Monster 30-39

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Chapter Thirty

Nick practically ran to the door of the house, ahead of Melanie. Melanie was yelling at him to wait, but all the way there, he had imagined Trent alone with a “girl” and he was going crazy.

Busting through the door, Nick saw Trent passed out the couch; the smell of liquor overwhelmed his senses. He called out for anyone else to hear. Melanie walked in, and upon seeing her father, she screamed out “TRENT!”

Running straight to him, she didn’t notice Nick checking the other rooms. What did he do with her?

Returning, he found Melanie cradling her father, crying. “What’s wrong with him?”

With a sneer, Nick looked at the evidence, could Melanie really be this blind? “He’s out cold from drinking.”

“We need to get him up. Can you go…make some tea or coffee or something?” Nick wanted to say no, but he saw the pleading in Melanie’s eyes, and agreed.

Walking into the kitchen, he started the coffee maker. He fingered the pills in his pocket, wondering if he should take another dose. He had just taken one at the start of dinner so maybe it hadn’t had time to kick in, but tonight was going to be obviously stressful. He had to tell Melanie the truth, and he might need a higher dosage after all.

You idiot, you should have immediately checked on Trent after the phone call. Nick cursed himself for not thinking about Trent’s mood, especially if he were drunk. Upon hearing Trent had a girl in the house, and he was absolutely sure she was a girl, he would probably take things to a whole new level because of the threat Nick had manufactured through that earlier phone call with Rich.

Once the coffee began brewing, he went back to Melanie and her father. Trent was finally coming to, and hearing the man’s voice made Nick’s blood boil. The guy didn’t deserve to live. He had killed Melanie’s mother either to help pay off gambling debts or finance a prostitution ring. It didn’t matter which, to Nick, he was the worst kind of scum.

Trent looked up, seeing his daughter, he sneered, “You! What are you…”

“Quiet, Daddy, it’s ok. Nick, help me sit him up.” Nick didn’t move. Every fiber of his being was rooted in hating Trent, and he would be damned before he lifted one finger to help that monster.

“Nick! We need help here.”

“No, I’m not going to help.” Nick watched as Trent’s eyes followed his voice. He glared at Nick who gladly returned it.

“Oh, you…how dare you come into my house!”

Nick shook his head. Of course Trent would be more upset about that then Nick seeing his only daughter. Not wasting time, he asked, “Where is she?”

“What?” Who?” Trent still sounded drunk.

“The girl you brought back. Where’d you find her? The college? The streets?”

“Nick!” He ignored his girlfriend, he knew she was confused and he couldn’t really blame her. All this was going to crush her but he should have told her a long time ago.

Trent laughed, “Shut up, Nick. You’ve done more then enough harm as it is. It’s time for it to stop.”

How dare this man? “No it’s time for you to stop. You’re going to go to jail. Finally.”

Trent was getting up now while Melanie ignored their words. She decided it was better to just make sure her father was physically alright, and deal with what they were saying later.

But Trent had other plans. He stood up, though quite unstable, Melanie felt the need to stand near him to keep him supported.

By now, Nick was convinced Trent was dangerous. “Melanie, get away from him.”

But her father had other ideas. “What? No, no, Melanie loves her father, don’t you sweetheart?”

He pulled her close to him, an embrace that to Melanie seemed affectionate while to Nick looked threatening.

“Let her go!”

Melanie protested, obviously looking like Nick had lost his mind. This misinterpretation of the situation only annoyed Nick further. Trent laughed. “You stupid fool. Do you really think you have anything on me?”

“I know I do.” He was about to tell Trent he had a tape, but the older man turned around. Is he hurting her? He looks like he’s twisting her arm. He lunged forward, telling Trent to let her go. His momentum forced them all forward into the couch.

From there it went so fast. Melanie screamed, Nick believed it was due to Trent’s own actions. He grabbed at Trent’s shoulders. Trent grabbed something off the side table. Using his backswing, he hurled it at Nick, who barely managed to move out of the way. Unfortunately, Melanie was next in line.

“Melanie!” Nick screamed as he saw her fall. Letting her father go, Nick held her, she was unconcious but still breathing. She had blood on the back of her head. Glancing up, he watched as Trent stood over them, sneering.

“You did that on purpose!” Nick accused.

“What? Hit my own daughter with this?” He held up the weapon, some kind of large knickknack. Nick still couldn’t tell what. “No, it was meant for you.”

Nick watched as Trent let it go. It was so heavy it broke through the glass coffee table, breaking it into several large blades. Nick turned his attention back to Melanie, who was still unconscious. Worried, he asked Trent to call for an ambulance.

“You’re the big hero. You call for one.” Then he heard Trent’s laughter, “My poor daughter, finding her hero in someone as pathetic as you.”

Nick reached for his cell phone, “You’re going to pay for this, for everything.”

Trent seemed to remember their earlier conversation and looked back at Nick. He was obviously sobering up. “Nick, about Celia. Listen, you don’t understand what happened, it wasn’t my fault.”

“Please, we need an ambulance here…” Nick ignored Trent, he got up, he had to get her away from this despicable man. He was telling the address of where they were. Hanging up, he looked at Trent who was rubbing his face.

Nick finally addressed him back, “I understand enough. You arranged for Celia to be killed…”

“I didn’t want to, I…she had to be stopped. She was going to tell everyone!”

Nick was confused. What would she tell? “What are you talking about? I’m sure everyone knew of your gambling, you were so addicted…”

“Not the gambling, no, it was, the girls.”

“Your hookers?” Nick spit out. “Girls you forced into…”

“No, not really. I mean, they were getting good money. And it’s not like their careers would be anything to speak of. Their grades were awful and they just weren’t cut out…”

This was worse then he thought, “Oh my God. You were pimping out college students!”

“It didn’t start like that! You make it sound so seedy, but Celia saw it that way too. She was such a bitch. I hated her, but everyone knew she had my daughter. I could have cared less, but my reputation would have suffered if I hadn’t asked to marry…”

“You bastard.”

“Those were Celia’s last words to me when she walked out of the house. I didn’t know she would be home so soon to see me with the girl. I just…I couldn’t let her tell anyone. My career would have been ruined! I had to stop her…and the mob wanted to be paid so there was this deal…”

Nick looked on horrified. “You make me sick. My only regret is how heartbroken Melanie will be when she finds out, you killed her mother, you pimped her and other GIRLS out to pay for your debts and that murder. You are the most despicable monster that has ever set foot in Salem…”

Trent kneeled over his daughter. “She doesn’t have to know. She doesn’t! You can just tell her it was an accident and I covered it up. And then the authorities…”

Nick didn’t like Trent being so close to Melanie, but there was no way he would cover anything up. “Never, you bastard. And get away from her!”

Nick watched in terror as Trent leaned over his daughter, nodding his head frantically, shouting “She can’t know, I’ve worked so hard for her not to. I’d rather her die then to know…”

In horror, Nick watched Trent reach down to grab something, he couldn’t see what. Images flashed through his mind, Melanie was already hurt, Trent was capable of anything. Anger and fear surged through him. Looking down he saw a large piece of glass shine on the carpet. It was broken off into a point. Grabbing it and ignoring the cuts it made in his own hand, Nick ran to Trent.

He didn’t even feel it go in. He noticed the older man go limp. He was now laying on Melanie. Nick pulled him off, letting him roll over, his only concern was what he had been doing to his girlfriend.

Nick didn’t see anything that showed Trent hurting Melanie, and to his relief, she was waking up. He smiled, everything would be alright. She’d just have to understand.

Melanie eye woke up to see Nick, holding her hand. Feeling something wet she looked down and saw his hand was all cut up. “Nick! What…”

Glancing over, she saw her father. His face was to her. His eyes were wide open but lifeless. He had a look of terror on his face. She started to call out his name but stopped when she saw blood seeping from underneath him. Realizing what happened, she screamed.

Chapter 31

Hope turned off the car engine and took a moment to look through the window. It was cloudy outside, looked like it could rain anytime, but the siren lights illuminated Trent’s house. He was dead and Nick Fallon killed him.

Hope returned to the police force not long ago, though it wasn’t in her family blood like that of her husband’s, she still felt an inexplicable pull. Tonight, however, she opted to not come as an officer. Professionally that was probably a mistake. This was the biggest case to hit the small town that month, but she felt a huge conflict of interest since it was Nick who was the suspect.

Getting out of the car, she headed to the ambulance. She saw him there, getting his hand tended to. She didn’t know the specifics yet. Bo had called her and then asked if they should call Chelsea. Hope didn’t think so, at least not yet. If anything happened to Melanie having Nick’s ex-girlfriend show up might be the worst thing they could do for him. Even if Melanie was fine, Chelsea no doubt would blame her and a fight could ensue.

Looking around, she saw Melanie who was also being treated but away from Nick. She was speaking to Bo who gave his wife a quick nod. Silent communication transferred, Hope knew Bo wanted Hope to be there with Nick before he officially got questioned.

As she reached Nick, an officer who obviously had been posted nearby her cousin began telling her the facts. “Ma’am, Mr. Fallon and Ms. Layton arrived on the scene about one hour ago, and they found the victim drunk and passed out…”

“Carter, I’m not here doing my job. I’m here for my family.”

Nick at this time had been going back and forth between Melanie and the ground. Hope wasn’t sure if he knew she arrived, but hearing her voice, he looked over. Guilt washed over her, she and Bo had told each other when Chelsea broke up with him, they still wanted to remain close but real life got in the way. Bo liked Nick very much, felt he was a good guy. Hope actually felt especially close to Nick, she presumed it was the family bond because they certainly hadn’t spent that much time together on their own. Last year when Chelsea and Nick were split, and he was taking care of those kids, he came over or called her often for advice. He reminded her so much of his mother, Jessica.

As she sat down next to Nick, she put her arm around Nick. He smiled, “So you aren’t taking my statement? Nobody has done that yet.”

“I’m not here as a cop.”

“Oh, Hope,” He said plainly, “You can’t just turn it off. If I told you I killed Trent in cold blood, you could get into trouble if you didn’t come forward.”

She smiled, Nick sounded like he was worried about her, not himself. How typical. “You didn’t kill him in cold blood.”

“How do you know?”

She shrugged, “I know you.”

He laughed at that, “I know me too, but I would never have guessed this would happen.”

“What did happen?”

Nick sighed. “I thought Trent was going to kill Melanie.”

He said it very intensely and Hope just knew he was telling the truth. “Do you want to start at the beginning of the night?”

“Trent tried calling Melanie earlier. He didn’t leave a message. We decided to…check on him before heading back to our apartment. Melanie had said he had brought home a ‘girl’ beforehand. Personally I think it sounded wrong and I was worried about her.”

Of course you were. “Where is she?”

He gestured to the house. “When we got here, she was gone and he was out cold. He had been drinking a lot. Melanie began reviving him, I made coffee. Then…”

“Then?” Hope could see a moment of anger on Nick’s face. His body tightened as well but he overcame it.

“Then…I accused him of doing something to that girl. He’s a real monster, Hope. Melanie can’t see, but he’s…”

“A jerk, I know.”

Again, a look of anger passed over Nick. The look was so intense she was a bit taken aback. Just then, Nick yelped in pain as the paramedic was finishing up. He apologized to the younger man. “Sorry, we can give you something for the pain if you want.”

“Actually I have some pain pills, if I could just have those…” He replied but Hope didn’t hear the rest. Bo had made eye contact with his wife and she got up to meet him, he leaving Melanie on the porch.

“So, how’s Nick?” Bo asked.

“He’s hurt his hand. He says he thought Trent was trying to kill Melanie.”

Bo asked. “You believe him?”

“Yes!” Hope answered, annoyed. “Of course I bel-wait, why? Does Melanie say different?”

Bo shook his head, “She didn’t see it. Nick and Trent got into a fight, and she got knocked out. When she came to, Trent was dead, and Nick was over her with blood on his hands.”

Hope wanted to ask how she got knocked out, but then decided not to. She wanted to be here for Nick, clearly he wasn’t done with his story, and she felt like talking to her husband who was the chief investigator was wrong in this context.

“Well, let me get back to him.” Hope said, ending the conversation. She recognized Bo didn’t exactly agree, but that was tough. Family came first.

As soon as she got back to Nick, he began asking questions. “Is Melanie ok? She hit her head. They need to check for a concussion. How is she?”

“Melanie is fine. They are taking care of her.” Hope took Nick’s good hand and squeezed it. “Now go on with what happened.”

Nick kept staring at Melanie who was looking back into the house. “Trent grabbed Melanie, threateningly, and I went after him. I think…I don’t know, we landed on the couch and Trent grabbed something off the table and swung it, missing me but hitting Melanie.

“I was shocked then, she was unconscious and bleeding. God, that shouldn’t have happened. None of this should have, it’s not even what I was worried about…”

He stopped again. Hope was confused on what Nick was saying. She squeezed his hand again; Nick continued to look at Melanie. “Trent and I yelled at each other, and I thought he was going to hurt her. I grabbed something shiny off the ground and ran towards him…”

Nick had tears in his eyes, and Hope’s heart went out to him. Nick hated Trent, that was clear but he was in his own personal hell for taking a life. The life of his girlfriend’s father.

“I didn’t think about it, I just had to get him off of Melanie. She was still out, she never saw him like that. She never saw him acting like his true self.”

Hope nodded, “Well, now that he’s gone, she won’t have to.”

Nick’s head whipped around, looking at Hope in the most intense way. “What did you say?”

“Uh, I…” Hope stammered, Nick sounded like a completely different person now.

Before she could really answer, Bo walked up quietly. “Nick, I’m, um, I’m here to get your statement now.”

As Nick began retelling his story to her husband, Hope got up to make some phone calls. First was Maggie who promised to call Nick’s parents now. She hung up then and called Max, knowing Melanie needed someone there as well. As she stood looking at the phone, she wondered if she should call Chelsea. Hope knew her stepdaughter would want to know and come, but she worried that things could get worse. Glancing at Nick who was still talking to Bo, Hope noted how absolutely vulnerable he looked and what he needed the most was a fully supportive and loving friend. Unfortunately, Hope knew, that didn’t describe Chelsea.

Chapter 32

Chelsea paced outside the pub furiously. How could she not hear about this? Last night, she had been at the library working on something for one of her classes and she returned late to Victor’s house. It was only this morning she heard about Trent’s death and Nick’s part in it. It was actually all over the news. Though the library obviously didn’t have TV sets blaring for everyone to hear, her cell phone was on. Not one person tried to call.

Chelsea heard her name and turned to see Hope and her father approach. They looked as upset as she was, but Chelsea knew they obviously had a longer time to digest the news. Hope reached out her arms to hug the younger woman, but Chelsea stopped her, “How could you not call me?”

The couple was expecting her accusatory tone and Hope answered. “We let you know this morning.”

“I already heard about it on the news! There I sat with Grampa and Philip and the news report today is them saying Trent was killed by the man I-“ Chelsea stopped herself in time. It was going to come out so easily. Even after all this time she still loved Nick and “dating the field” just wasn’t changing that.

Bo hugged his daughter, while Chelsea caught sight of Hope’s look . Her stepmom didn’t miss the slip up and she colored. Before she knew it, tears filled in Chelsea’s eyes.

When her father pulled away, Bo said, “Sweetie, last night Nick was a mess. A real mess. And the last thing he needed was…”

Chelsea felt true misery when she finished her dad’s sentence, “Me.”

“Oh Chelsea,” he was about to hug her again but two figures approaching stopped them. It was Nick and Maggie. Chelsea’s eyes widened at the sight of him. He looked terrible, obviously he got no sleep the night before and there were bags under his eyes. He wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone, he just stared at the ground. Chelsea thought he almost looked angry.

“Hi, Nick,” she greeted, feeling lame.

He remained quiet but Maggie answered, “Hi, Chelsea. We, um, decided to get some fresh air.”

It whole scene was odd. Nick rubbed his chin, still staring down at the ground. Chelsea went to approach him but as soon as she got near him, he barreled past her and inside. She looked at Maggie who looked like she was about to cry. “We’ve had a difficult night.”

Hope nodded. “I can imagine.”

“No, no, you can’t,” Maggie said. “This is…I don’t know what to think of this. When you guys dropped him off at my house last night he was withdrawn. He said he was in pain, so he took one of those pain pills that you gave back to him.”

Bo replied, “Well, it was a prescription for the shooting in France. I mean, he should have finished them long ago but I understand he was trying not to take them.”

“Well, the bottle is nearly empty actually. I asked him if I could see it, I was curious on the drug and he exploded. I mean, true rage. It honestly scared me. And I think, it scared him too.”

“That doesn’t sound like Nick…”” Chelsea heard her parents keep talking with Maggie. Her eyes remained on Nick inside. She didn’t need to hear them say he was acting strange. He’d been acting strange for awhile, she remembered his blow up last week, though at the time she blamed herself for it. Watching him now, he seemed completely out of it.

The pub was buzzing. Caroline approached him, patted him on his back and he still didn’t respond much at all. Chelsea’s heart lurched at the sight. Nick must have ordered something as Caroline went to the bar. Max came out and saw his friend, walking over to him. It was just for a minute then he walked away and Chelsea knew Nick was telling everyone he wanted to remain alone.

Opening the door, she walked inside. Never in her life did she want to go to Nick more now, but she felt an instinct to keep a distance and just watch. Now that she was closer, she could see he had tension in his shoulder. Caroline then brought him what he asked for, some water. He reached into his pocket and got out a pill bottle. She observed as he took something and closed it. He then lowered one of his arms and was making a fist. Everything about his form told Chelsea he was holding something in, and whatever it was, it was tearing him apart.

Just then Melanie came down the stairs. She must have spent the night with Max, Chelsea thought, realizing without Trent or Nick, Melanie didn’t have any other place to go. Her appearance was dressed simply, in a sweatsuit with her hair up in a ponytail. Her face looked as tired as Nick’s, but upon seeing her boyfriend, Melanie had a shadow cross her face. Then it softened. Chelsea could plainly see her rival was having an inward tug of war about how to approach Nick. Finally, Melanie did walk up.

He had obviously not seen her until she sat down. Chelsea could tell Nick’s body relaxed. Instead of feeling jealousy, she felt some relief. She couldn’t stand Melanie but if her presence could provide some comfort for Nick, then Chelsea could accept it.

She took a nearby booth as she continued to watch them. She knew it was probably wrong, but her protectiveness of Nick was not going to go away, and the least she could do was make sure he was ok from afar.

At least he’s speaking now. Both he and Melanie were talking, Melanie was obviously asking questions and Nick was giving her short answers. Melanie wasn’t happy with them; Chelsea could see her expression changing and anger was showing through. She wished she could see Nick’s face. He reached out his hand to take Melanie’s but she pulled way and said something very quickly. He looked down, and Chelsea felt a surge of pain go through her. As if on cue, memories of similar scenes between she and Nick popped in her head. Most of them were of her being in Melanie’s place and refusing affection. Feeling tears come down her face, she used a napkin to wipe them away.

She had to take her eyes off of them to do so. It was just a few moments. But it was enough. In an instant, a crash got Chelsea’s attention; she turned to see the most startling scene before her. Bo and Hope ran in at that moment with Maggie just behind. Bo yelled, “Nick!” It was all he could get out.

Before them, the small table between Melanie and Nick was tossed aside along with almost everything that had been on it now on the floor. In his hand, Nick had one of the table knives, right next to Melanie’s throat.

Chapter 33

Nick felt himself ready to explode. Since Hope had dropped Nick off at Aunt Maggie’s the night before, he still felt on edge. All thoughts led back to the event surrounding Trent’s death, and every time, Nick could feel the resentment, the frustration and, of course, the rage, over this terrible man who had managed to get away with so much through his life. He was glad Trent was dead, but not over the way it happened, and Nick especially worried what Melanie must be going through. Up until just a day before, Nick’s biggest worry was how to break it to his girlfriend that her father was a monster in the truest sense, but now that he was dead and specifically because he tried to hurt her, she must be devastated.

Nick wanted to talk to her last night, but Hope kept insisting it was better if he didn’t, that Max was taking her home and he just needed to concentrate on his own story. Nick didn’t understand, Melanie must have so many questions. At Aunt Maggie’s, Nick could replay the events over and over, but it was difficult to put thought to voice, especially for Maggie’s sake.

“Do you need anything? I bet you’re hungry.”

“No, I’m not.” Eating was the last thing Nick wanted. Maggie started preparing something anyway, her back was to him, so she couldn’t see the glare he was giving her. “I said, I wasn’t hungry.”

Nick scowled when she continued working, apparently nobody listened to him. Grabbing the edge of the table, he stared at the pattern on her tablecloth.

“How’s your hand?” Maggie asked. She placed some muffins on the table in front of Nick. Their smell reminded him how he was not hungry. Maggie asked again if he was all right.

“I just murdered someone. How do you think I am?” Nick made eye contact with her; she quickly looked away.

“Well, here’s some tea too. I had already brewed it.” She then poured him a cup.

Seeing the beverage Nick remembered his pills. For a time the police had confiscated them, they had to verify the pills in the bottle matched the prescription. Of course, they were actually the ones Jimmy got for him, but they looked the same. There was some concern he should have been through them, but Hope backed up that Nick had not immediately taken them since arriving back to the States. Now Nick was relieved he had dodged a bullet and no one knew he had grabbed an illegal refill.

Using the tea, Nick took a pill. Glancing up, he noticed Maggie watching him with a frown. Extreme irritation rushed through him, and he gritted his teeth, “What?”

“What is that you’re taking?”

“It’s my pills.”

“Pills for what?” She approached. Nick’s good hand tightened around the bottle to keep her from seeing it.

“It was what they prescribed from the shooting. I had some left over, so I’m using them to help with the pain in my hand.”

“You had them with you? Why?”

Nick didn’t answer, he was afraid if he opened his mouth, he would shout at her. Keeping her eyes on the pill bottle, Maggie reached out to take the pills. Nick had enough.

“Will you just leave me alone? I said I didn’t want anything to eat, I said I didn’t want anything to drink, and I told you where they came from!” The yell was enough to make her jump back, but Nick took the next step by taking the muffins and throwing them off the table. They hit the floor with a crash.

Both stood staring at the broken plate. Maggie’s face was filled with terror. Nick then ran off to the spare bedroom and slammed the door. It wasn’t Maggie’s reaction that scared him, but the fact that Nick didn’t want to stop with throwing the plate.

Now it was the next morning, and Nick was only slightly calmer. He apologized to his aunt, but things were strained. He hoped heading up to the pub with her would help relieve the tension, but so far it didn’t.

Standing outside, he had to keep his eyes to the ground, seeing Bo and Hope reminded him of Trent’s death and he could feel that same anger building. When Chelsea approached, he marched past her, if he had a short temper with Maggie, no doubt Chelsea would send him over the edge too.

Inside, Nick sat down when Caroline asked him what he wanted. He replied, “Water.”

The pub was busy as usual, and the noise was giving him a headache. From the corner of his eye, he saw Max approach. Nick hoped he would tell him about Melanie, but instead his friend just asked how he was doing.

“I’m fine.” Is he not going to tell me? Doesn’t he know I’m worried about her?

“Do you need anything?”

Will people stop asking me that? “No, I’m fine, I’d just like to sit here a bit.”

Max gave him a funny look and walked away. Nick received his water and took another pill. He realized there were only 2 left. He needed more but how was he going to contact Jimmy when he had such legal troubles? Trent continues making trouble.

He was so lost in thought, he didn’t even see Melanie approach. She looked ok. Tired, naturally, but she was fine physically, obviously the head injury wasn’t serious. Why didn’t she try to call? Wasn’t she worried about me?

“Nick.” She looked confused.

She’s so worked up about her father, she’s just besides herself. How could he be such rotten father? “Melanie, how are you doing? Is your head alright?”

“It’s fine, Nick. But I need to know…”

He nodded sympathetically; she needed to know what other vile things her father had done. Nick hated to have to tell her this, she didn’t even know about Celia’s murder yet. “I know, I can tell you all that I can.”

He reached out his hand then, but she yanked hers away. Nick felt confused. Her voice turned icy, “Why did you do it? Why did you kill my father?”

“What?” Does she not know?

“They said you told them you were worried he was going to hurt me. Nick, that isn’t true. What really happened?”

He was astonished. He couldn’t believe she doubted him. After all he had done for her. Risked for her. “You saw how Trent was, he was drunk, he was dangerous…”

“Dangerous? Nick, he could barely stand up…”

“He hit you.” Nick said under strained breath.

“I was knocked out, after you charged the both of us.”

“What?” Nick couldn’t believe it. Was she really suggesting that he…?

“I’ve ran through the situation over and over. I know you didn’t like Trent, but what would make you…I thought I knew you…”

He glared as she babbled. She was hurting and confused, but Nick felt no pity, just anger. Through gritted teeth, he said, “Melanie, Trent was trying to hurt you.”

“He would never hurt me…”

He laughed at that, “He already has, over and over, you just didn’t know it. How can you be so blind to not see…”

Now Melanie lost her temper, “I’ll tell you how I’m blind. I was blind to you! I thought finally I wasn’t dating jerks anymore, but a great guy. After last night,” she had tears in her eyes, “I can’t…it’s like you became a monster.”

The word monster struck the nerve Nick had been trying to control. Before he knew it, he was holding Melanie by the hair with one hand, and using the other to hold a knife under her chin. Staring at the knife, he leaned in just above it, with his lips on her cheek, “How dare you? How do you not know? HOW??”

Then, he heard his name. It was like a switch flipped, and now Nick was back in full control. Pulling back, he first saw Melanie’s face. The look she was giving him, it wasn’t just fear, it was pure terror. And it was aimed at him.

Nick dropped the knife, letting her go. She backed up to her brother Max who looked more astonished than anything else. Nick looked around slowly, the whole pub was staring at him. The strangers were scooting away. He saw one woman hold her children, pushing them behind her. Nick realized she was shielding them from him.

Then his eyes fell on Bo, Hope and Maggie. Nick felt like someone hit him in the gut when he realized they were afraid of him too! There was no mistaking that look in their eyes. Hope kept trying to say something but she kept stopping. Nick wished he could fall through the floor never to be seen again. He knew Chelsea was to the left of them, was she scared of him too? He couldn’t take the chance to look.

Feeling sick, he ran outside, just to the parking lot. He bent over to vomit. Nothing came up. All their faces were still before him: Melanie, Max, the mother, Bo, Hope, Maggie. Tears came…he realized how easy it could have been to kill her. He could have killed her.

“Nick!” He heard her voice. It was Chelsea’s. She followed him outside.

“Go away.” He said. God, what she must think of me. She is probably so glad now she broke up with me.

He felt her hand on his back, she wasn’t leaving. “Nick, please, look at me. What happened?”

“She said I was a monster…” She was right. I didn’t know it but she was right.

Chelsea walked around to face Nick but he still couldn’t bear to look at her so he closed his eyes. Images of Trent sneering appeared and he jumped.

“Nick, what is it?” Chelsea cried, “You’re shaking.”

Opening his eyes, he know could see Maggie’s face from the night before. He came just as close to attacking her, he realized that now. It was just the two of them, he could have killed her.

“I killed someone. I thought he was…” Nick suddenly wondered, was Trent trying to hurt Melanie? He hated the man, maybe he tricked himself into…

“Please, Nick, look at me. Please.” Nick did, but it didn’t take long for the faces from inside to appear again. They were scared of him.

“I thought he was trying to hurt her, I swear, I thought he was trying to hurt her…I never would want to hurt Melanie, or Maggie or anyone…”

Chelsea hugged him, “I know, I know you wouldn’t. It’s going to be ok, this is just stress and…”

Nick pushed her back. “I COULD HAVE KILLED HER!”

Just then, the door opened again. Melanie’s voice floated outside. “ARREST HIM!”

With all his might, Nick stood up and slowly turned to face Bo. The earlier fear in the older man’s eyes was gone now, just sadness in it’s place.

“Dad, you’re not going to arrest…”

Bo shook his head, “I’m sorry. I have to…she’s gonna press charges and…”

Nick had never seen Bo look more helpless. Nick walked towards him slowly, “It’s ok, Bo. You should arrest me. I want you to too.”

“No,” he heard Chelsea cry behind him.

“Nick Fallon, you’re under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon…” Nick didn’t hear the rest. The cuffs were put on and he was turned to face away from the pub. Nick was relieved, he was afraid to look inside, at their fear, disappointment and anger. Chelsea walked over to him, telling him it would be all right, but Nick tuned her out. He had to. Nothing was going to be the same again.

Chapter 34

Steve grinned as he watched the officer pace in front of Bo’s office for the tenth time. These guys were anything but subtle. None of them liked letting Steve sit in there, even though he was behaving himself and not rummaging around Bo’s desk like he really wanted to.

Steve’s PI business had been fairly slow the last few months, which had been surprisingly ok with him. It gave him more time to spend with his son, Joe, who was just about to become a toddler. This week, however, Steve got a new job with a local lady who wanted Steve to investigate the guy her daughter was seeing. Before he had children, he would have rolled his eyes at her over-protectiveness, but after the fiasco with Jeremy, Steve knew it was better to be safe then sorry.

“Oh, I didn’t know you were in here.”

Steve looked to see Philip standing before him. What was he doing here? “I’m waiting on Bo, what are you doing?”

Philip had files in his hands, “We had a theft at one of our warehouses and I needed to turn in the paperwork to Bo.”

Steve rolled his one eye, “Sure, a theft.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Philip glared back.

“Let’s just say I’d be shocked if you inventoried everything that had been in that warehouse.”

Steve could see Philip had inherited his father’s intense glare. The younger man replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I run a legal business.”

“Whatever, just don’t forget you have my daughter working for you now, and she needs to stay away from this side of the business.”

Steve saw Philip snarl at that, and he just knew he was going to have to punch him for whatever remark would come out of that mouth, but Philip never got the chance to retort, because of the raucous coming in.

Outside the common area, a commotion was stirring. Both men turned to see Bo, Nick, Chelsea, Hope, Maggie, Melanie and Max walking in.

Bo was closest to them, and they could hear him tell one of the officers to pull someone’s file. It took them a second to realize that Nick was in handcuffs.

“What the hell? What are you doing?” Steve said, storming out to get a closer look.

Bo didn’t look pleased to see his one-eyed friend, “Steve, what are you doing here?”

“Well I was on a business call for a client, but looks like I have something more pressing to investigate. Is Nick under arrest?”

Hope and Chelsea flanked Nick’s sides , neither taking their eyes off of him. Maggie was on her cell phone, apparently with Mickey trying to get him to the police station. The only person to answer was the one Steve didn’t know very well.

“Yea, he’s under arrest. They should have arrested him last night, but I guess in Salem you have to commit two crimes to be considered dangerous.” Melanie explained.

Philip was confused, and ignored the redhead, “I don’t understand, Chelsea, what’s going on?”

Chelsea was going to answer, but Nick stopped her. “I killed someone.”

Melanie felt that wasn’t enough, “He killed my father! In cold blood, then tried to cover saying he was gonna hurt me. This morning, he decided to take the rest of the family out by putting a knife to my throat. Is Max going to be next, Nick?”

Steve muttered, “Well, we knew about Trent and he probably deserved it. And just in the last minute I can see the appeal putting a knife to you, Ginger.”

“That’s Melanie, and who the hell are you?” By now Max took Melanie over to the side to calm her down.

Just then, an officer came and got Nick, taking him to booking. Chelsea didn’t want to let go but Hope put her arms around her stepdaughter, whispering for her to be strong for Nick. Nick said nothing as he walked out.

Maggie got off the phone then. “Ok, Mickey is on his way. He said to find out how much you think bail is going to be, Bo?”

Bo shrugged, “That’s hard to say, this isn’t exactly the first time he’s been here, what with the whole Willow issue last year.”

“Willow? Who is Willow?” Melanie asked.

Everyone ignored her, and Bo went on. “My guess is it’s going to be about $100,000 or more.”

Maggie shook her head, “We tied up all our extra cash to get the restaurant green. Even with a bail bondsman, I’m not sure we can get the money…”

“WHO IS WILLOW?”

Nobody wanted to answer, but finally Hope said, “She was a girl who tried to blackmail Nick over something. She accidentally got killed.”

“How?” Melanie asked. “And what would she be blackmailing him about?”

Chelsea spit back, “It was over something I did, ok? And…”

“Well, why am I not surprised?” Melanie said, and Hope’s gentle embrace turned into a hold to keep Chelsea from attacking Melanie. Melanie went on, ignoring Chelsea for now. “Now, how did she get killed?”

“She and Nick were struggling and she fell, hitting her head on a rock.” Maggie said.

Melanie’s eyes widened, “Oh my God, he killed her too!”

“No, it was an accident and he was like a zombie for weeks after that…he’s not a killer!” Chelsea cried, with Hope still holding on to her.

Melanie rolled her eyes, “I think today proved that completely wrong!”

“You little bitch, this would never have happened if you hadn’t gotten involved…”

“Bo!” Hope yelled while struggling with Chelsea, “Put Melanie and Max in your office.”

Bo, who had been standing around, still in a daze himself, realized his wife was right. Taking Melanie and her brother, he escorted them into his office. He stayed in there with them, presumably to get Melanie’s statement.

By now, Philip and Steve had left Bo’s office, Philip had grabbed his phone and was making a call. Steve asked Hope, “What is really going on?”

Letting Chelsea go, Hope sadly shook her head, “Honestly, I don’t know.”

Then Maggie stepped up, “Actually, I might have an idea. Chelsea, are these the pills he was prescribed in France?”

Chelsea took a look at them and shrugged. “I guess. It took him awhile to take them, but by the time he did, he and I weren’t on speaking terms anymore.”

Everyone looked at the pill bottle in question, then back to Maggie. She turned to Hope and said, “It’s Honazine, do you remember that?”

Hope didn’t at first. She shook her head, trying to remember. “No, it sounds familiar, but I don’t know…”

Maggie hinted, “Jessica.”

“Jessica?” Hope repeated. Then realization dawned, “Oh my God, those are the pills she was on when…”

Maggie nodded, “Yes, they were.”

Hope took the pill bottle from Maggie while everyone else looked confused. Chelsea looked to Steve for an explanation. He shrugged, “You got me. Who’s Jessica?”

Chelsea knew that answer at least. “Nick’s mother.”

Realizing they needed to fill everyone in, Maggie began, “Nick’s mother, Jessica, at one time had been prescribed this medication. She became hooked on the drugs. They wound up allowing her to…have a double life. I guess like a split personality.”

“What?” Both Chelsea and Steve said in unison.

“Jessica did overcome it, eventually, but the trouble they caused did result in tragedy. We were worried we wouldn’t get her back. I’m shocked Nick took the drugs since his mother went through…”

“He doesn’t know,” Chelsea said. “I can promise you, if Nick knew about this drug, he wouldn’t have taken it.”

Hope and Maggie looked to each other. “We need to get Jessica here.”

Maggie nodded, “I agree.”

Steve, Chelsea and now Philip, who was off his phone call, watched Maggie begin dialing. Steve put a protective arm around Chelsea, who was getting tears again. “Hey, it’s going to be alright. Nick will be fine. Do you want me to call Stephanie for you?”

“I already did, she’s on her way.” Philip said matter of factly. Both Chelsea and Steve looked at him like he suggested they call Justin Timberlake next. Steve’s look turned into a glare. Philip simply shrugged, “What? I could see my niece would need her best friend, plus I think Nick needs all the friends he has right now.”

“Thanks, Philip,” Chelsea said. She then turned to Hope, “I want to go to the bail hearing. Maggie doesn’t have to worry about the money. I have money Kate gave me last year which I can use for Nick’s bail.”

“Are you sure?”

She nodded, “About the only thing I am sure of.”

Steve hugged his niece again, worrying himself about Nick. Why do things like this always happen to good people? Why can’t they happen to somebody else? Steve ended his thoughts while glaring at Philip.

Chapter 35

Chelsea stood in the courtroom, waiting for Nick to arrive. She was angry it was the next day, that he had to spend the night there. The images of Nick sitting in a cell upset her and kept giving her nightmares. Her Dad told her they had kept Nick in his own cell and he was perfectly safe, but Chelsea now didn’t care how much it cost, she was going to get him out of this place.

Sitting besides her was Hope, Maggie and Kayla. Chelsea was surprised to see Kayla here. Her aunt told her that Stephanie asked her to be here, since she had to be at work. Chelsea was glad, the more people Nick could see in his corner the better.

The door opened and out came Nick. Chelsea was shocked to see him in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. He was unshaven and looked like he got no sleep. He did not seem happy to see them, in fact, he looked fairly angry.

“What are you all doing here?” he demanded.

Maggie leaned forward, “Nick, we’re here for you.”

Nick didn’t answer her, he looked over all of them. When his eyes came to Chelsea, he scowled. “Shouldn’t you be out shopping or something? It’s nearly Halloween, you need a new outfit I’m sure.”

“Nick,” Chelsea said, feeling shaken. She expected a depressed or miserable Nick, not an aggressive one. “I wouldn’t…listen, we’re going to get you out, Halloween or not.”

He actually grinned then. For a second Chelsea thought his spirits were lifting and the old Nick was returning, but then he spoke. “Think Salem Correctional will allow me to keep this getup? It’s quite a difference from last year’s costume. But then, I think killing people will knock anyone’s halo off.”

Chelsea was about to argue, but the judge walked in and they all rose. Chelsea noticed how slowly Nick turned to face the judge. If one didn’t know any better, it looked like he was disrespecting him. But that wasn’t like Nick. As his lawyer, Mickey was besides him, and after proceedings started, he immediately began arguing with prosecution about allowing him out on bail.

Chelsea couldn’t see Nick’s face as he was directly behind him, but he looked like he wasn’t paying attention to anything. It didn’t take long, but bail was set at only $50,000, which was perfect as Chelsea certainly had enough.

Nick turned to leave, believing everything was over until he heard Mickey ask for a psychological evaluation. Apparently he knew nothing of this, and stopped in his tracks. “What? No, I don’t need a…”

Mickey turned and told Nick to be quiet. The judge ordered it, and Nick shouted, “I don’t need a psych eval! There is nothing wrong with me!”

Mickey shook his head, “We discussed this last night, remember Nick? We need to find out what these pills have done…”

“Dammit, here we go again with the pills! They have done nothing to me!” Nick was yelling. Everyone looked at the judge, afraid he would reverse his ruling.

Hope turned to Chelsea, “Perhaps you should hurry up and go pay it.”

Nick overheard her, and saw Chelsea heading out of the courtroom. “Where is she going? What? No, Chelsea get back here, you are not going to pay for my..CHELSEA!”

Chelsea had left the room. It wasn’t until she was outside that she realized she was shaking. Seeing Nick like this dissolved any hope she had remaining that everything would work itself out, things were much worse then she thought. Last night, she had done research on Honazine and found prolonged use of the drug could cause permanent effects on a person.

“Chelsea? Are you ok?” Kayla appeared.

“Y-y-yea, I just need to head to where I pay them the money…”

Kayla led her down the correct hallway, years of Steve and Bo’s misadventures gave her expertise in how to post bail for someone. “Are you ok, Chelsea?”

Chelsea didn’t know what to say, “It’s not me, it’s Nick. I’ve never seen him act like that, he’s…”

“It’s not Nick. It’s the effects of the drugs.”

“But he hasn’t had one all night! He’s still acting…”

“It will take awhile for them to completely leave his system, sweetie,” Kayla said, putting her arm around Chelsea, “and even when they do, it still won’t be pretty. He’s going to crash hard. He’s going to need all the help he can get. Are you prepared for that?”

Chelsea stopped outside the office, getting out her checkbook. Last night she transferred the funds so they should be there. Her hands were still trembling, she was worried she wouldn’t be able to write the check.

“Chelsea?”

She faced her aunt. “I don’t know. I’ve never been good at this. It’s been Nick who’s been the supporter. I’ve helped him in the past sometimes but usually he’d wind up holding me.”

She started to cry. Chelsea couldn’t count the number of times Nick would say, “I’ll be there for you.” How could things get to this point?

“Chelsea, I have a confession to make. Stephanie didn’t ask me to come. When Steve told me last night about Nick, I wanted to be here. Steve is going to help too. I think…I think we have more insight on this than others. It wasn’t long ago that Steve’s mind was affected and he was acting like a different person.”

Chelsea shook her head, “But Nick won’t be that bad. It’s only a drug related..”

“Chelsea, Nick obviously has inherited the same problems his mother had which have actually ran throughout the Horton family. You mix that with Honazine that’s dangerous enough as it is, and he might not be the same again.”

Fear gripped Chelsea’s heart. This couldn’t be true. “No, he’ll come back…”

“I hope so, Chelsea. I really do. And honestly, many told me Steve would never return but he did. But he only did so because he had me urging him on. Getting him through this. Nick will need that too, but only if you are willing to see it to the end.”

Chelsea wiped her tears, “Of course I’ll be there.”

“No, Chelsea, if you start this, you can’t walk away. I believe that will make things ten times worse. And I know you love Nick, but you have to be prepared to put aside what you want for yourself, and do what’s best for him. During that time, I’m afraid it will get very ugly.”

Chelsea thought of a time where she and Nick were having a picnic together. They were laughing at something he said, he was a little drunk and he accidentally turned a normal word into a dirty one and he became embarrassed. Chelsea found it endearing he could still get embarrassed with her over something so simple. She missed that Nick so much, even before his arrest. She couldn’t deny it anymore.

Making up her mind, she looked Kayla in the eyes. “No, I can do this. He’s worth it.”

Kayla smiled and hugged her niece. Chelsea then to post bail.

Chapter 36

Nick had never been much of a pacer, he was usually controlled enough to manage standing or sitting still but lately that wasn’t the case, and certainly not now while he waited for Dr. Marlena Evans to come in.

He had been brought straight to her office after Chelsea posted bail. Nick was angry enough with his ex-girlfriend, still getting herself involved with him like he was her property. However, that irritation was nothing compared to being considered insane.

Of course, if he hadn’t lost his control, he wouldn’t be in this mess. Nick still shuddered at how close he came to hurting Melanie. He still flushed at the look she gave him, the look everyone at the pub gave him. He wasn’t sure what happened at that moment, everyone was blaming the pills, which he should have expected, but his aunt and cousin seemed to have something else on their minds. He wasn’t sure what. And even if he did have a pill addiction, what was he doing here?

“Hi, Nick.” Marlena said, smiling as she came in. “I’m sorry to see you under these circumstances. Given the urgency of this, I fit you in between appointments so I’m afraid this can’t be a full session.”

Nick reminded himself this situation was not her fault and he needed to keep his frustrations in check. “I’m sorry you have to waste your time like this, Dr. Evans, I don’t need to be here.”

She sat down in the chair so he followed suit across from her on the couch. She didn’t seem surprised at what he said, no doubt, Aunt Maggie had warned her of his attitude.

“And why is that? You killed one person and nearly another.”

She’s direct I’ll give her that. Nick narrowed his eyes at the older woman, angry for treating him like this is the first time they met. “I was sure Trent was going to hurt Melanie. I…I might have misunderstood his intentions but I had every reason to believe he would.”

“Well, we’ll get back to that in a minute, tell me about what happened in the pub yesterday morning.”

“I’m sure you know.”

“Please, I want to hear your side,” she said patiently.

Nick knew what she was doing, and he wasn’t interested in being a patient. “Look, I know what I did yesterday was wrong, believe me, I…I was just under a lot of stress and those pills probably were the wrong dose anyway…”

“Honazine is a very addictive drug…”

Nick cut her off, “That’s why I don’t understand why I’m here. I can’t deny I could use a pill right now, but even if I were addicted, why does that require a psychiatrist?”

“Many people seek counseling to break addictions, not just with drugs. It’s not unusual…”

Again, Nick was too impatient to let her continue. “Not you. You don’t specialize in that. I’m sure you’re doing this as a favor for my aunt but normally you would recommend someone to help me off the drugs. You deal in head cases.”

She frowned, “Head cases? Is that why you think you’re here?”

“I don’t know why I’m here!” Nick said, annoyed. “Look, I think people find the easy ways out all the time. ‘The drugs made me do it’ is the defense my uncle is using for me, and I’m just not comfortable with that.”

“Why not?”

“Will you stop…look, Dr. Evans, I am not an expert on such things, so it is possible the drugs could have…what’s the word? Escalated the situation in the pub yesterday. But as far as Trent’s murder, which I’m not charged with, I do take full responsibility. I believed he was going to hurt her. His manner, his words and of course his history gave me every impression he was capable…”

“His history?” Marlena asked. “You mean he’s hurt Melanie before?”

Nick stopped. He hadn’t wanted to get into Trent’s past. Everything had gone so fast since yesterday, and he hadn’t had a chance to tell anyone about Trent at all. He really wanted to wait until he received the evidence from Rich, probably later this week.

Marlena was still waiting, so Nick shrugged, “Not physically but he’s done enough to her and he was very threatening that night. I think the police said that’s why the hooker that was with him left, he was getting rough.”

“Yes, but you had no way of knowing that.”

Gritting his teeth, Nick decided to remain silent. He did get up to pace some more.

“Nick, I think you’d be more comfortable if you just continued sitting…”

“I think I’d be more comfortable if I were leaving. I told you this is a waste of time, and no matter what my reasons for killing Trent were, it doesn’t mean I’m insane. I’m sorry I attacked Melanie yesterday, believe me, I wouldn’t hurt her for the world.”

Marlena stood up herself, walking back to the table. Nick felt relief, as he believed she was finally listening to him. “So why did attack her?”

“I don’t know,” Nick sighed. “I just…I was so angry, especially when she called me a monster. Me! When it was her father…” Nick paused as he felt, what by now was familiar, the anger returning. “I’ve been silently calling Trent a monster for a long time and it struck a chord in me to hear her call me that.”

He walked towards her, believing he could shake her hand and make his goodbyes. He was surprised she was in her appointment book. “What are you doing?”

“Checking my schedule for tomorrow for you. Looks like I have an appointment at 2. Can you make that?”

Nick glared at the older woman, “You want me to come back?”

“Of course, Nick, we’ve got a long way to go.” Marlena’s smile further angered him. Looking down, she pushed the button on her phone, saying, “Cynthia, can you put Nick Fallon down for…”

“I SAID NO!!!!” Nick yelled, and he pushed her down. Marlena landed hard, but had put out her arms so they took most of the impact.

Now, Nick was frozen, as he only realized what he had done when he saw her on the floor. He reached down to help her up, his hands shaking. As she got up, he began walking to the door, he needed to leave. “I’m sorry, are you ok, I need to call someone. Let me get you help.”

“Nick, Nick, wait, I’m alright.” She called after him. He opened the door, walking out to the waiting room. Aunt Maggie was waiting on him, and she immediately stood at the sight of him. Her face was so full of hope and it broke Nick’s heart. She had no idea he attacked her friend in her office.

Marlena caught up with him. She said, “Nick, please, turn around and look at me.”

Ashamed, Nick turned. Marlena didn’t know him very well and the way he pushed her, she could have hit her head on the desk, so he was expecting to see a similar look to Melanie’s or the mother in the pub. Instead, she smiled at him. She whispered, “It’s ok, but you realize now….”

She didn’t have to complete her sentence, Nick felt like he could cry. He didn’t understand any of this, or why he was coming unglued like this. Could it really be the pills? Nick had a bad feeling there was more to it.

Chapter 37

Chelsea sipped water at the fountain, being careful not to dribble. Turning, she saw Philip enter the waiting room. Both sat down next to each other.

“Lucas still in there with her?” Philip asked. Chelsea nodded sadly.

Kate was dying. That was clear now. She was getting weaker by the day. Chelsea dreaded when Kate would be lying in a comatose state. In the years she has known her grandmother, she always saw her as a vital, vivacious woman, and to Chelsea, someone to look up to. She raised four kids, two by herself and while being married to a monster. Her earlier life had not been easy, but Kate had worked through it and now was a successful businesswoman running her own company. She was probably the most independent woman Chelsea knew, and to see her like this was heartbreaking.

“How are you holding up?” Philip asked.

Chelsea smiled, she wished Stephanie could see this side to Philip. He didn’t show it to just anyone, especially at work, but after living with him at Victor’s, Chelsea could see there was a good sized heart there. “I’m ok, I’m not looking forward to this.”

He flinched, “Neither am I. I wish there was something we can do. It’s not like money’s an issue.”

Chelsea nodded. Now that Kate had accepted her fate, she was wishing to speak to all her children and grandchildren personally. She thought she didn’t have much longer where she would be feeling well enough to do so. It was going to be difficult, especially with everything else going on.

Doing what Chelsea did best, she decided to focus on something else rather then dealing with the current issues. Looking at Philip, she said, “I didn’t get a chance to thank you for calling Stephanie the other day.”

Philip got out his phone, checking email. She had to bite back a smile. She had gotten to know Philip well enough by now to know when he was trying to distract himself, which is what he was doing now.

When he didn’t answer, she went on, “She was surprised too, I told her occasionally you do act like that.”

He stopped long enough to eye Chelsea, “Act like what?”

“A human.”

Putting his phone up, Philip rolled his eyes, “Please, I am capable of being a decent…, I can be a nice g…, you know, Stephanie sees me at work, that’s all. I can’t be all fuzzy and tender there.”

She laughed out loud at the image, “Please, I can’t imagine anyone calling you that. But even so, it’s not like you can’t show some compassion at work…”

“Chelsea, I’m the CEO of a multibillion dollar company. No, wait, I’m the newly stated CEO who is the son of the founder of the company. People still look to my father as the main leader and I’m constantly proving myself to the board and shareholders that I can do this, especially at my age.”

“And you’re doing a good job, Philip, but it wouldn’t hurt to be nicer to people that know us personally, like Stephanie.”

Sighing, he said, “Does she talk to you about it? She shouldn’t be, or expect you to talk to me…”

“No, she has never said anything, Philip. But I can tell by the way she reacts to your name that she doesn’t like you, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”

He laughed, “Chelsea, some day you will understand that business isn’t a popularity contest. Stephanie is so young and inexperienced. She’s got a lot to learn. Don’t look at me like that, she does. She’s doing a good job actually, far better then what I would have thought but…”

“Do you ever tell her that?”

He shrugged, “Maybe, but I don’t want her to get a big head. Girls her age still in college can…”

“Girls? I’m her age. And so was Morgan I may add!” Chelsea said, her own temper flaring up.

“Morgan was a mistake,” Philip admitted. “I was still hurting from Belle leaving. I had accepted she was with Shawn but the fact she left town hurt much more than I thought it would. Being with Chloe for that short time wasn’t meeting my needs, well my physical needs but not intellectually, and for some reason Morgan reminded me of Belle back when we were younger. The problem was, I wasn’t that guy anymore and I didn’t realize I had outgrown that life.”

Chelsea reflected, realizing how true he was. Morgan was happy now in Chicago, according to her last email, so there was no use staying down that road.

Philip was now ready to change tactics, “And why are we all on me? Don’t you have enough going on with mom and Nick to be getting into my business?”

She smiled, “No, it’s easier not to think about those things if I get into your business.”

“How is Nick?”

Chelsea was amazed that the sound of his name could bring tears to her eyes. “He’s staying with Maggie right now. He doesn’t want to see me.”

Feeling sorry for her, Philip wrapped his arm around her and Chelsea put her head on his. All he could say was, “I’m sorry, Chelsea.”

Just then a cough got their attention. Turning they saw Stephanie standing there with papers. Blushing, she said, “The office needs you to sign these papers and so I thought I would bring them by and sit with Chelsea while you looked them over.”

Back in his rigid business form, Philip quickly thanked her and took the papers over to the corner. Stephanie sat besides Chelsea, “How is she?”

“Not good. Lucas is still in there, I’m just waiting my turn.” Chelsea noted Stephanie kept looking over her shoulder at Philip. Smiling, she asked her friend, “What?”

“Hmm? Oh, I just am not used to seeing Philip act nice like that, it’s a bit startling, that’s all.”

Chelsea wanted to defend Philip more, but finally Lucas exited Kate’s room, wiping tears from his eyes. Chelsea jumped up to meet him, Philip standing as well.

“I’m done, who’s next?”

Chelsea glanced at Philip who motioned for her to go in. Taking a breath, she walked in. Seeing Kate so weak was something she could never get used to. Today she looked especially bad, probably because her earlier conversation with Lucas brought tears and washed what little makeup Kate had the strength to put on.

Chelsea suddenly had a memory of being in the hospital last spring for her operation and Kate wanting her to wear makeup. She kept insisting that pain and illness was no excuse to let your looks go. Seeing that Kate had made an effort, even a half hearted one, made her feel a little better.

“Hi, Grandma.”

“I told you not to call me that,” she said, her voice was soft, a smile on her face.

“Sorry, but I’m afraid you earned it now. Taking care of me after mom left for Europe.”

Kate smiled at her granddaughter. She reached out her hand and Chelsea took it. “You know, Chelsea sweetie, I’ve done some miserable things in my life. Horrible really. It’s funny the things you can excuse away to yourself, then realize later what a terrible idea or act it was.”

Chelsea thought of her recent attempt to separate Nick from Melanie. She nodded, she could certainly relate.

“All my children have had reasons to hate me. And I probably don’t deserve to have them here at my side. Austin and Billie are on their way now.”

“Yea, I spoke to mom this morning, she will be here tonight.” Chelsea said, in spite of everything, at least she was going to see her mom.

“Right. I have a lot to say to them. Lucas has probably the most to forgive, I can’t believe he’s still here. Well, no, actually Sami has the most to forgive but she’s in witness protection thank God. There isn’t enough drugs in this hospital to give me the strength to ask her for forgiveness.”

This made Chelsea laugh. “Sami would need some drugs herself to accept forgiving you, so it’s probably for the best.”

Kate smiled, “You’re right about that. But I am glad Lucas is still here, there was a lot to say.”

“Of course he’s still here,” Chelsea said, now crying. “He loves you. We all do. I do.”

The older woman smiled at that, “You do. I know. You’re the one person I did the least to; I rarely interfered in your life like the others. It wasn’t necessary really; you and I are cut from the same cloth. You remind me so much of myself.”

Chelsea smiled, “Thank you.”

That made Kate frown, “Oh, Chelsea, that wasn’t a compliment. It’s funny, last year at this time I would have told you I was proud of my life. My mistakes were regrettable but they were necessary so I could be where I was today. Now…lying here, I realize how wrong I was.”

At Chelsea’s look, Kate went on, “I never thought of myself as needing anyone. I could handle any situation myself…but, look now. I can’t handle this, and I’m alone.”

“You’re not alone…”

Kate coughed then, and Chelsea gave her some water. Taking a sip from the straw, Kate shook her head. “Yes, I am, sweetheart. My children are here, but I don’t deserve their attendance. Most of the time I never put them first, and when I did, I did it in the worst way.”

“You might have made mistakes…”

“Chelsea, please, let me finish. Yes, my mistakes on them were horrible but I made another kind that wasn’t as obvious. Friendships were never something I cared about. My only relationships are business. Even my lovers in the last few years started off being business transactions of some sort. And while Roman and Victor came by for a sympathy call, I’ve not heard from anyone else. It’s awful.”

“Oh Grandma,” Chelsea said, crying now. She hated her grandmother felt this way, “You aren’t alone. I’ll be here everyday, I haven’t been coming enough obviously and…”

“Sweetie, you have been here everyday and I love you for it. But you have Nick now too, and that’s my point. I can’t…I do have one confession for you. Out of all my confessions with family, this is actually the hardest because this one I felt shame at the time which was certainly rare to say the least. I did it anyway.”

Chelsea was confused, “What did you do?”

“The money I gave you last year, that…it didn’t come from me.”

“What?” Chelsea tried to imagine what Kate was talking about. The money for college?

“It was actually…it was from Nick. He wanted you to have it. He won it in Vegas and…”

Chelsea dropped Kate’s hands, taking what she said in. She walked away, her mind on the events last year. She remembered Nick telling her he gave it away and he couldn’t get it back. What was more startling was Chelsea had that money, and she never offered it to Nick to help out with China Lee. She shook her head, wondering how she could possibly have not seen this amazing act herself.

“Chelsea, baby, can you forgive me?” Kate asked.

Remembering her grandmother, Chelsea walked back to her. Taking her hands, she nodded, “Yes, thank you for telling me. I’m not angry, I’m just sad I didn’t see this for myself…you’re right on excusing away mistakes you do while making them. Letting Nick go was a huge one.”

Kate smiled at that, “Yes, he’s a good guy. But since this gift, I wasn’t able to be around him much, his presence reminded me of what I did. That’s why I would push you to other guys. I’m sorry if I messed things up with you this year with him…”

“Oh, no, that was my fault. My interest in Daniel was my own fault, I didn’t need you pushing me with that. Daniel was the hero who came in to save my Dad, and then later me. It’s amazing how fast that can wear off.”

Her grandma nodded, “Yes, it is. Every girl wants a guy in shining armor to rescue her, but sometimes, it’s the quiet guy who never leaves your side who is the real hero.”

Hearing Kate say such a thing was shocking, obviously the pain medications were kicking in. But Chelsea couldn’t deny she had never been more right. Nick had been there with her through anything she needed: the hairbrush, the Vegas trips, the Jett fiasco, Ford’s accidental death, and her father’s illness. Now he needed a hero himself, and she wasn’t going to let him down. Squeezing Kate’s hand, Chelsea agreed, “Yes, well trust me, nobody is going to leave your side!” Or Nick’s.

Chapter 38

Chelsea knocked on Maggie’s door. She could see her car wasn’t in the driveway so she probably wasn’t home, but maybe now Nick could no longer hide behind her. When the door opened, Nick stood looking unhappy to see her.

It had only been a couple of days since she last saw him, and then she thought he couldn’t look any worse then. Being in a jail suit with handcuffs and unshaven, the image had quickly faded from Chelsea’s mind. Now two days later stood Nick in regular clothes, but he still hadn’t shaved, his hair was a mess and he had bags under his eyes. His whole stance appeared tense and Chelsea braced herself.

“Hi, Nick.”

“What do you want?” He asked impatiently, using one arm to lean up against the door frame.

Chelsea let go of the hurt she felt, this was not Nick and she just had to remember not to take it personally. “I wanted to see you.”

“I don’t think so…CHELSEA!” Nick’s actions were off and she was able to dart under his arm and into the kitchen before he knew what she was doing.

She didn’t let her back remain to him, she knew he would probably just push her out the door if she did. Now, it was time to stop this. “Nick, you need help. I just got back from seeing my grandmother near death and there is nothing I can do about that, but I sure as hell can help you.”

“Oh, please, don’t make me laugh!” Nick said, rolling his eyes. “I’m sure if we asked Dr. Evans, she would say you’re the last thing I need!”

Chelsea heard the name Dr. Evans and focused on it, “So you are seeing Marlena?”

Nick took his eyes off of her for a moment, shame appearing on his face. Did something happen? “Yea, I agreed to.”

“Nick, please, you don’t have to go through this alone.” Chelsea said, yearning to reach out and touch him.

He faced her again, and with a sneer, said, “So, let me get this straight, you want to be around me when I’m crazy and dangerous? But when I’m normal, you can’t wait to get away from me.”

Chelsea wanted to tell him she loved him, that she never stopped and how much she missed him this whole time. That leaving him for Dan had been a huge mistake, one she regrets every night when she goes to bed. The guys she has dated since then, including Sam, were nice but didn’t fully satisfy her like Nick did. But Kayla had cautioned her about trying to have Nick meet her selfish needs right now. It was about him, and what he needed. He doesn’t need a lover, he needs a friend.

Owning up to her mistakes, Chelsea nodded, “I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you in the past, and now I’m here to make up for it, you never needed me more then now.”

He laughed, “Oh, sure. I’m hooked on pain medication so if I can hang around the biggest pain I know without needing a pill, I’m cured.”

“You can insult me all day, I’m not going away.” Chelsea approached him slowly, she noticed he got more agitated the closer she got.

“It’s not the insults you should be worried about,” Nick said, “Don’t forget I put a knife up to the girl I loved last week, and imagine what I could do to you.”

If he was trying to scare her it didn’t work, but Chelsea wished she could tell him she wanted to be the girl he still loved. She kept coming closer, “You won’t hurt me, not physically.”

He suddenly lunged towards her, “Really? What if I grab your arm like this? See, you are frightened, you should be.”

She was slightly frightened, but more out of what he could become if he didn’t get fixed. “I’m only scared of losing Nick forever.”

He got closer to her and whispered, “You lost me forever when you dropped me for Dr. Fantastic.”

His face was to the side of her now, and he couldn’t see the tears in her eyes. She didn’t know what to say to that, she couldn’t deny he was right. But she knew him well enough to know that it wasn’t her actions that were eating him up inside. Leaning up to his ear, she whispered, “I do want you to forgive me, but first, you have to forgive yourself. And get help.”

He pushed her back, as if she was suddenly on fire. It wasn’t a hard push but she could tell he wasn’t expecting to do it. When he saw what he did, he turned away from her. “Chelsea, please, go away. I’m not scaring you for revenge but to protect you. Nobody needs to be around me.”

She was crying now, even now he was trying to protect her. “Nick Fallon, if you would quit trying to be noble and actually let someone else take care of you for a change, you could see how many of us do need to be around you, whether you’re broken or not!”

He wasn’t moving. She gently reached out and touched him, pulling him around. He was crying. She could see her Nick and the sheer pain in his eyes were obvious. Without a second thought, she pulled him into her arms, and they held each other. “I’m not going anywhere, Nick.”

Chapter 39

Marlena smiled when Nick walked in. He didn’t return the smile, but at least he didn’t roll his eyes at being there. One had to take progress as it came, even in tiny steps.

“Hello, Nick.” Marlena smiled at him.

“Hi, Dr. Evans,” he practically whispered. Sitting down, it was clear he still felt shame over the day before.

Placing herself opposite him, she said, “Nick, how are you doing today?”

“Well, I pushed Chelsea this morning, not as hard as I pushed you but I still did it.”

“Were you arguing?”

He nodded, “Yes, she wants to be there for me, and I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Marlena questioned, “Why not?”

“Because I’m dangerous to be around, and it’s bad enough I’ve got Aunt Maggie and Hope hanging around me, even now, trying to take care of me, but they say they have been through this before while Chelsea doesn’t know what she’s getting into…”

Marlena smiled, clearly Nick still had feelings for Chelsea but now wasn’t the time to get into that. “I think Chelsea can handle this…”

“Well, she wanted to come here with me, but I had enough escorts. Hope and Aunt Maggie are outside, they flanked me coming in. My mom’s coming into town and between the three of them I feel like a crazy version of Bosley.”

Hearing Nick joking was a good sign, but she did understand his concerns. “Nick, I think you’re already getting a better handle on getting out of control, and it’s not you who are dangerous but the drugs in combination with…”

Nick interrupted, “I’m sure Melanie would disagree with you there. She won’t have anything to do with me, not that I blame her. I still can’t believe I held a knife to her throat.”

Marlena nodded, “How are you doing without the pills?”

“Not well. Going to sleep is the worst, which I find weird since I rarely took one before bed. I get up and down all night, not sure what to do with myself.” He said.

“Well, that’s perfectly normal.”

He looked over at her, “Funny, you should describe anything as normal. Normal is the last thing I feel at the moment.”

Memories flooded Marlena, and she flashed back to Jessica years ago. “Your mother said the same thing herself.”

Nick frowned, “My mother? What do you mean?”

Shrugging, Marlena replied, “Just that she said the same thing to us after her own detox from Honazine.”

Nick stared at Marlena with a look of utter shock on his face. It took Marlena a beat to realize he had no idea what she was talking about. “Nick, you mean you don’t know that your mother had her own breakdown from Honazine?”

“My mother had a reaction to taking Honazine. When?”

She had to think to answer, it was so long ago, before he was born. “Twenty seven years ago, I think. I thought you knew, especially after your own violent episode…”

“Mom had a violent episode?”

Marlena felt torn. Technically Jessica wasn’t her patient so doctor-patient privilege didn’t apply but it would be so much better for Jessica to explain herself. However, if Nick had known before hand, perhaps these horrible events could have been avoided all together.

“Nick, did you say your mom was coming into town?”

“Yes!” Anger was written all over his face. Marlena felt Nick was making progress in controlling his outbursts but she hadn’t counted on a bombshell like this being dropped on him.

“Nick, you need to…”

“I need to know what happened. Why was she taking Honazine? And did she attack someone?”

“Well…not exactly,” Marlena sighed, now that the cat was out of the bag, it was best for her to tell him and hope she could keep him calm. “Honazine doesn’t create the same symptoms in everyone. She took it for a minor car accident, and due to finding out about her real parentage she split into multiple personalities…”

“Multiple personalities? She had a double life?”

Marlena flinched hearing how this must sound, “Actually a triple. Her mind split into two personalities, Angel and Angelique. Angel was just a wild side, your mom had lived a sheltered life but Angelique…”

Nick waited but Marlena didn’t continue. “What about her?”

“She took Marie Horton in and terrorized her. Marie was your grandmother and…”

“I know who Marie is…” Nick said, jumping up. He was back to pacing. Marlena stood up with him, feeling like that was enough information for now. Jessica was on her way, and she would have to explain the rest of the details.

“Nick, I’m sorry, so sorry you had to hear this way. I thought you knew.”

He kept pacing, shaking his head, “No, I didn’t know. Of course I didn’t. I would never have agreed to take this drug if I had known…I mean, they asked me if there were any known mental illnesses in the family! I said no!”

He finally stopped and leaned his back up against the wall, rubbing his face. Marlena approached him, “Nick, you’re taking this all well, especially given the extra stress such news…”

“Well, I’m still digesting it, Dr. Evans,” Nick said, now leaning his head back. “It’s so major. I wish my mom could have told me this, instead of her shrink.”

“Oh, I wasn’t treating Jessica.”

Nick looked at her confused. “You weren’t?”

“No, we were friends, well acquaintances back then and another colleague treated her.”

“But what she said about being normal…”

Marlena explained, “She said that to me and Hope, I think.”

“HOPE!? SHE KNEW?” Nick was off the wall and grabbing Marlena by the shoulders. Not hard, he wasn’t shaking her, it was a gesture anyone receiving shocking information might do, but due to the day before, Marlena was on her guard.

“Yes, Nick, she’s a Horton, and this hit the family hard. Everyone knew.”

Nick let her go, glaring at Marlena. The older woman paused to let it sink in, forgetting about the two Hortons sitting out in the waiting room. Nick waited all of two seconds before he turned and darted out into the waiting room.

“HOW COULD YOU TWO NOT TELL ME?” He screamed. Hope and Maggie stood up at his outburst, but it didn’t take long for them to know what he was referring to. Maggie felt the most responsible, “Oh, Nick, I’m so sorry, you found out about your mom didn’t you?”

Nick’s eyes weren’t on his aunt but his cousin. “How could you not tell me? You sat with me after I killed Trent, didn’t it occur to you that…”

“No, Nick!” Hope said, her voice cracking. “I hadn’t thought of Jessica in those terms in years and I didn’t think about…”

“You didn’t think I could handle it? I can’t believe this, this whole time I’ve been living I had no idea that I was one step away from being a lunatic.”

Marlena needed to get control. Luckily no other patients were outside, so she quietly told everyone to come into her office. Hope and Nick continued to stare but Maggie gently guided the brunette in, making Nick follow. Marlena closed the door.

“I’m sorry, Maggie and Hope, I thought Nick knew.”

“It’s ok,” Maggie replied, “he should have.”

“And why didn’t you tell me? Didn’t you think I deserved to know…”

Hope answered, “Jessica was making arrangements to come in. She said she wanted to tell you the whole story.”

He laughed, “I’m sure she did. I don’t mean just now…nobody thought it would be important for me to know my own mom terrorized my grandmother?”

“Nick,” Maggie said, “You have to understand, she was out of her mind at the time…”

“I understand that better than either of you,” he said while crossing his arms, “the problem is, I was blaming strictly the pills, not realizing the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Hope walked over to him, she wanted to calm him down, “Nick, please, it’s not like that. Jessica…”

He walked away quickly from her, “Don’t you mean Angelique?”

“Nick, she was cured, and she put this behind her. The last thing she ever wanted to do was think about it again, especially to her own son.”

“Even though her son could wind up getting into the exact same situation she did? Hope, if I had known about the damn pills, I would NEVER have agreed to take them. Hell, I even looked up their side effects when Dr. Ruddell questioned me having them. It listed mental history in the family being a major concern but of course, I had no idea about any of that.”

Both women look chagrined and couldn’t deny Nick had a point. Nick was focusing everything on Hope, it was clear he looked to her for the family history and felt she was just as responsible for his ignorance as Jessica. Hope knew she had let him down, “Nick, I’m so sorry…”

“I’m sure you are, Hope. Nick, neither Hope or Maggie can do anything now about what you didn’t know. Or what they thought you knew.” Marlena said.

Maggie nodded, “I honestly thought you knew.”

Nick took his eyes off of Hope, and looked over at Maggie. “Well, I didn’t. Not that it matters now.”

Marlena shook her head, “No, Nick, it does matter. It doesn’t seem like it now, but this will be necessary in your recovery. It had to come out. I’m just sorry it wasn’t told in an easier way. That’s my fault, I should have asked if you were aware of your family history.”

Nick turned away from all the women, nodding his head. Fatigue overtook him. He sat down, a headache was starting.

Kneeling besides him, Hope whispered, “Nick, please, I thought you knew…”

“Stop there, Hope,” Nick whispered back. “You knew I didn’t know. Don’t you remember?”

Hope looked confused, “What?”

“When I had to fill out all those forms to have temporary custody of those kids from Vegas, you helped them with me. On one of the forms there was a whole section on family medical history. You saw it, and didn’t say a thing about how I didn’t feel much in.”

Hope thought back, she had forgotten that. “Oh, Nick, I hadn’t…it’s just so long ago, I had forgotten about Jessica’s…”

“You forgot? How could anyone…” Nick started, and then he physically shut himself down. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Marlena didn’t like this. Nick was winding down and the timing of this news could correspond to when all the drugs exited his body. This was going to make Nick’s recovery all the more harder.

40-49

Title Page

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