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Episode 148

 

Release Date:  August 24, 2011

 Read the episode Recap 

 

Previously...

 

Brooke, angry over the fact that Ethan had ignored her during their trip to Palm Springs, made plans to leave without him, but reconsidered when Kyle showed up.  Ethan and Brooke agreed to take a break to reconsider their feelings, but later Ethan saw Brooke and Kyle kissing.  Kelly grew desperate for money, then flirted with Brett when she ran into him at Moonshadows.  Stormy continued to make Brett look bad at Sunset Studios in an effort to drive him off.  Miranda and Jane revealed to Stormy and Eddie that they put Hugh's body in the freezer because they thought Farrah killed him.  When the police found strands of Miranda's hair at the murder scene, she was arrested.  Jane insisted that she was in on it and was taken into custody as well.  Meanwhile, James learned of Miranda's arrest and made plans to return to L.A., further infuriating Mackenzie.  On her date with Vaughan, Alex found a photograph of two identical girls named Lola and Lana. When Jordan confronted his mother, she revealed that Lana was her twin who took Lola's place for four years in 1967 when Lola was suffering from exhaustion.  Then when Lola returned to reclaim her life, Lana refused to give it up and they struggled.  Lana fell down the stairs and died, prompting Jonas to make it look like an accident to protect Lola.  Jordan realized the photographs that had been left of his mother were of Lana taken during her absence, and wondered who knew the truth and was trying to kill her.

 


  

Episode 148

"The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom"

 

Night had descended over Hollywood.  The moon cast an eerie glow over Vaughan Novak’s house, throwing shadows from the swaying trees in the yard and the rippling waves from the swimming pool.  Coyotes howled in the distance and crickets chirped in the darkness.  Inside the house, the wind blew the curtains inward as doors slowly creaked open and closed.  On the television in the family room, The Benefactor played to an empty audience.

Moving slowly through the house, Alex followed the sounds through the maze of hallways and interconnecting rooms.  She made her way to the basement door in her nightgown.  In her mind, a soundtrack of ominous organ music played.

When she approached the door, she saw flashing lights and smoke seeping from beneath.  Paralyzed with fear, she watched as the door slowly opened, its hinges creaking softly until she was standing face to face with the thing in the basement.  In her mind it was a hideous monster, cloaked in a black hood and faceless red electric eyes boring down on her.  Slowly it came at her, silently preying on her defenses as terror welled up in her throat until it escaped in a blood-curdling scream. 

She turned to run down the hall but she moved with a crawl.  Her mind told her to flee but her legs wouldn’t obey.  She could feel the monster’s presence behind her, inching its way closer, hands outstretched, grasping for her, thirsty for her blood. 

But when she turned, the thing was gone, billowing smoke remaining in its repugnant wake.  Mouth agape, Alex turned to investigate.  Monsters and phantoms didn’t simply disappear.  She could still feel its sinister eyes boring down on her from somewhere. 

As she neared the door to the basement, she slowly and cautiously peered down the stairs into the darkness of the unknown.  What she saw made her heart stop.  Cold sweat and a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach overwhelmed her.  The first thing she saw was their matching dresses and indistinguishable Shirley Temple curls.  The next were their faces, stone cold and white as a sheet as two sets of identical eyes stared up the stairs at her. 

“Hello?” she called down to the twin girls.  When she drew closer, one of them disappeared.  She focused on the remaining girl’s eyes and reached out with her hand.  “Lana?” 

But the girl didn’t reply.  She pointed up the stairs with a long, slender finger, mouthing inaudible sounds that Alex couldn’t make out.

Deciding to get a closer look, she moved to the stairs, but stopped in her tracks when the basement door swung closed, latching with a thunderous slam inches from her face.  When she tried the knob, it was locked.  She rattled the door and hit it with her fists but it was no use...

With a shriek, she woke up and shot into an upright position.  Sweating and panting heavily, she looked around her bedroom in a panic.  She was safe in her own room.  The awful images of the phantom and the girl in the basement had been a terrible nightmare, and one that she couldn’t force out of her mind for the rest of the night. 

Alex Reynolds

Bursting through the doors of the Beverly Hills Police Station the next morning, Alex raced down the long corridor, her heels tapping on the tiled floor as she sprinted to the bullpen outside the admitting desk.  She came to another set of doors and barreling through them without slowing her manic pace.  Across the room she saw James and Kenny talking quietly in the corner. 

“Where is she?” Alex demanded in a panic.  “Where’s Miranda?  I have to see her!” 

Immediately, James went to steady her.  “Alex, calm down.  They’re bringing her down from the holding cell.  Kenny and I are going to find out what’s going on.” 

“Holding cell?” Alex shrieked.  “She’s being held?  What for?  What’s going on?  James, you have to tell me!  Kenny?” 

“She and Jane were arrested for murder,” Kenny told her.  “They’re holding them both.  I’m trying to get the arraignment scheduled for this afternoon so we can get them out on bond.” 

“Murder?” Alex cried.  “I don’t understand.  James, our daughter isn’t a murderer.  Who do they think she killed?” 

James sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.  Sadly, he knew very little.  He’d landed in the helicopter only an hour ago and made his way directly to the police station. 

“All I know is he was a crime boss named Hugh Rogers.” 

“That’s not the kind of person our daughter hangs around with,” Alex said plainly.  “There’s got to be some mistake.”  She went to the admittance desk.  “I want to see my daughter.  Miranda!  Miranda!” 

“Alex, you have got to relax,” James said and pulled her back.  “There’s nothing we can do until we talk to her.  Now please.  Just sit and let Kenny and I talk to her first.” 

She took a deep breath and turned just as Jordan entered the waiting area.  Relieved, she darted toward him.   “Jordan, thank God.  You’ve got to do something.  James won’t let me see Miranda and I have to find out if she’s okay.  Please, can’t you do something?” 

“Miranda?” Jordan asked, his forehead creasing into a frown.  “What are you talking about?” 

“She’s been arrested for murder,” Alex exclaimed.  “Isn’t that ridiculous?”

He ran a hand over his face while exchanging cordial nods with James and Kenny.  “Look, I’m sorry, Alex.  You know I’d do something to help if I could.”

“Well, isn’t that why you’re here?” she wanted to know.  “Because she was your step daughter twice and you care about her?  I know you think of Miranda as your own daughter.  And I know you still care about me regardless of everything.”

“I’m sure James and Kenny have it handled, and I’d love to help, but right now I’ve got my hands full with Lola’s latest drama.”

“Did something else happen?” Alex asked.  “Has someone made another attempt on her life?” 

Jordan nodded and held up a third photograph of his mother.  Or rather of Lana, he corrected himself.   Since she admitted that her twin sister had taken over her life for four years, he now knew that those particular photographs weren’t of his mother, and whoever was responsible apparently knew that. 

“Her driver was almost killed this morning,” he confided in her.  “Someone tampered with the brakes on the car.  Luckily Lola wasn’t in the car at the time, but if the driver hadn’t taken it to get washed, who knows what could have happened.” 

“Who could be doing this?” Alex whispered.  “I mean, who could possibly know what happened to Lana?  Jonas is dead, and you’re the only one she told about what happened to her.”

“But Jonas had people working for him,” Jordan reasoned.  “He couldn’t have pulled the switch off himself, much less made her death look like an accident without help.” 

Alex covered her mouth with her hands.  “Vaughan,” she whispered. 

“What about Vaughan?”

“He told me he used to work for Jonas,” she explained.  “Before he made it as a talent agent, he was Jonas’s right hand man at Lamont 3.  I asked him what he did for him and he said whatever needed done.” 

The information confirmed what Jordan had already been suspecting.  According to Denise at Sunset Studios, agents were frequently granted access to their archives.  Vaughan could have taken the photos of Lana.

“I think you should stay away from Vaughan Novak,” he said. 

Alex raised an eyebrow as she looked into his eyes.  “Jordan, please.  You can’t think Vaughan would actually want to hurt Lola.  I mean, I’ve wanted to see her gone for as long as I can remember, but murder?”

“What do we really know about him?  I think it’s best if you don’t see him again.”

Alex couldn’t help but feel the corners of her mouth turning upwards.  For months it had seemed that Jordan didn’t care about her, but now he was showing signs of genuine concern, and possibly a hint of jealousy. 

“All I’m saying is that maybe he knows who’s responsible,” she said.

“That’s what I intend to find out,” Jordan said and turned. 

Stormy Blackthorne

“We need to tell your father and Kenny about what you overheard,” Eddie was saying to Stormy at his office at Titan Records.  “If Brad King came here to kill Miranda, then he’s the number one suspect in all of this.  He probably killed Hugh himself.” 

“I know that, Eddie,” Stormy said and paced back and forth in his office.  “But we have to be very careful about what we say to anyone.  Even if Miranda is cleared of murder, she could still go down for this prostitution business.” 

“We’re talking murder charges.” 

Stormy stopped and flashed him a look. “Do you want to see her sent up the river for five years like what happened to Gemma?  I think we should find a way to clear her name but not reveal that she was acting as her replacement.” 

“Kenny can get her off the hook for that business,” Eddie insisted.  “I don’t want to see her charged with murder.  And I know you don’t want that to happen to Jane, either, no matter how angry you are right now.” 

“Of course I don’t,” Stormy said.  “But we’ve got to find a way to get something on Brad King.” 

“Well good luck,” was Eddie’s reply.  “He’s leaving with Akilah to head back to New Martin this morning.” 

Before they knew it, the door was opening and Farrah was rushing inside, panic evident on her face. 

“Are Miranda and Jane okay?” she asked.  “I heard they were arrested.” 

“No thanks to you,” Stormy snapped.  “The only reason they got arrested is because they were protecting you.”  

Farrah sighed and looked away.  “Look, maybe I can help.  I can help you find the real killer.” 

“We may already be on to that,” Eddie told her.  “Something’s up with Brad King.”

“Brad?” Farrah asked.  “Do you think he could have killed Hugh?”

“Well if it wasn’t Miranda or Jane, and it wasn’t you, then he’s the next person of interest,” Stormy told her.

“Look, I can help you,” Farrah insisted.  “I owe Miranda and Jane so much.  Please let me help.”

“We don’t need your help,” Eddie said and opened the door.  “You’ve done quite enough already.”

Frustrated, she turned and left the office. 

“What do you mean you gave our seats away?” Akilah asked as she stood with Chelsea at the check-in counter at LAX.

“You canceled your tickets,” the agent clarified while pointing at her monitor.  “I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do.” 

“Woman, I didn’t cancel my damn tickets,” Akilah said, a hand on her hip.  “Check it again.” 

“I’m sorry, you’re not scheduled for this flight,” the agent said while tapping her fingers across her keyboard.

“Can’t you just reinstate our tickets?” Chelsea asked.  “We really need to get back to New Martin.  We’re so done with L.A.”

“Preach,” Akilah quipped.

“Unfortunately the flight is booked.” 

“What you mean the flight is booked?” Akilah said, moving closer to the desk.  “First our tickets get canceled and now you say the flight is booked?  Girl, I’m about ready to come up over there and….”

“Akilah, don’t,” Chelsea said and held her back.  “It’s fine.  We’ll get the next one.”

“In the future, I’d suggest you confirm your reservations on line in advance,” the agent said primly. 

“Oh really?” Akilah asked.  “That’s what you suggest?  Well let me tell you what I suggest you do with-“

“I think I see Brad,” Chelsea said, grateful for the distraction.  “Come on.” 

Before they left the desk, Akilah looked back at the agent and regarded her with a snarl.  “You only work at a ticket booth, you know, so you can drop the attitude.” 

When they intercepted Brad, he pulled his carryon from his shoulder and set it on the rows of seats beside him at the gate.  “I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you ladies I moved our flight back,” he explained. 

You did?” Chelsea asked.  “Why?  You knew we were ready to go home.”

“I wanted to surprise you with upgrades to first class, and the last flight was sold out so I moved us to a later flight.” 

Chelsea smiled.  “How nice.  Akilah, isn’t that thoughtful?”

She frowned.  “No, it ain’t thoughtful!  I want to go home.” 

“It’s just a few hours,” Brad said.  “It’ll be worth it.  I promise.  You haven’t lived until you’ve flown first class.” 

Sighing, Akilah flung herself onto the seat.  “I don’t understand white people sometimes,” she murmured under her breath. 

Satisfied that he’d delayed their flight without too many repercussions, Brad casually removed his laptop from his carryon so he could do some work while they waited.  Caleb owed him big time, he thought to himself.  All he was told to do was stall long enough so Akilah would miss her wedding to Matt.  After that, he’d be home and away from L.A.  He wanted nothing more than to forget about the entire trip. 

Vaughan Novak

Vaughan Novak’s office was located in an ultra modern glass and steel structure on Sunset Boulevard.  Stark furnishings and expensive artwork made up the spacious room, more or less uninviting to Jordan as he was led through the giant doors by the pretty young receptionist. 

“Jordan Rydell is here to see you, Mr. Novak,” she said. 

“Serena, I told you I was in a meeting,” Vaughan snapped, standing up from his desk. 

“I’m sorry, Mr. Novak,” she said and shrunk to the back of the room.  “I forgot.” 

Vaughan shook his head dismissively.  “That’s all right.  Jordan, good to see you.  I was just finishing up with Nick.” 

Jordan regarded the other man in the room with a gracious nod of his head while extending his hand.  “Nick Kanning, it’s been a while.  How have you been?” 

“I’ve been well, Jordan,” the man said and shook his hand.  “Nice to see you.” 

“How’s the practice?  I imagine there’s never a lack of patients for a plastic surgeon in Hollywood.” 

He laughed.  “No, there’s not.”  After collecting his things, he started to the door.  “Well, I should be off.  Vaughan, we’ll chat later, okay?” 

“See you, Nick,” Vaughan said and gestured for Jordan to enter as he left.   “Jordan, this is a surprise.  Did we have an appointment?” 

After checking to make sure Nick and the receptionist had left the room, Jordan removed the photograph of Lana and laid it on top of the desk. 

“Don’t tell me Lola is looking to get back into films,” Vaughan said while looking hastily at the publicity still.   “I’m all for comebacks, but this is a bit out of my reach.” 

With his hands in his pockets, Jordan studied the man’s expression.  “Have you seen this picture before?”

Vaughan shrugged and picked it up.  “It’s vaguely familiar.  I think it was taken during the publicity shots for The Benefactor.  The original, of course.” 

“Any idea how it wound up taped to my front door this morning?” Jordan inquired while eyeing him suspiciously.  “Right after my mother’s driver was nearly turned into road kill?” 

“Jordan, are you accusing me of something?” he asked.  “Because if you are, I wish you’d just come out with it.” 

“I know you worked for Jonas during this time,” Jordan said.  “Are you saying you have no knowledge about the circumstances surrounding this photo shoot?” 

“You mean that this isn’t your mother?” Vaughan said and flashed the picture at him.  “Yes, of course I know.  Who do you think helped Jonas pull it off?  He didn’t have time to groom Lana to take over for her sister.  He came up with the idea and I implemented it.” 

“You couldn’t possibly have thought it was a good idea.” 

“I was nineteen years old,” Vaughan said with a laugh.  “Arguing morals with the biggest film producer at that time would have been career suicide.” 

“What else did Jonas have you do?” Jordan wanted to know.  “What else did you cover up for to fix my mother’s mistakes?” 

Vaughan sat down at his desk and stared at the photograph of Lana.  “If you’re talking about her fall, yes, I did help cover it up.  That was my job.” 

“And now you want something,” Jordan said, moving closer to the desk.

“What are you talking about?” 

“You’re leaving these pictures of her all over the place,” Jordan bellowed.  “You’re toying with her.  Three times someone has made attempts on Lola’s life and the only thing that the killer leaves is a picture of Lana.  Why?” 

“You think I tried to kill Lola?” Vaughan asked, then chuckled in amusement.  “Seriously, Jordan.  I think all your free time has supercharged your imagination.  Why on earth would I want Lola Lamont dead?” 

“I haven’t figured that out yet,” he said. “But all I do know is that you’re the only person alive who knows about Lana, so you must want something.” 

“You think I’m the only one who knows your mother switched places with her sister and then killed her when she refused to go back to her old life?  Get serious, Jordan.  There are people in this town who know all about the secrets that Jonas buried at Lamont 3, or Sunset Studios or whatever you want to call it.”

“What people?” Jordan demanded.  “James Blackthorne?”

He waived his hand through the air.  “Blackthorne is new blood.  You need to look deeper than that.”

“But you know who it is?”

Again, Vaughan laughed.  “No, I don’t.  I would tell you if I did.  All I’m saying is that someone else knows about your mother’s scandal and for whatever reason, they’re looking for retribution.” 

Jordan studied his face carefully.  He knew he wasn’t being completely honest with him.  He knew something. 

“And where does Alex fit into all of this?” he asked. 

Vaughan raised an eyebrow.   “Alex is a lovely woman.  I’ve been fond of her for many years.  It just so happens that neither of us has been unavailable at the same time.  Until now, that is.” 

“Am I supposed to believe that you seeing her is a coincidence?  And it has nothing to do with what’s going on with my mother?”

Vaughan leaned back in his seat.  “Tell me you’re asking out of concern for your mother and not because you intend to keep leading Alex on.”

“I’m not leading Alex on.  I just don’t want her to get hurt again.  I think you should stay away from her.” 

“I think you’re jealous.  You don’t want Alex for yourself, but you don’t want anyone else to have her either.  Well I’m afraid that’s going to be Alex’s decision.  Not yours.” 

“Just watch yourself,” Jordan said before turning and walking out of the room.  

After he’d gone, Vaughan reached for the phone and dialed.   “Nick, it’s Vaughan,” he said.  “Sorry we got interrupted.  I just want to make sure the last surgery was the last surgery.  I know you like to think of yourself as a plastic surgery Michelangelo, but I’ve got a lot riding on this.  My career is at stake.” 

Mackenzie Stone

The car trunk slammed closed just as Mackenzie emerged from the house with her last bag.  Ethan approached her and took it from her while sliding on a pair of sunglasses.

“That everything?” he asked. 

She nodded curtly while opening the car door.   “I guess this weekend wasn’t everything it was meant to be,” she said.  “Can’t say I’m sorry to see it end.” 

“We did get some stuff figured out on the budget,” he told her while putting her bag in the car and opening the driver’s side door.  “At least that’s something.”

“Never mind that James and Brooke left yesterday. Wasn’t this weekend supposed to be about us reconnecting with them?  All that ended up happening was you and I-“ 

“We promised we weren’t going to talk about it,” Ethan cut her off.  “Even around each other.” 

“That doesn’t change the fact that it happened.”  She shook her head with frustration and leaned against the roof of the car.  “I knew I should have left with James.  Staying back with you last night was just a mistake.” 

“We were both angry,” Ethan said.  “Me because of Brooke and Kyle, and you because of James leaving in the middle of the weekend.  It shouldn’t have gone as far as it did.” 

“But it did,” Mackenzie said, images of his naked torso flashing through her mind.  “And now we have to live with that.” 

Brooke Taylor

Brooke decided to go about business as usual.  She took Michael to his first day of first grade, kissed him goodbye, and proceeded to Moonshadows to get some work done after checking on progress on the marina expansion.  To her displeasure, more delays had come up. 

“Let me get this straight,” she said after barging into Kyle’s office.  “The construction crew hit power lines under ground and it knocked out the power in the cabanas?”

“I just found out myself,” Kyle said after looking up from his desk.  “We’re relocating those particular guests into the hotel.  Most of them are okay but there are a few who weren’t happy.” 

“And neither am I,” Brooke said crossly.  “Those cabanas are rented at a premium.  This is going to be a huge loss in revenue.  How long before they can get it fixed?” 

Kyle shrugged.  Chip said by the end of the week.”

“Brilliant,” Brooke said in exasperation.  “What’s next?  This entire operation is beginning to go to hell, Kyle, and if it’s not fixed pronto, I’m firing Matthews.” 

With that, she stormed out of his office and darted next door into hers.   A moment later, Kyle appeared in her doorway. 

“This isn’t about Chip, is it?” he asked.

She frowned and began throwing things around her desk.  “What do you mean?  Of course it’s about Chip.  What else would it be about?”

“Let’s see,” Kyle said, folding his arms as he walked further into the room.  “Could it be because your weekend away with Ethan turned into a disaster?” 

She flashed him an incredulous look, furious that she hadn’t been able to calm down since coming back last night.  The prospect of leaving Ethan there alone with Mackenzie made her uneasy, but what alternative did she have?  They hadn’t connected all weekend, fought endlessly, and then decided to take a break from one another.  Why would she have stayed? 

Then there was the kiss.  The passionate kiss that she shared with Kyle that night by the pool.  It did nothing but further complicate things in her mind.

“We decided to take a break,” she finally said.  “I guess that’s what I’m really upset about.” 

“Maybe this is exactly what you need,” Kyle said and walked toward her.  “I’ve been saying it for months.   There’s still something between us, Brooke.  You felt it the other night in Palm Springs.  You owe it to yourself to find out if it’s real.” 

“I don’t know what’s real anymore,” she replied.  “I thought what Ethan and I had before the earthquake was real.  Now I’m not so sure.”

Kyle stopped before her and lifted her face to his.  Slowly, he leaned in and kissed her softly, then put his arms around her and held her close. 

“You know this is real,” he said, looking into her brilliant blue eyes.

Unable to fight her feelings anymore, she placed her hands alongside his head and pulled him close, kissing him passionately, her heart racing. 

Miranda Blackthorne

“I told you, I don’t know Hugh Rogers,” Miranda said while Kenny drilled her with questions.  Jane sat to her left while James paced the interrogation room. 

“You’ve never met the man?” Kenny asked. 

“No.”

“Miranda, a guard at the prison came forward and said he heard you threaten to kill him,” James interrupted.  “You had to have known him.  And do I even want to know what you were doing visiting someone in prison?  Who was it?"

“Nobody,” Miranda replied. 

“The visitors log says you were there visiting Gemma Sanders,” Kenny said.  “The same day Hugh Rogers was murdered.” 

“Gemma?” James asked.  “What on earth did you have to talk to her about?  I didn’t even know you knew her.”

Sighing, Miranda ran her fingers through her hair. “We were cellmates back when I got arrested for breaking Jane out of rehab.  We got to be friends and I went to visit her.  What’s the big deal?”

“The big deal is that you’re suddenly associating with prostitutes and crime lords,” James said, leaning across the table and glaring at his daughter.  “What’s gotten into you?  Are you having some kind of reaction to your pregnancy?  Are your hormone levels out of whack or something?” 

“Ew,” Miranda grimaced.  “Just what I want.  To discuss my hormones with my father.” 

Jane sat by silently.  She hated that they had to go through this.  All they were trying to do was protect Farrah from going to jail for murder.  Yes, they disposed of Hugh’s body, but they couldn’t even admit to that without casting suspicion on her cousin.  She began to wonder if denying any involvement was the way to go.  Their story was bound to have holes big enough for the investigators to see through.

“So why did you threaten Hugh Rogers at the prison?” Kenny asked again. 

Miranda shrugged.  “He bumped into me in the parking lot and didn’t apologize.  I told him I was going to kill him.”

“For bumping into you?”  James demanded. 

“It must have been my hormones,” Miranda said meekly. 

James slapped his hands to his sides in resignation.  “All right, if you’re not going to take this seriously then good luck raising your baby in prison because that’s exactly what’s going to happen.” 

“I am taking this seriously,” Miranda said.  “As seriously as I can based on the ridiculous circumstantial evidence the prosecution has.  So they found my hair at Gemma’s house.  Big deal.  I could have gone to a party there months ago.”

“Then how did it get on the corpse?” Kenny asked.

“Do you see how much hair I have?” Miranda asked and pulled at a chunk of her dark locks.  “It falls out everywhere.  You should see my shower drain.  If my hair was in that house, then it could have gotten on the body.  End of story.” 

“That doesn’t explain the locket that belonged to the victim,” Kenny went on.  His son claimed he saw you wearing it.”

“That’s his word against mine,” Miranda said and looked at Jane.

“Jane, you’re being awfully quiet,” James said.  “Is there something you want to say?” 

She opened her mouth to reply but Miranda stopped her with a stern look and a shake of her head.   “No,” she replied. 

Kenny sighed and looked at James.  “Well, let’s just hope the judge decides he’s in a good mood today.  Otherwise this arraignment is going to be very interesting.” 

Brett Armstrong

All Brett could think about was bending Kelly over his desk and nailing her fast and hard.  Mesmerized by her impossibly long legs, he imagined how easy it would be to lift her skirt up and rip off her underwear – if she was wearing any – before sliding his already hard dick inside of her.

Sitting in his chair in his office with the fabric from his trousers stretched tightly over his erection, he watched the scenario play out in his mind.   He was a free agent, after all.  Heather had decided to end things with him, leaving him free to be with anyone he wanted.  Every other woman he’d had his eye on for the past three years now fell into a distant second place next to Stormy’s sexy ex-wife.   The best part of it all was that Kelly knew he wanted her, and she toyed with him endlessly. 

“What’s the part?” she was asking while traipsing across the room, throwing her mane of ebony hair over her shoulders.  

“It’s a cameo, but it’s an important role,” Brett told her.  “The part in the original film was played by Lola Lamont.” 

“A cameo?” Kelly asked with a scoff.  “You can’t do any better than that?” 

He grew excited when she approached him and sat down in his lap.  “Well, there aren’t any other female roles in the film.  It could be a great starting off point for you.  A lead-in to the next big picture we take on.” 

“Hmm,” Kelly said while slowly moving up and down on his lap.  “I guess that could be okay.  But I want a say in the wardrobe.  I realize this is science fiction, but I still want my best assets to show.” 

“Oh they will,” Brett said, grinning as her breasts came dangerously close to his face.   “Believe me.” 

She watched as his hand slid to her thigh, moving inside and inching slowly up her skirt.   “What about Stormy?  You still haven’t told him that you’re putting me in the movie.  He could freak.” 

“Leave Stormy to me,” Brett said, aroused by her scent.  “Besides, he’s too busy with Miranda’s latest drama to care.” 

“Well in that case, I accept,” she said and jumped off of his lap. 

“Where are you going?”

“To go over my lines,” she replied, standing before him. 

“What about us?” Brett asked, reaching out and placing his hands on her waist while taking in her erotic body.  “Don’t tell me you don’t want it.” 

“Oh, I want it,” she said, leaning down and flicking her tongue in his ear.  “And it’ll be the best sex you’ve ever had, believe me.” 

“I’ll go lock the door,” he said and attempted to get up. 

“Not so fast,” Kelly said and pushed him back into the chair.  “Why rush it?  Let’s just enjoy the anticipation.”

“I’d rather enjoy the real thing,” Brett said, closing his eyes as she cupped her hands between his legs.  “Come on, you have to at least give me something to hold me over.” 

Grinning, she placed her hand behind his head and kissed him hard, allowing his tongue to explore her mouth.  When she was through, she stood back up and walked to the door. 

“For now, a cold shower will have to do,” she said before turning and leaving. 

After she’d gone, Brett threw his head back in frustration.  He didn’t know how much more he could take of her games.  He knew she was only using him for the part in the movie, but he didn’t care.  He had his own agenda where Kelly was concerned, and sex was only the beginning.

Kelly Kahoano

In the hall, Kelly ran into Alex who rushed off the elevator as soon as the doors opened.  When they saw each other, they stopped and looked at one another in contempt. 

“What are you doing here?” Kelly asked.

“I’m here to talk to Stormy about Miranda,” she said.  “I think the better question is what are you doing here?” 

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m here about a part in a movie,” Kelly replied.

You?” Alex asked angrily.  “Surely Stormy wouldn’t agree to putting you in another Sunset Studios production.” 

“Stormy isn’t the only one who makes the decisions around here.” 

The prospect made Alex see red.  She’d begged Vaughan not to represent Kelly so she would fail in the business and have to leave town again.  Now it seemed she’d bypassed the agent process and went straight for the gold. 

“Stormy won’t sit by and let this happen,” she said. 

Kelly glared angrily while folding her arms.  “Why don’t you worry about your own life for once?  Go screw that fossil Vaughan Novak and leave everyone else alone.” 

“Do I detect a hint of resentment?” Alex asked.  “Your ploy to seduce Vaughan into representing you didn’t work so now you feign disinterest in him?” 

“I have no interest in him,” Kelly said with a grimace.  “Besides, he’s too creepy for my tastes.  That big house with all those weird noises freaks me out.  He’s all yours, lady.” 

“Weird noises?” Alex asked, the remark striking a chord with her.  “What are you talking about?”

Kelly shrugged indifferently.  “The sounds coming from his basement.  It’s like he’s got someone chained up down there or something.  All I know is I couldn’t wait to get out of that house.  Just like I can’t wait to get out of here.  No offense, but I don’t like you.”

After she’d left, Alex was left with the uneasy feeling that Kelly had heard the same sounds she did that were coming from the basement of Vaughan’s house.  When she’d asked him about it, he said it was Sheldon, but now she wasn’t so sure.

Jordan Rydell

When Jordan got home, he threw his keys onto the table in the entryway and flew to the bar to pour himself a drink.  It was only noon but he had already had enough to deal with for one day, and going through any of it sober seemed futile. 

“You’re so tense, Jordan,” said a voice from behind. 

Gulping down a glass of scotch, he turned to find his mother hovering in the doorway of the drawing room.   Angrily, he slammed his glass down on the bar and refilled it. 

“You really do need to find something that relaxes you,” she went on.  “Bridge, perhaps?”

“I don’t want to play bridge, mother,” Jordan snapped.  “I want to know why you did it.  How could you just give up on your life for four years?  You let another woman play house with your own family.” 

“I don’t expect you to understand what it was like in those days, Jordan,” Lola said and accepted a drink that he handed her.  “I was owned by the studio.  I didn’t have a life.  I was so busy that I never had time to spend with you and your father as it was.” 

“You could have if you wanted to.” 

“I also could have collapsed from exhaustion,” she explained.  “I did, as a matter of fact.  But I was under contract with Lamont 3 so I had no choice.  The public expected to see me at parties and premieres but I simply couldn’t do it anymore.  The switch was the only way to protect my name and protect the name of the studio.” 

"Jonas helped you through it.  Was that how you got to be so close?  You married him years later, after all.” 

She nodded.   “After he removed any suspicion on me in Lana’s accident, we did grow close, yes.  But he was already married at the time so we simply stayed friends.  But then when his third marriage ended, we finally got together.  He was the only man that ever genuinely cared about me.  Even more than your father ever did.  I would have done anything for Jonas.   And I did.” 

“What about Vaughan Novak?” Jordan asked.  “How involved was he in all of this?” 

“He was very involved.  He did the work while Jonas was merely the mastermind.” 

“Do you know any reason he’d want to see you dead?” 

Lola frowned.  “Vaughan?  No, I don’t.  Do you think he’s the one trying to kill me and leaving those photographs of Lana?” 

“I think he could be.  I know he’s hiding something.” 

Lola stopped and looked at a painted portrait that hung on the wall.  “Why would Vaughan want me dead?  After all this time?"

“Why indeed?” Jordan said while finishing his drink. 

Sheldon Novak

“Sheldon, what brings you down here in the middle of the day?” Vaughan asked as he embraced his son tightly.  “You never come to my office.” 

“I have something to tell you,” Sheldon said as Blake entered the office and fell in line beside him.  “It’s about me and Blake.”

Vaughan raised an eyebrow and looked at them in anticipation.  “Okay,” he said.  “Blake, it’s always nice to see you.” 

“You too, Mr. Novak.” 

“Well, come sit down and tell me what’s on your mind,” Vaughan said and gestured to the bank of chairs across the room.  “Just please don’t let it be that you’re not coming to the premiere of Elana Hendrick’s film tomorrow night.  She’s one of my biggest clients and I need to be there to support her.  I need you to be there with me.”

“No, I’m still going,” Sheldon said and swallowed hard.  He was used to being the supportive golden boy when his father’s business required it.  Frequenting premieres and parties were only some of the more tolerable tasks he was assigned to on occasion. 

“Good, then what can I do for you boys?” 

Sheldon looked at Blake and then at his father.  “Dad, Blake and I are together.  We’re like…a couple.” 

If there was one thing Vaughan Novak had learned in his career with working with celebrities, it was to never show expression for risk of alarming them into a fit of hasty reactions to that expression.   The same methodology worked in the instance of his family.  No expression was needed.

“I see,” he said.  “Well, thank you for telling me, son.” 

Again, Sheldon looked at Blake and then at his father.  “That’s it?” he asked.   “I tell you I’m dating a guy and you say thank you for telling me?”

Calmly, he folded his hands into his lap while leaning against his desk.  “What would you like me to say, Sheldon?  So you’re gay.  The truth is I’m very happy that you’ve found someone you enjoy being with.”

“We realized how we felt after Benji and Sierra died,” Blake said.  “It was pretty new to both of us.” 

“I imagine it was,” Vaughan said and walked around to his desk.  “Tell me, Blake, I know your father is gone, but have you said anything to your mother?  Or to Eddie?” 

He shook his head.  “No.  My mother and I haven’t really been close.  And I haven’t told Eddie yet.  I guess I’m just waiting for the right time.” 

Vaughan nodded again.  “Yes, I can see where timing would be everything.” 

“Dad, I wanted to tell you before but to be honest, I didn’t know if it was just a phase I was going through or what.  But after Blake and I got together, I realized it wasn’t.” 

“You’re nothing if not a careful young man,” Vaughan said while sitting down at his desk.  “I’m sure you gave it quite a bit of thought.  Well, now that you’ve told me, Blake, I’d love to have you over for dinner next week.  Pick a time that works for both of you and I’ll arrange it with cook.” 

“Thanks,” Blake said, relieved that it had gone better than they’d anticipated.  He hoped that Eddie would take the news as well. 

“Yeah, that’s really great, dad.  Thank you.” 

“My pleasure, son.  All I want is for you to be happy.  Tell me, since you’ve become an item, have you spent much time at the house together?” 

Sheldon frowned, unsure of what his father was getting at.  “You mean have I had Blake over?” he asked.  “Yeah.  Once or twice.  But we weren’t doing it under your nose or anything, so if that’s what you’re worried about-“ 

Vaughan shook his head.  “No, not at all,” he said.  “I just wanted to have a chance to alert the staff that there might be a new face around the house in case they were curious.  It might be best for the two of you to relegate yourselves to Blake’s apartment until I can accomplish that.” 

“Sure,” Sheldon said with a wary shrug.  “No problem.” 

“Great.  Well, I’ll see you boys later.  Thanks for coming by.” 

“Bye, dad,” Sheldon said and led Blake out into the hall. 

After they’d gone, Vaughan stared off in concentration.  He picked up the phone and called his majordomo.

“Jeffrey, I want you to change the locks on the basement door right away.  If you see any of my son’s friends hanging around the house, particularly Blake Distefano, I want you to tell me.  Is that understood?”

“Of course, Mr. Novak.  I’ll do it immediately.” 

“And find me an actress who’s down on her luck,” Vaughan went on.  “A pretty one.  Around eighteen or nineteen years old.   And buy her a dress.  She’ll be going to a premiere with my son tomorrow night.”  

Nathan Blackthorne

The last thing on Stormy’s mind was The Benefactor.  They were due to begin filming in two days, but with Miranda and Jane facing murder charges, he couldn’t think of anything but proving their innocence.  While Eddie did some investigation into the connection between Hugh Rogers and Brad King, he was forced to attend a late lunch with Nathan and Keaton Hartley, the director of the project. 

“It’s such an honor to be working with you, Mr. Blackthorne,” Keaton was saying over cocktails at the Polo Lounge.  “I’ve seen every one of your films.  My Netflix is all Nathan Blackthorne all the time.” 

“I’m flattered, young man,” Nathan said while gesturing to a few passersby who wondered at his presence.  “But I’m afraid you’re too young to have appreciated them back in their glory days.  Movies were events back then.  Nowadays it’s who can release the most films before labor day.” 

“I know how you feel,” Keaton replied eagerly.  “My approach to filmmaking is about quality, not quantity.  That’s why I was so thrilled to take on this project with Sunset Studios.   Its history alone is what Hollywood is made of.” 

“Yes, the good old days of Lamont 3,” Nathan went on.  “I was invited to a party at Jonas Lamont’s house and before you knew it I was an overnight sensation.  I was on contract with them until he died.  It was one of the longest studio contracts around back then.”

“That’s fantastic,” Keaton said. 

Nathan spotted Alex coming through the lounge, barreling intently toward their table.  “Look who we have here.” 

“Stormy, I have to talk to you about your sister,” Alex said, placing a hand on her son’s shoulder while avoiding eye contact with Nathan.  “James refuses to let me see her.  Do you know what’s going on?” 

“Mom, I don’t know anything,” Stormy said.  He knew the less he told her the better off they’d be.   “Her arraignment is this afternoon.  I can take you if you want.”

“Alex, my dear, would you care to join us for a drink?” Nathan piped in.  “You really should meet this young man sitting beside me.  He’s going to be the most innovative director of his generation.” 

Before Alex could protest, Keaton was rising and extending his hand to her.  “Miss Reynolds, I can’t tell you how happy I am to meet you,” he said.  “I’ve followed your career for a very long time.” 

“That’s nice of you to say,” Alex replied while shaking his hand.  She didn’t want to be rude, but she didn’t have much time for socializing with up and coming directors.

“Mom, this is Keaton Hartley,” Stormy said.  “He’s going to be directing The Benefactor.” 

“Very nice,” Alex said, then looked at Stormy.  “Darling, can I please talk to you in private?” 

Reluctantly, he got up and led her off to the bar where he proceeded to deflect any and all of her questions about Miranda.  He had no intention of telling her about Miranda’s job as Hollywood madam, or about her and Jane disposing of a corpse. 

“They seem to have an interesting relationship,” Keaton noted back at the table with Nathan.   “Are they close?” 

“As close as anyone can be with a celebrity for a parent,” Nathan quipped and finished his martini.   “Alex and I have quite the past.  We were close for a time ourselves.” 

“Yes, I’ve read all about it.  It was her testimony that led to a guilty verdict in your trial.” 

He nodded with a smirk, aware of the steely cold looks Alex was giving him from across the room.  “I think we’re on the verge of mending fences though.  Can’t you tell?” 

Ethan Blackthorne

When they got back to Los Angeles, Ethan and Mackenzie went straight to her office at the Young at Heart studios so they could prepare the budget presentation for the network. 

“I just need to stop by wardrobe and wish Elana Hendricks luck with her premiere tomorrow night,” Mackenzie said when they entered the building.

“You gave her time off to do a movie?” Ethan asked with a grin.  “And here I thought you were this slave driver.” 

“It’s in her contract,” Mackenzie said with a wry expression.  “Wait till she finds out three months off a year is about to turn into six months off a year so the network doesn’t have to fork over her million dollar salary.” 

“I’ll see you in a bit,” Ethan said as they split off through the building. 

Mackenzie made her way to the wardrobe department but stopped when she realized she left her briefcase in her car.  Sighing, she turned and walked back outside to the parking lot.   To her surprise, Kyle was walking up to the doors as she was coming out. 

“If you’re here for the reason I think you are, it’s a bad idea,” Mackenzie said with a shake of her head.  “Seriously Kyle, go home.” 

“What do think I’m here for?” he asked. 

“You’re here to rub Ethan’s nose in the fact that he and Brooke are off for the time being,” Mackenzie said, squinting through the bright afternoon sunlight.

“Rubbing his nose in it is a little harsh,” Kyle said.  “I just wanted to clear the slate.  They’re taking a break so Brooke’s fair game.  Let the best man win, right?” 

“And you’re so sure that you’re the best man for her?” Mackenzie wanted to know.  “You lied to her for months, Kyle.  Why would she ever choose you over Ethan?” 

He smiled and stepped closer to her.  “But you’re secretly hoping she does, aren’t you?”

“Why?  I don’t care about Brooke, and I certainly don’t care about you.  I think my ambivalence to you showing up in Palm Springs proves that.”

“You want Brooke to choose me because that will leave Ethan for you,” he said with a clever smile.  “I know you, Mackenzie.” 

“You don’t know me half as well as you think you do,” she replied.  “It just so happens that I’m very happy with James.” 

“When he isn’t throwing you aside for his family,” Kyle said.  “Wow, Mackenzie, for someone who’s usually so anti-man, you seem to be chasing your fill of them lately.”

Before she could reply, he turned and went back to his car to leave.  She didn’t care what her brother said.  She was interested in James and James only.  Whatever might have happened between her and Ethan in Palm Springs was incidental. 

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda and Jane waited for the ruling in their arraignment as James, Stormy and Alex sat behind them waiting anxiously for the judge’s decision.  

“I have no problem granting bail for Miss Blackthorne,” the judge said.  “As Mr. DeWitt stated in his opening remarks, she comes from a prominent family in California, therefore I don’t see her as a flight risk.”

The District Attorney rose to his feet.  “Your honor, Miss Blackthorne is a very wealthy young woman. She has means to flee if she wanted to, and her family has a history of doing just that.  Need I remind you about her great uncle’s rape trial in 1984?”

“No, you do not, Mr. Murdoch.  These are two separate cases.  Bail is set at one million dollars.  A trial date will be established in the coming weeks.” 

Miranda sighed with relief, running a hand over her pregnant stomach as James leaned forward and rested his hand on her shoulder. 

“The same cannot be said, however, for Miss Wheeler,” the judge continued.  “She has no ties to the area and frankly has no reason to stay to face her charges.  I can’t in good conscience allow her to be released knowing she could be a flight risk.” 

Jane’s eyes widened in terror as she looked at Miranda and then at Stormy who sat behind her.   She would die if she had to stay in jail for weeks until the trial happened.

“Your honor, James Blackthorne has volunteered to have Miss Wheeler released into his custody,” Kenny announced.  “She’ll be allowed to live in his home and he’ll be responsible for her bail.” 

Jane looked back again with wide eyes, amazed that Stormy’s father would do something like that for her. 

“Very well,” the judge said.  “Miss Wheeler is released into Mr. Blackthorne’s custody.  Bail is set for one million dollars.” 

After the arraignment, Jane turned toward James and Stormy.  “I can’t believe you would do this for me,” she said.  “Mr. Blackthorne, I can’t accept this kind of generosity.” 

“You’re very important to my son, Jane,” James said.  “That means you’re important to me.” 

She smiled happily and threw her arms around him.   “Thank you so much,” she said, overwhelmed by his actions.

“Hey,” Stormy said and led her to the side.  “I promise I’m going to get you and Miranda cleared of these charges.  I’ll do whatever I have to do to clear your names.” 

“And you’re not pissed at me anymore?” Jane asked, tears welling up in her eyes. 

He smiled in spite of himself.  “I’m a little pissed, but I’ll get over it.  I love you, after all.” 

They embraced warmly as Miranda went to her mother and father.   “Daddy, thank you.  I can’t tell you what this means to me.”

“You are not off the hook, young lady,” James said, staring at her with disapproving eyes.  “I still don’t buy your story about Hugh Rogers.  And before Kenny can work up a defense for you, you’re going to have to tell him everything. And I mean everything.” 

That’s what Miranda was afraid of.  She hated the thought of her mother and father finding out what she’d done.  The first thing she was going to do when she got out of there was to relinquish all connections to Gemma’s business.  It simply wasn’t worth it.  She’d find another way to help those girls.

“Sweetheart, are you okay?” Alex asked and embraced her daughter.  “How is the baby?” 

“Still kicking,” Miranda said, then suddenly doubled over in pain. 

“What is it?” James asked. 

She looked down at the floor.  “I think my water just broke.” 

Chaos erupted as they scrambled to get her into a seat.  As they did, Eddie entered through the doors of the courtroom. 

“Jesus, what’s going on?” he demanded.

“Miranda’s in labor,” Stormy said.

“She is?” he exclaimed, attempting to race over to her.  “Oh my God!  It's baby time?"

“Wait,” Stormy said and pulled him back.  “What did you find out about Hugh and Brad?” 

“Rogers paid Brad an enormous sum of cash a few days ago,” Eddie explained.

“What for?” Stormy asked. 

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Eddie replied.  “I’m assuming it was to off Miranda.  But here’s the clincher, Brad worked for Hugh back in Atlantic City.” 

“He did?”

Eddie nodded.  “He did all kinds of nasty things for him.  I think that’s why Hugh hired him to kill Miranda.” 

“But how can we be sure he killed Hugh?” 

Eddie shrugged.  “I think the only way to be sure is to go to New Martin and get the truth out of him.” 

“What about Miranda?” Stormy asked. 

“We’ll wait until she delivers the baby, but then I say we take the jet to New Martin.  It’s that or let Jane and Miranda fry for a murder they didn’t commit.  And I’m not about to let that baby grow up without a mother.”

Pacing Tyler’s hotel suite at the Beverly Wilshire, Farrah began to panic.  She’d grown increasingly confused about what happened the night of the party.  She’d gone to Gemma’s mansion under Miranda’s orders, only to have learned when she got there that someone had called the party off and forgot to tell her.  But when she got there, she found Hugh Rogers.  Alive…

“What are you doing here?” she asked, backing nervously away from him.  “Does Miranda know you’re here?” 

“She will when she gets here,” he said.  “I’m expecting her any minute.  And unless you want to be caught in the crossfire, I’d suggest you leave while you can.” 

“Leave Miranda alone,” Farrah said defiantly.  She wanted to be brave, but she could hear the terrified sound in her own voice.  “The only reason you’re after her is because you forced me to tell you that she was Gemma’s replacement.” 

“The only reason you’re still around is because you did,” Hugh told her.  “Now do yourself a favor and go.”

“Not until I know you’re not going to hurt Miranda.” 

Hugh’s eyes bore down into hers as he drew nearer.  “Farrah, do you remember what you told me when you first came to Los Angeles?” he asked, fishing inside his jacket pocket.   “You told me that you were mesmerized by all the lights.  It was where you wanted to be.  And do you remember what I told you?” 

She swallowed hard, backing up a step. 

“I told you that I could make those lights go out with the snap of my fingers,” Hugh said, removing a gun from his pocket.  “I think it’s time I made good on that promise.” 

She backed up, her eyes narrowing on the gun.  “One of these days somebody’s going to turn the lights out on you,” she said.   “Your days of terrorizing people are over.” 

“Is that so?” he asked, grinning as he came up on her. 

And just like that, she made a move for his gun.  If she could get it from him, she could turn the tables on him once and for all.  She and Miranda and everyone else he’d tortured would finally be free of his threats. 

They struggled over the gun, but Farrah found it difficult to overpower him.  He was much larger than she was.   For a minute she had her hand around the handle.  It took all of her strength but she managed to turn the barrel toward him.   Cringing, she pulled the trigger.  The gunshot echoed through the house and she staggered back a few steps, falling and landing on the floor, her head making a sickening sounding thud when it hit the ground.  

Suddenly, everything went black….

Breaking from the visions of that horrible night, Farrah turned around just as Tyler entered the room.   She swallowed, staring at him as he dropped his keys onto the table and walked to the mini bar. 

“You’re still here?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said. 

“Suppose that means you have something to tell me,” he said, turning to face her while he nursed his drink.  “So which is it?  Did that bitch Miranda Blackthorne kill my father?  Or did you?” 

Her eyes darted nervously around the room. She wished she knew what really happened that night.  The last thing she remembered was the gun going off and then falling and hitting her head.   She could very well have been the one who killed Tyler’s father.  But if what Stormy and Eddie said was true, Brad could have done it.  Maybe he was setting her up?  Making her think she killed him?

“I think there’s more to it than we know,” she finally said, unwilling to give herself up.  “I think Brad King is the key.  He probably knows something that we don’t.” 

“How do you figure that?”  Tyler asked, pulling off his belt and throwing it onto the bed. 

“I just think he could lead us to the real killer.  Maybe we should go back to New Martin and get to the bottom of it.”  

“You saying you didn’t kill my father?”  Tyler asked as he walked up to her. 

She shook her head. The smell of whiskey on his breath made her turn her face away as she spoke.  “I didn’t kill your father,” she said.  “But I’ll help you find out who did.”  

Tyler finished his drink and went back to the bar.   “New Martin, huh?  I guess we have a flight to catch.”  

Farrah nodded.  If her suspicions were right, she had to find out if Brad was setting her up. 

Alex Reynolds

Miranda was only dilated by a centimeter so Alex decided to rush home to change clothes before checking in on her later at the hospital.  When she arrived at her apartment she was greeted with two dozen African red roses and a card from Vaughan. 

Had a wonderful time the other night,” it read.  I hope we can do it again soon.” 

Smiling, she brought one of the flowers to her nose while gripping the card tightly in her hand.  As much as she enjoyed spending time with him, she couldn’t shake the strange feeling she’d gotten at his house.  Not just about the picture of the twin girls, but about the noises in the basement that he cleverly explained away.  The fact that Kelly heard the same noises caused her further unease.  Hastily, she turned and left the apartment again, the rose falling to the floor in her eagerness for answers.  Minutes later, she was at Jordan’s door. 

“Alex,” Jordan said when he opened the door, shirtless and sweaty after an evening workout.   “What are you doing here?”  

“I think you were right about Vaughan,” she said.  “He’s hiding something.” 

Jordan led her inside and closed the door behind while dabbing his sweaty neck with a towel.  “What makes you think that?” 

“I heard something when I was there the other night,” she explained.  “Sounds coming from his basement.  Kelly says she heard the same thing.”

“Since when do you and Kelly Blackthorne exchange notes on anything?” 

“We don’t, but this was specific.  We both heard the same thing.  And last night I had this dream about Lola and Lana and I was at Vaughan’s house and there was something hiding in the basement.  Something unspeakable.” 

Jordan smiled as he made his way into the drawing room.  “You sound like one of those bad horror movies you did as a teenager,” he said, unable to help himself from grinning.  He pulled a bottle of water from the mini refrigerator under the bar and unscrewed the cap.  “Are you serious about this?  You think he’s hiding something in his basement?” 

“Well when I asked him about it he said something about Sheldon playing videogames.” 

“Then that’s what it was,” Jordan said plainly.   “Alex, I agree the man is hiding something.  But to suggest that he’s literally hiding someone in his basement is a little out there.” 

“I think we should check it out,” she said, all serious.  “What if it’s…”  She paused, feeling silly for even suggesting it.  “What if it’s Lana?”

Jordan nearly choked as he swallowed a mouthful of water.  “Lana?” he asked.  “Why would he be hiding Lana in his basement?  She’s dead.  Vaughan and Jonas made her death look like an accident to protect Lola.  Plus it was nearly thirty years ago.” 

“I know it’s ridiculous, but I think we have to at least find out.  Maybe he’s hiding something that will tell us who’s been trying to kill your mother.”

Jordan regarded her warily.  He wasn’t sure that her suspicions were on target, but having a look around Vaughan’s house couldn’t hurt. 

James Blackthorne

Mackenzie tracked James down at Cedars Sinai and found him pacing the waiting room.   She approached him cautiously, unsure of what his mood would be after snapping at him for leaving Palm Springs before their weekend was over. 

“How’s Miranda?” she asked, sneaking up behind him. 

James turned and ran a hand over his face.  “She’s fine.  Dr. Mitchell says it could be a few hours before she’s fully dilated.  What are you doing here?  When did you get back?” 

“This morning,” she replied.  “Ethan and I drove back first thing.  I heard about what happened in court so I came to see if you wanted to go grab some dinner and talk.” 

He smiled and placed a hand over hers.  “I’d love to, but I really think I should be here for Miranda.”  After he said it, he turned and walked to the window. 

Mackenzie frowned and waited a beat before following him across the room.  “You said she was fine, didn’t you?”  

“Yes, but she’s my daughter.  I want to be here for her.”

Mackenzie couldn’t help but laugh.  “James, women have been giving birth for centuries.  If the doctor says she’s a few hours from giving birth, I don’t see why you can’t take half an hour for dinner.” 

“I just can’t,” James insisted.  “I’m sorry.  My family is my priority right now.  Miranda’s pregnancy isn’t the only thing on my mind right now.  She’s also being charged with first degree murder.  Forgive me if I’m not ready to abandon her and-“

“Who the hell said anything about abandoning her?” Mackenzie asked, suddenly realizing there was much more going on with him than she ever realized.  “James, what is it?  I knew you were devoted to your family but this is extreme even for you.” 

He started to reply but shook his head and turned away instead. 

Studying him carefully, Mackenzie walked forward.  “This goes back to what happened at Benji’s funeral, doesn’t it?” she asked.  “You’re afraid you’re going to fail your children and they’ll wind up like Jordan’s did.” 

James shook his head, refusing to look her in the eye. 

“That’s why any time something comes up where someone needs you, you push everything and everyone else away.” 

“I just can’t let something happen that could hurt my family,” he finally admitted. 

She shook her head solemnly while walking toward him.  “And I didn’t help things by working this weekend while we should have been spending time together,” she said.  “I’m sorry for that.  I should have realized you were trying.” 

“Look, I’m not saying we’ll never happen, but-“

“But just not right now.” 

“I’m sorry,” James said.  “I just can’t be distracted when my children need me.” 

She sighed and folded her arms across her chest.  “What about everyone else?” she asked.  “What about me and how much I need you?” 

He looked at her apologetically.  Words failed him. 

Realizing he wasn’t about to budge, she turned and left the room, leaving silence in her wake except for the click of her heels on the tiled floor.

Ethan Blackthorne

“I thought you’d be at the hospital with Miranda,” Ethan said as he walked into Brooke’s office at Moonshadows. 

Surprise by his sudden appearance, she looked up and continued busying herself with paperwork on her desk.   “I was going to head over a little later,” she said.  “When did you get back?”  

“This morning,” he replied.   “I just thought I’d check in with you on where things stand.  With you, me, and Michael.” 

“Where things stand?” Brooke asked. 

“Yeah.  I mean, our living arrangement isn’t the most traditional.  Living in the same house but in separate bedrooms.” 

“I thought we were doing that for Michael’s sake,” she said.  “And for yours.  So you can spend time with your son.”  

“I just didn’t know how you felt about that after what happened in Palm Springs,” Ethan said.  “About cooling things between us.” 

Brooke finally looked up at him.  “Honestly, I didn’t think anything was going to change as far as our living arrangement.  I’m still looking out for Michael’s best interests, and I think that us living under the same roof is the best thing for him right now.” 

“If you think I’m going to let you expose our son to Kyle Fenwick while we’re living together, you must be crazy,” Ethan said, barely flinching by the harshness of his own words. 

“What are you talking about?” Brooke demanded. 

“I saw you the other night, Brooke,” he said.  “Outside by the pool after we got done talking.  I saw Kyle kiss you.  And it did not look to me like you were fighting him on it.” 

“You saw,” she said and looked down at her desk.  “Look, Ethan, I’m sorry.  I can’t explain what’s going on between Kyle and I because I don’t understand it myself.  All I know is that things between you and I are always so strained.  It’s like we try and try and try and it never gets us anywhere.”

“But with Kyle it’s easy.  Is that what you’re saying?”

“No,” she replied.  “I’m not saying that at all.  I just….I think I need to find out what’s left between him and me.  I thought you were dead, Ethan.  I had moved on.  Kyle was there and he was what I needed.  I’m sorry if this hurts you, but I can’t make things work with you when I don’t even know if things are over with him.” 

A few moments of silence followed as Ethan wrapped his head around what she was saying.   It was perfectly clear to him.  She said it in no uncertain terms.  She had moved on and to hell with him and his feelings. 

“Aren’t you going to say anything?”  Brooke said.  “Please, Ethan.  Say something.” 

Finally, he found the words to express how he felt.  He looked up at her and took a breath.  “You’re a bitch.”  

Shocked, she watched him storm out of the room.   In no way was she ready for him to respond that way.  The sad thing was that she knew he was right.  She was being selfish. 

Outside, Ethan went to his car and climbed inside, fuming over the volatile end to their conversation.  Images of the night before with Mackenzie at the house in Palm Springs played over and over in his mind. 

They had been alone, drinking wine and talking into the early hours of the morning.  They commiserated over their problems and eventually things got a little too heated and they wound up stripping off their clothes on the floor in front of the fire.  

He covered her with his naked body, staring into her eyes and finding her alluring scent far too tempting.  He was aroused beyond comprehension, flushed with excitement by the prospect of making love to her. 

But the reality of what they were about to do sunk in before they took it any further, so they quickly dressed and went to their own rooms.  For the rest of the night, he’d stayed awake wondering what she was doing on the other side of the wall.  He could still smell her sweet scent on his fingers long after he drifted off to a fitful sleep. 

Now realizing they’d made a mistake by stopping themselves, he called her on his cell from his car. 

“Can you meet?” he asked.  “I want to finish what we started last night.” 

Alex Reynolds

Creeping along the dewy grass surrounding Vaughan’s house in Beverly Hills, Jordan and Alex struggled to remain out of view of the floodlights that illuminated the lawn.  They slid against the exterior wall next to a basement window and looked at each other warily. 

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Jordan asked, then noted her skin tight black cat suit.  “Why do I get the feeling you’ve been just waiting for the opportunity to wear that?”  

She shrugged while inspecting her outfit.  “You don’t think it’s appropriate?” she whispered. “I thought it was stealth.” 

“It’s something all right,” Jordan said, undeniably turned on by the fact that she still had an incredible form for a woman her age.   “Do you realize we could get in a lot of trouble for breaking into this guy’s house?  What if he catches us?”

“What if he’s the one trying to kill your mother?” Alex shot back.  “If you do nothing you’d have to live with that.” 

Groaning, he realized that she was right.  It seldom happened, but when it did, it was glaringly obvious.  With a quick glance to make sure they were still in the clear, he turned to the basement window and felt around the sides.  Luckily it appeared to be sealed with a slipshod caulking job. 

“Hand me that crowbar,” he said, hand outstretched.

“Crowbar,” Alex said and handed him the object from her knapsack. 

Rolling his eyes, Jordan took the instrument and used it to pry the edges of the caulking.  After a few moments, he felt the blinding light from a car’s headlights illuminating them from behind.  Quickly, he ducked, pulling Alex down with him.  They waited until the coast was clear.  Once the lights from the passing car had dissipated, Jordan went back to work at loosening the window. 

“Got it,” he said, carefully taking the glass and propping it up against the side of the house.   “Give me that flashlight.” 

“Flashlight,” Alex said and handed him the small pen light.

“Stop that,” he whispered, taking the light from her and shining it into the basement.   “There’s a chair against the wall.  I think we can drop down onto it.” 

Alex nodded, following his cue.  One by one, they climbed through the small window opening and slid down the wall onto the chair.  Jordan went first, then helped her down.   Once they were inside, they turned and surveyed their surroundings.  

“This place is enormous,” Alex said, holding onto his arm as he led them through the darkness. 

“The wine cellar,” Jordan noted, pointing to a room off to the side.  He picked up a bottle and inspected the label.  “I thought they quit making this.  It’s my favorite.  How does Novak have a whole supply of it?"

“Pay attention,” Alex said, slapping his hand.  As she did, the bottle crashed to the floor, glass and sticky red liquid exploding everywhere. 

“Shit,” Jordan said, hunching down with her as he waited to hear if anyone had heard them.   Moments later, footsteps above alerted them to a presence.   “He’s coming.” 

They crept forward and ducked around the corner, a clear view of a finished living space ahead in their sights.   Jordan wondered if Novak entertained down there.  It appeared to be set up for quite comfortable living. 

Creaking stairs petrified them.  They sat, crouched onto the floor with wide eyes as Vaughan appeared across the room.   For a moment it looked like he saw them, but then they realized he was just surveying the area for the source of the sound. 

“Did you hear that?” Vaughan asked someone in the room. 

Alex placed a hand on Jordan’s shoulder, eagerly waiting for the phantom presence to reveal itself.  She cringed with anxiety, her heart beating wildly inside her chest. 

“I had the locks changed today so it should be secure,” Vaughan went on.  It was still not clear who he was talking to, but someone else was definitely in the room.  It just so happened they were out of sightline. 

“Nick Kanning said your wounds were completely healed,” Vaughan indicated. “The skin graphs were a success.  Are you pleased?” 

“I can’t see who he’s talking to,” Alex whispered in Jordan’s ear.  “I’m going in for a closer look.” 

“Alex, no,” Jordan whispered in turn, but it was too late. She was crawling along the floor through the doorway of the room.  “Jesus.”

Once Alex drew near, she could finally see who Vaughan was hiding away.  Her eyes widened in shock and she covered her mouth to muffle the gasp that tore loose from her tense throat. 

“I feel like my old self again,” the man said, holding a hand mirror to his face.  “That surgeon of yours is a miracle worker, Vaughan.  Two years and countless operations and I feel ready for the big screen again.”

“Oh my God,” Alex said.  It couldn’t be, she thought to herself.  He’d gone over the side of his yacht.  He’d been horribly burned.  He’d been gone for two years, presumed dead at sea. 

But that didn’t appear to be the case.  No, Victor Distefano was alive and well. 


Next time....

Eddie stays by Miranda's side as she goes into labor.  Kelly's dreams are short lived.  Jordan and Alex reel over the discovery at Vaughan's house.   Plus, the crossover event Girls of Summer, continues on Nightingales # 12 when Akilah, Chelsea, and Brad finally make it back to New Martin.

 

 

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