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Episode 139

 

Release Date:  May 13, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Blake and Ashton sped to the lookout to warn Sierra that Benji had a gun.  On their way, they were hit by a drunk driver and thrown from the car.  Blake survived and Ashton fell into a coma.  While searching the area, the police found Sierra's body in Benji's car.  Kenny and James identified the body and then broke the news to a disbelieving Renee.  Benji was arrested for questioning in the robbery, but was suspected of Sierra's murder when they discovered Sierra's body had been found in his car.  During commotion at the police station, he escaped in a police car.  Benji called Jordan on his cell phone and begged him to let him come home after realizing Sierra was dead.  After he hung up, he saw visions of Sierra and Suzanne in the road and crashed into a pylon.  Everyone gathered at the hospital as Benji was rushed into surgery.  Brett took the helecopter to Death Valley and forced Suzanne to come back with him.  After hours of waiting, Jordan learned that Benji had died on the operating table.

 


  

Episode 139

"Ghosts"

 

Black umbrellas dotted the horizon in the rain as mourners gathered at the cemetery.  On a hill of sere grass overlooking the valley, the casket was slowly lowered into its grave.  The minister raised his hand in benediction as he spoke. 

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” he said, elevating his voice over the sound of the rain.  “May God be with this young man’s soul.” 

On the faces of Jordan, Blake, James and others, in flickers too rapid for an outsider to notice, somber looks were exchanged.  Furtive, quick glances that suggested the unspeakable events of the past week were still fresh in their minds.

“His life and his death attest to the Scripture’s warning that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword,” the minister went on.

Miranda blinked away a stream of tears while Eddie clasped his fingers through hers.   Next to them, Stormy craned his neck toward Suzanne who stood alarmingly still beside Jordan, Alex and Lola.

“But let us recall also our Lord’s admonition that we judge not, lest we be judged.  Let us attempt only to love.  And let Benjamin Parker Rydell rest in peace.”

As the service concluded and the mourners began retreating through the cemetery, Jordan remained behind.  Miranda, who stopped briefly, placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.  James led her away with a look that suggested they should allow him time to himself.   Reluctantly, Miranda followed him and the others to the line of black limousines that awaited them.

Alone at the gravesite, Jordan looked silently down at the casket.  One hand in the pocket of his raincoat and the other clutching an umbrella, he knelt down and closed his eyes.  It had only been a few days but he still felt like he was walking around in a fog.  None of it seemed real to him. 

He tried to come up with some inner monologue that would sum everything up that their tortuous father-son relationship had gone through, but no words would formulate in his mind.  He figured that probably only happened in the movies anyway.  This was reality.  And the reality was he didn’t know how to feel or what to say.

Before rising to his feet, he took a rose from the casket.  He turned and walked through the sprawling cemetery.  On the far side, far away from where Benji was buried, he approached a freshly covered grave baring Sierra’s name on the elaborate headstone.   He’d hung back at her funeral three days earlier, realizing the affect his being there would have had on Renee.  Standing a hundred yards away where no one would see him, he’d said his apologies and goodbyes undetected. 

Placing the rose on the grave, he stood silently for a few minutes.  He could feel the presence of someone approaching from behind.  Quickly, he turned and looked on with wide eyes at the person standing before him. 

“Hello Jordan,” Nathan Blackthorne said, long black raincoat and black umbrella shielding him from the relentless rain. 

Miranda Blackthorne

One by one, the limousines pulled up to the circular drive that led up to the front door.  Despite Jordan’s reluctance, Alex had arranged a gathering at his house in Beverly Hills following the funeral.  She’d hoped that having people around would provide the comfort that he needed.  During the past week, he’d locked himself up in Benji’s room and would only come out when necessary. 

The butler opened the door and took Miranda and Eddie’s coats.  A maid stood by directing people into the dining room where a display of food was set up.  Slowly, Eddie led her down the hall with an arm pulled tightly around her. 

“Two funerals in less than a week,” Miranda said softly while shaking her head.  “I can’t believe this is happening.” 

“I can’t either,” Eddie said, kissing the top of her head as they arrived in the drawing room. 

She looked at the food; smoked salmon with eggs and capers, caviar, little beef wellingtons, fresh crudités, and an assortment of canapés.  A grimace crossed her face and she turned away.  Despite the fact that she was eating for two, she had no appetite.

“Do you think we’re being distasteful?” she asked.  “I mean, we were at Sierra’s funeral three days ago.  Today Benji’s.  After what he did to her-“ 

“It doesn’t change the fact that we knew Benji since we were kids,” Eddie assured her, glancing across the room where Blake was walking on a pair of crutches, his face nicked and bruised from the accident.  “No matter what he did, he still meant something to us.” 

“It would have been distasteful to ignore that,” Ethan agreed when he approached with Stormy and Brooke.  He put a hand on Miranda’s arm.  “It’s okay to grieve.  You heard what the minister said.” 

“Even after what he did?”

“He was troubled,” Brooke said softly.  “He may not have been in his right mind.” 

Miranda nodded, her eyes glazing over while staring across the room at Suzanne who entered the room with Brett.  “Like Heather and their mother.” 

They all turned in the direction of her gaze.  Brett was leading Suzanne across the room and handing her a plate of food which she pushed away.  

“It was that accident,” Stormy said with a hint of anger in his voice.  “That damn car accident on the cliff that nearly killed Heather.  That whole family hasn’t been the same since.”

“You can’t blame the accident for what Benji did,” Eddie claimed defensively. 

“Why not?” he replied.  “It’s what started all of their problems.  Heather’s blackouts, Suzanne’s breakdown, Benji spending years thinking that Jordan killed her…”

“Why don’t you just say what you’re thinking, Stormy?”  Eddie asked.  “That it was because of my father that all of this happened.  You know it’s what you’re thinking.” 

“I didn’t say that,” Stormy insisted.

“You didn’t have to,” Eddie said.  “And my father didn’t start it.  Jordan did when he slept with my mother.”   Shaking his head, he walked off to meet up with Blake.  

“Don’t worry,” Miranda said and issued her brother a look of sympathy.  “He’s just upset.  I’ll talk to him.” 

James Blackthorne

James was standing in the foyer guzzling a glass of bourbon when Lola approached him from behind.  Startled, he turned and leveled his eyes on her.  Lola Lamont, the eighty-three year old actress who’d been relegated to the Actor’s Retirement Village in Pasadena, was surprisingly lucid today.  The last time he’d seen her was years ago and she was so heavily medicated that she barely knew he was there.

“Did you see the buffet?” Lola asked with a haughty look on her heavily made up face.  “The woman couldn’t even pick appropriate foods to serve at a funeral.  It’s no wonder you divorced her, James.  She has absolutely no class.” 

“What?”  He’d been there for ten minutes and was already finished with his second drink.  It seemed to be the only thing that took the edge off his rigid emotions as of late. 

“Alex.  That ridiculous, stupid woman,” Lola replied and looked angrily at the buffet.  She clutched the daytime pearls that hung from the collar of her black dress.   “I told her to use the caterer I suggested.  As usual she didn’t listen.” 

“Lola, the food is fine,” James said and took another drink. 

“Fine?” she lamented.  “Mini Beef Wellingtons?  That may fly in Michigan or wherever the hell she’s from, but certainly not at a Beverly Hills party.” 

“This isn’t a party!” James exclaimed.  “Your grandson has died.  My God, don’t you care about anything?”

With that, he turned and darted down the hall.  Lola stood behind, perplexed. 

“I just thought the food was déclassé, that’s all,” she said to Brooke who’d witnessed the exchange and quickly ran after James. 

She found him sitting on the stairs in the entryway, his eyes red and his glass of bourbon clutched tightly in his hand. 

“You all right?” she asked, standing by the banister. 

He shook his head and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index finger.  “None of this is all right,” he said solemnly.  “We shouldn’t have had to bury two kids this week.” 

Slowly, she lowered herself onto the stair behind him.  “It makes you wonder why God does the things he does,” she said.

“God?  Really?”  James laughed and took another swig.  “You think God had anything to do with Benji putting a bullet in Sierra’s stomach?  Or him crashing his car into a cement wall?”

She tilted her head while looking closely into his eyes.  “What’s going on?” she asked.  “You’ve been drinking all day.  All week, actually.  You haven’t come down to eat with the family, you haven’t-“

“We’re all grieving,” James said.  “We do it in our own ways.” 

She sighed and folded her hands in her lap.  “Do you think you might be taking this all so hard because of Sierra?  Because she never wanted to be part of the family?”

“No, I’m taking it hard because two kids are dead and it could very well have been-“  He stopped himself before finishing his thought.  Rising from the stair, he flashed her a final look before sauntering off through the house. 

Brett Armstrong

Brett had lost track of Suzanne.  It had been the same story since he’d forced her back to civilization several days before.  Disaffected stares into the abyss, single-word responses to questions, and nary a tear that fell from her eyes when the helicopter landed that night and they were told that Benji had succumbed to his injuries.  Her own son was gone and yet she’d spent a week walking around like a zombie.  No emotions, no regrets, no warmth.  Whatever ideas Warren Abbott has instilled in her mind during her stay in Death Valley were stronger than he’d thought. 

He found her in the living room standing by the staircase, her glassy eyes staring at a single spot on the floor.  He called her name and approached her but she didn’t react.  She seemed to be in a trance-like state.  

“What are you doing?” Brett asked as he approached and stood in her sight-line. 

With her arms wrapped tightly around herself, she lowered herself to the floor and traced her hand over the mahogany stained wood. 

“Come on,” he said and pulled her to her feet.  “I really think you need to eat something.” 

She allowed him to steer her out of the room, her neck craned back until the floor was out of view. 

Nathan Blackthorne

The rain sounded like pebbles when it hit the roof of the limousine.  They were still parked at the cemetery.  Jordan was staring through the window in a daze, numb feelings of indifference over the sudden appearance of his former mentor. 

“How did you get out?” he found himself asking without even looking at him.

“I was granted a humanitarian release,” Nathan replied from the seat across from him.  “When they told me about Sierra, my lawyer put the wheels in motion.  Unfortunately it took longer than anticipated.  I didn’t get to make it for her funeral.” 

“When did you get back?” He still didn’t look at him. 

“Today,” Nathan told him.

Finally, Jordan turned and let his eyes flicker across his for a brief moment before going back to the window.  “Why did you come back here?’”

“To feel closer to my daughter.” 

“After what you did to her?” Jordan asked casually. 

A few moments of silent filled the limo before Nathan finally replied.  “I don’t know what you think happened but-“

“I was there,” Jordan said and looked at him.  “On the yacht that night.  Renee and I walked in as you were about to molest your daughter.” 

“I would have never hurt Sierra,” Nathan said.  “I was just never given the opportunity to be a father to her.  You kept her from me.” 

I kept her from you?”

“You, Renee, Suzanne, Lola….all of you.” 

Jordan didn’t have the energy or the desire to rehash the past with him.  He refused to let him overshadow the real reason they were there. 

“Everyone’s at my house,” Jordan said and motioned to the driver.  Seconds later the car lurched forward.  “You should probably come.  They’ll want to know that you’re back.” 

“Should I be expecting sympathy or a lynching?” Nathan asked, his usual fanfare somewhat muted. 

“People don’t care that you were her father,” Jordan said distantly as the car rocked along the gravel road. 

“Then lynching it shall be.” 

They rode in silence for the rest of the way to Beverly Hills.

Renee DeWitt

Lying in her opulent bedroom with the shades drawn, an eye mask pushed up to her forehead, and a photograph clutched in her hand, Renee lied perfectly still.  When the bedroom door opened and Kenny peered inside, she closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep.  If he thought she was awake, he would come in and start fawning all over her again, just as he had every day since the nightmare began.  And while his actions were to be expected, it didn’t help.  Nothing helped.  She wanted to submit to the dark despair, to the sleepless, fitful nights, to the never ending flood of tears and regret that stained her ebony skin. 

“It will get easier in time,” he’d said time and time again over the past week.  “The pain is temporary.  This is part of the grieving process.” 

But they were just empty words.  She doubted that it would ever get easier, and she didn’t give a damn about the grieving process.  Her daughter was dead.  Her beautiful, young, innocent daughter who meant more to her than anything on earth was gone forever.  And not just gone, but horrifically murdered.  Every time she closed her eyes she imagined how it must have happened.  She tortured herself with the unknown.  She wondered what she was doing when she took her last breath. 

The regret Renee felt over their relationship was unbearable.  She’d lied to her for years about who she was, going as far as keeping her at a distance for fear that anyone would find out how she came into the world.  All those years of wasted time made her physically sick.  She should have embraced her and kept her close to her.  She should have done so many things different. 

She barely reacted when she heard the doorbell downstairs.  Whoever it was would only offer the same empty condolences so she quietly wept while clutching Sierra’s photo.  Moments later, she decided to go to the bedroom door and listen.  Her worst fear was that people were talking about how she was falling apart. 

Kenny DeWitt

Downstairs, Kenny stood clear of the door as T.T. walked inside the penthouse and turned toward him. 

“I thought you went back to New York after the funeral,” Kenny said while regarding him with an expressive stare. 

“I did,” he replied and wiped a hand over his face.  “But only to take care of a few matters.  Renee needs me more than work does.” 

“Renee has me,” Kenny admonished.  “She doesn’t need you.  Not after what you did to her last time.” 

“That was twenty-five years ago,” T.T. reminded him.  “If anyone it should be you who stays away.  I can take care of her.” 

“Until you leave town again.” 

T.T. waived a dismissive hand through the air.  “I’m not about to stand here arguing with you about who hurt Renee the most.  The point is that she’s hurting now because of something out of either of our control.  She needs all the support she can get.”

Kenny realized he was right.  This was not the time to compete for Renee’s affections.  “She’s been upstairs in her room all morning.  I haven’t had the heart to tell her today was Benji’s funeral.  God knows she couldn’t handle knowing people were mourning over him.”

Upstairs, Renee stood in her bedroom doorway and listened.  Her eyes glazed over, she slowly closed the door and turned around. 

Blake Distefano

Eddie searched through the house until he found Blake standing in Benji’s bedroom upstairs.  Slowly, he pushed the door open and walked inside, startling his younger brother. 

“Sorry,” he said.  “Would you rather be alone?”

Blake shook his head and turned on his crutches.  He started to lower himself onto the bed when Eddie ran over to help him.  

“You haven’t said much today,” Eddie said once they were seated. 

“I don’t know what to say,” Blake said with a shrug. 

His hands folded between his legs, Eddie stared at the floor across the room.  “You can talk to me, you now,” he said.  “I mean, I know we haven’t really ever been into all that touchy feely stuff, but I know what you’re going through.” 

“Did your best friend die too?” Blake asked with a tinge of resentment in his voice.

Eddie shook his head somberly. 

“I just feel like I could have done something to stop him,” Blake went on.  Dark circles surrounded his eyes, and his lips were swollen.  Cuts and bruises covered his face from where he’d flown through the windshield of Ashton’s car.  

“You said you tried.” 

“Not hard enough,” Blake admitted.  “That night at our place when he came and he had that gun wasn’t the first time I realized he needed help.  Maybe I could have helped him if I’d tried a long time ago.” 

“Maybe nobody could have helped him,” Eddie said.  “I think Benji had things going on that nobody knew about.” 

“We were best friends since we were five years ago,” Blake told him.  “Even when he was away at school we talked all the time.  Every vacation we were inseparable.  I knew everything about him.  So why didn’t I know that he would do that to Sierra and to himself?”

Eddie frowned.  “What do you mean to himself?”

Blake shook his head and looked across the room.  A pair of gym shorts lay crumpled next to the closet.  Beside it was a movie stub from a film they saw together a few weeks before. 

“Do you think he crashed that car on purpose?” Eddie asked. 

Tears welled up in his eyes.  “Why didn’t I know?” he sobbed while turning to his brother.  “Why?”

Eddie closed his eyes and pulled him into an embrace.  “I don’t know,” he said, rocking him back and forth. 

Alex Reynolds

Alex waited nervously for Jordan to return from the cemetery.  She’d left without him because she knew he needed time.  But now it had been nearly an hour and the house was getting fuller by the minute.  She hoped when he returned he would let her comfort him.  So far he’d been more detached than she’d ever seen him. 

She turned from the window and saw Suzanne standing in the corner of the dining room.  Slowly, she walked toward her, knowing that despite their indifference toward one another over the years, she had to at least say something. 

“Hello Suzanne,” she said softly.  “I wanted to tell you how sorry I am about Benji.”

“Thank you, Alex,” Suzanne replied, her eyes staring through her. 

“I can’t imagine how painful it would be to lose a child,” she went on.  A chill ran up her spine when she realized that the tiniest of smirks was vaguely evident on the woman’s face.   Was she smiling at her?

Behind her, Stormy stood talking to Brooke and Ethan.  He craned his neck while overhearing his mother talking to Suzanne.   Inconspicuously, he listened. 

“It’s a shame that Heather couldn’t be here,” Alex went on.  “Jordan said her doctors didn’t want her to come today because it might do her more harm.  But he said her setback was only temporary.  Maybe she’ll be able to-“

“I know what you’re doing,” Suzanne interrupted.

“I’m sorry?”

“I said I know what you’re doing,” Suzanne repeated, still smiling.

Alex shook her head in confusion.  “I just know you’ve been through a lot lately and I wanted to let you know I was there for you.”

“I’m not stupid,” Suzanne interrupted.  “You haven’t had a single nice thing to say to me in thirty years.  Why would you start now?”

“Because Benji-“

“I don’t need your sympathy,” Suzanne maintained.  “I’ve come to realize in these past few weeks that I don’t need anyone’s validation.  I have inner peace now.  I triumph in the inner power.   That’s something you wouldn’t know anything about because all you do is take from other people.  You take and you take and you take.” 

Alex stared at her in shock.  She knew from what Brett and Jordan had told her that her time away was spent in some sort of compound where they practiced self help, but to be this cavalier about her own son’s death was troubling and nearly sent her away in a fit of tears.  Instead, she took a breath and reminded herself that she was a mother too. 

“I just wanted to tell you how sorry I was,” she said before turning and walking through the crowd.  

Stormy watched her go and then turned back to Brooke and Ethan.  When Miranda approached, she motioned down the hall.

“Does anyone know what’s bothering Daddy?” she asked.  “I know this is a funeral and all but he seems to be taking it worse than anyone.”

“I’ve never seen him like this,” Stormy agreed.

“We were talking out in the hall earlier,” Brooke revealed.  “It seemed like something was on his mind but he wouldn’t tell me what it was.  I think he’s just feeling guilty about Sierra.” 

James Blackthorne

James was leaning against the doorway of the drawing room, his back to the entryway as he nursed another glass of bourbon.  He watched the mourners conversing politely with one another, rolling his eyes at how phony so many of the conversations seemed to be.  He wanted no part of it.  Besides, after several drinks he was starting to feel tipsy.  Better to stay away from any serious discussions. 

“I never know what to say to people at these things,” Kelly said when she approached from behind in a tight black dress with a black pill box hat over her long black tresses. 

He craned his neck and raised an eyebrow.  “I'm the same way.  It was sweet of you to come.” 

When the doorbell rang and the butler went to open it, Sheldon Novak arrived with his father.  His eyes immediately went to the stairs where Blake and Eddie were descending into the dining room.  

“James,” said Vaughan Novak, a tall, handsome man in his early sixties.  He shook his hand as Sheldon fell in line behind him.  As the owner of the biggest talent agency in the world, he instantly knew every face in the room.   “Good to see you.  Jordan here?”

“Not yet,” James said with a shake of his head while acknowledging Sheldon with a meek smile.

“I’m going to go talk to Blake,” Sheldon said and excused himself.  

After he’d gone, Vaughan shook his head sorrowfully.  “He’s taking it pretty hard. I never even knew he was that close to Benji.” 

“I think it’s the circumstances that are so sad,” Kelly said. 

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” Vaughan said and politely introduced himself.  “Vaughan Novak.” 

“Kelly Blackthorne,” she said, allowing him to take her delicate hand in hers. 

“A pleasure,” he said before turning and walking into the next room. 

Glancing awkwardly around, Kelly brought her hands before her and clasped them together. 

“At least the food is nice,” she said to James.

“You don’t think it’s déclassé?” he asked.

Miranda Blackthorne

“Are you okay?” Miranda asked as she approached Eddie by the stairs.

He nodded and gestured toward Blake.  “Yeah.  Just needed to have a minute with my baby brother.” 

“How is he doing?”

“Not so good,” he replied.  “How are you?  Do you need to sit down?  You’ve been on your feet all day.” 

“No, I’m fine.  I feel bad about that stuff between you and Stormy earlier.  I don’t think he was trying to insinuate that your father started any of this.  It’s just that they’ve had so much to deal with since as long as I can remember.” 

“Everyone blames my dad for everything that went wrong with the Rydell’s.  It hasn’t been a picnic in my family either.  How would it feel to you knowing your father did so many despicable things to people?” 

“I’m sorry,” Miranda said.  “You just don’t talk about Victor very much.” 

Eddie shook his head somberly.  “I don’t like to dwell on it.  I have to be strong for my brother.  I mean, we pretend fight a lot and we bicker at each other and call each other names, but I love him."

“He loves you too,” Miranda said, moving closer. 

“I just don’t know how much more he can take,” Eddie told her.  “First my mom taking off, then my dad dying, and now Benji.  He’s only nineteen and he’s lost a lot.”

“He has you,” Miranda said and pulled him close.  “You’re a good brother and he knows you’re there for him.” 

Sheldon Novak

“I haven’t seen you in a few days,” Sheldon said to Blake after they escaped to a private area of the house.  “Are you doing all right?”

“I’m okay,” Blake said and looked down at the floor.  “Just confused is all.” 

“It doesn’t have to be confusing,” Sheldon told him.  “I mean, we were both upset.  You know, about Sierra and Benji and all.  Maybe that’s all it was.” 

He looked up at him and shook his head.  “I don’t think so.” 

They looked at one another for a few seconds.  Then in the dim hallway with the shadowy reflections of raindrops surrounding them, they kissed softly.  Sheldon brought his hands up to his shoulders and pulled him close.

Jordan Rydell

When Jordan finally arrived, everyone stopped what they were doing and turned in the direction of the foyer.  Alex approached from her position in the dining room while Miranda came from the drawing room. 

“I was worried,” Alex said and advanced quickly toward him.

“Why?” he asked her in a disaffected tone while handing his raincoat to the butler. 

His response told her that he was still unwilling to let her help him get through his grief.  Frustrated, she started to turn away.  When another figure came through the front door behind him, however, she froze in her tracks. 

“Hello Alex,” Nathan said as he walked inside and dusted off his coat.  

“What on earth?” she asked, her eyes flashing between him and Jordan. 

“It’s been a long time,” Nathan said, removing his jacket to reveal a demure black suit and tie.  “You look beautiful as ever.” 

While she stood staring in amazement, others slowly became aware of his presence.  Lola and Suzanne walked from the drawing room, while James came across the foyer, drink in hand.  Brooke approached with Ethan at her side, her hands trembling and her eyes darting nervously between Nathan and James. 

“I see my presence has caused a spectacle,” he announced to the hushed crowd.  “I apologize for that.  It was not my intention.  But Jordan here insisted I come along with him.”

Alex glared angrily at Jordan as Nathan brushed past her and into the drawing room. 

“Suzanne, please accept my condolences on your loss,” he said and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.  “And please know that I bare no ill will against you or Jordan after what…transpired between our children.” 

She cringed away from him and ran hurriedly from the room.  Brett immediately went after her. 

“Lola,” Nathan went on.  “You’re looking lovely as ever.”

“You look like hell,” she said in response before turning and walking through the room, cigarette in hand. 

“What are you doing out, Nathan?” Ethan asked, all too aware of the death grip Brooke had on his arm.

“I was given a humanitarian release after news came of Sierra’s death,” he responded.  “Unfortunately it came too late to attend her service.  I can’t tell you how horrible I feel that I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know my daughter better before she died.  Almost as bad as not being able to say goodbye to her.” 

“When are you leaving?” Brooke asked, her eyes penetrating into his.  While she believed that any parent - good or bad - had a right to mourn the loss of a child, she couldn’t get past his being there. 

“Brooke, I take it from your tone that you still haven’t gotten over the misunderstanding we had a few years back while you and James were married.” 

“Misunderstanding?” she asked incredulously.  She wanted to say more, but remained silent in light of the reason they were there today.  Benji’s funeral was not the place to rehash her old wounds. 

“I’ll actually be staying in Los Angeles indefinitely,” Nathan reported.  “I’ll be moving back into my old apartment on Alvarado Court.” 

“I can’t listen to any more of this,” Brooke said and turned away.  “Get me out of here, Ethan.”

He quickly obliged, taking her arm and leading her across the room.  Miranda and Stormy went after them, followed by Eddie. 

In the foyer, James set his drink down and clapped his hands together in exaggerated fanfare.  

“Another stellar performance by my Uncle Nathan,” he said.  “No one clears a room like he does.”

“James,” Nathan said and turned toward him.  “I’d hoped our next meeting would be under different circumstances.  Naturally I’m devastated about Sierra, as are you, I’m sure.” 

“Naturally,” James said with a wry expression and took a fresh glass of bourbon when the butler passed.  “You should have warned us you were coming.  We would have gotten all the thirteen year old girls off the street.  But then again school’s not out for another couple of weeks.  There’s still time.” 

“You’re drunk,” Nathan said indignantly. 

James rolled his eyes and took another drink.  He started to reply but waived his hand through the air dismissively instead before turning and sitting down on the stairs. 

Jordan Rydell

When Jordan entered the drawing room, his eyes landed on Suzanne who sat solemnly next to Lola.   He knew he should go talk to her.  They’d barely spoken since Brett showed up with her a week ago.  She stayed in the guest room and he stayed in the master or in Benji’s room.  It made sense for them to connect over the loss of their son, but she was off in her own world and he was in no mood to save her again.  He didn’t have the strength.

Alex eyed him from the doorway and while he knew she was only trying to help, she wasn’t.  Nothing would help the pain and the regret that he felt.  When Miranda approached and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, he produced the same forced smile that had gotten to be something of a habit that week. 

“It was a beautiful service,” she said.  “Do you need anything?”

“I’m fine Miranda, thank you.”

“It’s okay if you’re not, you know,” she persisted.  “If you want to talk about anything, I’m here for you.” 

His smile was getting harder to maintain.  “I appreciate that.”  

Slowly, she cocked her head and studied him.  “Are you sure you don’t need anything?”

“Miranda, I’m fine,” he said somewhat sternly before turning and walking away.  A groan escaped his throat when she ran after him and pulled him back.

“Hey, it’s me you’re talking to,” she said.  “I was your step-daughter on two different occasions, remember?  I grew up with Heather and Benji.  You can talk to me.” 

Frustrated, he turned back toward her.  “I don’t want to talk about it, okay?”

She looked into his tired hazel eyes.  “You have to talk about it or you’ll never accept that-“

“I said I don’t want to,” he cut her off before turning and slipping through the crowd.  

He was stopped a few times by acquaintances and colleagues offering their condolences.   He couldn’t help but feel they were judging him, silently ridiculing him for raising a son that could resort to such a heinous act.  The looks of disdain and the whispers were almost too much to bear.  He wanted nothing more than for everyone to leave. 

“It was such a shock,” said Deacon Edgewater, a long-time acquaintance and CEO of Double Strike Studios. 

“Let me know if you need anything, Jordan,” said his lawyer, John Berry.

“I am very sorry,” Jack Childers said after sneaking out from the corner of the room.

“How is Ashton?” Jordan inquired, finally relieved to talk about something other than his own grief. 

“Still in the coma,” Jack replied gravely.  He was a sixty-three year old veteran actor, tall and statuesque with a shock of white hair and a bold face.  “His mother’s with him now. I just wanted to come by and offer my sympathies.” 

His gesture moved Jordan, and reminded him all over again just how many casualties came from Benji’s final reign of terror.   He couldn’t bear to look at the man for another second for fear that he would finally break down.  

Quickly, he stalked off toward the kitchen and felt his eyes burning with tears for the first time since he’d gotten the horrible news a week earlier.  But when he realized someone was in the room, he quickly composed himself and took a deep breath. 

“Jordan,” the man said after clicking off his cell phone.

When he looked up, he recognized him as the counselor from Beau Soleil.  Kip Wolkstein split his time between Switzerland and L.A. where his family lived.  Since school didn’t get out for the summer until June, he could only assume he made the long trip especially for the funeral. 

“Kip,” he said and shook the man’s hand.  “I can’t believe you came.” 

“When I heard about what happened, I knew I had to come.  How are you holding up?” 

If Jordan could count how many times he’d been asked that over the past week, he would be in the triple digits by now.  And while he knew every time came from the heart, there was no easy answer to the question.  Usually a simple look from his expressive green eyes was the only answer anyone required. 

“I saw Suzanne in the other room when I got here,” Dr. Wolkstein went on.  “She seemed kind of despondent.   I assume it’s hitting her pretty hard as well.” 

Jordan nodded somberly.  “I’m not quite sure what’s going on with Suzanne.”  

Dr. Wolkstein stepped closer.  “She came to see me last summer at my house in the Palisades,” he told him.  “She evidently overheard you talking to someone about the time I asked you to come to Beau Soleil to discuss Benji’s problems.” 

Jordan recalled the incident where he and Renee had been talking about Benji’s troubles.  Suzanne had overheard them discussing an incident at Beau Soleil and wouldn’t let it drop.  She must have taken it upon herself to seek out the truth. 

“I didn’t tell her anything,” he said.  “I know what a fragile state she’s been in.” 

Jordan felt bewildered.  “I should have listened to you that time in your office,” he said.  “Maybe if I had-“

“You don’t know that anything would have turned out differently,” the doctor interrupted.

“You told me that he needed help and I just ignored it,” Jordan said, staring off in a daze.

“Jordan, it was eight years ago,” Dr. Wolkstein told him.  “Benji was thirteen.  We didn’t know if it was adolescence or-“

“You told me he was in trouble,” Jordan recalled. 

“I told you he’d said things during our sessions that concerned me.  That’s all.” 

“Tendencies toward violent behavior,” Jordan lamented.  “That’s what you said.  He admitted to having delusions about physically hurting people.” 

“No, he imagined conflicts with people.  Professors, classmates, even members of his family.  His imagination was so vivid that he believed he’d had confrontations that never happened.”

“And when he imagined bashing his German teacher over the head with a bat?” Jordan asked.  “That alone should have forced me to pull him out of that school and bring him home where I could protect him.” 

“What could you have done that we didn’t?” 

“I don’t know.  I could have-“  The truth was he didn’t know what he could have done short of getting his son serious psychiatric help.  There had been so many warning signs that he ignored.  Too busy with his womanizing lifestyle at the time to bother.  That and the fact that he was unwilling to accept what Troy’s murder had done to his children.  “I was so concerned about Heather’s mental state after her accident that I never bothered to think of what Benji was going through. 

“Try not to think about what you could have done,” Kip suggested.

Jordan looked at him blankly.  “How can I not?   He killed his girlfriend in cold blood, Kip.  He took a gun and pressed it against her stomach and pulled the trigger.”

“I can only assume that his delusions drove him to do what he did.  Benji was not an evil person.  He was troubled.  I think in the end he just wanted it to stop.” 

Creased formed in Jordan’s forehead as he turned toward him.  “What are you saying?  That Benji wanted to die?”

“I know it’s hard to accept,” Dr. Wolkstein replied.

“It’s not true,” Jordan insisted.

“The police said that they weren’t in pursuit at the time of the crash,” he reasoned.  “He’d smashed through the road block and crashed into the pylon two miles down the road.  He didn’t crash by accident.” 

“Then the car was damaged,” Jordan resolved.  “Something happened when he went through the road block and he lost control of the wheel.  He did not kill himself.” 

Kip realized he wasn’t ready to accept the possibility so he decided to let it go.  “I hope you’ll call me if you need anything, Jordan.  Even if it’s just to talk.  Maybe I can be of some help as you try to understand.” 

Jordan filled a glass with water from the faucet and took a long drink while staring resentfully out the French doors at the pouring rain.  “Goodbye Dr. Wolkstein,” he said. 

Kip pressed his lips together and left the room without another word.  Jordan dumped the rest of his water into the sink and set the glass on the counter while fighting the resistance to consider the doctor’s theory.  He wouldn’t believe Benji had died on purpose.  He couldn’t have.  He’d talked to him minutes before.  He was on his way home so they could work things out.  He was going to help him.  

Picking up the glass, he threw it across the room and barely flinched when shards of glass shattered in every direction. 

Mackenzie Stone

Mackenzie showed up at the house in a classic little black dress and minimal jewelry.  The butler took her umbrella and gestured into the entryway where James was standing staring at an African painting he’d always admired.  

“What are you doing out here?” she asked as she approached. 

He turned and offered a vague smile while gazing in at the mourners gathered in the drawing room.  “I like it out here.” 

She could smell the stench of liquor on his breath and knew immediately from the look in his eyes that he was drunk.  “I hope you don’t mind that I came.  I mean, I didn’t know Benji but-“ 

“But you went out with Jordan last year,” he said, pointing his finger in surprise.  “I almost forgot about that little fling.” 

“It wasn’t a fling,” she said and took his glass from him.  “He asked me to join him at the premiere of your movie and I said yes.  How much have you had to drink?”

“I don’t know,” James said, his words slurring and balance compromised as he turned on his heels.  “How much have you had to drink?”

“Maybe I should take you home.”

“Home to my house?” James asked with a guffaw.  “I thought you weren’t interested in going there.  You said my family needed me too much, remember?  Why would you want to go there?”

“I think you’re drunk and you need to sleep it off,” Mackenzie said in her usual no-nonsense demeanor.  “I’ll find Jordan so you can say your goodbyes.” 

“No, I don’t want to,” he said, tugging at her arm.  “I just want to stay here and be depressed.”

“Is that why you’re hanging out here in the entryway?  Have you even talked to anyone?” 

“I think I did,” James said, ruffling his hair.  He looked around and pointed to Lola.  “I talked to her.”   In his zeal to point her out, he stumbled and fell into Mackenzie.  “Oops.  Sorry.” 

“Okay, you need to sit down,” she said as she held him up and led him over to the stairs.  “I’m going to go get you some coffee.” 

“I want bourbon,” James hiccupped, pulling at her arm.  “This is a funeral.  Aren’t people supposed to drink at a funeral?”

She regarded him with a sigh and walked toward the dining room.  On her way, she ran into Miranda who motioned to James with a nod of her head.   Mackenzie simply shrugged before continuing on her mission for coffee. 

Standing in the doorway, Miranda watched her father teeter on the edge of the stairs.  She folded her arms, perplexed that he hadn’t bothered to come in and talk to anyone since they’d arrived from the cemetery. 

Nathan Blackthorne

People avoided Nathan like the plague, some stopping and whispering and others outright pointing as they passed by.  He did find a companion in Jack Childers who had been one of his cohorts back in his heyday in the seventies and early eighties.  They talked about the old days and the loss of one of their own. 

“I tell you, when I heard about Victor I couldn’t believe it,” Nathan was saying.  “We had a lot of good times with that old fellow.”

“We sure did,” Jack agreed.  “Remember that party at Sinatra’s place?  It must have been the talk of the town for months.”  Nathan laughed jovially.  “It’s sad what became of him after Sylvie left.  He was never quite right, was he?” 

“No,” Jack said somberly. 

Their conversation was interrupted when Lola drew near, sweeping between them and flashing them each a stern eye. 

“This looks like trouble,” she said with a wicked smile.  “What are the two of you cooking up over here?”

“Whatever do you mean, Lola?” Nathan asked.  “We were just talking about poor Victor.” 

“That psycho,” Lola guffawed.  “Good riddance, I say.  He was smart to die.  Just like you should have been smart enough to stay away from here.  You were exiled before and you will be again.  Nobody wants you here, Nathan.” 

“Must you be so catty?” he asked.  “What have I ever done to you?”

She glared menacingly at him. “You know damn well what you did.  Don’t think I’ve forgotten about it either.” 

“If you’re referring to what I think you are, you’re just as to blame as I.”  He exchanged glances with Jack.  “And unless you want this entire affair knowing what you did, I’d keep quiet about things that we laid to rest a long time ago.” 

They were joined by Vaughan Novak who shook Nathan’s hand and then offered Jack and Lola each a brief nod hello. 

“I’d have to agree,” he said, then turned his full gaze at Lola.  “I don’t think anybody wants to relive mistakes from the past.” 

Suddenly feeling corned, Lola decided to make a quick escape.  She looked at the three men before turning and stalking off across the room. 

TT Levitt

Kenny was making a pot of tea while T.T. paced anxiously across the floor of the living room at Renee’s penthouse.  His sleeves rolled up to his elbows, he loosened his tie and stared out the window at the ocean.  A door opening upstairs caught his attention and he quickly turned.  As he did, Renee came down the stairs dressed for the first time in days. 

“Renee,” T.T. said hopefully and went to intercept her.  “You’re up.” 

She floated down the stairs and embraced him briefly.  “I’ve been up,” she said.  “Is this blouse okay?”  She gestured to the cream silk Gucci creation with gold buttons and black collar. 

“It’s fine,” T.T. said while Kenny joined him.   “Are you going somewhere?"

“It’s everyone’s favorite blouse on me,” she said, slipping on a pair of gold earrings that she plucked from her small clutch.  “But is it appropriate for a wake?”

“What?” Kenny asked.

“At Jordan’s,” she said.  “I overheard you talking earlier.  I’m going there.” 

They looked at each other in panic. 

“Renee, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Kenny said.  “Benji’s funeral was today and after the last time you saw Jordan, I just-“

“The man who killed my daughter was buried today,” she said plainly.  “I think I deserve the satisfaction, don’t you?”  

Before they could protest, she was starting for the door. 

“Are you coming?” she asked while looking back at them. 

Without hesitation, they started after her. 

Brooke Taylor

“I can’t believe Jordan asked him to come here,” Brooke said as she and Stormy stood in a corner of the drawing room.  Her eyes were transfixed onto Nathan, seething with anger and resentment over the hell he’d put her through years before. 

“He always was a big Nathan supporter, but that changed after what he did to Sierra,” Stormy reasoned.  “It was Jordan and David who tricked him back to Paris so he could face criminal charges against all those women he attacked.”

“But what about the women he attacked here?” Brooke demanded.  “Shouldn’t he be arrested now that he’s back in the states?” 

“The D.A. finally dropped the charges,” Eddie said as he approached.  “I just did some investigating.” 

“How?”  Stormy asked incredulously. 

“I’ll give you one guess,” Eddie said.  Jackie.  She persuaded the Governor to commute his sentence in lieu of his time served in Paris.” 

“Of course,” Brooke said and dropped her hands to her sides.  “After all, what good is a post with the Government if you can’t get your husband off of rape charges?”

“Looks like Uncle Nathan’s free and clear this time,” Stormy said with a shake of his head.  He turned to Brooke.  “Don’t let it bother you.  He can’t hurt you this time, Brooke.” 

She hoped he was right.  After all, Nathan had been the catalyst in her relationships with James and Ethan.  He’d told Ethan that Will Thomerson was his father, which sent Ethan into a drunken stupor for weeks.  Then he told James that Michael was Ethan’s son and not his.  And on top of all of that, he’d nearly made her his next victim. 

Shivering from the awful memories, she wrapped her arms around herself and tried to concentrate on what was important.  She obviously couldn’t count on Ethan since his return from the dead, and Kyle was a silly distraction that she couldn’t seem to shake.  She had to worry about herself and her son.  Nothing else mattered. 

Suzanne Rogers

Brett found Suzanne sitting alone in the study but decided to let her be.  He’d been trying unsuccessfully to reach her for a week.  Her detachment seemed to get worse with every day that passed.  He wondered exactly how much influence Warren Abbott had on her.  He decided that tomorrow he would resume his investigation into the self imposed guru. 

Turning, he started back toward the dining room when he ran into Kelly.  She offered an apologetic smile and gestured to the door. 

“I was just on my way out,” she said.  “I don’t think Stormy and Miranda like me being here anyway.” 

“It was still nice of you to come,” Brett said, his hands dug in his pockets.  “I haven’t had a chance to see you since you got back.  How is everything going?”

She sighed.  “Well, everyone at the mansion hates me.  I have no money and no job.  But other than that, it’s peachy.” 

Brett laughed in spite of the circumstances.  “Are you wanting to do some acting again?”

She shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I think I’m enjoying spending time with R.J.  I just wish there was some kind of balance.” 

Brett grinned while looking across the room where Stormy was standing.  “Maybe we could get you something small in The Benefactor remake.  Something that might give you some extra income but still time at home with the boy.  I know how important it is to have time with your kids.” 

“Oh yeah, you have a little girl,” Kelly said.  “So your wife is…?”

“She’s….away.” 

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Kelly said, shifting her weight coyly.  She gave him a look once over and bit down on her fingernail.  “Well, if you ever want to set up a play date, just let me know.” 

Brett smiled.  “I will.  And let me know if you’d be interested in an audition.” 

"Audition?"

"For the movie," he clarified.  He could tell she was toying with him.  Under normal circumstances, he might even go along with it.  

With that, he walked back into the dining room.  Kelly watched him go before she made her way to the front door.   When she emerged into the gray, gloomy day, she began to consider how much more than a job Brett Armstrong could offer her. 

Blake Distefano

Mackenzie made her way into the kitchen with an empty coffee pot in hopes of flagging down a maid to get a refresh.  When she entered, however, she found something that she hadn’t been expecting.  

“Sorry,” she said awkwardly while trying to find a graceful way to back out of the room.  

Blake and Sheldon broke from their kiss and looked nervously at her. 

“We were just-“ Blake started. 

“It’s okay,” she said, waiving her hand and backing out of the room.  “I’ll just….I’ll have iced tea.” 

On her way out of the kitchen, she bumped into Miranda. 

“Sorry,” Miranda said and moved aside as Mackenzie flew out of the room.  When she turned, she saw Blake and Sheldon standing awkwardly across the room.  “Everything okay, guys?”

“I’m going to go grab some food,” Sheldon said to Blake before leaving. 

After he’d gone, Miranda walked toward him with an inquisitive look on her face.  “Blake?  Is everything okay?  Did something happen with you and Sheldon?”

“What do you mean?” he asked with wide eyes.  

“That tension just now,” she said and gestured between him and the spot where Sheldon had been standing.  “Was Sheldon being a douche bag again?  If he was bothering you just tell me and I’ll handle it.  I’ve dealt with him before and I’ll do it again.” 

Blake shook his head as he walked across the kitchen.  “No, he wasn’t bothering me.” 

“It just looked like I walked in on something, that’s all.”  She followed him across the room.  The heels of her shoes tapped on the marble floor.  “Hey, you can talk to me.  If it’s about Benji, I’m here for you.  Eddie and I both are.” 

Suddenly and without warning, he broke into tears.  Miranda quickly went to him and tried to pull him into an embrace but he turned away on his crutches.  His back turned to her, he wiped his eyes. 

“Benji wasn’t just my best friend, Miranda,” he said, sniffling.  “I loved him.” 

She reacted with silence, folding her hands before her as she looked at him.  “You were very close for a long time,” she said.  “Of course you loved him.“

“I mean I was in love him,” Blake interrupted.  “I had been ever since I can remember.” 

“Blake, I-“  She was dumbfounded.  “Did he know how you felt?”

He shook his head.  “I never told him.” 

“Oh, Blake,” she said softly.  This hadn’t been a conversation she expected to have today of all days.

“Do you know how hard it was to hang out with him every day wishing I could tell him but knowing he wouldn’t understand?” Blake asked.

“Maybe he would have,” Miranda said. 

He shook his head.  “No.  I mean, I know Benji wasn’t opposed to messing around with guys from time to time, but as far as real feelings go, he would have never felt the same way I did.  Do you know what it’s like to love someone so much that your heart physically hurts?  Knowing that you could never have them?”

Miranda looked away.  She really didn’t.  She loved Eddie and she wanted to be with him very much, but the kind of love that Blake described had evaded her for her entire life.  

“So does this mean that you’re….” she began, then stopped because she felt silly for asking.  “You’ve had girlfriends.  Summer Solomon and…” 

“I was only with Summer because she was in love with Benji,” he said, realizing how pathetic it sounded but at the same time feeling liberated for telling her.  “Somehow it made me feel closer to him.  Stupid, isn’t it?  Other than her, I’ve never had a real girlfriend.”

“It must have drove you crazy seeing Benji with Sierra.” 

Tears flooded his eyes as she shook his head in reply.  “No, because I knew it wouldn’t last,” he said.  “What kind of friend am I?  Not only was I in love with my best friend, but I didn’t even have faith that his relationship would work.  He loved her so much, Miranda.  That’s why none of this makes sense.” 

She pulled him close and wrapped her arms around him.  “Your heart was in the right place,” she said.  “Your feelings for Benji were a beautiful thing.” 

“I tried to get him to let me help him,” he sobbed.  “Now he’s gone and I’ll never have the chance to tell him how I felt.” 

A tear fell down Miranda’s cheek as she held him close.   It suddenly sunk in that if her baby turned out to be Eddie’s, they would be bonded forever.  She’d have a little brother of her own.  It made the fact that he confided in her all the more meaningful. 

Alex Reynolds

Alex spent the afternoon trying to avoid Nathan, but he appeared everywhere she went.  She didn’t fear him as she did in the past.  She felt stronger than she had in years.  Rehab had a lot to do with that, she decided.  This time, Nathan’s return felt more like a threat that could come between her and Jordan. 

“I’m upset that you’re not happy to see me,” he said when he cornered her by the dessert table.   “Aren’t you even going to ask me how prison was?”

“Leave me alone,” she said and made an attempt to run away.  

“Not so fast,” Nathan said and brought her back.  “Come on, Alex, can’t we put the past to bed?”  A pause while he reconsidered his choice of words.  “You know what I mean.” 

“You don’t scare me, Nathan,” she said boldly.  “Nothing you do can hurt me this time.  People believe me now.  They believe me that you raped me and all those young girls.  They believe Brooke that you tried to do the same to her.  You shouldn’t have come back here.” 

“Are you denying me the right to grieve over my own daughter?”

“You don’t seem that upset to me,” she said, folding her arms. 

Across the room, Stormy watched their exchange and wondered if his mother would be able to handle herself with Nathan this time.  The last time he returned it didn’t end well. 

“Thanks to Renee, I was denied the opportunity to get to know her.” 

“That’s the one good thing that’s come out of any of this,” Alex said, turned and started to walk away again. 

When Nathan grabbed her arm to pull her back, Stormy sprung into action.  He raced forward and pulled Nathan away from her. 

“Leave her alone,” he said.  “I mean it, Nathan.” 

“Ryan, so gallant these days,” Nathan said.  “You really are becoming the spitting image of your father when he was your age.”

“Just leave my mother alone,” he said with a glare. 

Nathan conceded by offering a nod of his head before turning and walking out of the room.  After he’d gone, Stormy looked at Alex and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. 

“Are you okay?” 

“I’m fine,” she said breathlessly.

He smiled.  “Look, I know I’ve come down pretty hard on you,” he said after a moment of awkward silence.  “I just want you to know that I’m done holding grudges.” 

Her face lit up happily.  “Does this mean that you forgive me?  Because Stormy, if I could take back what I did, I would do it in a heartbeat. “

“I know,” he said, taking her hand in his.  “I guess I’ve realized how important family is.  After what happened to Benji and Sierra, you can’t take anything for granted.” 

“I agree, Darling,” she said and hugged him tightly.  “Oh sweetheart, I’m so happy that you’re back in my life.  These past few weeks have been so miserable for me.” 

“Why don’t you come to the house tomorrow and see R.J.?” he asked. 

“Do you mean it?” 

“Yes,” he said with an affirmative nod of his head.  “You should be in your grandson’s life.” 

Renee DeWitt

Commotion brought Jordan out of the sun room and scouting around the gathering for the source.  All he heard was screaming and the hush of the crowd talking amongst one another. 

“Where is he?” he heard someone screech.   When he emerged into the foyer, he saw who it was. 

“Renee,” he said, alarmed that she had shown up.  Beside her, Kenny and T.T. stood by helplessly.   Brooke and Ethan were standing nearby and Mackenzie stopped in her tracks with two steaming cups of coffee burning her fingers. 

“How dare you hold a wake for your cretin of a son,” Renee hissed.  She marched forward and slapped him across the face.  “How dare you invite people into your home to mourn the loss of a cold blooded killer!” 

“Somebody needs to get her out of here,” Brooke whispered to Ethan.  “She isn’t ready for this.” 

He nodded in agreement and stepped forward.  A glance from Kenny told him that it wasn’t the time to try to stop her.  She was motivated by grief. 

“Renee, I’m sorry.  I never meant for any of this to happen,” Jordan said. 

“You knew he was deranged and you never did anything!” she screamed, tears staining her cheeks.

“Suzanne and I tried to help him but-“

“Suzanne was gone for most of his life.  You can’t blame Suzanne for this!  You did it!  You made him into the sick sociopath that he was and you let him take my Sierra from me!” 

“Renee, please,” Jordan said.  He hated that everyone was gathered around staring in judgment.  He hated that they all agreed with her.  Even if they didn’t say it, he knew they blamed him for what Benji did.  And why shouldn’t they?  He turned his back on him instead of reaching out to him. 

“Renee, let’s go,” T.T. said and gently pulled at her arm. 

“You know what’s crazy?” Renee said, pushing him away.  “I wish he hadn’t died.  I wish he was still here so I could look him in the eyes and tell him what a monster he is!” 

In the next room, Suzanne hid behind several other guests, watching in agony at her dear friend’s rant. 

From the dining room, the crowd parted when Nathan emerged into the foyer.  When Renee saw him standing there, her eyes flew open wide.  Glancing around the room, she called out to no one in particular. 

“What is going on here?” she demanded.  “What is he doing here?”

“I came when I heard about our daughter, Renee,” he said and took a step forward. 

His remark sent her into a tailspin.  Racing forward, she attacked him mercilessly, beating her fists against him until he was hunched onto the floor in a ball. 

“You are not her father!” she screamed.  “You are not!  Do you hear me?  You were nothing to her!  Nothing!” 

It took Kenny, T.T., and Ethan to pull her off of him.  When they did, everyone was looking on in shock.  Nathan remained on the floor until he was sure she’d been restrained.  Then he slowly rose to his feet and straightened his jacket. 

“You’re nothing,” Renee murmured sorrowfully as T.T. led her to the door.  “Nothing to her….” 

“Come on, let’s go,” Kenny said and escorted her outside. 

When they’d gone, everyone remained silent until Jordan cleared his throat and stood before them all. 

“I want to thank you all for coming today,” he said.  “But it’s time to go home.” 

And before anyone could react, he started up the stairs. 

James Blackthorne

As everyone left the house, Miranda approached Mackenzie who was collecting her coat and purse. 

“Have you seen my father?” she asked. 

Mackenzie shook her head.  “No.” 

“Well aren’t you going to wait and talk to him before you leave?”

Sighing, she walked to the door.  “I don’t think your father wants me around, Miranda.  He’s obviously dealing with something that I can’t help him with.  Tell him I said goodbye when you find him.” 

After she’d gone, Miranda dropped her hands to her sides in aggravation.  She began searching the rooms downstairs for him and finally found him drinking alone in Jordan’s study. 

“Daddy, everyone’s leaving,” she said and walked into the dimly lit room.  “Do you want to ride with me and Eddie and Stormy?”

“I think I’ll walk,” he said, staring blankly at the wall while swirling his drink around in the glass. 

“Walk?” Miranda asked with a frown.  “From Beverly Hills?  Daddy, you’re not making any sense.” 

“Nothing makes sense.” 

Sighing, she dropped her purse and coat on the leather sofa beside him and folded her arms over her chest.  “What’s going on with you?” she demanded.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t understand the way you’re acting.” 

“How should I be acting?” he asked and finished his drink. 

Frustrated, she began pacing erratically around the room.  “You’ve been off in your own world ever since we got here,” she said.  “Hanging out in the foyer or in here and drinking yourself into a stupor.  You’ve barely said a word to anyone.  I don’t get it.” 

“Miranda, I’m fine.” 

“No, you’re not fine.  You’re acting more upset about Benji than Jordan is.  All I want to know is why.”

Finally, he stood up and looked at her.  “Because it could have been one of you!” she shouted.    

“What?”

“It could have been you or Stormy that died,” James lamented. 

"Daddy, our circumstances are completely different,” Miranda said.

“Not by much,” he said.  “We could have easily turned out like Jordan and Heather and Benji.  You weren’t raised much different than they were.”

The door opened and Stormy walked inside.  “Everything okay in here?  Eddie was wondering if you were ready.” 

Miranda looked at him and then somberly at the floor. 

Stormy could tell that he’d walked in on something, prompting him to walk further into the room.  “What’s going on?” 

“I love you kids so much,” James said.  “I don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happened to you.” 

“Daddy, nothing’s going to happen to us,” Miranda insisted.

“Dad, what’s wrong?” Stormy asked. 

He pulled them both close, embracing them in his arms and closing his eyes tightly.  “Promise me that we’ll always talk to each other,” he said.  “We won’t get so caught up in our own lives that we drift apart.  Promise me.” 

“We promise,” Miranda said. 

“Stormy, you need to forgive your mother,” James went on.  “What she did isn’t worth throwing away your relationship with her.  She’s your mother and she always will be.” 

“I’m one step ahead of you, Dad,” Stormy said.  “Mom and I talked earlier.” 

He smiled happily and took their hands in his.  “Know that whatever happens I will always, always love you.  We’re unbreakable.” 

“We’re Blackthornes,” Miranda said with a smile. 

Jordan Rydell

Jordan watched from the bedroom window as the last car left the front driveway.  Silence filled the house once again, which he initially thought would be a relief.  But after a few moments alone in Benji’s room, he realized it was torturous. 

Turning, he walked to the bed and sat down.  He could still smell his cologne lingering in the air. He could still feel him all over the house.  He could hear the sound of his voice in his head. 

And despite all of that, he was finally beginning to realize that he wasn’t coming back.  The scents and the sounds were now replaced with the realization that he was alone. 

Crying silently, he hugged the pillow from the bed against his chest.  Within moments, he was sobbing. 

“I’m sorry that I wasn’t a better father,” he cried.  “Benji, I’m so sorry.” 

He laid down and cried himself to sleep, dreaming about his son for the first time since he’d died. 


Next time....

James gives Nathan an ultimatum.  Jordan continues to push Alex away.   Blake pleads with Miranda to keep his secret. Brooke can't resist Kyle, while Ethan begins to have a change of heart.

 

 

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