In Acapulco, Stormy, Brooke, Kyle
and the cast and crew of House of Palms were confronted
with several setbacks during the first week of filming.
A string of drug-related murders rocked the hotel
where they were staying. Jackie complained to
Bryan about David leaving Brooke everything in his will.
Bryan arranged for a Jorge Pacheco, a prisoner
at the California State Prison, to be released on parole.
Later, he arranged for a new division of Merteuil
Industries to begin transporting finished goods via
freighters. Brooke awoke in her and Kyle's room,
blindfolded and bound by the hands and feet. A
struggle ensued and she found herself thrown in the
back of a moving van. Later, Jackie received an
ominous phone call by a man asking for Brooke's date
of birth. When she asked why, the man told her
there had been a mix up and wanted to confirm that the
freighters would still arrive on schedule.
had been awake since three o’clock in the morning. After the mysterious phone call asking her
for Brooke Taylor’s date of birth, she racked her brain for a possible
explanation. The caller, with his deep
and ominous voice, hadn’t revealed himself.
She didn’t know who he was or where he was calling from. The only thing that made sense to her was the
mention of the freighters that Bryan
had purchased for Merteuil Industries.
She’d heard him arrange their delivery.
But what didn’t make sense was how it involved Brooke. Playing over and over in her mind like a
broken record were Bryan’s
recent remarks, which at the time seemed harmless enough.
I’ll take care of everything,” he’d said on more than one
promise was in response to her complaining about David willing his entire
estate to Brooke. She’d conceded that
there was nothing she could do about it now.
“You never know,” had been his harmless
then appeared to be an off-the-cuff remark was now filled with innuendo. Hoping to put her mind at ease, she tried
calling him on his cell. No answer. She knew even in the early morning hours he
always made himself available by telephone.
It was the nature of his business as temporary head of Fenwick
Industries. The fact that he did not
answer her call sent alarms going off in her head.
four o’clock she decided to call his office.
It was three hours later in New
York and he was usually up and around early. After a few rings, the answering service
Industries,” said the woman.
unavailable. Can I take a message?”
sighed in frustration. “Do you know
where he is?”
sorry. This is the answering service.
I’d be happy to take a message.”
the room, Jackie tucked the phone beneath her ear and poured herself a cup of
hot coffee. “I don’t want to leave a
message. Is anyone in his office? His secretary?”
their phones are still forwarded to us.
If you don’t want to leave a message I would suggest calling back
“Fine. Please have him call me. My name is Jackie Blackthorne. He has the number.”
this an emergency?”
it’s an emergency.”
“What is the nature
of the emergency?” asked the answering service.
She of course
couldn’t get into her wild theories with the total stranger, so she struggled
for a plausible emergency that would get him to call her back as soon as
possible. Nothing immediately came to
mind. “It’s personal,” she finally
said. “And very urgent.”
There were a few
moments of silence followed by a snippy, “I’ll see that he gets the message.”
and uncertain that the message would even get to Bryan, Jackie hung up and called his cell
phone again. It rang a few times and
went to voice mail. She left another
it’s Jackie. Call me as soon as you get this.”
that, she hung up and decided to get dressed.
She couldn’t stand pacing around her small room at the Yacht Club
anymore. She had to do something to get
to the bottom of whatever was going on.
She’d wait another hour and then call his office again. By that time his secretary should be in the
office and maybe she’d have some indication of where Bryan was. This was definitely not the time for him to be
ignoring her calls.
swept into the solarium at the Blackthorne mansion and gave Miranda a peck on
the top of the head. Michael, crunching
on a bowl of Cheerios, flashed a crooked smile at him and giggled when he
ruffled his shock of blond hair.
another one, Uncle James!” the five-year old grinned, pointing to the gap
between his front row of teeth.
can see that!” James said with a hearty laugh.
“I hope the tooth fairy dropped by last night and left something under
her father a look, Miranda shook her head.
“The tooth fairy forgot,” she said, recognizing that she may not be
mother material just yet. “She fell asleep watching Jimmy Kimmel.”
smiled and sat down across from them.
“Well, I’m sure she’ll come tonight when you’re home in your own
bed. Excited to see your mom?”
he replied jubilantly while thrusting his spoon in the air. “Adam is too!”
“Great. Who’s Adam?”
friend.” Michael gestured to the empty
seat beside him.
ask,” Miranda mouthed to her father with a grin.
laughed and thanked Leilani as she brought him a plate of poached eggs and
buttered toast. “What time are you
picking Brooke up?”
checked her watch and quickly stuffed the last bite of her grapefruit into her
mouth. “Now,” she said, standing up and
dabbing Michael’s mouth with a napkin.
“Her flight gets in at eight.
Traffic’s going to be a bitch so we should get going.”
said the B word!” Michael shouted as he jumped down from his chair.
that was bad,” Miranda said, then walked over and kissed James on the
cheek. As she did, she pulled his plate
away from him and handed him a muffin and a grapefruit. “And so is your Uncle James.”
James is bad?” Michael asked, all serious.
James said as Miranda handed the plate off to Leilani.
“That’s my breakfast.”
many times have I told you you need to lower your cholesterol,” Miranda
said. “You’re not getting any younger,
Daddy. And Leilani knows that. Dr. Farraday wants you on a strict diet.”
Miss Miranda,” Leilani said. “He bribe
wasn’t a bribe,” James said defensively.
“It was more of a….bonus.”
him an incredulous look, Miranda took Michael by the hand and led him out to
the foyer. “Yes, Uncle James is very
bad,” she said to him. “What should we do about that?”
him a time out!” he yelled as they made their way to the front doors.
got to his office at Rydell Productions early that morning, the same as very
day for the last week. Throwing himself
into his work, into the gym, and into his daughter’s happiness were the only
things keeping him sane since his affair with Suzanne ended so abruptly. The last time he’d seen her, a rainy night in
her bedroom over a week ago, she’d told him under no uncertain terms that it
was over. Still, he hadn’t been able to
take his mind off of her. She was all he
thought about. Not seeing her caused
major withdrawal symptoms and he found himself searching for reasons to see
she said timidly as she stepped into his office.
turned and smiled, taken by her radiant beauty and ethereal quality that he
found so refreshing. “Thank you for
you said you wanted to talk to me about Violet.” She slowly made her way inside the
office. She wore a summery wrap dress
and clutched onto a bright yellow purse.
”That’s the only reason I came.”
know you miss seeing her everyday,” he said, making a calculated effort to
showcase his best assets. Sleeves rolled
up to his elbows to expose his muscular forearms; white teeth flashing; and a
baby blue shirt to bring out his eyes.
All things that she’d adored about him.
Cheap tactics, but she was asking him to play dirty. “I don’t want this distance between us to
keep you from her.”
Suzanne asked buoyantly. “I’m so glad
you feel that way because I’ve been so upset about it. I haven’t seen that little girl in over a
week and I miss her like crazy.”
his hands in his pockets, he leaned casually against his desk. “She misses you too,” he said, unsure whether
she did or not, but if it helped his case then he’d say anything.
you sure this is okay with you?” Suzanne asked, hands clasped before her. “I mean, I know you were hit pretty hard when
Jordan and I got married. That night you
came to the house drunk and…”
should be in Violet’s life,” Brett told her.
do you want to bring her by the house, or...” she started to ask before
clumsily dropping her purse to the floor.
Slowly, she knelt down to retrieve the items that had spilled out onto
the rust colored carpet. Brett quickly
went to assist.
before her, his hand grazed across hers and remained there for a few lingering
moments. Just outside the door, Benji
appeared, stopping before he walked in and interrupted the seemingly intimate
moment. With calculated efficiency, he
stood aside and listened intently.
got it,” Suzanne said, avoiding looking him in the eyes. She grabbed the hairbrush and slipped it into
her bag. When Brett’s hand didn’t move
from hers, she paused and allowed their eyes to meet.
need you, Suzanne,” he said, caressing her hand in his. “I miss you.”
she whispered, looking away again.
that really what you want?” He waited
for an answer and when she didn’t respond he moved in closer, brushing his lips
gently against hers. Within seconds,
they were engaged in a long hot kiss.
to allow things to go any further, Suzanne broke away and rose quickly to her
feet. She placed a hand over her
forehead while tugging her purse tightly over her shoulder.
are you doing?” she demanded angrily.
“You lured me over here under the pretense of talking about Violet? How could you? I told you this was over.”
know what you told me but I don’t believe you.
I can see it in your eyes. You
still want me every bit as much as I want you.”
wrong,” she said, shaking her head with tears burning her eyes. “I’m married, Brett, just like you are. Whatever we felt for each other in the past
was a mistake. The sooner you accept that
can you say that?” he demanded, stepping closer to her. “You told me no one had ever made you feel
the way I did.” Pausing, he placed a
hand gently alongside her face. “Does Jordan make
love to you the way I do? Does he make
you feel as good as I do?”
it.” She turned away, unable to look him
in the eyes. If she did, she knew she
would be unable to leave. As it was, it
was already a struggle to make her way to the door.
to my condo tonight,” he told her. “Tell
you’re going to have drinks with Renee or James or somebody. I’ll send Violet to the sitter. We can be alone. No one has to know.”
she cried, backing up away from him and putting her hands up defensively. “I can’t be with you, Brett. Can’t you get that through your head?”
shook his head. “Tonight around eight
o’clock. Please, Suzanne.”
a strand of chestnut hair from her eyes, she turned and went to the door. As she did, Benji quickly darted back around
Brett,” she said with as much willpower as she could manage.
watching her leave, he turned and leaned over his desk, angrily punching his
fist against the hard wooden surface. He
wondered if he’d only succeeded in making things worse.
Jackie arrived at Sunset Studios, she stalked out of the elevator and headed
straight to her office. On her way,
James met up with her and issued a casual good morning, which she ignored in
her haste to get to the phone. Leaving
him perplexed in the hallway, she closed her office door, threw her bag and
sunglasses on the sofa, and slid into her chair. She immediately started dialing Bryan’s cell phone
“Bryan, you need to call
me,” she said. “It’s urgent. I got a strange phone call last night. They were asking me about Brooke and then
they wanted to know if the freighters would still arrive on schedule. They said there had been some kind of
mix-up. If you’ve done something that I
need to know about then….just call me.”
she hung up, James opened the door and walked tentatively into her office,
regarding her with his usual air of suspicion.
“Everything okay? You seem
fine,” she said with an irritated sigh.
Nothing to tell him about yet.
She still had no idea what was going on or if anything was going on.
“If you don’t mind, James, I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
don’t do anything,” James said with a
sarcastic grin. “What on earth could
possibly be that important?”
she said, pushing a wisp of hair from her face. She tapped her fingers nervously on the
desk, willing him to leave so she could continue her search for answers, and
for Bryan Carlson.
I’m expecting an update from Stormy today on the first week of filming so if
you want to-“ His sentence was cut short
by the sound of his cell phone ringing.
Drawing it from interior chest pocket, he glanced at the display and
realized it was Miranda calling.
“Miranda?” he answered. “What’s
Daddy,” Miranda said, holding Michael’s hand as they stood in the crowded
L.A.X. terminal. “Did Brooke call you
and say she was switching her flight?”
I haven’t heard from Brooke. Why?”
wasn’t on the plane,” Miranda explained, searching every face in the crowd that
came from the line of international gates.
frowned. “Are you sure? Maybe she hasn’t gotten off yet.”
gotten off,” she said, steering Michael back toward her when he started to run
off. “I thought she might have been
delayed in Acapulco
possible,” James replied. “But she knew
you were picking her up. I’m sure she
would have called. Why don’t you head
home and I’ll see what I can find out.”
listened intently. Stirring in the pit
of her stomach told her that something was very wrong. Before jumping to conclusions, she continued
listening to the phone call. After James hung
up, she shifted uneasily in her seat.
was supposed to fly home today but she wasn’t on the plane.”
swallowed hard as a chord struck in her mind.
Her unsettled feeling turned to one of all out panic. What had Bryan done?
Suddenly the ominous phone call in the middle of the night took on an
even more foreboding meaning to her.
she took a later flight,” she suggested casually.
was already on his phone calling her.
“It goes straight to voicemail,” he indicated.
her fingers on the phone, Jackie prayed he would leave so she could make
another attempt at calling Bryan. Still, he stood firmly in her doorway.
are you calling now?” she asked as he made another call.
he replied. After a few seconds, he got
his son’s voicemail and left a breezy message.
“Hey son, it’s your Dad. Call me
when you get this. Miranda was supposed
to pick Brooke up at the airport this morning but she wasn’t on the plane. Wondering if she was still there with you and
probably on location,” Jackie remarked.
“Why don’t you let me try to call Steven and see if he knows anything?”
ahead,” James said, remaining in his standing position.
picked up the phone and regarded him with irritation. “You can go back to your office. I’ll let you know when I find something out.”
his hands up in resignation, he turned and walked out of the room. As soon as the door closed, she dialed Bryan’s office in New
time a different woman answered.
I’d like to speak to Bryan Carlson please.”
Carlson is not in the office today. Can
I take a message?”
sighed. “Is this his secretary?”
this is Monica.”
this is Jacqueline Blackthorne,” she said, gazing two offices down through the
glass walls where James was pacing back and forth on his phone. “I’m a business associate and friend of Mr.
Carlson’s. I really need to get a hold
of him today - as soon as possible - but he isn’t answering his cell
phone. Do you know where I can reach
sorry, Mrs. Blackthorne, I don’t. All he
told me was that he wouldn’t be in the office today. I can leave a mess-“
had to have told you where he was,”
she snapped. “For God’s sake, he’s the
head of a multi-billion dollar corporation.
He can’t just take the day off without leaving a forwarding number.”
few moments of silence followed before the young woman replied as politely as
possible. “Mrs. Blackthorne, I don’t
know how to reach him today. I’d be
happy to take a message and make sure that he-“
don’t want to leave a goddamn message!” Jackie shrieked, flying up out of her
seat and gripping the phone tightly in her hand. “I need to talk to him now!”
sorry, I don’t know what to tell you.”
her eyes briefly, Jackie resigned to the fact that the woman wasn’t going to be
of any help. “All right. Please do give him the message if he checks
in. It’s very important.”
will tell him,” Monica said and hung up.
disconnected the call while searching for a number on the cell phone. Once she had retrieved it, she quickly dialed
another number. The call went directly
to voice mail.
it’s Jackie. You'd
better call me as soon as possible.
told you to update me on everything that goes on down
there. I'll be expecting your call."
hung up, rose from her desk and began pacing the office. When James reappeared in her doorway, she
looked up and recognized the stark white look of panic on his face.
is it?” she asked, almost afraid to ask.
just talked to Lenny Korvanski down in Acapulco,”
he said slowly. “Something’s
recognized she was having a panic attack.
Slowly, she sat down in her chair and waited for the news.
drove home from the airport and sent Michael to his room to play. She hoped that her father would call back
soon because if she had to return to the airport later to pick up Brooke, she’d
have to reschedule an afternoon rendezvous with David.
had been over a week since they professed their feelings for each other in the
rain outside the bungalow at Moonshadows.
Since then they had gotten together nearly every day. The sex was still phenomenal, but aside from
that they shared so much more. Laughter,
tons of jokes, serious talks about their inner most secrets, and his concern
over hurting her when he died in less than a year. Were they in love? She didn’t know for sure. What she did know was that he made her feel
good and that was all that mattered right now.
had been on an intensive case for the better part of the week, so she’d managed
to avoid the guilt over cheating on him up until the moment she walked into the
kitchen and saw him cramming a sandwich in his mouth. Fried Spam, one of Leilani’s Hawaiian specialties. The moment he looked at her with his
expressive brown eyes and goofy smile, the guilt hit her and hit her hard. She immediately questioned her recent
activities. Why was she carrying on with
David when she had a man who adored her and had never done a single thing to
“Hey babe,” he
said, mouth full, squeezing her tightly in his arms. “Guess what?
I cracked the case. Turns out the
wife of that CEO had another guy on the side and spent their retirement funds on a
chalet in Switzerland. Dude sent her packing. Can you believe it?”
“That he sent her
packing?” she asked.
“No, that she was
stepping out on him. And with her
trainer! How cliché.”
“Maybe she couldn’t
help herself,” she replied defensively.
“Or maybe she and the trainer had some kind of connection. The universe sometimes has plans, you
know. I mean, you could be going through
life perfectly happy thinking that you have everything you’ve ever wanted and
then one day out of the blue you meet someone that makes everything make
bite of the sandwich into his mouth, Eddie waved a hand through the air. “I saw the trainer. Six foot five and two hundred and thirty
pounds of muscle. The only thing that
made sense to her was between the sheets, if you know what I’m talking
Rolling her eyes,
she turned and started out of the kitchen.
Eddie followed her back into the foyer while swigging from a glass of
“What did I say?”
he asked with a shrug.
replied, realizing she had overreacted.
She honestly didn’t think of herself as a bad person. After all, she didn’t mean to hurt Eddie. She
didn’t want to keep secrets from
him. Her connection with David was
fate. Maybe the wife of the CEO and the
trainer had experienced the same kind of phenomenon. Who was anyone to judge?
“Hey,” Eddie said,
pulling her close again. “I’ve missed
you. I’m sorry that I’ve been so
preoccupied with work lately.”
“It’s okay,” she
said somberly, shaking her head.
“No, it’s not. Let’s go out tonight. Just you and me. Then we’ll go back to my place and…..you
“I can’t. I have Michael.”
“Oh, well I’ll come
here then. We’ll watch movies and after
the kid goes to bed we’ll hit the sheets.
What do you say?”
But she had plans
with David this afternoon. Secret
plans. They were supposed to meet up at
the bungalow in a little while. How
could she go from being with him to seeing Eddie that evening and not feel like
a complete skank? As much as she hated
to admit it, she wished Eddie was still on his case. Yes, she wanted to see him but she also
wanted to spend more time with David.
Who knows? Maybe the thing with David would be over soon. She’d get it out of her system and she could
refocus on her relationship with Eddie.
God, she sounded like a selfish bitch.
“Um…” she began,
saved when Leilani appeared with David steps behind. Her eyes flashed open wide. What was he doing there? Did he see them hugging? What a stupid question. What difference did it make? David knew she was with Eddie. He knew what he was getting into when they
started their affair. No reason to feel
interrupt,” David said grimly.
Miranda said, jumping away from Eddie.
“We were just talking. What’s
up? What are you doing here?”
“James just called
me and told me to meet him here,” he announced.
“It sounded serious. Do you know
what it’s about?”
Miranda shook her
head. “No, I don’t. I just talked to him an hour ago and he
seemed fine. I was supposed to pick
Brooke up at the airport but she wasn’t on the plane. He said he was going to try to get hold of
“Did he get hold of
“I don’t know. Maybe that’s what he wanted to talk to you
The three looked at
each other blankly, wondering if there was something to be concerned about
regarding Brooke’s failure to get off the plane.
the exchange between his mother and Brett, Benji headed home for the day. This time it wasn’t a made up excuse to get
out of his stupid job, but instead a direct order from his brother-in-law himself. It was clear to Benji that what had
transpired with his mother had upset him a great deal. So much so that he couldn’t even concentrate
on work. Everyone left, halting
production on Ocean Avenue. It was then that he
realized just how bad Brett had it for her.
On the way home, he
realized he’d been right to question the alarmingly sudden re-marriage of his
mother and father. It wasn’t a marriage
based on love. They were together for convenience
and to provide a stable home for
their family. What he didn’t understand
was why. He was nineteen years old – almost
twenty. He’d been raised by professors
and head masters at boarding school.
He’d given up hope a long time ago that they would ever be a family
again, particularly since he spent fifteen years thinking his mother was
Now all he was left
with was resentment and anger. This time
directed at his mother. After everything
that had happened – everything his father did to protect him, to protect all of
them – she was treating him like dirt.
If his morality was ever in question, it was because of their doing.
home, he found them having lunch on the terrace with Renee DeWitt. He’d walked through the back yard and spotted
them before they spotted him, then ducked behind a rose-covered trellis a few
“Does Kenny think
there’s anything he can do to get Merteuil Industries back from Jackie?”
Suzanne was asking.
Renee shrugged and
stirred a packet of sweetener into her iced tea. “He’s working on some things but it doesn’t
look good. She owns the majority of the
shares so unless she decides to sell them back to me, she remains in
“I’m so sorry,” Jordan told
thinking about her father and the fact that he would roll over in his grave if
he knew what had happened. “I know this
sounds terrible, but part of me hopes she runs it into the ground. It would serve her right.”
“Try not to worry
too much,” Suzanne went on. She had
never had a mind for business so she felt a little ridiculous trying to give
her advice. Rather than drag it on for
too long, she expertly changed the subject.
“At least Sierra is done with school for the semester. Will she be coming back for a visit?”
“I don’t know,”
Renee replied. “I hoped so, but she and this
Hunt Roberts character are quite serious.
She said something about spending the summer with him and his family on Shelter Island.”
“It’s good that she
has a solid, upstanding man at her side after all the disappointments she’s
been through,” Jordan
remarked. “Finding out her father was a
child molester could have swallowed her up but it didn’t.”
“And let’s not
forget that unfortunate detour with Malcolm Harris,” Renee said with a heavy
sigh. “I don’t personally know this new
young man in her life, but everything I read about him and his family gives me
some kind of comfort that she’s being taken care of. Still, I wish she would come home more. But I think being here hurts her in some
closely, anger building within. Hearing
them praise this Hunt Roberts douche bag made him want to punch someone until
they bled. He was supposed to be the man who stood by Sierra, no one
else. She’d give him her virginity last
summer. He wanted her to feel as
connected to him as he did to her. Their
idiot parents had no idea what they were talking about.
As he hid beneath
the shade of the trellis, he then heard the subject turn to him.
“I hope Benji is
settling down now that you’re back living as a family,” Renee said. “I know how concerned you’ve both been about
his acting out.”
said. “But I have to believe that our
past as a family hasn’t permanently shaped him to be this way. He’s a good kid, he just has these anger
issues. That’s what Dr. Wolkstein said,
anyway, and I’m inclined to believe him.”
“He was the
counselor at Beau Soleil,” Jordan
between him and Renee, certain that they weren’t telling her something. “What?”
Jordan took a deep breath
and shook his head to dismiss the conversation.
“Something happened a few years ago.
It’s kind of what started me thinking it was our fault that he’s always
been a little high strung. All the more
reason I wanted us to get married and try to repair some of the damage.”
Suzanne asked, almost afraid to ask.
“The hell it
doesn’t,” insisted Suzanne, eyes flashing major danger signals between the two
of them. “You’re both acting like I have
no right to know about my own son. It’s
not my fault that I was locked way for all that time.”
Renee smiled. “Sweetie, the important thing is that you’re
a family again. You’re a united front,
and together you can turn Benji around into a very upstanding young man.”
Suzanne looked down at the table. She’d
been away for so long that sometimes she forgot how much she missed out
on. Every monumental event in her
children’s lives was shared by Jordan and other women. She felt like a stranger in her own
When James arrived
home with Jackie following steps behind, they gathered in the family room with
Miranda, Eddie and David. Leilani served
a tray of sandwiches and a pot of coffee, busying herself throughout the room
as they talked about the news from Acapulco.
understand,” Miranda said in shock.
“What is going on?”
“I don’t have many
details,” James said. “Lenny is going to
call any minute. Apparently there was
some kind of incident at their hotel last night.”
“What does that
mean?” David demanded.
quietly by, staring at her cell phone in hopes that it would ring and it would
calling her back. Or maybe Steven
reporting in with information. Not
knowing what was going on was killing her.
When the phone
rang, they all looked at each other with breath held. James went to the coffee table and answered
it on speaker so everyone could hear.
Lenny,” said their makeup artist who had traveled to Acapulco with the rest of the crew. “Sorry for taking so long. It’s chaos around here. I don’t have much time.”
“What’s going on,
Lenny?” James asked, standing above the phone.
He could hear loud voices and sirens coming over the phone line. Chaos seemed to be an understatement. “You’ve got us scared to death.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know much yet.”
“Well what do you know?” David shouted.
Through the broken
connection, Lenny reported as clearly as he could. “Some of the crew members were taken from the
hotel last night. We don’t know by whom
exactly but the authorities here seem to think they were one of the drug
cartels. Apparently they haven’t been
too keen on our being here.”
“Who was taken?”
James asked, scanning the room and noting the looks of terror on everyone’s
faces. “Was Brooke one of them?”
replied solemnly. “I’m sorry,
Jackie closed her
eyes tightly, now having full confirmation that Bryan had taken her idle comments to
heart. If it hadn’t been for the ominous
phone call she’d received the night before, she might have bought the drug
cartel explanation, but she knew better.
“Who else?” David
asked, pacing the room. He glanced at
Miranda and noted the tears welling up in her eyes. He was afraid to hear the rest for her sake,
Cassidy, Eric, Jack, and that kid – the intern.”
“How could this
have happened?” James demanded. “What do
they want with them?”
“We don’t know
anything,” Lenny explained. “Everyone
was asleep. There was gunfire and
yelling and screaming. It was horrible,
“Was anyone hurt?”
Silence filled the
line until Lenny replied softly. “Mike,”
“Mike, our security
guy?” James asked.
“He’s dead,” Lenny
told them. “They think he intercepted
them and tried to stop them and so they shot him.”
whispered under his breath. He glanced
at Jackie who was white as a sheet. He
didn’t know why but it surprised him that she was taking the news of the prior
night’s events so hard. She was human,
after all. And Mike had been with them
“Are they alive?”
Miranda asked through a veil of tears.
“Lenny, tell me Stormy and Brooke are alive.”
More silence aside
from the chaos in the background. “I
don’t know, Miranda. The American
Embassy is investigating but the federal police aren’t being much help. They don’t seem to hold out much hope.”
When Miranda broke
down into hysterics, David started to go to her. But when Eddie pulled her into an embrace, he
held back, realizing it wasn’t his place to comfort her, as much as he wanted
“I want to talk to
somebody down there,” James insisted.
“Someone in the Embassy has to know something. This is my family we’re talking about,
“I can’t even get
anyone to talk to me,” Lenny
said. “Meanwhile, the rest of the crew
is in a panic. They’re packing up and
ready to leave. James, I think I am too. I’m sorry, I just don’t think it’s safe to
James rubbed his
face with his hand. “Of course. Send them home, Lenny. But I need
someone there who can fill me in on what’s going on.”
“I know you
do. I’ll stay for the day and try to get
you as much information as possible. But
by tonight I’m on a flight back to L.A. I’m sorry.”
Lenny. Please update me as soon as you
know anything. I’ll be by the
“Will do,” he said
and hung up.
When the call
ended, everyone stood around the room, quiet and in shock. James and David stared at the speakerphone as
if waiting for more information. Miranda
stood with Eddie’s arm around her, tears staining her cheeks. Finally, the silence was broken by Jackie who
spoke up with a quavering voice.
“They’re all dead,”
she said with certainty.
“What?” James asked
“You know it’s true,”
she maintained. “How many tourists go
missing or are killed there every year?
They were casualties.”
“Mother, you don’t
know that,” David snapped.
“So where are
they?” she replied. She had no idea what
had transpired, and what deal Bryan
had made, but it was no coincidence that seven of their crew members had gone
missing with one other already reported dead.
“What other explanation is there?”
“They’re not dead,”
Miranda insisted. “Stop saying
that. Maybe they’re someplace safe
waiting for things to settle down.”
have given up without a fight,” Eddie confirmed.
“I agree,” said
James, then shot Jackie a full look of warning.
“And I refuse to think the worst before we have any real information to
She shook her head
with a sigh. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe her theories about Bryan were way off base. It could just be a giant string of
coincidences. She hoped so. All the more reason she hoped he would call
her back very soon.
“So what do we do
now?” Miranda asked.
“We wait,” James
announced. “Hopefully Lenny calls back
soon with news.”
his jaw with determination. “I can’t just
sit here and wait,” he said. “Brooke is
down there, possibly in grave danger.
I’ve got to try to help.”
“What are you going
to do?” Jackie asked, alarmed. The last
thing she wanted was her son getting involved.
One man was already confirmed dead as a result of her connections. She refused to let her son be another
“Fly down there and
look for them,” David said, pacing back and forth while running a hand through
his thick black hair. “We can’t just
stand back and wait.”
“David, we’re not
doing anything yet,” James said. “We
don’t have all the facts. Like Miranda
said, they could be waiting somewhere until it’s safe. After the commotion at the hotel, there’s no
telling what transpired. Wait for Lenny
to call and then we’ll make a decision.”
Jackie relaxed once
she sensed that David had agreed with them.
She plucked her cell phone from her purse and checked the display. No calls.
Zero. She’d heard nothing from Bryan and nothing from
Steven. She began to wonder if she ever
Suzanne spent the
afternoon lying at the pool with her laptop open in front of her. Jordan had gone golfing, leaving
her with time to work on her assignments for her writing class. The more she learned, the more she enjoyed
doing it. She hadn’t been much into
school in her younger years. Like many
actresses, she barely scathed by the high school experience before she was discovered
and landed on a movie set. In her case,
a television set. The role of Faye
Richards on The Young at Heart had
been like a dream come true to her at the impressionable age of eighteen. From there it was a whirlwind of activity,
roles and movie offers. Then after
spending thirteen years in a sanitarium in Switzerland, she’d finally realized
how much she didn’t know. Her professor
thought she had potential, too, which was the first time she’d heard that since
working as an actress. It was gratifying
and did wonders for her self worth.
But what had
started off as a distraction from Brett and her attraction to him turned into
an excuse to relive the passion that they shared. A thousand word assignment had burgeoned into
an eighty-page thinly-veiled account of their relationship, names and places
changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
She continued to add more and more plot twists, characters, and of
course plenty of passionate love scenes.
She began to wonder if there was a novel disguised somewhere amidst the
When Benji emerged
from the house, she saved her progress and inconspicuously closed the
“How come you’re
not at work?” she asked.
“Brett closed the
studio for the day,” he told her, gauging her reaction as he filled her
in. “He seemed pretty upset about
Suzanne looked away
instantly, her heart breaking for the hurt she’d caused him. It had never been her intention. She was only doing what she thought was
upset about?” she found herself asking.
meeting her gaze. “I thought maybe you
“Why would I
His reply was cold
and detached and filled with suggestion.
“Didn’t I see you leaving his office this morning?”
set in. In one fluid motion, she rose
from the lounger and began to tie her silk wrap around her waist.
“Yeah, he called me
and asked me to come by to talk about Violet,” she said, content that it wasn’t
a total lie. “Things have been so hectic
since the wedding that your father and I have barely had a chance to see her.”
“Did you have a
fight or something?” Benji asked, pushing her the way he knew she would
“I thought that
might be why he was so upset.”
She busied herself
with pouring a glass of lemonade. “I’m
not sure.” She hadn’t considered the
implications of Benji working at Rydell with Brett. He was so close to the source that it could
be dangerous. What if he’d walked in on
them this morning when they were kissing?
Even though she’d ended their affair, Brett’s state of mind was
volatile. She had to do something fast
to prevent their past being exposed.
“I was just
thinking,” she continued. “I’m not sure
that working at Rydell is what you really want.
Why don’t you let me talk to your father about forgetting the whole
He saw right
through her suggestion. She didn’t want
him finding out about their sordid affair.
It was almost amusing how transparent she was. Weren’t actresses supposed to be convincing?
“But Dad said I have
to work. He’s not going to go for this.”
“So you’ll work
somewhere else. Something that you
enjoy. Maybe at Moonshadows. I can talk to Renee.”
replied. Now he knew why fate had led
him to discover his mother and his brother-in-law’s dirty little secret. He’d be able to use the knowledge to his
advantage. “Well if I don’t have to go
back to Rydell tomorrow, then can you give me my credit card so I can buy a
“Where do you think
“New York,” he said. Now was the perfect time to drop in on Sierra
and do his best to size up this Hunt Roberts character. He was losing time. If he didn’t act fast, she’d forget about the
connection they shared.
“I’m sorry, that’s
not going to happen,” Suzanne told him firmly.
“Because I said so,
Benji.” She sounded like a typical
mother. Precisely the way hers did when
she told her she was not going to college but instead pursuing an acting
career. “You just got off probation
“Exactly. I’m not
on probation anymore. There’s no reason
why I can’t go.”
“You’re still not
out of the woods,” she said, standing firm.
“You’ve done some reckless things and your father and I are trying to
instill some values in you. How are we
supposed to do that if we pay for you to run off on a cross-country jaunt?”
He never pegged his
mother as a hypocrite, but that’s exactly what she was. For years he’d been made to believe he was
some kind of a degenerate. Now he
realized he’d only been following by example.
“I’ll go to Dad,”
he said without even a blink.
“He’s not going to
tell you anything different. You’re not
going, Benji, and that’s final.” She
grabbed her laptop and started toward the house. She may not have her own life under control,
but she was determined to stick to her guns where her son was concerned.
“Are you sure you
want to leave it like that?” he called after her, unwilling to let it
rest. “Things could get very ugly if he
knew certain things.”
The remark didn’t
immediately register with her, but she stopped and turned to him
nonetheless. “What does that supposed
definitely at her. No words were
“Benji, what does
that supposed to mean?” she repeated, stalking back toward him.
“I just don’t think
you should dismiss New York
She looked into his
eyes. Did he know something? Did Brett tell him about their affair? She couldn’t imagine what else he could be
referring to, and short of coming out and asking him if he knew, she was left
“I can’t believe
you’re acting this way,” she said, genuinely shocked by his cold nature. Yes, he’d always been rebellious, but the
look in his eyes and the tone in his voice made her wonder how well she even
“I can’t believe
you’re preaching to me about right and wrong,” he countered.
She decided to take
care in her next few words. She could
easily say one wrong word and confirm something he was only guessing
about. No, it wasn’t worth the risk.
“You’re not going,”
she said flatly. She wasn’t about to be
pushed around by her own son. Besides,
if he did know about her and Brett, he’d never say anything to Jordan without
coming out and asking her point blank.
Turning back to the
house, she stormed up the walkway through the yard and left Benji standing
Miranda stood above
Michael as he napped in an upstairs bedroom at the Blackthorne mansion. Eyes red and watery, she wondered what would
happen to the young boy if Brooke was really dead. His father was gone, killed in the horrific
earthquake that had wrecked their lives in so many unimaginable ways. He’d be an orphan. Would her father step up and raise him? He did
believe for years that he was the boy’s father.
It only made sense.
A presence behind
her caused her to turn from the bed.
Standing in the doorway was David, gazing sorrowfully at her. No words were spoken as they met in the
center of the room and fell into a warm embrace. In his arms, she cried silently.
“They’re going to
be okay,” David said. “Brooke and Stormy. You’ll see.”
“You don’t know
that,” she cried. “You heard your mother
downstairs. Tourists are murdered all
the time and for no reason. I may never
see my brother again and Michael may grow up not knowing his mother or his
father. It isn’t fair.”
“Don’t listen to
what my mother says,” he insisted.
“She’s just being dramatic as usual.”
Breaking from his
embrace, Miranda stared down at the floor in a daze while thinking about
Stormy. “All he wanted to do was make
our father proud of him,” she said. “I
think he really thought this movie was going to accomplish that. And look where it’s got him now.”
“Don’t talk like
that.” He followed her across the
room. “Stormy’s a smart guy when it
comes down to it. He’s got enough sense
to keep himself and everyone else out of danger.”
“How? Mike couldn’t even do that and he was a
three-hundred pound security guard. If
he couldn’t protect them then what makes you think Stormy could?”
David didn’t have
the answer. He wanted to take away her
worries but he couldn’t. Instead, he
wrapped his arms around her again and held her as tight as he could. Neither of them noticed Eddie appear in the
doorway and remain silent for several moments.
“Sorry,” he finally
said, unsure of what he had walked in on.
pulled away from David and wiped her teary eyes. “David was just…” she stammered. “I came to check on Michael and I started
thinking about Stormy and….”
“I know,” Eddie
said and kissed her on the forehead.
“But you two better get downstairs.”
“Did Lenny call
back?” David asked hopefully.
“No. But the media’s got hold of the story. It’s on every station.”
followed him out of the room and down the hall to the staircase.
In the family room,
they gathered around the television as a CNN news correspondent reported from
news desk. James stood, arms folded,
watching as the story unfolded in front of the entire world. He felt embittered, angry that they seemed to
be learning information at the same time as the rest of the country. It was his studio and his family. Why was nobody contacting him? What was worse, it had been hours since they’d
last talked to Lenny.
“Breaking news from
afternoon as details are surfacing involving a film crew on location in the
drug-torn Mexican city,” said the news anchor.
“Reports are coming to us that late last night several Sunset Studios
crew members were kidnapped from their hotel.
Among them were legendary film star Jack Childers, renowned film director
Eric Autumn, and soap opera star Cassidy Solomon. We’ve just learned that a security guard
traveling with the cast and crew was found shot to death in his hotel
room. Mexican authorities claim to be on
top of the investigation but no word yet on confirmation that the murder and
apparent kidnappings have ties with the warring drug cartels that have plagued
much of the country for the last few years.”
As if on cue, the
phone began ringing. James prayed that
it was Lenny calling with information.
Quickly, he went to retrieve it.
Deflated, he shook his head with sorrow when he realized it was a
reporter from the L.A. Times.
“No comment,” he
fired back, quickly hanging up they phone.
already?” Jackie asked, rubbing her hand over her face. The days events had seemingly began to spiral
out of control.
“I’m sure it’s only
the beginning,” David said with a sigh.
watching the news report. James turned
to another channel which broadcasted the same story, this one with stock
footage of the area around their hotel, he assumed because the media hadn’t yet
made it to Acapulco
yet to tape live.
Embassy in Acapulco
has denied claims that the alleged kidnappings and murder mean an international
incident has occurred,” said another reporter.
“The FBI and the Department of State have not indicated that these
events were intentional attacks on Americans or even that drug wars are behind
Jackie closed her
eyes. How this thing had escalated to an
international incident was beyond her.
All she wanted was Brooke to go away.
Now a man was dead and several others were nowhere to be found. Nausea quickly set in.
follows two days after a confirmed drug-related incident on the same stretch of
the Acapulco Bay,” continued the reporter. “Vacationers and locals awoke the first
morning of this long holiday weekend to thirteen bullet-ridden corpses, several
having been decapitated, in what was called a warning by the cartels for any
who speak out against them.”
Miranda placed a
hand over her mouth and stumbled backward.
Eddie placed a hand around her arm, steadying her as the flood of
information continued to pour in.
Another phone call
and another reporter. This one from the
Associated Press. James replied again
with no comment, and instructed
Leilani to field any more calls. He only
wanted to speak to Lenny or anyone else from their crew.
Jackie decided to
take control of the situation. Bryan wasn’t returning
her calls and things were escalating to a near panic-level. Determined to get to the bottom of whatever
was going on, she ducked out of the room and ran to the front doors in the
foyer. As she made her way out to her
car, she saw a barrage of reporters making their way up the drive in news vans
and satellite vehicles. In a harried
effort to avoid them, she raced to her car and sped off in the opposite
later, she was in her office at Merteuil Industries. Tossing her purse on the sofa, she went to
the desk and began searching the phone list for every department head in the
company. Having only been in charge for
a few weeks, and keeping a relatively low profile, she hadn’t had much
opportunity to speak to any of them, but she decided she soon would.
After locating the
contact information for Rob Silva, Merteuil’s director of operations, she
called him at home. A housekeeper
answered and told her he and his family were in Big Bear for the holiday
weekend. Jackie groaned at the mention
of Big Bear. Wasn’t that where this
whole chain of events began? Roz and
Mick Taylor brought Brooke there every summer of her youth so that Royce could
spend time with her. If it wasn’t for
those few years and the photographic evidence that had appeared, David would
have never learned that she was his sister.
She called his cell
phone and he answered, the sounds of summertime activity apparent in the
background. Regardless of the timing,
she had to talk to him. It was now a
matter of life or death.
“This is Jacqueline
Blackthorne,” she said, forming her plan as she went. “I need you to come to Merteuil right
away. There’s a problem with the new
freighters that we purchased a few days ago.”
he said, taken aback. Of course he knew
her by name. Her ousting Renee as CEO
had been a huge shock to him and the rest of the executives in the
company. Never did he expect her to
reach out to him. “I’m on vacation with
my family. Whatever it is will have to
wait until next week.”
“It can’t wait,” she insisted. “I’m sorry to disturb you but this is a
“Like I said, it’ll
have to wait until next week.”
Jackie didn’t mind
pulling rank, and the circumstances definitely warranted it. “Mr. Silva, I assume you have a personal
stake in Merteuil, particularly since after forty years with the company you
have a substantial pension waiting for you when you retire in a few years. I’d hate for anything to jeopardize
threatening to fire me if I don’t come?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes,” she said
and then a response that she hadn’t anticipated. “Look lady, I kept my mouth shut when you
took over the company because I need that pension, but I’ll be damned if I’m
going to let you start calling the shots.
I’ve worked for the Merteuil’s since Charles started the goddamn
company. I practically ran it myself for
most of that time. I don’t think you’re
in any position to make demands of me.
You got that?”
She took a deep
breath, realizing her threats were useless in some cases. She knew his reputation and she knew that
without him, the company would meander aimlessly until it eventually
collapsed. A different approach is what
she needed, she decided.
“Look, Mr. Silva,
I’m sorry. I’m in a tight spot here and
I need your help.” Maybe imploring him
with humanity was the key. “Can you at
least tell me what you know about those freighters? Where they went? Anything?”
After a few moments
of hesitation, he finally responded, “they arrived in Mexico this
morning. A seaport in Acapulco.”
Jackie closed her
eyes with the confirmation that Bryan
was definitely up to something. “What
are they picking up?”
know? I thought you were supposed to be
running the show.”
“What was the
cargo?” she demanded.
he told her. “Sugar and vanilla. What else do they export from Mexico?”
“An associate of
mine made the deal. I’m just trying to
wrap my head around it, that’s all. What
do you know about the arrangement?”
He sighed. “I know it didn’t seem like good business, but
then again you’re in charge and I figured you had your reasons.”
“What do you mean
it didn’t seem like good business?”
“We’re not making
anything off the deal,” he explained.
“Two times a week those freighters are going to pick up goods from Acapulco and bring them to Los Angeles.”
“And we’re not
making any money?” she asked. “Who’s the
“I don’t know. Your associate arranged it. I assume we’re getting something out of the
deal. What, I don’t know. But if
you ask me, when somebody wants something freightered from Mexico and
there’s some kind of under the table arrangement in the works, they’re not
shipping what they say they’re shipping.”
“What do you mean?”
“Figure it out,” he
told her firmly. “Now if you don’t mind,
can I get back to my family? No offense,
but morale isn’t exactly high since you took over and I need all the time I can
get away from that place.”
dismissively. “Yes, yes, of course. I’m sorry to have bothered you. Please go back to your family. As a matter of fact, take an extra day off
“Gee, thanks,” he
After hanging up,
Jackie racked her brain to decode the unsettling phone call. Rob had suggested that there may be something
illegal going on; that sugar and vanilla weren’t the intended cargo for those
freighter runs. But what else could it
be? Drugs? It was a distinct possibility, which made her
realize there was much more going on than Bryan
doing her a simple favor by getting rid of Brooke Taylor.
staked out outside the mansion, James, David, Miranda and Eddie remained
positioned in the family room as news continued to come in over the
“Shouldn’t we tell
Mom what’s going on?” Miranda asked her father.
“She’d want to know about Stormy.”
He shook his head
adamantly. “Absolutely not. If we tell her what’s going on it could set
her recovery back. Besides, until we
know anything concrete I don’t want to alarm anyone.”
Just then, Leilani
lowered the phone and motioned to James.
“Mr. Blackthorne, it’s Lenny!”
He quickly went to
retrieve the receiver. Everyone waited
in suspense as he spoke urgently over the phone. A few seconds later his tone deepened and all
color drained from his face. Miranda
immediately thought the worst.
“What is it?” David
asked when James lowered the phone.
He looked at him
and then at Miranda. “They just found
Covering her mouth
with her hands, Miranda stared at him in disbelief. After hours of waiting, their fears were
coming true. “Who were they?”
He shook his
head. “They don’t know yet. Apparently the bodies were
unrecognizable. They did say it was a
man and a woman.”
“Where did they
find them?” Eddie asked.
"In the trunk of a
car a mile from the hotel. They’re
positive it’s the drug cartels who are responsible.”
Miranda turned away
at the horrific thought. When she looked
back, James was stalking intently down the hall. Panicked, she ran after him and found him in
“Daddy, what are
you doing?” she asked as he lifted the phone and made a quick call.
“I’m having the
pilot prepare the jet,” he said after the call.
“I’m going down there.”
“You can’t!” she
cried, rushing toward him with pleading eyes.
“It’s too dangerous!”
“I can’t stay here
and wait for news,” he insisted. “If
that wasn’t Stormy and Brooke they found in that trunk then there’s a chance
they’re still alive. I have to do
everything I can to bring them home safely.”
“You don’t even
know where to look!” she lamented, her vision blurred with tears. “You could wind up dead too!”
“It’s a chance I’m
going to have to take, Miranda, now the subject is not up for discussion!” He went to his desk and unlocked the bottom
drawer, removing a cardboard box that his gun was encased in.
“What do you need that for?”
“I was thinking I
might need it,” he told her, checking the chamber to ensure that it was loaded.
coursed through her veins. Everything
was happening so fast. It didn’t even
seem like their lives. It was like
something out of one of her father’s movies.
He could see the
distress in her eyes and realized he was doing nothing to ease her mind. “I was thinking I might need it,” he repeated
calmly. “But they have semi-automatic machine guns, so what’s the point?”
hysterically, she fell into his arms when he went to her. “I can’t lose you too,” she sobbed into his
“Just stay by the
phone and wait for me to call. Don’t
talk to any reporters.”
She nodded, drying
her eyes as she resigned to the fact that he was going to go regardless of how
much she pleaded. That was his
nature. He would risk his own life to
save his family.
“I’m going with
you,” said David from the doorway once they broke from the embrace.
“Are you sure?”
James asked him.
He nodded. “Brooke is my sister. I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit here and
James patted him on
the shoulder, tucking his gun in the back of his pants as he made his way out
of the study. Once he was gone, Miranda
began shaking her head dramatically. She
held up her hand and turned away stubbornly.
said. “David, you’re not going to Mexico. I won’t let you.”
"I have to,” he
told her. “It’s Brooke and Stormy. Don’t you want to see them come home? That little boy upstairs has no father. He needs
his mother, Miranda.”
“What about what I need?” she demanded angrily. “Doesn’t that make any difference to you?”
“Of course, but I-“
“If you thought I
was difficult when you told me you were dying of cancer, just wait till you get
your head blown off down there trying to act like some kind of hero!” she
“I won’t,” he
reassured her, taking her by the shoulders and looking into her eyes. “I promise.”
“What if you get
sick while you’re there?” she cried.
“I feel fine. Now stop worrying.”
“Don’t tell me to
stop worrying! I do worry! Please, David. I can’t lose you yet.”
Eddie appeared in the doorway, David used the awkward moment to dismiss himself
and form a game plan with James. Standing
behind in the study, Miranda couldn’t even look Eddie in the eyes. Twice he’d walked in on her and David
together and it was now nearly impossible for her to hide her feelings.
what’s going on?” Eddie asked.
simply shook her head and turned away.
asked you a question,” he went on.
“What’s going on with you and David?
First I walk in on you and him upstairs and now in here. Why does his going to Mexico upset
you so much?”
it’s dangerous,” she said, tracing her finger along the desk.
eyes narrowed on her. “But it’s okay for
your father to go? What is so special
about David Jennings?”
don’t want either one of them to go!”
her at the desk, he lifted her face and forced her to look him in the
eyes. “What’s going on with the two of
shook her head, tears now coming not only as a result of the day’s horrific
events, but also due to her unmanageable guilt.
She knew her face gave her away but she didn’t have the energy to hide
she began, reaching out to him.
wide, he backed up to the doorway. Her
expression told him everything he needed to know. Numb, he turned and darted out of the
room. Left behind, Miranda buried her
face in her hands and sunk to the floor.
How had everything gone wrong so fast?
Suzanne had thought all day about
everything. About Benji’s disturbing
behavior, about the lackluster excitement in her marriage to Jordan, and
about the passion she’d given up by breaking things off with Brett. His invitation, laced in desperation, played
on her mind. She had to at least see if
there was something still there, knowing full well there was. So grabbing her purse and car keys, she set
out to the prearranged rendezvous at his condo.
Already the excitement and anticipation was building.
watched her leave from his bedroom window.
Glancing at his watch, he realized it was nearly eight o’clock, the
exact time he’d overhead Brett tell her to be at his place if she wanted to see
him again. He felt genuinely surprised
that she was going through with it. For
some reason he thought she would have stuck to her guns in light of her
marriage to Jordan. Apparently it was not so.
he made his way downstairs some time later, his father had just gotten home
from the golf course.
he said, propping his golf bag inside the door.
“What’s going on?
Where's your mom?”
was just getting ready to call you,” Benji replied, leaning against the
staircase banister. “Mom wanted me to
tell you that she’s on her way to Brett’s.”
asked, removing his driving gloves and tucking them in his back pockets.
emergency with Violet, I think,” he told him with as much sincerity as he could
muster. “She ran out of here in a
went for his cell. As he started to dial
Suzanne’s number, Benji quickly stopped him.
bother calling her,” he said. “She ran
out of here so fast she left her phone in the drawing room. She just said to tell you to come as soon as
hope everything’s okay,” Jordan
remarked, quickly heading for the door.
“I’ll call you when I find out what’s going on.”
Benji replied, smiling as his father left the house.
and Leilani stood in the foyer as James and David prepared to leave for the
airport. They clung to each other
tightly, misty eyed as they said their brief goodbyes. The less that they drug it out the easier it
would be to let them go, Miranda thought to herself.
call you when we get there, sweetheart,” James said as he kissed her on the
nodded, tensing as Eddie emerged from the hallway. His eyes were cold and moved past her so
quickly that she couldn’t even be sure he saw her standing there. He had a right to be furious. What she’d done was despicable and he didn’t
going with you,” he announced, looking at James and David.
I don’t think-“
and I have been best friends since we were five years old,” he maintained. “If he’s still alive, I want to help bring
nodded, deciding to forgo any manner of protest. It could be that they needed his
investigative skills once they got to Acapulco. Eddie had a way with getting information in
the most efficient ways possible.
they left, Eddie glanced back and finally let his eyes rest on Miranda’s. She didn’t bother to ask him not to go; she
knew why he was doing it. He was proving
a point. A show of bravery in light of
how she’d hurt him.
hand knotted through Leilani’s, she watched as the three left the house
together and stepped into the barrage of reporters. She prayed it wasn’t the last
she saw of them.
forty years in the work force, Rob Silva had come to learn one important thing
in life: no one ever went to their
deathbed wishing they had spent more time at the office. That was why, after years hearing his wife
complain, he agreed to go away for the weekend.
They spent three days in Big Bear, boating and enjoying time away with
their two young children. It was
relaxation at its best, until Jacqueline Blackthorne called and interrupted it,
of course. Since the infuriating phone
call, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
What nerve to call him on his vacation demanding he come to the
questions led him to wonder just what the arrangement was with the freighters that had arrived that morning in Acapulco. If she didn’t know anything about them, who
did? Who was her associate that made the
deal? He decided after they got back
he’d have to do some investigating. If
something illegal was going on, he was determined to not go down for it.
speedboat was parked at a dock at the lake.
His wife, Trudy, and their children played on a swing set next to the
small convenience store up on the shore.
As he walked out of the small mom and pop establishment, Rob bumped into
a man in a tan hunting jacket and ball cap pulled tightly over his face.
the man said as he made his way inside the store.
problem.” He went to the swing set and
informed Trudy that the store was out of earplugs.
I don’t think Hannah should get back in the water,” his wife said, tending to
their young daughter who irritably rubbed her head and ears. “I’m afraid she has an ear infection again.”
I’ll take the boat back to the cabin and come back with the car,” Rob said,
then kissed his daughter on the head.
“Then we’ll go eat. See you in a
down the bank to the dock, he jumped inside the boat and turned the key. Expertly, he backed up away from the dock and
steered the boat out a hundred feet. It
was less than half a mile to the cabin.
He could get there and back in ten minutes. The more time with his family, the
thought proved to be his last. In an
instant, the boat exploded into flames, thousands of bits of debris flying up
into the air. The owners of the
convenience store came running outside after hearing the thunderous
explosion. Standing near the swing set,
Trudy screamed at the top of her lungs at the sight of her husband disappearing
before her eyes.
inside the store, staring out the window, Bryan Carlson, clad in the tan
hunting jacket, removed his hat and watched the flames die to a steady gasoline
and Eddie search for answers in Acapulco while Miranda
waits nervously by the phone. Jackie continues
her search for Bryan, and for answers. Benji's
trap puts those near him in hot water.
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