Written by: Dallas Walsh
   

"Oooh, Mac," Carmen Santos moans out in delight as she lays on her back and looks up at Mac Rockwell's muscular chest as he thrusts into her again. "Please don't stop," she purrs as her eyes roll back into her head.

Mac lets out a loud grunt as he explodes into a climax before he looks down at the younger woman, who has become his lover. He leans down and kisses her passionately before he lays next to her and tries to catch his breath and control his rapid heart rate.

"I have no idea how you do that," Carmen purses her lips together before she looks over at her lover.

"Do what?" Mac says with a sly grin on his face.

"Get better at making love to me every time it happens," Carmen smiles back to him. She recalls how a few months ago, Mac returned to his office at Rockwell Mining looking like he was about to blow a fuse. Carmen, who has been Mac's secretary at Rockwell Mining, asked her boss if she could do anything. In a swift moment, Mac grabbed her and kissed her passionately. They made love for the first time right there, on Mac's desk. And, they have been lovers ever since. Now, Carmen isn't about to let Mac go; she's always dreamed of having a successful, wealthy, good looking man in her life. Now, all she needs is to ensure he doesn't go anywhere. After years of living pay cheque to pay cheque, she knows that this is her ticket to the golden life style she has always wanted.

Mac chuckles back to her. "Well, it takes two to tango," Mac looks over at her. "We just have really good chemistry."

"All this discussion," Carmen sits up in the bed and looks over at her lover. "Makes me wonder something."

"And, what is that?" Mac asks her looking into her big brown eyes.

"When are you going to finalize your divorce from Lydia?" Carmen asks him. "When we can officially be together? I want you to end your marriage."

Mac uneasily chuckles back to her. "It is a work in progress. Lydia can be … difficult," he tells her.

"I don't care," Carmen informs him as she crawls out of bed and slips a silk robe over her naked body. "Make it happen, Mac. Let's be together once and for all."

***

"OhhhhhMyGoooodddddddd," Lydia Rockwell moans out as her lover, Noel Baker, climaxes and then collapses on to the large king size bed in their suite at the country club. Lydia tries to catch her breath, fresh from another intense love making session with her younger lover, before she looks over at him. "God, I needed that more than you'll ever know."

Noel chuckles to himself. "I could tell," he winks back to her. "We just had sex yesterday, but you were really pent up again."

"You have no idea the mess my personal life is in right now," Lydia crawls out of the bed and moves to the large desk where there is a decanter. She pours two brandies and moves back to the bed to pass Noel one. "You're the brightest spot in my life right now."

Noel uneasily smiles back to her as he accepts the brandy. While he enjoys having sex with Lydia, he gets the feeling that she'd like there to be more of a relationship between them, and that is something he isn't ready for. "Well, you know that I'm happy to listen to you anytime you need to vent, or whatever."

"The or whatever is what I'm enjoying," Lydia licks her lips before she takes another sip of the brandy. "Look, Noel, it's almost Christmas time. We've been doing this fooling around thing for a while now. How about for Christmas, I get my divorce from MacKenzie finalized and then you and I could really be together?"

Noel freezes at the suggestion. He slowly takes another sip of his brandy. "Cat got your tongue?" she purses her lips together before she leans in and kisses him again. "Don't worry about it, I'll make my divorce happen. I promise you that."

***

"What the hell do you mean you're moving out?" Sabine Andrews shrieks from the top of the staircase in the penthouse as Kent Blackmore drags a suitcase to the front door. She starts to storm down the stairs still shocked by what her lover has just told her: Kent will be moving out of the penthouse, the home they share, and back in to the Blackmore mansion with his ex-wife, Vivian Blackmore, because she found out, months ago, that she is dying. Sabine has no idea what has gotten into Kent, but this was the last thing she expected to have happen.

"I wish you could try to remain calm," Kent looks over at her, past the large Christmas tree with it's twinkling lights, as he pours himself a brandy. He takes a sip of it and then looks back at Sabine. "This is just temporary."

"This was supposed to be our first Christmas together!" Sabine's antics continue. "I was hoping it would be special and amazing. Instead, I find out you want to shack up with your ex-wife, who loathes me, by the way."

"I'm not shacking up with Vivian," Kent tries to tell her. "You know what Deacon Cooper told her, she only has a few months to live. And that was 6 months ago. I'm just trying to give Vivian, and Houston, a Christmas that they will both remember for the rest of their lives. Surely, you can understand that, can't you?"

Sabine feels her heart sink. She realizes that Kent is trying to do the right thing, but it is coming at her expense. "Of course, I understand that," she finally calms down. "I guess I'm just worried that you will never come back. What if Vivian suddenly gets better?"

"Accordingly to Deacon, there is better a chance of a pig flying," Kent chuckles before he walks up to her and puts his arms around her. "Don't worry, I love you, Sabine. I want to be with you. I'm simply trying to make Vivian's last days here more bearable. That's all."

"I love you too," Sabine looks back into his eyes, as snow fall can be seen in the large window behind her. "This is just not the Christmas I was expecting."

***

"Are you absolutely sure that this is going to work?" Vivian asks Deacon as she rushes around her bedroom trying to get everything perfect before Kent arrives at the mansion. Vivian was thrilled when Kent took her up on the offer to move back into the mansion for the holiday season as he thinks she is terminally ill. Vivian can't help but get a wicked grin on her face, knowing that she has paid Deacon to tell everyone that she is dying, when in fact she is perfectly fine. A part of her feels bad for lying to her son, Houston Blackmore, because he has been worried sick about her, but she knows that getting Kent back is her goal. And, this is the only way she could think of to get Kent away from Sabine. She just hopes that it works. Plus, Houston will be thrilled when his parents reunite and then she can go into remission. But first, she has to ensure Kent marries her. Otherwise, she risks losing him to Sabine.

"As long as you follow the directions of our plan, I don't see how this wouldn't work," Deacon replies to her. "But my part in this has to be kept secret, Vivian. No one can know that I misdiagnosed you. It could cost me my medical practice!"

"Don't worry about that," Vivian waves her hand in the air. "I will never breathe a word of this to anyone. I just have to make sure that I get Kent back. We can deal with everything else after that happens."

"Kent moving in is a good first step," Deacon tells her.

"Yes, very," Vivian replies to him. "And that's only the beginning. I will marry Kent by Christmas day. Mark my words, Deacon. This plan has to work. I refuse to accept anything less."

***

"How the hell are we supposed to be feeling festive when you and Mom are getting another divorce?" Stacey Rockwell asks her father as she pours herself a brandy before looking at the 18 foot Christmas tree that is immaculately decorated in white diamond-themed Christmas ordainments. Stacey takes a sip of her drink before she looks at Mac as Christmas music softly plays on the record player; she can't believe that after getting remarried to Lydia, her parents are already getting another divorce so quickly. It hasn't even been a year since they got remarried. She had hoped that things would have been different this go around.

"Darling," Mac replies to her. "You of all people should know that sometimes things don't work out between two people. Your mother and I, we will always care for each other, but we are not meant to be married. I wish you, and your brothers would learn to understand that."

"Understand what?" Cole Rockwell asks as he moves into the living room. "How you and mom are playing a game of tennis of whether or not you're together or apart again?"

"At least someone agrees with me!" Stacey tells him as she hugs Cole hello.

"I wish you two would stop being so dramatic," Mac waves his hand in the air. "This family will still come together for Christmas, like we always do! Does it really matter if Lydia and I are married for that day, or any day, for that matter?"

Before Stacey can reply, she hears her cell phone ping. She picks it up and looks at the incoming message. "I have to take off and see Houston," Stacey informs them. "Daddy, we'll talk later. And Cole, can you please try to talk some sense into him?"

Cole chuckles as Stacey leaves the room before he sighs and looks over at his father. "I'm guessing there's no changing your mind about you and Mom?"

"I will tell you what I told Stacey," Mac informs to him. "Some people are not meant to be married; your mother and I are two of those people."

"Very well," Cole tells him. I won't harp on you about Mom. Just think about the divorce before you do something you might regret," Cole tells him. "Anyways, I'm glad I have you alone for a moment. I wanted to talk to you about something. Something important."

Mac turns to face him with a concern look on his face as he sets his brandy down. "What is going on? Is it Rockwell Mining?"

"It could be," Cole looks back at him. "I'm worried about Lex and his relationship."

"Is he still seeing Grant Shaw?"

"I'm afraid so," Cole replies to him. "The last I heard, he was thinking of asking Grant to move in with him."

"Lex wants Grant to move into my house?" Mac barks back to him.

"I know, I know," Cole nods back to him. "After everything Grant did to Lex in helping Odette Williams and threatening to pull the Kelsey Lake mine contract from Rockwell Mining, I just don't trust Grant. I don't want Lex to be hurt by this guy or worse."

Mac agrees with Cole. "I appreciate you telling me this, Cole. I will try to talk to Lex and see how it goes because I agree with you; Lex and Grant are not a good match. Not at all."

***

"Houston, I got here as soon as I could," Stacey announces as she opens the door to the CEO office at Blackmore Ltd. building, knowing that the roads were slick from the fresh snow fall. She looks around but doesn't see her fiancé anywhere in the room. She puts her hand on her hip before she pulls her phone out of her large Chanel bag to re-read the message Houston Blackmore sent her telling her that he needed to see her urgently.

"Well, I'm here and he's nowhere to be seen," she sighs as she drops her phone back into her bag.

"Are you talking to yourself?" a voice calls out from behind her. Stacey turns around and sees Marat Kafelinkov, her ex-husband, standing the office. "You look beautiful, Stacey."

"Marat, what are you doing here? I was supposed to meet Houston here."

"Guess it's my lucky day," Marat grins back to her. "I was here because I was going to meet with Kent and Houston about an upcoming project idea. Houston got called into a meeting and Kent isn't here, so I was told to wait. Luckily, I ran into you."

"I see, well, I won't wait for Houston if he is in meetings. I have things that I have to do today."

"Wait," Marat calls out, causing Stacey to stop from leaving the office. "I haven't seen you in months. How are you?"

"I'm good, busy, but good. How are you, Marat?"

"I miss you," he admits to her. "I know my affair with Celeste hurt you deeply, but I was hoping with all this time passing you would have found it in your heart to forgive me?"

Stacey uneasily smiles back to him. "A part of me will always care for you, Marat. You helped me out of a very dark time in my life, but the fact of the matter is, Houston is my present and my future. As for forgiving you, I did that a long time ago, but that doesn't mean it changes anything between us."

"I can accept that," Marat nods back to her. "Because, I'd rather have you in my life in some capacity rather than not at all. So, what do you say? Friends?"

Stacey looks at Marat's hand that extends for her to shake it. She finds herself shaking his hand back. "Friends."

***

Celeste Baldwin nurses a champagne cocktail as she sits at the back table of the country club. She stirs the drink a little as she thinks about how her and Marat came back to Kelsey Lake with hopes of reuniting with Cole and Stacey, respectively. Of course now, Stacey is engaged to Houston and Cole, well, he is in a relationship with Madi Stewart, which infuriates Celeste. After everything that she and Cole have been through, she knows that they are meant to be together. The question is, how can she get him back and away from Madi?



"There must be something, anything, I can do to get Cole back and away from that pesky little bitch," Celeste purses her lips together as she takes a sip of her drink. "I won't let Cole make the biggest mistake of his life by being with her. I can't let that happen."

Before she can say anything else, she looks over and sees Cole and Madi walk into the restaurant. She rolls her eyes as she watches Madi cling to Cole like a moth to a flame. "God, the sight of this might make me sick."

"Have I told you lately how much I love you?" Cole asks Madi as they sit side by side at the bar in the restaurant. "Because I do Madi, I really do."

Madi giggles back to him. "It's hard to believe that we wouldn't have even have met had it not been for your father's company. Helping you guys with the diamonds under the wild preserve turned out to be the best thing that's ever happened to both of us."

"I couldn't agree more," Cole nods back to her. "And you know what? I'm going to do everything in my power to make this a Christmas you will never forget."

"What does that mean?" Madi asks him as they look into each other's eyes.

"Just trust me, when I will tell you I will go out of my way to make this holiday season the most magical for you, I plan on doing just that."

Behind them, Celeste feels her stomach turn even more before she rushes out of the dining room. Once she's outside, she leans up against the wall of the country club and tries to collect her thoughts. "Cole is going to ask her to marry him, that's the only possible way he could make this Christmas magical for her. I have to stop this. I have too, before it's too late!"

***

"Son, I'm glad you could meet me today," Mac greets Lexington Rockwell into the main office of Rockwell Mining. Mac stands up to see the man he still thinks of as his youngest son as snow falls outside the large office windows. "Can I get you a brandy?"

"I'd love one," Lex nods back to him. "I was rather surprised to get the meeting invite from you; I didn't think we had anything more pressing until after the holiday season with Rockwell Mining."

"This isn't about business, exactly," Mac passes him a brandy. "This has to do with Grant Shaw."

Lex uneasily nods back to him as he takes a sip of his brandy. "Let me guess? Cole told you that I was going to ask Grant to move in to the mansion with us?"

"He did," Mac replies to him. "And, before you say anything, you have to understand why we are concerned about this."

"We all have pasts, Mac," Lex tells him. "Are you going to stand there and tell me that there is absolutely nothing in your past that you're not proud of?"

"Of course not," Mac looks at him before he drinks some of his brandy. "But what Grant did, was more than just hurt you. He was assisting Odette Williams in trying to ruin our family. And, he tried to pull the rug out of Rockwell Mining with the Kelsey Lake mine contract. I don't think this man should be trusted! I don't want you to get hurt, Lexington."

"Yet you have no problem with Cole dating Madison Stewart, the woman who was against us extracting mines from the wild life preserve? Do you not see the hypocrisy in all of this?" Lex lashes back to him. "Look, Mac, I don't want to fight with you about this, but I will be moving on with my relationship with Grant, with or without your help."

"What does that mean?"

"If you don't want me to ask Grant to move into the mansion, I won't," Lex tells him as Mac breathes a sigh of relief. "I'll move out of the house and in with Grant."

"Lex, that's not what I meant…" Mac tells him, but it's too late as Lex is storming out of the office. "Damnit!" Mac runs his hand through his hair, wondering how he can get Lex to see Grant for who he really is.

"What was that all about?" Lucinda Rockwell asks her son as she comes into the office. "I just saw Lexington heading to the elevator looking like he was about to explode!"

"Don't ask," Mac barks back to his mother.

"It's too late, I already did. Now, tell me what happened."

"Lex wants to move in with Grant Shaw. When I protested, he said he was moving out of the mansion," Mac replies to her.

"Dear God in heaven," Lucinda groans. "What's wrong with this family? Cole is dating that annoying Madison Stewart, Lex with that man who helped Odette Williams and Stacey is engaged to a Blackmore! The only silver lining is that you are divorcing Lydia. Do you know when the divorce will be finalized? That day can't come soon enough!"

"Once all the paper work is finalized," Mac replies to her, unaware Carmen is outside listening to their conversation.

"Mac, I know this has been difficult for you," Lucinda moves closer to her son. "But, this is the best thing for you and Lydia. Please, finish the paper work and get it filed. Before Christmas, it would make this holiday season the best one this family has had in years. The sooner she is out of our lives, the better!"

Outside the office, Carmen smiles to herself. "Who knew that Mama Rockwell would turn into my biggest supporter? If she can convince Mac to divorce Lydia, then I can get him to marry me and then I can get my hands on the Rockwell money," she purses her lips together as she see dollar signs in her eyes.

***

"Mom, are you sure that there is nothing that we can do to make you and Daddy change your mind?" Stacey asks Lydia as they stand in the living room of the Rockwell mansion, listening to Christmas carols and sharing eggnogs. Lydia stopped by to drop off some Christmas presents to put under the Christmas tree that is glowing with white and light blue lights, to match the diamond decorations.

"Darling," Lydia stands up from placing the final present from under the tree. "You have to understand something, your father and I have tried and tried again and we have always come up short. We will always be close because of you, our children, and our working relationship, but I don't see us being together as a couple."

"I wish you'd change your mind," Stacey bites her lower lip to try to prevent herself room crying.

"Me too," Cole nods as he moves into the living room. "After everything you and Dad went through to get back together, it is a shame that you are throwing it away again."

"Oh Cole, darling," Lydia moves up to hug him. "I hope you guys can find it your hearts to be happy for me. I am in a really good place."

Cole sighs and looks back at her. "I will try," he admits to her. "Listen, I'm glad you're both here. I need your help with something."

Stacey arches her eyebrow before she looks back over at Lydia. "Our help? How can we help you?"

"I want to ask Madi to marry me on Christmas Day," Cole reveals to them as the women squeal in excitement. "Stacey, I was hoping you'd design a custom engagement ring for me?"

"Oh my," Stacey hugs her brother as Lydia beams with excitment. "Of course, I will! I'd love nothing more than to help you!"

***

"Knock, knock," Kent says as he opens the door to the Blackmore mansion and moves inside, carrying his suitcases behind him. He stops in the foyer and looks around the house that he lived in during the years that he was married to Vivian. In his mind, it seems like a life time ago. He shuts his eyes and he can still hear Houston running around the house like the little hellion he was. Now, the room is almost the same as it always was, only she has new sofas and some new art. The large Christmas tree is up and decorated to match the way they decorated all those years ago when they were married.

"Dad," Houston's voice calling out to Kent causes him to open his eyes. "I can't believe this is actually happening. You're moving back in with us."

Kent uneasily smiles back to his son. "Just so your mother's final Christmas will be special. I know that she will like this."

"You have no idea," Houston replies to him. "I haven't seen her this excited in a very long time. She even had the tree decorated the way we used to decorate it; before the divorce."

"Well, like I said, I just want to ensure that everything is in place for her to have a great holiday season," Kent informs him. "And, that means you too. You should take a step back from the day to day at Blackmore. These are your mother's final days with us. You should be here with her."

"If we are both away from Blackmore, who will run the company, Dad?"

Kent uneasily shrugs back to him. "Sabine has proven herself to be loyal."

"You're kidding me, right?" Houston gasps in surprise. "Lydia Rockwell's sister? No, Dad, you're delusional!"

Before Kent can reply, Deacon pushes a weak looking Vivian in her wheelchair into the foyer. "I had thought I heard voices," Vivian says in a whispered voice.

"Houston was just welcoming me back,`` Kent kneels down and looks at his ex-wife. `How are you feeling? Can I get you anything? Anything at all?"

"Just the fact that you're here, with Houston and I, it means the world to me," Vivian looks back at him. "It will be our best Christmas ever."

"That's what I'm hoping for," Kent smiles back to her.

"Did you like the tree?" Vivian asks him. "I had it decorated just for you."

"I noticed," Kent nods back to her. "It is beautiful and makes me think fondly of our time together. This Christmas, Vivian, it will be magical. I will do everything in my power to make that happen."


***

"I'm surprised to see you," Mac tells Sabine as she moves into the living room with some Christmas presents that she is going to leave of her nephews and niece. Mac hasn't seen a lot of his former sister in law since she got involved with Kent. He wishes that she wouldn't have moved on with Kent after their brief romance, of all men, but he only wishes her the best, which is saying a lot considering how much they have been through together; there was a time when he didn't think that they would ever be civil to one another again.

"I was doing some Christmas shopping and thought I would drop these gifts off for Cole, Stacey and Lexington," Sabine replies to him as she sets the large parcels under the tree. "The tree really is beautiful this year."

"Thank you," Mac nods back to her. "I'd like to take credit for it, but we have the staff handle the decorating. You know, running a multi-billion dollar corporation and going through a divorce doesn't leave you a lot of time."

Sabine sighs back to him. "So, you and my sister are still divorcing?" Sabine asks him as Mac nods back to her. "Well, for what it's worth, I am sorry. I know I wasn't the biggest supporter of the two of you getting back together…"

"And, rightfully so, it seems," Mac nods back to her. "What is going on with you and Kent? Things are still well?"

"Ugh, if you want to talk about Kent, you're going to have to pour me a brandy."

Mac chuckles back to her as he moves to the bar and pours her a drink. "That well, hey?"

"You've heard that Vivian Blackmore was diagnosed with a terminal illness?" Sabine asks him as she takes a sip of her brandy and Mac nods back to her. "Well, Kent, being the man that he is, wants to make this Christmas special for her, so he's moved back into the mansion. Which means, I'm living in the penthouse, all alone. Story of my life, right?"

"Why don't you move back in here?" Mac shocks her by his suggestion. "Before you say anything, we have plenty of guest rooms here. I know the children, and I, would love to have you back. No one should be alone at Christmas time."

"You really mean that, don't you?" Sabine asks him as she gets a tear in her eye. She pulls Mac into a hug. "Thank you for the offer. I will take you up on that. I'd love to spend Christmas with the family."

***

"You sounded upset on the phone, what happened?" Grant Shaw asks Lex as he moves up to his lover, who is sitting at the bar in the country club.

Lex looks over at Grant and tries to put a smile on his face when their lips quickly meet. "I had a meeting with Mac and Cole," Lex reveals to them. "Cole found out I wanted you to move into the Mansion and Mac has his reservations."

"We knew that there was going to be backlash," Grant reminds him. "I was involved with Tanner Young and Odette Williams; I know how your father feels about that woman. Which, I can't say I blame him for."

"They have no right to judge," Lex replies to him quickly. "We have all done things in our past that we aren't proud of. They are being extremely hypocritical."

"So, what is next? What do you want to do? You know I will do whatever you'd like. I mean, we don't have to move in together?"

"Nonsense," Lex waves his hand in the air. "We are moving forward with our relationship. Living together is the natural next step. Unless, you've changed your mind?"

"Of course not," Grant stops him. "I want to live with you more than anything, but if your Dad doesn't want us at the mansion…"

"Mac isn't my father," Lex coldly tells him. "I think it's time I pay my real father a visit. Maybe he can help me out with this living arrangement."

***

"Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in," Lucinda turns to face the entry of the living room of the Rockwell mansion when she hears the door open. She is rather surprised to see Sabine moving into the room with a suitcase behind her. "What are you doing with that bag?"

"Oh," Sabine purses her lips together. "You haven't heard? I'm moving into the mansion. MacKenzie asked me just a short time ago."

"You've got to be kidding me," Lucinda rolls her eyes back to her. "My son will never learn."

"Look Lucinda," Sabine begins to tell her. "I know we have a history, but I'm here to be with my family for the holiday season. That's all. There's no agenda."

"A woman like you always has an agenda," Lucinda quips back to her.

"By the way, do you know of a Dr. Deacon Cooper?" Sabine asks her. "He's the doctor treating Vivian Blackmore."

"Deacon Cooper is?" Lucinda asks her back. "Interesting; I'm pretty sure Vivian had a whirlwind romance with Deacon's father a number of years ago. Chase Cooper, yes, that was his name."

Sabine arches her eyebrow. "Really? That is interesting," she says wondering if there is a deeper connection between Vivian and her doctor.

***

"I can't get over how much he is growing," Marat tells Celeste as they watch their son, Ivan, sleep in his bed in Celeste's room at the country club. "I appreciate you making time for me to see him whenever I can."

"Of course," Celeste moves back into the living room area of her room. "You're his father, you'll always be there for him."

"I will," Marat nods back to her as she passes him a brandy. "What's new with you?"

Celeste sighs heavily. "Honestly, I feel like I'm running out of time to get Cole back. I heard him and his girlfriend talking at the club earlier. He promised her a magical Christmas," she rolls her eyes. "I believe it means that he will ask her to marry him. If that happens, I will have really lost him forever."

"His girlfriend," Marat slowly replies to her. "I didn't realize they were that serious."

"So, what is the solution? Just sit back and let Cole marry Madison? I can't do that. I won't do that!"

"Then you have to do something to make sure Cole breaks up with Madi," Marat tells her. "Surely, there must be something in her past that Cole doesn't know about. Everyone has a past, Celeste. It's up to you to figure that out."

Celeste gets a grin on her face and jumps into Marat's arms. "Thank you for that! You're right! I just have to figure out what she is hiding, tell Cole about it and then he will come back to me!"

***

The next morning, Stacey is sitting in the main office at Rockwell Mining looking over some documents on Mac's desk. She picks up her coffee cup and takes a drink just as Houston moves into the office.

"How is it possible that you're getting more and more beautiful every day," Houston asks her as he approaches the desk.

"Good morning to you too," she stands up and rushes into his arms. "It's so good to see you. I'm sorry I haven't seen more of you; things have been crazy."

"Yea, for me too. My Dad moved back into the mansion to be with my Mom," Houston reveals to her. "You know, because of her illness."

"I actually heard," She looks back at him into his eyes. "Sabine moved back into the mansion for the holidays. She's rather upset by Kent's decision."

"I wish she wouldn't be," Houston replies to her. "I mean, my Mom is dying. She will spend the rest of her life with my Dad. My Mom, she only has a short time left. They should be together while they have the chance to be."

"I know. I just wish everyone was happy," she tries to smile back to him. "Like the way you and I are."

"You do make me so happy," Houston leans in and kisses her on her lips. "Anyways, I have a busy day, I should get going. Text me?"

"I will, I love you Houston," Stacey tells him as he rushes out the door. She starts to move back to her desk when she hears the office door open again. "Forget something?" she looks back and sees Marat standing in the office with his hands in his pockets. "Marat, what are you doing here?"

"Mac didn't tell you?" he asks her as he slowly moves up to her and she shakes her head no.

"Tell me what?"

"He hired me," Marat stuns her. "On a contractual basis, of course. Remember I told you about that meeting I told you about when we saw each other at Blackmore Ltd?" he asks her as she nods back to him. "Well, Kent passed. I brought the idea to Mac, and he loved it. So, here I am."

"I can't believe he didn't tell me this," Stacey pulls a piece of her hair behind her ear. "He knows our history."

"I think that's why he was on board," Marat admits to her. "I told him that you and I make a great team. We can do this!"

"I don't even know what this project is," Stacey reminds him.

Marat chuckles back to her. "I'll fill you in over coffee, what do you say?"

"If my father has approved this, I guess I don't have much of a choice, do I?"

***

A few hours later, Stacey opens the door to her father's office and storms in when she sees Mac sitting behind his desk. The door slamming behind her causes him to look up from the paper work in front of him.

"Stacey, darling, what are you doing back here? I thought you were going to have a short day?"

"I was going to," Stacey walks up to his desk. "Until Marat showed up and announced that you hired him on a project and that we would be working together."

"Ah," Mac stands up and moves over to pour himself a glass of brandy. "I didn't get a chance to tell you about this at breakfast. The project; using the Kremlin's connections to launch a new European inspired diamond bracelet is rather ingenious, don't you think? I thought you could use the challenge of designing the bracelet; since we are working with the Kremlin again, I just thought it would be fine that you and Marat worked together. You two have always made a great team."

Stacey sighs heavily knowing that he does have a point. The project is a good idea, and she had been longing for a new challenge so this bracelet will give her just that as she has never designed a bracelet before. A signature, European design will do wonders for her career, Stacey realizes. She just can't help but wonder how Houston will react to her working so closely with Marat.

"Stacey, darling," Mac looks at his daughter. "If there is nothing left between you and Marat, then this won't be an issue. Unless…"

"No," Stacey cuts him off as she waves her hand. "There is nothing left between us. Marat and I can work together just fine. I'm sorry I overreacted."

Before Mac can reply, there's a knock on the office door. Carmen slowly opens the door and looks inside. "I hope I'm not interrupting, but Mac, we have that meeting."

Stacey arches her eyebrow at the way Carmen is looking at her father. "That's fine, I'll be on my way. I'll start my initial designs on the bracelet and let you know. Thanks for the talk, Daddy."

"Anytime my beauty," Mac smiles back to her. Stacey uneasily looks at Carmen as she grabs her purse and leaves.

"I don't remember us having a meeting?" Mac tells Carmen after Stacey is gone.

Carmen locks the office door before she turns to face Mac. She slowly slips her strapless dress off her body as Mac's eyes open wider in delight. "Doesn't this ring a bell?"

Mac chuckles back to her as he kisses her passionately. "It's starting to all come back to me now," he whispers in between kissing her.

***

Madi sits at the bar of the country club playing on her phone, thinking about the next time she and Cole will be together. Never in a million years did she think that working with Cole at Rockwell Mining would lead to their relationship. Now, she's wondering if he is about to propose to her, as he stated that he wanted to make this Christmas the most special yet for her.

"That would be the best present I could ever ask for," she whispers to herself as she puts her phone and takes a sip of the vodka martini in front of her. "I'd love nothing more than to be Cole's wife."

"I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you," Lucinda announces as she comes up to the younger woman. "I doubt my grandson will want anything more to do with you if your dirty little secret comes out."

Madi rolls her eyes back to Lucinda. "I don't even have a relationship with my mother," Madi advises her. "I haven't seen or spoken to her for years! She may be my mother, but Vivian Blackmore is not in my life."

"Do you really think that Cole will believe that?" Lucinda chuckles back to her. "Oh goodness me, you do. Well, I guess the saying is true. Beauty fades, dumb is forever."

"I'm not dumb!" Madi tries to not raise her voice back to her. "I'm in love. Who my parents are shouldn't matter!"

"Dumb and foolish," Lucinda shakes her head. "I will tell you this, Madison, secrets always have a way of coming out. Whether you want them to or not. If I were you, I'd tell Cole the truth before someone else gets the chance."

Madi looks back at her with nothing to say. She can't believe how cold Lucinda is being to her, and for seemingly no reason at all. "I hope you come around, Mrs. Rockwell. Because, Cole and I, we will be married. And then, I will be your granddaughter. Try to remember that, Mrs. Rockwell. Merry Christmas, if I don't see you before."

Madi gets to leave the bar, but Lucinda's call stops her. "Madi," Lucinda says as Madi turns around to face her. "Before I forget, the latest news with your mother is that she is dying. She has some incurable illness. If you were ever going to make amends, now would be the time," Lucinda purses her lips together. "Merry Christmas to you too."

At the entry to the dining room, Celeste watches the scene unfolding and wonders what Lucinda and Madi were talking about. She knows Lucinda well enough to know that she's not the easiest woman to engage with. "This could be the key to unlocking Madi's secret," she whispers to herself.

***

"I'm trying but you know that I have a lot on my plate right now, damnit!" an angry Kent says into his phone in his office at Blackmore Ltd. "I'll get you that damn report by the end of the day!"

He slams the phone down and quickly stands up and walks over to the bar and pours himself a brandy. He takes a swig of it, knowing that he has been spending so much time with Vivian that his duties at work are starting to be impacted. He is falling behind and he isn't sure what the solution is. All he knows that is he has to focus on Vivian right now, as does Houston, but he can't let his company suffer as a result.

"Houston didn't think Sabine was ready for the CEO position, but maybe that is exactly what I should ask her to do while I focus on Vivian," he whispers to himself as he takes another sip of brandy. "Someone to oversee the day to day."

"Talking to yourself?" voice calls out from behind him.

Kent turns and sees Sabine standing in the office. He looks at her for a moment and can't help but be taken aback by her beauty. He's only been away from her for a couple of days, but he does miss her, he realizes. "Sabine, it's nice to see you. How are you?"

"I'm well," Sabine slowly moves closer to him. "How are you? How is Vivian?"

"As well as to be expected," he takes a sip of his brandy. "Can I get you a drink?"

"No, thank you," she waves her hand in the air. "I was just dropping these reports off before taking off for the day. I don't want to drink and drive."

Kent arches his eyebrow. "You drove to work today? The penthouse is across the street. Why would you drive here?"

Sabine gulps as she looks back at him. "I am not staying at the penthouse right now," she reveals to him. "I was dropping some Christmas presents off for Cole, Stacey and Lex and Mac suggested I stay at the mansion, at least over the holidays and I accepted his offer."

Kent's eyes open wider in surprise. "So, you've reunited with Mac after all this time? I guess I can't be surprised."

"No, Kent," Sabine stops him. "It's nothing like that. I'm just there as a friend, as a member of the family. After I explained to him that you moved in with Vivian for the holidays, Mac didn't want me to be alone over the holidays. That's all."

"I see."

"You're not upset with me, are you?"

Kent turns his back to her and sighs heavily. He knows that her explanation should make sense, but considering the history Sabine and Mac have, he can't help but feel a tad jealous, especially since he knows that Mac and Lydia are in the midst of a divorce. He realizes, however, that regardless of what is happening, he can't ask Sabine to be the CEO of Blackmore Ltd. right now. It just won't work.

"No, I can't fault you for wanting to be surrounded by family during the holidays," Kent finally replies to her. "I just wish this mess wasn't so… messy."

"Well, if Vivian is as ill as they are saying, it won't be long until you're home with me and we can put our life back together."

Kent nods back to her. "It's a tough situation to think about, but yes, once the inevitable happens, we will be back together Sabine. I do love you, I just need this time."

***

Vivian sits in her wheelchair looking out the large bay window in the living room of her mansion as a light snow fall comes down from the sky. She moves the cup of tea to her mouth and takes a sip, thrilled that her plan is working so well. Kent has moved back in with her, now, she thinks, she has to take the plan into the next phase.

"Mom, what are you doing?" Houston asks his Mom as he comes into the living room.

"Oh sweetheart," Vivian turns her head to see him. "I was just watching the snowfall. It's so pretty, don't you think? It is still one of my most favorite parts of the holidays."

"Yea, it definitely is," Houston nods back to her. "How are you feeling today? Can I get you anything?"

"No, no," Vivian waves her hand in the air. "I'm fine. I'm having a good day, I guess."

"That's good."

"Do you mind if I ask you something?"

"Of course, what's going on?" Houston asks her as he sits next to her.

"Your father," Vivian purses her lips together. "Do you think he's happy that he's here?"

"I think he's settling in nicely, yea. Why? Has he said something to upset you?"

"No," Vivian replies to him. "He's been nothing but supportive and … amazing. It's just…"

"What is it Mom?" Houston asks her with concern in his voice.

"Kent being here has stirred up a lot of memories and emotions for me," she admits to him as she bites her lip. "We spent so many years together, I guess I still have feelings for him."

"What are you saying?"

"I wish I could marry your father again," Vivian locks eyes with Houston. "I wish I could be his wife before I die. That would make me so very happy, Houston."

***

Lydia pours herself a glass of brandy as a large fire rages on in the fireplace in the living room of the Rockwell mansion. As soon as she takes the first sip of her drink, she walks over to grab her phone. She turns it on and is upset to see no new messages from Noel. She arches her eyebrow, knowing that she has sent him a few text messages; it's unlike him to not respond to her.

"What is going on with you, Noel?" she asks herself as she takes a sip of her brandy.

"Lydia, what are you doing here?" Sabine asks as she comes into the room and tosses her purses onto the sofa. Sabine quickly walks over to the bar and pours herself a drink.

"I think the question is, what the hell are you doing here? You just barge into the mansion now without ringing the doorbell?"

"Oh," Sabine turns with a sly grin on her face. "You haven't heard, have you? I'm living here. MacKenzie asked me to move in."

"He did no such thing."

"I did, actually," Mac announces as he comes into the living room. "Your sister was going to spend the holidays alone, so I asked her to stay with us. No one should be alone at Christmas, isn't that right, Lydia?"

Lydia feels her blood boil. "How could you make a decision like this without asking me first? The last time I checked, we were still married for crying out loud! This is my house too!"

"I didn't think my wife would have an issue with her sister staying with us over the Christmas holidays," Mac shrugs his shoulders back to her, annoyed that she, once again, is being overly dramatic. "And, in case you have forgotten, we haven't really had a marriage since I saw your legs in the air with your personal trainer."

"Ugh, I could scream!" Lydia yells back at him. "This is exactly why we shouldn't be together anymore. You've never taken my thoughts or feelings into consideration!"

"Well, the divorce papers are on the desk. Feel free to sign them whenever you're ready," Mac crosses his arms over his chest. "The sooner we end this, the better it will be for all of us."

"You don't have to tell me twice," Lydia storms over to the desk and sees the folder with the divorce papers in it. She whips it open and grabs a pen. While Mac and Sabine look at one another, Lydia signs her name on the divorce papers.

"There," she stands with a stern look on her face. She takes a swig of her drink. "File these damn papers, the sooner the better."

***

Mac slowly opens the door to the master bedroom of the mansion and moves inside. After Lydia's outburst, he wanted to escape and have some quiet time, since he has another busy day planned tomorrow. He knows that he has to file the divorce papers, work at Rockwell Mining but also get some last minute Christmas shopping done as the big day is right around the corner.

He starts to unbutton his shirt as he moves to the bar and pours himself a whiskey. He needs something to help take the edge off; he can't believe that Lydia was so upset with the news that Sabine, her sister, was staying in the mansion over the Christmas holidays. He knows that they haven't always gotten along, but he still can't believe her reaction.

"I've been waiting for you," a voice calls out causing Mac to turn around. His eyes pop out of his head as Carmen, who is only dressed in some white lingerie.

"Carmen?" Mac asks her, surprised to see her. They had only been seeing one another at the office or at the country club; seeing her in the flesh in his bedroom is a surprise. "Did anyone see you come in here?"

"No," she shakes her head as she continues to move up to him. "I was careful. I couldn't stay away, Mac. I need you tonight."

He kisses her passionately. "I need you too," he whispers in between kiss. "Would you like a night cap first?"

"Sure," Carmen purses her lips together. "Looks like you've had a long, rough day baby."

"I did," Mac nods back to her as he passes her a brandy. "But, the good news it that Lydia signed the divorce papers. I'll be a free man very soon."

"Really?" Carmen is almost unable to hide how excited the news has made her. She knows that marrying Mac is her financial freedom. "Do you know what that means? It means we can be together. There's nothing more I'd love than to be your wife. The wife you truly deserve, Mac."

"I have no idea why, but I have a hard time saying no to you."

Carmen giggles as she puts her glass down on the dresser. She looks back at Mac. "I can't wait any longer. Make love to me, Mac. I need you."

***

The next morning, Lucinda is sitting at a table in the country club dining room enjoying a breakfast with Stacey. After breakfast, Lucinda is going to finish her holiday shopping, while Stacey is meeting Cole and Lydia. Lucinda, this year more than ever, is grateful for the holidays after everything she went through with Odette Williams.

"Darling, we simply must do this more often," Lucinda takes a sip of her coffee. "I don't see enough of my beautiful granddaughter."

"I'd love that," Stacey smiles back to her. "In fact, you could help me plan my wedding to Houston."

The thought of Stacey marrying Houston Blackmore causes Lucinda to choke on her Atlantic lox eggs benedict. "Grandmother, are you okay?"

Lucinda waves her hand in the air as she takes a sip of her water. "I'm fine," she says once she regains herself. "I guess I just got excited at the idea of a wedding," she forces a smile on her face. She happens to look over at the staircase when she sees Noel walking down them. She arches her eyebrow, immediately recognizing him as Lydia's personal trainer.

"Grandma, did you hear anything I just said?"

"I'm sorry sweetheart, if you'll excuse me for a quick moment, there's someone I need to see," Lucinda says as she stands up from the table and rushes over to Noel, who is grabbing a latte from the bar. "Excuse me," Lucinda says approaching the younger man. "You're Lydia's …"

"Personal trainer," Noel nods back to her. "You and I met once at the Rockwell estate. It's nice to see you again, Mrs. Rockwell."

"Yes," Lucinda arches her eyebrow. "You do not have to confirm nor deny this, but I suspect you helped Lydia with a lot more than regaining the feeling in her legs," Lucinda looks at him, while Noel looks away, feeling his face blush a little. "And that's fine. I just have one piece of advice for you, young man, and that is to run as fast as you can from Lydia. Once she gets her claws into a man, she can be very difficult."

"My latte is ready," Noel ignores her. "But thanks for the tip. Enjoy your day."

"You as well," Lucinda purses her lips together, hoping she got through to him.

***

A short time later, Stacey is sitting at a larger table at the country club with Lydia and Cole sitting across from her. She passes Cole a rough sketch she did of the potential engagement ring for Madi.

"What do you think? And please, be honest. I won't mind if you don't like it," Stacey tells her brother. "I want the ring to be perfect."

Cole looks at the sketch while Lydia takes a sip of her glass of champagne. He passes it to Lydia, who gasps in surprise. "Stacey, wow, it's gorgeous," Lydia tells her daughter as they lock eyes.

"Thanks Mom, but I really need to hear from Cole. What do you think, brother?"

Cole looks over at her and then get a smile on his face. "I love it Stace!"

"Really? You're not just saying that?"

"Of course not," Cole pulls her into a hug. "And, I think Madison will love it. I can't thank you enough."

"You don't have to thank me, I'm just happy I could do this for you," Stacey tells him as they exit their embrace. "I'll get started on the production ASAP. It be done…"

"Before Christmas?" Lydia asks her. "A Christmas engagement would be so magical for Cole and Madison."

Stacey nods back to them. "It'll be rigorous, but I can make that work."

"I can't thank you two enough for everything," Cole beams back to his family. "I was so nervous about this, but having you guys in my corner has really calmed me down."

"It's our pleasure," Lydia grabs her sons hand. "The fact that you're ready to get married again, after everything Celeste Baldwin put you through is a blessing. One that shouldn't be taken for granted."

"Speaking of that," Stacey locks eyes with her mother. "Have you and Daddy come any closer to making up? I would hate for, after everything, you two aren't able to mend your relationship."

Lydia sighs heavily as she thinks about how she just signed the divorce papers. She hates that her children are upset with her marriage to Mac is coming to an end, but she isn't sure she can do anything differently now.

"Yea, Mom, it'd be a Christmas miracle for the family if you and Dad could stay together. We get that you heated, passionate people, but that's what makes you two so great together," Cole tells her.

"I'm…I'm not sure," Lydia admits to them. "I might have overreacted to the news of Sabine living in the mansion. And, I signed the divorce papers."

"So? Go to Dad and tell him not to file the papers," Stacey tells her.

"Yea, Mom, it's not too late. It's only too late if you sit back and do nothing, and when was the last time you sat back and did nothing?"
Lydia smiles back to her children. "You two have given me a lot to think about," she purses her lips back to them.

***

Sabine walks into the country club and shakes some of the snow from her fur jacket. She loves wearing her fur, but she really doesn't like the snow. At least, she thinks to herself, that it makes the season feel like Christmas. She is about to walk into the dining room when she happens to see Deacon sitting at the bar by himself. She arches her eyebrow as she recalls her conversation with Lucinda where the older woman told her that Vivian was close to Deacon's father, Chase Cooper. Now, Deacon is Vivian's doctor. She can't explain it, but this connection leaves Sabine very unsettled.

"I'll have a champagne cocktail please," Sabine announces to the bartender as she moves up the bar and then looks over at Deacon. "And, I'll get the gentlemen whatever he is drinking."

"What do I owe the pleasure?" Deacon looks up at Sabine, unable to hide his attraction to her. "And, do I get your company while I have my drink?"

Sabine purses her lips together and sits in the bar stool next to her Deacon. "I was hoping that I wasn't intruding," Sabine picks up her drink. "But I'm happy to accept the invite."

"When a beautiful woman buys me a drink, I usually extend an invite to join me," Deacon smirks back to her. "So, why is a beautiful woman like yourself all alone?"

Sabine chuckles back to him. "That is a very long story," Sabine tells him. "We'd be pretty drunk by the time I'd finish."

"Drunk and interested in getting acquainted with someone new? Sounds like an interesting combination."

"Keep talking and you might just convince me," Sabine winks back to him.

"I'm very happy you see it that way."

***

"Oh good, you're already here," Marat announces to Stacey as he opens to the main office at Rockwell Mining. "I was hoping we could get started on our project. Have you had any time to go over a potential design of a bracelet?"

Stacey looks up from the desk and the sketch pad on the desk. "Marat, hi," she stands up to greet him. "I have, actually. I was just about to call you."

"My timing is perfect then," Marat winks back to her.

"Would you like a cup of coffee before we get started?"

"That would be great, thank you," Marat tells her. "Are you ready for Christmas?"

"Ugh, no!" Stacey giggles as she pours him a cup of coffee. "I've been so busy with work, I haven't had time to do all my shopping," she tells him as she passes him the coffee. "How about you?"

"I'm still trying to figure out what to get you," he admits to her. "But otherwise, I'm done."

"Marat, you don't have to get me anything, you should know that."

"I know that," Marat replies to her. "But, I'd like too."

Stacey uneasily shakes her head back to him. "Come around the desk, let me show you what I have come up with."

"Sure," Marat follows her. She picks up the sketch pad and she starts to show him the design. He can't help but notice how close she is standing to him and how he can smell her signature perfume. He has missed her more than he realizes, he thinks to himself.

"Marat? Did you hear a word I said?"

Marat chuckles back to her as he comes back into reality. "Not really, let's go over it again."

Stacey looks back at him and their eyes lock for a moment; she feels her heart skip a beat as he continues to look at her with lust in his eyes. "Yea, okay, I'll go over it again."

***

Celeste slowly steps off the elevator and moves towards Madi's office. Madi, who still works for the wild life preserve, has her own office in a building very close to the Rockwell Mining building. Celeste looks around trying to find the office; after seeing Madi talking with Lucinda, Celeste knew that she had to discuss the conversation with her. Ever since Marat told Celeste to find out what Madi is hiding as it might be the only way to get Cole back in her life, she has been determined to uncover Madi's secret; Celeste has dealt with Lucinda enough to know that she is never just being nice, she always has an ulterior motive.

She walks down the hall and sees the office door with Madi's name plaque on it. She opens the door and sees Madi sitting behind her desk. "Sorry to interrupt," Celeste says as she comes into the office. "But we need to talk."

Madi looks up from her paper work and sighs heavily. "Celeste Baldwin," she looks back down at her paper work. "I thought you were in Moscow."

"Cole didn't tell you that I'm back?" Celeste moves closer to her. "Interesting; most couples tell each other everything."

"You're so irrelevant to him, it probably slipped his mind completely."

Celeste rolls her eyes back to her rival. "Was there an actual reason you came here today?" Madi looks up at her. "Because, I'm very busy today."

"As a matter of fact there is," Celeste sternly looks back to her. "I want to know what you're hiding, and before you say nothing, I saw you and Lucinda Rockwell talking, and that woman isn't nice to anyone. I know you're hiding something, and I want to know exactly what that is."

Madi breaks out in to laughter. "You're pathetic," she spits back to her. "Is this some sick attempt to get Cole back? You can't let him go, can you?"

"No, and when I find out what you're hiding, you will lose him forever."

"Well good luck with that, because there is no secret," Madi tells her. "I was having an interaction with Cole's grandmother. Just because she hated you, doesn't mean she feels that way about me."

"I will find out what you're hiding, and when I do…"

"Get out of my office!"

"What is going on in here?" Cole asks as he stands in the door way. "I could hear you two from the elevator. What is this about a secret?"

"I'll let Madi fill you in," Celeste purses her lips together. "Cole, it's so nice to see you."

Cole watches Celeste leave the office before he looks back at Madi. "Care to tell me what that was all about?"

"It's not important," she waves her hand back to him. "She's trying to get you back and I'm not going to let her get to me. You're with me now and nothing will ever change that."

Cole smirks back to her as he leans in and kisses her. "You got that right," he winks back to her. "Nothing will ever make me stop loving you."

Madi pulls him into a hug and takes a deep breath, secretly wondering if Celeste could possibly know who her mother is. Because, if that secret does come out, she knows she could lose Cole forever.

***

Lex waits for a moment as he collects himself outside of Kent's office at Blackmore Ltd. He isn't sure, exactly, why Kent asked him to visit him today, but whenever he has to see his biological father, he still gets nervous. He has never felt like a Blackmore, and ever since Houston has come back, Lex has felt like the second fiddle in Kent's eyes. That being said, he is glad Kent invited him over because he was hoping to discuss his living arrangements with him since he can't stay at the Rockwell mansion anymore; not since Mac and Cole have made it clear that Grant is now welcome there. He slowly knocks on the door and waits to hear Kent say "come in" before opening the door.

"Kent, hey," Lex puts a smile on his face. "I was a bit surprised to hear from you. I hope everything is okay?"

Kent looks over at his son and nods back to him. "I hadn't really seen you for awhile, and thought that should change. That's not a problem is it? I did, after all, save your life, remember?"

Lex uneasily chuckles back to him recalling how Kent donated a piece of liver to Lex a few years ago. "How could I forget? I see the scar every day. But, things are okay."

"Just okay?"

"Mac and Cole are unhappy with my decision to be in a relationship with Grant," he reveals to him. "But, I am in love and am going to find a place for us to live together."

"I think that's a wonderful idea," Kent replies to him. "After everything you went through with Jarek and then Tanner, its about time you had some happiness."

"I appreciate that."

"I don't know if you've heard but Sabine has moved out of the penthouse and back into the Rockwell mansion, at least for the holiday season," Kent informs him.

"Yea, I've seen her around the mansion."

"And, I've moved in with Vivian until she…well, it's a temporary situation," Kent continues to tell him. "What' I'm getting at, son, is that my penthouse is not being used right now. Why don't you and Grant stay there, at least until you can find your own place?"

"Really? You'd do that for me?"

"Of course," Kent nods back to him. "You're my son. I'd do anything for you."

"I, I don't know what to say," Lex admits to him. "That's very generous of you. Of course, I can't accept without running it by Grant first, but I'm really interested in the idea."

"Perfect," Kent smiles back to him. "The penthouse, it does come with a small price, however."

Lex folds his arms over his chest. "And what would that be?"

"Like I said, with Vivian's condition the way it is, I'm not spending enough time here right now and Blackmore Ltd. is suffering. Houston, also, is spending more and more time with his mother."

"Okay?"

"I want you to quit Rockwell Mining and be the intern CEO of Blackmore," Kent shocks his son. "I need a Blackmore in charge of my company, and I couldn't help but think of my son as the perfect one to take charge."

Lex feels the blood leave his face; leave Rockwell and join Blackmore? Could he really do that? "I don't know what to say?"

"Say you want the penthouse and the CEO job," Kent looks back at him. "Tell me you'll help me."

***

"I wish I had heard from Lex about what his new plans are," Mac tells Cole as he pours two brandy's in Mac's office in the Rockwell Mining building. Mac passes his oldest son a drink before he takes a sip of his own. "The last I heard, he was going to try to find a place for him and Grant to live in together."

"I still can't believe he wants to leave the mansion," Cole shakes his head back to his Dad. "I wish he wasn't so stubborn and that he would listen to us about Grant. Our concerns are legitimate ones!"

"We've all been fooled by love before," Mac uneasily smiles back to him. "I know I have more than once, and I know you have as well."

"It's true," Cole takes a sip of his drink. "That's why I wish he'd listen and not make the same mistakes that we have."

"I just hope he realizes what is happening before it's too late."

"Oh good, I'm glad you're both here," Lex announces to his father and brother as he opens the office door and moves inside. "I have news and I'd like you to hear it from me."

"Lex," Mac replies to him. "We were just talking about you hoping to find out about your plans with Grant. Have you taken any of our concerns to heart?"

"I heard everything you said," Lex tells them. "And, I've made some decisions."

"Well, don't keep us waiting," Cole says back to him. "What's up?"

"I'm going to move into Kent's penthouse," Lex reveals to them. "I just came from seeing him and he told me that I can stay there, with Grant, until we find our own place. The penthouse is empty, at least during the Christmas season, as you know since you asked Sabine to stay at the mansion."

"I wish you'd reconsider," Mac pleads with him. "I want us all together at Christmas!"

"All of us, except for Grant, the man I love."

"That's not fair…" Cole interjects.

"And, there's another thing," Lex announces. "Effective immediately, I'm no longer working for Rockwell Mining. I won't stay in a job where I'm not valued or will continue to be ganged up on."

"Okay son, now you're taking this too far," Mac sternly tells him. "You love what you do. Why on earth would you leave the family company?"

"Because," Lex begins to tell him. "Kent also offered me the CEO of Blackmore Ltd. job and I accepted."

"You did what?" a fuming Mac feels his blood starting to boil at his son's revelation

***

."Son, I'm glad you're here, I have some news for you and you should hear it from me," Kent tells Houston, who comes into his office at Blackmore Ltd. "I've found someone who can take over at Blackmore while we are with your mother during this difficult time."

Houston moves over to the bar and pours himself a whiskey. "So, Sabine is in the new boss? I hope she's up to the task."

"No, I changed my mind about asking her," Kent tells him. "Lex will be the intern CEO."

"You've got to be fucking kidding me?" Houston turns in horror to face his father. "He's not even a real Blackmore! Why would you do this to me?"

"I can tell that you're upset," Kent replies to him quickly.

"You're damn straight I'm upset! I should be the CEO, not Lexington Rockwell!"

"Houston, please listen to me," Kent pleads with him. "Your mother is dying; you and I need to spend as much time with her as we possibly can. Lex is a smart business man, who has run this company before but has also worked at Rockwell Mining for years. He knows what he is doing and knows the industry inside and out. This gives us a huge advantage."

Houston rolls his eyes, hating that Lex is getting the top position over him. "You're right, but it still pisses me off!"

"The word intern CEO is there for a reason," Kent tells him. "This is not forever, far from it."

"Ugh, whatever," Houston sighs back to him. "Speaking of Mom, I had a good chat with her earlier," he reveals to his father, changing the subject. "I think you need to step up even more with her."

Kent arches his eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"She's in love with you Dad," Houston reveals to him. "She told him that she's never stopped loving you and that she would like nothing more than to be your wife again."

"I don't believe this," Kent whispers back to him, already worried of Sabine's reaction to this.

"You want me to step up and accept Lex in this new CEO position? Then you need to step up for Mom. She's dying Dad. Make her final wish come true; marry her before it's too late. Marry Mom on Christmas Day."

***

"Yolanda, I asked to not be disturbed," Vivian calls out to her housekeeper as she pours herself a drink at the bar in her living room. For the first time, in what seems like weeks, she has the house to herself and she wanted to toast herself with a drink. She knows that she can't drink when Houston or Kent are around because she isn't supposed to be drinking while she is on the medication she is taking of her illness. Of course, since she's not really sick, she has been dying for a drink.

Madi stops in her tracks when she sees her mother. It has been years since she has seen her; to come face to face with her after all this time is somewhat jarring. Still, after Lucinda told her that Vivian was dying, Madi knew that she had to see her mother before it was too late, even if Celeste is looking into her past. Madi knows that she can deal with Celeste later, but she may not have later with her mother.

"Mother," she slowly calls out, causing Vivian to set her drink down. She slowly turns around and immediately a tear falls down Vivian's cheek.

"Madison?" she gasps at the sight of her daughter. "What on earth are you doing here?"

"I heard through the grapevine that you weren't doing well," Madison explains to her as Vivian rushes up to her and hugs her daughter. "I couldn't let you die without seeing you again."

"You have no idea how much I've missed you," Vivian says sobbing to her. "You have no idea how many times I wanted to call you, but after the last time we spoke…"

"That's all water under the bridge, don't you think?" Madi looks back at her as they exit their embrace. "I came to terms with the fact that you slept with Chase Cooper and I was the product of an affair a long time ago. I shouldn't hold that against you."

"You only wanted to know that you came from a union out of love, and we were a union. Just a very different type of one."

"I know that the affair is what caused your marriage to Kent to fall apart, I guess a part of me blamed myself for that."

"I certainly didn't help with that."

"Anyways, enough of that," Madi tells her grabbing her hand and moving her to the sofa. "I want to know how you are, really! And don't sugar coat it. If we only have a limited amount of time together, I want to make the most of it."

Vivian smiles back to her. "I guess this is the true blessing in all this," she tells her. "I have my beautiful baby girl back in my life!"

***

Cole opens the door to the country club and walks inside. He's desperate for a drink after finding out from Lex that he is quitting Rockwell Mining to work at Blackmore Ltd and that he will be moving into Kent's penthouse with Grant. Cole wishes his brother would understand why he and Mac are concerned about his relationship with Grant, but nothing seems to get through to Lex.

"I'll have a double bourbon please," Cole tells the bartender as he sits at the bar. He pulls out his phone and starts checking his Instagram feed when a woman sits next to him.

"A double? Rough day?"

Cole looks over and sees Celeste sitting next to him, sipping on a champagne cocktail. "You have no idea," Cole whispers back to her before he takes a sip of his drink. "Actually, I'm glad I ran into you."

"Oh, you are?" Celeste hopes this means that his rough day means that he ended things with Madi and he wants to get back together with her. "What do I owe that pleasure?"

"You can tell me what the hell you were doing at Madi's office," Cole tells her. "You shouldn't be anywhere near her."

"And why is that? You don't think she can take care of herself?" Celeste asks him. "Besides, you and I are friends, I'd like to think. Despite everything that happened between us, Cole, I still care about you a great deal. I'm just looking out for you."

"She told me that you want me back. Is that true?" Cole asks her before he takes another sip of his drink.

Celeste puts her hand on his muscular leg and squeezes it. "I will always have a place for you in my heart, Cole. And yes, I would love to have another chance with you. I won't apologize for that. Nor will I apologize for looking out for you."

"You have to leave Madi alone, Celeste. If you really loved me, you would do this for me."

"She's going to hurt you, Cole," Celeste replies to him. "I am sure that she is hiding something. And whatever that secret is, it's far worse than anything I ever did to you."

Cole uneasily chuckles back to her. "I highly doubt that," he tells her. "You and I, we put each other through hell."

"And we came out stronger because of it," she tells him. "I'm just begging you, don't make any life altering decisions until you know all of her secrets. And trust me Cole, I know Madi is hiding something from you. I just don't know what it is, yet."

***

Noel opens his locker at the gym where he just finished meeting with a client; as a physical therapist, he often will meet clients at the gym to help them rebuild their strength. He grabs his fresh towel and wipes his face down, which is beading with sweat.

After he finishes toweling off, he grabs his water bottle and his phone. He squirts some water into his mouth while he checks his new messages. He lets out a groan when he sees 5 new text messages from Lydia.

"Jeez," he whispers to himself. "Maybe that crazy old broad, Lucinda, was right, maybe I do need to cut my ties with Lydia. She's getting very clingy. I don't know I want all this baggage."

He throws his phone back into the locker and closes the door before he heads to the shower to rinse off, not answering any of Lydia's messages.

***

Lydia paces back and forth in the living room of the Rockwell mansion, having not heard back from her numerous messages to Noel. She grabs her brandy and wonders if he is ignoring her; and if he is, why would he be doing that? She's never had a man that wasn't completely into her, and up until recently, Noel was into her. Literally, every night. Lately, however, she realizes that he is growing distant and she can't explain why.

"I guess all good things have to come to an end," she purses her lips together. "I don't know what I was thinking anyways," she whispers to herself. "He is old enough to be my son for crying out loud! Nothing serious was ever going to come from this."

She slowly walks over to the large Christmas tree in the living room and looks at the lights and decorations. She has always loved the holiday seasons. As she shuts her eyes, she recalls times when her three children were younger and they were all so excited to open presents on Christmas morning from Santa and, of course, her and Mac.

When she opens her eyes, she suddenly realizes that she is thinking about the good times with Mac as well. She looks over at the desk, where a few days earlier, she signed her divorce papers to Mac. Suddenly, her eyes swell with water as her last conversation with Cole and Stacy comes flooding back to her, where they were encouraging her to not give up on Mac.

"My God," she whispers to herself. "What if they are right? What if I'm throwing away the best thing that's ever happened to me?"

***

"I just came from my Dad's and you won't believe what is going on over at Blackmore Ltd," Houston announces to Stacey, as he walks into the main office at Rockwell Mining and spots his fiancé working behind Mac's desk. Houston is still livid that Kent offered Lex the CEO job instead of him; he knows that he needs to spend as much time with Vivian as he can, but the fact that Kent gave Lex, who isn't even a "real" Blackmore, still makes Houston's blood boil.

"Oh hey," Stacey looks up from her design pad. "I'm afraid you won't get to tell me your news. Daddy and Cole filled me in on Lex's decision to quit Rockwell and go to work for Kent."

Houston shakes his head back to her. "I don't get it, you know? I bust my ass for my Dad and this is how he repays me? He puts Lex in charge?"

"I think he wants you to spend as much time with your mother while you can," Stacey tells him as she stands up and hugs him. "I'm sorry you feel betrayed, but think of it as a blessing. Now you can focus on Vivian."

"I know you're right," Houston tells her as they exit their embrace. "It just sucks, that's all."

"Do you have time to go for lunch? Maybe I could make you feel better?"

Houston chuckles back to her and leans in and kisses her on the lips. "I'd like that very much. I'm sure I could blow off some steam."

"I like when you do that."

Before Houston can reply, he looks down at the desk and spots Stacey's drawing. "Hey, what is this? Babe, it's really good!"

"Oh thanks," Stacey blushes a little. "You work for the competitor, so I should probably not tell you but it is about a secret project Rockwell is working on."

Houston arches his eyebrow. "What is it? I won't say anything. Heck, I'm not even at Blackmore right now."

"Okay, okay," Stacey giggles. "Mac agreed to do the project with the Kremlin Diamonds, the one Kent turned down; I am working with Marat to create an unique diamond bracelet. This is my design, or at least the initial design."

"Wait," Houston backs away from her, startled by her admission. "You're working with Marat? Are you kidding me? After everything he did to try to come between us?"

"That was in the past," Stacey tries to reassure him. "Marat and I have a working relationship. He knows that I'm in love with you. He knows that I'm going to marry you."

"Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

"Because you've had so much on your plate with you Mom," Stacey tells him. "And, it really isn't that big of a deal."

"You and I are supposed to be getting married Stace! You should be telling me everything, especially when it concerns your ex-husband!"

"Look, Houston, I know that you're stressed out about your Mom and everything that's happening at Blackmore, but I don't appreciate you taking this tone with me. I've done nothing wrong, and the fact that you think I would do anything with Marat makes me think it's a good thing we aren't getting married right now."

"Your damn straight it's a good thing," Houston spits back at her. "The one person I thought I could lean on and you're keeping things from me."

"Houston, please…"

"No, I've lost my appetite," Houston tells her as he storms the door. "See you around."

***

"I can't believe that your Dad, I mean Kent, offered you this penthouse," Grant tells Lex as he looks around the lavish space. He has been in the Rockwell Mansion many times, but this penthouse is nothing he has ever seen before; it's more modern than the mansion and has an amazing views of the city. "This place is amazing."

Lex turns and smiles to him. "I wasn't expecting it either, but I thought this would be a great way for us to live together while we find our own place."

"Yea, I could get used to this for sure."

"I'm glad that you're enjoying this," Lex licks his lips. "I'm going to be pretty busy in the next couple of weeks; Kent also made me CEO of Blackmore Ltd."

"Really? That's awesome, babe!" Grant comes up and hugs him. "You should have told me, I would have grabbed a bottle of champagne to celebrate."

"You're going to love this," Lex replies to him. "There's an entire wine cellar behind the kitchen."

"I don't know if I'm going to want to leave this place," Grant chuckles back to him. "I know that you're going to be busy with work, but do you think we could break this place in before you head to the office?"

Lex looks back at him with lust in his eyes. "What did you have mind?"

Grant kisses him passionately. "That's just the start."

"I like how you think," Lex purrs back to him before he kisses Grant back.

***

A short time later, Lex sits in the main office of Blackmore Ltd and looks around him. He doesn't remember a time when has been happier; he and Grant are in a good place, and they just had great sex; he has a great place to live and he is back to running Blackmore Ltd. Lex smiles to himself thinking about his string of good fortune.

"Okay," he whispers to himself. "Let's start working. I have a major corporation to run."

"I see you're already making yourself at home," a voice calls out from the doorway of the office. "Don't get too comfortable."

Lex looks up and sees Houston standing there with his arms folded across his chest. "Houston," Lex stands up to face his brother. "I thought you'd be coming to see me."

Houston chuckles back to him. "Then you won't be shocked for me to tell you that you don't deserve to be sitting behind my father's desk."

"Our father's desk," Lex reminds him. "And, he made me CEO of this company. I know it's only for a short while, but I damn well will do the best I can while I get here. You know why? Because I've been in this position before. You, you've only really worked in the mine. So, you have to understand why Kent would want me in this chair and not you."

"How dare you!"

"Save it Houston," Lex spits back to him. "You walk in here making these threats but you have no idea what it takes to run a company. Go take care of your mother and plan your wedding to my sister and leave Blackmore Ltd to me."

Houston feels his blood boil, but he knows if he doesn't turn around and leave he will end up doing something he regrets. "This isn't over, Lex. Not by a long shot."


***


Madi slowly moves into the country club, her mind racing about seeing her mother for the first time in years. Part of her ever wonders why they were so estranged in the first place, but she knows that it is a long and sorted tale. As she sits at the bar and orders a whiskey sour, she recalls how the truth about her paternity came out; at the time, she was floored that Vivian had an affair with Chase Cooper while she was married to Kent. She had always longed for her family to be together the way all of her friend's families were together. Instead, she was the product of an affair; she was a bastard. Vivian, of course, told her to keep her mouth shut about the fact that she even existed. See, after Vivian discovered that she was pregnant, she went to Switzerland until after the baby was born. She told Kent that she was going on the "trip of a life time". No one ever really knew that Madi and Vivian were mother and daughter. Of course, Madi threw a fit one day while Lucinda was around, and that's how the older Rockwell woman knew the truth. Vivian never told Madi what she had over Lucinda to keep her from revealing the truth, but Madi has always suspected that Vivian must have some pretty intense dirt on her.

"Well, this is beginning to be a habit," Lucinda announces to Madi as she sits next to her. "Running into you at this bar, I mean."

"It's a popular place in Kelsey Lake, that's for sure," Madi takes a sip of her drink.

"Long day?"

"Actually not as long as I thought it was going to be," Madi purses her lips together. "I went to see my mother."

"Ah," Lucinda nods back to her. "After I told you about her condition, I can't say I'm surprised. So, is everything roses again between mother and daughter?"

Madi uneasily shrugs back to her. "I'm not sure yet, to be honest," she tells her. "It was nice catching up with her, but we still have a long way to go."

"At least you took the first step," Lucinda replies to her. "Look, I know I can come across cold but it's only because I've been through a lot in my life. The thing I've come to realize is that your family is everything you have in this life. Without them, all the riches in the world do not matter. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you and Vivian can mend fences before it's too late, that's a chance you should definitely take."

"I appreciate that Mrs. Rockwell," Madi uneasily smiles back to her. "I really do."

At the entry way of the club, Celeste stands with her hand on her hip seeing the two women talking. "That's it," she whispers to herself. "You are going to tell me what's going on Lucinda, and I'm not backing down until you do."

***

Sabine walks through the high-end shopping mall in Kelsey Lake, looking to grab some last minute Christmas presents as Christmas carols is playing on the old speakers. Sabine quickly realizes that the songs do not sound good on this old sound system. She stops and looks at the display of the jewelry store, pleased that the Blackmore diamonds are looking better than the Rockwell display; she uneasily smiles to herself, wondering if she is being biased since she works at Blackmore.

She then peers into the store and freezes at the sight of Kent discussing a ring with a woman behind the counter. Suddenly, she feels her heart skip a beat. Could Kent be buying her a ring for Christmas? Has Vivian taken a turn for the worse? Will they be back together sooner rather than later?

She notices that he is paying so she acts casual in the mall. Kent soon appears. "Sabine, hi, happy holidays."

"Oh Kent, hello," she purses her lips together. "Same to you. I was just getting some last minute things. How about you?"

Kent uneasily sighs back to her. "I have some news for you," he tells her as he moves her closer to a bench and sits her down. "Please try to understand."

Sabine arches her eyebrow. "I'm all ears."

"I'm going to ask Vivian to marry me," Kent reveals to her as she drops her mouth open in shock.

"You're not serious!"

"I asked you to hear me out," he cuts her off. "She's dying. She told Houston that this is her last wish; it's the least I could do to give her this one last present at Christmas before she dies."

"I can't believe this," Sabine shakes her head in disgust. "Vivian is out of control!"

"She's not out of control, she's dying!"

"Do what you want to Kent," Sabine quickly stands up and fixes her dress. "There's no point fighing over this when you've already made up your mind. Merry Christmas, Kent."

Kent watches as she storms off. He sighs, knowing that he's trying to do the right thing, but no matter what he does, he knows someone will end up being hurt.

***

Sabine opens the front door to the medical clinic and quickly moves inside the reception area, desperate to get out of the cold air that is outside right now. As if she didn't remember it is almost Christmas time, the cold air is a good reminder. As soon as she left seeing Kent at the mall, Sabine got in her car and drove directly over to the medical clinic; she is desperate to see if Deacon Cooper knows more than he is letting on about Vivian's illness. As soon as she learned from Lucinda that Vivian had an affair with Deacon's father, she was certain that this relationship is completely on the up and up. Now that she knows Kent is planning to marry Vivian, Sabine realizes that she has to act quickly.

"Excuse me, Dr. Cooper isn't available for anyone right now," the receptionist stands up from her chair as Sabine strolls past her and closer to Deacon's office door.

"He will have to make time," Sabine replies to her. "Because I'm not leaving without seeing him."

She opens the door and sees Deacon sitting at his desk. "I'm not taking any new clients right now," Deacon looks up and sees Sabine standing there.

She closes the door and locks it. "You don't remember me, do you?" she looks back at him. "We had that drink at the country club a couple of days ago."

"Ah yes," Deacon stands up from his chair. "I could never forget a woman as beautiful as you. How did you find me?"

"I have my ways," she purrs to him. "When I am determined to track someone down, I can become ruthless."

Deacon chuckles back to her. "You were determined to track me down, huh? Why is that?"

Sabine licks her lips. "A hot man showed interest in me," she looks into his eyes. "It's been awhile since that happened. I just found myself lonely, maybe because it's Christmas time."

"I noticed you locked my door when you came in," he continues to look at her.

"And your receptionist said you don't have any more appointments today…"

He moves up to her and kisses her passionately. She responds and starts to unbutton his shirt. "I want you so bad," she whispers in-between moans.

"Then you'll have me," Deacon replies as he lifts her on top of his desk and lays her down before crawling on top of her.

***

"How's your day been?" Kent asks Vivian as he moves into the master bedroom and spots his ex-wife laying on the large king-size bed. Kent looks at her and realizes that she is looking more pale than usual; a sign that the end must be coming, he thinks to himself.

"Pretty good," Vivian turns and smiles to him. "Houston was here earlier. It's so nice getting to spend so much time with him."

"I tried to relieve him of as many duties as possible from Blackmore Ltd so he can be here more," Kent tells her as he moves up to her and sits on the edge of the bed. "He wants to be here for you, the same way I do."

Vivian grabs his hand. "I don't know how I got so lucky to have you and Houston in my life."

"We are the lucky ones," Kent whispers back to her. "We just want you to cherish the time left."

"I know," Vivian nods back to him. "I can't thank you enough for doing this for me."

"You don't have to thank me," Kent tells her. "How are you feeling? Do you have some energy right now?"

Vivian arches her eyebrow. "Why? What is going on?"

Kent smiles back to her. "I got you an early Christmas present," he reveals to her. "I can wait if you're not up to it, though…"

"Kent Blackmore," Vivian giggles a little. "I always have energy for presents, especially when they are from you."

Kent chuckles back to her. "Very well," he says as he pulls out a small box and passes it to her. "This is for you, Vivian."

Vivian smiles back to him as she slowly starts to un-wrap the box. She gasps when she sees a ring box and then quickly opens it, seeing the large diamond ring. "Kent, my goodness, is this what I think it is?"

"Marry me Vivian?" Kent asks her. "Marry me and spend the rest of your life as my wife?"

A single tear falls down Vivian's cheek. "I would love nothing more than to be your wife again," she tells him as he slides the ring over her finger, thrilled that her plan is working like a charm.

***

Lydia strolls into the country club looking for a drink. Her mind has been racing about the situation with Noel and Mac; maybe she has been a fool this entire time, maybe her children have been right - she should be looking to make thigs work with her husband, not her younger lover.

"I'll have a bourbon please," Lydia tells the barkeep. "Actually, a double. It's been a day."

The drink arrives and Lydia quickly takes a sip of the bourbon. She turns her head and looks over at the entry way and sees Noel emerging from the gym. She stands up and rushes over to him. "Well, well, well, if it isn't the Ghost of Christmas past."

"Lydia," Noel looks at his lover and realizes that he can't avoid her anymore. "I've been meaning to contact you."

"You have, have you?" Lydia sneers at him. "Have you really been that busy that you couldn't have sent me a simple text message, Noel?"

"Look, may I join you for a drink? We can talk now."

"After you," Lydia lets him past her as he moves over to the bar and he quickly orders a drink. "So, here we are…talking."

"Yea," he manages to tell her as he takes a sip of his gin and tonic. "I am sorry about not responding. This entire thing between us has been great, it's just… it's been moving really fast."

Lydia uneasily nods back to him. "Yes, I agree with you, it has been."

He looks back at her in surprise. "You're not upset with me for saying that?"

Lydia chuckles back to him. "Of course not," she playfully slaps his leg. "In fact, I was thinking the exact same thing. Noel, you're a great kid. But you're just that, a kid. The next person in my life needs to be a man."

"I'm glad that we are on the same page," he nods back to her. "I was worried you were going to freak out."

Lydia chuckles back to him. "You'll make some girl very happy one day, but that girl is not me."

Noel nods back to her. "How about a toast? To the great sex that we had."

"I'll drink to that," she cheers him. "Merry Christmas, Noel."

"Merry Christmas Lydia."

***

Carmen slowly walks around the living room of the Rockwell mansion admiring all the expensive decorations that fill the room. As she runs her picks up an expensive vase that rests on the bookshelf, she can't help but wonder what it will be like to be the next Mrs. Mac Rockwell; she will finally have the money and power that she has always dreamt of. For her, growing up poor, she has longed to have so much money that she wouldn't have to worry about anything or anyone ever again.

"I will marry you Mac," she whispers to herself. "I will make all my dreams come true."

As she sets the vase down, she realizes that the only thing in her way now is Mac's pending divorce from Lydia. She was so thrilled to learn that Lydia signed the divorce papers, but she hasn't heard from Mac if he has filed them.

"Darling, there you are," Mac announces as he steps into the living room. "You certainly living on the edge today. We had been keeping our relationship a secret."

"I didn't think anyone was home," she shrugs her shoulders. "Besides, I can always use the excuse that I came to drop off some important documents. But you know, Mac, I was hoping that by Christmas everyone would know about us. I really don't like the idea of you spending Christmas with your family and not me."

"That isn't going to be a concern anymore," Mac replies to her. "I just got off the phone with my solicitor. He's advised me that my divorce to Lydia has been finalized."

Carmen looks back at him in surprise. "Are you serious? After all this time you're finally a free man?"

"I thought I'd give you this part of your Christmas party early," he winks back to her. "But yes, I am a free man. We can officially be together and no one can stop us."

Carmen rushes up to him and hugs him tightly. "Oh Mac," she kisses him on the lips. "This is the best news I've heard all day. Hell, all year!"

Mac laughs back to her. "I thought you'd be happy about this."

"You know what would make this Christmas even better?" she asks him as he looks back at her. "Marry me Mac. Let's get married. I want to be with you until the end of time!"

***

"Mom, it sounded rather urgent, is everything alright?" Stacey asks Lydia as she and Cole approach her table at the country club after have received text message from Lydia requesting that they meet her.

"Yea, Mom, it's Christmas Eve, we thought you'd be running around finishing your shopping like you always do," Cole says as he sits across from her.

Lydia chuckles as she picks up her glass of champagne and takes a sip of it before she calls the waiter and asks him for two more glasses. "I wanted to thank the two of you," she reveals to them.

"Thank us?" Stacey shrugs her shoulders before she takes a sip of the bubbles.

"For helping me realize that I shouldn't be giving up on your father," she replies to them. "You are right. I should fight for our marriage; after everything it took for us to get back together, I should be trying everything in my power to make Mac realize that we belong together."

Cole and Stacey look at one another in surprise for a moment. "Wow, Mom, I certainly wasn't expecting you to say this," Cole admits to her. "But I am so happy that you realized this."

"Yea, me too," Stacey echoes Cole's statements. "Who knows, this could be the best Rockwell Christmas yet!"


"That's what I'm counting on," Lydia purses her lips together. "I just need to get your father on board."

***

Stacey opens the door to the main office at Rockwell Mining and moves inside, unable to hide the smile from her face. She has hoped that her parents would reunite and based on the conversation she just had with Lydia, it seems like they are on their way back to one another.

"It really will be a Merry Christmas now," she says to herself, as she looks down on the desk and sees her design that she is working on with Marat. Suddenly, her last conversation with Houston in the office where he was livid that she was working with Marat on the project. "I don't have time to be worried about that right now; he is dealing with a lot with Vivian. I just wish he would trust me."

"You're still here," a voice calls out from the doorway.

Stacey turns and sees Marat standing there. "I was just coming to grab some things before heading out for the holiday season. What are you still doing here?"

"I was going to leave you a present," he tells her as he shuts the door and then moves closer to her. "I told you I was going to get you something."

Stacey chuckles back to him. "You didn't have to do that," she reminds him of their last conversation. "But, it is very sweet of you."

Marat presents her with a box. "For you."

Stacey arches her eyebrow as she accepts the box. She slowly opens it and then gasps in awe at the gift. "Marat, how did you do this?" she asks as she holds up the diamond bracelet that she has been designing with him. "It's so beautiful."

"Not nearly as beautiful as you," he looks into her eyes. "And, I have my ways."

"I love it," she says as he helps her clasp it on to her wrist. "Thank you so much."

"You're welcome," he continues to look back to her. "I couldn't help but overhear when I was coming in. Is there trouble with you and Houston? Actually, don't answer that, I know it's none of my business," he tells her as she looks into his eyes. "Just know that you deserve nothing but the best, and if he's not treating you right, you know you can do better, especially from me."

Stacey looks at him and licks her lips. "Marat…"

"No, don't say anything," he tells her. "Merry Christmas Stacey."

"Merry Christmas," she replies to him as she leans up and kisses him on the lips. They part ways quickly. "Sorry," she tells him.

"Don't be," he says as he kisses her again. She wraps her arms around him and then jumps into his arms. He carries her to the sofa and crawls on top of her, his lips never leaving hers.

***


"Lucinda?" Celeste's voice calls out as she opens the front door to Lucinda's mansion, which has been completely restored from the fire that damaged the building a few years ago. "I need to talk to you and I'm not leaving until I do."

Celeste moves into the living room and sees Lucinda pouring herself a night cap. She's already dressed in her nightgown, but her Christmas tree is still lite up and a light snow fall can be seen behind her through the window.

"What on God's green earth are you doing? Do you have any idea what time it is? How dare you just barge into my home on Christmas eve!" Lucinda barks back to her.

"I had to talk to you and it couldn't wait," Celeste replies to her. "I know that you know Madi's secret, and I'm not leaving here until you tell me what it is."

"I haven't the faintest idea of what you're talking about."

"If you won't tell me what I want to know," Celeste moves closer to her. "Then, I will tell Cole that you refused to help him when the truth does come out. And, the truth always comes out Lucinda, you know that better than anyone else. Do you really want to risk losing your grandson over Madison Stewart?"

Lucinda takes a heavy sip of her brandy; it has been so many years, could Vivian really still have the information against her? She asks herself. Plus, Vivian is dying, even if she does still know what she is holding against Lucinda, soon it will be a moot point. And, she hates to admit it, but Celeste is right, she could lose Cole if the truth comes out that she knew about Madi's paternity.

"Are you going to answer me? Or is my next step the Rockwell mansion?" Celeste asks her.

"Fine," Lucinda whispers back to her. "If you must know… but I'm warning you, if you reveal that you heard this from me, I will make you pay … and I just finished getting my basement renovated," Lucinda glares at her, as Celeste quickly recalls how Lucinda held Houston and Lydia hostage for months in her basement. "Madison's mother is her secret."

"Her mother? Why is would that be a secret?"

"Because, her mother is Vivian Blackmore," Lucinda stuns Celeste by her reveal.

***

Sabine finishes zipping up her dress, having just finished making love to Deacon. She can hear him running the shower in his personal washroom attached to his office.

"I'll just be another minute," his voice calls out as Sabine rushes to his filing cabinet.

"No worries, take your time," she replies to him as she opens the drawer and riffles through the drawer looking for Vivian's file. She finds it and pulls it out and immediately she scans the documents inside and gasps out loud. "My God," she says to herself. "Vivian isn't sick; she's faking it. She's been faking this entire time!"

***

The next day, the Rockwell's side around the Christmas tree drinking eggnog while Christmas carols play softly in the back ground.

"Where is Mac?" Lex asks everyone as he sits next to Grant.
Cole looks up and gives Grant an uneasy look of disapproval that he
is there. "We don't know," Cole replies to his brother.

"Yea, I got a message from him saying he would be home later today but to carry on with Christmas morning without him," Stacey chimes in.

"Well, we shouldn't let his absence ruin our morning," Lydia tells her children. "I'm sure there was some kind of last minute emergency with Rockwell that couldn't be helped. You know how he is with that company."

"Mac's presence is not ruining the morning; yours however, is another story," Lucinda quips back to Lydia before she takes a sip of her eggnog.

"You're right, let's enjoy this morning," Stacey tells everyone. "I'll have to leave soon for Houston's," she tells everyone, suddenly feeling guilty about sleeping with Marat the night before. "Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas," the family replies in unison.

"I guess this means it's my turn to give someone a present," Cole announces to everyone as he looks over at Lydia and Stacey, who subtly nod back in approval. "Mom, can we have some champagne?"

"I thought you'd never ask," Lydia purses her lips together, as she starts passing out everyone glasses of champagne. "Here you go."

"Thank you," Grant replies to her.

"Yea, thanks Mom. What is this all about?" Lex asks, still in the dark about what is happening.

"You'll see," Stacey replies to him.

"Madi, here's your glass of champagne," Cole tells her as she stands up to look at him. "You know how much I adore you, right?"

"Of course I do," Madi replies to him with a smile on her face. "I hope you know how much it means to me being here with you and your family today. Merry Christmas Cole."

"It means so much to me that you're here too," he continues to look into her eyes. "And, I hope you know how much you mean to me. You've come to be my entire world, my rock, my lover, my best friend."

"Cole," Madi blushes back to him. "We can save this for later."

"No, we can't," he tells her as he bends down to one knee. "I want you to be my wife, Madi. I'm asking you to marry me today."

"What?" Madi gasps back to him as he she suddenly sees the large diamond ring in her champagne glass. "I…I can't believe this. I don't know what to say."

"Say you'll be my wife," Cole asks her as he finishes out the diamond ring.

"Stop!" Celeste rushes into the living room, as Lucinda gulps knowing what is about to happen.. "Cole, before you do anything else, you have to hear what I have to say."

"Celeste, what the hell are you doing?" Lydia barks at her, annoyed that Celeste is ruining Cole and Madi's moment.

"Yea, this isn't exactly a good time," Cole replies to his ex. "You should go, Celeste. You're not welcome here, not on Christmas morning."

"I don't care," Celeste rushes up to him, causing Cole to stand up. "You need to know the truth. You need to know who Madi is."

"What are you talking about?"

"Cole, I can…" Madi starts to say something.

"Her mother," Celeste glares back at Madi. "Do you know her?"

Cole shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know…she's just said they aren't close. This doesn't matter! Celeste, please, just go!"

"Cole…please, hear me out…" Madi starts to protest realizing that she has to tell Cole the truth before Celeste does. If he could hear it from her, she could save herself.

"It is Vivian Blackmore," Celeste stuns the room with her news. "Madi's mom is Vivian Blackmore."

Cole feels the blood drain from his face as he turns around to face his fiancé, unable to believe what he just heard. Everything, now, to Cole is going in slow motion. "Is this true? Is Vivian your Mother?"

Madi lets a single tear fall down her cheek. "Yes, it's true. Vivian is my mother."

"My God," Cole gasps back to her before he looks back at Celeste, who purses her lips together, before looking over at a shocked Lydia and Lucinda.

"Welcome to Christmas with my family," Lex whispers to Grant, who grabs his drink to take a swig.

***

"Hey, I'm not late am I?" Stacey asks Houston as she walks into the living room of Vivian's mansion. "There was some drama at the mansion. I had to sneak away."

"Drama with our family?" Houston chuckles back to her. "And no, you're not late. Merry Christmas, by the way."

"Merry Christmas," Stacey smiles to him.

"Look, I wanted to apologize about the other day," Houston looks at her. "I was upset about my Mom and I probably took it out on you and the fact that you're working with Marat. Of course I trust you, Stacey. Please forgive me?"

Stacey gulps as she thinks about having sex with Marat the previous night. Houston pulls her into a hug. "I love you Stace and I want to be with you. Tell me that I'm not a complete jerk who ruined everything."

"You didn't," Stacey uneasily tells him. "I love you, Houston. And I want to be your wife."

"Good," he leans in and kisses her. "Because I want to be your husband."

Stacey smiles back to him as they exit their embrace. "Shall we head up to the wedding?"

"Yea, this is going to be so great for my Mom," Houston tells her as he grabs her hand and they start walking towards the stairs.

In the master bedroom, Vivian stands in a simple white dress while Kent stands next to her in a tuxedo.

"Are you sure you're okay to stand for the ceremony?" Kent asks her. "You can lay on the bed if you'd like."

"No, I'm fine," Vivian smiles back to him, thrilled that she is really about to marry Kent again. "I just can't believe all of this is happening. It really is the best Christmas I've ever had."

"I'm glad," Kent smiles back to her.

"Wow, Mom, you look beautiful," Houston announces as he opens the door and moves inside. He hugs his mom and then shakes Kent's hand. "I can't believe this is actually about to take place."

"Neither can I," Vivian shakes her head. "Stacey, hi. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas," Stacey replies to them. "Vivian, you look beautiful."

"Thank you."

"Are we ready for a wedding?" the justice of peace asks as he moves into the bedroom.

"Very ready," Kent nods back to him as he looks into Vivian's eyes.

In the parking lot, Sabine urgently parks the car in the driveway of the mansion. She steps out and quickly walks to the front door. She would normally run, but the snow has made it very slippery. She opens the front door to the mansion.

"Kent?" she calls out. "Kent where are you? I have something to tell you!"

Sabine arrives in the living room but she doesn't see anyone there. "They must be upstairs," she tells herself as she rushes to the stairs. She moves closer to the bedroom. "Kent?"

She opens the door to the master bedroom. "I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride," the justice of the peace announces as Houston and Stacey watch Kent kiss Vivian.

"No!" Sabine screams. "Kent! You didn't marry her! Tell me you didn't actually marry her!"

Kent and Vivian look back in shock that Sabine has crashed the wedding. "Sabine, I told you about this," Kent tells her. "You knew this was going to happen."

Sabine shakes her head as she then glares at Vivian. "You're one clever bitch, you know that?"

"Me? What did I do?"

Sabine laughs at her. "I know everything Vivian," she sneers back to her.

"What are you talking about?" Kent asks her.

"She's not sick," Sabine reveals to everyone as they gasp. "This entire illness has been a scheme of hers to get you back Kent. And guess, it worked! You're married to her now."

Kent turns to Vivian and looks at her. "Is this true? Have you been faking this illness?"

"I can explain," Vivian starts to say as Kent looks back at her in shock and awe.

Sabine cuts her off. "You know what's funny, some people call me cold but that's not ice..."

"Shut up, Sabine," Vivian barks at her. "You're just made because I have the diamond that you wanted!"

"You bitch!"

"Ladies! Enough!" Kent yells at them before he looks at Vivian. "Now, start explaining what the hell is going on here!"

***

Lydia pours herself a brandy before she turns and looks at the Christmas tree. The house is quiet now as Lex and Grant went back to the penthouse; Cole is trying to wrap his head around Madi's secret life and Stacey is at the Blackmore mansion.

As she looks at the tree, she can't help but wonder where Mac is. If he is doing Rockwell business, it is taking a long time. She peers down to the bottom of the Christmas tree and sees the present she has for Mac, still wrapped; a trip for two to the Greek Islands. She only hopes that he will accept it and it will be the start of them rebuilding their marriage.

She turns around when she hears the living room doors open. Mac and Carmen rush inside laughing as they hold each other in their arms.

"Mac!" Lydia shrieks to him. "Thank God you're here; we've all been so worried about you."

"I'm fine, as you can see," he replies to her. "I texted Stacey and told her I would be delayed."

"I know, it is just unlike you to miss Christmas morning," Lydia tells him, as she eyes Carmen. "Merry Christmas by the way."

"Merry Christmas."

"Carmen, is that you? What are you doing here? Was there Rockwell business that you had to help Mac with?" Lydia finally realizes how she knows the younger woman as the secretary from the office.

"Are you going to tell her, or am I?" Carmen looks back at Mac with a sly grin on her face.

"Tell me what for crying out loud?" Lydia puts her hand on her hip.

"Carmen and I," Mac beings to tell her. "We got married. She's my wife."

"That's right," Carmen smiles back to Lydia. "You're looking at the newest Mrs. MacKenzie Rockwell."\

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