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Episode 150

 

Release Date:  September 7, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Miranda gave birth to a baby girl named Tiger.  A paternity test later revealed that David was the biological father, but Miranda refrained from telling Eddie before he and Stormy departed for New Martin.  In San Francisco, David recovered from the experimental surgery he'd underwent to cure his brain cancer.  Ethan and Mackenzie slept together, but later regretted their actions.  Stormy had Kelly fired from her role in The Benefactor, prompting her to throttle Brett for not sticking up for her.  They later slept together.  Brooke visited Mr. De La Cruz, a guest of Moonshadows who fell ill and was admitted to the hospital.  Kyle proposed to Brooke.  Mason and Chip discussed their plans to drive Moonshadows to bankruptcy.  Ethan saw Mason and Chip talking by the construction site.  After being rejected by Mackenzie, Mason went to Chip's room, fully aware that he was attracted to him.  Jordan and Alex reeled at the revelation that Victor was alive.  Another attempt was made on Lola's life.  Later, Elana Hendricks was nearly crushed by falling scaffolding after a photograph of a young man was left.  Meanwhile, an unseen assailant tried to run Jack down in the parking garage at the hospital, and a photograph of Natalie Davidson, an actress who disappeared thirty years before, was left at the scene.  

 


  

Episode 150

"The Fixer"

 

“Natalie Davidson,” Alex gasped while she and Jordan inspected the photograph.  Jack, why would someone leave this on your car?” 

“And right after trying to mow you down in a dark parking garage?” Jordan added, glancing warily at Jack Childers.

Blotting the blood from his forehead with a handkerchief, Jack stammered out a few broken explanations.  “I have no idea,” he said.  “I’m sure the two things have nothing to do with each other.  It was probably a coincidence.” 

Jordan took the photograph and shook his head.  “That’s what I thought the first time someone broke into the Actors Retirement Village and tried to smother Lola with a pillow.  Whoever it was left a picture too.” 

“Could this be the same person?” Alex gasped.

“Do you have another explanation?”

Jack sat forward and took the picture from him.  “I’m telling you, it was a coincidence,” he said.  “This garage is full of cars identical to mine.  Someone probably got mine mixed up with someone else’s.” 

“That seems unlikely,” Jordan said with a furrowed brow.

“I didn’t even know Natalie Davidson,” Jack insisted.

“I think we should go to the police,” Alex announced.  “Detective Rodriguez is finally paying attention to the attacks on Lola.  This could help find whoever it is that’s doing this.” 

“No, no police,” Jack said, staggered around to the car door.  “Just forget about it.” 

“Jack!” Alex called after him, but it was too late.  He started the car and peeled out of the parking stall. 

The crowd of onlookers still hovered at the sight of the fallen scaffolding at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  Paparazzi snapped photographs and celebrities took cover for their own safety while Elana Hendricks sat in the back seat of her limousine, the publicity still of the young man still clutched in her trembling hand.  Kneeling on the curb outside the car, Vaughan did his best to calm her down.

“Drink this,” Mackenzie said when she approached with a bottle of water.

Elana shook her head and pushed it away, then plucked a silver flask from her clutch purse and took a healthy swig of straight vodka.  “I’m fine,” she said.  “I just need a few minutes.  Vaughan, I’d like to leave.”

“That’s a good idea,” he agreed.

“You could have been killed,” Mackenzie said with a frown.  “Elana, the police will want to talk to you.” 

Vaughan did his best to squelch Mackenzie’s concerns.  “I’m sure someone else who saw what happened can talk to the police,” he said.  “Elana was an innocent victim in all of this.” 

“But what about this photograph?” Mackenzie asked.  “It didn’t just wind up in her hands by accident.  Someone wanted her to see this.  Who is he, anyway?”   She looked at the picture again, certain that it was some type of publicity photograph.

“It was probably a fan who wanted to get his head shot out there,” Vaughan reasoned.  “You know people in this town will do anything to get noticed.  Come on, Elana, I’ll have your driver take you home.” 

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t want to go back there,” she said.  “What if they try to come after me again?”

“Then I’ll take you to my house.” 

Mackenzie dropped her hands to her sides in exasperation.  “Vaughan, I really think you should stay and talk to the police.  If this wasn’t a freak accident, she could be in real danger.” 

“Would you do me a favor and make an announcement?” he asked, ignoring her plea.  “I’m sure everyone will understand Elana leaving the premiere in light of these events.”

“Of course, but-” she began, glancing to the side as Sheldon and Cecily Davidson appeared. 

“Come on, son,” Vaughan said, rallying everyone into the back of the limousine.

As they drove away, Mackenzie stood on the curb watching them go.  She couldn’t help but wonder what had gotten Elana so nervous.  Obviously almost being crushed by falling scaffolding was enough to put anyone on edge, but there was something else.  She got the feeling it had to do with the photograph. 

Brooke Taylor

Brooke had managed to avoid giving Kyle an answer to his proposal for the rest of their dinner date.  And while she knew he was angry, she made her case as best she could. 

“It’s too soon,” she’d admonished.  Ethan and I just called things off a couple of days ago.” 

But Kyle had been persistent.  “It’s obvious the way we feel about each other, so why not make it official?  Can you really see yourself ever working things out with Ethan?  Does he make you feel the way I do?” 

She’d refused to answer.  They’d made their way to the parking lot where they looked into one another’s eyes beneath the moonlight.  While she wasn’t ready to make such a definite commitment to him, he did excite her.  He made her feel more alive than she’d felt in a long time. 

A few deep, passionate kisses led to an hour of lovemaking at his house in Malibu.  Afterwards, she lied awake in his bed staring out the window at the crashing ocean waves. 

When her cell phone rang, she could feel Kyle stir beside her.  Hoping not to wake him, she silenced the ring and looked at the caller ID display.  It was Ethan calling from the mansion.  At first, she decided to let it go to voicemail.  They’d said everything they had to for the time being.  Besides, how would she explain where she was? 

But then with the realization that he could be calling about something to do with Michael, she quickly answered. 

“Are you coming home?” Ethan asked.

“What’s going on?” she replied, determined not to start a fight over the phone.

Ethan took a deep breath.  “It’s Michael.  He’s upset and he’s asking for you.” 

“Is he okay?”  Quickly, she shot up on the bed.

“I don’t know, Brooke.  Nothing I do seems to make him feel better.  I just thought you should know that your son is asking for you.” 

She looked at Kyle who was now awake and looking up at her.  “I’ll be right there,” she said and clicked off the phone.  As soon as she did, she flew up from the bed and began to get dressed.

“What’s wrong?” Kyle asked, looking sheepishly at her.

“It’s Michael,” she explained.  “I have to go.”

Irritated, Kyle sat upright, the moonlight illuminating his naked body.  “Are you sure?” he asked.  “Isn’t Ethan with him?”

“Yes, but I’m his mother.”  She positioned the straps of her silk camisole and zipped her skirt into place.

“This wouldn’t happen if we were together for real,” Kyle said.  “If we were married we could be a family.  You and Michael could live here with me and you wouldn’t have to worry about rushing home to him.”

“No matter what, Ethan is still his father,” Brooke snapped.  “We share custody of Michael.  Whether we live together or apart, there’s always going to be times when I have to go to him.” 

“To Michael or to Ethan?”  Kyle asked cynically.

Brooke finished dressing and flashed him a cool stare.  “I’ll see you at work tomorrow,” she said and stalked out of the room.

Kelly Kahoano

“You are incredible!” Kelly Blackthorne squealed with delight as she collapsed onto the bed.   “Holy shit!” 

“You seem surprised,” Brett announced, panting with exhaustion after the conclusion to their marathon lovemaking.   They’d gone from the The Benefactor’s production offices to his condo at the marina.  After awkwardly dismissing Tiffany for the night, he and Kelly rounded out the evening doing everything he’d been fantasizing about since they ran into each other at tennis courts at Moonshadows.

“No, it’s just that we could have been doing this a long time ago,” she said, gazing into his blue eyes with amazement.  “Where did you learn that stuff?”

Laughing, he felt his labored breathing slowly return to normal.  “Let’s just say I know what I like.”

“Oh, I like too.  If I didn’t have a child at home, I’d say we make a night of it.” 

Brett smiled coyly and turned toward her.  “Why what would everyone at Chez Blackthorne say if they saw you coming home doing the walk of shame?” he asked with mock concern.  “That place seems to be bursting at the seams with inhabitants lately. “

Kelly groaned and sat up, reaching for her underwear.  “Who cares?” she asked.  “People there are too busy with their own jacked up lives to pay attention to what I’m doing.  Of course I’m sure Miranda would find a way to mention it to Stormy when he gets back.”

That was precisely what Brett was counting on happening.  He couldn’t wait to see the smug look on Stormy’s face when he found out he was fucking the mother of his child.  The anticipation was almost too much to take.

“I’d love to see you again,” Kelly said after rising from the bed.

Bullshit, Brett thought to himself.  She was using him every bit as he was using her.  The only thing Kelly Blackthorne cared about was what people could do for her.  And all he wanted to do was stick it to Stormy once and for all.  So why not get a hot piece of ass along the way?

“Sure,” he said with a devilish grin.  “Come by tomorrow night.  I have a few more tricks up my sleeve anyway.” 

“Can’t wait,” Kelly said after slipping into her dress and drawing him into another kiss. 

Stormy Blackthorne

The cab ride from the airport went quickly, which pleased Stormy because after having their flight plan re-routed several times due to thunderstorms, it was late by the time they got to New Martin, Tennessee. 

They arrived at their hotel, a high-class establishment known as Colt Suites, and paid the driver while a bellman loaded their bags onto a cart.  Eddie had checked them in on the plane, so they went straight to their rooms and then met up again in the hotel bar for a drink before turning in.

“You’re thinking about Miranda and Tiger, aren’t you?” Stormy asked him. 

Eddie nodded.  “Yeah, I already miss them.  Weird?”

“Not weird.  Human.” 

“I can’t believe in just a few days I’m going to find out if I’m a father or not.” 

Stormy patted him on the shoulder.  “No matter what, you’ll still be that little girl’s father.” 

“That’s easy for you say.  R.J. is yours.  I’d have to live with the fact knowing that I’m raising another man’s son.  And that the only reason he isn’t mine is because Miranda cheated on me with David.” 

“I know you two will work it out,” Stormy told him.  “But none of this matters yet.  Tiger could still be your daughter.” 

Eddie nodded uneasily, deciding to change the subject.  “So what’s the plan?  How do we find Brad King?  And more importantly, what do we do when we find him?”

Stormy regarded him warily.  You’re the private dick.  I thought you would have it figured out by now.” 

“Me?” Eddie asked.  “Why me?”

“Because you do this kind of stuff for a living!” Stormy exclaimed.  “What would you do if this was one of your cases back home?”

Eddie shrugged.  “I’d tail the guy and ask questions about him.” 

“I could have come up with that,” Stormy said wryly.  “Okay, we’ll track him down tomorrow morning.  Whether he killed Hugh Rogers, or Farrah did, I think Brad King is the key to this whole thing.  We can’t leave until we get to the bottom of it.” 

“Otherwise Miranda and Jane could have to stand trial for something they didn’t do.” 

Victor Distefano

“It was a dark and foggy night.”

Victor Distefano set the scene as he stood before Nathan in the parlor room of Vaughan’s house in Beverly Hills.  Recounting the moments after being thrown overboard his yacht two years earlier, he paced the floor. 

“In the distance I hear the sounds of roaring ocean waves and the horn blasts from nearby clipper ships.  Out of the jaws of death, I wake up with my face in the sand, choking on the salty water and crying into the night from the pain.  It goes deep down to my loins.  I reach up and my face is a bloody mass.  A mere memory of what it used to be.  Slowly, I drag myself from the shore.”  He hobbled across the floor in a dramatic re-enactment.  “I frighten a young couple off as they camp next to a roaring fire.  I almost forget that I’m now a hideous, repulsive monster.  I sit down and let the remnants of foamy seawater expel from my lungs.  I’m about to give up when I find it.  A cell phone.” 

“And you called Vaughan,” Nathan surmised, nodding along. 

“I must have lost consciousness off and on because all I can remember next is riding in the back of his limousine and then ending up here,” Victor went on.  “The next few months were excruciating as I recovered from my burns.  So many times I wanted to give up. But do you know the thing that kept me going, Nathan?  The people.  How could I disappoint the legions of fans who’d followed my career?  I knew I had a long road to recovery ahead of me, but I remained resilient.  I knew that one day I would face my public again and with a renewed vigor and zeal for theatre and film and life!”

He collapsed to his knees as Nathan stood and clapped his hands together in applause.

“Bra-vo,” Nathan said and helped him to his feet.  “Bravo, my friend.  What a journey.  I can see your story on the screen some day.  Victor Distefano: Phoenix Rises!”

“I like it,” Victor said, pouring a few pills from a prescription bottle into his hand, swallowing two, and then handing the others to Nathan.  Lifting his drink with his hand, he offered a toast.  “Here’s to my Resurrectionist.” 

“To Vaughan,” Nathan said and clinked his glass against his.  “I only hope the public forgives you for your sins as they forgave mine.”

Victor smiled while sipping from his drink.  “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.”

Jeffrey, the majordomo, entered the room with Jack Childers following closely behind.   “Mr. Childers is here.  And Mr. Novak called and said he’ll be home early from the premiere.”

“Fantastic,” Nathan said as Jeffrey left.  He poured a drink for Jack and noticed the wound on his head when he turned to give it to him.  “My God, man, what happened to you?”

“I was the victim of a hit and run,” Jack explained, eagerly taking the drink and swallowing a few gulps.   “It appears someone had the mind to try to run me down in the parking garage at the hospital.” 

“Good lord!” Victor exclaimed robustly and then handed him a pill.  “Are you okay?”

“I’ll be fine.  Just a bit shaken.”

“Did you get a look at him?”

“No,” Jack said with a shake of his hand.  He produced the photo of Natalie Davidson and lowered himself into a cognac leather chair.  “But he left this.  A calling card, I’m presuming.”

“A shame about dear Natalie,” Victor said and looked at the picture.  “When do you suppose this was taken?” 

Nathan approached and peered over his shoulder.  “Late seventies, I’d say,” he indicated.  “She was young.  Probably not long after she and I starred in that screwball comedy, Letter to God.  Why would the perpetrator leave a photograph of Natalie after trying to kill you?”

“The same reason someone left this photograph for Elana,” came a voice from across the room. 

They turned to see Vaughan enter with Elana.  She was still dressed in her formal gown for the premiere, a panic-stricken look on her pale face.

Blackthorne Mansion

When Brooke got home, she darted up the stairs to Michael’s room and found Ethan kneeling beside the bed.  Pushing her hair over her shoulder, she set her purse on the dresser and flew over to her son.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” she asked and sat down beside him.

“Mommy, where we you?” Michael asked, crying as he threw her arms around her.  “You said you were going to tuck me in and then you weren’t here.”

She held him close, avoiding a flurry of cold stares from Ethan.  “I’m sorry, sweetie. I got held up at work.  But you should have been in bed a long time ago.  Why are you still up?” 

He sniffed and clutched a stuff pig to his chest.  “Adam said you and Daddy were mad at each other and it was my fault.” 

Devastation quickly set in.  Brooke had just got done telling Kyle that Michael’s imaginary friend had disappeared since Ethan’s return.  Now it seemed that wasn’t the case, and that for whatever reason, he began to need him in his life again. 

“Sweetie, I haven’t heard you talk about Adam for a while,” Brooke said, stroking his hair.  “How come you haven’t mentioned him?”

“I dunno,” Michael said with a shrug.

“Where did you see Adam?” 

“At the playground at school today,” he told her.

She looked at Ethan with a sigh before turning back to her son.  “Is he here now?” she asked.

Michael shook his head and pointed out the window to the sky.  “No, he lives up there.  Sometimes.  Sometimes he lives here but mostly up there.  He rides a spaceship around.” 

“He does?” Brooke asked, tucking him back into bed.  “Well listen to me, your daddy and I aren’t mad at each other, and even if we were, it wouldn’t be because of anything you did.  So I don’t want you to worry about anything, okay?"

“Mommy, do you still love Daddy?” Michael asked, his eyes growing droopy.

She closed her eyes and brushed a few pieces of stray blond hair from his face.  “Just go to sleep, baby.” 

And within minutes, he was fast asleep.  Brooke waited until he’d let go of the pig before getting up and walking to the door.  Slowly, Ethan followed her into the hall. 

“Who is Adam?” he asked. 

Brooke sighed while running her fingers through her hair.  “He’s his imaginary friend,” she replied.

“When did this start?” 

“When you were gone,” Brooke said and stormed next door to her room.

Ethan followed her, walking inside and closing the door so they didn’t disturb the rest of the family.  “What are you talking about?”

She turned and sighed.  “I took him to a child psychiatrist because he was acting out and blaming Adam for it.  The doctor told me it was because he was having abandonment issues.  Issues because his father went away.”

“I couldn’t exactly help that, Brooke,” Ethan raged.  “You’re acting like I left on purpose.” 

“I know you didn’t leave on purpose,” she said.  “I know that.  All I’m saying is that there’s got to be some underlying issues why he’s started bringing this imaginary friend up again.  Something had to have triggered it.  He’s a smart boy.  He knows that we’re not getting along.” 

“He also knows when his mother is spending more time away than she is at home.  And don’t say you were at work because I know you were with Kyle.”

“I don’t want to get into this now,” she said with exasperation.

“Why not?  This isn’t just about us anymore, Brooke.  It’s about our son.”

“I’m not the only one who’s been spending time away from home,” she hissed.   “All your late nights working with Mackenzie at the studio haven’t exactly gone unnoticed.  I know you didn’t come home last night so don’t even try to put this all on me.”

Ethan turned in an effort to avoid looking at her.  The truth was he was making love to Mackenzie the night before.  And the fact that he hadn’t been able to get it out of his mind was a constant source of frustration.

“What do you want me to do?” Brooke asked after he’d remained silent for a few moments.  “We’re just going to have to find a way to make this work.  For Michael, if not for ourselves.” 

“Yeah, I guess,” Ethan said before turning and flying out of the room.  He bumped directly into James as he did, brushing past him and making his way down the hall to his bedroom.

“Is everything okay?” James asked as he approached Brooke.  “I heard yelling.”

Brooke sighed as she lingered in the doorway.  “I’m sorry,” she said, tears forming in her eyes.  “Just the perils of unmarried parents.”

“Do you need to talk?”

She shook her head.  “No, I’m good.  Thanks, James.” 

Nodding, he placed a hand on hers before offering a comforting smile and retreating back down the hall.

Nathan Blackthorne

“What?” Nathan asked incredulously as they stood in Vaughan’s parlor room.   “Elana, are you quite all right?  You look a fright.” 

“I look better than I feel,” she said and took his drink from him, swallowing it down in one gulp.  “This has been a dreadful night.  First my contract for The Young at Heart gets slashed to ribbons, then I’m nearly pulverized by falling scaffolding.”  

“Are you serious?” Victor asked. 

“And whoever set the disaster into motion left this,” Vaughan told him, handing them the photograph that someone have given Elana before the incident.

“Who is it?” Victor asked.

Nathan looked on with a knowing sigh.  “Greg Bender.  A transplant from Texas who was killed in a car accident many years ago.  It was sad.  I think he only did one film.  For Jaguar Studios, I believe.  Talented young actor, though.” 

“Someone left a photo for Jack tonight too,” Victor said and showed them the photograph of Natalie.  “Right after trying to run him down with his car.  Vaughan, what is going on?” 

With a sigh, he walked across the room and poured himself a drink.  “I’m afraid it’s bad,” he indicated.  “First Lola, and now the two of you.  I don’t think Jonas ever considered this as a possibility.” 

“Jonas?” Nathan asked and went toward him.  “What about Jonas?”

He nodded.  “Just as he masterminded Lola’s sabbatical from Hollywood and the cover-up of Lana’s death in its wake, he arranged for similar cover-ups for others.”

Jack looked away with a shamed expression on his face.   “You know I enjoyed the company of different women in those days,” he explained.  “Well, Natalie was a flower that I’d longed to pluck.  I finally convinced her to accompany me for a moonlit dinner aboard my yacht.  We had a lot to drink.  Well, I had a lot to drink.  She resisted my advances and we struggled.  She fell overboard.  I wanted to save her but I’d had so much to drink that I could barely function.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Victor asked.

“I was too devastated,” Jack confessed.

“Jonas erased any indication that Natalie had been aboard the yacht,” Vaughan explained.  “Then he rented a fishing boat in her name to make it look like she’d gone out by herself.  When news came of her disappearance, it was made to look like she’d been alone at the time.”

“I would have never hurt Natalie,” Jack said.  “It was an accident.  I swear to you.  But Jonas was sure the scandal would destroy my career and hurt the studio's reputation.” 

“I’m sorry.  I had no idea, Jack.”  Nathan placed a hand on his shoulder and then looked up at Elana.  “And what of Greg Bender and his car accident?  How were you involved?”

“It’s no secret about Elana’s fondness for the bottle,” Vaughan explained.

“Vaughan, no!” she cried, turning away.  “I can’t.  I can’t let it come out now.” 

“Someone knows, Elana,” he insisted.  “And tried to kill you because of it.  Are you secrets more important than your own life?”

Little more explanation was necessary.  “You were drinking and driving?” Nathan surmised.

She nodded in agony, tears streaming down her face.  “I was only going a few blocks,” she exclaimed.  “I’d been at a party at Jonas’s mansion.  He warned me not to drive but I did it anyway.  It was on that dangerous stretch of Mulholland.  I barely saw him coming!  Greg Bender was pronounced dead at the scene.”

“And Jonas covered that up as well to protect your career,” Victor assumed with a sigh.  “Vaughan, you aided him in these cover-ups?”

“It was my job at the time,” he explained.  “Just like with Lola and Lana, I did what he told me to do.”

“And now someone knows about what we’ve done,” Jack said.  “Elana, Lana and myself.  How after all these years?  Why now?  Why after all this time?”

“I don’t know!” he exclaimed.

“Jonas told nobody else about what we did,” Elana said, turning an accusing glare at Vaughan.  “You were the only other person who knew.  And Jonas is gone, which means it’s got to be you!  You’re the one doing this to me!  You want me dead!  Admit it!  You’re trying to kill me!”

“Elana, stop it!” Vaughan shouted, grabbing her by the wrists and shaking her forcefully.  “I did not try to kill you.  Just as I didn’t try to kill Jack tonight, or Lola by blowing up her car tonight.  Someone else found out and is trying to get revenge.” 

“But who?” Victor asked, looking amongst the five of them.

Alex Reynolds

The next morning at the hospital, Alex placed a bouquet of flowers on the table beside Miranda’s bed before standing back to admire them.

More flowers, mom?” Miranda asked while holding Tiger in her arms.  “You don’t have to bring them every time you come see me.” 

“Flowers are beautiful, darling,” Alex said, taking the bouquet she’d brought the night before and moving them to the other side of the room.  “They make everything seem fresh and new.  Just like that beautiful baby of yours. “

Miranda smiled while looking into her daughter’s eyes.  “She is beautiful, isn’t she?  Absolutely perfect.” 

“That’s because she came from you,” Alex said and sat down on the edge of the bed.  “You are such a strong, beautiful young woman, Miranda.  I can’t tell you how proud I am of who you’ve become.  I know you’ll feel the same about your daughter when she grows up into a young woman.”

Alex’s words gave Miranda pause, and filled her with a certain amount of guilt and regret.  How could she sit there and let her mother proclaim her pride after what she’d done these past few months?  While she may have had good intentions in taking over Gemma’s call-girl operation, it wound up hurting more people than she ever thought possible.  Jane, Stormy, Eddie, Farrah, not to mention that sweet girl Akilah that Stormy had been working with.  None of them would have been put in any danger if she had simply listened to her inner voice.  The fact that she and Jane were about to stand trial for murder was of particular concern.  What had she been thinking?

“Mom, there’s something I need to tell you,” she began, realizing she had to come clean.  She had never been particularly close with her mother, but with something like this, she knew she could trust her.  After all, Alex Reynolds was a legend.  She’d made her own share of mistakes and wouldn’t judge her the way her father would.

“I know what it is,” Alex said with a smile.

“You do?”

“Yes.  You’re worried about being a good mother.  Well sweetheart, I know you’re going to do just fine.  You have so much love to give, and this baby is lucky to have you.  I only wish I had another opportunity to prove that I could be selfless and caring when it came to my children.  I made so many mistakes.  Mistakes that you won’t make with your own child because you know what it was like.”

Miranda reached out and placed a hand on her mothers.  While that wasn’t at all what she had intended to tell her, it did open up a welcome topic.

“Mom, don’t say that,” she said.  “You were a good mother.  I think you did the best you could.”

‘I could have done more,” Alex said, wiping tears from her eyes.  “I have so many regrets, Miranda.  You have no idea.” 

“You can’t live like that,” Miranda exclaimed.  “Mom, you have to let it go.  Stormy and I turned out okay, didn’t we?” 

“I was so selfish.”

Miranda shook her head.  “You were an actress.  Your life was dictated for you by Jonas and Nathan and then by Daddy.  I don’t hold that against you and Stormy doesn’t either.  Things could have turned out a lot worse, you know.”  Sorrowfully, she looked down at her daughter.  “Look at what happened to Heather and Benji.”

Alex turned and walked back to the bed.  “I want this to be a fresh start for us,” she said, grabbing her hand.  “I want us to really be close, you know?  Do you think Tiger can help us do that?”

“Yes, I do,” Miranda said and squeeze her mother’s hand.

Mackenzie Stone

After Alex left Miranda’s room, she proceeded down the hall and ran into Mackenzie who was approaching with a stuffed bear and a bouquet of flowers.

“Mackenzie, good morning,” Alex said and stopped in the corridor.  “What brings you by?”

“I wanted to give these presents to Miranda and the baby,” she said.  “Just because James and I aren’t together anymore doesn’t mean I care any less.” 

Alex titled her head and smiled apologetically. “I was sorry to hear about you and James ending things.  Are you sure this is what the two of you want?”

She sighed and moved the flowers from one hand to another.  “I’m not sure that it’s what either of us wants, but it’s what needs to happen for the time being.  Maybe once Miranda’s trial is over…”  She paused while wondering if that would even make a difference. “I don’t know.” 

“I’m sorry,” Alex said, knowing what it felt like to end a relationship with James Blackthorne.  Hers ended six years ago and she still sometimes wondered if she was completely over it.  “Listen, I saw the news coverage of Elana’s premiere last night.  That incident with the scaffolding was positively horrifying.  Is she okay?” 

“She was mostly just shaken up.  The truth is I think that photograph unnerved her more than nearly being crushed to death.”

“Photograph?”

Mackenzie nodded.  “Yeah, someone handed her a picture of some man seconds before it happened.  Afterwards she got very nervous.”

The news struck Alex as oddly coincidental.   “Who was the man?” 

She shrugged.  “She didn’t say.  I think he was an actor.  But she’d acted like she’d seen a ghost.”

Certain that something very peculiar was going on, Alex decided her next stop was going to be Jordan’s house.  After what happened with Jack in the parking garage the night before, she suddenly realized there was some kind of epidemic occuring.

Stormy Blackthorne

In New Martin, Stormy and Eddie awoke and made their way down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast before starting out for the day.  First on their agenda was stopping by Colt Records to do some recon on Brad King.

“Sorry about the wait, boys,” said the waitress as she brought them their food.  “I’m busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest.”

Eddie smiled in wonderment at her.  “So people really talk that like in the south?” he asked. 

“Talk like what, sugar?” the waitress asked.

“Uh, ignore him,” Stormy said.  “Say, can you help us with something?”

“You mean with more than your fancy egg white omelets?”

“Yeah,” Stormy said meekly.  “Do you know a guy named Brad King?  Works at Colt Records?”

The waitress shook her head apologetically.  “Sorry, handsome.  I’m new in town.  I don’t anyone but my landlord and he’s trying to screw me, and I’m not talking about in bed.”

“Oh,” Stormy said.  “No problem.  Just thought I’d ask.”

“Be back with your ketchup,” the waitress said and darted off.

“Way to go, Nancy Drew,” Eddie said with a frown.  “You just don’t go walking up to people asking if they now someone.  We’ll have private investigator written all over us.” 

“Well I don’t see you doing anything to help the situation,” Stormy argued.  “Except drowning your eggs in ketchup and offending people about the way they talk!”

“Relax,” Eddie said with a grin.  “I’ve got it all figured out. We’ll take a drive over to Colt Records and let our charm take over.  These southern women love us!”

Kyle Fenwick

Kyle and Mason met for breakfast on the terrace of the Sierra Room.  Before they had even got their order, Kyle’s attention span had dissipated.  It was difficult to concentrate on small talk when Brooke was sauntering through the doors looking radiant in the morning light.

“Kyle?” Mason asked.  “Did I lose you?”

He looked back at him and shook his head apologetically.  “Sorry.  You were saying?”

But Mason could tell where his mind was.  He looked at his watch and began counting the seconds out loud.  “One….two…three…”

“What are you doing?”

“Counting how many seconds it takes you to get up and go talk to her,” Mason replied.  “You haven’t stopped looking at her since she walked in.  What’s going on with the two of you anyway?”

“We’re seeing each other again,” he answered.  After a few seconds, he sighed and shook his head.  “Actually, I proposed to her.”

Mason raised an eyebrow as he took a sip of orange juice.  “Proposed?  Didn’t she just get out of a relationship with Blackthorne?” 

Kyle nodded.  “Yes, but she and I were together a long time before he resurfaced.  We were about to move in together before he got sprung from prison.”

“I take it she hasn’t answered yet,” Mason said.

“No,” Kyle said, hoping to drop the subject until he had a chance to talk to Brooke.

“Does she know I’m the one who secured the variance for you to do the marina expansion?” Mason asked.

“No, and she isn’t going to know,” Kyle commanded.  “She isn’t my sister’s biggest fan, which means she probably doesn’t like you either.  Besides, the less we talk about the marina the better.  There’s been nothing but problems since it started.  Dead bodies turning up in the freezer, power outages.  What’s next?”

Mason offered a convincingly sympathetic smile.  “Anytime expansions factor in, complications arise.  I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  Just focus on the end result.”

“Try telling her that,” Kyle said with a sigh.  He craned his neck toward her, incensed to find Ethan walking through the doors and approaching her.  “Go figure,” he murmured under his breath. 

Before he could get up to approach them, Chip Matthews approached the table dressed in jeans, a blue plaid shirt and a work belt hanging around his waist.

“Good morning, Kyle,” Chip said.  “Just wanted to let you know we’ve got the power restored to the cabanas.  I don’t think there will be any more problems with the power lines.”

“That’s good news,” Kyle said, then gestured across the table to Mason.  “Chip, this is Mason Stone.  Mason, this is our contractor, Chip Matthews.” 

“A pleasure,” Chip said, keeping up the charade that they didn’t know each other as he shook Mason’s hand.

“Yeah,” Mason said and shook his hand.

“Does this mean we’ll be able to put the cabanas back on market by Friday?” Kyle inquired.  “We have that sci-fi convention this weekend and we can’t afford to have any rooms out of order.” 

“I guarantee they’ll be up and running,” Chip said.

At least that was a relief, Kyle thought to himself.  He couldn’t help glance again over his shoulder at Brooke and Ethan, intensely curious what they were talking about.

Ethan Blackthorne

Across the room, Ethan leveled his eyes on the three men before turning back toward Brooke who stood at the hostess stand. 

“How do Mason Stone and your contractor know each other?” he asked, his brow furrowed.

“They don’t,” Brooke said with a shrug as she flipped through the reservation book.

Ethan shook his head.  “I saw them talking a couple of weeks ago by the construction site.  Yet they were just acting like they were meeting for the first time.  Don’t you think that’s weird?” 

Sighing, Brooke glanced over at the table.  “No, I don’t.  Mason’s living here while he’s in town, and Chip’s here every day working on the marina.  They probably just forgot they’d met.  In case you haven’t noticed, Mason does seem to get around.” 

“What is he doing here, anyway?”

“He’s on business.  I don’t know.  Maybe he’s trying to patch things up with Mackenzie.”

Ethan folded his arms.  “Mackenzie wouldn’t give him the time of day.”

“You seem awfully sure of that,” Brooke said, her eyes flickering past his and pausing for a few tense moments.  “What are you doing here, anyway?  Come to insult my parenting skills again?” 

He ignored her jab.  He supposed he deserved it for the way he acted the night before.  “No, I came to see how Michael was this morning when you brought him to school.”

“He seemed fine,” she replied.  “I’m sure he’ll get back to his old self once things calm down again.” 

“You mean once he realizes his parents aren’t going to get back together?” 

Brooke took a stack of receipts from Yvonne, the hostess who approached and took her place at the front of the restaurant.   “Ethan, I have work to do,” she said.  “I’ll see you at home later.” 

Once Ethan left, Kyle decided to approach Brooke to fish for information on their conversation.  He hated to be jealous, but she hadn’t done much to confirm her commitment to their relationship. 

“What was that all about?” he asked as he approached.

“Michael again,” Brooke answered.  “I’m sorry I had to leave last night.  But I’m afraid that’s the way it’s going to have to be for a while.  Until he settles down, anyway.” 

Kyle placed a hand on her waist and moved closer to her.  “So I have to wait to spend the night with you?” he asked, looking at her with smoldering eyes.  “Brooke, I don’t know how long I can stand to be without you.” 

“I’m not saying you won’t see me,” she clarified.  “But I can’t spend the night with you for a while.  I hope you understand.”

“I’ll survive,” he said with a wink.  “But you still haven’t given me an answer to my marriage proposal.”

“I told you I can’t answer you right now,” Brooke told him and pulled away.  “Kyle, I want to be with you but I won’t be pressured into anything.  Let’s just take things slow for a little while longer.  I don’t understand why you’re in such a hurry.”

“I just don’t want anything to come between us again.”

“What could come between us?  Unless there’s something you’re not telling me.” 

If she only knew, Kyle thought to himself.  The truth about who got them the variance, for one.  Then there was his omission about David’s experimental surgery.  He considered telling her to clear the air, but by now it was too late.  Besides, the longer David stayed away the better it was for their relationship.

“There’s not,” he finally said.

Mason Stone

“What do you think you’re doing?” Mason asked as he and Chip sat at the table across the room.  “People aren’t supposed to know we’re acquainted.  If Brooke Taylor or Kyle Fenwick find out we’re in on this together, it could ruin everything.” 

“Relax,” Chip said with a grin.  “Fenwick doesn’t suspect anything.  Did he seem suspicious to you?” 

Mason waived his hand dismissively.  “What about the power outage to the cabanas?  I thought you were going to delay repairing it for as long as you could?” 

“I was running out of excuses to delay it,” Chip said.  “You don’t want to raise any red flags, do you?  Trust me.  I know what I’m doing.  Or did you not get that from last night?”

Mason regarded him warily.  “Funny.”

“Feel like dropping by again tonight?"

“No.  Last night was a one-time deal.  I told you that.”

“You did?” Chip asked incredulously

“It was implied.  Last night I got shot down and was desperate.  I would have never showed up at your room otherwise.” 

Chip stood up and put his hands in his pockets.  “Door’s always open.  No reason our partnership can’t have a few other benefits attached.”

Mason knew going to his room was going to be a mistake.  He’d never done anything like that before.  He only hoped Chip didn’t make an issue of it.  Complications with his plans for Moonshadows were the last thing he needed.

Jordan Rydell

Armed with the new information from Alex, Jordan drove to Vaughan’s house and barreled through the door, past the butler, and into the study.

“Are you still going to tell me that you don’t know what’s going on?” he demanded, staring menacingly at the man as he sat behind his desk.

“Jordan,” Vaughan said with surprise while dismissing the butler with a single hand gesture.  “Thank you for using the door this time instead of climbing through the window, but in the future, I’d appreciate it if you would call first.  I’m very busy.” 

“Busy leaving threatening photographs and coming up with inventive murder plots?” Jordan asked.

“What’s gotten into you?  Is this still about your mother?  Look, I told you that I had nothing to do with the attempts made on your mother’s life.”

“What about the attempt made on Jack Childers life last night?” Jordan questioned.  “Or on Elana Hendrick’s life at the premiere that you attended with her?”

Vaughan didn’t give pause to the fact that Jordan was privy to the other incidents.  News of that nature had a tendency to spread quickly.  “And there were hundreds of other people at that premiere who all saw me.   I couldn’t have been at the hospital to run down Jack Childers and then make it to the premiere in time to topple that scaffolding.”

“The investigators said the scaffolding was rigged to collapse,” Jordan told him.  “It could have been done days before the premiere.”

“But I was with Sheldon while Jack was targeted,” Vaughan reasoned.  “I’m telling you, it wasn’t me.”

Jordan had to admit that he had a valid point.  But even if Vaughan wasn’t the person doing these things, he had to know more than he was letting on.  Frustrated, he turned and ran his fingers through his hair.

“I have to go to the police,” he said.  “If these other attacks are related to Lola’s, they’ll want to know.  It may help them find this psycho.”

Quickly, Vaughan came out from behind his desk and moved toward him.  “Jordan, let this go,” he said.  “You won’t do anyone any favors by bringing the police any more into this than they already are.” 

“Is that another threat?” he asked, leveling a penetrating gaze upon him.  “I already told you I was going to keep quiet about Frankenstein’s monster living down there in your basement.” 

“It isn’t about Victor,” Vaughan told him.  “I’m telling you this for your own good.  The more the police nose around the better the chances that they’ll find out about Lola’s past with her twin sister.  And if they tie these incidents together, they’ll find things about other people who don’t want their mistakes brought up again any more than she does.” 

“Jack and Elana?” Jordan asked.  “What did they do?   Switch places with their twins and kill them too?”

Vaughan shook his head.  “It doesn’t matter what they did.”

“So I’m supposed to do nothing?” Jordan demanded.  “My mother could be killed.  I just brought her home from the hospital where she spent the night because someone put explosives in one of my cars!”

“You don’t know what this person wants.  This could all be a game to him.  Nobody’s died yet, have they?  He’s had plenty of chances.  He could just be toying with them.” 

Jordan nodded his head, wondering if Vaughan may be right.  If the killer wanted them dead, they would be dead.  Maybe it was all just a game.

Outside the room, Victor listened to their conversation.  When he heard Jordan emerge from the study, he dashed across the hall and slipped into the basement.

Elana Hendricks

Elana had locked herself inside her penthouse apartment all morning.  She insisted that the doorman admit no visitors.  Her husband, Max was golfing and the cast of crew of The Young at Heart had the day off due to budget cuts.  All she wanted to do was lie in bed with an ice pack on her head and forget the night before had ever happened.

The fact that someone out there knew about her drunken driving incidents chilled her to the bone.  Jonas had promised it would never get out.  She’d been on contract with Lamont 3 at the time and they couldn’t afford such a scandal.  So why now?  Who was the madman taunting her relentlessly? 

A knock at the door in the front room sent her flying upright with a shriek.  Slowly, she pushed the ice mask up onto her forehead and climbed off the bed.  She’d made sure the doorman knew she was not to be disturbed.  She couldn’t trust anyone.  If a psychopath could come up to her at the premiere of a major motion picture, then nobody was to be trusted.

Maybe it was Max, she decided.   He could have forgotten his key.  Taking a deep breath, she made her way to the door and peered through the peephole.  No one was there.

Slowly, she unchained the door and peered into the hall.  Empty.  Now filled with curiosity, she opened the door to be sure.  It appeared to be a figment of her imagination.

But as she closed the door, she saw the photograph taped to the outside.  Gasping, she snatched it away and looked at the picture of a young actress.  Scribbled on the picture in red marker were the words I know there were others.

“Oh my God!” she screamed, slamming the door closed, locking and chaining it, and leaning against it in a panic. 

How could they know?  Finding out about Greg Bender was one thing – his death was plastered all over the news.  But Cheri Montessori barely made the obituaries.  She was a drug addict.  A porn star who’d happened to be crossing a dark street at the wrong time.  There was barely an investigation into her death.  In the aftermath, Jonas had destroyed her car and replaced it with a new one to ensure there were no traces of the hit and run.  If only she hadn’t been drinking…

Sinking to the floor, she wept, the photograph falling from her trembling hands.  That’s when she saw the writing on the back.  Scribbled in the same red marker were instructions.

Be at the Young at Heart studios tonight. 7:30. Come alone.

Miranda Blackthorne

James and Alex brought Miranda and Tiger home from the hospital.  When they arrived, Ethan, Jane, Leilani and Kelly were standing by in the foyer.  Balloons and a baby banner were hung from the grand staircase. 

“Welcome home, Miss Miranda and Miss Tiger,” Leilani warbled in her Polynesian accent as she kissed them both on the cheek.  “She is so gorgeous.”

“Thanks Leilani,” Miranda said with elation.

“We’ve got Tiger’s room all ready for her,” Jane said.  She felt a little odd being there full time while they waited for their trial.  But under the conditions of her bail, she had to.  Maybe when Stormy returned it would feel less uncomfortable, she decided.

“So you seriously named him Tiger?” Kelly exclaimed with a deep frown.  “After the golfer or what?” 

Miranda glared at her.  “Tiger is a her,” she first corrected her.  “And no.  She’s named after the wild animal.  You know, the one who eats people alive.”

“Oh, because she looks like a boy in that outfit you’ve got her in.” 

Miranda leaned over to Jane and whispered in her ear.  “Jane, get this witch out of my face before I hand this baby to you and beat her ass.”

“Maybe we should check on that cake,” Jane said and led Kelly off. 

You check the cake,” Kelly said with a frown and shrugged her away.

“Girls, come on,” Leilani said and pushed them toward the kitchen.  “I need help with the coffee.” 

After they’d gone, Ethan leaned down and kissed Miranda.  “You look beautiful,” he said.  “Motherhood suits you.” 

“You do have a very wholesome look about you these days, Miranda,” James said with a grin.  “Motherhood just might change you into one of those ethereal types.”

Miranda grimaced.  “No way.  The only thing that got me through that pregnancy was the new fall line.  Is the September Vogue here yet?” 

Alex laughed.  “I’ll help you upstairs, darling.”

Miranda went upstairs with her while James and Ethan remained in the foyer.

“Has there been any word from Stormy?” Ethan asked his uncle.

“Nothing yet,” he replied with a somber shake of his head.  “But it may take a day or two to get to the bottom of what Farrah Bale and Brad King know about Hugh Rogers’s murder.  Until then, let’s not stress Miranda out about it.  I want her to have this time with Tiger.”

Ethan narrowed his eyes on him.  “You make it sound like she might not have that much time with her.”

“If she goes to prison, she won’t,” James said with a shake of his head.

The doorbell ringing turned James away from the somber conversation.  He pulled the door open as Kenny made his way inside.

“Kenny, you’re just in time.  Miranda and the baby just got home.”

“That’s good news, but I’m not here about Miranda,” Kenny said.  “Can we talk in your study?” 

“Sure,” James said and led him across the foyer.

Once they were out of view, Ethan pulled his phone from his pocket and checked to see if he had any missed calls.  He didn’t know why he kept expecting Mackenzie to call.  She’d expressed her regret over spending the night with him.  But something about that night stayed with him.  He yearned to see her again, to feel her soft skin against his and to make love to her.  Tentatively, he pulled her number up on his phone and prepared to hit talk.    But when he thought about James again, he decided it was the wrong thing to do.  Whatever he and Mackenzie had was better left a one night thing.

James Blackthorne

Inside James’s study, he turned toward Kenny while gesturing to the mini bar in the corner of the room.

“What’s on your mind, Kenny?  Can I get you a drink?”

“No,” Kenny said.  “James, I just came from the office.  I got a call about your father.”

“My father?” James asked in shock.  “What about him?” 

Kenny took a deep breath.  “He’s had a heart attack.  It’s quite serious.  They don’t think he’s going to make it.”

Jarred by the news, James sat down in a chair.  He hadn’t thought about his father in some time.  They hadn’t always agreed on much.  First his leaving Kansas and moving to Hollywood to follow in Nathan’s footsteps, then allowing Ethan to do the same.   And since his mother passed away, they hadn’t so much as spoken two words to one another.

“How long does he have?” he asked, swallowing hard.

“Not long.  You should probably go see him.  If you want I can call the pilot.” 

James nodded.  “Yes, thank you, Kenny.  I appreciate that.  I think the closest airport to Windsor is in Topeka.”  

“Marcus isn’t in Windsor, James,” Kenny told him.

James frowned and looked at him.  “Where is he?” 

Stormy Blackthorne

“Way to go,” Stormy said as he and Eddie left Colt Records.  “Some recon job that turned out to be.  We couldn’t even get through the front door.  You know, I’m beginning to wonder about your private investigative abilities.”

“Things seem to work differently in the south,” Eddie argued.  “I can’t help if it my techniques don’t work in all regions.”  

“You techniques don’t work period,” Stormy said as they got into the rental car and headed back to the hotel.    “So basically we have no way to get to Brad King.   I have a feeling this trip was a wasted effort.”

“It’s not a wasted effort,” Eddie told him.  “We have to do this for Miranda and Jane.  We’re not leaving here until we find who killed Hugh Rogers.”

Once they were back at the hotel, they stopped by the front desk to talk to the nice girl who’d arranged for their rental car.  

“Do you know any hot spots around here?” Eddie asked.  “We’re looking to go somewhere jumping tonight.” 

“There’s a grand opening of a new restaurant tomorrow night,” the desk agent said and handed them a flier for Heather’s.  “It’s supposed to be a really happening place.  Everyone who’s anyone will be there.” 

“Heather’s?” Eddie said and looked at him.  “What is it with this town?  First there was Chelsea the lookalike and now an entire restaurant named after your ex-wife.  Freeaakkyyyy.”

Stormy rolled his eyes and grabbed the flier from him.  “Do you think Brad King might show up here tonight?” he asked. 

“He has to,” Eddie told him, then pointed at the print at the bottom of the flier. 

“Brad King, owner,” Stormy read aloud, then looked up at Eddie.  “Looks like we’re going to a party tonight.”

“Looks like it,” Eddie confirmed.

Brooke Taylor

“I brought you some more magazines,” Brooke said to Marco De La Cruz as she sat beside his bed at the hospital.  “I know you said you like deep sea fishing.  My secretary’s husband is a big fisherman so she brought these in today.” 

“You’re very kind,” the man said, then erupted into a coughing spasm.

Looking on with concern, Brooke went to the table across the room and poured him a glass of water.  “Here, drink this,” she said and handed it to him.

“Thank you,” Mr. De La Cruz said after the attack had subsided.

“Have they found out what’s wrong yet?” Brooke asked.  “You said it was a respiratory infection.  Do they know why?”

He shook his head.  “They don’t think that’s it anymore.  You know doctors.  They like to scare you with all kinds of possibilities before they actually know what’s wrong.” 

Brooke smiled in hopes of easing his worries.  She noted the yellowish tint to his skin and hoped it wasn’t anything too serious.  He’d been a long-term guest of Moonshadows, and she hated the thought of him becoming sick. 

“Time for your medication, Mr. De La Cruz,” a nurse said when she entered the office.

Brooke collected her purse and moved away from the bed.  “I should get going anyway,” she said.  “Feel better, Mr. De La Cruz.”

He started coughing again.  “Thank you, Miss Taylor.”

After she left, she started down the hall when Kyle approached her.   “Has there been any change?” he asked her.

She stopped and shook her head while looking down at the man’s room.  “No.”

“It was nice of you to come see him again,” Kyle told her.  “You have a good heart, Brooke.”

Smiling, she began to feel a little better when he leaned in for a kiss.

“Can we have dinner tonight at my place?” Kyle asked.  “I promise to send you home early.” 

“I’d like that,” she said.

After arriving in Century City that evening, Elana Hendricks parked her Bentley and walked to the doors of the Young at Heart sound stages.  She explained to the security guard that she was there picking up an advanced copy of the next script, and he allowed her admittance without question.

Nervously, she took the elevator to the third floor where the majority of the sets were located.  It was dark and deserted, only the glow of the exit signs visible from her vantage point.   Quickly, she ran her hands along the wall until she found the power switches.  Relieved once the stages were lit, she gazed around for any sign of her attacker. 

“Hello?” she called out, terror welling up in her throat.

She considered turning and leaving.  Going there was probably a mistake, but she had to find out who was doing this to her.  She had to try to convince them to leave her alone, and to let her secrets stay buried.  Who hadn’t had a few car accidents?  She refused to be punished for her mistakes, especially after decades of trying to forget.

A noise at the end of the corridor caused her heart to beat furiously inside her chest.  She swallowed hard, slowly making her way along the sets in search of the person who’d lured her there. 

“Are you here?” she called out to nothing in particular.  “I came just as you asked.  If it's money you want I can get it for you.”

Silence permeated her surroundings for a few wretched moments until she turned and saw a camera on a tripod rolling across the corridor.  She screamed, reaching into her purse and removing a gun.   She’d come prepared. 

“Who’s doing this?” she demanded when no one appeared.  “Stop being a coward and show yourself you bastard!”  

She thought she saw movement inside one of the hospital sets.  Gripping the gun tightly in her trembling hand, she padded across the tiled floor and scanned the area.  Someone was hiding behind one of the set walls, she determined.  She closed her eyes and fired, the bullet cutting through the set wall while the impact sent her staggered back a few steps.

Suddenly, she felt a pair of arms clasp around her body from behind.  She shrieked, struggled in the person’s grasp and dropping the gun to the floor during the struggle.  She made a desperate attempt to see who had grabbed her but all she could see where their arms, covered in black sleeves and their hands sheathed in black leather gloves. 

Miraculously, she was able to get free.  She pushed the perpetrator away and ran for her life, forgetting about the gun and forgetting about trying to get a look at her attacker.  She simply wanted to get free.  It became clear that whoever was doing this to her wasn’t trying to strike a bargain.  They wanted her dead.

Weaving between the sets, she ducked behind a sofa and hid, her breathing labored and her eyes darting back and forth.   She whimpered softly, terrified by the prospect of the assailant finding her. 

Brett Armstrong

Filming had been going exceptionally well.  They were already ahead of schedule which meant when Stormy returned, Brett would have something to gloat about.  While the cast and crew took a break before they resumed later for several nighttime scenes, he retreated to his office.

“Armstrong,” Brett answered when his office phone rang.

“Brett, it’s John Berry,” said Jordan’s private retainer attorney.   “I got that information you were asking for.”

“Great,” Brett replied, turning to the window and staring outside at the back lot at Sunset Studios.  “What did you find out?”

“There’s a trust in R.J. Blackthorne’s name,” John explained.  “When he comes of legal age, he’ll inherit a percentage of Sunset Studios.”

Frowning, Brett tapped a pencil on the desk as he swiveled back and forth.  “Where does the percentage come from?  Who’s shares?” 

“A combination of James, Stormy and Brooke.  There’s a codicil to the corporate structure of the studio that any child born into the family automatically gets a percentage.  The other shareholders percentages are divested.”

“And Stormy is the executor of the shares in the meantime?”

“No, it doesn’t work like that,” John told him.  “The shares aren’t divested until R.J. turns eighteen.  Until then, the shares remain in their current standing.”

The news wasn’t what Brett wanted to hear.  “What about R.J.’s mother, Kelly Blackthorne?”

“She’s incidental.  The shares don’t affect her at all since they won’t exist until R.J.’s eighteenth birthday, and he’ll be a legal adult then anyway.”

“Damn,” Brett murmured under his breath.  He’d hoped that he could somehow use R.J. to get back into a stakeholder position at the studio.  With his new dalliance with Kelly, he’d begun to see the possibilities.  But with this new information, he realized it wasn’t going to work the way he’d hoped.   “Thanks for the call, John.  And please don’t say a word about this to Jordan or anyone else.  I’d like it to stay between us.”

Alex Reynolds

“Marcus Blackthorne is sick?” Alex asked at the mansion as she watched James pace his study.   “I don’t believe it. What happened?”

“Heart attack,” James told her.  “I’m going to fly out there and see him.”

“In Kansas?”

James shook his head.  “He’s not in Kansas.  He’s in Monte Carlo.”

“Monte Carlo?” Alex asked.  “Why?  And how does he have means to travel across the world?  Your father doesn’t have any money.”

“That’s what I thought,” James said while running a hand over his face.  “Apparently our home back in Windsor was sitting on a mineral field.  He got millions off of it.”

“And never told you?” Alex asked.

James laughed in spite of the grave circumstances.  “My father and I haven’t exactly been close,” he told her.  “Anyway, I’m leaving just as soon as the pilot gets back from Tennessee with the jet.”

“I want to go with you,” Alex said.  “I know I only met him a few times when we were married, but he was very special to me.  He’s the only one who believed me after…” 

James sighed and shook his head with regret.  “After Nathan raped you.  I know.  Alex, that was twenty-seven years ago."  He walked across the room and stared out the window.  “If it’s just the same to you, I’d rather go alone.  I have to see my father before he dies and I have to do it alone.”

“I have a right to see him,” Alex insisted.

“Alex, I said no!” James bellowed.

She jumped from his harsh reaction, thankful for the interruption when Brooke entered the room.

“Alex, Miranda was asking for you upstairs,” she announced.

After giving James one final look of resentment, Alex floated from the room, leaving him and Brooke alone together.  

“Are you okay?” she asked.  “It seemed like I just walked in on something.”

James shook his head.  “Alex was just trying to convince me to let her go to Monte Carlo with me.  I know it’s selfish, but I want to do this on my own.  I have my own issues with my father and having Alex there would just turn it into a circus.”  

“You really shouldn’t go alone,” Brooke told him with concern.  “You haven’t seen your father in years.  Not since before you and I met.  I’m afraid you’ll get there and regret not having someone to talk to about your feelings.”

“And you think Alex is that person?” he asked with a laugh.

She smiled, glad that he could find something to laugh about in light of the devastating events.  “I could go with you if you want.  I know I never met Marcus Blackthorne but I’d still like to be there for you.”

“That might not be a bad idea,” James said.  “I may need someone impartial.  Are you sure you can get away?  What about Michael?  Ethan said he’s been having a difficult time.”

“I’ll talk to Ethan and Michael,” Brooke said.  “It’s just for a couple of days.”

“And Moonshadows?  Don’t you have that big sci-fi convention starting in a few days?  Plus everything going on with the marina expansion…”

“We’ll be back in plenty of time,” she told him.

He smiled and pulled her into a friendly embrace.  “Thank you, Brooke.  It really means the world to me that you would do this for me.”

“I’m glad I can be of some help,” she said.  After all, James had always been there for her.  Through her own family struggles with Roz and David and everything else, he was the one man she could always count on.

Mackenzie Stone

“Thanks for agreeing to work tonight,” Mackenzie said as the security guard let her and Ethan in to the sound stages at The Young at Heart.  “When the network said they wanted me to give my presentation to them tomorrow I could have died.  I just want to go over the figures once more.” 

“No problem,” Ethan said as they rode up the elevator.  The truth was, he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to spend time with her.  He knew it couldn’t go where it had the other night, but working together was harmless, and it gave him a chance to test his willpower.

“This is strange,” Mackenzie announced when they stepped off onto the third floor.  “Someone turned all the lights on.” 

“Maybe someone’s here,” Ethan said and followed her down the corridor, past the hospital sets and the living room set of the Sinclaire estate. 

“The sets are strictly off limits while production is shut down” she reasoned.  “When I find the person who’s responsible, they’re going to-“

Ethan looked at her as she stopped mid-sentence.  “What’s wrong?”

Suddenly, a blood-curdling scream escaped Mackenzie’s throat.  She pointed to the floor where Elana’s body laid, her eyes wide open and red hand marks imprinted on her neck from where she’d been strangled to death.

“Oh my God,” Ethan whispered, placing an arm around her as she turned and buried her face in his chest. 

Keaton Hartley

Nathan had plans to meet Keaton Hartley, the director of The Benefactor, at a small restaurant near the studio for a drink before resuming shooting that night.  The next scene was to be filmed on the back lot of the studio, a dark and wet alley scene where one of the parents of the children who go on the expedition to the moon confront Norton.

Sipping his cocktail with his legs crossed and the evening paper strewn out before him, he glanced at his watch and wondered if he’d gotten his times mixed up.  He was sure Keaton had said seven o’clock. 

Just as he was about to get up to leave, Keaton came barreling inside, disheveled and with a stack of folders he was hauling in his arms.

“Sorry I’m late, Mr. Blackthorne,” Keaton said, pushing a pair of Buddy Holly glasses up on his nose.  “There was an accident on the 405.”

Nathan smiled at the young director and sat back down.  “That’s quite all right, young man.”  He watched as Keaton struggled, fumbling with the folders, his glasses inching down his nose.   He’d never seen him so flustered.   He knew he was only thirty-two, but sometimes his lack of experience showed through.  “Are you okay, Keaton?  You seem not yourself.”

“Just a little overwhelmed, Mr. Blackthorne,” he replied.  “I know there’s a lot riding on this film.  Please don’t tell Stormy or Brett that I told you that.  I’m fine, really.  I just want everything to go perfect.  This film means everything to me.”

“I understand.  I won’t say a word.”

“You just have no idea how honored I am to be working with you.  To be directing you.  It’s incredible.  You’re been an idol of mine since I was a little kid.”

Nathan smiled again.  “That’s kind of you to say, Keaton.  Would you like a drink while we discuss tonight’s scene?” 

“Yes,” he said, pushing his glasses up and turning to find a waitress.  “Miss, can you….”   As he attempted to flag her down, the folders slipped from his hands and spilled onto the floor.

Nathan got up to help him, bending down to the floor beside their table.  That was when he saw the photographs.  Several copies of headshots and publicity stills had scattered across the floor.  Some were of him, and others were of Jack and Lola.  There may have been one of Victor as well but he couldn’t confirm before Keaton snatched the pictures from him and shoved them back into the folder.

Keaton looked down at the pictures and swallowed hard, sweat forming in beads across his forehead.

 


Next time....

James and Brooke arrive in Monte Carlo. Mackenzie turns to Ethan for comfort.  Accusations are thrown in Elana's murder, and someone else receives a photograph of someone from the past.  Plus, the crossover event Girls of Summer, continues on Nightingales #15 when the party at Heather's beings!

 

 

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