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Episode 121

 

Release Date:  August 13, 2010

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Bryan made Jackie believe someone was trying to kill her in order to gain her confidence.  After claiming he was innocent in the Mexico murders, he claimed to have had her sign a document stopping the shipping deal from going through.  In reality, it was a power of attorney giving him access to her money so that when she got David's inheritance after Brooke died, he would be able to get to it.  Alex left rehab and spent time with Jordan, prompting Suzanne to become jealous. Alex cried on Jordan's shoulder when he told her of Stormy's alleged demise.  Miranda visited her mother and they shared a tender moment over the loss of Stormy.  Alex spotted Kelly checking in to the Beverly Hills Hotel with an infant named R.J.  After learning the baby belonged to Stormy, Alex paid Kelly to give him to her.  Devon Graham was released from prison and sought Brett out. When they ran into Jackie with Bryan Carlson, Devon recognized him from prison, then later pieced together his involvement with Victor Pacheco.  Rob Silva wrote a note to Renee warning her of a deal Jackie was working on.  Jackie found the document, but not the note.  

 


  

Episode 121

"Escape" Part 1

 

This is where it ends.  The thought had been running through Brooke Taylor’s mind for the past several days since they’d been locked in the dimly lit bunker somewhere in the jungles of Mexico.   Scraps of food, little water, and the feeling of utter helplessness were all they had to cling to.  Details of why they were there or how much their loved ones back home knew were sketchy.  Had there been a ransom demand? Were they being used as an example?  A few days after they’d arrived in Acapulco a slew of bodies had been displayed up and down the beach, a warning to rival drug cartels, as the authorities had described.  Maybe they were next. 

Beside her on the dirt-packed floor, Stormy was sleeping.  His heat-burned, filthy skin crawling with insects.  A bloody wound on the back of his head from where the men had hit him was now dry and matted.  Dirt beneath his fingernail evidenced his attempts at digging their way out of the bunker.  Their efforts so far had been futile. 

Steven, staring blankly at the wall, was in much the same condition.  He hadn’t spoken in a day. His ribs were bruised from repeated attacks and his fingers bloody and raw from making constant efforts to loosen the stones from the exterior facing wall.

Lying still against the stone wall, Brooke conserved her breath.  With the exhaustive heat and minimal air supply, she tried to remain as still as possible while she waited for help that may never come.

James Blackthorne

After Victor Pacheco’s body was found riddled in bullets at his home on the bluff overlooking Acapulco bay, the Mexican government had placed the house on a permanent watch.  Federal police officers were staked out around the perimeter twenty-four hours a day.  Any car that passed was promptly stopped and questioned about the location of the missing Americans.  James was relieved that at last they were receiving assistance in their search.  Border patrols were stationed around the city.  They also had received word that the new leader of the cartel was Victor Pacheco’s brother, Manuel, an even far more nefarious character than Victor had been. 

With the authorities doing their part, James, David, Kyle and Eddie went about their own search by jeep.  With reliable information on known places the Cartel inhabited, they traveled with determination in hopes that something would clue them in to Brooke’s location.  Caution went by the wayside.  It was too late for caution.  Something had to be done now or they would never see her again. 

Devon Graham

Once a con, always a con.  Devon Graham had said it a hundred times before because she knew it to be true.  When you’d relied on it for your entire life it was difficult to forget.  A new city, the same scheme, and a cool chunk of cash in your pocket weren’t glamorous but it beat waitressing at Sue Casa’s Mexican Restaurant.  That’s why when Rick Shively – or Brett Armstrong as he’d came to be known – asked her to help him with a project, it wasn’t hard for her to slip into her old ways.

He provided her a blond wig and a pair of short shorts.  A low cut blouse and spiked heels completed the disguise.  With her petite figure and perky breasts, it would be hard for any man to refuse her.  He almost gave in and fucked her himself, but for now he had to focus on the matter at hand.  Jackie Blackthorne was up to something and he was positive it wasn’t good.  The day before he’d seen her with Bryan Carlson, the same lawyer who’d sprung Ricardo Pacheco from the state penitentiary, the same thug who’d head up the Pacheco Cartel, the same organization who had kidnapped and murdered several cast and crew members of House of Palms.  Now it was time to find out exactly what they’d done. 

Devon followed him to the La Mirada bar at Moonshadows and watched him from across the room.  It didn’t take long for him to notice her staring at him, coyly chewing the end of her straw while crossing and uncrossing her legs several times.  Before long, he’d joined her at her table in the dark corner. 

“You’re very pretty,” Bryan said with a wink as he rattled the ice around in his empty glass.  “Are you alone?”

Devon nodded and murmured a brief reply with the straw still clamped between her teeth.   “Buy me a drink?”

He waived the waitress over and a minute later she brought two fresh drinks which she placed on the table between them.  He quickly gulped his down while making small talk for a few brief minutes.  

“What brings you to town?” Devon asked.

“Business,” he replied and ordered another drink.  “You?”

“Just got sprung from the pen.”

Bryan nearly choked on his drink while he laughed.  “Really?  What did you do?”

She offered a demure grin.  “That’s classified.  What kind of business you in?”

“I’m an attorney.”

She chuckled.  “No offense but attorney’s aren’t really my favorite people.” 

He reached across the table and brushed his hand against hers.  “I’d like to change your mind about that if I can.  As long as that stays classified too.” 

“You married or something?”

“No, I’m not married.  Just keeping a low profile.”

“So what makes you think you can trust me?” Devon asked, slipping off her shoe and rubbing her foot against the inside of his thigh beneath the table.

With a cocksure grin, he leaned forward and began caressing her leg.  “Because ex-con’s usually have more to hide than they’re letting on.  What did you do?”

As her foot moved up his leg to his dick, she playfully poked the tip of a finger in and out of her lips.  “I killed a man.”  When he didn’t react, she pressed her foot harder against him.  “You don’t seem put off.”

“Should I be?” he asked, taking another drink. 

“Not unless you’re hiding something too.  Something tells me you’re not the squeaky clean Harvard guy you appear to be.” 

“Does that get you off?”  He grinned again, growing hard in his pants.  

Leaning forward, Devon took his hand and placed it between her legs beneath the table.  “Bad boys in business suits get me off.”

He looked around, his skin flushed with excitement.  “I killed a man too,” he said.

Finally she was getting somewhere.   “Tell me about it.” 

Sweat began to form on his brow as he snaked his fingers through the leg of her shorts.  “Why don’t we go up to my room?” he asked her, feeling slightly drunk.  Normally he wouldn’t be as forward and open with a complete stranger, but something about her, combined with the alcohol, freed his inhibitions.  “I can tell you the whole story.” 

“Long as talking isn’t all we’re going to do,” she said and stood up.

Ten minutes later, she was naked on the bed in his room.  Brett probably hadn’t intended her to take things this far.  He sent her there for information.  But the truth was, Bryan Carlson was sexy as hell and she couldn’t help herself.  What was the harm in one quick roll in the hay with him, anyway?  She didn’t have to tell Brett everything that went on. 

She climaxed three times before he did.  After spending four years in prison it was no wonder.  As soon as he collapsed beside her on the bed, she could tell he wanted more.  But first, she had to get more information from him. 

“So tell me about the man you killed,” she said in bated breath. 

Lying on his back, he stared at the ceiling and told her everything.  “I rigged his speedboat so that it would explode on ignition,” he said.

“He did you wrong or something?” Devon asked, now slightly unnerved by the pleasure he seemed to get from telling the story. 

“He knew too much.”

“About what?”

“It’s a long story.” 

Even though she was now feeling especially vulnerable lying naked on the bed, she was determined to get everything out of him.  It was what any good con would do.  “I’ve got time.” 

Rolling over onto his side, his traced a finger down her stomach to her naval.  “It started with this guy I helped get paroled from prison,” he began, and told her an abridged version of his plan. 

When he finished, he got up to go to the bathroom and Devon quickly went for the cell phone Brett had given her.  Hastily, she typed out a text that read:  Big news. Meet in lobby in half an hour. 

Just as she’d sent the text, Bryan emerged from the bathroom.  He looked at the phone in her hand and grabbed his pants from the credenza. 

“Who are you calling?”

“No one.  I was just….”

“Let me see,” Bryan said, towering over her. 

Jackie Lamont

Downtown in her office at Merteuil Industries, Jackie sat behind the desk reading a set of reports that her assistant, Ira had left for her.  Daily productivity reports, profit & loss statements, shipping schedules, and a hundred other items she was only vaguely familiar with.

Something, however, did register as she scanned through the paperwork.  Copies of a shipping manifest for two freighters arriving in Los Angeles that afternoon, each having departed from Acapulco. 

An unsettled feeling set in and she quickly went for her phone.  She dialed Bryan’s cell phone and reviewed the manifests again while she waited for an answer.  He’d told her that he canceled the shipping deal.  She even signed the paperwork to put a stop to it.  So why were there two shipments arriving from Acapulco that same day?  

The phone continued ringing as she stood and began pacing.  What could Bryan be up to?.  And if the paperwork she signed wasn’t to stop the shipping agreement, then what was it?

After several rings, she got his voicemail so she hung up.  Turning to the window, she stared outside and shuddered from a bad feeling that suddenly overcame her. 

Brett Armstrong

With Devon off on her mission to find out what connected Bryan Carlson to Jackie, Brett used his free time to go for a run.  Violet was still with Miranda because something told him he was getting involved in something that could be dangerous, and didn’t want to risk subjecting his daughter to it. 

By the time he had arrived back at his building, he was out of breath and his chest and neck were drenched in sweat.  His cell phone alerted him to a text message which he quickly checked thinking it could be Devon contacting him with information.  As he opened the message, he was happy to see that their sting operation had worked.   Big news. Meet in lobby in half an hour.  He quickly raced to his car while pulling his shirt down over his head. 

He wove through mid-morning traffic, honking the horn repeatedly in hopes that it would clear the congestion that seemed to go on for blocks.  As he neared the entrance to Moonshadows, things got even more harried.  A blockade of police cars were lined up near the high-rise hotel, with other emergency vehicles nearby, dizzying lights flashing in the daylight.  There appeared to have been some kind of accident, but from his vantage point he couldn’t tell what had happened.

After parking as close as he could, he jumped out of his car and jogged up to the hotel.  Hotel guests and employees were gathered on the pavement outside of the service entrance.  As he drew near, he couldn’t help but stop to look and see what had happened.

“Brett!” called a voice through the crowd.  When he glanced around, he saw Renee DeWitt standing in a peach skirt and jacket, teetering dangerously on impossibly high heeled shoes.

“Renee, what’s going on?” he asked.  He assumed that if it brought the owner outside then it must be major.

“Someone jumped off the roof,” she told him with a shake of her head.

“Oh my God,” he said and tried to peer through the crowd.  “A hotel guest?”

“We’re not sure,” she said with a shrug.  “She doesn’t have any I.D. on her and none of the employees recognize her.  They think she might be a prostitute.” 

Just as the crowd parted, he turned and saw the gruesome sight of a young woman laying on the ground, her arms and legs contorted in horrific positions and a trickle of blood seeping onto the concrete beneath her.   Beside her, an investigator was placing a blond wig inside an evidence bag. 

Brett swallowed hard and staggered a step backward.  He quickly realized that the dead woman was Devon, and he had a hard time believing that she’d jumped.  A chilly feleing of deja vu swept over him as he realized Devon died the same way Bailey, their former partner did, when Devon pushed him from a Vegas hotel room window.

“Are you okay?” Renee asked him.  “Did you know her?”

He shook his head.  She’d texted him only thirty minutes ago telling him to meet her there.  How could she be dead?

Glancing around, he looked for any sign of Bryan Carlson.  The more he thought about it, the more obvious it became to him.  Bryan had killed her because she got him to tell him what he and Jackie were up to. 

Slowly, he backed up and said a brief goodbye to Renee.  Then he turned and ran back to his car, jumping in and speeding off back down the road.

Miranda Blackthorne

It had only been a day since her mother had been released from rehab, and Miranda was already growing worried.  While she seemed to be more together than she’d seen her in months, she missed a meeting with her agent which was unlike her.  So after leaving Michael and Violet with Leilani, she drove to her apartment in Beverly Hills and knocked on the door. 

“Mom, it’s Miranda.  Open up.  I know you’re home.  The doorman said you haven’t been out since yesterday.”

She could hear rustling about inside so she pressed her ear against the door and strained to listen.  Again, she knocked, growing more concerned by the second. 

“Mom, Vince said you stood him up yesterday for a meeting,” she said again.  “Is everything okay?”

Her question was finally answered a moment later when the door opened and Alex appeared wearing a silk negligee and holding an infant in her arms.  A welcoming smile told Miranda that she at least wasn’t hurt or back on pills.  She seemed sober enough, anyway. 

“I’m sorry, Darling.  I had my hands full as you can see,” Alex said and stood clear of the door. 

Miranda regarded her with a frown, then proceeded inside as she tried to register what was going on.  “I can see,” she began. “Who is that baby?”

Proudly, Alex turned so that the infant’s face was in clear view.  “This is R.J.,” she said.  “Isn’t he the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen?”

“I guess, but who is he?”

Alex turned her gaze to the sleeping baby, rocking him gently in her arms as she thought of how she would tell her daughter that Stormy had a son and that she was caring for him now that he was gone.  Details of her arrangement with Kelly in her room at the Beverly Hills Hotel played over in her mind…

“This is about what I had in mind,” Kelly said as she counted the cash.   “At least we’re on the same page as far as that goes.” 

Alex was standing across the room picking R.J. up from his blanket on the sofa.  “Did you bring any of his things?”  she asked, staring into the baby’s deep brown eyes.  

“In here,” Kelly said and gestured to a rolling suitcase.  “Clothes, some toys, hospital records.  It should be everything he needs.” 

Alex shot her a penetrating stare.  “What he needs is a mother who loves him unconditionally, not one who’s willing to sell him to the highest bidder just because he doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle.” 

Kelly went to protest but realized it was futile.  “You have no idea what my life is like now,” she said.  “What are you going to do when James finds out he has a grandson that you took for your own without even telling him first?”

“Leave that to me,” she said.  “But you have to promise me that you’ll never breathe a word of this to anyone.  No one can know that you had Stormy’s baby.” 

Kelly shrugged and started for the door.  Before she left, she turned back and looked at the baby.  “I really do love him and want the best for him,” she said.

“You said that about Stormy and then you left him,” Alex said through tightly pursed lips.  “It was only a matter of time before you left your own son too.” 

Quickly, Kelly walked toward her and looked her in the eye.  “I loved Stormy very much,” she admonished, her eyes flaring wildly.  “We would have had a chance if it wasn’t for you.  Just remember that.”

With that, she touched her fingertips to her lips and then pressed them against R.J.’s cheek.  When she left, Alex sighed and gazed down at the baby…

After that, Alex had taken him home to her apartment and arranged for baby furniture and the necessary supplies to be delivered.  She hadn’t thought of what she would tell people when they learned she had a baby.  Would they try to take him from her because she was fresh out of rehab?  Jordan had told her that she wasn’t ready to raise another baby.  What if everyone else thought the same thing?   All she knew was that she refused to risk losing him.  Her son may be gone, but her grandson had been delivered to her like some kind of miracle.  This was her opportunity to make up for everything.  She would raise Stormy’s son the way she should have raised him and Miranda. 

"Mom, where did you get the baby?” Miranda asked again. 

“I’m adopting him,” she began.  “From a woman I met at the treatment center.  She’s going through a terrible time.  Doesn’t know if she’ll be able to stay sober and rather than risk jeopardizing her baby, she asked if I would take him, so I did.” 

Miranda’s face fell as she walked toward her and looked into the infant’s eyes.  “She just gave him to you?”

“Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, Miranda,” Alex said.  “I mean, of course there will be official paperwork to do.  But time was of the essence.  This woman is out of rehab right now but she’s not going to make it.  She’ll be back before you know it.”

“That’s awful,” Miranda said.  “At least she was unselfish enough to do what’s right for her baby.  What did you say his name was?”

“I call him R.J.  After your brother.” 

The gesture brought tears to Miranda’s eyes.   “Really?” she asked, then put her arms around her.  “Oh Mom, that’s wonderful.  Are you sure you’re up for this?  I mean, you just finished treatment.  Maybe it’s too soon.” 

“I’m fine, sweetheart,” Alex maintained.  “Honestly.  R.J. is the best thing for me right now. You’ll see.” 

Stormy Blackthorne

Eyes fluttering open, Stormy awoke on the floor of the cell and for a moment couldn’t remember where he was or what had happened.  The taste of blood in his mouth and the stench of must and dirt clouded his senses and reminded him of the hellish week they’d had to endure. 

His head hurt and he realized he’d been injured from the attack after they made an attempt at escaping.   One of the cartel had slammed the butt of their rifle against his head and he hadn’t been able to fully recover from the shattering blow.  Nausea and dizziness plagued him, on top of the already weak sensation from lack of food and water.   He began to wonder if they would survive much longer. 

After an unsuccessful attempt to sit upright, he collapsed to the floor again.  In a flash, Brooke was at his side assisting him.  She guided him and leaned him against the stone wall of the bunker. 

“Take it easy,” she said, reaching for the canteen of water and lifting it to his lips. 

Coughing uncontrollably as the water trickled down his throat, Stormy turned his head away and groaned miserably.  His eyes went to Steven who sat across the cell staring blankly at the wall. 

“How is your head?” Brooke asked, inspecting the bloody wound where he’d been struck.   She grimaced, taking his shirt rumpled on the floor and soaking it with a small amount of water.  They didn’t have much to spare and there was no telling when the men would return with more.  Their visits had been getting further apart during the last twenty-four hours.  

“I feel like I got hit by a truck,” Stormy replied, grimacing as she dabbed the wound with the shirt.  He motioned to Steven.  “Is he okay?”

“He hasn’t moved or spoken since yesterday.  I think he’s in shock.” 

Stormy looked at her and recognized the resignation in her eyes.  “We’re not getting out of here, are we?”

She didn’t reply because deep inside she didn’t know the answer. 

Brett Armstrong

“You’re hurting me!” Jackie screeched as Brett grabbed her arm and forced her down the hall and into her office at Merteuil Industries.  “What is wrong with you?”

“How do you know Bryan Carlson?” Brett demanded, securing the door behind them and turning to her.  He was still in his workout clothes – too frazzled to think about changing right now.

“Who?” she asked, trying desperately to hide her panic. 

“Bryan Carlson.  He’s a lawyer for Fenwick Industries.  I saw you with him yesterday outside the Yacht Club.  How are you mixed up with him?  Do you have any idea what he’s done?  A woman is dead because of him.”

Jackie’s eyes shot toward him and her heart stopped momentarily.  What was he talking about?  “You’re crazy,” she said, twisting away from him. 

“I know he arranged for Victor Pacheco’s release from prison,” Brett went on.  “The Pacheco Cartel are the people who murdered and kidnapped those people in Acapulco.”

“Brett, I think you’ve seen too many movies.“

"The woman I was with yesterday went to Moonshadows this morning to get information out of him.  I just saw her splattered all over the sidewalk.  Someone pushed her from the roof.”

A gasp escaped her throat and she quickly covered her mouth with her hands. 

“Half an hour before she died, she sent me a text telling me that she’d gotten information.  What did she find out that he was willing to kill to keep secret, Jackie?”

“I don’t know!” she insisted.  “I met him in New York years ago.  He works for Kyle Fenwick’s family.  He was helping me with some Merteuil business.” 

“And?” Brett demanded. 

Jackie closed her eyes tightly.  If Bryan did kill that woman, then he was still lying to her.  All her suspicions were right.  He killed Rob Silva and he made that shipping deal in exchange for the cartel killing Brooke.

Slowly, she lowered herself to the desk.  Exhausted, she placed her head in her hands and tried to figure out how to get out of the mess.  She hadn’t done anything wrong, but something told her Bryan would make it appear that it was all her idea.  She’s the one who wanted Brooke out of the way, after all. 

“I didn’t mean for any of this to happen,” she said.  “It all just spun out of control.” 

“What did?  What does this have to do with Brooke, Stormy, and the others?”

She shook her head, refusing to tell him the truth.  Even though if she did, it might save the others. 

Growing very serious, Brett stood above her with his arms folded.  “Look, tell me and I will help you.  I want the same thing you do, Jackie.  I want to know my place at Sunset Studios will always be there.  Help me do that and I’ll help you with whatever mess you’ve gotten yourself into.” 

She looked up at him and realized she had no alternative. 

Miranda Blackthorne

When Miranda arrived home, she found the house quieter than it had been in days.  There were no children screaming, no loud toys blaring, and no Leilani scurrying about after Michael as he tore through the house like a demon.  After a quick check upstairs in the nursery, she found both children sleeping peacefully.  The sight was a welcome one, as she’d had her fill of children for the day.  On top of her babysitting duties, now her mother was about to become a full-time parent again, and in about seven months she would be delivering a baby of her own.  The ramifications were huge. 

As she went down to the family room, she found Leilani dusting furniture while catching a mid-day news break on the television.   Her eyes were glued to the set and Miranda couldn’t help but question her interest in whatever was going on. 

“I see you got the kids to take a nap,” she said, breezing into the room.  “How come they never go to sleep for me?”

“Shhh,” Leilani said and pointed to the television.  “A woman jumped at Moonshadows.  They’re about to announce who she was.” 

“Well, if I’d come home and had to deal with Violet screaming her head off again, I can tell you who else would take a leap off a tall building,” she said and plopped down on the sofa.  “Me.” 

Half listening to the news report, Miranda began to close her eyes.  Something, however, caught her attention and prompted her eyes to flash open wide.

“We’ve just gotten word that the coroner has officially released the identify of the deceased woman,” said the reporter.  “Devon Graham was reported dead at ten-thirty this morning after rescue personnel arrived on the scene.  Graham, who authorities say was just released from the California State Women’s Prison in San Diego two days ago, apparently jumped from the twenty-third story of the high-rise hotel at this oceanside resort.  The resort’s owner, Renee DeWitt, had this to say when we asked for a statement….”

Leaping forward, Miranda stared at the television and the mug shot of Devon that flashed on the screen over Renee’s voice. Dead?  She just saw her the day before making the usual idle threats that she always had.  Brett was supposed to take her to the airport.  Now she was dead? 

Quickly, she went for her phone.

James Blackthorne

James was standing by the jeep in a small villa on the outskirts of Acapulco while David and Kyle questioned several locals.  They flashed pictures of Brooke and asked if they had seen her.  The response was minimal, and for good reasons as the cartel had much influence over the community.  After one futile interview after another, James went back to the jeep and rifled around for a bottle of water. 

His cell phone alerted him to a call, which he answered immediately.  It was Brett calling, leading him to believe there was a problem at the studio. 

“Brett, what’s up?” he asked.   “We’re in the middle of tracking down a lead.  If there’s-“

“James, just listen to me,” Brett cut him off.  He was in Jackie’s office at Merteuil, perched on the edge of the desk while she looked on with trepidation.  “There are two freighters on their way to L.A.  They’ll be here this afternoon.  They’re carrying drugs.  A lawyer from Fenwick arranged it.”

“Wait a minute-“ James cut him off.  “I saw those freighters.  They’re carrying sugar.” 

The sugar’s a decoy,” Brett confirmed.

“What does it have to do with Brooke and Stormy and the others?”

“I don’t know,” Brett told him.  True to his word, he didn’t betray Jackie’s confidence.  With any luck, he would be revered as a hero for getting to the bottom of the ordeal.  He’d forever be cemented into James’s good graces.  “James, this guy is dangerous.  He’s up to something.  He made a deal with the cartel.  He killed Devon Graham because she found out.”

“Devon Graham?” James lamented.  He hadn’t heard that name in years.  “What the hell does she have to do with anything?”

“Nothing,” Brett said with a shake of his head.  “But listen, if we keep those freighters from docking, maybe we’ll have a bargaining chip to get Brooke back.” 

James considered his idea and realized they had no other option.  “How did you find this out?”

His answer was carefully selected, and one that would surely win his favor.  “James, I promised you I would take care of your studio.  What did you expect me to do?  Sit here typing up call sheets with everything going on down there?”

“You’re a good man, Brett.  Jordan was a fool to let you go.  Listen, I’m sending Eddie back there on the jet right away.  Get to the harbor and he’ll fill you in.  I think I have an idea.” 

“You got it,” Brett said and hung up. 

“Now what?” Jackie asked.  “Those are Merteuil freighters.  They’ll connect me to Bryan and they’ll think I had something to do with this.” 

“You said you forged a document with Renee’s signature on it.  If anything happens, she’ll take the fall.  Not you.” 

“Why are you doing this?”

He stood up and walked to the door.  “I’m looking out for my future.” 

Moonshadows

At Moonshadows, the last of the reporters and spectators had dissipated.  Renee glanced up at the roof of the building, shuddering at the horrific thought of the woman falling to her death.  As she did, her secretary emerged through the crowd. 

“Renee, there’s someone inside asking for you,” she said.  “She seems upset.” 

“Thank you, Marcia,” she replied with a frown and followed her into the lobby of the hotel.  Once they entered, Marcia pointed to a portly grey-haired woman seated nervously on a chair in the lobby.  Renee approached steadfastly.  “Hello.  I’m Renee DeWitt.  Can I help you?”

The woman stood up, clutching a piece of paper tightly in her plump hands.  “I’m sorry to bother you, ma’am.  I know you’re a very busy woman.  But as soon as I found it I wanted to bring it to you.”

“Bring me what?” Renee asked.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”

“Martha.  Martha Wayne.  Mrs. Silva would be furious if she knew I was here.  She said I should never talk to any of her friends, or to any of Mr. Silva’s business associates.” 

Again, Renee frowned, then realized who the woman was. “Oh, Martha.  You’re Trudy Silva’s housekeeper.   What can I do for you?”

“I found this in Mr. Silva’s home office,” the woman replied and produced a folded piece of paper.  “I took a chance that it was you he wrote it to since he used to work for you.” 

Renee took the piece of paper from her and unfolded it.  It appeared to be a note to her scribbled hastily on a piece of paper.  She read it quietly to herself, “Renee, thought you’d be interested in a deal Jackie made for Merteuil.  See the enclosed document.”  She looked at Martha and frowned.  “There’s no document attached.”

“I know.  I think the woman who came to the house a couple of days ago took it when she got the rest of his things.  I guess I overlooked this note until today.  Please don’t tell Mrs. Silva.  She hates it when I forget things.  Please.” 

“Don’t worry, Martha.  I won’t tell her.  But do you know who the woman was that came to the house?  Someone from Merteuil?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  A very pretty lady.  Not that you aren’t pretty too, Mrs. DeWitt.  You’re so classy and glamorous.  But this woman was also very pretty.  Long legs and long reddish brown hair.  Older than you.”  She lowered her voice to a near whisper and added as if someone would overhear her, “although I would guess she’s had a bit of work done, if you know what I mean.”

Renee knew exactly who she meant.  Jackie.  She wondered what kind of deal she’d made that Rob Silva was so concerned about.  And why did Jackie go out of her way to pick his things up from his home office?  It was almost as if she was looking for something.

“You won’t tell Mrs. Silva, will you?” Martha went on.

Renee shook her head.  “No, and I want to thank you for bringing this to me, Martha.” 

Graciously, the woman turned and started through the lobby.  Renee stood behind, perplexed by what the cryptic note could mean. 

Brett Armstrong

Leaving Merteuil Industries, Brett checked his phone and saw that he had two calls from Miranda.  No time to check them as he had to get to San Pedro Harbor.  The flight from Acapulco was only an hour and Eddie would be there soon.  Whatever James had in mind, he hoped it worked. 

As soon as he got to his car, Miranda pulled up in her red Porsche and blocked him into his spot.  Quickly, she jumped out of the car and raced toward him. 

“Miranda, not now.  I’m in a hurry.  How did you even find me?”

“GPS,” she said simply, strands of dark hair flying in the breeze.  “Do you mind telling me what’s going on and why I just saw your dead ex-girlfriend on the news?  What the hell happened?  I thought you were taking her to the airport.”

“I was,” he said, not wanting to get into it.  “I got sidetracked.”

“Sidetracked with what?  The roof of Moonshadows isn’t exactly on the way to the airport.”

“She was helping me with something,” Brett told her.  “She’s….”   Groaning in frustration, he leaned over and pushed the passengers’ side door open.  “Get in.  I’ll explain on the way.”

“On the way where?”

“San Pedro.  Eddie’s meeting me there.”

“Eddie?”  This sent her promptly climbing into the car and strapping on her seatbelt.  “Eddie’s back?”  Her heart raced, wondering why he hadn’t told her he was coming home.  Did that mean that they’d found Brooke?  Hundreds of questions came to her, the biggest being how she would tell Eddie that she was pregnant with a baby that may or may not be his.

“Just hold on,” Brett said, pressing on the pedal and tearing off through the parking lot. 

Renee DeWitt

Renee could always tell when things were about to sway in her favor.  She firmly believed that God didn’t give you more than you could handle, and He had a way of looking out for you when you needed it.  She kept this in mind as she looked at the note Rob Silva had written to her, punching out a phone number with a pencil from her desk at Moonshadows’ administrative offices. 

“Merteuil Industries.  This is Ira.  How may I help you?”

“Ira, it’s Renee.” 

“How are you, baby girl?” Ira replied, his voice suddenly cranked up a notch.

“Fantastic.”

“Of course.   Shoes?”

“Chanel.”

“Blouse?”

“Dior.”

“God , I want to be you!” Ira replied with a sigh as he kicked his legs up on the desk outside of Jackie’s office.  “So what’s cookin’ good lookin’?”

Renee twisted the phone cord around the pencil as she crossed her legs and looked again at the note from Rob.  “I need a favor, and it may necessitate you going behind your new boss’s back.  If you’re not okay with that, I understand.”

“Are you kidding?” Ira said with a chuckle.  “I don’t make a move unless it’s behind Jackie’s back.  I bought a muffin from Starbucks the other day and had to eat it in the employee bathroom because she won’t allow carbs anywhere in the building.”

Smiling, Renee began tapping the pencil on the desk.  “Can you access Rob Silva’s computer?”

“Of course.  It’s down in IT.  I think they’re getting ready to recycle it.  You know the protocol when someone gets fired or quits or….dies.  The truck comes this afternoon.” 

“Ira, don’t let them put that computer on the truck.  I need you to go through Rob’s emails and anything else he may have saved that pertains to a shipping deal in Acapulco.” 

Ira jotted the information down on a pad of paper.  “How far back should I look?”

“The week before he died,” she told him.

“Got it.  I’ll fax you whatever I find.” 

“You’re the best,” Renee said with a smile.

“Like you’d know,” he said, grinning.  “Talk to you soon, gorgeous.” 

Content, Renee hung up the phone.  She stood and walked across the office in deep concentration.  Whatever deal Jackie had made obviously had alarmed Rob enough to tell her about it.  And since Jackie took the time to collect his things from his home office, it was obvious she didn’t want anyone finding out about it. 

Miranda Blackthorne

Standing in the opening of a terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, Miranda paced nervously while waiting for word from Brett.  As soon as they arrived, he got a call – presumably from Eddie – and vanished again.  He still hadn’t revealed what the big emergency was or what it had to do with Devon taking a dive off the hotel at Moonshadows, but she now realized it had something to do with Brooke and everyone who had been killed in Acapulco. 

She bit her nails, a habit she had given up years before, as she glanced between her cell phone and the two empty slips that faced the terminal warehouse.  All around her were forklifts hauling crates to and from various locations around the port.  Ships of various sizes were lined in slips up and down as far as she could see.  Across the way about a half mile were cruise ship ports which she secretly wished she could stow away on and disappear for a while.  Getting away from everything seemed like the perfect solution at the time. 

A few minutes later she heard the roar of an engine.  Two boats were approaching.  She emerged from the terminal and stood near the landing dock as a two yachts at least sixty feet in length slowly maneuvered into the open slips.  Once they’d finished anchoring, Brett emerged from the control room, followed by the driver. 

“Where did you get this?” Miranda asked from the dock while pushing her hair from her face.

“It’s a loaner,” he told her from the deck. 

She turned her attention to the other yacht where Eddie had just appeared on deck.  Overcome with joy over seeing him alive and well, she raced to the ladder that led to the ship’s deck.   “Thank God,” she said when she boarded, promptly throwing her arms around him.   “I’ve been so worried.  Did you find Brooke?  Is Stormy…”

“No we haven’t found them,” Eddie cut her off distantly.  

The news, coupled with Eddie’s harsh tone, sent Miranda retreating away from him.  She looked into his eyes but he wouldn’t even look at her. 

“Eddie…” she began, hoping to reach him.  “I’m sorry.  I never wanted to hurt you.  David was just…”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said.  “Not now.”

“Then when?” she wanted to know.

“I don’t know,” he replied in his characteristically over-exaggerated voice.  “Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, or hey, how about never!”

His chilly response told her he meant business.  Backing up, she glanced over at the other yacht where Brett was standing.  Miserably, she climbed back down the ladder and joined him on the deck.  Eddie needed time.  She realized that after seeing the look in his eyes. 

“What now?” she asked Brett. 

“We wait,” he replied casually, peeling off his shirt and sprawling out on a lounge chair positioned directly at the afternoon sun.  He pulled a baseball hat over his eyes and tucked his hands behind his head.  

“Excuse me?” she asked, hands on her hips.  “What are we waiting for?”

“Them,” he said, pointing out at sea where two small black freighters were making their way to the port. 

Merteuil Industries

As Jackie paced nervously in front of the window of her office at Merteuil Industries, Ira snuck down to the IT room in the basement.  He was relatively unfamiliar with the area, having never ventured below the parking structure on the third floor, but he did know some of the IT guys, like Aaron Kraikenberg whom he’d hung out with at Rage a few times that summer.  So when he arrived on the floor, he sought Aaron out to use as an alibi. 

After ten minutes or so of wandering around aimlessly, he bumped into a stereotypically geeky IT guy named Dwayne who was about fifty pounds overweight, wore an ill-fitting short sleeve dress shirt and a tie that only reached the middle of his chest.  “Can I help you?” Dwayne asked in a booming voice.

“No,” replied Ira and brushed past him with a keen eye on his pocket protector.

“You have to be authorized to be down here.  Why don’t you go back up to your fancy desk in your fancy office and call down if you need something.”

Ira stopped and turned to him.  “Do you know who you’re talking to?  I’m the assistant to the CEO of the company.  I can go anywhere I damn well please.  Where’s Aaron?”

“On the dock,” Dwayne replied and pointed.   “But you deal with me or no one.”

Glaring, Ira moved forward.  “Look, you tubby piece of lard, I don’t need your permission to go anywhere, and I have strict orders to talk to Aaron and no one else.  So unless you want to answer to Jackie Blackthorne, I suggest you back off or you’ll be back working at Circuit City in Riverside and living in your parent’s basement before you can say Bill Gates is my hero.”

With that, he turned and continued on his way.  As he did, Dwayne groaned and murmured under his breath, “smart-mouthed punk.” 

“I heard that!” Ira called as he made his way to the receiving dock where a truck was being loaded with machinery.  When he spotted Aaron checking off items as they were loaded in, he quickly raced toward him.

“Ira, what brings you down to the dredges of the earth?” Aaron asked.

“The dragon lady sent me down to get Rob Silva’s computer,” he said, looking at the inventory list in Aaron’s hand.  

“It’s right there.”  Aaron pointed with his pen to the computer that had just been loaded onto the truck.   He picked it up and checked the back to ensure the numbers matched.  “Yeah, this is it."

“Thanks,” Ira said and lifted it from his hands.  “I gotta go.”

“K.”  He turned and called after him.  “Hey, will I see you out this weekend?”

“If you’re lucky!” Ira called, quickly making his way to the elevator. 

Eddie Distefano

At the Port of Los Angeles, Brett, Eddie and Miranda stood on the deck of the enormous yacht James had arranged to have docked.  A few hundred feet from them were the two Merteuil Industries freighters, stopped in the middle of the harbor while waiting for the go ahead to move ahead.   Shielding her eyes from the sun, Miranda held a pair of binoculars and watched the activity as it transpired.

“There’s a speedboat headed this way,” she observed, then handed the binoculars to Brett.  On the other side of her, Eddie stood silently   He still hadn’t spoken to her, or even looked at her for that matter.  She hoped that when this whole mess was over he’d at least give her a chance to explain. 

“Who are they?” Eddie asked. 

“Part of the cartel, I’m assuming,” Brett replied and handed the binoculars over to him.  He looked at Miranda.  “You might want to get inside.  These guys are probably armed.”

But Miranda refused to hide away like a scared little girl.  Instead, she scurried behind them and looked over Brett’s shoulder, bracing for whatever trouble was headed their way. 

“Yo Amigos!” one of the men in the boat called as they approached and the driver cut the engine.  “These slips are reserved for us.  I think there’s been some kind of mistake.” 

“Damn right there’s been a mistake,” Eddie replied, improvising. He gestured to the other yacht.  “I ordered the seventy-five footer.  What am I supposed to do with this fishing boat?”

“These slips are leased to Merteuil Industries,” said the man in the boat.  They were both Hispanic and spoke in rapid-fire English.  “You gonna have to move these boats, amigo.” 

“Easy there, muchacho,” Eddie said while holding up his hands.  “We can’t move these boats until we get this straightened out.

“You don’t understand.  We have two freighters waiting to dock here.  You can’t be here.  You’re not supposed to be here.” 

Miranda exchanged worried looks with Brett, and then they both turned to Eddie in hopes that he had another plan in mind.  Their tactic didn’t seem to be faring well with the two men in the speedboat. 

“Yeah," Eddie continued.  "Well, I think we are.  So there."  

“Huh?” Brett asked, hoping Eddie knew where he was going with his charade. 

The men in the speedboat grumbled in irritation.  When one of them turned and started to protest, Eddie screamed at the top of his lungs while covering his ears with his hands. 

Alex Reynolds

Alex gently placed R.J. in a crib in the living room of her apartment just as a knock at the door alerted her to another visitor.  Smiling gingerly at the sleeping infant, she floated across the room and pulled the door open with a flourish. 

Jordan,” she said with surprise.  “What are you doing here?”

“Just wanted to see how you were doing,” he said, hands in his pockets as he sashayed inside.  “How did your meeting with Vince go yesterday?”

Distracted, Alex went to pour herself a glass of water.  “I had to reschedule.”

“Oh?  You seemed so excited about it when we spoke.  What happened?”

Standing at the bar sipping from her glass, Alex gazed across the room to the crib and prepared to fill him in on the new addition to her family, but she saw that he’d already noticed.

“Alex, where did this baby come from?”

“I’m adopting him,” she said happily and went to join him next to the crib. 

He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.  “Am I on drugs or did you not have a baby when I left you yesterday?  Did something happen after I left?”

“You could say that,” she replied, gently caressing R.J.’s cheek.  “His mother was someone I met in treatment.  She couldn’t care for him so I agreed to take him.”

“What woman?”

“A woman.  A young woman who was in and out of rehab for years.  Believe me, he’s better off with me.”

“Alex, you can’t just take someone’s baby without some kind of legal contract.”

She looked at him and smiled.  “I realize that, Jordan.  I’m going to have Kenny draw up the papers.  It just all happened so fast that I haven’t had time to call him yet.  I was so excited to get this little guy home that nothing else mattered.” 

“Who is this woman?” Jordan asked, looking down into the crib. 

“Jordan, she’s just a woman from Promises.  Believe me, you don’t know her.  I doubt very much that you associate with drug abusers of her caliber.  She was a street junkie.”

“Street junkies usually don’t go to places like Promises.  She’s got to be someone well known.” 

“She is.  Or was.  She used to be in the business but she got out.  Now would you stop with all the questions?  She doesn’t want to draw attention to the fact that she had to give up her own baby.”   

As she circled the crib, she began to realize the importance of keeping up her story.  It was clear to her that Jordan, and Miranda for that matter, questioned her mindset after her stint in rehab.  When James returned he probably would too, and would insist on taking R.J. from her if he knew who his real parents were.  What they didn’t realize was that she was perfectly fine.  She’d never felt better. 

“Is he healthy?” Jordan asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Alex, you just told me that his mother was a street junkie.  If she was doing drugs while she was pregnant with him, he could have problems you don’t know about.  How old is he?”

“Four months,” she replied.  “He’s fine, Jordan.  Of course I’ve had him checked out.” 

“What kind of drugs was she on?”

“I don’t know.  What difference does it make?”

“I’m calling a pediatrician,” he said and fished his phone from his pocket.  “I’d feel better if I went with you and had him looked at again.”

As he dialed, she raced forward and took the phone from him.  “Why are you doing this?” she demanded.  “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of a baby.  I did raise two of my own, you know.” 

“Yes, but-“

“I think you should leave,” she told him, flying to the door and pulling it open.

Perplexed, he looked at her with a frown.  “Alex, I just-“

“Please go, Jordan.” 

With a sigh, he went to the door, paused before leaving, and then exited the apartment.  After he’d gone, Alex closed the door and went to the crib.  She began to realize that she would have to come up with a better story if she was going to pull this off.  What harm was she doing anyway?  Stormy was gone.  Kelly was an unfit mother.  R.J. had no one else but her.  They belonged together.

Jackie Lamont

When her cell phone rang, Jackie leapt across the desk to answer it, nearly knocking it to the floor in her haste.  A quick recovery landed it in her palm and she answered breathlessly. 

“Hello?”

“Mrs. Blackthorne?”

“Yes.”

“We had an agreement.  Safe passage of our ships to L.A.  If you don’t get those yachts out of the slips so we can dock, more people are going to start dying.”

“Wait a minute,” she said frantically.  “Who is this?”  The question seemed pointless, however, because she recognized the man’s voice as the same one who had called her in the middle of the night when this whole nightmare began.

“I have men at the harbor who will kill the people on those yachts.” 

“No, please.  Tell me what you need me to do.”

“Move the boats so we can dock.”

She realized Brett and James must have orchestrated some kind of standoff at the shipping port to prevent the drugs from reaching their destination.  “Fine, I’ll make it happen.  Just please don’t kill anyone else.”

“You said you wanted Brooke Taylor dead.”

“I didn’t!  Somebody else told you that!  I do not want her dead!”

“If you don’t get those yachts out of there, we will.  You have half an hour.”

A click signaled the end of the call.  Immediately, she headed for the door and flew out of the office just as Ira was returning to his desk. 

“I’m going out.  I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

“Have a great day!” Ira called after her.  

“Not likely,” she snarled, then made her way down to the parking garage.  When she got in, she started the engine and adjusted the rear view mirror.  A scream tore lose from her throat when she saw the reflection of someone rise out of the back seat. 

“Be quiet,” Bryan Carlson said, holding a hand over her mouth.  In his other hand he held a gun.  “If you scream again I’ll kill you.”

Eyes wide and body trembling, Jackie nodded her head.  She could immediately tell that he was a loose cannon.  Whatever had transpired over the past few hours had obviously sent him over the edge. 

“Bryan, please,” she began, terrified out of her mind by the close proximity of the gun to her head.  “You don’t have to do this.”

“I don’t have much of a choice,” he said.  “Your partners are messing everything up.  I suppose it was your idea to keep the freighters from docking.” 

She shook her head frantically.  “No, no, I had no idea what they were planning.  I was just on my way to get them to move them.  I promise.”

“You better,” he said.  “I’ve been too careful to let things blow up now.” 

“Why are you doing this?  All I said was that I wanted Brooke to stay away.  I never wanted people dead.” 

“You don’t get it, do you?” Bryan asked, tightening his grip around her neck.  “When David Jennings dies Brooke Taylor is going to become one of the wealthiest women in the world.  If she dies before he does, the money goes to you.  And if you die…”

“You won’t see a cent of it.” 

“Oh but you signed the power of attorney,” he said. 

Closing her eyes with resignation, Jackie realized that must have been the document he had her sign when he said he was canceling the shipping agreement.  “You’re sick.  I’ll go to the police.  I’ll tell them everything.”

“You won’t.  Your hands are all over this thing.  No one will believe that you didn’t want Brooke Taylor dead.  She’s the reason your marriage ended.  She’s the reason you aren’t in control of your father’s studio.  She’s taken everything from you.” 

Shaking her head hopelessly, Jackie realized he was right.  No one would believe her.   “So kill me, go ahead.” 

“First I’m going to fly down to Acapulco and kill Brooke and your son.  Then when I get back, I’ll deal with you.” 

“No, please…”

“You don’t have to die, Jackie,” he said, his lips close to her face as he leaned in from the back seat.  “We’re good together.  In the boardroom and the bedroom.  Think of what we can do with all that money.  Hundreds of billions of dollars all for us.  You can take your father’s studio back.  You can kick Blackthorne out of his house – the house you grew up in.  It’s all yours for the taking.  And me, I get to finally come out of the shadow of Kyle and his blood sucking family.”

“You’re crazy,” she said, trembling with fear.

Headlights blinded her through the rearview mirror as a car approached from the back and pulled into the stall next to her.  She began to scream in hopes that whoever it was would save her from the madman. 

The door of the car opened and Kenny emerged, peering curiously through her tinted windows.  Her hands went to the controls and lowered the window.

“Jackie?  What’s going on?” Kenny asked.

She turned to the back seat and saw that it was empty, the back door open and Bryan nowhere to be seen.  In the distance, she heard footsteps disappearing through the parking garage.   With a sigh of relief, she found herself safe for the time being.  But she had to get to the harbor and stop whatever plan James had put into motion. 

Brooke Taylor

Brooke rose to her feet when she heard the sound of the cell door being opened.  The men were returning.  Something inside told her they were there for a very specific reason.  Looks of determination on their faces alarmed her as they grabbed her and pulled her to the door.  The others took Stormy and Steven, forcing them at gunpoint out of the cell and through the dark corridor.   Terror rose up in her throat.  Where were they taking them?  She had a sinking feeling they were going to die. 

Miranda Blackthorne

“Why can’t we just call the police?” Miranda asked from the deck of the yacht.  “If those ships have drugs on them then let them take control of the situation.  These guys are dangerous.”

“Because then we won’t have anything to bargain with,” Eddie replied.  “They release Brooke and we’ll let the ships dock.”

“What if they kill her?” Miranda exclaimed, gazing out at the men in the speedboat.  “All they have to do is make one phone call and she could be dead.”

“They won’t risk it,” Brett assured her.

“You sound so sure of yourself,” said Miranda.

He looked at her with a shrug.  “What choice do I have?”

Their worries were compounded when the sound of a car screeching to a halt near the terminal caught their attention.  Craning their necks, they saw Jackie racing toward them. 

“What are you doing here?” Brett demanded and went to the edge of the deck. 

“You have to move these boats,” she said in a panic.  Her eyes darted to the men in the speedboat nearby.  “If you don’t, they’ll kill Brooke and they’ll kill all of us.”

“I think they’re bluffing,” Brett maintained. 

“One of them called me,” Jackie exclaimed.  “If they don’t get those freighters docked immediately this whole thing is going to end very badly.  Trust me, Brett.  Just do it.” 

The panic in her voice sent alarm bells going off inside Brett’s mind.  He fished his cell phone from the pocket of his shorts and speed dialed James.  When he picked up a moment later, he filled him in on the latest.

“What’s up, Brett?” James asked.  “Did you get the blockade set up?”

“Yes, but they’re not budging,” he told him.  “They’re threatening to kill us, and Brooke if we don’t move.  Miranda and Eddie are here and-“

Silence followed on the other end of the phone.  Sudden loud, piercing sounds over the connection startled him and he quickly took the phone away from his ear.  Frowning, he held it tentatively back to his face.

“James?” he asked.  “What’s going on?  Are you okay?”

“What is it?” Jackie asked, alarmed.

Brett shook his head when the connection dropped.  Behind them at the back of the yacht, commotion had erupted.  The unmistakable sound of gunshots echoed through the harbor, prompting Brett to leap against the cabin wall and quickly move along the length of the boat.  What he saw sent him racing over to get Miranda to safety. 

“Let her go!” Eddie was screaming. 

The men in the speedboat had boarded the yacht and were toting machine guns, one held directly at Miranda’s head and the other aimed threateningly at Eddie. 

Stormy Blackthorne

James, David and Kyle stood alongside their jeep in the thick jungles in the outskirts of Acapulco.  They raised their hands in surrender as a van inched toward them, machine guns pointed out of the windows.  When it came to a stop, Manuel and another man jumped out and approached them.  The third man went to the back of the van and opened the door.  Moments later, he appeared with Brooke, Stormy and Steven.

“Stormy?” James gasped, rushing toward him.   He couldn’t believe his eyes.  His son was standing there alive and well.  After days of believing him to be dead, he had never been so relieved in his life, no matter what the circumstances.

Manuel stepped between them and pointed the rifle directly at James, gesturing for him to back up away from the others.   Obliging, James put his hands in the air and returned to David and Kyle’s side. 

“What do you want?” James asked.  “Why are you holding them prisoner?  If it's money you want, I'll give it to you.”

“There’s some freighters that arrived in Los Angeles today,” Manuel said.  “We need them to dock immediately before the coast guard gets suspicious.  Move them and your people go free.  But if those ships aren’t docked in five minutes, they all die.” 

James exchanged glances with David, who shook his head knowingly.  He knew they would kill them anyway, but he had to at least try to save them.  How was he to know the cartel would turn his ultimatum around on him?  All he’d succeeded in doing was making things worse.

“Okay, okay,” James said and reached for his phone.  “I’ll call.”  He dialed Brett’s number and listened to it ring. 

As they waited, Steven began to break free from his perpetual daze.  Staring at the men who’d held them captive for weeks, he flew into action.  In a flash of movement, he grabbed one of the men from behind and secured the rifle from him.  Before he could react, Steven turned the rifle on him and fired a round into his chest.  During the commotion, Kyle went for the other man and sent a shattering blow in his face with a closed fist.  He dropped to the ground and David acted by snatching his rifle from him. 

Manuel squeezed the trigger on his gun and began firing, several bullets hitting the van and sending explosions bursting into the air.  Brooke ducked and led Stormy away from the spray of debris.  James removed his pistol from the back of his pants and fired two shots at Manuel, stopping him cold. 

As Manuel bled to death on the dirt-packed ground, James immeidatley called Brett’s phone again with the knowledge that they were out of time.   “Damnit,” he whispered as the phone rang over and over. 

“What is it?” David asked, drawing near after making sure Pacheco and his men were dead. Kyle had raced to Brooke and was holding her tightly in his arms.

“Brett said Pacheco had men in L.A. waiting for the yachts to move,” he told him.  “Miranda’s with him.” 

“Miranda?” David asked, panicked.  “What the hell is she doing with them?”

“I don’t know,” James aid, impatiently waiting for Brett to pick up.  With Manuel dead, there was no one to call his men off, which meant Miranda, Brett and Eddie could soon be dead.  

Miranda Blackthorne

“Back off!” the first man yelled as Brett approached on the yacht.   “Start this boat and get it out of here or I blow a hole in her head!”

“Take it easy,” Brett said, hands in the air.  His phone was ringing in his pocket again – presumably James calling.  He saw the terrified look in Miranda’s eyes.  Beside her, Eddie was waiting for a chance to act.

The man looked at his watch.  Manuel had told them five minutes, which was long overdue.  

“What do we do?” asked the man.

“Kill them,” he ordered.

Terrified, Miranda closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable. 

To Be Continued....


Next time....

In the conclusion, Bryan arrives in Acapulco with malice on his mind.  Brooke and Kyle are reunited, but their joy is short-lived.  Kyle and Bryan face off over their past.  Alex must answer for R.J.  

 

 

Read Episode 122

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