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Episode 146

 

Release Date:  August 6, 2011

 Read the episode Recap 

 

Previously...

 

Brooke grew jealous of Ethan and Mackenzie's working relationship.  Mackenzie told an elated James she would go away for the weekend with him. Brooke and Ethan argued about Kyle, but later made love.  Vaughan Novak promised Alex he wouldn't represent Kelly as long as Alex went on a date with him.  Kelly told Eddie and Stormy that Miranda had been working as a madam.  Jane quickly came to Miranda's defense and told them that Hugh Rogers had been making threats to Miranda.  Eddie and Stormy became incensed by the news, prompting them to go separately to the party at Gemma's mansion.  Chelsea learned details about Hugh Rogers and coaxed Akilah to accompany her to the party so they could find out what Brad was up to.  Trevor questioned whether Brad could go through with Hugh's orders of killing Miranda but Brad left for the mansion with his gun.  Gemma cautioned Miranda about crossing Hugh Rogers.  Miranda showed up at the mansion and found that it was empty.  In the darkness someone approached her.  Kyle was later attacked outside the Cahuenga Room at Moonshadows.  Later, Brad threw the gun into the ocean and proclaimed that he'd completed his task. Stormy and Eddie searched for Miranda, fearing that Hugh had done something to her.  Brad had nightmares about the night before, then avoided questions from Trevor about whether or not he killed Miranda.  Trevor revealed that Hugh had been missing since the night before.  When Miranda finally showed up, Stormy and Eddie blasted her for getting involved in Gemma's business.  Brooke and Kyle found the dead body of Hugh Rogers hanging in an empty walk-in freezer at the Cahuenga Room.

 


  

Episode 146

"Cahuenga, Part 2"

 

Standing in the service hallway at the Cahuenga Room, Brooke wrapped her arms around herself while trying to get the image of the man’s frozen body out of her mind.  A team of police detectives and crime scene investigators swarmed the area, caution tape blocking the entrances of the building so that no one could enter.  Beside her, Kyle watched the events unfold with intense curiosity. 

“Are you okay?” he asked when she began to look a little green.  “Why don’t you go back to the office?  I can handle it here.” 

She shook her head, her back pressed firmly against the wall.  “No, I should be here to make a statement to the press.  I’m sure they’ll be here any minute.” 

“They already are,” Kyle said with an apologetic tilt of his head.  “Listen, I can talk to the press.  It’ll be a while before we know anything anyway.  We don’t even know who this guy is or how he got here.” 

Unable to help herself, Brooke turned and looked inside the freezer again.  When she saw the investigators brushing for fingerprints on the body, his cold dead eyes still staring vacantly at her, blood droplets around the bullet hole in his forehead, she covered her mouth and quickly turned away. 

“Brooke, just go,” Kyle said, a gentle hand on her arm. 

“I’m fine,” she insisted.

“Miss Taylor?” asked a voice from behind. 

They both turned as Detective Rodriguez approached, showing them his badge and pulling a small notepad from his breast pocket. 

“What have you found, Detective?” Kyle asked.   “Any idea who this guy was?”

“His name is Hugh Rogers,” Rodriguez explained to them.  “Transplant from the east coast.  Police file this thick on him.”  He used his fingers to clarify before continuing.  “Law enforcement in three states have been trying to get something on this guy for quite a while.” 

“Looks like somebody else got to him first,” Kyle said dubiously.

Brooke glared at him before turning toward Rodriguez.  “How did he get in our freezer?”

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out.  Because his body’s been frozen, it’s impossible to get an accurate time of death.  I understand the restaurant’s been closed for a couple of days?” 

Brooke nodded.  “Yes, we had air conditioning problems.  We closed it on Tuesday.”

“Could the body have been there before that?” Rodriguez asked.

“Of course not,” Brooke said with a frown.  “I think we’d have noticed a corpse in out freezer.” 

The detective smiled.  “At least that narrows down the time of death a little more.”  He jotted a few things down on a notepad.  “Did either of you notice anything unusual during the last few days?”

“Unusual?” Brooke asked.

“Strange people hanging around the club or anything like that?” 

“I saw a car parked by the back door night before last,” Kyle told him.  “When I went to investigate someone hit me over the head.  Knocked me out for a good little while.” 

“Did you report it?”

Kyle shook his head.  “No.  When I got up they were gone.” 

“Did you get a look at the car?  A plate number or a description?”

“Unfortunately, no.  It was dark.  I did notice it had California plates but that’s about all I can remember.  I thought it might have been kids or something.  That or one of the crew members working on the marina.  Maybe they were doing something in the club and panicked when they saw me so they jumped me.  I don’t know.” 

Rodriguez looked at him warily before jotting a few things down.  “I’m going to need to talk to everyone on that crew, as well as any employees of the restaurant.” 

“Sure,” Kyle said, then looked over and noted that Brooke was still looking nauseous.  “Look, is that all for now?  I think I should get Miss Taylor somewhere to sit down.” 

“That’s all,” Rodriguez said.  “I’ll call you if I have any more questions.” 

Kyle led Brooke away, silently smirking when he felt her wrap her arm around his waist. 

Mason Stone

“This place is never dull, is it?” Chip Matthews asked with a grin when he came up behind Mason outside the front of the building where a mass of onlookers had gathered. 

“That’s for sure,” Mason mused, watching the team of investigators flocking in and out of the building.  “Any of your guys see anything?” 

“Not that I’m aware of,” Chip told him.  “I was actually about to ask you if this was your doing.”

“What do you mean?”

He shrugged.  “Well, you did say that you were going to orchestrate delays in the marina expansion so that Moonshadows would go bankrupt.  Doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any work done today.” 

Mason watched as Chip’s crew members were questioned by investigators.  “Murder wasn’t exactly what I had in mind,” he mused.  “This wasn’t my doing.  Call it a coincidence.” 

“It could still work to your benefit, though,” Chip said. 

“How do you mean?”  He turned and looked at him. 

“Word has it some guests are already checking out after hearing what happened.  We just might not have to lift a finger.  This place could go bankrupt all on its own.” 

Mason raised an eyebrow with the realization that his friend could be right.  Bad luck did seem to plague the oceanside resort.   And the fact that Hugh Rogers was dead and he’d met with him only days before didn’t escape him.  

Nordquist,” he said to himself. 

“Who?” Chip asked.

“Hugh Rogers gave me ammunition to use against Senator Nordquist so I could secure our variance,” Mason revealed.  “Now Rogers winds up dead.   Doesn’t take a scientist to figure out the Senator got pissed and went looking for revenge.” 

Blackthorne Mansion

After the way Eddie had stormed out of the mansion, Miranda knew that she had to talk to him.  She had to make him understand why she took Gemma up on her offer to act as her replacement.   She would never have done it knowing she’d be putting her baby in jeopardy.

“Wait, what are you going to say to him?” Jane asked and pulled her back into the foyer.

Miranda pulled away from her friend.  “What do you mean?  I’m going to tell him the truth.  I’m going to tell him why I did what I did.”  

“About working as a madam or about what we did last night?” Jane asked pointedly, a deadpan expression on her taut face. 

Hesitating, Miranda glanced out the door where Eddie was pulling away in his car.  “No, of course I’m not going to tell him about last night,” she whispered.  “If anyone found out, I could be in serious trouble – a hell of a lot more than being busted for peddling prostitutes.” 

“You mean we could both be in trouble,” Jane said.  “You didn’t act alone, remember?”

“I won’t let you take the fall for any of this, Jane.  You warned me not to get involved in the first place.  I should have listened to you.”

Jane looked away thoughtfully.  “He got what he deserved, right?”  

“Yes,” Miranda insisted.  “Hugh Rogers was scum.” 

Jane’s eyes began to tear up.  “But nobody deserved to end up like that.” 

“Hey,” Miranda began, taking her by the arm and looking into her eyes.  “We did what he had to do.  If we hadn’t, other people would have suffered because of that man.  Okay?” 

She nodded tearfully, turning as Stormy came back down the stairs.  She knew he was furious with her for keeping Miranda’s secret.  She had to try to change that.  There were too many secrets going on as it was. 

“I’m gonna go talk to Eddie,” Miranda said, squeezing her hand once more before flying out the front door. 

After she’d gone, Stormy approached Jane in the foyer.  “What are you still doing here?” he asked. 

“I need to talk to you,” Jane insisted.  “I don’t like how we left things earlier.  I need you to understand why I didn’t tell you about Miranda.” 

“I don’t care why,” Stormy said. “Eddie was right. She put her baby in jeopardy and you helped her do it.  You knew Miranda was in danger and you didn’t do anything about it.” 

“She swore me to secrecy!”

“And look what that secret has done,” Stormy said.  “A man is dead because of those secrets.” 

Jane looked at him suspiciously.  “How did you know-“ 

“What?” Stormy asked. 

“You said a man is dead.”  How could he know?  She and Miranda knew about Hugh Rogers first hand, but how did Stormy know?   “Did you go to Gemma’s mansion after I left the restaurant last night?”

“Never mind,” Stormy said dismissively.  “Just forget I said anything.” 

“But Stormy-“ Jane began.

They were interrupted when Leilani emerged from the back of the house carrying a laundry basket and Michael following merrily behind.  She didn’t pick up on the tenseness of the situation and approached steadfastly.

“Mr. Stormy, I find this in the trashcan in the back of the house,” she said and produced a white Burberry shirt.  “This is yours.  You don’t want?”

Stormy looked nervously at her.  “Oh, I don’t know how that got in there,” he said, quickly trying to take the shirt back from her.  “Thanks Leilani.  I’ll take care of it.”

She released it from her hands but grabbed it back when she got a look at the sleeve. “Oh, there’s blood on it,” she said, pointing to a large stain around the cuff.  “I can try to get that out.  Might not be easy though.” 

“Did you hurt yourself?” Jane asked.  “That’s a lot of blood.” 

“No,” he stammered, balling the shirt up in his hands.  “It’s fake.  We use all types of fake blood at the studio.  I might have gotten some on me.   I’ll just throw it out, Leilani.  That stuff never comes out.” 

“I try,” she said and tugged at the shirt again.

Reluctantly, Stormy let it go.  He looked back at Jane and saw the suspicious look on her face.   “What is it?” he asked.  

“Stormy, where were you last night?”

“I told you.  I was looking for Miranda.” 

“All night?”

“Yes, all night.  Now if you’re done with the third degree, I’d like to get to work.” 

Before she could reply, he was flying out the door to his car.   Standing behind, Jane wondered if she and Miranda hadn’t been the only ones at Gemma’s mansion the night before.   She got the feeling that girl Akilah had been had been there from when they spoke earlier, and now she got the same feeling about Stormy.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda sped down Mulholland in her fire red Porsche.   Eddie was just ahead of her in his car, weaving around tight corners and snaking through the meandering streets at breakneck speed.   She activated the Bluetooth and called his cell.  

“What do you want?” Eddie answered.

“Pull over so we can talk,” Miranda insisted.

“No.  Stop following me.  You’re going to kill yourself.” 

She pressed the pedal to the floor and caught up to him in seconds.  “I’m not stopping until you pull over and talk to me.” 

“Miranda, I swear to God-“ Eddie said, nearly losing control of his car as he rounded a particularly dangerous curve.  He felt the car skidding and maneuvered back to safety after a great deal of effort.   Angrily, he steered the car to the shoulder and waited for her to stop behind him before existing the car. 

“Are you crazy?” he demanded, stalking down the road and approaching her car.  “You could have killed me!” 

“I told you I needed to talk to you!” she lamented, climbing out of the car and slamming the door closed.  “Eddie, let me explain.” 

“Explain that you put yourself and your baby in jeopardy so you could be in charge of a bunch of hookers?” he screamed.  “What would ever make you do something like this?”

“I wanted to help them!” she cried.  “I couldn’t let them work for a man like Hugh Rogers.”

“And in the process you nearly got yourself killed!  Do you know how worried I was last night when I went to that house and-“ 

“You were there?” Miranda asked.  “When?” 

He backed up and shook his head.  Kelly told us about the party so I went there to find you.  And when I showed up-“

“What?” she asked.  “What happened when you showed up?  Eddie, what did you do?” 

“Nothing,” he said, tight-lipped.  “Just forget it.” 

“I will not forget it.” 

Desperate, he changed the subject. “Miranda, where were you last night?  You weren’t at that party and you didn’t turn up until this morning.”

She swallowed uneasily.  “I told you I was trying to give you some time to cool off.  I knew that bitch Kelly had ratted me out so I stayed away.   Eddie, please can we just go somewhere and talk?”

“Are you going to stop this ridiculous idea of becoming a Hollywood madam?” 

She looked away, unwilling to make that promise right now.  She still felt a sense of responsibility with the girls. 

“Fine.  Let me know when you come to your senses.” 

She groaned with frustration when he went back to his car and climbed in.  As cars sped past them, he waited for a break before speeding back out onto the road, dust clouding the air in his wake. 

James Blackthorne

James walked through the Young at Heart soundstages amidst a tantrum by one of its leading stars.  He witnessed a script being hurled across the room at a cameraman and quickly dashed down the hall to the safety of Mackenzie’s office.  

“Morning,” he said, ducking inside where the coast was clear.  “Do things seem tense on the set to you at all?” 

She stood up from her desk and shook her head with a sigh.  “I had to inform Elana Hendricks this morning that her screen time was going from four episodes a week to two.  She’s now threatening to walk.” 

“Ouch,” James said and pulled her into an embrace.  “Sorry.” 

“On top of that, we still have to eliminate twenty percent of our wardrobe budget and it’s already impossible to get by on what we have.  This budget crisis is going to be the death of me...or the show, whichever comes first.” 

James watched as she crossed the room and began organizing scripts on the conference table.  “Well, the good news is you’ll feel refreshed after a weekend in the desert.  You can come back on Monday and tackle things with a fresh outlook.” 

Mackenzie stopped and looked apologetically at him. “Oh James, I know I said I would go to Palm Springs with you, but I can’t possibly leave at a time like this.  I thought I could spare the time but things are so out of control.”

He couldn’t hide his disappointment.  “I was really looking forward to going away with you,” he said.  “I really think we need this time, Mackenzie.” 

“I know we do,” she said.  “Believe me, I’d much rather be with you soaking in a hot tub than here putting up with Elana Hendrick’s tantrums.  But Ethan and I haven’t even cracked the surface of this budget crisis.” 

James sighed.  He knew she was dedicated to her career, but he feared for what would happen to their relationship if they put this trip off.  He had genuine feelings for her and wanted it to work. 

“So bring Ethan along,” he suggested.

“What?  You can’t be serious.” 

“Why not?  You can get some work done and we’ll still be able to spend time together away from everything else.” 

She folded her arms and walked toward him.  “Won’t that be kind of awkward with your nephew under our feet the entire weekend?  I’m not exactly sure how alone we would be.”

“The house sleeps eight,” he informed her.  “Brooke can join him.  I’m sure they could use time away together too.  We can make it a couples thing.” 

As Mackenzie considered his solution to their problem, Ethan entered the office. 

“James, I wasn’t expecting to see you here this morning.” 

“We were just talking about Palm Springs,” James told him.  “How would you and Brooke like to join us this weekend?”

“It’s just an idea,” Mackenzie quickly chimed in.  “It actually just came up.  Personally, I think we should postpone the trip until after we’re done crunching these numbers.” 

“Actually, a few days away might be just what we need,” Ethan said.  “A different scene could help us get over this slump with the budget.  Plus I know Brooke’s been overworked lately-“

“Great, then it’s settled,” James said.  “We’ll leave this afternoon.” 

Mackenzie looked at Ethan uneasily.  She didn’t know why she felt so wary about the idea of going away with Ethan and Brooke, but she did.  Her willingness to make things work with James, however, prompted her to forget her worries and go with it.  After all, it was only one weekend.

Kyle Fenwick

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Kyle asked when he led Brooke into her office and handed her a glass of water.   “You’re looking kind of sickly.” 

“Forgive me if I haven’t quite become immune to the sight of a dead body,” she told him while falling back onto the cushions of the sofa.  She shivered and set the plastic cup down.   “I feel sick.”

Quickly, Kyle said down beside her and placed a hand on her leg.  When she didn’t appear to oppose, he decided to see how far he could go before she did.  “Do you want to go home?  I can certainly handle things here for the rest of the day.” 

She covered her face with her hands.  “I’ll never forget the look on that man’s face.  Never!”  She turned and buried her face in his chest. 

Taking her cue, Kyle put his arms around her and held her tightly.   The feel of her body close to his caused his heart to beat furiously inside his chest.  Her intoxicating scent and the softness of her skin sent feeling of desire surging through his body. How he craved the days when he could have her anytime he wanted her.  

But all too quickly, it was over.  Brooke pulled away, wiped her eyes, and looked at him guardedly.  “I’m sorry,” she said, rising from the sofa and smoothing the front of her skirt. 

“It’s okay,” Kyle said and followed her to her feet. 

Just then, the door opened and Ethan entered.  They both turned and looked at him quickly when they noticed his presence.

“Hi,” Ethan said.  “I’m not interrupting, am I?”

“No,” Brooke said.  “Just strategizing about the latest catastrophe.” 

Ethan went to her and pulled her into an embrace.  His eyes flickered past Kyle’s as if to ward him off.   “Well I’ve got just the thing to sooth your worries.” 

“What?”

“How about a weekend in Palm Springs?”  Ethan asked. 

Brooke’s face lit up.  “That sounds great.  I’d love to get away for a while.  When?” 

“We leave this afternoon,” he told her.

“This afternoon?” Brooke asked.  “Ethan, you couldn’t have picked  a worse time.  With everything else going on, we found a dead body in the Cahuenga Room today.  The police are combing the grounds as we speak.  I couldn’t possibly leave now.”

Kyle felt a sense of relief wash over him.  The thought of her going out of town with Ethan for the weekend plagued him with jealousy.

“A dead body?” Ethan asked.  “Who?  When?”

“Some crime boss,” Brooke said with a dismissive waive of her hand.  “There’s no telling how long he’s been there.  Guests have been checking out since it happened.  It’s a nightmare.” 

“I’m so sorry you had to go through that,” Ethan said and kissed her tenderly.  “Are you okay?” 

She nodded and attempted a smile.  “I’ll be okay.”  She could feel Kyle’s eyes burning into her from behind.  The fact that she was in his arms moments ago wasn’t lost on her.  Why did it seem he was always around when she needed someone? 

“Well, Kyle’s capable of taking care of things around here while you’re gone,” Ethan told her.  “I really think we need this time away, Brooke.  Please say you’ll come.” 

She hesitated briefly.  “What about Michael?” 

“Leilani can watch him,” he said.

She looked briefly at Kyle.  She didn’t know if she expected him to protest, or if she was simply trying to gauge his reaction, but the smoldering look in his eyes was all the convincing she needed.  She had to get away from him before she did something she would regret.  A repeat of the night in her office with him could not happen again. 

“Okay,” she said.  “I’ll go home and get packed.” 

Kyle seethed with anger when Ethan flashed him a triumphant stare.  He knew what he was flaunting his and Brooke’s reunion, and he wasn’t going to let him get away with it. 

Alex Reynolds

Walking through the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel to meet Marilee for a late lunch, Alex spotted a group of people gathering around a bank of seating in the corner.  She paused and peered through the crowd, realizing it must be a celebrity sighting because all she could see was a flurry of pens exchanging hands and the glare of camera flashes.

When the crowd began to part, a few stragglers approached her for an autograph, which she politely obliged.   Then she looked up and saw the celebrity they’d been flocking around.  Quickly, she turned in an attempt to leave. 

“Alex, over here,” called Nathan Blackthorne. 

She groaned and turned back toward him.  “I have nothing to say to you,” she said.  “Excuse me.” 

“Alex, must you be like that?” Nathan said.  “What’s the harm in sharing a drink with an old friend?  Come.  Join me in this beautiful banquette.”

“I will certainly not,” Alex gasped.  “Forgive me, but I don’t drink with convicts and pedophiles and rapists.  Particularly not ones who made me look like a fool for so many years.” 

“How have I made you look like a fool?” Nathan asked. 

“My family didn’t believe me that you raped me,” she admonished.  “My marriage to James fell apart because of that night with you at the mansion.  I lost everything because of you.” 

“Can’t we just let that go?  I would have thought that we could start over.  Particularly after the loss that I’ve suffered recently.  Are you still going to treat me with such hostility after my daughter died in such a violent manner?” 

“You never cared anything about Sierra, you cretin,” Alex said.   “I curse the day I told her that you were her father.  For once I should have kept my nose out of things that didn’t concern me.” 

“I loved Sierra very much,” Nathan said.  “If I’d have gotten to know her I believe we could have been father and daughter.  But Renee couldn’t allow it.” 

“That may have been one of the smarter things Renee ever did,” Alex said. 

Glassy eyes glazing over her, Nathan seemed to change subjects with gleeful abandon.  “Did you hear about my return to the big screen?” he asked.  “Principal photography on The Benefactor begins in two weeks.”

“Another comeback?” Alex asked.  “Like the ill-fated attempt of yours and Victors to remain relevant with Donnie & Johnny?  No offense to James or Stormy, but I imagine this one going straight to NetFlix.” 

“Bitter isn’t a good look for you,” Nathan told her.  “Just because your comeback failed doesn’t mean mine will.  My goodness, how could you have concentrated on a career with all the pill popping and baby stealing going on?  Well, rest assured, I’m prime for a return to Hollywood.  My interview will be on E.T. tomorrow night.  You should try to catch it.” 

“It’d rather catch the plague,” Alex said haughtily before turning and storming off. 

“Oh Alex,” Nathan called after her.  “I was so sorry to hear your latest reconciliation with Jordan failed.  I guess your career isn’t the only thing you can’t revive these days.”

“Jordan and I are taking a break,” she told him. 

“Of course.  But I’d be careful if I were you.  With Lola living with him now, she could make things difficult for you.  You know what a fan she is of yours.” 

Glaring at his sarcastic remark, she turned and walked toward the Polo Lounge to meet Marilee.  She had no idea that Lola had moved out of the retirement village and in with Jordan.   Not that she expected him to tell her.  Their break seemed more permanent with every day that passed. 

Moonshadows

Brad walked into his hotel room and turned on the light.  As he did, he heard the cocking of a gun.  Standing frozen in his tracks, he raised his hands so as not to startle whoever had made their way into his room. 

“Turn around,” a voice said from behind. 

Slowly, Brad did as they instructed.  When he saw Trevor standing before him holding a gun at him, he began to panic. 

“What the hell-“ he began.

“Shut up,” Trevor ordered.  “Suppose you tell me what the hell went wrong last night.”

“Trevor, I-"

“You were supposed to kill Miranda Blackthorne,” Trevor interrupted him.  “You said you could handle it.  It was as good as done, you said.  So if that’s the case, then why is Hugh’s body laying in the morgue instead of hers?” 

“I don’t know,” Brad stammered.  “Look, I went to the house but I-“ 

“What happened at the house?”

“It was dark.  I went in and….I don’t know.” 

“And how did my boss wind up in a freezer at a resort across town?” Trevor demanded. 

Brad frowned in confusion.  “I don’t know.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I talked to Hugh last night at around eight o’clock.  He was pissed at you.  He said you couldn’t be trusted to do anything.  Next thing I know he’s got a bullet in his head.” 

“Look, I don’t know!”

Trevor pushed him across the room and slammed him against the wall.  “I need answers.  If you think I’m going forget about the deal you made with Hugh, you’re wrong. Miranda Blackthorne is still alive.  You’ve still got a job to do.”

Brad let a few gasps of air escape his throat.  “What?  You still want her dead?”

“That’s what he paid you for.  If it doesn’t happen soon, I’m coming back for that money.” 

“Look, I just want out.  I want to forget that-“

“You’re so far in that you’ll never get out,” Trevor warned him.  “So you’d better get your story straight and figure out what the hell happened last night or the next visit to the morgue is going to be yours.” 

With one final look of warning, Trevor holstered his gun and left the suite.  Brad breathed a sigh of relief and sunk to the floor, his head between his hands.  What was he going to do?  He could disappear but Trevor would track him down.  He was trapped.

Kelly Kahoano

Kelly Blackthorne needed money.  She’d burned through anything she’d made from Angel Assassin 2, and Neil Winslow hadn’t given her a cent, so she was beginning to feel desperate.  Stormy certainly wouldn’t give her anything other than the roof she had over her head, particularly now that she’d made a scapegoat out of his sister. 

She passed a second hand couture shop on Melrose a few days before, and decided she’d have to hock some of her clothes.  But after a quick glance through her closet, she realized she didn’t have much that was worth anything.  Quietly, she crept down the hall into Miranda’s room and went to her closet. 

“Bingo,” she murmured to herself, in awe at the racks of designer clothes that lined the enormous walk-in.  She decided it was bigger than her entire apartment back in Manhattan.  

She grabbed hangers of clothes from the back, thinking they were probably older and wouldn’t be worn as often.  But the labels themselves were worth a fortune. Gucci, Prada, and a hundred handbags that she never saw her using.  She probably wouldn’t miss them if some of them disappeared. 

Loading her arms full, she looked down toward the back of the closet and found the beaded gown they’d fought over at the boutique a few days before.  The sight of the garment enraged her all over again.  She couldn’t resist spiting her by hocking it for way less than she probably paid.  Balancing herself under the weight of the clothes, she knelt down and picked the dress up.   Beneath it a gold medallion rested on the carpet.  Frowning, Kelly picked it up and looked at it in the light. 

“This doesn’t look like Miranda’s taste,” she said to herself.  But with the realization that if Miranda bought it, it must be worth a ton, she added it to the pile and made her way out of the room. 

Starting down the hall, she neared her bedroom door when a voice from behind startled her.  Several items from her loot fell to the floor and she turned around, cringing.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Miranda asked, glowering furiously at her.  “Are those my clothes?”

“No, they’re mine.”

Miranda picked one of the items up from the floor.  An iridescent blue halter top she bought at a boutique in Rome.  “Liar.  This is mine.”  She ravaged through the rest of the pile.  “These are all mine!  What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m helping my mother with the dry cleaning,” she said defensively.  “God, will you back up?”

“Not until you give me my clothes back, you lying skank!” Miranda shrieked. 

Fed up with her tirade, Kelly lifted her arms and let the pile drop to the floor.  “Fine,” she said, turning and attempting to walk away.

“Not so fast,” Miranda said and went after her.  “You were seriously going to steal my clothes?  Did you honestly think I wouldn't find out?"

“You know what, Miranda?  I’m sick to death of your holier than thou attitude.  So I took a few things from your closet.  Like you’d even miss them.  Bloomingdales has less inventory than you do.” 

Miranda folded her arms and glared heatedly at her. 

“Besides, I think pandering prostates constitutes a little more of an offense than hocking some of your clothes,” Kelly went on.  “I’m sure it’ll be no time before Eddie washes his hands completely of you.  If he hasn’t already.” 

“Look, Hilo Hattie, why don’t you stay the hell out of my life?” Miranda snarled.  “What is it with you anyway?  You’re so unahappy that you have to make everyone else miserable to?” 

“I got you back for setting me up for stealing those earrings,” Kelly replied.  “I’ve never been happier.  Just knowing that you resorted to something as low as prostitution is enough to keep me going for a while.” 

“I didn’t sleep with anyone.  But I guess you left that part out when you did your little smear campaign.”

“So you’re a whore of a different color?”

Miranda drew her hand back and slapped her hard across the face.  Kelly reeled from the blow, holding her hand over her cheek as the sting burned through her skin.

“Leave me alone,” Miranda went on.  “Don’t even look at me from now on because I swear to God one wrong move and I’ll obliterate you.” 

Kelly scoffed and darted down the hall to her bedroom.  After she’d gone, Miranda looked down at the pile of clothes.  She detected something gold and shiny and bent down to pick up the medallion.  With a frown, she turned it around in her hand.  She hadn’t remembered seeing it before.  So where did it come from? 

Moonshadows

“Where have you been?” Chelsea demanded as she and Akilah slipped into the booth across from Brad.   “We’ve been trying to find you since last night!”

Looking around to ensure no one was within earshot, he lowered his sunglasses and leaned across the table at them. 

“You two shouldn’t be here,” he said.

“Where else should we be?” Akilah demanded. 

“You just shouldn’t be seen with me.  Just go.”

“Go where?”

“I don’t care!  Go to Titan and work on some tracks or something.  I don’t care.”

Chelsea rolled her eyes and whispered across the table at him.  “Brad, let’s just go back to New Martin.  Let’s just forget about this whole disaster of a trip.” 

“You can leave whenever you want to, Chelsea,” he insisted.  “Akilah and I have to stay for a few more days.”

“Yesterday you couldn’t wait to get out of here,” Akilah said with a frown.  “What’s with the one-eighty?”

He closed his eyes briefly.  The truth was, he didn’t want to attract too much attention.  Too many people already knew he was there.  Stormy, Trevor, not to mention Caleb back in New Martin.  If he left now, they’d wonder why. 

“Just do this for me, please,” he finally said.

“Brad,” Chelsea began.  “We know you were at that house last night.  We know you were had some kind of deal going with Hugh Rogers.  You had a gun.  Now today we find out he’s dead.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he insisted.  “Look, Chelsea, stay or go.  I don’t really care.  But Akilah and I have work to do.” 

With that, he got up and stormed through the bar.   They looked at each other knowingly and sat in silence for a few moments.

“Do you think he’s telling the truth?” Chelsea asked.

“I don’t know!” Akilah snapped.  “We were together the whole time!  How would I know anything different than you?”

“What if Brad saw us there?” Chelsea said ominously. 

“He didn’t,” Akilah maintained, swooping into her purse for her phone.  “We would have known if he’d seen us.”

“Why else would he be trying to get rid of me?” Chelsea demanded.  “He’s trying to pin something on me by saying I left town after this guys’ corpse turned up.” 

Akilah dug her elbows into the table and rubbed her eyes.  "This is all such a mess.  I wish I'd never come here."

"And if Brad insists on staying for any amount of time, you're going to miss your wedding rehearsal this week."  

“Oh no,” Akilah said, continuing to dig through her purse.

“What’s wrong?”

“My phone’s missing,” Akilah said, desperately scouring through tubes of lipstick, compacts, and empty gum wrappers for her cell.  “What if Matt tries to call?”

"You can use mine."  Chelsea grabbed her phone and saw that the battery was low.  "After I find a charger, that is."

"Brilliant."

Chelsea looked at her knowingly.  “Wait a minute.  Forget Matt.  Where did you leave your phone?”

Akilah looked up and thought back to the night before.  “I remember having it when we got to the mansion.  Remember I used the flashlight app?”

“What about after that?” Chelsea asked in a panic.

“I don’t know,” Akilah told her.  “I don’t remember seeing is since then.” 

“Oh great,” Chelsea said and slid out of the booth.  “If you left it at the mansion and the police find it, you’re in big trouble.“

We’re in big trouble,” Akilah reminded her.  “It was your idea to go there in the first place, remember?” 

Chelsea nodded in agreement.  “What about that girl?  The one you know from Marquette Cove?” 

Farrah?  That skank?  What about her?”

“She saw me there, Akilah.  She knows I was at the mansion.  What if she tells someone?  We could both be in a lot of trouble.” 

Stormy was pacing his office at Titan Records when Eddie walked in, glancing nervously behind before closing the door.  When Stormy turned and saw him, he jumped. 

“Jesus, you scared me,” he said, placing a hand on his chest.  “What are you doing?” 

"Making sure no one followed me,” Eddie said, sliding along the wall across the room.  

Why?” Stormy asked with an incredulous frown.

“I don’t know.  I just am.  Jeez.  Anyway, sorry I ran off like that earlier.”

Stormy sighed and sat down at his desk.  “You probably wanted to get away from Miranda and Jane’s lies every bit as much as I did.” 

“That, yes.  But also I didn’t want them knowing the truth about last night.” 

“The truth about what?” Stormy asked.  “Eddie, what happened when you got to Gemma’s mansion last night?” 

He looked out the window, his back to him.  “What makes you think I went to Gemma’s?”

“Because when you left Kelly and I at the restaurant you were ticked off about what Miranda had been up to.  I figured you went there to talk to her.”

As Eddie turned, he dug his hands in his pockets.  “I made a stop and then I went to see her, yes.” 

“And what happened when you got there?  Someone canceled the party.  None of Miranda’s girls or her clients were there.”

Eddie looked at him suspiciously.  “How did you know the party was canceled unless you went to the mansion?” 

A few moments of silence followed .  When the door opened and Jane entered in a hurry, they both looked at her. 

“Stormy, we have to talk,” she said, then stopped when she saw Eddie by the window.  “Sorry.  I didn’t know you weren’t alone.” 

“Jane, I really don’t feel like talking right now,” Stormy insisted.  He went through the motions of arranging papers on her desk in an effort to avoid looking at her.  “I’m still pissed about your decision to keep quiet about my sister’s recent activities.”

“And I’m sorry,” she said.  “I don’t know how many more times I can say it.  But listen, I have to talk to you about last night.  I’m going crazy.  If I don’t tell someone I’ll-“

“What about last night?” Stormy asked.  “What do you know?”

“Yeah, what do you know?” Eddie repeated.

She brushed a lock of golden blond hair from her eyes and moved closer.  “I saw the blood on your shirt, Stormy.  I know you were there when Hugh Rogers got shot.  I know you don’t expect me to buy that story about fake blood from the studio.” 

“Blood?” Eddie asked.  “Where did the blood come from?”

Aggravated, Stormy got up and walked around to the other side of the desk.  “All right, I was there.  After I left Kelly at the restaurant I started driving home but I decided to see if I could talk to Miranda.  When I got to the house, it was empty.” 

“So where did the blood come from?” Jane asked, folding her arms.

“I went into one of the rooms downstairs and found blood on the floor,” he explained.  “When I bent down to get a closer look I guess some of it got on my sleeve."

“And then what happened?” Jane asked.

He shrugged.  “I left.  I looked around the house but didn’t find anything.  I spent the rest of the night driving around looking for Miranda.  I was scared to death that Hugh Rogers killed her and that it was her blood I found.”

“But it was Hugh’s blood on the living room floor,” Eddie said.

They both looked at him curiously.  “I never said it was in the living room,” Stormy told him.  “How would you have known that?”

He looked nervously at them and backed up to the window again.  “I was there too,” he said.  “Only earlier.  When I got to the mansion no one was there.  No one alive, anyway.” 

“What do you mean no one alive?”  Jane inquired. 

“I saw Hugh’s body,” he confessed.  “He’d been shot.” 

Stormy narrowed his eyes on him and walked toward him.  “He was dead?”

“Deader than a doornail.”

“So then when I showed up sometime later, he was gone.  How did he get moved to the freezer at Moonshadows?”

Eddie shrugged.  “Someone moved him.”

You moved him,” Stormy surmised in a panic.  “Eddie, did you kill him because he’d been threatening Miranda?  Were you so worried about her that you’d take someone’s life?” 

“I told you I showed up and he was dead,” Eddie replied defensively.  "I didn’t feel like sticking around and hanging out with a corpse so I left.  When I turned on the news this morning and they said they found him in the freezer, I was as shocked as anyone.”

Stormy didn’t believe him.  He hated thinking it but he knew how devoted Eddie was to his sister.  He’d been in love with her since high school. There was a chance it could be his baby Miranda was carrying.  He know the lengths he’d go to to protect them.

“Where did you go after you left the restaurant?” Stormy asked.  “I mean, why didn’t you go right to the mansion?  If you were so worried, you would have gone right there.” 

Eddie appeared to struggle with his answer.  “I just had to stop somewhere first, okay?” 

“You went to get a gun, didn’t you?” Stormy asked, shaking his head in disbelief.  “Jesus Christ, you killed that man.  I knew it.” 

“I didn’t kill anyone,” Eddie insisted.  “But if you’re asking if I felt Miranda or our baby were threatened enough, would I consider it?  Yes.  I would.  I would have killed him in a heartbeat if he’d hurt either of them.” 

Jane listened intently, now more sure than ever that she couldn’t say anything about last night.  Eddie couldn’t have killed Hugh Rogers.  She was very certain of that.

James Blackthorne

It was early that evening when they arrived at the house in Palm Springs.  James and Mackenzie pulled up to the sprawling mid-century house first.  Behind them, Ethan maneuvered his car to a halt and slowly turned the key to the off position.  Sitting in the passenger’s seat, Brooke stared through the windshield with her arms folded angrily across her chest. 

“Look, I’m sorry,” he said.  “I didn’t think to mention it before.  I didn’t think it would matter that much to you.” 

Quickly, she shot him a penetrating glare.  “You didn’t think it would matter that you invited me on a weekend to the desert with James and Mackenzie?  I thought this was supposed to be a chance for us to get away together.” 

“It is,” Ethan insisted.  He gestured to the house.  “The place has seven bedrooms.  We don’t even have to see them if we don’t want to.  Brooke, come on.  I’m trying here.” 

She sighed and looked into her lap.  “I just wish you would have told me, that’s all.  I feel blindsided, Ethan.  It’s like you have no regard for my feelings.” 

“That is not true.  Your feelings are all I ever think about anymore.  Why don’t you just admit what this is really about?  You don’t like Mackenzie.  You hate that I’m working with her and you hate the idea of spending the weekend with her.” 

“Don’t try to turn this into a grudge,” Brooke cautioned him.  “This is about common courtesy.” 

“So what do you want to do?” he asked.  “Do you want to leave?  Because if you do, we can drive back to L.A. and forget all about spending time together because God knows you’ll probably lock yourself up in your office all weekend.” 

“No, I don’t want to leave,” she said after a certain amount of hesitation.   “We’re here.  We might as well make the best of it.” 

Ethan hoped that she meant what she said.  The last thing he wanted this weekend to turn into was a big fight.  He shoved the car door open and stepped out onto the glaring pavement. 

“Place hasn’t changed much,” James called while taking bags from the car.

“Looks great,” Ethan said, flashing Brooke a look while pulling their bags from the trunk. 

Mackenzie walked around the car, gathering her briefcase and assorted other belongings.   “James, this place is beautiful.  I can’t wait to see the inside.” 

“Well come on,” he said and guided her to the door.  “I’ll show you around.” 

They all walked into the house and set their bags on the marble floors.  Stark modern furniture was sprinkled throughout the ranch style home.  They entered the kitchen where there were glimmering shadows from the swimming pool.

“I called ahead and had the groundskeeper stock the kitchen,” James alerted them while opening the refrigerator.  “We should be set for the weekend.  How does everyone feel about kebobs for dinner?”

“That sounds great,” Brooke said.  She decided to make a concentrated effort to be positive about the weekend despite her misgivings. 

Mackenzie went to the table and unpacked her briefcase.  “I thought Ethan and I could get some work done before dinner,” she said.  “I hope nobody minds.  I’m not exactly a whiz in the kitchen anyway.” 

“Absolutely,” James said.  “Brooke and I can play chef for the night.  Right Brooke?” 

She looked at him, mouth gaping, then turned to Ethan.  “You’re going to be working?”

Before things could escalate into another argument, he led her out of the room.  “We just have a little bit of budget stuff to figure out,” he told her.  “It won’t take long.  I promise.” 

“You said this weekend was about us spending time together,” she said angrily as she pushed a lock of blond hair from her forehead.  “First I find out we’re here with those two, and now I find out you’re planning on working all weekend.  Forgive me if I don’t see how any of this is going to bring us closer together.” 

“Would you please just listen to me?” Ethan protested. 

She shook her head and put her hands up defensively.  “You know what?  It doesn’t matter.  Just go be Mackenzie’s slave and I’ll cook dinner like the good little woman.  Just tell her to be careful.  I’d hate for her to choke on a skewer.” 

With that, she stormed back into the kitchen.  Ethan sighed and shook his head in frustration.  He realized he’d handled things badly with her, but her reaction was extreme even for her.   He wondered if she was on edge about anything else. 

Kelly Kahoano

After her failed attempt at hocking Miranda’s clothes for money, Kelly decided it was time to do something to secure her future.  She could feel the heavy thumb of Stormy’s wrath about to weigh down on her, so her easy ride at the Blackthorne mansion was probably nearing an end.   And when that happened, she would have no money to fall back on.

Deciding to call upon a recent new acquaintance, she dressed in her most revealing outfit that boasted an impossibly short hemline and an abundance of enterprising cleavage.  With dangerously high heels and her hair teezed into oblivion, she knocked on the door of the palatial home in Beverly Hills. 

“Mrs. Blackthorne,” Vaughan Novak said with surprise upon opening the door.  “This is an unexpected surprise.” 

“It certainly is,” she said from the porch.  “I had no idea this was your house.” 

Vaughan frowned.  “I’m sorry.  Aren’t you here to see me?” 

She gestured down the street.  “My car broke down a block away and my phone died.  I knocked on the place across the street but no one was home.” 

“That’s Victor Distefano’s house,” Vaughan informed her.  “Nobody lives there.”

“Oh, well I’m glad I tried your door next,” Kelly said with a coquettish smile.

Vaughan returned her smile.  “Would you like to use the phone?” 

“Thank you,” she said and slithered inside the expansive foyer.   “I hope I’m not disturbing you.” 

“Not at all,” Vaughan replied.  He couldn’t deny how attractive the young woman was.  She smelled of Georgio, which amused him.  Cheap perfume always smelled incredibly alluring on exotic women.

“I really want to thank you for being so nice to me a few weeks ago when we met at Benji’s funeral,” she said, lingering by the phone but making no attempt at using it.  “I felt so awkward being there.  But I suppose if I hadn’t gone the Blackthornes would have found a way to use it against me.” 

“Families can be difficult,” Vaughan said, forcing his hands in his pockets to hide his erection.  “I understand you’re still living there despite your divorce from Stormy.” 

“I’m staying for our son,” she said, leaning against a console table and allowing her skirt to creep slowly up her thighs.  “It’s just hard because I don’t want to take anything from the Blackthornes.  I want to make my own way, you know?”

“That’s admirable,” Vaughan said slowly, speaking more about the fact that she wasn’t wearing underwear than he was about her future plans.

Kelly knew he was checking her out, which told her that her plan was working perfectly.  Seduce the biggest talent agent in town, and all the most sought after parts would be hers.

She turned and picked up a picture frame that rested on the table.  “Is this your son?” she asked, looking at the picture of Sheldon.

Vaughan nodded and stepped forward.   “Yes, that’s him.” 

She smiled again.  “I see he gets his good looks from his father.”  A quick check to see his reaction.  She decided to step up her efforts by slipping out of her shoe and playfully dragging her toes along the surface of his leg.

“That’s nice of you to say,” Vaughan said sheepishly, his face flushed.  “And you’re a very attractive woman, Mrs. Blackthorne.”

From the look in his eyes, Kelly could see that she had him exactly where she wanted him.  She stepped forward and stopped inches from him.  Looking up into his eyes, she playfully ran her finger over her lips.  “I guess I should call the auto club.” 

He looked down at her, his breathing labored with excitement over the close proximity of their bodies.  “Or you could stay for a little while,” he suggested with a knowing look in his eyes.  “Sheldon’s out with friends for the day.” 

“I’d love to stay.”  She looked down at the tell-tale tenting in his pants and then grinned mischievously.   Moving her hands to his waistband, she paused and looked at him again.  “Do you mind?”

Laughing, Vaughan ran a hand over his sweaty face.  “No, absolutely not.” 

As Kelly unfastened his belt and lowered his zipper, loud knocking at the door startled him and he pulled away.

“Shit,” he said, zipping back up.

“Get rid of them,” Kelly said. 

“Vaughan, it’s Alex!” called a voice from outside followed by another knock and two rings of the doorbell. 

“Oh shit,” he repeated. 

“What is she doing here?” Kelly demanded angrily.

“I’ll find out,” he told her and opened a door in the foyer.  “Here, hide inside here until I get rid of her.” 

“What?” she shrieked.  “I’m not hiding in the basement!”

“It’s just for a minute,” he insisted, ushering her through the door and quickly closing it.   Once she was safely out of view, he composed himself and went to open the door.  “Alex, this is a surprise.” 

“I’ll go out with you,” she said.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I made up my mind.  I’ll go to dinner with you.”   Her conversation with Nathan had made her realize that waiting around for Jordan was a lost cause.   She was tired of feeling dead inside.  She was still relatively young.  There was no reason she shouldn’t see other men. 

“Great,” Vaughan said.  “Tomorrow night?” 

“Perfect,” she said.  “Pick me up at my apartment at eight.” 

On the other side of the door to the basement, Kelly lingered on the top step, angrily listening to their conversation.  She became incensed over the fact that she was seconds away from blowing him and now he was making dinner plans with Alex Reynolds. 

Trying not to look behind her at the darkness of the ominous basement, she folded her arms and bided her time.  When she heard noises coming from below, however, chills ran up and down her spine.

Cringing, she turned and looked down the stairs.  “Hello?” she whispered to the darkness.   “Is someone there?” 

More noises, followed by the door opening and daylight finally revealing itself.  The sight of Vaughan standing there semi-hard incensed her enough to forget about the strange noises.  Instead, she barreled toward him and looked around to ensure Alex was gone.

“What the hell was that?’ she lamented.  “Tell me you’re not going out with Alex Reynolds.” 

“I asked her days ago,” Vaughan admitted.  He decided against telling her that he’d made the invitation in exchange for agreeing not to help Kelly with her career.  “How was I supposed to know you were going to stop by and-“

“And what?” she asked.  “You know what?  Forget it.  I want nothing to do with that woman and I want nothing to do with you.  This whole thing was a bad idea.”

Vaughan followed her to the door.  “You can’t just leave me like this,” he said and looked down to this crotch.  “Come on.” 

Furious over his nerve, she went to a vase of flowers resting on the center table and dumped the stems onto the floor.  Before he knew what hit him, she dumped the water from inside on his crotch and slammed the vase down again. 

“That should cool you off for a while,” she said before turning and storming out of the house. 

Police Station

In his office at police headquarters, Detective Rodriguez made notes about the murder investigation.  So far there was not much to go on.  A frozen stiff in a cooler, no fingerprints or fibers on the body to speak of, and no clue as to where the murder was actually committed.  Rogers probably had more enemies than he could shake a stick at, making the list of potential suspects plentiful.  When nothing turned up at Moonshadows, he sent patrol officers out to question some of the prostitutes who worked for him.

When his phone rang, he answered it hastily.  “Rodriguez.” 

“The guy you’re looking for frequents the Beverly Wilshire,” an anonymous voice came over the line.  “Room 1305.”

“What guy?” Rodriguez asked, his interest suddenly peaking. 

“A senator who enjoys action on the side,” the called revealed.  “You could say he made an enemy out of Hugh Rogers.” 

Before Rodriguez could say another word, the caller hung up. 

Mason Stone

In his cabana at Moonshadows, Mason hung up the phone with a smile.  He swirled the ice around in his glass of vodka and soda and took a heaping gulp.  Satisfied with his performance, he walked across the small room and picked up the evening edition of the paper.   Hugh’s murder was front page.  Just what he needed to plague Moonshadows with more problems.  With any luck, he wouldn’t have to lift a finger to drive Brooke Taylor out of business.   Society would do it for him.   And when Senator Nordquists’s involvement with Hugh Rogers and with prostitutes came out, his position on the Coastal Commission would be compromised.  Bad luck was about to plague the sprawling beach resort.  And he’d be one step closer to becoming filthy rich with oil. 

Jim Nordquist

“Do that thing with your tongue again,” Jim Nordquist said as he lay naked on the bed with Farrah.   “You know, the thing you did earlier.” 

Exhausted, Farrah twisted away from him.  “Again?”

“Come on,” he said sheepishly while tracing a finger down her cleavage.  “Just one more time.” 

“That’s what you said the last time.  I’m getting paid by the hour, remember?”

“I’m good for it. I promise.  Just once more.  You drive me crazy, Farrah.  You’re the best girl of Miranda’s I’ve had yet.  How do you know how to do these things?”

Before she could protest, there was a loud knock at the door.  They both sat up in a panic, staring blankly across the room while waiting for another knock. 

“Jim Nordquist,” called a booming voice from the hall.  “This is the police.  Open up immediately.” 

“Jesus,” Jim said, hopping off the bed and quickly pulling on his pants.  “It’s the fucking police.  How the fuck did they know I was here with you?” 

“I don’t know,” Farrah said, hurriedly pulling on a camisole and a pair of matching panties.  “Should I hide?” 

Her question proved futile when the door opened and Detective Rodriguez entered with a uniformed police office.  Behind them, a hotel security guard hovered in the hall. 

“Jim Nordquist?” the detective asked, flashing his badge. 

“Yes.  Look, I’ve never done this before.  Please, you have to believe me.  I’m a married man. I have a career.” 

But Rodriguez wasn’t interested in his extramarital activities.  “You’re wanted for questioning in the murder of Hugh Rogers.”

“What?” Nordquist exclaimed.  “Murder?” 

Farrah’s eyes flashed open wide as she watched the events unfold.  How was this possible?  She hadn’t seen him at the house the night before.  Could he have snuck into the mansion and killed Hugh without her knowing? 

“You’ve got the wrong person!” Nordquist said, struggling as the police officer handcuffed him.  “It’s not me you should be arresting!  I wanted him dead but I didn’t kill him!  It’s Miranda Blackthorne you should be arresting!  She’s the killer!” 

James Blackthorne

After a late dinner, James and Brooke cleaned up the kitchen while Ethan and Mackenzie worked outside at the patio table.   Brooke couldn’t help but stare outside through the glass doors at them, blazing flames from the fire pit darting into the sky and providing light for them to work by.   As she dried a plate with a hand towel, she grew more aggravated by the minute.  The whole weekend away seemed pointless to her now.  They weren’t alone.  They weren’t even together.  She would have been better off staying home and letting Ethan and Mackenzie go away together.  Her mind started to wander, taking her back to Moonshadows and the craziness going on there.

“Brooke?” James said, trying to snap her out of her daze.  “You okay?”

“Huh?” she asked, finally turning from the window.

He smiled.  “That dish has been dry for ten minutes,” he told her and took the plate from her.  He knew her well enough to know she was upset.  “You’re not happy about this weekend, are you?”

Sighing, she turned and leaned against the kitchen island.  “It’s not exactly what I envisioned when Ethan suggested we go away together.”

“That’s partially my fault,” he admitted.  “I wanted to get away with Mackenzie so bad that I suggested she kill two birds with one stone and have you and Ethan come along so they could work.”

“It’s just the way he went about it,” she confessed.  “I don’t like being blindsided.” 

James regarded her carefully while pouring them each a glass of wine.  “Things haven’t been easy for you since Ethan came back, I know.”

“You make me sound so needy,” she said with a chuckle.  “Honestly, James, I hate being that way.  It’s not my way or the highway.  I just thought it would have been easier by now.  But instead of growing closer, we seem to be growing further apart.  All we do is argue.” 

“Well what are you arguing about?”

“Everything,” she said while drawing her glass across the counter.  “Kyle, Mackenzie, Michael, our jobs.  Sometimes I wonder what we ever had together.”

“I shouldn’t have to remind you how in love you were,” James said.  While her and Ethan’s romance had been at his expense, he no longer harbored ill feelings about it.  He regretted his controlling ways while he and Brooke were married because in the end their unraveling was partially his own doing. 

“So why can’t we get to that place again?” she wondered aloud.  “What is so damned difficult about admitting how we feel to each other?  If we were meant to be together, no one else should matter.” 

James took a sip of his wine and stared into his glass for a few reflective moments.  “I hate to say this, but have you ever wondered if maybe your feelings have changed?”

The prospect turned her stomach into knots.  She felt pained by the idea that she and Ethan weren’t really meant to be together.  By the notion that they’d grown apart.  How could that be possible after everything they’d gone through to be together?

“I’m sorry,” James said, now regretting having said anything.  “I’m probably wrong.” 

“Maybe not,” she said.  “He went through a lot in the year and a half that he was away.  We both did.  We’re not the same people we were before the earthquake.”

James reached across the table and placed a hand on hers.  “You’ll figure it out,” he said.  “You always have.” 

She smiled and embraced him warmly.  When her cell phone rang, she wiped a tear from her eyes and went to retrieve it.   By the display, she could see that it was Kyle calling.

“Kyle?” she said after answering.  “Is everything okay?"

“Everything’s fine,” he said from his house in Malibu.   He stood on the terrace overlooking the turbulent ocean, bare-chested as the warm ocean breeze enveloped him.

“What’s the latest on Hugh Rogers?” she wanted to know.

“The police are still investigating,” he replied and turned to lean against the railing.  “They do know he wasn’t killed at Moonshadows.  Somebody moved him there after he was already dead.” 

Brooke sighed and rubbed her eyes.  “God, I can’t believe something like this is happening at Moonshadows.  Have guests still been checking out?"

“It seems to have leveled off,” he replied, running a hand over his chest.  “Look, I called because Renee faxed some forms from Monte Carlo that she needs your signature on.” 

“What kind of forms?”

He shrugged.  “I think they’re pertaining to the marina expansion.  In order to release more funds into the project, it needs signatures from both of you.”

“Oh,” Brooke said.  “Well, can you fax them to me?”  She covered the phone with her hand and looked at James.  “Do you have a fax?”

He shook his head apologetically.  “Sorry.  It’s always been a no-work zone here before.  My old rules.”

She went back to the call.  “Kyle, can you have them messengered?  I’ll give you the address.” 

“Sure,” he said. “I’ll have one of the cabana boys drive them out in the morning.”

After she gave him the information, she hung up and turned back to James.   “What?” she asked when she caught him staring at her. 

He shrugged.  “Nothing.”

“James, I know that look.  What is it?”

He placed one hand in his pocket.  “You’re still not over Kyle, are you?”

Frowning, she turned away and offered up a chuckle.  “What?  That’s crazy.  Of course I’m over Kyle.  You know what he did to me.” 

He followed her across the room.  “But before everything turned out so badly, you were happy.  Happier than you’ve been in a long time if you ask me.  Whatever Kyle did to mess things up, you can’t deny that you felt something for him.  Have you ever thought that maybe you can’t get things to work with Ethan because you’re not ready to let Kyle go?” 

She laughed again, this time to hide the feelings of guilt.  James have a very valid point, which only made her feel even worse about the whole situation. 

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda decided to head to her office in Beverly Hills to get rid of any evidence that could incriminate her in the business.  With Hugh’s murder, it was only a matter of time before she was linked to him.  And when that happened, the police would find out about her responsibilities as Gemma’s replacement. 

When she pulled her car up to the curb, she climbed out and immediately doubled over in pain.  The baby was kicking furiously, coupled with cramps that had been plaguing her for the past two days.   She began to realize that the stress over everything she’d been through was weighing heavily on her baby.  No wonder Eddie was so furious with her.

Walking up to the door, she fumbled with her keys and dropped them suddenly when blinding lights illuminated the building from behind her.   Panicked, she spun around and shielded her eyes as a car approached. 

Standing helplessly, she stood waiting to see who was there.  When Detective Rodriguez appeared, she tensed.  

“Good evening Miss Blackthorne,” he said with a smirk.  “Out for a drive?”

“Is that a crime?” she asked defiantly. 

He laughed.  “No, not at all.  It’s a beautiful night."

“It is.  So why don’ t you let me enjoy it?”

Rodriguez scratched the back of his head while proceeding closer.  “We just had a very interesting conversation with an acquaintance of yours.  He had a few things to say about some recent business deals you’ve been making.” 

“Business deals?” Miranda asked.  She was determined to remain calm.  One look of guilt and she could blow it.

“Let’s not beat around the bush, Miss Blackthorne,” Rodriguez said.  “We know you’ve replaced Gemma Sanders in her former role as madam of this town.”

“Madam?” Miranda asked.  “Surely you’ve seen too many movies, detective.  Unless you haven’t noticed, I’m pregnant.  I’m not exactly in any position to work in such a demanding field.” 

He laughed again.  “What’s this office you were going into?” 

“Just a project I’m working on,” she replied. 

“Project?” he asked.  “Why don’t you open the door and let us see.” 

“Do you have a warrant?”

“Do we need one?”

She laughed, already sick of his pretentious attitude.  Why did cops always think they had all the answers?

“Fine,” she said, turning and unlocking the door.    In her chest, her heart beat wildly.  She hoped she knew what she was doing.

As they entered the office, Miranda turned on the light and looked across the room at her desk.   It was empty.  No trace of files were on the surface, and the filing cabinets that surrounded it were open and, more importantly, empty. 

“It’s just an empty office,” Rodriguez said in disbelief. 

Miranda shrugged, making sure she didn’t miss a beat.   “Yeah.  What did you expect?”

He looked around for a minute before turning back to her.  “Where’s all the client files?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, detective.  If this is about some grand delusion that I’ve become a madam, I’m afraid you’re sorely mistaken.” 

Rodriguez glanced around once more.  “Ever heard of a guy named Hugh Rogers?” 

“Should I have?” she asked.

He smiled and shook his head.  “I suppose not.” 

Miranda breathed a sigh of relief as he turned and retreated to the door.  Before he left, he turned back. 

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but you can believe I’ll find out.  It isn’t just a coincidence that you were here tonight.  And however you’re involved, it’s my job to find out.  Don’t think I won’t.” 

Miranda watched him leave, finally breathing a sigh of relief.  She turned back to her office and looked around in confusion.  Where had all of her things gone?  The client files and the address books and the appointment calendars?   Every trace of it had disappeared. 


Next time....

The crossover event Girls of Summer, continues on Nightingales # 10.  Meanwhile, Jordan investigates the pictures left of Lola.  Emotions run high in Palm Springs.  Kelly finds another means of getting by.  

 

 

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