3×14 Sun Will Set

3×14 “All The Rest
Written by: Chris Coleman, Kristi Clark, Scott Andrews and Kelly Zollo
Guest Starring: Maura West (Camille Devonshire)
Warning: Episode may contain language, sexual situations and violence.
Theme Song: Shadow Of The Day- Linkin Park


Merci had set up the rehab in New York and then she was going to help Skye with her apartment wherever she wanted to go. It has been tense these last few days with Jon and Skye’s official breakup. Skye told her how he poured out his heart and begged for a second no third no maybe fourth chance. It was understandable but she wasn’t heartless. The man pleaded for a shot and she chose her sanity and sobriety. That was commendable after all Skye hadn’t made the smartest choice when it came to men or relationships. Devin had been by Jon side and he had been here for her. She even brought them food at the station yesterday she saw he needed someone after that rejection. Call her softening but she was absolutely hating what was happening all of the sudden. The way Skye looked when she told her what Jon said to her. She wasn’t over it in fact she saw the love still painfully etched into her face. Adjusting the duffel bag on her shoulder she looked at Devin. “Are you positive I packed all her goodies and toiletries? I got her all the snacks for the road trip and those rehab places never have good product. My sis doesn’t have to look like she is in rehab. We’re fab bitches you know. She’s a week sober and I think she looks good what about you?” It was really sweet of Devin to take such a interest and care into us. I know we are a different combo but she really likes you for me. She tells me that all the time.”

As she got off the elevator Merci looked at Devin and smiled at him brightly. “This is going to be good for her you know? She’s finally going to get a chance to find herself and get some clarity. She was gallivanting in Europe with Esme? I hate to say it but if you think Skye is a hot mess you ain’t seen a mess until you see Esme. She’s two times the trouble and ever since Skye came back she hasn’t been the same. It’s strange but I swear when I talk to Esme she’s hiding something. Either way my sis is about to get the help she needs and that’s all we all want right?” Looking at him she stared at her diamond ring. “Devin, can I tell you something? I’ve been thinking about this long and hard but I can’t get married until she feels comfortable coming back here. Would you consider a wedding somewhere else? What about California with Rochelle?” Merci stared at her watch she had enough time to get Skye heading off and head to the church for Lowell’s services. “I don’t believe he’s really gone. Lowell really did a number on the city.”

Devin had stayed out of it for the most part the last weekend he didn’t want to pick a side and neither did Merci. He listened when Jon needed an ear to lean on and tried to support Merci with her sister too. It was commendable in his mind that Jon was trying to make it right with Skye. It just seemed maybe Skye didn’t get it or she did and just needed space on it all. Not to mention that he knew what Skey really needed was a rehab so she didn’t go off the rails and snort an entire bag of bad coke again. Jon had been so focused on that leading a new mystery it wasn’t Ronan product it was different and he actually wondered if it was Gia Falcones product regardless Skye had refused to say where she had gotten the bag. He’d spent the week helping Merci pack up Skyes’ apartment and get her things from Jon’s house it was sobering in a way for his friend he thought. Jon often looked like someone had killed his dog now and as his friend he was glad that he was leaning on him and Miranda through this entire thing with Skye. On the elevator ride up he checked a few messages and then looked over at Merci as they got off and she asked if she packed everything.

“Yes you packed everything hence why you printed the list and I checked it off while we packed everything. I think it’s a good thing that you are going to drive up with her and drop her off to get help Merci and taking a bit of time off work for you to do it, I don’t want you to worry about the rest you have some events coming up but Skye is your priority and i completely support that.” Devin said he knew that she had Zach and Mason’s wedding coming up and then the casino opening too but he wanted her to focus on her sister, that was her priority and people could understand that. When she brought up their wedding he had to take a moment to think about it Jon was going to be his best man that wasn’t even a question and while he wasn’t tied to the idea of a wedding in Atlas Falls as his family was spread out Rochelle was in California his parents were road tripping the entire US a destination wedding may just be what they needed. Away from the drama of Atlas Falls away from the craziness of it all and it was a way to hopefully respect their prospective maid of honor and best man without all the baggage. “Honestly a destination wedding may just be the ticket we all need. I know you don’t care for Jon but he’s my partner, has my back and is my best man you know? It avoiding the shitshow of their past here gets us down the aisle I am down for whatever you want to do.”

Merci nodded wondering if she could do a location wedding. Her idea was to have it maybe in LA for an amazing and unforgettable event. With all the parties and events she’s done for the elite and upper crest she deserved an amazing wedding and what better way to advertise her business but throw the most elaborate event ever. As she waved at the nurse from yesterday. “Hey Phoebe, did you go to Renards? If you didn’t get the Valentino dress on loan I’ll be outraged for you? That will look amazing and.” She paused as she saw the robust nurse round the corner looking at her shocked expression. As she turned around. “Phoebe why didn’t anyone tell me Skye’s room was moved. I expressly stated that I was going to be back.” As the nurse handed her two envelopes she scowled at the woman as she looked at the names on the envelope. No this wasn’t happening. It was her name and Jon’s in Skye’s handwriting. “Where is she? Where is my sister because I’m not even going to entertain this?” She asked dropping the bag and scanned over the words on the paper. She shrieked loudly as she looked at Devin. “No!” She wouldn’t accept this. Pulling out her phone she dialed Skye’s number but all she got was a busy signal. Her eyes began to blur with tears. As she stomped her foot furiously jumping up and down in the grief as she melted into Devin’s arms as she screamed into his arms.

She had all these plans for Skye to get better with her help and eventually storm Broadway or some critically acclaimed indie film. She was sure of it but reading that letter she wasn’t sure she’d see Skye anytime soon. She specifically told her not to look for her she’d reach out and she was attending rehab. She told her that Jon was the love of her life but they tarnished whatever it was that they had. As she looked at Devin she handed him the letter to Jon. He was coming up here and she couldn’t see him. She thought if they just communicated and truly talked no grandstanding maybe the could make some headway. “I can’t believe this is happening. She left Atlas Falls, Skye left without saying goodbye, she just left and a damn letter?” Merci seethed as she wiped her face. That is when she spotted Jon turning the corner. “I can’t tell him.”

Devin didn’t speak to the nurse when she handed Merci the two letters but he had peaked inside the empty room, bed perfectly made in new sheets waiting a new patient. All the flowers and balloons had been cleared out. Skye was no where to be found perhaps she had checked herself out of the hospital. Then again he knew Merci had been the one to reach out to her and discuss her rehabilitation plans and he had assumed they were both going to go together. That had been the entire point of the suitcase they packed for her and then Merci began to scream and sob and he glanced at the one word in the letter that stood out to him gone. As in gone from her life or gone from town he wasn’t sure what he did know was that Merci was upset. Upset enough to be breaking down in the middle of the hallway and clinging to him and he simply rubbed her back. The detective in him made mental notes to check with the nurses hell maybe even ask Jayden where Skye had went off too, if he had to maybe even talk to the Hessigntons. Had something happened to cause her to want to get up and leave like she did without so much as a phone call and instead wrote letters?

“She’s been through a lot Merci. She did talk to that psychiatrist while she was in here maybe that was what they recommended that she do for now. I’ll talk to some people maybe someone here will know what happened okay?” Devin said knowing that it didn’t offer her any comfort on the matter nor did it likely ease her mind but it was the only thing his brain could think of. The only explanation that he had for it maybe it was what the psychologist at the hospital had recommended she do a clean break and a chance to start her life over. He saw Jon round the corner and his heart went out to him even though he had his entire life turned upside down with Skye and Miles he was trying his damnedest to make it right with her and he bit his lip. He didn’t want to see his friend in any more pain or agony over Skye Morgan but he felt a mood shift inside himself that this would gut him, maybe even more so than Miles with the Hessington’s did. “Hey we just got here. Listen before you go in the room you want to go get a coffee or something?” He saw Jon side eyeing him he was avoiding the doorway and then he saw Merci handing him the letter. “I’m sorry man.” He finished knowing there was no turning back now that Jon had that letter.

Jon opened the letter as his eyes scanned the words as his heart dropped he wasn’t sure what to say. Skye had left him a literal dear John letter. Folding his arms as he looked at Merci wondering if the letter she was holding was hers. He truly wanted to know what her letter said. This however was painful and she basically said that he had broken her heart. That she couldn’t open up to him again after all the pain. That made all of the sense but for one moment he wished Skye would have just spoken to him. Taking the letter he placed it in his back pocket as he nodded his head. “So she left you as well? Fuck!” He screamed as he paced back and forth feeling the tension inside of his stomach rise. How could she just throw it all away. Was he not worth it? Was he not worthy of a second chance from the woman who gave their child away? The rage festered while the pain simmered. He took a breath and nodded at Merci and Devin. “This is what she always does. When things are hard or complicated turns to drugs and running. I’m not here to bash her. I’ve done that enough.When I haven’t been perfect. I feel like I contributed to her running this time and I can’t forgive myself for taking your sister away from you Merci. I’m sorry and I know that you don’t want to hear this but I love her. I truly love her and I’m sorry it took so long for me to truly realize that.”

Jon looked at Devin. “I should be going to the station. Maybe throwing myself into work and trying to fix the damage I’ve caused.” Jon looked at Merci who had tears in her eyes. Instead of walking away he walked to her and hugged her. It was brief but he whispered in her ear. “Skye is a survivor and she’ll get through this I swear it.” As he pulled back he saw Devin smiling. “You take the day off I’ll cover for you, I think you have more important things to handle. I should be going. I’ll see you both at Lowell’s service alright?” Jon couldn’t be around people right now all he wanted to do is look at casefiles and drown in a bottle of booze. With that moment he walked away to the elevator and pressed the button. As he stepped on hot tears of frustration slid down his face. The elevator closed on this chapter of his life. He didn’t have his son, he didn’t have Skye, and he didn’t have anyone to make him feel better about this mess.

Merci looked at Devin and walked to him as she stared at Jon sulking off. He was really trying to get that shining armor back because the moment he hugged her she almost collapsed. Hearing his voice shaking and crumble as he spoke. She saw how defeated he was and she almost wanted to run and hug him again as she took Devin’s hand. “He’s not going to get over this for a long time is he?”

Devin honestly didn’t know what to do when it came to Jon watching his partner breaking down over the letter he felt completely helpless. There was nothing that he or Merci could really do to ease what Jon was feeling or the reality of what he felt was happening to Jon and Skye. The truth was maybe this was for the best and then he wrapped his arms around Merci after Jon had hugged her and walked to the elevator. She was in so much pain and all he wanted to do was to take it all away for her. “I think it might be a really long time.” Devin said quietly not sure what else he could say to take it all away and so instead he needed the next best thing he could hold her even tighter and closer.


Jackson swirled his drink inside of his glass as he looked at the obituary of his father. A man’s entire life just wrapped up in a folded piece of paper. He was more than whatever this paper says and his heart ached. Taking a deep gulp of the drink he looked over at and saw Zerick walking in and the resentment built. He made them all think of their father was a monster and then Belle. He heard Max attacked her at the hospital and for a moment he didn’t blame her. Then he felt a sense of guilt after Lauren, Jackie, and Dani got on him when he agreed with his twin. He would read his father’s autobiography to the twins. What hurt him and made a twinge of jealousy is that he only had a relationship with Maddie and somewhat Fox. His twins would never get the opportunity to know Lowell Devonshire as he saw Zerick moving toward him and he rolled his eyes. He had never liked this guy and he tolerated sharing his mother with him. He wasn’t a long lost child like Bliss and Belle he was just a cousin from his strange ass aunt Kathleen. Taking a deep gulp he finished his drink. As the TV in the bar played out his father’s remembrance he wanted to throw the glass at it. He was here to get away.

Looking at his cousin he waved his hand to the bartender to bring him another drink. “So did my mother send you here to find me or was it both Dani and my mother? Look I can handle the eulogy and I can handle it. Are you here to lecture me that I shouldn’t be drinking as much right now because no offense you were the first nail in my father’s coffin. When everyone thought you were another sibling well we hated him. Then Belle and now he’s gone and I don’t know how to handle all of this. My family was already broken because of all the scandals and affairs but can you finally admit you put a sledge hammer to our lives. My mother has taken quite a liking to you huh? You hated us and now you’re here. Trying to make sure I’m sober. You know my sponsor is worried I’m going to switch addictions. Except I’ve never been a heavy drinker unless I was high so hey there’s that.”

Zerick had a very quick meeting with Noah Caldwell, his current personal attorney at the Rawlings before Lowell’s funeral and he was on his way out when he had seen Jackson at the bar alone drinking. He almost simply just passed him by until he decided to do the decent thing and at least check on his cousin and besides he wanted to talk about Dru with him. One thing he knew from the Summit for sure was that Dru wasn’t cut out to be a nanny to anyone’s kids let alone his cousins, he saw a con in her he still wasn’t sure what the con was or what she was after but he wanted to at least give him the heads up. Taking a seat next to Jackson at the bar he raised his hand to the bartender motioning for a glass to at least join his cousin. He had liked to think that he was trying to fit in with his cousins and as far as he knew he and Jackson didn’t have any beef if anyone in the family should be beefing with him it was Chauncey, afterall he did sleep with Greer and he had tried to take over DGI with her. He took a sip of his drink looking over at his cousin who he simply thought looked lost and tired, almost like the grief was too much that and it looked like he was simply worried or angry one of the two.

“I haven’t spoken to your mother today I was going to stop by the mansion before the funeral to make sure she was okay. I’m actually here to tell you that I am sorry that you all are going through this, I know what I did with Greer was fucked up okay? But when you’re entire life has been built on lie after lie and people are pulling you in different directions since you came out of the womb it takes some fucking time to rewire yourself. Just be careful alcoholic CEO doesn’t ring the greatest. I came over here to check on you it seemed like the polite thing to do.” Zerick said looking at him for a moment as he looked at the obituary in the paper he actually hadn’t bothered to read it. Lowell wasn’t a good person at the end of the day for him to admire or look up to but he had told him that he would look after his aunt all those months ago, and he supposed that included his fucking annoying ass cousins. “I haven’t spoken to Dani since the Summit when I startled her while she was on the phone with that Montana guy. It’s not my place but she was really fucked up that night, she looked lost and confused. She kept checking her phone and then the computer. I get it, the first years are hard and it’s like none of my business but maybe you should focus on that more at the moment than what I’ve done.” Zerick said, looking at his cousin and wondering if he had overstepped.

Jackson knew blaming Zerick, Bliss, or Belle wasn’t reasonable but a piece of him understood Max’s rage. They were all the focus these last few years when they had their father and now that he was gone, they were left with bad memories. When Zerick said Dani was disorientated he recalled how Helga her assistant said the same thing. Was something truly happening to his wife? He remembered how they would stay up late and discuss how Lauren’s side of the family had mental issues. Was that emerging and if so how would he help his wife while being the CEO of a billion dollar company? “It’s not your fault that two adults manipulated you. You were a kid Zerick but I can say your presence in my life hasn’t exactly been welcomed. I can understand your rage at my father though. We had a complex relationship to say the least. He always made me feel inadequate until he couldn’t help but look at me. He couldn’t help but see the man I am becoming. Now let’s talk about that man. I’m going to do something Lowell never did and I’m going to be loyal. You’re telling me my wife was off the day of the summit? She didn’t tell me that.” Jackson said looking at his drink. “We have been off lately it’s like something is wrong and I can’t put my finger on it and you could give a damn.” Jackson said laughing a little at his own cloudy thoughts about the man beside him. “Zerick it’s times I hate you and times I thank-you because honestly you broke the expectations that I felt were on my back. Dad always held us up to a pristine standard he could live by those rules and that was why I hated him for so long. The years I wasted trying to get my revenge by abusing my own body and not caring about anyone but Jackson.” He didn’t know why but it was exploding out.

“You have no idea how lonely I’ve felt being the son of the great Lowell Devonshire. How less than I was compared to Chauncey. Now I’m a father and I can’t ever see myself doing that to my son or daughter. All I want is the best but then it’s a little kid inside of me who wants to jump in that casket and fight my father. I have unresolved issues with that man and he’s not here to fix it. He won’t be around to fix the mess I truly am. I gotta ask you did you think he’d pick me? Nobody did and I sometimes wonder why? I’m not as experienced in the business world as Max or Chauncey. I spent my early twenties high as a kite while they worked their asses off. Then it’s Bliss and Rory one knows international business and the other created one of the biggest new social media platforms. Finally it’s you and Belle. Well Belle is a socialite who happened to see the bigger picture before all of us. She saw that dad was dying and she needed to absorb every moment. While you have been loyal to our family even when we don’t deserve it so why me? Why did I get it over everyone else and I’m not even the best person for the job? But you’re enjoying this right because what dad did to you and Linus did to your mom?”

“No it’s not my fault but I should have questioned more when everything was happening, so much of my life was spent hating your father for what I believed was my conception. It was part of the game so to speak that Forbes drilled into my head during my visits to him from my adopted family and then by the time I had met Pierre LeClerq and his charming teenage daughter there was already darkness deep inside of me Jackson. Something dark almost like you are born into it, you might know something about that. Honestly you would have been an easy target for me and Greer but back then we honestly thought it was Chauncey your father was betting on. You weren’t even a blip on the radar.” Zerick said looking at his cousin and honestly he was starting to respect Jackson a little too much. The humility he showed how open and honest he was about his past was a bit refreshing. There were no games behind that and he felt like maybe they could get somewhere as family and cousins, or maybe that was a pipe dream. “I honestly don’t know why he picked you but if I had to guess it has something to do with the man you are with your wife, not the man you were. He came to see me you know after I shot Linus, he asked me to try and fit in with you all and watch over your mother who could have easily turned her back on me. Don’t know why he did it maybe he was looking for atonement or forgiveness from me. I guess we’ll never know. But he picked you and if you think I’m going to stand by and let Tess railroad you all after that, you haven’t been paying attention.” Zerick said, taking a sip of his drink for a moment letting the silence linger between them.

“I assume by loyalty you mean you won’t be taking on a mistress anytime soon, listen yeah Dani was out of it. She had two boxes on her desk all wrapped in bows, hung up the phone and almost jumped out of her skin when I asked her why she was there so late. Like she didn’t know she needed to be there almost like she was confused on the start time. She went to change in her bathroom and then Lauren called she was still pretty upset. I drove her.” Zerick said looking at Jackson he didn’t know if Dani was really snapping or not or call him a softie but he wanted them to make it. He then remembered the next part the way Dani had eyed Dru when they walked into the mansion how she had watched Jackson looking at Dru before she had entered the room. “She saw you with Lex and Dru. It’s fine to look but you should know she saw it and then I heard the press asking her if you were having an affair she seemed rattled by it. Listen I’m sleeping with Dru I’ve never hidden that from you. She’s fucking fine as hell naked but she’s dangerous too. I would know I see a part of me in her, a darkness call it intuition if you want. Not to mention the dress she wore she knew what the fuck she was doing and how to get people to react. Maybe you and Dani should focus on the both of you more instead of what other people are saying and look for someone new for the twins. People talk at the office. We all hear it doesn’t mean it is true, you know that’s all I’m saying.” Zerick finished that was the best warning that he could give to Jackson about Dru.

When he spoke on Dru for the first time he felt like someone was in his corner. Since she saw them having sex it was like Dru was lazer focused on them. This made him feel like they were her prey and she was waiting to pounce at the right time. “She kissed me.” He said wondering if he was admitting this because he felt comfortable or the liquid courage. “I do see her who doesn’t see her. She is vivacious and stunning but my wife is all I can see. She pulls her shirt down to not show her stretch marks and blemishes but that makes her so attractive to me. I don’t need a supermodel when I have Danielle Fraiser Devonshire. I don’t want her but Zerick it’s like she’s working with Lex. They were attacking me and it wasn’t lust everyone was seeing it was fear. I was fearful that she was going to take my wife from me. That somehow I’d lose her. I don’t know what Dru wants because I’ve told her multiple times Dani is the one for me. I don’t want her Zerick and to be honest you shouldn’t either. She’s a snake and I don’t see darkness, I see something entirely different, I see she’s truly alone. She has nobody and when you feel like that you’re the most dangerous. I don’t know.”

It was odd because previously he was so jealous of Zerick he wanted to take knife and butcher him. He took pity when he found out he was uncle Linus son. It was sad and his father coming to him made a lot of sense. Zerick was a  protector and he honestly felt like he’d be in any Devonshire corner. “I don’t know what to do she hasn’t even told me about that. Right now we feel off kilter and I don’t like it. We’ve always had a open line of communication but right now it’s closed and I feel like she isn’t ready to open up to me. I won’t push it either but I miss talking to her like we used to. I miss our life before we knew that I was the CEO of DGI. It’s like that job is cursed and I don’t want that hovering over my marriage. I’ll keep an eye on her though if something is going on I’ll find out.” Finishing his drink he looked at Zerick. “You didn’t have to do this and I appreciate it. But cousin can I give you a bit of advice? Let her go before she pulls you into the depth of hell with her.”

Zerick noticed how Jackson choose his words in that moment that she kissed him, not that they kissed or that he reciprocated it and he got what he was saying. To his knowledge Dru had no family, that he knew of and he wondered for a moment if that was his secret to tell or not or if Jackson was testing him. It was none of his business but it was nice as cousins at least in his mind that Jackson was coming around he never expected it would happen. “Yeah I saw her with Lex so did Philip. I’m just saying she’s trouble you have a good thing going with Dani don’t ruin it. Not everyone gets that if Dru is in the way then fucking remove her. As for me and her, it’s causal she made that clear at the Summit but can you blame me I’ve always competed with Philip. Forbes and your dad were alike in that way pitting boys against each other, this time Dru’s the prize and I’m not willing to let Philip have her.” Zerick said finishing his drink as he looked at his watch.

“Let me take you to the funeral Jackson you probably shouldn’t drive.” Zerick said throwing some cash down on the bar and then he chose his next words carefully when it came to DGI and the CEO position in general. Everyone knew that Tess thought that she had won, that she was planning something since the hospital.  He felt it that night and he knew his uncle never wanted that woman in DGI. “About Tess I have never bought her innocent story in what happened with my mother you all may of, hell your mother may of but she was my mother’s best friend. Why lie for years on end about who my father really was and pin point on the man she was having an affair with? Unless there was something bigger that she was after and I think we both know what that is, the company. Make sure she doesn’t get all of it, tie her up in fucking court for years if it comes to that or better say the word and I’ll make sure she disappears.” He said it with such a  low voice he was pretty sure it sent a message it wouldn’t be the first time he had killed he did with Gideon and sadly Rachel but this would be personal to him, even more so than that had been.

He actually understood at the height of his feud with Chauncey he refused to let Esme and him be together. It was intense and he hated every moment but these two were different. He could tell Zerick wouldn’t stop until Philip lost Dru and then maybe he would let her go. He nodded his head at Zerick understanding even though he didn’t like his cousin wrapped up in this mess. As he leaned in he smirked. Nodding his head he agreed to let Zerick take him to the funeral. Both men stood and he nearly stumbled but Zerick caught him. “You aren’t so bad you know and I hate you were separated from us Zerick. I want you to know this if my mom knew about you, then you’d never be with those people. They would have never gotten a hold of you.” He said knowing those words to be true. “My father made a major mistake but can I tell you a secret he didn’t apologize a lot and if you got one honor it.” He paused and looked at his cousin when he said make Tess disappear and shook his head. He’d heard rumors Zerick was dangerous and he was sure they were true. He was trained by Forbes after all.

“As badly has I hate to say it Zerick she is my sisters mom and I don’t think it would be for the best for her to just vanish. I hate her but Belle and Bliss both love that witch. However that might be a weapon we can exploit against her. Bliss is down with the family and I believe if we need to we can use Bliss to stop her from whatever she’s after.” Jackson saw Zerick shocked expression. “I was pretty manipulative when I was junkie let’s just say that side doesn’t exactly go away its always there and right now it’s telling me to use every manipulation and trick in the book to stop that bitch. Wait!” He said as he turned around and waved at the bartender. “One more.” He said as the waitress walked up with two shots. “To my aunt Kathleen for having my cousin who I didn’t know I needed until now.” They gulped down the shots and walked out together.


Chauncey the church felt so hollow at the moment while he looked up at his father’s portrait that was by the casket near the front of the pew. It was all still so surreal to him almost every one of his siblings were back at the mansion that week helping their mother prepare as much as they could. The memory of David coming out to tell them their father was dead with Tess in the room his mothers gutted scream at it all was haunting. Regardless he had made other calls just in case Tess wanted to flex a few muscles if needed he set the fucking narrative to the press it was a simple text to Greer that Tess had barred his mother from his father’s room. They had gone wild over it. Every article that came out afterwards about his grieving widow was anything but pleasant; he had made sure of that and well DGI was simply in a state of influx for a moment. They were going to gather later to discuss the final arrangements and he hoped Simon came through with something to keep the vulture creature that was Tess at bay. The excess even in death he had to smile at and then he looked back at the front door seeing Natasha talking with the priest his mother was still at home with Maddie, and he felt sadder thinking about his daughter and her heartache something he couldn’t fix. He felt his phone buzz and looked down at it. A smile on his face the board was already starting to sway, turning to at least send a quick text back he bumped into someone hard almost knocking them over and he looked down right at Greer catching her from falling. Her belly sticking out and she looked quite lovely dressed in black for the occasion and looked around not seeing Brock anywhere near and he flashed her a small smile.

“I didn’t expect you here after our conversation the other night and I don’t see Brock the schmuck anywhere either. I didn’t mean to bump into you, are you alright? How far along are you I don’t believe you’ve ever said.” Chauncey said knowing how delicate pregnancy was when Logan was pregnant it was almost the same sure they engaged in Northern things often. But she was also high risk most of her pregnancy with Maddie as well. Not to mention part of him was jealous over the fact Greer was having Brock’s baby and not his own; he had told himself that was because he was still grieving what happened at the wedding with the son he had with Natasha. “Thank you for sending those hounds after Tess at the hospital and off my mother’s back. I know it hasn’t always been pleasant between us but I will not forget that you assisted with it. The woman really thought she could come right in and we’d just stand back. As if we would all just turn blindly and follow her and let her pull that with my mother.” Chauncey finished putting the phone away for now it felt like he could at least talk to Greer. Natasha lately was like a damned ice chest opened once a year when you bring out the shrimp cocktail at Christmas dinner.

Greer was dressed in a vintage Chanel little black dress. She wore Louboutins patent leather heels and four different pearl necklaces draped off her neck. Accessorizing it with pearl Chanel sunglasses and quilted black and white Chanel tweed jacket. She hadn’t talked to Brock all week. It was refreshing and her uncle told her to confess. It was a long and hard conversation but she really missed Brock. Chauncey would never be completely her’s if he didn’t have DGI. That was a fact. What she wasn’t expecting was him knocking her down. The way he grabbed her and asked about the baby it made her smile. Today she had to be here for him. They might not be together but she did care. That was a lie if he would have never married Natasha she would be with him. She would have confessed the truth that Chauncey was the father and Brock was her fall guy. “I don’t know if it’s smart to talk to you right now but I wasn’t going to let Jackie get harassed. She might not like me much but she deserved that respect. As for my fiance.” She looked down at the famed Fraiser diamond ring on her finger. “He’s busy but I think for the man who out maneuvered me I should pay my respects. Not many people take on Greer LeClerq and win.” She touched her belly as she gulped at him. He was in grief, math wouldn’t be in question. “I’m seven months along. It’s really happening. My son will be here soon and he’ll be so powerful and strong. I’m happy Chauncey and I hope you are as well.” Greer looked at him staring at her belly and she kneeled over as she grabbed onto Chauncey. “He’s kicking.” Placing his hand on her belly she looked at him smiling.

Was this kid trying to tell her something because she wasn’t finding this amusing at all? Greer led him to the pew and sat down. “My heels are still high and I refuse to stop wearing them. Honestly I’m really healthy and the baby is as well so no worries. I’m not Logan okay? Chauncey there are rumors going around that Tess is about to announce something very soon and if it’s what I’m hearing you guys are about to be in trouble. You need to truly brace yourself.” Moving her bang out of her face she stared at him. “How are you really doing? Natasha, is she helping you through this? How is Maddie doing? I worry about her look. She thinks she’s grown and she thinks she’s ready for this type of world but Maddie is sensitive underneath that bravado. You should have heard how she talked to Charles. I didn’t know if I was impressed or mortified. She has to watch herself. Especially because Lowell isn’t here. Your guys’ protection is over.”

Chauncey knew that his mother had never welcomed Greer with open or caring arms so he was actually quite shocked when she had agreed to instead put the heat on Tess so to speak. Greer frankly didn’t have to do that but out of a sign of respect for his mother he quite admired her for that. Brock was an idiot if he was just letting Greer wander around almost seven months along and then to come to his father’s funeral of course likely on a press pass but it was such a Fraiser thing to be so pompous and aloof. “My mother never approved of you for me it was part of the reason I chased you so much, that and you promised me to take over DGI and to think we almost had it all. Before you kept that important information from me about who you really were and why you really went after me and Jackson hit his little lucky streak. It’s all in the past now though isn’t it, we had our chance after your engagement party to Brock and I decided to marry Natasha. Happiness as we both know Greer is such a pretentious thing to depend on when we both know what really matters to be people like us is power, Natasha proves to me that at the moment. As for Brock it’s such a Fraiser move to leave their pregnant wives or fiances to fend for themselves, Walter did it all the time to poor Lauren. Shame he couldn’t be here,” Chauncey said looking over at her and then following her to the seat in the pew.

Chauncey saw her wince at the kicking and he had to let out a little chuckle at the heels comment likely it was partly contributing to her current state of being uncomfortable. He wasn’t about to tell a woman what to do in her condition Logan hardly listened to him half the time with Maddie always pushing herself just a bit. “He’s probably telling you that you can’t name him something god awful like Brandon, Braden or Brock do they do anything other than b names? No your son deserves a strong name perhaps a name that even is a bit mysterious and french in origin. Logan actually refused to listen to me most of her pregnancy I’m not about to tell you what to do.” Chauncey said her voice quiet for a bit she was having a son something that he now knew that Cara had ripped out of his hands with Natasha months earlier and he shook his head for abit. He almost had that throne in reach a brilliant daughter who was a bit spoiled and the perfect male heir to go with it, all for nothing. When she asked how he truly was he shrugged. “We can handle Tess or at least I hope we can we’re not going to give up that early. Natasha has been fine if a bit icy it isn’t like things were great before and she wasn’t close to my father. Madeline is actually taking it quite hard all of it. Lashing out at me or Selina, hell my mother I’m trying my best to give her space.” Chauncey said he was worried about his daughter and how she was handling her grief more so than he was himself or anyone else.

Greer touched Chauncey’s shoulder as she looked into his eyes which showed concern for his daughter. Maddie was an amazing kid and what made her all the more interesting was that she was Lowell’s true prodigy. She used to watch them play chess over and over again. Laughing and talking as she would slink through the Devonshire mansion. Hopefully he could get her to understand baiting Charles Hessington wasn’t the best idea. “Look at me, you will get through this. Just like I’m going to get through my issues. We are made of stock to fight back and you might not have the throne now but Chauncey make no mistake you will have your time in the sun. As for the company Chauncey, be real she blocked your mother from coming to the hospital room and she is up to something. I don’t have all the information if I find out you’ll be the first to know.” She couldn’t stand Tess and honestly her father had been getting too close to that viperess. Greer didn’t know if she was trying to seduce her father but she knew they were becoming close. Something she didn’t want and she couldn’t imagine a scenario where Tess Blisston Devonshire was her stepmother.

“I like a French name for my son, I like that you think he deserves a strong name. Chauncey this baby means a lot to me. Can I tell you something? Something I haven’t told anyone. When I was fifthteen I was pregnant but the baby died. I just knew I had someone to love me forever and now that I have this baby I don’t know. I want him to have everything. Sometimes I even wish you were the father because Brock and I are so different. You know he accused me of being a bad person because I am going with this story coming out very soon. Can I admit something else? I wish I didn’t destroy us all the time. I wish I didn’t blow up our relationship because all I want to do right now is help you and Maddie. All I want to do is make sure you’re okay and I hate to say it but I don’t think I ever stopped.” She made herself stop as she looked at him who was hanging on her word. For a brief moment she glimmered into the truth. As she rubbed her belly and told him. Except Chauncey said he was taking his son from the LeClerq’s and it would only know the Devonshire’s. Then the flash of Natasha holding her son she couldn’t open her mouth to say it. “I’m so sorry I should have never said that.”

Chauncey looked over at her and then wiped at his eyes realizing that he was almost near tears as he took a breath to hold it all in there was no need for him to cry, his father was gone they all needed to move on. He simply needed to look forward to the future which for now meant playing the role that he knew that his father had assigned him at least for a few months and then well when the chips all fell where they were perhaps approaching the board about a change in CEO would be appropriate until then he needed to focus on the now. Helping his daughter through his father’s death thought he appreciated Greers concern for her. “I will be fine I know that I have to do what my father wanted for now of course but we all know that companies can change by a few words every now and then can’t they? As for Maddie I’m just giving her the space that she needs right now, trying not to what is the word hover too much? It drives me crazy when my mother does that to me and it would put her off even more. Are you and Brock having issues? I thought that you were happy with him? You seemed to want to make a point of that the other night at the Summit. We do thank you for swaying Tess in the papers make her out to be the viperous monster that everyone in town knows she was, it was awful watching and holding my mother in the hallway while she banned her from the room before she pulled the plug. None of us will ever forgive her for it and that better go for Belle and Bliss.” Chauncey said looking at Greer for a moment while he listened to her confession.

He was simply shocked at the confession he had never thought that would come out of Greer that she had a child that died. He wondered for a moment if that had ever happened to him, honestly he would never know his parents would have taken care of what they saw as a problem at the time, hell his sister had done the same with her teacher back in the day. Plus he was careful in his youth he could tell it was painful for Greer though and didn’t push further about why she had a baby with a man who didn’t put a damned rubber on. “I had no idea Greer that had to have been very painful for you. If the Fraiser family has anything over my own I will say Brock will be a good father to his child, they are like a unit in that way if my father should have taken any incentive it from them other than the framework for DGI it should have been their sense of loyalty.” Chauncey said in some ways he resented that about his own family the lack of loyalty they all had whereas through thick and thin over the years he watched the Fraiser’s all band together, her son would have that sense of family with them that she so desperately wanted.” Chauncey said looking at her for a split second he actually wanted her to tell him they could pick back up and she could be his mistress and when she didn’t he was a bit struck back by it. “I did my fair share with us Greer and we both got what we wanted out of it did we not? You and Brock and Natasha and I.”

Greer lips quivered as she looked at him and wiped her eyes to prevent her tears from falling. “I’ve said too much Chauncey, but I never got what I wanted from it. Considering I only wanted you and DGI.” Taking a deep breath she knew that this was dangerous. She understood how bad it could look to some but she wanted him to know she had his back. “My issues with Brock are simple; he seems to think my ambitions make me not a good person. I mean I guess he’s right I’ll dismantle someone in a heartbeat but I’m a human and a pregnant woman who is absolutely hormonal. So he could have saved that judgmental shit until I gave birth. Yeah we are having a huge fight because I won’t let me having a child make my career secondary. We are building a media empire and I want nothing more than for it to grow and continue. If a sextape helps that so be it. It made Kim Kardashian and why couldn’t me exposing this tape put my network on the map? He is just so good and that attracted me to him no offense being with you and Zerick was a little dark and twisted. But right now I’d take dark and twisted because how he looked at me for being me. I didn’t like that.” She took his hand and turned to him. “Are you really in love with her?”

Greer bit her lip and wondered if he answered correctly would she be brave enough to do it. To tell him the truth. “I mean she is a bottom of the barrel knock off version of me. Always has been since we were kids. No offense I went the complete opposite but you did take someone who has a major connection to me. I mean out of all the women out here she was your choice Chauncey? It’s a little fishy if you ask me is it because she reminds you of me? Or is it because you can’t admit it to yourself that you weren’t done with me and I hurt you more than you let on. I mean if she is it for you I’m happy but I don’t believe it for a second. She doesn’t intrigue you and in fact I believe the rumors I’ve heard maybe true. That she’s been carrying on with a certain gubernatorial candidate? Chauncey one thing you aren’t is a fool and I’d hate to see you get drug through the mud with that viper. She isn’t good for anyone, especially you. Plus Maddie hates her and I don’t blame her one damn bit.”

Chauncey honestly was partially glad that Greer was waking up from her slumber of backwoods life with Brock Fraiser. He knew that his little quaint life saving lives and running a small contractor job on the side would never satisfy a woman like Greer who wanted her name in lights and the fame that would come with her status. She saw herself as the wife of a rich CEO running a media empire with the world eating out of her hands which was against everything that the Fraiser’s stood for “I take it Brock is still having a stick up his ass about the fact that LeClerq media just so happens to be the next big thing. Too much money for his tastes probably not that he or the others would know what to do with it if they ever got it, can you imagine living like they did? I would expect nothing less from you Greer to get what you wanted at your empire imagine if it had worked with us me head of DGI and you running your own huge empire we would be unstoppable you should not give up your dreams for any man. Regardless if they are the father of your child or not what does Fraiser think we are in the mid century still?” Chauncey said looking at her when she asked if he was in love with Natasha. In truth he knew what they had wasn’t love, but it was what was necessary at the moment for him to eventually win seats back over with the board.

“Yes of course.” Chauncey said as simply as he was able to let it out if he said no he knew that everything at DGI would fall further apart Natasha would leave him taking SandStar with her or at least trying, his father had just died and he would be freshly divorced which never looked good to the rest of the board. Plus he wanted a son too he wanted more children at least one or two more and Greer couldn’t give him that. “Natasha is smart, capable and an heiress to a multi million dollar oil company something that DGI needed, you knew that when you went with us to Egypt back then. Everything that the company needed after my blunder with you and Selina, the perfect new Devonshire wife. It wasn’t the first time that we’ve had to put the company first did you really think Max and Hunter married for love back then? No Max needed to atone for what happened with her teacher and Hunter was blind to it all, he wanted the power or more so his parents did and they got it. Steven was mayor for years on end, Brenda finally had her place none of that would have stayed that way if they never married. The business with Anderson is over if that is what you are hinting at.” Chauncey said looking at Greer he knew all about it now thanks to their little dinner with Cara and Anderson. He took a breath squeezing her hand as he looked at her. “As for Maddie she needs to learn that Natasha is my wife not you Greer but if you want to remain in her life I won’t stand in the way of that.”

“What about me? Do you not miss me? Do you not still care? Chauncey every time we are around each other it feels like I’m being pulled to you. Now you can sit here and deny it but I care. Now between me and you I have this theory. Your mother might not have liked me but your dad did. He didn’t give you DGI because you aren’t being true to yourself.” She spoke sadly. “Neither am I and it’s fine but one thing your dad did notice was our chemistry and you marrying the girl who helped get your father’s company out of a rut isn’t real to him. Lowell was smart and if you think he doesn’t see you’re miserable. Look at me!” Greer commanded as she stared at his watering eyes. “Your father knew you weren’t happy with her and how could he give you the keys to the kingdom when you aren’t being a king? You are faking with everyone but yourself and say what you want and lie to me over and over again but Chauncey Devonshire you’re mine, and I’m yours we just can’t be right now because of extenuating circumstances. But if you ask me where I belong it isn’t with Brock it’s with.” She paused and didn’t want to finish the statement as she felt her little boy karate kick her again.

Greer exhaled as her lip quivered. “I have so much to tell you and I don’t know how. I don’t know how to say everything but right now isn’t about me. Well it’s always about me but that’s not the point. Chauncey how are you for real? You adored this man and you looked up to him. You wanted to follow his footsteps your entire life.” She had moved closer to him almost instinctively. The chapel was still empty and before she knew it she kissed his hand. His cologne was intoxicating to her. His watery eyes and broken spirit hurt her. This wasn’t her king and she knew right now she wasn’t his queen. Right now she was someone he used to love and she didn’t want to deal with that. “I should leave. I should go now. This isn’t right and it’s far too intimate. We shouldn’t be this intimate with each other anymore.” She whispered her lips dangerously close to his face. “We shouldn’t be doing this at all.”

It was so much easier to swallow when his father was alive but not it all felt to hollow, especially his marriage to Natasha that he thought for sure would win the battle with his father in the end. Only it wasn’t for some reason he still picked his addict fuck up of a younger brother to be the CEO of the company that was drilled into his head his entire life that he was going to run. He knew what Greer wanted the problem was he couldn’t’ afford to give her what she wanted right now of course he would care and did care, he wasn’t upset at Brock for anything. He was pissed that Natasha had lied about her baby with him and Anderson, he was angry with himself that he drove Greer right into his arms that night at the wedding when he accused her of pushing Nat. Then they had slept together right after she ran out of her engagement party with Brock’s entire family and he committed himself then and there to marrying Natasha if anything to keep DGI afloat and safe. With the hope that his father would see he was making the ultimate sacrifice in letting Greer go for the good of DGI. Wasn’t that the goal what his father had grilled into him? Wasn’t that what fuel all his father’s misdeeds fom screwing over Walter to all his mistresses? Instead all he felt through Greer’s words was how empty he felt now that his father was gone and then he felt the tears coming down his face.

He had never been a softie for the most part that was more so his younger brothers and sometimes Max but for a split second in time it felt like it was okay for him to let Greer see him cry. See that he wanted answers from a man that was no longer there, hell he would venture to guess a part of him was resenting his father. He didn’t know how long he stayed like that his head bowed down in his hands the tears streaming down his face and then he was brought back to reality again when Greer said that she should go. “It’s not that I don’t care Greer the problem is that I need to put it behind me and so do you. I’m mad at him and one day he’ll see putting Jackson in charge was his biggest mistake. He’ll be up above in that chair looking down and I’ll prove him wrong and to do that I need to be squeaky clean and if that means with Natasha for now then that is what I’m willing to do. Besides you’re having Brock’s baby in what world would that even work now.” Chauncey said quietly as he pulled himself together and then looked at her his own eyes still filling with tears. “Thank you for being here Greer it means a lot to me.” He finished wondering who had actually seen him breaking down as he wiped the tears off his cheeks.

Greer wiped the tears from his face as she let a few slip down her cheeks. If she wasn’t like him to cry and she knew he had to be emotional spun to do it in front of her. She just let him weep and get it out. They sat in silence for a moment and Greer reached over and just held him letting him get it out. She wanted to protect him, she wanted him to protect her. She wanted to love him deeply again but he didn’t want her anymore and that stung. She wondered if she just told him about the baby would that change everything? But she didn’t want the baby to be the reason things changed. She wanted him to want her so badly that he couldn’t stay away. That was the truth. She smiled at him. “I guess two people like us aren’t meant to have a happy ending.”

Natasha had been watching for the last five minutes and her stomach was in knots. How couldn’t it be? Here she was pawing all over her husband and even though she didn’t love Chauncey he was her’s. Or so she thought. Slowly pacing back and forth she stopped when she saw Chauncey breaking down into a blubbering mess in front of her. He’d never shown that type of emotion with her. Well when he thought the baby was his. What possessed him to think that this is alright? She had stopped fucking Anderson but here he was all over Greer. Wiping her tears and she was wiping his tears. Stepping back her face scrunched up at the thought of losing to Greer LeClerq. The girl was a whore and was rewarded for being blonde and slutty. That wouldn’t do for her. She had to learn a deep lesson. Turning around she saw Lauren Fraiser walking into the chapel with Randall. Instead of flipping out she made a choice to stab Greer back as hard as she could. Covering her mouth she collapsed right in front of Lauren as they signed into the service.

Lauren had arrived early with more flowers she wanted to give Jackie. She also wanted to see her friend who barely responded to calls. Jackie was isolating herself and hearing all these rumors about Tess she just wanted her to know she was alright. When she walked up the stairs with Randall she saw a young girl almost falling to the floor. She was shocked when she saw it was Natasha Devonshire. Rushing to her she immediately handed Randall the bouquet of flowers she brought for Jackie. Stooping down she raised her head up by lifting her chin. “Are you alright dear.”

“Everytime I turn around she’s all over him.” Natasha said as Lauren helped her up. “He won’t even talk about Lowell’s death with me but he’s in there with her.” Natasha walked up to the chapel doors opening it witnessing Greer still soothing Chauncey. Checkmate bitch. Turning to look at Lauren’s shocked face at how Greer was holding and soothing Chauncey. “Oh my God she’s engaged to your nephew right.”

Lauren pulled out her phone. “Not for long.” She took pictures of them together and immediately sent it to Brock. “I hope he snatches my nephew from that bitch. Forgive me father.” Quickly doing a cross over her body. “But that doesn’t look like an engaged woman to me.”


The week had passed in a blur most of her time spent at the Devonshire mansion with Jackson and the twins with his father dying seemed to be the right thing to do. The one time they had gone home for the week after Jackie’s instance had been the worst night of sleep she’d had since her nighttime sleep walking incident.  She had drank some tea the night before that Dru had made her hoping it would ease all the stress of the last week. Instead she had been in and out of sleep and started hearing noises to the point she had gotten up wandering the house chasing the scratching she was hearing. Ending of course with her again this time awake at almost five am in the nursery before going back to the master bedroom. They’d dressed for the funeral and Jackson had headed into the office and she had turned on her work computer to answer a few emails back to Grant since their trip had to be postponed due to Lowell’s death when things calmed down they could head out and close. Honestly she was worried about her husband. He looked tired and worn down from it all and he was constantly worried about the influx of DGI. The trip away would maybe do them both good and she had taken the twins early to the church since they were napping and had let Dru off for the day.

There was no need for Dru to accompany them to the funeral and she wasn’t going back to work till a few more days afterwards. Since they were napping she took out her phone to check her calendar and looked at the trip she had put it in that morning. It suddenly moved out another week. Was she really that clumsy with things when it came to her phone? When a text came in from Lex she rolled her eyes not bothering to look at it till she saw a building emoji in it, what the hell? Her eyes scanned the various messages that she had been ignoring all week asking how she was, the replies back being the alarming part. One in particular about enjoying an afternoon alone with him at the Crestwood while Jackson and his siblings were with Jackie picking out things for the funeral. That never fucking happened nor would it along with one of her sending him a heart emoji back about them talking about their next move together and wanting to meet again. Her head was spinning at the messages furious at them, she was certain she didn’t send them and she felt her entire body shaking in rage at them, her breathing becoming erratic. Sure she had lost chunks of time lately at the office before the Summit, a few missed times for dates with Jackson and at the house, but she would remember sending these texts right? Her head was spinning and she wasn’t sure what to do, she knew the right thing to do was to find Jackson and show him them along with the date being moved for their trip but what if he simply didn’t believe her with everything going on. Turning around she let out a scream when she bumped into someone, the phone falling to the ground in its case and she looked up at Zach.

“Jesus Christ Zach! You scared the shit out of me you can’t just sneak up on people like that no matter if it is code or training coming up for your new post. Even if it is hours away and in an entire other state like Virginia. Are you and Mason going to move there afterwards?” Dani said looking over at the twins who were still sleeping while she looked up at her cousin and for some reason she felt a bit calmer. She felt like she could at least maybe talk to him about everything he had been there the last time she was feeling a little off with the stuff with Lex, he and Dante had easily talked her down a few times he also was one of the few she could talk candidly to about her aunt and her worries that she was turning into her without judgment or jumping to conclusions. “You’re giving me that look, you just scared me that is all.” Dani said bending down to pick up the phone realizing that her hand was still shaking while she looked at him and the texts still on the phone before she simply started to cry not sure what else to do about any of it.

Zach was approaching his cousin and it wasn’t until he saw her jump and eventually break down into tears he immediately felt her pain. She brought up Virginia. Mason and he had discussed it with the help of the FBI. Hopefully he’d get a shot at finding his son and eventually adopting another child. They’d discussed that for a long period of time. Biting his lip he walked to Dani and just held her tightly kissing her forehead and let her release her pent up pain. Whatever was happening Zach was going to be here for Dani. “Hey, hey, hey it isn’t that bad for all them tears.” Wiping her face  he moved the stroller in front of them and then sat Dani down. “Care to tell me why you’re crying because a couple weeks ago you were like arguably one of the most annoyingly happily married women I knew. So tell me other than your father-in-law croaking what’s got you all emotional.” Zach stuck his hands in his pockets and honestly felt horrible about Lowell dying the entire town was in shock. He always assumed Lowell would be alive or live forever.

“I know I haven’t been around with my son missing and now I am being recruited by the FBI. I just want to make sure you are alright. You were the first person I told I was bisexual and now I’m a full on gay. I don’t see myself with a woman now that I’ve found Mason but do you honestly think I don’t know when you’re cracking. You always had anxiety but Dani this isn’t a good look. You know the entire I think I’m losing it. You did the same thing when you and Lex broke up so care to tell me why you’re looking off into the distance like you’re on the cover of some tragic romance novel. Are you and Jackson okay? I’d hate to kick his ass if he hurts you. I mean a gay guy kicking your ass not a good look for the future CEO of the great DGI. You know what pops told me? He wouldn’t be surprised if your father tries to worm into DGI? Is it true Walter’s great second wind is coming?” Zach folded his arms. “Cousin, come on spill it.”

Dani wasn’t sure what was happening with her but if there was anyone that she felt comfortable breaking down around it was her cousin, they had been inseparable since they were kids most of the time she felt closer to him than her own brother. Plus it wasn’t like she could just go out and tell Jackson what was happening, what if he didn’t believe her or worse that he thought she was going crazy and took action. There was so much she didn’t know at the moment and her cousin was right it felt like she was losing her grip on everything again only this time there were different circumstances she had never lost chunks of time or her memory. Sure before she may of partied a bit hard and put on a bravado after Lex but this felt different. “But it is that bad Zach and we were happy, or we are happy I don’t know anymore. We got into this huge fight at the Summit right before Lowell passed out about Lex and the fundraiser and then Dru. I’m not stupid you know, she’s pretty and gorgeous and did you see what she was wearing? Then on top of that the press is running all these stories about Jackson maybe having and affair with her, then Lowell collapsed.” Dani said taking a seat on the bench while she clenched the phone in her hand and ran her hands on her dress not even realizing that she was clenching and unclenching her free hand. “Jackson is focused on his family right now and his dad just died.” She said her voice trailing off.

She took a deep breath not quite sure how she was going to explain everything to Zach that was going on with the phone and her lapses in times without sounding like a fucking lunatic. But maybe if anything if she told someone she could relax and stop walking on eggshells around the house and at work looking over her shoulder or worse in the mirror. “Honestly I don’t know if we are okay, sometimes I’d like to think we are but we haven’t been us in weeks Zach with everything going on. The other day I fucking sleepwalked around the house or something like that Dru made me some tea to relax and then I was up on and off hearing strange damned noises. Over the last few weeks I’ve missed a few dinner dates with Jackson and then I screwed up the Summit start time too, like there are chunks missing like Aunt Rosamund chunks.” Dani said looking over at her cousin and she saw him looking at her for a moment and she knew how insane it sounded their aunt had schizophrenia. She tapped her foot for a moment and then looked over at him. “I know how it sounds Zach, you know the other day when Jackie was arrested? I texted him about it and then he says he never got it, this morning I put in a trip for Montana and it moved right before my eyes in my phone. Then there are these.” Dani said handing her cousin the phone her hand shaking as she felt the tears welling in her eyes. “I know for a fact I didn’t send those or at least not the real me. I can’t show him these.”

He held her phone in his hand but before he even looked at it Zach leaned over and hugged Dani so tight he swore he lost his breath. “You are not like Aunt Rosamund.” He whispered in her ear. “Look at me Dani.” He wiped her tears. “I said look at me dammit. You are the most capable woman I know. Now something is going on and I don’t think it has to do with you. Dani I want you to leave your phone with me, and I want you to go to your service provider and tell them you lost your device. Get a new phone that’s first and foremost. Secondly you are exhausted I told you that a couple of weeks ago. I was just with you and Jackson when Mason and I visited the twins. You remember that right?” When he saw she nodded he continued. “Okay if Jackson wasn’t in love or loving you then what is this?” He pulled out a recording of Jackson watching Dani singing to the twins. “I know it’s stressful hell the first year is always but maybe you two just need a kinky ass get away. As for that bitch Dru I don’t trust her but doesn’t she look familiar? Is it just me? I mean I feel like I know her and don’t know that lady at all. Plus where did she come from? And no offense to aunt Lauren but she out here slapping pregnant women I don’t think her judgment is the best at the moment. So fire her?”

He took Dani to a bench and sat down with her. “Do you think Jackson is cheating? Coming from an ex-cheater I don’t think so. Is he working out more because lord knows that man works out. Is he staying out later? Lying about where he’s been? I don’t think so from what you’re saying I think some therapy and a getaway will do you two good Dani. Don’t forget that this man went to rehab for you, that this man has changed his entire life for you. Dani you’re Jackson’s world and I think somehow you two are off sync but it’s nothing to get you back in sync I swear it. So would you let me do some research on the phone and figure out what the hell might be going on. Mason was just telling me in Europe that another company installed spyware on their rivals phone. I wouldn’t take it past that Forbes or the Montgomery’s are up to something. Okay so maybe you aren’t going crazy maybe someone is pushing you it’s always explanations on things like this. Remember the ghost in grandma Grace house? It was Brock and Braden scaring us. Being a officer I always look for the most plausible explanation on why things are happening in a certain way.”

Honestly it felt like a huge weight was lifted off her chest when Zach verbally told her that she wasn’t their aunt, her biggest fear growing up was that she would show signs of that and she knew it was irrational. She remembered her mom’s own struggle after her sister died and how worried everyone was about that then too. She wiped at her eyes nodding her head at him when he told her to look at him and she simply laughed through all the tears at how probably insane she looked at this moment. Barely holding herself together at work and at home, two kids sleeping in the stroller beside them while she was having a mental breakdown in front of her cousin. “But she’s good with the twins and if I fire her then Jackson and I have to scramble to find someone else right after Lowell died. I’d have to step back at work and with Tess breathing down his neck trying to take DGI from him, I don’t know what would happen Zach and that scares me. Dru’s gorgeous I mean did you see her or the lack of her at the Summit how am I supposed to compete with that? I’m not stupid men look and I don’t think Jackson would act on it, did I tell you she walked in on us? It was awkward and weird and he like froze up at it, like he was embarrassed at me.” Dani said knowing she was probably projecting way too much but that had rattled her and for her that was really a pin point where their relationship turned down just a bit the other was when Lex came onto the fundraiser. “Then Lex pulled that stunt at the restaurant and he told me at the Summit he’s scared I’ll leave him for Lex. I’d never do that Zach.” She said quietly for a moment and she thought about Zach saying Dru looked familiar and shrugged.

“I don’t think he’s having an affair but he’s been mad lately at everything with his dad and then me missing all those little things that I told you about. Then those texts on my phone that I didn’t send, it looks like I’m the one out here having an affair and do you really think he’d believe me? Over what is on my phone? I’ll go to the carrier right after the funeral and get a new phone.” Dani said looking at her cousin and shaking her head at it and then her head whipped around when he mentioned a spy software, that would make sense or maybe that seemed even more crazy. Sure people were out to get them but this had started long before Lowell died or maybe that was the point that someone wanted them to fail someone like Forbes or even Philip who had swore revenge on Jackson at the wedding. “I remember Grandma’s ghost in the attic scared the shit out of me when we both thought it was Aunt Kendall’s ghost up there fucking with us all. It was Braden and Brock pulling a prank because they were mad we had beat them at Pogs in the backyard at the BBQ and lost their favorite slammers. You have no idea how much this has been eating me up Zach like really eating me up. We’re supposed to go away to Montana and I’ve been nervous about that since the Summit like what if he wants the twins and Dru to come to that too? Maybe I put my foot down and say no just us this time. You were right I want this to work I gotta go back to that girl who said enough and fight back because I am not losing him, period.” Dani finished taking a deep breath and looking at her cousin as she watched the people starting to file into the church.

“That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t let some other woman come in and get your fixer upper. This is insane you’re even talking like that. Wait, poor choice of words. Cousin this isn’t you to be all I’m unsure of yourself. Look at that man looking at you! Does this look like a man who doesn’t find you attractive or isn’t madly in love with you? He cleaned baby vomit out of your hair Dani I think you two are in it for the long haul.” He teased trying to uplift her some more. “You are all he thinks about and I know Dru is sexy. Any man with eyes could see that Ray Charles is dead and blind and he can see that but Dru isn’t the woman who changed his life. I have seen first hand the destruction Jackson can cause when he isn’t sober. So you mean to tell me this man is clean, loving you, and you’re still projecting your insecurities on your relationship? Dani stop, you are driving yourself well you know the rest. Cousin you are beautiful and strong and so what she looks like Jessica Rabbit you look like Dani and Dani caught the most notorious bachelor on the east coast and settled him down. Don’t forget you’re a bad bitch. Sorry Mason has me watching Drag Race and every other sentence is about bad bitches.” He shrugged seeing her laughing and smiling. “See there is my beautiful cousin.”

Zach looked at the phone. “I have contacts in the FBI so we will figure this out. You hear me? I’m going to figure this out but Dani I think for your sanity you two should let her go. This is your biggest fear coming to surface because fake ass Jessica Rabbit is all up under your kids and your man. You think I’d let Simon in the house with Mason? No offense I just don’t tempt fate like that. You said you literally saw a text message disappear? That’s what is making me think someone cloned your phone or it’s something else going on. You know you didn’t erase the message correct?” When she nodded her head. “Then there is a plausible explanation on what is happening and I’m going to figure it out. You know I was always good with puzzles and this is nothing but that. So get ready to find out what’s going on. Also if you want me to find out a little bit more about Dru. I can do that if you want to know I can find all of that.”

Dani knew it was crazy how much she was projecting but honestly she thought it was because she was tired all the time and lately it was because of what the press was writing in it’s papers. How pretty Dru was, how young she was and sometimes she looked at herself and wondered lately if that is what Jackson wanted. Deep down she knew that wasn’t true, the man adored her but Dru made her self conscious about everything especially herself. She felt like she had lost a sense of who she was lately with Dru and looking at Zach she knew what she needed to do about it. It stopped today. She would find some way to let Jackson know that he was it for her, let him know that he would be CEO and that they needed to get rid of Dru. Make him remember who they were to each other and what they promised each other which seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle of life. Sure they had talked about a nanny and her mother suggested Dru but for the first time since then she felt like maybe they rushed it too because they wanted someone lined up after their honeymoon they didn’t even interview people.

“Noted but I want to make sure before we fire her the last thing we need is her suing us for terminating her unlawfully you know? We’re already under way too much scrutiny with everything going on since Lowell died. I don’t want to add to that. I know I’m projecting and I shouldn’t be and I know I need to fix it. Find out everything you can. I want to know everything about her. I just needed to tell someone and have someone believe me Zach.” Looking over at her cousin she took a breath and then looked at him turning serious for a moment this was the other part, if she was losing it. If he found nothing and she was simply making shit up in her own head she wanted to make sure her kids were okay. “If you don’t find anything and if we are there I want you there when I tell Jackson. I want him and the kids to be okay. I need them to be okay if I’m not you know?” She finished letting out a breath as she saw Zerick pulling up in his car and seeing Jackson step out. She hugged Zach and then stood up putting her hands on the stroller to walk to the church to help her husband bury his father, a sense of easement came knowing that Zach would make sure her family was okay either way it went.


The week had been hard on her. Between an interview her mother did, it was all over the media. The way she disparaged her father she felt sick to her stomach. It was as if she didn’t care that they were mourning. She was skipping all over the house. Acting as if she was almost happy that their father was dead. She hadn’t spoken that much since the hospital. The way Max talked to her she was so cold and acting like it was her fault. She had tried to bond with her but it felt like Max and the rest of them blamed her. She ran her hands through her hair as she looked at her reflection as she pulled out her hair bow. Placing it into her hair she looked up as Tess stood at the doorway. She looked at her in a red vintage Versace pantsuit and almost screamed. Was she serious? Turning around she wrapped her arms around herself and shook her head. “You have to be joking right now.” The veil over her face was a nice dramatic touch to make her furious. “Go upstairs and change right now. I mean it.” She hissed as she adjusted the bow until perfection.

“I am dealing with Jackie’s children and they hate me. You are not going to my father’s damn funeral looking like that. Look at you really living up to the scarlet woman persona. I don’t feel like this is appropriate for the occasion and I truly don’t feel like arguing with anyone today. Also I have to ask since it’s all over Greer’s rag that she’s insinuating that you are about to get DGI. This is sickening and mom if you continue on this path. I assure you that I won’t stick around by your side while they rip you to shreds. I assure you I won’t.” Belle said as she walked to her mother. “So I have a few questions for you exactly what in the hell are you doing? Do you think it’s proper to be threatening Jackie and her children right now?” She said sitting across from her mother. “And do you have to be so tacky?”

Tess narrowed her eyes as she looked at her daughter. “I’ve had just about enough of your attitude. I’ve tried to be nice about your feelings. But do you think I give a damn about Jackie and her kids?” Walking to Belle she cupped her face in her hands. “You and Bliss are the only thing I give a damn about let me say that. Secondly why do you all think it’s acceptable to disrespect me? Huh? I’m your mother not that woman and if you want to sit under Jackie like Bliss then you can. Just know you will not get a penny from me? Your money will sit in a trust until I feel like you’re worthy to have it. Now play with me not Belle. You want to feel like you belong to them but they keep attacking you. Did they support you when it was exposed that David Rhodes was manipulating you into his bed?” Tess said adjusting her red veil over her face feeling like she was going to steal the show. Tonight she was about to get everything she wanted. Reading a text message from Pierre there last problem was about to be dealt with. “I deserve respect and for once I’m about to get it and if that means I get DGI then that’s what it means.” Sitting down she looked at Belle.

“I have lost Bliss and I don’t want to lose my baby girl. She loves that other woman more than me.” Wiping her eyes, Tess felt like she was breaking. “I have so much anxiety about today. They want to make me the villain so I’m being such. Don’t get on my bad side Belle.” She said as she applied some lip gloss on her lips. “I’m getting what Lowell wanted me to have you know that. I took care of your father and if he truly has given me everything.” Tess grabbed her daughter hands. “Don’t you want DGI don’t you want a piece of your father’s legacy? Beyond a check that he wrote you.  You are about to be inherit everything you ever wanted because I have fought to have my place. Now you will have a place at DGI isn’t that what you want?”

Belle rolled her eyes at her mother’s threats. “Well can I ask something mummy? What were you doing in father’s office a couple of weeks ago. My dream isn’t to be at DGI, my dream is to be an influencer. To wear a Marilyn Monroe dress like Kim did. Of course a sex tape isn’t me I’m a little more prim than that. I however have to question something. A couple of months ago I saw you rummaging through my father’s office. What were you looking for mummy? I mean after all I don’t believe he would leave you his dirty underwear. He didn’t like you and for you to just get everything I think it’s insane. So what exactly what were you doing mother?” Belle asked as she stared at her.  “I would like to know that.”

Tess crossed her legs as she looked at her daughter. Her face became cold as she looked at her. “First off I’m the only Ms. Devonshire right now that matters. As for what I was doing at your father’s office, that is none of your damn business Belle. Have I not given you the life that you are accustomed to? Have I not protected you from everything? Did I not take you directly from Forbes. I saw you hugging Jackie that was sweet and due to the pain you were all in. I won’t take it personally because I won’t lose another daughter to Jacqueline. I would die before I lose you Belle. Your father and you had a special relationship but do you see what he did to me? He hurt me in ways I can’t explain and I think you understand what it feels like when a man doesn’t truly see you. He used me and I don’t think anyone connects to my pain the way you do. Please drop this. We have to go to the service. The funeral everything will be revealed and that’s all you need to know is that enough for you? I’m the mother and I’ve done everything to make sure you’re in the place to be the heiress of DGI understand my moves and my choice are for my daughters. So I don’t expect you to question. I expect loyalty and I will return everything to you. Everything I didn’t give you when you were growing up. This is my gift to show my daughters I love them so much. I’ve made many mistakes but having my girls wasn’t one of them. You are women now and I can never get all the time I missed back but what I can get is your futures secure.”

Belle folded her arms as her mouth hung open. “Mummy, what are you doing? You’re trying to challenge his will mom. If you do that you are directly placing me in the middle of my siblings who already hate me.”

“Why should you care if they hate you? You are my daughter and my children deserve a chance for a seat at the table. Do you hear me? You deserve a chance to be what Max is and didn’t she disrespect you during your goodbye to your father? He’s not just hers and doesn’t belong to just her just like Jackie wasn’t the only one married to Lowell. They aren’t his only children and I’m doing what needs to be done. I’m snatching what rightfully belongs to me. I wasn’t treated very nicely by your father now was I? You can attest to that so getting to wear the crown is not only what you deserve my dear but myself also. I am only doing what your father wanted, is that clear? You aren’t to speak of me being in your father’s office or any of your silly other ideas. I need you to hear me. Loud and clear you are my one of my two only priorities. Bliss and you! Belle you are the apple of my eye and mummy loves you very much. I know you weren’t raised a Devonshire and I understand that I’ve made some horrible moves but I have you and Bliss. My girls and it’s my time to shine. Your time to have whatever you want. A reality TV crew so be it but you can’t have any of that without what I’m planning.” Opening her compact she pulled out her lipstick applying the Chanel across her lips it felt like velvet.

Belle stood and nodded. “I won’t say anything. I’ll go see if Torrance is ready to drive us to the church mum.” She grabbed her purse and felt uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. As she left the room pulling out her IPhone she furiously started moving her thumbs. Looking at the screen she knew she had to send it. Belle always trusted her mother but right now she knew that this was some bullshit. If what she thought was going on was actually happening somehow her mother was about to get DGI. She pressed send and looked at it until it said read. Taking a deep breath she immediate put her phone in her purse and craned her neck around to see if her mother was lurking. Once assured she went off to find Torrance and hopefully she was wrong but if she was correct.

11:45 AM

Hey Bliss I’m sorry to bother you I just need to talk after or before the funeral. I’m starting to think something is really wrong with mum. Not only that I believe she might have done something to father’s last request.

Read 11:48AM

Belle she’s been texting me some strange things also about Chauncey’s position in the company. She asked me if I could run it. I’m sure you might be onto something. I’ll see you at the service come sit by Hunter and I and away from her if you want. I love you Belle and keep strong.

Delivered 11:50AM


Maddie had been awoken by the maid that morning. She’d asked her to do so because the sound of the alarm was pissing her off and she’d stayed to help her get ready. Selina had helped her pick out a black Gucci dress last night which she paired with the Louboutins her grandfather had last bought her. It had been a week since her grandfather died. She knew this because the funeral was scheduled for a week later. She’d heard her father tell people over the phone several times. The time between then and now was hazy, though. The sun would come up and then it would get dark but nothing significant happened to mark the shift from one day to the next. This day was different. After today everything was supposed to go back to the way it was, only she wasn’t ready. Nothing about this week prepared her to go back to normal. At first, she hadn’t been able to sleep until she’d decided to go to the couch in Lowell’s old office. How many times she’d sat there waiting for him to finish working so they could go get her grandmother and go riding or shopping or anything. It never mattered what they did as long as they were together. Everything with him felt like an adventure. Eventually it was just the two of them as their family crumbled but their adventures never stopped. Not until the night of the Summit. Now the magic was over. If she hadn’t slept in her grandfather’s office, she’d fall asleep on the couch in her room and wake up to find someone had covered her up. Or left her tea. Her dad and Selina were the worst – always hovering. Sometimes they’d show up alone and sometimes together. Asking if she’d eaten or what she needed or did she want to talk. Telling her about trivial things happening around the house that she didn’t care about. She never responded but it didn’t stop them. They kept telling her more stupid things whenever they’d see her. Sometimes she’d tell them to leave but would immediately change her mind and want them to just sit with her. She’d said mean things to them both a few times. Really mean things. She’d heard the words coming out of her mouth and she knew she didn’t mean them but it felt good to say them. They kept coming back like nothing had happened, though. She couldn’t remember saying anything horrible to either of them today or yesterday so she must have stopped. She thought she’d apologized once or twice but maybe those had been dreams. Other times she’d break down and cry in their arms with no warning. Something would just come over her and she couldn’t stop it. After a few days she didn’t cry as much but then she was left with big chunks of time she didn’t know what to do with.

Yesterday she’d ventured downstairs and could immediately tell everyone was getting ready for the funeral. The activity around the house had increased and everyone was there. Milling about, talking. She heard snippets of conversations as she wandered, not sure where she was going. She wondered if Wyatt would be coming over and she had been looking for Hunter when she heard Sebastian spewing his stupid platitudes. He sounded like a simpleton and then she yelled at him to shut the fuck up because none of this was ever going to be ok again and how did Max put up with him. It felt like someone else said it but everyone looked at her so she’d gone to the garden because these people were sucking all the air out of the room. They were everywhere. Invading every inch of her home. Then her dad was there looking at her like she might drown herself in the fountain and so she went to the barn and sat in the box stalls with her horses. The horses that her grandfather had known and loved as much as she did. No one else but her grandfather was allowed to ride her horses though she couldn’t remember a time when he had. Now, it was the morning of the funeral. The day when she’d have to say a final goodbye to her best friend and she was back in the garden. Sitting on the bench in the exact place she’d last seen her grandfather. That night he’d told her he might not be there the next day and she ignored him and carried on like they had all the time in the world. Why didn’t she listen to him? One of the maids had shoved a muffin in her hands just before she’d gone outside. Instead of eating it like she was supposed to she tore pieces off and threw them, watching the birds race to snatch them up. She’d looked at the door, trying to remember if she and her grandfather had waved at each other that night when they parted. For a split second, when the door opened, she hoped it might be him but it was her grandmother and her eyes stung but she swallowed the disappointment. She wasn’t a child. She knew he wasn’t coming back and she silently admonished herself for it.

Jackie had spent the week in agony, a silent agony since that night at the hospital where Tess had banned her from Lowell’s final moments. All the children had seemed to filter back into the mansion over the week grandchildren included other than Belle and yet she still felt so hollow and empty when it came to herself. She hadn’t got her goodbye, the last memory she would have of her beloved Lowell was the dance they shared at the Summit the music that filtered through the air while he turned and smiled at her, it was all gone hours later. She had let all her children say their goodbyes first and for a moment she was angry at them all and then at herself, perhaps she should have been more selfish and demanded that so go first. Instead she was where she was now alone in her grief dressed in the black Versace dress one if the minds had picked out the black heels to match an elegant string of perils to match the otherwise bleak color. Most of the staff had spent the week in silence too placating her whims while she and the kids had picked out things for the service. Interestingly enough Tess had kept her distance she honestly didn’t know how much say she would have. Her little stunt at the hospital was one thing Simon had arrives afterwards to tell her that Lowell had arranged his own funeral and handed her the order of things. He also assured her that Lowell had a plan in place and would bring the will to the service and they could all go over it together afterwards. Meaning that Tess would not win this war with her or her children it was a small comfort almost as if it was more a consolation prize than an actual win.

She shook the feelings off as she moved down the hallway of the mansion past the nursery all the grandchildren were gone, with their parents and while she liked that everyone had stayed for the week. She knew they all had lives to get back to in their own homes and their own schedules, they of course were welcome at anytime when it came to being at the mansion. Except Chauncey and Maddie they always belonged there and had lived there since he came home after Logan’s death, of course he could have bought his own house and moved there or stayed in California. But she and Lowell had insisted he come home and take Maddie with him to the mansion where they could help, Selina had then stepped in as her mother this house would always be her granddaughters home. When she passed by Lowell’s old study and saw the door ajar she had peaked her head inside for a moment she and the head maid had discovered Maddie in there over the week and she simply didn’t have it in her to wake her when she would sleep in there simply letting staff know to attend to her as needed. She actually didn’t like the room and ominous feelings it gave off after his death or that argument that she had overheard before her ex husband had his stroke. She closed the door quietly before she spotted Maddie in the garden and made her way outside Chauncey had already left for the church and she approached her granddaughter quietly simply taking a seat next to her folding her hands softly in her lap while she watched her friend the birds the good muffin.

“I know that you were close to your grandfather Maddie. If there was something I could do or your parents could do to ease the pain you feel I would. You were right the other day you are mo longer a child or a little girl, though your father would prefer you to stay one a little longer. I don’t think or imagine that any of us are prepared to say goodbye but I don’t think he would want us to dwell.” Jackie said softly they had talked about it quite a bit how he wanted things handled before the divorce and he remarried Tess. He especially didn’t want her to mourn him forever but she felt like that she would and if she never moved on or let herself grieve how was the family supposed to follow suit? “He wanted us to remember him of course but remember him as the man he was and the memories we will cherish. Not replay what happened over and over again, at some point I think the pain will get better Maddie and you will blossom into the woman he knew you were meant to be. Until then it’s okay to cry and be upset, even if you were rude to the staff about it they all understand.”

Maddie focused on precisely landing the muffin pieces in an effort to stop the tears as she listened to her grandmother. Touched that she would take her pain on despite going through her own hell. She was so strong and poised even now, when Maddie felt like a walking disaster. When she talked about what her grandfather would have wanted it sounded too much like moving on. And that meant living without her grandfather. Instead she zeroed in on the part that wasn’t about Lowell. “My parents? As in plural? Don’t you think that’s generous considering Selina hasn’t been around for over a year? She doesn’t get a redemption arc out of this. They say people come out of the woodwork when someone dies so, that must make today, the moment of truth. Will she stay or go?” They’d been thrown back together and given the chance, maybe Selina would disappear again despite what she’d said at the hospital. People said things they didn’t mean in times like this. She’d been doing it all week. “We’ve been in a kind of limbo since the Summit but everything changes after today. Everyone can get on with their lives after the funeral, right? My dad will go back to spawning a demon with the Gorgon to lord over Jackson. Selina will be free to go back to Elliott with her do-gooder bucket full and a freshly polished halo. But the person I had to go back to, the one that was always there while they were off fulfilling their destinies or whatever, is gone. One of them anyway, but even you have Julian. So I don’t care what he would want. He’s the one that left. He doesn’t get to decide what I do with that.” Maddie deposited the rest of the muffin on the bench beside her and brushed her hands together to rid them of crumbs as she turned towards her grandmother. “He said he’d always be with me. In my heart. If that was true why can’t I feel him now? If I ever needed him, this is it but never once this week have I felt like he was here with me. Was that just an empty sentiment he found in a Hallmark card?” If anyone could answer this it had to be her grandmother. The woman who’d spent the majority of her life with Lowell Devonshire. “I don’t want today to be over and I don’t want to move on if it means I have to leave him behind. Why couldn’t it have been Tess or Walter or Natasha? No one would miss them.”

Maddie huffed out a breath, wiping the tears that had fallen. She was tired of crying. But the way her chest felt, like it was going to cave in, made her doubt the pain would ever subside. She twisted the diamond panthère de Cartier ring around her middle finger. It’s dead, emerald eyes staring at her. “I keep thinking about the last time I saw him smile. I mean really smile because he was genuinely happy. It was when he was dancing with you that night. We were right over there,” Maddie said, pointing to a spot near the door. She was sure that was the exact place she’d left him. “When he told me he’d saved his energy for that night. I thought he meant the speech but when I saw him with you I knew that’s what he’d been waiting for all week. You looked stunning and he was so proud. I swear I’ve never heard the orchestra play better. Remember when I was little and he would scoop me up so I could dance with you? Or when I was supposed to be in bed and I’d sneak back down and dodge my dad and Selina all the way around the ballroom to get one more dance with you.” A small laugh escaped at the memory but it faded into tears. It felt wrong to enjoy anything. How could she smile or laugh when he wasn’t here? She wiped her cheeks and gathered herself. “For a few minutes that night, it felt like everything was going to be ok. I knew it wouldn’t change anything between you and I like Julian but the world was right when I was watching you.” She leaned her head on her grandmother’s shoulder and reached for her hand. The next thing she remembered was standing in the crowd. She’d glanced up at the presentation and when she looked back at her grandfather, he was laying on the stage. “I don’t know if I can be the person he saw me as when he’s not here. I can’t even decide where to sit at the breakfast table since that night. How can I accomplish all the things we’d talked about? I wasn’t there when he died. I let my dad send me home. I should have fought him on it but I just got in the car and left. I feel like I abandoned him.”

Jackie remembered all to well the teenage years and how fragile they were but she expected more from her granddaughter than the lashing out, of course she meant Chauncey and Selina. Logan too but Logan was dead and had never even so much as held her as a child, she understood that she was angry at Selina but she wasn’t trying for a redemption arc or at least not in her eyes. “Of course I meant your father and Selina, I know their arrangement was hard on you but at the time your father was trying to protect you from Dimitri while Selina was figuring things out. I have no idea what has gotten into you lately do we need to take you to someone is that time of month happening? I understand that you are angry at her for leaving the way she did but she is trying to make it right. You still have me, your father and your mother but this bitter and angry version of you was not what your grandfather would have wanted. He was proud of the woman you are becoming but none of that is in the reflection that I have seen in you the last week. Those traits that he admired it’s almost like you’re refusing to be who you were then for him to preserve it in some weird sense to hold on to him.” Jackie said looking over at her granddaughter she hated Tess just as much as the next person, but to wish ill on Natasha was uncalled for and then Walter too, did she really want her cousins to suffer the loss of both their grandfather’s. “You’re so hateful lately towards your father and Natasha who need I remind you suffered a tragic miscarriage the night of your uncle’s wedding with your brother. As for wishing ill on other people that is not how death works Madeline, what a cruel thing to say.”

She looked over at her granddaughter and knew the sentiment that she was trying to convey all to well she had hoped that after the dance was over, she and Lowell would have made up. The truth was that wasn’t going to happen they had been divorced for over six months and he had married Tess, there was no turning back to that time in her life. “The world changes Madeline people grow old and further apart they change, but yes I remember all the times you would come down and just the three of us would dance. I sometimes want to go back to that time but then you wouldn’t be who you are becoming today, a young woman that is getting ready to spread her wings and explore the world and life around her to the fullest.” She wrapped her arm around her granddaughter rubbing her back while her hand gripped her hand in her own wanting her to know that she was there for her for all of this. She had already cried all of her tears for Lowell that she could over the last week and her lip quivered knowing that this wouldn’t help ease Maddie’s mind at all but medically she knew the facts. “He was gone by then Maddie, David said that the stroke when it happened was the final moment for him, your dad sent you home because there was nothing you could have done, or I could have done or anyone else could have done. He was gone by the time that you all got to say your goodbyes and make peace with that. I know that doesn’t help but you can’t dwell on that forever. He never would have thought that you of all people ever abandoned him so don’t continue to torture yourself with those thoughts. Sit by me at breakfast like you used and together we can think of the good times that is what he would want.” She said quietly looking down at her granddaughter and then seeing Selina in the doorway.

Selina was wearing black Gucci dress to match Maddie’s. It had been difficult the last week for everyone. She cried and cried then had to put on a brave face when she was around a very angry Maddie. Her little girl hadn’t forgiven her at all. In fact she was saying some pretty awful things recently. She heard a little of her conversation with Jackie and wondered if she could ever make it right. Two years ago she took Maddie and they were so happy then it was over. Dimitri came into her life and he made sure she was distant from Maddie and Chauncey. She let him manipulate her and that was the part that hurt her the most. She had to face she wasn’t strong enough to stand up until it was too late and he violated her. As she dragged her feet wondering if she should interrupt this moment she saw Jackie smiling warmly at her. The tension and thawed but she was serious about finding her own legacy outside of DGI. As she sat on the other side of the bench looking at the stables and the stable hands feeding the horses. “Hey beautiful. I think it’s time to get ready and I would love to help you with that. I don’t know what you two are talking about but Maddie I think this last week you’ve been so angry at everyone. You lashed out at me, your dad, and now your grandmother is telling you to remain humble and have the openness he instilled inside of you.”

Taking a deep gulp she knew it was time. “Maddie, I know you know exactly what happened with Dimitri but I never told you the truth, my truth. I was lost when your grandfather and father booted me from DGI and then here comes this man who I thought would change my life. In fact I was sure of it. I ran from everyone and everything and no me getting fired is not an excuse for running away from you. Since you were born Lowell and Jackie treated me as your mother and your father did as well. Him coming back with you wasn’t easy on me because I had already lost your brother or sister. I was jealous of Logan having Chauncey baby first and I felt like less of a woman. But from the moment he came home with you in his arms I loved you like you were my own. I had miscarriages, I had false alarms and then he just kept letting me love on you. It was easy to love you honey and it was even easier to be your mother but something snapped in me. I didn’t think about you or what me leaving would do to you. I thought it was for the best. I thought I could come back and the embarrassment and shame would be washed away. That I took you and you never really belonged to me, although you will always be my first and only child. I can’t have children you know that and if you don’t want to do this anymore I understand. But I just want you to know I need you. I need you in my life and I need you to understand that man did something to my head. I was under the worst spell and I don’t know if you know this but he sexually assualted me as well. Maddie I’ve been through hell but I won’t take you through it. If my presence is too much then I’ll step back. If all of this is too much we can take a vacation like we used to do. Barcelona hell your pick but honey I need to know if you need me like I need you. I need my daughter and to me you will always be my daughter.” Selina wiped her eyes praying that Maddie said she needed her as well. “I know you lost faith but just try with me. Just try and see where we could go again because I’ll do anything to fix this.”

Maddie watched Selina approach, slowly at first then more confidently with her grandmother’s encouragement. She’d side eyed her grandmother, still not believing she’d made that boomer comment about it being her time of the month. She still felt awkward around Selina. Not sure what to call her or how to approach her. Selina and her grandmother were right, she was bitter and angry. It wasn’t a secret. And how could she not be? She didn’t have a plan for how to handle this. But they were also right that her grandfather would be disappointed. She was disappointed that she let it get the better of her and she’d hurt the people she loved most. She thought about the last time she could remember being with Selina. It was the day her father took her to Renard’s. There had been something off about her then which she later realized was due to Dimitri. She listened quietly to Selina’s story, realizing there was so much she didn’t know. Her dad was always treating her like a child. She suspected he knew. He could have told her. She slid a hand over Selina’s, her eyes snapping up to meet her gaze when she mentioned the assault. The thought of someone hurting her strong, beautiful mother like that broke her heart.

She barely let Selina finish before she threw her arms around her neck. She felt the tears on her cheeks, this time for her mother and all the pain she had endured. And the fear that she may have added to that in some way. Her mother’s arms wrapped around her and she’d desperately missed the way her hugs made her feel like nothing bad could touch her. “I need you. I always needed you and I’m sorry for all the times I acted like I didn’t. You being here is everything I could want. You’re my mom and no one could take your place. Not even Logan, if she suddenly appeared,” Maddie told her, pulling back to dab at her cheeks with a tissue. If it was wrong to say that, she didn’t care. Even Logan couldn’t take away the fact that Selina had been the one at nearly all the events of her life, large and small. “I didn’t know all of that and I think that you’re amazing and brave for fighting your way back and baring your soul like that.” Hearing how her mother had built herself up after being knocked down by so many men, her father included, was inspiring. “I’ve been angry because I lost my greatest champion and my mentor and my best friend but I overlooked that I had all those things in you. So, maybe we can try together because I clearly need to make some things up to you, too.” They had some kinks to work out and things would probably still be awkward for a time, especially when they threw her dad in the mix. “I think I could use a vacation after today. To get out of this house for a while. I have so many things to tell you.” To her grandfather, family was everything. He’d told her they had to stop fighting and she’d do her part to honor him, however small it was. She resolved then to focus her energy on all things that would make him proud. Like Yale. Something her father wouldn’t give him, probably out of rebellion, but she could. She would be the bright star in his legacy. Not a gold plated fuck up like the others. She looked at her grandmother who was looking pleased and took her hand. “For Grandpa, I will apologize to my father at the church, ok? Even if he probably deserved everything I said. I didn’t want Grandpa to die alone. He would have loved that the whole town was hanging on his last words, wouldn’t he? But what about you? After what Tess did. She didn’t let you see him at all. How can you be ok with not saying goodbye?”

Jackie had let mother and daughter have a moment to themselves and she was glad that Selina had told her about what happened with Dimitri. Maybe her son had sheltered her quite a bit over the last year with Dimitri but she did feel that he was doing it for her own good. Sexual assault or harassment were things that her granddaughter frankly didn’t need to know about and he had decided to let Selina tell their daughter in her own time. Now that she had she wasn’t sure she wanted to interrupt the moment so she instead let them have it while she focused on the flowers now that the weather was changing they would all go dormant now. Most of her annuals were starting to show the signs drooping leaves and flowers, soon they would all fall off. The leaves would crunch under their feet and the bright colors would fade they would say goodbye to summer and welcome fall and winter in. Her mind drifted to what Maddie had asked no she hadn’t got to say goodbye and there was an ache in her heart from it, but she knew in some ways she and Lowell had already shared more then one goodbye and the last was on the dance floor. The dance floor where he said everything that he needed to her and she in turn had been so speechless and torn up she hadn’t responded, then there was after the wedding as well and her eyes pushed back tears and her lip quivered just a hair.

“Sometimes we don’t get our final goodbyes Madeline, but we know what we wanted to say when we were too speechless to do so and I believe deep down your grandfather already knew how much I loved him. How much I will miss him, how much we will all miss him, we said our goodbyes before today. Tess will have to atone for what she did at the hospital but she didn’t take your grandfather from me, I had him even in death. I was the one he wanted to share his last dance and words with not her and I have to imagine that hurts her way more than what she did to me.” Jackie said over the years she hated Tess and she still did more now than ever but she had that solace about Lowell’s death, Lowell had chosen her for his last outing at the party, his last dance and last words before his speech. That was her only solace to know that deep down she had still won, she had to move forward and now she needed to make sure that the company wasn’t tarnished by her in anyway shape or form. Her husband had a plan of action where he wanted each of his children to go and what they were supposed to do. “I know it’s hard to move forward but we have to march on he would want. Now we have to band together and protect what he built over the years for you, Fox, Donovan and Jolene that is what mattered to him his legacy and Tess Blisston was never a part of that.” Jackie said looking at them both and her eyes met Selina’s hoping the words didn’t sting too much yes she was critical at the company but DGI was her children’s legacy and she knew they had fought at the Summit. Not knowing what else to say to either of them before she simply got up and left walking out of the garden the pain was too much for her to take.


Philip watched his father entering the limousine outside his window. Since last week when Lowell died he’d seen a shift. It was almost as if the balance of the scales were off with his father. He didn’t seem interested or invested as he thought he would be. Right now they should be charging into battle with DGI while they are in a flux. Instead he was letting them all down waiting on something that might never happen. It was obvious he had some scheme but what if it never came into fruition? MontCorp had been held on the whelm of DGI coattails for years. If this was his legacy then he figured it was time to fight for it because Cassie was clearly seeing and sensing the exact same thing. Thus why Thor was in place as a well placed mole for the company. They were all in the game and were actually working together. Unlike Chauncey he would never let Cassie take his crown but his father was no longer looking like worthy successor. When he got the empire it would crumble. That wasn’t what deserved. He’d seen it too many times the heirs finally get their chance and the parents had already set them up to fail. Forbes wouldn’t set them up. As he slipped out of his bedroom as he adjusted his silk robe he slid down the banister and jumped off playfully smirking.

As he walked to his father’s office on the other side of the mansion. As he paused looking at the music room he remembered playing the piano with his mother teaching Cassie the harp. Her voice always haunted him as he heard her saying go. He’d never liked how his mother died nor did he trust it happened how he said it did. His mother loved Lowell and that did drive him crazy. On those drunken nights with the staff he heard rumors. So loyalty to Forbes Montgomery was a foreign concept to Philip. As he opened his father’s office he walked to his desk and took a picture. Then he immediately went to the business reports. The stocks were down but showed an incline in the next few months due to Cassie’s contributions and his own. Now that they were here MontCorp was moving and Anjelica approved. Something Forbes never had with his random and failed attacks. Placing the reports back down he began to rumble through more documents and paused seeing a living will. His father mortality was on his brain. Interesting Lowell’s death had scared him. This was delicious and it might be a way to push his father out of MontCorp. Using his fears against him. As he looked through the desk he couldn’t find anything that he truly could use against his father.

Walking to his family portrait he pulled the picture down immediately resenting his father had this picture up. He hated his braces phase. As he placed his mother’s birthday in reverse. Once he saw his mother packing her things to leave and placed that combination in. He’d never forgotten that. The very code to the safe was the woman who ripped his heart out and made him a monster. He knew at that very moment you could never trust anyone with your heart. As he opened the safe he began to look through documents, offshore accounts, and private funds for something else. That’s when he saw a safe inside of a safe. Interesting what could his father be hiding. Pulling out the small safe he knew better than to try his mother’s birthday. He instead thought of all his father’s teachings. The most important day of his life was when Lowell betrayed him and he twisted the lock to the date and boom. His father was nothing more if not predictable. Legal documentation for his time at DGI and bonds for MontCorp it was when he saw an adoption notice his heart ran cold. Was this the reason he hated him so much? When he opened it up he began to read who it was about and his blood ran cold. What had his father done? Why would he have an adoption record for Aspen Sinclair? Legally she was their cousin but Blythe kept away years ago. She wasn’t much of an auntie nor was Aspen a cousin. Scanning the birth certificate and adoption record no birth parents were listed. Why would he have it and why did he feel a sense of dread that he wasn’t adopted?

Sucking his teeth he walked to the liquor cabinet and pulled out bourbon and poured himself a glass. When he heard the door turn he stuffed the adoption record in his back pocket and saw Yasmine’s dark eyes looking into his own. “Baby sister, how unfortunate that you caught me.” He raised a glass. “Going to be the good child and tell daddy?”

Yasmine was going to attend Lowell’s funeral she honestly was worried about Forbes. He seemed lost and angry. Like he would never get to beat Lowell now and he had literally beaten him in death because he was still haunting her father. When she saw he was already gone she felt a slight sense of relief. The grief could be leaving the pain could be subsiding. That was something she prayed for every day for him. Sticking her hands in her fitted trousers as she looked at her brother scurrying around Forbes office like a rat that he was. She hadn’t forgiven he placed her on the pole. “So should I tell daddy? I mean you’re the one clearly doing shit you aint got no business doing.”

“Ain’t isn’t a word. You’re a Montgomery, try using proper English.” Philip said immediately cutting the nice shit. If she wanted to play big girl he would. “I mean I know you’re from that trash hole Scottswood but I expect you to have a sliver of class.”

Yasmine strolled with a intense purpose to get to Philip and she slapped the taste out of his mouth. “Who in the fuck are you talking to? Don’t get it mistaken all day my blood is Montgomery but my heart is Scottswood. Also ain’t has been in dictionary for years and I expect you to know that with all that education you have. But I’ll be sure to keep my mouth close because now motherfucker you owe me.” Yasmine stormed out and opened her clutch and texted Cassie that they needed to talk.

“Tada!” Philip said, clapping. “Now you’re acting like you’re a Montgomery.” Gritting his teeth he walked to the printer and copied the birth certificate and adoption papers. “What have you done father?”

  1. Jackie arrives at the church with Selina and Madeline and is greeted by Lowell’s sister Camille and the two share an icy reunion. Jackie mentions that it is a miracle that Canille could pry herself away from London to attend. Camille tells her of course she would be here for her brother and she does plan on staying in town after DGI needs her and Jackie scoffs saying Lowell wanted her in London. They are both interrupted by Tess’ arrival in her red dress where Camille says it fits seeing she is such a Scarlet letter to begin with but maybe she should have worn snakeskin instead.

Jackie had spent most of the car ride over in silence with Selina and Maddie looking out the window as Atlas Falls brushed past them. There was so much about today that she was dreading seeing his casket being the big one, her other was the trump card that would put Tess’s nonsense to rest at DGI. There would be no takeover of that woman and Simon had assured her as much, if there was any solace in today it would be the pure look of shock on Tess’s face when Lowell’s will was presented by Simon and she was thrown out. Until then she knew that she had to be there for her granddaughter as she looked over at her and then her eyes had met Selina’s. Yes they had that argument at the Summit but perhaps they could find peace going forward for everyone, that was what she wanted for the past to stay where it belonged firmly in the past. The press had already gathered outside the church as the limousine stopped and she watched Madeline and Selina exit before taking a breath and doing the same, her black hat on with the veil in front. She didn’t smile at the cameras this time as she somberly walked up the stairs for the church holding her hand up at the reporters she had no comment for today at least none that would be a comfort. Instead she walked into the church and felt the chill in the air.

She was greeted with the photo of her husband on the vertical easel. It was a photo that she recognized from a few years prior when they ran that spread in the New York Times, him in his seat at the CEO office at DGI. Before the truth about Belle came out and her life was turned upside down when she could bury her head into the sand and pretend that her marriage was perfect and flawless, when she liked to think they were happy. It was almost too much to bear so her eyes scanned the rest of the church, the flowers that lined the walkway his casket was up at the front and for a moment she froze even more feeling either Selina or Maddie grabbing her shoulder. Instead her eyes landed on the door to the church opening and she spotted Camille walking inside what in the hell was she doing here? Camille simplu existed in London in her flat her position at DGI London something Lowell had gifted her to make sure that she was separate from the main company and the finances. In his words his baby sister would squander it in excess if she ever got a real taste. “Camille? Why are you here? Clearly after the wedding Lowell let you know that you weren’t needed here.” Jackie said looking at her ex sister in law with pure contempt she had kept that little tidbit about Katie and Tess silent for years.

Moments prior, Camille had entered into the church, dressed to the nines in an all-black power suit, Chanel sunglasses and matching handbag. She approached the easel, which displayed her late brother’s image, and removed her sunglasses to reveal a smokey-eyed look, almost as if at a party instead of a funeral. Stroking the image of her brother’s face, Camille sensed the strong disdain of contempt peering upon her. Turning her head, she noticed Jackie’s cold stare from within the church.

Moving forward, Camille slithered her way towards Jackie, giving off an almost devious smirk. She knew this was about to become interesting coming face-to-face with her brother’s ex-wife for the first time in many years. Approaching Jackie, Camille greeted, “Hello Jacqueline. Don’t I get a hug after all of this time?” Camille extended her arms to embrace Jackie in an almost camp way, in the subtle hope she’d decline the embrace and spare her the embarrassment of having to show the slight amount of compassion.

Jackie almost wanted to sneer at Camille too. She had thought about how she would deal with Camille since the wedding, of course she was a comfort at the time but things change. Not to mention the way Camille just chose then to get into the fact that Tess had brought Kathleen to her, not before when the rumors started with Zerick. Yet her former sister in law had kept silent for years about her involvement in Katie and Tess coming and then of course turning a blind eye to Linus’s crimes. Her eyes scanned the room looking for her former mother in law seeing her over by the casket and gave Camille the side eye over it. Surely being with her mother at the moment by her brother’s casket would be the correct place to be opposed to trying to make nice with her? Camille always clung to her mother for some sort of shield. Lowell always told her that Camille clung to their mother like the mamma’s girls she was and he of course spoiled his sister rotten, had given her a place at DGI London because he felt he could control her and Linus if they weren’t in the way in America. She almost rejected the gesture but knew that instead the best way to worm or get under Camille’s skin was the fake display of civility that she so desired so instead she enveloped her into her arms with a quick hug and kiss on both cheeks.

“Of course Camille.” Jackie said in the most proper voice that she could muster being careful to make it sugary sweet as well just in case Lillian was near there was no need to cause her any distress. It had to have been hard enough to travel with Camille on a plane overseas to make it back to make Lowell’s funeral. Once the public hug was over Jackie made sure to look at Camille again. “I’m still not sure why you thought you needed to be here? Lowell I am sure made his last wishes known and it wasn’t like he was giving you a promotion when he died, plus putting your poor mother through the plane ride alone. Lillian is getting up there in age. What if all that stress breaks this family more and she can’t handle the trip back?” Jackie said seeing both Madeline and Selina look at her amusement on their faces and she simply shrugged. Knowing that Linus was such a monster and that Camille and perhaps even Lillian had covered for him over the years simply enraged her. “Unless you think that she wants to meet her other grandchild in Zerick now or is she still burying her head in the sand standing by Linus.”

Camille pressed her lips at Jackie’s subtle way of trying to drudge up the past in the present moment. Realizing this, she had hoped this discussion could have been avoided to a point, however, realizing Jackie’s truest of intents, balking in this situation would not be in her best interest. “Jacqueline,” Camille stated in a less than genuine tone with the slightest hint of sarcastic enthusiasm. “The only stress my mother had was worrying if she would make it back to Atlas Falls in time to attend her son’s funeral. That was my concern for her, ensuring she made it back here to say goodbye to her son.”

Irritated, Camille heightened the intensity of her voice and body language, continuing, “As for my mother and I’s position regarding Linus and Zerick, that is neither here nor there. This is not the place for that conversation. We are here for Lowell and the family, to grieve together, and to celebrate his life. If you really want to go there, and I assume you don’t, I could ask how Kathleen was doing. But, because I am taking the moral high ground, I won’t. See how that works? Your off-put concern for my mother is admirable, but, again, off-put. She is fine. I am fine.”

Turning a side-eye, noticing the likes of Madeline and Selina looking at their interaction, Camille turns her attention to the floral arrangements aligning the church. Caressing a flower petal, Camille inquires, “These flowers are quite nice, however, we both know they are not quite up to the standard of a long-standing Devonshire spouse, such as you. So, where is the bereaved widow Devonshire-light? I thought, for sure, she would’ve pedaled on her broomstick into this funeral like a Scarlet letter, peddling us her sob story of losing the ‘love of her life’.”

Jackie looked over at Camille fighting off the sneer that wanted to form on her lips of course they wanted to just continue on with things like normal. As if Zerick didn’t exist how he was conceived the coverup behind it and the lies that were crashing down around Linus and DGI around it. How dare she talk about Katie though her doctor said maybe one day there would be a release for her sister that she was near that step but Camille didn’t need to know that. “I’m surprised you could be bothered to take her, then again since Linus is awaiting trial back in London for his latest assault victim it was just you left. Always the discarded child it must be so hard, regardless I don’t expect you to stay in town long. Perhaps a night or two at most we really don’t need you here after that Lowell had everything taken care of.” Jackie said with as much fake sweetness that she could muster at the women in front of her.

“Lowell picked them out himself unless you are trying to tell me that he didn’t know what he wanted? As for the want to be wife, probably off sulking her wounds with the child that side eyes her since the hospital.” Jackie said she had noticed how Belle looked at the hospital, how she was starting to pull away from Tess and that was what she knew she wanted. Tess wanted to challenge her she could that wasn’t something that she was going not relish in, Bliss already thought of her like the mother she didn’t have Belle would feel that way too. “I think she knows better than to show up here on her broom after what she did at the hospital to me and the rest of the kids.” Jackie said quietly not sure if Camille knew what Tess had done or not how she had barred her from her last goodbye to the man she loved and she went to stay more for the doors to open and she looked as Tess was standing there and she nearly rolled her eyes.

Madeline took a step forward to stand at her grandmother’s side. If her grandfather had been here, he’d have put a quick end to the way Camille spoke to her. Not that her grandmother needed the help in the least. She could always more than hold her own but Maddie could see Camille was getting under her skin. She was protective over Zerick with her sister’s state and the way he’d been manipulated. Maddie thought Zerick the lucky one to not have to meet this old shrew. When Tess came through the doors Maddie’s face screwed up in disgust. How could she show up here, dressed like that? She watched her grandmother’s eyes narrow at the woman who’d been so hateful towards her. Jealous all these years because she’d never be Jacqueline Davis Devonshire. The two women were staring each other down when Maddie slipped her hand into her grandmother’s elbow and tugged gently. “Mémé, we should take our seats. My dad’s waiting for us.”

Jackie felt like she was in a trance frist Camille who while unpleasant wasn’t her enemy and then seeing her there in the church dressed in a red pantsuit, the sheer audacity of it was absurd. This woman that claimed to love Lowell all those years and want a life with him was making herself the star of his own damned funeral. This was about him and his life and she couldn’t even show him an ounce of respect not that the woman knew what that word meant. Glancing over at Camille she saw that the distaste was the same thank God. “As lovely as it was to see you again Camille I think Madeline is right. I think we can both agree that he’d rather her not be here. We’ll be in touch about the rest.” Jackie said glancing at her former sister in law before she let Maddie lead her away from the portrait when she was Chauncey at the front starring daggers into Tess as well.


Walter hadn’t waited his entire life for this moment; years ago he thought he would feel more gleeful at the fact that Lowell was dead, years ago when he still hated him and despised him. He still despised his one best friend from time to time but it was different now he didn’t hate him as much thanks to Donovan and Jolene he had been forced to rectify and reconcile his feelings towards Lowell Devonshire. So today while in the confines of his home he had went meticulously through his wardrobe to pick his attire for the day. A simple black suit with the red, white and blue tie for now he needed that on him when he spoke today looking at it hanging on the hook for when he was ready. It was still an election year at the moment for a few others in his office and he was still acting mayor. He looked over at his shoes laid out on the side of his bed. He’d get to them in a minute before he looked at the mirror picking up the razor for a quick shave he would leave the mustache. He let the blade glide over his face as he shaved and rinsed with the warm tap water coming out of the sink. Picking up the aftershave on the counter that Brenda had gifted him for Christmas, something Chanel Bleu maybe even purple or orange he couldn’t remember it would do for today.

Walking to the closet he took his time getting dressed in the mirror running over his various points in the eulogy in his head family, forgiveness, growing old and letting go all things that he felt Lowell had eventually embraced. He would leave out the bad things like greed, betrayal, lust and others it was an honoring service not a time to drag on the past or put him down in the grave. Besides he was pretty sure that if he did step out of line any of Lowell’s children would attack him and Dani would never speak to him again and they were finally on good terms when it came to each other. Walking down the stairs of the house he looked at the photos on the wall smiling at the memories and he wondered if Lowell had that in his last days living with the viper that was Tess Blisston. Probably not was the real answer. He had memories on his wall: all of his children’s graduation photos, wedding photos, pictures of his grandchildren too lined the walls and his eyes landed on the picture of thor family before the crash. Lauren holding Vicky on her lap, his hand on her shoulder, Braden was next to his sister who was sitting there and he almost chuckled remembering Dani almost slugging Braden for pestering her, him bellowing it was enough and then Lauren’s laugh. They were happy then and he walked away from the picture. He didn’t want to dwell too long on the past it didn’t do any of them any good. Instead he headed out to his used Buick Enclave that was parked in the garage starting the engine of course the city had a driver for him but that was for official business this was personal. He made his way to the church and almost had to laugh at the sheer amount of cars there. Even in death everything had to be grand with Lowell Devonshire grumbling as he parked a few blocks away.

He’d greeted his daughter and son in law once he made his way inside sitting behind the family as the pastor gave an opening prayer odd since he didn’t think Lowell actually believed in God. Perhaps that was more Jackie when it came to everything the choir had sang a hymn and then the pastor had introduced him to come up to speak. He’d actually dreamed of this moment in the past hell he’d even wished death on Lowell more times than he could count over the last thirty years but this felt so different than that. Maybe it as the fact that they buried the hatchet or that his daughter was now at DGI or maybe it was the twins. What should have been a hate filled moment for him was actually quite somber. “This is quite the surprise, when Lowell Devonshire asked me months ago to do this you can only imagine my shock and surprise.” Walter started as he spoke into the microphone and he saw a few old timers in the crowd smile just a bit and then he placed both hands on the side of the podium.

“I knew Lowell since we were young boys he grew up five blocks from me, we played on the same little league team. I truly however didn’t really get to know him till high school, preppy and arrogant truthfully I didn’t really like him much he insulted myself and my brother quite a bit even though we were both raised in the same neighborhood. I knew that his flashy car was not as new as he claimed and he simply had gotten it thanks to his father at the bank. I was content to not ever met or see him again. High school came and went, fate had other plans, by the time I was enrolled in college my roommate was assigned with Lowell. He was one of the most annoying roomates I’d ever had the pleasure of living with. He left his papers everywhere all the time in cluttered messes drove me insane.” Walter paused for a moment, the reflection almost bringing a smile to his face. He was so tidy, so were both his kids and he wondered if in fact that Lowell’s children took on that trait or not. After a brief moment he took a breath and then continued. “I was there when he met the true love of his life Jackie Davis at one of the many socials, I was there when he asked her to a Rolling Stones concert. We became friends. He was majoring in business myself in computer science, two men couldn’t be more different.” His eyes meet Jackies for a brief moment and then his ex-wife’s those were happier times for them all.

“We decided to start a company together with just us two boys with a dream after graduation and it happened, we bought our first IBM and placed it in my parents garage. Tested a software that to this day is still being used at DGI and defense systems and the money came in. Partners, I was the best man at his wedding, he was at mine, we were more like brothers than friends at that point. The excess changed him before my eyes, I made my own mistakes too and I was there when his son Chauncey was born. He was there when my eldest was born.” Walter said, pausing again reliving that horrible moment at the Christmas party in his head while he looked out at the crowd wondering if that was something he should talk about, Lowell outing him and the others was not new knowledge to half the people in the room. But was it the right thing to do? “Even brothers can betray each other, he moved on with the lavish lifestyle, the drugs and the money. I made quite a different life than what I was at the beginning, people drift apart and some things you can’t forgive or come back from. I was content to hate him for over thirty years. I watched from afar while he took my software and made billions. It would take a lot of years, so I suppose to some he was a cheat too.”

“So we went our separate ways, content to have his side of town and my own, my daughter went to work for DGI then proceeded to fall in love with his second eldest son. I started to question how much hate did I really have in my heart around that time. The answer was less than I thought there was when he reached out to me when Zerick claimed to be his son, by then my daughter was pregnant with our mutual grandchildren. We shared a drink for the first time in over thirty years and I realized I actually had come to pity him in his last year.” Walter said pausing for a moment in truth he did pity Lowell when he had gathered him and Tony to help clean up his mess with Linus, he was no longer jealous or angry he actually pitied to man he had become. Pitied that he had stood up for his racist brother and let the love of his life go for the likes of Tess Blisston none the less who had lied to him about two children. “My relationship with Lowell was complicated but towards the end and our grandchildren we were able to reconcile to the point he asked me here today to speak on his behalf and help guide his son forward at the company. So what type of a man was he in his final moments of his final year over his lifetime?”

He paused for a moment wanting the moment to sink in with the crowd wanting it to have the emotional impact that he wanted. He still wasn’t sure he was going to run for office again at the end of his term but he liked to keep his options open down the line. “I think Lowell discovered that he wasn’t the immortal being that he thought he was over the years, the being that he created but merely a man that needed to accept and deal with his shortcomings. He realized what many of us do that we are mortal and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much money you had, how many times you screwed someone over or how many affairs you had if you can’t reconcile the things that are important to you in the end. Things like your family for Lowell it was a lovely wife that stood by him over the years, three boys that he put harsh expectations on, a girl that he spoiled rotten, a girl he left to her own devices out of a shame and another daughter that he didn’t even know he had. He was able to make his peace with all of them and spend time with his grandchildren like mortal men do. He spent his last days surrounded by the love of his friends and family, spent his breaths that evening before he died with his children. Spent a final last dance with the woman he really loved.”

“I think we can all remember Lowell as that man, the man that was simply a man at the end of it all, a man that did try his very best towards the end of his life. A man that knew where he wanted his company and his children to go, a man that selfless enough to let the woman he loved go towards the end. He was a father, grandfather and a friend. Most importantly he was merely a man that ran out of time, thank you.” Walter finished stepping down from the podium as he began walking back to his seat pausing for a moment to hug Jackie as she approached to introduce Rory to the crowd and then finishing to sit down in his seat.

“Thank you Walter.” Jackie said as she moved towards the microphone and then wiped her eyes the tears stinging and threatening to fall. She held up her finger for a moment to compose herself before she spoke. “I’d like to bring up our son Rory.” She said quietly swearing that she could hear a pin drop as she did so.


Rory had sat in the pew listening to Walter drone on and on, earlier in the day he had awoken early before Aspen had even got up. Mainly to check a few work emails and have a cup of coffee on his own looking at the sunrise come up through his massive windows in his condo, a new day on the city and on his life. He actually wasn’t sure what he was going to say at the funeral when it came down to everything, what was there the he could possibly say to the man that they all had aspired to be over the years. In some ways he felt like he was repeating the worst mistakes when it came to his father and mistakes though, he proposed to Aspen and what should have been a happy moment for him felt like going through the motions. He cared about Aspen of course he did, Yasmine had moved on with that pompous ass of a doctor so wasn’t he allowed to move on as well? Even if he and Aspen didn’t have what his brother and Dani did or Bliss and Hunter had, was it so awful to want to try to have that in his life now? He mulled over that while he sipped the coffee, letting Aspen sleep and then he made them both breakfast. Afterwards he had gotten ready for the funeral including Aspen of course while he did.

He had picked out his suit a black Armani and then his favorite Rolex to go with it and then they had headed to the mansion for a stop before the church. It was somber the entire time and he had wondered if Aspen was having second thoughts or not, they hadn’t even really got to celebrate their engagement since it happened, it seemed like bad timing to do so. He could make that up to her later once the funeral was over by the time they had made it to the church he was ready to say his final and last goodbye. It was almost too somber when he walked in and saw his father’s casket, closed to view and honestly his stomach churned a bit knowing that his body was inside. He was also partly relieved that his dad had chosen to close the casket too, he wasn’t sure he, his mother or his siblings could have handled that. He had turned when the doors opened and he saw Tess had arrived in gaudy ass red pantsuit and he almost flipped the hell out only to stop when he saw Belle behind her. He had taken the time the last week to at least text out an apology to his little sister for the hospital and he simply ignored Tess while he walked past her and hugged Belle embracing her tightly and seeing Tess fuming at the action.

“Hey we’re really glad you came how about you come up front and sit with me and Aspen? I am sure Bliss will be here soon with Hunter too and I know my mom won’t care.” Rory said making sure to emphasis that to Tess, his mom hadn’t said much during the week but had made it clear that lashing out at Belle was no longer something she would tolerate. He was pretty sure it was because of their encounter at the hospital where she had comforted her before Belle had gone into see his father with Bliss, something had softened his mother to Belle. She may not have been able to ever look at Belle like she did Bliss, but it felt like an acceptance instead of a contact painful reminder for her and he was willing to let it go for peace in the family if he had too. “I meant what I said when I texted you earlier I shouldn’t have went off on you at the hospital. You’re a damn grown adult and it wasn’t anyone of our business what happened with you and David. Whoever took those photos will pay once we figure out who did it.” Rory said looking at his little sister and hoping that she was willing to meet them all halfway finally.

Belle held her composure and didn’t look shaken in public. Call it a British thing because she hated to be looked at a weakling. However when she walked in with Tess she felt the eyes dart directly onto them. She wasn’t here for this. She wanted to say goodbye to her father and she just wanted peace on today of all days. When Rory hugged her she instantly teared up because she never felt welcomed by any of them. She never felt apart of the Devonshire’s and here he was opening up to her and her mother was so far away. In this moment she could have been a moment of peace. Of two women burying a man they equally loved. That was heartbreaking because of her mother’s pettiness that day would never happen. She exhaled wiping the corners of her eyes. “Unfortunately I don’t think we will ever get behind who leaked those photos. In my opinion it’s best we all move on from David Rhodes.” Rubbing her neck she walked to the front past her mummy and Pierre LeClerq. Sitting at the front pew she looked at Rory. “Thank-you I just spent the last few months trying to fit twenty-one years into them all. It was glorious you know just to kinda have him to myself. I know that sounds bad but I don’t know him. I don’t know him like you all do and that’s why I kept throwing it in your face that I got him in the end.”

Crossing her legs she smiled at her brother. “It’s hard on me. I’m the youngest and the most unwanted. I did things to all of you but I was lashing out and because Bliss was getting her nogging knocked she gets a free pass. Oh please don’t say that I’m wrong because I’m not. I’m Tess last lick at your mum. I feel badly for the lady now thinking about it not one embarrassing secret shame of secret but two. Not to mention Zerick’s dirty twisted paternity and countless of other affairs. No woman should have had to tolerate what Jackie did but honestly love, my mother didn’t have a walk in the park. Every time she moved on he came back and ruined her life. He told me that out of his own mouth. So I am conflicted who was Lowell Devonshire because on one hand I see a calculating man who stole a company, built an empire professionally and personally, and then proceeded to destroy them both himself with all these horrible moves. So since you know him so well Rory and you are making me feel so welcomed right now. Who was our father because I am seeing two different men, a scoundrel with a crown, and a loving father.” Belle said as she wiped the corners of her eyes refusing to do a full on cry in public.

Rory almost wanted to stick his tongue out at Tess when Belle hugged him back and almost broke down in his arms, it was weird in a way. He had never been that to his siblings the one they would cling to or whatever, it was him doing the one clinging and often times crying. He was the baby of the family until Belle came into their lives, he was a little shocked she wanted to drop the entire thing with David. Devonshire’s didn’t take shit laying down and frankly he wanted to know who did it, clearly it affected their dad and it was a really crappy thing to do. He shrugged at her when she pulled back compared to what Zerick had done when he came to town Belle was actually kinda tame, sure she didn’t come off sometimes at the most gracious or mature but she didn’t try to take their company or do a ton of other things that Zerick did. In other ways she and Zerick had a lot in common too, the lies they had both been told and he wondered how he would tell Belle how he felt. He didn’t hate her, in some ways he understood her and her being so self aware sometimes he felt was a good thing.

“I think you got to know the real him in some ways he was his most vulnerable with you he wasn’t that way with us growing up. I don’t hate you Belle and I don’t think the rest do either it’s just hard all the lies he told to everyone. You and Bliss are a reminder of that lie to our mom, I’m sure it’s reversed for you now with us Bliss too. Compared to what Zerick did you were pretty tame sis.” Rory said looking at her trying to understand the girl who was by his side, his little sister and more so did he really want to welcome her like that given how broken his mother looked at the hospital. He wondered on and off what his dad would want him to do and he knew that it was be a brother to Belle as odd as it was, that was what he would want for them to welcome Belle like they did Bliss. “He was a hard ass at times okay most of the time Belle. But when he showed up he was there you know? He was always there for Chauncey, Max or me for big moments or at least most of those. Bliss and Jackson didn’t get that though. Also I do think that deep down he loved all of us even you and our mom I know you don’t like her, I think even now she gets it. Also dad wouldn’t want us to move on from the press embarrassing you like they did at the Summit and then we all railed on you instead of doing what he wanted.” Rory said pausing for a moment as he looked at her. “Instead of lashing out at you we should have protected you, you’re not Zerick. You were just the final nail for a lot us, this false hope that crashed down.”

Belle nodded listening to him speak. “Maybe we could find out who did it together if you think father would want to know. I just think putting David Rhodes behind me is for the best but I also would like to stomp the person who exposed my relationship into dust. So I guess the Devonshire in me wins because I’m going to annihilate whomever crossed me.” She smirked at him. “I understand I can be an easy target, love but can you all stop doing it at once. It makes it a bit disorientating and unwelcoming. I have so many more questions about our father. Sometimes I grow a little jealous of you all including Bliss. Somehow she’s worked her way into the fold and I want that. Not to be just a Devonshire but apart of the family. Someone you all can depend on and it sucks that you all look at me like I’m the biggest mistake of our father’s life. You can sit here and honestly be nice to me but you don’t care Rory.” She wasn’t being a bitch for once she was being real. “Nothing I can do can change how I was conceived and my conception brought forth the end of your parent’s marriage. I sometimes wish I never found out. Being the Archibald screw up was easy because I knew I was loved. You all are forced to care about me. That’s what he wanted right? For you all to care about me. I understand that I’m not your sister in spirit but just by DNA.” Belle stared at the casket and swallowed the large lump in her throat.

It was when he said Lowell wanted them to welcome her into family. For some reason it triggered her into feeling even more alone. “Rory I can leave Atlas Falls. I can be like Camille and never come back. I have enough money and I think I made a mistake coming here. This isn’t my life. I supposed to be marrying a prince or something. Partying with the royals and never having a care in the world. That’s what my life used to be about. I don’t want to be a Devonshire anymore. I don’t wanna be apart of a family who feels the need to only care about me when it’s convenient. Believe it or not I was trying. I don’t know how to be a sister because I was a lousy one to my other sister. Oh my God I got so wrapped up in all of this Devonshire shit I haven’t even called my family. I’m not one of you Max made that very clear at the hospital. So stop. Stop being nice because I know you all hate me and you can say you don’t but I know what I feel. I don’t feel welcomed and I don’t think I’ll ever be apart of your family.”

Rory knew the hospital had been a lot for all of them, the starkness of what happened, how suddenly it happened and the all lashed out her. Honestly though it started with Chauncey and Jackson with Walter and then escalated to Belle. It was Devonshire nature sadly it was all they knew thanks to the man in the coffin always pushing and prodding them to do different things at the company to vy for his attention no matter who it hurt along the way. “It wasn’t always that way with Bliss actually we were all split down the middle with her me and Jackson welcomed her. Chauncey put up a bit of a wall and Max went ballistic. It wasn’t pretty especially once Bliss and Hunter started to catch feels for each other, so like I said when you came to town it was a lot different at least you didn’t try to sleep with Seb or Hunter. We all care Belle it’s just hard for all of us and I know you don’t understand that and you think Tess is a good person and your mother, but it’s just hard. It couldn’t of been that bad with your adoptive parents Belle they love you and from I can tell pretty unconditionally.” Rory said not sure what else to say to her in order to ease her mind about it all and instead he leaned in putting his hand on her shoulder to let her know she was there.

“We’d all be pretty sad I think if at the end of all that trouble you decided to head back to London and disappear from our lives or at least I know that I would. I’ve never got to be the older cooler big brother. Your reveal came on the heels of all that shit that happened with Zerick too Belle and you can ask him I tried with him too when I thought he was my brother.” Rory said quietly thinking about one of the fights that he had overheard over the years with his mother and father and he wondered if in some ways he was the trap back then. He knew it was silly to blame Belle for the end of his parents marriage but there was a lot of emotions they all had about it, especially him when it came to Tess and what happened with them. “Listen I can try with you if you want or I can’t. I made a stupid drunk mistake with your mother that I am pretty sure our dad never really got over and she ruined my entire relationship with Yasmine over it. I can try to be the big brother you want but I can’t be on good terms with her, I just can’t. It’s not just the fact that she hid you from my dad, she’s been after him and the company for years and used me as a way to try and get it. So what do you say?” Rory asked looking at his baby sister hoping that she decided to stay and they decided to start over.

  1. Max goes up the podium where she talks about how for years she was her father’s only girl that they shared everything together and then it all changed. Bliss joins her sister on stage and both give a moving reflection about Lowell’s life and the different ways he loved them and Max finishes the speech warning DGI’s enemies that if they come for it they will defend their father’s legacy with everything they have. Looking pointedly at Tess as she arrives, Bliss whispers to her sister the warning from Belle as they take a seat.

The last week had passed in almost a blur for her ever since the hospital watching Tess destroy her mother’s final moments with her father. She and Seb had spent the week going back and forth between their condo and the mansion small talk of course pretending it was all okay. The most chilling of them all was going to that God awful funeral house and picking out the coffin that was now in front of the church. The nicest and if course the most expensive Chauncey had signed for it since their mother was too distraught to do it. So here she was in the church dressed in her black Burberry dress ready to get up and talk about the man she adored and loved. Of course she loved Seb but this was different. It was her father and she walked past her siblings on the way shooting Belle a glare for good measure. Had Rory lost his damn mind asking her to sit with them? After what she did to their father? It was almost laughable and she held up her hand when Seb went to help her up she wasn’t an invalid just pregnant his ass could sit down.

“Thank you all for coming today. The last week I’ve thought a lot about what and how I wanted to do this. About the type of speech that I was going to give though the mayor seems to think he has my father’s entire life covered. My father was frankly smarter than him.” Max said seeing the horror and some of the crowd’s faces at how blunt she was honestly she was angry he was dead more so than anything and he was callous when he kicked Walter out she knew that much. She wasn’t going to apologize for that and instead folded her hands on the sides of the podium. “My father took what he wanted in this town and people respected him for it and to pretend otherwise is such a dishonor to his memory. He was a crude and smart businessman who did everything for us and our mother. He loved us all in his own ways even if he didn’t always show it that much in public. For a long time I often wondered where I fit in with my family since I was the only girl, he spoiled me rotten often times indulging me in whatever I wanted or needed in my life. He shared everything with me ballet lessons, horse riding lessons and needless to say sorry the rest of my siblings I was his favorite girl. That all suddenly changed when we all learned that his affair with the woman who I won’t dignify by acknowledging she exists trapped him and had my little sister Bliss. I suddenly wasn’t the only girl and that honestly stung.” Max said looking out at the crowd none of them were prepared for that probably the frankness of it. “So I suppose I really can’t finish to eulogize the type of man my father was and who he was unless she is up here so Bliss can you come up.”

Like the others, Bliss, Hunter and Fox had spent the past week at the Devonshire mansion. But being in her father’s former home had been a small comfort leading up to today. She’d had little contact with her mother, opting instead to do what she could to support Jackie who’d spent the week keeping herself as busy as possible. Thank god Hunter had come home to them when he did. Facing today without him was inconceivable. The fact that he was there each night and each morning was the only thing keeping her sane through all this. When they’d managed to find a few moments alone during the week, they’d discussed the strange texts from Tess. And today, she’d shown him the text from Belle but they’d been interrupted as people began arriving. Her mother was up to something and she had a bad feeling about all of it. The fact that she came to the funeral in that red pantsuit made it all the worse. Her mother looked desperate and bitter showing up like this. It hurt that she could do this at her father’s funeral and to the family. She felt pity for her, as well. She could never hold her head high the way Jackie did.

Fox had gotten restless but was now happily sitting with Maddie, Jackie and even Chauncey was helping them entertain him. Walter had dismissed her as the forgotten child. She knew better now, though getting there had been rocky. When Max asked her to come up, it was a surprise. She hadn’t prepared anything and wasn’t sure she could find the words to do her father justice but she would try. Hunter helped her to the dais and she kissed him on the cheek before joining Max, looking out across the crowd. She took a breath and glanced up at Max. “Frankly, when I came to town, I never would have believed Max and I would be able to breathe the same air, let alone share a moment like this. As far as sisters go, I’m not sure you could find two as different as me and Max. It was our father who made me see that those differences made us stronger.” She glanced back at the portrait of Lowell with a sad smile. It felt like a lifetime ago that she’d barreled into town to demand her due. “It took us some time to get there but we wouldn’t be where we are without him. I didn’t have the same memories of our father and that was painful. I had him on holidays and a few weeks during the year when he could get away. Max had him the rest of the time. Needless to say, he wasn’t a perfect father as Walter pointed out but what Walter failed to mention was that had so much love to give.”

“Bliss is right after all it’s not everyday that your sister comes to town and starts to lust after your husband luring him into her bed and drama. We are very different but I think that was what my dad loved about each of us that we were all so different. Ater Bliss came to town I fought her tooth and nail on everything and then my father had to pull me aside and ask why I was holding on to tightly to be unhappy.” Max said looking over at Bliss, she remembered that conversation at the time how upset she was at what was happening with Bliss and Hunter, nevermind that she was cheating on Hunter at the time with Philip. She wasn’t about to let that slip up there at the podium and look like a little harlot to everyone there, no it was better that little sister took the fall for it. “He told me that I needed to accept her like my brothers Rory and Jackson seemed to do and yet I dug my heels in even more. It actually took my mother convincing me to give Bliss a break when she needed help. My mother who had so much love to my father that she was denied a moment to say goodbye. She took Bliss into her wings when Bliss needed it and I finally got what my father was trying to tell me, the only thing that matters at the end is family.” Max said quietly as she paused reaching up and wiping at her eye for a moment before looking over at Bliss.

“I learned that had to include Bliss into that family for it to work we all did. Not only did I gain a sister from it, I also gained a nephew in Fox and I didn’t lose my husband either. I gained a friend instead we’ll never be a perfect family but we can all grow and expand our family. He wanted that he gained a new daughter, a grandson from Bliss. He gained an another grandson and granddaughter earlier along with a daughter in law. It was all working out and I know he was so proud when he learned myself and my partner Sebastian are having a boy, we were complete.” Max said pausing for a moment wondering if she should include Belle in her speech and instead shot their little sister a look that she wasn’t included in that, she had made her choice sticking by Tess. Everyone else may of forgotten that, how much time Belle stole from them with how she came to town how she stayed silent with everything with Zerick she wasn’t so inclined to offer her or include her because of it. “I think if anything we are all grateful for everyone that came today to honor our father. I’ll miss him dearly going forward but I know what he would want us to do, to keep his legacy going at the company and at home and I know that I will promise to do that to the best that I can. Bliss.” Max said seeing the hurt on Belle’s face was by far the most satisfaction she had in ages at how excluded she felt and she looked over at Bliss to let her finish what she wanted to say.

Bliss listened to Max skirt over all the awful things she’d done to Hunter, the way she treated him. The cheating. But today was about saying goodbye to her father and she was determined to take the high road. Mostly. She knew Max was in pain, taking their father’s death terribly but honestly, that was no excuse to be so vindictive. His death had rocked them all and they needed each other more than ever. This seemed less like a eulogy and more like Max’s greatest hits and a reading from her personal shit list all rolled into one. Still trying to prove she was worthy. “In a way I suppose I can thank Max for bringing me and Hunter together. She was part of the reason I came to Atlas Falls and I’ll always be grateful for the day she finally came to terms with what everyone else knew, that Hunter and I had something real. A once in a lifetime love. Like the love my father had. My father supported us because he believed in love. He grabbed life by the horns and lived it to the fullest. That was his greatest wish for all of his children and grandchildren, that we would all do the same. He loved us all, differently, yes, but none above another. Somehow, he always managed to give each of us what we needed.” The emotions of the past week weighed heavily and she paused, to dab at her eyes with a tissue. “I never imagined I’d be saying goodbye to him so soon after I came to town. He managed to squeeze so many life lessons, so much wisdom into that short time. I think his job as a parent became infinitely harder once we were all adults,” she managed a small laugh as she took another breath. Looking to Hunter, feeling like she could draw strength from him. “I will take that lesson, too. We’re parents for the rest of our lives. No days off. If I can be half the parent he was, I think I’ll be ok.”

She watched Belle’s dejected expression at being pointedly left out. Max had zeroed in on her at the cause of all this and that wasn’t fair. Belle couldn’t help that Tess was her mother and that’s what it all came down to. Just like when Bliss had come to town. That Jackie could offer an olive branch to Belle, on the night their father died, no less, was so generous. “He owned his mistakes and fought to make things right. But through all of that, he loved hard and with his whole soul. So was there ever really anything to forgive? That’s the greatest gift any parent can give.” She paused, remembering their last conversation and placed a hand on the little swell of her belly. For Fox and this new baby, she hoped she could be there for them with the same ferocity that Lowell has been. She thought about the promise she made, that she would do everything she could to keep the family together. That didn’t include her mother but she had deluded herself into thinking she was ever as important as Jackie. Bliss and Belle were just beginning to forge a relationship of their own and they would look after their mother, of course, but she would always be on the outside. “Those of us who are lucky enough to be a part of this family will carry that with us forever. This amazing, beautiful, sometimes dysfunctional family is the greatest gift he could have given me. I’m proud to be his daughter and I’m proud to be a Devonshire. So, Daddy, you can rest now and let us carry on for you. We’ll make mistakes of our own but we’ll be there to catch each other. Like you wanted.” She looked at Max sensing there was more on her mind.

Max felt satisfied in that moment Belle looking dejected at her and then her eyes narrowed in on Tess. The woman was a menace to her family and Atlas Falls and if she really thought any of them were going to take her shit she had no idea who she was taking on. Belle could stand by her side if she wanted that alone proved to her that she wasn’t her sister. At least Bliss had chosen the right side in this war that was starting. She almost wanted to laugh at Bliss claiming on and on about how Hunter and her found each other wastage love. Leaning into the microphone she made sure that her words were going to be heard this time for everyone in that room. “The only  other thing that he would want everyone in this room to know is that if you come after us we’ll destroy you. Meaning you come after his children or grandchildren we’ll be there. You come after our mother, we will chew you up and spit you out. You come after our company. We will strike out harder than before and annihilate you. We will stand united against anything for his legacy and you aren’t on our side you’re on the other one. And trust me that is not where you want to be.” She didn’t say anything else as she stepped back from the microphone and moved next to Bliss as the choir began to sing again and she looked over at her.  “I think that went rather well wouldn’t you agree?”

Bliss stared at her sister. “It was…” her brows furrowed, searching for a diplomatic response and coming up short. “…I’m just glad it’s over.” She’d seen her mother in the crowd. Tess’ expression was hard and it gave her chills. She looked like a snake coiled up and ready to strike. Bliss had avoided addressing either Jackie or Tess when she spoke. Emotions were high today and she didn’t want to stir up the past for either one. This was about saying goodbye to her father, not about rehashing the affairs or who he loved most. Still, something was going on with her mother and she couldn’t keep it to herself. As Max said, they were a unit. They needed to band together. She glanced back at her mother, impossible to miss. A gaudy red spot in a sea of black. She almost wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole. Or maybe better, her mother. “Max,” she said softly, the choir still singing. She leaned in, aware of her mother’s glare still on them and she returned the look with a warning of her own. She needed to reevaluate whatever she had brewing. “Belle texted me before the funeral. She thinks our mother interfered with Dad’s will and she’s been texting me about DGI. Something’s not right.”


Ever since he had arrived to the hospital late to say goodbye to Lowell he had been working with the corporate lawyers to make sure the will was secure. Lowell didn’t trust Tess; he had told him that much from the get go; it was why his boss had a fail safe just in case. Walking into Lowell’s office he knew that the funeral would begin soon and be made sure that it was still in place. Looking up at the portrait that Lowell has insisted be placed there as tacky as it was the one of him and Tess. In Lowell’s words she’d want Jackie out of DGI but her picture could remain so he walked to the portrait and almost laughed at how awful it looked. Like why was she wearing white in it? He pulled the photo off the wall and then took out his knife from his pocket to cut the velvet backing on it. Tess thought she was so smart all the time it was almost sad in a way. He’d finish this up for Lowell and had actually been considering a move afterwards he was getting restless mainly because of everything with Ivan and his uncle and now this. He’d been thinking about maybe asking for a transfer when it was all done maybe London or even their Europe office could be interesting. He would want Ivan to go to and maybe he wouldn’t be so scared if they were in Europe.

He pushed the thoughts aside as the knife glided through the fabric on the back till he made a hole big enough to stick his hand in looking around the room and the packed boxes that Tess had marched in and demanded people do. He informed the staff to let her for now, the CEO office would be transferred to Jackson’s office if he wanted it there eventually and he took out his phone when it buzzed looking at the message from Mason. They were acquaintances still and he was an attorney for DGI and he had asked him to be ready just in case Tess really tried to take over they could fight it in court. He let out a breath when he saw that Mason had simply agreed with his plan that of course they would be fighting Tess if anything happened at the funeral. His hand reached around inside the picture finally finding it’s target as he took out the plastic sandwich bag and held it up, bingo bitch. A physical will was of course left in his study but a recorded one with witnesses such as himself and Tony on camera well that was fool proof for any judge to see.


He almost wanted to take the picture frame and crush it into a ton of pieces when it came down to it to remind her that she had lost only instead he knew the game plan was to let Tess think that she had won. So he simply put the picture back on it’s hook on the wall and then looked at one of the boxes that was open the pictures that were carelessly thrown in there. He took out the photos one by one of Lowell’s children and grandchildren replacing them on the desk and then he couldn’t help it when he looked at Jackie’s portrait. He felt his phone buzz and looked at the text from Ivan to tell him that he was on the way to the office to go with him to the funeral and he knew that he should have left well enough alone but he couldn’t help it seeing Tess in that awful white dress on the wall was pissing him the hell off. Walking back over to the portrait he took it off the wall and into the hallway finding the biggest garbage can he could find and placed it inside upside down. Frankly he hoped someone had thrown their lunch inside of it to, as he switched his AirPods into his ears listening to Beethoven while he walked back inside Lowell’s office.

Once there he took out Jackie’s portrait and hung it back on the hook where it had sit behind his desk for the last thirty years, Tess had no right to clean out his office. Bitch needed to stay in her lane in his mind or at least her lane until after the will was shown and then Mason could press charges. Tess would be squirming like the worm in DGI that she was becoming, meanwhile he would be popping champagne with the rest of the DGI employees and siblings welcoming the real CEO on board and a new horizon at the company. He placed the thumb drive in his pocket before he walked back to his office he needed collect his briefcase for the day, his keys to his car and his ID badge. He took his time while he did, remembering that Lowell wanted this for him and the company, Tess wasn’t to have a part of it period. He would do everything in his power to make sure it stayed that way and he almost wanted to come back to DGI and watch her face when she saw Jackie’s picture there on the wall it would serve her right. He turned up his phone volume while the music played in his ears the hums of the violin and the keys of the piano in his ears, blocking out the rest. Opening the door to his office he looked around the hallway no one was there, not surprising but in a way it was haunting.

He shook the thoughts out of his head as he placed his finger on the elevator button and then hopped on when the arrow pointed down arrow. He enjoyed the ride down wondering how many people were at Lowell’s funeral if it would be packed or not, probably packed given who he knew Lowell was. His former boss had a charm about him and people flocked to him almost like they were drawn to him, he had a bit of swag to him that made people want to be in his circle. Once he reached the lobby he waved to Carl the guard on duty before going towards the parking garage and took out the keys to his Jaguar starting the car as he began to make his way down the stairs. The next thing he felt was someone shoving him from behind and he let out a scream as he lurched forward his hands and feet scrambling to maintain his balance as he crashed down the stairs. He lay there for a moment his head on the concrete as he reached his hand up to his head feeling the blood oozing from the top of his head. His eyes crossing and uncrossing he was pretty sure he had a concussion, he couldn’t even speak as he saw a set of loafers in front of him. Felt someone reaching into his pocket as he tried to swat their hand away and then everything went black completely black.

Ivan was waiting on Simon in the parking lot in his new Maybach Jamal had gotten him with a driver. Jumping out with flowers for Shorty he knew today was going to be hard. Lowell Devonshire was so impactful he partied with 2Pac and shit. People knew Lowell’s name in the hood; he was more likable than Trump. The relatable billionaire or some shit. More importantly he understood what Lowell meant to Simon. That old motherfucker rocked with Simon and taught Shorty how to be a killer. He just texted him back saying he was on his way down to his car. Ivan parked further down so he could shine on a cloudy day for him. Simon thought he wouldn’t rock with him. Nah today he was right by his man’s side. Placing the flowers down he exhaled he probably didn’t want to go see Lowell. Shit that was how it was in the hood nobody wanted to see anyone they loved in that casket. Ivan walked down the parking lot and paused seeing Simon’s Jaguar on but he wasn’t no where near. Pulling out his phone he called him and heard ringing in the parking garage. Walking toward the steps he saw a thin red trail of blood trickling down as he saw a hand. Rushing up the stairs and praying it wasn’t Simon. He gasped when he saw him laying there lifeless.

“Shorty.” Ivan said as he rushed to him and scooped him in his arms. His head was bleeding. Slapping his cheeks trying to awake him. “Simon! Simon! Look at me baby boy I’m right here baby boy.” Standing up holding Simon in his arms he rushed down the stairs and ran to the Maybach. “Yo! Yo! Get me to the hospital as fast as you can and let me see your phone. Get me DGI office front desk.” He took off his T-shirt wrapping it around Simon’s head. “This Carl? Get your fat lazy fucking ass up and look on the cameras roll them motherfuckers back I wanna know what happened to Simon. Get his shit up off the ground it could be important DGI shit in there get the fuck up and do something. What you sitting here for go!” Ivan screamed as the Maybach sped out of the parking lot and directly toward St. Christopher’s.


Jackie had watched as her children had gotten up to say their goodbyes and this was the moment she had looked forward to over the week how she would get to say goodbye to Lowell since Tess had made sure she didn’t get her goodbye at the hospital. There was more than one way to make sure the trash was taken out and this was her way of doing it and she looked around one last time for Simon. When she didn’t see him she had simply looked ahead at the crowd the bitch thought she won. She would never and she did mean never take what was her children’s birthright from them or his middle sons chance to do what his father envisioned. She could ban her, all she wanted from the hospital till she was blue in the face, cruelly taking away the last moments that she had to say her own goodbye. But Tess Blisston’s little reign was over after today Simon has assured her of that they would show the will and this nightmare that Tess was attempting to spread in the press would be done. When she reached the podium after Chancey and Jackson had helped her up she took in the moment most of the entire town had come, or at least anyone who had met her ex-husband had and for a moment her heart fluttered.

“Thank you all for coming, words can’t express how much this means to my children or my family. My ex husband was a complicated man that aspired to be something better than he had known his entire life. He was a dreamer at heart, I can see why he passed that trait on to all of his children. He was also an innovator, bringing in great minds to his company over the years to make sure that it stayed on the top. He lost his way along the road a few times, but he always came back to that road and that vision. He was for the most part a good husband when he was home. He loved all his children differently and he probably should have said that more and let them know that more than he did.” Jackie said her hands she realized were shaking when she spoke and she took a few breaths to calm herself, the reality that was setting in for her that Lowell was gone and dead, that her goodbye had been ripped from her.

“Testing, testing one two three.” Once she could hear herself she began strutting to front of the church hearing gasps at her ensemble. “I’ve had about enough of all of you ignoring me.” She seethed as she walked on stage with precision in each step. “I am the widow, I mean you have gotten to run the funeral as much as Lowell wanted but I for one can say I don’t give a damn what he wanted. You see I’ve waited a long time for this Jackie you thought he loved you more than me. You thought that you were the center of his universe. I mean Walter fucking Fraiser just said his true love. True love bullshit because if he loved you so much Jackie why did Lowell leave DGI to me?” Tess looked at the face out in the audience because this was her show. She was the ringmaster and she was about to have all eyes on her. “Since I was ignored so finely and Camille told me what trash I am. I just want to formally tell you Camille you’re fired. I also want to formally tell you all Chauncey, Jackson, Max, and Rory my sweet sweet Rory. You all are on active probation after a performance review. I won’t be sweeping a national tragedy underneath the rug huh Chauncey and Selina? After the review I might allow one or two of you to stay. Since you didn’t get to say goodbye I’ll tell you what his last words were. Due to my servitude and loving him through his illness he wanted to make his position on me very clear. I am the love of Lowell Devonshire’s life and just a week before his last dying breath he awarded me CEO of DGI. So maybe he forgot or maybe he didn’t remember but sorry Jackson you won’t be claiming the throne. So I guess your failing marriage can continue to fail all without DGI to blame.” Tess said with all her haught. He choked her and she wouldn’t forget that. Staring at Jackie’s horrified expression she reveled in it.

“Oh please Jackie don’t look like that. You are so shocked that he could finally give me something that he never gave you. A seat at the table dearie.” She was enjoying twisting the knife. “If she was the love of his life why did he screw me and Audrey and all the others? I wasn’t special but neither was she because she kept getting cheated on. Sadly I don’t like being a sister wife but waiting sure does have its advantages. Just like kicking you out of his room. I’m his wife and he wanted me and my girls to be secure. You five have eaten off of Lowell’s legacy life fat pigs but now you don’t have to. You don’t have to be a part of my company so if you don’t like my rules, my moves, and my choices you can quit. DGI is mine and if you want to read.” She opened her purse and handed the priest the envelope. “ Everyone, that’s his last will and testament. Read it sir sorry my tongue in the house of the lord. I’ll try to refrain from spitting all this acid over all of you.” Tess began to laugh as the color drained off of the priest’s face. “You were so worried Chauncey about not getting the CEO spot well per my performance review of you well you’re fired. I can’t trust the man who plotted with that LeClerq whore to oust my husband. Max if you ever talk to my daughter in the manner that you did I’ll eviscerate you little girl. You aren’t so scary in fact, be in my office tomorrow I have plans for you. Now that’s scary. Just so you all know I already have people clearing out Lowell’s things Jackie. I hope you don’t mind I’ll send what I don’t want to you Jackie. Since you are the wife he didn’t want..” She whispered snidely but loud enough for everyone to hear. “Oh Jackie, I was just kidding. You kids can stay for now.”

Jackie was simply in shock as Tess came out on stage at the damned church to try and stage a coup in the middle of Lowell’s memorial service. It shouldn’t have been shocking to her Tess always had a flair for the dramatics and she looked over at her children sitting in the pew fresh tears on their faces from all the speeches how dare this woman. Before she had time to even say anything her hand rose and hit Tess hard against the side of her face the gasps coming out from the crowd. “You’re a slithering wasted viper that even in death can’t give him a fucking moment of peace want to know why he never left me for you? Because you behave worse than a toddler and always have been embarrassing for you and your girls.” Jackie spat back seeing Chauncey getting up to hold her back.

Chauncey simply sneered at Tess while she spoke on what authority did she have to fire him some made up trash will? His father was on record at the office with all his kids having meetings for all their positions and as much as he disliked his brother from time to time that was true for Jackson. He’d done his own digging and a private meeting went down with his brother and Dani, soon after his brother’s secretary had arranged a meeting with his father and Simon. “Step back Tess or it won’t just be one of us that ends you. He was going to make you CEO give me a break with the theatrics you and I both know he was giving it to Jackson.” Chauncey said daring the other woman to try him at this point.

Rory stood up from the pew just in case Chancey needed backup as he looked at Tess. He still couldn’t believe he slept with her even drunk one night. It was the biggest mistake of his life. “Yeah my dad was going to instill the company he worked all his life for to his mistress who bedded him and then his son. What have you been taking lately Tess? Coke? Shrooms? Maybe you’re the one with a real drug problem here.” Rory finished looking at her.

Elliot looked over at Selina in his seat at the pew watching all the damned drama unfold. It was like a back and forth ping pong of two entitled white bitches fighting over a man that he wasn’t sure was worth it. “White people problems huh? Honestly just let her fire you and then let these two duke it out.”

Mason looked over at Zach while he pulled out his phone and started typing up the injunction the moment that Tess started talking. She wanted a fight, she’d get one. He had talked to Jackson and Simon about it all week. Did she really think that any of them would take her nonsense lying down? Reaching out he touched Jackson’s shoulder from behind. “Filing the injunction as she shrieks and hollers.”

“Let Mason and the rest of the legal team handle this in court and don’t give her the satisfaction of a response. She wants you to lose it and she knows going after me riles you up don’t let it.”  Dani said holding Jackson’s hand in her own Tess would pay for that little comment. Her brain was already working on how to get rid of Dru and fix shit in her marriage. Especially now that Zach was looking into her phone issues she certainly wasn’t giving up so early. “She’s nothing to you, and when the dust settles she’ll be left with nothing.”

Jackson cooly laughed. “My father would be turning over in his grave for you to be the CEO of DGI. You aren’t this stupid Tess. To literally go up against an ironclad will? I mean God you’re embarrassing yourself and your daughters. Who shouldn’t be because you aren’t their embarrassment you’re your own sad mess Tess.” Gripping Dani hand back as he felt his stomach dropping. “Sit down before you look even more of a clown.”

Zach’s face lit up as he saw Mason immediately going to work. He loved when his man just started to go into work mode it turned him on. Guess who was getting some tonight. He wondered if they should order out or not. “I guess I’m not impressed once you see one Devonshire coup others fail in comparison.”

Selina turned to Elliot. “This is bad she’s basically contesting Lowell’s last wishes and yes it’s some crazy ass white people shit. That could affect our economy and so much more.” She eyed Jackie’s shocked face.

“Mom please stop it.” Belle said, calling out by Rory and Aspen. “This will do no good in this situation. Please stop it and please whatever you are claiming we can stop this.”

Tess held her face as she looked at Belle. “Stop what Lowell wanted I would never.” She said looking at Mason on the phone. “Try all you want. All of you but you will see I don’t make vague promises. Soon you all will see and until then act accordingly when the will goes into play I’ll have it all. Including what you thought I wouldn’t Jackie he gave me everything.” She laughed triumphantly as she slowly walked down the stairs. “Goodbye my love.” Blowing a kiss at the coffin. Turning to the stage. “One more thing, that’s the last time you’ll hit me and get away with it Jackie. It’s not my fault he truly loved me the most.” Then she looked at Chauncey. “I’ll see you at 8am Monday your performance evaluation is up first.” Raising one eyebrow she turned and stormed down the pews and out of the church.

Pierre had been happy to sit back and let everyone crone on and on about how great Lowell was what a crock of shit. So he had sat there listening to Walter go on more like a campaign speech and then the rest of them, honestly Max and Bliss’s being the most absurd. Then again they had all been self serving most of their lives and like the res of the spectators he turned when Tess rose and sauntered up on stage. His lips sneered in a sick and twisted smile as it all played out exactly like they had planned and had to nod at her when she passed becoming the true queen that she was always meant to be. Lowell had hidden this one under years of oppression and sadness, desperation and longing. She was who she needed to be to take DGI and dismantle is slowly from all those brats and watching them all shocked at her announcement brought him a sense of glee he hadn’t felt in years. The glee that he would have his revenge and he simply clapped at her on her way out shocking the entire crowd as he did so not caring at all.

Forbes stood and did the same thing as he watched Tess leaving the funeral. He couldn’t believe she had stolen DGI. Somehow it didn’t taste sweet to him because he wasn’t behind it. He however saw Pierre smile and he knew he’d been iced out. He walked out of the funeral. “Please forgive me but after that understand this Devonshire’s I will get my hands on DGI and I will effectively burn it down. Pray for each other and hold each other tight because the real battle begins right now. Oh Pierre I never expected you to be behind this.”