Author's Note: Hey everybody. I'm sorry for all the delays. I feel like I'm having to say "I'm sorry" a lot. lol. But there have been a couple of changes in my life. I just got a new job with a crazy schedule that changes every week. So, I hope everyone can be patient with me while I do my best to upload new chapters ASAP. I just wanted to thank all my loyal readers, especially brankel1, golfnjen83, and Dee80. I think you three have given me feedback on practically every single chapter. I really appreciated it.

A lot of changes are going to happen to Brandon and Kelly in the story. So, read on! Thanks!

Chapter 24 - Looks Can Be Deceiving - Part 2

Brandon is in the hallway outside his hotel room. He is talking to Kelly on his cell phone.

"So how was your day?" asked Brandon.

"It was good. I played with Sammy all afternoon," replied Kelly.

"That's good. Is he still up? I wanna say good night to him," asked Brandon.

"No, but I can wake him up for you," replied Kelly.

"No, it's fine. I'll call again tomorrow," said Brandon.

"Ok. How was the party?" asked Kelly.

"It's fine. I saw my old boss and some of my old co-workers again," replied Brandon.

"And Lauren?" asked Kelly.

"She's fine. She introduced me to her new boyfriend," replied Brandon.

"Really? What's he like?" asked Kelly.

"He's fine. Although Dylan thinks differently," replied Brandon.

"Why, what does Dylan think of him?" asked Kelly.

"Dylan's convinced that he saw him on the news or something," replied Brandon.

"So he's a criminal?" asked Kelly.

"Dylan sure thinks so," replied Brandon.

"Well, Dylan does have an eye for criminals," said Kelly.

"That's what he said," said Brandon.

"Brandon, be careful," said Kelly.

"Thanks, I will," said Brandon.

"Tell Dylan, I said hello," said Kelly.

"I will," said Brandon.

"I love you," said Kelly.

"I love you too...good night," said Brandon.

"Good night," said Kelly.

They hang up the phone.

Brandon walks back into the hotel room and sees Dylan on Brandon's computer.

"Any luck?" asked Brandon.

"Not yet," replied Dylan.

"So is it possible you're wrong about him?" asked Brandon.

"It's possible but I'm just making sure," replied Dylan.

"Kelly says Hello, by the way," said Brandon.

"That's nice," said Dylan.

"You still mad at her?" asked Brandon.

"Only if you keep reminding me about her," replied Dylan.

"So, doing research on criminals a way to stop thinking about Kelly?" asked Brandon.

"It was working until you mentioned her," replied Dylan.

"Ok...sorry I said anything," said Brandon who sensed that Dylan is in a grumpy mood.

Dylan's eyes suddenly bulged out.

"Hey Bran, check this out," said Dylan.

"What is it?" asked Brandon coming to Dylan.

"Isn't this our boy?" asked Dylan pointing to the picture on the screen.

"It does look like him but the name says Michael Garcia," replied Brandon.

"Looks like he changed it to cover his tracks," said Dylan.

Brandon and Dylan continue to read about Michael on the screen.

"I knew this guy was something else. Look at this...money laundering, drugs, guns," said Dylan who continues reading.

"He did tell me that he was an importer/exporter," said Brandon.

"Looks like he's much more than that; let's stay away from him," said Dylan.

"OK D but this says that he served two years in prison and was released two years ago," said Brandon.

"D, look at the date...this was over a year ago," added Brandon.

"So what?" asked Dylan.

"So, if he would've done something, he would've done it already. Maybe he's changed," replied Brandon.

"Don't be so naive, Brandon. Once a criminal, always a criminal," said Dylan.

"If your dad could change, so can him," said Brandon.

"Don't bring my father into this, Brandon. And why are you defending this guy anyway?" asked Dylan.

"I'm not. I'm just saying that we shouldn't jump to conclusions," replied Brandon.

"Look, you can think whatever you want, Brandon. But I don't want anything to do with this guy," said Dylan.

"Fine. Good night," said Brandon.

"Good night, Brandon," said Dylan sarcastically.

The following day, we see Brandon sitting in one of the conference rooms of the hotel. While he should be paying more attention to the speaker, he was more worried about what Dylan said about Michael. Brandon found himself asking why should be bother in someone else's love life. After all, he doesn't even know Michael. Maybe it was because Brandon considered Lauren to be a close friend. Maybe he felt like he should help her out, just the same way she helped him out when he was having problems with Kelly.

Brandon caught up to Lauren after the conference.

"Lauren," said Brandon.

"Hey Brandon. Did you have a good night sleep?" asked Lauren.

"Yeah, it was good. Do you have to be somewhere at the moment?" asked Brandon.

"No, I was just gonna go back up to my room, why?" asked Lauren.

"Nothing, I was just wondering if we can talk in private for a moment," replied Brandon.

"Sure," said Lauren.

They walk to a quiet nearby hallway.

"What is it, Brandon?" asked Lauren.

"It's about Michael," replied Brandon.

"What about him?" asked Lauren.

"I don't know how exactly to tell you this but his real name isn't Michael Larson. It's Michael Garcia," replied Brandon.

"What?" asked Lauren who looks confused.

"Dylan found some information on him showing that he might be a criminal," replied Brandon.

"No, I'm sorry but your friend must be mistaken," said Lauren.

"Lauren, his description fits what he told me. Both guys are from Mexico. This guy got arrested for smuggling illegal weapons and drugs in and out of Mexico," said Brandon.

Lauren looks down but doesn't reply to Brandon.

"Lauren, I know this is probably not something you want to hear but I just felt like you should know," said Brandon.

"I don't believe this," said Lauren.

"Neither did I but now I'm pretty sure it's him," said Brandon.

Lauren looks at Brandon.

"Pretty sure? Am I supposed to dump this guy because you're pretty sure?" asked Lauren angrily.

"Lauren, I'm just trying to help," replied Brandon trying to calm Lauren down.

"Well, then don't, ok? I know Michael. He's not like that at all. So don't make false accusations about my boyfriend that you can't back up," said Lauren.

Brandon watches Lauren as she walks away angrily.

Brandon slowly walks back to his hotel room. He enters to see Dylan still asleep. He grabs a chair and pulls it close to Dylan's bedside and sits on it.

Dylan begins to stir, wakes up, and sees Brandon.

"Hey," said Dylan.

"Hey," said Brandon.

"How was the conference?" asked Dylan.

"Ok," replied Brandon.

"What happened?" asked Dylan.

"I told Lauren about Michael," replied Brandon.

"You did what? Why did you go and do that for?" asked Dylan loudly who is awakened by Brandon's news.

"She has the right to know," replied Brandon.

"You know what you just did, right?" asked Dylan.

"What?" asked Brandon.

"You just got us in the middle of this. Did you mention me to her?" asked Dylan.

"Kinda," replied Brandon.

"Ah, you idiot!" said Dylan.

"Sorry man," said Brandon.

"I'm sorry too. I'm sorry I ever came on this stupid trip with you," said Dylan.

"Why did you?" asked Brandon.

"Cuz, I had nowhere else to go, man," replied Dylan.

"You could've just stayed at my place," said Brandon.

"I didn't mean it like that, Brandon...I just didn't wanna stay in L.A.," said Dylan.

Brandon looked at Dylan and suddenly knew what he meant.

"You guys are still friends," said Brandon.

"I don't know if I can ever be friends with her again," said Dylan.

"I'm sorry it had to happen this way," said Brandon.

"Yeah, well...thanks to you, we've got bigger problems to deal with now, Brandon," said Dylan.

"Look, we're outta here tomorrow morning. I'm sure we'll be ok until then," said Brandon.

Brandon and Dylan looked at each other.

That night after dinner, we see Brandon walking up the stairs to the floor of his hotel room. He walks by the hallway balcony and sees Lauren alone staring at the faraway ocean. Lauren notices Brandon.

"Brandon," said Lauren.

"Hey Lauren," said Brandon who is confused of why Lauren is talking to him.

"Just got back from dinner?" asked Lauren.

"Yeah. I was just going back to my room," replied Brandon.

"Listen, Lauren. I'm sorry about before. I should've just minded my own business," added Brandon as he walked to Lauren.

"No, I'm glad you told me. I shouldn't have yelled at you for that," said Lauren.

"You always been a good friend to me," added Lauren.

"So I assumed you talked to him," said Brandon.

"No," said Lauren.

"Are you gonna stay with him?" asked Brandon.

"Brandon, I knew about Michael," replied Lauren.

"What? How?" asked Brandon.

"Michael is not a guy I just met. He's actually my ex-husband," replied Lauren.

"What? The same ex-husband that left you and your kids?" asked Brandon who is now completely shocked.

"Yeah," replied Lauren.

"Well, are you ok? Do we need to contact the proper authorities or the police?" asked Brandon.

"No. It's ok. There's a lot about his past that was greatly hyped and false," replied Lauren.

"Why didn't you tell me?" asked Brandon.

"I didn't you to judge him...or myself," replied Lauren.

"So who is he?" asked Brandon.

"You promise you won't do a story on this?" asked Lauren.

"I promise," replied Brandon.

"His name was Michael Garcia. He changed it to Larson a year ago to get away from his past and start over. When he was working in a warehouse in Mexico, he was setup by his boss and his co-workers who were transferring weapons and drugs to other countries," said Lauren.

"Did he fight the accusations?" asked Brandon.

"He tried. He even worked with the Mexican police to find the guys who set him up but they were already gone. He ended up serving a two year sentence for doing nothing wrong," replied Lauren.

"That's terrible. Did he just get out?" asked Brandon.

"Yeah, about two years ago. He's really a good guy once you get to know him. He thought a lot about his life during his sentence. And then when he saw my column, he got in contact with me. He wanted another chance to be a part of my life and my kids' lives," replied Lauren.

"I'm sorry I lied about him when you interviewed me. I was afraid that you wouldn't hire me if you knew about Michael," said Lauren.

"It's ok. I would've hired you anyway," smiled Brandon.

"So what are you guys going to do now?" asked Brandon.

"I don't know. Take it slowly, I guess," replied Lauren.

"That's what I would do," said Brandon.

"I mean, I see the relationship you have with Kelly. I want that. I think Michael deserves another chance," smiled Lauren.

"I think so too. And I'm happy for you," said Brandon.

"Thanks, Brandon. Thanks for everything," said Lauren.

"I didn't do anything," said Brandon.

"If it wasn't for you, he wouldn't have found me and I probably wouldn't have seen him again. And I knew in my heart, I wanted to see him again," said Lauren.

"Glad to help," said Brandon.

"You're a good guy, Brandon. I wonder what would happen between us if Kelly wasn't in the picture," smiled Lauren.

"Well, I'm glad she's in the picture," smiled Brandon.

"It's good that we're still friends," said Lauren.

"Good friends," smiled Brandon.

Brandon leans in and gives Lauren a hug. A few moments later, they break the hug but still looking at each other. Lauren leans in and gives Brandon a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Good night, Brandon," said Lauren as she leaves for her room.

"Good night, Lauren," said Brandon.

Panning behind them, we see Dylan looking at Brandon, who had saw the entire conversation between Brandon and Lauren.

Brandon sees Dylan.

"Hey D," said Brandon who looks nervous.

Dylan doesn't answer. Instead he goes back to the room. Brandon walks up, opens the door, and enters the room.

"Sorry man, I didn't see you there," said Brandon.

"It's ok. I just went out for some fresh air," said Dylan.

"So, I talked to Lauren. It looks like this was all just a misunderstanding," said Brandon.

Dylan turns and gives Brandon an odd look.

"Boy, I'd never figure you for a sucker but you sure are one," said Dylan.

"What's that suppose to mean?" asked Brandon who is getting angry.

"I heard everything you guys were talking about," replied Dylan.

"So, what's the problem? He's innocent. And he won't be coming after us. Problem solved" asked Brandon.

"Did you ever think that she may be a part of this from the beginning?" asked Dylan.

"Whoa D. C'mon. It's one thing to accuse Michael...but I know Lauren. She wouldn't be a part of something like this," replied Brandon.

"And what makes you so sure? Was it the special moment you two shared? Or was it the good night kiss that she gave you?" asked Dylan.

"It wasn't like that. It was just a small kiss on the cheek. Nothing more than that," replied Brandon.

"Is that what you're gonna tell Kelly? Or are you even gonna tell her at all?" asked Dylan.

"What is this? Are you blackmailing me?" asked Brandon.

"No, I just wanted to make sure you're worth it for Kelly's sake," replied Dylan.

"You know, D, sometimes I seriously can't figure you out. One minute you're mad at her. The next you're protecting her. What's next? You're gonna tell me you're still in love with her?" asked Brandon.

"You said it, not me," replied Dylan.

"Why are you trying to ruin what I have with Kelly?" asked Brandon.

"Look man, I'm not. I'm sorry if it sounds that way," replied Dylan.

"Look man, I cheated on Kelly once in the past and I still couldn't figure out why I did it. All I know is that I lost her. The hurt on her face showed me how much of a jerk I was. I never want to be that person again. I love her too much to go back," said Brandon.

Dylan doesn't reply to Brandon. Instead he gets into his bed and goes to sleep.

"Good night," said Dylan.

"Good night," said Brandon as he lets out a sigh.

The next day, we see Brandon and Dylan's plane arriving at LAX.

Kelly is waiting for them at the gate.

"Hey," smiled Kelly as she sees Brandon and Dylan walking towards her.

Brandon and Kelly walk towards each other and kiss.

"I miss you," smiled Kelly.

"I missed you too," smiled Brandon.

"Hey Dylan," said Kelly as she approaches Dylan.

"Hey Kel," said Dylan.

"So did you two have a good time?" asked Kelly.

"Yeah, we did," replied Brandon.

"So did anything exciting happen?" asked Kelly.

"Nothing special. Just the dinner and the conference. Ain't that right, D?" asked Brandon.

Brandon looks at Dylan as he is afraid of what Dylan is going to say to Kelly.

"That's right. It was pretty boring," replied Dylan.

"That's why I'm so glad to be home," said Brandon.

"Me too," said Kelly.

"Silver and Sammy are preparing dinner. And I would very much like it if you could join us, Dylan," said Kelly.

Dylan looks at Kelly, then Brandon.

"Sure, I'd love a home-cooked meal," said Dylan.

"Alright, let's go," said Brandon.

The three leave the airport.

Coming Next – Lauren and Michael invites Brandon and Kelly over for dinner.