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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Victor Pacheco’s body was found riddled in bullets at his home on the bluff
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?”
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.
brings you to town?” Devon asked.
he replied and ordered another drink.
got sprung from the pen.”
Bryan nearly choked on
his drink while he laughed.
“Really? What did you do?”
offered a demure grin. “That’s
classified. What kind of business you
chuckled. “No offense but attorney’s
aren’t really my favorite people.”
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
married or something?”
I’m not married. Just keeping a low
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.
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
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.”
I be?” he asked, taking another drink.
unless you’re hiding something too.
Something tells me you’re not the squeaky clean Harvard guy you appear
that get you off?” He grinned again,
growing hard in his pants.
forward, Devon took his hand and placed it
between her legs beneath the table. “Bad
boys in business suits get me off.”
looked around, his skin flushed with excitement. “I killed a man too,” he said.
she was getting somewhere. “Tell me about it.”
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.”
as talking isn’t all we’re going to do,” she said and stood up.
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
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.
tell me about the man you killed,” she said in bated breath.
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.
did you wrong or something?” Devon asked, now
slightly unnerved by the pleasure he seemed to get from telling the story.
knew too much.”
a long story.”
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.”
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
“No one. I was just….”
“Let me see,” Bryan said, towering over
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
what’s going on?” he asked. He assumed
that if it brought the owner outside then it must be major.
jumped off the roof,” she told him with a shake of her head.
my God,” he said and tried to peer through the crowd. “A hotel guest?”
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.”
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.
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.
you okay?” Renee asked him. “Did you
shook his head. She’d texted him only
thirty minutes ago telling him to meet her there. How could she be dead?
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.
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
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.
it’s Miranda. Open up. I know you’re home. The doorman said you haven’t been out since
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.
Vince said you stood him up yesterday for a meeting,” she said again. “Is everything okay?”
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.
sorry, Darling. I had my hands full as
you can see,” Alex said and stood clear of the door.
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?”
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
guess, but who is he?”
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
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.
where did you get the baby?” Miranda asked again.
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.”
face fell as she walked toward her and looked into the infant’s eyes. “She just gave him to you?”
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.”
awful,” Miranda said. “At least she was
unselfish enough to do what’s right for her baby. What did you say his name was?”
call him R.J. After your brother.”
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.”
fine, sweetheart,” Alex maintained.
“Honestly. R.J. is the best thing
for me right now. You’ll see.”
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.
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.
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.
it easy,” she said, reaching for the canteen of water and lifting it to his
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.
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
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?”
hasn’t moved or spoken since yesterday.
I think he’s in shock.”
looked at her and recognized the resignation in her eyes. “We’re not getting out of here, are we?”
didn’t reply because deep inside she didn’t know the answer.
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?”
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.
she asked, trying desperately to hide her panic.
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
eyes shot toward him and her heart stopped momentarily. What was he talking about? “You’re crazy,” she said, twisting away from
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.”
I think you’ve seen too many movies.“
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.”
gasp escaped her throat and she quickly covered her mouth with her hands.
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?”
don’t know!” she insisted. “I met him in
years ago. He works for Kyle Fenwick’s
family. He was helping me with some
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
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.
didn’t mean for any of this to happen,” she said. “It all just spun out of control.”
did? What does this have to do with
Brooke, Stormy, and the others?”
shook her head, refusing to tell him the truth.
Even though if she did, it might save the others.
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.”
looked up at him and realized she had no alternative.
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
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.
see you got the kids to take a nap,” she said, breezing into the room. “How come they never go to sleep for me?”
Leilani said and pointed to the television.
“A woman jumped at Moonshadows.
They’re about to announce who she was.”
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.”
listening to the news report, Miranda began to close her eyes. Something, however, caught her attention and
prompted her eyes to flash open wide.
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….”
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
she went for her phone.
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
the community. After one futile interview
after another, James went back to the jeep and rifled around for a bottle of
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.
what’s up?” he asked. “We’re in the
middle of tracking down a lead. If
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.”
a minute-“ James cut him off. “I saw
those freighters. They’re carrying
sugar’s a decoy,” Brett confirmed.
does it have to do with Brooke and Stormy and the others?”
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
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.”
considered his idea and realized they had no other option. “How did you find this out?”
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?”
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.”
got it,” Brett said and hung up.
what?” Jackie asked. “Those are Merteuil
freighters. They’ll connect me to Bryan and they’ll think I
had something to do with this.”
said you forged a document with Renee’s
signature on it. If anything happens,
she’ll take the fall. Not you.”
are you doing this?”
stood up and walked to the door. “I’m
looking out for my future.”
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
there’s someone inside asking for you,” she said. “She seems upset.”
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
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.”
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.”
Renee frowned, then realized who the woman was. “Oh, Martha. You’re Trudy Silva’s
housekeeper. What can I do for you?”
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.”
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.”
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.”
worry, Martha. I won’t tell her. But do you know who the woman was that came
to the house? Someone from Merteuil?”
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.”
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.
won’t tell Mrs. Silva, will you?” Martha went on.
shook her head. “No, and I want to thank
you for bringing this to me, Martha.”
the woman turned and started through the lobby.
Renee stood behind, perplexed by what the cryptic note could mean.
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.
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.
not now. I’m in a hurry. How did you even find me?”
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
was,” he said, not wanting to get into it.
“I got sidetracked.”
with what? The roof of Moonshadows isn’t
exactly on the way to the airport.”
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.”
the way where?”
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.
hold on,” Brett said, pressing on the pedal and tearing off through the parking
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.
Industries. This is Ira. How may I help you?”
are you, baby girl?” Ira replied, his voice suddenly cranked up a notch.
, 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’?”
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.”
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.”
Renee began tapping the pencil on the desk.
“Can you access Rob Silva’s computer?”
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.”
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.”
jotted the information down on a pad of paper.
“How far back should I look?”
week before he died,” she told him.
it. I’ll fax you whatever I find.”
the best,” Renee said with a smile.
you’d know,” he said, grinning. “Talk to you soon, gorgeous.”
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.
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.
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.
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
did you get this?” Miranda asked from the dock while pushing her hair from her
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
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
“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
“Excuse me?” she
asked, hands on her hips. “What are we
“Them,” he said, pointing
out at sea where two small black freighters were making their way to the
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.
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
“Thanks,” Ira said
and lifted it from his hands. “I gotta
“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.
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.
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?”
“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
“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.”
muchacho,” Eddie said while holding up his hands. “We can’t move these boats until we get this
understand. We have two freighters
waiting to dock here. You can’t be
here. You’re not supposed to be
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.
Eddie continued. "Well, I think we are. So
“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.
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.
said with surprise. “What are you doing
wanted to see how you were doing,” he said, hands in his pockets as he sashayed
inside. “How did your meeting with Vince
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?”
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.
where did this baby come from?”
adopting him,” she said happily and went to join him next to the crib.
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?”
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.”
woman. A young woman who was in and out
of rehab for years. Believe me, he’s
better off with me.”
you can’t just take someone’s baby without some kind of legal contract.”
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
is this woman?” Jordan
asked, looking down into the crib.
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.”
junkies usually don’t go to places like Promises. She’s got to be someone well known.”
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.”
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
he healthy?” Jordan
do you mean?”
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?”
months,” she replied. “He’s fine, Jordan. Of course I’ve had him checked out.”
kind of drugs was she on?”
don’t know. What difference does it
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.”
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
think you should leave,” she told him, flying to the door and pulling it open.
he looked at her with a frown. “Alex, I
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
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.
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.”
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.
have men at the harbor who will kill the people on those yachts.”
please. Tell me what you need me to do.”
the boats so we can dock.”
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
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
“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
“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
“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.”
her head hopelessly, Jackie realized he was right. No one would believe her. “So kill me, go ahead.”
I’m going to fly down to Acapulco
and kill Brooke and your son. Then when
I get back, I’ll deal with 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
crazy,” she said, trembling with fear.
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
then we won’t have anything to bargain with,” Eddie replied. “They release Brooke and we’ll let the ships
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.”
won’t risk it,” Brett assured her.
sound so sure of yourself,” said Miranda.
looked at her with a shrug. “What choice
do I have?”
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.
are you doing here?” Brett demanded and went to the edge of the deck.
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.”
think they’re bluffing,” Brett maintained.
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.”
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.
up, Brett?” James asked. “Did you get
the blockade set up?”
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-“
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.
he asked. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”
is it?” Jackie asked, alarmed.
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.
her go!” Eddie was screaming.
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
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.
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.
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
do you want?” James asked. “Why are you
holding them prisoner? If it's money you want, I'll give it to you.”
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.”
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
okay,” James said and reached for his phone.
“I’ll call.” He dialed Brett’s
number and listened to it ring.
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.
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
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.
is it?” David asked, drawing near after making sure Pacheco and his men were
had raced to Brooke and was holding her tightly
in his arms.
said Pacheco had men in L.A.
waiting for the yachts to move,” he told him.
“Miranda’s with him.”
David asked, panicked. “What the hell is
she doing with them?”
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.
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!”
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
Miranda closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable.
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.
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