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Puppetwrangler

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Reply with quote  #101 
That was truly beautiful,9K!
I'm so glad Zach was able to find another picture of Amelia. I thought he might have to ask Zoe for the one she cut out from the magazine.
Have a great weekend.
Lorene
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Reply with quote  #102 
OMG...you had me crying along with them!! And I never cry!!
I love, love, love it!

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Reply with quote  #103 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ninekaronas
Pack Rat Day

....  Zach opened the flat box and pushed aside the tissue paper. "Oh, I see it's laminated." As soon as the word was out of his mouth, he knew what it was. He looked up to see her staring at it. He couldn't tell by the look on her face if it was something she treasured, or despised. She looked up at him and he saw the emotion in her eyes.

He carefully replaced the tissue paper and started to put the lid back on when Kendall stopped him. "Read it," she said softly. "Kendall, I ..." he began, but he stopped when she took the box from him. She very carefully lifted the letter from the box and handed it to him. He looked into her eyes. "Are you sure?" he asked. She nodded. "Why?" She took his big, strong hand in both of hers and brought it to her heart. "Because I want to hear your voice, not mine," she said.

  9K, I can't stop crying.  This chapter is just too beautiful!  If only the writers of AMC would give us this kind of love in their stories.  9K, you really outdid yourself with this chapter.  Thank you so very much for sharing your talents with us.

Granny

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Swtpeadana

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Reply with quote  #104 
Wow, another great chapter in this story that is Zach and Kendall, I loved it so much. Made me wish the writers on the show would do some of this for them as well. You write Zach and Kendall so good. Keep up the great work, hope to see more soon.

Dana : )

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Reply with quote  #105 
OMG, Karen...what a story!!!  It was so emotional and beautiful and joyful...and all those great words and I was in tears....Thank you so much for giving us the  some of the "conversations"  we should be seeing on our tv screens!!! Looking forward to your next "Celebration"...

Roseann  
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Reply with quote  #106 
Karen, What a beautiful story you tell of Zach and Kendall and yes count me in on the crying party.  You capture every little detail so perfectly and I can picture the scene so well as if it was TK and AM acting it out.  Thank you so much for sharing your talent. 

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Reply with quote  #107 

Karen, OMG what a story.  I haven't had much time to check out the board, but everyone told me how touching this story is and I had to make a special trip to read it for myself.  It is a really touching story of Zach and Kendall's love for one another.  You've really told it well.  Thank you!


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Reply with quote  #108 

Thanks for the kind words, ladies. Seems like a while since I've posted a story on the actual holiday.

Log Cabin Day

"Thank God we're finally here!" Kendall jumped from the car the second it stopped rolling. She gulped in deep breaths of fresh air as she took in her surroundings. "Since when do you get carsick?" Zach asked as he came to stand beside her. "Since I started carrying this one," she said, rubbing the slight bulge in her belly. Zach covered her hand with his. "Goalies don't get carsick, Kendall. They're tough." "Don't tell me," she laughed. "Tell him." Zach shook his head. "Not in public." He patted her stomach, then moved to the back of the car and began unloading suitcases from the trunk.

"So what do you think?" he said, indicating the large log cabin Kendall was staring at. "It's beautiful," she said reverently. "I've never seen one so big. When you said cabin, I was thinking small and rustic. But this is gorgeous," she gushed. "Yeah, lucky for us Adam Chandler has extravagant taste," Zach said as he took her outstretched hand and followed her to the front door. "To the victor goes the spoils."

"After you, Mrs Slater," Zach said as he held the door open for Kendall. "You mean you're not gonna carry me across the threshold?" she asked, pretending to pout. "And spend the rest of the weekend flat on my back?" he said incredulously. "No thanks!" "I kind of like the idea of you flat on your back," Kendall purred. "Would that be so bad?" Zach dropped the suitcase he was holding and reached for his wife. "You win," he growled as he carried her through the open door.

Zach stood in the entrance, Kendall still in his arms, and looked around the room. There was a staircase on the right that led to the second floor balcony. Directly in front of them, on the far wall, stood a massive fireplace that served as the focal point of the cavernous room. The cathedral ceiling, with its exposed beams, rose two stories. From it hung two low ceiling fans. The furniture looked comfortable and not the least bit pretentious. The whole room was warm and inviting. Zach was pleasantly surprised.

He lowered Kendall to her feet and watched her wander around the room, running her hands over the soft leather furniture. She walked over to the fireplace and took off her shoes so she could feel the softness of the large bearskin rug. She giggled as she buried her toes in it and looked at her husband. "Who knew?" he shrugged. "It's obvious the same person who decorated this place didn't do their house. This place is amazing," Kendall said as she threw herself onto the overstuffed sofa.

"You just rest," Zach said dryly, "I'll get the rest of our bags." He heard Kendall laugh and watched her hand shoot up from the couch as she waved him off. "Will do," she said. "Thanks, honey." Zach sighed and turned away. "You're welcome," he said under his breath on his way back to the car.

He came in to find her filling a box with pictures and other personal items that belonged to the Chandlers. "Don't need to look at you while I'm trying to relax," she said as she dropped in a picture of JR. Zach smiled when she picked it up and dropped it again, this time with a little more hostility. "That guy bothering you?" he asked as he took the box from her and pulled her against him. "Not anymore," she answered with a smile, "and never again."

"God Zach, just look at this place," Kendall said, turning in his arms. "Can you believe this is all ours?" "Sure I can," he replied. "I paid $100 million for it, remember?" Zach gave Kendall a squeeze and stepped away from her. "So what do you want to do first? Unpack? Check out the lake? Or maybe-" "Eat!" Kendall interjected. "Of course," Zach said with a long-suffering sigh. He held out his hand to her and led her into the kitchen. "Let's go see what we can find for our little goalie."

-------------------------

"Now this is my idea of roughin' it!" Kendall said lazily as she snuggled up against her husband's side. They were lying together in the hammock they discovered on the back porch of the cabin. After a walk around the lake, they found themselves ready for a nap and the hammock seemed the perfect place.

"I'm glad you approve. I wasn't sure how rustic the cabin would be and I didn't think you'd be too happy with box fans and patio furniture," Zach chuckled. Kendall looked into his face and frowned. "Zach, I didn't grow up rich you know. I had to learn about the finer things in life. I'm a self-taught woman of luxury," she said with a dramatic sweep of her arm. "I bet you were a fast learner," Zach said, trying to hide his smile. "Oh, I had plenty of time," she answered, the frown returning. "I was rich in my heart long before I had the money to back it up." "I see," Zach said seriously. He watched as Kendall's face softened and the frown disappeared.

"It funny," she said softly. "I grew up thinking money was all that mattered. And now that I have it, I realize that it's the least important part of my life. I mean, don't get me wrong," she said with a laugh, "I'll take it. But it's never made me happy. Unless you count the casinos." She settled herself back against Zach as if the conversation was over. Zach lifted his head and waited for her to explain, but she didn't. "The casinos make you happy?" he asked, confused. "No, the casinos brought me happiness," she clarified. "Same thing," he said.

"No, Zach, I mean they brought me you. Not the money." She emphasized her point by jabbing her elbow into his ribs. Zach folded his arms behind his head and let his mind wander back to the day he proposed a business marriage to Kendall. If he was honest with himself, he had to admit that he cared for her even then. And he'd been intrigued by her from the moment he met her. But he never expected to find this kind of happiness with such a high-strung, high-maintenance woman. How could he have known she was so much more than that?

"We've come a long way, haven't we?" Kendall said, her thoughts mirroring his own. Zach turned to find her watching him. He nodded and pulled her to him for a kiss. "And they said it wouldn't last."

-------------------------

"That was the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen," Kendall said as she walked arm in arm with Zach back to the cabin. "The way the colors played off the water ... it was just ..." "Just what," Zach asked when her voice trailed off. "Perfect," Kendall finished, stopping to take one last look at the lake. Zach put his arms around her waist and pulled her up against his chest, enjoying the quiet. "You know my favorite part?" he said after a few minutes. "What?" "The mosquitos," he said sarcastically, slapping his arm for emphasis. Then he turned and continued toward the cabin.

"Zach, don't ruin my romantic moment," she cried as she ran to catch up with him. "I didn't ruin anything. The mosquitos did," he said over his shoulder. "Well, I told you to use the bug spray." "Kendall, did you smell that stuff? I'm not gonna walk around smelling like that." Kendall raised her arm to her face and took a deep breath. "Smell like what?" she asked, growing agitated. Zach had reached the back door and disappeared inside with Kendall right on his heels. "I don't appreciate-" she began, but stopped when she ran into Zach's back.

"What the-" she grumbled. She was surprised at the tension she sensed in him. "Okay," she said, "so the bug spray stinks. I'm sorry." He shook his head, but didn't look at her, forcing her to walk around him so she could see his face. He was angry. "Zach?" she began, only to stop when her eyes followed his gaze ... and landed on Ryan Lavery.  She gasped, which seemed to snap Zach out of his trance. He turned to give her a "can you believe this?" look before walking over to stand in front of Ryan. He buried his hands in his pockets to be sure he wouldn't do anything that might get him arrested.

"Did I show up on your honeymoon?" Zach asked in a low, agitated voice. "Hey man, I didn't know you'd be here. Babe didn't say anything about it," Ryan said, his arms raised defensively. "Babe? Why would we tell Babe?" Kendall said from behind Zach. "We're trying to disappear for a few days, Lavery. I thought announcing our whereabouts might just result in unwanted guests," Zach said, tilting his head for effect as he glared at the unwanted guest in question.

"Look, Babe said the Chandlers never use this cabin and nobody would even know we were here. This is the last place I thought you guys would be. A couple of gazillionaires like you? I was picturing a luxury suite somewhere where nobody speaks English." "We?" Zach said, rubbing his face. Before Ryan could answer, the door opened and Annie walked in carrying Spike. Emma came in behind her and ran immediately to Ryan, who put her on his shoulders. Zach growled in frustration while Kendall looked on.

"Ryan, this is our cabin now and you have no right-" She stopped talking when Zach held up his hand. "No, it's okay, Kendall," he said calmly. "Time for a new picture, Lavery. Picture you, Annie and Emma back in your car headed for ... I don't care where you go, as long as it's away from here." Zach folded his arms across his chest and waited for Ryan to move. Instead of Ryan leaving, he looked over at Kendall, who had crossed the room to take Spike from Annie.

"Seriously, Kendall. I didn't think you were the rustic type. You never seemed to like being outdoors," Ryan said, completely ignoring Zach's mounting frustration. "Maybe you never planned the right outdoor activities," Zach mumbled under his breath.

"Why does everybody think that?" Kendall said, her voice sharper than she intended. "I wasn't raised in a wealthy home." "She's self-taught," Zach interjected. "In fact," Kendall continued, "this place would be considered pretty fancy to Bill and Alice Hart." Zach stood glaring at Ryan while Kendall lectured him about her humble upbringing. When she was finished, the room fell silent.

"We brought food," Annie said in an attempt to ease the tension. "Anybody hungry?" "Starving!" Kendall and Ryan said in unison. Zach gave Kendall a look before turning back to Annie. "Great! I'll whip us up some dinner," she said as she hurried from the room. "Stop!" Kendall yelled. "The only thing you need to whip up is the keys to your car. The Lavery family is outta here." She glanced up at Zach and muttered, "I wonder how long before Greenlee shows up."

Annie snorted. "Greenlee! Oh no, there's no way in hell she - " "Hi everybody. Sorry I'm late," Greenlee said as she sailed through the front door like Scarlett O'Hara. Kendall watched Zach's jaw clench. She handed Spike to him when Greenlee came closer. The look on Zach's face told Greenlee to keep her distance. She told herself to be patient. The night was young. She had plenty of time to bond with Spike.

"What the hell?" Annie yelled. "Damn you, Ryan! You promised this would be just family." "But Greenlee is family. How many times do I have to say it?" Ryan said emphatically. He lifted Emma from his shoulders and walked over to Greenlee. "I'm sorry," he began in a low voice, but not low enough. "Don't you dare apologize to her!" Annie screeched. "I don't need you to speak for me, Ryan Lavery." She picked up a small vase from an end table and threw it at her clueless husband.

"Now wait just a damn minute!" Kendall said. "If you want to hit Ryan, that's fine. But don't break my stuff." She circled the room removing breakable items from Annie's reach while the current Mrs. Lavery and the former Mrs. Lavery waged war. Ryan stood between them, trying to agree with both of them.

Nobody seemed to notice that Zach and Spike had left the room. Unbeknownst to the group, he had carried his and Kendall's bags back to their car. Fortunately they had never taken the time to unpack. He winced as he stood on the porch and listened to the bickering going on inside. "Well, Spike, are you ready to make a run for it?" he said to the chattering child in his arms. "Ma-ma," Spike said, his wet fingers soaking Zach's face. "Don't worry, I'll get her. We can't escape without her, now can we?"

Zach poked his head in the door and peeked around the room. He found Kendall sitting on the hearth, her head in her hands, looking dejected. He stared at her, trying to figure out how to get her attention without alerting the others, when she looked up at him. He winked at her and motioned for her to join him. She practically ran across the room, desperate to escape the noisy intruders. Closing the door behind her, she joined her husband and son on the porch, smiling as he whispered his plan in her ear. 

Only Emma noticed the door opening a crack and one long thin arm reaching in to retrieve Spike's diaper bag. She pulled on Annie's sleeve, but was told to go play with Spike. She walked to the window and watched as the Slater family drove away.

"I can't wait to see what our new beach house looks like," Kendall said, tucking her legs under her and settling in for the long drive. "You do look good in a bikini," Zach said as his eyes traveled over her body. "Maybe I used to," she said with a glance at her diminishing waistline. "Kendall, you have never been more beautiful than you are right now." Zach pulled her to him and kissed her softly. "Right Spike?" he said to the reflection in his rearview mirror. "Ma-ma," the boy babbled as he reached out for Kendall.

Zach noticed that Kendall was near tears and reached for her hand. "It's okay," she said with a watery smile. "It's probably just the hormones. Or maybe it's because I'm the luckiest woman in the world." She watched as Zach brought her hand to his lips, then grinned at him. "I love you too," she said.

She reached for Spike's diaper bag and began to search through it's contents. "I guess we'll need to stop and get some sunscreen," she said absentmindedly. "Oh Kendall," Zach whined, "have you smelled that stuff?


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zendall44

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Reply with quote  #109 

Karen, you write the BEST stories!  Thank you so much.


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Reply with quote  #110 
Karen, thanks so much!  Great story....as always....
Roseann
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Reply with quote  #111 
Great story, Karen....Thanks for sharing.

Can you find a way to get rid of Greenlee?

Take care,
Bonnie 
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Reply with quote  #112 
9K,

I think you have been watching too much AMC!  LOL  You have been brainwashed that we can't have Zendall without Lannie!  And now Greenlee?   

Cute and up-to-date with the current story line.  Wow!  It is great having your fertile mind in print again. 

Thanks for the "short" morning read. 

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Reply with quote  #113 

This was fun to read.  I have missed your wonderful stories, Karen.  Good to see you are writing again.  Yes, like Bonnie said, can you please find a way to get rid of Greenlee, and may be Ryan too, LOL?


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Reply with quote  #114 
((((((((((((Karen)))))))))))))
What a lovely way to start the day! Thank you soooo much.

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Ande

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Reply with quote  #115 



Thanks for the treat - loved it

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Swtpeadana

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Reply with quote  #116 
Thanks for another great story with the Slaters our favorite couple in all of Pine Valley. Hope to read some more soon. Loved it..

: ) 

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Reply with quote  #117 
Just a little fluff to see us through a hard week.
 
National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

“Zach! What are you doing here?” Kendall heard the elevator doors open, but she was too engrossed in the new campaign to look up. Somebody else would just have to deal with whoever it was. At least that’s what she thought until the unmistakable scent of her ruggedly handsome husband assailed her senses. She turned to find him licking one ice cream cone and holding a second one out to her. “Here,” he said between licks. “Hurry, before it melts.”

“Honey, not that I’m not glad to see you, but why are you bringing me ice cream in the middle of the day?” She quickly licked around the edge of the cone in an effort to keep the ice cream from dripping down her arm. When he didn’t answer, she looked up to find him staring at her, mesmerized. She arched an eyebrow and circled the cone again, just to see what he would do. He continued to stare.

When she had stemmed the tide of melting ice cream on her own cone, he held his out to her and gave her a wicked smile. She ran her tongue around the outside edge of his ice cream cone, deliberately licking his fingers in the process. She heard his sharp intake of breath and laughed. He then devoured his ice cream, cone and all, in three big bites.

With crumbs on his mouth and lust in his eyes, he studied her. But only for a second. She watched in horror as he took her cone from her hand and threw it into the trash. Then he took her face in his sticky hands and devoured her.

“God I miss being married,” Babe said as she entered from the break room. Kendall reluctantly pulled away from Zach and wiped the lip gloss from his mouth, smiling over the fact that the crumbs were gone. And they had been delicious! “Babe, if your husband was anything like mine, you’d still be married. Unfortunately, you can’t miss what you never had.” Babe simply nodded. She knew she couldn’t argue with that.

“So, what’s with the ice cream?” Kendall repeated as she turned back to her husband. “Don’t look at me like that, Zach. It’s the middle of the day and I’m really busy.” She couldn’t suppress a giggle when he started to pout. “Okay. Rain check,” he muttered as he gave her another kiss and a growl. “I'll bring the hot fudge,” he said into her ear. Her knees buckled, but he caught her.

“Don’t you ever check that wacky calendar you gave me?” he said in a louder voice. “It’s National Vanilla Ice Cream Day today, so I thought I would treat you. I didn’t really expect it to be a surprise.” “Oh it was a treat … and a surprise. Thank you, honey,” Kendall said as she took him by the hand and pulled him toward the ladies room. “Come on, let’s go wash our hands.” “But I thought you were too busy,” he grinned. Babe smiled at the couple as they walked around the corner and out of her sight.

“Alone at last,” Zach said as he pushed Kendall into the ladies room, waiting only long enough for her to be sure it was empty. “I’ll only need a few minutes.” She laughed as she slapped his hands away from the buttons on her blouse. “No, you won’t. That’s why it will have to wait. Later. I promise,” she said as she gave him a kiss and quickly backed away. “So we really did come in here to wash our hands?” he asked.

-----------------

“Oh, good. You’re home.” Kendall walked in to find Zach and a pajama-clad Spike sitting on the couch watching ESPN. "I've been waiting for you," Zach said as he stood to greet her with a kiss. "I was afraid you were gonna stand me up." "Me? Never. I've been thinking about you all afternoon. Did you bring the hot fudge?" Zach's eyes went black. "Uh-huh," he nodded. "And whipped cream." Kendall licked her lips without even realizing it. Zach realized it. He bent his head and traced the path her tongue had made before claiming her mouth for a real kiss.

Kendall gave into the kiss for a minute, then remembered they had an audience. She stepped out of the circle of Zach's arms and went to pick up her son. "Here, let me," Zach said as he lifted Spike. "You shouldn't be picking him up while you're pregnant. He's practically a man now." Kendall ignored him and gave her son a squeeze as she took him from Zach, then tumbled onto the couch with him in her arms. "Okay, Zach, you win. Maybe he is a little heavy." "See," he said as he lifted the boy off of her. "Who wants ice cream?"

"More ice cream?" Kendall said as she struggled to her feet. "Am I not fat enough for you, Zach?" "You are not fat. You're beautiful. And as soon as Spike goes to bed I'll show you just how beautiful. But for now, sit down and relax and I'll get us some dessert. It's a holiday," he added when she started to protest. Then he put her feet up, sat Spike beside her and headed for the kitchen.

Zach came back a few minutes later to find both mother and son sound asleep. He placed the tray on the table and lifted Spike into his arms. After carrying the boy to bed, he came back for Kendall. Only she was no longer sleeping. She was eating the sandwich he brought her. "How did you know?" she asked between bites. "Lucky guess," he said dryly. She offered him a bite, but he declined. "I ate with Spike," he said as he sat down beside her and pulled her legs across his lap.

"This is nice, Zach," Kendall said, finishing off the glass of milk at his insistence. "I've missed nights like this, just the two of us. When's the last time we celebrated one of these crazy holidays? What happened to our plan to make everyday a celebration?" "Well, lets see. We were too busy for Workaholics Day. And I wanted to celebrate Fool's Paradise Day, but you said it just made you think of Greenlee. Remember?" She nodded and laughed. "Then there was National Nude Day. As I recall we celebrated that one vigorously."

Kendall noticed Zach's hand was climbing higher on her leg. Zach noticed Kendall was blushing beautifully. They were both lost for a moment in their memories of National Nude Day, until Zach cleared his throat. "Of course we could have celebrated Rat Catcher's Day, but again, it just reminded us of Greenlee. So we declined. Which brings us to Vanilla Ice Cream Day." Kendall suddenly repositioned herself to sit on his lap. "Which brings us to hot fudge," she said.

"Exactly," Zach agreed as he offered her a large bowl of ice cream. "Say when," he said as he started to pour hot fudge over the top. "Kendall? Say when," he repeated when the ice cream was fully covered and the chocolate sauce was pooling in the bowl. "I will, when I've got enough," she said shyly. Zach added whipped cream and a cherry to her bowl then sat back and watched her eat. "You're not having any?" she asked when she finally came up for air. "I thought we'd share," he said, holding up his spoon and trying not to laugh. She had wolfed down nearly the entire bowl. "Sorry," she grinned. "The baby likes ice cream." Zach laughed as he pulled her closer. "I can see that." Then he took the bowl from her and set it on the table.

"But I'm not finished," she began. "Neither am I," he said against her neck. "In fact, I'm just getting started." Kendall looked down at her belly and said, "You should see what your daddy just did. No, don't kick me. It's his fault!" Zach covered Kendall's belly with his large hands and marveled at the feeling of his baby kicking. He never got tired of it. It humbled him, and it reminded him of just how much he had to be thankful for.

Zach stood up and lifted Kendall into his arms. "Come on, Mrs. Slater. It's time for bed." "But I'm not tired." "Who said anything about sleeping?" he said as he headed for the stairs. "Wait!" she cried. "Aren't you forgetting something?" He smiled and walked back to the table. "Get it," he instructed as he bent over so she could reach it. Kendall grabbed the hot fudge and then reached for the whipped cream. When she saw the look on Zach's face, she explained. "The baby likes whipped cream." Zach laughed as he turned off the lights and started up the stairs. "So do I, Kendall. So do I."


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zendall44

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Reply with quote  #118 

Karen, thank you so much!!  This was just 'DELICIOUS'!


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Reply with quote  #119 
What a great way to start my morning!!  Thanks, Karen...  I really enjoy all your "stories"  ...you should be writing for our favorite couple on screen, too!

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Reply with quote  #120 
Deliciously nasty!    9K, you're precious!  You get our imaginations wandering in the nicest directions!

Thanks! 

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9K, this story was as delicious as Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream   Thank you for reviving this thread.  It is nice to read these stories with so much heart ache in the current s/l on AMC.  Now, can you give Zach some flashbacks of the Nude Day?


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Reply with quote  #122 
Thank you 9K! Your stories are so entertaining and it's nice to laugh along with the Slaters rather than crying with them like I am on the current storyline. I look forward to the next holiday they'll be celebrating.
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Reply with quote  #123 
This story picks up where yesterday's show left off, but it ends very differently. Personally, I like my version better. (The Gena thing is a bit of an inside joke. She's a friend from another board.)
 
National Toasted Marshmallow Day

"Why are you still here?" Kendall asked as she stepped off the hospital elevator and ran into her husband. "I decided to wait for my wife," Zach replied, watching her closely. "To see if she borrowed someone else's baby?" Zach stuffed his hands in his pockets, saying nothing. "Don't worry. I don't need anyone else's baby. I have two perfectly beautiful ones of my own," Kendall said with a reassuring smile. "And a damn fine husband, too," she added as she ran her finger down his chest. "So let's go, let's get out of here."

Zach smiled, but he knew there was something she wasn't telling him. He looked down at the folder she was carrying. "What's that?" Kendall looked at the files, secretly wishing he hadn't noticed. She knew he wouldn't approve. But she had to do what she thought was best for her son. "Um, Spike's medical records ... for his pediatrician. He needed them." Kendall's nervousness wasn't lost on Zach, but he decided to let it go for now. He knew the pressure she was under and the last thing he wanted to do was add to that. After silently vowing to keep a closer eye on her, he threw his arm around her shoulder and led her away.

"You know what?" Kendall said when they'd reached her car. "I don't feel like a party tonight. What do you say we just head home instead?" Zach's face registered surprise, then relief. "Party of two? I like that much better." He bent down to kiss her, then said into her ear. "I'd much rather spend the evening alone with my wife than stuck in a crowded bar with Tad Martin. And Junior," he added with a shudder. "But wait. What about Ryan and Annie?" Kendall had already forgotten about their house guests. "Gone," Zach said. "They're in Chicago. Won't be back until tomorrow."

Zach's heart melted at Kendall's reaction. She was beaming. "Gone all night?" she repeated, thrilled at this turn of events. "Uh-huh," Zach grinned. Then he grew serious. "But I thought you wanted them to stay with us. Didn't you?" Kendall placed a hand on his chest. "God no, Zach. I want Spike, not Ryan and Annie. This just seemed to be the only way." She shook her head and laughed up at him. "Why would I want Ryan living in my house? You think I want to see that over the breakfast table every morning?"

Zach shrugged, made a mental note to get Lavery out of there as soon as possible, and opened Kendall's car door. "As long as you're there, I don't care who else is at the table. I don't notice." Kendall stroked his face as he leaned in to give her a quick kiss. "I'll follow you," he said as he closed her door and walked to his own car.

Just a few minutes earlier, he'd been concerned about Kendall's emotional state. And now she seemed back to normal. Zach rubbed his hands over his face as he sat in the driver's seat. Maybe she really was okay. Maybe all she needed was a little more time and a lot more rest. And all the support he could give her. With the decision made, he cranked the car and pulled out behind her. He was suddenly very anxious to get home.

-------------------------

"What happened to you?" Kendall said as soon as Zach walked in the door. "I thought you were right behind me." Zach held up the bag he was carrying. "I had to make a quick stop," he said as he handed her the bag. She peeked inside, frowned, then looked up at him. "What's this? Are we having a Girl Scout Jamboree?" Zach cocked his head to the side and stared at her, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "A what? Jamboree did you say? Uh ... no. I don't think so. I'm not sure." It was obvious he had no idea what she was talking about. But, then again, why should he, Kendall thought. His life growing up as the heir to the Cambias fortune was very different from hers as a high-strung little girl in small town Florida.

"Never mind," she said. "Just tell me why you stopped off for ... marshmallows?" She once again peeked in the bag to be sure she had really seen what she thought she saw. "Yeah, marshmallows," Zach said defensively. "I know we haven't had much to celebrate around here lately, but today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day. And we are here alone, just us and Spike. Well, we will be when Rachel leaves," he added. "So I thought we'd try to regain some of the normalcy of our lives, which includes celebrating these weird holidays. You up for it?" he asked, suddenly worried he'd made a mistake.

Kendall looked at him for a long moment, but Zach was unable to read her face. Was she happy? Upset? Angry? Maybe she just wanted to go to sleep. He wasn't sure. "Look, Kendall," he began as he took off his jacket, "if you don't want-" His explanation was brought to an abrupt end by her kiss. She dropped the bag she was holding and threw her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. Zach held Kendall's face as the kiss deepened. He wrapped his arms around her when she laid her head on his chest.

"So does that mean you approve?" he asked, his voice low and gravelly. He would gladly hold her forever. But she had other plans. She stepped out of his arms and took his hand, leading him around the fireplace and into the living room. She smiled when she heard Zach's indrawn breath. The room was filled with candles. On the floor in front of a crackling fire sat a chilled bottle of sparkling cider and two glasses. Only now did he notice the music that was playing softly in the background. He let out a contented sigh and turned to Kendall.

"Rachel is already gone and Spike is fast asleep. Looks like we had the same idea. Do you approve?" she asked. The look in his eyes said it all. He couldn't wait another second to touch her. To feel her touching him. With all that they had been dealing with in recent weeks, not to mention her c-section, they hadn't been together for a long time. But he never stopped wanting her ... needing her. And he'd never needed her more than he did right now.

He lifted her into his arms and lowered her onto the rug in front of the fireplace. As he came down beside her, he felt his control slipping. And when she unbuttoned his shirt and started raining kisses across his chest, he was a goner. The last thing he remembered was hearing her whisper, "I need you, Zach." Then he was lost in her, and he never wanted to be found.

-------------------------

"So, what about those marshmallows?" Kendall asked as she went to retrieve the forgotten bag that was still laying on the floor in the foyer. She and Zach had replaced suits and heels with jeans and pullovers. After an evening of making love in front of the fireplace, they were both relaxed and happy. Zach couldn't help but notice that the light was back in Kendall's eyes. Things were finally getting back to normal. After a quick call to check on Ian, he settled himself beside Kendall as she sifted through the items in the bag.

"So I guess we're making s'mores," she said matter-of-factly as she pulled out a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers and some chocolate bars. "S'mores?" Zach asked, clearly lost. "Oh my God, Zach. Don't tell me you've never made s'mores." Kendall was incredulous. Zach just looked at her. "Man, you sure had a neglected childhood, didn't you? Of course, I can't exactly see Alexander Cambias Sr. and his boys making s'mores around a campfire." Zach shook his head. "Not likely." "Well, honey, today is your lucky day." "I know, I remember," he said with a smile.

A thought suddenly occurred to Kendall. "Zach, if you've never made s'mores, how did you know what to buy?" Zach looked up from stoking the fire. "The girl at the supermarket told me if I was buying marshmallows, I'd definitely need this other stuff. She was even nice enough to show me where everything was."

"Uh-huh," Kendall said. "I bet it was Gena, wasn't it? That girl is such a flirt. You'd think a woman with three small children at home would be too tired to hit on the male customers, wouldn't you? Maybe I need to give Bob a call sometime." When Zach looked confused, she explained. "She just wanted an excuse to follow you around the store." Zach looked at her like she'd grown an extra head. "Why?" he asked.

"Don't play innocent with me, Zach. You know you're gorgeous. I'm sure women come on to you all the time." Zach puffed out his chest and smiled arrogantly. "Oh, well. I don't know," he mumbled. Kendall was not fooled. "From now on, I'm not gonna let you out of my sight." "Okay with me," Zach said, still smiling. "And you stay out of that supermarket," she ordered. "Alright. And next time we order pizza, you can hide around the corner so I won't have to watch that pimply-faced kid ogle my wife." "Deal," Kendall said, holding out her hand. Zach shook it, then kissed it. "Now, back to the s'mores. The girl at the store, Gena," he added, only to see Kendall's eyes narrow, "she said you could make this stuff in the microwave."

Kendall rolled her eyes. "Of course she did. No more Gena on Kendall's time, please," she said, punching Zach when he dared to laugh. "And yes, you can do it in the microwave. But it's not National Microwaved Marshmallow Day, now is it? Besides, if the marshmallow doesn't catch fire, you didn't do it right. Come on, I'll show you."

Kendall spent the next 20 minutes teaching Zach the fine art of s'more making. She couldn't remember when she'd laughed so much. Even when times were good, she and Zach never had much time to just hang out. And she found that she loved spending time with him. Nobody had ever made her happier. Despite Greenlee's claims, Kendall realized that Zach was really her best friend. She felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

"So this is a s'more," Zach said as he wolfed down his second one. "Gimme s'more." Kendall groaned. "What? No good?" he asked. Kendall shook her head and handed him another one. She noticed he had chocolate on his mouth and pounced on the opportunity. She licked it off his lips, then kissed him. "Gimme s'more of that," Zach muttered as he pulled her back to him. Kendall leaned into him and enjoyed the kiss, until she heard the sound of someone clearing their throat. She and Zach simultaneously turned to the sound. Zach cursed.

"Oooh, s'mores!" Ryan said as he helped himself to the one Kendall was still holding. Annie at least had the decency to look embarrassed. But not Ryan. He was oblivious as usual. "Sorry to interrupt, guys," she said apologetically. "Things didn't go well in Chicago and we just wanted to come home." "Home. Right," Zach said, his voice not masking his irritation. "Look, we'll just go to our room," Annie said. "Go back to whatever you were doing and pretend we're not here. Come on, Ryan." "But why," Ryan asked. "We're all up anyway, and I'm not tired. How about a game of Yahtzee?"

Zach glared at Ryan in heated amazement. Kendall stared at him with her mouth open. Annie looked like she wanted to fall through the floor. "Please, Ryan. Can't we just go to bed. Zach and Kendall clearly want to be alone." Ryan looked from face to face, still not catching on. "Alone for what? They're in the living room, for cryin' out loud. So how about it? Yahtzee anyone?" Annie tugged on Ryan's sleeve in a futile attempt to pull him out of the room. Zach took pity on her. After a long sigh, he stood up and helped Kendall to her feet.

"No, it's okay. You guys can stay," he said as he rubbed the back of his neck. He looked at Kendall, who was still trying to figure out how everything had gone so wrong so quickly. She wanted things back the way they were, dammit. She wanted to make s'mores with her husband. She wanted to kiss him and laugh with him and feel his arms around her while he made love to her. She sure as hell didn't want to play Yahtzee with Ryan Lavery in the middle of the night. She looked at Zach, words trapped in her throat, and relented. She could see that he felt the same way, but what could they do? Zach nodded, knowing exactly what she was thinking, and glanced at his watch.

"I'm gonna call and check on Ian," he said as he turned to leave the room. Kendall spoke at last, and her words stopped Zach in his tracks. "Why don't we drive over to the hospital and visit him?" she asked. Zach wasn't sure he heard correctly. He turned to look at her, his eyes hopeful. There were unshed tears in her eyes that matched his own. "That's a great idea," he said as he gathered her in his arms. "We'll be back later," he called over his shoulder as he held the door open for Kendall.

Thirty minutes later they were standing outside the NICU, staring at their sleeping son. Kendall opened the small sandwich bag Zach had brought from home and handed him another s'more. She took the last one for herself and held it up to her husband. "Happy National Toasted Marshmallow Day, Zach," she said. He touched his s'more to hers and stuffed it into his mouth. "Same to you. Now let's go tell our son goodnight."

Kendall finished hers off and wiped her fingers on her jeans before taking Zach's hand and following him into the room where their precious baby boy was sleeping. She knew there were still battles to fight, for both of her sons, but today felt like a fresh start. Today they stopped dreading death and started celebrating life once again.


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TKfan144

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Reply with quote  #124 
Gimme S'more...

What a great way to go to a 3 day weekend.  I can absolutley picture this happening and boy what a show that would be.  Ryan, WHAT A DORK! I could picture that one also.

Thanks for your great work, I have loved reading and picturing in my mind all that you have written.

Keep up the great work and keep these awesome stories comin!
Ann

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Reply with quote  #125 

Karen.....as usual, I love it!


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Ann
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Reply with quote  #126 
That was just delicious--9K! And it was the perfect way to "end" summer on this Labor Day weekend. I only wish my hubby were here to share toasted marshmallows and s'mores with. Thanks for sharing once again!
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Reply with quote  #127 

Thank you Karen!  Wonderful story -- and I like your ending better, too.


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This one got kinda long, so I'm posting it in two parts.
 
Dear Diary Day

Kendall curled herself into a ball in the middle of the black leather sofa and picked up her pen. While doing a little cleaning in her bedroom, she came across her diaries. Once upon a time, she had been very diligent about writing in it every single night. She thought it was important to get her thoughts down on paper while they were still fresh, and before anything came along to skew her view.

Over the years, every night turned into every other night, then a couple of times a week. Now she had a husband and two small children, so a couple of times a week had turned into ... well, never. But today was different. Today she had the house to herself and her whole day was free. Spike was with his father and Ian was still too small to leave the hospital. But, thanks to Zach, Ian-Cam was up and running.

Zach. A melancholy smile played at the corners of her mouth. She missed him. Even though they lived in the same house, slept in the same bed, shared breakfast every morning and made love in the middle of the night, she missed him. Sick babies and psycho friends had taken their toll on Team Slater. They were bruised, no doubt about it. But they were still in the game.

Only now, because of all the time he'd missed at both Cambias and the casino, Zach was working long hours and weekends. And because he always went by the hospital to visit Ian on his way to and from work, it meant he wasn't spending much time at home.

Kendall smiled when she remembered the way Spike's face lit up when Zach came home. At first she would beg him not to wake Spike up, but he always did. He said it was the only time he had to spend with him and he couldn't let it pass him by. He didn't want to come home one day and find the boy had grown up while he wasn't looking.

Spike was always cranky at first. But as soon as he saw who was holding him, everything would change. He missed Zach as much as she did. And she knew Zach missed them, too. Of course, that didn't keep her from holding Zach to his promise. "You wake him up, you get him back to sleep," she'd said matter-of-factly, and Zach had readily agreed. He lulled Spike with stories that he said women weren't allowed to hear. Whatever he said, it worked. Spike drifted off in Zach's arms nearly every night. It made Kendall cry every time. And then she would get her turn to drift off to sleep in Zach's arms.

"Okay, Kendall," she said aloud. "Snap out of it! You've got work to do." She leafed through the pages to see where she'd left off, then started filling in the events of recent months. She found the writing to be cathartic. She got lost in the memories and her quest to capture her feelings about all that had happened and she lost track of time. She was sitting on the floor now, using the ottoman as a desk, reading over what she'd written. That's when she felt him.

Kendall looked up to find Zach watching her. He was leaning against the fireplace with his arms folded across his chest like he didn't have a care in the world. He looked like he would be content to stand there the rest of the day. She wondered how long he'd been there.

"Not too long," he answered, smiling at the look on Kendall's face. It was obvious that she hadn't realized she'd asked the question out loud. He walked over to sit on the couch and answered the question that was written all over her face. "I came home early because I missed you." Kendall stood up and joined him on the couch. "But," she began, but he stopped her. "It can wait. It can all wait. Everything that matters is right here." He pulled her closer to him and kissed her.

"So, what's going on here?" he asked as he pulled the pen from behind her ear. "You were a thousand miles away when I walked in." Kendall laid her head on his shoulder and put her arm around his waist. She loved the way he smelled. She almost told him so, but stopped. She'd made that mistake before and he always laughed at her. So she just breathed him in and kept her mouth shut.

"You smelling me again?" he said with a laugh. Kendall smiled to herself, but quickly schooled her features. "I've been catching up on my diary," she said as if she hadn't heard him. "I guess I got carried away." Zach's eyes lit up.

"Diary, huh?" Zach reached past her to pick up the book she'd been writing in. "Let's see what we've got here." Kendall snatched it out of his hands and held it behind her back. "You can't read that, Zach. It's my most private thoughts." Zach's smile faded and his eyebrows came up.

"Now isn't this interesting?" he said. "I was only teasing, but now I wonder what's in that book that is so private. What could you write that you couldn't share with your husband?" he asked, emphasizing the last word. He leaned back on the couch and put his feet up. "Are you gonna tell me, Kendall?"

Kendall shook her head and laughed. "Oh no. You're not turning this around on me. A woman's diary is supposed to be private. Everybody knows that," she said when he continued to stare at her. "Zach! Everybody knows that," she repeated. Zach shook his head and swallowed, mostly to keep himself from smiling.

"I guess I didn't get the memo," he said at last. He struggled out of his coat before stretching back out on the couch. Kendall watched as he removed his cuff links and started rolling up his sleeves. She breathed a sigh of relief and tried to change the subject. She didn't want to hurt his feelings, but having him read her diary would just be wrong. Wouldn't it?

She was reaching over him to pick up his cuff links when he grabbed her. He pulled her onto his lap and removed the book from her other hand. She stopped struggling when she saw it was useless and just watched him ... and waited.

Zach looked at her for a long time, then he started to open the book. She gasped, which elicited a low chuckle from him. Then he handed it back to her. "You're not gonna read it?" she asked cautiously. "Nope," he said, lying back on the couch. "You are."

Kendall stared at him. She knew he would never force her to read it. In fact, she knew he wasn't really all that interested in what she'd written. He wanted to know if she'd share it with him ... if she would give him all of her. She shrugged. Of course she would. Besides, she had no secrets from him. Maybe "everybody" was wrong.

Kendall sat down on the end of the couch and placed a pillow on her lap. Zach took the hint and laid his head on the pillow. He looked up at her and saw the trust in her eyes and something inside of him moved. It was as if his heart opened up even wider to give her more space. He started to tell her it wasn't necessary for her to read any of it. She'd already given him what he wanted. But he stopped himself. He could see that it had become important to her. So he remained silent.

Kendall cleared her throat and picked up one of the books that she'd placed beside her. "Okay," she began. "This one is really old. I got it for my thirteenth birthday. My mom, Alice, said every young girl needed a diary. I was so excited," she said as she relived the moment in her mind. "It had a lock and everything." She looked down at Zach to see if he was laughing at her, but he wasn't. He was watching her so intently that it took her breath away. Finally he reached up and ran his finger down the side of her face.

"Anyway," Kendall said as she cleared her throat again. "I'm sure there won't be any surprises in any of this stuff. Typical little girl fantasies. Feel free to stop me if you get bored." She waited for him to nod in agreement before continuing. Then she smiled at him nervously and started to read.

Dear Diary,

Today I am officially a teenager. Thirteen!! Which means I am now 6 months closer to getting these stupid braces off and five years closer to blowing this town and finding the life I was meant to have. I love my mom and dad, but I don't want my life to end up like theirs. I want adventure and excitement. I'm gonna be rich and famous. No doubt about it. And I'm never coming back to this town ever again.

Which means I'll never have to face Johnny Winstead again. How can I after I made such a fool of myself? I hope he doesn't tell anybody. And, God, I hope my parents never find out. They'll lock me in the house for sure! But you know what? It's Johnny's loss. He blew it ... big time! Because I'm gonna be a star. And I won't even remember his name.

That's it, though. I'm not kissing another boy until the right one comes along. I'm holding out for my Prince Charming. He'll be tall and handsome and rich. And he's gonna love me more than anything else on earth. All I have to do is wait for him to find me. I hope he finds me soon. I really don't fit in here.

Kendall shifted nervously. She was afraid to look at Zach. Afraid of what he was thinking. She wasn't sorry she'd shared it with him. In fact, it was liberating. But that was just the dreams of a silly girl. There was plenty of stuff in these books that she was not proud of. Would it change how he felt about her?

Zach watched her face as she read, counting the emotions that he saw. Joy and arrogance, sure. But also longing and sadness and rejection. He wondered if she even realized that she'd started stroking his hair when she read the part about Prince Charming. Could it be? Is that how she saw him?

He wanted so much for it to be true. He wanted to be her knight in shining armor ... the hero who rescued her from her sadness and gave her the life she'd longed for. But he knew better. He wasn't Kendall's first love. And loving him had certainly come with a price. He suddenly felt sadness wash over him. As much as he loved Kendall, he almost regretted that she hadn't found her Prince Charming. If anybody deserved to be a princess, it was Kendall Hart.

Before either of them could say anything, Kendall flipped to the back of the book and started reading again.

Dear Diary,

Woo Hoo!!! Graduation day is finally here. One more summer in "paradise" and I'll have enough money to get the hell out of Dullsville, USA and start living! Mom cried when I told her I was really going to New York. I don't know why. I've been telling her that for years. I am sorry that she is so upset, but I have to do it anyway. I have to live my own life.

She thinks I'm leaving so I can find my birth mother, but she's wrong. I mean, I've thought about it a lot, and I do wish I knew more about the woman who brought me into the world. But whoever she is, she didn't want me. Bill and Alice Hart did. They are my real family, and that's good enough for me.

Besides, my birth mother probably doesn't want anything to do with me. Why should she? She doesn't need a grown daughter showing up on her doorstep and disrupting her life. Even if I could find her, what would I say? "Hello, I'm Kendall. You didn't want me 18 years ago, but I'm here anyway. Do you want me now?"

Anyway, my new life is about finding my Prince Charming. God knows I've kissed enough frogs (I'm talking to you, Chad Davis!). No more lame parties and groping high school boys. There's a Prince out there looking for me, and I have to be where he can find me. No way he'll ever be able to find me here. I hope he finds me soon."

And so it went. Kendall spent the rest of the morning stroking Zach's hair and pouring out her past. He never interrupted, although there was an occasional laugh. And every single confession was met with warmth and understanding. His unconditional acceptance gave her the courage to read more and more.

Dear Diary,

I met my mother today. My real mother. The one who gave me away because I didn't matter to her. She's beautiful. And famous. Imagine that, Erica Kane is my mother! How different my life would have been if she'd kept me. The rich and famous daughter of a supermodel. I can't imagine it. But, then again, I always knew I was destined for more than suburbia. I guess now I know why. It's genetic.

I didn't tell her who I was. How could I? She looked right through me like I wasn't even there. Less than nothing. Why am I surprised? And why does it hurt so much? Well, I'll show her. I don't need her. I'm Kendall Hart. I can make my own way.

Kendall looked down at Zach after this passage. She knew the worst of her was about to surface. She'd put her mother through hell, and it was something she would always be ashamed of. But she didn't want to keep it from him. She wanted him to know it all.

"Zach," she said softly. "I want to read the rest of this, but I don't know if you'll want to hear it. I did some terrible things trying to get my mother's attention. We really hurt each other. Would you rather I skipped this part?"

Zach immediately shook his head and reached for her hand. "Kendall, you can tell me anything. I love you and nothing that happened in your past will ever change that. Besides," he added with a twinkle in his eye, "your mom already told me about some of it. I believe weapons were involved."

Kendall's eyes widened. "What? When?" she stammered. She started to close the book, but Zach stopped her. "It's a long story. I'll tell you about it sometime. But right now ..." his voice faded as he reached up and tapped the book she was holding. Then he shifted his position and stared up and her, waiting for her to continue.

She took a deep breath and dove in. She told him all the horrible things she had done when she came to Pine Valley, including accusing her stepfather of rape. She kept glancing at him to see if he was horrified by her behavior, but his face was open and accepting. She stopped once and just stared at him. He could see all the insecurities fighting their way to the surface. He smiled at her, nothing more, and it brought tears to her eyes. She leaned down and kissed him and returned his smile when he brushed away her tears.

Dear Diary,

Today was my wedding day. Anton is a nice guy, but he doesn't love me. And I don't really love him. So why did we get married? Mutual satisfaction. Spite. Revenge. I just got tired of waiting for Prince Charming. I wonder why he didn't come.

"You hungry?" Kendall said as she finished off another book. Zach looked horrified. "Hungry? You're married to another man and your mother hates you and all you can think about is food?" Kendall giggled as she pulled the pillow out from under his head and scooted away from him. "So does that mean you're not hungry?"

Zach raced her to the kitchen and helped her make lunch. Then they returned to the living room and the diaries. Kendall kicked off her shoes and put her feet in Zach's lap with the not-too-subtle hint that he was getting used to. They made themselves comfortable and Kendall resumed her journey.

After stories of murder trials, broken hearts, broken dreams and an endless parade of men, they made it all the way to Las Vegas. The pages were full of Kendall's search for love, acceptance ... and Prince Charming. Along the way she picked up a family who had come to love her and a sharp business mind. And, of course, another husband.

Dear Diary,

Well, here I am again ... a blushing bride without the blush, and without the Prince. Another revenge wedding with a man who doesn't love me. But at least this one came with a whole lotta cash!!!

Actually, there's something about Zach Slater that I can't quite put my finger on. He's easy to look at, that's for sure. But it's more than that. I just know we're gonna be together forever. As partners. Maybe even friends. But not lovers. Never lovers. We have each sworn off love. In fact, that's the foundation of our union. But still ...

When Kendall looked up at Zach, it was to find him smiling arrogantly. She wanted to kick him, but he held her feet in his hands. "I know, I know," she said before he could speak. "My secret is out. I married for like."

Zach dropped her feet and ran his hands up her legs. "Easy to look at, huh? Sounds like you married for lust." Kendall's laughter died in her throat when his hands slid over her knees. "Uh-uh," she said, clearly distracted. "Lust came later. Much later," she added defiantly. Zach stopped what he was doing and looked at her.

"How much later?" he asked, dejected. "Oh much, much later. God, I can't even remember," Kendall said, counting off on her fingers. "Eight, maybe nine months," she said. Zach removed her feet from his lap and crawled over her. "Liar," he said just before his lips met hers. Kendall's giggles turned into moans when he lowered himself on top of her. Their kisses became urgent as they realized how hungry they were for each other.

Zach had fully intended to stop as soon as he felt her respond to him. He was just going to remind her what it felt like to lust for him, but he couldn't stop. He didn't want to stop. And Kendall obviously didn't want him to. She ran her hands under his shirt in an attempt to get closer to him. That was all it took. The joke was forgotten. All that mattered now was Kendall.

"Kendall," Zach said breathlessly. "Shouldn't we?" he managed to say before she reclaimed his mouth. "No. Right here, right now," she said as she pulled the shirt he hadn't even realized she'd unbuttoned off his shoulders and down his arms. "Not lovers. Never lovers," he said, repeating the words she'd written in her diary. That was the last coherent word either of them spoke for a long time.

TBC


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ninekaronas

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Reply with quote  #129 
Part 2

"Okay, nap time is over," Zach whispered to the sleeping woman lying on his chest. "We were just getting to the good part." Kendall leaned up on one elbow and yawned. "Don't blame me," she said. "You came on to me." Zach shook his head as he ran his hand through her hair. "No I didn't. You started it. You said I was hot," he said. "Not exactly," she said as she leaned down to kiss him. "Well, that's what I heard," he said with a grin. "Now finish the story before we go to visit Ian. I can tell just by looking at Ian-Cam that he misses his mom."

Kendall watched the monitor for a minute before turning her attention back to her husband. "Alright, but you'll have to get dressed first. I can't concentrate with all that skin showing." She laughed when he leaned up to kiss her neck. "Zach? Did you hear me?" "Huh? No, sorry. I couldn't concentrate." Kendall tried to push him off the couch, but when she shoved, he didn't budge. Instead he reached over to pick up the diary she'd been reading from.

After insisting that they get dressed before somebody showed up at their door, Kendall resumed her reading. She carried them through Ryan's rage, Greenlee's eggs and Julia. Then there was a fire, a blackout and a Thanksgiving from hell. And, worst of all, a divorce. Fittingly enough, that's where that book ended. When Kendall reached for the next one, something fell out and landed in her lap. Zach, whose head was once again in her lap, wasn't amused.

"What the ...," he said as he rubbed his nose. "If you wanted me to get up, why didn't you say so?" he said as he started to sit up. Kendall pushed him back down. "It's just cardboard, you big baby." Zach growled and took the card from her. "May this night never end," he read aloud.

Dear Diary,

He's here! He's really here! Prince Charming found me at last! I just spent the most wonderful night of my life with the man of my dreams ... my ex-husband. I know! He invited me to the casino, and I almost didn't go. But I did. And it was perfect. He even danced with me.

I almost screwed it all up. Of course. I wouldn't be Kendall if I didn't get it wrong the first time. I was so scared. He said he loved me (HE LOVES ME!!!!) and my heart just stopped. I mean, here I am pregnant. And with Ryan's baby at that. The ink isn't even dry on our divorce papers and now we're ready to be together? It's crazy, I know. But it's wonderful.

Zach is who I've been waiting my whole life for. Feeling his arms around me, his lips on mine ... well, it was worth the risk. I never wanted him to let me go. I could have danced all night. And just when I was starting to pray that the night would never end, it did. Only to reveal the most glorious morning. HE LOVES ME!!! And I love him.

I've never been this happy before. Or this scared. But just being with Zach makes it all seem possible. It was worth all the toads I had to kiss to win this Prince. Happy New Year!!

Kendall was beginning to feel embarrassed. It was one thing to tell him about her past, but pouring out her feelings about him was different. She felt oddly vulnerable. Which didn't really make any sense. Zach knew how she felt about him. When she got up the courage to look at him, her breath caught in her throat. There were tears in his eyes.

Kendall flashed back to that New Year's Eve and remembered the look on his face as he waited for her to admit her true feelings. His heart was in his eyes that night, and looking at him know, she saw the same thing. She put her hand on his face, feeling the stubble beneath her fingertips. Suddenly her vulnerability had become his vulnerability.

Zach turned his head into her stomach and wrapped his arms around her middle. Kendall held him for a long time. Neither of them said a word, because words weren't necessary. What they felt was beyond words.

A while later, Zach pulled away from her, wiping his eyes. He sat up and took her face in his hands. He looked into her eyes, then kissed her softly. She smiled at him and closed the book. "I don't need to read anymore. You already know the rest. Boy marries girl - again. Girl goes into coma and is protected fiercely by boy. Babies are born. Houses are bought. Love grows stronger and stronger. The end."

"You forgot the 'happily ever after' part," Zach said. "No I didn't," Kendall replied. "Happily ever after comes one day at at time. So far, so good," she added with a grin. "Now how about some ice cream?" Zach jumped to his feet. "I'll get it," he said on his way out of the room.

-------------------------

"What about me?" Kendall asked as she scraped the bowl to get every drop of the hot fudge. "What about you?" Zach repeated dryly. "Where's my Dear Diary Day present?" Zach glanced up from his own bowl to see her eying him. "I thought I gave you that earlier." "You know what I mean, Zach. I shared my secrets with you. Now it's your turn."

"Kendall, men don't keep diaries," Zach said with exaggerated patience. "Do you want me to read you my day planner?" Kendall started to pout. "Are you really so unsentimental that you don't want to remember special dates?" Zach put his empty bowl on the table next to hers. "Isn't that exactly what a day planner is for?" he asked innocently. She laughed, but it didn't quite reach her eyes.

Kendall got up to take the bowls into the kitchen. When she returned, there was a brown leather book sitting on the couch beside Zach. She picked it up and started to open it, but stopped. She looked at Zach, then handed the book to him. He made a big show of rifling through the pages before settling on one.

"Now I haven't been doing this as long as you," he warned. "It took a long time before I had anything worth writing down. And men don't write all that mushy stuff. Just the facts. You still want to hear it?" he asked. "Absolutely!"Kendall said as she made herself comfortable beside him. "Okay, here we go," Zach said, clearing his throat.

June 14, 2004. I met the most beautiful woman I've ever seen today. She's Erica's daughter, which means she's probably high maintenance. But I bet she's worth the trouble. Beautiful face, curly hair, green eyes that a man could drown in and a body that ... well, let's just skip over that part," Zach said.

He jerked the book back when Kendall tried to grab it from him. "You read what you wanted, and so will I," he said. "Now where was I?"

May 19, 2005. She did it. She married me. Okay, so it wasn't for love. But we can find our own kind of happiness. I really like her a lot. I hope we can make our unconventional marriage work. I know she's supposed to protect me from love, but I swear ...

Kendall sat beside him and watched his mouth as he read. She'd always loved his mouth. And she still found the accent so sexy.

November 24, 2005. I kissed Kendall today. I wanted so badly to take her pain away. I wanted to make those people ... her family ... I wanted to make them pay for what they did to her. But what could I do? She doesn't want me defending her. I'm just a business partner. Right? But I want to be more. A lot more. I may have ruined everything. I was trying to help, but I made things worse. I told her I love her, and God knows I do. But she didn't want to hear it ... to believe it.

Kendall touched his arm to get his attention. But when he looked at her, she didn't know what to say. Did she apologize for hurting him? Thank him for caring enough about her to want to help? Tell him that those words were exactly what she wanted to hear, but she was too afraid to listen? She said it all. She told him everything that she'd been carrying in her heart since that fateful day. When she was finished, he kissed her.

"Sorry," she said through tears. "You know how girls are. We have to ruin everything with crying. Go on."

March 26, 2006. Kendall came to see me today. God, I've missed her so much. She came for advice about how to handle Lavery and Dr. Madden, but I had the hardest time concentrating on what she was saying. All I could think about was... oh, I guess we can skip that part, too."

"Oh, here's a good one."

May 4, 2006. My wife. And this time for all the right reasons. I love her. And I want to make her happy. I've never been prouder than I was when she said her vows. She was so beautiful. I made promises to her, too. Promises that I intend to keep. I have to. I can't live without her. I will protect her and her son (Spike!) until the day I die.

Kendall smiled as the tears ran down her face. She remembered every single word of that ceremony. It was the happiest day of her life.

Zach flipped through several pages rapidly. "Coma stuff," he said when she became restless. "Can't go through that again." Kendall nodded and waited.

March 13, 2007. Kendall is pregnant. I'm scared to death. Our lives are in such turmoil. The danger is over, but I still can't relax. Spike is home and Kendall is trying to resume life as normal, but I can't forget. And now there's a new baby on the way. I am elated, overjoyed, ecstatic ... and scared shitless. Kendall says we can do it. I want to believe her. I do believe her. More importantly, I believe in her. We can handle anything, as long as it's together. We're having a baby!! I'm scared to death.

"And I was right, too?" Kendall said when he was finished. 'Yes, you were," Zach agreed as he closed the book and pulled Kendall into his arms. There was no music, so he hummed in her ear as he danced with her. "And I am the luckiest man in the world." "You forgot the 'happily ever after' part," Kendall said. "No, I didn't. How could I? I'm living it every day."

-------------------------

Hours later, the Slaters came home from visiting Ian and decided to head straight up to bed. When the phone rang, Kendall went to answer it, telling Zach she'd meet him upstairs. After an extended conversation with her mother, she laid the phone on the table next to the brown leather book Zach had been reading from.

She glanced at the doorway, knowing full well that Zach was probably already asleep. She knew she shouldn't do it. After all, it was an invasion of his privacy. But her curiosity got the best of her. She convinced herself that she just wanted to see the words he'd read in his own handwriting. She peeked inside the book then threw her head back and laughed. "He really is Prince Charming," she said under her breath as she dropped the book and ran up the stairs.

The light from the full moon shone on the pages as they ruffled in the breeze that she'd created. The pages - all of them - were empty.


The End


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zendall44

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OMG Karen!  I think this is the best story of all!  You really get it right.  Thank you so much.


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What a great way to start my Sunday morning!!  I woke up to a great new mvid by Vickie and then to see that you had added to the "celebrations"..  Great stories...thanks and keep them coming!
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Purdue0612

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I just have to say wow!! I love the ending to this just beautiful story!!!
Parts of it had me in tears!
tkrocks

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This story was perfect fiction--it made me laugh and cry. Perfect example of Zen love. Oh, how I wish that we'd get a scene like this on our TV screens one day. Beautiful, beautiful job! Thank you for sharing.
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Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.--Peter Ustinov
Ann

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Reply with quote  #134 
What can I say?  Except that I have loved every holiday in this series.
Your writing is so good, you make me feel all of their emotions.
Thank you!

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Okay, the last holiday was so serious, so this one is a little on the silly side.

Bosses Day

"Kendall, I already told you, I am not your boss." Zach walked into his office at the casino with his beautiful, but determined, wife on his heels. They'd had this argument at home over breakfast, in the car on the drive over, and even in the elevator, in spite of the fact there were much more interesting things to do in an elevator. But Kendall was nothing if not persistent.

"We're partners, remember?" he added when she came to sit on his lap. "Are you sure you don't want to be my boss?" she purred. "Because if you were my boss, I would have to do anything you told me to do." "You'd take orders?" Zach said, showing sudden interest in the idea. "Well I'd have to, wouldn't I? You're the boss!" Kendall interjected between light, nipping kisses. "Hmmmm ... anything I say, huh?" Zach brought his hand from her hip to her face, claiming her mouth for a real kiss.

Kendall giggled. "This is the best job interview I've ever had!" she said as she threw her head back to give Zach better access to her neck. "Does this mean I have the job, Mr. Slater?" Zach suddenly pushed his chair back and lifted Kendall off of him.

"Sorry, but I'm a happily married man. And I don't think my wife would approve," he said, leading her away from the desk. She pressed herself against him and ran her fingers through his hair. "I think she would definitely approve," she mumbled as she pulled him down to her. Just as their lips met, the phone rang.

"That's you," Zach said as he released her. Kendall stared at him as the phone continued to ring. After the fourth ring, Zach rolled his eyes and answered it himself. He watched Kendall take off her coat and throw it across the back of a chair. Then she walked through the door and disappeared into the outer office. When he had dispatched of the caller, he went in search of her. What he found stopped him in his tracks.

Kendall was making coffee. He'd never seen her do that before. He stood in the doorway with his mouth open, trying to figure out if he was in The Twilight Zone, when the phone rang again. She didn't seem to hear it. After several rings, there was silence. Zach shook his head and cleared his throat. Kendall whirled around, nearly spilling the coffee she had just poured.

"Dammit, Zach. Don't do that! You scared me," she said as she held the cup out in front of her. "Here." She shoved it in his direction, but he didn't move. He didn't even blink. Kendall snapped her fingers in front of his face and laughed. "Hello? Anybody in there? Coffee, Zach. You know, you drink it."

Zach took the cup from her and took a sip. His eyebrows went up in surprise. It was actually good. "Don't look so surprised, will you?" Kendall said as she settled herself behind the receptionist's desk. Zach took a seat across from her, staring at her. "What?" she snapped.

"Kendall, what are you doing? Where is my secretary?" Kendall rearranged the contents of the desk before answering. "I gave her the day off," she said with a shrug. "I'm filling in for her. It's Bosses Day and I don't have a boss. Well, unless you count my mother. So I'm gonna be your secretary for the day. Didn't I already explain that?"

Zach nodded, but said, "no." The phone rang again, and again Kendall ignored it. Zach picked it up when it became clear Kendall had no intention of doing so and glared at her while he dealt with the pushy salesman who insisted he had just what Zach needed to make his business a success. After assuring the man that he had already found the secret to success, he hung up and turned his attention back to Kendall, who was busy kicking the copy machine.

"We usually wait for it to warm up before we start the abuse," he said as he reached past her to turn the machine on. Kendall looked at him sheepishly. "Sorry," she said in a barely audible voice. She walked back to the desk and pulled a bottle of nail polish out of her purse. When she started shaking it up, Zach finally took control of the situation.

"Kendall, honey," he began, considering his words carefully, "I think we need to talk." He put the nail polish on the desk and took her hands in his. "I'm not sure what you think goes on around here, but I assure you this is a very busy office. I need a secretary. Now I appreciate what -" "You have a secretary," she interrupted. "Me!" Zach took a deep breath and tried again.

"I know. And you are easily the prettiest assistant I've ever had, but I need somebody who can actually do the work." Kendall pulled her hands away and jumped to her feet. "I beg your pardon," she snapped. "I happen to run my very own, very successful business, in case you've forgotten. I think I can handle anything your assistant can. As if on cue, the phone rang ... again. When Kendall made no move to answer it, Zach did ... again. When he was through, he took Kendall's hand and placed it on the phone.

"This is a telephone, Kendall," he began slowly. "You know, it rings and you answer it." Kendall sighed. "Well why didn't you say so? Okay, so I'm supposed to cover the phones. That's all you had to say, Zach." Before he could respond, the phone rang. "You're on," he said as he sat down across from her and put his feet on her desk.

Kendall answered the phone enthusiastically. In fact, Zach was admiring her professionalism, and her sexy phone voice, until she stuck her tongue out at him. He took that as a good sign and walked back to his own office.

He had barely made it to his desk when she came sailing in with reports for him to review and a very thorough phone message. "These were just delivered," she said as she handed him the files. What is that, last night's receipts?" she asked, peering over his shoulder. She rifled through the pages and then threw her arms around him. "I'm so glad I accepted that proposal. You were so right!" she added as she kissed him.

"But I thought you married me for love," he said when she pulled away from him. "I did," she assured. "Love of money!" He shook his head and reached for the reports. "Women," he muttered. "Oh alright. I love you, too," she added and she kissed him again. Then she scooted away when he tried to grab her and headed for the door. "Uh-uh, Mr. Slater. I'm not that kind of secretary."

"Um ... Kendall?" He waited for her to turn around before pointing to the phone message she was still holding. "Is that for me?" Kendall raised her chin in the air and walked with the regalness of a queen to his desk and handed him the message. He chewed on his bottom lip so he wouldn't smile. Then he said in his most business-like voice, "No interruptions, please. I have a conference call in a few minutes and I hate distractions when I'm talking money." Kendall nodded and walked briskly to the door.

"Unless you want to bring your pretty little self back over here," he added when she reached for the door. He saw the smile that crossed her face just as the door slammed behind her. He stared at the closed door for a minute, unable to wipe the smile from his own face. This was shaping up to be the best Bosses Day ever.

-------------------------

Kendall quickly became familiar with the routine of the office. Basically, she was a gatekeeper. She was amazed by how many people wanted a piece of Zach's day. No wonder he spent so much time here after hours. The interruptions were never-ending. But Kendall was determined to keep the wolves away from Zach's door.

The first wolf to show their fangs was a pushy, perky little blonde with long legs and a short skirt who insisted that she had an appointment with Mr. Slater to show him her "samples." Kendall had a good idea what the lady wanted Zach to "sample," and there was no way in hell she was gonna give her the chance to flash her "samples" in her husband's face. She checked the appointment book, ignored the fact that the lady's name was written there and told her there must be some mistake. "Mr. Slater isn't available," she said sweetly.

"I can come back. Will he be free this afternoon?" the lady asked, looking past Kendall at Zach's closed door. "Have you met Mr. Slater before," Kendall asked, her woman's intuition going off like radar. "Well, not personally. But he has quite a reputation." She lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "I hear he's gorgeous!" she said, morphing into a lovesick schoolgirl. "Uh-huh," Kendall said. "Well I'm afraid you're out of luck, Miss ... what did you say your name was again?" "Parker. Tawny Parker." "Of course," Kendall said with a smirk. "Listen, Tawny. Zach, I mean Mr. Slater, is busy all day. You'll have to reschedule your meeting for another time."

Kendall watched as Tawny's lower lip protruded and wondered if she was going to suck her thumb. She wanted to slap her. Instead, she flipped through the appointment book and found an open date. When the disappointed vixen left, Kendall wrote a note beside the appointment telling Zach's regular secretary that Zach DID NOT want to meet with this woman again. "Just get rid of her," she wrote in large, red letters.

The next wolf was a familiar one. Kendall answered the phone and was immediately greeted with the grating, breathy sound of Hannah Nichols. She didn't recognize Kendall's voice at first, so she tried to bluff her way through with some story about being a close friend of Zach's. "He'll want to take my call," she said after being told he was unavailable. "I'm sorry, Hannah. He can't be interrupted. Those are my orders." "Kendall? Is that you?" Hannah said a little too loudly. "Yep, it's me. I'm helping Zach out for the day and he really is extremely busy." She smiled when she heard Hannah swear under her breath.

"It's really important that I talk to him. It's about Cambias business," Hannah said, trying to sound professional, but just coming off as desperate. "I'll tell him you called. He'll be in touch when he can, if he wants to," Kendall added with another smile. She thought she heard a crashing sound coming from Hannah's end, but she couldn't be sure. "Are you okay?" she asked in her most sincere voice. "I thought I heard something." "Oh, that. I just knocked a vase of flowers off of my desk. It's nothing." Kendall could just picture the wall opposite Hannah's desk covered in water and broken glass. She coughed to cover her laugh and told a very persistent Hannah that she couldn't put her through to Zach. "I'll give him the message," she said as she hung up the phone.

She walked into Zach's office to take him the mail that had been delivered when she heard his cellphone ring. "Don't you dare answer that!" she barked. Zach looked at her quizzically. He looked to see who was calling, but didn't answer. His confusion turned to amusement when she dropped the mail she was carrying and explained. "It was Hannah, wasn't it? That crazy bitch! I just told her you were not to be disturbed, but she insisted you would want to talk to her. After all, you two are such close friends. How dare she call you on your cellphone just to get around me!"

Zach leaned back in his chair and waited for Kendall to finish. He hated to admit it, but he kinda liked this jealous streak she was showing. He knew she was more upset about Hannah being back in Pine Valley than she let on. He didn't want to fuel Kendall's anger, but he couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face. God, he loved her more every day. And how was that even possible?

"Why are you smiling?" Kendall asked. "Oh, I know. You like this, don't you? Two women vying for your attention. Feeds your ego, doesn't it? Well, all I know is you better not answer that phone when she calls back. Not if you want to go home with me." Zach jumped out of his chair and beat her to the door.

"Kendall, you're wrong. There's nobody vying for my attention. It wouldn't matter if they were. I only have eyes for my gorgeous, sexy, amazing wife." He punctuated each adjective with a kiss. And why would I give Hannah my cell number? I don't answer to her and I'm not on call. Josh knows how to reach me if it's important. Besides, I happen to have a very jealous wife."

"I'm not jealous!" Kendall said, but even she didn't believe it. "Okay, maybe a little," she amended. "But I don't like it. I've been out there all morning fighting off one bimbo after another. And all of them want to get alone with you. How am I ever supposed to get any work done at Fusion knowing what goes on around here all day? At least I can count on Lily to protect you at Cambias, but you're way too easy to get to here." He pulled her into his arms. "You're supposed to trust me. And you're supposed to remember that you are more beautiful than all of those other women. So why would they interest me?" "Good answer," Kendall whispered just before his lips met hers.

They both looked up when they heard a knock at the door to find a gorgeous, exotic-looking woman with long black hair standing in the doorway. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'm here for the interview. I believe my editor spoke to you last week." Zach glanced at Kendall, who was eyeing the woman with barely-concealed hostility. He graciously offered the woman a seat, and turned to walk Kendall out. "It's just a little piece her magazine is doing on our casino. All she needs is a couple of quotes from me, then she'll be gone. We can leave the door open if you want."

Kendall looked past him at the woman who was pretending not to listen to their conversation. Kendall's jaw dropped when the woman unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse. "Oh yes," she said emphatically. "The door will be open. And I'll be on this side of it. After all, I am your partner, right?"

Zach watched as Kendall introduced herself to the reporter as Zach's partner and wife. He didn't try to hide his smile this time, since nobody was paying him any attention at all. Kendall was marking her territory and the poor woman was trying to inconspicuously button her blouse. Zach joined Kendall on the couch, sitting closer to her than was necessary, just to reinforce the message. He knew he'd done the right thing when she squeezed his hand. Yep, he could get used to this jealousy thing, he thought to himself.

-------------------------

"If I promise not to tell my wife, can you come back tomorrow?" Zach said as he and Kendall walked arm in arm to the elevator after a long, but productive, day. "Boy, your wife must be a real bitch!" Kendall looked him in the eye, daring him to agree. "Oh yeah. Vicious. And very jealous. I told you that already."

"Well, tomorrow is Wear Something Gaudy Day. And I do have the perfect outfit," Kendall said. "It's really low and really short and very, very tight. Completely inappropriate for work. You interested?" Zach pulled her into the elevator and showed her just how interested he was.

-------------------------

"This package just arrived for you, Mr. Slater." Zach looked up to see his trusted, very capable assistant standing in front of his desk. Although he'd always been fond of her, he couldn't help but feel a twinge of disappointment. Having Kendall around all day was invigorating. Sometimes he forgot just how much fun she was to spend time with. It had only been one day, but he missed her.

When his assistant left, he looked down at the box and smiled when he recognized the handwriting. He took a second to trace the letters before opening it. He laughed out loud as he lifted the rather large framed picture of Kendall, Spike and Ian from the box. He laughed again when he read the note:

"Zach, this is not because I think you need a reminder. I just think some of your visitors might appreciate seeing your beautiful family. So please display it prominently. Also, here is your new cellphone number. Make sure Hannah doesn't get it this time. And don't worry, I've already dealt with Josh. He won't make that mistake again. Love, Kendall."

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Purdue0612

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Really cute story!
Please come back soon!
Ann

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Reply with quote  #137 
I love it....and it was just what I needed today.
Thank you.

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tkrocks

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Reply with quote  #138 
That was great--lots of fun! I love a jealous Kendall "marking" her territory, and I love Zach eating that up. Thanks!
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Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.--Peter Ustinov
Roseann

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Reply with quote  #139 
Thanks, Karen...great story...just what I needed tonight.
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ninekaronas

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In light of the travesty we've been subjected to on our screens, I thought I'd make a few alterations. I've fudged the timeline a little ... so sue me!

Look for an Evergreen Day

Zach stood in the center of his living room holding his infant son while his wife packed the double stroller and wrestled their oldest child into his seat. Both babies were bundled up to the point that only their tiny little faces were visible. They were wearing matching red and white knit caps that tied underneath their chins and had a ball tassel on top. Ian was taking it in stride, but Spike was already beginning to fuss.

"Kendall, are you sure you want to do this?" Zach asked, touching her arm to get her attention. "It's so cold outside. Maybe we should leave the boys here." She looked up at him and he smiled at the petulant determination on her face. "We are doing this as a family, Zach. And I already told you, I'm not letting you or our boys out of my sight for a very long time. Besides," she added as she took Ian from him and put him in the stroller in front of Spike, "these boys are tough. Look how hard they've had to fight already."

With both of her sons ready to go, the only obstacle Kendall had left was getting her husband to cooperate. She handed him his long black coat and pointed out the leather gloves in the pocket. With a dramatic sigh, he relented. "Okay," he said. "But I refuse to put on one of those hats." He gave the boys a sympathetic look as he followed them towards the door. "Even the Wing can't make those things cool."

Zach offered to push the heavy stroller, but Kendall wouldn't hear of it. He'd only been home from the hospital for a few days, and she refused to let him lift a finger. She hovered over him constantly, trying to anticipate his every need. It was the only way she knew of to show him how happy she was to have him home. Zach knew she was being overprotective, but he liked the attention from her, so he didn't complain. Besides, he thought as he studied her from behind, she wasn't so overprotective at night.

"Don't forget your scarf," Kendall said over her shoulder. She smiled when she heard him groan, but still turned to make sure he obeyed. After struggling into her own coat, she led her family out the door and into their first Team Slater Christmas ritual.

-------------------------

"Okay, we're here," Kendall said in a cheery sing-song voice. Zach took in their surroundings and groaned again. Kendall saw his frown and became a little disgruntled. "Get rid of that, would you?" she said as she smoothed the creases from his brow. "No frowning. It's almost Christmas. Santa is watching." Zach pulled her into his arms and kissed her. "Then let's give Santa something to see," he muttered. Kendall pulled away from him, but only after she let him kiss her again. "Zach, we're in public," she scolded.

"We are? Looks like we're in the woods to me." "Oh no. I'm never going near the woods again, and neither are you!" Kendall stated emphatically. "Yes dear," Zach drawled. "Does that mean I can never drive a car again either? Because you might get tired of driving me around everywhere I -" He stopped talking when she put her hand over his mouth. "You're not funny," she said. "Of course I am. Now where do we start?"

-------------------------

The Slater family spent the next hour walking through the maze of Christmas trees. The first decision was what kind to get, but it proved to be more difficult than Kendall expected. She was drawn to the more traditional fir trees, but Zach preferred the spruce varieties. After much persuasion and a few dark promises, Kendall got her way. She clapped her hands in excitement when she rounded a bend and saw the perfect tree standing in front of her. Zach watched as she circled it again and again, inspecting it from every angle. "This is it," she said at last. "Ian's first Christmas tree." "He's overwhelmed," Zach said sarcastically as he looked down at his son, fast asleep under a pile of blankets.

Spike was far from asleep. He'd been taking in the view from his daddy's arms for the last 30 minutes, much to Kendall's horror. She kept telling Zach to put him down before he hurt himself, but he just ignored her. Spike's nose was red and running, but his laughter could be heard all over the tree farm. Zach coaxed him back into the stroller using a bag of Cheerios and then reached for the axe he saw embedded in a stump a few feet away.

"Whoa! What do you think you're doing?" Kendall asked when he drew back to take his first swing. Zach lowered the axe and looked at her. "Oh, did you want to decorate it here? Because I don't think we have enough extension cords," he said with a glance in the direction of the car. "You're not funny, Zach," Kendall said, coughing to cover her laugh. "And you're still too weak to chop down a tree. Are you out of your mind?" Zach pulled on his collar and looked up at the snow-laden clouds. "I must be," he said. "Otherwise I'd be at home in front of a roaring fire with my pretty little wife."

With her arms folded across her chest, Kendall glared at Zach, daring him to swing the axe he was still holding. She noticed he was holding it in his left hand, but decided not to point out that he was obviously already in pain. "So how do you expect us to get the tree home?" Zach said. He looked around the area and didn't see another living soul. "What kind of place-" he began, but stopped when he heard an ear-splitting whistle. He turned in time to see Kendall putting her gloves back on. "That's it?" he said. "That's your plan? What do you think is going to happen, Kendall? Some guy's just gonna show up and..." his voice trailed off when he caught sight of the young man running up behind Kendall. He threw up his hands and stepped back.

"Yes ma'am. Can I help you?" he said, giving Kendall his full attention. He didn't seem to notice Zach at all. "First of all, don't call me ma'am," Kendall said. Zach noticed her voice had a slight edge, but the kid was too busy ogling her to notice. "Well, if I'd seen how hot you were, I never would have," he said, stepping closer. "What's your name?" he asked. "Mrs." Both Kendall and the boy turned to see Zach standing right behind them. He dropped his arm around Kendall's shoulder and held out the axe. "I believe you'll be needing this." "Yes sir. Thank you, sir," the boy mumbled. Kendall elbowed Zach, but he could tell she was trying not to laugh.

The Slaters stood back and watched the young man take down the tree with only a few swings. Zach looked at Kendall, daring her to be impressed, and pulled her closer when she winked at him. They turned back to find the kid standing only a few feet away from them, feasting his eyes on Kendall. Zach cleared his throat, causing the boy to jump. "Okay, folks. I'll just get a net on this and follow you to your car. Be right back," he added, smiling at Kendall. "He forgot the money," she said as she watched the boy leave. Zach rolled his eyes and gave her a quick kiss before following him.

Within minutes they were all standing in front of their car with the tree loaded on top. "Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. ... what did you say your name was again?" "We didn't," Zach rumbled. "Slater," Kendall answered at the same time. "Zach and Kendall Slater." The boy brightened. "What a beautiful name. Can I call you Kendall?" "No!" "Of course." Zach and Kendall looked at each other, both of them frowning. "Behave," Kendall mouthed, causing Zach's eyebrow to go up.

She leaned closer so she could whisper in his ear. "Give him a tip, honey," she said. Zach nodded and took a step toward the man who didn't seem to realize he was no longer needed. "Leave," he said, his voice low and menacing. When the boy turned quickly, Zach grabbed him by the collar and stuffed some money in his hand. "Well now. Wasn't that fun?" Kendall said with a sigh as Zach started the car and headed for home. Because he was looking the other way, she didn't see the smile on his face.

-------------------------

"Oh Zach, it's so beautiful!" Kendall exclaimed when the tree was finished. Unfortunately, the boys didn't make it until the end. They were both sound asleep in their beds, leaving Zach to handle the lights all by himself. "Deserters," he'd said as he carried them up to bed.

Kendall stared at the Christmas tree while Zach stared at Kendall. These were the moments he was afraid they would never have again. He knew Kendall was thinking the same thing when she turned to him with tears in her eyes. "It's perfect, Zach. All of it. Just the way I always dreamed it would be." She reached out and touched his face. "And when I think about how close we came to never-" Her words were cut off by Zach's lips. The kiss started out warm and tender, but soon turned urgent.

"I'm not going anywhere, Kendall," Zach said when she broke the kiss. He could see all the emotions playing across her face. He hated the fear he saw there, but the love in her eyes made him feel strong and whole. He wanted so much to be as worthy as she thought he was. And he wanted to erase the sadness that never seemed to fade away. But at least the light was back in her eyes. After all they had been through, they were still together. Stronger and more in love than ever before. And happy. Blissfully happy.

Zach took Kendall's hand and led her over to the fireplace. He watched, mesmerized, as the firelight danced through her curls. She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, and she was his. His wife. His partner. His best friend. It still seemed too good to be true. He didn't know how he'd found his way into this dream, but he prayed he would never wake up.

Kendall watched him stare into the fireplace and knew he was back in the bomb shelter. She could see the shadows of that place in his eyes, and she ached for him. She wanted to take all that pain away, but she didn't know how. She was working so hard to fill his head with new memories - good memories - but it wasn't enough. The ghosts were still there. He caught her watching him and smiled at her.

"It's not what you think, Kendall," he said as he stroked the side of her face. "I'm not haunted by what happened in the hole. It's the mistakes I made long before that keep going through my mind. He could tell she didn't understand, and he didn't know if he could explain it. But he owed it to her to try.

"Down in that shelter, when I was asleep, I dreamed of the good times. Lobster. Jerseys and trench coats. Bowling under the stars," he began with a slight smile. "But when I was awake, it wasn't the good times that went through my mind. It was the wasted time. Like after the Mardi Gras Ball. Or remember when you called me to the hospital after the fire? All you wanted was for me to admit what I said to you when you were sleeping. But I couldn't do it, Kendall. Funny how time changes things. When I was down in that hole, I would have given my last breath just for one more chance to tell you that I love you."

Kendall leaned up and kissed him. "I know, Zach. I felt it every second. That's why I knew you weren't gone. I could still feel you with me." "You kept me strong, Kendall. Thinking of you and Spike and Ian ... it gave me the strength to fight, to hold on a little longer. I could feel you, too." He pulled her into his arms and held her tight, smiling at the way their hearts beat in perfect synchronization.

"I guess that means you're stuck with me, Mr. Slater ... forever," Kendall said as she settled herself against him. He buried one hand in her hair and placed the other one under her chin, bringing her lips to his. She met him halfway. "Forever is just the beginning." The next thing Kendall knew, she was in Zach's arms and they were halfway up the stairs. The worry that he shouldn't be carrying her nagged at the back of her mind, but he chased it away with another kiss.

"Careful, Zach. Santa is watching," she said when he carried her into their bedroom and kicked the door closed behind him. "Who needs Santa?" he growled. "I already have everything I want."

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Ann

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Reply with quote  #141 
Beautiful Karen......and exactly what I needed today!
Thank you  for the lighthearted moments that the crap writers won't let us have.

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Bless you Karen!  This was much needed!


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Reply with quote  #143 
Yes, Bless you! Not just the story, but for giving us this line and making it so (at least in your story)--"After all they had been through, they were still together. Stronger and more in love than ever before. And happy. Blissfully happy."
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Triple blessings to you, Karen.... You just knew we needed a "happy" ending...  Thank you....
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Kitchen Klutzes of America Day

 

Zach was on the last leg of a long journey. He’d been called away to handle a crisis at his Las Vegas casino, and the problem had taken much longer to resolve than he’d anticipated. So here he was, almost two weeks later, driving himself home from the airport in a rental car. He could have had Kendall pick him up, but he wanted to surprise her. She wasn’t expecting him back until tomorrow, but he’d fought like hell to get finished early so he could get back home to his family.

 

It was a bad time to be away for so long. Things between him and Kendall were still a bit strained, or at least they were when he left. But he’d called her every night from Vegas, and the distance seemed to bring them closer. They had done more talking over the phone than they’d been able to do face to face in the months since he’d been pulled from that hole. In his heart, Zach knew things were going to be okay between them. His marriage was sound and Kendall was still the love of his life.

 

That’s why he was in such a hurry to get home. He was anxious to hold his wife in his arms and tell her how much he loved her. He’d missed Kendall and the boys even more than he expected. Two weeks was a long time to be apart from the people he loved most in the world.

 

As he rounded the last bend in the road leading to their dream house, his breath caught in his throat. Their driveway was congested with police cars and a large fire truck. There were people standing around in groups pointing and taking notes. Zach watched in horror as the fire hydrant across the street sent a gushing stream of water onto the road in front of him.

 

He stopped the car and ran into the house, calling Kendall’s name, but she wasn’t there. The foyer and living room were empty. In fact, everything was eerily quiet. So where was everybody? Zach suddenly heard shouting, and followed the noise to the kitchen. That’s when he saw her.

 

Kendall was standing in front of the stove, gesturing wildly with a wooden spoon, as she yelled at somebody Zach couldn’t see. He took a step closer at the same time one of the policemen stepped away, revealing Greenlee as the recipient of Kendall’s ire. But Greenlee was giving as good as she was getting. Which is why Jesse Hubbard was leaning up against the sink rubbing his temples.

 

“Ladies, please!” Jesse said, raising his voice so he could be heard above their fighting. “This isn’t getting us anywhere. I need to know what happened, but I can’t understand what either of you are saying. One at a time, please. You first, Mrs. Slater. Tell me –“

 

“Why does she get to go first?” Greenlee shrieked. “She’s just gonna lie anyway. Let me save you some trouble. I’ll go first, and I’ll tell you the truth!”

“The truth?” Kendall said, stepping closer to Greenlee. “You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you on the -“

 

“Mrs. Slater,” Jesse interrupted, “tell me what happened. You’ll get your turn, Miss Smythe.” He moved to stand between them, hoping to discharge the situation, but it was useless.

 

“You hear that, Greenlee? I get to go first. You know why? Because it’s my house, that’s why. And because you’re nothing more than a selfish, two-faced liar, that’s why!”

 

“How dare you!” Greenlee began, trying to reach around Jesse to grab Kendall. “How dare you!” Kendall interjected. “You tried to burn my house down, you crazy bitch!”

 

“Mrs. Slater!” Jesse said as he pushed the two women apart, but Kendall wasn’t responding to him. All of her focus was on Greenlee. “Mrs. Slater! Kendall!” he said at last, finally gaining her attention. “May I call you Kendall?” he asked in a much calmer voice when she turned to look at him. “Of course you can,” she answered sweetly.

 

“Thank you,” he said, breathing a sigh of relief that both ladies were now staring at him quietly. “I appreciate that. Now, tell me what happened.” He gave Greenlee a warning look before turning his attention back to Kendall. “That’s it,” he prodded,” put the spoon down and talk to me.” Kendall laid the spoon next to the phone, then stiffened.

 

“Zach!” she gasped. “I need to call Zach. Somebody’s bound to call him and he’ll be worried for nothing.” Zach arched an eyebrow as he looked around the smoke-filled room. She was right about that. A phone call like that would have scared him to death. He watched in silence as Kendall dialed the number, then smiled wryly when everybody turned at the sound of his ringing phone.

 

“Zach!” Kendall said as she ran to him. “What are you doing here? I thought you were coming back tomorrow.” Kendall suddenly felt self-conscious about her appearance. After all the tensions between them lately, she’d wanted to do something really special for his homecoming. Something sexy. Not this ratty old sundress. Zach thought she looked beautiful. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she whispered when he pulled her into his arms for a kiss. “Because I wanted to surprise you,” he answered. “Surprise!” he said half-heartedly.

 

“Boy, am I glad to see you, Mr. Slater,” Jesse said as he walked over to shake Zach’s hand. “I’m sure you are,” Zach said, looking from Kendall to Greenlee and back again. “What happened?” he asked the new Chief of Police. Jesse shrugged. “Damned if I know. I can’t get a straight answer out of either of them. Something about boiled bunnies or  … I don’t know.”

 

Zach turned to his wife, his look questioning. “I was just kidding about that,” Kendall said, rolling her eyes. “I told him Greenlee was boiling our pet rabbit,” she explained. “It was a joke.” Zach and Jesse continued to stare at her. “You know, like in Fatal Attraction.

 

“Fatal … what?” Zach said, shaking his head. “I don’t get it.”

 

“No, Kendall got it. From my fiancé,” Greenlee said from across the room.

 

“Bite me,” Kendall snapped.

 

“Is that what you told Aidan?”

 

“Shut up, Greenlee!” Zach, Kendall and Jesse said in unison.

 

“You do remember how that movie turned out, don’t you?” Greenlee said in a huff.

 

“Yeah,” Kendall replied, “the wife won!"

 

Zach was lost, and from the look on his face, so was Jesse.

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Zach asked Kendall. “Forget it,” she said. “Greenlee’s just trying to make me think something besides survival happened between the two of you in that bomb shelter, but -”

 

“God, not that again,” Zach groaned.

 

“But,” Kendall continued, “I know better, and I’m through letting her make me crazy. Well, about that at least,” she added with a grimace in Greenlee’s direction. Zach kissed her to thank her for not dragging them all through that again, then turned his attention to the source of his wife’s frustrations.

 

“Why are you here, Greenlee?” he asked evenly. He was tired of the drama that this woman brought into his life. Kendall’s crazy dance – the one he’d always found so charming – had turned into hysterics, and it was beginning to take a toll on all of them.

 

“I came to work with Kendall on developing a new fragrance for the fall line. This is what we do, Zach. We put a pot on the stove and start mixing. I know it sounds crazy, but it always works. At least it always did in the past. Now I don’t know if we’ll ever get back what we lost.” Greenlee turned away so they wouldn’t see the tear that ran down her cheek.

 

“Do you really want to?” Zach asked, his voice soft, but his tone accusing. “Do you?” he repeated when she turned on him angrily. He held up his hand to ward off her tirade. “Hear me out, Greenlee,” he said. “You tell me you miss Kendall and wish things could be the way they used to be, but then you torture her with things that never were. Why is that?” Greenlee shrugged, reminding Zach of a petulant child. He sighed wearily and turned back to Kendall. “Why are all these people here, Kendall?” he asked.

 

“For once, Greenlee is telling the truth. We were working on a new fragrance. Ian wasn’t feeling well and I didn’t want to leave him, so I asked her to come here to work on it. Everything went okay for a little while, but we ended up fighting. She yelled at me about betraying her and I apologized … again … but she didn’t want to hear it. So I asked her to leave. I didn’t want the kids to hear us screaming at each other, and we weren’t getting anything accomplished anyway. But she refused to leave. And when I went upstairs to check on Ian, she set the kitchen on fire.”

 

“That’s ridiculous!” Greenlee said as she hurried over to where Kendall stood with Zach. “See, Jesse. I told you she would lie,’ she said.

 

“Uh-huh,” Jesse deadpanned. “I knew you were gonna say that.” He scratched his head and squinted through the smoky haze at the source of the fire: a pot burning on the back of the stove. “So why don’t you tell me what really happened,” he urged.

 

“Of course,” Greenlee said brightly. “Kendall called me and begged me to come over here and help her do her job, namely coming up with a new fragrance for fall. As soon as I got here, she started in on me about forgiving her and didn’t she forgive me for kidnapping her son and blah, blah, blah.” She smirked at Kendall before continuing.

 

“Anyway, I was just trying to make her feel better about bonding with Aidan by explaining to her that Zach and I also bonded during that horrible ordeal. Maybe not physically,” she added when Zach started to protest, “but emotionally.” Zach groaned, but said nothing. He did, however, put his arm around Kendall and pull her closer.

 

“Well, Kendall started shrieking about how unfair it was and no way could I know her husband better than she does. I told her she needed to talk to you about that,” Greenlee said to Zach with mock innocence. Zach could feel the tension building in Kendall and knew it was time for Greenlee to leave. “Finish the story,” he demanded.

 

“That’s basically it. She got mad and I tried to leave, but she wouldn’t let me. She wanted me to suffer … as if I haven’t suffered enough. So she started a fire on the stove, then called 9-1-1 and told them I’d done it. She’s just trying to punish me for getting close to you, Zach. It wouldn’t be the first time she framed me for a crime I didn’t commit.”

 

“Shut up, Greenlee!” This time only Zach uttered the command.

 

“See what I mean, man?” Jesse said. “I don’t know what they’re talking about. So which one of these squeaky females should I believe?” Zach studied both women carefully. He knew what Greenlee was. Petty. Vindictive. Childish. Clingy. All of the things he hated in a woman. Which is why they had been at odds from the first day they met. And why they spent 4-1/2 of their 5 weeks in captivity at each other’s throats. Maybe it was time for both of them to put their “bonding” into perspective.

 

And then there was Kendall. The women he loved more than anyone, anything on earth. She was strong and independent. Generous and forgiving. She made him a better man. And how had he repaid her? By sitting back while her supposed best friend tormented her. Why? Maybe a part of him wanted to see Kendall suffer for her betrayal. Maybe he was just too tired for the drama. Or maybe he didn’t want to get caught in the middle of their endless war. Either way, he was in the middle of it now. So it was time to put an end to it, once and for all. He owed it to Kendall, and he owed it to himself.  He wanted his life back.

 

“Well, Jesse,” Zach began, “one of them I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with only a few months ago, and the other one I’ve pledged my life to. Which one do you think I believe?”

 

“Good enough for me,” Jesse said, glad to have the situation resolved. After all, there had been no real damage done. Just a little smoke and a lot of hostility. “Anybody here pressing charges?” he asked, addressing the women. When they both declined, he turned to go.

 

“By the way, I never really thanked you for making mine and Angie’s wedding so beautiful. I really appreciate all you did, both of you,” he said, including Kendall in his warm gaze. “Glad we could help,” Zach said as he shook the hand Jesse offered. Kendall hugged Jesse and turned back to Zach. “Isn’t he amazing?” she gushed. “Zach has staff,” she teased, winking at her husband.

 

Jesse noticed the way Greenlee’s eyes lowered, and he was still watching her when they returned to Zach’s face. Now it all made sense to him. “Oh, I see what’s goin’ on. This ain’t a police case, this is a case of the green-eyed monster!” he said, making a face to emphasize his point. “This is family business, and therefore none of mine. I’ll be in touch,” he said as he gathered his officers and left the Slater home.

 

Greenlee looked more vulnerable than either Zach or Kendall had ever seen her. But it was short-lived. Within seconds, her claws came out.

 

“Jealous! Me? Of what? Not you two, that’s for sure,” she said a little too loudly. “I don’t need either of you. I’ve got men clamoring to get into my bed.” She hurled the boast at Zach like an accusation, then waited for a response. None was forthcoming. After a few minutes of silence, Kendall nudged him.

 

“Me?” he said, choking on the word. He looked almost amused. “Is this where I’m supposed to get jealous? I’m sorry, Greenlee, but I don’t care who you sleep with.” He shook his head at her when she continued to glare at him. When he turned to walk away, she pounced.

 

“No, of course not. You could care less what I do … or who I do. All you care about is your precious Kendall. Well guess what Romeo? While your back was turned, Juliet was banging Mercutio.”

 

“Stop!” Zach roared. “I mean it, Greenlee. You’re gonna keep pushing me until I start to push back, and believe me, you won’t like it.” He took a step back, trying to put some distance between them. Kendall stepped back with him, but Greenlee stood her ground. Zach took a deep breath before leveling his gaze at their unwanted guest.

 

“Of course I care about Kendall,” he said calmly. “She’s my wife and I love her. I made promises to her before God that I’ve already broken. Don’t look so smug,” he added when Greenlee started to smile. “I didn’t break them for you. I broke them for Kendall. And for myself. I told myself I was just trying to protect her from the hurt of my feelings … from the pain and the black rage. But I was really just lying to myself. I did it because it was easier to swallow the pain than to deal with it. So I let you hurt Kendall in my place. But it’s enough, Greenlee. Do you hear me? I won’t let you do it anymore.”

 

“But Zach,” Greenlee pleaded, “what we have is special. More special than just a wife. Hell, most men go through several wives, they’re dispensable. Especially for a rich, good looking man like you. But how many people can say they were trapped in that hole with you? Huh? How many? One, Zach. Just one. Me.”

 

“You’re wrong,” Zach said softly. “It wasn’t just you and me. Kendall and Aidan were trapped there too. And you know what, Greenlee? Your face wasn’t what made me fight. You weren’t the one who came to me in my delirium and helped me hang on. You were never my reason to survive, and I was never yours. So when did I become the most important person in your life?”

 

Greenlee laughed, but it wasn’t joyful. It was full of bitterness. “When my best friend screwed me over by screwing my boyfriend!” she spat. “You know, Zach, I thought you of all people would understand. You’re in the same boat I am. We were both betrayed by the people we loved most.”

 

Zach nodded and squeezed Kendall’s hand. “Yes, we were. And I do understand your pain. But Kendall’s mistake doesn’t erase my feelings for her. She’s still the person I love most. Not past tense, Greenlee. Love. Now and forever, until the day I die. Now if you don’t love Aidan enough to fight for him, that’s your business. But what happens between Kendall and me is our business – mine and hers. Not yours.”

 

Greenlee hung her head in defeat, but Zach wasn’t finished. “I think you should leave, Greenlee. And I don’t want you to come back. Not until you can accept what happened without attacking Kendall. I’ve listened to all the crude references I intend to. Find a way to live with it, or move on.” He handed Greenlee her purse and watched as she walked quietly out of the room.

 

When Kendall turned to go after her, he followed. He didn’t want to listen to anymore fighting tonight. That’s not what he rushed home for. But as it turned out, he was worried for nothing. Kendall didn’t say a word to Greenlee. She watched from the front door as Greenlee climbed into her car and drove away. Then she locked the door and turned back to her husband.

 

“Hi,” she said shyly, gifting him with a smile. “Hi yourself,” he replied as he pulled her into his arms and gave her the kiss he’d been waiting two weeks for. He smiled arrogantly when she went limp in his arms. Maybe she missed him just a little, too.

 

“How’s Ian?” he asked as he led her upstairs. “He’s fine. When the police came, I had Rachel take him and Spike to visit Emma. I’m sure they’ll be gone for hours.” “Hours, huh?” Zach said as they entered their bedroom. “What should we do with all that time?” he asked.

 

Kendall laughed when he buried his face in her neck. “I know!” she said. “Why don’t we go downstairs and clean up the mess in the kitchen.” “No, I don’t feel like it,” Zach said. “What do you feel like?” Kendall replied as she ran her hands over his chest, sliding his jacket from his shoulders. “You tell me,” he growled. Then he straightened up and walked over to the dresser, removing his cuff links as he went. His eye was drawn to the calendar sitting on top of the dresser. When he started to laugh, Kendall joined him.

 

“Don’t you ever check this thing?” he asked. “Why on earth would you invite Greenlee over to cook, today of all days?” Kendall peeked around him to see what was so funny and ended up joining in the laughter. There, written on the calendar, was today’s wacky holiday … Kitchen Klutzes of America Day.

 

“Welcome home, Zach,” Kendall said as she tossed the calendar over her shoulder and pushed him down onto the bed. “I may be a klutz in the kitchen,” she purred, “but let me show you what I can do in the bedroom.”


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Roseann

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Reply with quote  #146 

Thanks, Karen!  Great way to start a Monday morning...

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