Previously on All Or Nothing
    April Dawn Bradshaw stared at her reflection from the mirror in her suite at The Southern River Hotel. Since returning to
    River’s Edge approximately four weeks earlier she was finding it difficult to successfully balance mother, her career and
    Josh’s cancer. She checked her lipstick and made a mental note to start house hunting and soon!

    She reached for a strand of white pearls from the dresser and as she did, Ian appeared behind her. She watched him via
    the mirror take the pearls from her hand and she smiled.  

    “May I?” he asked in almost a whisper.

    April nodded her head and watched as he put them around her neck. Once he had securely fastened them in place he
    leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.

    “Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you today?” he asked.

    She shook her head, “No, I’ll be fine. Jodi and Kendra are going to be there so…” her words trailed off. “Brandi’s parole
    hearing isn’t something that I would subject you to.”

    “I don’t mind,” Ian insisted. “If you want me to go I would more than gladly go with you and your sister.”

    “I know,” she told him. “And I appreciate that Ian, I really do. It means a lot to me.” April checked her reflection in the mirror
    and suddenly remembered the last time she had worn the pearl necklace that now rested on her neck.

    “April are you okay?”

    She solemnly shook her head as tears began to swell up in her eyes, “I’m fine. I just, um, I just remembered all of a
    sudden the last time I wore these pearls…”
    Sharon Bradshaw emerged from the kitchen in her new apartment at University Courtyards. She had moved in the last
    time Kendra was in River’s Edge – which was January and though five months had passed, it didn’t quite feel like home.

    She stood and watched silently as Kendra quickly typed something on her BlackBerry and she suddenly remembered
    how close she came to losing her daughter…
    Natasha pushed open the door of Kirby’s Café in Canton, Texas and thankfully welcomed the cool forced air as it blew
    across her face. She had only been to Canton a few times when she was married to Andrew and after spending many
    weeks hiding in the small town, she wondered why they hadn’t come more often.

    “Natasha!” Julia Cartwright waved from behind the counter. “Go on and have a seat anywhere you’d like honey. I’ll bring
    your regular over in a minute.”

    Natasha settled into a booth by the window and watched as Julia wiped down the bar, refreshed a few coffees and called
    an order back to the kitchen. She turned and looked out the window across Main Street. It was only eight o’clock in the
    morning and she had been awake before the sun had even peaked above the lake outside the cabin. There was
    something about this place that made her feel at peace, even today.

    “Whew!” Julia sat down a cup of coffee in front of Natasha before she collapsed into the booth directly across from her.

    “I am telling you right now, if I don’t have this baby and very soon I am going to lose what little of my mind I have left,” Julia
    laughed.

    “How far along are you again?” Natasha asked as she stirred some sugar into her coffee.

    “Thirty weeks,” Julia smiled. “So it won’t be that much longer.”

    Natasha swirled her spoon around in her coffee cup and gazed across at Julia as she continued talking about the baby,
    the nursery that wasn’t finished and the sudden heat wave that took them all by surprise earlier that week.

    “Hey!” Julia snapped her fingers in front of Natasha’s face and smiled. “Everything okay with you today? You seem a little
    distracted.”

    Natasha laid her spoon down on a napkin and shook her head. Julia was nearly thirty years younger than her and came
    from a complete different generation. Natasha had stumbled into Kirby’s Café only days after arriving in Canton. She was
    in dire need of a good home cooked meal and someone who would listen to her troubles – she found both thanks to
    Julia.

    “You know I don’t think I have ever known anyone quite like you Julia,” Natasha told her. “There’s something about you
    that just…”

    “What? That just makes you what Natasha?”

    “That makes me just want to open up to you and tell you all my problems,” Natasha waved her hand in the air, brushing
    off the notion that she would unburden all of her worries on someone she had only met a few weeks earlier.

    “You haven’t told me all of your problems already?” Julia questioned. “You’ve told me quite a lot these last couple of
    weeks honey. But if you’re sitting there telling me that there is more – well then I’ll be more than happy to listen – good or
    bad.”

    “I know,” Natasha sipped her coffee.

    “Okay well there’s obviously something on your mind,” Julia said as she wiggled out of the booth. “Let me check on my
    orders, grab you a blueberry muffin and I’ll be right back.”
    “Some monster did this to my baby,” Natasha said in a soft, calm voice.

    Brandi took Natasha’s hand, “I know and we can only hope that the police find some clues to bring that person to
    justice.” She felt like the world’s biggest hypocrite in that moment, almost fearing God would send her straight to
    hell right then and there.

    Natasha looked up into Brandi’s eyes. Stunned and sickened she repeated her earlier words, “Some monster did
    to my baby. And now…” she stumbled with her words, “now I am just supposed to go on every day for the rest of
    my life like everything is okay? How? How am I supposed to do that Brandi?”

    Brandi opened her arms and took Natasha into them, “Oh God Natasha I wish I knew the answer to that, I really
    do.”

    The two women sat there together as the minutes slowly ticked away.

    “Okay you want to put your flower up there?” Brandi gestured towards Jered’s casket.

    “No. I want to set here with him forever…for the rest of my life,” Natasha cried out. “But I suppose I can’t do that can
    I?”
    Canton, Texas
    “All right…” Julia filled Natasha’s coffee cup and placed before her a blueberry muffin, as promised. “Eat up – it’s fresh
    out of the oven,” she smiled. “And tell me what has you so down today sweetie!”

    Natasha picked at the muffin and exhaled, “There’s just something going on back home today.”

    Julia reached across and pulled a piece of the muffin off and popped it into her mouth, “You know from what you’ve told
    me about River’s Edge it sounds like there is something always going on there.”

    Natasha stared at the tabletop and shook her head, “You know what…you are right and when it comes to this thing today,
    well there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.”

    “So stop worrying Natasha!”

    “I think I’m going to do just that,” Natasha smiled at her and took a bite of the muffin. “Enough about me and my problems
    tell me what you have planned for the rest of your day once you leave here. You want to come out to the cabin and have
    dinner with me tonight?”

    “Dinner?” Julia smiled. “That sounds delicious! I would love. And you know school gets out today, which means I am
    finally going to get a few days of much needed rest, relaxation and shopping.”

    “Good for you.”

    “In fact, if you don’t have any plans for tomorrow why don’t you come with me to First Monday Trade Days? It would
    probably help keep your mind off things back in River’s Edge.”

    Natasha thought for a moment, “You know it probably would, but what is First Monday?”

    Julia shook her head, “How is it even possible that you have been in Canton this long and don’t know what First Monday
    is?”

    Natasha shrugged her shoulders, “Well what is it?”

    “Only the largest flea market in the country and you’re going whether you want to or not,” she told Natasha. “And I promise
    you’ll have fun and you will love it.”

    “Well if you say so,” Natasha agreed.

    “I do!” Julia began to wiggle out of the booth again. “I guess I had better head to the little girl’s room and then get cranky
    Frankie over there his breakfast,” she laughed. “I’ll come back in a bit to check on you honey.

    “Julia…” Natasha stopped her before she got away from the table. “Thank you for being you,” she smiled. “You have been
    a life preserver these last few weeks, one that I desperately needed. And I don’t know what made me walk through that
    door,” she pointed across the café, “three months ago but I’m certainly glad I did.”
    Silence lingered over the room where Brandi sat with her husband Justin and her attorney Valerie Caldwell. The ticking
    of the clock on the wall sat the tone for their meeting. Justin had brought her a gray pinstripes suit from her closet, Valerie
    had recommended her wearing her hair pulled back and the prison guard stationed outside the conference room would
    tell her when she could step foot in front of the parole committee. Everything had been planned out for her today. She
    could feel her heart racing and her lips trembled at the mere thought that she could be, finally, leaving this place.

    “Hey,” Justin took her hand in his and looked over to her, “calm down. Okay?”

    Brandi let out a small sigh of relief and shook her head. There were so many thoughts rushing through her mind at that
    moment that she wasn’t able to process any of them but one…
    “Are you seriously still wearing your pajamas Joshua?” Ryan let himself into Josh’s apartment. “Dude it’s nearly noon.”

    Josh looked across the room and shook his head, “I love how you just come into my apartment without even knocking or
    ringing the doorbell. And for the record Ryan, I have cancer. So if I want to wear my pajamas all day, every day I can.”

    “Blah! Blah! Blah!” Ryan mocked him. “And since we’re apparently putting things on the record, you don’t have a doorbell
    and you gave me a key,” he held up his keychain. “Remember?”

    “I did do that didn’t I?” Josh questioned himself. “But it was only for emergencies – like making sure I didn’t die in my
    sleep,” he smiled.

    “Ha! Ha! You think you’re so funny don’t you?” Ryan rolled his eyes and made his way across the apartment.

    “Why are you here though?” Josh questioned. “It’s my dad’s turn to babysit me at chemo today, not yours.”

    “I brought you a strawberry-pineapple smoothie from that place you like by the campus,” he sat the smoothie down in
    front of his ex-boyfriend. “First of all Joshua, no one is babysitting you and your dad texted me about an hour ago.”

    My dad texted you?” Josh laughed at the thought.

    “Yes he did,” Ryan shook his head at Josh. “Apparently something came up and he wanted to switch days with me.”

    “And because you and my dad are such good buddies you said yes?”

    Ryan cut his eyes at Josh and pointed to the smoothie, “Drink your damn smoothie and shut up,” he said as they both
    started to laugh.

    Josh watched from the dining room of the apartment as Ryan made his way into the kitchen. He watched as he began to
    rinse the dirty dishes and put them in the dishwater. Once Ryan had finished, he opened the refrigerator and surveyed
    the options for dinner once they returned that evening from Josh’s chemo.

    “What would I do with you?” Josh wondered out loud.

    “I don’t know,” Ryan answered with a smile. “What would you do without me Joshua?”
    There were ten DVDs in total. Three broadcasts per DVD for a total of thirty broadcasts. Pamela had only made her way
    through a third of them when the sudden revelation hit. As she stood in her bedroom, staring at the bed she had shared
    with Travis for nearly eight years it hit her like a ton of bricks…

    Pamela settled into her seat across from Rhonda, “I have to apologize for being late,” Pamela told her.

    Rhonda waves her hand in the air, “Oh don’t apologize,” she glanced at her watch. “I must say though I really do
    appreciate the invitation it was very kind of you to ask me to lunch.”

    “Of course,” Pamela smiled. “I just hate the fact that you’ve been in town for six months already and this is the first
    time that we’ve had a chance to meet face-to-face. Travis speaks so highly of you.”

    “Well…” Rhonda blushed, “I have the same admiration and respect for him. Did he tell you that he was my first co-
    anchor?”

    “Yes he mentioned that when you were interviewing for the job,” she noted as the waiter brought them their drinks.
    “I know that I shouldn’t say this, but I saw all the audition reels and yours was by far the best.”

    Rhonda was about to thank Pamela when the buzzing of her BlackBerry stopped her. “Hello, this Rhonda.” She
    listened for a moment and then dropped the device back into her purse.

    “Everything alright?”

    Rhonda shook her head, “No. That was the station. Apparently something has come up. I hate to cut this short but
    I’m afraid I have to go.”

    “Well duty calls,” Pamela smiled. “I understand.”

    “Rhonda. Rhonda. Rhonda,” Pamela shook her head as she finally made the connection. “You’ve been screwing my
    husband,” she seethed with anger as she finally made the connection.

    Pamela began to collect the remaining DVDs from the bed. She thought of what her next step would be and she
    suddenly caught her reflection in the mirror.

    “Dear, dear Rhonda,” a wicked smile brushed over her face, “someone should have warned you darling, hell hath no fury
    like a Texas woman scorned!”
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Coming Soon on All Or Nothing
  •        Bradley goes to see Brittany and it does not go according to plan!
  •        Pamela's suspensions are confirmed and you'll never believe who she turns to for comfort.
  •        In Canton, Natasha meets her new neighbor - Preston Crawford!
All Or Nothing
Episode 143: Testify to Love
May 21, 2012
  •        In 2004, Brandi Brashears was convicted of first degree vehicular manslaughter for the death of Jered Bradshaw.

  •        Pamela suspected her husband was having an affair and hired a private investigator.

  •        Josh was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer.

  •        Natasha fled to Canton, Texas after her aborted wedding to Nicholas in New York City.
    “Oh I’ll never know how you did it all these years – putting up with two spoiled girls like us.” She stroked his hair
    and a tear raced down her face.

    “You always made it look so easy and God only knows what a couple of bitches Jodi and I could be at times,” she
    laughed to herself.

    “I’m going to miss you so much Jered…more than I can even fathom at the moment. I didn’t want to give up on
    you, but like always you seemed to know what was best didn’t you?”

    April wiped her eyes and looked away from him. “This is to hard…” she whispered, “I can’t bear to do this Jered,”
    she said before she drew in a deep breath and softly let it go.
    It had been years since Jodi Bradshaw had spent the night in her father’s house, yet as she sat on the edge of the bed
    in one of the guest room, she felt that doing so the night earlier had been the right decision. There was something
    cathartic about being in the same place where she had grown up with Jered and April.

    She snapped her bracelet on her wrist and thought of her childhood – about everything that had happened before
    Andrew's affair…before Jered died…and those were the days that she was most thankful for her family. Thankful she
    was born a Bradshaw – poised, courageous and though many would say honorable was a debatable trait in her family,
    she knew all the better.

    Jodi stood from the bed and checked her eyeliner in the mirror on the vanity one last time, today wasn’t a typical day by
    any means. Today she had to reach deep within her soul to find her courage and not let anyone forget who her brother
    was.

    She crossed the room, reached for the doorknob and she shivered as a cold chill raced through her entire body…
    “Mr. Sheridan did our mother call you?” Jodi asked.

    He softly responded, “She did, yes ma’am. And please let me begin by saying how sorry I am for your loss.”

    “Thank you,” Jodi replied as April lingered behind her close to the door. “Is he ready?”

    “He is Mrs. Hayes.” The funeral director led them into a rather large room that was filled with what appeared to be
    over a hundred floral arrangements and there in the middle of the room, closed as Natasha had instructed was
    Jered’s casket.

    “Your mother requested a close casket service for this afternoon,” Mr. Sheridan explained. “If you would like I can
    open it for you both.”

    A sharp and piercing pain shot through Jodi’s chest and she nodded to him. “If you don’t mind, we brought a few
    pictures for him.”

    The middle aged funeral director walked over and lifted the head of the casket. Jodi instantly felt tears race down
    her cheeks and April fell into one of the empty seats.

    “I’ll be leaving you two alone. Please call for me if you need anything,” Mr. Sheridan told them as he quietly took
    his leave.

    “Oh baby…” Jodi’s words trailed off as the tears continued to fall like the rain outside. “You shouldn’t be here…you
    should not be here…” she said as she lowered her head.

    “I don’t know why this had to happen…why it had to happen to you,” Jodi continued to cry. “I am so sorry for not
    being there that night for you. My God Jered…I am so sorry…”
    “Sharon are you all right?” Sabrina asked as she rejoined them all. “Sharon?”

    “No Sabrina, I’m not all right,” her reply was distant and dazed. “That was Dr. Herb Dutton from the hospital across
    town,” Sharon explained. “Kendra was brought in earlier tonight. She was in the same accident as
    Jered…apparently they were together.”

    “They were leaving town,” Natasha whispered under her breath. “Oh God…”

    “All the doctor would tell me was that Kendra isn’t in the ICU and that she’s stable,” Sharon told them as she
    looked to her husband.

    “That’s good news,” Andrew assured her.

    “I suppose it is…but he said that I needed to come and sign some documents.” She extended her hand towards
    Andrew and attempted to catch her breath. “I need the keys,” she swallowed hard thinking to herself that this was
    not happening, not to her and damnit not again.

    “Andrew, I need the car keys,” she repeated.

    “I don’t see how you can type so fast on that thing Kendra,” Sharon broke the tense silence and more importantly the
    painful memories of that night.

    Kendra looked up and shrugged her shoulders, “I do it enough, I would be more concerned if I wasn’t good at it,” she
    laughed.

    “You know mom you don’t have to go with me today,” Kendra told her. “Jodi and April are both going to be there…”

    “And so will Andrew,” Sharon finished her daughter’s sentence. “Yes Kendra, I know that. And just because I haven’t
    seen him since our divorce was finalized isn’t a good enough reason to not be there with you today.”

    “Okay,” Kendra backed off. “I just don’t want you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with.”

    Sharon shook her head, “I know that and I appreciate it very much Kendra. But I wasn’t as supportive as I should have
    been eight years ago and well…I would like to think that I’ve changed.”

    Kendra cocked her head to one side and stared across the room at her mother…
    “Actually there is something that I haven’t told you about the accident.”

    “Did you remember something? Kendra did you recognize who was driving the other car?”

    “No. This is something that happened before the accident. I don’t know if Natasha told you or not, but the night of
    Jodi’s bachelorette party she sort of caught Jered and I in the back office of the coffeehouse,” Kendra explained.

    Sharon sat a vase of flowers down and turned to her daughter. “What do you mean she sort of caught the two of
    you? Kendra were you and Jered having sex?”

    She no longer had a reason to lie, so she didn’t, “Yes.”

    “Oh my God!” Sharon sighed, feeling screams of frustration forming on the tip of her tongue. “Is that what the two of
    you were doing so far out of town, in the country, having sex?”

    “No!” Kendra assured her. “Mom there is much more going on that any of you know.”

    “Like what exactly Kendra Jo?”

    “Jered and I…” Kendra sighed, “we got married.”

    “Well we both that isn’t what today is about,” Kendra told her. “And besides that is water under a burned bridge mom.”

    Kendra walked across the room to her mother and took her hands into hers. “So you put all of those negative thoughts
    someplace else. Because today is about making sure that parole board knows what Brandi did to my husband. Okay?”
    “What is she doing here?” Brandi asked quietly. “I don’t want to see her. Please…” she covered her face with her
    cuffed hands.

    Natasha held her stomach, “Oh my God…” her breathes were quick and short. “Is this true?”

    She waited a brief moment for a denial from Brandi and when she didn’t reply Natasha blew across the police
    station, “Look at me! Tell me that this isn’t true Brandi,” she pleaded.

    “Brandi!”

    Everyone in the room disappeared. She was through running, she could no longer hide and the only thing she
    could think to do was lower her head into her hands.

    “You tell them…damnit Brandi…you tell all of them that this is a mistake,” Natasha pleaded. “Tell them that you
    would never, never do this. Tell them Brandi!”

    Her face told a different story than Natasha wanted to hear and the truth began to slowly set in.

    “Oh my God…” Natasha’s face turned a pale white and she questioned, “Did you? You give me an honest answer.
    Did you murder my son?”

    Brandi blinked a few times, nodded her head and answered softly, “Yes. Yes, Natasha and I am so…”

    Natasha froze in the moment – mentally and physically. Her whole body ached and as she slowly turned her back
    on Brandi, but only for a split second.

    She spun around, “How could you do this? How could you do this to me?” Natasha searched for answers as her
    hand raised and snapped across Brandi’s face with so much force she stumbled backwards. “How could you do
    this? How could you do this to me?” she sobbed as she knees finally gave way and she collapsed into Andrew’s
    arms.

    “Brandi! Brandi! Are you listening to what Valerie is saying?” Justin brought her back to reality. “You need to pay attention,”
    he ordered her.

    “I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I was just lost in thought there for a moment. Valerie could you repeat what it was you said?”

    “Of course,” Valerie cut her eyes at Justin. “I was just running down what’s going to happen once we’re in front of the
    parole board.”

    Brandi shook her head and listened intently.

    “Justin and Nicholas are going to speak on your behalf today and they’ll be going first,” Valerie explained. “You will want
    to keep your comments short, precise and on target with our goal today,” she told Justin.

    “Which is they should release me so I can raise my son right?” Brandi asked.

    “Partially yes,” Valerie answered. “But we also want to show them that you’ve changed and that you’re remorseful.”

    Brandi scoffed at the last part, “Do you think I’m not remorseful Valerie?”

    “That’s not what she said,” Justin chimed in. “She was answering your question about what our message is today.”

    “I know,” Brandi replied. “I meant to disrespect. Who from Jered’s family is speaking on his behalf?”

    “April and Kendra will be,” Valerie told her. “They’ll go second and then the parole board will have some questions for
    you.”

    “What type of questions?” Justin asked.

    “I don’t know for certainty. They always differ from hearing to hearing. But Brandi the most important thing is to answer
    them honestly – don’t tell them what you think they want to hear.”

    “Anything else?” Brandi asked.

    Valerie smiled at her, “Be respectful to the board. Always address them as Sir or Madam Board Member,” she advised.
    “Other than that just stay as calm as you possibly can and whatever either one of you do, don’t react to whatever April or
    Kendra have to say,” Valerie warned them.
    “Your assistant is concerned because I’m barging in here both unannounced and without an appointment,” Pamela
    Bradshaw McCarty declared as she entered Sabrina’s office at The Bradshaw Corporation.

    “As I tried to explain to her I am the COO of this company and as such I don’t see why I need to have an appointment or to
    be announced – surely after ten years my reputation precedes me. Does it not Sabrina?”

    Sabrina looked up from her desk and thought to herself – typical Pamela. “She’s fine Robin, thank you.”

    “I need a favor,” Pamela declared.

    “And you think barging into my office the way you just did is how you should go about asking?”

    “Sabrina I honestly don’t have the patience or the time to argue about this one way or another with you. I need a favor and
    I want to know if you’ll help me or not.”

    “Okay,” she looked up from her computer screen and gestured for Pamela to sit. “What is that you need?”

    Pamela smiled at her, “In addition to this favor,” she began, “I also need you not to ask any questions about why I need it.
    Is that something that you can do for me Sabrina?”

    “Perhaps you should tell me what this favor is Pamela and then I’ll decide if I can meet your terms and conditions.”

    “Just keep in mind that I’ve never asked anything from you Sabrina,” Pamela reminded her. “I need to know if I could get
    copies of the newscasts from these dates?” she handed her a post-it note.

    “Which broadcast?” Sabrina asked before she reached for her desk phone.

    “The five o’clock, six o’clock and ten o’clock,” Pamela told her.

    “Hi Charlie it’s Sabrina,” she smiled. “I’m good thank you. Hey listen I need you to do me a favor. Yeah…I need some
    newscasts pulled and burned to DVD…”
    “I’m being serious,” he responded. “You have been by my side this entire time and you certainly didn’t have to be.”

    Ryan made his way back into the dining room and walked over to Josh. He straddled Josh’s chair and slowly sat down
    on his lap.

    “Who says that I didn’t have to be? You were my first love,” Ryan told him. “There’s not much a person wouldn’t do for
    their first love.”

    “I’m trying to have a moment with you,” Josh laughed.

    “So am I…” Ryan ran his fingers through Josh’s hair and he winced at the gesture.

    “Oh you’re trying to have a moment,” Josh laughed and that laugh slowly turned into a small cough…that turned into a
    much bigger, much deeper cough.

    “Josh! Joshua are you okay?”

    Once he was able to catch a breath he mumbled, “Goddamn chemo…”

    Ryan couldn’t help stifle a smile at his choice of words. “Careful you’re starting to sound like me and my potty mouth.”

    Josh shook his head and took a drink of water. “I need you to do something for me Ryan,” he managed to speak before
    another round of coughing started.
    Pamela made her way up to her master suite with the sealed envelope that Sabrina had sent over by courier. Inside were
    the DVDs that would confirm her theory that Travis was cheating on her.

    She laid the DVDs out in chronological order across her bed and picked up the first one. As the DVD player read the disk
    she sat on the edge of the bed holding the remote in her hands.

    “If you do this,” she cautioned herself, “you are inevitably opening Pandora’s Box and there is no going back.”

    There was nothing like the spoken word she thought as she hit the play button on the remote. “Pandora was always a
    conniving little bitch,” Pamela told herself.
    The plastic sheet crackled under Ryan’s feet as he walked into the bathroom where he found Josh sitting on a stool with
    his shirt off. The sight of Josh shirtless took him by surprise and if he had to guess he would say that since the chemo
    Josh had lost nearly forty pounds.

    On the counter by the sink Ryan picked up the scissors and looked over at Josh who was looking at the wall as opposed
    to the mirror.

    “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked Josh.

    “Might as well,” he muttered uneasily. “It’s going to happen sooner or later.”

    Ryan held the scissors in one hand and with the other ran his fingers through Josh’s blonde curly hair and smiled. Josh
    closed his eyes tightly. Since he’d began chemo therapy he had been with either Ryan, his dad or his mom every single
    day and never once had they seen him cry. It was only in the comfort of his bed at night that he was allowed to feel sorry
    for himself. Today, right now, in this moment would be no different.

    As the curls slowly fell to the plastic sheet he asked, “How’s Brittany doing?”

    “Um…I guess she is somewhat better,” Ryan answered. “Ethan said she’s been roaming around the house a little more
    lately. We’re just taking it day by day,” he told him never once taking his eyes off his task.

    “How you doing up there?”

    Ryan said nothing. Rather he laid the scissors on the counter and turned on the clippers.

    Tears swelled in Josh’s eyes and he realized that Ryan was going to see him vulnerable. It wasn’t about him shaving his
    head, it was the fact that he to do it all – lose his hair, shave his head, countless rounds of chemo, the coughing, the
    nausea and in that moment it dawned on him – what was it all for? For weeks he put on this façade for everyone around
    him – but in this moment, the bitter reality of it all literally fell down around him and he realized…

    “What if I don’t beat this? Ryan…what if after all of this that I still have cancer…”
    Ryan stopped the clippers and squatted down in front of Josh. “Then we’ll deal with it,” he told him. “We’ll regroup and
    figure out what the next step will be.”

    Josh drew in a deep breath and bit his bottom lips as the tears he refused to cry burned his eyes.

    “Hey…you don’t have to be so damn strong when you’re with me Joshua,” Ryan told him. “If you want to cry then you
    cry…if you want to hit something then you hit something…but you don’t have to hold it together on my account.”

    “Yes I do,” Josh answered in a rush of words. “It’s not about who I’m with or what I’m doing – it’s a state of mind Ryan. I
    have to keep myself in one set state of mind...about all of this…because if for one second I let my guard down, just like I
    did just now…”

    Josh reached for the Kleenex box and wiped his face and plastered a smile back on his face. “All right are you about
    done?” he asked choosing to ignore the momentary lapse.

    Ryan stood up and turned the clippers back on, “Almost…” he answered. He didn’t understand what had just happened
    – Josh had went from one emotion to another and back again. It made no sense to him, but he supposed that it wasn’t
    supposed to make any sense to him and he was okay with that.
    “Good afternoon everyone, my name is Adam Walker and I currently serve as the Chairman of this parole board. Today
    we will hear testimony in favor of and in support against the parole of inmate 67145, also known as Brand Kaye Pierce,”
    he began.

    “Mrs. Pierce, in February 2005, you were found guilty by a jury of your peers for the crime of vehicular manslaughter in the
    first degree, a felony upon a human being, Jered Andrew Bradshaw. Is this correct Mrs. Pierce?”

    “It is, Mr. Chairman,” she answered.

    “Mrs. Pierce, in March 2005, did the Honorable William Cleveland sentence you to fourteen years in the South Texas
    State Penitentiary for Women with the possibility of parole after seven years served?”

    “He did, Mr. Chairman.”

    “Mrs. Pierce, it is the intention of this board to hear the testimony of two members from your immediate family and two
    members from your victim’s family. Upon completion of their testimony you will have the ability to make a brief statement
    on your own behalf and answer questions from this board. Do you understand these conditions as I have explained them
    to you?”

    “Yes, Mr. Chairman.”

    “Alright,” he acknowledged. “This parole board shall now hear testimony from Nicholas Pierce…”
    “Mr. Pierce what is your relation to the inmate?”

    Nicholas looked across at Brandi and then back to the board members. “Mrs. Pierce is my ex-wife, the mother of my son
    Lewis and also my daughter-in-law, she is married to my eldest son Justin,” he told them.

    “And why are you speaking on the inmate’s behalf Mr. Pierce?”
    “I’m here because not only is she my wife, but she is also the mother of my half-brother Lewis, who is twelve years old,”
    Justin told them. “I am also here to be a voice for her friends, her supporters, her family and most importantly her son.
    What Brandi did eight years ago was an unimaginable, horrific accident that did unfortunately claim the life of a young
    man. A young man that like everyone in this room cared a great deal for. I’m here to give my wife a voice – to say the thing
    she might not otherwise say for herself,” he explained.

    “And what things might that be Mr. Pierce,” Adam Walker questioned as Valerie scooted to the edge of her seat.

    “Mr. Chairman,” Valerie stood. “I’m afraid I must interject and remind you that during the testimony from character
    witnesses that are to be no questions from the chairman or any member of the parole board!”

    Adam Walker shook his head in agreement, “Duly noted and my question is withdrawn. Please continue Mr. Pierce.”

    “When people look at my wife nine times out of ten they see the woman who was responsible for the accident that killed
    Jered Bradshaw. What they don’t see or what they don’t remember is that Jered Bradshaw was my wife’s godson,”
    Justin told the board. “He wasn’t just her victim in a car accident, he was boy that she held the day he was born. He was
    a boy that she watched grow up. She watched him graduate from junior high and high school. He was a man that she
    worked side-by-side with and mentored,” he recalled as Jodi locked arms with Andrew and laid her head on his
    shoulder. “My wife won’t tell you these things, because they hurt her. Brandi carries with her what she did every day of her.
    She carries with her the hurt and the pain she caused and she will regret her actions until the day she dies,” Justin
    looked over at her and smiled. “I love my wife…and I solemnly pray and ask this board to have mercy on her by granting
    her parole. Thank you.”

    “Thank you Mr. Pierce,” Mr. Walked acknowledged his testimony. “We shall now hear from member of the victim’s family.
    First we have Ms. April Bradshaw.”
    April stood and drew in a deep breath. She made her way out of the row where she had been setting next to Sharon. As
    she stepped into the isle Kendra reached out and took her hand.

    “Are you okay to do this April?” Kendra asked.

    “Absolutely,” she answered and then took her seat before board members.

    “Ms. Bradshaw what is your relationship to the inmate?”

    “Brandi Pierce was responsible for the death of my brother Mr. Chairman,” April told them.

    “And why are you speaking on behalf of the victim Mrs. Bradshaw?”
    Kendra adjusted in her chair and looked at each member of the board, “As my sister-in-law stated in her testimony – we
    are simply speaking on behalf of the victim, Jered Andrew Bradshaw, because he can’t speak for himself.”

    “I set here today thinking about what might have been…what if Jered and I had left minutes earlier or minutes later from
    the wedding…what if Jered and I had turned left instead of right…what if I had been driving instead of Jered…” she
    turned her attention to Brandi, “what if a drunk driver hadn’t decided to get behind the wheel of her automobile.”

    “I can understand and appreciate the testimony that Justin Pierce gave earlier, however while he may love his wife, I only
    am able to have loved my husband,” she told the board.

    “Ladies and gentlemen of the board, I have given careful, careful consideration and thought as to what I would say here
    today. I found it ironic that I would enter into this room and give testimony on why I believe that the woman who took my
    husband’s life should be given a second chance at freedom, why her family should be given a second chance to rejoice
    in her homecoming – because for my husband there will never be a second chance and for his family – for his sisters,
    for his parents and for me there will never a second homecoming for Jered.”

    “Thank you Mrs. Bradshaw,” Mr. Walker stated. “We’ll take a recess of five minutes and then Mrs. Pierce this parole board
    will hear your testimony.”