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Long, Long Journey

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Ridge stared at his wife.  “What are you doing?”

Opening her top just a little more, Brooke turned and smiled at him.  “Talking to my sister,” she lied easily.

Narrowing his eyes, he studied her.  “I heard what you were saying.  You were talking to Bill.  You were telling him about Mother.”

She shrugged and began to unbutton her top again.  “You know that she’s lying.  She’s just trying to get more attention.”  Letting her top fall to the floor, Brooke continued undressing as she walked toward him.  “She’s nothing but an attention whore, Ridge.  I never did believe she was abused by her father.  It was all just to make sure she had Eric where she wanted him.”

Something inside Ridge snapped and he reached out and grabbed Brooke’s arms and shook her.  “Don’t you ever talk about my mother that way again.”  Letting her go, he turned and started walking from the room.  “Put your clothes on and get out,” he growled as he pulled his phone from his pocket.  He had some damage control to do.

Brooke stood staring at her husband’s retreating back.  “What just happened?” she wondered.  Sexing him up always worked before.  What had gone wrong?  Had he been somehow sucked back into his mother’s web of lies?  She rolled her eyes as she finished taking off her clothes.  “Ridge!” she shouted as she chased after him, sure that her nude body would lure him back.

But he wasn’t there to lure back. 

Ridge Forrester had finally found his brain.

No more would he be tricked.

No more would his head be turned by a woman who had done nothing but manipulate him and every man in his family from the day she walked into the Forrester mansion.

 

E**S

 

Eric squeezed Stephanie’s hand as he helped her from the car.  “It’s going to be alright, Sweet girl.  Look,” he nodded toward the front door which had just opened to reveal their family.  “I told you they’d be waiting for you.”

Stephanie turned and felt tears fill her eyes when her baby rushed her, clinging tightly to her.  “Shh, Baby.”

“Oh Momma.”  Felicia cried against her mother’s neck.

Eric watched as Thorne and Kristen came out and wrapped their arms around Stephanie and Felicia.  Anger swelled within him at the thoughts of their missing son.  He knew from the text he’d gotten from Taylor that Ridge had left last night and planned to tell Brooke.  Looking up to see Taylor standing in the doorway with Pam, he left his children with their mother.  “What the hell happened, Taylor?”

“He was angry, Eric.  Angrier than I’ve ever seen him.  He demanded to know where Stephanie was.  Wanted to know why she wasn’t the one telling them.”

“He said he was going to tell Brooke, Eric.”  Pam’s voice quivered as she looked up at her brother-in-law, her hand squeezing his arm.  “She’ll hurt Steph.”

Cupping his sister-in-law’s cheek, Eric held her gaze.  “I promise I won’t let her be hurt, Pam.  I’ll take her away if I have to.”

“Massimo took out after Ridge.”  Taylor informed Eric.

“Then I may not have to worry about taking Stephanie away.”  Eric shook his head.

“Eric.”  Pam whispered.

“What is it, Pam?”

“Ridge was,” she bit her lip, tears rolling down her cheeks.  “Ridge was acting like Father.”

Pulling Pam into his arms, Eric held her close.  “It’s going to be alright, Pam.  I’m sure Massimo saw the same thing you did and I’m positive he won’t hesitate to inform Ridge of the fact.”

“She’s dying and her son,” but Pam couldn’t finish and buried her face in Eric’s chest as she sobbed.

“Pammie?”  Stephanie whispered as she walked up to them.  “Sis, what is it?”

Eric turned Pam into her sister’s arms, caressing Stephanie’s face.  “She’s just upset about everything, Steph.”

Stephanie nodded.  “Come on, Pammie.  Come into the living room with me.”

“Go with them, Taylor.  Help Stephanie calm Pam down.  Please?”

Taylor nodded.  “Let Massimo handle him, Eric,” she warned, her hand on his arm.

“I have no intentions of going anywhere near Ridge.  I have too much to do to control the circus I’m sure his wife will have started by passing along this information to Bill Spencer Jr.”  Eric sighed and shook his head.  “I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Bill Sr.  The man may have been insufferable in his pursuit of my wife, but at least I never had to worry about him hurting her.”

“I’m sorry, Eric.  We all tried to reason with him.  You should know that Thorne told Ridge never to come back here or anywhere near Stephanie if he told Brooke.”

Eric smiled sadly as he looked out at his children.  “Thorne takes after his mother in that respect.  Always protecting those he loves.”

“All of your children take after their mother in that respect.”

“Except Ridge.”  Eric sighed. And rubbed a hand over his face.  “Sadly he takes more after me.  Always thinking about himself first and his needs in the bedroom.”

Squeezing his arm, Taylor smiled at him when he looked at her.  “You’ve changed, Eric.  He’ll learn just like you did what kind of woman Brooke really is.”

“But at what cost to his family?”

“I can’t answer that, Eric.  I know that he’s hurt our children.  It’s going to take a lot for them to forgive him for this.”

Patting Taylor’s hand, he gave it a squeeze.  “Go on and help Stephanie with Pam.  I’ll take care of the rest.”

Taylor nodded.  “Take a little extra time with Steffy.  Get her to let out all the emotions she’s bottling up.”

“Just like her grandma.”  Eric whispered as he walked away.

Taylor sighed and nodded, “Yes, just like her grandma.”

 

E**S

 

“Massimo, I don’t have time for this.”  Ridge growled at the man.

“You have time.”  Massimo shook his head.  “You do realize that you are acting like John Douglas.”

Ridge frowned then scowled at the older man.  “What the hell are you talking about?”

“The anger, the showing no care or concern for anyone but yourself.  That is what John Douglas always did.  Everything was about him.  He had a horrible temper, a temper that always cost Stephanie.  She’s always said it was the drinking, but it wasn’t.  Today, when you were shouting and trying to bully Taylor into telling you where Stephanie is, it was as if John Douglas was standing in the room.  I can say these things because I knew the man.  I didn’t know he physically abused Stephanie, or I would have done something long before he handed her over to my father.”  Massimo shook his head.  “Your wife is trash, Ridge.  She had me fooled in the past, but I’ve come to see her true colors.  She is what Stephanie has always said, the slut from the valley.  She wants nothing more than money and a name that gives her prestige.  The only problem is, she’s ruined the Forrester name with her constant so called mistakes.  And now, thanks to you telling her about Stephanie being raped by my father, she’s going to hurt the woman that gave birth to you.  The woman that tried all of your life to protect you from what a woman like Brooke could do to you, and has done to you.  But sadly you’re too much like your father.  It’s always been about sex with you and getting it no matter who you had to hurt.  Eric has finally learned that Stephanie is all he needs, but at what cost, Ridge?  Your mother is dying and there is so little time for him to make up to her for all those years he hurt her.  What is it going to take for you to learn?  You’ve already lost a daughter.  Do you have to lose the rest of your children?”

Ridge stared at the man as he walked away.  His heart was racing.  Was he really like John Douglas?  He remembered the sick feeling he’d had when he’d learned that his grandfather had abused his mother.  He slumped down onto the step, his head hanging down.  Why hadn’t he felt sick this time?  His grandfather had handed his mother, a young girl, over to a man to let him rape her.  And for what reason?  Because he blamed her for what had happened in a business deal?  Dear god, what kind of monster could do that?  He didn’t want to be like that man even though they shared DNA.  He loved his mother, always had. 

What the hell had he done?

Lifting his head, he dialed a number, hoping he could get some help.  “Hey.  It’s Ridge Forrester.  I need help with a problem.”

 

E**S

 

“Karen, I’m sorry to disturb you, but there’s a situation arising here that needs your attention.  Your brother is completely out of control.”  Eric went on to explain the situation to the sister of his one time daughter-in-law.  “You have to do something, Karen.  This will devastate Stephanie if the media gets hold of this.”  Listening to her reassurances that she was on her way as soon as her private jet could file a flight plan, Eric sighed, “Thank you.  While you’re here, don’t forget to come by here.  Stephanie would love to see you.” 

Massimo waited until the call had ended before letting Eric know he was there.  “I talked to Ridge.”

Eric turned to look at his visitor.  “And how did that go?”

“I don’t know.  I have no clue if I got through to him or not.  He’s more like John Douglas than I ever realized.”

“And me.”  Eric whispered as he drug a hand over his face.

“The old you, yes, I agree.  I even pointed that out to him.  I reminded him that he’d already lost a daughter and asked if he needed to lose the rest of his children before he learned.”

“Learned the lesson that I’m learning the hard way.”  Eric’s voice broke and he turned away from Massimo.  “Her latest tests didn’t go so well.  At least the CT scans.  We’re still waiting on the results from the other tests.”  He paused to gather his emotions before continuing.  “She’s coughing again,” he whispered as he stared out the window of the den.

“The tumors in her brain are growing faster?”  Massimo asked.

“Yes.”  Eric nodded.

“When did the coughing start?”

“A couple of days ago.  She’s been hiding it from the family.”

“Could it just be that she’s still healing from the surgery?”

Eric swallowed.  “Oh god, I hope so.”

“And if it’s not?”  Massimo asked, his normally booming voice suddenly low and subdued.

“We’ll continue with the plans she’s asked me to make for the family vacation.”  Eric looked at his one time enemy.  “She won’t want fuss, Massimo.  If the coughing is a sign that the cancer has returned, then she’ll want to continue as if nothing has changed.  This vacation will be the last and she’ll want to take it before telling the family.”

“I won’t say anything, but you must tell me if the cancer has come back.”

Eric nodded.  “We’ll tell you, Taylor, and Jackie.  We’ll need help to keep the family from learning the truth.  Especially Thorne.”  He smiled sadly.  “He’s always been our intuitive one.  And very connected to his mother, amazingly enough.”

“I’ve always found that he was a perfect mixture of you and of Stephanie.  Makes for an amazing man.  Always wondered why you stuffed him down in the basement.”

Eric chuckled slightly.  “Because we were fools.  We’ve both always favored Ridge.”  Smiling in remembrance, he sighed, “Although she hasn’t always overlooked Thorne.”

Massimo frowned.  “What do you mean?”

“Thorne and Ridge had been fighting over Caroline.  She had been engaged to Ridge first, then something happened which caused her to break off the engagement.  Thorne knew about it, was her friend through it all and stood by her.  They fell in love and married.  Ridge didn’t like it.  Anyway, it came down to Ridge playing an ill thought out trick and it led to Thorne shooting him when he found out.”

Massimo raised an eyebrow.  “Thorne shot his brother?”

“In a drugged sleep walk, yes.”

“What?”

“He’d been having trouble sleeping so had asked Stephanie for some sleeping pills.  She gave them to him.  Unbeknownst to her, he’d started drinking later.  The alcohol mixed with the drug affected Thorne in such a way that he woke the next day with no memories of anything that had happened in the night.  Stephanie had trouble waking him and then realized he didn’t remember shooting Ridge.  I had no clue what had happened because Stephanie had seen it happen from our bedroom window while I was showering.”  Eric shrugged.  “Anyway, the gun he used was Stephanie’s so to protect Thorne she wiped his prints from it, put hers there then put it up.  When the cops came around and wouldn’t leave things alone, she finally confessed that she was the one that had shot Ridge.  She told them that she thought he was an intruder and shot before she realized that it was Ridge.  She was harassed by the detective in charge because he didn’t believe her, was sure that Thorne had been the one to do the shooting, but she was adamant that it was she who had pulled the trigger.  The detective stuck her in lockup and left her over night.  I got her out as soon as possible the next day and we covered our absence up by making the children think I’d taken her to a hotel for a night alone.”

“Wow.”  Massimo breathed.  “So do the boys know this?”

“Yes, the children all know about it now, but they didn’t for a number of years.”

“Explains a lot.”

“What do you mean?”  Eric asked.

“Thorne was ready to hit Ridge earlier.  I could sense it, but he held back and merely used his words.  He’s very protective of his mother.  It was Thorne that told Ridge never to come back here, to stay away from Stephanie, if he went home and told Brooke what you’d asked them all not to.  There was a menacing tone to his voice.  Ridge must have heard it too because he backed down after a small come back.”

“I just hope that Karen can get control of her brother.”

“I have a judge on it, Eric.  He’ll find some reason to keep Spencer from going to print.”

“What can he possibly find?  He can’t stop Spencer from printing the truth.”

“I don’t know, but there has to be something.  We both know Spencer isn’t a clean businessman.”

“I know he isn’t, but will it be fast enough?”

“Maybe you should take Stephanie back to Big Bear.”

“I’ve thought about that.  They’ll find us.  Our cabin up there isn’t a secret.”

“Then take her to mine.  It is a secret.  No one knows I own the place.”

“Thank you, Massimo.  I’ll talk it over with Stephanie.”

“I’ll do anything you need to help protect her.”

“I know you will, Massimo.”  Eric told him then turned to smile at the man.  “I believe there’s a little man waiting to see you.”

Massimo smiled and shook his head.  “Who knew we’d be sharing a grandson?”

“Who knew we’d ever stop being enemies?”

 

E**S

 

Stephanie sighed as she caressed her sister’s hair.  Pam had fallen asleep against Stephanie’s shoulder after crying her heart out.  Whatever had happened here today had nearly undone her sister.  “Oh Pammie,” she whispered as she kissed her head.  She smiled as she thought back to the day her baby sister had come home from the hospital.  Nothing could have prepared her for the love and amazement she felt when the baby she’d been peering down at opened her eyes and stared up at her.

“Hello, baby sister.”  Stephanie whispered as she studied the blue eyes that stared up at her.  “I have a feeling you and I are going to be best friends.”  She laughed when the baby’s hand gripped her finger.  “I’ll protect you, Pammie.  I promise.  No matter what, I’ll always protect you.  I’ll always be here.  I’m so happy you came into my life.  Now I won’t be so lonely.”

“Steph?”  Pam whispered as she sat up.  “What are you thinking about?”

Stephanie smiled as she stared down at her sister’s hands.  “I was remembering the day they brought you home and I got to meet you for the first time.”  Looking up, she wiped a tear from her Pam’s cheek.  “I wasn’t sure what to make of you until you opened your eyes and stared up at me.  I felt love and amazement, something I never felt before, at least not like that.  I made a promise that day to always protect you, to always be there.”  Squeezing her sister’s hands, she felt her eyes water.  “I’m so sorry I wasn’t always there, that I’m leaving you.”

Pam reached up and wiped a tear from her sister’s cheek.  “You kept your promise, Steph.  You protected me.”

Stephanie shrugged.  “Mother did more of that than I did.  She always took you away.  At least she got something right.”

Pam nodded.  “But I remember one time she didn’t take me away,” she whispered.

Stephanie frowned.  “When, Pammie?”

“I was four and I was looking for you.”

“Teffy!  Teffy!”  Pam called out for her big sister as she walked through the living room.  “Sissy?” she whispered as she neared the den and heard her sister crying.  Sneaking into the room, her eyes widened.  “Sissy!” she cried out when their father lifted his belt, hitting Stephanie across the back.  The noise startled her and she bumped into an end table, knocking over the lamp.

“What are you doing in here?”  John Douglas yelled at his youngest child, his anger now directed at her.  “Look at what you did!” he growled as he moved toward her.

“Father!  No!”  Stephanie cried out as she moved to her sister, covering her just as their father’s belt lowered, catching Stephanie’s neck and upper back.  Over and over she bore the brunt of his anger, her baby sister cuddled against her, crying into her shirt, clinging to her in fear.  “Shh, Pammie,” she whispered as she fought against crying out to keep from scaring her sister even more.  Taking a deep breath when her father finally stopped, she waited, listening for him to leave.  Hearing the rattle of ice in his glass, she looked over her shoulder to make sure he was across the room before she moved.  “Come on, Pammie.  Let’s go to Sissy’s room.”

“Oh my god, I’d forgot about that.”  Stephanie breathed.  “You were so little.  And breaking the lamp wasn’t your fault, he’d scared you by hurting me.  It was his fault but in his anger, he didn’t see that.”

Wrapping her arms around Stephanie, Pam rested her head against her shoulder.  “What he did to you,” she paused, her voice catching.  “It would have…I was so little…Oh Steph.”

Kissing her sister’s head, Stephanie held her close.  “I knew that, Pammie.  My back was bleeding, but he could have seriously hurt you.”

“I remember how you told me never to go into a room when he was yelling.  I never did, but Mother usually took me away so I didn’t really have a choice.”

Pushing her sister back, Stephanie cupped her face.  “I love you, Pammie.  I always have, even though I left you behind.”

“I knew you loved me.  I know you love me now.”  Pam’s voice broke.  “I know that you don’t want to leave me.  I’ll try to get better at not panicking when I think about it.”

“You won’t be alone, Pammie.  I promise.”  Stephanie smiled as she smoothed her sister’s mussed hair.  “You’ll have a new niece to tell about her grandma.  You know all the stories of the young me, Pammie.  The stories that will help keep me alive for my children and grandchildren.  And I know that you have old pictures that they’ve never seen before.”  Cupping her face once again, Stephanie held her gaze.  “I promise I’ll always be here.  I’ll be here in your memories of me.  When you feel a breeze brush across your cheek, that’ll be me letting you know I’m watching over you.”  Her voice lowered as she let her forehead bump against her sister’s.  “I’ll never really leave you, Pammie-cakes.”

Pam gave a choked giggle and a wobbly smile when Stephanie uttered the long ago nickname.  “Pammie-cakes,” she repeated as she had all those years ago when Stephanie had first called her that.  “I was two when you called me that the first time.  I remember repeating it and giggling.”

“And I said it again just to hear you giggle.”  Stephanie remembered that day, too.

“I love you, Sis.”

“And I love you, Pammie.”

Taylor wiped at her tears as she slipped back out of the room.  After what Eric had just told her about Stephanie coughing again, she suspected that her friend was preparing things for a final goodbye.  She knew, without being told, that Stephanie would leave with Eric and spend her remaining days alone with her husband, protecting her family from watching her grow weaker and suffer.  Wiping her face as more tears fell, she sat down on the stairs and dropped her head into her hands.  She didn’t want to let her friend go.  Just as Pam was scared of Stephanie’s leaving, so was she.  Stephanie had been their rock for so many years, even when they were fighting, Stephanie had still always been there holding them all up.

What were they going to do once she was gone?

 

E**S

 

“What the hell is this?”  Bill growled as he looked at the paper his sister laid on his desk.

“This is the document stating that you have been removed from your position at Spencer Publications.”  Karen told him, an angry edge to her voice.

“You can’t do this.  Father left this to us equally.”

“Yes, with stipulations.  Stephanie was off limits.  I know about the dvd Dad left you.  You haven’t done what he asked, you’ve done just the opposite.  After I found out about the dvd, I let things alone because you hadn’t really done anything other than break Stephanie and Eric up.   I knew about Eric’s affair with Donna, so I didn’t see what harm it could do for Stephanie to get away from him.  But this,” she snarled her nose.  “This latest is the last straw.  You’re hurting Stephanie this time.”  Karen stared at her brother.  “She’s dying, Bill.  Dad wouldn’t want her to spend some of her last days dealing with the fall out from this.  I know you never cared for him, but I did.  And I love Stephanie and her family.  I won’t let you hurt her or them with this.  Besides, what you’re printing I assume you got from Brooke which means it more than likely has more libel in it that it has truth.”

Bill rolled his eyes.  “You’re too late to stop this.  It’s already gone to print.  You can remove me, but it won’t stop the truth.”

“Oh but that’s where you’re wrong, Brother.  You see, I have a few loyal people working here.  When Eric called me, I made a call before leaving.  It would seem you have a problem with the printers.”

“I would have been told.”

“No, you wouldn’t have.  Because again, I have people.”

Bill growled and stood up, staring down at his sister.  “How can you be fooled by that woman?  She’s faking this.”

“I’m not fooled by Stephanie.”  Karen stared up at her brother, not flinching under his hard stare.  “What I want to know is, when did you become a champion of Brooke?  Even after you married Katie you were still calling Brooke a whore.  Which by the way, is the proper description for her.  So?  What changed?  Are you screwing her behind Katie’s back?”

“Oh please.  I want Forrester back for Katie.”

Karen rolled her eyes.  “So now Katie is telling you what to do?”  Shaking her head, she pointed to the door.  “Get out, Bill.  I’ll have your things packed and sent to you.”

“You can’t stop the truth from coming out, Karen.”

“I don’t want to stop the truth from coming out.  I only want to stop you from printing lies.  Eric and Stephanie have a right to their privacy.  This is a family matter, Bill.  The rest of the world doesn’t need to know.  Besides,” Karen shrugged.  “If you want Forrester back, why haven’t you bought it?  It’s up for grabs now.  When Stephanie left, it went down the drain.”

“I don’t want the shell.  I want Forrester Creations.”

Karen nodded her head, finally understanding.  “Sorry, brother.  That will never happen.  When they got the company back from you, they had their name copyrighted to them so that no one can use the Forrester Creations name ever again without being a legal Forrester.  You’ll have to give your precious Logan brat something else to appease her need for power.” 

Watching her brother storm out of the office, Karen sighed and picked up the phone.  “It’s taken care of, Eric.  I stopped the magazine from going to print.  Take care of Stephanie.  I’ll be by to see her later.”

 

E**S

 

Ridge stared at his father.  “I’m sorry.”

“I thought Thorne told you not to ever come here again.”  Eric growled as he stepped outside the house, closing the door behind him so that Stephanie wasn’t disturbed.

“He did but I,”

“But what, Ridge?  You want to have your way and our way too?  It doesn’t work like that.  We barely averted your mother being torn to shreds in the media because of your obsession with Brooke.  Why can’t you see what she’s done to you?  Is it going to take losing,” he shook his head.  “Hell.  Who would you lose that you care more about than her?  She’s taken first place over your children for so long, you’ve forgotten they exist.  And when you do remember them, you hurt them like you hurt Steffy yesterday.”  Studying his son, Eric shook his head.  “Watch out, Son.  You may find yourself in my position.”

“Dad, wait.”  Ridge called after Eric when he turned to go back inside.  “Please.  I really am sorry.  I caught Brooke talking to Bill on the phone, telling him about Mother.  We argued and she finally admitted that she’d never believed Mother was abused by her father.  She said she’d just acted like she did.  I’m sorry.”

“But what are you sorry for, Ridge?  Sorry that she did what she did?  Sorry that you were a blind fool?  Sorry that you argued with her?  Are you sorry that you caught her and learned the truth of what she really is?  Where is she now?  At home waiting for you with something skimpy on?  If she is, go home.”

“I don’t know where she is, Dad.  I kicked her out.”

Eric blinked as he turned to look back at his son.  “You did what?”

“When we argued she tried to use sex to make me forget but it didn’t work this time.  I finally saw,” he looked toward the door.  “I finally saw what Mother has always seen.  How could I have been so blind for so long?”

“Sex.”  Eric answered honestly.  “It’s what Brooke does best, and what we sadly fall for.  You’re too much like me when it comes to that.”

“That’s what Massimo said.”  Ridge sighed and looked at his father.  “That and he told me I was acting like Grandfather Douglas.”

“That’s what Pam said.  You really upset her.  She’s inside with your mother now.  Hasn’t left her side since we came home and Stephanie took her inside to try and calm her down.  I don’t know what you said and did, and I don’t particularly care, all I care about is that your mother isn’t upset anymore than she already is.  If you go in there, if I let you see her, you had better not leave this house and go straight back to Brooke.”  Giving his son a look, Eric could see in his eyes that he got his meaning.  “I promise you that you won’t like the consequences.  I’ll do anything I have to do to protect Stephanie.  Son or not.”

Ridge stared at his father, for the first time seeing a man that wasn’t a pushover.  In the man standing here before him, he saw a strength he had often saw in his mother.  It was as though his parents had suddenly switched personalities.

 

E**S

 

Stephanie pressed a hand to her chest as she coughed, her eyes closing as she struggled for breath.  Feeling the bed move beside her, she opened her eyes to watch Eric pour her a glass of water.

“Easy, Sweetheart.”  Eric whispered as he helped her sip the water.  Rubbing her back, he waited for her to take another sip before turning to put the water back on his nightstand.  “We’re going to the doctor tomorrow, no arguments.”

Frowning at him, Stephanie nodded as she settled back against her pillows.  “We’ve already been, but fine.”

Sighing, Eric settled against his own pillows.  “Come here, Sweetheart,” he whispered as he held out his arm, waiting for her to move into his embrace.  Kissing the top of her head, he held her close.  “Are you okay?”

Stephanie knew he wasn’t asking if she was okay physically.  The visit from Ridge had been very emotional and draining.  “Things will never be the same with us, but I’m okay.  He’s slowly facing the mess he’s made of his life because of her, and it’s going to take him a long time to fix it.  I just hope he doesn’t get dragged back into her web.”

“Me too, Sweetheart.  What about Pam?  Is she going to be alright?”

“She will be.  She has her own healing to do over what happened.  She knew something bad had happened because of how close we always were, but she was so young that there was nothing she could do.”  Stephanie snuggled closer.  “She spent the night with me in my bed that night and several nights after.  Mother always made her start off in her own bed.  After Mother and Father went to bed, Pammie would sneak back into my room and snuggled up next to me.”

Caressing her hair, Eric smiled.  “Those were good memories in the midst of the bad.  You liked having her with you, didn’t you?”

“I did.  She was warm and would snuggle up to me and ask me to whisper her a bedtime story.  Her little fingers always managed to find their way into my hair.  For a long time I had a permanent curl where she twiddled a strand of my hair over and over each night she slept with me.  I’d have to carefully untangle her fingers so I could move.”

Eric laughed at that.  “I’m glad the years spent apart haven’t damaged your relationship.”

“They didn’t, but her relationship with Stephen Logan very nearly did.”

Sighing, Eric caressed her hand.  “But it didn’t and you have your baby sister back.”

“And I’m leaving her.”  Stephanie sighed as she closed her eyes.  “Can you fix it so Pammie and I can have a day away, just the two of us.”

“I won’t let you go off with just her, but I’ll take you anywhere you want to go and stay out of your way.”

“Why won’t you let us go without you?”

“Because I don’t want something to happen and Pam be the only one with you.  It will scare her and I don’t want that.”

Looking up at her husband, Stephanie lifted a hand to cup his cheek.  “I love you, Eric Forrester.”

“Never as much as I love you, Stephanie Forrester.”