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Episode 117

 

Release Date:  June 17, 2010

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Benji had sex with Summer Solomon in a fit of anger.  Later, he learned that he'd contracted chlamydia from Scott Kelly and possibly passed it on to Summer, but Summer was dating Duke at the time who learned Summer had been with Jeff Branigan and assumed she got it from him.  Angry that his mother refused to let him travel to New York to see Sierra, Benji sent his father to Brett's house where he knew Suzanne and Brett would be in a compromising position.  Stormy's passport was taken by a local Mexican police officer.  James, David and Eddie arrived in Acapulco and learned that Cassidy and Eric had been killed.  James filled Miranda in and asked her to break the news to Summer in person.  Jack escaped from the cartel after Manuel shot his brother Ricardo, the leader of the cartel who Bryan had arranged release from prison. Manuel and his men later began holding Stormy, Brooke and Steven in an unidentified location.  A car burned during a car bomb produced three unidentifiable corpses, and Stormy's passport.  James took this to mean Stormy was one of the bodies.  Jackie got confirmation from Rob Silva, one of the high level executives at Merteuil Industries, that there was something amiss with the deal Bryan made with the freighters. Later, Bryan killed Rob in a phony boating accident.  

 


  

Episode 117

"Malaga Cove"

 

In her dream, Miranda Blackthorne did what she loved best. Shopping.  Fred Segal was her safe haven.  When things got too real, it was there that she went, whether physically or mentally.

It was a clear, sunny day in Beverly Hills, bustling with activity.  Her dreams usually had a soundtrack, and this one aptly played Beneath the Blue Sky by the Go-Go’s.  The message was positive and uplifting.  Dressed in mega short skirts and designer shoes, she and Brooke carried armloads of shopping bags while ambling from store to store, laughing and joking and talking about everything from clothes they bought to men they liked as if they were best friends. 

They stopped at their favorite bistro and took a table on the patio.  David joined them, casual in chinos and an electric blue shirt and they all laughed at something he said.  Then Eddie appeared and the four of them overtook the patio with their jubilant activity.  They were happy and carefree and she didn’t want to wake up. 

But in an instant, her dream turned into a nightmare.  Lifting her eyes from the table, she found herself suddenly alone.  Brooke, David and Eddie had vanished into thin air.  Her soundtrack continued blaring, but the mood was no longer positive and uplifting.  In one fluid motion, she shot to her feet and frantically looked all around.  They were gone. 

Confused, she looked back to the table.  Now seated across from her was Michael, quietly munching on a plate of french fries.  Next to him was an empty seat with another plate of fries resting on the table in front of it.  She watched in confusion as the little boy turned to his right and talked inaudibly to the empty seat. 

She lowered herself back into her chair, her buoyant face now deflated; her eyes solicitless.  When she awoke next to Michael on the sofa of the game room at home, it became immediately apparent what the dream meant.  Brooke, David and Eddie, all off in Mexico under dangerous circumstances, had abandoned her.  She was now alone, left to care for Michael until they returned.  If they returned. 

She glanced at the clock and saw that it was nearly ten o’clock.  They had been watching a movie and must have fallen asleep.  Quickly, she checked her phone to see if she’d missed a call from her father.  They should have arrived in Mexico a short while ago.  A nervous feeling began to stir in the pit of her stomach.  What if they got there and found that Brooke and Stormy were the ones found dead in the trunk of the car?  The sweet little boy sleeping beside her wouldn’t have a mother; and she would have lost her big brother who had been there for her for her entire life. 

Her thoughts were interrupted by her phone ringing in her hand, which startled her and sent her jumping to her feet.  Quickly, she answered.  It was James calling with information.  He told her that Brooke and Stormy were not the bodies they found in the trunk, but she still felt no sense of relief.  Their security guard was dead and there was no sign of any of the others that had been taken. 

“What are you going to do?” she asked, sobbing. 

“It’s too late to do anything right now.  We’re going to start out first thing in the morning.  I’ll update you as soon as we know anything.  Don’t worry.  We’ll find them, sweetheart.  I love you.”

“I love you too, Daddy.  Give David and Eddie my love.” 

“I will,” he told her.  “Oh, Miranda, I hate to ask you this but I can’t have Cassidy’s daughter hear about this on the news.  Do you think you could drive down and tell her in person?”

She raked her fingers through her hair and glanced down at Michael as he lay sleeping soundly.  “Sure,” she said, although she felt as comfortable with the idea as she did about being left to care for Michael for the time being.  It scared her.  “Sure, Daddy.  Anything you need.  I’ll go right away.” 

Jordan Rydell

Two hours ago, Jordan would have never guessed what was in store for him that perfect summer evening.  After returning home from a day of golfing, Benji greeted him at the door with an effective air of nonchalance.  That should have been his first clue that something wasn’t right. 

“Hi,” Jordan said, propping his golf bag inside the door.  “What’s going on?”

“I 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.” 

“What for?” he asked, removing his driving gloves and tucking them in his back pockets.

“Some emergency with Violet, I think,” he told him.  “She ran out of here in a hurry.” 

Immediately, Jordan went for his cell.  As he started to dial Suzanne’s number, Benji quickly stopped him.

“Don’t 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 you could.” 

“I hope everything’s okay,” Jordan remarked, quickly heading for the door.  “I’ll call you when I find out what’s going on.”

“Great,” Benji replied. 

And just like that, Jordan was outside jumping into his black Lamborghini, tearing out of the driveway and heading for the marina.  A million different scenarios ran through his head as he wondered what kind of emergency there could be.  He considered phoning ahead to the hospital and having them page Violet’s pediatrician just in case.  But after a few minutes of hesitation, he decided not to jump the gun.  It could be nothing.

He arrived in the parking lot shortly after eight o’clock, leaving his car beneath the porte coche in case they needed to get somewhere in a hurry.  Better to be safe than sorry, he decided. 

Taking the steps two at a time, he bounded up the stairs to the third floor and went to knock on Brett’s door, but found it open.  Slowly, he began to enter.

Suzanne Rogers

The day had been a whirlwind of emotions, so Suzanne turned to the only person who could make her forget.  The one man who took all of her pain away and made her feel special and worthwhile.  That man just happened to be her daughter’s husband. 

As the eight o’clock hour drew near, she had wrestled with her feelings.  Brett had asked her to meet him at his place so they could be alone. Violet would be at a sitter’s and they’d have all the time in the world.  At the time, she had refused, but after Jordan’s cold nature as of lately, Benji’s startlingly disturbing attempt at blackmailing her, and nothing but memories fueled by her manuscript, she had no chance of resisting.  The entire way to marina she felt light-headed and like she would jump out of her skin with sheer anticipation.

As soon as Brett opened the door and saw her standing in the hall, he pulled her into his arms and into the living room.  The door didn’t latch securely but he didn’t notice.  He was too happy to see her.  Too happy that she had changed her mind and shown up after all.

They didn’t speak as they undressed one another with a frantic sense of urgency and desperation.  Between hurried kisses and long, lingering looks of desire, Brett lifted her into his arms and she straddled him.  They were joined instantly.  By the time they reached the bedroom, Suzanne had already had an explosive orgasm.  She’d never been so flushed with desire.

Laying her gently on the bed, Brett covered her with his rigid body and made love to her slowly and with the expertise of knowing what she liked and what made her feel good.  Being with her again was like quenching a thirst that had plagued him for weeks.  For the first time since he learned of her remarriage to Jordan, he felt alive.

As the evening sun filtering in through drawn blinds, Suzanne used her hands to explore every inch of his body.  His arms, his back, his stomach.  She yearned to feel close to him in every way, to be reacquainted with his physical self.  Her marriage and her guilt over their affair never once entered her mind.

Until she looked over his shoulder and saw her husband standing in the doorway.

“Jordan!” she exclaimed, her body retreating from Brett, who sensed her panic and quickly slid to the side and used the sheet to cover their bodies.  “I’m sorry…”

He looked at them with disbelief, blinking a few times to ensure he was seeing correctly.  Stupid question.  Of course he was seeing correctly.  His wife and his son-in-law going at it like animals was pretty hard to misconstrue.   Still, he needed a few seconds to register it. 

“Get dressed,” he ordered before turning and stalking back into the living room. 

Quickly, they put their clothes on and emerged from the bedroom in silence.  Jordan was standing across the room, hands on his hips and staring off in deep concentration. 

“Sorry to have interrupted,” he said, face red and veins throbbing.

“Jordan, please-“ Suzanne began, her entire body trembling. 

“Please what?” he demanded furiously.  “Please don’t get upset?  Please understand?  I just found my wife and my daughter’s husband fucking their brains out.  Please, Suzanne, tell me what I’m supposed to think about that.” 

Tears streamed down her face and she looked at Brett for some kind of guidance. 

“What are you looking at him for?” Jordan asked.  “Look at me.  Look at me and help me understand how in hell you could have done something like this.” 

“I don’t know,” she cried, shaking her head. 

“It wasn’t her fault,” Brett chimed in.  “I asked her to come.  She told me we were through but I wouldn’t give up.  Blame me.”

Jordan felt like he was watching a movie and had missed a crucial scene somewhere in the middle.  Nothing made sense to him and he struggled to put the pieces together. 

“She told you you were through?” he asked.  “Are you telling me this wasn’t the first time?  Exactly how long has this been going on?”

Brett realized his mistake, but knew it was too late to take it back.  Maybe coming clean was the best thing under the circumstances.  Maybe it would put an end to their sham of a marriage. 

“A couple of months,” he told him.

Jordan placed a hand on his forehead and began pacing the room.  “So when I came to your office that day and told you that I thought there was some flirtation gong on between the two of you, you lied to me.  You were together then, weren’t you?”

He shook his head.  “Not then.  But soon after.” 

“But I ended it as soon as we got married, Jordan,” Suzanne insisted.  “I told him that being a wife and a mother was more important to me.  You have to believe me.”

“We got married two weeks ago,” he said with a slight chuckle.  “Two week is all it took for you to forget those vows and jump onto the first stud who came by.” 

“I was weak,” she admitted through a veil of tears.  “I know it was wrong.  I shouldn’t have come here tonight.  I know that now.”

Jordan simply stared at her, and then turned his attention to Brett.  “Where’s my garnddaugher?”

“I sent her to a sitter,” he told him.  “I wouldn’t have her in the apartment knowing what was going to happen.”

Suddenly filled with anger and resentment, Jordan turned, drew his fist back, and sent it shattering into Brett’s jaw.  He went sailing backwards, knocked to the floor from the force of the blow.  His first instinct would have been to retaliate in some way, but he knew he had it coming.  Jordan had every right to be angry.  It still didn’t change the way he felt about Suzanne. 

“All those times I came by the house on Valley Vista and you were in the pool or the hot tub, or changing light bulbs with your shirt off, you were banging your wife’s mother?” he said, growing angrier by the minute.  “And don’t tell me you wouldn’t do it with Violet around because you and I both know that’s a damn lie.”

“She’s a baby,” Suzanne said.  “She didn’t know what was going on.”

“That’s Violet’s excuse, but what’s mine?” Jordan demanded.  “How dumb was I to think there was nothing going on?  I saw the way the two of you looked at each other.”

“I never wanted to hurt you,” Suzanne said. 

He stepped closer.  “What about Heather?  Did you mean to hurt her?”

The remark sent tears streaming down her face and brought Brett quickly to his feet.   “Of course we didn’t,” he said defensively.  “That’s part of why Suzanne called it off.  She hated the thought of hurting Heather.”

“But what’s one more roll in the hay, huh?” Jordan asked bitterly.  “My daughter’s in an institution, she doesn’t even know her own name, so why not get one more fuck in before you call it quits?  As a matter of fact, how about two more?  Hell, just keep fucking until she’s completely lost grip with reality and then it won’t matter anyway.” 

“That’s not true!” Suzanne screamed.  “I hated the thought of what my actions would do to my daughter.  I was sick to my stomach over it every single day.  Don’t you dare tell me I don’t care about her.” 

“If you did, you would have never started,” Jordan said flatly. 

The remark turned them both quiet and reflective of their actions.  They knew there was no defending what they’d done.  Despite the fact that Brett was hopelessly in love with Suzanne, he was still married to her daughter.  What he’d done was irreprehensible.

“Go home,” he told Suzanne.

She looked at him blankly, and then at Brett.  She was almost afraid of what would happen when they were alone together.  Would he grow violent?  Would he toss her out of the house?  There was no way of knowing except to just go home and wait.

Quickly, she grabbed her purse and keys and headed for the door.   After she’d left, Jordan glared at Brett with contempt. 

“You’ve spent the last couple of years preaching to everyone about how you’ve changed and how family means everything to you, but looking at you right now reminds me that you’re still the same con man you always were.  The same man who manipulated his way into the Blackthorne family and who conned his way into mine.”

“I love Heather and I love our daughter,” he said.  “That’s not a con.” 

Jordan chose his words carefully.  He stood in the doorway and shot him a penetrating gaze.  “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you never see Heather again,” he said.  “I won’t let you jeopardize her recovery.  That includes corrupting my granddaughter.  Enjoy what time you have left with her because I’m going to get custody of her if it’s the last thing I do.” 

After he’d gone, Brett turned and raked his fingers through his hair.  Was Jordan serious?  Was he going to try to take his daughter from him?   No.  He wouldn’t stand by and let it happen.  He’d do whatever was necessary to keep that from happening.  If that meant resorting to his old dirty tricks, then so be it. 

Jackie Lamont

After leaving her office at Merteuil Industries, Jackie Blackthorne retreated to her room at the Yacht Club and obsessed over the day’s events.  So many unknowns.  She still hadn’t gotten a clear answer on what had gone down in Acapulco or how Bryan Carlson was involved.  All she knew was that people were dead, others kidnapped, and it seemed to hinge on Merteuil freighters that were picking up product from Acapulco and transporting them to L.A.  Rob Silva from Merteuil seemed to think Bryan had made some kind of shady deal and that the operation wasn’t legitimate.  He mentioned drug trafficking, which would explain the kidnappings of the crew by a drug cartel.

How could one innocent remark to her attorney lead to so much chaos?  All she wanted was for David’s assets to not go to Brooke Taylor, the woman who had destroyed her family.  Now James and David were in Mexico on a fact-finding mission and quite possibly a dangerous one at that.  If anything happened to them, she’d never be able to forgive herself.

She’d still been unable to locate Bryan, who had been missing for an entire day.  She decided to email him, hoping it would reach him faster than the dozens of phone messages she’d left for him all over New York.  Opening her laptop, she typed out a brief note insisting that he call her immediately. 

As she did, her phone rang.  Quickly, she snatched it from the desk and answered with desperation in her voice.  It was James calling from Acapulco with the news that the bodies belonged to Cassidy Solomon and Eric Autumn and did she know who to contact that might know Eric.  She didn’t.  Nausea set in quickly.  This was all her fault.  Her innocent remarks had gotten people killed just as sure as if she’d killed them herself. 

She considered telling James everything.  Maybe if he knew the connection to Merteuil he could seek out the freighters and somehow find the people responsible for taking the others.  If the government learned of the drug trafficking they would most likely get involved.  As it stood now, they wouldn’t. 

“Jackie?” James asked when the line grew silent for a few minutes.  “What is it?”

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  The implications of coming clean were too severe.  She convinced herself that the information she could provide wouldn’t necessarily help the others.  These types of people didn’t exactly play by the rules.  It was now out of her hands. 

“Nothing,” she said.  “Just tell David that I love him.” 

“I will,” he said and hung up. 

Burying her face in her hands, she cursed herself for not saying anything.  At the very least she could clear her conscience instead of carrying the guilt around with her everywhere she went. 

Then a thought occurred to her.  Maybe Bryan could call the whole thing off.  He was a reasonable man.  Once he learned she hadn’t literally wanted Brooke dead, he would call whoever he set the operation up with and get the crew released.  Of course she couldn’t do anything about that until he turned up.  Maybe he’d read the email and call her back soon.  It was the only hope she had. 

Benji Rydell

Benji paced around the house waiting for the inevitable to happen.  He imagined his father would return home first, storm about in a fury, and then down three straight bourbons while his mother pleaded with him for forgiveness.  It occurred to him that he might have been willing to keep her secret if she hadn’t refused to let him go to New York.  As it was, he sent his father off to walk in on them together.  What did he care?  His life wouldn’t change as a result. 

Realizing his father would know he set him up upon his return home, Benji decided to make himself scarce until morning.  Best to avoid being thrown into the middle.  Luckily, he got a phone call from someone who claimed they needed his help locating someone.  It had to be tonight, Miranda Blackthorne had told him.  So he changed clothes and was ready when she arrived at the front door.

“Thanks for your help, Benji,” she said and looked over his shoulder.  “Is Jordan home?” 

“No.  Are you okay?” he asked as they stood in the entryway.  From the puffiness around her eyes and the lack of makeup he could tell she’d been crying.  When she told him the developments so far Acapulco, he couldn’t believe his ears. 

“So I have to find Summer Solomon and tell her that her mom’s dead,” she said miserably.  “When my mom started on that soap I remember Eddie mentioning once that you and Blake know her.  Do you?”

“Yeah, I know her,” he replied.  He didn’t want to tell her that he only knew her because he’d had sex with her in the alley behind Area last summer.  “We’re not especially close, but-“

“That’s okay,” she said dismissively.  “It’s better than me - a complete stranger -showing up at her house.  Especially once she finds out my mother was her mother’s biggest rival.”

“I thought Angie Dickinson was your mother’s biggest rival,” Benji said with a frown and pushed lazy bangs from his eyes.  It was common knowledge, and had been reinforced over and over during the time she was his step-mother. 

“All right, second biggest rival,” Miranda corrected herself.  “Anyway, will you go with me?  Please?”

“Yeah, sure,” he said without much hesitation.  Anything to get him out of the house when the big event happened.  He considered calling Duke and informing him about Summer’s mother.  They’d had more than a casual night together; they’d actually dated for several months before she hooked up with Jeff Branigan in his car.  But a quick reality check reminded him that he’d washed his hands of her, as evidenced when they posted the video of her and Jeff on Cassidy’s website. 

They piled into Miranda’s fire red Ferrari and headed south toward Palos Verdes Estates where Cassidy and Summer lived.  During the forty-five-minute drive, Miranda continued to fill him in on the kidnappings in Acapulco.  When she told him that Steven was taken, he was reminded of their adventure into drug dealers and motorcycles a few weeks before.  It didn’t seem real that Steven was now being held captive by the biggest drug cartel in Mexico. 

By the time the 405 Freeway dumped onto Palos Verdes Drive, they’d successfully updated each other on everything, or nearly everything that had been going on in their respective families.  He didn’t tell her that he’d given her ex-husband a blowjob while he was passed out drunk, and she didn’t tell him that she’d cheated on his best friend’s brother.  The arrangement worked out perfect for both of them. 

The Solomon’s house was a palatial estate nestled amidst the rolling hills of the peninsula and bordered by horse stables on one side and a golf course on the other.  As they stepped out of the car and proceeded to the door, the glimmering shadows from the backyard swimming pool danced across their bodies.  Miranda reached out and pressed the doorbell.  Seconds later, a stout Hispanic housekeeper appeared. 

“We’re friends of Summer,” Miranda said.  “Is she home by chance?”

“Si,” replied the housekeeper who gestured for them to enter.  After closing the doors, she disappeared through the immaculately decorated home and didn’t come back for at least five minutes.   When she did, Summer was following close behind dressed in black skinny jeans, a white t-shirt, black heels and sunglasses even though it was eleven o’clock at night and they were inside.  Nearest as Benji could tell, she was either drunk or high on something and definitely anorexic. 

“What’s going on?” the girl asked, first looking at Miranda and then letting her eyes rest on Benji.  “What are you doing here?” 

“We have some bad news,” Benji told her.  As far as he knew, she didn’t know he was half responsible for her video ending up on the internet, which was the only reason he’d agreed to come along. 

“Is this about Duke?” she asked.  “Jeff told me what he did - that he was responsible for that video of me and Jeff on my mom’s website.  You tell him the next time I see him I’ll-“

Miranda cut her off with a warm smile and gentle touch to the arm.  “Hi Summer, I’m Miranda Blackthorne.  We’ve never met but my mom was on The Young at Heart for a short time with your mom.  I feel like I know you and we’ve never even met.”

Benji regarded her with a deep frown, sensing she was full of shit but amused by her attempt at bonding with the girl. 

“Your mom’s that junkie who got my mom fired?” Cassidy asked and removed her sunglasses, dark expressionless eyes glaring at her.  “What do you want?”

Miranda decided not to get into it with her.  This was not the time to argue over who’s mom did what to who.  The poor girl was about to get devastating news that would change her entire life.  “Well, like Benji said, we have some bad news.  It’s about your mom.”

“My mom’s in Acapulco doing a movie,” Summer said, fidgeting with the bottom of her t-shirt.

“Yeah, I know,” Miranda continued, leading her into the sitting room and motioning for her to take a seat on an arched velvet chaise.  She couldn’t remember what she’d heard about the girls’ father, but definitely knew he was no longer in the picture.  “Summer, there was a…an incident last night at their hotel in Acapulco.  Some people with the crew were taken by a drug cartel.  Some others were killed.”

Summer looked at her and then at Benji.  Twisting her long black hair in her fingers, she nervously tapped her foot on the floor.

“Your mother was one of the victims,” Miranda went on.  “She’s dead.  I’m so sorry.”

Staring off with a glazed look in her eyes, Summer grew into a trancelike state.  Miranda and Benji looked at each other inquisitively and then turned their attention back to the girl. 

“Summer, did you hear what I said?”  Miranda asked, afraid that she wasn’t fully realizing the severity of the situation.  “Your mother’s gone.  We didn’t want you to hear it on the news.” 

Suddenly and without warning, Summer jumped to her feet and threw her arms around Benji, sobbing uncontrollably.  “Oh my God,” she cried.  “I can’t believe it.  I fucking can't believe she’s gone.” 

Caught off guard by her reaction, Benji grudgingly put one arm around her and gave her a half-hug without putting much effort into it. 

“Are you okay, sweetie?” Miranda asked.  She felt bad for the girl.  She was obviously already in a bad place, and then to get news that your only parent was dead had to be an excruciating blow.

“What did they do to her?” Summer wanted to know, only looking at Benji.  “Did they cut off her head?  I hear they cut off people’s heads.” 

Benji didn’t know but he decided to assure her anyway.  “No, they didn’t.” 

“Thank you for coming and telling me,” she said, her hand resting on his forearm.  “You are so sweet to do that.”

Miranda was aware that she was invisible to the girl, but didn’t take it too personally.  “That’s okay, you’re welcome.  Do you need anything?”

Benji had to repeat the question to her.  “Do you have someone we should call?” he asked.  “Your dad or a friend or something?”

Sighing, she plopped onto the chaise and lit a cigarette.  “I don’t know where my dad is.  I should call my vocal coach.  He’ll probably need a check for this months lessons and I don’t know where her checkbook is.” 

Miranda flashed Benji a look, not quite sure if Summer was in shock or really that cold.  Either way, they’d done their job.  She did as her father asked.  Now she wanted to get home and concentrate on her loved ones.   Brooke, Stormy, David, Eddie.  She needed to know they were safe.

After saying their goodbyes and offering more condolences, they headed back to the door.  Summer shot up before they could leave and tugged at Benji’s arm.

“Will you stay with me?” she asked.  “I don’t want to be alone.”

Benji looked at her and then at Miranda.  He could read her eyes, as if she were telling him to stay with the poor girl.  He didn’t know why he cared, but in a small way he did.  Plus it gave him somewhere to hang out for the night while things got too tense at home. 

“I’ll get a ride home in the morning,” he told Miranda finally, who thanked him for coming and left into the night.

Suzanne Rogers

Racing inside the house, Suzanne threw her purse onto a chair in the drawing room and began pacing back and forth in tears.  Her hands trembling, she went for the bar and poured herself a glass of scotch.  She cringed at the thought of what would happen when Jordan came home.  The look in his eyes at Brett’s condo had been a combination of anger, confusion and hurt, and she couldn’t blame him for any of those feelings.  Lifting the glass to her lips, she let the amber liquid spill into her mouth with one gulp.  By the time she’d finished, she heard Jordan enter.  He came into the room and closed the doors behind him. 

“I know you’re angry,” she said, watching him circle the room.  “If you’d just let me explain.”

“Explain what?” he demanded.  “That you have such little regard for your family that you would sleep with your daughter’s husband?  How do you explain that, Suzanne?  Tell me, because I’d really like to hear this.” 

She knew there was nothing she could say that would make any difference.  Would telling him that she’d been attracted to Brett all along do anything to help the situation?  Would explaining that she grew sexually excited by his muscular physique and boyish good looks make it okay?  Or that she wrote about her sexual fantasies in her writing class?  No.  She knew it wasn’t what he wanted to hear so she didn’t bother. 

“I was lonely, okay?” she exclaimed.  “When I moved into the house on Valley Vista I was alone all the time.”

“Benji was there,” Jordan reminded her.  “And you had Violet nearly every day.”

“You know what I mean, Jordan.  I hadn’t been with a man in fifteen years.  Brett was there and it just happened.  We didn’t plan it.”

“And after we got married?” he asked.  “Were you still lonely then?”

Instead of replying, she simply looking down at her empty glass.

He closed in on her, studying her reaction.  Suddenly everything became clear.  “Oh my God.  You fell in love with him, didn’t you?”

Again she didn’t reply.  She couldn’t even look him in the eyes.

“You did.  You fell in love with him and that’s why even after we got married you couldn’t stay away from him.” 

Tears flowing, she turned and buried her face in her hands.  Her actions did little to deny her true feelings, but she couldn’t hide them.  They were written all over her face. 

“Tell me,” he continued, “did you once think about me or our children when you went over there tonight?”

“Yes, of course I did.” 

“We were supposed to be starting fresh.  A united front to save our family from total annihilation.” 

“That’s all you care about!” she screamed.  “You didn’t ask me to marry you because you loved me.  You asked me to marry you so that you could fulfill this ridiculous fantasy that we can undo the past.  If we look happy then everything with Troy and Victor and Sylvie doesn’t matter, does it?”

“Is there something wrong with wanting to forget the pain that we all went through?  You wanted that fantasy as much as I did or else you wouldn’t have accepted my proposal.”   A pause while he reevaluated his thinking.  “Unless you only married me to try to forget about Brett.”

Sadly, that was true.  She was smarter than to believe that they could undo the past simply by getting remarried.  It seemed they both had their own reasons for going through with it.  

“I made a mistake,” she said finally.  “I never wanted to hurt you, and I certainly never wanted to hurt Heather.” 

“This would destroy her,” Jordan said.  It seemed the only thing Heather was sure about during their last visit was that Brett had stood by her during her treatment.

“I’ll end it,” she promised.  “This doesn’t have to affect her.” 

“And what about us?” he asked.  “Do you want this marriage, Suzanne?”

The truth was she didn’t know.  It was easy to tell him it was over with Brett, but that didn’t mean she could stop thinking about him and wishing it was him making love to her instead of Jordan.  

When she didn’t answer right away, Jordan shook his head dismissively and left the room.  After he’d gone, Suzanne placed her head in her hands and cursed herself for her stupidity.  Cheating on Jordan was one thing, but letting herself fall in love with Brett was the worst thing she could have done.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda woke early the next morning and checked the news to see if there were any more developments from Acapulco.  The broadcasts were now reporting about Brooke and Stormy’s disappearance, and the deaths of Cassidy and Eric, so she was relieved to have told Summer before she saw it on the news.  She wondered if Benji had stayed the entire night, and made a point to remember to call him later to see how Summer was doing. 

Glancing out the window, she saw reporters gathered beyond the iron gates of the mansion.  They were looking for a quote from her father, no doubt.  Word of his arrival in Acapulco must not have leaked quite yet.  At any rate, their presence should make for an interesting day. 

Sick with worry, and tired from having tossed and turned all night, she made her way to Michael’s room where he laid quietly playing with a toy robot on the bed.  For his sake, she attempted to appear happy and carefree. 

“Good morning,” she said with as much jubilance as she could muster in light of the heavy cloud of doom that hung over her head.  “How did you sleep?”

“I miss mommy,” he said, pulling himself to an upright position.  “When is she coming home?”

“Just as soon as she can,” Miranda replied, pushing a lock of blond hair from his blue eyes.  The same aquamarine eyes as Brooke’s.  Looking at him made her stomach do flips.  She hated to lie to him, but technically it wasn’t a lie.  She firmly believed Brooke would be home when she could.  When this nightmare was over. 

“Promise?” he asked.

“Promise,” she said, leaning down and kissing his forehead.  “What do you want to do today?”

“Adam wants to go to the park again,” he told her. 

“He does, huh?”  She decided to play along with the imaginary friend bit, hoping to get him to feel better about his missing mother.  “Well, I think you and I should just go.  Adam told me he wants to stay here and play in your room.”

“No he didn’t,” Michael replied.  He looked concerned.

“Yeah, he did.  I saw him downstairs a few minutes ago.” 

“But he’s sitting right beside you.”  Michael pointed to the end of the bed.

Although she felt ridiculous for doing so, Miranda turned and looked in the direction he was pointing in.  Naturally there was no one there, but she felt chills run up her spine anyway.  Kids were already foreign enough to her without this kind of thing.

“Oh, sorry.”  She moved over a few inches and screwed up her face.  “I think I was sitting on him.”

“He doesn’t mind,” Michael indicated, still playing with the robot.  “He says you should take us to the park because he says you were sad last night.”

The remark sent her head snapping in his direction.  “What did you say?”

“Adam says you were sad last night,” he repeated.  “He says you didn’t sleep cause you were worried about something.” 

Again, she found herself looking to the end of the bed.  She didn’t know why, but she suddenly had an eerie feeling overcome her.  It was silly, really.  Michael was a very perceptive little boy, and she hadn’t hid her concern about her father, Brooke, Stormy, David and Eddie very well.  She decided she would try harder to keep him from picking up on it. 

“Well, I’m not,” she said and lifted him from the bed.  “Now go get some breakfast from Leilani.  We leave for the park in thirty minutes.”

“Ya-hoo!”  He raced out the door screaming. 

After he’d gone, Miranda went to pull his covers up over the bed.  Her eyes grazed over the foot of the bed again and she found herself momentarily wondering about Michael’s imaginary friend.  A second later she laughed and shook her head in amusement.  Either she was losing it from lack of sleep or she actually believed there was an Adam.

It was more likely the stress and the lack of sleep.  She had no appetite and she felt nauseas, making her positive there was such a thing as worrying yourself sick.  And who could blame her?  With half of her family missing, plus the mess she’d made of her relationships with Eddie and David, it was a miracle she could function at all.  The more she concentrated on it, the more she felt like she would be ill.  Seconds later, it hit her.  She turned and ran to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before she emptied what little there was in her stomach. 

Jackie Lamont

There were two stories in the L.A. Times that caught Jackie’s attention that morning.  Sitting on the small terrace that jutted out from her room at the Yacht Club and sipping her morning coffee, she read the first one which reported on the parole of Ricardo Pacheco, former head of the Pacheco Cartel in Mexico two days before.  The article went on to assume connections between his release and the murders and kidnappings of the Sunset Studios crew, but admitted there was no evidence that one thing had to do with the other.  Jackie, however, assumed that it did.  It was just one more element in the entire ordeal that she couldn’t quite add up in her head. 

The second story delivered more of a blow and caused her to hold her coffee cup to her lips for a few lingering moments while she registered the news. 

Merteuil Ind. Director of Operations Killed in Boating Accident

A panicked chord struck in her mind as she slowly lowered the cup to the saucer.  After reading through the brief article, she learned that Rob Silva – whom she’d only talked to the day before – died when his speedboat exploded in the waters of Big Bear Lake while his wife and children watched from the shore. 

“He did it,” she murmured to herself, her mind immediately going to Bryan. 

Details of the phone conversation with Rob Silva played over in her mind.  He’d told her that he was suspicious of the deal her associate made involving the freighters in Acapulco.  Her associate being Bryan Carlson.  She was convinced that Bryan had killed him in order to make sure he didn’t investigate further.  But how did it relate to the incident in Mexico?  Frustrated, she tried to put the pieces together. 

The use of the Merteuil freighters must have been payoff for whatever went down that night at the hotel, and as head of Merteuil Industries, it could all fall into her lap.

Renee DeWitt

The remodeling of Renee’s penthouse suite at Moonshadows was complete.  The result was a two-story apartment with an elegant winding staircase connecting the upstairs bedroom to the living area on the lower level.  The décor was light and airy with luxurious fabrics and plush furnishings.   There was even an extra bedroom for when Sierra came to visit. 

Kenny had spent most nights there.  Since their reunion stemming from Jackie’s takeover of Merteuil Industries, she had proceeded with caution.  Still, it was nice to have a man around again.  Her brief relationships with Jordan and T.T. seemed a million years ago.

Kenny was already up, reading the morning paper while the maid set a tray of coffee and pastries on the ottoman before him.   As Renee sashayed down the staircase she could see the deep frown lines forming across his forehead. 

“Bad news?” she asked, floating across the expansive living room, her sheer nightgown billowing behind her.  Standing above him, she accepted a cup of coffee that he’d just poured for her. 

“I’m afraid so,” he replied, showing her the article in question.  “Rob Silva died yesterday.”

“What?” she exclaimed, lowering to the sofa and taking the paper from him.  “How?”

“Boating accident,” he informed her.  “Investigators say it was a mechanical problem with the motor.”

“How awful,” she said, covering her mouth with a heavily manicured hand.  “He was with Merteuil for forty years.  He was my father’s right hand man when he started the company.” 

Kenny told her he’d arrange for flowers to be sent to Rob’s wife and would find out when the funeral was to take place.  He placed a comforting arm around her as a few tears escaped from her large brown eyes.

“How much more bad news can we get?” she asked.  “First Stormy and Brooke being kidnapped and James and David running after them and now this?  Have you heard from James?”

He shook his head.  “No, and I’m getting worried.  I know they flew down there to find them, but they could be in just as much danger as the others.”

“James can handle it,” Renee said confidently.

Brett Armstrong

After a long night of no sleep, Brett woke up early and went to the sitter to check on Violet.  He held her for a few minutes, kissed her lovingly, and told her he’d be back that evening to pick her up.  Since Jordan’s threats about taking her from him, he began to worry every second she was out of his sight.  He decided he’d have to start taking her to the office with him.  A nanny could watch her there just as well as anywhere else.  He could set up a playroom next to his office.  She had to be his number one priority now.  Even his feelings for Suzanne began to pale in comparison to his need to hold on to his daughter. 

When he arrived at his office at Rydell, he found the door open and two men sifting through files and stacks of paperwork.  With a deep frown, he approached them and gestured to his desk.

“What the hell are you doing?” he demanded.  “This is my office.  Who authorized you to be in here?”

They ignored him and continued going about their business. 

“Hey!” he yelled angrily.  “I asked you a question!”

“They don’t take orders from you,” said a voice from behind.

Quickly, Brett spun around and saw Jordan standing in the doorway.  He wasn’t surprised to see him.  He had a feeling things wouldn’t be business as usual when he came to work that morning.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“What’s going on is that I’m having every account and every budget gone over with a fine toothed comb,” Jordan told him.  “I want to know exactly what you’ve been up to since I left you in charge these last few months.” 

“What I’ve been up to?  I’ve been running your studio for you while you’ve been golfing and getting drunk on your yacht.  That’s what I’ve been up to.”

“And I should take your word for it?  If I can’t trust you to keep your hands off my wife then how in hell can I trust you to run my studio?  If I find one figure that doesn’t add up I’ll have you thrown in jail so fast you won’t know what happened.” 

“You think I’ve stole from you?” Brett asked incredulously.  “Get serious, Jordan.”

“You tried to steal my wife, didn’t you?”

The remark didn’t warrant a response so he simply bit his lip to keep from saying something he’d regret.  He could easily have made some remark about his father-in-law’s manhood and the fact that some husbands just didn’t measure up, but he left it alone. 

“Well can you at least do this somewhere else so I can get to work?” he finally asked.  “We’re nearing the end of production on Ocean Avenue and there’s a lot of work yet to be done.”

Jordan smiled and dug his hands in his pockets.  “Oh, I’m sorry, I guess I should have told you right off.  You don’t work here anymore.  You’re fired.”

“You’re firing me?” he asked.

“Was there ever any doubt?”

Shaking his head, Brett looked around the office to determine what personal items he needed to take with him.  At that moment it didn’t seem important.  Rather than argue the point, he decided to wash his hands of the job.  He didn’t need Jordan or Rydell Productions anyway, and he refused to beg him to reconsider. 

“Whatever,” he said and started for the door.

“I hope you have some money saved,” Jordan called after him.  “Lawyers are pretty expensive and you’re going to need a good one if you want to even try to keep Violet.  Besides, judges don’t usually look in favor of unemployed fathers.” 

Brett stopped in the doorway and flashed him a look of contempt.  “Give it your best shot,” he warned him.  “There’s no way in hell I’m going to let you take my daughter from me.”

And with that, he stormed through the anteroom and down the hall to the elevator. 

Benji Rydell

Benji awoke on a chair in a dark room, shades drawn and the television on MTV with the sound low.  His neck was stiff and his back ached from the awkward position he’d fallen asleep in.  He recalled that he’d spent the night at Summer’s due to her insistence that she didn’t want to be alone.  He stayed so he didn’t have to face his parents.  While she slept in her bed, he remained contorted into odd positions on a chair, a feat no less than amazing considering he stood over six feet tall. 

He opened the blinds and squinted into the sunlight that streamed inside.  Summer wasn’t there but that was probably for the best.  He went into the bathroom, peed, and then proceeded down the hall to the stairs.  In the foyer, he saw the housekeeper flitting about with a feather duster in her hand.  She told him Summer had gone for a walk.  He didn’t ask where to because he didn’t care. 

He helped himself to a danish and proceeded outside where Blake was already waiting in his car.  He’d almost forgotten that he called him the night before and asked if he would pick him up.  After complaining about driving all the way to P.V., he’d reluctantly agreed. 

“What the hell?” Blake asked from the driver’s seat of his 320d.  “Seriously, Rydell?  You haven’t had enough trouble with this girl already?”

“Seemed like a good idea at the time,” he told him as they started off down the driveway.  “Any word from your brother?”

“You mean since he left on his suicide mission last night?” he asked.  “No.  But before he left I told him he’d lost even more brain cells than he had to start off with.  When people are dead or kidnapped, it’s best to steer clear of the situation.” 

“You heard about Summer’s mom?”

“Yeah, and you’re such a nice guy for staying with her all night,” Blake replied, his tone full of sarcasm.  “Taking advantage of her in her state of mind is classic Benji Rydell.”

“Shut up.  I slept in the chair.”

“Right,” Blake said as if he didn’t believe him. 

They proceeded toward the freeway, passed by Malaga Cove just below a steep bluff on the northernmost end of the peninsula, and suddenly Blake slammed on the brakes and pulled over to the side of the road. 

“What?” Benji moaned.  “I swear I didn’t have sex with her this time!”

 “No, not that,” he told him, pointing to the top of the bluff.  “Looks like your girlfriend’s a jumper.” 

Benji turned his head and saw Summer standing on the bluff, staring down at the rocky water below.  He didn’t think Blake was overreacting.  It did look like she was about to jump. 

“Jesus,” he murmured under his breath and pushed the door open.  While waiting for a car to pass, he dodged across the street and climbed down the rocky hill until he’d joined her on the bluff.  Blake followed but stayed a twenty yards behind. 

“What are you doing?” Benji asked, noting the tears in Summer’s eyes and the way her body trembled.   “Your maid said you went for a walk so I decided to head home.” 

“Okay,” she said. 

There was silence for a few minutes and then she said okay again.  Benji said okay and started to turn back.  What else was he supposed to do?  Talk her down from the ledge?  He wasn’t a crisis counselor for God’s sake.  She was an anorexic, drug-using twenty year old who had video of her giving head in a car plastered across the internet, and now her mother was dead, killed by Mexican terrorists.  This was so beyond his capabilities. 

Still, he couldn’t just leave her there.  “Hey, why don’t you let us drive you back to your house?”

“It’s my birthday,” she said, still staring down at the choppy, rocky waves fifty feet below. 

Benji groaned.  Seriously?  This wasn’t getting any better.  

“Well…happy birthday,” he said. 

She looked back at him and smiled.  “Thanks.  Duke called me this morning and wished me a happy birthday.” 

“Well, that's nice," Benji said hopefully.

"He said, ‘Have a Happy Birthday, cunt,'" she said and looked like she was about to cry or say something else.

“Oh.”  This didn’t surprise him.  Duke was one to hold a grudge, and finding out that Summer cheated on him with Jeff Branigan had been a major blow to his ego.  Humiliating them both had been his number one priority since he came to town.

“Thanks for stopping, Benji, but you can go now.  I know we didn’t have anything together but a quickie on the hood of your car.  Plus I was with Duke at the time.  I’ve pissed a lot of people off and I deserve everything I’ve been handed.” 

“No, you don’t,” he said, because if she did, then he definitely did.  “Nobody deserves to find out their mother died.  Especially like that.” 

She swallowed hard and sucked back a bunch of tears.  “I do.  I was horrible to her.  Do you know she blamed me for that video showing up on her website?  She wanted to know how I could be so stupid.  I’m the daughter of a major celebrity and I need to watch everything I do.  Then she called me a slut and told me I’d ruined her career.” 

Part of that Benji could actually identify with.  How many times had his father told him that his actions reflected badly on him?  Since the day he got out of school and came back to L.A. he’d felt like he was constantly under a microscope. 

“After that I told her I hated her,” Summer went on.  “We didn’t talk for weeks.” 

“Everyone fights with their parents,” Benji said, turning and seeing if Blake was still there.  He was, and was listening intently.  If he didn’t know any better, he’d think his best friend was starting to feel sorry for the girl.

“And now she’s dead,” Summer cried, teetering dangerously close to the edge of the cliff.

Benji decided that her therapist must make a fortune off of her.  “Look, you need to come with us,” he said over the sound of the crashing waves below.  He could taste the salty mist as it sprayed against his face.  “Just come with me and we’ll go have breakfast.  You know, for your birthday.” 

She started to turn to him, her eyes lighting up and her mood slowly changing.  As she began to step toward him, a wave crashed against the side of the bluff and soaked her from head to toe, its force knocking her off of her feet and taking her down to the unstable waters below.

Blake rushed forward in a panic and they both stared down at the water. 

“Jesus!” Benji screamed at the top of his lungs in frustration.  All he’d wanted to do was avoid his parents long enough for their blowup to pass, but he’d instead succeeded in pulling himself into a situation he wanted nothing to do with. 

Deciding there was nothing to do but go down after her.  He took a deep breath and dove off the bluff, praying he didn’t land head first into a rock.

Merteuil Industries

When she stepped off the elevator on the executive level of Merteuil Industries offices downtown, Jackie could sense the mood immediately.  Word of Rob Silva’s death had already spread through the infrastructure.  There were employees standing around in groups, some crying and some shaking their heads in disbelief.  Wanting to avoid being stopped by any of them, she proceeded directly to her office and ignored the sharp stares in her direction and closed the door behind her.  When she turned around, she was annoyed to find Renee standing at the window. 

“What are you doing here?” she demanded, placing her purse and keys on the coffee table and then unbuttoning her jacket.  “In case you’ve forgotten, you don’t work here anymore.” 

“I came because of Rob,” Renee said matter-of-factly.  “I assume you heard that one of your top executives died yesterday.”

“Yes, I did hear,” she said, desperately trying to stifle any absurd notion that Renee knew of her indirect involvement.  It would be impossible for her to know.  Rob was the only one besides Bryan who knew of the arrangement with the freighters.  The only one that she knew of, anyway.  “But that still doesn’t explain why you’re here.” 

“I’m here because the board doesn’t feel like you’re taking an active role in the company,” Renee explained, strutting across the room in an emerald green dress that showed plenty of bold cleavage.  “Merteuil is a family oriented company, Jackie.  These people need to feel that there’s someone in charge who cares.  Have you sent a memo expressing your condolences to Rob’s coworkers?  Did you stop and talk to anyone on your way in?  Have you even reached out to his wife?”

“I never even met the man,” Jackie insisted.  The phone call on the day of his accident didn’t count, and she wasn’t stupid enough to reveal what they’d talked about.

“So to hell with everyone, right?” Renee asked, looking at her with contempt.

“I never said that.  I just don’t think these people need me to give them permission to grieve.” 

“You really are a cold hearted reptile, aren’t you?  No wonder David risked his life to join in the search for Stormy and Brooke and the others.  With a mother like you, why bother giving a damn?”

“Don’t you be so sanctimonious with me,” Jackie snapped.  “I’m well aware that you think you’re God’s gift to children, Renee.  But I have to ask, if that’s true, then why does your daughter never come visit?  The semester’s long over.  What is she doing with her summer?  Not spending it with you, that much is true.  Anything’s better than coming to visit the mother who wouldn’t even own up to being a blood relative until the writing was spelled out on the wall for everyone to see.” 

Renee glared menacingly and stepped toward her and spoke very slowly.  “I know you’re going to mess up sooner or later,” she began.  “Whether it’s embezzlement or fraud or some other crime they haven’t invented yet, I’m going to be there to expose you.  The day you took this company from me was the day you created a permanent thorn in your side.  I will not let you run my father’s company into the ground.” 

After she’d gone, Jackie sat down at her desk and tried to remain calm.  The last thing she needed was for Renee to come sniffing around.  She had to eliminate any possibility that she could be traced to those freighters. 

Kenny DeWitt

Knowing that Jordan used a different attorney, Brett collected Violet at the sitter’s and went to Kenny’s office at the marina where he filled him in on Jordan’s threats and asked him to help. 

“You need a family law attorney, Brett,” Kenny told him as he smoothed his fingers along his thick mustache.  “I’m a corporate attorney.  I’m afraid I wouldn’t be much help to you.”

“I can’t trust anyone else,” Brett insisted as he bounced Violet in his arms.  “You know as well as I do that Jordan knows everyone in town.  He’ll make sure the only lawyers who give me the time of day are the ones you find in strip malls.  I need someone good.” 

Kenny sighed.  “Look, with everyone going on with James and the chaos down in Mexico, plus Renee losing her company, I don’t have the time.  You’ll have to find someone else, Brett.  I really wish I could help you.”

Violet started to get fussy so Brett stood up and carried her back and forth across the room.  Movement always settled her down.  “I’ll tell Renee about the call girls,” he said, out of options. 

“Excuse me?”

“I work for a movie studio, Kenny, and a lot of actors cross my path on a daily basis.  Some of them have strange requests, but the only one that’s consistent is that they like their women.  I have Gemma on speed dial and I’ve gotten a look at her client list.”

“I haven’t called Gemma in ages.”

“Then who was Veronica?” Brett wanted to know.

Kenny swallowed hard.  That incident had gotten him in trouble in more ways than he could count.  First Jackie used it to blackmail him into showing her David’s will, and now this.  When would he learn to keep his dick in his pants?

“Fine,” he said with a wave of his hand.  "I'll take your case."

Relieved, Brett kissed his daughter on the forehead.  He could tell the change in him already.  Who else but the old Brett Armstrong would blackmail someone while at the same time holding his crying infant daughter?

Summer Solomon

A few scrapes and bruises on his arms and feet were more than Benji expected out of his favor to Miranda.  But luckily that was the worst of the damage.  Both he and Summer were miraculously unscathed from the fall off the bluff into the choppy ocean water.  With an arm firmly around her, he pulled her to the shore of the cove and they both collapsed onto the sand.   Blake was there in a flash, immediately checking to ensure they were in one piece. 

“Consider this your birthday present,” Benji said through deep breaths.  He wanted to throttle her for being so stupid, but in light of her mother’s grisly demise, he decided to cut her a break.

“You are so brave,” Summer said, rising to her knees and throwing her arms around his soaking wet body.  “I can’t believe you jumped in after me like that.” 

“It was nothing,” he said, simply wanting to move on.  Maybe he and Blake should go to the Beach Club when they got back.  It was too beautiful of a day to waste.

“Seriously, Benji, you could have killed yourself,” Blake agreed and helped them both to their feet.

After a few more minutes of them both gushing over his act of heroism, he cantankerously lead them back up to the car still parked on the side of the road.  When he recommended they drive her back to her house and then take off from there, she grew quiet and appeared upset.  Blake picked up on her mood and offered an alternative. 

“You could always come to the beach with us,” he suggested when they all got into the car.  “It is your birthday and all.  You shouldn’t spend it alone.”

This perked her up again and she quickly started nodding in agreement. 

Benji rolled his eyes and peeled off his wet shirt.  “Whatever,” he said, sprawling out in the passenger’s seat in an effort to soak up the sun and dry off.

With the top down, they headed back, Summer staring at Benji as he dozed and Blake staring at her through the rearview mirror. 

Moonshadows

Once she’d begun to feel better, Miranda took Michael to the children’s park at Moonshadows and sat with her cell phone in her hand while she watched him play on the swing set.  Why hadn’t her father called with updates?  It was mid-morning and she’d heard nothing.  Even the latest news she picked up on her Droid didn’t offer anything beyond what they already knew.  That several people were kidnapped and three people were dead, including Cassidy, Eric and Mike. 

Maybe no news was good news.  She didn’t think she could bare it if the next thing she heard was that her brother was among the casualties.  Or Brooke. 

“Look at me!” Michael called from the swings. 

As she was preparing to respond to his gleeful cry, her phone finally rang.  The display indicated that it was her father.  Quickly, she pressed talk and lifted it to her ear.

“Daddy?” she exclaimed.  “What’s happening?  Are you okay?  Have you found them?”

“We think so, sweetheart,” he told her from the site of the car bomb on the side of the highway.  In his hands was Stormy’s passport that they’d found amidst the debris.  In the distance, Kyle, David and Eddie watched him deliver the devastating news. 

“Well, where are they?” Miranda asked, standing up from the bench as if she was about to spring into some type of action.  “Who’s with you?” 

“I’m with Eddie, Kyle and David,” James explained, tears in his eyes.  “Miranda, they found three bodies.  There was a car explosion and Stormy’s passport was found at the scene.”

“NO!” she exclaimed.  Her outburst was so loud and sudden that it stopped Michael mid-swing and put a look of sheer panic on his face.

“It’s going to take some time to identify the bodies but it looks like Stormy was definitely one of them. “

“No, no, no,” Miranda said, tears streaming down her face.

David grabbed the phone from James and spoke firmly and very calmly.  “Miranda, it’s David.”

“David,” she sobbed.  “No.  No, Stormy can’t be dead.”

“You need to pull yourself together,” he told her.  “You need to be strong for Michael.  You’re all he has right now.  If we don’t find Brooke then…”

She looked over at Michael who was now standing a few feet from her, eyes wide and mouth open. 

“What do you mean if you don’t find her?” Miranda cried, turning away so the boy couldn’t see the panic on her face.  “Daddy said there were three bodies.  She could be one of them.”

“We don’t know.  But listen to me, you have to stay strong.  That little boy is depending on you right now.  You can do it.  I know you can.”  He took a deep breath and turned to the water.  “I love you.”

As soon as he said it, Eddie turned and walked in the other direction.

“I love you too,” Miranda replied, raking her fingers through her hair as she cried.

When she hung up, she turned around and forced a smile on her face for Michael’s sake.  She could tell he was worried.  He knew something was wrong.  She bent down to assure him everything was fine when she began to feel light headed.  Slowly, she sunk to her knees and collapsed unconscious onto the grass.

Suzanne Rogers

When Jordan left that morning he didn’t utter a word to Suzanne about what he was doing or where he was going.  Not that she expected him to.  He’d slept in a guest room the night before and ignored her when he saw her positioned at her computer at seven o’clock that morning.  His unwillingness to talk made her uneasy and left so many unanswered questions running through her head.  Was she supposed to assume their marriage was over?  Did he want her out of the house?  If so, what about their united front to straighten out their broken family? 

When reality got too much for her to handle, she would usually retreat to the manuscript she’d been diligently working on for the past couple of months.  The story, much of which was loosely based on her affair with Brett, was nearing the point where it needed a conclusion.  But was this how it ended?  The thought made her feel depressed.  The entire thing did, really.  She’d messed up so many things that she now felt guilty for writing it in the first place.  It was nothing but a string of filthy sexual encounters anyway.  Despite the fact that her professor said she had natural talent, she didn’t want to even look at the pages again. 

Impulsively, she deleted the file from her computer.  When a window appeared and asked if she was sure she wanted to delete it, she hesitated for a long time.   She had to try to repair her damaged marriage.  She had to keep her promise that she would try to straighten out her son and provide support for her daughter.  Brett and their passionate affair was now a thing of the past. 

Taking a deep breath, she clicked the yes button. 

Yes, she was sure it was over. 

Brett Armstrong

After securing Kenny as his attorney for the fight to retain custody of Violet, Brett wasted no time in tackling his next big problem.  He was never going to be allowed to keep his daughter being unemployed.  And while he had a small amount of savings built up, he knew it would look better to a judge if he was working again. 

He arranged for a lunch meeting that day with Deacon Edgewater, CEO of Double Strike Studios, a smaller production company that specialized in schlock horror and B movies.  Not his first choice, but he couldn’t be too picky. 

He’d met Deacon’s son, Van, on a few occasions who was a friend of Benji’s and in medical school.  The connection didn’t bode well for his chances, however, because half an hour later Deacon’s assistant called him back and said he didn’t have time to meet with him.  Brett tried to reschedule but was met with an abrupt click and the line went dead.  It seemed Jordan had already gotten to him. 

Pacing around his condo in gym shorts and no shirt while Violet napped, he watched bits and pieces of the latest news on the kidnappings in Mexico.  He could always go back to running a phony charter tour operation like the one he had going in Vegas when he met Miranda, he thought jokingly to himself, but that didn’t sound like something that would impress a judge. 

Realizing his sleeping daughter would soon be waking up and demanding to be fed, he went to the kitchen and began to prepare a bottle.  Suddenly his phone rang and he answered it abruptly.

“Armstrong,” he said, balancing the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he mixed formula into a bottle. 

“Brett, it’s James,” said his former father-in-law.  The connection was terrible and there was lots of voices and commotion in the background. 

“James?” he asked with a deep frown.  He couldn’t imagine what he could be calling him about.  As a matter of fact, they’d barely spoken since his exile from the Blackthorne clan.  

His questions were answered indirectly when a photograph of Stormy appeared on the television screen.  He could hear portions of the news report which issued a statement pertaining to the apparent death of the studio executive.   His jaw dropped, and so did the bottle of formula.  Immediately Violet began crying. 

“I need a favor,” James was saying.  “I don’t know how much you’ve heard about what’s going on down here, but…”

“I just got filled in,” he said, walking closer to the television.  “James, I’m sorry.” 

“I’m in a jam, Brett.  I can’t say how long I’ll be down here or if I’ll be able to work when I get back, so I need someone to look after things at Sunset Studios.  Statements need to be made and business needs to continue.  I don’t trust Jackie and honestly I’m not sure that she’s equipped to handle anything on her own.  I just talked to Kenny and he said you weren’t working for Jordan anymore.  I don’t suppose I could convince you to come back and run things at Sunset Studios for a while?”

Brett continued staring at the news report.  His father always told him that he led a charmed life, falling in an out of trouble with ease.  He was now beginning to realize that Sam Shiveley had been right all along. 

Jackie Lamont

Locking herself in Rob Silva’s office at Merteuil Industries, Jackie spent an hour going through every single piece of paper she could find.  The result was a sea of white spread out across the floor.  There wasn’t time to be neat and tidy.  She had to find anything that could tie her to the freighters in Mexico.  It was the only thing besides Bryan himself that could link her to the chain of events.  

She hit pay dirt in the form of a document bearing her signature authorizing the usage of the freighters to transport commodities from Acapulco to Los Angeles.  She remembered Bryan handing it to her for her signature several days before.  Of course at the time she assumed he was only looking out for the company’s well being.

The second document she found was the original invoice for the purchase of the freighters, also with her signature.  They’d crossed Rob Silva’s desk which must have been why he’d questioned the deal in the first place.  The same questions that Bryan knew would expose him if he didn’t get rid of him. 

She put both documents through the shredder.

Even if she told James or the police or the FBI or anyone for that matter about the freighter’s connection to the kidnappings, who was to say it could help free Brooke and Stormy and the others?  All it would succeed in doing is raising eyebrows in her direction, and that was something she was unwilling to let happen.  She’d keep quiet instead.  As far as she was concerned, she knew nothing. 

She grabbed her purse and stood up from the chair when something else on the desk caught her eye.  A phone message pad.  She hadn’t noticed it before but she also hadn’t been looking for it.  Lifting it from the desk, she noticed that there was faint writing scribbled diagonally across the front.  It seemed that someone – most likely Rob Silva – had written a note with the message pad beneath it and the carbon transferred it to the pad.  She held it up to the light and was able to make out most of the message.

Renee, thought you’d be interested in a deal Jackie made for Merteuil.  See the enclosed document. 

The familiar chords of panic returned and she quickly tore the page from the message pad and shoved it in her purse.  If she was right, then Rob had sent the document with her signature to Renee DeWitt, who would no doubt ask questions until she got to the truth. 

She was screwed. 


Next time....

James refuses to give up hope.  Jackie panics at the possibility of Renee learning the truth.  Brett takes over at Sunset Studios.  Benji learns more of his mother's secrets.  Blake has a crush.  

 

 

Read Episode 118

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