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Episode 112

 

Release Date:  April 23, 2010

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

David told Jackie that he was dying of a brain tumor and had less than a year to live.  After the initial devastation wore off, Jackie began wondering what David would do with Royce's assetts.  Bryan agreed to find out if David had updated his will since learning his fate.  Stormy was applauded by James after Angel Assassin 2 raked in millions in its opening weekend. The success prompted Mackenzie to offer Alex her job back, which she declined.  Meanwhile, Cassidy Solomon had been fired from The Young at Heart.  Alex also turned James and Stormy down to star in House of Palms, claiming her priorities had changed since she decided to adopt a baby.  Stormy grew wary of his mother's new obsession.  Miranda invited herself along to go skydiving with David, who was trying to do as many things as he could before he died.  Miranda, however, didn't know that he was dying.  Stephanie told Jordan she was leaving town.  After getting advice from a call-girl, Jordan realized that he was wasting his time with new women and decided he belonged with Suzanne for the sake of their family.  Benji nearly caught Brett and Suzanne having sex at Brett's condo.  Renee brawled with Jackie after learning she'd been the one to take over her company.  In Manhattan, Kelly argued with her boyfriend/agent about her infant baby, a son she'd named R.J. after Stormy.

 


 

Episode 112

"What's Done is Done"

 

Bobbing to the surface of the water, Suzanne exhaled with a gasp.  She blinked the water from her eyes and looked with surprise at Jordan who had just approached through the back gate. 

“Did I startle you?” he asked, grinning.

“A little,” she replied, quickly hoisting herself up on the ladder.  “What are you doing here?”  She knew she sounded abrasive, but she couldn’t help herself.  His timing was bad as usual. 

“We need to talk,” he said, hands dug deep in the pockets of his trousers. 

“Okay.  Sure.”  Squeezing excess water from her hair, she grabbed a towel from the back of a lounge chair and headed for the house.

“Sure I didn’t interrupt anything?”  Jordan followed her to the door. 

“No, I was just about to get out anyway.  I have an online class in a few minutes.”

Before she could open the sliding glass door and lead him inside, Jordan took a seat at the patio table.  She panicked.  If he knew what she’d been doing seconds before he showed up, there would be no explanation convincing enough. 

She purposefully took the chair that blocked his view of the pool.  “So what did you want to talk about?  If this is about Benji again, then I have to tell you, Jordan, I really don’t want to hear it.”  She poured herself a glass of iced tea and then shook her head to the side to expel some water remnants. 

Twenty feet behind them, Brett emerged from beneath the still water of the pool where he’d been holding his breath for what felt like five minutes.  He turned his face to the sky and gasped for air, all the while trying to remain silent and out of sight just below the ledge of the pool.

Had it been under different circumstances, it probably wouldn’t have been a big deal for Jordan to find them in the pool.  But considering the fact that he was naked, and was seconds away from removing Suzanne’s swimsuit, he thought it was best to remain hidden from view.  Luckily Suzanne had acted quickly.  Despite being in spectacular shape, he didn’t think he could hold his breath for another second. 

Trapped with mere inches of room to breathe freely without fear of being spotted, he had no choice but to cling to the wall and breathe through is noise.  As he did, he listened to Suzanne and Jordan’s conversation.

“It’s not about Benji per se,” Jordan was saying.  “It’s more about our family as a unit, our future and what’s best for all of us.” 

“What are you talking about?”  She couldn’t help but wonder if Brett was still alive.  Jordan was usually a man of few words, so it would figure he’d choose this moment to blab incoherently about something she couldn’t follow.

“Since I sent you away fifteen years ago, all I’ve done is go from one empty relationship to another.  I’m getting damn close to fifty-years old and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life like some aging lothario.”

“You’re saying both of your marriages to Alex were empty?” she asked incredulously.  “Nice.  I’d like to hear what you say about our marriage when I’m not around.”

He leaned forward and took her hand.  “That’s just it.  We had a real marriage.  We raised our children together and we supported one another.  Things were good until Sylvie and Troy came along.”

“And don’t forget about Victor.”  She wanted to diffuse any lengthy discussion of her near-affair with Jordan’s half-brother, Troy.  They’d never slept together, but their feelings were every bit as duplicitous.  She feared her guilt over her affair with Brett would come through in the conversation. 

“If we took the clock back and wiped out everything before my stupid affair, maybe we’d still be together,” he told her.  “Maybe Heather wouldn’t be in an institution and maybe Benji wouldn’t be acting out so much.”

“What are saying, Jordan?  We alone turned our children into who they are.  We can’t go back.  What’s done is done.”

“But we can try to make it right.  We can start over.”

She shook her head, temporarily forgetting about Brett and the fact that he was still trapped in the pool.  “I already told you I was not going to move in with you.  Benji and I are fine here.  He’s got a job now and finally some direction.”

“I’m not talking about moving in with me,” Jordan said.  “Not just that.  I think we should get married.  Again.  Then we can live together as a family.”

Brett nearly came up out of the water upon hearing Jordan’s proposal.  What was he thinking?  More importantly, what would Suzanne’s response be?

Moonshadows

With David’s blessing, Renee began doing some light remodeling to several areas of Moonshadows.  Not that she needed his permission because he’d sold his interests in the resort to her, but knowing how important the place was to him, she felt the need to at least run it by him.  The result was plans for a third restaurant, aptly named the Sierra Room, in lieu of the now charred remnants of the Admirals Club.  Completion was scheduled for June and she was overseeing its progress personally.  In addition, she opted to give the existing establishments a more grandiose feel in comparison to David’s stark modern take. 

That morning, she ran into James in the lobby and, after he realized how upset she was, he led her off to La Mirada Bar so they could talk in private.  They sat at a back table while the bartender prepared to open for the day.

“I knew the minute that woman came to town she would be bad news,” Renee cried.  “I mean, I knew we didn’t get along, but for her to take it this far?  I had no idea her financial resources were this strong.”

James sighed.  Jackie’s got more money than she knows what to do with,” he told her.  Jonas left her everything except the studio and the house.  I used to think those were the only things she cared about.  Her taking over Merteuil Industries is a total shock to me.”

“I feel like I’ve let everyone down,” she continued.  “The Board of Directors, Kenny, my father…”

“The Board will always have your back and you know that.  Even if you’re not in charge.”

Marilee certainly didn’t have my back when she sold her shares to Jackie.  I still don’t know how she got her to do that.  She won’t return any of my phone calls.  She must have had something on her.  That’s the only explanation.  Marilee would never have betrayed me otherwise.”

James agreed, and only just now did he realize what it must have been that Jackie had on her.  Kyle.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to him that she would sink to that level, but yet it did.

“This is temporary,” he finally said.  “We’ll find a way to get your company back from her.  Kenny and I won’t let her win.”

She finally managed a vague smile.  “Kenny’s been so wonderful through this whole thing,” she said dreamily.  “He’s so caring and protective of me.  We’ve actually reconnected as a result of my problems.  I never in a million years would have predicted I’d overlook his past indiscretions.”

“That’s wonderful,” James said, truly happy that his two best friends had found their way back together.  Despite the circumstances, it was one bright spot in the whole thing. 

Jackie Lamont

Staring out the window of her office at Sunset Studios, Jackie affixed her hands on her hips and spoke without looking directly at her young personal assistant. 

“I trust your legal problems have been resolved and that you can now direct your full attention to where it should be,” she was saying, clad in a skin-tight leopard print dress, accessorized with a red patent leather belt and matching heels. 

“There weren’t any charges against me,” Steven Chandler replied.  He sat across the room in trademark ripped jeans and Zanerobe t-shirt.  “The whole thing with that gun was a misunderstanding.  Benji Rydell and Duke Summerfield…”

“I’m not interested in hearing about the details of your freshman antics,” she cut him off, finally turning to face him.  “Save it for The O.C.  I have a job for you.”

“Sure,” he croaked eagerly.  “Anything you want, Mrs. Blackthorne.”

“There’s a crew headed to Acapulco in two days to start filming House of Palms,” she informed him while taking a seat behind her desk.  “I want you to be my eyes and ears during production.  It’s no secret my partners are a group of inept morons.  Their success with Angel Assassin 2 was sheer luck.  I don’t intend for my father’s studio to go down in flames with people like Stormy Blackthorne and Kyle Fenwick at the helm.”

“You want me to go to Mexico?” he asked her.  “What about school?  I have midterms this week.  I need those grades so I can keep my scholarship.”

“Don’t worry about your grades.  I made a call to the dean of the film department and after a sizeable donation for much-needed camera equipment, he’s agreed to award you with grades that I think you’ll be happy with.”

Her influence constantly surprised him.  Shifting in his seat, he struggled with finding comfort in the arrangement.  He was by no means a square, but if he didn’t earn the grades then what good were they?

“I don’t know if I like the idea of cheating.”

“It isn’t cheating,” she said with a roll of her eyes.  “Besides, I’m making you an official intern at the studio.  Name one other student in your film class who can say they got an internship at a major motion picture studio this early in their education.  I’m doing you a favor, Steven.  You might want to start acting a little more appreciative.”

“I do appreciate it.  Thank you, Mrs. Blackthorne.”  Maybe he was too quick to protest.  It did seem like a pretty sweet deal, and all he’d wanted all along was something substantial to add to his resume. 

Their meeting was interrupted when the door opened and Bryan Carlson entered.  He and Jackie exchanged glances and she decided to quickly dismiss Steven. 

“All right, now run off and start packing,” she told him. 

He got up, nodded politely at Bryan, and started to leave.  Before he did, Jackie called after him.

“Oh, and Steven, this isn’t going to be some excuse to get all drunk and crazy at the MTV beach house or whatever it is you kids do.  I want you to keep your eyes open and your zipper closed.  Understood?”

He nodded and darted off to the elevator.  After he’d gone, Bryan grinned and walked the rest of the way into the office.

“You have such a way with today’s youth,” he joked.

Smiling, she leaned back in her chair and playfully poked the tip of a pen between her lips.  “So any news on David’s will?”

“Yes,” he replied, sitting in the spot Steven had vacated.  “He filed a new will with the court two days after he came back from San Francisco.”

“Well what does it say?” she demanded while leaning forward. 

“That I don’t know.  I can’t access it.  No one but David and his attorney can.” 

“Well who’s his attorney?” Jackie demanded.

“Kenny DeWitt,” Bryan informed her.  “Any relation to your nemesis?”

“Yes,” Jackie replied, her brain going into overdrive with a way to find out what was in the will.  “He’s her philandering ex-husband.” 

Suzanne Rogers

“Why are you yelling at me?” Suzanne asked as she darted around the kitchen preparing a snack for Violet.  “I told him he was talking like a crazy person.  What else was I supposed to say?”

Brett stood before her, pulling a t-shirt over his head, wet hair tousling about as he did.  “I don’t know.  I just can’t believe how brazen he is coming over here informing you that you need to get married.  As if you’re his puppet or something.  And I’m not yelling.  I’m just annoyed.”

“How do you think I feel?” she asked, pouring juice into a bottle.  “He assumes I’m unhappy just because I don’t have a man in my life.”  A pause while she reconsidered her words.  “Well, he thinks so, anyway.  And now that he’s done making his rounds around town screwing everything in sight, he decides he’s ready to settle down into something comfortable.”

“You should have told him that he blew it when he slept with Victor’s wife fifteen years ago,” Brett argued, glancing down at Violet who sat in a booster seat.  “He’s nothing but a cheating-“

A penetrating look from Suzanne stopped his sentence short.  They looked at each other, both knowing what the other was thinking.  He was no better than Jordan, he realized, so that argument didn’t exactly hold water. 

“I told him to forget it,” Suzanne said after the awkward moment had passed.  “He realizes how stupid an idea it is.  No way am I marrying him again.  I don’t love him anymore.”

“Are you sure about that?” he asked flippantly.

She sighed, dropping her hands to the counter in resignation.  “What does that supposed to mean?”

Wanting to diffuse any heated arguments, he waved his hand dismissively through the air and changed the tone in his voice.  “You know Jordan.  He’s not going to give up on this idea.  He doesn’t take no for an answer.”

“Well he can’t force me to get married if I don’t want to.” 

“He can be persuasive.”

Marching across the room, she set the bottle of juice on the tray before Violet and folded her arms angrily.   “I expect Jordan to believe I can’t think for myself.  I don’t expect that from you.  You’re really acting no better than he is.”

“How can you say that?” Brett demanded.

“Because you won’t drop it!” she yelled, flinching when the bottle slipped from Violet’s hands and she started crying.  At that very moment, the phone rang and added to the chaos in the room.  Between Brett’s argumentative state, the baby’s wailing and the phone ringing repeatedly, she nearly lost it.  Storming across the room, she pulled the phone from the counter and answered curtly. 

Frustrated by the interruption, Brett went to tend to Violet.  He didn’t know why he was getting so upset.  He had no claim over Suzanne.  All they had were a string of secret sexual encounters and loads of tension.  She was a free agent, perfectly able to do anything with anyone she wanted.  He, on the other hand, was married, and despite his feelings for Suzanne, he still loved Heather with all his heart. 

Turning his attention back to her, he detected a change in her tone as she spoke to whoever was on the other end of the phone.  Suddenly he forgot about his own private struggles and attempted to gauge what was going on with the phone call. 

“I see,” she was saying, face white as a sheet.  “Thank you, Dr. Bouvier.  Yes, I’ll be in touch.”

After she hung up, Brett approached her slowly.  “That was Dr. Bouvier?” he asked.  “What’s wrong?  Is Heather okay?”

She nodded, her hand still resting delicately on the receiver.  “No, she’s fine,” she said.  “Dr. Bouvier thinks it’s time that I fly up and see her.”

His voice filled with alarm, Brett glanced at Violet and then back at Suzanne.  “I thought he said it was going to be a while before she was ready for that.  He didn’t want to compromise her treatment until she remembered the accident and the murder.”

She shrugged, happy that she was going to be able to see her daughter for the first time in months, but also nervous about how she would hide her guilt when she did see her.  “I don’t know.  Maybe she did remember. “

“Are you going to go?”

“Of course I’m going to go,” she replied curtly.  “She’s my daughter.” 

Miranda Blackthorne

Skydiving was one kind of rush, but jumping off of a helicopter into the unknown waters below was something else entirely.  Miranda was outfitted with a life vest and the pilot knew the areas of the waters off Malibu enough to avoid steep ridges and reefs that jutted up from the ocean floor.  Despite those precautions, plunging into the water instilled panic, causing her to thrash about, gasping for air.  The vest kept her afloat but she still felt as though she were sinking, never quite capable of calming down after the initial impact.  Water rushed into her lungs and she coughed and sputtered.   She was certain this was the end. 

David, who’d landed a few feet from her, sensed her panic and swam over to her where he succeeded in calming her down enough to get her breathing normally again.  They floated in the water until the boat came and picked them up.  Once back at shore, she collapsed onto the sand and held her face in her hands.

“Just breathe,” he told her, kneeling on the sand before her.   “You’re okay now.”

She shook her head with a mixture of relief and embarrassment.  “I can’t believe I freaked out like that.  I was so sure it was going to be a piece of cake.  Just like the skydiving.” 

“This was different,” David reminded her, gently stroking her bare shoulders.  “When that water comes rushing up at you it’s hard to know what to think or what to do.  I shouldn’t have let you come with me.”

“I wanted to do it,” she informed him, suddenly regaining her confidence.  “I told myself I was going to get out there and live life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let something scare me away.  So what’s next?”

Laughing, he positioned himself beside her and put an arm around her shivering body.  “I think we’ve had enough thrill-seeking for a while.”

“Oh, come on, David,” she insisted.  “I panicked this time but I won’t again.  I’m having fun.  Besides, we’re partners now.  You can’t get rid of me that easily.”

David looked out at the water while he grabbed a fistful of sand.  “How does Eddie feel about you being here with me today?”

She shrugged.  “You saw him the other day after we went skydiving.  He couldn’t handle it.  I mean, I admit I didn’t handle today well, but it hasn’t scared me off.  I’m ready for more.”

“He doesn’t know, does he?”

She looked away and sighed.  “No.  But what’s the big deal?  You and I are friends.  There’s no harm in that.”

“No, but when you’re hanging out with me looking for quick thrills instead of being with your boyfriend, then red flags start popping up.  Everything okay with you two?”

“Yeah,” she replied, squishing sand between her perfectly pedicured feet.  “It’s fine.  I mean, why wouldn’t it be?”

“Are you sure?”

She didn’t feel like talking to him about it.  Yes, she and Eddie were perfectly fine.  They had a perfectly normal, perfectly uneventful relationship.  When he wasn’t on a case they settled down into daily routines that made her wonder if that was all that there was.  She loved Eddie, loved his goofball smile and toned yet uncoordinated body, and knew no one else had ever loved her as much as he did.  But did that mean she had to sacrifice some excitement?  At least with Brett he was always keeping her on her toes with some asinine scheme he’d cooked up.  Even when she and David had their brief fling, their constant bickering kept things interesting.  With Eddie she always knew what she was going to get. 

“Yes, I’m sure,” she lied, keeping her thoughts to herself.  “You sure you don’t want to go rock climbing or race cars?”

He laughed and pulled her close with his arm around her.  “How about we settle for lunch?”

Not quite what she was expecting, but it would do.  “Okay, but I get to pick the restaurant.” 

He stood up and offered a hand to help her to her feet.  “Somehow I get the feeling we’re about to dine in a hot air balloon or something equally as ridiculous.” 

Laughing, they walked down the beach to his house, playfully chasing each other as the waves rolled up and circled their feet. 

Sunset Studios

At Sunset Studios, Jackie stepped out of her office and proceeded down the hall to the conference room where the rest of the crew was already assembled.  James, Brooke, Stormy and Kyle were seated around the mahogany table poring over the chronology section of Eric Autumn’s shooting script.  The director, a thirty-nine year old man with tousled dishwater blond hair and deeply bronzed skin made annotations as they went page by page through the Mexico location shoots. 

When Jackie entered, everyone stopped and turned to her.  She slid into a seat next to Eric, her eyes traveling to a woman across the table that she was positive she knew but couldn’t place from where. 

“Jackie, thank you for coming to the meeting,” James said from his seat at the head of the table.  “But you really don’t need to bother yourself.  This is just a formality to catch everyone up to speed.  It really doesn’t concern you.”

Of course he would say that, she thought bitterly to herself.  They were forever trying to cut her out of the daily operations.  But no, she wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of excluding her from decisions that had to be made in regards to House of Palms.  She refused. 

“I’d like to sit in if you don’t mind,” she snapped.  “As part owner of this studio I’d be remiss if I didn’t know what was going on.  Is that okay with you, James?”

He smiled politely, inside wanting to walk across the room and throttle her for what she did to Renee.  But this was studio business and nothing got in the way of that, even Jackie’s extracurricular acts of terrorism. 

“Of course,” he said, acknowledging Brooke’s steely cold stares in Jackie’s direction.  “Now, where were we?” 

“We were discussing the staff required for the first week of shooting,” Stormy reminded him. 

“Ah, yes,” James said, referring to his script.  “Only essential staff will need to report to the location shoot in Acapulco tomorrow.  I want to keep costs down as much as possible.  That means only the crew, Stormy, Kyle, Eric, Jack and Cassidy.”

“The Mexican Film Commission is working on rounding up extras and locals to play the bit parts,” Kyle chimed in. 

“Excellent,” James said.

“Steven will be joining you for the duration of the Mexico shoot,” Jackie informed them.

“Steven?” James asked with a frown.

“My personal assistant,” Jackie reminded him.  “I hired him on as a full-time intern.”

“On whose authority?” Brooke asked crossly.  “I don’t remember being asked if you can hire an intern.”   She looked at James.  “Do you?”

“No,” he replied.  “Jackie, I’m sorry, but the answer is no.  We have more than enough crew flying down where we don’t need an intern.”

“Oh?” she asked, instantly jumping to defend her decision.  They didn’t have to know she was only sending him along to spy for her.  Instead, she came up with a response off the top of her head.   “He works for free, he’ll do anything that the crew can’t do while they’re busy setting up shots, and the studio will receive a tax credit for employing a student of a state university.  So…do we still not need an intern?”  

Considering her point, James conceded with a shrug.  “Fine.  I guess it won’t hurt to have someone on hand in case things get too hectic.” 

“Yeah, like getting my coffee in the mornings,” Brooke said snidely.

“Now that that’s settled,” James continued.  “Jack Childer’s agent insists he has plenty of Evian on hand.  As a matter of fact, it’s not a bad idea we stock up.  Don’t want anyone getting sick from the water.  Kyle, can you make sure the jet is stocked up?”

He raised a methodic eyebrow, slightly unhappy that he’d been assigned such a ridiculous duty.  He hadn’t signed over the rights to the script so he could be a water boy for a pompous movie star.

“Cassidy, do you have any special requirements?” James asked, directing his attention to Cassidy Solomon who sat across from Jackie in large round Chanel sunglasses and daytime pearls. 

“I thought my agent sent those over,” she responded. 

Jackie’s eyes narrowed on her and she gestured across the table.  “Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt again, but who are you?”

“I beg your pardon?” the woman asked. 

“Jackie, this is Cassidy Solomon,” James said.  “She’s going to be our Lana Andrews.  I asked her to come in today to get familiar with the shoot since the casting decision was made so last minute.”

“You’re that soap diva, aren’t you?” Jackie inquired.  “The one with the daughter doing those filthy things on your website.”

Cassidy gasped, clutching her chest and shooting James a look of horror. 

“Jackie, that’s enough,” James cautioned her. 

“I just think I should have been informed of such an important casting decision,” she said.  “Maybe I don’t think some daytime soap veteran is the caliber of star we want leading this film.  I thought we wanted someone with some star power.  My God, even Alex Reynolds would have been a better choice.”

“How dare you,” Cassidy seethed from across the conference table as she shot to her feet. 

“Can we stop the bickering?” Eric Autumn asked.  “We haven’t even started shooting yet and the diva tantrums are already starting.  James, I told you I wouldn’t put up with this kind of shit.”

“I suppose you’re talking about me?” Cassidy asked defensively. 

“Gee, how’d you guess?” Eric asked with a sarcastic roll of his eyes. 

“Eric, I’m sorry about this,” Jackie said.  “I know I promised you an Oscar-worthy project.  This obviously wasn’t what I had in mind.”

“That’s enough!” James shouted.  “I made the decision to hire Cassidy because aside from her role on The Young at Heart, she’s done dozens of television films, she’s starred on Broadway and she’s won her share of Emmy’s.  This movie is about a wealthy oil family and its matriarch.  I can’t think of a better actress to play that role.”

The room grew quiet and Cassidy slowly lowered herself back into her chair.  She smiled and took a sip of water from the crystal goblet in front of her. 

“Now, can we get through this?” James demanded.  “There’s a lot to do and not much time to do it in.”

Everyone returned to their script and listened as he continued listing their priorities for the upcoming three-month shoot. 

Kenny DeWitt

Kenny went to his usual spot for lunch, a seat at the bar in the open air restaurant at the Yacht Club.  It was near his office and near his condo, making it a breeze to pop in and out for a delicious steak and salad. 

“The usual, Mr. DeWitt?” Jared the bartender asked, waiving a menu before him. 

“Yes, thank you, Jared,” Kenny replied, removing a stack of briefs from his case and beginning to pore over them. 

“Coming right up.”

As he reviewed his caseload and sipped a martini, Kenny couldn’t help notice the attractive woman sitting to his left.  She was difficult to miss, that was for sure.  Clouds of blond curls framing a porcelain face, luscious pink frosty lips, skirt slit up to her thigh, and tits that seemed to beg for escape from a low cut blouse. 

“Hello,” Kenny said, unable to help himself.

She smiled.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare.  I just thought I recognized you.  Are you that actor?  The one from the action movies?”

This was a first, Kenny thought to himself.  Usually he was the one supplying the lame opening lines.  Had he and Renee not recently reunited, he might have considered using it on her himself. 

“No, but I get that a lot,” he replied modestly.  Maybe a little innocent flirting wouldn’t hurt.  After all, he was still a man who appreciated a certain type of woman. 

“I bet.  You seem to be well-known around here.” 

Kenny shrugged.  “I guess I’m a regular.  I haven’t seen you around before.  Let me guess, you’re new in town, right?  An actress?”

“Model,” she corrected him.  “Well, I hope to be, anyway.”

“I could tell.  You’ve got that look.”

“What look?”

“Very Southern California.  I doubt you have any problems getting jobs.”

She smiled coyly and turned around in her stool to face him.  “You sound like an agent,” she said.

“Close,” he replied, turning as well.  He couldn’t take his eyes off of her cleavage or her smooth as silk legs.  “I’m an attorney.”  He extended his hand to her.  “Kenny DeWitt.”

“Veronica Miller,” she gushed.  “So tell me, Kenny DeWitt, what do you do for fun around here?”

His mouth agape in awe, Kenny thought of millions of responses to her question, all bordering on the inappropriate.  By the time he answered her, he knew it was a lost cause.  His willpower was shot. 

Minutes later, they were upstairs in Kenny’s condo, frantically kissing with a hurried sense of urgency.  After undressing him, Veronica set her enormous purse on the dresser and straddled him on the bed.  Kenny watched in amazement as she removed her blouse, perfect mammoth breasts tumbling out of a lacey pink bra.  He buried his face between them, lifting her skirt and clasping his hands alongside her thighs. 

The sex was incredible, her on top of him with her nipples dancing in his face.  When he came, it was so intense that he was sure she would shoot straight across the room from sheer force. 

After thanking him, she got dressed and collected her purse.  He made sure to give her his card before she left in case she wanted to get together again.  It wasn’t until after she left that the guilt began to set in.  After just two days since he and Renee reunited, he’d already fallen off the wagon.  Immediately, he began putting a plan in place to cover his tracks.

Jackie Lamont

When Veronica returned to the Yacht Club, she approached a booth in the corner where Jackie was waiting, cloaked in an oversized wide-brimmed hat and large Jackie O sunglasses.  The blonde reached into her purse, outfitted with a hole in its side, and removed a small video camera. 

“You really are a pro,” Jackie told her, rewinding the footage and smiling at the images of the woman bouncing up and down on Kenny’s dick. 

“Best in the business,” Veronica replied with a smile and slid into the booth. 

“This is perfect.”  Jackie reached into her purse and removed a thick envelope full of cash.  She slid it across the table and placed the camera in her purse.  “You earned every penny.  Tell your boss I said thank you.”

Gemma’s always happy to help,” Veronica told her, referring to the biggest Hollywood Madam to come along since Heidi Fleiss.  “Let us know if there’s anything else we can do.”

“This should do it,” Jackie preened, tapping her purse and smiling with victory. 

Alex Reynolds

Alex was on a natural high, thanks to the impeding visit from the court officials from Malawi.  They were to arrive the following day and she had everything in place for their brief stay in Los Angeles.  She’d had Veronique plant a phony tip with the paparazzi that she was spending the week in Napa, thereby reducing chances that they would hound her while she underwent the initial adoption interview.  She made a very public donation to several children’s charities, and ensured that the records from her recent hospital stay were sealed.  She wanted nothing to get in the way of this adoption.  The only thing that could would be hearsay.  Her spill on the red carpet would be chalked up to low blood sugar and the excitement over the film’s premiere.  Cassidy Solomon’s claims were nothing but the raving machinations of a diva scorned. 

The only thing that could bring down her high was an unexpected visit from Kyle Fenwick.  He showed up at her door looking sexy as ever in jeans, a gray t-shirt and his signature five o’clock shadow.  Just when she’d nearly managed to get him out of her head he forced his way back in. 

“I found this behind the dresser at my place,” he told her, dangling a diamond earring from his thumb and index finger.  “I thought you’d want it back.”

“My earring,” she exclaimed, snatching it from him and instinctively touching her earlobe even though she wasn’t wearing the match.  “I’d just about given up on this.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t find it sooner,” he said, slipping his fingertips into his back pockets.  “I only found it because I was at home packing.” 

She looked up, temporarily forgetting about the earring – a gift from James on their tenth wedding anniversary.  “I heard you were working at the studio.  I suppose you’re off to Acapulco?”

“We leave tomorrow for three months.”

“Well, I wish you luck.”   She made a concentrated effort to remain civil.  No sense in throwing a big tantrum just because he dumped her.  That was old news, anyway.  She was on to bigger and better things. 

“Thanks,” Kyle replied, staring at her thoughtfully.  “You look good, Alex.”

“I feel good,” she told him.  She couldn’t have asked for a more perfect time for him to drop by.  Looking good was the best revenge.  Maybe now he would realize what a mistake he’d made. 

“I’m glad,” he said.

“Well, thank you for returning this.  Goodbye, Kyle.” 

After closing the door, she grew flushed with excitement, the same feeling that she got when they first met.

Yes, she was quite sure that he now realized how stupid he’d been by breaking it off with her.  It was only a matter of time before he came back to her.  By then she’d be well on her way to being a mother again.  Maybe she’d have time for him and maybe she wouldn’t.  The point was, she hadn’t lost it after all. 

Stormy Blackthorne

In the corridor outside Alex’s apartment, Kyle waited for the elevator.  When the doors opened and Stormy emerged, their eyes locked. 

“What are you doing here?” Stormy demanded.  “I thought my mother was through with you.”

“Just returning something of hers,” Kyle informed him smugly.

Stormy hoped that was the case and there wasn’t any more to it.  He still believed her to be fragile, and her quest to adopt a baby proved how desperate she was for love and attention.  Despite any proof to the contrary, he still didn’t trust Kyle Fenwick as far as he could throw him. 

Before the elevator doors closed between them, Stormy waved his hand over the sensor so that they remained open.  “Oh, about our meeting today, I wouldn’t take too much offense in my father’s orders.  But let’s face it, stocking the jet with water may be the only thing you have to offer to this film production.”

Kyle grinned.  He saw right through his attempts to dismiss him.  He’d dealt with punks like Stormy Blackthorne before and had no problem putting them in their place. 

“We’ll see about that,” he said, slipping on mirrored aviators.  “But you’ve got a lot more riding on this picture than I do.  It’s your daddy that it’s all going to fall on if you screw up.  I’d watch yourself if I were you.”

When the doors finally closed, Stormy turned and clenched his fists in anger.  He realized he should have gotten in another punch the other day when they were with Brooke in Mexico.  One just didn’t seem to do the trick. 

Deciding to put their rivalry aside for the moment, he proceeded down the hall to his mother’s apartment and knocked firmly on the door.  This would be the last chance he got to talk to her before departing for Mexico and he wanted to make sure they were okay.  Her decision to adopt a baby so suddenly didn’t settle well with him.  He’d never felt more alienated from his mother. 

“Darling, what a surprise,” Alex said when she pulled the door open.

“Hi mom,” he said and entered the apartment.  “I just saw Kyle leaving.  I hope to God you’re not thinking of reconnecting with that son of a bitch.”

“It’s sweet of you to worry, Stormy, but you don’t need to.  I have my hands full with my interview tomorrow.  Right now that’s all I can think about.”

Digging his hands into his pockets, Stormy walked toward her.  “That’s what I really wanted to talk to you about.  Are you sure about this?  Adopting a baby is a huge step.  You already raised two children.  Are you ready to do it all over again?”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Alex said, flitting around the apartment banging cushions and straightening pillows.  “I’d forgotten what a sense of purpose raising children can give you.  And let’s face it, I didn’t exactly do many things right when it came to you and your sister.  This is my chance to make up for that.”

He shrugged.  “I think we turned okay.”

“You did!” she was quick to add.  “You and Miranda both make me very proud.  I just feel like I’ve been given another chance to do things right from the beginning.  Can you understand that?”

No, he couldn’t, but what choice did he have?  He was leaving tomorrow for three months and she was going to be off finalizing the adoption.  It was a little late for trying to talk her out of anything. 

“I just want to make sure we’re still okay,” he finally said, gesturing between them.  “I know I gave you a lot of grief over all the business with Kelly but I want you to know it doesn’t matter now.  I forgive you.”

Tears welled up in Alex’s eyes.  She raced over and pulled him into a tight embrace.  “You don’t know how much that means to me, Stormy,” she said, staring over his shoulder. 

His emotions got the best of him too and quickly blinked away the start of a few tears.  “Listen, we should both be getting back around the same time.  After the movie’s in the can I’d like to come around more.  I don’t know, maybe help out with the little tyke.  She’s gonna need a male influence, you know.”

Alex grinned and pulled away from the embrace.  “I’d like that,” she said.

Holding her hand in his, Stormy started to the door.  He hated the thought of being thousands of miles away from her when she obviously needed someone.  He’d have to trust that she would be okay and that this baby was the thing that was going to make her whole again.

“Good luck with the movie,” Alex said to him as she opened the door.  “By the way, I heard that you got Cassidy Solomon for the role of Lana.”  She screwed up her face and gave him a knowing sigh.  “I hope she’s not too much of a nightmare.”

He grinned in response to her warning, squeezing her hand again while leaning forward and kissing her on the cheek.  

“See you in three months,” he said. 

“Bye baby,” she said, closing the door between them and turning around to her empty apartment.

Brett Armstrong

The next morning, Jordan’s jet took him, Suzanne and Brett to the institution in San Francisco where Heather was undergoing treatment.  The flight was quiet.  Jordan hadn’t brought up his idea of marriage again to Suzanne, presumably because he was in deep thought about his troubled daughter.  Brett held back, positioning himself at the rear of the cabin for fear of letting his feelings show.  He’d become increasingly possessive of Suzanne, and he knew it was a problem because she wasn’t his to possess.  He was married and was on his way to see his wife for the first time in weeks.  Suzanne and Jordan, having been the key to many of Heather’s problems, hadn’t been allowed to see her at all since they brought her there.  But now, Dr. Bouvier, her psychiatrist, believed it was time. 

A car took them straight to the institution.  Another quiet ride.  When they arrived, Dr. Bouvier met them outside at the front entrance. 

“I’m glad you all came,” he said as they gathered by the car.  “This is an important step in Heather’s treatment.” 

“How is she, Dr. Bouvier?” Brett asked as they followed him inside the sprawling facility.  “Has she made any progress?”

“Some,” said the Doctor, a stout middle-aged man with thinning hair and cloaked in an ill-fitting brown suit.  “She still doesn’t remember trying to drive off the cliff with Violet in the car.  She’s still getting the incident confused with her own accident years ago.” 

“But she has remembered the accident?” Jordan asked, fully aware that accident was a sugar-coated way of referring to what happened that rainy night when Suzanne and Heather went over the cliff.  Victor Distefano had rigged the car with Jordan as his intended victim.  Another example of how his ill-fated affair with Sylvie Distefano had shaped their lives for years to come.  “What about Troy’s murder?”

“She remembered during a session a few days ago,” Dr. Bouvier explained, leading them through a string of secured doors.  “Everything from the car accident to witnessing Suzanne killing Troy Beauchamp with an ax.”

Closing her eyes, Suzanne willed the faint images away.  She’d been out of her mind at the time – hypnotized by a madman – and had only vague recollections of that horrible night.  The night that she was taken away from her family. 

“I believe that the key to unlocking her memories is Suzanne,” the doctor went on as they stopped just outside a secured metal door. 

She felt like an experiment, all eyes on her as if she was supposed to know what to do or say.  And how was she supposed to be of any help to her daughter when she’d betrayed her in the worst way?  Her affair with Brett now weighed heavily on her.  The guilt almost too much to bare. 

Dr. Bouvier slid his key card into the reader beside the door and pulled it ajar.  He looked at Suzanne and gestured inside. 

“What am I supposed to say to her?” she asked in a frightened voice.  She wasn’t a psychiatrist.  She hadn’t seen her daughter in months.  How could her seeing her possible help?

“Just talk to her,” the doctor said.  “Try not to give her any information, just talk.”

Glancing at Brett and then at Jordan, she bit her lip and hesitantly slipped inside the room.  Hugging the wall, she gazed across the small bedroom where Heather was sitting in a chair with a rag doll in her lap.  She was pale, her long hair flat and listless, and her eyes were void of the life that had once inhabited them.  She barely recognized her as her daughter.

“Hi sweetie,” Suzanne finally said, stepping tentatively into the room.

Heather’s reaction wasn’t immediate.  She glanced up from the doll, still stroking its yarn hair, and looked at her for a long time.  Finally, she spoke in a soft, unaffected tone.

“Hi.”

The reaction wasn’t what Suzanne had predicted.  Dr. Bouvier had been extremely vague about her state of mind, most likely for good reasons.  She had a feeling she was only there as a test to see how Heather would react.  There were cameras in the corners of the room and a large mirror that she was sure acted as a window into the room.

“How are you?” she asked. 

“Fine,” was her daughter’s brief reply, although it came with much hesitation.  All the while, she compulsively stroked the doll’s hair.  “How are you?”

“Well, I miss you,” Suzanne replied, finally reaching the chair and standing over her.  “We all do.  Me, your dad, Brett, Benji, Violet.”

At last the corners of her mouth hinted at the beginning stages of a smile.  She stood up from the chair and walked to the dresser where she picked up a soft plastic brush.  Probably the only kind she was allowed. 

“That’s nice,” she said, running the teeth of the brush through her hair.  She brushed each side four times, counting out loud with each pass down her limp tresses.  When she was through, she set the brush methodically on the dresser and set the doll beside it where she could look at it.  “That’s really nice.”

Suzanne studied her carefully.  Her smile, which she’d been so happy to see at first, seemed dark and uninhabited.  It sent chills down her spine.   Still, she knew she had to try to reach her. 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t come until now.  Dr. Bouvier thought it was best this way.”  She took a step forward and reached a hand out to her.  “I wanted to come so many times, sweetheart.”

Her movement toward her was met with a swift step in the other direction.  “Brett came to see me,” Heather said, correcting her for no apparent reason.  “He came and showed me pictures of Violet.  My….daughter.”

“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”

“Yes.”  She lifted the doll from the dresser and placed it on the bed.  “Yes.”

“Dr. Bouvier said you’ve started remembering some things in your sessions.  That’s good news.  That means you’re getting better.” 

“She’s beautiful.”

Suzanne was determined not to get upset.   “He said you remembered that night we went over the cliff in the car.  And your brain surgery.”

“It was raining,” Heather said. 

“Yes, yes it was raining.”  At least that was encouraging, she thought.

“You were upset because Daddy had been with another woman.”

Suzanne looked away instinctively.  "He made a mistake.”

Heather looked at her blankly, tilted her head to the side, and then went back to the dresser with the doll.  Picking up the brush again, she combed each side of her hair, again counting out four strokes per side. 

“He said that you remembered something else,” Suzanne went on.  “Something that I did.  Something that caused me to have to go away for a long time.  Do you remember what that was, sweetheart?”

“Did Brett come with you?” she asked, placing the brush on the dresser again.  “He came before, you know.  He showed me pictures of my daughter.  I thought he would forget about me in here but he didn’t.”

“Nobody’s forgotten about you, baby,” Suzanne assured her.  “We think about you every day.”  As soon as she said it, she felt the tears coming on.  How could she lie to her daughter that way?  Yes, she thought about her every day but she was also sleeping with her husband.  She was the biggest hypocrite in the world and she hated herself for it. 

There was a period of silence.  Heather used her arms to act out a series of movements.  She clasped her hands above her head and brought them down toward the doll that rested on the dresser. 

“I remembered when you killed that man with the ax,” she said, repeating the movement a few times.  “But I know it wasn’t your fault.  Dr. Bouvier said you were sick.”

Shivering with remorse, Suzanne began to wonder if her visit was helping her at all.  So far it had only succeeded in making her feel a million times worse about her affair.  Before, it was easy to rationalize it.  Heather was away and she had no idea what her emotional state was.  But now she saw how deeply disturbed she still was.

“That’s right, I was not in my right mind,” she finally told her, tears streaming down her face.  “Mommy was sick like you are now, baby.”

Heather tilted her head, picked up the doll again and sat down on the bed.  With a snap of her head, she looked at her mother.  “Did Brett come with you?”

Jackie Lamont

Armed with the videotape Gemma’s best call girl had acquired for her, Jackie paid a visit to Kenny that evening.  She knocked on the door to his condo at the marina and flashed him a generous smile when he opened the door in slacks and a wife beater.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded.  “Haven’t you done enough already?  If Renee knew that you were here she would-“

“She’d what? Jackie finished for him.  “She already kicked me out of my home.  What else can she do to me?  Besides, this has nothing to do with Renee.  I’m here about my son.”

“David?” Kenny inquired, sighing when she swept inside the condo and sniffed around with an inquisitive nature. 

“Just seeing if we were alone,” she said.  “I’m sure you’d rather this not go outside of these walls.”

“Of course I’m alone.  Who else would be here?”

“Who, indeed?”  She sat down on the sofa and crossed her legs, suddenly all business.  “I understand David had you draw up his new will a few days ago.  I’d like to see what’s in it.”

“I can’t do that.  It’s confidential.”

“I’m his mother, Kenny.”

He shook his head.  “It doesn’t matter.  David specifically wanted his will to remain top secret until….well, until the end.”

“Can’t you just tell me what’s in it?” she asked.  “A summary?”

“No,” he insisted, walking to the door.  “Now if you don’t mind-“

Standing up from the sofa, Jackie clutched her purse tightly over her shoulder.  “I understand you and Renee have recently reunited,” she said with a smile.  “I think that’s wonderful.  She needs a man in her life.”

“Now that you’ve stolen her father’s company, yes, I think she does need me.”

Raising an eyebrow, she got up in his face and challenged him.  “So your days of fraternizing with every available bimbo in town are over, is that what you’re telling me?”

“Long over,” he said with expert confidence. 

“Hmm,” Jackie said, swooping into her giant purse and removing the tiny camcorder.  “Then what would you call this?”

Kenny watched the display as she cued up the video of him in bed with Veronica earlier that day.  Every thrust, every moan, every wave of ecstasy was caught on camera.  Slowly, he closed his eyes and realized what had happened.  He’d been set up.

“That bitch,” he murmured under his breath.   Once he’d gotten over the initial shock of the duplicitous Veronica, he looked back at Jackie.  “I suppose you’re going to show this to Renee.”

“Not if you give me what I want,” she preened.  “David’s will.  I’d like a copy.”

Kenny had been railroaded big time.  When would he learn to stop thinking with his dick? 

Miranda Blackthorne

With Stormy leaving for three months, Miranda had predicted that Eddie would turn to her to take up the slack in his free time.  It didn’t bother her, she of course loved being with him.  He made her laugh and he made her feel special.  Even more than that, he was the most genuinely sweet guy she’d ever been with.   Like today for instance, when he talked about losing his best friend for the better part of the summer, he’d gotten relatively choked up. 

“It’s like….I’m gonna miss him, you know, dude?” Eddie had said, lost puppy dog eyes staring at her.

“Yeah, I do, sweetie,” she’d replied.  “But A, don’t call me dude.  And B, it’s just for a few months.  I’ll try to keep you entertained while he’s gone.  I mean, I know I’m not Stormy but I’d like to think your girlfriend might be better company anyway.”

“Oh, you are!” he had agreed.  “How many times have I told you how bitchin’ you are?  It’s like I can’t imagine not having you around.  Especially now that my best bro is leaving.”

Yes, Eddie was sweet and dumb and attentive.  A match so implausible that it actually worked, and had for several months.  But it didn’t change the fact that she’d had fun with David these past few days, yesterday’s freak-out and all.

While her brother and her boyfriend enjoyed a raucous night out together, she decided to track David down.  He casually invited her to meet him at Spago for an early dinner.  Together, they agreed that their newly revived friendship was refreshingly casual, open, and without strings. 

“I really do feel bad about yesterday morning,” he said, gulping down a glass of pinot noir.  “I shouldn’t have let you jump out of that helicopter.  It was much too dangerous.”

“Too dangerous for me, but not for you?” she asked with chortle.  “David, that’s such a double standard.”

“It’s not a double standard.”

“Get serious!  You’re saying I couldn’t handle it because I’m a woman?”

“Not true.  I’m saying you couldn’t handle it because you’re a princess.”

Mouth open wide in dismay, she playfully tossed a breadstick at his head, which shot over him and beamed the back of an uptight woman at the next table.  When she turned around and gasped in horror, they both urgently stifled fits of laughter. 

“I am not a princess,” she whispered defensively.  “Need I remind you I didn’t go to West Beverly with Stormy and Eddie and Heather?  Too pompous.  I went to Hollywood High.  I was a rebel.  I was never called a princess.”

“I’m so sorry.  I had no idea you were so independent.”

“You’re mocking me,” she said, gesturing at him with the teeth of her fork.  “All I’m saying is I can do anything you can do.  I’ve kept up pretty well these last few days.”

“I’ll give you that,” David conceded.  “Same goes for the rebel thing.  That’s part of your charm, I guess.”

“Okay, first I’m a princess and now I’m charming?” she asked.  “You’re making me sound like a Disney movie.  Not flattering.”

David laughed out loud, picking up his glass and swirling the dark red liquid in a clockwise motion.  “You’re a riot.  I’m gonna miss you,” he said offhandedly.

She laughed in return.  “Why, where are you going?”  At first his off-the-cuff remark didn’t faze her, but when he didn’t answer right away, she knew something must be up.  “David?”

He shook his head, growing suddenly serious.  “Forget it,” he said, folding his napkin onto his plate.  “Listen, we should get going.  I’m sure you want to see your brother before he leaves tomorrow.”

Now she knew there was something he wasn’t telling her.  When he stood up, she grabbed his hand and pulled him back into his seat.   “What’s going on?  Why are you getting all serious?  And if you aren’t going anywhere, why did you say you’re going to miss me?”

“No reason, okay?”  He wanted to drop it, unwilling to tell her the awful truth.  As soon as he did, she would begin to pity him, and that was the last thing he wanted.

“No, not okay.  Tell me right now.  If you’re going somewhere and if I’m never going to see you again then I want to know about it.  You can’t just invite me to go skydiving and never-“

“I have cancer,” he blurted out without thinking.  Anything to shut her up.

The announcement made her stop mid-sentence.  The frustration on her face disappeared and was replaced with sudden and intense disbelief. 

Realizing he had to tell her everything now that he’d said that much, David lowered his voice and spoke quietly across the table at her.  “I have an inoperable brain tumor.  I’ve seen a couple of doctors and they both tell me I have less than a year to live.”

Disbelief quickly turned to despair, followed by a flood of tears that erupted down her cheeks.  She looked down, her hands resting on the edge of the table.  David reached over and placed a gentle hand on hers. 

“I didn’t want to say anything.” he said.  “No one but my mother knows.”

As the news slowly sunk in, Miranda rose to her feet and grabbed her purse from the next chair.  “I have to get out of here,” she said, tearing through the restaurant as fast as she could. 

David, realizing he could have been a little more tactful in his pronouncement, stood up with the intentions of stopping her.  Before he could react, however, she’d disappeared through the front doors.

Bryan Carlson

Bryan watched Jackie’s expression as she paced the floor of her office at Sunset Studios, ecru envelope clutched tightly in her hand.  A steady glow of moonlight illuminated each step she took along the luxuriously carpeted floor. 

“You knew there was a possibility this would happen,” he said.  “David has no heir.  Brooke Taylor was the only option for him.” 

“She’s not the only option.  What about me?  I’m his mother.  She was a mistake that Royce made with that drunk, Roz Taylor.  I can understand him selling his shares of Sunset Studios to her.  I can even understand him giving her part of Moonshadows.  But to hand over Royce’s entire empire to her?  It’s ridiculous.”

“He’s your son and he’s dying,” Bryan said.  “Maybe it’s time to let it go and respect his wishes.”

“What other option do I have?” she demanded.  “The will is iron clad.  Unless I can contest it.”

“You can contest it after he dies but I have to caution you, the chances of your winning are a thousand to one.” 

“You’re supposed to be helping me, Bryan,” she said, stopping her manic pace and resisting the urge to cry. 

“You know I would do anything for you,” he said, starting toward her.  “I helped you take over Merteuil because it was possible.  There just isn’t any way to stop him from giving Royce’s estate to Brooke Taylor.”

Sighing, she sunk onto the sofa in her office.  She refused to let this happen.  She’d already lost so much to Brooke Taylor.

Brett Armstrong

Everyone was lost in their own thoughts during the flight home from San Francisco that evening.  Brett wanted to talk to Suzanne about what happened while she was in with Heather, but he bided his time.  Staring out the window of the plane, he grew wary of intimate conversations between her and Jordan up near the cockpit.  Tears were evident on Suzanne’s face and Jordan did his best to comfort her. 

It should be him comforting her, Brett thought in frustration.

The limo took them to Jordan’s house in Beverly Hills where an agency-employed nanny was watching over Violet.  Jordan announced that he wanted to go up and check on her – obviously emotional after the visit to the institution.  While he was upstairs, Brett followed Suzanne onto the terrace. 

“You have no idea how this day has been killing me,” he said, staring at her beneath the moonlight.  “Not being able to be with you or show you how I feel.  It’s torture.  Can I stop by your house later?”

“I don’t think so, Brett.”

“I need to be with you,” he pleaded, coming up behind and placing a hand on her shoulder.  “We’ve both been through a lot today.”

Shaking her head, she turned to him with tears in her eyes.  “I don’t want you coming over tonight, Brett,” she said as simply as she could.

He saw the hurt in her eyes and decided it wasn’t the time to push.  “Okay, that’s fine,” he said.  “Tomorrow then.”

She hastily jerked away from his touch.  “I don’t want you coming over at all,” she cried, tears streaming down her face.  “I can’t do this anymore.”

Alarm set in and caused Brett to leap to the defense.  “What are you talking about?” he asked, again trying to reach out to touch her.  “Suzanne, you don’t mean that.  You’re just upset.  Seeing Heather like that was a shock, that’s all.”

“A shock?” she asked amidst her tears.  “It was more than a shock, Brett.  My daughter looked at me like she had no idea who I was.  She looked at me but she didn’t see me.  She was a shell.  She’s broken and it’s my fault.” 

“It is not.”

“She saw me kill a man!  I drove her over the edge of a cliff!  Are you honestly going to stand there and tell me that I had nothing to do with what’s happened to her?”

She was more upset than he realized, Brett decided.  Taking her hand, he attempted to pull her into an embrace.  “Look, all I meant was that-“

“Stop it!” she lamented, pushing him away with all the strength she could afford.  “Maybe it’s easier for you.  Maybe you can pretend it doesn’t bother you, but I can’t!  I can’t go on the way we have been knowing I put her in that institution.  By sleeping with you I feel like I’m profiting from her breakdown and I’m sorry but I can’t live with that on my shoulders.”

“You didn’t put her in that institution.  I did.  I signed the papers to have her committed, remember?”

“I’m talking about everything I did to make her snap,” she exclaimed, eyes wide with alarm.  “I drove my own daughter insane and then I slept with her husband.  Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?”

“She’ll never know.  No one will.”

I’ll know!”  Her tone was laced with hostility and revulsion over her actions.  “I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks!  Every time I look at you now I’ll picture her sitting in that room with that damn doll!  Every time you touch me I remember what a horrible mother I’ve been!”

He was at a loss for words.  He wanted to change her mind and to make her see that they were good together, but he knew he couldn’t.  Not now.  Maybe she needed time to process everything. 

“I get it,” he said.  “We’ll cool it for a while.  After you work things out, maybe-“

“There’s nothing to work out,” she told him, forcing herself to appear that she was in control even though she felt far from it.  “What you and I did can never happen again.”

“I don’t think you mean that.”

“I accepted Jordan’s proposal,” she finally revealed.  “We talked about it on the way home.”

Shaking his head in disbelief, Brett stepped closer.  “No, tell me that’s not true.”

“It is,” she said, devastated by the hurt look in his eyes.  Tears began flowing again and this time she couldn’t stop them.  “We’re going to the Justice of the Peace tomorrow morning.  I’m moving back in here with him and Benji and we’re going to fix the mess we’ve made out of our family.”

“Please don’t do this,” he said, chasing after her on her way to the terrace doors.

“I’m sorry, Brett,” she said, still refusing to look him in the eyes.  She hated to say goodbye to the passion they’d shared but she had no choice.

After she disappeared inside the house, Brett turned around toward the flowing green lawns.  Tears welling up in his eyes, he doubled over and braced himself against the railing.  He wasn’t ready for it to be over.  His stomach was in knots at the idea of never touching her again. 

Brooke Taylor

The next morning, the cast and crew of House of Palms prepared for departure, with of course the expected hiccups along the way.  The film’s main stars, Jack Childers and Cassidy Solomon, demanded their own personal space on the Sunset Studios jet, and there was only a certain amount of room.  To appease them, and to avoid starting the production on a sour note, Kyle offered to fly commercial with a few of the crew members.

Brooke accompanied him to the airport, more than a little sad that he was going away so soon after they’d started their top secret relationship.  What if their feelings fizzled over the course of three months?  What if he decided not to come back to L.A. after the movie wrapped?  Any number of scenarios ran through her mind, making their goodbye all the more difficult to swallow.

“We won’t be working every day,” Kyle told her as they charged through the terminal at LAX.  “I can come back and see you on weekends.  It's only an hour flight.  Or you can even come to Acapulco.  We had fun the first time, didn’t we?”

She caught his sly grin and nudged him playfully.  Yes, they had fun, after she got over the pretense of not wanting anything from him.  But now that she had, she wanted it all the time. 

Ambling toward the gate, Kyle caught a glimpse of someone familiar out of the corner of his eye.  By the time he realized who it was, he’d already bumped directly into Bryan Carlson.

“Bryan?” he asked, surprised to find his old friend in Los Angeles.  “What are you doing here?”

“Just doing a favor for a friend,” he replied with a grin.  “I would have looked you up but it was a quick trip.  Where are you off to?”

“Acapulco,” Kyle replied.  “I’m working at Sunset Studios.  We’re going into production on a new film.”

Bryan shook his head with a laugh.  “You said you were going to start over and you did.  I have to give you credit.”  He turned his attention to Brooke.  “Hi.  Bryan Carlson.”

“Brooke Taylor,” she replied, shaking his hand politely. 

“Bryan is my family’s attorney back in New York,” Kyle told her.  “We practically grew up together.”

“Nice to meet you,” Brooke said. 

“Well, nice seeing you, Kyle,” Bryan said and patted him on the shoulder.  “Maybe we can get together when you get back.”

He nodded his vague reply, waving as Bryan headed off to his gate.

“Nice guy,” Brooke said.  “And very attractive.”

“Trying to make me jealous?” Kyle asked, leaning down and pulling her into a deep kiss.  They’d agreed to keep their relationship secret for the time being, but no one was around to care, and he wasn’t about to leave for three months without showing her how much he would miss her.

Alex Reynolds

Alex decided to make a grand gesture and meet the court officials from Malawi at the airport.  She located their flight information and proceeded to the gate where they were flying in to.  Going that extra mile to welcome them and show what a responsible and thoughtful person she was couldn’t hurt, she decided. 

Their plane was late, of course, so she wandered about looking in shops and sipping a cup of coffee.  It wasn’t until she neared the duty free shop that she spotted them.  Kyle and Brooke.  They were kissing passionately near the gate, arms wrapped tightly around one another.  When they broke, they were all smiles, overly friendly and very very intimate. 

Suddenly she felt like a fool.  When Kyle showed up at her apartment the day before she had been certain it was because he’d had second thoughts.  She even considered taking him back after the adoption went through and after he returned from Mexico.  Never in a million years did she think Brooke was still in the picture.  She’d never been a hundred percent certain she ever was until now. 

The disappointment and the humiliation got the best of her.  She reached into her purse and removed her standby, a half bottle of oxycodone that she kept with her as a bitter reminder of what she’d gone through and how far she came to escape it.

Countless times she’d taken that bottle out and looked at it, eager to take just one pill.  Just one small pill to take the edge off.  But each time she thought about her future and the plans she had.  The baby, the new family she would have, and the envy of her peers.  She would put the bottle away and leave it as just that, a reminder. 

This time she couldn’t put it away.  She opened the bottle and fished out two pills, swallowing them with her hot coffee.  


Next time....

Miranda keeps a secret from Eddie.  Alex's dreams are shattered after she hits rock bottom.  Brett acts out in grief. Tensions mount on the set of House of Palms.  Jackie searches for a way to undo David's generosity.

  

 

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