The Calm Before the Storm

    Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters in my fan fic!


    Chapter One

    Chloe stared aimlessly out her window, thinking about the events of the past few weeks. It was nearly Christmas. She did not officially take Phillip back as her boyfriend when they got back from the island. She had hung out with Phillip but did not have any romantic feelings left for him. She loved him, but not passionately. There was only one man she could ever love passionately and completely. That man was Brady Black.

    “Brady,” she said, “I am so glad that we are together. I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to realize that you mean so much more to me than a friend. I love you so much.” She used her finger to trace a heart on her window. Then, Chloe sighed. “I just hope that we will always be together. All of my relationships seem to go sour at one point or another. Please don’t let that happen to us!” Chloe prayed.

    Chloe reached for the lamp and turned out the light, dreaming of a perfect future with Brady.

    It was three days later. Chloe was shopping with Belle for a Christmas present for Brady. “This is our first Christmas together, Belle!” Chloe said enthusiastically. “I want to find something really special for Brady.”

    Belle smiled. “I know. We are on a mission, Chloe Lane! Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to find a present that will make Brady ecstatic!”

    Chloe grinned at Belle, excited about the prospect of seeing Brady ecstatic. “I don’t really have an idea right now for a present but I’ll know what I want when I see it.”

    Belle said, “I hope you don’t mind if we detour from the mission.” Belle pointed at the window in a store at Salem Place. “Look at that gorgeous dress! It would be perfect for the Christmas Ball being held at Tuscany. Let’s go look at it!”

    Both girls oohed and awed over the dresses in the store. Of course, they couldn’t resist trying a few on them on. After trying them on, never could resist the temptation to buy one for the ball.

    Belle and Chloe were laughing as they exited the store, loaded down with bags. “Oh my gosh,” Belle exclaimed, looking at her watch, “I’m supposed to meet Shawn at .Dotcom, like, fifteen minutes ago! I’ve got to go!”

    Chloe smiled at Belle and said, “Belle, Shawn is used to your tardiness by now. He probably just got there himself.”

    “Would you take my bags home with you, Chloe? I don’t want Shawn to see my dress before the ball. I’ll pick it up later,” Belle said quickly as she turned to go. Three feet from Chloe, Belle stopped and ran back to Chloe. “Our mission, Chloe! I completely forgot it! We need to find Brady a present!”

    “Go, Belle,” Chloe smiled at her friend’s perkiness. “We can shop anytime but Shawn’s waiting for you! I’ll just walk home.”

    Chloe waved to her friend as Belle walked away. She turned and started down the sidewalk, enjoying the brisk, cool wind. Chloe loved how the snow sparkled on the ground. She smiled to herself as she thought about Brady. She was so engrossed in her thoughts that Chloe wasn’t aware that she was being watched, and then followed. Chloe continued on her way home. When she reached her house, Chloe opened the door. She got an uneasy feeling and looked around her. She frowned slightly as she took one last look, walked through the door, and closed it.

    “I’ve spotted her,” the man said into his cell phone. “She just went into her house. I’ll keep tailing her until you tell me what to do.” A silence for a few minutes as the man listened to the other end. “Yeah, I’ll do that tomorrow.” He turned the phone off, looked at the Wesley’s house, and thought about the next stage in the plan.

    Chapter Two

    The next day, Chloe walked out of Salem High amidst a steady stream of high school students. She ignored the loud crowd around her, and focused on the parking lot. The frown left her face when she saw the hip, happening vehicle that was waiting for her.

    Brady leaned against his jeep, looking at the most beautiful girl at Salem High. I can’t believe she’s finally mine, Brady thought, as Chloe hurried over to him. Chloe’s face broke into a huge, vibrant smile as she closed in on Brady.

    “Brady!” she cried as she neared him. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment all day!” Chloe threw herself into his arms, unaware of the gaping teenagers around them.

    Brady grinned and hugged her back. “I know what you mean, Diva. I thought of you all day at work. My father really got on my case about it.”

    Chloe leaned back in his arms and looked in his face. He’s so special, she thought. “Does he still tease you about us?”

    Brady shrugged his shoulder. “I don’t mind, as long as we’re together.”

    “We certainly are!” Chloe said as she gave Brady a long, passionate kiss.

    “Ahem,” a voice said from behind them. Chloe and Brady didn’t stop. “AHEM” , the voice said louder, with a hard tap on Brady’s shoulder. “What the…” Brady said as he finally stopped the kiss.

    “That is REALLY something I don’t want to see,” Belle said forcefully. “I mean, it’s great that you two are going out, but, for goodness sake, please don’t kiss like that in front of me!”

    Chloe blushed as Brady laughed lowly. He hugged Chloe to him as they both faced Belle. “What are you up to,Tink? Chloe and I were heading out to check out some new cds.”

    Belle said, “Cool. I’m heading over to Mimi’s right now. We have to do that big English paper. It’s, like, due tomorrow, and we’ve barely even started it. I know you’re already done, Chloe. That makes me sick!”

    Chloe smiled as she looked at Brady, “I have a lot of motivation now to get my work down quickly.”

    Belle made a face as she watched the two of them gaze deeply into each other’s eyes. “That’s it!” Belle said, “I’m going to round up Mimi and leave you two lovebirds alone!” She stalked away, thinking how happy she was for her brother and her best friend.

    Chloe started to laugh. “I think we make Belle a little uncomfortable.” Brady grinned in agreement. “I don’t know about you, but Belle has the right idea. Let’s blow this place!” Chloe said to Brady.

    Brady threw Chloe one of his amazing smiles. “Yeah, let’s go!” He held open the door for Chloe as she climbed into his hip, happening vehicle. When he entered his side, Brady leaned over the console and gave Chloe another earth-shattering kiss. When it was over, Brady said smugly, “At the rate we’re going, we’ll never get out of the parking lot!”
    Chloe grinned. “That wouldn’t bother me a bit!”

    Brady started up the car and the two soulmates headed off to do some shopping.

    Two hours later, Brady and Chloe entered the Brady Pub. Brady followed Chloe to a secluded booth near the back. He slid across from her. Carolyn came over and greeted them. “Brady! Chloe!” she exclaimed, “what a pleasure to see both of you tonight!”

    Brady grinned fondly at Carolyn as Chloe replied, “We love coming here, Mrs. Brady. The pub looks wonderful! I love all of the Christmas decorations. I can’t believe Christmas is nearly here!”

    “Thanks, Chloe. Shawn and I really enjoy decorating the pub. Our favorite holidays are Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.” Carolyn smiled at the young couple. “Are you going to the Christmas Ball that is being held at Tuscany? I heard that it is going to be lovely. Shawn and I going.”

    Brady leaned back in his chair. “We’re both looking forward to it, too. Shawn and Belle are going together. We’re going to meet them there.”

    A worried frown passed Carolyn’s face. “I’m so glad that Shawn has Belle right now. He’s going through a terrible time. His parents are separated and I don’t know if they will ever get back together.”

    Chloe sensed Carolyn’s frustration over the horrible situation with the Brady’s. The truth (finally!) came out about the baby switch. Barb and Glen were granted custody of their son, while Hope finally had her real son back. Baby Isaac was now J.T. In the process, the truth of J.T.’s parents had also surfaced. Bo and Shawn D. had been furious. Hope moved out of the house with J.T. and was living with her Gram.

    “Belle can help Shawn deal with it,” Chloe said soothingly. “She’s an amazing person.”

    Carolyn made a mental note to stop discussing this issue with everyone under the sun. “Well, enough of that,” she said. “What can I get for you tonight?”

    Chloe and Brady exchanged glances and smiled at each other. They knew what they wanted. “We’ll take the pancake dinner,” Chloe said.

    Brady laughed as he remembered that night last summer. “The last time we ate pancakes together we almost got into a whipped cream fight. God, Carolyn would have banned us from this place.”

    Chloe grinned. “That night was so much fun. What I remember most is when you put all that stuff on my pancakes AND made me eat it. It tasted soo good.”

    “I didn’t know if we would end up together,” Brady said in a more serious mood. “I mean, I knew I really wanted to be with you, but I didn’t know your feelings on it.”

    Chloe said, “Brady, I was so confused about everything. It took me awhile to realize that you were so much more that just a friend. You’re my white,” she hesitated, and then corrected herself, “black knight in shining armor.” She reached across the table and held his hand. “I love you, Brady Black.”

    Brady always found it hard to believe that Chloe Lane would say those words to him. “I can never hear that enough, Chloe. Keep telling me.”

    “I’ll do better than that,” Chloe said as she leaned across the table, “I’ll show you.” Chloe kissed him across the table.

    Brady said, “I can definitely deal with that, Lane. I love you, too.” Chloe smiled radiantly as she sat down.

    Later that night, Brady dropped Chloe off at her house. After a lengthy goodnight kiss on the porch, Chloe entered the house. The lights were out. Chloe knew that Nancy and Craig were at a fundraiser for the hospital. She walked up the stairs to her room, thinking about her evening with Brady. “Brady loves and understands me,” she murmured as she neared her door. “I am so lucky to his support.”

    Chloe opened her bedroom door, flicked on the lights, and smiled. There, on her nightstand, was a bouquet of a dozen red roses. “Oh, Brady,” Chloe breathed as she admired the roses. She looked for a note, but there wasn’t one.

    “She’s home.” The man said into his cell phone as he looked up at Chloe’s window. “I've trailed her and Brady Black the whole evening." There was a moment of silence. "I bet she just found the roses right now…Yeah, she won’t know who sent them. I did everything just like you said. No note, no nothing. I just left them in her room. She’ll never suspect who they really came from.” He waited for a few seconds and agreed. “We’ll move onto the next phase, then. I’ll notify you when it’s been completed.” He terminated the connection and looked up at her window again. He almost felt sorry for the girl. She had such a secure life. He knew that her world was going to be rocked very shortly.

    Chapter Three

    Chloe and Belle are sipping chocolate mochas at .Dotcom the next afternoon. Chloe has been dying to tell Belle about the surprise in her bedroom but didn’t have a chance during school.

    “O.k., Chloe,” Belle said, “spill it. You’ve been hinting that something really cool has happened, and, I, like, want to know right now.” She grinned as Chloe blushed. Belle loved seeing the beautiful, self-assured Chloe Lane lose her composure. “I’ll bet anything that it has to do with that annoying brother of mine.”

    Chloe wiped the mocha off her top lip with a napkin. “Could be…” she answered Belle, letting the suspense grow. She took another sip.

    Belle made one of her famous-I-can’t-believe-you’re-not-telling-me-now faces and hit the table with both of her hands. “Chloe Lane, you tell me this instant what has made you float through the school halls today!”

    “Well,” Chloe said, “after we saw you in the parking lot yesterday, Brady and I went out. We ate at the Brady Pub, by the way. Shawn’s grandmother is really glad that Shawn has you right now. He really needs something positive in his life.”

    “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Belle said jokingly. “I’m really glad to but GET TO THE POINT !”

    “She also mentioned that patience is one of your many virtues!” Chloe joked as Belle snorted in disgust. “Anyway, after Brady dropped me off at home, I went to my bedroom. Nancy and Craig weren’t home yet. So, I flicked on the lights in my room. There, on my nightstand, were a dozen, beautiful, red roses! Can you believe it? I just can’t figure out how Brady got them into my room. Nancy and Craig were gone all night, and Brady spent the whole evening with me.”

    “Awww,” Belle said, “That’s really sweet! I can’t believe my brother did that! Of course, he’s been a lot happier since you two started dating. It’s like he’s a completely different person.”

    Chloe disagreed with Belle. “It’s not just me. Brady has so many positive things in his life right now. He’s finally come to terms with Dr. Evans. He loves working with your father. And he’s completely and totally regained full strength in his legs.”

    Belle laughed as she sipped her mocha. “Right. And I know that dating a beautiful, smart, talented, intelligent woman like you has done nothing to improve his rather dark outlook on life?”

    Chloe smiled secretly. She knew that finding a person that completely understood you was special. They were soulmates. Chloe just hoped that everything continued to go well for them. She wanted to start a new trend in her life: positive relationships that actually stayed around for a loooong time. She treasured her time with Brady.

    “Oh my God!” Chloe exclaimed as she looked at her watch. “I’m supposed to be volunteering at the hospital in fifteen minutes.” She stood up quickly and threw her blue coat on. “Belle, I’ll talk to you later! Thanks for the mocha!” Chloe rushed out the door, in a hurry to get to the hospital.

    “Chloe,” Belle murmured, “Brady’s not the only one who has had a change in attitude.” Belle knew that Chloe’s relationship with the Wesley’s had improved significantly after this summer. Dr. Wesley had told Belle that he believed Brady had helped Chloe deal with certain issues. Belle agreed. She was happy that the Wesley’s adored Brady. They were ecstatic when Chloe officially became Brady’s girlfriend.

    “Speak of the devil,” Belle said as her brother walked through the door. He grinned when he saw Belle and made a beeline to her.

    “Hey, Tink,” he greeted her as he sat down in the seat Chloe had vacated earlier. “I didn’t think you’d be here.”

    “Looking for Chloe?’’ Belle asked. She enjoyed seeing the blush stain Brady’s face. “Well, you just missed her. She’s volunteering at the hospital this evening. She just left to go there.”

    Brady sighed as he said, “I thought I’d catch her here before she left. The last meeting we had ran over, though.” He leaned back in the chair.

    Belle teased, “Oh, poor Brady. He has to go a few more hours without his precious Chloe. However will he make it?”

    “Tink!” Brady laughed good-naturedly at Belle’s teasing. “I’m not THAT bad.” He waited a few seconds, “Am I?”

    “No,” Belle said as she shook her head. “I was just telling Chloe how much happier you two are since you’ve started dating. Both of you have changed so much, Brady. You’ve become more, I don’t know, complete!”

    “She makes me happy, Tink,” Brady admitted to Belle.

    Belle rolled her eyes. “Oh, puh-leeze don’t get mushy on me, Brady. It’s bad enough that I have to see you two kiss. It’s worse when Chloe tells me how wonderful you are. I mean, I’ve known you all my life. You may have her fooled, Brady, but I know what an annoying brother you are.”

    When Brady smiled at Belle, his blue eyes lit up. He had been smiling so much more recently. His family and friends were truly happy for him. “But you love me anyway, I know.”

    Belle said, “Sometimes I do.” She laughed as Brady playfully slapped her with a napkin. “Anyway, that was really sweet what you did for Chloe last night.”

    “We just went on a date,” Brady said.

    “Yeah, Chloe told me a little bit about it. I made her leave out all the mushy parts, thought.”

    “Those are the best parts,” Brady quipped.

    “Ick factor, Brady, ick factor,” Belle replied. “Anyway, I meant after the date, when Chloe got home. We couldn’t decide how you did it.”

    Brady started to wonder if his sister was feeling okay. “Belle, what are you talking about? Have you been hallucinating again?”

    Belle started to feel impatient. “I’m talking about the roses, Brady. The dozen, beautiful red roses sitting on Chloe’s nightstand? Come on, I know you remember them. How did you get them there?”

    Brady sat up straighter in her chair. Chloe was getting roses, from someone else? What the hell? He thought. “Belle, I didn’t send Chloe roses.”

    Belle leaned back in surprise. “You didn’t?”

    Brady said, “No. But I think I know who did.” Brady stood up abruptly and left .Dotcom. He knew who he was going to find. Dammit, Brady thought, I thought this was behind us.

    Belle slumped in her chair. “Uh-oh. I hope Brady isn’t going where I think he is.” Then she got a perplexed look on her face. “Phillip’s accepter their relationship, though. He knows that Chloe only loves him as a friend. Why would he send flowers to her? I just don’t get it.”

    Chapter Four

    Brady knocked loudly on the door to the Kiriakis mansion. I can’t believe this, he thought. Phillip knows that Chloe loves me, not him. Why would he send her roses?

    Henderson opened the door to Brady. He stepped back when he saw the ferocious scowl on Brady’s face. Here we go again, he thought as he greeted his employer’s grandson. “Mister Black. It is very good to see you again. Have you come to visit your grandfather?” Henderson asked optimistically. He really didn’t believe that, though.

    Brady shook his head. “No. Actually, I would like to speak with my uncle,” he said sarcastically. “Is he here?”

    Oh, no, Henderson thought. He briefly considered lying but decided against it. “Yes. Master Phillip is up in his room. I believe he is working on an assignment for school. His father believes it’s very important for him to get excellent grades.” Henderson continued to chat, hoping to detour Mister Black from his destination.

    Of course, it was a hopeless endeavor. “Thanks, Henderson. I’ll just show myself to his room.” Brady walked at a brisk pace to Phillip’s room. He briefly considered knocking the door in but something made him stop. “Calm down,” Brady muttered to himself. “Trust in Chloe. That’s the main reason why she broke up with Phillip.” Brady took a deep breath and knocked hard on the door. Hey, he thought, I don’t want Uncle Phil to think he can walk all over me!

    “I’ll be there in a second!” Phillip called through the door as he laid aside his physics book and notes. He climbed off of his bed, grateful for the distraction. He was working very hard to excel in school. After all, that’s what a Kiriakis should do.

    “Brady!” he said in surprise when he opened the door. He was the last person Phillip thought would be on the other side. “What are you doing here?”

    Brady took another deep breath. His first impulse was to knock Phillip to the ground but Brady knew Chloe wouldn’t accept that. “I came here to discuss something with you.”

    Phillip stepped back into the room, allowing Brady to enter. Phillip remembered the time when he had attacked Brady a few months earlier over Chloe outside her house when she got back from Puerto Rice. Brady would not fight back when Phillip punched him. Brady had told Phillip that he needed to think before he acted and to get the full story. That scene had been the end for him and Chloe. Looking back now, Phillip realized that his jealousy over Chloe and lack of trust in her had caused their relationship to deteriorate. He hoped Brady wouldn’t make the same mistake.

    “Make yourself at home,” Phillip said to Brady. It was still hard to face the “better” man that Chloe had chosen. However, Phillip had come to terms with the ending of their relationship and the beginning of Chloe and Brady.

    Brady walked over to the window, keeping his temper in check. He had come over here in anger but he wanted to assess the situation before he blew up at Phillip. “Like I said, I want to discuss something with you.”

    Phillip sat back on his bed, eyeing Brady warily. “Shoot. I’m all ears.”

    Brady said, “I just came from .Dotcom. I was hanging out with Belle.”

    Phillip raised both eyebrows, wondering where this was going. “O.k.,” he said. “What does that have to do with me?”

    Brady glanced at Phillip assessingly. “She told me that Chloe had received a dozen roses last night. They didn’t come from me.”

    Phillip stood up and met Brady’s gaze. “You think I sent them.”

    Brady leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. “I thought that there was a distinct possibility, Uncle Phil. You were the first, and only, name that came to mind when Belle told me about them.”

    “Brady,” Phillip said, “I admire the way you came over here to ask me. If something like this had happened when Chloe and I were together, I would have barged in, shouting accusations left and right. I know that is part of the reason why Chloe broke up with me.”

    “That’s history,” Brady said coolly.

    Phillip agreed as he stepped nearer Brady. “You’re right. Chloe and I are completely over. It’s hard, but I can see that she is a lot happier with you, man.”

    “I’m impressed that you can admit that,” Brady said. “But, you haven’t answered my question.”
    Phillip disagreed. “Yes, I have, Brady. I didn’t send Chloe the roses. Why would I? She wants to be with you now. I’ve accepted it.”

    Brady stepped away from the wall and turned completely to face Phillip. He weighed his words and decided that Phillip was telling the truth. “O.K. I believe you, Phil.”

    Inwardly, Phillip let out a sigh of relief. He knew that Brady could have wiped the floor with him, especially when he had passionate anger driving him. “That doesn’t help you much, though. Who sent her the roses?”

    Brady shook his head, surprised that he was having such a rational conversation with Phillip. “I don’t know, but I will find out. I don’t like this,” Brady said emphatically as he headed towards the door.

    “Brady!” Phillip cried out when Brady was near the top of the stairs. “I’ll keep an out at school for anything weird. If I see anything, I’ll let you know.”

    Brady smiled at Phillip, the first real smile he had given him in a year. “I’d appreciate that.”

    Phillip nodded his acceptance.

    Henderson held the door open for Brady as he left, relieved that the house was still standing and that Mister Black and Master Phillip hadn’t fought.

    Brady stopped on the doorstep as the door closed behind him. “Who could have sent you those flowers, Chloe? I know you wouldn’t encourage anyone. I trust you completely.” He turned around and gazed off into the distant. “I don’t like this at all.” He pulled his gloves onto his hands as he headed off towards his car. Brady tried unsuccessfully to shake off this feeling of impending doom that had just overcome him.

    Chapter Five

    Chloe was walking to the front door of her house. She had just finished her volunteering at the hospital. A nurse had given her a ride home because Craig had been called in. Nancy was working late at the radio station, so Chloe knew she would have the house to herself.

    She jumped when she felt a hand touch her arm. However, then she felt it, the electricity, chemistry, awareness, karma, whatever you want to call it. She turned around and threw herself into Brady’s arms.

    Brady returned the embrace. He was always surprised when Chloe Lane showed a spontaneous display of affection. The displays were getting more and more frequent. She had really come a long way from the closed-off teenager in black. “It’s good to see you, too,” he breathed as he hugged Chloe tighter.

    “Brady, I didn’t expect to see you here! What a great surprise!” Chloe exclaimed as she ran her arms over Brady. “Brrr,” she said, “it’s cold out here. Let’s go inside and warm up.”

    Chloe stepped out of the embrace and unlocked the front door. Brady smiled suggestively as he said, “Diva, I know many ways of keeping you warm.”

    She glanced over her shoulder as she opened the front door. “I know you do, Brady Black, and I love everyone one of them.”
    Brady stepped through the door, closed it, and then pulled Chloe into a fierce kiss. Damn, Brady thought when he could finally think again, she drives me crazy!

    “Wow,” Chloe breathed after the kiss ended. It never failed to amaze her how Brady could make her forget everything when he kissed her. He made her feel weak! She had never felt anything like this before. “That’s definitely an a-plus way to warm me up!”

    “Rating my kisses now, are we, Diva?” Brady grinned at her, enjoying the praise. “Let’s try this one.” Brady spun Chloe around and pressed her against the wall. He used his hands to take off her coat and drop it on the floor. When the coat was gone, Brady used his hands to explore Chloe’s body as his mouth gently and tenderly assaulted hers. Chloe responded by holding Brady tightly and meeting his lips each time.

    “Wow,” Chloe breathed again. She laid her head on her shoulder.

    “A-plus?” Brady asked.

    Chloe shook her head. “Oh, no. That kiss was sooo good, I think it broke the curve!” She nuzzled her head into his shoulder. She loved being this close to Brady. “Umm, you smell good, Brady.”

    Brady rested his head on top of hers. “You look like a goddess, Chloe.” He could feel Chloe grin delightedly at his compliment. “How was the hospital?”

    Chloe stepped back and took Brady’s hand. She led him over to the sofa, where Brady took off his jacket and laid it over the chair. Then, the two of them sat down, with hardly an inch between them. Chloe ran her fingers through Brady’s hair as she replied, “It’s wonderful. I am so glad that Craig suggested that I become a volunteer. I love working with the children. I get to read stories to them, play games, …”

    “Sing them to sleep,” Brady added. “Marlena told me how the kids love it when you sing to them. One boy is convinced that you are an angel.”

    Chloe blushed at the compliment. Compliments from Brady, who used to be so hard on her, were wonderful. “Nicky is a such a sweet kid. He’s going home in two days. I am very glad he’s over his pneumonia but I’ll miss him a lot.”

    Chloe snuggled closer to Brady. Suddenly, she sat up straight and looked him in the eyes. “Oh, I almost forgot! Brady, thank you so much for the roses. They are so beautiful!”

    Brady lurched up from the sofa. How could I forget them? he thought as he pulled her off of the sofa. “Yes. The roses. Let’s go see them.”

    Chloe looked at him with a puzzled frown on her face. “All right.”

    Brady led Chloe up to her room. When they got to her bedroom, Brady opened the door. He ushered Chloe in, and then followed her. Brady looked at the beautiful roses on the nightstand. He wanted to threw them out the window. “These are the roses?”

    “Yes, that’s what they are,” Chloe replied snidely. She couldn’t understand what was wrong with Brady. “Of course, you already know that.”

    “Did a card come with them?” Brady asked.

    “No, Brady, they were sitting there just like that,” Chloe replied quickly.

    “No card,” Brady muttered under his breath.

    “What is up with you, Brady?” Chloe asked Brady as she watched him carefully examine the roses. “They are just normal, everyday roses.”

    “Hmm,” Brady agreed as he looked under her nightstand and bed, searching for a possible note. Chloe threw her hands up in the air in exasperation.

    Chloe said, “This isn’t a big mystery here, Brady. These are just roses that my boyfriend sent me.”

    Brady looked up from where he was kneeling. “Actually, Chloe, they aren’t ordinary roses.” He stood up and took both of her hands in his. “As much as it hurts me to admit this… I didn’t give you these roses. I don’t know where they came from.”

    Chloe’s eyes widened, jumped to the most logical conclusion, and then she said, “Dammit, I thought we’d put that behind us! Why would he give me roses now?”

    Brady shook his head. “It’s not Phillip, Chloe. I went over and talked to him as soon as Belle told me about them. I believe him. He didn’t send them to you.”

    “Who would, then?” Chloe asked, starting to feel a little nervous. She was getting that sensation again, that feeling that someone was watching her. “They were in my room, Brady. Nancy and Craig didn’t put them here. They didn’t know a thing about the roses when I asked them this morning.”

    Brady suddenly felt scared. Someone had broken in the house and put the roses in her room. Damn, he thought, I shouldn’t have scared her. He pulled Chloe into his arms. “Don’t worry, Diva. We’ll find out who sent the roses.” And why, he silently added.

    Chloe nuzzled tightly into Brady. “You can do anything,” she said in response, trying to hide her sudden fear.

    Brady felt the fear she was trying so hard to hide. He kissed her on the top of her forehead. “I’m glad you have so much confidence in me, Diva.” Chloe smiled bravely in response.

    Just then, they heard the front door open and voices. “Nancy and Craig must be home,” Chloe said. “Let’s go down and see them.”

    Brady followed Chloe out of her bedroom door. He took one last look at the offensive roses. “I’ll get to the bottom of this,” he vowed as he closed Chloe’s door. He was also going to have a serious talk with Dr. Wesley about this incident.

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