Just one of those ideas that came to me and wouldn't rest till I started to put it down on paper. For anyone confused with the numbers here, I'm doing soap math, and as you know they're always skewed, and since people say that John's too old for Natalie, that must mean that there's a large age gap between him and Michael. . .

Twisted Lives

Lanview

Present

Natalie stared as John pushed himself up and off of her body. Silently he rolled over and off the bed, picking up his clothes and pulling them back on. "Well, you got what you wanted didn't you?" he said bitterly as he tucked his shirt into his pants.

"John, what. . ." she asked confused as she shifted to sit up, holding the blanket to her chest, suddenly embarrassed.

"No maybe, you'll leave me alone. Stop trailing after me like a puppy dog. Maybe you'll stop sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong."

"John. . .I thought. . ."

"I know what you thought, Natalie," he answered spitting the words at her. "But you were as wrong as Evangeline. I've only ever loved one woman and she's dead. I'd never love someone else."

"But. . . you said. . .and. . ."

"I said what I said. Maybe I meant it. Maybe I didn't. But I mean this: you got what you wanted. So did I, and it's done. Don't be here when I get back," he advised before he walked away, leaving her lying with only a blanket covering her on his bed.

Once outside his room, he leaned against the wall, trying to remind himself that this was all he could do. That he couldn't live with another life on his hands. That he could never allow himself to love again. . .

Chapter 1

Lanview

Future

Detective. Rex Balsom scanned the scene. In all his years on the force he had rarely seen something so disturbing as the remnants of the attack on Genevieve Black, and even more rarely for little to no known reason.

Stepping back he nodded to the lead from the Crime Lab, "what do you think?"

"It's a mess, Rex. That's about all I can say right now," Starr Manning shot back.

"There's something not right about this," he said simply.

"There're things not right about most crimes, but I agree with you. The evidence that I'm seeing seems almost. . . I don't know. . . staged somehow."

"Think we're dealing with another serial?"

Starr rolled her eyes as she looked up at him from the floor: "G-d I hope not. I hate serials," she added as she looked back down then cocked her head slightly. "And no. . . this. . . even with the problems. It seems personal somehow."

"Yeah. I get that vibe too," Rex said as he started to move around the room. "There are messages, mind if I play them."

"Not as long as you have the gloves on and don't ruin my evidence," she shot back.

Rolling his eyes at the verbal jab, Rex slipped the gloves on and looked at the read out: "she's pretty popular. Has a bunch of messages."

"She made friends quick. Hangs out with the cousins McBaine a lot."

"Nice crew," Rex snarked.

"You have to get over that at some point, Rexie, my pet," Starr shot back as she rose.

"The brothers McVain ran my sister- your cousin- out of town with the Evangelical one, I'm not dropping it."

"Twenty years Rex."

"Without a word, Starr," he shot back.

"Play the messages, would you?" she ordered as she started to go through a nearby drawer.

Predictably to Starr the first messages were from 'the cousins McBaine.' Vernon, the up tight, book smart son of Evangeline and John and Gabby, the free spirited, creative, daughter of Michael and Marcie, both who always seemed to be together. And both who balanced each other out enough to get the other through College early and without suicide.

The next message was from Jamie Gannon concerning Gennie's shift at Capricorn, followed by a more irate one for the younger girl missing it and not calling in.

After that were a couple calls from guys whose eyes' Gennie had caught, then things started to take a bit of a turn.

"Hey Starr, this voice sound familiar to you?" Rex asked as he stopped a message.

"Yeah, but not attached to that name. Play it again. . ." the younger girl said as she came closer to them.

Blackie, it's Rissa. You have got to call and check in! I swear I don't know what the hell you're thinking. Call me!

"If I didn't know better, I'd say that was Shannon," Rex mussed.

"Well maybe you don't, because that's who I was thinking too. She in town?"

"No."

"You sure?"

"Yeah. She drops in when she's in town."

"Does she now?"

"Don't start, all right?"

"Fine. I won't," Starr shrugged as the next message started.

Gen, it's Aunt Molly. . . Hon, I know you're still mad at me and your Mom. But, Sweetie, it wasn't all lies. I'll be in Lanview later, and I'll tell you the whole story. I promise. Just. . .Never mind. And listen I told Brady where you are, and he's agreed not to tell your mother, as long as you call and check in. Call him, OK?

"So our girl has secrets?" Rex mused.

"What crime vic doesn't?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah."

Blackie its Bri. . . Damnit sis, I thought we had a deal on this! Don't go and do anything stupid. Just. . . Look I managed to get a look at some files, and your mom didn't lie. He signed papers, or. . .well, if he didn't someone forged them. You could be in SOOOO much trouble there. Call me at work!

"Someone sounds worried. Wonder what was in those files."

"Have them subpoenaed once we have something," Starr suggested as she moved to another set of drawers while another message played.

Gennie, its Dad- Brady- I don't know what you want me- what you want to call me now. Kiddo, I know this. . . look, just call in. Your mother's worried sick. Hell, I even almost called Uncle Phil to help me look, and you know how I hate calling in favors with him. Call and let me know that you're all right at least. Besides, your mother isn't stupid. If Aunt Molly's figured out where you are I can guarantee that she has too and she's only giving you enough time to come to some conclusion. But she worries. So do I.

"Running from family problems," Rex mussed as the messages from more friends played out. "Fairly typical."

"Maybe not. Rex, take a look at this. You recognize the guy?" Starr asked holding up a picture.

Frowning slightly, Rex came over and took it whistling slightly under his breath: "John Black, if I'm not mistaken."

"My thought to. You know if she's one of those Blacks. . ."

"We have a whole heck of a lot more trouble than we thought."

"Yeah, I'd rather be dealing with a serial," Starr sighed as she shifted through the stack of pictures, most of Gen with people she couldn't recognize. "I'm Rex, I think you better. . ." she started as Matthew Buchanan stepped into the room.

"Detective, you might want to come out here for a second," he said simply.

"Yeah? Why's that?" Rex asked, as he stared down the Rookie cop.

"Lady outside. Saids she knows Gen, but she's not from around here."

"OK, maybe she can give us some answers," Rex said as he walked out.

"Rex. . ."

"Let him go, Starr. He never looks back- especially not at you.'

"Why don't you go play in traffic, Matthew?" Starr shot back at her ex boyfriend, "at least then you'd have a purpose besides contaminating a crime scene."

"I. . ."

"Bye Matthew. Some of us actually do the jobs we're paid to," she added as she flipped her hair and turned back to her work, making a mental note to check in with Rex with the file she'd found in the drawer as soon as she could. . .