Episode 22: "Cold Shoulder"
Part One

In Field Fly Sports Pub

At a nearby table, Kendra watched with a hawk like eye over Lana and Bryce as they shared a seemingly involved conversation. Even the news of the closing of the In Field Fly Sports Pub couldn't postpone her pursuit of Bryce. While the Pub was the only reason she would ever set foot in Palm Terrace, Kendra knew that she had to snag Bryce's attention before one of her genuine excuses to see him expired. She bided her time for the moment Lana departed so she could swoop in to devour any lasting impression Lana would leave behind her. With so much time loss in devotion to showing Jake her obligatory gratitude, Kendra felt that the window of opportunity on capturing Bryce's attention was growing smaller by the minute.

Deeply impressed by Bryce's heroics at El Patio Apartments, she affirmed every reason for interest in him...his substantially attractive looks, his underrated intelligence, and now his selfless nature. Set in his deep olive colored eyes, Kendra found a breathless captivation and she dreamed of drowning in those eyes for the rest of her life. Despite the rugged nature of his occupation, Kendra felt that Bryce took care of himself very well, taking note of such detail in the chiseled body his clothes always emphasized. Never had she found herself in the rapture of lust and throws of desire as she did whenever she gazed upon him.

Perhaps the possibility that she could never have him fueled her desire for Bryce even more. Indeed he seemed to have a disturbing (To Kendra) desire for Lana Whitmire but Kendra was too determined to consider having any disadvantage. No one had ever resisted her before and she was certain Bryce could help her flawless track record stay afloat. Kendra hoped that the first step of luring Bryce to Blake Manor to design her guesthouse put her foot in the door of Bryce's heart. Now armed with the knowledge of Bryce's favorite pastime of baseball, Kendra launched the second wave of her pursuit. She strutted to his table.

"Bryce," Kendra addressed him with her icy blue eyes and her unwavering confidence. "I have great news!" She proceeded to relay the details of her purchase of the Bay Area Tempests minor league baseball team. "Just think, you and me, lounging in an executive suite at Creighton Stadium. Forget peanuts and hot dogs, we're talking champagne and caviar!"

Bryce smiled uneasily, reluctant to accept Kendra's open invitation to take advantage of first class treatment. "That sounds really extravagant, Kendra. But is all this because of my designing your guesthouse? I usually don't receive generous contracts like yours, but this does seem like a little too much..."

Kendra's determination remained stagnant. "What? Too busy to take in a ball game? I figured that with you loving baseball, that this was a way for us to get to know each other away from the guesthouse designs."

"I don't know," Bryce wore a look of uncertainty. "It just doesn't seem right. It feels like this could create a conflict of interest in our business relationship."

Kendra looked taken aback. She pouted her full, luscious red lips. "What's wrong? You don't want to get to know me better?" Her icy blue eyes shaded with a pitiful pretense of sadness.

Bryce's skeptical face vanished as he regretted his defensive remarks. "I'm sorry, Kendra. It's not like I don't want to get to know you. But this doesn't look good for my other clients. They may take your invitation as a bribe to get your designs done first, or better, or more inexpensively."

"But there's more to it, isn't there?" Kendra persisted, her voice taking an unusually high pitch. Her high flying spirits of confidence had taken a nosedive extremely quickly. "Who wouldn't want to go to a Tempests game? Or is it me? Is there something wrong with me?"

"No, no, nothing's wrong with you," Bryce quickly insisted. He put a comforting hand on Kendra's shoulder. "But you have to understand that we're business partners. I don't object to getting to know who you are, but accepting this invitation would undermine my morality of my professional reputation." He momentarily glanced up from their conversation. His eyes caught sight of Lana crossing the room and softened in a state of sentiment.

Kendra noticed his brief cessation and followed his gaze. Pursing her lips in dismay, she bitterly responded. "You'd much rather get to know someone else in your spare time? Someone like Lana Whitmire?"

Kendra's mention of Lana's name snapped Bryce back to attention. Alluding to the dark expression on Kendra's face, he finally understood the motives behind Kendra's invitation. "Kendra, you're sweet, and there's no doubt that you're incredibly beautiful..."

Kendra continued where Bryce left off "...but I'm not Lana. And you are interested in Lana. For what reasons, I can't fathom. I mean, come on, Bryce, she's second rate. You deserve someone who can devote themselves to you in the most fulfilling ways. She obviously doesn't have what it takes to make you happy."

Bryce narrowed his eyes at Kendra's remarks. "Doesn't have what it takes?" Bryce repeated foully. "You mean she doesn't have the heaps of wealth to wave in front of everyone's eyes, as you do?" He ignored Kendra's appalling gape. "Maybe I can put things in perspective for you. I'm not interested in spoiled, self-involved snobs like you. I don't care about caviar or imported arrays of salad dressing. You don't know Lana at all. If you did, you'd know that she's selfless and dependable, witty and fun. There's more to her than just beauty and she takes care of herself in more ways than one."

Kendra clenched her jaw tight. "Well, you don't have to go through the whole laundry list," She huffed, standing from the table. Her ice blue eyes flashed outrageously. "If I may say one more thing." Bryce raised his eyebrows expectantly. Kendra leaned in close to him and hissed in his ear, "You have no idea how huge a mistake you're making." She straightened, turned on her heal, and sauntered away provocatively. Behind her trailed envious and gawking stares from male bystanders, who turned toward Bryce with expressions of disbelief.

Part Two

Fi-Lo Office Supplies Corporate Office, Blount Building, Downtown

Mae grinned mischievously as she dialed Simon's extension on her telephone. The office was closed for the day but Mae decided to keep Simon company as he put the finishing touches on a Power Point presentation for the next marketing meeting. After catching up on her own work, Mae felt the urge to distract Simon from his. As she waited for Simon to answer, she unbuttoned her blouse and removed the silky satin briefs she wore beneath her dangerously short black mini skirt. Lana warned me that these were a little scandalous. Boy, she had no idea!

"Fi-Lo Marketing, Simon Pratt speaking," Simon answered in a business tone that Mae couldn't take seriously.

Mae clamped her hand over her mouth to suppress her giggles. She moved to sit cross-legged on the edge of her desk and pressed the speaker button on her phone. Then in her most seductive voice, she purred "Mr. Pratt, a package is waiting for you at the front desk." She waited for his reply. She heard shuffling and she looked up to see Simon poke his head out of the door to his office. She uncrossed her legs, hiked up her mini skirt a couple of inches, and smiled with satisfaction.

Still holding the receiver to his ear, Simon's jaw dropped in awe. "I'll be there in just a moment." Quickly, he ran back to his desk, slammed the receiver and phone done, and began to undress. He practically ripped his necktie in half as he yanked it off. He hopped on one foot as he struggled to pull off his shoes and socks. Awww, the hell with it! He dashed into the front office wearing only his boxer shorts.

Mae batted her long eyelashes at Simon and held up an index finger to motion to Simon. "Ready to open your package?"

Simon's heart beat fast until he stood looking down on her sitting on the desk. He pulled her waist closer to him and gazed into her doe blue eyes. He ran a finger over her full pale pink lips, nodding his head to indicate he was ready. He leaned down and kissed her hungrily, his tongue lashing in and out of her mouth as he drank in the feel of her lips.

Mae quickly pulled back, gasping for air. Simon looked at her with a questioning gaze. Looking down at his lower body, Mae smiled knowingly, wrapped her legs around him and pulled his hips closer to her. Simon felt the instant fire on her skin. He tried to smother the heat, pressing down between Mae's thighs with his urges. Mae's hands slid down his back and crept to his boxers, her fingers teasing the skin just under the garters. Simon placed his hands over hers and helped her pull the shorts from the curves of his hips before deftly moving his hands up her back to unsnap her bra.

Mae looked behind her, and upon seeing the various office supplies on her desk recklessly shoved the contents of her desk to the floor. Simon laughed. "What a mess!"

Mae laid back on the top of the desk and stared back at him with blazing eyes. "Not as big as the mess you're about to make." Simon knew exactly what she meant and helped to make her prediction come true. Their moans echoed down the hallways as Simon made the most of the deserted office. Mae writhed in ecstasy against him. Her grip grew tighter on his back, her nails raking deep against his skin, her lips imbibing the taste of his lips. Simon pulled his lips away and pressed his cheek against hers, holding her closer to his body until he felt the release of agonizing pleasure. He collapsed on top of her, breathing hard.

"Simon?" Simon looked into Mae's eyes, falling into the depth of neediness they ultimately expressed. Suddenly, he felt repulsed by the very sight of her, knowing that he would never need her in the way she needed him. He understood the relentless need that their torrid encounter had spawned within Mae and yet he wanted no meaningful connection with her. He concluded that their rendezvous together were increasing with excessive emotion and while he comprehended completely all that he would have to surrender, Simon decided that he had enough of Mae.

Part Three

In Field Fly Sports Pub

"I have to go through a couple of weeks of physical therapy, but it shouldn't hinder my job search," Jake explained to Lana. "I'll be as good as new. The nurses tell me that I've done such a great job keeping myself physically fit that it should contribute to a speedy recovery." He paused when he noticed the distant look in Lana's eyes, whose stare had drifted away from him. "Lana? Lana, are you with me here?" He waved his hand in front of her eyes.

Lana snapped out of her daydream and blinked her eyes in confusion. "What? Speedy? Yes, I'm sure Speedy Gonzalez is physically fit..."

Jake rolled his eyes at her. "What is wrong with you?" He demanded to know.

"What do you mean, what's wrong? Nothing's wrong. Everything is peachy keen." Lana answered nonchalantly. She stood up to take her empty glass back to the backstop bar. Jake grabbed on to her arm. "Hey! What are you doing?"

"Something's up," Jake pulled Lana's arm firmly so she sat back down on the bar stool. "Something's been different. I can't exactly pinpoint it."

Lana gave him a quizzical look. "Different? Different how? We're back to hanging out at the Pub, just as we always do."

Jake shook his head and continued to explain, "We haven't had a real conversation ever since my accident. You hardly came to visit me in the hospital. I'd call you from the hospital and you were never home, and I know you're home on Thursday evenings so you don't miss Friends."

"I'm sorry, Jake," Lana apologized. "I actually did come to visit you at the hospital. Several times, as a matter of fact. But every time I did, Kendra was there with you already."

Jake frowned, confused by Lana's excuse. "Just because Kendra was there doesn't mean I didn't need you there. Come on, Lana. You're my best friend. Of all people, I thought you would be by my side. You know, coaching me on my way to recovery."

"Do I always have to be your trusty sidekick? You don't always need for me to be there for you. Besides, I've been there for you through some really trying times. Your mom's passing, your losing your job at the Tribune. Bryce may not be my best friend and I might not know him well enough, but what I do know is that in the short time that I've known him, he was there for me when I needed you. How many times can you say that about Kendra?"

"Oh, don't you drag her into this..."

"Why the hell not? She's the reason you almost got yourself killed in the first place. Sure, she's trying her best to say thank you now, but do you really think there's more to it than that?" She pointed over his shoulder at Kendra and Bryce sitting together at a private table. Jake turned his head in that direction. "You've seen and heard it for yourself. She spends her spare time chasing after Bryce. That's how she is. She plays with you until she's taken everything she wants from you, then moves on to a different field. But Bryce won't play her game."

Still refusing to believe in Kendra's tragic flaws, Jake crossed his arms in front of him and shot back at her. "Oh, and you think that Bryce's intentions for you are honorable? For all we know, he's just looking for a quick romp with you in the sack."

Lana was so shocked by Jake's nasty remarks that she slapped him hard across the face. As soon as her hand flew, just as quickly she withdrew it to cover her own gaping mouth.

Jake could only stare with the widest disbelieving eyes back at her, rubbing his sore cheek with a hand. His usually grinning handsome face contorted with profound indignation. "Like I've said before," He replied in an acidic tone he had never before used with Lana. "You don't know her like I know her. I may have saved her life physically. But she returned threefold and saved my life on a level you would never comprehend. You don't understand how I was hanging on by the most diminutive of threads and she was there to pull me up. In that sense, she was there for me when I needed you most."

Lana felt the saturation of tears in her eyes and she fought to reveal their appearance. The irony behind Jake's harsh words was nearly unbearable. I was there for you, even in your darkest hour. She wanted to tell him that she was by his bedside just as she had always been. But she knew that revealing the truth behind Jake's miraculous awakening, that it was not Kendra who pulled him through his comatose state, would tear Jake's heart in two. "Then I guess there really isn't much more for us to discuss." She stood up from her bar stool.

Jake refused to look back at her. "Some friend you turned out to be," He muttered under his breath.

Lana finally let one tear escape from her eyes. Turning away from Jake, she slowly walked away from the table. She headed toward the exit but paused for a moment. She turned back to the table and saw that Kendra had taken her place next to Jake. She sighed. This was bound to happen some time.

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