All Or Nothing
Episode 142: Stronger
April 30, 2012
    Mandarin Oriental Hotel - New York City

    She threw her head back with a laugh and placed her hands on her hips, “You can’t make this right,” Audrey assured him.

    “You having an affair with Brandi – that was something that you could have made right. Being paid by my parents to stay
    married to me, lying about ownership of King Fashion, destroying the admiration and respect that I once had for my
    father…these are things that you cannot make right Nicholas.”

    “So what are you going to do with this information?”

    Audrey shook her head, “Nothing. For once I am going to be the better person Nicholas. I am not going make the fact that
    our marriage was a one-sided arrangement public knowledge. Our children do not deserve to know what a pathetic and
    small creature of a man their father is,” she assured him.

    “Our marriage and the love that I once had for you is tarnished. But I will not allow you or anyone else for that matter
    tarnish my children’s childhood,” Audrey told him.

    “And King Fashion?” he questioned.

    “King Fashion is a completely different story. I meant every word I said out there on the runway,” Audrey assured him. “I
    intend to reclaim what is rightfully mine.”

    “Then just know that you’ll have a fight on your hands,” he warned her.

    “I wouldn’t expect anything less from you Nicholas,” Audrey said as she pushed him out of the way.

    “And just so you are aware…if it ever gets out that you were a husband for hire and our children find out…” she turned
    and looked him square in the eye, “I will kill you,” she smiled at him.

    “And that my darling Nicholas…is an honest to God promise.”
    “Nope! No! No!” Josh stopped him. “Don’t apologize because there is nothing for you or anyone else to be sorry about.  I
    don’t want need your sympathy and I don’t want it,” he let them both know before her turned his attention to Valerie. “And
    don’t start crying,” he told her.

    “Well how I am supposed to feel about this?” she asked him. “You just told me that you have cancer and that scares me

    Josh shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know how you’re supposed to feel mom – hell I barely know I’m supposed to feel,
    but this isn’t about you or anyone else for that matter.”

    “He’s right Valerie,” Bradley said, “this is about our son. This is his fight and if he says that we’re not supposed to
    apologize to him or cry for him that damnit that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

    “Thanks dad,” Josh smiled at his father. “All three of the oncologists are in agreement with one another,” he further
    explained, “the cancer is stage three.”

    “That’s not good right?” Valerie looked at her son and then to her ex-husband who both shook their heads in agreement.
    “Okay then…where do you go from here? What’s come next?”

    “I have an appointment with Dr. Hathaway later this week to discuss treatment options,” Josh told them both. “I would
    really like for one of you to go with me if you could.”

    “We’ll both go,” Bradley told him as he swallowed the knot in his throat.

    Valerie shook her head, “Yes we will. We’ll both go with you and your dad won’t say that he’s sorry…and I’ll do my best
    not cry,” she reached for his hand across the table.

    “I appreciate that,” Josh smiled. “Because when it comes to pity parties and why me and the crying…” he sighed, “well I’
    ve done enough of that for all of us and for far too long.”

    “We understand, Valerie took Bradley’s hand and then Josh’s, “your father and I are right here for you son. And we
    promise to support you and love you and take care of you…”

    “And watch as you kick this son-of-a-bitch’s ass,” Bradley finished for her with a promising and encouraging smile.
    Josh Marshall hadn’t been to The Chalkboard in what seemed like to him forever. As he stepped inside the familiar
    restaurant he spotted his parents in the rear corner, both looking at their cell phones and clearly avoiding conversation
    with one another.

    As he made his way through the maze of tables and chair he felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket. The urge to see who
    the text message was from and then make up some lie about why he needed to leave crossed his mind as he gave each
    of his parents a hug, a kiss on the cheek for his mother and finally his drink order to a cute waiter with blonde curly hair
    who was no more than nineteen years old.

    “Well this is a first,” he joked with the Bradley and Valerie. “The two of you in the same room, at the same table, eating the
    same meal…” Josh smiled, “Jason’s not going to believe it.”

    “You said that you needed to see the both of us,” Valerie looked from Bradley to her son, “and I think your father will agree
    when it comes to our sons we will do whatever it is that you need from us. Isn’t that right Bradley?”

    “Absolutely,” Bradley shook his head. “So you want to tell us what’s going on? Your text message was very cryptic.”

    “Sweetie I’m inclined to agree with your father,” Valerie chimed in. “You know that you can tell us anything. Besides, there’
    s not much you can say that’s going to shock us anymore.”

    Josh smiled, “That’s true – because I’ve already told you that I’m gay,” he said between a few nervous laughs. He rested
    his chin on his interwoven fingers and looked at each one of them. “There’s no easy way of telling you guys this…”

    Bradley heard those words and his mind immediately went to the worst possible scenario…he opened his mouth to
    speak but nothing came out. The thought that his gay son could have…he briefly closed his eyes and pushed that
    thought out of his head.

    “Approximately six weeks ago I passed out at the hospital,” Josh continued, “during one of my marathon shifts. I had a
    physical a few days on orders from my boss and during that physical they found something.”
    “And as you well know mother I didn’t care then nor do I care now,” Audrey told her. “I will get King Fashion back from
    Nicholas one way or another. The codicil isn’t the main reason that I came here today. I came to find out why you and
    daddy paid Nicholas for thirty-two years to be husband?” she revealed.

    She immediately raised her eyes to Audrey’s and questioned in a faint whisper, “What did you just say to me?”

    “You heard me.”

    Audrey shook her head slowly, “I’m going to warn you right now that I am in no mood to play games any longer,” she
    assured her mother. “I have played games back and forth with Patricia and with Nicholas. I do not have the patience or
    the intentions of playing them with you mother.”

    “I want to know the answer to my question – why you and daddy paid Nicholas to be my husband for thirty-two years.”

    Eleanor slowly intertwined her fingers together and looked out at the ocean, “And you deserve to know everything,” she
    told her. “I can only assume your sister is involved in this somehow?”

    “If that matters to you…” Audrey stood up from the chair and walked across the room, “then yes Patricia is the one who
    told me everything. Of course it came at a humiliating cost, but that seems to be the ammunition that this family prefers –

    Eleanor drew in a deep breath and ran her tongue across her lips as she thought back, “I knew this day would come
    eventually…” she acknowledged, “I told your father that secrets like this, they never stayed buried forever.”

    “No you’re right they don’t mother. So tell me whose idea was it to pay Nicholas to marry me? Was it yours? Was it daddy’
    s?” Audrey questioned. “I want you to tell me the truth, the full and complete truth mother.”

    “I’ll tell you everything Audrey,” Eleanor assured her. “There’s no point in partial truth any longer. It was your father…in the
    beginning,” she revealed. “And after he died I could have put a stop to it but against my better judgment I did not.”

    “Why didn’t you?”

    “Because I couldn’t Audrey,” Eleanor raised her voice. “I tried. Nicholas threatened to tell you the truth and he threatened
    to go to the press. Your father had just died…you were in no state of mind to know what we had done and I wasn’t about
    to let Nicholas Pierce tarnish your father’s name.”

    “Instead you continued to pay him so he could do what mother, tarnish my children’s childhoods twenty years later?”
    Audrey paced the floor and thought for a moment. “I cannot believe that you of all people – Eleanor King – for Christ sake
    did not stand up to Nicholas. You have never done a single thing that you haven’t wanted to do.”

    “I was protecting you.”

    “From a situation that you helped perpetuate,” Audrey fired at her. “Do not even try to make yourself the martyr here

    “Your father and I saw how much you loved Nicholas…” Eleanor attempted to reason with her daughter, “we were only
    doing what we thought was in your best interests Audrey.”

    Audrey shook her head and sat down on the edge of her mother’s bed with her back to Eleanor. “You think…” she choked
    on her words, “you sold me into a marriage that I believed for half of my life was built on trust, honesty, respect and love.”

    “Don’t be so dramatic Audrey. Your father and I didn’t sell you into a marriage. Nicholas wanted to marry you…”

    “And the two of you did what – sweeten the deal?” Audrey interrupted her. “I’m not being dramatic mother, I am telling you
    how I see things…how I interrupt what you have done…” she stood up and faced her mother, “I was nothing more than a
    paid for hooker for thirty-two years! Do not patronize me by saying you and daddy did this for me. Don’t you dare!”
    One Week Later
    Audrey King Pierce peeled the adhesive visitor’s badge off and placed it directly under her right shoulder with her left
    hand. It had been a week since the fashion show and the events of her gala. As she began to make her way down the
    corridor her body ached – no doubt it was the multiple plane rides from New York City to River’s Edge and then to Los
    Angeles where she now found herself.

    The corridor was decorated with a light beige carpet pattern, cream colored walls and adorned with flower arrangements
    every few feet looked more like a five-star hotel than it did a nursing home facility. As she turned the corner to Eleanor’s
    room she thought of the price and reassured herself that this was no hotel she ever wanted to pay for or live in.

    She lightly tapped on the door before going on in. Eleanor’s room had been paid a bright white before she moved in,
    Audrey had arranged for some of her furniture from the house in the hills to be brought to the facility along with pictures, a
    few knick-knacks and of course Eleanor’s books – everything from The Great Gatsby to the latest Jackie Collins novel,
    Eleanor had read them all at least twice.

    “Well this is a surprise,” Eleanor said from her chair that looked out across the Pacific Ocean. “I wasn’t expecting to see
    you for at least another week or two.”

    “I know,” Audrey bent down and kissed her mother’s cheek. “I wanted to come and tell you in person just how successful
    the show was last week. Everyone says it was a smashing success and the buyers are just itching to get their hands on
    the merchandise,” she smiled. “Brittany truly did design a remarkably marvelous collection.

    Eleanor nodded her head, “Let’s not be so modest Audrey, I’m sure it helped that you associated your name to that

    “Yes well that could very well be the case,” she sat down in a chair across from her mother. “That’s not the only reason
    why I came to see you mother,” Audrey told her. “I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you heard about the
    travesty that was my gala?”

    “Unfortunately I did,” Eleanor frowned at the thought. “And to be quite honest with you my darling I applaud your self-
    restraint. I half expected you to burst through those doors like a scorned bat out of hell.”

    “Believe me when I say that I certainly considered that mother,” she assured her. “But I wanted to come here in a calm
    and collected manner to ask if you knew about the codicil in daddy’s will?”

    Audrey paused and leaned forward in her chair, “Because if you did know about it and you said nothing, now is the time
    to admit it,” she told Eleanor. “Not tomorrow or the next day or the day after that – you tell me right now mother if you knew
    about this or not and don't lie to me.”

    “I promise you Audrey that I had no idea that such a document ever existed,” Eleanor turned away from her daughter for a
    brief moment. “Do you honestly think that had I known your father wanted you to have the company that I wouldn’t have
    done everything in my power to make that happen?”

    “Honestly I don’t know what to think mother,” she told her. “Especially when you take into consideration the role you
    played in helping Nicholas gain control of the company once already in the last ten years. I’m sorry mother, but your track
    record is not stellar when it comes to King Fashion.”

    Eleanor bit her bottom lip and looked across at her daughter, “I suppose I deserved that. But as you well know Audrey I
    had my reasons…”
    “Audrey…” her mother sighed, “I can’t change what your father and I did. I’m not proud of it and even though I know you
    don’t want to hear it…but we did what we did for you.”

    Audrey closed her eyes and ran her fingers through her short auburn hair and sighed heavily.

    “Please darling sit down and…” Eleanor gestured towards the empty chair across from her.

    Smothering a sigh of disgust under her breath, Audrey stepped forward to retrieve her purse. “I am done discussing this
    matter with you, with Nicholas…I’m done…I’m finished.”

    “Audrey please don’t leave,” Eleanor encroached on begging. “We have come so far in such a short period of time…” she
    choked on her words. “Please Audrey you are my daughter…my only daughter…”

    “Clearly we both know that’s not to true,” Audrey’s words cut deep into Eleanor’s heart as she walked towards the door to

    Eleanor watched as Audrey reached for the doorknob, “I’ll beg,” she declared as Audrey froze.

    “I will beg,” she repeated. “I will get down on my hands and my knees Audrey. And will crawl across floor and beg with
    everything I have in me…” Eleanor choked on her tears. “I will beg for your forgiveness,” she cried out. “Just please,
    please don’t leave Audrey. Please…I am so sorry…”

    Audrey could see the tears swelling in her own eyes…she felt the first drop race down her cheek…then the
    second…then the third…and yet she did not move, she did not wipe them from her face and she certainly did not let her
    mother see them.

    “I can’t forgive you mom…” she said with a quiet emphasis, “at least not right now. You have hurt me in a way that I never
    conceived to imagine. I won’t forgive you today and it won’t be tomorrow…I just need to process all of this.”

    “All right then,” Eleanor shifted in her chair. “But you’ll be back though right?”

    Audrey opened the door and shook her head, “I’ll be back,” she said before she thundered down the hallway leaving
    Eleanor alone with nothing more than faded memories and the guilt of what she had done.
    Two Weeks Later
    Valerie looked at Bradley – she had known him for nearly thirty years – he was the father of her children and she knew
    what he was thinking without him having to say a single word. She placed her hand on the coolness of the booth and
    breathed a sigh of relief when Bradley placed his on top of hers.

    “What…what…did they find?” Valerie managed to ask.

    “A lump,” Josh revealed. “And during the last six weeks I have seen three oncologists here in River’s Edge, Dallas and
    when I was in New York City with April.”

    Bradley internally breathed a sigh of relief – his worst possible fear had turned out not to be his worst possible fear and
    he questioned, “What did they say? Is the lump…is it cancerous?”

    “Oh my God…” Valerie gasped under her breath. She didn’t know if she should be happy and relieved or scared and
    frightened as it slowly dawned on her that her worst possible fear had turned out not to be her worst possible fear but
    something totally and completely different all together.

    “Josh do you have cancer?” she asked.

    He looked at his parents and forced a smile for their comfort, “Yeah I do,” he answered. “The lump that they found was on
    my right testicle. The doctor in New York City called and confirmed what Dr. Hathaway here at the hospital told already
    told me.”

    “You have testicular cancer?” Bradley ran his hand across his face. “Oh my God son…I am so…”
    Justin Pierce took a seat at one of the empty metal picnic tables in the middle of the recreation room of the South Texas
    State Penitentiary for Women. It was a room that he was no stranger to – in the last eight years since Brandi had been
    incarcerated there, he had visited on a monthly basis, he was unfortunately, incredibly familiar with the room and the
    guards who monitored it for visitation hours.

    “Hi,” Brandi Bradshears Pierce smiled at the sight of her husband sitting there waiting for her to arrive. She looked him
    over – from head to toe – as she had done countless times since in the past. It had been eight years since she had felt
    his touch – his lips on hers or felt his body crushing against hers.

    As he had done countless times in the past Justin blew his wife a kiss, “Hi baby,” he smiled. “You look good.”

    “I feel good,” she replied. “Did you bring me any pictures of Lewis?”

    Justin shook his head, “I did. I checked them in with the guard at the desk…” he pointed across the room. “I included
    some from the fashion show a few weeks ago. He looked so grown up.”

    “You did?” Brandi asked him. “I bet he’s getting so big?”

    Justin looked across the table at his wife. The last eight years for them had been difficult, but through everything he had
    never once thought of divorcing Brandi – however, cheating on her was a completely different subject entirely.

    “I talked to Valerie earlier this week,” he told her.

    “You did? What did she say?”

    “The parole board has set a date for your hearing,” he explained. “She wrote you a letter that I brought with me today, it
    should explain everything,” Justin smiled. “This is almost over Brandi.”

    Brandi ran her fingers through her hair and then pulled it back into a ponytail. “Justin…” she smiled, “to hear you say
    that,” she exhaled. “I can’t believe that I could be getting out of here in a matter of weeks.”
    “It looks that way baby.”

    “Did Valerie say what would happen next?”

    “Not in so many words. I don’t think she wanted me to get my hopes up to high,” he forced a small laugh. “The hearing is
    still several weeks away, but the good thing is that we have a date.”

    “I agree.”

    “Valerie said she wants to come up with me next and the three of can discuss the logistics.”

    Brandi smiled, “This is so exciting. I cannot believe that in a few weeks I could be getting out of here and going home with
    you…” she reached across the table and wanted so bad to touch him, but she knew the consequences and decided
    against it.

    “I will be going home with you won’t I?” she questioned.

    Justin looked into her eyes and smiled, “Of course. You’re my wife Brandi…home with me is where you belong.”
    Three Weeks Later
    Sabrina Davis Bradshaw appeared in the doorway of Andrew’s office and watched him work from across the room
    before she cleared her throat to announce her arrival.

    “My assistant said that you wanted to see me before I left?” she told him.

    Andrew nodded, “Come in…” he gestured towards one of the empty seats in front of his desk. “Do you want a drink?”

    “Um…” she thought for a minute, “just a diet soda.”

    He walked across the office and began to prepare their drinks, “I wanted to let you know that I’ve made some headway
    with Jacqueline Vanderbilt…”

    “Oh really? You were able to talk to here?” Sabrina questioned as she took the drink from him.

    “Not exactly,” he answered. “I was able to talk to her executive assistant and she’s agreed to a meeting in Chicago – in
    six weeks.”

    “Six weeks?” she managed a choking laugh between drinks. “You’re serious?”

    Andrew shrugged his shoulders, “She’s a very busy woman.”

    “So am I,” Sabrina fired back at him. “I run a multi-billionaire dollar company and raise a five year old…we’re all busy
    Andrew. We’ve nearly gone without a full-time CFO for a year – I wanted to have someone in place in six weeks, not
    taking a meeting.”

    “Do you want me to call and cancel?” he asked. “Because even though I’ve spent months courting this woman – I will
    cancel if you don’t want to wait.”

    Sabrina sat her drink down on the corner of his desk and stood from her chair, “I should have known you would push this
    back on me.”

    “You’re the boss,” Andrew reminded her with a slight wink.

    “Yes, everyone keeps reminding me of that,” Sabrina sighed and thought for a moment. “She’s worth the wait?”

    “I think she is,” Andrew told her. “But obviously it’s your call honey…”

    The flattery caught her off guard for a moment and she cut her eyes at him, “All right fine, six weeks in Chicago,” she
    agreed. “But you tell her assistant not a day later or we move on. And Andrew she had better damn well be worth the
    wait,” Sabrina warned as she headed out.
    Four Weeks Later
    Rhonda Duncan emerged from the bathroom of her suite at The Southern River Hotel in nothing more than a black lacy
    bra and matching panties. The room was darker than it typically was on a Wednesday afternoon. The drapes were drawn
    closed and heavy clouds filled the River’s Edge skyline as a storm raced into town.

    Travis did I hear you talking to someone…” she asked before she noticed the room service cart.

    “I did hear you talking to someone,” Rhonda corrected herself as she noticed the dozens of rose that had suddenly and
    magically appeared in her absence.

    “Do you like them?” Travis McCarty asked from the comfort of the king size bed.

    “Show me a woman who doesn’t like three dozen red roses,” Rhonda crawled on top of the bed and surveyed the
    beautiful flowers. “What are you up to Travis?”

    “We’re going to celebrate,” he told her. “It’s our anniversary don’t you know…” he pulled Rhonda close to him. “I ordered
    all of your favorites.”

    She ran her thin fingers along his chest and smiled, “You did?” she teased him. “Like what?”

    “Chocolate covered strawberries, red velvet cupcakes and of course Cristal Champagne,” he stood up from the bed and
    walked across the room.

    Rhonda climbed to her knees and watched as Travis poured each of them a glass of the Cristal. In her life she had taken
    many, many lovers into her bed – but there was never one like him.

    “Travis do you ever feel guilty about our relationship?” she asked him.
    Five Weeks Later
    He looked across the room at her and cut his eyes, “Where is this coming from Rhonda?”

    “Nowhere particular,” she took the glass of champagne from him and sipped a little of it. “It’s just that…” she looked
    around the room, “we’ve been doing this for nearly three years and well I feel a little awkward telling you this…”

    “Rhonda you can tell me anything.”

    She leaned over and kissed him passionately and when she pulled away, “This is the longest relationship that I’ve ever
    been in and for me it’s a little strange. And I was just wondering if you ever felt guilty about…about us?”

    Travis thought for a moment about the question and replied, “I felt a little guilty at first I suppose. But I’ve come to
    understand that if a man isn’t getting…let’s say a home cooked meal at home – then he’ll make other arrangements,” he
    laughed. “You don’t feel guilty about our relationship do you?”

    Rhonda laughed at the sheer notion, “Baby you know that I don’t do guilt! I came to terms with the role that I was meant to
    play in men’s lives a long time ago. I was either going to be their boss, their girlfriend or their mistress…” she told him,
    “but never their wife or their mother!”

    “Why are you telling me all of this Rhonda?” Travis questioned as he handed her a rectangular shaped box wrapped in
    sparkling silver paper and topped with bright pink bow.

    She shook her head and took the gift from him. “I’m telling you this because I want you to know that I am perfectly content
    with exactly what you and I have going on right here. I don’t want any part of it to change and I don’t want you to do
    something stupid like divorcing your wife for me.”

    Rhonda slowly opened the box and gasp, “Oh my God Travis…”

    “Do you like it?”

    She laughed at his question, “It’s what…14 karats? White gold? Diamond necklace…yes Travis…” Rhonda lightly
    pushed him down on the bed and straddled him, “I like it very much,” she smiled.
    Six Weeks Later
    It had been raining in River’s Edge for over a week and as Pamela approached the bay windows in her reading room she
    couldn’t help but long for a summer day. As she made her way around the room the thought of lighting a fire appealed to
    her…but she had bigger things to concern herself with this morning – namely her credit card statements that the private
    investigator had sent over the day before.

    She reached for cell phone from the coffee table that was anchored in the middle of the room and called the station. She
    waited patiently as the line rang once…twice…

    “KJRE – Coverage You Can Count On,” the receptionist at the front desk answered. “How may I direct your call?”

    “This is Pamela McCarty, is my husband available?”

    “Let me check ma’am,” the receptionist placed her on hold.

    Pamela sat down on the sofa in front of the coffee table and picked up the credit card statement. Her PI had highlighted
    certain areas for her review, hoping that something would stand out.

    “Mrs. McCarty?” the receptionist returned to the line. “I’m sorry but your husband is out…” Pamela ended the conversation
    without a word further and continued to inspect the bill before her.

    “What are you up to Travis?” she asked herself and dialed his cell phone number.

    Immediately it went to voicemail, “Hi you’ve reached Travis McCarty. I’m unable to answer your call…”

    She ended the message and seethed with frustration, “Unable to answer my call or just unwilling to answer my call?”
    Pamela questioned under her breath as a picture from the mantle caught her attention.

    It was a picture of them on their wedding day – he was so good to her back then – so attentive to her needs and her
    wants. As she continued to stare down the picture a thought slowly began to crawl its way into her mind and suddenly
    she was lost in yesteryear…

    She stood completely frozen…barely able to process a thought and unable to move in that moment…everything
    that had happened in the last five minutes changed her life as she knew and all she could do was stand
    there…her fingers intertwined together and try to make sense of what he had just told her.

    “Pamela…” Phillip finally said something. “Pamela don’t just stand there, say something to me.”

    “What pray tell would you have me say?” she turned around and faced him.
    “Why would you do this to me Phillip? Am I not good enough for you?” Pamela questioned. “Is it not enough that I
    helped you build a company? That I keep your home? Is it not enough that I raise your children?” she yelled at
    him from across the room.

    “Don’t you raise your voice at me Pamela,” he warned her.

    Pamela glared at him with a burning, reproachful eye, “Who exactly do you think you are right now?” her tone
    changed within a second and she put up her defenses. “Don’t you dare come into my house and dictate to me
    what I will or will not do – especially not after I find out my husband has been lying to me for months! That is not
    how this conversation goes Phillip…”

    “Pamela,” he cut his eyes at her. “I won’t tell you again…”

    “You won’t need to…” her tone was razor sharp as she boldly met his eyes. “Pack your bags Phillip and you get
    the hell out of here!”

    “This is my house,” he replied in a calm tone, “and I’m not going anywhere.”

    She stepped towards him and she seethed with anger as though she had never felt before in her life. The blood in
    her veins felt as though it was boiling as she inched closer to him.

    “Do you really want to challenge me on this Phillip? After everything that you have done you want to do this with
    me right?”

    “I don’t intend to leave my house,” he reiterated.

    “My house!” she fired at him. “This is my house, if you understand nothing else, you understand that Phillip
    Bradshaw! I raise your children in this house…you may pay the mortgage, but honey this is my home and when I
    tell you to get out, then you had better damn well do it Phillip!”

    “Pamela you can scream and yell as much as you need, but it doesn’t change anything…”

    “Well you’re right about that Phillip. I may scream and yell and throw things…but it doesn’t change the fact that you
    screwed some random secretary. You had an affair…” the word caught in her throat and she suddenly realized
    what she had said.

    “You had an affair,” she repeated as it the reality of the situation suddenly began to settle with her. “You had an
    affair and because of that I want you to get out,” she said in breathless whisper as she turned away from him.

    “Are you not hearing what I’m saying to you Pamela? I’m…not…leaving…” he said in a raised voice.

    She spun around, “We’ll see about that…”

    “What does that mean?”

    Pamela stood within inches from her husband’s face, she could feel his breath brush across her face, “It means
    that when I get back…if you’re not gone…then I’ll more than gladly take a horse whip to your lying, cheating son-
    of-a-bitch ass,” she warned him.
    Seven Weeks Later
    Audrey emerged from the Los Angeles County Court House with her lawyer – Gregory Holloway by her side. She slid on a
    pair of Prada sunglasses and looked over at him with raised eyebrows.

    “Are you ready for this?” Gregory asked her as a slew of reporters and paparazzi rushed over to her all screaming her

    “Audrey! Audrey! Audrey! Audrey!”

    “Can you tell us what happened Audrey? Are you and Nicholas going to reconcile? Is Nicholas out at King Fashion?” she
    heard them all shouting at her, one on top of the other.

    Gregory held up his hand to stop them all of the shouting!

    “The Honorable Richard Stone having reviewed all of the documentation in this case made his ruling earlier this
    morning,” Gregory explained. “Judge Stone found in favor of Ms. King’s petition to have her father’s Last Will and
    Testament be amended to include the codicil that gives her full creative control and ownership of the fashion house.”

    Gregory looked over at Audrey and slightly nodded, giving her approval to make a public statement.

    “I am first and foremost grateful to my attorney for working diligently the last seven weeks on this case. Restoring King
    Fashion to its rightful owner has been my top priority since I learned that this document existed. I am pleased with the
    ruling made by Judge Stone and look forward to King Fashion’s bright and successful future,” Audrey stated.

    “What does this ruling mean for King Fashion?” a reporter shouted out.

    Gregory quickly surveyed the surroundings and saw Nicholas emerge from the courthouse with his attorney, “It means
    that the rightful ownership of King Fashion has been restored - - No more questions!”

    He took Audrey by the arm and led her down the waiting sedan and once inside she asked him, “What was that all

    “Nicholas and his lawyer where coming out of the courthouse and I didn’t want a verbal brawl between the two of you
    being the lead story on Entertainment Tonight,” he told her.

    She looked at him through the corner of her eyes and smiled, “You’re pretty clever aren’t you Gregory?”

    “I like to think that I can be.”

    Audrey pulled her sunglasses off and laid them in her lap. “I like you…and I don’t tend to like many people.”

    “Thank you.”

    Audrey nodded her head, “Do you plan on going back to River’s Edge tonight?”

    “I am yes. Are you going back too?”

    “No. I’m going to spend a few more days here in Los Angeles, take a few meetings, and spend some time with my

    He took the liberty of their blooming friendship and asked, “Go see your mother?”

    She cracked a smile, “Very, very clever. I want to thank you for taking on my case on such short notice. I know that the
    separation from your wife must have been difficult.”

    “We’ve been through worse,” he told her. “I want to thank you for the opportunity for the case.”

    “And of course the added bonus of all the publicity that’s accompanied,” she added. “I want to put you on permanent
    retainer for myself and for King Fashion,” Audrey explained. “Is that something that you would be interested in?”

    “Full time retainer?” he questioned. “Absolutely.”

    “Good. I was certainly hoping that you would say that,” Audrey looked out the window and watched as they merged onto
    the I-10 headed towards the Beverly Hilton. There were days that she missed Los Angeles and today was one of them.

    “I also want you to arrange with either Rhonda Duncan or your wife,” she turned her focus back to Gregory, “a sit down
    interview. I need to capitalize on all of the publicity for the company and the new line. Plus I want to tell my story.”

    “Alright,” he pulled out his iPhone and took a few notes. “And you would consider Megan for the interview?”

    “I would actually prefer it,” Audrey assured him. “I just don’t want to make it seem that I’m showing disfavor towards Ms.
    Duncan or Natasha’s news station. I trust you’ll make all the appropriate arrangements.”
    Eight Weeks Later
    Ryan O’Keefe stood outside of his sister’s bedroom. He never considered himself the religious type but the events of the
    last few weeks had him reconsidered his position. Between Brittany’s miscarriage and Josh’s chemotherapy he
    wondered why bad things always seemed to happen to good people. As he lightly tapped on the door, he decided it
    wasn’t his place to question the reasoning behind such tragedies, but it was his place to be a steady anchor in the fierce
    winds of the storm.

    “Brittany are you awake? Can I come in?” he asked from the doorway of the dark room.

    “If you must,” his sister answered in a subdued tone.

    Ryan made his way into the room. He relied heavily on his memory from the day before for remembering the placement
    of the furniture and hoped that he didn’t injure himself making his way to the bed.

    The curtains were still drawn this afternoon – he hadn’t expected them to be opened since they hadn’t been since they
    returned from New York City some two months earlier.

    He sat a bag of soup down on the nightstand and leaned over in the bed to kiss his sister on the forehead.

    “Do you mind if I sit with you for a little while?” he asked. The doctors had told him and Ethan that they had to let Brittany
    remain in control of her post-partum. This was her lose and that they shouldn’t rush the process of grief.

    Brittany shook her head, “Of course,” she answered. Since the miscarriage after the fashion show she hadn’t said much
    to anyone other than Ethan or Ryan. Upon her return home she had instructed Ethan to not let anyone but Ryan up to see

    “Ethan asked me to tell you he went into the office to get some work done,” Ryan told her. He sat next to her bed in a red
    and beige chair that Ethan had often slept in most nights.

    “Britt do you want to open the curtains a little, maybe the window? Get some fresh air,” he suggested. “It’s been raining
    for weeks, the sun’s not shining.”

    “No,” she turned over in the bed with her back to him. “What’s in the bag?”

    “Soup from The Chalkboard…your favorite – Chicken noodle and New England Clam Chowder,” he answered. “I brought
    Ethan some tomato basil if you want that. I figured whichever one was left over I would eat.”

    “Did you bring me a grilled cheese sandwich too?” she asked in a hushed, monotone voice.

    “Of course I did,” Ryan smiled. “He takes such good care of my sister – that I have to make sure someone takes care of

    Brittany setup in the bed and looked over at her brother, she wanted to smile but didn’t have the energy or the desire to.

    “I would like the Clam Chowder please,” she told him.

    Ryan immediately stood up from the chair and walked over to the nightstand. He opened the Styrofoam container and
    handed it to Brittany along with a spoon.

    “There’s some crackers too if you want them.”

    Brittany stirred the soup and felt her eyes starting to sting. Without warning and without reason she felt the hot tears race
    down her face. She reached over to set the container on the nightstand and once she had she turned away from Ryan.

    He had seen more of her tears that she knew he ever cared to see in his life and she knew that he did not want to see
    any more of them today.

    “Hey…hey…it’s okay,” Ryan walked around the bed and squatted down next to her. “You don’t have to do that, you don’t
    have to turn away from me when you’re upset.”

    “You’re just saying that. I know you’re tired of seeing me mope around here and cry all the damn time,” she said through
    her tears.

    Ryan shook his head, “No. You’re completely wrong about that. Scoot over.”

    He climbed into the bed with her and propped himself up against the headboard. “You know that I would never think that
    Brittany,” he scooped her up into his arms and she laid her head on his shoulders, the tears still falling.

    “You listen to me…I love you no matter what – I’m here for you, always,” he assured her as she wiped her tears away and
    wrapped her arm around his stomach.

    “You’re my baby brother,” she told him, “I’m supposed to take care of you, not the other way around.”

    “And I’m sure eventually you’ll need to do just that,” he kissed the top of her head. “But right now it’s my turn to take care
    of you.”

    Ryan reached for the container and asked, “Do you want some of this or do you want me to just do away with it – and of
    course by do away I mean eat it myself?”

    “I do,” she said.

    “All right then…” he prepared a bite for her…
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