3×12 “Heavy Is The Crown”

3×11 “Heavy Is The Crown”
Written by: Chris Coleman, Kristi Clark and Kelly Zollo
Theme Song: Heavy Is The Crown- Daughtry
Warning: Episode may contain violence language, graphic sex and sexual situations.

Gia lingered in a dark corner at the edge of the elaborately manicured gardens of the Devonshire estate. The entire place was sparkling and twinkling so it was fortunate she found this little spot where she could hide from prying eyes. From this vantage point she had an unobstructed view of Max who was chatting with Sebastian and her decrepit father. Ronan was inside the mansion living out his fantasy of being accepted into high society. He would never be like the Devonshires of the world. They’d take his money and use his connections and pretend to like him but they’d never see him as a legitimate denizen of their world. Max got everything she wanted while Gia was stuck in this ménage à plus de trios with Ronan who fancied himself as some sort of gentleman gangster. She’d left Hector inside with him, lest he take that little barmaid off to a secluded spot and fuck her brains out. She’d seen the way he looked at her in that dress. The one that left nothing to the imagination. That kiss she blew him. So much for being discreet. Hector hated babysitting Ronan and it’s what he deserved for questioning her authority previously. Changing their plans like she had brought out the whiny little bitch in Hector. For that reason she’d volunteered to give up Sebastian, temporarily, as a show of good faith because Hector thought he was a distraction. Now Ronan was making her look like a fool. They’d been so good together in the beginning then he’d broken her heart when he rejected her. She wanted to hurt him in return, but all in good time.

Right now, she was enjoying the view of Sebastian’s firm ass in that well tailored tux. She never said she wouldn’t admire him from afar. He always did fill out a tux in all the right places. She imagined taking his clothes off. Piece by piece. Running her hands then her tongue over his hard chest and those abs. His pants, dropping to floor and exposing that sexy Apollo’s belt. Sebastian wouldn’t have said the things to her that Ronan did. He wouldn’t have fucked every whore in town. But now he was infatuated with Max. She watched as Sebastian pushed the old man out of the courtyard, leaving Max behind. Out of habit, Gia moved stealthily but Max also appeared to be lost in thought and didn’t seem to see her. “Hello, Max,” Gia broke the silence as she came to stand before the other woman. She regarded Max’s swollen stomach. Pregnant with her lover’s child. Max was a man stealer but Gia couldn’t do anything about it at the moment with her promise to Hector. “I’d say lovely to see you again but it’s not really. Hector tells me the casino is coming along according to plan,” Gia said, making the point that she was now firmly established inside the casino. It still rankled her that Max had pointed that out and Ronan played dumb until she’d demanded to be included. Ronan was playing games with the wrong person. “Remember when you said Ronan was freezing me out? Turns out it was just a little misunderstanding. I would be there if I could, naturally, but I have so many irons in the fire and with this baby,” she said lovingly stroking her stomach and she smiled. “Well, I’m not taking any chances. Make no mistake though, if Hector’s there, I’m there. I know he can be a little much sometimes but he is unwavering loyal. Whatever he sees, I see. And lately, he sees you working some very long hours. I don’t think that’s good for the baby, Max.”

Max and her father had left the study inside the mansion and she pushed him through the party to look for Sebastian where she  did the best thing told him she had a moment earlier in the evening and would like to move on. He didn’t look thrilled with that answer but it was the only one that she could offer him and she was pretty sure that her father had wanted to irrupt in some weird advice session between her and Sebastian. Only for that to be thwarted when Sebastian offered to take her father for a walk when Madelien had appeared out of the blue. She had smiled happily at the distraction a little too happily if she was honest. She needed a moment to collect her thoughts and feelings, she had come to terms with her father’s impending death now more than ever and she steadied her breathing to not burst into tears all over again at it. Then there was the pesky other bit Sebastian wanting them to move onto a fucking farm and live out some farmer fantasy with the baby. She would have to find a way to navigate that she didn’t want to be married at the moment but she also didn’t want Sebastian with another woman too, besides she already felt like all his attention was already on their unborn son. So was the rest of her family and she heard the bushes rustle behind her wondering if it was one of her siblings instead she starred at Gia Falcone the woman that had kidnapped Sebastian for Jackson’s entire wedding that week, bitch had a lot fo fucking nerve.

“I didn’t realize that Ronan brought trash with him tonight, but I mean between yourself and apparently my brother’s nanny his options are pretty bleak after Brooke dumped him. If you are looking to kidnap myself or Sebastian tonight you really should rethink your strategy y mother upgraded cameras in the house and we do have a full security detail in place. The casino is coming along swimmingly without your involvement of course it’s so nice to work with Ronan I’m not sure what use you would be one it.” Max said looking at the other woman almost like she was bored with her. Was the show with her pregnant belly supposed to make her feel guilty for working and having a career? That was fine if that is what Gia Falcone aspired to be a baby maker for one of the most dangerous men in the east coast and Atlas Falls but she had her own plans that didn’t involve staying home ad being a doting mother, that was what a full time nanny was for. Her child would be provided for and cared for, of course she would love it as well but she was going to forge her own way even if that meant taking a step like Rory and starting separate from DGI as a whole, Sebastian could sit back and play house if he wanted. “I have a feeling Ronan doesn’t want you near the casino. It’s where the real people play and work. What is it that you do again other than pop up to stalk Sebastian every now and again?” She thought about Hector spying on her and almost laughed that it was none of Gia’s business what she did or how long she worked or the state of her pregnancy was concerned. “Your concern is so sweet but I assure you the baby I am carrying is totally healthy not that is any of your concern or that of your little leech. Sebastian is so excited for our son to be born. I wonder if Ronan feels the same way, I mean you are birthing the demon spawn.”

“Allegedly kidnapped. You, of all people, should know you can’t fling accusations like that around. Sebastian is so dramatic. He likes to play innocent but he knows what he did. He preached love and acceptance and goodness then he fucking judged me. He tried to make me someone I’m not. As if I was unworthy of him. He has to learn to be a better person. No one’s perfect. I mean, you? You’re not such a good person are you, Max? You got pregnant by a man that doesn’t belong to you. You allegedly shot your ex lover. Philip Montgomery, right? That was so naughty.” Gia’s eyes sparkled as it dawned on her that she and Max might be more alike than they were different. Max had taken extreme measures to deal with her unsavory lover. Sometimes there simply was no other way. But most people didn’t have it in them and that’s what sparked the realization. “I don’t have any friends besides Hector. I do have a sister but she’s crazy. I can’t talk to her about any of this. But you and me? We’re more alike than you’d like to admit. We’re driven to succeed and we’re trapped with men that don’t respect us like they should. They’re holding us back. Ronan’s probably fucked every tramp working in that casino by now. And if I know Sebastian, he wants you barefoot and pregnant. Like his nosy old bitch of a mother.” She knew all about Sebastian and his family and their outdated ideas about motherhood. While her own mother bucked tradition, she’d seen plenty of women easily fall into those traps.

“I have a secret. I made a deal not to talk to Sebastian. He’s not good for me right now. But we could be friends. The stars aligned to bring our babies together and we’re a part of that. We could even share Sebastian until I have to take him back.” Gia leaned in and sniffed Max, thinking about how close she’d just been to Sebastian. “Oh fuck yes, Max, I can smell him on you,” she moaned, her eyes rolling back in head. She and Max had three things in common. The babies, the casino and Sebastian. Max was the next best thing to actually having Sebastian herself. “Tell me about the last time he fucked you. Do you think about me when he takes his shirt off?” Gia asked, thinking about the scars she’d left on him that night. She wouldn’t admit what she’d done out loud because she didn’t know if she could completely trust Max, yet. But Max knew what she was talking about. She looked at her sternly as she thought a bit more about this. There would have to be some rules to their friendship. Max could say whatever she wanted about Ronan but calling her baby the demon spawn? That was unacceptable. “Of course, you’re going to have to stop insulting my child. I won’t stand for that. How miserable do you have to be to attack an innocent baby? What kind of mother are you? I would never say something like that about your baby,” Gia reached out and touched Max’s stomach without a thought that Max might not like it. Concern spread across her face, wondering if Max was some kind of monster.

Max looked at her like the bitch had literally lost her mind on what planet did she think they were going to be fucking friends let alone pregnancy partners? She honestly wasn’t surprised that she didn’t have friends the woman by all accounts of what she knew was that she had a few screws loose to begin with.  Kidnapping Sebastian had been one of the biggest red flags but she also knew that she also dabbled in the transportation of drugs too, and with everything her twin had been through she wondered if he’d ever used her product. “You need better sources. What happened with Philip was a complete accident we all agreed on that hell myself, Bliss or Hunter were never charged or even brought in on charges. We’re you actually arrested something about drug charges and dealings, it should have been kidnapping too.” Max said glaring at her how dare she insinuate that she was anything like her it wasn’t like she had kidnapped Philip, she had wanted answers for his strange behavior and his locked jewelry box that was Veronica’s. She had brought a gun as a backup just in case someone crazy was there like Scarlett she didn’t even use it Hunter had seen things escalate and then before she knew it Philip had been shot.

She knew very well what Sebastian was wanting her at home on his little farm that he had bought and her being motherly left and right to their child, he wasn’t going to get that. She was not moving the middle of the outskirts of town to the old Thorpe farm what in the hell was wrong with the current penthouse, it was roomy not exactly baby proof yet of course. Plus it was super close to the DGI building downtown and she looked at Gia. “Of course he’s not good for you right now, he’s engaged to be married to me and you’re pregnant with another man’s baby what did you think was going to happen. Not that it is any of your business when the last time we fucked was he’s very satisfied. We don’t think about you in the slightest or at all Gia.” Max said lying easily enough when it came to when the last time she and Sebastian ahd fucked was, it had been a few weeks but she attributed that to her pregnancy and working on the casino fulltime. In truth she did often at times think of Gia and what Sebastian had to endure there was that hideous scar from Gia’s torture on his torso when she ahd touched her belly a sense of dread had overcome her and she slightly began to shake before she pulled back out of Gia’s reach. “It’s quite rude to touch someone while they are pregnant without their permission, not that you have anyone in your life that wants to remotely do that other than Ronan. “I don’t think our children will be friends or that close Gia as for what type of a mother I will be Hopefully a better one than you can aspire too.” Max spat at her she was one to talk about the type of mother she would be.

Who did Max think she was talking to? Never charged isn’t the same thing as being innocent. She couldn’t trust her if she wasn’t going to dish on the shooting. How were they going to build a friendship like this? Afterall, you don’t take a gun with you if you aren’t planning to use it. What a fortuitous accident. “Mm, an accident? I know about those. Accidents, untimely deaths, tragic isn’t it? I lost my last two husbands to terrible accidents. Well, the second one was poisoned. That probably wasn’t an accident. Very messy, all the puking and foaming at the mouth. Anyway, fuck Frank. God rest his miserable soul,” Gia said, crossing herself lazily as she rolled her eyes. “And fuck Philip. Who needs them?” She sensed Max’s reluctance to accept the fact that they were very much alike. Except in one way. from everything she heard Max was not going out of her way to take care of that baby. It was one thing to want to hold onto your career. Gia herself was a career minded woman. Cartels don’t run themselves. It was another thing to take liberties with her health and this close to their delivery dates. She supposed she could have Hector help Max out here and there. Maybe learn something useful. Ronan couldn’t be trusted to tell her everything that was going on. She could show Max that a friendship with her was exactly what she didn’t know she was missing. Who else could she talk to about Seb? Not Hector.

Here they were again with that kidnapping nonsense. Max didn’t understand Sebastian. If she did, she’d know he liked it. He’d practically begged her to kidnap him. That’s why he’d screwed her over on those vineyards. What he needed was a woman to take charge and not let him get away with shit. “Max,” Gia groaned, rolling her eyes back in her head. This also wasn’t very productive for building their friendship. “My arrest was a big misunderstanding. Wrong place at the wrong time. Like you with Philip. I’ve heard so much about you being the wicked bitch of Atlas Falls. But you’re boring me with these kidnapping accusations. I already told you, Sebastian’s a bad person and bad things happen to bad people. Maybe I should have Hector explain that to Sebastian since the two of you insist on blaming me for the consequences of his sins. Would you like that? If I handled Sebastian for you so you can go on doing whatever it is you want to do? Well, too bad. He’s your problem for now but don’t forget that I own him. That means you and I are going to be friends for the time being. Like it or not. I think we’re going to have fun. Unless, you fuck Ronan. That won’t be fun for you.”  When Gia had put her hands on Max’s stomach she felt her tremble and she looked deeply into her eyes, studying her while moving to close the gap between them again. “What are you afraid of, princess? Worried I’ll see past the perfect veneer, straight into your rotten soul?” Gia took Max’s face in her hands, her thumbs stroking her cheeks as she spoke. “Let me tell you what I see. A selfish bitch who has never put anyone above herself. Not even her own child. I don’t think you want that baby, Max. And after you fought so hard for Seb? What’s he going to say when you don’t fall in line with his plan?  Don’t be scared, Max,” Gia smiled at her, their faces still close. “You have me.”

Max wanted to roll her eyes at the woman in front of her of course getting the Philip shot was a mix of bad time and circumstances. It’s not like she or Hunter had shown up to actually shoot him; he was acting irrationally and they had all reacted. There was something very dark that she felt when Gia approached her again and a shiver had went up her spine this woman was clearly unhinged and off her rocker or her fucking medication. She wasn’t one to ever cower to another female in any case ut in this case in particular telling her how to behave with her own pregnancy when she needed to stay in her own lane was enough that Max was tired of her long tirades and fake concern for her or her baby. She wasn’t stupid she knew when a woman was after her man and as much as this woman was protesting and clearly having Ronan’s baby she thought she could just latch onto her to keep close to Sebastian. Sebastian had warned her plenty of times about how dark and dangerous Gia was but she really had given it no care until now and she pushed Gia back before backhanding her hard across the face seeing her flying backward gave her an odd sense of satisfaction since she had just said that Hector wasn’t around.

“I’m afraid of nothing and no one, especially not you and your vapid little wet dream of having me as your best friend forever while you side eye my man. You see I’m the one carrying Sebastian’s little heir and your simply stuck with Ronan who judging from the looks of it is lusting and or already probably fucking my brother’s nanny. Meaning you get to stay home at night lonely. Don’t you ever come near me again Gia or I’ll show you just how far Devonshire’s are willing to play. You may have friends and your little guard that you have watching Ronan but I have money and plenty of it.” Max said seeing the security posted in the gardens approaching them cautiously and she held up her hand as she saw her father and Sebastian in the distance closest to the stables and she decided she would make her way to them. “Stay away from me and my child Gia or I swear on my life and yours you will regret it go back to where you came from whether it be New York or the psych ward I don’t really care.” Max said before turning on her heel before walking away hoping that would be the end of Gia Falcone in her life and that of Sebastian’s too.


After she’d excused herself from Greer and Brock, Maddie headed outside. She’d timed the conversation, determined to beat the 30 min limit Chauncey had smugly given but failed. She’d lasted 13 minutes and she’d only made it the last 5 out of sheer stubbornness. When he’d mentioned shopping at Men’s Warehouse, she was out with a look of sympathy towards Greer. He’d simply gone too far. He was so dry and uncultured. Even worse than the scholarship kids at AF Prep. Imagine plodding through life as a clueless Fraiser. Humility was for losers. She was in the garden, chewing her bottom lip and pacing around the paths that cut through the boxwoods in the parterre garden. Out here, she could mull over her encounter with Natasha alone while she waited to ambush Lowell. That crafty bitch had played her hand well. The smart move was to shut up and take the L, which Maddie did, eventually. Probably should have done it sooner. Chauncey and Natasha would get their apologies, even if she was apologizing for pointing out the truth. Natasha’s would be fake, of course, but she’d appear appropriately contrite. Since she was apparently leaving the party early per Warden Chauncey, she’d have extra time to strategize. Time to break out her worn copy of The Art of War. Natasha thought she’d launched a fireball but it was about to fizzle out. She’d already texted Wyatt and informed him he’d be hanging out at the house every day. Wyatt was one and done but Maddie still had Greer who was worth a thousand Wyatts. Natasha was trying to fight a forest fire with a garden hose. It was clear that both Chauncey and Greer were still harboring feelings for each other. She brushed thoughts of that aside as she saw Max and Sebastian pushing Lowell up the path towards her. Max looked beautiful in blue though it was still odd to see her aunt pregnant. Max had been her confidante for years now but she’d never considered her motherly. She realized that she would be the only one with memories of Lowell. Fox might remember a little, DoJo wouldn’t and she didn’t know how much time he’d have with Max’s baby.

Maddie was certain her grandfather had deteriorated since she’d last seen him a few days ago. He’d become frail and weak. Hardly recognizable as the outsized man she’d grown up with. Now that he wasn’t living with them, seeing the accumulated changes every few days was more jarring. A wide smile spread across her face as he noticed her coming towards him. The expression belied the sadness and fear she felt watching him waste away. She understood why Jackie had sent him packing but Maddie missed him. She missed his presence at their family breakfasts and their talks the most. There was a strange sort of emptiness around the house now even if no one else appeared to feel it. “Hi Grandpa. Sorry, Seb but I’m commandeering this vessel,” she said, taking over the handles of the wheelchair. She leaned over her grandfather’s shoulder and kissed him on the cheek as Sebastian and Max departed. “I heard you’re making a little speech tonight. I promise to get you back with plenty of time to prepare but for the next 20ish minutes, you’re all mine. And no DGI talk. Violations are going to cost you. Louboutins are still my favorite form of currency for fines and bribes,” she teased him as she started pushing him down the garden path. No matter the outcome, someone she loved dearly was going to lose the thing they wanted most. It would either be her dad or uncle Jackson. Judging by Chauncey’s mood and what Natasha said, he thought it would be Jackson. She preferred not to think about it until it was inevitable. For now, she wanted to enjoy her reunion with Lowell in this house where they shared so many memories. She saw him often but having him back in their house for the night reminded her of happier days. “The party’s boring and the guests are all dull but that’s only because I haven’t seen you all night.”

“Well, well, well if it isn’t the most beautiful girl at the party!” He patted Sebastian arms as his granddaughter took over. Out of all his children his eldest had honored him the most and never knew it. You see Madeline would no doubt run DGI one day. Brilliant with those perfect blue eyes and enough attitude to take on anyone. By Chauncey giving him his grandchild he knew DGI would be okay. Maddie wouldn’t have it any other way. Accustomed to traveling at a spur of a whim, to Paris to see a painting. Or attend a fashion show Lowell mind drifted off when he sent Maddie and her friends to the couture shows in Paris. He had her first row because this girl was special and he snickered at the Louboutin comment. Lowell remembered when Jackie brought her back with the MaryJane Louboutins from Renards. She never took those shoes off until ballet. He sat up straighter because he couldn’t have her last memories of him looking dead. Not being the lively man she’d always have in her memories. He pulled out a cigar and smelled it as he looked at her. “You won’t tell on me considering I’m already dying.” Lowell immediately regretted his words looking into Maddie’s eyes. “Madeline it’s no secret beloved. I’m sorry I’ll tone down the dark humor. Grandpa has to cope with looking like this. Everyone thinks I’m just a corpse but I still have my brain and you my beauty. Oh Maddie I don’t know if you’ve heard this before but you are my favorite grandchild.” He laughed as he looked at her. “It is also because I helped raise you. Not only that but I can’t really have a conversation with Fox and DoJo? Isn’t that what you call them?” He snickered at the nickname.

Clearing his throat he looked at Maddie taking them toward the stables. “Exactly where are we going young lady? I don’t think Thunder or Rose need tending what’s going on? And are you still riding? Polo and equestrian that in my opinion will get you into Yale. I wanted Chauncey to go to Yale you know that? He went to California and met a certain beautiful woman and the rest was history I had my favorite grandchild.” He teased as he looked at Maddie. “I won’t get to be at the big events of your life and I am so sorry. I want to see when you eventually takeover DGI and I also want to see when you get into all the Ivy’s you want. Hell I wouldn’t be surprised if every Ivy accepts you from your merit alone I hear you maybe running in the class presidency. Maddie you are a marvel kiddo and I’m scared for the world.” Lowell laughed and clapped his hands. As he looked at her. “Promise me one thing though. You’re living this perfect life my dear as the perfect heiress.but promise me you will live a fun life as well. Not just being an adult before you’ve even been a child can you promise your grandfather that?”

“Your secret’s safe with me,” Maddie grinned when he pulled out his cigar. “In fact,” she stopped and came around to take the lighter and light it for him. She watched him puff on it a few times, satisfied that it was lit. “Now we’re co-conspirators so I can never tell. It’s even better than a pinky swear.” Things like that were hard for him to do physically now. The muscles in his hands were weak and he hated feeling helpless. She’d never let him ask for help if she could prevent it. She would do anything she could to allow him to maintain his dignity. She squatted down beside his wheelchair, as she listened to him. “Of course I’m still riding. And still wiping the polo field with those boys. I haven’t been out there long but they all know I have the biggest balls on that pitch, already. Give me a few more months and everyone will be calling it Devonshire Field because I’m going to put our name so far up on the leaderboard it’ll never come down. You know Yale’s my first choice. How long have I been talking about it? Since I was like 12? I decided to apply for early admission as soon as I can. You’re the first to know. I haven’t even told my dad.” When he apologized for not being there in the future, it caught her off guard. She did want him there when she received her admission letter, to accompany her to Connecticut, to watch her play for the Yale Polo team and graduate. She needed his experience and advice about DGI. It wasn’t fair that she wouldn’t have him here for any of that. Her eyes felt hot with tears that slid across her cheeks before she could stop them. He would always be with her. In her heart if not in spirit but she wanted more. “That is nonsense. You’ll be there for everything because if anyone can find a way, it’s the great Lowell Devonshire. I have all the faith in the world in you. You’ll be there and you’ll find a way to let me know,” she told him as she wiped her cheeks and blinked back the tears that still threatened to spill. She held his free hand with both of hers. She didn’t know if she believed that but she wasn’t ready to let go. She didn’t want to talk about him not being around. They’d have to talk about it one day, just not now. “I’m not ready for this conversation. We still have so much time. Tonight is about celebrating your legacy so no more tears, ok? After tonight you’re going to have tons of free time and I plan on making a nuisance out of myself. You should probably rest up. DoJo might even be your new favorite precisely because they can’t talk,” she teased and squeezed his hand before she went back to pushing him towards the stables.

The last few feet gave her a chance to compose herself. “I hate to break it to you but I’m over being a child. For all intents and purposes, I’m already an adult. Age is just a technicality. Another year… ish and it won’t even be that. I could make a very strong case that I’m more capable than half of the adults in this town. However, I can promise to have fun. Like we always do. Remember when you taught me to drive the wake boat last summer? And I took out the public dock? You have to admit those few weeks without all the townies on the lake were nice.” She laughed as she stopped at the entrance to the stables. “OK, are you ready to meet the new man in my life? And don’t worry, it’s not Wyatt,” she patted his shoulder as she pushed him down the long row. “Wyatt likes you, though. He had fun playing poker with us.” One of the grooms pushed open the sliding door of a stall and clipped the stall guard in place. The dark bay horse let out a little nicker as he moved towards them. “My newest polo pony. He’s from Argentina. He just flew in yesterday so I’ve kept him here to recover from the trip. The massage therapist comes tomorrow to treat him. Then I’ll move him to the country club stable with the rest of my string but I wanted you to see him.” Maddie stroked his muscular neck as she watched him move his nose over Lowell, checking him out. “You should help me name him. What does he look like to you? It seems fitting since you’re the reason I fell in love with riding. I miss riding with you. I miss you. I know I shouldn’t say it but I hate that you’re not here with us. Who can I talk to? My dad, yes but he’s not very sympathetic when I’m complaining about him. Even when everyone’s here, it’s lonely without you.” She pushed him over to the lounge, parking him beside a chair so she could sit beside him. She hugged him, laying her head on his shoulder. “I don’t want to make you feel bad but I don’t want you to leave.”

Lowell looked at the horse and Thunder and Rose were her babies but seeing her get a new horse made him proud. Tears welled up in his eyes as he listened to Maddie speaking. So many memories were swirling. His heart swelled as he listened to her reminisce on the past. She kept saying how he had more time. He didn’t. In the next year he’d miss so much. Max’s child’s birth, Bliss’ new baby, he’d never get to see Belle or Rory have children or marry. Even though he saw Rory prepose he promised to speak to his son. He didn’t want him marry someone out of spite and seeing Yasmine run out of the grand ballroom didn’t make him feel good. He refused to let his sensitive son go down this path. He had loved out of spite and it destroyed people. Honestly he could say he had so much love for the young woman before him. Hearing her say she was basically an adult made him wince. No she wasn’t, she’d always be his favorite grandchild. A princess for him and Jackie to help raise after messing up with all his children so profusely. Maddie was so important to the family she made them all bond again at one point. Jackson was sober at that period and with that damn Esme. That woman was a poison to his family and honestly he was glad Jackie and he handled that. It was her who tore his sons up even more when she came between Chauncey and Jackson. Biting his lip he wiped his eyes as he looked at her wiping his face. As he looked at the horse he smiled he looked at him wondering what type of spirit it would have.

“Looking at him well, that gives me two names I could think of. He seems stubborn and I also see he has a wild streak about himself. A little temperamental but always wants to win in a competitive space. Then no name fits this horse better than King or Napoleon. It’s an intuitive thing I’ve always had with horses. You know almost every Devonshire rides all except me now.” He said jealousy remembering the rides that meant something to him. Jackie and he in Jamaica or Tess and he in the Spanish Rivera. Or teaching each of his children but Belle to ride. She learned in Europe with her other father. How he resented that bitch for taking that chance from him. Yet who was he fooling? Another bastard he’d have to tell Jackie and maybe Tess gave him more years on a marriage he took for granted. “I don’t want you to think that I’m giving up on you. I also won’t let you have false hope Maddie. I may not be here tomorrow but I’m always with you here.” He touched her heart. “We have cultivated one of the most impressive kids I’ve ever seen. You’ve always been the apple of my eye Maddie and I know that you will one day be the ruler of this planet. It wouldn’t surprise me but you have a lot of time for that kiddo please just enjoy when you can be young and carefree because once the worries start they don’t stop.” As he looked at Maddie. “So King or Napoleon?”

She watched him with her horse and heard the edge in his voice when he said he could no longer ride. This disease would take everything from him before he ran out of time. That was the ultimate nightmare for a man like him. He’d always been full of life with more than enough energy to keep up with her. Always made time for her. There was no such thing as being too busy. She’d spent countless hours following him around the DGI offices and she never tired of it. “Reminds me of someone else I know,” Maddie flashed a smile at him, thinking one could very easily describe her grandfather in the same manner. “No wonder he drew me in. I like to think I inherited some of that intuition of yours and a few other things. King or Napoleon? It’s tough, both are strong choices. But… King reminds me of playing chess with you in the summers in your study. And you, always reminding me the queen was the most powerful piece on the board. I swore you were really talking about me and it made me feel like I could do anything. Back then I thought I was a whiz but I’m pretty sure you let me win a bunch of times. Polo is a lot like chess, isn’t it? Skill and strategy win the day. So, King it is.” She always imagined honing her business acumen at DGI, learning from her Grandfather and Father one day. She’d miss out on all the things he might have taught her. But maybe he’d been teaching her about strategizing all along without her realizing it.

Maddie put her hand over his, when he touched her heart. “For the record, I’ll never get tired of hearing that I’m your favorite so feel free to tell me every time you see me,” she told him with an impish grin. “But I’m the one that lucked out, having you for my Grandpa. I’ll alway try to make you proud. And one day, I’m going to sit in your office and carry on your legacy but in the meantime, for you, I swear to be young and carefree and have as much fun as I possibly can.” She took both of his hands and swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. “I know there’s no miracle cure and I know we don’t have forever. But I can’t imagine the world without you so I’ll never stop hoping for one more day. And I won’t waste the time we do have,” she told him through misty eyes, trying to smile for him but it felt off. She wiped a stray tear away before wrapping her around him. She hugged him carefully. It felt like he might break if she squeezed too hard. Resting her forehead against him, she squeezed her eyes shut to prevent a new wave of tears. A few sniffles betrayed her before she could fight them back fully. Kissing him on the cheek when she finally let go. “So, if I show up on your front lawn in a helicopter, you better be ready to go on an adventure. Speaking of an adventure, I better get you back to the summit before they send a search party. The whole town is waiting for your announcement.” She paused, hesitating for a second. “I know I said no DGI business but… my dad will be ok. I’ll look out for him. Now you promise me you’ll go home after the speech. I don’t want you to overexert yourself. It’s been a long night.”

“This is the last hurrah of me my dear there is no way I’m not going to exert myself.” Lowell said proudly. “I’ve been saving up for tonight and I think everyone will walk away with what they want. Your father included he might not know it right now but he’s about to be just as powerful but unfortunately he won’t see that just yet. Titles don’t mean a damn thing you all must band together Madeline. I’ve made a huge enemy and listen to me you all have to stop fighting and fight together. This is no longer a competition my beloved you all must remember family before all. DGI is your legacy, take it by the reins and never let it go. You understand me when it’s your time to show them all what you’ve watched from your grandfather and father. When it’s your time, decimate them all Maddie. You are the best of us all. I want you to know that.” Waving his hand he looked at his granddaughter as a caretaker appeared. “Enjoy King, I believe that you will be a smashing pairing. I do also approve of the other pairing I’m hearing about. Young Wyatt Kincaid has quite a jaw and is very intelligent. I foresaw Dylan Fraiser though as close as you two are. But you’ve always seen the power structure and hierarchy of our life crystal clear. That just isn’t acceptable.” Lowell teased as the caretaker rolled him off.

Maddie playfully gave him a stern look but quickly broke into a smile and finally her tinkling little laugh bubbled up when he refused to take it easy for the evening. “OK,” she conceded easily. “I guess you’ve earned that.” Her father coveted the CEO title whether her grandfather thought it important or not. She worried it would reopen the old rift between him and Jackson. Suddenly she felt guilty for using that rivalry against him earlier. Especially after devoting so much energy over the years to bridging a connection between them. It had been a cheap shot that she knew would sting on this of all nights. She hoped Chauncey would allow himself to be open to whatever grand plan her grandfather had put in motion. She waved as his caretaker rolled him inside, a flurry of emotions running through her. It made her smile when he’d mentioned Wyatt but their earlier discussion still weighed heavily on her heart. He was dying and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. This wasn’t news but now the physical effects were painfully obvious. Watching him disappear inside, she battled the urge to chase after him and steal a few more minutes. Instead, she took a seat on the antique marble bench Lowell had purchased years ago for the garden. It was quiet now as people had moved back inside towards the stage to await the grand finale of the evening. She fought against a wave of tears, trying not to wonder how many more of these conversations they would get to have.


Honestly he had lost track of how long he had been in jail he knew it was at least a week or two maybe more. Time seemed to just jumble together behind bars and his ribs were still healing from the last time he was out in what he knew now was called the general population. He didn’t even know who had actually attacked him though he was pretty sure it was someone from the Scottswood neighborhood but then again he didn’t recognize the tattoos on the arms either. All he knew it landed him with two broken ribs and a trip to the infirmary for a few days. He had resigned himself to his cell looking at the grey on the walls to remind himself what he was doing this for. For Bliss, Fox and their unborn baby to spare them all from the pain and torture a trial for Dimitri’s murder would bring. When the bailiff told him someone was here to see him he resigned himself to the cuffs and the long walk back down to one of the interrogation rooms. What more could the good police detectives of Atlas Falls want? They already had a full confession from him and he saw the door open and Lex Hessington walk through he gritted his teeth.

“What in the hell do you want? I have an attorney who is a good one at that. One that isn’t chasing after fame, a past flame or whatever else you thought you could take from certain people coming to town.” Hunter had never been able to tolerate the Hessingtons and had been a bit taken back when Charles agreed to mentor Anderson and he still remembered Jackson knocking Lex on the floor over Dani. Not to mention Mason had filled him in that Lex was working the charity with Dani as if he cared that much about charity work. Anderson had told him Lex was still hung up on his best friend’s wife. He doubted it would happen this fantasy that Lex thought he would carry out in his head. “I’m serious Lex we don’t have anything to say to one another and if my mother hired you I’ll have words with her too. Mason is my attorney you see I have friends in high places, best friends and since Mason is too polite I’ll give you some advice. Stay away from my family which now includes the Devonshires and especially my best friend’s wife. Charity work? That was the angle you went with?”

Lex had sobered up as best he could in the car ride over. He’d removed his tie, ditched the jacket and opened a few buttons on his shirt to get comfortable. Charles was really getting to him and he had to get his shit under control. Taking that out on Whitney was uncharacteristic and he felt like an asshole. So when Charles sent him on this errand, to fetch fucking Hunter Kincaid out of the hoosegow, he took the out even though it was insulting. He couldn’t stand Anderson. Too much of a do gooder not to mention he was Charles’ little protege and now Whitney’s running mate. Anderson was infiltrating their lives on several fronts. But Hunter was on another level. Hunter with his 2.5 kids, his perfect little wife and the white picket fence. This motherfucker was leading the life Ava had envisioned for him and Dani. He was pretty sure the house he and Bliss had bought was one that Dani and Ava had favored when they’d been scouring the real estate sites. That fairytale seemed meaningless now that he’d lost both his mother and Dani but he still hated the sight of this guy.

“Good?” Lex made a face like he was weighing the possibility. “Ok, I’ll give you that. Mason’s good. He wouldn’t be working for Julian if he wasn’t but Mason’s too principled to be a really great attorney. Case in point, he let you rot in here. He could have gotten you out but that would have required a certain finesse that goes against everything Mason stands for.” He leaned against the wall opposite from Hunter with his hands in his pockets. The yellowing bruises on his face and his posture, he was favoring his side, told the story about his time in lockup. Mason and Julian had mentioned the beating Hunter took but it looked worse in person. Lex wanted to laugh. “I thought you were Mr. Popular. Looks like your new gangbanger posse doesn’t like you very much. Was it that KKK shit?” He whispered. “You know I’ve represented a few of the guys in here. I could have told you they don’t really like that kind of thing. I mean, probably half these guys owe me a favor but Mason was too proud to ask for my help. He should have at least lobbied to have you put under protective custody from the beginning but hey, maybe it’ll finally give you some character. Add some color to those boring old stories about Lacrosse and the country club mixers.” And there he goes about Jackson, Dani and the charity. Was there some kind of rule that every citizen in Atlas Falls had to throw Jackson in his face? “The charity, Hunter, happens to be for cancer patients, like my mother. I’m working on this charity so amazing women like Ava Hessington don’t continue to succumb to this horrible disease. Something you wouldn’t understand because your mother’s a lush whose big claim to fame seems to be bedding founding families of Atlas Falls. Does she have a checklist? How many are left? She’d better hurry up and bag Lowell or she’s going to miss out on a Devonshire.” Lex pushed himself away from the wall he’d been leaning on and clapped his hands together, ready to get down to business. “You might want to be nicer to me Hunter. I’m about to be your best friend. I have a present for you and no it’s not a prison boyfriend to watch out for that tight little ass of yours.”

Hunter leaned back a bit in his chair folding his arms. Honestly, why couldn’t the Hessington’s crawl back to their side of the state and stay there? His poor brother had to wrap himself up around Charles finger after that shit with the photo that Philip had let out. Then again Anderson was never squeaky clean he proved that when he bedded Talia and had a few other mistresses namely Natasha being the recent one. Cleaning up the family name was something his mother insisted on and Anderson was happy to oblige it seemed. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Rumor in here and in certain political circles you’re not as squeaky as you’re trying to flash around. Goes for your sister too like didn’t her husband fuck my ex-wife was that before or after she and Ryan fully adopted Miles?” Hunter said, eyeing Lex up and down and he could swear he almost saw him about to pop a blood vessel. He hated the Hessington’s Max’s affair with Ryan had been heartbreaking for him and the moment he realized they really would never work. “Then there is yourself like didn’t you abandon the woman you claimed to love for my trashy cousin? As for my mother, at least she’s alive.” Hunter unfolded his arms and leaned forward on the table.

“You couldn’t have had Whitney run the charity? No, I have a feeling there is more to it than just the ‘for my mother’ spiel you keep saying. Let me break it down for you Dani married Jackson and had the twins with him, from what I understand she didn’t even look back in your direction when she left. A blip on her radar, that has to sting doesn’t it? She came to town and found Jackson chose to devote herself to him as his wife, not yours. Let’s just say this I’ll have no problem standing by again if he beats you to a pulp and probably buy him a drink after.” Hunter said flashing Lex the fakest grin he could he may have taken his licks in jail for Bliss and his family but he still had Jackson, Mason and Simon’s back and always would. Mason was too damned polite to cause a stir seeing how he worked with Lex at the law firm but he wasn’t besides Donovan and Jolene were his nephew and niece by blood. They were just as much family as Wyatt, Poppy, Fox, Maddie and his unborn child with Bliss were. “Since you seem to think I need your help, what are you here for? It’s almost dinner time and lights out and a shower.” Hunter finished his side, bothering him a bit when he took a breath; this was almost worse than Jon and Devin grilling him at this point.

“Whitney, as you very well know, is in the midst of campaigning. With your brother on the ballot she has to do the majority of the work which doesn’t leave time for the charity. Dani and I have made amends with the past and we’re moving forward. I think we’re even becoming friends again. It’s a very healthy, adult relationship. Unlike Jackson’s jealousy fueled rants. If you want to help your brother in law, I suggest you get him into an anger management program before he hurts Dani. Encouraging him to assault me is juvenile. I know you’re used to enabling Brenda but you might want to try a different approach with Jackson,” Lex returned the fake smile. All of these naysayers were going to eat their words eventually. He wasn’t one to back down in the face of adversity. Every time someone reminded him of what he lost, it made him want to fight a little harder. Hunter would hear about the recent gossip, including tonight’s special guest, Dru, soon enough. He’d leave that little surprise for Hunter to clutch his pearls about later.

“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news here but you’re going to miss shower time. And just when you were getting good at picking up the soap,” Lex waved the guard over and took a step back to allow him to open the cell door. He smirked as Hunter’s expression shifted, trying to figure out what was happening. Hunter wouldn’t have seen this coming. A dirty back room deal with Charles to get him out of jail. Lex never believed Hunter had it in him to kill Dimitri Kavanaugh. He and Philip could agree on that. He was stupid to come barreling into the station with a false confession. If he’d conferred with Mason ahead of time, he might have been able to get Bliss off without Hunter doing time but he’d tied Mason’s hands. That hero complex was his Achilles heel. People like Hunter and Jon Harrison gave him the creeps. And now Walter had sold his soul to the devil on Hunter’s behalf. Surely sloppy drunken sex with Brenda wasn’t that good but it’s not like Walter Fraiser was going to get lucky anywhere else. “It’s not a trick. You’ve been sprung. Remember when you said you had friends in high places? Turns out you were right. They aren’t the friends you thought you had but you’re not going to worry about a few minor details are you? Come on, you earned your Boy Scout badge for taking a murder rap, now you’ve got a party to attend.” The guard brought in a garment bag, hanging it on bars while Hunter was processing what was happening. Inevitably Hunter would ask who got him out and Lex was waiting with baited breath to tell him. Hell, he couldn’t fault him. He’d also want to know who was pulling the strings.

Hunter looked at Lex. He was smooth the way he sidestepped questions without really answering them, something he learned long ago was political. Lex’s family wasn’t the only one that was involved in that game and his father used to play with the best of them. Charity work was just that charity work, mother or not and he frankly didn’t see Lex as the charity driven type at all meaning he was either placed there or begged to be there to cause a stir. “Sure Whitney couldn’t have handled the charity, keep telling yourself that imagine her profile if she would be campaigning and fundraising for the hospital charity at the same time it would catapult her even more. Her star would be so bright it would probably even outshine my brother in the race, no I think you were placed on the charity either begging your dad for scraps in a fantasy to get Dani back or he banished you there. As for Jackson that’s quite the accusation, that he’d psychically hurt Dani. I didn’t step in the first time you deserved it I won’t again. ” He almost sneered at Lex at the implication that Jackson needed anger management but instead chose to keep his calm he could let that warning go to Jackson later in private and it would likely horrify Dani at the absurdity of it.

He was getting tired of Lex’s games and annoyed only he was a little thrown when the guard moved forward to open the cell dooors and was frozen in place was this a fucking game to get him more time? It wasn’t like he had even faced trial yet not even an arraignment Mason said that would happen tomorrow or the day after but the door was simply open for him to walk through. When Lex started talking about friends he wracked his brain about who would have the power to do this get him out. His mother’s power was shot to hell after the photo of his dad came out, Lowell was sick and dying and as much as he thought Jackson would be CEO he didn’t have that pull yet. “Friends huh? Of course I’m skeptical about this entire charade you are putting forth I’m kinda curious about who pulled the strings though. I am going to worry about the minor details I’m facing a murder charge afterall that simply normally doesn’t go away because someone bats their fucking eyes.” Hunter said looking at the garment bag and he unzipped it to see the suit inside, the Summit Energy Ball was tonight he would likely be home before the big announcement or at least shortly thereafter and he looked at Lex. “So do you want to tell me who it is and leave me in peace or do you want to watch me strip and get changed too?”

Finally, they could get off the subject of Jackson and Dani. Hunter almost had it right, Charles had been the driving force behind him joining the charity ball but Lex would never beg his father for anything – as if he’d do him any favors anyway – and if Charles wanted to punish him for something he’d do far worse than banishing him to a charity planning board. Steve Kincaid wasn’t perfect but clearly he was at least decent as a father since Hunter couldn’t seem to fathom what a shitbag Charles could be. What was it about Jackson that inspired such loyalty? It wasn’t just a few people here and there but almost everyone he met. It seemed like all Jackson could do was fail and everyone loved this buffoon. If Dru came through maybe all of that would finally change. People would lose faith in his ability to change. Let him slink back off to whatever drug infested corner he came from. Atlas Falls had flourished without him before and it would again. He wouldn’t even be baited into a conversation about Anderson. Whitney was the far superior of the pair and he didn’t even know why they needed Anderson on the card. It was no doubt the product of one of Charles’ machinations and he couldn’t keep up with all the shit Charles was stirring up. Keeping himself from getting pulled under was his main priority.

“Hell yeah, I want to tell you. I thought you’d never ask,” Lex said grinning from ear to ear like a kid at Christmas. This might be childish but he wanted Hunter to know Mason couldn’t get him out of this. Mason would never admit he should’ve asked for Lex’s help, but really…. he should have. These goody two shoes attorneys like Mason were weak and pathetic. Julian shouldn’t be wasting his time on someone like that. “So, it turns out your mom must be rocking Walter’s world because he’s the one that lobbied for your release. Now we all know Walter won’t even lift a finger to help his own kids but here he is making the ultimate sacrifice for your dumb ass? And make no mistake, what you did… barging into the police station and making a false confession – and you’ll never convince me it wasn’t false – was phenomenally stupid. You really get off on this noble act don’t you?” Lex told him, unable to resist pointing out how Hunter was less than perfect. Though half of Atlas Falls was probably swooning over him riding in like the white knight to save Bliss. “Wait, it gets better. Brenda must really be fucking Walter good,” Lex feigned a shudder as he looked at Hunter. “That’s an image that’ll give you nightmares, am I right? Not only are you free to go but you can consider this entire Dimitri Kavanaugh affair buried. Finito. You’ll never have to hear that name again and the case is permanently closed. Let me remind you that Mason could never have achieved this. So get your little suit on because your perfect little wife is waiting to welcome you home. You want me to wait and give you a ride?”

Hunter looked at Lex when he mentioned that Walter had stuck his neck out for him and almost gagged at the grossness of it, Walter that had an affair with his mother and had a child with her. Granted his sister with Walter was fucking dead but still, ew not to mention his mother had been on Walter’s arm recently. Though he had assumed that ever since the wedding and that photo of his father dressed in those robes was released that their little romance was on the rocks again. “I did what was right for everyone involved. I’m never going to tell you one way or the other whether or not I killed or didn’t kill Dimitri. But I think anyone in the damned state who cares about women in general and consent can agree he was a rapist that deserved what he got, your dad included. I was there when Walter called him and you when Dimitri raped Tamara. Speaking of Walter. Ew, thanks for that image that will scar me for fucking life it was bad enough that they had a fucking child together behind my dad and Lauren’s back, didn’t need a second visual.” Hunter said almost shuddering towards Lex at the though and he almost laughed at him he could Uber a fucking ride if he needed he wasn’t going to be caught dead inside a car with Lex. “I’m good on a ride. I can call the Kincaid driver or the Devonshire one. Besides you probably have to slink back off somewhere.” Hunter said, looking at the guard as he moved around Lex to head towards processing.

He didn’t know why the entire situation rubbed him the wrong way to begin with when it came to everything with Lex or the Hessington’s but power people rarely did anything for free and seeing how Ryan fucked Max he had it out for the entire family anyway. He glanced back at Lex hoping he did slink off somewhere and just disappeared from what he understood that would be in everyone’s best interests but he also had heard that the Crestwood was here to stay in town too, Connor played on the basketball team so they were here likely to stay. That was fine they could it wasn’t like Atlas Falls needed them publicly in office they could have their pretty little Governor’s mansion. His mother could carry on her fantasy of fucking Walter if she wanted all he knew was that she wanted his mother and he Anderson or Brooke didn’t have to approve of her choices in men. He had a family he needed to get home with Bliss, Fox and his unborn child he just wondered how he was going to explain this to them.


Jon’s heart was pounding he hadn’t found her in any of the spare rooms. Which scared him even more it meant she was in the guesthouse. Why wasn’t she being found? He knew he was in the dog house and he felt like shit honestly. Maggie was disgusting for how she told Skye and the way he was emotionally wearing her out. He’d have sex with her and then leave. His heart was swollen with regret and it was beginning to feel bad. Pulling out his phone Devin and Merci had no luck on the other side of the house. How many damn rooms did these people need? It was ridiculous. As he walked back toward the ballroom he walked directly into Ryan and Whitney who were looking extra in sync smiling and laughing. Well they were until they saw him and he felt an instant regret for how he handled them as well. Looking around at Whitney he wondered if he could ask her. As he licked his lips he placed his hand in his pockets. “Pardon me.” He said as he looked at Ryan and Whitney.

“I was wondering if either of you have seen Skye. She came this way. I hate to ask you anything after how I have behaved. Before we continue the conversation can I say this about Miles. To me he is my son but I would be a fool not to see that all of the Hessington’s love that boy so much it’s killing you all that I’m doing this. I knew it was real instantly even Lex has his heart wrapped up in this but I don’t think I can do this much longer. Especially if I want to fix this with Skye and fix what I have done to her. So I’m backing off and when the time comes hopefully you’ll forgive me and let me have a space in his life. I’m not his dad, I’m just his father. You are his dad the man who will teach him how to ride a bike, his first sports game, and you two will be with him when the first girl breaks his heart. I’m not that and I can’t take that family from him. So I guess what I’m saying.” He cleared his throat. “What I’m saying is can I drop the suit? But also you know this mansion right Whitney? You were here, can you help me locate Skye? Whitney, do you know how big that is?” Nodding at the guesthouse.

Ryan held Whitney close as he listened to him apologize and his heart broke for the guy. He looked defeated and broken at this moment and he wondered if he contributed to that. Jon was an upstanding guy, the research showed that and he was a damn good cop. Somehow they were blessed to get Skye at a period of time she was lost. She needed help and they took a drug addicted baby and eventually naturally conceived Morgan which meant so much to them both. As he looked at his wife and saw tears in her eyes as she looked at Jon. He reached out to shake his hand and nodded his head. If at this moment he needed them to look for Skye they’d do it. He touched the small of Whitney’s back and he saw her almost speechless at his words.

“Jon, listen this never has been personal, it’s always been about our son. Whitney and I have to speak about your presence moving forward but we both think what happened to you was horrible. I don’t know about Whitney but I think I can speak for us both to say all we wanted was for it to be handled outside of court. I don’t want to be that man but if you are going to drop the petition for guardianship and claiming of our son then we can figure out your place. Do you hear me Jon but I didn’t spend much time in the mansion I do believe Whitney did growing up adjacent to the Devonshires. Sweetie you’ve been in that guest house before?” Ryan finished looking at his wife.

Whitney had left her father and brothers side to mingle the room with Ryan for a bit; it wasn’t a huge secret that Lex despised their father. She had meant to intervene or something but years of public training had taught her better a squabble at a party her father was presenting at was simply unacceptable. Had she reacted no one would come out unscathed if she did so she stood by silently. She knew better and also knew that her father was retiring meaning they needed the Governorship to stay in their family and she as lieutenant was the best they could swing. Despite Pennsylvania being a very blue state they still preferred their Governor’s male over female. She had often wondered if it was what she wanted. For so long it had been ingrained that this is what she was good at a society socialite with just enough ambition to run politically on an assist. Maybe her marriage would have been plagued by affairs and bouts of unhappiness if she had chosen otherwise. She and Ryan could have easily chosen a different path, retreating back to the logging empire his family came from to keep Miles and Morgan away from all the mess. Instead she was broken from her thoughts when Jon had approached them to speak to them and she honestly was a bit shocked at it all. Jon was a good person and she remembered their one night stand all those years ago even then he was upstanding and she glanced over at Ryan she didn’t grow up in this house or around it. Her father barely tolerated Lowell but due had attended a few parties there over the years when required.

“I haven’t seen Skye since earlier in the evening when she was with Merci at the bar. I know this entire situation had to be hard on you and her and we are truly sorry for that Jon. I think Ryan and I would be open to discussing the options with you and Miles accordingly Jon. We really had no idea until I ran that test after we slept together and even then I waited a long time to even open the results.” Whitney said her eyes avoiding his she had no intention of hurting him or anyone else. She had simply ran the test for a piece of mind when it came to everything involving Miles and his paternity. When jon asked about the guesthouse she shrugged, she’d been in it a few times but didn’t know it well her family had been on team Fraiser for years.  “Looking back I don’t think any of us handled it the best. We should have pushed more for Skye to confess and reached out to you and Jackson before adopting him. I don’t know much about the guesthouse. Honestly, my father and Lowell have never been that close. He picked a side years ago and stuck by Walter after all the crap that went down at DGI. Do you think something happened to Skye?”

Jon held his breath as he looked at Whitney and Ryan. “I have to find her.” He mumbled as he felt his chest swelling. He didn’t know why but like Merci he felt determined to find her. Jon was gulping as he swallowed a lump in his throat. Looking at the couple who was raising his son he started to head to the guest house. He could hear Ryan and Whitney feet behind him. It wasn’t something he wanted to worry them with but honestly he was scared. Skye was so fragile and he pushed her to this point. He picked at her and broke her down right along with everyone else. When he should have said thank-you for having the sense to be grateful for what she had done. At that stage knowing he had a baby he would have been hyper focused on that child. He wouldn’t have flourished after his treatment and that was the truth. As he walked down the stairs he looked back at Ryan and Whitney.

“Really you two don’t have to follow me. I’ll find her, I just am caught up in this feeling I got. I’ve been a cop for a long time and honestly I had a feeling about you two as well. I knew you both truly love Miles as your own and I can’t say I’m happy about the circumstances of how my child was given away. I wish I had more of a voice but I can’t act like this is Skye’s fault all the way anymore. I can’t punish her and I can’t hurt her anymore. I need to see her and explain myself. I don’t think this is smart telling you all this but I’m focused on finding her. I just think I may have ruined everything with most special woman to me. I’ve been in a dark place and I honestly don’t like who I’ve become. So I can say I’m sorry. I can say I’m stupid but I may have pushed away the love of my life because I couldn’t see. You ever been so blind? You can’t see what’s right in front of you? Until you may have ruined it?”

Ryan followed behind Jon and instantly was stricken by the man eloquence and honesty. Did Jon have to tell them what was going on or what he was experiencing? No he didn’t but here he was spewing his heart out. He could remember a time when he thought he was losing Whitney and she was going to leave him. How they hurt each other again and again. It was a tiring cycle and when he saw his affair with Max, and how he cheated with Skye broke his wife. Well he understood cleaning up yourself and finding out you might not have been the best in any situation. It was jarring and he could see that the man in front of him was determined to find her. If he had a feeling then Ryan trusted that it wasn’t good. So if they needed to help locate Skye he had no problem with it. Looking at Whitney he took her hand and kissed it softly.

“I’ve been there. I can honestly say that the universe placed us back together. Miles and Morgan came and it seemed to repair our relationship. We also opened our hearts to each other. No offense bro but you did bang my wife behind my back. It’s alright though Jon you were a pawn in our game. Look I think if you do the work then you and Skye can find your way back. I also don’t think I’m overstating, maybe we can all go back to the drawing board. You deserve a chance to know Miles and I know Whitney agrees in that. Skye had her place in Miles life and we all just need to take a step back you know but Miles will come later. Let’s focus on Skye huh? No marriage or relationship is perfect Jon.” He patted the man shoulder and saw Whitney reach out to him as well. “We’re going to find her okay?” Ryan for the first time almost gagged when he saw it. Jon had his son’s eyes and seeing this man in pain somehow triggered him. It was like seeing his son in the future hurting. “Um let’s go in even if Whitney and I have no history with this guesthouse but we know guesthouses were rich huh.” He laughed trying to break to ice.

Whitney oddly felt strange seeing her husband and Jon getting along so damned well seeing how she had slept with Jon. As much as she knew about Ryan and his various lovers over the years she didn’t really ever have to have them in her face on and off he was actually quite respectful about that hell even Nova herself he never threw her in her face. When Jon started to shrug off them looking for Skye with them a part of her became enraged, she wasn’t Skye’s best friend but woman to woman and mother to mother, she was still Miles’s biological mother and up until a few months ago had always been a part of his life. It wasn’t like she or Ryan didn’t care what happened to her they actually did and that was what made the entire custody case so hard and ugly for all of them. Even she knew that with Jon’s past with Skye this was bound to happen, he had been so focus don her best friend he never even thought to think of the woman that was right in front of him, did that make him a bad person? No honestly she felt bad for him and Skye who had turned to drugs to hid all that rejection that men had given her over the years, that led to her destructive behavior. That had been her biggest concern where Dani had been concerned when she learned it was Jackson too the drugs, for all the shit her brother did to fuck that up she only hoped Dani didn’t or wasn’t tempted by Jackson in that way.

“Listen before we look any further you need to stop apologizing for the past Jon Harrison we all made mistakes where this entire situation was concerned. Brushing off myself and Ryan though to act like hero you normally are, or to simply absolve us of any responsibility is wrong too. I know you don’t think that we care about Skye but that is the furthest thing from the truth. We do very much, up until the case she was an active part of Miles life and I will always cherish and respect what she did in giving him to us. We don’t want to see her hurt or back into old habits where she self destructs anymore than you do, okay?” Whitney said looking at Jon and she did mean that she respected that Skye had gotten her act together over the years and had been sober for a good part of it. At the time of her pregnancy she hadn’t been able to do that but now she could and had it was admirable. Sure she may of parteken in her youth and so had Lex and Ryan but none of them had gotten to the point of no return like Skye had. “So can you please tell us what you know that did happen so we can help you find her?”

“I didn’t cherish her. Look when I found out about Miles I reacted badly and I went down a dark path. I don’t think this is something that you all don’t know but I had a really hard time readjusting to civilian life until I found the police force. I was slipping back into that darkness and nothing could help me. Well I found comfort in having Skye near and I also found pleasure in hurting her. We were intimate in many ways and then I’d freeze her out. Or yell or just be plain abusive. It wasn’t me and I regret it but the thing I regret most is my treatment of her. So I guess the best way to say it was that the anger was so much that I needed someone close. I choose the absolute wrong person. I chose Maggie and we slept together and I wasn’t committed to Skye. I wasn’t with her but I led her to believe and I pushed things she didn’t want. She never wanted any of this. Then the kicker is my ex-fiance Cassandra Montgomery no doubt pushed her even further. We saw her on camera go this way but she hasn’t left. So I have to find Skye and tell her I’m sorry, I have to make so much right I don’t think she’ll be able to forgive me. I’ll spend a lifetime trying to fix what I did in these last few days, weeks, months. I have messed up so much and I haven’t handled it right. Whitney you can ask me to stop apologizing but I can’t. I also can’t tell you how much love Miles has. He has family he doesn’t even know and won’t know until you two are…” Jon stopped himself as he wiped his eyes. “You’re helping me find her because I don’t know how much a person is supposed to take.”

Hearing Jon’s words Ryan nodded as he stared at Whitney whose worry was starting to show through. Honestly it was a strange bond the four of them were developing. They all had been intertwined with each other and they all were going to eventually be a family. Miles would be bringing them all together. He nodded at his wife. “That’s more than enough reason to find her. Let’s go check out the gatehouse.”


Jackie didn’t know how much time had passed between when she had thrown the broken glass away upstairs before she made her way back downstairs looking for her son and his wife. She didn’t see either of them right away before Dani had appeared and shook hands with the hospital members that she had wanted her to before disappearing into the crowd again. She had hoped that Simon had gotten her message and together they could look into the pesky matter of Dru Price perhaps that would ease tensions, next year she would find someone else to do the fundraiser with. She had reached for a glass of champagne to calm her nerves so much rode on the upcoming speech and then Lowell’s presentation, which was to be followed by his passing of the torch their son. Lifting the glass to her lips she took a few sips grabbing some caviar off a plate as well before turning and looking around the room spotting Jackson wondering if she should go find out if the two had made up or not. She let out a gasp when she bumped right into Julian, before her body eased a bit and she looked warmly at her attorney. As devilish looing as he was, she saw him as a friend and a confidant even if Lauren insisted that she move on after her divorce from Lowell she wasn’t ready.

“Julian I didn’t see you there. I am so sorry hopefully nothing spilled on that gorgeous suit you are wearing.” Jackie said looking at her glass and looking for any sign of residue or liquid on his suit. She knew now that Julian had bumped into her checking on her son and DGI’s soon to be CEO would have to wait till later in the evening or the following day. She could have thought of a polite excuse to leave there was always that but she actually found Julian engaging and intriguing, plus in her experience no one liked a nagging mother too much and she didn’t want to come off like that in this case. The exchange had unnerved her, reminded her of so many arguments that she had with Lowell back in the day, at lest Dani had a backbone, regretfully she never did. It was far too improper she thought at the time or it was years of being married to Lowell that made her think that. “I do hope you are enjoying the party so far? I did happen to see Mason and Lex around the room.” Jackie finished pushing the thoughts of her ugly past with Lowell out of her mind, she was moving on which also meant moving on from Lowell.

Julian had been working hand to hand with Mason to ensure the freedom of Hunter. It had been a while since he had been directly at hands involved with a murder case let alone one this complex. With as many wheels moving in this case it was hard to believe that Hunter was in jail for this. The problem is if they cast reasonable doubt it would blow back on the Devonshire, Delacroix, or Fraisers. That was what Hunter was preventing and who he was protecting right along with his wife and their unborn child. Hunter was protecting multiple families from dealing with losing vital members that alone hurt him. Hunter was admirable and if he found it hard to return to work he’d hire a man like him. He would find a place for a man like him. As he arrived at the Energy Summit he saw Lowell and Jackie on opposite sides of the room. A piece of him felt his heart spread in excitement. She was starting to expand and bloom away from him. He mingled with a few people when he turned around and bumped right into Jackie.

“Well, hello lass you’re looking effervescent tonight.” He kissed her hand as he looked. “The boys are working the room which I wanted. Sad to say it’s always someone rich in some legal trouble and my firm has been catching some big fish lately. Including you, which was my pleasure to help.” Julian said with a smile as he touched her hand. “I have to say how you and Merci decorate the mansion and this place every time is amazing. I know you’re proud of all your children tonight is monumental change of guard. I think this deserves a toast and maybe a dance if you would do me the honor. I doubt people would believe this but I was trained to dance. My mother put me in dance class as punishment and right now I want to show off. So if you do give me the honor would you dance with me and make every man in here jealous of me. You see Jacqueline you are looking absolutely radiant and I think you should be shown off if you follow my lead.” Extending his hand with a semi-bow for perfect posture.

Jackie had to let out a light chuckle when he called her lass in that perfect Irish accent he had. It was charming and for a moment it made her feel young again. Her heart fluttered in her chest just slightly and her eyes glanced around the room again watching and looking. She reminded herself that she was not going to hover and her eyes caught Rory with Chauncey in the corner and she made a note to go check on him later as well. If he really wanted to marry Aspen he would not stand in the way of that, if it was what he truly wanted if she made him happy. The last time she had forced a relationship it had ended in a divorce, along with a break up and nasty ones at that. She would have to let her children make their own choices when it came to love and hope they did the best she put her glass down with a passing waiter and looked at the clock. There was still time for a dance or two before the big announcement and slides show that Lowell had arranged to happen and she needed to get used to life without Lowell by her side as painful as that was. She froze for a moment at the thought and as the reality hit her, it was close now she knew that after their last visit and she took Julian’s hand into her own as he led her to the dance floor. The soothing orchestra music filtered through the air and she simply smiled at Julian when he asked about the party.

“Well I am happy that my case gave your firm and uptick if you will. Even if I was extremely sad to do what needed to be done, there was only so much more I could take. I still love Lowell I probably always will but I simply couldn’t carry on the facade of it all anymore if that makes any sense? Especially after Belle.” Jackie said not wanting to lead Julian on but wanting to let him know she was trying to move forward the best she could after everything it would likely take time. She wasn’t sure who she was now that she was rediscovering her freedom apart from Lowell and her marriage being over. When he mentioned the mansion she let out a smile. “Merci knows how to transform a room. I simply give her a slight direction on which way I want to lean with it.  Before she came along as the party planner of the year I simply handled it myself when I look back the wonders she could have done at DGI past events. As for my children you have been quite supportive over everything since the divorce I attribute that to your nature. How did your children handle yours?”

Julian exhaled thinking about how badly his divorce went for one of his children. His son Niall was actually happy because he wanted his parents to be happy. They fought so much and it led to his children being so unhappy. While his daughter Clover absolutely hated it and eventually latched onto him even more. She moved in with him eventually and his wife had Niall. It wasn’t ideal but they made it work. Now his daughter was in Ireland and engaged to be married. Time had passed and they all were happy. Niall was still playing the field as a playboy but he was successful. Clover was working for Eternal Beauty, a lucrative cosmetic company based in Europe as an executive. “Well Niall was easy, he wanted to see us happy and I know that for sure. He was always a momma’s boy but I do know he wanted to live with me but Clover after the divorce took up space. She still is very invested in me and is a daddy’s girl. It’s crazy because I thought kids were supposed to grow out of that but she’s doubled down. You know she set me up on a dating site and picks my matches?” He laughed as he saw Jackie smiling as he spun her out of his arms and pulled her into a spin back into his arms.

“Listen, I don’t expect to erase Lowell’s presence in your life. I have said it time and time again. The time you have with that man, the love you have for him is more than a fleeting moment. You shared a lifetime. I do believe that life has an odd way of changing course for everyone. I don’t think I am overstepping by saying this Jackie but he may have been the love of your life in your youth. But I think I may if I have the chance to love and take care of you when you are at your best.” He saw her blush. “I don’t mind waiting. I informed you of that a while back and I don’t mind helping your heart heal. I don’t mind you not trusting me and me having to earn it. I’ll show you all men aren’t like your ex-husband. This is real Jackie, and I don’t think you’re ready for what I can offer you but you will be. When you are, I think we will be a hell of a team.” Dipping her dramatically, seeing Lowell being rolled up to watch them dance. “You are an excellent dancer, Jackie.”

Jackie was pretty sure the divorce had caused herself and her children impossible circumstances to overcome with Lowell. Even after the truth came out about Zerick she knew there was no going back life was sometimes funny like that. She wondered if some of the children thought that she was selfish for turning the other way she already had been told by the press she was cold hearted after the wedding, leaving her dying husband but she knew it was the best. Her own granddaughter she could tell wanted to say the same but if she knew what was good for her she would hold her tongue. Max and Chauncey were the same and she wondered if they thought she had given up too and would they resent Julian if they ever were to date down the line. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to date honestly even if Lauren seemed a little too happy in her mind to try and play matchmaker on the matter, her heart was still healing. Her children’s hearts were still healing in a way their father was dying and he had married a woman that they all knew that she simply despised. How did they reconcile that down the line when he spun her out and then back in she did smile her heart almost breaking remembering dancing with Lowell at Max’s wedding to Hunter years ago as her heart fluttered.

“It was a requirement back in our day in school dancing and well my father did love to spin my mother around a few times in the kitchen. I know it is about time is all Julian and how will they all look at me when it all over the caring mother who had enough and walked away or the monster that left their father in his greatest time of need? Are you closer to Niall or Clover? Some of mine pulled closer like Jackson and Rory while Chaunecy and Max seemed to sneer at me.” Jackie said looking at him and those deep blue eyes that were different from the brown ones she stared into for years on end. She felt her heart race. For a flutter of a second before she averted her eyes from him, seeing Lowell looking at them more so him. “DGI is secure where it needs to be after tonight and I am sure there will be bumps and kinks that need to be worked out. I would like to hope if anything legal needs settled, you can help with that too. Of course on retainer and be paid.”

“I think that would be absolutely a win for my law firm. Having a company like DGI underneath my belt would seriously put us on the map even further. I accept the offer Jackie and I would hope this partnership leads to things flourishing in all arenas.” Julian said as he smiled seeing Lowell and his caretaker rolling closer to them everyone seemed to be watching. It didn’t bother him at the slightest. What did bother him was that Jackie hadn’t seen that she was too good for the pain she went through. Did he understand her need to wait but had he? It was the double standards of society that infuriated him. Lowell remarried that vile woman right after the divorce was finalized and this was his punishment. Sometimes you throw it all away on a mistake and Lowell finally was learning this lesson in death. As he looked at her he could tell she was feeling overwhelmed. It was a moment that he wasn’t expecting though as he saw Lowell staring at them.

“Niall and Clover are very different. To be honest Niall and my relationship has grown tremendously since the last few years. I do believe that is attributed to his growth as a man. As a teen we clashed a lot because he resented me and Clover’s relationship. While Clover was and is my heart. She is stubborn, feisty, smart, and spoiled I confess. She doesn’t believe any woman is good enough for her father and I do believe she is incorrect. I think she hasn’t met the woman that continues to take my breath away.” He smiled as his eyes bulged out his head. This man was incredible and for once he felt the weight of who he was up against. Lowell Devonshire was confined to a wheelchair but he watched him stand from the damn chair. Hearing the gasps and claps people were watching the events. His eyes shifted to Greer who was eating this entire situation up. “Well, I’ll be damned Jackie, someone’s behind you.”

Lowell had been practicing for this moment for the last few months. His legs weren’t strong but they’d hold up long enough to do this. “Care to give this old man one last dance, Ms. Devonshire. Pardon me Julian but my ex-wife and I have some things to discuss and I do apologize, I don’t mean to intrude but Jacqueline.” He said looking at her almost in tears seeing him standing. “So if you don’t mind I’ll be cutting in.” Moving into their space he saw Julian moving back as he reached out to Jackie almost stumbling but she instantly stabilized him. He heard people gasp and he waved his hand perfectly to show he was fine. People clapped as he looked at his wife. “Shall we show these kids how we were always the most enviable couple in the room?” He gave her a mischievous toothy smile that she used to love. “Please.”

As he took his ex-wife in his arms he heard the orchestra swelling as the violins seemed to stand out. It reminded him of their wedding. “You know Tess is going to have a fit when she sees us. I however could give a damn about what Tess wants. Jackie when I die, it’s yours. Everything and the kids it’s all yours. I know you hate I me but look at our granddaughter, our children and this house. You helped me every bit of the way Jackie. You are the core of DGI and I want you to understand that. So for one moment before I die can I feel like I’m married to you again. I know you don’t believe this Jackie but I didn’t want you to see me like this. I hate myself, you know if I was able to I would have snuck off riding with Maddie. Or shared cigars with my boys but I’ve done so much. I hurt my children including the ones I didn’t raise. I didn’t do you or anyone right but I have been going through extensive therapy. So when I’m dying and my body is given up and all I have is my mind. I can have this memory so just oblige a dying man. Let me dance with the only true love of my life.”

Jackie looked over at Julian wanting to say something back to him and wondering what it would be she would say. Only instead to have her attentioned turned behind her and she watched as her ex-husband rose from his confined chair and reached out for her, it was like their divorce never happened and she simply accepted his gesture. Her eyes turned to Lowell and then cast a quick sideways glance to Julian who had simply started to retreat back into the crowd as the music began to play and the violins filled the air. It was almost haunting in a way and she simply nodded her head at him as they began to slowly dance the crowd disappearing. Her face did sour when he mentioned Tess, it always would she hated that woman. She knew that him leaving the company to the children structured how he wanted it was the epitome of what he was trying to fix with all his children and her eyes filled with tears when he mentioned that she would have a place too. She debated about telling him about the fight she had witnessed earlier for a moment and instead decided he didn’t need to worry about it. She would handle the fundraiser and especially Dru Price if her son didn’t first. She wished things where different that he had come to her with about his long term affair with Tess and about Zerick, she might have stayed,

“Please don’t spoil this moment by making it about her. I could care less about what that woman wants or thinks. You know that I support your decision at DGI Lowell, it is the right choice this time you and I both know it. You know the worst part? I would have stayed if you had just told me the truth about all of it Lowell, not continue the lie or affair with Tess. If you had come to me and told me about what Linus did to Katie but you didn’t you played martyr.” Jackie said her eyes watering as she looked at him fighting back the tears, she would not cry because that showed such weakness especially for tonight. That was the sting for her she was in it for the long haul had been since the moment they were married and yet he didn’t include her in decisions most of the time it was always mostly his way and she let him. Especially after Chauncey was born she just feel in line with the power of DGI what it gave them and lost sight of everything else. “Why couldn’t you just tell me Lowell, did you think I would think less of you? You have always loved DGI more than me it feels like on some days you say otherwise but Lowell, you never just stopped. For me or the kids it was never enough. You had to have it all, and now we have no time left and that hurts.”

“Do you believe me when I say I can’t explain how much I wanted everything? I thought that it made me a man. To have my wife and still have more. Another woman on the side, and another one it became the need of excess. It was too much and I didn’t know why? I can’t explain why and I know that’s not a excuse but I was a stupid man.” Lowell said, admitting that he had no clue why he did why he cheated. “I knew you were the one and I knew that I shouldn’t have been doing this to you. I lied, I cheated, and embarrassed you Jackie and if I haven’t told you I apologize. We have our memories Jackie, time might be up but we have our memories. I’ll never and I mean never go away.” He cleared his throat. “Oh my beloved he’s nice. I don’t think he’s particularly interesting but a nice guy.” Lowell said as he looked into her eyes. “I want you to move on and if he makes you happy then follow your heart Jackie. Promise me you will find happiness again. I don’t want you to be lonely, I don’t want you unhappy anymore.” Lowell said softly as he glided across the floor.

“I will tell you Jackie my biggest regret is not turning it over to Chauncey a few years ago. I should have done that and I knew something was wrong. I was ignoring it and I knew my body was broken.” Lowell said as a tear slipped down his face. “Oh don’t cry for me or us. We have done some amazing things together. I will never forgive myself but I do believe that we did something beautiful. This house, our children, and our life was so full and I ruined it but I never and I mean ever stopped loving you. You are it for me and although Audrey and Tess were there. They couldn’t hold a damn candle to you.” Lowell said with a smile as the orchestra was slowing. “I think the song is almost over my dear.”

Jackie felt like the weight of the world was suddenly lifted off her shoulders when he said that he should have turned it all over years ago, back then of course Chauncey was primed for the position maybe when he and Logan had married. Instead he had put off retirement after retirement and she had wondered how long his body had simply deteriorated and had she even noticed. The music filled the room as they danced and she heard the final notes before it stopped and she looked at him tears in her eyes at the man that she once knew and loved in her youth, in truth a man that would have a part of her even in death and it all seemed so real now. That this was the final moments for them or months depending on how the medication went, this was their final moment on the floor in the house they had renovated and raised their family in. She simply pressed her lips gently against his one last time as the bitter tears threatened to fall before she stepped back, placing her fingers against her lips and walked away the hush falling over the crowd as she did so.

She’d learned long ago that image was everything and like other strong women before her breaking down for sentimental value held no purpose tonight. She was certain that she had seen Tess staring daggers at her on the way out of the ballroom as the music started up again as the shock of the moment had wore off the crowd, it was no matter. She simply needed a quiet moment away from the stares of her children, Julian and the man that still held so much of her the mansion was her retreat to do that in. She could get lost in a hallway to do it let those tears come freely at everything that cruelty and coldly being taken from her and them with his illness, on everything that had happened the last year. But until she found that room she was Jacqueline Devonshire as she waved to Greer and a reporter the icy demeanor back on as she made her way to the back and past security. Where she found a quiet corner under those same watchful eyes of the men that protected her and simply placed her hands over her face feeling the wet tears soaking them while she bit back the bitter sobs that wanted to come out.


Forbes has made a few phone calls. Randall was starting to make too many calls and dig too much. Why couldn’t he just leave it well enough alone? There was no need to dredge up what happened that night to little Victoria Fraiser and he knew he was going to have to go speak to Lauren about it. Play it up as best he could and he couldn’t wait for the fireworks to happen when he did Randall’s betrayal would be his downfall when it came to his entire new relationship with Lauren.  He wasn’t above taking drastic measures if he had too and wondered if he would have to go to Ronan or someone else to handle the problem of Randall if needed. Push came to shove he would handle it himself. His eyes looked over at Lowell on the dance floor with Jackie his enemy’s last stand. A man that was once equal to being pushed around now by the likes of a nursing staff was so beneath him nowadays. He picked up a glass of champagne as a grin crossed his face while he saw Lowell wheeling his way toward him with assistance. It was almost sad comically in a way now how sad it all was.

“It feels like Custard’s last stand only this time I’m Custard and you along with your company are about to be the talk of a much bigger massacre. And you think at one time I thought you a worthy opponent instead of this shriveled man that simply gives up the battle halfway. It’s sad in a way how you just let Jacqueline go to Julian O’Sullivan in the end and decided Tess was your equal.” Forbes said looking at Lowell the man would be filled with bugs soon in the ground unless he was cremated. The thought of them feasting on Lowell’s corpse made his entire body fill with glee at the mere prospect of it. “Custard won and so will I in the long run DGI will fade from memory and MontCorp will rise to the top like a phoenix from the ashes. Your children will be too busy fighting over who gets what and who is entitled to see me coming or really any of your old enemies. I’m going to enjoy watching it burn down after everything you took from me over the years. ”

Lowell looked at Forbes and snickered as he shook his head. He was exhausted with the man before him. “You are standing here at my party for my company which has risen like a phoenix from the flame of your manipulations. Oh I might be feeble and old but I am the winner.” He laughed looking at Forbes. “I’m dying and you still haven’t bested me and you will remain to watch you and your failure of children watch my children and family stomp you out. I hate to put you in line but MontCorp has yet to step over DGI. I know you think you’re a ten but I know good and well that you aren’t strong enough, smart enough, or even good enough to take on Jackson or Chauncey. My children will continue my legacy not so much the stealing but much more of the destroying you and keeping you where you belong. Behind me as always Forbes. I might be dying but you are dead already. Don’t you see it? You’re rotting because you have nothing to do but hate me. Nobody to love, nobody to even care about you Forbes. Maybe you should get your shit together before you croak.” He laughed lightly as he waved his hand for his assistant to go.

“You keep saying that I took something from you. The way I remember it, you all hated that I was the figurehead and you and Gloria were plotting a hostile takeover anyways right? Pierre became collateral damage and I beat you to the punch. I beat all of you to the punch and got rid of all of you especially you because Forbes you were never worthy to shine my shoes. You didn’t deserve Audrey and you have never amounted to the man I am in this chair or out. You are a bad carbon copy with way less flare. You grandstand on the fact that I booted you out of DGI when you were going to slit my throat the first chance you got.  Woah.” Lowell said with a laugh. “My legs might not have feeling anymore but I felt that. I felt you losing again to Jackson or Chauncey or Max or Bliss or Rory or little Belle. She did expose you didn’t she? You are a joke and you want to say you’ve won because I’m dying.” Lowell laughed in his face he was honestly ticked. “I have plans on plans, fail safes that will never let you take down DGI. I have people who owe me and you’ll never see them coming. You’ll never see what’s right in front of you until it’s too late. Forbes you’ve already lost just give up. Go away and maybe you’ll die with an ounce of dignity.”

Forbes plastered on the fakest smile that he could for Lowell Devonshire they were semi out of the ashes for now, it wasn’t like DGI would be on the top for long. He had that secret so close to his chest and well he had a very important piece in play and if she knew what was good for her she would keep her word and help him burn DGI to the ground. “I think my manipulation as you liked to call it, who knew what Katie said was the truth or wasn’t the truth back then you never cared to learn what really happened and then covered for your rapist of a brother. You settled hard with Tess didn’t you this time? You finally gave everything to her and all you have to show for it is yourself in a chair miserable, your own children can barely stand you.” He said looking around the room and taking a sip of his champagne he really thought the ex drug addict and the rest of them were a match for what was to come? “How can one be dead when after you fucking my wife I simply turned off that side of my life? I don’t have friends Lowell and I don’t allow myself to give into the heat of the moment over a fantasy anymore you see that is the biggest difference between us, I don’t need love or acceptance while you simply do. You’ve always craved the attention and notoriety and I have to wonder is it because you are simply lacking as a man in general?” Forbes said taunting him for a but and shaking his head.

“You were sleeping with my wife unprovoked Lowell you took that from me because you chose to listen to Gloria and her thirst for power. Tell me is that how you justify screwing us all over at night while you sleep, Walter and you were best friends I’m sure he’s so comforted in that I learned not to trust anyone after you, seems he is back to making those mistakes again. He’s a damned fool always has been didn’t you help Brenda keep that child she bore from him away from him?” Forbes asked the irony in that was not lost on him given what else he knew about the Fraiser’s but he wanted to make sure Lowell knew he wasn’t blameless either if anything he was worse he pretended to be a friend at least he knew he was python. “You really think your ex-junkie of a son and the rest of your stooges of children are a match for me? Max is an unstable hot mess most of the time that thinks with her legs open. Chauncey is just a bland carbon copy of you. Bliss is just all around a meek and mild murderer better hide the guns from that one. Belle is just bleh artist or board member, probably depends on the day of the week and what she wants hardly this big army you think they are. You will never win Lowell you see you fail to realize I will never let you win.” Forbes said watching Lowell squirming in his seat clearly wanting to lash out and the chair not letting him.

“Oh please Forbes don’t use Walter and the past to erase what you did. I have to atone with God someone way bigger than you, about what I did to Walter and the Fraisers. It’s not something I’m proud of but it happened. Isn’t this fun we are sniping at each other like it’s eighties but the only difference is I don’t have time to give a flying damn. Forbes if you want to rail against DGI when I’m dead do you worst. If you choose to continue to live in a fantasy but don’t cry when my children stomp on you. Sadly they are disappointed with me but I’ve made amends with each and every one of them. And what about your children? You barely raised Joaquin and Xiomara, you abandoned Philip and Cassie and your other kid is a stripper. Oh Forbes you will never come for my children because no matter what you do they were born into greatness and your children were born in the Devonshire shadow. I slept with Audrey because I wanted to. I slept with her because she didn’t want you. You were never the man I was and hell Angelica and Trisha would want me too when they finally saw the real you. You aren’t my competition Forbes, you’ve been a nuisance to me. When I wake up in the morning you’ve never been on my brain but I know I live rent free in your mind. You always need to be better than me when you aren’t. The fact of the fact is that you could never beat me and life or death you won’t get your grubby fingers on DGI.” He laughed as he folded his arms seeing how he was annoyed.

“How about this when DGI finally breaks MontCorp into a million little pieces I’ll have my kids hire yours and maybe they’ll finally learn what the winning team feels like. You are a loser and it’s always been like that. You don’t care about what people think? What a crock of bullshit you care and you want to beat me because you care about what people think. Everyone here knows you couldn’t do it when I was able and you damn sure can’t do it right now. Whatever you’re after Forbes let it die with me. Let it go because if you don’t I’ll spend the rest of my time on earth trying to figure out how to make you go away. Maybe ask Ronan to finally rid my family of the poison that is you.” Lowell said seeing that he had shaken Forbes. “She used think you’d kill her. She was scared of you and say what you want to about my choices but I never made a woman fear me. You are the worst type of man, you pretend to be changed but underneath all that veneer you’re a snake. Slither to be me, dying or not you wish you had my notoriety and power. You could never be Lowell Devonshire and you will never be.”

Forbes couldn’t help it as he cackled like a hyena at the assumption that he wanted to be Lowell the man even now was arrogant. He could have had anyone that he wanted; he proved that with both Angelica and Trisha. The man was so arrogant thinking that everyone wanted to be him or aspire to be him. “Oh Lowell only someone with an ego such as yourself thinks that every man aspires to be you and the man you pretend to be. You pretend to be a good friend, but you’re not. You have pretended to be a good husband to Jackie yet you fathered two children with a woman she despises and then there was that incident with Audrey. Thank God we were all spared that.” Forbes said callously and he looked around the room at each of Lowell’s children. “Father of the year too on top of that please don’t make me laugh too much. Have you looked at your children? You didn’t raise them Jackie did you were off playing house with Tess on and off thinking you could have your cake and it eat it too..” He said snidely.

He may have left Cassie and Philip to nannies after Audrey’s death but he was grieving what in the hell was Lowell’s excuse? He was closest with his younger daughter and son even if Angelica had kicked him out earlier they were still legally married he hadn’t given up his wife to someone she hated. “I doubt Philip or Cassie would stoop so low to ever go to work for you or any of your brats if anything they all may want to sleep with one eye open from here on out, your daughters and former son in law found it fit to place a fucking bullet in Philip and he’s not one to just let that go and neither am I. They may of thought they got away with it now but what happens when daddy is dead and can no longer protect them? My guess is they’ll have to face reality about what a mess that all are and how they’ve failed you time and time again. At least I know I was awful to Cassie and Philip after what you pushed their mother too and I don’t hide from that or worse lie about it. Tell me have you told them all of your sins just yet?” Forbes asked, wanting to roll his eyes at Lowell resisting the urge. Honestly, it was almost exhausting to have this unfair fight between them. Lowell was confined to a chair, hardly an opponent he could stand you to toe with anymore. “I suppose you want us all to bow and curtsy as if you are a God among us mortals. Your children should be the one to practice when it all comes tumbling down instead old friend.” Forbes finished taking a sip from his glass as he glared at Lowell.

“I’m exhausted with you Forbes, honestly what do you want? You want me to say that I’m horrible, I already have. You want me to apologize, I shall. I’m sorry that I’ve always been better than you. I outsmarted you not that I’m smarter. I have always been quicker and on the uptick while you thought I was blinded by sex and partying. Forbes go find something to make you happy, Trisha marry her. Don’t hold onto this for the rest of your life because you can live a much better life. I’m sure MontCorp might do better if you aren’t so bitter.” Lowell adjusted himself slightly in his chair. “I have made mistakes and I’m sorry. Honestly Forbes what I did to you was one of the worst mistakes. A friend or a woman. I should have chosen you is that what you need? I should have protect what we all built. I messed up back then but I don’t regret it. I won’t regret it because it’s gotten us here. You are a titan but you’re not the one to beat me. Maybe your great grandkids will beat Devonshire but you won’t see it. You won’t be alive when they finally win. I’m dying Forbes, I hate to inform of this but I win. I even die before you and that’s the irony of this all. You think staying in all this pain and misery is winning but in hell or heaven I’ll find my peace. I truly hope you find yours.”

Lowell waved his hand as he looked at his nursing aide. “Find your path or else you’re going to be stuck in the eighties Forbes. I don’t care hate me, go after my kids, and lose. They will come on top because unlike me they have Jackie. They have the key to success. You’ve always thought it was Walter who pushed DGI but he had a program it was Jackie who motivated me. That’s how I beat you and because they still have my secret weapon well you’re danger. She will fight in ways I don’t even know you’re ready for. Without me expect to see a new Jackie who won’t take your shit or anyone else’s. So if you insist on keeping this bland war going prepare for the most fearsome fight. Forbes good day I do hope you find a measure of peace in your miserable life.”

Forbes’s entire body shook in rage at how Lowell was simply dismissing him like he was nothing to him not even his rival. It would be over soon and he would have won seeing how Lowell would be dead and in the ground he would be living his best life by destroying DGI and burning it to the ground. What Lowell didn’t know was that he had played his hand correctly on everything he had Tess on his side along with Pierre for now and there was no denying that and should Tess want to play games? Well he had alternatives that he could do with her too like making sure that she never saw the light of day again and was buried six feet under as well. He of course wouldn’t get his hands dirty but he had his ways and Jackie herself wouldn’t be able to stop the hurricane he would reign down, he’d bury her too.


Jackie had smiled to herself after her run in with Julian and the final little dance she shared with her ex husband on the dance floor him rolled around and assisted by an aide felt so final and heavy that she simply needed a moment. She had walked out of the ballroom and down the corridor to the west wing where the library was only to pause when she saw Selina looking up at an old photo the original one of DGI. In it of course was her husband in one chair, Walter in the other Gloria behind them and Forbes. She felt a shudder herself looking at it and saw Selina fixated on Gloria, the woman that was the cause of the split between Lowell and Walter. A split that she now knew was all part of a well crafted lie on Gloria’s part. She remembered what Lowell had shared with her last year, that Gloria had told him that she was having an affair with Walter of all people. It was simply preposterous and she wondered what else she had planted in Lowell’s mind or any other member of that group it had destroyed lives. Destroyed a friendship that at one point was deep and rooted, that had just barely mended perhaps slightly in trouble again thanks to a suspecting nanny. She touched Selina’s shoulder and saw her god daughter jump like she had seen a ghost.

“Selina are you alright? You’re trembling. Come on sit down let me get you a drink.” Jackie said seeing her shaking and she wondered if she had been overcome with images of them dragging Dimitri’s body down the very same hallway that they stood during the wedding. She went into the library helping Selina to the couch and then went to the wet bar pouring Selina a scotch on the rocks and one for herself before walking back to her and handing her the glass. “I think about that night sometimes too, not too much of course but it had to be done and he’s not worth any of our memories or tears. Now would you care to tell me why you aren’t inside the lovely ballroom enjoying a dance with that fine specimen of man that I still haven’t been properly introduced too? Surely you can’t be here to wander around the halls of the mansion replaying what happened with Dimitri over and over again or staring at an old photograph on the walls.” She had meant that part about Elliot she thought of Selina like the second daughter that she and Lowell had been denied during her one miscarraige before Rory, she took that honor as her godmother seriously since Gloria had passed on as well.

Taking a deep breath, she was lost in the hallway for a moment. How did it look so different but so similar?  She began to gasp and almost lost the air in her body. Wiping her eyes she looked at the hallway and saw a trail of women who were free. Flaring her dress out she felt her stomach clutching as she sat down. Taking the drink she listened to her godmother’s soft voice echoing through her head. Taking a deep gulp as began to drink the scotch Jackie gave her. Looking at the older woman she smiled loving that she supported her choice of her new boyfriend. Taking another drink her nerves calmed as she smiled thinking of Elliot. “I can’t believe that I found him to be honest. If I can be honest with you it isn’t just Dimitri it’s my dad and my mother. My mother is feeling like she’s haunting me that is what’s the problem is. My father committed suicide and I have to know why. I have to know why because his death is consuming me.” For the first time she spoke honest how she had to figure out the truth.

“He just left us alone and I don’t know if I can forgive that. I have to find out why and all I have is her diaries and I want to know why she resented him, why he killed himself, and so much more. I am angry and inquisitive and I have nobody to ask. No offense he loved you and Lowell but did he give you his personal demons and I hate to say it but did either of you ask? Or was he just the loyal friend? I’ve been thinking about changing my path for a while now. Jackie, your children are taking every high position in DGI. Between Bliss, Zerick, and now Belle what place do I have at DGI. I was already ousted once and it didn’t feel good. It in fact initially sent me down the road to be with Dimitri. It broke me so much and I don’t appreciate being that vulnerable.” Selina said speaking honestly. “I just look at Jamal and he’s digging his own path and I resent that I’m working for your family. I resent that my talents have been taken for granted and that Chauncey and Lowell threw me away without a second thought. I’m brilliant and I feel like I am doing nothing to leave something behind. Seeing as I’ll never have a child, my career could at least be fulfilling.”

Jackie looked over at her goddaughter wondering if she should tell her the complete truth ot not. Was that even her place now that Tony was gone. It seemed so frivolous now but they had lied for so many years it was second nature to her when it came to Gloria and her past. She didn’t see why she had to break ranks now with that narrative especially now that Tony was gone. “I am glad you have moved on from the pain Dimitri put you through and everything my own son did to you over the years. I don’t think Lowell or myself have ever apologized for that enough to you with Chauncey. He was in a rough place after Logan died and left him with Maddie and I think he latched onto you as a replacement for what he lost. Lowell and I should have stepped in when it became clear his affection for you was out of duty. It’s not my place to speak on your relationship with Mr. Fraiser either but perhaps two people are better as friends than lovers.” She said quietly not knowing the ins and outs of Selina’s divorce but she pursed her lips. “We never blamed you for Dimitri; he would have come for Bliss anyway because of Fox. I am glad that you found Elliot out of all that pain.”

“Your mother and father had a complicated marriage and relationship, Selina, much like myself and Lowell. The eighties were a trying time for most of us technology was taking off and we were all so young and made so many mistakes. We all wanted fame and power, your mother and Lowell the most of all.” Jackie said wondering if she should point out the Gloria’s first miscarriage and stillbirth had attributed to the friend she once loved and knew changing so drastically. That and Jeremiah Beecher of course. She saw that Selina was in pain but the truth was Tony was a very private and proud man he never burdened them and they probably never thought to ask in the way she wanted them too. “I have no idea why your father did what he did Selina and perhaps we could have asked more. As for your place at DGI, Lowell has always wanted the company to continue on through our children it was something he and Walter at the time talked about quite a bit. Your mother came to DGI after that agreement, we would be happy to have you stay of course but I also understand you wanting to branch out on your own after what happened. Chauncey was angry at you for how you humiliated him, and someone forged your name on those CADMUS files Lowell’s hand was forced in the matter. I can’t apologize to you about what he is finally doing for my second eldest son.” Jackie said looking at the woman before her as a mother she simply couldn’t do that, while Selina was her goddaughter the company was called Devonshire Global Industries not Delacroix Global Industries.

“That in turn godmother is my problem. My father gave me something to hold onto but I don’t believe I have to abide by and not do something more for my legacy. Honestly Jackie I’ve been through a lot due to the loyalty of the Devonshire. I’ve now fallen on that grand sword that so many before me have and honestly I see how Lowell and your family have gotten so many enemies. No disrespect my mother wasn’t innocent and I know that now but all of you continue to spit in a grown woman’s face and act as if I shouldn’t know or can’t take it.” Selina hissed feeling every bit of her implication she was happy that Jackson was getting the crown and proud that her fallen angel had risen like a phoenix from a flame. A crack pipe to be exact. Chauncey had worked diligently and she couldn’t help but resent it that Lowell was giving the keys to the kingdom to him. What Jackie had made clear was her children were more important than right and wrong. What they did to her was embarrassing and she had climbed to the top as a smart ass black woman in a world that didn’t accept her. Licking her lips she snickered.
“Another problem for me. You can come to me with a honest face and just say sorry. Mentally I was so torn up by the people who I thought loved and respected my work and love for them betraying me I ended up with a worthless ass man that eventually sexually assaulted me. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me now and back then Jackie. I will be thinking about my future soon and let whomever is CEO know soon.” She said looking at the older woman. “One more thing I ‘m going to figure out what Gloria Delacroix did to all of you and when I do, I might be ready to go until then Jackie good-night.” Selina said, refusing to snap the way she truly wanted to. She raised Maddie the first few years of her life when Chauncey used and abused her. She was blamed for something Chauncey did and now she was saying that Lowell or the Devonshire’s couldn’t do more for the people who constantly loved and protected them. It was always about them and Selina couldn’t take that. Simon who fixed everything, Talia who made every legal document and public statement, Merci who made their events so perfect and her a fucking CEO sitting by the wayside because of nepotism and diligence to legacy. Her tears were burning in her eyes. She instead put down the scotch. “I need to find Elliot, he truly cares about my well being.” Pausing letting those words sink into the room.

Jackie looked at Selina and wondered if the lie was too much to continue but as people would say you rode the ship till it sank. She knew what Selina had done for her family and perhaps looking good back she shouldn’t have latched into it so much for the likes of a woman that destroyed half the town back then. “Lowell did what he though was the best to protect DGI and Chauncey and you are right we have made our fair share of enemies that way. Surely one day you can understand that? He did it for Chauncey and one day Maddie neither of us thought that you would storm out and quit and then leave town. Your mother was far from innocent and you keep digging into the past about her and for what reason Selina, closure? What do you hope to achieve from it, more pain and suffering? You aren’t ready to hear the truth about everything she did and it’s rude to talk ill of the dead so I won’t. Your father didn’t want us to speak ill if her so I won’t even in his death. I will respect that promise to him and honor him in that way.” Jackie said, not sure what else Selina wanted her to say about the matter.

Jackie kept her own rage inside if her she helped raise the girl in front of her after everything that bitch of a woman did and what was her thanks? Pushing for people that cared about her away was always how Selina dealt with it from Ophelia to hell Dylan and now her. “I know you are upset at Lowell’s choice. Maybe DGI will have a fighting chance this time since he’s picking the son best suited not the one who thought he was entitled to it. You could have come to me after that meeting at DGI with Lowell and Chauncey when the CADMUS files happened but you didn’t. We were in crisis the moment after it happened. Financially stocks tanked, then your brother got Jackson roped into a drug exchange deal gone bad leading to Dani getting kidnapped. Followed up by Max, Bliss and Hunter shooting Philip. In the midst of all that you couldn’t even turn to me Selina you just left everyone behind including Madeline. You push people away you always have, don’t push him away. He makes you smile in ways my son never did but I fear this will consume you so much you will push him away too.”

Selina raised her hand showing she had enough of this conversation as she looked at Jackie. Then wagged her finger. “What you won’t do is turn this on me, I’m questioning how much blood I need to spill for your family. Secondly I ran because the only family I ever knew turned their back on me. Let’s be real about the optics that Maddie and I had to deal with. A black woman raising a white girl. They used to ask if I was her nanny, never her mother. She wasn’t mine and we both know that so when I took her it was my chance and the irony was she still wasn’t mine!” Her voice was now raised. “I’m not running if Dimitri taught me anything it’s to plant my feet down in all the mess. I’m in it and I apologize if looking through my mother’s past is scary to all of you but she’s my mother. She’s my family.” Selina said with enough malice that she knew pierced her godmother’s heart. “Trust me that man isn’t like your son. He won’t use and abuse me. Facts are facts Jackie and my first abusive relationship was with your son.” Selina drank the rest of her drink.

“The glass house you all built around Mason and I about my mother is coming crashing down. It’s shattering and I know she had a lot to do with Pierre going to jail. I am going to uncover everything and when I do, you’ll know this. This conversation is your one chance godmother. This is our chance to start completely clean and fresh tell me what you know about my mother and I will forgive you for the lies you told to us my entire life. Including my father, which is a joke. A damn joke because he made her into this fantasy and she wasn’t. She was a monster and you know what I’m learning? I can be just as savage because as much of my father’s benevolence and grace I have her rage and restlessness inside of me. From the journals I’m reading none of you were innocent including you. You all were horrible to each other and we’ve been dealing with the blowback for years. The kids have been dealing with y’all shit and we don’t even know it. We are living in your shadows without even knowing it. You all hurt each other and these diaries tell all of it good and bad.” Selina stood up and walked toward the door. “Oh one more thing godmother call this my notice I will be leaving DGI. Sooner rather than later. Good night.”

Jackie looked at Selina knowing at this point it was an uphill battle with her concerning Gloria and a hill she was willing to die on. If Selina wanted to go down that path there was nothing that she could say or do to stop it. Was Chauncey abusive? People struggled with things internally but he had never laid a hand on Selina violently. She and Lowell certainly hadn’t set the best example of how to have a marriage over the years that was clear. She should have stood her ground more and Lowell should have kept it in his pants, her eldest son had turned into him early on. It was who he was especially after Logan died or even then before that and she wondered if Selina was caught in the crossfire or not. She got up from the sofa looking at the clock. Jackson’s speech would be happening soon and then Lowell’s formal announcement as she walked to the door, stopping to look at Selina as she did.

“Chauncey is a lot of things but he is hardly Dimitri Kavanagh. He learned how to do his relationship from me and Lowell and we were hardly a good example. l am sorry for everything that happened with him but you made mistakes there too. Regardless, Madeline is almost an adult now and she can decide between you both. Keep down this road Selina if you must but I’m not going to betray what your father wanted to you or Mason, perhaps the lie was better for both of you then the ugly truth did you ever think about that?” Jackie said her voice soft as she spoke as she opened the door and looked back at the portraits it was so long ago. This generation was only just deciding to heal and out those old wounds to rest. “Should you see the need to quit hand in your resignation to Jackson or Dani in the morning. I think they would both be sad to see you go but neither of them will force you to stay where clearly you are unhappy. I am a phone call or text away should you change your mind. I have a speech to witness and see, good night Selina.” Jackie finished walking out the door leaving her god daughter to her own thoughts as she made her way back to the ballroom.


Aspen turned to her mother who was helping her with her makeup at a table at the ballroom. Rory was standing with Chauncey and Zerick and looking down at her ring. It was glistening and glimmering in the light. She felt honestly like nothing could beat this euphoric feeling of winning. Seeing Yasmine running out of the ballroom was exactly what she needed. She’d won and all her and Max scheming had led to this. A diamond on her finger and her finally winning this war. She did feel like it was an empty victory. Ever since she lost her baby it was like she was invested in Rory and her relationship. No matter how hard she tried but this moment felt good because Yasmine lost. As she touched her mother’s hand. “Well aren’t you happy for me mom? This is everything I’ve ever wanted! I’m marrying a Devonshire.” She squealed excitedly.Flipping her bangs out of her eye she could tell Blythe wanted to say something. Her stomach clenched why did she always disapprove of her. Licking her lip she picked up a champagne flute and she took a gulp.

“What mom, am I just happy, God can you be happy for me?” She said softly as she grabbed her mom’s hand. “Mommy, I’m marrying the man of my dreams. You have to be happy for me.” Aspen demanded as she looked at her. “I know you feel like this is too fast but our love is strong and we’ve overcome losing our baby so I don’t think you have any room to judge us. It’s really rude mom for you to sit here and just scowl and not say anything so at least tell me what you are thinking.” She demanded looking at her soft eyes which she saw sadness. Her mother wasn’t sure of Rory and her that was instantly clear. “I am happy.”

“Who are you telling that to me or yourself Aspen.” She said finally touching her daughter’s face. “Oh honey I love you so much and I just want to see you happy. If you are saying you are happy then I have no choice but to believe that you are just that. I just don’t think Rory is over that girl and seeing him propose in front of her didn’t make me feel any better about it. Now I’m team Aspen and if this is what you want baby I want it to. If you are happy with him truly happy, I have nothing but happiness for you.” Blythe said as she hugged Aspen. “I do implore you to think about one more thing darling, think about when Randall and I were divorcing. How unhappy we were and how miserable our relationship became. Don’t jump into anything too soon enjoy a long engagement and see if this is the man you truly can see yourself spending the rest of your life with.” She said softly as she kissed her forehead and saw Randall approaching. “Oh here is your father he’s here to congratulate you baby.”

“Daddy.” She said standing up and walking to Randall and hugging him tightly. “I’m so happy.” It was all she could say. It was a lie because honestly she wasn’t so sure what she was feeling. Was she happy? Was she sad? All she could do is relish this moment winning against Yasmine. “You look like you want to say something so same rules as mom. You must say your peace.”

Randall had been with Lauren meeting various people she was close to fo course light chatting with her daughter keeping his conversation with Walter private for now while Lauren made her rounds. He saw Aspen arrive with Rory he always thought red was her color she was quite stunning with it along with that auburn hair of hers that seemed to light against the dress like a flame along with the lights, his one and only daughter was simply radiant when it came to her glow. He had to wonder if that was because she was happy in her budding romance with Rory or if she was finally healing from everything that happened in her tragic miscarriage, something he was all to familiar with. Rory was everything that most parents wanted in someone for their daughter, well off and polite but there was the thing that lingered the most that Rory had cheated on her. Cheated on her and then lied to her face with Yasmine Kohl, he didn’t know Yasmine other than she was Forbes biological daughter and a former stripper. Regardless neither girl in his mind deserved to be a pawn in Rory’s games or lack of knowing what he wanted it reminded him too much of Lowell and Jackie with Tess in between. The proposal that happened when Yasmine was so close was a bit unsettling to him.

Randall hugged her tightly looking over across the room as it seemed that Rory was getting the same reception from his brother, when she told him that she was so happy, his heart fluttered. How as a father did you navigate this part, that he frankly didn’t think that Rory had proved his worth to her yet? He of course was there and supportive after the miscarriage but he also was still in contact with the woman he cheated with and was a part of that scuffle. “If this is what you truly and I do mean truly want Aspen your mother and I will support you. I want you to be happy with i agree with your mother a long engagement there is no need to rush this and I doubt that Rory really wants to rush this either.” Randall said looking at Blythe as he looked over at her before looking back at Aspen and then the ring, even the ring screamed rebound or at least basic and he knew how rich people operated. Rory could have easily put some time and effort into a real engagement ring if his heart was really in it. “Is Rory Devonshire the man that you really want Aspen?” Randall asked wanting his daughter to be sure.

Aspen twirled a curl from her updo hairstyle as she looked at her parents. Why did they keep asking her that? The feeling of uncertainty was swirling in her chest as she looked at the ring. She remembered when she saw Dani’s engagement ring, Natasha’s ring, and Max’s ring. None of them looked so bland and basic. Maybe she could get him to upgrade it before the wedding. She saw her father staring at her ring and before she knew her stomach dropped. Nobody believed in this and she barely did herself so was she foolish? Had she just won an empty prize? “I wouldn’t have said yes if this isn’t what I want. Rory loves me and I want you to know that we are happy. I want you both to hear me loud and clear. Our love is solid and we’ve had some hurdles but name any great love story that isn’t full of obstacles? Hell, Jackson got Dani kidnapped and look at them now? This is the universe trying to repay me for all that I lost. My child wasn’t deserving of this and now Rory is rectifying all that mess.” She picked up a champagne flute and gulped down the rest of the liquid. “Can I leave you two alone for a few moments? Please no fighting and I just need another drink and a little air this all so overwhelming and exciting.”

Aspen didn’t leave them with much choice because she was up out of her chair and immediately stormed away. She looked back at the parental units and saw them instantly talking. They didn’t believe it or her. She felt it. As she was walking through the party she turned around and jumped when she saw him. “Khalil!” She called out. As she power walked to him crossing her fingers that Rory wasn’t watching somewhere. “I need to talk to you, this is important! Look.” She showed him the wedding ring. “Go find her, she is waiting on you the love of your life. She’s heartbroken right now because he proposed in front of Yasmine.” Aspen said satisfied that she could help Khalil as much as he had helped her before. “This is what we wanted right?”

Khalil had watched the entire scene unfold with Rory and saw Yasmine flee the room in horror. Sure they were fucking and hooking up but it felt different this time. It was fun and what they both needed but it wasn’t like before and that bugged him deep down. She was still one of his best friend’s and sexy as hell, she still knew what to do with what she had but they were kids anymore. He may have been in love with her when they were kids but clearly that isn’t what they were now. He looked at the gorgeous red head before him and wondered why it felt awful when she said they both got what they wanted and why he was so annoyed she was actually excited about the fakest engagement he’d ever seen, more so why he didn’t want Aspen with Rory at all. In his mod for sure neither Aspen or Yasmine deserved to be stuck with that pompous asshole when there were better options like him on the market.

“Congratulations Aspen, you’ve wanted this for a while. If this is what you really want then yeah I’m happy for you. Rory is a lucky guy.” Khalil said looking at her and lying through his teeth where did this leave him at the end of it all? Yasmine was clearly with Jayden and had moved on with her life and on from him. He stuffed his hands in his pockets for a bit looking at Aspen again wondering why he was so caught up still in all the drama of it all. “So I guess that means you and I both got what we wanted. You got Rory a Devonshire and I can go find Yasmine. Listen about what happened between us…” He said Pausing not wanting to publicly out her or not she was in a pretty bad place after the miscarriage before he continued. “I’m not gonna rat you out. You weren’t thinking clearly after it happened and you and Rory were fighting about him still keeping in contact with Yasmine you know?”

Aspen walked to Khalil’s apartment when he had invited her. It had only been a few weeks since she lost her baby. To be honest she was clutching her stomach and that feeling was gone. That flutter or little movement she used to feel. What was so normal a few weeks ago was gone. She wasn’t pregnant but she needed something from Khalil. Walking up the stairs she knocked on the door and from the moment the door opened she jumped at Khalil. She kissed him sticking her tongue into his mouth and kissing him passionately. Aspen could believe what she was doing at this point. But Rory hadn’t even looked at her. He wouldn’t touch her at night and it was as if he blamed her. Not Yasmine who hurt her and that crushed her. Yasmine killed her baby and Max was right she didn’t belong. That ghetto guttersnipe. Slipping her tongue into his mouth she removed her dress as she looked at him. “I’m so sick of them not seeing us. I see you Khalil.” She said seductively. “I see you as a man and for one night I need you to see me too. I need you.” Stepping back she slipped off her lace dress letting it pool to the floor.

Wearing just her panties and throwing her hair letting it cascade over her breast. “Look at me Khalil. I’m a woman and I know what I need. So make love to me and don’t stop until I say so.” She said seductively gripping his thickening penis. As she kisses his lips. “Make me feel good because you’ve been here for me. You’ve talked me off so many ledges. Khalil you make me feel so good so please don’t turn me away.” She arched her neck feeling his lips drag against her skin.

Khalil had been at his condo scrolling through some texts from Aspen and Yasmine, Aspen was mad that Rory was reaching out to Yasmine. Yasmine was asking if she should even be talking to Rory given what happened, it was all such a huge fucking mess. His yes glanced up at the film that was on the TV coach had told them to prep and review some film he was solid on that line him and Connor yet coach was riding them the hardest? When Apsen asked if she could come over he had simply said yes not sure why he was even inviting her over, wasn’t winning supposed to feel good kinda like when he had won state back in high school and then the championship his last year of college, that was what winning felt like. This just felt different yeah Yasmine was officially free but she wasn’t leaning on him through out the entire ordeal and why was he thinking about Aspen all the time lately? Sure they had staged that fight for her and Yasmine to run into each other at Renards but when she hit that floor screaming in pain it was so awful for him to watch, he closed his eyes for a moment before he opened them and walked to the fridge. Grabbing a bottle of water he tossed his phone on the counter as he heard the knock on the door and then he opened it to see Aspen there he simply held her in his arms closing the door behind her and then it happened when she kissed him and really kissed him at that he’d been dreaming of this moment for months.

His hands wrapped around her waist as he slipped his tongue into her mouth and explored his left to right and back again, his hands cupping her face for a moment. He’d been so caught up in the kiss and the fact it was really happening as his body began to respond her hers at the mere action of a kiss before she stepped back and watched as her summer dress simply fell to the floor. He’d seen a lot of women, hell he’d fucked a lot of women but white girls weren’t really hsi type but there was something that was attractive about Aspen. He wasn’t sure if it was how porcelain her skin was or if it was her red flaming hair regardless he knew that she was in a fragile place and he didn’t want to take advantage of that unless she really wanted him too. “Aspen you are still grieving what happened.” He started only his body reacted before he could say anything else and his hands were reaching out for her pulling her to him as he kissed her again and his lips traveled down her neck. “I don’t want to hurt you Aspen.” Khalil said quietly against her collarbone while his fingers lazily traced the sides of her body and over her breasts.

Aspen knew what she wanted and she wanted Khalil. He was the only one who was making her feel alive again. At this moment she didn’t know the darkness from the light. She did know that Khalil’s words had touched her. He had made her feel like she wasn’t alone and that was enough at the moment. She was chipping away from the pain at this moment and she wasn’t going to let him go until he made her breathe again. Max seemed to think this was for the best it would keep Yasmine and Rory apart. Was she supposed to care about that? The life that was growing inside of her snatched away and she would never forgive Yasmine. That girl had done too much to be forgive but at this moment she wanted the person who made her feel good. “You wouldn’t hurt me. Not like he did, how I truly miss the man I thought I loved. He didn’t care about my baby and he doesn’t love me. Why doesn’t he love me?” She asked as the tears soaked Khalil’s beautiful chocolate skin. Using her right hand she lifted his face to look at her. “Look at me. I know why I’m here and if you are ready I’m ready.”

She kissed him as her lips as she could feel him grabbing her by the legs thus pushing her legs around his waist. “Make love to me. Khalil you’ve been there for me and I don’t know what I would do without and I’m sorry that I didn’t see you before. I didn’t see how good you are and how she doesn’t deserve you either. How does she keep making all these men who I love and care about fall for her?” She questioned sure this time that Yasmine wouldn’t be on his mind because she was about to fuck him. She was about to use every bit of her body to take him away from her. To hurt her the way she had been hurt. Giving her a taste of her own medicine and taking her first love. “I need to feel you inside of me Khalil.”

Khalil knew that things were bad between her and Rory after the miscarriage but he didn’t really think they were that bad more like a guys just being a guy. Rory Devonshire had always been full of his himself and selfish though so he could see why him pushing Aspen away was working to his advantage fully. He wrapped his arms around her waist and then proceeded to lift her up and around his hips while carrying her towards the bed he had dreamed of this moment for a while when it came to Aspen Sinclair. So he would indulge her into what she needed as he carried her to the bed his lips capturing hers in a deep kiss as he did so, he could make her forget all about Rory or the lack of Rory if that is what she wanted. He let his hands explore her body as he did so dipping into her center while he let his gym shorts and boxers slip onto the floor. “I gotta see if I have a rubber.” Khalil whispered into her ear before he leaned over to his bedside table and made sure he had a condom before opening it and placing it on his cock watching her watching him at the action and he almost smirked wondering if he was bigger than Rory or not. He wasn’t going to talk to her about Yasmine though then he’d start to question if what he was doing was right.

Instead he simply just smirked at her before he leaned over her and then let his hips slowly slide off her panties where he tossed them to the floor before he leaned down trailing kissing from her bellybutton on down to her center. Once he reached it he simply divided in with his lips tasting her nectar sliding into his mouth as his tongue flicked back and forth wanting to drive her and please her before he just dived into her. His mouth moved slowly savoring her flavor and hearing her moan at the action and he couldn’t help the smirk that came out when she did, yeah Rory would be a distant memory after he was done. When he felt her starting to shake he almost let her ride out her orgasm till he stopped and then looked back up at her spreading her legs as he did so. “It wasn’t going to be that fast Aspen.” He said leaning down to kiss her before he rammed himself into her warm center letting out a moan at he did so. He could feel her gripping him and stilling himself he was not going to bust just like that just yet and then began to move in and out of her at a nice pace wanting to drive her completely insane.

Aspen body began to shake feverishly as he began to eat her out. He took his time with her body and that was something Rory hadn’t done in a long time. How he touched her, how he looked at her, and how he was making her feel. At this moment she wasn’t the consolation prize she was the winner. How he made her feel and how his tongue worked over her body. The moment he entered her body she exhaled in a sultry moan as she leaned in sticking her tongue in his throat. The kissing was so intense and it made her question everything. Why when she hugged or touched Rory it didn’t feel like this. She was beginning to understand that she was entrapping herself in a life of miserableness.As she squeezed against each thrust inside of her. She almost felt bad because he’d gotten her so close a few moments ago. Now he was a few strokes in and she felt like she was going to burst. Instead she knew to squeeze as tightly as possible. One thing Aspen wouldn’t do is walk away knowing that he wasn’t satisfied. She knew that he was enjoying it just looking in her eyes and she dug her nails inside of his back. “Oh my God Khalil!” She said softly as she began to moan and almost in a trance like state. “I’m so close right there baby.” Aspen said began to let her eyes roll behind her head.

Khalil almost burst when she started to vice around him and he stilled his body for a moment just so he could collect his thoughts and then went back to thrusting into her slowly while his tongue collided with hers exploring her mouth. He knew that he wanted this to last with him but he wasn’t quite sure how long he could last with her doing what she was doing with her hips. So he instead went to kissing her intensely while he he thrust his hips into her wondering how her body was so tight at the moment was Rory not fucking her anymore? He couldn’t help it as he thrust faster into her center wanting her to explode when he did to let her feel like she was enough. Then his mind went to if he was being too tough with her after what she had been through and he slowed back down again letting out a moan into her mouth and breaking free as he looked down at her. “Aspen.” He managed to get out looking down at her.

He then didn’t know what came over himself as he let loose completely inside of her by thrusting relentlessly into her and before he knew what was happening he felt her legs shaking. And he let out a moan feeling his body stiffen as he slammed into her feeling himself swell inside the condom before bursting. He honestly was glad he was wearing it this time if he wasn’t he was pretty sure he would have had the biggest load ever between them and the sheets not to mention that he wasn’t even sure she was on anything. Regardless his breath came out is gasps and moans as he kept moving in and out of her feeling himself bursting again and quivering, as he felt her tightening down on him even harder. “Fucking hell that was amazing.” Khalil said when he was finally able to get his thoughts together and his body nearly gave out from the weight of his own shoulders before he rolled off her looking up at the ceiling fan and then over at her. “Are you okay, that was…Aspen.” He stammered not really knowing what else to say to her.

“I will be okay.” Aspen said breathless trying to recapture the rooms gravity. She felt like she was spinning and her heart was beating so fast. Turning looking at Khalil she didn’t know what was wrong with her? Why had she not turned to Rory? She was sad and what was worst it might not have been Rory’s baby. What if it was Lex Hessington’s kid? She would have ruined Rory life and her own. Max was determined to keep Yasmine and Rory apart but were they all out of line? They had manipulated the situations to the point she was sure that she couldn’t love Rory. She was far too guilty to love him. Licking her lips she jumped out of bed the room was still spinning but for another reason now the weight of she had done fell on her chest. She gave into what she had been wanting to do. Something happened after she lost her baby. Reciprocation of love wasn’t happening at her home with Rory but Khalil was tender. Was she supposed to be with him?

All the confusion Aspen grabbed her clothes and quickly got dressed. “I can’t do this Khalil, we can’t do this. I’m okay, I just need a moment. I just gotta handle some of my shit and you just helped me.” She felt like she was sinking in the deep end because all she wanted was to jump back in the bed with this man. Let him hold her and whisper sweet nothing in her ear. ‘I’ll call you tomorrow okay? We’ll go get coffee and talk but right now I love what just happened and just where we are leaving it.” Aspen looked at him and for a moment she couldn’t help it. Aspen began to cry. “Why doesn’t anyone want me? My biological parents don’t want me, my parents don’t talk about it but I’m adopted Khalil. Then my mother Blythe doesn’t want me. She is ashamed I dropped out of Harvard. She is so embarrassed and my father doesn’t want me. Randall the most prolific writer who can’t manage another American dream classic if he wanted and he wants that more than me. Rory is so in love with that woman. No matter what she has done to me he keeps going to her. He won’t stop and he doesn’t want me. Nobody wants me. Nobody loves me and I have to question who am I and if that’s why I’m so fucking unloved. Nobody wants me. Nobody I’m all alone and I don’t know what to do because I’m drowning in it. I’m drowning in the feeling of being so alone.”

“Khalil, I know you’d never tell on me. I know you well enough to know the man that you are. It’s a shame I’m engaged because looking into your eyes I know that if we had a chance. Well it might be something more. Khalil we might have had a chance once upon a time. But I’m going to be a Devonshire and I have all that I ever wanted.” She lied through her teeth. Looking at him in his suit and his brown skin, and how did he get his hair wavy like that? It literally felt like the ocean when they were making love. As she looked into his eyes she nodded. “I really hope you can turn things around with Yasmine, she deserves to have some happiness with you. You deserve to have her because we fought to have this.” How could she continue to lie with a straight face? She didn’t want Yasmine to have Khalil or Rory. She hated either way she won a prize and Khalil at this point was a bigger prize. She felt something with him and it sucked that she had lost so many battles but winning an empty war was even more painful.

“I should be going.” She said as she grabbed his hand. “You really deserve whatever you want Khalil. You hear me? If you need anything, look, I don’t care about what anyone says, you are my best friend right now and I need you in my life.” She said honestly she didn’t want to lose Khalil and she wasn’t. “Rory might be upset but one day we will all be able to laugh at all this I know that deep in my heart. As friends.”


Jeremiah had left LaCallie and hoped all went to plan and Gloria stayed behind at their private hotel room for the time being after tonight they would head home to Chicago. They still needed to prepare for her their big reveal back into Atlas Falls and he wasn’t one to ever lose meaning BA Energy would make sure it was felt as direct competition when it came to DGI. MontCorp was still in the ancient forms of stocks and bonds at least DGI was competitive in that aspect. He had been clued in too late ot put a stop to the last meeting with Ramses and Natasha when Jackson had swooped in to buy SandStar at a hefty fee for those solar panels and he wouldn’t be stopped again. He wasn’t going to let that happen again or let Lowell or his brats have the last fucking say, he was always a weak man and when he entered the Summit party with the fake smile on his face with the coat check it was no different. It wasn’t his first time in the opulent house the house that he and Gloria had once conspired to almost take from Lowell and Jackie, a pesky little thing named Audrey of course had to open her mouth and throw things off and frankly they upgraded in Chicago, but Jackie still had some of the best tastes around when it came to decorating or throwing a party. Taking a sip of the champagne he almost sneered did they ever upgrade here instead of the same thing over and over?

He supposed if anything it made Lowell predictable if yet a boring opponent he head been forced to leave Atlas Falls with Gloria in a hurry thanks to Lowell all those years ago, but it was time now for he and Gloria to step out of the ashes like the bad asses they were always supposed to be. She had been his anchor with BA Energy and with his legal mind behind the company it was frankly unstoppable after all he was the one that had helped Lowell and Gloria steal Walter’s idea all those years ago, he took pride in that. He walked up to the DGI displays around the room and saw the small little sample of the solar panel and read underneath it where it stated sponsored by Natasha Hassan of SandStar Oil. He watched intently out of the corner of his eyes when Natasha approached him looking delectable if he didn’t say so himself. Gloria of course would chop that part of him off if he ever acted on that threat he had playfully given her at dinner, but eyes could always look in his mind. “Mrs. Devonshire good evening. I do hope you are enjoying the party. I’m sorry how rude of me Jeremiah Beecher attorney for Beecher Archer Energy.” He said extending his had to hers and smiling when she accepted and he leaned down to kiss her hand.

Natasha had pranced around being the perfect wife for Chauncey. Lately she had been feeling restless. With the fact that her husband didn’t get DGI’s CEO position that meant she wouldn’t be getting SandStar back. Not at least in the means she originally believed she would. She wouldn’t behave much longer it was either get SandStar back or she would wage war against DGI and the Devonshire’s. Plus the more she was around the Devonshire’s the more she resented them. That little bitch Maddie made her want to throttle her. She seemed to inherit the illusion of grand dejour of what they were. Her bloodline was just as revered in Egypt and India. She had power beyond the Devonshire grasp and honestly she wouldn’t be taken for a joke much longer. Either Chauncey rewarded her with SandStar or what was this for? What did she do all this for? She told him just that earlier in the night when his disrespectful daughter and her little friend Greer tried to bash her. She wore all black because tonight was a funeral to her first goal. She wanted this painless but she would remove DGI’s claws from SandStar. Whatever plans she had to get SandStar back had changed. Now she was at the drawing board.

When Jeremiah Beecher reached out to her and introduced himself she smiled. She remembered his bid and honestly she would have taken it to retain sole ownership of her company. When he kissed her hand she could tell in his day he was a lady killer. She smirked at him as she pulled back her hand. “Yes, Mr. Beecher I do remember you. I found it strange I never met the owners but you were pleasant enough. I do have to wonder what can I do for you? Please don’t condescend me by saying you don’t want something. I’ve been at events like this since I was a little girl. People seem to think the boardroom or a office is where the deals happen. I do know that it starts right here so tell me what do you want from me Mr. Beecher?” She lifted the mesh veil over her face and stared at him. “Tell me why have you seeked me out when every major player in energy is in the building.”

“Yes that was quite unfortunate that we never got to met. My wife unfortunately was working on something that was the upmost importance.” Jeremiah said grabbing some caviar off the plate and chewing it in his mouth, still some of the best not the very best and he watched her thinking about his words. One of the biggest problems was her little contract that she signed with Jackson meaning if she left she had to leave most of the oil and DGI would still own the patent. To him and Gloria that was a no go, so he got why they had teamed up with Pierre who seemed to be in everyone’s business again but the oil she could bring in alone to BA Energy would be lucrative, the panels were good for PR but he didn’t give two shits about helping the poor and the needy or changing the fucking world. “Nothing gets by you does it Mrs. Devonshire in truth I was a bit shocked that you chose to even meet with DGI when you did let alone sign with them. I did hear a rumor that at the time you almost made a call to me but Noah Caldwell convinced you otherwise.”

“You seemed to have been a welcome addition to the happy family then, word is that SandStar and Rory’s little pet project is what kept DGI in the black last year with that entire scandal with Zerick Davis. What if I were to tell you that we could help each other out, BA Energy has been picking up oil rights left and right over the years we drill in almost every major playing field except Egypt.” Jeremiah said looking at her and then seeing her tense up at the mention about being welcome in the Devonshire family and he almost laughed did she really think the spoiled first son of Lowell would be a prince in shinning armor for her. He was a carbon copy of his father right down to not knowing what he had and valuing it or the partnership that they had created with their marriage. “Did I happen to say something wrong about the Devonshire’s your wedding was quite the talk of the town married without a hitch. No murder or mayhem at your wedding, just roses and of course marrying the man of your dreams and all of that. Honestly I don’t care about the solar panels the clean energy is way to green era for a vet like myself but the oil my dear that is where you really shine isn’t it. Has Chauncey made any movements to get back what was rightfully yours in that respect, Jackson could easily release the oil back to you if he wanted.” Jeremiah said knowing he had to play everything exactly right for her to bite. “I wonder why he hasn’t or maybe it’s because Chauncey likes to have you on a string.”

“Or maybe they let the fox in the henhouse. I’m going to get exactly what I want from the Devonshire’s. I don’t think I asked for your opinions on my marriage or my connections to whatever trainwreck is coming for them. I don’t need a lecture or indendues, because if you have something to say you should say what you want because veiled threats irritate me. You have vested interest. If I get my company back you win because you still want to buy the oil in Egypt from my company, correct?” Turning to the passing waiter she picked up a champagne flute. As she strutted walking toward the veranda. “Follow me. I need a little bit of air and this conversation shouldn’t be for everyone’s ears.” Natasha sipped the golden liquid as she leaned against the marble framing.

“Tell me Mr. Beecher, what could you offer me? I’m going to get my family’s legacy back with or without you but you have interest in me getting back because you want something. Maybe stock in B&A Energy or maybe something more? I need something that nobody can give me because honestly I won’t just leave the security of DGI for nothing. So tell me other than you witty repartee what can you give me.” Natasha slowly turned to look at him. “You wanted something and I want something.” She looked into the ballroom and saw Chauncey staring at Greer. “What can you give me?” Natasha asked as she looked at him. “My question is simple what can you do for me?”

Jeremiah looked at Natasha. She was beautiful and if he didn’t know what a loose cannon his wife could be, her evening would end differently. Smart, exotic and keen though he almost laughed at the fox in a henhouse comment for a fox she was certainly playing with her food rather than enjoying it as a meal. He was willing to entertain her on the veranda if she wished. “For a fox you’re certainly taking your time Chauncey isn’t worth all this trouble my dear but for now let’s say I bite. That I actually believe that he is such a wonderful husband that is fulfilling all your needs and wants. That he values you as more than arm candy for the evening and is actively trying to get you SandStar back. Then again he is looking at the very pregnant and delectable Ms. LeClerq. Then again that perhaps is none of my business just a keen observation from someone that has been in your position before. You’re from what I understand a smart woman so why keep playing Chauncey’s tiring and old game?” Jeremiah said following g her eyes inside to Chauncey he would give Pierre that much of credit his little girl knew how to reel one in and keep them even pregnant.

He took a sip of his champagne again looking at her seeing that she wanted to cut to the chase that was fine with him, he and Gloria had pre discussed what he was allowed to offer her. Of course his legal services should she ever need them and if things went their way she’d need them sooner rather than later and a small percentage of BA Energy stock not majority of course but enough to keep her interested. ‘We would like to purchase some oil leases from you of course divvy up that production you have to a second supplier we of course would lease them from you and in return you can help us avoid those pesky US environmental issues we have going on here, hence why we aren’t interested in clean energy. On the other front we are willing to offer you a small percentage of our stock say ten percent in the company the kickbacks from that would set you up nicely.” Jeremiah said looking at her and then taking a breath seeing that she was mulling over the offer as he continued. “I also understand that Noah has left as your attorney that is such a shame and I would be willing to offer you my assistance in any and all matters when and if you ever would need them for free of course. You never know with a Devonshrie now days and I’d hate for you to become the next Walter Friaser at this point.”

Natasha tapped her finger against the glass as she looked at Jeremiah. He was smooth but she was even smoother. It wasn’t going to be that easy to squirm out of the deal with Jackson and Dani but seeing the nanny made her smile with glee. “First and foremost Mr. Beecher I will not sign anything for less than twenty percent of B&A Energy. I do think that you have underestimated me. You see my marriage is one of convenience and the moment that I don’t have convenience anymore it’s over. I can’t feel a thing for someone who obviously doesn’t love me and I don’t love him. I rather don’t like being played and I do unfortunately see the writing on the wall. Once DGI figures a way to get rid of me and keep my panels I’m done. Chauncey will go back to the perfect little blonde bitch and I’ll be left with my tail between my legs. Wrong, so what I do know is that they blackmailed me into signing the contract in the first place and DGI has what’s called a morality clause. If Jackson and Dani aren’t well on the up and up then that will give a good lawyer plenty of wiggle room to get out of this contract.” Taking another sip of her champagne she looked at him seeing he was impressed with her savvy and how she had already thought ahead.

“Oh Jeremiah prodding me doesn’t work. I know exactly what I’m doing and when I get a chance I’m going to eviscerate Chauncey and the Devonshire’s. I never wanted to sign with DGI and they put me in a bind, however I won’t be going down that fast again. So if you would like I’d appreciate you being my divorce lawyer when the time is right. I’ll be claiming my company back but what I don’t like is you. I don’t like you and I don’t like how you operate. I see you and I want you to know that. This isn’t about my freedom it’s about financial gain and I’d appreciate if you lay off the comments to try and get under my skin. You wouldn’t do that to my father and you won’t do it to me. I married him in hopes that Atlas Falls might take to us and we might get the title of CEO but since that isn’t happening. It’s time to set DGI ablaze and get out of dodge. So many enemies and so much time that they’ll have to try and assault DGI. I personally don’t want SandStar to be involved so get me out of this deal and I’ll make sure you get what you want. As long as I get my twenty percent that is.” Natasha said looking at Jeremiah. “Do we have a deal or have you just made a new enemy in me?”

Jeremiah looked at Natasha wondering how he was ever going to get out of this alive with his wife she had wanted SandStar as a partner but twenty percent was well over her highest price she was willing to pat with. He saw one of the waiters come onto the veranda and he grabbed another caviar to cleanse his palette with the taste of the food the whipping he knew was coming from his wife. “You drive a hard bargain Mrs. Devonshire you are right Jackson does have a morality clause written into your contract seeing the way his nanny has flaunted herself tonight, I mean did you see that body I know I did. It may just be sooner rather than later that he will break that clause. As for the offer we won’t be giving you more than fifteen and even then it is something I will formally have to discuss with my wife. We will be in touch. You should probably get back into the party before Chauncey realizes you were conspiring with the likes of me.” Jeremiah said not waiting for an answer from her before he walked back into the crowd he had people to see before he disappeared into the night just like he came phase one was on the hook.


Jamal had been watching the night escalate the tension was enough to make everyone burst. Tonight things were going to change. The Devonshire’s kids were about to have to step up and he was ready to see it. They all were ready and they all were going to kick ass. As Jamal bit his lip he saw Belle laughing with some reporter. She was fine as fuck and she was a baddie but he wasn’t sure he wanted to be involved in all that. Like she was talking all that damn epic love shit. He’d tried that and thought he was about to have that with Val. Then the girl just disregarded his love and his choice. Jamal got it about her body but he also should have a voice in the choice. She took the opportunity for him to go through this with her. He took the chance for them to be a couple away from him. He couldn’t forgive her. He would never forgive that fucking hot mess so tonight Jamal planned on regressing just a little bit. Petty would always be in his blood because he was going to burn that bitch alive. She went to his club, fucked some lame ass ball player and thought he wasn’t going to know? Let alone have cameras recording them. Beep beep the cameras flashing and since she was so horrified her abortion was out how would she feel about the sextape about to come out.

Smoothly approaching Greer he looked over at her glowing eating some desserts. “I like the little chocolate thingy, it’s good man Jackie always kills in sweets. But I hear you go something very sweet right now in that media empire Ms. LeClerq congratulations to you.” Raising his champagne flute up. “So if you had a source who gave you a scoop how far would you go to protect them?” Jamal questioned. “Because if I recall correctly you hung Chauncey out to dry and I ain’t trying to be done like that. I mean I’m going up against the governor’s family. I don’t need shit biting me back in the ass.”

Greer nibbled on the snack as she watched Maddie laughing with Dylan and Wyatt across the room. She stared at Chauncey she wonder if she actually should tell him. A piece of her knew that they weren’t done but then it was Jamal’s words that steeled her against it. She hadn’t hung Chauncey out to dry he backed down from their ambitions. When it would have been the perfect time to strike. Giving Jackson no time to gain this unfortunate momentum. Now he was heartbroken and embarrassed and she felt it. He didn’t have to say it she felt it. Chauncey was a primal human and he would want nothing more than to strike. As she listened to him flatter and insult she nodded. “A source is protected under me and any of my reporters that’s my company’s word. So if you have something then maybe you should tell me exactly what it is. As for my loyalty, I think we both can question each other considering you were playing rapper thug boy almost two years ago. Some have forgotten but I haven’t so don’t shoot me Jamal just give me the scoop.”

Jamal narrowed his eyes at Greer when she called him a thug and a rapper. No bitch he was a CEO of his own label, owner of La Callie, and club Vertigo. A music label that was successful and becoming a powerful force in music. “Yeah.” He said handing her the flashdrive. “That is a sex tape with Connor Hessington and Val Ruiz on it. They fucked at my club and thought that privacy was something on the menu. She aborted my child, screwed someone at my club, and now she’s online playing victim saying I wasn’t ready for a child. Greer I want you to release this and eviscerate that bitch? I want her to be the scandal her family can’t escape from. If you can do that then I promise to always bring the hottest artist on my label and I think we can supply each other with what you want?” Greer snickered as she clutched the flashdrive. A man’s ego was a powerful and painful weapon. This girl had played with Jamal too much and that meant that she would have to pay. It was the way of the Devonshire’s and Delacroix. She did wonder why he was taking it to her and not Chauncey or Max persay. They would have done the absolute same thing but she wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. When this is released she was sure that Charles would have a aneurysm and that was enough. After how he talked to Maddie she truly wanted to take him down a peg and she also wanted to tell Chauncey. The Hessington’s really weren’t here for the Devonshire’s and she knew that for a fact. “I think you have a deal Jamal but if someone figures out you leaked this I have nothing to do with that understood. Cover your tracks and I’ll keep your nose clean.” Greer gleaming at the thought of getting Charles son in such a scandal it would make The Chronicle even more so.

“I need to find a computer, let’s see if the governors son is going to become a superstar.” She turned around and her face completely lost its color. Brock was standing here with a disapproving expression on his face. “I’ll be seeing you around Jamal, hubby I just got the biggest scoop ever!”

Brock had pulled back from Greer at the party for a bit if only to at least go greet his uncle for a brief moment. Honestly he would be backing out of using the Pub for the wedding and he wondered how he was going to break that to his poor parents. They had been asking to have the wedding at the Pub since the engagement. But with his aunt and Greer fighting earlier and his aunt striking Greer he knew now that wasn’t going to happen. They had so much drama between them and his family he was beginning to question if he was going to have to choose not that in his mind her father was any better from what he understood. Greer wanted to lay the law down about his family so he could do the same with her father. A known criminal who had sold his daughter out as bait time and time again to men for cons. Hardly the man he wanted around their son. He approached Greer when he saw her talking to Jamal and had caught the tail end of their conversation. He looked at her honestly disappointed they had literally discussed this at dinner with his siblings how her ambitions were getting the better of her.

“Are you really that gleeful about getting dragged into Jamal and Val’s mess with Connor now too? Listen the other night at dinner you swore you were moving on from the pettiness of it all. Exposing a woman like that out of pure revenge is pretty fucked up.” Brock said looking at her and the pure look of satisfaction on her face about it. He had hoped she would be over destroying people’s lives for a thrill that she had changed but maybe he had been kidding himself with that notion when it came to Greer LeClerq in general. “The other night at dinner you’d said you were trying to change but right now I’m doubting that. What has Val ever done to you that you’d expose her in some sex tape? Then you also made some under the table comment about someone being after my family too and you won’t tell us anything about it. Listen, you want to draw a line in the sand with my family, fine but I’m going to draw one with you too. I don’t want your father around our son, especially if this is the influence your family is going to push.”

Greer stepped back as she looked at Brock and her entire face changed. Was she stupid to even be trying to have a relationship with this man. Her eyes narrowed as she stuttered before she could even mutter a word. “If he gives it to TMZ then they get the sex tape then what happens? We are second to one of the biggest stories in the country? I’m sorry I’m ambitious and I’m sorry that I have a job to do. I’m going to release this video because our son will have a future beside a bar that your entire family seems to love. I’m not going to pretend that I am going to allow you to bully me right now. My father is my business not yours and you don’t get to say my family isn’t allowed around my son. If that’s the case with what I do know about your family why would I allow your family around my baby? Now you can either learn how to deal with my future or you will wake up alone. I’m not some hedonistic fiend who is getting off on this but Val and Connor is a frontpage story that will break on my blog. The traction and clicks will generate a future for our son. I won’t let him be at a disadvantage because you are too stubborn to see what’s right in front of you. Money gives you a clear leg up and my son will have all the advantages in the world are we clear? Your yearly salary will never be enough for my baby.” Greer said know she had just hurt Brock but she had no mercy.

As she looked at him with the definition of enraged. “Your aunt slaps me tonight and I didn’t press charges, I don’t give a flying damn about her feelings! I’m a reporter and I report on the news. If you don’t like my job then do something that makes me not have to work for our son. I have no sense of security in this and I’m going to work for my son. I’m sorry if you don’t like my plan of action but I’m all about this baby. Also your insane rage against my father is laughable because he has done nothing to you. In fact he is one of the few people who dislikes you but respects my choices. Unlike your family. I’m sick of this and I’m sick of fighting all this.” Greer snaps back. “Brock if my job is a problem or is it that I’m going to be successful meaning more successful than you. Can you handle being Mr. Greer LeClerq?”

Brock looked at her like she had growth wo damned heads while he stared at her she really thought this was about money? No this was about her having a sense of a conscience or at the very least dignity to not destroy a girls life with a sex tape because she felt like it. “You know what I’m not bullying you I’m simply stating a fact you are going to go out and ruin a girl by exposing a sex tape because you want to be first at something so what if some other paper got the bite about it you want to do it because it satisfies you in some sick way. There is ambition and then there is being cruel and self absorbed to be self absorbed. You probably felt the same way when you chose to run that article about Tamara and Braden too about the entire thing with Dimitri too. You want to know why I don’t want your father around our kid? Because he’d taint him just like he did you. He traded you out for revenge or did you simply just forget that part of your childhood with him? As for my families Pub and legacy I don’t think you have to worry about it too much my aunt and uncle would die before they gave it to me if your claws were involved in it.” He said staring at her.

“It’s all about money with you and I’ve tried to be nice about it and accept it but frankly my son doesn’t need it and if you’re so unhappy with my salary at the firehouse and running my own business on the side then maybe this entire thing is a mistake. I have no problem with women having careers my aunt that you always seem to want to rile and my own mother both had theirs and raised children at the same time. So your job Greer is not the problem here. The problem is that you keep saying you’ve changed but I’m starting to doubt you even know how to do that. Sometimes I wonder where you went that night when you left the engagement party and didn’t come back that night. Something changed that night and I stuck up for you to everyone there to tell them you changed.” Brock said looking at her and raising his voice so she knew that he meant it he’d have to be dumb as a sack of rocks to not see that Chauncey wanted her earlier in the night or that Greer still looked at him like the sun rose and set on his rich ass. She had protested for months to him that she had changed and that she wanted to be a better person but right now all he was seeing was the spoiled girl his entire family had warned him about. “I know I’m not Chauncey news flash, I’m never going to be that asshole. I’m not going to tell you that you are doing the right thing here and look at you proudly for destroying someone you barely know for money.”

“And that’s your problem.” Greer spat back as she rubbed her belly. “You seem to think life is a slice of pie. You can’t live like your parents did because we are in a new era. If you don’t plan for the future then you have no destination. I’m sorry if you feel like I’m hurting a defenseless girl but this is my job. A gift was dropped in my lap and I’m going to use it. Now you can disagree with my ferocity. You can disagree with my viciousness but don’t question what type of woman I am. I can change and I have. I won’t be mellow or meek or hide or diminish myself and what I want. My ambition for my company is beyond what you want me to have. You want me in the kitchen making you a meal, and birthing your babies. I’m sorry that’s not all I am. I’m cutthroat. I am strong and I am a businesswoman. Sometimes you will not agree with what I print but you will not question the fortitude and the life we are creating with each other. I’m praised for my tenacity and I hope you could see more than a sextape in me. Yes I’m malicious but I’m not inhuman. I have a heart, feelings, and emotions. Right now you are breaking me. You didn’t stand up for me! You just let her talk about our love and our relationship like it’s nothing.” Greer cried as she stepped back. “Maybe I don’t deserve something good but right now I do not deserve not to be assaulted while I’m pregnant! I deserve not to be berated by the man who should have my back!”

Greer wiped her eyes as she looked at him. “What are you insinuating Brock? Huh? I have been loyal! I could’ve gone to Chauncey. Is that what you want to hear? I can get him back but I don’t want him, Brock! I don’t want him! I want you and sadly my moral compass isn’t as great as yours. But I am still a woman who loves you and needs you. Our son does also but I won’t let him be at a disadvantage. I won’t let him be poor because that’s not how I was raised. Harvey and my father gave me the world and yes you may never understand Pierre LeClerq but he loves me so much. He loves me so much and it kills him. He sees my mother in me and I see it every time he looks at me. So no you don’t get to erase my father, just like I don’t get to erase you family.” She held up a finger to stop him from speaking. “Except Lauren isn’t your family anymore. She divorced Walter and she isn’t important in the scheme of things. Kelsey, Zach, Lucy, your parents who don’t hate me. They like me! You are so consumed with what everyone else is thinking you will hurt me. What about me! What about our family! Screw them! I’m not a good person but I’m not horrible either. I’m me! I just wish you could accept that.” Once again she was feeling like her heart was about to burst. She knew Chauncey couldn’t be the father but she wasn’t sure Brock could either. They were so fundamentally different. Chauncey wouldn’t have blinked an eye. “I’m going to go to my father’s tonight. I don’t want to be around you.”

Brock looked at her clearly irritated at the insinuation that their child would be at a disadvantage. His family lived within their means and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. It was also as why up until Greer he’d avoided shallow rich debutantes and heiresses’ money didn’t matter to him in the slightest. “He’d only be at a disadvantage because you look down on anyone that doesn’t at least have a six figure income. I’ll have you know my parents did just fine by me and my siblings. My aunt and uncle too. We all worked hard for what we had and learned to live in our means. Truly I’m sorry if that is clearly not enough for you. I know there is a healthy way to balance a career and being home but sometimes Greer I think you just want the fame and prestige not the home. I see a woman that clearly doesn’t care about destroying another woman because it suits her. I’ve stood up for you the other night at dinner with Zach and Kelsey, even Dani and Braden. I’m trying here Greer but you seem to just like to throw money at my family thinking that will make them accept you or us and all it does is make them wary of you even more.” Brock said, looking at her. He had avoided jumping in when his aunt slapped her; he had been too shocked. “I should have done better earlier with you and my aunt. I was honestly shocked by it.”

“I’m not insinuating anything but I see the way he still looks at you and you ran off right after you all but confessed to still having feelings for him. It seems like everything we attend together with you two are drawn to each other to like tonight. I saw you both across the room while I was with my uncle. The sad thing is that you are wrong. My aunt is still part of this family and you throwing Vicky in her face was tacky as hell. I don’t pretend to know what happened between her and your uncle but I damn sure know my cousin’s death destroyed her mentally.” Brock said it was also near the anniversary of her death meaning his aunt and even his uncle were more on edge about it. He looked at her when she said she would go to her father’s for the night. Maybe that was for the best. She seemed to want to cling to the man that sold her like stock towards men and right now he needed a break from her drama. “I’m trying here Greer I really am but it seems all you want is the money and if you wanted that then I’m not the man for you. I’ll do whatever it takes to make my son have a good home where he is surrounded by love and acceptance and if that means not over indulging him with money I will and we can work it out as far as custody goes. I love you and I do want to marry you but only if you meet me halfway on things Greer that is what a marriage and relationship is. That is what is healthy and best for our son. You want to go to your dads and think about that tonight then you should.” He finished not wanting to fight anymore with her and not sure how to resolve it he simply kissed her cheek before walking away and disappearing into the crowd needing some space.

Greer stood at the dessert bar holding the thumb drive and she exhaled as she shook her head. Was she running from her true love? Biting her lip Greer rubbed her belly because he all but figured out that Chauncey was the father. If he would have pushed she felt herself cracking. Why was she doing this? Greer should go right in there and tell Chauncey she was pregnant with his baby. He was just in love with her. This was it. After all she had been through it was becoming intolerable  Stomping her foot down this was her last stand against Brock. It wouldn’t work and she knew it. Greer turned her head and saw Natasha walk up to Chauncey and kiss him. For a moment her stomach turned and she didn’t know why but she pulled out her phone. Dialing a number she hadn’t called in a long time. “Uncle Harvey.” Her voice broke as she said rushing out of the ballroom. She wouldn’t be going to her father’s; she needed to be alone a night at The Chronicle penthouse at the ski resort might be the trick. They had an amazing spa that might do the trick. Chauncey had Natasha and she didn’t want to see him sprawled out with her. She could recruit Maddie and tell her the truth it could work in a parent trap scheme. For the moment bringing Chauncey’s already too grown daughter in the mix wasn’t a good idea. As mature Maddie was, she was a child.


Tonight was overwhelming to be frank. It was the first time she was out while being around all these drinks. She wanted to taste the sweet but bitter bubbly champagne, the strong nutty notes of a red wine ached to be devoured and how would she kill for a Fraiser bourbon. Say what you want about that family but they could make a good bourbon. Stiffening her upper lip she felt her heart pounding. David said he would test her to see if she had been drinking and honestly she didn’t want to die. She wanted to see her daughter become a princess and eventually a queen. That was her desire to see each of her children flourish. Hunter getting to become a father to a child biologically his own and Anderson an elected official like his father. If that’s what they wanted then that’s what she wanted. She wanted to see her grandchildren growing and just seeing Lowell being rolled around in a wheelchair was jarring. Slipping to the back of the mansion she saw Jackson and Dani walking past her. They never saw her and she stopped for a second covering her chest. Was she supposed to be back here? Well Jackie knew her for years she just had to get a moment away from the alcohol. As she saw that girl. She was walking behind the newly weds with a shit eating smirk on her face. A smile she’d once had as well. Thinking she was winning against Charles or so many others.

Stepping up she cleared her throat. “Ahem.” Startling the girl and looking at her up and down she had nerve. It was something she would have pulled back in the day no doubt. She was always trying to one up someone if it wasn’t Jackie, then Tess, always Lauren, and whenever that bitch Camille was around she had to at least try. One of the many reason she gave up Kendall was because of the notoriety she had being Ms. Kincaid not Ms. Fraiser. It was petty and superficial, eventually costing her but Brenda was standing. “Nice dress, your name is Dru right?” She said curiously. “I’ve heard so much about you but know so little about you my dear. Come shall we go to the library maybe have a chat girl to girl. I mean I know I don’t know you but your dress I used to love Mugler. That dress is art but it also is a statement I’m just wondering what you’re planning on saying.”

Dru watched Jackson and Dani speaking and actually looking as if they may have made up already. That shit was utterly impossible. She slowly stalked the room behind them never trying to make a scene at this moment. They couldn’t know she was watching their every fucking move. Her game plan was to break them apart and Pierre told her exactly what she needed to do. She was executing it and when she followed them toward the library it was when she saw Dani break free of Jackson as if she was still pissed. Good they weren’t on happy terms again and the plan was working. Seducing Jackson had been harder than she thought but a little coke would loosen him up if need be. When she heard someone clear their throat she jumped startled at the sound of another voice. Did they just see her relishing every moment of what she did? When she turned and saw Brenda she almost shit a brick. Who did this drunk mess think she was talking to? Now she wanted to get her name right. She wanted to know what statement she was making. Following the older woman into the dimly lit but hauntingly beautiful library she saw her close the door.

“Nothing truly gets past you does it Ms. Kincaid. I’ve introduced myself quite a few times and you always seem to forget my name it’s Dru Price for the I don’t know hundredth time. You know I was just around someone with that same affliction Grace Fraiser. She has those memory laps you may want to get that checked out.” Dru said walking through seeing all the first editions of the novels. As her eyes glared at Brenda. “You said you had something to say to me. I do want to mention that I don’t want to hear it.” She laughed in Brenda’s face unsure what this woman wanted. She didn’t have a clue who she was that much Dru was certain. Her mother had a flare for the dramatics and seeing her up close she wanted to attack. She felt the need to let Brenda know she needed nothing from her, and she wanted no advice. “You aren’t some caring older woman, you are a nosy old bitch who wants tea because she’s irrelevant. So whatever you want to say to me I feel like I don’t need or have to hear it. So won’t you go find your daughter the princess and have a girl talk with. One on one? Or does she even tolerate you? I know if you were my mother I wouldn’t. Good day Brenda.” She said walking past her.

Brenda snatched the little girl by her arm slinging her around to her face to face. She could honestly feel the girl trembling in her hands. Good to see she could spook a young bitch still. “I heard you were at the right place and the right time to help a lost Grace Fraiser before she got frostbite. I’ve heard that you’re sleeping around with more men than you can count. I’ve heard you are after something that took me a long time to get,little girl. You are after some respect. Well, you don’t get it by dressing like that. I used to think that my body and looks would open every door. I used to think that breaking up people’s relationships was fun or funny. When in fact made me look disgusting as a human. You have no idea what you are doing to you Dru and I see you loud and clear. Your statement you’re making is you have no self respect and you are looking for someone to love you. I think that’s what everyone is getting out of this dress, not that you are a powerful woman like you’ve tricked yourself into thinking. Now whatever game you are playing I don’t care but I do care about Walter. I care about him a lot and he seems to have faith in this Jackson and Dani thing. You seem to be very invested in Jackson now. What if I go tell Walter? Or even worse Jackie you’ve never had your throat slit so face by someone wear not a misplaced pearl. Little girl I’ve been you, hell I’m you in the future if you play your cards right. But what you want to do is spit in the face of my advice, listen and learn something from a old pro.” Brenda said letting her go seeing her eyes burning with tears.

“What’s the matter kid nobody talked to you like that before?” Brenda asked as she exhaled. “Listen you’re a vamp honey, and you have it. That thing that drives people crazy and I used to have it. Age is funny like that one day you wake up and you’re not the girl at the bar everyone is staring at, you’re the girl barely getting service. I was the first beauty queen in Atlas Falls don’t let Jackie fool you. She did win the title but I was the reason she even applied for the competition. You can’t show your hands and follow Jackson and Dani like that. You showed me you want him badly honey and if that’s your end goal when you have Lex Hessington and Zerick Davis also. I heard that Philip Montgomery is sniffing after you and sweetheart if the rumors are true stay away from Ronan Madden he’s rotted. He’s absolutely rotted.” She walked to the wetbar and poured her some sparkling water. “Dru you don’t have to take a man when you have so many before you.”

Dru was shaking; it was the first time her mother ever touched her. It was the first time she tried to give her advice. How dare she compare her basic ass to her? How dare she just say that they were alike. Had she been keeping up with her sexual conquests or had she been just been gossiping with the entire town. She wasn’t going to take much more of her lecture so she started to twist a knife she wondered if it would even hurt. Biting her lip she walked to the other side of the room. “You sound just like her.” Dru said softly. “I moved here from Florida. I loved home but it made me feel so alone so fast. I had one friend whose name was Kendall.” She saw Brenda slowly turning around. “She was amazing and smart and she always told me I should follow my head not my heart.  She died a couple of years back and I can’t seem to shake how much you sound alike.” She watched Brenda’s face fill with the realization that she may see her as her precious lost daughter. No, her mother didn’t see that she was standing before her right now. She somehow imagined Brenda would recognize her. See her as her daughter but it was nothing just like Walter. So she had to pay and hurting her was the easiest way with Kendall.

“She wanted the best for me.” Dru said with a softness. “I don’t think my personal life is any of your business Ms. Kincaid. I do believe you’ve overstepped your place. I’m sexually liberated and you clearly were sexually repressed. Secondly, you think I want him? You think that’s what I want, no not at all. That is a mess of a relationship. Dani is a mess, and Jackson is no prize. I want something so much more, I want ramifications, I want pain, and I want suffering all around. I also am a promiscuous whore because I wore a dress that these bitches couldn’t dare try to wear. You are sweet to try and give me all your old whore tricks. But I’ve been protecting myself for a long time and I’ll continue to do just that. I have gotten to the top with my skills and I will remain there because of these very same skills.” Dru said looking at Brenda’s stunned face.

With everything in her body she felt a shiver run up her spine hearing Dru say she had a friend named Kendall. Maybe that was the reason she felt drawn to this young woman. She didn’t immediately sense a kindred spirit but her flippant attitude reminded her of her. But it wasn’t until the young girl said Kendall and she lived in Florida. A gasp escaped her lips as she walked to Dru and her body was shaking. “You from Cape Kenitrich? That’s where.” She stopped as she looked at the girl. “My old whore tricks got me to the top. I married a mayor and successfully helped rear a family of excellence. You will respect me and maybe your tacky attire won’t be the talk of the evening but your brain. You think you’re so bad little girl let me tell you something. I was the first to bring ramifications and all the pain. You aren’t so special or or unique Dru, in fact you’re a retread of a vixen. It’s boring in this town honey and I’ll tell you plenty of people have done it better. You think you’re so stunning and smart but you truly know nothing little girl. You are a basic carbon copy of those before you.” Taking off her scarf she shook her head.

Dru laughed as she clapped for Brenda. “Oh you want some award for being the best whore? Look, you don’t know me. And yes I grew up in Cape Kenitrich it was my home why?” She asked knowing exactly what she was leading Brenda to. She didn’t recognize her. She didn’t know she was her daughter and that was a sin. That was a sin that Walter made and at this moment talking about her and not knowing. It exposed an open wound as her stomach clenched and became even more enraged.

“Kendall Shaw? She was your friend?” Brenda said stepping forth as she walked to the girl. “What was she like? What did she like to do? Did she enjoy dancing or was she a singer? Was she popular or anti-social. Well seeing as how you dress maybe my girl was a star like you?” Brenda approached Dru and looked at her. “When I was about your age I already had my first born Anderson and had just had Hunter. I was so depressed and unhappy in my marriage at that time. I wasn’t trying to make it work instead I went onto have an affair with Walter Fraiser. I don’t know if you know the history but it’s a might big coincidence you are my Kendall’s best friend. If you know her you should know she was adopted. I gave her up and um I’ve regretted it a lot. I think she’d be just what I need right now.” Covering her mouth slightly she gasped. “So if you were Kendall Shaw friend then I would like to know more about her. I would like to know everything.” Brenda’s voice cracked and she exhaled. “Kendall Shaw, right?”

Dru paused for a second hearing Brenda call out her government name. The name she was raised as and she remembered Pierre’s words. Taking a deep breath she released her rage boiling to the surface and contained herself. “I personally don’t know if Kendall was adopted but yes. Oh my God you’re saying you’re Kendall’s mom? Walter Fraiser is her dad?” Shaking her head in disbelief. Faking as much as she could. Once she saw that Brenda was hanging on her words. “Her family loved her so much and you’re a liar and I don’t believe you. In fact if you come near me again I’ll call the police. You assaulted me already, keep your hands to yourself. I assure you I know Kendall, but I won’t be telling you a damn thing. Stay away from me.”

“Your job will depend on it.” Brenda said with a chilling smile. “I assure you once Walter knows you have a connection to Kendall he’ll dig until he finds something. Good day Dru I don’t intend on letting you keep your place in Atlas Falls. Your disrespect is far too much. I’ll demolish your standing and leave you so broken with nothing. I’ll be seeing you around.” Brenda walked to the door and hit it as the door popped open. “I’ll be seeing you real soon.”

Dru watched her walking through the door that was once she left she gasped. Walking to the scarf on the table. She touched the scarf and smelled it as she held her mother’s belongings. Covering her mouth Dru let out a primal scream into the scarf. The smell was so pretty. It was what she would imagine her mother smelling like, lavender. “I’ll be seeing you too soon.” As tears soaked her face as she stuffed the scarf in her clutch. As she strutted out herself.


The stage was so bright and the lights were on him everyone was staring at him and his wife nodded at him. That was what he needed just to see Dani right there. He’d apologized and she did too but the tension was high. Jackson didn’t understand how they had gotten so disconnected in the most important moment in his life. As he tapped the podium he looked around seeing Max winking at him. Chauncey was stoic and standing with Maddie and Natasha. He could see Greer and her photographer telling them to take his picture. Taking a deep gulp he saw Rory and Aspen together and Bliss holding Fox standing right by them. Belle even was all ears she was sitting with Lowell and he saw his mother holding her chest. It was his moment and he knew at this moment he had no choice but to take command. Clearing his throat he smiled brightly at everyone. “I got to say I’d never think or dream to be here tonight. Our world has been behind on saving our planet. I have a son and daughter. Their names are Donovan and Jolene and I don’t know about any of you but I want to leave them the planet in the best condition.” Taking a breath he smiled at Dani. “Please welcome my wife to the stage because without her I would be nothing, without her I wouldn’t be on this path to change the world.”

The claps startled him as Dani gracefully took his hand and he kissed it. Mouthing to her how sorry he was he continued. “DGI has partnered with the innovative SandStar and together we have created the solar panels. These panels can give clean energy for five days with one day of sunlight. Tomorrow we will be breaking ground in Montana and starting production on the panels and we will be starting right here giving our community free energy. Right in the city we all love Atlas Falls. My entire life I have lived in the upper echelon of life. I never went to Scottswood until I met some of the most powerful and beautiful people right there. They haven’t had a good break but this will give them something no other have. Free electricity, remodeling of the housing projects, and revamping of a community with new businesses. Some might call this gentrification but I take it as us taking the beauty of Scottswood and transforming it into something even more. Tonight is about DGI energy division stepping into a new lane. My father was a oil barron and he bought plenty of the rigs and off shore tankers. People in the seventies and eighties had no clue the detriment they were doing to our environment. Together DGI has partnered with Ecofund to rectify the damage we’ve done over the years. Restore wildlife and build on not just solar energy but wind as well. We are using what the planet has given us to restore the planet to it’s most natural and pure state.” Jackson took a breath and continued.

“Tonight I will be honoring three men, three men who took the risk to purify our planet and change the way energy and fossil fuels will be used forever in the American market. May I please see Charles Hessington, Walter Fraiser, and last but damn well not least Atticus Kavanaugh. Charles has put Pennsylvania funds into the revitalization of Scottswood neighborhood, Walter is determined to restore a community that has been underfunded and often times forgotten, and Atticus whose home country of Isla De Cruces will be one of the the first to have the DGI panels.” As he looked at each man join him on stage he turned to Dani who was placing sashes on them as well she was presenting each with a plaque. “I would also like to take a moment to speak on the future of DGI.”

“A legacy that I had no clue about. I had no doubt my father was Superman but seeing what he had to do to make DGI the success it is and always will be is commendable. Not only that my family, we are going through a very trying time. My father is dying, and I don’t believe that is a secret but to each one of my siblings, to our family friends, and to my mother. I want you all to know DGI is family, it’s our home more than this very building. Lowell Devonshire has built a incomparable record and legacy. I do believe that nobody will ever be able to match what he has done and will continue to inspire us to. We all have our issues between each other but we are the Devonshire’s and tonight is our night. We might be bracing for the inevitable end but we are also moving to a new future and if you all let me we will take you into that future.” The roaring claps startled Jackson as he looked back at Dani and saw her proud face. Even though she was pissed at him she was proud of him. He couldn’t love her anymore more at this moment. Pulling out a pair of big scissors his eyes bulged at the size. Leading to more laughter. “Tonight we cut the ribbon of a partnership that will expand us all into new lanes. We are right our own history, the new history of DGI.”

Dani had made the rounds with that smile plastered on her face after her meltdown in one of the many bathrooms where she locked a door and stared at a mirror for what felt like ages. She had no idea what or how she would make it through the rest of the night but she was going to at least try she’d done it on and off for years with Lex. She took a few calming breaths, grabbing one of the tissues on the counter to dry those tears, she steaded her breathing and then tossed the tissue before unlocking the door and walking out. She would check in with Kelsey or Zach later for reassurance that she wasn’t a fucking basket case and figure something out. She had been speaking with a few hospital members when Jackson had approached her and they walked the room for abit, her quietly apology coming out after his. They started to walk to the library and she simply pulled away from him not willing to just let bygones go just yet with him it was the Fraiser in her and she was still horrified at what he had accused her of and her temper had got the better of her too. When it was time to take the stage she simply stared ahead she looked at her father too long he’d know she was off and Charles well looking at her godfather and former employer too long he’d know too. She’d stayed back behind the curtain watching her husband give the speech of his life and was content to stay there if needed.

When he invited her out she simply braced the crowd with a smile on her face like she had on the campaign trail. They wanted a show she’d give them one and for a split second she felt guilty for it. She was proud of Jackson of course she was but everything felt tense right now and jumbled after their fight and she graciously took his hand in hers. Her eyes briefly had caught Lex’s for a moment and she wondered if even he saw through her thick facade at the moment that was the last thing she needed him badgering her about her marriage or the state of her marriage. She didn’t bother looking at Dru. If she did she’d get all self conscious again and her words to Jackson would come back about how awful they were about what she said, she knew he wasn’t having an affair, right? She took the sashes as Jackson spoke placing them on Charles, her dad and then Atticus while the team brought out the gigantic scissors which were more for show than anything and saw the other men grab it as well while they cut it. The crowd roared with the clapping the music played and she heard the popping of more champagne bottles opening her breathing was almost hollow watching the crowd react before she was jolted back to reality when she felt a hand on her back and almost jumped before seeing it was Jackson reaching for his hand hoping he took it to reassure her everything would be okay. That they’d be okay after the fight. “You did great.” She said quietly looking at him as she watched Charles looking at them both.

“I didn’t feel great.” Jackson confessed. “It felt horrible and it’s been feeling horrible since we yelled at each other. Dani, look I know what I said and I know I shouldn’t have said it. In fact I regretted it instantly. I’m not cheating, I’m happy and I know we are having those strange first year lumps. I don’t like them and I know you don’t. But together we are going to figure this out. We are stronger as Jackson and Dani Devonshire, not who we were before that. Look I hate that I yelled, I hate that the tension of what we are about to receive is pulling us apart instead of together. So instead of fighting for the rest of the night can I tell you what I didn’t say?” Clearing his throat he touched her face. “Sometimes when I’m alone I feel like the world is too heavy, in fact I feel like life has overwhelmed us. Two babies at once, a whirlwind romance, and us breaking generations of hate. We have a lot on us but we also are a team and tonight we forgot that. I forgot I have your back no matter what and you have mine. I can’t imagine life without you and I can’t imagine a future without us together running DGI. It’s not just about me Dani, it’s about us and I want you to be at my side. My father made a big mistake tuning out my mother’s place. I won’t do that to you. You are just as vital to the future of DGI as I am and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry if I made you feel like you weren’t or you’re not. Because Dani you are the air I breathe girl.” Jackson said as he rubbed her face and kissed her forehead. “I can’t think right when we’re mad at each other, I can’t breathe when you aren’t next to me, and it feels like I’m suffocating when I think that some other man could make you as happy as I have. Okay that wasn’t my speech but it’s my speech to you.”

Jackson looked down as he felt her placing her hand on his chest. “I love you Dani and I’m so sorry babe. You are the epitome of everything I need and want.” Jackson said as he saw she was melting and she was calming. “If you’d allow it right now I want to kiss you so badly because in a few minutes our lives, our children lives, and everything that comes with is forever changed. We are the future together, never apart. I remember my vows to Danielle Grace Fraiser and will try my damndest to honor them.”

Dani honestly didn’t want them to be fighting like they were lately and about little things too. Like the fundraiser with Lex being the big one and then her missing dates and times she was going to take her cellphone in and get it looked at. Maybe something wasn’t working right with it to cause everything that could happen right? Even if she wanted to stay mad at him she wasn’t really sure that was possible long term. He made it all sound so simple that they could just move past what happened. She wanted that more than anything to put the entire fight behind them and the craziness of the last few months in a rearview. Maybe their trip to Montana would do that. She wanted to not think about Dru and what the press was saying and hearing him say he wasn’t having an affair eased her mind a ton. It was their first year of marriage and as parents, they’d make it she knew that.

“I don’t want to fight anymore Jackson. I just don’t know what is happening with everything. The one thing I do know is that I love you more than anyone and if I ever made you doubt that with the fundraiser stuff with Lex it’s over, I’m out. I love you way too much for that and given how much the press likes to gossip and talk we might as well give them something to write about other than our half naked nanny and baseless rumors.” She said looking up at him she had meant that she’d quit if it meant keeping him and she didn’t care about the optics of it all. She looked around the room with a coy smile on her face as she did the idea, sparking her interest completely at how devastated the gossip rags would be and maybe the rumor of Dru would die down. “Or you could wrap up this speech by introducing your dad up here and then kiss me later but if you must I’m not going to stop you.”

Jackson looked at her and smiled brightly. It took a moment to let cooler heads prevail but here they were. Smiling at each other again and looking stupidly in love. That was the only expression he liked to see on her face unless she was tied up. Biting his lip he leaned in and whispered. “You turned me on so much when you yelled at me. Oh Dani when we get home I’m giving the twins to the granny’s and tonight it’s momma and papa’s time.” He leaned in and looked into her eyes. “I trust you unequivocally and no you aren’t going to quit and I’m not joining you either. I trust you and I won’t let my jealousy get in the way anymore okay?” He prayed he could keep the green eyed monster at bay but something about Dru and Lex made him feel like they were under attack. How they transformed what happened on his run that day. It made him see two things, Dru was after something and Lex wanted his wife.”We got a lot to talk about okay.”

Jackson stepped out and was going to introduce his father but turned around leaving people whispering. He rushed back out with his wife holding her hand. He could see Lex and Dru looking pissed. “I want to introduce a man that needs no introduction. I give you all here Lowell Devonshire.” With that Jackson walked off the stage but before he did he turned Dani and dipped her kissing her which lead to hoots and hollering. He smiled at her. “I’m sorry again if you didn’t know that.”


Jon walked up the stairs as he took a deep breath. The lights were on which was strange because everyone was inside. As he opened the door he could hear the TV lightly from somewhere. As he saw Whitney and Ryan looking downstairs, he went upstairs and he felt his stomach clenching. The sound of the TV was getting louder as he opened door after door. How many fucking bedrooms did they need in the guesthouse? As he walked to the last bedroom he opened the door. “Dear God.” He said immediately. She looked even more frail than normal. Her body was convulsing on the floor and the foam that ran down her mouth. “Call 911!” He screamed down stairs as he rushed to Skye on the floor and tried to steady her body. “It’s okay Skye, you hear me?” As he steadied her body and saw her stop shaking. “Skye what did you take baby? Come on, Skye you gotta wake up. Help me!” He screamed as he held her in his arms. For the first time in his life he froze. He didn’t know what to do and he couldn’t believe that this was happening. As he opened her hand he saw a bag of coke fall out. “No baby, I’m so sorry. You hear me Skye? I’m begging you to forgive me.”

Ryan rushed into the room. “Yeah we have twenty-eight year old woman overdosed.” He said looking at the bag of coke on the marble floor. “Jon? I need to see if she’s breathing. You gotta check if she’s breathing.” He looked at Whitney who had tears in her eyes. “Whit he’s in shock you have to do CPR. Okay? I’ll trade out with you okay thirty compressions, two breaths okay just like we had to practice at home.” Once Miles swallowed a block and they freaked out it was Lex who ended up saving Miles. After that they took classes on CPR. “Please hurry okay we don’t know how long she’s been out.”

Jon could feel Ryan pulling him from Skye. As he shook his head and kept repeating how sorry he was. He knew he pushed Skye into using drugs again. She was fragile and hurting and he knew that. He knew she was in just as much pain and he just let her fall down. He didn’t hold her up. What kind of man was he? He was a mess when she got pregnant and now he couldn’t even support and love her. Jon felt like a failure at this moment and knew he missed the bigger picture God was sending him. He let his flesh fuck him over and right now he was so lost. He felt his phone vibrating in his pocket and his body chilled. “Please Whitney save her.” Jon turned away, unable to watch this.

Whitney had been with Ryan walking the estate knowing that her father would notice her absence at the ribbon cutting the sound of that speech carried through the entire estate. By the time they had reached the gatehouse and saw the light on she and Ryan ha cautiously followed Jon inside the house, it was luxurious just like the mansion but what was eerie was the sound from one of the bedrooms the sound of low talking like a TV no other sound in the room. She heard Jon yelling up the stairs and rushed along with Ryan towards the sounds and then covered her mouth in horror at the sight of Skye convulsing on the floor her entire body shaking as she saw Ryan reach into his pocket and dial 911 and she didn’t know what overcame her as she started screaming at the sight, the girls face covered in vomit her lips turning blue and she heard other footsteps on the stairs turning to the doorway as she saw Devin arrive with Merci by his side. She was still numb as Ryan led her to Skye and she tried frantically to remember how to do CPR they had all gotten certified after that incident with Miles years ago. “I can’t.” She simply stammered her hands shaking so bad she wasn’t sure what to do with them.

Devin and Merci had saw everyone enter the guesthouse and he was taken aback at how huge it was as the opened the door and then he heard the screaming upstairs. He simply held Merci back as he watched Ryan calling an ambulance and Whitney freaking the fuck out and he looked out the window pretty sure he saw Brock outside the party taking to Greer he wasn;t sure what was going on between them maybe a fight. More so he didn’t have time to answer as he opened up the window and screamed at them both. “Brock, get up here and hurry!” He only hoped Brock had heard him over everything as he went back to hold a screaming Merci.

Her eyes focused on her sister. Just seeing the foam spilling out of her mouth. Her eyes were rolling behind her head. She looked like it was over. Skye had overdosed before but they threw that bitch in a shower and she woke up. They shoved a ice cube up her twat and did everything. She was going to leave. She was going to be an actress and Merci felt her chest tightening. She began to weep. Why didn’t they see what drug usage did to their family?

She thought she wouldn’t do this to her. As she saw her best friend, her sister, and the only person who was her friend. As Merci gripped Devin she started to breathe heavily. “No, no, no, no not this again.” She said pressing her head against Devin. “I can’t do this Devin, I can’t lose my sister.” She cried out as she saw Brock rushing up his stairs. “How could she do this to me again. She promised!” As she looked at Jon in the corner looking shocked. “You!” She screamed as she rushed to Jon and slapped him and began to hit him. “You did this to her! You made her use again! You did this Jon! This is your fault!” She could feel Devin holding her back. “No it’s his fault! You killed my sister! You killed the only person I have, how could Jon! Why? Why? Skye please wake up!”

Jon fell back as he watched Devin dragging Merci away as Brock rushed upstairs and immediately began to do CPR on Skye. “I’m sorry Merci, I know I messed up. I messed this all up God Brock save her. Please save her.” Jon’s face had a knick on his cheek as a droplet of blood trailed down as if it was a tear. “Brock is she breathing?”

Devin had simply held Merci back as she had went to attack Jon for everything involving Skye he knew that Jon had fucked up with Skye but he didn’t think she’d resort to an overdose to escape that shit. Skye could have left town if what she had told Merci was true given what he knew of their earlier conversation. Something had to have set her off on this path and he knew it was likely Cassie or Maggie better it was probably both and he simply let Merci let out her anger as he had seen Brock rush up the stairs and into the room clearly going into firefighter mode as Grrer stood in the doorway. “Ryan called an ambulance.” He managed to get out holding firmly to Merci as he watched Ryan gather Whitney from Skye to give Brock room.

Brock had been out in the clear air he needed to clear his head after he and Greer had disagreed about that entire mess with Val and Jamal and he had ran to Devin’s screams. Clearly something was wrong and he burst up the stairs and through the door seeing who he assumed was Skye frothing at the mouth her lips blue and he quickly knelt down using his fingers to clear her airway seeing Greer staring at him in shock. He felt for a pulse before he started the breathing and the chest compression. “One two three.” He said placing his hands and giving her compressions and checked again and then repeated the process. He looked at the bag recognizing the bag from a few calls and looked up at Devin. “Get me a cold washcloth now!” He didn’t wait for a response as he tilted her on the side to see if that helped before rolling her back over and doing compressions again this time checking for a pulse. “It’s faint but she’s here, when did you find her and does anyone know how long she has been out?”

“I just found her a few minutes ago, Brock.” Jon said approaching her with his eyes locked in on the blue shade her face was. He felt his stomach locking up and he could see Merci starting to break. He stooped down to Skye and moved the hair from her face. “Listen to me Skye, your sister is hysterical and Ryan and Whitney are so hurt by this. Me I’m a mess baby please wake up and let me fix this.” He could hear sirens approaching the manor. Jon picked up Skye and saw everyone looking at him. “I’m sorry Merci.” As he passed Ryan who was holding Whitney so tightly. Then he looked at Merci who was crying so hard and wailing that it seemed to permanently embed on his soul. The sound of her cries would never leave his ears. “Skye, please I need you. You hear me?”


Lowell was being rolled on the stage as his eyes were on his children. As he heard people clapping for him. He waved as he looked at the faces of the people he loved. Selina was standing strong, Mason as well with Zach, Talia and Simon standing with that boy he didn’t approve of. His son Jackson was standing behind the curtain of the stage with his wife Dani. Chauncey, Max, Bliss, Rory and Belle all were standing together. As he felt his chest swelling with pride. As he was placed in front of the substantially smaller podium. His eyes and heart swelled as he knew this would be the last time he was seen in public. Tapping his finger against the podium. “I am not going to bore you all with my last speech. I will keep it light and I want to tell you all when one person dies that leads the family you must pass the reins. I don’t care to do the optics but I do need to say one thing before I pass the reins. I need to speak to you all directly. I haven’t been a good man to you all. Chauncey my boy I love you so much. You are my pride and I need you to be the anchor now you hear me? Just because you didn’t get what you want that doesn’t mean you aren’t at the top. Jackson, you’ve impressed me so much over the last few years. I treated you as if you weren’t special because of your illness but I see that has made you so stronger. I missed out on knowing you completely as your mother does and that is one of my greatest mistakes. Maximillia you are strength and resilience. What I regret most with you is never being enough for you. Your father wasn’t there for you and I let Jackie also take on most of the stress that you put us through. I am sorry I wasn’t good enough to be your father you always deserved more love than I even gave you. Oh my last boy, Rory you’ve impressed me by forging your own path. Son look at me you don’t have to be like me or anyone else because I’m sure you’ll be a better man than all the other Devonshire’s.” Lowell stopped pointing at Rory. Then he turned his head to his other daughters. “Oh Bliss, how I’ve failed as a man and a father. The hatred I have for myself is far too much. You suffered because I selfishly let you live a life without me. I will never and I mean never forgive myself for letting you marry him.” Lowell wiped his eyes as he could hear the silence in the room. “And to my youngest child, oh my Isabelle you are a lot like two of your other siblings. All you can see is what you want but don’t forget to live a happy life being Belle, live in your skin as a Devonshire little girl. They can dislike you but they can’t and won’t ever turn their back on family. You hear me.”

Lowell took a deep breath as he slapped the podium as the tears wouldn’t stop. He was feeling a swelling in his chest and he was lightly dizzy but he had to finish. “Tonight I will show DGI and all of you the new positions of my children in the company with a effective slideshow that Talia did for me.” He heard everyone laughing. “But one more thing.” He looked at Jackie. “No matter how far apart we are, no matter what I’ve done I will be waiting on you. When you open the gates of heaven Jackie I’ll be waiting for you. But I ask you please protect them all because as much as our four need you the other two do as well. Zerick I’m sure you hate me still but I want to tell you that you are a force. Unlike the man who sicked you me you are one of the best rivals I’ve ever had. You didn’t need anyone to take on Lowell Devonshire. I do want you to use that energy to protect your aunt and cousins. We are all bonded do you hear me and I am so sorry.” His voice broke. “I’m sorry that I didn’t protect your mother.” The gasps around the room were enough to take his breath away. “You should have been with us and I feared you. I don’t fear a lot of people but you my boy you are a worthy adversary and anyone who goes up against DGI will learn that with you in the mix. Oh Jackie. Ijustwanna say.” His words were starting to get so hard to express. His eyes were blurry as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“The future of DGI.” Lowell tried to open his mouth but a gasp came out. “The future of DGI.” He looked up at the screen as pictures of Chauncey and Maddie flashed across the screen. “I will be presenting.” He said trying to continue as he saw Jackson, Dani, Jolene, and Donovan. “I will be giving the title of.” As the next photo of Max and Sebastian holding her swollen belly. “The CEO of DGI will be.” It then flashed to Bliss, Hunter, and Fox. He could see his nursing assistants walking toward the podium and stage. He couldn’t speak it was as if the words were trapped in his throat as the words somehow wanted to choke out. Rory and Aspen were the next photograph he saw. “I’m so tired.” He said lowering his head. “The CEO will be.” Lowell gagged as he saw David and Belle kissing. Was he sleeping with his daughter? “Oh Belle.” Lowell’s eyes closed as he fell face first on the stage.

Chauncey had been staying in the crowd by his daughter and Natasha his eyes didn’t miss that slight from his father in the slideshow. He looked over at Natasha wondering if she was even slighted in the least and then his eyes had went back to his father. He knew what was going to happen the rumors had been swirling for weeks and it wasn’t unnoticed to him or certain people in his inner circle at DGI that his father had met with Jackson and Dani about the CEO position. Not to mention his father and Simon had another meeting afterwards he knew what it meant even if his father hadn’t talked to him about it, he was going to name Jackson his heir a slight that for now he was willing to swallow. He was willing to entertain the idea until Jackson fucked up and when that did happen he would sway the board to repace him back into power, but he knew the smart move was that he had to bide his time till that did happen. The company didn’t need any more embarrassment Jackson would provide that down the line and he wanted to look pristine for when it did happen. He had sat back casually clapping as if he wasn’t boiling on the inside with rage at it all how he had been simply passed. Looking over at Greer off and on did she really think Brock if all people could give her what she wanted that power or prestige?

He had watched as his father came up to the stage and began his speech about the company and how he was stepping down and then saw the man he had tried to live up to his high expectations over the years. He almost wanted to roll out when he saw his father struggling to take his breaths and then looking over at his siblings who were all watching the scene as well. Was his father not feeling well and if he wasn’t why was he continuing on with this announcement and slide show. He simply stood on in shock when the picture of Belle had appeared with David before he saw his father collapse onto the floor in a heap on the stage, teh gasps from the crowd coming out as he saw the nurses rushing to him and his feet moved quickly not caring who he shoved over on the way probably that asshole Brock as he rushed to the stage. Leaning down to his father as he saw his sisters screaming in horror and Jackson rushing to the stage as he watched Rory trying to do the same through the crowd. “Dad! Can you hear me? Someone call an ambulance.” Chauncey said into the crowd before he looked at his brother. “What happened? He was fine earlier in the night.”

Jackson reached down and took his father’s pulse as he felt the nurses and aides moving him and Chauncey out of the way. Looking at the color slowly draining from his father’s face he saw that picture of Belle and David and his eyes went straight to the noble doctor. He played in all their faces he was fucking their little sister. He wanted to run out there and beat David’s face in and he noticed that the man wasn’t making his way over here. The nursing staff his father hired had however swooped in and were trying as hard as they could. He grabbed Chauncey as Rory ran up and stood by them. “It’s okay he’s just exhausted right now. He is just really tired.” That was what he was telling himself. His father was one of the strongest men he knew and seeing him being resuscitated made him lose his breath. Jackson looked at Dani who was walking to Jackie, Belle, Bliss, and Max. He shook his head at his wife knowing that something was wrong. He didn’t want to say it. His father looked as if he was dying and it was a deeply painful moment. “We should go with the family and let them work on dad okay? We can comfort the family.” He held his youngest brother back and could tell Rory was breaking. “He’s going to be alright.” Jackson said unsure if that was the truth.

Rory had been with Aspen and his mother in the crowd. No one seemed excited about his engagement to Aspen except Max. Maybe it was the fact it was so last minute and people were starting to refer to them as a drama filled couple between her pregnancy and now their engagement at other events he supposed he deserved that label. He really wasn’t trying to upstage his order brother at every turn; it was just happening naturally when he did these things. He wondered where Yasmine had run off to and hoped she was happy with that doctor dude that seemed like a great guy. His eyes had found his father’s in the crowd and was actually a little surprised that he had included him and Aspen in the slideshow. He knew his father wasn’t a huge fan of Aspen in generaL but he had to acknowledge the respect in his choice and then watched in horror as he collapsed into a heap on the floor and he had simply held his mother and then Aspen before fighting his way to the stage. Seeing someone on the phone calling for an ambulance for his father and he held back tears when he finally reached his brothers.

“Dad?! Hey look at me or any of us.” Rory said frantically as he looked at his brothers who had moved from their fathers side to actually dragging him backwards so the medical team his father had with him could begin what he knew was CPR  meaning it was bad, really bad. They didn’t just do CPR to do CPR they did it when something bad happened. “He was fine earlier in the day and the week none of this makes any sense. Oh my God mom.” Rory said looking at his brothers before glancing back at his sisters who were holding their mother along with Aspen and Dani. He felt someone push him aside as he saw a team of paramedics loading his father onto the cart and didn’t even realize he was shaking at the sight watching them place oxygen over his face.

Tess stood back as she watched the event unfolding. She had done her part. What was done, was done. She’d never and she meant ever would forgive him or forget him. As she stared at Forbes whose eyes widened in bewilderment. The timing was perfect. It couldn’t have gone any better if she didn’t plan it. Stepping forward she was watching a God struggle for his last breath. The man she put on a pedestal and the man who drugged her through so much. She was a scared her, she was a scarlet woman. Persona non grata in the town that raised her and her own family. Jackie had turned her father and mother against her. She placed their old asses in a nursing home the moment her mother broke her hip and father’s mind slipped. Her chest was heaving and her hand shaking. She saw everyone comforting Jackie. Nobody had even looked at her but them. The two men who were most important to her at this very moment. One to hurt in the worst possible way and the other who got her here at this point. Forbes Montgomery and Pierre LeClerq. Tonight was supposed to be the moment a new generation stepped into power but it truly is the beginning of them seeing how the old guard really plays.

Raising her glass to Forbes she drank a gulp of champagne. Then slowly strutted out of the ballroom hearing voices screaming. Turning around she looked back at Bliss and Belle. She would be the catalyst and those ties she was building would be cut. Tess needed her daughter and Belle wouldn’t be taken away so easily. Not by Jackie or any of those other siblings who would twist her mind. Bliss would also learn the hard way considering that she isn’t Jackie’s no matter what that woman did for her. She kissed Lowell goodbye and felt Pierre’s shadow following her. Good, it was time to exert her power. She was Ms. Lowell Devonshire and tonight they’d all remember a valuable lesson. “You were everything I ever wanted and nothing I ever needed. Good riddance.”