"Do you want your older sister to get hurt?" Jackson asks. "Of course not," Gabrielle says, feeling her face get hot with anger. "If you don't want that to happen, you'd better behave yourself," Jackson says. Gabrielle twists her arm and jerks her wrist free from Jackson's fingers. She lifts her knee and slams it into his crotch, and he doubles over in pain. She kicks his shin as hard as she can and runs toward the elevators, listening to him scream curses and threats. She jams her finger into the elevator button and breathes a sigh of relief as the doors finally slide closed. She grabs her phone and types a warning message to Avery. Gabrielle knows that Evan and his bodyguards try to protect Avery, but they seem to fail more often than they succeed. In the last few months, Avery has been in too many dangerous situations. I can't bear to see her get hurt again, Gabrielle thinks. "Mr. Howel, I have some good news," a servant says. "Mrs. Howel has started eating again." Evan smiles and races down the hall to Avery's bedroom. Does this mean she's finally forgiven me? He wonders. He throws the door open and sees Avery sitting in the center of the bed. She's leaning back against the headboard, and she's as still as stone. She barely even glances at him as he enters. Okay, so she's still mad, he thinks. That's okay, though. As long as she's started eating again—there's hope. She's been practically comatose for ages, refusing to get up or eat anything. If she's started eating again, it means she's worried about the baby. I can work with that. Evan paces the room throwing nervous glances at Avery, but she doesn't seem to notice him. The calmer she seems, the more worried he gets. He balls his hands into fists and stomps over to her bed. "Avery, it's time you stopped acting so goddamn childish," he says coldly. "It's one thing to be angry with me, but I won't stand by and watch you destroy yourself and our child." Avery's lip twitches, but she remains silent and still. Evan lowers his voice and leans in closer. He hates himself for what he's about to say, but he's willing to try anything to get her attention. "What about your sister?" he asks. "You clearly don't care about yourself or me or our child, but what about Gabrielle? Don't force me to do something to her. I swore that I wouldn't hurt anyone around you anymore, but you can't treat me this way. " Avery opens her mouth and then snaps it shut. Evan can see the hurt and betrayal in her eyes, and it makes him sick to his stomach. He wants to stroke her angry face and kisses the frown off her lips. He wants to throw himself on his knees and apologize until he loses his voice. Instead, he frowns down at her. "Say something," Evan demands. Avery grabs her phone and taps out a quick message. She hits send, and Evan's phone buzzes immediately. He pulls it from his pocket and reads the message: Take responsibility and make things right, and then I'll think about speaking to you. Evan kicks the bottom of the nightstand. "Shit, Avery," he says. "Why are you always so stubborn?" Avery ignores him and continues to look at her phone. Suddenly her eyes widen with fear. She frowns and quickly puts the phone away. Evan fights the urge to grab the phone and read the message. He wants to know what scared her, but he can't risk making her even angrier. "What's going on?" he asks. "Avery, please tell me. I'm worried about you." Before he can ask again, Robert rushes into the room. The butler's face is red and sweaty, and he looks impatiently between Evan and Avery. Evan ignores him, but Robert crosses the room and clears his throat. "Sir, I have news," Robert says. "The Meyer family—" "Not here," Evan snaps with a quick glance at Avery. He's not sure if he imagines it or if she seems to be listening more closely than before. He grabs Robert by his collar and drags him down the hall and into his study. He closes the door firmly behind them and then turns to face Robert. "What about the Meyer family?" Evan asks. "Well, as you know, Charles Meyer is still alive," Robert says. "That is, he's alive for now, but he's constantly on the verge of death. The doctors don't think he'll live more than 17 months—and they're not even sure he'll make it that long." "Yes, and?" Evan asks impatiently. "Well, Charles might survive if his heart can be put back into his body, but that's almost impossible," Robert says. "I'm not sure how, but somehow Andrew Clifford has his heart." Evan frowns and wonders if Avery knows. He thinks about the incident in the lingerie store: he pointed his gun at Andrew's chest, and Avery threw herself between him and Andrew. Is that why she was so protective of him? Evan wonders. But if she knew that Andrew had Charles' heart, why didn't she know that I shot Charles? It doesn't make sense. "The Meyer family seems ready to start a war against us, but I think they'd reconsider if we found a way to save Charles' life," Robert says. "I don't see how that's possible," Evan says. "I can't imagine Andrew giving up the heart." "I don't think he would," Robert says. "The doctors informed our men that Andrew's health is much poorer than it seems. They say he might not survive another surgery. It doesn't seem likely he'd risked his life for Charles." Evan sighs with frustration. I don't give a damn about any of these people, he thinks. In fact, I'd be happy if every last Meyer and Clifford was rotting in hell. Still, it's important to Avery, and she asked me to make it right. I have to try, at least. "Set up an appointment with Andrew," Evan orders. Robert raises his eyebrows in surprise, but he pulls out his tablet and gets to work. Feeling impatient and irritable, Evan leaves the study and walks down the hall to check on Avery again. He throws the doors open, but the bed is empty. He looks around the room, but there's no sign of her anywhere. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Howel," a servant stammers. "She asked me to get her some fruit and water, and when I came back, she was just gone." "Does anyone have any idea where she is?" Evan shouts. A bodyguard runs into the room and answers, "Mrs. Howel said she wanted to go to the hospital. I sent two of my best men with her, sir." "She probably just went to visit Bryan," Robert said as he rushes down the hall. "If she has bodyguards with her, I'm sure she'll be fine." "Do you want to stake your life on that?" Evan asks. "Quick, send more bodyguards after her!" Avery walks down the hospital corridor, followed by two bodyguards. The men walk so close behind her, and she can almost feel their hot breath. She wants to ask them to back off, but she thinks about Gabrielle's text message. She pulls her phone from her purse and reads it again: Sister, please be careful when you go out and never leave the house alone. Jackson Oliver is threatening to hurt you as a way of getting back at Evan. Avery thinks about the icy way Jackson looked at her in the nursing home, and she feels goosebumps form on her arms. She takes a deep breath to calm herself and then knocks on the door to Bryan's room. Bryan grunts on the other side, and she pushes the door open and walks into the small but bright room. Though Bryan's fingers are wrapped with thick gauze, he's tapping away on his phone's screen. Every few seconds, he curses under his breath and taps harder on the screen—he seems to be playing some sort of game. He glances up at her and gives her a warm, carefree smile. She snatches the phone out of his hands and twists his ear as hard as she can. "Get off me," he complains. "Are you trying to kill me?" "I think you might be better off dead," Avery says. "What were you thinking, Bryan? Gambling at Dragon Bay Casino—do you have any idea what kind of people own that place? How could you be so stupid?" "I'm not a gambler, and I swear," Bryan says. "My friends brought me there, and I swear it was the first time I've ever been there. Anyway, it'll definitely be the last." "What's wrong with you, Bryan?" Avery asks. "You have everything: you're a rising star, everyone wants to book you for their movies and ad campaigns, and you're doing your best to throw it all away." "I'm sorry, okay?" Bryan says. "I already said I'm sorry. What do you want—an apology letter or something?" "An apology letter might be a nice start," Sophie's cool voice says from the door. "You can make it 100,000 words long—one word for every dollar of your debt." Avery lets go of Bryan's red ear, and he clumsily rubs it with his bandaged fingers. Sophie leans against the door, looking like she's aged several years in the last few days. She smiles kindly at Avery and gives her a warm hug. "How are you, dear?" Sophie asks. "I called your house a few days ago, but the servant I spoke to said you were sick in bed." "I'm alright," Avery says. "It's just been a difficult few days." "You can say that again," Sophie says grimly. "Do you mind stepping outside to have a word with me?" "Of course," Avery says, following Sophie into the hall. Sophie shuts the door to Bryan's room and says quietly, "I haven't told him yet. To be honest, I'm not sure how. Right now, he thinks I'm here to talk about work on a future campaign." Avery sighs and says, "It'll be difficult. Bryan has always hated his birth mother for abandoning him. Don't get me wrong, he loved Nanny, but he always wondered why his birth mother didn't want him." She squeezes Sophie's hand and continues, "Let me tell him. I'll find a way to do it gently." "Thanks, dear," Sophie says with a grateful smile. "Now, have you thought any more about my offer?"