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|March 30, 2013
Written By: Josh Hawkins
Texas woman, but also that she never stopped talking. No matter where she was, who she was with or the subject -
Cricket always had an opinion that she freely shared with anyone and without reservation.
"Can you imagine how furious I was at him?" she asked Angela Bradshaw. "I told Harold Jensen that I just could not, no,
I would not believe that after everything your mother has done for this city that they wouldn't entertain the notion of moving
the election date again," she took a breath. "Can you believe that Angela? It's just downright disrespectful.
"No I can't believe that," Angela shook her head even though she was uncertain of what Cricket had just said. She stood
up slowly from her chair, "Cricket I think I should go mingle with everyone. Would you excuse me please?"
Angela moved across the living room with an ease considering how incredibly tipsy she felt. Along the way she collected
her fourth glass of champagne from one of the dozen cater waiters who had overtaken her mother's home. Clearly
everyone had moved from a state of mourning into a state of celebration where her mother's death was concerned, she
thought to herself.
"So I've been watching you from across the room," she announced her arrival. "I was wondering if it was your intent to
stand here hiding in the corner for the rest of the afternoon or if you were just trying to avoid seeing me."
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luck to have you in our family...even though technically you're not really part of the family are you?"
"My daughters are part of this family and regardless of what you or anyone else may think I will always be part of this
family," she informed him. "Lest you not forget Travis I was here far before you were ever even a thought."
"Most women I know though, once they're divorced then tend to sever all ties with their ex-husband's family...but not you.
It seems that the only thing you bring to this dog and pony show is an elevated level of drama.
"I would think that you would know by now that I'm not most women," she retorted in cold sarcasm.
"I'm quickly learning that." Travis stood from his chair and walked across the study to pour himself another drink. "You
know for the life of me Natasha I don't know what it is that you think you know about my relationship with Pamela, but
whatever it is I'm sure that you have it all wrong."
"It's not what I think I know Travis, it's what I do know," she sat down across from him. "And find it ironic that nothing ever
seems to be the man's fault. It's always the woman who is to blame for whatever has gone wrong in whatever the
situation is," she smiled. "I know that you had affair, I know that Pamela knew about that affair and I learned today after
the service that she confronted you about that affair. In fact she confronted you the same night that Andrew and Sabrina
were married didn't she?"
He was caught and Travis knew that. He stepped towards Natasha with his drink in hand and assured her, "Contrary to
what you or anyone may think I loved Pamela. I tried to make our marriage work but she wasn't interested. Pamela gave
up on our relationship and decided to fulfill the needs I had somewhere else. She stopped loving me and she's the one
who drove me into Rhonda's arms. Did you know that?"
She stood up from, "Like I said, always the woman's fault. You can stand her and preach all you want in an attempt to
justify your actions, but the fact remains you were a married man who had an affair for three years with the likes of
Rhonda Duncan. Pamela may have driven you into Rhonda's arms, but you made your own choices once you arrived
there," she turned to leave. "When it's just the two of us in a room together at least have the decency to admit the truth
He watched her walk across the room and as she neared the door he called out to her, "You're just like her. You prance
in her with your hypocritical, judgemental and sanctimonious attitude. I want you to get the hell out of my house and do it
of your own accord Natasha or I'll be forced to throw you out myself."
"Well by all means Travis tell me how you really feel," she spun around and smiled. "The only thing I have done here is
hold you accountable for your actions. I suppose that's the problem here isn't it? Why else would you compare me to
"Because you both hold me to a different standard than all the other men in your life," he said in a low and mean whisper.
"She constantly compared me to Phillip and I could never measure up and here you stand condemning me for having an
affair when Andrew did exactly the same thing. Hell at least I had the decency and respect for my wife to get a hotel room
and not screw my mistress in the bed I shared with my wife every night. Yet you parade around here like he's the king of
Natasha stepped forward and slapped him across the face. She seethed with anger as she told him, "The only thing that
you know about my marriage to Andrew is what you've heard through second hand gossip. I suggest you shut your mouth
right now Travis or you are not going to like what comes next," she warned him.
memorial? Besides I don't ever remember the two of them interacting with one another when I was growing up."
"You think Lizzie suspects something?" Josh asked. "Do you think Rodney told her he's Emily's father," he whispered.
His question had suddenly aroused old fears and uncertainties in April's mind, "Well I was only thinking that she might
be suspicious," she confessed. "It never crossed my mind that Rodney may have told her the truth up until now. Oh
Jesus! Thanks a lot Josh now I have to worry about that too..." April finished her champagne and reached for another as
one of the cater waiters passed by.
"Sorry," Josh apologized. "I didn't mean to upset you April. You know I'm just as worried as you are."
"I know you are. To tell you the truth as much as I know how it would upset the order of things around here if Rodney has
said something to his mother, what I'm really concerned about is what his sister has been up to," April admitted. "We
both know what that crazy bitch is capable of."
Josh remembered Emily's kidnapping from years earlier and sighed, "That's the truth. I love your daughter so much and I
can't imagine if anything were to happen to her. I think the best thing for us to do is find out where Katie and Rodney are
both at and what they've been up to. Then we'll deal with Lizzie if need be."
April shook her head, "Rodney and I had an understanding after the kidnapping. I'm more concerned about Katie, she
has to be our first priority. Then we can deal with Rodney and their mother." She took Josh's hand and looked him square
in the eyes and told him, "And I want you to know that Emily is not my daughter Josh, she's our daughter. Do you
understand me? You are the only father that she has ever known and that's exactly how I intend to keep it."
He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek just as his cell phone began to vibrate in his pocket. "Thank you for saying
that. It means a lot to me," he said as he reached for his phone. "This is the hospital I need to take it. Will you be okay
right here for a few minutes?"
April shook her head and decided to reach for her own phone to check her messages. She had only been alone for mere
seconds when someone sat down next to her on the sofa. "Well that didn't take long," she laughed and looked over to
see it wasn't Josh.
"Hello," she smiled.
"Hello," the man replied. "I was beginning to think he wasn't ever going to leave."
hiding for hours on end," he told her. "I was very sorry to hear about Pamela," his tone changed and suddenly so did the
mood between them. The flirty and careless vibe that she had desperately appreciated had now been replaced by the
bitter and cold truth of the matter.
"I didn't think you were going to be able to make it today," she replied. "When I spoke with Travis last night he said that
you had a prior work engagement."
"I did," Alex confirmed. "I was supposed to be at a casino opening in northern Oklahoma, but they canceled at the last
minute and I decided to catch the first plane here this morning," he explained. I hope that you're not upset that I'm here."
"Upset?" she questioned. "No of course not. Travis is your father and you have every right to be here to support him. I
would never be upset about that Alex no matter what our relationship is...was," she quickly corrected herself.
"Would it be weird to say that I'm happy to see you? That's not crossing any lines of awkwardness is it?"
"Um..." she thought for a moment, "perhaps a few," she thought for a moment of all their time together in the years gone
by. She hadn't ever truly loved another man the same way she had loved Alex. "I think if you prefaced it by saying you wish
it were under extremely, extremely different circumstances then it might not be so weird."
He shook his head, "Fair enough," he assured her. "And for the record I do hate that this is the first time we've seen one
another in what eleven years and it's at your mom's funeral. I know the obvious answer to this questions, but how have
you been red?"
Angela couldn't help but laugh at the question - only he would ask the clear obvious. "If you don't take into consideration
the last three months then I have been great. Life is good and I'm happy," she smiled. "But if you do take into
consideration the last three months then I've been miserable. Life has been a living hell," she sighed and finished off her
glass of champagne. "Enough about me though Alex. How have you been since we last parted ways? Are you still a
raging, out of control alcoholic?"
then I want you to tell me everything that happened slowly," he told her. "Tell me exactly what
you saw and exactly what was said."
April took a long drink and rolled her eyes. "How many times do you need me to tell you Josh?"
she questioned. "I've been through this with you. I had just finished talking to Jaxson," she lied,
"and I was walking back over to where my mom and Emily were waiting. That's when I see
Lizzie Russell introducing herself to my daughter...my daughter! She shook her hand and I
hightailed it over there to see what was going on."
"And you don't believe that she came for Pamela's memorial service?" he asked.
devilish, sinful grin that she first noticed about him fourteen years earlier - when she fell in love.
That grin and of course his incomparable charm. As she made her way to where he had been
standing for the last two hours, Angela couldn't help but think of all the time they had spent
together. She approached him with some trepidation, but no fear.
"Hiding in the corner or trying to avoid seeing you," Alex repeated. "Well if those are the only two
options I have...then I have to go with hiding in the corner. I can't imagine there would ever be a
time when I or any man for that matter would try to avoid seeing you," he smiled.
Angela shook her head in a subtle, but obvious way. "Oh is that a fact?"
Bradshaw announced herself as she entered the study. "I've been looking all over the house
for you. How long have you been in here? You have a houseful of guests."
"No Natasha I didn't notice," he barked at her. "Why the hell do you think I'm sitting alone in my
study? I came in here to escape the massive amount of people that have invaded my home
and if you don't mind I would like to be alone."
She closed the door behind her and responded, "I'm sorry but I do mind. I think you and I need
to have a discussion about what almost happened today at the service. Did you know that
Rhonda was going to show up? Thank God I stopped her before she made it inside."
you. I am supposed to act holier than thou around you because that is what friends do for one another."
"I'll make sure to remember that," he retorted.
"You see that you do," she smirked. "And so that we are perfectly clear about a few things before I do go. I intend to tell
Andrew, Leslie and Angela about your affair with Rhonda. I'm not going to keep the truth from them."
Natasha walked back across the study and before she left she turned back to Travis for one final blow, "Before I go
though one last thing, I think it would best if come tomorrow you tender your resignation at KJRE to Sabrina and I.
Something tells me that we won't be renewing your contract when it expires."
Travis laughed and shook his head, "You really are a vindictive bitch just like Pamela. I'm one of the most well respected
journalists in the industry and you're just going to cut off your own nose to spite your face? If you think I'm going to let you
railroad me out of town and out of my job the same way Pamela thought she was going to do with Rhonda then
sweetheart you had better think again. If you even try to terminate my contract I will make it my life's mission to destroy you
"If you think that you're capable of doing that Travis," she said with a certain level of defiance mixed with a subtle
challenge, "then bring it on!"
Travis ordered Natasha.
"Do it Travis. I dare you," she fired back at him. "Because if you though that slap across the face
was, you try laying a hand on me in an attempt to throw me out of Pamela's house and I
promise that holy hell will rain down upon you like you've never even imagined."
She took a step back and took a slow deep breath. "Andrew is the father of my children and
while we had problems in our marriage I ultimately forgave him of his indiscretions. Perhaps
had Pamela lived long enough she would have done the same with you. Although I find it
unlikely, because I was always much more forgiving than she ever thought possible."
only did it because I do the same thing."
Angela picked at her fingernails and broke eye contact with him. "Well congratulations on ten years sober. That's quite
the accomplishment. You should be very proud of yourself."
He shook his head and smiled at her passive aggressive tone, "You know despite everything that went down between us
I have never stopped thinking about you. I wish I could go back in time and..."
"Not send me to the emergency room?" Angela questioned. "Yeah I wish we could go back in time too, so that I could
erase you from my memory."
"Angela..." Alex stepped towards her. "Please don't say that. I know that I screwed up with you. I know now and I knew
then that you were the best thing that ever happened to me. No one has ever loved me the same way you loved me and
no woman has ever any remotely measured up to you."
She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't even know how I'm supposed to respond to that Alex," Angela told him as she
turned and walked back across the living room to where Cricket was still sitting.
you would at least sugar coated it a little bit."
She shook her head, "When exactly have you ever know me to sugar coat anything? My
philosophy has always been life is to short for anyone to not say what's on their mind," Angela
told him. "So are you going to answer my question or not? Are you still a drunk?"
Alex looked to the floor and the back up at his ex-girlfriend, "No I'm not. In fact I've been ten
years sober since January. I thought my father would have told you that."
"Why would Travis tell me anything about you?"
and Angela in the corner of the living, "What do you think is going on with those two?"
Andrew shook his head and leaned back on the sofa. He thought back to the night he arrived
at the emergency room where Angela had been admitted after she had took a few punches to
the face from his now step-brother. Nearly eleven years later he still wanted to put the fool
through the wall but he knew that Angela would only stop him for one reason or another. Today
though he was thankful that was a secret that their mother never was able to uncover - thank
God for small miracles he thought.
"I learned a long time ago that when it comes to Alex and Angela that I only get involved when
I'm called upon to get involved," he explained.
She shook her head in agreement. "Daddy tells me that you've been running yourself ragged
these last few months between the search for Pamela and the election. How are you holding
In the years since Isabella's father had married Andrew's mother the two of them had
established a mutual friendship with one another. Neither one of them were that thrilled when
their parents married in 2004, but eight years later they had both come to terms with it.
"You know I'm doing the best that I can," he answered. "You know mother was thrilled when I
announced my candidacy for mayor. Hell if she had her way right now I would be out on the
campaign trail right now instead of here."
gestured across the room to where Sabrina stood with a group of supporters, "who is no doubt working on your behalf.
I'm sorry that I wasn't able to make it to the wedding. I was all sit to come down and then Jeffery got chicken pox..." she
shivered at the thought.
"There isn't any need to apologize," he assured her. "If I didn't know better I would that you could make the next one but I
can assure you there isn't going to be another one."
"Oh? So you're telling me Sabrina is it for you? Despite everything she's done in the past?"
He shook his head and reaffirmed, "Despite everything she's done in the past yes she's the one." Andrew looked across
the room and smiled at her. She was the most beautiful woman in the room he thought. His heart belonged to her, he
knew this now and the only thing that made him upset was that it took far to long to realize it.
"How long are you going to be in town? Because if you're going to be in town over the weekend I can put you to work with
the rest of the family," Andrew laughed.
Isabella shook her head, "I cannot believe that you're propositioning me to campaign for you. What would your mother
"My mother? Hell she would be furious that I took today off from the campaign. She has always wanted me to follow in my
"I did tell Daddy that I would be here as long as he needed me for," she explained. "Perhaps staying through the
weekend and helping out where I can wouldn't be such a bad idea. What type of events do you have planned?"
Andrew laughed, "The hell if I know." He pointed across the room to Cricket, "You see that woman over there? Her name
is Cricket Carter-Hawkins and she's my campaign manager. A real pit bull with spicy hot red lipstick and just a dash of
Texas charm. She has events planned for the entire family starting tomorrow morning. If you're game I'll have her put you
on the schedule."
Isabella thought for a moment, "Sure why not. It sounds like fun and I guess after the way I treated your mother when she
married Daddy I owe it to her," she smiled.
silence I would've stayed in my apartment." She sat down and looked to the bartender, "Where is everyone? Why is this
place so dead?"
"Probably at Pamela McCarty's memorial services," he told the two of them. "This place is usually hopping by this time
everyday," he explained. "What can I get for you ma'am?"
She thought for a moment. The last time she had a drink was also at the wedding and that didn't turn out to well. "I'll have
a vodka tonic with a twist of lime," she told him. "And refresh whatever my friend here is having on me," she pointed to the
woman beside her.
"That's awfully nice of you honey," the woman smiled. "Listen I don't care if you sit here, but do me a favor and not
mention Pamela McCarty's name again. Got it?" Rhonda told her.
decided earlier that she wasn't going to set around the cold, quiet and lonely apartment today.
Justin had taken Lewis to Pamela's memorial service so that her son could spend time with
his best friend Emily. She slowly made her way into the lounge area. The lounge was quiet
with only one patron and the bartender in there. It was the first time since Jaxson and Jodi's
wedding in 2004 that she had been so close to any alcohol.
"Is this seat taken?" Brandi asked the single patron of the barstool next to her.
The woman looked at her and shrugged, "Nope. But neither are any of the other seats in here.
Feel free to take one of those."
anticipation of his response and half in dread. "I don't believe we've actually had the pleasure
of meeting one another. I'm April Bradshaw and you're married to my aunt."
"Yes I am," he extended his hand. "I'm Luke Stevenson, but I think we both know that you
already knew that."
"I beg your pardon?" she stood up from the sofa. "Why would I have any reason to know that. I
just told you that I don't think we've met and I only saw you for the first time this morning at the
church. Why would you presume that I already know you? Have we met before?"
Luke looked at her and laughed, "Of course we have. But when we met you said your name
was Alexa, not April."
"Alexa? You're the only person that has ever called me Alexa," she told him. "I think you must
have me confused with someone else, someone who perhaps looks like me maybe."
"I don't think so," he persisted. "No I'm almost positive that you and I met. In fact we went out on
a date together."
"Chicago. Years ago," Luke answered. "How can you not remember?"
already said my name is April Bradshaw and I've never been to Chicago. I think you have me confused for someone else
Luke." She arched her eyebrow and before she turned to walk away told him, "But welcome to the family."
in apartment ten-sixty please. I was just up at her apartment and there was no answer,"
Natasha explained at the concierge desk in the lobby of the University Courtyards.
"Of course," the bellhop told her. "However if you're looking for Ms. Duncan she's in the lounge.
I believe she's still there. I can check with the bartender if you'd like."
Natasha thought for a moment, "No that's fine. I'll check for myself."
She made her away across the lobby and into the lounge. A few more people had gathered
throughout and when Natasha finally laid eyes on Rhonda she began to make her way
towards her. It wasn't until Rhonda leaned forward that she saw her drinking companion. She
swore her eyes were making an attempt to deceive her and she took a step back.
"Brandi..." Natasha whispered to herself and first impulse was to run, but her feet refused to
move. Her entire body was frozen. She tried desperately to not only move but to understand
why today of all days she had to come face-to-face with her former best friend since her parole.
"Tasha!" a drunken Rhonda called out her name with a laugh. "Won't you come on in and join
us? I promise I won't bite too hard."
Rhonda. "This is certainly an unexpected sight. The two of you here together and from the
looks of it thick as thieves. To tell you the truth I should be quite surprised but I'm not."
and let's get this party started. Do either one of you have a suggestion on what we should toast to? How about the
memory of the dearly departed saint amongst women Pamela McCarty?"
"I would rather walk across hot coals barefoot than sat down to have a drink with either one of you," Natasha declared. "I
came to finish our conversation from earlier today and to warn you one final time Rhonda..."
"You came to warn her?" Brandi smirked. "I see you've decided to pick up where Pamela's left off. Shouldn't you leave that
to Leslie or Angela? I would venture to guess they would be far better at it than you and at least Angela follows through
from what I've heard."
Rhonda looked to Natasha and then to Brandi, "Sounds like you've had some experience with Tasha's warning shots!"
she giggled. "Do tell honey."
"Brandi and I have a long complicated relationship. The last time I saw her I told her was intent to marry the love of her
life," Natasha answered. "What she may not know is that I was successful. She doesn't know that I followed through
because Nicholas doesn't want anyone to know that he filed our marriage license before the wedding actually occurred."
"That might be but it was my name he said during his wedding vows to you," Brandi hissed.
"Fair enough. But I stand here before you today as Mrs. Nicholas Pierce and you're what Brandi?" she questioned. "The
whore who's slept her way through his entire family? I'm his wife whether either one of us likes it or not," Natasha
smirked as she noticed her drink empty on the bar top. "And here you sit with this worthless piece of trash..." she
gestured towards Rhonda, "no doubt exchange tips on how to ruin someone else's life and drunk no less. I would have
thought after everything you've done in your life a bar would be the last place you'd ever try to make new friends at."
"They can't be any worse than the friends I've had in the past," Brandi retorted.
Natasha arched her eyebrow and told her, "Why don't you do everyone a favor and go straight to hell where you belong."
She turned to leave and as she did caught the bartender's arm, "You better keep an eye on that one," she pointed to
Brandi, "there's no telling the damage she could possibly do."
Rhonda watched as Natasha left the lounge and she turned to Brandi," Damn! And here I thought she hated me, but she
really hates you!"
Brandi waved the bartender down for another drink, "Well I did kill her son."
Rhonda before she left to go home. Now she found herself only a few blocks from her house when her Bluetooth
speaker in the car began to ring.
"Hello," she answered from the button on her steering wheel. "Claire is that you?"
"Yes Natasha," Claire responded over the speak. "I just wanted to thank you again for all taking care of all the
arrangements today. The service was beautiful. I also wanted to let you know that Charles and I are going to stay at The
Southern River tonight. We need a little time to ourselves to decompress. I didn't want you to worry when we didn't come
She smiled, "I think that's a good idea. You two take care and we'll talk more tomorrow." Natasha ended the call just as
she turned on her street. In the distance she could see a parked car on the street in front of her house. As she pulled into
the driveway she paid it no mind and thought it was Claire's rental car.
Natasha gathered her items together and got out of her car. She began to make her way up the walk when she heard a
car door slam. Distracted by the events of the day she paid it no mind and continued to the front door of the house.
"Natasha..." a voice called out to her and it caused her heart to skip a beat.
She closed her eyes and said under her breath, "It can't be..." as tears filled in her eyes for the umpteenth time that day.
Natasha slowly turned around and saw him standing there on the front lawn.
"Oh my God it is you..." she gasped and dropped everything from her hands to the ground. She immediately began to
walk towards him in fast pace and then she started to run until her arms were firmly around his neck.
"What are you doing here?" she cried.
"I heard about your friend and I knew that I had to come see you," Preston told her. "I had to come make sure you were
okay," he smiled as their lips suddenly met for the first time in a very, very long time.