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Episode 1                                                   


Release Date:  December 10, 2005

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 Episode 1

"The Next Mrs. Blackthorne"


Brooke Taylor tinkered around her apartment in the San Fernando Valley, anxiously waiting for her friends to pick her up. She hoped they hadn't gone to too much trouble for her, as she hated being the object of a big fuss. Granted, a girl only got married once and she deserved to be pampered.  On second thought, that wasn't even true anymore considering all the marriages that ended in divorce nowadays.  Her first, for example.  But this one would be different. She planned on staying married to James for the rest of her life. She glanced out the window of her second story apartment and sighed, wishing they would show up already.  In a way she thought that if she could get the bachelorette party over with, it would mean the wedding was that much closer.   She’d never been more excited about anything in her life.

Brooke was a twenty-seven year old beauty with long, silky blond hair and ocean blue eyes that mesmerized everyone who saw them.  She’d been a makeup girl at a local department store for a couple of years until she got a job as assistant make-up designer for a big movie in Hollywood.   That was when she met James Blackthorne.   He was the kindest, most exciting man she’d ever met and she fell in love with him immediately. 


The first few months of their relationship had been difficult, mostly because at the time James was still married to his first wife, mega movie star Alex Reynolds.   James and Alex’s marriage had been on the rocks for years, and after meeting Brooke he finally got up to the nerve to ask her for a divorce.   It hadn’t been an easy transition, but finally when his divorce became final she agreed to marry him.    Now it was just two days before their wedding and she couldn’t be happier.    She was marrying the most wonderful man in all of California, or the world for that matter.


She paced around the small three-room apartment, stopping to fluff a cushion on her worn wicker sofa.  Looking around the living room, she suddenly realized that she was going to be moving soon and living in a giant old mansion in Hollywood.  Her quaint, sparse apartment in the Valley would be a distant memory.   The prospect was enough to cause her to jump with excitement.


A car horn outside the window caught her attention and, thinking it was her friends finally showing up, she tore across the room to peer outside.   The corners of her mouth turned upward into a bright smile when she saw James standing next to his Rolls Royce Limousine by the curb.


“I missed you!” he called up to her.


"James, the girls will be here any minute!” Brooke replied, leaning out the window and gazing down at him.   “It’s my bachelorette tonight, remember?”


“I know, I know,” James sighed.  “But can you blame me for wanting to see you even for a minute?”


“I’ll see you tomorrow at the rehearsal dinner,” Brooke said, tossing her long mane of hair teasingly over her shoulder.


“Okay, I guess if I have to wait…” James said with a sly grin.  He was a dashing, sexy man of forty-four with dark hair and eyes, dressed in an expensive black Gucci suit.   “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”


Brooke smiled, blushing a little as several people jogged by her apartment and did a double take at the fancy car parked by the building.  “I love you too!” she called back, deciding to ignore the gawking passers by.  After all, she was getting married to a rich, successful movie producer and none of those people in the Valley mattered to her anymore.


“I’ll see you tomorrow,” James said with a wink before he got into the back of the car.


Brooke waved ecstatically at him as she watched the limo pull away and drive down the street.   With a smile, she retreated back into the apartment from the window and joyously danced around the living room.   She was on top of the world.   Who wouldn’t be jazzed to be marrying a man like James Blackthorne?


  Blackthorne Mansion


When James got back to his historic mansion in the Hollywood hills, his maid, a heavy-set Hawaiian woman named Leilani greeted him at the door.  He smiled and proceeded into the mahogany-paneled foyer where his daughter came at him like a tidal wave. 


“Daddy, this place is like a circus!” Miranda Blackthorne screeched.  “There are people all over this house!  I feel like I have no privacy!”


James gave her a patronizing smile and put his hands on her shoulders.  “Sweetheart, we’re having a wedding here the day after tomorrow,” he began.  “Do you have any idea how much preparation is going into this?  Leilani has her hands full with caterers, decorators, florists, you name it."


Miranda rolled her eyes and folded her arms with a pout.   She was a twenty-year-old daddy’s girl who was not at all happy that her father was remarrying.  Her hair was long and black and her eyes were a piercing shade of blue.  Always up on the latest fashions, she was the envy of every girl her age, especially those she went to school with at UCLA.


“You’re not smiling,” James teased, pulling his daughter close and kissed her cheek.   “Sweetheart, this wedding is taking its toll on everybody.  I know it’s an inconvenience, but it'll be over soon.”


Again Miranda rolled her eyes.  “It doesn’t seem to be such an inconvenience for Brooke,” she spat hatefully.  “She gets to just show up in her wedding dress and not have to lift a finger.  Meanwhile, everyone else is-"


“Miranda, you want your dad to be happy don’t you?” James asked, stroking her hair with his hand.   “Can’t you just cooperate for a few more days until this wedding is over?   After that things will go back to normal. I promise.”


“No they won’t!” Miranda replied angrily.  “Things will never go back to normal.  Not with her in this house.”


With that, she turned and stormed down the hall and burst into the billiard room.  She picked up a pool ball and threw it across the room in a rage.


“Whoa, what’s that all about?” asked a voice from behind.


She spun around to find her brother, Stormy Blackthorne enter the room, polishing an apple on the sleeve of his hard rock tee shirt.  “What are you doing here?” she asked in annoyance.   “Don’t you have a house of your own?”


Ryan, or “Stormy” as everyone had come to call him for most of his life, was a twenty-three year old bad boy with tousled dark hair and blue eyes.  He was tall with a sculpted body, loads of sex appeal and a handsome boyish face much like his father’s.  He had several tattoos covering his arms and he often wore his hair spiked up on end.  Stormy shrugged and took a bite of his apple as he leaned against the sofa.   “Dad wanted me to come by and get fitted for my tux for the wedding,” he explained.  “What’s eating you?”


Miranda walked over to the pool table and sat down on the edge, letting her feet dangle over the side so that her wooden clogs slipped off onto the plush shag carpet.   “All anybody ever talks about anymore is this damn wedding.”


“It’s not just any wedding, Miranda,” Stormy replied.  “It’s our dad who’s getting married.” 


“Yeah, to that blond witch,” Miranda murmured quietly under her breath.  “Why can’t he marry someone his own age?  Or why doesn’t he stay single for a while?  I mean he and mom only separated nine months ago.   Their divorce has only been final for like a week.”


Stormy jumped up and took another bite of his apple.  “Why don't you mellow out?” he began.  “You’re just jealous because you’re not going to be getting all of Dad’s attention anymore.  That’s why you’re having a problem with this wedding.”


"Shut up," Miranda ordered as she jumped off of the pool table and picked up her shoes.  "I just think Daddy's going about things the wrong way, that's all.  You can't jump from one marriage into the next without making a mess of things."


Stormy laughed, nearly choking on the apple.  "Since when are you such an authority on marriage?" he asked with some irritation evident in his voice.


"I probably know more than you do, and you're married."


"My marriage is rock solid."


"Oh please," Miranda grumbled and sauntered out of the office, the bottoms of her bell bottom jeans scraping the floor as she walked down the dimly lit hallway of the old gothic mansion.


Stormy shrugged off his sister's spoiled rich girl attitude and picked up the phone in the game room.  He quickly dialed the number of his house in Burbank and waited for Heather to answer.


"Hi sexy," he said in a low, macho voice.  "I'll be home in a few.  Want me to pick anything up?"


Heather Blackthorne shook her head.  "Did you stop by the studio and pick up that sheet music?" she asked.   She was a pretty girl of twenty-two with hazel eyes and brown hair to her waist.   She and Stormy had been married for eight months, much to the disliking of her father, famed movie producer Jordan Rydell.  Jordan and James were rival producers and the integration of their offspring was a constant source of havoc.


"Uh, no not yet," Stormy replied.  "I'll see if I can stop by on my way home.  Traffic's awful tonight though.  Not sure if I want to make a detour like that."


"I can't believe this!" Heather shouted in a shrill voice.  "I've been asking you for two days to bring that sheet music home!  Why's it so hard for you to remember?"


Stormy held the phone away from his ear, wincing as if in pain from his wife's high-pitched shrieking.   "Jesus Heather, take it down a few notches," he complained.  "I told you I'd bring it home and I will.   Just calm down."


"Forget it," Heather lamented.  "I'll just see you when you get here."  She hung the phone up with a loud slam, leaving Stormy with a dial tone on the other end.


"Bitch," he murmured under his breath, hanging the phone up and walking back to the sofa and flopping down onto the plush cushions.


He loved his wife and was happy to be married to her, most of the time.  But lately it seemed like all she did was nag him about her career.    She wanted more than anything to be a singer, and tried and tired to get Stormy's record label to produce her.   As much as Stormy loved her, he didn't think she had what it took to be a singer.   But how could he tell his own wife that she wasn't good enough?


On top of that, Heather also had aspirations of becoming a movie star.   She had been in a few commercials when she was a kid but nothing concrete came up for her since then.   To make matters worse, her own father was a movie producer and refused to put her in any of his movies.   This infuriated Heather to tears almost on a daily basis.


With a sigh, Stormy picked up the remote control and flipped on the television.   He was horny and wanted so badly to go home and have sex, but as of that minute he didn't think he could handle Heather's ranting.


  Jasmes Blackthorne 

The basement of the Blackthorne mansion contained an expansive screening room where James entertained peers and certain media figures on a weekly basis.  He would often show his latest film, or a different cut of a previously released film.   Other nights he showed films requested by his guests, and tonight they were treated to a special advanced screening of Eric Autumn's Property Lines.


"How did you manage to get your hands on this reel, James ol' boy?" asked Jack Fallmont, a powerful corporate shark and big time Hollywood investor.  "Eric Autumn might have a thing or two to say about you showing his film before it's even released to the theaters."


James laughed and took his usual seat in the fourth row of his mini theater.   "I traded my Angel Assassin for his Property Lines.  He's at his place showing mine right now."


His group of twelve or so peers all laughed heartily in unison.  Leilani entered the room with a serving cart of champagne and caviar and everyone graciously accepted the welcome refreshments.


"Say James, isn't Angel Assassin the one you were working on when you met Brooke?" asked Kenny DeWitt, another wealthy businessman who had invested quite a bit of money into Sunset Studios, the production company that James had spent his life building.


"Indeed it is," James beamed happily.  "Hiring her for makeup was the best thing I ever did."


"Where is Brooke tonight, anyway?" asked Victor Distefano, another of James's Hollywood pals.  "I thought she was the newest edition to our Thursday night gatherings."


"Brooke is having her last hurrah with her girlfriends tonight," James replied with a fond smile.


"One more night on the town as a single gal, huh?" teased Marilee Wells, a fifty-year old business dynamo and head of the California Land Commission.  "I think she needs it.   She doesn't know what she's in for once she's part of the Blackthorne clan."


Everyone laughed and James blushed a little.  He felt a playful punch to his arm from Kenny DeWitt who sat directly to his right.  He decided to use Kenny as an excuse to shift the attention away from himself.


"Kenny, isn't tomorrow the day you find out if you're taking Marilee's spot on the Land Commission?" he asked.


Kenny nodded.  "Yes, and with any luck I'll be too busy with the post to be here next week," he joked.


"We all wish you luck, Kenny," Marilee said with genuine admiration.


"Thanks.  I hope that means you're not going to reconsider stepping down at the last minute?" Kenny asked with a grin.


"I wouldn't think of it," was Marilee's quick reply.


James cleared his throat and pointed a remote control at the screen.  "On that note, why don't we start the movie," he announced, pushing another button that dimmed the lights in the theater. 


The room grew quiet and within minutes they were well into the first scene of Property Lines.


   Miranda Blackthorne

It was well after midnight when Miranda Blackthorne left the Rainbow Room in West Hollywood.  She stumbled out the door with a jock she'd met on the dance floor who proceeded to buy her five shots and three fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them. 


They flopped inside her red Camaro Z-28 and the jock lit up a joint while Miranda peeled out away from the crowded curbside by the club.   The stereo blasted My Sharona so loudly that she could barely hear herself think.


"Here," the jock said, handing her the joint. 


Miranda took the joint and inhaled a small amount before she began coughing and gagging on the smoke.  She'd never really smoked pot before but she figured it was a first time for everything.   She was twenty years old and she was going to start living a little.


"Far out, isn't it?" he asked, taking the joint from her and immediately dropping it onto the seat.  "Oh damn…"


"Pick it up!" Miranda ordered, her words slurring together in her drunken state.   "If I get a hole in my seat my dad will friggin kill me!"


The jock fumbled around for the joint and Miranda turned away from the road so she could help.   "It's here somewhere," the jock said.  "I can smell it burning."


"Well find it!" Miranda screamed, trying to be heard over the blaring music.  She turned back to the road and panicked at the sight of a car coming straight at them.  She quickly veered away, doing a complete 180 onto Laurel Canyon Road.    The car skidded to a stop, smoke and burning rubber assaulting her senses.


"Holy-" the jock began, bursting into laughter as he finally found the joint and took another long drag.


Miranda laid her head on the steering wheel for a minute, trying to regain her composure after the close call.   She looked up at the jock and started laughing at him, soon forgetting all about the near accident.


 Kenny DeWitt


James led his guests upstairs to the foyer, nursing a bourbon on the rocks as he thanked them for coming.   Leilani brought Marilee, the only woman in the group, her purse and her wrap, then handed Kenny DeWitt his Armani suit jacket. 


"I hope I'll be seeing all of you here Saturday for the wedding," James said, shaking several hands and giving Marilee a kiss on the cheek.


"We wouldn't miss it for the world," Marilee replied.


Just then, Miranda and her jock staggered through the front door and into the foyer, causing a spectacle for all of James's guests to witness.


The room grew quiet and everyone gawked in awe at Miranda and her hunky male friend.   James clenched his jaw in anger as he realized how drunk his daughter was, and with a perfect stranger that she'd brought home with her, no less.


"Ooops," Miranda said, bursting into a fit of laughter.


"I think we're interrupting something," said the jock.


"Miranda, what on earth are you doing?" James asked, glaring at her with dark, penetrating eyes.


"I don’t know," she hiccuped, her arm around over the jock's shoulder.  "What on earth are you doing, Daddy?"


"Miranda!" James bellowed.  He'd never seen his daughter like this before.  She'd always been the perfect daughter in every way.


"I think we'd better leave," Kenny DeWitt said, opening the front door and herding everyone outside.


"I'm so sorry about all of this," James said to his guests as he patted several of them on the back.  "Miranda's having a hard time dealing with the wedding, that's all," he added with a whisper.


Marilee nodded and managed a half-smile.  "It happens.  These kids today are so independent."


"Exactly," James agreed.  "Good night everyone."


He shut the door after the last of the guests had left and proceeded to storm across the foyer to where Miranda was standing with her new friend.


"Do you mind telling me what you were thinking coming home at his hour with a stranger?  You smell like a distillery!"


"Daddy, I didn't mean to," Miranda said, her eyes squinted shut as she tried desperately to stay conscious.  "I was feeling nervous about your wedding so I just went out for a drink at this gravy club.  And then one drink turned into twenty."


"Upstairs, right now!" James ordered, pointing to the grand staircase that led up to the second floor.  "We'll talk about this in the morning!"  He turned to the jock and led him forcefully to the front door.  "And as for you, I want you out of my house!"


"Hey man, I don’t even have a car," the jock mumbled.


James opened the door and threw the kid out onto the front porch.  "It's a nice night.  Walk home."  He slammed the door shut behind him and walked back over to Miranda who was slowly slumping to the floor.


"Daddy, don't be mad at me," she whined, frowning when he picked her up by the arm.


"What's wrong with you?" he demanded angrily.  "Did you set out to embarrass me in front of my friends, Miranda?   If so then you're a bigger brat than I imagined."


"I've embarrassed you?" Miranda asked.  "That's a joke, Daddy.  The only thing embarrassing is that you're marrying that slut on Saturday." 


James instinctively brought his hand up and slapped her neatly across the face.  A second later he was already filled with regret, but it was too late.  Miranda was racing up the stairs to her bedroom in a heated fit of hurt and despair.


Sighing, James motioned for Leilani and asked her to go up and check on her.  He knew she wouldn't want to see him, not after hitting her.  He'd never hit either of his children before, and he hated himself for giving in to the hateful words she said about Brooke.


He had to keep reminding himself that this was a transition for everyone.


 Stormy's House


Stormy sat in bed reading the paper the next morning in his house in the Valley.  Heather walked into the room and set a tray of toast and orange juice next to him.  She hopped onto the bed and began massaging his tattooed shoulders.


"I thought we could go into the studio today and experiment with some arrangements for that song," she said, her long brown hair tickling his bare back.


"I can't.  I'm meeting with a talent scout this morning and then we have to get ready for the rehearsal dinner at my dad's house tonight."


Heather set her jaw and angrily jumped up out of the bed.  "You have a meeting with a talent scout?" she asked in a rage.  "Why do you need a talent scout when I've been trying to get you to produce a record for me for months?"


Stormy rolled his eyes.  It was too early in the morning for the same argument over and over again.   "Babe, I told you that I'm going to help you," he said.  "But if I don't sign some new acts soon, Good Times Records is going to go down the drain."


"So sign me!" Heather insisted, the strap on her short nightgown falling over her shoulder.  "But you won't even listen to me sing anything!   I don't understand it!  Don't you think I'm good enough?"


Stormy eyed her up and down, growing increasingly aroused by her killer figure staring him dead in the face.  The way her nightgown was slipping off so effortlessly made him want her even more.   He got up and pulled her onto the bed, covering her with his half naked body.


"Stormy! Knock it off!  I'm trying to have a serious conversation with you!"


He ignored her rants and smothered her with kisses, starting at her lips and working down to her neck and shoulders.   "Come on, Babe," he moaned.  "Let's not fight today."


Slowly Heather began giving in.  Her taut expression turned into a smile and she wrapped her legs around him and squeezed.   Within seconds her nightgown was tossed across the room and he was kicking off his underwear.


 Blackthorne Mansion


James and Miranda sat at the rich ten-foot mahogany table in the dining room of the Blackthorne mansion, silently eating breakfast as Leilani served, pouring orange juice into their glasses.  The doorbell rang and she gracefully left the room to answer it.


The dining room was eerily quiet except for the clinking of forks and glasses.  James looked up and eyed his daughter, realizing he had to be the one to break the silence.  It was his fault that things were strained between them.  Not just for slapping her last night, but for not sitting down with her in the beginning and asking how she felt about his engagement to Brooke.


He opened his mouth to speak when Leilani entered the room again, followed by Brooke Taylor, looking radiant in a pink camisole and white flared jeans.


"Good morning," she said, beaming with excitement.


James wiped his mouth with a napkin and got up from the table.  "Darling, there you are," he said with a grin as he pulled her into a warm embrace.  "I wasn't sure what time I'd see you today."


"I couldn't wait to come by and see how you were," Brooke replied.  "How was your party last night?"


"Very nice," he said, leading her to the table and pulling out a chair for her.  "Everyone missed you."


Brooke smiled and looked up at Miranda who sat picking at her breakfast.  "Good morning, Miranda."


She didn't bother looking at Brooke. Instead, she slid her chair out and rose to her feet, turning to her father and giving him a vague smile.  "I have to go to class.  Check ya later," she said before turning and dashing out of the room.


Brooke's head sunk and she sighed heavily.  It was no secret that Miranda didn't like her and didn't approve of her marrying her father.  The fact that she hadn't been able to reach out to her left her with a helpless feeling.


"She'll come around, Darling," James said, reaching around and kissing her on the neck.


Nodding, Brooke managed a smile and kissed him in return.


"Coffee, Miss Taylor?" asked Leilani as she approached.


"Yes, thank you Leilani."


"How was last night?" James asked, sitting back down in his seat at the table.  "You look well rested so it must not have been a very late night."


"It was fun."


"Not having second thoughts then?" James joked.


Brooke couldn't help but smile.  "No, of course not," she replied.  "I want nothing more than to be Mrs. James Blackthorne."


James reached across the table and grasped her hand with his.  He looked up and saw his nephew, Ethan enter the dining room.


"Good morning," Ethan Blackthorne said with a smile and shook James's hand.  "Brooke, it's nice to see you."  He leaned down and kissed her lightly on the cheek.


"Hi Ethan."


"What brings you by today, Ethan?" James asked, gesturing to a chair next to him.  "I thought we agreed no business talk until after the wedding."


Ethan smiled and removed an envelope from his jacket pocket.  He was a handsome man of twenty-eight with dirty blond hair and brown eyes.   He and James were very close and he also worked as his financial manager.  James's sister, Georgie gave birth to Ethan and died a few short weeks later due to complications with the pregnancy.  This left Ethan to be raised by James and Georgie's parents in their hometown of Windsor, Kansas.   On his twenty-first birthday, Ethan came to Los Angeles and he and James had been friends and associates ever since.


"I thought you might want to see this," Ethan said, handing James the envelope.  "It was messengered to the studio today."


Frowning, James tore open the envelope and scanned the contents, an invitation of some sort.


"What is it?" Brooke asked curiously.


"An invitation to a cocktail party," he replied.  "Someone just bought the old Jaguar Studios and they're celebrating the grand opening tonight."


"That sounds fun," Brooke said.


"It's about time someone turned that studio around," Ethan agreed.  "Although I'm not sure it's worth saving anymore.  The last few movies they put out were total flops."


Brooke took the invitation from James and read it herself.  "It doesn't say who it's from," she remarked.  "But the party is tonight."


"Well that settles it," James said quickly.  "The rehearsal dinner is tonight.  We can't go to some cocktail party for Jaguar Studios."


"Aren't you the least bit curious who bought them?" Ethan asked.  "Once upon a time they were your biggest rivals.  What if someone is thinking of turning the place around?  You could be looking at more competition.  Jordan Rydell won't be the only producer you're up against next year at the Oscars."


James shrugged it off.  "Are you saying I should be worried?" he asked with a scoff.  "They invented Chapter 11 for companies who tried to take me on."


  Heather Blackthorne 

Heather Blackthorne parked her yellow Corvette in the lot at Rydell Productions and made her way up to her father's office.


Jordan Rydell was an incredibly sexy Hollywood powerhouse in his mid forties with brownish blond hair and hazel eyes.   He and his wife had been divorced for ten years and he'd raised their two children on his own since then.  His office at Rydell Productions was the latest in mod fashion.   Stark black and white furnishings and simple modern statues filled the room and transformed it into a stylish art gallery.


"Good morning, Sunshine," Jordan said, walking over and kissing his daughter on the cheek.  "This is certainly a surprise.  How are you doing?"


"Awful," Heather sighed and flopped down on the sofa in his office.  "Stormy's been promising to produce a demo for me for months and I'm beginning to think it's never going to happen.  I don't understand it.   I know I'm good.   Why does he keep putting me off?"


"Well what does he say?" Jordan asked.


"He just skirts the issue every time I bring it up."


"Typical of a Blackthorne," Jordan said ruefully.  "You can't trust them as far as you can throw them."


"Dad, that's not fair," Heather protested.


He smiled and sat down on the edge of his desk.  "You know that I didn't approve of you marrying that boy," he began.  "He's selfish, just like his father.  If I were you I wouldn't count on Stormy Blackthorne helping you with your career.   You'd be better off finding another record producer."


"Or movie producer," she insinuated, then shot up to her feet.  "Dad, you can put me in your next movie.  I've read the script and I can think of three parts I'd be perfect for."


"I thought you wanted to concentrate on your singing career," Jordan said matter-of-factly.


"I do, but I still need exposure."


Jordan sighed and sat down behind his desk.  "Heather, I can't put you in this movie," he explained.  "The parts I'm casting for are very specific.  I'll make sure you get into my next picture.  I promise."


Shaking her head in frustration, Heather flopped back down on the sofa.  She didn't understand why no one would help her career.  Her own husband and father treated her like the plague.


 Brooke Taylor


That afternoon, Brooke walked into the parlor at the Blackthorne mansion where Miranda was pouring over a schoolbook.   She took a deep breath to prepare herself and approached the girl with a smile.


“Miranda, I thought we could talk for a minute,” she began.  She had to clear the air between them before the wedding tomorrow.   If she didn’t at least try, she’d constantly blame herself for their strained relationship.


“I’m busy,” was Miranda’s short response.


Refusing to back down, Brooke walked over to the cognac leather sofa and sat down beside her.  “I know that you resent me,” she said.  “You don’t want me coming into your house and taking over for your mother.”


“That’s an understatement.”


“But I don’t intend on doing that,” Brooke continued.  “I’m marrying your father because I love him with all my heart.  And I want us to be friends.  Stormy has accepted me so I was hoping that you could too.”


Slamming her book shut, Miranda jumped up off the sofa and shot a menacing stare at Brooke.   “You want me to accept you as my new stepmother?” she asked.  “I’m sorry, but that’s never going to happen.   You’re only eight years older than me.   I can’t possibly look at you as a mother.”


“You don’t have to.  We can be friends.”


Miranda rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips.  “Friends?” she scoffed in disbelief.  “Are you serious?   Even if you weren’t marrying my father, I don’t make friends with trash that works at the Galleria giving free makeovers.”


The words stung like a slap across the face and Brooke took a step back, alarmed by the hateful tone in Miranda’s voice.  She opened her mouth to reply but the words didn’t come.


“I’m on to you, Brooke,” Miranda continued as she took a step forward.  “I know you’re going to wind up hurting my father.  And when that happens, you’d better watch out because I swear I’ll make you pay.”


Brooke could only stare in disbelief, hurt that anyone could think so low of her.


With one final glare, Miranda brushed past her and flew out of the parlor, nearly knocking Ethan over in her haste to leave.   Brooke turned and saw Ethan standing there, realizing he must have heard the hateful exchange between her and Miranda.


“Ethan, I’m sorry you had to hear that,” she said, turning away with embarrassment. 


“You don’t need to be sorry,” Ethan replied, walking up and putting a friendly hand on her shoulder.  “Miranda’s the one who should be sorry.  She had no right talking to you that way.”


Throwing her hands up in resignation, Brooke turned and began pacing back and forth in the dim, richly decorated parlor.  “No, it’s my fault,” she said.  “I should have tried harder to connect with Miranda when James and I first started seeing each other.”


“That’s bull and you know it.”


Brooke shrugged, feeling like she was at her wits end.  “Ethan, I just don’t know what to do.  How can I live in this house with Miranda hating the sight of me?”


Realizing how upset she was by Miranda’s actions, Ethan pulled her close and held her in an attempt to comfort her.    She rested her head on his chest and felt tears burning her eyes.


“Thank you for being here, Ethan,” she said, holding him tightly.  “You’ve been a good friend to me.  You’ve made coming into this family a lot easier.”


Neither of them saw James as he entered the parlor and watched them in an embrace.  After a few seconds he cleared his throat to announce his presence.  Brooke and Ethan broke away and looked over at James standing in the doorway.


“Is everything okay here?” he asked, raising an eyebrow with curiosity.


Brooke nodded and wiped a tear from her eye.  “Yeah, everything’s fine now,” she replied as she walked up and kissed him.   “Ethan was just-“  She paused, unsure of whether to tell James about Miranda’s outburst or not.


“I walked in and heard Miranda going off on Brooke,” Ethan explained.   “It wasn’t a pretty sight.   She was pretty upset.”


James turned his thoughtful gaze to his fiancé.  “I’m so sorry, Darling.  I’ll have another talk with Miranda.  I promise.”


Brooke shook her head.  “No, don’t,” she insisted.  “I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.  I just want to forget it ever happened.”


James pulled her close and smoothed his hand down her silky blond hair, wishing there was something he could do to mend fences between her and Miranda.  He didn’t want to start his marriage off under these kinds of circumstances.   There had to be something he could do.


 Renee DeWitt


Kenny DeWitt was a forty year old African American and had everything a man could ever want.  Merteuil Industries, his late father-in law's empire, of which he was CEO, had recently been named in the Fortune 500 thanks to his savvy business skills and sixth sense for a keen investment.  He had a thirty-bedroom mansion in Bel Air with a full staff, a powerful wife who had entrusted her father's company to him, and a mistress who satisfied him every way that his wife couldn’t.  On top of that, he was probably going to be elected chair of the California Land Commission, a post held in high honor among California politicians and businessmen.


Yes, he had it all.   How else could he afford to take the afternoon off to spend with the twenty-four year old nurse he’d been sleeping with for six months?   Winter Austen had sauntered into his life when she took his blood pressure during a routine physical.  Who could have predicted that an hour later they would be tearing each others clothes off in the supply closet at Cedars-Sinai?


He and Winter were laying in bed in her condo at the marina, paid for by Merteuil Industries, of course.   It was all for his own benefit, after all.   If he kept her happy and in the lap of luxury, she wouldn’t get any ideas about telling his wife about them, or even denying him the sex that he’d come to enjoy so much.


“I have to get back to the hospital soon,” Winter said, running her fingers through his salt and pepper hair.   She was a knockout with wavy blond hair and blue eyes.  A buxom figure and a kinky quality in bed made her Kenny’s perfect choice for an afternoon playmate, especially since he always had a thing for white girls. 


A figure standing in the bedroom doorway sent them both to an upright position and Kenny’s heart began racing a mile a minute.   When he realized that figure was his wife, Renee, he closed his eyes with regret.  He couldn’t believe she’d caught him.  She must have found a receipt for the condo rental and put two and two together.  She always was smart as a tack.


“Don’t let me interrupt,” Renee Merteuil-DeWitt said.  She was a glamorous looking black woman in her forties who oozed power and position.  Her black hair was pinned up on top of her head and she was draped in a floor length fur.   “I just came by to give you the good news, Kenny.”


He frowned, taking a telegram from her and opening the yellow envelope.


“It seems that you’ve been elected as chair of the land commission,” Renee announced, glaring at Winter with steady, undaunting eyes.


Kenny didn’t respond to the news.  He knew there had to be a catch somewhere, and knowing Renee it was a big one.


“I would congratulate you but I feel it might be a little premature,” Renee continued, relishing the predicament her philandering husband and his mistress were in.   “You see, I’ve known about your affair with this bimbo for quite some time.  And unfortunately, if you don’t end it right now, I’ll make sure that your election to this post goes away very quickly.” 


Kenny sighed with resignation, reading and rereading the telegram from the Governor informing him of his election.   He knew he was backed into a corner.   He had to end things with Winter, or Renee would do just as she promised.  She had the power to do it.


 Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda paced her bedroom at the Blackthorne mansion, clenching her fists in anger as she thought about Brooke and how she had intruded on their lives.  With a sigh, she plopped down onto her bed and picked up an issue of Image magazine.  Leafing through it, she tried desperately to get her mind off of the impending wedding. Unfortuantley, it was easier said than done.


Staring her in the face like a giant billboard was a two page spread on her father's engagement to Brooke Taylor. The disgustingly sweet photo made her want to vomit and she quickly ripped the pages from the magazine and tore them to shreds.


Frustrated and angry, Miranda walked to the window and gazed outside, wishing that everything could go back to normal, the way it was before James threw her mother out of the house the year before.  


Suddenly, her eyes traveled to the garden and beneath the trellis where Brooke and her cousin Ethan were standing together.  She saw the way Brooke looked into Ethan's eyes, the gentle way Ethan touched her shoulder. Miranda blinked twice, unsure if she was misreading things.  From her point of view, it seemed that her future step mother was a little too friendly with young Ethan.  


She wondered if her father knew about how close they'd become.


Next time...

James's ex-wife makes a lasting impression on Brooke.  Miranda's actions threaten to ruin James and Brooke's upcoming nuptials.  James grows suspicious of his nephew Ethan's intentions toward Brooke.  An old enemy of James's shows up with revenge on his mind.

 Read Episode 2



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