Jake Martin hadn't even been in the little tiki hut bar slash eatery for a full minute when his eyes zeroed in on a too-familiar face. One he saw in his nightmares. He blinked a good four or five times but yes, it was definitely him. He’d know those beady eyes anywhere. Tonight he’d been hoping for a reprieve from the memories that had driven him all these miles, but the memories were now bombarding him from all around. For a moment his legs refused to move and inertia dogged him.
Finally though, he found his strength and stalked over to the other man. Though in Jake’s mind he was not a man at all. He was a coward, a little petulant child who hadn’t gotten his way so he’d grabbed his daddy’s gun and started shooting.
The man saw him coming and started to turn and hurry away but Jake wasn’t that liquored up yet so he caught up easily enough. “You bastard,” Jake said, tugging JR to a stop. “You fucking bastard! I never thought I’d see you again unless it was in hell.”
JR looked at him, obviously fighting to maintain his composure. “Look, man, I don’t know who you think I am but I’ve never seen you in my whole life.”
“Bullshit, Junior. You know exactly who I am. How long have you been hiding out here laughing about how we were all none the wiser?”
“Man, you really need to let go of me.”
“Or what - you’ll shoot me?” Jake challenged him, nails digging into the taut flesh of JR’s arm. “Been there done that, you pathetic piece of garbage. I can’t wait for them to lock you up and throw away the damn key.”
JR looked around anxiously. Suddenly a very beautiful blonde with wide, coffee-brown eyes walked over to them. “Jacob?” She asked, looking at JR. “What’s going on?”
“It’s nothing, babe,” JR answered. “I just gotta talk to this man and I’ll be right back to our table.”
Jake smirked humorlessly. So JR had gone and changed his name had he? Tried to slip under the radar? Well Jake wasn’t about to let him go.
The blonde looked uncertainly at “Jacob” and then nodded, turning away. As soon as she was out of earshot, JR whirled on Jake. “Just go back to the PV sticks, Jake, and forget you ever saw me!” JR snapped, his voice low but venomous.
“So you do recognize me, ‘Jacob’. Boy have you got that woman snowed into thinking you’re not a total psychopath.”
“Jake, she’s my wife.”
“Oh really? Isn’t that nice?”
“We have two daughters – twin girls, actually. They don’t know anything about my past and that’s the way I want to keep it. I know what I did but that was in the past. Things are different now.”
“Damn right they are, JR. My wife is dead; my son barely speaks to me now… Marriages were ruined; lives were stolen away that night. And you are going to pay for that, you sick fuck.” Jake then dug his cell phone out of his pocket. “I’m calling the cops, JR. They will be all over your ass like a cheap suit in mere minutes. Your little fantasy life is over. I am glad I could be the one to end it too since you stole Amanda from me.”
Tears were on Cara’s cheeks as she sat watching the monitors. The rhythmic beeping of the machines was the only noise to be heard in the otherwise too-quiet room. Noelle didn’t have much time left. Cara knew that very well and she was terrified. She could only hope that He got here soon. She never should have lied; she never should have pretended she could love David the way she had Noelle’s true father. She had fucked them all up because of her lies. Her daughter might die and it was all her fault.
She squeezed the little girl’s cold, clammy hand and turned the small fingers over gently so she could kiss Noelle’s palm. “You’re going to be okay, Elle, you have to be. You know I couldn’t go on without you. Somehow I will make this right. Somehow I have to.”
She leaned over and kissed Noelle’s smooth, olive-skinned cheek, wetting Noelle’s face with her own tears. Cara sighed as she stood. “I’ll be right back okay, mi hijita.” She then started for the door but it was already being thrown open, slamming back forcefully on its hinges.
David’s eyes were full of fire and he was clutching a chart in his hand. “You know,” Cara said quietly as another shameful tear slid down her cheek.
“Yes I know, Cara!” David bellowed. “DNA doesn’t lie.”
“Don’t say you’re sorry. Don’t fucking say you’re sorry!” David spat. He looked past Cara at the little lonesome figure in the bed. She looked just like a fragile glass doll. “You let me bond with her; you let me believe she was mine to love.”
“How long were you planning on keeping this secret from me - five years? Ten years? Forever?” Cara nodded solemnly. David shook his head. “And they call me despicable.”
“David, I made a mistake – a big mistake.”
“Damn right you did and now Noelle is going to pay for it,” David said. “You knew all along my bone marrow wasn’t a match for hers and you led me on a wild-goose chase anyway. You are no kind of mother. You make the Vanessa Bennetts of the world look like Mothers of the Year.”
Cara nodded. “I deserved that.”
“Yeah, you did. And you can be damn sure if Noelle survives this, I am going for full custody.”
“Sorry, David, you can’t do that,” a familiar husky voice spoke from the doorway.
Cara and David looked around to see him standing there. His temples were graying and the lines on his face were softer and more evident, but he was still as handsome as ever.
“What the hell are you doing here?” David asked. “Get out. This doesn’t concern you.”
“Oh I am afraid it does,” Tad Martin said. “You see, Hayward, I’m Noelle’s real father.”
She found him sitting in front of the picture window, looking out over the grounds of Wildwind as he often did. His crystalline eyes had that familiar vacant look in them, as if he were not actually seeing anything before him. He was so miserable; he had been that way for the past five years, only seeming to have a brief reprieve from the melancholy when she returned to him, revealing that she was David’s last Orpheus patient. Sometimes though, she wondered in her darker, lonelier moments, if he wished Babe was the one who had returned for him instead of her.
Julia Santos sighed and set the groceries down on the end table before moving over to him. “Jamie,” she greeted him. “I’m home.”
Jamie didn’t answer at first but she knew he had heard her. Finally she reached out and touched his shoulder. He wheeled around in his chair and looked at her, ever-present sorrow in his eyes. She longed to cheer him up, give him a reason to keep going on. She hoped somehow that her news would be greeted with not anger, but acceptance at least.
“Hey,” he said. “How was grocery shopping?”
“Eventful. Someone tried to steal my shopping cart,” Julia quipped lamely. Sometimes she just didn’t know what to say.
Jamie didn’t even quirk a half smile. He just murmured “that’s good” and started to steer the wheelchair back towards the window.
“I can make us lasagna,” Julia said. “It’s your favorite, after all.”
“It’s alright. I had an apple earlier.”
“Jamie, an apple is not enough. You need –“
“I don’t need a lecture, Julia,” Jamie said. “That’s what I don’t need.”
“I worry about you, Jamie. You’re not happy … It’s like you gave up.”
Anger was in Jamie’s eyes and he spat, “Wouldn’t you feel the same way if you were confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your days because the guy who was supposed to be a brother to you got trigger happy?”
Julia splayed her hands. “You’re alive, Jamie. Others weren’t so lucky that day.”
“You call this living Julia? I can’t do anything without help. I can’t even make love to you like a real man is supposed to.”
“It’s true. Maybe you’re better off without me.”
“You can’t be serious, Jamie.”
“I think I am.”
Julia’s eyes filled with tears. “Well I need you, Jamie, just like you need me, believe it or not. Especially now.”
Jamie looked at her. “What do you mean?”
“I wasn’t just at the grocery store today, Jamie. I went to see Dr. Clader first.”
“Wait – the OB Dr. Clader?”
“Because, Jamie, I’m… I’m pregnant.”
Jamie’s mouth unhinged a bit in shock and then he seemed to regroup. His eyes took on a hard, steely look. “What the hell?”
“Julia, who is the baby’s father?” Jamie demanded. “You know I haven’t been able to make love to you that way in years so who – who did you screw?”
He hadn’t even gotten the chance to knock once before the door was being ripped open, almost off of its hinges it seemed, and his mother was yanking him into her slim arms. “You’re home. Baby, you’re home!” She cried happily.
He hugged her back and grinned. “You’re happy to see me, huh?”
“Heck yes,” Angie Hubbard enthused. “We haven’t seen hide nor hair of you for over seven months. And you barely wrote or phoned –“ She saw the look on his face and smiled. “Alright, no guilt trips will be given here. The point is that you’re here now.”
“Where’s Dad?” Frankie asked as they disentangled from their affectionate embrace.
“He’s firing up the grill for dinner. You and your wife drove all the way from New York City; you must be starved.”
“Wait, where’s Randi?”
“That’s what I want to talk to you and Dad about. Can we get him in here? I only want to say this once.”
Angie nodded. “Alright, Frankie, sure, let me go get him.”
She started towards the patio but Jesse was suddenly appearing, sliding back the glass door. “Son!” He said with a wide grin.
“Hey, Dad,” Frankie greeted him in return. Jesse set down the barbecue tongs in his left hand and met his son halfway. They embraced briefly but tightly and when they pulled apart, Jesse patted his son’s shoulder. “It’s so good to see you, Frankie.”
“Likewise, Dad,” Frankie said. “It’s good to see you both.”
“You said on your postcard that you were bringing the love of your life along on this trip but I don’t see Randi.”
“Actually, Dad, Mom, there’s no easy way to say this but Randi and I are getting a divorce.”
Angie gasped softly and Jesse arched a questioning eyebrow. “Randi and you are ending things?”
“Why?” Jesse asked. “I thought you two were in it for the long haul, like your Ma and me.”
“That’s just it, Dad, I grew up seeing the amazing relationship you two had. Randi’s and mine definitely didn’t compare. I don’t want to settle anymore.”
“Frankie, you love her,” Angie said.
“I loved her, yes, but I’m not in love with her. And we both want very different things. I want a family and a home, and she wants a career and well, that’s about it.”
“She was going to have your baby before JR Chandler opened fire on that engagement party five years ago,” Jesse said crossly.
“But I think she was glad we didn’t have the baby ultimately. I found out a few months ago she’s been taking birth control ever since so that’s why we’ve never gotten pregnant.”
“It’s alright, Mom. Honestly we just weren’t meant to be. I found someone else. The real love of my life, the one I can see myself being with for ‘the long haul.”
“And who might that be?” Jesse asked.
Angie and Jesse turned to see the door open and none other than Madison North walked into the living room.
“Mmm, baby, mmm,” Ryan Lavery murmured as he awoke to the feeling of his fiancée’s careful fingers trailing along the sensitive underside of his shaft. They had made love all night long, celebrating their engagement, an engagement that they were sure would last this time. Ryan had proposed while they had a private dinner at The Valley Inn and then they’d come back to his place and made up for lost time in a big way. They had spent too many years apart, wasted too much time being stubborn.
“You like that, hmmm?” Kendall Hart asked as she leaned over and kissed his taut, bare chest. She then moved lower on the bed and began to kiss and lick his already hardening member.
“I like that too,” Ryan agreed as his hands tangled in her thick curls. He held the strands of her gorgeous hair tightly as she began to suck on his dick. His back came off the mattress as she took his full length into her mouth. His whole body reacted and in no time, he was exploding into her mouth. She swallowed the thick cream before popping up between his thighs.
“What else can we do for fun before we have to pick up the kids?” Ryan asked with a teasing glint in his eyes.
“I have ideas,” she said as she climbed atop him and positioned herself above him. They began to kiss, their tongues dueling as her long fingernails dug almost painfully into the flesh of his biceps. He shifted her a bit and grasped his dick, running it up along her slit. She panted and he was about to thrust into her when the doorbell suddenly rang.
“What the –“ Kendall asked. She looked at the clock on the bedside table. “It’s not even eight a.m.”
“We’ll just ignore them,” Ryan said as he traced her nipples with his digits. “If it’s really important, they’ll come back.”
They started to kiss and fondle each other anew but it was impossible to get back into the mood now considering that the doorbell was still ringing- ringing like someone was laying their whole body weight on the button. It was also intermittently accompanied by the sounds of loud knocking.
“I’d better go see what’s up,” Ryan said.
“I know what’s up,” she teased as she rolled off of him and patted his dick gently. “But we’ll have to deal with that issue after our early morning caller vamooses.”
Ryan smirked at her and kicked back the covers. He gave her a quick kiss and then grabbed for his robe. He wrapped it around himself and cinched the belt tightly. No need to give their morning distracter a peep show.
Ryan padded barefoot down the hall and called out, “I’m coming, I’m coming! Stop the ringing please.”
They must have heard him because the doorbell ceased to peel and the knocking subsided too. Ryan sighed as he reached the door and pulled it open. A girl who couldn’t be more than eighteen or nineteen stood on the porch in a Catholic school girl’s uniform. She had long, chestnut-brown hair and eyes that seemed all too familiar somehow. They were a soft brown.
“Can I help you?” he asked, more than a little curious as to who she was and why she was here.
“I hope so. Are you Ryan Lavery?” She bit her lip.
“Depends on what you’re selling.”
“I’m not selling anything. I swear!” She swallowed hard.
“What can I do for you, uh –“
“Okay, Celia. What’s going on?”
“Ryan – I mean, Mr. Lavery, I think – well, I’m just going to blurt this out. I think I’m your daughter.”
Ryan’s mouth unhinged in shock. Of all the things he had expected this girl to say, that certainly wasn’t it. “Wow. What kind of scam are you running?”
The girl looked hurt, very hurt and Ryan almost felt bad. Almost. “Seriously, why are you here? Why are you doing this?”
“I want to know my father!” She cried. “I want a family.”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Okay, so if I’m your father, just who is your mother pray tell?”
The girl looked him straight in the eye this time. “Gillian Andrassy.”
Ryan stumbled back involuntarily. He had to catch himself on the mantle. He couldn’t believe the nerve of this person! “She’s – that’s impossible!” he spat. “Gillian is dead. We never had kids together. We never got the chance.”
Her eyes spilled over with tears. “You’ve got to believe me. I’m your daughter and as for Gillian, no. No, she’s not dead. I promise you that!”
She couldn’t sit still anymore. She had been awake since three a.m. this morning plotting and planning how she was going to go about this and while she still didn't know if she would say all the right things, she knew she had to try. She wanted Bianca back in her life for good; she wanted their family back, more than anything in the whole world. She had messed up big-time before but never again would she take the love of the wonderful woman beside her for granted.
Reese Williams reached her tiny hand into the drawer of the little dresser beside her and riffled around in it until she closed her fist on what she sought. She looked at Bianca who was laying back on her pillow, snoring softly, her eyebrows creased as if in deep concentration. She smiled at Bianca, reaching out and tracing the contour of her cheek before pushing back the covers from her legs. She hopped out of bed and walked around to Bianca’s side of the mattress. She got down on one knee and then she gently called Bianca’s name.
“Bianca, Bianca, wake up, honey,” she said. Bianca slowly peeled her eyes open.
“Where’s the fire?” She asked and then she rolled over to look at Reese. Her chocolate-brown eyes widened in surprise when she saw what Reese was holding in the palm of her right hand. A beautiful pink diamond gleamed up at her.
“Is that-“ Bianca couldn’t finish the sentence.'
Reese nodded. “Yeah, this is an engagement ring. My mother told me once that if I ever met the person of my dreams, someone who was way too good for me in every way, I should marry them. Of course she was talking about a guy -“ Reese broke off. “I’m mangling this. I’m trying to say that you are the woman of my dreams, someone who is so sweet and innocent and beautiful in every way. I messed up so badly before when I betrayed you and when I tried to take the kids from you. You had every reason to hate me; to never speak to me again but two years ago today we met in a curio shop in London by accident – or fate – and I knew looking into your eyes then and there that there was no one else for me; that there never will be. It took time for you to let me back in but you did and we’re happy now – at least as far as I know – but I want more. I want always and forever with you. I want to be your wife again and I desperately want you to be mine. Bianca, I am asking you to take a big leap of faith, I know, but I swear I won’t hurt you again. Just tell me that you’ll marry me and make me the happiest person who ever lived.”
A tear trickled down Bianca’s alabaster cheek. Reese offered her an encouraging smile. “I love you with all of my heart and soul.”
“I love you too, Reese…”
“But? I feel a ‘but’ coming here.” Reese felt her throat tightening. “You still don’t trust me, do you?”
“It’s not that,” Bianca said. “I have seen for myself how you’ve changed; how you’ve become the woman I always knew you were, and I believe you wouldn’t hurt me like that again but –“
“You said you loved me too, Bianca, so…” She shook her head. “You’re not ready, I can understand that and even accept it right now, but there’s more, isn’t there? Something’s going on with you, I can tell. Just talk to me, alright?” Reese reached out and zipped away the tears on her face before turning to look at Bianca again.
Bianca nodded. “I know she’s dead. In my head I know that she’s dead but in my heart –“
“You don’t want it to be true.”
“No. And suddenly, I don’t feel that it’s true either. The last few days I’ve had the strongest feeling that I’m being watched and yet I’m not scared. I think it’s Marissa. I think she’s out there now and she needs me to come to her and save her from whatever has kept her away this long.”
“JR Chandler …”
“I know; I know! JR ruined so many lives that night but Marissa – I really believe that she’s alive somehow and she needs me to rescue her. I haven’t wanted to say anything but I feel it so strongly. Accepting your proposal right now would be wrong for everyone involved. I love you, Reese, but I also love Marissa. I am sorry to hurt you like this but I can’t give up on her just yet.”
Reese nodded as another tear slipped down her cheek. “Alright,” she murmured and she set the ring box down on the dresser. “If Marissa is alive, I swear that I am going to help you find her but once I do… Well, let the best woman win…”
THE END … or is it? Hehe Thanks for reading!