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Episode 109

 

Release Date:  March 16, 2010

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Jordan witnessed Suzanne's flirtatious behavior with Brett.  Oblivious, Brett discounted his father-in-law's theories.  Later, after reading a writing assignment of Suzanne's in which she explicitly detailed her fantasies of having sex with him, Brett realized that Suzanne was attracted to him and suddenly saw her in a new light.  Alex hid away in her apartment.  Later, she told James that she was going to adopt a baby.  Despite her attraction to him, Brooke informed Kyle that they would never wind up in bed together.  She was later furious with James for giving Kyle a position with Sunset Studios and the new film they were working on.  Renee was devastated to learn someone was buying up large chunks of stock in Merteuil Industries.  Meanwhile, with the help of the Fenwick family attorney, Bryan Carlson, Jackie was slowly gaining more shares in her enemies company.  Stormy revealed to Miranda that he feared he would never make James proud of him. Duke told Benji he would help him get Sierra back if he helped him get something back from Jeff Branigan that he lost in a bet.  

 


 

Episode 109

"KDX 125"

 

Muscle Beach, or The Pit as it was sometimes referred to, was a testosterone-laden playground for those serious about weight lifting.  A gated outdoor gym surrounded by a myriad of fitness related games encompassed the popular stretch of Venice Beach.  For those less enthusiastic about bodybuilding, or those unable to keep up with the powerhouse athletes who frequented the gym, it was not the place to be. 

Steven Chandler, however, decided he fit somewhere in between.  While artistically and professionally his goal was to finish his education at UCLA’s film school, he often surprised even those who knew him by his physical prowess.  He spent every morning at the gym at Muscle Beach before checking in with Jackie Blackthorne to see if she had any work for him.  It helped pay his school loans, at least.  It also helped to know he was doing something that may pay off later in his career.  Being a personal gofer who was often asked to do things and not ask questions wasn’t exactly resume-worthy, but his hopes were that it would lead to something bigger and better. Certain experiences that had little to do with his career as a director, like being clobbered over the head by an arsonist at Moonshadows, however, he could do without. 

He was always looking for something to advance his career.  Sometimes he’d take his video camera out and shoot random footage, then take it back to school and practice editing.  That’s how he came to get the sordid images of Jeff Branigan getting head from some girl in his car a few weeks ago.  They were parked on an access road at Redondo Beach where he happened to be walking by.   When he took the footage back to the lab and began editing it, he realized the girl was Summer Solomon, who had been dating Duke Summerfield.  He felt obliged to let him know.  Not that they were particularly good friends, but he felt he had a duty to look out for anyone in that position. 

In appreciation for his diligence, Duke had offered Steven a nice bundle of cash in exchange for a small favor.  He told him to meet him at the beach at eleven o’clock on Tuesday.  Steven was just finishing up his daily workout when Duke arrived with Benji Rydell.

“What’s up?” Steven asked as he set the barbell down and slurped from a bottle of lukewarm water.  He bumped fists with Duke and then with Benji, whom he knew by association but couldn’t remember ever been formally introduced to. 

“Jesus, man, this place is like a stockyard,” Duke said, looking around at the enormous bodybuilders waddling this way and that.  He shifted a black leather backpack from one shoulder to the other.   “You’re kind of the little man around here, aren’t you, Chandler?”

He shrugged, nodding to a couple of gargantuan guys in stringy tank-tops as they walked by.  “I can still run circles around these guys,” he said with a smirk, arm and shoulder muscles bulging with each movement he made.  He went to shake Benji’s hand.  “Steven Chandler.”

“Benji Rydell,” he replied, although he already knew who he was.  Freshman year he was home on a break from school and he and Blake and Steven hung out a couple of times.  Five years was a long time and had done wonders for Steven’s appearance.  They both had changed a lot physically since then. 

“So what’s this plan of yours?” Steven asked after turning to Duke.

“Yeah, you said you were going to tell me what you lost in that bet with Jeff Branigan.  Are you finally going to tell me what it was?”

Duke reached behind and pulled a picture from the back pocket of his jeans, handing it to Benji with pride.  “This is my baby.  That punk swindled it from me last summer.”

Benji looked at him incredulously and then back at the picture.  “An old motorcycle?” he asked with a hint of disappointment, inspecting the photo of a green motorcross bike. 

“It’s not just a motorcycle,” Duke said defensively.  “That’s a 1993 deluxe edition Kawasaki with a liquid cooled, two stroke, single cylinder engine with KIPS.  Original paint job and decals in tact.  You can’t find this thing anywhere.”

Benji had forgotten about Duke’s hard-on for everything motorcross.  He’d gotten in trouble on more than one occasion back at Beau Soleil for tearing up the soccer field during one of his practice runs.  The bike didn’t seem quite remarkable enough to warrant this kind of attention to detail in getting it back, however. 

“I raced that punk ass Branigan last summer at the Coal Bowl and he won using every dirty trick in the book.  The price was my bike.  The smug piece of shit has had it tucked away in his garage in Van Nuys ever since.” 

“So how are you going to get it back?” Steven asked.  “And how am I going to help?”

Duke took the backpack from his shoulder and handed it to him.  “It’s a two person job, and like I told Rydell, I can’t be involved or my little revenge tactic against Summer Solomon could be traced back to me.”  He looked at Benji.  “Oh, by the way, Steven was the one who sent me the sext of Summer and Jeff.”

It now made sense to Benji why Duke had involved him.  He watched as Steven unzipped the backpack and looked inside.  

“Oh boy,” he said with a chortle.  Inside the backpack were stacks of hundred dollar bills.  “How much money is in here?”

“Twenty-five grand,” Duke replied.  “I got my trust fund stipend early this month.”

Rifling through the stacks of money, Benji came to an object he was all too familiar with.  He stood back, positive that whatever Duke had planned was going to land him in trouble.

“What’s the gun for?” he asked. 

“Don’t worry.  No one’s going to get hurt.”  He zipped the bag up so that no one around them could see.

“I guess we have to take your word for that,” Benji said.  “So what exactly are we doing?  I don’t see how money and a gun are going to get your bike back unless you’re planning on buying it back or holding him hostage.”

“I tried buying it back and he wouldn’t bite,” Duke said.  “Just listen up.  This is going to be quick and easy.”

Benji had heard that before.  Nothing with Duke was ever quick and easy.

Jackie Lamont

“I loved it,” Jackie said as she handed the script back to James.  “I can see why you’re so eager to start production.”

James narrowed his eyes suspiciously on her.  “What’s your game?”

“No game,” she replied with a shrug while sitting down on the sofa in his office.    House of Palms is a blockbuster.  I think it’s exactly what Sunset Studios needs.  Especially if Angel Assassin 2 flops when it goes worldwide this Friday thanks to your ex-wife’s antics.”

James laughed and leaned back in his chair.  “Forgive me, I’m just not used to you being so agreeable.  Or is that just because Brooke didn’t have a say in the selection of the script?”

“You know, I do have the best interest of this studio at heart,” Jackie reminded him.  “It used to be my father’s, remember?”

James sighed.  “Yes, how could I forget?  Anyway, Stormy and Kyle left for Acapulco this morning to start scouting locations.  I have meetings all day with the financial backers, and Brooke is having lunch with the Eric Autumn.  I’m hoping to get him to direct.”

“You’re leaving such an important job in her hands?” Jackie inquired.  “Eric is the best in the business.”

“And Brooke is very capable.”  He stood up from his desk and slipped into his navy suit jacket.  “I’m going to be unreachable for a few hours so I need you to pass along to Brooke the name of the restaurant Eric is meeting her at.”

She took a slip of paper from him and rolled her eyes.  “I’m honored to be such an integral part of the process,” she said sarcastically.  “I’d like to actually be of some value, James, and not just by giving out phone messages.”

“Just try to stay out of trouble,” he said on his way out the door. 

She rose from the sofa in one graceful movement, glancing at the slip of paper containing the information on Brooke’s lunch with the director.  Smiling, she crumbled it in her hand as she made her way out into the hall. 

Brooke Taylor

“But I thought James wanted me to have lunch with Eric Autumn?” Brooke asked half an hour later when Jackie entered her office. 

“Change in plans,” Jackie indicated.  “James is doing lunch and he’s sending me to meet with the backers instead.  He wants you to go down to Acapulco and help Stormy and Kyle with the location scout.”

Brooke didn’t trust her.  She’d been far too mischievous since she manipulated herself into the company to take anything she said at face value.  “That doesn’t make sense.  Why would he need me to help with the location scout?”

“Because he trusts you,” Jackie replied.  She was quite pleased with herself, knowing exactly the buttons to push to make Brooke fall right into her trap.  “Let’s face it, Kyle has never worked in the business, and Stormy hasn’t exactly proven himself to his father.  Take it as a compliment.”

Brooke regarded her carefully, picking up the phone and calling James’s cell.

“What are you doing?” Jackie asked.

“Calling James.  I’d like to hear this from him if you don’t mind.”

Jackie shrugged.  “Be my guest, but the jet is waiting at the airfield.  It’s an hour and twenty minute flight.  If you-“

“Damn,” Brooke said and hung up the phone in aggravation.  “It’s going straight to voicemail.”

Jackie shrugged.  “The negotiations with Eric Autumn are probably very intense.  I’m sure he doesn’t want to be disturbed.  But if you want to wait and clear it with him-“

“No,” Brooke said, rising from her desk and snatching her purse from the credenza.  “Do you know where they’re staying in Acapulco?”

“Hotel Continental,” Jackie replied as she watched her storm out of the office.

Brooke walked down to the elevator, pushing the button and sweeping a spray of platinum hair from her eyes.  She hated when James did this to her.  No notice and she was supposed to be off on a flight to Mexico. 

“Good luck,” Jackie murmured to herself from the doorway. 

She clasped her hands together, grinning at her knack for manipulating people the way she needed to. When James learned Brooke didn’t make it to the lunch with Eric Autumn, he’d be furious with her, and hopefully another step closer to banishing her from Sunset Studios. 

Benji Rydell

Benji hadn’t been to Jeff Branigan’s apartment in the Valley since the party where someone jumped off the balcony into the pool and cracked their head open.  The courtyard building was much calmer today; no drunken frat guys spilling out of the pool or bikini-clad girls doing shots and cheering when someone in their group threw up. 

He and Steven parked on the street outside the gate.  They walked around the pool, spotting Duke’s dirt bike by the stairs and exchanging quick glances at one another.  They took the steps up to the second floor, knocked, and waited for what seemed like an eternity for someone to answer.  When the door opened, it was Jeff’s twin brother Joba who worked at California Taco in between drug deals.  Joba, a pudgier version of Jeff, grinned through a haze of pot that clouded the room. 

“Hey, Rydell, what’s up man?” he asked, attempting to perform a complicated handshake and failing miserably due to his drug-induced lack of coordination.   He looked over his shoulder where Jeff was slouched on the sofa in a wife beater and extremely baggy shorts.  “Yo, Rydell’s here man.”

Jeff rose from the beat up old sofa, turned the volume down on the over-done home theatre system that blasted through the apartment, and approached the door. 

“You slumnin’ it today, Rydell?” he asked, giving him a pat on the shoulder.   “Haven’t seen you since my party.  Who’s your friend?”

“This is Steven,” Benji replied as he followed them into the sparsely furnished living room.  He couldn’t understand why two guys who made such a killing on selling drugs lived in such a ratty apartment.  But judging from the cars they drove and the expensive electronics he saw in the living room, they had different priorities. 

Steven followed Duke’s instructions and did his best to maintain the pissy look on his face.  His role was to play the quiet but intimidating buyer.

“Whoa, big guy,” Jeff said and shook his hand.  “What can I do for you boys?”

“Steven’s looking for some blow,” Benji said, squinting through the smoky room.  “I told him you got the best in town.”

“Best anywhere,” Jeff corrected him.  He looked at Steven and studied him carefully.  “You a cop?”

“No,” he replied simply.

“Why haven’t I seen you around?”

“He keeps to himself,” Benji answered for him.  “Works out all the time.  Too busy to hang around with you jack-offs.”

Jeff nodded.  “Gym guys are always my best customers,” he said.  He turned to Benji.  “Hey man, we should hang out more.  Duke still in town?  We should go to Vanguard Friday night.  I hear they got a killer DJ from Chicago coming in.”

“Sounds awesome,” Benji said, wanting nothing more than to get out of there.  He tried to speed things along.  “So how much you got?”

Jeff avoided his question by pulling a keyboard from the top of the big screen television and tapping at the keys.  “Shit, did you guys see my video?  They took it off YouTube but I got it on another site now.  It is some kick-ass shit.  Check it out, this bitch from Palos Verdes came on to me at the beach one night and begged me to let her slob on my dick.”

Benji watched the video with moderate interest.  Steven spent the five minutes critiquing his own editing work. 

“Check out this part,” Jeff said, beaming proudly while pointing at the screen.  “Just about gagged her there.”

“That’s great,” Benji said.  “So anyway.  About that coke?”

Jeff pulled a kitchen chair from the table and positioned it in the corner of the room.  “How much you want, big guy?”

Steven pulled a stack of money from the duffel bag.  “I got twenty-five grand.”

Jeff raised an eyebrow and exchanged looks of excitement with Joba.  “You’re serious about your stuff, aren’t you?” he asked, climbing onto the chair and sliding open an air vent on the ceiling.  He reached up and removed a bag of cocaine the size of a sack of flour.  “I like that.”

Steven handed him the money from the bag and took the cocaine from him.  “This the good stuff?” he asked, placing it in the duffel bag.

“Like I said, the best anywhere.  My suppliers know their stuff.  You’re lucky I just got a delivery in yesterday.”

“Well, thanks,” Benji said, eager to get the transaction over with.  He motioned to Steven and walked to the door.

“Anytime,” Jeff replied with a grin.  “Hey man, let me know about Vanguard on Friday.  You and Duke are fun to party with.”  He looked at Steven and added, “I’d invite you, big guy, but you’ll probably be at the gym.”

“Probably,” Steven said.  “Nice bike, by the way.”

“Thanks,” Jeff said, following them onto the balcony and glancing down at the Kawasaki near the stairs.  “Won her in a race last year.”

They started down the stairs.  “Later, Jeff,” Benji said.

When they got back to the car, Steven let out a deep breath.  “That guy is a punk,” he said.  “I suddenly don’t mind what we’re about to do to him.”

Benji laughed and pulled the car onto the street.  “Let’s just hope nothing goes wrong.”

James Blackthorne

The meeting with the financial backers for House of Palms went better than James could have expected.  They, unlike others, were optimistic of the interest over Alex’s breakdown would have on ticket sales for Angel Assassin 2.  The hardest part was now over and he could take a deep breath.  As long as Brooke’s meeting with Eric Autumn went well, they’d be sitting pretty. 

He decided to swing by Kenny’s office at the marina and talk to him about Alex and her ridiculous quest to adopt a baby.  When he arrived, Renee was there and he could sense the tension in the room.  After she filled him in on the stock purchases that were lowering her share in Merteuil Industries, he offered a sympathetic ear. 

“JL3 Enterprises,” James said with a frown.  “I’ve never heard of them.”

“That’s because they just filed for a DBA last week,” Kenny informed him.

“Who filed it?”

“I can find out but the discovery period takes thirty days.”

“And by that time it may be too late,” Renee said.  She was dressed in an emerald green dress with plenty of darling cleavage.  In her right hand was her cream colored mink stole that she dragged along the floor as she paced the office.  “My father’s company could be in the hands of someone else.  How could I let this happen?”

“You haven’t done anything,” James assured her.

“I should have kept Kenny on board as CEO,” she said.  “Why I thought I could run a company of this size myself is beyond comprehension.  Kenny, please tell me you’ll step in and help me through this.”

“Of course I will,” he said, hugging her tightly.  “I’ll stick around for how ever long it takes.  I can still handle my cases from the offices there.” 

“Thank you,” she said, wiping a tear from her eye.

“If there’s anything I can do, Renee…” James offered.

“Actually, there is,” Renee said.  “I need to fight tooth and nail to stop this person from gaining majority share in the company.  That means buying as much stock as I can and keeping the shareholders from selling theirs.”

“I have no intention of selling my shares in Marteuil,” James informed her.  “The stock price has been low lately and I’ve taken a hit, but I don’t plan on selling.  Especially now.”

“Thank you,” Renee said.  “At least this way we can stop them from getting our shares.”

“Who haven’t you made contact with?  Maybe I can make some calls to get the word out.”

“So far only Jack and Marilee.  Jack would sooner lie down and die than sell his shares to anyone because of his relationship with my father, so I’m not worried about him.”

“And Marilee?”

“She’s away on business.  I can’t reach her.  If her hundred thousand shares got into the wrong hands…” 

“I wouldn’t worry too much,” James told her.  “Marilee wouldn’t do that to you.”

Renee felt a little better.  “I hope you’re right.”

“Not to change the subject,” James began.  “But Kenny, what in the hell is going on with Alex?  How could you in good conscience help her try to adopt a baby?  You know as well as I do how implausible the idea is.  With her recent behavior-“

“You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know,” Kenny told him.  “But you should have heard her, James.  She begged me.  She thinks this baby is her only chance.  I figure if I at least try to help her it’s better than nothing.”

“I just don’t want her to get her hopes up,” James said.  “She’s been through enough.  She needs rehab, not a baby.” 

Acapulco

The Continental Hotel was located on the west end of Acapulco Bay and offered meager accommodations at best.  Miranda had stayed there when she came to Acapulco to get a quickie divorce from Brett, and James had recommended it since it fell in line with the chain of hotels owned by Leigh Purcell.  Several crew members had stayed there some ten years ago while filming Elena.  Since Leigh's death the new owners had taken it to new lows, but Stormy decided it was acceptable for the short time he and Kyle were going to be there. 

The plan was to meet up in the lobby and head out by jeep with Alejandro, a member of Comefilm, the Mexican Film Commission.  He didn’t know what help Kyle was going to be considering he’d never done anything like this before.  But his father wanted him in, and since it was Kyle’s father’s script they were shooting, he agreed without much protest. 

After unpacking his suitcase, he changed into lightweight shorts and a polo, then pulled on a pair of comfortable tennis shoes.  They were going to be doing a lot of walking so he wanted to be prepared. 

Kyle Fenwick

Downstairs, Kyle finished a drink at the bar and, through his mirrored aviator sunglasses, glanced around the lobby that was decorated in rattan furniture and lush tropical plants.  From above he could feel the cool breeze from the ceiling fans.  It had to be ninety degrees outside and he was already sweating through his clothes.  Mexico was not one of his favorite places. 

The location scout promised to be interesting.  They were touring an old factory outside of town and then a couple of estates supposedly once owned by a famous Mexican singer in the early nineteen-eighties.  

Before they headed out, he decided to have a drink in the lobby.  To his surprise, stepping out of a taxi outside under the porte-cochere, he saw a vision that he wasn’t expecting.  Standing up from the bar stool, he charged through the lobby and met up with her at the door.

“Couldn’t stay away, huh?” he asked with a sexy grin. 

Brooke ignored the comment, removing her sunglasses and checking to make sure the driver had her bags.  “I had nothing to do with it.  James wanted me to come down and help.”

“He did?” Kyle inquired, taking her cue and removing his sunglasses.  “That’s interesting.” 

“Why is that interesting?” she asked in irritation, fanning her hot, damp skin with a magazine. 

“I don’t know, I guess because he sent you down at the last minute.  Stormy and I can handle it just fine.” 

“Great,” she said, dropping her hands to her sides in frustration.  “So I wasted a trip down here.”

Kyle suddenly got an idea.  Maybe he could use this development to his advantage.  “Not necessarily.  There’s a pool and a hot tub and a bar.  What more do we need?”

She cast him a look of warning.  “I’m just going to see if my room’s ready.” 

“I’ll do it,” Kyle said, quickly racing up to the front desk.  “Do you have a room for Miss Taylor yet?”  He casually slid a hundred dollar bill across the counter to the clerk while discretely prompting him with a shake of his head. 

“Uh, no Senor, not yet,” the man replied and pocketed the cash.  “Try back later.”

Kyle winked and turned back to Brooke.  “Nothing available yet.  You can go up and freshen up in my room.  I’ll meet you up there in a little while and then we can find Stormy and head out.”

Brooke considered his offer, wanting nothing more than to cool off in the air conditioning.  She motioned to the bellboy and offered a gracious smile at Kyle after he handed her his key.  “Thanks.  I won’t be long.”

He grinned as he watched her disappear around the corners to the elevator.  After she’d gone, he waited a few minutes until Stormy appeared in the lobby, ready for their expedition. 

“All set?” Stormy asked. 

“Actually I have a better idea.  There’s no sense in wasting time here.  Why don’t you go with the guy from Comefilm and I’ll check out some other spots.  Then we’ll meet up here tonight and compare notes.”

“What spots are you going to check out?” Stormy asked with a frown.  “We need the film commission to approve-“

“If we had the film commission give us the whole tour this thing could take a week.  So we split up and get it done in a fraction of that time.  What’s the problem?”

Stormy shrugged, not wanting to argue over it.  “No problem.  See you tonight then.”

Kyle waved, watching as he left the hotel and climbed into the jeep with Alejandro.  Happily, he’d bought himself some alone time with Brooke.   Downing the rest of his drink, he made his way to the elevators and headed back up to his room.

Sunset Studios

From her office at Sunset Studios, Jackie could hear James shouting and throwing things two doors down.  With an amused raise of her eyebrows, she walked down the hall to his door. 

“Is there a problem?” she asked, peeping through the doorway. 

James slammed the phone onto the desk and jumped up from his seat.  With a hand over his mouth to keep from screaming, he began pacing the room in frustration.  “That was Eric Autumn on the phone.  He reamed me a new asshole because nobody was there to meet him at lunch today.  He’s threatening to never work with Sunset Studios again.”

“But I thought Brooke was meeting Eric Autumn for lunch,” Jackie said, pleased that his reaction was as she’d expected.

“I did too, but the pilot told me he flew her down to Acapulco this morning,” James said.  “So Eric was sitting in the restaurant for an hour before he left a message with my service saying he didn’t appreciate being stood up.”

“I’m sure we can reschedule.  It’s probably not as big a deal as you think it is, James,” she told him.   She went for the phone and started dialing.  “I know Eric fairly well.  His father and Jonas had parties all the time back in the day.  I’ll just call him and-“

“That’s not the point, Jackie,” James said angrily.  “I trusted Brooke with this and she deliberately went against my wishes.”

“Eric Autumn, please,” Jackie said into the receiver.  “It’s Jackie Lamont calling.”

James stormed around the room, rubbing his face and trying to calm down before he called Brooke.  He didn’t want to confront her in this state of mind.  He had to remember they were married once.  She was practically Ethan’s widow, and she deserved a chance to make a name for herself in the business.  By the time he’d finished his train of thought, Jackie was hanging up the phone.

“Done,” she said with a smile.  “Eric and I are meeting for dinner.  I guess I am good for something after all.”

“Thank you, Jackie,” James said.  “I just wish I knew what was going on in Brooke’s head.  You gave her the message about the restaurant, didn’t you?”

“Of course,” she lied.  “But if you want my opinion, she’s putting her obvious feelings for Kyle Fenwick ahead of anything else.  Why else would she have jumped on the jet and flew down there?”

“You don’t think I should have let Kyle join the team?”

“I don’t think Kyle is the problem.  Brooke has been the one messing up right and left.  She just has no head for business, James.  Makeup is her forte.”

James groaned with irritation.  “Don’t start.  Brooke may have messed up, but I’m not going to let you trash talk her again.”  He paused, finally realizing that Jackie had resorted to another one of her lows.  “Wait a minute.  This was your doing, wasn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean this wouldn’t be the first time you sabotaged Brooke.  You already admitted that you lured her to the club at Moonshadows hoping to get her and Kyle together so you could discredit her.”  He took a step forward.  “You didn’t give her the message about lunch today, did you?  You sent her to Mexico instead.”

Jackie backed up a step, tracing a finger delicately along his desk.  “That’s ridiculous,” she said, although not very convincingly.  She couldn’t hide anything from James.  He saw right through her.  Instead, she tried to appear coy.  “Why would I want to sabotage the studio?”

“Because you knew you’d be able to save the day with one phone call,” James replied.  “Jackie, I don’t know what your problem is.  You have to stop this obsessive need to challenge Brooke.  You can’t honestly blame her for what Royce and Roz did.”

She looked away, suddenly dropping her coy act in exchange for one of hostility.  How dare he tell her how she should feel?  “I had a happy marriage until she came along.”

“So blame Royce, or blame Roz.  I won’t stand for another one of your attempts at trying to ridicule Brooke.  I mean it, Jackie.”

She turned and glared angrily at him.  “You’re such a fool.  Still protecting her even after she slept with your nephew and had his baby.  If you want to talk about letting things go, why don’t you look in the mirror and realize that you’re still in love with her.”

James shook his head, about to protest before she turned and darted out of the room.  It was suddenly apparent to him that he did jump to Brooke’s defense quite often.  And yes, before Brooke and Ethan reunited, he did go through a period where he thought he wanted her back.  But that was over.  He had let her go.  And if she wanted Kyle, then he wouldn’t stand in her way.

Acapulco

After a quick shower, Brooke felt much better.  She wrapped a towel around her torso and stepped outside the bathroom where Kyle was seated on the edge of the bed.  Immediately, she grew tense, checking to ensure she was properly covered. 

“If you don’t mind…” she said, gesturing to the door.

Kyle gestured innocently, his hands hung between his legs.  “Sorry, is my being here making you uncomfortable?”

She rolled her eyes.  “No.  I just like privacy when I’m getting dressed.  Please leave.”

“You’re not a good traveler, are you?” he asked, jumping up and walking across the room.  “Grumpy, irritable, standoffish.  You should think about taking a valium next time.”

“If I’m grumpy and irritable it’s because I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” she said.  “Where’s Stormy?  I thought we were meeting up with him.”

“Oh, right,” Kyle began, breathing heavy as she looked at her damp bronzed skin beneath her towel.  “He decided to go out on his own with the guy from the film commission.  Guess that means we have the rest of the afternoon to ourselves.”

Brooke leveled a suspicious look in his direction.  “Oh really?  Stormy just happened to decide that he was going out on his own?  Give me a break.  You planned this so we would be alone together.” 

“Somebody’s ego is inflated.”

“Admit it.  The minute I walked in the door you’ve been thinking of ways to get me alone and into bed.”  She sighed in aggravation, walking past him and snatching her cell phone from her purse.  “I’m calling James.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Kyle said.  “So I wanted to be alone with you, what’s the big deal?”

“I have a voicemail,” Brooke said, ignoring him.  “It’s James.”

“What did he say?”

After listening to the message, she clicked the phone off and threw it angrily across the room.  “That bitch,” she hissed under her breath.  “Looks like you’re not the only one trying to pull the wool over my eyes.  Turns out Jackie’s up to her usual pranks.”

“What did she do?”

“Forget it,” she replied in a huff.  She walked to her suitcase and started throwing things into it.  “I’m getting out of here.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I’m going back to Los Angeles.  This whole trip was a setup.  First Jackie wanting me out of the way and then you using it to satisfy your sexual appetite.  You know, when is she going to learn that I’m not going to stand for being manipulated?  And when are you going to learn that I’m not some pathetic love-starved bimbo who’s going to fall into bed with you just because you give me those do me eyes?”

He folded his arm, smiling in amusement at her tirade. 

“What’s so funny?” she demanded angrily.

“You just broke your phone and I don’t have the pilot’s number stored in mine,” Kyle told her.  “Looks like we’re stuck here until Stormy gets back.”

She ran her fingers through her wet hair and examined her phone, now in pieces from being hurdled across the room.

Brett Armstrong

Brett could tell himself that he had no intention of going through with it, but deep down he knew that he would.  Once he set his mind to something, it was difficult – if not possible – to let it go.  By faking himself out into thinking it was unexpected and unplanned, he could avoid some of the guilt, and it worked every time. 

That morning he’d dropped Violet off at Suzanne’s as he always did, taking care to leave his briefcase behind, of course with tons of paperwork he couldn’t get through the day without.   It didn’t take Suzanne long to find it and call him asking if he wanted her to drop it by.   It worked perfectly, and gave him an opportunity to see her again. 

“Where’s Violet?” he asked as she entered his office in a strapless lavender dress. 

“Out with the receptionists,” she answered with a smile, setting then briefcase on his desk.  “They’re in love with her.  You should bring her by more often.  I think she likes the extra attention.”

Brett smiled and walked across the room to where she was standing.  His tie was loosened and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, perhaps in an effort to lighten the mood.

“You look lovely,” he said.  He’d thought of nothing else since he read her story on her computer.  The erotic thoughts she had written out were etched into his mind and had kept him awake all night.  Two cold showers and an extra long workout in the gym did nothing to stop his mind from racing at the thought. 

“Oh, thank you,” she said cheerfully, tugging at the sides of the dress and giving herself a once-over.  “You don’t think it’s too….I don’t know…bright?  I normally go for darker colors.  I guess I’m trying to brighten my outlook on life.”

He couldn’t take his eyes off of her.  “I don’t think you need to change anything,” he said.  “You’re perfect.”

She smiled awkwardly and tried to change the subject.  “I hope you didn’t need anything in your briefcase this morning,” she said.  “I got here as fast as I could.”

“What?” he asked. 

“Your briefcase.”  She pointed to his desk.  “You said you needed some paperwork from it.” 

In one fluid motion, she brushed past him and made her way to the desk.  As she did, Brett stopped her by placing his hands on her waist.  She turned and looked up at him, recognizing the look in his eyes from her fantasies. 

They remained silent for several moments, eyes unmoving from one another.  Brett leaned in close, his lips brushing against hers.  Suzanne froze, paralyzed in ecstasy.  How was this happening?  She closed her eyes as he gently kissed her.  The salty taste of his tongue sent ripples of pleasure washing over her. 

Then she opened her eyes and pulled away ever so slightly.  She thought he was oblivious to her fantasies.  So far they had been a secret she kept buried deep inside, and truthfully she liked it that way.  It was something of her own that she could wrap herself in when life got too mundane or she lost hope that she would find some kind of passion in her life again.    How did everything change virtually overnight? 

“Brett, what are you doing?” she asked. 

“I thought this is what you wanted,” he said in a low voice, brushing his lips across her cheek. 

“But how…” she began, then quickly put the pieces together.  “You read my story, didn’t you?”

He took her hand and kept her from pulling away.  “It made me realize I felt the same way,” he said.  “It was right in front of me for so long but I never put it together until I read what you wrote about us.  Now I can’t stop thinking about you.”

“This is wrong,” she said softly, desperately trying to avoid eye contact.  “You’re my daughter’s husband.  She’s off fighting for her sanity and I’m having these fantasies that I shouldn’t be having.”

“Don’t think about it,” he said, coaxing her back to him and wrapping his arms tightly around her.  “I want you more than I’ve wanted anyone in a long time.  I know you do too.  Just forget about everything else and let me make our fantasies happen.”

She closed her eyes as he kissed her neck.  As much as she wanted to do what he suggested, it wasn’t that simple.  There were consequences.   Finally, she pushed him away and raced to the door.

“We can’t do this, Brett,” she said, her hand on the handle.  “No matter how much we may want it.” 

Before he could protest, she was flying out the door.  When she’d gone, he sat down on the edge of his desk and let out a deep breath.  Burying his face in his hands, he decided that she was probably right.  He had fought to keep his family together and he wasn’t going to blow it by sleeping with Suzanne, no matter how much he wanted it.

Duke Summerfield

Duke dumped the white powder into a bowl, emptying the bag nearly all the way before picking up a box of baking powder.  Benji and Steven stood by shaking their heads doubtfully.

“Are you sure this is going to work?” Benji inquired. 

“Are you kidding?” Duke asked, replacing the cocaine with the baking powder.  “They’re never going to know the difference, which is exactly the point.  All you guys have to do is go back and express your displeasure with the merchandise you paid very handsomely for.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier just to buy another bike?” Benji asked.  “You just dropped twenty-five grand on coke.  I doubt that green machine of yours costs nearly that much.”

“That’s not the point,” Duke insisted.  “I spent painstaking hours modifying that bike to precise specifications.  I won countless trophies on that bike.  I nailed my first girlfriend on that bike.”

“You did?” Steven asked with an incredulous frown.

“Yeah, so lay off my bike.  I’m getting it back if it’s the last thing I do.”

 He handed the bag, now filled with baking powder, back to Benji who placed it in the duffel bag. 

“Don’t forget this,” Duke said, handing him the gun.  “Just in case it becomes necessary.” 

Benji looked at Steven and motioned for the door.  He hoped this was worth it and Duke kept his promise to break up Sierra and Hunt Roberts.  He was the only one who knew the guy and knew that he was a user.  If it wasn’t for that, he would have never agreed to this plan, especially when he was so close to getting off probation for his last gun-related incident. 

But nothing would go wrong with this plan.  They’d just walk in there, strike up a deal, and walk out with the bike.  The gun wouldn’t even come into play. 

Miranda Blackthorne

Brooke left Michael in Miranda’s care while she was in Mexico, which Miranda was happy to do, but also slightly nervous.  She’d never really had to care for a child on her own before.  She kept thinking that if she hadn’t had her miscarriage, her and Brett’s baby would be about three years old by now.  The thought of being a mother was so foreign to her that she could hardly grasp the concept.

But she managed to do quite well, entertaining him with toys, loads of candy and a trip to the pier.  On the way home she decided to make a quick stop.  One that she had been dreading, but knew she had to eventually.

“Darling, what a surprise,” Alex said as she opened the door to her apartment.  When she saw Michael standing beside Miranda she raised a curious eyebrow.  “This is a sight I never thought I’d see.” 

“Well I never thought I’d see my mother take a spill on the red carpet either,” Miranda said, marching into the apartment and sitting Michael on the sofa with his stuffed pig.  “And yet it happened.”

“Oh that,” Alex said offhandedly.  “I was lightheaded.  I hadn’t eaten all day and I had one little glass of champagne and-“

“Oh, stop it, Mother,” Miranda snapped.  “You were high as a kite.  Your co-star exposed your little secret in front of the whole world, remember?  Seriously, you’re not still taking those pills, are you?  Daddy says you have a problem but I guess I just don’t want to believe it.”

“I do not have a problem,” she said.  “So I took a few pills, big deal.”

“The same pills that you nearly overdosed on a few months ago and wound up in the hospital.  Now they’ve cost you your job and everyone close to you.  Has Kyle been in contact since the premiere?”

Alex looked away defensively.  “No, but I blame that on your father’s second ex-wife.  Honestly, if there’s a man that I’m interested in, you can bet Brooke Taylor is going to be right there waiting to snatch him away.  I’m surprised she hasn’t sunk her claws into Jordan yet.”

“Brooke is not the issue, Mother,” Miranda said and walked across the room.  “You need help.  Why don’t you let us help you?”

“The only one who’s even expressed one ounce of concern or desire to help me is your father, and he wasn’t exactly forthcoming with emotion.  Our relationship has been quite strained since the earthquake.”

“Daddy told me that you were planning to adopt a baby,” Miranda said.

The remark caught Alex off guard.  She wasn’t prepared to discuss her plans with anyone, especially her children.  But since she brought it up, she decided there was no use in hiding it.

“Yes, I am.  Kenny is exploring options for me.  There’s an adorable baby in Malawi that he’s looking at.  She’s been in an orphanage since she was born.  Her mother and father were killed.”

“You’re serious about this?” Miranda asked.  “Why?”

“Why?”

“Yes, why?  Why does this sound like a good idea to you?”

“There are a lot of babies out there who need a loving home, Miranda,” Alex said firmly.  “Why shouldn’t I give one of them a life that has some advantages?”

She looked at her suspiciously.  “You’re not doing this for the good of humanity. Who are you kidding?  You're not Madonna.  You’re doing this because you’re alone.” 

“That’s ridiculous,” Alex said. 

Miranda, tending to Michael who was starting to grow restless and asking a million questions in rapid succession, exhaled with frustration.  “Is it ridiculous?”

Alex sighed.  “Fine, you’re right.  I’m alone and I don’t want to be alone.”

“Then get help.  Check yourself into rehab.”

“I don’t need rehab,” Alex spat.  “I need my family to accept me instead of pushing me away.”

“We haven’t pushed you away.”

“You and your brother haven’t exactly been by my side lately,” Alex told her.  “Stormy still hasn’t forgiven me for driving Kelly away, and you all but turned your back on me after you were burned in the earthquake. I was too superficial, you told me.  I didn’t understand.  I’d ruined your life by teaching you beauty secrets instead of real values.”

“Those were Daddy’s words, not mine,” Miranda said. 

“But you agreed with him.   I’ve been a failure as a mother.  This is my chance to correct that.”

Miranda grew more frustrated.  “Why don’t you try to work on your relationship with me and Stormy instead of bringing another kid into it?”

“Don’t you mean another kid to screw up?” Alex asked sorrowfully.

Sighing, Miranda shook her head.  “That’s not what I said.”

“But it’s what you think.  Admit it.  Well I guess we’ll see what happens.  Maybe you’ll all be surprised when I actually find the happiness that I deserve.”

Realizing there was no getting through to her, Miranda took Michael by the hand and started to the door.  “I’ve got to go,” she said, turning back before leaving.  “Just promise me one thing, Mother.  If you have the chance to raise another child, teach her that beauty starts on the inside.  That’s one area this family is seriously lacking in.” 

Alex watched as she left, walking to the counter and picking up the information Kenny had delivered on the baby from Malawi.  She didn’t care what anybody said, she was going to clean up her act and make it a reality, and this time she would do it right.

Brooke Taylor

“I see you finally decided to get out of the hotel room,” Kyle said when he found Brooke lounging poolside in a tiny yellow bikini.  He stood above her, grinning as she sunned herself on a lounge chair. 

“I might as well do something while I’m waiting,” she replied, shielding her eyes from the sun as she gazed up at him.  For a brief moment, she found herself ogling him, his finely sculpted body glistening in the sun and dirty blond hair slightly tousled.  Any woman would be insane not to take notice.  But just as quickly she looked away and turned back to the sun.  She still hadn’t forgiven him for sending Stormy off on his own so he could be alone with her.  Obviously he was not to be trusted, no matter how differently she felt mere days ago. 

“Mind if I join you?” he asked, gesturing to the chair beside her. 

She leaned across and folded the chair up.  “It’s broken,” she said, unable to resist being a little childish.  He deserved at least that much. 

Laughing quietly to himself, he knelt down next to her and picked up her bottle of suntail oil.  “You know, this would be a lot easier if you weren’t so damn stubborn.  So I screwed up, big deal.  Like I said, is my wanting to spend time with you so bad?”

“No, it’s your methods.”

“Jackie was the one who sent you down here under false pretenses,” Kyle said.   “You can’t blame me for that.  All I did was tell a little white lie so we could stay behind from the location scout.”

“A little white lie makes it sound cute,” Brooke snapped.  “Your actions are no better than Jackie’s.”

“That’s a little harsh.”

“You know, people like you and her think I’m this dumb, naïve girl from Phoenix who doesn’t have a voice of her own,” she said irately.  “Maybe I was at one time, but a lot’s changed.  The sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be.”

He grinned and looked out at the pool.

“What is so funny?” she demanded. 

“Nothing.  I just can’t imagine anyone thinking you’re naïve.”  He unfolded the chair and sat in the center.  “You seem like an intelligent woman who knows what she wants.”

She rolled over onto her stomach.  “And of course you think it’s you that I want?”

He laid down and slid on a pair of sunglasses.  “I didn’t say that.” 

“Good,” she said, turning her head to avoid looking at him.  But as hard as she tried, she couldn’t keep from looking back at his body as he lay in the sun.

Stormy Blackthorne

After traveling around Acapulco all day, Stormy was hot and tired.  Alejandro had shown him several possible filming locations, all of which seemed perfect for House of Palms.   Just before sunset, his guide cautioned that they should head back to the hotel before dark.  Stormy agreed, anxious to see what progress Kyle had made in his own search.  He had major reservations about his involvement in the film and in Sunset Studios.  He knew nothing about the industry, and even though he’d been cleared of charges that sent him to prison, he still seemed untrustworthy.  He decided to be on guard through every step of the film’s production.

Twenty miles from the hotel, the jeep blew a tire on a road that intersected seemingly through the middle of nowhere.  The long, exhausting day seemed like it would never end.

While Alejandro changed the tire, Stormy scouted around the area, gazing out at a highway that ran parallel to the road they were traveling on.  He could see construction equipment parked next to it and the smell of tar was thick in the air. 

“What’s that over there?” he asked as Alejandro lifted the new tire onto the wheel. 

“A new highway construction,” he answered. 

“Where does it lead to?”

“The bay.”

Stormy raised an eyebrow, grabbing his pair of binoculars from the jeep and inspecting the progress on the new highway.  “So it’s not in use yet?”

“Not for a while,” Alejandro said. 

“I’m just thinking that’s the perfect solution to some of the scenes in the movie that require shutting down of roads for filming.  You said that was not usually something the government allows, so this could be the answer.  If the highway’s not in use yet-“

“Not a good idea, hombre,” Alejandro cut him off abruptly as he tightened the lug nuts.

“What do you mean?  They wouldn’t even have to shut the road down to-“

“Trust me.  You don’t want anything to do with that highway.  The word on the street is it’s being built for the cartels to transport their drugs to and from the shipping ports on the coast.”

“The government knows this?” Stormy asked incredulously.

“This area is overrun with the cartels.  The government depends on their business.  It’s a sad truth, my friend.”

Stormy looked around, suddenly faced with a difficult reality.  “Is it safe?  I mean, we’re going to be here for three months.  I don’t want to step on the toes of any locals, especially of the drug cartel variety.  I hear about the wars going on between them around here and it’s not pretty.”

“You should see it from our side,” Alejandro said as he finished the project.  “Okay, let’s go.  It’ll be dark soon and we have a ways to go.”

Stormy climbed into the jeep and settled back as they continued down the road.  He wondered if filming in Acapulco was the best idea he’d had.  He certainly didn’t want to give his father any reason to doubt him.  But then again, they were on a time schedule and James had stressed the importance of getting the film into production on time.  He decided there wouldn’t be time to explore other options.  Sure, they could go to safer parts of the country to film - areas without the drug problems the city faced - but the majority of the leg work was already done. 

Besides, as long as they kept to themselves during filming they wouldn’t have any problems.   And no problems meant that his father would be a very happy man.

Jeff Branigan

When Benji arrived back at Jeff’s apartment, he secured the loaded gun beneath the waistband of his jeans and hoisted the backpack of fake cocaine over his shoulder.  This was where the wished he would have taken after his mother’s talent for acting.  Without it he didn’t know if he could pull it off.  Still, he took a breath and decided to power through. 

“Rydell, twice in one day,” Jeff said when he opened the door of his apartment. 

Benji walked in, distracted by the blaring music and haze of marijuana smoke that filled the room.  On the sofa was a girl slouched against the dirty cushions, stoned out of her mind.  On the coffee table were a smoldering pipe and six-pack of empty beer cans. 

“Yeah, there’s a problem with the stuff you sold my buddy,” Benji said. 

“What kind of problem?” Jeff asked.  He was shirtless, slouchy jean shorts falling well below the waistband of his underwear.  “That junk was primo.”

“Yeah, well, it’s cut with enough baking powder to qualify it as an ingredient for your mom’s cookies,” Benji said and thrust the bag at him.

Jeff frowned, dropping the white substance on the coffee table and tearing it open with a pocketknife that he withdrew from beneath the sofa cushion.  He licked his finger and dipped it into the substance, giving it a quick taste test. 

“Holy shit,” Jeff said.  “It’s pure baking powder.  I can’t believe it.”

“You can imagine how embarrassed I was when he told me.  I mean, after I talked you up and said you had the best stuff out there.  Well, he’s pretty pissed.”

“I don’t know how this happened,” Jeff said.  “Tell your buddy I’ll give him his money back.  You better believe I’m going to talk to me suppliers and find out what the hell happened.”

“That’s all well and good, but like I said, he’s pretty pissed.  No one’s ever sold him this low quality stuff before.  He was taking it out on his punching bag when I left him.  As you can imagine, he’d mess somebody up pretty bad if they crossed him.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jeff agreed, going back to the hidden compartment in the ceiling and withdrawing the cash they’d provided him earlier that day.   He handed the bundles of money back to Benji and held up his hands in protest.  “Here’s the twenty-five grand back.  Tell your buddy I’ll get him the real thing.  I just need a few days to figure it out.”

Benji counted the money and stuffed it back into the bag.  He pulled out his cell and dialed a number.  Jeff waited while he conferred. 

“Yeah, it’s me,” he said into the phone.  “I got your money.  He said he’ll find you some real stuff in a day or two.”

Jeff nodded along, shifting his weight as he struggled to stay upright while taking a hit from his marijuana pipe.

“Yeah.  Okay.  Fine.  I’ll tell him.”   Benji lowered the phone and looked at him with a shrug.  “He said it’s gonna cost you.  He doesn’t want anymore blow.”

“So what’s he want?”

“Your bike.”

“My bike?” Jeff asked amidst a cloud of smoke.  “My Kawasaki?  No freakin’ way.”

Benjj raised the phone back to his ear.  “He said forget it.  Yeah.  Okay.”  He lowered the phone again.  “He said it’s the only way.  Give him your bike and he’ll forget the whole thing.”

“What if I don’t?” Jeff asked, panicked.

Benji chortled.  “Then I’d hate to be your face come this time tomorrow.” 

Jeff laughed and shook his head.  “No, he won’t touch me.  He got his money back.  Tell him that’s all he’s getting.  No way am I giving up that bike.  Do you know what I had to do to get that thing?  Forget it.”

Benji clicked off the phone and dropped it into his pocket.  “I’ll tell him,” he said and headed for the door.  “But he’s not gonna be happy.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Jeff said.  He dropped his hands to his sides and shook his head in frustration.  “Fine.  Tell your buddy I’ll give him the bike if he drops it.  Have him come by tomorrow.”

Benji shook his head.  “Now.  You follow me with the bike or no deal.  He doesn’t want you messing it up before he gets it.” 

Jeff kicked the edge of the sofa, startling the stoned girl into an upright position.  “Yeah, whatever.  Fine.  Let’s go.” 

Smiling, Benji waited until he got his things and followed him to the door.

Brett Armstrong

Brett drove white-knuckled all the way to Suzanne’s that evening.  If he didn’t have to pick Violet up he probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere near her for at least a few days.  Sometimes he didn’t even recognize himself and his actions seemed like those of a different person.  It was the same with so many of the women he’d seduced into bed.  The difference was he didn’t care about any of them outside of the sheets.  With Suzanne, he felt something for her and it frightened him.

He sat in the driveway for almost five minutes, rallying his nerve to face her after the humiliation in his office that day.  His actions hadn’t been particularly smooth or well thought out.  He simply knew he had to see her.  After she’d left, he’d thought of nothing else all day.

Finally, he forced himself to go inside.  He was early, so she probably wasn’t expecting him.  As he entered the house, he didn’t immediately find her or Violet.  After checking the backyard, he went to the stairs and called up to the second floor.

“Suzanne?

”No answer.

He slowly climbed the stairs, taking each step with incredible trepidation.  After a quick peek into the guestroom, he saw Violet quietly playing in her crib, the baby monitor hung over the edge. 

He called Suzanne’s name again as he walked into her bedroom.  The bathroom door was open and he could hear the sounds of the shower running.  The drapes were drawn and the room was dark with the exception of one ray of filtered afternoon sun pouring in. 

A trail of clothes were strewn across the thick rust-colored carpet.  Standing in the bathroom doorway, steam enveloping him all around, he saw the outline of Suzanne’s body through the shower curtain, her every curve accentuated with the heart-pounding tenseness of the moment.  She hummed quietly to herself, raising her hands to rinse the shampoo from her hair. 

Brett found himself growing increasingly aroused.  He struggled with his thoughts, telling himself he should turn around, grab Violet, and get out of there.  Another part of him told him that he should stay. 

When the shower turned off he made the only decision he could.

Benji Rydell

Benji steered his BMW along Lauren Canyon Road, glancing into the rearview mirror every few seconds to ensure Jeff was still behind him on the motorcycle.  He glanced at the seat next to him where the gun was resting inside the backpack.  He hoped that when they got to the rendezvous point it wouldn’t be necessary to use it.  The last thing he needed was another charge for being in possession of an illegal firearm. 

When they came to the turnout from the road, he pulled the car onto the gravel inlet and checked to make sure Jeff was following him.  Once he was stopped, he grabbed the gun, climbed out of the car, and stuffed it behind his jeans.

Steven was waiting next to the lookout.  He approached when Jeff jumped off the bike, inspecting it carefully from one end to the other. 

“Glad you came to your senses,” Steven said, taking the helmet and keys from him.  “I’m sure Benji will be happy to give you a ride back to the valley.”

“Not so fast,” Duke said as he emerged from Steven’s car.  He approached quickly, grinning at Jeff who stood by, dumbfounded. 

“What the fuck’s going on?” he asked.

“Let’s just say you’ve been shafted just like you shafted me when you took the bike from me,” Duke said, grabbing the keys from Steven.  “I told you I’d get her back one way or another.” 

Jeff shook his head with aggravation, looking up at Benji.  “You set me up, Rydell?  Dude, I thought we were tight.”

“What ever gave you that idea?"

“Leave Benji out of this,” Duke said. “This is me getting back what’s rightfully mine.  And I’m not talking about that whore Summer Solomon.  She can suck your cock all she wants, Branigan.  I just want my bike back.”

“It was you who put that video out, wasn’t it?” Jeff asked.  “I should have known.  You came back to town just when everything went down.  I’m impressed.  Not as impressed as she was, of course.  I mean, let’s face it, after you she wasn’t used to a guy with….girth.”

“You’re a douchebag,” Duke said. 

“A douchebag who your girlfriend went down on,” Jeff said with a grin.  “And no way are you getting my bike, Summerfield.  I won it fair and square.”

“The hell you did.”

Benji watched with irritation.  Why had Duke changed the plan at the last minute?  They were home free until he decided to show up and rub Jeff’s nose in it.  Now things were getting out of hand. 

“Yeah, well you’ve already screwed with me once, and I’m not letting you get away with it again."  Jeff went to get the keys from him.  "I’m taking my bike back home and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“Is that so?” Duke asked.  He laughed casually, then reached over and grabbed the gun from Benji’s waistband.

“Duke, what the-“ Benji began. 

“Not so cocky with a gun to your face?” Duke asked, pointing the gun directly at Jeff. 

“Duke, put it back,” Benji cautioned him.  It wasn’t that long ago that he was gunning for Sheldon Novak, which ended in him accidentally shooting Blake and getting himself on probation for two years.  Now Duke was in a similar situation and he was certain it wasn’t going to end well for anyone.  “Come on, man, let it go.”

“Yeah, let it go, Summerfield,” Jeff said, arrogance spilling over.

“Not until he admits he won that bike by cheating his ass off,” Duke said. 

“Think what you want,” Jeff said with a shrug. 

“I think I’m going to take it back and then get you and your taco-slinging brother thrown in jail for drug dealing, you donkey dick piece of shit.”

Jeff approached him steadfastly, unwavering even with a gun pointed at him.   “Take your best shot,” he said. 

Benji, recognizing the look in Duke’s eyes, realized he had to do something or the game would go too far.  He quickly raced toward him, hands outstretched in an attempt to grab the gun from him.   In one, swift movement, he managed to get the gun from him, succeeding in firing it into the sky as he did.  The shot echoed through the canyons just as a police car drove by. 

Eyes flashing open wide, Benji turned, intent on disposing of the gun before the police could identify who was holding it when it fired.  As he swiveled around, he bumped directly into the motorcycle and pushed it forward. 

All at once, the cops pulled into the turnout, the bike sailed toward the cliff, and Benji scrambled to throw the gun over the edge.

Time stood still for what seemed like eternity.  Benji closed his eyes, and when he opened them, he saw the bike crashing down the rocky cliff to the road below, bursting into flames.  The cop had approached him from behind and secured the gun from his grasp.  Struggling, he twisted this way and that as he was forced to the ground, face down with his arms pulled behind him and placed in handcuffs.  The second cop was standing above him, gun drawn directly at him.  

Yes, things had definitely taken a wrong turn.


Next time....

Kyle, Stormy and Brooke return from Mexico.  Jordan asks a favor of Stephanie.  Renee and Jackie continue their battle for oneupmanship.  David fills his mother in on his recent  trip.  

 

 

Read Episode 110

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