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Episode 40

"Heartbeats Racing"


*Melissa worried about impressing Brice after Tara informed her that him and Nicole would be joining the impromptu dinner they were having.

*Eve walked in on Tom and Tara discussing the kiss they shared. She was angered, questioning them how long they've been doing things behind Melissa's back.

*Brice overheard Gary confessing to Elaine that Melissa and Cassie were his kids.

*Todd admitted that he was gay to Luke. Luke was shocked initially but claimed that it wasn't that big of a surprise afterwards. Todd wondered if Luke had interest in him after Luke said he wanted to talk further about it at Todd's place. Todd also suspected that Luke wanted him to admit that he fell for Luke.

*Cynthia and Lacey continued to not get along so well at work.



Melissa makes sure the steaks look perfect on the plate in front of her. She garnishes it on the side with parsley in hopes to make it look fancier. Outside of the kitchen, she can hear the mixed chatter of voices and laughs, including Brice Jackson, who Nicole introduced her to moments ago. Tara saw right through me, I’m trying to impress him, not that putting parsley on the side of the steaks should. Oh well, I need to stop being so weird and just take these steaks to them! She walks toward the dining room, forcing a wide smile on her face. "I’ve got steaks! "

Brice’s eyes light up when he sees an incoming Melissa, "They smell absolutely fantastic!" He exclaims. So this is my niece dearest? Wow, this is exciting, family members who have yet to be polluted by the Jackson wealth.

Melissa sets the food in the middle of the table, glancing at Tara while she finds her seat next to Tom. Tara looks on edge again, I swear something is bothering her.

Tara diverts her gaze from Melissa and begins rubbing Derek’s leg. Derek looks in her eyes, wearing a playful grin, then whispers in her ear: "Feeling a little frisky, babe?"

Tara forces a grin, "Yeah, very frisky." No, Derek, more like I’m going to pass out from stress. Eve knows about Tom and I! There’s no way she’s going to keep it a secret either, I can see it in her eyes. Tara continues rubbing Derek’s leg as she briefly brings her eyes to Tom. He also looks as though his thoughts are in a state of panic.

Tom breaks the brief glance from Tara and focuses on Melissa, who is chatting with Nicole about her latest modeling shoot. What the hell is wrong with me? Why did I have to screw things up with such a wonderful woman? When Melissa learns the truth about what happened between Tara and I, she’s going to be devastated. Dammit, you have to get your mind off of Tara. You just have to. Thinking about her constantly is only going to make this situation worse!

Eve can’t help but watch Tara and Tom with her full attention. She slowly brings a bite of pasta salad to her lips, What is wrong with the Hetricke men? They can’t seem to stay faithful, that’s what is wrong. I have to tell Melissa about what I overheard. I’d be a horrible mother if I didn’t and god knows I already have been a bad mother. If Melissa and Cassie knew the secret I was hiding...No, Eve, you don’t have to worry about that. The truth about your affair with Gary is going with you to your grave.

While Eve’s thoughts are running amok, Tara reaches for the tray of fries at the same time as Tom. Their hands momentarily touch. She quickly pulls her hand back, knocking down her glass of grape juice all over herself. She jumps from her seat, "I am such a klutz!"

Melissa darts upwards from her own seat, "Oh, Tara, that’s going to stain your new white top! I’m going to go get some paper towels." She rushes to the kitchen.

Tara wipes her shirt with her hand and wears a face of disappointment stronger than the situation of a stained shirt calls for, "Oh, it’s no use Melissa. It’s already stained. I can’t believe what an idiot I am!"

Derek rises from his seat, "Whoa, whoa, Tara! You are being too hard on yourself about this. Hon, what’s wrong? Something has been bothering you ever since I got here."

Tara’s eyes quickly scan the table full of people–particularly Eve and Tom, "This isn’t the place to talk about this, Derek." She lets out a deep sigh, "Look, I think I’m gonna head home. I’m exhausted and I’m going to try to salvage this shirt."

Derek is surprised, "You’re leaving in the middle of dinner? Come on, Tara. This stained shirt isn’t that big of a deal. Do you want to go somewhere in private to talk?"

"Derek, I’m tired and I want to leave. Let’s just leave it at that." Tara grabs her purse as Melissa enters the kitchen with a newly opened roll of paper towels. "You can leave with me if you want but I’d prefer to be alone."

Melissa looks confused, "Where are you going, Tara?"

"I’m really tired and I need to take a nap or something. I hope you don’t care. I had a really fun time shopping with you today, Melissa. Dinner was delicious."

Melissa places the paper towels on the table, "Yeah, I had a fun time too." I knew there was something up with that girl. She never was good at hiding things.

Brice finishes swallowing a piece of steak and rises from his chair, walking toward Tara. "I just wanted to say it was nice to finally meet you, Tara. I must say, beauty does run in the family."

Nicole gives Brice a playful expression, "Are you moving onto my sister now?"

Tara forces a grin, "Thanks Brice. It was nice meeting you as well." At that, she makes her way toward the living room, where the front door is. She never wanted to leave a house more. Being in the same room as Eve and Tom feels like being stuck on a planet without oxygen.

A flustered Derek walks in step with his fiancée, "I’m going home with you."

Once Derek and Tara are gone from the room, Melissa turns her attention toward her guests, "If I knew things were going to turn out so well with this dinner, I would have invited everyone I knew!" The sarcasm is thick in her voice as she tries to inject humor into an increasingly tense room.

"Speaking of inviting more people, where is your sister Cassie at?" Brice questions curiously. Figured I might as well meet the mentally unstable niece as well, it’s always nice to know your family no matter how psychotic their tendencies are.

Meanwhile, Eve’s glance falls onto Tom. She looks at him long enough for him to notice, then casts an expression of disdain. Tom absorbs it while swallowing hard, I deserve that look just as much as Melissa deserves to know the truth. It’s time to face the music, Tom. You have to tell Melissa about you and Tara before her mother does.


Luke studies Todd, silence has fallen between the two men. Luke approaches Todd slowly, "So, here we are."

"Yeah, um, you were going to finish explaining your whole reaction, remember?"

"Reaction? Hmm, doesn’t sound familiar." jokes Luke.

"Hey, don’t joke around about this. What I did tonight, it was huge for me. OK? I never thought I’d come clean about being...you know."

"Gay? Todd, are you scared to say the word?"

"No, of course not!" His tone is pure defense.

Luke grins, "OK, OK. So you want my reaction?"

"Yes." Todd swallows hard, adrenaline kicking in again as he looks over the attractive man before him.

"Like I already said, I was shocked when you first told me. Though when I put two and two together it wasn’t that big of a surprise. Especially considering the night you flipped out on your mother."

"Oh, that." Todd flashes back to his mom ranting and raving about how she didn’t raise a son who supports homosexuals. "She made me absolutely furious. She’s been this way my entire life. She’s not only a bigot toward gay people but she also has this vendetta against blacks. I don’t understand it at all. It was pure hell growing up with her."

Luke wears a sympathetic expression as he places his arm on Todd’s right shoulder. Todd’s eyes dart to the sight of Luke’s hand gently rubbing his shoulder, while his hormones kick in. He looks Luke in the eyes, "I wouldn’t be doing that if I were you, remember, I like men– a lot."

Luke laughs, "Yeah, I know. I didn’t forget."

Todd’s heart is racing, "And then there’s the fact that I fell for you as well. I wasn’t lying about that..."

Satisfaction fills Luke’s face, "I was hoping that was true."

Oh my god, I wasn’t being crazy! Luke wants me!, Thinks Todd excitedly while Luke continues to rub his shoulder. He proceeds to brush his hand gently onto Todd’s cheek, "I have a confession to make myself."

Todd swallows hard, the space between him and Luke is closing in fast. "What would that be?"

"I fell for you too."

At that confession, the space between the two men has been closed. Luke brings his lips to meet Todd’s, with force. Sheer raw desire fuels the passionate kiss. Luke moves Todd against his body, giving into the magnetic force between them, steering Todd toward the couch. They fall onto the couch, Luke landing on top of Todd while the liplock continues, neither man coming up for air.


The DVD player brings the movie The Notebook to an end. Nicholas reaches toward the adjacent coffee table and searches through the dim light for the remote. Cynthia leans against Nicholas and takes in the scent of his cologne. Nicholas brings his arm around to Cynthia’s shoulder, then leans in and places a tender kiss on her cheek.

At the feel of her boyfriend’s lips, she brings her eyes to meet his. "What was that for?"

"For being you." Nicholas begins to rub his hands through her long dark hair.

Cynthia contemplates his comment, finding it odd. "For being me? Well, now that came out of nowhere. So being me is a good thing?"

Nicholas shakes his head and lets out a brief chuckle, "You’re thinking way too hard about this. I was simply showing affection."

"Well in that case…" She forces his lips against her own, letting her tongue cross into his mouth. Electric runs through both of them as they share a romantic kiss that seems to last for a minute. Afterwards, Cynthia gives him a satisfied smile. "I bet you are wondering what that was for."

Nicholas makes a smug expression, "No, I assumed it was for me being me."

Cynthia shakes her head and taps his chest, "Hey, you’re no fun. At least pretend you didn’t know what the kiss was for." She then rises from the loveseat, grabbing a half-eaten bag of Doritos from the coffee table. "I love the fact that this bag of chips was bought by me, you know that? It was seriously only the second time I’ve ever been at a grocery store. I must admit, I really enjoyed it."

"Well I’m glad that being at a lowly place like a grocery store is fun for you." Jokes Nicholas. "That way you can be in charge of buying groceries since I happen to despise the whole process of shopping for the necessities."

Cynthia chuckles, "Well, fine then, that will be one of my household jobs—‘shopping for the necessities’, as you verbosely put it. I love this independence thing. I don’t know what the poor people find so fascinating about being filthy rich and having servants. I don’t think I’m going to miss living at the mansion and having the help wait on me hand and foot."

"Well, that’s good because we don’t have the money to hire any servants." Nicholas says as he rises from the couch, his tone getting increasingly serious. "I meant it when I said it, Cynthia. My funds are going to be solely provided by the salary I make at The Hangout. You can do what you want for money."

"Nicholas, duh, I’m making a salary too! I know that tone of voice. You think I’m going to go running to my daddy for a check. I’m going to prove you wrong. I can live off of the money I’m racking up at the restaurant. I get my first check tomorrow and I can’t wait. I’m going to buy some pretty knickknacks and paintings with it. This place does need some sprucing up." She looks over the bare walls while saying this.

A wide smile forms on his face, "Maybe you should hold off on the paintings until you see your check, Cynthia. Things are going to be pretty tight fiscally around here."

"Are you saying I’m not going to make much money? Nicholas, I happen to have faith that my pay will be decent. I mean, look at the extra jobs that woman is having me do! I’m obviously going to get paid more for doing more stuff than those other waitresses, including that annoying bitch Lacey."

Nicholas quickly turns around, "Why would you call Lacey a bitch? She’s definitely not a bitch."

Cynthia crosses her arms and glances at the window facing Lacey’s house, "You don’t have to work with her, Nicholas. She gets pleasure out of seeing me busting my butt. I also think that Shirley plays favorites with her. Then there is that thing she did with you the other day--having you protect her from that guy. It’s ridiculous!"

Nicholas rolls his eyes and appears perturbed. "I’m going to take a shower."

Cynthia gets a suggestive look on her face, "If you really wanted to make things interesting, I could join you."

"Surprise me." Grins Nicholas as he starts taking his shirt off while heading toward the hallway to the bathroom.

"Maybe I will!" Cynthia yells towards him as he disappears into the bathroom. She heads to the living room and picks up random crumbs and clutter, once again feeling the satisfaction of tending to her own home. After disposing of it, she begins to unbutton her shirt.

She glances towards Lacey’s neighboring house. "Of all people to be living next to, it had to be you. Oh well, I can handle it. At least we’ll only have to deal with each other at work." At that, she rips off her shirt, dashing towards the bathroom, ready to give Nicholas a pleasant surprise.


Everyone has moved to the living room after the abrupt end to dinner, due to Tara’s sudden desire to leave. Sensing the tense atmosphere, Melissa prepared vanilla cappuccino in hopes to liven people up. Tom is sitting upon the floor with his son Philip, playing with toy cars. Every now and then, he casts a worried glance in Eve’s direction.

Meanwhile, Eve stands near the fireplace acting as though she is engrossed in the family pictures that decorate the top of it. Brice moves his way from a conversation with Melissa and Nicole, to her side.

Eve gives him a brief smile, "I can see you are crazy about Nicole. You both appear to be beaming."

Brice glances over at Nicole, "She is something, isn’t she? Yes, I am beaming as you put it. Anyway, I noticed that you looked a bit down. Something bothering you?"

My, he sure makes himself chummy very quickly. "Something bothering me? No, why would you say that?" Unknowingly, her gaze darts to Tom for a few seconds.

Brice notices the gaze. "I don’t know, you’ve seemed very distant and burdened tonight. Do you get along with your son-in-law?"

I can’t believe he’d ask me something like that. He must be very observant. "Tom and I get along perfectly fine." Well, until I learned he has been kissing Melissa’s supposed best friend behind her back. God knows what else they have been doing.

Brice nods, "That’s good. I always hear horror stories about the mothers despising the men or women their children have chose to spend their lives with."

Eve forces a smile, trying to cover the disdain stirring inside for Tom, "Tom and I don’t have that problem, thankfully. We get along wonderfully."

Brice takes a sip of his cappuccino while nodding, "Good. I must say I really love the vibes I’ve gotten from your family. You all seem like a close-knit bunch. Your grandson Philip is adorable as well. You and Gary should be proud."

"Did you just say Gary?" Eve questions, taken by complete surprise.

"Sorry about that! I must have had my brother on the mind, weird as that sounds." Brice begins to laugh, "What a slip-up! I can’t imagine you with the likes of my brother. You’re far too good for him. Though I’d be very curious to see which route your children would take, if you two ever had them, that is." Oh Brice, you’re so mean. She deserves it though, she is hiding that Gary could be Melissa and Cassie’s father from her whole family.

Why would he say something like that? Eve shakes her head in disapproval, "With all due respect, Brice. I’d rather not think of myself having children with a man other than my loving husband. On that note, I’d like to speak to me and Carl’s daughter." She proceeds to make her way over to Nicole and Melissa.

Brice cracks a grin as Eve quickly distances herself from him. Of course you wouldn’t want to think about the painful truth, Eve. If I were in your shoes, I’d never want to fess up to sharing offspring with the likes of Gary. Not to mention, if it ever gets out, Eve’s whole world will be turned upside down. Gary better hope that Carl isn’t a violent man because he’d be out for blood.