Disclaimer: Sadly, none of it belongs to me and it all goes to Tom, Ken, NBC, and Sony. All songs used belong to their respective writers and artists.

    Author's Notes: Okay, this is going a little differently than what I normally write. It has seven chapters and the first six alternate between Chloe's point of view, and the Brady's. The last is told in third person. The chapters told from their point of view happen at the same time. For instance, Chloe and Brady's first chapters will each happen while the other is going on. So, since Chloe is chapter one and Brady's is chapter two and they take place at the same time. Also, I wrote a story called ‘Falling For the First Time', in which Greta bought Dot Com and opened a nightclub in the building I made up behind Dot Com. It's called The Back Door and you need to know that for reading this.

    Summary: Brady and Chloe are slightly afraid of what they're feeling for each other.


    Chapter One: Chloe's Pont of View

    Have you ever noticed what a great motivator fear can be? Either that, or it stifles what you're feeling. In my case, it's stifling what I'm feeling. You wouldn't believe how much has changed in the past year. In reality it all started on Halloween of 2000. But at this point, if you asked me, I would probably tell you that nothing was going on. Although my friends, my mom, Craig, they all say they can see it. At least I think they think they see it, because they look at me weirdly every time they see me with Brady. I think they may have noticed that I have started taking more time to get ready when I go places with him or I know I'm going to see him. I've also started making excuses to go see Belle because I really want to see Brady.

    I've never felt this afraid before. Everything else in my life has had some sort of anticipation, like I expected it to fail, so I never worked up enough fear to let myself get carried away. But I'm falling for Brady Black and I sort of welcome the fear. Because I'm looking forward to him. I don't know exactly what I'm looking forward to, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless. I don't even know what I want from him. Actually, I do know, and that's one of the biggest reasons of why I am so afraid. I want him. Pure and simple. Well, maybe not so pure, but simple. I want Brady.

    I'm afraid of rejection. I guess it's a big step that I can admit that I'm afraid of his rejection. I think he might know it to. At least he does know that I am afraid of rejection, no matter what I tell anyone, but I don't think he knows I'm afraid of him rejecting me. I hope he doesn't. I'm not ready for that conversation yet. I don't want him to cast me aside. I want him to want me and what if he doesn't? I don't want to tell him how I feel and have him say that he just sees us as friends, that he's never thought of me that way and only as some kid he hangs out with.

    Brady is one of the most confusing and contradicting people I have ever come across. Granted, I do know him pretty well. He knows me like and open book, too. But one minute he'll be telling me that I'm just his little sister's friend, or tease me about my hair or something. Then he'll turn into the Brady that I'm in love with. The Brady that is my best friend that I can tell anything and everything to. The one I can be myself with and never have to hide. He seems to want me for me.

    Oh God, did I just say I'm in love with Brady? I guess I can see how that would be possible. At least these days I can be honest with myself, if not completely with him. This is actually the one thing I have never told Brady before. I don't know if I ever can. I know, I know. I have to get over this fear. But I don't want to loose our friendship. He means the world to me. Even if I weren't in love with him, I would still love him. He's impossible not to. He likes to seem all big and tough, but I have never met anyone who cares so much. And, I'll be honest, I'm on a roll today, he's gorgeous. I definitely like to look at him and I'm glad he hasn't caught me staring, yet.

    I have no idea what I am going to wear. He's picking me up in two hours and taking me to The Back Door. We decided that we needed a little fun. So, we're going dancing. I don't know if I'll be able to handle dancing with Brady. That much physical contact might do me in for good. Not that I'd mind. Imagine the possibilities if he did want me the way I want him? If he is in love with me like I am with him, I think I may be able to find the emotion to sing with that he's been telling me I lack. Sometimes, he can be such a pain, but other times I know it's his own way of helping. And he really is. I'd never trusted anyone enough to tell them about my birth father. Brady just has this magic to him that makes me want to tell him everything. I do want to tell him I'm in love with him, that I'm a better person for having him in my life, I'm just not ready to yet. It's that fear thing again.

    So, back to what to wear. I hate getting ready for these things. So much anxiety over what to wear to make me look better. For him. I have this black dress thing. Nancy has asked me not to wear it for a while. She says that it's too cold out to wear it and that I should never wear black again. I like it though. I actually liked the way I looked in it. And if I'm going to a nightclub then I need to dress the part. The black dress it is. It's strapless, short skirt. I'll wear my black stiletto boots with it. Belle made me buy them, she thought it would be neat if she, Mimi, and I were all friends by Halloween we could go as Charlie's Angels. Mimi and I aren't exactly friends yet, still working on it, but I secretly thought the boots were cute so I bought them. Now the problem of my hair. I think I'll just leave it down. Brady seems to like it down. With silver loop earrings and a few silver bracelets.

    I think the ensemble looks good, but I hope Nancy lets me out of the house. Hopefully she and Craig are still having dinner when Brady gets here to pick me up. Which happens to be in about ten minutes. Thank God I was able to get my makeup done quickly. The silver eyeshadow, small amount, was a good touch. I match. I'm sort of glad I didn't tell Belle where I was going. She would have seen to it that she was here helping me and she would have made a big fuss out of my going out with her brother. Then I may have let something slip that I didn't want to.

    The doorbell is ringing. I had talked the butterflies out of my stomach, but they are back and they brought some friends. This is going to be a long, excruciating night. But I can't wait for it. Despite my fear, I cherish every waking moment, and some not so awake, that I have with Brady Black.

    Chapter Two: Brady's Point of View

    I'm a little nervous about tonight. It isn't a date, but I feel like it is. I've never really gotten nervous about going out with a girl. But this isn't just any girl. She's actually a woman. And we aren't even really going out. We're just hanging out as friends. Chloe Lane is the most amazing person I have ever met in my entire life. I can hardly believe that I know her sometimes. It's amazing to me. She's this enigmatic figure that is letting me peel away each layer of her exterior and letting me, and only me, solve the mystery that she is. It's a privilege.

    But I'm afraid of her. I've never been afraid of a woman. But I am afraid of Chloe, because she has more power over me than anyone else ever has. She makes me weak in the knees. She doesn't know this, though. At least, I hope she doesn't. I can't ruin our friendship. It means everything to me. I've never had anyone I felt so close to. It's taken me a long time to realize I can trust people. Not even my dad or Tink know everything about how I feel. Chloe understands the feeling of abandonment. She gets everything. Except when I'm teasing her. She has a hard time realizing it's all meant in fun. But that's part of her charm.

    A few months ago I finally realized what the nervous feeling I was having around her was. My dad thinks it's a crush. I know exactly what it is, I get it every time I see her, every time I think about her. Which is pretty much all the time. She captivates me. I'm in love with her. I realized it the night after we sang in the park. Up in till then I had thought it to be attraction, nothing more. But I had so much fun that night. Who would have ever thought Brady Black would be singing and dancing in the park? Brady Black sure didn't. But, then, the next morning, I couldn't wait to call her. So, I did, and that's when I realized that I was in love with her.

    Later that day she asked me to show her to sing with real emotion. I think I scared her, just a little because I showed every emotion I was feeling at the time. I was frustrated, happy, and very much in love, and scared. I don't think she's ready to feel that much yet. I'll know when she's ready. I always seem to. In the meantime I have had to settle with just being friends. Which is in no way settling. Like I said, I love every minute I spend with Chloe. I'll take her anyway I can get her. Tink was watching ‘Bridget Jones' Diary' the other day and this one guy said something to Bridget. He said he liked her just as she is. I love Chloe just the way she is. I once told her she'd find someone who knows her and loves her for who she is. At the time I knew I liked her, but I didn't really think it would be me who loves her for who she is. I'd never love her for who she isn't, like a certain Uncle of mine, if you could even call what he feels love. I don't know how anyone could help but fall in love with her.

    I don't know what I'm going to do when she gets into Julliard. Right now, she's just my best friend and I'm hoping it won't be long until we're more. But if we're just getting started and she has to leave I don't know what I would do. I need to see her everyday. It's like air. I need her to properly breathe and function, or I'm worthless and dead. If my friends from boarding school heard what was going on in my head, they'd beat me to a pulp. Because this doesn't sound like the closed off rebel who never trusted anyone. She has completely changed me for the better. Actually, I don't think she's changed me. I think she's just brought forward what was there when I was kid. Back when Marlena, dad, and Tink and me all were one happy family. Because of Chloe, we're getting back to that. I want to be open with her and as a result I'm beginning to be open with everyone else in my life. I'm certainly warming up to Marlena again. I think she caught me playing with my Hulk again earlier today. I can't help it, though.

    I'm picking up Chloe tonight and we're going to The Back Door. I've only been once since it opened. I'm looking forward to it. Not really a good place to have one of those wonderful Brady and Chloe conversations, but I don't think there's really all that much talking to do. Most of the time I can read her pretty well without words. She can do the same with me too. She knows exactly what I'm thinking just by looking into my eyes. I look into her eyes a lot too. They're amazing. I stare...a lot. I hope that she hasn't caught me, that would be embarrassing. Sometimes, I really don't know if she feels it too because I don't know how she feels about me, but sometimes I think that maybe we communicate without words. I sound like a dork saying this, but I saw some movie where these creatures communicated just through their thoughts. I'd like to think Chloe and I are that deeply connected.

    I have to pick her up in an hour, I can't wait. I have to try very hard every time I see her to control my excitement. I think I overcompensate most times by being rude to her. Thank God she's used to it. Usually once we are together we both lighten up and we end up having a great time. I have a great time, I hope she does. I think she does. She seems like it. If she's in a bad mood, she usually leaves me smiling. If she has to be leaving me she might as well do it smiling. She thinks I'm cool. That was quite possibly one of the nicest things she's ever told me, and at the same time the worse. I don't want to be cool to her. I want to be everything to her like she is to me.

    Part of me hopes she doesn't look as beautiful as she normally does tonight. For two reasons. I don't want any other guy to think they can have my Chloe. Okay, maybe I spend a little possessive, but I could I not with her. I get a little jealous when other guys see her. I'm glad she doesn't pay attention to them. When we're together it's like we're the only people in the room. The other reason is that I want her. Yes, I want her heart, but I want her. That way. How could I not? It is getting much harder to not think about that. Especially when we had our snowball fight. She was all over me. At one moment heaven, in the next nearly unbearable.

    I think I'll wear black tonight. She seems to like it when I wear black. I've decided on a pair of black pants and a black button down shirt. I think I'll leave the first few buttons undone. Yeah, I'll admit it, I want to look good for her. What's wrong with wanting to look good for the person you're with? Or more importantly, want more with. I have this feeling that she may be trying to look good for me too. Not that she could ever look bad, but I've noticed that she seems to be trying lately. I don't think I've ever seen her look bad. Even in her weakest moments she's the most beautiful creature I've ever laid eyes upon.

    On the drive over there I keep thinking about all summer when we went around in my Jeep. Or, when I'm with her, it's my hip and happenin' car. We had so much fun this summer. I'll never look at pancakes, or this Jeep, bowling, ice cream, BLT's, and ‘The Sound of Music' without thinking of her. So many things remind me of her. It's like I have these little reminders everywhere I go letting me know how much she means to me and how much I cherish her. As if I needed reminding. She's always on my mind.

    Her house is strangely quiet and I'm a little nervous. I think I said that already. Oh well. Here goes. I can't wait for tonight. We'll have a good time. We always do. I think I just need to tell myself every time I'm about to see her. It calms me down. After ringing the doorbell I hear footsteps and her voice, like an angel, is telling me she'll be down in minute. There's a tingly sensation all over my body and my heart is thumping wildly. If my chest wasn't there to hold it in, it might have broken through Dr. and Mrs. Wesley's door.

    Chapter Three: Chloe's Point of View

    "Just a minute!" My palms are starting to sweat a little. Hopefully he won't notice. I grab my purse, my coat, my scarf. I take just a minute to breathe before I open the door. Compose myself, make sure he doesn't know how much I love him. My hand is a little shaky as it reaches the doorknob, but it's settling. I close my eyes and breathe in, turn the knob and open my eyes to see him standing there. He's gorgeous. Quite possibly the most amazing man I have ever laid eyes on. Belle once showed me a picture of him from boarding school. He looked good, but seeing him in front of you is in a class in and of itself. There aren't enough words for how amazingly good looking he is. Very sexy and very manly. He has some stubble. I like it when he doesn't shave. I wonder what it would be like to kiss someone with facial hair. I don't think Philip was capable of growing any. He tried once, but it looked like her had a bruise on his chin. Enough about my moronic twit of an ex. I prefer to not think about him at all. Which is pretty easy to do, considering that I'm usually thinking about Brady.

    "Earth to Diva," he says to me. I guess I got a little lost in my thoughts.

    "Sorry, I was, um, trying to remember if I turned off the oven." Really bad excuse, Lane. Couldn't you have thought of something better than that?

    "Well, did you? Because we wouldn't want to come back here and find that you've irresponsibly let the house burn down."

    "Brady, I would never let the house burn down." Damn, too late. That was one of those jokes he always catches me off guard with.

    "I was only kidding." I made him get defensive. Well, now, how's he supposed to want to be with me if I put him on defense all the time?

    "I know, I know. Ready to go?" I'm smiling at him. I hope it helps smooth things over. We usually get over these little tiffs very quickly.

    "After you." He's stepped aside to let me walk ahead and closes the door behind me. I lock it, and walk to his Jeep where he opens the door for me. He's such a gentleman sometimes. I love it.

    The ride there is sort of quiet, but not uncomfortable. We rarely have uncomfortable silences. A lot of times we don't need words.

    When we get to the club, it's pretty loud. Lots of music. Shawn and Belle are at a table, sipping on two cokes. Mimi is trying to teach Kevin to dance. It's amusing. Greta and Abby are behind the bar trying to figure something out. The music has stopped. Suddenly a very soft, but beautiful song is playing.

    "Want to dance?" I can't speak to answer him because he's taken my hand before I can answer. He can do so much to me in one touch. Hell, he can do a lot in just one look.

    "I'd love to." I figure I should answer anyway.

    He places his hand around my mid section. I wish he'd place them just a bit lower. I decide I need to be a bit bolder and I move closer to him. There's barely and inch between us. This song is very beautiful. I like what it says. I wish Brady felt that way about me. Any girl would be lucky to have a man feel that way about her. It would make her feel cherished.

    It's sort of a long song. I don't mind. The longer it is, the longer I get to stay right here. In his arms. This is home to me. I feel safe and protected. I don't think he'd ever let anything happen to me. I think he'll always keep me safe even if it is just as friends. I think I may need to tell him soon how I feel. Before I burst.

    One more little bold move. My head is now resting on his chest, my eyes are closed. In my head I can see us dancing to this song again. Only he's in a tux and I'm in a wedding dress. This is what I want for my future. More so than I ever wanted to sing professionally, I want to be with Brady for my entire life. I never want to leave his arms. I actually think my thoughts and dreams and desires are about to make me cry. My eyes are starting to tear up and I wrap my arms around his neck just a little tighter. If I were to be pulled away right now I think I might shrivel up and die. I need him. I've never admitted to needing anyone before in my life. I need him.

    I think the song is winding down, regretfully. This means I have a little time to prepare myself from being taken from his arms. I don't really pray, but I'm going to right now. God, let me keep this man in my life. He's my light, my compass, everything that keeps me good and makes me whole. Please, dear God, let me have this man. Give me this and I will never ask for anything else ever again. I think a few tears have fallen onto my face. I have to find a way to cover, he can't know yet. I'm too afraid of that right now. In time, all in good time. I lightly dab my eyes, pretending there's something in them.

    "Are you okay?" His voice is so reassuring and strong.

    "Fine, fine. Just something my eyes." That's the second time I've lied to him tonight. I don't like it. It's one of the reasons I have to tell him soon. That way when I'm moved to tears just by being held by him, I can tell him he just has that affect on me. I wonder if I'll ever affect him that way? Or anything remotely close. If he feels anything close to what I feel I'll be the luckiest person alive.

    I think I understand why Nancy and Craig are so affectionate and can't keep their hands off of each other. They're sort of my parents, so yeah, it's kind of gross. But I hope when I get to that point in life, where everything's settled, that I am that in love and that devoted. I've come to appreciate what they have. They mean the world to each other, they know each other's moods and they know how to handle each other. They understand each other. I want that with Brady. Everything means nothing if I don't have him.

    I look at him as the song plays its last note. He's smiling at me. Not a big grin like he gets with that Hulk, but a content smile. Like he's happy. It's infectious because I'm smiling at him now.

    "Want to get out of here?" He says it so softly I can hardly hear him. I wonder what he wants to do. I won't know if I don't get over my fear and go.

    "Let's go," I answer him. He takes my hand, at first only touching my finger tips. I feel so much electricity right now. Like I could light up this entire club. He's taking my hand completely in his now as he gently leads me to his Jeep. I'm sure it's cold, but I don't feel it.

    We drive, again in silence, but it's okay. I'm smiling like a fool. We reach where he wanted to go. I love this place. He opens my door for me as we walk over and sit down.

    "Why did you want to leave?" I'm afraid of the answer.

    Chapter Four: Brady's Point of View

    It's taking her some time to open the door. I don't think I can hold my breath much longer. She's going to cause me respiratory problems. All this waiting. I can't breath when I'm waiting for her. I hear footsteps, I think she's going to open the door. I close my eyes for just a moment.

    She opens the door. She looks amazing. She takes my breath away, again. She looks so beautiful. I don't know how I'll control myself tonight. She seems to have wandered. Her mind that is. I wonder what's going on in that pretty little head of hers. Most of the time I can tell, but right now. There are some moments when she gets this look on her face. She looks so completely tranquil and at ease in her thoughts. If I only I were the one she was thinking about.

    After getting lost in my own thoughts she's still out of it.

    "Earth to Diva," I tell her.

    I tease her a little about the house after she tells me she was worried she didn't turn something off. It always takes her a minute to realize I'm only teasing her.

    She's ready to go and we head for that club. I would have never thought that Greta would open a nightclub. A good one too. My thoughts only wander away from Chloe for that brief moment. It's still too long. However, the outside observer may beg to differ. Anyone else might say that since I think of her morning, noon, and night, that a small break from it, any break from it, would do me good. I'm addicted to her and I don't want to be cured of it.

    The club is pretty crowded. There's a loud song playing. Good beat. I see my sister and Shawn. Greta and Abby are here. I think most of Salem is here on nights like this. The song changes and it's much softer. I ask her to dance. Before she can protest I take her hand. So much in just that slight touch. Even when we look at each other there's something there.

    I want to dance with my Chloe. I'm worried, though. Because I'm afraid of telling her what I feel and since we're both so deeply connected what if she can sense what I'm feeling? What if I too busy thinking about my fear I'm not noticing if she's feeling something for me. Something other than friendship. She is my best friend, after all.

    We're dancing now. There's hardly any space between us. My hands are at her mid section. I wonder what would happen if I moved them to her hips? I won't know until I try. I do. My hands are now a bit lower at her hips. Her arms go around my neck just a bit tighter. I think her eyes are closed. Mine are. I'm taking everything in. She smells beautiful. Refreshing, like towels out of the dryer. God, I'm so in love with her.

    I'd never had a best friend until she came along. I hope to God I never loose her. I hope God is hearing me. She's all I'll ever want in life. As long as I have her, nothing will ever go wrong. If I have her, I'll never want for anything because she makes everything perfect. My life was pretty much crap before she and I began sparring. I still love our little arguments. Every moments I've ever spent with her I will remember and love. Especially this one. I love having her so close to me.

    I really like this song. It would be a good one for a wedding. A year and a half ago I would have never had that thought. She's changed me for the better. Now I actually want to get married and have a family. But it means nothing without Chloe. This song is saying what I'm feeling. I think Belle made me listen to it one day when I drove her to Salem Place. I think it's called ‘Everything'. By those guys who do that ‘Hanging By a Moment' song. I don't remember their name. Something about a lighthouse or something. It's a great song. How can I stand her with you and not be moved by you? I'm wondering that myself. How can I stand here with this wonderful woman and not feel anything. Despite the fact that I don't have her as I'd like to, being so close to her right is making tears come to my eyes because I am so happy.

    I'm not entirely sure we're even moving anymore. I think we may have stopped. Either that or our feet are just shuffling about, not really going in any sort of motion that could be called dancing. The longer I get to stand here with here with her the better. It's a good thing this song shows no signs of stopping.

    I was read something, I think in something Belle had. It said that true love is friendship set on fire. I feel like my friendship with Chloe is basically on fire. This burning inferno that can't be stopped, can't be extinguished. An amazing feeling to have, this fire in your soul, in your heart, in your mind. I'd feel empty without it. I'd feel empty without her.

    I tighten my grip a bit more. I want her as close to me as possible. I could stand here with her forever.

    The songs ended now. Damn. It means I have to let go of her. I don't. I stay like this with her for a few more seconds. For a moment it looked like she was crying. I wonder why. I hope she wasn't think of the ass monkey uncle of mine.

    I don't want to be here anymore. I ask her if we can leave and we do. We go to a familiar place. I like it here. It suits us. It's now or never, Black.

    Chapter Five: Chloe's Point of View

    I love this place. It's so beautiful. I don't even mind if it's freezing out here. This is an amazing place that I will always remember and cherish. I'd like to get married here. Married to Brady. A life with Brady. He and I are walking side by side. I like that. We both know where we're going. He's not in front of me, leading me, I'm not in front of him. We're side by side. Equals. I've never felt as though I was anyone's equal until I met Brady. But in a way I feel that we aren't equals. See, I'm in love with him and I don't know how he feels about me. Until I know, we're equals on everything but that. That's the most important part though. I don't know how much longer I can bear being just his best friend. I'd never tell him that, though.

    I'm sitting on a bench and he's gone to light the gazebo. This place looks somewhat different in the winter. No flowers this time of year. Sadly, they're dead. Dormant, not dead. It's still beautiful and the lights make it feel warm, inviting, loving. It's our special place. He brought me here to his special place. A few weeks ago he took me to the train tracks. That's his other special place. He thinks there. Although, he wouldn't let me within ten feet of the actual tracks. After what happened with Belle and everything. Still, I love that he shares these things with me. We have shared so much for two people who aren't even dating. I never shared this much with anyone else. I don't think anyone else even shares this much with a diary.

    The hot chocolate he bought us on our way here is warm going down my throat. Part of me wants to just tell him right here and now what I'm feeling. I think a few more sips and I may be able to overcome my fear. It's like when someone offers you their courage in the form of alcohol. Not real courage, just temporary. One last drop left in the cup. It's gone, in the nearby trash can. I don't feel any braver.

    "Chloe." I love how he says my name. Nothing really special to the casual observer. I guess you would have to be in love with him to understand what I'm saying. The sound of my name crossing his lips, knowing he had to think it before he said it, makes me feel as though there's hope. He says my name so gently. Like he wants to protect it.

    "Yes, Brady?"

    "Remember the last time we were here?" I think about it everyday. I will never not think about it. That night is magical. Never in my life did I think I would be so carefree that I'd be able to sing and dance in public park. Granted very few people come here, but anyone could have at any moment. Anyone could have seen our show and laughed. I didn't care. I was so happy that night. He makes me happy.

    "I will never forget that night, Brady. Or any other of the times we have spent together." That was a little revealing, wonder where it came from. Oh well. It felt nice to tell him that.

    "Neither will I." Oh my God. I wonder if he feels what I feel too. Otherwise he wouldn't have said that with such...I don't know. I can't put my finger on it. It was special. Just like he is. "Every moment I have with you is special." God, he must feel something otherwise he wouldn't be telling me these things. There's got to be something. I'm biting my lip, thinking. I turn my gaze at the sky. Very clear. I can see a lot of the stars. I still want to catch the brightest one. Only the time I told him before, I actually meant a star. Now I mean I want to catch him. It's now or never, Lane. You have to do this now. It feels right.

    "Brady, do you remember when I told you I wanted to catch the brightest star in the sky?"

    "Of course. Like I said, I remember everything to do with you."

    "I think I may be a little closer to that goal tonight." Good, my confession is slightly out there. Maybe he'll catch on.

    "Chloe, you're my best friend."

    This doesn't bode well for me.

    "But." There's a but. He has something to add to it. "What if there's more?"

    Oh my God. He heard me. I have my wish. I have my wish. I think. I should say something. Help him along. "Maybe there is more."

    "I've just been feeling something for a while now." He's been feeling it for a while now. My dreams are about to come true.

    "Brady. I think I might catch the brightest star tonight."

    "Your brightest star?"

    We're sitting right next to each other. I never want to leave here. Especially knowing that there is a lot more than hope for us. There's an us. More than just and us as friends. There's an us.

    "You are my brightest star, Brady." My fear is gone. And right now I am feeling the most amazing thing I have ever felt in my entire life. This can never end and we can never leave. I never want this close feeling to go away.

    Chapter Six: Brady's Point of View

    This place has great memories for me and Chloe. This is where she told me she thought we were going to be really good friends. Even then I knew I wanted more. I didn't let on though. My initial shock to her reaction may have given something away. But after all this time since then, I highly doubt it.

    She's very quiet tonight. I wonder what's going on. She must be afraid of something. Chloe gets quiet when she's scared. I wonder what she's afraid of. It can't be me. I know when we met I was...abrasive and, well...hostile. But she knows me. She knows I would never hurt her. Maybe she's afraid of the same thing I am. That would be a trip. Chloe Lane, in love with me. I should be so lucky. If she is afraid of the same thing I am, maybe I should help her along. She needs to know I would never reject her.

    I've some back to this gazebo a few times since that night. It was mostly when she was still trying to decide to take Uncle Loser back or not. I'm so glad she didn't. Not because I wanted her for myself, which I do. But I don't like to see her treated the way he treated her. No one deserves to be treated like that. Especially Chloe. She's had to deal with rejection and hurt her whole life and she does not need it from the person who claims to love her the most. Funny, the person who does lover her the most, and would never hurt her, is the person who's too afraid to tell her that.

    I think that maybe we've been sitting here thinking for a really long time. Time seems to fly when we're together. It's like there just isn't enough time in the world to satiate my appetite for her company. But at the same time, I'm having such an amazing time, it seems like I've never left her side. I don't think that would make any sense if I were to ever tell anyone.

    "Chloe." I decide it's time for one of us to say something. Might as well be me.

    "Yes, Brady?" She says my name so soothingly. Like she's happy to say it and happy that it belongs to me. It makes my heart sing.

    I have to do this. I'll never know if I don't. No more fear. Here goes.

    "Remember the last time we were here?" If she forgot I'm in big trouble. That was one of the best nights of my life. Just the two of us together acting like we'd jumped out of a Rodgers and Hammerstein film. Never in my life did I think that I would feel so comforted by a memory like that. Or did I ever think I would do that. Through Chloe anything is possible.

    "I will never forget that night, Brady. Or any other of the times we have spent together." Dear God, that's music to my ears. She never forgets. I never forget them. I never will. She could never fathom who happy and content she has just made me. Well, maybe not content.

    "Neither will I." I decided to take my cue and carry it on. If she doesn't have the same feelings, well, we can just brush this off as another friend talk.

    "Brady, do you remember when I told you I wanted to catch the brightest star in the sky?" I saved her life that night. I don't even want to think about what those two thugs would have done if I hadn't felt something was wrong. That's how strong our connection is. I knew even from the Penthouse she needed my help.

    "Of course. Like I said, I remember everything to do with you." Got to take it a little further. I know my Diva. She needs a little push sometimes. Not enough for her to notice, though.

    "I think I may be a little closer to that goal tonight." What is she talking about? I look in the sky. There are a lot of stars out. I look back at her.

    "Chloe, you're my best friend." I'm not sure what she means, but I have to find out. "What if there's more?" I feel like something huge has been lifted off my shoulders.

    "I've just been feeling something for a while now." I bit the bullet. She knows. How could she not. I've made it all but impossible for her not to know.

    "Brady. I think I might catch the brightest star tonight." She's smiling. Always a good sign.

    "Your brightest star?" I think I know what she means. If anyone else were to see us they wouldn't have to ask how happy I am. I could jump out of my skin and dance naked in the snow.

    "You are my brightest star, Brady." This is so amazing. I have never felt this good. I didn't feel this good when I walked on my own for the first time after being shot. I didn't feel this good after getting my court settlement, or getting my Great Hulk back. The way this woman makes me feel is incredible. The woman I love loves me and I have no fear whatsoever.

    Chapter Eight: The End of One Era and the Beginning of Another

    Brady and Chloe were closer, physically, then they had ever been before. Their lips were crushed against one another in a kiss so hot it might have felt all of the snow around them. For the first time there was a freedom between the two of them like none other. Yes, there was the freedom they had of never having to hide who they were to each other, but now there was the freedom to explore other things. With the revelation that had just occurred there was a large weight lifted from them, leaving them with no inhibitions. This allowed the greatest kiss either had experienced to be allowed to happen. Hands moved towards their faces, in each other's hair. Anything and everything to bring them closer to each other.

    They pulled apart after what seemed like an hour. A long overdue hour. He held her hand through their gloves. She pulled off the other glove and brought her palm to his cheek, feeling the warmth emanating from his body.

    "Brady," she spoke.

    "Chloe. I had, well, I had been wanting that for a long time."

    A few tears spilled from her eyes, the largest smile she had ever allowed herself show spread across her features, hers eyes lighting up, the blue shining in the moonlight and from her tears.

    "Brady, nothing could have ever made me happier than to hear you say that," she sobbed happily.

    "Chloe, we can't be just friends anymore. Not after that."

    "I don't want to be just friends. I want my best friend to become my lover."

    "I think you might have to fight Shawn for Belle," Brady joked. "Brady, I told you, you are my very best friend. And now, now you finally know how I feel."

    "I can breathe freely. Can we go out tomorrow night? On an actual date?"

    "Yes. We can."

    "Dance with me, Diva," he stood and held out his hand for her.

    She entered his embrace for the second time that night for a dance. Only this time there was no music. They stood for a few moments, together, swaying dreamily in happiness. Brady began to sing.

    "Oh my love for the first time in my life
    My eyes are wide open
    Oh my lover for the first time in my life
    My eyes can see

    I see the wind, oh I see the trees
    Everything is clear in my heart
    I see the clouds, oh I see the sky
    Everything is clear in our world

    Oh my love for the first time in my life
    My mind is wide open
    Oh my lover for the first time in my life
    My mind can feel

    I feel the sorrow, oh I feel the dreams
    Everything is clear in my heart
    I feel life, oh I feel love
    Everything is clear in our world..."

    Chloe leaned up and kissed him gently. Not intense like their previous kiss, but sweet, comfortable. With her eyes still closed she pulled away, smiling still. The smile had not left her face, though her happy tears were now dry.

    "Brady, I've never been so forward with my feelings with anyone."

    "I'm honored I'm the one you're sharing with."

    "I can't imagine sharing this with anyone else."

    "Chloe, how long have you been feeling more than friendship for me?"

    "Longer than I wanted to admit. I think that it happened when you stood up for me when we got back from Puerto Rico. You know, when Philip found you at my window and you, you defended me to him. I think that's when I knew. When did you know?"

    "A little bit before that. But what do you know, Chloe?"

    She knew exactly what he meant and now that she knew he felt the same, she had the courage to tell him anything. "I knew then that I was in love with you. I love you, Brady."

    "I love you, Chloe. I always will."

    The End


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