Christian's POV

I'm glad the girls have excused themselves from the table. My brother is drinking himself into a drunken idiot. It'll only be a matter of time before he starts slurring his words and acting like a fucking fool. My father and I are sitting with our arms crossed and we're both glaring at him, but it doesn't faze him. I know he is having a hard time with Kate and Ava, but we can't go soft on him now. That's the last thing he needs.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing Elliot!" I scold him.

He holds up a half empty bottle of Coors as if he's about to make a toast. He says nothing. Instead he nods his head and proceeds to further his drunken state. I stop him by grabbing the beer out of his hand and pulling it away. I don't care that some of it has spilled out. I am fuming. And now he is too. "Christian? Fuck!"

"You are done" I say as I slam the beer bottle down on the table. I'm fortunate that there is enough noise in the room now that the speeches are over and the sound of classical music is blaring through the speakers. "No more drinking Elliot. Time to sober up."

"Don't fucking tell me what to do" he says, and his words are already slurring. He leans back in his chair and pouts like a child. I look over at my father and he is still sitting with his arms crossed. He lets out a long sigh, like he is counting in his head, which he did very often when we misbehaved as kids. I've said my piece, and now I want to check on the girls. I excuse myself and move my napkin from my lap to the table as I stand. I fix Elliot with one last glare before I walk away, leaving my parents to deal with him.


Phoebe's POV

I wash my hands and wait for Ava to come out of the stall. Brooke is already waiting outside with Sawyer. When Ava emerges she looks down as she walks to the vanity and washes up. I'm worried about her. I've never seen her like this. She is all dressed up and absolutely gorgeous in her mint green dress, but she is so down. She dries her hands and then makes eye contact with me, but she doesn't smile. "Think my Dad had enough to drink?"

It was a rhetorical question, but I feel the need to say something anyway. "Does he do this often?"

"No, I mean he drinks, but not that much. My Mom would kill him if she saw him like this." There is silence for a few minutes while we fix our makeup. After she applies lipstick her mood changes and she seems agitated. She roughly puts her makeup back into her purse and struggles to shut it. I try to help her but she waves me away, so I back off. "He is such a hypocrite" she snaps harshly. "He makes a big deal about me drinking, and here he is throwing back a dozen in one sitting."

"Ava, you are underage. It's not the same." Whoa. I don't know where that brave moment came from. I never stand up to Ava, but something in me just snapped. I'm upset with her for drinking too. She looks at me and I can tell she is shocked. The moment fades and she goes back to being snappy.

"I still say he's a hypocrite." She walks past me and I follow her out of the restroom. Sawyer and Brooke are both there and they ask us to accompany them to the bar for more drinks. I'm assuming it is to keep us away from the table for a little while longer. I take Ava's arm and pull her in the direction of the bar, and surprisingly she doesn't object.

When we arrive at the bar area, Sawyer inches his way in and orders himself and Brooke some wine and said he would bring some more water back for Ava and me. It is crowded since the speeches have ended. I try to move so I am not in the way, and I clumsily bump into someone that is standing behind me. I instantly feel embarrassed as I turn around to excuse myself, and I am shocked to see who it is that I've bumped into.

He smiles at me, but for some reason I can't adjust my facial expression to match his. What is wrong with me? I am speechless. "Hi Phoebe" he says to me. I am finally able to relax my face and smile back, although it's a shy smile. It's been weeks since I've seen him. He looks so handsome in his tuxedo. This is the second time I've seen him in one. The first time was our Junior Prom. I struggle to speak, he does that to me. This guy has practically seen me naked already and I can't seem to get it together. I try to say "hello" back to him, but words fail me and a nervous sigh just leaves my mouth. He takes my hand and I instantly feel it. The electricity between us is still there. I feel tingly all over at his unexpected touch. It makes me gasp, and he immediately leaves go of my hand and fixes me with a confused look. "Are you okay?"

I nod and smile lightly. "Yes, I'm sorry, I'm just surprised to see you here." There, I finally said something. Maybe there's hope for me yet.

"My father had to go out of town on business, so I'm here as my mother's date. My brother's here too."

"Travis?" I ask, but then immediately feel stupid. Of course, Travis. Both of his parents and his older brother are doctors so it makes sense for them to be here.

"I came with my Dad, my Mom decided to sit this one out." I explain to him.

He nods at me. "Cool. So, do you think your father would mind if I steal you for a dance?"

A dance? He wants to dance with me. I can't help the frown that is forming on my face. He takes my hand again and I gasp. He puts his other hand under my chin and forces me to look at him. "What's wrong?"

I shrug my shoulders and shake my head after he leaves go of my chin. "It's just…. we have some things to talk about." I can't seem to play it cool around him. I've been nervous about seeing him tomorrow, but Dad has kept me so busy with this Ball and getting ready for it, I have managed to push it out of my mind for a while, until now that is. I certainly didn't expect to see him here tonight.

He leaves go of my hand and puts his hands in his pockets. "Yes, we do need to talk. But we can do that tomorrow. Right now, we are in this big extravagant Ballroom, I'm wearing my tux, you are looking absolutely stunning in this dress…" He puts his hands on me again and I just melt. "… let's just enjoy tonight, and then we can talk tomorrow, about anything you want."

I can't say no to him when his hands are on me. In fact I have trouble saying anything at the moment. I look over at Ava for approval since I should really be staying by her side right now. She nods her head toward the dance floor, not only giving me permission but insisting that I go. I look up at Trevor and nod, and then I'm awarded with his adorable smile. He takes my hand and leads me away to the dance floor.


Christian's POV

I don't see the girls or Luke at the restrooms, so I decide to look for them at the bar area. I see them huddled around one of the small bar tables, but Phoebe isn't with them. I push through the patrons to get to them and am pleased that my presence alone interrupts their conversation. I don't even have to say anything to get their attention. That never gets old.

"Where's Phoebe?" I ask them forcefully.

Luke points his glass of wine in the general direction of the dance floor. "She's dancing with Trevor. Don't worry, Jason and Gail are dancing too and keeping an eye on them."

Luke seems so relaxed as he drinks his wine with his girlfriend. He's one of my employees, has been for quite some time. I consider him a friend, like Jason. I don't get to see any of my employees enjoy themselves since they are on the job when they are in my presence. But tonight is an exception. Luke is not on the job tonight, although I am certain that he would step up and protect my family should the need arise. I look at Ava and can tell that she isn't enjoying herself. I have an idea, but I also want Phoebe to be a part of this. I take Ava's hand and have her walk with me to collect Phoebe.

We find Phoebe and Trevor dancing near Jason and Gail. They are smiling and enjoying themselves, but there will be more dancing as the night is still young. I convince Phoebe to take a break from dancing and lead the girls over to the long tables of baskets that patrons have donated for the Chinese auction. They both smile as they see some things that they like. It's a joy to see as I purchase some tickets for them and split them in half. I explain to them what a Chinese auction is and give them the tickets to gamble on the ones that they like. There are baskets of make-up kits and baskets of perfume and bath stuff. They choose them along with some baskets of hot chocolate and cappuccino mixes with big fancy mugs. There are a few baskets of movie themed items such as popcorn and candy. Some have movie tickets and some have DVDs of recent Oscar nominated movies. I of course like the baskets that contain assortments of cheeses, wine and expensive wine glasses. I decide to gamble on a few as well.

When the girls are finished they both thank me with a hug. I wasn't expecting that from either of them, but it definitely warms my heart. I enjoy making them happy. I lead them back to the table to have dessert. I am surprised to find that our table is empty. My parents and Elliot are nowhere in sight. I pull two chairs out for the girls to sit and I take a seat next to Phoebe. A waitress comes by and serves a glass of wine to me and chocolate cake for the girls to share. They prefer it that way. The piece is huge and I don't think they will even finish it between the two of them. There is silence as they enjoy their dessert and we listen to the music that is playing.

I am waiting for the announcement to come. My mother told me earlier today that they have asked an extremely popular band to play at this event, and at first they had to decline due to a conflict. The committee that put this Ball together found out this morning that they were able to work it out. And they were to appear on stage at nine o'clock sharp. I look at my watch and it is eight fifty nine. I smile as I see them take the stage. I see Pat Monahan take the microphone and he immediately greets the crowd. I look at the girls and they aren't paying attention. They must not recognize his voice. When the music starts and he starts singing, it immediately gets the girls' attention. They perk up and look at the stage in shock. I can't help but laugh at their reactions to their favorite band playing live just yards away from them.

"Train!" Phoebe shouts and looks over at me. She is so excited, and so is Ava. I will never tire of seeing these girls happy. They immediately stand and abandon their half-eaten piece of cake. I stand and follow them as they rush to the dance floor to be closer to the stage. Others have also gathered to enjoy the show. Most of them are women of course. They start dancing and singing with the band.

"Hey soul sister, ain't that mister mister on the radio, stereo, the way you move ain't fair you know. Hey soul sister, I don't wanna miss a single thing you do, tonight. Heeey heeeey heeeey"

After the song is over, the crowd cheers and the girls jump up and down. They are so excited. It's definitely a delight to see. I feel myself beaming, even though I had nothing to do with the source of their current happiness. I make a mental note to check to see if Train will be in concert any time soon. I'd like to take them. They'd love it. Before I know it, the band starts to sing another song. I think this one is called Drive By. I look over and see Luke standing behind Brooke with his arm wrapped around her waist. I can tell he is very much in love with her, and she with him. I have to wonder why they've never married. They share a child, and now that we have agreed to lighten his schedule, he gets to go home to her and their son every night. Although it is none of my business, I make a mental note to ask him about it anyway.

After the music has stopped, the patrons are told to find their seats so that they could start pulling tickets for the auction. We return to the table to find that my parents and brother have yet to return. Where could they be? Luke, Brooke, Jason and Gail join us at the table as well. The girls are still giddy as they pick at their cake again. Train is still here and they are calling out the numbers for the auction and handing out the baskets to the winners. I really do hope one or both girls win a basket, just so they could go up to the stage to great the band. That would definitely make their night.

After a few more numbers are called, Pat starts to call the ticket winner for one of the many baskets that have hot chocolate and cappuccino. Phoebe looks at her ticket and I can tell that he has called her number. She is jumping up and down in her seat, and Ava is also excited for. I tell the girls to both go up to the stage to accept the basket, and they happily oblige. I see Jason stand and casually walk in the general direction of the stage to keep an eye on them. I am truly grateful to have such a loyal security team.

When they return they are still bouncy and giddy. I listen as Phoebe tells Ava that they will break open the items in the basket and share the next time they have a sleepover. I look around to see if I spot my brother and my parents, and they are still nowhere in sight. "Where's my Dad?" Ava finally asks.

"I don't know" I answer her, and I watch as she looks around for him. I can tell that she's worried about him. I am so angry with Elliot for doing this to her. I know that Kate had suggested that he and Ava attend this Ball together, spend time together and hopefully work out their issues. Instead, he is making things worse. I sip some more wine and look over at Phoebe. We are slowly working through our issues. We are not there yet, but at least we can handle spending time together. I can handle being nice to her and making sure she has a good time.

After the auction, we decide to hit the dance floor again. Phoebe meets up with Trevor and dances with him again. I'm surprised but happy that she's dancing with him. I know they were having some problems, but I haven't discussed any of that with Phoebe. I had agreed to allow him to come to the house tomorrow so that they could spend time together.

I convince Ava to dance with me. I have to show her where her hands should go and what her feet should be doing in a proper waltz. Nobody's ever taught her. After a few minutes she gets the hang of it and starts to relax. I look around us and see Jason dancing with Gail and Luke dancing with Brooke. I immediately think of Ana. I've enjoyed the time I've spent with Phoebe and Ava tonight, but I miss my wife. I miss holding her and teasing her while we dance. I miss sneaking off with her to do naughty things to her. She assured me that she will make it up to me, and I do plan to collect.

During the next song my parents join us and so does Elliot. He appears to be struggling as he walks over to us and roughly taps me on the shoulder. "Bro, let me cut in" he says. He wants to dance with Ava. I look down at her for a reaction. She looks unsure. I look at my brother and he looks pained. I decide to step aside so that he can dance with Ava. When he takes my place he is anything but graceful, and Ava looks embarrassed.

"Dad, are you okay?" I hear her ask him. He stumbles and I move quickly to catch him before he falls on his ass. Ava looks horrified. I decide that it's time for us all to leave. Taylor and Gail walk ahead of us to get the car, while Dad helps me with Elliot. We each walk on one side of him to prevent him from falling, while Mom and the girls walk ahead of us. We say goodbye to Luke and Brooke. Luke offers to help, but I turn him down and demand that he enjoy the rest of his evening.

Things are quiet once we are settled in the car. Elliot and I each have the window seats in the back of the car while the girls are sitting between us. Elliot is passed out. I notice Phoebe trying to rest her head against the back of the seat and struggling to get comfortable. "Tired?" I ask her softly, and she nods in response. I guide her head over to rest on my arm and am pleased that she doesn't fight me on it. I notice Ava slowly moving and resting her head on Elliot's arm, being careful not to wake him. She keeps her eyes open and stares ahead as we drive toward Escala. I pull out my blackberry and send a quick text to Kate.

Phoebe and Ava are having a sleepover tonight. Pack a bag for her. Be there in 15

Next I send a text to Ana.

The girls are having a sleepover. Have Penny put fresh sheets on Phoebe's bed and make sure there're enough fresh towels in her bathroom

As I finish the text to Ana I get an immediate response from Kate. It makes me scowl.

Tonight's not a good night. Maybe some other time

I immediately respond to my difficult sister-in-law.

Trust me, it is a good night. Pack the bag

I put my blackberry away and watch out my window as we drive through the city. I miss living in the city, but I wouldn't trade my life for anything. I love my wife and kids. I love where we live. I love taking care of and providing for my family and my security team that keeps us safe. When Ana and I decided that we didn't need Escala anymore, I gave it to Kate and Elliot. I wanted to keep it in the family, minus the playroom of course. I cleaned everything out and had that room painted before they moved in.

When we arrive in the parking garage, I move Phoebe's head to the back of her seat and climb out of the car. I open Elliot's door and pull him out with Taylor's help. I instruct Ava to stay in the car and lock the door. I then have one of Elliot's security guards watch the car while Taylor and I practically carry Elliot to the lift. When we arrive in their suite, my angry sister-in-law immediately fixes me with a scowl. She is in her nightgown and robe and she has her arms crossed. She is tapping her foot, but that stops when she sees Elliot.

"What the hell happened?" she asks as she puts her hands on Elliot's face. I try to get her to move out the way so Taylor and I can help Elliot to their bedroom.

"He's drunk, Kate. We need to put him to bed."

After we get Elliot settled, Taylor and I leave and climb back into the car with the girls. Ava looks so confused, and rightfully so.

"Ava, you are staying with us tonight. Your mother has packed a bag for you." I hand over the bag and put my seatbelt on. I instruct her to do the same before we pull away.

Once at home we slowly walk into the house and Ana greets us in the foyer. She is a sight for sore and tired eyes in her sexy nightgown. I put my hands on her hips and greet her with a kiss. "Hi" I say to her before I fix her with a big smile.

"Hi" she says back and also fixes me with a smile of her own. She looks over at the girls. They are so tired. "Why don't you girls get washed up and ready for bed? I'll come up soon and say goodnight."

They do as their told and slowly climb the steps to the second floor. I lean down and wrap my arms around my wife and bury my face in her hair.

"What happened?" she asks me.

"Elliot got drunk" I answer her softly. I don't pull away from her. I need to hold her, like she is my life line. I am pleased when she doesn't let go of me. We just stand in the foyer for a few minutes and hold each other. After a while she is the first to pull away, but we keep our arms around each other. "He got really drunk. I didn't want Ava to be around that, so I brought her back here."

"Kate can't be too happy about that."

"Kate was pissed" I snort. "She can deal with him tonight, we'll deal with him tomorrow." I reach down and kiss my wife's lips. "Let's have them over for lunch tomorrow. Sort this out."

My wife nods in agreement. She then takes my hand and we climb the steps together. My favorite time of day. Time for bed.