Previously on All Or Nothing
    “Hello Pamela,” Rhonda smiled. “It is so good to see you. How are you?”

    “Oh I’m just fine Rhonda,” she responded, never mind the fact she wanted to reach over and slap the bitch right across
    the face!

    “Rhonda is going to be working with you on the catering committee this year. I figured that the two of you had a lot in
    common, considering…”

    Pamela heard Cricket talking, but she was unable to comprehend what it was she was saying. The thought of ripping the
    gold hoop earrings out of Rhonda’s earlobes crossed her mind and that brought a much needed smile to the
    conversation.

    “Of course I know Ms. Duncan,” Pamela extended her hand. “She’s been screwing my husband for God himself only
    knows how long,” she thought to herself.

    “Pamela I am so excited that we’ll be working together. Cricket tells me you’re one of the hardest working women in the
    society,” Rhonda told her.

    She laughed, “Yes I am thrilled that Cricket paired you and I together. I think we have a lot in common and I am looking
    forward to spending as much time with you as possible.”
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Coming Soon on All Or Nothing
  •        Sabrina heads to Canton to find Natasha.
  •        Josh and April go to Dallas for his post-chemo tests.
  •        Andrew tells Angela that he kissed Sabrina.
All Or Nothing
Episode 146: Things People Say
July 11, 2012
  •        The Bradshaw Corporation CFO quit. Andrew suggested hiring longtime family friend, Jacqueline Vanderbilt.


  •        Sabrina kissed Andrew at their hotel in Chicago, he however pulled away without saying a word to her.

  •        In Canton, Natasha shared a kiss with her neighbor high school football coach Preston Crawford.
    Sabrina Davis Bradshaw surveyed the hotel room one last time, mentally checking off things in her head: briefcase,
    purse, proposal, and cell phone…everything this morning seemed to be running together. Of course the events of the
    previous night weren’t helping her concentrate. She was meeting with Jacqueline Vanderbilt Campbell – arguably one of
    the most brilliant financial minds in the country and all she could process was the fact that she had kissed Andrew the
    night before.

    “Do I have bags under my eyes?” she asked as Brayden’s babysitter Heather came into the room. “Please tell me that I
    don’t have bags under my eyes right before I’m supposed to meet with this woman.”

    “Look at me,” Heather told her. “No you don’t have bags under your eyes or if you did you managed to cover them up
    nicely.”

    Sabrina shook her head and then surveyed the hotel room one final time. “Is he awake yet?” she asked, in regards to her
    son and Heather shook her head no.

    “Okay,” Sabrina sighed, she was disappointed. “I guess I had better get a move on then. If you need anything you’ll text or
    call me.”

    “We will be perfectly fine Ms. Bradshaw,” Heather assured her. “I think we’re going to stay right here at the hotel and go
    swimming.”

    Sabrina thanked Heather one last time, made her way from her room to the elevator and once inside on the way down to
    meet Andrew, the thoughts of their kiss slowly crept back to the forefront of her mind…


    She looked up at him and now Sabrina held his hands in hers. Without any further thought she raised herself on
    her tip-toes and their lips met one another…and as she was about to run her hand through his still golden blond
    hair – he pulled away from her.


    By the time Sabrina came back to reality, she was standing in front of Andrew in the lobby of the Omni. He was dressed
    in a dark black suit with a white shirt and a navy blue tie. He looked as dashing and handsome as ever she thought to
    herself.

    “Good morning,” she broke the awkward silence between them. “How did you sleep last night?”

    “I slept just fine,” Andrew told her.

    “That’s good,” Sabrina replied as her eyes darted across the lobby of the hotel. She wanted to say something – but at the
    present moment she could think of nothing.

    “I had the concierge call the car service,” he told her, “they seem to be running late this morning.”

    Sabrina shook her head and then looked up at him, “About last night,” she managed. “I must apologize for what
    happened between us. The conversation that we had yesterday on the plane and then spending the entire day
    together…I got lost in the moment and I acted on my impulses and for that I am sorry. Furthermore, it was unprofessional
    and completely out of line.”

    “Are you apologizing for what you said last night or for the kiss?” Andrew questioned.

    “The kiss…” Sabrina told him. “Besides it didn’t mean anything,” she lied. “I was simply lost in the moment…reminiscing
    about the past and it happened, it shouldn’t have and it won’t again,” she told him.

    Andrew shook his head, “Okay then. That’s what I thought and that’s why I acted the way that I did last night. We were lost
    in a moment and you got carried away with yourself.”

    “I suppose that I did,” she admitted. “But I just want you to know that everything I said yesterday…” Sabrina paused and
    thought for a moment.

    “I know that you meant everything that you said Sabrina,” he said for her. “I know you cared a great deal for me when we
    first met – hell anyone with a brain and a heartbeat could have seen that. I just wish that I could have cared for you in the
    same way and not hurt you as much as I know that I did.”

    She looked away from him and saw the sedan pull up under the awning of the hotel. She fought against herself to not
    take him in her arms as she had done the night before – but clearly Andrew did not feel that way about her and she had
    to respect that. How ironic she thought to herself a decade later and she still wanted this man to love her.

    “Mr. Bradshaw,” the concierge arrived, “your car has arrived.”

    Andrew shook his head, thanked the concierge and looked to Sabrina. “Do you think that we can put what happened last
    night behind us and move forward with our business here in Chicago?”

    She shook her head and reassured him, “Of course we can. We came here to find a new CFO for my company and that
    is what I intend to do. Whatever happened last night was just a momently lapse in judgment,” she assured him and
    headed for the waiting sedan.
    Nicholas Pierce took a seat at the bar of The Silver Stallion. He had surveyed the place when he walked in and come
    quickly to the conclusion this would not be an establishment that he would frequent many more times. In fact the only
    reason he was there at that moment was to meet someone – a Private Investigator by the name of Jim Wilson who
    saddled up on the bar stool next to him.

    “How’s it going?” Jim asked. “You’re Nicholas Pierce.”

    “And I would suspect that you’re the Private Investigator?” Nicholas questioned.

    “I am,” he nodded slowly, “but most people just call me Jim or Wilson. One or the other will be just fine Nicholas.”

    “Do you conduct all of your meetings here at The Silver Stallion?”

    Jim looked down the bar and snapped his finger, “Hey Wendy…could I get a Bud Light when you have a minute,” he
    winked for added quickness to his order. “Did you want something Nicholas?”

    “No,” he responded rather quickly. “Do you not have an office that we could have met at Jim?”

    The PI shook his head, “My office is a one-bedroom apartment on the north side. It’s not exactly the ideal meeting place
    for new clients.”

    “Neither is this,” Nicholas looked around.

    “Listen buddy…” Jim took a swing of his beer once it arrived, “I’ve been holding meetings here for damn near twenty
    years. These people here – they know me, they’ll protect me should I ever find myself in need of protection and the best
    part about meeting here at The Stallion is that they don’t know you. Right now you are nothing more than uptight son-of-a-
    bitch sitting at the bar, not drinking and talking to an old bar fly.”

    Nicholas slowly began to understand his line of thinking and agreed to give him a chance. He had asked around and Jim
    Wilson was one of the most reputable and result driven PIs in River’s Edge. Nicholas needed him, end of story.

    “I need to find someone,” Nicholas told him, “my former sister-in-law Patricia King. She attempted to blackmail me a few
    months ago for a quite a lot of money,” he explained. “And in return she was going to give me information about a woman
    named Caroline, among other things.”

    “Where’s your former sister-in-law at now? Do you know?” Jim asked.

    “She’s at Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan,” Nicholas answered. “West 20th Street and 11th Avenue,” he gave
    him the address.

    “This woman that you want me to find does she have a last name?”

    “I’m sure that she does, I just don’t know what it is. Patricia never gave it to me. She was using whatever connection this
    Caroline has to me as insurance for her payoff.”

    Jim made some notes in small spiral notebook, finished his beer and then looked at Nicholas. “Are you telling me that
    you have no idea who this Caroline woman is?”

    Nicholas shook his head, “That is exactly what I am telling you. She could be anyone from any point in my life. My long
    lost sister, a woman I slept with in college, someone I fired back in the seventies, the eighties…I don’t know who this
    woman is and I don’t know how we’re connected. I know that this is going to be difficult, like looking for a needle in a
    haystack…”

    “You’re damn right it is,” Jim cut him off.

    “But money is no object. There’s a reason Patricia was using this Caroline as a bargaining chip and I want to know what
    that reason was,” Nicholas assured him.

    Jim made a few more notes and then asked, “Are you sure that money’s not an objection Nicholas? Because I’m not
    cheap and rumor has it on the street that you’re looking for a job my friend and going through a divorce from Natasha
    Bradshaw.”

    Nicholas shook his head and reached into his pocket. “It’s true that Natasha Bradshaw and I are going through a divorce,
    but that doesn’t have any impact on my finances.” He threw a twenty down on the bar for Jim’s beer. “The rest of that is
    just one of my ex-wives spreading vicious lies about me. I need to know who in the hell this Caroline is and rest assured
    I have enough to pay you once you find her.”
    Jacqueline Vanderbilt-Campbell was a distant cousin of the infamous Vanderbilt family of New York. However, unlike her
    relatives who carried her maiden name, she did not grow up in the lap of luxury and wealth. She grew up in the suburbs
    of Richmond, Virginia. Her father was as high school mathematics instructor and her mother a charge nurse at a county
    hospital – she was born and raised in the middle class. And it was there she would have remained had it not been for
    two very important men in her life: her late husband Richard Campbell who taught her everything he knew about the
    finance industry and made her into the woman she was today and her late mentor, the first man who saw something in
    her other than a secretary, Phillip Bradshaw.

    Indeed Jacqueline Vanderbilt-Campbell had traveled a very long road since her journey began in River’s Edge in 1958
    when she arrived at the Southern Texas Secretarial School. Today she was one of the most powerful, influential and
    brightest financial minds in the country. Forbes magazine speculated in March 2010 that she owned approximately ninety-
    seven percent ownership of the Citizen’s Security & Trust bank franchise that spanned across nine states including
    Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas.

    “Andrew you’ll have to forgive me for keeping the both of you waiting,” Jacqueline entered into her study where she found
    Andrew and Sabrina patiently waiting. “I was talking to one of my children and I just could not get off the phone.”

    “Of course Jacqueline,” Andrew dismissed her tardiness with the wave of his hand. “There isn’t a need to apologize. We
    were enjoying your beautiful artwork and allow me to say are just both very grateful for you making the time to meet with
    us.”

    Sabrina stood across from Andrew and thought she was going to throw up in her mouth if she had to endure another
    word out of his mouth. While he may have enjoyed kissing this woman’s ass, she certainly was not about to do that – it
    wasn’t how she  done business.

    Jacqueline stared at the man before and shook her head, “You are all grown up aren’t you?” she laughed. “I still
    remember when your daddy would bring you into the office...” her words trailed off as she found herself thinking of Phillip.
    She hadn’t thought about that man in many, many years and now standing before was his son – the memories slowly
    flittered back into her subconscious.

    “I just cannot get over how much you look like your father,” Jacqueline marveled as she stepped back and looked at him
    again. “I was terribly sorry to hear about your son’s death,” she continued. “I unfortunately know what it’s like to lose a
    child and it is not something that I would even wish on my worst enemy.”

    Andrew shook his head and glanced across at Sabrina, “I agree completely.”

    “Well…” Jacqueline took a seat across from the two of them, “I think we should get down to business.”

    “Absolutely,” Andrew agreed. “Jacqueline I would like to introduce you to Sabrina Davis Bradshaw the CEO of The
    Bradshaw Corporation.”

    Her mouth pulled into a sour grin and she extended her hand to Sabrina, “So this is the young woman that stole Phillip’s
    company away from his children and family?” Jacqueline questioned.

    Sabrina offered her hand to Jacqueline, “Well I see that my reputation has preceded me.”

    “Indeed it most certainly has Ms. Bradshaw,” Jacqueline assured. “Not many women achieve such authority and power
    as you have done at such a young age – I know that I certainly did not.”

    “Sabrina has worked very hard to prove herself regardless of her methods,” Andrew interjected. “In fact it is because of
    her leadership that BC was one of only a few companies in Texas to turn a profit the last two years without cutting wages
    and benefits or lay-offs.”

    Jacqueline crossed one leg over the other, “Andrew I have enjoyed seeing you again,” she smiled. “And I respect
    whatever arrangement that you and Ms. Bradshaw may have. However, I would like to speak with her one-on-one. Would
    you mind excusing us please?”

    Sabrina cut her eyes at Andrew as he stood. She felt a little squeamish and if she were to be perfectly honest with herself
    – this woman intimidated – granted Jacqueline Vanderbilt Campbell was only one of a few women that had ever done
    that.

    “I hope you don’t mind that I asked Andrew to leave,” Jacqueline said, as he closed the door behind him, “but I’m a
    straight shooter Ms. Bradshaw. I don’t waste time, because I don’t have time to waste.”

    “And I appreciate that very much Ms. Campbell,” Sabrina responded. “I believe that you’ll find you and I have more in
    common than either one of us care to admit.”

    Jacqueline leaned forward in her chair, “Andrew provided me with a high level overview of the topic of our meeting today,
    but I want to hear it from you…why are you here today?”

    “I’ve been without a permanent Chief Financial Officer for the last two years,” Sabrina told her. “We’ve had a string of
    interim CFOs but none of them have met the standards that I require.”

    “And what exactly are those standards Ms. Bradshaw?”

    Sabrina thought for a moment and quickly assessed the situation. “I need a CFO who is leader from the word go. I don’t
    have the time to hand hold someone who isn’t ready to step into this position and lead. I require anyone that works for
    me to be a team player. I do not condone nor tolerate insubordination. And I will require my CFO to anticipate my
    questions, problems, business needs and have solutions before I ask for them,” she fired. “I am by no means a financial
    expert Ms. Campbell. I know that and I think by now you know it as well,” Sabrina laughed a little to break the tension in
    the room.
    “Knock, knock!” April Bradshaw proclaimed as she made her way into Josh’s apartment sans an invitation. “I’m telling
    you what – it is hotter out there than the twelfth dimension of hell.”

    Josh looked up from his iPad and questioned, “Why does everyone just continue to barge into my apartment without
    knocking first?”

    “Oh honey,” April frowned at him, “you and I we’ve met right? I’m April, your best friend and I tend to do things like barge
    into your apartment unannounced, uninvited and without warning,” she kissed his forehead. “And you gave me a key
    once upon a time,” she smirked. “And I did say knock, knock.”

    “How many keys have I given out for my apartment?” he asked himself.

    “Besides I come bearing gifts,” she announced from the kitchen. “And by bearing gifts I mean I stole two of your favorite
    cupcakes from the dozen I bought for Emily’s sleep over.”

    “My favorite cupcakes?” Josh asked. “From the bakery on Fifth Street?”

    April appeared next to him with a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a cold glass of milk.

    “It was the least I could do for you considering that I have been completely and utterly MIA the last few weeks,” she told
    him.

    Josh pointed his finger at her, “I don’t want you apologizing for anything April. And I didn’t expect the world to stop turning
    just because I have cancer. I know that you’ve been busy with your move and your daughter and that insanely hot
    boyfriend of yours,” he smiled at her.

    April shrugged her shoulders and sat down next to him on the arm of the chair, “You are just saying that because I’m your
    best friend,” she kissed his forehead again. “And I love this shaved head look you have going on here.”

    He rolled his eyes at her and smiled. “Ryan shaved it for me a few weeks ago.”

    “Ryan?”

    “Yes Ryan,” Josh told her. “You would be so proud of him April. He’s been so supportive and helpful during the chemo.
    He’s been right here for me, right along with my parents…it’s been really great!”
    “I never doubted that you didn’t have lots of support, I’m just upset that I haven’t been here is all. For the record, I am very
    proud of him. But you are my best friend and I can’t help but think that I should have been here with you.”

    He took her hand in his and kissed it. The two of them had been through so much in their lives and together. The truth of
    the matter was he was a little upset that she hadn’t been around nearly as much as he would have liked, but her
    absence had given him the chance to grow closer to Ryan and develop something with him.

    “And you are my best friend, but talking about my cancer and my chemotherapy, which by the way is done,” he smiled, “is
    not what I want to talk to you about tonight.”

    “Oh…what exactly did you have in mind?” she giggled like an elementary school girl. “Does it involve the aforementioned
    Ryan O’Keefe by chance?”

    Josh finished his cupcake and looked up at her, “It does and before I tell you what I’m about to tell you…I need you to
    promise that you’ll be supportive and only offer up advise that I want to hear,” he forewarned her. “Do you promise?”

    “I promise,” she smiled.

    “I think I’m falling in love with him all over again,” Josh confessed.
    Jacqueline nodded her head, “I’m still trying to figure out what you are good at Ms. Bradshaw – other than lying on your
    back of course.”

    “I beg your pardon?” Sabrina gasped.

    "Please forgive me," Jacqueline immediately replied. "I shouldn't have said that. Clearly I know you only by your reputation
    and if I'm being quite honest Ms. Bradshaw I have very little respect for someone that climbs her way to the top much like
    you did."

    Sabrina collected her purse and stood up from the sofa. “I believe this meeting has just come to its end,” she informed
    her. “I can certainly assure you that I did not come all this way to be spoken to like that by someone who clearly doesn’t
    know me,” she glared down at her. “And regardless of my tactics, I am the CEO of one of the most well-respected and
    most powerful companies in not only Texas, but the entire country,” Sabrina told her. “How dare you speak to me in such
    a disgrace and unprofessional manner.”

    She walked towards the door and spun around halfway across the room. "I came here today hat in hand to have a
    conversation with you businesswoman to businesswoman because Andrew told me you were one of the best...clearly I
    set my expectations far too high."

    “Perhaps you did,” Jacqueline announced. “As I said Ms. Bradshaw I know you only by the reputation that you created for
    yourself. You ambushed Phillip Bradshaw’s company with a vengeance and that is something not easily overlooked.”

    “And because of that Ms. Campbell you thought it was in your best interest to verbally attack me and insinuate that I was
    nothing more than a common whore? Let me assure you right here and right now, you do not know the circumstance
    behind why I did what I did. And how dare you assume that you do,” Sabrina told her. “By your reputation, the one you
    created for yourself,” she mocked her, “you are one of the leading experts in business finance, yet here you stand acting
    no better than a sixteen year girl.”

    “I can assure that I am no sixteen year old,” Jacqueline’s voice was cold and razor sharp. “Perhaps our meeting is over.”

    Sabrina thought for a moment and she stepped towards Jacqueline, “No ma’am. Actually I have decided our meeting is
    over once you know who the real Sabrina Davis Bradshaw is,” she fired back at her.

    “Well excuse me,” Jacqueline laughed. “By all means do enlighten me young lady.”
    Cricket Carter Hawkins was bigger than life and richer than God. The daughter of a self-made independent oil baron
    father and a socialite mother she had made her fortune the old fashion way in Texas – through hard, honest work and
    marrying rich men, then divorcing them. A graduate of the University of Texas she married her first ex-husband in 1989,
    her second in 1994, her third in 1997 and finally her fourth and last in 2001 - she was Cricket Carter Robinson
    Hernandez Anderson Hawkins and she was a River's Edge native.

    She was however much more than a four-time married, three-time divorcee, she was a brilliant political strategist and as
    such was well respected throughout Texas and Oklahoma. Her reputation as a “Texas bitch who couldn’t keep a
    husband” could have easily defined her, but it was her work in the political arena that ultimately defined who she was.

    Cricket had worked on several local campaigns in Austin after her graduation and eventually worked her way into State
    Representative and State Senator campaigns in Texas and Oklahoma throughout the nineties. She returned to River’s
    Edge with her with her fourth husband – Perry Hawkins in 2006 to care for her father after Cricket’s mother had died.
    Since returning to her hometown she hadn’t ran a political campaign. Instead she volunteered for numerous charities
    and served as the Chairwoman of the River’s Edge Honor Society, a position that her mother had held upon her death.

    Cricket Carter Hawkins was bigger than life, richer than God and you either loved or hated her – the choice was yours.
    Pamela Bradshaw McCarty had decided decades earlier that she would love Cricket and as she entered the ballroom at
    the Southern River Hotel for the monthly Honor Society meeting a huge smile broaden across her face.

    “Well as I live and breathe honey,” Cricket took Pamela into her arms and kissed her cheek. “I am so glad that you could
    make it today Ms. Pamela. I haven’t seen you in for far too long. How are you doll?”
    “Perhaps we should invite Phillip’s son back into the room, the one that you were just fawning over like the second
    coming of Christ,” Sabrina fired. “Because that vengeance that you spoke of earlier, that was fueled by Andrew Bradshaw
    himself. Yes, I think we should let Andrew tell you how he cunningly convinced me to break him out of jail with a promise
    of marriage and then abandoned me in a Fort Smith motel with nothing more than a fifty wedding band and the clothes
    on my back.

    Sabrina crossed back across the room and stood within inches from Jacqueline. “You only think that you know me, you
    have no idea who I am, what I am made or what it is that I am capable of. I took over a multi-billion dollar company with
    nothing more than a broken heart and taste for revenge when I was just twenty-two years old. Tell me Ms. Campbell what
    were you doing at that age working the typing pool?”

    “The first thing you need to learn about me Ms. Campbell – is that you don’t come at me without having your facts in line,
    because you will regret it,” Sabrina assured her. “No one calls me a whore and gets away with it, no one!”

    Jacqueline Vanderbilt Campbell stood in complete silence. Never before had someone taken her to task the way Sabrina
    Davis Bradshaw had just done. It was somewhere between refreshing and humiliating. She had adored Phillip
    Bradshaw and everything that he not only had given to her, but for everything that he had taught her early in her career.

    “Perhaps you and I did get off on the wrong foot Ms. Bradshaw,” Jacqueline conceded. “Shall we give it one more try to
    see if we can resolve our difference and come to a mutual agreeable working agreement?”

    Sabrina shook her head, “No I don’t think that we should try any further Ms. Campbell. You made your opinions about me
    clear. I don’t need or want people like you working for me at company or in my life period. I have spent the last ten years
    earning the respect of one Pamela Bradshaw, I certainly do not need to spend the next ten with another,” she cut her
    eyes at Jacqueline and took her leave.
    April bit her bottom lip to stifle a grin, “Are you serious? You really think you could be falling in love with him?”

    Josh shook his head, “Ryan has been so amazing the last few months, especially when you consider everything that he’
    s had going on with his sister.” Josh looked at her in the eyes, “I haven’t felt like this since,” he started to laugh, “well
    since I was with Ryan the last time.”

    “Josh this is amazing news,” April beamed with excitement for her friend. “Have you talked to Ryan about all of this? What
    is he thinking?”

    “I haven’t said anything to him about how I feel and we haven’t talked about our kiss in New York either,” he told her. “I
    actually just realized that my feelings for him were something more than friendship. You are the first person I’ve said any
    of this to.”

    “Well can you tell me what exactly it is that you’re waiting for? Because I think you need to tell Ryan how you feel,” April
    encouraged him. “If you’re having these feeling then I would bet that Ryan is having them as well.”

    Josh thought for a moment. “Because I have testicular cancer,” he reminded her. “It’s not like I have lung cancer…” he
    paused for a moment and confessed aloud to her one of his greatest fears. “There are certain activities that my cancer
    could potentially impact…if you get what I’m saying.”

    April wrapped her arm around his shoulders and shook her head without saying a word. She knew what he was talking
    about, the unspoken impacts of his cancer and she understood his concerns.

    “Before I say something to him, I need to know that I’m cancer free,” Josh told her. “Which leads me to my next question
    for you and if you say no I will guilt you into saying yes,” he teased her.

    “You would never do that to me and I would never say no to you,” she assured him. “What is it?”

    “I have to go to Dallas and see the oncologist for more tests and an ultrasound now that the chemo is done. Would you
    go with me?”

    April smiled and laid her head on her best friend’s shoulders. She thought of everything that they had gone through
    together – Emily’s paternity lie, Jered’s death and her DID.

    “I would love to go with you and be there when you find out you are cancer free. Because my darling Joshy, I can feel that
    in my heart. You’ve fought this monster and I just know that you’ve won.”
    “Is Brayden asleep?” Andrew asked abroad the company jet in route back to River’s Edge from Chicago.
    They had been aboard for less than forty-five minutes and both Brayden and his baby-sitter had crashed in the sleeping
    quarters.

    “Yeah he’s out like a light,” Sabrina answered in a hushed whisper and rubbed her neck. “You look pretty tired yourself.”

    He nodded his head, “No I’m not really tired Sabrina. I’m confused on what happened between you and Jacqueline when
    I left the room.”

    She rolled her eyes, “This is going to be the last time I tell you this Andrew,” she warned, “Jacqueline turned out to not be
    a good fit for the company.”

    “Says you…” he chimed just loud enough for her to hear him.

    “Yes that’s right, says me. Because it is my company,” Sabrina told him. “She wasn’t a good fit for what we need and that’
    s the end of it.”

    “You’re awfully touchy tonight,” he fired at her.

    “No I’m not being touchy tonight. You’re being patronizing and I don’t appreciate it. You were the one who insisted that I
    come meet this woman and I did,” she said. “I wasn’t impressed and she wasn’t right for the company that I’m running.”

    “I am tired and I am ready to get home and go to sleep in my own bed,” Sabrina continued. “The last two days have been
    personally and professionally draining.”

    “Now you’re talking about the kiss again aren’t you?” he asked.

    She rolled her head and snapped at him, “Of course that is what I am talking about Andrew! Jesus! Nothing gets by you
    does it?”

    Sabrina glared at him from her seat. Why would he not just drop it she thought? She had already conceded to him that
    morning that their kiss was something that happened only in the moment and she would be damned if she went back on
    that explanation now.
    “No it usually doesn’t,” Andrew shook his head and cracked a smile, which only irritated her and the fact of the matter
    was that he loved it. “You said it was mistake, I agreed it was mistake and mistakes they happen.”

    “Yeah mistakes happen,” she said under her breath. “So if it was that…a mistake then I can trust that you’re not going to
    get home and tell anyone about it then? Because I have spent the better part of ten years proving to…far too many people
    that I am not gold digging slut. I can only imagine what people would say if they found out that our first out of town
    business trip together that I kissed you.”

    “Who exactly do you think I’m going to tell?” he wondered aloud. “My imaginary wife?” Andrew laughed.

    Sabrina closed her magazine and focused her undivided attention on the man right in front of her and with clear precision
    told him, “I don’t know who you would tell – your mother, your sister, one of your golf buddies…I honestly don’t know. All I
    am asking is that you keep what you clearly think was a mistake between the two of us.”

    Andrew thought for a moment. “The way that you keep going on about this kiss, I’m beginning to think that it may have not
    been a mistake. Were you lying to me this morning Sabrina? Do you consider what happened between us last night a
    mistake? Or was there something more to it that you’re not owning up to?”

    Sabrina smirked at him and whispered, “I honestly don’t know what I think anymore. But I would like to know what you
    think Andrew. Do you think it was a mistake?”

    He leaned back in his seat and smiled. “It could have been a mistake. And if it was that…a mistake…well let’s just say
    I'm not completely entirely upset that it happened.”
    Pamela returned the hug and the kiss. “I’m pushing through, just putting one foot in front of the other,” she told Cricket.
    “How have you been?”

    “You know I am doing the same thing you are honey,” she smiled. “And trying to survive this God awful heat,” Cricket
    fanned herself and laughed. “They say this is the hottest summer we have had here in Texas in decades. Can you
    believe that?”

    One of the primary reasons that Cricket was an amazing political campaign advisor is that she could talk and talk and
    talk…she always had something to say, an opinion on whatever was in the news and she would let anyone know it.

    “I am serious Ms. Pamela,” Cricket carried on, “it’s just down right awful out there. Hotter than the devil’s tit my momma
    would say,” she laughed as Pamela did too.

    As the two women took a seat at one of the empty tables, Pamela realized it was the first time that she had laughed since
    discovering that her husband was screwing another woman behind her back and it not only felt good, she was glad that it
    was with someone like Cricket.

    “I swear Cricket the things that will come out of your mouth,” Pamela told her.

    “Oh please. Now you have known me long enough Pamela Bradshaw to know that there isn’t a filter between my brain
    and my mouth,” she smiled. “Listen honey I have a couple of things that I want to talk to you about.”

    “Okay. What’s on your mind?” Pamela asked.

    “The first is just about the committee that I’m going to assign you to for the gala this year,” Cricket began. “I’m going to
    assign you to the catering committee and there’s a new member that I just know you’re going to love…I want you to work
    with her, mentor her and show her the ropes.”

    “I think I can do that. I’ve steered one or two of these committees before,” Pamela winked.

    “Good. I knew that I could count on you for that Ms. Pamela. The second thing is,” she lowered her voice and leaned
    closer to Pamela. “Perry and I had dinner last week with the mayor and her husband last week. Apparently, Meredith has
    decided to not seek reelection and instead she’s going to be campaigning for a State Representative seat this fall.”
    Cricket let the news sink in for a moment. “So you know what my first thoughts were when I heard this don’t you?”

    Pamela shook her head, “That you’re going to be running her campaign and you want Travis and me to make a
    donation?”

    “No!” Cricket sighed. “I mean if you want to make a donation, you certainly can, but I’m not going to be running her
    campaign. I do however know of a campaign I do want run.”

    “Okay,” Pamela smiled at her. “That’s good Cricket, but I still don’t know where I fit into all of this?”

    Cricket leaned back in her chair and surveyed the room. She saw Pamela’s committee partner enter the ballroom and
    she waved her over to where they were sitting.

    “Your committee partner just showed up, so we’ll have to talk about this a little later.”

    “Talk about what Cricket?” Pamela pressured.

    “Andrew running for mayor,” she answered her. “Listen your committee partner is six feet from us so we’ll have to
    continue talking about this another time. I just want you to know that I am serious about this.”

    Pamela stood up from her chair, as Cricket had done and heard a female voice make her arrival, “Hello Cricket. Thank
    you so much for letting me volunteer for the gala.”

    “Well we are looking forward to having you,” Cricket said, as Pamela turned around to introduce herself. However
    introductions would not be necessary.

    “Honey you know Rhonda Duncan I’m sure,” Cricket said to Pamela.
    Natasha stood in the middle of her bedroom at the cabin. Her mind raced with the thoughts of the last time she was with
    Preston – the dinner, the wine and that kiss. She wondered what it could all mean and out of nowhere it hit her!

    “You foolish women,” she said to herself in a harsh, bitter tone.

    She was doing the same exact thing with Preston that she had done when John Sterling broke her heart, the same thing
    she had done when she caught Andrew cheating on her…she was rebounding with yet another man.

    And as if a bolt of lightning had struck she jolted to the closet and pulled out the suitcase she had brought with her from
    New York City. Natasha threw it on top of the bed and began throwing things from her nightstand in it.

    “I have to go home,” she told herself. As she began to remove her clothes from the dress drawers she caught her
    reflection in the mirror. Natasha stood there for a moment holding an arm load of clothes and she repeated, “I have to go
    home.

    “If you stay then things are going to turn out just like they did with Bradley and with Nicholas…and before you know it
    you're going to be knee deep in another six year relationship with a man that you don’t love…a man that you never loved,”
    she finally admitted to herself, about Nicholas.

    Natasha turned away from the mirror and put her clothes in the suitcase. She was so lost in that moment – her mind
    filled with confusion about Preston and her heart filled with an ache that was caused from not seeing her daughters in
    months that she didn’t hear when he called out her name or entered the cabin.

    But there he stood in the doorway of her bedroom and he asked, “Are you going somewhere?”
    Pamela tied her robe closed as she made her way down the stairs. The ringing of the doorbell at twenty minutes till ten
    had startled both her and Travis. It was a rare night that he was at home and not at the station or with that other woman.

    She opened the door to find Sabrina standing on her porch. “I swear to God girl,” she sighed. “Do you not know what time
    it is?”

    Sabrina walked past Pamela and straight into her living room without another word exchanged between them. “I know
    what time it is and normally I would say that I’m sorry for just barging in like this, but I’m not.”

    “What is the matter with you Sabrina? You’re wired to high heaven and talking ninety miles a minute,” Pamela told her.
    “Sit down on the sofa and tell me what has you so upset that you barge into my home like this.”

    “I came because I need to talk to Natasha and I called Jodi earlier tonight to ask if she knew where her mother has been
    hiding. Apparently she doesn’t know,” Sabrina told Pamela. “However she did tell me that you know of Natasha’s
    mysterious whereabouts. So I came here to ask you if that’s true. Do you know where Natasha is at?”

    Pamela thought for a moment and shook her head, “I do.”

    “Good! Good! Good!” a cry of relief broke from Sabrina’s lips and a huge smile emerged. “I need you to tell me where she’
    s at. I have to talk to her tonight if possible.”

    “I can’t do that,” Pamela told her. “I made a promise to Natasha that I would not disclose her whereabouts until which
    time she gives me specific instructions otherwise.”

    Sabrina started to laugh, in an attempt to mask her sudden annoyance with Pamela. “Natasha is my best friend and I
    need to talk to her. I’m not playing games here Pamela. Tell me where she is at.”

    “And perhaps you did not hear me,” Pamela retorted, “I will not divulge that information. Natasha has entrusted me to
    keep it to myself and I have no intention of breaking that trust.”

    “Is Travis home?” Sabrina asked with a quiet, but desperate firmness. “Because if he is then I would venture to think that
    he would like to know why I had an intern pull broadcasts for his wife just a few weeks ago.”

    “Is that a humorous attempt at trying to blackmail me Sabrina?”

    She shook her head in the negative. “I am only reminding you of a time when you needed a favor and I helped you.”

    Sabrina stood from the sofa and began to pace the living room. She lowered her head and ran her fingers through her
    long brown hair. Her mind filled with thoughts of the last two days…her conversations with Andrew…the day at the
    zoo…her failed meeting with Jacqueline Vanderbilt Campbell and that kiss...that damn kiss that apparently Andrew
    enjoyed.

    “I haven’t talked to her since February. And before that we talked every day since Brandi’s trial,” Sabrina’s voice cracked. “I
    know that she is off somewhere dealing with all of the BS that Nicholas put her through…but she is my best friend and I
    need to talk to her…because now I am dealing with my own crap…”

    Pamela shook her head and reluctantly said, “The first words out of your mouth better be what you just said to me when
    you see her.”

    “You’re going to tell me where she is?” Sabrina asked.

    “Against my better judgment, I am going to do just that. She’s at the Bradshaw Cabin in Canton,” Pamela told her. “It’s
    about four and half hours north of here.”

    She turned from Sabrina and left the living room. “I trust that you can see yourself out and make sure you lock my door
    behind you girl,” Pamela ordered.
    Natasha jerked around and caught her breath. “Oh my God Preston!” she exclaimed. “You scared me to death.”

    “I called out your name a few times and the front door was wide open,” Preston told her. “I certainly didn’t mean to scare
    you.”

    “Are you going somewhere?” he repeated.

    Natasha returned to the dresser and collected the last remaining items from the dresser, “Yes. I’m going back home,”
    she told him.

    “Oh?” his voice dropped down and she could tell that he didn’t like her answer. “Is everything alright back home, did
    something happen? Or does it have to do with your visitor the other night?”

    She looked across the room. He was still standing there in the doorway of her bedroom and she thought to herself, “You
    don’t owe this man an explanation,” but she felt he deserved one.

    “I suppose that everything is fine at home, I honestly don’t know and it has nothing to do with Pamela,” she answered his
    question. “I just…I’ve been hiding here since February…hiding…” Natasha repeated. “I haven’t seen my daughters or my
    granddaughter in months and I just think it’s time that I go home and finally face whatever it is that I’ve been hiding from
    for all this time.”

    He leaned his body against the door frame and asked her the question he had tried so diligently to not ask her since they
    met. “What is it exactly that you’re hiding from? Why did you come here to begin with?”

    “It’s complicated.”
    “Yes I imagined that it was,” he told her. “But that’s not what I asked you. I want to know what made you run away from
    your life and maybe, just maybe I can help you get over it.

    Natasha looked across at him standing there and she stopped packing her suitcase. “My son died,” she announced,
    “eight years ago and the woman who was responsible for the accident that killed him was my best friend…and she knew
    she was responsible for his accident and for months lied to me about it.”

    She sat down on the edge of the bed and her back was to Preston. “She went to trial and was convicted of manslaughter
    and after the trial ended I began dating her ex-husband because I wanted to replace her in her son’s life,” she admitted
    to herself for the first time ever. “I wanted to hurt her as badly as she had hurt me for breaking my trust and my heart…and
    then earlier this year we found out she was going to be up for parole.”

    “What happened with the ex-husband?” Preston asked softly.

    “Well he’s the ultimate reason I ran away I guess you could say,” she answered him. “In January we pushed up our
    wedding date up…” Natasha slowly shook her head. “So many people questioned why I wanted to marry him…his ex-
    wife, my sister and I refused to look inside my heart and ask myself that same question, so I asked God for a sign,” she
    laughed. “I should have known better than that…”

    “Why?”

    Her laughter faded, “Because I asked God for a miracle as my son lay dying in a hospital bed and I didn’t get that either.
    But as they say God works in mysterious ways and as I stood with Nicholas, before my family and my friends…as he was
    repeating our wedding vows…he said…I Nicholas, take thee Brandi…” her words trailed off. “And just like that I had my
    sign, but it came at a price…my humility. Afterwards in my hotel suite I stood looking in the mirror and I didn’t know who
    the woman looking back at me was. I wasted six years of my life with a man that I knew from day one I didn’t love…” she
    turned and looked at him from the bed. “I was lost and confused and betrayed yet again and that’s why I ran.”

    Still standing in the doorway he told her, “You don’t strike me as the type of woman to runaway and hide from life when it
    gets tough.”

    “I didn’t runaway because life got tough Preston,” she snapped at him. “I ran away because I didn’t like the person I had
    become,” Natasha felt tears swelling in her eyes. “Since the day I put my son in the ground, I have been blinded by my
    unwavering need to settle a score…to avenge his death. That consumed me like nothing else in my life has ever done
    and then on my wedding day to be referred to by the name of the woman who killed him…I couldn’t handle that. I didn’t
    runaway because life was tough, I ran away because I was about to lose my mind.”

    Preston made his way into the room one step at a time. He could see she was fragile and all he wanted in that moment
    was to help her.

    “And now how do you feel? You’re packing to go home so you must have found the answers that you were looking for.
    Have you come to terms with desire for revenge? Do you recognize the woman in the mirror now?” he asked. “Have you
    found all of the answer that you came here to find?”

    Natasha shook her head, “I have some of those answers. But I don’t have all of them.”

    He came into the bedroom and squatted down in front of her. His eyes were the lightest shade of blue she had ever seen
    on another human being and when he smiled up at her, she could feel her heart melting.

    “I believe that everything happens for a reason Natasha,” he took her hands in his. “If you haven’t found the answer you
    came here to find then you should keep looking them. Everything that has happened with your son and the woman who
    was responsible for his death and your ex-fiancé…you need to put that behind you and move on.”

    “And just how exactly would you propose that I do that?” she asked of the man she had barely known a week.

    “When my wife died I asked my momma that same question and do you know what she said?” Preston asked, as
    Natasha shook her head. “She told me to throw caution to the wind. You came here to learn how to live again and live
    with yourself – so do that, don’t runaway again.”

    Natasha sat on the edge of the bed, with her hands in his and she reveled in the fact that this man who had known her
    less than a week understood her and what she needed far better than any other man had her entire life.

    “Say something?” he ordered her. “Do you want to throw caution to the wind or do you want to runway again? The
    decision is up to you, but I’m only going to help you do one or the other – and we both know which one I’m rooting for.”

    Masterful persuasion seemed to be his style and she wondered to herself if this was the types of speeches Preston
    gave to his football players before a big game or in the locker room when they were losing at halftime. Either way his
    words had changed her thought process and rattled something within her. Suddenly she found herself questioning…

    “And if I do throw caution to the wind…I can do all of that with you?”

    He smiled, “If you want, then yes you can. I’m a good man Natasha Bradshaw…and I would be a liar if I told you that I
    thought you should do this alone and my momma, she didn’t raise me to be a liar.”

    Natasha lightly placed her hands on his face and smiled. “You believe that everything happens for a reason?” she asked
    him and he answered with a nod of his head. “Then what is the reason behind us meeting?”

    Without looking away from her, Preston replied, “I don’t know yet. But what I do know is that I’m looking forward to finding
    out what it is,” he smiled.

    Natasha leaned forward and pressed her lips against his for a brief kiss and when she pulled away a smile emerged
    across her face – her fears from earlier washed away and she said, “All right then, let’s do it…let’s throw caution to the
    wind.”