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Episode 151

 

Release Date:  September 16, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

After Michael began talking about his imaginary friend, Adam again, Brooke and Ethan argued about their son's well-being. Brooke told Kyle she could not give him an answer to his proposal, and asked if they could take things slow.  James learned that his father was dying, so he made plans to fly to Monte Carlo to visit him.  Brooke, wanting to get away from the pressures of Ethan and Kyle, volunteered to go with him.  Miranda brought Tiger home from the hospital and worried about what would happen if she was found guilty of murdering Hugh.  Stormy and Eddie arrived in New Martin and made plans to confront Brad at the opening of his new restaurant, ironically named Heather's.  Jordan discovered that the attacks on Jack and Elana were related to those against Lola.  Vaughan cautioned Jordan against involving the police, as their investigation might reveal Lola's past with Lana.  Elana was lured to The Young at Heart studios.   Mackenzie screamed when she later walked in and found Elana dead.  Nathan suspected Keaton when he found him with headshots of the actors who had been threatened.

 


  

Episode 151

"Unfinished Business"

 

Kneeling on the floor beside their table at the restaurant, Nathan looked at the photographs that had spilled out of the young man’s arms.  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,” Nathan said slowly as he rose to his feet.  “Is there something you want to tell me?” 

The director shook his head in confusion. 

“What are you doing with those photographs?” Nathan asked and made a grab for the stack that Keaton held close to his chest.  “They’re publicity photos, aren’t they?  Where did you get them?” 

“From that Hollywood memorabilia place on Santa Monica,” Keaton told him, adjusting his glasses.

Nathan found it suspicious that the young director was in possession of publicity stills while a madman was running around leaving photographs after making attempts on several of their lives. 

“Why do you have them?” he asked.

“I told you, I’ve been a big fan of yours ever since I can remember.  Of anyone from the golden days of Lamont 3.  You, Jack Childers, Victor Distefano.  It’s because of all of you that I went to film school.”

“Are you being straight with me?” Nathan asked him.  He could see the sweat beading off of his forehead and collecting around the collar of his checkered oxford shirt. 

“Why else would I be carrying these pictures around?” Keaton asked.  “I know it’s geeky, but I can't help it.  I was late meeting you today because I was getting caught up in that memorabilia store.  I wanted them for my scrapbook.” 

“Your scrapbook?” Nathan asked, leveling another suspicious gaze at him. 

“Here,” Keaton said and handed him a leather-bound book with black pages covered in photos, newspaper clippings, and playbills.  “I told you.  Geeky.”

Nathan smiled while flipping through the pages.  “No, it’s not.  It’s actually quite well done.  You even have the production of Macbeth I did at the Hollywood Theatre. I didn’t think anyone saw that.” 

“I found a copy of the playbill at an old antique store,” Keaton told him.  He turned a few pages and pointed to another relic.  “Did you know Jonas Lamont starred in the same play in the 40’s?”

Nathan raised an eyebrow and looked at him in admiration.  “I didn’t,” he said.  “My, this is quite a thorough account of the Lamont 3 players, Keaton.  You’re quite a historian.  I doubt Denise in archives even knows half of what you do.” 

Keaton smiled bashfully.  “Like I said, I can get kind of geeky about that stuff.” 

Nathan gestured to the table.  “Why don’t we have that drink now?  Maybe I can tell you about some of the old days.  The things you can’t find in junk stores in Hollywood.” 

“I’d love that,” Keaton said.  “I really appreciate that, Mr. Blackthorne.” 

“Not at all, son,” Nathan said, flattered that there were still such devoted fans out there.

Ethan Blackthorne

All attempts at keeping his and Mackenzie’s relationship strictly professional were dashed when Ethan comforted her after their horrific discovery at the Young at Heart studios.  With an arm tenderly encircling her small frame, he couldn’t help but grow flushed by the close proximity of their bodies.  The fact that she had shown him a vulnerable side of herself made him desire her even more. 

“I don’t know anything about an advanced copy of the script,” Mackenzie was saying to Detective Rodriguez, pulling Ethan’s blazer over her shoulders to keep warm.  “We have the scripts messengered to the cast at their homes.  She wouldn’t have had to come here to pick it up.  It wouldn’t even be permitted.”

“Yet she told the security guard that that’s what she was doing,” Rodriguez said.  “Why would she lie?”

Mackenzie shook her head.  “I don’t know.” 

“What about this?” he asked and showed her a photograph of Cheri Montessori.  “We found it next to Miss Hendrick’s body.  Do you have any idea who this woman is?  Or why the killer would leave it after killing her?” 

Mackenzie looked at the photo and shook her head.  “No.  But someone gave her a picture of a young man just before the incident at the film premiere the other night.  It seemed to upset her a great deal.” 

Rodriguez handed the photograph back to his partner.  “Could she have been meeting someone here?” 

“I told you I don’t know,” Mackenzie snapped.  “Look, Detective, shouldn’t this be up to you to figure out?  One of the biggest stars in daytime television has just been strangled to death.  I have my own job to do.  You’ll forgive me if I don’t have time to do yours.” 

“I’ll take you home,” Ethan said, leading her away. 

“Ms. Stone,” the detective called after her.  “If you can think of anything else please give me a call.”

Without looking back, she allowed Ethan to lead her from the studio.  Once they were outside in the car, she handed his jacket back to him.  “Thanks for sticking around,” she said.  “I couldn’t have dealt with that myself.”

“What can I do?”

Overwhelmed, she sunk back into the seat.  “I have to call a staff meeting,” she began.  “We’re going to have to figure out what to do with the character and how to break it to the fans.  That is if the media hasn’t already gotten hold of the story.” 

“You’re in no condition to do any of that now,” Ethan told her.  “Let me take you home.  It’s getting late and you need to get some sleep.  It’s been a long night.” 

She nodded with a meek smile.  “Thank you,” she said. 

Gently touching her hand with his, he started the engine and sped off through the parking lot toward the Hollywood Hills.  When they arrived at her modern glass and steel home just off Mulholland, he led her inside and to the sofa in the sparsely decorated living room.

“Drink?” he asked, going to the bar.

“Thank you,” she said, nodding and wrapping her arms around herself. “It’s freezing.”

When he returned with a glass of brandy, he handed it to her and sat down beside her.  “Drink this.  It’ll warm up you.”  

Slowly sipping the amber liquid, she shook her head to dispel the horrific images of finding Elana’s cold body slumped to the floor.  “This all just seems like a bad dream,” she said.  “Make that a nightmare.” 

“Do you want me to call anyone for you before I go?” Ethan asked. 

She looked at him with doe-like eyes.  “You’re leaving?”

“I should,” he said, staring at her lips and wondering if she wanted him to kiss her as much as he did.  Michael’s at home and I guess Brooke took off with James to-“

His sentence was cut short when she leaned forward and brushed her lips against his.  “I want you to stay with me,” she said.  “I can’t handle being alone tonight, Ethan.”  A pause while she looked down at her hands.  “God, I hate how that sounds.  What happened to the independent woman I used to be?” 

“You had a shock tonight,” Ethan told her.  “It’s normal for you to feel the way you do.” 

She set her drink on the coffee table and pulled him close.  “Then make love to me,” she whispered.  “Please, Ethan.  Don’t make me beg.  I need you inside me tonight.” 

Without hesitation, he pressed his lips firmly against hers.  Their bodies snaking around one another, he lifted her into his arms and carried her up the stairs to the bedroom.

 Monte Carlo

There was a nine-hour time difference between L.A. and Monaco, which put James and Brooke at the Hotel de Paris shortly after seven in the morning.  They followed the bellman through the luxurious lobby and checked in with little difficulty. 

“You must be tired after the flight,” James said to her.  “Would you like to get a nap before we go see my father?”

She nodded her head and marveled at their spectacular surroundings.  “If you don’t mind,” she said, peering through to the terrace that overlooked the bustling streets of Monte Carlo.  “Although I hate to waste a minute of our time here.”

“It’s your first time here, isn’t it?” James asked with a twinkle in his eye.

She suddenly regretted her remark.  “I don’t mean to minimize what you must be going through,” she said.  “Obviously we’re here for your father.  I just can’t help but be amazed at how beautiful it is here.”

“We’re in the south of France.  You should enjoy it.”

Brooke smiled, still feeling foolish for acting like a typical tourist.  When commotion from across the lobby caught her attention, she moved away from the desk and tried to get a closer look.

“Must be a celebrity or something,” James guessed as he watched a crowd of hotel guests flocking around someone across the lobby.  “They do tend to pop up here on a regular basis.”

Brooke was about to turn to follow the bellman to the elevator when the crowd parted and she saw the object of their hysteria.   “You’ve got to be kidding me.” 

James turned in the direction of her gaze and cursed silently to himself.   The celebrity was none other than….

Alex, what the hell are you doing here?” he demanded as she approached in a flowing linen gown, a pile of Louis Vutton luggage trailing behind her on a cart that a muscled bellman pushed.   “I thought I made it clear that you weren’t wanted here.” 

“I stopped taking orders from you the day you threw me out of our house,” Alex said and removed her wide-brimmed hat.  Her eyes landed on Brooke and she glared with contempt.  “But I see that it’s fine that Brooke came along.  She didn’t even know Marcus Blackthorne.” 

James sighed and ran a hand over his face.  “Brooke is here as a friend,” he said.  “She volunteered her emotional support and I accepted.”

“But when I said I wanted to come, you flat out told me no,” Alex said with resentment.  “Do you mind explaining that to me?”

“For starters, Brooke didn’t blow up at me and make irrational demands,” he told her.  “And secondly, she’s much more impartial.”

“Impartial to what?”

“The feud between my father and I.  The whole time you and I were married, you never let a day go by without insinuating it was my fault.  Marcus Blackthorne hung the moon, according to you.”

“And he was very special to me,” Alex insisted.  “Why is why I have every right to be here.  A hell of a lot more than she does.”

“James, she should stay,” Brooke said, wishing to diffuse any further argument on the issue. 

He sighed and dropped his hands to his sides in resignation.  “Fine.  We’re going to our rooms to freshen up and then we’ll be back down.  You can ride to the hospital with us.

“Marcus isn’t at the hospital,” Alex said.  “I called ahead while I was in the air.  He’s at his estate fifty miles up the coast.  It were his wishes to die there as opposed to a sterile hospital room.” 

James looked at Brooke and then at the floor.  “Fine.  We’ll meet up here in an hour and go together.”

Stormy Blackthorne

The next morning in New Martin, Tennessee, Stormy and Eddie met for breakfast in the restaurant of Colt Suites.  Stormy noted the forlorn look on his friend’s face and immediately knew what was on his mind. 

“You talk to Miranda last night?” he asked. 

Eddie nodded.  “She and Tiger went home from the hospital yesterday.  I wish I was there with them.  The waiting around to find out if I’m the father is killing me.”  

“I know it is.  I’m sure by the time we get back to L.A. the DNA test results will be ready.  I’m sorry you’re going through this, buddy.  As if your dad turning up alive isn’t bad enough.” 

“Tell me about it,” Eddie said with a sigh.  “You know, I tried to come to terms with what he’d done after he died.”  He used his hands to form quotation marks in the air as he said it.  “Everything he did to Heather and Suzanne.  You were right about what you said at Benji’s funeral.  It was because of him that they had so many problems.  How can I look at him knowing he put so many people through so much pain?” 

“You won’t know until you see him.  You are going to see him, aren’t you?”

Eddie looked at him and shrugged.

“You have to.  Otherwise you’ll never be able to stop wondering.” 

“I just don’t want him to hurt anyone else.  What if he goes off his medication again and reverts to the psychopath he used to be?” 

Stormy didn’t have an answer for him.  The subject of Eddie’s father had always been one he tip-toed around.  “Are you ready for this party tonight?  The opening of Heather’s should be the perfect opportunity to expose Brad for what he did.”

“I only hope we can get him to confess,” Eddie agreed.  “If not, Miranda and Jane could be found guilty of murder.” 

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda hated leaving Tiger so soon after bringing her home, but she had something to do, and waiting was not an option. After ensuring Jane was fully capable of caring for her, she dressed in loose fitting flared jeans and a sweatshirt and drove down to the prison.  She was still sore, but her determination drove her forward. 

“Well, well, well,” Gemma Sanders said from the other side of the glass partition.  “Checking out the accommodations before you move in?  I’d skip dinner on Tuesdays if I were you.  The meatloaf is like a brick.” 

“I didn’t kill Hugh Rogers,” Miranda maintained, clutching the phone receiver in her hand.

“Then what are you doing here?”

“I came to tell you I quit,” Miranda told her.

Quit?” Gemma asked, leaning forward.  “Sweetheart, you can’t quit.” 

“I can and I am.  I should have never agreed to take over for your operation.  All it’s done is cause problems.  My best friend is facing murder charges.   My brother and my boyfriend are risking their lives to help me.  A man is dead because of what I’ve done.” 

“A man is dead because you went up against him, thinking you were the invincible daughter of James Blackthorne and Alex Reynolds.  Well maybe now you’ll realize you’re not.  Everyone’s expendable.  Even you.” 

She ignored her.  “I called the girls and gave them each the contact information for their clients.  They’re working for themselves now.  With Hugh Rogers gone, they won’t have to be scared.”

“What happened to your big plan to set them free?” Gemma sneered.  “You told me you were going to turn them from hookers to doctors with nothing but sheer will.”

Miranda looked down and knotted her fingers together.  “I have my daughter to think about now,” she said.  “The girls will be fine. They have dreams.  They won’t be call girls forever.” 

“For a smart girl, you’re very naïve.  This is Hollywood.  They’ll be eaten alive and they’ll go right back to sleeping with men for money.” 

“That’s the beauty of you being locked up in here,” Miranda said.  “You can’t poison their minds with your lies anymore.  They can be anything they want.”  She stood up and hooked her purse over her shoulder.  “It’s sad, really.  I just realized that you probably were just like them at one time.  Who was it that told you you couldn’t be whatever you wanted?” 

Gemma’s self satisfied grin faded and she looked at her with barren eyes. 

“Goodbye, Gemma,” Miranda said before hanging up the phone and walking down the corridor.

Jordan Rydell

“Hollywood is reeling today from news of the murder of veteran actress and daytime soap queen Elana Hendericks,” the reporter said from the lot in front of the Young at Heart studios.  “Hendricks had only recently completed shooting Extreme News, an action film produced by Double Strike Studios.  A freak accident at the industry premiere of Extreme News mere days ago already left the film with a tainted reputation.  No word yet from Deacon Edgewater, CEO of Double Strike, on whether the film’s worldwide release will be delayed due to Hendricks’ murder.  Police aren’t saying if a suspect has been identified, but sources close to the set indicate Hendericks’ husband and co-star on the soap, Max Howell, is being questioned.” 

Jordan turned off the television and picked up the phone in his study.   “Detective Rodriguez, please.” he said after dialing the police station.  “It’s Jordan Rydell calling.” 

When Lola entered the room, he turned in a futile effort to keep his conversation from her.  But when the operator informed him the detective was unavailable, he hastily hung up, deciding it was better to see him in person anyway. 

“A shame about dear Elana,” Lola said, smoking a cigarette in the doorway.  “I had nothing but respect for her.  Until she joined that silly soap opera, that is.” 

“You heard?” Jordan asked, running a hand through his hair. 

“It’s all over the news,” she replied. “Of course I heard.  Who is this madman?” 

Jordan deflected her question by snatching the cigarette from her mouth and stubbing it out in a crystal bowl on his desk.  “You shouldn’t be smoking,” he told her. 

She shrugged and walked into the room.  “Odds are I’ll be snuffed out by whomever’s doing this long before a few cigarettes can kill me.” 

“You don’t know that Elana’s death is related to those pictures of Lana and the attacks on you.  It could just be a coincidence.  Elana was a diva.  Half the people on that show probably wanted her dead, her husband included.” 

“I heard you talking to Alex the other day,” Lola confessed.  “I know that Elana and Jack both found photographs.  Someone is trying to kill us, Jordan, my dear.”

He had to assume that she was right.  The odds of it being a coincidence were too great.  “I don’t want you leaving the house until this thing is over.  They’ll probably find the killer soon, but until then, I want you here.  I’m also hiring additional security.”

“Whatever you have to do,” Lola said and lit another cigarette.  “But don’t you think it’s time you dealt with your life instead of using mine to distract you?”

“What do you mean?” he asked, flashing her a look.

Lola displayed a rare look of sympathy as she padded toward him.  “You think I’m all you have left,” she said.   “Jordan, I’m afraid you have to accept what’s happened to your family and find a way to deal with it before-“

“You’re wrong,” he interrupted curtly.  “Believe it or not, I care about what happens to you, regardless of what a poor excuse for a mother you’ve been to me.” 

With that, he stormed out of the room, leaving Lola alone with a thick cloud of smoke enveloping her. 

Mackenzie Stone

“Are you okay?” Ethan asked as he maneuvered his car onto the secured lot at the Young at Heart studios.  On all sides, crowds of reporters were gathered, each clamoring for a quote or a piece of new information in the murder of Elana Hendricks. 

“I feel better than I did last night,” Mackenzie said from the passenger’s seat.  “Thank you for staying with me, Ethan.” 

He smiled and placed a hand on hers.  It didn’t seem like the time to bring it up, but he couldn’t help himself.  He hadn’t been able to read her emotions at all.  While he had been a warm body to comfort her the night before, he wondered if that’s all it was to her. 

“So where does that leave us?” he asked. 

“What do you mean?”

He steered the car into her parking space and cut the engine off.  “After we slept together the first time, we both decided it was a mistake.  We didn’t want to hurt anyone.  But after last night-“

“Last night you made me feel safe,” she interrupted.  “And it was very nice.” 

He nodded.  “That’s what I thought,” he said softly. 

“Ethan, I'm starting to care about you very much.  I can no longer pretend that I don't.  I want to see you again, but we have to tread carefully.  The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone."

“You’re right,” he said, despite the fact that all he could think about was making love to her again.  “Look, I need to pick Michael up at school.  I’ll be back as soon as I can.” 

She nodded and put her hand on the door handle.  “I really do appreciate you staying with me last night.” 

“Sure,” he said and watched as she got out of the car and let the security officer lead her up to the entrance. 

 Marcus Blackthorne's House

Marcus Blackthorne’s home was a sprawling estate in the the outskirts of Monte Carlo, bordered on all sides by thick lush lawns and dense clusters of trees.  The marble entrance of the home was bordered by tall iron gates and the interior was warm and comfortable and decidedly European. 

Alex and Brooke sat quietly in the anteroom of the master suite.  They didn’t speak or acknowledge one another while they were alone.  When James emerged from the bedroom, they both looked up inquisitively. 

“How is he?” Alex asked, rising to her feet.

“Has there been any change?” Brooke wanted to know. 

James shook his head dismally.  “No, I’m afraid not.  He’s only in and out of consciousness.  The nurse thinks he could go at any time.” 

 “I’m sorry, James,” Brooke said and placed a hand on his arm. 

“You should go back to the hotel,” he said.  “Both of you.  It’s very late and we’ve been here for hours.  You must be tired.”  

“I’m not going anywhere,” Alex said, stepping forward.  “I’ll sleep here if I have to.”

Before James could protest, Brooke spoke up in agreement.  “I’m not leaving, either.  If and when he does wake up you’ll need someone here.  Honestly, James.  I don’t mind.” 

He smiled and retreated back into the bedroom.  Once they were alone again, Alex glared contemptuously at Brooke. 

“What are you even doing here?” she demanded.  “You didn’t know Marcus.  I was married to James for twenty-four years.  I met him on many occasions.  You were a blip on the radar for him.  Just do yourself a favor and go home, Brooke.” 

“James asked me to come,” she replied.  “Which is a lot more than I can say for you.  You weren’t invited here so why don’t you leave?”

“I don’t have to be invited,” Alex said primly and adjusted her bosom in her low-cut blouse.  “Now why don’t you admit what this is really about?  The only reason you came to Monte Carlo was because you saw another way to sink your claws into James.  As if your previous two disastrous marriages to him weren’t enough.” 

Brooke couldn’t believe her nerve.  She never let go of the past.  “I’m here as a friend,” she said.  “I have no romantic interest in James.  Maybe you should admit the real reason you came here.  Things didn’t work out with Jordan again so you decided to try your luck again with James.”

“Leave Jordan and I out of this,” Alex snapped.   “Or should I bring up your failed reunion with Ethan?  Honestly, Brooke, you can’t even get it right with the supposed love of your life.  The man came back from the dead for you and you tossed him aside to be with Kyle Fenwick.” 

The remark managed to get the best of Brooke, so she turned and walked across the room.  “I’m not interested in your opinions on my life,” she said.  “So why don’t you keep them to yourself and stay on your side of the room.  I’ll stay on mine.” 

Smiling with satisfaction after realizing she’d gotten to her, Alex opened a copy of the latest French Vogue and began leafing through the pages.   Across the room, Brooke stewed over the remark about Ethan.  Was she really as horrible as Alex made her sound? 

Stormy Blackthorne

That night in New Martin, Stormy and Eddie arrived at Heather’s and quickly slipped into the crowd in hopes of remaining inconspicuous.  The last thing they needed was Brad spotting them and getting suspicious enough to flee. 

“Nice place,” Eddie said while looking around and sipping an Old Fashioned.  “Brad King certainly has his hands in a lot of different projects.  Recording studios, restaurants, crime bosses…” 

“Yeah, and he could very well have killed the crime boss,” Stormy said, glancing around for anything that looked out of place.  “Him or Farrah Bale.  But either way, he knows something.  I know he does.” 

Suddenly, Eddie pulled at Stormy’s sleeve and led him to the back of a crowd of restaurant patrons.   “There he is,” he indicated, pointing across the room.  “And look who he’s with.  Farrah and Tyler Rogers.  What are they doing here?” 

“I don’t know, but now’s our chance to find out,” Stormy said as he noticed Brad and Farrah walking away together.  Once the coast was clear, he started over to Tyler with Eddie fast on his heels. 

“Rogers,” Stormy said when he drew near.  “What are you doing here?” 

Tyler looked at them smugly.  “I could ask you the same thing.  You dickheads following me?”

“No,” Eddie said with a frown.  “We’re following Brad King.” 

“Shhh,” Stormy said and slapped his chest.  “Good going.” 

“What do you want with King?” Tyler wanted to know.  “Still convinced that girlfriend of yours didn’t do my father in?” 

“She didn’t,” Eddie told him.  “We think Brad King had something to do with your father’s murder.  Stormy overheard him talking to Trevor, some associate of Hugh’s.  Brad was hired by your father to go to L.A. and kill Miranda.” 

“It’s no coincidence that my sister lived but Brad King didn’t,” Stormy went on. 

“Yeah, your sister killed him.”

“She did not,” Stormy insisted.  “She disposed of the body to protect Farrah.  Only I’m not so sure that Farrah did it.”  

Tyler concentrated hard while scouting the room for any sign of his hooker companion.  “She claims she can’t remember that night,” he explained.  “She says she argued with him and got knocked out.  When she woke up he was dead and she took off.” 

“Which explains how Brad could be the culprit,” Eddie insisted.  “We’re going to try to get him to confess.”

 “How?” Tyler wanted to know. 

“Play our hand,” Stormy explained.  “Make him think we know more than we do and he’ll have no choice but to confess.”  

Tyler looked at them warily.   “You better not screw this up,” he said. 

“Just keep an eye on Brad and Farrah,” Stormy said.  “We don’t want either one of them getting away until we confront them.” 

New Martin

Farrah twisted in Brad’s grasp as he led her to the back of the restaurant and inside the confines of his private office.    Once they were alone, he closed the door and turned to face her. 

“I don’t appreciate being man-handled,” Farrah said, rubbing her wrists.  “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing, anyway?” 

“What are you doing in New Martin?” he demanded.  “And at my restaurant?”

“I’m seeing some old friends,” she replied dismissively.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get back to the party.” 

“Old friends?  Tyler Rogers is an old friend?  What’s really going on, Farrah?” 

“Nothing,” she said, unnerved when he went to block the door.  “He’s helping me figure some stuff out, that’s all.”

“What stuff?”   He reached into his pocket and felt around for the pills he’d stashed there earlier.  Getting her to take them was going to be difficult, especially now that she was on to him.  He could tell by the look in her eyes that she was suspicious of him.  She knew he’d killed Hugh.  That’s why she was there. 

“About that night,” she explained.  “Miranda Blackthorne and my cousin Jane are going to trial for killing Hugh Rogers but I know they didn’t do it.  They were just trying to protect me.  That’s why they got rid of the body.” 

Brad looked at her with sinister eyes and moved toward her.  “They were trying to protect you because you killed him, Farrah,” he said.  “You were at the house that night.  You confronted him.  You grabbed the gun from him and you struggled, remember?” 

She shook her head, fuzzy images from that night flashing through her mind in broken pieces.  “No,” she said.  “The gun went off and I fell.  I hit my head and was knocked unconscious.  When I woke up he was dead.  I-“ 

“You killed him, Farrah,” Brad said.  “It’s time you admitted it.” 

Struggling to recall the moments before she lost consciousness, she closed her eyes tightly.  She remembered struggling with the gun, she remembered it going off, then stumbling backwards and hitting her head.   But the last thing she remembered before her eyes closed was the image of someone else approach.  She squinted hard, trying to make out his face….

“It was you,” she said with a gasp.  “You were there after I blacked out.  You killed him.  When I woke up he was dead.”

Brad laughed.  “You’re imagining things,” he said.  “Your memory is clouded because you hit your head.” 

“No,” she said, shaking her head.

Brad grew into a daze, recalling the events of that evening.  He hadn’t counted on her having seen him there….

Farrah 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?” Hugh 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.  

Hugh recovered from the struggle, relieved that the bullet had missed him.  He took a step forward and saw that Farrah was out cold.  He had half a mind to end her right then and there. 

“What have you done?” a voice said from behind.

When Hugh turned, he saw Brad standing there.  “She’ll be fine,” he said.  “I’m surprised that you had the guts to come here after flaking on our deal.  I want my money back.” 

“Forget it,” Brad told him.  “Consider it payment for all the times I had your back in Atlantic City.”

“You were doing a job,” Hugh said with a sinister look in his eyes.  “Just like the job I hired you to do tonight.  Kill Miranda Blackthorne - that was all you had to do.  I should have known I couldn’t trust you.  You’ve turned into a pussy, Brad.” 

“Go to hell,” Brad told him.  “I’m not a killer.  Not anymore.” 

“You’re a fool.  People don’t change overnight.  Just because you couldn’t pull the trigger doesn’t mean you’re not a killer.”  

“Killing a pregnant woman isn’t worth it.” 

“That’s why I came to do it myself,” Hugh informed him, picking up the gun from the floor.  “As soon as Miss Blackthorne walks through those doors, she’ll regret ever crossing paths with me.” 

“I won’t let you do that.”

“You know better than to argue with a gun,” Hugh said. 

Quickly, Brad raced toward him and knocked the gun out of his hand.  They watched as it slid across the floor, then both scurried to retrieve it.  Hugh grabbed for it first, firing a shot at Brad but missing him by inches.  Using his elbow to deliver a crushing blow into his face, Brad immobilized him momentarily, quickly grabbing the gun from him and firing it directly into his head.

Panicked, he scurried to his feet.  He’d killed him.  Voices at the door sent alarm running through his body and he quickly darted from the room, intent on disposing of the gun.   Behind him, Farrah slowly began to wake….

“You killed him and you let me think I might have done it,” Farrah said, ignoring the far-away look in his eyes.  “You let innocent people take the rap for something you did!” 

“You need to be quiet so I can think,” Brad said, looking around the office.

“No, I’m going to go find Tyler and tell him that you killed his father,” Farrah insisted, racing to the door and grabbing for the handle. 

Quickly and without hesitation, Brad picked up a heavy metal stapler from the desk and slammed it down over her head.   Not knowing what hit her, Farrah dropped to the floor of the office.   Panicked, Brad looked around and tried to think of what he was going to do next.  There was a crowd of people just outside celebrating the opening of his restaurant.   They were going to start wondering where he was. 

With Farrah unconscious, he slipped out of the office and locked the door securely behind him.   A plan began formulating in his mind as he headed off through the crowd.

Blackthorne Mansion

At the Blackthorne mansion, Michael ran down the upstairs hallway in his Buzz Lightyear pajamas, swishing a toy spaceship in the air as he darted into Tiger’s nursery where Miranda sat trying to get the tiny infant to sleep. 

“He goes up to the moon and back again and round and round and round!” Michael yelled, jumping onto the window seat and pointing up at the sky.  “Ahhhh! Spaceman!” 

“Hey,” Miranda said in a whisper.  “Keep it down.  I just got your cousin to sleep.” 

Michael jumped off the ledge and walked over to her.  “Daddy said Tiger’s my second cousin.  What does that mean?” 

Miranda had to concentrate hard in order to sort out their complicated family tree.  “Well, it means that your daddy is my cousin, so Tiger is your second cousin.  I think.” 

“Just like R.J. is my second cousin too, probably, huh?”

Miranda smiled and got up to put her daughter in the crib.  “That’s right.  You’re a pretty smart guy, you know that?” 

He grinned while flying the spaceship through the air again.  “Uh-huh.  Not as smart as Adam is though.” 

After she’d gotten Tiger settled, Miranda turned and knelt down next to him.  “Adam?  Your imaginary friend, Adam?”

Michael shook his head.  “He’s not imaginary.  He’s real.  He’s a spaceman.” 

“A spaceman?” Miranda said, nodding her head up and down.  “I see.  Well, that’s a pretty important job.” 

“Yep,” Michael said and ran to the door.  “I’m gonna go see if I can see his spaceship with the telescope grandpa gave me.” 

Ethan entered just as Michael tore off.  “You’ve got fifteen minutes and then it’s bed time,” he called after him. 

“No way!” Michael yelled as he rounded the corner at the end of the hall. 

Laughing, Ethan entered the room as Miranda rose to her feet.  “See what you have to look forward to?” he asked with a shake of his head.

“I think girls are a little different,” Miranda said and turned back to look at Tiger once more.   “Have you heard from Daddy since they left?” 

Ethan sighed and shook his head.  “Yeah, he called earlier today.  They’re just waiting now.  Apparently Marcus doesn’t have that much time.” 

“I wish I would have known him,” Miranda said.  “I mean, I guess he was around for a while when I was very young, but I don’t remember him.  I’m surprised you didn’t want to go with them.  He practically raised you before you moved out here from Kansas.” 

“We said our goodbyes a long time ago,” Ethan told her.  “Marcus Blackthorne wasn’t the easiest man to get along with.  He harbored a lot of bitterness.” 

“About what?”

“My mother,” Ethan explained.  “The way she died right after I was born.  I think he blamed me in way.” 

Miranda folded her arms.  “Ethan, that’s ridiculous.  You were an innocent baby.  How could he blame you for Georgie’s death?” 

“Like I said, he wasn’t an easy man to get along with.” 

She placed a comforting hand on his arm.  “Do you want to talk about it?  We could go down to the kitchen and raid the ice cream stash.  We haven’t done that since we were little.” 

He laughed.  “Actually, there is something I wanted to talk to you about, but it’s not about Marcus or my mother.  It’s about you.” 

“Me?” she asked.  “What about me?” 

He dug his hands into his pockets and looked around awkwardly.  “I just want to know how long you’re going to go on acting like nothing’s happened.” 

Confused, Miranda studied his expression.  “Ethan, what are you talking about?”

He decided the only way to say it was just to come out with it.  “I was going over some expenses for the show the other day,” he explained.  “We’re trying to keep a strict budget.  Apparently the old show-runners allotted funds for…entertainment.” 

Miranda slowly began to realize what he was talking about.  “Okay.”  Words failed her.

“I found a line item with a phone number attached to it,” Ethan went on.  “When I called it, I got an answering service.  She said if I wanted to make an appointment I had to talk to you personally.” 

“Ethan, look, I can explain-“

“You’re running a call girl operation?” he asked incredulously.  “Miranda, what are you thinking?” 

Was,” she corrected him.  “I was running a call girl operation.  I’m not anymore.  After this whole mess with me and Jane and Hugh Rogers, I quit.”

He placed a hand on his forehead as he paced the room.  “What would have possessed you to get involved with something like this to begin with?”  A pause while he considered something he hadn’t before.  “Did you….you know….?”

“No,” she said emphatically.  “I did not sleep with any of those men.   All I did was oversee the operation.” 

“Does Eddie know?”

“He does now.  He was furious when he found out.  I’m still not sure she’s forgive me, or that he can trust me again.  I’m surprised he bothered going with Stormy to try and clear my name.” 

“You had to have known how he would react,” Ethan reasoned. 

She shook her head solemnly.  “I didn’t think I would be hurting anyone.  I thought I could help those girls make something better of their lives.  But then everything went haywire.  I started getting these threats and then Hugh Rogers turned up dead.”

“So you ditched him in a freezer,” Ethan surmised with a shake of his head.  “If any of this comes out at your trial, the jury will find you guilty without a doubt.  I just hope it doesn’t go that far.  Maybe Stormy and Eddie will have some luck in New Martin.” 

Miranda bit the tip of her finger while looking at him warily.  “Ethan, you’re not going to say anything to my father, are you?” she asked.  “Please tell me you won’t.  I can’t bear the thought of him looking at me with that disappointed look on his face.  You know how he gets.” 

He took a deep breath and shook his head.  “I’m not going to say anything to him, but I hope you start to think about your actions from now on, Miranda.  You’re a mother now.  Being a parent means the time for screw-ups is over.  I’m still learning that with Michael.” 

“My daughter is all I care about now,” Miranda said, walking back to the crib where Tiger was fast asleep.  “I never thought I would care this much about another human being.”  

“So no more hookers?”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Miranda said, then cracked a smile. 

Nathan Blackthorne

After a full day of filming The Benefactor, Nathan dropped by Vaughan’s house where he found him, Victor and Jack talking over drinks in the library.  He poured one for himself and joined them in the sitting area. 

“Jordan is investigating these incidents?” Nathan asked after Victor filled him in on the conversation he’d overheard the day before.  “That couldn’t bode well for the secrets we’re trying to keep under wraps.” 

“What secrets do you have?” Jack asked and looked between him and Victor.  “I mean, everyone knows about your penchant for underage girls, and Victor’s multiple personalities.  Unless there are other things you haven’t told us about.” 

Nathan and Victor exchanged knowing glances as Vaughan entered.  “I don’t think Jordan will be a problem,” he announced.  “I reminded him that bringing these events to the police could expose Lola’s past with her sister.” 

“I think Nathan and Victor are more concerned with their own pasts coming back to haunt them,” said a voice from across the room.

They all turned to see Lola enter the room dressed in a flowing pantsuit and a strand of pearls encircling her neck.  

“My past is an open book,” Nathan admonished.  “How lovely to see you, Lola.  Recovered from your spill the other day, I see.” 

“I have indeed,” she said, glaring menacingly at the four men.  “Sorry to put the kibosh on your plot.” 

Our plot?” Victor asked.  “Surely you can’t think we had anything to do with the attacks against you.  We’re old friends, after all.” 

“Horse crap,” she said.  “I’m no dummy.” 

“Why that would mean one of us would have strangled the life out of dear Elana.  And attempted to run our dear friend Jack down in that parking garage,” Nathan said.  “That’s preposterous.” 

Vaughan stood by watching them bicker, tight-lipped as he remained impartial to the accusations.

Lola pulled a long cigarette from a leather case and lit it with a crystal lighter on the desk.  With the cigarette clamped between her teeth, she used her hands to form quotation marks in the air.  “Aaaand scene,” she said.  “Bravo.  You’re nothing if not convincing.”

“I’m telling the truth,” Nathan said.  “What possible reason could we have for wanting the two of you dead?  Not to mention dear sweet Elana.” 

“The police haven’t made it public, but I happen to know another photograph was found at the scene of Elana’s death,” Lola said, glancing between Nathan and Victor.  “I’d wager one of the two of you might know something about that.” 

“That’s ridiculous,” Victor said and crossed the room. 

“These attacks did just begin shortly before you went public with your return,” Jack said, looking at Victor from across the room.  He then looked at Nathan.  “And not long after your release from prison.” 

Victor laughed.  “I’ve been relegated to the basement quarters for the past two years,” he said.  “And any misdeeds I may have done in the past such as influencing others to do my bidding were a result of not taking my medication.” 

“Then why are you the only two who haven’t been targeted?” Jack asked.  “I mean, it’s obvious this lunatic is targeting the top stars of Lamont 3 and Sunset Studios.  You would both fall well into that category.” 

“That’s enough,” Vaughan said, finally speaking up   “Throwing accusations at one another isn’t going to help anything.  I think it’s time we looked outside of our circle and into the annals of the studio.  There’s only one person who knows more than we do about what has gone on on that studio lot.” 

“Denise Syswicki,” Nathan indicated with a knowing nod of his head.  “Our fair lady who works in the archives.” 

“Precisely,” Vaughan agreed.

“Well, I’ll have to do some checking while I’m on the lot tomorrow,” Nathan said.  “By the way, did you hear that I’ve been asked to speak at Questicon this weekend?”

“Questicon?” Lola asked with a sneer.

“The science fiction convention at Moonshadows.  Stop by and see me, won’t you?  I’m sure the fans will love the nostalgia of seeing you there, Lola.  You know how the public loves a good film relic.” 

She scoffed and noticed Vaughan crossing the room. 

“Who’s the hired gun?” he asked as he peered through the window. 

“Jordan has insisted I have a bodyguard with me at all times,” Lola indicated, blowing a stream of smoke into the air.  “So if any of you have any ideas…”

“I’m leaving,” Jack said and set his drink down.  “Are we all in agreement that no matter what happens, our secrets stay buried with Jonas?”

They all looked at one another, silence permeating the room. 

“I’ll walk you out,” Vaughan said and guided Jack to the door. 

Lola took one final look at Nathan and Victor before moving across the room.  “Not without me,” she said. 

After they’d gone, Nathan looked at Victor and shrugged, pouring another glass for each of them. 

Alex Reynolds

“I’m so happy that you came,” Marcus Blackthorne said in a raspy voice.  “You’re still as beautiful as you were the day I met you.” 

Seated on the edge of the man’s bed, Alex held his hand in hers while fighting the urge to cry.  “And you’re just as handsome,” she replied.  “Can I get you anything?  Water?” 

“Gin,” he said with a smile.   He was a weathered man in his eighties with gray hair and a frail body.  “You know what I like, Mary Ann.” 

“Somehow I don’t think the doctor would approve of that,” she said, fluffing his pillow.  “You know, James is outside the room.  He does want to see you, Marcus.”

“All in good time,” he said, coughing.  “I’m enjoying our time together.  It’s been a long time.  Do you remember the first time I came to Hollywood to see James?  He was so in love with you.  He always did want what my brother Nathan had.  It’s no wonder he followed in his footsteps.”

Alex smiled.  “I looked up to you,” she said.  “When James and I married and we hit rocky times, you were the only one I could count on.”  She got up and walked across the bedroom, her arms wrapped around herself.  “Everyone else turned their backs on me.  Everyone but you.” 

“I think we connected right from the get go,” Marcus told her weakly.  “And then later….when you told me what happened that horrible night….” 

She nodded, tears forming in her eyes.  “The night Nathan raped me.”  

Marcus shook his head.  “No, not that night.  You know what I’m talking about, Alex.” 

A look of terror crossed her face as she muffled the cries from her throat.  “I never told anyone else about that.  You were the only one I trusted.  And then you went away. Why?” 

“Things got too complicated when Maddie died,” Marcus told her.  “After his mother died, James and I stopped communicating.  Nathan was on the lamb.  I had no reason to return to California.” 

“What about me?” Alex asked tearfully.  “We were friends. I looked up to you.” 

“I’m sorry, my dear.  I have so many regrets.  Regrets about Georgie, Ethan, James, and of course you.  I always told James how lucky he was to have you in his life.” 

“Do you really think so?”

“I do,” Marcus said, grabbing her hand as she returned to the bed.   "Now come sit down and tell me about my grandchildren.  How are Ryan and Miranda?"

Brooke Taylor

Outside the room, Brooke sat beside James on the sofa while he told her stories about his father.  She smiled, poured them each another glass of wine, and settled back against the cushions. 

“You loved him very much,” she said, her eyes beaming.  “I can tell just by the way you talk to him.” 

“I did,” James said with a smile.  “Hell, I still do.  Just because the old man and I stopped talking doesn’t mean I stopped loving him or caring what happened to him.  There’s just so much resentment and bitterness.” 

“Was it always that way?”

He shook his head.  “No.  No, it wasn’t.  Growing up we had a wonderful relationship.  It wasn’t until my mother died that things turned sour.  I don’t know.  It hardened him.  He brought up everything from the past, almost as if he couldn’t let it go.” 

“What kind of things?” 

“Georgie, Ethan, my failing marriage to Alex.  They grew quiet close.  I think he looked at her like the daughter he lost in Georgie.” 

Brooke tilted her head and looked at him in sympathy as he got up and crossed the room. 

“When he dies I’ll be an orphan,” he said, then laughed.  “Isn’t that something?  Fifty years old and I still consider myself an orphan.  There’ll be nobody to be proud of me.  After everything I’ve worked for since I left Kansas. “

“He had to have been proud of you,” Brooke said.  “Look at the man you’ve become.” 

Leaning against the dresser, James turned to her and shook his head in resignation.  “Thank you for being here.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you.” 

“I’m happy to be here,” she said and walked toward him, pulling him into an embrace.  “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.” 

Ethan Blackthorne

“I promise I don't just call you when I need someone to make me feel better,” Mackenzie said as she and Ethan strolled along the beach that night. 

He smiled, letting the waves snake around his feet as they sunk into the sand. " I know.  And I know you’ve had a rough couple of days.  Do the police have any leads on Elana’s death?” 

She shook her head.  “No, but the good news is our ratings skyrocketed today.  Plus they’ve ruled out Elana’s husband Max as a suspect because he had an alibi, so at least I won’t be losing two cast members in the same week.  Makes my job a little easier.” 

“I’m glad you called,” Ethan told her.

Letting the salty ocean breeze wash over her, she looked up at him thoughtfully.  “Is this just a rebound thing for you?  All I heard about while you were gone was how the two of you belonged together.  I’m not interested in stepping in for a woman that you’ll probably wind up with again someday.” 

“Brooke is with Kyle.”

“All the more reason to believe you’ll end up together again.  My brother isn’t the most trustworthy person in the world and sooner or later Brooke is going to realize that and come running back to you.” 

“And what makes you think I’m going to wait around for that to happen when there’s a beautiful woman standing right in front of me?” 

She smiled in spite of the circumstances.  “So what do you suggest we do?  I can’t will myself not to have feelings for you, Ethan.  You have a tendency to draw women in.  I heard about Sophie.  She must have loved you a great deal if she was willing to keep the truth from you about who you were. the whole time you were gone.” 

Ethan hadn’t thought about Sophie in some time.   Her death still plagued his nightmares, but when he awoke, it was as if it had never happened.  He could still see her face that day, the guilt he felt when she died at his hands. 

"You're not a rebound," he assured her.  "Can't we just enjoy being together and not worry about anyone else?"

“Are you saying you don't care about hurting them?" Mackenzie asked him.  "You've gone through this with James before, you know."

Ethan cut her off with a passionate kiss.  He lost a year and a half of his life and when he returned everything and everyone was different.  He deserved something for himself.  He deserved to be happy, and maybe Macknezie was the person to do it for him.  

Stormy Blackthorne

After a quick spin around the dance floor with Duke, Akilah spotted Chelsea flagging her down so she excused herself and went to intercept her. 

“Having fun?” she asked. 

“I was,” Chelsea told her.  “But look who’s here.” 

Akilah glanced in the direction she pointed to and gasped with surprise.  “What are they doing here?” she asked, quickly racing across the room where Stormy, Eddie and Tyler were standing.   “What’s going on?  Are you here to see me?  Is this about my record?” 

Stormy shook his head slowly while glancing between Eddie and Tyler.  “No, Akilah, it’s not.  We’re here to find Brad King.”

“Brad?” Chelsea asked when she approached.  “You came all the way to Tennessee to see Brad?  Why?”

“Because they think he killed Hugh Rogers,” Tyler chimed in.  “Personally, I still think it was either that bitch Miranda Blackthorne or that ho Farrah Bale.”

“You think Brad killed Hugh?” Akilah asked.  “Why?” 

“I heard him on the phone with one of Hugh’s henchman.  Brad only went to L.A. to kill my sister.  We think he killed Hugh instead.  The only question is why.  Farrah says…”

“Farrah?” Akilah demanded.  “Don’t listen to anything that lying, scheming cunt has to say.  This is probably another one of her schemes anyway.   Look, we thought it was Brad too, but then Miranda was arrested.  She admitted to disposing of the body.” 

“Because she thought she was protecting Farrah,” Eddie explained.  “But Farrah didn’t do it.  Brad did.  We’re sure of it.” 

“This can’t be happening,” Chelsea said, looking around the club for Brad.  “I’m not going to let you pin something on him that he didn’t do.  I have to find him.” 

With that, she darted off through the club, leaving the others standing behind in a huddle. 

New Martin

Brad knew that a mixture of painkillers and alcohol could be a lethal cocktail when combined appropriately, so rather than risk Farrah blowing the lid off his crime, he decided to play chemist. 

Standing at the bar of Heather’s, he dissolved the pills he’d taken from Carly and waited for the evidence to disappear.   Once Farrah drank it, she was as good as gone, and the fact that he killed Hugh Rogers would remain a secret. 

“Brad!” Chelsea called as she approached, a panicked look on her face.  “Thank God.  You’re not going to believe what’s going on.  Everything thinks you killed Hugh Rogers.  That Blackthorne guy and hishot dorky friend are here from L.A. with Tyler Rogers and they plan on pinning this whole thing on you!” 

“Where are they?” Brad asked, glancing around the crowded restaurant.

“It doesn’t matter,” Chelsea said.  “Brad, just come with me.  Let’s just get out of here and go somewhere together.  I’ll help you.” 

Running was not what he had in mind.   He had to make sure no one suspected him.  For now, he had to get rid of Chelsea and take care of Farrah permanently. 

“Look, I can’t talk about this right now,” Brad said.  “We’ll talk later, okay?” 

“Brad, you don’t understand-“ 

“Chelsea, later,” he said sternly. 

Frustrated, she turned and walked away.  Once she was gone, Brad turned back to the bar to get the drink and force it down Farrah’s throat.  But there was only one problem.

The drink was gone. 

Nathan Blackthorne

After Jack and Lola left, Nathan received a phone call from James updating him on his brother’s condition.  He had no interest in seeing Marcus.  He’d been one of the biggest reasons he’d fled Kansas at such a young age.  Stifling and controlling, he had that fatal combination of ignorance and arrogance.  He’d allowed his precious niece Georgie to be seduced by Will Thomerson, ultimately leading to her tragic death weeks after giving birth to Ethan.  He appreciated that James had gone to be with Marcus in the end, but he wanted no part in it. 

“That’s wonderful news about Questicon, Nathan,” Vaughan said as he and Victor escorted him out to his car. “How the fans will eat up your speaking about the return to the very role that made you a household name.” 

“I agree,” Nathan said, approaching his Bentley parked in the driveway.  “I think it’s fantastic that young people are so interested still.  As a matter of fact, I had a peculiar run-in with Keaton, our director last night.”

“Oh?” Vaughan inquired.

“It seems he has a keen interest in the vets of Lamont 3.  For a minute I thought he was the person doing these despicable things.  But as it turns out, he’s nothing but an overzealous fan.” 

“I’ll take credit for that,” Vaughan said with a good-natured grin.   “That means I put you in the right films to get noticed.” 

They all erupted into robust laughter as they exchanged goodnights and Nathan went to open his door.  Shots ringing out in the night suddenly stopped him dead in his tracks.  Ducking to the ground, he hid behind the car.  Victor and Vaughan followed suit, dodging out of the way as gunshots pelted the doors.  Moments later, they heard tires squealing out on the main road and a car disappearing over the hill.  

“Good lord!" Victor bellowed, rising once the coast was clear.  "Are you boys all right?"

"I'm fine," Nathan said.  "Luckily whoever it was wasn't a good shot."

"What on earth?" Vaughan chimed in as he inspected the car.  He gasped when he saw a photograph tucked beneath the windshield wiper of Nathan's car.  "Gentlemen?"

Nathan approached.  “Looks like we’re targets after all," he said while taking the photograph - another headshow of a young actress -  and showing it to Victor.   “This maniac knows all of our secrets.”  

Vaughan ran a hand over his face as he turned in frustration.  “Bianca Burnette,” he said aloud.  “I should have known this would come up.” 

“But Victor and I were both responsible for what happened to her,” Nathan said.  “This gun incident wasn’t a direct attack.”

“He could have been aiming at either one of you,” Vaughan said. 

“He’s watching us,” Victor said, wide-eyed as he looked around the dark grounds of the estate.  “We were all here earlier tonight.  The three of us and Lola and Jack.   I don’t think he’s going to rest until we all suffer the same fate as Elana.” 

Vaughan and Nathan looked at one another warily, realizing that he was right.

Jordan Rydell

Detective Rodriguez was working late.  Since the Hendricks murder, he’d been with investigators at the studio trying to piece together what happened.  Security footage provided no help, so he was back at square one.  He tried to catch up on paperwork in his office but was interrupted when Jordan appeared in the doorway. 

“It’s late, Mr. Rydell,” he said without looking up from his desk.  “Come back tomorrow when I’m not a walking zombie.”  

“I was hoping I wouldn’t find you here,” Jordan said.

“Oh?”

“Yes, because if you’re here that means you aren’t trying to find out who’s trying to kill my mother.” 

Rodriguez groaned and slid his chair out from his desk.  “The unique attacks against your mother aren’t my biggest priority right now, Mr. Rydell.  In case you’ve been living on an island for the past twenty-four hours, a soap queen has been murdered.  Soap fans don’t like it when the people they see on television everyday suddenly stop breathing.” 

“And the fact that she was killed by the same person who’s been stalking Lola isn’t of concern to you?” 

The detective looked at him.  “What makes you think it’s the same person?” 

“I know about the picture,” Jordan told him.  “They left one when that scaffolding fell at the premiere of Elana's film, and I have a pretty good guess you found one at the murder scene.” 

Rodriguez rose to his feet and adjusted his trousers.  “Who was the woman in the picture?”

“I haven’t seen it.”

He plucked a copy of Cheri Montessori’s photograph from his desk and handed it to him. 

Jordan shook his head.  “I don’t know,” he said, concentrating on the woman’s face.  “A bit player judging from the amateur photography.  Natalie Davidson, on the other hand, was big.  Everyone knew her.”

“Natalie Davidson?”

“The woman in the photograph left at the scene when Jack Childers was nearly run down in parking garage the other night,” Jordan explained.

Rodriguez frowned.  “What is going on here, Mr. Rydell?   I’ve got one dead actress and murder attempts made on your mother and Jack Childers.  Each time he leaves a photograph of someone.  Why?” 

“I don’t know, but I’ll help you find out.” 

“Are you sure you want to do that?” Rodriguez asked, holding up the photograph.  “These people obviously have secrets that they’re being killed for.  Aren’t you afraid I’ll find out what your mother’s secret is?” 

Jordan didn’t care.  He’d deal with that when the time came.  For now, he had to make sure Lola wasn’t the next person who wound up dead.  He’d lost enough already because of his refusal to help those close to him.  He wouldn’t make that mistake again.

James Blackthorne

Marcus’s condition was deteriorating rapidly.  James knew he had to make peace with him before he took his final breath, so he pulled a chair up to his bed and watched as he struggled to breathe. 

“You must love this,” Marcus said, holding an oxygen mask to his face.  “Seeing me suffer like this.”

“You know that’s not true.”  Despite everything, he didn’t want to see him in pain. 

“You couldn’t wait to get away from me,” the old man went on.  “The day you turned eighteen you took off for Hollywood and never looked back.  Just like Nathan did, and Ethan did.”  

“I left Kansas so that I could make something of myself,” James said.  “Was it wrong of me to want something better?  Look at how poor we were.  The house we lived in was a shack.  We had no money.  We couldn’t even help Georgie when she was sick.” 

“You’ve never forgiven me about what happened to your sister,” Marcus said, moving the mask from his mouth so he could look at him unobstructed.  “I did the best I could.  I provided for my family the only way I knew how.” 

“I know you did, but we should have been able to do more.  That’s why I left Kansas.  That’s why I couldn’t stay there another minute.  I had to make something of myself.  I never understood why you couldn’t just be proud of me for that.” 

“You want me to be proud of you, do you?”  He coughed and put the mask back to his face so he could take a few deep breaths.

“Yes, you’re damn right I do,” James said and stood up.  He wanted to look down on his father.  He wanted to make him feel as small and insignificant as he’d made him feel for so many years.  “I did what I set out to do.  I became successful.  I raised a family.  I avenged Georgie’s death.  Nathan and I both did.  We ruined Will Thomerson’s career on Broadway.  Everything he worked for and hoped for was destroyed.  His leaving Windsor and leaving Georgie to die of a broken heart was in vain.  I made sure of that.” 

“So with money and power comes vengeance?”

“In this case, yes,” James said.  “But you…all you did was sit back there in Windsor blaming everyone else.  Blaming me for leaving, blaming Ethan because Georgie died after childbirth.  But what about you?  What about the blame that you should be taking for all of this?”

“I don’t have to listen to his,” Marcus said, reaching for the call button to alert the nurse that he needed her. 

“You’re going to listen to it,” James said and snatched the remote away from him.

The heart monitor began beeping, alarming James and sending him flying toward the bed.

“What is it?” he asked.  “Dad, are you okay?” 

Wincing in pain, Marcus took a few deep breaths.  “Yes, I’m fine.  Not that that should make you happy.” 

“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not happy that you’re dying?”

“Why did you come here?” his father asked.  “We haven’t spoken in twenty-five years.  Why does it matter now?” 

James ran his fingers through his hair. “It matters because I want us to come to some kind of peace with each other.”

Marcus laughed and coughed at the same time.  The heart machine continued beeping furiously.  “You’re looking to soothe your guilt.” 

“No, that’s not it,” James snapped.  “I don’t have anything to feel guilty about.  I just don’t want…I don’t want you to die having any regrets.” 

Marcus looked at him for a few moments without say anything.  When he opened his mouth, he coughed repeatedly.  “So dramatic,” he said.  “What makes you think I have any regrets?” 

“Because in spite of everything, you’re still a good man and you know that it’s because of you that your family was driven away.  Now’s the time to make up for it. Please don’t let me walk out of here wishing this had gone differently.” 

Marcus leaned his head against his pillow and sighed.  “I don’t know, son.  I think too much time has passed.  It’s too late for some father son reunion.”   He winced again, clutching his chest. 

James listened to the heart monitor speed to a feverish pitch.  He knew it was time for him to go.  A tear formed in his eye as he reached out for his hand.  “It’s not too late,” he said.  He knew what too late was.  With Jordan and Benji it was too late.  With Renee and Sierra it was too late.  But there he was - at his father’s side - wanting to make amends.  Wanting to find some semblance of peace before it happened. 

“I drove you away,” Marcus said between fits of pain.  “Nathan too.  I should have expected Ethan to go too.” 

“You didn’t drive us away,” James said.  “It wasn't fair of me to say that.  We just couldn’t stay there.”

“You had to avenge Georgie,” Marcus said, tears welling up in his eyes.  “I know you did.  You did what I couldn’t do.  That’s why I turned away from you, James.  I failed to do what my own son could.  I’m so sorry for that.” 

“It’s okay, dad,” James said, looking down on him with compassion.

Alex Reynolds

Brooke and Alex rose from their chairs when James emerged from the bedroom some time later.  Alex could tell by the look on his face that it was over.  She turned her head and wept silently. 

“I’m sorry,” Brooke said and approached him.  She pulled him into an embrace, running her hand down his back.  “I’ll make some calls for you.” 

“Thank you,” James said.

He went to Alex and placed a hand on hers.  “My father cared for you very much,” he said.  “I’m sorry that I tried to keep you from coming.”

Her eyes flooding with tears, she nodded before turning and leaving the room. 

Once they were alone, James turned back to Brooke and took a deep breath.  “I think I’ll have him buried in Kansas.  He always loved it there.  This place isn't him."

“Do you want me to go with you?” Brooke asked, reaching for his hand.

James shook his head. “No, I need to do this alone.  You’ve done enough for me, Brooke.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that we’ve stayed close after everything that’s happened.” 

“We shared a great deal together.  We’ll always be close, James.” 

He managed a smile, hugging her again while wondering how things would have turned out differently if they’d stayed together.

New Martin

Spotting a missing drink in a crowded bar was next to impossible, so Brad had no alternative but to crush the remaining pills into a fresh glass before making his way back to his office.  He couldn’t risk Stormy Blackthorne and Tyler Rogers talking to Farrah.  She remembered seeing him before Hugh Rogers was killed, which meant she could blab to everyone. 

First checking to make sure no one was around, he unlocked his office door and quickly slipped inside.   It wasn’t until he turned around that he realized Farrah wasn’t on the floor where he’d left her. 

“Farrah?” he called, eyes darting nervously around the room. 

Moments later, she came charging out of the supply closet, a letter-opener poised in the air as she came at him relentlessly.

“You son of a bitch!” she screamed, swiping the letter opener at him. 

“Farrah, stop it!” he yelled, trying desperately to restrain her.   He pushed her away and she went sailing over the desk, scattering papers in every direction.  

“You had me thinking I killed Hugh Rogers!” she screamed, coming at him again.  “When all this time it was you!”  

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” he yelled, darting away from her while looking for something to defend himself with.   He was able to push her away again, this time running back to the door to escape. 

Feeling her coming up from behind, he turned, met with the gleaming blade of the letter opener as it sunk into his chest.  Eyes wide, he saw the blood ebb from the wound, then fell to the floor, gasping for air.  


Next time....

James returns from Kansas and learns of the attacks on the stars of Sunset Studios.  Brooke gets devastating news just as Questicon opens at Moonshadows.  Brooke and Ethan grow more concerned about Michael, and Mackenzie is on to Kyle. Plus, the exciting conclusion to Girls of Summer plays out on Nightingales #16!

 

 

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