3×11 “Wheels Keep On Turning”

3×11 “Wheels Keep On Turning”
Written by: Chris Coleman, Kristi Clark and Kelly Zollo
Theme Song: Nothing Else Matters- Metallica
Warning: Episode may contain violence language and sexual situations.

Jackson was upstairs in his father’s study pacing back and forth reciting this stupid speech in his head again and again. All he could do was think about what Dru and Lex said earlier. It made him uneasy. They were truly plotting against him and he couldn’t even tell his wife which made it all the more stressful. He knew who he could go to but he was afraid that both of them would take it too far. Zerick would more than likely throttle Dru for playing with his emotions while Chauncey would use his cunning to destroy Lex somehow but that would make them direct rivals to the Hessington’s. That would mean political favors and moves would be off the board for DGI. He didn’t know which way to go and for a brief moment he wondered if the pressure of the job was too much. For a brief second he wanted to snort a line off a leggy stripper and forget about all his issues. As his phone vibrated he saw a picture of the twins and he covered his mouth. God what was he saying? He knew if he ever used again it was a deal-breaker for Dani and him. Jackson knew Simon or someone would come through with what he needed to rid Dru of them so he just had to be patient and wait. Not fear that they’d ruin his life because he hadn’t cheated. Should he have told Dani immediately absolutely but for some reason the words just wouldn’t leave his mouth. Exhaling, he felt someone behind him and jumped when he saw it was Dani.

“I don’t mean to be rude when I say this but where in the hell have you been? Dani we are about to be CEO’s of DGI. Dad isn’t just leaving the company to me it’s yours as well. We are a team and if you can’t be here by my side I need to know. He’s banking on our love being what makes DGI stronger in a new generation. So I don’t know what’s going on babe but I need you here with me. I have so much anxiety about this and I already don’t think I’m good enough.” Jackson said finally letting it out. “I’m a junkie with big dreams and I just don’t know if I’m enough to make this company what my father has. The pressure is immense and I just want you right here. By my side because I can’t do this without you so tell me where you were? For the last week it’s like you’ve been walking in a waking slumber and Dani I need you at a hundred.”

Dani had followed Jackson in the crowd after their conversation with Atticus and Brooke and then had gotten distracted by the press. Asking who designed her dress, what she thought of the development of Dru at the event and where she saw DGI going. The absolute most annoying however was the insulation that with a body like that, that Jackson was sleeping with their nanny too. She didn’t expect better from fucking Page 6 and whatever other gossips rag wanted to do and her eyes cut across the room at Greer bitch better not be incintivizing it. It wasn’t like Greer hadn’t spread that article about her brother and had no problem being in on Jackie’s arrest either. After that she had bumped into her mother and Randall assured her mother her lateness was simply a mix up of time and communication. She simply shook a few more hands before leaving the ballroom to head up the staircase and look at the room not seeing Jackson there meaning he was inside Lowell’s office. Her mind was still wandering about the entire incident with her phone earlier the meeting and the time she had scheduled with Grant, wondering how she got it so wrong. She had opened the door to the office watching him pace and then stare off into the window and came up behind him to gently touch his shoulder seeing him jump like he had seen a ghost.

His concern and tone threw her completely off guard though clearly he was stressed the hell out about everything and she knew this was her fuck up to own. “I’m sorry, okay I thought I had the start time right in my phone. I was at the office clearing up the last of the contract with Grant. Before that I was speaking with Lex about the fundraiser and finishing up an email to your mom about it. I really did think I had more time when you asked if I was ready to go. I don’t know how I got it so screwed up and I’m sorry. I’m sorry about missing dinner the other day. I’m right here.” Dani said looking at him she got it everything was heightened now she knew what Lowell was going to be announcing him as CEO and she’d literally never do anything to jeopardize that at least not intentionally. She had thought over the last week and shook her head. She had no idea what was going on but telling him she thought she was going crazy wasn’t an option not till she was certain that was what was happening. “Maybe my cellphone is having issues. I can have someone look at it.” She looked at him and saw that doubt all over his face and placed her hands on the side of his face to make him look at her. “You can do this. I know you can.”

“I can’t do it without you. You gotta be here with me.” Earlier in the night Lex basically said Dani was with him. Now she was saying she was sealing a deal with Grant. His eyes crossed as he looked at her. “I don’t know what’s going on with Lex but the guy is everywhere. He’s with my mom, with the nanny, and with my wife. I’m sick of him. I’m sick of him always around you Dani. This stupid charity that maybe Bliss or Max can run but I’m sick of my damn wife being around him. I don’t want it! I don’t want him near you and call me jealous or a neanderthal but he keeps insinuating that you are his and I know you aren’t literally property but I’m sick just thinking of it. I can’t be wondering what you’re doing.” He paused and truly wanted to tell her. Everything in his body wanted to tell her what Dru had done. How she kept coming onto him but then Lex was backing her and now he just didn’t want them together or around each other. His chest rose up and then fell with all its might. “I can’t keep this up Dani him and you are bringing crazy thoughts in my head and I just.” He paused looking at her shocked expression. “I just think I might be losing it right now because I’m nervous.”

He could feel the mood change instantly. His nerves wouldn’t save him from her wrath and honestly he deserved it. After how he was behaving. He needed to get rid of Dru but lashing out at Dani wouldn’t solve a damn thing. “I’m sorry alright I let Lex get into my head and he said somethings and I just got mad. I got so mad that I doubted us for a moment. I’ve been stressed and maybe I need some extra sessions with my sponsor. Dani I never was fucking supposed to be this guy. I never was supposed to have kids, I never was supposed to be married, I never was supposed to be alive and I’m scared every moment that God is going to take that from me. So if that son of a bitch intimidates me sometimes and so much that I can’t think straight. I can’t even think about losing you and he makes me feel like I’m losing you somehow. He makes me feel like I’m not good enough and I don’t deserve to have our kids and I’m asking for my sanity to stay away from Lex.”

Dani looked at him and simply removed her hands from his face and took a few steps back from him, pretty sure if she didn’t she’d slap the shit out of him. She was pretty sure her entire face filled with hurt and a ton of rage at what he was suggesting that he had that little of faith in her and she bit back tears while she looked at him. Worse was that Lex had told her as much the other day at their meeting before Jackie’s arrest, that Jackson didn’t trust her and clearly whatever was going on it was starting to head that way. Was he really insinuating that she would be out having an affair with the man that destroyed her? It was perfectly fine for him to keep relationships and contact with women he had been with but the moment someone from her past stepped into town that is where his mind went? She really had thought that they had already talked about Lex front to back and left to right, he didn’t mean anything to her. She shook her head at him for a minute making sure to keep her temper in check the fundraiser was important to her and DGI, he knew that.

“So let me get this straight the charity fundraiser you asked me to do with your mom that is partially named after one of the most respected women in the state and my dead sister is stupid to you? Something that benefits DGI and isn’t involved with the energy division is stupid to you. I literally had to put up with both Merci and Skye. You still talk to Merci, you had her plan our wedding. How in the hell can you even look at me and say that to me after what you know that he put me through. Do you really think that I would go out and have an affair with him? I was at the office with Grant on the phone. You can ask Zerick since obviously you don’t trust me.” She said evenly at him, did he really think she was out here wasting hours and days on the charity ball for her own entertainment let alone having an affair on him? Everything that she had ever done had been for him, for them, for DGI to make sure that he got that CEO position over Chauncey. “He doesn’t mean anything to me. I didn’t choose him, I chose you and I thought you knew that. Fine I’ll quit, are you happy now?” She didn’t bother closing the distance between them; this was certainly not how she expected the rest of the evening to go.

“No, I’m not because you can’t see how Lex affects me.” He knew he was being selfish at this very moment but didn’t care. She didn’t seem to understand that Lex was after her. “So you’re really going to pull that. Merci has no interest in me and she hasn’t for a long time. In fact when we had the threesome I honestly think she did it for Skye. So tell me someone who I had a one night stand with or the man you were slated to marry. Which one would make you most uncomfortable? It’s almost like you are trying to go tit for tat. Look he makes me uncomfortable do whatever the hell makes you feel like you’re doing what’s right. If that’s fucking still doing a charity gala with a guy I’m ready to kill then do it. Do it Dani, just don’t get jealous if I go and do the same. You are acting like Merci wants me but I see the way he looks at you Dani. So keep playing gullible and as if you don’t see it and.” He stopped himself before he finished. Jackson knew it was wrong lashing out at Dani but she also was wrong. He could have said it better but he was admitting how insecure Lex made him around his wife and here she was wagging her finger at him saying Merci was around. He never fucking proposed to Merci or Skye. Hell he didn’t care about Esme or any other woman the way he loved her but she just didn’t see the snake until it was going to bite her.

“You know for a Fraiser I thought you had more I don’t know street smarts.” Jackson spat at her throwing his hands up. “You are comparing apples and oranges and what makes it worse you think that I’m just being insecure. The man fucking told me he was going to take you from me tonight. Has Merci done that to you?” He asked incredulously. “I do trust you but if I had to work with I don’t know Esme for months? We are recanting the past, and we were in close intimate quarters. Do you think you would be having this lackadaisical response? As for the charity no it’s not stupid for me, my mother has been doing it for years. I’m sorry Victoria is dead and whatever the hell his mother is also. I however also wouldn’t stress you like…” He stopped again as Dru flashed in his mind. “You know what nevermind I should have never brought this shit up today of all days.” He said walking to his index cards and completely turning his back on Dani as he began to read them. They were having one of the first fights he could remember and it wasn’t cute or nice. “I can’t deal with this right now Dani. This is the most important day to me other than our kids being born, our wedding and I feel like my wife isn’t having my back.”

Dani stared at him wondering how much longer she was going to have to keep telling him Lex meant nothing; he was so far in her past it felt like a lifetime. She made a naive mistake agreeing to marry him back then and she never wanted Jackson to feel like he was now about them. It wasn’t like she thought he had feelings for Merci or anything like that she was pointing out the hypocrisy of it all to him. Then he started talking about how he’d basically go out and find some other woman to spend his time with. She almost sneered at this rate all he had to do was look towards the woman in their home at this rate. She almost wanted to scream at him when he turned his back on her, putting up a wall. So that was how this was going to go and she really didn’t know what to do about it. She had made major errors in judgment with this entire thing going on with Lex clearly and Jackie would have her resignation from the fundraiser in the morning.

“I was trying to prove a point to you that I can be professional with him just like you can be with Merci. I’m trying to be your partner at work and at home but can’t I just have something that isn’t yours. You get to be in charge at work and let’s face it everyone sees me as your appendage there. I am very aware of what he tried to pull at lunch and I’ve told him repeatedly to stop. He brought Dru as his date or are you jealous of that now too? People are already trying to say you’re sleeping with her. You certainly wouldn’t have to go far just walk down the fucking stairs.” Dani spat back looking at him, her voice rising and she didn’t care how ugly it was. She had considered quitting long before he basically shoved an ultimatum at her but she was trying to do the mature and right thing especially when it came to optics with DGI and the Governor’s family. “I’ve always had your back and I still do. I don’t know what else I can do to prove that to you. I would never let him take me from you, I don’t want him.” Dani said walking towards him not sure what he wanted from her anymore. She was doubting herself all over again that she wasn’t living up to his expectations.

Jackie had looked around the room she had been hoping to introduce Dani to a few more of the hospital board members and it was almost time for her son’s speech. They weren’t there and then she had heard the raised voices in the hall, the study door ajar and looked at them watching the ugly fight and words being tossed around. She wondered what she had done. The Hessingtons had come in at the last minute as the donors and she had no idea it was causing this big of issues between them. Issues she saw that reflected in her own past Lowell worked too much and she simply just let him and she frowned. She also had to wonder about the nanny issue; she herself had been simply in shock at Dru’s attire for the evening; clearly Dani was now insecure about that now too. She remembered that the first year she and Lowell had been married it was so hard she was pregnant with Chauncey and DGI was starting up. Then things changed; she simply stayed home with Chauncey and Lowell only wanted her at DGI periodically. Not to mention it was then that he started to sleep with Audrey. But her son and Dani? Never had she ever considered it and she could see the hurt all over her daughter in-laws face with her son brooding in a corner.

“There you both are. I hate to interrupt but they’re about ready for the presentation, Jackson. Dani there are a few more board members at the hospital I would like to introduce you to before it starts.” Jackie said looking at them both wondering who was going to move first or not.

Dani was pretty sure her hands were still shaking in rage at him when Jackie opened the door. She felt like the walls were closing in even more now he didn’t trust her, hell she barely trusted herself lately. Maybe she was just fucking crazy like her aunt, it wasn’t like she had ever been enough for anyone till she met Jackson. And now it felt like she wasn’t even enough anymore for him at this rate. Nothing she was doing was right in his eyes. She moved around his back to look him dead in the eyes. He wanted to turn his back on her he could; she could never do that to him. She didn’t want them to fight anymore about Lex or the fundraiser, there had been space and distance between them for a few weeks because of it and honestly she was tired of it.

“I came in here to apologize to you about everything the last few weeks. Hell I even planned an evening for us to celebrate. If you can’t see or know the lengths that I would go to for you or us, you don’t even know who I am. I don’t want to fight about him anymore. I’m going to choose to believe you wouldn’t sleep with Dru, just like I did with Merci and Skye and pray I’m right. See how that works?” She said quietly looking at him sadly waiting for him to say something and when he didn’t she simply wiped at her eyes great her mascara would likely run. She held it together. He was so mad at her and angry. “I’ll quit the fundraiser you’re more important to me than that is. I’ll have Talia spin it with the press. I’ll be on your arm, be your perfect wife with a smile on my face, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to pretend. I just never thought I’d have to pretend with you.” She finished looking at him feeling defeated before she simply shook her head and left walking right past Jackie on her way out.

Jackson’s face flushed. Why did everyone think he wanted this girl? Dru had come onto him and he’d kept silent because he thought Dani liked her. Just seeing this and hearing Dani say people thought they were fucking? He didn’t want Dru and it pissed him off that she had planted all these seeds. His eyes began to burn with tears as he picked up a glass and slammed it against the wall. Slamming his hand on his father’s desk as he looked at his mother. “I’m not fucking cheating mom. I wouldn’t do that to her or my family. I just fucked up big time. I don’t believe I just did that. I don’t believe that I need to go find her. I gotta go apologize I just fucked up.” He screamed as he started to breathe rapidly. He wasn’t sure but it felt like he was having a panic attack. “I want her gone. I want her out of our lives mom.” He said as he grabbed the cards and stormed out looking for Dani.

Jackie had been simply gobsmacked as she watched Dani just walk past her clearly still upset with her son obviously needing to pull herself together before she made another round in the room. She walked into the office and watched Jackson pick up the glass and throw it against the wall in clear frustration and realized she had been a clear cause of that. She watched her son pick up his cards and announce that he needed to find Dani, she almost chased after him then something strange caught her attention. The nanny, Jackson wanted her gone meaning she did believe Jackson on principle alone she had no idea what was or wasn’t going on at home with Dru. She seemed quite pleasant and kind and took care of the twins well and a chill went up her spine, unless something did happen. Regardless she went to the glass on the floor grabbing the wet bar towel as she picked it up placing it back on the shelf. Looking up at the portrait on the wall of her family all those years ago. She’d start calling agencies after the Summit if she had too and Lex well someone else could step in as liaison at the fundraiser.

“I will not let them become us.” Jackie said looking at the man in the picture her ex husband staring back at her while she walked to the door.


Yasmine’s hair was slicked back down her back and she was wearing a pink Balmain one piece ensemble. She even had the matching gloves for the night and she felt pretty in pink. For a long time going to these types of events scared the shit out of her. She always felt some man might have been placing a dollar in her g-string when she was Diamond. A persona still deeply inside of her but she was using Diamond to move forward. Walking into the summit with Jayden she could tell it was the first time people weren’t judging her. In fact people seemed impressed. It sort of made her feel even less inadequate about her status in life. When she walked in with Rory people seemed to think she wasn’t good enough for him. Right now it felt like people weren’t shocked but it made her wonder if they didn’t want the black girl with the rich white boy. As she moved across the room with Jayden in her arms she felt the music swelling. One thing about the Devonshire’s was that they didn’t spare any expense. They had a damn orchestra and they were playing the most beautiful music she’d heard in a long time. It was classical but it had such longing and all she wanted to do was dance.

“Come on!” She pulled Jayden to the dance floor. She saw Max staring at her with fire in her eyes. She could see Dani and Jackson coming down the staircase looking regal as ever. They were like the most perfect couple ever. As she looked up she saw Philip standing with Cassie, and Thor. She wondered what those three were up to. “Now you did all that talking you going to dance with me.” She said playfully as she felt his hands on her hips and the rest of the room seemed to vanish. “People are staring at us and I don’t mind it. In fact I kind of like it. You ready to be with the city’s biggest thot?” She said referring to how people obviously saw her as less than nothing because she was a stripper. “I’m kidding Jayden I’m not a thot.” As he spun her out of his hands she slammed directly into Rory and Aspen dancing. You had to be fucking kidding her. Out of all people to bump into the guy who broke her heart. The guy who didn’t take up for her against that hysterical Karen before her. Aspen was stunning as always. “My fault.”

Jayden had agreed to take Yasmine as his date to the Summit Ball he had pawned his hospital shift off to an intern for the night, he was still gunning for David’s job and what was a better way to do it than this. Having a gorgeous woman on his arm and running the room to sway potential hospital board connections on a bigger scale? His eyes landed on the makeshift model on the floor of the island that would get the panels and then they also moved to a similar model that was the Scottswood ones as well, hope DGI didn’t get too comfortable was his only thought. He wasn’t sure if Yasmine would ever be a part of MontCorp but judging by the amount of people on this room it would be foolish to think that they were all vying for the same thing to overthrow DGI’s new stronghold. He cast a brief glance at the SandStar display and a man that was intently looking at the display before turning his complete attention back to Yasmine, he certainly didn’t think she was a thot. She was a hundred any day and any time and it was Rory Devonshire’s mistake to ever let her go for the likes of the shrieking shrew that was Aspen Sinclair. He was happy to oblige her in a dance on the dance floor when she led him to the dance floor.

“Alright girl, not sure I have the moves to keep up with you but I can certainly try.” Jayden said with a grin he knew about her past it was public news but that certainly didn’t matter to him. In fact it was something that he was pretty sure would be useful in the long run, phenomenal surgeon with Forbes’s daughter and a former strpper who now put her time and effort into the neighborhood she was from. It was the best headline for him chances at Chief of Staff in the long run, David was a complete mess still and soon everyone would know it. “Let them stare you are stunning this evening, ballsy move choosing pants. Half the women in this room wish they could be as bold and as unconventional as you are. Besides letting all the men who let you go know that I got you just makes it even better.” Jayden said flashing her a smile as he took her hand to lead her around the room in a waltz. His moves were still there. Something that he only hoped Yasmine bit off as the best of his studies abroad and not the real story, he wasn’t quite ready to tell her that one in time but not today. When he spun her out to the claps of the crowd he smiled only for his smile to turn into a frown seeing who she bumped into. His eyes bore a hole into Rory hoping he kept that girl he was with in check. “It really was an accident. Devonshire.” Jayden said, placing his hand on Yasmine’s back just in case.

Rory had wanted to enjoy the rest of his evening after Aspen and Max’s little run in; he had no idea what had gotten into his sister and Aspen. They had been working together at DGI and Max had been so supportive when everything went down with Yasmine and Aspen. So to see them go at each other was alarming and he wondered if it was just Max’s hormones with the pregnancy regardless he was going to make sure they stayed out of each other’s orbit for a bit. Instead he had mingled a bit with Aspen on his arm wondering how prepared he was to really show her how committed he was to them as a couple. He hadn’t even told anyone in his family what he did. He went online and bought a ring, maybe that would solidify what he needed with Aspen. If they got engaged and then married they could be happy again and he wouldn’t think about all the what ifs anymore with Yasmine and what happened last year. So he resigned himself that soon he’d do the right thing and took to the dance floor with Aspen at least till the presentations happened. The last thing he wanted to do was cause an uproar; he remembered the wedding. Where everyone in town knew that he had been out sleeping with Yasmine while Aspen was likely home crying her eyes out she was pregnant.

“Hey so what was going on with you and Max earlier I thought things were going okay I thought you working with her at DGI would be okay. I’ve never seen you and her fight like that.” Rory said as he held her close in his arms and for music swayed he was lost in the moment with her. Until they turned and he had seen Yasmine enter with Jayden Bradshaw and he tried really hard to not be jealous as he watched them laughing and having a good time. He and Aspen hadn’t done that in a long time hell they just barely had sex again since the miscarriage and he wondered why that was. When Yasmine had bumped into Apen he swore Aspen was glaring at her and he gritted his teeth at Jayden. This asshole was so pompous he couldn’t stand him and here he was passively aggressively saying his name like he knew him. “Sure it was, though I’m surprised you both could come. I didn’t realize that you both cared about clean energy or MontCorp against DGI that much.”

Yasmine cocked her head to the side when Rory insinuated that her bumping into Aspen and he was anything but a mistake. When he snidely also said she wasn’t interested in MontCorp well that was a lie. It was her family legacy and even though she didn’t plan on taking an active role she knew enough that she couldn’t miss the Summit. Gritting her teeth she looked at Aspen who was exquisitely perfect. She didn’t dislike the girl like that but she saw why everyone wanted her for Rory. She was prim and perfectly postured to be at a social event like this. Her hair, makeup, and dress made her look like a perfect queen for a young king. She felt her teeth gritting as she cleared her throat. “I care about my legacy, I am a Montgomery and tonight is expected to change energy forever. The quarterlies of MontCorp stock is on an upswing so being here is what we need to do to see what my family is up against.” She said completely shocking both men and Aspen. She could tell all of them were shocked at how in the know she was about the state of the companies.

“I doubt you know me anymore Rory so don’t make presumptions about what I care for and what my interests are in MontCorp or DGI.” Clearing her throat she looked at Aspen and smiled at the other woman. “You look absolutely beautiful, Aspen. The color of that dress and your hair make you look like Dani a little to me for some reason. Well this is awkward.” Yasmine said as she gripped Jayden’s arm and saw Aspen slink closer to Rory. “Look I’ve always wanted to say this to both of you. I didn’t mean to hurt you that day Aspen. I think both of us were heightened, I don’t think you know how haunted I am about that. I want to apologize to you both for my actions leading to your child being lost.”

Aspen lips quivered as she felt Yasmine’s body collide into hers. It wasn’t anything but a bump but it felt like a flashback. Confirmation she wasn’t okay with how she had secured Rory. Max and her fight earlier in the night confirmed it all. She had made a grave mistake concerning him. Listening to her had wrapped her up in Max’s mess and now it was haunting her. She had tried to avoid this conversation but Yasmine wasn’t wrong. She prodded, and picked at that girl until she exploded. Now she didn’t think she’d get injured but Yasmine wasn’t blameless. As she lost her breath she leaned on Rory for strength because she didn’t expect Yasmine to show such grace. It made her hate her even more. She was humble and had humanity, something she had before she got involved with Rory. Sure she was manipulative but she was a kitten and all of the sudden she was playing with all the lions.

“I’m certain this isn’t the time or place Yasmine. But I accept your apology whole heartedly. I mean you do seem to be picking up on the etiquette of the elite but you weren’t raised to be elite. You can’t get this life without years of grooming and teaching. But I’m glad you see what you did and of course I was heightened that day, I was pregnant but you knew that. You knew that I was going to have Rory’s child. It’s fine, we’re happy and I’m happy to see Khalil not in your web anymore.” She stared Jayden up and down. “I do see that you keep an influential man. My mother is on the gala staff Dr. Bradshaw and everyone seems to have your name on their tongues. Interesting though how you’ve left the last three hospitals you’ve worked at.” She looked over at Rory’s shocked expression. See what happens when you communicate asshole. Her father was an investigative journalist and mother was a corporate auditor. She could dig like no other. “Seems to me you’re gunning for something and now that St. Christopher has been losing faith in Chief Rhodes well that wouldn’t be why you came here would it?”

Well wasn’t this little girl a little know it all was all Jayden could think of when Aspen stated to speak and he almost lost his cool with her but knew better. He’d take that chief of staff position as soon as David fucked up one way or another. He had left other hospitals his arrogance being the main reason, that and the fact he really liked to fuck various nurses and other staff members. He would have to pick his battles wisely with the red head on Rory’s arm and instead pulled Yasmine to him placing his hand on her hip watching Rory. He was clearly still jealous that Yasmine was with him and for someone claiming to have moved on he was doing an awful job of showing it. Aspen was clearly clinging to Rory like a lifeline almost and he wondered what exactly she was getting out of it the man looked bored out of his mind next to her. He smiled at them both as the music seemed to change and he simply stepped them off the dance floor there was no need to cause a scene and he picked up a glass of champagne handing one to Yasmine as well.

“I think Yasmine knows that she doesn’t need a man in her life, though I quite enjoy being in her life at the moment. I mean what would be better for her man that slept with his sister’s mother or world renown surgeon and all around badass that didn’t ride his parents or sibling coat tails. I actually think it is brilliant that she is interested in her family legacy and helping the people in Scottswood. I mean at least she is real about it, what it is that is real about DGI to you Rory rumor is you didn’t even fight for it let alone the woman on my arm.” Jayden said with as much public bite that he could watching Rory fume the girl next to him rang of entitlement that her mother was on some planning committee? He’d have to ask around for the dirt on her down the line he knew of a people on the planning staff but that was it, hell he wanted once he took David’s job it would be easy to get rid of Aspen’s mother if he needed. “So Aspen what is it that you do again other than but your nose into things that it doesn’t belong in? I did hear a nasty rumor about your past academics something about leaving early out of Harvard no less?”

Rory felt his stomach clench and then unclench while he watched Yasmine with Jayden he hated Khalil mainly because he was Yasmine’s first love, but damn if this asshole didn’t rub him completely wrong. He was clearly arrogant and stuck up not to mention pompous, plus he had something going for him that Khalil didn’t he was clearly from his own wealth and he did cast Aspen a side eye when she went after him. David was a good dude and had been exceptional when it came to his father’s care not to mention both of his parents had backed him when it came to his bid for chief of staff. Part of him wondered if for some reason that Forbes had purposely set up Jayden to fuck with his dad’s care and to place him in Yasmine’s life that was something he could ask Simon to look into later. He wondered if now was the time or not for what he knew he was going to do either tonight or in the morning. But he was curious to see Aspen’s response to Jayden and hell Yasmine’s herself before he decided to make the move.

“I am sure that Forbes has set it all up hasn’t he Yasmine did you know that he and your siblings tried to sue earlier this year for the panels in the Scottswood neighborhood? All that talk about how much you love the Scottswood neighborhood and yet you were fine with your father trying to sabotage all that along with Cassie and Philip? Besides I thought you were happy at the dance studio not getting involved in the mess of MontCorp? We appreciate the apology I think we can call agree you were both agitated. I doubt David is losing his job anytime soon.” Rory said looking at Yasmine wondering if she really had softened that much towards Forbes with everything the man abandoned her and left her mother to drugs and her to strip on a pole, he was hardly father of the year. He still was unsure of the specifics of how the fight happened and who did what he had been so upset about Aspen losing the baby, his child. In truth he and Aspen hadn’t been the same since it happened not that they were in a great place before either. “You should go visit the twins more. I know we didn’t end well but I think it would mean a lot to them.” He knew that Dani had mentioned it and so did Jackson maybe having them help with the twins first birthday party that could be fun but they didn’t want it awkward for Yasmine.

Aspen gritted her teeth as she saw Jayden try to rattle her. “Scandals are a funny thing when you have enough money to make them disappear. They do just that, disappear that is. Unlike some of us.” She said eyeing Yasmine up and down. Money had done her well she had upgraded her wardrobe and her hair still did look like a Laquisha special from Scottswood. Balmain looked good on her and she absolutely resented how Rory seemed to be talking to her. How he couldn’t help but know the inner workings of her thoughts and life. So what if she did or didn’t know the panels? Why did it matter? Why couldn’t he leave this stupid little stripper bitch alone? As she focused in on Jayden she knew how to strike back and she would do just that.

“Well Jayden I’m sure Yasmine will love to be the latest notch on your bedpost. Considering that is why you always seem to leave a hospital can’t keep it in your pants no?” Aspen said in the most snooty tone. “I do think you have to have a hell of lot of influence behind you to make your record vanish. So I guess we both know something about having power unlike some of us.” She said once again jabbing at Yasmine. “I think you are a great doctor but your scruples will never get what you wish. Considering David is a favorite of so many people plus he’s the doctor that is taking care of Lowell you must know the loyalty that the Devonshire’s will have to him.” She purred looking at him. “So maybe another hospital and you can take the lovely Yasmine with you if you aren’t bored with her by then.”

Yasmine had enough of the low blows and low jabs from both of them. Rory seemed to think she was supposed to be dumb about her family business and Aspen kept insinuating she had no class. This bitch must wanted her to rip her apart all over again. “Well considering your boyfriend was all over this a few months back I think you should be careful with the bored word. I mean you should know all about not being enough Rory came back to me and I would have taken him from you if you didn’t announce your late pregnancy.” She said with enough sass that she felt like she gut punched Aspen. “As for my family Rory you listened to yours about being with her. I mean everyone told you to man up and you did exactly what Devonshire’s do. You shored up and did the right thing for who? Aspen? You were settling and we both know it.” She turned Jayden head and kissed his lips.

“I don’t settle anymore Rory and I know exactly what my siblings are doing. If your family can’t seem to get your shit together. Considering they sued for monopoly because it’s strange DGI get’s the construction contract as well as the panels. Maybe if you get your head out of the computer you’d get the full extent of the lawsuit. Secondly my dance studio is my first priority and if you don’t believe me ask Jamal he has his performers coming to me for my choreography. I am thriving without you Rory and I don’t know where the attitude is coming from but I am not the one for it. I haven’t done anything to you but be your ex-girlfriend so stop. Oh and as for being a notch on Jayden bed nah baby you must know I don’t chase men boo. I don’t have to do all the things you did to keep him or get him.” Yasmine spat back as she looked at Rory. Her heart still skipped looking at that damn man but it just wasn’t like that no more. She knew it because she was getting to know the Montgomery’s and she wasn’t ready to write them off to keep a door open for Rory. “I mean they are my family, didn’t Chauncey try to take DGI? But y’all love him right? So I can look at Cassie and Philip and see the same thing.”

Rory watched Jayden and Yasmine as they seemed to be so happy with one another and knew the only thing he had to do to make sure that everyone moved on front eh current state of everything was to put a barrier up for good. If he didn’t he’d always wonder what if between him and Yasmine, what if he never got Aspen pregnant, what if he never cheated on Yasmine with Tess when they were struggling. It was all a moot point now and he saw that and took Apsen’s hand in his own, Yasmine and Jayden could kiss all they wanted. He simply turned his body to Aspen and reached into his pocket taking the small box out before taking a knee. No doubt the gasps that left people’s mouths would get everyone taling about what he was doing at another of his siblings events. In this case the talking hopefully would end up front news in a good way and not in the way it was at Jackson’s wedding. Younger Devonshire Brother Revealed to Be A Cheating Scoundrel had been the headline, no this would be the headline to boost himself out of that image for his family. No longer would he be that he would be the epitome of a good fiance and partner if that is what Yasmine really wanted him to do she had won. He glanced over at her and he could have swore he saw her horrified face at what he was about to do and instead looked back at Aspen.

“Aspen Sinclair since I have met you, you have changed my life for the complete better and made me think long and hard about what I wanted out of life. I know that I haven’t always been the best for you especially after last year. I don’t want to be the man caught between two women in my life like my father was, back and forth so today in front of all these people I want to chose you if you will let me.” Rory said opening the box to reveal the engagement ring he had ordered he wasn’t even sure if Aspen would like it, it wasn’t some custom piece like his brother had designed for Dani or hell the one that Chauncey had got Natasha not it was a simply round cut diamond of modest stature that was simple and to the point. He had shopped online and had it shipped to him in secret and now he was taking the steps he needed in order to make sure they all could move on. “If you will have me still even after all the mistakes I made I would love to marry you and make you the happiest woman in this very room.” He finished he put on the best smile he could towards her wondering if this was really what he wanted knowing deep down this was what he was settling for.

Aspen’s heart raced as she saw him pull out a diamond ring it wasn’t exactly remarkable. She always thought Devonshire’s were grand and it felt lax. However seeing the horrified expression on Yasmine’s face made it all worth it. As she nodded and whispered yes. Then loudly proclaiming, “Yes, Rory I will marry you!” She said as she hugged him wondering if she was crazy. She didn’t want to marry Rory under these circumstances. Hell did she even want to marry Rory? Aspen couldn’t live with the fact Yasmine would have him if they weren’t together. So if she was one of those women who divorced at twenty-eight or moved on later she’d deal with it. She guessed it was a form of settling but it was settling with a billionaire heir. She pulled back from the hug and kissed his lips as she looked at the twinkling diamond on her finger. It was all happening so fast. She was just mourning her dead child and now she was on a high. A wedding to plan and a life she wanted for herself. Blythe always wanted her with Rory, and now Max and she had worked so hard to have this very empty and shallow moment. Licking her lips she touched Rory.

As she hugged him tightly as she pulled back. “A wedding!” She saw her mother and father rushing to her as she looked at Yasmine. It was so satisfying. “I’m so happy and so in love with you. I’m so happy and I can’t be happier.” She touched his face. “See Yasmine, I can forgive you after all. This is making everything so perfect.” As she looked at Jayden and saw him shaking his head. “She should be happy for us since she’s moved on so far and above the breakup and them cheating on Khalil and I.”

Yasmine sat back for a moment and saw Rory get down on his knee. As he popped the question her stomach began to clench. She silently promised Rory would suffer if he married Aspen. He was miserable to do this right in front of her after all that they had been through. He couldn’t respect her enough to do this in private. In fact she understood this was to prove he was completely over her. She looked at Jayden and saw everyone starting to crowd Aspen and Rory. Her eyes began to burn with tears as she stepped back looking at Jayden. “I need some air. I just need a moment, okay.” She said, stepping back as she rushed out of the ballroom. Gripping her belly so started to breathe in and out. Looking Dani who approached her with open arms she immediately fell into Dani’s arms crying. Yasmine couldn’t help it she was exhausted with how Rory Devonshire treated her. She was done with him and she couldn’t believe he did this to her. How could he do this to her? “Oh my God Dani he did it right in front of me. Does he hate me? Why would he do this to me? What did I do to him? I’ve been the damn bad guy all this time and that bitch keeps pushing me! Fuck him! I swear to God fuck him.” She cried on Dani’s shoulder as she released her rage.


Belle stood back as she watched Rory and Aspen celebrating and Yasmine and Jayden leaving the summit. It was a mess and tacky as hell of Rory to do that in front of his ex-girlfriend. Call her sympathetic since Connor had stopped answering her calls and David dumped her. It was quite a shock to her ego and she just didn’t like her big brother literally setting out to hurt someone. Not Rory, he was supposed to be different from others in her eyes. Jackson and Chauncey were scandalized but Rory in her eyes was supposed to be the good guy. It sucked to see him so low. It sucked she felt so raw right now. Normally she might have applauded something so nasty especially from Rory but Belle instead felt out of place. Her parents were acting totally strange and her father was dying. She heard him yelling at his nurses. He was becoming incontient and his temper was so easy to stir. Sometimes she felt afraid to even say good morning. Stepping back from the crowd of people starting to surround Rory and Aspen. Taking a sip of her champagne she stepped back not paying much attention and bumped into someone. She immediately dropped her champagne flute and gasped.

Turning around she saw Jamal Delacroix and she immediately wanted to run away. She didn’t feel like arguing with him. Nor did she have the energy to. As a waitress arrived to clean up the mess she stepped to the side with her dress. “Tell me, why are men such arseholes? I mean I’m not exactly nice but that was just sad. That isn’t the romance I want for myself and Aspen thinking it’s perfect. She literally said it was perfect. She didn’t even see that it was to spite Yasmine.” Belle’s eyes sort of cast off as she watched David enter the summit and her face flushed even more. “Look I can be much but I’m not looking for war anymore. I’m looking for my place in the family and I just want that to be clear. If you are out for war or revenge with me it’s not happening on my end sorry. I can’t be emotionally invested in anything but Belle.” Wrapping her arms around herself she felt overly dressed compared to the nanny. By God she’d give Donovan a boner at the age of one. “He’s only doing that because she lost a baby.”

Jamal was on his second glass of Patron for the evening he arrived single and ready to prowl the crowd not that he had any real reason to be here. But it was good publicity for the label now that he was partly tied to DGI he just hoped he didn’t run into Val. He had other plans for her and her demise and that meant she just needed to tuck her tail and get the fuck out of town and maybe she would after he spoke to Greer later. He had seen the entire proposal go down and shot his best friend the most incredulous look he could, Aspen wasn’t a bad woman or anything like that but a lifetime commitment to her? Especially when his bro was out there fucking Yasmine behind her back before the wedding from hell, he got that they lost the baby and it was sad but it seemed like a leap. He then was irritated as hell when some girl bumped into him and when she turned around it was instead Belle he came face to face with. Rory’s little sister and the woman that was plaguing his dreams the last few weeks, like what the fuck was that even about? He had managed to salvage his drink by lifting it up and watched as her flute shattered on the ground and thought about saying something sarcastic to her. Was she for real right now? After that shit she posted online she thought they would be friendly?

“You shocked by this? You must not know how real Devonshire’s operate. I mean it was a classic Devonshire man move. Hell I was around when Chauncey announced he was fucking Esme the sparks flew and it’s not like Rory wasn’t just off staring at Yasmine. Aspen’s head has been in the clouds about that shit for months, I’m surprised that you didn’t record some of that shit and blast that online.” Jamal said and he couldn’t even contain his excitement when he said it with her she wanted to play with his life he was fine to throw it back at her every now and then. She looked tight in that dress though and he wondered why she was suddenly hugging herself almost like she was embarrassed or something. He decided that fighting with her in public wasn’t worth it either and then shrugged at her nodding to a waiter for another glass of champagne before he handed it to her. “I thought your secret lover would be on your arm or was it Connor? I do agree with you on Rory though that shit ain’t gonna last maybe a year tops.” Jamal said as he looked at her and took a sip of his drink with a smirk on his face.

Belle rolled her eyes she was being civil and she hated when people weren’t civil to her when she was actually being nice. To be fair she did release a video that made him look like Chris Brown but who was keeping score? It was ironic that here she was alone and here he was antagonizing her about being alone. She had Atticus last year sort of, Connor, and David now she was looking like a fool. Rolling her eyes she shook her head. “My secret lover as you like to call him and I are no more. I’m single again and I was single when I was with my secret lover.” As flippant as she could be she said, twirling her hair in her fingers. “Rather than chastise me, can you go? I thought we could be adults? Maybe I was even willing to apologize for my shady ass video but you can’t let bygones go so I’m done with this conversation.” Belle said as she sipped her champagne and walked away. Sitting at a table not far from him. Honestly she wasn’t sure why she was here. It wasn’t like she was getting DGI but Lowell insisted all his children be there.

She could see Jamal walking up from her peripheral vision. “God leave me alone. If I wanted to be accosted there are tabloid reporters outside the mansion.” She didn’t know why but she had been extra emotional since the split with David. Then Connor ignoring her didn’t help. Atticus was married and here she was alone again. “I know I do vindictive things Jamal and honestly I was trying to get Val not you. The public slaughtered you both but you weren’t my target. I really don’t like your ex and she has always been in my face kissing your precious Brookie ass. As the great poet Nicki Minaj once said, “ I don’t care how long it takes to get a opp back.” Seeing him smiling a little made her smile. “Do we really have to be enemies? I rather think you’re cute and maybe I didn’t think Valentina deserved you at all.” As her eyes lasered in on David with an incredibly beautiful woman. She almost crushed the crystal champagne glass in her hand. “I don’t fucking bloody believe it.” She said underneath her breath. “He has some balls for sure.”

So the little princess could dish it out but she sure had a hard time taking time that intrigued him more than he wanted to admit. Most women he’d just let go sad move on with his evening but there was something about Belle that he was drawn to and he had a feeling it was her little spunky attitude. It most certainly couldn’t be his best friend’s little sister who was also fine as hell but that was something to ponder over another day. He took a sip of his drink before deciding east the hell to follow her to the table and sat down seeing her annoyed face at the action he flashed her a grin in return. This could be fun and it could be trouble too and maybe that was what he was looking for. He’d tried the good dude thing with Val and look where that shit got him. He was dealing in the streets and had an entire posse and entourage behind him and his label but fun? He was too focused on trying to be this good man to Val while she was out there aborting their child and he felt the thumb drive in his pocket bitch would get hers later.

“Nope don’t think I will because you intrigue me Belle that why we always seem to butt heads in the morning in peculiar ways. I mean you do last out and you certainly wouldn’t be the first to do it and I’ve done my fair share of lashing out.” Jamal said looking at her and then following her glance across the room to David Rhodes and he almost burst into a fit of laughter. She really thought she was going to bag David in some epic romance. It was fucking David it was almost sad and pathetic almost when he thought about to too much. “So because Val once had a thing for Rory and then backed Brooke when you wnrt out and fucked her man you’re mad at her? Yeah Val should have told me what happened and we should have discussed it and the bitvh will get hers. But that was my business Belle not yours and let’s face it I had to deal with the fallout not you or Val. David? It’s almost sad that you’re mooping someone old enough to have birthed you. I mean that has to hurt.” Jamal finished. It was cute watching her fume to David and the pretty nurse he was with.

“David is distinguished and what we may or may not have had is none of your concern Jamal.” She said in a matter of fact tone. He was right though she was young why should she care? After all David was a man who clearly couldn’t bag a woman to complete his image. “I should go ruin his night. I should go make a scene. I should act a fool but I choose not to because I have someone who is interesting and much younger before me. Oh and don’t tell me you haven’t bedded and dated someone older so judgment isn’t the answer lovey. Considering didn’t your mother almost leave your father for a certain intern who is now the chief of staff. Funny if your mother kept clapping David you might be a Rhodes and not a Delacroix.” Belle said sarcastically letting him know she understood the history of the city. “Well Jamal then it seems we are at a stalemate because you intrigue me.”

Jamal had been in the middle of taking a sip of his drink when she said David was distinguished. In the little British accent of hers on top of it and just about spit his drink out in laughter. Who said distinguished nowadays when it came to a man what time period were they in? David was nothing more than a cad and had been for years floating from woman to woman and whoever floated his boat. Rumor had it he refused to settle due to his brother’s death all those years ago, and who was he to judge it wasn’t like David was committed to Belle it sounded like. Plus he was certain David couldn’t handle a spoiled and self indulgent girl like Belle either. He sat his drink down while he looked at her wondering if she was playing the game as a player now.

“Not saying I have or haven’t but I never got caught up in the happy ending shit either that girls do. I like to have my swagger and options open for the taking if you know what I mean. I’m not ready for the never ending love story. Not even with Val Ruiz like it was fun and in some ways she saved us both and so did you.” Jamal said flashing her a grin and then he wondered how she was going to react to his little video he was in possession of. She had been chasing after pretty boy Connor Hessington last year. “You should be out here spinning the room Belle not wasting your time on Atticus, Connor or David clearly they didn’t understand who you are. If I had a princess like you, you wouldn’t be out here moping. But like I said I’m not exactly looking good for that grand love story.”

Belle rolled her eyes as she looked at him. “Mr. Delacroix I need you to know one thing. I am looking for the grandest love story. My father’s impending departure is teaching me one thing, it’s that you want true undying love. It’s so hard to find people who value love and you may not be looking for it but I am. I want what Lowell had with Jackie what Tony had with Ophelia. I want the stop the planet love affair and I deserve that.” She stood up picking up her glass. “Let me give you a bit of advice. Some girls pretend to themselves they don’t want the fairytale. They don’t want the storybook ending but it is possible. I see my father yearn for Jackie every day. I see Jackson and Dani how he stares at her. I’ve seen love and I deserve it. So if I chase any man its because I see what I deserve. You should know what you deserve and Val and chasing Yasmine and Rachel? She’s dead. You haven’t given love a shot and at least I’ve done that. Unfortunately your mouth has ended all my interest in you. You are a cad of a man and I don’t like players because I always run the game.”  Belle looked at him and shook her head.

“Whatever this is, it’s over Mr. Delacroix.” She stood up from the table. As she grabbed her clutch and looked at him. “I thought you were interesting but you’re just like all the other boys around here. Maybe that’s it. I need to stop looking for men in Atlas Falls. Maybe it’s time I leave this God awful place when my father is gone so shall I good-day Jamal. I hope whatever meaningless fling you find fills you up. I may hate what Rory just did but at least he’s trying. He’s trying to fill his life up with love while you are emptily moving from one bed to another. I’m sorry Jamal I deserve to have it all. Love has always been thought up in my mind and I guess if you don’t want that you don’t want me.” Belle said, turning away. “Somehow I’ll find my great love and yes I’m vindictive and I’m spiteful and I’m nasty and I’m mean and I’m selfish and I’m interesting and loving and kind and adventurous. I’m all of these things and a man will love every moment of them. So sorry Jamal I do want a grand love affair. I deserve a grand love affair. I shall have one pardon me, Jamal.”

Jamal watched her speak about wanting to hunt down her great love story and wondered if she just stopped to have fun if she would look at the world differently. He for a moment had to wonder if he was the cynical one seeing how his parents married, had an ugly divorce and then reconciled only for his father’s suicide to rip them apart again. “Chasing after a man old enough to be your father and the same age as your brother is what you think you deserve princess you have a thing or two to learn. If David wanted you that much and in that way he would have taken you to this event clearly he wasn’t ready or wanting too. Rachel and I were friends and yeah she died tragically.” Jamal said looking at her it wasn’t like he was in love with Rachel she was a cool girl and he did use her to get information for Khalil before the shooting and her dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. As for Yasmine they were involved in the shady world of drugs, sex and violence and he did chase after her fighting Rory for her and he cocked his eyebrow at her mentioning Val. “Yasmine and I were involved in some shady ass shit that I thought we had a chance clearly she was looking at Rory. As for Val she can’t decide one day what she wants dick or pussy I knew that going into shit with her. I ain’t out here chasing that ho now.” Jamal said watching her.

He brought the glass to his lips draining the glass was she really trying to school him on social and emotional behaviors when it came to who in the hell he shared a bed with? Worse at the moment was looking at her and imagining peeling that dress off her body and showing her exactly why women chased his ass either at the club or the streets. “You’re right this is over but it never really began. Personally I think your brother is making a huge mistake wanting to propose to Aspen out of guilt but that’s not my place. I mean lets face it Aspen’s never climbed up and down a pole so that is a hit with his entire family that is the only reason he’s still doing it and her.” Jamal said looking at Belle’s sour face with his crude language and he got up from his seat want walked to her side running his fingers lightly up her bare midriff, when she didn’t recoil he wondered if she was sort of thinking the same thing he had been and leaned into her ear. “I could make you forget all about David and that little punk as Connor for a few nights. Hell I could make your fake little romance you had with the prince that discarded you look like speck, you’d be so worn out and satisfied you wouldn’t care about who knew or didn’t.” Jamal said quietly whispering in her ear. “You’d never leave my bed.” He finished pulling back as he took his third glass of champagne before looking at her. “I’m gonna go plaster a smile and congratulate the happy couple see you around princess.” Jamal finished looking at her one last time before making his way across the floor to Rory and Aspen.

Belle didn’t know if she was turned on or infuriated. How dare he talk like that to her? So what David was older than her. She found it hard to believe anyone could love him like she could. When he touched her skin she felt a slight bolt of electricity. She didn’t like it at all. As she listened to him go on about her David, Atticus, and Connor she bit her lip. She’d be insane if she went down this road. In fact she was sure of one thing Jamal Delacroix would never have the luxury of getting her in his bedpost. She’d heard of a rumors of Jamal and seen him all over town. Croix Record, at La Callie, and at his nightclub. Girls in and out that bed he claimed she’d never leave. She could find him mildly fun to flirt with and banter with but Jamal wasn’t her type and she would make sure he wasn’t. Jamal was like that fly who she couldn’t get away from and he liked to hold a mirror to her. Who did he think he was? Belle was more infuriated. No the only princess had just congratulated Rory and Aspen. She looked at Brooke and rolled her eyes. She still was basic. Belle pulled out her phone from her clutch and texted Connor. Biting her lip she smirked.


Simon fel this phone vibrate and looked at the text from Jackson about Dru and he scanned the room he had seen and heard her entrance. She seemed like a perfectly qualified candidate and he hadn’t stuck his nose into how Jackson or Dani had decided on her for the job. He took a sip of his champagne making a note on his phone to have her fill out a real application at the DGI front offices so they could at least make everything in order, if anything came back odd he would go from there. He was sure the talk of the evening would be the dress that Dru had worn with a byline about Jackson’s speech and Lowell’s announcement. It seemed to be quite the mess when it came to Dru Price for the evening taking a drink of his champagne he almost made his way over to her and Lex Hessington but then stopped. His eyes instead landed on Ivan who had arrived at the party with a very much so female model on his arm, a gorgeous women if he was straight the probably would have been tempted to whisk the girl way but instead he was filled with jealousy and a bit of disgust, he knew that Ivan was slightly angry at him but still he told him he wouldn’t be second. Putting the glass down he walked away from the waiter and approached Ivan and the girl.

“Ivan I am so glad that you could come Jamal didn’t let me know that you were bringing a plus one I could have arranged a seat for her at the table. Listen I was hoping that you could spare a moment or two for me to go over some of the presentations tonight and to talk about the upcoming second tour. It wouldn’t take long.” Simon said looking at his lover’s eyes as he did so completely ignoring the model on his arm. He knew for a fact that Ivan could care less about the various displays or speakers tonight, there also wasn’t a second tour in the works. But he wanted to talk to Ivan along without the prying eyes of the girl that was on his arm. He wanted to check in with everything with his uncle too, he was still formulating a plan. One he could present to the authorities but he needed Ivan’s okay to do that, Ivan needed to face his demons head on and he wasn’t sure if he was ready or not. “Please Mr. Castillo it won’t take too long. I’m sorry I’m being so rude Simon Rutherford and you are?” He said looking pointedly at the woman next to Ivan while staring at Ivan.

“She my date and it doesn’t matter what her name is. She knows her place and why she is here.” He said looking at Simon. Ivan had been in the studio and went to see Nasir and Hulk who were Ronan’s guards. He had gotten a couple of guns and a few other things. Just in case his uncle made a move against him and he was sure he would. “Yo, go grab us some champagne and mingle and shit tell em you here with me. I’ll be back. I need to speak with my lawyer.” Ivan walked to the back of the mansion following Simon as he looked at him confused on what this was all about. There wasn’t a second tour and there wasn’t no presentation tonight he gave a fuck about. Croix Record was funded from DGI and making them a killing all he was here for was appearances. “Wassup?” Ivan asked as he looked at Simon.

“She is only here for appearances and she’s Jamal’s new artist. She knows it’s for publicity as do I so please don’t make this a whole thing right now Simon. Especially when my inner circle knows and I would hope you tell Talia and Dani I’m your dude now. But what is so important you just had to drag me away right now? I mean I want to see the show, it’s one of these rich white people parties you know they’re going to act up somehow.” Ivan said laughing as he looked at Simon’s not amused face. “What man? I was drinking because I got a call from my uncle today again. He said he was coming to see me.” Ivan crossed his arms as he looked at Simon. “I can take care of myself you know that.” Raising his shirt he showed him a gun. “He doesn’t scare me any more. I’ll kill him before he comes after me.”

Simon was irritated as hell and pissed when Ivan simply dismissed the woman as here for appearances to hell with appearances. He was just the man on the down low again with Ivan and that pissed him off to no end he’d already done that for years with Mason. How fucking hard was it to find a man out in the open for him to enjoy with why did he always choose the closeted ones that were to scared? “Maybe I should have called a service to get a man on my arm and then you’d know how it feels. I could call it appearances too. But you’re right, maybe we shouldn’t discuss the specifics of who you’re with or not with, you’ve made it perfectly clear you don’t care about how any of it affects me.” Simon spat back at him with the perfectly poised charmed that he always had. This fool still only wanted him on the down low and Lowell’s words from a few weeks ago were starting to weigh on him. He deserved to be happy and out with a man that wasn’t afraid and would risk everything for him. He almost sneered when he brought up Talia and Dani who knew but had told him he deserved better. “Oh they know they just think you should man up and that I deserve better.” Simon said, taking a sip of his drink making sure they were in a quiet part of the mansion towards the back.

He had glared at Ivan when he mentioned how white people were at these events the speech from Jackson and Lowell’s announcement was supposed to go off without a hitch or their would be hell to pay. The last thing that DGI needed was the Energy Summit being plagued by unsavory drama seeing how much of a move it was to place it up at the top with some of the top companies in the world. Anyone or anything got in the way of that he was likely to go crazy on every single employee responsible for this event, DGI needed a win. “Listen I know that you don’t understand my career or what I do here at DGI but it’s important. Anything happens and I mean it I may lose it.” Simon said looking at him shocked when he pulled up his fucking shirt and saw all the tats and then the fucking gun who in the fuck brought a gun to something like this. He moved forward shoving Ivan’s hand down before someone saw the fucking gun and flipped the fuck out and then ran a hand through his hair. He didn’t pretend to understand what was going on inside of Ivan’s head with his uncle, he had never been violated like that. “Are you fucking crazy? It’s not like he’s going to approach you here tonight!” Simon said his voice rising in anger Ivan could be such a firecracker at times and unpredictable which was fine sometimes, however this was not one of those times.

Ivan instantly saw he fucked up by showing Simon the gun. He also saw he fucked up by bringing a date. All around he wasn’t getting any ass tonight. The look on Simon’s face was brutal but it was how he reacted to the gun that shook him. Ivan knew Simon cleaned up rich people’s problems, the Devonshire’s to be exact. He didn’t understand how him cleaning up the Devonshire problems would help him with his uncle. Simon kept saying he could fix this but what he didn’t know it wouldn’t be fixed until he was dead. Now he could respect that it was his family and friends’ event but he wasn’t going anywhere not strapped. He had the nina with him and the gun wasn’t leaving. “Gia Falcone is in there right? With Ronan Madden? He’s here somewhere Simon.” Ivan walked up to him and pointed a finger to the middle of his forehead. “You can keep acting like the street life is something you can wave off because you saw the Yasmine get scrubbed clean. That was Montgomery money and it was not telling what Lowell your boss gave up to get her clean? Her and Jamal right? The streets whisper and talk. What I can tell you is that he’s here tonight and I’m not going to be caught slipping now or ever. I was raped, molested, and tortured by him and my papa. My father didn’t send me to the Ivy league; he threw me away to Hector in Atlas Falls where he abused me consistently. So please refrain from acting like this is a shock. I got money but that didn’t erase the street code. I got bodies on me. You think motherfuckers forgot that? I killed people for Ronan and I want you to hear me when I say this shit. I’m not Mason or Zach I’m Ivan okay? I done came out to everyone in my crew and that still aint good enough for you?” He said, shaking his head.

“This shit is easy for you because you had two parents that didn’t care. They loved you regardless, and I on the other hand was ostracized from my family. I still haven’t seen my family up until I did that show in Miami. You know I just heard my dad voice over a fucking call? You know what the motherfucker said to me? Send him some money! Not that I’m sorry son, not that I need to talk to you, and not that he loves me. You want me to unpack years worth of pain so you can flaunt to Talia, and Dani. Fuck them bitches it should be enough that I’ve said I love you. It’s never enough though? You want me to scream it Simon? I FUCKING LOVE SIMON RUTHERFORD! I LOVE THIS MAN? YOU MY MAN!” Ivan’s chest was poking out as he pressed Simon against the wall. “That’s what you want? Come on!” Snatching him by the hand. “Let’s go, we finna show the world right now? Are you ready? But what I’m not willing to do is not carry this gun. I’m not willing to do that.”

It wasn’t so much a shock it was the frank disregard for his own safety and everyone else in the room that pissed Simon off. Gia Falcone and Ronan Madden we’re not going to let his crazy ass uncle pull a fucking stunt out in a very public function given their deep connections and the police attention it would bring. Criminals were hardly about bringing more police attention to themselves and that was the difference between the thug before him and Ronan and Gia he realized. Inwardly still a little shocked to have called Ivan a thug but the way he was behaving was exactly that. “I can assure you it didn’t involve me waving a gun in Ronan’s face if that is what you are asking. Lowell has too much business sense and Ronan wanted a legit in, but if you stopped to think you would know that behaving like a thug is something I’ve never done. I’m well aware that you aren’t Mason or Zach you seem to keep repeating that to me everytime that I want to have a real conversation with you.” He may of bribed people and cleaned up messes but he was never out making a damned fool of himself or his employer. Pausing for a moment when Ivan then went to raise his voice and he simply shook his head at him.

Maybe he did want a man to flaunt their love for him once in public hell Zach and he did it when they dated, Mason never did but it was more than that he wanted Ivan to face his past and embrace his future. Ivan couldn’t do that until he got serious help for his issues and he knew that you could only run form your past or your pain for so long. “I would advise you to not disrespect two women that matter a great deal to me in my life and that I think very highly of. Those bitches as you like to call them are to me what your little crew is to you.” Simon said evenly he didn’t disrespect Ivan’s gang members that he still hung out with but he was going to be damned if the man kept insulting the two women he thought of as sisters and some of his closest friends. He pulled his hand back from Ivan and looked at him really looked at him and he saw a hurt boy hiding behind the facade that he liked to parade around. “No it’s not okay I want you to get help for what he did to to, real help. I want you to go to the police with me and tell them what he did and we approach this the right way together. It doesn’t involve you dragging your ass back into the mafia life you worked your way out of or running scared he will hurt you at a public event.” Simon finished as he looked at him.

Ivan’s lips quivered as his eyes burned with tears. He didn’t want to say a word and at this very moment he felt caught up in the pain of his youth. It was swirling around him and engulfing his entire body. All he could do was reach out to Simon. He wondered if Simon ever got sick of him. If he secretly resented him. He hated to be weak but before he knew it Ivan was in tears. They coated his face as stepped back shaking his head. This wasn’t what he wanted and Simon always underestimated the world he came from. How things don’t come back such as your innocence. He might still be stuck in the past but at least he was naive. The corporate world was much different than the world he came from. He literally was beaten, starved, and raped. Why he go to the police? So they could tell him the statute of limitations were up? That he wasn’t a child anymore so he wasn’t important. He’d do what every motherfucker in Scottswood had done before him. He’d bury it and keep living. Simon seemed to think that the hood couldn’t touch the corporate world but by letting Ronan inside he had no clue that the fox was already in the hen house. Ronan was cunning and he wasn’t going to just let go of DGI now that he had a foothold inside of it.

“Got it.” Ivan said nodding his head. He wanted to show Simon that he could be amicable and wasn’t just a asshole. He felt sometimes Simon just didn’t listen. He didn’t get that the worlds they came from wasn’t the same. Sometimes people ended up dead. The gang life, the mob life, the criminal life all was consuming. “I’ll keep Dani and Talia’s name out of my mouth and I’m sorry I didn’t mean to diss them. But if this is what you want me walking out there and ending my career as soon as it starts. Ill do it. I’ll do it for you because Lil Nas X is the only gay rapper I know. You don’t see the other side because of your privilege. You’ve worked for it but you have a leg up as a gay white male. I’m a latino from Florida whose family immigrated from Cuba. I’m not some rich man and people don’t just wipe my slate clean. The police remember me as a rebel rouser a thug I don’t get the same liberties as you no matter who I’m fucking with. I’m a nothing ass motherfucker and maybe I deserved him to molest me. Maybe I deserve to be beat. I helped you homegirls because I understand her. You know how much I dreamed about killing Hector? I wanna smoke him so badly. But my lambo outside I’ll put this up if that’s what you want Simon. But I promise you this isn’t good. He’s here and he loves to torture me and you have no idea.” Tears were falling down his face. “You had the picket fence and all I had was the streets. I’m good on the police Simon.”

Simon watched Ivan’s face and saw the pain etched there pain he clearly hadn’t dealt with yet pain he needed to deal with. He wasn’t going to pretend to know Ivan’s trauma or anything like that but if Hector was as dangerous as he was saying the logical thing that they could do would be to go to the police and be on the offensive. There were good cops at the station who would take Ivan’s fears into account and at least get protection for him. Besides he doubted very much that Jon or Devin would just turn a blind eye to the claims when it came down to Hector as far as he was aware the police and the Feds were still deeply involved in both Gia and Ronan’s affairs to the point the investigation against them both and the RICO charges were still to go to trial. That was unless something happened to prevent it Gia had an exceptional legal team behind her and he understood that Ronan was still sniffing for someone to cover his illegal affairs. He wanted Ivan to cut ties to his old life which happened to be his crew but he knew until they were on better footing that wouldn’t happen either and he wondered if he was prepared for that to be drug into the underworld of the life Ivan came from.

“I want you to face your past Ivan all of it and find a way to move on from it. I may have privilege. I have never denied that but I’ve never not picked myself back up and tried to make myself a better person and man. You never deserved what he did to you, you were just a child. The adults around you failed to protect you. I don’t dwell on my past or cling to it as a coping mechanism.” Simon asked, wondering if Ivan was ready for this conversation between them. Ivan dwelled so much in his past he felt it consumed him and wherever it was they were doing at this point. Hell he didn’t even know what it was anymore he wasn’t going to keep being on the download. He got that Hector was supposed to be scary but he still thought there were better ways to handle it than packing heat and looking for trouble when Ivan had tried so hard to turn his life around. “How are we supposed to move forward when you live in the past? That is what I want and until you’re ready for that I’m not sure I can keep doing what you are asking of me Ivan.” Simon finished looking at him and he felt a chill in his bones either from the looming issues in their relationship ship or something else he wasn’t sure.

Hector watched the faggots talking there buisness. This was how the men in their family handled the frustrations of life. How dare Ivan tell him. How dare he have a gun? Did he think that he could stop him from taking exactly what always was his. He loved a man? That was sick. That was so sick and he’d cleanse his nephew of that. His father sent him to him because he saw him all those years ago kissing Pedro and thought he could fix Ivan. He thought he broke him of this by breaking him. As he slowly touched himself he thought about Gia and then looking at Simon. He’d learn because he thought he was safe? That was a joke and he’d make him see that Ivan couldn’t be a fairy. He couldn’t be with him and he’d always be his. His boy that he got to do anything to. Hector took pictures of Simon and Ivan and smiled. This was going to be a good night. Hector slowly walked into the darkness of the mansion whistling a song by Ivan heard on the radio.

Ivan nodded at him and just walked down the hall. “Are you going to stand there or are you coming. I gotta put this up and I’m going to figure this out. Simon I’m going to give you what you need just give me time.” His ears perked up as he heard someone whistling his song. “You hear that? That’s my song.” Ivan leaned in kissing Simon to calm him down. “What’s the matter you need some dick? I’m about to come and fuck you after this boring ass party now let’s go out there. Introduce me to your people I’m ready to mingle and everybody dancing. I came to see how your parties were before I take you to a familia fiesta or a cookout. You know the Watkins are like my adopted family too Kendrick took me in. So let’s party or you still mad at me? I’m about to put this out and I think it’s time I do something for you. I don’t have to say shit publicly and I know press will speculate but it’s my business and you my boyfriend right? So let’s do this.” Ivan opened his eyes and looked at Simon. “You ready? I mean everyone is going to know you’re dating a reformed drug dealer and rapper. Simon, are you ready for them to know me? All of them.”

Simon looked at Ivan as much as he wanted most of what Ivan was saying he also was a realist, not to mention he heard someone humming Ivan’s latest song and his eyes danced around the hallway looking for a suspect or an observer, only to find no one. It could have easily been a fan or some random passer by but it was a little unnerving. He let himself get lost in the kiss for a moment before finally pulling away from Ivan as he saw the woman that was his date popping her head around the corner, yeah he would sleeping along tonight. “Looks like your date is looking for you.” Simon said adjusting his suit as he looked down at his phone that was also buzzing with a text from Rory about Jayden Bradshaw and then one from Jackie about Dru as well, he was going to be busy it looked like anyway. So many fires that he needed to take care off and on the eve of one of the biggest moments. “Listen I’ll catch you later and we can talk. Right now I have some work stuff I have to take care of.” Simon finished looking at him patting his shoulder before he headed back into the party and the crowd.


Selina slowly strutted down the red carpet as the cameras flashed against her and Elliot. It seemed people knew her name even more since she was with Dimitri. She’d made a lifestyle of being in the background and just reading her mother’s diaries made her feel less than. Would she be a go-getter like her mother? Would she have her own dynasty to be a part of those were major questions she was asking herself at this very moment. As she looked at Elliot talking to an interviewer she slickly walked to her boyfriend and kissed him in front of the entire media. This time they went into a frenzy and she pulled him away. Someone even gave them a cute smushed name Elina. She snickered at that name. As she walked through the ball with a dipped crimson faux fur as she slowly made eye contact with a few people. Feeling the electricity of the room she looked at her lover and smiled. He had that look on his face like he was going to rip this gown off tonight. She slapped him playfully on the shoulder just with that look.

“I’ve been thinking about everything a lot.” Selina said purring as she looked at him. “I am thinking about my own future at DGI. I’m reading my mother’s diaries and she was so fierce. I always wanted my own legacy. I mean is this all I have gala after gala for a company that isn’t mine. That I will never have a stake in and can’t control myself? My father’s businesses and my mother fought for a place at DGI. From what I am reading she was just as instrumental as the men. I don’t want DGI and I’m not gunning for MontCorp. What can I do that’s just mine. That’s just Selina and the Delacroix family.” She looked at him smiling. “What I just want this. Lowell my godfather is leaving a true legacy. What am I going to leave my child? I want a child with you and I feel like they deserve something from mommy and daddy. I mean I’m rich as hell. Why can’t I do something more than being an executive for Lowell? I’m brilliant and finished higher in school than Chauncey. He wouldn’t tell a soul that but I have everything to build my own future you know?”

Elliot had been talked into attending this Summit thing with Selina for her to chase her dreams or what he was beginning to think was someone else dreams. She seemed so focused on herself since their trip back from New York and he frankly admired that about her. He had fallen so hard for her because she was so bold and fierce and frankly helping running Lowell’s company didn’t scream the amazing woman that she was to him. He was also highly aware that tonight meant that he could mingle with some politicians in the state and area, he was still considering running for DA in the next election. The numbers made sense and he had talked to various mentors about it and he did feel a passion to help especially those in the Scottswood neighborhood. Not that Braden Fraiser didn’t but Braden wasn’t black he didn’t grow up on the streets and a lot of that trust had been thrown out with Kendrick’s death. He smiled for the cameras, his eyes raking over Selina’s dress; he was eventually going to get her into his bed when she was ready. He gave into the kiss intently when she had done it and followed her inside the room after.

“I think you can and should do whatever the hell you feel like but being second to DGI and Chauncey certainly isn’t that. Listen I know Lowell is your godfather but didn’t he like take Chauncey’s side when that shit with Jamal and Braden went wayward? Didn’t they both railroaded you about custody if Maddie? He’s not worth your loyalty in my opinion neither one of them are.” Elliot said he could have lied to her and maybe he should have he knew how much she cared about both Chauncey and Lowell but on the other hand neither one was deserving of her loyalty at the end of it. He kept his personal feelings about Maddie to himself as much as he knew that Selina loved her like a daughter, even that was waning as Maddie got older but that wasn’t his place. He looked at her with a grin when she mentioned having a baby with him if that was even possible given everything he knew that could be an adventure in and of itself something Monique had told him to pursue neither of them were getting younger. “Listen about the baby thing I know you have a lot going on right now with everything with your mom and what we learned. You still want to do IVF we can do that but maybe you just never had the right man to try it the traditional way you know?” Elliot said looking at her blush and he couldn’t help the smile while he leaned in kissing her before whispering in her ear. “I have every intention of taking that dress off of you if you will actually let me this time you know.”

Selina laughed and playfully slapped his chest. “Boy you better stop it.” She laughed looking at him. “But just so you know I have every intention of letting you take off this dress tonight and I don’t know maybe you could be the one to traditionally show me that I’m not so broken.” She said honestly because in many ways she saw herself as just that. Selina loved everything about herself and after last year it took her some time to truly see all the beauty. It was also a fact that she couldn’t have kids or so she was told a while back. Maybe she needed to get checked up? Maybe it was some surgery she could have? She wasn’t satisfied about not having a child and that was something she truly always wanted and just hearing him talk about trying IVF or traditionally made her feel hopeful. Time wasn’t on her side and she knew that. She spent years climbing up the corporate ladder instead of being a mother. Tears began to form but she wouldn’t cry because she knew he was the one. She knew that Elliot was the man to stand by her and whatever she could do she’d stand by his side.

“Elliot I want to make love to you right now tonight and I also want to carry your baby. I’m absolutely sure of that. I know I’m going back and forth with my mom but we are together. This is the future. You’ve waited on me but I don’t want to wait no more.” She whispered as she took him by his goatee and kissed his lips slipping her tongue in. “I am in the past dealing with my shit because I want us to have a full life. I don’t want to bring anything into this. This is me cleaning out my closet for this person I plan on bringing into the world. I want to have my shit together for this person this girl or boy that comes. I want to be whole and strong and most of all I want to be with you through it all. So we will go to Kelsey after tonight. We will do a pop up visit and see what we can do. I want to have your baby Elliot, I want to share my life with you and I want to figure out who the woman this ball was dedicated to a couple years back. I want to know Gloria.” She saw Mason and Zach kissing and feeding each other. They were so handsome and almost too pretty to look at. Selina walked with Elliot to them and smiled. “Hello, you two earth to the sickeningly disgustingly cute couple in front of me.”

Zach laughed as he looked at Selina who was breathtaking as always. He leaned in and hugged her and then shook Elliot’s hand. “So how are you two?” He said wrapping his arms around Mason’s waist. “I personally told Mason that you two might be as good looking as we are. It’s good to see you smiling again Selina and as long as you keep her smiling we won’t have a problem.” He meant that Selina was now family again to him. This time he wasn’t going to let anyone hurt, including the man before her. “So we are excited about the wedding. Merci got us all this stuff to look at and it’s happening way faster than I believed. But the future for us is bright and I have something to announce. I might have a lead on Kieran.” He saw Mason’s eyes get wide and Selina looking completely happy. “So Diego called me and rumor has it that they might be in South America. Brazil to be exact.”

Mason was happy to see Selina smiling; he had been working so much on trying to get Hunter out of jail he hadn’t been able to be there when she wanted to go to New York. From what he understood when they texted Selina said that the trip had been good and that Elliot was by her side. Honestly he was so excited about his upcoming wedding to Zach he hadn’t really thought of their mothers diaries or what they entailed in them, he wanted to move forward like he knew that his father wanted him too. He was so happy to start his new life with Zach and he hugged his sister before shaking Elliots hand. He returned Zach’s gesture before he leaned in kissing his cheek with a grin. The wedding was moving so fast it was a few weeks away ever since that awful dinner the other day they were riding on a cloud. It was going to be the biggest and most gorgeous gay wedding that Atlas Falls had ever seen. They had picked out their rings, the cake and even their attendants that would stand with either them. His only regret was that his father wasn’t here to see it, but the had talked about honoring him somehow down the line either via surrogate or adoption. He looked over at Zach when he mentioned that Kieran had been spotted in Brazil, it was the perfect moment to get Kieran back Brazil had no extradition roadblock back to the US.

“I never knew how fast or how quick Merci could get a wedding ready and together and it’s not like we gave her a huge timeline either. I think everyone has gotten the invitations it’s just crazy you know. I hope that Hunter it out by then too he’s been out here acting like an idiot over these charges.” Mason said taking a drink of his champagne as he looked at Selina and Elliot he was so happy for his sister. Jamal could say that he was fine being single but he could tell the boy had a thing for little miss new Belle Devonshire but that was neither here nor there his brother deserved to be happy after what Val did. “They may be as good looking but my sis is going places all by herself from what I’ve heard from Elliot and I’m happy about it. I’m glad Selina that you are rediscovering who you are, you know me and Jamal love Maddie. But let’s face you saddled in rooting for Chauncey after all that shit he put you through find who you are you know? Live your truth for you from now on.” He looked at Elliot despite how they had started as near enemies they were moving towards what he felt was a brotherhood and a bond between them, plus he did feel that Elliot really did care about his sister. “Brazil? You never thought to mention it before now Zach? This is great news have you reached out to Diego and see I told you having rich friends and family gets results.” Mason said knowing how much that him, Jackson and Dani had funded the search for Kieran the last few months.

“Yes I do believe that Selina got the invitation in the mail while we were in New York, I do have to say I’m looking forward to the festivities seeing how the last wedding in this town that was as big ended in a murder. Our trip was good though.” Elliot said beaming at Selina as he did to he had meant that he did enjoy their trip and what they learned that Gloria was hiding ore secrets. Honestly it reminded him of a detective novel or even some complicated corporate espionage plot that an attorney like him would revel in. Until he had decided if he was going to officially run for DA or not he was getting restless, Jon’s case was on an official hold since he hadn’t made a move to reengage with the Hessington’s for Miles. After some digging he had found out why and it would be an even bigger uphill battle if he did so that meant he had smaller cases he could work on and still be there for Selian for this new journey she was on.  “You will have to remind me and catch me up, Selina mentioned that you have a son and your ex fled with him correct?” Elliot said looking at Zach trying to remember all the specifics about Kieran it was before his time in Atlas Falls.

Zach nodded at Elliot letting him know he was correct he had a son. “Well she was my lover not my ex. To be fair and I had no clue she was pregnant with my kid. What makes matter all the more crazy is this guy was dating her as well.” He laughed looking at Mason who seemed to be deathly embarrassed by that fact now. “I was engaged to a guy named Dante and having an affair with Scarlett. It wasn’t right but it was what I was doing. I wasn’t confused, I just wanted my cake and ice cream and a piece of pie. It was sad honestly what I did to Dante because he didn’t deserve what happened to him. Scarlett killed Dante and lied to Tony and everyone about Mason being the father for a period. Well I’d eventually find out and uncover that Scarlett was obsessed with Philip Montgomery because her sister Veronica Nichols was in love with him. It was a big mess but Scarlett was found to be the killer of Veronica, her father, and Dante. This fact was revealed to everyone and she fled before I got to even see Kieran. Now we are close to finding her and Diego actually is heading to Brazil. Hopefully I’ll have my son back and we will have our missing piece to our family.” Zach said as he pulled in Mason for a kiss on the lips. “We are also looking into adoption soon Selina so you ready to be an auntie?”

Selina hugged Zach again and clapped for her brother. She could see Kieran and a little girl and a little boy. She could see Mason being an awesome dad with Zach as the laid back one. She did think that her brother would be the disciplinarian considering how strict Tony was on them. Well all but Jamal he got away with murder. Or her beloved daddy was too tired to whoop his ass. It was funny to hear Mason would eventually have a baby and here they were just talking about a child. She chose to keep her news silent because at this point a baby wasn’t real to her. At this point she didn’t know if she could even carry a child to term. Maybe a surrogate? Maybe IVF would work? Maybe she’d get lucky and finally have her miracle baby. A child she wasn’t supposed to have but her womb wasn’t able to carry a child. When she was pregnant once she miscarried Chauncey and her child. She damn sure didn’t tell Braden when she lost their baby in college after he had just had Dylan. Women are competitive and she honestly knew she got pregnant to spite Tamara. Something she hadn’t told anyone to this day. Selina just kept it a secret that she didn’t want anyone to know at the time. It was a few years later she was told it would be nearly impossible for her to carry a child to term. She’d learned to smile at babies, to not look bitter seeing a woman pregnant, and to hide the pain that she wasn’t whole. No matter how many times men told her she was complete she just didn’t feel right without having a baby. It shouldn’t be this hard. It should have happened years ago and she hated that her money and influence couldn’t fix this. A piece of her shattered just hearing her baby brother would be a parent before her. He’d never know how jealous she truly was that Zach and he would have a family. Secretly Selina wondered if she deserved it and she should just be grateful for the love she found with Elliot. Instead she just squeezed his hand and took a deep breath.

“I’m so happy for you both and adoption? A Fraiser and Delacroix, the world isn’t ready for that mix honey.” She laughed trying to stop herself from shaking. How could she be so happy and yet so miserable? It was what she always wanted for her own child. Maddie and Dylan weren’t hers and as badly as she pretended to be mommy to them they would never be hers. Chauncey had proven that when he stripped his daughter from her the moment that she chose Braden. She literally had to fake documents to keep being involved in Maddie’s life. Now they were so far apart that she wasn’t sure if they’d ever be on the same page again. “I do have a question for you Mason before I go mingle with more guests, do you remember our nanny Anya?” She asked as she wrapped herself inside of Elliot embrace. She looked at him in the eyes and she could tell he felt her trembling. “Mason I’m getting the feeling mom wasn’t as sick as everyone initially thought. I’m currently looking for her oncologist. It’s more to her story and I just don’t want to stop until I know all of it. I won’t stop until I know everything that happened.”

Mason looked at Selina and saw that slight pain in her eyes about kids and adoption that hadn’t been easy for his sister. He loved Maddie but now that she was older she was starting to see that Selina wasn’t her mother and his heart broke over that. Truthfully it had been headed that way for years and then the divorce with Braden happened and Maddie was tossed into chaos again. When she mentioned their old nanny he thought over it and honestly he could remember a ton from her. He was so young when everything happened. He remembered that Anya was kind and had one of the coolest Spanish accents that he could remember to this day but other than that he didn’t remember a lot and he looked at her. Their mother died. He remembered that much of the funeral, standing in church at the closed casket then at the graveyard watching the dirt thrown on her grave. He shuddered a bit at the memory of his father’s hand in his and Selina’s, the tears streaming down all their faces.

“Zach and I are really excited about expanding our family after the wedding but we both know how sensitive this can be for you. I don’t remember Anya super well but she was good to us. I do know that dad really adored her as our nanny and then she left in the middle of the night.” Mason said looking at his sister and seeing Elliot and Zach get silent as they discussed their dead mother. Honestly, part of him wished that they never found her journals in the first place but once his sister dug into something he knew that she had to dig in to find the truth. It was causing her to find who she was and he was glad for that but it was also causing a lot of unpleasant memories for them both. “She was sick, Selina, you know that. She had appointments at the hospital for it hell she wore that cap when she was doing chemo. Why in the world would you think otherwise?” Mason finished looking at her and then taking a sip of his champagne.

Selina saw her brother watching her emotions and she tried as hard as she could to remain stoic and happy. Her hands began to shake as she looked at him. “Because I read she had a great doctor’s appointment a few weeks before she died. Mom wrote in her diary they told her she was in remission Mason. I know she’s gone but so much of these are telling me another story. What if mom didn’t die of cancer and that’s what we’ve been told. I just think it’s more to her story and I hate to say this about Ophelia. But she didn’t know dad before mom’s death. She never met that man and I’m wondering if this is why my daddy killed himself. Something from the past.” She didn’t want to get choked up but all her emotions had been into figuring out why her father took his life and who this woman was and most of all who she came from. She could understand why Mason was alarmed but if her thoughts were correct something from the past cut her father so deeply that he thought death was the answer. She didn’t want whatever that was to come and strike any other member of her family. She was the leader now and she wasn’t going out like her father. Nothing would make her unwaver in protecting Mason, Ophelia, Jamal and Zach soon to be. “Let’s get off all of this, tonight is supposed to be happy.” Selina cheered as she tried to change the energy she disturbed.

“I’m taking your family name.” Zach said awkwardly. “I mean we are taking each other’s name so I’ll be Zach Fraiser Delacroix and he’ll be Mason Delacroix-Fraiser. We thought that was a way to honor our families, you know? Um, so I’m thinking I need to learn how to season my food better right?” He laughed as he saw Mason, Selina, and Elliot all laughing. Zach felt the weight in the room lessen because sometimes he felt the strain of Tony’s death still weighed on the Delacroix family. Not to mention he forgot all about Selina’s infertility issues. It was hard to talk about Kieran and children in front of her. He felt so badly because Dylan said how Maddie was kind of over playing mommy with Selina and she had so much wisdom and heart. “Now who is teaching me? I need to know the tricks I’m not trying not to uninvite to the cookout.”

Selina looked at Elliot laughing at Zach but proud to have him as a Delacroix. She nodded her head as she looked at Mason. “You haven’t been teaching this boy? Well Mason I was thinking of doing a soul food dinner every Sunday. I could cook some fried chicken, fried catfish, oxtails, jambalaya, gumbo, greens, my honey maple cornbread, and for dessert a banana pudding cheesecake. Plus Zeke and Monique are coming to visit so I think I could cater the seafood from La Callie and I want to impress them so badly. I can grill you on my nephew Keiran and these new nieces and or nephews I got coming. Plus I refuse to let Jamal be ahead of Mason because he was about to be a father and that just scared me. But isn’t it crazy mom had a closed casket and we never saw her body. Dad talked about seeing his father in the casket made him understand why he didn’t do that for us.” Selina couldn’t let it go. “I’m sorry guys.” She sipped her champagne.

Elliot looked at Selina knowing all this was killing her on the inside she wanted to be a mother more than anything. He was actually glad when she decided to change the subject or at least Mason and Zach did children and her search into her mother’s past had been so heavy for her and them. He honestly wanted her to have answers before they took things to the next level physically and intimately which for him was odd, but there was something about it that he felt they needed to do. Dimitri had taken so much from Selina and in some ways he knew the woman that he was with now needed to find herself. Which happened to include in this case learning everything about the mother that had died, the mother that she barely remembered. “Dinner sounds lovely and I know that Monique and Zeke are looking forward to their visit. I think they would love to meet you both especially since Selina and I have gotten more serious lately.” Elliot said taking a sip of his champagne as he looked at Selina raising his glass as Mason and Zach joined them in a clink of glasses.

“I don’t know Selina maybe dad just didn’t want us to remember her like that you know? Maybe he wanted to spare us the pain of looking at her like and he decided to do it for his own funeral. You remember her more than I do sis and that is okay, I just don’t dwell on it as much all I remember was you holding my hand that day and after Ophelia became mome to be. I know you and her aren’t like that you know? But you’re right on the food I have been a bit lacking on teaching this man here to make a proper seasoned anything lately.” Mason said he felt sympathetic to her cause but honestly dwelling in their mother’s death or even their father’s seemed to counter productive. Not to mention to exact opposite when it came to what their father would have wanted for them, he wanted them to move on and become happy. He wrapped his arm around Zach and clinked his glass to Elliot and his sister’s. He was glad to get to know Elliot better, sure they got off on the wrong foot but he did believe people deserved second chances. “So shall we all go mingle or not? I do want to see that big ass display and at least go say hello Jackson before he steps on stage.” Mason said hoping that they could all enjoy the rest of their evening without their mother and her death hanging over them.


“Detective a moment of your time.” Lowell said as he rolled up approaching Jon who looked dapper tonight. He’d heard a lot of things about how Jon was behaving and he had every intention of calling him out. “You know I never took you for a man who was so bitter. In fact I have always been jealous of your family for a distinct reason. Jon, your parents made you a pureblood good person. In fact I’m sure of it when I say that your heart might be bigger than everyone here. That’s why it was so easily broken.” He could tell he didn’t know what to do. He was frozen and that’s exactly what he wanted. He wanted Jon to not know what was coming because he had every intention of never spending another moment with Tess. This was his choice and this was his move to protect Bliss and his family. Hunter had been with Max and now he was married to Bliss. That meant he was like a son and there was no way he was staying in a jail cell a moment longer. “Follow me Jon and talk to me.” As one of the waiters opened the door to the garden he smelled the autumn air. The leaves had begun to change colors and he took it all in. This would be the last time he’d see this view, smell these flowers, and be in the mansion. Lowell used his small arms to roll himself out to see the view of the estate. It was one of his children also. He nurtured this house and it held such special memories. How Rory fell in the ice one year and they all thought he drowned, or when Max and Jackson threw a party in the guest house and nobody knew, and the funniest when Chauncey came home married to Logan. This house held so many memories for him.

“I appreciate you coming here Jon and I appreciate you listening to what I have to say.” Lowell rubbed his hands on his legs. “I want you to arrest me tonight. I want you to take me down to the station and charge me for the murder of Dimitri Kavanaugh. Hunter is vouching for me and that isn’t right. He’s protecting me and I did the crime. I deserve the time. Not my son-in-law Hunter.” Lowell said as he looked at a skeptical Jon. “Oh you don’t believe me, should I recall how I sent my daughter’s, godchild, and Tamara out for new gowns? Or how I shot him multiple times at the kill shot was at point blank range.” Knowing that wasn’t released to the media he smirked. “Jon I’ve done some depraved things but this wasn’t one of them. This was the best thing I could do was protect Atlas Falls from a threat. Something I want you to continue to do. This is my home, and my city. Now are you going to take my statement or are you going to stand here and look gobsmacked.”

Jon wasn’t sure why Lowell called him. For the last few days since he saw Miranda he’d been in and out of his home. Not really trying to see Skye because of the shame he felt. The way he treated her was unfair and hell demanding to have Miles back was unfair. Truthfully he’d been thinking about it and he just wanted to talk to Ryan and Whitney. Try to get them to understand his point of view. How crushed he was and how he now had to face something he didn’t want to, this was his fault. If he never would have given into the darkness Skye would have felt she had somewhere other than the Hessington’s to turn to. That made him feel less than the good man that Lowell was lamenting on. Just hearing the great Lowell Devonshire say he was jealous of his family made him scoff. Miranda and he had a fraction of what the Devonshire’s did but they still made a way. His parents opened TJ’s and his dad retired as a good cop. He didn’t have blood on his hands and he didn’t enjoy the racial injustices of Pennsylvania in the past. Jon honestly hadn’t spoken to his parents in a couple weeks; he wondered if they thought he was still a good man. Honestly he didn’t know if that was the truth. The way he had done the woman that he cared about, the woman that showed him even though she made a mistake she did right by their child. Skye made sure she gave Miles to a family that loved him, that was wealthy, and that had love between them. As badly as he hated to admit it Miles was safe and happy. At the time that she had Miles he wasn’t even sure if he would survive the darkness. Or if she would survive her addiction.

Folding his arms he listened to Lowell and instantly wondered who he was fooling. Lowell was weak as a kitten and he was supposedly strong enough now to shoot and kill Dimitri? That was a joke until he heard him say that he shot Dimitri point blank range. He made sure that the public didn’t know how many times Dimitri was shot and that he was almost executed. When he listened to him lament on the fact he had to go to jail. He was taken back by the fact that his nemesis was so steadfast. Lowell Devonshire was the antithesis of everything he believed in. The man enjoyed excess, he didn’t know when to stop, and was malicious. He preyed on people’s insecurities and taught his damn children to think they were superior to everyone else. He didn’t like that  “Slow down Lowell, I think that we need to discuss this. Hunter confessed and he had the same story as you. He knew detailed information about the murder and if you’re confessing how am I supposed to believe that?” Jon asked as he sat down looking at the mansion. “As for my personal life I don’t expect you to understand what I’m going through. You have had everything in life handed to you or you stole it.” Jon said, seeing Lowell smiling. “What are you smiling at?”

“Even in my death you won’t give me a break. I honestly respect you Jon. You are the man that you are and I sadly don’t like that man. You act as if rules don’t apply to you and that having power and influence is somehow wrong. That is a false narrative buddy if you had power your son wouldn’t being raised by the Hessington’s. I have my secrets. I lost a dear friend to me years ago and I have paid for so many things. I haven’t had anything handed to me I stole, I lied, and I cheated. I don’t know if you know it but Jon that’s a lot of hard work. I don’t claim to be innocent nor do I claim to be a saint. What I am telling you is that there is a lot of blood on my hands. I’ve done unspeakable things for my business and my own sick grandiose thinking. I somehow tricked my own self into thinking that I could do whatever I wanted to the woman I love. I hurt Jackie in many ways and when I needed to feel superior I cheated. I ruined the best relationship I ever had because I couldn’t fix myself.” He cleared his throat as he looked at him. “Hunter confessed because I confided in him. He didn’t want me to go down for the crime being that I had such limited time but I can’t let him face this alone. I have to confess and if I go to jail sobeit. I however won’t let him rot in a jail cell.” Lowell said as he looked at him.

“Help me free an innocent man and if you must jail me but every doctor will tell you I have a few months to live a year at the max. If I’m in a jail cell to live them out I’m fine with that.” Lowell looked at a rival. A great man who had morals but he was asking to bend the rules. “I am not that man now but back then I used to be able to walk. Would you fix this for me and I’ll help your quest to gain access to Miles. I have resources even in death I can offer you something. I’m dying and Hunter shouldn’t go down for this. I am afraid you’ve made a mistake and if you rectify it I’ll make it worth your wild. Charles and I have our secrets and I can make something happen but don’t think I won’t hesitate to burn down your police department in litigation for that boy. Let me be the end of Dimitri and you arrest the great Lowell Devonshire. You get the collar of the lifetime let me restore your name Jon. Let me help my daughter because Hunter didn’t do this and he’s protecting his family. He’s protecting the Devonshire’s and I can’t in good faith let this continue.”

Jon heard what he said and for the first time he saw some humanity in Lowell. He recognized him as a rival just as his father was. It was Richard who once said that Lowell Devonshire changed Atlas Falls. He said that the seediness seeped into the soil and to see him so humbled. No longer the bellowing God but a humbled man made him sad in a way. Even though Lowell wasn’t his favorite person this wasn’t how anyone saw him going out. He listened to him understanding he was protecting Hunter and Bliss and he nodded. “I will take your confession and I’ll let the DA know what is happening. Lowell if they take you in I need you ot understand the luxuries of two different caregivers wouldn’t be allowed. You’d be alone n jail and that would be your life unable to move, stuck in a infirmary room being changed maybe a few times a day. It isn’t the life you are used to.” He said trying to persuade him against it and he looked at the feeble man before him.

“As for helping me with Charles I would ask you to not do that. I got what I deserved and I honestly don’t know if my name could ever be restored. I’ve been a mess and I’ve done and said things I never thought I would. Miles doesn’t deserve this version of me and I think I should let him live his life. It’s the best I could do for him because Whitney and Ryan are his parents. That stings to say but I lost him the moment I went to rehab and I have to deal with that. But you knew that didn’t you Lowell? You did a DNA test on Miles through Charles and that test meant I was the father. I guess my sanctimonious behavior didn’t help with you giving me a heads up that this bomb was ticking over my life. I deserve it but I guess you understand the pain of losing your children because none of them are in your life. Now I guess sympathies because I understand that loss and it’s something no man should ever have to feel.” Jon said looking at him in the wheelchair.

Lowell let the silence and heaviness of Jon’s words echo inside of his head. How could he not? He was correct in saying that all his scheming and provocation of Jackie he lost his children. He wondered if hell would burn as hotly as they said. It must be a special place in hell for all the sins he’s committed over his lifetime. Here he was trying to use the one thing he had against Forbes and Charles to help Jon get his child back. Martin Wolfe would be proud of this man before him. He had morals and he wondered if Jon understood why Richard hated him? He wondered if Jon had any clue how connected he was to DGI? “Promise me this Jon that you will keep your heart? People will try and take it and try and change you. I do believe you’ve made quite a mess but I do think you can fix it. Well Jon you threatened to always nail me and tried to take down my sons plenty of times. You’ve undermined Jackson and Dani’s relationship and talked down on my name as if you know who you are and what you truly come from. I felt no need to tell you because as you said life would slam into you.” He said as he looked at Jon.

“I do think you will have a shot to get Miles back, just keep your eyes open and never trust Charles Hessington. Never believe him and if you think I was a snake he’s an anaconda. A charlatan in the mask of a politician nobody including his children are safe. Forbes is a monster but Charles is worse because he hides his monstrosities behind a veneer of perfection . One thing you can expect from Forbes is that he’ll calculatedly dismantle someone but Charles will slit your throat without you ever knowing it’s him. Don’t trust him with your child or anyone. He’s here to get something and he’s going to destroy Atlas Falls more than my and Forbes war. He has a lot of secrets that you have no clue about. Understand my hands are tied and eventually you’ll know why.” Lowell said ominously as he looked at Jon. “I’ll say this like your father you are always a great adversary but you aren’t this cold man Jon. Listen to someone who has ruined their life. I lost the love of my life and Skye and you are magnets. Don’t lose her because she made a mistake and you aren’t perfect. Don’t let this town elevate you to a place where perfection is what you believe you need to be.” Lowell said looking at him. “Now go enjoy yourself after my announcement you may arrest me and take me down to the station. Do whatever you please.”

Jon caught Lowell’s veiled secrets he wanted to pry more so his father who always said stay away from the Devonshire family, was it more to it? As he folded his arms he was sure the DA would release Hunter behind this. Lowell knew details that nobody else did. Hunter also did too. However if it was framed as Hunter protecting his sickly father in law well that would be exactly the thing to turn Hunter into a hero. “I’ll inform the DA Lowell but understand at how badly this could go for you. I should be going but the way you’re talking Lowell is if my father or family is involved in this mess. I don’t like that insinuation. So whatever you are hinting at stop it. The Harrison’s have never been involved in this and don’t say we are or anything like that. You’re dying old man and you won’t put me on a path to doubt my father.”

Lowell smirked as he shook his head. “All of you are involved in the game. You still don’t see it or know it? Richard Harrison has his blood on his hands and so does June. I was the biggest virus that hit this town. I infected all and if you think my reach hasn’t touched your beloved family you’re foolish. Learn something Jon, learn your history because I know so much more than you. I know what haunts your parents and it isn’t just your psychosis. I’ll give you a clue ask June who is Martin Wolfe? Good day detective. You have my advice and you have my warning but you are a good man and I believe you’ll do the right thing.” Waving his hand his caregiver rushed to him and rolled him away from Jon.

Jon stood in silence as he watched Lowell leaving him. He couldn’t help but one last jab a subtle smirk appeared on his face. Lowell wasn’t that dead yet and he was lining things up. The fact that Lowell said that Charles was worst than Forbes did register loud and clear. Both evil Lowell was commenting on the polish and art of hiding his true face. Then it registered to him who was Martin Wolfe? What was Lowell talking about. He wrote the name down and put it in his wallet. One day he’d scrounge up the courage to ask about Martin Wolfe. Whoever this man was he was sure that it would lead to him looking at his family differently. Walking away he called the commissioner and knew that this wasn’t going to be pretty. But Lowell was correct he wasn’t going to let Hunter fall on the sword for this. Ending Dimitri Kavanaugh’s reign on Atlas Falls meant not losing one of the good men in this city. God bless Lowell for what he may be doing to himself. “Commissioner Franklin this is Jon Harrison I have update on the murder of Dimitri Kavanaugh.”


Greer strutted down the red carpet with Brock as her ultimate accessory. After all, the best way to get over one man was to get under another one. That meant that she was sure that Brock would be the perfect father. It was a few days ago they found out it was a boy. A son a little boy for Brock to nurture and teach. He’d learn how to fish instead of learning how to raid a company. That was something she feared so much for her little boy. If he ever found out about his true parentage would he hate her? She was sure he’d appreciate it more to be happy with a father who wouldn’t do what Lowell did to them all. Chauncey pulling away from her on Valentine’s Day and treating her like she was nothing sealed the deal. He didn’t care about her or love her. People kept saying they thought they saw something. What they saw was Chauncey refusal to lose or leave well enough alone. She knew he was the father of this baby but did he deserve to be the father of her child? That was a firm no. Right now all she could think about and securing her place in the Fraiser family. A family that would love and forever protect her. She just had to make them see she was apart of the family. Gripping Brock’s broad shoulder she swished through the party feeling like she had cracked the code. She’d won and nobody would ever be the wiser.

The smell of lilies opulently echoed through the summit. She looked around and knew that her reporters were all over the place. Getting exclusives and aspiring to find out the latest in the war between DGI and MontCorp. “I truly am happy that LeClerq media is covering such a monumental event in business history. Speculation is that Jackson and Dani were about to become the most powerful couple in Atlas Falls. If that is true, well everyone better buckle up because we are in for quite a ride.” Greer speculated as she strutted through the room and spotted Lauren walking through the summit. That woman despised her. She knew she was lying or manipulating something. The way her uncle Harvey talked about Lauren it was as if she had a way of seeing through people. That was true because she clearly saw through her manipulation of Brock. She was completely against them and that was apparent from the jump. Now she’d make her believe the love story or make herself believe it. “Your aunt hates me.”

Brock had went with his uncle to go and get his tuxedo for the evening he still found his uncle a peculiar creature even now shopping at the local Men’s Warehouse for a suit for the Energy Summit when he was mayor of an entire city. He supposed in many was that was what kept the Fraiser’s humble in his opinion they didn’t spend exorbitant amounts of money on frivolous things that didn’t matter. He still found it amusing that Greer’s face had looked horrified when she saw the bag and within a few minutes she was on the phone speaking french to someone and giving them his measurement, the next day a suit luxurious of course was replaced in his side of the closet in her condo. He had wondered when they would actually have a conversation about money in general she seemed to want to spend it a lot and that was simply not how he was raised, he lived a modest life and also had a hefty savings that he had invested into. He wondered how it would be when their son was born the lavishness of it all, not to mention her working so much. Honestly he didn’t want a nanny, it was everything that he was against not because he was sexist but because he had such fond memories of his mother raising him and his siblings. She had put her career on hold after he was born and didn’t go back to work until Lucy was in middle school. It was what was best for their family, hell his grandparents helped out too and it wasn’t like he wanted Greer’s father around their son. He watched her walking around and talking at the Summit, honestly he didn’t envy this for his cousin the spotlight that she was thrust into. But if any Fraiser could do it become some pilar of Atlas Falls it was her, not him or even one of his siblings, hell not even Braden.

He leaned in kissing Greer when she approached to reassure her his aunt was a handful she was also highly protective over himself and his siblings. Honestly part of him knew that was because of how Victoria had died, Lauren had always been that way but that night changed her and there was something about Greer that his aunt simply had decided to latch onto. He got her concern as well as Zach’s and everyone else but what was he supposed to do? Greer was pregnant with his child not to mention he was madly in love with her. The way she was so different from him was attractive even if it drove him to be annoyed from time to time like it had when she callously replaced his suit. “My aunt has her reservations but you are winning her over I can feel it. Agreeing to have the wedding at the Pub was a huge step it is such a tradition. Our third cousin Collen was the last one to get married there until Braden and Tamara had their rehearsal there. I know it’s not your cup of tea but it’s important to me and my family, it’s like our own little part of Atlas Falls that survived Lowell’s influence and I know you don’t get that grudge but I think that made her see you weren’t all bad you know? Not to mention I know my mom has been talking to her about a baby shower for you and if you give her a chance she’ll come around. If she could do it for Jackson I think she can do it for you.” Brock finished looking at Greer with a smile as he took a glass of champagne from the plate and then made sure she couldn’t reach one as he looked at the waiter. “Sparkling water for her or juice if you have any, clearly.” He finished for a split second wondering if she was really going to drink or not tonight.

Rolling her neck at him embarrassed at how Brock was treating her. Lauren sent them a bottle of wine a few months back and she would drink a glass of red a night. Kelsey had told her many times over a glass of champagne or wine wouldn’t hurt or harm the baby. Just seeing Brock moving the tray away from her like a child infuriated her. “I am a French beloved. My mother Agnes drank a glass and did her job beautifully. I heard stories over and over about how she would dance for hours. I don’t need a man to order for me Brock. I am not a blowup doll that you can boss around. I’m a working woman and will remain a working woman. Our children will know that I’m just as vital as their father. I’m also sick of pretending I’m not wealthy. My family has bought a media empire Brock and I’m not going to keep making my son’s life less than because you all want to be basic. I’m not going to keep graveling to the Fraiser so if she says yes I’m absolutely sure she’ll disagree about us marrying at The Pub. She disapproves of us and she won’t be changing her mind. I don’t have a problem saying I don’t give a damn.” Greer said seething as her eyes narrowed looking at Brock.

Rubbing her hand on her belly as she smiled at him brightly. “I’m scared as hell about this. Us just asking if she might blow up again. The baby or I don’t need this.” She purred methodically, dragging her feet slowly across the room. As she looked at the older woman who looked stunning. Age had done this woman justice, she was elegant, reminiscent of a Grecian sculpture. “Lauren you look absolutely beautiful tonight, I hear there are big things in store for Jackson and Dani. Can I get a scoop? Maybe some words about what’s happening with your daughter.” She slipped her hands around Brock.

Lauren was walking around the party and the summit listening to people buzzing about Jackson and Dani. Her heart was pounding hearing her daughter was about to get the throne with her husband. Her hair pulled into a tight bun placing her hands over her belly as Greer walked to her with Brock. She was the snake who convinced Eve who bit the apple. Everything about her was artificial, something was always off with that perfect facade. Her eyes glazed over her. She was a stunning petite and she had Agnes’ face almost as if she had stolen it. Waving her hand over her gown her eyes burned with sadness. Why was he so blind? What spell had Greer LeClerq put Brock? She knew all to well the pain of loving a LeClerq. Somehow this woman had squirmed her way into the most loyal man she knew. Brock was sweet and always tried to do the best. Now she was having his baby and lord knows she was trying. She was trying hard to respect this hellscape of a relationship she just knew Brock loved her and this baby. It was so disheartening to see him falling pray to Greer’s manipulation.

“It’s a big night for DGI and from what I hear the world. DGI shall revolutionize clean energy with the solar panels. Whatever else that is happening I’m not privy to speak on it. I will say Jackson and Dani deserve whatever happens tonight and going forward. However now off the record what can I do for you Greer? Brock my love you look very handsome that suit becomes you. Although I’m partial to your flannel and cowboy hats.” She teased leaning in hugging him as she looked at the swollen bellied girl before her. “Greer pregnancy is agreeing with you, I remember your mother looked just like you. However I have to ask what in the hell do you want? Am I crazy to believe you’d be pleasant for nothing less than altruistic reasons.” Lauren said pleasantly with a perched smile on her face. She despised Greer and wondered how Harvey had anything to do with this succubus. “So what do you want?”

Greer snidely turned her neck to her fiance as she looked at him. “I think your favorite nephew would like to ask you something. Trust me I’m doing this to keep the peace but believe me if you denied the request it wouldn’t have me upset at all. Brock will soon be in Tom Ford and Calvin Klein, or the Banana Republic. He’s upgrading and fortunately he’ll be leaving somethings behind.” She hated the suit. It was fitted but looked made of cheap material. She was trying to get Brock out of cowboy boots and dirty flannel. Her insistence on him looking best in that shit pissed her off. “Brock is evolving, something others never did. I mean isn’t that why you ended up in Atlas Falls? You stayed complacent and my uncle left you. I mean that’s what I heard.” .

Brock tried his best to ignore Greer’s pretentious comments it really wasn’t about the money for him he wanted nothing to do with it. For him it was about being who he always was and that included hard work and earning his way in life, lessons that he had gotten from his parents. He never expected her to hide her wealth but she was going to have to meet him halfway when it came to his son, he wasn’t going to have his son raised in excess and extravagance that wasn’t who he was or what he wanted for him to become. When he saw his aunt he hugged her, of all his aunts she was by far his favorite hell most everyone’s favorite for how outspoken she was and how she could normally read any type of a person or situation something he was pretty sure Lucy had gotten from her. Regardless he wanted Grrer and his aunt to get along, he was going to marry Greer and only hoped that she had come around enough to let them get married at the Pub. He stiffened his back a bit when she mentioned Dani to his aunt as if his aunt was going to give her anything when it came to her daughter after everything that Greer had done. They were both there on Greer’s press pass and because his cousin had invited the entire family for the event and for a moment he wondered if Greer was jealous. Jealous that she wasn’t going to get DGI when she married him, that Chauncey from what he understood wasn’t going to be CEO looking between them he looked at his aunt.

“You know me aunt Lauren I’m not ever going to forget what or where I came from and that includes those flannels and cowboy boots. Despite Greer thinking that I need labels you know that I’m not that way besides I think there is only one person in our family who should take on that role.” Brock said looking over at Greer for a moment and then at his aunt and he meant his cousin. Dani had slipped into her role as a Devonshire wife and frankly it was a little jarring to see. The labels the brands, the confidence was a good thing for her but he only hoped she rode that line finally when it came to the money and who she was. “Listen I know that things have been off between you and Greer since the rehearsal dinner but Greer and I agreed to work through those issues and that misunderstanding when it came to what she said that night about Chauncey. Plus she is having your soon to be great nephew, both of parents are really excited about this and they have come to accept Greer as the woman I love and want to marry. Mom has been pushing back on asking you about the venue so I’m going to.” Brock said taking Greer’s hand in his own as he squeezed it for support. “It would mean a lot to her, my dad and us if you’d let us use the Pub for the wedding and reception. As per tradition something Dani scoffed at or Jackson, Braden and Tamara were married there. My parents were married there and a way for everyone to finally accept Greer into the family.”

Lauren stared at Greer for a few moments as she watched the girl rubbing on her belly and fawning over Brock. Her eyes started to cross with anger as she looked at her. “Exactly when did you get pregnant Greer? I mean was it right after I thought I forced you out of our family? It’s funny to me you still want to abide by our traditions after all you are all about excess. I mean Harvey is an amazing man and you came out so tainted. You have a dark spirit Greer and I have no doubt that you’re in love with my nephew. What I do doubt is you have more desire to be powerful and live a life of luxury. You don’t want me to agree to this do you Greer? You want to have some frivolous lavish party where it’s all grand and perfect. I wouldn’t allow it. Honey I don’t hate you. I don’t at all but I’ll teach you a lesson. You want to be a Fraiser so badly sweetie your wish is my command. Brock, you have my permission to marry her at The Pub. Not only that but I would love to help you plan Brock.” Lauren said seeing Greer squirm and she loved it. The girl was mortified the wedding was going to be at The Pub. Her smile was pleasant but she must of forgot she loved Harvey with all her heart. That meant all the little tricks to hide emotions she knew. She was enraged and Lauren loved it.

She looked at Brock and smiled. “I’ll call your mother and inform her and I’ll get you everything you need. The Fraiser wreath, the flower shop, and I’ll help you to  lead your path.” With all she had she looked at Greer and spoke again. “Being a Fraiser is just as much of a legacy as being a LeClerq or Devonshire. Our power might not come from money or owning a conglomerate but we are beloved in this city and these people. You are walking into a legacy of just as much greatness. You value fame and notoriety but we value love and loyalty. You might not understand what that means but one day I hope you will have the grace and humility to finally know what you are truly marrying into. We are a tight unit and your path to be a part of it will not be easy. You will have to make amends and you’ll have to figure out how to be accepted in this family. I hope you’re ready for a long road my dear.” Lauren said triumphantly.

Greer had absolutely enough. Who did this old woman think she was talking to? Greer LeClerq would never and she meant ever bow or cower to the Fraiser family. She wouldn’t kiss Dani ass so that all of them acted if they cared. Beggars couldn’t be choosy but she wasn’t begging for their love in fact all she wanted was Brock. Well she wanted Brock with some adjustments. He couldn’t continue to live his life as a fireman. It wasn’t suitable for what she wanted for not just herself but his future. Brock was brilliant but they kept him pigeonholed in this good guy role. That wasn’t acceptable. In fact she wasn’t going to allow it. She would transform Brock into the man she needed. If he happened to be a carbon copy of Chauncey eventually he wouldn’t see. After she was done with Brock he’d be her perfect man. She loved him as is but he was so much and he didn’t even know it.

“I understand that the Fraiser’s were one of the first settling families in Atlas Falls. I absolutely understand the prestige and power that comes with being a Fraiser. Don’t underestimate my love and undying loyalty to this man. I am trying to be here. I’m trying to be a wife to the man who changed my life. I would have died in the confines of being Ms. Chauncey Devonshire now the only place I can go is up with the family. As for if I want or don’t want the wedding at The Pub, I’m committed to continuing Brock’s legacy inside of his family. You can spin all the thread you want and say you know me but you don’t know the first thing about me. How far I will go for this man and what I want. I will do what I have to ensure Brock and I are happy and you or the Fraiser clan won’t stop it. You don’t know me Lauren, you know what I’ve shown the world but it’s so much more to me.”

Lauren scoffed as she laughed and shook her head. “I love you Brock so much because you came to see me every day after your favorite little cousin Victoria died. I respect that you have become such a valuable member of this community but I don’t understand how you can look at this woman, pregnant or not, as your equal. She is a menace and not a bit remorseful for any chaos she’s caused. I don’t see this ending good but if this is what you want Brock I will support you. You and your siblings have become just as much my children as my own. I watched you grow up and I just don’t understand this at all.” She said her voice was breaking. “And you. You have convinced yourself that this is some perfect love story and will fix whatever is broken in you. You stand on hallow ground my dear because you will never be fixed. Something is internally broken inside of you and I hate to say and I am sorry Brock but this girl isn’t anything like her mother. Her mother was kind and hopeful. She had love and a pure essence of love oozing out of her. You are a virus to everyone you enter you infect them with your evilness and I pray that my sweet nephew gets the antivirus soon. Before you steal his soul.” Lauren said as she paused. “I should be leaving.”

Greer snatched Lauren’s hand and looked at her dead in the eyes as she noticed people beginning to stare. “You are a jealous, evil, mean woman. You are sadly mistaken if you think that I’m somehow hurting him. Changing him into anything but the best form of my fiance. You are mad because a LeClerq finally did what you couldn’t. I snagged a Fraiser with no problems. No babies in the way, and no broken promise to my uncle. You are not a good person and you just sit here and judge me. You started this at my engagement party, you have continued it right now. Well this is what you wanted Lauren. No you don’t get to silently judge me and whisper your nastiness. We will do this now. You wanted my uncle and that is where this stems from. You are jealous that Walter and Brenda have finally claimed their grand love story but you are stuck with an obsolete novelist. They are together and you are alone with someone who doesn’t matter because he isn’t my uncle is he? You have lusted, lied, and manipulated my uncle for years. You don’t get to play martyr and you absolutely don’t get to judge me. You are mad because I’m the LeClerq marrying into the family and you will always be secondary to every man who you love. You are miserable because Victoria died and that you are bitter you stayed in a marriage but I refuse to let you continue to harass me because you have nothing good in your life but feasting off your children’s happiness.”

Lauren didn’t know what took over her but before she knew it she had backhanded Greer and she saw the woman fly into Brock’s arms. Covering her mouth Lauren looked at Greer and paused. At first she was going to run away but instead she stood her ground. “You don’t deserve Brock and you will never be married into the Fraiser family. Not if I have anything to say about it.” Lauren walked away leaving Greer standing there shaken in Brock’s arms.

Brock watched the entire conversation unfold as if it was in slow motion that his aunt would come around with the Pub and she did and then it derailed quickly into more insults being thrown around. He was almost drained from it from trying to please his aunts and cousins, his own siblings the only people that seemed to be happy that he was marrying Greer were his parents. Now that his aunt had agreed to let them use the Pub he almost wanted to snort at her at how absurd everyone would be about it. Then Greer stated to bite back about how she wanted to fit in and be a part of his family and he had to wonder if she was in fact genuine about actually wanting to be part of that or not. Part of Greer was so pretentious and now that they had the venue how over the top was she going to want their wedding to be? She was rich and full of excess and that wasn’t something he wanted to expose his children too or even really himself and his aunt was right about that Fraisers were just built different, wired different. They valued things like family, above everything else which included greed and prestige. He vaguely knew about his Aunt’s past with a man named Harvey he had heard his mother and her discussing it. He had been simply shocked when she reacted like she did to Greer’s comments and backhanded her wrapping his arms around Greer and looking at his aunt in horror. He was still a bit in shell shock as he watched his aunt storm away and then held Greer even tighter.

‘We’ll figure this out. I have no idea what came over her just now to hit you like that. I’ll speak to my parents about it and maybe we can have the wedding somewhere else.” Brock said quietly shaking a little on his own was his aunt losing it? Her entire family had been plagued by mental illness it was definitely on the Cummings side but he’d never seen her physically react like she had to someone, especially Greer and one who was pregnant at that.


Ronan had been looking forward to this finally after years he wasn’t just the man in the streets as a legitimate business partner with DGI he had gotten an invite. He had taken Gia on his arm for the evening she was afterall carrying his child and he was eventually going to do the right thing, once he had an answer from Braden Fraiser of course. He wanted all his boxes checked, his breath had been taken when he saw Brooke arrive with Atticus to the point that he hoped Gia didn’t see it and then came an even bigger shock. Dru Price on the arm of Charles’s son leaving little to nothing to the imagination with her gown and choice of attire most every males eyes in the room or their dicks had sprung to attention that is except for the gay ones. He wasn’t tied to Dru in anyway shape or form they had slept together a few times but he was shocked and he was pretty sure that Gia had caught onto that reaction from him towards her. If he wasn’t careful she could dig and find out about his fling with the very lovely red head on the other side of the room. Taking his eyes off Dru he turned to the bartender ordering a scotch on the rocks and tapping his fingers on the counter as he saw Charles discreetly arrive.

“Ah Mr. Hessington I heard a rumor that you would be here. Quite the change of scenery and optics from Harrisburg or Pittsburgh. Rumor has it that Scottswood has you to partially thank for those solar panels.” Ronan said smoothly, it honestly saved him a trip up to Harrisbugh to speak to Charles to swing a few more agents his way with the dealing in the streets, the heat had gotten a bit too much lately. They had a mutual agreement on this side of the state he made sure that certain areas of Scottswood got their fixes with illegal fire arms and drugs, leading to chaos and voting in the district that normally swayed to Charles favor. However ever since Yasmine was set free and Walter became mayor there had been a slight decline in the demand for supply and he couldn’t afford that if he wanted to expand. “Would you and your boys like to come to the club later? I can have a few of the girls waiting, I do remember something about Mercedes and Lex, I’m sure I can lure her back for an evening if needed. I’m actually glad that I ran into you, we seem to be having a problem with demand recently. You backing Walter Fraiser seemed to have backfired a bit he’s simply pushing for change to fast.”

Charles at first looked around the room to see if anyone was paying attention as the crowd was beginning to form for the big announcement. Everyone knew it was either Chauncey or Jackson he’d much rather it be Chauncey he was morally ambiguous. Which appealed to what he eventually wanted to do. He needed enough money to buy himself out of the B-Agency and go legit. It had been years of his work politically and behind the scenes that made him one of the richest politicians in America. He’d gotten into the oldest profession by accident and then it became a business. After he took down a pimp on the west side of Philly. His deputy mayor at the time was his partner and then it seemed to grow. The more influential men the better. Kings, heirs, socialites, and eventually Hollywood all used the B-Agency. He’d spent a lifetime with their secrets in his back pocket and here he was with one of his associates who seemed to understand that power didn’t just come from the right side of the law but the wrong as well. Folding his hands he looked at Ronan.

“Bold you coming to speak with me in public. You know the rules but I guess tonight I can make an exception. After all, your father was truly a dear friend to me. His loss seems to be Gia Falcone’s gain, you know I’ve been a friend of her family as well.” He said never even looking at Ronan. “Tell me you think I can stop a project that I can approve? You want me to slow it down? This revitalization is exactly what Atlas Falls needs and what I need for Anderson. So you think the drugs are more important to me than ensuring my legacy is in place. To my benefit Anderson thinks with his dick and he’ll screw up and once he does.” He paused as a brilliant plan crossed his mind. “Well how about this I can stall the project if you do me a favor. Something that will ensure my legacy is solidified. So quid pro quo? You do something for me and I do something for you.”

Ronan took a sip of his drink looking at Charles; his father had always worked with whoever was in charge of the state. They always seemed to have an agreement and it wasn’t like politicians were exempt form the seedy shit he was into in fact he thought they craved it. There were times that Charles’ own children would reach out to one of his many people for a score every now and then and the women well it wasn’t like he didn’t know all their secrets. Except the youngest which was a bit perplexing or his siblings kept a good eye on little brother regardless they flocked. Politicians, socialites looking for a thrill it was how Jackson came to be hooked as well and then the run of your mill people in Scottswood. The difference between them two had money to make shit go away and the others didn’t and he liked it that way it was how his world worked. It kept his pockets lined, kept his power in play and when he needed the right favors that was where he could turn. To be fair Charles and his predecessors had always been open to helping him at a state and federal level. He looked at Gia across the room avoiding contact looming towards the other woman in the revealing dress pretty sure he’d need a fuck later if he did and turned his complete attention to Charles.

“Tonight we are two legitimate businessmen sharing a drink at the bar together while our mutual business partners are in attendance. I think you’re heavily connected to Walter and his entire family, I think you know exactly how to make him do what you want and trust me you do want to play nice tonight of course. Get the cameras flashing, get that feel good story of doing something for those poor voters. But after you know those panels make it to those houses it just tumbles down for you from there.” Ronan said not bothering to look at Charles as he spoke if the panels went in that meant people could start climbing out of holes and dreaming messing supply went down. People started to get clean and sober and then they started to wise up. Then they started to think for themselves and not what powerful men and women were telling them. He mulled over doing Charles a favor if the price was right he wasn’t opposed to the idea itself. “I think we can agree that we’ve always been pleasant to each other and you are close to Gia’s family as well. I think the parameters of our arrangement would be dependent on what you need done.”

Charles always admired Ronan’s grit he wasn’t afraid of him and that should make his father proud. Unlike Lex who was a constant disappointment. His eldest child thought with his dick more than his head. Not to say Charles could blame him the woman was ravishing and would be perfect for his B-Agency. He however thought about the scandal she was causing at this very moment and well it would be dumb to even approach her. Folding his hands he thought about snatching her he was sure she’d go for high money in Abu Dhabi or maybe even Ibiza. His urge to take what he wanted was strong; he however knew girls like her. She was absolutely trouble and that wasn’t what he needed for the agency. He needed discretion. Taking a sip of his drink he looked at Ronan and smiled. “Well I think we both can have something mutually beneficial to us both. I can retain the influence that I’ve worked very hard to have. My family deserves to continue to thrive politically and I’ve had this plan for a long time. To make one of my children a political superstar. To have them look death and mayhem in the eye and take reigns.”

Swirling his drink in his hand he looked at Ronan. “I want him dead.” Charles head nodded to Ronan.

Ronan had expected a lot of things from Charles Hessington over the years but ordering a hit in the middle of a social function certainly was not it, he looked across the room at Anderson Kincaid, Brooke’s brother. Surely the man was simply making a poor joke due to Anderson’s roaming eye because there was no way in hell he was killing Brooke’s brother. Normally he wouldn’t be opposed to taking someone out that was in his way or that of his business, but Anderson? Brooke would be devastated and there was no way he could put her through that especially with Hunter behind bars he wasn’t sure he would ever be able to look at her again and the thought of killing her brother made him physically ill. To distract himself from the proposal he simply brought his drink to his lips again and taking a sip of the liquid Charles had to know that he and Brooke had a relationship at one point. There were certain lines that he refused to cross killing the brother of the woman that he loved was one of them, he may of let Brooke go for her own happiness and own good but that didn’t erase what he felt for her. He most certainly wasn’t going to do this if in fact Charles was serious.

“You want me to kill Anderson Kincaid? Are you mad surely you have had too much to drink Charles. Political blood on your doorstep by killing the man you have declared your successful people always said you have no sense of humor and clearly they are correct.” Ronan said draining the glass of the drink and then hearing the glass clink with the ice while he placed it back down and motioned for a refill. Yes he wanted the solar panels stalled for his own gain and his own priorities but not at the expense of Brooke’s brother nor at his life. The ramifications on Charles alone would be awful not to mention the swift action that would come with the police towards him and anyone else that accepted the job. “Now be serious Charles what can I do for you.” Ronan said watching Gia looking at them both and hoping she didn’t make her way towards them the last thing he needed was her coming over and getting upset about Dru or worse sticking her nose into business with Charles.

“Have I ever been known to make idle threats? Or ask anything from you that was a joke? Ronan that boys death will lead to my family’s accession further to the top. Having him be assassinated and Whitney swooping in and I have it all figured out in my head. Now we can go on about this but Michael wouldn’t have blinked at my ask Ronan. So tell me why are you hesitating is it because a certain princess or queen to be used to be your love? Don’t get me wrong I understand that this is a lot but Anderson death is what will get Whitney in the white house and eventually it will get my grandchildren into spaces that nobody will see coming. I see power and I think you should see the same thing. Having me in your corner when my daughter is first female president of the united states well think of your empire. People believe the mob is dead but I know that it’s changed such as your alliance with Kelly O’Connor and Vladmir Stavridis. You brokered peace between them and the west coast families as well. It took blood shed and I’m telling you Anderson is key.”

Charles looked at Ronan knowing he had him on the ropes. “So tell me why this is unthinkable. The Kennedy’s became immortalized during the assassination of the President. Well as will the Hessington’s and Whitney will come out of this as a superstar. I have no doubt in that and you will be our greatest ally now help me make my dream come true and I’ll help your business. In fact I can make this case go away for you Ronan just think on what I’m asking. It’s not like you have a chance in hell with Brooke Kincaid again. She’s a Queen and untouchable and incandescent. You’ll never have her again and she doesn’t match your world. She’s a precious jewel and I hope you’re over losing her because if she’s the reason you’re reluctant then certain liberties I give you may be restricted. Plus I’ll just go to someone else. Maybe Gia has someone who can help me. You know I’ve known her family just as long as yours.” Charles said, standing up patting Ronan’s shoulders. As the whiskey coated his throat he sat down an empty glass. It never burned so good. “I trust you’ll do the correct thing.”

Ronan looked at Charles and considered his words in truth Charles could make his life quite unpleasant. He could easily male the police turn on him with a whim the State Attorney General would no longer be in his pocket. As much as he wanted the protection and the perks that Charles could offer him he was pretty sure he couldn’t live with himself if he was going down the road that Charles was asking. There was still a part of him that would always love and care for Brooke and he was sure there was no coming back from killing her brother. He would take on the wrath of whatever Charles threw at him even if it jeopardized everything with the business and with Gia if he said no he had no other choice. He was not a cruel man normally and there was a part of him that still had a heart, it wasn’t completely black. He may of did things in the streets executing Benny Ruzio came to mind, or hoe he had turned on Kendrick with the police that were on his payroll another, various associates that went missing it was business it had to be done. But killing Brooke’s brother wasn’t in his wheelhouse he looked over at Charles bringing his own glass to his lips to drain it as he saw Gia approaching them, he supposed Charles would ask her or there would be someone else that he would go to, the blood wouldn’t be on his hands.

“I have let Ms. Kincaid go to be happy and live the life that she was always meant to live, that being said I will politely decline your offer. I know what that can mean for me and our business but I do still have a conscience when it comes to my morals. I have no beef with the Kincaid’s at the moment and if you want to mrder for hire someone I have a list of names that I can refer that job out to for you.” Ronan said looking at Charles’ infuriated face as he spoke, clearly he would be out for him for a little bit no one rejected Charles that had always been clear when it came hsi side of the business. But he knew a fair share about Charles’ secrets as well Maggie being one since she came to strip at the club women liked to talk and well the man before him was hardly the pillar he liked to show. “Now you can choose to attack me if you would like with the business but you and I both know a few little words from me to a few local detectives could blow up your little operation. Loose lips talk at night, especially the lips of that brunette your son use dot fuck and then stripped for me. Now if you will excuse me I really do need to speak to Lowell about the casino.” Ronan said placing his glass down and patting Charles on his shoulder before we walked into the crowd wondering if he was really prepared for a dance with another devil.

Charles swirled his drink in his hand as he watched Ronan leaving the bar. He would regret betraying him. He knew Gia would do it for a favor. Or he’d call another favor in from someone but Anderson death would be the catalyst for eventually pushing the Hessington’s into power that is truly unimaginable. Once he’d look at this as a moment where they’d become enemies but he wasn’t foolish. This was a long game and because of this move Charles knew Ronan would eventually need to be handled. Pulling out his phone he walked to the back of the room. “Hello, I need everything you have on Ronan Madden and Gia Falcone. I mean everything.”

  1. Jon is getting ready to leave the party where Merci and Devin bump into him asking if he has seen Skye and he tells her no. Merci tells him that she saw her storm out of the party and Jon asks why should he care and Merci and Devin lay into him pointing out the entire thing with Miles has went to his head. Merci tells him he is an idiot if he can’t see Skye is deathly afraid of Charles and then says maybe the woman he is fucking should have kept her mouth closed and Jon is horrified realizing that Maggie told Skye about them hooking up.

Jon was told not to lock up Lowell quite yet that they needed more information before they charged Lowell for Dimitri Kavanaugh’s murder. He saw her earlier and to be honest he truly needed to talk to Skye. He wanted to tell her he was sorry and that he needed to speak to her. To explain he didn’t agree with her choice but he understood. As he walked through the party he didn’t see her nor did he see her outside of the event. It was strange because earlier when he was speaking with Lowell he saw her walking with Merci. As he spotted Merci and Devin twirling off the dance floor he walked up and approached them. It was good to see Devin happy if anyone deserved it, it was Devin. Especially considering that KC came back from the grave and basically snatched his life back and Devin was left in the cold. Well that wasn’t how it exactly happened because Merci was waiting in the wings. As he raised his arm to wave at them he could tell Merci wasn’t having it.

“Hey you two looked good out there.” He said trying to break the ice. “Listen I just came back from treatment.” Jon knew this was a strategic move because Merci wouldn’t be so angry with him. “I went in because I didn’t recognize myself after what happened with the women at the police station. I didn’t like myself at all.” Jon said looking at them. “How I was doing Skye, Merci wasn’t right and I understand if you wouldn’t want us to talk but I don’t feel good and this isn’t about my ego. It’s about finally listening to what she has been saying to me. I need to let her know that I care about her more than the woman that carried my baby. That gave away my baby, I think Skye might be the love of my life. I’ve messed up so much but I gotta fix that right now and if you two could help me find her I’d appreciate this.”

Merci looked at Jon and her face flushed if Skye heard this she would melt. If she kept them apart it would be an even bigger tragedy. Sometimes she felt they did love each other too much and they burned too close to the sun. That was enough for her and clearly she also knew Jon was horrible to Skye. She just had a discussion about it and hearing her best friend so hurt by all this killed her. She also knew it wasn’t her place to be judge and executioner. Licking her lips she stepped up. “Maggie, and all these other girls? Or so Maggie is saying. I’m not going to sit back and listen to her crying over your whack ass. I’m not playing we used to beat up boys and I’ll beat your ass if you ever make her feel like that again. I swear to you!” Merci said not even looking at Jon. “I have had to scrape by every damn thing I’ve had. She had it even worse because she knows her family and they just didn’t want her. You won’t continue to make her feel unloved and unwanted. I assure you of that so if you are here to grovel I’m here for it.”

Looking at Devin she saw him smirking. “She’s my sister and blood be damned and I’m going to stand my ground. I’m watching you Jon like a hawk and I will help you find her and be nosy when it’s time to hear you grovel. Crawl through glass and whatever analogy I can think of at the moment. You deserve to lose her and if it happens you deserve it.” Merci took Devin’s arm and looked at Jon. “Well we aren’t going to find her looking at each other let’s go.” Waving her other free arm to help Jon. “Go you oaf!” She said charging free looking around the room.

Devin was actually really proud of Jon for admitting he was wrong or at least that he wasn’t at his best. The police station with all of the women involved with Dimitri proved that. For a second he saw a glimpse of the Jon he knew, the compassionate man that cared about people and the community, even a woman that had done him wrong like Skye. He had been enjoying dancing with his fiancé around the party admiring how well the ball looked a mix of elegance and futuristic designs. His eyes scanned the room for Skye and he didn’t see her anywhere. Maybe she had gone home for the evening. He remembered that Merci mentioned that she was somewhat timid earlier; hell he’d venture to mean that she meant scared of something but Merci hadn’t outright said that. He looked at Jon and then looked over at Merci. He wasn’t going to cause a scene at her event or party but out of the corner of his eye he could have sworn he saw Maggie and wondered if she and Skye had exchanged words or not. He knew Jon had been with Maggie hell half the police station knew and it wasn’t like Maggie didn’t have her fucking run-ins with the police and her line of work.

“Listen, I think we are all glad that you have at least come to your senses.  But you’re seriously gonna drag Skye back into more crap with you and Maggie Thorpe to have her calling Merci about it in the middle of the night. I’m saying no. You can go about having your life Jon no-one is saying you can’t but I can’t see Merci like that again it destroys her over and over.” Devin said they were partners unless he or Jon asked for a reassignment and had been through a ton of shit together. But Merci was the love of his life and seeing and hearing her upset and crying about her sister broke his damned heart every time.  When it came to Skye being the love of Jon’s life he was a bit shocked at the confession if he was honest or maybe he was deep down happy about it, if Skye had gotten her head out of drugs back then he could have seen her with a guy like Jon hell he could have seen Jon happy with someone that actually loved and wanted him besides chasing after Dani for years. He knew that Cassie was no good for him either she was her own damned headache. “I don’t see her anywhere I think the last place I saw her was at the bar when I spotted you maybe they know where she wandered off too.” Devin finished looking at Jon and then over at Merci Skye certainly couldn’t have gone far unless she already had left and then Jon’s best bet was to head back to his house and sort out his shit.

Jon looked at his best friend and he was level. He was happy that he seemed to recognize him being himself again. Even though he felt like shit because if Maggie had rubbed this in Skye’s face his chance of getting her back just dropped drastically. It served him right. He was angry with her and wanted to punish her but if Skye wanted she could give him the ultimate punishment. She could leave him alone for real and with nothing. No love,no child and no happiness. That scared him most. What he had done had pushed away his family and friends so far that it wasn’t going his way. He knew he’d have to talk to his therapist. Why would Maggie act if they were something more than casual sex? Why would she even approach Skye? That broke his heart he knew that she was done with him. He deserved it and somehow he prayed that Skye could see he was lashing out. Sex with her was so toxic and intoxicating all at once. Then the thing with Maggie just happened? She was a vulture and she was exactly what he didn’t need.

“Devin, I honestly know what I’ve done. But you understand that woman is the love of my life? I messed up big time and didn’t take accountability for my faults in our downfall. I do know this I love Skye and I need and have to fix this. As a man I’m not the person I have been these last few weeks. Believe me when I say that. Merci I promise and to you Devin I promise I’m not here to hurt her anymore. I want to fix this and maybe we can move forward or maybe we can’t but I’ll be the one the says I didn’t give up. I kept fighting. I chased behind a woman for my adult life and no one understands me but Skye. She has secrets and was one of the few people I talked about my time in Iraq. I know I have a lot to fix Merci but I never had a home in here.” He pointed to his head. “I never had peace but for the first time in a long time it clicked, Skye isn’t the problem. I’m the problem because I made a situation for her not to be able to say what she was feeling and how alone she truly must feel being the villain in everyone’s narrative. I see Merci okay? Please don’t bash me.” Jon said honestly.

Merci listened to him and he sounded like a sad puppy yapping for love and attention. She instantly looked into those eyes and felt her ice melting. Poor Skye and Jon the way Merci saw it was that they were more tragic than even they knew. It was like a twisted Romeo & Juliet. She touched her heart as she felt something was off. Skye didn’t tell her she was leaving and she instantly felt her stomach clenching. As her eyes accessed the swirl of the room for some reason this felt serious. She didn’t know why but Skye deserved to hear Jon’s declaration. Walking to the bar she shook her head as she looked at Devin and Jon standing looking lost. She gulped as she opened her purse and pulled out her purse pulling out a walkie talkie. “I need eyes on Skye Morgan. Please run the cameras and see if she’s left the building.” She turned to the men. “What since the wedding I’m up on security and I’m the party planner no way I should be the last to know anything. Follow me.”

Merci walked down the hallways of the mansion and into a private security room in the back where cameras were set up. Turning to the boys she looked at them. “Well what are you two doing? Go find her because you have free reign. If my parties go out of sync it’ll always be spinning in my axis now. I know what to look for but so do you, so tell me what you find.” Stepping back she looked at people running through footage. “Go ahead, do the wonder twin’s cop thing.”

Devin knew that Merci was a bit over the top sometimes it was one of the qualities that he found most attractive in her and it was no different when she insisted on security footage being pulled up. All it would have taken was him and Jon to ask a few questions in the room, but that might distract from the party and he followed Merci and Jon into the room, this was much faster. He watched them find Skye and Merci at the bar and honestly Skye looked uneasy was a good word for it almost nervous. He had already known what they were talking about Skye wanted to leave town Merci had told him, he watched Merci walk to him on the tape kept his eyes on the screen. Maggie had walked up to her he could tell the conversation was less than pleasant, and looked over at Jon yeah Maggie bragged about that shit, Skey was clearly upset and then he watched in horror as Maggie poured her glass of champagne all over Skye’s dress, intentionally. He watched as Skye left the room wondering why she cast a glance at Maggie and then at Charles while the camera’s followed her to the bathrooms. A few seconds later he saw Cassie go on and wondered if Jon regretted setting that into motion as well, Montgomery’s could be blood thirsty. A few minutes later Cassie walked back out and to the party and then he saw Skye leave turn down the hallway and the camera cut out.

“So where did she go from there?” Devin asked looking at the security guards for a moment almost like they didn’t want to tell them shit about why there were no cameras there. Skye had been clearly upset when she went into the bathroom and almost worse when she came out and he looked at them both. “Listen I don’t care what the hallway was or isn’t used for we just really need to find my fiances sister right now.” Devin said figuring that what in the hell he could play good cop bad cop if needed.

“Those hallways don’t have cameras as per Mr. Devonshire they led towards a private entrance where he used to bring in his mistresses. Years ago the Mrs. wanted to have camera put in and he refused, his children used that same hallway for various lovers and coming and out undetected.” One of the portly older guards said looking at the police knowing that he had to give them a bone. “Ms. Morgan would frequent that at times in her past here, sometimes it lead her to the guest house and pool.”

Jon looked at Devin. “Merci stay here? If you see her you can call Devin? Right?” He said looking at his partner.

“No way in hell. I have my people looking on surveillance so if Skye turns up we will be the first ones contacted. But unlike you two nerds I actually partied here. The Devonshire’s weren’t gross to me growing up. They were like the epitome of money so I wanted to be around and I was. I slept with a few rich guys and.” She paused looking at Devin’s face. “What I mean is when I was juvenile Jackson and Max used to take the keys to the poolhouse and the private quarters. I’ve been there and I’m assuming yout two haven’t. So let’s go.”

He knew better than to argue. “I wasn’t a nerd by the way. I was an athlete and I was pretty good at baseball. I was fairly popular. I just didn’t like the Devonshire’s and the party scene. It wasn’t my scene.” Jon said, gritting his teeth as he followed Merci and looked at Devin. “How do you put up with this little woman?”


Standing inside of this restaurant brought back so many lonely and painful memories. He got to play hero, he got to be the perfect dad, and she was immortalized in memories. Gloria Delacroix Beecher stood in the middle of La Callie. She bought out the entire restaurant tonight. Only staff was the chef and her very own waiter. She couldn’t afford anyone seeing her. Being in Atlas Falls felt strange. It was comforting but she was also struck with the feeling of emptiness. Seeing Mason’s and Selina’s pictures all over the back wall. It showed how they grew and she wasn’t there. He was staring at her from that portrait Jamal placed in the center of the dining room. She watched Jeremiah cutting his cajun steak and eating. How could he eat? Tonight was going to shape what moves they made. How soon she would be revealing herself to her family again. She wanted to hug Selina so deeply. Her daughter was searching for answers and that meant she was close to the truth. Those diaries were planted there a long time ago and she prayed that this day would happen. “Enough with the eating Jeremiah. I don’t have time to wonder anymore whomever he appoints B.A Energy has to be in DGI or else all our schemes are for nothing. Now I’m not going to tell you how to do it but that Hassan girl is the key right now. What she does hinges everything, getting her in our back pocket we have the ball in our court.” Gloria said looking at her husband and then at Tony who sat behind him as a presence looming over.

She saw him looking annoyed at her demands. “I gave up Selina and Mason for your ass.” Placing her hand on her hip. Her long shanglese twist were pinned up in a bun with a few tendrils of curls dangling to frame her strong and angular face. Storming to her husband. “I have sat in the darkness for over twenty years bore another damn baby for you. Gave you the power I so damn desperately wanted and played like I was your sickly wife behind the scenes. It migraine to continue to play like I’m not what took B.A. Energy to the top of our field in Africa, Europe and North America. You know what I am and what I can do. I gave up Gloria for you and became Ms. Beecher. I am here to reclaim it all and our love should be why you put that damn fork down motherfucker. That drive and plan to annihilate our enemies together and be a team even when I had to leave my most precious jewels. I used my smarts and resources to keep us beyond wealthy and afloat so today is the start of me getting my children back. So you should now place that damn knife down. You see Mason and Selina are the highest priorities to me. Our son has lived with both parents I didn’t come back here for nothing. He didn’t have my back and he didn’t see my ambition but you did. You do and I won’t forget that Jeremiah but I won’t wait any longer to claim my children so get yo ass up and go lead Selina to B.A. Energy faster. Figure it out because God dammit if I have to reveal myself I’m setting this whole motherfucker ablaze.” Wearing a leather corset McQueen gown, Christian Louboutin leather pumps, and a African kente cloth wrap that draped to the floor. “Now I have to ask because I want to make this crystal clear. Do we have a problem?”

Jeremiah had been enjoying the steak before him. If there was anything that Tony Delacroix was, it was being a good chef. The cajun steak was cooked to perfection and he listened to Gloria going on and on about everything when the time was right he wanted her to be back in town not before. He looked at his watch knowing that he needed to make an appearance soon at the Summit towards the end and knew very well what was at stake when it came to everything, Natasha was the key for not while Pierre played their other little card. That had fallen right into their lap and he picked up his fork taking another bite as Gloria drowned on and on about everything she had sacrificed for them and almost snorted at her he had as well, he turned his back on his son for her and walked the fuck away. “I am aware that I need to go speak to Ms. Hassan this evening and simply sway her mind that neither Jackson nor Chauncey are to be trusted with anything involving the little she has left in SandStar while you lay low my dear like the plan states. You and I both know that Lowell’s greatest mistake was and always has been his ego it goes the same for his eldest or didn’t Pierre’s little brat expose that already he already failed once and yet you keep him tagging along like a puppy. That or he’s just naive.” He said taking a sip of his wine as he looked at her and then at Tony’s portrait.

“You didn’t have to give them up you simply just did because you and I both know that Tony had you nailed to a fucking wall because you liked to ride me long and hard. The only way out was to fake your death a small sacrifice I would think for everything that we did and became together.” Jeremiah said looking at her evenly she was a good mother most of the time to Selina and Mason, honestly for a while he hoped that both of them were his children in the fleeting moments of their affair over the years but they weren’t. She was right they did have their son and Tony had his other with that fucking doctor that she despised and stalked. “You seem to have a lot of faith that Selina and Mason are going to welcome you back into your life with open arms gleaming and beaming at you. From what I hear both have done fine without you and of course the influence of Tony, Jackie and Lowell behind them their loyalty will always be to DGI and what Lowell denied you all those years ago. You still seem to think that making a big splash is the best move for you to come back that will backfire and you and I both know it, yet you insist. The only other problem I have right now is why are you dragging Pierre into this scheme and letting him pull more strings he failed once with Greer, who need I remind you got Chauncey wrapped around her finger and then lost him when she was too in love. What makes you think him playing puppetmaster this time will be different?”

As she twisted her long braided hair in her finger. Picking up an asparagus spear from his plate she took a bite and pushed the plate off the table. “I trust Pierre because we both have our own vested interest in how this turns out. As for my children they will follow their mother after all I’m the one thing they never had. Tony sold his soul to Lowell and I never forgot where we came from. I never forgot that I was a black woman who wanted it all and almost had it. Now Selina and Mason have been taught to play nice and be good old negros when I comes to the Devonshire’s I personally feel so much differently. They benefited from my hard work, Walter’s and Pierre’s. So don’t question my intentions with Pierre LeClerq. I know him well enough to know that what we have planned will work and I know what my damn kids made of. I know that they are going to special for world, fuck Atlas Falls. They just need to see they are more than the Delacroix but they also don’t know they are Marshall’s. Our family marched with Malcolm and Martin. The power they have beyond DGI and they’ll soon understand that. But understand this isn’t your favorite part of my plan for me working with another man. You’ve always been jealous but Tony nor no other man could compare to you Jeremiah.” Gloria walked to Tony mural.

“Get yo ass up and get to that party.” Her voice cracked as she looked at him. “I got rid of his ass, didn’t I? I am ready to do so much more for my children. I left them for us and I selfishly now understand that it wasn’t a mistake but it wasn’t the smartest move. I left my babies and I thought it was for the best back then.” She shook her head. “I keep thinking if I could have done something differently where would Selina and Mason be. I keep thinking it’s my fault they’ve not met the greatness I know they could be. It’s my fault they have felt different in a world they weren’t equipped to be involved in. A world that don’t welcome our black asses so I think it’s best you get up and set everything into motion because I can’t. I can’t make this go faster because I’m not in play but soon you going to have to take me off the shelf. Once you do I’m going to set this fucking city ablaze.” Turn around she looked at Tony’s face. “He knew that’s why his punk ass left the party.”


Tony looked up in the office towards the clock fifteen minutes to midnight and that meant that he could head out to make final rounds on the last of the tables and then help with the cleanup. He would be home by one thirty at the latest, Ophelia would be asleep. He would rest and check the calendar. He also had the next two days off along with Ophelia, which was something she had insisted on when they remarried and so far it was going well. The first time their schedules never worked she was at the hospital at odd hours he of course ran the restaurant, home for the children and often had opposite days off, this time would be different. He made a mental note that of course his seus chef Paul could run the restaurant with his hands tied if needed and he was always on call for emergencies. He was looking forward to their cruise next month the first time in years they would be taking time off to go travel the Caribbean for fourteen days and thirteen nights a second honeymoon. They had pushed it off for a few months due to everything with Dimitri at the wedding and how affected Selina they wanted to make sure she was okay before they left. Now that he felt comfortable with her state of mind and who she was going to be going forward it felt right.

Getting up from behind his desk he walked out the door to the ambiance of low candle lights in the dining room before casting small shadows as he walked down the stairs of the back entrance. He greeted Naomi, one of the waitresses for the count of who was still there for the evening and he was informed a woman at the best table in one of the private rooms was there that was all. He informed Naomi and the rest could go as he walked to the kitchen to pick up the woman’s order. He let the rest of the staff go as well. There was no reason for all of them to stay for one guest and he carried the food out walking down the hallway towards the room. “Your entree madam.” Tony said looking at the woman who was smoking a cigarette and had a large brimmed hat on her head something he found slightly odd given the small open flame on the table with the candles. “I might want to recommend that you take your hat off it could become quite the fire hazard and would you like a refill on your drink. We of course are happy to serve you but it is quite late and we are closed.” Tony said grabbing the wine that was on the waiting tray in case she said yes.

Gloria looked at Tony sending everyone home and for a brief moment she felt years of pain crashing on her. She faked her damn death to get away from the crushing weight of disappointment he placed on her life. She wasn’t sad but enraged at this very moment. He was going to take her children from her and disgrace her in the media. That wasn’t going to happen. What was worse she allowed her love for Jeremiah to blind her. She used her love as a reason to not be a mother until she was ready. By the time she had her last son she was equipped to handle motherhood. They didn’t talk about postpartum depression back then. How sometimes you just didn’t connect with a child and she loved Selina and Mason but she wanted her career more. She wanted a chance to be more than the little black girl. She wanted her own dynasty and she was well on her way when she fell on the sword of Tony and the Devonshire’s.

“Another glass.” She said in the most sultry voice she could muster. La Callie had changed so much but remained the same. As she removed the hat her long luscious inches of hair fell. Selina didn’t think she got that shit from Tony nappy head ass. As she looked up at her ex-husband. “What’s the matter Tony a ghost got your tongue?” Taking a puff of her cigarette which was laced with marijauna she blew a ring out of her mouth. “I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I got the answers but I wonder if you want the answers the truth sometimes stings more than the lies you’ve been feeding yourself. Ophelia? Really a latin bitch Tony? You could’ve found a sista.” Taking the wine bottle from the tray she poured herself some more. “Sit down motherfucker, it’s not many times your ex-wife comes back from the dead.”

Tony could have swore that he knew the sound of that voice when the woman opened her mouth, but that simply wasn’t possible she was gone. He had picked out the casket with Lowell by his side when Gloria died, so much had happened in that time period that she was sick funds had went missing, Pierre had went to prison. He was pretty sure that Gloria had helped arrange for Pierre’s downfall or she had encouraged him to get creative with the DGI numbers for accounting, after all the more they paid in taxes the less there was for the Devonshire’s and themselves she had stated so many times. He had filled the glass as the woman removed her hat and he simply gripped the table in fucking shock almost dropping the glass in his hands, unable to save it as it crashed on the floor splintering into a pieces that just splattered. He felt like his legs were going out as he stumbled into the seat across from her and looked over at the woman that he thought was dead. Her bite was clearly still there and even in death she refused to let him fucking be insulting him left and right out of instinct and to make sure that he wasn’t high or hallucinating he reached out touching her finger before jolting his hand back when it was warm.

“What the fuck is going on! You’re dead I watched you die at the hospital I was there then the doctor said it was time and Selina was crying at your bedside and I stepped out when they turned off the machine.” Tony said his mind swirling with thoughts about how this was actually happening, she had stage four cancer that was what her doctor said inoperable she had spent the last months of her life at home tied up to machines and when it was time she was laying in bed. Hooked up to that machine and he had brought Selina in to see her and say her goodbyes he wondered if she even remembered that time Mason was still a toddler. “How are you still alive and breathing this isn’t possible.” Tony said his voice lowering wondering if he was talking to himself or more her at this rate who in the hell was she to judge the fact he married Ophelia after she died and they had Jamal. He was never going to forget all the years he put up with her shit at DGI and Jeremiah. “Better Ophelia than another sista like you that I wouldn’t need in my fucking life. Where is your little boy toy?” He sneered back after the shock had wore off.

“Oh my husband?” She said, smirking, twisting her wedding ring as she looked at Tony’s shocked face. “Does this make Jamal and my baby boy bastards? I mean since I wasn’t dead and all. Let’s be real Tony you saw what you needed to and don’t forget that. I should’ve gotten a damn Oscar for dying cancer patient. It killed me so to scar my little girl but I did what needed to be done. I had cancer but I was in remission when I died.” Using air quotes on the word died. Pausing she saw him trying to stand up to her and she knew she could choose any wall and push him into it. “You were about to take my children and I hate to say it. I wouldn’t be on my Michelle Obama shit if that would have had that happen. I’ve traveled the world making money, making power, and getting influence. Tony I’m coming back real soon and when I do I’m going to expose all of our dirty secrets. I’m going to tell our children everything on why I had to leave. Back then a woman’s ambition could be used against them. Now it’s my time and I’m going for the gusto.” She leaned back and slurped the rest of her wine.

“You need to update your wine list, I was mortified. Look at you cooking in the kitchen and yes mastering Lowell still. I wanted power, and influence for the black couple and you wanted some soggy ass fried chicken.” Taking a bite out of her chicken. “You should of used my recipe it don’t taste the same. Tony do you think you’re going to be father of the year when I paint you into the portrait I am? Abusive, violent, angry and bitter that I found a real man. I’m not going to do this with you anymore baby. I’m just going to snatch back my kids. Got Selina laying on her back for Chauncey and Braden them white boys it’s no wonder she can’t have no baby. Then you was so blind you didn’t know Mason was gay. I watched them from a far and honey I saw his switch and so did you. But you abused him and pushed my baby to almost commit suicide. You aren’t father of the year and nigga you ain’t even Cliff Huxtable. You exposed my daughter to little miss la cucaracha who would never know what it was like to raise a black girl. You tried to dim her magic and didn’t even know it. You’re a sellout and weak. I’m coming for you Tony real soon and when I do you won’t see it even coming. I’m going to gut you from the inside out and snatch my kids back. You had a lot on your side, money, Lowell and even my prestige. My power that I accumulated from Lowell you sat on it. My stocks, my money, my life you open a franchise of these poor ass restaurants named after your sad ass grandmother. Motherfucker I’m here and I’m getting it all.”

Tony thought he was over this years ago when he had went to the psychologist after he and Ophelia had gotten divorced and he had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. He thought he was over all the abuse and gaslighting that the woman before him had put him through over the years and he was so full of rage at her when she started to twist history at him left and right he was not the abusive or violent one she was and she fucking knew it. His entire body was shaking as she sat their and belittled him over his cooking and how he had chosen to raise their children while she faked her death and ran off with Jeremiah good riddance to both of them in his mind. All those secrets that he had worked so hard to keep from his kids about who Gloria was and everything they had done as a couple to get to the top boiling to the surface, how he had lied to Selina the most of all embellishing the woman before him as some signal of love and virtue. When in truth she was a modern day Medusa vile and cunning, a woman that simply discarded him and their children to chase after bigger dreams than DGI and LaCallie for money and fame. It was never enough for her to the point where he was so bogged down with the lies and deceit he never thought he would have to face it head on. Rising from the table he refused to engage with her when he stumbled out of the door and towards the exit.

“Stay the hell away from me and the kids Selina I’d hate to reach out to Lowell he knows people I would have no problems finishing the job that the cancer was supposed to do. I at one point felt guilty for hating you all those years but now looking at you naw, you’re still the same woman you always were a virus on me and our kids. You know how to lock up get the hell out of my restaurant.” Tony said his mind racing at what he just said as he shook his ead knowing he would never actually follow through with the hollow threat that he had said as he stumbled out of the door and into the summer air his breathing heavy. Fear set in as his hands began to shake wondering how he was going to handle this.

“I guess I have a damned party that I need to get too don’t I then? Instead of spending the lovely evening with you in this private room at a restaurant that you seemed to despise until he passed.” Jeremiah said throwing his napkin down looking at the plate on the floor wondering how in the hell the staff felt about her breaking plates left and right every time she entered the damned place. Getting up from the booth he leaned down kissing his wife on the lips before looking at her with a devilish grin. “Soon my dear, soon we’ll give them all the shock of their life and you will be the flourishing woman Tony discarded you. See you tonight at the hotel, unless I decide to take Natasha to bed.” He finished seeing her glare before he chuckled and walked out of La Callie to head to the Summit party.


Madeline arrived fashionably late wearing an exquisite pink handmade Dolce & Gabbana dress with hand embroidered flowers on a tulle overlay. Primarily because making an entrance but not appearing too eager were necessary. Second, because she refused to make an entrance with Natasha and be photographed with her. They had separate lives. She never felt the need to engage with her on any level. Her focus was on her future. College in the short term and DGI in the long term. She maintained an iron grip on the title of valedictorian while also being a highly competitive member of the AF Polo Team and the only female player. Both of which would be vital to her acceptance to an Ivy League school. She refused to waste any of her attention on futile pursuits, like Natasha Hassan. After all, she wouldn’t last. Natasha was boring on a good day and heinous on the others. Not worthy of the Devonshire name by any stretch. Hopefully after tonight, Chauncey could give up the charade and move on. She wanted him to be happy, especially since she’d be leaving soon for college and he’d be alone. Natasha wasn’t right for him. She’d tried to get him to sign up for Millionaire Match last night but he wouldn’t do it. She’d warned him that he’d be too old for the apps soon and he’d be stuck with those sugar baby sites. So gross. He didn’t seem concerned nor did he take her dating advice seriously even given the gossip from his trip to Pittsburgh. And on a selfish note, she didn’t want this to bleed over into her life where she’d have to artfully dodge questions about their drama. She courted the media at every opportunity and prided herself on a carefully crafted public image which she would not allow to be tainted. Only a psychopath would love the media attention, but it was a necessary evil. Lives like theirs required certain performances. Just another example of how Natasha was an abject failure.

She’d taken pictures from what felt like every angle, making banal small talk to most paparazzi and offering more exclusive sound bites to a select few who’d become a part of her inner circle. She’d ignored some requests to turn this way or that and responded to requests from those she knew could be useful to her. Finally, making her way through the line and glancing to her right, she saw Charles Hessington. She easily arranged her face into an expression of delighted surprise for him. As if she thought she’d missed him. She’d grown up understanding that a shrewd intellect was the most valuable asset one could possess but building relationships was also important. She aimed to rival Chauncey in the charm game. A trait he was infamous for possessing. She’d personally witnessed many a socialite giggle like a schoolgirl over the most innocuous comments from him. She was embarrassed for them; that they thought all their tittering and fawning interested him. She never wanted to be like them. “Charles, I was wondering if I’d see you. You always seem to find time to say hello between shaking hands and kissing babies,” Maddie said. She was not interested in spending any part of the evening with old people unless it was Lowell or Jackie and Julian. But being seen with the first family of PA was good PR for both of them, especially since the Hessingtons were this year’s largest supporters of Jackie’s hospital charity ball. She strove to support her grandmother’s charity work even if she seemed to be grooming Dani of all people to take over; it was the thing to do as a Devonshire. Especially as the first born of the first born, which placed her as the de facto heir to the DGI crown and it was never too early to prepare for the role of CEO. That popcorn tin fundraiser had to go though. Peddling snack foods was far to rank and file and not in keeping with the Devonshire image she was trying to project.  Shame on Jackie for taking advantage of her naïveté in previous years but soon Jackson’s kids could take it on. If that wasn’t a job fit for a Fraiser, she didn’t know what was. “I’ve just gotten all the latest gossip. Danielle seems to find herself in the most curious positions. And with your son, no less. And have you heard Rory’s engaged to that creature at his side? If ever anyone needed a prenup.” Maddie raised an eyebrow, pressing her lips together to punctuate the point. These Devonshires marrying the lowly citizens of Atlas Falls was disappointing though the Hessingtons had their share of scandal, too. “You know how it is having unsuitable individuals worm their way into your family. You have your own hanger on with that overgrown frat boy, Ryan. That grating accent makes him sound like a moron. The things we must endure.”

Charles had stepped outside and made a quick call to an old friend and judge. The next came to the current district attorney whom he reminded that no one wanted pictures of his misdeeds out in the press or that of his younger sisters an agreement was made he would resign and there would be an official election held. With that favor now done that he knew that Walter was under his thumb the rest came easy, he had told both the judge and district attorney to wait until after the ribbon cutting to do the rest. Afterall tonight was really about him and the Hessington name going down in history as full partners at DGI, for now of course. He didn’t need a pesky thing like Hunter fucking Kincaid released from jail at the same time to overshadow that development especially on an election year. A year that was critical for himself and their entire future in Atlas Falls, afterwards he did the proper thing and took photos shaking hands and trying to gage what his son was doing with the newest Devonshire nanny Dru Price whose body was being held together by the likes of Mulger. His wife would be rolling over in her grave at the sight Lex was always a disappointment this was no exception he almost had attempted to make his way to them only to be accosted by Chaunceys annoying brat of a daughter.

He listened to her ramble on and had to cock an eyebrow at her. She knew Dani was his goddaughter did she not? It wasn’t like he didn’t tell Lexington to head the fundraiser for the specific purpose of luring her back, not that the daft girl before him needed to know his real motives. “Ms. Devonshire aren’t you supposed to be in bed leaving us adults to adult. As for Dani, are you attempting to shade my goddaughter to me as unsuitable to be in your family? She is afterall your aunt now and the mother to your cousins?” Charles questioned taking a sip of his third glass for bourbon while he stared at her. If she was a bit older it would be fun to play with her. Hell if she wasn’t so connected it would be so easy to place her like Margaret or Skye, and his eyes then landed back on her. It wasn’t like he dealt with teenagers on a regular basis. Miles was still under five along with Morgan; he tolerated Wyatt at the moment and resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the girl before him. “Ryan brought millions into my family. His character or lack thereof is easy to ignore when that happens. Didn’t that happen when your father married your mother and I do mean your real mother Logan. Not the ones he pretends to have as replacements? What can I do for you?” Charles asked, hoping the girl got the hint and moved on.

“Oh, Charles, forgive me,” Maddie said, putting her hand on his arm. Bragging about Dani being his goddaughter like he was trying to keep her in check? That was lame. Charles was conceited like most politicians and she should probably stroke his ego but he was being a douchebag and she was a Devonshire. They were the top of the food chain so she wouldn’t be pandering to anyone. “I didn’t mean to imply that Dani is unsuitable. I meant to expressly state that fact,” She’d say as much to Dani or Jackson’s face. It was a proven fact that Frasiers were mediocre. DGI was her future and she knew without a doubt Frasiers didn’t belong in the boardroom. It was insulting. And wasn’t Dani ultimately responsible for Natasha’s presence in Atlas Falls? “Don’t get me wrong. I like Dani as a person, sometimes, but she simply doesn’t have what it takes to be a Devonshire. Not many do. If it wasn’t for Jackson, she would have been eaten alive a long time ago. Take that nanny she hired for example. I know you’ve seen her. We’ve all seen nearly every inch of her. Embarrassing the family is Dani’s toxic trait.” Tonight of all nights Jackson’s nanny is running around half naked. Classy. She’d immediately texted Chauncey knowing he’d appreciate Dani”s screw up as much as she did. How does one hire a nanny and not realize they’re a whore? “I adore Jackie but everything they touch dissolves into a shitshow. If you can’t see that, you must be senile. You are quite old.” She told him countering his remark about her being too young to be here. If anyone didn’t belong it was him.

She rolled her eyes when he tried to make a jab at Logan. Everyone loved Logan. She’d heard it over and over from half the town. Her mother had made an impression on most people here and now she was frozen in time in all her shining glory. As for Chauncey.  Well, everyone had their vices, didn’t they? “Is that what happened with my mother? I’m not sure I should trust the judgment of a dirty old man whose wealth portfolio is insufficient. Generous donation to the hospital charity aside, you don’t quite measure up, do you? I’ve made it a point to know the net worth of every person of note in this room. You’re still in the top 10 but likely only due to the fact that you’re notoriously stingy. Now, it would behoove you and all your endeavors to maintain a cordial acquaintanceship with the various Devonshires. So, why don’t you shut up and pose for a photograph. We’re supporting charity so try to look pleasant. Like you love the great unwashed of Atlas Falls and need their votes,” Maddie said, reaching out to straighten his bow tie before she waved at the photographers so they could get this over. “We all have our roles to play. I’m the perfect Devonshire and you will not fuck that up for me,” she said under her breath as she put an arm around him and pretended to enjoy his company.

Charles looked at the little brat before him and it took everything in him to not raise his voice or roll his fucking eyes at her. What a spoiled and entitled little bitch not that he expected anything else from the likes of Chauncey Devonshire or the granddaughter to Lowell but a humbling would do the girl a world of good. “I’ll be sure to share your opinions with both your uncle and your aunt before I take the stage with them later. To let them both know how you feel about Dani being at DGI, a place she earned by solidifying that SandStar deal. Seeing how your grandfather stole part of this entire company from her father watching her take the throne with your uncle is hardly the embarrassment you think it is. Dani at one point was slated to marry my son and become first lady of an entire state, a CEO position that is frankly beneath her in many ways. You see Hessington’s aim higher than what you can ever aspire too. She is helping Lex with the charity because it is what I wanted. Seeing how it is for my deceased wife and Dani’s deceased sister, shame on you for putting a price tag on it.” He simply waved off the reporters again before he turned and looked at her. She really was daft but he was happy to put her into a place if needed. “You’re uncle would be a coked out mess if she hadn’t entered the picture. It must feel awful, isn’t it being replaced in all areas of your life? In your father’s life by Natasha? Watching your uncle get the company you so rightfully think you are entitled too and faking a smile for your aunt and cousins?”

“Do you want a list of embarrassments for your family my dear I don’t think there is enough paper for that. Your aunt Bliss brought Dimitri Kavanagh into everyone’s lives it was then followed up with your mother doing the same. Your father was caught selling weapons to a militia group in Isla Del Cruces and then was exposed to trying to take over this company. I won’t get into the mess that is your other aunt Max out here shooting Philip Montogmery along with your other aunt Bliss and uncle Hunter. If I were to get into the numerous times Jackson has shamed your entire family I’d likely need another ream by itself.” Charles said looking at the teen in front of him he knew everything about the Devonshire’s. Eventually even Dani would get tired of the toxic bullshit that was Jackson’s family or apparently just this vapid little bitch before him and she’d leave taking the twins with her. Lex would step in and then the real fun would begin. She’d have part of DGI and be sitting on such a precious goldmine it would be the Devonshire’s loss but that was for him to know for now. This girl who could or couldn’t barley drive was attempting to play with him and would learn a hard lesson. “Or shall I start to list your grandfather’s recent sins in the past year alone? I seem to remember that he covered for his rapist of a brother, classy as always but I don’t expect much from your grandfather. He then embarrassed your grandmother in the most public and awful way possible with both Bliss and then Belle.” Charles wondered if the girl before him realized she had just ruined whatever saving grace had been built with DGI and himself with her daftness. “The only embarrassment this evening is yourself my dear thinking I give a damn what you have to say.” Charles finished giving her the most fake smile he ever could.

“I find it very ironic that a young constituent in a few years you would talk to like that. I mean in two years she’ll be voting. I do think that could be a quote in the Chronicle though. Charles Hessington doesn’t care about young voters. When Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, and RePlay get a hold of that byline wow I pity you. So I suggest if you ever speak to her again it will be with respect. I have no problem turning the Chronicle into a personal hunting ground to annihilate you on not just social media. I’m not sure you know who the fuck I am but I single handedly almost brought down a empire and just call me Helen of Troy because I’ll take you down any day, any week. Your veneer of perfection might work on others but me. I’m not believing it and I don’t think that you have time to repair from a scandal so watch how you talk to Maddie. The Hessington’s aren’t perfect. I have a full file also Charles, I actually inherited a heavy folder full of scandals you’ve squashed for the family you hold in such high regard so I’d watch it. I have a media empire and I’m not afraid to use it to bury anyone.” Greer said as she stepped between them and smiled brightly nodding at Maddie to do the same. Then she looked at Charles seeing him gritting his teeth through the fakest smile. They talked about the Brits and the royals; the politicians were way worse. “Shall we talk about the numerous affairs of Ryan and Whitney? Or how the womanizing Lex has a list of women that have warmed his oh so lonely bed since Dani left it? How you may have bought your son’s mediocre basketball career unlike the phenom that he’s playing with Khalil Watkins. Please don’t talk to a child so cruelly again in my presence when I know all the tea. All of it you still do have benefactors for your hotels now in Europe correct?” Greer asked in the most nasty tone she could muster.

“Now if you don’t excuse me I need to talk to Maddie.” She said, taking her hand as she walked down the carpet with her. “I don’t know what the hell you were just thinking but I wasn’t going to let grandfather sleaze around you. Are you alright? Look I know you’re getting older and your plan for world domination is well on its way. However picking a fight with the current Governor and acting as if you know him or his past connection to your family is risky play. He doesn’t like the Devonshire’s he’ll never come out and say but he’s voted against bills your grandfather and father has funded. He’s a snake oil salesman and worst of all I think he’s here to cause nothing but trouble.” Greer chirped, rubbing her belly as she smiled. “Be careful Maddie you don’t know what you’re stepping into sometimes men like that prey on girls like you. I know because I was just as determined to take on the world. So I might not be with your father anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. Maddie you’re almost there but until you get there you should focus on an Ivy League school and being class president. Some of these big dogs have no problem using and abusing you pups. I was used once upon a time and I don’t want the same for you so stay back until they are ready to open the kingdom. Plus you don’t want to start a cold war between the Devonshire’s and Hessington’s just yet. Lex is doing a fine job of that all on his own. That dress the nanny is wearing quite a statement. She is interesting, what do you know?” She never pandered to Maddie, nor would she. This kid was Chauncey’s heir and she also was whip smart. “She’s trouble and trust me I know it when I see it.”

“I’m well aware who you are Ms. LeClerq. My hotels are fine and you should stick to what you do best lately bottom feeder gossip. If you’ll both excuse me I do have other matters I need to attend this evening. I really do need to talk to a few senators here about these solar panels and that funding for that new military software too.” Charles said looking at Greer her betrayal of all her articles against his family wouldn’t be forgotten the incident with the miscarriage, then the constant coverage of Miles. It was quite interesting that she was taking up for Madeline Devonshire seeing how she was engaged to Brock Fraiser though. He would for now let her have her little moment with Chauncey’s brat frankly they didn’t need bad press if he wanted this election to go exactly how he envisioned it would. He kept his composure as he walked away and discretely took out his phone making sure the text he was sending was very clear, people who were his friends didn’t simply talk to the press or engage in them until it had cleared his PR team or Lex.

Maddie didn’t have a chance to respond to Charles before Greer swooped in from who knows where and took over, chasing him off with his tail between his legs even though he tried to get the last word in to save face. Maddie had to smile at her. She couldn’t even be annoyed because Greer was impressive. No one in her family seemed to understand her admiration for Greer, save maybe Chauncey. But they didn’t know Greer the way she did. They hadn’t even given her a chance. Greer was ambitious and wily and ruthless. If anyone could rival Chauncey it was this woman who was pulling her along the red carpet. Of course she looked up to Chauncey but she needed a female role model. Before Greer came along, Max would have been cast in that role even though her ambitions seemed to fall short of the CEO title. Maybe Selina, though she’d seen little of her lately. She wanted Chauncey to have that adoption revoked but so far she wasn’t getting anywhere with that demand. “Me?” She asked, wrinkling her brow at Greer when she accused her of picking a fight. “He was the one that started it, like a child. I’m perfectly fine as I was when you showed up. Believe me, I know enough about that family to outdo any boring old story that impotent little man could dredge up about us. But you are right about not sparking a battle. Especially tonight. So, thanks, I guess?” She tried to sound bored but she wouldn’t have changed anything. She’d enjoyed watching Greer tear into him but the rest of this was sounding preachy. “You know I love your advice but it sounds like you’re mom-ing me right now and I don’t like it. What is this baby doing to you? You’re not quite the person who covered for me that time I was trying to sneak back into the house at 2 am. I thought you were afraid of babies,” she teased, wondering if she’d even realized the shift.

She looped her arm in Greer’s to lead her towards a quieter area among the standing tables, away from all the snooping gossips. Maddie stepped back to look at her. Not haute couture but not off the rack like a Fraiser. At least she hadn’t sunk that low yet. It suited her but Greer could make anything look good. “You look beautiful and not like you’ve descended into the bowels of the lowest income bracket. But this press pass?” She asked, lifting the laminated badge hanging from a lanyard around her neck. “Is that how you got in? You poor thing. Take that off. You’re my personal guest now and for all future Devonshire events. I’ll even make it a plus one if you insist on bringing Brock Fraiser. And you’re in luck because I’m an exemplary hostess. Now why do you care about Jacksie’s nanny?” Maddie asked, glancing around for a waiter. Besides the inappropriate dress, she hadn’t found her worth paying attention to. Hardly interesting as Greer thought. Finally spying a waiter, she whistled and snapped when he looked to summon him over. She took two glasses of champagne and handed one to Greer, keeping the other for herself. “Oh, is this ok for the baby?  Max says it is but we know she’s not exactly the paragon of healthy habits,” she asked, not wanting to offend her. “The nanny, I don’t know. She’s not like any nanny I’ve ever had, even the slutty ones, and I had my share because quite a few were quietly fired in the middle of the night. If you’re really interested though, I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens.” As she did frequently, having zero qualms about giving Greer insider information. They lived their lives in the spotlight and had to be ready for anything to come out. That’s the problem with Dani. She thought she could marry a Devonshire and have a private life? She wanted to blame Greer for releasing the information about her miscarriage but she only had herself to blame. She should have been open about it and Simon and Talia would have been prepared. Back to hostessing duties, she changed the subject trying to anticipate what needed to be handled. “So, Brock. I thought they would only let the house trained Frasiers in. I see you tried to clean him up but he still doesn’t fit in, does he? I have to know, why did you pick that one? He has the personality of a rock. I’ve heard of trading up but never trading down. Another thing you and my dad have in common. What would you like me to do with him? Should I have someone escort him to the service hall so he can mingle with his people or do you want to leave him out here?”

Greer gritted her teeth when she said she was already acting like a mom. Her face flushed as she thought about it. Has she gotten soft? No not at all she was keeping Chauncey from his son for her baby protection. Refusing to put her son through the Devonshire bullshit and it wasn’t as if Chauncey loved her. Brock loved her and she had to prove that bitch Lauren wrong. She would have a normal life and it wouldn’t be glamorous or lavish but it would be enough. Her son would be normal and adjusted. She never really had a home after leaving uncle Harvey but this baby wouldn’t be treated as a weapon. Her father used her and that was something this pregnancy was making her come to terms with. She understood how you could already love a baby and she couldn’t understand why her father trained her to go after wealthy men. It was something she ached about and honestly made her truly feel less than good enough. Chauncey would never do that to Maddie but this girl would do anything to get to the top. She wondered if her influence did that even more so to Maddie. She was fierce and it seemed she was after her own time in the limelight. “Maddie my personal life is none of your concern anymore one, and two he fits in with who gets to know him. The bare minimum you can do is be a little more nice about my choices. Your father threw me away after I revealed his duplicity and honestly it hurt me. I didn’t expect to care about Chauncey the way I did but the truth is it’s in the past and we are the past. I’m not innocent in this mess and I wish things did go differently yes. I thought me and Chauncey were ideal in a strange way, it was like I found my person. You don’t know that feeling but when you feel it Maddie you will know what I’m saying. But he is more devoted to DGI than I and I knew that from the beginning so being with me doesn’t fit his image.” Greer said, rubbing her belly. Seeing Kelsey and Willow approaching Brock she looked smugly at Maddie.

“Plus now I got a friend in you so I guess that time wasn’t wasted.” Greer walked with Maddie as she looked across the room and her eyes linked in with Chauncey again. Why did he keep looking at her? She hated when he looked at her because the guilt was horrible as it was. If he knew that this baby. A baby that Kelsey told her and Brock today was a boy was his son he’d skin her alive. “Plus you can be the Godmother of the baby and I think you can lavish him with all types of things.” So this was easing her guilt. One thing she remembered Maddie saying was that she wanted siblings and maybe this was her way of giving her just that without her knowing. That’s when she noticed Chauncey and Natasha making a beeline for them. “I’m not doing this with him or her, Maddie so if I skin your wicked witch of a stepmother alive don’t stop me. You know you were right Chauncey did trade down because she could never be me. Always after my leftovers. No offense Maddie but I had your father first and she always wants what I have because she’s a guttersnipe who is jealous of every man that she has had wants me and every man I’ve had only wants her because they can no longer have me. Facts are facts.” Greer said as she looked at Maddie who seemed to enjoy to see her venom spewing. “Look for some reason they are approaching us. I’m going to say hello and then I’m gone. If you want to talk I’ll see you later because honestly I can’t believe that he married her.”

Maddie took a sip of her champagne as she listened to Greer first say her personal life was none of her business then proceed to lay it all out there. “As your friend, isn’t it my duty to point out when you’re making bad choices? Because it sounds like you haven’t left anything in the past and I guarantee no one wants to get to know Brock. I thought he was a beggar the first time I saw him.” Maybe she could help Greer see there was more to her dad than blind devotion to DGI. He wasn’t so utterly consumed with his desire to lead DGI that he didn’t leave room for anything else in his life. She thought Greer should’ve given him a chance and they wouldn’t be stuck with Natasha. “You know, there are no jealous old bridge trolls guarding him on this side, if you’re ever curious,” she said indicating herself. If Greer wanted to talk to him without Natasha around, all she had to was ask. She touched Greer’s stomach. “It’s a boy? I would be a great godmother, wouldn’t I? I accept. If you insist on staying with those Frasiers the baby shouldn’t suffer. It’s weird to think he might have been friends with my brother, if … you know. Oh wait, they wouldn’t have met. Ew. He’s going to have to go to public school because you’re poor. I can take care of that.” She stopped and looked up when Greer mentioned Chauncey and Natasha coming over. Why was he bringing her over here? He knew she wouldn’t want to socialize with her. Neither of them would, but Chauncey Devonshire did whatever he wanted. “No you don’t. You’re not leaving me alone with her,” Maddie said trapping Greer with an arm around her waist just as they arrived. She barely spared Natasha a glance but smiled brightly at Chauncey. “Look who I bumped into,” she said, hugging herself against Greer like she’d just snared a prize. “I was hoping I’d see you before the big event. I was just telling Greer that after tonight, the Devonshires will be free to move forward unencumbered by the past. It’s going to be a new dawn. Those old patterns that no longer serve their purpose should be discarded to make way for the future. And no matter what happens tonight, I’m proud of you. DGI wouldn’t be where it is without you but even more importantly, you’re the best dad in the world.”

Chauncey looked around the room and did his best smile as he did rumors were swirling that his father was picking Jackson and it infuriated him. He had seen them in a private meeting the other day at the office Simon in tow meaning it was likely true. He was being fucking replaced by his former addict of a brother passed over and honestly it pissed him the hell off to the point he wanted Jackson to fail. Over the last week he had thought about all the ways he could try and sabotage tonight and for now decided they didn’t need the scandal. After his and Natasha’s little run in with Anderson and Cara the press of course had caught onto the confrontation and he wasn’t sure he was going the welcome Natasha back into his bed either. He of course was horrified that Cara had pushed her but to learn that the baby that she lost was possibly not his sent him into a fit of rage when he dwelled on it too much. He had her on his arm though and they both played their parts on the carpet and he had to admire the half naked redhead across the room, she was gorgeous Dru Price and Jackson’s nanny he’d fuck her and wondered if his brother had. Though sleeping with the help was beneath him in some ways it was better than the current cold bed he shared alone. His eyes wandered for Maddie arm in arm with Natasha and they finally settled on her with Greer. His eyes raked over Greer who was frankly stunning in that maternity gown and he had to take a few breaths if things had been different that would be his child, but instead it was fucking Brock Fraiser’s.

“There you are, I would like to think that Governor Hessington was being polite. So kind of you Greer to step in for Maddie. Yes, moving forward to leave the past behind would be a good way to look at it for tonight the old way of doing things for DGI possibly left behind, or perhaps new beginnings of a new way to do things coming to light.” Chauncey said looking at his daughter and then his former lover, he doubted very much so that he would ever be able to leave Greer LeClerq in the past she knew him too well and DGI was his still for the taking. Perhaps one day when his brother fucked up again he could convince the board to overthrow him and take back the throne, afterall what was a junkie compared to his business sense, but for now he had to play the part of accepting older brother. He glanced at Natasha wondering for a moment where she would fall into line in the family as well, would she stay? If He wasn’t CEO he couldn’t just hand SandStar over to her. “Where is Brock Greer? He must be thrilled with the upcoming baby are you still planning on running the paper? He seems to be the kind to put a squash on all that, how is the wedding planning coming along? I’m sure it will be adequate and of course at the Pub.” He said with only a smile that he knew that Greer would find charming and infuriating he still wanted her but she’d made her choice with Brock and he had no problem rubbing that in now.

She sneered at Maddie saying her child would grow up poor. Not a fiber in her body would allow that. She hadn’t and her baby wasn’t either. Greer rolled her eyes as he asked about Brock, as if he cared. She rubbed her belly softly stepping back almost scared Chauncey would sense something was off. If he wasn’t so self absorbed he would have probably already put it together. They had sex on Valentine’s Day and now here she was at the end of the summer knocked up. He was far too concerned by DGI to even pay attention. Plus it was a one night stand no way would Chauncey think he sired a child with her. She just didn’t know what to do when that baby came out with Nordic features. Ice blue eyes and blonde hair it was the Devonshire way and not the Fraiser’s. They had had darker features and most Fraiser’s were born with red hair let Grace tell it. She listened to that lady yap incessantly earlier today. Call her horrible but if she had to dye this baby hair to keep this secret she would. No way would she be letting Chauncey near her or the baby. A piece of her missed him especially when Brock railed on her giving up the paper. Rolling her eyes she bit her tongue for a second then tried to speak as eloquently as possible.

“Well he’s with his family and they are trying to find Dani. Possibly because I tore apart Lauren earlier but that’s another story. You two look absolutely smashing. Why Natasha if I didn’t know better you might have let Chauncey dress you because taste isn’t your strong suit.” Twisting her engagement ring around her finger playfully to annoy Chauncey and to show she had moved forward. “As for my career LeClerq Media is my business unlike some of us who gave their families legacy up. I’m not losing the Chronicle or my place as CEO and I think you should know how that feels Chauncey considering everyone in this room knows you lost the biggest race of your life. I guess that’s what happens when you downgrade. Maddie was just talking about marrying down and I hate to see it honey but you did just that. I assure you if we would have made it the company would have been ours. But we didn’t so.” She shrugged looking at Maddie who was living for her attacking Natasha.

Natasha snickered she hated this woman since they were children. It was one thing to be jealous but the attack on her was uncalled for. She really didn’t want to make a scene but she wasn’t going to let Greer just berate her and what was worse she saw Chauncey. The way he stared at her he still couldn’t let her go. That meant something to her, it meant she was right to carry on her affair with Anderson and any other man she wanted. She didn’t want Chauncey but she didn’t want him with Greer LeClerq at all. The woman was parasite to any man she touched. That was a fact and she wasn’t going to let her belittle her or Chauncey. It was that jab about her getting DGI with him that seemed to rile up the fight inside of her. “Well considering how low you are it was always room for improvement. You are bitter that I got the man you were so in love with. Everyone told me you came when I lost my baby. How you tried to comfort him but he wouldn’t let you. How he threw you away for little old me. You know you can act morally superior all you want Greer, I got what you couldn’t the ring. I’m married to Chauncey and well Maddie cover your ears. We have incredible sex the most mind blowing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t end up pregnant again with another baby.” She said that especially pointed at Maddie. She didn’t like that little girl and if she had it her way she would be in Switzerland in a private boarding school. She had too much mouth and was absolutely unruly. She thought she was so slick being with Greer, she knew it would lure Chauncey like a moth to a flame. She instead needed to show that little girl she was in charge, not Maddie.

“Maddie I didn’t know you two were in contact still? It’s funny when I saw you get dropped off by Wyatt a couple of nights ago at three I believe in the morning.” She saw Chauncey’s face grow dark. One thing he wasn’t ready for was his beloved little angel to be a woman. In fact she was sure she’d be locked up until infinity and beyond for what she just revealed. “As for Brock I have to tell you that the Fraiser’s are pretty to look at but it’s not much to them. I hope this baby has the mental bandwidth to even comprehend how trash its mother truly is. As for my legacy I suggest you worry about your own. I’d hate to have to snatch a newspaper and buy a TV station with my funds just to dismantle your so-called empire. Everyone knows the LeClerq’s are only good at taking orders never at being the bosses.” Natasha seethed as she leaned onto Chauncey. “Shall we go speak with more investors or is this conversation still titillating to you? I can tell you Greer that Chauncey is a constant reminder of me winning against you. I married the love of your life and it’s nothing you can do about it.”

Greer snickered, the bitch still had a wicked tongue but she would win. “How was your dinner with Anderson and Cara? Oh if you have a baby again I hope someone doesn’t try to kill you again. I write a gossip column you think I haven’t heard that you might be tasting the future Governor of Pennsylvania? Allez Madeline, on peut regarder l’annonce ensemble. Je détesterais être avec cette garce amère quand Lowell lèguera DGI a Jackson. Oh Chauncey encore une fois, je suis vraiment désolé que tu n’aies pas eu la compagnie.” Greer said with confidence. “Oh ask Maddie or Chauncey what I just said I know you failed primary studies of French.”

Maddie clenched her jaw as Chauncey started laying into Greer. Clearly they had different ideas about what constituted a new beginning. She’d given him the perfect lead in to show Greer he didn’t have tunnel vision when it came to DGI and he chose to blow it up. She might have stepped in to try to help him again but when Greer started tearing into Natasha, she didn’t dare interrupt. She’d watched the Devonshires try to include Natasha for months. If Bliss called her ‘Auntie Natasha’ one more time she was going to vomit. These Devonshire bitches were acting like sellouts but Greer was giving her what she deserved. Maddie would never forgive or forget the fact that Natasha tried to ship her off to boarding school. She was the Devonshire here, not Natasha. What made Natasha think she could snap her fingers and remove one of them.

“I haven’t been around… and around… and around… the block like you, Natasha, but don’t you have to be sleeping in the same room to have a baby with someone?” Maddie froze momentarily when Natasha ratted her and Wyatt out. She’d been so careful to avoid detection only to have this harpy expose her. Of course she’d be skulking around the house in the middle of the night spying on people. How clever to keep that trump card in her back pocket. She might have won a battle but never the war. It would be a minor setback. Devonshires always came out on top. This was nothing more than a desperate attempt to deflect the attention away from what was really happening. Greer was currently destroying Natasha but more importantly Greer and Chauncey still had feelings for each other. “Wyatt and I were studying for an exam. Not all of us trade lap dances for As. But since you brought him up, he had a few interesting things to say about you and other people close to him. Greer, I have to tell you all about it. I’d love to hear what you think. Or we could all read about it in your column. In the meantime, Natasha, you’re dismissed. Go back over to your side of the room and peddle those solar panels for DGI. You’re not going to earn your keep talking to us.” Maddie said, waving her off. “We all know you can’t hold on to companies or negotiate a sound deal. So smart of you to take my dad to speak on your behalf. Greer and I have somewhere to be ourselves, so au revoir.” She said making a show of joining Greer. She would flaunt her friendship any chance she got now. She didn’t like Greer’s comment about him losing DGI, though. It meant the rumors must be true. That would be like a knife in his heart and she hated to see that taken away from him. She would’ve written a 50 page dissertation on why he should be CEO if she thought it would’ve swayed Lowell’s decision. She turned her attention back to Greer, thinking about what Chauncey had said. “You’re not actually getting married at the Pub, are you?”

Chauncey watched the entire exchange and looked at Maddie in full and utter embarrassment at how she was acting very publicly towards his wife, surely she had to know that there were better ways to go about it. His French was perfectly fine and it took everything in him to not sneer at Greer one day Jackson would fail; he knew that and when he did he’d take DGI from him. They had challenged each other on and off, but being passed over stung and his father was an old fool but his family would never forgive him if he didn’t play nice now. For now he’d sit and wait he caused a scene or fought his father on this in his frail health it would likely send him into an early grave and he wasn’t ready for that weight on his shoulders. Chauncey looked at his daughter the nights sneaking out with Wyatt to study would end after tonight even if he had to take things away from her. He liked Wyatt just fine but he had been almost seventeen once and a fucking horny teenager at that and wasn’t blind to the fact that Wyatt looked at Maddie a lot. He cast a glance at his wife that she had kept the information to herself and neglected to tell him.

“Enough Madeline first of all we will discuss your nightly activities later this evening and I would only like you and Wyatt to study in the dining room from now on. You will respect my choices which happens to include Natasha as my wife, I don’t expect you to call her stepmother or anything like that but I do require you to show some tact with her. Her panels saved DGI thanks to your aunt and uncle after my deal went sideways.” Chauncey said looking at Maddie and then at Natasha she thought she was so grown in some ways it reminded him of himself when he was younger. He and Natasha both knew how SandStar was; acquired hard work and blackmail from Jackson and Dani meaning for now Natasha was part of the family and so was her company. His mind was trying to figure out how he was going to get her SandStar back and then find the best attorney he could in order to secure a possible divorce. “Of course Greer is marrying Brock at the Pub isn’t that their tradition? She is marrying down and not up in society. She passed on that when she exposed me. Which led me to this stunning woman on my arm and she is right we are going to try for another baby soon aren’t we?” Chauncey finished noticing the look on Greer’s face when he said it and the look on Maddie’s he wanted a son. He needed a second heir and then looked at Natasha waiting for her answer.

Natasha was frozen because honestly she didn’t know if she wanted children. It was a unexpected surprise last time and it made her soul feel maternal. She had such love for that baby and seeing Chauncey like that endeared her to him. He’d never know that Anderson was the father of that baby but he loved that child. It made her see him in a different light. Honestly she didn’t know but at this very moment she wasn’t going to let Greer know that. She wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of feeling like she wouldn’t have a Devonshire heir. “I think tonight is the perfect time to start.” Natasha leaned over and kissed Chauncey as she looked at Maddie and Greer. When Chauncey put his foot down she felt herself getting wet. Poor little girl didn’t stand a chance against her. She’d never know the power sex had over a man like her father. It was what she had over plenty of men and Greer also. A main reason why they didn’t like each other in her eyes. “I’ll have a son for Chauncey in no time and then we’ll regain control of DGI together the correct way. No back alley schemes bitch.”

Greer looked at Maddie and always sort of thought her and Dylan would be cute with that red hair and how tight they were. But Wyatt Kincaid wasn’t a bad understudy. She gave Chauncey a look not to push a teenage girl too hard because unlike him she’d been there. Boys and romance were paramount at this age not to mention Maddie was brilliant. She was advanced and already plotting her time as head of DGI eventually. “My marriage and my wedding to Brock is none of your concern. Do you understand me? You’ve remarried and moved on. I don’t bother to care what your choices are. Chauncey you however judge me every chance you get. You are no longer my concern, I’ve given what we have back to the universe and my son. This boy will never know a time where they aren’t loved.” She paused as she looked at them all. “We all can agree that being from three powerful different fathers we struggled with understanding love. I won’t struggle anymore with it though because from the moment my baby is born the Fraiser’s will love it. They will cater and surround it with love and that’s what I want. I don’t want you or anybody like you Chauncey as a father to my child and the expectations my son will have just by being born into your family. Only expectation Brock has is that this child is healthy and happy. You stick your nose down at The Pub and Brock but he’s more man than you’ll ever be you self indulgent brat. So I’ll marry Brock at The Pub or a barn or a backyard if it means that this child will have something that none of us did. A normal loving father. Good luck with all that comes with having a Devonshire heir honey you’ll need it. Chauncey lucked up with Maddie, maybe that’s Jackie and Lowell influence but Lowell isn’t going to be around for this one.” Greer said harshly knowing it would sting Maddie but she had to speak her truth. “Maddie I should really be getting back to my fiance shall we?”

When Chauncey Madeline-ed her in that tone, she knew it was about to suck for her in some way. She wanted to roll her eyes at that stupid smug look on Natasha’s face and again when she kissed him. Disgusting. All this talk about her dad’s sex life was gross but having a baby was serious. How could he entertain that idea? Natasha would do whatever she could to keep her away from her sibling. Surely he wasn’t blind to that? Even if her father wouldn’t allow her to keep them apart physically, Natasha would find other ways to drive a wedge between them. Maddie had said as much to Greer the last time Natasha was pregnant. So, when they bragged about having a baby Maddie looked at Greer who knew how that hurt her. She wouldn’t participate in some perverse rehashing of the Chauncey and Jackson saga. She supposed she had to agree with Greer’s assessment of the Fraisers. They did love each other but it wasn’t fair to imply the Devonshires didn’t. “You have to stop insulting Brock,” Maddie warned her father. Not that she cared about Brock or thought Chauncey was wrong but she wasn’t going to let these two gang up on Greer. Plus he was pushing her away. “You’re salty because Greer’s a goddess and you settled for this bridge troll. Second place is the first loser. You didn’t raise me to accept an inferior substitute but that’s exactly what you’re doing. Imagine, Chauncey Devonshire trading first place for a participation trophy. I wonder how many of those have been handed out?” She asked pointedly with the rumors about Natasha and Anderson that Greer brought up earlier. Cara and she had briefly discussed their mutual contempt for Natasha so she suspected it could be true but also Natasha was not a likable person. She didn’t want her father to look like a clown over this woman. Why was he doubling down on this charade?

Well, like him, she wasn’t built to back down. She’d never been a wilting flower but Maddie was feeling herself more than ever lately. Polo wasn’t a sport for the faint of heart and since she’d started playing, she’d grown more assertive and resilient. She liked exercising this newfound level of confidence. Forget tact. She was going to speak her mind. “Having a baby as a pawn isn’t the flex you think it is. You’ll have to do better to compete with Jackson. But if you insist, at least move the plague of Egypt out of mine and grandmother’s house before you start your so-called family. None of us have the stomach to watch this train wreck any longer. That’s the only choice I can respect.” There was truth in that though admittedly she was antagonizing him at this point. Making a point that Natasha would never be acceptable. She didn’t want her father to leave but she also didn’t want Natasha to stay. If they moved out she could use it to her advantage. Judging by all the charity functions for that derelict community center in town everyone loved an orphan. Maddie imagined herself in her own Dickensian tragedy at Natasha’s expense. Left alone, to fend for herself and her horses. She could write a stunning college essay about her father abandoning her for a beastly social climber. She took Greer’s hand when she offered to leave. “Let’s. I’d love to get to know Brock better,” she said just to annoy her father. Of course she didn’t want to know him. She wasn’t sure if he was even capable of carrying his end of a conversation but she would find a way to put up with him for Greer and now her god-son. She’d have to find out how that buffoon was related to Dylan, too. As she followed Greer off she said, “Ok, but seriously … let’s explore your options before you settle on the Pub as your wedding venue.”

“Honestly I didn’t realize that you cared so much for Brock Fraiser Madeline let alone Greer. I’m not salty about anything I’m doing exactly what I was raised to do and one day when you are older you will understand that. Greer made her choice when she decided to accept Brock’s proposal even though deep down she knows he will never be able to give her what she really needs. Natasha is not going anywhere that isn’t your house Madeline and you don’t control what happens in it. Unless you want to downsize and become like your aunt and uncle I can have a realtor look into it if you like regardless you’d still be living with me in my roof with my rules and that happens to now include Natasha in those decisions. ” Chauncey said looking at his daughter with a glare that he didn’t even know that he had what in the world was going on with her lately. Maybe it was his fathers’ illness taking it’s toll on her to be acting the way she was when it came to everything. “I’m sure Brock will bore you to death within a few minutes half an hour tops. He’s a Fraiser and honestly one of the most pompous one’s at that not to mention poor what are you going to find so fascinating about him?” Chauncey said putting his foot firmly down at her something he clearly should have done more to avoid outbursts like this.

He refused to rehash this any longer with Madeline here she could think whatever she wanted after the night that he and Greer had together over Valentine’s she still went back to Brock and put Brock’s ring on her finger. Hell she could have objected at his wedding to Natasha but she didn’t so that told him clearly that Greer was ready to move on so he was going to let her as much as it pained him to do so. He and Natasha were going to try to make it work the best they could and they honestly were trying up until their run in with Anderson and Cara at the restaurant. “Honestly I expected more of you with a bit of class and grace that perhaps your grandmother had put into you, instead all I see right now is a little girl talking a big talk about things she has no idea about. Regardless, tonight is not the time for you to be making enemies for our family or trying to have your shining moment at such a critical time. I expect you to come home early and a full apology to me and Natasaha in the morning should you decide not to do those things. I’m happy to take privileges away. Now if you will excuse us we need to get ready for the presentation.” Chaucney finished waving his hand at Maddie before walking away arm in arm with Natasha he would wait and abide his time when it happened he would snatch DGI back into his grasp.


Zerick looked around the ballroom, his eyes scanning the crowd looking for the stunning redhead that was warming his bed. It didn’t take long to find her in a dress that had left little to nothing to the imagination and something he was pretty sure his cousin would have never approved of for the event. He had called her numerous times leading up to the event and up until a few days ago he had assumed they were going together. Instead she had told him she had other plans of which he had assumed meant Philip. He was entirely shocked however to see her with the Governor’s son and the man that was becoming a pain in his cousin’s ass. He wasn’t even aware that Druscilla Price even knew Lex Hessington let alone how she could afford the dress on her body. A body he’d seen numerous times naked over the past few months and watching other men look at her his cheek twitched a little. Just what kind of a fucking game was she playing with him? Here he was trying to be a better person for her to be playing with him, it was bad enough when she told him he had to share her with Philip but now with this asshole too? He took his glass of champagne before he approached her and Lex at the bar, barely looking at Lex as he did so.

“Quite the statement piece you’re wearing this evening Ms. Price. I’m surprised it passed the PR team at DGI let alone the couple that employs you unless of course it passed inspection by your current companion for the evening.” Zerick said, tilting his head at her trying to figure out what she was doing with someone like Lex, he had thought she was actually into what they were doing. Then again it wasn’t like he was a decent person he’d done a lot of bad and less than stellar shit in his life. From the way he came to town hell bent on revenge against Lowell with Greer  by his side. There were some nights that he thought of the bodies that he had left in his wake Gideon Morrison of course and his innocent daughter that was never supposed to have been involved. He thought he was atoning for that now in some way. “Would it be possible for us to talk alone?” He asked looking at Lex who looked smug as hell at the bar and he couldn’t help but get a good dig in. “Jackson lights up a room with Dani by his side doesn’t he?”

Lex had brought Dru to the bar, needing a good stiff drink. After their encounter with Jackson, he’d caught sight of Charles across the room. This was not the solution Charles would have envisioned when he pushed him to get Dani back. Even from a distance he could see that muscle in Charles’ jaw tense up. Charles was pissed and Lex’s stomach knotted briefly. Seeing that used to scare the shit out of him as a kid. He never managed to shake that initial visceral reaction even though he wasn’t afraid of that motherfucker anymore. Well, not in the same way at least. There were still plenty of ways Charles could screw with him. His law license being the target of choice. He should’ve pregamed for the party but seeing Dru in that dress had distracted him and now he really needed something to take the edge off. Ryan was no help. He was currently playing Boy Scout to appease Charles so alcohol it was. Right about now he was missing the days when he and Ryan would ditch these stuffy parties early and go out to the clubs. Everyone had to be on their best election year behavior. And then there was Miles’ custody hearing which gave him a pang of guilt but he was pretty confident that was a wash after their last meeting. Besides, he wasn’t the parent. Either way, Lex had just made a big fuck you gesture with Dru. Even Ryan had stopped leering at Dru long enough to give him a what the fuck were you thinking look. If Ryan Walker was questioning your behavior, you can bet you made a bad choice. He was sort of regretting it at this point but, in for a penny in for a pound. He could sense Charles stalking him around the party and he’d been dodging him all evening, grateful for the partygoers who kept distracting him. Ryan, who always had his back, had intercepted him a few times and Charles was no doubt growing irritated with him.

He ordered two double whiskeys and was handing the glass to Dru when Jackson’s loser cousin strolled over. The one Jackson had said was ‘smitten’ with Dru. Who the fuck says smitten anyway? “I don’t know bro, Jackson looks stressed out. Did Dani finally show up? Seemed like tonight wasn’t much of a priority for her. She never missed any big events when we were together so infer what you will about that. Besides, how could I notice anything when I have this lovely lady as my date,” he said as he pulled Dru back until her back was against his chest and kissed her neck as he watched Zerick’s face tighten in irritation. So it seemed he did have feelings for her and he wondered why Dru hadn’t gone with him but realized she couldn’t use him to goad Jackson. He knew Zerick would report back to Jackson so they had to keep the charade of their date going. All he really wanted was some pussy and blow so he hoped this wasn’t a waste of time and Dani left Jackson sooner rather than later. “Baby, if you don’t want to talk to this loser just say the word and I’ll get rid of him. Or better yet, we can just get out of here and have our own private party.” Which he was completely open to and he didn’t care if she was sleeping with Zerick or not. It was just sex between friends.

Raising her hand up she looked at Lex and shook her head. “No, I need to talk to him. He deserves that much.” Dru had every intention of stringing Zerick along until he wasn’t useful. Right now he was enthralled and that meant Jackson wouldn’t want to just throw her away. He also liked the chase and the fact she had Lex Hessington and Philip Montgomery also in play for her hand made him want her even more. As for did she get the dress approved well no but Pierre also said make a splash. Tonight was about Jackson and Dani right? Well it would be when the world saw the hot nanny they’d be all everyone talked about. As she stood up she leaned in and kissed Lex’s cheek taking the cherry out of his whiskey glass and ate the cherry. Licking her finger seductively she walked down to the end of the bar with Zerick. “Tell me what have I done now? You look at me with such disapproval Zerick? I don’t quite understand it. You destroyed the world when you came into Atlas Falls. I thought my little stunt tonight would impress you. I’m taking the spotlight from everyone tonight and no they don’t light up a room. It’s fake and false just like a lot with you Devonshire’s but I just work there. Zerick you don’t own me and as much as I am pleased in bed with you I don’t belong to you or any man. Also I didn’t sign any contract with your family, about how I dress. I’m free tonight and I’m dying for everyone to have my name on their lips. I’m so sick of playing the back when I’m so clearly up for the leading role in this show. So watch and learn Zerick, you supposedly were so vengeful when you arrived. Watch and learn how this happens, how someone truly gets their revenge.” Dru spat as she saw Philip approaching Lex at the bar.

She sneered what in the hell was this? All her men congregate to talk about who had her first? Placing her hand on her hip. “I tried to slow this down and break this off. I told you when I’m done nothing would be the same between us and I’m serious. I don’t want to hurt you Zerick. I think you know that and I think you know I’m no good. So why mess up what you have? They all love you and when I’m done nobody will love me or want me. I leave scorched earth so stop. Stop it Zerick whatever this is and I am trying not to show how much I want to be with you. If it was another time or place or we met under different circumstances. If I wasn’t Dru and I lived in one of these big fancy houses and I went to Atlas Falls Prep instead of some backwood swamp high school. So stop trying to figure me out because this door should close. You’re in the family now and I’m about to be on the outside soon.” Dru said, looking at him. “You can’t stop it and I will get what due to me Zerick so back up and watch a real bitch come through.”

Zerick watched her take the cherry and put it in her mouth reminding himself that he wasn’t going to think with that part of his brain right now he did disapprove of her dress for the evening there were so many other classy options that she could have chosen. It looked awful for DGI after all the hard work that his entire family had put in to change their image. “Well to start with you’ve been avoiding my calls for a few weeks I know that we never said that we were exclusive or whatever the fuck ever, you told me about Philip but Lex too? No one is telling you otherwise there are better ways to lay waste to Atlas Falls than the way you are going about it. You’re barely covered is that what you want to be known as the woman that showed it all without a little of mystery behind her. Fakeness is such a rich statement coming from you. You know what I think that it burns you. They have truth between them. Let’s not pretend that you weren’t the one that sold Tamara Wright to Greer’s paper.” Zerick said looking at her and taking a sip of his champagne almost six months and counting and he figured he still didn’t know who the real Dru Price was but it was getting exhausting trying all the time.

He knew that she was the one that sold that story to Greer. He had handed her the gun for safe keeping that evening, there were three people who knew him, her and Tamara. He was trying to change people could do that couldn’t they? Even someone like him born into so much darkness surrounding him with Linus raping his mother that night, the lies he had been told growing up and the dangerous game that he played when he got to town. He looked down at the bar at Lex whom honestly he didn’t fucking care about he was irriated but it was Philip that really made him sneer she was still fucking him too? “I still don’t know what in the hell you want out of Atlas Falls you won’t ever tell me. You won’t let me in. I most certainly would have gotten you the best gown, the most classy gown that was fitting for someone of your caliber. Everyone knows why I came to town and did what I did. I thought I don’t even know anymore sometimes I think about you and me and what could be. You want me to admit that I’m upset or jealous with you, fine I will. I find you thrilling and mysterious and let’s face it you certainly know how to please me and I thought I was pleasing you. I thought you saw the darkness in me and accepted it, yet you’re still fucking Philip I guess and now moving on to him too? I think I’m about out of patience to be your little toy anymore.”

Philip sat down on the other side of Lex as he looked at him watching Dru and Zerick in a hush toned around the corner. He leaned back in the high back bar stool. Looking at Lex he leaned in. “She is playing with you. I hope you know that and if you underestimate her you’ll be sorry. You see I know something about Dru that neither of you do and it’s our shared link. You can sniff around Dani all you want but she isn’t what you want is it? She’s docile and submissive. You want drama and I think you may have found it with Dru. But be warned when she bores of you or her game is all done I think she’ll be damaged goods. Meaning that the entire town will hate her and you might get wrapped up all in that pretty boy. In fact I’m certain Zerick, myself and you will be. What will that do for the Governor’s image? Or your family because you all are trying to stay in power which I find odd because Anderson isn’t biologically related but that must mean you guys have a plan to disgrace him. Oh I keep up with CNN and the news. You’re about to lose all high ground and eventually maybe Anderson will pass it to Hunter because we all know Hunter couldn’t pull the wings off a fly. He isn’t man enough to kill Dimitri considering he let Max shoot me.” Looking at Lex he saw for a brief second he’d climbed underneath his skin. So he pressed more. “I mean you’re in the same situation as Jackson aren’t you. You’re maybe a lawyer but what hasn’t been given to you? I mean it must be frustrating to still be your father’s bitch and you’re an adult man. I mean I wouldn’t want to ride Dani Fraiser after Jackson Devonshire. Far too many STI’s for me, I mean did you know he was homeless and Lowell let him?”

He could tell he was working Lex’s nerves but he was determined to see how invested he was with Dru. You see he didn’t want to marry Dru but he refused to let Zerick have her. He resented that she was sleeping with him but he wouldn’t be the first to back away. Dru wanted a war for her hand and he’d oblige her. “Tell me you want Dani but does she want you? That dress she was wearing for the first time I saw the mousy new Devonshire wife. I mean Dani is delectable. She was almost a virgin when you had her? I read something about it in the Chronicle right? Now Jackson has her and I mean if I lost the love of my life to an ex-junkie I’d be fairly pissed as well. But messing with their nanny that’s some genius shit. Which tells me you didn’t come up with it. Dru set all of this up didn’t she? You don’t have street smarts enough to think of something that would rattle their cages like that. So tell me is Dru rattling your bed too? I would hate to have to fight with you as well.”

Dru stood with her eyes narrowed looking at Zerick. How dare he! He was literally slut shaming her because she chose to wear something revealing. It was her choice and she enjoyed showing her body off. Always had and always would. Tonight was about making a splash, for the town to know her name even if moreso. Now nobody would forget Dru Price or Kendall fucking Fraiser. She didn’t have to explain anything to Zerick and wasn’t going to at this moment. He’d know exactly who she was when she was ready for him to. If he kept sleeping with her then it would ruin his new family connection. She actually gave a damn about him and didn’t want to see that happen. She was after Dani and Jackson was collateral damage. If she continued to sleep with Zerick she’d ruin everything. Her emotions would eventually come into play and just like Florida she’d have to run before she accomplished her goals.

“I’m me Zerick and you can’t clean up all this mud baby. I’m too dirty and I hate to say it but you want someone to be your girl. I told you when I came that it wasn’t for me. I can’t be loved because my own family didn’t love me. They didn’t care about me and threw me away. Do you want to know something about me? I’m an orphan just like you. I was pushed aside and thrown away like trash and my mother moved on. My father did too. You see I’m nothing to people like the Devonshire’s, the Fraiser clan, the Kincaid’s and so on. I’m nothing to you all and if you knew me you’d try to stop me. I’ve tried to tell you in so many ways I’m going after people you care about big boy but you are ignoring it. I’m not your friend, I’m an enemy. I have so much rage for the rich and elite here you have no idea. Even the well off can get it as well. You want a happy ending. Her name is Talia Rose. It’s not me and you having some sort of fantasy that I’ll get it together or tell you my plans is just that a fantasy. We don’t have to continue to communicate if that’s what you want that’s fine with me. I’m not keeping you here, I’m not asking for you to be my yoda. In fact you can’t lead me when you’re no longer the man that tore apart Atlas Falls. You’re a shell of yourself at the call of the Devonshire’s and as for who I sleep with, it’s none of your business. But just so you know at this moment I’m not fucking Lex, if I choose to then it’s my business. My body, my dress, and my choice. So go find some other weak minded woman to manipulate with your misogynistic display. I’m wearing this because I want them to know it was me. When they look back they can see this was a big middle finger to the elite and I did what I set out to. As for Philip no I’m not fucking him either right now but as I said earlier that isn’t any of your business.” Dru said as she looked back at Philip and Lex talking.

Honestly Zerick looked at her for all her bravado about being unlovable. He got that more than she realized and for a split second he wondered if he could ever break that wall with her. Few could break that wall with himself so he got it but Jackie had and so did Talia, was he willing to forget what Lowell did for his sperm donor absolutely not, but something changed. He would venture to guess it was his aunt who welcomed him with open arms no questions asked, for the first time he felt like he belonged and he ran a hand through his hair while he looked at her. “Anyone can clean up if they want to Dru. I thought we were friends, hell I was beginning to think we were more than that. You say you have all this rage but I’ve seen the real you Dru, you have a soft spot for people. Lauren and Grace Fraiser to name a few. You still think I want Talia. I’ve moved on or I thought I was. I’ve yet to see what you’ve done that was so terrible that you seem to think this can’t work. It is your body, your choice and your dress but you want people in this town to notice you show some tact.” Zerick said looking at her honestly upset at the way she was toying with him and his emotions. He and Greer played with the elite when they came but neither of them stripped half naked to do it.

Bringing the champagne to his lips he took a sip of his drink while he looked at her bringing his temper in check while he did. Was this really what he wanted, sharing her in some three way sick relationship with other men all the time? He glanced down at Philip and Lex chatting it up. Frankly it was exhausting to think about and maybe he needed to take his aunt’s advice and find a nice girl to settle down with. Why was he out here chasing after her? That was the most confusing part; it was almost as if Dru Price had this spell over him that he couldn’t shake. “Do whatever the hell you want, just don’t be shocked if I’m not around when you’re done. You want to bed Philip, Lex and if rumor is right Ronan all at the same time along with me do it. The only thing at the end that you will be known for is the woman that slept with numerous men in a span of months or weeks at the same time. Your games are getting a little stale for my tastes and Philip he’s not all that I would know seeing how we grew up together. You want to see darkness I’ll give you darkness, my own mother tried to drown me because of what all these people put her through you think you had it so bad? Did our parents ever literally try to kill you?” Zerick asked, looking at her and sneered when she just stared at him. Only Greer knew that part of his past and now she did too. “Didn’t think so.” Zerick finished emptying the bottle down his throat as he looked at her.

Lex had been admiring the view, namely Dru’s backside as she spoke with Zerick. He bit his lip replaying the cherry incident from a few seconds ago in his mind. All he could think about was licking the whiskey off her fingers and then finding out what else she could do with that tongue. That is until Philip’s voice pierced through the little fantasy he’d been enjoying. He listened to Philip brag about his secret connection with Dru. He didn’t even care. He wanted Dani and not just because Charles was demanding it. Dru presented herself as a way to get it and if they had a little fun on the way? Him and Dani weren’t together, yet. He couldn’t be expected to act like a monk while waiting for her to come around. “So, in summary, you’re banging her and you came over here to mark your territory? She’s like the town watering hole,” he said as he looked at her, admiring her once again. Skanky maybe but sex on a stick definitely. So she had something going on with Zerick and clearly Philip. He wondered who else she was with but he lived in a big ass glass house so what was he going to say. He shrugged as he turned back to Philip. “You think it’s just the three of us? I heard she was screwing around with Ronan, too. I don’t care, though. It’s sweet of you to worry about me, bro, but I’m not looking to make a love connection. Especially if Ronan’s tangled up in this. I don’t want to catch a stray bullet courtesy of his crazy baby mama. You know what they say about those Falcones. Or at least that one in particular. Nope, I just want to hit it and forget it. Nothing for us to fight over. You’re already sharing her three ways. What’s one more? I mean, if that’s ok with you? Do I need your permission? Are you making a commission or what? Jesus, Philip. You used to be cool when you owned the club. Me and Dru have a common goal and we’re helping each other out, as friends do. You know, come to think of it, she’s never once mentioned your name. The real world isn’t like XES where the girls were compelled to talk to you because you signed their paychecks. Are you sure you aren’t misconstruing this relationship you’re hinting at?” He knew better than to acknowledge the comments about Anderson. He hated that guy. Hunter, even more. Mr Prom king with his perfect little life. Philip was astute and he was probably onto something but Lex knew better than to ask too many questions. Plausible deniability was the best route.

“Come on, man. The fuck is your problem with Dani? Don’t talk about her like that.” Dani had been innocent when they first got together and yeah, she was kind of boring in bed but now she had some fire in her. He’d only seen a few glimpses of it and couldn’t wait to get reacquainted with his now spicy little minx. “Greer releasing that story about the miscarriage was low. Don’t bring that shit up. I don’t have any beef with you. Let’s keep it that way. Dani’s off limits.” He ran a hand through his hair as Philip vocalized pretty much everything he knew Charles would be thinking about the Governor’s image and the optics of him being with Dru, especially if all this went South. As if Charles hadn’t drilled this into him since the moment he could talk but hearing someone say it out loud made it harder to ignore. Jackson would go apeshit before he considered the ramifications it would have on DGI. Maybe make a public spectacle. Lex could easily get dragged down with him. And in an election year. For shame. Charles was constantly telling him what a fuck up he was. Maybe he should embrace that and leave a colossal disaster in Charles’ lap. He only did what we had to do to placate the man in order to protect himself and Whitney. He’d do the same for Connor, too but Charles mostly ignored him. Lucky bastard. So yes, Philip. It was frustrating as hell to be Charles’ bitch but if didn’t do it Charles would destroy him and possibly involve Whitney to really make it sting. Of course their father would never let her fall too far. Just far enough so Lex would be wracked with guilt over whatever had been from her. This wasn’t her fault and he’d sworn long ago he wouldn’t let Charles drive a wedge between them. “Do you think I need you to school me on how this looks? I haven’t been playing hide and seek with Chuckles all night because he’s a fun guy. It wasn’t my idea to bring her as my date but I didn’t want to piss her off. And when I showed up at Dani’s house and saw her in that dress… I mean, game over. Don’t try to tell me you would’ve walked away. So, did I pass your stupid little test?” Lex took a long drink of his whiskey. He didn’t really feel like adding Philip to his list of enemies. Between Jackson and Charles, his plate was full.

“You failed miserably and I’m bored now.” Philip said, rolling his eyes. “You still haven’t seen the big picture but if daddy’s mad about a dress I can’t wait to see when the truth comes out about Dru. The fall out when everything comes together will be splendid.” He did a perfect chef kiss, as he picked up his drink. “I’ll be seeing you around Lex and I’m sure I’ll be seeing Dru as well. Try not to keep her out too late. We have a date tomorrow night. She likes her rest before she jumps on another pony. Oh and Lex your miscarriage with Dani was tragic it truly was but it made way for two little bundles of love. That just has to sting she had a boy and girl off the bat with Jackson Devonshire.” Philip walked past Dru and Zerick pausing as he winked at Dru. Picking up her hand he kissed it. “I hope he isn’t harping about the dress, I think you look ravishing Ms. Price. I do think we need to have another meeting of the minds and bedroom soon. Why Zerick I didn’t see you there being all insignificant and small. I guess not being Lowell’s and his sadistic and hedonistic brothers made you more docile. It’s commendable if it wasn’t so sad. Dru if you want the true heir to the Montgomery’s my father groomed him from birth to be his replacement until he well turned on him for a place at the Devonshire table. Now tell me, is the food good at that table now that you’re nothing more than a lap dog for Jackie and nothing to DGI?” Philip chimed in as he watched Dru enjoying every moment of this. Folding his arms he stared at his rival. “This isn’t going to end well for both of us being interested in Dru. Considering I know all about Dru won’t you back down while you can. You’re not man enough for what is coming so batten down the hatches and do what we know you’re best at, losing. Lose with some dignity because that clown doesn’t even know he’s fucked too.” Nodding at Lex.

Lex watched Philip leave. What a dick. He’d always been a little crybaby. He mocked Philip in his mind repeating his line about the fallout being splendid. He really thought he was onto something. As long as Jackson taking a hike was part of this fallout, it was fine. “I’ll be sure to let Gia know where she can find Ronan’s little plaything tomorrow.” He glanced around the room for Dani and Jackson and wondered where they were. If they were off somewhere having a quickie before the show. Something the old Dani never would have done with him but with this new side to her, he could imagine it. His stomach churned at the thought of Jackson’s hands all over her. He’d fucked up. He’d admitted that over and over but how long was he going to have to pay penance? He was getting anxious to have her back. Philip could go ahead and rub it in about those kids. Let him have his fun while he could because soon Dani would be his again and he’d take those kids too. Teach them what a loser Jackson really was. He’d be doing them a favor saving them from this fucked up family and they’d return the favor by making him look good to Charles. He pulled out his phone and texted Dani knowing he’d never get a chance to talk to her tonight. “Hey, You ok? It’s not like you to be late to an event. If you need anything lmk.” He looked up as Dru returned, leaning back in his chair and slipping his phone back in his pocket. “Too bad Philip had to slink off. Probably overdue to brood in a corner somewhere. I got you another cherry,” he said, winking at her as he held up the fresh glass of whiskey. He pulled her close so she was standing between his legs. He held her gaze as he lifted the glass to his lips to drain the whiskey. “But you’re going to have to come get it this time.” He caught the cherry between his teeth, pulled the stem off and flicked his tongue out to catch it, waiting for her to come for it.

Dru leaned in and slipped her tongue in his mouth taking the cherry and also letting her tongue massage his. As she chewed the cherry she looked back and could see Ronan, Zerick, and Philip all staring at her. She took Lex by the head and be damned to them all. Dru slipped her tongue in his mouth and began to kiss him letting them all see. She was in control. This was her show and by the time of the final act all of them would be scarred. “I have some business to attend to, meet me at the car tonight?” She didn’t wait on a response; she sauntered away.


After having their fun at the bar, Lex and Dru split up. He’d stopped to talk with Mason and Julian, about work mostly. Both men were too polite to bring up Dru in this setting but they had to have seen her. Who could miss her. Julian might mention it later, when they were alone. He must have sensed Charles was a shit father after working with them closely over the years and often tried to counsel him. Julian was the only person, besides his mother, that he didn’t want to disappoint. The one person whose approval meant something to him. If he knew about the way he’d lied for Dru tonight… well, Lex didn’t want to think about the way Julian would look at him. But knocking the wind out of Jackson’s sails had been cathartic and hopefully productive. Finally Jackson Devonshire wasn’t winning. Then there was the run in with Dru’s lovers. Philip seemed to want him out of the way but it wasn’t up to him. Nor did Lex feel the least bit competitive. Not like he did with Jackson. And if that wasn’t enough, two of his terrible life choices were parading around the room. Skye and Maggie. He was shocked that Skye was still in town, let alone attending the summit. He hoped Dani didn’t see Maggie. Would it bring back memories of their breakup? Was it possible for Dani to get over that? Spotting Ryan and Whitney across the room, they were alone, thank god. He grabbed a glass of champagne as he made his way over to them. The three of them had done a lot of fucked up shit over the years. Partying, drugs, sleeping around. But they also kept him sane. They were all he had after their mother died. Connor, too but he was younger and didn’t usually run around with them. That was a good thing given his basketball career. Even if Charles was handing out bribes to keep him on the team, he was a good player in his own right. If Connor ever found out he would be gutted. Him and Whit sheltered him as best they could but was it enough? To hear Charles’ version, it wouldn’t be. Nothing was ever enough for him.

“Fuck me. I’m ready for this party to be over. You look beautiful, Whit,” he put his arm around her shoulders, careful not to spill his champagne as he kissed the top of her head and squeezed Ryan’s shoulder. “Let’s sneak out and hit the club like we used to. I’m fucking suffocating in here. Please. Don’t make me beg. Do it for old time’s sake. One night’s not going to kill you. We’ll tell Miles we’re sick and the nanny can take care of him and Morgan tomorrow. And no talk about you know who. That fucker ruins everything. I’m sick of all his election year rules. We need a break. I deserve a break. The only rule tonight is no one says his name. You know if you say it three times he materializes and steals your soul.” Lex sipped his champagne as he looked at his sister and brother-in-law. They were staring at him, like they wanted to say something but didn’t know how. “What? Why are you looking at me like that? Oh, let me guess, Dru?” What else could it be? They’d seemed a little stiff earlier when he introduced them. He narrowed his eyes and shook his head, downing the rest of his champagne. He wasn’t expecting judgemental looks from the two people closest to him. Sympathy maybe? They had to realize the kind of stress he was under with the custody case on top of the usual barrage of bullshit. They should understand that he would need to let off some steam. Were they seriously going to give him grief about this? “You two are supposed to be on my side. Alright, whatever it is, just say it. We’ve never held back with each other before. Don’t start now.”

Whitney had been making the rounds in the room with Ryan solidifying her place as Anderson’s running mate was exhausting. But it was what was required if her, her nerves were starting to ease from the custody case and she had meant to talk to her brother about it later. Perhaps there was a middle ground she and Ryan could reach with Jon; she knew Jon wasn’t a bad person; the entire situation was beyond anyone’s fault or blame back then. She looked around the room and like her husband had been in utter shock at Lex and his arrival. The woman was half naked and she was pretty sure she saw their father pop a blood vessel. It was made worse when Ryan glanced at her like he wanted to fuck her they had agreed to be faithful at least until the custody case and election was over. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and then they slightly narrowed at her brother when they approached. They’d always had each other’s backs but in this case she would agree with their father. She took a sip of her champagne. She knew that he was still hung up on Dani but did he need to bring obvious trash to the event? She supposed it was better than Maggie but still. Showing up with a woman half naked in an election year was sure to set off a tidal wave of rumors with the press and make their father look atrocious, not to mention embarrass the family.

“If you wanted to win dad any points bringing the half naked woman that is Jackson and Dani’s nanny to the Energy Summit where he is going to get onstage and back DGI and its hosts probably isn’t the way to go about it. I mean why couldn’t you invite someone like the cute paralegal at the office, or the law clerk that you were looking at the other day at the courthouse. I had at least hoped you be over this phase of the ladies and wanted to find someone at least new and respectable.” Whitney said looking at her brother wondering if she was being too harsh or not, it wasn’t that she disliked the woman he did bring or anything like that. The optics were just fucking bad and she already knew how the press would spin this another one of Lex’s outrageous women on his arm, she would have liked to think that after Maggie and then his little fling with Skye he would be over the embarrassment and trash phase. Not to mention over Dani, who had moved on and married Jackson they had kids together. For a brief moment she wondered if in fact what they all needed was a night to let loose but with the election and custody case she knew that wasn’t going to happen. “Hate to bust your bubble but we can’t. Too much is at stake with Miles and this election with Anderson.  Lex we do have your side but next time don’t bring someone half naked and you wouldn’t get the stares.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not trying to win points for that son of a bitch,” Lex said feeling a good buzz from the whiskeys he’d had with Dru and the two glasses of champagne that followed. It hurt that Whitney was giving him shit over Dru like everyone else here. If she wasn’t careful she was going to turn into their father. No doubt he was trying to mold her in his image. The narcissistic asshole thought no one could possibly do it better than him. Plus he could still pull the strings behind the scene and pretend he was mentoring Whitney. “But it sounds like you are. You’re actually taking Charles’ side. Really embracing that Daddy’s little fucking princess role now that he’s passing the torch to you. That’s the difference between us. You are always so eager to make him happy. Both of you ass kissers. I know I’ve had my sleazy moments but are you going to pretend Ryan here isn’t at least as sleazy as me? And you married him.” Really? She wanted to talk respectable? Him and Ryan weren’t that different. They’d both screwed Skye. That’s what she was getting at when she said someone new. Someone not like Skye or Maggie. “Someone like Dani, is who I should have brought? I am trying to get her back, Whit, so hard. You have no idea. How am I supposed to date a nice girl if I’m just going to have to dump her once Dani comes around?”

Of course she wouldn’t risk daddy’s image by leaving early. He’d been under so much pressure lately, he just wanted to let loose. Spend a few hours without his life revolving around Charles. Or everyone else for that matter. “You know, Whitney, you were fucking rude to her when I introduced you. After everything I did for you. Do I look like a family law attorney? Have you ever known me to specialize in family law? No. But I did that for you. I spent hours upon hours reading the fucking Pennsylvania domestic relations statutes and case law. In addition to managing a full caseload for Julian. Cases that I went to school to handle. Playing Charles’ shady ass personal attorney was not my ambition in life. I slept on that shitty leather couch in my office at least three times. And I didn’t complain. I’d do it again, too, because I love you and I love that kid. Did I get a thanks? Hell no. What did I get? I got this douchebag here,” patting Ryan on the chest. “Saying ‘bro, you need to take this seriously’,” he said in a mocking voice. “I annihilated Jon Harrison. I mean, was that serious enough for you, bro? Like did you actually think I was going to let you and my sister down? Or lose Miles to that GI Joe motherfucker? Thanks for the vote of confidence, dickhead.” Lex finished off the rest of the champagne in his glass and deposited the glass on the tray of a passing waiter. It felt good to get that off his chest. It had been eating at him since the hearing. Even though he wasn’t getting an ounce of gratitude, it was still his personal mission to protect his nephew. If Charles did anything that could be considered good, it was instilling in him the importance of family. Plus his mother loved that little boy so much. She lit up whenever he came into the room even on her worst days. He’d do anything to see her smile at Miles like that again. “But you know what? I still got you because if Jon Harrison even looks in Miles’ direction I’m going to take him down again. I will have him crying in the corner of a padded cell if he tries to see Miles. Do you two deserve that? I don’t know. You’re being jerks right now but I’m going to do that for Miles and for Mom. I think the least you can do is support me bringing Dru to this stupid energy summit. You can tell Charles to go fuck himself, just once. I didn’t even want to come tonight where I have to watch my girl on Jackson Devonshire’s arm.”

Ryan felt an abundance of pity toward Lex and a heaping amount of pain radiating from him. From his childhood until he blew it with Dani he was perfect. He hadn’t had a slip but his fall from grace was huge. This is why they see him throwing a temper tantrum at this moment. An obvious call for attention of the asshole he thought he didn’t want to impress. The cold and callous way Charles moved Whitney in his spot and claimed her as his new favorite was heartbreaking. The Walker’s would never do what Charles did; he had three other brother and each one of us had our place. His parents despised Whitney but at this very moment he never loved her more. She was a devoted momma bear and she wouldn’t stop until Miles was safe. Lex wanted to go to a club but Whitney was about to be Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania. Meaning second in command of an entire state she couldn’t be seen galavanting at a club. However it could be good press to show her letting her hair down and enjoying a night out. Lex was brilliant even in a drunken state. He was clearly intoxicated and that wasn’t a good thing. Lex could be the most calculating guy in the room or the biggest mess. He was always like that his emotions were always his greatest weakness. To be honest he knew Ava hated that Lex was forced to follow his father’s footsteps.

“Best friend please don’t do this.” Ryan said leaning in. “Don’t give into your bad side because Dani is already disgusted by you bringing that girl. Did you see how she looked at you two when she saw her pawing over you? You can make her jealous but don’t lose focus. Stiffen up Lex because even if you don’t like it we are a reflection of Charles Hessington. So what we will not do is further cause a scene. What’s done is done and tomorrow we will deal with the backlash or fallout but tonight be on your best behavior Lex.” Ryan looked out of the corner of his eye and saw Charles making his way across the room. “Secondly.” He posed and smiled at the media as pictures were being taken and Greer LeClerq was walking with a reporter from The Chronicle. “Secondly we will figure this out with Jon. It won’t look good if you destroy Jon Harrison no matter how you cut it Lex. He’s a pillar and asshole or not Jon is and will regain his place in this town. Hating him feels good now but when he wakes up and sees that this town has his back. I’d hate to be us and Jon won’t be the one coming for us, it’ll be the people who love and cut for him. So dismantling him may not work the way you are thinking Lex. So we all have to figure this out together. While I never plan to let that man near my son it might be right to save Whitney’s campaign and the image of the Hessington’s. Especially when we are invoking Ava’s image for this ball I hear.” Ryan said calmly, wrapping his arm around Lex.Leaning in and whispering. “He’s coming.”

Charles looked at Whitney, Lex, and Ryan all conversing amongst themselves. He felt a pulsating rage to throttle his eldest child. How would he one day pass on the B-Agency to him? How was he ever to trust him when he brought a woman covered in a strategically placed napkin covering her body. She was stunning but the girl screamed trouble and wearing such a dress at a event it was a travesty. An embarrassment of riches and he would vocalize how disappointed in Lex he was. They’d moved their family to Atlas Falls for one thing and one thing only. To finally help him regain Dani and eventually get what they wanted out of those pathetic Fraiser’s. Now he was galavanting this clearly troubled nanny in front of Dani’s face. How was that going to win her back? It was infuriating and he felt a need to tell him just that. As he shook Ryan’s hand he saw Lex was semi unsteady on his feet. Then he hugged his daughter tightly commenting on how much she looked like Ava. When it came to his son he pulled him into a tight hug and whispered. “You disappoint me more than any of my other children.”

As he pulled away from the hug he smiled for the camera as Greer LeClerq pointed at a photographer to get a picture of them. “I have raised you to be the best of all of my kids. You are one of the smartest. You have a vigor for life and yet here you are failing the most. A law degree doesn’t make you powerful Lex, it’s your cunning and how smart was it to bring a fucking harlot like that one here? Where we will be no doubt the talk of the evening. She wanted that though? That girl is trouble not only that she’s what I’d like to call a negative factor. A unforeseen complication that has popped up and all I ask is for you to be the fucking best.” Charles smiled as he waved at a waiter to bring him another drink. “Now Whitney will have to brace questions about your obvious sex life and how does Dani feel about your fucking her nanny after she’s dealt with you over and over again. Oh Lex, how you choose to fail me is incomparable. Whitney and even the dense and clueless Connor do as I say. Connor’s image is relatable, Whitney is a mother and a damn powerful woman but you are a just a fuck up. If I could go back and have another son I would. However I’m stuck with you Lex and I expect you to do what needs to be done. I expect you to be the best. I expect you to do no less than dismantling Dani and Jackson’s relationship. You know what is on the line. I don’t have to keep reminding you Lex. You have to do this for our family because everyone else is doing their job. Ryan isn’t fucking every woman he sees while Whitney has ended it with her love Bode a good man. You see people sacrifice and I expect you to do the very same. Whatever that was tonight, fix it before I snap her neck into many little pieces. I have no use for that girl and neither should you.”

Lex watched Charles stroll up to them. That look in his eye was unmistakable. It felt like he was watching in slow motion, a sense of impending doom washed over him as his father shook Ryan’s hand and then hugged Whitney. Oh, Charles was coming for him but he was going to let him squirm first. He tried to think about Dru’s tongue in his mouth a few minutes ago. Her body pressed up against his. He’d grabbed her firm ass as he returned the kiss and in that moment he would have thrown her on the bar and fucked her in front of all these people but fortunately for him she’d walked away. Ryan was trying to talk him down off a ledge and everything he said was true even if Lex didn’t want to hear it. What he wanted was to rage against his father and fuck everything up for all of them. He would brush himself off and walk away. Pick up where they couldn’t find him. But Whit and Connor couldn’t do that. Definitely not Miles and Morgan. And he wouldn’t let any of them be his replacement. At least Ryan had given him a chance to compose himself as Charles made his way over. When Charles grabbed him, he returned the hug for show. Fucking Greer’s goons were everywhere. When Charles spoke to him, low so Whit wouldn’t hear, he actually let out a laugh. He shouldn’t have done that but at this point Charles’ methods were so obvious it was ridiculous. And of course, he was tipsy.  “Why don’t you come up with an original line, Chuck. That one’s been used to death. Kind of lost the sting.”

Then Charles started in with his pompous speech. He’d like to show Charles a fucking negative factor. He was a literal fucking pimp and he was going to talk about Lex having affairs. He wanted so badly to say it out loud. Just yell it in this ballroom and let it echo so everyone in town heard it over and over and would know how despicable Charles was. He was so sick of hearing about that disgusting B Agency. But he couldn’t say a word because one, Whitney, Ryan and Connor didn’t know and two, Chuckles would annihilate him. He’d forced him to move to Atlas Falls by making it so no one but Julian would hire him. Charles had made Julian an unsuspecting pawn and that pissed him off. Julian was a good guy and not in the boring, pathetic way that guys like Mason and Hunter were. Bringing Lex to Atlas Falls was small potatoes. Charles had proven how much control he had over Lex’s life. What Charles giveth, Charles could taketh away. And more. He stood there and took it as Charles railed into him. He tried to steel himself for this. Remind himself he didn’t care but this bastard just cut through him every time. Nothing he did was good enough and it hadn’t been in a very long time. “Did you ever once stop to think that maybe you’re the disappointment? You can keep your lame insights and fucked up motivational speeches. I’ll concede that I had a minor lapse in judgement but you’re blowing this out of proportion. I’m not even fucking her,” He said, as if that was going to help his case. He wasn’t going to tell his father about their arrangement and certainly not Dru’s entanglement with Zerick, Philip and Ronan. Charles would be livid if he knew all four of them were fucking around with her. That shit had to be like fight club. “If you’re so worried about Dani’s feelings why’d you bring Maggie?” And he damn well knew she was here to do his bidding. Maggie was one of his favorite ‘employees’. “Seeing her isn’t helping your grand plan.”

A sinister smile lined Charles’ face when he mentioned Maggie. She was longing for her freedom so she was here working for just that. She was almost done and seeing his son’s blatant rage made him feel oddly proud. At least he was brave but he had to stomp out that flame. He had to make Lex understand everything he had was given to him. He loved the taste of victory and this would be an easy win. Get the girl you screwed over back. Don’t bring the obviously troubled nanny to the biggest event of her life. Try not to flaunt who you were fucking in her face. If he wasn’t they soon would be, he could deny it all but he was intoxicated by her. Wasted off her sex appeal whomever that vamp was she wasn’t here to play with babies that was for sure. She wanted something and oddly her play would have been respected if she wasn’t with his son. Jackson was weak and honestly he’d ruin his marriage with that whores help. Everyone was buzzing that Jackson was fucking the nanny all he had to do was stay out of the way. He knew why this was important; they were after something monumental. Something that would lead America possibly out of dealing with other countries for a period of time. It was revolutionary.

“I do what I want because I’m cleaning up your mess son. I told you to get Skye out of Atlas Falls didn’t I? Oh she’s your favorite though? Isn’t she? You love the tragic flawed messes including Dani.” He looked at his son’s face sour and get even more furious. “Oh.” He let out a chuckle seeing how furious he was with his words. “Did I strike a nerve? I’m not worried about that stupid girl. I love nothing about the Fraiser’s haven’t I told you that millions of times? You actually though wrapped your feelings inside of that relationship. Your sister has been best friends with her and I hate that as well. To me the Fraiser dull anyone they are around but I know you understand why I want you and that damn Pub to be adjacent to them. If they ever get a clue what Wolfe boy did. Well let’s just say they wouldn’t have been poor for all these years. I have done my work to make you the best at everything. Why do you keep failing me? Why do you keep making me so sad that my first born who I used to depend on. Is nothing more than a damn mistake waiting to happen. Now you know my sins and I know yours but I don’t lose and I can’t imagine that you continuously losing is fun for you. Fuck her senseless tonight and then move on to Dani. Get her back after all these years the Devonshire’s are more close to what I want than us. It’s disgusting and I refuse to let it continue. I’ll get rid of him one way or another.” Charles fixed his tie watching Whitney and Ryan looking perfect together. “They are beautiful. Happiness is beautiful and maybe call me a um old piece of shit but if Dani makes you happy Lex. Get her back, this vengeful pathetic version of you isn’t fun at all.” Charles said barely above a whisper.

His mess. Lex couldn’t help it, he rolled his eyes. “And you’d do otherwise if you weren’t supposedly cleaning up my mess? I did everything you asked. Just like I always do. But somehow I’m always the fuckup for doing it.” Whatever buzz he had going on was gone now. Nothing could sober a person up like Charles Hessington. His father had so much shit going on, it was getting hard to keep track. He was in so deep. Too deep. If he wasn’t careful, he could be implicated in any number of things. None of which would be easy to extract himself from. Like Skye, who he did feel bad for and apparently hadn’t hid that well. He’d tried everything he could think of to get her to leave, everything he was willing to do, at least. She was too stubborn to leave. Or stupid. “Skye’s a hot mess but she’s already bowed out of the custody case. I don’t get why you’re hyper focused on her. Let her burn herself out. She’s not a threat.” But with Dani it was different. His father knew very well he’d struck a nerve because he had loved her the very best he could. She had run straight into Jackson’s arms. An addict, a party boy, an all around fuck up, something they had in common except Jackson had finally come out on top. That was thanks to Dani, though. And when he got her back, Jackson’s fall from Grace would be delicious. “What would mom say about your feelings, or lack thereof, towards Dani?” He asked sarcastically, knowing his mother might be the only person Charles truly cared for. “Dani’s overly attached to Devonshire. If she thinks I’m out to destroy her marriage, she’s going to shut me out. Seeing me with Dru allows her to let her guard down and since Dru’s close to her she can talk me up. Whatever Dru has planned, I’ll look like her unwitting victim and I’ll be waiting to commiserate with Dani when it’s all over. Meanwhile, everyone thinks Jackson’s after the nanny. Dani won’t be able to ignore that. Not after what happened with Maggie. She needs to see I’ve changed.” He told his father in an effort to what, win him over? Show him he wasn’t out here flapping around in the wind. But what would it feel like if just once he felt his father’s approval. The better question was why was he even thinking about it. He shouldn’t care what this asshole thinks.

Lex looked at Whitney and Ryan. They looked happy enough and he supposed they were. He didn’t doubt they loved each other but this wasn’t exactly their choice. Charles had engineered their happiness like he was pushing for Lex to seduce Dani. “Yeah, they look perfect. You’re a regular fucking Cupid, aren’t you? Let’s be real, relationship advice isn’t your forte. Last time I had Dani, you told me to fuck around behind her back and she left me. This time, stay out of it. And stay away from Dani. I know what needs to be done. How I get there is my business.“ He was sick of losing. That was a fact. And he was in a downward spiral of it lately. It had all started when Jackson Devonshire sucker punched him at the pub. Lex didn’t believe in luck. Things were going to turn around because he’d make it happen. Dani wouldn’t slip through his fingers again. Charles would get the pub. They’d all be inconceivably wealthy. He’d finally have another chance at happiness with Dani. If only his mother would be here to see them back together, it would be perfect. “The Devonshires’ reign is coming to a slow, agonizing end and it’s going to die with Lowell. The second he’s gone, the in-fighting will destroy them from the inside. None of them trust each other. Jackson lacks discipline. Chauncey has a one track mind. Max isn’t in the running. And Rory, what does that kid even do? They can’t stay on the same page long enough to come together let alone start overturning old stones. I will fucking handle this. You’ll get what you want and so will I. Now, don’t you have a ribbon to cut?”