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Episode 124

 

Release Date:  October 9, 2010

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Kenny proposed to Renee, but Sierra arrived before she could give him an answer.  Sierra introduced her new boyfriend, Hunt Roberts, to Renee, who was pleased with her daughter's choice for a companion.   Duke informed Benji that he knew Hunt Roberts, and knew that Jeff Branigan was his drug dealer.  Hoping to make Benji jealous, Summer began seeing Blake.  Benji secretly sold Suzanne's manuscript about her affair with Brett to Holt Publishing.  Michael continued to talk about his imaginary friend, Adam.  Jordan and Miranda met Jane Wheeler, the actress Alex hired to pretend she was R.J.'s biological mother.  While Miranda could identify with the young woman because of her own pregnancy, Jordan mistrusted her.  Later, he tracked Jane down at her apartment and questioned her, certain that she was lying about something.  Stormy was incensed to learn Jackie had given her ten percent of Sunset Studios to Brett.  Brooke confronted Kyle about the secret Bryan Carlson had mentioned in Acapulco pertaining to where Kyle was adopted from.  Kyle told her that the Fenwick's had adopted him on the black market.  James and Mackenzie Stone went on a date.  Later, Mackenzie and Kyle met up and she promised she wouldn't tell anyone that they are brother and sister and that Will Thomerson isn't really his father.  

 


  

Episode 124

"The Disappearance of My Youth"

 

For the third night since her return from Mexico, Brooke Taylor awoke with a shriek, drenched in sweat and terrified of the visions that plagued her dreams.  Haunting images from the hellish week she’d spent locked away in a filthy cell.  Each night she went back to that place, her body trembling as men with machine guns took aim and fired.  And each night she awoke with the relief that she was safe in her own bed, her son sleeping peacefully in the room next door. 

Tonight, however, her son wasn’t asleep in the room next door.  He was standing beside her bed whispering quietly to no one or nothing in particular.  For a second she thought he was sleepwalking, but his eyes were open and he was alert to her presence. 

“Michael, what are you doing?  Who are you talking to?” she asked groggily.

“Adam,” he replied. 

After an initial set of chills ran up her spine, she groaned and threw the covers off of her while sliding to the edge of the bed.  “Okay, that’s enough of that.  You’re going back to bed.”

“I was in bed but Adam kept coming in here,” the little boy complained.  “He’s sleeping next to you.  He said you were scared because of the nightmare.”

Brooke felt foolish for doing so, but she craned her neck and glanced at the empty space behind her.  Of course there was no one there.  Did she really expect there to be? 

“How did Adam know I was having a nightmare?” she asked, playing along. 

He shrugged.  “He just knows stuff.”

“Ah,” she said and got off the bed.  “Well, tell Adam that I’m fine now and he can go back to your room and play quietly while you get some sleep.” 

She got him back into bed, kissed him on the cheek and returned to her room.  A glance at the clock told her it was late.  Almost one o’clock.  But since she came back from Acapulco, she’d been exhausted.  Closing her eyes, she tried to put her son’s strange behavior out of her head so she could go back to sleep.  Minutes later, she heard his voice carry through the wall separating their bedrooms.  He was talking to Adam.

Alex Reynolds

Peering into the dark living room with her eye mask pushed up to her forehead, Alex shook away the groggy feeling from being awoken in the middle of the night.  She flipped on the light and stomped across the room to the door.

“Who’s there?” she called.

“It’s Jane.” 

Alarmed, Alex turned the lock, removed the chain, and pulled the door open.  As soon as she did, Jane Wheeler rushed inside, a panicked expression on her face. 

“What are you doing here?” Alex asked.  “Do you know what time it is?”

“That guy came to see me tonight,” Jane blurted, darting anxiously back and forth.

“What guy?”

“That producer guy.  Your ex-husband.  He was asking me all kinds of questions.”

Jordan?  How did he find you?  What did you tell him?”  Visions of R.J. being taken away from her filled her thoughts. 

Jane shrugged and dropped her hands to her sides.  “He’s a smart guy so it probably didn’t take long for him to track me down.  He knows something is up.  He kept asking about my family and about when I gave birth.” 

“What did you say?” Alex asked, tightening her nightgown around her waist.  “Did you tell him anything?”

“I played along as best I could,” she lamented, arms clamped over her chest.  “He asked where I had the baby and I said USC.  He says that the adoption people will have to talk to the doctor who delivered him.  What are we going to do?”

Alex grew into a daze.  Why did Jordan have to be so damn pushy all the time?  “Relax,” she finally said.  “He doesn’t know anything.  He’s just concerned about me.  I’ll take care of him.”

“What about me?” Jane asked.  “I could get into a lot of trouble.  What if he goes looking for hospital records and there aren’t any?  My name’s not even going to come up at USC.”

“I told you not to worry about it,” Alex said with confidence.  “I’ll come up with something.  Now you have to go before someone sees you here.  You’re supposed to be giving up your child.  If you show up here night and day people are going to wonder if something is going on.”

“Well what should I do if he comes back?” Jane asked as she was ushered to the door. 

“Don’t talk to him,” Alex said.  “Don’t talk to anyone.” 

Jordan

After questioning Jane Wheeler, Jordan stopped by La Mirada bar at Moonshadows for a drink with his attorney, John David Berry.  They strategized over the next morning’s custody hearing, and then Jordan went home to find Suzanne in the dimly lit drawing room.

“You’re up late,” he said from the doorway.  Immediately he sensed that she’d been drinking.  Then a glance across the room to two empty bottles of cabernet confirmed his suspicions.  “What are you doing?”

Standing at the French doors that led to the terrace, she turned toward him.  Beams of moonlight illuminated her tear-stained cheeks.  In her hand she clutched a piece of paper, while the other gripped a half-empty glass of wine.

“Waiting for you,” she said. 

“I was going to head up to bed.  I have an early day tomorrow.”

“The custody hearing, I know,” she said, walking toward him and gesturing with the piece of paper.  “I got a subpoena today.  It was messengered to the house.”

Jordan knew it was going to come up sooner or later, which was why John had waited until the last minute to deliver it.  Her reaction was predicable, but he saw no other alternative.

“Not going to say anything?” Suzanne went on after a few moments of awkward silence.

He shrugged.  “What would you like me to say?  I need your testimony at the hearing if I’m going to win custody of our granddaughter.” 

Suzanne scoffed and went to refill her glass.  “You could have warned me,” she said.  “Oh, but then I would have had an opportunity to talk you out of this asinine idea of yours.”

“Asinine?” he asked.  “Because I want to protect Violet?  Because I don’t want Brett to hurt her like he did Heather?”

We hurt Heather,” Suzanne insisted.  We lied to her.  It’s because of us that she’s locked away right now.  Brett had nothing to do with that.” 

Digging his hands in his pockets, Jordan went to the bar and looked into an empty carafe of vodka.  “He cheated on her while she was defenseless.  He was supposed to be there for her.  Instead he was off screwing around with…”

“With me?” she asked and shot him a cold stare.  “You want me to get on that stand tomorrow and let your lawyer rip me apart because of our affair.  You want to use me as ammunition to get your hands on Violet.”

“John has explicit instructions not to bring up the affair,” Jordan said.

“So why subpoena me?”

“To tell the judge that Violet belongs with us,” he said firmly.  “It’s the only way our marriage can work.”

She attempted to laugh but it came out as more of a whimper.  “Why are you doing this?" she demanded.  “I know you were hurt by my affair with Brett, but this custody thing is extreme even for you.  So why?  What is this going to accomplish?”

“I told you.  I don’t want my granddaughter subject to his kind of-“

“Brett has nothing to do with this and you know it,” Suzanne cut him off.  It was clear to her that he was trying to punish them.  This custody hearing was nothing more than a revenge tactic.

“So what is it then?  What is it you think I’m doing this for?  I can give Violet the kind of life she deserves.”

“You mean we can.”

He shot her an icy cold look.  “I guess that depends on what you say on that stand tomorrow.” 

After he left, she turned and let her tears go.  How had everything gotten so messed up?  A year ago they were on their way to being a normal family.  Now it felt like a house of cards.

Blackthorne mansion

Morning haze filtered in through the solarium at the Blackthorne mansion as James finished his breakfast and made his way out to the foyer.  As he did, Miranda descended on the staircase dressed in a conservative black skirt and tweed jacket. 

“Good morning, Darling,” James said and gave her a peck on the cheek when she reached the bottom landing.  “You look lovely.”

“Morning, Daddy.  Thanks.  I thought I should look my best for Brett.  I still can’t believe Jordan is doing this.  It’s so unlike him.  He’s not a spiteful man.” 

“You didn’t know him when we were younger,” James declared.  “There was a time when he was very antagonistic.  He’s mellowed over the years, but this latest stunt seems right up his ally.  Aren’t you going to have any breakfast?”

She shook her head.  “I’m not hungry.”  The truth was, she’d just gotten through throwing her guts up from the mere smell of Leilani’s bacon and spinach quiche.  The woes of pregnancy.  Which reminded her, she needed to make an appointment with Dr. Mitchell.  She still hadn’t gone in and gotten a full check up.  But when did she have time?  The last week had been a whirlwind. 

“We should get going,” James said and steered her to the door.  Kenny wants us there a few minutes early so he can brief us on what he’s going to ask us on the stand.”

“You’re really going to testify for him?” Stormy asked when he appeared on the stairs.  “After everything he’s done to this family?”

They both turned and watched as he made his way down the staircase.

“Anything Brett may have done in the past is of no concern to me anymore, son,” James said.  “He saved your life and the life of your sister.  We owe him at least this much.”

“Yeah, Stormy, give him a break.  I’ve forgiven Brett so why can’t you?”

“Because con men like him don’t change,” Stormy insisted as he drew near.  “It’s bad enough Jackie gave him her shares in Sunset Studios.  We’re stuck with him.  But you want to subject Heather’s daughter to him for the rest of her life?”

“Brett is a good father.  I’ve seen him with Violet.” 

“Except for when he’s lying and cheating,” Stormy insisted.  “He had an affair, didn’t he?  Is that the kind of role model that little girl deserves?”

Miranda sighed and waved a hand through the air.  “I can’t hear anymore of this,” she said and motioned to James.  “Come on, Daddy, let’s go.” 

James gave Stormy a nod of his head and followed Miranda out to the front drive. 

Brett Armstrong

Leaving Violet with the sitter was harder than it ever had been before.  Probably because this time there was a chance he may not be the one to pick her up and bring her home.  There was a very good chance he could be reduced to weekly or even fewer visitations than that.  The thought made him shudder with anxiety. 

As Brett walked into the grandiose lobby of the courthouse downtown, he immediately spotted Suzanne standing alone by a coffee machine.  Slowly and with a great deal of trepidation, he approached.

“Hi,” he said, hands dug into the pockets of his charcoal suit trousers. 

Suzanne looked away and managed a faint smile just for the sake of it.  “Hi.” 

“Did you come by yourself?” he wanted to know.

“If you mean did I come with Jordan, the answer is no.  I don’t support him in this.  I just want you to know that, Brett. I told you before that I think Violet should stay with you.” 

He smiled.  “I wasn’t sure after that last run-in we had.” 

“I’m sorry for slapping you,” she said.  “I’m sorry for a lot of things.” 

Her eyes flashed over his and he finally got a sense of what she was thinking.  “Are you sorry about us?”

She shrugged.  “All I know is I acted selfishly.”

“We both did.”  He looked around and tensed as the doors to the courtroom were opened.  “Well, I appreciate you coming to support me.”

“Actually, I didn’t,” Suzanne said, then was quick to add, “I mean, that’s not the only reason I’m here.  Jordan’s lawyer subpoenaed me.”

The news sent Brett’s eyes flashing open in surprise.  “He what?  Why?”

“I guess he wants me to support him in this,” she explained.  “And you know Jordan.  If I don’t, he’ll make sure I pay the price one way or another.” 

“What are you going to say?” Brett asked.

She glanced across the lobby when Jordan entered the building.  He spotted them together and quickly made his way into the courtroom. 

“The truth,” she said.  “Regardless of the consequences.” 

And just like that she was gone, ducking into the courtroom with Renee as she arrived.  From behind, Kenny approached and shook his hand. 

“Ready?” he asked.

Brett nodded.  “I guess so.” 

Benji Rydell

A night crawling about at Vanguard, then a birthday party at a house in Bel Air that featured a girl from some new MTV reality show overdosing in the pool, followed by a bonfire at Hermosa Beach, ended around eight-thirty in the morning.  When the raucous crowd finally dissipated, Benji, Duke, Blake and Summer piled into Duke’s convertible 320 and went to the Beverly Hills Hotel for their world famous brunch while they compared stories about the night before. 

“Did you see who she was with in the pool?” Summer was asking while pushing her food around her plate to make it look like she was eating when in fact she wasn’t.  She hadn’t eaten since eleven-thirty the day before.  A hunk of rare ahi tuna and a handful of popcorn, which she’d promptly thrown up. 

“Van Edgewater,” Blake replied.

“No, Ashton Childers,” Summer corrected him. 

“I’m pretty sure she wasn’t with Ashton Childers,” Duke confirmed, sunglasses on as he sipped a screwdriver through a green straw.  “He’s in Greece with his dad.  He sent me a text with a picture of some Greek babe he banged in the bathroom of his hotel room while his dad was entertaining in the next room.” 

Summer frowned and scraped her fork against her plate.  “You don’t have to act like that, Duke.  I just said I thought I saw him with her, that’s all.  Why do you have to act like that?”

“Like what?  You said you saw her with Ashton Childers and I said she couldn’t have because he’s in Greece.  What’s the big deal?”

She rolled her eyes.  “You always have to be right about everything, even if it makes other people feel stupid.” 

“Oh, sorry.  I’ll be sure to walk on eggshells around you from now on so I don’t risk making you feel stupid.”

Tears welled up in her eyes and she lowered her head in hopes that Benji would come to her defense.  She knew he had a soft side.  He’d shown it that day he came to tell her about her mother’s death.  But to her disappointment, this time he didn’t. 

“Leave her alone, Duke,” Blake said and slid his arm around her. 

Quickly, she shrugged him away, concerned that Benji would notice.  And while she wanted to make him jealous, she didn’t want him to believe there was no hope for getting together with her.  Blake was dispensable, after all.  Benji was not. 

“Whatever,” Duke said and then noticed how quiet Benji was being.  “Hey Rydell, isn’t your dad’s hearing today?”

“I guess,” he replied. 

“Is he really trying to get your sister’s baby?” Blake asked.

“That’s his plan.”  His attention had wavered as a blur of familiarity breezed through the restaurant and took a seat in a booth cattycorner from them.  At first he thought it was his eyes playing tricks on him – a side effect from being awake for twenty-four hours – but after blinking a few times he realized that wasn’t the case.  Sierra was back in town, and sitting across the room from him. 

Summer followed his gaze across the room.  “Who’s that?” she asked. 

Duke turned his head and spied Sierra and Hunt Roberts through blackout shades.  “Well, well, well,” he said.  “Look who’s back.”  He turned to address Summer.  “That’s Sierra Merteuil.  Benji’s star crossed familiar.” 

“Huh?” Summer asked, pangs of jealousy immediately welling up within her. 

“He means they fucked at Paradise Cove last summer,” Blake said wryly, obviously to Summer’s infatuation on the subject. 

“And for whatever reason he’s still pining for her,” Duke said, then placed a hand on Benji’s back.  “It’s not like you to have it this bad for anyone, Rydell.  You never did tell me what’s so special about this girl.  Her father’s a child molester.  She could have some serious issues.”

Benji’s eyes didn’t move from her, or from the way she and Hunt held hands beneath the table.  She seemed so happy from where he was sitting, and that was only the beginning of his concerns.  Hunt, whom he’d heard so much about from Duke over the past few months, was ridiculously good looking.  He wondered how easy it would be to get him naked and find out first hand what Sierra saw in him.  He did it with Brett so why not this guy? 

Shaking his head, he dispelled the image and tried to concentrate on what was important.  Getting Sierra away from him.  He had to talk to her.  Quickly, he began to stand up from the table.

“Not so fast, big guy,” Duke said and pulled at his arm.  “Remember what we talked about?  I have information on Hunt Roberts that could drive a very permanent wedge between him and your lady lover.  I still owe you for helping me get back at Jeff Branigan.” 

“Yeah, I wound up in jail, remember?” Benji asked and sat back down. 

“Luckily your dad was screwing the detective so it all turned out okay,” Duke went on, taking off his sunglasses and placing them over Benji’s eyes in an effort to disguise him.

“What do you have on Hunt Roberts?” Summer wanted to know.  She wanted to strangle him for helping Benji get with that black girl. 

“He’s a coke head,” Duke explained.  “And Jeff Branigan – your favorite back seat suck toy – is his dealer.  My guess is he’ll try to make contact with him soon if he hasn’t already.  And I bet Sierra won’t take too well to learning her Ivy-league boyfriend is a user.” 

Summer screwed up her face after his latest jab.  She was getting tired of him refusing to forget about her night in the back seat of Jeff Branigan’s car.  Yes, she screwed up.  Just like she screwed up when she had sex with Benji in the alley outside of Area last summer.  Duke hadn’t been the most available boyfriend, anyway, considering he spent more time in New York than he did with her. 

Benji grew distant, staring at Sierra out of the corner of his eye.  He knew that she would change her mind once he finally got the chance to talk to her.  He hadn’t forgotten about their night together last summer, and he knew she hadn’t either. 

Kenny DeWitt

The judge called the hearing to order and after John and Kenny each delivered an opening statement, he instructed the first character witnesses to take the stand.

“How long have you known Mr. Armstrong?” Kenny asked after James sat down.

“About five years,” James replied.

“And how did you come to know him?”

"He and my daughter Miranda used to be married.” 

“Did your daughter and Mr. Armstrong have any children?” Kenny went on.

“No,” James said, and then was quick to add, “they conceived a child but Miranda had a miscarriage.  Brett was extremely upset.” 

“And in the three years since, Mr. Armstrong married Jordan Rydell’s daughter, Heather Armstrong, and had a daughter with her.  Is that correct?”

“Yes.” 

“In your opinion, is Mr. Armstrong a good father to his daughter?” Kenny inquired.

“Absolutely,” James said.

“Jordan Rydell has claimed that his son-in-law’s lifestyle is a threat to his daughter’s well-being.  Do you believe this to be true?”

James shook his head.  “No, I don’t.  Brett is a responsible, upstanding man.  He’s came to my family’s rescue on more than one occasion.  We owe him a great deal of gratitude.”

“Can you give us an example?” Kenny inquired.

James searched his distant memories.  “He delivered my great nephew in a rainstorm when my ex-wife was stranded in the mountains.  He stepped up and oversaw the operations of my film studio on two separate occasions.  He came to my son and daughter’s aid during a recent and very dangerous situation involving a drug cartel…”

“So you would trust him under any circumstances?” Kenny asked.

“Yes,” James said.  “I would trust him with my life.  I would trust my children’s lives with him.  He’s proven himself over and over.  I can’t imagine why Jordan Rydell is claiming otherwise.”

Jordan rolled his eyes from his seat.  Of course James would turn things around to make him look ridiculous.  It was par for the course when it came to their relationship.

* * * * *

“We met in Vegas,” Miranda explained when it was her turn to testify for Brett.  “At a casino.  I had run away from home because my father was about to marry a woman I didn’t approve of.  I do now, by the way.  Anyway, he made me feel better.”

“Flash forward a couple of years and tell me what happened when you discovered you were pregnant with Mr. Armstrong’s child,” Kenny said while pacing before the stand.

Miranda grew silent as she reflected on the difficult time.  “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a mother,” she admitted.  “I considered having an abortion.  Brett talked me out of it.  We weren’t even married anymore and he wanted to be a father to Biff.  Oh, that’s what I named the baby once I decided to keep him.” 

“And then there were complications?” Kenny asked.

“Yes, I miscarried.  Brett was devastated.  That’s when he began seeing Heather.”

“Tell us about Heather.”

“We grew up together,” Miranda began.  “Our father’s were competitors but we had a lot in common.  We went through a lot of the same experiences.  I was very sad when she went to the mental institution.” 

“How did her husband feel?”

“He was destroyed,” she announced.  “She was his world.  He was so careful with her.  She had…issues.”

Jordan looked away, fully aware that Heather’s issues had everything to do with the way she was raised.  His and Suzanne’s chaotic lives had secured her breakdown by the age of fourteen. 

Miranda looked out at Brett and smiled.  “But he held it together for his daughter.  For Violet.  Everything he does is to protect her and to give her a good life.” 

“Thank you, Miranda,” Kenny said.  “That’s all.” 

As Miranda left the stand and returned to her seat beside James, the judge turned to address Jordan’s attorney.

“You may call your first character witness, Mr. Berry.”  

John turned and whispered in Jordan’s ear.  They conversed quietly for a few seconds.  When they were finished, John stood up and unbuttoned his suit jacket.

“I’d like to call Suzanne Rogers,” he said. 

Heads turned as Suzanne rose to her feet and slowly made her way to the witness stand.  As she did, her eyes locked onto Brett’s.  Jordan watched her closely, certain that she was the only thing that could sway the judge’s decision.

Stormy Blackthorne

With R.J. wailing in her arms, Alex called Kenny’s cell and left him an urgent voicemail. 

“Kenny, it’s Alex again.  Look, I know you’re in court today but you have to call me as soon as you can.  I want to get this adoption finalized quickly.”  She shifted the baby in her arms and sighed.  “It’s just very important to me that this goes smoothly.  Please call me.” 

After she hung up, she went to the bar and grabbed a bottle of formula, hoping it would appease the infant so she could think in peace.  Since Jane’s impromptu visit the night before, she had grown increasingly worried that her lie was going to be exposed.  If Jordan continued to butt in where he didn’t belong, she was afraid Jane would crack under the pressure and tell him that she wasn’t R.J.’s mother.  Then she’d be forced to explain where she got him.  That she’d paid Kelly to give him to her.  Her loved ones would never forgive her. 

A knock at the door alerted her to a visitor.  It was probably Jane.  Knowing that Jordan, Miranda and everyone else was at the custody hearing, she assumed it was safe to have her over again.  All she had to do was assure her that it would be over soon and they’d be home free.  She also promised her more money as an incentive to be in top form.  If it worked, it would be worth it. 

But when she pulled the door open, she was alarmed to find Stormy standing in the hall. 

“Darling, what are you doing here?” she asked in a panic.  Dr. Farraday said you should be taking it easy.”

“I feel fine,” Stormy insisted as he entered the apartment and instantly began marveling at his new baby brother.  “So this is my namesake?”

Alex cringed and gave a painstaking nod of her head.  “Yes.  This is R.J.”

“What a good looking guy you are,” Stormy said with a smile as he wiggled the baby’s toes with his fingers.  “And feisty.”  He looked back at his mother and smiled.  “He doesn’t sound happy.”

“He’s hungry but he won’t eat,” she explained.  “I think he just needs to be put down for a nap.  I’ll be right back.” 

“Wait, I’d like to hold him,” Stormy pronounced and moved forward to stop her from retreating to the bedroom.  “Just for a minute.  I want to get to know my baby brother.” 

“Oh, darling, I don’t think-“

But he was already lifting R.J. from her arms and cradling him against his chest.  Alex studied his expression as a feeling of doom overcame her.  Maybe she was crazy for thinking he would look into the baby’s eyes and immediately know he was his son.  They shared similar features but didn’t babies all look the same anyway?  She was probably worried over nothing. 

“It’s crazy that he has all this thick black hair already,” Stormy said.  “Just like Miranda and I when we were babies.”

Alex forced herself to smile.  Luckily, R.J. began crying louder so she quickly used the opportunity to take him back.  “He’s really tired, sweetheart.  I should put him down for a nap.” 

“Oh, okay,” Stormy said.  “Are you doing okay, mom?  Do you need help?  Where’s Veronique?”

“She went out to pick up some supplies,” Alex said.  “I’m fine, sweetheart.  Why do you ask?”

He grinned.  “Well, it’s been a few years since you’ve raised a baby.  And you aren’t getting any younger…”

“That’s enough, smart guy,” she said and returned his smile.  “Listen, I’d love to chat but I really need to get R.J. settled down.  Can we make a date for tomorrow or the next day?  I’ll have Veronique stay with him and I’ll meet you somewhere.  Maybe the Yacht Club.”

“Sure, okay,” he said and stated to the door.  “But don’t feel like you have to leave him home.  I meant what I said before I left for Mexico.  I want to be part of this baby’s life.  I mean, that was when you were going to adopt the baby from Malawi, but the offer still stands no matter where the baby came from.  I want us to be close like we used to.” 

Tears welled up in her eyes and she smiled as he leaned in and kissed her cheek.  “So do I,” she said.

“Talk to you soon,” he said before slipping back out into the hall. 

After he’d left, Alex looked down at R.J. and silently willed her guilty conscience away.  Here her oldest son was trying to start over with her, without the feuding and the bitter feelings, and she could do nothing but lie to him. 

Jane Wheeler

When he emerged from his mother’s high-rise apartment building, Stormy jogged across the parking lot where his tricked out Cobra II was parked.  As he approached, he noticed a girl standing beside a beat up old VW Jetta with the hood open staring helplessly at the engine.  Never one to leave a pretty young girl stranded helplessly, he went to her to offer his assistance. 

“Won’t start?” he asked. 

Jane shook her head miserably.  “It was making funny noises the whole way here and then it just conked out the second I pulled into the lot.” 

“Hmmm,” Stormy said, peering into the engine.  “Figure out what the problem is?”

“I don’t know anything about cars.” 

He smiled.  “Oh, I thought you might seeing as how you had the hood open.” 

It took a minute, but she finally realized he was toying with her.  “Isn’t that what people do when they have car problems?”

“That, or they call the auto club,” he said and pulled his cell phone from his pocket.  “Here, let me.” 

Jane was quick to object.  Auto club?  Who did he think she was?   After paying her three months of late rent and a few other deferred necessities, she’d almost blew through the five thousand dollars Alex had paid her.  Luckily she’d told her to come by and get another check that morning.  

“That’s okay,” she said.  “I’ll call when I get inside.  I’m visiting a friend of mine.”

“You sure?” he asked.  “I know a guy.  He can be here in fifteen minutes and get you going again.” 

She shook her head.  Who knew how much that would cost her?  This guy looked like he didn’t have any problems with money.  What was probably chunk change to him would translate to her not having food to eat for the next month. 

“That’s very nice of you,” she insisted.  “But like I said, my friend lives here.  She’ll help me.”

Stormy held his hands up in resignation. “Okay, if you insist.  But I can’t resist a pretty girl in need.” 

She couldn’t help but smile.  Since she’d moved to L.A. she’d been hit on by a lot of guys, but something was different about this one.  She felt weird accepting help from a complete stranger, so she held her ground. 

“Thanks anyway,” she said, closing the hood and turning to the building. 

Stormy watched her move toward the entrance and smiled.  When he got back to his car, he impulsively scribbled a note on a piece of paper and left it on her windshield.  Why not?  He had nothing to lose. His time in Mexico proved that, if nothing else.

Suzanne Rogers

Suzanne nervously took her seat on the stand.  She felt as if she were being judged by not only the old guy in the black robe sitting beside her, but by every single person in the room.  Renee, whom she had been friends with for over twenty-five years; Jordan, the husband she strayed from; and Brett, the man who made her feel alive for the fist time in years, all watched her with anticipation. 

“How are you today, Miss Rogers?” Jordan’s attorney inquired. 

“Fine,” she replied softly and with glossy eyes. 

His response was a smile that oozed with condescension.  Jordan immediately picked upon the all-too familiar look in his attorneys eyes and predicted what was about to transpire.  Despite his initial orders for John to go easy on Suzanne, all bets were now off.  He needed her at her most vulnerable to erase Brett’s praises as sung by James and Miranda.

“Miss Rogers, you’ve recently returned to your family after a thirteen year separation,” John began.  “Can you tell us how that’s been going?”

“It’s been very difficult,” she admitted, surprised by the direction of his question.

“How so?”

“Well, my daughter suffered an emotional breakdown and was sent to a mental institution…”

“She had a series of psychotic episodes, you mean.”

“Yes,” she replied, wide eyed and cringing at the harshness of his words.

“And your son?”

“Benji is adjusting to being at home.  He was at boarding school for most of his life.  Jordan and I have been trying to help him with the adjustment.” 

“So you could say your husband is intent on mending your broken family?”

Suzanne nodded. “Yes, we both are.    That’s why we got remarried.”

John paced across the floor and clamped the tip of his eyeglasses between his crooked teeth.  “Tell us about your granddaughter.  How has your relationship been with her?”

The image of Violet’s face turned her somber expression into a smile.  “I’ve loved spending time with her these past few months,” she began.  “She’s an amazing little girl.  She’s bright, she’s curious, she’s just like her mother was at her age.” 

“And when your daughter went to the mental institution, you began watching after Violet every day, didn’t you?” John asked.

“That’s right,” she replied.  “Brett would bring her over to my house every morning and she would stay with me until the evening when he returned.”

“That must have been a burden to you.”

“Not at all,” she replied crossly.  “I loved spending time with her.”

“Forgive me.  I didn’t mean to assume anything.  So your son-in-law, Brett Armstrong, was absent from his daughter’s life for the majority of the last few months?”

“I didn’t say that.  He was working.  A lot of single parents have to rely on childcare.” 

“Mr. Armstrong is a movie studio executive, isn’t he?” John asked.  “That’s quite a demanding career.  I imagine it wouldn’t have been unusual for him to be away for twelve, thirteen hours a day.  Doesn’t leave much time for being a father, does it?”

She looked out at Jordan.  How did he expect her to react?  Was the goal to prove that Brett didn’t care about his daughter?  Even Jordan knew that wasn’t true. 

“The time they spent together was always full of joy,” she finally said.  To hell with Jordan if he didn’t like it.  What he was doing was wrong and she couldn’t let him do it.

John and Jordan exchanged glances.  Jordan looked away and nervously drummed his fingers on the table. 

“During these months that you spent babysitting your granddaughter, did you and Mr. Armstrong grow close?” John asked.

“We became friends,” Suzanne replied, fearing for where he was going next.

“Friends?” John asked.  “Isn’t it true that you and Mr. Armstrong were lovers?”

A tear trickled down her cheek and she looked at Jordan.  Hurt and disillusioned, she saw him with new eyes.  How cruel did he have to be to put her on that stand and humiliate her like this?  All to show that Brett was an unfit parent?  No, it was more than that.  It was a move against her.

“Miss Rogers, were you or were you not having an affair with your son-in-law?”

Suzanne lowered her head and nodded. She wiped away her tears, feeling the looks of disapproval that came from the spectators.  Renee, James, Miranda, everyone. 

She’s the one Brett slept with?” Miranda whispered to her father. 

“I need a yes or a no, Miss Rogers,” John went on. 

“Yes, alright?” she responded.  “We were lovers.” 

Brett placed a hand over his face and shook his head with regret.  He couldn’t believe the lengths Jordan would go to. 

“How many times would you say you and Mr. Armstrong slept together?”

“I don’t know,” she said. 

“Answer the question, please,” the judge ordered.

“Miss Rogers?” John asked.

“I don’t know.  I told you I don’t remember.” 

“Five?  Ten?  Twenty?”

“Several,” she said hastily.  “I don’t know how many times.”

“Has your affair ended?” John asked.

She nodded.  “Yes, the affair ended.” 

“How long ago?”

“When Jordan and I got remarried,” she said.  “I told Brett that it was over.”

“But your husband walked in on you and Mr. Armstrong in bed together not even two weeks ago,” John went on relentlessly.  “So your affair wasn’t over, was it?”

She shook her head adamantly.  “It was just once,” she said.  “It was a weak moment that we both gave in to.  It hasn’t happened since.” 

A few moments of silence followed until John stopped before her and slid his glasses over his nose.  “Was Mr. Armstrong a good lover?”

“Your honor, please,” Kenny objected. 

“I’m only trying to get to the bottom of why you called off the affair,” John went on while holding up a hand in protest.  “Was it because you wanted to make your marriage work?  Or was it because of the guilt over what you and Brett Armstrong were doing to your daughter?  To his wife?  Sleeping with each other behind her back while she’s sitting defenselessly in a mental institution fighting for her sanity?” 

“Stop!” Brett yelled as he shot up in anger.  “That’s enough!”

“Sit down, Mr. Armstrong,” she judge ordered, then turned to John.  “Mr. Berry, would you either make your point or excuse this witness?”

“Your honor, all I’m trying to say is that Mr. Armstrong had no regard for his wife or his daughter while he was sleeping with Miss Rogers.  For months he pushed his daughter off on his mother-in-law, and then cemented the arrangement by starting up a sexual affair with her.  Is this the kind of role model this little girl deserves?”

The room grew silent.  Suzanne, who sobbed on the witness stand, could barely look the others in the eye.  She couldn’t believe how much Jordan had changed as a result of her affair. 

Brooke Taylor

“You look tired,” Kyle said when he arrived at Brooke’s townhouse. 

“I didn’t get much sleep,” she replied, overwhelmed with the urge to fall into his arms when he gave her a quick squeeze and a kiss on the lips.   “Michael’s been acting so strangely.  I woke up in the middle of the night and he was standing over my bed talking to his friend Adam.”

“He’s the one we can’t see, right?” Kyle asked, then realized it wasn’t the time for jokes. 

She only managed a very faint smile as she slipped onto the sofa with a cup of coffee gripped between her fingers.  “I thought it was only a phase, but Miranda said it’s been going on since the first time we went down to Mexico to scout locations.  That’s been months ago.  And the other day when David was here he swore up and down that Adam was the one who broke his new toys that James got him.”

“Maybe he was just acting out after you being gone for a while,” Kyle suggested while placing a comforting arm around her.   “Now that you’re back, I’d give him a few days and see how he’s behaving.  Maybe you should wait a bit before going back to work at Sunset Studios.  Spend some time with him.” 

“I think I will,” she said thoughtfully.  “To be honest, going back hasn’t exactly appealed to me much anyway.  I still can’t forget about what happened in Mexico.  Every time I close my eyes it feels like it’s happening all over again.”

Clenching her hand in his, he nuzzled against her.  “You went through a lot.  It’s going to take time.  And associating yourself with the studio right now probably brings it all home again.”

She closed her eyes and rested against his shoulder.  “I love the way you touch me,” she said.  “It reminds me so much of Ethan.” 

Kyle waited a beat and then quickly rose from the sofa.  “Wait, seriously?”

It only took a second for her to realize her faux pas and quickly go into damage control.   “I didn’t mean it like that,” she said, following him across the room.  “Kyle, I’m sorry.  I’m not comparing you to Ethan, I just-“

“You’re not?” he asked.  “That’s funny.  It sounded like you were.” 

She shook her head adamantly.  “I can’t help but find similarities between you.  You were brothers.”

The remark made him cringe.  Yes, he’d led them all to believe that he and Ethan were brothers.  An elaborate but necessary story he’d concocted while in prison.  But hearing people compare him with someone he had no relation to was perverse and made him pity how gullible they’d been. 

“It’s just that I couldn’t help but be reminded of the way he used to comfort me when I was down or worried about something,” Brooke went on.  “I didn’t mean to compare you.  Please forgive me.” 

He relaxed and nodded belligerently.  “Yeah, of course,” he said. 

Smiling, she pulled him into an embrace and didn’t see the bleak look that had settled into his eyes.

David Jenner

Shirt off and feet dangling over the side of the examination table, David waited for Dr. Farraday to complete his examination.  He’d already sat through another MRI, a CT scan, and complete blood work.  Now they waited for the specialist in San Francisco to deliver his findings based on the latest battery.

The results came a few minutes later, and confirmed what David had feared. 

“Dr. Ford agrees,” Dr. Farraday said after hanging up the phone.  “It would appear that your condition has begun deteriorating.  The headaches, the dizziness, and the disorientation that you’ve been experiencing are affects from the cancer.”  

Silently, David stepped down from the table and took his shirt from the hook on the back of the wall.  “How much time do I have?”

Dr. Farraday sighed and gestured to the images of his brain that lined the wall.  “There’s no easy way to pinpoint what the deterioration means until we-“

“How much time?” David demanded. 

“Six months.  Maybe less.” 

Nodding, he buttoned his shirt and remained silent. 

“But those are just estimates, David,” the doctor went on.  “People live past their expected timeframe more often than you’d think.  If you take it easy, get plenty of rest, and-“

David shot him an incredulous look while grabbing his jacket from the door. 

“The trip to Mexico was probably not good for your health,” Farraday said.  “You were under intense conditions.  That’s a strain on anyone’s body.  And for someone in your condition-“

But David didn’t want to hear it.  What’s done was done.  He knew what he was facing when he learned of his tumor.  But it didn’t mean he had to like it.  Quickly, he turned and started out of the office.

“David, wait-“ Dr. Farraday said when he started after him.  But in a flash, he was gone, disappearing into a crowd of patients and nurses.

James Blackthorne

After Suzanne's testimony, a recess was called while the judge deliberated his decision.  James made his way to his car in the parking lot hoping to grab a quick lunch before the judge returned.  Much to his surprise, Mackenzie Stone was parked beside him in her vintage black convertible Rolls Royce.  A smile immediately lit up his otherwise taut face. 

“I promise I’m not stalking you,” she said with a grin, black hair falling like silk down to the middle of her back.  “I thought you might need a friend.” 

“Hungry?” he asked hopefully.

“Starving.” 

Within minutes, they were ordering sandwiches at a catering truck down the street. 

“I haven’t done this in years,” James said with a smile as he led them to a nearby bench.

“Eaten lunch?” Mackenzie joked as she unwrapped her cucumber and sprouts on whole wheat. 

“Eaten lunch from a catering truck,” he clarified.

“Because it’s beneath you?” she teased.

“No,” James exclaimed with a laugh.  “You know how it is.  Power lunches usually happen at the Beverly Hills Hotel, not a deli truck.  Maybe something about you brings out a different side in me.” 

“Maybe,” she said while attempting to balance everything in her lap.  “It’s new for me too.  Well, not so much new as it is retro.  There was a time I never dreamed I’d be where I am today.”

“Tough childhood?”  He could relate.  His home town of Windsor, Kansas was no Beverly Hills.  Three meals a day was unheard of.  Two a day was a luxury. 

Mackenzie shrugged while picking at her sandwich.  “Who didn’t have a tough childhood?”

“Money problems?” James asked.

She shook her head.  “I wish it was that simple.  No, I just had to work extra hard to make something of myself.  Grew up in foster homes until I graduated high school.  I studied hard and got scholarships to put myself through film school.”

“What happened to your parents?”

She grew somber for an instant, a rarely seen facet of her personality.  “They were killed in a car accident.”

James suddenly felt like he’d pried into territory that she’d rather not talk about.  But since he’d already brought it up, he decided to continue.  He did want to get know her.  She was entrancing. 

“How old were you?” he asked.

“Six,” she told him. 

“I’m so sorry.  You didn’t have any family to take you in?”

She sighed and shook her head.  “No.  It was just me and my brother.  He was only three months old when our parents died.  We were fostered together for a few weeks and he was adopted by a family out east.  I guess there was more of a demand for babies than six year old girls with buck teeth and wiry legs.”

“So you were raised by the system while he got adopted out?  That had to have been hard.  Did you ever see each other again?”

“I tracked him down when I was in college,” Mackenzie explained, careful so as not to reveal that her brother was someone James already knew.  “We kept in contact for a while but I guess I kept my distance because I had so many hard feelings.  Not that it was his fault he got adopted and I didn’t.”

“Yeah, but I can only imagine what that did to your self esteem.”  He genuinely felt for her.  He wondered if anyone else had been privy to this side of Mackenzie Stone before.  Her raw emotions didn’t seem to fit with her reputation. 

And just like that, she pushed the memories aside.  “I think I did fine on my own,” she said with a smile.  “Makes for a stronger will, anyway.” 

“Very true,” he said while looking at her with admiration.

Kyle Fenwick

After the upsetting news about his condition, David did whatever he could to take his mind off of the inevitable.  Renee had asked him to come by sometime and check out the plans for a new restaurant she was planning on opening at Moonshadows.   When he arrived at the administrative offices, however, her assistant Marcia told him that Renee was in court until that afternoon. 

“I’ll come back,” he told her and turned back around.  As he did, Kyle approached.  “What are you doing here?”

“I came to see Renee,” Kyle told him.  “What about you?  I thought you sold your shares of this place.”

“Just doing a favor,” David replied with a shrug.  “She’s not here so whatever it is you’ll have to come back later.”

Kyle wordlessly turned and started through the lobby when David called after him.   Irritated, he turned back. 

“What are you even still doing in town?” David asked him.  “You’ve cleared your name of those murder charges.  Wasn’t that why you came here in the first place?”

“I’m here because Brooke and I have something going,” Kyle said while folding his arms belligerently.  “And I’m not going to leave just because you - for whatever reason - still don’t trust me.  Like you said, my name has been cleared.  My father was the one who blew up that hotel back in New York.” 

David leveled an accusatory glare at him.  “You’re still hiding something.  I know you are.” 

“If you’re talking about what Bryan said up in that hotel room in Acapulco, I already explained that to Brooke.”

“You told her that Don Fenwick bought you on the black market.  Forgive me but that doesn’t seem like something that would constitute all this secrecy between the two of you.  Don Fenwick is dead.  Who would even care now?  Bryan Carlson was too smart to hold something that insignificant over your head.  Which brings me to the question of what is it you’re really hiding?”

He threw his hands up in resignation. “I don’t have to explain anything to you.” 

David stepped closer and issued him a look of warning.  “I know you want something.  Whether it’s got to do with Brooke or the Blackthornes or me, I don’t know, but I promise you I’ll find out what it is.  You won’t be around for long.” 

“Don’t count on it,” Kyle said and turned away.  He made his way outside, wondering if David Jennings was going to be as much of a nuisance as he proclaimed to be.  If so, he had to think of something and fast.

Brett Armstrong

When the hearing was reconvened, Brett made his way into the courtroom, offering nods of appreciation as James and Miranda gave him their last words of encouragement.   Suzanne filtered back inside with Renee at her side, and Jordan and his attorney sat rigidly in the front row. 

Silence filled the room while the judge took his seat.  Slowly, he slid a pair of wire framed glasses over his nose and peered down at the court. 

“I’ve given this case considerable thought during your testimonies and again while in my chambers,” he began.  “While it’s clear that both sides have the child’s best interests at heart, only one parent can be awarded custody in this case.”

Brett swallowed hard.  He couldn’t remember the last time he was as scared about anything in his life.  The idea of losing his daughter was worse than any bad business deal, broken marriage, or jilted love affair.  Violet was his world.  Everything he did was now for her.  He simply couldn’t handle it if he lost her.

“Mr. Rydell is a prominent fixture in the community,” the judge went on.  “He has roots in the city of Los Angeles that date back decades.  Mr. Armstrong, on the other hand, has a known tendency to be a wanderer.  I believe it was by sheer accident that he wound up here and involved with the people that he is now.  His wide array of careers, his relationships, and his stability in the community are rocky at best.”

Jordan let out a deep breath.  Things were obviously going his way.  Soon he would have his granddaughter in his house and would protect her until Heather could come home and resume her motherly duties. 

“In the matter of the relationship between Mr. Armstrong and Miss Rogers, I’m not entirely convinced that either of their actions had or would have any affect on the child at this stage in her young life.  The repercussions of their actions when Mr. and Mrs. Rydell’s daughter returns home will have enough of an impact.  Then it will be up to her to decide if her relationship with her mother or her husband will continue.  My guess is they won’t.” 

Suzanne lowered her head, fully aware that she’d done irreversible damage to her relationship with Heather.  When and if she did come home, she fully expected to be cut out of her life. 

“But above all else, the testimony I’ve heard today has led me to believe that Mr. Armstrong hasn’t exhibited any ill advised parenting choices,” said the judge.  “He obviously cares for his daughter, ensures that she’s cared for when he isn’t around, and has taken steps to ensure she has a viable future.  For those reasons I am awarding full custody of the minor child Violet Armstrong to her father, Brett Armstrong.  Case dismissed.” 

Relieved, Brett rose to his feet and robustly shook Kenny’s hand.    Miranda approached and pulled him into an embrace while James patted him firmly on the back. 

When Jordan approached, the others parted.  “This isn’t over,” he told him.  “You’ll still never see my daughter again after what you’ve done to her.” 

“You can’t keep me from Heather,” Brett told him.  “I’ll file my own suit to get your injunction overturned.”

“Think about it, Jordan,” James began.  “What’s going to happen when Heather comes home?  You can’t stop her from being with her husband.  And she’ll want to be with Violet.” 

Jordan laughed.  “When she finds out what her husband and her mother did behind her back, she’s going to take that little girl and you’ll never see them again.”

“You can’t tell her, Jordan,” Miranda said.  “Not in the state she’s in.  It’ll destroy her.” 

Staring at Brett for a few lingering moments, he turned and made his way up the aisle. 

“Jordan!” Miranda called after him.  “You can’t tell her!  You can’t tell Heather!”

Frustrated, she looked back at Brett.  “Don’t worry.  He wouldn’t do that to his own daughter.”  

Confident that she was right, Brett took a deep breath, invigorated now that the entire ordeal was over.   He wanted nothing more than to go home and spend the rest of his life with his little girl. 

When Jordan emerged from the courtroom, he glared at Suzanne.  “See you at home,” he said. 

With her arms wrapped around herself, she looked instantly away.  Home was something she hated to think about.  Their marriage was now even more strained than ever. 

Sierra Merteuil

“Why do you have to go?” Sierra asked as she walked to the door of the penthouse with Hunt Roberts.  “My mom will be home soon.  We can all get dinner together.”

“I just have some people to go see,” he said and took her hands in his.  “It won’t take long.”

“Okay,” she said and smiled when he kissed her.  “Promise me you’ll hurry.”

“Promise me you’ll tell your mother that you’re not going back to school,” Hunt replied with a knowing smile.  “You can’t keep putting it off.”

She took a deep breath and nodded.   “I will.” 

“See you in a little while.” 

The door opened and he darted down the hall to the elevator.  After the coast was clear, Benji emerged from the shadows, cloaked in an enclave in the wall until he was sure Sierra was alone.  With a firm hand, he knocked on the door.

“Miss me already?” Sierra asked as she appeared in the doorway with the expectation that it was Hunt.

“Hi,” Benji said from the hall. 

“Benji” she exclaimed with surprise.  “Hi.” 

“Can I come in?”

“Of course,” she said, pulling him inside.  “I’ve been meaning to call and tell you I was in town.  I’m so happy to see you.”

“Are you really?” he asked as he stood in the entry. 

“Yes.”  She pulled him into an embrace.  “How did you know I was back in town?”

"Saw you this morning having brunch,” he explained.

She blinked a few times and went to pour them each a glass of sparkling water.  “You did?  I didn’t see you.  Why didn’t you say anything?”

“You were with Hunt Roberts.  I didn’t want to interrupt anything.” 

“You wouldn’t have been.”  She handed him a glass.  A few moments of awkward silence followed while she tried to decide what to say next.  She knew what was on his mind so she decided not to beat around the bush.  “Look, about last summer.  I know I left in a hurry and I didn’t give you much of an explanation…”

“You were hurt,” he said, his eyes burning into hers.  Even though it had been months since they’d seen each other, he still felt as close to her as ever.  “Because of that business with Malcolm, I mean.” 

“But you were so sweet,” she said and led him to the sofa by the hand.  “The way you held me that night on the beach in front of the fire.”  She looked down at her glass and ran her finger along the rim.  “I’ve never forgotten that night.  Never.”

Forgotten it?  He lived it every day.  Countless times he’d gone back to Paradise Cove and sat in the spot where they’d made love, imagining that she was there with him again.  He refused to believe that it meant more to him than it did to her. 

“I thought I would have heard from you,” he said.  “I mean, I texted you, I called...” 

“And I said I needed time, and you gave it to me.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  No one’s been there for me the way you have.” 

Resentment started to build and he quickly rose from the sofa.  “You said you needed time, but for what?  I mean, you were hurt because of Malcolm and then you went back to New York and hooked up with this Hunt Roberts guy.” 

“I wasn’t really expecting to meet anyone,” she said.  “It just sort of happened.”

“Kind of like you and me just happened on the beach?” he asked sullenly. 

“It’s not like that,” she said and followed him across the room.

“So you haven’t had sex with him?” Benji asked as he turned to face her.

She grew silent for a minute.  She could see his dark side coming out.  It always did, and it always hurt her.   “That’s none of your business.” 

“You should stay away from him, Sierra.  He’s bad news.”

“He is not.” 

“He’s a drug user.”

“That’s not true.”  She turned and walked across the room. “You’re making that up just to hurt me.” 

“I know people who sell to him,” Benji insisted, tearing after her. 

“Like Duke Summerfield?” she asked wryly.  “No offense, but from what I hear he isn’t exactly a stand up guy himself.  I used to think you were.” 

“I’m not perfect but I’m not a drug user,” he snapped and pulled her toward him.  “What are you doing with a guy like him anyway?  What does he do for you?”

“I think you should leave,” Sierra said and backed away from him.  “I mean it.  I don’t want to hear this.” 

“Sierra, do you have any idea how long I’ve waited to see you again?” he asked.  “You’re right, I gave you space.  But now you’re here.  Talk to me.  Please.” 

She walked to the door and jerked it open. 

Realizing he’d pushed the wrong buttons by telling her about Hunt, he decided to leave her for the time being.  “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said.

She looked away, slamming the door after he’d left.  In the hall, Benji walked to the elevator all the while thinking about Hunt Roberts and how he was going to expose him to Sierra.

Jordan

When Jordan got home it was late.  He’d stopped at the Yacht Club and had a drink, which turned into several.  When he entered the house he found Suzanne again in the drawing room perched at the window with a drink in her hand.

“This is becoming a habit,” he said. 

The glass dangling in her hand, she turned to him.  “That was humiliating,” she said.

He pushed himself away from the doorframe and folded his arms.  “That’s a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“You said you weren’t going to bring up my affair with Brett in court,” she said and walked toward him.  “You’d sooner see me ridiculed in front of our peers than accept that you were wrong?”

“It was necessary,” he said.  “John didn’t think we had a choice in the matter.”

“Didn’t have a choice?” she asked.  “You showed no regard for me or our family.  And for what?  The judge still ruled against you.” 

“The judge made a bad call.” 

She moved closer still, wiping her tear-stained cheeks.  “Admit that you did this because of your own jealous pride.  You couldn’t stand that I was with another man.  And not just any man, but Brett.  You sued for custody to punish him.  Well what about me?  I’ve been here all this time waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When do I get my punishment, Jordan?  Or was that the idea when you had John call me to the stand today?  Humiliation was my punishment, wasn’t it?  That was always the plan, wasn’t it?  You knew the judge would rule against you but you couldn’t resist embarrassing me before it happened.” 

He looked away.  “You couldn’t have been as humiliated as I was walking in on you and Brett that day.” 

She shook her head in agony.   “Just say it,” she said.  “Stop playing games and just say what you mean.“

"Don't do this," he said.  "It's all just a little bit familiar, don' t you think?  Only this time do me a favor and don't go see a shrink.  The last time you did that look what happened."

"You're a bastard," she said miserably.

“Our marriage is over,” he said abruptly and then left.

Standing in the moonlit room, Suzanne brought the glass to her lips, paused, and then threw it across the room.

Benji Rydell

Glass breaking and the sound of silent whimpering were the first things Benji heard when he crept through the back door in the kitchen.  More fighting between his parents, he realized.  Court must not have gone well.  After finding a package addressed to him on the table, he received an anonymous text telling him to go to the pool house. It only took a minute for him to comply.  Anything was better than listening to them argue. 

He crept back outside through the kitchen door and walked down the path to the pool house.  Rippling shadows from the pool danced across the structure as he entered the moon-lit room to find Summer perched pathetically on the edge of the bed.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, placing the package on a table. 

“I was just feeling so bad,” she said and rose to her feet.  “You know, because of my mom and stuff.  Plus I can’t handle how rude Duke is to me sometimes.  He’s always so rude.  I can’t take it.” 

“So why come here?” Benji asked.  “Where’s Blake?  He’s your boyfriend.”

“Yeah, but he doesn’t understand.  You and Duke are friends.  You know how horrible he can be.” 

Benji sighed, in no mood for her whining.  All he could think about was Sierra and how he was going to get her away from Hunt Roberts.  “Well, you sort of did cheat on him.  Twice.” 

“You think he never cheated on me when we were together?” Summer asked and walked toward him until they were inches apart.  “Besides, he got me back by putting that video on my mom’s website.”

“So what do you want me to do about it?” Benji asked, aroused by the close proximity of their bodies even though she was the furthest thing on his mind.  “Like I said, go cry to Blake.”

She looked into his deep brown eyes and placed her hands on his arms.  “Can’t I stay here for a while?  Benji, you’re so strong and you’re so caring.  You showed me that time you came to my house to tell me about my mother.  I just want to be with you.  Just for tonight.” 

Before he knew it, her lips were on his.  The frustration and the anger over his confrontation with Sierra got the better of him and he ushered Summer to the bed in a rage. He devoured her hungrily, wanting nothing more than to put Sierra out of his mind for the night. 

Images of her face, however, flashed through his mind and he realized what a hypocrite he was.  He wanted Sierra, not Summer.  Quickly, he jumped to his feet and buttoned his shirt. 

“What’s wrong?” Summer asked.  “Why did you stop?”

“Get out,” he said in bated breath. 

“What?” she asked in confusion.  “I thought-“

“Get the fuck out!” he yelled and pointed to the door. 

Hurriedly, she grabbed her shoes and purse and did as he asked.  After she’d gone, Benji sat down on the bed and held his head in his hands.  His eyes traveled to the table where he’d set the package.  When he realized it was from Holt Publishing, he tore it open in a hurry.  Inside were the galleys for Valley of Temptation.  In the excitement over the past day, he’d nearly forgotten about his mother’s book.  It seemed unimportant at the moment in light of Sierra’s return.  Distraught, he tossed it onto the ground and laid back against the bed with his head in his hands.

Moonshadows

Renee called to let Sierra know she was running late due to some problems at Moonshadows.  While she waited for her and Hunt to return, she decided to take a quick shower.  After toweling off and wrapping herself in a fluffy bath robe, she went to the bed and pulled a small wooden jewelry box from beneath it.  Perched on the edge of the bed, she opened the box and removed a small mirror, a razor blade, and a small bag of white powder. 

Emptying the contents of the bag onto the mirror, she formed it into four neat piles and snorted two up each nostril with a straw.  She closed her eyes and titled her head back as she waited for the sensation to overtake her.  Behind her, the bedroom door opened and she quickly began to stash the evidence.

“Miss me?” Hunt asked as he approached the bed. 

“You scared me,” she said with a chuckle. “I thought you were my mother.” 

“Sorry,” Hunt said and kissed her on the cheek.  “Hey, you started without me?”

“It’s been a long day,” she said with a groan while thinking about her disturbing argument with Benji. 

“No worries,” he said and produced another bag of cocaine.  “I got more.  I told you my guy has the hookup.” 

She smiled, watching eagerly as he began cutting four more lines.

 


Next time....

Summer searches for an ally who will help her land Benji.  Alarmed by Sierra's problem, Benji begs her to go away with him.  Duke learns who gave Summer chlamydia.  Miranda tells David and Eddie about the baby, but only one stands by her side.

 

 

Read Episode 125

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