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Episode 122

 

Release Date:  September 10, 2010

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Miranda and Jordan expressed concern over Alex's plans to adopt a baby.  Believing they wouldn't let her keep R.J. if they knew he was Stormy's son, she told them the mother was a drug addict she met in rehab.  Back from prison, Devon helped Brett out by picking Bryan Carlson up in a bar, then seducing him for information. After he spilled his plans, she sent Brett a cryptic text.  But when he arrived at Moonshadows, Devon had been thrown from a hotel room window.  After Jackie told him everything, Brett promised to cover for her in hopes that by saving the day he would prove indispensible to James.  When Brett told James about the freighters hauling drugs to San Pedro, James sent Eddie back to L.A. to help Brett set up a blockade to prevent them from docking in hopes that they could use it as a bargaining tool to free Brooke and the others.  Miranda was overjoyed to see Eddie and they shared a kiss.  Renee received the note Rob Silva had written to her and asked Ira to search Rob's computer for clues to its meaning.  Eddie, Miranda and Brett were held at gunpoint by two members of the cartel who demanded they move the yachts so the freighters could park.  Meanwhile, Manuel and his men were killed by James, who was relieved to find Brooke and Stormy alive.   He panicked, however, when he learned Miranda was in danger back home.

 


  

Episode 122

"Escape" Part 2

 

Bryan Carlson grew up in an affluent suburb in upstate New York.  His family had benefitted financially from the death of his grandfather, but money didn’t become an issue for him until he met Kyle Fenwick.  Kyle had everything.  He’d been adopted by the Fenwick’s, an impossibly wealthy family, as an infant and given every benefit in the world.  Bryan, on the other hand, wasn’t as well off because his family squandered away the money they had.  

Since they met on the playground at the age of five, they competed on every level imaginable. Bryan became like another son to Don and Helen Fenwick, and soon they saw the promise in him that they didn’t with Kyle.  After graduating from Yale law school, he took a job with Fenwick Industries while Kyle meandered aimlessly from job to job.  He did everything from selling boating equipment to managing hotels owned by Royce Jennings.  While he did, Bryan worked his fingers to the bone for the Fenwick’s family business.

Ten years of being Don Fenwick’s yes man turned Bryan into an embittered soul.  Despite the dedication he’d shown, he still wouldn’t be entrusted with more than any ordinary employee.  He knew the company inside out and was still overlooked as successor to Don Fenwick upon his alleged passing several months earlier.  Only when Kyle turned down the offer to succeed his father was Bryan appointed temporary head of the company.  Temporary being the operative word.  He deserved more.  He wanted more. 

So when he learned that his old friend Jackie Lamont’s son David Jennings was about to succumb to inoperable brain cancer, the wheels stated turning.  Eliminate David’s next of kin, then eliminate Jackie.  He’d be a billionaire in a matter of months. 

That hope was all he had to cling to as he made his way to Acapulco in record time on the Fenwick private jet.  After renting a car, he secured his hand gun in his attaché case and set off for the Pachecho house.  As he drew near, the found the entire estate circled on all sides by federal police officers.  Things had gotten out of hand, he realized, turning and veering off in the opposite direction while hoping he hadn’t attracted attention to himself. 

His mission was simple.  Find David Jennings and Brooke Taylor and kill them. 

James Blackthorne

In the clearing in the jungles of Acapulco, small fires and billowing smoke shot up from the van that had been destroyed by gunfire.  On the ground, three members of the cartel laid dead – Manuel Pacheco included.  Brooke, Stormy, Kyle, Steven and David looked on eagerly as James tried to contact the marina back in L.A. 

He listened to the phone ring over and over.  Brett still hadn’t answered which could only mean he, Eddie and Miranda were in trouble.  The standoff at the marina had backfired and now his daughter would pay the price.  

David stood beside him, praying that someone would answer and tell them that Miranda was safe.  But when James slowly shook his head and clicked off the phone, he was overcome with a sense of hopelessness. 

“Answer, damnit,” James said and tried Brett’s phone again. 

Brett Armstrong

“Back off!” the young Hispanic 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.

From the back of the boat, Jackie had boarded and picked up an oar from the lifeboat.  She crept along the starboard side of the yacht, careful to keep her heels from sinking between the wooden planks.  Quietly, she approached the man with the gun pointed at Miranda.  Raising the oar in the air, she brought it down and slammed it against the back of his head.  Like a wet sponge, he dropped to the deck and his fingers released their grip on the gun.

The second man went on the attack, aiming the gun at Jackie and preparing to fire.  Brett and Eddie wasted no time in rushing forward and grabbing him from behind.  In one quick movement, Brett managed to secure the rifle from him.  He lifted the weapon and slammed the butt against the man’s head, knocking him unconscious. 

“Someone call the coast guard,” he ordered, falling in line beside Eddie as they both held the men at gunpoint. While Jackie ran to make the call, he fished his phone from his pocket and tossed it at Miranda.  “Call your father and tell him we’re okay.” 

Adrenaline pumping through her veins, she quickly called James’s phone and paced while waiting for him to answer.  He did so after only one ring.

“Brett?” he answered.  “What’s going on?  Are you guys okay?”

“Daddy, we’re fine,” Miranda cried into the receiver.  “Are you all right?’

“Yes, we’re fine,” he told her.  “Everyone.  Brooke, Stormy, David.”

“Stormy?” Miranda asked.  “You mean-“

“He’s alive,” James told her happily.  “Listen, we’re going to head back to the hotel and get some things in order.  Hopefully we’ll be home soon.”

“Hurry back, Daddy.  I love you.” 

She clicked off the phone and looked at Eddie.  Tears in her eyes, she cupped her hands over her mouth. 

“What is it?” Eddie asked, concerned over her reaction. “Are they okay?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  Stormy’s alive.” 

“What?”

“He’s alive!” she squealed, running toward him and throwing her arms around his torso. 

Relieved, Eddie kissed her repeatedly on the lips.  “Thank God,” he said, hands alongside her face as he looked into her eyes.   Meanwhile, he’d let the rifle wander from its intended target, prompting Brett to cast him a wary look.

“Eddie, can you focus please?” he said.

“Oh, right,” he said, turning away from Miranda and aiming the rifle back at the young Hispanic man who was beginning to awaken from his unconscious state.

James Blackthorne

“They’re okay,” James said happily when he clicked off his phone and turned to the others.

Cries of relief erupted, followed by warm embraces.  Kyle kissed Brooke and held her tightly while James pulled Stormy into his arms and patted him firmly on the back. 

“Come on, let’s get to the hotel,” David suggested and started to the jeep.  “We need to talk to the American Embassy and then get the hell out of this place.” 

On the way to the jeep, Brooke stopped and pulled James toward her.  “Thank you for everything,” she said.  “I should have known you’d find us and save the day.  It seems to be a thing between us.” 

He grinned and placed a hand gently alongside her face.  “You’ve got a son waiting for you at home.  Ethan’s son.  I would have searched forever for you.” 

Pulling him toward her, they hugged for a long time until David gestured toward the jeep. After they broke from the embrace, Brooke smiled and allowed him to hoist her into the back seat.  Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and took solace in the fact that she’d be home soon with her son. 

She sat beside Stormy on the way back, her fingers knotted through his as they wordlessly reflected on the bond they’d shared since the nightmare began. 

Miranda Blackthorne

When Alex answered the door she was surprised to find Miranda standing in the hall, an elated expression on her face. 

“Darling, what a surprise,” she said and gestured for her to enter.  “I was just about to put R.J. down for a nap.  I’ll put on some coffee and we can talk.”

“I can’t stay,” Miranda said, wringing her hands together with excitement.

Alex was already rushing toward the kitchen, her nightgown billowing behind her.  “Are you sure?  It’ll just take a few minutes.” 

“Mom,” Miranda called after her.  “Stormy’s alive.” 

The news stopped her in her tracks.  Pivoting around to face her, her expression turned stark and her face white as a sheet.  Words escaped her for several moments, and then she raced toward her.

“Are you sure?” she asked.  “How do you know?”

“Daddy called from Mexico.  He’s alive.  They’re coming home soon.” 

Elated, Alex pulled her into an embrace.  “I can’t believe it!” she exclaimed.  “He’s alive?”

Nodding, Miranda smiled happily at her mother.  “I wanted to come tell you right away,” she said, backing toward the door.  “I’ll call you as soon as I hear anything else.” 

“Please do,” Alex said happily.  “Thank you for telling me, sweetheart.” 

“Bye,” Miranda said and ducked back out into the hallway. 

After she’d gone, Alex clasped her hands together and pondered the exciting news.  She’d now have the opportunity to make good on her promise to make up for the way she tried to run her son’s life when Kelly was in the picture.  Her meddling had nearly cost her her relationship with him.  Before he left for Mexico it seemed they were on the track to making amends and she fully intended to see it through now that she’d been giving a second chance.

The soft cooing from R.J.’s crib suddenly caught her attention and she floated across the room to tend to him.  Lifting the infant into her arms, she was suddenly faced with the flip side of Miranda’s news.  Stormy was R.J.’s father, which meant he would be able to care for him upon his return.   Her dreams of being a mother again were suddenly crushed.   Once Miranda and Jordan learned that she’d lied about where he came from, she’d be faced with even more scrutiny.  Her family would turn their backs on her again and she’d be the same lonely woman she was before she went to rehab.   The thought was chilling and depressing to think about. 

Looking into the infant’s eyes, she grew heartbroken at the thought of giving him up.  After the disappointment that went along with the botched adoption of the baby from Malawi, she’d pinned so many hopes on this baby.  He was the thing that would help her grow strong again. 

Quickly, she began organizing the facts in her mind.  No one but Kelly knew that R.J. was Stormy’s son, and she’d paid her off handsomely to disappear and never breathe a word of the baby’s existence.  Stormy was alive and had his whole future to look forward to.  He’d want to move past the mistakes he made with Kelly.  Having a baby to remind him of that was the last thing he needed.

Maybe there was a way to keep him after all. 

The rescue of the Americans in Acapulco was suddenly the day’s biggest media frenzy.  It took practically no time for the press to get wind of the story, and even less time for them to make their way to the Las Brisas Hotel.  A circus of Mexican law enforcement officials and representatives from the American Embassy flooded the driveway in front of the cliff-side hotel. 

Inside the lobby, Stormy, Brooke and Steven gave detailed accounts of their kidnapping and were questioned for over an hour about every detail of their time in captivity.  When he noticed Stormy shifting uncomfortably and wincing from the pain in his head, James quickly went to put a stop to the questions. 

“Look, you’ve got all the information you need,” he said to one Mexican official.  “I’d like to get my family back home now.”

“There’s still the question of the freighters hired by Merteuil Industries and the situation in San Pedro,” said one United States official.  “If there’s a link between that and the kidnappings, we’ll need to investigate.”

“Fine, then investigate your heart out,” James said crossly.  “But do it from L.A.  I’d like to get my son and my ex-wife checked out by our doctor.” 

“We have doctors here who can check them out,” said one man from the Mexican authorities.

“No thank you,” James snapped.  “You know, you’re all awfully interested in my family’s well being now that they’re safe.  Where the hell were any of you when I tried asking for help?”

Silence filled the room for several moments until the officials began to dissipate.  Before they left, one American official stopped and offered James a firm pat on the shoulder.  

“We’re sorry for your family’s troubles,” he said.  “We’ll be in touch.” 

When they were gone, Brooke stood up and stretched her sore muscles.  “I’d like to go upstairs and shower before we go,” she said.  “Do we have time?”

James nodded.  “We’ll plan on leaving for the plane in an hour.  Everyone meet down here and we’ll ride to the airport together.”

Kyle placed a hand on Brooke’s arm and whispered silently to her.  “Do you want me to go with you?” he asked tenderly. 

She answered with a smile.  “I’d like to be alone for a few minutes if that’s okay,” she said.  “I’ll be down in a little while.”

“Okay,” he said, kissing her on the cheek and squeezing her hand. 

Brooke disappeared into the crowd of onlookers with Stormy and Steven while David, Kyle and James remained. 

“What was all that about the Merteuil freighters?” Kyle asked. 

Sighing, James dug his hands into his pockets.  “I don’t know. They were transporting drugs.  Jackie said she didn’t know anything about it so it must have been a deal Renee made when she was still in charge.  She probably had no idea what she was getting into.”

“So what do Stormy and Brooke have to do with it?” David asked.  “I have a hard time believing it was just a coincidence that they were kidnapped and used as leverage to get the freighters docked in L.A.  Something isn’t adding up.” 

“And we’ll get to the bottom of it as soon as we get back,” James maintained.  “If someone was responsible for those people getting murdered and for Brooke and Stormy being kidnapped, they’re going to answer to me.” 

Brooke Taylor

Upstairs, Brooke closed her hotel room door and locked it.  She reached into the shower and turned on the water before slowing undressing.  She wanted nothing more than to sit under the hot spray of water and let the past week drain off of her body.  Then returning home and holding her son in her arms was the only thing that mattered to her.  But something told her she wouldn’t be able to forget about the horrific things she’d seen and endured since their arrival in Acapulco. 

A sound in the bedroom caught her attention and she frowned, slipping her shirt back over her head.  Kyle was persistent, to say the least.  She knew he was only being protective, but she really did want to have a few minutes alone to decompress.  There would be plenty of time for reconnecting when they got home.

“Hello?” she called, peering out into the bedroom.   “Kyle?”

A slight breeze blew in from the balcony.  Quickly, she started walking to the doors to close them.  As she did, she was grabbed from behind by someone who wrapped their hand over her mouth and placed a gun into the side of her head.

“Don’t make a sound,” Bryan Carlson said, teeth gnashed while restraining her.

Eyes wide, Brooke stood terrified. 

Jackie Lamont

At San Pedro Harbor, a fleet of coast guard and LAPD patrol boats circled the freighters that were anchored in the middle of the bay.  On shore, Brett, Miranda, Eddie and Jackie were questioned by the authorities as the two members of the cartel were hauled away in handcuffs. 

“I don’t know,” Jackie was saying, flustered.  “I only bought the company a few months ago.  I barely know where to get the coffee let alone know where every single shipping deal was made.”

“Mrs. Blackthorne, your company was just caught transporting millions of dollars in cocaine into the United States,” said the detective.  “I’m afraid I didn’t know doesn’t excuse anything.” 

“Mrs. Blackthorne already told you she’s unaware of the daily operations of Merteuil Industries,” Brett said, acting in good faith by keeping his promise to Jackie.  In exchange for her telling him everything, he agreed to cover for her.  Now he was a hero for saving everyone’s lives and would surely be kept on at Sunset Studios.  He’d need the stability in order to fight for his daughter at the custody hearing in a couple of days.  “I suggest you talk to the former owner, Renee DeWitt.  I’m sure the shipping contracts are all in her name.” 

“We’ll find out soon enough,” said the detective.  “Every file in the Merteuil Industries office building is being locked down until this matter is resolved.  Your company is the property of the United States Government until further notice.  I suggest you start notifying your employees.”

Bryan Carlson

In Acapulco, Brooke struggled in Bryan’s grasp.  She whimpered silently, cringing with every move he made for fear that he would pull the trigger and put a bullet hole in her head.  

“I’m going to let you go, but if you scream you’ll be dead before anyone can hear you.  Understood?”

She nodded, gasping for breath when he released his hand from her mouth.  Quickly, she twisted away from him and turned to get a look at her captor.  It took a few moments but when she finally recognized him, alarm bells suddenly went off in her head.

“You’re that guy from the airport,” she said, suddenly remembering that they’d run into him on the way to Acapulco.  “Kyle’s friend from New York.”

“Nice to see you again,” he said with a smarmy grin.  “Sorry that it had to be under these circumstances.”

“What are you doing here?’ she asked in confusion.  “Does Kyle know that you’re here?”

“I doubt it,” Bryan replied.  “But then again Kyle’s always been a little too self serving to care about anybody else, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Look, everyone’s downstairs waiting for me.”  She had no idea what he wanted or why he was there threatening her with a gun, but she had a feeling it had nothing to do with Kyle. 

“I know.  That’s what I’m counting on.” 

“What do you mean?”

He pointed to the phone on the nightstand.  “I want you to call your brother and get him up here.”

“David?  Why?”

“Don’t ask questions,” Bryan spat angrily.  “Just do it.  I don’t care what you tell him as long as you don’t let on that anything’s wrong.  Just get him up here.” 

“What do you want with David?” Brooke asked, more confused than ever.

“Don’t act like you don’t know,” he said with a scoff.  “Little miss department store makeup girl from Phoenix is about to become a very wealthy woman all because your slut of a mother couldn’t keep it out of Royce Jennings’s pants.  You came from nothing and you ended up with everything.  A share in Sunset Studios, Moonshadows, and now every single hotel in Jennings’s portfolio.”

“What?” Brooke asked. 

“I knew bitches like you in college.  You were given everything while guys like me had to work their tail off for an ungrateful man like Don Fenwick.” 

“I’ve earned everything I have,” she maintained.  “David hasn’t given me anything.”

“Not yet,” Bryan replied.  “But when he dies you’ll get it all.” 

“How do you know that?” Brooke asked.

“I know, that’s all you’ve got to know.  But I can’t wait for that to happen.  Cancer is an ugly disease but a year is a long time from now.” 

“Cancer?”

“You really didn’t know?” Bryan asked with a grin.  “Your half-brother is terminal.  The doctors give him less than year to live.”

The news hit her like a truck.  Swallowing hard, she felt her eyes stinging with tears.  “He never told me,” she whispered under her breath.

“And as his father’s only other child, you get everything when he dies.  We’re talking billions of dollars.” 

Brooke couldn’t believe what he was telling her.  A complete stranger to her was acting like her life wasn’t hers.  He knew more about her life than she did.  But slowly she began to realize what his plans were. 

“You set this up, didn’t you?” she asked, alarmed.  “The cartel, the kidnapping, everything.” 

“It should have gone a lot smoother,” he told her.  “But because that bitch Cassidy Solomon had to switch rooms that night, everything got messed up.  It should have been you they found in the trunk of that car.    All of this could have been a lot simpler if she’d stayed in her own room.” 

“You’re insane,” she whispered, terrified by the lengths that the man had gone to to kill her.

Removing the safety from the gun, Bryan pointed it directly at her head.  “Enough talk.  Now call David Jennings so I can kill the both of you and get my money.” 

Knowing better than to argue with a gun, she slowly turned and went to the phone on the bedside table.  As she did, she saw him turn to the bathroom where steam was seeping out from the running shower.  She took the opportunity to act.  With one swift movement, she pulled the bedside lamp from the table and swung it at him.  In the confusion, she bolted for the door.  Her hand outstretched, she attempted to pull it open but he caught up with her and pulled her back.  Screams tore loose from her throat as he threw her onto the bed and punched her in the face with a closed fist. 

“Try that again and I’ll not only kill you and David, but your father, your brother and anyone else who gets in my way,” he said, handing the phone to her.  “Now call him and get him up here.” 

Recoiling from the powerful blow, Brooke sat up on the bed and grudgingly dialed David’s cell.  When he picked up she stared at the gun pointed at her and sorrowfully did as Bryan asked. 

“David, can you come to my room?” she asked.  “I need to talk to you about something.”

Alex Reynolds

Alex had spent the day poring over casting calls in the trade papers.  Variety listed several auditions that caught her attention, so she arranged for Veronique to sit with R.J. while she drove to the studio.   Upon entering a room full of women waiting for their auditions, she quietly took a seat and tried to appear inconspicuous as she looked around.  Inconspicuous proved impossible in a room full of twenty-something year old girls, each one blonder and more tanned than the next.  This was proven when the girl beside her leaned in and whispered in her ear.

“Honey, are you sure you’re in the right place?” she asked.  “This is a call for a twenty-something year old drug addicted prostitute.  Oh wait, are you here for the part of the grandmother?  I think that’s tomorrow.”

“I’m waiting for someone,” Alex said, trying not to take too much offense to the shattering blow to her ego.

“Okay, cool,” said the girl.  “Cuz I didn’t want you to like waste your time or anything.  I’ve got this one in the bag.  My agent said so.” 

“Who’s your agent?” Alex asked, looking her up and down and finding her revealing outfit, bleached hair and fake boobs to be way too obvious.  Gemma Sanders?”  

“Gemma Sanders, the Hollywood madam?  No.  Why?  Do I look like a hooker?”

“Frankly, yes.” 

“Awesome.  I’m sure to get the part then.”

Sighing, Alex turned away from her.  She glanced at the door, hoping that the woman she was searching for would walk out any minute and all her problems would be over.

The first girl who came out was too put together.  Not a convincing match for her needs.  The second was the daughter of a producer she slept with when she first came to town.  Too risky to consider without being caught in her lie. 

Luck came minutes later when a woman not unlike all the others raced from the director’s office with tears in her eyes and a sweater slung over her shoulder.  Everyone turned and watched as she dropped her purse and the contents spilled out onto the floor.   Crying, she bent down to gather her things.  Alex took the opportunity to help her.

“Thanks,” the woman sobbed when Alex handed her a brush and tube of jammy red lipstick.  “Thanks a lot.” 

After she’d shoved everything back into her Gucci knockoff, she raced outside to the parking lot and headed for a beat up old Volkswagen Jetta.  Alex walked quickly after her, hoping she didn’t seem to pushy but realizing she didn’t have time for beating around the bush. 

“Are you okay?” she called after her.

The girl turned and ran her fingers through her strands of dirty blond hair that fell straight down to the middle of her back.  She threw her hands in the air and dropped them to her sides in frustration.

“Am I okay?” she asked.  “Let’s see.  That was the fifteenth audition I’ve been on this month and the fifteenth audition where the director told me I was too old for the part.  Is that all anybody here cares about?  Are you dried up in this town after you turn twenty-one?”

“How old are you?” Alex asked. 

“Twenty-four,” she told her.  “Jesus, it’s not like I’m ancient or forty or something.” 

“Forty is ancient?” Alex asked.  “Wow, what does that make me then?”

“I’m sorry,” the girl said, leaning against the car.  “I’m just so frustrated.  I’m about ready to pack up and go back home.”

“Where are you from?”

“Illinois,” she replied.  “Peoria.  I moved out here a few months ago but it hasn’t exactly worked out.  I don’t even make enough in tips at my waitressing job to pay my rent.  I borrowed this outfit from the dry cleaners that my roommate works at.  That stupid audition caps everything off.” 

Alex examined her carefully.  She was intelligent and articulate, a big change from most young Hollywood hopefuls, and almost made her reconsider.  But this girl was down on her luck and was probably in need of some help.  She decided to get to know her a little more.

“Would you like some lunch?" she asked.  “My treat.”

The girl regarded her skeptically.  “You want to buy me lunch?” she asked disbelievingly.  “What’s your deal?”

Alex smiled.  “Nothing.  I was in your shoes once so I know how it feels, and I know how important it is to have someone that understands.  I’d like to be that person.”

She shrugged and threw her sweater through the open car door.  “Yeah, well, if you put it that way.”  When she turned back she looked at Alex closely for the first time. “Hey, you’re that actress.  The one who was on that soap for a while.” 

“Alex Reynolds,” she replied.  “And you are?”

Jane Wheeler.  Nice to meet you.” 

“Nice to meet you too, Jane,” Alex said and shook the girls’ hand.

Kyle Fenwick

In the lobby of the hotel in Acapulco, Kyle approached Stormy once James had finally left his side.  Hands dug deep in his pockets, he cleared his throat in an effort to announce his presence.

“Listen, I just wanted you to know that I’m glad that you’re okay,” he said.  “I can’t imagine how difficult the whole ordeal was for you, Brooke and Steven.” 

Stormy frowned and winced from the pain in his head.  “That’s because you took off and left us with those people,” he said bitterly.  “I’m surprised you even stuck around.  I would have thought you’d have high-tailed it back to the states by now.” 

“I didn’t just leave you,” Kyle said defensively.  “I got away so that I could get help.”  He gestured to the bandaged gunshot wound at his side.  “I got shot and was wandering around barefoot in the jungle for an entire day, but I kept going because I knew I had to get someone to help.  It wasn’t my fault that by the time we got back to the warehouse they’d already moved you.  I did everything I could.”  

“Yeah, you’re a big hero,” Stormy said incredulously.

“What is your problem?”

“My problem is that you were of no use to the studio anywhere during this entire trip,” he said.  “If you hadn’t come along, Brooke wouldn’t have made the trip down here and she wouldn’t have been held captive in that filthy bunker for days.”

“That’s reaching a little bit, don’t you think?”

“No, I don’t,” Stormy snapped.  “You know, your father’s script wasn’t worth all this trouble.  Now that production on House of Palms has stopped indefinitely, I think the best thing for all of us is for you to part ways with Sunset Studios.  I’ll make sure you’re paid for your time up until now.”

“You can’t just dismiss me like this,” he said.  “Your father was the one who brought me on.” 

“My father didn’t just go through a week of hell because of you.  I’m telling you you’re done.” 

With that, he turned and retreated to a corner of the lobby.  Kyle folded his arms angrily and decided to check on Brooke.  If Stormy felt this way about him, he wondered if she did too.  Maybe that was why she had put him off since their reunion. 

Quickly, he darted off to the elevator.

Brooke Taylor

Staring at the barrel of the gun, Brooke sat rigidly on the edge of the bed.  Bryan paced the room but never waivered his aim away from her.

Knowing that David would walk in and be ambushed by the maniac, Brooke tried desperately to think of a way to warn him.  She hoped that the sound in her voice when she called him would clue him in to there being something wrong.  But more than likely, he would chalk it up to her exhaustion after the hellish week she’d endured in captivity by the cartel.  There was nothing she could do.  Bryan would kill him and kill her as well in order to achieve his sinister plan of becoming wealthy.  She had to wonder how.  If they were dead, the money would probably go to Jackie.  At least until Michael was old enough to inherit it.

“Please don’t do this,” she said, unable to accept their fate.  “If it’s money you want then David will give it to you.” 

“Shut up,” he said, impatiently waiting for the door to open.

They heard sounds outside in the hallway.  Bryan quietly ducked behind the door and waited for David to enter.  Cringing, Brooke was too afraid to watch.   If she said anything to warn him, they’d probably wind up dead in a matter of seconds. 

“You okay?” David asked when he finally entered. 

“David, behind you!” Brooke cried out. She didn’t care what the implications were.  She had to at least try.

Quickly, David spun around and saw Bryan coming at him with his gun clasped between both hands.  He backed away and looked at him in confusion.

“Bryan Carlson?” he asked, remembering him from his days in New York.  He’d met him only a few times, usually while in the company of Kyle or Don Fenwick.  He glanced to the bed and addressed Brooke.  “What’s going on?”

“We’ve been through all of that already,” Bryan said, slamming the door closed and walking slowly toward him.  “Your little sister was supposed to die that night in this room but the cartel decided to come up with their own plan.  Which actually works out well because now I get to off you both at the same time.”

Again, David looked at Brooke and frowned. 

“He’s after your inheritance,” she told him.  “He knows that you left it to me in your will.”   Now didn’t seem like the appropriate time to ask him why he hadn’t told her about his condition so she left it at that. 

Bewildered, David began scanning the room for something to use to fight him off.  It seemed futile, however, as there wasn’t much he could do with a gun pointed at his face.  He decided instead to keep him talking. 

“That’s what this is about?” he asked.  “Money?  Hell, I thought you were heading up Fenwick Industries.  You’ve got access to more money than you’d know what to do with.” 

“Temporarily,” he said bitterly.  “And I’m only the head of the company because Kyle refused it.  As soon as they recruit someone else I’ll be back to settling petty lawsuits from disgruntled employees.  I deserve more.”

From her vantage point, Brooke could see the door opening slowly.  Her heart raced in anticipation when she saw that it was Kyle.  Having heard the voices from the hall, he proceeded with caution.  Hoping to distract Bryan, she helped David in keeping him talking. 

“People are dead because of you,” she said.  “Innocent people who had nothing to do with this.”

“That was unfortunate,” Bryan said.  “Cassidy and Eric were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I shouldn’t have trusted something so civilized to a bunch of machine gun toting guerillas.”

“Do you have any conscience?” she went on, trying not to look at Kyle for fear that it would alert Bryan to his presence.  She watched as she grabbed a golf club propped against the wall and raised it high into the air. The distraction got the better of her and she found her eyes shifting toward him.  Immediately, Bryan sensed that something was wrong and spun around. 

In an instant, Kyle brought the club down toward Bryan, knocking the gun from his hand and sending it flying across the room.  Brooke leapt into action and retrieved it, aiming it with a shaky hand at Bryan. 

“What’s going on, Bryan?” Kyle asked in a condescending tone.  “Long way from home, aren’t you?”

Bryan winced from the pain in his arm where he’d been struck.  “Drastic times,” he said with a groan.  He was sure his arm was broken from the force of the blow from the golf club.  “Good to see you again, Kyle.  I actually thought we could do this without you getting involved.” 

“Do what?” Kyle asked as Brooke and David watched him.  “What have you been up to?”

“He’s responsible for what happened to us,” Brooke said, her voice filled with contempt as she held the gun at him.  “He got the cartel to kidnap us and kill all those people just so he could get David’s money.”

Rolling his eyes, Bryan leveled a look of irritation at Kyle.  “She must be good in bed, Kyle, because I can’t figure how else you could stand to listen to her.” 

Disgusted by his smug expression, Brooke approached him, drew her elbow back, and sent it slamming into his face.  Blood sprayed from his nose and he recoiled with surprise. 

“Bitch,” Bryan murmured, wiping the blood with the back of his hand. 

Brooke responded by placing the gun at his temple and pulling the safety.  She watched as he cringed in anticipation. 

“Get a hold of your woman, Kyle,” Bryan said.

Motioning to Brooke, Kyle took the gun from her and dropped the golf club.  “What happened to you, man?  You were always competitive but this is ridiculous.  You’re not a murderer.”

“Try living in the shadow of the Fenwicks for your entire life,” he said. 

“I have.  You were more of a son to them than I was.” 

“They chose you,” Bryan told him.  “I thought all adopted kids grew up believing that.  Problem is, they didn’t get you from where everyone thinks they did.”

Brooke and David exchanged glances, then looked at Kyle in confusion. 

“But that’ll be our little secret,” Bryan went on, his voice taunting.

“Brooke, call down to the desk and have them send the authorities up here,” Kyle instructed her.  “I’m done listening to this guy.” 

She quickly reacted, calling James on his phone.  While she did, Bryan grabbed her from behind and held her in front of him, causing Kyle to miss his shot. 

“Let her go!” Kyle yelled, angrily pointing the gun. 

“Gladly,” said Bryan, backing up onto the patio while using Brooke as a shield.  Once he was outside, he threw her aside and leapt off of the balcony.

In the commotion, Kyle and David ran after him.  He was nowhere to be found.

“Jesus!” David yelled and tore out of the room.

Bryan Carlson

Downstairs in the lobby, commotion had erupted.  Bryan jumped down from each balcony until he’d reached the open air lobby.  The Mexican police officer next to him started to react but Bryan succeeded in securing his rifle from him.  He fired several shots through the crowd, prompting screams of terror and a barrage of confusion.

James, pulling Stormy with him, ducked behind a support beam and cringed as bullets ricocheted through the air.  Another police officer drew his weapon and fired in his direction.  More shots followed until there was a haze of smoke that filled the air.  When it cleared, Bryan was nowhere to be found.

“Where is he?” called David from across the lobby as he approached from the stairs.  Behind him, Brooke and Kyle were following. 

“I don’t know,” James said, relieved to see that no one had been injured.  “What the hell is going on?”

“We’ll fill you in,” Kyle informed him.   “Did anyone see where he went?’”

“Wherever he went he won’t get far,” said the U.S. agent.  “We’ll have him in custody in no time.”  With that, he dispatched several soldiers who raced out of the hotel, their weapons drawn. 

Brooke, overwhelmed by the day’s events, placed a hand on her forehead and took a few deep breaths. 

“Are you okay?” James asked her.

She nodded.  “Fine.  I just want to get out of here.  I want to go home.” 

“We’re going,” James said and gathered Stormy and Steven. 

David, unsure whether they should leave with the madman still on the loose, started to protest but Kyle placed a hand on his shoulder.  “They’ll find him,” he said.  “Then this will all be over.” 

“I hope so,” David said.

“And we’ll get to the bottom of whatever Bryan had planned,” Kyle added.  “I know he wasn’t working alone.”

David shook his head in despair.  “I agree, and I have a feeling I know who he was working with.”  He looked at James and sighed.  “Jackie.” 

As they left, Kyle stood back and contemplated Bryan’s involvement.  He hadn’t anticipated his showing up, much less being behind any of the events over the past few days.  In a way he hoped they didn’t catch him.  Bryan Carlson knew too many secrets about him that could ruin everything he’d worked for. 

Brett Armstrong

When the elevator doors opened on the executive floor at Merteuil Industries that afternoon, Brett emerged and immediately took note of his surroundings.  Office workers were scurrying about, collecting their personal belongings while FBI agents checked bags, briefcases, and boxes of pictures and potted plants.  Across the lobby area past a line of cubicles, government agents were taping closed a string of file cabinets and loading them onto dollies in preparation for their journey out of the building. 

With a wary step in his walk, he wove through the chaos and stopped when he reached Ira’s desk just outside of Jackie’s office. 

“Is she here?” he asked.

Ira, who was busy faxing a stack of papers with lightening speed efficiency, barely acknowledged him with a nod of his head and a gesture to the closed door.  After Brett had went inside, he picked up the phone and called Renee at Moonshadows.

“The eagle has landed,” he said enigmatically.

“Ira?” Renee asked.  “What are you talking about?”

Sighing in frustration, he waited until the last page had gone through and hastily dropped the whole stack into a paper shredder.  “I was trying to be covert.  Jesus, woman, check your fax machine.  I got all kinds of dirt from Rob Silva’s email account.  Looks like it’s just in time too.  The feds have invaded.” 

Inside Jackie’s office, Brett found her seated with her feet propped up on the desk, an open decanter of gin and a half-full glass sitting nearby.  

“You’re awfully relaxed for a women who’s about to be investigated by the FBI,” he mused.  “What’s the deal?  You’re not even worried?  It looks like Watergate out there.” 

Should I be worried?” Jackie asked coyly.  “I’m sitting pretty as far as I can see.” 

Sighing, Brett took the glass from her and finished her drink.  “I wouldn’t get too comfortable,” he said.  “I said I would cover for you and I meant it.  But there’s only so much I can do.  And I wouldn’t count on that phony document you forged with Renee’s signature on it being too helpful in clearing your name.  You heard that detective at the port today.  You’re in charge so it’s your ass on the line.” 

“I told you.  I’m not worried.” 

“Oh, so being indicted for drug trafficking, conspiring with terrorists and three, maybe four counts of accessory to murder is an average day in the life of Jackie Blackthorne?  Get serious.  You’re hosed.  Bryan Carlson may be the bad guy here, but he’s left contingencies to drop this whole thing in your lap.” 

Rising from the desk, Jackie handed him a press release and then poured them each another glass of gin. 

“You’re holding a press conference?” Brett asked.  “What for?”

“To clear my name and to clear the name of Merteuil Industries,” she said.  “It starts in an hour in the conference room if you’re interested.” 

With that, she threw her head back and swallowed the rest of her drink. 

Alex Reynolds

Sitting in a booth at Du Pars, Alex watched Jane swallow a fistful of French fries and then wash them down with two giant gulps of diet Coke through a straw. 

“I was famished,” she said apologetically, then looked at the empty spot in front of Alex.  “Aren’t you going to eat?”

“I’m not hungry,” she said.

“So how come you were at that audition today?” Jane asked, pushing her long hair behind her ears.  “You don’t exactly fit the part they were casting.  No offense.” 

“None taken,” Alex said with a sigh.  “I was doing some casting of my own, I guess you could say.”

“You’re making a movie?”

“No.  It’s sort of an off-camera part.” 

“What do you mean?”

Deciding it was now or never, Alex leaned in and spoke quietly to ensure no one could hear their conversation.  “I need someone to play a part for me,” she began.

The girl regarded her skeptically.  “Are you into kinky stuff or something?” she asked.  “Like weird sex scenes or something?  My friend Jo back in Peoria got into that.  I said it wasn’t for me.  So no offense, but-“

“Nothing like that,” Alex said with a laugh.  “I just need you to come to my house and talk to some people.  You see, I’m adopting a baby.  His parents aren’t in the picture anymore, and if I went through normal channels, I might not get to adopt him.  Red tape and all that.  All I need is for someone to act as his mother so that people don’t get suspicious.”

“Is that legal?” Jane asked. 

“It’s not technically illegal,” Alex told her.  “Like I said, his real parents aren’t around so it isn’t as if I’m taking him from anyone.  I only want to do what’s best for the baby.  I can give him a home.  There’s just this one thing standing in my way.” 

“What all would I have to do?”

“Not much,” Alex said.  “Come to my house at a time that we’ll arrange later and go along with my story.  You gave birth to him and couldn’t raise him yourself so you gave him to me.” 

“Why couldn’t I raise him?”

Alex knew there was no beating around the bush so she told her the truth, as difficult as it was.  “Because you were a drug addict.”

This sent Jane's eyes flashing open wide.   “What?  A drug addict?  Look, I’ve never even touched the stuff.  Once in high school I smoked a joint, but-“

“Of course not, no,” Alex cut her off.  “I could tell that right away after I met you.  But just think of this as another role, and some good work experience.  I promise nothing will happen to you. It’ll be over before you know it and I’ll coach you on everything you have to say.”

Jane hesitated while dragging a French fry through a glob of ketchup.  “How much money would I make?”

Alex shrugged.  “Five thousand dollars,” she said. “I figure that should at least get your rent paid for a few months.  What do you say?”

“I don’t know.” 

“You’d be doing me a huge favor.  I know if I had someone like me to help when I was in your shoes, I’d have avoided a lot of mistakes.  Please, Jane.  I’m desperate.” 

She finally looked at her and her face relaxed.  “Okay,” she said.  “It sounds easy enough, and I do need the money.”

“Great,” Alex said with a smile.

Blackthorne mansion

Miranda raced inside the Blackthorne mansion and called out for Leilani who appeared at the top of the stairs. 

“Miss Miranda!” she exclaimed and started toward her.  “Mr. Blackthorne just called from the plane!  They’ll be home soon!”

Happily, Miranda threw her arms around their stout housekeeper and cried out in joy.  “Finally!” she screamed.  “Leilani, get Michael and Violet ready to go. We’re going to meet them at the landing strip.  This is a homecoming that’s worthy of celebration.” 

Without wasting a second, she ran off to get the children from the nursery.  Miranda felt tears welling up in her eyes.  Finally things were going to go back to normal and all the waiting and worrying would be behind them.

Merteuil Industries

Reporters from every news station in the city gathered in the glass and steel board room at Merteuil Industries.  Standing in back were Brett and Kenny, who had just arrived after receiving the press release and news conference invitation.  They both turned just as Renee entered, draped in a fox stole and peach knee-length dress.  She surveyed the crowd and approached them steadfastly, the press release clutched tightly in her hand. 

“Are you sure you want to be here?” Kenny asked her.  “The news isn’t good so far.  The FBI has frozen all of Merteuil’s assets and taken custody of their files.  Jackie’s really done a number on this place.” 

“Was there ever any doubt?” Renee asked, scouting around for any sign of her nemesis. “Where is she, anyway?  I’d like to wish her luck.” 

“I saw her in her office,” Kenny said, knowing full well his ex-wife had no intention of playing nice. 

Without wasting a second, Renee marched out of the board room and down the hall.  She ignored the flashing cameras that blinded her with every step and ducked inside, securely closing the door behind. 

“What are you doing here?” Jackie asked as she turned away from the window.  “I’m about to go into a press conference.  Whatever it is will have to wait.” 

“I heard,” Renee said.  “I’m curious, Jackie, what are you planning on saying at the press conference to swindle your way out of this mess you’ve created?  That you weren’t responsible for arranging the shipping deal in Acapulco?  That I was?”

“I wasn’t responsible,” she maintained in a bold and haughty manner. 

“Oh really?” she asked, opening her clutch and removing the emails Ira had faxed to her.  “It seems Rob Silva was under the impression that you were.  You and somebody named Bryan Carlson, a lawyer from Fenwick Industries, I believe.  He issued a purchase order two days before he died based on your orders.”

Hastily, Jackie grabbed the pages from her and felt her face fall when she read their contents.  She had thought of everything except for this.  “I had given orders to have Rob Silva’s computer destroyed.  How did you get these?”

“This may not come as a surprise to you, Jackie, but your employees are still loyal to me and only me.  You were always the enemy.” 

Crumpling the emails in her hand, Jackie threw them onto the desk and turned to the window.  “What do you want?”

“What do I want?” Jackie preened, stepping closer to the desk with her purse clutched delicately in her hands.  “For starters, an apology for using your petty hatred for me as an excuse to run my father’s company into the ground.  Because of you, everything he built is fractions away from being destroyed.  Or was that your plan all along?”

“It wasn’t,” Jackie said.  “And I am sorry, for what it’s worth.” 

“I’ve watched you from the minute you arrived in town,” Renee continued.  “I’ve known exactly what you were up to.  First you seduced James to get control of his studio and his house, then you married that cretin Nathan Blackthorne so you could inch your way closer to your goal; you terrorized Brooke Taylor because somehow you thought it was her fault that your husband couldn’t stay out of her mother’s bed, and then you turned your sights on me.  I wonder how ashamed your father would be if he saw what you’d done to his legacy.  You really are pathetic, Jackie.” 

“It wasn’t my idea to set up the shipping deal in Acapulco,” Jackie told her.  “It was Bryan Carlson’s.  He arranged the kidnappings because he thought he was doing me a favor.  I never wanted any of this to happen.” 

Renee studied her carefully.  “You know, I don’t disbelieve you.  You’re conniving and you’re a liar, but you’re not a murderer and you don’t hurt people that way.  But from the looks of it, none of that matters.  With these emails, I can nail you to the ground and make sure you go away for a very, very long time.” 

Jackie looked at her with wide eyes, convinced that was exactly Renee was going to do. 

“You will go to prison, Jackie.  Mark my words.” 

Tension mounting, she walked around the desk and stood before her.  “So do it,” she said daringly.  “Show those papers to the investigators.   Blow me out of the water.  What are you waiting for?”

Smiling, Renee looked at the press release baring a glamour shot of Jackie with a highly embellished bio printed beneath it.   “Jacqueline Lamont, daughter of famed movie producer Jonas Lamont and ex-wife of hotel magnate Royce Jennings is a noted political activist and supporter of all causes funded by her corporation, Merteuil Industries.  The top of her list of recent contributions employs the dedication she has shown to fighting drug related activities in the United States and the determination to prevent the spread of drug trafficking in major U.S. ports.  Recent contributions to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces are the highlight of her time in the public sector and will be addressed at today’s press conference.”  She paused and raised an eyebrow.  “How much did you have to pay someone to write this?  Supporter of causes?  Give me a break.” 

“In light of what’s happened, I thought it was only appropriate that I address the press about Merteuil’s stand on drugs.” 

“Of course.  Always an opportunist.” 

“I’ll fix this, Renee,” she said.  “I promise.” 

“You’d better.  Believe me when I tell you it’s for your own good.” 

Jackie Lamont

“When I took over the helm of Merteuil Industries, I enlisted the help of an old friend, attorney Bryan Carlson, who made several lucrative deals in my favor,” said Jackie ten minutes later when the press conference began.  Cameras flashed and microphones were thrust toward her as she delivered her much rehearsed speech.  “Little did I know, these deals were to become sinister plots to serve his own personal needs.  Unfortunately, the cargo that I was led to believe would be transported on Merteuil freighters were actually drugs.  It is my understanding that several people – some very close to me – were murdered in connection with this deal.  Others were kidnapped.  I only learned of the connection today when it was made clear to me that the perpetrator was none other than Bryan Carlson.”

Brett stood in the back of the room, grinning at the eloquent way Jackie weaseled out of the mess she’d sat on for weeks.   Beside him, Kenny shook his head with irritation.  He desperately wanted to see Jackie Lamont get what was coming to her. 

“During an incident at the Port of Los Angeles this morning, I was instrumental in stopping a deadly situation that could have led to three innocent lives being lost as a result of this evil plot orchestrated by a madman,” she went on.  “But the most thrilling part of our victory was that I was able to stop more drugs from being brought into our country undetected.  Because of my efforts, an hour ago I had a phone interview with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration who has officially awarded me the post of Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.” 

Applause erupted through the audience.  Renee folded her arms and listened intently.  Good, she thought.  Any way to get Jackie out of their hair was a win win situation.

“As I’ll be based in Washington D.C. and busy with my new duties, I’ve decided to return Merteuil Industries to its original owner, Renee Merteuil-Dewitt, who I know will lead the company out of this dark period and into prosperous new times.” 

Elated, Kenny applauded along with everyone else.   He knew it was only a matter of time before the company was returned to Renee. 

“Mrs. Blackthorne,” called one reporter from the audience once questions were opened up to the media.  “What are your qualifications for running the USDTF?”

“As a force in the business world for the past few decades, I’ve amassed a great deal of experience in managing people and coming up with sound ideas for improvement in any situation.  I’m just thrilled that the government has agreed.” 

“When will you be leaving for D.C?” asked another reporter.

“Very soon,” Jackie replied with a grin.

Once she’d stepped down from the podium, Renee was there to meet her. 

“Satisfied?” Jackie asked. 

“I will be once you’re gone,” she replied with a wry expression.

When the jet landed, the Sunset Studios logo emblazoned on its side, Miranda, Eddie and Leilani jumped out of the limousine and awaited their loved one’s arrival.  Waiting for the doors to open seemed to take hours.  Once they did, Brooke was the first to emerge.  She waived ecstatically from her perch, finally climbing down to the tarmac once the hatch was opened. 

“Thank God you’re all right,” Miranda cried and threw her arms around her.  “We’ve been so worried!”

“I’m glad to be home,” Brooke gushed, hugging Leilani and Eddie, and then grinning with excitement when Miranda opened the back of the limo and Michael came running up to her screaming. 

“Mommy!” he wailed, jumping into her arms. 

“Baby, I’m so happy to see you,” she cried, tears barreling down her face.  “I missed you so much.” 

“I missed you too Mommy.  Adam did too!”

Brooke flashed Miranda a curious look and smiled when she waived the remark off dismissively.  “Long story,” she said. 

The next to emerge were Kyle, James, Steven and Stormy.  Never happier to see her brother in her life, Miranda stared into his eyes and then began sobbing tears of joy. 

“Don’t ever leave me again,” she said, content as he wrapped his arms delicately around her.  “I mean it.  I’ll fucking kill you if you ever decide to go and die again.”

Laughing, he held her tighter.  “I believe you. It’s good to see you too.  Where’s mom?”

“There’s a lot going on with mom right now,” Miranda told him.  “I’ll tell you once we get home.  Don’t worry.  It’s actually good for a change.” 

“Can I get in there?” James asked when he arrived. 

Stormy stood clear and was immediately accosted by a frantic Leilani who sobbed all over his chest in her relief to see him. 

“I’m so glad you’re okay,” James said to Miranda and kissed her forehead.  “When I heard you were on that yacht with Brett and Eddie, I-“

“It’s okay, Daddy,” she assured him.  “Brett and Eddie handled everything.” 

James looked at Eddie and shook his hand.  “Thank you, Eddie.  My daughter’s lucky to have you in her life.” 

He smiled and looked at Miranda.  Their eyes locked for a few lingering moments and for a second it felt to Eddie like everything that had happened before the Mexico fiasco was in the past.   Like they could finally move on. 

But when David approached and Miranda turned to him, he immediately realized things hadn’t changed.  The looks in their eyes told him there was still unresolved feelings about whatever had gone on between them.  Sadly, he turned and went back to the others. 

“You’re okay,” Miranda said as she looked David up and down.  “I’m glad.” 

“You too,” he replied, staring down at her and taking her hand.

Glancing awkwardly back to Eddie, she paused and then turned to David.  “Look, David, there’s some things we need to talk about.  What happened between us-“

Her sentence was cut short when he leaned down and kissed her passionately on the lips.  Eddie saw them out of the corner of his eye and turned away angrily, climbing into the limo. 

“We do need to talk,” David agreed.  “Come to my house tonight.  Or tomorrow night.  Whenever.  After you spend time with your family.  I’ve just really missed you, Miranda.” 

She smiled, unsure of what to think.  Since her near fatal experience on the yacht with Eddie, she’d found herself remembering why she fell in love with him in the first place.  Now David was here, obviously wanting something from her, and she couldn’t help but feel happy about it.  She didn’t know how, but she was in love with both of them. The only problem was, only one of them was the father of her baby.

David Jenner

At home at his house in Malibu that evening, David wandered from room to room, happy to be home but with an unsettled feeling in the pit of his stomach.  His mother’s recent activities, coupled with the uncertainty of Bryan Carlson’s location ate away at him and prevented him from relaxing.  He decided to check in with James again to see if there had been any new information. 

“James, it’s David,” he said after making the call.  “Have you heard anything about Carlson?”

“Nothing, David,” James told him, wishing he had better news.  “They’re still searching the areas around Acapulco but so far it’s been one dead end after another.  It’s possible he’s doubled back to the states by now.  The Fenwick pilot has been unreachable for hours.” 

“Do we have to worry that he’s going to make a reappearance and another attempt on Brooke’s life?” David asked, running his hands through his hair while detecting the glow of headlights coming through the living room windows. 

“I doubt it,” James told him.  “Thanks to your mother’s press conference, he’d be stupid to try anything.  If he comes back to L.A., he won’t make it a block.”

David could only hope he was right.  “Let me know if you hear anything else,” he said and clicked off the phone while peering through the windows.  To his surprise, Jackie was walking up the steps to the door, a driver waiting in the car at the end of the drive.

“Hi,” she said when he opened the door.   “Can I come in?”

“That depends,” he told her, leaning against the door with his arms folded. 

“On?”

“On if you’re going to spin anything else to make you look like Mother Theresa.”

She smiled and walked through the doorway into the sunken living room.   “You saw the press conference,” she surmised. 

“I caught the highlights on the news.”

“I’m glad you’re safe,” she said.  She was wrapped in a fur, her hair straight and worn down, demure makeup and soft eyes emanating toward him.  “You may not believe this, but I was very worried about you, David.” 

“So tell me,” he began, “what was your involvement in this whole Acapulco debacle?”

“What I said at the press conference was the truth,” she said.   “Bryan Carlson acted alone.  You have to believe that, David.  You have to know I’d never have anything to do with murdering people.” 

Yes, he did believe her.  His mother may be a lot of things, but a murderer was not one of them.  “When are you leaving for D.C.?”

“Tonight,” she replied.  “I just have to stop at Merteuil to pick a few things up first.”

“Can I drive you?”

“I have a driver waiting,” she said and walked back to the door.  “I just wanted to say goodbye and I’m sorry.” 

“Sorry?” he asked, opening the door for her.

“For the trouble I’ve caused for you and Brooke.  She is your sister.  I guess I never really wanted to accept that.” 

He smiled.  “I knew you’d come around eventually.  I knew you’d have to accept Brooke as Royce’s daughter.” 

She turned to him and frowned.  “I didn’t say that.  I just said I accepted that she was important to you.”

It took a few seconds, but eventually David realized she was toying with him.  Maybe she wasn’t going to accept Brooke as Royce’s daughter, but at least she seemed to have given up on her vendetta.  For the time being, anyway. 

“What about your shares in Sunset Studios?” he asked.

“I’ve given them to someone,” she told him.  “Someone who I owe a debt of gratitude to.  Your grandfather was the movie moguel.  I never was.  This new post in the D.C. will give me power.  In the long run, that’s a lot better than holding on to some family legacy.”

He smiled and kissed her on the cheek.  “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she said and headed out into the night. “I want regular checkups on your condition.  I’ll visit often.” 

“Looking forward to it.” 

“Bye baby.”  

David watched her climb into the back of the Rolls Royce limousine, waiving as it drove away.  Slowly, he closed the door and shook his head in amusement.  His mother never ceased to amaze him. 

Jackie Lamont

The sun had set over the city as Jackie collected things from her office at Merteuil Industries.  A lone straggler from the FBI team that had swarmed the place earlier in the day was there when she arrived and left shortly after.  Alone in her office with nothing but the glow of the desk lamp to light the room, she sorted through personal belongings and placed them into her attaché case.  From the end of the hall, she heard the sound of the elevator stopping on the executive floor.  Probably the FBI agent returning for something, she decided.  Or maybe Renee getting a jump start on reclaiming her old office.

Either way, she continued with her task.  She had a flight to catch to D.C. in an hour.  A flight that would take her away from the mistakes she’d made and the ancient grudges that had ruled her life for the past year. 

A shadow loomed in the doorway and she looked up.  Startled, she took a step back when she realized it wasn’t the FBI agent or Renee DeWitt.  

“Bryan,” she said breathlessly.  “What are you doing here?”

“I saw your press conference on the news,” he said, walking into the dimly lit room.  He didn’t move his right arm, still injured from the golf club attack administered earlier in the day by Kyle.

“I had to set the record straight,” she said and swallowed hard.  “It was my freedom on the line.” 

“You sent me up the river,” he said, drawing closer, a maniacal look in his eyes.  “I’m ruined.  My career, my life, my freedom.”

“You did that all by yourself,” she said, backing toward the window behind her.  “I think you should leave before I call the police.” 

“We were in this together,” he told her, cornering her by the window.  His dark eyes bore into hers and for the first time she saw how deeply deranged he was.  “We were going to help each other out.” 

“You were going to kill me to get David’s money,” she said.  “You were in this for yourself and no one else.” 

“You know how I felt about you,” he said, raising his hands and placing them around her neck.  “Since the day we met there's been chemistry.  You can’t deny there was.” 

“That was a long time ago,” she said, terrified and growing more claustrophobic by the minute with his hands tightening around her neck..  “Before you went crazy and started killing people.” 

“I don’t have much to lose,” he said, staring into her eyes.  “You’ve made sure of that.  That makes me very dangerous.”

“Take your hands off of me,” she said, detecting the glimmer of an object in the window to the outer office.  “There aren’t going to be any more accidents.  First Rob Silva and then Devon Graham?  You're getting predictable, Bryan.”

“They’ll never catch me,” he said with a self assured grin. 

“Oh really?” Jackie asked.  “Turn around.”

Bryan laughed.  “Nice try.”

The sound of glass breaking broke the silence.  For several moments everything was still.  Jackie wasn’t sure that anything had actually happened until she felt Bryan’s hands release from her neck.  Slowly, he sunk to the floor, dead from a single bullet in the back of his head.  Behind him, the FBI agent stood with his gun poised.

Trembling violently, Jackie stared down at Bryan’s body, relieved that his reign of terror was finally over. Now she could leave and know he was no longer a threat to her son or anyone else.


Next time....

Everything old is new again as Stormy and Brett resume their long-brewing rivalry.  David experience symptoms of his condition, prompting him to reconsider his relationship with Miranda.  Brooke tries to reconnect with Kyle.  Jordan questions Jane.  

 

 

Read Episode 123

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