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Thanks everybody, for the encouragement. Glad we're all on the same page.
What Kendall wants, Kendall gets
Kendall slumped in her chair. "How do you know about that?" she asked. "I saw it. I watched Dixie leave the dining room just after you and Simone did. When you were gone so long, I got worried. I got there just in time to see her push you, then fall herself. "Why didn't you help her? she asked. "I did. I alerted the staff that she might need help." "And that's all? Is your white horse in the shop?" she asked, still a little surprised that he hadn't come running to Dixie's rescue.
"Kendall, my white horse only answers to one call now. And I could see that you were okay. You are okay, aren't you?" he asked, suddenly concerned. She nodded. "Yes, I'm okay. But my shoe didn't make it out alive," she said, holding out her leg to show him her broken heel. "Oh, sorry," he said with a smile. They both knew he didn't care about her shoes. But he did have an appreciation for her legs. "Anyway," he continued, before he got distracted. "I didn't want Dixie to know that I witnessed the fall, or more importantly, the push. I'm not ready to confront her with what I know just yet." His rational thinking made Kendall feel ashamed. "Zach, are you mad at me for not trying to help her? Are you ashamed of me?" He brought her hand to his lips, kissing it softy. "Sweetheart, I'm not here to judge you. And I could never be ashamed of you. Ever."
She relaxed and dove into the meal that had just been put in front of her. "You never answered my question, Kendall. Were you going to tell me about the push?" Zach asked between bites of his own dinner. He looked up when Kendall didn't answer and caught her eyeing his plate. He cut a bite of his steak, speared it with his fork, and offered it to her. She took the bite and rolled her eyes as she chewed it. He laughed as he cut off a larger piece and placed it on her plate. She grinned broadly, but didn't refuse it.
"Yes, I was going to tell you. I just wanted to wait until we got home," she finally answered. "I didn't want to ruin our date by spending the whole evening talking about Dixie Martin. But since we are, let me ask you a question. Why were you worried?" Do you think she's a threat to me?" "Well, she was pretty angry with you today. Even angrier when I backed you up," Zach answered. Kendall smiled again over that scenario, but her mouth was too full to speak. "But I guess we have our answer now," he said.
Kendall couldn't resist. "So what are you gonna do about it," she asked. He laughed. "Oh God. Not that. Anything but that. Okay, message received." He raised his hands in surrender. "We won't talk about it anymore tonight. She's fine. You're more than fine. And it seems we are on a date," he said with a smile. "Dixie can wait until tomorrow." "Dixie can rot in hell," Kendall replied. "I'm sorry," she immediately said in response to his raised eyebrow. "No you're not," he grinned. "No. I'm not."
Kendall's dessert arrived and all thoughts of Dixie were gone. She had more important things to deal with, like the gorgeous man across from her who dared to sneak a bite from her plate.
"Mr. Slater, have you got a second? I have something I'd like you to take a look at." Zach looked up to see his Chief of Security standing in the doorway of his office. "Sure, Jim," he answered. "Come on in." Jim Garrett was in charge of security over all of Zach's casinos. He knew everything and everybody. Zach trusted him completely. "Can I get you something to drink?" Zach offered as he walked over to the bar. "Just water would be great, Mr. Slater." Zach handed him the water and gave him a pointed look. They'd had this discussion before. "Sorry ... Zach," the man corrected. Zach nodded and returned to sit behind his desk.
"So, what have you got for me?" Zach asked. "Maybe something. Maybe nothing. But it's definitely worth taking a look at," Garrett replied as he tossed the folder he was holding onto the desk. "You wouldn't lie to me, would you boss? Or am I being tested?" "What?" Zach said as he reached for the folder. Garrett watched him carefully for a reaction. He needed to know if he was being scammed. He got just the reaction he was hoping for: total surprise.
Zach literally flinched when he saw the picture. He thumbed through the stack, still amazed at what they showed ... him and Dixie standing in the middle of the casino in Atlantic City. "But how is this possible?" he asked. "I never met Dixie before I came to Pine Valley." "It appears you did, Zach," Garrett said, stating the obvious. "Here, I have located the video from that day." He pointed to a disc in the folder and watched as Zach popped it into his computer. They both watched as Dixie approached Zach while he was doing a walk-through on the casino floor. The had a very brief, uneventful conversation. Then he shook her hand and walked away. Although he didn't realize it, she had followed him all the way to the private elevator. A split screen showed all the different camera angles that had recorded their progress.
Zach was stunned. "I honestly don't remember talking to her," he shrugged. "I guess you made more of an impression on her than she did on you," Garrett said. "Why hasn't she mentioned it?" Zach wondered. "She's been lying to me from the very beginning. But why? What is she hiding?" He rubbed his face roughly and started to stand when Garrett's next words stopped him dead in his tracks. "I think I know why boss," he said. "I haven't shown you everything yet."
"Well hello there," Dixie purred to the young man sitting on a stool at the casino bar. She'd been waiting around all afternoon, hoping to run into Zach, but without any luck. She had just decided to give up and go home when she spotted Josh Madden across the room. Maybe her luck was changing.
"Um, hello Dixie," Josh said warily. "Does Kendall know you're here?" Dixie was instantly outraged. "Kendall! Why, do I have to clear my schedule with her now? This is still a public place isn't it?" "I guess," Josh said, bemused by her acute overreaction. "Besides," Dixie continued, "I can handle Kendall. That skinny little girl is no threat to me." "Don't let size fool you. A steak knife can kill you just as good as a machete," Josh said. "Just ask Zach." "Whatever," Dixie said, rolling her eyes.
"Listen, I didn't come over here to talk about Kendall. What's a girl have to do to get a drink around here?" she asked, leaning into him suggestively. "Gosh, I don't know," Josh answered, taking a step back. "Maybe whip out your wallet, walk over to the man behind the bar, and tell him what you want. You might try that." "C'mon, Josh. Why so cold? You used to be a lot friendlier. Remember? You tried to pick me up in this very bar once," she said. She was batting her eyelashes so hard she was creating a breeze. "I don't have a room here anymore, but I bet we could find someplace to sneak off to and have a private party." She gave him a smile meant to be sexy, but was in reality just creepy. He'd had enough. "Look lady," Josh snapped. "I'm not a doctor anymore. And now that I have to pay for the penicillin, I'm a lot more careful about what I expose myself to. Besides," he said over his shoulder as he turned to go. "I'm not into that whole Mrs. Robinson thing."
He started to leave, but stopped abruptly when he realized Zach was standing right behind them. In fact, Josh had to take a step backwards to keep from slamming into his brother-lin-law. "Sorry, Zach. Didn't know you were standing there," he said, nervously wondering how much Zach had overheard. "Everything okay?" Zach asked. Josh nodded sheepishly while Zach turned his attention to Dixie. At the mention of his name, she'd come to full attention and was now trying to pull herself together.
"Hello Dixie," Zach said mildly. He put his hand on Josh's shoulder and smiled. "I see you've met our newest employee. Josh is now the vice-president of public relations for Slater-Hart Gaming. This kid's a real go-getter." Josh looked a little uncomfortable. "Well, it was great of you guys to give me the opportunity," he stammered. Although he was still getting his feet wet in this field, it wasn't very different from his job as producer for New Beginnings. And working for his sister was a lot easier than working for his mother. God, he still couldn't get used to calling Erica his mother. And he knew he'd never be able to call her mom.
"Wait a minute," Dixie interrupted, steadying herself as if the room was spinning. "I thought he was a doctor," she said to Zach. "He was. Still is, I guess, technically speaking. Ah, it's a long story," he said. "Yeah, a none-of-your-damn-business long story," Josh said as he turned on Dixie again. "Josh, why don't you head back upstairs?" Zach said calmly. "I'd like to speak to Dixie alone." Dixie preened while Josh glared. "Watch your back," he said to Zach as he walked past him.
"So Zach," Dixie cooed. "What did you want to see me about? Is it about Kate?" she asked eagerly. It occurred to Zach that Dixie never came to him with any new information about Kate. She just sat back and waited for him to find her. This from the woman who supposedly spent four years dogging Madden's every move? Something didn't add up. And now he knew what that something was.
"Nothing on Kate yet," he said as he took a seat beside her. "No, I was just remembering the day we met. Do you remember that day?" he asked casually. "Do I!" she gushed, then caught herself. "I mean, yes. Of course I do. Why do you ask?" "No reason. Just thinking. It was at the cemetery, right?" Zach asked. "Um, yeah Zach. You know it was. Don't you remember how oddly romantic it was?" she said. She looked at him like a cat looks at a bowl of cream. He didn't know whether to laugh or run.
"Romantic? Dixie, I was standing over my son's grave, mourning the loss of everything I held precious. Where's the romance in that?" He tried not to sound annoyed, but she made it difficult. "Oh, I don't know," she said wistfully. Maybe it was the moonlight. Or the way you opened your soul to me and let me open mine to you ..." she stopped talking and stared starry-eyed into space. Zach made his decision. It was definitely time to run. He looked down at his watch. "Hey, Dixie. I have to go. Didn't realize it was so late. I'll see you around," he said as he headed for the exit. And for the warm safety of home. "Oh, I'll be around Zach," Dixie said to his retreating back. "Whether you see me or not."
Kendall stood in the kitchen, up to her elbows in the cookie jar, when she heard footsteps behind her. She froze, as if it would make her somehow invisible, and then realized what she was doing. A grown woman sneaking her own cookies from her own cookie jar. She laughed and turned to see who had entered, but the arms around her waist stopped her movement. "Can I have a bite?" Zach said in her ear. "If you must," she said playfully as she turned in his arms and offered him her cookie. "Oh, okay. You thought I meant the cookie," he said as he flashed his eyes at her and took a big bite. She started to smile, but frowned instead when she saw how much of the cookie was missing. He reached behind her and pulled out another cookie. He handed it to her, then went to the refrigerator and poured a glass of milk.
"Here, drink this. It's good for you," he said. "No thank, honey. You drink it. I feel more like a soft drink." "Kendall," he said in a warning tone. "You need to drink the milk." She looked at him suspiciously. "Why?" she asked, watching him closely. "Because it's good for-" he started. "Zach Slater! How did you know? Dammit, I wanted to surprise you. I was working on a plan. Something really romantic." Zach was taken aback. Today was the day his gentle little wife made him a liar. She, Kendall Hart-Slater, was pouting.
"Sweetheart," he said as he pulled her back into his arms. "I didn't mean to ruin anything. Go ahead and plan it and I'll act surprised. Okay?" he said as stroked her hair. She pulled back to see his face. "How did you know, Zach? I only went to the doctor yesterday." She frowned. "You're not still having me followed, are you?" "Of course not. You forget, I was married to a pregnant woman. I know all the signs." "What signs?" she asked innocently. He threw his head back and laughed.
"Oh no. There's no way I'm answering that!" he said. "Not if I want to spend another night holding my beautiful wife in my arms while she sleeps. And I do." Kendall punched him, and then hugged him tightly. "What do you want, Zach, a boy or a girl?" "Uh huh," he answered. She punched him again to let him know she didn't appreciate the non-answer. "Just promise me one thing," he said. "If it's a girl, promise me you won't name her Buffy."
Zach walked into their bedroom and found Kendall asleep in the chair. He had just finished rocking Spike to sleep and was ready to tell Kendall what he'd found out about Dixie. But apparently she had other plans. He intended to tell her all about it over dinner, but baby talk dominated that conversation. Just as he bent to pick her up, she opened her eyes. So he leaned in and kissed her instead. "Ready for bed?" he asked. "Yeah, in a minute. First I want you to tell me what's on your mind." She smiled at the incredulous look on his face. "See, it's unnerving isn't it? Well, you're not the only one who can read minds around here mister. So spill it. What's bothering you?'
Zach picked Kendall up, sat down in the chair she'd been sleeping in, and settled her on his lap. "I had a visit from Jim Garrett this morning," he began. "You remember him don't you?" "Yes. He's head of security, right?" she nodded. "Yep. Anyway, he brought me some photos and a video of an encounter I had with Dixie at the casino in Atlantic City just over three years ago." She sat up quickly. "What kind of encounter? You never told me you knew Dixie before you came to Pine Valley," she said, confused and a little suspicious. "That's because I didn't remember it. Still don't. But pictures don't lie. And even when they do, video doesn't."
Zach laid her head back on his shoulder. He looked forward to these quiet little moments when it was just the two of them. It still amazed him how much his life had changed since meeting this woman. That's really why he was so forgiving of Erica. How much could he hate the woman who gave him Kendall?
"What do you think it means?" Kendall asked, interrupting his thoughts. "I mean, she never mentioned it to you, right? So why not?" "I wondered the same thing. And Jim had the answer." Kendall sat up again so Zach gave up trying to keep her calm. "I already had my men investigating a man who had been linked to Greg Madden around the time Kate was born." He stopped when Kendall yawned loudly.
"Kendall honey, you need to go to bed. We can talk about this in the morning." "Are you crazy? You can't just leave me hanging like that. Tell me what Garrett said," she demanded. "Okay," Zach said, amused by her mood swings. "Well anyway, in several of the photos he had of my meeting with Dixie, this guy can be seen in the background, watching us. And pictures from just before I came on the floor show Dixie talking to this man and another woman." Kendall was speechless, but it was short-lived. "Zach! Did that guy have Kate?" She looked at Zach, but didn't give him time to answer. "You don't mean ... it can't be. Did Dixie find her daughter three years ago?"
She grabbed his hand and waited for him to answer. "I think so, but I can't be sure. Not yet. We haven't located the man yet. And until I do, I'm not ready to confront Dixie. I did trap her in the lie this afternoon. She told me she'd never met me before the cemetery, even though I think she was suspicious of my reason for asking about it. She just keeps lying. Until I know her angle, I'm hesitant to show my cards."
"Can I see the pictures?" Kendall asked. "I knew you'd say that. They're on the dresser," he answered, pointing across the room. Kendall hurried to get them. "So where did you see Dixie?" she asked. "The casino. She hung around all afternoon, but I managed to avoid her most of that time. I did catch her hitting on Josh, though," he said with a smile. "First my husband, and now my brother. What a slut! I guess I better put Jack on notice, huh?" she snapped as she settled herself back on Zach's lap with the pictures in her hand. "Which one is him. Show me," she said. Zach leafed through the photos until he found the one with Dixie and the couple. "That's him," Zach said. Kendall's mouth fell open and her eyes got wide. "Oh my God, Zach. I know where you can find this guy. The woman he's with," she said, looking into his eyes, "That's Ryan's new friend, Annie."
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