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Episode 110

 

Release Date:  March 26, 2010

 Read the episode Recap 

 

Previously...

Benji and Steven were dragged into Duke's plan to get his motorcycle back from Jeff Branigan.  When Jeff learned of the setup, he and Duke brawled over a gun.  Benji went to retrieve it and was arrested by the police.  Jackie arranged for Brooke to join Stormy and Kyle in Acapulco instead of having a very important meeting with a prospective director for House of Palms.  Using her arrival to his advantage, Kyle sent Stormy out on the location scout by himself so he could try to seduce her.  An agent from the Mexican Film Commission cautioned Stormy about dangers in the area involving drug cartels.  Jackie secretly continued buying stock in Merteuil Industries.  Renee worried that the remaining shareholders, Jack Fallmont and Marilee Wells, would be approached about selling their shares.  Miranda lashed out at Alex when she learned of her plan to adopt a baby from Malawi.  Brett invented an excuse to see Suzanne, who told him they couldn't give in to their desires.  Later, when he arrived to retrieve Violet, Brett found Suzanne in the shower.

 


 

Episode 110

"A Man of Good Will"

 

Still fuming over her fight with James, Jackie Blackthorne returned to Moonshadows where she planned on taking a hot bath and drowning herself in a bottle of champagne.  It would serve him right if she skipped her dinner with Eric Autumn.  If her actions were constantly going to be questioned, why should she bother helping?  She stepped off the elevator and proceeded to the door to her penthouse suite.  After inserting the key card into the slot, she sighed with exasperation when the door didn’t open. 

“What now?” she said breathlessly.  From her position in the hall, she could hear movement inside.  What sounded like major construction sent her into a tailspin and prompted her to knock firmly on the door.  Moments later, a man wearing a hard hat and a tool belt answered the door.

“Who are you?” Jackie demanded.  She stepped inside, her eyes flashing open wide at the sight of her suite in total disarray.  Half a dozen construction workers were flitting about, walls and carpets covered in plastic drop cloths.  “What the hell is going on here?  Who authorized all of this?”

“I did,” Renee DeWitt said as she emerged from the back room.  “I thought the place needed a facelift.” 

Jackie’s eyes narrowed on her as she took a step forward.  “You?” she asked in disbelief.  “Have you lost your mind?   I’m calling David.”

“Be my guest,” Renee said.  “But you may want to direct your complaints to the new owner.”

“New owner?” Jackie asked, swooping into her purse for her cell. 

“David sold Moonshadows to me.”

“David’s been out of town this week.  How did-“

“He got back a little while ago and we signed the papers,” Renee told her.  “You’re looking at the new owner, Jackie.  Aside from the portion he gave to Brooke, of course.”

A million thoughts raced through Jackie’s mind.  How could David have sold his pet project to Renee DeWitt?  He hadn’t discussed any of it with her. 

“Get these men out of here,” she ordered.  “I want everything put back the way it was immediately.  You can’t just come in here and-“

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” Renee asked boldly.  “You’ve been evicted.”  She gestured to a corner of the entry where a pile of suitcases were stacked up neatly.  “I’d like you to collect your things and get the hell out, all right?”

Turning red in the face, Jackie attempted to maintain her composure.  “Well, you certainly have made good on your promise,” she said, forcing a smile to show her enemy that she was unphased by her attack.

“I told you I wouldn’t stand for you going after James or Brooke.”

Jackie tucked her purse under her arm.  “Yes, I can see that now.” 

“Anyway, I thought I would move in here.  James has been a doll for letting me stay at the mansion since the earthquake, but it’s time I moved on.  Of course I couldn’t leave the place as is so I decided to do some remodeling.  Fumigating, too, naturally.”

“I can’t believe I actually considered offering mercy on you, Renee,” Jackie said.

“You can’t touch me,” Renee said with a scoff. 

“Oh, I already have.”  She turned back to the door.  She was prepared to fight tooth and nail.  It would now be her number one priority to take Merteuil from her and send her packing the same way she did to her.  No, mercy was not an option now.  “I’ll send for my things.”

“In an hour they’ll be floating in the pool,” Renee informed her. 

Jackie smiled and left the room.  In the hallway, she pulled her phone from her purse and called Bryan Carlson in New York. 

“Bryan, it’s Jackie.  We need to move quickly on this takeover.  Find out who owns the remaining shares in Merteuil.  I’ll play as nasty as I have to in order to take this bitch down.”

Brett Armstrong

Rays of sunlight cut through the dark shade of the room, illuminating a trail of clothes that led from the bathroom to the bed.  A rumpled shirt with a tie still tucked half beneath the collar, a pair of charcoal slacks, and two dark colored socks forming a squiggle across the carpet fashioned a path to their naked bodies. 

Brett made love to her with vigorous intensity, climaxing twice, positive that she did too.  When they finished, he remained hovered over her, dripping in sweat and kissing her delicately on the lips. 

“Was this a mistake?” Suzanne asked, still damp from her shower. 

“We both wanted each other.  How can that be a mistake?”  He looked in her eyes, still tripping with exhilaration over the fact that it had happened.   Deep down he knew it would, but feigning shock eased his conscience. 

“You were amazing,” Suzanne said, running her fingernails delicately across his back.  She compared their lovemaking with her fantasies.  It happened almost exactly the way she’d envisioned it, and it was every bit as erotic.  “It’s been forever since a man’s made me feel that way.”

“I’m glad to hear that.  I mean, I’m not glad that it’s been forever, but I’m glad that I was able to help.” 

Suzanne smiled.  “I know what you meant.”  She stretched languorously on the bed as Brett slid off and positioned himself beside her. 

“I want to see you again,” he told her, holding himself up on his elbow.

“We see each other every day,” Suzanne remarked. 

“I mean I want to make love to you again.” 

Suzanne traced her finger down his chest to his stomach.  She loved the ridges etched into his heavily worked out body and made an effort to explore each one with her hands.  “Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?  Who knows how we’ll feel tomorrow?”

“I do.  Our feelings aren’t going to change.  You know that as well as I do.”

He was right.  Her feelings weren’t going to change.  Despite her pangs of guilt and shame, she wanted him badly.  She would spend all day in bed with him if she could.

Encompassing his mouth around her breast, Brett grew aroused again.  He pulled her into a deep, passionate kiss and lifted himself on top of her. 

“What about Violet?” Suzanne asked with a grin.

“She’s fine.  She’s having a ball playing in her room.”

The phone rang before either of them could initiate another move.  Suzanne sighed and went to reach for it.

“Let it go,” Brett said, forcing her hand away. 

“It might be Benji,” Suzanne protested.  “What if he’s on his way home?”

Brett realized she was right.  The last thing they wanted was for him to walk in on them in bed together.   He traced his finger along her smooth skin as she answered the phone.  Her tone changed dramatically as the conversation progressed.  When she finally hung up, her mood had deflated and so had his. 

“That was Jordan,” she said.  “Benji’s been arrested.  I have to get down to the police station.”

Jordan Rydell

After he left Brett’s office at Rydell where he realized his suspicions about Suzanne’s flirtatious behavior were way off the mark, Jordan went to his yacht and spent the rest of the day drinking on the deck.  Stephanie arrived under the pretense that she was there investigating several cases of vandalism.  It didn’t take him long to realize she was there for him.  No matter what she said or how many times she said it, she had a thing for him.  She wound up being off duty and after fifteen minutes of him trying to convince her, she decided to stay and join him. 

They talked briefly about Kyle and the revelations about his innocence, spent ten minutes talking about his past relationships, and hers, and then she informed him that she had him all figured out.  This pissed him off beyond belief.

“You’re lonely,” she said simply.

“I am not lonely.”

“Yes you are.  Why else would you have taken Mackenzie Stone to the premiere?”

“She’s attractive.”

“You couldn’t have gone alone?” she asked.

“I could have.”

“You could not.  You don’t do anything unless it’s with a beautiful woman on your arm.”

“Well, you went with David Jennings.  What was that?”  He’d felt childish saying it, but he didn’t care.

“David and I are old friends.  We’ve known each other for years.  We’re there for each other when it counts.”

“I’ll bet,” Jordan said with a scoff.

“See?  Just the fact that you would say that speaks volumes.  You’re so threatened by other men and by women who won’t bow to your money and good looks.”

“I am not threatened by anyone,” he told her. 

The bickering continued back and forth and wound up where both of they knew it would, in a frenzied kiss that they’d both wanted desperately for months.  After a brief moment of gauging one another’s reactions, they moved inside the cabin to the sofa. 

Jordan felt like he was back in high school, her with her blouse off and him on top of her in a heated make-out session.  It went on for half an hour, progressing until he was so aroused that he began to remove the rest of her clothes.  After a moment of hesitation, she stopped him and sat up. 

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“It’s complicated,” she said, then collected her things and left. 

Alone and horny, Jordan remained on the boat until that evening when he got the call from the police station that Benji had been arrested.  In a flash, he was headed downtown to the police station. 

“Possession of an illegal firearm,” the deputy told him. 

Jordan ran his fingers through his hair and exhaled deeply.  He looked through the glass window of the interrogation room where Benji sat defiantly.  He wondered how this could be happening again. 

Stephanie entered the station through the front doors.  They looked at each other for a long time, each flashing back to the heated moment on his yacht earlier that day.  He thought it was typical of her to leave and go to work even on her day off.  She seemed to be all work and no fun. 

She walked to the back offices without saying a word to him. 

Kyle Fenwick

Sucker-punched in the jaw, Kyle went sailing back against the sofa, nearly toppling it backwards under his weight.  They were in the lobby of the Continental Hotel in Acapulco and guests passing by stopped to watch the spectacle. 

“What the hell was that for?” Kyle demanded, wincing from the blow to his jaw.

“For setting it up so you could hang back here with Brooke while I went out and did the dirty work,” Stormy told him, shaking his hand and trying to ignore the pain that seared up to his wrist.  “You had no intention of going out scouting locations.”

“You didn’t even want me along anyway, so what’s your problem?” Kyle asked, rushing toward him and puffing out his chest. 

“Stop it, both of you!” Brooke ordered, stepping between their childish antics. 

“Oh, come on, Brooke, you’re not going to defend him, are you?  He admitted lying to you so he could be alone with you.”

“I knew that before he even opened his mouth,” Brooke said, holding her hands between them in a meager effort to diffuse anymore violence.  “I know how to handle myself.  Besides, it was Jackie who sent me down here under false pretenses.  Kyle just did his best to take advantage of that.”

Stormy shook his head in aggravation.  “You’re not exactly starting off on the right foot here,” he said to Kyle.  “This movie is serious business.  We have a lot riding on it.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t take orders from you,” Kyle said defensively.  “If it wasn’t for me this movie wouldn’t even be made.”

“You had very little to do with it.  Just because your father, who you didn’t even know, wrote the screenplay doesn’t mean jack.  I’m in charge of this production and you’ll do what I’ll tell you to.” 

“Is he for real?” Kyle asked Brooke with an incredulous frown.

She shook her head dismissively.  “Look, if we’re going to get along for the production of this movie then we need to find a way to work together.  That means no resorting to punching people in the face and no manipulating people to get your way.” 

They grew silent and looked away as Brooke glared heatedly. 

“Stormy, how did the location scouting go?” she asked, hoping to get them to move on to another subject. 

“It went fine,” he replied, still furious with Kyle.  “Alejandro with the film commission has all of our locations scheduled.  We’ll start filming in two weeks.” 

“Any problems we should be aware of?” Brooke inquired.  “Seems like every time I turn on the news there’s another random murder here.”

Stormy thought about Alejandro’s warning about the drug cartels.  Of course he didn’t go as far as to caution him against filming there at all because the city needed the money the production costs would generate for them.  But his words were carefully chosen.   Still, they didn’t have time to look for another location. 

“Nothing to worry about,” he said. 

Jackie Lamont

Jackie followed the bellman through the lobby at Moonshadows and instructed them to place her luggage in the town car that waited outside under the porte-cochere.  She’d taken a room temporarily at the Yacht Club until she could decide where she wanted to set up permanently.  She couldn’t understand how David could do this to her.  Selling Moonshadows to Renee DeWitt?  It was unthinkable.  Royce had dreamed of the day when the resort would be completed, but was killed long before that happened.  Then David made it his mission to finish the project himself, adding it to his vast portfolio of hotels and resorts.  So why this hotel?  Why to Renee? 

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to question her son when she saw him arrive and make his way to the lounge.  Instructing the bellman to wait for her at the car, she quickly made her way toward him.  She stopped, however, when she saw him join James at a table in the corner. 

She wondered what they were meeting about, so she decided to find out as much as she could prior to confronting her son.  David wasn’t exactly forthcoming with information lately.  Quietly, she sidled up along the pillar that partitioned the lounge from the rest of the lobby.  She was able to hear almost perfectly. 

“Where have you been?” James asked him.

“I had to check on a hotel up in San Francisco,” David replied briskly, then changed the subject as fast as he could.  “Listen, I wanted to talk to you about Kyle Fenwick.  Is it true that you’ve opened the door for him to Sunset Studios?”

“I wouldn’t say that exactly.  He wanted to work on the film so I said yes.  The way I look at it we’re benefiting from his being there.  And his proceeds from the film won’t be that much.  The usual writer’s cut.” 

“You know why he’s doing this, don’t you?” David asked.  “He just wants an excuse to get close to Brooke.  I can’t believe you’re handing her over to him.”

“Handing her over?” James asked with a laugh.  “David, Brooke is her own woman.  I’m not handing her over to anyone.  If she decides she wants Kyle Fenwick, there’s nothing I can do to stop her.  You don’t still have a grudge against him, do you?”

“He may not have blew up that hotel in New York but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s pulled a lot of underhanded tricks since he’s been in town, almost all of them having to do with sticking it to me and using Brooke as a weapon.”

James ordered them two drinks, still unaware of Jackie’s presence just on the other side of the wall. 

“You still think he’s out to get you?” he asked.  “I thought his whole revenge plot against you was because he thought you set him up and got him sent to prison.  Now that he knows differently what reason does he have?”

“If he’s not after me, then why is he still pursuing Brooke?”

James shrugged.  “Maybe he has genuine feelings for her.” 

David shook his head.  “I just don’t think there’s anything genuine about Kyle Fenwick.  He has no ties here, so why stay?”

The waitress brought their drinks and after she left, James leaned across the table.  “Actually, he does have ties here.”

“What?  Michael?  He’s his half-uncle.  That’s not exactly major.”

James shook his head.  “No, I’m talking about his mother.  His biological mother.”

David’s forehead creased.  “Who?”

“She doesn’t want anyone knowing.  Kyle doesn’t even know.”

“Just tell me,” David insisted.  “I promise I’ll take it to my grave.”

James knew he could trust David, and as a result the secret would remain just that.  He was a man of his word, after all.  Marilee Wells,” he finally told him.

David was floored.  He ran a hand over his face and leaned back in his chair.  Just outside the lounge, Jackie listened intently.

“That doesn’t even make any sense,” David said.  “Marilee and Will Thomerson?”

James waved a hand dismissively through the air.  “It’s a long story.   The short version is that Marilee was an actress on Broadway for about five minutes, Thomerson got her pregnant, turned his back on her, and she gave Kyle up for adoption.  Essentially he did to her what he did to my sister, Georgie.”

David nursed his drink, and after several moments looked up at James.   “Now I know why you’ve been giving Kyle such a break.”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s Ethan,” David theorized.  “I mean, Will Thomerson turned his back on Marilee and Kyle the same way he did your sister and Ethan.  This is your chance to make up for what happened to him.”

James lowered his head and shrugged indifferently.  “Maybe.  I don’t know.  But can you blame me?  The man ran around impregnating women and leaving them alone and destitute.  I was able to raise Ethan, but Kyle…”

“Kyle did just fine without you or Will Thomerson.  He was raised by a family with multi-billion dollar interests in the shipping industry.  I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.”

James realized David had a point. Still, he couldn’t help but compare the young man to Ethan.  Maybe it was a mistake, but he felt an obligation to help him.

Outside the bar, Jackie had disappeared, racing to the doors in anticipation of her next move.  She’d have to rush through her dinner with Eric Autumn because there was a lot to do.

Benji Rydell

Benji sat silently, belligerently tapping his fingers on the underside of the table in the visitor’s room at the police station.  Jordan had called his attorney, who was out of town until morning, leaving him to face the possibility that his son could spend the night in jail unless he could think of something fast. 

“You still haven’t told me what you were doing with a gun,” he said, pacing the room and rubbing his face in his hands.

“Nobody got hurt, did they?” Benji asked.  “We were just messing around.  Can’t you flash some cash at the D.A. like you always do so we can go home?”

Snapping his head toward him, Jordan raced across the room and slammed his hands on the table.  “Do you think this is a joke?” he screamed at the top of his lungs.  “Is this just a game to you, Benji?  Do you not realize what could happen if you’re found guilty of possession of a gun again?”

Benji folded his arms, ignoring the steely cold look in his father’s eyes.  He knew getting involved with Duke’s scheme wasn’t the smartest move he’d made, but he didn’t need one of Jordan’s patronizing lectures.  He wasn’t a kid anymore and he hated being treated like one. 

“You’re a month away from finishing your probation from the last time you decided to go wielding a gun around town,” Jordan continued, glaring heatedly into his eyes.  “Why in hell would you risk blowing that?”

Again, Benji looked away and rolled his eyes. 

Fed up, Jordan reached forward and pinched his son’s face between his fingers, squeezing so hard that he could see his eyes stinging with tears.  “Listen to me!  This is your future you’re playing with!  Up until now I’ve been pretty lenient with you and let you run wild all you wanted with no responsibilities, but that stops right now!”

“You sent me to live with mom,” Benji snapped, pulling away from his grasp.  His father had never touched him like that before, and it rattled him.  He could see the anger building on his face.  “You didn’t want to deal with me anymore so you pawned me off on her.  This doesn’t have anything to do with you.”

“Can you blame me?” Jordan asked.  “Look at everything you did up until that point.  Shooting Blake, telling Alex that I abused you, beating the hell out of Scott Kelly and trying to get me blamed for it.  I didn’t know what else I could do to get through to you.  I thought maybe your mother would be a better influence, but apparently that’s not that case.”

“She barely knows I’m around,” Benji said.  “It’s always about Brett and Violet.”

Jordan folded his arms, aggravated that Suzanne hadn’t held up her end of the deal.  She was supposed to shape him up.  So much for her big pronouncement that she wasn’t going to let him get away with anymore of his destructive behavior. 

“All right, Benji,” he said after taking a deep breath.  “What were you doing with the gun and how were Duke and those other guys involved?  Just what the hell’s going on?  I thought Duke was a good influence on you.  Boy, was I wrong.”

“It wasn’t Duke.  He had nothing to do with it.”   The lie came without pause, but was necessary.

Duke Summerfield

. . . . . . . . Two Hours Earlier . . . . . . . .

“Are you going to pipe down or do I have to come in there and separate you?” the guard asked as he watched the four young men battle it out in the holding cell.  “One more outburst and I’m coming in there.”

After he’d left the area, Jeff Branigan plopped down onto a cement bench and folded his arms tightly across his chest.  “You are so dead, Summerfield,” he murmured.  “When we get out of here there’s going to be a target on your ass that every dealer in the freakin’ city is going to be aiming for.” 

“Sorry, I don’t go that way,” Duke replied with a smug grin.

“You stole a kilo of coke from me,” Jeff continued.  “You honestly think I’m not going to kill you for that?”

Duke laughed from his position on the top bunk.  “Get serious, Branigan.  You think you’re tough, but you’re a pussy.  Besides, I’m the one who lost here.  My bike is in a pile of ashes at the bottom of Laurel Canyon because of you.”

“It was my bike, fuck face,” Jeff said, standing up and preparing to lunge at him again.  He stopped, glanced out to where the guard had been standing, and managed to restrain himself.  “I won it fair and square and you tricked me to get it back.  I mean, what is this shit?  You pull Rydell and this guy into your little plan because you’re a sore loser?”

Benji and Steven, knelt on the floor by the bunks, tried to stay out of it.  They looked at each other briefly, intent on letting the two of them hash it out.

“Your bike had illegal mods,” Duke pointed out.  “That’s the only way you won that race last summer.  There was nothing fair and square about that race.  The way I see it, the bike was mine all along.”

“Bullshit,” Jeff said, sweating profusely in his wife beater.

The guard appeared again and pointed at Jeff and Steven.  “Branigan, Chandler, your lawyers are here,” he said, unlocking the cell.  “Let’s go.” 

Jeff, still glaring at Duke, followed Steven out of the cell.  While the guard locked the doors again, he looked back momentarily.  “Watch your back, Summerfield.”

After they’d gone, Duke looked at Benji who had been uncharacteristically quiet for the duration of their brief stay in jail.  

“Look, Benji, I’m sorry,” he said, getting up off the bunk.  “This whole thing got out of hand.  I don’t know how everything went so haywire, but-“

Gritting his teeth, Benji jumped to his feet and delivered a swift blow to his nose with a closed fist.  As Duke staggered backwards, hands instinctively going to his face, Benji turned and cursed angrily to himself. 

“What the hell?” Duke yelled.  “What was that for?”

“You’re such an idiot, Duke,” Benji said, rushing up and grabbing him by the shirt collar.  He pushed him against the cold cement wall and glared menacingly at him.  “The plan went haywire because you got gun-happy and started threatening to blow a hole through Branigan’s face!  We were in the clear.  We had the bike back and everything would have been perfect until you decided to show off.” 

“Benji, I-“

“But I guess that was the plan all along, wasn’t it?” Benji continued without giving him an opportunity to speak.  “This wasn’t about a freakin’ dirt bike, was it?  It was about you wanting to get revenge against Jeff Branigan for screwing around with your girlfriend.  You know, I’d forgotten how insecure you could be.  I knew how upset you used to get when you thought someone was better than you.  Better looking, a better athlete, more money, more influence.  I’ve just never seen you take it this far.”

“And how is any of that any different from your reasons for helping me?” Duke asked, taking Benji’s hands from his shirt and pushing him away.  He moved away from the wall, circling Benji like a cat.  “The video we planted on Cassidy Solomon’s website, fucking that chic from the coffee shop so we could get to her computer, and everything you did today to get my bike back.  Did you do all that for me out of consideration to our budding friendship?  Hell no.  You did it because you want Sierra back and I’m the only one who can help you do it.” 

“I don’t need your help,” Benji insisted.  “I’ll find another way to deal with Hunt Roberts myself.” 

“What are you going to do?” Duke asked, choosing his words carefully.  “If you expose Roberts for the coke-fiend he is, Sierra’s going to know that you were involved and do you think she’s going to come running back to you once she realizes that?”

“I told you, I’ll find a way to do it.” 

“You need my help,” Duke said.  “And I want to help you.  But I can’t if I’m back in Switzerland.  If words gets out that I’ve been arrested for being involved in something like this, it’s going to be all over the news.    All anyone will be able to talk about is how the Ambassador’s son was arrested.  If by some miracle I don’t get prison time, my father will make sure my life is ten times worse than prison.  He’ll make me move back and my hands will be tied.  Then you will have to handle Hunt Roberts on your own.”

Benji listened carefully, although he already knew what Duke was asking him.  “So you want me to lie?” he asked.  “You want me to tell them the gun was my idea?”

“You’ll come up with something,” Duke said.  “And your family is much more resilient with this kind of thing.  Your father’s a Hollywood producer.  No offense, but it’s expected that you act out a little. With me, though, it’s like the end of my life until I turn twenty-one and get the rest of my trust fund.”

“Why should I help you?” Benji asked.  “It’s been weeks and I still don’t know what you’re planning to do to get Sierra away from this guy.  Time is running out.  They could be getting serious.”

“I think it’s time that we stepped up our efforts, you’re right,” Duke said.  “We need to level the playing field.  Bring them here so we can deal with them on our own turf.  Plus, with Jeff Branigan right here in the same city, it could prove to be worthwhile in the grand scheme of things.  How better to expose Hunt Roberts as a coke-sniffing whore?”

“How do we get them here?” Benji asked, suddenly realizing he did need Duke.

“Leave that to me,” Duke said with a self-assured grin.

Stephanie Callahan

After visiting with Benji, Jordan returned to the waiting room where he found Stephanie pumping quarters into a coffee machine.  He approached, watching as she waited for the Styrofoam cup to fill with the hot black liquid. 

“Look, about earlier-“ he began.

She held up a hand.  “I’m sorry, Jordan.  I don’t want you think I’m a tease.  I’m honestly not.  I’m just very confused.  It’s so hard for me to open up to a man.  After what happened with Kyle Fenwick, I don’t see how I’ll ever be able to again.”

“But we click,” he told her.  “You felt that every bit as much as I did.  Admit it.”

“You’re a very attractive man and very difficult to say no to.”

“You certainly make it look easy enough,” he said with a wry expression.

“It’s not,” she insisted.  “I like you and I would like nothing more than to be with you in that way. I just…”

“You can’t, I know.”   He turned and began to walk away when she stopped him, glancing around to ensure no one else was watching.

“Look, about your son,” she began.  “I checked his file and I know he’s coming up on the end of his probation.”

“Gee, it looks like that’s not gonna happen now, does it?” Jordan asked, his voice laced with heavy sarcasm. 

Stephanie looked around again, stepping closer so that they were inches from one another.  “I’ll talk to the arresting officers,” she began, speaking in a soft, quiet voice.  “The gun wasn’t registered to anyone.  There’s no reason to believe Benji didn’t just find it laying on the ground somewhere.  At the very least he’d get a ticket for disorderly conduct.”

Jordan regarded her carefully, looking her in the eyes as if trying to find something inside of them.   “Why would you do that for him?  A few months ago you were trying to convict him for assault.”

“I wouldn’t be doing it for him,” Stephanie replied.  “I’d do it for you.”

Jordan couldn’t believe what she was saying.  She was constantly a source of surprise to him. 

“Like I said,” she continued.  “I like you, Jordan.  Very much.  I just don’t know what all I can give you at this point.” 

She left with her coffee, its aroma hanging in the air as Jordan tried to figure her out.  Something told him he never would.  Moments later, Suzanne arrived, followed by Brett who was carrying Violet. 

“Jordan, what happened?” Suzanne asked breathlessly as she approached.

“What happened?” he asked crossly, his eyes flickering past Brett and deciding Benji was right about one thing.  Suzanne was too preoccupied to pay attention to him.  “Your son was arrested again for toting a gun all over the greater Los Angeles area.” 

Suzanne closed her eyes and breathed a sigh of frustration.  “What was he thinking?” she asked. 

“I’d like to ask you the same thing,” Jordan replied.

“What do you mean?”

“Just what the hell were you doing while all of this was going down?” Jordan demanded heatedly.  “Do you even have the vaguest idea of what Benji did all day today?  Where he went or who he was with?”

“I thought he was with Blake or Duke, I-“

“I thought the whole idea of him moving in with you was so that you could keep an eye on him?  I seem to remember a very well-played outburst of yours a few months ago where you told him that you weren’t going to let him keep acting out this way.  I was really impressed by that woman.  Now I’m just thinking it was all a bunch of talk.”

“It was not,” Suzanne said, looking at him and then at Brett.  “I can’t know where he is and what he’s doing every minute of the day, Jordan.  He’s nineteen years old.  He’s a young man.”

“A young man who needs some guidance from his mother and father.  He doesn’t live with me anymore.  You’re supposed to be in charge, yet he says you barely know he’s there because you’re too involved with Brett and Violet.”

“Jordan, that’s not necessarily true,” Brett chimed in.  “I-“

“Shut up, Brett.  This doesn’t concern you.  This is between me, Suzanne and Benji.”

Brett bit his lip, slightly pissed at Jordan’s outburst, but also realizing that he had a point.  When it came to Benji, he had no say in anything. 

“You don’t have to talk to him that way,” Suzanne said defensively.  “Brett isn’t the problem here.”

“No?” Jordan asked.  “Well, he sure as hell is around a lot.”

“I’m doing him a favor by watching Violet when he’s at work running your studio while you're off getting drunk all day!”  She wondered if he was suspicious or knew that they’d slept together.  No, it was impossible.  It just happened and shrewd as Jordan was, he wasn’t that intuitive. 

“And what about tonight?” Jordan asked.  “Brett’s over for a dip in the pool while Benji is out getting frisked on the side of the road and thrown in jail?  I really have to start wondering about your priorities, Suzanne.  Maybe all that time away has done something to do you motherly instincts.  One thing’s for sure, they certainly haven’t dwindled your womanly instincts.”

The remark earned Jordan a clean slap across the face.  Suzanne panted, breathing heavily as she glared into his eyes.  “How dare you attack my ability as a mother,” she said.  “You know damn well I love my children more than anything in the world.” 

Jordan realized he’d been out of line.  Holding up a hand, he tried to diffuse the tense situation.  “You’re right, I’m sorry.”

“You should be,” she hissed.  “I don’t see how you can stand there and tell me that I haven’t done my part in keeping Benji out of trouble.  You are so sanctimonious, Jordan.  Do I have to remind you that it was on your watch that he got into all those other messes?”

“No,” he replied simply and with the desire to move past the argument. 

“Then don’t you dare tell me I’ve failed as a mother because that’s one thing I will not stand for.”  With that, she turned and raced out the door. 

Brett suddenly knew what had instilled such a reaction in her.  The truth was Suzanne did doubt her abilities as a mother - but not because of Benji’s latest stunt – because of the fact that they made love tonight and he was married to Heather. 

“I’m sorry, Brett,” Jordan said after he’d had an opportunity to calm down.  “I didn’t mean to blow up at you.  Or at Suzanne.  I’m just so pissed at that damn kid.  What do I have to do to get through to him?”

“Is he really looking at jail time?” Brett asked, bouncing Violet who began to fuss in his arms. 

Jordan scratched the back of his neck and shook his head.  “It doesn’t look like it,” he said.  “Stephanie’s going to try to get the whole thing dropped.  But I don’t know that I want her to.  How is he going to learn from his mistakes if he keeps getting off so easily?   If you want to talk about bad parenting, I guess I should look in the mirror.  I haven’t exactly instilled values in my children.” 

“But if you let him go to jail do you think you could live with yourself?” Brett asked. 

Jordan considered his question, knowing the answer was no. 

Acapulco

The thermostat registered seventy-five degrees, but it felt more like a hundred to Brooke as she tossed and turned on her bed at the Hotel Continental.  Tiny shorts and a tank-top clung to her damp skin, the ends of her hair wet and matted.  She looked at the clock.  Quarter past one.  She twisted off of the bed and went to the balcony that overlooked the bay.   Sliding the door open, she felt some relief from the breeze that blew in from the water.  She stepped outside and stretched her arms up over her head.

“Couldn’t sleep?” asked a deep voice in the distance. 

Startled, she placed a hand on her heaving chest and turned to the balcony beside hers.  “You scared me,” she said with a slight laugh.  “No, I don’t know if it’s the heat or the fact that my mind is racing with everything we have to do when we get back home tomorrow.”

“You don’t relax, do you?” Kyle asked, admiring the way her firm, tanned skin radiated in the moonlight.  Her choice of sleepwear left little to the imagination; round breasts filling her barely-there top in just the right places; long legs smooth and silky and painstakingly toned.

“I’ll relax when I get home to my son and ring Jackie’s neck for sending me down here under false pretenses.”

Kyle, clad in loose-fitting shorts, ran a hand down his bare chest and gave her a look of disapproval.  “You act like spending the day with me was the worst experience of your life.  You have to admit, it wasn’t that bad.”

“No, but it was a waste of time,” she said, pushing her hair up off her neck.  “I hate wasting time.  It’s the worst thing ever.”

“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” Kyle asked her.  He lifted himself up over the balcony railing and jumped onto hers.

Startled, Brooke backed up a step.  “What do you mean?”

“Aren’t we wasting time by playing this game with each other?” he asked, looking down at her with penetrating green eyes.  She looked beautiful.  Unencumbered with makeup and perfectly coiffed hair.  Simple and down to earth.  The scent of her coconut-mango lotion wafted up to his nostrils and intoxicated him.   “We know we both want each other so why are we pretending like we don’t?”

Brooke was entranced by the close proximity of his body to hers.  The perfect ridges in his arms and chest made her hot instantly.  The truth was, she did want to grab him and pick up where they left off a couple of weeks ago when he kissed her at the club just before the fire.  She wanted to explore his mouth with hers.  She wanted to feel every masculine curve of his body. 

Before she knew it, he was kissing her on the lips, wrapping his arms up around her and pressing himself against her.  She decided it was time to stop fighting her attraction.  Her curiosity had gotten the better of her.  She ran her fingers through his closely-cropped hair, pulling him into the bedroom and collapsing onto the bed.  Kyle gazed down at her, eagerly lowering himself onto her and covering her body with his.  In a flash, he had stripped off her tank top and shorts, gazing in wonderment at her perfect body.  She closed her eyes in ecstasy as he circled her nipples with his tongue.  She could feel through his shorts how aroused he was and it caused her to gasp with anticipation.

Perfectly willing to call and end to their game, as Kyle had put it, she peeled off his shorts and guided him on top of her.  When they connected she let out a deep, relieved sigh.  They made love urgently, collapsing into each other’s arms when they’d finished.

Alex Reynolds

“What are you doing here?” Alex demanded the next morning when she opened the door to her apartment and was met with James standing in the hall.  “I think we’ve said all we have to say to one another.”

“Normally I’d agree with you,” he replied, marching into the living room.  “But I just had breakfast with Miranda and she filled me in on your conversation yesterday.  Are you really going to use your relationship with her and Stormy to justify this ridiculous idea you have of adopting a baby?”

“It’s not ridiculous,” she said, walking to the bar and pouring a splash of pomegranate juice into a measuring cup.  She was dressed in a two-toned pink leotard, a towel slung over her shoulders.   “But I wouldn’t expect you to think any differently.  Actually, I thought you of all people would understand.  You’ve always said I single-handedly ruined our children’s lives.”

“I have never said that,” James said with irritation.  “I said your priorities were off.  Either way, I don’t see how bringing another child into it is going to rectify any mistakes you may or may not have made.”

“That’s because you’re a pompous ass.”  She began throwing things into a blender. 

James rolled his eyes.  She seemed different than the last time he saw her.  More self-assured and a great deal more lucid than he’d seen her in a long time.  Maybe she was serious when she said she was through with the pills. 

“I hope you’re not trying to replace Stormy and Miranda with this new baby!” he shouted over the grinding noise from the blender. 

“What?” she screamed as the blades cut through large chunks of ice. 

“I said I hope you’re not trying to replace your children!” he repeated, louder this time. 

I can’t hear you,” she mouthed over the grinding action

Frustrated, James approached and pulled the plug on the blender.  “What the hell are you making, anyway?  Isn’t it a little early for a daiquiri?”

“It’s a health drink,” she said, pouring the green liquid into a glass and taking a big gulp.  “I’m detoxifying.  You should try it.  You’re looking a little jaundice.” 

“Pass,” he said, grimacing at the pea green color of the thick, frothy shake.  “You know, you can throw all the magic herbs into a blender that you want and it’s not going to turn your life around.  You need to deal with your problems.  That includes your relationship with your children, facing the fact that your career is a disaster, and trying to get some closure on this Kyle thing.”

This Kyle thing was a mistake,” she maintained, walking to the balcony and taking a deep breath of fresh air.  “I was using him as a crutch.  Not anymore.  Alex Reynolds is finally an independent woman again.”

“What about this baby?” James asked, picking up the folder with the information on the infant from Malawi.  “Isn’t this just another crutch?”

“My God, you are as transparent as a sheet of plastic,” Alex said when she turned back to him.  “You know what I think, James?  I think you’re jealous because I’m pulling my life together and yours is a mitigated disaster.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, you haven’t had a meaningful relationship since Leigh Purcell, you still carry around an obvious torch for that airhead Brooke Taylor, and you devote your entire life to work.  Meanwhile, I’m learning to be comfortable being alone.  I’ve quit smoking and drinking and I’ve taken on a brand new attitude.  Getting fired from that dead-end soap was the best thing that could have happened to me.”

James shook his head in dismay.  On the surface she seemed to be pulling herself together, but deep down her knew she was still spiraling out of control and grasping for any branch to cling to.   It was sad, really. 

“Goodbye, Alex,” he said and made his way to the door.  As he pulled it open, a hulking man with blond hair wearing a tight-fitted tank top and short, short shorts was about to knock.  “Can I help you?”

“My trainer,” Alex said and raced toward him.  “I’m ready, Doug.  My ex-husband was just leaving.” 

James cast her a final look of pity before he turned and left the apartment.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda took Michael to the children’s playground at Moonshadows after meeting James for breakfast.  Walking through the grassy park that overlooked the beach, she spotted Renee coming down the path.   After flagging her down, they settled onto a bench, carefully watching as Michael ran circles around the swing sets, laughing and screaming and falling once or twice.

“I’m going to miss you at the house,” Miranda said to her after being filled in on the previous day’s developments.

“I’ll miss you too,” Renee indicated, smiling fondly as she watched Michael.  “The mansion has been home to me for months.  But I think it’s time to move on.  I think this place is really going to be good for me.”

“I’m surprised you pulled it off,” Miranda said.  “I thought Merteuil was in trouble.  But if you can afford to buy a resort the size of Moonshadows then you must be doing okay.”

“Money’s not the issue.  It’s the piranha who’s buying up stock in my company.  I’d sink all the money I had into saving it but it won’t do any good.  I’ve bought all the stock I can get my hands on.”

“Well that’s good, right?” Miranda asked.  “I mean, as long as there’s no more stock to purchase then this other company won’t be able to get their hands on it.” 

“Unless they convince the shareholders to sell.  As a matter of fact, I have a meeting with Marilee Wells this morning to ensure she doesn’t do just that.  If JL3 Enterprises got hold of her shares, I’d lose control of the company.”

“I’m sure it won’t come to that,” Miranda said and smiled as Michael came barreling toward her.  “Marilee has been in the fold for years.  She knows how important that company is to you.”

“Miranda, can we go ride horses now?” Michael yelped, lifting himself onto her lap.

“I suppose so,” she replied and ruffled his hair.  “Are you done playing?”

“Yeah, Adam left.  He said he didn’t want to play anymore.” 

“Who’s Adam?” asked Miranda. 

“My friend.”

Miranda and Renee exchanged looks of amusement, then looked out at the deserted playground. 

“Oh, your friend,” Miranda said, trying not to laugh at his overactive imagination.  “Well, if he doesn’t want to play with us then we don’t want to play with him, right?”

“Right!” Michael yelled cheerfully, jumping down off her lap and doing a summersault in the grass. 

Jackie Lamont

Jackie stepped out onto the terrace of the open-air restaurant at Moonshadows and checked with the hostess who pointed out her target seated alone at a table by the railing. 

Smiling, she made her way through the maze of tables, eyes transfixed on Marilee Wells who enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee while gazing out at the ocean.

“Hello Marilee,” she said with a pleasant smile. 

“Jackie, good morning.  I love your dress.”

“Thank you. I love yours too.”  She gestured to the empty seat across from her.  “May I?”

The request came from out of nowhere.  She didn’t know the woman very well and thought it was more than strange that she would ask.  “Oh, well I’m meeting Renee DeWitt in a few minutes, so I-“

“I know,” Jackie said and sat down anyway.  “I called your office and they told me where I could find you.  I promise this won’t take long.”

“You called my office?” Marilee asked with a frown.  “Why?”

“Nothing for me,” Jackie said when the waiter approached.  After he’d gone, she looked back at Marilee.  “I’m going to make things very easy for you.  A chance to make a fortune on your stock portfolio.  Maybe even recoup some of that money your late husband swindled from you before he…expired.”

“I’m always looking for ways to make money,” Marilee said with an exuberant smile and a knowing wink.  “What do you have in mind?”

“Sell me your hundred thousand shares in Merteuil Industries.” 

“Merteuil?” Marilee asked with a laugh.  “I couldn’t.  I’ve been a shareholder in that company for years.”

“I’ll give you above market price.  You’d be insane not to take me up on it.”

Marilee’s eyes narrowed on her.   “I heard someone was attempting a takeover of the company.  It’s all over the financial sector.  Now you’re coming to me asking for my shares.  What’s going on?”

“Suffice it to say I have my reasons,” Jackie purred, drumming her nails on the table, a wicked smile spread across her face. 

Marilee shook her head.  “No, I’m sorry.  Whatever you have planned, I don’t want to get involved.  Renee has been a close, personal friend for a long time.  I wouldn’t do that to her.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Jackie said with a dramatic sigh.  “You’re really leaving me with no choice.”  Another sigh, this one more dramatic than the last.  “Why do people put me in the position of being a bad guy?”

“What are you-“

“If you don’t sell me your shares, I’ll be forced to go to Kyle Fenwick and tell him that you’re his biological mother.”  She thought the words would be difficult to say, that she’d develop a pang of conscience before she could get them out.  But surprisingly, they tripped flowingly off of her tongue. 

The color drained from Marilee’s face.  “How did you-“

“I found out sheerly by accident.  Believe me, no one betrayed your confidence.  But I can’t promise that I’ll offer the same sense of loyalty.  I will tell Kyle that you abandoned him as a child.” 

Tears welled up in her eyes and she looked around to ensure no one could hear their private conversation.  She felt as though her entire life was crashing down around her.  If Kyle found out the truth he would never understand.  He would be beyond hurt.

“I didn’t abandon him,” she whispered softly, her eyes pleading.  “Will Thomerson turned his back on me.  He left me alone.  I was unable to care for a child.  I-“  Her sentence was cut short by the thickness in her throat and the tears that streamed down her cheeks. 

“Yes, and I’m sure he’ll understand completely,” Jackie said, her tone full of sarcasm.  She reached for her phone.  “Why don’t we call him?  He should be returning from Mexico about now.”

“No, please!” Marilee said and reached across the table to stop her.  “Please don’t do that.  I’ll do anything.”

Jackie smiled and withdrew a piece of paper from her attaché case.  “Sign this.  It transfers your hundred thousand shares of Merteuil to me.  You’ll see I’m offering a very fair price.  The funds will be transferred to you from my bank in New York immediately.”

She looked at the piece of paper and shook her head miserably.  Closing her eyes, she attempted to stop her tears.  “I don’t want to hurt anybody.”

“I’m sure you don’t.”  She handed her a pen. 

“Please don’t do this,” Marilee implored her.  How could she choose between keeping her secret and betraying a friend?  It was impossible.  But deep down she knew she only had one recourse. 

“My offer is about to expire, Marilee.  Sign right now or I walk out that door and make that phone call.” 

Devastated, Marilee put pen to paper and scribbled her name on the document.  As soon as she was done, she lowered her head and cried.  Jackie, smiling with elation, placed the paper back in her attaché case and stood up from the table.

“Lovely doing business with you, Marilee,” she said and began to leave.  Before she did, she turned back and took the pen from her.  “Have a lovely day.”

After she’d gone, Marilee dried her eyes and attempted to pull herself together before Renee arrived.  When she showed up at the table a few minutes later, she forced herself to remain composed.

“Thank you for meeting me, Marilee,” Renee said.  “I know you just go back in town but this couldn’t wait.  It’s urgent.”

“Of course,” Marilee said, heart pounding inside her chest.

“Marilee, someone is targeting my company for a takeover.  I’m sure you’ve heard.  With your shares, they could gain controlling interest.  I need to know that you won’t sell to anyone at any price no matter what.”

Marilee shook her head, her eyes stinging with tears.  “I’m sorry, Renee.  I wish I could have helped you.”

“What are you saying?” Renee asked.

“It’s already done.”  She grabbed her purse from the table and stood up.  “Please try and understand.  I had no choice.”

“No choice?” Renee asked, alarmed.  She watched her back away from the table.  “Marilee, tell me you didn’t sell.”

She nodded, sucking back the tears.  “I’m sorry.” 

After she’d disappeared from view, Renee struggled to catch her breath after feeling that the wind had been knocked out of her.  How could this be happening?  How could someone have already gotten to Marilee?

Then she realized what had been in front of her all along.  The one person who had it out for her.  Jackie. 

Moonshadows

Leading Michael by the hand, Miranda made her way to her car parked next to the beach at Moonshadows.  When she spotted David pull up in his fire red Ferrari, she stood to the side and waved as he emerged from the driver’s seat.

“Shouldn’t you be home?” she asked with a sarcastic grin.  “Isn’t that what unemployed people do?”

“Funny,” he said.  “Unloading one hotel doesn’t exactly make me unemployed.  I have a few dozen others that are more than enough to occupy my time.” 

“So why sell this one?” Miranda inquired.  “You always said it was your biggest achievement.  That and trying to buy Hotel Terranova from me when we first met.”

David laughed warmly at the memory.   Buying Hotel Terranova had been a not-so clever guise to meet Miranda at the time.  Their romance, although short-lived, had been riddled in stormy encounters.   Now he could laugh, but at the time he wanted to wring her neck on more than one occasion. 

“This place has a lot of potential,” he finally said, bending down and ruffling the hair on Michael’s head.  “There’s been a lot of interest in it over the years.  I guess you could call this my act of good will.  Renee’s trying to expand her assets anyway.”

“She’s wise to, especially if this company is able to take over Merteuil.”

“So how are you doing, little man?” David asked after directing his attention to Michael.  “How ‘bout a high-five for your favorite uncle?”

Michael enthusiastically slapped his tiny hand against David’s, then clumsily spun around and held his hands out behind him.  Laughing, David played along before he stood up and looked back at Miranda.

“Babysitting while Brooke’s in Acapulco?” he asked. 

“Yeah.  Can you believe it?”

“I can,” he said thoughtfully.  “I always thought you’d be a great mom.  I know how upset your were about the miscarriage.  I was there, remember?”

“You never thought I’d be a good mom,” Miranda said with a burst of laughter.  “If I remember correctly you called me a spoiled brat who was in love with her father and wanted to kill her step-mother.” 

“The truth hurts,” he said with a wink.   “I don’t know.  Life passes by so quickly.  You really have to make sense of what’s important while you can.  Sometimes I wish I’d had a kid.”

“You still can,” Miranda said.  “You’re not over the hill quite yet.”

He shrugged and looked down at Michael.  “I would like to spend more time with this little guy.  Family is important.  You never know how much time you’ve got to spend with them.” 

Miranda regarded him with a look of suspicion.  “You’re being awfully wishy washy today,” she said with a grin.  “Everything okay?”

He broke from a daze and nodded dismissively.  “Yeah, everything’s great.” 

The conversation was interrupted when Eddie approached, kissing Miranda on the cheek and playfully punching Michael in the stomach.  “Hi babe.  Ready to go?”

“Oh yeah,” Miranda said, distracted.  “I forgot we were going to the horse stables.”

“I bet Michael hasn’t forgotten,” Eddie said, then looked up at David and offered his hand.  “Nice to see you, David.”

“You too, Eddie.”

“Did I interrupt something?” he asked, sensing the tenseness of the moment between them.  “Because I can-“

“No, you didn’t interrupt anything,” David answered.  “We were just talking.” 

“Okay,” Eddie said, leading Miranda to his car.  “Ready to go?”

“Yeah,” she smiled, then looked back at David.  “Take care of yourself.”

“Always do,” he replied. 

Brett Armstrong

It was Saturday so Brett didn’t have to take Violet to Suzanne’s.  He did drop her off at a playgroup organized by a few of the parents in his condo association, leaving him with some free time to run, workout, and do some things around the apartment.  

Thoughts of Suzanne and their afternoon in bed together plagued him for the majority of the morning.  Everything had been perfect, starting with him surprising her in the shower and carrying her, soaking wet, to the bed where they made love over and over.  He’d wanted her badly and he still did, no matter how guilty she had begun to feel. 

It wasn’t as if he didn’t feel guilty, but their coming together seemed like a cosmic force that they couldn’t stop even if they wanted to.  It had nothing to do with Heather or their marriage.

After leaving the police station, he knew Suzanne had more regrets.  Jordan practically blamed her for Benji’s recent actions, going as far as to suggest he was the reason.  Still, he was sure his father-in-law wasn’t privy to what had transpired between them.  They hid it well.

As if reading his mind, Suzanne arrived at his condo, knocking briefly before pushing the door open and walking inside. 

“I hope it’s okay that I stopped by,” she said, radiant in a mauve pantsuit.  “I thought we should talk about yesterday.”

He approached quickly, closing the door behind her.  “Of course.  How are you?  How’s Benji?”

“Belligerent as ever,” she replied with a sigh and sat down on the sofa.  She laid her purse neatly in her lap and admired him as she sat down in the chair across from her.  “Somehow Jordan got the charges dropped so he came home last night.  I just can’t get through to him.  I have no idea what’s going through his mind.”

“I’m sorry,” Brett said, hands hung between his legs.  “Is there anything I can do?”

She shook her head, remaining silent for a few moments while she considered her next remark.  “We can’t let what happened yesterday happen again, Brett.  Jordan was right, I’m too distracted.  I’m supposed to be molding my son into a decent human being and instead I’m living this fantasy.  It’s just wrong.”

“No, it’s not,” he said insistently.  “We were so good together, Suzanne.  How can you say that’s wrong?”

“Because you’re married to my daughter for one,” she said, tears stinging her eyes.  She stood up, realizing that coming there was a mistake. 

Brett jumped to his feet, blocking her from leaving.  He took her hand, gazing into her eyes.  “Can you honestly tell me that yesterday meant nothing to you?  That you didn’t feel a connection between us?”

She shook her head, trying to avoid looking into his eyes.  “None of that matters.”

“I don’t believe you,” he said, turning her head toward him.  “You don’t want this to end any more than I do.” 

She knew he was right, but it wasn’t that simple.  There were too many people who would get hurt. 

“Please, let me go,” she said, struggling to free herself from his grasp.

He closed the gap between them, his eyes heavy with the close proximity of their bodies.  “Is that really what you want?”

She finally looked at him and shook her head.  Before she knew it, he was kissing her hard on the lips.   All will power disappeared and she fell back onto the sofa with him lowering himself on top of her.

Benji Rydell

Benji stared rebelliously at his father, squinting through the sun at the marina as Jordan stood on the deck of his yacht. 

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Jordan demanded angrily.  “I saved your ass yet again.  This is becoming real tiresome, Benji.  Sooner or later your golden ticket is going to run out of punches and you’re going to earn yourself a nice long prison sentence.”

“What do you want me to say?” he demanded.  Yes, he was lucky that his father had an in with Detective Callahan, but did he expect him to grovel?  To bend over backwards thanking him?  “You didn’t think twice about bribing the D.A. to drop the charges against Heather when she offed Will Thomerson, so why is this any different?”

“That attitude isn’t going to get you anywhere,” Jordan cautioned him.  “I’m telling you for the last time, shape up or you’re out of here.”

“Oh yeah?” he challenged him.

“Yeah, and that means no car, no credit cards, no bank account.  I’m dead serious.  I’ll have you and your mother move back in with me if I have to.”

“Greeeeat,” Benji murmured under his breath. 

Jordan realized he wasn’t getting through to him.  He may just do exactly that, he decided.  If Suzanne couldn’t tame their wild child son, then maybe the both of them together would have more of an impact.  He decided he’d bring it up to her. 

“Meanwhile, you’re going to start working at Rydell with Brett,” he said.

“What?” Benji asked, surprised and more than a little angry.  “What if I don’t want to work at the studio?”

“Then you’re more than welcome to get a job working at Caffeine Dreams or California Taco,” Jordan insisted.  “See how your snotty friends react when you’re wearing an apron and stuffing burritos all day.” 

The thought was precarious so Benji decided not to push his luck.  “Fine.  What do I have to do?”

“Whatever Brett tells you to do,” Jordan snapped.  “But this gravy train of yours is over.  You want to continue driving around in your sixty thousand dollar car and spending two-hundred bucks a pop on t-shirts then you’re going to have to start pulling your weight.”

Benji had already tuned him out.  He waved a hand dismissively at him and started down the dock to the parking lot, ignoring his father screaming his name after him. 

Climbing into his car, he lifted a society newspaper from the seat.  Each time he read the front page headline he grew more and more alarmed. 

Heir to New York royalty spotted with new beau,” he read to himself, his eyes narrowing on a picture of Sierra and Hunt Roberts at a polo match in upstate New York. 

The prospect made him angry, prompting visions of pummeling the smart-ass look right off the kid’s face.  He’d taken Sierra’s virginity.  She belonged to him. 

He was done with it all.  With his father, with his mother, with Brett, and with Duke.  For weeks he’d tried to stay out of trouble; tried to be a good person.  Then because of a stupid grudge that he had nothing to do with, he got roped into getting a job and being the target of multiple lectures. 

He was done.  No more.  They hadn’t seen anything yet. 

David Jenner

Jackie’s small but comfortable room at the Yacht Club was the latest in contemporary design.  Frosted glass windows trimmed in rich dark wood, elegant, neutral furnishings and a view of the tree-lined path connecting it to the marina.  She decided it would do for a few days until she decided where to make her permanent home.  There were other more immediate things to tend to, anyway, such as celebrating her recent success. 

“Congratulations,” Bryan Carlson said through the phone receiver.  “Who ever said blackmail didn’t belong in the boardroom was sorely mistaken.” 

“They obviously haven’t met me,” she preened, lounging languorously on the bed while sipping from a glass of champagne.

“Have you lowered the boom on Renee DeWitt yet?”

“No, I’m letting her sweat it for a while first.  By now she’s got to know it was me behind the takeover.  I’m just waiting for the right time to make a formal announcement.  You know me.”

“Yes, I do,” Bryan smiled.  “I’ll try and fly out in the next day or so to help you celebrate.  I could use a little one-on-one time with my favorite corporate raider, anyway.”

Jackie grinned devilishly.  “I’m looking forward to that.  Bryan, thank you for all your help with this.  I couldn’t have put Renee DeWitt in her place without you.”

After hanging up, she kicked her legs in the air and squealed with excitement.  She dreamed of the look on Renee’s face when she kicked her out of her chair the way she kicked her out of Moonshadows. 

Her private celebration was interrupted by a knock at the door.  Twisting off the bed, she was surprised to find David standing outside. 

“I see you got my message with my new address,” Jackie said, pursing her lips angrily.  “Thanks to you, that bitch kicked me out of my penthouse and now I’m resigned to living here in squalor.”

David surveyed the beautiful surroundings.  “I’d hardly consider this squalor, mother.”  He walked into the room and turned to her.  “But I am sorry that Renee made you leave.  I hadn’t planned on her doing that when I sold her the resort.”

“Why did you sell it to her?” she demanded, gesturing with her champagne glass.            

David sighed and poured himself a glass of bourbon.  “It was a business decision,” he said and sat down in a leather club chair.  “Nothing more.”

“A business decision?” Jackie asked, storming across the room.  “This was more than a business decision, David.  First you give a portion of it to Brooke just because you share a father, and now you sell the rest of it to Renee DeWitt.  Why?”

“First of all, I haven’t taken anything from Brooke.  She still owns her ten percent of Moonshadows.  This place is very special to me.  It was Royce’s dream to see it completed.”

“All the more reason why you shouldn’t have sold it to an outsider!”

“Brooke’s got her hands full with Sunset Studios, and you have your hands in more than it’s safe for most of us to know about,” David remarked.  “I wanted to ensure Moonshadows would be well cared for, and Renee has the capabilities to do that.”

Jackie raised an eyebrow in amusement.  “She’ll have more than enough free time, that’s for sure,” she murmured to herself, still giddy over snatching her company out from under her.

“What does that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing,” she replied glibly.  “You still haven’t told me why.  Why sell it at all?”

David turned his eyes downward.  “Because I won’t always be around to ensure its success,” he said.

“What do you mean?” she demanded.  “Are you planning on going somewhere?”

He looked up and shook his head.  “I’m dying,” he told her. 


Next time....

Back in L.A., Stormy, Brooke and Kyle scramble to finish pre-production on House of Palms.  Box office numbers are revealed for Angel Assassin 2.  Cassidy Solomon finds herself on a forced leave of absence.  Alex gets an offer from James.  A catfight leads to destruction.

 

 

Read Episode 111

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