Chapter 17

AN: Enjoy this extra-long chapter in which Gwen gets to shine! Leave reviews...trouble is coming for the residents of harmony!

I would hold the hold of the ones who would lead me places

I kiss the lips of the one who could sing so sweet

And I would fly on the wings of a bird I knew

Could take me higher breathe in, breathe out

You keep me alive, you are my passion for life

A few days later

Jessica sat nervously in a small diner a few towns away from Harmony. She risen before the sun that morning and quickly snuck out of her childhood home. Her son Sammy was safely tucked away at Kay's and her daughter still rested comfortably in her womb. The time for her to enter the world was coming soon, the brunette could already feel the telltale signs. The expectant mother looked around again for her breakfast companion but saw no one.

After she'd discovered her cousins' number in Paloma's phone, Jessica had repeatedly reached out begging to see her. The brunette had reminded her cousin that they had both lost their mothers and they owed it to them to at least stay in touch with each other. Finally, Charity agreed to meet with her as long as she swore not to say anything to anyone else. The pregnant woman checked her phone for the umpteenth time and sighed with the resignation that her cousin wasn't going to show up. As she made to leave the bell of the diner door rang and in walked Charity Standish.

Though she looked a bit frazzled, Jessica couldn't deny that her blonde cousin was as beautiful as ever. Charity looked the same physically but there was also something different about her. She had a more seasoned, more mature look about her.

I suppose giving up the love of your life will do that to you, Jessica thought.

Charity rushed over to the brunette and gave her a hug.

"Look at you! I'm so sorry I'm late", the blonde gushed. "I-uh had something to take care of".

"No problem I'm just glad you came", Jessica replied. "It's been so long!"

"I know and I'm sorry about that", Charity said as she sat down.

The two women ordered drinks and looked over the menu.

"I'm just going to get a sandwich", the blonde said quietly. "I can't stay long."

"That's okay," Jessica smiled as she reached across the table to grab Charity's hand. "I'm just happy to see you. I was so surprised when I saw your name on Paloma's phone I just knew I had to reach out to you."

"I wasn't sure about us meeting at first", Charity admitted. "but I'm glad you reached out to me. I uh ran into Paloma in Castleton a while ago and we uh just kept in touch. I haven't really let anyone else know because I didn't want to cause problems."

Jessica covered Charity's hands with her own again.

"We can put the past in the past, I mean we are family."

"I'm not so sure- ", Charity interrupted.

"I'm speaking for myself Charity not anyone else", Jessica said. "I forgive you for anything that happened in the past and I'm apologizing for anything I've done to hurt you."

Charity tried to swallow the wave of guilt she felt and gave her cousin a half smile. She really wished they could be close again.

"I'm going to have a relationship with you Charity Standish, so you might as well fall in line!", Jessica demanded.

The blonde laughed as their orders arrived and the two women dug into their breakfast. They caught up on small talk carefully avoiding any mention of Miguel and Kay. Soon hours had passed, and Charity's phone began to ring.

"I'm so sorry", she exclaimed to whoever'd called. "Time got away from me, tell him I love him, and I'll be there soon!"

The blonde hung up and began to gather her things.

"Ohh new boyfriend?" Jessica questioned wriggling her eyebrows suggestively.

"Not exactly", the blonde replied looking away. "This has been really great Jessica, but I've got to go. I'm going to text you later okay there's something I really need to talk to you about"

"Can't you just tell me now?", Jessica rubbed her stomach confused.

"No, I'm sorry I'm really late for something important, Charity said.

She placed money for both their tabs on the table and was out the door before Jessica could say another word.

"Please don't disappear on me again Charity", Jessica whispered softly.

…..

In Castleton

Sheridan Crane was on her usual morning run through Castleton. She smiled happily, thinking of how things had fallen into a routine for her family. Her cheeks glowed as she thought of sharing meals and going on outings with Luis and Marty. On their trip to the coast they'd decided to talk with Marty and see if he was okay with his parents reuniting and them living together a family. The growing teen was thrilled with the idea of his father living with him full time. But he had some questions about Fancy that were difficult for his parents to answer.

Suddenly her cell phone began to ring snapping Sheridan out of her thoughts. It was her best friend Gwen, asking if she could come over and talk later. The blonde quickly agreed, knowing that Jonathan had gone back to Ethan and Theresa. Her blonde friend had informed her that she was meeting with Travis that afternoon and wanted to come by afterward. While Sheridan knew it was still early in their relationship she'd hoped that Travis and Gwen would make things official soon. From what the Crane heiress had seen, Travis adored Gwen and was helping the woman move past her hurt. Something she desperately needed to do. They'd all made mistakes back then, when they were young and fearless, and Sheridan felt that they all deserved another chance to be happy. If she and Theresa could move past their misdeeds why couldn't Gwen?

After the blonde arrived at her two-story home, she showered and grabbed a muffin for a late breakfast. The house was quiet with Luis over in Harmony at the police station and Marty already at the rec center. Before Sheridan could get comfortable, someone began pounding on the door.

"I'm coming!", she said cheerfully moving to open her front door.

However, before she could open it, the door swung quickly almost hitting Sheridan. The heiress' surprise turned into resignation as she recognized an unsmiling Ivy in her doorway.

"I'm sorry Sheridan", she said her voice dripping with false concern. "Are you alright?"

The icy blonde pushed the door closed and looked around Sheridan's house, her nose in the air.

"What are you doing here Ivy?", the blonde demanded. "I wasn't expecting you."

"Oh?", Ivy looked behind her. "Were you expecting my daughters' husband?"

"Get out now!", the heiress ordered brushing past Ivy towards the door.

The icy blonde grabbed her by the arm and forced Sheridan to face her.

"Not until you hear what I have to say."

"I don't give a damn what you have to say", Sheridan snapped snatching her arm away from Ivy. "I know you're here to speak for Fancy. But guess what Ivy she's an adult. What happened between the three of us is between us and I'll talk to Fancy when she's ready".

The Crane heiress grabbed the door knob and opened it, letting her former sister in law the conversation is over.

"My my look at you", Ivy cocked her head to one side. "You've finally stopped playing the damsel and grown a backbone."

The heiress held her head up high, determined not to let Ivy Crane of all people judge her. Ivy stepped up and prepared to leave but stop and leaned closer to the Sheridan, her blues eyes glistening coldly.

"Just remember Sheridan, bones break"

The icy blonde brushed passed her former sister in law and headed out the door. For the rest of the day Sheridan could hear Ivy's icy warning…

"Just remember Sheridan...bones break"

...

That afternoon

Theresa Winthrop put on a bright smile as she headed into her husband office. Something was bothering Ethan, it had been for days, but he couldn't or wouldn't tell her what it was. The brunette however had had enough and decided to try a different tactic. She brought some of her mothers' home cooking in an attempt to break down her husbands' wall. She found him hard at work with papers strewn about.

"Hi, I brought you lunch", Theresa said looking for a place to put.

"Hey beautiful", he gave her a tired smile.

He pointed to his computer desk and advised her to set the food there.

"How'd it go in court earlier this morning?", the brunette asked as she began to rub his shoulders.

"As well as can be expected", Ethan replied. "The Wilson corporation still isn't budging even though they're completely liable. I expect to win if they don't settle."

"Of course, you will, Theresa smiled as she kissed her husbands' cheek.

Ethan sat his pen down and pulled her into his lap.

"We really need to talk", he murmured into her hair.

"I know that's why I came", Theresa replied hugging him close. "I'm worried about you, worried about us."

"Don't", he warned. "You don't ever have to worry about us. Even if everything around us falls apart we'll be fine, we'll be together, and we'll find a way to be happy. I promise."

"I love you", she sniffed holding him tightly.

"I love you too and I'll tell you everything tonight", the lawyer said. "It's not going to be pretty, but we'll get through it okay.

"We'll get through it," Theresa agreed and kissed him again.

"Now Let's eat, I'm hungry."

...

At the Crane Mansion

Whitney, Fox and Julian Crane sat up at the Crane Mansion discussing the upcoming party at the mansion. Eve was, as always, need at the hospital. They were planning to reveal to the citizens of Harmony that Fox Crane was still alive at said party. Whitney and Eve were completely against the plan, but Fox and his father had decided that it was the best course of action.

The Crane men felt that this way everyone would know at one time and Fox would not have to keep repeating the story of his horrific kidnapping. The Crane heir had been seeing Eve along with a psychiatrist since his return, but everyone was tight lipped about his progress. But if he was feeling social enough to have a party, Whitney would support him.

To Whitney, he seemed to be similar to his old self, but he also had flashes of anger that hadn't been there before. He'd met her kids and got along well with them and. There were even times when the tennis coach could see the four of them living happily as a family, but she quickly brought herself back to reality. Technically, Fox was still married to Kay at the time of his presumed death, and Whitney didn't even want to think of the issues that would cause when it came out that Fox was alive. She wasn't sure about her feelings for Fox anyway, she never had been. And what about his feelings for her?

"Whitney what do you think?", Fox called bringing her back to the present.

"I think we should wait on your mother", she called cheerfully.

"Why can't she find out at the party like everyone else?", Fox grumbled looking through the magazines.

"Because she's your mother", Julian said looking up from his desk. "And I will not be held responsible for keeping you from her."

"You been divorced for years and you're still afraid of her huh", Fox scoffed.

"Never afraid son", the Crane patriarch replied. "But always aware."

Whitney smiled and checked her watch.

Where was Ivy?

….

Castleton Park

Gwen Hotchkiss sat nervously on the park bench where she'd met Travis all those months ago. She'd taken a chance on him and maybe on herself and it'd been the best decision Gwen had ever made. He was unreal, like something out of a fairytale with his deep green eyes and a smile that made her heart jump. It had taken the blonde months to let the wall around her heart come down enough to trust him.

Finally, she had, and he'd turned out to be everything a girl could dream of, everything she'd dreamt Ethan would be. But this man was honest, this man was trustworthy and this man, this man loved only her. Or so she'd thought.

Gwen enjoyed her relationship with Travis because he respected her boundaries. He knew the living hell she'd been through with Ethan and Theresa and he understood that when she had her time with Jonathan she was devoted only to him. They'd been on numerous dates and out of town trips when she didn't have Jonathan. But when Travis called earlier and told her he wanted to meet and discuss something very important, Gwen was sure their relationship was ending.

Maybe she'd put too much on the man, he was busy running his software company and maybe he didn't understand. So what if he was breaking up with her? She still had her son and Sheridan and her mother and this awful ache in her chest! The blonde sighed heavily and ran her hands through her hair. Where was he?

About 20 minutes later her boyfriend came walking up to the bench, his arms full and sat down. As she turned to face him Gwen was instantly ill. So, this was what he wanted to talk to her about?

"Listen", the handsome man began recognizing the shock on her face. "I don't know what you're thinking but I do want a chance to explain. I wasn't truthfully with you but-"

The blonde tried to focus on what Travis was saying but all she could see was the pink bundle in his arms. The man she was falling for was holding a sleeping baby girl no more than a year old or two.

"She's mine", Travis said growing worried by Gwen, who seemed to be hyperventilating. "I know I told you I didn't have kids. I'm sorry but I wanted to be sure about us before I introduced you. Gwen? Please say something."

The sandy blonde lowered his head and whispered.

"Please... I don't want to lose you."

Gwen sat silently with tears rolling down her cheeks. As she watched the sleeping girl, her chest rising and falling, Gwen knew she could love her. She could love her and care for her like she was her very own. Gwen also knew that after all she'd lost, she couldn't bear to love another child and lose her. The heartbroken blonde leaned forward and kissed the man she was falling in love, she grabbed her purse. And then, Gwen ran.

…..

Several hours later, Gwen Hotchkiss was still pacing the floor of her Castleton home. She'd returned from Sheridan's house a few hours prior, and after pouring her heart out to her best friend Gwen was still in shock.

How could he?

How could he drop that kind of bomb on her and expect everything to be okay?

He knew the hell she'd been through, the children she'd lost! Gwen couldn't allow herself to get close to that beautiful little girl because when things eventually fell apart, she knew she couldn't bear to lose her. The blonde knew she needed to focus on the custody suit, she would just have to end things with Travis.

Yes, she'd-

A knocking at the door interrupted her thoughts. It couldn't be-

"Gwen open the door", Travis called out. "I know you're in there!"

The blonde's head jerked towards the door in surprise.

What was he doing here?

Gwen rushed to the door and opened it, apprehensively looking for the pink bundle he'd carried early.

"She's with the sitter, can I come in?"

The blonde opened the door to let him but didn't say anything. The two tried to get comfortable on the couch but an awkwardness remained.

"Her name is Madison, Madison Amanda Moore.", Travis said softly. "She's almost 18 months old now. A year and ago she came into my life. I didn't even know she existed until I got a call from social services. I was a wild guy back then, and I barely remembered who her mother was."

"Was?", Gwen asked softly, finally looking at him.

"Was.", the sandy blonde said solemnly. "Brittany was just as wild as I was, we hooked up a few times when I was living down in Florida and I never saw her again. They said she got into drugs pretty badly after she had Madison."

"Brittany overdosed for the last time when Madison was about six months old. Apparently, she'd listed me as the father, and social services found me and asked if I could take custody."

"Wow I'm so sorry", the Gwen said softly reaching out to grab his hands.

"Me to", Travis replied. "I'm sorry that I lied to you. I'm sorry that Madison won't ever know her biological mother. But the entire fiasco calmed me down. I had to grow up, focus on my business and learned how to be a father. And then I met you".

Blue eyes met green and they couldn't help but smile at each other.

"You changed my life you know", Gwen smiled looking down at their still joined hands. "I was so sure I'd never be happy again, that I couldn't have it all. I'm still not sure I can"

"You can, we can.", Travis said taking Gwen into his arms. "I'm glad you took a chance on us and I'm asking you to take another chance and be a part of my daughters' life".

The blonde gently pulled away from the embrace.

"I see how devoted you are to Jonathan and I know Madison would benefit from having a strong mother figure in her life."

"Travis", Gwen interrupted getting up from the couch. "You know how much I care about you and how much I know I would care for Madison, but you know my past. I just don't think I could stand to love and to lose another child."

"Gwen", He said firmly walking up to her. "Gwen look at me. I'm not him, I'm not Ethan. I'm not going to take Madison and run off with another woman. My daughter is everything to me, just like Jonathan is everything to you. I know what I want for her and for me. I want stability, I want love and I-I want you."

A sob escaped Gwen's throat and threw herself into Travis' arms.

"I want to believe you, so badly", she cried. "but it's everything I've ever dreamed of and I learned a long time ago that that my dreams don't come true."

Travis kissed her forehead and did his best to hide his burning anger at the people who had hurt this woman so badly.

"We'll see what we can do about that", he said kissing her again. "Does this mean we're taking a chance?"

Gwen stared into his deep green eyes, her heart full of apprehension. She reflected on her early conversation with Sheridan, where her best friend had begged her to choose herself and her happiness for once. The blonde knew she had two choices. She could keep living her life in fear and pain trapped in her past or she could give herself a second chance and finally reach for life she knew she still deserved.

"Gwen?", Travis called pulling the blonde out of her deep thinking.

"We're taking a chance", she said tears glistening in her eyes as she pulled him into a passionate kiss.

...

Next On Passions: Ivy's thrilled to regain a piece of her heart but the storm she's set in motion ends in tragedy for Kay/Miguel/Charity. Fancy leaves town but not before facing off with the people who hurt her.