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Episode 119

 

Release Date:  July 20, 2010

 Read the episode Recap 

 

Previously...

 

After Jordan found him and Suzanne in bed, Brett went into survival mode knowing his father-in-law would try to make his life hell.  In an effort to gear up for the custody battle with Jordan over Violet, Brett accepted a position at Sunset Studios. Miranda sensed familiar symptoms and accepted that she was pregnant, but wasn't sure if the father was David or Eddie. With Brooke held captive in Acapulco, Miranda cared for Michael who exhibited odd behavior.  

 


  

Episode 119

 

"Paint it Black"

Written by Ira Madison

 

Bourbon, straight up. It was Brett Armstrong's drink of choice as he sat in a solitary booth in the smoky bar, the last refuge for those tragically affected by Los Angeles' ban on indoor smoking. The last time Brett lit up was his misspent youth, but it felt rather appropriate to indulge at this point. With Jordan Rydell intent on hanging him out to dry, perhaps staying wet was Brett's only hope. He downed his drink as the waitress, who'd quickly become aware of Brett's intentions that night, refilled his glass.

"Thanks, darling," Brett muttered, his jaw tight from the liquor.

As he leaned back and allowed the fluorescent lamp hanging above the table to warm his face, he heard the buzz of someone being admitted into the bar. A veritable speak easy, you had to have a password to get into this place. He glanced toward the metal door as it slid open and revealed a nebbish young man, with wide-rimmed glasses and a partially untucked Ralph Lauren collared shirt.

This guy already looked three sheets to the wind. Feeling a kinship with the gentleman, Brett raised his glass in a toast as he approached the bar. The guy, however, mistook Brett's kindness for an invitation and slid into the booth after ordering a drink of his own.

"Hey buddy, I'm not really looking for..."

"I've got the money," the guy said, barely hearing Brett. He glanced around nervously, as if the long arm of the law might reach across the bar and snatch him up by his shirt. "It's all there in unmarked bills, just like you asked."

Brett's eyes widened as he saw the envelope overstuffed with presidents slide across the table. "What the hell..."

"That's all of it, I promise!" The guy's voice cracked as he attempted to raise it. The squeak caused him to sink back in his seat and sheepishly hang his head. "Sorry, I didn't mean to yell. This is just... all so not kosher to me, you know. Hiring somebody to kill my wife. My cheating whore, bitch of a wife."

Brett was floored. "You have the wrong idea. I'm not a hit man."

"But I was told to meet you here. I got your e-mails and the time, and I..."

The front door buzzed once again. This time, a man with a calm demeanor and a fresh pair of sunglasses strode in. He approached the booth and eyed Brett and the unkempt stranger.

"I said just one of you."

Brett eyed the man in the Terminator sunglasses and suddenly realized what was going on. "I'm sorry, I was just... was just leaving." He rose from the booth, leaving his glass sitting on the table. Droplets of condensation slid from Brett's fingers and he reached for the metal door. As they slipped from the handle, he wiped them off on his jeans, giving him a chance to give one last glance toward the booth he'd formerly sat at.

Brett smirked. Sometimes, all it took was blocking out the sunlight to realize what a dark place Los Angeles really was.

Miranda Blackthorne

In 1998, Phil Hartman was murdered on Ventura Boulevard.  All streets in Los Angeles were soaked with some type of bloodshed. But it is only through this bloodshed that we can be awakened, according to Dr. Monica King. Miranda Blackthorne held Dr. King's book in her hand as she perused the shelves at BookStar, right on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.

She pushed little Violet along in a stroller, while Michael walked alongside her. After babysitting duties for Michael fell on her in Brooke's absence, Miranda readily took him. But now with watching Violet, she was beginning to feel a bit stressed. It doesn't help that she was now dealing with the fact that she was pregnant.

Now it appeared Mother Nature was conspiring against her biologically and physically to push her toward maternity. It was rather ironic that Brett was the one handing a child off to her as well, considering their history. If anything, she should be done with Brett altogether after what she recently learned about him.

Having an affair while his wife was being treated in a mental health facility was about as lowdown as everything he'd done back when they were married. But part of her didn't have the heart to cast stones at him, not with her own situation she was reeling from. Pregnant with a child that could belong to either David Jennings or Eddie Distefano.

Which is what brought her here to BookStar, where the renowned Dr. King was signing copies of her latest self-help book, You Have A Dream. It was a book on using hypnotherapy techniques to overcome insurmountable odds in one's life. Dr. King herself recounted the story of how she was able to locate a long lost child she'd given up for adoption as a teenager and through her medical techniques helped the daughter get over a life of trauma and abuse.

"Just what the doctor ordered," Miranda said, not even realizing the pun as it escaped her lips. "Michael, stop playing with those books. You're going to knock them over."

Michael pouted and defiantly stamped his foot. "I wasn't playing with the books.  Adam is looking for something."

Miranda sighed, hardly in the mood to deal with Michael and his imaginary friend. She couldn't help but wonder if this child she was going to give birth to would come with his own imaginary baggage. Two children for the price of one.

"Hey, there you are."

Miranda turned around to find Brett approaching her. She could smell the smoke and bourbon on his breath from a mile away. Her senses caused her to recoil slightly, but she still greeted him with a hug. "I wasn't expecting you here. I thought you were picking Violet up at the mansion?"

"I wanted to come and pick her up," Brett said quickly. "There are cameras here. With my luck, Jordan would see you with Violet and try using that as ammo to take my daughter from me."

Miranda frowned. "And the fact that you've been drinking and driving wouldn't concern him?"

"I had one drink," Brett snapped. "Must you always think the worst of me?"

"Well, maybe if it wasn't the foot you always put forward, I wouldn't have to," Miranda suggested, handing off a book to Brett. "Maybe you ought to read this. It'll do you some good. I got to read a few advance chapters.  Dr. King became an acquaintance after staying at Hotel Terranova during her last book tour."

"I don't need some shrink's advice. Do I look like Julia Roberts? Like I wanna travel around the world or some other bullshit?"

Michael snorted with laughter.  

Miranda angrily swatted Brett on the arm. "Don't swear in front of Michael."

Brett shrugged it off and looked toward the book. "Dr. King? You Have A Dream? Is this chick for real?"

Miranda snatched the book back. "Yes."  She checked her watch. "Listen, I get to beat the line and get a book signed early, so I'll just be right back."

"No, we'll go with," Brett said, taking the reigns of Violet's stroller. "This woman sounds absolutely thrilling."

Miranda Blackthorne

Dr. Monica King, a well-preserved woman of a certain age, adjusted her ivory-colored jacket as she sat at a long metallic table. Copies of her book, You Have A Dream, were lined along the table's surface. The fresh smell of new books was always an aphrodisiac to her. The customers filing into a bookstore was foreplay. And when she spotted Miranda Blackthorne approaching, an eager smile on her face, Monica knew that she was now gearing up for penetration.

"Dr. King! It's so exciting to see you again," Miranda exclaimed.

"Yes, um...  Miranda, is it?" Dr. King said, careful to let Miranda know that while she may be a Blackthorne, Dr. King was the one with the accolades coming.

Miranda nodded.

"Great to see you again, darling. How is the hotel?"

"It's sort of, uh, gone. Earthquake."

"Oh my! Well, I apologize," Dr. King said.

"Do you have a moment to talk?" Miranda asked. "I am feeling really troubled, and I feel like you might..."

"And who is this gentleman?" Dr. King interrupted as she noticed Brett standing behind her.

"Hi, I'm Brett Armstrong," Brett extended a hand. "You must be the miraculous Dr. King. Let me guess, your middle name starts with an L."

Miranda elbowed Brett in the side. "He's just a friend."

"No, he's more than a friend," Monica decided, judging the body language between the two. "And he is very, very troubled. Mr. Armstrong, please have a seat."

Monica gestured to the chair beside her.

"I'm not interested," Brett said.

"Yes you are, now have a seat!" Monica stood and walked around the table. She snatched Brett by the arm and tugged him into the nearest chair.

Brett looked to Miranda for help, but an amused Miranda merely threw her hands up in defeat and stepped back toward Michael and the stroller. Brett turned his head to Dr. King. "Alright, let's just get this mumbo jumbo over with.

Dr. King leaned against the table and stared into Brett's eyes. "You've recently had a lot of weight dumped on your shoulders. The weight of the world, in fact."

Brett rolled his eyes. "What, are you a psychic?"

"No, I'm observant and I smell the day liquor on your breath," Dr. King answered. "Now just lean back and shut your eyes. I want you to think about the wind blowing in from the ocean. A light rain, falling down... waking your dreams..."

Brett Armstrong

"I told you that shit wouldn't work," Brett said, loading Violet into her car seat.

Miranda shook her head as she and Michael joined Brett as his car. "Dr. King's methods work really well. Are you sure you're fine to drive?"

"After listening to that woman talk for the past two hours, I am completely stone-cold sober," Brett said. "Don't worry about it. I'm fine. You just get home and... let me know if you hear anything."

"Of course," Miranda said. "Thank you so much for what you're doing for my father... despite recent events, I'm really proud of the man you've become."

"I don't even know what I've become."

He shut the car door next to his daughter, then walked around to the driver's seat. He waved goodbye to Miranda as he climbed in and started up the car. What a waste of time that had been. He didn't have any complicated problems beyond Jordan trying to snatch his daughter from him and turn Heather's life upside down.

"Let's get home, sweetie," Brett said, glancing toward the backseat.

The receding sun poked out over the horizon as Brett hit the highway. The last vestiges of its bright glow caused him to don a pair of Emporio Armani shades. As he drove, Brett's mind raced to his bogus session with Dr. King. All he did was talk about how stressful it was taking over for James at Sunset Studios.

A job that as much as Brett enjoyed it, and needed it to pay his legal fees in his upcoming custody battle, he knew was probably only temporary. With Brooke, Stormy and Jackie already at the helm under James, there was no place for Brett when they returned.

As Brett was distracted by borderline existential thoughts, his hands momentarily slipped from the steering wheel. Realizing his error, he grabbed at the wheel and tried to catch a view of the road again. But it was too late, Brett's car spun out of control and he veered into a nearby tree.

In moments, everything went black.

Gwen Hardisty

Brett's eyes were stung by the bright hospital lights as he awoke in a stark white room. He sat up in the hospital bed and looked around, delirious. He had no idea how he'd gotten here. It might be because of the car crash, the one he was just in with... Violet. His daughter. Where was Violet?

"Violet," Brett called out. "Violet! Where is my daughter?!"

"Brett, calm the hell down!"

Brett turned to the door just as Gwen Hardisty sashayed into his room. Her sun-soaked brunette hair with light blond streaks bounced over the heavy amount of cleavage on display in her nurse's uniform. Stunned as hell, Brett's mouth fell agape.

"What are you... you're supposed to be in prison! In Paraguay!"

"Uh, what the fuck are you talking about?" Gwen demanded, cozying up next to Brett. She tried kissing him, but he recoiled from her. "What is wrong with you? How hard was that bump on your head?"

Gwen paused for a moment, then remembered she had Brett's chart in her hand. "Oh wait, I'm your nurse. Duh. I totally know." She scanned the chart. "So, you suffered a minor concussion. That's all. So you can go home."

"Go home... is Violet back at the condo? Or is she with Jordan?" Brett demanded.

Gwen's eyes flared up. "Violet? Is that some new bitch you're fucking?"

"What? That's my daughter!”

"Uh, you don't have a daughter," Gwen said. "Are you okay? Do you need to see a shrink? I think Dr. Anderson is around."

Brett was startled at the mention of Dr. Anderson. "Did you just... where's my daughter?"

"You don't have a daughter!" Gwen snapped. "You don't even have a condo! You live at the Blackthorne mansion with your frigid wife, Miranda."

Brett stared down at his left hand. There is indeed a wedding band there. "I'm married? To Miranda? No, that's impossible. I'm married to Heather."

Gwen scoffed. "Uh, yeah. Right. I don't even know why I called it the Blackthorne mansion, it's yours now anyway."

"Mine? What about James?"

Gwen took Brett's hand, genuinely concerned about his well being. "Brett... James is dead. Remember?"

"He's dead?!

"When he was recovering from brain surgery, and you had me drug him to keep him away from Sunset Studios... he fell down the stairs. And he died. That was three years ago."

"None of this makes any sense," Brett insisted. "James isn't..."

"You run Sunset Studios. And there is a ton of press outside who heard about your accident, so I'm gonna have to drive you home," Gwen said.

"My accident. That's what this is all about. I'm just hallucinating or something."

Gwen laughed. "No, that's probably the liquor. I had to switch your tox screen results. I am really sick of having to switch tests for you, by the way."

"Uh, thanks," Brett said, frowning. He still had no idea what the hell was going on. But if he was dreaming, then this would be all over soon enough.

"Come on, I'm off duty," Gwen said, tossing a bag of clothing at Brett. "I'll take you home."

Blackthorne mansion

Somehow, the Blackthorne mansion looked completely different now that Brett knew what had transpired there three years ago. At least, according to whatever was going on in this fantasy of his. The mansion loomed over him in the moonlight, the palm trees before it seemed to twist every which way in jagged, cruel deformations.

Brett shuddered as he approached the house, almost as if someone had just walked over his grave. He reached into the pocket of his Seven for All Mankind jeans and removed a set of keys. Though he expected them to, he was still surprised when they unlocked the front door.

"Mr. Armstrong! You're home," Leilani said boisterously, greeting him at the door. "I heard the news report and we were certainly worried."

Brett thought he detected a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but he didn't want to press it and let her continue on her way. "Thank you. I'll be, um... in the..."

"Brett."

Brett's gaze trailed to the stairwell, where Miranda Blackthorne stood in a satin white nightgown. A slit on the left side of the gown revealed a silver anklet that glimmered with enough diamonds to clean up an oil spill. "Miranda..."

He'd always found her beautiful, that was why he was first attracted to her. But she was absolutely breathtaking as she descended the stairs, nightgown flowing in the wind from the open living room windows.

"Are you okay?" Miranda asked.

"I'm fine. I think."

Miranda walked to the front door and glanced outside before shutting it. "How'd you get here? A cab?"

"No, I got a ride from... uh, yeah. I caught a cab," Brett answered. He had no idea why he chose to lie, but he figured that Gwen Hardisty was not a person Miranda wanted to hear about in any reality.

"That didn't look like a cab outside," Miranda said.

"You know, it was a car, actually. With a driver, not a cab. So I could understand why it would look confusing," Brett responded. "So, how's it going?"

"It's going fine. I took care of some work at Terranova this morning..."

Brett was shocked. "The hotel?"

"No, the movie we're working on?"

"Oh, right! Of course," Brett said quickly. "You know, I think I'm gonna head off to bed."

Miranda nodded. "Good idea. I'll be up in a minute, honey.”

They shared an awkward kiss as Brett went to the stairs. He was only partially up the stairs when he decided against going to sleep. He shouldn't be going to bed, he should be figuring out what the hell was going on. Whether this was a dream, or some kind of alternate reality like that stupid script he'd read at Rydell a few weeks ago, he needed to get back in his own life. With Violet.

As he turned back around, he was stopped in his tracks by the sound of the doorbell ringing. He peered around the wall and saw Miranda hurrying to answer it.

"Why did you ring the damn bell?" Miranda demanded as she ushered Eddie Distefano inside.

Eddie, dressed completely in break-and-enterish black, walked in and waved a manilla folder in Miranda's face. "I got the results you need, Mrs. Armstrong."

Miranda practically gagged. "Blackthorne. I am still a Blackthorne."

"Right," Eddie said. "Are we alone?"

Miranda glanced toward the stairwell. Brett managed to duck behind the wall before she spotted him. "Yeah, we're good."

"I had to do a lotta digging to find this, but I was able to recover the original tox screen on your father."

"The original?"

"Yeah, the original. You're right. It was tampered with. There were high amounts of a sedative in his system at the time of his accident."

"At the time of his murder, you mean," Miranda said, snatching the folder from Eddie. "So this means..."

"Your father was drugged. That's what caused him to get weak. That's what caused the fall," Eddie explained. "And someone doctored these reports to hide that fact."

Miranda shook her head in disgust. "And I'd lay even odds on that someone being my revolting husband, Brett Armstrong."

Stung by this news, Brett hung his head. He remembered James' fall like it was yesterday. But he had survived it. He wasn't dead. Brett wasn't responsible for killing the man who'd shown him so much kindness recently. It just wasn't possible.

"I'll keep digging to see if I can connect this to Brett," Eddie said.

"Great," Miranda said. "But before you go, there's one more thing I need."

"Yeah?"

"Know anybody that sells wigs?"

Eddie was confused. "Huh?"

As Brett took all of this in, he found himself no longer wondering exactly where he was. Now he just wanted to know what the hell was going on here.

Jackie Lamont

The next morning, Brett immediately felt claustrophobic waking up in his bedroom. The fact that he knew it was James' bedroom made him extremely uncomfortable. He could not imagine moving into the mansion after killing James and not only taking over his company, but taking his bed as well.

As much as Brett liked to think it was better to embrace his "bad side," finding out that things were this bad in the strange place he'd turned up wasn't comforting to him. He showered quickly before Miranda rose and then headed in to Sunset Studios. Brett hoped he could get some answers there. From someone. Anyone.

Having gone to sleep and awoken, he realized he couldn't possibly be dreaming. So maybe things were like that script he'd read, or his favorite episode of The O.C. where Ryan and Taylor ended up in an alternate reality. Things needed to be fixed before they could return home. Maybe that meant he was supposed to fix things. Embrace the fact that he wasn't as much as an asshole as this Brett had turned out to be.

And what an asshole that was. Brett could never have imagined the looks he'd receive from employees as he strolled through the corridors. People immediately broke away from conversations, rushed to their desks and tried to appear as productive as possible. Had he really been ruling this place with such an iron fist?

Before he reached James' office, surely his own at this point, Brett stopped by the place where he knew Stormy and Brooke both worked. He wondered how they thought of him in this reality. He didn't have a chance to confirm his thoughts, however, when a bony hand grabbed him by the arm.

Brett turned to face Jackie, who smiled at him with a Cheshire grin. He'd assume she was up to something, but Jackie was perpetually up to something so it was futile attempting to ferret out what her latest scheme was.

"Mr. Armstrong," Jackie cooed. "Good morning. You're here early."

"Mrs. Blackthorne," Brett said, returning the favor.

Jackie shuddered. "Eww. Don't call me that. Just because I work here doesn't make me any more Blackthorne than you are."

Brett was confused. "So... uh, Lamont, then?"

"Well, it's my damn name, isn't it?" Jackie demanded.

Brett grimaced. In this reality, Jackie probably never had to marry Nathan Blackthorne to stake her claim in Sunset Studios. She'd probably blackmailed Brett into giving her a job. Either that, or perish the thought, they'd actually teamed up together to take control of the company.

"What's up?" Brett asked.

"Do you realize that damned Inception movie is going to open to stellar numbers? I can't believe you passed on that."

"I passed on Inception?"

"Did I stutter?" Jackie asked, narrowing her eyes. "You're tipping on the tightrope, young man. You can't just run this business into the ground."

"And let me guess, if I do, you'll be here to scoop it up from me?" Brett demanded.

Jackie shrugged. "Well, you know. Whatever happens."

Only this woman would have the gall to let you know she planned on throwing you under a bus in advance. Brett followed her into her office as she snatched up a yogurt carton of Activia by Dannon. She peeled back the carton and speared the yogurt with her spoon. Brett tried to speak, but she held up a finger to shush him as she took a bite of the yogurt and plopped into her chair.

"Mmm. This is absolutely heaven."

"What is that?"

Activia by Dannon. It's a great-tasting lowfat yogurt that contains natural cultures that can help regulate your digestive systems by helping reduce long intestinal transit time."

"Oh, that sounds like a great product," Brett said.

"It's important to keep your system functional well, you know. Bloating and heaviness can be a real bitch," Jackie said. "Caroline in accounting got me on to it. It was rather surprising she suggested it, though. She's bloated enough to be on display at Sea World."

Brett couldn't imagine dealing with any more of this. "Where's Stormy?" He figured he could try and find Stormy, who might be the key to fixing whatever it is Brett was supposed to fix while he was here. "In his office?"

Jackie lets out a raucous laugh. "That's a good one! That is a good one! You are really funny today! Calling the mail room an office. Honestly."

Brett furrowed his brow. Mailroom? That didn't sound promising at all.

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy Blackthorne sifted through a pile of mail on the table before him, his current state almost as much of a mess as the mailroom itself. It was a wonder anyone at Sunset Studios received their mail on time, there didn't seem to be anyone competent working here. In any other situation, Stormy would have looked forward to showing initiative and organize the mailroom to gain a modicum of respect from his father.

But that wasn't the situation Stormy was in. His father was dead and he was now relegated to sorting mail to make ends meet.

"Stormy! Can we talk?"

Stormy looked up to see Brett breeze into the mailroom, a determined look on his face. Stormy's grim expression suddenly became that much more grim, not to mention irritated.

"What do you want?" Stormy demanded.

"A moment in private?"

Stormy rolled his eyes. "No one else here speaks English. We're fine."

"Oh," Brett said, realizing that there was some sort of illegal immigration problem going on here. But he didn't have time to deal with that. "Right. Well, um... how are you doing?"

"Are you fucking kidding me?"

"I'd like to fix things, if things aren't great," Brett offered.

"Is this some kind of joke? What game are you playing now, Brett?"

This was going to prove harder than Brett had thought.

"You want to fix things? Tell me where my fucking child is."

"Your child..."

"How my sister could stay married to an asshole like you is beyond me. You trick Kelly into giving up our child for adoption before I even knew she was pregnant, and yet you still keep playing games with me? How long do I need to work here before you tell me where my son is?!"

"I tricked Kelly..."

"Tricked, drugged, whatever. It's not that hard to do with the girls down at Pooh's."

Brett placed his hand on Stormy's shoulder. "Look, buddy, I know that I might have been uh, a jerk in the past... but I think I'm gonna fix it. I've changed a lot since I had my little girl, Violet."

Stormy shoved him away. "You're whacked."

Brett took the hint and backed away to the door. "I'm really sorry. No one should have to have their child taken from them," he muttered as he strode out.

Kelly Kahoano

Warrant's "Cherry Pie" blared over the speaker system at Pooh's as Brett stepped through the doors. He was immediately met with Kelly Kahoano grinding against a stripper pole, squeezing every ounce of arousal she could get from the sparse midday crowd.

Upon seeing Brett, Kelly immediately descended the stage and rushed toward him. Her bare breasts shook wildly as she pulled him into a hug. "Brett! It's good to see you!"

Brett couldn't resist the urge to let their hug linger just a few more moments than necessary. "Kelly. It's good to uh, see you too. All of you."

"Tell me you're here because you got me a role," Kelly said. "I can't keep working here for that bitch monster."

"No, I don't have a role, I have a question..."

Kelly frowned. "Oh, well shoot."

"It's about Stormy's baby..."

"Oh God, is he bothering you about that again?" Kelly demanded. "Brooke had to throw him out of here last night, he was drunk and kept going on about keeping his baby from him. I swear to God, I almost told him the baby was yours and not his, but I didn't. I didn't tell him the truth about little Violet."

Brett's face went white. "Violet. Is... our daughter?"

"Well, duh," Kelly said, smacking gum loudly. "And maybe letting Stormy think we gave his kid up for adoption is working well for you, but it's turning into a real fucking hassle for me. You know what I'm saying?"

"Kelly! Get back to work."

Brooke Taylor stomped toward Brett and Kelly wearing a cream-colored Chanel pantsuit. A golden chain dangled from her neck, just grazing her breasts. She glared at Brett with all the intensity reserved for death row inmates.

"Do what do I owe the unfortunate pleasure?"

Brett smiled at seeing Brooke. When he'd first learned of her kidnapping in Acapulco, part of him thought she might never return. At least, not alive. But here he was, staring at her. This Brooke, however, was a very different Brooke than the one he knew. This Brooke seemed hardened. Bitter. Angry.

"Brooke. I came to see Kelly, but it's good to see you too," Brett said.

"Don't patronize me," Brooke snapped. "Come to lord over me? Think you're better than me because you run a hot shot movie studio? I'm running a business too."

Brett took in the seedy atmosphere. "And what a nice business it is."

"Is there a problem here?"

Brett's attention was drawn to David Jennings, flanked by two burly security guards. Brett tenses up at the presence of David's personal enforcers.

"No, Brett was just leaving," Brooke said.

"What are you doing here, Armstrong? Looking to make trouble for me and my wife?"

"Uh... did you just say wife?" Brett asked. "You're married to Kelly?"

"No, to Brooke you idiot," David said, exasperated. "Is all the air up there in your cushy office finally making you lightheaded? Have you finally snapped?"

"You can't be married to him," Brett insisted, grabbing Brooke's arm. "He's your brother!"

"That's the kind of crazy talk that got my mother locked up in a sanitarium," David said. "Maybe you want to join her?"

"Brooke, this is insane," Brett pressed.

"No, the only one insane is you!" Brooke cried. "Get him out of here!"

Brett tried to protest, but the guards immediately grabbed him and dragged him toward the exit.

Jordan Rydell

Somehow, the last place Brett planned on going in any reality ended up being the only place he could turn to. As he arrived at Rydell Productions, his palms were sweatier than normal after gripping a steering wheel in the hot Los Angeles weather. Brett wiped the sweat onto his jeans during the elevator ride.

He fully expected to be thrown out on his ass. If Jordan hated him normally, then he probably hated Brett exponentially in this reality. Brett reached the receptionist desk and braced himself. "I'm here to see..."

The receptionist, a petite redhead, smiled at Brett. "Mr. Armstrong!"

"Um, hello," Brett said.

"I'll let Mr. Rydell know you're here."

Brett thanked her and just like that, he was in Jordan's office in a few minutes. The biggest shocker of all, though, was when Jordan pulled him into an extremely tight and friendly bear hug.

"Brett my man, it is good to see you," Jordan said. "How are you?"

"Uh, I'm a little banged up," Brett said. "I had a car accident."

"But you're okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine..." Brett said. "I just wanted to stop and see you and uh, talk?"

"Sure, sure." Jordan gestured to the couch in the office. Brett obliged, while Jordan took a seat across from him. "So what's going on?"

Brett prepared to tread lightly. He needed to figure out exactly what was going on with his life in this alternate reality, but he couldn't risk Jordan blowing up at him like everyone else had. Jordan was his last chance. With what he'd overheard from Miranda, it probably meant he had a very small time frame before she attempted to blow him out of the water for the despicable things he'd done.

"I want to talk to you about... Heather," Brett began.

Jordan's face tensed up. He took a brief moment to respond, then said, "Don't worry. She's been neutralized."

"Um, neutralized?"

"She'll never be able to tell anyone what she saw that night at the hospital. When we killed James Blackthorne."

Anyone who saw Brett at that moment would've thought he'd just seen a ghost. His entire face went stark white. "She won't ever tell?"

"Of course not," Jordan said. "I know you did what you could to keep it under wraps, but don't worry, I've taken care of things. It certainly helped matters that Benji went and got into a car accident with Heather in the car. She miscarried your child, and cut off every connection anyone could gather between us. Now Benji's in prison and Heather will never speak to anyone about what she knows."

"She won't?" Brett asked, attempting to play along. "And how can you tell..."

"She's locked in a sanitarium, Brett! She won't be talking to anyone except for the voices in her head."

"I don't know what to say," Brett said, barely believing any of it. Heather was Jordan's own daughter, and yet he was responsible for locking her up for the rest of her life? Along with Benji?

"And Suzanne?"

Jordan smiled. "I'm still working out the kinks in that plan. But if she does try to return to the U.S. and claim what she thinks is hers, then we'll go forward with the plan to kill her. She's already legally been declared dead. I doubt the police will want to bother going through the paperwork twice."

Brett rose to his feet, feeling sick and wobbly. "I should probably go..."

"Of course," Jordan said. "We don't need to discuss this right now. There'll be plenty of time."

Brett managed to nod as he backed toward the door. But Jordan followed him to the door and stopped him, resting a hand on his shoulder.

"You know, we started out contentious but now... I see the son I've always wanted in you," Jordan said, his feelings completely genuine. "And I see so much of myself in you. That's just who we are. We don't let the world walk all over us. We're ruthless."

"Ruthless me," Brett murmured, finally turning and going out.

Heather Rydell

Brett was reminded of Arkham Asylum as he strolled the hallways of the sanitarium where Heather Rydell was a permanent resident. He couldn't imagine locking her up somewhere like this. How could anyone be so cruel? Her father seemed to be utterly heartless when he described where she was staying. And that fact that Brett teamed up with him... effectively ruining the life of a girl with so much vibrancy and heart in her was enough to make Brett sick to his stomach.

This had to be his endgame. Obviously, he was supposed to be here for Heather. His affair with Suzanne had the potential to destroy Heather and keep her from ever recovering from her mental breakdown. It could result in more than Brett losing custody. Heather could never fully recover in order to be a true parent to her daughter, and where would that leave Violet?

Brett's actions weren't just destroying his life. They had the potential to destroy every person he cared about. That had to be why he was in this alternate reality. He had to confront what he'd done to Heather head on. And he had to promise her that he would do all that he could to right his wrongs.

Finally, the nurse leading Brett to Heather stopped at a door at the end of the hallway.  Brett nodded at her as she departed, then steeled himself before reaching for the handle. This was it. All or nothing.

Brett entered the stark white room. Any trace of an outside world was effectively stripped from the room via its décor, but even the atmosphere in the room was cold and restrictive. Unbearably clean... and it made Brett feel all the more dirtier.

"Heather," Brett said, addressing the young woman huddled in the corner, head down and rocking side to side. "It's Brett."

He received no response.

"I need to... I need to talk to you, can you hear me?"

Still, he got no response.

"This is crazy," Brett muttered.

He prepared to turn and leave, but Heather finally shook her head in the affirmative.

"You understand what I'm saying?"

Heather nodded once more.

"Great," Brett said. "Look, there's something I need to tell you... it's about something I've done. Something I need to confess. I love you. So much. And our daughter too. Violet means the world to me. But I've made some mistakes... without you, I've become a weak man. A man that I'm not proud of. I... I slept with your mother. I've begun to develop feelings for Suzanne in your absence, and I can't turn them off. God, I've tried so hard but I can't. And now your father, he wants to take our daughter away..."

Brett reached out to touch Heather's arm, but she jerked away from him. Focused intently, he instead grabbed her by the shoulders.

"Heather! Please, I'm so sorry! You have to understand that."

Heather tried to turn away from him, but Brett moved his hand toward her head and caressed her hair. He needed her to look him in the eyes. So she could see how sorry he was, even if the Heather in this world might not have any idea who he is. Or how much she meant to him.

But as he grabbed her hair, it tugged loose from her scalp. Horrified, Brett jumped to his feet and brought a blond wig along with him. Out from underneath the wig was revealed to be a wild mane of brunette hair. And that's when the woman, very much not Heather, sat up to face him.

"Miranda?" Brett cried, choking as he spoke. "What are you..."

"That's not the fucking confession I wanted, you bastard!" Miranda shouted. "Tell me the truth! About how you drugged Heather, just like you drugged and killed my father!"

Confused, Brett wildly looked about the room. "Where's Heather? What the hell is going on here?"

"You really think Jordan didn't know you were trying to take over Rydell? He sold you out. He told Eddie everything about what you did," Miranda said.

Brett shook his head, indignant. "No, Miranda! You don't understand. I didn't do any of these things! I just..."

Miranda lunged at Brett, her hands outstretched like claws. She swatted at his face, knocking him back onto the floor. "Tell me the truth about my father!" She reached into her pants and removed a rather large hospital-brand letter opener, brandishing it before Brett's face. "Tell me!"

Brett, having had enough, shoved Miranda from him. "Stop it! Why won't you listen to me?!"

"You know, years ago, I didn't realize then that I'd married such a total monster!"

"And I'd married such a total bitch!" Brett spat.

Miranda dove at him again with the letter opener.  This time he responded by slapping her across the face. But in that moment, she reacted on instinct and jammed the letter opener into his gut.

Brett Armstrong

"Brett, can you hear me?"

Brett's eyes immediately flew open upon hearing Miranda's voice. As he surveyed his surroundings, he realized that he was still in BookStar. Surrounded by Miranda, Violet, Michael and Dr. King.

"Miranda... what happened?" Brett asked.

Before Miranda could answer, Dr. King shoved her out of the way. "You were under hypnosis, darling. I was truly at work!"

"Did anything actually happen?" Miranda demanded, now appearing somewhat dubious.

Dr. King looked her up and down. "Do I sashay into your non-existent hotel and question your methods? Mr. Armstrong, please share."

Brett forced a smile. "I think you were... very helpful." He took Miranda by the hand. "If you wouldn't mind driving me home? I don't think I'm in a condition to drive Violet."

Brett Armstrong

Brett sat quietly in the booth of the smoky bar, indulging in neither nicotine nor alcohol. He merely waited for a guest to arrive. Minutes later, a man in dark sunglasses walked through the door as Brett had witnessed the previous day. He joined Brett in the booth.

"Brett Armstrong?"

"Clive?"

The stranger nodded. "So you want to use my services?"

"I would," Brett said. "I would love nothing more than to hire you to eliminate the problem in my life. It was like fate intervened the other day that let me run into you. It gave me a solution. A quick solution to getting rid of Jordan Rydell. But, also, an easy one."

Clive raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

"It's awfully convenient that your services arose just when I needed them. Just when I need to kill Jordan Rydell. But you know? If I did that, then I'd be just the kind of man he is. And that might be the man I used to be, but I'm better than that now. I'm not just the same old con man. I'm not ruthless."

"Oh?"

"Also, I'm not an idiot. I know Jordan set up the entire scene the other night. What, did he think I'd approach you to knock him off, then he'd get to use that get me behind bars? That'd be a pretty quick way to take my daughter from me." Brett stood up, smiling widely for Clive. "Let your employer now that he doesn't have anything on me. And that I'm going to take away his power. You tell him that I won't let him destroy the life I've built and that I'm going to do the right thing."

"And that would be?"

"I'm going to see my wife," Brett said.

And with that, Brett strolled to the door and stepped out into the sunlight. Perhaps Los Angeles wasn't that dark after all.


Next time....

Jackie fears 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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