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Episode 143

 

Release Date:  July 5, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

While held captive at New Abbott, Brett tried to prey on Ross's insecurities about Warren.  Suzanne freed Brett but they were both captured.  Warren revealed his plans to kill them, then take the followers to a new compound.  They escaped and revealed Warren's true intentions to the camp.  After everyone left, Warren detonated bombs he'd left around the camp, then disappeared.  Brooke learned they need a variance to complete the marina expansion.  Mackenzie introduced Kyle and Mason, who later discussed the problems with the marina expansion.  Mason later met privately with Chip Matthews, the developer working for Moonshadows, and discussed their plan to gain access to oil reserves beneath the resort. Miranda arranged for one of her new call girls, Sam, to meet with a regular client, Senator Nordquist.  Hugh Rogers henchman, Trevor, told Miranda to give up her plans to take over for Gemma, but she refused to back down.  Later, she was run off the road in her car.  Stormy tricked Brooke into signing  shares of Sunset Studios back to Nathan in an effort to get Brett out of the company.  Jane was hurt by how preoccupied Stormy had been with work.  Stormy agreed to head up T.T.'s west coast division of Titan Records.  Renee left on an extended trip with T.T.  Vaughan Novak asked Alex on a date but she was apprehensive due to her reconciliation with Jordan.  Jordan told Alex he needed time away and for her to go away.  Kyle spied Brooke and Ethan in a heated moment together.  

 


  

Episode 143

"A Little Assistance"

 

Jane held the water pitcher with an unsteady hand as she filled the glass.  A quick blot with a towel to absorb a small spill and she was rushing into the living room of her small apartment where Miranda sat on the worn wicker sofa.

“Here, drink this,” she said and handed her the glass while sitting down beside her.  “Take some deep breaths.” 

“I’m fine,” Miranda said, shifting uncomfortably from the weight of her baby.  “I just got a little shaken up so I decided to stop by here before I went home.” 

“Well, it’s no wonder,” Jane said sympathetically.  “It’s also a miracle that you didn’t crash through that guardrail.  You must have good instincts.” 

Miranda winced as she felt her baby kicking against her side.  “I took a defensive driving class once,” she said and set the glass down on the coffee table.  “Can you drive me home?  They towed my car to the dealer and they’re dropping a rental off in the morning.”

“Sure,” Jane replied uneasily.  The truth was she had reservations about going home with Miranda after the way she’d left things with Stormy that afternoon.  She hadn’t been particularly supportive of him, which she was now starting to regret.  “So who would have done something like this?  L.A. drivers aren’t that bad.” 

“It wasn’t a case of bad driving.  It was a warning.” 

Jane frowned.  “A warning from who?”

“That Hugh Rogers guy that Farrah was working for,” Miranda told her.  “He’s pissed because I took her and Sam and Veronica off the street and gave them jobs.” 

“How do you know?” Jane asked in bewilderment. 

“He sent one of his crony’s to threaten me, and when I didn’t back down he came after me.” 

Panicked, Jane flew to her feet.  “Miranda!  Oh my God!  He tried to kill you?  Why are you so calm about this?”

“He didn’t try to kill me,” she argued.  “If he wanted to kill me he would have.  He was just trying to scare me.”

“Still, you need tobe careful.  You can’t go pissing off guys like this and expect them to back down just because you’re a Blackthorne.  What if next time they do kill you?  Think about that.  Think about your baby.” 

Struggling to her feet, Miranda pulled her purse tightly over her shoulder.  “Jane, if I back down, what happens to the girls?  They wind up working for him again and then hacked to pieces in an alley somewhere.”

“And if you don’t, it could be you hacked to pieces in an alley!”

“That’s not going to happen.”  She made her way to the door of the apartment.  “I can take care of myself.” 

“If Eddie knew you were in trouble like this-“

“He doesn’t know,” Miranda cut her off with a stern warning.  “And he can’t find out.  Jane, promise me you won’t say a word to Eddie or Stormy about this.”

After a moment of hesitation, she threw her hands up in resignation.  “Okay, fine.  I won’t say anything.  But will you please be careful from now on?”

“Of course,” she said and followed her out onto the porch.  “Can we stop at a taco truck on the way?  I’m starved.” 

Rolling her eyes, Jane locked the door and followed her down the stairs to the parking lot while she listened to her make a phone call. 

“Sam, it’s Miranda,” she said into her business phone.  Senator Nordquist wants to see you again tomorrow.  Apparently you made a good impression on him because he never uses the same girl twice.  Call me when you get a chance.”

“You can’t stop for a minute?” Jane asked when she was through.  “Even after what you went through tonight?”

Miranda smiled while opening the passenger door of Jane’s old red Volkswagen Jetta.  “Can I help it if I know how to multi-task?”

Mason Stone

At their private table in the back of La Mirada bar, Mason ordered two more beers from the waitress while gesturing to Chip Matthews. 

“You good for another round?” he asked. 

“One more,” Chip replied with a shrug.  “We still need to hash out some details.” 

“Details?”

Chip didn’t appreciate that he was being coy.  “Like how we’re going to get our hands on the oil beneath Moonshadows.  How did you know it was there in the first place?  When you asked me to put a bid in on the marina project, you didn’t get into many specifics.” 

“I had to make sure you could be trusted.  As far as how I knew about the oil, I was working at the law firm in New York that handled Royce Jennings’s estate,” he explained.

“You went to law school?”

Mason waived a hand dismissively through the air.  “I didn’t finish, but I consulted for a few firms.  Jennings kept so much paperwork around that they had to hire me to sort it out and see what was what.  What I found was very interesting to say the least.”

“What did you find?”  Chip asked.

“Land surveys Jennings had done on the property before he bought it,” he explained.

“You’re saying Jennings knew there was oil here and he developed it anyway?  Why didn’t he just drill?  He could have been ten times as wealthy as he already was.” 

Mason looked at him with deadpan expression on his face.  “Because he died.”

“Wow,” Chip said and leaned back in his seat.  “So his son David built the resort not knowing the real value.”

“Exactly.” 

“How are you going to get it?”

“That’s where you come in,” Mason said with a calculated effort.  “The marina expansion is going to be stalled indefinitely after construction has begun.  Brooke Taylor and her partners will loose so much money they’ll have to sell, and when that happens…”

“You’ll swoop in and buy it from them.” 

Mason nodded and raised his glass.

“Isn’t that kind of unethical?  And what happens if I get blamed for the delay in the expansion?  It’s my name on the line.” 

“Environmental factors will be the culprit.  Don’t worry about your name.  And as far as ethics, ask my ex-wife Mackenzie.  I don’t have any.” 

Laughing, Chip fished a twenty from his wallet and threw it on the table.  “What about the permits to complete the expansion?  We need to jump through that hurdle before we can do anything.” 

“I told you I’ll handle it.  I’ve learned that Senator Nordquist holds a seat on the Coastal Commission.  All I have to do is get him to grant the variance and we’ll be set.” 

“Any skeletons in his closet?”

“Everyone has skeletons in their closet,” Mason said with a devilish grin. 

Blackthorne Mansion

After hours of hot, steamy sex, Brooke and Ethan lay exhausted in each other’s arms in her bedroom at the Blackthorne mansion.  They turned and looked at each other while stifling fits laughter despite the heady mood. 

“Wow,” Brooke said, still giggling.  “Just…wow.” 

Ethan grinned.  “Yeah, I know.  That was better than I remember.” 

“Me too.  I wonder why.” 

“Well, we’ve had all this pent up energy for so long that it was bound to be explosive when it finally happened.”  He turned onto his side and looked her in the eyes.  “It helps that we’re comfortable with each other too.” 

“Yes, it does,” she said dreamily, running her hands along his chest.  “Being in your arms feels very natural.” 

They grew silent for a few moments until Ethan moved closer still.  “We still haven’t had that talk,” he said.  “I guess we should at some point.  I mean, sex is a great way to reconnect, but I think we both have a lot of issues we need to work out.” 

“You mean Kyle,” she said softly while looking away from him. 

“You do work closely with him,” Ethan remarked.  “What if there’s still some remnants of whatever it was the two of you shared together?”

She couldn’t deny that there was, but telling Ethan that would be a huge mistake.  Her hope was that she would eventually forget about Kyle and focus solely on Ethan.  It was what made the most sense. 

“My working with Kyle has nothing to do with us,” she finally said.  “He was a crutch that I used to get over you when I thought you were dead, that’s all.  Really, he won’t be a problem.” 

“I’m glad,” Ethan said, tracing his fingers down her arm.

They slid closer together and kissed, their arms snaking around one another as another round of heated lovemaking began. 

Alex Reynolds

Anytime Alex Reynolds went out for drinks, she stuck with club soda.  She hadn’t had a problem with alcohol, but what she’d learned in treatment was that her addiction to pills could manifest itself in other forms.  So while sitting in a comfy chair in the lounge at Moonshadows with Marilee Wells-Walker, she sipped her club soda and pretended that it was vodka.  For her next drink she switched to sparkling cider and pretended that it was champagne.  It was almost the same, she told herself.

Clear-headed and very, very sober, she kissed Marilee on the cheek when they were through and proceeded through the hotel lobby.  Passing by the Sierra Room, she couldn’t help notice Mackenzie seated at the bar, and decided to swing by for a quick hello.

“Alex, how nice to see you,” Mackenzie said with little sincerity. 

“Hello Mackenzie.  How have you been?”

“I’m well,” she said, turning toward her and crossing her immaculately toned legs.

“And the show?”

“The show is fine,” she replied.  “We’ve managed to evade the network’s obvious plans for eliminating the genre.  For now, at least.  Are you looking to come back?  We still haven’t recast Faye Richards.” 

Alex smiled politely and clutched her purse beneath her arm.  “I’m not, but thank you.  I’m enjoying my time off.  Spending time with my new grandson, reconnecting with my children.  It’s been great.” 

“I didn’t hear you mention Jordan in there anywhere.” 

Alex grew silent, glancing awkwardly to her feet.  “I’m trying to give Jordan some space.” 

Mackenzie laughed and shook her head.  “You’re dumber than I thought you were,” she began.

“I beg your pardon?”

“The mans’ son just died, Alex.  He’s got to be in hell right now.  But your brilliant solution is to give him space?  You know what, it’s no wonder you can’t hold on to a man.  You’ve got no clue when it comes to what men need.” 

“And you’re an expert, I’m assuming?” Alex fired back.  “I don’t see James with you.  How did that whole thing end up, anyway?” 

Scowling, Mackenzie swallowed the rest of her drink.  “The timing wasn’t right.” 

“That’s bull.  No matter how busy James is, he makes time for the people in his life.  If things were as good between the two of you as he claimed, you could have made it work.  So I have to wonder if it’s something else.” 

Before Mackenzie could reply, Mason approached from the hotel lobby.  “Fancy seeing you here,” he said.  

“Not now, Mason,” she groaned.  

Alex studied the tenseness between them and quickly went to introduce herself.  “Hi, I’m Alex Reynolds.” 

“No need to introduce yourself, Miss Reynolds,” Mason said and took her hand in his.  “I’m a big fan of yours.  Any chance we’ll see you on the big screen soon?” 

She smiled coyly and shook her head.  “I don’t think so.  And you are?”

“Nobody,” Mackenzie answered. 

“Mason Stone.” 

“Mason Stone?” Alex repeated.  “So you must be Mackenzie’s….?”

“Ex-husband,” he finished for her.  “Just in town for business.  It’s very nice meeting you, Miss Reynolds.  I hope to run into you again soon.” 

“Likewise,” she said with a knowing smile. 

After he’d left, Mackenzie rolled her eyes and held a hand up before her. “Don’t even think about it.” 

“What?” Alex asked, grinning.  “The fact that your gorgeous ex-husband happens to show up in town just as things get rocky between you and James didn’t cross my mind.” 

“I can see your wheels turning.  There’s nothing going on between Mason and I.  And James and I are none of your business.  I stay out of your life and I’d thank you to stay out of mine.” 

“Of course.” 

Frustrated, she got up from her stool and collected her things.  “Oh, and Alex…” she began.  “…don’t treat Jordan like you do the rest of the men in your life.  If he’s hurting then stop making these grand gestures.  Just go to him.” 

After she’d gone, Alex shook her head in aggravation.  What was it about her that always rubbed her the wrong way?  Sighing, she proceeded through the lobby and stopped when Vaughan Novak approached from the elevators.  

“Well, well, well,” he began with a grin.  “The lady does still exist.” 

“I’m sorry?”  Alex said in confusion.

“Well, you never got back to me about my dinner invitation.  I’m still waiting for your part of the bargain.  I agreed not to represent Kelly Blackthorne and you agreed to have dinner with me.” 

“I didn’t think you were serious.”

“Not serious?” Vaughan said with a wiseacre smile.  “Alex, I never joke about these things.  What do you say?  Tomorrow night?”

Blindsided, she shook her head.  “I think I have plans, but thank you-“

“Then the night after,” Vaughan continued.

“I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you.” 

“Fine, but I’m only so patient.  I’d like to enjoy your company this year.  That is, unless Jordan minds.” 

The truth was, Alex didn’t know if Jordan would care at all.  The last time she’d seen him he sent her away and told her they needed to spend time apart.  So why shouldn’t she go to dinner with Vaughan Novak?  

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” she finally said before turning and walking outside.

Suzanne Rogers

The next morning, Suzanne awoke in Brett’s bed and found herself alone.  The sound of the shower running told her that he was already awake.  She threw back the covers and went to the kitchen where she poured herself a cup of steaming hot coffee.  While staring out the terrace doors at the marina, she thought about the disaster she’d made of her life.  Brett seemed to be the only thing she felt good about.  

After hitching a ride from the middle of the desert, they got back to L.A. and spent the night making passionate love to one another.  It felt good to be in his arms again.  She felt safer than she had in a long time.  It was almost as if the past few months had never happened. 

But the reality was, everything had changed.  First and foremost was the fact that her son was gone and she felt an enormous sense of guilt over not being there for him in time to stop it. 

“Morning,” a voice said from behind. 

She turned just as Brett appeared, naked except for a towel tied loosely around his waist.  His skin was tan and damp from the shower.  She shivered as he pulled her into an embrace and brushed his lips tenderly against hers.  

“Did you sleep well?” he asked.

She nodded. 

“I have to go in to the studio for a meeting this morning, but it shouldn’t take long,” he told her.  “Do you think you could pick Violet up from the sitter?”

“Of course,” replied.  “I do need to see Jordan, though.  Do you think Tiffany could watch her for a couple more hours?”

“I’m sure she can,” Brett said.  “But are you sure seeing Jordan today is the best idea?  You’ve been through a lot.  You need time to figure some things out.” 

“And I will,” she said and turned back to the kitchen counter.  “I just want to get this out of the way.”

Brett didn’t argue because he knew it was inevitable.  For her own peace of mind, she had to see Jordan.  They both lost a son and they had to grieve together. 

“I’ll meet you back here this afternoon.” 

She nodded.  “Okay.”  

James Blackthorne

One by one, the family trickled in and out of the breakfast room at the Blackthorne mansion.  Leilani kept busy pouring coffee and replenishing the buffet of egg whites and turkey bacon.  James made a face as she placed a plate in front of him.  

“Turkey bacon is not real bacon,” he complained. 

“You know what your doctor said,” she sing-songed while flitting around the sun filled room.  “Your cholesterol is too high.” 

“I’ll just have coffee,” he said with a grimace. 

Before Leilani could protest, Miranda darted into the room with her purse pulled tightly over her shoulder, and went straight for the buffet.

“Oh good, turkey bacon,” she said and scooped a few pieces onto a napkin.  “Morning Daddy.” 

“You seem to be in a hurry,” James said.  “Where you off to?” 

“I’ve got a lot to do today,” she said while gulping down a glass of orange juice.

“The rental company dropped off your car,” he told her.  “Sweetheart, I wish you’d let me get you a driver.  With so many lunatics on the road these days, I don’t think we can be too careful.  You’re in a very delicate situation.” 

“Women have been driving while pregnant for decades, Daddy.  I don’t need a driver.”   She looked at her watch and sighed.  “Damn, I’m late.” 

“You’ve been awfully busy lately.  What do you have going on, anyway?  Some new project I’m not aware of?” 

She stammered nervously and breathed a sigh of relief as Stormy walked into the room. 

“She probably spends her day shopping at that baby boutique on Rodeo Drive,” Stormy said wryly.  “I have a feeling this new Blackthorne is going to be spoiled beyond belief.” 

“No more than the two of you were, I’m sure,” James said with a knowing smirk. 

“I gotta go,” Miranda said and kissed her father on the cheek.  “See you later, Daddy.”

“Bye sweetheart,” he said, then watched as Stormy emptied the last of the bacon onto his plate.   “Son, I hear you’re going to be heading up T.T.’s west coast division of Titan Records.  Are you sure that’s not going to interfere with your duties at Sunset Studios?” 

“It won’t,” he said.  “They just need someone who knows the business.  I figure I’ll spend a couple hours a day there and the rest of my time at the studio.”  

“I applaud you for wanting to stay busy,” James said.  “Which reminds me, we’ve got that meeting today to finalize casting decisions for The Benefactor.  I’d like you to be there.” 

“You would?” he asked with surprise.  “I thought Brett was taking the lead on that.”

“He is.  But now that you’ve finished up the loose ends from House of Palms, you can assist Brett on some more immediate issues.” 

Assist?” Stormy asked incredulously.

“Yeah, he’s going to need help if we want to stay on schedule.  I also want the two of you to do a walk-through of the set in soundstage 4 today.  The set designers are finished and I want to make sure it’s perfect.” 

Anger boiling from inside, Stormy set his plate down when decided that he’d lost his appetite.  Why was he assisting Brett on anything?  He should be the one in charge. Suddenly his decision to trick Brooke into taking Brett’s shares of the company from him didn’t seem as unwarranted as he had begun to think.  The sooner he was out of the picture, the better. 

“Morning,” Brooke said when she entered the room with Ethan following close behind. 

“Morning,” James said and raised a curious eyebrow when he saw Ethan place a hand around Brooke’s waist as they ambled up to the buffet.  “I didn’t see the two of you last night.  Did you both have plans?”

Ethan smirked and looked at Brooke.  “No, we were home.  I guess we both decided to turn in early.” 

“A little extra rest never hurt anyone,” James said while studying their expressions with a knowing smile.

"It was just what I needed,” Brooke said, flashing Ethan another look.  She turned to Stormy.  “Thanks again for taking care of that insurance business, Stormy.  The less I have to think about Acapulco the better.  I appreciate you making it so painless.” 

“No problem,” he said, uncomfortably.  He knew it was only a matter of time before she found out that he’d tricked her.  But by then it would be too late for her to do anything.  “I better get going,” he said and looked at James.  “See you at the office.” 

Seconds later, he was tearing out into the foyer toward the stairs.  On his way up to his bedroom, he ran into Kelly. 

“Where’s your little girlfriend?” she asked.  “This must have been the first night in ages that she hasn’t spent the night.” 

“I’ve told you before that Jane and my relationship is none of your business,” he snapped.  “Why don’t you just worry about taking care of our son.  That seems to be the only thing you’re good for.” 

Infuriated by his hateful remark, Kelly glared at him as he stomped up the stairs and down the hall to his room.  The only thing she was good for?  That’s what he thought.  Once she got back into the business she was going to show him what she was good for, and it sure as hell wasn’t being a stay at home mom. 

Mason Stone

Mason took his rented Mercedes to City Hall and waited for Jim Nordquist to emerge.  When he did, he followed him across town to the Beverly Wilshire.  With blackout Burberry shades covering his eyes, he followed him inside the hotel lobby and witnessed him checking into a room.   With key in hand, the Senator proceeded to the elevators and quickly closed the door before Mason could get inside. 

“Excuse me,” he said to the desk agent.  “That man who just checked in…was that Senator Nordquist?” 

“Yes,” the young girl replied, then hesitated when her manager gave her a disapproving look.  “I mean, I’m not at liberty to say.” 

“That’s okay,” Mason said and removed his sunglasses so he could look at her with his entrancing blue eyes.  “I’m actually from the Senator’s office.  Judge Walters asked me to get him some documents right away so I just need to find out what room he’s in.” 

“I’m sorry, I can’t give you that information.”

“Are you sure?” Mason asked.  “I’d hate to get fired over this.  I was supposed to meet him here at eleven but I was stuck in traffic on the 101.  If I don’t make it up there to give him this information before his meeting, I’ll-“ 

“We can’t give out room numbers,” the girls’ manager broke in.  “If you really are from Senator Nordquist’s office then you’d have a cell phone that you can call him on.  Now please leave before I have to call security.” 

Realizing he wasn’t about to get anywhere using his usual tactics, Mason turned and walked through the lobby.  Outside, he stood along the street while thinking of his next move.  He had to get dirt on Jim Nordquist if he was going to get that variance.  He’d learned that asking for what you want rarely yielded the results he was looking for, so finding a creative solution was definitely in order.      

A limousine parked along the street caught his attention when the back window lowered and a man inside called over to him.  

“Mason Stone?” Hugh Rogers asked from within the confines of his car.   “What the devil are you doing in Los Angeles?” 

Smiling, Mason stepped closer.  “A little of this and a little of that,” he said.  “I heard you were working out of L.A. now.  How’s the left coast treating you?”

“No complaints,” Hugh said and motioned to the door.  “Hop in and we’ll talk business.” 

Mason decided he didn’t have anything to lose.  A businessman like Hugh Rogers was always good to have in your corner. 

Brooke Taylor

When Brooke arrived at Moonshadows, she parked her car and started walking toward the administration building.  Passing the tennis courts, she spotted Kyle hitting tennis balls as the machine catapulted them toward him.  She stopped and watched for a minute despite her apprehension to do so.  The sight of his shirtless physique exerting muscles with each swing of the racket had a way of exciting her.  By the time he noticed her standing there, she was completely entranced. 

“Morning,” he said, holding the racket over his shoulder while walking toward the fence that separated them.  “Sorry, I thought I could get some practice in before you got here.” 

“Oh, that’s no problem,” she said, forcing herself to look away from his chiseled body.  “Take your time.  There’s a stack of busywork waiting for me that I’ve been putting off anyway.”

Kyle knew she was staring and it secretly excited him.  With his trademark boyish grin, he did his best to flex in all the right places for her benefit.  “Well, let me just grab a shower and I’ll meet you in the office.  How was your night last night?”

“My night?” she asked. 

“Yeah,” he said.  Images of her and Ethan kissing on the hood of her car in the parking lot the night before had plagued him.  He couldn’t get the image of their bodies touching out of his mind.  He wanted her so bad he could taste it.  Maybe they didn’t sleep together, he thought to himself.  Maybe the kiss was where it ended.   “Do anything exciting?”

“Uh, no,” she replied.  “I went to bed early.” 

They slept together, he immediately realized.  Going to bed early was the universal excuse people used when they’d had sex the night before. 

“Oh, great,” he said.  “Well, I should get showered.”  

She didn’t reply as he turned and started across the court.   Forcing herself to turn away, she began walking and then stopped when she heard him drop his tennis racket. 

“Damnit,” Kyle was groaning, hunched over on the court and clutching his lower back. 

“Kyle?” she asked with concern.  He appeared to be in pain so she rushed around to the gate and raced across the court toward him.  By the time she got there, he was sunk to his knees, his face twisted into a grimace.  “What is it?” 

“I don’t know,” he said.  “Sometimes I get these pains from the puncture wound.”

Brooke’s face fell and she instinctively placed her hand along the scar that remained on his back from where the broken lamp shade had impaled him.  “I’m so sorry,” she said, overcome with guilt.  “I had no idea you were still in pain.” 

He shook his head dismissively.  “It’s nothing.  It comes and goes.  I’ll be okay in a few minutes.” 

“It’s not nothing,” she said, knelt down beside him and examining the scar.  “Do you need to see a doctor?” 

“No, I’ll be fine,” he said, taking in the exotic scent of her coconut body lotion.  She always smelled so feminine.  “Really, just give me a minute.” 

They sat quietly for a few moments, their bodies jutting up against one another and their eyes darting intensely together.  Brooke could feel his bare skin brushing against her arm and it sent shivers up and down her spine.   Finally, he signaled that the pain had subsided so she carefully helped him to his feet. 

“Are you going to be okay?” she asked.  It was her fault that he was in pain, after all.  She was the one who pushed him and caused him to fall on top of the sharp edge of the lamp.  Granted, she had reason to be angry, but physically hurting him hadn’t been her intention. 

“Yeah,” he said, noticing that her hand was still resting on his waist.  He looked down and then up into her aquamarine eyes.  “Thanks, Brooke.”

“I’ll see you in the office.”  Slowly, she turned and walked off the court. 

Once she’d gone, Kyle turned around and grinned.  Now more convinced than ever that she wasn’t over him, he jumped up into the air and pumped his fist up and down in excitement.  An old injury always came in handy.  He’d have to remember that one for the next time. 

Jordan Rydell

Alex decided to take Mackenzie’s advice and pay Jordan another visit.  She still thought that they’d said everything there was to say the last time they talked, but she had to at least give it another try. 

"Has there been any word on the attack on Lola?" she asked, using his mother's recent drama as a lame excuse to see him.  

Laying on a lounge chair by the pool at his house, he shook his head.  "No, Detective Rodriguez is trying to find out where the photograph came from that they found in her room.  So far nothing."  

“Okay.  Well, I just wanted to see if you needed anything,” she said.

Jordan didn’t look at her.  “What I need is to be left alone, Alex.” 

“I know you said that, but-“ 

“I meant it.  I don’t need anything and I don’t want to talk.  Just please give me some space.  That’s all I ask.” 

She could see that nothing had changed.  He still refused to let her in.  She was beginning to feel that it was a hopeless situation.  “Vaughan Novak asked me to have dinner with him,” she said, although she didn’t know why.  She was beyond making men jealous.  Maybe she was just trying to let him know so there weren’t any hard feelings.

“So have dinner with him,” he finally answered.  “Novak’s a good guy.  He’s the kind of man you need in your life.” 

No, you’re the kind of man I need in my life, she wanted to say.  But instead, she turned and walked up to the house.  She couldn’t argue with him anymore.  It hurt too much to see him push her away.  On her way inside, she ran into Suzanne who was on her way out.  

“Hello Alex,” she said.

“How do you do it?” Alex asked with contempt.  “How do you just ignore your family and your responsibilities to them?” 

“I’m sorry?”

Alex shook her head dismissively.  “Forget it,” she said.  “Just don’t hurt Jordan again.  He’s been hurt enough.”  

Suzanne lowered her eyes as she walked away.  The sad thing was that Alex was right on the money.  She had been selfish and her family had paid the price. 

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” Jordan said as he stood up from his chair.  “Back from your spa retreat?” 

She ignored the sarcastic sound in his voice.  “I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t made mistakes,” she said.  “I shouldn’t have left again.  I was just confused, Jordan.  I thought I was with people who would help me.” 

“Did they?”

She looked down and shook her head.  “No.” 

“So Brett was telling the truth?  You were in some kind of cult or something?” 

Suzanne shrugged.  “I don’t know what they were, but they weren’t out to help anyone but themselves.  That’s what I needed to talk to you about.”  

“So Brett saved the day again?” Jordan went on.  “Swooped in and rescued you for the tenth time.  He’s making a habit of this.  Maybe I should check the prop room at Sunset Studios and get him a cape and a pair of tights.” 

“Jordan, I’m not here about Brett.  I came to tell you something about Benji.” 

“But you are sleeping with Brett again, aren’t you?” Jordan said.

She couldn’t deny it so she simply said nothing.  The look in his eyes was so contemptuous that she could feel them burning through her.  She shuddered and quickly looked away. 

“Of course you are,” Jordan said with an amused expression.  “The hell with how it affects anyone else, as long as you’re satisfied in the sack.”

“Jordan, no-“

“To hell with me and Heather and Benji-“ 

“That’s not how it is!”

“Then tell me, how is it?”  He shouted so loudly that he startled even himself. 

Tears flooding her eyes, she took a deep breath and decided to tell him what she needed to and then leave.  “There’s something you should know about Benji,” she began.  “He didn’t rob the house.  He didn’t take those things.” 

“What are you even talking about?” Jordan asked with a frown.   “Jesus, Suzanne, just leave already.  Go get a good dicking from your stud and leave me the hell alone.”

“Jordan, listen to me!” she screamed.  “You blamed him for robbing the house but he didn’t do it.  I did.” 

A few moments of confusion led to a look of realization crossing Jordan’s face.  He looked at her blankly while moving closer.  “You?” 

“Warren said the compound needed money.  I gave him what I had in my account but he said they needed more.  But it was a trick.  He was using me.  We drove here one night and you were out and Gordon had the night off.  Ross said if we made it look like a robbery then-“ 

Jordan quickly brought his hand up and slapped her hard across the face.  He glared at her in disgust, clenching his fists and trembling from head to toe. 

“Get out,” he said. 

“Jordan, please,” she began, her eyes pleading through her stinging tears.  “I had no idea you would think it was Benji!  I just wanted to belong to something!  I wanted people to care about me!”

“Turn around and get the fuck out of here!” Jordan screamed.  “Right now, Suzanne, or I can’t be held responsible for what I might do.” 

“I’m sorry!” she cried and backed up away from him. 

“You say you want people to care about you?” he asked.  “Then stop being a martyr!  Jesus Chris, every decision you’ve ever made has had disastrous consequences!  I don’t think you could do the right thing if someone waived it in front of your face!  You’re a lousy excuse for a human being, and an even worse mother.  I can’t even stand to look at you.” 

Before she could say anything, he lifted the lounge chair above his head and threw it into the pool in a rage.  He turned and kicked another chair into the water, then picked up the radio and the table that it sat on and hurled them in as well. 

Suzanne watched his tirade in tears, backing up to the door as he threw everything he could get his hands on.  When he lifted a nearby statue and threw it into the water, she realized that going there was a mistake.  Quickly, she turned and raced toward the house just as Jordan screamed at the top of his lungs, his head held between his hands.  She swore it could be heard for miles, echoing off the mountains and down into the canyons.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda was busy making arrangements for a party, which she normally loved doing, but this time the pressure was on.  A meet and greet with all sixteen girls and a few select clients was big business and had the potential to bring in a lot of cash.  After selecting the place - one of Gemma’s posh houses in Beverly Hills – she set out to talk to a few caterers.  

Her loaner from the dealer was a gunmetal BMW with not nearly as much power as her own Porsche.   It would do, she decided, as she left Gemma’s house and walked down the driveway.  A bead of sweat ran down her face and she decided tooling around town in the heat of summer while seven months pregnant was something she hadn’t counted on.  Luckily the car had good AC. 

Pulling the car door open, she slid into the seat and started the engine so that the air conditioning would kick in before she closed the door.  She went to set her purse on the seat beside her and screamed at the top of her lungs.  On the floor of the passenger’s side of the car was a menacing looking red and black snake at least two feet long.  Her scream sent it slithering under the seat and she immediately panicked, flying quickly out of the car while shivering uncontrollably.

“Jesus,” she whispered to herself and looked around to see if there was anyone who could help.  Luckily, a gardener working at the next house came running when he heard the scream. 

“Que pasa?” he asked. 

She pointed inside the car.  “Serpiente.” 

“Ah, snake,” the gardener said, rubbing his chin.  He thought for a moment and then held up a finger.  “Un momento.” 

“Thanks,” Miranda said and backed up from the car.  How in the world did it get in there?   Had the dealer given her a car with a snake in it?  She’d heard of worse things happening in rental cars.  She remembered a story about an entire rattlesnake nest living in an engine.

No, she would have known if a snake had been in the car that morning when she left home.  She’d dropped her lip gloss and searched all over the floor of the car, and in her condition, that was no small feat.  Someone had to have put it there.  Someone who wanted to get a message across. 

When the gardener returned, he had a machete.  “Snake,” he said with a grin and pointed to the car.

Miranda looked at the machete and nodded with a shrug.  “Yeah, great.  Whatever you need to do.” 

Ringing in her purse alerted her to a phone call.  She stepped away while the gardener tried to lure the snake out of the car long enough to hack it to pieces.   She turned away and answered her cell when she saw that it was Jane calling. 

“Did you get your rental?” she asked. 

“Uh, yeah,” Miranda replied with a laugh.  “I did get my rental.” 

“Any more encounters with Hugh Rogers?”

Miranda turned just as the gardener was rifling around in the back seat.   “Not with Hugh Rogers, but I had a run in with a very unfriendly looking snake.” 

“What?” Jane shrieked over the phone connection.  “A snake?” 

“A very small snake,” Miranda said, hoping to make it sound less dangerous than she believed it to be.  “Nothing to worry about.” 

“Wait a minute,” Jane began.  “Miranda, I’m really getting worried.  I told Farrah about you getting run off the road and she warned me about Hugh Rogers.  He’s dangerous.  I think you’re getting in over your head.” 

Miranda knew her friend was just concerned, but she saw no reason to be worried.  Hugh Rogers could threaten her and put snakes in her car, but he had to know that if anything happened to her, there were enough people who could point the finger at him.   She didn’t know him personally, but he didn’t seem like a stupid man. 

“Listen, Jane, I gotta go.  You’re breaking up.” 

“Miranda, wait a minute,” she exclaimed. 

But Miranda quickly ended the call.  By the time she turned around, the gardener had sliced the snake into three pieces on the driveway.   She grimaced and felt herself growing nauseous. 

Sunset Studios

James, Stormy and Brett were seated in the boardroom at Sunset Studios.  A slew of papers, storyboards and budget spreadsheets were stretched out before them, cups of coffee and bottles of water dotting the table. 

“Now all we have left to do is decide on the most important role in the film,” James was saying while shuffling through a stack of resumes and head shots.  “Norton has to be compassionate yet forthright.  He isn’t a pushover to anyone.” 

“That’s why I think Howard Collins is the right choice,” Brett announced.

James sighed and looked at his resume.  “I don’t know.  I wasn’t thrilled with him the last time we worked together.  How about Luke Eytalis?  He tested very well.” 

“Yeah, but Vaughan said that he isn’t available for the last half of our shooting schedule,” Brett told him.  “We can’t possibly work around his schedule.”

“What does he do again?”

“He hosts a reality show on ABC,” Stormy replied.  “And I don’t see why we’re wasting our time with these other actors when the perfect choice is right under our noses.” 

“Do you have someone in mind, son?” James asked. 

He handed him a head shot with the resume printed on back.  As soon as James looked at it he flashed him an incredulous look.

Nathan?” Brett asked.  “He played Norton in the original.” 

“Exactly.  Which is why he’d be perfect in the remake.  He already knows the role and he has a built in fan base.” 

“He’s also a pedophile who raped your mother and tried to rape Brooke and his own daughter,” James said.  “Stormy, I can’t believe you would want him to be involved in our family again.  You’re just opening the door for more trouble.” 

“I agree,” Brett said and handed the headshot back to him.  “The answer is no, Stormy.” 

Stormy placed the photo back on the table.  He had to stick to his guns.  Nathan helped him oust Brett from the studio, so he owed him.  It was just business.

“I’ve already offered him the role and he accepted,” he told them.

“You what?” James asked. 

“You can’t do that,” Brett said.  “I was put in charge of this film.”

“Well now I’m in charge,” Stormy said. 

“I’m part owner of Sunset Studios,” Brett reminded him.  “You’re not.” 

“Actually, you’re wrong about that.  You no longer have any shares in the studio.  They belonged to Nathan in the fist place.  Jackie only gave them to you because Nathan was in prison at the time.  Now he’s out, and he’s signed his shares over to me.” 

“He can’t do that,” Brett admonished and rose quickly from his seat. 

“Stormy, what are you talking about?” James demanded. 

“It means that those proxy votes are in my hands where they should be,” he explained.  “They should have never been given to an outsider.”

"I didn’t authorize this,” James said. “As majority shareholders, Brooke and I have to give the okay to return Nathan’s shares.” 

“You didn’t authorize it, but Brooke did,” Stormy said.

Bewildered, James ran a hand over his face.  “Brooke?  She would never have agreed to that.  Not after what he did to her.” 

“Brooke isn’t involved in the studio anymore,” Stormy reminded him.  “She’s going full steam at Moonshadows.  I doubt she cares very much if I’ve got control of the shares or if Brett does.  At least this way I’ll have something to give my son.”  

“R.J. will be taken care of,” James insisted. “When I’m gone the studio will be given to you anyway.” 

“If there’s a studio left after Brett gets through demolishing it,” Stormy said angrily.  “Dad, can’t you see what he’s doing?  He’s trying to strong arm his way in.  If he has it his way, there won’t be a Blackthorne left in the building.” 

“That’s not true,” Brett said.  “You’re just being paranoid as usual, junior.  You never could handle competition, could you?”

“Enough,” James said in frustration.  “I’ll get this straightened out with Brooke.  In the meantime, nobody is allowed to make casting calls without my approval.” 

“That’s not fair,” Stormy said.  “You were willing to give the responsibility to Brett without your supervision.  Now that I’m a shareholder, why can’t you offer me the same confidence?”

“I do have confidence in you, son,” James began.  He realized he sounded like a hypocrite and he hated himself for it.  “I just-“

“You know what?” Brett said.  “It’s fine.  Let Stormy have his shares.  But I’ll be damned if I’m going to be pushed out of this company.  I’m still a junior executive and I won’t go until they come and drag me out.” 

“That can be arranged,” Stormy said, flinching as Brett breezed past him and stalked out of the room. 

Kyle Fenwick

Kyle walked out of his office at Moonshadows and saw Brooke and Ethan standing by the reception desk in an embrace.  He considered going back inside before they saw him, but saw no reason to hide in their presence.   The more he put himself in front of Brooke the more she would realize what she was missing. 

“Headed to lunch?” he asked.

They broke from the embrace and Brooke turned toward him.  “Yeah, we’re going up the coast and having a picnic on the beach.” 

“How romantic,” Kyle said.   He decided he needed to step up his game. 

“Kyle, are you feeling better?” Brooke asked.

“Better?  Oh, yeah.  Much better.  Thanks.  Hey, before you go, I needed to get your input on a few things regarding the marina expansion.” 

“We won’t hear about the variance for a few more days,” she reported.

“I know.  This is more of a guest assistance issue.” 

“Oh, sure,” she said and turned back to Ethan.  “I’ll just be a minute.”

“I’ll wait outside,” Ethan replied, again flashing Kyle a penetrating glare. 

Once they were in Kyle’s office, he closed the door and turned to face her.  “What are you doing, Brooke?” 

“What do you mean?” she asked. 

“With Ethan.” 

“We’re going to lunch,” she said with a shrug. 

“You’re flaunting him in front of my face.”

She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms across her chest.  “I am not.  You’re being ridiculous.” 

“Last week you were in bed with me,” he said.  “It was amazing.  You know it was.  Now you’re rushing home to be with him and going to romantic picnics on the beach?”  He stepped closer to her, his eyes burrowing down on her.  “Tell me that he makes you feel the way I do.” 

“No,” she said and attempted to turn away. 

“You know you still want me,” Kyle said and pulled her back.  “I can see it all over your face.  I can read it in the way you look at me.  The sex we had in your office proves it.” 

She quickly slapped his hands away.  “The only thing it proves is that I have a weakness for liars and manipulators.  That was the old Brooke.  The new Brooke doesn’t let men like you manipulate her anymore.” 

“I’m through manipulating,” he said.  “I just want what we had back again.” 

“Take a cold shower,” she said and headed for the door.  “It’s over between us, Kyle.” 

“No, it isn’t,” he said, detecting the same look of lust that she had in her office that night, and on the tennis court that morning.  “You may not be able to admit it, but you still want me.” 

Without another word, she left his office and proceeded outside where Ethan was standing. 

“Everything okay?” he asked.

“Perfect,” she said, though still unable to get Kyle out of her mind. 

After they’d gone, Kyle walked out to their secretary’s desk.  “Marcia, have you heard back from the Coastal Commission?”

“Not yet, Kyle.  Want me to call them again?” 

“Yes,” he replied.  “Tell him we need to get their answer today.” 

As she made the call, he stormed back into his office.  He’d have to distract himself with something else while Brooke sorted out her feelings.  Getting the marina expansion up and running was his next priority. 

Mason Stone

Jim Nordquist had lunch every day at the same restaurant off Wilshire.  Mason learned this from his meeting with Hugh Rogers, who had apparently been having him tailed for unrelated reasons.  He didn’t bother to ask what those reasons were, but did manage to acquire the ammunition he needed in his quest.  The price for learning this information was still unclear, but knowing Hugh Rogers, it would be high. 

“Why would you help me get dirt on the Senator?” he had asked while sipping a cocktail in the back of the limousine.  “What’s in it for you?”

Hugh motioned for the driver to put the partition between them and the front seat.  “My interests are wide and varied,” he’d told him.  “A shrewd business man like yourself should know how important it is to collect favors.  I may need one from your at some point.” 

“Why do I have a feeling I’m about to find out what that entails?” 

“Actually, my interests are currently wrapped up in….domestic matters.  Suffice it to say I’ll be in touch.” 

Mason grinned and shook the ice around in his glass.  “Okay, so what’s this information you have on Nordquist?”

“He was recently seen sharing a hotel room with one of the girls who used to work for me,” Hugh had revealed.

Mason raised an eyebrow.  “Dabbling in extra-marital fetishes?”  Do you have any proof?”

“No proof needed.  When a man’s political career is on the line, he’ll do just about anything to keep his indiscretions a secret.” 

An hour later, Mason found Nordquist at his usual table at the restaurant off Wilshire and approached him with an empty manila envelope.  He sat down across from him and ignored the confused look on his face. 

“Senator, sorry to bother you,” he began.   “I just need a minute of your time.” 

“I’m sorry, if you’d like a meeting you can call my office and set up a time,” Nordquist said while looking around in bewilderment.  “I’m actually very quite busy today.” 

“You’ll want to make time for this,” Mason said.  “There’s a request for a variance that the Coastal Commission received a few days ago. “

“What variance?”

“From Jennings Holdings, with a DBA of Moonshadows.  It’s for a marina expansion.” 

“Any construction on the coast is being looked at with a razor sharp eye,” Nordquist remarked.  “Any variance request could take a long time to be granted, if at all.  The committee meets the second Monday of the month.” 

“Unfortunately, we can’t for wait for that to happen.  Why don’t you just grant the variance and say it’s in the best interest of the state’s revenue performance?”

Nordquist looked at him squarely. “Why would I do that?”

Casually, Mason slid the empty envelope across the table from him.  “Because if you don’t, I’ll be forced to send these pictures to the media.” 

“What pictures?” he asked, his eyes narrowing on the envelope.

“Of you and a certain call girl who goes by the name Sam,” Mason told him with a clever grin.

His face went pale and he swallowed hard.  Loosening his collar, he began to sweat.  “Look, I don’t know who you are or where you got these photographs, but-“

“I’m a concerned advocate,” Mason cut him off.  “And I’d certainly hate for all the work you’ve done in your term to be wasted just because of an indiscretion with a pretty brunette.”

The senator cleared his throat and pushed the envelope back across the table.  “I’ll see what I can do about the variance.” 

“Good,” Mason replied.   “Then we’re in agreement.” 

Brett Armstrong

Slamming his office door closed, Brett walked to his desk and swept a pile of papers onto the floor in a rage.  Frustrated, he ran his fingers through his hair and paced the room.   Being robbed of his shares of the studio was bad enough, but the fact that Stormy resorted to such underhanded tactics genuinely surprised him.  He didn’t know that his former brother-in-law had it in him.  Luckily with James on his side, he couldn’t be forced out completely.

The sound of the door opening pulled him away from his thoughts.  Half expecting it to be Stormy coming to gloat, he raced to the door.  To his surprise, Suzanne hurried inside with Violet held tightly in her arms. 

“Suzanne,” he began.  “What are you doing here?  I thought I was going to meet you at my condo.”  He tried to relax his agitated expression long enough to offer his daughter a smile.  “Hi sweetheart.” 

“Hi daddy,” Violet chirped happily.

“I’m sorry to just drop her by but I didn’t know what else to do,” Suzanne said and handed her to Brett.  “Tiffany had to go to class and I have to….”

“To what?” Brett asked after taking Violet into his arms.  “Suzanne, are you okay?  You don’t look good.” 

“I just have to go,” she said, tears forming in her eyes.  “I can’t do this.” 

He watched her turn and walk to the door.  “You can’t do what?” he asked in a panic.  “Suzanne, what’s going on?” 

Struggling, she turned back to him but avoided looking him in the eyes.  “You, me, any of it.  It’s wrong.  This is all wrong.  Please try to understand.” 

“Understand what?  What the hell happened since this morning?  Is this about Jordan?  Did he say something to upset you when you went to see him?”

She shook her head in despair.  “I’m sorry, Brett.  I’m really sorry.” 

Before he could stop her, she turned and raced out of the office.  Brett darted after her, calling down the hall as she fled. 

“Suzanne!” he screamed.  “Suzanne!  Come back!”

But she disappeared around the corner and slid into the elevator just before the doors closed.  Wiping the tears from her eyes, she rode down to the first floor. 

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda decided to set up an office for her base of operations.  It was easier than trying to work from a cell phone at home, and meeting up with the girls and prospective clients at public places was getting too risky.  Luckily, Gemma had kept up the lease on her small office in Beverly Hills, so she moved in and did some mirror redecorating with Jane’s help.  

“You can put that plant over there,” Miranda said and pointed to the table between two chairs.  “Thanks for your help, by the way.  You’re a pretty good assistant.” 

Jane flashed her a wry expression and carried the plant across the room.  “Oh no, don’t rope me into this mess you’ve created.  You’re on your own with this.  I’ll stick to waitressing.  You don’t get bitten by snakes serving burgers.”   

Miranda laughed and organized her desk accessories.  “By the way, you disappeared pretty quickly last night.  Is it just me or were you intentionally trying to avoid my brother?”

Sighing, she positioned the plant on the table and stood back to examine it.  “We had a little argument yesterday in his office.  He’s so preoccupied with work that I feel like he’s pushing me away.” 

“That’s a new one.  Stormy’s never been exactly accused of working too hard.” 

Jane shrugged and turned to her.  “It’s always about the studio and how Brett is trying to take over.  Have they always been so cut throat with each other?”

“Stormy and Brett have never been on each other’s Christmas card list, if that’s what you’re asking,” Miranda said, then looked up when she heard the office door open. 

“Are you Miranda Blackthorne?” Jim Nordquist asked as he barreled inside, suit jacket and tie disheveled and his eyes glaring wildly.

She stood up and raised a curious eyebrow.  “Senator Nordquist,” she said and extended her hand.  “Nice to meet you.  What can I do for you?” 

“You can start by telling me what the hell kind of game you’re playing,” he said, ignoring her attempt at a hand shake.

Miranda looked at Jane and then back at Nordquist.  “You seem upset,” she said.  “Why don’t you sit down, Senator.  How did your appointment with Sam go this morning?  I trust you’re still happy with her services.” 

“There’s nothing wrong with her services,” he replied.  ‘It’s yours that I have reservations about.  Who the hell have you been telling about my private life?  I thought you were supposed to keep your client’s names confidential.  I have a career to think about.”

“Senator, I assure you I haven’t told anybody about-“

“Then explain to me how someone has photos of me with that girl,” he said furiously.  “My reputation is on the line here.  This sort of thing would never have happened when Gemma was in charge.  Do you even know what the hell you’re doing?” 

“Senator, if someone saw you with one of my girls I assure you I had nothing to do with it,” Miranda insisted.  “I promise strict confidentiality.  Maybe it was one of your constituents.  Or maybe your wife got wind of your activities and she’s having you followed….” 

He paused to consider her explanation for a brief second.  “Whoever it was, you’d better hope to God it didn’t come from your organization.  I pay you a lot of money and I expect anonymity.  I’d hate for news to get out that James Blackthorne’s daughter was involved in an escort service.” 

Miranda didn’t bat an eyelash at his threat.  “That won’t be necessary.  I’ll personally see to it that your next appointment is completely secure.”

“You’d better, or God help you.”

Smiling, Miranda motioned to Jane.  “Jane, would you mind showing Senator Nordquist out?”

“Miranda, I-“ she began, still insistent that she had nothing to do with her illegal operations. 

“Jane, please?”

Sighing, she turned and motioned for him to follow her.  Once they were gone from the office, Miranda sat down and breathed a sigh of relief.  She didn’t think Sam would have told anyone about the Senator’s patronage, but just to be sure, she decided to give her a call. 

As she picked up the phone, she felt a shadow loom over her.  “Is he gone?” she asked, assuming it was Jane returning.

“Hello Miss Blackthorne,” Hugh Rogers said in a booming voice. 

Quickly, she looked up and narrowed her eyes on him.  Even without having ever met him, she knew who he was.  

“Nice of you to come yourself this time instead of sending a snake,” she said with a contemptuous smile.  “Oh, and in case there’s any misunderstanding, I’m referring to the lizard you left in my car, not your goon Trevor.” 

Hugh smiled in turn.  “I thought it was appropriate that we meet in person.  We are in bed together, so to speak.” 

“Not even close,” Miranda said and threw her pencil onto the desk.  She leaned back in her chair and folded her arms.

“You take girls from my employ and that puts us in bed together.  I discovered them.  I reap the rewards of their services.  I expect to be paid for their services.” 

“Service that they’re not providing to you anymore,” Miranda said.  “You may have discovered them, but I turned them into women.  All you did was treat them like trash.”

“When you put trash in, you get trash out,” Hugh mused.

“That’s the problem with sleaze like you,” Miranda said and stood up from her chair.  “You just don’t know how to talk to a lady.  Now if you don’t mind, I’d like you to leave.” 

“You’ve got quite a mouth on you, Miss Blackthorne,” Hugh said.   “I’d like you to close it long enough for me to give you some friendly advice.” 

Raising an eyebrow, she folded her arms again and looked at him with contempt. 

“You may think you’re a privileged little princess, daughter of a movie mogul and a screen legend, but you’re on your own now.  Your daddy can’t help you this time because he doesn’t know about your secret.  And without him behind you, I’m afraid you don’t stand much of a chance.”

She walked around her desk and stood before him.  “I’m afraid you’re the one who doesn’t stand a chance,” she said.  “You may think I’m a privileged princess, as you put it, but I can run circles around you.  Do your best.  I’ll stalemate you every single time.  I’m not going anywhere and you’re not getting a dime of the money.” 

He smiled and dug his hands into his pockets.  “You’re a spirited one.”  He removed a hand and brushed it against her pregnant stomach.  “I wonder if this little one will follow suit in that regard.  If he or she gets the chance to, that is.” 

With that, he turned and left the office.  Just as he did, Jane was coming back inside from the street.

“You won’t believe it,” she was saying.   “That senator guy just tried to proposition me!”  She stopped when she noticed Hugh leaving, and the horrified look on Miranda’s face.   “Um, is everything okay?” 

“No,” she said, shaking her head in anger.  Threatening her was one thing, but threatening her unborn child was something completely different.  “Everything’s not okay at all.” 

Brett Armstrong

After leaving Violet with a secretary at the studio, Brett sped across town to Jordan’s house in Beverly Hills.  He pounded on the door for a few minutes until the butler, Gordon appeared and gestured inside. 

“Is Suzanne here?” he demanded. 

Gordon shook his head.  “I’m sorry, Mr. Armstrong, she just left.” 

“What do you mean she left?  Where did she go?”

“She packed her suitcase and left,” he explained. 

Heading to the stairs, Brett took them two at a time until he reached the second floor.  Barreling into the guestroom where Suzanne had been staying, he found it empty.  Her clothes were gone from the closet and dresser drawers, and nothing remained in the bathroom.   A picture of her with Benji and Heather when they were young was also gone from the dresser. 

He ran a hand through his hair and turned in despair.  On the bed was a folded piece of paper.   Quickly, he snatched it up and unfolded it. 

“Don’t try to find me,” he read aloud.    “I’m sorry for everything.” 

With a pained expression, he lowered the note and sat down on the bed.  She was gone, he realized.  Probably for good this time. 

Moonshadows

Mason handed the document to Kyle, a pleased expression on his face as he leaned back in his seat at the Cahuenga Room.

“I don’t understand,” Kyle said as he read over the text.  “Our variance.  How did you get it?”

“I called in a favor at the Coastal Commission,” he replied with a grin.  “I figured since I was in town I’d make myself useful.”

Grinning with elation, Kyle read the document over again.  “Useful is an understatement,” he replied.  “Mackenzie never told me you were such a resourceful guy.  And connected.” 

“Aren’t you going to call Brooke and give her the good news?” Mason asked, smiling at a waitress as she came to refill his iced tea.

Kyle hesitated before answering.  “I think I’ll do it in person,” he said.  “This could score some major points with her.  You don’t mind if I tell her it was all my doing, do you?”

Mason shrugged.  “Whatever you need to do,” he said.  “Planning a coop of some kind?” 

“You could say that,” Kyle replied.  “Let’s just say that I need all the help I can get convincing her I’m not the bad guy she makes me out to be.” 

“But bad guys are always more fun,” Mason said with a deep laugh. 

Mackenzie Stone

Mackenzie decided to take Alex’s advise and call James.  They had to at least try to work things out, to come to some kind of understanding.  Whatever had been keeping them apart wasn’t so bad that they couldn’t talk about it.  It was high time they did. 

They arranged to meet on the boardwalk and take a stroll out onto the pier.  When he called and said he was running a few minutes later, she sat down on a bench and watched the skateboarders zip up and down the way.  And when she saw Ethan and Brooke approaching from the beach, she stood up and offered a weary smile.

“Looks like everyone’s enjoying the weather,” she remarked and motioned to the picnic basket in Ethan’s hands. 

“What brings you here in the middle of the day, Mackenzie?” Brooke asked. 

“Meeting James, actually,” she remarked.  “But I’m glad I ran into you.   There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.  It’s about Mason.” 

“Mason?” Brooke asked in confusion. 

“Your ex-husband?” Ethan asked.  “Is he still hassling you?” 

Brooke turned to him.  “You’ve met this guy?” 

Shrugging, Ethan switched the basket to his other hand.  “We had a minor altercation a few days ago.” 

“Your superhero here socked him in the nose,” Mackenzie clarified.  “Anyway, he seems to have gotten awfully chummy with my brother.  I don’t think I have to tell you that anytime Kyle gets mixed up in anything, it’s bad news.” 

Brooke shrugged.  “Kyle hasn’t said anything to me about him.” 

“And maybe he won’t,” Mackenzie said.  “I just wouldn’t put anything past either one of them.”

“Thanks for the warning,” Brooke said, shielding her eyes from the glaring sunlight as James appeared through the crowd and approached them.  

"This is a surprise" he said with a grin and placed a hand on Mackenzie's arm.  "What's going on?"  

"I just ran into Brooke and Ethan while I was waiting," Mackenzie said.  "So do you still have a few minutes to talk?"  

"Absolutely," he said, then looked at Brooke.  "But I do need to talk to you for a minute first, Brooke."  He looked at Ethan and then at Mackenzie.  "Do either of you mind?"  

Mackenzie dropped her hands to her sides in resignation.  "Why not?  It's getting to be a habit."  

He ignored her jab, deciding to take it up with her after he talked to Brooke.  Quickly, he led her aside and turned toward her with a note of sincerity on his face.  

"Listen, did you have anything to do with taking Brett's shares from him and giving them back to Nathan?" he asked.  

"What?" she asked incredulously.  "What would give you that idea?"  

"Stormy said you agreed to it.  Now Brett's out and Nathan gave his shares to Stormy.  He said you signed off on it."  

"That's ridiculous!" Brooke exclaimed.  "James, I never did anything like that.  Why would Stormy say that if it isn't true?"

Thirty feet away by the bench, Mackenzie watched James and Brooke's intense conversation.  "Does this ever end?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" Ethan replied.

"His constant devotation to anyone and everyone except the person he's supposedly interested in," she clarified bitterly.  

Ethan smiled and shook his head.  "James and Brooke have history. Plus they own the studio together.  They're going to have to talk now and then.  Don't tell me you're jealous."  

"No, I'm just getting a little tired of being put second," Mackenzie replied.  "Aren't you?  Or are you suddenly not as concerned about Brooke and Kyle working together?"

He sighed and looked over at Brooke.  It did bother him, but she claimed it wasn't an issue, so he had to believe her.  

“What kind of business did you have with Mason Stone?”  Trevor asked Hugh as they stood in the living room of his enormous house on Torreyson Drive overlooking the city. 

“If it concerned you, I would have told you,” Hugh growled.

Trevor ignored his bark.  “How did it go with Miranda Blackthorne?  Has she been any more responsive?”

“No, she’s determined to make a fool of me,” Hugh said.  “I won’t let her do that again.” 

“Want me to give her another warning?” 

Walking to the window, Hugh stared out at the city.  “No, I have something else in mind for Miss Blackthorne.” 

“What can I do?”  Trevor asked.

He shook his head and turned back to him.  “I’m going to defer this to someone else,” he said.  “An associate I knew in Atlantic City. I need it done fast and efficiently.  I can’t risk you or anyone in my  L.A. organization being involved.” 

“So what are you going to do?” 

“Miranda Blackthorne is an amusement, but a dangerous one.  She’s younger than Gemma but in many ways even more of a threat to us.” 

Trevor watched him flip through an address book on his desk.    “Okay, so how can I help?” 

“You can help by leaving the room,” Hugh told him and lit a cigar.

As instructed, Trevor left, closing the doors securely behind.  Once he was gone, Hugh picked the phone up from his desk and punched in a string of numbers.  Moments later, a woman at Colt Records in New Martin, Tennessee answered.

Brad King, please,” he said, cigar still clamped between his teeth.  

Moments later, Brad came on the line.  “Brad King.” 

“Brad, it’s Hugh Rogers out in L.A.”

“Well, this is a surprise,” Brad said.  “My old boss calling after all this time.  What can I do for you?”

“I need you to come out to L.A. and do a favor for me.  How soon can you get here?” 

“What kind of favor?”

Turning back to the window, Hugh looked out at the city.  “I need you to kill Miranda Blackthorne.” 


Next time....

The story continues on Nightingales #6 when Brad contemplates Hugh's request.  Meanwhile, Brooke blasts Kyle for trusting Mason, James tries to change Mackenzie's mind about them, and Alex grows suspicious of Vaughan.  

 

 

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