Series 13: Ties that Bind

Episode 1: Something Old

As he turned his car down the long winding drive Blake Carrington couldn't help but admire the changes in the scenery. Autumn was most definitely here, there was a certain bite to the air this morning and the remaining leaves were dusky shades of red, orange and brown.

It was the sort of morning that made you feel glad to be alive, and after his recent scare at Amanda's funeral, and the resulting consequences…most importantly his tentative new understanding with Alexis, Blake couldn't help but feel enthused and full of vigour. Of course that might have be more to do with his current destination than the crisp fresh air.

Parking in front of the large single story ranch house Blake glanced at his watch. He was early. Quite a bit early in fact but when he had woken up Blake hadn't been able stay away any longer. The urge to see Alexis, to reassure himself that he hadn't just imagined their conversation the night before. That Alexis really did return his feelings, and it wasn't just wishful thinking on his part...Besides Alexis had invited him to breakfast, and it wasn't like she had set a time.

Still seven thirty was perhaps a little early…

Reaching the front door Blake rapped sharply, only momentarily wondering if anyone would be up yet, before the door opened and a serene Mr Lin appeared. If he was surprised by Blake's early arrival Alexis's houseman was the picture of eastern calm and professionalism and it didn't show on his face.

"Ah Mr Carrington Mrs Colby did say to expect you this morning…She hasn't appeared as yet this morning but if you would care to follow me to the living room I will tell her you are here."

Thanking Lin Blake followed him into the house tugging nervously at his cuffs as he was left alone to wait, perching awkwardly on the edge of the sofa.

"Grandpa!" Startled Blake whirled around, backing up as first a pyjama clad LB barrelled over to him with Lauren hot on his heels. "Did you come to take me to school?"

"No I…"

"LB let Grandpa breathe." Fallon strode in, a smile playing about her lips as she watched her son clamber all over Blake completely oblivious to his grandfather's protest.

"No LB but I am joining you for breakfast." Blake replied when his grandson's face fell.

"Great you can sit next to me Grandpa!" LB exclaimed grabbing Blake's hand and half dragging him towards the dining room.

"Actually LB I think you will find Grandpa and I have other plans for breakfast."

Turning around Blake couldn't contain his smile nor his gasp of surprise, there stood in the doorway dressed in fitted jeans and riding boots and with a patented teasing smirk playing about her lips was Alexis.

"So when did that happen?"

Startled by the sudden question Fallon Carrington Colby almost spilt the coffee she was pouring all over the tablecloth. "Good Morning to you too Jackson." She quipped with a smile as the handsome stud manager rolled his eyes before moving to take the seat opposite. At least he was a welcome distraction from LB and his sulking.

"Good Morning Fallon…now how about answering my question…Alexis and Blake…they looked…" Jackson broke off his blue eyes narrowing as he struggled to find the right word, in the end settling for the best he could manage. "I don't know…different…more friendlier…"

"Friendlier, is that even a word?" Fallon questioned a smirk playing about her lips as Jackson's scowl deepened at her teasing. "Just what exactly are you trying to imply Jackson?"

"I'm not implying anything Fallon." Jackson huffed. "But I have eyes and something was different there…they looked at each other more and Carrington insisted on helping Alexis mount up even though to my knowledge the lady has never needed any help in that department."

"Perhaps Daddy was just being a gentleman?" Fallon countered, her attention distracted by LB who pushed his half eaten bowel of cereal away and began to rock on his chair. "You know you might try it occasionally….LB would you stop that…"

"Funny lady, now spill what's happened?"

"What makes you think I know anything?" Fallon countered whilst glaring at LB who was ignoring her warning and continued to rock on his chair, scowling up his mother from beneath his eyebrows.

"They are your parents!"

"Which doesn't mean they inform me about every little detail." Fallon retorted reaching out to help Lauren peel her fruit before thawing slightly at the pleading expression on Jackson's face.

"Look I honestly don't know anything…well other than Daddy was invited to breakfast after Mother stayed on at the hospital last night after the rest of us left. I do know she gave him a lift home and I am guessing, just guessing mind, from something Mother muttered that her and Dex are over for good…but exactly what that means for Mummy and Daddy…Your guess is as good as mine."

"But if you had to guess?" Jackson pushed, his handsome face unusually serious. "Would you say they are back together?"

Shrugging her shoulders Fallon paused before answering. "Something has changed. I guess when they are ready they will tell people but until they do I for one won't make anything more difficult for them by speculating. If they are getting back together then it won't be easy and I imagine they probably would prefer it if certain people didn't find out too soon."

"You mean Dexter?"

"And Krystle." Fallon added. "Even though she isn't in a relationship with Daddy anymore I doubt she would want him to reconcile with Mummy…"

"That's because she still loves him." Jackson muttered shaking his head in annoyance. "He treated her like a fool and still she would take him back."

"You sound jealous…" Fallon remarked pointedly a flash of jealousy souring her face.

"Not jealous, concerned for a friend!" Jackson retorted yet Fallon remained less than convinced. "Krystle deserves to know the truth…she shouldn't find out by accident."

"Oh and I suppose you're just the man to tell her?"

Sighing Jackson leant back in his chair staring down Fallon's glare with a composed look of his own. His hand reaching out and grabbing the back of LB's chair bringing the chair back onto all four feet with a sound bang.

"Hey get off!" LB all but screeched glaring up at Jackson's composed face.

"Your mother told you to stop and it was annoying!"

Pouting LB returned Jackson's gaze. "I don't have to listen to you…you're not my father…you are just staff!" He added pompously, shrinking back in his chair when Jackson leant down and eyeballed him and his Mother exclaimed in horror at his cheek.

"I may work with your grandmother Blake but I am still a guest in this house and a grown up and as such you will treat me with respect…perhaps if your father was doing his job then you wouldn't be such a rude spoilt little boy?"

"Jackson!"

"I say it like I see it." Jackson retorted to Fallon's protest. "Now if you will excuse me…"

"Off to sooth poor Krystle?" Fallon added pettily. "You really can't resist playing the hero can you Jackson?"

Shaking his head Jackson paused long enough to pick up a square of toast from Fallon's abandoned plate, before leaning down and pressing a kiss to her forehead. "Funny Fallon I don't recall you complaining when you were my damsel in distress?"

"So what do you think?"

Pausing Blake considered his next words carefully. For the last hour Blake had followed faithfully on Alexis's heels as she led him from one room into another. He been treated to a whistle stop tour of bare plastered rooms, some still with wiring poking out in random places. All the while Alexis had been a whirling dervish of excited chatter as she gushed about the marble she was having fitted here or the floor tiling that was being laid there.

It had certainly not been what Blake had been expecting when Alexis had first dragged him out of the ranch earlier that morning. The jeans and riding boots had given him a clue, one that had been bang on the money when Alexis had led him out to her stables and two waiting horses. Although to be honest Blake would have been happy enough just to watch her walk in front of him in those jeans all morning.

Their ride in the early morning air with the beautiful countryside of Colby Acres laid out around them had been wonderful. Just spending time alone with Alexis without this dreadful sense of regret weighing him down had been magical. They had talked about everything and nothing, the children, the weather, Alexis had even regaled him with the amusing exploits of her current secretary who it seems had got himself into some hot water over an illicit affair with a Russian ballet dancer.

So when Alexis had told him she had something very special to show him the last thing Blake had been expecting was this…

Clearing his throat Blake took one look at the rapidly fading look of patience on Alexis's face, realising he had to say something before that patience finally ran out. "It's a beautiful house…"

"But?" Alexis's voice was noticeably cool and clipped her eyes narrowing as Blake squirmed under her gaze.

She had been so excited to show Blake her pet project. Alexis had poured so much of her creative energies into the new house. Dex hadn't been particularly interested, one house was as good as another, and considering the roof didn't even leak Dex hadn't seen the point in building a new one….

Certainly not for the amount of money this one was costing her.

Yet Alexis had thought Blake would be different. He had taken a keen interest in the renovation of the mansion back in the day. As a young couple they had whiled away many an evening discussing the smallest changes to their home…it had been something special between them…perhaps she had been foolish to try and recapture that…yet Blake's cool reaction to something that she had poured so much of herself into hurt.

"No I mean it." Blake insisted swallowing nervously. "It's a beautiful unique house and you have done a remarkable job…I can see your taste and style everywhere and I imagine you will more than double your return…perhaps you should go into construction and renovation professionally?"

"…Double my return?…" Alexis frown only increased. "I don't think you understand Blake I built this house for myself and for Fallon and the children…This is a home, my home, not an investment."

"But…"

"But what?" Alexis demanded.

"I thought…" Blake began his nerves only increasing as Alexis's glare intensified. "Well you said you love me and I love you and I thought…I mean I know we haven't really talked about it but we both want to be together, don't we?

"Yes of course."

"So…"

"So what?" Alexis snapped her patience for Blake's prevaricating coming quickly to the end.

Sighing Blake reached for her hand, relieved when despite her coolness Alexis allowed him to take it. "Alexis you know I can't imagine my future without you in it!"

Softening slightly Alexis rubbed her thumb across the back of Blake's fingers. "I'm glad to hear it. Now stop stalling and start talking…"

"Well I just thought that someday when we are ready we might formalise that…once upon a time we were planning on remarrying."

"That was a before…it was a different world back then…and may I remind you Blake you were the one who broke our engagement." Alexis muttered unable to keep a hint of bitterness from her voice as she avoided Blake's pleading gaze.

"I know." Blake answered softly squeezing her hand as he willed Alexis to raise her eyes to meet his gaze. "I made a terrible mistake. I hurt you and I know it will take a long time before we are ready to consider…but I believe…I need to believe that one day when I ask you again then you'll trust me enough to say yes."

"Blake it is still far too soon to be thinking about, let alone talking about marriage. We have a lot of trust to rebuild and besides I don't know if I am cut out for marriage. It's only ever been a disappointment and ended in heartache. Besides would it really be so terrible if we didn't get married at all?"

"But…but surely at some point you will want to come home?"

Freezing at Blake's question Alexis pulled her hand free from his grasp, hugging her arms around herself.

"Alexis?"

"No."

Frowning at the quiet certainty in Alexis's voice Blake did a double take. "What?"

Sighing Alexis lifted her gaze, her voice wavered slightly but her conviction was set as was her determination. "No Blake I can promise you that I will never move back into the mansion. All it has ever held is bad luck for me. On three occasions I was thrown out of that house and I am not going to open myself up to be hurt like that again."

"Alexis I wouldn't…"

"That's what you said last time." Alexis cut in her eyes locking on to Blake who squirmed uncomfortably under her unflinching gaze. "No if you really want a future with me then this time Blake you are going to have to be the one making the compromises. If you really do love me like you say you do then you'll be prepared to make them and if you don't…"

For a moment there was a terribly tense silence as Blake felt his heart drop like a stone to the bottom of his stomach. Surely she couldn't be serious. That Alexis might never want to marry him or even live with him again had never even occurred to Blake and he could only cling to the hope that it was fear and still her lingering uncertainty about the depth of his feelings that was the reason for her decision.

"You're angry with me aren't you?" Alexis asked hesitantly her emerald eyes raking Blake's face, which had gone almost grey.

"No." Blake answered softly shaking his head. "Only angry with myself…This is all my fault…"

"Oh Blake no…Look can't we just take this one day at a time. I was having such a wonderful morning with you before we started to worry about the future. Can't we just slow down? Not worry about where we are heading and assigning blame and just enjoy being together again?"

Forcing a smile Blake pushed down his disappointment accepting the hand and the chance Alexis offered him. "How could I possibly refuse an offer like that?"

"Good. Now let me show you the upstairs…and if you promise to behave I'll even give you a personal guided tour around my new bedroom."

"Throw the ball back Danny…"

Wrapping his arms more tightly around himself Danny shuffled back against the playground wall, pulling his chin down into his coat he did his best to ignore his cousin LB who as usual was holding court with his new friends. The older boys had taken LB into their little club a few weeks before and ever since LB hadn't wanted to play with him anymore.

"Come on Danny…"

"Perhaps he can't throw it back…maybe he's a silly baby and is scared of the nasty ball?"

"Ahhh is the little baby going to cry?"

Gritting his teeth Danny did his best to ignore the older boys taunt, but it hurt when LB laughed along with the others. Ever since they had been little they had grown up more like brothers than cousins. They had always been the others best friend and hadn't needed anyone else. It had always been the two of them against the world…but since Uncle Jeff had returned from Australia and the dinner where Danny had pushed LB off of his chair, LB hadn't wanted to be his friend anymore.

"Didn't your daddy teach you how to play ball little baby?" One of the older boys taunted as the group closed in on Danny.

"Oh his daddy never wants to spend time with him." LB chipped in smugly earning him a betrayed look from Danny and a round of laughter from his new friends

"Shut up!"

"Oh the baby can speak. Going to cry for Mummy silly baby?"

"His Mummy doesn't want him either she left him behind!"

"Shut up LB!" Danny yelled facing off against his cousin whose confident smile slipped slightly.

"Why should I? It's the truth." LB insisted. "Everyone knows your Mother is a tramp, that's what Grandma says anyway, she left you because she didn't want you and she doesn't love you and even Uncle Steven doesn't like you. He never wants to spend any time with you, why else does he always leave you behind. He's only taking you fishing this weekend because it's his turn to look after you. No one really wants you Danny…especially not me!"

Danny didn't know how it happened…one moment he was so angry he felt like he was about to explode and the next he was leaping on LB, his hands closed into fists pounding into his smug cousin who had everything that Danny didn't. Even if Uncle Jeff and Aunt Fallon didn't live together anymore, they both spent time with LB, in fact they both spoilt him with time, gifts and affection.

He didn't even realise he was screaming and crying until he was dragged off of LB. Fighting against the strong adult arms that held him back Danny could only watch as once more everyone else rushed to help LB. Still his cousin's bloody nose and frightened expression was more than enough compensation. As LB stared at him in shock and fear Danny felt a rush of some new feeling…it felt strange and powerful…it felt good!

"You know this would be a hell of a lot more comfortable if there actually was a bed in here!"

Smiling into Blake's shoulder Alexis stifled her laughter in the soft fabric of his shirt as she rubbed her hand across his chest. "I do recall this being your idea Mr Carrington."

"You agreed to it."

"Well laying on the floor to decide where to place the bed sounded more sensible in theory. Of course it could just have been a clever excuse to get me to lie down with you!" Alexis retorted pointedly, yet her broad smile belied the pique in her tone. "We really are getting too old for this Blake."

"You old?" Blake chuckled shaking his head. "No you're a mere wisp of a girl, I'm the one who's old!"

Smiling at the resignation and self-pity in Blake's voice Alexis couldn't help but stir things further. "Well that's true and you will be officially old soon enough….66 years old…you should have retired already…perhaps the children could get you a pipe and some new slippers?"

Blake tutted, a scowl warping his handsome features as his thoughts lingered on his upcoming birthday and yawning twelve-year age gap between the two of them that once again rearing its head. He really was starting to feel his age whereas Alexis still looked at least ten years younger than she really was. Blake couldn't help but wonder what people must have thought or said behind his back when he had first married Krystle? A woman twenty years his junior.

"How very kind of you for reminding me…Don't try and make me feel better about it."

"I was agreeing with you…." Alexis replied feigning innocence, yet there was no containing the smirk that grew from the corner of her mouth as she prodded Blake's chest playfully and he harrumphed. "Besides speaking of your birthday…"

"No!"

"No?" Alexis queried raising her head from her comfortable human pillow to stare down at Blake. "I haven't even said anything yet!"

"Well there is no need." Blake cut in, his dark eyes locked on Alexis's teasing expression, his hand lifting of its own volition to brush the loose mussed hair back from her face. "I already know what you are going to suggest and the answer is no!"

"I wasn't going to suggest a party. I wasn't even thinking it." Alexis protested her innocence, leaning into Blake's touch as his fingers stroked her cheek. "I know how much you would hate that…I learnt that lesson years ago remember?"

"Well surprise parties are even worse." Blake grumbled. "And I hate making a fuss, it's just another day. Birthdays are for children, after 21 it's better to ignore them entirely."

Sighing at Blake's stubbornness Alexis shook her head before laying it back down on his shoulder and returning her gaze to the ceiling. "So you wouldn't be interested in doing something together then…It falls on a Saturday this year, I was thinking we might go somewhere for the weekend just the two of us…but if you really don't want any fuss…"

"I didn't say that!" Blake insisted suddenly half sitting up and disturbing Alexis. "I said I didn't want a party."

"You didn't even give me a chance to finish you said no regardless."

"Well since I am so old and cantankerous, surely I get to change my mind?" Blake insisted pouting like a child suddenly denied a treat.

Laughing at his expression Alexis leant up and brushed her lips against his cheek. "On one condition?"

Raising an eyebrow Blake turned his head slightly, his own smile growing at having Alexis so close and playful, the warmth of her breath on his skin as he took advantage and pressed their lips briefly together.

Smiling against Blake's mouth Alexis was laughing by the time they pulled apart. "That wasn't my condition Mr Carrington."

"Then by all means name it Mrs Colby." Blake retorted, admitting to himself that perhaps Alexis had a point, just letting things develop naturally was a lot less stressful than worrying about the future. Even if the question of the mansion was hell of a lot more difficult to put aside.

"Can we please get up now?" Alexis pleaded her emerald eyes wide and innocent before she added smugly. "My back feels almost as old as you!"

"Why you little…" Blake spat, playfully struggling to his feet as Alexis quickly jumped to hers and tried to avoid his fingers that grabbed at her waist trying to tickle her. Chasing her out of the bedroom and down the corridor, Alexis's laughter echoing through the empty building, teasing and encouraging him on.

Catching up with her at the top of the stairs Blake pulled her close, this time his kiss was demanding and passionate not a bit sweet or restrained. As Alexis's fingertips threaded through his hair, her nails raking his skin and his own reached down to cup her backside through those jeans, Blake had to admit one advantage this house did have over the mansion…and that was the distinct lack of other people!

Scowling as he tried to make sense of the reports that had been left on his desk, Jeff Colby only knew one thing and that was that things didn't add up. Production reports were down when they should be up. If things continued in this vein when it came to the quarterly accounts the board might start asking some awkward questions to which Jeff didn't at the moment have any answers.

So the sudden buzzing of his intercom and the sound of his secretary's voice was almost a welcome interruption.

"Excuse me Mr Colby but Mr Dobson is here and he insists on seeing you."

"Tell Mr Dobson I am busy. If he wants to see me then he can make an appointment like everyone else…"

Yet before Jeff could even finish the door to his office opened sharply and in strode an unusually agitated Frank Dobson.

"I don't recall that we had an appointment Dobson?"

"We didn't but this is far too important." Frank insisted striding up to Jeff's desk his grey eyes hard like flint. "And you had better drop whatever you are doing and listen to me."

Leaning back in his chair Jeff steepled his fingers, gazing in bemusement at Frank Dobson over the top. "Well considering that I doubt you will let me get a moments peace until you have said yours be my guest." Jeff added waving towards the opposite chair. "Can my secretary get you anything?"

"This isn't a social call Colby." Frank insisted setting his briefcase down on Jeff's desk, flicking open the fastenings and pulling the top up neatly. Reaching inside he retrieved a stack of official looking paperwork, which he then slammed down on the table in front of Jeff. "Explain that."

Frowning Jeff opened the folder his confusion only growing as he caught sight of a police statement…An Australian Police Statement. "What is this Dobson some sort of joke?"

"If only that were the case." Frank snorted. "Now I have been accused of underhand dealings in the past but the difference between us is that I have at least paid for my crimes but you Colby, you and Alexis really do take the biscuit and when the board hears just how you were able to arrange that convenient Australian compensation deal for Denver Carrington."

"Dobson what the hell are you talking about?"

"Blackmail Colby what else could I be talking about?" Dobson spat back before a newspaper clipping to the pile and there staring up at Jeff from an Australian newspaper was a picture of Senator Roberts with a chilling headline. "I take it you hadn't yet seen a copy of this morning's edition?"

"Oh no…" Jeff gasped his blue eyes widening in horror. "What happened?"

Snorting in derision Frank rolled his eyes. "What do you think happened Colby? You blackmailed the good Senator into pushing through the deal you wanted and then the poor man couldn't live with the guilt and killed himself. It's all there in the police report, he hung himself in his office, but not before leaving a suicide note than condemns Denver Carrington."

"Oh my god."

"Oh I think it's a little late to start praying…For now certain details haven't been released because the government is starting an investigation but you can bet that won't last…especially if someone gives the press a clue about where to start digging." Frank trailed off suggestively a sly smile pulling over his lips.

"A clue you would be only to happy to give no doubt." Jeff spat back his disgust only growing as Frank's smile grew. "You really are scum Dobson."

"Says the man who hounded the good Senator to his death." Frank retorted smugly. "Don't go playing the good guy here Colby you did this and I am going to make sure everyone gets all the real details about your little deal."

"It wasn't my deal, I had nothing to do with it…"

"Oh now it's backfired on you it suddenly isn't your deal but when it was a success you were happy to claim all the credit. Well I think it's time the board had all the details…in fact I think some concerned board member should call an emergency meeting and let them all know…unless…"

"Unless what?" Jeff demanded his blue eyes glinting with anger as now Dobson took his seat and casually unbuttoned his jacket. "Are you trying to blackmail me Dobson?"

"Now the word leaves a bad taste in your mouth? How very ironic." Frank drawled unable to contain his amusement at Jeff's consternation. "No not blackmail, I think of it more like agreeing to hold on to what I know to give you a chance to do some damage limitation, of course I would also be only too willing to assist you with dealing with any official investigation…of course like any external consultant I would expect some recompense…maybe a large corner office and a generous salary?"

"Get out!" Jeff hissed, his voice starting low in his throat more a growl than proper English.

Smiling Frank brushed his trousers down before getting to his feet and reaching for his briefcase. "I'll give you a little time to think about it shall I?"

Storming to the door Jeff wrenched it open glaring at Frank as he slowly sauntered towards him. "Get out of my office."

"Your office but for how much longer…" Frank paused before pressing the folder into Jeff's chest. "You can keep that Colby, I have copies. I'll be waiting for your call."

"I'd sooner see you in hell Dobson!" Jeff all but bellowed causing his secretaries to glance up from their work in surprise.

Shrugging off the threat Frank turned and with a cocky grin at Jeff's secretary made his way towards the elevator. Getting into the waiting elevator he pushed the button and in a few minutes he was striding out of the lobby, down the steps to a waiting town car.

As the door was opened for him by the driver Franks confident almost cocky grin slid quickly from his face to be replaced with a slightly nervous smile as he sank into the car and glanced across at his companion.

"How did it go?"

"Colby took the bait just like you said he would. In fact he even threatened me in front of some of the staff."

"Excellent."

For a moment a tense silence ensued as Frank resisted the urge to shift uncomfortably, unable to contain the question that almost burst from him as the car turned back down the street towards his apartment.

"I hope that I have proved himself again, that you can rely on me Mr Davenport? That my debt is repaid?"

Settled against the expensive leather Mr Davenport smirked. "Almost… there is one thing left for you to help me with…afterwards your debt will be repaid in full on that you have my word!"

"Come on there is one left…"

Quirking one eyebrow Blake turned, trying valiantly to tuck one of the plush cushions Mr Lin had delivered along with their picnic brunch back beneath his arm so he could stare at his companion instead. The sun streamed in through the tall conservatory windows making the room toasty warm unlike the rest of the house and picking out the highlights in Alexis's hair.

"Are you trying to fatten me up?"

"No I made you miss breakfast remember." Alexis answered laughing as she lifted the last strawberry to her own lips, brushing them teasingly with the soft sweet fruit. "Are you sure you don't want it?"

Unable to resist such an invitation Blake lent forward taking a bite from the strawberry and then pressing his juice stained lips against Alexis's much to her feigned protest.

"Blake…" Alexis complained rolling her eyes in mock annoyance as the juice dribbled down her chin and dropped to leave a stain on her white blouse before Alexis could reach up to wipe it away.

Leaning back grinning Blake was immune to her glare, stretching his hands back over his head, as he watched amused as Alexis futilely dabbed at the stain only succeeding in spreading it and making it worse.

"Perhaps Mr Lin should have included a bib along with the rest of this…" Blake paused waving his hand casually over the ornate picnic set up that looked like it had stepped out of India at the height of the Raj. "But I suppose he might have struggled to find space in the car?"

"Very funny Blake." Alexis tutted finally giving up on the strawberry stain even if the blouse was silk, she had others after all and it was only Chanel.

"I'm serious I didn't realise the Rolls had this much trunk space…perhaps I should trade in the town car? I mean somehow after this I doubt a simple hamper and argyle rug will ever be sufficient for a picnic date again…" Blake teased only stopping when Alexis reached for the champagne bottle and smiled dangerously.

"Now Darling?"

"Yes Blake?" Alexis retorted gently swinging the champagne bottle from the neck as she half crawled towards him.

"You do know I was teasing right?"

"Oh that was what that attempt at humour was? I did wonder." Alexis bit back her smirk only growing as Blake shifted nervously. "Please as if I would waste a drop of my favourite vintage." She added settling down beside him and reaching for her glass.

Rolling on to his side Blake reached for her waist, running his hands down her side and marvelling at the silky texture of her blouse and through it the warmth of her skin. Still as wonderful as the silk felt on his skin he knew Alexis's own skin was even softer, his fingers tugged lightly at the fabric lifting it enough for him to slip his hand underneath and run his fingers lightly across the small of her back.

"Stop it Blake that tickles…"

Smirking Blake ignored her, his fingers tracing light circles moving up from her back across her side before leaning over and nuzzling hungrily into her neck as his hands began to cup and need her breasts through her thin lace bra.

"I said stop it!" Alexis insisted her voice suddenly no longer playful as she sat up and pushed his hand out from under her blouse. "Do you honestly think after everything that I am suddenly ready to have sex with you as nothing had changed between us?"

"Alexis…?"

"Can't you ever do as I ask the first time?" Alexis spat avoiding Blake's concerned gaze as she took a sip of her champagne…yet suddenly even the taste of that was not enough to distract her…in fact of all things it made it worse. "Thank you for ruining a lovely morning!"

"Alexis stop…I'm sorry." Blake tried to explain but Alexis was on her feet, all but throwing her glass away and grabbing her coat as she stormed towards the front door.

It wasn't until Alexis was disappearing around the corner that the probably cause for her sudden outburst stuck Blake's brain like lightning and then he was on his feet following her. "God I am such an idiot."

Since she had opened her eyes that morning Krystle Carrington had had a sense of foreboding about today. Perhaps it was because her sleep had been disturbed by nightmares, the hospital phoning and informing her that actually Blake had had a heart attack and died…then she had dreamt about the funeral where the whole family had clustered around Alexis before closing the doors to the church on her.

That dark mood had still lingered even after she had gotten up and confirmed with Gerard that Mr Carrington had in fact returned from the hospital the previous night and had appeared well and in the best of spirits when he had left the house unusually early that morning. That Blake was avoiding the household didn't surprise Krystle in the least. After his last attack Blake had refused to talk about it with anyone, going so far as to leave the room if any of the family dared to bring the matter up. Now that he had a second attack Blake must have assumed, and quite rightly, that people would not let the subject go quite so easily and so had beat a hasty retreat before anyone could corner him.

Yet whilst she worried about Blake Krystle couldn't deny that Jess and the secret of her real parentage was also uppermost in her thoughts.

Just what should she do about what she had learnt? Krystle felt torn. On one side part of her wanted to jump right in, to find out the truth either from Jess or Blake. Just who was the bastard father Jess referred to with such contempt, and how could Blake have not mentioned another child to her? First Adam and now this other secret son? Clearly Blake had no relationship with him as Krystle couldn't imagine him being totally ignorant that the homeless pregnant waif sheltering under their roof was actually his long lost grand daughter.

Should she tell Blake what she had learnt?

Had this been a few years ago the answer would have been yes without question. The Blake she had been married to would never have turned his own blood away. Yet this current Blake Carrington was very different from the man she had known…he was harder and more difficult to read…Blake had shut her out and now Krystle found herself unable to predict how he really would react.

Could she have it on her conscience if Blake reacted badly and kicked poor Jess out? Somehow Krystle didn't imagine Alexis would be any more welcoming to Blake's bastard's bastard child who was herself heavily pregnant.

No she couldn't…Krystle had come to care for the softly spoken girl who had kept herself to herself during her stay…the reason for which Krystle now was beginning to understand. So before she made any decisions Krystle knew she had to understand the situation better than after a few overheard snatches from behind a door and that meant talking to the one person other than Jess who seemed to know all about it.

Krystle was off to see Jackson Hobbs.

Fallon Carrington Colby's morning had started positively and had been getting better ever since. Seeing her parents on their way to a reconciliation would alone have been enough to put a smile on her face, yet her breakfast with Jackson and his parting gesture had made that smile grow. Then when she had arrived at The Carlton it was to the news that they had managed to snatch the carousel ball contract out from under the nose of their bitter rivals. It was a coup that would put The Carlton on the map as the elite Denver hotel and that alone would have Fallon smiling all the way through the afternoon.

Yet it seemed fate was not through throwing Fallon things to make her day even better as there sitting alone at the bar staring moodily into his bourbon was Dex Dexter.

Intercepting her assistant who was about to deliver the revised duty roster to the bar manager Fallon insisted on doing it herself, dismissing her assistants surprised look in her hurry.

Approaching the bar she handed over the new roster before turning her attention to Dex who hadn't so much as glanced up once. Well that was about to change…

"Barely after noon and you're already wasting your day drinking…why am I not surprised?" Fallon drawled sarcastically watching as Dex's jaw tensed yet he continued to ignore her and Fallon couldn't resist needling him further. "Mummy certainly has had a lucky escape."

Snorting Dex's smile was bitter and sour as he lifted his drink and took a deep sip from it, allowing the strong liquid to burn his throat before bothering to reply. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Fallon growing more and more impatient as he continued to ignore her.

"I had just finished a business meeting Fallon some of us actually work for a living you know and considering I have been covering the slack since Blake is incapable of pulling his own weight you'd think you'd lay off me for once. Not that it is any of your affair what I do or when I do it…" Dex added humourlessly. "Not that it has stopped you in the past I might add!

"Oh well I wouldn't get too comfortable playing the martyr Dex I saw Daddy only this morning at breakfast and he looked well on the way to recovery…not surprising really considering he now has Mother tending to him instead of wasting her time with you." Fallon retorted smugly turning on her heel and tossing her hair share over her shoulder as she marched back off to her office.

Yet Fallon's cunning plan to get the last word and deflate Dexter's ego yet further took a decidedly wrong turn when instead of staying put and stewing over her parting comment Dex had the nerve to follow her.

Pushing past Fallon's assistant Dex slammed the door shut behind him causing Fallon to start and whirl around in anger.

"How dare you…"

"How dare I?" Dex spat cutting her off. "How dare you Fallon? You know I always thought you were the least rotten and selfish of Alexis's brats but actually you are the worst of the bunch…even Amanda had nothing on you and she was an insecure little home wrecker!"

"Whereas you are the measure of chastity and self restraint." Fallon countered crossing her arms as she leant back against her desk her blue eyes monitoring Dex's every flinch.

"I don't going around actively trying to destroy other people's relationships which is what you did when you lied to Jackson and then your mother. How very convenient it must be to be you Fallon…the spoilt little princess…how selective is your memory? Have you forgotten what Blake did to Alexis and how back then I was the answer to your prayers? Now you are all but pushing your mother back into Blake's arms."

"Where she belongs." Fallon muttered flustered by Dex's rant.

"In YOUR opinion, hardly a prime opinion considering you haven't as yet managed one long lasting relationship…how many times is it that you've divorced Jeff now?" Dex asked the sarcasm dripping from his tone as he closed in on a flushed Fallon, staring down into her face.

Boiling mad Fallon couldn't contain her retort. "And just how many time have you gotten angry and just fallen into bed with other women…first Amanda, then Sable, Monica…?"

"As opposed to the upstanding men you choose, Peter Devilbis…Miles Colby and now Jackson Hobbs, your taste for playboys is telling."

"Playboys are still better than cowboys!"

Shaking his head at her stubbornness, Fallon's need to win every argument and always have the last word was all her mother. Meeting her gaze Dex bore down into Fallon's blue eyes as he retorted smugly. "How would you know?"

Unable to contain the heat that rushed to her cheeks Fallon was unable to pull her gaze away from Dex's dark gaze. They were like dark bottomless pits that pulled her in and Fallon was unable to stop staring into them or the thoughts that sprang to mind.

"Mrs Colby I'm sorry for interrupting." Fallon's assistant hung nervously in the doorway, having knocked but receiving no answer. "LB's school is on the line…there has been some sort of problem."

Blushing Fallon backed away ripping her gaze away from Dex's which had become strangely introverted. "Thank you Helen." Grabbing for the phone Fallon pressed blindly at the buttons…anything to avoid meeting Dex Dexter's gaze again.

Blake was breathing heavily as his pushed his horse hard. Alexis had runaway from him after his mistake at the house and Blake knew he only had himself to blame. He had stupidly been lulled into a happy bubble where he thought none of his previous mistakes could follow him…well that bubble had now well and truly burst and Blake was left rushing to pick up the shattered pieces.

The idea that somewhere out on the grounds Alexis was hurting all because he had blundered into a situation that he should have known well enough to avoid. That kicked Blake in the gut and what made it worse was knowing that he only had himself to blame. So it was with a tangible feeling of relief that Blake finally spotted Alexis down by the lake. Urging his own horse down the slope Blake only prayed that Alexis didn't choose to leave before he could reach her that he hadn't irreparable damaged everything…

"I'm an idiot and I am so sorry…I should have realised that you wouldn't want to jump back into bed with me…" The words were spilling from Blake's lips before his horse had even come to a complete halt. Yet if Alexis had heard him she didn't react in the slightest, she continued to stand next to her horse's head stroking his muzzle gently, not even glancing back in Blake's direction.

Swinging down from his own horse Blake approached her carefully, part of him ached to pull her into his arms and reassure her with everything he had that this time he wasn't going to hurt her…that this time he would put her needs first…Blake had always found actions easier than putting his feelings into words but this time that wasn't an option, this time Alexis needed to hear him say it.

"Darling…Alexis look at me please…" Blake pleaded hovering at Alexis's shoulder his eyes locked on the side of her face his heart sinking into his boots when Alexis reached up to brush tears away…tears that he had caused.

"Please don't cry, not over me I am not worth it and I don't know what else to say other than I am sorry…god am I so sorry… I really just wasn't thinking." Blake confessed his dark eyes raking over Alexis's face for any flicker of reaction.

"You were there with me just like I've been dreaming about for months, just the two of us again. You are so damn beautiful and I haven't been able to touch you for so long. Then today we are kissing and I got to hold you in my arms again; I just let myself get carried away. It's no excuse I know I should have known better, I should have recognised it in your voice when you tried to warn me…and I won't fail like that again, from now on we can take things at you pace I promise. I will keep my hands to myself until you tell me it's alright." Blake spluttered before falling silent as Alexis remain as silent and impassive as a statue.

"Just please don't tell me it's over…Alexis I couldn't live with it…I couldn't cope with loosing you again even if it is all my own fault. Darling please…"

"…its not all your fault…"

Startled by Alexis's voice rough and low as she turned to face him, the open expression on her face giving Blake hope as she struggled for words.

"But I…"

"No Blake you were right about one thing I was also acting as though nothing had changed between us…we flirted and kissed and I enjoyed being in your arms. I don't blame you for getting the wrong idea in the first place; I was acting rather friendly for a real first date."

Snorting Blake could only quip dryly as memories of their previous first dates flooded back to mind. "Well maybe other people's first dates…" That at least drew a half smile.

Glancing across at Blake Alexis blushed slightly under his intense gaze before whispering. "I guess I was just trying to shut everything out, we've both been through so much lately I just wanted to pretend and exist in this perfect bubble… just the two of us…I wanted to…I've been trying to pretend that nothing is wrong."

"But something is wrong isn't it?" Blake asked hesitantly his dark eyes welling in sympathy as Alexis nodded. "Someone hurt you didn't they? Alexis please talk to me…I can only imagine how difficult this must be talking to me about this but please you have to know that there is nothing you can tell me that would make me love you any less."

Shaking her head Alexis bit her lip. Part of her wanted nothing more than to break down in Blake's arms and tell him everything. Just to tell someone would be a relief but if she did talk about it then that meant facing and reliving what had happened when all she really wanted was to bury those memories deep and run away…run far away.

"I…I can't…not right now…I just with everything else…with loosing Amanda I just can't deal with this as well right now. I just wanted to forget for a day, to be with you without having to think about anything else. Right now 'us' seems to be the only thing that is going right."

"Believe me, I of all people can understand that." Blake answered honestly. His hand trembling as he tentatively reached out for Alexis's, relieved when she at least allowed him to thread their fingers together…an unspoken gesture of support and empathy between them that allowed Blake to open up if only slightly more…the feelings that he just couldn't find the words for and yet somehow now he needed to at least try.

"God there have been days when I have woken up praying it had all been a bad dream and I will roll over to find you beside me…and that none of this mess with Amanda or Dexter or Denver Carrington had ever happened."

"I know." Alexis choked out blinking back the tears that began to build once more. "But reality has the unfortunate habit of ruining dreams and I just wanted to shut it out for a while...to pretend to be the person I was before."

"More than anything I want to be able to hold you right now." Blake whispered softly. "Hold you and make it all go away. I hate seeing you cry…It kills me knowing I am the reason…"

"I think I would like you to hold me right now." Alexis answered softly glancing up from beneath her lashes to meet Blake's gaze when he hesitated, his dark eyes full of barely concealed fear. "Please Blake I do need you…I need you just like you need me…I don't want to lose you because of this."

Hesitant Blake wrapped his hands loosely around Alexis, releasing some of the tension when Alexis ignored his cautiousness and instead burrowed into him. "I love you."

"I love you too." Blake answered softly resting his cheek against her forehead. "And I am sorry for everything I just hope you can forgive me?" Dismissing it was merely his own distraught mind playing tricks on him when he thought he heard Alexis whisper.

"And I hope you will be able to forgive me…"

Krystle was dressed and ready to go to the stud in fact she was actually heading down the stairs when the double doors to the mansion slammed open before a stunned Gerard could even open them properly.

"Danny come back here right now!"

Yet Danny didn't listen to his father, he didn't so much as pause in his sprint up the stairs. If it hadn't been for Krystle moving to block his path Danny probably would have made it all the way up the stairs to his room.

"Danny what on earth…" Krystle exclaimed as Danny fought against her like a wild animal.

"Steven Daniel Carrington you stop that this instant." Steven demanded catching up with his son and taking his arm. "Thank you Krystle."

Nodding automatically Krystle glanced between father and son. Steven's unusually stern expression and Danny's mutinous one. "What on earth happened? Danny why aren't you at school?"

"I'll tell you why he isn't at school because he was suspended for two weeks!" Steven answered hotly glaring down at his son who had the nerve to glare right back at his father as though it were his fault.

"Suspended what for…this must be some sort of misunderstanding…" Krystle began appeasingly only for Steven to cut her off once more.

"Oh there is no misunderstanding he was caught red handed fighting and several witnesses all stated that Danny jumped LB without LB so much as touching him first!"

"LB? Oh my god is he alright?"

"He's shaken, when I got there Fallon had just arrived to take LB to the hospital." Steven paused this time directing his words to his unrepentant son. "Since someone punched him hard enough to break his nose."

Gritting his teeth Danny muttered his reply. "He deserved it."

"You deserve to be punished young man." Steven bit back unable to recognise his sweet loving son in the young boy before him, it was almost like his son had been completely replaced by another. "Your school suspension is only the beginning, you are now grounded for a month, your computer games and toys are off limits and as for our trip away this weekend well you can forget that now!"

"GOOD!" Danny yelled back shaking off his father's arm and bolting up the stairs only pausing at the top to yell back one last parting shot. "Now you can leave me alone and go back to New York because I hate you…I hate all of you!"

"Finally what kept you? What happened? You know I don't have all day…"

Scowling at her big brother's less than warm welcome Marin purposefully waited until she had taken a seat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine before giving into Dex's glare and spilling her news.

"Hold your horses Dex, you know considering I am the one doing all the donkey work you would think you might be a little more grateful." Marin retorted sharply her keen dark eyes taking in the two empty glasses in front of Dex and the way the bartender didn't even bother to ask if her brother wanted a refill he just dropped another drink off with her wine.

"Been here long?"

"Long enough." Dex muttered darkly his eyes distant as he hunkered down over his drink. "I hope you at least have got some good news for me."

"Oh I've got news alright." Marin replied. "I went back to the exhibition hall and finally managed to get hold of the roster for the opening night of the art exhibition. Then it's amazing how after a few well placed notes someone finally did remember something useful…"

"Which was what?" Dex demanded unable to contain his impatience, his tolerance for his sister's storytelling somewhat lessoned after a night of no sleep thanks to Jack and then that unsettling encounter with Fallon who had only been too delighted to inform him about Alexis and Blake…not that Dex couldn't have seen that coming but hearing it confirmed was another thing entirely.

"You know for someone crashing in my hotel suite and someone I am doing favours you have a pretty shitty way of showing your gratitude brother dear. It's bad enough having to put up with that baby crying all night without dealing with your moods as well." Marin sniped back taking a sip of her own drink.

It was typical of Dex back to thinking the whole world revolved around him, here she was putting herself out for him…well and to protect the family name…Marin had to admit that was also major motivation on her part. Still not once had Dex asked her if she was alright. He hadn't even asked about how she was coping with Dexter International. If she was happy with the temporary CEO she had hired to manage the day-to-day business, and who was costing her a small fortune…or if secretly she was terrified at just how out of her depth she was. Not that she would just come out and admit that...Dex at least had to ask otherwise she would seem desperate.

Sighing Dex swallowed his pride…Marin did have a point…a small point but a point none the less.

"Ok I'm sorry. I do appreciate you; I guess I just haven't been good at showing it. As for Jack well I've got the nanny sorted now and we can move into our own suite until I decide what to do next…"

Somehow the idea of returning to his cold empty apartment filled Dex with dread. That would mean accepting that things were completely over between him and Alexis and even though in his heart he knew that was the case Dex just wasn't ready to face it yet.

"Apology accepted." Marin replied smugly running her fingers over the smooth sides of her wine glass before continuing. "One of the cleaning staff had something interesting to say. He remembers when they were clearing up that one gentleman did come back to the party after everyone else had left and took something out of one of the bins."

Tensing Dex demanded. "What did he look like? Did he recognise him?"

Pausing dramatically Marin smirked, "old with silver gray hair…now do we know anyone who fits that description who might have an axe to grind with you?"

Dex narrowed his eyes his fists clenching as he imagined punching in a certain face over and over again. "Blake?"

She was cold…well parts of her were cold. Her face felt like a block of polished marble as despite the bright sunshine the cloudless sky and bitter wind meant that it actually quite chilly down here by the lake with no trees providing cover. Not that she was ready to leave just yet…

Her hands were warm at least; one pushed into her jacket pocket the other held tightly in Blake's hand as they made a slow circuit around the ornamental lake that would form the dramatic centrepiece of Alexis's new parkland. A comfortable silence had fallen between them…or at least it wasn't uncomfortable. Alexis wasn't exactly willing to continue their previous discussion and it seemed Blake had learnt something in their time apart in that for once he didn't push.

He was concerned about her, one look at his face told her that. Blake had never been able to completely hide his feelings from her, normally one look in his dark eyes told her what he never would. Yet now it was if that restraint was gone and Blake was open…or as open as Blake Carrington could be about his feelings and chief among those was open concern for her.

Yet instead of warming her it made the guilt stir sickening in her stomach. Oh on the surface Alexis knew she had nothing really to rebuke herself for other than being a damn fool. The only person she had cheated on technically had been Dex and even then there were conflicting arguments.

Was it really cheating if you were drugged and…Alexis hesitated…even in her own mind she refused to label what had happened to her as rape? That would make her a victim and Alexis Colby refused to be a victim, she may readily admit to being a bitch but never a victim of anyone. Yet what else could explain it? She had been drugged, Ethan had pushed her into a situation she couldn't get out of and then had taken advantage of her delirium. In any court of law she was sure a prosecutor would be able to make a damn fine case out the evidence…

Still would Blake see it that way?

Ethan….Alexis refused to even think of him as anything else, the man was a bastard of the first order why couldn't he be a liar as well…still he was a handsome man and with her reputation?

"Are you alright?" Blake's question was hesitant even as he jokingly added. "I've never known you be quiet for so long its somewhat unnerving."

"Oh I was just thinking about yesterday…the funeral… we didn't get to say our goodbyes."

"I know. That was all might fault, I ruined it…."

"Stop it Blake." Alexis snapped unable to contain her irritation with her ex-husband. "Even I found it overwhelming, I broke down too so I can hardly blame you for everything…I was just thinking perhaps we should visit her grave together and say our goodbyes properly without half of Denver looking on."

"I…that might be difficult and I wouldn't want to let you down again…you or Amanda I made such a mess of things last time."

"Why do you always have to be the strong one? Do you think I want you to bottle all those feelings away? I never have Blake, all I have ever wanted was for you to let me in not shut me out. You don't have to be that man with me, I won't judge you, I love you!"

"And I love you but…" Blake struggled to find the words, how could he explain how much less of a man he felt giving into those weaknesses, for being unable to control his emotions was a weakness as far as he could see it. One that was understandable in a woman but unacceptable in the man his father had raised. "…but you know me I just can't…"

"Oh I know what you are like only to well but it's not healthy to always bury all your feelings Blake why else would you be having these attacks?"

"If I just admit you are right will you let it go for the time being?" Blake asked wryly. "Now don't you think we should be heading back?"

Ignoring Blake's attempt to lighten the mood and change the subject Alexis locked her eyes on him, watching as Blake squirmed uncomfortably under her gaze, "On one condition."

"Again with the conditions?"

Alexis gaze intensified into a faux glare. "The condition is that you sees that specialist, next week, no more delays. You do need to talk to someone."

Blake tried to protest…"They want me to see a shrink, I don't need therapy…"

Yet Alexis cut him off before he could even finish. If common sense and his own wellbeing alone weren't enough to sway him then it was time to resort to the big guns. Stopping dead and pulling Blake up short Alexis added decidedly.

"Well if you want to go away for your birthday with me then you will! After all I want some reassurance that you won't collapse on me in the middle of nowhere when I wouldn't have a clue what to do to help you. Do you really think that would be fair?"

"No but…"

"That's the deal breaker Blake…take it or leave it?"

Ok so maybe she shouldn't have just blurted it out like that but Marin hadn't expected Dex to react quite so impulsively.

I mean sure it looked suspicious and considering the bad blood between them it wasn't too large a leap to believe that Blake was behind everything, except for the fact that it was a little too convenient. Maybe it was Blake or maybe it was someone else entirely; he was hardly the only silver haired fox in Denver.

"Dex are you sure this is the right thing to do?"

"You aren't honestly going to defend him?" Dex spat back his eyes narrowing in disgust.

"Yes but perhaps this is going a little far…" Marin hesitated.

"Why he was prepared to humiliate me…to drag our name through the mud all to make trouble for me and break me and Alexis up…why should we shrink from doing the same?"

"But Dex we don't know for certain…"

"Oh it was Blake." Dex cut Marin off before she could try and convince him otherwise.

"That's why the blackmailer didn't show to the rendezvous because Blake had to rush off to Europe. Blake must have know about this all along he was Sam's oldest friend…hell he even came back from the war and came to work in Wyoming to get mining experience, he lived at the house. He must have found out then what was going on and knew that Sam would probably confess all in his farewell letter. He must have thought all his prayers had come true when he saw me throw it away that night at the benefit…Don't you see it has to be him!"

"Alright so it probably was that doesn't mean we have to sink to his level?"

"Why the hell NOT?" Dex all but yelled grabbing his jacket and striding towards the door. "Look I don't need your permission Marin; I am a big boy I can take responsibility for my own actions…"

"Perhaps if you took a little more time to think it through…"

"No I am through sitting on the sidelines and letting Blake Carrington steamroll over my life, I am through being the good guy or the bigger person." Dex retorted his tanned face contorted with rage. "It's time Blake Carrington learnt just who he is dealing with…because I am not going to let him get away with this!" Dex added wrenching the door to the suite open and striding off down the corridor.

"Dex…Dex…Dammit wait." Marin called out pausing only long enough to grab her own coat and purse and try to follow her elder brother down the corridor, cursing when Dex slipped into the life and the doors closed before she could reach them.

Forced to take the stairs Marin was breathing heavily by the time she reached the main lobby rushing across the marble floor as she searched for sign of her lose cannon of a brother. She was so preoccupied that she didn't even see the other person until they collided and Marin was then heading for a nasty collision with the hard marble floor.

Or she would have had it not been for a strong pair of arms catching her before she could do so. Breathless and too stunned to even speak Marin could only stare up into amused dark eyes.

"Well this must be my lucky day, a new city to enjoy and beautiful women falling at my feet."

"Actually you knocked me off of mine but who's keeping track." Marin quipped yet there was no hiding the breathy tone to her voice or that way her pulse jumped as the handsome suited businessman flashed her a killer smile as he lifted her back onto her feet. "Thank you Mr…"

"Why don't you join me for a drink and find out?" Her mysterious saviour asked clicking his fingers at a waiting bellboy. "I just need to check in…"

"And I just need to be going." Marin answered smartly. "Sorry but I have somewhere else to be."

"Well that is a shame, perhaps we will bump into each other again…I guess I will just have to hang around the lobby in case you need saving again."

Hiding her pleasure at such flattery Marin was torn yet she really did have to find Dex before he did something they would both regret…besides it wasn't good to appear too eager. "Perhaps how you choose to spend your time is your decision."

Turning Marin hurried out of the front doors, able to feel the heat of her mystery man's gaze on her back. Yet if she had paused that few moments longer that one question would have been answered as Mr Mystery walked up to the reception desk.

"My name is Mr Ethan Hailsworth…I believe you have a reservation for me."

For once his day was going well. Although anything would have been an improvement over the day before…

Now sitting in the peace and quiet of his office Jackson wouldn't help but wonder how he had gotten himself into this mess in the first place. He could have stayed in Europe trying to forget with fine wine and women… or even if he hadn't been able to ignore Jess's plea for him to return to the states and fulfil her mother's last request there were other ways he could have gone about it…

Now things were far more complicated…Jackson had been drawn into this family, he found himself caring for certain members. Something far removed from the protocol drilled into him in the special forces. All that keep your enemies closer bullshit might work for spies and the like but Jackson wasn't a spook he was a soldier and a playboy. Even though he had thought his heart to jaded to care for anyone but Jess Jackson couldn't deny he now lacked the distance and objectivity to keep a cool clear head.

And that was without even factoring Jess into the situation.

Now Jackson could only look back on his idiotic decision to allow Krystle to put Jess up for the night at the mansion and wish he had refused and packed the girl on the first bus out of town. How was he supposed to protect her like this? When Jess herself was leaning towards exposing the whole damn secret to Blake Carrington himself, a man hardly known for his subtly.

No the whole situation was in danger of exploding in his handsome face and Jackson would rather die than let Tom get his sticking hands on Jess again…no that sick possessive bastard wouldn't be given the chance to destroy her life anymore than he had already. As long as he died taking his old friend along with him then that was just fine then that was just fine with Jackson.

Frowning Jackson pushed away the memories that always rose to the surface whenever he thought of Tom, good and bad intermingled and there was little he could do to stop them. Sometimes he would dream about the old days, back when they had nothing growing up side by side in the gutter. Tom without a father and a mother who would disappear for days with one of her gentlemen friends leaving Tom alone in their cellar flat…that dark dingy flat despite its damp and neglect had been Jackson's haven from his father's fists even if it couldn't block out the sound of his poor mother's screams as she also got his share.

That Tom had been his brother and his best friend…they would huddle together under threadbare blankets and tell story's about all the wonderful exotic places they would go off adventuring together when they got big enough to run off and join the merchant navy. Or perhaps Tom's American father would finally find him and take him back across the ocean on one of those large ocean liners and Jackson could hide away inside his trunk until it was too late to send him back. Tom liked to talk about his hero father…he always sounded jolly and larger than life, like a cross between Biggles and Father Christmas.

Then one day Tom's mother never came home at all…instead a pinch faced woman who glared down her nose the through the glasses perched on the end of it came. She took Tom away and then for months Jackson prayed that she would come and do the same for him. There was no Tom to run to when his father came home drunk, instead Jackson hid under his bed and clamped his hands over his ears to stifle the screams.

Until one day they stopped forever and a policeman came and took his father away and the same pinched faced social worker came for him. With his mother dead and his father rotting in jail Jackson became a ward of the state. He had to live in an orphanage now, had to be scrubbed down with carbolic soap and have his head shaved to prevent lice but none of that mattered because at least it meant he was back with Tom.

Except Tom wasn't quite the same as he remembered…he didn't smile or make believe like Jackson remembered but that didn't matter because he still talked about getting far away and taking Jackson with him. So if Tom was mean to him in front of some of the older boys or if he made him do things that Jackson knew was wrong, like standing watch whilst Tom broke into the larder and stole the other children's sweets. It didn't matter as long as they were still together.

Together forever…or at least now until one of them finally succeeded in killing the other.

He was so lost in the past that it wasn't until his hitherto silent observer coughed politely that Jackson all but jumped out of his skin. Blue eyes snapping to the open doorway his racing pulse only calming when he caught sight of who his visitor was.

"Krystle what a pleasant surprise…"

"It may not be so pleasant after you realise why I am here Jackson." Krystle replied the strange distant quality to her voice causing Jackson to frown, his concern only growing at her next words that caused his skin to turn clammy and his heart to leap into his throat. "I know…I know the truth…"

"The truth?" Jackson swallowed nervously, the question was which truth since there were so many floating around at the moment. Yet since the likelihood of Krystle knowing any of his own deep dark secrets or the truth about Jess, her father and her poor mother, that sweet wisp of a girl long gone. Krystle surely meant the other truth…the one about Blake and Alexis. The only question left was exactly how much Krystle did know and how much was she just guessing, coming here hoping to trick him into confirming it.

Krystle could here the nerves in Jackson's voice. The way his normally deep and soothing tenor voice broke slightly over the word. Even his eyes widened as he glanced about trying to avoid her gaze.

"It's alright Jackson I know and I'm not angry with you for keeping it from me…I just wish I understood why?"

"But how could you know?" Jackson all but stuttered his handsome face creased in a frown, he had only discovered Alexis and Blake were reconciling because Carrington had appeared at breakfast. So how could Krystle have found out so soon? Unless of course Blake had found the balls to tell her himself, yet somehow Jackson doubted that was true.

"Its amazing the things you learn by accidentally eavesdropping." Krystle answered softly her blue eyes locking softly on Jackson stunned and worried expression.

"And you are really alright with it?"

Chuckling Krystle admitted. "Well I was a little shocked, it did come out of left field but the important thing in this is the family. As long as my family isn't hurt by this then how can I object…it only makes it bigger and they do say bigger is better don't they?"

Shaking his head in amazement Jackson was stunned by the depth of selflessness of this woman. "Carrington is a fool you know."

Blushing at his blunt praise Krystle brushed it aside. "Blake has his redeeming features. He is a good father, he loves his children…" Krystle added softly pausing as Jackson scoffed. "You don't really know him Jackson Blake adores Krystina and Fallon has him wrapped finger."

"But he's not quite so understanding of his sons now is he?" Jackson retorted and Krystle couldn't deny that, after all Blake hadn't had the easiest of relationships with Adam or Steven and heaven knows what had happened between him and this other mysterious son of his but that didn't mean it was all Blake's fault.

Sighing Krystle could only shrug, glancing up at Jackson from beneath her eyelashes. "Blake doesn't like to talk about it but I suspect he had a somewhat difficult relationship with his own father and that affected how he is with his sons."

"That doesn't make it right…"

"No but it does make him human." Krystle countered relieved when the scowl finally vanished from Jackson's brow.

"Alright you win now can we stop talking about Blake Carrington and his many psychological issues….Come on I have a surprise for you!" Jackson purposefully changed the subject, deliberately ignoring Krystle and her attempt to protest. "Now come on it is a pleasant one…"

"Jackson…" Krystle mock glowered as Jackson smirked at her and held out his hand.

"Pretty please?" Jackson teased fluttering his eyelashes dramatically, smiling in relief when Krystle laughed and took his hand.

"So this surprise…"

"Won't be one if I tell you!" Jackson insisted leading Krystle down from his office and across the yard into the new stable block where the muted sounds of horses neighing and rustling their bedding soothed them both.

Coming to a standstill in front of the largest loosebox Jackson waved Krystle forward with a knowing grin, watching with pleasure as her own face lit up.

"She had the foal!"

"Yes I came down this morning to find our new arrival waiting for me." Jackson replied moving to join Krystle at the stable door, their shoulders brushing as they gazed inside at the suckling foal who still staggered around on unsteady legs. "I saved the honour of naming our newest arrival for you!"

"For me?" Krystle beamed her joy lanced suddenly as echoing through the stable block came a rather familiar sounding laugh, that was accompanied a moment later by a familiar tinkle laugh that Krystle had once heard compared to a sliver of moonlight...or some such nonsense

"Krystle wait…" Yet Krystle ignored Jackson's plea to wait. Unable to stop herself, it was like she was being pulled towards the other end of the stable block like a fish caught on a hook being slowly pulled towards shore.

In the end she simply stood in the open doorway her eyes providing the proof that her heart had suspected and the truth that she hadn't dared give voice. There with his arms intimately about Alexis as he helped her lift down the heavy saddle, taking the opportunity to press a loving kiss to her cheek was Blake.

"Blake I told you it's fine I can manage..." Alexis began her words dying on her lips as she turned in his arms and caught sight of their onlooker for the first time art of her unable to resist needling her former rival. "Well hello Krystle fancy seeing you? Did you need us for anything in particular or did you just come to watch?"