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.
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
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
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
still felt no sense of relief. Their
security guard was dead and there was no sign of any of the others that had
“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
“I love you too,
Daddy. Give David and Eddie my
“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.”
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.
said, propping his golf bag inside the door.
“What’s going on?”
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.”
for?” he asked, removing his driving gloves and tucking them in his back
emergency with Violet, I think,” he told him.
“She ran out of here in a hurry.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
she looked over his shoulder and saw her husband standing in the doorway.
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…”
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.
dressed,” he ordered before turning and stalking back into the living
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.
to have interrupted,” he said, face red and veins throbbing.
please-“ Suzanne began, her entire body trembling.
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.”
streamed down her face and she looked at Brett for some kind of guidance.
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.”
don’t know,” she cried, shaking her head.
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
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.
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?”
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.
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?”
shook his head. “Not then. But soon after.”
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
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.”
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.”
stared at her, and then turned his attention to Brett. “Where’s my garnddaugher?”
sent her to a sitter,” he told him.
“I wouldn’t have her in the apartment knowing what was going to happen.”
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.
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.”
a baby,” Suzanne said. “She didn’t know
what was going on.”
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.”
never wanted to hurt you,” Suzanne said.
stepped closer. “What about
Heather? Did you mean to hurt her?”
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
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
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
you did, you would have never started,” Jordan said flatly.
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.
home,” he told Suzanne.
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.
she grabbed her purse and keys and headed for the door. After she’d left, Jordan glared at Brett with contempt.
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.”
love Heather and I love our daughter,” he said.
“That’s not a con.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
James asked when the line grew silent for a few minutes. “What is it?”
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
she said. “Just tell David that I love
will,” he said and hung up.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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-“
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.”
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.
right, second biggest rival,” Miranda corrected herself. “Anyway, will you go with me? Please?”
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
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.
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.
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.
friends of Summer,” Miranda said. “Is
she home by chance?”
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.
going on?” the girl asked, first looking at Miranda and then letting her eyes
rest on Benji. “What are you doing
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.
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-“
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.”
regarded her with a deep frown, sensing she was full of shit but amused by her
attempt at bonding with the girl.
mom’s that junkie who got my mom fired?” Cassidy asked and removed her
sunglasses, dark expressionless eyes glaring at her. “What do you
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.”
mom’s in Acapulco
doing a movie,” Summer said, fidgeting with the bottom of her t-shirt.
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.”
looked at her and then at Benji.
Twisting her long black hair in her fingers, she nervously tapped her
foot on the floor.
mother was one of the victims,” Miranda went on. “She’s dead.
I’m so sorry.”
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.
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
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.”
off guard by her reaction, Benji grudgingly put one arm around her and gave her
a half-hug without putting much effort into it.
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.
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.”
didn’t know but he decided to assure her anyway. “No, they didn’t.”
you for coming and telling me,” she said, her hand resting on his forearm. “You are so sweet to do that.”
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?”
had to repeat the question to her. “Do
you have someone we should call?” he asked.
“Your dad or a friend or something?”
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.”
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.
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.
you stay with me?” she asked. “I don’t
want to be alone.”
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.
get a ride home in the morning,” he told Miranda finally, who thanked him for
coming and left into the night.
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.
know you’re angry,” she said, watching him circle the room. “If you’d just let me 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.”
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.
was lonely, okay?” she exclaimed. “When
I moved into the house on Valley Vista I was alone all the time.”
was there,” Jordan
reminded her. “And you had Violet nearly
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.”
after we got married?” he asked. “Were
you still lonely then?”
of replying, she simply looking down at her empty glass.
closed in on her, studying her reaction. Suddenly everything became clear. “Oh my God.
You fell in love with him, didn’t you?”
she didn’t reply. She couldn’t even look
him in the eyes.
You fell in love with him and that’s why even after we got married you
couldn’t stay away from him.”
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.
me,” he continued, “did you once think
about me or our children when you went over there tonight?”
of course I did.”
were supposed to be starting fresh. A
united front to save our family from total annihilation.”
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?”
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.”
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.
made a mistake,” she said finally. “I
never wanted to hurt you, and I certainly never wanted to hurt Heather.”
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
end it,” she promised. “This doesn’t
have to affect her.”
what about us?” he asked. “Do you want
this marriage, Suzanne?”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?”
miss mommy,” he said, pulling himself to an upright position. “When is she coming home?”
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.
she said, leaning down and kissing his forehead. “What do you want to do today?”
wants to go to the park again,” he told her.
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.”
he didn’t,” Michael replied. He looked
he did. I saw him downstairs a few
he’s sitting right beside you.” Michael
pointed to the end of the bed.
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.
sorry.” She moved over a few inches and
screwed up her face. “I think I was
sitting on him.”
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.”
remark sent her head snapping in his direction.
“What did you say?”
says you were sad last night,” he repeated.
“He says you didn’t sleep cause you were worried about something.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
while his wife and children watched from the shore.
did it,” she murmured to herself, her mind immediately going to Bryan.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
afraid so,” he replied, showing her the article in question. “Rob Silva died yesterday.”
she exclaimed, lowering to the sofa and taking the paper from him. “How?”
accident,” he informed her. “Investigators
say it was a mechanical problem with the motor.”
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.”
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
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
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.”
can handle it,” Renee said confidently.
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.
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.
the hell are you doing?” he demanded.
“This is my office. Who
authorized you to be in here?”
ignored him and continued going about their business.
he yelled angrily. “I asked you a
don’t take orders from you,” said a voice from behind.
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.
going on?” he asked.
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.”
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.”
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
think I’ve stole from you?” Brett asked incredulously. “Get serious, Jordan.”
tried to steal my wife, didn’t you?”
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.
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.”
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.”
firing me?” he asked.
there ever any doubt?”
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.
he said and started for the door.
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.”
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.”
with that, he stormed through the anteroom and down the hall to the
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.
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.
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.
the hell?” Blake asked from the driver’s seat of his 320d. “Seriously, Rydell? You haven’t had enough trouble with this girl
like a good idea at the time,” he told him as they started off down the
driveway. “Any word from your brother?”
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.”
heard about Summer’s mom?”
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.”
up. I slept in the chair.”
Blake said as if he didn’t believe him.
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.
Benji moaned. “I swear I didn’t have sex
with her this time!”
not that,” he told him, pointing to the top of the bluff. “Looks like your girlfriend’s a jumper.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
he couldn’t just leave her there. “Hey,
why don’t you let us drive you back to your house?”
my birthday,” she said, still staring down at the choppy, rocky waves fifty
groaned. Seriously? This wasn’t getting any better.
birthday,” he said.
looked back at him and smiled.
“Thanks. Duke called me this
morning and wished me a happy birthday.”
that's nice," Benji said hopefully.
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.
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.”
you don’t,” he said, because if she did, then he definitely did. “Nobody deserves to find out their mother
died. Especially like that.”
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.”
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.
that I told her I hated her,” Summer went on.
“We didn’t talk for weeks.”
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.
now she’s dead,” Summer cried, teetering dangerously close to the edge of the
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
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
rushed forward in a panic and they both stared down at the water.
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.
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
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.”
came because of Rob,” Renee said matter-of-factly. “I assume you heard that one of your top
executives died yesterday.”
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 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
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.
to hell with everyone, right?” Renee asked, looking at her with contempt.
never said that. I just don’t think
these people need me to give them permission to grieve.”
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?”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
haven’t called Gemma in ages.”
who was Veronica?” Brett wanted to know.
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?
he said with a wave of his hand. "I'll take your case."
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?
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.
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
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.”
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.
Benji, you could have killed yourself,” Blake agreed and helped them both to
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.
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.”
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.
the top down, they headed back, Summer staring at Benji as he dozed and Blake
staring at her through the rearview mirror.
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.
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.
at me!” Michael called from the swings.
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.
she exclaimed. “What’s happening? Are you okay?
Have you found them?”
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
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?”
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.”
she exclaimed. Her outburst was so loud
and sudden that it stopped Michael mid-swing and put a look of sheer panic on
going to take some time to identify the bodies but it looks like Stormy was
definitely one of them. “
no, no,” Miranda said, tears streaming down her face.
grabbed the phone from James and spoke firmly and very calmly. “Miranda, it’s David.”
she sobbed. “No.
No, Stormy can’t be dead.”
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…”
looked over at Michael who was now standing a few feet from her, eyes wide and
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.”
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.”
soon as he said it, Eddie turned and walked in the other direction.
love you too,” Miranda replied, raking her fingers through her hair as she
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.
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
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.
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.
a deep breath, she clicked the yes button.
she was sure it was over.
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.
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
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.
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.
said, balancing the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he mixed formula
into a bottle.
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
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?”
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.
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
Renee, thought you’d be interested in a deal Jackie
made for Merteuil. See the enclosed document.
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.
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.
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