Benji accompanied Miranda on her
trip to inform Summer Solomon that her mother, Cassidy,
was one of the casualties in Acapulco. Summer
asked Benji to stay the night with her. The following
morning, he and Blake found her about to jump off a
bluff at Malaga Cove. Benji talked her down and
she became smitten with him. Miranda worried over
her loved ones' safety as they journeyed to Mexico to
find Brooke and Stormy and the others. After becoming
nauseous and having strange dreams, she finally collapsed
when James called to inform her that they found Stormy's
body. Jordan walked in on Brett and Suzanne making
love and blasted them for their betrayals. Later,
Jordan fired Brett from Rydell Productions and then
threatened to sue for custody of Violet. Concerned
over not having a job when it came to fighting for his
daughter, Brett was delighed when James called to ask
him to step in at Sunset Studios. Jackie learned
of Rob Silva's boating accident and immediately sensed that
Bryan was behind it. She later worried that she
would be tied to the Merteuil freighters arranged by
Bryan in exchange for Brooke's kidnapping by the Pacheco
Cartel. A carbon copy of a note Rob Silva wrote
to Renee led her to believe he'd mailed her a copy of
the contract she had signed authorizing the shipping
deal. Jack Childers escaped from Manuel and left
Brooke, Stormy and Steven who were thrown in a cell
somewhere on the outskirts of Acapulco. In New
York, Kelly Blackthorne's agent and lover, Neil Winslow,
told her that in order to advance her career, she needed
to get rid of her infant child, R.J., who was Stormy's
came home at lunchtime, Suzanne was walking around the house with the phone in
her hand trying to decide whether or not to call him. Stationed in the drawing room in cream
slacks, a peach blouse and beige pumps, she lowered the phone and tried to look
him in the eyes. She couldn’t, really.
have you been?” she asked.
the studio,” he told her, pouring himself a glass of bourbon. “Then at the attorney’s office.”
not really going through with this, are you?” Suzanne demanded. “You’re actually going to try to take Violet
away from him because of this? If you’re
angry at someone be angry at me. Don’t
take it out on our granddaughter.”
not taking it out on our granddaughter,” Jordan maintained after finishing
the glass in one gulp. “I’m trying to
protect her, and I’m trying to protect Heather.”
Brett?” she asked and raised an eyebrow.
in love with him,” Jordan
sighed and looked down. He didn’t have
to remind her of that.
do you suppose would have happened if I hadn’t walked in on you together? You would have continued your affair until
you were ready to take off somewhere together.
With Violet. How would I have explained that to Heather
when she got out of the hospital?”
you honestly think I would have left with Brett and Violet?” she asked in
don’t know,” he told her. “You were
going to leave before you and Heather’s car accident.”
was different. I was going to leave
because of your affair. Your hands are exactly squeaky clean, you
cleverly avoided the accusation. “What’s
to say Brett won’t meet another woman and fall in love with her? What’s to keep him from taking Violet away
from here while Heather is locked away?
I won’t let her lose her daughter.”
you really think they’re going to let her out?” Suzanne asked softly, then
immediately regretted it.
did you say?”
you really think they’re going to let her out?” she repeated, this time louder
and with more confidence. “Come on, Jordan, you saw
her during our last visit. You saw the
blankness in her eyes. The
darkness. She’s never coming back and
you know that.”
cannot believe I’m hearing this,” Jordan said, raking his fingers
through his hair and turning away. “What
the hell kind of a mother are you?”
flashed her an incredulous look and poured himself another drink, but before he
could lift the glass to his lips, he turned and threw it against the far
wall. Shards of glass and amber liquid
exploded in every direction.
may have already written Heather off, but not me. I’m not
going to go on as if she doesn’t exist.”
is coming home and she is going to be a mother to her daughter
just not reality,” is all Suzanne could say.
refused to discuss it any further. “Where’s
don’t know. I don’t think he came home
kid,” Jordan remarked.
do you say that?”
don’t know?” he asked her with a hint of a smile. It was a smile brought on by indifference and
resignation. “He’s the one who sent me
over to Brett’s apartment. He knew you
were going to be there. He told me you
went because Violet was sick.”
Suzanne asked. She couldn’t believe he’d
gone through with it. She couldn’t
believe he would hang his own mother out to dry just because she wouldn’t let
him go to New York.
leaving Palos Verdes that morning, Benji, Blake and Summer stopped at Manhattan Beach and spent
a few relaxing hours enjoying the sun and watching a volleyball game that had
assembled on the crowded stretch of sand.
They got frozen yogurt from Pinkberry and perched on the edge of the
stairs where the boardwalk emptied out onto the beach. From the speakers outside one of the
establishments behind them blared Vacation
by the Go-Go’s.
wouldn’t have jumped,” Summer was saying, expertly moving her yogurt around so
that it appeared she was eating it even though she wasn’t. “Sometimes I stand on the bluff and just look
down at the water.” A faraway look
appeared in her eyes as she spoke. “I
just look and then I have to turn away because I can’t take it. I just can’t handle it.”
had tuned her out an hour ago, instead spending his time looking for people he
knew on the beach. He spotted Van
Edgewater and Sheldon Novak, both taking part in the impromptu volleyball game,
and considered going up to them. Blake
seemed to be handling Summer just fine on his own anyway. Despite feeling bad for her mother’s tragic
death, he’d begun to already sense her neediness, prompting him to mentally check
out of the situation.
“You should have called someone,” Blake
said. He looked concerned. “You just went through a terrible
ordeal. I lost my dad last year and it
was really hard. I can only imagine what
you’re going through.”
he said it, Summer’s eyes traveled to Benji who lay with his legs outstretched
on the stairs, bronzed skin and sculpted body glowing in the sunlight. Blake noticed her distraction but also
noticed that Benji was indifferent, still staring off at the water and at the
he asked, not quite sure that she’d heard him.
“Nothing.” He slipped on his Wayfarers and finished the
rest of his yogurt.
stood up and hiked up his shorts before glancing back at Blake and Summer. “Be right back,” he
said and headed up the boardwalk to a bathroom.
if you don’t want to go home you can always stay at my place,” Blake
offered. “I live with my brother in Studio
City. He’s out of town so there’s an extra
is it?” Summer asked, distracted.
“What? The apartment?”
Moorpark. It’s nothing fancy but there’s
she said, repeatedly glancing over her shoulder in the direction Benji had
disappeared to. “So is Benji seeing
anyone right now?”
Blake replied quickly. “Why?”
shrugged. “Just curious. I have to go to the bathroom.”
that, she stood up and disappeared into the crowd. A set of public restrooms that smelled like
chlorine and urine were situated between two snack stands off the
boardwalk. She leaned against the cement
wall painted blue and waited for Benji to emerge, and each time someone walked
out she thought it was going to be him.
he finally came out, tying the strings on his board shorts, she quickly
approached with a smile. “Can’t believe
the line, huh?” she asked.
looked up and nodded. “Yeah, the lines
I wanted to thank you for last night. It
was really decent of you to stay. And
this morning on the bluff. You saved my
problem.” He swept lazy bangs from his eyes and stood there thinking she wasn’t
it was really decent of you.” She
stepped forward and put her arms around him, kissing his neck. When she pulled away, she placed a hand on
his hard stomach and looked into his eyes.
Brazenly, she slowly inched her fingers down to the waistband of his
trunk and let them linger there momentarily.
should get back and see if Blake’s ready to go,” Benji said casually.
her point was not coming across loud enough, she moved closer to him and
ignored the people coming and going from the bathrooms as she kissed him softly
on the lips. Her hand moved farther down
and she became instantly aware that he was aroused.
don’t you and I go somewhere private?” she asked, whispering in his ear. “Just like that night outside Area.”
closed his eyes as she worked him into a state of excitement. It would be easy to find a secluded spot on
the beach and use her any way he wanted.
She was distraught and therefore an easy target. Plus she was coming on to him like
gangbusters, most likely to ease her despair over her mother’s death. They were alike in that respect, too. He wasn’t a stranger to using sex as
he rarely made a repeat occurrence of casual hookups so he moved her hands from
his tented shorts and took a step back.
don’t think so,” he said and walked away.
she followed him back down to the beach where Blake was waiting.
should get back,” Benji said. “I need to
check in at home anyway.”
heatedly, Summer made a vain attempt at making him jealous. She went to Blake’s side and placed a
painfully thin hand on his arm. “Hey, if
that offer’s still good, I think I would like to crash at your brother’s
place. At least for a few days. I can’t handle going back to that
house.” As she said it she eyed Benji
out of the corner of her eye to catch his reaction.
Blake said with a grin.
she said, pulling him into an embrace.
The whole time she watched Benji watch them with what she perceived to
be mock disinterest. She was positive
that he was jealous.
first thing Miranda heard when she regained consciousness was the sound of a
child crying nearby. The second thing
was a gentle voice asking her if she was all right. She thought she was, but she couldn’t be sure
her focus returned and she realized she was laying face up on the grassy area
of the children’s park at Moonshadows.
The crying child was Michael, terrified after seeing her collapse. The gentle voice belonged to Marilee
Wells-Walker, who knelt beside her on the ground.
happened?” Miranda asked groggily.
fainted,” replied Marilee who helped her to an upright position.
“Oh.” She looked around and saw that a few
spectators had stopped to watch.
Humiliation quickly set in. She
struggled to recall the moments that led up to her passing out but it was a
it easy,” Marilee said, steadying her to her feet.
teetered back and forth, finally realizing how upset Michael was and doing her
best to reassure him that she was okay.
“Shhh,” she quieted him. “Aunt
Miranda’s better now. Don’t cry.”
hugged her tightly, wrapping his arms around her legs and squeezing with all
his might. She felt dizzy again, felt
that she might collapse again, and used Marilee to brace herself.
better come sit down,” Marilee said and led her back to the bench. The crowd began to disperse and Michael hung
back tentatively. “What happened?”
don’t know,” Miranda said, straining to recall the last few minutes. Finally it came back to her. The phone call from her father, the news of
the car bombing and the bodies they found inside along with Stormy’s
passport. “Oh my God. No.”
She began crying.
is it, Miranda?” Marilee asked, a hand resting on hers.
brother,” she lamented softly. “Daddy
called from Mexico
and said they found his body. And maybe
Brooke’s. They were too burned to know
gasped and placed her hands over her mouth.
“Oh no,” she whispered under her breath.
“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. What
else did James say?”
shook her head. “That’s all. They don’t know much else.”
Marilee looked away in deep concentration.
When she turned back to Miranda she wanted to know about her son. “What about Kyle? Did he say anything about Kyle?”
didn’t think to question her motives for asking. “I think he’s okay. He got away from the people that were holding
them. He’s been helping them find
look of relief washed over her face. “But
they’re not sure who the other bodies were?”
no wonder you fainted,” Marilee said.
“After news like that.”
pushed a lock of dark hair from her eyes and nodded. “Yeah, I suppose. I haven’t felt well for a couple of days so
maybe that also has something to do with it.”
been nauseas and I haven’t had an appetite.
Plus I haven’t been sleeping well.”
raised an eyebrow and turned closer to her.
“Could you be pregnant?”
thought had never occurred to Miranda.
She thought about it for a second and realized it was a
possibility. Her cycle had always been
inconsistent. She’d been sexually active
in the past few months and she’d never had a problem sleeping before.
don’t know,” she said, feeling overwhelmed.
you might want to find out,” Marilee said and then squeezed her hand.
didn’t want to think about it. There was
too much going on already.
James stood in a corridor at the hospital in Acapulco where the bodies of the car bomb
victims had been taken for identification.
David, Eddie and Kyle hung back, impatiently pacing up and down the hall
while they waited for answers.
still in moderate pain from his gunshot wound, refused to sit still. He knew he wouldn’t be able to relax until he
got confirmation that Brooke wasn’t one of the victims. He refused to consider that she was. Their relationship had just gotten off the
ground; they’d only expressed their feelings to each other two days
was so much more to look forward to. He began closing his
eyes and imagining what their reunion would be like.
continuously glared at David, still reeling over hearing him profess his love
to Miranda over the phone. As of yet, he
hadn’t confronted him about his feelings for her, but he knew they were there. He saw it in Miranda’s eyes before they left Los Angeles. For now the most important thing was to find
everyone and get them to safety, and to confirm whether or not it was his best
friend who’d perished in that car bomb.
his time, David savored the anticipation of beating the hell out of Kyle
Fenwick when the time was right. It was
because of him that Brooke was in Acapulco
when the kidnappings occurred. It was
their relationship that brought her there only two days after production began
on House of Palms. If he hadn’t lured her into his bed with his lies
and his shady manipulations, his sister would be safe at home with
emerged from a hallway with a doctor following close behind. James assumed he was a coroner because he’d
been in with the bodies for two hours.
With the doctor not able to speak English, Alejandro had volunteered to
help them with translating.
did he find?” James demanded as the others quickly assembled at his sides. “Is it Stormy?”
can’t be sure,” Alejandro replied. “He
needs dental records.”
get them,” James assured him and flashed Eddie a quick look. “Eddie, can you call?”
away,” Eddie said and started off with his cell phone in hand.
about the other bodies?” David asked.
“Can they make a positive identification on any of them?”
do know that all three bodies were men,” Alejandro told them.
means Brooke is still alive,” James said hopefully. Behind him, Kyle and David exchanged relieved
if she is, where is she?” David asked after the initial elation had worn
off. “Just because she didn’t burn up in
that jeep doesn’t mean she's alive.”
in the cell were at least a hundred degrees.
They’d been given an adequate supply of water but were suffering from
heat exhaustion and were starving from lack of food. Sweat dripped off of their bodies; Stormy and
Steven stripped down to only their shorts and Brooke in very short shorts and a
skinny tank top. They sat against the
crumbling stone wall of the cell, conserving their energy as they tried to make
sense of the morning’s events.
did they move us in the first place?” Stormy was asking. “One minute we’re in the van at some house
and the next Jack is gone and we’re being thrown in this place.”
an old jail cell,” Steven announced. “I
think it’s partially underground.”
can you tell?” Brooke asked.
on the ground.” He pointed to the walls
of the cell where the stone had been worn down along the floor. “We’re somewhere in the jungle. This bunker must have been used for holding
prisoners a long time ago.”
found himself laughing in spite of their precarious situation. “How in hell do you know this stuff?”
he replied. “We just studied ground
water last semester in geology.”
but what about Jack?” Brooke asked.
looked at her knowingly. “You heard
those gunshots back at that house, didn’t you?”
think they killed him?” Her eyes went
wide with panic. “What do they want with
us? Have they asked for a ransom?”
course they have,” Steven said and stood up.
His bare skin was smeared with dirt and sweat and his face was red from
the heat. “There’s no other explanation. They know we work for a film studio in Hollywood so they’re
trying to extort money from someone.”
grew silent for a few minutes until Brooke remembered something she heard back
at the sugar cane plant. “Jack said
something about freighters,” she recalled.
“What do you think that was all about?”
of it makes any sense,” Stormy declared, jet black hair matted to his forehead
and around his neck. “All I know is
they’ve got to be looking for us.”
“We don’t even know where we are,” Brooke
maintained. “What makes you think
they’ll be able to find us?”
bay was bustling with activity. Two
large freighters were docked at the merchant port. Pallets of boxes were loaded into the cargo
hold by a crew of men using forklifts. A
customs officer came by to inspect the cargo.
Each pallet had to be opened and its contents verified with the shipping
manifest. One by one, he gave the okay
for the merchandise to be loaded onto the ship.
a hotel room with a bird’s eye view of the port, Manuel Pacheco conferred with
several of his next’s-in-command.
the deal still going through?” one of them asked him.
why wouldn’t it?” Manuel barked.
Ricardo is dead and he’s the one who made the deal. We didn’t even hold up our end of the
bargain. The girl is still alive.”
don’t know that. She’s our insurance
policy now. If those freighters don’t
make it to their destination, they all die.”
a knife he pulled from an ankle holster on his leg, he cut open one of the
cartons their men were loading onto the freighters. Inside were bags of sugar, complete with a
hollow center that housed five gram bags of cocaine.
only way to find out what Renee DeWitt knew was to go directly to the
source. Jackie knew this and dreaded
every moment of it. If Rob Silva had
sent that note attached to the copy of the shipping agreement Bryan
had drawn up, she’d soon be linked to the kidnappings and murders in Acapulco. No one would believe her that it all started
from an innocent comment stemming from her displeasure over David’s will. Besides, everyone knew how she felt about
Brooke Taylor. Her recent takeover of
Merteuil Industries wouldn’t help her case either. And now with the news that Stormy was dead,
her conscience was eating away at her.
She wasn’t a monster. She did
feel terrible about the turn of events.
But she was still a woman who would protect herself above all else.
out in the sweltering heat, she drove to Moonshadows and proceeded to Renee’s
penthouse suite. In the hallway, she
took a deep breath before knocking.
Moments later, the door opened and Renee stood, hand on hip and with a
chilled out stare that made her wonder what she knew.
are you doing here?” Renee asked.
“Come to see the improvements I’ve made to your apartment?"
came to ask a favor,” Jackie said before brushing past her and walking inside
the palatial suite.
favor?” Renee turned and looked at her
in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding me.”
held her hands before her, clutching her small Chanel bag while putting on her
interpretation of a look of vulnerability.
“It’s about my son. As I’m sure
you’ve heard, he’s in Acapulco
with James and I’m scared that he’s in great danger.”
had Renee heard such fear in her enemies’ voice. She closed the door and turned to her with as
much compassion as she could physically provide her. “I heard,” she said. “Has there been any more news? I saw the report about Stormy earlier today.”
the mere affliction in her voice, Jackie could tell Renee hadn’t yet received
the message from Rob Silva. If he had,
she would be much cagier in her attitude toward her. Still, that didn’t mean the letter wasn’t on
that I’ve heard of,” she went on.
what’s this favor?” Renee asked.
know how close you and Kenny are to James.
I have no doubt he’ll check in with you at some point. When he does, would you mind asking him to
tell David that I love him?” The
contrived favor wasn’t that much of a
reach. Her son was on her mind a lot
lately and she’d had little to no sleep since he left for Mexico.
blinked a few times, surprised. Never
one to believe anyone could be totally evil, she nodded slowly. “Of course.
I’m touched that you would trust me with something like this.”
not to succumb to total defenselessness, Jackie regarded her with an arched
eyebrow. “I didn’t say I trusted
you. I just wanted you to pass the
she left, Renee couldn’t help but glower at Jackie’s nerve. Still, she had to admit that she felt sorry
for her in a way. Aside from David, she
really had no one.
the hall, Jackie clutched onto her bag and breathed a sigh of relief. At least she still had time to try to cover
her tracks before Renee learned the truth.
Determined, she set off toward the elevator.
Blake dropped him off at home in Beverly Hills, Benji walked tentatively inside
the house and was met with his mother’s disapproving gaze before he’d even
closed the front door. He immediately
sensed that she knew about his manipulation.
home,” Suzanne said, arms folded across her chest. “You and I need to have a little talk.”
it wait?” he asked with a roll of his eyes. “I spent the night curled up in a
chair and I barely got any sleep.” He
proceeded straight for the staircase.
so fast,” she said and followed him closely.
“I’d like to know what you hoped to get out of your little stunt last
night. It can’t be as simple as you
wanting to get back at me for not letting you go to New York.”
you’re not just a spoiled brat, Benji.
I’m your mother, remember. I know
you pretty well. You always have a
reason for the things you do and I refuse to believe you’re just that petty.”
you serious?” he asked crossly. “You’re
looking for a motive?”
cheated on my father with Heather’s husband,” he exclaimed incredulously. “Maybe I just thought that was a shitty thing
to do and thought he had a right to know.”
you expect me to believe that you did this out of concern for your father?”
Suzanne demanded, refusing to believe her son was that empathetic toward
lying,” she said, eyes flashing major danger signals. “Sometimes I think you enjoy inflicting pain on people because it gives you some kind of
charge. Or maybe you’re just angry about
everything. About being sent away to
school while Heather was here with your father and I was locked up in an
institution. But when are you going to
realize that was for your own good? You
can’t hold this grudge forever.”
Benji walked toward her. “Do you realize
what a hypocrite you sound like?” he asked.
“You fucked your daughter’s husband and you’re standing there telling me
I’m the one with problems. You are so
and hurt, Suzanne drew back her hand and slapped him hard across the face. Immediately, she regretted it but refused to
let him see. Instead, she maintained her
grounding and stared at him with anger evident.
from the powerful blow, Benji turned his defiant gaze on her. “Happy?” he asked and started up the
stairs. He stopped midway and looked
down at her. “Next time I’ll hit back,
by the way.”
he’d disappeared into his room, she turned and covered her mouth with her hands. The altercation had left her rattled and she
couldn’t stop her hands from trembling.
It was becoming clearer to her than ever that her son had issues no one
could fully comprehend.
and fearful that her emotional state would cause further panic for Michael,
Miranda took him home to Leilani and then proceeded down Mulholland in her
Porsche, tears streaming down her face.
She had no idea where she was going but all she knew was she couldn’t
sit home and wait any longer. Before she
knew it, she had arrived at the giant gates surrounding Sunset Studios. The guard waved her through and she parked
and then dashed into the building. She
needed to feel close to her father and her brother and the studio lot was like
second home to them.
as the elevator doors opened, she darted down the hall and burst into Stormy’s
office. Someone was in his chair, their
back to her and they stared out the window that overlooked the lot. Immediately, she thought she was seeing things.
she exclaimed and proceeded inside.
when the chair swiveled back around and she saw who was seated at her brother’s
desk, her mood deflated. Not that she
expected it to be him, but hope was all she had to cling to.
are you doing in here?” she demanded in a shrill voice.
your father tell you?” Brett asked and rose from the chair.
me what?” Her eyes were blurred with
tears and she took offense to him being there.
“This is Stormy’s office. You
have no right to be in here.”
father asked me to step in and run things since…” He paused, trying to think of a tactful way
to describe James’s wishes. “…everything
that’s gone down in Mexico.”
couldn’t believe her father would have done that without telling her. How could he?
Stormy couldn’t be replaced, and especially not by Brett. They’d hated each other for years. Stormy wouldn’t have liked this at all.
you just thought you’d move into my brother’s office?” she asked, picking up a
picture of Violet that was already displayed on the desk. “God, Brett, his body isn’t even cold!”
knew she was upset so he let the remark go.
Walking around the desk, he placed his hands on her arms and looked her
in the eyes. “I’m very sorry for your
loss,” he said. “I would never think of
taking over for Stormy, but your father asked me to do this. Please try and understand.”
whimper escaped her dry throat and she slumped down into a chair. “I can’t believe this is happening,” she
said, more talking to herself than to him.
With Stormy gone; her father, Brooke, David and Eddie in danger, and now
Marilee’s suggestion that she could be pregnant, she couldn’t handle any
more. It was too much. “I’m sorry I snapped. I’m glad that you could help out. I know my father would worry about the
exactly why I’m doing this,” Brett said though not very convincingly.
what about Rydell? What does Jordan think of
lowered himself into the seat beside her.
fired me,” he said. “This morning.”
sighed. “It’s a long story.”
knew him well enough to know he’d done something underhanded. She could tell just by the look in his eyes
and the sound of his voice. She was
probably one of the few people who could read him like a book.
did you do?” she asked flatly.
sort of…slept with someone that wasn’t Heather.”
responded by slapping him hard on the back of the head with the palm of her
he exclaimed and tried to rub the stinging sensation way. “What the hell?”
could you do that to Heather?” she demanded angrily, although secretly happy to
have something else to think about than her own problems. “I thought you’d changed! You were supposed to be this loyal family
man. What happened?”
case you’ve forgotten, my wife’s been away in an institution for the past few
months and it doesn’t look like she’s going to get out.”
quieted Miranda’s hostility. “She isn’t
getting any better?”
shook his head sorrowfully and looked away.
I’m sorry.” She reached over and placed
a hand on his arm. “But sleeping with
someone else? Come on, that’s not you
anymore. Who was she?”
doesn’t matter,” Brett replied. “The
point is Jordan
found out, fired me, and is going to try to take Violet from me.”
“What? He can’t do that!”
already did,” Brett said, lifting a legal document that had been messengered
over just before she arrived. “There’s a
custody hearing next week.”
my God,” she whispered sorrowfully. “I
can’t believe Jordan
could be this vindictive. It’s not like
him. What are you going to do?”
him every step of the way.” He walked
over to the desk, picked up the picture of Violet and looked at it for a few
seconds. “There’s nothing I won’t do to
James, David, Kyle and Eddie had split up and were questioning guests and
employees of the Las Brisas hotel. James
had theorized that someone had to have seen something the night of the
kidnappings. The Pacheco Cartel was huge
with many offshoots. To date, the only
member that the authorities could identify was Ricardo Pacheco, who had
coincidentally been released from prison days before. Other members were
elusive, as was any home base or place of operation. That much they had been able to determine
from the Mexican Government. To James,
it meant they had no leads on where Brooke or anyone else could be.
security guard on duty the night of the attacks was the only person who had
seen anything. Gunshots at three in the
morning had kept everyone else locked away in offices and guestrooms. With Alejandro translating, James questioned
the security guard but was disappointed when nothing came of it. All
he’d succeeded in learning was that the men had AK-47’s and took everyone over
the balconies of the rooms wearing blindfolds or hoods over their heads.
to give up, James suddenly had new hope when David stormed into the office
behind the lobby with a hopeful sound in his voice.
just detained a man at the airport for trying to buy a ticket to Los Angeles,” he
announced. “They think it’s one of the
hesitation, James flew out of his seat and followed David into the lobby.
loosened a rock from the stone wall in the cell. Steven rubbed his fingers raw in the process,
but the payoff was worth it. Then they
formulated a rudimentary plan but it was their only option. So far that day, a man with a machine gun had
unlocked the cell and entered the room with fresh water every two hours. He’d come twice already. If he followed the same schedule, the next
time would be in a matter of seconds.
her position on the dirt floor of the cell, Brooke laid with her eyes closed
while Stormy and Steven stood on either side of the door. Raising the rock above his head, Steven
trembled as the door began to open. The
man with the machine gun saw Brooke lying motionless on the floor and quickly
went to her side, leaving his weapon slung over his shoulder by the strap.
While he was momentarily defenseless, Steven raced forward and attempted to
bring the rock down to his head.
efforts, however, were halted by a second man who entered quickly and slammed
the butt of his rifle against Steven’s head, who collapsed to the dirt, unconscious
and bleeding. Brooke sensed that their
plan had backfired and quickly twisted away.
Stormy, meanwhile, emerged from behind the door and attempted to wrestle
the gun out of the man’s hands. He, too,
was knocked to the ground with blunt force.
In unison, the two armed men brought their weapons up and pointed it at
the three of them, shouting incomprehensible words in Spanish. Brooke brought her hands to her mouth and
tried to keep from screaming in fear.
no,” she said, begging the men. “Don’t
screamed again, this time louder and gesturing their guns for emphasis. One of them kicked Steven hard in the ribs
and left. The other followed,
locking the door securely behind. Brooke
cringed when the heavy sound of the door echoed through the cell and the
they’d gone, she crawled over to Stormy, conscious but wincing in agony from
the pain in his head. Steven writhed
about on the floor, blood trickling down his face from where they’d struck him
and clutching his side from the pain in his ribs.
his heart, James hoped that there had somehow been a mistake and that Stormy
was really alive and had made it to the airport and tried to book a flight
home. David said that the man they
detained didn’t have a passport. But his
common sense told him the scenario was too far-fetched to be viable. As he and David were led to a room behind the
airport security check, his fears were realized. It wasn’t Stormy.
James asked and marched into the room where Jack Childers was positioned in a
chair, skin sunburned and filthy and clothes tattered and soiled. “What’s going on? Where did you come from?”
I only knew,” Jack said miserably. Also
in the room were two Mexican police officers standing guard. “James, I’m sorry. I had to save myself.”
regarded him suspiciously. “What are you
would have killed me eventually. After
they got the money they would have killed me.”
did you do?” James asked him, his heart pounding. “Where are Brooke and the others?”
shrugged. “I have no idea. They were in the back of a van parked at some
house by the bay the last I knew.”
was that?” David demanded, growing angrier by the minute. The man’s flippant attitude infuriated
him. The fact that he was trying to
leave the country without providing any assistance made him want to kill
few hours ago,” Jack claimed. “This
and David exchanged glances quickly and then turned back to him, hungry for
answers. “Brooke was in the van? What about Stormy?” James inquired.
Stormy, and that kid Steven.”
time?” James asked. When he didn’t reply
immediately he raced forward and pulled him out of the chair by the shirt
collar, shaking him forcefully. “What
time this morning?”
don’t know!” he lamented, exhausted from the miles of walking he’d done since
escaping from Manuel and the other gun-toting men. “It was a few hours ago, all right? I don’t know what time it was.”
said the car bomb explosion happened just before dawn,” David said to
James. “If Jack was with Stormy and
Brooke after that, then that means the bodies can’t belong to them.”
news was exhilarating. James dropped
Jack back into the chair and ran a hand over his sweating face. “Okay, okay,” he began, trying to make sense
of things. “Where was this house? What were you doing there?”
shook his head again. “I don’t know. It
was big, palatial, like something out of a magazine. This person had money. It must have belonged
to this guy Ricardo.”
James asked. “Ricardo Pacheco?”
nodded. “Maybe. They wanted me to transfer money from my
account. Then the other guy shot him and
I ran. If I’d gone back for the others I
would have been killed.”
who? Ricardo?” David asked.
“Yes. Whoever he was, he’s dead.”
James began pacing the small room. He
thought better when he was moving around.
“Did you hear anything else? Did
they talk about anything before Pacheco was shot?”
simply shook his head.
David yelled, startling him.
It all happened so fast! All I
could think about was getting out of there!”
David leaned in to him, hands on the arms of the chair as he stared into Jack’s
beady eyes. “Look, we are running out of
time. If there’s still a chance to save
Brooke then you have to help us. Tell us
everything you know. Anything that you
heard or saw that could give us some idea of what the hell is going on.”
and sweaty, Jack leaned away and closed his eyes. “Something about freighters,” he said.
freighters?” asked James.
freighters at the port in the bay. I
heard them talking about a deal they made with some freighters that were going
to Los Angeles. I don’t know what it means but it’s all I
looked at David and shrugged. It was
their only lead. Maybe it meant nothing
but they had to at least check it out.
in Beverly Hills,
Benji sat on his bed with his computer in his lap, tapping at the keys a he
logged into his Facebook account. He
ignored several messages from Summer Solomon and went on to navigating to
Sierra’s latest status update. She
rarely updated it anymore but he still checked it at least once a day to see if
there was any shred of information that would tell him she was thinking about
him. Today was a different story,
however. An updated relationship status
stared him in the face as soon as he logged on.
Sierra is in a relationship. The words cut like a knife in his skin. Although it was no surprise that she and Hunt
Roberts were seeing each other, he didn’t know that it had gone this far. Updating your relationship status on Facebook
meant it was official.
Angrily, he brought
his fist down on the computer several times.
It whirred and made a few very loud beeping noises before he heard the
power shut off. Silence followed. After a few minutes of trying to reconcile
the new information, he tried turning it on again. The computer was done for. Tinkering with the battery and pushing the
power button a few times did nothing but confirm that it was broken.
“Great,” he said
under his breath, storming out of his room and down the stairs to the drawing
room. He scouted around for his mother’s
computer, which she usually left at the desk.
The new information about Sierra had upset him so much that he acted out
in a rage, never getting the chance to further investigate her Facebook
He spotted the
laptop in its usual spot. Dropping into
the chair behind the desk, he powered it on and drummed his fingers on the desk
as he waited. It looked like his mother
had taken off somewhere, probably to cry over the mess she’d made of things
since she came back from the institution.
He didn’t feel sorry for her.
Especially now after she hit him.
Never had either of his parents laid a hand on him before. And what was the monumental event that
brought it on? Because he told his
father the truth about her affair? Was
that such a horrible thing? Once again
their lack of morals was taken out on him.
As the computer
turned on, a message appeared indicating that a document had been saved in the
auto-recovery mode and asked if he wanted to open the last version of the
file. Maybe his mother had shut the
computer off before something had saved, he supposed. His fist instinct was to say no and let it
disappear forever, but instead he clicked yes and waited for the document to load.
When it appeared on
the screen, he first saw the title page.
Valley of Temptation by Suzanne Rogers. The next page started with the heading Chapter 1 and was followed by what
appeared to be a story of some kind. He
checked the document length, saw that it was over three hundred pages, and then
went back to read the first few lines of the first chapter, which got him
immediately curious. Within a few
minutes, he’d hurried through the first fifteen pages.
slowly dawning, he came to the conclusion that his mother appeared to have
written a book. and that book was a thinly veiled account of her life and her
affair with Brett.
Bewilderment quickly set in.
again to ensure he was alone, he hit the print button and waited for the pages to start appearing in
the paper tray.
had spent the afternoon searching through a file in Jordan’s home office. The file contained various records, letters,
and documents pertaining to Benji and Heather.
She found medical records, transcripts from schools, report cards,
tuition receipts, donation requests, and various other information. The document that she hoped she’d find, and succeeded
in doing so, was a list of faculty from Beau Soleil, Benji’s Swiss boarding
school. Scanning the length of the
document, she jotted a few numbers down for Dr. Kip Wolkstein, the school’s
counselor. She’d made a mental note of
the name after Jordan
and Renee exchanged ominous remarks regarding him a few days before and then
refused to clue her in to what they were referring to.
a number of phone calls, she learned that Dr. Wolkstein had a home in Los Angeles and usually
spent time there with his family while on summer vacation. A quick search through the phonebook and a
brief conversation with the maid who answered the phone led her to a large
Tudor in the Palisades.
Wolkstein was younger than she’d expected, maybe forty-five or so, and was also
very attractive and spoke in a smooth, articulate voice. She immediately felt at ease with him as they
sat in an elegant parlor room with a huge bay window overlooking a palm-lined
street. That feeling would diminish
you for seeing me, Dr. Wolkstein,” Suzanne said graciously as the maid set a
tray of iced tea on the ottoman between them.
“I have to admit I felt a little stalkerish tracking you down to your
home here in L.A.”
smiled and pushed his thick black hair from his eyes. “Just don’t tell my wife,” he said with a
good-natured laugh. “I’m only
kidding. She’s at a fundraising
luncheon. I stayed home to catch up on
I won’t keep you,” Suzanne promised. “As
I mentioned, I wanted to talk to you about my son.”
“Right. Who is your son again?” He sat facing her, cross-legged against a
Rydell,” she told him.
man began shifting around in his chair. His
gracious smile faded and he started drumming his fingers on his knee. “You’re Suzanne Rogers,” he said, phrasing it
as more of a declaration than a question.
“We’ve never met. I didn’t
realize who you were when we spoke on the phone.”
“I was…away while
Benji attended Beau Soleil so I never got the opportunity to visit. My husband did on many occasions, however.”
was a big contributor to the school.
Still is. What can I do for you,
“I’m worried about my
son. Not physically. He’s
healthy. But mentally…I worry about his
state of mind.”
Wolkstein sat forward on the chair. “Has
he done something?”
she looked up. “That’s what I wanted to
talk to you about. My husband and a
close friend of ours were talking about something that happened a few years ago
while Benji was at Beau Soleil but they wouldn’t tell me what it was. I hoped that you would.”
suddenly felt like she was under scrutiny the way a patient of his would
because Dr. Wolkstein simply uncrossed his legs and looked at her with the arm
of his eyeglasses clamped between his teeth.
Benji isn’t a student any longer. I'm
not sure how I can help you.”
The way he dismissed
her increased her frustration. “But I’m
his mother. I have a right to know if
something happened with my son. Did he
do something? Was it involving a student
at the school? Please, you have to help
me. He’s so angry. If I can just reach him I think I could help
sighed and stood up. “I think you need
to talk to your husband about this. As I
said, I can’t discuss-“
“I know what you
said, Dr. Wolkstein,” Suzanne insisted and stood up as well. “But I have a right to know. If Jordan
won’t level with me and you won’t tell me what happened, then I’ll go to Switzerland and
start asking questions until someone tells me the truth.”
sighed. “I can tell you that it’s not something that Benji did.”
waited for him to continue.
“It’s the things
that he said to me in our sessions,” Dr. Wolkstein continued. “I was concerned and I called Jordan and asked him to fly to Switzerland so
we could talk about it. I really
wouldn’t concern yourself with it now, Miss Rogers. That was nearly five years ago.”
“What kind of
things?” Suzanne demanded, angry as he led her to the foyer.
affects different people in different ways,” he told her on a condescending
tone. “Believe me, you would know if
there was a problem with your son.”
“But there is a problem,” she insisted when they reached
the door. “I feel like I don’t even know
him, Dr. Wolkstein. I look into his eyes
and I see nothing but darkness. You
asked me when I first got here if he’d done something. Why would you ask me that unless you were
expecting me to tell you something?”
“I’m afraid I’m out
of time, Miss Rogers.” He opened the
door and gestured outside. “Please give Jordan my
Before she could
protest, the door was closing in her face.
Devastated, she turned and started down the sidewalk to her car. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something
was being kept from her. Both Jordan and
Dr. Wolkstein weren’t telling her something.
She’d also seen the look in the man’s eyes. It was as if he’d expected her to tell him
something awful that Benji had done.
leaving Sunset Studios, Miranda called Jordan and asked him to meet her
somewhere. They decided on Santa Monica
Pier. Miranda was waiting when he
arrived and when he did they started off down the beach letting the waves snake
around their bare feet.
holding up remarkably well,” Jordan
said. “I would have expected you to be
in full tantrum mode right now. I heard
about Stormy on the news. How are you even
don’t think it’s sunk it yet,” she said, sweeping away a strand of hair the
wind blew against her lips. “And until
my father comes back and tells me to my face that he’s gone, I guess I won’t
sorry,” he said, squinting through the hazy sun. “What about Brooke?”
shrugged. “I haven’t heard anything
yet. The waiting is the worst part. Plus now Daddy, Eddie and David are in danger
just being there. The things I heard that
these cartels do make my skin crawl."
Alex know about what’s going on?”
said the longer she stayed in the dark the better off she’d be. He doesn’t want her recovery to be set back,
which makes sense. I can only imagine
how she’d react if she knew Stormy could be….well, you know.”
bound to find out soon. Doesn’t she get
out in a few days?”
“I think so.”
“I’ve been thinking
about her a lot these last few days – about how things ended between us. I can’t help but feel partially responsible
for driving her to the pills. I should have
done something when you came to me for help a few weeks ago.”
smiled up at him and placed a hand through his.
“You can’t make yourself love someone.”
Her advice rang true especially in her own situation. She was slowly beginning to realize what she
had to do about her relationship with Eddie.
While she cared for him very much, she didn’t know if she was in love
with him. “You have your own problems to
heard?” he asked with a grin.
saw Brett today at Sunset,” she told him.
take him long to get a new job. That guy
always lands on his feet. How much did
he tell you?”
he had an affair and that you’re trying to take Violet away from him.” She gazed out at the water before stopping
and looking him in the eye. “I know you,
Jordan. You don’t want to take a baby
away from her father. The only reason
you’re doing this is because of Heather.”
it wrong to want to protect my daughter?”
of course not. But how do think she’ll
feel when she gets home and her father is raising her daughter? She’s going to want to know why, and what are
you going to do? Tell her that Brett
cheated on her? From the sounds of it
she won’t handle it well.”
cross that bridge when I come to it,” Jordan told her, thinking about
Suzanne’s theory that Heather would never come home. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew it
was a distinct possibility. “You know,
not many people would come to Brett Armstrong’s defense. I’m surprised you would after the way things
ended between the two of you.”
was a long time ago, and I thought he’d changed. I still
do even after he did what he did.
He’s a single father whose wife is in a mental institution. Can you blame him for wanting to reach out to
some other woman?”
by her choice of words that she didn’t know Suzanne was the other woman, and he
decided not to clue her in to that fact.
The last thing he wanted was their dirty laundry being exposed all over
you need anything?” he asked as they started walking again, arm in arm. “There’s got to be something I can do to help
with this situation in Mexico.”
shook her head thoughtfully. “I just
want my family back. I want everything to go back to normal.”
normal was, she thought to herself.
knew her way around a computer so it took no time to duplicate the shipping
contract that bore her signature, change the date to one week prior to her
taking over Merteuil, print a new copy, and – using samples from old papers she
found in her office – forge Renee DeWitt’s signature on it.
a clean copy in hand, she blew dry the ink and spun around in her chair with a
self approving smile. The new document
was very convincing. No one would
question its authenticity. To the
authorities it would appear that Renee herself made the deal with the
freighters weeks ago, and she, coming on board blindly, would have had no
reason to question it.
only thing in the way now was the copy of the original contract that Rob Silva
mailed – or didn’t mail – to Renee. She
couldn’t be sure if it ever made it into an envelope. From her purse, she
pulled out the carbon copy of the note that had accidentally been made on
message pad. Rob had obviously written
it in a hurry – maybe as he was leaving for Big Bear. Maybe he didn’t mail it. Maybe he planned on mailing
it from his cabin
but never got around to it. If that were
the case, it would still be in his personal belongings.
decided she would have to pay a visit to Rob’s widow.
the last page of his mother’s manuscript clutched in his hand, Benji lay
sprawled out in a lounge chair at the pool.
His mouth had been ajar for the last two hours as he read Valley of Temptation
from beginning to end. With each chapter
he was more and more surprised by the frankness of the material. In particular the lengthy and explicit
accounts of his mother and Brett’s sexual encounters. One went on for nearly an entire
chapter. Other parts of the manuscript
expressed her feelings on her past, both marriages to Jordan, and her
pathetic attempts at excusing her behavior with a younger man who happened to be
married to her daughter. The mundane
daily trappings of life in the Valley were eclipsed by a sordid scandal that he
knew she’d written for her own eyes only.
plan steadily formulated in his mind.
Something that would surely set his hypocritical mother in her
place. Reaching beside him, he lifted
his phone and speed dialed Duke at his family’s place across town.
up, Rydell?” asked Duke Summerfield, cocktail in hand and watching from the
sidelines as a bikini-clad girl washed his car in the driveway of the enormous
estate. “Where you been hiding?”
been around,” he said, staring at the title page of the manuscript.
should hang out later.”
“Sure.” He quickly got to the point of his phone call. “Do you know any book publishers?”
grinned as the girl playfully sprayed him with the hose. “I met one at a party of my dad’s back in New York. Why?”
Benji placed the pages of the manuscript neatly in a box. “I’ve got a book that I think he’d kill to
stood in the hall outside Michael’s bedroom at the mansion and watched him as
he played with toys on the floor. He
carried on a conversation with Adam,
his imaginary friend, whom Miranda heard more about every day. She supposed it was normal for a boy his age,
just staring school, father gone for good, and a mother who’d been gone for a
week with no contact. She wondered if
she had ever carried on this way when she was a little girl. She decided to make a point to ask her father
when he returned. If he returned.
prospect of her family in such imminent danger made her sick to her
stomach. They were all in Mexico while
she was home not knowing what was going on.
The news stations had reported nothing new since that morning and the
journalists staked out beyond the front gate of the mansion knew less than she
familiar feeling of nausea returned and she raced down the hall to her
bathroom. After emptying the contents of
her stomach, she pushed her hair back behind her ears and went to the sink and
splashed cold water on her face. She
looked at her reflection in the mirror.
She looked tired and pale. Her
breasts ached and she felt bloated. All
familiar symptoms. She remembered
feeling the same way when she was pregnant with Biff. Marilee was right. She was pregnant.
the math in her head, she was suddenly faced with a more precarious
situation. She couldn’t be sure if the
father was Eddie or David.
with Neil Winslow was explosive, intense, sometimes painful, and almost always
made Kelly Blackthorne feel dirty. She
often wondered what made it so good.
Maybe it was the fact that he was still married and there was a sense of
excitement having to sneak around all the time.
Despite her pleas for him to leave his wife, Lucy, he still hadn’t. Maybe it was the kinky toys he often employed
in bed with her. Or maybe it was his
dick – eight and a half solid inches and always, always hard. Whatever it
was, she couldn’t get enough, no matter how badly he treated her.
there was the movie deal he was working on for her. A starring role in an upcoming adaptation of
a new Bret Easton Ellis novel. She’d
auditioned, went in for two callbacks, and had lunch with the film’s director
and producer. It was practically in the
bag. There was only one thing standing
in her way.
gotta get rid of that kid, sweetheart,” Neil said as he watched her twist off
the bed and walk naked across the room.
The television was on and she rapidly switched channels in an attempt to
ignore his ranting. “He’s gonna do
nothing but hold you back.”
kid is my son,” she snapped, settling
on MTV and pulling a mega short robe over her taut body. “With the money I’ll be making from this film
I can afford a nanny to stay with him all day.
I don’t see what the big deal is.”
big deal is that you’re going to be
very in demand from here on out,” Neil told her, perched on the edge of the bed
in the small apartment in Manhattan. “You’re a star thanks to Angel Assassin 2. A sex
symbol. Even more so now with that drug
cartel mess your in-laws are involved in down in Mexico. It’s all anyone can talk about. What’s going to happen when people put two
and two together and realize your son is a Blackthorne? They’re going to cast you as the grieving
widow with the fatherless child. Say
goodbye to the high-life and being labeled the next Megan Fox.”
sighed and plucked R.J. from his crib.
Cradling him in her arms, she watched as the news broke in again with
reports of Stormy’s death in Acapulco. She had to admit Neil had a point. Her son would now take on a whole new meaning
in her career. And despite how miserable she felt about Stormy, she had to look
out for herself and her career first and foremost.
she said, picking up the phone and dialing with her free hand.
are you calling?” Neil asked.
not going to give my son up to just anyone,” she said while waiting for an
answer. When an American Airlines
operator came onto the line, she looked down at R.J. and realized what she had
to do. “I’d like to book a flight to Los Angeles. One adult and one infant.”
Jackie obtained Rob
Silva’s address from the human resources office. Armed with an enormous bouquet of flowers and
a basket of muffins, she drove to the house in Granada Hills and offered her
condolences to Trudy, Rob’s grieving widow.
Despite her initial hesitation, Trudy invited Jackie in for coffee.
have a lovely home,” Jackie said without really meaning it. She thought that with the salary Rob made he
would have been able to afford a better house and somewhere other than the
overrun area of the Valley. Still, it
was elegantly decorated, most likely Judy’s influence, who was a very elegant
always wanted something better for us,” she said sadly as she poured them each
a cup of steaming hot coffee. In the
center of the coffee table were the muffins Jackie had brought. “But he bought my mother a place. A car too.
He was always caring that way. He
was a very giving man. Always thinking
about others first.”
seemed to provoke tears in the woman and actually made Jackie feel badly for
her initial take on their home life. She
realized she was often times judgmental about such things and made a mental not
to rectify that.
can’t tell you how sorry I was to hear about Rob,” she said. “I didn’t work with him for very long but I
heard nothing but positive things about his work performance.”
her eyes with a tissue, Trudy pushed a small container of creamer toward
her. “He loved Merteuil Industries,”
she said. “Since Charles died he always
said he had a personal stake in it. But
he always made time for his family.
Always. Our children are
devastated. They don’t understand why
their daddy isn’t coming home.”
poor things,” Jackie said as she stirred her coffee for a lot longer than was
necessary. “Well, I want to make things
as easy for you as I possible can. I
don’t want you to give a second thought to anything Merteuil-related. You have enough to think about right
you,” she said. “It has been a chore making all the funeral arrangements.”
course it has,” Jackie said, perfectly poised on the sofa with her legs
crossed. “I’m having Rob’s things packed
up from his office. Someone will drop
them by for you later….when things calm down a bit.”
wonderful,” Trudy said amidst a flood of tears.
in return, I’ll be happy to take any papers that Rob may have had here at your
house. Did he have a home office?”
I go through it for you?” Jackie inquired, hoping the letter to Renee was
somewhere in his belongings. “I’d be
more than happy to.”
don’t have to bother,” Trudy said while blowing her nose. “I’ll get to it sometime and I’ll be sure to
send anything pertaining to Merteuil.”
smiled as politely as she could. “The
thing is, Trudy – and I hate to be indelicate – but there may be things of a
sensitive nature that really should be dealt with as soon as possible. Again, I don’t want any of this to be a burden
a deep breath, Trudy slowly nodded her head.
“You’re right. I’ll have Martha
go through it all now. I know there’s
not much. A few folders and a few pieces
of mail. Rob was very organized.”
sure he was,” Jackie said, glancing at her watch. “Do you know when you might be able to have
Martha get it for me?”
have her do it now,” Trudy said, then called for the maid. “Please go into Mr. Silva’s study and get the
Merteuil folders for Mrs. Blackthorne.”
housekeeper nodded dutifully.
anything he may have left in his briefcase,” Jackie added.
of course,” the maid said and started off across the house.
she’d gone, Jackie pleasantly sipped her coffee while continuing to make small
couldn't help but sense that Martha, the maid, was terrified
of her employer. Perhaps behind all the elegance,
Trudy was really a hard-nosed slave driver. Half an hour later, Martha brought
a box full of tear-soaked papers and handed it to her. Jackie rose to her feet, exchanged
heart-felt goodbyes, and left the house.
she returned home, she emptied the box onto the counter of her room at the
Yacht Club and sorted through every piece of paper. Most were insignificant memos and letters
that were drawn up long before she took over.
Still, she shredded everything just to be sure.
dirt came in the form of a copy of the contract for the freighters baring her
signature. It was folded neatly in an envelope
with Renee’s name scribbled across the front.
Below that was the partially-written word Moonsh... She assumed he was
searching for an address to mail it to.
There was no sign of the note he had written to Renee that would
accompany the contract. Still, she was
relieved to learn that he had never mailed it.
happily, she shredded the contract and the envelope, confident that her
involuntary involvement would never be discovered.
Kyle, David and Eddie arrived at the seaport in Acapulco and proceeded to the commercial
freight slips. James had no idea what
they were looking for or if it meant anything at all, but he did know that they
had no other leads. At the very least they
may be able to find out who they were up against. Then with any luck they could get the Mexican
authorities to cooperate enough to investigate.
If the Pacheco Cartel was involved in shipments to Los
Angeles, then they may even be able to get help from the United States.
don’t even know what kind of freighters we’re looking for,” Eddie said as they
walked along the port under the blazing afternoon sun. “This is a wild goose chase.”
you supposed to be a private investigator?” Kyle asked with a frown. “I thought this type of thing was your
I was on a case I’d at least have a lead to go on,” Eddie remarked. He gestured to the ship docked behind
them. “This is impossible. What else did Jack say to you?”
already told you,” David said, annoyed.
“He said that he overheard the men talking about two freighters and some
kind of deal Ricardo Pacheco made before he was killed.”
had to have said something else,” Eddie snapped.
he didn’t,” David replied.
know, I’m getting tired of this attitude of yours.” Eddie pushed past James and leaned into
David. “You aren’t in charge of this
operation. If anything you’re slowing us
down. Why don’t you do us all a favor
and go back to L.A.? James and Kyle and I can handle this.”
don’t take orders from you, Eddie,” David said.
He knew what his rant was about.
Miranda. He’d overheard him on
the phone with her telling her that he loved her and now he was even angrier
than when they’d left home. “We’re all
here for the same reason. Try and
remember that, okay?”
and remember this,” Eddie said and
went for the attack.
and Kyle held him back, breaking up the fight by positioning themselves between
enough,” James said, flashing Eddie a look of warning. “What the hell has gotten into you? What is this animosity about?”
him, David,” Eddie challenged him but he just looked way angrily.
me what?” demanded James.
David has been seeing Miranda behind my back, that’s what,” Eddie
James asked and looked at David in confusion.
“Is that true, David?”
don’t think this is the time to get into it,” David said. “I thought we were here to find Brooke and
right,” Kyle interjected. “Whatever’s
going on back home can wait. Right now
we’ve got to find out what these freighters have to do with the cartel and with
Brooke and Stormy.”
to them was a forklift with a pallet of boxes on it. Eddie went over to it and inspected the
shipping manifest that was shrink-wrapped around it. He read through the contents and shook his
head dismissively. Nothing but raw
sugar, he noted. Nothing unusual about
is it, Eddie?” James asked.
the manifest closer, Eddie saw who the shipper was and looked up at the others
with a frown. “Odd,” he began. “It says that the shipper is Merteuil Industries.”
Kyle asked. “As in Renee Merteuil?”
shook his head and looked at the manifest himself. “Not anymore.
My mother owns Merteuil now.”
Satisfied that she’d covered the paper trail
linking her to the freighters in Acapulco,
Jackie could finally concentrate on Sunset Studios business. She’d received a message from James informing
her that he’d hired Brett Armstrong as temporary executive of the studio and
that he would take care of the daily operations. This suited her fine because he wasn’t family
and there was no risk in losing anything to him.
parked her car in the parking garage and stepped out onto the concrete
floor. Securing her purse beneath her
arm, she turned and proceeded toward the elevators. As she did, she heard the squealing sounds of
tires in the near distance. Pausing, she
glanced around in search of the origin of the sound.
she knew it, a dark Mercedes came careening around the corner, headed directly
for her. Frozen and unable to react, her
eyes flashed open wide. Her brain didn’t
immediately register what was happening.
that moment, Brett emerged from the elevator.
He saw the car speeding toward Jackie and quickly ran toward her,
sweeping her out of the way in the nick of time. As he did, the Mercedes scraped against
several cars parked nearby and continued on its way without slowing down. Fragments of headlights and broken car
bumpers scattered across the ground from the impact.
you okay?” Brett asked as they lay in bated breath.
think so,” she panted, still unsure of what had just happened.
you get a look at the driver?”
shook her head. “No. The windows were dark. What a maniac. Who would be so reckless?”
don’t think they were being reckless.”
Brett helped her to her feet and offered her a morbid look. “It looked to me like someone was trying to hit you.”
Alarms went off in her head as
Jackie gazed in the direction the car had disappeared in. Who would be trying to run her down? Granted, she didn’t have a lot of friends, but
was there actually an enemy out there who want her dead?
someone is trying to kill her. An old friend of
Brett's returns. Jordan is there for Alex when
she is released from rehab. Renee gets a special
delivery from Trudy's maid.
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