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|All Or Nothing
Episode 129: Back at One, 121
March 12, 2010
| Ignoring the question, “You said that you had something important you wanted to discuss. Is everything okay?”
“Couldn’t be better,” she assured him. “But you're right, there is something that I want to discuss with you and it has nothing to
do with your lack of a job, so don’t worry about that.”
“Thank you,” he whispered. “What’s going on Brittany?”
“I want you know to know, upfront, that I’ve had this same talk with Ryan and with Ethan last night. So they both know that what I’
m about to tell you and before you say no, I want you to hear me out.”
“Are you sick?” he questioned in a blunt and matter-of-fact tone. “Brittany?”
“No, I’m not sick,” she assured him as she took his hands in hers. “But what I’m about to tell you Bradley, is medically related
and I’ve never needed you more than I do right now.”
“No,” Jodi shook her head. “That’s very kind of you Bradley, but completely unnecessary. This young lady was just about to find
an empty table for me to dine at.”
“Not to worry,” Bradley assured her. “I’ve had a standing reservation for weeks,” he smiled. “So you’re in luck.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind? It’s Valentine’s Day after all. Don’t you have a date that perhaps would be upset?”
“And I was about to sit down to dinner, alone, so no I don’t mind.”
Jodi linked arms, “Well then sir, lead the way,” she smiled.
“Your waiter will be right with you.”
“Thank you again Bradley,” Jodi told him. “I’ve been back in town less than twenty-four hours and my editor called this morning to
tell me that I was needed in New York…tomorrow!”
“Tomorrow? Well what are you doing here?”
She laughed, “My mother was insistent upon having dinner tonight with her and her fiancé. You can only see how well that
“Did you say her fiancé? Nicholas Pierce?”
| “It’s my understanding that the jury has reached a verdict,” the judge announced to the courtroom.
The woman on the end rose and spoke softly, “We have your Honor.”
As it had been outlined to her before returning to the jury box, she was to hand the piece of paper to the bailiff and then he
would in turn deliver it to the judge.
With the document in hand, the Honorable William Cleveland examined it with careful consideration.
Brandi wanted to turn around and tell Natasha how sorry she was, but she knew it was not the time. In fact, as the judge handed
the verdict back to the bailiff, Brandi knew there would never be a right time or place for that conversation.
“Will the defendant please rise,” Judge Cleveland ordered, as Brandi and Valerie both rose. “Madame Forewoman will you
please read your verdict to the court.”
The woman stood again, locked eyes with Natasha for a brief moment, and then turned to face Brandi.
Behind Meredith Dobbins sat the entire Bradshaw family, who hung on her every word. Natasha intertwined her fingers with Jodi’
s and her daughter laid her head on Natasha’s shoulder.
The forewoman spoke, “In the matter of the People of the State of Texas vs. Brandi Kaye Pierce, case Number 17943. We the
jury after hearing all of the evidence, find the defendant, on Count One vehicular manslaughter a felony upon Jered Andrew
February 15, 2010
“Good morning. I believe that Valerie Caldwell called last night and had my name added to the visitor list for Brandi Pierce.”
“What’s your name?” the guard asked.
Brittany Pierce stepped inside the coffeehouse and reached for the BlackBerry in her purse. Once she had successfully found it
she programed it to vibrate, determined that was going to disrupt her coffee date with Bradley.
“There she is,” he kissed her cheek. “How are you beautiful?”
She returned his kiss and took the seat across from him. As he went to the counter and ordered them a round of coffee her
mind raced…she could not believe that they had built such a lasting friendship. Through every difficult period in her life: her
divorce from Douglas, Ryan coming out and the madness that was Erica, he had been the one constant in her life.
“What’s that look for?” he handed her a large white mug. “You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.”
“Nothing,” she shrugged. “I was just thinking about us…”
“Oh honey that ship has long since sailed away,” Bradley reminded her with a laugh.
“Not in that way,” Brittany assured him. “I was just thinking how glad I am to have you in my life that’s all.”
“Well you know I think it’s a two-way street.” Bradley added some sugar to his coffee and questioned, “So how was you
Valentine’s Day? Did Ethan knock your socks off?”
“He always does,” Brittany smiled. “What about you? Please, please tell me that you didn’t spend the holiday alone in that big
“For starters, it’s not a holiday and no I didn’t spend it alone as a matter of fact.”
She took a sip of her coffee and eyed him, “If you tell me that you spent Valentine’s night with Valerie…I may throw this in your
face,” she joked.
“It wasn’t with Valerie,” he assured her. “And for the record, before you even ask, no I’m not seeing anyone either.”
Brittany tapped her finger against the white coffee mug and glared at him. “You’re not going to give up a name?” she questioned.
| “56th and Broadway please,” she announced. “Random House Towers.”
Jodi settled into the back of the taxi and placed her umbrella on the floorboard behind her feet. It was colder than she had
anticipated, but it didn’t bother her. In fact, if it hadn’t been snowing in New York City she would have been disappointed.
“You a writer?” the cab driver looked in the rear view mirror at a red light. “What type of stories?”
“Fiction,” she answered but clearly, he didn’t know what she meant. “I’m a creative writer of sorts,” she clarified. “I wrote a semi-
true to life story about…” Jodi paused and suddenly her mind raced through her story and landed on one particular scene.
She pulled two hundred dollar bills from her purse and laid them on the counter. Her eyes met with the old man’s and he
immediately revealed the information. “Her room’s around back. One-seventeen.”
“Thanks.” Jodi raced from the front office around the building to the room and began banging on the door. “Open this door
Valerie,” she shouted. “I know you’re in there. This game you’re playing…it’s over!”
“Jodi?” Jillian called out from inside. “Jodi, she’s not here.”
“Jillian? Jillian are you all right?”
“Yes…yes I’m fine. She hasn’t hurt me yet but I’m afraid she’s going to. Jodi somehow you’ve got to get in here and help me…”
Jillian’s voice faded and the driver replaced it, “Lady!” he shouted. “We’re here. 56th and Broadway.”
“Oh…I’m so sorry,” she told him, her face flushed. “Here you go and please keep the change.” Jodi stepped out of the cab and
onto the sidewalk.
The snow had begun to pick up during the drive over and as she began to make her way inside she couldn’t help but wonder
why Jillian had suddenly popped into her head.
Ryan O’Keefe could smell fresh coffee brewing even before he had decided to open his eyes. As he started up at the ceiling, he
tried calmly to remember not only where he was but also how he gotten where ever here was…and as he heard someone
making their way to him, he began to wonder not only where he was, but also what had happened after he had arrived.
“Good morning,” a familiar voice said from the doorway of the bedroom. Ryan’s head was pounding, his shoulders ached and
all he could think about was a cup of coffee.
“I thought you could use this,” the voice told him. “It’s fresh.”
“Yeah,”Ryan mumbled under his breath, “I could smell it brewing.” He took the cup, “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Josh Marshall took a seat on the edge of the bed. “How do you feel this morning?”
“Fuck!” he mumbled again before answering. “Hung over. But I think you already knew that didn’t you?”
“I had a pretty good idea.”
His mind raced with muddled clarity before speaking, “Josh…please tell me that we didn’t…”
“Have sex?” he questioned. “No such luck,” Josh answered. “It was like old times in here last night.”
| Ryan ran his fingers through his blond hair, “Fuck!” he said under his breath. “How drunk was I?”
“You were sober enough to…” Josh gestured towards the bed. “Not to mention sober enough kiss me in the parking lot of the
bar before we even got back here.”
“No,” Ryan shook his head, “I was drunk, but you kissed me in the parking lot. That much I remember.”
Josh laughed a little under his breath, “If you think that’s what happened then we’ll go with that story,” he suggested.
“I was drunk Joshua!”
“I know. I was the one who came and picked you up,” he replied, stunned that he had used his full name. It was something that
he hadn’t done in years, not since their breakup.
“Obviously you done a lot more than that,” he climbed out of bed, naked and in search of his clothes.
“All right now you’re starting to really scare me. So why don’t you just please tell me what’s going on.”
“That’s not my intent, to scare you,” Brittany told him. “Ryan said the same thing when I told him.”
“Told him what?”
“Last night Ethan and I came to an agreement,” she pressed her lips together before a huge smile wiped across her face, “we
want to have a baby.”
“A baby?” he questioned. “You had me worried out of my mind thinking something was wrong with you. A baby,” Bradley smiled,
“that’s wonderful. Are you considering adoption or surrogacy?”
She took a sip of her cooling coffee in an attempt to prolong her answer. “Well you see that’s just it. I’ve talked to Ethan and
Ryan both about this and well…the truth is I want to do everything I can medically to have my own baby.”
“Brittany…” he said as his face filled with trepidation.
| “Don’t Bradley…” she whispered softly, “don’t look at me that way,” she pleaded with him. “I want this more than you know. I
want to carry a baby…my own baby.”
He took care with his words, “I know that you do. I know how much Douglas and I hurt you that night, but sweetheart…this could
be very dangerous for you and a baby.”
“I know that,” she insisted. “I heard everything the doctors said that night and the day after. I’ve lived the last eight years knowing
that there is a better chance of me not having my own baby than there is of me having one. I want to be a mother Bradley,” she
told him. “I want to give Ethan what I could never give to Douglas.” She shook her head, “I don’t want another woman to give Ethan
his child like Erica did for Douglas, I couldn’t handle that…” her words trailed off.
“Ethan loves you Brittany,” he assured her. “Having a baby or not having a baby won’t change that.”
“I’m his wife,” she replied in a low and tormented voice. “I’m supposed to be able to give him a child and I can’t do that.” She
wiped away a few tears from her cheek. “Bradley you don’t know how worthless that makes me feel as a woman.”
“Don’t say that Brittany,” he locked his fingers with hers. “You are not now, nor will you ever be worthless. Do you hear me?”
“But that’s how I feel,” she snapped back. “Ethan…” a smile wiped across her face and the mere mention of his name, “he is a
good man. A man that worships the ground that I walk upon. Day in and day out, that man lavishes me with love that I thought I
would never find again. We could go our entire life without a child and it wouldn’t bother him, because he has me,” she choked on
her words. “That’s love Bradley in every sense of the word. You have no idea how I wish I could love him the same way he loves
me, but I can’t. He loves me enough to not ask me to do this…”
“But you love him enough to do this,” he finished.
She wiped her face clear of the stream of tears, “That’s exactly right,” she answered. “Bradley this isn’t something I can do by
myself and it’s not something that I have thought carefully about. I have given the consequences, good or bad, great
consideration and I want to do this. I need you to help me do this,” she pleaded. “I need my friend and I need your medical
expertise as well.”
He shook his head, “You know that I will do everything I can to help you through this. It’s not going to be easy though, I want you
to know that.”
“I know,” she answered. “I know that it’s going to be a strenuous and challenging road, but it’s one that I’ve waited eight years to
go down. So will you help me, please?”
“Was there ever a doubt?” he kissed her hand. “You know you could have saved all the dramatics…there’s nothing I wouldn’t do
for you Brittany.”
“I’m serious,” she told him. “I am going to need you know more than I have ever needed you in my life Bradley.”
“We’ll do this,” he assured her. “And when everything is all said and done, I promise you that you’ll have your baby.”
Brandi waited for the cell door to slide open and she entered the visitors lounge. At an empty table, Natasha sat with her hands
intertwined with each another, folded in front of her, waiting. Her stomach turned knots and she wondered silently to herself if she
was making the right move or the biggest mistake of her life.
Without warning, Brandi approached and spoke in a hesitant voice, “Natasha?”
“You have thirty minutes Pierce,” the guard instructed and then took her leave.
“Natasha…” she found herself without words. “What…what are you doing here?”
She swallowed hard, lifted her chin and boldly, yet with calm eyes met her gaze, “To prove to you once and for all that your life,
as you knew, is finally over!”
“What happened?” the ER attending questioned as the gurney carrying Jillian Malone-Marshall burst through the doors.
“Forty year old Caucasian female fell from twelve foot balcony. BP 98/60. Pulse is present but weak. Drifting in and out
conscience on the ride over!” the paramedic explained as Jodi trailed behind.
“All right let’s put her in Trauma Two,” the attending ordered. “O’Connor you’ll run it…GO!”
“Is she going to be all right?” Jodi stopped one of the nurses.
“The doctors need to work,” the nurse explained. “Have a seat and we’ll let you know as soon as we hear something. Are you
Jodi thought for a brief moment. She didn’t know when Bradley would arrive. They had agreed he needed to deal with Valerie.
“She’s my mother,” Jodi lied, hoping it wouldn’t come back to haunt her.
“Mrs. Bradshaw why don’t you have a seat Timothy is running a little behind schedule today,” the secretary told her. “He shouldn’
t be more than five minutes.”
“Thank you,” she replied.
Taking a seat, she sat her briefcase containing the completed manuscript beside her chair. As the seconds ticked away on her
watch, Jodi couldn’t help but allow her mind to wander…
“Excuse me,” the nurse touched her shoulder. “Dr. O’Connor was able to stabilize your mother.”
“He was?” Jodi stood from the light pink chair. “Would it be possible for me to see her?”
“Of course,” the nurse smiled at her. “Everything’s going to be okay now. Don’t worry your mother is going to be as good as new.”
Jodi drew in a deep breath and scanned the hallway for Bradley. As she entered the dimly lit room, her mind couldn’t help but
flood with memories of Jered and she took a step back. Overwhelmed she slowly began backing away and ran into Bradley.
“How is she?” he asked as Jodi took a deep breath.
“Um, the nurse said that Dr. O’Connor was able to stabilize her,” she answered. “I’m sorry that’s all I know though.”
“How did you get back here to see her?”
“I told them that I was Amy and that she was my mother,” Jodi explained. “What happened at The Mansion? Did the police
arrest Valerie?” she questioned just as she spotted her at the end of the hallway. “What the hell is she doing here?” Jodi locked
eyes with Bradley. “Why didn’t the police arrest her Bradley? She has a laundry list of crimes starting with Jillian’s assault and
ending with attempted murder.”
“We need to talk,” he told her.
“About what Bradley? You’re not seriously going to ask me to forget what happened out there are you? You know that when
Jillian wakes up she is going to be hellbent on making Valerie pay for what she’s done.”
Bradley rubbed his scruffy face and sighed heavily. “I know this is not what you think should happen but Jodi this is what’s best
for my children…Amy included. I know that I’m asking a lot, but please would you at least consider it?”
She stood in silence for well over a minute, “I cannot believe that you’re protecting Valerie,” Jodi told him. “After everything,
everything,” she raised her voice, “that woman has put you and Josh and Jason through…we thought she was dead Bradley! How
can you stand there and ask me to do this, knowing full well that you’re mind is made up.”
“I know that if I tell the police what happened then Valerie will go to prison for what she’s done. She has put me and the boys
through quite a bit Jodi, but I don’t think having her shipped off to prison is going to make any of it better.”
“How is Amy going to react knowing that you let her mother’s attacker walk away?” she paused. “And God forbid Bradley that
she dies. Then what? Valerie gets away with murder?”
The two of them stood in the seemingly empty corridor. Seconds passed. Minutes passed and finally Jodi broke the silence. “Do
whatever you think is best,” she conceded to him.
“You won’t say anything to the police? You’ll backup my story that this was an accident?”
Jodi rolled her eyes and shook her head in disgust, “Go…tell Valerie that she’s gotten a get out of jail free card, yet again,” she
sighed. “But you also tell her Bradley, that I’m watching her and if she so much steps out of line I will do everything in my power to
make sure she pays for it.”
“Will you set with Jillian while I tell Valerie and call Amy?” he asked her.
“Of course, but don’t be long Bradley.”
Jodi pushed open the door and this time didn’t show reluctance as she went to Jillian’s bedside and flicked on the light above
“Jillian…” her voice lingered, “it’s me Jodi. Can you hear me?”
“Jodi…” she coughed. “What happened?”
“You don’t remember?” she questioned and Jillian shook her head. “You were kidnapped from the Oakwood. You were right
“She did this…to me?” she questioned with a dry throat.
Jodi responded quickly with a cup of water and straw before answering, “We went to The Mansion and you confronted Valerie.
There was an argument between the two of you…and you fell Jillian, over the staircase banister.”
“That explains a lot…”
“Are you in pain?” Jodi asked. “I can call a nurse.”
Her eyes closed for a brief second and it happened, Jillian’s life flashed before her very eyes like a movie. Everything was
there…Amy…her marriage to Bradley and what a happy time it had been…and the secret she had been carrying for the last
“Don’t you give up Jillian!” Jodi ordered her. “You listen to me, Valerie cannot win. She wants your husband, she wants your
“She knows the truth,” she declared in a weak whisper.
“The truth?” the words sent Jodi’s pulse racing with fear. “Don’t you do this…Jillian!” she raised her voice. “Listen to me, this will
not be some deathbed confession. You have to fight, if for nothing else at least fight for your daughter.”
“You!” her eyes boldly locked with Jodi’s. “You…”
“What? What about me?” Jodi questioned as she ran to the door and screamed out, “I need some help me in here! Bradley!”
At her bedside Jodi interlocked her hand with Jillian’s. “Don’t stop fighting,” she willed her. “Jillian do not give up on me,” tears
ran down her cheek.
| “Charlotte…” she told he, “Charlotte Dunphy…” she whispered as Dr. O’Connor returned to her room. “Knows…”
“Do something!” Jodi demanded as Jillian slowly began to fade and her blood pressure dropped. “Jillian…Jillian!” she screamed
as Bradley entered the room.
“Jodi what’s happening?”
“I don’t know,” she cried. “Jillian, sweetie, Bradley’s here.”
“I love you…” was the last words she spoke as her blood pressure collapsed and the monitors began beeping...
“Ms. Bradshaw,” the secretary interrupted her thoughts, “Timothy will see you now.”
Jodi made her way into the editor’s office and took a seat in front of his desk. “Are you moving to a new office?” she noted the
boxes beside the desk.
Timothy Stewart was in his late 30s, red-hair and a native of New Jersey. He had met Jodi on the eve of her divorce from
Jaxson three years earlier. “There’s been something that I’ve been putting off telling you Jodi,” he announced.
“Tell me what?” she questioned. “Are you leaving Doubleday?”
Timothy took a moment and then answered, “I am. I received an offer from a competing publishing house and I asked to be
released from my contract…”
| “And they released you,” she finished for him. “Where does this leave us and the book? You know that I’ve finished it. Will I be
coming with you?”
He took a seat on the edge of his desk, “Jodi you’re still under contract with Doubleday so no you won’t be coming with me, I'm
She took a moment to let it settle, “All right then. What’s next?”
“The division promoted a junior editor to my position and she’ll be working with you moving forward,” he reached over and
called to the front desk. “Can you please tell her that I’m ready?”
“It’s a woman?” Jodi asked. “Timothy what are you doing to me? I don’t want to work with anyone else, especially not another
woman. You know that when I signed on here it was because of you. We have a very strong working relationship” she sighed
heavily as the door opened behind her.
“Perfect,” he greeted his guest. “Jodi Bradshaw please meet your new editor, Amy Malone.”
| Josh couldn’t help but sneak a peek or two as Ryan made his way from the bedroom to the living room and back again. “What
happened, did you jump my bones the minute we hit the door?”
He cut his eyes up at him, “Sure…we can go with that if you want,” he laughed. “So you want to tell me who Sam is?”
“Fuck!” he swore for the third time.
“Yeah you’re going to need to say a little more than that,” Josh teased him. “So who’s Sam?”
“He’s a guy I met when I was in Vegas for Megan’s wedding,” he answered him. “He was supposed to fly in for Valentine’s Day
but apparently he didn’t. And I spent it with you…of all people.”
“I didn’t mean it like that…” he tried to defend.
| “Don’t worry about it. I know what you meant and I know what happened between us last night, we had sex. You were drunk. I
was sober. It was Valentine’s Day and truth be known, we were both a little lonely.”
“It happened and I don’t want either one of us to think it was something more than it was, because it wasn’t. Okay?” he tossed
Ryan his undershirt. “And for the record, it doesn’t matter who Sam is and I honestly don’t care what you do with him. Last night
meant nothing to either of us, it was just sex.”
Holding the shirt in his hands, Ryan questioned, “That’s a little harsh.”
Josh turned to face a half-clothed Ryan, “What? No that’s not a little harsh, because as I said, it was just sex. I’m not going
back down that road with you again, it’s why I left River’s Edge in the first place.”
“Well truth be told, I don’t much think I want to revisit that particular road either Joshua,” he retorted back at him. “Can we just go
and get my car now please?” he left the bedroom, now fully clothed.
“Do you ever think we could have made it work Ryan?”Josh questioned from the bedroom as a tense silence encased the
“I asked you to come with me when I moved to Indianapolis,” he broke the silence. “I think we could’ve made it worked.”
“Oh seriously Joshua?” he came back into the bedroom. “Do you really want to revisit this after all this time has passed?”
“I do,” he announced. “I’ve been home for almost a year now and I’ve seen you half-a-dozen times and then this happens…so
“Let’s get something straight, this only happened here last night because I was drunk and Joey remembered we partied
together once a very long time ago.” Ryan went into the living room and sat down on the couch, Josh following behind him. “Plus,
I’m busy with my own career, if you recall. It’s one of the reasons that I didn’t go running off with you to Indianapolis.”
“Of bullshit!” Josh retorted in cold sarcasm. “Angela Bradshaw was prepared to offer you a contacts list a mile long in
Indianapolis. You didn’t go with me because Brittany threw a little pity party for herself and like always when it comes to your
sister you caved.”
“You had better watch yourself Josh,” he warned him. “Brittany is all I have now and then, she’s my only family.”
Josh shook his head and began searching for his keys. “Any conversation about this with you is useless because it’s the
same one we had four years ago. I say one little thing about Brittany and I’m getting warned like a child.”
“She’s my sister!”
“And?” he threw his hands in the air. “I don’t know what it is about her, poor Brittany this and poor Brittany that. My father is the
same way when it comes to her.”
“I’ll get a cab,” Ryan headed for the door.
“Four years ago…”Josh stopped him. “I asked you to come with me and you said no, because Brittany needed you. So stop
running away from me Ryan and take a look at your life and your precious sister’s life.”
“Joshua, I swear to God…”
“Four years later, Brittany’s gone ahead and lived her life. She married Ethan, she has the career she claims she always
wanted, she has fame and she has just about as much money as God himself.”
“What the hell is your point?” he ripped out the word impatiently.
“My point is where you four years later?” he asked him. “You put your happiness on hold for Brittany and my point has always
been the same, you. What about you and your happiness?”
“I don’t have to answer to you about the choices I made then. The fact is that I made them and I’m content with how things
“Content, really? Is that some sort of joke?” Josh began walking towards him. “Ryan you shouldn’t be just content with how
things turned out. Do you think you’re less deserving of all the things Brittany has?”
“I didn’t say that,” he told him. “And you have a clever way of rewriting history. As I recall you gave me an ultimatum: it was your
or my sister.”
“You’re damn right I did,” Josh stood firm. “I would do it again too if I had the chance. You shouldn’t have to live your life content
with how things turned out between us. Look around you Ryan…we’re back in the same exact fucking place that we were four
years ago having the same exact fight. What does that tell you?”
“That I shouldn’t get drunk in random bars anymore,” he replied as silence fell on the room for the second time. “I don’t know
what you want me to say or what I should say here Josh. I think the fact that we’re back, as you say, in this same place, having the
same fight should tell us a lot.”
“I don’t things have changed between us as much as we might have wanted them to.”
Ryan shook his head and declared, “I’m not doing this again, not with you. I can’t…” he said as Josh’s hand touched his
shoulder. Without warning, he spun around to him and their suddenly met with savage and unexplained force…
Brandi took an empty an empty seat at the table and questioned, “Do you mind telling me exactly what you’re talking about?”
“Jodi’s written a book, an autobiography of sorts,” Natasha explained. “In it she details your horrific and sickening role in not
only Jered’s death, but also the aftermath of it as well.”
“And that’s supposed to ruin my life?” she questioned. “Look around you Natasha, my life is already ruined.”
“Yes well you have no one to blame for that but yourself. When Jodi’s book is published the entire world will know what I’ve
known for the last six years…”
“And what’s that?”
“That you’re nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. My daughter’s book will detail and portray you for the soulless
monster that you’ve become.”
“It’s nice to see that you haven’t always considered me a monster,” Brandi acknowledged. “Natasha did you come here after all
this time has passed to simply berate and belittle me? I think you know that I know all of the things that you’re saying and quite
honestly, it’s a little humiliating.
“A little reminder certainly doesn’t hurt,” she told her, with an ease defiance. “The one person that I feel the most compassion
for is Lewis, because when he learns the truth about what type of person his mother is…well, may God have mercy on his soul.
He’ll need it for sure.”
“You malicious bitch,” Brandi burned with anger. “You leave my son out of whatever this is and tell me why you’re really here. I
haven’t seen you in six years! And I understand why, you hate me and I know that, everyone in Texas knows it. What I did was
wrong, unjustifiable, inexcusable...”
“Unforgivable,” she finished for her. “You’ve been preaching the same damn sermon since that night in the police station. You’
ve spent the better half of Lewis’ life trying to make yourself the victim here and you’re not the victim!” she yelled. “You’re not the
victim, my son was.”
“And I’m paying the price for…”
| “For nothing,” Natasha interrupted her vehemently, “don’t fool yourself into believing that what you’re doing here is some
sainted cause for humanity. My son paid the price for your actions and if it were up to me…” she paused.
“What? What would you do Natasha?”
“Oh you have no idea what I would do, what I could be capable of doing if only I had the opportunity,” she whispered. “I warned
you time and time again Brandi. My children have always been the one thing I would protect, no matter the cost. You knew that
and you knew it because I told you. While you may think you’re paying a price for Jered’s death, I’m here to assure you that you
haven’t even begun.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that I’ve come here to share with you, what I consider to be joyous and exciting news about my future.”
“What are you talking about? You made it perfectly clear that our relationship, was over.”
“And it still very much is. I thought you would like to know that I’m engaged to be married to someone you know quite well
actually,” she reached into her purse and pulled out a clipping from The Weekly Edge. “It’s ironic really…”
“You’re going…you’re going to marry Nicholas? I don’t believe it…”
“It’s happening.” Natasha showed her the diamond ring, “Sometime this spring actually and that announcement is for you to
keep. It’s such a grand picture of the three of us don’t you think?”
“The three of you…” Brandi gasped for air. “Oh Natasha, you’re not fooling me. I know you much to well for that. You’re doing
this to get my son? Are you really that hellbent on getting even with me that you would use an innocent boy to do it?”
Natasha shook her head, “Of course not. I’m not like you Brandi, I’m no monster. No, no…you’re confused because that’s you.
I adore Lewis, because Nicholas adores him. You see I don’t play games, I don’t hide the truth or runaway from it, you’re much
better suited for that.”
“Go to hell!”she told her. “Justin will never allow you to poison Lewis’ against me. I’m his mother, he loves me.”
“You are nothing more than a faceless memory to that child. The only mother he’s known since you’ve been locked up in this
thankfully God forsaken place is Audrey and I,” she smiled. “And please, stop acting so naïve and face the reality that you brought
upon yourself. You signed custody over to Nicholas and were prepared to flee the country without your son, so don’t act like you’re
an ideal role model.”
“I will get out of here one day and when I do…”
“And when you do what? Hhhmm…you’ll come running home to whom? Nicholas? Lewis? Sorry darling those soon enough
will belong to me.”
“Justin won’t allow you to take my place in Lewis’ life, he won’t!”
“I don’t need Justin’s permission to do what has already begun. And Brandi, do you honestly think Justin is sitting at home
pining away for you? Counting the days until his little jailbird is free?”
“He loves me…”
“Right, well as long as you keep the fantasy alive in your head, but you’re deceiving yourself. I could have had him if I wanted
| “What does that mean? You don’t love Nicholas. You’re only marrying him to get back at me. Natasha I know you…I know how
you think. It’s the same thing you done with the election. Andrew hurt you and you saw what he wanted most and you took it.”
“And I know you,” the fire and rage ignited again. “Out of all of the men who have paraded through your bed, Nicholas Pierce is
the only one you ever loved. The only one you ever cared about, because you don’t love Justin…you manipulated him into loving
you and then you used it,” she detailed. “Nicholas was always your endgame and it was him who gave you what you wanted the
most, a baby.”
“So you’re going to go through with a loveless marriage, just to get back at me and yet I’m the one who’s a wolf in sheep’s
“I won’t be back,” Natasha told her. “But I’ll send you pictures Brandi…” she gathered her purse. “You always knew this day
would come and well congratulations know your own personal hell, just got a lot hotter.”
“This isn’t over Natasha,” she warned her. “Nicholas will see right through you. He’ll realize that you don’t love him and that
what you’ve done was sham.”
Natasha turned back to Brandi, one final time. "You're quite frankly in no position to tell me that what I've planned isn't over,"
she sighed heavily. "You didn't even know it had begun," Natasha smiled. "You're through...I have extracted my ultimate revenge
and the only thing you'll do...is sit in your cold, dark, empty cell and rot like the piece of trash you are," she winked.
“Amy Malone?” Jodi’s voice rose with surprise. “I had no idea that you were in New York, let alone working an editor for
Doubleday. How are you?”
“I’m doing wonderful, thank you,” Amy smiled. “And I…I had no idea that Jodi Bradshaw Hayes had become an author,
“Thank you. But it’s just Bradshaw now,” she corrected her. “Jaxson and I divorced a few years ago.”
“Oh, of course,” she waved her hand in the air, “I’m sorry. Yes, Bradley told me. I suppose it just slipped my mind.”
“No worries,” Jodi smiled. “I just cannot believe that you’re here and going to be my new editor. Ten seconds ago I was pretty
pissed at this one over here,” she pointed at Timothy, “but clearly he’s looking out for me.”
“The two of you know one another?” Timothy asked.
“Yes, as a matter of fact we do. My mother and her parents went to high school together back in Texas,” Amy explained. “Are you
going to be in the city long?”
Jodi shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t know now. I wasn’t expecting to be, but plans change. I’m here for as long as you need
me to be,” she answered. “I don’t have anything pressing back home.”
| “Good! I was praying that you would say that. Timothy’s impending departure and my promotion has thrown this place into a
whirlwind. I’ve been scrambling to take over his workload and at the same time pass mine off…anyway so you can stay for a few
days? I haven’t gotten a chance to read your manuscript yet.”
“I don’t see why it would be a problem,” Jodi shrugged. “I mean things could be worse than spending a few extra days in New
“Perfect. I’m going to read your manuscript tonight and I can’t wait.”
“It’s going to blow you away Amy,” Timothy interjected. “Jodi’s point of view and her abilities to tell this muti-demonisial story is
what a newly appointed Senior Editor dreams about,” he smiled.
“I think we’re goig to make a good team,” Amy told them. “Would you like to meet for dinner tomorrow night Jodi? I’ll have ready
your manuscript by that point, we can talk about it over drinks.”
“That sounds like a plan. You’ll email me the information?”
“Of course,” Amy answered as Jodi began gathering her belongings. “Woulou mind if my fiancé joins us tomorrow night? If you’
re not comfortable with him being there I completely understand…”
“No,” Jodi told her. “I didn’t know you were engaged, just one more thing Bradley didn’t tell me. Yeah that’s fine. I look forward to
She turned to face Timothy, “I’m not as mad at you as I thought I would be,” she acknowledged. “But I don’t want you to be a
“You honestly think you can get rid of me that easily?” he laughed. “Come on I’ll walk you out.”
“Amy it was a pleasure seeing you again,” Jodi said before leaving. “I’m really, really looking forward to working with you.”
“Same here Jodi,” she replied. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Amy waited a few moments and after they were halfway down to the lobby, she pulled out her iPhone and dialed a familiar
number. “Smoke…it’s me,” she smiled.
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