"Why are you doing this?" Abigail asked again as Candace added another loop of duct tape around her ankle and the chair's leg.

The older woman only gave an annoyed look at the constant questions and sighed. Instead of ignoring her as she had, she finally spoke, "I need a bit of a head start is all, no hurt feelings."

"From who? Avery can help if you're in trouble."

"Avery's the reason I need to keep you occupied. You can thank her for your discomfort."

"Please," Abigail snorted at the ridiculous comment.

"She has a twisted narrative," Candace continued. "She thinks I had an active role in Travis' motives and actions."

"Did you?"

"I already told you, I was forced. Have you ever been in a dangerous and abusive relationship?"


"It's soul-crushing, humiliating, and traumatizing. You do what you have to survive."

"Okay, I can understand that. But, this is a little extreme." She commented, raising her bound wrists in Candace's direction. "And, I do know trauma."

"The cause of your trauma is from Chandler, not me." She leaned in closer to emphasize her words. "I'm the reason Travis walked away that night and restrained from the horrible things he so badly wanted to do to you."

"Wow." Abigail laughed to enhance her sarcastic delivery. "That's some magical hold you must have, and for him to trust you wouldn't just leave him to rot."

"When money drives someone, you have more control than you think."

"All of this for money? Is that what the envelope is about?"

"Might be."

"So take it and leave, I don't care."

"Again, it's not about you. This," she said and created a circular motion with her arms, focusing on Abigail's confinement to the chair. "Is because Avery-"

Squealing tires cut Candace off. The commotion above had both of them forgetting their unresolved conversation.

"What was that?" Abigail asked.

Candace threw her palm up towards Abigail's face to silence her. She kept her head in the direction of the stairs and door readjusting the grip she had on the gun in her other hand. A car door slamming had her sprinting from the room.

Abigail tried to listen to what was happening but she could only make out muffled noises. With Candace's sudden absence, she took in her circumstance. Her ankles tapped to the chair legs, while her arms were fairly free. They rested in her lap, the tape encircling her wrist and soft cast. Looking down at the shiny silver binding she remembered a video Carter had shown her about how to escape if restrained with duct tape. She had found it interesting but odd he was so eager to share it, jokingly adding they should practice the technique together. As perplexing as the comment was she blew it off, but now she was trying to remember the tricks in the video. She closed her eyes to concentrate. The noises above kept distracting her but pushed her to think harder.

After remembering what she had to do, she prepared herself mentally for the new pain she was about to experience in her wrist. She moved her hands out in front of her torso before she raised them above her head. The anticipation of the unknown level of physical discomfort she was about to experience, had her hesitating. She could deal with the pain later and began to repeat a mantra to build up the courage to attempt freeing herself.

She took in a breath and with a swift forceful movement brought her arms back down and apart as her wrist hit below her ribcage. Her expectation was what she saw in the video; the tape ripping and her arms dangling free at her side. The only thing that happened was that the tape loosened and the agony she knew was coming, was immediate. She bit down hard on her lip in a failed attempt to muffle the cry she released with the sharp throbs pulsating from her wrist. The overwhelming intensity had her rethinking trying the move again. She instead tried to take advantage of the loosened tape and began twisting her uninjured wrist to create more of a gap and slide her hand out.

With her arms free she began to work on the tape that was around her ankles, but her right hand refused to work as every movement was excruciating. She looked around, her eyes landing on a utility knife on the counter next to her enlarger. The simple solution was in front of her the whole time. All she had to do was scoot the chair over and it would have saved her a lot of pain. She could almost hear Avery teasing her about her overthinking.

Once the blade was secured, she began to cut the tape. With the last layer severed, she looked around again for anything else she could use as a weapon other than the small blade. The room was set up to develop film, not as a weaponry. She instinctively tucked it into her pocket and proceeded with caution.

Taking light steps, Abigail made her way up the stairs and listened at the door for anyone on the other side. Not hearing anything at first, she used it as a cue to make her move. She maneuvered around the door and as she stepped out, she glanced down the hall towards the open front door. There was no one in her immediate eye line, but she wasn't about to take a chance and go in that direction. She decided the safest move was to sneak out the back, but not before grabbing her work cell from her side table in her bedroom.

As she cut around the corner a sudden presence had her jumping in start.

"Carter!" she gasped as he too stepped back.

"Abigail, there you are," he said, catching his breath from the burst of adrenaline their encounter had created.

Alarmed at why he was in her home, she remained on the defensive. She looked down to see what he was holding. He had taken a first aid kit, washcloths, and larger bandages from her bathroom cupboard.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Abigail asked, pointing out the items he now secured tight to his chest. "Why do you need those?"

He nervously peered around Abigail and began to shift his weight in uncertainty.

"Dude, answer me," she insisted with more of a demanding tone. She had thought by his reaction she needed to take it down a notch, but he had no right to be in her home, especially after their last encounter.

"Avery had a small accident." He shook his head as if it was a huge misunderstanding.

"A small accident?" Abigail felt a pit weigh heavy in her stomach. "Where is she? What happened?"

"I, I," he stuttered.

Not caring for his answer she reached out for the supplies. "Just give them to me."

"Wait." He drew back and became more unnerved and looked beyond Abigail again. "You have to promise me that you'll listen to my side of the story. Without interruption, please."

"What are you talking about?"

"I can't get Avery to listen, but if you're on my side, maybe she will."

"You said my sister's hurt and this is your focus?" Abigail let out a sharp laugh at his continued audacity. She didn't give him a chance to respond and tore the supplies from his hands.

"Carter, why don't you go help Avery inside?" A familiar voice echoed behind Abigail, stopping her.

Carter nodded and darted his eyes away as he took the first aid supplies back, then ducked down the hallway and out the door. When Candace's eyes landed on a freed Abigail, a dark unsettling anger flashed across her features. Abigail held strong and didn't break eye contact as she tried to ignore her and push past the woman. Candace didn't flinch or move from blocking the narrow hallway. She instead pressed her palm into Abigail's chest to halt her, raising the gun. The object, once again, a visual reminder of her forced dominance.

"You might want to let me pass," Abigail warned, not hindered by her threat.

Candace pressed back harder, gripping the fabric of her shirt into her tight fist, and slowly shook her head.

Abigail didn't hide her disdain for her confidence. "You realize how this is looking worse and worse for you."

"I think you're reading the scene wrong," she said with a short, tight laugh. "Carter is the one who ran down your sister in a fit of rage."

The thought caused Abigail to break out in a cold sweat, and she could barely swallow her reaction. Candace had verbalized that she wanted to create distance from the town and especially Avery. Now, her sister was there, putting a snag in her plans. What had Carter done? She had witnessed firsthand Carter's short fuse. He had an irrational dislike of her sister, but to run her over with a car seemed extreme, even for him. Candace's expression shifted in pleasure as she reveled in Abigail's visible distress.

"What are you going to do?" she asked, not sure she wanted an answer.

"I'll have to adjust," she whispered and released her grip from Abigail's shirt. "But, when a situation warrants a specific solution, I'm not opposed to it."

Abigail felt the chill of her words as they flowed over her. Candace stepped back to allow Abigail access. Not losing the opportunity, she moved to get to her sister. She arrived outside witnessing a chaotic scene. The first aid kit lay feet from her, cracked open, its contents strewn around the ground. Avery was struggling to adjust to an upright sitting position. Blood from a cut above her brow flowed freely, streaking down her face and staining her shirt. It wasn't her sister's current condition that took her attention. It was Carter. He stood in a balanced stance between Avery and the open door of her Range Rover. The gut-turning realization was that he held a gun tightly in his grip and directed it at her sister. His other hand gingerly touched a split lip. She could only imagine what had taken place only seconds earlier. Acting on instinct, Abigail moved to intercede and spoke up to grab Carter's attention.

"Hey, Carter." She kept her voice as light and casual as she could muster. "Since when did you start packing?"

He looked down at his hand and studied the gun as if it was the first time he was seeing it. When he looked back up he was shaking his head in refusal. "She handed it to me, I have no intention of using it. I just need everyone's honest attention."

Abigail adjusted herself to stand between her sister and Carter. "Then let's go talk, Carter."

He nodded but didn't move.

"Why not give me the gun?" she asked with her hand out, taking careful steps towards him. "Keep things casual and cool."

"No, but I'll put it away," he offered and tucked it behind his back. "You help her inside, then we talk."

Abigail watched him pass but was then caught off guard by a burst of laughter that was slowly growing louder. She glanced down to Avery, who was holding her ribs tightly as the almost unnatural sound rolled out of her. Rattled by the response from her sister, Abigail knelt to her level, begging to understand.

"How do we invite such crazy into our lives?" Avery asked, looking up to Candace who now stood impatiently for them to join them inside.

"Come on let's hear him out so he leaves and we can deal with Candace." Abigail weaved her arm through Avery's and around her waist.

"You realize that there is no scenario where we come out of this alive?"

"We let Carter rant, accept whatever he wants. You can deal with him later. It's Candace we need to focus on, but she has what she wants. We let her go."

"She will never accept that, Sis."

"Then we have to make her."

Avery smiled awkwardly as she tried to stand on her own. With one hand she used Abigail for stability and with the other, she ran her fingers through the short strands of her unkempt hair. "I love you so much."

"Avery, stop." Abigail shook off the touch with its negative connotation and made sure their eyes met. "This isn't like you. We will come out of this."

"Think about it." She let out another dry laugh that didn't encourage confidence. "This situation is perfect for her."

Abigail looked back up to where Candace stood, exuding arrogance. There was no depth of empathy in her eyes as she watched Avery struggle. Her main goal was to vanish, unscathed, and with her prize, but Abigail couldn't imagine how their death was a viable option.

Avery was quick to acknowledge Abigail's unspoken question. "Carter has inserted himself into something he has no idea about."

"What are you saying?"

"Carter is the perfect fall guy." Avery slowed her forward progress to be able to relay her thoughts before they were within earshot of Candace or Carter. "The incident with you, we had a confrontation in front of my office, and then he purposefully ran me over with his car."

"But, what will she do?"

"I'm only theorizing, but trying to see it from her point of view." She adjusted herself upright then as fast bent in pain from the action, throwing her hand out to stop Abigail from helping. Avery was proud, she knew, but she was also putting on a show of strength and Abigail reluctantly accepted. She would remain close for any support needed.

"And what point of view is that?" Abigail asked.

"She gave him a gun knowing his instability. He's Chandler's son, almost poetic if it wasn't so twisted."

"I think you're overthinking this. We have choices in this situation. I know you know that."

"I do, so we let them hold the cards for now. I'm supposed to meet Mike at the office soon to discuss what they've found in the search of Travis' place. He knows I came here. We stall and hope he decides to check up on us."

Avery stopped talking and pushed away from Abigail in another show of strength as she passed Candace. The look on the woman's face held a mischievous grin like she would find amusement by tripping her as she limped by. Abigail closed the gap quickly to make sure Avery had balance climbing the few stairs to get inside.

Candace was close behind, closing and locking the door with haste. Carter stopped his restless pacing in reaction to the sound of the deadbolt sliding into place.

He pointed to the small dining table. "Sit, please. I really won't take long."

Abigail moved the chairs so that she and Avery were side by side, the table the only physical barrier between them and Carter. Abigail glanced at Candace towering behind them. When their eyes met a sly side smile broke the scowl she held. It only added to the foreboding atmosphere.

"Can I tend to Avery's wounds?" Abigail asked, returning her attention to Carter. She hoped to not only stall more but to honestly address her sister's status.

"Can we wait? I just need to get this off my chest, it's simple and all I ask."

Abigail began to protest more when she felt Avery's finger gently touch her forearm. Her hands felt like ice and trembled only slightly, but enough to draw more concern to her sister's physical state.

"As you were saying, Carter," Avery said, removing her hand from Abigail's arm and raising it in his direction to acknowledge he had the floor to speak.

"Okay, look, it's simple really," he began to explain. "I think my timing has always been bad, and this is a perfect example. I get so wrapped up in what I think is right for others and not think about whom it may be affecting." He crossed his arms tight over his chest and he looked down. "My only goal coming to this town was to get to know you both, and I couldn't see past the error of timing."

"So, how does Grayson fit in all this? It couldn't have just been a way to get to know each other?" Abigail asked in the most controlled voice she could muster.

"We all share in the trauma of Chandler. It was a bridge for us."

His posture and energy read more like a little kid confessing to a small insignificant offense. Abigail continued to hold in her rebuttal. She physically and mentally battled her desire to shine the light and shatter his skewed perspective. Carter only saw his actions as a direct result of it all being a simple misunderstanding. She kept turning to see Avery's reaction to the absurdity he was spewing, but she remained still and never returned the non-verbal cues from Abigail. She understood what her sister was doing, but couldn't help but need to see into her sister's eyes. They had an unspoken language and she desperately needed the conversation.

As Carter rambled on, she looked over the untreated visual injuries displayed on Avery's face, she could only imagine the internal ones not addressed. The reality of what-ifs plagued her mind. The visual of her having died at the hands of Carter began to fester within her. She was, however, going to trust her sister and follow her cues on how to proceed.

"It got ugly pretty fast," Avery said, having to clear her throat before she had spoken up.

"That's an understatement," Candace hummed behind them.

"Like I was saying." Avery shot her a hard look then returned her focus to Carter. "It did get ugly pretty fast, but we can start over." Avery then laid her palms upright on the table in a show of vulnerability. "I'll start by apologizing."

"Really?" he encouraged, his defensive posture relaxing enough to ease the thick tension.

Abigail watched the interaction in amazement. Avery knew exactly how she needed to sit, the volume and gentle delivery of specific words were all meant to keep Carter engaged and calm.

"I should have given you a chance," she continued, her eyes not breaking from his.

He shifted in unease at the intensity she was exuding, but Abigail could tell he was craving such direct positive attention, especially from her. A smile began to break through and he became almost giddy in their interaction. The goofy kid re-emerged almost as if the other crazed angry man vanished, but Abigail knew well enough he was still lingering under the surface. One wrong word or move would bring him raging back with unknown results.

"Bullshit," Candace finally moved to the forefront. "Carter, the moment she gets a chance you're going to be in shackles with full intentions of you sharing a cell with your father."

"Why would you say that?" Carter's smile faded and the darkness was back.

"You take it as you want, but you have a gun. That's enough of a threat she'll blow sunshine up your ass."

"Are you lying?" he asked, taking a step towards the table. "Saying what I want to hear?"

"Carter, look at me," Avery said, remaining in an unguarded posture. "Do I look capable of doing anything? You don't even know who she is or what she's doing here. Ignore her."

"True, " Candace nodded. "I have bigger things to do, and you need to move along."

Carter stared at her, his eyes blurring as if he was looking through her. They suddenly cleared and he walked over to the wall covered in various frames filled with their family memories.

"You're not who you say you are," he mused as he traced a finger across each one moving from photo to photo. When he finally stopped, he tapped the glass signaling his focus was on their mother. "It's a clever, sick, but almost genius, con."

"Carter?" Abigail asked, not following his thought process.

Avery leaned forward to capture Abigail's attention. She didn't speak but Abigail saw in her eyes that their control had slipped and things were about to go sideways again.

"You all did this to dad, and for what? Money?" He flipped around removing the gun from his belt. He waved it in the women's general direction before settling on Candace.

Avery leveraged her weight on the table to stand. "Carter, you need to try and stay calm."

"You're Emily!" he shouted followed by a laugh that began softly but quickly became maniacal. When he regained himself he spoke more quickly, as to get his thoughts out as fast as they invaded his mind. "You, you faked your death. All so you could come back as someone else and get the money you stole. Leaving Dad taking the fall and out of it completely."

"Carter, that's absurd!" Abigail interrupted. "I held my mother as she died. This woman may be her twin but she definitely is not our mother."

"That part is true." Candace nodded.

Abigail wanted to address what she meant but the pressing situation of a spiraling and armed man needed their attention.

"I knew it," he continued. "He figured it out, didn't he? That's why you're here now. Dad's innocent, and I'll prove it."

"I thought I had heard all the possible conspiracies," Avery whispered under her breath glancing at Abigail.

Abigail couldn't bring herself to respond. The whole concept was preposterous, yet he was continuing to convince himself he was right. They had been holding onto the lie all their life so they too could cash in. Travis killing the twins was a message that their charade was over.

"I'm so impressed," Abigail stood up next to her sister, grabbing her elbow for moral support in her attempt to play along. "You're a true journalist. Since you broke this wide open, what do you want to do?"

Carter's eyes grew wide, a childlike prideful look of triumph covered his features. Abigail heard Avery's protest but not before she could register the gun discharging. Carter's face contorted from shock to pain. He glanced down, instinctively bringing his hands to the source of his discomfort, pressing his hand against the wound. After a second of realization, he brought the hand holding the gun up to return fire but not before Candace released another round. This time Carter crumpled.

"Well, that did not go as I saw it." Candace blew out a breath. "I knew he was a wild card, but that was a whole other level."

Panic welled up inside Abigail as Candace turned her attention to them. The only thing stopping her was the shrill of Abigail's landline. All three women turned their heads to address the interruption.

"Who the hell still has a landline?"

"If you live here you'd know," Avery answered in a way that showed Candace had no place in their town or their lives.

Abigail caught movement past the window and saw Tyson making his way up the drive balancing an armful of groceries. He paused when he saw Carter's car. The smashed windshield and blood would have anyone stopping to investigate. She watched him set the brown bags down and look around. He narrowed his stare towards the house as he bent down and picked up a cloth before taking a closer inspection of the car. The panic was back as she couldn't allow Candace to see or hurt him. The phone began to ring again.

"Maybe we should answer it?" Abigail suggested out of desperation.

"Or ignore it," Candace said, walking over and turning the ringer off on the handheld.

As Candace occupied herself with the phone, Abigail was quick to show their visitor to her sister. Avery's features dropped and Abigail could see the weight of the situation being to push down on her harder. She didn't know how to relay that it wasn't only on her to protect her and Tyson but knew it would only fall on deaf ears. Avery didn't know any other way to be, that was why she was good as Chief and had been as a detective.

"What do you want to do now?" Avery spoke up when Candace turned now facing the windows and a clear view of Tyson approaching.

It was too late as the woman saw him and began to curse under her breath. "Well, now we have another problem."

"Don't hurt him, we can ignore him when he knocks on the door."

"If there weren't so many cars in the driveway and a clear accident, I'd believe it to be true."

"Let me talk to him, I can get him to leave," Abigail suggested.

Candace tapped the gun on the table contemplating her options. "Fine, but know I'll be watching and listening." She walked toward the window and lifted her arm in a display. "This gun will be against your sister's head, and you now know how trigger-happy I can be."

Avery resisted by grabbing Abigail's good wrist. Her eyes protested their separation and disapproval of the plan. Abigail smiled and brought Avery's arm back down to their side. With slow and careful action, she showed her the blade she had put in her pocket. She had almost forgotten about it until they had sat down and the sharp point revealed itself by poking through the cloth and pricking her skin.

Avery nodded her understanding and took the offering without taking her eyes off Candace to not give anything away.

"Sit down," she ordered Avery and moved behind her gripping her shoulder tightly, causing an unintentional shrugging reflex. "Don't shut the door or leave the porch. He doesn't come any closer, got it?"

"Got it," Abigail said.

This time she was the one who refused to return Avery's stare. She knew why she begged for her to look at her, but she wouldn't have the nerve if she saw the heartbreak in her eyes. She had put Avery in an impossible situation. She wasn't in a physical state that if she made the move with the blade and was unsuccessful, she was dead. If Abigail failed, she was dead, and even if she found success in getting Tyson to leave, they were most likely dead. She began to understand the weight of burden Avery carried with her.

Taking in a breath she unlatched the locks and swung the door open greeting Tyson as soon as she stepped out. "What a surprise."

Tyson smiled, but he immediately went to the question she knew he was burning to ask. "What happened to Carter's car?"

"Hit a deer, I think." She lied with a nonchalant shrug.

"Is he okay? I'm surprised to even see he's here."

"I decided we needed to work it out so I could move on. That's why Avery is here too."

"Ahh, okay." He didn't seem convinced looking at the gaping door of Avery's car. He then kicked dirt towards the litter of bandages that began to swirl up from the light breeze that flowed through. "So, the deer is where?"

It wasn't hard to see something was wrong, but there was one thing she knew she'd fail at. Tyson could read her like a book, he sometimes knew what she was feeling before she did. She swallowed hard at the fact that she entered an impossible situation. He tried to peer around her but she adjusted so he couldn't see inside. His eyes squinted in suspicion and took steps closer.

"Wait," Abigail jumped forward. "What about the groceries you brought?"

"I'll get them in a second."

Abigail felt her power to control the situation as Candace directed, slipping with each second. She was running out of excuses and Tyson was on high alert. Just as he took another step a shrieking sound filled the air. Crashing and loud bangs echoed over the top of more yelling and grunting. Tyson was through the door before Abigail could react. She felt a wave of dizziness in response to the dread she was suppressing.

There was more yelling and Abigail couldn't decipher any of it until she entered the house. She frantically searched for Avery. When her eyes finally cleared she saw Avery using the wall and the last bit of energy she had to remain upright. She was sucking in heavy breaths, the gun now within her grasp aimed towards a thrashing Candace, who was holding her leg staring at the protruding handle. Tyson slipped between them, and with no protest from Avery, took the gun.

Abigail was steps away as Avery pushed her back fully against the wall and slid down to the floor. Raising her knees, she dropped her head between her crossed arms. Abigail followed her down before bringing her into a protective hug and cradling her head.

"You saved us," Abigail said in reassurance, clutching her hand and bringing it to her chest.

Avery tilted her head upward to acknowledge her words. Abigail could see the physical relief and let down take over as her muscles quivered.

With soft eyes welling with tears, she forced a smile. "No, you saved us."