Prologue

The cool south breeze was blowing gently through the large French windows of the Volpes' huge Victorian house. The relative calm around the large ranch was a soothing difference to Rei Volpe's ears. She sat on the balcony railing over looking her family's impressive kingdom. But her eyes saw nothing but the face of her beloved. Jaden Connor was out on the range riding a beautiful brown horse. She didn't know what kind of horse he was riding, nor did she care. Her eyes were focused on him. His whip cord lean body, moving gracefully on the horse, his blonde hair brushing smoothly off his handsome face, his chiseled features stealing her breath away, his beautiful blue eyes making her melt. She had never felt this way about anyone, but then Jaden was different. The older of 2, and possibly the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes on. She continued staring at him, her mind filling with fantasies. Suddenly the sound of shattering glass caught her attention.

"You bitch!" The booming voice of her brother sounded strange to her ears.

"It's not my fault you can't get it up!" The sneering voice of her brother's wife shrieked in response.

"Fuck you!" Rei flinched at words, her brother rarely swore, and never to his wife.

"You couldn't now could you Darien!"

"Get out of my house!"

"It's not your house…"

"The hell it isn't! Get the hell out of my house before I throw you out!"

"You can't throw me out of your father's house…"

"No, but I can throw you out of mine!"

"D…Darien?" Rei stammered. "W…what's going on?"

"Oh nothing, just your useless brother's throwing me out of your father's house…"

"It isn't our father's house" Rei interrupted.

"Get out Valessa before I do something I'm going to regret…"

"Like hitting me?"

"No like shooting you!" at his words her eyes widened.

"You wouldn't dare" she didn't seem convinced by her own words.

"Your trespassing, I can shoot you for being on my property, now get out!"

"Fine, not like I want to be here anyways!" and with her face the same flaming color as her hair, she turned and left. As soon as the door shut behind her, Darien turned on his heel and headed for his study.

"Dar…"

"No interruptions, if anyone calls for me I'm busy" he said in a voice devoid of any emotions. He slammed the doors shut and slid the lock closed.

Darien looked at his large oak doors, the gleaming silver handles, the beautiful carved patterns and the antique sliding lock, that could never be jimmied open. He wanted to break the door, for no other reason than to relieve his rage. He looked at it again, before turning his back and heading for the liquor cabinet behind his desk.

Six glasses of Brandy, a bottle of scotch, and 13 tequila shots later, Darien was very drunk. So drunk that he had not noticed his sister climb in through one window on his left.

"Darien? Are you ok?" she asked him, her voice trembling with fear.

"Oh I'm ok, I'm better than ok, I'm…I'm drunk!" he laughed a cold biting drunk laugh, his words slurred and barely comprehendible.

"Darien?"

"She left me you know? She was sleeping," he broke into hideous laughter; "sleeping with him!" he pointed to the picture over by the door.

"Darien…. That's…"

"Damn it I know who that… he… sick… I need another drink," he mumbled, reaching over to the decanter to his left. He poured rather shakily into the glass. "She said I wasn't good enough to…. And he… that…drunk…was better than…. We're out of scotch… be a lamb and get me some more will you?" he slurred.

"I think you've had enough Darien…"

"Don't you be telling me…. My head hurts… stupid bitch, she took my baby away…only it's not…. No brandy either," he mumbled.

"Darien, why don't you go to bed? Everything looks better in the morning…"

"Not without a good shot of Irish coffee, minus the coffee…. she use to say that… she use to say lots of things…. I think I loved her…. isn't that… ah, VODKA!" He clapped his hands together, grabbing the bottle in front of him on his desk.

"Darien, please, please go to sleep"

"Do you want some too? But you can't…your not…. She was… my head really hurts…"

"Dar…"

"You bastard! I loved her! Why… you always…" he screamed at the picture beside the door, in his fury he picked up the decanter and threw it at the picture, showering the floor with glass and wood chunks, the broken frame lay crashed against the floor.

"Served him right… you…. Rei is that you?" he mumbled turning suddenly to her. She nodded weakly. "Want some…"

"No it's ok Darien, I'm just going to go…"

"Ok… be careful of Jaden! He's… he's to old for you Rei…." He muttered. Her cheeks flamed.

"What do you mean be careful of Jaden?"

"You like him… I know," he laughed again "but they always hurt you Rei," he laughed again. "Even if they say they like you…"

Rei started at him for a moment, then shook her head, and turned towards the door. She slid the lock open, and turned to look at him.

"Bye-bye Rei… come again soon…." He grinned at her. She smiled weakly. Then half ran out of his study and towards the front door. She ran out towards the Coral, looking around miserably… damn it where was Jaden?

"Hey honey" a soft deep voice said. She turned around and looked up at Jaden. He smiled at her as he dismounted. "What's the matter… you were running like a bat out of hell…"

"I…its Darien… he's… he's well… Drunk out of him mind!"

"No way, not Darien…" He grinned, and then stopped at the look on her face. "Are you ok?"

"No… he's…it's…" that was all she got out before she burst into tears. Jaden pulled her smoothly into his arms. Cradling her head. He could have kicked himself for forgetting the effect a male being drunk had on Rei.

"I'm sorry honey I didn't…"

"He's…so… so much like…like him… and…"

"Did he hit you?" he asked furiously, moving her forward so that he could examine her.

"No of course not, he would never… not even if he was drunk," she protested.

"Where is he right now?

"In his study, raving…"

"What happened? Darien wouldn't get drunk for no reason."

"Valessa and him had a fight… Darien was raving about her saying he wasn't good enough… something about a baby…"

"Oh lord in heaven" his eyes widened in shock. "Is…is he by himself?"

"No, Sheila's in the house…"

"Was he drinking when you left?"

"Yes…"

"Shit…we better get there before he gets any ideas…"

"What's going on?

"I'll tell you later, right now we had better get back to your house," He looked over her head at someone "Yo, Zoey, I'm going up to house, take the horse back to the stable ok?"

"What am I your servant…?" a tall blonde man asked in a playful manner.

"No you're my damn ungrateful asshole of a brother, now get over here and do what I say…" Jaden said maliciously.

"Whatever, ungrate…yo what's wrong with you guys?"

"Darien's drunk…" Jaden said simply.

"Shit…what the hell are you still doing out here for?" Jaden sighed exasperatedly at his brother's words.

"Clueless one, aren't you?"

"Save the insults for later ass, go on!" Jaden nodded to his brother before taking Rei's slender hand in his, completely missing the look on his brother's face.

"Rei maybe you should stay here with Zoey…"

"He's my brother!"

"He's your drunk brother!"

"So he would never…"

"You don't know that, I've seen your brother drunk before Rei, he gets plenty violent…"

"He's right Rei," Zoey agreed.

"He's MY brother! I won't let you go in there alone, Jaden he won't hit me, but he will hit you, and you know that…"

"Yes well if he hits me he can live with that, if he hits you he wouldn't be able to…"

"He won't hit me!"

"Rei, if he does…"

"He won't!"

"Rei listen to me! If he hits you, I will hit him back, probably knock him out! Do you understand me? I can't let you come because I will hurt him for hurting you!" Rei stared at him for a moment not daring to believe what she had seen cross his eyes.

"W…why?"

"Why else Rei! I love you!" He stopped dead at his own words… he stared at her for a moment, his eyes wide, "I shouldn't have said that, I should not have said that…"

"D…did you mean them…?" her voice trembled.

"Rei…"

"Did you mean them?" she asked again.

"I shouldn't have said it… it was to soon…"

"I have waited half my damned life to hear you say that! And you think that it's too soon?!" she yelled at him in total fury.

"Does that mean…does…do you love me too?"

"Well no really! How could you be so dense?!"

"you…you do?" he moved closer to her, pulling her gently into his arms, she nodded. He smiled a devilish smile, dropping his focus to her mouth, her beautiful lips pleading with him to take them. He dropped his mouth down to hers, intent on taking it…

"Ahem…Darien!" Zoey half yelled to get their attention. Hiding his own hurt behind a smile that did not quite reach his eyes.

"Right…" Jaden groaned releasing her. He looked into her eyes. "Don't go anywhere beautiful" he smiled at her, before turning his back and running full out to the house, his mind filling with sweet dreams, and fear.