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Episode 147

 

Release Date:  August 16, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

After Hugh's body was discovered in the freezer at the Cahuenga Room, Mason assumed Senator Nordquist killed him in retaliation for revealing his penchant for call girls.  When the police went to question Nordquist, he fingered Miranda as the culprit, indicating she was working as a Hollywood madam.  When the police went to intercept Miranda at her office, she panicked that they would find her client files.  After opening the door, however, the files were gone.   Stormy and Eddie blasted Miranda and Jane for keeping the truth about Miranda's new position a secret.  Stormy accused Eddie of killing Hugh to protect Miranda.   Chelsea and Akilah thought Brad killed Hugh.  Akilah was arrested when her cell phone was found at the murder scene, but she was released when she told the police a version of the truth.  Hugh's son, Tyler, arrived in town and got Farrah to tell him about Miranda's involvement with Hugh.  James invited Mackenzie to Palm Springs, but she insisted she was too busy with work, so James suggested Ethan and Brooke come along. Brooke grew angry when Ethan and Mackenzie spent most of the time working., and then James suggested she might be looking for reasons to be angry at Ethan because she isn't over Kyle.  Kelly tried to seduce Vaughan in order to get him to represent her, but Alex showed up and agreed to his dinner invitation, prompted by another rejection by Jordan.  While hiding from Alex, Kelly heard noises coming from Vaughan's basement.  Stormy offered Nathan the lead in The Benefactor. Another attempt was made on Lola's life, and another photograph of her was left at the scene.  

 


  

Episode 147

"Gemini Rising"

 

It had been five years since Jordan had hooked up with B.J. Summers, a California bleached blonde who’d starred in a number of his movies back in the heyday of Rydell Productions.  A mane of blond hair, shimmering blue eyes, and fake boobs that burst from the seams of her low cut blouse were just a few of the things about her that kept him coming back.   B.J. was the sister of Shailene Summers, the ex-wife of Scott Kelly who was still recuperating in a clinic after Benji’s violent attack on him two years before.  

BJ was useful in her own way.  An A list actress she was not, but in bed she was a firecracker.  When his sexual appetite finally returned, Jordan phoned her up and had her come straight over.  Two hours later, he carefully escorted her out the side door so that Lola didn’t see.  Why he felt he needed to hide his sex life from his mother was beyond him, but the last thing he needed was to hear her opinion on the subject.

“Call me,” B.J. said with a wink before slipping out the door. 

Jordan’s phone rang as he retreated inside the house.  Lifting it from his pocket, he saw that it was Detective Rodriguez calling. 

“Rodriguez, it’s about time,” he said.  “I’ve been leaving you messages for two days.” 

“I got your messages, Mr. Rydell,” the detective said.  All of them.  But I’m afraid the investigation into the incidents at the Actors Retirement Village is going to have to wait.  I’ve got my hands full with a murder investigation.” 

“Can’t you tell me anything?” Jordan demanded.  “Did you at least have the photographs fingerprinted?” 

“Yes, and there are no traces of prints to speak of.  Whoever left them was obviously not a novice.” 

“Well you can’t just close the case,” Jordan said while rounding the staircase and spying Lola sprawled out on the chaise lounge in the drawing room.  “Someone has tried to kill my mother twice now.”

“As long as she’s with you, I believe she’ll be safe until we can put someone else on the case.  Unfortunately, the mayor wants full attention put on this murder investigation.” 

“Brilliant,” Jordan murmured while running his fingers through his closely cropped hair.   “All right, just let me know when you find anything out.” 

After he hung up, he proceeded into the next room and regarded his mother carefully.  “That was Detective Rodriguez on the phone,” he told her.  “They still don’t know who left those photographs of you.” 

“Oh dear,” Lola said dismissively while flipping through a magazine.   “Jordan, be a doll and refill my martini?”

He sighed and went to the bar.  “You must have some idea of where those pictures came from.”

“Honestly, Jordan, I can’t remember every photo session I sat for,” she said with exasperation.  “Do you know how many photographers I worked with during those days?  They could have been taken anywhere or by anyone and I wouldn’t remember.” 

“Don’t you think it’s strange that they’re both from the same era?  You look the same age in both pictures.  There’s got to be a reason this person chose these particular photographs.” 

Sighing, Lola grabbed the copies from the glass coffee table.  Detective Rodriguez had given them to her so she could see if anything jogged her memory.

“I think they were taken in the sixties,” she remarked dismissively.  Late sixties.”

“So you would have been right around forty at that time,” Jordan said and handed her a fresh drink. 

“Watch it,” she said, throwing him a look of caution.  “Never discuss a woman’s age, particularly mine.”

“So this was before you married Jonas.  You were on contract with Lamont 3.  Were you still married to my father then?” 

“Teddy?” she asked.  “I suppose I would have been.  He didn’t die until seventy-two.” 

“What about movies?” Jordan pried.  “What were you working on at the time?”

Concentrating as best she could, she tapped a perfectly manicured fingernail on her forehead for a moment, then sighed and fell back against the cushions.   “I don’t know,” she said dramatically.  “It’s too difficult.  I can't possibly remember."

Jordan dropped his hands to his sides in frustration.  “Okay,” he said and started to the doors with his hands in his pockets.  Before he left, he turned back as she lifted her martini to her lips.  “Oh, and that’s two of those.  Don’t think I’m not counting.” 

As he left, Lola glared defiantly.  She certainly didn’t need her son keeping track of how many drinks she’d had.  Sighing, she looked back at the photographs again.  Little did Jordan know, she remembered exactly when they were taken.  But the less she told him about them the better off they’d be. 

Miranda Blackthorne

“What do you mean you did it?” Eddie asked Miranda as they stood in the foyer at the Blackthorne mansion.  “Please tell me it’s not what I think it is.”

Miranda looked away while fiddling with the tacky gold medallion that hung around her neck.  “I shoved Hugh Rogers in that freezer at Moonshadows.”

Eddie turned and placed a hand over his pained.  “Oh my God, it’s exactly what I think it is.”  He looked back at her and cringed.  “You killed him?  Great.  You’re going to jail.  My pregnant girlfriend is going to jail and she’s going to give birth in prison to a baby who may or may not be mine.”

“Eddie-“ Miranda protested. 

He shook his head and began pacing the foyer.  “You know, our families may have money and fancy cars and big houses, but when it comes right down to it, we’re basically trash.  What other kind of people have issues like this?” 

“Eddie!” she screamed in order to get his attention.  “I didn’t say I killed him.  I said I put him in the freezer.”

He stopped and shook his head in confusion.  “Wait a minute.  If you didn’t kill him, then why would you go through the trouble of hiding his body?  And why a freezer of all places?”

“It seemed like the perfect place to put him until I could bury him.” 

“Jesus!”  Eddie turned and made an animated gesture with his hands.  “Miranda, you’re like eighty months pregnant and you’re talking to me about burying corpses!  Do you see anything wrong with this picture?” 

“Brooke mentioned that they were pouring cement at the new marina the day after tomorrow. No one would have found him.  And they wouldn’t have if Brooke and Kyle hadn’t looked in that freezer.  It was bad enough Kyle nearly caught us.” 

“Kyle?” Eddie asked.

She grimaced.  “He came up when we were moving the body and I hit him with a tire iron.  I didn’t hit him that hard.  We couldn’t let him see us.” 

“Now you’re hitting people with tire irons?” he asked and turned to her again.  “You said we.  Did someone help you?”  A pause while he reconsidered his question.  “What am I saying?  Of course someone helped you.  You’re all of a hundred and ten pounds.  You couldn’t have hauled that guy around on your own.  So who was it?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said, shaking her head. 

“Miranda, tell me.  Who helped you?” 

Jane,” she finally said with a certain amount of regret.  “She showed up at the house and we both found the body.” 

“You still haven’t answered my question,” Eddie said, walking toward her.  “If you didn’t kill him, why hide the body?  Is it because you thought you would be blamed when they found him?”

She shook her head.  “Not me.  We were protecting someone.”

“You were protecting the real killer?  Who?  Miranda, who killed him?” 

She knew she could trust him.  He’d always been there for her.  Maybe he could even help.  With a deep breath, she uttered the name of the person who had shot Hugh point blank in the head.

Farrah.”

When Tyler Rogers got back to the Beverly Wilshire, he strode through the lobby and took the elevator to the sixth floor.   Before he even proceeded into the hall, he heard music blaring from one of the rooms.   Frowning, he walked closer and realized that it was coming from the room he’d left Farrah in.   On top of that, there appeared to be a hotel manager and another hotel employee standing outside the room about to enter. 

“What are you doing?” Tyler demanded and quickly intercepted them. 

“Is this your room, Mister…..?” the manager shouted over the blaring music.

“Rogers,” he answered, fumbling for his key.  “Yes, it is.  I just went out for a minute.  I must have set the alarm and forgot.”

“Mr. Rogers, may I bring to your attention the fact that the Beverly Wilshire is a respectable hotel?  We value our guests’ privacy and comfort.  If you can’t abide by our noise regulations, may I suggest you-“

“I said I forgot,” he snapped and opened the door.  “So keep your fucking suggestions to yourself.” 

With that, he slid into the room and locked the door.  Farrah was writhing around on the bed, struggling in the handcuffs he’d left her in, the radio on the bedside table askew and cranked full blast. 

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Tyler demanded, crossing the room and yanking the plug from the wall.  Instantly, the room grew quiet.  “Are you trying to get thrown out of here?” 

“You left me here to rot,” Farrah quipped.  “What was I supposed to do?  Now get these things off of me, you lunatic!”

Gritting his teeth angrily, Tyler walked over to the bed and grabbed her by the hair, pulling hard while staring menacingly into her eyes.  “You don’t give me orders,” he said.  “I’ll tell you what’s going to go down and you’ll listen.” 

Shrinking away from him, she recoiled with alarm.  She hadn’t seen him this threatening before and it frightened her.   “Okay,” she said softly. 

“You are going to help me nail that bitch Miranda Blackthorne for plugging my father,” Tyler went on.  “You got that?  I’m not leaving town until she’s behind bars for what she did.” 

Farrah nodded slowly.   “Okay, Tyler.” 

“Now start by telling me everything that happened that night.  I want to know exactly what happened when you woke up in that mansion.” 

Brooke Taylor

When Brooke awoke the next morning in Palm Springs, she rolled over and reached out for Ethan.  But after opening her eyes, she realized he wasn’t there.  Sitting up, she glanced at the clock and realized it was already after nine o’clock.  He must have decided to let her sleep in, she decided. 

Twisting off the bed, she pulled on a robe and tightened it around her waist before proceeding out to the kitchen.  Through the glass doors, she could see James doing laps in the pool.  Ethan and Mackenzie were nowhere to be found. 

With a frown, she walked outside and shielded her eyes from the bright morning sunlight.   James spotted her and climbed up the ladder from the pool. 

“Morning,” he said with a bright smile.  “Sleep well?” 

Too well,” she said, raking her fingers through her hair.  “What time did everyone else get up?”

“Not long ago,” James replied, standing before her in his dripping wet swim trunks.  He grabbed a towel from a nearby chair and began to dry off.  “Ethan and Mackenzie drove to the coffee shop up the street.  They said they won’t be long.” 

Coffee shop?  We have plenty of coffee here.”

“They needed to use the internet to send some emails to the network,” James told her.  “I don’t have service at the house because-“

“I know,” she interrupted him dubiously.  “You don’t allow work when you’re here.  Well, for a place that’s so anti-work, they seem to be doing quite a bit of it.” 

James stepped closer, hanging the towel around his neck.  “I’m sure they just have to wrap some things up and then they’ll be done working for the weekend.  We can all spend the rest of the day relaxing.” 

“Sure,” she said, positive that if Mackenzie had her way, she’d have Ethan working non-stop until morning. 

“Hey, I’m going to go for a run before it gets too hot.  Care to join me?” 

She shook her head.  “No, thanks.  Kyle’s sending some documents with someone from Moonshadows.  I don’t want to miss them when they get here.” 

James raised an eyebrow while starting up to the door.  “Sounds like Ethan and Mackenzie aren’t the only ones working this weekend.” 

She rolled her eyes and dropped her hands to her sides in frustration.  A simple document that needed her signature was a lot different than trekking off to find an internet connection, she thought bitterly.  The whole weekend was beginning to get on her nerves.  She had half a mind to leave. 

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what she intended on doing. 

Stormy Blackthorne

Walking through The Benefactor production offices, Stormy led Nathan to the wardrobe department where a woman was standing amidst rows and rows of clothing racks.  Brett was hovering nearby talking to the director.  

“After you get fitted for your costumes, you'll head over and see Lenny in makeup, then we’ll talk about the table read.  It’s tomorrow morning at eight,” Stormy was saying, then stopped when he spotted Brett.  “What are you doing here?” 

“I was just getting acquainted with our new director,” Brett replied, refusing to let Stormy’s tone get the better of him.  He may not be a shareholder in the studio anymore, but he was still a junior executive.   He had every right to be there.  “Nathan, have you met Keaton Hartley?”

“I haven’t had the pleasure,” Nathan said while extending his hand to the young man.  “Nathan Blackthorne.  A pleasure to be working with you, Keaton.” 

“The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Blackthorne,” said the young man.  He was thirty-two years old with tousled dirty blond and wore jeans and a khaki blazer over a Cut Copy t-shirt.  “I’ve been such a huge fan of yours for so long.  Directing you in a film is like a dream come true for me.” 

Stormy regarded him warily.  He seemed very green.  James liked a slew of his student films and independent film work he’d done, so he had basically given the deciding vote.  He hoped he could handle the job. 

“That’s kind of you to say,” Nathan said modestly.  “Will you be at the table read tomorrow?” 

“Absolutely,” Keaton replied.  “I’ve got some great ideas for The Benefactor.  I only hope I can do the original justice.” 

“I’m sure you will, my boy,” Nathan said before turning to Suzette, the longtime head of wardrobe at Sunset Studios.  “Suzi, I’m ready for you.  Mold me into character.” 

“You got it, sweetheart,” she said and pulled out a measuring tape. 

While they got started, Stormy motioned to Brett.  “Can I speak to you for a minute?” 

Irritated, Brett followed him across the wardrobe room.  “What is it, Stormy?  I have a lot of work to do today.” 

“I heard about you and Heather,” Stormy told him.  “That she’s divorcing you.” 

“So?” Brett asked.  “It’s none of your business what happens between Heather and I.”

“What are you going to do now?  You’ve burned through two marriages and two families.  Who’s going to feed your gravy train this time?” 

“I don’t need a gravy train,” Brett told him.  “I’ve established myself in the industry.  Don’t forget it was my doing that allowed us to acquire Rydell Productions.  Sunset Studios is sitting at the top of its game for the first time in twenty years and it’s because of me.”

“This is a family run business.  It’s going to belong to my son some day.  You don’t belong here.  So do yourself a favor and go back to Henderson or Reno or wherever the hell you came from.” 

“I’m not going anywhere until your father tells me to, and since I don’t see that happening, I guess you’re stuck with me.  Anyway, with him in Palm Springs and you too preoccupied moonlighting at Titan Records, I’m the only one holding this ship together.”

Stormy stopped him when he turned to walk away.  “Fine, if you want to be in charge then you can lead the table read tomorrow.  It’s at ten o’clock.” 

“Fine,” Brett said. 

He turned and stormed off, leaving Stormy smiling with satisfaction.   It was about time he started to give his partner a taste of his own medicine.

Jordan Rydell

Jordan was lounging by the pool when his butler emerged from the house, Alex peddling quickly behind.   After announcing her presence, Gordon turned and retreated back into the kitchen through the side door. 

“What is it, Alex?” Jordan asked, barely looking up behind square Burberry sunglasses.  

“Is this how you’re spending your days?” she asked, removing her wide-brimmed hat and pushing a few stray curls up from her neck.  “Sun tanning and drinking?  Marilee said she came to a gathering you had the other night and it turned into debauchery.  She said there were people naked in the hot tub, a line at the bathroom the entire night, and she said it wasn’t for the reasons I would think.” 

“Marilee had a blast with a Russian model,” Jordan said with a shrug.  “If you ask me, it’s been too long since she’s had a good dicking.  She needed it.”

A good dicking?” Alex asked.  “That’s just great.  Jordan, I’m worried about you.  I know you’re trying to move on after what happened with Benji and Suzanne, but-“

“What is it with you?” Jordan demanded, standing from the chair and finally removing his sunglasses.  “Do you get some kind of sick joy out of coming over here and bringing me down?”

“No,” she said sadly.  “Or course not.” 

“Well it sure as hell seems like you do.  If you don’t agree with the way I’m living my life, that’s fine, but keep your opinions to yourself.  Lord knows I’ve got enough to deal with now that Lola’s moved in.” 

“I heard,” Alex said and walked forward.  “Nathan said the retirement village burned down.  Is she okay?” 

“When have you ever known something as mortal as a fire to stop Lola?”  He went to a table and picked up his iPad and a bottle of beer.  “What about you and Vaughan Novak?  Had your big sex date yet?”

“It’s not a sex date.”

Jordan laughed.  “Vaughan doesn’t do anything without there being a sexual payoff for him.  You’ve known him as long as I have.  Looks like Marilee’s not the only one who’s looking to get…”

“Stop, okay?” Alex said, offering a look of repulsion.  “I shouldn’t have even come here.  Just forget I did.” 

Jordan watched her go, making no attempt to stop her.  With a sigh, he sat back down in his chair and pulled up the stocks page on his iPad.

Inside, Alex walked toward the front door and saw Lola on her way down the stairs. 

“Mary Ann, what a surprise,” she said.  “Tell me something, dear, when the hell are you going to leave my son alone?  Hasn’t he made it clear that he doesn’t want you?” 

Alex ignored her spiteful remarks, instead glancing down the hall to the doors that led outside to the pool.  “He may not want me, but he needs help, Lola.  Surely you’re not so far gone that you can’t see that.”

With that, she barreled out of the house and slammed the door. 

Brooke Taylor

In Palm Springs, Brooke finished packing her bags and brought them to the kitchen.   She was furious over Ethan’s blatant disregard for her feelings, and was nearly at her wits end.  She thought about taking the car and driving back to L.A. without so much as a goodbye, but then realized how childish it would be.  Instead, she’d wait for him to get back and tell him that she was leaving.  He could ride back with James and Mackenzie the next day.  

The sound of a car pulling up to the driveway alerted her to the fact that they were back.   Quickly, but with great hesitation, she went to the door and prepared for the inevitable confrontation. 

But when she opened the door and saw Kyle standing on the porch, mirrored aviators over his eyes and a thin gray t-shirt stretched over his muscled torso, she staggered back in surprise. 

“What are you doing here?” she asked. 

“I told you I was bringing those forms for you to sign,” he said and walked inside the house.  “Did you forget?”

“You said you were sending a messenger,” Brooke said, clumsily closing the door behind them.  “I didn’t expect you to drive out here yourself.” 

Smiling, he removed his sunglasses and looked into her eyes.  “I felt like a drive.”  He looked around the immaculately decorated house.  “I’ve never been to Palm Springs.  It’s different than I thought.” 

Brooke followed him down the hall to the kitchen.  “Well I wish you would have warned me,” she said.  “I don’t know how welcome you’ll be here with Ethan.  He’s not exactly part of your fan club, you know.” 

He shrugged and effortlessly sat down at a stool at the counter.  “I’m beginning to think you don’t want me here.” 

Brooke ran her fingers through her silky blond hair and motioned to his briefcase.  “Just give me the documents so I can sign them and you can be on your way.”

“I just got here.”

“You can’t stay.” 

“Where is Ethan?” 

“He had to go out.”

Kyle looked down at the suitcases on the floor.  “And you were about to leave?  Brooke, what’s going on?” 

“Nothing,” she said, picking up the suitcases and moving them to the hall.  “I just…haven’t unpacked yet.” 

“You’ve been here since yesterday and you haven’t unpacked?  Is everything okay?  Did you and Ethan have a fight?” 

“No!” she exclaimed in frustration.  She was confused by his sudden appearance, and now wasn’t sure if leaving was such a good idea.  If Ethan came back and Kyle was there, he’d wonder why she was suddenly determined to go home. 

The sound of the door opening and closing told her that things were about to get even more complicated.   When Ethan walked in, followed by Mackenzie, she quickly went to the other side of the room, as far from Kyle as she could. 

“What is he doing here?” Ethan asked, pointing at Kyle. 

“Hey there,” Kyle said.  “Sis?  What are you doing here?  Don’t tell me you crashed this private weekend in the desert too.”

“You’re the only one crashing anything, little brother,” Mackenzie told him and slammed her attaché case on the counter.  “Unless I’m mistaken, you weren’t invited.”

“And you were?”

Brooke looked awkwardly at him.  “Mackenzie came along so she and Ethan could get some work done.” 

The sliding door opened from the pool and James entered, immediately sensing the tenseness in the room.  “You’re back,” he said to Mackenzie.

“And what’s he doing here?”  Kyle wanted to know, a smirk forming on his fleshy lips. 

“I could ask you the same thing,” James said to him. 

Ethan frowned and looked at Brooke.  “Did you know he was coming?”

“No,” Brooke said, the voices in the room suddenly sounding like drilling in her brain.

“Do we need to make up another room?” James asked, hoping to break the ice with some clever humor. 

“No!” Brooke, Ethan and Mackenzie shouted in unison. 

“Gee, I feel unwanted,” Kyle said.  “So explain to me what the four of you are doing here if this was supposed to be a romantic weekend away?” 

“That’s what I’d like to know,” Brooke said, folding her arms tightly across her chest. 

“I told you Mackenzie and I were just going to get some work done before we could relax,” Ethan explained again.  “I thought you were okay with that.”

She threw her hands up in resignation.  “I was until you stayed up working until the middle of the night, then collapsed into bed and went right to sleep.  Oh, and then taking off this morning without so much as waking me.  Why did I even come here?”

“Because I thought it would be a good time for us to get out of town together,” Ethan replied.

“Out of town, yes, but together, no.” 

“This is partially my fault,” James chimed in.  “I wanted to get away with Mackenzie so badly that I suggested Ethan and Brooke come along.”

“You don’t see James throwing tantrums every five minutes, do you?” Ethan asked, his eyes burrowing into Brooke’s.  “Jesus, it’s like you turn into Miranda when you don’t feel like you’re getting enough attention.”

The remark sent Brooke into a tailspin.  She quietly controlled herself, taking a few deep breaths before backing up to the sliding doors.  “You know what?  That’s fine.  That’s exactly it.  I’m just being a spoiled brat because you offered me some half baked weekend getaway.”

“Brooke,” Ethan started, but realized it was futile when she raced out the door and out through the side yard. 

The others remained silent, staring at Kyle who drummed his fingers repeatedly on the counter. 

Kelly Kahoano

That evening, Kelly paced anxiously around her bedroom at the Blackthorne mansion.  She dialed a phone number and listened to it ring several times before going to voicemail again.   Furious, she plopped down onto the bed and waited for the outgoing message to play out.

“Yeah Vaughan, it’s Kelly again.  Look, I’m sorry for the way I stormed off yesterday,” she said into the phone.  “And for ruining your pants.  Look, I thought we could continue where we left off.  Call me.” 

Frustrated, she ended the call and threw the phone onto her bed.  How was it that she lived in one of the biggest and most recognized homes in Hollywood and she was flat broke?   She and Stormy were divorced – she stupidly turned down any alimony support in expectation of landing a big movie role.  Her mother was only a maid so she didn’t have any money.   The only saving grace was that her meals were paid for and she had a roof over her head.  But who knew how long that would hold out.  Stormy could kick her to the curb any day. 

She considered blackmailing him as a precaution.  Her threats of revealing Alex’s duplicity in “adopting” R.J. were growing thin.  Maybe her knowledge of Miranda’s lady pimp activities could be beneficial.  But then again, after the way Eddie threatened her the other day, she decided that would have to be a last ditch attempt if all else failed.

All she needed was for Vaughan to take her on as a client and get her a job.  Any job.  She refused to go back to nude modeling for sleazy photographers. 

Jordan Rydell

B.J. Summer led Jordan through the maze of roads at the sprawling Sunset Studios lot.  They passed buildings, sound stages, and camera operators, winding along the night to a door marked Studio Archives.  Jordan knew he wouldn’t stand a chance of gaining access to anywhere on the lot on his own, but as luck would have it, B.J. still had an access card she’d been given while working on her last picture for the studio. 

B.J. produced the plastic key card with the Sunset Studios logo emblazoned on one side – rippling ocean waves with a setting sun peeking out from behind.  She slid the card in the magnetic slot and winked at Jordan when the light turned green and the door clicked open. 

“Urethra,” she said cleverly.

Jordan didn’t have the heart to tell her the word she meant to use was eureka.  On top of not being the best actress to ever appear on screen, she wasn’t the brightest either. 

“Thanks,” he said and brushed against her.  “I’ll call you this week.”

“You better,” she said with another wink before setting off through the lot. 

Once inside, Jordan found a set of stairs that led to a lower floor.  Carefully, he crept through the darkness, slightly unnerved by the unknown.  In the distance he could hear the sound of someone coughing.

He entered a small room with a desk and the smell of stale cigarettes and burned coffee permeating the air.  The walls were covered in movie one-sheets and autographed publicity photos of dozens of actors.  He noticed several of Alex, as well as Suzanne, Lola, Nathan, Victor, Scott Kelly, and Jack Childers.  It was a who’s who of Sunset Studios.  Then he noticed a woman with lipstick on her teeth and too many gold rings on her fingers sitting smoking a cigarette with a two inch ash dangling from the tip. 

“Hello,” Jordan said and walked toward her.  “I was wondering if you could help me.  I’m looking for some information on Lola Lamont.” 

Denise Syswicki had worked for Sunset Studios for decades.  No one knew more about its stars, or the intricate system of buildings on the sprawling lot than she did.  The need for files on the thousands of movie stars seemed pointless, as she was an encyclopedia of information.   Still, file cabinets surrounded her, lining the walls of the room and sometimes stacked on top of one another.

“It’ll cost you,” she said, her feet on the desk as she ashed her cigarette. 

Jordan reached into his pocket and withdrew several hundred dollar bills, dropping them on the table and meeting her gaze. 

Denise scooped the cash up in her hand and stuffed it into her bra.  “So what can I tell you about your mother that you don’t already know?” 

Jordan figured she would recognize him.  But money talked, so as long as she was willing to share whatever information she had, he didn’t care.   “I’m specifically looking for publicity photographs taken in the late sixties.”

“That was a very busy time for her,” Denise said and got up from the desk.  She went to a file cabinet a few feet away and pulled the top drawer open.  “She was on contract with Lamont 3 and did dozens of films a year.  The press was all over her.”

Jordan watched her thumb through the files, anxiously looking on as she removed a folder and opened it on the open drawer.

“When your father died in seventy-two, she worked for a while longer but then retired until she married Jonas,” Denise went on.  “Personally, I think they always had a thing for each other.  He’d come to the sets just to see her.  I wasn’t surprised when they finally got together.”

Jordan thought it was strange that this woman knew so much about his family.  But he supposed that was why Jonas had hired her.  He’d needed someone to catalog the intricate lives of his leading actors and actresses. 

“There was a publicity shoot done in sixty-eight when she did a cameo in The Benefactor,” Denise said, removing a photograph.  “This is one of eight photographs, apparently.” 

Jordan took the picture from her and looked at it.  It appeared to be from the same time as the two left at the crime scenes.  “What about the others?” 

“They’re not here,” Denise said, making sure there weren’t any other files.

“What do you mean they’re not there?” 

She took a drag from her cigarette.  “I mean they’re gone.  Someone took them.”

Jordan took the folder from her and flipped through the stacks of photographs.   She was right.  Only one from that photo set remained.   Whoever was leaving the photos of his mother got them from the archives.

“Who has access to the archives?” 

Denise shrugged while taking a long drag off her cigarette.  “You mean besides people who steal access cards?” she asked cynically.  Mostly studio personnel.” 

“That could be anyone.  What about visitors?” Jordan inquired.  “Don’t you keep a log?” 

She shook her head with a frown.  “Are you kidding?  Does it look like we’re that organized?  These archives have been around since before you were born.  Since the days of Lamont 3.  Besides, we don’t allow visitors.  The only people who get in here outside of studio personnel are talent agents.” 

“Talent agents?” Jordan inquired.

Alex Reynolds

“I want to hear everything about Vaughan Novak,” Alex said as they dined over candlelight at Bazaar.  The words seemed to be forced out of her mouth.  It wasn’t that she didn’t find him sexy, intelligent, or funny.  He was all of those things and more.  But while her heart still lied with Jordan, she found it difficult to be interested in other men. 

“We’ve known each other for a long time, Alex,” Vaughan told her while sipping from a glass of champagne.  “Have you really paid that little attention all these years?” 

She smiled.  “I know that you divorced your wife Margot several years ago.  You have one child, Sheldon, who’s in and out of trouble.  You’re CEO of the most successful talent agency in the world and you’ve represented some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood.” 

“See, you do know everything about me,” he said with a grin. 

Alex was no stranger at making conversation.  She’d been to enough boring Hollywood parties with people she didn’t care anything about.  The ability to socialize convincingly even when you didn’t want to was vital in the business. 

“How did you get your start?”

Grinning, he looked down at his half-empty plate of food.  “I was very young,” he said.  “Nineteen or twenty, I think.  I worked for Jonas Lamont in the early days of Lamont 3.”

“I didn’t realize that,” Alex said with a sincere glimmer in her eye.  “What were you?  Script boy?  Gofer?” 

“I pretty much did whatever he needed done,” he said simply.  “Then in the late seventies I started my own agency and voila.  Let’s talk about you now.” 

She laughed, the candle light casting glimmering shadows over her perfectly made up face.  “Now I know there’s nothing about me that you don’t already know.  My life has been splattered across the society pages for over thirty years.” 

“Things have been quiet since you left rehab,” he noted.  “What have you been up to?   Things with Jordan still not going well?” 

She looked down with a forborne look on her face.  “No,” she said softly.

Before Vaughan could expand on his question, a man approached their table and leaned in with a cordial smile. 

“Pardon me,” he began, extending his hand to Vaughan.  “I don’t mean to interrupt, but I just wanted to say hello.  How are you, Vaughan?” 

“Nick, nice to see you,” Vaughan said and rose to his feet.  “I’m doing well.  Yourself?” 

“Good.  Are we still on for golf on Monday?” 

“Absolutely,” Vaughan said, then gestured across the table.  “Nick Kanning, this is Alex Reynolds.”

“How do you do?” Alex said politely.

“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Reynolds.    I’m a big fan, of course.” 

“Thank you.” 

“Well, I’ll let you get back to your dinner.  See you Monday, Vaughan.  Miss Reynolds, nice to see you.” 

“A real delight,” she said. 

After he’d gone and Vaughan had sat back down, he picked up his fork and knife and began cutting into his food.   “Nick is my plastic surgeon,” he told her.  “We’ve known each other for years.” 

“You have a plastic surgeon?” Alex asked with a grin.  “Come on.  I thought men were supposed to age gracefully.  You hardly need any work done.  Unless of course you already have.”

Vaughan laughed.  “I haven’t had anything done, but some of my clients do request his services from time to time.  It’s just nice to have someone I can send them to.  Nick is the absolute best.”   As he said it, he glanced over to the doorway and exchanged a knowing glance with him.  

Alex finally began to relax. Vaughan Novak had a delightful sense of humor and seemed to be one of the only normal men left in Hollywood.  Maybe forcing herself to enjoy conversation with him wouldn’t be necessary.

They worked late that night at Titan Records to put the finishing touches on Akilah’s new song.  Stormy sat in the recording booth with her and Brad while Chelsea sat outside the sound-proof room and waited. 

“I think we’ve got a hit,” Stormy said and leaned back in his chair.  He looked at Akilah with a smile.  “Looks like you can make it back to New Martin for your wedding rehearsal in plenty of time.” 

She grinned happily.  “Well, I guess the rehearsal was pushed back to next week so I’ve got time.  I think Brad’s got us sticking around anyway.” 

“Just a couple of days,” he said ominously.   “Look, Akilah, I have some things to do, so you and Chelsea should go back to the hotel without me.  I’ll meet up with you girls in the morning.” 

“What things?” Akilah asked.   “Damn, does everything you do have to be on the DL?”

Ignoring her, he left the booth and avoided eye contact with Chelsea while he exited the building. Once outside, he listened to a voicemail from Trevor. 

“I still haven’t heard from you about what you plan on doing now that Miranda Blackthorne is still alive,” Trevor said in the message.  “I’m not playing games here, King.  I want her dead and I want to know who off’d my boss.” 

Panicked, he quickly deleted the message.  Out of sight, out of mind, he decided.  If it wasn’t for his promise to Caleb Holden that he would keep Matt and Akilah apart, he would be high tailing it back to New Martin.  As it was, he might have a few more days of dodging Trevor’s calls. 

Back inside, Akilah met up with Chelsea outside the sound booth.   “Did you see Brad?” she asked.

“Yeah, he stalked out of here like he was on a mission,” Chelsea replied.  “Where do you think he was going?” 

“To kill again,” Akilah said ominously, although half-joking when she said it.  “Look, the cracker has been acting all kinds of crazy since we got here.  Check it, we saw him with a gun, then Hugh Rogers winds up dead.  I can’t believe we didn’t bail days ago.”

“Brad couldn’t have killed him,” Chelsea said.  “I just know he couldn’t have.” 

“He did it,” Akilah told her.  “You know that.” 

Chelsea swallowed hard and followed her out of the building.  One thing was for sure, she didn’t feel safe being around Brad anymore.   He seemed like a loose cannon to her. 

Stormy Blackthorne

When he got through at Titan, Stormy left to meet Jane, Miranda and Eddie at Industry.  By the time he found them tucked away in a corner booth, he was already annoyed by the valet drivers and the obnoxious bouncer at the door.  That, coupled with the loud music he wasn’t necessarily in the mood for, prompted him to flop into the booth beside Jane with a groan. 

“You okay?” Jane asked.

“Fine,” he said, still annoyed with her for having kept Miranda’s secret.  “I realize you all had something to tell me, but does it have to be here?” he shouted over the thumping of the music.  “I can barely hear myself think and I’ve been in the studio all night with Akilah!”

“We had to make sure no one heard us,” Eddie said.  “Miranda and Jane have something to tell you.”  He punctuated his remark by glancing knowingly at the two women.   “Go ahead.  Tell him.” 

Miranda sighed and dropped her hands onto the table.  “Okay, stop being so pushy.” 

“I’m not being pushy.  I just think you need to tell your brother what you told me at the house last night.” 

“All right!  I will!”

Stormy rolled his eyes with irritation.  “Will one of you just tell me?”

Miranda fidgeted with her purse on the booth beside her.  “The night of Hugh’s murder, Jane and I…”  She paused while thinking of the best way to tell him.  “We sort of…”

“They were the ones who put the stiff in the deep freeze,” Eddie finished for her.

“Thanks,” Miranda said with a scowl.

“You two put him in the freezer?” Stormy exclaimed.  “What the-“

“We were protecting someone,” Jane went on.  “We know who killed him and we couldn’t let her take the fall.  She doesn’t deserve it.” 

Stormy looked at Eddie with wide eyes.  “It was you,” he said. “You killed Hugh to protect Miranda.” 

“They’re talking about Farrah,” Eddie said.  “You half-wit.”

“Your cousin?” Stormy said to Jane.  She killed Hugh?”

Shrugging, Jane exchanged harried glances with Miranda.  “Miranda and I bumped into each other at the house.  It was dark.  We walked into the room and I tripped over something.  Hugh’s body.  Miranda used the flashlight app on her phone and we saw Farrah.  She looked so guilty.  She ran out of the room.” 

“So you got rid of the body to cover for her?” Stormy asked.

“We had to,” Jane went on.  “My cousin’s been through so much.”

“I brought her on board to get her away from Hugh Rogers,” Miranda said.  “She was probably just defending herself against him.” 

“If that’s the case then she could have told that to the police,” Stormy insisted.  “But the two of you shoving him in a freezer just makes her look guilty.  Not to mention puts suspicion on you.” 

“We just didn’t want her to suffer because that man is dead.  No one should pay for what happened to him.”   Jane looked at Stormy and saw the anger in his eyes.  She wondered if they would ever be able to get back to where they were before this whole thing started.  As it was, they were drifting further and further apart.

“Well we’d better hope they don’t find anything that could point the finger at either of you,” Stormy quipped. 

Miranda exchanged glances with Eddie.  “Someone may already have,” she said.

“What do you mean?” 

“Hugh Rogers’ son, Tyler, showed up in town yesterday,” Eddie told him.  “He’s gunning for Miranda.  Wants to pin the whole thing, murder and all, on her.”

“Brilliant,” Stormy said and ran his fingers through his hair. 

Miranda knew she’d caused problems for everyone.  Her decision to take over for Gemma proved to be a disaster in so many ways.   With a sigh, she glanced around the club and gasped out loud when she saw something that caught her off guard. 

“I’ll be right back,” she said, jumping out of the booth and waddling across the room.  She ignored looks from people staring at her very pregnant stomach, darting straight toward a couple making out in the corner. 

“What are you doing?” she demanded, her hands on her hips. 

Startled, Blake Distefano looked at her with wide eyes.  Beside her, Sheldon Novak attempted to hide behind him.  

“Blake, I thought you told me you weren’t ready to tell Eddie about the two of you,” Miranda said, then pointed across the crowded room.  “He’s right over there.” 

“Oh shit,” Blake said and moved behind her.  “I didn’t know anyone was going to see us.” 

“Is that why you were kissing on the secret dance floor where no one ever goes?” she asked sarcastically.   “Come on, Blake, this is getting ridiculous.  Eddie’s your brother.  He’ll love you no matter what.  You know that.” 

“I know, Miranda, I just….haven’t gotten up the nerve to tell him yet.” 

She looked at him sympathetically and took his hand in hers.  “Blake, it’s just you and Eddie.  Your father is gone, your mother is God knows where, so you’re all each other has.  Promise me you’ll tell him soon.” 

When she got back to their booth, Stormy was gone.  “Where’d he go?” she asked. 

“He took off,” Jane said sadly.  “I think I’ve really done it this time, Miranda.  I don’t think Stormy is ever going to forgive me.” 

Alex Reynolds

Dinner led to drinks at Vaughan’s sprawling mansion in Beverly Hills.  Alex had begun to slowly loosen up throughout the course of the evening, and had actually come to enjoy his company.  Jordan’s words hung in her mind as she sat in his parlor room waiting for him to return. 

Vaughan doesn’t do anything unless there’s a sexual payoff,” he’d said. 

And while she did find him attractive, she wasn’t ready to sleep with him.  Baby steps, she decided.   There was no harm in continuing the evening in the privacy of his home. 

While she waited, she rose from the sofa and went to the wall of photos she’d acknowledged when she was there several days before.  Rows of head shots of all of his clients lined the mahogany paneled wall.  Nathan, Victor, Jack, Lola, even Elana Hendricks, one of the veterans from The Young at Heart, who had done a few Lamont 3 and Sunset Studios pictures back in the day. 

Recalling her earlier run-in with Lola, she went to the woman’s photo and glared contemptuously.   “Old hag,” she muttered to herself.  The nerve of the woman to tell her to leave Jordan alone.   She didn’t need his mother warding her off of him.  She was perfectly capable of knowing that Jordan was trying to push her away. 

Despite the fact that she was enjoying herself with Vaughan, she still couldn’t pretend she didn’t love Jordan.  She had since she was a teenager.  But Lola had forced Jordan and Suzanne together in an attempt at keeping her away from him.  Not that it didn’t work out for everyone involved.  She married James and had two beautiful children.  Their marriage lasted twenty-three years, and despite Lola’s early interference, she and Jordan did wind up together.  Now it seemed that it wasn’t in the cards for them. 

Noises coming from the other side of the foyer caught her attention and she half expected to see Vaughan returning.  When he didn’t, however, she sought out the source of the sounds.  They appeared to be coming from a door that led to the basement.   Probably the staff, she decided. 

She reached out and straightened the photo of Lola, wondering why she bothered because the woman was as crooked in real life as she was on the wall.   As she moved the frame to the side, something fell to the floor from behind it.  

Curiously, she bent down and retrieved the item.  A small black and white photograph.  It appeared to have been taped to the back of the frame, but the tape had become worn and caused it to come loose.

Looking closer, Alex saw that it was a picture of two identical young girls.  They appeared to be twelve or thirteen years old.  They stood on a porch in identical dresses with ruffled sleeves and hems, their hair in twisted Shirley Temple curls.

She turned the photo over and read the faded writing on the back.  Lola and Lana.  November 1940.  Startled, she looked back up at Lola’s head shot.   When she heard Vaughan emerging from another room, she quickly tried putting it back where it fell from.  But after realizing it wouldn’t stay, she quickly shoved it in her purse. 

“Sorry for the delay, my dear,” Vaughan said when he emerged.  “I gave the staff the night off and I realized the bar wasn’t stocked with club soda.  Do you take lime?”

“Uh, yes,” Alex said distantly.   She allowed him to lead her back to the parlor room, all the while wondering who the young girl was posting with Lola in the picture.  “Oh, I heard noises from the basement.  I thought it was the staff but since they have the night off, I guess I was wrong.  Should you be worried?” 

Vaughan looked at her and quickly shook his head.  “No, not at all.  Sheldon’s down there.  He uses the basement to play his video games.  Come, let’s sit and have that drink.”  

Brooke Taylor

After storming off earlier that day, Brooke decided to steer clear of the house and the others for as long as she could. She looked in shops and wandered the streets until returning that night.  A strong wind had picked up, prompting her to return after dinnertime.  It served Ethan right for the way he’d been treating her.  Calling her a spoiled brat had been the last straw.   She couldn’t even be in the same room with him without wanting to scream at the top of her lungs in frustration. 

The house was dark when she approached, and Ethan was waiting for her outside by the pool.  She supposed it was now or never.  She had to have it out with him, despite the fact that she was done talking about it. 

“I was worried,” he said, sitting in a chair drinking a beer.  “Where’ve you been?” 

“Walking around,” she said.  “I just needed time to think.” 

A few moments of silence followed while they avoided eye contact.

“I’m sorry about this weekend,” he said.  “About everything.” 

“Don’t,” Brooke said, shaking her head.  “I can’t do this anymore.” 

Ethan finally looked up at her.  “You can’t do what?” 

This,” she repeated.  “It’s too hard.  It shouldn’t be this hard.” 

Ethan knew they’d been pushed to the limit.  Everything the past few weeks had seemed to compound the issue.   When she said it was too heard, he knew exactly what she meant.   But that didn’t mean he was ready to give up. 

“Maybe we just need some time,” he said.

“Yeah,” she replied.   “I think so.” 

More silence, this time for several minutes.  Finally, Ethan turned and started to the door.  “You going in to bed?” 

“Soon,” she said. 

Without a word, Ethan slipped inside and closed the door, leaving Brooke standing by the shimmering lights of the swimming pool.  She shivered, finding it odd since they were in the middle of the desert.  For several minutes she stood, frozen on her feet while staring blindly into the water.

The time that she and Ethan agreed they both needed scared her.  If they were meant to be together, if they were still as in love as they had been before the earthquake, then time shouldn’t matter.  They should just be together.

But as it was, she didn’t feel the same as she did a year and a half ago.  The prospect made her eyes gush with tears.   

After twenty minutes or so, she felt a shadow looming behind and she quickly spun around.   To her surprise, Kyle was standing before her. 

“I thought you left,” she said.

“They closed Gene Autry because of blowing sand,” he told her.  “Looks like I’m stuck until morning.  I checked into a hotel but I wanted to come back and see you before I went to sleep.”

With her arms wrapped tightly around herself, Brooke turned back to the pool.  “You shouldn’t have,” she said softly.  “Things are a mess right now.  I just want to slip into bed and forget this weekend ever happened.” 

“Brooke,” Kyle said and reached out to touch her arm.  “I’m sorry.  I really am.” 

“Are you?”

“Yes.  Of course.  I know how much you wanted things to work between you and Ethan.  I know how disappointed you must be that it didn’t.”

She turned toward him again.  “Kyle, don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t pretend like you care that Ethan and I can’t get it together.  I can handle a lot but I can’t handle that.”

“So what do you want me to say?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”  She slowly started to walk away but he stopped her by grabbing her arm.  “Don’t do that.”

“I’m sorry.”   He looked into her eyes, mesmerized by the way the moonlight danced across them.  Slowly and without hesitation, he moved forward and closed the gap between their bodies. 

Brooke tried to avoid looking at him but found herself studying every part of his face, every curve of his body and the way his hands felt on her cold skin.   Before she knew it, his lips were pressed against hers.  Butterflies tripped through her stomach as his hands went to her waist and he wrapped his strong arms around her.  Within moments, they were locked in an embrace, devouring one another with hungry mouths. 

Inside the house, Ethan passed by the window of his bedroom and stopped when he saw them together, kissing passionately.   His heart aching, he lowered his eyes and slowly closed the blinds.

Brett Armstrong

The next morning, Brett arrived at the production offices for The Benefactor and made his way to the conference room where the table read was happening.  As he passed through a side door to the offices, he noticed a large number of people leaving.  Among them were Nathan, Keaton Hartley, and several of the young actors they’d cast to portray the children aboard the shuttle flight.  With a frown, he looked at his watch to check the time. 

“What’s going on?” he asked Stormy when he entered the conference room.  “It’s ten o’clock.  Why is everyone leaving already?” 

Nathan looked at him and then at his nephew.

“The table read is over,” Stormy indicated with a shrug.  “I thought you were going to be here.  We waited for as long as we could but unfortunately we had to proceed without you.” 

“You said the reading was at ten,” Brett argued. 

“Did I?” Stormy asked. “I’m sure I told you eight.”

“No, you didn’t.” 

“Are you sure?  Because I told everyone else the correct time.  Nathan?”

“You did say eight,” Nathan agreed apologetically.

Shaking his head in frustration, Brett leveled a look of contempt at Stormy.  “You did this on purpose,” he told him.  “You intentionally kept me away so I couldn’t be part of the table read.”

“Why would I do that?” Stormy asked.  “I mean, with my moonlighting at Titan Records, I can use all the help I can get.  I hope this isn’t an example of how things are going to go for the rest of the production. My father is counting on both of us, Brett.” 

Folding his arms angrily across his chest, Brett watched as Stormy and Nathan left the office.   He wasn’t born yesterday.  He knew this was another attempt at Stormy’s to drive him out of the studio.  He wasn’t about to let it happen.  He would fight tooth and nail if he had to. 

Alex Reynolds

“Where did you get this?” Jordan asked as Alex handed him the photograph of the two girls. 

She shrugged dismissively.  “I found it with some other photographs at Vaughan’s house,” she said.  “After our date last night.”

Jordan regarded her carefully, sure that she added that last bit in an attempt at making him jealous.  “Lola and Lana?” he asked after reading the back.  “I don’t understand.” 

“I didn’t either,” Alex said.  “But I thought since one of those girls is your mother, that you’d want to know about it.” 

“I’ve never seen this picture before,” Jordan said.  “Why did Vaughan Novak have it?”

She shrugged.  “He was her agent for years.  He worked for Jonas during the golden days of Lamont 3.  He probably has a slew of pictures laying around that house of his.”

The remark caused Jordan to grow suspicious of his old friend Vaughan.  Why hadn’t he thought of it before?  Denise at the Sunset Studios archives said herself that talent agents frequented the files.  Vaughan could have easily stolen the photos of his mother and left them at the scenes of the attempts on Lola’s life. 

The only question was why?  And that still didn’t explain the mystery of the two girls. 

After sending Alex away, he scoured the house for his mother, finally locating her on the patio by the pool.    Without wasting a beat, he rushed toward her and thrust the picture at her. Lola took it from him and stared blankly at the photograph.

“Where did you get this?” she asked.

“Never mind that, mother.  Who is Lana?” 

She dismissively placed the photograph on the table and slid on a pair of large Chanel sunglasses.  “Be a dear and refresh my drink, darling.”

“No,” Jordan said firmly and sat down beside her.  “First you have no recollection of those pictures of you taken in 1968, and now this?  Tell me what’s going on.” 

“I told you, I can’t remember every single photo session I sat for, Jordan.” 

He looked at her and shook his head.  “That wasn’t you in those pictures Detective Rodriguez found at the retirement village, was it?” he asked.  “That was Lana.  That’s why you don’t remember them.  Who is she?” 

Lola sighed and took her sunglasses off again.  She looked down at the table while gathering her thoughts.   “My sister,” she said.  “My twin sister.” 

“I didn’t know you had a twin sister,” Jordan said.  “You never talked about her.  She never came to visit.  Until now I’ve never even seen a picture of her.”

Lola stood up and walked across the patio.  “Lana was….well… the spotlight didn’t favor her.  She didn’t make a life in Hollywood the way I did.  She was jealous of me.  She didn’t visit because she hated me.” 

Jordan was dumbfounded.   He couldn’t believe that this was the first he’d heard about an aunt that he’d had all along.   “Where is Lana now?”

Lola looked at him and put her glasses back on.  “She died,” she said, then nodded while sitting back down.  “Yes, she passed on a number of years ago.  When you were just a little boy.  That’s why I never mentioned it, Jordan.  I just didn’t see the point.  She hated me and she wanted nothing to do with me.  That picture of us together was one of the few moments of happiness we ever had together.”

Running a hand over his face, Jordan tried to comprehend the new information.  It made sense to him that she wouldn’t have mentioned her sister, but it didn’t make sense that there were pictures of her in the Sunset Studios archives.  Or that those particular photographs had been left by someone who obviously wanted his mother dead. 

“I’m tired, Jordan,” Lola said.  “I think I’d like to take a nap.” 

He nodded, realizing he’d have to get his answers later.  For now, he’d been hit with enough. 

Inside, Lola went to the kitchen island and steadied herself.  Her eyes glazed over as she heard voices from the past echoing in her mind.

You’ll never be me, Lana!” she’d screamed.  You’ll never be me!” 

I already am, sister dear,” Lana had replied.   Now go away and leave us in peace!”

Shaking the voices away, Lola glanced at the counter and picked up Jordan’s car keys.   First checking to make sure he was still outside, she fled through the house to the front door. 

Jane Wheeler

Jane didn’t like the way she and Stormy had left things the night before at Industry, so she decided to stop by his office at Sunset Studios and hash things out once and for all.   As she’d predicted, he wasn’t happy to see her. 

“Jane, I don’t have time for this,” he said while scurrying around his office gathering papers and fielding phone calls.  “I don’t particularly like working on Sundays as it is, so I’m not in the best mood right now.”

“You never have time,” Jane said.  “I thought you said you were going to let up on work so we could spend time together.  Now here you are knee deep in both businesses you’re trying to run by yourself.”

He stopped what he was doing and flashed her a look of irritation.  “Don’t act like this is about my work schedule this time,” he said.  “We’re long past that.  This is about you and the secrets you’re keeping from me.  First it was about R.J., then it was Miranda’s job as Hollywood Madam, and now it’s about your disposing of corpses in the middle of the night.” 

Jane grew silent as she let his words sink in.  Her and Miranda’s mistakes were one thing, but bringing up R.J. again was hitting below the belt.  “You want to talk about being long past something?  How can you throw R.J. in my face again?  That’s not fair, Stormy.  Are you saying you’re still holding on to your anger over that?  I didn’t even know he was your son!”

Sighing, he ran his fingers through his thick black hair.  The phone on his desk rang and he considered letting it go unanswered, but thought better of it with everything he had going on.

“Stormy Blackthorne,” he said after answering.

As he spoke, Jane turned and forced herself to keep from crying.  Why was it so difficult for him to understand that she only did what she did to help Miranda.  His own sister.  She would have thought he’d understand that.   By the time she turned around again, he was hanging up the phone, a bleak look on his face. 

“That was Eddie,” he said.  “Miranda’s been taken down to the police station for questioning.” 

“What?” Jane exclaimed, immediately turning and heading for the door.

Miranda Blackthorne

“How long are you going to keep me here?” Miranda demanded as she sat in the interrogation room at police headquarters.  “You already took hair samples from me.  By the way, ow.   Why can’t you let me go?  Unless I’m under arrest for something.”

“No, you’re not under arrest,” Detective Rodriguez said.  “Yet.  We’re simply waiting for DNA tests to come back.” 

“DNA tests for what?” Miranda demanded, slamming her fist on the counter.

“To see if your hair is a match to strands we found at the murder scene and on the body of Hugh Rogers,” he said. 

Miranda swallowed hard, looking up when the door opened and an officer entered with a piece of paper in his hand.   She sat watching as they conferred for a few moments. 

“Miss Blackthorne, are you in possession of a gold medallion with a dragon imprinted on the front?” Rodriguez asked. 

Miranda swallowed hard.  “Sounds tacky.” 

“We have a witness who claims he saw you wearing that medallion.  The same one belonging to Hugh Rogers.” 

She threw her hair over her shoulder and shrugged defiantly.  Tyler Rogers.  Of course.  “I have lots of jewelry, detective.  Drawers full.  What’s the point?”

“The point is you told me you didn’t know Hugh Rogers,” Rodriguez said, leaning across the table at her.  “So if that’s the case, why do you have his medallion, and why did we find strands of your hair at the murder scene?” 

She swallowed again, certain that she was in trouble.

“That’s right,” he continued.  “The DNA was a match.  I’m afraid we’re going to have to place you under arrest for the murder of Hugh Rogers.” 

Before Miranda could react, Stormy and Jane burst into the room.  Behind them, Eddie hovered nearby.

“You can’t do that!” Jane exclaimed. 

“Excuse me,” Rodriguez said.  “Who are you?”

“Jane Wheeler,” she said.  “If you’re going to arrest Miranda, then you’re going to have to arrest me too.  I helped her.  We’re both guilty.” 

Mackenzie Stone

In Palm Springs, Mackenzie followed James across the bedroom, her hands planted firmly on her hips and her eyes darting angrily between him and his suitcase. 

“I don’t believe this,” she said.  “You’re leaving?”

“I have to, Mackenzie,” James said while zipping his Gucci suitcase closed.  “My daughter has been arrested for murder.  I can’t exactly finish the weekend out while she sits in jail.” 

“Then I’m coming with you,” she said and went to the dresser.

“No,” he said.  “The helicopter will be here any minute. I’ll need you to drive the car back.” 

“Forget the car!” she exclaimed.  “This was supposed to be our weekend away together.  I thought we had a nice time last night.  We were finally connecting.”

He stopped his manic pace and looked blankly at her.  “What do you expect me to do?” he asked.  “Finish your weekend, get some more work done, and I’ll see you in L.A. tomorrow.” 

Dropping her hands to her sides, she watched helplessly as he burst from the room.   Once at the front door, they intercepted Ethan who stood by with his keys in his hand. 

“I’ll drive you to the landing pad, James,” he said.  “Are you sure you don’t want me to come back with you?”

James shook his head.  “No, there’s nothing you can do right now.  I’ll call as soon as I find out what’s going on.” 

The commotion was interrupted when Brooke emerged from the bedroom.  “What’s going on?” she asked. 

Ethan looked at her, stone faced, and without a word ushered James out to the car.  Standing behind, Mackenzie dropped her hands to her sides and crossed the room to the refrigerator.

“I guess I’ll make some lunch,” she said. 

“Mackenzie-“ Brooke cut her off.  She knew they were all treating her differently since her blow up the day before.  And while she knew she shouldn’t have taken off like that, she didn’t think she was wrong to be upset. 

“Did Kyle get off okay?” Mackenzie asked. 

“I suppose,” she replied.  “I saw him last night for a few minutes but then he went to a hotel and I went to bed.  I’m sure he went home by now.” 

Mackenzie regarded her suspiciously while standing the doorway of the refrigerator.

“What?” Brooke asked, irritated.  “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Brooke, if you can’t decide between my brother and Ethan, then do them both a favor and cut them both loose.  They don’t deserve this shit you’re putting them both through.”

Horrified by her words, Brooke stood in shock.  Embarrassed, she turned and went outside to the pool.

Brett Armstrong

After Stormy blatantly set him up to fail that morning, Brett decided to blow off some steam in the gym.  He went to Moonshadows, changed into his gym clothes in the locker room, and worked out for an hour and a half.  He needed the stress relief, and rather than beating his former brother-in-law to a pulp again, he decided to do it in a more productive manner.

When he finished working out, he jogged down the path to the tennis courts and spent half an hour hitting balls and practicing his swing.  Hot and sweaty after the exhaustive afternoon, he peeled off his soaked Lacoste polo and trotted across the court where he’d left his gym bag. 

He stood with one foot on the bench and the other planted firmly on the ground, gulping big mouthfuls of water from a bottle and dabbing his forehead with a towel.  In the distance, he spotted Kelly coming down the hill toward the courts.  He picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder as he approached the fence. 

“Hi,” he said when she drew near.  “Long time no see.” 

“Yeah,” she replied, eyeing him up and down.  She’d always found him sexy, and seeing him standing before her shirtless and sweaty was enough to make her pant with desire.   “How are you?” 

“I’ve been better,” he said, taking another swig from his water.

“No kidding.  I just got done applying for a waitressing job at the Cahuenga Room.  Kind of sad when one day you’re on a billboard for a hit movie and the next you’re serving drinks to rich snobs.” 

Brett grinned in spite of her defeated tone.  “I meant what I said the last time we talked.  I’d be happy to put you to work in a Sunset Studios film.”

“Stormy would really let that happen, I’m sure,” she quipped.  “He’d rather see me penniless and on the street before that happened.” 

“Well, Stormy doesn’t call all the shots.”

Kelly followed his gaze.  She could tell he was checking her out, as she’d often seen him do before.  Maybe the answer to her problems was standing right in front of her. 

“That’d be great,” she said, playfully biting the tip of her finger.

Brett felt himself sweating more, this time not from his workout, but from the way she was looking at him.  Reaching out to the fence, he hooked his fingers through the wire mesh and moved closer.

“We have a lot in common,” he began.  “With how we feel about Stormy, that is.” 

“That’s probably not the only thing we have in common.”

Grinning, he walked around to the door and left the tennis court.   When he approached her, she moved dangerously close to him. 

“We should get to know each other better, Brett,” she said.  “I’d love to find out more about what makes you tick.” 

He grew aroused by her forwardness, and was certain that she could tell.  “Why don’t we go somewhere and I’ll show you?” 

She laughed coyly, throwing her mane of black hair over her shoulder and tracing a finger down the middle of his chest, pausing at the waistband of his white tennis shorts.  “Now what would Stormy say about you fooling around with another one of his ex-wives?” she asked with a playful wink. 

“Who cares about Stormy,” Brett said sheepishly.  He wanted her at that moment so badly that he could taste it.   His erection pressed hard against his shorts and he grew flushed standing beneath the hot sun on the pathway.  “Maybe it’s time we started thinking about ourselves.”

“I like the way you think,” Kelly said.  “But right now, I have to go.”

Confused, Brett watched her start up the path.  “Wait, where are you going?”  He had been sure that they were headed straight to bed.  His workout had provided little relief.  What he needed was to burn off some energy with dirty, nasty sex.  

“I’ll be in touch,” she said, backing up the hill.

“Seriously?” Brett asked, helpless as she stood there in his aroused state.

“You could be fun to have around,” Kelly called over to him as her parting shot.  “But let’s not rush it.” 

After she’d gone, he turned and ran his fingers through his hair.  All all of the sudden Kelly Blackthorne was a conquest that he wouldn’t rest until he’d taken over.

\Lola Lamont

Lola hadn’t been to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery since Jonas’s funeral.  Walking along the headstones brought back memories that she would rather not have, but with the recent events, she had no choice. 

Standing at Jonas’s grave, a shadow loomed over her and she turned.  To her surprise, Jordan was hovering behind her. 

“You followed me,” she surmised with a sigh.

Nodding with his hands in his pockets, he fell in line beside her at the gravesite.  “Tell me about Lana, mother.”

Slowly, she sunk to her knees and began picking weeds from the sides of the headstone.  “Lana always wanted the spotlight.  She craved it, but she was overlooked for roles and eventually she gave up on Hollywood.  Meanwhile I enjoyed a rich career.  You know how popular I was, Jordan.  I was the it girl before the war and even more so after.” 

“I know,” he said. 

“The studios owned their stars back in those days,” Lola went on.  “I was under contract with Lamont 3.  On top of having two children and a husband, I’d done seven films in a year.  Every day there were press junkets, interviews, wardrobe fittings for my next picture, and premieres for the last.  It was a never-ending whirlwind.  I started to feel overwhelmed.  I was only one woman.  I couldn’t do it all.”

Jordan pulled a fistful of grass from the ground as he listened. 

“I told Jonas about my concerns and he dismissed me right away.  He told me things would get better.  He told me things would slow down, but they didn’t.  Eventually I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  I had to get out of the spotlight, but the work schedule they had me on wouldn’t allow it.”  She paused while looking at her sons’ reaction.  “Jonas was good at accommodating his stars.  He fixed their problems and he covered up their mistakes.  Anything to protect his investments from public scuriny. When he realized how serious I was about needing to get away, he came up with a plan.   He got Lana to replace me.”

“Replace you?”

She nodded.  “She got a makeover, she fit into my clothes, and she learned to talk and act like me.  We were already identical twins so it wasn’t difficult.  The public bought it.   She became Lola Lamont, the celebrity, and I recuperated at a chalet in Switzerland.”

“Wait a minute,” Jordan said.  “You’re telling me you let your sister take over your life?  How long did this go on?” 

“Four years.”

Four years?” Jordan exclaimed in bewilderment.  “For four years you hid from the world while your sister masqueraded as you?  What about my father?  What about me and Troy?”

A tear formed in her eye.  “As far as you knew, she was your mother.  Nobody suspected anything.  Not even Teddy.” 

“I was five years old,” Jordan said.  “I was ten by the time this charade ended.  How could you do that to a little boy?  How could you stay away for that long?  Didn’t you care about me?  About us?”

“Of course I did!” Lola cried, rising to her feet.  “It tore me apart that I couldn’t be with you.  But I was exhausted.  I was suffering, Jordan.  You have to understand that.”

“So when did you end this game of yours?” he demanded. 

“The day of your father’s heart attack,” she said.  “I flew home to see him in the hospital.  I was there when he died.   I was at his bedside.”

“Well that’s something I guess,” he replied bitterly.  “And Lana?”

Lola turned away.  “She had grown accustomed to the life she’d been living.  She didn’t want to give it up.  She craved the spotlight, the fans, and the attention.”

“And my father, no doubt.”

She shook her head.  “No, she didn’t love Teddy the way I did.  I think that’s partly what prompted his heart attack.  They were plagued with problems because she refused to get close to him.  The stardom was all she cared about.  I confronted her at the mansion and told her that it was over but she refused to give me my life back.”

“What did you do?” Jordan demanded.  “Mother, tell me.”

“We struggled,” she admitted.  “We were on the stairs and I pushed her.  She fell and she died.”

“Oh my God,” Jordan whispered in horror.

“Jonas came in and made it look like an accident,” she went on.  “Like I said, he was good at it.  He had a team of people who covered up for the accidents his stars made.  Lana’s death was declared a freak accident and that was that.  No one ever knew about the switch.”

“But you pushed her.”

She nodded.  “And now someone knows.  Someone knows what happened because why else would they be leaving those photographs?  That photo shoot was done of Lana while I was away, and he knows that.  He knows that and he’s trying to toy with me.  Jordan, who’s doing this to me?”


Next time....

Jordan searches for the person responsible for Lola's attacks.  Ethan and Mackenzie commiserate.  Sheldon tells his father all.  Plus, the crossover event Girls of Summer, continues on Nightingales # 11 when Miranda and Jane are booked for murder.

 

 

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