeccably designed Terani silver crystal beaded fringe ornate dress. She felt like tonight was her night. After all she had been through she felt like this is what she deserved to hurt him for all the years of pain.

She could remember a time when Lowell promised to leave Jackie. She could remember the beach trips she would go on in Aruba with Bliss. She could remember giving up Belle because it was already too hard looking at Bliss. She had those sparkling eyes and her laugh was just like Lowell’s. They all had that snide giggle and she actually resented her girls. A piece of them hated Bliss and Belle because they’d get something she never got from Lowell, unconditional love. He never gave his heart to her completely, maybe they weren’t meant to be but Tess felt empty at this moment. That she spent her entire life trying to have something she’d never achieve. She could remember her mother telling her about her father’s affairs and how it killed her. Tess could almost see how her past had affected her future. She loved Lowell with all she had and she needed him so badly it hurt at times. He however was still lusting after Jackie and still longed to be with Jackie after all these years. But she wouldn’t lose again. Her entire life she made herself be second to Jackie. She had already ended a over thirty year marriage. Why not go for everything else? Why not have it all? She could feel her stomach balling up as she touched the wall. Everything was happening so fast. Would Belle love her? Would Bliss understand? Could her girls stand with her or would they go against her. She understood Belle would be horrified with her for what she was about to do. Nothing a cool billion wouldn’t fix. Slowly slinking her way through her eyes were fixated on the podium. Where he was going to announce that Jackson would be the CEO. How disgraceful to give it to Jackie’s favorite when Chauncey was the clear candidate that should win this war. He’d spent years going up against plenty of rivals and Jackson was the perceived golden boy. Neither of them would wear the crown. As she picked up a champagne flute she clutched her stomach. The nerves were poking at her spirit. Is this really who she was? This conniving and this malicious? A tap on the shoulder startled her.

“What in the hell do you want?” Tess said with a cool aloofness. “I’m here to see that my future is secure and my livelihood is protected. So you can watch as I do something you could never do.”

He’d watched Tess from the moment she walked in. When he received an invitation to the Energy Summit, he was honestly shocked. This was Lowell’s grand farewell. Maybe he wanted to make it a special goodbye but why shouldn’t he be here? He helped fund and create DGI in the beginning and he’d never forgive Lowell for all the moves he made against him. The lies, the affair with his wife, and the ostracizing of his children. That wasn’t something any man could just willingly forget. Well that pathetic son of a bitch Walter had forgiven but he would always suffer. After all the horrible Walter did and him not backing him in the lawsuit years ago. Well that completely ruined whatever association the Montgomery’s and Fraiser’s had. Picking up a flute of champagne from a waitress who he dared to speak to him. Stepping closer to Tess and touching her perfect face. She looked beautiful but he also saw her fear of whatever she had planned. “I let you go Tess.”

“I didn’t let you go down for that entire mess with Camille and Zerick. I didn’t drag you down and let you get your happy ending. Tell me is being Ms. Devonshire all you ever hoped for. Rumors swirl in fact Greer has a blind item in the newspaper saying a woman who has it all is very unhappy. Is it because Lowell is constantly lusting after Jackie? Even though his body shrivels and he can’t even be in the same room as you longer than a few moments? Everyone knows you have the ring but Jackie has the heart. It just has to eat you. Whatever you are planning today I suggest you don’t forget our deal. I want DGI alive or dead. I want him to know even in the past. So if I don’t get what I want my bobble head Barbie Belle will somehow get into an accident or poor little Bliss all heartbroken. She can’t catch a break. Maybe the brakes of her car could stop her pain?”

Tess turned away being Lowell’s wife and conversing with Forbes wasn’t ever a good look. Instead of just standing here taking a threat of her girls, she backhanded Forbes. Immediately walking into his face. “Whatever I have planned is for me and not you. Whatever your reasoning for not ratting me out is your business Forbes. I owe you nothing but what you just received and if you ever threaten my girls again, I assure you your balls will be in my vice grip. I’m warning you that I’m nothing like the docile Audrey who was no doubt afraid of you. I’m not and I’m not giving you the time of day to further be in my presence. I’m above all of this and when I breathe my last breath it won’t be from you. You won’t kill me because I’m the only person in the world who can ring your bell. I know some of the horrible shit you did to Zerick in the past. I know all the things you have hidden and I also have something on you. Being Lowell’s wife is quite interesting. I have unmatchable power right now and I suggest you remember who your friends are and who your enemies are.” Tess said back with a special amount of spice. Picking up her dress she looked at him. “I should be leaving.” That’s when she felt him grab her wrist.

Forbes rubbed his red cheek from the empact as he touched the corner of his eye and saw a droplet of blood. He held her wrist tightly as he looked at her, staring at her. “I know who my enemies are and I’ve held up my end of our bargain. If you don’t, I swear Tess, I’ll end you. I won’t stand by and let baby Jackson and little boy Chauncey carry on my legacy. Walter and I built that company and we got nothing. The LeClerq’s did also but what did Devonshire do? Sit pretty and mingle with the crowd. Sadly I know that none of us were charismatic as he was but I don’t think our life work deserved to be stolen. Somehow history has contorted me to the bad guy. Somehow my life has been cursed since he took advantage of all of us. Nobody looks at us as victims now and we are. Pierre put his all into DGI, Harvey, Walter, and myself. Without us this house we stand in wouldn’t be. I refuse not to get mine. Those men can be alright with it and if you betray me. You know what you’re right bitch your daughters deserve so much more. I wouldn’t hurt them but you, you’re free game and I’ll destroy you Tess just as I broke Audrey, and anyone else in my way. I’ll break you. Now do you know who it is?”

Tess laughed in his face. “Of course I do. I know exactly who he has picked as his successor and I personally will be stopping it. Tonight I’ll make sure Lowell is subdued but I don’t and won’t be second to you or any man anymore. I have spent a lifetime loving someone who never could love me. Possibly one day you’ll get what you want but think twice about it being tomorrow. That’s my advice to you. To batten down every hatch because hurricane Tess is here. I’m here to gain everything that you men have taken from me. My youth loving a man who hasn’t given me anything but sorrow. You who threaten me and even Pierre who uses me to further his own revenge. All men have done to me is use me and I’m sorry if you believed it was your time in the spotlight. No Forbes, it’s my time to shine and never look back. I have had enough of you and this conversation.”

“What would Lowell think about you twisting Katie’s mind Tess?” Forbes said menacingly low as he leaned in. “He hasn’t touched you has he? He isn’t satisfying a vibrant woman like you, leaving you to your own self indulgence. Whatever tonight brings, maybe I can get the ultimate revenge one night with Lowell’s wife.” Forbes said with such smarm that he even knew how disgusting he sounded. “I won’t lose DGI in the end. I’ll die before I give up Tess and you and whomever he chooses will have war. I will not stop until I’m dead. Somehow this conversation was even more electrifying and you’re shaking dear. All that bravado and you still understand I’ll cut out your heart for what is rightfully mine. So stiffen your upper lip my dear and please remember my words if I don’t get what I want. For years of being second to a man who isn’t brilliant as I. I will make you all suffer if I don’t get DGI sooner than later. And whenever you’re ready Ms. Devonshire, my bed is warm enough for two.” Forbes said as he let her go and then leaned in kissing her forehead for dramatic affect.

Grabbing her wrist Tess walked to the bathroom and locked the door. Slumping to the floor as she began to cry into her hands. What she was about to do was underhanded and her children may never forgive her. She just couldn’t just let go of what Lowell had done to her. How did he married her to just keep her in line? Did he ever even love her? She had wasted every moment of her youth chasing a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. She began to bawl, crying out loud. What did it matter now? Everyone will remember her name after tonight. After tonight she would be the only Ms.Devonshire that mattered. She would have all the power and that was what she deserved. Nothing Lowell planned would come into fruition because she was shattered and all their dreams had to shatter as well. Nobody would get a happy ending if she couldn’t have hers. Standing up she gasped as she looked into the mirror. Her hand shook slightly as she unzipped her clutch and texted someone to upload the video of Belle and David during Lowell’s presentation. Pulling out her compact she began to apply her Chanel foundation on her face. She needed to look her best tonight because she was going to claim her future.  Then she made her call. “Yes Marisa has Mr. Devonshire left home? He did take all of his medicine didn’t he? Yes I just believe it’s going to be a long night for him. I just want to make sure Lowell has his strength.” Sliding her finger across the screen she smiled applying lipstick. “Let the games begin.”


Bliss rubbed her small little swollen belly. This kid was already taking form and her husband was nowhere to be found. That hurt her that he was missing these moments. The first time the baby moves, a kick, and even when she gives birth to the little boy or girl. She knew Hunter was a father to Fox but the truth was that this is his first biological child and that meant he would want to witness every moment. He was missing moments as she flared out her gown. She looked around and saw Max, Rory, Aspen and Sebastian. Honestly she just wanted to be alone. Her husband wasn’t here and that made her ache. She pulled that trigger and yet here he was in jail alone and refusing to see her. That made her feel even more alone. Tears burned in her eyes as she looked at the koi fishes floating through the pond. She picked up her dress and saw her father sitting inside of his wheelchair looking more alive than he had in a long time. He had color in his cheeks and his eyes had the same childish mischief it used to when he used to visit. She slowly approached her father and took his hands as she sat down beside him. It must feel awful strange to not be in the home he created with the woman he truly loved. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out he didn’t truly love her mother. That did sting because honestly she did love Tess. She was all she had at one point but with the constant schemes and lies she found it harder each day to trust in her. Gripping her father’s hand she didn’t say anything she understood that her daddy just was there.

“Hey.” She said softly as he leaned in and kissed her cheek. “I’ve been meaning to call you back but with Jackie and Brenda fighting over the baby room and my mother also coming over to check on me. It’s been a little hectic.” She didn’t want Lowell to be around the drama of Jackie, Brenda, or Tess. Jackie was too painful for him to be around, Brenda always had a snide comment about Lowell because she gave up Kendall years ago with his help, and her mother it seemed honestly like Lowell couldn’t stand to be in the very room as her. “I guess it’s hard seeing you get weaker. You were a God in my eyes and honestly Zeus had nothing on you. It’s hard seeing you like this.” She didn’t expect to say it but when it came out it was a relief and Lowell kissed her hand. Bliss didn’t know why but she began to get teary. She was already a crier so this was even worse because her hormones were so out of whack. “I’ve missed you.”

“As have I.” Lowell said, wiping his daughter’s eyes. “I first want to say, you all are handling my illness in your own ways. I know this can’t be easy for you and Belle. In fact I think me getting sick is one of the most unfair things I’ve ever done to you both. Belle had a family but you were sent to boarding school after boarding school until you fell in the arms of Dimitri. I don’t know how to apologize enough for not being the father you needed. I somehow let you get a warped sense of what love is through your mother and my mess of a relationship. That wasn’t love and I want you to know no man has the right to ever hurt you. I’ve failed so much in life that I’m not sure how to fix it. I will die with the regret that you didn’t know you’re beyond special. Too special to let a man abuse you and I will die knowing I didn’t protect my little girl and that is something I should burn in hell for. I’m not a praying man but I pray that God sees how repentant I am.” He took her hands into his. Looking at his daughter he felt the urge to hold her and let her express whatever it was she was feeling. So he just pulled Bliss into another embrace.

It felt good holding his daughter in his arms. Lowell knew that his wayward behavior led to Bliss believing that she wasn’t due for love. At first her relationship with Hunter was taboo but when he saw how pure and how delicate their love was well he was jealous. Once upon a time ago he had that with a woman and he saw Jackie walking with Fox around the party. His grandson sure knew how to wear a tux already. He just assumed that was the prince’s genetics with a splash of Devonshire. He liked to think that Maddie, Fox, Jolene, and Donovan would some day run DGI. “Tell me Bliss what has it been like for you to be without Hunter? Is there anything I can do to lessen your stress. I know you’re pregnant with another one of my grandchildren.” Lowell touched her belly as he felt her soft hands cover his own. “I am so sorry Bliss for everything.”

Bliss already felt like she was going to look a mess after this conversation. Just seeing her impeccable father looking so fragile and weak. With what looked like the limitations to his body were permanent. He would be in a damn wheelchair for the remainder of his time on earth. Her God-like beloved daddy was just a man and a man who was dying. She wiped her eyes as she shook her head. Unless he had a way to get Hunter out of the jam he was in. Unless he had a way to free her husband, then it was nothing he could do. “I’m sad because Fox is beginning to ask for him and the baby is moving. I felt a flutter the other day and dropped a glass in the kitchen. I called for my husband and he wasn’t there. This is cruel and hurts because he couldn’t see me go to jail for a crime. Yet somehow he got me flowers and refuses to see me. He’s locked up like an animal to protect our family. A family he wants so badly and I need him with me.  I don’t know if I could love him anymore but I’m so full of anger at him. I’m so mad, also daddy. He just jumped on a grenade and didn’t even consider that he was my other half. You don’t have to pretend with me. I see how you look at Jackie and mummy.” She said, mocking Belle. He seemed to get a hearty chuckle out of that.

“It just I know true love after being abused. I know what it feels like and I know what it should be. I have opened my heart to getting the love I deserve and I won’t let him go down for this. We are a team and I guess that’s why I’m mad at him. He just took all the responsibility from me. He just swooped in like Superman and saved the day. But what if I needed to save myself? What if I needed to fall on that sword. Daddy I shot and killed a psycho and maybe I should be dealing with that. Selina and Jackie and Tamara don’t deserve this and I did it. I killed Dimitri, you know? It just hurts that Hunter seemed to think I couldn’t carry my weight. I’m right here. I’m right here ready to take responsibility and ready to face anything but not if he won’t communicate with me. Like how dare he not see me, I’m infuriated. I’m lost but most of all I’m hurting because I love him and he has shown me what true unconditional love is. So I know when you look at Jackie and when you look at mom. I know who you want your last days with.” Bliss bit her lip as he held onto her hands so tight she felt like she could feel how much love he was sending her.

“Surely you know how much I love you. How much you mean to me and I will say this that you need not worry about Hunter. Express your rage when he comes home because Bliss the one thing other than the CFO position I want to give you. Is your husband. Hunter is a good man and nobody should have to pay for what happened with Dimitri. I feel like you ensured he had a safe transition into his future as a prince and eventual king. You will listen to me Bliss the Devonshire are born into greatness and you have shown that you aren’t the exception not just by your diligence but your perseverance this position suits you. You, my daughter, are brilliant with money. You hid around the world in luxury away from a psychopath until you couldn’t anymore. You are an inspiration. You are a force and you are a Devonshire so doubt yourself less and don’t you cry over Dimitri Kavanaugh. No more tears for that man. Remember you did what needed to be done to end so many women’s misery. You are a hero and I will never allow you to see a jail cell and if Hunter would have just calmed down off his perch he wouldn’t have either. I also have set aside a foundation fund for battered and abused women that I want you to run a modern and high class shelter. I think that you deserve to help women like you reclaim their legacies.” Lowell smiled at Bliss as he nodded at her.

“Tonight I announce the new beginning of DGI and the fresh start you all have to not only expand DGI like never before. But to do it together when Jackie, Tess, Katie, me, Forbes, Harvey, Walter and so many others couldn’t. We couldn’t figure it out but I have faith that you all will. You all will show us old sons of a bitches that we were onto something but we just didn’t know what. You will prove that DGI is beyond a family company. It’s a legacy for Fox, Jolene, Donovan, that baby in you and Max pregnant at the same time. Rory saving DGI last year has been a roller-coaster with you kids and the love of my life Jackie and I would change a little but not a lot because you and Belle. You two coming into this world means that the hurt I put Jackie through meant something. I didn’t mean to lead Tess along and I didn’t mean to hurt Jackie. Only woman I truly failed was Audrey but that’s another story for another day. I will have to face that soon. I’m giving you kids a gift, my will gives you all DGI and you deserve it. I’m sorry I didn’t see that before. I’m sorry I didn’t get to take a beautiful trip with Jackie but I have this now. I have my last gift to my family.” Lowell wiped his eyes. “You let Fox rule Isla De Cruces because we Devonshire’s rule over any and everything.” His hands began to shake.

Bliss took his hands into hers shaking and all as she leaned in and kissed it. “I love you daddy. I don’t want you to go. I can’t do this without. Without your guidance finally seeing all the hats her father had to wear. Please daddy try to stay with me and Max a little longer to see these kids. You’re right we rule over everything and I know you can fight longer but I feel so selfish saying that daddy. You are so tired aren’t you?” Bliss asked exasperated with tears.

“I’m exhausted, my beloved child.” Lowell leaned in and kissed Bliss forehead as she melted into his arms. His hand had stopped shaking as he wiped her tears. “My bliss is seeing you all happy and seeing you a part of this family. You help your sister, you hear me? But you remember Bliss you are my bliss. My little princess before you got a tiara. Max, you and Belle are my hearts and my boys are my fist to swing. Even Zerick is a force and I need you to help him to Bliss you somehow became their hearts and I need you to always make them remember that we are a family and we love each other so deeply that nobody can come between us and nothing will stop a Devonshire you promise me.” Lowell commanded as he bellowed out his words with joy.

“I promise dad.” Bliss said as she leaned in and kissed his cheek again. “I love you.” She whispered as she looked at the party. “And really? You thought I couldn’t keep running if I wanted to? I had money stashed away okay so DGI is about to gag okay? I’m going to take strategic marketing and that foundation you gave me. Daddy you are amazing and I hate that we all missed so much time with you. I promise to keep our family together and help the Devonshire’s who can’t find a home find it in us. I promise dad.”


Aspen turned for the cameras as they clicked at her and Rory entering the Summit. Merci somehow outdid herself at each event. It looked majestic in the mansion. Her fiery red hair was snatched back into a ponytail down her back. Her dress made her feel like a princess as she looked at the red ascot she placed in Rory’s suit. It honestly had been better since they reconnected sexually. She still felt a little twisted because did she deserve Rory? After all, the only reason she had him was because of lies and manipulation. She wasn’t sure she wanted any man this way. Then the flashes of Khalil hit her how supportive he was and how they almost kissed. She was with Rory and had won so that was thrown away. Twirling for the cameras she laughed at Rory who looked like he was born to do this as well. Someone yelled “Kiss” and she did just that. Seeing Yasmine stepping out of a limo with that cute doctor Jayden. That bitch stayed with a handsome man and they all fell for that tough girl stick that Yasmine put out. She was nothing but a stupid bitch if you asked her. She knew that she was on birth control but what if she wasn’t? She had gotten pregnant before. So it wasn’t like she couldn’t. So maybe she’d give the Devonshire’s another gift with Lowell dying another baby could bring some major joy.

“Darling.” She said, wrapping her arms around Rory’s neck as she spotted Yasmine and Jayden walking the red carpet. “Let’s take some more photos. I feel like we look absolutely amazing.” When she noticed Max and Sebastian walking a few couples down. “Or let’s wait on your sister. I want this to be a memorable night for us so that means the dreaded thing you hate. Photographs.” Aspen teased taking his hand and looking at her boyfriend. “Spin me around.” She said as the camera men started snapping feverishly. She wanted Yasmine to see she was winning. In fact Rory was wrapped around her finger because she killed their child. “See fun.” She said playfully. “Come on more pictures!”

This was nothing to Rory. He’d been handling red carpet events for as long as he could remember. And he knew how to dress with the best of them. Aspen looked simply amazing and their outfits paired together perfectly. He couldn’t ask for a better date than the gorgeous redhead on his arm. She was stunning and her dress only highlighted her natural beauty. They walked down the red carpet, her arm in his as they stopped and posed several times for pictures. When he heard someone shouting “Kiss”, who was he to not oblige them? Turning Aspen towards him, he smiled down at her, a gleam in his eye as he caught her chin gently in his palm and guided her lips up to his. He could hear the sounds of phones and cameras snapping shot after shot, loving every moment of it as he slowly ended the kiss. They posed for a few more pictures before his eyes landed on Yasmine stepping out of a limo with Jayden. It still stung that they were no longer together, but he’d fallen in love with Aspen, and she was obviously moving on. She looked good. Looked happy with the doctor that he couldn’t fault her for her happiness.

His attention immediately returned to Aspen and his smile returned. How could he say no to her? It didn’t matter that he wasn’t as much into having his picture taken. He could do it for something as momentous as this event. It was for DGI and it was for his family. “That’s because we do, Love.” he replied easily. Spotting his sister and her fiance, he nodded. “Yeah, we can wait for Max and Seb.” It would take a lot of the focus off of him and Aspen. Max being pregnant and not seeming to slow, of course someone was bound to start asking questions concerning her pregnancy. And when she and Sebastian would finally settle down, surely. Hand in hand, he easily lifted her off of the floor, giving in to exactly what she wanted as cameras began snapping shot after shot again. He smiled up at her, looking every bit the part of the man madly in love with his girlfriend, pulling her in close and stealing yet another kiss that the photographers ate up. Rory gave her a look at the comment concerning having their pictures taken like this as being fun, but still he acquiesced to her every time.

Aspen saw Yasmine and Jayden walking past them and felt a smug sense of satisfaction. She killed her baby and got away with it. That wasn’t to be forgotten and she was still so angry with that woman. As he placed her down and kissed her again she felt the satisfaction of winning Rory. Yasmine might have taken his eyes away from her once but she didn’t get that opportunity twice. Not only that the media would see he loved only her. After all that’s what she deserved. Stroking his tux as she narrowed her eyes as she licked her lips. As she cuddled up to Rory walking through the red carpet. Her dress dragged against the velvet carpet. As she looked at Yasmine and Jayden walking past them she waved at Max whose eyes were staring a hole into Yasmine. She always stanned Max because after all this time she was focused on keeping her brother and that woman apart. Gritting her teeth she approached Max and grabbed her hands. “You’re glowing.” She said, smirking brightly.

Leaning into a hug with Sebastian she smiled at him. He looked so happy but Max had this look of frustration always on her face. She had a side thought that maybe Max was uncomfortable. She touched Max’s belly. “Hello, little one!” She said playfully as she saw Max ice break. “You look so perfect girlie. And Sebastian, look at you, you’re so James Bond.” Aspen looked at Rory and then Max. “You two really have the same eyes. I don’t know how I didn’t notice it before. You big sister really has been looking out for you lately. She’s helping me, Rory and I think we should say thank-you. Plus mom and I’ve been talking to this amazing shrink out of Chicago named Monique. Anyway enough with me, what about you two? I have to wonder how many times Merci can transform the mansion and I see it’s unlimited. I can’t wait to see this beautiful baby from you two. ”

Max had taken her time carefully picking her gown for the evening the stunning low cut blue dress was perfect to accentuate what was still there despite her growing belly with the pregnancy and Sebastian of course was dressed to the nines. She knew that tonight was her brother’s moment likely her twins, though she would have been with either one rumor was their father had picked Jackson. Everything was perfect in her life or so she would like everyone to think, in truth things with Sebastian were strained he had placed a huge burden on her. As if it was her duty and responsibility to prepare for the baby wasn’t that on him as well not to mention this insane notion that they needed to get married right away if at all. The more pressure she felt by all of it the more frustrated she was becoming, however for tonight she could plaster on the smile and make sure that DGI as a whole was secure. When she was spotted by Aspen and Rory she simply looked at them both and smiled, almost rolling her eyes when Aspen’s hand reached down to touch her stomach. She was not sentimental at all about the baby but if Aspen wanted to fawn over it she would let her.

Sebastian had walked in with his hand pressed lightly at Max’s back. She looked exquisite this evening and no matter how much she complained about hating being pregnant, he could truly see the way in which she glowed. With her growing belly, day by day she became even more beautiful to him and he fell deeper for the woman that she was. They didn’t always have to agree on every little thing. But there were things he wished she’d take more seriously, such as their child growing within her and her plans to bounce back from delivery as quickly as she seemed to have in mind. He smiled in greeting towards Aspen, accepting her hug before he shook Rorys’ hand as the two couples came upon one another. He was most surprised when Max didn’t bat the younger females hands away from her stomach. If he knew anything about his fiance, he knew that she wasn’t a fan of people simply walking up and touching her in such a manner. Hell, she barely contained herself when even he fawned over their growing child.

“The mansion is always transformed into something elegant my mother would fall over dead if it wasn’t. I’m always happy to help you Apsen it was absolutely dreadful what you went through with that entire ordeal with Yasmine.” Max said pointedly making sure she had just enough venom behind Yasmine’s name to set her brother right, she knew what she and Aspen had done with all the deception was wrong but the truth was Aspen did miscarry a baby. The schematics came down to whether or not it was Rory’s or the mystery one night stand that Aspen had after she had caught her brother with his dick out letting Yasmine fuck him over Christmas or not. Honestly if Rory wanted pointers on infidelity and how not to let a girl like Aspen find out all he had to have done was come to her, Chauncey or hell even their father. Instead it had spiraled out of control to the point that Aspen and Yasmine had that fight at Renards and she simply took the champagne glass in her hand taking a sip seeing the disapproving look from Sebastian. “Settle down it’s just one glass, women all over have had a drink or two while pregnant.” Max said swirling the glass for a moment and taking another sip.

Rory was beyond shocked as Max grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and proceeded to take a sip of it. He thought she knew better, knew that it wasn’t something that was good for her in her condition. That she knew it wouldn’t do her baby any good. Of all the things she could be doing right now, sipping champagne even at a DGI event was the last thing he had expected. Any photographer could snap a picture and it would hit every newspaper in town not to mention spreading across the globe. “Maybe you shouldn’t, Max…” he began, nodding at the champagne flute in her hand. He was even further surprised that Sebastian wasn’t reaching to take it from her.

“Red wine, Max not champagne.” Aspen said, looking at her as she saw Rory’s shocked expression. Not to mention Sebastian seemed to look like he was about to scream. Max seemed to be the person she least thought would have a baby or a child. She just seemed so unmotherly. She was mean at times and just seeing her not even thinking about the baby. The air seemed to suck out of the room after she mentioned Yasmine. “Can we not talk about her. I mean we are beyond Yasmine Kohl so let’s just move on and I just think we shouldn’t be focused on something so negative. Plus I just said we are doing good so I don’t see why you would even bring her up.” She spat at Max as she narrowed her eyes at the other woman. “So have you two chosen a name if you are having a boy or girl?” Aspen said changing the subject because she didn’t feel like going off on Max. She didn’t understand her spitefulness to Yasmine. She appreciated it honestly, but that was uncalled for to even bring her up.

“Also Sebastian, Rory and I were going on a brief vacation and we were thinking maybe Spain anything we should see? I mean maybe you two could come also? I think Max may be more stressed out than she’s admitting. I mean she seems to think motherhood will be as easy as one, two, three.” Snapping her fingers to the word cadence. Picking up a champagne flute she saw Rory uneasy expression. She rolled her eyes because she wasn’t going to keep getting checked by Max and everyone had noticed it. She seemed utterly uninterested in being a damn mother and everyone saw it. So she shadily pointed it out when she dug into an open wound of Yasmine well she could point out how everyone with a brain cell saw Max as an unfit candidate to be a mother let alone a parent. “I mean how is this going to work. I hear you’re a staunch Catholic Sebastian and Max have you ever been in church without starting a fire?”

Max sucked in some air while she took a drink and looked at Aspen it was cute this little virtue act she was putting on with Rory, but all it would take from her would be the truth of course leaving her own part of the deception out of it. Rory would be on to sniffing someone else, hell if she wanted she could look into other debutantes in the state for her dear brother. “I was just pointing out that you and Rory both look happy after everything you went through no need to bite my head off. I mean you were carrying my niece or nephew afterall.” Max spat back with a smile plastered on her face daring Aspen to go again this could get fun honestly after everything that she had done to ensure that Aspen bagged her brother who in the hell did this little girl think that she was playing with. When she mentioned the baby she simply rolled her eyes. “A boy. I don’t think we’ve really talked about names when he comes then we will decide.” Max bit out in truth she and Sebastian had barely discussed the baby lately or the nursery or names because when the baby came then they could decide. Why did it all have to be done right this second in her eyes.

“You are looking a little, how shall I say it? A pale and white Aspen, a tanning booth would be cheaper than dragging Rory off to Spain in the middle of a transition period for DGI and my father’s pending failing health. Darling motherhood will be as easy as one, two, three. I’ve already started to look into a nanny agency right after the birth and I don’t plan to be gone from work for more than a week.” Max said seeing Aspen glare at her and then her brother too they could both shove off. How dare her brother even think of leaving the country when DGI was about to transition after tonight and their father was sick and dying. She saw Sebastian looking at her as well, something else he could be mad at her she supposed the fact that she wanted to go back to work so fast after the baby was born, she didn’t want to breastfeed or anything like that, no thank you and ruin her perfect body? No that was what formula and a nanny was for and working she wasn’t about to be pushed aside on her own fucking project at the casino for Bliss and Hunter to take over. “I think Sebastian knows that when I’m good and ready is when I will get married and not before, not that it is any of your business Aspen Sinclair.” Max finally shot back, taking a long drink of her champagne and staring at the girl in front of her.

Bitch Aspen thought to herself. As she wrapped her arm around Rory as she narrowed her eyes. “Rory has made it very clear that he doesn’t want DGI like the rest of you. In fact he was just talking about starting another electric startup. I mean DGI has RePlay how much does my man have to do for your company. Considering he has already saved it once.” She purred as she narrowed her eyes at Max. If she wanted to go tit for tat she could do that and she wasn’t backing down. She had handed Rory to her with a silver bow but she much preferred gold. “Much like it wasn’t your business to involve yourself with Rory, myself and Yasmine.” Aspen barked back she didn’t want to lose Rory but she also wasn’t afraid to fight against Max. “I’m sorry if I crossed a line but Rory has ambitions of his own and I don’t want him forever tied to a company where no offense you aren’t getting your due so you think he will.” Seeing Max seethe over her saying she wasn’t getting DGI made her feel like she won this little dance. She wasn’t the CEO and that had to burn her britches as much as she loved Jackson; she and Chauncey were the worker bees. Now they didn’t get any honey.

“Rory, we should go see Jamal. He’s doing the music for the party. I would love to see Glory Road. They are absolutely amazing. Sebastian I hope you have a wonderful night and Max you as well. I hear they might be going on tour with Imagine Dragons that’s major and Jamal and you are doing an amazing job diverting from your expectations. Unlike others you have something besides DGI to fall back on.” She smirked as she looked at Sebastian who clearly was shocked at the verbal sparring that was going on. “Oh and Mr. Devonshire had called me. He suggested Rory and I get away. It was your beloved daddy’s idea Max or have you not spoken to him in so long you don’t have a clue what he’s thinking. He’s haunted by the fact that the Devonshire children aren’t in his life right now. Crippled with pain and crippled by loneliness, good thing Rory has been reaching out.”

His arm wrapped around Aspen from behind, attempting to keep her from going after his sister. Sure, there were times when Rory wanted to handle things on his own away from DGI, but he was a Devonshire. DGI was as much his as it was his other siblings. They were a family and especially now, they should be focusing on taking care of business and doing whatever they could to keep the company going as their father fought his illness. He knew that things for Lowell wouldn’t get any better, but he still needed to do his part to help out in any way that he could. “Aspen, maybe now’s not the time…” he muttered, trying to guide her away from Sebastian and Max. He looked up at his sister, giving her an apologetic look at the way that his girlfriend was acting out and in such a public place. “Come on, Aspen.”

Sebastian had the same thoughts as Rory. He knew things could turn ugly quickly and stepped forward to place himself between Max and Aspen. Reaching out, he took the champagne flute away from Max, keeping not only any form of weapon out of her capable hands, but providing a barrier between her and the younger woman who seemed to be itching for a fight. He wasn’t sure what was going on between the two, but it was obvious that things were beginning to get too far out of hand. Rory seemed to have a good head on his shoulders though, attempting to pull the fiery redhead away before anything got the chance to go any farther. “Maximilla…” he murmured softly, holding his free hand up placatingly. “Now is not the time.”

“You’re right it’s not. I think I see Bliss I should go check on her and go find Jackson.” Max said almost wanting to slap the shit out of Aspen but for now she’d retract her claws. She simply turned on her heel casting a glance back at Rory and Aspen as she did before walking away hearing Sebastian’s footsteps behind her.


Jackson was upstairs pacing more than likely burning a hole in the mahogany floors. His hands wouldn’t stop shaking and his fear was retched up to a hundred. Looking down at the end of his speech he felt it being triumphant. He cleared his throat and tapped his Ferragamo shoes as he looked at the clock. Dani must have been running behind, which he didn’t mind. “As I close, my father is a man that is incomparable to anyone in this room will ever be and is. We as siblings have been vying for the right to his legacy but I do believe he has had this entirely wrong. Not one of us could handle the burden of DGI because we aren’t and never can be you father. We are your legacy and together we will continue to bring and strive for greatness together. To Chauncey, Max, Bliss, Rory, and Belle. To our extended family of Zerick, Talia, and Simon you are my limbs. But my heart remains in four pieces. My children, my mother and my wife who has never given up on me.” Jackson said as he looked down the stairs seeing dignitaries, CEO’s, political figures, and other businesses here tonight. He was sure that this night would change his life forever. His eyes began to water as he thought about how he had changed. His father was giving him the keys to the kingdom. His ship had finally come and Jackson knew he’d do anything to get this moment. He just had one question: where was his queen? The queen to the throne. As he walked down the stairs he shook executives of DGI’s hand, met with someone from The LeClerq Chronicles, and had been asked numerous times about where his wife was.

As he walked past Rory and Aspen who looked like something out of a romance novel. He shook his brother’s hand. Nodded at his sister and Sebastian and continued to mingle around the room. As he picked up a champagne glass he took a sip and his mind slipped to Dani. Maybe she wanted to make a grand entrance and that was why she wasn’t here at this moment. She knew his nerves and honestly she had been acting strange lately. Things had been off between them. He also had come to terms with the fact that they needed to get rid of Dru. He wasn’t intending on breaking his vows to his wife. He did understand that he had to tell Dani but he wanted to do it when Dani was acting like herself. Or maybe he was afraid she’d think he would cheat on her. What if she just didn’t trust him and somehow this ruined everything. His heart beat at the distrust that Dani could punish him with. He should have told her immediately. Taking a deep gulp of his champagne he immediately turned to the gasps. As people all were in shock at someone’s arrival. That’s when he saw her. No way was that his nanny. She was stunning but he couldn’t believe who she had on her arm. His teeth gritted how did she even know him? What was going on? Was she playing some sort of game? Lex Hessington was Dru’s date to the ball? He had on good word that Philip and Zerick had asked her out to the summit, he heard Dani and her gossiping the other night.

Dru walked in as the cameras flashed against her skin. The dress she was wearing was flown in from Paris. Her fairy godfather Pierre had seen to it that she was going to make a splash. As she walked through she could see Philip staring at her, she felt others gawking and the attention was well deserved. A body like this shouldn’t be locked away. Mugler made this dress for a woman to be seen. Tonight she was going to be the moment she would be seen. As she softly leaned into the cameras holding onto Lex’s arm. With her dark cateye and sixties inspired hair she felt like the bombshell she was always meant to be. She saw Lauren’s shocked face which made her snicker. Looking down the line it was her mother who also looked absolutely floored. Brenda was beautiful and no doubt she would have worn this dress in her prime but it wasn’t her time anymore. What’s the matter she thought to herself, jealous she’d never look like this again? The entire town was whispering about them and that made her giddy. One day they’d know her name and she’d be more than Dru but Kendall. They’d never forget what she did to them. When her eyes locked in on Jackson she coyly looked away as if she was bored with his entire presence. She’d fucked Brooke’s man and she wouldn’t be satisfied until she fucked Dani’s.

She could feel him drawn to her and here he was coming right at them. Earlier in the night she changed Dani’s phone time and even went as far as to set the clocks back in her office. That was tricky but when Jolene pulled herself up and took a few steps with Donovan right behind her. Well fate had other plans. She took the twins into the office and Dani proudly showed them off to Lowell after some gentle prodding. “Don’t look now but I think my fish has taken the bait for a bite.” She whispered into Lex ear with her deep red lipstick impressing a perfect kiss on his cheek. She waved at Philip who seemed more pissed than normal. As he approached them she smirked looking at Ronan and Gia walking in behind them. The color drained from Ronan’s face seeing her. What did he not expect her to be here? Picking up a champagne flute she saw him standing in front of them. “Jackson! Where is Dani? I didn’t see her at the house. Lex just picked me up from home. She said something about meeting with Lex but then Lex said they don’t have a meeting today.” She rested her hand on his chest. Lex knew that she’d stolen some time from Dani.

Jackson gritted his teeth even knowing Lex was at his home pissed him off. “I’d appreciate it if you don’t have any of your men in my home.” He knew he was being territorial but at this point it almost felt like Lex was invading his life. “Unless it’s my cousin. You know Zerick who seems to be quite smitten with you. Considering that Dani and Lex are working together already I don’t think she’d like to be disturbed by his presence. I also think we should talk about employment opportunities soon with you Dru.” Jackson said as he looked at Lex. “What are you looking at? I invited your family as a courtesy please don’t misconstrue that this is anything more than a moment. I will rid Atlas Falls of you and send you Hessington’s tails wagging back to Philly or Pittsburgh or wherever the hell you are from.”

Lex had been planning to make the obligatory appearance tonight, get hammered and duck out early to head to the club but Dru put the kibosh on that. She had some balls informing him he was taking her to the summit. If he rebuffed her, however, he’d run the risk of alienating the one person who was helping him get Dani back. The fact that he needed Dru’s help was a blow to his ego but he was willing to swallow his pride for this. When he arrived at the house and saw Dru in that dress, practically naked, any annoyance he was feeling went out the window. In fact, he’d tried to talk her into skipping the whole affair and letting him take that dress off of her but she was adamant about putting herself on display tonight. In the limo on the way over, Dru recounted her day with Dani. He had to concede he was impressed with the way she was keeping Dani and Jackson apart. Sexy, devious, the girl was ticking off all kinds of boxes. Too bad she was trailer trash. Almost better than being greeted by Dru in that dress, was seeing Jackson’s reaction. The tension rolling off him was palpable and was that a muscle twitching in his jaw? But there was also the briefest hint of hot blooded lust when his eyes raked over her. As she’d predicted, Jackson had played right into her hands. Capitalizing on that moment, Lex slid his hand around Dru’s back coming to rest on her hip and he pulled her up alongside him, in a protective gesture. Not that he gave a shit about whatever was or wasn’t happening between her and Jackson but if it got under Jackson’s skin he was committed to selling it. “I think the real question is, what are you looking at, Devonshire. Your eyes lit up like you’d just seen an eight ball when Dru walked in. Let’s not even get into the ramifications of sexual harassment here. If you think I’m going to stand by while you disrespect Dani like this, you don’t know a damn thing about me, pal. So, put your tongue back in your mouth before she walks over and sees you ogling my date.” Lex said, rubbing it in that Dani wasn’t here and knowing Jackson had no idea where she was.

He paused to watch Jackson’s emotions play out on his face before tsking him, wanting to laugh at his empty threats to drive them out of town but he kept his composure. It was all further confirmation that they were getting to him which meant problems for him and Dani. Problems that would send Dani right back into his arms. “Damn Jackson, you are a rude son of a bitch. This behavior is not becoming of DGI’s potential CEO. At the very least, you’ll keep that cushy C suite position where you’ll continue to spend your days spinning in your chair and paying people to come up with ideas you’ll pass off as your own. As a figurehead, you’ll still be representing DGI and what would DGI’s board and major investors think about you making enemies with the Governor and his family? The people of Pennsylvania like Chuckles, Jack. Between you and me, I don’t know why but they do. That’s not a good look for you on day one, buddy,” he said, clapping Jackson on the shoulder. “I hope that crack PR team of yours is ready for long hours in the trenches trying to save your profit margins. Oh, and the Governor’s mansion is in Harrisburg, you dumb shit.”

Jackson wasn’t attracted to Dru now was he blind no. Did he have any clue how Dru got a dress that was worth that much nope. One thing being a Devonshire allotted to him was the ability to tell the real from the fake. This stunt that Dru was pulling wasn’t real however she was in some real expensive couture. Especially when he saw her with Zerick a few times. It actually looked like something was going to happen until she started trying to seduce him. “You are judging me on behavior that is laughable.” He said, folding his arms. “You may not be an addict but you’re addicted to my wife. Your date seems to think I want something to do with you Dru, now where would he get that idea? The investors won’t give a damn if I’m friends with the President. You see the government contracts Chauncey has also has given us an opportunity to work with well the government. Not just the Governor so if I go over your father’s head or Anderson because none of Chuckles kids are worthy successors. While us dummies have proven over and over again we are the future of DGI. If tonight wasn’t so important to me and my family I’d kick your ass. In fact I’m itching to kick your ass Lex. I’m trying so very hard not to beat you into a puddle. I’ve warned you over and over again and if you continue to push me you’ll see I pay attention to history. I learned that my father got his hands dirty but I won’t. I will erase your family and I have enough money and the resources to do it. I’ll block everything, I’ll use the House Majority Whip, special interest groups and so much of my money to run you off. In fact I wonder if Jon Harrison would stop being a bitch if he had the money to take on you. Now where would he get that?” Jackson threatened with a smile on his face taking the picture.

“Dru you’re on the verge of getting fired if you don’t watch yourself. Whatever this is.” He said, looking her up and down. “I don’t approve you’re our nanny and this isn’t normal behavior. I don’t want your conduct and your breach of ethics to affect our children. Um I’ll talk to Dani but effective right now I think we might need a break.” Jackson said looking at Dru but knowing he’d have to find a replacement for her. “I think my twin needs to see me so.”

“Jackson, wait. I’d hate to tell Dani why you’re choosing to fire me at this point. I mean what happened between us it’s electric. Lex knows all about how you can’t keep your hands off of me and if you fire me I mean. I’d be forced to tell Dani and let her know that her husband wants me. Lex you saw it he lusted after me.” Dru said, looking at him. “I mean the Hessington’s already got a Harrison two Devonshire’s would be interesting.” She said in a singy voice showing her eyes narrowing looking at him. “I need my job and I won’t be fired. Considering Lex saw us in the woods, I was meeting him for a run and he saw us kissing. Jackson I won’t be losing my job. Dani and I are so close and she needs me. The twins need me and you need me.” Dru used her finger to turn Lex’s face into a slight kiss for the camera.

“What happened to the good girl act?” Jackson said, looking at her in shock. “Fine Dru, keep your job but I want you to know Lex, whatever you think you saw. I wasn’t a part of it. Dru won’t um stop.” Jackson said, feeling his chest tighten. He just threatened him and now she was saying he had seen them kissing in the woods. If he saw them then he’d know he wasn’t here for this. “What proof do you have of me kissing her? I wouldn’t and if you saw us you saw I pushed her away and told her to stop.”

“Oh, I saw every disgusting second of it, baby,” Lex told Dru, lying smoothly and not missing a beat when she told Jackson he’d seen the whole thing. Fortunately, Dru had filled him in on the kiss during the drive over but Jackson was blabbing his mouth so much any moron could have picked up enough information to jump in. “I can hardly believe what I’m hearing. To start with, did you actually threaten me with bankrolling Jon Harrison?” Lex laughed. “That’s funny. You really went for the low hanging fruit there. It would be nice to see you put some effort into this but, whatever. That dude’s going to need a Time Machine and a lobotomy to go up against me, so unless you’re prepared to deliver on those things, I’m calling foul. It is interesting that you’re so determined to come after me and for what? Working with your wife on a hospital charity in honor of my deceased mother? You’re a real low life. I’m not surprised that you’ve turned your eye towards slut shaming your nanny. Channeling 80s Lowell Devonshire? You can’t brush that shit under the rug anymore, Jack. This woman devotes all day to the thankless job of raising your children so you can feed your ego with this clean energy bullshit. In her limited personal time, she attends a party, a party you invited her to I might add, in a beautiful vintage couture gown with the Governor’s son? Where’s the big scandal, Jackson? Don’t bother answering,” Lex said, holding up his hand in Jackson’s face. “I’ll tell you. There isn’t one. At least not where you think it is. The real scandal is you threatening to fire Dru for having the audacity to go on a date with someone other than your cousin. Come on, the ‘good girl act’? Really? That smacks of ‘she asked for it’. Is that your defense? This is really sleazy.”

“Things looked a lot different from where I was, Jackson. I saw Dru trying to stop your lecherous advances and when she rejected you, because who in their right mind would reject the great Jackson Devonshire, right? You did just give us a whole speech about how much money you have and how powerful you are, blah blah blah. So, when she rejected you, your fragile little ego couldn’t handle it, you became agitated and shoved her. You’ve got a recent record of physical violence. You punched me in the police station, of all places. That takes some balls, or maybe just the confidence of a jerk that’s been told all his life he can get away with anything. You want to see the proof? I’m happy to turn it over during discovery but of course, that means a lawsuit and you’ll have to tell Dani what you did. Look, I haven’t said anything to her because I can’t bring myself to break her heart like that but I’m going to do you a favor. If you’re itching for your old life and you want a way out, just go. I get it. It’s a huge responsibility. You’re not used to that. There’s no shame in admitting you got in over your head. I’ll be here to catch Dani and I will step in, whatever she needs, I’ll be there for her and those kids,” he said echoing Dru’s insinuation that the twins would be joining the Hessington family. “I think you have a lot to think about. Maybe some decisions to make,” he told Jackson and turned to Dru. “Sweetheart, you don’t have to put up with this. Why don’t we go introduce you to my sister and Ryan?” Watching Ryan drool over Dru and question his and Whit’s choice to stay faithful would be funny.

A lump appeared in Jackson’s throat. Lex was lying and he could tell that he would use this to his advantage and not to mention Dru was looking like she just swallowed two canaries. She’d played him and if he did fire her she’d lie to Dani, if he kept her on staff she’d literally keep trying to seduce him. He was losing either way and he honestly didn’t know what to do. For a brief second talking to Chauncey flashed in his head but then he shook that off. “You two enjoy the festivities. This party will be one to remember.” Jackson said, taking a champagne flute as he turned away. Glancing at Dru and Lex for a moment he felt his entire body go limp as he walked away. He’d somehow become the bad guy in this narrative. He should have fucking told Dani immediately after she tried the first time. Now she had this noose around his neck and would hang him whenever she got bored or Lex commanded her. He had to wonder if Lex sent her to infiltrate their lives. It was clear she wasn’t who she said she was. He paid her handsomely but not so much that she would have on a Mugler. Jackson was cultured enough and spent enough time with Max to spot brands. Pulling out his phone he texted Simon to help him discreetly find out any and everything about Dru Price. Dru walked away and blew a kiss at Ronan as she passed him. Seeing Gia looking back at him furiously. It wasn’t her fault she was knocked up with a baby and her figure no longer satisfied Ronan’s carnal urges. Not to mention Jackson did look like wanted to take a bite out of her. While Lex was also enjoying all the attention and notoriety he was receiving with her. Good she needed a partner that wasn’t Pierre LeClerq. “Shall we cause so much more trouble.” She said as she smiled at Lex. “Oh and tell your brother-in-law to stop staring, it might get him into trouble.”


Skye adjusted her dress for what felt like the millionth time Merci had invited her to come to the party with her. She had dug out the Marchesa blue short dress out of her closet and now looking around the room she wanted to run as far and as fast as she could away. Her life was still a fucking mess and she had no idea what she was even doing anymore, why was she at Jon’s house? Hell why was she even still in town trying to play out this fantasy if hers they’d magically be able to move on with each other. So when Merci had asked her to come because Devin was working she had said yes. Everyone in the room hated her; she could feel it the Devonshire’s, the Montogmery’s and her blood had turned to ice when she spotted Charles and his entire family walk in. Over the last few weeks since Charles had visited Jon’s house and threatened her by choking her against the wall fear was driving her decisions if she left now the play would never take off her career would be over, people would ask too many questions so she had worked on her backstory one that even Merci could buy, sitting at the bar now however as Charles scowled at her across the room that plan needed to go faster. Turning to the bartender she lifted her champagne glass for a refill and took a drink before seeing Merci sit down next to her. Her sister had done well for herself a career here in Atlas Falls, scoring a man who would take care of her even if he was a cop and that was something that she could at least say she was okay leaving with. Miles was safe, Merci would be safe and Jon it’s not like he cared anyway one way or the other.

“Thanks for inviting me. I know you’ve been really busy planning this party and some other events but I was hoping to talk to you about something. I have an offer from an agent overseas.” Skye said her voice trying to sell the lie she was going to sell the little play was small chips she had enough still that she could leave to start over fresh where no one would find her. She could simply leave in the morning if she wanted to give everything here a chance to cool down when it came to Miles and Charles some distance and time between her and Jon. “I have that little gig here and who in this town is really going to come and watch me on a stage? I could be big in Europe he says and honestly Merci why should I stay. Things with Jon are shit, forget about Thor clearly he is back with Cassie. Which let’s be real, that wasn’t going anywhere either. You and Devin don’t need my drama either. Maybe a clean and nice break is just what I need ”

Merci touched her newly Halle Berry cut and looked in the mirror as she listened to Skye who was thinking of moving from Atlas Falls. Her heart sank for a moment selfishly she didn’t want her to go but at the same time she knew Skye. Taking her hand she kissed it playfully as she stared at Skye. “I never thought about you leaving but I don’t want you here suffering. Skye as long as you promise me you’ll take care of yourself. No crazy guys, no drugs, no extreme partying well who am I to hold you back? I love to see you acting because it’s your love. I remember when we were in Sacred Hearts Orphanage and you were Annie and it was magical. Even as we got older when you played in Hamlet, and Grease. You can sing, you can act and you deserve more than the Atlas Falls local backyard theater. You deserve Broadway or The West End in London. So if that’s what you want you don’t have to deal with Jon’s baggage. Nor do you deserve to be verbally abused constantly. Look I understand Jon’s rage I can’t say I’m proud of what you did Skye. I think it was bad, like really bad. But I do think you did it from your heart and you made sure that Miles had a really cushy life, something that Jon doesn’t give you credit for.” She threw her cape back and grabbed Skye turning them for a photo.

“I rebranded my life and you can also. I went from the shitty orphan to party planner to the elite.” She said, taking her sister’s hand. “I want you to do this for you. To move forward and move on. You had a beautiful son and gave him a great life. I’m done with making excuses for Jon. He’s being abusive to you mentally. He’s making you play house and hurting you. I just don’t think that’s fair. So I got an idea. Let me give you some money and maybe make some calls so I can get you a place in London!” Merci knew that she’d take her money and she also knew her sister was prideful but this new start would be great. “I have zero inclination to let Jon know where you are. I am going to love to have that bastard suffering.” She purred, turning to the camera with Skye. “When you win a Tony or Oscar you’ll thank me and we’ll be on Good Morning America. It’s all part of the plan.”

Skye glanced over at her while she twirled her drink in her hand suffering she supposed she had been suffering since Miles was revealed but it was something that she knew she had to atone for. She had done Jon so fucking dirty looking back in the entire mess, but she was young at the time scared and alone. All of Jon’s family fucking hated her so she had no one left to turn to so she went to her grandmother and she shook her head at the mess she had gotten involved in then, Charles. Even now seeing him across the room and shaking hands with various people it was hard for her not to start shaking in fear but she was going to tough it out. Her escape plan was ready and when Merci mentioned that she could help her get started she simply knew that wasn’t necessary Charles had left her a suitcase full of money when he left hell he had even included her passport. She knew what she had to do which was leave and never look back at least not for a while or until Charles was dead and six feet under. What mattered now was that Miles was happy and with parents that loved him and maybe Jon could see that if she wasn’t around.

“I just feel like it’s time you know? The other day after the courthouse I sunk so low Merci, I literally almost went out and scored again and then I sat in Jon’s empty house wondering what in the hell I was even doing anymore. I know okay about Jon and about all of it, nothing about it has been right since he found out about Miles.” Skye said quietly it was the most that she could say about the entire situation that she was in with Jon, it was toxic and a clean break was something she knew that she needed even if it was painful. London had a good theater scene so maybe that could work but she wasn’t even sure that was far enough for Charles to not reach her, she’d have to think more about it and where she was going to go. “I just think it’s time to go and I haven’t picked a place to go yet, I’ll tell Jon when I’m ready I at least owe him that.” Skye said her voice barely above a whisper as she looked over at Merci and took a sip of her drink smiling for the paparazzi with Merci before she spoke again. “So how are things with you and Devin I really didn’t want shit with me and Jon to fuck that up for you. You got a good one finally Merci and that is what you have always deserved.” Skye said trying to take attention off of her and her entire situation while she avoided Charles like the fucking plague.

Merci listened to her sister basically saying that she was ready to use again. Drugs seemed to follow Skye like an expensive perfume, always lingering around. She wrapped her cape around herself as she noticed Charles staring at her best friend too much. Never had she asked what happened between Skye and the Hessington’s she instead chose to let her tell her. Something seemed hopeless like Jon and Skye’s devastatingly toxic relationship. She had been front and center through the entire thing and she blamed them both. Jon a little more than Skye because he was supposed to be from this loving family and all they did was judge Skye. It was clear the Harrison’s were all about image just like the Devonshire’s or any other predominant family in Atlas Falls. When she confessed she really thought it was time to go, it hit her like a ton of bricks. Selfishly she didn’t want to lose Skye but seeing her living with a constant guard up wasn’t healthy. It was like Skye was living with an anvil over her head.

At this moment was it the time to tell her that everything was going good. Well beyond good it was becoming intense and romantic. The sex was beyond and the way he treated her was something that made her feel special. “Jon isn’t a bad guy, he’s just hurt. He’s lost and you shouldn’t have to save him from the darkness if it’s putting you in a dark place. I think you deserve a fresh start sis.” She said, grabbing Skye’s shaking hand. “Devin is good for me and I truly know he loves me. That feeling is something we both dreamed of and I’m so sorry Jon is neglecting your trauma. God knows you’ve been through it. You gave up your first born for security and happiness for that child. You didn’t know at that time if you could give that baby that. I feel like you did what was right for you. Devin and I seem to argue about that but we both know you did what you thought was for the best. Honestly my man is worried about Jon just as much as you are.”

Skye pursed her lips for a moment when Merci said that Devin was worried about Jon. She was as well but with everything that had gone on between them she knew it was all still fucked up. Fucked up to the point she was pretty sure she didn’t recognize the man she was living with. Gone was the kind and gentle man that she had once fallen in love with once upon a time. Now he was just a shell one that she had caused to become what he was. She would have you live with that now for whatever time was left of her stay in Atlas Falls. She would be gone as soon as this awful event was over or at least another week or two maybe. Even if things were awful for her and Jon at the moment she owed him a goodbye at the very least she could find an excuse to go this time. The same excuse that she had given Merci just now would suffice it had to there was no other way around or out of her situation. Jon would let her go or at least in this state he would. She didn’t even know where he had been the last week, probably with whoever he was seeing nightly. Honestly it wasn’t even something she liked to dwell on too long; it was leading to bad thoughts of wanting to score when she did.

“I know Jon isn’t a bad guy Merci I’ve just put him through way too much and I know that now. Maybe I should have told him all those years ago and let him and Jackson fight it out. Maybe we could have made it with Miles but now I’m paying the price you know?” Skye said looking at her sister she understood Jon’s plight and she didn’t know how to fix it but the way he was going about it now was wrong. Ripping Miles from a family that loved him and had raised him, she didn’t want to do that to him. He would remember them as the people that ripped him from his parents and sister if they did. She wanted him to remember them like he did now, her as Aunt Skye that came to visit and Jon as the nice policeman that his parents knew. Seeing Devin enter the room and waving at Merci to join him she nudged her sister’s arm a bit with a smile. “Go see Devin for a bit to socialize with the elites that are here. I’ll catch up with you later, okay?” Skye finished taking a sip of her drink and hoping the smile she was giving was reassuring enough.

Merci wrapped her arms around herself as she looked at Skye. She did know if she should just leave her. Skye and she were rocks when her grandmother dropped her off at Sacred Hearts well, they were inseparable ever since. Right now deep in her gut she felt something was more off. Like she wasn’t getting completely in her sister’s head. For some reason Merci turned and grabbed Skye and hugged her. Not letting her go and letting it linger a few moments longer. Pulling back she smiled at her sister. She could remember rumbling with other girls over a pair of jeans and Skye was fighting right beside her. “I know it’s selfish but I need you. So if you want to move to New York, I wouldn’t mind. I’m going to support you I just don’t want to lose you again.” She said knowing her eyes were about to start burning from the tears she was holding back. “Skye, I love you.” She twirled away from her bestie and walked to Devin who welcomed her with open arms as she began to cry. Merci looked at him and it was as if he knew she needed him to hold her. “Your best friend just made mine leave town. I really have sympathy for Jon but I can’t right now with him.”

Skye watched Merci leave the bar and she was happy for her sister of course she was. She had gotten one good bye out of the way and she knew eventually she’d have to do another who she knew prayed made it fucking easy for her. She wanted a nice and clean break this time for her sake and more so for Jon and Merci if it was emotional and attached she knew what Charles would and could do. It was something that she simply couldn’t risk looking around the room she caught Charles’s eyes and then turned in the tool ordering a second drink. By the time it was served and she turned back around she slipped off the stool and crashed into the girl in front of her. “I’m so sorry. You should watch where you’re going as well. I’m not sure this wine will come out.” She managed to stammer seeing that the woman had spilled her entire drink down her dress.

Maggie had come to the Summit last minute on a call from Charles. There was some bigwig who was willing to pay for services. Not that she needed the couple grand that would come from fucking some old geezer but she was bored. The offer from Sebastian was good enough to set her up for the next few years if she was wise with it and she had even gone and looked at one of those pricey condos the other day. When she had seen Charles at the party he had pulled her to the side to let her know he needed one more thing for her to approach Skye and bust a bubble. Not that she wasn’t above being petty she had slept with Jon to annoy him and then Lex too so this would be almost as sweet as the look on Dani’s face when she walked in on Lex fucking her. She had taken her drink and waited till Merci had left the bar, calculating every step as she tilted her glass down the front of Skye’s couture gown.

“So sorry Skye Jon is always saying how clumsy I am sometimes. The other morning after going st it for an hour or so I almost tripped over my feet. I wasn’t sure if it was from the back breaking orgasms or if it was because I’m so natural at it.” Maggie said with so much venom and spite in the most polite way she could think of to say it. She held out the now empty glass to the passing waiter who had promptly looked down at her nearly exposed breasts he would do later if needed. She had decided on TJ Maxx for the dress she was going after subtle for the evening and a high profile was not something that she was certain Charles would want. “So sorry for being so rude I had assumed Jon told you. I keep telling him when you call or text that he really should just spit it out. He’s just not that into you anymore.” Maggie said, smiling as fakely as she could as she waved at Charles across the room, seeing the color draining from Skye’s face. “I do see my date for the evening. I’d say send me the bill for your dress but maybe you like stains. Chao.” She finished as her hips swayed away from a clearly mortified Skye and into the crowd.

Skye looked down at the drink still on her dress as the bartender handed her a towel. She was so shocked at Maggie the brazen way she had just come over to her whether it was intentional or not, shaking her head and biting back tears. She wasn’t fucking stupid she knew Jon wasn’t keeping it just between them this time. He had flat out told her that but it didn’t make it hurt any less. If anything, standing in a room with the rich and elite of Atlas Falls looking at her now stained dress made her self conscious about everything and made her feel like even more of trash if that was even possible given what she had been through her entire life. Jon didn’t even respect her enough to not go out and fuck other people after he wanted them to go for custody of Miles, who in their right state of mind would ever side with them in that case? Shaking her head she made her way to the bathrooms to try and get the wine out grabbing some club soda on the way she’d clean up and then exit this God awful party with a shred of her dignity intact.


Walter had arrived at the party early it was better to be early than it was late when it came to this monumental occasion, his political profile would soar after this. Cutting the ribbon with both Jackson and Charles for the Scottswood panels perhaps it would even solidify his desire to run again. His mind was also on helping Brenda Charles had agreed to meet him for the party beforehand he was going to beg if he had to in order to help Brenda when it came to Hunter, no mother should die while their child was in prison. Hunter didn’t belong there; he knew that the poor boy had done something drastic as a sign of outpouring of love to protect Bliss and his children with her, a foolish thing that his current reach couldn’t just erase; he simply didn’t have that pull. The only person currently that had that type of power and pull was Charles himself as Governor he could easily make a few calls to make the matter go away but would he do that for Brenda? Perhaps %c friendship with Charles could outweigh Charles’ feud with Brenda, afterall it wasn’t like they all had moved on. Maggie was out of Lex’s eyes he was free to move on Dani had moved on and he approached Charles grabbing them both a glass of whiskey from the bar.

“Charles thank you for meeting me ahead of time. This really couldn’t wait till after the party or later in the week. I know you are preparing to go to the podium tonight and cut that ribbon, who knew all these years later you would work with DGI. Hell I would accept DGI back into my life, but I’m honestly not here to talk about DGI or the solar panels.” Walter said passing him the glass it was small talk and he had to partially smile about how DGI had driven them together years ago after his fall out with Lowell. Now it was going to skyrocket both their political careers; his daughter would be married to and right hand to Jackson as CEO, something he always thought that he and Lowell would do years ago a real partnership, that never happened. “I wanted to talk to you about Hunter Kincaid actually. I appreciate everything that you and Lex did when Dimitri raped Tamara in New York and how you asked Lex to represent her, we both know the police there weren’t up to the task and even here they weren’t.” Walter paused, taking a drink of the family whiskey as it coated his tongue. “I also know that you don’t believe Hunter shot him for it, the boy is young and foolish. Dimitri was a stain help me rid his memory from this city.” Walter finished looking at his closest friend and confidant.

Charles lurched through the summit shaking hands and acting as if truly cared about what Jackson’s revolutionary plan was. To save the environment give him a fucking break. He built a dynasty over the last thirty years. All the blood spilled and tears shed for someone not named Hessington to be in office. The aftershock of what was revealed against the Kincaid’s led a direct line into the Governor’s office. His daughter was the likely candidate because Lex was a clear disappointment and to be honest it was no way a Kincaid would piggyback on his wins. How much he had sacrificed to be in this space. The great Charles Hessington and the power he had been given and excelled at. Folding his arms as he listened to Walter pleading for Hunter’s freedom. Honestly he wanted the diplomatic officials of Isla De Cruces out of Pennsylvania. Crossing his arms he narrowed his eyes. Exactly what he needed Walter indebted to him.

“You have my word, I actually was reached out to by another party to get Hunter free.” He said with a slick smile on his face. “So many people want Hunter free and I truly like who will step forward as the true killer but you’ll find that out later. You will owe me Walter for this because not only am I putting my political reputation on the line for Hunter but my children’s future if it’s ever exposed what I’m trying to do. Now I know why my other little birdy is trying to free Hunter but tell me why would you be concerned? Other than to protect the interest of your daughter-in-law or is it more to the story as in Brenda Kincaid? I’ve always told you she’s poison, why won’t you listen to me?” Charles asked. “Brenda will forever be the albatross around your neck you can’t get rid of.”

Walter looked at Charles and he had no doubt that Anderson was the one that had asked about Hunter. Anderson was Hunter’s brother so it made sense that is what he would do. He knew that he would be asking a lot for this favor with Charles afterall it was completely unethical for him to step in and make this entire case disappear for Hunter. It was something that he had thought about over the last day since Brenda was in his office. Brenda would always have a part of him and he supposed when she came in begging him to help Hunter it pulled at his heart strings, he couldn’t just let her go through this without her son by her side. What kind of a man would he be if he just were to stand to the side and do nothing to help her in her time of need. It wasn’t like he was completely heartless when it came to Brenda or her plight. As for Tamara he hadn’t asked more questions after her arrest if anything he frankly didn’t want to know and if she was the murderer Braden hadn’t said anything to him, and did it really matter who took Dmitiri out of Atlas Falls wasn’t that what needed to be done? Other than the police or the law doing it, it was simply whatever woman he had tortured the most and in his mind that was justice enough for him. Did he think anything less of any of them, no. In fact he was quite intrigued by the prospect that they had done it,

“I’m not surprised that Anderson reached out to you. It makes sense seeing how you have taken him under your wing. Yes, Brenda came to see me at the office the other day. She wanted me to use my pull to get Hunter out. I of course made a few calls but we both know I don’t have that kind of pull.” Walter said looking at him and taking a sip of his whiskey to settle his nerves he had rarely asked Charles for favors over the years. Small things here and there of course but he’d never really asked something so large of his friend, he knew he had to do it for Brenda of course. “Dimitri was a stain on this town and Tamara, I won’t deny that and Braden reacted out of anger of course when he asked had Dani ask Jon to kill him. It wasn’t right I know that but I’m not asking on behalf of Tamara for this. I’m also not asking on behalf of Bliss given her connection or closeness to Dani either when it comes to tonight and DGI itself. You are right I am asking on behalf of Brenda. I know that you don’t approve of her you never really have. Lauren and I are divorced now, Brenda needs my help at the moment, help that I was hoping that you could assist me with. Brenda needs her children now more than ever, surely you can understand that.” Walter said, glancing at Brenda across the room and then back at Charles.

“If I help you with Walter then you’ll owe me. You’ll owe me more than ever. I can make this disappear and make it so that Hunter gets out. With just a slap on the wrist. But once I do this Walter their is no turning back. I will come knocking one day and I expect nothing more than for you to answer. I do believe that you’re a fool because I think you know that you can’t trust Brenda Kincaid. I also know you are in love and have always been in love with her. So as a friend I’ll break a couple of rules and make sure Hunter walks away with his life. Now you should know when I do come calling you may not like what I want but you will need to make it happen. I have invested a lot in the Kincaid’s in recent years and it’s disintegrating before my very eyes. I want Anderson to be the Governor.” He lied with conviction. “I want him to rise but with a brother behind bars for murder that won’t happen.” Plus when he came knocking it would be for more than a simple act of quid pro quo. It would be him indebted to him until he was done with him.

“Recently my agency needs to move into a different field. I want to make it even more profitable. I might need your assistance. I think Atlas Falls is the exact place I should have my foothold in with this agency. I do have to ask what is going on with The Pub? I mean I would love to own some other businesses? Is it for sale?” Charles asked eyeing Skye and Merci who kept looking away which was a good sign. Skye was afraid of him and she was one of the few people who actually scared him. If Skye ever opened her mouth to Jon Harrison well that weak man would hunt him. So the best move was to get rid of that bitch as soon as possible. “I mean owning a landmark like that would give the Hessington’s a foothold in the city. So are you interested in selling the most beloved bar in Atlas Falls?”

“I think I can agree to owe you Charles though I’m not sure what I could possibly do for you. I’m not sure I completely trust Brenda at the moment after all we have been through. She and Lowell along with Lauren kept Kendall from me. But I know that right now she needs her family and children around her. I don’t want to continue to grieve for the daughters I don’t have with Victoria or Kendall.” Walter said looking at Charles and shrugging he could always be candid with Charles. It was no secret that at the time he didn’t want Dani something that Charles told him was foolish. It was ironic that she was the only one left now. He wasn’t proud of that now and he and her were working to mend those fences and he looked over at Anderson the political game with Charles was always at play. “I actually find it surprising that you let Anderson into the ranks given what happened with Lex and Margaret along with Dani. But I know that keeping Steven’s son close to you politically was more than just a bye-gones being bye-gones with the Kincaid’s.” Bringing his whiskey to his lips he took a drink, his lip curling at it wondering if it was Jackson or his daughter that had placed theirs on the menu for the evening before looking at Charles.

“You’ve already bought the old hotel La Gordia and transformed that into a brand new Crestwood. The Pub is fine at the moment Lauren and I agreed to split running it in the divorce. Turning profits as usual and after Dani married Jackson I’d venture to say even more business comes from it.” Walter said knowing what Charles was asking it wasn’t the first time he had a lot of people had offered him a lot of money over the years for the distillery and Pub and the answer would be the same as it always was. It wasn’t for sale Lowell had taken DGI from him and the only thing he had left that was one hundred percent Fraiser was the Pub; it had been passed down from generation to generation. He knew Braden had no desire to run it which meant maybe one day Dani would. “It’s not for sale Charles even now years later it’s the last thing my family has that wasn’t ripped from me by Lowell. One day when I’m old and not there I’d like to go to Braden or Dani, likely Dani at this rate. Hell maybe even Dylan or the twins when they’re old enough. We both know how feeble and fickle time in the spotlight can be and I’d like it to remain with a Fraiser.” Walter finished not meaning any disrespect to Charles it had been something they had discussed with Lex and Dani had gotten engaged, the Hessington having a stake down the line. “Surely you of all people can understand that old chap can’t you?”

Charles wanted to slap the shit out of Walter when he said that he wasn’t selling The Pub. Years of research, years of planning and here he was the mayor of Atlas Falls, his city and still he wasn’t selling. It was frustrating and quite frankly he only wanted Lex to marry Dani for a certain reason. He actually liked Dani but he didn’t like how fast she gave up on Lex. Charles hid his disdain for how simple Walter truly was. This man had prepared his entire life for war but the moment his daughter popped out the twin Devonshire spawns well it was all water underneath the bridge. It was all copacetic that Lowell stripped him of his legacy. Something he truly didn’t give a damn about but he wouldn’t be denied and refused. He spent a lifetime wanting more and more yet now he was willing to let bygones be bygones. He had no respect for a man who wouldn’t slice someone else’s throat for what was there. One of the many reasons he respected Jackson fighting so diligently against losing his wife. However one thing he knew about his eldest boy was Lex was a whore. He also was a silver tongued bandit and that would be great when Jackson did screw up. If he had to shove a pound of coke up his nose.

“I surely can understand that. I am trying to create a foothold since this ugly situation with Jon Harrison, and my family. I do believe that we will be staying here for the time being. Just until Jon loses viciously. I do believe that I’ll find something to come calling for.” Charles said as he folded his arms. “You seem very happy with Dani and Jackson. I mean we’ve been friends for years and you detested the Devonshire’s and now because Lowell is dying it seems everyone is forgetting years worth of history especially you.” He picked up his glass of whiskey and gulped down the rest of the drink, waving at the barkeep to send the waitress with another one. “Tell me more about the Harrison family, they are deeply connected with you. Just so you know this isn’t my favor, as a friend I expect you to tell me what I need to keep my grandson. I don’t plan on Miles ever leaving the Hessington’s. My wife loved me deeply but she loved that boy even more.”

Walter wasn’t sure he’d go as far as to say he was happy with Dani marrying Jackson per say. It was something that just happened and was beyond his control and reach and it had been since they started to see each other in secret. His daughter often had a mind of her own and that was something that he knew that he had come to terms with when it came to everything in her life now. He had given up fighting against her tooth and nail at every turn and he was pretty sure he knew the answer she would draw in a line of sand if it ever happened she was afterall a Fraiser and his daughter meaning she was just as stubborn as he and his wife were. “Donovan and Jolene made that bridge and gap close Charles, Dani hardly gave me any proper say in the matter when it came down to it. They’re my grandchildren they may not be who I envisioned those grandchildren with but they were what were dealt to our family. As long as Jackson treats her right I think I can let go of my hate for Lowell long enough to see a smile on her face with him, It’s not how you or I saw this happening but it is what happened.” Walter said looking at Charles knowing how much he had wanted Lex and Dani to reconcile and have a child after the miscarraige.

“Robert and June Harrison are good people Charles, their children grew up right down the street from ours, I don’t have other information that I can or could offer you other than that. Jon is a good man, served his country honorably when few others would not. Do I like what Skye did to him or your family? No I can understand your feelings on it as I can understand his.” Walter said finishing his own whiskey as he downed his drink as well. The Harrisons were a good family with good standing, they had few to little secrets that he knew of and he didn’t think they were awful or anything of that nature nor did they deserve the hell that Skye and her manipulations were putting them or her brother through at the moment. “Robert is a retired and decorated police officer and June owns TJ’s bakery downtown. They’d help fight Jon for Miles if they needed to, but we both know they wouldn’t have the funds or the power to take you on. I think all they all want Charles is simply to know Miles. I don’t think any of them plan on ripping him away from the family he knows. They’re not that heartless or cutthroat.” Walter finished as the glasses were refilled and quickly back in their hands.

Charles rolled his eyes and narrowed them at him. This was becoming taxing and the more he heard the more he felt actually bad for Richard and June. Neither truly deserved to lose their grandchild but his daughter wouldn’t be without her child. Skye had forfeited the right to dare even tell Jon in his opinion and Jon he was a veteran but he had no mercy in dismantling everything the man had. If he had to, he’d destroy Jon and leave nothing but a memory in his wake. He however grimaced when Walter said he understood Jon’s plight. No he didn’t have a clue what Jon was going through but he would eventually. Having something taken away from you wasn’t a good feeling. Walter would learn that soon enough. “Well he maybe should have thought about visitation before he came after my family.” He wouldn’t be getting near Miles if he had his way.

Staring at Jackson he knew what he needed from Walter and he’d be calling soon enough. “Thank-you for that information. I’ll be seeing June and Richard you say very soon. I’ll make those charges disappear and make it so that Hunter doesn’t have a record. You just be there when I call, is that a deal? Can you be there when I need you Walter?” Charles patted Walter’s shoulder. “I will need you maybe about this very issue but I will need you Walter. I love Atlas Falls. It’s more and more interesting. I do need to speak with Lowell momentarily. He has requested my time. I will be seeing you soon.” Charles walked away with a scowl on his face. Walter didn’t want to sell The Pub and that was exactly why he needed Lex to rip apart this marriage between Jackson and Dani. He’d get his hands on it one way or another.

Walter watched Charles walk away one day he would have to owe Charles and he was alright with that. He was relieved when Charles let him know that Hunter’s legal issues would be behind him. It meant that Brenda would have her son by her side for her health crisis that she was going through and that was what he wanted. He watched as Charles made his way through the crowd and his met Brenda’s for a comforting moment simply nodding his head at her to let her know it was done that Charles had agreed to help her. Looking at her he simply took another drink of his whiskey while he turned to the party making a fuss over Dru Price with Lex on her arm. It wasn’t something that he thought one would wear to an event like this and honestly he was a little taken aback at the display but young people did wild things. He had seen Jackson stalk away from them both too and had to wonder what that was about for a brief moment before he turned his attention to the building commissioner he did need to make sure the solar panels were good to go in a few weeks.


Cassie looked around the Devonshire mansion this time as a valid plus one thanks to Thor now working at the company, her father had said that this was going to be quite the party. In return she had went shopping for the most debutante and dank dress she could afterall she was attending a funeral, the funeral of the company that had caused her such a massive amount of pain over the years. So she donned something from the runway that fit that mood the dark black Zuhair Murad gown with the tiniest gold ornate on the side and the cloak to match her dark mood, it seemed fitting for the event that was supposed to be full of color and wonder. She wasn’t celebrating this little show they were putting on they had a monopoly on this town that would soon end looking at the various displays in the ball room her eyes came to rest on SandStar, perhaps if they played their cards right that would end too. When the staff came by to ask if she wanted to remove her cloak she laughed at them certainly not it was part of the appeal. She smiled as Thor approached them with two glasses of champagne and she couldn’t help the smile that came out at him when she took a drink.

“Refreshing to be here as a plus one opposed to crashing like I have the last few events. So now that you are in the in, give me the details on everyone and everything that is in this room. I need to work the room as Forbes’ daughter that is here as my amazing DGI junior executives date. I can snoop a bit even drop a hit or two that things might not be kosher enough with DGI to stay. Let’s face it they can’t have all the fun on the energy market front and did you see Natasha she seems miserable with Chauncey.” Cassie said seeing Thor eyeing her and she almost laughed at him it had been easy for her to pretend when it came to everything with Jon, but with Thor she could be herself. Which meant scheming and manipulating to what was best for her and her family, no one knew her like the man before her. Wrapping her arm around his own she could see his wheels were turning as well, it really was the perfect scheme Hunter trusted Thor which meant he had gotten into DGI as the trusted friend of Hunter’s. “You are doing exactly what we need at MontCorp and I wanted to tell you that I appreciate that so much, and so does my father. When I take over from Philip you will be by my side.” Cassie said her eyes scanned the room and she almost spit out her drink seeing Skye with Merci at the bar the trash she saw was clearly still in town.

“To be frank I could give a damn what your father thinks. With Lowell Devonshire dying it’s like the beginning of the old guard dying.” He said, taking her hand as he walked through the ballroom looking around. They’d done more with the mansion and he was shocked everytime Merci seemed to outdo herself. It was extravagant and lavish but still somehow looked intimate. The smell of fresh lavender seemed to float in the air. He heard rumors on what Lowell’s final speech would be about all around the office. Tonight was the night he would be appointing his heir after almost three years of figuring it out. It had begun and ALS was finally taking the greatest scammer out. “I mean after all if we are going to the top we can’t trust your father, Cass. We have to trust our instincts and Philip believes he’s going to run MontCorp. That can’t happen. He’d use the company just as petty as your father. A tool to hurt the Devonshire’s and DGI which is boring to be honest.” Watching her hawk in on Skye actually made him sad because he knew her well enough she wasn’t going to leave well enough alone. Cassie was going to go after her and to be honest after all the lies and manipulation Skye deserved it. She played this game with all their lives and had a bomb that was ticking and knew it would explode. He could act like it was all good but he still wanted her to hurt.

“Well I wonder if Merci dragged her out of a crack den?” Thor said, folding his arms. “I’m tempted to go to Jackie and see if we can get her thrown out. Nobody wants to look at that mess all night. She disgusts me. As for snooping I doubt anyone will drop anything tonight. With the future of the company changing hands. Tonight is Jackson’s or Chauncey’s big moment. The rest of them aren’t even qualified and to be honest I don’t believe Jackson is either but he’s the favorite after Chauncey and Greer. Chauncey really played his cards foolishly and now he’ll pay because Jackson is the golden boy. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Jackson Devonshire is a force and recently his energy division could be exactly what could change DGI and the future of American energy. That is something nobody was expecting Jackson to become reliable and not only that one of the strongest candidates for the top spot.”

Cassie had to partially agree with him Philip was just as petty with the Devonshires as their father was. Poor fool actually though Max was in love with him during her last little game of who she was fucking that year enough that she almost felt bad for Philip’s heart. Then again that illusion was finally shattered when the bitch, Hunter and Bliss ended up shooting him and had eventually set him straight thank God. “It’s petty but there is no reason we still can’t be petty when we take over right? Lowell destroyed my mother more than once and maybe a part of me is still the little wounded girl that she left behind that wants him and all his offspring to suffer. That being said, you being at DGI is just what we needed in order to outsmart them this time. My father and Philip always made it so personal when the way to really cripple them is where it hurts most. Hence that lawsuit we filed on their monopoly earlier until we had you in place.” Cassie said seeing him look at Skye too the bitch would pay for everything how Jon ran coddling her. She knew that Thor still cared for her, maybe as a friend but he looked wounded as well after he had told her he would stick his neck out for her.

“More than likely I mean take a look at her she looks a little sore on the eyes. Almost like her little illusions have come crashing down on her. Rumor was the other day at the courthouse she tucked her tail and ran like the scared bitch she always is. I think Jackie has more pressing things at the matter. Like Lowell bringing his new younger wife to this event that misfit Skye Morgan.” Cassie said pursing her lips together she had a special treat for Skye if push came to shove the club connections still served her well and honestly she had thought about it for a few months. Now was the time to strike with Skye looking like a wounded near dead animal. It would only take a few words and handing the girl the small bag of powder in her clutch. Taking a drink of her champagne she almost tasted to her destruction as the thought over Thor’s words apparently ex junkies were on the rise that had to burn Lowell’s eldest to his core and then to be saddled with Natasha it was too delicious for them to pass up. “We can use this to our advantage now though you could become friendly with Natasha. Rumor is she and Chauncey had quite the nasty spat in Pittsburgh.” Cassie finished swirling her glass for a bit before taking another drink.

Thor felt her pain when she mentioned Audrey. He smiled thinking of Audrey, she always told him to be patient with Cassie. She was always on guard, that was a lesson he’d forgotten years ago. He didn’t however let go until he got exactly what was his. Cassie as his woman and the woman who would eventually take over MontCorp. That was something he appreciated about Cassie; she always was business minded and sharp. Stepping away from the mob life and focusing on his brother’s legit businesses and MontCorp while sabotaging DGI. Well Thor knew he was good but he was damn proud of himself. His mother never wanted him in the lifestyle but she taught him because it was his birthright. He also knew that his birthright was to be more than another bullet riddled mobster. Skye somehow always came unscathed from the fires she started. He looked at his girlfriend and smirked. “I don’t want to see her anymore. I want her gone from Atlas Falls. Want to play a game?” Thor asked as he looked at her.

“Let’s see which one of us can make her run to the white powdery stuff first?” He said with a wicked smile on his face. “I can’t say that I’m not excited with the opportunity to ruin her. Make her feel the way she made me feel. She upended all of our lives and I don’t think a Luciano and Montgomery should just let that ride? So I want to make her suffer and I love when you make people suffer so maybe you go .first and I go right behind you to drive that wedge directly in her fucking back.” Thor said, leaning back gulping down his Fraiser whiskey. “So what are you going to do?” He imagined all types of horrible things Cassie would say to Skye. His heart wasn’t broken anymore but right now it was out for some revenge. “I’d plant some serious doubt in that fragile little psyche.”

Cassie’s face almost lit up in glee when Thor asked if she wanted to play a game, a game that she was pretty sure that she could win at. After watching Maggie leaving the bar and an obviously crushed Skye there alone she knew that she would be the one to win. Afterall she had a sinking feeling that Skye didn’t really love Thor. That was always the case and deep down she knew that who Skye wanted and needed the most was Jon. But Jon was nowhere to be found at the party meaning that Skye and Jon had both lost out in their precious little happiness they were deluding themselves with. A happiness she had forced herself to try and conform to for Jon when he wanted her to be something that she was not, she was Forbes’s daughter, darkness and jealousy followed her around. Thor understood that. Thor encouraged that and her cutthroat nature was something. She had become docile with playing either kid gloves at the club and letting Philip take the lead when she was always meant to be the head of the table. Her brother had become too soft over the years too easy to forget what Lowell had done to their mother he did after all have a thing for Max. Yasmine didn’t count she was a bastard if she wanted to chase Rory, but it wasn’t like she would ever take over MontCorp.

“I’ll play of course I’d that means you will to but I want you to play hard Thor. You can go see Chauncey for a bit and I can go have a chat with our friend. I picked up a little pick me up when I left the house that might be right up her alley.” Cassie said looming at home it wouldn’t be the first time she had taken a hit or two to relax from time to time. But handing a full bag to Skye to send her over the edge would give her such a high and pick up in and of itself. It would satisfy her urge for a thrill and she wondered how awful that was of her and then decided she really didn’t care if it was awful or not. “I’m sure if you want a little later you can ask Ronan for some but think of it her filling her nose with it and making a fool of herself here at this huge DGI function where Merci planned it. It could be exactly what we need for us and MontCorp. My tactic doesn’t work of course you can take a swing at her.” Cassie said, looking at him up and down.

“You know mutual destruction turns me on. I’ll go play with Chauncey but if you lose then.” Thor leaned in and whispered in her ear. Thor leaned back and smiled mischievously. When Cassie walked away he smirked she was seductive and he licked his lips as he playfully slapped her ass as he walked away.

Cassie was thrilled when Thor was willing to play their game. His words ringing in her ear at the suggestion he made of course he would be filling those later. Instead she turned her attention back to Skye following her into the bathroom and reaching for her compact in her bag. She looked at her reflection wondering if she looked like her mother if her mother had ever confronted Jackie in the same manner. One of the things that she always hate her mother for was how fucking weak she was when it came to Lowell crawling after him for scraps. One of the reasons she was content with her decision to end it with Jon after everything came out and even now confronting and pushing Skye was simply her way to make sure Skye knew her place. Closing the compact she locked her eyes on Skye who was halfway scrubbing the club soda on the dress and her.

“I think it will take more than club soda for that stain to come out. Kind of like how it will take more than a few sweet words of innocence for you to actually win Jon’s heart back. You are quite the little actress aren’t you? Your game isn’t that strong for me though. I was trying to figure it out, you know once my father sent me that picture of Miles. What was your angle?” Cassie said, stepping to Skye and knocking the club soda out of her hand watching the poor woman almost jump out of her skin. Such a fucking weakling she let out a snort at how utterly pathetic it all was and thos woman thought she could rival her for Thor’s affections too? “Your biggest mistake though was wrapping or trying to wrap Thor up in your little game. For that you really needed a better pick me up perhaps something like this.” Cassie finished reaching into her clutch and pulling out the cocaine placing it into Skye’s free hand. She saw it was trembling and for a second felt sorry. “This wounded dove act is so tiring don’t you agree you should be onto the third and final act you know the one where the dove dies or flies away free.”

“You really should just take everyone’s advice and leave town or go snort this or shoot it up. No one wants you here Skye and think of all the lives you are ruining and destroying if you stay. Merci will soon be unapproachable for her parties, nevermind how awful it will be when she marries Devin if she does. Jon has simply become someone else entirely and it’s not like he’s that loyal to you anyway if what I saw with Maggie was any indication. Thor is back with me so that leaves you with what exactly? A fleeting and failing acting career to stay here and wallow in the pain? Trust me, take the release and leave town.” Cassie finished with a sick smile as she leaned over the sink to wash her hands, her eyes never leaving Skye’s as she wiped them with the towel. “You’re itching, it’s pure. Hopefully this will be the last time I see you around.” She finished leaving Skye standing in the bathroom.

Skye had been scrubbing the dress easily for what felt like hours in the bathroom trying to get red stain from the wine out, fucking Maggie Thorpe of all people. She wasn’t dumb or naive when it came it everything happening in her life but did Jon have to go out and sleep with Maggie of all people? She felt like such a worthless whore at the moment and all those times that men used her left and right in Pittsburgh, even this was worse than that. She tried to push back the tears that were threatening to fall down her face; she couldn’t let the upper crest of Atlas Falls see her like this, like Merci’s whore of a sister that spread her legs for money and drugs. Her fingertips were sore and she was pretty sure the pads of her fingers were starting to rub raw against the expensive fabric of her dress but she simply couldn’t stop trying to erase the stain. When the bathroom door opened and she saw Cassie enter though she felt so much rage towards the red headed bitch in front of her. It was afterall Cassie that set everything in motion when it came to Jon learning the truth about Miles, Cassie butting her nose into things that were none of her fucking business to begin with. She had went to say something to her instead she simply stood there when Cassie opened her damned mouth. The words stuck in her brain when she started to speak and even if she wanted to retort she simply stood there looking at her like an idiot. Even worse when she pulled out the little packet and her eyes looked at it not even realizing that her hands twitched just a little to touch it.

She felt the bag hit her hand and her lips get dry as her other hand simply stopped holding the fabric of her dress, her eyes locked in on the white powder in the bag. Would it really be that bad if she just opened it and took a hit, let the flavor and high take over her body and mind to forget everything that was going on. Disappear for a few hours or two away from everyone in her own mind it wasn’t like what Cassie said wasn’t true. Other than Merci why in the fuck was she still in town literally everyone else hated her. Jon hated her he couldn’t even look at her let alone be in the same house as her. She had no friends in town, Jon’s family hated her and she almost had train wreck happen when it came to Merci and Devin everything she did almost destroyed her sister. As for Miles and what little relationship she had with the Whitney and Ryan that was over. There was no turning back that bridge was burned and before she knew it she looked in the mirror again and saw her old self staring back at her knowing what she had to do. There were a few places she could sneak off to for the release the mansion was far too crowded and no one would notice she is slipped out the back door. She just needed this to make everything do away when it was done she could easily claim a relapse and leave town, she walked out the bathroom door. Fading into the background of people and the crowd as she did intend on taking that bag of coke and trashing the rest of her life away.


Dani looked at her dress on the hanger for the Summit Val had outdone herself even after her protests to the point she wondered if she was a mind reader. Checking her watch and the clock while she did so. She still had a few hours meaning that as soon as Grant got back on the conference call they could hash out the rest of this contract for the turbines and finalize their trip out to Montana to sign the deal. Leaving her just enough time to drop off the two gifts she had for Jackson at their little oasis suite at the Rawlings in order to surprise him after the Summit. Everything seemed so screwed up and tense between them to the point where she was walking around eggshells everywhere wondering if she was losing her fucking mind and worse him. She’d missed two dinner dates that had pissed Jackson off and had no excuse other than she could have sworn her calendar was right the days before, but when she checked of course they weren’t there. Dru had been so comforting afterwards when he was so mad at her the other day making her a cup of tea, to which she was pretty sure she had the most vivid dreams of walking around their dark house almost like she was floating. She’d awoken the next morning on the couch in her slippers and for a split second wondered if she was becoming her aunt Rosamund or not. Shaking her head at the thought she took out the engraved watch she had bought for Jackson wrapping it delicately in the black paper with the bow. The other gift had arrived discretely a custom harness and cuffs in jet black something they could keep at the office, house or heck even travel with.

“Yes I’m still here Grant, ten percent in cut backs to you plus an additional five every quarter. I thought we agreed on five. It’s still at least a quarter million in extra profits at the end of each quarter. Besides we are putting up the money for the land here in Atlas Falls and we are prepared to start up a larger plant to make the turbines either in Montana or Colorado, there is the option here as well. Your company as it stands now can’t afford to expand.” Dani said thoughts of a romantic night with Jackson out of her mind for now it was back to this huge contract they already had the solar panels thanks to SandStar. They bought out AeroWest from Grant that meant they could have wind turbines. Jackson had looked into something in Colorado he mentioned for oil, but that was for after their next acquisition from AeroWest it would eventually happen. Then they would be in with everything they needed at DGI to supply power and energy most of it clean and she tapped her fingers on her desk looking at the contract in front of her again she could probably come up to seven percent on cutbacks if he wanted that seemed more than fair pursing her lips when he said seven on the other line. “Seven is agreeable. Jackson and I are so sad you and your wife weren’t able to make it out tonight.” Dani said she actually really liked the Johnsons’; they seemed like a lovely couple.

Their reasoning seemed to make sense to her as well. It was their sons’ sixteenth birthday this weekend and cutting a business deal in another state wasn’t how any teenager should spend their big day. Instead she pulled up her calendar at work and began looking at dates they could fly out the following weekend to sign the paperwork. “Actually Jackson and I would be happy to fly out next weekend after the Summit to sign the paperwork and see everything. We could make a few days’ trip of it and you would be dealing with the CEO of DGI and not just the executives of the Energy division if that makes you feel one hundred percent about this.” She finished letting the CEO bit out it would be official in a few hours and she inwardly grinned when Grant agreed and she clicked save and print on the contract she could have Mason look over it later and then ended the call seeing Zerick staring at her in her doorway she almost jumped. “Sorry you scared me, what’s wrong?” Dani asked, seeing him giving her the most bizarre look she’d ever seen him give.

Zerick looked at his computer adjusting his Armani tuxedo on the screen, checking his watch if he left now with traffic he would arrive just as the press photos started for the Summit with time to spare. He was ready for this moment to show his cousins that he was just as committed to DGI as they were, he had been trying to prove that to his aunt and Jackson over the past few months. He still had massive issues with Lowell and the sperm donor that gave him life but it felt like he was finally belonging and fitting in with the rest of his family. He had hoped to invite Dru to the event but had been a little shocked when she had declined, she was still fun in the sheets but it seemed like that had cooled down. It had honestly shocked him because he was starting to get attached to the redhead that was warming his bed, maybe not as much as he had with Talia but Dru seemed to be a puzzle that he couldn’t quite figure out. Once closing his laptop and turned off his office lights though he had noticed that Dani’s light was still on in her office, maybe she and Jackson were having a moment before the party. Everyone else had gone home early to get ready and when he stepped to the door he didn’t see his cousin anywhere in sight, just Dani working talking with Grant Johnson about the wind turbine company they wanted to buy. Her dress and shoes were still in the bag on the chair and he looked at his watch and then at her did she realize the event was about to start.

“Sorry I thought maybe Jackson was with you, wait aren’t you supposed to be at the mansion right now with him?” Zerick asked, seeing Dani look at him like he had grown two heads at the suggestion. She looked clearly upset and confused and he wondered what in the hell that was all about? Everyone saw her working at DGI most of the time and it wasn’t a secret that rumors were swirling that something was off kilter at home with her and his cousin, he didn’t believe them couples struggle sometimes to balance stuff their first year married throw in twins under one and pressure at work. It was enough to make any marriage feel pressure and he liked to think Jackson and Dani were still just as devoted to each other nearly a year later. “The summit party is starting in like an hour. If you take the belt route you make it there with half an hour or so to spare. I just assumed that you would have left an hour or so ago when Jackson did. I certainly didn’t mean to upset you or startle you. You should probably get changed.” Zerick said seeing her frantically looking through her phone and computer and he could swear she was about ready to cry and he walked into the office handing her the dress and shoe bag. Zerick watched her hand shake as she grabbed her dress to go into her private suite bathroom.

“Wait, it starts in an hour?” Dani asked, looking at her calendar and alarm on her phone, saying that she still had time like almost two hours before it began. She shook her head pulling up the corporate calendar on the website and she could already feel tears stinging the back of her eyes it easily started in an hour how in the hell had she fucked this up so badly? Dani was mortified when he started speaking Jackson had asked if she was ready to go an hour or two ago and she let him know she had one final call with Grant to do, he had looked so suspicious of her when she told him almost like he doubted her. Her mind was already racing; she had no time to head home to probably miss the hair stylist that was waiting for her, or the makeup artist that was there too. She was frankly overwhelmed at it all and forget it all to hell including dropping everything off at the Rawlings. She looked back at Zerick when he cautiously approached her desk she felt like she was fucking losing it at this rate. Looking at him biting back tears as she simply nodded her head at him before scurrying into the bathroom.

Wiping at her face to compose herself as she stripped off her pantsuit and started to put the dress and shoes on. She composed herself in the mirror; she was not her aunt placing the shoes on and fluffing her hair that thankfully still looked decent with a soft curl. Push came to shove she could throw it in a bun if needed. The makeup would have to suffice; she frankly didn’t have time to worry about it. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. It was supposed to exude sexiness, confidence and power according to Val. Her jaw had dropped at the leather on it, the corset, the cape with the choker. It was exhilarating and thrilling. Val insisted it was perfect for her and for Jackson to which she relented to when she dropped it off. Instead it felt like she was having an out of body experience she was never this scatterbrained never had been and she bit her lip for a moment before hearing her cell phone ringing on her desk. What if even this wasn’t enough and he still was having doubts about her and her loyalty only to him? She took a deep breath, she loved him, she just didn’t know what was going on with everything and her mixups she was having, biting her lip she composed herself. Opening the door to the bathroom she walked out when her cell phone rang with her mothers ringtone picking it up. “Hey mom.” She said, wondering what she was calling about as she looked around the office for her purse, snatching it from Zerick’s hand when he handed it to her.

“Dani, Jackson has been looking for you and he looks worried. Where are you my love?” Lauren said, spinning around in her gown looking at Randall standing behind her. He was also concerned, hell everyone was considering what tonight could possibly mean for Dani and Jackson. They would be the new top couple in Atlas Falls not only that but they’d be CEO and basically first lady of this town without the title. Everyone knew DGI employed more than half of Atlas Falls from the executives to the factory workers. They went from the biggest to the smallest and tonight nothing could be off. They had to be perfect, almost untouchable and being late was a sign that they could be touched. Everything was a game of chess and this time she was sure that Jackson and Dani would win if they didn’t look unified. Jackson making excuses for her daughter who was always prompt and on time. This was unusual and she didn’t like it one bit.

“Sweetheart I know this is overwhelming you becoming Jackson’s partner in DGI but I know it’s not just his dream but yours. You have to be at his side at events like this. I hated it when Walter was working at DGI but it’s your responsibility. Sweetie, do you need some help getting ready? I’ll come and get you. I know you want to look perfect but tonight isn’t the night to be fashionably late.” She said softly wondering if the twins had held her up or something at DGI. Either way this wasn’t a good look for the future CEO, his wife and business partner. She felt Randall wrapping his arms around her. “The summit is beautiful.” Dani had told her what Lowell was planning tonight and she was so proud of her girl. “You are finishing something that your father couldn’t, you are making DGI a true family business for the Fraiser’s and the Devonshire’s you should be proud honey.”

“I’m at the office where I got held up. I’m leaving right now. I should be there in about half an hour tops. Tell him I’m on my way alright, thanks mom.” Dani said evenly into the phone her mothers words hitting her she knew what tonight meant. She didn’t need the reminder or maybe she did how in the hell had she fucked this up so bad. She knew how Jackson could get with his anxiety too and wondered how he was. She tried opening her purse to get her keys out and was flabbergasted when Zerick simply took her purse from her and held up his own keys. Not waiting for her mother to answer as she hung up the phone and looked at Zerick holding her hand out to him demanding her purse back. “Give me my purse I need to leave if I’m going to make it with a little time to spare before this blows up in my husband’s face.” Dani said seething at him and she could swear her eyes were still on the verge of tears and she held them back.

Zerick watched her be curt even to her own mother watching her fiddle with her purse tears in her eyes she was clearly upset. Which meant she really wasn’t even probably okay to drive and he had taken the purse from her who knew he’d actually care about his Devonshire family this much but it was his second chance he had been given. “You’re clearly upset, let me drive you to the mansion. Hell I’ll even take the back staff entrance so it doesn’t make a huge fuss of you now showing up on Jackson’s arm. No harm no foul and you still get your big moment tonight. I don’t know what has got you all riled or upset but I’m not the enemy right now okay. Besides I actually don’t have a date for the evening to pick up so it works out perfectly.  You can adjust your makeup and hair or whatever I get you there in time. Maybe even win a few points back with Jackson.” Zerick finished looking at her, looking at him and then at her phone.

Dani’s hands were still almost shaking as she looked at Zerick and then at the phone the timer was still ticking down. How had she gotten this so screwed up? She felt like she was in some sort of trance and then she snapped out of it when Zerick made all the logical points of how he could take her to the Summit. Logic that at the moment and the circumstances she couldn’t argue with instead she simply nodded her head at him while she went out of her office locking her door purse in hand attempting to walk with enough confidence as the dress was supposed to have. Confidence that over the past few weeks she felt she was failing on all fronts.


Randall adjusted his tie now that the party was well underway well at least the mingling part was starting he could go over everything he knew and had learned from both Forbes and Lauren. Forbes claimed Victoria was in a blue dress, Lauren had claimed it was purple perhaps Forbes had gotten the color wrong in the night time regardless he had more questions than answers. He felt awful for pushing Lauren when he knew that it would only cause her pain and watching her almost break down, no strike that break down at their date over it was gut wrenching. He had since drawn up a few basic notes and began to write his findings down for the first few chapters mainly giving a history of the the Fraiser family which seemed almost exploitative when he thought about it, it was his job and a lot of it could be found in public records. He had just gotten to the tenth chapter the turning point in the book the time of the actual crash. He was unable to speak to the semi diver who had passed, Forbes driver who had passed. The next on his list was Walter himself current mayor and Victoria’s father. Grabbing a glass of champagne from a passing waiter to calm his nerves he approached slowly.

He had never really fit in here with the uppercrest of Atlas Falls that was more Blythe’s speed and he wondered where she was, clearly as a ranking board member she had to be here as well. He waited a moment as the Governor left Walter’s side before he approached him quietly. “Walter, I was wondering if I could have a moment or two.” Randall said, watching as Walter took a drink of what he assured was scotch or whiskey and shrugged his shoulders before he continued. He knew that currently there was no lost love between Walter and Lauren, he knew that Lauren was seeing him and they had been cordial and it wasn’t like Walter hadn’t tried to move on with Brenda Kincaid again. “I was hoping to talk to you about Victoria. I tried to speak to Lauren about it the other day and it didn’t go very well. I’m trying to get to know her better and understand what she has gone through over the years. I know it is a sensitive subject.” Randall finished watching Walter’s face at the words, the pain etched there behind the mask he normally wore.

Walter watched as Charles slipped away into the party content with what he had asked him to do for Brenda on behalf of Hunter, what could Charles possibly want in return that would be that awful. They were close friends and confidants hell he was the godfather to his daughter, he trusted Charles and it wasn’t like Charles hated Brenda or anything like that. In truth Hunter had gotten himself in over his head with the entire mess with Dimitri and acted out of love to protect his wife and children, that was admirable. They had both agreed that Dimitri was a stain on the city and the state that needed to just go away and he almost rolled his eyes as Randall approached him. He had no reason to dislike him or anything like that. It wasn’t like he was still hung up on Lauren or anything like that but asking about Victoria seemed so cruel and honestly he wasn’t sure he could really help he wasn’t there when the crash happened. He had shown up afterwards with Braden and Brock with him to the scene, Lauren cradling Dani who was being sent to the hospital in an ambulance due to the broken arm she suffered.

“I suppose I could spare a moment or two Randall.” Walter bit out the words catching him off guard must everyone in town knew that about the accident that night. Knew what his family had suffered those weeks until they buried the empty casket at the graveyard. They were never the same after that as a couple or a family and his heart ached for a moment at the memory he definitely hadn’t been the best father or husband after it or before. “I’m not sure I can be a ton of help about what happened that night I arrived after the crash. I would like to think you wouldn’t pester Lauren further about it. She was quite traumatized from that night as was Dani. Besides don’t you have some political thriller to do instead of digging up trauma on my ex wife. Lauren doesn’t deserve to relive that experience over and over again.” Walter said looking at the man that had so easily stepped into Lauren’s life and he had to wonder if he was someone that Lauren would eventually remarry hell he had been surprised that Lauren didn’t immediately call Harvey up to jump in and rescue her from him when the divorice happened. “Honestly I’m a little shocked that you’ve made a go of it with her, she’s always wanted me out and I’m surprised that she didn’t call Harvey LeClerq once the ink was dry.”

“I have no intention of digging up Lauren’s past trauma Walter. I simply would like to know everything about the gorgeous woman that you were so foolish to let go. Victoria was a part of that. I remember her funeral, Blythe and I had been horrified at the time it happened, she had such an outpouring of love devoted to her. Lauren always talks too much about Braden and Dani, about all her grandchildren but she is so closed off with Victoria.” Randall said looking at Walter he knew that Walter had arrived after the crash that was clear from the police reports but that was part of what was so intriguing to him who had actually placed the 911 call that day was it Walter or Forbes there seemed to be no record of a recorded call for the accident. Just hearsay with the various police reports and witness statements. “From what I gather you arrived after the wreck and after Forbes had pulled Lauren and Dani from the lake. Did Forbes by chance mention to you at all why he waited so long to call in the accident?”

Randal paused to let the question sit on Walter for a bit curious about the answer and what he would say, he tried to ignore the statement about Harvey. From his understanding Harvey was still in Paris and hadn’t been seen in Atlas Falls in years, it wouldn’t matter if he did show up or not he was sure of it, he was the man with Lauren now. “You seem to be what’s the word Walter jealous that Lauren and I seemed to have moved on with each other. Seeing how Blythe and I divorced I don’t see how that is any of your business. You were the one that cheated on Lauren for years and had a child with another woman in Brenda. Can’t you just let her be happy or find some happiness at this point in her life. Hell you barely let your own daughter have happiness from what I’ve learned and overheard, don’t you owe Lauren that much?” Randall finished willing to go toe to toe with him if needed. He just wanted answers but the way this man treated Lauren pissed him off to no end.

Walter was irritated with all the questions about the accident. It was traumatic holding his son while Lauren was in shambles comforting their scared daughter in the ambulance who had a broken arm, his nephew was shaken to the core so much that he became a firefighter. He still hated Forbes but there was a mutual understanding that after the accident he did save Dani’s life and instead of two dead children they only had to bury one from it. He took a drink from his glass as he looked at Randall and almost laughed at him. Did he really think he held a candle to Lauren’s precious Harvey? Regardless he thought about that night in his mind while Randall asked Forbes was released to go shortly after he had arrived on scene the man looked incredibly somber almost something he had never seen. He and Lauren quickly collapsed afterwards for the last time she had so much guilt from that night and blame, she cut him off and then their daughter. He had simply gravitated back to Brenda for a short time, the only reason they didn’t divorce being that his close friends told him he was an asshole to throw that on her right after Vicky died.

“I have no idea why Forbes waited so long to call the authorities; perhaps he was more concerned with his hero maneuver to save Dani from the water. Maybe he wanted to make sure that Lauren was conscious along with Dani before he made the call. Regardless, I will always be appreciative of what he did that night. To this day Lauren still won’t drive in the rain so that trauma runs deep.” Walter said watching Randall’s face as he spoke about that night and about Lauren’s pain, she never drove in the rain after hell she still had anxiety when she even drove by the lake. Something that had shocked him when she bought a cottage so close to the water almost as if she was trying to heal in some bizarre way. “Harvey will sneak up on you when you least expect it. Did you know that Lauren had an affair with him, a brief one, but for a while did you know that she wasn’t actually sure I was Dani’s father?” Walter asked not to be afraid to cut into Lauren or Randall’s happiness with that information. He watched the shock on Randall’s face. “It was during Pierre LeClerq’s trial we were separated and he left for France again, we made sure Dani was mine. I don’t hold onto it but I thought you should know, Lauren is far from perfect.”

Randall took in the information he would like to think that Forbes was one of the most calm people that he knew so it seemed odd that he would have been so shaken he couldn’t call the ambulance and waited so long to seek help. He was left with more questions recently than answers when it came to everything with the accident. Too many questions that had open ended answers which meant he needed to talk to Forbes again and then follow up with that firefighter that was still alive to jog his brain as well. He had no idea about Lauren’s fear of the water but he could see why it would affect her, honestly her getting a cottage by the lake if anything he felt relaxed her. He still felt awful about their dinner the other night where he had pushed and pressured her about Victoria. He had been there when her entire face collapsed and she looked like she was off in her own world. He could turn his attention back to Forbes now for follow up. There was no need for him to bother Lauren with it more. He stared at Walter as he spilled a secret that Lauren hadn’t shared with him about Harvey, it wasn’t his place to judge Lauren and honestly could he blame her? She was married to this awful man in front of him for years.

“Well thank you for your time. I certainly didn’t quite expect our first conversation to go like this you seem to have a hard time letting Lauren or your children be happy Walter. I find that quite sad and your dig about Harvey as if I would think less of Lauren for that choice? You’ve always treated her second to Brenda Kincaid can you blame her for seeking comfort with someone else finally?” Randall sneered he honestly could say he despised this man in front of him if you could even call him that, he wasn’t a good father nor had he been a good husband to Lauren. In his mind everyone was better off if Walter remained at Brenda’s side for the abuse he put his family through. “Clearly something has always been lacking with you for Lauren to finally give into Harvey after years, don’t gloat Walter the only person at the moment who didn’t get a happy ending was you wasn’t it? Your ex wife is, both your children are and you’re still miserable that must be hard.” Randall finished downing his drink and placing it on a tray as he saw Aspen with Rory in the room leaving Walter and his miserable self alone.

Walter wanted to roll his eyes at Randall such a schmuck in his mind worrying about what he had done to Lauren left and right it was in the past that was all he knew. His family was moving forward as crazy as that sounded to everyone else; they weren’t pretending anymore; he or Lauren and their children knew that too. He picked up his drink and took a sip watching Randall walk away. His mind drifted to Victoria. He sometimes wondered if he and Lauren would have been happy if she would have lived, if that divide wouldn’t have swallowed them whole separately. He had done the same with Kendall as well, would Victoria or Brooke have even been born had Brenda kept their daughter and left Steven? He would have liked to think that he and Lauren would have divorced, he would have raised Braden and Dani amicably with her. Brenda would have done the same with Anderson, Hunter and Brooke and they would have been a blended family. He wasn’t sure how they would have made it. The hurt between them was always there but now all he had to look forward to was the now and the future.

A future that for the moment was looking bright and upcoming for his family Braden would land on his feet, Dani was with Jackson taking DGI places. His nephew was unfortunately marrying Harvey’s niece bur that was a simple thing he could overlook. Zach was going to marry Mason and it seemed that his other niece was happy as well with Willow, Harvey’s daughter so it was a two out of three deal on his side. Regardless he wasn’t going to dwell on it the LeClreq’s would fall again flat on their faces he was sure of it. He glanced over at Charles wondering if he was going to follow through on their agreement to help Hunter or not. Brenda could have all her children around her while she was going through her medical crisis just like he had Braden and Dani around him if something were to happen. Down the line he and Brenda could reconcile and everyone could learn to get along. Looking over at Brenda who had arrived he simply tipped his glass to her, he put the glass to his lips taking a drink. The past was in the past, which included both Kendall and Victoria so that meant he was moving forward and on.


After seeing Dru Price with Lex Hessington he was wondering what the hell type of game she was playing. One moment it was Zerick, rumors were swirling she was screwing his old friend Ronan Madden, and now Lex. This chase wasn’t even fun but seeing her with Lex made him want her even more. He would think about her riding his cock and how satisfied she was with him. Now he wasn’t sure what Dru’s intentions were. She gave him the information on the Kincaid’s that he exposed now he was wondering even more what her endgame was. He’d gotten into bed with her but he wasn’t even sure if she was trustworthy. Watching  her spinning around the room he gritted his teeth. Thinking with his dick two years ago led to him being shot. No woman would play him so easily again. Slowly following behind her as Lex stopped to speak with Julian and Mason. That’s when he saw her staring at Walter Fraiser and Brenda Kincaid dancing publicly. He guess the dirt on the Kincaid name was diminishing but Hunter was still a murderer. Interesting, this was very interesting. What were you after? His eyes grew dark but something immediately caught Philip’s attention and he wasn’t going to ignore it. Dru would have to wait and her screwing another man wasn’t worthy of his attention at this very moment. Stalking Scarlett made him feel powerful but he’d become adept at being seen but not being visible.

Philip lurched behind his father who was arm and arm with Blythe. Now he knew his aunt was a powerful woman and she’d been a vital part in DGI’s growth. He wouldn’t be surprised if his father was luring her away. He just didn’t trust him or Blythe for that matter. She’d always been distant especially after his mother’s death. She kept in touch but she knew the abuse his mother had dealt with under the hands of his father. He wasn’t physical but he mentally destroyed his mother and that wasn’t something he’d forgotten. He hid behind the corner as he watched Blythe and Forbes entering the study. He wanted to know what his father was after. In life he taught Cassie and himself that you had to be two steps ahead of your enemies. Isn’t it funny his  life lessons would lead him down a path of destruction.

Forbes touched Blythe’s shoulder and felt Audrey all around them. Instead of that being a comfort it was anxiety rushing through his body. Years had been kind to Blythe still ravishing but she had that look that haunted him. The same look that Philip and Cassie had it was the eyes of his first wife. It had been far to painful at one point to be around Blythe. It was like looking at a mirror but once upon a time they had been tight. Randall, Blythe, Audrey and himself were quite good friends before Forbes lost it all and had to leave to rebuild. Mexico changed him and right now he knew he had to nip Randall’s curiosity at the bud. If anyone knew the past of what really happened to Victoria well that wouldn’t be good for any of them. “So I texted you to meet me for two reasons. One I have an executive position open and I would love to bring you on and the second is I need a favor. I never asked for anything from you or Randall for Aspen. I brought her to you and placed the baby in your arms. I need for Randall to drop this book idea.”

Forbes folded his arms as he looked at her. “Randall is dredging up some very painful memories for not just me but his new woman. Now I see it wasn’t a bitter divorce and you two still have a lot of love for each other. I’m asking you to help me bury this book deal. I’m currently using MontCorp to try and buy Randall’s publishing house to squash this. Look, I saved Lauren and Dani Fraiser years ago. It’s not a big deal as he’s making it and that is my issue. Randall is trying to revive his already lagging career off my back and Lauren’s. I might not show it but I’ve always had a soft spot for Lauren Frasier.” Folding his arms and looking into Blythe eyes that she shared with her big sister. “Lauren and the Fraiser’s don’t deserve this unearthing. If he locates Victoria’s body or even opens that wound it would kill his relationship with Lauren I know that for certain.”

Philip leaned in closer to hear Blythe’s response. He could tell she was always the biggest crusader for Aspen and to a certain extent Randall. It was something off though. Forbes Montgomery would never go to mother’s sister for help. Unless he was starting to begin feeling cornered. That was enough to intrigue him. What was the big bad wolf Forbes afraid of?

Blythe had been invited to the party of course as a high ranking executive in the engineering division she was set to be here she wasn’t dressed to the nines as most of the other ladies here but her business suit seemed to suit her. She had spoken to a few investors and of course the members of the city council, her jaw locked frankly she found it infuriating that quite possibly Lowell was going to to displace Chauncey then again perhaps Lowell’s eldest had gotten to big for his britches and this was a way for Lowell to make sure of that. Regardless, she was going to do her best when it came to making sure that DGI soared either way and had been a bit shocked when Forbes approached her to ask for a moment alone. She knew about Randall’s book; it had been something that she had asked him about and she had hoped that he got rid of the foolish notion to continue with it. Mainly because if all the pain it would bring to Randall’s career and as much as she hated to admit it the Frasier’s.

“Everyone knows how much of a hero you were that night Forbes. I have no idea why Randall is pushing this so hard. I remember Audrey calling me that night in such a panic when you arrives home in those wet clothes jumping into the water to save them.” Blythe said picking up her glass of champagne and taking a sip as they were now inside the study of the Devonshire estate. She knew how much Forbes prided himself on being this big super bad businessman but she knew there were sparks of kindness there. Kindness that had extended to Lauren Fraiser that night when he and his driver stopped. She had thought about little Vicky Fraiser over the years since then she would be Aspen’s age. One of the main reasons she didn’t attend the funeral was Forbes had helped them adopt Aspen that same week and it seemed insensitive. “I’ve spoken to him about the book he seems set on completing it. As for MontCorp, what could you offer me? I have a good and steady career here at the top of my field.” Blythe said for years Forbes had always courted her to leave DGI.

Forbes looked at Blythe as he walked around her. “I have so much to give you. Other than a good and steady career, what about a career that makes you feel something. It has to be hard, an empty nest, no husband, and a job that truly doesn’t appreciate your brilliance. You should be right there with Chauncey at the top of the weapons and engineering divisions. Except nepotism has blocked you from the top spot. I want to make you something special to MontCorp and head of our Engineering divisions and also bring Aspen in as our social media manager. I think that could be brilliant. Plus I want Aspen around the family as much as she needs. The Devonshire’s aren’t her family and they’ll turn on her. She is a Montgomery through Audrey and they shun my beloved. Look at how Philip and Cassandra are treated. Now listen I don’t want all this attention on my family or the Fraiser’s.” Forbes said planting the seeds inside of Blythe’s head.

“You do know Rory won’t protect your daughter. When the time comes he, like every Devonshire before him, will betray her. I only mention it because my son ended up with a bullet inside of him. Now did he milk it for all it was worth absolutely but I do know that Aspen is fragile and the secrets that Devonshire’s carry well it could break her. So tell me you’ve watched Chauncey, Jackson, Max, Bliss and my goddaughter Belle. They aren’t good people and you know that Rory will eventually get what he wants. As in my daughter Yasmine and Aspen’s cousin I’ll try all that I can to prevent that. I think we need to unify our family and they more than likely don’t know they are related. Well I’m sure Yasmine doesn’t seem to know it.” He folded his arms and waited for his ex-sister-in-law to say something. “Let’s work together to show the world DGI isn’t the only powerhouse in Atlas Falls.”

Blythe looked at him he was partially right one of the many reason when Lowell had asked her weeks ago who she considered to be most qualified for his job she had said Chauncey. Mainly because she wanted Chauncey’s spot and they had a mutual understanding and admiration for each other. Regardless she was willing to wait out Lowell’s announcement and then make a decision on her career going forward. “Who is to say that Lowell won’t bestow that title on me after tonight I have been completely loyal to him and DGI for years. Nothing has blocked me from that spot if I wanted it that badly than I could have it. As for Aspen and her career, I’m not even sure that is where her head is at right now. Given that fight that she and Yasmine had.” Blythe said looking at Forbes she and Randall had kept Aspen from Forbes for a tie after Audrey died but Aspen did love her cousins in Cassie and Philip. Surly the man before couldn’t be that daft when it came to everything with Aspen and Yasmine after what happened at Renards. She still thought fighting over Rory Devonshire was foolish but who was she to control Aspen’s heart, her daughter would have to make her own choices.

“All I know is that Rory but Aspen right back into the middle of his mess with Yasmine and it resulted in disastrous consequences what in your right mind would let you even think that I’d want Aspen to go to MontCorp. Where she would have to deal with girl that caused her miscarriage. Rory hopefully has learned from his mistakes, believe me if he hasn’t myself or Aspen will remind him.” Blythe bit out she knew Rory was fickle afterall he was Lowell’s son and had slept with Yasmine while he was with Aspen. She didn’t know Yasmine from Adam and if Audrey was alive that would probably send her sister to the grave all over again dealing with Forbes bringing Yasmine into the family a reminder of his affair with the hooker Trisha Kohl from all those years ago right in her face. She took a drink of her champagne looking at Forbes knowing that he was speaking truth she had been around the Devonshire’s long enough to know they always took what they wanted with little regard for anyone else or the consequences. Surely Aspen had wised up that she needed to play it smart if she expected to bag Rory for good. “As for the Fraiser’s you can’t stand most of them except for Lauren why does a simple book by Randall bother you so much. I know you are haunted by that night Audrey told me right before she died it haunted you, why?” Blythe finished watching Aspen with Rory, Max and Max’s catch of the year Sebastian across the room.

Philip listened closely because auntie Blythe just asked the million dollar question. What had his father so concerned with Randall’s silly little book about a drowned Fraiser? Look it was a sad story and for once the Montgomery’s were in the news for good press. What Forbes did was admirable and that along with Anjelica helped rebuild his image. Help make MontCorp an international conglomerate that could compete with DGI. It was the image rehab he needed and this could be exactly what they needed after his disastrous public outing with Dimitri. Anjelica had warned that she wouldn’t let Forbes vendetta tank MontCorp. That was enough for him to feel like Jaoquin or Xiomara was close to coming here and or the wicked bitch herself.

“I think I heard that Aspen became irrational and from the camera footage she attacked my daughter. Now I don’t think we should argue about whose daughter is victimizing who? I mean let’s be frank the white girl gets to out my daughter a biracial woman in front of a wedding? She gets to attack Yasmine and the moment Yasmine fights back she’s the bad guy. Your daughter was and isn’t a saint Blythe just as mine isn’t. So let’s stop pretending. As badly as I hate to say it, Yasmine cares about me more because her mother is alive. Cassie and Philip both resent that the parent they love is dead and I know that. I won’t turn my back on Yasmine for you or anyone else. So with that being said I want to end the feud between the girls. I want them to be a united front. The Devonshire’s will throw her away and soon enough you’ll see that first hand. Wait until Aspen does something that they find to be unbecoming. You’ll see if she is still persona grata. As for why Aspen should work at MontCorp it’s as much a part of her legacy as Cassie, Yasmine, and Philip.” He commented as he folded his arms. “Plus what is my niece doing with her life other than getting pregnant and chasing after Rory Devonshire. A woman who has made a name for herself in business surely couldn’t want Aspen to just sit and be a bride.” Forbes said playing to the feminist inside of Blythe.

He could tell she resented Yasmine’s presence and that intrigued him. Was his dick supposed to stay in his pants when Audrey was throwing her affair in his face? Was he supposed to just roll over and allow her to continue to be the whore she was? No he wasn’t so every chance he got he belittled and berated her for the slut she was. “This is simple Blythe, stop him or I will. That time was painful for me shortly afterwards I lost Audrey or have you forgotten that. She died in that bathtub and I’ve been haunted ever since. I put my all into our marriage until I found out she could care less. Audrey wasn’t a good person and Lauren is. You see Lauren doesn’t deserve this and I can also say I don’t either. I don’t want to be reminded that I failed to save a little girl’s life. I didn’t do all I could do. That was enough for me to never want this book to see the light.”

Who was this man and where the fuck had they hid his father? Philip wasn’t buying in fact he knew it was a pile of shit because his father didn’t have compassion nor regrets. He was vicious and this could only mean one thing. He was lying. He’d lived with Forbes long enough to know he wasn’t telling the truth in fact he was manipulating whatever this was. He didn’t want Blythe at MontCorp in fact he had no use for her in general. He only put up with her because she was their only biological connection to Audrey. Whatever this was Philip was intrigued and why did he care about that damn Fraiser who drowned. She was more popular than a hooker in a government building. He waited for Blythe’s response as he looked behind him. This was it he felt it. This was what he was hiding and if they could uncover it he’d have the power to finally boot Forbes from MontCorp. To end the feud with DGI under his terms and finally have all the power he wanted.

Blythe looked at Forbes and wondered what Audrey saw in him all those years to stay with him and now he wanted to lecture her about Yasmine Kohl and Randall’s book? Lifting the champagne to her lips she took a gulp while she looked at him she hardly thought this book would be as ground breaking as he was making it out to be. If anything it would show people the compassionate and human side that was underneath all that bravado after what he had done to poor Katie and her son it was just the clean up that he needed. “You want to stop Randall from writing his book by all means go talk to him and do it I’m not his keeper or his wife. I am well aware that my sister slit her own damned wrists in a bathtub you most certainly don’t need to remind me of it seeing how she found out about your little side fling with that drug addicted whore. I doubt Aspen will be as forgiving of her cousin as you would like.” Blythe said her voice low when she said it there were other reasons too the reasons that she had chosen to keep for her sister Lowell’s unborn child that she miscarried but that was neither here nor there anymore. She knew what pushed a man like Forbes’ buttons being told no it was all over his face while she took another sip of her champagne and let go of his arm. “Now I really do need to go mingle with the rest of the board.” She finished waving to a few coworkers as she let go of his arm and walked away.

Philip slipped into the darkness as he watched Blythe leaving the room. A smile appeared on his face. He didn’t plan on talking to Cassie about this because she was the enemy. Honestly they both wanted the head of MontCorp this was a game who’d destroy father first for it. They weren’t the Devonshire’s getting handed the fortune. They were Montgomery’s and this was it. They took what they wanted. This was how he was going to take the company. Whatever his father was hiding he’d find out and trust Forbes Montgomery was a lot of things but altruistic isn’t it.


Atticus made sure to go over the talking points for the evening with his entire staff while Brooke had gotten ready for the event. He had made it very clear that questions about Dimitri’s murder would not be taken, nor would the crown be making a statement about Hunter’s arrest. He also informed them that the courtesy would need to be expanded to the former Her Royal Highness Bliss as well, which had raised a few eyebrows. He had meant that he wanted to protect her, Fox and the unborn child she was carrying the last thing she needed was to be railroaded. He had spoken to the prime minister about Hutner’s situation and the most they had agreed to was that he could make a case to the authorities to let Isla Del Cruces take over the investigation. He doubted that would actually happen but he wanted to at least try. He then went ahead and went over everything else for the presentation tonight, he had been thrilled with the model that DGI had done to show the panels on the island. Something he knew was still a smart and wise investment for his country. There was no turning back now on that front they would be moving forward with the panels project. His people would applaud the decavuoj and hopefully put the mark of his brother behind then in the process. When they let him know it was time to go he waited outside the bedroom for Brooke and his jaw as always dropped to the floor when she came out in her gown, the color was perfect the rich purple of royalty and he leaned in kissing her lips before taking her hand and guiding her to their waiting limousine to take them to the Devonshire mansion. They walked the runway like the royal couple he knew they were always ready to be and shook hands as they went. Brooke of course enjoyed the flashing lights clearly the runway agreed with her enough it translated to this moment.

She was going to make an amazing queen regent when it happened and once Fox was of age they would step aside. He often wondered if their children would hate that or not to be cast aside for their cousin but that was something they could figure out down the line. Fox of course was the heir apparent and he and Brooke were simply stepping in till he was of age and depending on how agreeable Bliss was to their arrangement he wondered a lot about their future. Pulling Brooke to his side as they greeted the Governor and her brother Anderson he reached for two champagne glasses handing on to her. “To us and Isla Del Cruces. To the future king and queen and the crown.” Atticus said, taking a sip to his toast and then dipping her for a kiss for the cameras. He lifted back up when he saw Jackson approach and shook his hand. “There is the man of the hour and that has put all of this together ” He said, greeting his new found friend for the cameras a bit perplexed about where Dani was.

Brooke felt like the future Queen of a kingdom tonight. The lights, the people she’d met, and how everyone seemed to take her more seriously. She wasn’t just a model, she was the Queen regent. As they glided down the red carpet she felt even more regal. Tonight was going to be the first night as the future king and queen. That made her feel proud as she turned her head with the sparkling tiara in her hair looking at Gia and Ronan dancing in the room. For some reason everyone was photographing Lex with some slutty looking girl. She was striking but that dress was not for this event. Instead gawking at Ronan and Gia as she had in the past she walked right by them not even paying attention to them. Gia was beneath her and Ronan had proved she meant nothing to him. So at this point she could care less about him or him having a baby. For the first time since her leaving him she truly felt like they were done. This feeling of completion was enough to ensure that she would be marrying Atticus. The relationship was going better than good. It was fantastic. Each day he showed her what life on the island would be like. Not only that, they discussed the native traditions on the island. The dancing, and food so she would never be or look shocked or confused. A couple of days ago Hugo even sent national  ambassadors to teach her everything she needed to learn before arriving. Placing her hand on his chest she smiled at him as Jackson approached them.

“I have to say Jackson, I’ve watched you for years. I mean considering your baby brother and I practically spent every waking moment with each other from Teletubbies on up. I’m so proud of the transition you’ve made. I think I can speak for my fiance and the people of Ilsa De Cruces. Your panels will change so many lives in our country.” She saw Atticus’ eyes light up as she took his hand into his own.  “Tell me where the hell is the lady of the hour. I always respected how Dani scrubbed you clean. I mean you did a little work but behind every great man is an even better woman.” She turned around looking for Dani but didn’t seem to find her.

Jackson knew people were beginning to whisper. He needed to figure out what he was going to do about Dru but first he had to find his wife. Where in the hell was Dani, Jackson thought he smiled at Brooke. Everyone had basically said the same thing but Dani being not by his side made him feel like a failure. Had he missed some special date? Was she upset with him? Had Lex and Dru already gotten to his wife? Underneath the perfect smile he plastered on he felt the pressure mounting of everything and for a brief moment he thought about going to Ronan. Asking for a hit or for him to get one of his dealers here. He shook the thought out of his head Donovan and Jolene didn’t need him off his game. Hell DGI didn’t deserve to be taken away from all the hard work they’d done. Jackson picked up his fourth glass of champagne and felt the uneasiness of the moment swelling. Taking another gulp of the golden liquid he smiled at them.

“Well you know you girls always love a grand entrance. I hate to admit it but my wife has adjusted to the rich life quicker than I thought. She’s still getting ready but she should be here any moment. I do want to tell you both that I appreciate the panels going into Isla De Cruces first. Then the revitalization of Scottswood. I’ve been taking on a lot but this project is truly dear to my heart. Also I want to promise you Brooke we are doing all we can to get Hunter out. He doesn’t deserve to go down for a crime that he didn’t commit and a crime that doesn’t have a criminal. I mean your brother tortured my sister, my sister-in-law, and someone who is like a sister to me. He won’t be missed by me or anyone else to be honest and believe that Hunter going down for this just isn’t correct or right.” Jackson leaned in and touched Brooke’s shoulder. “We will be getting my friend out of this alright?”

Atticus agreed with Jackson about the entire Hunter situation Otto had actually been receptive of his plight. He had no idea when Otto would bring it up to his father, the king. But it could be done that Hunter could come home and the charges could be dropped. “Agreed it is like I told Brooke and Bliss the other day I am working to make sure Hunter is released. Our prime minister finally I think saw reason earlier today in a private phone call I had with him. My father is grieving and acting irrationally he knew what a monster Dimitri had become. Despite what Bliss may or may not think of the crown, we do stand by her side, Tamara and Selina’s side along with the many women that came forward back home. We have even started a fund for them to heal from all the trauma.” Atticus said as dark and depressing as the entire situation was, he wanted to make everything right where it was concerned with Dimitri, turn all his pain into something that was a distant memory. It was just taking his father longer to accept that then he thought was necessary, but he would come around he was sure of it and it took a little blackmail from Otto to make it happen he could make sure of that part his district was the last to receive the solar panels. Brooke never had to know that but it was something he was willing to do in order to set Hunter free.

“Women do like their grand entrance. I was just telling Brooke her grand entrance into society back home will be something to witness, perhaps even more so than we are crowned. Carpets will be pulled out, a carriage will take us around the main city and then we go on a tour of the island for a few weeks. I am quite sure that Brooke will want everything perfect, no doubt that is what is keeping Dani at the moment as well.” Atticus said he had seen the pictures from his parents tour of the country the way they fawned over his mother not his father, the crown was power but when a woman married into it, that is where the focus always went. It mattered not that his father was King when he married his mother she became Queen elevated in status on the island, watched and adored. He supposed tonight was about the same for DGI in some respects. If Lowell named Jackson as CEO which he knew was going to happen, it meant eyes would be on Jackson and Dani. Much like eyes had been on his parents and even Jackie and Lowell. Eyes that would be on him and Brooke once home and married. “I have assured Brooke it really doesn’t matter what she wears as long as she is by my side.” Atticus said smiling for the pictures when he finally caught Dani out of the corner of his eyes approaching them. “It seems your lady of the hour has finally arrived. Looking lovely as always unfortunately I think for all of us the main talk will be of how your nanny is dressed.” Atticus said catching a glance from Brooke he shrugged it was not his fault that Dru Price was literally showing it all to every man in the room.

Dani wasn’t even sure how Zerick had gotten them there so fast but he had made good on his word, he had parked in the back on the way over and she had taken the time to refresh her makeup. She had even had time to pin her hair up in a french twist as she entered the back door handing her purse off to the staff and thanking Zerick when he left. She had stayed in the back for a few moments to clear her head. First she was going to put on the best smile she could, go find her husband and mingle and then apologize till she was blue in the face if she had too. All the implications that would arise because of her screw up they would deal with hell she’d even quit the fundraiser at this rate. Clearly that was becoming more of a problem than she thought it would, maybe she even needed to quit DGI before she clearly lost it. She gathered herself before entering the room greeting people as she did. The attention in the room was on Dru who was with Lex, the dress honestly shocked her and even partly made her more self conscious of herself clearly that was going to be the talk of the night and not her and Jackson’s arrival. That was what men wanted, maybe Jackson wanted that now. Most of the eyes were on her nanny; she didn’t even know that Dru and Lex knew each other that well. Shaking her head at it all, she took a breath and finally spotted Jackson with Brooke and Atticus and she swiftly made her way towards them.

Smiling for the press as she did, casting her eyes to her mother as she did, she was not her aunt and she’d do whatever it took to make sure that Jackson’s place at DGI was secure and that her family was secure. She may not have been wearing a dress that left literally nothing to the imagination, just a little for her husband but she’d die before she let Jackson be embarrassed the press was already coming after them. The article they ran with her and Lex before Jackie’s arrest, the article they ran when Jackson punched Lex that day. She had no idea what was happening between them but clearly they needed to do better. Her eyes met Jackson’s when she approached and she leaned up kissing him gently letting the camera’s snap their picture while her hand rested on his cheek eat that press, she thought to herself. “Sorry I’m late. Traffic was awful.” Dani said softly he knew she was meeting with Grant but she would have never scheduled that call that late if she hadn’t mixed up the times so bad and wasn’t so jumbled lately. She looked at Brooke and Atticus. They really were such a lovely couple and Brooke as always looked lovely and flawless. “You look so regal Brooke. Lovely to see you again Atticus.” Dani said, greeting them both with a hug before she wrapped her arm around Jackson’s waist.

He wrapped his arm around Dani and felt an instant sense of comfort. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do about Lex and Dru but he was sure that his wife would believe him. Or would she? After all his reputation wasn’t pristine and he had always been a womanizer. What if Dani believed them? That question seemed to echo through his head. He saw Dani as perfection and didn’t know how she would handle this secret that was burning to the surface. His nerves were becoming bad and he smiled as he leaned down and kissed her forehead. “I don’t want to sexualize you but my wife is the most beautiful woman in the room. Sorry Brookie.” He winked at the girl who was more like a little sister than the stunning woman he saw before him. He saw Atticus and Brooke smiling as he stroked Dani’s back. Leaning down he whispered in her ear. “I don’t care where you were, I’m just glad you made it because I needed you. Have you seen Dru?”

His eyes followed Dani’s glance across the room and she looked shocked as he was when he saw Dru. Not to mention who she was with. “I didn’t even know she knew Lex.” He said feeling like that man was invading his life. His wife, his mother, and now his nanny. “She came flaunting this all round the party.” He mumbled as he looked at Atticus and Brooke. “Well I hear wedding bells are coming soon for you two.” Jackson said as he touched Atticus’ back. “Man you have a good woman. She’s always been good person and a good friend to my baby brother. I can’t believe you’re about to be a Queen Brooke. It looks very well on you.” Jackson said as he winked at her.

Brooke snorted a giggle out. It felt so crazy that she was about to be a Queen and not only that help rule a country. Change things day by day and that made her feel alive. “No Dani, you look amazing honey. Val has really hooked you up and I love it. You’re looking more like a Devonshire every day and I like it on you. In fact I remember when Jackson was dating a lot of women and for you girl to lock him down well you are a powerful woman.” She teased the clearly beautiful couple before her as she took Atticus’ hand into her own. “Shall we all toast to the new beginning starting between Isla De Cruces and DGI? I mean my fiance is very excited to bring power to his country’s most impoverished people.” Brooke said, waving a waitress over. “I haven’t seen Bliss much, is she here Dani? I know you just came but I also know you two are fairly tight. She’s been having a rough time with my brother and Jackson I do appreciate your kind words. My brother thinks what he is doing is noble, I happen to think along the lines of Mason. He’s a bonehead.”

Dani felt him relax by her side and made a note to check in with him later in private clearly all the stress was starting to weigh on him, when he apologized for sexualizing her she almost wanted to snort. Honestly that was one of the reasons she loved him, that he desired her in that way but she was touched by the gesture. She cast a glance at Dru when he mentioned her again and let her mind wander: was that what men desired to be that bold in public? How had she been so blind to that, had she really stuck her head in the sand as she watched most of the men gawking at her nanny. Had Jackson gawked at her like that, did he do it when she wasn’t around? She reminded herself that she had to be secure and trust him, he’d never cheated on her before they got married. Why would he now? She’d like to think they respected each other and loved each other that much. She trusted the man next to her with everything in her life including his fidelity to her and she touched his back through his coat returning the gesture. She had no idea what Lex was doing with Dru but maybe that wasn’t a bad thing if it meant he quit coming onto her all the time.

“Maybe he took your advice finally and moved on. I’m still a little shocked that will be a headline, our nanny’s cleavage all over the papers but we’ll handle it.” Dani said quietly into his ear, placing a slight kiss there before looking at Brooke and Atticus, grabbing the champagne glass to toast with Brooke. Her eyes scanned the room looking for Bliss, she had checked in with her over the last week with the entire thing with Hunter and frankly she agreed with Mason and Jackson on it Hunter was being a stubborn bonehead, but she got it too, he wanted to protect Bliss and their children. “To this partnership may it bloom and benefit every one of us. You two as King and Queen of Isla Del Cruces, the people of your country. May it benefit us at DGI and here at home. Also to your upcoming wedding we are both so excited for you both.” Dani agreed, taking a sip feeling a slight relief when the paparazzi had their fill and seemed to move on. Honestly she preferred Atticus for Brooke over someone like Ronan Madden. “I know she’s here and if I see her I’ll tell her you’re looking for her. Your brother wants to be honorable for her and the kids. I think we can all agree Hunter was a bonehead about it.”

Atticus was so proud of the woman that Brooke was graceful and kind everything that a Queen needed to be. She would be amazing at it and he already knew that but to see the couple they had become friends with share the same sentiment made him extremely proud. He knew there would be doubt back on the island he was afterall marrying a foreign and an American at that but he knew that Brooke was up for the task. They had overcome so much his entire fling with Belle that had destroyed them the first time because he was listening to Dimitri of all people for advice. Brooke herself had grown from the encounter though he thoroughly hated the man she chose to do it with, Ronan was a monster just like his brother was. Not a rapist or abuser, but he wasn’t stupid and did his research the man ran and operated a crime organization that was so steeped in drugs, trafficking, sex and violence that he was grateful everyday that Brooke had survived it. That Brooke was over that phase in her life not to mention that Ronan had tossed her aside when it got too much and it meant that he was able to come home and woo her back to his side where she belonged. He held her hand firmly in his own; they were united on every front about to take over a country together.

“I echo Brooke’s toast to this evening I’m looking forward to Isla Del Cruces working with DGI on the panels and possible other projects in the future. I will always be connected to Atlas Falls as that is where Brooke is from and where Bliss has chosen to have Fox stay.” Atticus said looking at Brooke with a small smile he wasn’t happy about what was going on with Bliss wanting to completely alienate Fox from the island and his heritage but technology was growing more and more. Once Hunter was out of jail perhaps they could work on something so that Fox still felt connected to his family on the island, as much as Bliss disliked his father at the moment Fox had a bond with both him and his mother.  “I see that Otto has arrived, perhaps we should make our way over my love to see where he is at with everything with Hunter?” Atticus asked, kissing Brooke’s hand before looking at Jackson and shaking his hand. “I will see you on stage later then to cut the ribbon with the Governor?” He finished hoping that their toasts all came true for all the success in their lives.

“You will see us sooner than that. Maybe we can all go out for drinks before the big wedding or something.” Jackson had to admit Atticus was smooth. He had taken over a country with a blink of an eye. It made him wonder if he had what it took to take over DGI. With all this drama right now with Dru and Lex he was overwhelmed. If he told Dani would she believe him or would she fall prey to the lies. If he didn’t tell Dani and Dru kept going it was no telling what her next stunt would be. As he said earlier was Dru incredibly sex and had a sexual aura all over her. He’d have to be daft to not see it but this was something different. She was after something he’d seen that look in Zerick’s eyes, Greer’s eyes, and hell his own older brother Chauncey. They all had touched the fire and were willing to set everything ablaze for the glory. Maybe if Simon found out who Dru was then this could all be over. If he could expose her before she did anything else. “We need to talk now.” He waved at Brooke and Atticus walking away.

Brooke looked back and swore she felt a sense of something was off. She always liked Dani and if their parents had it their way then they’d share a sibling. She quickly looked back and saw them smiling and waving. Maybe she was wrong but she felt something was off. What did Jackson and Dani have to worry about? They were an inspiration to all. How her love changed him and transformed him into this man that was now about to be CEO of DGI if rumors were correct. She had given him something amazing and that was something she admired. “They are beautiful and I’m sort of jealous. Could you imagine literally having that sort of happy ending.” Her eyes shifted to Ronan and she smirked. “Nevermind I can, I can imagine how perfect my life as Queen will be and you as my King. But we don’t need the title Atticus, you are my king already.”


Max had done the polite thing small talked with Aspen and Rory till she was sick of all of them and Sebastian. She had made the excuse she needed to use the bathroom and instead had taken a damned break from the suffocating room. Sebastian was so uptight about a simple glass of champagne he’d probably kill over to know she was limiting herself to only two and was on her second now. When did he get to uptight, where did the fun and carefree Sebastian that she had met in Spain gone? Now he was all about the baby this and the baby that, when they should get married. Honestly she thought so much about taking care of the pregnancy early on it wouldn’t have been the first time she had. But had decided against it Sebastian was a good man and person, the pregnancy had just thrown her entire life upside down in a way she didn’t want. She didn’t want children, never had wanted that cute little dream of a house with a picket fence with children running around. She almost snorted thinking about the farmhouse remodel paperwork she had seen in Sebastian’s bag the other day.

She was not going to the Thorpe farm to be milking cows with dirt on her hands to live, did he not get that she was a Devonshire? Perhaps it was all because he was so far from his own family in Spain where they lived on this massive vineyard complete with a villa that was styled like a farmhouse. That wasn’t her life and it never would be child or not, she much preferred buying the poshest house she could or even better a penthouse somewhere, no lawn to mow or land to care for. Privacy of course paid for with the best money could buy, it would be close to work not a drive to get anywhere and the clubs it could be close to the clubs too. She supposed that would have to change to but she quite liked a night out and at one point Sebastian did too. Did he expect her to become domesticated like Hunter and Bliss were? Hell she loved her twin brother to pieces marriage and a family fit him too. That wasn’t in the cards for her her mind wandered a bit to her entire marriage with Hunter. A marriage that was for convenience if she was honest with herself she married because of the mess with that professor at college and then to please her parents. If she had really loved Hunter, she simply wouldn’t have carried on an affair with Ryan Walker and then Philip Montgomery. She raised the glass to her lips taking a drink as she saw the door to the sitting room open and hoped it wasn’t Sebsatian she wasn’t looking for another argument instead she saw her father.

“Dad? Did I miss the big ribbon cutting ceremony and Jackson’s speech?  Aren’t you supposed to be out and getting ready for your big announcement?” Max asked wondering why he wasn’t out with the rest of the party the announcement was bound to happen a little later in the evening and she had glared at Tess when she saw her earlier. The way her mother simply continued on with the constant disrespect that Tess and sometimes her father showed her was beyond her. She saw her father looking at her glass of champagne and she took a sip, he’d done far worse. “I can see why you like this room I didn’t even hear you down the hallway, did you soundproof it during the Audrey years? The last thing I need is another disapproving look, it’s a glass maybe two. Besides if it was more I’m pretty sure Sebastian would try and have me committed.”

“Your mother would have two glasses every night. She’d say one for each baby.” Lowell said looking at Max who seemed so unlike Bliss. She wasn’t maternal in fact he was sure his eldest daughter would have never married again or have a child. Yet here she was pregnant and getting bigger every time he saw her. That made him smile brightly and as he reached out to Max and looked into her eyes. “I just came in here to get some air. I’m not feeling the best right now. I have a light headache and I just can’t seem to collect my words properly. How do I say goodbye to something that I built. Now honestly I had help but it was my business acumen that made DGI. Personally I’m surprised to see you without Sebastian following after you. He seems very dedicated to making sure that baby is safe and you’re happy. But I’ve changed your diapers and kissed almost every boo-boo you had. Do you believe that I don’t see you?” He asked as he raised his eyebrow. “Max what’s the matter? Sebastian seems like a man that you can love but I know you like I know Chauncey and Belle. You three have me most inside of you and I fear leaving this earth and alone without guidance. I bred Chauncey to be an animal and vicious. Honestly I’m not sure what he will do with being second.” Finally letting it out that Chauncey wouldn’t be getting the CEO position. “As for Belle she’s desperate for love and a place to belong and you well my little girl you my princess you are never content. Nothing makes you completely happy and I see me in you. That is a problem.” Lowell said, looking at her sternly.

“Your siblings all ostracized me for how I hurt Jackie. Now I have to ask Max, do you want to do what I did to you children to your child and the man who loves you? I don’t believe you are cheating or doing anything but that feeling of never being satisfied well it will lead to more drama. Sweetie I want you to be content and if Sebastian will provide that then I assure you that you are worthy of a simple and happy love.” He paused as he looked at her. “Sometimes fire is warm and other times it burns you so badly that you never recover from that pain. Maximillia, I want to offer you something as well. What do you think about taking on the CMO position?” Lowell looked at her eyes shimmering with excitement. “I just think you deserve it just as much as the boys and this position means you’ll be in every department working with Jackson, Simon, Rory, Bliss and everyone so that you don’t feel so tied down.”

Max had to smile wondering and thinking it was a miracle her mother didn’t become a lush like Brenda while pregnant. There was something so archaic about just sitting around and having children and raising them but here she was. She pursed her lips when he brought up that Sebastian wasn’t around in truth he wasn’t happy with her at the moment. Her heart ached for a moment when he brought up that he wasn’t feeling well she knew his health was declining. “Honestly I thought you’d hand it all over to Chauncey a few years ago, then you didn’t. I still remember when uncle Linus and aunt Camille would tell us how you stole everything from Walter along with the rest and how intrigued I was back in the day wanting to be exactly like you. As for Sebastian, I need a break from him and his hovering over every little thing, he seems to think that I’m desperate to marry him or stay home with the baby.” She said looking at him and taking a sip of her champagne and she let that sink in for him and then let some of the rest sink in he wasn’t naming Chauncey as his successor either, she knew Rory told him no on the matter meaning it would be her twin brother. “Why does it have to be a problem all of the sudden? I mean didn’t you tell me that I could have whatever and whoever I wanted, why does that have to change? Didn’t you do the same to Chauncey and as for Belle, entitled much?”

She hadn’t really thought about what he was asking to saying with Sebastian all that much for her relationships were a game they always had been. She cared and loved Sebastian but it was still a game to her too, a game that she wasn’t just willing to settle down and let Sebastian win. “Did you know that I almost thought about aborting it this time again it was right before Jackson’s wedding, eventually I did decide that wouldn’t quite be fair to Sebastian especially after his kidnapping. I’ve always been restless daddy even with Hunter surely you and mother had to know after that whole mess with her high school English teacher, Carter Black. I was looking for a way to please you both. Seducing Hunter from that bitch Cassie was my way to do that.” Max said, tapping her finger against the glass as she thought about all her poor choices over the time of her marriage to Hunter or well poor choices that she was sure other people thought were poor. For her they were part of the thrill and the chase of the game that was what she was about the chase and the thrill and she considered the CMO position. How much more investing could she do at this rate at DGI it was so tedious and boring. Marketing though that seemed to catch her attention more and learning she would be involved in everything maybe that would cure her current itch. “How much longer?” Max finally asked for once dropping the attitude as she looked at her father she wanted a timeline, he looked so frail and fragile in that chair and her chest tightened.

Lowell listened to her ranting and raving fighting against his warning. It made sense out of all his children Max was the most stubborn. “A few months, a few weeks, a few days. I don’t have a timeline Maximillia. I don’t want to die and I hate that I seem to be leaving all of you when you need me the most. I’m afraid that if I put all my power into Jackson he’ll break and Dani won’t be enough to fix him. You need to be there for him as well as Dani.” He said looking at his beloved eldest daughter. Before he knew it tears were falling down his face and it felt like his head was exploding. “I..I..I.. never meant to disappoint you. I know I messed up so much with you children but I know I’ve hurt you deeply. Bliss and Belle are just as special to me but you are my first born daughter and I want you to know the love that I have for you has never waned. You were the first time I wanted to protect something more than my own life. I know how selfish that sounds when I had Chauncey already but having a daughter is different. Oh all the things I’d do differently if I had more time or could rewind it. I would have cut out Carter’s heart and I still resent that man for doing you the way he did. Max that wasn’t love, it was toxic and somehow I see it in your eyes you look at that moment as something special.” Lowell took her hand as he looked at his little girl.

“Max, you don’t seem to be enthralled with this man like you were a couple of months ago when he was kidnapped.” Lowell saw his daughter’s shocked expression. “I’m dying, not changing. I know a lot of things you kids wouldn’t expect. Restless is completely different than being self absorbed Max. I honestly think you’re being a brat because of that thing inside of you. That baby will be the focal point and you no longer will be the center of attention. That baby is fifty percent of you and fifty percent him. It also is your most valuable gift. It’s the most important thing you’ll ever have and do. You aren’t ready to hear this but it isn’t about you anymore it’s about that child. Will you have your time to yourselves absolutely but having a child is also a fulltime job and from what I’ve heard you’re treating it as a minor inconvenience. Max, do you love Sebastian and that baby? Or are you just going with the motions because you think this is what you have to do? You see where that ended you last time? With Philip shot which I can literally give two damns about and you dealing with your sister taking your husband. Look I didn’t like Bliss and Hunter in the beginning but she loves that man something you never seem to do and he’s more in love than I ever saw with you. He’s taking a murder charge for my daughter that’s the type of love you deserve. Is that what you have with Sebastian? And I also have a question for you: can you love anyone more than you love yourself? He survived the mob to come back to this? You seem uninterested and a totally lack attentiveness to your pregnancy, treating it as if it’s something you don’t give a damn about. That’s just what I’ve been hearing so tell me I’m wrong?”

Max wanted a timeline and to hear that she wasn’t going to get one stung, she wanted to be prepared for the exact moment and day even if that wasn’t realistic. Hearing how that wasn’t going to happen though made her heart heavy as she looked at her father, the strongest man she knew. Now he was just weak and feeble and she nodded her head at him. She would always have her twins back even if she didn’t always approve of his choices, they had what she considered an unbreakable bond. She felt the sting of tears pricking her eyes when her father grabbed her hands and she bit back the bitter tears that were threatening to fall, she thought she would have more time that they would have more time. Instead it had all derailed the last year with what happened with Zerick and the entire scandal with their aunt Katie and uncle Linus. “We had a positive DNA test. What were we supposed to do?” Max said quietly, remembering how angry she had been and how easily most of them believed Forbes’ truth about Zerick’s parentage. It wasn’t like their father was a virtue signaler he chronically cheated on their mother. “You let Bliss show up in town and encouraged her to chase after Hunter knowing we were in a fragile place in our marriage. Then you welcomed that spoiled British bitch of a sister of mine knowing that Tess lied to you for years on end about it. I could have been happy with Carter but no of course you and mother wouldn’t allow it.” Max shot back feeling justified in all of her actions. All the cheating and her lies in her marriage to Hunter and even now with Sebastian she wanted what she wanted.

Call her toxic if people thought that so be it no one questioned how Chauncey was in business the people he screwed over and the women he fucked along the way. But because she was a woman suddenly she was held to a higher standard by everyone including her father. “Why does it matter so much if I’m not as enthralled with Sebastian as much as I was a few months ago? Were you always enthralled with mother while you were having affairs on her? Maybe Chauncey and I need that in our life some variety every now and then. I’ll do the right thing by the baby of course but why is it so wrong that I want to hire a nanny and go back to work. Everyone was okay when Chauncey did it and pawned Maddie off to nannies and Selina. I mean and have you seen Jackson’s nanny, I can see why he hired her too.” Max said trying to keep it together even for her father she was not this weak little woman that would bend to the will of a man even such a good man like Sebastian she loved him. But she wasn’t going to stay home and be his little wife nor was she going to raise their child on a farm. She knew she was being selfish she always had been and her child was simply all everyone wanted to talk about even now before it was born. “Everyone even now is so concerned with the baby that is all they ask me about. Not the huge casino I’ll be opening and skyrocketing us into the gambling game. Quite frankly it’s annoying.” Max finished looking at her father and sitting her now empty glass down on the side table in the room.

Lowell listened to her and she was justified in all her emotions. He didn’t let Bliss into her marriage, she did that all on her lonesome. She gallivanting affairs with Ryan Walker and Philip Montgomery and she could rewrite history all she wanted. Max couldn’t have her cake and eat it too because she was a woman. They ridiculed and shamed women twice as hard as men. Was it fair absolutely not but that was the world they lived in and as badly as Max wanted something different. Hearing her rage against him stung but she was right. Who was he to judge her all he could do is give her his advice. “Let’s put the talk about Sebastian under the table for a moment and talk about you and that baby. I think you’ll understand this conversation one day but today isn’t the day. My relationship with your mother is complex and if you don’t want to talk about it that’s all you have to say. So prickly.” He laughed as he looked at her patting the side of her face. “I believe that the casino is the smallest thing you will do just so you know! Are you seriously thinking that the casino is your biggest project for DGI? It’s the beginning for you Max and you will do bigger and better. As for my grandbaby, honey people love that child because they love you. Don’t think that the baby is taking away from your life or you. Think about all the beauty it will add. Now I can’t tell you what to do but Max I didn’t show your brother the proper love and look where it got him.” Drugs, violence, and toxicity.

“That’s all I’m going to say.” Lowell raised his hands as if he was done. “My dear please tell me about the casino.” He said looking at her eyes light up. She was really a piece of him because career was before family and that scared him. Max was him personified and it made him proud and fearful for her. Truthfully the way Carter dwelled in her mind to this day he wonder what voodoo he placed on his daughter. She truly believed she would be happy with the scum and he hated it. “I’ve heard that you and Ronan are working first hand that the boat is the first in a line?  So more boats or a on land casino also? I think you should also look into the real estate division with Zerick he’ll be heading that up, I could see you also working with your twin, and Chauncey with the engineering and weapons division of the conglomerate. You see I can ask how the baby is doing and how are you doing? How is work? When Max isn’t getting enough pull it back to you kid, you’ve never had a problem with that in your life don’t start now. And that’s kind of like what being a parent is. You go from one thing to the next one adventure to the next one. You’re free spirited my child and children keep that inside of you as well as the job with just a bit of advice.” He exhaled as he looked at Max. “I’m so tired my beautiful daughter and I just want you to stop holding in so much bitterness. I didn’t pick Bliss or Belle over you. You’re my firstborn daughter and I always love you so much I’ll always regret that adding them to our family made you feel as if I slighted you. I don’t want to die knowing that I can’t at least fix this. Max I love you do you hear me? If I die tomorrow or next week or next month.” In his heart he felt it was soon. “I love you so much and I’m so sorry please forgive me baby. Charge it to my mind and not my heart and soul because you’re so special to me and I will always protect you. Do you hear me? In death I’ll protect you Max because you’re my first little girl. Just understand with Carter, Bliss, and anything else you hold in your heart about me. You are always my first daughter and I love you Max. I might not have done right on everything but I hope you feel as proud as I am of you of that child inside of you one day.”

Max wanted to huff at him when he finally dropped the entire thing with Sebastian, was she being selfish about everything and not really being involved as she should be? Probably but deep down she knew that was because she frankly didn’t know how, her entire life and upbringing had revolved around her and what she wanted. She hardly ever had to think about anything else and her parents indulge her and Chauncey, honestly her twin was often an afterthought to their father back then. She honestly didn’t know how to talk about it with her father how she felt about Sebastian, instead she knew her comparison to that of her father and mother was a good way to sidestep the question. It was nice he thought the casino was the smallest thing that he thought that she would do, it was a nice step in her mind and yes she was going to do more down the line as soon as the casino started to make a profit. She thought about the baby of course people cared about her but she selfishly wanted them to only care about her and honestly she was scared of that, that her child would be the replacement in her life and those people that she held close. It was already starting her mother was constantly pestering her about the baby and Sebastian the only thing he cared about now was the baby and apparently running to the alter to get married. She had told him numerous times she didn’t really want to get married and had accepted looking back because she was hormonal and felt pressured to do it. She wondered if that was what her child deserved and she blinked her eyes at her father’s harsh truth about his confession about her brother, would that be how her son would turn out?

She gripped his hand in hers and was happy to talk about anything other than the baby and the casino was her pride and joy at the moment. “It’s called the Nightingale but eventually I would like to have a fleet. Bliss and Hunter both think it is a waste; they think we only need one and so does Ronan. But maybe two or three hell I think we should be a casino downtown and turn part of it into a strip of sorts like Vegas. As for Ronan I will find a way out of our little arrangement with him.” Max said her eyes sparkling a bit at her father maybe it was stupid to think about the casino being just that fleet and a building but it was something to look forward too. She wondered if she was really so bitter perhaps she was the entire thing with Bliss and Belle had tainted her view, she was no longer the only daughter. But when their father took Belle on without so much a question it did feel like he was picking her. Her chest tightened and finally she wasn’t able to hold it in anymore while the tears began to fall down her face at the reality that her dad was dying, she didn’t know what else she could say or do. So instead she leaned over hugging her father while she simply cried into his arms wondering if this would be the last time she would be able to do so.