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.
by Ira Madison
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.
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.
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."
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
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
"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.
smirked. Sometimes, all it took was blocking out the sunlight to realize what
a dark place Los Angeles really was.
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
Michael pouted and
defiantly stamped his foot. "I wasn't playing with the books. Adam is
looking for something."
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.
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."
"And the fact that you've been drinking and driving wouldn't concern
"I had one
drink," Brett snapped. "Must you always think the worst of me?"
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?"
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
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."
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
It's so exciting to see you again," Miranda exclaimed.
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.
"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
"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."
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.
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?"
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
"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?"
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."
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
"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.
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.
everything went black.
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?
Brett called out. "Violet! Where is my daughter?!"
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.
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
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?"
"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
"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."
"Uh, yeah. Right. I don't even know why I called it the Blackthorne
mansion, it's yours now anyway."
Gwen took Brett's
hand, genuinely concerned about his well being. "Brett... James is 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
"None of this
makes any sense," Brett insisted. "James isn't..."
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.
That's what this is all about. I'm just hallucinating or something."
"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."
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
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.
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..."
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.
okay?" Miranda asked.
"I'm fine. I
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.
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?"
fine. I took care of some work at Terranova this morning..."
Brett was shocked.
"No, the movie we're working on?"
"Oh, right! Of
course," Brett said quickly. "You know, I think I'm gonna head off to
"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.
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."
gagged. "Blackthorne. I am still a Blackthorne."
Eddie said. "Are we alone?"
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."
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..."
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
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.
digging to see if I can connect this to Brett," Eddie said.
Miranda said. "But before you go, there's one more thing I need."
that sells wigs?"
Eddie was confused.
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.
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.
Armstrong," Jackie cooed. "Good morning. You're here early."
Blackthorne," Brett said, returning the favor.
"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.
up?" Brett asked.
realize that damned Inception movie
is going to open to stellar numbers? I can't believe you passed on that."
"I passed on Inception?"
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.
"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
“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."
sounds like a great product," Brett said.
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."
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 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 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
Stormy rolled his
eyes. "No one else here speaks English. We're fine."
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?"
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."
"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?!"
drugged, whatever. It's not that hard to do with the girls down at
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.
"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
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."
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..."
"Oh, well shoot."
"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?"
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?"
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.
came to see Kelly, but it's good to see you too," Brett said.
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
Brett took in the
seedy atmosphere. "And what a nice business it is."
"Is there a
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
kind of crazy talk that got my mother locked up in a sanitarium," David
said. "Maybe you want to join her?"
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
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!"
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."
fine..." Brett said. "I just wanted to stop and see you and uh,
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.
tensed up. He took a brief moment to respond, then said, "Don't worry.
She's been neutralized."
be able to tell anyone what she saw that night at the hospital. When we killed
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?"
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."
won't?" Brett asked, attempting to play along. "And how can you
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?
"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..."
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."
me," Brett murmured, finally turning and going out.
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?
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.
Brett said, addressing the young woman huddled in the corner, head down and
rocking side to side. "It's Brett."
He received no
"I need to...
I need to talk to you, can you hear me?"
Still, he got no
crazy," Brett muttered.
He prepared to turn
and leave, but Heather finally shook her head in the affirmative.
understand what I'm saying?"
Heather nodded once
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.
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.
Brett cried, choking as he spoke. "What are you..."
the fucking confession I wanted, you bastard!" Miranda shouted. "Tell
me the truth! About how you drugged Heather, just like you drugged and killed
wildly looked about the room. "Where's Heather? What the hell is going on
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
years ago, I didn't realize then that I'd married such a total monster!"
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.
you hear me?"
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.
what happened?" Brett asked.
could answer, Dr. King shoved her out of the way. "You were under
hypnosis, darling. I was truly at work!"
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 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.
nodded. "So you want to use my services?"
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?"
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."
"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."
"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.
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.
our Forum to Leave your Comments and Feedback