What had possessed him?

Had he finally lost control of his mind entirely?

Anyone else would have been better, he could have had his pick in most bars about town but no Dex had to go and lose control with the worst person imaginable and for the most unforgiveable of reasons.

Because she was as close to Alexis as he was going to get…

Just saying it even if only in his mind made Dex feel sick to his stomach and it must have carried over to his posture as the dozing brunette tracing the outline of his chest suddenly paused in her exploration.

"This was a mistake wasn't it?"

Sighing in relief as Fallon actually vocalised his own thoughts, Dex couldn't contain his sigh of relief as he sat up and pulled the blanket from the sofa offering it to his companion as he shielded his eyes from the view of her naked body, and so missed the expression of hurt that flickered across Fallon's face before she quickly locked it down.

"A mistake, a catastrophe, a right royal f…." Dex began only for Fallon to cut him off.

"I think I get your point Dex." Fallon added her tone clipped as she tucked the blanket around herself.

"Do you?" Dex questioned reaching for his underwear and dragging them back on hurriedly.

"Do you have any idea how much worse we have made an already terrible situation? I was married to your mother Fallon and I've already had affairs with both Amanda and Sable…Jesus people are going to start saying I have a problem and the worst of it is I am not entirely sure they are wrong!" Dex spat his voice rising in pitch as he ran his fingers through his hair as panic truly beginning to take hold.

Why had he done this? To hurt Alexis back for hurting him? Using her daughter to even the score, dear god what type of man did that make him? What possible role model was he setting for his son, that it was alright to sleep with anyone providing they were willing and had enough of a resemblance to the woman he loved?

"So what if we don't say anything?" Fallon suggested, already able to picture her mother's horror and disappointment so clearly in her mind.

Even though Alexis was with Blake the idea of Fallon and her ex lover together would surely hurt and disgust her and Fallon wasn't ready to see that look of hurt and disappointment on her mother's face. They had worked so hard to rebuild their relationship and Fallon enjoyed the intimacy she now shared with her mother, the trust they had worked so hard to achieve.

"If we agree never to talk about this again…even between ourselves…then it will be like it never even happened…" Fallon added warming to her own idea.

"After all no one else can know…or needs to know." She paused turning to fix her blue eyes determinedly on Dex meeting his dark gaze.

"Nobody!" And by nobody Fallon knew Dex knew she meant Alexis. "What they don't know can't hurt them and as you're leaving Denver it really shouldn't be difficult to avoid each other until you do."

Swallowing nervously Dex nodded, surprised at how reasonable Fallon was being about this. Perhaps this was just some sick thing they both needed to get out of their systems, now the anger had been extinguished continuing to bicker between themselves suddenly seemed pointless.

"That sounds like a good idea to me." Dex offered softly and clearly his cooperation surprised Fallon as well as she fixed him with a scrutinising glare. "What?"

"I am surprised that's all." Fallon offered hugging her blanket closer. "I thought you would want to hurt her back, you could use this…"

"I am not sadistic Fallon." Dex cut her off not truly surprised by Fallon's low opinion of him yet it till stung, especially after they had just slept together. How could Fallon go to bed with a man she actually thought so little of or was her own self esteem really that low that respect for her bed partners was no longer an issue?

"Your mother and I have our problems and she has hurt me and I have every right to be angry with her." Dex paused sighing grappling for the words to explain his complicated relationship and feelings for Alexis.

"But I won't use this; I won't destroy your relationship with Alexis just to even the score. As much as she has hurt me I just can't help loving her and I won't set out to deliberately hurt her; it's going too far…besides she has been a wonderful mother to Jack, she loves him like her own and I am already taking him away from her…I won't destroy another one of her relationships with her children out of little more than spite."

"That's very big of you Dex." Fallon grudgingly admitted even as she swallowed her own guilt. "And I'm sorry about before…It's just my family is very important to me and when I think they're threatened I have a tendency to lash out without thinking…and the things you said…" Fallon trailed off her stomach churning but she had to ask.

"Dex did Mummy really come here?"

Now it was Dex's turn to feel the prick of guilt. "She came…to see Jack." He added quickly watching as Fallon's head snapped up surprise and relief written clearly all over her face. "I slept on the couch."

Closing her eyes as she sagged in relief Fallon felt some of her tensions uncoil. Thank god at least she didn't have to carry that burden as well. Having to struggle with the decision of whether to tell her father what her mother had been up to, or of having to live with the knowledge that her parent's reconciliation was really a sham.

"Thank god." Fallon muttered before reaching for her clothes. "I guess I should be going…It's getting late and people might wonder where I am…" She rambled surprised when Dex suddenly swore.


"Dex what?"

"I'm so late God dammit." Dex exclaimed grabbing for his trousers and dragging them on as he searched the hotel room for his shirt, yet when he found it and pulled it on only to have to pull it off again as it seemed Fallon shared her mother's tendency for ripping off his shirt buttons.

Darting into his bedroom and retrieving another shirt from the wardrobe Dex had barely gotten it buttoned when he was rushing back into the lounge and rescuing his tie and jacket from the floor. Dressing himself quickly Dex deliberately avoided even glancing in Fallon's direction as she dressed equally quickly.

Of course that still left him with one problem…Jack…the babysitter had probably turned up and then left when he hadn't answered the door…being otherwise distracted at the time. Still he couldn't leave Jack on his own…unless…

"Fallon I know it's a lot to ask but could you please just stay here with Jack for a moment I'll ask at the desk to send the babysitter up as soon as they can but I can't miss this meeting….I'm already half an hour late as it is!" Dex exclaimed his dark eyes pleading. Surprised when instead of arguing Fallon simply nodded her head.

"Thank you!" Dex added grabbing his briefcase and darting for the door, not sparing a second thought for the woman he was leaving behind who sank down on to the sofa the moment he left with her head in her hands…

No he had badder fish to fry and if this one got away, well then he could kiss his quick getaway goodbye as well. And it was now in all their interests that his tenure in Denver came to as swift an end as possible!

The first sign that something was wrong was the sound of shouting…

Yet the loud drone of the shower spray muffled the noise and Marin could only frown in confusion. However when after the initial exclamation there was no more yelling Marin simply shook her shoulders and continued to enjoy her shower. The water was warm and it soothed her back which she would admit to herself ached a little after the previous night's exploits…

Perhaps the stupid room service had gotten their order wrong, from what she already knew about Ethan Hailsworth Marin could tell the man was a perfectionist. The type who would send back a steak unless it was cooked exactly how he liked it. Ethan was a perfectionist in the bedroom as well and Marin had to admit there were times she struggled to keep up with his extensive appetite for sex.

He certainly spared no expense and Marin appreciated that quality in a suitor, when she arrived last night Ethan had already ordered a wide selection of the finest things on The Carlton's menu just on the off chance she might fancy it. Not a bottle but a magnum of the best vintage champagne to accompany it and…

Giggling like a school girl Marin couldn't help but reach up and run her fingers along the fine gold chain that now graced her neck, and the three floating diamonds that hung off it like little charms. Ethan had surprised her with it last night draping it around her neck after another round of lovemaking; one diamond for the past, another for the present and the largest…for their future.

Finally to find a man like this who wanted her!

Marin couldn't contain her excitement and delight, it bubbled up inside her and she had to smother another giggle behind her hands lest Ethan hear her and think her totally immature or worse unbalanced and change his mind about being with her.

The only drawback in the whole bright future was that Ethan thought, and Marin reluctantly could understand his argument that they had to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. Ethan assured her that it wasn't that he didn't want people to know about them, or that he didn't want to be with her openly, but simply that it might cause awkward questions around his business dealings; especially if he was going to advise her around Dexter International.

As his business was built upon his reputation the last thing he needed was an unfounded accusation of insider trading floating about. It was a difficult sacrifice to make but Ethan and the promise of a future together was worth it, at least it was in Marin's eyes.

Marin was so engrossed in her daydreaming that when the shower door was suddenly opened and in stepped Ethan dressed only in his suit trousers she all but jumped out of her skin.

"Ethan you startled me…Darling what on earth you're getting soaked…"

Yet one glance into Ethan's face and the hard furious expression he wore had Marin worrying less about his trousers and more about why he was here. Then when Ethan's hands reached out and roughly grabbed her upper arms and shoved her hard against the back of the shower Marin couldn't contain her squeak of surprise or subsequent moan as her already sore back suffered further abuse.


"You lied to me." Ethan all but roared in her face and Marin felt fear grip her body as Ethan held her captive in his strong arms like a limp doll.

"I didn't…I don't know what…" Marin stammered wincing as Ethan lifted her away only to slam her back against the shower wall, her feet slipping on the tiles as she tried to recover her balance. "I wouldn't lie to you!"

"Don't lie to me again…its always the same with you bitches you think you've found one to trust and then she goes and stabs in the back…I thought you were different Marin!"

"I am…I swear Ethan I don't know what is wrong but I will fix it please…please." Marin added babbling unable to stop tears from trickling down her face to mingle with the showers spray. "I haven't lied to you I promise."

"Oh really then you don't recall telling me that your brother was going to go for the deal?" Ethan all but spat in her face. "You led me on Marin I told my client it was a sure thing and then what happens…"

"I don't know Ethan I'm sorry." Marin pleaded. "Dex told me he was going to go for it…"

"Really then why is it Dexter didn't even bother to show for the meeting?" Ethan countered his dark eyes burning into her own. "You made me look like a fool and for what, all so you brother could act the big man?"

"I didn't know I swear I didn't know…Ethan I would never do that to you…"

"Oh and you expect me to believe that, that if it came down to siding with family or with me that you'd actually chose me?" Ethan scoffed shaking his head, his hair now slick with water hung down over his face making it look dark and haunted.

"I would baby I would." Marin insisted relieved when Ethan seemed to relax his grip on her arms slightly which wasn't saying much since he had held her so tightly it was sure to have left bruises behind. "Let me prove it to you…I promise from now on it's just you and me."

"I want to believe you Marin." Ethan retorted. "But I have been hurt and used too many times, I honestly thought you were different."

"Baby I am different." Marin added a spark of hope growing in her breast as she lifted a trembling hand to cup Ethan's cheek. "If you just give me one more chance I will prove it…please Ethan I know I am asking a lot but trust me."

Finally releasing her completely Ethan stood up and crossed his arms staring down at the shaken woman who still cowered slightly before him even as she all but begged for his love and a second chance…the feeling of power it gave him was somewhat intoxicating. Yet now he had regained control of himself there was only one question Ethan was interested in having answered.


"Mrs Colby I have a Blake Carrington for you."

Sighing Alexis set down her paperwork and punched the intercom. "I told you to hold my calls Mark and that also includes Blake Carrington." Alexis spat testily.

In truth she had been expecting Blake to call ever since she had stormed out of the house that morning not even pausing for so much of a cup of coffee let alone a bite of breakfast.

In fact Alexis was a little surprised it had taken Blake this long to call. Part of her even was a little hurt, even as she tried to concentrate on catching up on her outstanding work, that her plan to push Blake away for his and her own good was finally working. It seemed no matter how hard she tried to concentrate images of Blake enjoying a leisurely family breakfast with Krystle and Krystina kept invading her thoughts and tying her heart in knots. It was bound to happen in the end so perhaps it was better that it happened sooner rather than later, before Blake had the chance to fully integrate himself into her life and before losing him again would completely destroy her.

"Don't get your knickers in a twist Your Highness." Mark's snappy retort dragged Alexis out of her funk. "And I never said he was on the phone, he's here, in person, and getting rather annoyed at being kept waiting…He said he has an appointment with you."

"Oh." It was all Alexis could think of to say. Blake turning up here was not something she had expected, as despite his assurances that they would deal with this mess together Alexis had taken that to be his male pride rearing its head and not that he was actually serious…not serious enough to turn up at Colby Co.

"So shall I show him in?" Mark prompted her once more and Alexis found her hand automatically flying to her hair to check everything was in place just as the door to her office was barged open and in strode a less than amused Blake Carrington himself.

"No he can show himself in thank you…Good Morning Alexis." Blake added before setting down a paper bag and two cardboard cups of coffee on the edge of Alexis's desk.

"What are you doing here?"

"I told you I was coming in today." Blake added choosing to ignore Alexis's less than warm welcome; instead he leant down and placed a chaste kiss on her cheek before Alexis could jump up from her chair.


"And since you skipped breakfast and barely ate anything at dinner last night I had Mrs Gunnerson pull together a little something before I left the house. It's nothing fancy just a couple of her homemade wholemeal blueberry muffins and I stopped and picked up some coffee from that new coffee place that opened up around the corner. Did you know it's like going into one of those fast food outlets only for coffee? They don't come to the tables you have to stand in line and then there is an insanely large selection of choices. Honestly they looked at me like I was the one insane when I just asked for two coffees!"


"So the young lady behind the desk recommended something called an Americano, I got them to add a splash of milk to yours but I didn't add any sugar as I knew you would prefer to do that yourself."


"Still it was surprisingly busy and there couldn't have been anyone over the age of thirty five in there..."

"Blake!" Alexis all but screamed in frustration watching as Blake's head whipped up from where he was decanting their muffins onto little plates and their coffee into proper cups.

"Yes Darling?" He asked innocently watching as the warning eyebrow twitch gave him notice that he had pushed Alexis close to her limits already.

"I don't recall inviting you here this morning…"

"Ah but Darling I do believe you might recall my telling you, not once but twice that I am going to help you with this Denver Carrington mess, so how else would I do that?"

"Yes and I recall telling you that I could manage it perfectly without your assistance Blake!" This time there was no need for a warning eyebrow twitch the icy tone of Alexis's voice was clear enough.

"So you want me to leave is that it?"

"That sounds like a brilliant idea to me!" Alexis spat back leaning forward in her chair to glare at Blake Carrington, her fury only growing when Blake had the nerve to take the guest chair opposite her and start on his muffin.

"Blake didn't you hear me I want you to leave?"

"No." Blake replied succinctly tearing off a piece of the still warm muffin and placing it in his mouth, leaning back he watched as Alexis's face took on a decidedly angry flush.

"No you didn't hear me or no you won't leave?"

"No I am not going anywhere." Blake replied after swallowing his mouthful of muffin. "Now darling please sit down and eat some breakfast, Mrs Gunnerson made them especially…"

"Damn you and damn your bloody muffin." Alexis hissed rising to her feet and grabbing the muffin Blake had placed before her before shirking it at Blake's head.

Yet then infuriating man had the nerve to duck out the way and then to stare up at her sadly, turning those damn dark eyes on her and lowering his voice. "I am only here because I love you Alexis, it is not a criticism or passing judgement that you can't deal with this Denver Carrington mess…"

"Oh really…" Alexis drawled sarcastically.

"Yes really." Blake replied keeping his tone soft and unthreatening. "Just because you can cope alone doesn't mean you have to. I love you and I want to help, let me."

Groping for a cutting reply that just wouldn't come Alexis settled for only other option, avoidance. She grasped her cigarette case and paced angrily to the window. Finally lighting the damn cigarette on the second attempt she took a deep lungful of calming smoke.

"You know how much I wish you wouldn't do that…" Blake's voice was sad and yet resigned and Alexis tried to ignore the way his disappointment tugged on her already aching heart strings.

"I am not quitting smoking for you Blake." Alexis retorted testily, watching warily in the reflected glass as Blake rose from his seat and approached her.

"I am not talking about the smoking, although I must admit I would prefer it if you at least cut down. They aren't good for you Alexis and besides I much prefer tasting you when we kiss and not your cigarette." Blake cautioned taking it as half a battle won when Alexis didn't immediately flee as he stood behind her and wrapped his arms loosely around her waist.

Resting his cheek against hers Blake could feel the tension running through Alexis's body, she was like a frightened deer girding herself to flee. "I meant that I wish you would stop pushing me away, it's like you are testing me all the time Alexis and judging me on things I can't even begin to understand. I can only hope that by being here I can prove that I really do love you and I will have your back in whatever life throws at us."

Scoffing Alexis shrugged aside Blake's embrace, stalking back to her desk to stab out her barely smoked cigarette in the crystal ashtray that sat on the edge of her desk. "That is most entertaining Blake, tell me did you come up with that pep talk on the way over here or did you ring up that old football coach of yours for some advice."

"I mean every word…"

"No." Alexis countered whirling around pointing her finger accusingly in Blake's direction. "You meant every word last night when you were raking me over the coals, that was the real Blake Carrington…"

"They are both real." Blake insisted. "Dammit woman yes I was angry last night and I was probably a little harsh but I've calmed down now and the thing that matters is not what happened in the past but how we deal with it now. We can't go back and change things and my lecturing you about it won't accomplish any good so let's draw a line under it and move on. I am here because I want to help and I am going to help but it would be a hell of a lot easier to do so without you throwing up roadblocks every time we hit a bump."


"Yes you." Blake snapped at Alexis's faux innocent expression. "I know you Alexis and you seem to be doing your damnedest to either make me mad or push me away. Well it won't work. I think after every vile thing one or other of us has put the other through over the years we have just about pushed the limits and it hasn't made a damn difference. I still love you despite all your faults and mistakes…No dammit I actually think I love you more because of them!"

"Now I know you are delusional." Alexis retorted her eyebrows raised in disbelief. "Or have you been drinking this morning?"

"Stop it Alexis it won't work, insult me all you want I am not leaving."

"That doesn't stop me from leaving." Alexis countered unable to complete squash the nervous tone in her voice as Blake crept closer. "I could walk right out of that door, or I could call security to come and remove you…"

"You could but you won't." Blake finished for her, finally close enough to reach out and pull Alexis's unresisting figure back into his arms. "Because you love me and deep down underneath all the fear you want me here."

"You're very sure of yourself Mr Carrington." Alexis bit back but this time there was a hint of amusement in her tone and playing about her emerald green eyes.

"Maybe but I also know that even if you had me dragged out of here I would be back just as quick." Reaching up Blake brushed his fingers across her cheek. "I tried living without you Alexis and I can never go back there, so I am afraid you are stuck with me…at the office…as a squatting houseguest...I need you in my life."

"Oh and I suppose I have no choice in the matter?" Alexis retorted her tone finally lightening to teasing as the warmth from Blake's body and the depth of the love in his eyes began to thaw out the ice that had slowly been growing over her heart. In the light of day and with Blake by her side her night terrors and fears seemed so distant, perhaps they could make it work after all?

"No Darling I'm afraid you don't." Blake answered simply smiling at Alexis's faux irritation, leaning down he pressed the sweetest of kisses to her mouth before adding. "I'm sorry Alexis but you are just going to have to find a way to live with it."

Stepping off the elevator Marin forced herself to smile politely at the other hotel guests, suppressing the wince that threatened as she turned right and twisted her back a little. Pushing aside the pain, after all it really wasn't that bad all she needed was a couple of painkillers and to remember to lie on her stomach tonight when she went to bed. Ethan had at least apologised for his outburst and Marin had to admit it was hardly his fault he had overreacted, he clearly didn't know his own strength and he hadn't intended to hurt her Ethan had insisted and he had seemed so sincere that Marin had no reason to doubt him.

It wasn't his fault after all, he had been used badly by Dex just as she had been herself and the thought of Ethan getting into difficulties because of Dex made Marin's blood boil…Was it too much to ask for her brother to act responsible for once?

Knowing Dex he had probably allowed that woman to influence him, had fallen back into her arms and allowed that selfish bitch to ruin not only his future and Jack's but unknowingly Marin's as well. Well not if Marin had any say about it, Alexis Colby would rue the day she ever heard the name Dexter!

With that thought in mind Marin stormed as fast she could down the corridor to the Dexter suite. Retrieving her key to the communal living room Marin quickly opened the door, determined to catch Alexis red-handed this time. So when she stepped inside and caught sight of a very different Colby woman seated in the couch cuddling Jack Marin actually stopped dead in the doorway in shock.

However her arrival didn't go unnoticed for long and it was if her nephew had a built in response whenever she came within ten feet of him. Jack's face puckered in tears and he began to scream loudly pointing towards the door where Marin stood in stunned silence.

"Oh I didn't see you there…It's Marin isn't it? We met at the art exhibition at the university…I'm Fallon Carrington Colby…"

Frowning slightly at the flushed almost breathy way Fallon Colby stumbled over her own name and hurriedly got to her feet hand outstretched for Marin to shake, leaving Marin no choice but to accept. Yet she dropped the handshake as soon as it was no longer rude, before discretely wiping her palm against her skirt; after all the Colby curse could be catching.

The morality was certainly genetic as it seemed Fallon shared her mother's predilection for showing flesh, that blouse was barely fastened and Fallon Colby had certainly earned her bed hopping reputation.

"I wasn't aware that babysitting was among the hotel manager's responsibilities. My it must keep you very busy…" Marin drawled her dark eyes narrowing in suspicion as Fallon Colby's fair complexion seemed to flush and the Carrington princess suddenly found Jack far more interesting.

"I was just doing Dex a favour. He was running late…"

"So you just happened to be passing by and offered to help? My you are a Good Samaritan; nothing short of cold hard cash could get me to look after that screaming monster again." Marin quipped her suspicions confirmed as Fallon seemed even more flustered.

"Well teething can be difficult and I was only meant to be here until the babysitter arrived still now you're here…" Fallon countered handing the screaming squirming Jack over to a less than thrilled Marin.

"I've changed him and he's had a bottle." Fallon added unable to help the smile that tugged at her lips as Marin practically held the baby at arm's length. "I'm sure Dex won't be long and I can have reception check on that babysitter for you."

"Yeah whatever." Marin retorted her irritation growing as Fallon had the nerve to enjoy her discomfort. "You do that."

"Well it was nice to see you again." Fallon added politely, even if it was a transparent lie to them both.

"It's been enlightening." Marin countered smirking as her comment made Fallon squirm on her heels and all but race for the door.

The moment the door shut behind Fallon Marin wasted not a second depositing a screaming Jack onto the floor and kicking off her heels. Surprised by the sudden change of perspective Jack actually stopped crying and blinked his tear stained eyes. Relieved that the terrible noise had at least stopped for the moment Marin set off to investigate.

Stalking into her brother's room she wasn't surprised to find the bed unmade. Yet to find only one side disturbed when she had expected to either find the bed completely demolished or hastily remade, undermined her suspicions. Still something here didn't add up.

Why was Fallon Colby here? Marin didn't buy the just passing by for one second.

True Fallon did manage the hotel and might have a valid reason to be on this floor but that didn't change the fact that Marin had always picked up the vibe that Fallon and Dex didn't always get along. That far from being a supporter of Dex and Alexis's relationship Fallon had been a rather vocal supporter of her parents reconciliation….something that Marin could almost approve of if it meant Alexis Colby got her damn claws out of the Dexter family and went off to ruin someone else's life for a change!

That Dex would willingly leave Jack with someone who was hostile to him…that Fallon would even agree even if Dex was desperate enough to do it…No something didn't add up here.

It certainly didn't make sense that if Dex had Fallon to babysit why hadn't he turned up on time for his meeting, five or even ten minutes wouldn't have mattered. However according to Ethan Mr Dursley had sat and waited for Dex for over half an hour, before his temper got the better of him and he had stormed off out for Ethan's blood.

What had held Dex up for that long?

He couldn't have overslept for something this important surely?

Finding no answers in the bedroom Marin stalked angrily back into the living room, her mind and feelings a whirling dervish. She couldn't go back to Ethan with no explanation, not after she had promised to find out the truth for him and Ethan loathed being lied to…

The prickles of hair stood up on the back of Marin's neck as she couldn't help but recall the terrifying expression on Ethan's face as he cornered her in the shower…for a moment she had actually been afraid of him. However then Ethan had calmed down and apologised for his behaviour and Marin had decided to put it behind them, after all everyone was entitled to lose their temper once in a while…

Yet if she went back to Ethan with vague suspicions but nothing concrete to base them on he was not going to be happy…he might lose his temper again…shivering Marin decided it was probably better for everyone if Ethan was not given any more reasons to lose his temper.

Marin was so lost in her own thoughts that it took a few minutes for the unusual noise to even register; it was like a wheeze and then a choke…

Glancing down Marin actually her heart stop for a moment, Jack was red in the face but he wasn't crying…He wasn't making any noise at all apart from…a dry wheeze.

He wasn't breathing properly…

Picking up the baby Marin acted on instinct turning him over and slapping his back hard…If he was choking perhaps she could dislodge it.

It didn't work and she tried again…this time feeling panic grip her and cause her hands to shake. So she struck him harder and nothing.

Reaching for the phone Marin dialled reception. Not waiting for the receptionist to speak she all but screamed down. "I'm in suite 204 my nephew has swallowed something and he can't breathe I need help….I don't know what to do."

"I'll send the hotel doctor up to you and call an ambulance…try slapping his back."

"I tried that already!" Marin screamed back yet she continued to try, her fears only growing as Jack grew limp in her arms. "It's not working."

The next few minutes felt like hours, Marin tried slapping Jack's back until suddenly something seemed to give and he took a breath and then another. Crying in relief as nephew started to breathe again and then started awake immediately beginning crying, yet Marin couldn't have cared if he drooled snot all down her blouse as she cuddled him close.

He could have died and it would have been all her fault, she had left him alone and on the floor without a second thought. True she may not enjoy having a baby around keeping her awake and giving her migraines but that didn't mean she wanted any harm to come to him. He was family after all.

Then suddenly there was banging at the door and Marin rose to answer it, gladly handing over the screaming baby to the very relieved looking hotel doctor.

"You got it loose then. Still I'd better give him the once over, do you have a changing mat?"

"Yes it's in the bedroom." Marin replied all but sinking back down onto the sofa with exhaustion and relief as the far more competent doctor took the problem out of her hands. It was only as she allowed the panic to subside and calm herself down that she spotted it. Sitting innocently on the top of glass coffee table surrounded by a liberal amount of baby spit…a button…a shirt button that was what Jack had been choking on.

Standing up Marin couldn't help but look and when she found one it was easy to find others, two more were scattered on the floor and then the real prize. Unlike the others this one was larger and fancier, red with a thin black edging. Just like the ones on Fallon Colby's blouse or more to the point the one missing from Fallon Colby's blouse...

Smirking Marin placed the incriminating evidence in her pocket. Dex and Fallon Colby…Ethan would certainly want to hear about this. However as she ran her finger over the button Marin found herself faced with an impossible choice...her lover or her brother?

"Where the hell is Jeff?"

It was a valid question and Alexis had to admit Blake certainly had a point. Even if the captain of the helm way he jumped in and assumed control of the situation both amused and irritated her in equal measure. He certainly had the Denver Carrington secretaries shaking in their dime store stiletto's, clearly this was a side they were not used to seeing of the benevolent Blake Carrington.

Yet Alexis knew the grandfatherly persona he preferred to present was the real illusion…the man underneath was far more ruthless particularly when it came to defending his own and despite the fact that it was her name on those shares Blake still very much viewed Denver Carrington as his own. Knowing Blake the way she did Alexis knew the man would go to his grave still trying to run Denver Carrington despite whichever of their children eventually assumed control.

Still Alexis could understand Blake's frustration.

After all they had battled their way through the gathering packs of paparazzi both at Colby Co and then again when they arrived at Denver Carrington. That in itself had been an unsettling experience…these packs of reporters crowding in shouting their questions had been unsettling and Alexis had found herself glad of Blake then….his strong hand at her back as the company security tried to reach them and secure a safe path into the building.

That little weasel Gordon Wales had been there, his ever present tape recorder in his hand as he practically shoved it under her nose.

"So Mrs Colby who is next or your hit list…Not Mr Carrington it seems…" Gordon Wales added with a suggestive glint his keen eyes taking in the physical closeness of the two magnates which was close even despite the crush.

"How about Frank Dobson? Word has it you kicked him off of the Colby Co board?"

"No Comment!" Blake retorted furiously on her behalf and Alexis was more than a little relieved when the security guards managed to push back the press to give them a little more breathing room.

"Well then perhaps something closer home then…perhaps Mr Carrington you'd be happier enlightening the public about your relationship instead. I mean you are obviously back together, after that touching scene at your daughter's funeral." Gordon added a dark spark of glee entering his normally sarcastic expression.

"In fact I am surprised to see you up and about Mr Carrington you had us all worried collapsing like that…So either Denver Memorial is performing miracles these days or was it a stay in Mrs Colby's bed which has miraculous restorative properties?"

For a moment Blake had looked ready to wipe that suggestive leer off of Gordon Wales face, and as much as Alexis would have loved to have seen that slime beaten into submission by a man twenty plus years his senior, she was relieved when the staff got them inside before the Carrington family could generate yet more unflattering headlines.

Still on reaching the relative sanctuary of Denver Carrington armed with a provisional strategy for dealing with the press sketched out the last thing either of them had expected was to find the CEO's office empty. Then to make matters worse and test Blake's patience further the secretaries at Denver Carrington apparently had no idea where Jeff was or when he was likely to return.

"I cannot believe Jeff would be this irresponsible." Blake muttered his brow drawn together in a frown as he paced back and forward behind what was once his desk in his office before turning back to Alexis.

"He didn't leave you a message to tell you where he was going?"

"Oh do not turn this around on me Detective Carrington." Alexis snapped when Blake continued to scowl at her. "I have been a little too busy to play social secretary to Jeff. Besides you're the one who lives in the same house as him…surely you must have noticed he was missing?"

Sighing Blake ran his hands through his silver grey hair before striding over to join Alexis and leaning against the window. "I have been more than a little busy myself Alexis and I've barely been at the mansion over the last few days…"

"Oh which I suppose is my fault?" Alexis added brusquely her emerald eyes narrowing as Blake at least had the sense to look a little contrite.

"No one is talking about assigning blame." Blake began placatingly only for Alexis to huff and half turn away from him.

"Darling I didn't mean…."

"I told you don't darling me Blake Carrington!" Alexis retorted cattily, maintaining her frosty exterior as Blake sidled up behind her and began to rub her back. "And don't think that is going to work this time either!"

"I was wrong and I'm sorry you're right Jeff kept this from both of us for some reason and rather than wondering what we could have done differently we need to focus on what we can now instead." Blake tried instead, wrapping his arms snugly around Alexis's waist and leaning down to rest his chin on her shoulder.

"I would think that is obvious we proceed as planned without Jeff so that means we need to call a press conference…I will just have to lead it instead of Jeff…"

"I know but Alexis are you sure you are up to that?" Blake had to ask even as he felt Alexis tense in his arms.

"Darling don't misunderstand me, normally I wouldn't even ask but after everything you have been through lately…To have that pack of animals asking questions and demanding answers…And I couldn't help but notice downstairs when we arrived…Alexis I could feel you trembling."

"I was cold it's been far cooler this year and I should have worn my fur, that is all there was to it. I am perfectly fine to deal with Gordon Wales and his ilk Blake!"

"Well if you are sure…" Blake began only to have his sentence cut off as the doors to the office opened.

For a moment he hoped it was Jeff suddenly returned but then another far too familiar and equally unwelcome appeared and Blake felt his stomach turn in disgust and it appeared the feeling was more than mutual as the interlopers lips curled in disgust on spotting Blake at Alexis's side.

"Dobson what the hell are you doing here?"

For a moment Frank Dobson seemed to swill his answer around in his mouth before finally replying, disdain dripping from his every word.

"I don't recall needing to answer to you Carrington about anything. I am here to see Alexis not some dried up old has been."

"Whatever you can say to Alexis you can say to me!" Blake argued hotly his temper getting the better of him as he clenched his fist and imagined punching the former convict back down into the dirt where he belonged.

"Why don't we let the lady in question decide that herself?" Dobson questioned mockingly, tilting his head and locking his unflinching steel grey eyes on Alexis.

"Unless of course you are now speaking for her in business matters as well as personal?" He added his eyes flicking down to their loose but still intimate embrace a sneer of disgust playing about his lips. "Honestly Alexis I admit I thought Dexter was a mistake but falling back into Carrington's arms…"

"I am not interested in your opinion Mr Dobson and I cannot imagine why you would think it would matter in the slightest." Alexis cut in her emerald eyes narrowing even as she stepped out of Blake's arms and up to the desk.

"Now did you actually want something or should I call security now to come and have you removed?"

"I would imagine by now you're the one who is wanting something Alexis…other than a better choice in partners that is." Frank added his grey eyes flicking to Blake Carrington who looked fit to burst a blood vessel at being so easily dismissed from conversation.

"Mr Dobson…" Alexis prompted reaching for the receiver her manicured nail hovering above the intercom button.

"I was just paying you the courtesy of letting you know now before it became public knowledge…The Denver Carrington Board are calling an extraordinary meeting to call you and Jeff Colby to account for your actions in Australia for this Friday."

Tight lipped Alexis refused to allow her dismay to show on her face, she should have been expecting this, with the board hung between her supporters and those paid off by the Davenports it was only a matter of time. Still she had hoped to at least contain some of the damage before the board waded in demanding answers she couldn't or more the point wouldn't give. Even if she was pretty certain she was safe from actual prosecution the board wasn't dependant on needing proof and with yet another trial by press Alexis wasn't certain her luck or more the point her supporters would hold through this latest firestorm.

"Well then you've delivered your message like a good little errand boy I am sure your masters have other places for you to be." Alexis drawled watching with satisfaction as Frank flinched almost imperceptible but used to seeing through masks Alexis caught it and her smile grew. At least she still had her razor sharp wit if nothing else.

Yet as Frank Dobson turned and on his heel and stalked off angrily out of the office, slamming the door behind him for good measure, Alexis could only hope all of her other adversaries would be so easy to silence.

He was a beautiful baby and staring down at the sleeping child nestled contentedly in her arms Krystle Carrington felt a heart give a lurch. Now up close and a couple of days old and with the redness from birth faded a little it was possible to study his features a little more closely. There was certainly more than a little of Blake in this little boy's face and for a moment it was almost possible to see a child that might have been….the baby that had been lost…no not lost…taken so cruelly due to the jealousy of one woman who couldn't bear the thought of Blake having a child with anyone else.

Oh Blake might like to pretend that it had been an accident that Alexis had fired the shot that caused Krystle's horse to bolt, that she hadn't done it deliberately but had then chosen to lie about being out shooting to avoid being blamed for the accident. Only Krystle knew it had been no accident, knew deep in her bones that Alexis had done it deliberately.

All to keep her from giving Blake a child because Alexis couldn't bear the idea of Krystle and Blake sharing that kind of a bond…the very bond that Alexis had always bragged would always keep Blake and her connected and Alexis hadn't been wrong in that. The children had certainly kept Alexis tethered to Blake like some terrible sort of weight around his neck, always there interfering and meddling in their lives.

Krystle could still recall the unmistakable look of jealousy on Alexis's face when Krystle had smugly announced her second pregnancy to her rival at LB's birthday party, if looks could have killed Krystle would have dropped dead on the spot. Still Krystle had survived Alexis's rage but her rival had gotten her revenge eventually, Alexis now had Blake back in her claws and had somehow managed to win Krystina's affections as well.

Krystle wasn't sure she could take another weekend like this last one. First that disastrous dinner when Blake had sprung Alexis on the family and Krystle had to watch that woman interacting and smiling at Krystina like she was her daughter. Yet as bad as that dinner had been it was nothing compared to what the weekend had left in store for her.

Just why did Krystina have to pick now to start being a difficult child? The only possible reason had to be Alexis…every time that woman pushed herself back into Krystle's life she caused yet more damage and now Alexis was interfering with her relationship with Krystina.

Just thinking about breakfast only a few hours ago caused Krystle's normally calm and serene temperament to spike and prickle with anger…

"….But Daddy promised!….Mummy you remember he promised at dinner…"

"Krystina I know your father promised to take you riding yesterday but that was before Jess went and had her baby, then we were at the hotel all night so your daddy was probably too tired and besides you have to go to school today."

"Why? Danny doesn't!" Krystina pouted pushing her breakfast around her bowl as she scowled down at the healthy breakfast of unsweetened cereal and fruit her mother had insisted on, only allowing her one tiny pancake and hardly any syrup. Danny even got to eat his breakfast in his room; he probably had gotten as many pancakes as he wanted.

"Danny has been suspended he is not on holiday, he will not be doing anything fun." Krystle reminded her daughter, unable to hide her scowl as Krystina's attitude grated on her already shredded nerves…something not helped by the tight feeling behind her eyes that had dogged her since waking this morning.

Still Krystle could understand her daughter's disappointment; Blake had let her down once more. Only this time Krystle suspected it wasn't business that was keeping Blake from his obligations as a father, and when Krystle caught up with him Blake Carrington was going to get a stark reminder of the facts from her.

"Besides I am sure your Father will make it up to you. Why don't you ask him when he comes down?"

"I can't do that." Krystina remarked tartly her blue eyes narrowing on her mother who squirmed uncomfortably. "Daddy hasn't been there since yesterday!"

"Krystina how do you know your Father…"

"Because the suit he wore to dinner was still lying on the bed when I checked this morning and his bed hadn't been slept in so Daddy can't be here…I am not stupid Mommy." Krystina answered sharply her disrespectful tone too much for even Krystle to tolerate.

"That is enough Krystina, I understand you are upset but that is no reason to talk to me like this!"

"But …"

"Krystina stop it…just eat your breakfast." Krystle added as she rubbed her aching forehead, unable to completely quell the flicker of worry that sprang up that this might be more than just a simple headache, before she quickly squashed that fear back down.

No it was just a headache, the medication was working, was it any wonder she had headache with the stress she was currently under?

"No I don't like it!" Krystina retorted, dropping her spoon back into her bowl, not caring when it splashed milk all over the tablecloth.

"Krystina look at the mess you just made!" Krystle admonished her daughter her concern growing when instead of being suitably chastened her daughter merely shrugged her shoulders, reminiscent of another spoilt Carrington daughter Krystle remembered.

"It's just milk." Krystina replied coolly. "Jeanette or one of the other staff will clear it up."

"Krystina Carrington….." Krystle began her blue eyes flashing as she fought to control her temper. "You will clean it…."


Krystina's excited squeal cut Krystle off mid rebuke and Krystle could only stare mutely as Krystina jumped up from her seat at the table and rushed to greet her father who gladly scooped his darling little daughter up into his arms.

"Well hello there Princess." Blake greeted his daughter affectionately ruffling her long blonde hair as Krystina kissed his cheek.

"Daddy where have you been, you promised to take me riding remember?" Krystina demanded her blue eyes narrowing down on her father who squirmed uncomfortably under her scrutiny.

"I know Princess I'm sorry I was busy but perhaps I can pick you up from school today instead and then we can go riding?"

"Could you drop me at school as well?" Krystina's excitement was palpable. Able to imagine the looks on her friend's faces when she pulled up in her father's limousine instead of the ugly boring station wagon her mother preferred to drive, at least it was a Mercedes but everyone at school had one of those, not everyone had a limousine!

"Well I suppose but I do have to quickly shower and change."

"And then Krystina will be late for school!" Krystle cut in finally finding her voice as she scowled across at the scene in front of her. Just a few minutes before Krystina had been upset with her father and suddenly now he was here all was forgiven and Krystina was all smiles again whereas Krystle couldn't seem to do anything right!

"Oh well then…." Blake began only to be cut off by his daughter

"Please take me Daddy I've missed you!"

"And I've missed you to Princess." Blake replied guilt warring with concern. "Well I suppose if I am very quick then you won't be more than a few minutes late and that can't hurt anything..."

"Blake…" Krystle began warningly yet Krystina's excited squeal as she flung her arms around her father's neck put paid to any counter argument.

"Thank you….Thank you Daddy! I'll go get my bag and wait in the car Daddy!" Krystina added before her mother could ruin everything, barely waiting until her father had set her back down before bounding out of the room, leaving behind her half eaten breakfast and the mess she had made before her mother could rebuke her further.

Clearly Blake had the same idea and Krystle practically had to stalk him up the staircase. "Blake…Blake!"

"Not now Krystle I am in a hurry you said yourself Krystina will be late and you wouldn't want her to miss too much school!" Blake called back over his shoulder as he pushed open the door to his bedroom.

"She wouldn't be missing any school if you weren't trying to assuage your guilt about neglecting your daughter in favour of that….woman…." Krystle spat, not caring that Blake was retreating back to the sanctuary of his bedroom…the bedroom they once used to share.

"That woman happens to be the woman I love Krystle and she has a name." Blake countered his eyes narrowing clearly uncomfortable with having Krystle in his bedroom but unwilling to make a scene about it as he moved to rummage in his wardrobe for an appropriate suit.

"Yes I am unfortunately aware of that Blake." Krystle spat back, frowning in slight confusion as Blake pulled a suit out his extensive wardrobe…

Yet Blake hadn't worn a suit, well apart from Amanda's funeral, since he had been forced out of Denver Carrington. He certainly hadn't needed to wear a suit to work in the library and since he and Dex hadn't yet sorted out any offices yet…

The question was tripping off of her tongue before she could stop herself. "Where are you going today?"

Sighing loudly Blake laid out one of his favourite suits, the dark grey with a light grey pinstripe out on the bed before quickly finding a light blue shirt and darker blue tie that would complement and adding them to the growing pile.

"Not that it is any of your business Krystle but I am off to Colby Co…"

"Colby Co?" Krystle spluttered her sapphire blue eyes narrowing accusingly. "So what are you Alexis's lackey at work as well now?"

"What I am doing at Colby Co is my business, now if you don't mind Krystle would you please leave?" And this time there was no mistaking the warning tone in Blake's voice or the way his gaze turned foreboding and unaccustomed to having that gaze turned on her Krystle shrunk back as if slapped.

Then since Blake clearly didn't want her and Krystina preferred to spend time with her father Krystle had rushed off to the only other place she felt wanted and needed. Now sitting in Jess's room cradling her darling little boy Krystle could try and calm her tumultuous feelings.

There was just something so grounding about holding a little baby…the world seemed so much brighter, so full of possibilities.

It had been so long since Krystina had been this little and had been completely dependent upon her as her mother for love and protection. Her little girl was growing up so fast and part of Krystle couldn't help but wish she would stop, that she could be her little girl forever and not this wilful spoilt creature that seemed to be emerging despite Krystle's best efforts.

Still as much as she wished he was, this baby wasn't really hers to fuss over. Glancing up at the unusually quiet Jess Krystle shot the younger woman an encouraging smile. "So have you decided on a name yet?"

"No…I just can't seem to think of anything…Nothing that seems to suit him." Jess answered softly as her own blue eyes flickered over her son before she shifted uncomfortably as the baby began to fuss and cry in Krystle's arms before shifting her gaze to the window.

"Oh well I am sure something will come to you." Krystle replied politely squashing down her own surprise as the baby began to cry and Jess didn't offer to take him.

Perhaps the poor thing was just so overwhelmed?

After all she was a young new mother and so Krystle resolved to do what she could to help, doing her best to sooth the small baby whose cries seemed to upset his mother.

That Jess didn't even seem to have any ideas for her son's name worried Krystle yet it was probably because the poor girl had thought she had plenty of time. After all until Krystina had actually been born Krystle had herself decided on the name Helen only to change her mind later on.

The soft knocking on the door drew Krystle back to the present and she smiled in relief as the door opened to reveal one of the nurse's, bottle in hand.

"I think the little one is ready for this…" The nurse spoke with a smile as she turned to her young charge. "Here you go Jess it's the right temperature." The nurse added handing the bottle over to Jess who took it with a shy half smile but made no move to reach for her son.

"Well then you'd better have this little man back then." Krystle added to cover the awkwardness, handing the grizzling baby back to his mother who handled him awkwardly, her relief palpable when the bottle managed to silence his cries.

The poor girl was so out of her depth it tugged at Krystle's heart strings. She needed help and right then and there Krystle resolved to do whatever it took to help. Jess was family after all, even if Krystle was the only one who knew it. The poor girl had suffered so much already and she had no mother to help her….

That the fact it would mean the baby would also be around was simply an additional benefit.

"You don't have to do this now."

Fiddling with her hair Alexis reached into her Dior purse for her compact, cursing when she accidentally pulled out her cigarette case instead. Setting it aside on the desktop Alexis rummaged some more before pulling it out. Flipping it open Alexis checked her reflection, removing the pad Alexis dabbed a little powder on her nose and then her chin and along her jaw line.

There now she looked ready to face the world….or more to the point the vultures of the Denver media. If only she felt as a ready as she looked, and Blake asking her if she was alright and reminding her she didn't have to do this every few minutes wasn't helping matters.

"I do and we both know it." Alexis retorted curtly, punctuating her remark by snapping her compact shut and turning to face Blake as she tugged on the bottom of her suit jacket. The red should look good on camera; even if yellow was a more photogenic colour and the red made her look a little pale for Alexis's tastes.

Perhaps going away this weekend was still a good idea, there was no way Blake was going to drop it and it was for his birthday.

Besides Alexis didn't exactly loath the idea of getting out of Denver for a while. Not now the press would be dogging her every move. They probably already had the entrances to Colby Acres staked out by now. Blake wouldn't be able to visit or she wouldn't be able to go anywhere in Denver without the press harassing her. And god knows after the extraordinary DC board meeting was over one way or another Alexis would need to recuperate somewhere peaceful.

"Alexis did you hear me?"

"Of course Darling." Alexis replied forcing a smile onto her face even as Blake frowned over his spectacles at her from his seat across the desk.

"Then what did I say?"

"You told me yet again I didn't have to do this now Blake only we both know that I do…"

"Yes and then what did I say?" Blake replied setting down the papers he had been reading to give Alexis his full attention.

"You….said….Fine…" Alexis huffed stuffing her compact and cigarette case back into her purse and snapping it closed. "I admit I wasn't really listening…honestly Blake I have enough on my mind right now you can't expect me to pay attention to every little thing you say."

"I said." Blake replied his concern mounting as Alexis's unusual distractedness merely convinced him how not ready she was for this press conference. "You look beautiful so stop fussing."

"I look like a wreck." Alexis retorted sharply yet she couldn't completely smother her smile.

"If this is you looking like a wreck then I would hate to see you on a really bad day." Blake tutted shaking his head as he took off his glasses and folded them up before slipping them into his breast pocket.

Easing his old bones out of his chair Blake checked his watch. They only had a few more minutes and Blake couldn't shake the bad feeling he had about this but Alexis was nothing if not stubborn and Blake knew it was next to impossible to change her mind when she had made it up.

"Well then shall we?" Blake added offering Alexis his arm, relieved when she took him up on it, at least if something did go wrong Blake could be there to offer support.

"Mrs Colby….Mrs Colby….Nick Parker Denver Chronicle…"

Nodding Alexis made a fist, her nails digging into the soft inside of her palm, the room was heaving there was certainly more than just local press here. There were even television cameras and Alexis felt her nerves bubble up causing her voice to sound throatier than usual. She had already delivered the prepared statement to the press naturally denying the accusations made in the press but now came the part Alexis had been dreading….throwing the floor open to questions from the press.

"Yes Mr Parker."

"Mrs Colby you have given a statement denying the accusations levelled at yourself by the Australian press however there is no denying that you did meet Senator Roberts whilst you were in Australia, can you tell me was the relationship between the two of you cordial?…just how close did you get to the late Senator Mrs Colby?"

"The relationship between Senator Roberts and myself was cordial and strictly business, we met only a handful of times during the negotiations…" Alexis paused her eyes narrowing in contempt of the odious reporter who she remembered actual wrote for one of the gossip columns and not the regular news editorial. "There was certainly none of the smut you are obviously angling for Mr Parker."

Then ignoring Mr Parker when he opened his mouth to reply Alexis quickly moved on to the next reporter with their hand up, a smartly attired woman that Alexis vaguely recognised as being from the local news station.

"Mrs Colby you have given us your side of the story but we cannot help but notice the absence of Mr Jeffery Colby at this press conference…Is that a deliberate omission? Can we assume that Mr Colby no longer speaks for Denver Carrington?"

"Mr Colby remains Denver Carrington's CEO he is not here today because of a pressing personal commitment. Next question." Alexis snapped deciding that the woman wasn't that smartly dressed after all…that was definitely a fake Louis Vuitton down at her feet and on closer inspection it became obvious to Alexis's critical eye that her face had suffered from an obvious lift.

"Gordon Wales World Finance Magazine." A familiar sleazy voice called out and Alexis felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickle at the smug knowing look on Mr Wales face.

"Mrs Colby this is not the first time either yourself or Denver Carrington have been accused of corruption. Do you really expect the general public are so gullible as to believe you are entirely blameless in this affair?"

"I have given you my statement as to what happened Mr Wales now…."

"Only you left out a few key facts didn't you Mrs Colby, for example you conveniently forgot to mention that you and Mr Colby were not alone in negotiating with Senator Roberts…in fact I have it on good authority that you hired the services of a consultant whilst you were in Australia."

"Are you planning on asking a question Mr Wales or were you just planning on insinuating something unpleasant?" Alexis retorted yet as she caught sight of the triumphant gleam in Gordon Wales eye Alexis felt her confidence slip, just the mention even in passing of that man was enough to punch a hole in her carefully crafted armour, something that Wales seemed to have either the instinct to grasp or he had been tipped off….

No that was impossible…the only one who knew enough was Ethan himself and…just the thought of Ethan whispering certain secrets in Gordon Wales ear was enough to make Alexis's blood run cold and her breath catch in her throat…No it couldn't be true, after all for all his faults Gordon Wales was a good reporter one more than capable of digging up dirt all by himself, the little weasel seemed to have quite the talent for it.

"It is in the public interest to know Mrs Colby just exactly what services this consultant carried out on your behalf….where they professional…or, " Gordon Wales paused dramatically his piggy eyes narrowing as his quarry shifted, "or where they personal as well?"

Swallowing down the bile that jumped to her throat Alexis had to resist the urge to reach out and take a swig from the water glass in front of her, knowing full well that her every movement and reaction was being watched, analysed and dissected.

"Denver Carrington hired a consultant to assist in interpreting the legal complications and pulling together the more than generous compensation package that was accepted by not only Senator Roberts but by the entire committee assigned to oversee the process. That was the extent and limit to their involvement!"

"With Denver Carrington or with yourself Mrs Colby? I understand the two of you spent considerable time together….all alone… " Gordon Wales called out, clearly striking out for blood, something he achieved when Alexis visibly flinched. "Tell me did this consultant of yours agree to blackmail Senator Roberts for money or did you offer him a more personal reward for his efforts?"

Staggering back from the podium as if punched in the gut Alexis could barely stop her head from shaking as she reached out to grasp the edge to try and keep herself on her feet. A moment later she all but sagged as she felt Blake's strong arm wrap around her waist all but holding her up.

A moment later Blake's strong baritone barked out at the assembled press, "No more questions."

"Oh Mr Carrington I am disappointed the public has the right to know what one of their leading citizens deems appropriate behaviour and I would have thought given your relationship with Mrs Colby you would be interested in just how she conducts her business."

"Mrs Colby has delivered Denver Carrington's statement." Blake retorted his dark eyes narrowing in disgust on Gordon Wales smug face. "She deigned to answer additional questions not to listen you sling slander and ridiculous accusations around Mr Wales."

"Oh they aren't as ridiculous as you or Mrs Colby would like us to believe and if Mrs Colby won't tell us the truth then I know someone who will." Gordon Wales pronounced smugly and Blake felt Alexis tense in his arms as the doors to the room suddenly opened as if timed to perfection and in strode a handsome, well-dressed man who Blake would had guessed to be in his mid-forties. Yet it was his eyes that drew Blake, as dark as his own they appeared slightly hooded and dangerous, like a predators and they locked with Blake's for a moment before sweeping across to lock with Alexis's.

Shaking even as Blake's grip on her tightened Alexis felt powerless to move, her horror growing as her worst nightmare seemed to take on flesh and step out in daylight. Then it had the nerve to smirk at her, those familiar and yet unfamiliar dark eyes glinting sadistically.

"Hello Alexis."