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Well, this is it. Last chapter. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I'm really gonna miss this story. And I can't tell you how much I appreciate the enthusiastic response of you wonderful ladies.
What Kendall wants, Kendall gets
"Tad? Oh Tad! Thank God you're here," Dixie cried. "Please, you've got to help me." "Say it again, Dixie. Say please. Beg for my help now ... that's so typical. You never want my help when it matters, only when it saves your backside," Tad said. "Well, I am no longer interested in saving your backside, or any other part of you, Dixie. Believe it or not, I no longer care what happens to you," he said, throwing up his hands. "So you're just gonna leave me here to die? I can't believe that Tad," she returned. "Then don't believe it. I told you it was your choice. But I gotta say, seeing you all trussed up like a turkey, it just feels right."
"Nice work Slater. This is all quite a little boost to your ego, huh?" Tad said as he turned to face Zach. "All these women fighting over you. Here you have the blonde and the brunette. Where's the redhead?" "You mean like Opal?" Zach replied with a knowing smile. "You should be so lucky. But wait, there is Myrtle. We all know she's the president of your fan club," Tad said sarcastically. "Ah, Fargate. You've got me there," Zach conceded. "But there's no need to be jealous. Myrtle and I are just friends."
"Um ... hello. Woman in a hammock over here," Dixie interjected. "In a minute," Tad said over his shoulder. "Just hang on." Zach laughed at Tad's choice of words, but Dixie didn't find it funny at all. "Come on guys, get me down before I start to draw a crowd. Do you really want the police to show up right now?" she asked. Tad and Zach looked at each other and shrugged. "She's got a point, Slater," Tad said. "Yeah, on her head," Kendall said under her breath. Then she stood back while Tad and Zach freed Dixie.
"Well, Kendall. How long have you been here?" Dixie sneered. "Ryan and I finished early, so I decided to pop on over and see what Zach was up to," Kendall snapped. "God Dixie, how typical! Don't call 911 or even your own family. Call Zach. Always Zach. You are a creepy, pathetic loser." Zach moved to stand next to Kendall, pulling her into his side. "Who did you call out for when you were up here, Kendall? That's right, Zach. So who are you to judge me?" Dixie said. "Is that a confession?" Zach asked. "Let's just stop playing this game, shall we? I'm tired of it all," Dixie said warily. She walked over to Tad and wrapped her arms around him. "Tad, please take me home," she purred. "Home?" Tad said, stunned. "Dixie, we don't have a ..." his words died out when he realized what she'd done. He stepped back, shaking his head. "No, Dixie," he pleaded.
"Get over there with the rest of the backstabbers," Dixie ordered as she waved the gun she had just taken from him in his face. "I'm in charge now." She moved them closer to the rail, leaving herself access to the door so she could make a fast getaway. But not yet. First she had a few things to take care of. "You know, Zach. You made a big mistake. You and I could have been so great together. But you wouldn't listen. You let that stupid slut you married get into your head. All I can say is she must be great in bed. Of course, there are plenty of men in town who can confirm that, aren't there? Instead of worrying so much about the Cambias curse, you should have been protecting yourself from the Kane curse. It's far more deadly."
Dixie's eyes widened as Zach started to approach her. "That's it, Dixie. I've let you get away with insulting my wife for the last time. You were warned," he said as he advanced. "Stay back, Zach. I don't want to shoot you, but I will. Please don't make me hurt you." But he just kept coming. She started backing away from him, moving closer to the door. She had a decision to make. Would she shoot him, or not? While she stood there, trying to make up her mind, the door opened and she fell backward. She looked up to see Ryan Lavery's surprised face standing over her. "What's going on up here?" he asked. "Great, now we've got a rapist to go along with our gun-toting lunatic," Kendall said. Dixie quickly regained her footing and pushed Ryan toward the rest of the group. Zach was still uncooperative. "Okay, okay, Zach. I'm sorry for saying what I did about Kendall," she lied. "You're apologizing to the wrong person," he said as he stopped several feet in front of her. "That's all I'm willing to do," she said sharply. "Not good enough," he said as he again started toward her.
Kendall rushed to Zach's side. "Please, Zach. Don't do it. Let her say whatever she wants about me. It doesn't matter," she pleaded. "It matters to me," he said. He moved to position himself in front of Kendall, but she was too quick for him. She ran over to Dixie determined to get the gun away from her. She wasn't gonna let this crazy psycho play with their lives any longer. She lunged for Dixie, grabbing for the gun, but Dixie was stronger. She managed to not only hold onto the gun, but to use Kendall as a shield between her and the men. Zach and Ryan were both screaming at Dixie to let Kendall go. Tad looked like he wanted to cry. He didn't recognize this woman at all.
"Okay now. This is more like it," Dixie said. "Now I've got everybody's undivided attention. Now you're all gonna listen. Starting with you, bitch," she hissed as she put the gun to Kendall's head. Kendall managed to look completely bored, again refusing to give Dixie any satisfaction. "Dixie," Ryan said. "This isn't how we planned it. You can't hurt Kendall, remember?" he said, reaching out to her. "Now let me have the gun." "Shut up, Ryan!" Dixie screamed. "Don't talk to me about what we planned. You're the reason this has all gone to hell. You were supposed to seduce Kendall. How hard can that be, considering all the men who have been successful in the past." "Dixie," Zach warned. "No Zach, I'm sorry," she said to him. "You had your chance to save your precious Kendall. All you had to do was choose me. But you wouldn't do it. Am I really so terrible?" she asked.
Kendall snorted, causing Dixie to tighten her hold. "You just be quiet, little girl. You have no idea how much trouble you're already in." Kendall looked around the roof at her audience. Tad still looked stunned, and a little sick. She knew he wasn't going to be very helpful. Ryan looked angry. He was all sweaty and bug-eyed, but still of no real use to her. He was too emotional. Then she looked at Zach, and suddenly knew everything was going to be okay. She knew he was upset. She could see it in his eyes. But he looked so calm on the outside, which meant he was not going to be ruled by his emotions. He was going to use his head, and she had total faith in him. A look of understanding passed between them. He was silently telling her that everything would be okay. And she was telling him that she trusted him completely.
"You know what? I don't need this anymore. I'm outta here," Ryan said as he headed for the door. "No Ryan!" Dixie shouted. "You think you can just walk away unscathed. ‘Oh well, plan didn't work. Back to things the way they were.’ It doesn't work that way you fool. Now stay back or I'll shoot you," she warned, now pointing the gun at Ryan. "Sure you will," Ryan scoffed. "I mean it, I'm leaving. I don't care what you do. My hands are clean." He was sure she wouldn't shoot him, but he was wrong. When he was only a few feet from her, she pulled the trigger.
Ryan fell to the floor in a heap at her feet, bleeding from a chest wound. Kendall screamed, but Dixie was as cold as ice. She felt nothing. She pulled Kendall away from Ryan and moved them toward the ledge. She suddenly felt too hemmed in and needed some air. Tad rushed forward to see if Ryan was still breathing. He checked for a pulse, put his head on Ryan's bleeding chest, then looked up at Zach and shook his head. Zach turned, his eyes never leaving Kendall. "You've done it now, Dixie. You've killed a man in cold blood," Zach said, shifting his gaze to Dixie. "Now I can't tell you I'll grieve for Ryan Lavery, but I can tell you I won't let you harm Kendall. Look at me, dammit!" he said when she continued to stare icily at Ryan. Dixie looked up to find Zach holding a gun on her. And the look on his face was chilling. He looked cold and lethal.
"What is this, The Sopranos? Does everybody here have a gun?" Dixie said. "It would seem so," Tad said as he pulled a small pistol from underneath Ryan. I'm guessing he doesn't have a permit for this little beauty," he said as he turned it over in his hand. "Leave it to Lavery to carry a woman's gun," Zach said. "Get up, Tad," Dixie yelled. "And leave the gun there." "Now Dixie," Tad said as he stood up and went to stand next to Zach. "That would make me a fool. Surely you of all people know that I'm not a fool. I am the son of Ray Gardner, after all. And that makes me capable of anything."
While the Martins argued, the Slaters were forming a plan. Zach opened the hand fisted at his side and held out three fingers. Kendall did the same, indicating to him that she'd seen it. Then Zach very slightly nodded his head three times. On the third count, Kendall elbowed Dixie in the ribs and then dropped like a stone to the floor. Dixie was so taken off guard, she dropped her hold on Kendall, but not the gun. "You stupid whore," Dixie screeched, pointing the gun at Kendall's head. Three shots rang out, all three hitting their mark. The force of the impact threw Dixie back and over the ledge and sent her careening to the street below. Kendall looked up to see both Tad and Zach pointing guns, but only Zach's was smoking.
Kendall got up and ran to Zach, passing Tad on his way to the edge. She ran into the arms of the husband she loved. Tad looked at the grotesquely distorted, lifeless body of the ex-wife he realized he never knew. He stood there and pondered the last 20 years of his life. Had it all been a lie? Had she been pretending all along, or did nearly losing her life in that car accident really change her that much? It couldn't be as simple as falling in love with Zach Slater. That wasn't love, it was obsession. And how could anyone be that obsessed over him? He turned to look at Zach, and witnessed first-hand another woman's obsession.
"Kendall? Are you all right?" Zach asked as he held her tightly to him. He tried to keep his voice calm, but it was difficult. One of the most difficult things he'd ever done. His throat ached with the need to shout. Not at her. But he had so much pent-up rage. All the emotions that he knew wouldn't help Kendall earlier, now threatened to escape. "Answer me, sweetheart. Please," he pleaded. She pulled back and looked into his eyes. "Yes, Zach. I'm fine. Thanks to you." She leaned up to kiss him and he met her half way. They had never shared a kiss with so much raw emotion. When they heard Tad clear his throat, they were reminded that they weren't alone. But it didn't matter. They continued the kissing and the whispering and the touching. They needed each other right now, and the world would just have to wait.
When Zach's heartbeat slowed to a normal pace, he let go of Kendall and walked over to stand next to Tad. He looked over the edge and saw Dixie, but he felt no remorse. If he felt anything for her, it was anger. Anger because she had forced him into this ridiculous situation. Now he was in another mess, and all because of her. He looked at Tad. "Now what?" he asked. They could all hear the sirens in the distance. "Now we wait for Derek," Tad said. "We tell him exactly what happened. Then we all go home to our warm beds and our loving families." "You think it's really gonna be that simple?" Zach asked. "Considering there are two dead bodies." Tad ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, I do, Zach. It's a messy story, but it's not murder. You were defending Kendall. And that's exactly what I will tell the cops."
Tad suddenly felt older than his years. This was turning out to be one hell of a year for his family. JR in jail. Dixie dead. Kate given away by her own mother to a child molester. God, he needed a drink. "How the hell am I going to explain all of this to JR?" he said. "I'm sorry," Zach said as he put a hand on Tad's shoulder. "Well, I hate to say it," Tad replied, "But it's not your fault, Slater. You didn't have a choice. It was Dixie or Kendall. I would have done the same thing. In fact, I should have. But I just couldn't make myself pull the trigger. I couldn't forget who Dixie used to be." He turned away from Zach and headed for the door. "I'll go downstairs and wait for Derek. Don't touch anything," he said, glancing down at Ryan's lifeless body.
"Martin," Zach called. "This doesn't mean we're best friends now you know. Like I already told Aiden, I'm not in the market for a sidekick." "No problem, Slater. Not a long line of folks lining up to be your best friend," Tad answered with a smirk. "Just me," Kendall said as she wrapped her arms around Zach and held on for dear life.
It was another glorious late summer night and the Slater family was enjoying their time together. Zach and Kendall were sharing a chaise on the patio, with Spike asleep in his bassinet beside them. The sunset had been spectacular, and now the sky was black, filled with a million stars. Zach stroked Kendall's back as he watched her curls being lifted by the gentle breeze. He was content. More than that, he was happy. Happier than he'd ever imagined possible.
It had been almost a month since the deaths of Dixie and Ryan. Kendall took Ryan's death hard for the same reason Tad still mourned Dixie ... the past. They each tried to forget what Ryan and Dixie became, choosing to remember them for the people they once were. True to his word, Tad completely backed up Zach's story. Derek was hesitant to believe it at first. But the evidence corroborated their version. That and the video tape. Unbeknownst to everyone except Kendall, the rooftop was being monitored by hidden cameras. Just part of the extra security measures that Kendall and Simone had implemented after JR's little attempted murder scheme. After viewing the tapes, Derek had no choice but to let the matter drop. Case closed. No charges filed.
"So, my beautiful wife," Zach said in a voice barely above a whisper, "Tell me what you're thinking." She tightened her grip around his waist and stared off into the night. "I was actually thinking about baby names, if you can believe that," she said. "Oh, I can believe it. I find myself thinking about it from time to time," he admitted. "You do?" she said, shocked at his confession. "Why does that surprise you?" he chuckled. "I don't know. I just can't see you browsing through baby books," she answered. "Does this mean you're gonna be a hands-on expectant father?" she asked, tilting her head up so she could see his face. "Mmm hmmm. Definitely hands-on," he growled, pulling her up for a kiss." "You're insatiable," she laughed. "You're a tease," he pouted.
"Okay then, what names are you considering?" Zach asked as he gently pushed her head back down on his chest. "Well," she said, warming to her topic, "I'm only considering girl names, because I'm certain that's what we are having this time. So how about Erica?" she asked. "After my mom." She was glad he couldn't see her face, because it was impossible not to smile. "Oh sure," he replied. "Erica is perfect. Can we call her Granny, since Erica Sr. won't let us?" he asked innocently. She poked him in the chest. "Very funny," Kendall said. "So you didn't buy it. Fine. How about Alexandra?" she asked.
She held her breath, anxiously awaiting his reaction. When he didn't say anything, she lifted her head and looked into his eyes. She couldn't read the look on his face. Was he horrified, or touched? Did he hate the idea, or was he considering it? "Zach?" she said softly. "Are you serious?" he asked. "Yes, I am," she answered. For a long time he said nothing. He just looked at her, his expression blank. "Why?" he said finally. "First of all, it's a beautiful name. And Alexander Cambias is who you are, Zach. We are not hiding from that name, or from your past. In fact, now that Spike is set to be the head of Cambias Industries some day, I think it’s time for us to make peace with the Cambias name."
"I thought we'd make Alexandra her middle name, and Alice her first, in honor of my adoptive mother, but also in honor of you," Kendall continued. "Me? How does it honor me?" Zach asked. "Because you have shown me how much a parent can love a child that has no biological connection. You love Spike like he was your own. Ryan provided the biological material, but you provided the love. You are his father, Zach. In every way that matters," she said. "I spent my whole life struggling to fit into a family where I thought I didn't belong. But I did, Zach. Alice Hart loved me just like you love Spike. I only wish I had realized it then. I never showed her the love she deserved." She paused for a minute, shaking her head in regret. "But you ... you have brought my life full circle. You've given me not only your love, but also Spike's, and the love of the mother who raised me. And I want to honor that gift by giving our daughter the name Alice Alexandra Slater. I think it's perfect. What do you think?" she asked. Her eyes were filled with tears by the time she finished, but that wasn't so unusual. Pregnancy had turned her into a weeping willow. So she was smiling when she looked up at him. But he wasn't smiling.
The look on his face made her feel like her heart would burst. He got it. He understood what she'd been trying to say. God, how much more could she love this man? She rambled incoherently, and he knew just what she meant. "I think you're perfect," he said at last. "And I am humbled by your choice. You never stop surprising me, Kendall." He wiped away the tears that ran down her face, and pulled her roughly up against him. He kissed her passionately, hungrily, desperate to show her how much he loved her. How much he needed her. Now and forever.
"Well, my love," Zach said after a long while. "Tell me, what does Kendall want now? Is Pine Valley finally safe for the Slater family, or do I need to invest in a private island somewhere?" he said as he ran his fingers through her hair. "No, Zach. Kendall has everything she wants right here," she said. She then pulled out of his embrace and stood up, reaching her hand out to him. "Maybe there is one thing Kendall wants right now ... one really big thing!" she said, grinning broadly. He jumped to his feet, picked up Spike and grabbed Kendall by the hand, dragging her into the house and up the stairs. "You know my policy, sweetheart. What Kendall wants, Kendall gets."
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