What Kendall wants, Kendall gets
Dixie slammed the phone down and started cursing aloud in the empty room. She knew Zach was shrewd, but she had underestimated him. She wasn’t ready for him to know the truth yet. That wasn’t supposed to happen until she had managed to break up his marriage. Once Zach was hers and Kendall was back with Ryan, then she would tell Zach everything. But not now. Not like this. It was time for Plan B. Instead of waiting for Zach to fall in love with her, she had to help him fall out of love with Kendall. She grabbed her purse and hurried out the door, letting it slam behind her.
Zach had just pulled into his private parking space at the casino when the urge to throw it in reverse and speed away overtook him. But it was too late. He’d been spotted. “Ah hell,” he muttered to himself as he stepped out of the car. “Hello Dixie,” he said, not really bothering to hide his aggravation. “Oh Zach, I’m so glad I found you. Why haven’t you been answering your phone?” she asked. He ignored the question just as he had ignored her calls. “You’ve got me now. So what is it?” “You won’t believe it, Zach. I have found a lead on Kate. I think she’s right here in Pine Valley. But I need you to go with me. I’m too nervous to go alone,” she said, excited and out of breath. “Slow down,” Zach said calmly. “Tell me who ... where?” He hadn’t expected this move. Maybe Dixie was smarter than he’d given her credit for. “I think Ryan Lavery has my daughter,” she said in a rush.
Zach was aware of the fact that she was watching him very closely for a reaction. But he didn’t win his first casino by letting his thoughts show on his face. He was better than that. “Lavery?” he said, but nothing more. Now he knew her game. She was on to him. But how. Lavery! They must be in this together. But why?” Still that nagging question. Why? Rather than treat Dixie to an emmy-worthy performance, he simply said, “Let’s go.”
Kendall has just gotten settled at her desk when Ryan called in a panic. “Kendall! I need you to get over here quick. I’m at the condo. Spike needs you,” he said and then hung up. “Ryan!” she screamed into the phone. She hit the redial as she ran for the elevator, but he didn’t answer. She raced to the condo, trying repeatedly to get Ryan on the phone. She even tried to call Zach, but he didn’t answer and his voice mail was full.
When she got to Ryan’s she burst through the door, not bothering to knock, and found Ryan holding Spike, cooing at him and laughing. She was furious. Laughing? “Ryan Lavery, you bastard! You scared the hell out of me!” she screamed. “Oh, Kendall. I am so sorry. It was supposed to be just me and Spike today ... no nannies, no job. Just us guys. But he wouldn’t stop crying and I started to think something was really wrong. I got scared and I panicked. But he’s fine now. I’m really sorry,” he said.
Kendall walked over and put her hand on Spike’s head to see if he felt warm. He seemed okay. He was in a great mood, not fussy at all. She was so relieved, but still angry. “My God, Ryan. You could have called and told me it was a false alarm. I was going out of my mind,” she said with a sigh. “What else can I say, Kendall. You’re right and I am sorry. Bad Ryan,” he said as he slapped himself on the side of the head.
“Here, have a seat and I’ll get you something to drink. You’ll feel better.” He placed Spike in his bassinet and went to the kitchen for some water. “No thanks. I don’t want it,” she said as he shoved the glass at her. “C’mon Kendall. You look a little pale. I know,” he said when she shot him a look. “My fault. So drink it for me. For Spike.” “Fine,” she snapped as she took the glass and drank. The water was so cool and refreshing, and she was thirstier than she thought. She ended up draining it in one long sip.“Thank you,” she said as she moved to put the glass on the coffee table. It fell out of her hand and hit the floor as the room started to spin. “Ryan?” she said in a faraway voice. “Oh God, please tell me you didn’t ...” Then everything went black.
Zach was suspicious. His instincts told him something was very wrong. Dixie had been oddly quiet on the way to Ryan’s, and she kept looking at her watch. When they got there, she insisted Zach go in first. The front door was ajar, so knocking wasn’t necessary. Zach slowly pushed open the door and called Ryan’s name. “Must not be home,” he said to Dixie. “He has to be,” she answered too quickly. “I mean, the door was open, right?” Zach hadn’t noticed Kendall’s car in the parking lot, but he did recognize the purse sitting on the couch. When he went to pick it up, he noticed Spike in the bassinet. He went over and picked him up. “Hey buddy,” he said in a soft voice. “What’s going on around here. Where’s your mom?” He bounced the boy a couple of times, kissed him and put him back down.
When he heard the noises coming from the other room, he knew exactly what was going on. He gave Dixie a murderous look and then busted through the bedroom door. Rage. Blind rage consumed him. There was his beautiful wife, lying under the covers with Ryan partially on top of her, strategically covering her face. Zach literally roared as he walked over and threw the covers back, revealing both Ryan and Kendall in their underwear. Zach grabbed Ryan by the back of the neck and hurled him across the room. Then he covered Kendall back up before turning to Dixie.
“Close the door,” Zach said in a dangerously low voice. “I said close the damn door!” he repeated in a louder voice when she didn’t move fast enough. “What did you give her?” he asked Ryan. “Just something to make her sleep. It won’t hurt her. I promise,” he answered in a voice that was high and tight. “You promise. Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Zach said. “If you’ve hurt her, I swear to God I will kill you... both!” he added as he shifted his gaze to include Dixie. He turned back to Kendall and called her name while he gently patted her face. She turned toward the sound of his voice and curled into a ball. Her breathing was deep and even, telling Zach that she really was just asleep.
“Stop right there,” Zach yelled to Ryan as he tried to sneak out the bedroom door. “Sit your ass back down and wait.” Zach picked up Ryan’s clothes from the floor and flung them at him. “Get dressed. You don’t want to die like that.” Then Zach disappeared out the door, only to return a second later with Spike. He placed the sleeping boy beside his mother and stood there for a moment watching them. Turning his attention back to Ryan, he stalked him around the room until he was cornered. Then he punched him in the nose, feeling great satisfaction when he heard and felt it break. Ryan howled. “What in the hell were you two thinking?” he asked. He was calmer now, although he was itching to pop Dixie too. Seeing Ryan bleeding and in pain always made him feel better. He took a deep breath and sat down on the bed. Kendall was okay. He kept telling himself that over and over.
“Dixie,” Zach began. “You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to show me how demanding, manipulative and weak my wife is. That is what I’m supposed to think, right?” She didn’t answer, just stood there trying to look innocent. “Well, all you’ve proven to me is how right Kendall has been all along. And that you don’t know her at all. He reached over and stroked her face before continuing. “I shouldn't expect you to know any better, Dixie. You have made no effort to get to know Kendall, to ever even give her the benefit of the doubt. But Ryan, I sure as hell expected more from you. If you thought for one second that this fiasco would work ... well then, you don’t know Kendall, or me, at all.”
“Zach,” Dixie said. “Ryan needs a doctor. Let us go and you can stay here until Kendall wakes up.” “Are you crazy?” Zach asked incredulously. “Nobody is going anywhere until I get some answers. “What is this all about? Did the two of you really think it would work? Was I just supposed to storm out of here and not even notice that my wife was unconscious?” Ryan and Dixie just looked at each other. Zach got up and walked over to Ryan. He pressed the heel of his hand on Ryan’s nose and pushed, causing him to scream in pain. “Okay! Okay!,” Ryan said finally. “Get away from me you sadistic son of a bitch and I’ll tell you everything.” Zach returned to his place on the bed and looked from Ryan to Dixie.
“You just gonna stand there and let me take all the punishment, Dixie?” Ryan said angrily. She just looked at him blankly and shrugged. “Bitch!” he spat before turning to Zach. “I’ll tell you everything,” he said, sounding like a tattling child. “Dixie knows that Annie’s daughter is really Kate. When Terry, Annie’s husband, turned out to be a monster, Annie called Dixie. She was willing to give Emma up just to keep her safe. But Dixie didn’t want her. She only wants you.” He stopped to gauge Zach’s reaction. Of course, there wasn’t one. “So she sent Annie to The Miranda Center, knowing that she would meet Erin there. She called me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. If I would keep Annie and Emma safe, she would help me get Kendall back. She would lure you away. Then, when you were married, she would be sure you went back to Vegas, leaving me and Kendall here to raise our son together. That’s all I know, man. That’s all she told me.”
“So all of this here today was to make me think that Kendall was having an affair so I’d leave her and turn to you?” he asked Dixie. “Why not?” she replied. “You and I are getting close, Zach. We could be really good together if Kendall wasn’t in the way.” Zach buried his face in his hands. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Choose me, Zach. I know you want me.” Dixie blurted out, finally laying it all on the line.
“You crazy bitch,” Zach growled, his face still buried in his hands. “You crazy, delusional, deranged ...” He finally looked at her, and she immediately wished he hadn’t. All she saw was pity and scorn. “Dixie, I would rather die than be with you. Do you understand that? Kendall is my wife. I have already chosen, and I want her. And nothing you say or do is going to change that. You have underestimated Kendall from the very beginning. That was your first mistake.” “And my second?” she asked. “Underestimating me.”
Before he could say anything else, his phone rang. “Slater,” he said as he eyed his audience. “Who? Are you sure? I’ll be there.” He got up and opened the bedroom door. “Out! Both of you. I have an appointment, so we’ll have to finish this later.” “Do you need me to stay with Kendall?” Ryan asked. “Hell no!” Zach said vehemently. “I will take care of my family. You can take care of your face, and your accomplice. And Lavery, if the cops show up at my door, look for the coroner to show up at yours.”
“God, you two are ridiculous,” Dixie said. “This girl must be some kind of fantastic in bed. What else could she possibly have to offer?” She stared down at Kendall bitterly before turning to leave. “C’mon Ryan. I’ll drive you to the hospital. “Go to hell, Dixie. I’ll get there by myself. No wait,” he called to stop her from leaving. “I forgot something.” He walked over to her and slapped her hard across the face. Then he turned and walked out. “Zach,” she whined as she rubbed her face. “Are you just gonna let him assault me like that?” He just stared at her. “I thought we were friends, Zach. Don’t believe all those lies. Ryan would say anything to get your wife into his bed.”
She stopped talking when Zach came to stand directly in front of her. He grabbed her by the throat and pushed her up against the wall. “Get this straight,” he said in a voice that was cold and dark. “We are not friends. We will never be lovers. I wouldn’t be with you even if I’d never met Kendall. Get out of here, right now. And don’t ever put your face in front of me again.” He released her and grabbed her arm, roughly escorting her to the door. He shoved her through it and slammed it in her face. Then he gathered his sleeping family in his arms and went home.
Kendall started to stir just as Zach laid her gently on the bed. “What’s going on here?” she asked in a sleepy voice. “Are you trying to have a little fun without me?” He smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Zach?” she said questioning him with her eyes. She looked down and noticed that she was wrapped in a sheet. Then her memory came flooding back. She bolted upright and pushed herself back against the headboard. “Oh God, Zach. What happened? Please tell me he didn’t ... we didn’t.” “Shhhh, it’s all right,” he said as he settled himself beside her and pulled her into his arms. “No, he didn’t do anything but make a fool of himself. Can you tell me what you remember?” She pulled her arms out of the sheet and wrapped them around Zach. “Well, I remember Ryan calling me at Fusion to say that he had an emergency with Spike. I tried to call you, but you didn’t answer and your voice mail was full,” she added. “Dammit,” he said. “Dixie,” they said in unison. “Anyway, when I got there everything was fine. He said I looked pale and forced a glass of water on me. Then the room started spinning and everything went black. Next thing I know, I’m here, on this bed. Where’s Spike?” she said, no longer wanting him to be anywhere near Ryan Lavery, sperm donor or not.
“He’s fine sweetheart. I just asked his nanny to take him outside for some fresh air.” “Oh no, Zach. You don’t think what Ryan gave me could hurt the baby, do you?” she asked as she placed her hand on her still flat stomach. He placed his hand over hers. “No, I don’t think so. He said it was just a sleeping pill, and you weren’t out for that long. But we should probably call the doctor, just in case. How do you feel?” “I feel great, actually. I guess I really needed the rest. Remind me to thank Ryan,” she said with a smile. “I already thanked him for both of us,” he replied dryly.
“So, what was the plan? Why did Ryan drug me? And how on earth did you find me?” she asked. There were now a million questions running through her mind. “The plan,” he said, “Was to divide and conquer. Ryan and Dixie arranged for me to catch you in the act of adultery, then I divorce you and turn to Dixie. And you, of course, run into the open arms of Lavery.” “Well, I guess that explains why I’m in my underwear,” she said. “So Dixie was responsible for luring you to Ryan’s? How did she do it?”
“She told me she had a new lead and that she thought Kate was with Lavery,” Zach said. He heard Kendall gasp. “Yep. She knows that we’re on to her. She was desperate and, fortunately for us, stupid.” He put his finger under Kendall’s chin, gently pulling her head up so he could see her face. “Can you believe they thought that would work? They actually thought I’d believe such a ridiculous setup?” She gave him a warm smile, full of love and contentment. “They just don’t know you at all, do they hubby?” She put her hand on the back of his neck and pulled him to her, kissing him while she stroked his hair. “Thank you, Zach. Thank for rescuing me. And thank you for believing in me. I love you more than I will ever be able to tell you.” He returned the kiss, content to lay there forever, holding his wife in his arms. This was where she belonged.
“You know, Kendall. I don’t know where it all went wrong with Dixie. I just wanted to help her, to be the friend I thought she needed. After all, she’s the reason we have Spike.” They had been laying in their bedroom for quite a while, enjoying the silence and the alone time. But Zach couldn’t seem to turn his mind off. “Zach, she didn’t save Spike. You did. She gave you just enough information to keep you dependent on her. She could have done a lot more. And a hell of a lot sooner. But she didn’t. You are the one who gave me our precious son. Not Dixie. She just lured you into her web of lies.” she said.
But how did I miss all the signs?” he asked. “She wanted you to miss it, Zach. She’s been lying to you and manipulating you from the very beginning,” she said. “But why? I still can’t figure out her motive.” Poor Zach, Kendall thought. Totally naive about his appeal to women, and what some women would do to get what they want. “I’ve already told you why. You. She loves you, Zach,” she said. “That’s not love. It’s something else, something ugly. You love me, Kendall, but would you give up your son for me?” he asked. She didn’t answer. She couldn’t. She blinked vacantly and her mouth went dry. She thought about it, but she honestly didn’t know the answer. “I would willingly lay down my life for you both. But I could never give either of you up. I could never choose between you.” “I’m sorry, Kendall. That was an unfair question,” he said as he stroked her hair. He was humbled beyond words that she even had to think about it. Maybe she was right. Maybe he hadn’t understood the depth of her love for him. He always knew he would kill or die for her, but he never thought about her feeling just as strongly. It brought tears to his eyes.
“No. It’s a fair question. And please don’t misunderstand me. I love Spike more than my own life. But I don’t love him more than you. Just differently. Two different pieces of my heart. I wouldn’t survive without either of you. Do you understand what I mean?” she asked, annoyed with her inability to put her feelings into words. “I understand. I just didn’t realize, I guess,” he said softly. She looked up at him and saw the unshed tears. She held his face in her hands and kissed him softly on the lips. The she laid her head on his chest and held him tight.
Zach walked down the corridor, feeling oddly out of place. This was one place he’d never been. He couldn’t imagine why he was here now. But he had been summoned. And he was far too curious to let it go unanswered. No, he’d just have to play it out and see what happened. Everything was gray, and the fluorescent lights seemed so harsh. And the antiseptic smell of places like this always made him feel a little sick. If you weren’t crazy coming in, you’d sure be crazy leaving.
He waited until his arrival had been announced, then proceeded to the room number he’d been given. He waited while the attendant unlocked the door, then stepped inside. He looked around the depressing room, finally resting his eyes on the lone occupant. “Okay, Janet. I’m here. Now what is it you have to tell me?”