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Author's Chapter Notes:
Yay, I got an update! Thank you to summer03 and WishingOnAStar for nudging me to update; I was able to sit and get a chapter out. Thanks to those of you still reading. Hope you enjoy and as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thank you! :)

Alex and I managed to avoid his ex-fiancée the last two days we spent on the islands. We got our helicopter ride in and flew over the volcanoes, then we island hopped to Maui and found a secluded beach to make love on. Our last day in the tropical paradise we spent scouting out the little shops for the most obscure and different tokens we could find to take back to our friends. Finally, it was time to head back and face the real world and I was half worried all the drama and stress that had wore us down and tore us apart was going to resurface. Hawaii had been like our own little world for the few days we were there and I didn’t want anything to come between us again. It made me more determined to make us> work. I only hoped Alex felt the same way.

We arrived back in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and it wasn’t a long stay back home before we were loading Alex’s SUV and heading back out of the city of Angels. Destination; Phoenix, Arizona; to spend the holiday weekend with my brother and sister-in-law. Then on the way back to Los Angeles, we were going to take in a few days at Vegas; per Alex’s request. I wasn’t keen on the idea of gambling, mainly because I sucked so badly at it; but I could deal with it if he wanted us to go. For him, I’d deal with almost anything that was within reason. That’s how strongly I felt for him.

So we headed out Friday afternoon and soon arrived at Grayson and Candace’s close to ten. The drive had been fairly easy except for the slew of traffic that seemed to be everywhere we were. Did they all have the same destination in mind? Was everyone going to Phoenix? It sure seemed that way. But despite the tailgaters and lead foots, we arrived safely and within a reasonable amount of traveling time; just over six hours.

Candace greeted us at the door, ushering us inside their new, Mediterranean style, three bedroom home. It’d only been a matter of weeks, but she had it already decorated in a rich and lavish style that screamed her and Grayson. It seemed to suit them well and as my sister-in-law showed us into the large great room with a beautiful red brick fireplace, I could only stare in amazement at all the detail she had really put into making sure it looked and felt like home.

“This place is beautiful!”

“You think so?” Candace’s bright eyes darted around the room. “I didn’t overdo it did I? Grayson says I did some, but I really like it.”

“Well, that’s all that matters,” my boyfriend spoke up as he set the luggage we’d brought off to the side.

“That’s right. If you like it, Candace, and you’re happy, then who cares if my brother thinks you overdid it.”

She chuckled and smoothed her top. “You’re right. And hey, he’s been busy in New York and has hardly been out here, save for a few times. He can’t complain about the décor if he wasn’t here to help pick it out.”

I chuckled and slipped an arm through hers. “That’s right; if he gets a job out here and will be out here more then he gets a say.”

She smiled at me. “Thank you, Morgan.”

“Anytime, sis,” I squeezed her arm then glanced around the expansive room, “speaking of my brother…where is he?”

“Making himself a sandwich in the kitchen.” She looked to Alex then me. “Are you two hungry?”

I glanced over to the only male in the room. “You want something to eat, babe?”

“I would, if that’s okay.”

Candace smiled. “Of course it’s okay. You guys make yourselves at home and I’ll go get you some sandwiches. Ham okay?” We nodded our approval and she seemed to glide across the floor in an effortless way before disappearing down a hallway.

“She’s so beautiful,” I sighed out, watching where she’d gone.

“I think you’re beautiful.” Alex slipped behind me and wrapped me in his arms. “You’re way hotter than Candace is.” His lips sought out my ear.

I giggled softly and leaned into his embrace. “Well, thank you. I’ve always been slightly jealous of her, though. She’s always so put together and beautiful and sweet. My brother got very lucky to get a girl like her.”

“How long have they been married?”

I tilted my head. “Gosh, five years? I think. But they’ve been together since college.”

“She seems really sweet.”

“She is.” I shifted in his arms and turned my body to face his, sliding my arms up around his neck. “And my brother can be a moron, so I apologize now for anything he may say or do this weekend.”

Alex smoothed his arms around me a bit tighter. “You don’t have to apologize for your brother.”

“I know, but I want to. He was pretty short with you the last time you guys were together and I don’t want any awkward or uncomfortable situations.”

“Sweetheart, I’m going to be the perfect house guest so if there’s any awkward situations, it’ll be your brother’s doing and he’ll have to deal with it.”

I chuckled low and kissed his lips. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” He smiled then moved a hand up my back and kissed me again.

“Ahem,” the sound came from behind us and I turned to see my brother standing in the doorway, sandwich in hand.

“Hey, Grayson.”

“Hi, Morgan,” he looked to my boyfriend and gave a nod, “Alex. Nice to see you again.”

“Good to see you too. You have a beautiful home.”

Grayson sauntered further into the room, taking a bite of his sandwich. “Thank you, I didn’t have much to do with it. This was all Candace.” He motioned the hand with the sandwich in it around the room.

“She did a good job.” I gauged my brother’s reaction, but he simply shrugged and took another bite of his food. Something seemed a little off with him, but at the moment I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Maybe he was tired, or stressed from traveling back and forth across the country. Both of which could take a lot out of you.

“Okay, you have ham sandwiches, Sun chips and bottled water in the kitchen,” Candace announced as she joined us in the room again.

I smiled and took Alex’s hand. “Thank you, Candace.”

She returned the grin and motioned us to follow her. “No problem, guys…right this way.” Then she led us down a hallway decorated with paintings of seaside cliffs and fields of flowers and into a gourmet kitchen with cream colored granite marble and pristine, white, state of the art appliances. A quaint breakfast table was set right against a bay window that looked out over a vast yard and in-ground pool. “This is gorgeous.” I ran a hand over the smooth countertop and did a slow turn.

My sister-in-law smiled. “Thank you; I think this is probably my favorite room in the whole place.”

“I can see why.” Alex peered around the room. “This is a master kitchen; a real chef would think this place was a dream.”

“That’s just about what our realtor told us when we were checking the place out.” She took some napkins from the holder next to the microwave and placed them on the table.

“It’s the truth.” He pulled my chair out then took his own seat once I was in mine.

“Alex has a nice kitchen.” I placed a napkin in my lap. “You’re going to have to come to LA sometime and visit us.”

Candace joined us at the table. “Do you live together yet?”

I met my boyfriend’s gaze and felt a silly grin covering my face. I think our time together in Hawaii had done a lot for our relationship. “Not yet, but it’s something we might discuss in the near future.”

“Oh yeah?”

I nodded, giggling softly as Alex wiggled his brows at me. “Yeah, we don’t want to rush anything, but it’s a definite possibility down the road a bit.”

“I’m so happy for you two, and then one day maybe we’ll hear wedding bells.”

I laughed and arched a brow across the table.

Alex chuckled and wiped his mouth. “One day; not years away, but we still need some time before we get there.”

“Yes, you definitely need to make sure you’re both ready.”

I nodded, fiddling with a chip before sticking it in my mouth.

Candace sighed some and looked between us. “I’m glad you guys are here. I thought that tomorrow we could go down to the park; they have this whole set up with vendors and some games and they’ll be some performers there. Then they shoot off fireworks over the lake, come dark.”

“That sounds like fun,” I smiled over at my sister-in-law then looked over to Alex, “you okay with that?”

“Yeah, that sounds good to me.” He wiped his fingers on a napkin.

“Sweet,” I turned back to my sister, “we’ll do that.”

“Great, I’ll let Grayson know. I don’t know if he’ll want to go, but I’ll ask him.”

I chuckled. “That doesn’t really sound like something he’d enjoy, but he could always meet up with us for the fireworks.”

“Right, exactly.” She looked over to the doorway to see her husband standing there then excused herself and the two slipped back down the hallway and out of sight.

I watched them go then turned to Alex. “Grayson seems,” I searched for the right word, “off.”


“Yeah, something’s going on. He’s not acting like himself.”

Alex chuckled. “Baby, you’ve seen him for all of two minutes, how do you know he’s not being himself?”

I peered toward the hallway. “Just this feeling I have; and usually they’re right.”

“Well, maybe he’s just tired or something.” My boyfriend ate on the last of his sandwich then reached for his water bottle.

“Maybe.” But something was telling me otherwise. Picking up a half of my sandwich, I tried to put it out of my head, intent on bringing it up to my sister-in-law, next chance I had.

Which came about 45 minutes later. She had shown us to the guestroom and Alex had excused himself for a shower, leaving the two of us alone.

“I love the color you put in here.”

Candace surveyed the room and smiled. “Thank you. It’s Antique Rose; I wanted something warm but not overpowering.”

“It’s lovely. Where did you find all the artwork?” More paintings of beautiful outdoor scenes were mounted on the walls and antique sconces above the headboard gave the room a comforting glow.

“The neatest little art shop in downtown Phoenix. I wouldn’t have ever known about it if the neighbor hadn’t told me; it’s stuck between a hair salon and a travel agency and it’s not very known, but has some of the most beautiful pieces.”

I smiled. “It sounds lovely.”

“It is.” She studied one of the paintings then turned her lively green eyes my way. “I’m glad you’re here, Morgan. I feel like we’ve really lost touch over the last few years.”

“We have, but I sort of lost touch with everyone.” I smoothed a hand on the bed then sank down onto the edge. “Things are good though and my parents and Mimi are going to be coming out to visit at the end of August.”

“Oh yeah? That’s great, Morgan.”

“Mmhmm, I talked to my mom yesterday and she said Mimi just can’t wait to get out here and see California. She’s never been, you know.”

“Really?” Candace settled herself into the rose colored arm chair near the bed.

I nodded. “Yeah, so she’s excited. You should call them and tell ‘em to stop by on the way home. I bet they’d love to visit and see your new home.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” some look I couldn’t distinguish passed over her eyes, “I’m going to be really busy with work and Grayson will be in and out with traveling back to New York.”

“That must be hard, huh.”

“What? Work?”

“No,” I shook my head, “Grayson going back and forth between Phoenix and New York.”

“Oh,” she nodded and her shoulders sank some, “yeah, it wasn’t what I had in mind when I was offered the promotion.”

“What did you have in mind? If I may ask.”

Candace brushed some dark hair from her face. “I don’t know, I guess I thought Grayson might try to find a job out here. It’s hard to only see your husband on the weekends.”

I noted the sadness in her eyes and felt my heart go out to my wonderful sister-in-law. “Have you talked to him about it?”

“Talk until I’m blue in the face.” She gave a low chuckle and wiped at the corner of her eyes. “It always ends in an argument. He loves his job and has worked hard to get there and thinks it’s unfair of me to ask him to leave it behind so I can have a promotion.”

“Well, he has a point, but you do too. That’s a hard choice to have to make.”

“I know,” she sniffed and cleared her throat, “but you don’t need to hear about my problems. You’re out here for a fun visit, I’m sorry.”

“Oh, gosh, Candace, don’t apologize. You’re family and if something’s upsetting you, I want you to feel like you can talk to me about it.”

She studied me a moment before nodding. “I appreciate that. Maybe tomorrow before we head to the park you and I can get in some girl time. I’ll ask Grayson to take Alex to the golf course; Alex likes golf, right?”

I chuckled. “He loves it. I couldn’t get him off the course our last day in Hawaii. I thought I was going to have to leave without him.”

“Aww, that’s funny.” She sighed and smiled brightly at me. “I’m glad you’re doing well again, Morgan. Alex seems really good for you.”

I couldn’t help the grin that covered my face. “Thank you; we’re really good for each other.”

“It sure looks that way. I haven’t seen you this happy or at peace in a long, long time.”

“It’s amazing what being in love can do.”

“It sure is.” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes and I wondered if she and Grayson were having more problems than she let on.


“Are you sure you’re going to be okay spending the morning with my brother?”

Alex looked to me as he tied his shoes. “I’ll be just fine, sweetheart. That’s the third time you’ve asked me that.” He chuckled and smoothed the leg of his jean down over the top of his shoe. “Do you not want me to go?”

“No, I do,” I sighed, “I just want to make sure you’re okay with it.”

“Of course, I’m okay.” He stood then crossed the room and kissed my forehead. “I’ll be just fine.”

“Good.” I sighed and wrapped my arms around his waist, resting my head against his chest. It was Saturday morning and Alex and I were preparing to part ways for a couple hours; he with my brother on the golf course and I with Candace where we’d do a little shopping then have lunch. We had planned to meet back up with the men around two then head on over to the park for the rest of the day.

Alex kissed my head and hugged me close. “Have a good time with your sister-in-law.”

“I’m gonna try. Good luck with your game.” I smirked up at him. “Kick my brother’s ass all over that course.”

He chuckled. “I’m gonna try. A good luck kiss?”

“Oh, but of course.” Then I leaned up and met his mouth, kissing him with a softness that had a bit of ‘oomph’.

“Why is it that every time I come into the room, you two are making out?”

We broke apart to find my brother had joined us in the great room. I chuckled. “You mean, you don’t go around kissing Candace every chance you get?”

“Not when we have company.”

“That’s a shame.” Alex shook his head then kissed my cheek. “Have fun with Candace.”

“Thank you.” I gave him a quick kiss to the lips then turned to my brother. “Are you guys off?”

Grayson nodded. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

“Let’s roll then.” Alex pulled back from me and took up his sunglasses and ball cap from where he’d set them earlier.

I wished them both luck then watched as they finally headed from the house and toward my brother’s black Escalade; brand new, not even a month old.

After closing the door, I headed off in search of Candace, finding her emptying the dishwasher. “Here you are.”

She looked to me, putting up some plates in the cabinet. “Did the guys get off okay?”

“Sure did.”

“Nice. When do you want to head out?”

I shrugged and slipped up onto a stool across the counter from where she was working. “Whenever you’re ready to.”

“Okay, I just want to empty the dishwasher then load it with the breakfast dishes.”

“No problem, do you want any help?”

She shook her head, some of her dark hair falling from the clip she held it back with and framing her face. “You just sit there and keep me company.”

“I can do that.” I leaned forward some and propped my chin up with my hand, watching her work. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, hon.”

“Is Grayson upset that Alex and I are here this weekend?”

“What?” Her eyes shifted to me. “What makes you think he’s upset?”

I shrugged. “Just a vibe. He hasn’t seemed very happy to see us and he’s been rather short and kind of snappy. Alex and I were kissing and he made it sound like we shouldn’t even be touching because he could see it.”

Candace frowned. “I’m sorry, Morgan, he’s just…” she sighed and closed the silverware drawer, “he’s dealing with a lot and he’s been really stressed out lately. I’m sure he’s glad you’re here.”

“If you guys are dealing with so much, we didn’t have to come. You could have told me and I would have understood.”

“I know.” She sighed and began to load the breakfast dishes. “I wanted you to come out here though, I thought maybe if we had family visit then it’d start to feel like home. And I miss having people I know out to see me.”

“This move was pretty hard on you, wasn’t it?”

“I didn’t think it would be. I thought we’d get a place out here, Grayson could find a company to work at; he’s so talented and successful, and we’d share a life together. But he hardly wants to be out here and when he does come, he’s sore and short tempered,” as she spoke, she tucked the dishes into the proper locations in the dishwasher, keeping herself busy and not looking my way.

“Have you talked to him about it?”

“He doesn’t want to talk. I ask what’s wrong and he tells me he’s just tired or stressed from work.”

That made me frown. Grayson had always been head over heels in love with Candace and to hear that he was distancing himself from her was sad. “I’m sorry, Candace. Maybe you just need to put your foot down and call him on his bullcrap. I had to do that with Alex.”

“Alex has bullcrap?”

I chuckled low. “Loads of it. We had a pretty rough go for awhile.”

She made a face and gently slid the racks back into the dishwasher, lifting the cover and closing it securely. “That’s not good.

“He has some issues, but we’re working through them and things are great again.”

“Good for you.” She washed her hands at the sink then dried them with a dishtowel. “I need to talk to Grayson again; make him tell me what’s going on. Though you know your brother, the more you push the harder he pushes back.”

“I’m so sorry, Candace.”

“It’s not your fault, but I appreciate your sympathy.” She sent me an endearing smile. “But you didn’t come out here to hear my problems. What do you say to forgetting all the drama for awhile and doing what girls do best; shop?”

“You’re my sister-in-law, Candace, you can tell me anything. So, let’s go find some sales and then later, if you’d like, we can chat more.”

“I’d like that.” She took up her sunglasses and handbag from the counter. “I think they were having a shoe sale at Aldo, do you wanna go check it out?”

“Ooh shoes.”

She chuckled. “I guess that answers my question.”

“You know me and shoes.”

“Oh, I certainly do; but does Alex?”

“If he doesn’t, he will after this weekend. You let me loose in a shoe store and we’re liable to have to ship my stuff back to Cali.”

Candace laughed and together we headed from the kitchen.


“So, you had a good time today?” Alex questioned me later that night, once we were back from the park and in our guestroom.

I looked over to where he was lounging on the bed. “I did; though I think I bought too much stuff.”

He chuckled and surveyed the corner of the room where I had stacked the shopping bags. “Think it’ll all fit into the SUV?”

“We’ll find out.” I finished taking my jewelry off then slipped up next to him on the bed. “Candace was telling me that she wants to take us to brunch tomorrow.”

Alex slipped his arm around me and snuggled me to his side. “That sounds nice.”

“She said the restaurant is new and they have the best breakfast food she’s had in a long time. Which says a lot when it’s my sister-in-law; she’s not big on breakfast at all.”

“We’ll have to check it out.”

I kissed his cheek. “Think you’ll be up and ready to go by 10:30?”

“That depends on if you let me sleep tonight.”

One hand snaked down and squeezed my rear and I giggled low at the smirk in his eyes. “I’ll letcha sleep.”


I laughed and gently nudged his chest. “Hush, we have to behave ourselves.”

“And why is that?”

“Because we’re guests here, besides, they might hear us.”

He chuckled. “Okay, they probably would; you do get very vocal.”

I shook my head and pulled away, sitting up and straightening the blankets. “Did you and Grayson get along well enough today?”

“As well as could be expected. I think he’s got a lot on his mind.”

“I’m sorry it wasn’t a great day. He and Candace are having some problems with the whole New York and Phoenix thing.”

“Oh hey,” he reached and took hold of my arm, gently tugging me back to him, “it’s okay, baby. I was just fine.

“Good.” I sighed and smoothed a hand along his side. “I just feel so horrible for them both. That’s got to be hard; to be so far away from each other all the time.”

Alex tilted his head and peered down at me. “Long distance relationships are hard, they’re very hard.”

“I’m glad we aren’t long distance.” I met his gaze then frowned at the expression on his face. “What?”

He wet his bottom lip in a hesitant manner. “Things might seem kind of long distance once I start recording then touring again.”

“Well, when is that going to be?”

“I’m not sure. We’re still trying to work out a schedule. We’ll probably start recording within the next couple months.”


“But hey,” he tightened his embrace around me and offered a reassuring smile, “we’ll be okay. Most of our recording is done in LA and once we start the tour, I’m gonna take you with me as much as I can.”

I smiled at that. “That sounds exciting. I can’t wait to see you perform.”

“Ooh, I could perform for you right now.”

I laughed as he hugged me tight to his chest and rolled me to my back. “I meant on stage!”

Alex chuckled and wiggled his body against mine. “You can be my stage.”

His actions elicited giggles and I pushed at his shoulders. “You are terrible.”

“I prefer to look at it like I’m in love.”

I responded with more giggles then smoothed a hand to his head and brought it down to mine, silencing us both with a kiss.