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Episode 125

 

Release Date:  October 17, 2010

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Jane told Alex about Jordan's visit to her apartment, prompting Alex to warn her against talking to anyone about R.J. or the adoption.  Later, Alex grew nervous when Stormy came by and asked to hold R.J., fearing that he would instinctively know he was his son.  Miranda felt a connection to Jane due to her own pregnancy.  Stormy met Jane in the parking lot of Alex's apartment building and grew drawn to her.  When she dismissed his advances, he left a note on her car.  Jordan used Violet's custody hearing to force Suzanne to give a detailed account of her affair with Brett.  Later, a tearful Suzanne blasted Jordan for his hateful behavior.  Jordan responded by telling her their marriage was over.  The judge gave Brett full custody of Violet.  Benji received the galley proofs of Valley of Temptation, the book Suzanne had written about her affair with Brett.  After learning that Sierra was back in town, Benji paid her a visit whereby he told her about Hunt's drug usage. Sierra angrily turned him away.  Later, Sierra did cocaine with Hunt.  Summer grew jealous when she learned of Benji's feelings for Sierra.  She asked him to meet him in the pool house where she seduced him.  Benji began to comply but then pulled away when he thought about Sierra.  

 


  

Episode 125

"Lovegame"

 

The moon hung low in the sky and cast shadows through the windows of the pool house where Benji pawed at her blouse, his tongue darting in and out of her mouth.   Summer pulled him closer, her hands hooked around his neck.  As she’d predicted, seducing him had been easy.  Gauging his mood swings was not.  In a flash, he was jumping off of the bed and buttoning his shirt, a pained expression on his face. 

“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 headed for the door in an attempt at staving off any further humiliation.  In her haste to leave, her blouse became snagged in the doorway.  A quick tug released it, tearing the fabric in the process.  She didn’t care.  She just wanted to leave before the embarrassing situation got any worse.

She ran through the night, her bare feet bounding across the dew-covered grass until she got to her car and drove blindly for twenty minutes.  By the time she calmed down, she was outside of Duke’s family’s palatial estate high up in the hills.  Tentatively, she rang the bell and resisted the urge to cry when he came to the door. 

“Melodramatic as usual,” he said as he led her into the ornately decorated parlor room.  He was dressed in black trousers and a Burberry shirt that was unbuttoned, revealing a tight body and a faint trail of hair peeking just above his waistband.

“I didn’t know where else to go,” she said and threw her purse onto the sofa.  “I was just with Benji.”

“Whatever personal drama's you're facing this week, Summer, take them somewhere else,” he began with a wry expression as he poured himself a glass of bourbon. 

“Would you for once just be a decent human being?” she asked.  “I came here because we used to mean something to each other.  I thought you’d help me.  I guess I was wrong.”

Duke rolled his eyes.  “Why would I help you?”

“I want Benji,” she said with as much conviction as she could muster.

He shrugged and dug his hands into his pockets.  “So what do you need my help for?  You said you just came from his house.  I assume he fucked you.” 

“No, he stopped it from happening.  I know it’s because of that Sierra girl.  Why are you trying to help him get her?  Can’t you see how all wrong she is for him?”

“Well, her mother is a douche bag, I will give you that.  She’s badmouthed me up a storm since I came to town.  And she certainly has no love lost for Benji, that’s for sure.” 

“So help me,” Summer insisted.

He regarded her carefully.  “If I help you, what do I get in return?”

“What do you want?” she asked with a cringe.  She was almost afraid to ask.

He considered her request for a moment before continuing.  “Help me destroy Jeff Branigan.  He’s been fucking with me for years and I’m done playing his games.  By the time I’m through with him, he’ll be finished in this town.” 

“What do I have to do?”

“I’ll tell you when the time is right.  But if you help me, I’ll help you land Benji.” 

She circled the room, running her hand along the back of the cognac leather sofa.  “There’s something you should know first,” she began.  “I should have told you a long time ago.” 

“What?”

“It wasn’t Jeff who gave me Chlamydia last summer,” she began.

“I saw the video of you swallowing his donkey dick, Summer.  If you’re trying to protect him for whatever reason-“

“No, I’m not trying to protect him.  What you saw in the video was true, but it wasn’t him that I got it from.  It was Benji.”

“Benji?” Duke asked incredulously.

She nodded.  “We hooked up before that.  He came into Area and we started talking.  Next thing I know we were on the hood of his car in the back alley.  I didn’t mean for it to happen, and you and I were fighting because you were still in New York.”

“That little shit,” Duke said in disbelief. 

“You can’t be mad at him,” Summer said.  “He didn’t know we were dating.  He was going through some stuff.”

“What else is new?” he murmured.

“Duke, promise me you won’t hurt him.  Benji is your friend.  He wouldn’t do anything to deliberately cross you.  Promise me that you’ll still help me.” 

He nodded, his mind a whirlwind of thoughts.  “Of course.”   When his eyes landed back on her, he noticed the tear in the blouse.  “What happened?”

She looked down and shook her head dismissively.  “I was in such a hurry to get out of there.  I got caught on the door.”

Pacing the room in deep concentration, Duke suddenly had an idea.  “How much do you know about Sierra Merteuil?”

“Enough to know she’s all wrong for Benji.” 

He smiled.  “Her father is Nathan Blackthorne, the child molester.  I hear he actually tried to force himself on her once.”

“Sicko,” Summer said with a grimace. 

“Imagine how devastated poor Sierra would be if she learned that Benji got caught up in the moment with you, you resisted, and he tried forcing himself on you, thus ripping your blouse and sending you over here in a fit of tears.”  

Summer looked at him with wide eyes.  “That didn’t happen.” 

He shrugged.  “The suggestion would put a wrench in any plans Benji has of reuniting with her.  She would look at him as a monster.  So when her relationship with Hunt Roberts goes kaput – and it will – she’ll have no one to turn to.” 

“And I’ll be there to comfort Benji,” she said with a smile.  “But wait, if I falsely accuse him of attempted rape, he’ll hate me.”

Duke dismissed her concerns with a wave of his hand.  “There are plenty of ways to protect yourself if that happens.  Trust me.  If you want to eliminate any chance of Benji and Sierra getting together, this is our golden ticket.” 

“I don’t want anything to happen to him,” she said firmly.  “What if he winds up in jail?”

“You’re not going to go to the police,” he told her.  “You’re simply going to tell someone who tells someone else and eventually it will get back to Sierra.”

She chewed on her lip.  “If you’re sure it could work…”

“I’m sure,” he said with a grin as he took a sip of his drink.  “Benji’s a loose cannon with tendencies to take his aggressions out on the nearest thing to him.  Sierra will have no problem believing it.” 

Benji Rydell

From the bluff overlooking Paradise Cove, the bonfires that burned on the beach resembled tiny candles dotting the sand.   Standing on the rocky stretch of ground jutting out from the road, Benji found himself entranced by the light.  He left his car and began the short hike down to the beach, grey hooded sweatshirt pulled up over his head.  For a few minutes he trudged through the sand by the rocks, ignoring the groups of people gathered at the small campfires.  He made his way to the spot where he and Sierra had consummated their relationship and stood angrily while thinking about their argument earlier that night. 

He went back there frequently.  At least five times over the summer.  He’d sit in the sand and stare out at the waves and up at the moon.  He hated himself for being so angsty about a girl.  Girls had been easy to get for as long as he could remember.  There had been a line of them at the door of his dorm room at school.  He’d been the one to turn them away, to tell them they were just a plaything, not the other way around.  Maybe that’s what it was about Sierra.  She wasn’t like the others.  And she knew what it was like to have led a privileged life but abandoned by her parents.  She’d given him her virginity.  She’d cried a little and said it hurt which only made him grow harder, and yet more gentle with her. 

Then she left for months, and when she came back she had someone else.  

“Hey man, you got a cigarette?” asked a homeless man with straggly hair and an unkempt beard, dressed in a dirty old army jacket and tattered jeans. 

Tucked beneath the hood of his sweatshirt, Benji shook his head in reply. 

“I said you got a cigarette?” the man repeated, his speech slurred. 

"I said no.” 

“Damn kid, answer a simple question,” murmuered the bum as he slowly passed. 

“Fuck off,” Benji grumbled.  The homeless were frequent inhabitors of the beaches in L.A.  Usually they left you alone, but time and time again he’d be stopped and asked for money or cigarettes.  Even the politest reply usually earned him hostility on their part. 

“Don’t tell me to fuck off, you little punk,” the man said, teetering back and forth on his feet.  “All I want is one damn cigarette.  Well fuck you.”

“There’s a gas station three blocks down the road,” Benji said while pointing up the hill.  “How about you go buy yourself some fucking cigarettes?” 

“You’re a smart ass.”

“Get out of here,” Benji said and turned away with disgust.  He was in no mood for a confrontation.  First his blowup with Sierra and now this.  He felt his temper rising. 

“Hey!” the man yelled and pulled belligerently at his arm.  “Fuck yyy..”

Finally at his breaking point, Benji turned and pushed the man away.  He went at him mercilessly, raising his fist and sending it shattering over and over into his face until he was on his back on the sand.   From a campfire a hundred yards away, several people heard the commotion and got up to see what was happening. 

Standing above the man, Benji kicked him in the ribs.  The man rolled over onto his side, coughing up blood and crying out for help.  He kicked him again, sand flying into the air and matting over the thick pool of blood from his nose.  When the people down the beach began approaching faster, he turned and ran in the opposite direction and didn’t stop until he reached a path that led up to the bluff. 

Once he reached his car a half mile down the road, he was out of breath and felt sick.  He climbed inside and pulled the hood from his head.  Angrily, he slammed his fist against the steering wheel and jumped when it sounded the horn.  His hands trembled and were bruised from the violent attack on the man. 

After catching his breath, he started the engine and carefully pulled out onto the road.  It wasn’t his fault.  The man provoked him.  And in his already irritable state of mind, the guy should have known better.

Renee DeWitt

Renee awoke the next morning to a welcome surprise.  A tray of wheat toast, egg whites, orange juice, coffee, and a single red rose in a crystal vase.  Kenny stood beside the bed in his robe, gently prying her awake with tender kisses on the lips. 

“Good morning, beautiful,” he said when she opened her expressive brown eyes. 

“Good morning,” she said with a yawn as she slid upright.

“I brought all of your favorites,” Kenny said, sliding the tray toward her and then positioning himself at her side.

“You remembered.”  Hungrily, she stuffed a forkful of eggs into her mouth.  “How sweet.”

“We were married for ten years, remember?” he asked.  “I’m not one of those husbands who doesn’t pay attention.” 

“I know you’re not.” 

“Like the way I noticed you’re wearing the engagement ring I gave you,” he said with a sly grin.  “That must mean you haven’t decided not to marry me.  I mean, it’s been two days since I popped the question.  I was kind of hoping for an answer.”

She smiled and wiped her mouth with a cloth napkin.  “Kenny, I’m sorry for neglecting you these past few days,” she said.  “It’s just been such a whirlwind lately with Sierra coming home for a visit and all these fires I’ve been having to put out at Moonshadows.  I haven’t forgotten, I promise.”

“But do you have an answer for me?” he asked.  “Renee, I’m a patient man, but I need to know where we stand.  I love you and I want to prove it to you.” 

She held her hand out before her and admired the dazzling Tiffany engagement ring.  How could she say no to him?  Whether he just knew all the right things to say, or he really was a changed man, she didn’t know.  The only way to find out was to try, and she did want to. 

“Yes,” she said with a smile.

“Yes?”

“Yes!  I will marry you!”

Elated, Kenny pushed the breakfast tray aside and scooped her into an embrace.  “You have made me the happiest man in the world,” he said, smothering her with kisses.  “I hope you know that.”

“You’ve made me the happiest woman in the world,” she said, bursting with excitement.  In a flash, she threw the covers off of her and slid to the side of the bed. 

“Where are you going?  We have to celebrate.” 

“I know, darling, but I can’t wait to tell Sierra.  She’s going to be so excited!” 

Before he could stop her, she was pulling on her robe and flying down the hallway to the stairs.  Descending to the first floor of her penthouse suite, she called out to her daughter.

“Sierra!” she called, rapping at her bedroom door.  “Baby, are you up?  I have wonderful news.”

A few moments later the bedroom door opened and Sierra appeared, her eyes fatigued and her movements listless.  “Mom, I was still asleep.  What’s going on?”

“There’s going to be a wedding,” Renee said, grinning as Kenny joined her at her side.  “And you have to make sure you’re back in town so you can be my maid of honor.” 

“Wedding?” she asked.  It took her a few moments to register.  She couldn’t remember what time she’d finally gone to sleep but it couldn’t have been more than three hours ago.  By the time Hunt went down to his room, they were both very high.

“I accepted Kenny’s proposal.” 

“That’s wonderful,” Sierra said, forcing herself to sound excited.  She genuinely was, but her state of mind made it nearly impossible to show it.  She went in and gave them each a hug.  “I’m so happy for you both.”

Taking her daughter’s hand and leading her to the sofa, she grinned from ear to ear.  “There’s so much to do I don’t know where to start,” she began.  “Baby, when do you have to go back to school?  I’d love for you to help me make some plans.  Tell me you can stay for a few more days.” 

“Yeah,” she said, running her fingers through her hair.  She still hadn’t told her that she wasn’t going back to school.  That she couldn’t go back.  “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Kenny poured a cup of coffee and watched them with amusement.  “I predict a lot of bridal magazines coming into the picture,” he said.  “You better know what you’re getting into, Sierra.” 

“Oh my Lord, how am I going to do it all?” Renee said with a gasp.  “Thank goodness I’m looking at hiring a manager for Moonshadows.  Planning a wedding is a full time job, and now that I’m back at the helm of Merteuil Industries...I couldn’t possibly do everything.”

Holding her head in her hands, Sierra willed herself to sober up enough to show some excitement for her mother.  She’d need to if she was going to give her the bad news that she’d been kicked out of school. 

Alex Reynolds

“Satisfied?” Alex asked as she glared at Jordan across the room.

“That R.J. is healthy?  Yes,” he replied, arms folded rigidly.

They were in Dr. Farraday’s office.  Alex was holding R.J. while Jordan and Miranda looked on. 

“Then why don’t you look like it?” Alex demanded.  “I got him a full checkup and he’s absolutely fine.  Can you please stop interrogating me at every turn now?”

He sighed with exasperation.  “I only-“

“Need I remind you that we are no longer married?” Alex continued, her voice full of hostility.  “You have no right to make demands of me.  What I do is my business, Jordan.  That means leave me alone and leave R.J. alone.” 

“I just have questions about his mother,” he said.  “I care about what happens to you, Alex.  I don’t want to see you turning to pills again if anything should go wrong.”

“Do you know what I think?” she snapped.  “I think you’re projecting your own pathetic life onto me.  You couldn’t get custody of your granddaughter so you’re trying to use R.J. as something else to focus on.  Well find another outlet for your anger because I don’t need it.” 

Miranda realized she was doing no good in the room so she quietly ducked out into the hallway where Jane was anxiously pacing with a cup of coffee clamped between her fingers. 

“R.J.’s is fine,” she told her.  “Just as we knew he would be.” 

Jane nodded dismissively and continued her manic pace. 

“Are you okay?”

“What is it with that guy?” Jane asked.  “I mean, why does he care if I give my baby to Alex?”

Miranda took a deep breath.  “Jordan is just being….Jordan.  Trust me, he’ll let it go eventually.  I really think he’s just very protective of my mother.  They’ve been through a lot together.” 

“I’m not a bad person,” Jane said defensively.

“Hey, I know that.”  Miranda put a comforting hand on her shoulder.  “It’ll be okay, I promise.  Do you want to go somewhere and talk?  We can go get some real coffee.”

When the office door opened, Jane’s eyes locked on to Jordan’s.  A few seconds of intense stares brought her attention back to Miranda.  “Yeah, let’s go.  I need to get out of here.” 

Miranda placed a hand on her mother’s and smiled.  “I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

She nodded, cradling R.J. in her arms.  She hoped that Jane was able to hold it together a little while longer.  Kenny was supposed to have the final adoption papers ready the next morning and after that the whole ordeal would be over. 

Benji Rydell

Benji rolled out of bed a little after ten.  His television was still on from the night before and the first thing he heard was a news anchor talking about a homeless man who’d been beaten and taken to USC for treatment.  It was then he realized the night before hadn’t been a bad dream.  His upsetting conversation with Sierra, the incident with Summer in the pool house, and the run-in with the bum on the beach had all really went down.  He looked down at his hands and saw the proof in the form of bruises on his knuckles. 

Determined to forge on with his plan to talk some sense in Sierra, he threw on some clothes and went downstairs.  His mother was in the drawing room when he appeared in the doorway.  Slowly, he turned to walk away.

“Benji, wait a minute,” Suzanne said and approached him swiftly.  “I need to talk to you.  It’s very important.”

“I seriously doubt that,” he said with a snarl as he turned back toward her.  “What is it this time?  You found someone even younger than Brett to cheat on dad with?”

She took a deep breath and tried to let the comment slide.  She knew he was angry so she wouldn’t hold him to his distasteful remarks.  “Your father and I are getting a divorce,” she announced.  “I’ll be moving out soon and I want you to come with me.”  

“Are you for real?” he asked.  “Your’re getting divorced already?” 

She looked away with humiliation.  “Things….didn’t work out the way we planned.” 

“Things didn’t work out because you fucked Heather's huband,” he said.  “What is wrong with you two?  First Dad has an affair with Blake’s mom and now you and Brett?  What the hell were these past few weeks about?  Did you ever even love each other?”

“Yes, of course we did,” she said, raking her fingers through her hair.  She was tired.  Tired of the arguments and tired of trying.  “The house in Sherman Oaks is still available.  I’ll have our things moved there on Monday.”

He shook his head with an incredulous look.  “I’m not going anywhere with you,” he said and started back to the stairs.

“Benji!” Suzanne called after him, but it was useless.  He was tearing up the stairs with usual brute force.

In his room, Benji went to the desk, opened the bottom drawer, and removed the galleys for Valley of Temptation.  He looked at the cover the editor had proposed – a glossy relief printing of a Fabio-type character holding a petite woman from behind.  In the background was a suburban house with a sparkling pool.  He groaned, finding the whole thing cliché in the biggest sense of the word.  Still, it was effective enough.  A typical romance novel.  This one, however, just happened to be based on his mother’s life. 

Lifting his cell phone from the desk, he speed dialed Thomas Manzer from Holt Publishing. 

“It’s Benji Rydell,” he said.  “Yeah, the book looks great.  My mother gave it the go ahead.  Print them.” 

Summer Solomon

Summer awoke to warm sunlight streaming into the bedroom and Blake hovering over her in his underwear.  She pulled away instinctively while attempting to roll out from under him.  She felt his erection on her thigh and immediately knew what he had on his mind. 

“I don’t feel very well,” she said, turning away when he tried to kiss her. 

“Oh,” Blake said.  “Can I get you anything?”

She shook her head, reaching for her cell phone when it vibrated on the nightstand.  It was a text message from Duke telling her to get over to his house as soon as possible. 

“I just need to shower,” she said and twisted off of the bed. 

“Where’d you go last night?” Blake asked.  “I waited up for you.” 

“I was…at Benji’s,” she said.

Frowning, Blake repositioned himself on the bed.  He was horny but knew better than to push it with Summer.  She was moody as hell and rarely in the mood for sex.  And while he didn’t compare to Benji or Jeff Branigan in the endowment department, he still felt as though he was good at it.  Her standoffish behavior often concerned him, especially when she admitted to being with Benji the night before.

“Why were you at Benji’s?” he asked.

“I was upset about my mom,” she called from the bathroom.  “I’m sorry I didn’t call you and tell you where I was.” 

Before she knew it, he was standing behind her.  “If you were upset about your mom, why didn’t you come home and talk to me?  I thought we were together.”

“We are,” she said and held her hair back while spitting toothpaste into the sink. 

“Then why can’t you talk to me about stuff like this?  Why did you have to go see Benji?”

“I’m sorry.  You’re right.  I keep forgetting that your dad died too.  Next time I will, I promise.”  

“Did you have sex?” he asked.  “Just tell me right now.  I mean, I didn’t ask you to stay with me at my brother’s place so you could stay out all night with Benji.”

“What?” she asked. “Why would you ask me that?”

“Because I…”  He stopped himself, unsure if he wanted to show the jealousy card so soon in their relationship.  He’d never been good with girls and this was a common mistake.  “Look, I know you had a thing with him before we hooked up.  If you want him just tell me so-“

“I don’t,” she cut him off, unwilling to give up the convenience of having Blake around.  Not yet, anyway.  He could still be useful to her.  “Look, I’m sorry.  I was just freaked out last night."

“Fine,” he said with a roll of his eyes.  He went back and sat down on the bed, a pout forming on his face. 

“Look, don’t be mad,” Summer said and started toward him.  She could see him growing distant so she quickly went to remedy the situation.  Sinking to her knees before him, she began massing him through his blue Diesel underwear.  “I didn’t think it would bother you.  I thought we were all friends.” 

His sour mood relaxed as she worked him back into a state of arousal.  Summer had the magic touch and knew exactly how to appease him.  He threw his head back and moaned with pleasure when she lowered the waistband of his briefs and closed her mouth around him. 

Stormy Blackthorne

“What do you mean you already sent it out?” Stormy demanded as he stood in Brett’s office at Sunset Studios.

“Exactly what it sounded like,” Brett shot back.  He was shuffling papers on his desk in Jackie’s old office, sleeves on a royal blue shirt rolled up to his elbows.  “We’re under a time crunch here.  If that press release hadn’t gone out yesterday then we’d still be fielding questions from the media about House of Palms.”

“You should have let me-“

“Every day we waited caused more speculation from our competitors,” Brett cut him off.  “So while you were playing X-Box at home I was actually doing something to clean this mess up.” 

“You should have let me see the press release before you sent it out,” Stormy said.  He knew what Brett was doing.  Trying to make him look bad.  It was the same story as the last time they worked together.  Well this time he wasn’t about to let him sabotage his place in the studio.  He was a Blackthorne after all, Brett was not.

“Because you’re so savvy at public relations?” Brett chortled.  “I did PR for a congressman.  I think I know what I’m doing.” 

“And we all know where that little gig got us,” Stormy snarled.  “Because of you, Heather and my mother were kidnapped by that madman and nearly killed.  So forgive me if I don’t have great respect for your skills in PR.  At the very least you should have told my father what you were doing.”

James approved the press release,” Brett told him with a certain amount of satisfaction.  “He signed off on it.  If you’d have been here you could have reviewed it as well.  As it was, you were home recuperating.”

Realizing he didn’t have much of a leg to stand on, Stormy grabbed the copy of the press release from him.  He skimmed the document and shot him a penetrating stare.  “You have got to be kidding me.  Sunset Studios regrets that further exploration of the intended location shoot did not occur prior to the selection.  You know damn well I chose the location.  You’re basically pinning the whole thing on me.”

“I said Sunset Studios.  I didn’t name names.”

“You gave my name three lines before that,” Stormy argued, then read from the document again.  Conditions appeared stable at the time of the initial location scout, according to junior executive Ryan Blackthorne.  Did you just make that up to suit your needs?”

“Stop acting like I was the one who screwed up,” Brett said and walked out from behind his desk.  “In case you forgot, I saved your ass from those people.  What difference does who said what make right now?  The important thing is that we clean this up so we can resume normal operations.  So do you want to stand there arguing like a little bitch or are you going to dig in and starting helping?”

Furious, Stormy drew his fist back and punched him in the jaw.  Brett stumbled back and crashed into the credenza.  Stunned for a few seconds, he placed his hand instinctively on his mouth and realized he was bleeding.  In a flash, he was on his feet retaliating with a shattering blow to the eye.  Stormy flew back against the wall, causing a photograph to crash to the floor.  Blood immediately swelled to the area around his eye, leaving a red welt where he’d been hit.   He went at Brett again, punching him in the stomach and kicking him to the floor.  Before he could step away, Brett snaked his hands around his feet and pulled him to the ground.

Within seconds, they were wrestling on the floor of the office, knocking into furniture and leaving a trail of destruction in their path.  James entered after hearing the commotion and quickly went to intervene. 

“What the devil is going on?” he demanded as he pulled them apart. 

Gasping for breath, they each glared heatedly at one another, bloodied and bruised from the grapple. 

“Answer me,” James said.  “What are the two of your tearing each other up about?”

“He took the first punch,” Brett claimed, wiping blood from his mouth. 

“He was antagonizing me,” Stormy maintained.  “Dad, he-“

“That’s enough,” James said firmly.  “I know the two of you have had your differences over the years, but this has got to stop.  I cannot run this place alone, and with Jackie gone and Brooke taking a leave of absence, you’re the only ones I have to turn to.  If you can’t make this work then I’ll have to find someone else to run the place.  Is that understood?”

They both nodded grudgingly. 

“Good.  Now clean this place up.  We have a staff meeting in ten minutes.” 

He left and silence filled the room.  Death stares from Stormy and Brett lingered as they quickly went to putting the office back together.

Benji Rydell

Benji decided that the easiest way to do something about Sierra and Hunt was to turn the world against them, and that world began and ended with Renee DeWitt.  He couldn’t go directly to her with his concerns, of course, because she couldn’t stand him.  His parents had filled her in on one too many of his misdeeds for her to look the other way where he was concerned.  The fact that she could be a problem when he finally got together with Sierra didn’t immediately spark concern.  He had a way of dealing with adults.  They all eventually loved him.  This was proven when he bought a bouquet of cheap flowers, forged a tacky card, and went downtown to the Wells Inc. headquarters where he was granted admittance to see Marilee Wells-Walker.

“Your dad must be proud that you went out and got yourself a job all on your own,” Marilee was saying as she gushed over the flowers that now sat on her desk.  “I mean, floral delivery is an honest profession.  We all have to start somewhere, don’t we?”

“True,” Benji said, finding her exceptionally irritating.  But she had been close to Renee and Kenny DeWitt for eternity, so if anyone was going to start the chain of events into motion, it might as well be her. 

“I wonder who they’re from,” Marilee went on while inspecting the flowers as if they were hiding some secret.  “The card just says love Richard.  That could be anyone.  I know literally dozens of Richards.”

Perched on the edge of the desk, Benji leaned in and spoke in a quiet voice.  “I’m not supposed to say anything because of the confidential nature of our work, but I happen to know the flowers are from Richard Roberts.  I saw his name on the credit card statement back at the shop.”

“Richard Rober….” Marilee began with shock, her head darting back and forth between Benji and the flowers.  “Oh my Lord.  Has he and Amy split up?  I just can’t believe it.”

“I don’t know,” Benji said with mild amusement. 

“Well, Amy Roberts has been a close friend of mine for longer than I can remember.  I couldn’t think of accepting these flowers from her husband.  What a pig.  What kind of a man does he-“

“Their son Hunt is in town,”  Benji interrupted.  He was satisfied that his roundabout method of bringing him up had worked.  It wouldn’t do to look too eager to blow the punk out of the water.   “He’s apparently attached himself to Sierra Merteuil.” 

Marilee gasped for no apparent reason.  “That’s right.  I forgot Renee told me they were an item.  Maybe I should try to get some information out of him.  You know, like if his parents are on the outs, or if Richard has a tendency to send random women flowers."

“Good luck trying to get any answers from him,” Benji said with an air of nonchalance as he hopped off the desk.   

“Why do you say that?”

He shrugged indifferently.  “Sometimes when people are that high all the time their brain matter tends to turn to mush.”

Again, Marilee gasped.  She walked around the desk and folded her arms with great interest.  “Drugs?  Like pot?”

“Worse,” Benji said, looking around the room to ensure no one was in earshot – a move strictly for her benefit.  “Cocaine.”

“No!” Marilee said. 

“Yes.  I hear his supplier is right here in L.A.  He’s probably coked out of his mind as we speak.”  A sigh.  “I just hope it doesn’t end up another heartbreak for Sierra.  She’s been through so much already.” 

“Yes, she has,” Marilee said thoughtfully.  “It wouldn’t do at all for her to be caught up in this drug thing.  I wonder if I should tell Renee.”

“What kind of friend would you be if you didn’t?” Benji asked with a brief smile.

“I’m afraid I haven’t been a very good one.  Renee and I haven’t spoken for months.  Not since I sold my shares of Merteuil to Jackie Blackthorne.  She probably hates me.” 

“I’m sure she doesn’t hate you,” Benji said.  “You should talk to her.  If anything, she’ll be grateful that you warned her about Hunt Roberts.  You know how protective she is of Sierra.” 

“You’re right,” Marilee said.  “I’m going to do it.” 

Mission accomplished, Benji thought as he made his way to the door.  Before he left, the turned around and gave her the most vulnerable look he could muster.  “By the way, would you not mention that you heard this from me.  This job is the first step in trying to get on my parents good side.  I wouldn’t want to be accused of being a trouble maker.”

“Don’t worry,” Marilee said and followed him to the door.  “My lips are sealed.” 

“Thanks,” Benji said with a smile before he turned and started down the hallway. 

Duke Summerfield

When Summer arrived at Duke’s, he was in the parlor, the sound system blasting to his favorite new Swedish band, The Mary Onettes.  When the maid led her in, he quickly grabbed the remote control and lowered the volume.

“Took you long enough,” he said.  He was dressed in dark pants and a white v-neck monogrammed sweater.  “I thought you wanted to land Benji this century.” 

“I had to find a way to get away from Blake,” she told him.  “He’s already suspicious enough.  Especially after I told him I was with Benji last night.” 

“Are you clueless?” Duke asked.  “You told him?”

“I didn’t think it would be a big deal,” she said with a shrug.  She felt weak, which probably had something to do with the fact that she hadn’t eaten in two days.  Anorexia was such a nuisance at times. 

Duke grew into a state of concentration.  “Lucky for you, that might work to our advantage,” he began.  “Tonight is he night that you’re going to spill about how Benji tried forcing himself on you in a fit of rage.”

“Tonight?” she asked.  She was still unsure if this was a good idea.  How could it not come back to hurt Benji?

“There’s a party for Magnum Rainer’s birthday tonight.  I happen to know that Hunt Roberts will be there.  He was a counselor at Magnum’s summer camp five years ago and became something of a big brother to him.  And of course wherever Hunt goes, Sierra will be right along with him.  All we have to do is start our little game of telephone at the party and before the night’s over, Sierra will be frightfully disillusioned by her dear friend Benji. “

Summer watched him pace the room in concentration. 

How could he do something so horrible?” he said in a pretend-Sierra voice.  Especially after what my big bad father did to all those girls.” 

“I still worry that Benji is going to get in some kind of trouble,” Summer complained.  “Besides the fact that he’ll hate me for telling everyone something that I know is a big lie.” 

Duke rolled his eyes.  “Grow up,” he said.  “Do you want to keep Benji from Sierra or not?”

“Yes.”

“Then trust me.” 

She relaxed and nodded.  “Okay.  I’m sorry, Duke. I know you’re only trying to help.  I really do appreciate it.  If there’s anything I can do to pay you back, I’ll do it.” 

Grinning deviously, he approached her.  “Actually, you could give me a hand with something,” he said, glancing down and motioning with his eyes to the area below his belt.

She gulped, caught off guard by his request.  “You want me to…”

“I’m horny,” he said, resting his hand on his belt.  “Besides, what’s the big deal?  It’s like a handshake anymore.” 

Deciding she did owe him for helping her, she sunk to her knees before him and began to unzip his pants.  Suddenly, Duke began laughing and pulling away from her. 

“What?” she asked.

“I was kidding,” he said and zipped himself up again.  “Like I’m going to let you suck my dick after all the guys your lips have been on lately.”

Embarrassed, she rose to her feet, unable to look him in the eye.  “That was cruel, Duke.” 

“Hey, we’ve got to have some fun now and then, don’t we?” he asked.  “Or in your case, several times a day.” 

Tears welled up in her eyes just as a voice came from across the room. 

“Never without a girl around.  I see nothing’s changed.” 

They turned as Hunt Roberts made his way into the parlor. 

“Hunt, I heard you were back in town,” Duke said. 

“In the flesh,” he replied, scooping a handful of M&M’s from a bowl and popping a few into his mouth.  “How you doin’ man?”

"Oh, you know, playing lord of the manor while the parentals are in Geneva.”  He extended a hand and carried out the motions of a complicated handshake.

Hunt looked around the ornately decorated room.  “I can see that,” he said, and gestured to Summer.  “Part of your harem, I’m assuming?”

“That’s right, you haven’t met Summer,” Duke said.  “Summer Solomon, this is Hunt Roberts.  We go way back.”

Hunt shook her hand.  “He means I used to kick his ass on and off the racetrack.” 

“I spent summer’s at his family’s place on Shelter Island,” Duke explained.  “He’s four years older than me which is the only reason he kicked my ass.  We played polo.” 

Summer spied Hunt closely. So this was the guy Sierra was seeing.  Handsome, stylish, obviously wealthy.  She hoped those qualities kept them together, and kept her away from Benji.

“Nice to meet you,” she said. 

“Likewise.  You wouldn’t be the Summer Solomon who broke my boy’s heart, would you?”

Summer looked at Duke uncomfortably.  Was there anyone who didn’t know that she’d strayed during her and Duke's brief relationship?

“Don’t worry,” Hunt went on with a smile.  “Duke didn’t say anything to me.  My buddy Jeff Branigan, however, had great things to say about your gag reflex.  Or lack thereof.” 

She grimaced as he closed his hand around a statue of David and simulated a handjob while poking his tongue against the inside of his cheek.

"I have to go,” she said, snatching her purse from a chair and starting out of the room. 

“Party starts at nine!” Duke called after her. 

She nodded miserably before leaving. 

“Interesting girl,” Hunt said after she’d gone.  “You’re going to Magnum’s party tonight?”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Duke said as he flipped through a stack of CD’s.

“Great, we can catch up more then.  We should be there around ten.” 

“You and your new plaything?  What’s her name again?  Sienna?  Sirrocco?”

“Sierra,” Hunt corrected him.  “Have you met?”

“I don’t think so,” he replied.  “But I’ve met her mother.”

Hunt made a face and pulled a small vile of cocaine from his pocket.  “You mean that prancing diva Renee DeWitt?” he asked, dipping a tiny utensil inside and snorting it up his nose .  “The woman is exasperating.  You’d think someone who had an affair with a pedophile twenty years ago would be a little more solitude.  But no, she’s always right there holding Sierra’s hand morning to night.”

“Better not let Renee catch you with that stuff,” Duke said.  “I can only imagine her reaction if she were to find out you shovel that stuff up your nose around her daughter.” 

He laughed and wiped a trace of powder from his nostril.  “I think her reaction to that would pale in comparison to finding out Sierra’s just as into it as I am.”

Duke raised an eyebrow.  “Sierra does coke?  That’s a surprise.  Your bad influence, no doubt.”

“I got tired of hiding it from her,” Hunt said and stuffed another handful of M&M’s into his mouth.  “I thought she’d freak, but she actually wound up loving it.  The girl has issues.  I think she’s masking them with the drugs.” 

“What’s your excuse?”

“It turns me into a stallion in bed.”  He offered the vial to him. 

Duke shook his head.  “No, thanks.  I don’t touch the stuff, remember?”

Hunt sighed and did one more bump.  “Still afraid that your father is going to find out his son isn’t the golden boy he thinks he is?” he asked sarcastically.  “The woes of being in the political spotlight.  How is the Ambassador these days?”

“A dick as usual.”

“Yeah, I heard you and Branigan got into it a couple months ago over a dirtbike.   I guess there was a gun involoved?  But you got some movie mogul’s son to take the fall so your daddy wouldn’t get angry with you.” 

Duke rolled his eyes at his condescending tone.  “Yeah, Benji Rydell.”

“That’s the second time I’ve heard that name,” Hunt said.  “Sierra has mentioned him.  Who is this kid?”

“He graduated a year after me at Beau Soleil.  You’ll meet him at the party tonight.”

“Looking forward to it,” Hunt said and wandered across the room.  “Should I feel guilty about corrupting Sierra?”

“What do you mean?” he asked, following him with his eyes. 

He shrugged and picked up a statue.  “She was a goodie two shoes when I met her.  All she cared about was school.  Now she can’t even go back because her grades slipped.  Academic suspension.” 

“I’m sure the drugs have a lot to do with that.” 

“Yeah,” Hunt said thoughtfully but with no trace of remorse. 

“Like you said, she has issues,” Duke said.  He saw no reason for concern.  If anything, watching Sierra spiral downward as a result of drugs was the perfect way to teach Benji a lesson for screwing Summer behind his back last year.  Especially if he got away with his alleged attack on Summer last night.  Either way, he would be taught a lesson.  “Drugs are probably the only thing keeping her sane.  My advice is to get her so hooked that she can’t feel any pain.” 

Sierra Merteuil

Holed up in the powder room of her mother’s penthouse seemed like an amusing pun to Sierra as she snorted two lines of cocaine off of a small decorative hand mirror.  She wiped the remnants with a finger and rubbed it on her gums before inspecting herself in the mirror.  Taking a deep breath, she flushed the toilet for good measure and then proceeded back out to the living area where Renee was seated. 

“Another bathroom break?” her mother asked, kneeling on the floor with bridal magazines surrounding her on all sides.   “That’s the third one in an hour.  Maybe you should lay off the liquids, sweetheart.” 

“Yeah, maybe,” Sierra said and rejoined her on the thick plush carpet.

“Okay, so what do you think about the new club for the reception?” Renee asked.  “Construction should be done in plenty of time if we stick with a December date.”

Sierra stared distantly across the room.  The numbness in her mouth and the slight burn from the trickle down her throat too intense to allow her to concentrate on anything else. 

“Sierra?” Renee asked, trying to garner her attention.  “Are you listening to me?”

She finally turned her attention to her.  “Yes, I’m listening.”

“Are you sure?  Because you seem a million miles away.  Darling, you’ve been distant since you got back.  What is going on?”

Whether it was the cocaine propelling her to spill, or the guilt over not coming clean right off, Sierra suddenly launched into a rapid half-truth.  “Mom, I’ve been meaning to tell you something but I haven’t been able to find the right words.”

“What is it, Darling?  Tell me.”

“I’m not going back to school,” she said.  “I didn’t register for the fall semester.”

“What?  I don’t understand.  Did something happen?”

She realized she couldn’t tell her the truth that she’d been put on suspension for the entire semester because of her grades.  She couldn’t bare to see the disappointment in her eyes.  “No, nothing happened.  I just decided that I needed some time away from school, that’s all.  I’ve learned everything I can.  I want to be a singer.  Singers don’t have to have an education to make it.”

“They may not need one to sing but they most certainly need one to make it in this world,” Renee argued.  “Especially for a woman of color.  Sierra, what has gotten into you?  What does Hunt say about this?”

“Hunt supports me,” she replied.  “He got an Ivy League education and it’s been useless for him.  He’s still being groomed by his father to work for the family business next summer.  College just doesn’t matter these days.”

“I beg to differ,” Renee said.  “Sierra, I don’t understand why-“

The telephone rang and she sighed, frustrated by the interruption.  Realizing it could be a problem with the resort, she got up and went to answer it. 

“Hello?” she said.  “Oh, Marilee.  I’m sorry but I have nothing to say to you.” 

Sierra glanced at the powder room.  The stress over the argument made her crave another line.  Quickly, she got up and headed across the room, ignoring the looks of frustration from her mother.  

“Whatever you have to tell me you can just say it on the phone,” Renee was saying.  Protest from Marilee caused her to sigh and waive her hand through the air.  “Fine.  I can meet you tonight.  Eight o’clock in the dining room.”

As she hung up, Sierra emerged from the powder room. 

“I’ve got to go,” Sierra said.  “Hunt is expecting me.”

“Sierra, we’re not done talking about this.”

“Yes, we are, mom.  I told you I’m not going back to school.  It’s not up for discussion.”

With that, she collected her things and left the penthouse.  Renee stood behind, perplexed.  She felt as though she had no idea what had gotten in to her daughter over the past few months.

Jane Wheeler

Jane felt awkward sitting in a booth at Du Pars with Miranda.  Awkward because they were sitting in the same booth in the same restaurant that she’d sat in with Alex when they came up with the whole adoption fiasco.  Things were moving so fast, and the worst part was that Miranda was actually a very sweet girl who genuinely cared about her.  She hated lying to her.

“Are you feeling better?” Miranda asked. 

Jane nodded as she sipped a mug of tea.  “Yeah, thank you for talking to me.  I just never expected this to be so hard.”

“You mean giving up your baby?”

She shook her head.  “No, I mean having to explain to everyone why I’m doing it.” 

Miranda smiled knowingly.  “And by everyone you mean Jordan.” 

“What is his deal?” Jane wanted to know.  “I mean, why does he care?”

Sighing, Miranda sunk back into the leather booth.  “I think Jordan’s just going through some stuff right now,” she explained.  “His fixating on my mother is just his way of dealing with all of it.  I think he has good intentions.” 

“I’ll just be glad when this whole thing is over,” Jane said.  “As soon as I sign those papers this evening I’m finally going to be free.”

Miranda looked at the girl with concern.  “Is that really how you feel?” she asked.

Jane realized how the remark sounded and decided put it a different way before Miranda was totally disgusted by her.  “I never wanted to get pregnant,” she said.  “It was a surprise.  It just didn’t fit in with my plans.  Not that my life has been all that perfect since I moved out here.  I haven’t gotten one acting job.  I can barely pay my rent or put gas in my car.”

“But if it wasn’t for all of that, would you have still wanted to give the baby up?”

Even though the discussion was hypothetical, it caused Jane to contemplate her question with more thought than was necessary.  “I don’t know.” 

Miranda looked down at the table and looked up again.  “Can I tell you something that I haven’t told anyone yet?”

Jane nodded.

“I’m pregnant,” Miranda confessed.

“You are?  That’s wonderful.  Isn’t it?”

“I think so,” Miranda said.  “I mean, I know I’m ready to be a mother.  I was pregnant before but I had a miscarriage.  Then it seemed almost like fate intervening because I really didn’t want a baby.  This time I didn’t have any doubts.” 

“Who’s the father?” Jane asked.  “I didn’t even know you were married.”

‘I’m not,” Miranda said with a laugh.  “And I don’t know who the father is.  I mean I know it’s one of two guys that I’ve been with recently.”

“What do they say?”

“I haven’t told them.  I can’t.  I’ve barely been able to deal with them now that they know about each other.   I’m not very far along.  I haven’t even been to the doctor yet.  But I know my body.  I feel exactly the same as I did when I was pregnant the first time.” 

“What are you going to do?” Jane asked. 

“What are you going to do?” Miranda countered.  “If you could afford to raise a baby and if you were successful and all those other things that you mentioned, would you still be giving your baby up for adoption?”

The question was ridiculous, Jane thought to herself.  It wasn’t even her baby they were talking about.  More guilt over lying to her set in.  “Yes I would,” she answered, hoping to put the issue to bed. 

“Well, I’ve got to get going,” Miranda said and slid out from the booth.  “You ready?”

“I think I’ll just hang out for a while longer,” Jane said.   “I’ve got my car and I just live around the corner.” 

“Okay.  I’ll see you tomorrow at Kenny’s office.”  She made her way through the restaurant and nearly knocked someone onto the ground as she darted through the front door.  “Sorry,” she said hastily, then shrieked when she looked up and realized that it was Eddie. 

Moonshadows

While he waited for the bomb to drop in Hunt Roberts’ lap, Benji decided to head to Moonshadows in hopes of running into Sierra.  He hated the way they left things the night before, and genuinely felt bad for the impending realization she would come to about her new boyfriend.  He wanted to make sure that she knew he was there for her no matter what. 

Luckily, she was darting through the lobby of the hotel just as he entered through the main entrance.  They both stopped suddenly when they spotted each other.  She immediately waived her hand through the air in hopes of dismissing him.

"I can’t deal with you right now, Benji,” she said and attempted to skirt past him.

“Hey, wait a second,” he said and grabbed her arm.   “You seem upset.  You’re shaking.  What’s wrong?”  Had Marilee already gone to Renee?  If so, he had no doubt that everything had already blown up. 

“Nothing.  Just let me go.” 

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong,” he said and led her to a corner by the window.  “You may not like it, but I care about you.” 

“It’s just my mother,” she said hopelessly.  “She doesn’t understand me.” 

“Understand what?”

“I told her that I’m not going back to school,” she revealed.  “She didn’t like it very much.” 

“You’re not going back to school?”  Concern for her future did not immediately enter his head.  Instead, he felt his spirit soaring with the prospect of her remaining in L.A. for the time being. 

“No.  And she flipped out like she always does.  When is she going to learn that I’m twenty-one years old and I can make my own decisions?”

“She’s just being a mother,” he said, unable to resist throwing in a little praise for Renee.  It could come in handy when she lectured her about the trappings of dating a coke fiend.  “So I guess Hunt will be returning to New York without you then?”

“We were going to stay here for a while,” Sierra said.  “But now that my mother’s acting this way I don’t see any reason to stay.  We’ll probably go back to New York together sooner than we expected.” 

This caused major alarm in Benji’s mind.  “You can’t,” he lamented.  “I mean, you can’t run away from it.  You should stay and make her understand your decision.” 

“You think?” she asked. 

“Yes.”  He looked into her eyes, disturbed by what he saw.  For the first time she didn’t seem like herself.  She was jumpy, moody, and looked exhausted.  “Are you okay?  You look…”

“I look what?” she demanded hastily. 

Before he could reply, Hunt approached and slid his arm around her.

“Hi baby,” he said and kissed her on the cheek.  “Am I late?”

“No, you’re just in time.”  Her response was delivered with a cool glare in Benji’s direction.   “We were through anyway.” 

Hunt extended a hand to Benji.  “Hi.  I’m Hunt Roberts.” 

“Benji Rydell,” he replied, sizing him up with a quick once over. 

“Ah, the legendary Benji,” Hunt said with a smirk.  “I’ve been hearing a lot about you since we got here.  I understand you and Sierra are old acquaintances.” 

Benji wondered what Sierra had told him, if anything.  Certainly not that he had been her first.  He doubted that Hunt would be as smug if he’d known. 

“Your father and her mother used to be involved, right?” Hunt went on.

“That’s right,” Benji said.  He wanted to shout in his face that he’d fucked her last summer.  He wanted to brag about how much she bled and that despite the pain, she still came several times.  But he wouldn’t talk about her that way.  Their night together was private and meant more than to be used as a jab. 

“Come on, let’s go,” Sierra said and tugged at Hunt’s arm. 

“Later, Rydell,” Hunt said with a nod as they disappeared outside. 

Standing angrily in the lobby, Benji tried to remind himself that very soon Hunt Roberts would be history.  Once Renee found out about his drug habit, she’d most certainly send him packing, just as she had Malcolm Harris.

Stormy Blackthorne

“What are you guys doing here?” Miranda asked outside of Du Pars. 

“Came to get some lunch,” Stormy replied as he came up from behind Eddie.  “You?”

“I was meeting a friend,” she replied.  She could see the way Eddie looked at her and it broke her heart.  She’d put him off long enough.  She owed him an explanation.  “Can we talk for a minute?”

“I don’t know. Can we?”  He dug his hands in his pockets while giving her a chilled out expression. 

Determined to avoid the awkward situation, Stormy headed for the door.  “Uh, I’ll be inside.  Take your time, Eddie.” 

He patted his friend on the back and entered the restaurant.  As he made his way to the back, he spotted the same girl who he’d run into the day before at his mother’s apartment building. 

“And so we meet again,” he said, fully aware that he sounded horribly cliché. 

Jane looked up and laughed.  “Yeah, it seems that way.  Are you following me?”

“No.  Why?”

“Well, you did leave that note on my car.  I figured if you were desperate enough to do that you wouldn’t have any problem resorting to stalking.” 

“I am not desperate, and I’m not stalking you.”  He slid across from her in the booth.  “I’m here with my buddy.  So why haven’t you called me, anyway?  I thought you’d find it flattering that I left that note on your car.” 

“I suppose it was flattering,” she said.  “What happened to your eye?  Did you hit on some other girl and she slugged you?”

“No.  Just a slight disagreement at the office.” 

“Oh, so you work then?” Jane asked. 

“Of course I work.  What does that supposed to mean?”

She shrugged and leaned back in the booth with her hands wrapped around her mug of tea.  “I just thought you were one of those spoiled Hollywood brats with a trust fund.”

Her instant diagnosis infuriated him.  “You’ve got me all wrong,” he said.

“Oh do I, Mr. I’ve Got a Guy and He Can Be Here in Fifteen Minutes?”

Stormy dropped his hands to the vinyl seat and smiled.  “Okay, I admit that was a little pretentious.   I just felt bad leaving you stranded.  Did you get your car running?”

“Yeah,” she said.  Luckily Alex had given her another check which covered the repairs.

“Good.  Then you can drive tonight.” 

“I beg your pardon?”

“You’re coming to a party with me,” Stormy said with a cocksure grin.  “Don’t worry, it’s nothing too pretentious.  It’s the brother of a friend of a friend’s birthday.  I figured you’d want to drive instead of rolling up in the car of some spoiled Hollywood kid.”

Jane couldn’t help but find him adorable.  “I don’t even know your name.” 

“Stormy,” he said and extended his hand. 

“Jane,” she replied and accepted the handshake.  Maybe she would go.  A party could be just what she needed to get her mind off of the craziness that was her life lately. 

Miranda Blackthorne

Outside in the parking lot, Eddie leaned against his car, staring belligerently into the distance as Miranda pleaded with him with expressive brown eyes. 

“I never meant to hurt you,” she said.  “This thing with David…it just happened.”

"Uh huh,” he said dismissively. 

“And it doesn’t mean that I love you any less, because I do love you, Eddie.”

“Mm hmm,“ he mumbled. 

“I don’t know.  I was just going through a rough time, and David…”

“David what?”

“He….”  She thought better of telling him the truth, but it seemed to be the only way to explain herself.  “He’s dying.”

Finally, the indifferent look faded from Eddie’s face and he looked directly at her. 

“When he found out, he had this renewed zest for life and it excited me,” she explained.  “Since Hotel Terranova was destroyed I feel like I haven’t done anything worthwhile.  Nothing that was my own.”

"So all the sudden I’m not worthwhile?”

“You are,” she insisted.  “But David brought out these feelings in me.” 

“You mean feelings like you love him feelings?”

“I don’t know,” she said with a shrug.  “I care about him.  But I care about you too.  When you were in Acapulco I was worried sick that I was never going to see you again.” 

“Did you worry that you weren’t going to see David again?” he asked. 

“Yeah, of course,” she said with a shrug.  “But Eddie, I-“

“Okay, I see how it is,” he cut her off.  “Well, listen, take your time deciding on which one of us it is that you want.  And while you’re doing that, I’ll be going to Magnum Rainer’s birthday party tonight and guess who’s probably going to be there?  That’s right, Quinn Rainer.  And I think you know what happened last time we got together.  She lured me to a secluded cabin at Storm Lake and tried to put the moves on me but I turned her down because of you, that’s right, because I belonged to you.  Well, I guess this time I might just have to see where things go because you know what, you need to learn how to take what you give.” 

“Eddie,” Miranda said with exasperation. 

“No, too late.  Let me know what you decide, Miranda, and maybe I’ll be here when you do and maybe I won’t.”   He made his way to the door and jerked it open so fast that it hit him in the head.   Miranda cringed.  After recovering, he pulled the door open again, this time smashing it against his foot. 

“Ow, damnit!” he yelled and limped his way inside. 

Summer Solomon

Summer got a call from her family’s lawyer telling her that the first deposit from her mother’s life insurance policy had been wired to her bank account.  After a moment of reflection, then a few hits off of a joint, she set out to buy herself something to wear to the party.  She was sure Benji would be there, and that meant she had to look good enough to make him regret stopping things in the pool house the night before. 

Walking into one of her favorite boutiques on Rodeo Drive, she immediately spotted someone that made her bubble with envy and resentment.  Sierra.  She was with Hunt near the back of the store, no doubt also looking for something to wear to the party.

“Can I help you?” asked a salesgirl who approached. 

Quickly, Summer grabbed the nearest garment and fled into the dressing rooms.

“Miss?  Can I help you find a size?”

“Uh, I’m fine,” she said, tucked away on the bench as she waited.   The last thing she wanted was for them to see her.  Hunt would comment that he’d seen her at Duke’s, and then anything they had planned would be seen through and exposed as a lie. 

Moments later, her heart began beating wildly when she heard them enter the room next to her.  Laughter and the sounds of lips smacking together were followed by hushed whispers and other sounds she couldn’t make out. 

Desperate to see what they were doing, she climbed up onto the padded bench, lifted herself onto her toes and peered over the top of the divider.  There, she saw them dipping into a small vial of powder and snorting it up their noses.  Not just Hunt, but Sierra too.  Her eyes flashed open wide. 

Quietly reaching into her purse, she withdrew her cell and activated the camera feature.  As quietly as she could, and with a steady hand, she videotaped an obviously high as a kite Sierra doing bump after bump of cocaine. 

When the bench began to teeter beneath her, she inadvertently hit the divider with her knee.  Sierra and Hunt both looked up in unison, but she’d already jumped down and bolted from the dressing room.

“How did everythi-“ the salesgirl called, but Summer flung the dress at her and tore out of the store. 

Benji Rydell

Benji decided to work off his aggressions so he called Blake and they met up at the gym.  After listening to him ramble on for forty-five minutes about Summer, Benji went off to lift free weights on his own.  He didn't know how else to make it clear that he had no interest in Summer Solomon.  

After a few sets, his cell phone alerted him to a message.  Wiping his face with a towel, he picked up the phone and saw that he had a video message from an unknown number.  He activated it and watched the jerky movements of Sierra and Hunt Roberts snorting lines in what looked to be a dressing room at Fred Segal.  He only knew this because he’d fingered a sales girl there once a year and a half ago. 

Eyes growing wide, he played the video over again.  At first he thought he was seeing things, but after repeated viewings it became clear to him.  Sierra was doing coke.  His heart sank.  Seeing her high and tucked away in a stall like a common junkie made him sick to his stomach. 

Summer Solomon

After she sent the text, Summer smiled cleverly.  Those throwaway cell phones were a blessing when you were determined to be anonymous.  Benji would now be so disillusioned by his precious Sierra that he would have no one to turn to but her.  It was perfect.  Why did she even need Duke's help?

 

She went to another store on Rodeo Drive to find a dress.  The salesgirl was someone she remembered from high school and couldn't stop talking about how sorry she was about her mother's death.  

 

"What's the dress for?" the salesgirl asked as she rung up her purchase.  

 

"I'm going to a birthday party tonight."

 

"Magnum Rainer's party?" the girl squealed.  "Omigod, I am too. I hear it's going to be insane."

 

Summer smiled knowingly. "Yeah, insane is one way to put it."  

 

 


Next time....

At Magnum's party, treachery and deceit lead to dangerous circumstances.  Mackenzie and Kyle are forced to make small talk.  Suzanne cries on her professor's shoulder.  

 

 

Read Episode 126

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