convoy of black Mercedes SUV’s followed in perfect formation along the winding
roads up and down the mountains of Acapulco. Stormy, Cassidy Solomon and Jack Childers in
the first; Steven, Eric Autumn, plus the cinematographer and two lighting
technicians were in the second; and the remaining three transported the rest of
the crew. From the airport where the
Sunset Studios jet had arrived half an hour earlier, the parade caused quite a
spectacle, and drew the attention of two federal police officers.
by one, the vehicles pulled to the side of a particularly narrow stretch of
road overlooking the bay. Stormy thought
they looked more like soldiers as he spied them in the rearview mirror from his
position in the front passenger’s seat.
Armed with machine guns and cloaked in body armor, they approached the
driver, a service Kyle had set up prior to their arrival.
going on?” Cassidy complained. She was
wrapped in a head scarf and large round sunglasses, determined to protect her
identity from any random fans they met along the way. So far there had been none. She fanned her skin as the driver put his
window down and began speaking to the police in rapid Spanish. “It’s hotter than hell out there,” she
quiet,” replied Jack Childers, her infamous co-star in House of Palms. He was a
distinguished looking actor in his early sixties complete with over-dyed hair
gelled neatly to the side, perfectly manicured fingernails, and a paisley ascot tied loosely around his
neck. “It’s a routine traffic stop. It’s for our own protection.”
will not be quiet,” she said indignantly while leering at him from behind her
upturned nose. After she regarded him
for a good sixty seconds, she finally continued, “just because you lived here
thirty years ago doesn’t mean you’re an expert.”
about you both be quiet,” Stormy said
daringly, watching as one of the officers walked around to the passenger’s side
while the other proceeded back to inspect the other vehicles.
repetitive tap to the glass with the butt of his rifle prompted him to lower
his window. He swallowed hard, nervous
about the intimidating weapon waving before him. Routine traffic stops in L.A. were nothing like this. He figured it was just that – an intimidation
there a problem?” he asked.
man leered at him for several seconds, inspecting the floor around him and the
passengers in the back seat. Cassidy and
Jack remained silent.
speak Spanish?” he asked.
shook his head in reply.
offering a look of irritation, the officer continued in broken English, “what
brings you to Acapulco?”
filming a movie. We’re with Sunset
Studios in Hollywood.”
a movie star?”
“No. I’m an executive.” Hadn’t they gone through customs
already? What was with the questions, he
wondered. “Is there a problem?”
responded by holding a hand up between them.
“Relax. I tell you if there’s a
problem. Where are you staying? Las Brisas?”
“Yes.” He figured he knew because it was the most
famous hotel in the city and celebrities often stayed there. Jack had insisted on it as opposed to the
Continental Hotel where they’d stayed last time.
very nice,” the officer said with a grin and a smile. “You have passport?”
“Why? I was already granted access to your
country,” Stormy answered.
give it to him,” Jack announced from the back seat. “They make money by trying to sell it back to
officer reacted to the outburst by lowering his weapon from its position
against his shoulder. Aiming it toward
him, he took on a threatening glare but didn’t respond with words. An automatic rifle pointed through the window
at him was enough to shut Jack up.
me your passport,” said the officer again.
glanced at the driver, hoping for some kind of guidance but the man simply sat
staring at the floor. Finally, he
decided to do as the officer asked. They
didn’t want any trouble. He assumed they
only drew attention because of the sheer spectacle of their arrival. Hesitantly, he reached into his carry-on and
removed his passport. The officer
quickly took it from him and opened it to the middle section.
long you be in Acapulco?”
months,” Stormy replied. He noticed the
second officer approach the window, apparently finished inspecting the other
vehicles. “Our visas are in order.”
The other officer nudged his partner,
pointing to the back seat. He mumbled
something in Spanish and before long they were engaged in a rapid fire
conversation that none of them could understand. Jack knew bits and pieces but was no longer
as fluent as he used to be.
talking about you,” he whispered to Cassidy.
about me?” she whispered under her breath.
as I can tell, it’s about Summer and that video on your website.”
she exclaimed angrily, suddenly unconcerned about keeping her voice down. “How dare they? You tell them that I don’t appreciate being
the subject of their disgusting jokes.”
really want me to tell them that?” he mused.
tried to tune out their bickering. As he
did, the officer turned his attention back to him.
have filming permits?” he asked.
“Yes. They’re on file at the Mexican Film
Commission.” He was suddenly tired of the
interrogation. Yes, they were guests in
their city but they had broken no laws and had every right to be there. “Look, how long is this going to take? We have a lot of work to do.”
need to come with us,” the officer said, suddenly serious again.
his head in frustration, Stormy grew increasingly belligerent. “No,” he said.
“No. I’m not coming with you. Look, I respect your laws but none of us have
done anything wrong. You can’t make me
officer regarded him carefully, then went for the door handle. Stormy issued the driver a stern order to
pull away. In the back seat, Cassidy
looked on with alarm.
you crazy? Do what he says.”
ignored her. He rolled up the window and
waited as the SUV pulled out onto the road.
He knew that the driver supported his decision or he would have refused
to move. He knew the locals better than
they did, after all.
now they’re going to come after us,” Cassidy complained.
they won’t,” the driver suddenly announced.
“They knew they had no authority.
They were just trying to see how far they could push you.”
not real police?” Stormy asked.
they are real police. But some police in
take advantage of Americans who come here to visit. Watch what you do and where you go. Stay in contact with your American
told you,” Jack said, watching through the rear window as the rest of their
convoy followed in line. “Look, they’re
not even following us.”
was still risky,” Cassidy said, fanning herself with a magazine. “Would
somebody tell me why I agreed to spend three months here?”
you got fired from that soap,” Jack reminded her.
gave him a wry expression and buried her face in her magazine. In the front seat, Stormy tried to shake off
the frustrating run-in with the police.
Checking in with the American Embassy once they got to their hotel
wasn’t a bad idea. They had a lot of
work to do, and as much of a spectacle as their group was, he didn’t want to
risk attracting a lot of unwanted attention and falling behind schedule. His father would never let him forget it if
Brisas was a typical high rise hotel nestled into the side of the mountain overlooking
the bay. It seemed to be fairly
deserted, and then Stormy remembered it was off season in the small resort
town. The spring breakers had gone and
the inhabitants of the area were preparing for their rainy season. He hoped the weather didn’t put a crimp in
their shooting schedule. Another factor
he failed to consider during pre-production.
the crew unloaded into the open-air lobby, Eric Autumn entered with Steven
following close behind.
the hell, Blackthorne?” he barked when he spotted Stormy checking in at the
front desk. “Jesus, we’re here for
twenty minutes and you already get us pulled over by the fucking police? I thought you had this shoot under control.”
I could do anything about a traffic stop,” he mused, slinging a bag over his
maybe if you’d picked a slightly less ostentatious method of transportation
from the damn airport then we wouldn’t have looked like the Kardashian’s
rolling into Acapulco.”
arranged the transportation,” Stormy informed him. He handed him and Steven their room keys with
a belligerent flick of his wrist. “Blame
him when he gets here.”
across the lobby, they could hear Cassidy raising hell with a startled front
desk agent. “I thought I asked for a
two-room suite. I require one room for
myself and one for my clothes. I don’t
sleep in my clothes, nor do I sleep with
siento,” the wide-eyed young man said.
“I’m sorry, Senora Solomon. There
are no more two-room suites.”
she gasped and slapped her hand down on the counter. She turned her head and glared at Stormy and
Eric. “I knew I should have insisted my
manager come with me. What the hell kind
of slipshod treatment is this? Do they
have any idea who I am? I’m an Emmy
winning actress, goddammit.”
Stormy went to her and exchanged room keys.
“Here, take mine,” he said, refusing to let her continue with her
tirade. He intended to use the two-room
suite himself because he needed the extra space for production materials, but
it was soon becoming clear that whatever Cassidy wanted, Cassidy got.
took his key with a sigh. “Does this
have an ocean view?” she asked and turned her head to the agent.
was something to be said for flying commercial, Kyle thought as he and the
assorted crew members made their way to the hotel that afternoon. He’d escaped the diva-like antics that
Cassidy, Jack and Eric would undoubtedly bring to the flight from Los Angeles,
and clearing airspace on a private jet was always more problematic than a
commercial airliner. Because of this, it
put him into Acapulco
only an hour after the others had arrived.
the twenty-minute ride from the airport, he thought about calling Brooke to
check in with her. He’d just seen her
that morning when she took him to the airport, so maybe it was too soon. Didn’t want to seem too eager. Besides, it would be at least a couple of
weeks before they got a break and he could fly back to see her. Better to space out their communication so as
not to confuse the situation.
arriving at the Continental Hotel, he approached the front desk and attempted
to check them into their rooms. To his
surprise, their reservations had been canceled.
do you mean canceled?” he demanded, staring at the agent from behind mirrored
aviators. “Our entire crew is staying
here. We should have thirty rooms on the
sorry, someone canceled the reservations yesterday.”
canceled them?” Kyle demanded, louder this time.
The woman simply
shook her head with a blank expression.
with frustration, he plucked his cell phone from his back pocket and called
Stormy who inexplicably told him they’d relocated to Las Brisas. Without wanting to get into it over the
phone, he loaded everyone back into the van and went back up the mountain.
the hell?” he exclaimed when he found Stormy in the lobby with Alejandro from
the Mexican Film Commission. “Ever think
of telling me that you changed our hotel reservations?”
looked at Alejandro and then at Kyle. “I
thought I did. Jack and Cassidy insisted
we stay here. I told you yesterday.”
sorry. It was an oversight.”
folded his arms across his chest and chuckled to himself. “An oversight?” he asked. “Right.
You intentionally didn’t tell me.
would I do that?” Stormy demanded as he stood up from the chair.
you’re trying to exclude me, that’s why.
But what you don’t seem to understand is that wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t
Stormy held a hand up in an effort to quiet him. “If you start going on about your father’s
screenplay again I swear to God I’ll freak out.
Get a clue, Kyle. If it wasn’t
this movie it would have been another one.
Stop acting like you’re the glue that holds this studio together.”
you little punk,” Kyle said, removing his sunglasses and staring him down. “I’m here whether you like it or not.”
don’t like it.”
your father does, so get used to it. And
isn’t that what this is about? You’re
afraid you’re going to fail with this movie and I’m going to look more
competent to James? You’ve disappointed
him before. What’s once more?”
to let him get to him, Stormy turned back to Alejandro and lowered himself into
his chair. “You’d better the crew
checked into their rooms. We have a busy
over the encounter, Kyle stormed off to the front desk. Whether the mix-up with the hotels was
intentional or not, he could see a battle brewing over the course of the next
first day of filming took place at the estate on the outskirts of the
city. Set high up in the mountains, the
hacienda style home was the ideal location for the Andrews homestead. In the first scene of the script, Lana and
Edward Andrews, a Texas-based oil-rich family, were touring options for their
Mexican summer home. In the title role
of the film, the house and its inhabitants would become the focus of the
Eric gave Cassidy and Jack their direction for the scene, Stormy checked in
with the director of photography and the sound and lighting crew. Steven assisted with taking pictures of the
set to ensure continuity from day to day, and Kyle took on the role of security
to ward off the growing group of spectators.
Their security guy who’d traveled with them from L.A. had made the mistake of drinking too
many margaritas the night before. At six
a.m., he was in no condition to travel up the mountain. So once again, Kyle was reduced to menial
work that should be taken care of by the crew.
lunchtime, the security guard had made it to the location. Kyle promptly fired him and ordered him back
to the states. Stormy, having worked
with the three-hundred pound man on Angel
Assassin 2, rehired him immediately after.
The challenge over authority spurred another confrontation.
just spent the entire morning fending off a group of rabid fans while your
security guy was sleeping it off back at the hotel,” Kyle protested in front of
the entire production crew. “How dare
you usurp my authority.”
his eyes, he attempted to go about his duties.
“I don’t have time for this,” he said and turned away.
make time,” Kyle insisted, pushing him forcefully.
stopped in his tracks and turned back to him.
He retaliated by giving him a quick shove backward. “Mike’s been working for my family for
years. This is the first time he’s done
anything like this. If I say he’s not
fired, then he’s not fired.”
I say he’s dead weight and we don’t need him,” Kyle fired back. He stepped forward, taking on a threatening
blows were about to be exchanged, Mike the security guard doubled over and
vomited next to the caterer’s table.
They both turned in his direction and simultaneously moaned with
how many margaritas did you have?” Jack Childers asked from his makeup
not just Mike,” Steven remarked after jogging up to the group. “The lighting assistant and the grip are both
puking their guts out in the bathroom.”
Stormy raged, running his fingers through his thick black hair. “Did they all get shit faced together or
other guys only had one drink each. Mike
was the only one who got drunk.”
was probably the water,” Kyle decided.
“Most places around here don’t use filtered water for their ice.”
slapped his hands to his sides and grimaced at the pool of vomit on the ground
beside the food table. “Brilliant. Our second day here and we’ve already got
three guys down.” He turned to
Steven. “Can you get them in the van and
take them back to the hotel?”
quickly, Steven went to round up the three ailing crew members.
what?” Kyle murmured aloud.
racked his brain and came up with the only solution he could. “Some people will just have to double up on
duties, that’s all.” He looked
around. “Where’s Eric, anyway?”
saw him talking to one of the fans a while ago,” Jack said and motioned to the
blockade separating the throng of onlookers.
scouted around the area, checked a couple of the rooms inside the house, and
finally found their director in the makeup trailer with an exotic looking local
he’d noticed earlier amidst the group of onlookers. The girl, Marisol, who was no older than
eighteen, leaned over a vanity in the trailer while Eric, hot and sweaty,
fucked her vigorously from behind.
you mind?” Eric asked in bated breath as Stormy stood in the doorway in
awe. The girl shrieked with delight,
barely acknowledging the interruption.
his head in aggravation, Stormy ducked back outside and closed the door. So far the first day of filming wasn’t going
as smoothly as he’d planned. What else
could go wrong?
they decided what to do about the unexpected illnesses within the crew, Kyle
ducked into the van and texted Brooke.
It had been a day since he’d left Los
Angeles so it seemed appropriate to contact her, and
not at all pushy. She’d made it clear
she wasn’t the type to respond to pushy.
What are you doing?
Having lunch with Miranda at my
office. How is Acapulco?
Chaos, of course. Lonely night last night. Too bad you aren’t here.
No one to do it in the shower
He couldn’t resist adding the last
message. The night before he left,
they’d made love several times, and in the morning he surprised her in the
shower and they had an amazing experience under the flow of rushing water.
steamy vision would have to carry him for a while, he realized. At the rate things were already going, they
wouldn’t get a break for some time. So
much for making a weekend trip home anytime soon.
around the side of the sprawling tree-strewn house sent alarm bells in his
head. Quickly, he bolted from the van
and raced to the clearing where they’d set up the next shot. What he saw only cemented his assumption that
they were in development hell.
dressed only in his underwear with his pants around his ankles, was writhing
on the ground as a large Hispanic man was kicking him in the ribs. Standing to the side with a defiant look in
her eyes was Marisol, the young girl he’d been screwing only minutes
the-“ Kyle began as he approached Stormy.
several crew members went to intervene in the attack, all Stormy could do was
stand and shake his head. “Eric was
caught dipping into the native pool and her boyfriend didn’t seem to like it
get him out of here. The last thing we
need is to lose our director.”
Stormy asked sarcastically.
turned his attention to Eric who was being led away by the other crew members,
bruised but still standing on his own two feet.
The Hispanic man yelled after him, a string of rapid Spanish phrases
that Jack quickly interpreted for them.
friend isn’t too happy about a cocky white man moving in on his girlfriend,” he
whispered. “He threatened to rip off
his….um….well, his cock if he ever looked at her again.”
what I expected,” Stormy sighed.
also said we all needed to watch out backs,” Jack went on. “Another incident like this one and he’d sick
his friends on us.”
Kyle asked with a raised eyebrow.
motioned to the tell-tale bulge protruding from the back of the man’s
pants. Stormy and Kyle immediately
recognized that he was carrying a gun.
of gangs around here, Amigos,” Jack cautioned them. “I suggest we keep to ourselves as much as
possible while we’re away from the hotel and resort areas.”
thinking,” Stormy agreed, eyeing the large Hispanic man as he grabbed his
girlfriend and drug her off through the crowd.
Their eyes locked momentarily and for a few seconds he felt intimidated
for the second time since their arrival.
to Stormy’s irritation, they woke up on their third day in Acapulco to driving rainstorms. After checking the L.A. Times on his iPad, he
realized they were getting the same weather up at home. Sighing, he decided they would have to
reorder their shoots for the next few days.
Instead of outdoor scenes today, they’d move indoors, which of course
meant extra work for their grouchy wardrobe girl and particularly from Lenny
Korvanski, makeup artist extraordinaire.
he flipped through the pages of the paper, he came to the society section where
plastered across the front page was his mother’s most recent head shot,
complimented with an inset photograph of her being led into Promises Treatment
Center. Below was a one-page article
detailing her breakdown at L.A.X., the disastrous attempt at adopting a
Malawian baby, and finally her admittance to the rehab center with James by her
froze in his upright position in the bed of his room at Las Brisas. Quickly, he set his coffee cup down and
attempted to call his father on his cell.
No answer. He called the house
and Leilani told him he was in meetings all day. She filled him in on what she knew about Alex
and then said she’d tell James he called.
After hanging up, he couldn’t help but feel out of sorts with the new
information. She’d seemed so hopeful
when he went to see her the day before he left.
He knew she wasn’t as together as she claimed, but he had no idea she
would hit rock bottom in such a heartbreaking way. At least his father was there to take care of
her, he thought. Unlike Jordan, who
appeared to have remarried his ex-wife the day before. It seemed that much had happened in the few
days he’d been gone.
trying to call Miranda, who also didn’t answer, he finally settled on phoning
Brooke. Her cell went straight to voicemail,
indicating that it must be turned off.
a resigned sigh, he climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom to take a quick
shower before they gathered the crew and headed back up to the house. Despite the rain, he was determined to get
more done today than they did yesterday.
As long as there were no more unplanned illnesses and Eric could keep
his dick in his pants, then they should be good.
New York City
“Are you there?”
Bryan Carlson asked as he paced his office.
“Sorry,” she said.
“I’m here. I just can’t stop thinking
about David and him giving everything to Brooke.
If he wasn’t my son I would seriously have to wonder where his head
“She’s going to
become a very wealthy and powerful woman in a matter of months,” Bryan told her, feet
propped up on his desk. “She could be a
dangerous enemy to have.”
suggesting I befriend that little pop tart, are you?”
He laughed. “No, I know better than to suggest the
nothing I can do about it,” Jackie said with a sigh. “She’ll inherit everything and I’ll be here
struggling to take back what her and James and everyone else stole from me.”
“Where is she
now? It’s the middle of the day and
you’re bashing her at the office. Watch
out or you’ll have another cat fight on your hands.”
“Oh, she’s on her
way to Acapulco. Something about checking up on production
schedules. God, she’s got such a
“Interesting,” Bryan said. “I saw her at the airport when Kyle
left. They seemed pretty close. He always did go for the pretty ones.”
croaked. “She can stay down there for all I care.
As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t mind if she disappeared somewhere in Mexico and was
never heard from again.”
Bryan grew silent for
several seconds while he dissected her innocent remark. “That would certainly count her out of
David’s will. Might even push you right
up to the front of the line.”
She sighed with
defeat. “Oh well. What’s done is done. She’s getting it all. Like I said, there’s nothing I can do about
casually and mild-mannered as ever. “You
dismissed his remark with an incredulous laugh.
“Aren’t you getting tired of listening to my little dramas? You are the acting head of Fenwick
Industries. A huge shipping conglomerate
like that must take up a lot of your time.
You make it look so easy. If only
I had someone like you to help me with Merteuil.”
always happy to help,” Bryan
said with a wink. “I’ll be back in L.A. in a day or
two. Why don’t you give me a crack at
your books and I’ll see what I can do?”
so sweet,” Jackie said.
worry. I’ll take care of
a day of shooting at the estate in the mountains, the crew returned to their
hotel, tired and drenched from the continuous downpour. When Kyle arrived at his room, he heard soft
music playing from outside on the patio, outfitted with its own private pool. The soft glow from the lights poured into the
room. He proceeded with caution, plagued
with trepidation over their stay in Acapulco
so far. Assuming everything as a threat,
he grabbed the nearest instrument he could use as a weapon. The first thing he found was the iron from
onto the terrace, he came to realize there was no threat, but definitely a
welcome surprise. Slowly, he set the
makeshift weapon aside.
didn’t realize these were shark infested waters,” he grinned, staring down at
Brooke who was luxuriating in the nude beneath the water.
you calling me a shark?” she asked coyly, moving to the ledge and leaning over
the side of the pool. “I’m not sure how
I feel about that.”
are you doing here?” he asked, kneeling down and knotting his fingers through
couldn’t wait to see you,” she said, pulling him toward the water. “Kept thinking about that shower we shared
the other morning.”
happened to being discrete?”
“What? I’m here to check up on production. And it just so happens that the hotel is sold
out so I’ll have to share a room with the most drop dead gorgeous guy in the
with excitement over her bare breasts peeking ever so slightly above the
surface of the water, he began to quickly undress. He stripped off his shirt, dropped his jeans
and underwear to the floor, and jumped into the water. Instantly, their lips met in a long, hot
anyone ever tell you swimming in shark infested water was dangerous business?”
Brooke asked between hurried kisses. She
placed her hands on his muscular arms and savored the taste of his mouth on
“Sure. Can’t you feel how fast my heart is
beating? I’m terrified.”
she led him to the side of the pool and straddled him on the ledge. “Let’s see if we can’t get that heart rate up
by her soft, smooth skin and perfectly formed curves, Kyle lifted her into his
arms and carried her inside to the bed.
Placing her soaking wet body gently against the pillows, he lowered
himself on top of her and brushed his lips across her neck. Shrieking with delight, she guided him inside
of her and felt her entire body tingle when they were joined.
they talked for hours, thought about ordering up some food, but fell asleep in
each other’s arms before they could.
streaming through the windows of the hotel room, Brooke awoke shortly after six
o’clock and watched Kyle sleep for a few stolen moments. She smiled, unable to take her eyes off of
his boyish face and finely sculpted body.
Was she crazy for getting this wrapped up in a man again? After a string of bad relationships and
broken hearts, she’d swore off men for a while.
Time to work on herself, she’d promised. But this was different. She and Kyle had agreed to take things
slow. Right now they were having fun,
and fun was exactly what she needed.
Serious stuff would come later.
Disappointment did not enter the line of possibility.
off the bed, she wrapped her naked body in a robe and proceeded to the
terrace. The pool looked inviting. If they had time she decided she’d like to go
for a swim before the day’s activities began.
gazed over the railing from the terrace, taking in the beautiful surroundings
of steep rock cliffs and sandy beaches.
A group of people were gathered across the road where the ground began
its descent into the bay. In the
distance she heard the sound of sirens.
She glanced around and then turned back to the growing crowd, noting
disturbing looks of horror on their faces.
Something big must be happening, she decided.
hesitating about waking Kyle, she decided to venture out herself and check
things out. She quickly threw on shorts,
a t-shirt and running shoes, and after tying her hair into a ponytail, she proceeded
down to the hotel lobby. Stark white
faces and more looks of horror met her every few feet.
she went outside and started across the road where the developing group of
spectators had gathered. Lining the road
along the descent to the beach, a group of federal police officers had
gathered, armed with automatic machine guns and body armor. She strained to see what the commotion was
about, and when the crowd parted and she finally saw, she wished she’d stayed
in her room.
the blood-stained ground, covered in bullet holes, was the headless corps of a
man. She felt bile instantly rising from
the pit of her stomach at the horrific sight.
Taking a step back, she threw her hands to her mouth and quickly turned
away. It was an exhausting struggle to
keep from vomiting from sheer nausea.
Never had she seen anything as grotesque.
in the instant she opened her eyes again, she saw a similar situation several
yards down the road. More spectators,
more police, and an ambulance that loaded a blood-soaked body into its
turned and started to retreat to the hotel.
She bumped directly into someone lurking from behind. A shriek tore loose from her throat until she
realized it was Kyle. He turned her face away and placed his arms tightly around
look,” he said with a grimace.
clung to him tightly, confused and horrified by the devastating events that had
started the day off.
hotel manager said the victims were locals,” Eric said an hour later as they
gathered in the lobby. “And they
probably had drug ties.”
many?” Brooke asked, sitting between Stormy and Kyle on a sofa, her skin green
Kyle interrupted, rubbing her back with the palm of his hand. He ignored an inquisitive look that Eric shot
him. “They were killed somewhere else
and their bodies were dumped here. The
cartels have done this before. It’s a
warning to their rivals.”
they sure they weren’t killed here?” Brooke asked. “I mean, they were right outside our
hotel. It could have been any one of
would have seen something,” Eric assured her.
“They dumped them here sometime during the night.”
they don’t target Americans,” Kyle interjected.
“These drugs wars have been going on for years.”
wasn’t like this in the eighties,” Jack objected. “Discos and g-strings is all anybody cared
about back then.”
groaned, fully aware that Jack wasn’t helping to settle Brooke’s nerves.
I don’t care what this place was like in the eighties, it’s a war zone now,”
Cassidy piped in. “I’m not staying.”
Stormy asked. “You can’t leave.”
me,” she snapped, pacing the area before them with a mimosa gripped tightly in
her hand. “You all can stick around and
get turned into swiss cheese or have your heads chopped off, but I’m not about
to join you.”
grimaced at the visual, setting her coffee cup on the table beside them. She shot to her feet and raced off to the
bathroom. After she’d gone, Kyle and
Stormy exchanged harried glances.
have a contract, sweetheart,” Eric maintained, turning his attention back to
Cassidy. “You’re not going anywhere.”
hell I’m not,” Cassidy proclaimed. “If
you’ll all read my contract carefully, you’ll note that there’s a clause I had
my manager include precluding me from filming in any location that I deem
unsafe or hazardous to my health. I
think two headless corpses twenty feet from my hotel room warrants a hazard.”
were drug dealers,” Stormy insisted. “These
people just don’t go around killing American visitors.”
just what if they decide to use one of us as a warning to their rivals?”
Cassidy exclaimed. “Forgive me, but I
don’t want to be the next corpse you find on the side of the road when you wake
characteristically quiet in the corner of the sitting area, welled up with
tears as the bickering continued. What
no one seemed to care about was that two people were dead – butchered in the
most violent way imaginable. Whether
they knew them or not, it was a tragedy that seemed to be overlooked in light
of their own fears. He contemplated
saying something, but instead kept his thoughts to himself. No one would listen to him anyway.
let’s just take the day and stay close to the hotel,” Kyle suggested. “The forecast calls for more rain
anyway. Give some time for this thing to
blow over and then we’ll pick up filming tomorrow.”
way,” Stormy insisted.
don’t think anyone’s in the mindset to work today,” Kyle argued. “Besides, the authorities are telling
everyone to stick to the resort areas.”
long do you think we can do that before we go over budget?” exclaimed
Stormy. “A day? Two, maybe?
We’ve already lost time and money because of everything that’s happened
since we’ve been here. No, I’m not
putting the studio or this film in jeopardy."
I’m not going up to that house today,” Cassidy maintained, arms folded sternly
across her chest.
looked around the group, realizing everyone felt the same way as she did. He threw his hands up in resignation, willing
to concede but knowing it would have dire consequences.
he said with a chuckle and shot Kyle a frustrated look. “We’ll take today off. Just today.”
that, he turned and headed back to the elevators. After he left, Cassidy accepted a fresh
mimosa from the waiter and started off on her own.
be in my suite,” she said, flouncing off dramatically.
not leaving,” Eric announced
leaving the lobby, she turned back and regarded him carefully. “Well, we’ll just see what my lawyer and my
manager have to say about that.”
by one, everyone retreated to their rooms, leaving Kyle and Eric standing in
the lobby. Before Kyle could turn and
leave, Eric stopped him with a tug at his sleeve.
did you lie?” he asked.
ran a hand over his stubbled chin. “What
do you mean?”
said two people were found murdered. You
and I both know it was thirteen.”
you want a full-scale panic on our hands?
You saw them just now. We tell
them they found bodies up and down the bay this morning - all victims of drug retaliation – and we
might as well close this production down right now. The less they know the better.”
want to lie to them?” Eric asked. “How
is that going to help matters?”
prevent Cassidy Solomon from flying home and the rest of the cast and crew from
losing it. This is only the first week
of production, Eric. We still have a
whole other group of actors coming down in two weeks. If we can get through this then we might have
some chance of getting this film made.”
conversation was interrupted when Brooke emerged from the bathroom. She approached them warily and smiled as Kyle
placed a hand on her back. All
discussions about the morning’s events stopped for her benefit, and for the
benefit of the movie.
had dinner with Alejandro in the hotel dining room that night. They discussed the day’s events and the
challenges they’d met with production of the film. Alejandro’s advice was both comforting and
disorienting all at the same time.
warned you that Guererro was in a volatile situation right now,” the young
Hispanic man said. “These drug wars are
something we’ve learned to live with.
Even the hotels and the resort industry are immune to it. It’s like smog in Los Angeles.
A nuisance that you learn to live with.”
people are being murdered. Surely even
you can’t be that cavalier about it.”
but it doesn’t concern me. It shouldn’t
concern you either. Stay out of the way
and you and your crew will be fine.
These people aren’t interested in you.”
just caught in the crossfire,” Stormy surmised.
isn’t happening because of you. It’s
happening in spite of you. Keep control
of your people and they’ll overlook you.
Just don’t draw attention to yourselves.”
replied with a wry smile. “That’s a
little hard to do with Jack and Cassidy.
Thirty people traveling up and down the mountain every day in a convoy
of black Mercedes isn’t exactly easy to keep under a low profile.”
returned the smile. “Just keep to
yourselves and you’ll be fine.”
as soon as Stormy began feeling the slightest sense of relief, chaos from
outside the hotel sent him back into a tailspin. Screaming, followed by a bright flash of
light, then a thunderous explosion sent him flying to his feet. They both tore through the restaurant,
through the open-air lobby and into the front porte-cochere. There, engulfed in flames that shot up into
the night sky, was a car surrounded by startled onlookers.
and Kyle heard the explosion from their room upstairs. They raced to the terrace and looked down at
the front drive where a car had exploded into flames.
the hell happened?” she asked in a panic.
shook his head, afraid of what the answer would be. He grabbed a shirt from the chair and headed
for the door. Brooke, wary of another
incident, grudgingly followed him.
minute later, they met up with Stormy and Alejandro on the front drive. The car was still ablaze, onlookers standing
by gawking at the fiery spectacle.
bomb,” Alejandro said with certainty.
“I’ve seen this before. This is
another move from one of the drug cartels.”
why here?” Brooke asked. “First the
bodies dumped in front of the hotel and now this? Why are they targeting this hotel?”
and Stormy looked at each other blankly.
Even Alejandro had no explanation for the seemingly coincidental
closed his eyes, throwing his head back as the young girl from the makeup
trailer gave him a world class blowjob.
They were a half mile down the beach, him standing against a tree and
her on her knees working him to an explosive orgasm.
stop,” he groaned, eyes rolling back in his head. “I’m coming.”
He didn’t care if
she had a brute of a boyfriend who’d kicked the crap out of him. This girl had expert lips and knew how to
please him. The fact that she sought him
out after the incident at the filming location was a thrill in itself. Who was he to turn her down?
Steven walked down
the beach, hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, and stopped when he came to
two Hispanic men standing by a jeep.
“Hey amigo,” one of
them said. He pulled something from his
pocket and approached Steven. “You got
the money this time?”
replied, handing a wad of cash over to him.
The other man
counted the money. “It’s not enough,” he
said and started to hand it back to him.
“What can I get for
The man handed him
a tiny ziplock bag of cocaine. “You take
this tonight. You get me more money and
I get you more cocaine. It’s alright?”
said, pocketing the bag.
“Hey amigo, you
said you were from Hollywood. What’s wrong that you don’t have any money?”
“I’m in college,”
he said. “I’m here with a movie
studio. We’re filming a movie up the
“You with some
movie stars, amigo? Who? Jennifer Aniston? Angelina Jolie?”
He shook his head
and dropped Jack and Cassidy’s names, neither of which impressed them too
much. After a couple minutes of them
talking in Spanish to one another, he said an awkward goodbye and headed back
toward the hotel. Halfway there, he
stopped and snorted half the bag.
Coke had been something
he’d dabbled in for the last few weeks since helping Benji and Duke set Jeff
Branigan up. He’d never been exposed to
it much before, but since then couldn’t help his curiosity. That curiosity had branched into a weekly
Replacing the bag
in his pocket, he proceeded back to his room.
rear cargo doors of the equipment van hung off their hinges, a high-pitched
squeak echoing through the storage unit as metal scraped against metal. Inside the van were the remnants of their
camera equipment – the bulk of it nowhere in
Stormy exclaimed and hit his fist against the van door, causing it to finally
break from its hinges and fall with a crash to the floor. He jumped back, veins throbbing in his
forehead as he tried to wrap his head around what had happened.
did they get in here?” Brooke asked as she stepped in line behind Kyle and
who?” Eric interjected.
shook his head angrily. “I don’t know,
but whoever it was, they got away with hundreds of thousands of dollars of
equipment. Now what are we supposed to
better call the authorities,” Brooke suggested.
“File a claim or something? I
this isn’t L.A.,
Brooke,” Stormy snapped. “The Mexican
police haven’t exactly been helpful in any of the disasters we’ve encountered
since we’ve been here. What do you
expect them to do?”
grew silent, understanding that he was upset but at the same time put off by
his snarling at her.
time to go to the American Embassy,” Kyle said, sweating from the heat inside
the storage unit. He turned and walked
outside with Brooke and Eric close behind.
standing back next to the van, stared miserably into the empty cargo area. How could this be happening? They’d been so careful. The van was locked up every night, safely out
of view. Who would know what to look for
or where to look for it?
he slammed the remaining van door closed and watched as it too collapsed to the
beneath the awning outside of the American Consulate, Kyle and Brooke watched
the rain hammer down onto the streets.
There was no good time to make a run for it, so they bolted toward the
awaiting taxi cab. By the time they got inside,
they were already soaked.
a short ride back to the hotel, they were deposited beneath the porte-cochere
safely out of the elements. Stormy,
Jack, and Steven were waiting in the lobby as they approached with bleak
expressions on their faces.
did they say?” Stormy asked eagerly.
his head with frustration, Kyle led Brooke toward the group. “They said they’ll investigate the stolen
camera equipment and get back to us.”
it?” Eric inquired.
Jack mused, martini in hand.
they going to question anyone?” Stormy asked.
“Did you give them the list of what they took?”
we gave it to them,” Brooke replied.
“They didn’t seem to have any insight as to who was involved.”
Stormy groaned, turning and trying to decide what to do next.
didn’t seem very surprised,” Kyle went on.
“They said certain groups target tourists and visitors from America who
they consider wealthy.”
haven’t exactly kept our reasons for being here a secret,” Eric pointed
out. “Or kept to ourselves.”
not with you banging the locals,” Stormy barked.
he argued. “What about Kyle and his
choice of transportation. Thirty of us
rolling around town in tricked out Mercedes’ hasn’t exactly kept us under the
what? This is my fault?” Kyle moaned
defensively. “What about Cassidy going
around acting like Joan Crawford? Those
scarves and sunglasses don’t hide anything.
She draws more attention to herself than a pack of cigarettes in prison.”
isn’t going to help,” Brooke interrupted.
“We’ve got to figure out what to do now that our equipment is gone. Without it there’s no movie. I think we should call James.”
it,” Stormy exclaimed. He refused to go
to his father with his tail between his legs.
He’d given him enough reasons to doubt him over the years. This movie was supposed to be his chance to
have no choice,” Kyle told him.
in charge. We’re not calling my father.”
his head with contempt, Kyle took a step toward him. “This isn’t the time to flex your pride
muscles,” he began. “Nobody cares about
your daddy issues. This involves
everyone here and you sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to-“
part of I’m in charge don’t you
understand?” Stormy raged. “We’ll work
on something else while the Consulate looks for our missing equipment. This doesn’t have to mean we’re done.”
have no cameras!” Kyle shouted. “I know
you didn’t just fall off the truck but I’m not sure you’re getting the picture
work around it!”
Kyle bellowed, pushing toward him.
aggravated and feeling cornered, responded by delivering a powerful blow to his
jaw with a closed fist. Kyle stumbled
back, but quickly reacted by charging toward him and pummeling him to the
it!” Brooke exclaimed, turning to Eric with pleading eyes.
guests stopped and watched. Before Eric
could do anything to break up the fight, two hotel security guards raced over
and separated them. Stormy, struggling
in their grasp, leered at Kyle with fury in his eyes.
isn’t helping anything!” Brooke yelled, placing a hand on Kyle’s forearm. “Look, nobody is thinking straight right
now. Let’s all just step back and cool
off for a while.”
to back down, Kyle lunged at Stormy again.
The security guard stepped between them, holding him at bay as Stormy
glared defiantly. After an intense
stare-down, they finally turned away and went their separate ways.
leading Brooke off to the corner of the lobby, winced from the pain in his
jaw. He breathed heavily, fuming over
just as frustrated as we are,” Brooke told him.
“Maybe more. You don’t know James
the way I do. Disappointment is a
cardinal sin to him.”
the taste of blood in his mouth, Kyle leveled his eyes on her and took her by
the shoulders. “I want you to go back to
she said, shaking her head.
not safe here,” he told her. “Our being
here has caused a spectacle and we need to readjust our priorities. That means anyone who doesn’t have to be here
needs to go home.”
not going anywhere,” she insisted.
not asking you. I’m telling you.”
regarded him carefully for a few seconds, holding her anger at bay while she
considered her words. “I own half of
Sunset Studios,” she said very calmly.
“Which makes me your boss. I
don’t take orders from you or anyone else so believe me when I tell you you do
not want to go around telling me what to do.
I’m staying until we figure this thing out.”
knew she meant business. In the months
he’d known her, he had learned that she wasn’t the type to be pushed
around. With a tentative nod, he
hesitantly agreed to drop it.
the corner of his eye, he could see Stormy leering at him from across the
lobby. Their coming to blows was
inevitable. It had been building the
minute he joined the project. Something
told him their battle had only begun.
Carlson never in a million years thought he’d find himself in prison one
day. Granted, he was only visiting, but
it was still surprising to him. Yet he’d
found himself associating with criminals on various occasions. He was a corporate attorney but had dabbled
in criminal law on a few isolated occasions throughout his career. What he’d seen was that life on the inside
was hell for anyone who’d had the misfortune to experience it.
that day, an inmate at the California State Prison would go in front of a
parole board who would decide if he’d served adequate time for his crimes, a
list too long for Bryan to remember as he was led to the visitors area.
was brought through the prison yard, past a troupe of
female prisoners who were being temporarily housed
in the south wing while they awaited release. Several
of them made whistling noises and obscene remarks as
he passed. He couldn't help but grin. Once
they arrived in the men's wing, the
guard opened a door to a recreation room and gestured to a seat positioned
across a table from a hulking Hispanic man with unkempt facial hair and bulging
your attorney, Mr. Pacheco," he responded, noting the giant tattoo of
a scorpion that covered most of his right arm. “I’m
helping you with your parole hearing.”
a public defender?”
Bryan shook his
ain’t got no money amigo.”
smiled. “That’s okay. I think we can help each other out.”
lobby of the Las Brisas hotel was scattered with police officers. Brooke, Kyle, and Steven watched the
proceedings from a safe distance, unsure of what was happening but realizing it
was something serious.
hotel employees, Hispanic men dressed in crisp uniforms and gold nametags, were
being led out of the building in handcuffs.
Positioned throughout the area were machine-gun toting Mexican
Stormy and Alejandro arrived, they quickly met up next to the bar.
going on?” Brooke inquired.
found your stolen camera equipment,” Alejandro explained.
police have been investigating employees of the hotel,” Stormy explained. “They just arrested two of them for
involvement with the cartels. They
admitted to stealing the equipment.”
we get it back?” Kyle asked, thankful that things were finally looking up.
also connected the dealers to the car explosion the other night,” explained
Stormy. “The investigator said the
dealers were branching out from the cartels and they retaliated, which is
probably also why they dumped those bodies in front of the hotel.”
watched carefully, recognizing the two men as the ones he’d bought cocaine from
on several occasions throughout the week.
He hadn’t realized they also worked at the hotel. Paranoid thoughts about them implicating him
as a buyer filled his head. When one of
the dealers glanced in his direction and smiled knowingly, he decided to make
himself scarce. Without anyone noticing,
he disappeared toward the elevator bank.
God it’s over,” Brooke said, clutching to Kyle’s side. “Does that mean we can go back to business as
talk to the investigator and see if we can get your equipment released as soon
as possible,” Alejandro offered while patting Stormy on the back. “With any luck you’ll be back in business by
were exchanged all around. Kyle hugged
Brooke happily and then turned to Stormy.
Wordlessly, they went their separate ways.
a batch of bloody mary’s in her room at the Yacht Club, Jackie eyed Bryan from a few feet
away. He lounged on a chaise wearing
only a pair of silk boxer shorts, his laptop and an assortment of papers strewn
out before him. His phone was tucked
between his ear and his shoulder as he made one brief phone call after another. Impressed by his ability to multi-task,
Jackie proceeded toward him and handed him his drink which he accepted with his
only free hand.
tomorrow,” he was saying into the phone.
“It’s got to be tomorrow or the deal is off.” A pause while he took a sip of his
drink. “Well if you can’t get them ready
for launch and delivered on schedule then I’ll go elsewhere.”
listened intently, her nightgown billowing behind her as she moved around to
the back of the chaise and began massaging his bare shoulders. When she asked him to take a look at
Merteuil’s assets, she had no idea he would be this thorough. It already seemed as though he were wheeling
and dealing her way to major success.
was that all about?” she asked when he ended the call.
just like I said I would.”
looked over his shoulder and read a few lines from an email on his
computer. “What does Merteuil need with
two freighters? I thought we had a fleet
of ships already.”
he told her. “Those are for oil and
gas. These are for finished goods. You need to diversify your product
what industry are we tapping into?” she asked, reaching down and running her
hands over his chest.
cane and vanilla,” he replied, setting his laptop aside and pulling her onto
exciting,” she mused with a roll of her eyes.
“If I was Betty Crocker. Are you
sure you know what you’re doing?”
thought you trusted me. Didn’t I tell
you I would take care of everything?”
she said, shivering when he brushed his lips over the top of her cleavage.
helped you acquire Merteuil Industries and now I’ll help you put it on
top. I might even be able to help you
keep David from giving away his fortune.”
so good to me,” she said, flushed with excitement as he kissed her passionately
on the lips.
After a week in Mexico, things were finally looking
up for House of Palms. The forecast called for clear skies for the
next few days, the Mexican authorities had returned the stolen camera
equipment, and the illness that plagued several crew members had run its
course. Even Cassidy had begun to
behave, content with the assumption that the violence in the area had
Brooke decided to stay one more day before
returning to L.A. Her visit, with its original purpose of
spending time with Kyle, had taken a different turn, but they’d still managed
to enjoy one another’s company. After a
full day of filming at the estate on the mountain, they returned to the hotel
and enjoyed a relaxing dinner together.
you’re beautiful,” Kyle told her over a candlelit dinner in his room.
smiled and looked down bashfully. It was
never easy for her to accept a compliment.
To her, there were always flaws prohibiting it.
took her hand and pulled her up from her chair.
He devoured her with kisses, salty lips thoroughly exploring her
mouth. A warm breeze carried in through
the open terrace door. Gently, he led
her toward the bed and lowered himself on top of her. They undressed one another slowly, their skin
hot and damp from the humidity. Once
they were naked, their limbs knotted together, he leaned in and whispered in
love you,” he said softly.
response, a deep, urgent kiss, was followed by the words she never thought she’d
hear herself say again. “I love you.”
was impetuous and crazy. Four days ago
she was sitting in her office telling Miranda how she refused to let herself
get too involved with Kyle. It was
supposed to be a casual, care-free romance.
Great sex and mutual respect.
Now, after spending a few tumultuous days together in Mexico, she was
positive that things had taken a different turn. She was head over heels in love with
him. She wanted to tell everyone. Forget keeping things under wraps. This feeling was too good to keep to
had passionate sex that lasted for hours.
Every shiver of excitement he’d given her up until then paled in
comparison to what he did to her that night.
She’d never experienced so much ecstasy.
It was raw and filled with emotion.
fell asleep in each other’s arms, the breeze billowing inwards and cooling
first thought, Brooke wondered if Kyle was growing amorous again. Through the thick blanket of darkness in the
room, she could hear movement all around her.
She struggled to see what was going on but couldn’t make out a single
shape. It wasn’t until she started to
raise her hands did she realize she couldn’t.
Her shoulders strained, she came to the conclusion that her hands and
feet were bound by something. Her eyes fluttering, it soon became clear that
she was blindfolded. Opening her mouth
to scream, she then realized she’d also been gagged.
and confusion set in quickly. She
struggled about on her back, cringing when she was pulled from the safety of
the bed and hoisted up over someone’s shoulder.
Muffled screams escaped her throat and strained against the sick
smelling cloth that held her tongue in place.
During the commotion, her blindfold slipped ever so slightly and she
could see Kyle slumped over on the floor of the room. A man went to grab him and Kyle struggled,
pushing him away and attacking him mercilessly.
It was then that she heard a sound that sent her recoiling in
terror. It was unmistakably the cocking
of a gun.
her go!” Kyle was screaming. He grabbed
the gun from one of the men with lighting fast reflexes, using it to butt him
hard against the forehead.
felt movement and within seconds they were outside on the terrace. She could smell the chlorine from their
private pool. Loud voices permeated the
night. Machine gun fire exploded in her
ears. In the not so far distance she
could hear struggles and what sounded like Stormy yelling for help. Where was he?
What happened to Kyle? Who was
doing this to them? A million thoughts
raced through her mind, and, after an unnerving descent from the terrace, she
found herself being thrown onto a hard metal surface. Her heart thudding inside her chest and
nausea rising from the pit of her stomach, she could sense others around
her. Muffled screams echoed through the
paralyzed for several minutes, she heard the roar of an engine followed by the
sound of car doors closing all around her.
Yelling in rapid Spanish emanated through the night, followed by more
machine gun fire outside. She realized
she was in some kind of vehicle – a van maybe.
Her theory was confirmed moments later when it took off at breakneck
speed, sending her crashing into someone laying mere inches away.
smell of gunpowder and blood filled her senses.
The muffled screams and cries that she’d heard moments before now ceased
to exist. She felt alone and frightened
and had no idea what was happening to her.
out of a dead sleep by the sound of the phone ringing, Jackie turned on the
bedside lamp and took note of the time.
Who could be calling her in the middle of the night? An emergency, she decided. Maybe it was David. The cancer had taken hold of his body and he
was reaching out to her, the only one who’d stood by him over the years.
groggy but startled awake by the prospect, she quickly went for the cordless
phone and sat up in her bed.
connection was muffled. Static filled
the line and she answered again, this time louder.
“Hello? Who is this?
a deep voice finally broke over the line.
It was unmistakably male, but definitely not David.
“Yes, this is
Jackie Blackthorne. Who is this?” She threw the covers off of her. In one fluid motion, she flew off the bed
and rose to her feet.
“We need Miss
Taylor’s date of birth.”
“What?” Brooke’s name did not enter her head right
away, but she soon made the connection to the name. “What do you mean her date of birth?”
“There was a
mix-up,” the man continued. “We need to
know approximately how old Brooke Taylor is.”
The question didn’t
even make sense to her, but still she responded amidst her confusion. “She’s in
her early thirties. Why? How did you get this number?”
“Did you say early
Silence followed. She ran her fingers through
her hair and began stalking back and forth on the thick pile carpet.
“Hello?” she asked,
growing annoyed. “Are you there?”
“There’s been a
delay. We’ll report back soon. Can we get confirmation the freighter will
still arrive on schedule?”
Alarms went on
inside her head. She placed a hand over
her mouth, her thoughts immediately going to Bryan.
What had he done? And how did it
involve Brooke Taylor?
“Can we get
confirmation the freighter will still arrive on schedule?” the deep voice
“Yes,” she said,
unsure of what deal Bryan
had made. “Yes.”
“We’ll be in
line went dead and Jackie stood frozen on her feet. She lowered the phone from her ear and let
her mind go in a thousand directions.
Her instincts told her something was very wrong, and it had everything
to do with Bryan Carlson.
regarding the incident in Acapulco. Miranda doesn't
want to lose David. Jackie frantically searches
for Bryan. Brett can't get Suzanne out of his
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