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Episode 141

 

Release Date:  June 15, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Nathan and James sparred over his return from prison.  Nathan later confessed to Jack that he wanted to return to the big screen.  Brett learned that Warren Abbott was a wealthy businessman from San Francisco and had been making regular cash deposits that matched those withdrawn from Suzanne's bank account.  When Brett tried to reason with Suzanne, she told him to leave her alone.  Later, Marilee told Suzanne about the break-in at Jordan's that Benji was supposedly responsible for.  Distraught, Suzanne returned to New Abbott to confront Warren.  Jane cautioned Miranda against taking over for Gemma, but Miranda insisted that she would make a difference to the girls, and added a few new members whom she pulled from the street.  Brooke put Ethan off so she could attend a meeting with Kyle about the marina expansion. Later, she and Kyle had sex in her office.  Ethan overheard a heated phone coversation of Mackenzie's.  When he asked her about it, she told him to mind his own business.  

 


  

Episode 141

"The Power Play"

 

The worst thing about being woken up in the middle of the night by the phone was that he was running on barely three hours of sleep a night.  The best thing was that he’d been in the middle of a dream that reminded him of every mistake he’d made with Benji.   After sitting up in the dark bedroom with Alex sleeping beside him, Jordan waited for the grogginess to wear off, then quickly dressed and left the house in a matter of minutes.  

By the time he got onto the Santa Monica Freeway, he was awake and alert, squinting through the glaring headlights in his path.  The clock in his Porsche read 3:45am, but he knew it was slow so it must have been closer to four o’clock.  Either way, it was far too early to be awake, and too late to be called to the scene of an attempted murder. 

Once he took the Pasadena exit, he maneuvered toward the Actors Retirement Village.  Upon arrival, he could see the blaring red and blue strobes from two police cars and an ambulance.  Standing just outside one of the residence halls were a smattering of spectators, most still dressed in their sleepwear. 

“Mr. Rydell,” a nervous, stout man with glasses and hardly any hair said as he approached.  “Dean Walchuk, Director of Operations.  Thank you for coming down.” 

“Where’s my mother?” Jordan demanded crisply. 

“I’m here, Jordan,” a voice said from behind.  When he turned, Lola approached him steadfastly.  “I don’t know why they had to call you.  It’s really not a big deal.” 

“They said somebody tried to kill you,” Jordan said with a wry expression.  “That’s a pretty big deal.”  He turned to Walchuk.  “What the hell happened?  I thought this place was secure.” 

The man stammered for a few seconds before a woman approached with a great deal of fanfare.  Dressed in a peach silk robe with fringed sleeves, an eye mask pushed up to her forehead, and a martini in hand, she addressed the entire group. 

“I’m afraid the perpetrator mistook me for Lola,” Blanche Elizabeth said.  She was the seventy-four year-old actress who’d appeared in a popular cop show in the sixties and seventies before appearing in several movies while in her fifties, the majority produced by Lamont 3 and Sunset Studios. 

How?” Jordan asked. 

Blanche placed a hand out before her.  “Picture a crazed killer stalking toward his prey, pillow outstretched, murder in his eyes and in his heart, with nothing driving his actions but the sheer desire to snuff out the life of his poor, hapless victim!”  

Jordan rolled his eyes and turned to Lola.

“We traded rooms two nights ago,” his mother explained.  “You know how I can’t sleep with crickets chirping and I swear there was one hiding out somewhere in my room.” 

“I sleep through anything,” Blanche added.  “Once at a party hosted by Don Ameche, I slept through a four piece jazz quarter playing the entire first act of All that Jazz.” 

“What happened?”  Jordan asked crossly.

Blanche shrugged.  “Well, I woke up in the morning and got a cab to my apartment on Seventh Avenue.”

“I mean what happened tonight,” Jordan said with a sigh.

“Oh, I woke up to find someone standing over me trying to smother me with a pillow!” she explained dramatically.  “I screamed but it was futile.  My vocal chords strained, my heart beating wildly, I clawed at the intruder and tried to push him off of me but he was too large.  I simply couldn’t do it.” 

“That’s when one of our security guards heard the commotion and stopped him,” Walchuk added.

“The guy ran off before I could call for back up,” offered the guard in question. 

Jordan scratched his head in confusion.  “But how do you know this person was after my mother?  Chances are it’s someone here who would have known she switched rooms.” 

“Because he left something behind,” Detective Rodriguez said when he approached and handed him a photograph.   “Is this or is this not your mother, Mr. Rydell?” 

Jordan looked at the picture, a headshot of Lola from some forty years before.  He hadn’t seen that particular photograph before, which was unusual because her apartment at one time had been filled with self portraits. 

“He left it on the bed before Harry chased him off,” Blanche exclaimed with a shriek, then quickly swallowed a couple of pills and washed them down with her martini. 

Jordan glanced between the photo, Rodriguez, and Lola.  “So somebody dropped a photograph.  It doesn’t mean anything.” 

“You could be right,” Rodriguez said.  “We just wanted you to be aware in case-“

“In case of what?”

“In case he tries it again,” Blanche said ominously. 

Jordan sighed and rubbed his temples with his fingertips. “Okay, I want someone posted outside my mother’s door every minute of the day.  No one goes in to see her unless you clear it with her or myself.” 

“Of course, Mr. Rydell,” Walchuk said and went through the motions of writing something down on a notepad.  No one gets in.” 

Quietly, Jordan led Lola off to the side of the crowd and placed a hand on her arm.  “Are you okay?  Do you want to come stay at the house for a few days?”

“Of course not,” Lola replied and pushed a few silver curls from her eyes.  “I’ll be fine, Jordan.  This was probably some fluke mishap.  Honestly, who would want to kill me?” 

Jordan simply leveled a you’ve got to be kidding look at her before returning to talk to Rodriguez.

Suzanne Rogers

Suzanne knew that Warren was in the next town for the night, and Ross and the rest of New Abbott never rose before sunrise, so she decided to take the opportunity to do some investigating.  After dressing, she crept out of her tent and emerged into the clearing, embers from the campfire smoldering in the fire pit.  Not wanting to waste time, she quickly embarked on her fact-finding mission.  Her first and most important stop was the cabin where Warren slept.

Since learning that her actions had caused a further rift between Jordan and Benji, she had spent hours berating herself.  How could she be so stupid as to fall for the manipulations of a man like Warren Abbott?  He’d taken her away from her family when they needed her most.  And while she was responsible for her own actions, she knew it was because of Warren’s promise of a better life that she grew dependent on him.  Now it was time to put a stop to it. 

Creeping into the cabin, she quickly went to work at searching for evidence that he was a phony.  She didn’t know what she was looking for, but she knew there had to be something she could use to disband his group of followers. 

Unfortunately, Warren was good about not keeping anything around, or at least not in his own cabin.  The place was practically bare.  Nary a trace of paperwork or even a note scribbled on a piece of scrap paper.   Frustrated, she left his cabin and continued around the camp.  When she came to a tent tucked back behind Ross’s, she stopped.  She had seen a lot of activity there before but never knew what was inside. As a matter of fact, the only one’s she’d seen going inside it were Warren and Ross. 

Carefully, she opened the door and proceeded inside.  To her surprise, the room was full of wooden boxes.  Supplies of some kind, she decided.  Nothing that could be of any use. 

But before she turned to leave, she saw a large drum positioned near the door with the word Explosives stenciled on the side.  Frowning, she attempted to see what it was.  The lid was sealed tightly and she didn’t want to make a lot of noise trying to get it open, so she went to one of the boxes to try to find something to pry it open with. 

When she opened one, however, she saw something that made her heart pound furiously inside her chest.  Guns.  Handguns and machine guns, along with ammunition, tucked away inside the wooden box. 

She opened another and found cases of thick wax.  Inside, sticks of dynamite and other assorted explosives were carefully encased.  Eyes wide, she backed up a few steps and placed a hand over her mouth.   What was Warren doing with enough weaponry and explosives to destroy an entire town?

Jordan Rydell

When Jordan returned home, the sun was just coming up.  Alex was quietly sipping coffee in bed when he walked into the bedroom and threw his keys on the dresser.  

“Where have you been?” Alex asked, twisting off the bed and approaching him.  “I woke up and you were gone.” 

“I got a phone call,” he replied briskly.  “A problem with Lola.” 

“Well, I could have helped,” she said, her face full of concern.  “You haven’t had a full night sleep in days.  I could have gone instead.”

You?” he asked with a chuckle.  “You and my mother aren’t exactly best friends.  I handled it.  I’m going to get a shower and do some work in my study.” 

“I thought we could spend some time together today,” she protested.  “Maybe go out to the beach and have a picnic or something.”

“Alex, I don’t want to do anything today.”

“I don’t want you to just lock yourself up in your study all day.  You need to be around people today.  Let me help you.” 

Frustrated, he grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her forcefully.  “How many times do I have to tell you, I don’t want your help!  I don’t want anybody’s help!” 

Frightened, she looked away and waited for him to release her.  Jordan wasn’t a violent man and she didn’t fear him.  What she did fear was that he was shutting everyone out to such a degree that he’d never let them back in.  

“Look,” he began, letting her go and running his fingers through his hair.  “I’m sorry.  I’m just trying to deal with this the best way I can.  I threw my son out of the house, turned my back on him and refused to listen when he asked me for help.  Because of that he died.  It’s not something I can just get over, so you’re going to have to bare with me.  I need time.”

“I realize that.  You can have all the time you need,” Alex said.  “All I ask is that you don’t shut me out.  Let me be there for you like you were for me when I got out of rehab, when I thought Stormy was dead, and when my entire family had turned their backs on me.” 

“But Stormy didn’t die,” he said and looked at her.  Did he?”

Sighing, she looked away because she couldn’t stand the pained expression in his eyes. 

“I think maybe you should go home,” he said while heading to the bathroom.

She turned quickly toward him, startled by his request but unsure of what to say. 

“I just need to be alone right now,” he continued before going into the bathroom and closing the door.  

Devastated, Alex turned and realized she had to do as he asked.  She had to step away and give him time.  As much as it pained her to do so.

Eddie Distefano

Eddie watched as Miranda slept soundly beside him in her bedroom at the Blackthorne mansion.  He leaned over and waived his hand in front of her to see if she reacted.  Once he was sure she was in a deep sleep, he quietly crept out of bed, careful so as not to disturb her. 

Dressed only in a pair of red and blue briefs, he went to the dresser and picked up her cell phone.  To his detriment, the keypad was locked and for the life of him he couldn’t think of what the password was.  After trying a few birthdays and name combinations with no success, he gave up and set it back down. 

Scuffling outside in the hall alerted him to a presence, so he tip-toed across the room and peered out into the hall.

“Be quiet,” he whispered. 

“Did you get it?” Stormy asked from outside the door.  He looked him up and down and frowned.  “Jesus, you couldn’t put some pants on first?”

“Sorry, it wasn’t my top priority,” Eddie said with a hush.  “Her phone’s locked.  I don’t know the password.” 

“Did you try her birthday?”

‘Yes, idiot, I tried her birthday.” 

Stormy sighed.  “Then we’ll have to get on Facebook instead.” 

“She only has three friends on Facebook, me you and Jane.” 

“Oh,” Stormy said, then scrunched his face up.  “My sister doesn’t have many friends, does she?”

“I’ll keep looking,” Eddie said.  “I think she has an old address book.” 

Quietly, he closed the door and turned to make sure Miranda was still asleep.  He went to the nightstand by the bed and quietly opened the drawer.  Nothing but romance novels and a neck massager. 

“What’s this for?” he whispered to himself. 

With a shrug, he closed the drawer and went to her desk.  When Miranda started stirring in the sheets, he quickly stepped up his efforts.  In the drawer, he noticed a black binder and quickly skimmed through the pages.  Jackpot.  Inside were pages of names complete with phone numbers and email addresses. 

Pulling on his pants and rushing to the door with the address book, he slipped out into the hallway just as Miranda opened her eyes.  Safely out of sight, he trotted down the hall and went into Stormy’s bedroom where he and Jane were laying on the bed. 

“Hey!” Stormy exclaimed.  “Ever heard of knocking?  We could have been naked.”

“You were just down the hall,” Eddie said and pointed.  “Oh forget it.  Look, I found an address book.”

“Perfect,” Stormy said and reached over Jane.  “Instant guest list for her baby shower next month.” 

“She is going to be so surprised,” Jane said, placing a hand on Stormy’s back.  “This is really sweet of you guys to do.  I know Miranda doesn’t usually like this type of thing, but once she sees her friends there she’ll be glad she did it.”  

“That’s the kind of guys we are,” Stormy said and kissed her.

Eddie rolled his eyes and turned just as Miranda walked in, sleepy-eyed and pregnant stomach protruding in her nightgown.

“Hey babe,” he said, turning and discreetly handing the book to Stormy behind his back.  “You’re up.” 

“Yeah.  What’s going on in here?” 

The three looked at each other for a few moments before looking back at her. 

“Well?” she asked, then shook her head with indifference.  “Fine, don’t tell me.”  Slowly, she turned back to the door.  “I’m going down for breakfast.  When you’re all done with your threesome you can come down and join me if you want.  I'm starving."  

After she’d gone, Eddie turned back and let out a deep breath.  “That was close.” 

“You guys should start calling people today,” Stormy said with a grin, holding the book tightly in his hand. 

Brooke Taylor

Brooke left the mansion early that morning so she could get an early start on business at Moonshadows.  While the impending marina expansion was still a source of concern, her main reason for starting her day at the crack of dawn was so she didn’t have to see Ethan.  The guilt over standing him up the night before ate away at her, especially after what transpired between her and Kyle in her office. 

Sunglasses on to shield her eyes from the bright morning sun, she entered the administrative office building and proceeded directly to her office.  Her secretary, Marcia, was already positioned at her desk in the reception area. 

“Morning Brooke,” she said. 

“Morning Marcia.  Is Kyle in yet?”

“Not yet.  Want me to have him see you when he gets in?” 

“No, that’s okay.”  She slipped into her office and closed the door, relieved that she’d made it there before he did.  She didn’t know how she was going to look him in the eye after what happened.

Taking off her sunglasses and throwing her purse on the white leather sofa, she became transfixed to the spot where they’d made love.  It had been undeniable hot, just as sex with Kyle had always been.  She couldn’t get the image of his naked body out of her mind.  Why was he such a weakness to her?  He’d done despicable things.  The old Brooke would have never let herself be taken in by him and his charm and sex appeal.  Maybe Ethan was right.  She’d changed a lot over the past two years. 

Forcing herself to push the thoughts from her mind, she sat down at her desk and opened the file on the marina expansion.  A knock at the door alerted her to a visitor and she cringed, knowing full well it was Kyle. 

Sighing, she walked to the door just as Ethan entered with Michael in tow.

“Mommy!” the six-year old squealed and threw his arms around her legs. 

“Hi sweetheart,” she said, kneeling down and giving him a quick squeeze.  She looked up at Ethan.  “What are you doing here this early?”

“Michael wanted to go to the playground, so what could I do?” he said with a grin and ruffled the boy’s hair.  “You were up and out early today.  Are you avoiding me?”

“What?” she asked nervously.  “Why would you say that?"

“Well, you didn’t come home till late last night, then this morning you were out the door before sunrise.  I thought we were going to talk.” 

“We are,” she said with a smile.  “Just as soon as I get this mess with the marina expansion straightened out.  I’m sorry I’ve been distracted.  I really do want to talk.” 

“Good,” he said with a grin.  “Because I think we have a lot to discuss.  I’m starting to realize how one-sided I’ve been acting since I came back.” 

“You are?” she asked with surprise.  When he told her he wanted to talk, she assumed it was to berate her again for her agreeing to work with Kyle.  Now that she knew it wasn’t, it made their passionate night of sex together seem all the more sordid and wrong. 

A long, lingering look between them was interrupted when Kyle appeared behind them in the doorway.  Brooke immediately grew tense, positive that she was going to say or do something to blow things out of the water. 

“What’s going on here?” he asked, placing a hand on Michael’s shoulder.  “Bring your family to work day?”

“My daddy’s taking me to the playground!” Michael shouted. 

“He is?” Kyle asked, flashing Brooke a smile.  “That sounds like fun.”

“We just came by to see if you’d like to join us,” Ethan said to Brooke.  “What do you say?  Care to test your skills on the monkey bars?” 

Brooke purposefully avoided Kyle’s smoldering stares.  “Actually, I would.”  She tickled Michael in the stomach.  “I intend to give this monkey a run for his money.” 

Kyle noticed the pleased look on Ethan’s face and quickly went to stop it from going any further.  “Actually, we have that breakfast meeting with Chip Matthews.  He has the revised plans for the marina.”

“Already?” Brooke asked.  “Wow, that was fast.” 

“Well, after we met with him yesterday I called his boss and put a heavy thumb on it,” Kyle said, obviously pleased with himself.  “I’ve got a table ready at the Sierra Room.” 

“Oh, okay,” she said, then offered Ethan an apologetic look.  “I guess I’ll take a rain check on the monkey bars.” 

He nodded, a look of disappointment on his face.  “Yeah, sure, that’s fine.  Come on, champ, let’s go.” 

“Bye mommy!” Michael yelled. 

“Bye sweetheart,” she said.

As they left, Ethan met Kyle’s stare with a penetrating look. 

“Sorry,” Kyle said with a smarmy grin once they were alone.  “I thought you’d be pleased about breakfast.” 

“No, I am,” she said casually.  “I’ll just grab my things.” 

Kyle smiled, watching her walk to her desk and then turning and staring at the spot where they’d made love the night before.

James Blackthorne

After being counseled by Kenny at lunch the other day, James decided it was time to knock the walls down between him and Mackenzie.  They’d had a good thing going for a few months and despite its rocky times, it still felt very right to him.  He hadn’t felt this way about a woman in a long time, so it made sense to try to work things out with her.  After all, their problems weren’t big.  Most of the time it was their own stubbornness or lack of communication that were to blame. 

Someone at the Young at Heart studios informed him when he called that Mackenzie was on set, but in her office behind closed doors.  He decided an impromptu visit was in order, much like hers when she showed up at his hotel room in New York a few weeks before.  

Armed with low carb bagels because she always seemed to be watching her figure, and two cups of steaming coffee, he knocked on her door with his elbow and tried balancing his offerings in his hands while shimmying open the door.  

“Hungry?” he said. 

She looked up and smiled.  “Famished.  This is a surprise.” 

“I thought it was time we stop dinking around,” James said matter-of-factly. 

“I didn’t know we were.”  She rose from her seat and rifled through the box of bagels until she found an oat bran.  “I don’t dink around.”

“I just feel like we haven’t been connecting.  But things are calmer now.  My family seems to be going on with their lives and they don’t need my help so that means I can concentrate on us.” 

“Until the next disaster happens,” Mackenzie said guardedly.  

“That’s not fair,” James told her.  “Every family goes through tough times.  But things are finally good.  I’m happy.  I just want to share that with someone.” 

Realizing he was right, Mackenzie walked out from her desk and perched on the edge.  “You’re right.  There’s no reason why we shouldn’t spend time together and see where this thing goes.  We have chemistry.” 

“I like that,” James said with a grin as he moved toward her.  Their lips met in a soft, wet kiss.  “You’re a challenge, Mackenzie Stone, but I’m up for it.” 

“You sure?” she asked.  “I’ve been told I’m a handful.” 

“That you are,” he replied with a laugh. 

A knock at the door interrupted them and Mackenzie sighed with exasperation.  “Come in,” she said, mouthing an apology to James.

When the door opened, a crew member entered with an enormous bouquet of red roses.  “Look what just arrived for you!” she said, excited. 

James immediately pulled back, eyeing the flowers and then gauging Mackenzie’s reaction.

“What on earth?” she asked, directing the woman to set them on her desk. 

“It’s not your birthday, is it?” the woman asked. 

Mackenzie shook her head.  “No.  Thanks, Melissa.  That will be all.” 

Disappointed that she didn’t get to see who they were from, the woman ducked out of the office and left them alone.  

“Someone wants you to know how they feel,” James said while trying not to sound jealous.

“They not from you?”

He shook his head uncomfortably.

Mackenzie plucked a card from the arrangement and opened it.  Great seeing you again, Love Mason,” she read silently to herself. 

When she didn’t offer up any explanation, he decided to take it upon himself to get to the bottom of the lavish arrangement.  “Who are they from?”

Blinking away a look of sheer panic, she shoved the card back in its tiny envelope and forced herself to smile.  “An old friend.  Nobody important.” 

He regarded her carefully.  “An old friend who has this kind of affect on you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said. 

James decided to drop it.  They weren’t close enough yet for him to be jealous over flowers from an ex-boyfriend.  “Well, they’re very lovely.”  He made a move toward her again.  “Just like you.” 

Her body suddenly rigid, she placed a hand alongside her head and winced uneasily.  “You know, I’ve suddenly got a terrible headache.  I think I’m going to go home for a bit and lie down.” 

James frowned while watching her scramble for her purse.  “Do you want some company?” he asked disarmingly. 

“No, I think I just need to be alone,” she said and headed for the door.  “I’m sorry, James.  We’ll do this again, okay?” 

Dumbfounded, he stood and watched as she flew out of the office.  A quick glance back at the flowers prompted him to pick the card up and read it.   Just as he thought, they were from someone she obviously had been with recently.  Whoever Mason was, they obviously meant something to one another.  Jealousy quickly overtook him. 

Sighing, he picked up his coffee and walked to the door.  He shouldn’t be surprised, he told himself.  Mackenzie was a beautiful, vibrant woman with loads of charisma.  She probably had a slew of ex-boyfriends clamoring for another chance with her. 

Suddenly it seemed that their reconnecting was nothing but a pipe dream.  Some things weren’t meant to be. 

Stormy Blackthorne

In his office at Sunset Studios, Stormy paged through the business plan for Titan Records’ west coat operation that T.T. had messengered over.  The offer, though out of the blue, did capture his interest.  He was tired of battling for control over Sunset Studios with Brett, who after everything he’d done, was still his father’s golden boy.  But if he stepped down from the studio, he’d be handing the reigns over to his former brother-in-law.  Miranda had no interest in the business, Ethan had relinquished any involvement when he returned from the dead, and Brooke was now more interested in Moonshadows than the movie business.  A sigh escaped his throat as he realized there was a real danger of Brett becoming permanently ingrained in the family business.  He couldn’t let that happen.  He’d have to turn T.T.’s offer down. 

The sound of the door opening and closing didn’t immediately register with him.  Too lost in his own thoughts, he didn’t notice Nathan enter the room and slowly approach his desk.

“Well, if this isn’t a déjà vu I don’t know what is,” he announced.

Stormy looked up and frowned. “Pardon?”

“You sitting there at the helm of the studio,” Nathan explained.  “It’s like looking at your father twenty-five years ago.” 

Stormy smiled meekly.  “Great,” he murmured.  “What are you doing here, Nathan?”

The question seemed to instill the confidence that his presence was welcome, so Nathan sat in the chair across from him and half-crossed his legs.  “Isn’t it obvious?” he asked after a few moments of deliberation. 

“Uh…no.”

“My return to Hollywood has been unmarked with scandal,” Nathan continued.  “I feel that I’ve finally shed myself of the vicious rumors that were circulating around me at one time.  The people are ready for a comeback.” 

“A comeback?” Stormy asked with a scoff.  “Like last time?  You skipped town in the middle of production on Donnie & Johnny.” 

“I was tricked into returning to Paris,” Nathan corrected him.  “Of course I would have loved to see Donnie & Johnny make it to the screen.  Unfortunately, your father and David Jennings had other ideas for me.” 

Sighing, Stormy sat back in his chair.  “Well, I’m not sure what I can do to help you.  My father calls the shots and I don’t see him casting you in another picture.” 

“Not even The Benefactor?” Nathan asked.  “I made that film what it was in the sixties.  It’s a cult classic.  The remake begs for me to appear.” 

“In what role?” Stormy asked incredulously.  “No offense, but you’re a little old to play Norton again.”

Nathan laughed.  “You obviously haven’t done your homework.  The original script that Jonas commissioned in sixty-seven described Norton as a man in his sixties.  His experience and wealth of knowledge was what made him such a perfect choice to lead the expedition.  Norton was the benefactor.  I only got the role then because Jackie insisted her father give it to me.  Of course now I know that was probably a way to distract me from her affair with Royce Jennings.”

Stormy didn’t want to argue with him.  The more he fueled his fire, the more off subject the conversation would steer.  It was par for the course with his great uncle. 

“You’re just going to have to talk to my father and Brett,” he told him, putting his hands up to signify his constraints. 

“Armstrong?” Nathan asked.  “Frankly, I’m surprised you’ve let him ingratiate himself into the family like this.  Sunset Studios was always a family business, Ryan. Jonas started it with his two brothers.  That’s where the name Lamont 3 came from.  Then he died and James took over and it remained a family run business.   Now we’ve got Brooke Taylor and Brett Armstrong putting their paws all over it.”

Stormy scowled.  “Brett’s only involved because of you,” he insinuated.   “You married Jackie so she could have your ten percent, then when she left town she gave them to Brett.” 

A smile crept across Nathan’s suntanned face as he uncrossed his legs and crossed them again in the opposite direction.  “Well, now I’m back.  All it would take is one vote from a shareholder and I reclaim my proxy votes.  Armstrong would be left without a single claim to the studio.” 

The prospect gave Stormy pause.  A way to remove Brett from his position in Sunset Studios?   How could he not take it?  

“Why do you need a vote?  If the shares are yours, why can’t you just take them back?”  he asked. 

“Red tape created by Jonas in his will,” Nathan explained.  “Once shares are transferred, the new owner has to relinquish them.  If they refuse, a vote is called.  Since there are only two other shareholders, a tie automatically goes to my favor.” 

“So basically my father or Brooke have to vote to give you your shares back,” Stormy surmised with a frown.  “You might as well forget it.  Neither one of them is going to go for that.” 

“That’s why you have to convince them,” Nathan said and rose to his feet.  “Of course, there’s always the alternative.  You could continue taking orders from Brett Armstrong.” 

The notion was nauseating.   Stormy knew he had to find a way to convince his father or Brooke to return Nathan’s shares.  It was the only way to protect himself and his son’s legacy.

Suzanne Rogers

Meditation took place every morning at New Abbott, so in an effort to appear inconspicuous, Suzanne joined with the same vigor and dedication that she always had since first arriving at the compound.  As Warren led the group in their daily exercises, she took the opportunity to brainstorm on her next move.  The first thing was to find out why there was an arsenal of weapons in a place where peace and serenity were so highly valued. 

Opportunity arose after meditation when Ross approached and asked if she wanted to go for a walk.   She anxiously accepted his offer and ambled along the rocky terrain away from the camp. 

“New Abbott is in danger of being run off again,” he confessed to her after a few moments of silence.  “I wanted to tell you personally because you’re a valued and trusted confidant to myself and Warren.  The rest of the camp doesn’t know.” 

“What will happen?” she asked, pushing her hair over her ears and desperately trying to gauge his expressions.  It was impossible to tell what was real and what wasn’t when it came to anything he said. 

“We’ll have to relocate somewhere else,” he said.  “Unless we can come up with more money to build our defenses.” 

It wasn’t the first time Suzanne had heard them talk about defending the camp against outsiders.  Maybe that’s what the explosives and the guns were for.  She decided that since he trusted her so much, it wouldn’t hurt to tell him that she knew about the secret tent. 

“I know about the tent next to yours,” she confessed.

He stopped and looked into her eyes.  “What do you mean?”

“The tent that we were instructed to stay away from because of its sacred values or whatever,” she said.  “I saw what was inside.  Is that what you mean by defending the camp?”

Silently, he continued walking. 

"You can trust me, Ross,” she said.  “Tell me.  Who are you defending the camp from?”

“People who don’t want us here,” he replied vaguely.  “They don’t understand what we stand for.” 

“Really?  Peace and self empowerment?  Who wouldn’t understand that?”

“Because of Warren,” he said.  “There are people who disapprove of him.  He has enemies.” 

Suzanne raised an eyebrow.  Based on what Brett had told her, Warren was a wealthy businessman from San Francisco.  Wealthy because he’d conned other people into giving him everything they had just like she had.   So if that were true, the arsenal of weapons and explosives didn’t make sense.  If someone wanted them to relocate, he would relocate.  In the end, the financial gain would be well worth it.   Something didn’t add up to her. 

Commotion back at the camp alerted them to a situation.  A look of concern crossed Ross’s face, and moments later he was running back to the camp.  Suzanne followed, anxious to see what was going on. 

When they arrived, Warren and the others were gathered on the hill staring at an abandoned jeep in the clearing.  Drawing closer, they saw Linda and one of the other followers rifling through the compartments. 

“What’s going on?” Ross asked. 

“We have a visitor,” Warren told him.  “One who appears to be hiding from us.” 

Suzanne looked at the jeep and wondered who had been driving it.  Something about it seemed vaguely familiar to her.  

“No registration,” Linda said when she emerged from the inside. 

“Maybe they broke down,” Suzanne said. 

“I love that you see the good in everything, Suzanne,” Warren said.  He turned to two male followers.  “Stand guard until they return.  I’ll be in my cabin.  I want you to bring them to me.” 

As the group turned to retreat to the camp, Suzanne continued staring at the jeep.  Slowly, she began to recognize it as the same one she’d ridden in months ago on the beach with Brett.  He’d surprised her one day and picked her up.  They’d driven along the coast with the top down and then made love by a fire beneath the cliffs. 

He’d come to get her.   The only question was, where was he?

Miranda Blackthorne

In the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Miranda placed a folder in each of the girls’ hands.  Sam and Veronica, two of the new additions to the organization, accepted them timidly. 

“These are your assignments for tonight,” Miranda said.  “Your rooms are reserved at the Beverly Wilshire.  Everything about the men you’ll be meeting is enclosed.  Their likes, dislikes, as well as a waiver in the event of an emergency.”

“What kind of emergency?” Sam asked with a cringe. 

Miranda realized she was being too cryptic for girls of their inexperience, so she quickly downplayed it.  “Like dirty sheets or running out of ice,” she said.  “The point is, these men have been clients of Gemma’s for a long time so they know the drill.  But if you feel uncomfortable at any time, I’m on speed dial.”  She handed them both a cell phone encased in blue and silver jewels.

“Mine’s a senator?” Sam exclaimed with wide eyes as she flipped open her folder.  “Oh my God!  I think I’ve seen this guy on TMZ.”

“Outside,” Miranda said and closed the folder for her.  “Don’t be flashing that stuff around in here.  Our clients expect anonymity and that’s what they’ll get.”  She was then quick to add, “as long as they hold up their end of the bargain.” 

If anyone had ever told her she would be employing sixteen call girls for a living while being six months pregnant, she would have laughed in their faces.  While prostitution was mainstream in Hollywood, she still felt a little dirty for being involved.  Not to mention the fact that it was illegal.  What she didn’t need was to give birth in prison and only see her baby on visitation days.  The prospect made her proceed with total caution. 

“Are you okay?” she asked them when they stared blankly at their files.  “Because if you’re hesitant about this, you don’t have to do it.  There are other ways to make a living.  I’m just giving you an option.” 

“We’re fine,” Sam said with a vague smile.  “A lush suite at the Beverly Wilshire beats the back of some john’s car in an alley off Hollywood Boulevard.” 

“Yeah.  Thanks, Miranda.” 

Miranda smiled in return.  Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all. 

Jane Wheeler

Jane had an early shift at the restaurant so Eddie took a booth by the window and pored over Miranda’s address book.  Every once and a while Jane would stop by his table to refill his coffee and see how the guest list selection was going.  

“Any luck?” she asked as she neared his table. 

“I haven’t really started,” he said with a guilty expression and held up his iPhone.  “Angry Birds distracted me.” 

Groaning, Jane grabbed his phone from him and pointed at the address book.  “Well focus.  If we don’t start planning this shower now, Miranda’s going to be in labor by the time we get everything figured out.” 

“Okay, okay,” Eddie said sheepishly and opened the black leather-bound book. “Gosh, you’re so bossy.  No wonder Stormy digs you.”

Folding her arms, Jane looked over his shoulder. 

“This is weird,” Eddie said as he flipped through the pages.

“What’s weird?”

“Well, I know Miranda doesn’t have many girlfriends besides you, but there are no women in here.” 

Jane frowned and looked at the fist page he turned to.  “She’s got to have more girlfriends than that.  What about girls she went to school with?”

Eddie regarded her with a scrunched up forehead and a raised eyebrow.  “You didn’t know Miranda in high school.  She was a nightmare.”

“Even still…”

“And what the hell is this?” Eddie asked, pointing to a name on the list.  “Jim Nordquist, 12727 Sierra Vista.   There’s even a note next to his name.  8:30pm.  Beverly Wilshire.  Room 1305.”

“Oh my God,” Jane said, realizing finally dawning.  It wasn’t Miranda’s address book they were looking at – it was Gemma’s book of clients.   Panic immediately set in, and she began cursing her friend for her negligence with the information. 

“I know.”  Eddie looked at her with a horrified look on his face.  “She’s meeting some guy at a hotel!  Can you believe it?”

“No, Miranda wouldn’t do that,” Jane said, closing the book and attempting to grab it from him.  “I’m sure there’s an explanation.” 

He tugged at the book.  “Yeah, my pregnant girlfriend is meeting Jim Nordquist at the Beverly Wilshire!  Not many explanations for that, Jane!” 

Desperately, she tried to think of a way to calm Eddie’s suspicions without telling him about Miranda’s new profession.  “Maybe she’s opening another hotel and wants to get decorating ideas.” 

“Yeah, that’s probably it,”  he said with a roll of his eyes.

“You think?” Jane asked, hoping it didn’t sound too weak.

“No!” Eddie exclaimed and shot up from the booth.  “First she messes around with David Jennings and now some guy from the valley?  Well nobody treats Eddie Distefano this way.” 

“Eddie, what are you going to do?” Jane asked, panicked as he raced to the door. 

But he was already bolting outside into the bright morning sunlight.   Frustrated, Jane turned and dug her phone from her apron so that she could call and warn Miranda. 

Kyle Fenwick

As Brooke sat across from Kyle on the veranda at the Sierra Room, she couldn’t help but feel as though he were staring at her.  Looking up from her notes on their last meeting with Chip Matthews, she caught him grinning at her. 

“What is it?” she asked. 

“What?”

“You’ve been staring at me for the past twenty minutes,” she complained.  “I would ask if I have anything in my teeth, but we haven’t eaten yet.  What time was he supposed to be here?”

“So he’s a few minutes late,” Kyle said with a shrug.  “And can you blame me for staring?  You look positively beautiful today.” 

A sigh escaped her throat as she slid out from the table and prepared to rise to her feet.  “I’m going to call him.” 

“Wait,” he said, his eyes pleading with hers.  “I’m sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  I just can’t stop thinking about last night.  You have to admit it was hot.” 

Uncomfortably, she sat down again so as not to create a scene.  “Regardless of how good the sex was, it was wrong.” 

“I don’t think it was wrong at all,” he said.  “It seemed very right to me.” 

“We shouldn’t be together like that.  We work together now.  It’s very inappropriate.” 

“When is sex appropriate?” he asked with a grin.  “Brooke, we’re both adults.  We knew what we were getting into.  You wanted me and I wanted you.  I think you’re making too much out of it.”

“That seems to be your reasoning for everything.  I was making too much out of your keeping the truth from me about Ethan.   I was making too much out of the fact that Mackenzie is your sister.  Tell me, do you have a conscious at all?” 

“Yes, I have a conscience.  I also had reasons for everything I did.  Reasons that have everything to do with how I feel about you.  Just give me a chance to prove it to you.” 

“I can’t,” she said.  “Ethan is….”

“Ethan is what?” he cut her off.  “He’s finally showing some interest in you so you’re just going to wait around and see if he makes a move?  Come on, Brooke.  You’re worth more than that.” 

Growing irritated by the conversation, she looked at her watch again.  “I think we should call. He’s half an hour late.” 

Sighing, Kyle stood up.  “I’ll call.” 

After he’d gone, she stared out at the ocean and tried to put the image of last night in her office out of her mind.  Hot didn’t even begin to describe how she felt about their encounter.  Kyle may be cocky and full of himself, but he had every right to be.  She’d never been with a man who was such an expert at pleasing her. 

Ethan, on the other hand, had also been a fantastic lover.  They differed in many ways but in that department they did not.  With Kyle it had been sweaty and passionate, while with Ethan it had been erotic and sensual.  And while sex was important, she ultimately had to think of her own happiness and the well being of her son.  

Her thoughts were interrupted when Kyle returned to the table and sat down across from her.  

“Looks like I got my times mixed up,” he said with an apologetic shrug.  “Sorry about that.” 

Brooke leveled a penetrating gaze on him.  She knew him better than he thought she did, and she could see right through him.  “You just got the times mixed up?” she asked with a disbelieving tone to her voice. 

“Yeah.  I guess it was too good to be true that he’d have a new proposal drawn up already.”

Shaking her head in amusement, she began gathering her things from the table.  “Yeah right,” she said.  “You know, I thought you might be on the level for once, but I see you haven’t changed a bit.” 

“What are you talking about?” he asked.  “My calendar went berserk today and I messed up.  What else would be going on?”

“You trying to keep me from spending time with Ethan this morning, that’s what,” she said and rose to her feet.  “Is this what you’ve resorted to?  Petty high school games?  You know, I may be gullible at times but I’m not a complete idiot.” 

“I never said you were gullible or an idiot,” Kyle protested. 

“Next time you want to call a meeting, have Marcia arrange it with me first.  This whole morning has been nothing but a huge waste of time.  And what’s sad is that instead of getting closer to me, you’ve just pushed me further away.” 

Before he could respond, she was turning and darting inside the restaurant.  With a sigh, Kyle sat back down in his seat and cursed himself for his sloppiness.   If he was going to get Brooke back, he was going to have to be a little more inventive. 

Ethan Blackthorne

After leaving the children’s park at Moonshadows, Ethan led Michael up the hill to the parking lot. 

“Look!” Michael shouted while pointing to a purple rock on the ground. 

“I know, weird, huh?” Ethan said while opening the door and ushering the little boy inside.  “Buckle up.” 

As he waited to close the door, he heard yelling from across the parking lot and instinctively turned in the direction of the commotion.  To his surprise, Mackenzie was barreling up the path from the cabanas, a man whom he didn’t recognize following her and shouting angrily.  Curiously, he stopped and watched. 

“You’re not being reasonable, Mackenzie!” the man was shouting.  He appeared to be in his late thirties, fairly well dressed, and looked at Mackenzie with pleading eyes.

I’m not being reasonable?” she asked incredulously.  “I’m not the one who showed up after two years expecting a big fat welcome reception!”

“Is it wrong for me to want to see you?” he asked while grabbing her arm and pulling her back.   “Two years is a long time, Mac.” 

“It sure the hell is,” she said, her eyes flashing major danger signals.  “So why now?  Why show up here all the sudden?  What do you want?”

“Just to see you!” he lamented.  “You could show a little more appreciation.  I take time out of my life to come see you and you ignore my phone calls, berate me for sending you flowers, and then show up here demanding I stop contacting you.” 

“And yet you still don’t get the picture.  Let me make it perfectly clear.  I don’t want to see you, so get the hell out of my life!”

Ethan could tell things were growing more heated so he decided to step in.  Whether it was necessary or not, he didn’t know, but despite Mackenzie’s defiant nature, he could see the look of fear in her eyes. 

“Stay in the car, buddy,” he said to Michael before closing the door.  “Daddy just has to go talk to someone for a minute.” 

As he made his way across the parking lot, he saw the man grab Mackenzie by the arm again and pull her forcefully toward him. 

“Everything okay here?” he asked as he drew near.  “Mackenzie, is this guy bothering you?”

“I can handle it,” she said, pulling away from the man. 

“Yeah, mind your own business,” the man said, turning his powerful gaze toward Ethan.  “This is a private conversation.”

“Oh, because it looks like she doesn’t want to talk to you,” Ethan said.  “Why don’t you take a hint and leave her alone?”

The man’s full attention was now directed at Ethan.  He left Mackenzie’s side and approached him swiftly, eyes flaring angrily. 

“Why don’t you take a hint and get lost?”

Ethan could tell the guy was not going to back down.  “I’m not going to ask you again.  Leave her alone.” 

The man belligerently pushed his chest toward him, dark eyes penetrating into his as he drew his fist back in attack mode.  But before he could deliver a blow, Ethan kneed him in the gut and brought his hands swiftly down onto his head.  When the man staggered back a step, Ethan punched him hard in the nose.   Blood spattered from his nostrils and he fell back into the pavement. 

“Are you okay?” he asked Mackenzie, barely winded.

When the man stood up, he flashed a look of warning toward Mackenzie.  “This isn’t over,” he said, wiping blood from his nose.  He turned to Ethan and grinned smugly.  “And you better watch your back, friend.” 

As he retreated back down the path to the cabins, Mackenzie started toward her car.   Ethan quickly went after her. 

“What was that all about?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” she said while fidgeting with her key fob.  “You didn’t have to do that.  I can take care of myself.” 

“I’m sure you can, but that guy was a jackass.  I did it more for me than for you.  Who is he?” 

Regretfully, she turned to face him.  Mason Stone,” she replied.  “My ex-husband.” 

Stunned, Ethan watched as she got into her car and sped off through the parking lot.  For some reason he couldn’t fathom Mackenzie ever being married, let alone to a tool like Mason. 

Quickly, he returned his car and got inside.  As he did, Michael was jumping around in the seat with excitement. 

“Daddy, you really beat the crap outta that guy!” he exclaimed happily. “That was so cool!”

“Watch your language,” Ethan cautioned him.  “Put your seatbelt back on.” 

“Okay, but that was really cool,” Michael said while buckling himself in.  “How’d you learn how to fight like that, Daddy?  That guy was no match for you!”

As he pulled out of the parking space, Ethan had to remind himself that Michael was still unprivy to some of his recent activities.  The fact that he learned to fight while in prison was definitely not something he wanted to tell his son.  

Suzanne Rogers

After dinner that night, Suzanne decided to adjourn to her tent early.  She said her goodnights to Ross, Warren, and the others, while proceeding across the campsite amidst the glow of the fire pit.   She needed time to think.  Time to process what she was going to do to get back at Warren Abbott for taking advantage of her.  Not just that she was taken advantage of, but that her son had to be blamed for their actions.  

Stepping into her tent, she felt a hand clasp over her mouth.  She tried to scream out for help but it was useless.  Her eyes wide and her heart beating wildly in her chest, she struggled to get free of the powerful grasp. 

“It’s me,” came a whisper of a voice.  “Be quiet.” 

Slowly, he lowered his hand from her mouth and she turned.  To her surprise, it was Brett standing before her.   Panic turned to relief and she found herself embracing him warmly. 

“What are you doing here?” she asked. 

“I couldn’t let you come back here,” he said.  “Suzanne, I know you’re feeling rejected and confused because of everything that’s gone on in the past few months, but these people aren’t the answer.  They’re not your friends.  You have to believe me.” 

“I know,” she said.  “After you told me about Warren I started to realize that he really isn’t who he says he is.  Brett, it wasn’t Benji who broke into Jordan’s house and stole that stuff.  Jordan just assumed it was.  It was us.  Ross and I drove to L.A. and ransacked the house.  Warren said he needed money to protect the compound.” 

“Suzanne…” he said, drawing her into another embrace.  He could tell what it was doing to her.  The feelings over what transpired with Benji must be more than she could handle.   “I’m so sorry.”

“But now I’m starting to think they’re lying about that too,” she went on.  “I found a tent filled with guns and explosives.  Brett, I think they’re up to something.” 

“Suzanne, why did you come back here?” he asked.  “I think Warren Abbott is dangerous.  You shouldn’t be here.” 

She shrugged.  “I just couldn’t let him get away with it.” 

“Well I’m getting us out of here,” he admonished. 

“They’re guarding the jeep,” she told him.  “If they have guns then how are we-“ 

“I’ll take care of it,” he whispered.  “Just meet me on the hill when the rest of the camp goes to sleep.” 

“What are you going to do?”

“I’ll wait here until the coast is clear.” 

She took his hands in hers.  “I’m so glad you’re here,” she said. 

Smiling, he kissed her softly.  “I’m going to get us out of this,” he promised. 

Jim Nordquist

Jim Nordquist loved his wife and children, enjoyed his work as a California State Senator, and appreciated the finer things in life that his position had brought him over the years.  He seemingly had it all.  Underneath, however, he was a very unhappy man.  That’s why Gemma Sanders had been so instrumental in changing his outlook on life.  With his fetish for totally anonymous sex, she always provided a different girl who could fulfill his every fantasy.  Tonight was no exception.  He poured himself a drink while waiting patiently for the girl to arrive. 

Jane Wheeler

Jane had tried unsuccessfully to get in contact with Miranda all day.  Her phone was going straight to voicemail, so she left about a dozen messages.  When she got off work from the diner, she quickly changed and sped down to the Beverly Wilshire in hopes of stopping Eddie from doing something stupid.

She knew that Miranda would regret her decision to take over for Gemma.  Not a day into the gig and Eddie was already on the verge of finding out.  How did she expect to keep this from him?

When she got to the hotel, she scouted around the lobby for any sign Eddie.  As she did, her phone rang and she answered quickly after seeing that it was Miranda. 

“Where have you been?” she asked.  “I’ve been trying to call you all day.” 

“I had my phone off,” Miranda told her. “I’ve got another phone I use to contact the girls.  It’s better that way in case Eddie were to get a hold of mine.” 

“Brilliant,” Jane said and dropped her free hand to her side in resignation.  “But don’t you think you should pay the same careful attention to where you put Gemma’s client list?” 

“Huh?” 

“That address book thing in your bedroom.  Eddie thought it was yours and he took it so he could get names of people to invite to your shower.” 

“Oh my God!” Miranda exclaimed.  “He didn’t look at it, did he?  And how sweet of him!”

“Forget about the shower for now.  He not only looked at it, but he also now thinks you’re meeting someone in room 1305 of the Beverly Wilshire tonight.  I think he’s going to show up here, Miranda.” 

“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” Miranda chanted in a panic.  “Okay, I’m on my way down there.”

“I’m already here,” she said while looking around the crowded lobby.  “I don’t see him anywhere.”  A pause while she peered across the way to the elevators.  Her eyes narrowed on a tall lanky man standing by the elevators looking at his watch.  “Never mind.  He’s here.  I’ll call you back.”

Quickly, she hung up the phone and raced to the elevators.  The doors were closing but she slid in just in time.  Once inside the car, Eddie looked her up and down with surprise. 

“Jane?”

“I can’t let you do this,” she said.  “I know you think you know what’s going on, but you don’t.” 

“Just go home and let me deal with it,” he said, lurching forward when the elevator doors opened.  “Miranda’s my girlfriend, she might be carrying my baby, and I want to know if she’s screwing around on me.” 

“Eddie, just wait a second.”  She followed him fast on his heels but he was too quick.  In a flash, he was standing outside of room 1305 knocking firmly on the door.  Moments later, a man answered. 

“Is Miranda here?” he demanded. 

Jim looked at him blankly.  “Oh…Miranda?  Not yet.  Who are you?” 

“I’m the guy who’s gonna punch your lights out,” Eddie said while drawing his fist back and clocking him in the face.  He watched as the man stumbled back and hit the floor with a thud.  “She’s pregnant, you sick son of a bitch.” 

With that, he turned and retreated back down the hall.  Jane, feeling as though she should apologize to the man, closed the door and ran after Eddie. 

“Okay, you did your part.  Now let’s just go back to the diner and call Miranda and she’ll sort this whole thing out.” 

“Nope,” Eddie said and got into the elevator.  “I’m going to wait downstairs for her to show up.  That way I can catch her in the act.” 

As the doors closed, Jane stayed behind.  She quickly fished her phone from her purse.  “Miranda, whatever you do, do not come down to the Beverly Wilshire.” 

Blackthorne Mansion

When Brooke got home, she entered the foyer and saw James eating alone in the dining room.  Before going up to check on Michael, she ducked inside and walked toward him. 

“Where is everyone?” she asked. 

“Out,” he replied.  “You’re late getting home.  Busy day at Moonshadows?” 

“That’s an understatement,” she said and plopped into a chair across from him.   “I hope you weren’t expecting me.” 

He shook his head.  “No, I just got home a bit ago myself.  Want some dinner?”

“I’ll fix myself a sandwich later,” she said.  “Everything okay?” 

He sighed.  “It just never gets easier.” 

A smile crossed her lips.  “Let me guess.  Mackenzie.” 

Laughing, he pushed the plate away from him and took his napkin from his lap.  “Is it that obvious?” 

“It’s obvious that you care for her.  Is this still about what happened at the funeral?”

“You mean when I acted like a class A jerk?  No.  At least not that I’m aware of.  I think she’s interested in someone else.” 

“You’re kidding,” Brooke said.  “The two of you seemed so happy.  I can’t believe she’d have already moved on this quickly.  I mean, did you even ever officially call it quits?”

“No,” he said with a shrug.  “But maybe I missed something.  I haven’t exactly been a master dater.” 

Brooke stood up and placed a comforting hand on his.  “You’ll work it out,” she said.  “Have you seen Ethan?”

“No, he hasn’t come home either.  I’m not sure where he is.” 

Yacht Club

Ethan walked into the bar at the Yacht Club and found Mackenzie seated by herself at the bar.  Slowly, he ambled toward her and sat down two stools away.

“Are you serious?” she asked when she looked up at him.  “You’ve got to be following me.” 

“Why?” he asked with a grin.

“Because I’m getting a stalker vibe from you.” 

“Well, I was hoping I’d run into you here,” he told her.  “I’m just concerned, that’s all.  That guy earlier today seemed to really shake you up.”

“Mason Stone is not quite enough to shake me up,” she said.  “He’s an annoyance, yes, but I can handle myself around him.  Lord knows I’ve had a lot of practice.” 

“How long were you married?”

“Almost a year,” she replied.  “Back in New York.  I moved out here right after it ended.” 

“Care to talk about it?” Ethan asked.  No matter how hard she pretended to be, he could tell something about her ex got to her.  Whether it was fear or something else, he couldn’t tell. 

“No,” she said.  “I mean, we all have a past, don’t we?  You and Brooke have yours.  James and I have ours.  This is no different.” 

“Except it is different,” Ethan said.  “What is it about this guy?  I heard you talking to him on the phone the other day.  You don’t want him around.  I’m just wondering why.” 

 “You’re better off not knowing,” Mackenzie said and finished her drink.  “Stay out of his way if you run into him again.  Trust me.” 

As she rose to her feet and turned to leave, Ethan followed her.  He blocked her path, standing inches from her and staring down into her mesmerizing blue eyes. 

“There’s something about you,” he said.  “I can’t quite put my finger on it.” 

She smiled.  “Not many people can.  But what can I say?  I like to march to my own drummer.” 

“It’s more than that,” he said, his hand reaching out and resting on her waist.  “I notice it more every time we’re together.” 

She moved his hand away and clutched her purse beneath her arm.  “You’re very handsome, Ethan.  And that whole white knight thing today was very sexy, but I’m going to have to stop it there.”

“Stop what?” he asked, toying with her. 

“Well for starters, the love of your life is probably at home waiting for you.” 

“Brooke hasn’t exactly shown an interest in reconnecting with me.” 

“And things with James and I aren’t quite finished.  I need closure before I jump into bed with another man.” 

“I didn’t say anything about bed,” he replied with a sheepish grin. 

Drawn to his soft green eyes and strong facial features, she forced herself to look away.  “It’s still better if you stay away.  With Mason showing up in town, things could get ugly.  And you’ve already made a bad impression on him.  I’d hate for anything to happen to you.” 

“Do I look worried?” 

She smiled again before turning and leaving the bar.   Ethan watched her go, wondering what it was about her that he was so attracted to. 

Brett Armstrong

At sundown, Brett crept out of Suzanne’s tent and ambled around the perimeter of the camp.  He had to clear a path for him to lead Suzanne back to the jeep, but wanted to ensure they could proceed undetected first.   The fire had slowly died down to embers and a cool chill had enveloped the desert. 

Careful as to remain silent, started up the hill where he’d left the jeep.  Two men were positioned nearby standing guard.   Swallowing hard, Brett crouched down to the ground and waited to make his move.   How he was going to take down two of them was unclear, so he decided his only recourse was to distract them. 

Grabbing a rock from the ground, he threw it across the clearing and ducked.  As if on cue, the two men took off in the direction of the sound.   Quickly, Brett rose to his feet and started toward the jeep when something struck him on the back of the head.  Unconscious, his body crumpled to the ground in a heap. 

Standing above him, Ross gripped a rock in his hand and looked down at his motionless body. 

Jane Wheeler

Jane sat on a sofa in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire watching as Eddie paced back and forth.   He looked at his watch, at Jane, and then at the door before sighing and continuing his manic pace. 

“Eddie, let’s just go,” Jane said.  “Miranda isn’t coming.  I think you’ve got the wrong-“   She stopped when her eyes traveled to the door and saw her friend barreling through the doors.  With a sigh, she dropped her hands to her sides in resignation.  “Oh, and here she is.”

“Hi,” Miranda said and breezed across the lobby toward them.

“Right on cue,” Eddie said and looked at his watch.

“What do you mean?” Miranda asked innocently. 

“What are you doing here, Miranda?” Eddie asked. 

“I’m meeting a friend.  How did you know I was going to be here?”   She decided the key was to pretend Jane hadn't already warned her.  

Glaring, Eddie showed her the leather bound address book.  “I found this this morning in your bedroom.”  He opened to the page in question.  “Jim Nordquist.  Room 1305.  Ring a bell?” 

“Huh?” Miranda asked.  She stepped forward and took the book from him.  “Oh my God, you found it.  Eddie, where was it?” 

“In your bedroom!” he yelled.  “’Right out in the open for anyone to walk by and see all the skanky details!” 

“Eddie, this isn’t mine,” Miranda said, hoping to cover for her carelessness.

“Oh yeah, well whose is it?” 

“A girl who goes to the same OB as me,” she answered.  “We were talking in the waiting room last week and I must have picked up the wrong book.  I was supposed to meet her here to hand it off tonight but I panicked when I couldn’t find it.”   

Eddie laughed.  “Like I’m supposed to believe that?” he asked.  “Okay, so where is she?  This elusive friend from the OB?” 

“Miranda!” a voice called from across the lobby.  “Over here!” 

Miranda turned just as Sam approached.  “Hi,” she said.  “I’ve got your address book.” 

Sam’s face lit up and she took the book from her.  “Thank God.  My whole life is in here. I was just going up to meet my Uncle Jim from Sacramento.  Thank you so much for bringing it to me.”

“Well, I wanted to make sure you got it back,” Miranda said.  “See you at Dr. Mitchell’s next week.” 

“Bye!” Sam said and headed off to the elevator. 

After she’d gone, Eddie looked at Miranda with an apologetic look on his face.  “Sam?” he asked.  “From your OB’s office.” 

“Yeah, she’s just a couple months pregnant.  She’s a sweet girl.”

Eddie looked at Jane and then back at Miranda.  “Sorry,” he said.  “I don’t know what came over me.  I just got crazy for a minute when I saw all those men in that book.”

Miranda smiled.  “I forgive you.  Just next time ask me if you’re looking for something.  What did you need it for anyway?” 

Eddie looked nervously at Jane.  “Uh, nothing.  Just wanted to get the name of that….uh….”   Unable to think of a plausible excuse, he decided to leave it at that.  “Oh, hey, I forgot that I have to go meet Stormy.  See you girls later.” 

After he’d flitted away, Miranda held her hand up in acknowledgement of her disapproving look.  “Don’t say it,” she said. 

Jane simply shook her head as if to say I told you so.

High atop the hill on Torreyson Drive, Hugh Rogers stared out of the enormous floor-to-ceiling windows in his octagonal shaped house overlooking the city.  Swirling a brandy in a snifter gripped in his right hand, he heard the presence of someone enter the room behind him. 

“You found her, I’m assuming?” Hugh asked, his sinister eyes boring down on his tall assistant, Trevor.   Assistant sounded good to him. Henchman sounded positively dreadful. 

“We followed her to the Beverly Wilshire,” Trevor said, dapper in a black suit with matching tie and a sterling silver tie clip.  “She’s definitely turning tricks again.  I told you she wouldn’t get out of the business.” 

“Is she working on her own?” Hugh asked.  “That hardly seems like a smart business decision for a young woman like Sam McCarthy.” 

“Doubtful,” he said.  “The guy she was meeting was a California State Senator.  Hotel room costs more than what she used to make in a night working for you.” 

“Then who is she working for?” Hugh pondered, walking across the plush carpet into the sunken living room.   “That relic Gemma is in prison, so who else is there?” 

“Word has it that Gemma got a replacement,” Trevor told him.  “Whoever it is, do you think they could have taken Sam, Veronica and Farrah from you?”

Hugh gave a maniacal laugh.  “I sincerely hope not for their sake.  I’d hate to be the man….or woman who steals one of my girls – let alone three.  Find out if it’s true and if so, who this idiot is.   Then send a message from me.”

“Right away,” Trevor said before backing out of the room and closing the double doors behind him.  


Next time....

Brett and Suzanne discover Warren's plans.  Another incident occurs at the Actors Retirement Village, putting several residents in danger.  Stormy is chastised by Brooke.  Renee agrees to leave with T.T.

 

 

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