Home                Episodes                Cast                On Location                The Insider                 Forum       

 

 

 

Episode 153

 

Release Date:  October 7, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Miranda and Jane were given probation and community service for moving Hugh's body.  When Eddie learned that Tiger was not his daughter, he walked away from Miranda.  James questioned Alex about her relationship with his father.  She recalled Suzanne telling her about a party at Deacon Edgewater's house.  Lola began teaching an acting class, despite Jordan's concerns that she was in danger.  Nathan and Victor revealed that they'd drugged Bianca Burnette to get her into bed, and that she died days later, prompting Jonas to cover it up.  Denise from archives suggested that Jonas told their secrets which led to someone coming after them in retaliation.  Stormy flipped when he learned Brett and Kelly had been seeing each other.  Nathan was invited to speak at Questicon, a science fiction convention at Moonshadows honoring the original The Benefactor.  James overheard Kyle and Ethan talking about Ethan's relationship with Mackenzie.  Later, he blasted him for stealing another woman from him.  A construction worker at Moonshadows was hospitalized.  Later, Brooke was rushed to the emergency room for the same thing.  After Mr. De La Cruz died from his illness, it was determined something at Moonshadows was making people sick.  Mason panicked when he heard about the illnesses.  

 


  

Episode 153

"Spaced Out"

 

Ethan filled the cup from the water cooler and brought it to his lips, sipping slowly while standing in the waiting room at the hospital.  Since Brooke had been brought in the night before, he hadn’t been home.  His phone had been blowing up with calls from Mackenzie, but he hadn’t answered.  He knew what would happen if he did, and the simple fact was he was worried about Brooke.  Why wouldn’t he be?  They shared a son together. 

Crossing the room, he avoided the chilly stares from James who was still angry over his betrayal.  They hadn’t spoken all night, despite the hours of silence they’d endured with nothing to do but wait. 

Kyle slept in a chair in the corner, his trademark five o’clock shadow a bit more profound, and the sleeves of his light blue oxford rolled up to his elbows.  Ethan had to give him credit where credit was due.  He did care about Brooke, otherwise he wouldn’t have been there all night with the rest of them.  It still didn’t change the fact that he didn’t trust him.

When Dr. Farraday emerged from the intensive care unit, the three of them rushed over to hear what he had to say.  

“She’s conscious,” he told them.  “We’re still waiting for the tox screen but in the meantime we’ve been giving her antibiotics.  Unfortunately, she’s not responding the way we’d hoped.”

“Isn’t there anything else you can do?” Ethan asked. 

“We won’t know until those tests come back.  For now you can go in and see her.  One at a time,” he was quick to add.

They all looked at each other, waiting for someone to move into action.  When Kyle proceeded past the doctor and through a set of glass doors, James and Ethan retreated back into the waiting room. 

“Noel, you still don’t know what’s causing this?” James asked. 

Dr. Farraday shook his head.  “It could be any number of substances or environmental factors at the resort,” he explained.  “All we know is that three people came into contact with it and one of them is dead.  All I’m worried about right now is trying to keep Brooke and the other man from suffering the same fate.” 

James and Ethan looked at each other, fear in their eyes. Just as Dr. Farraday left them, Mackenzie entered from the hall.  She looked at them both and stopped, wary of the awkward situation. 

“Hi,” Ethan said and jumped back up from his seat.  “What are you doing here?”

“I finally heard what happened so I stopped by to see if I could do anything,” she said, glaring angrily at him while trying not to raise any flags with James.  “Why haven’t you returned my phone calls?  I was up half the night.” 

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “There just hasn’t been time.” 

They were interrupted when James approached, hands in his pockets.  “Hello Mackenzie.”

“James,” she said politely.  “How are you?” 

“I’m well,” he said, lips pursed.  “Kyle’s in with Brooke.”

She shrugged.  “I didn’t come to see Kyle.  I came to-“

“To see Ethan, I know,” James finished for her.  “I won’t keep you.” 

After he walked away, Ethan led her out into the hall. 

“What was that all about?” she asked. 

“He knows,” Ethan told her.  “About us, I mean.” 

Mackenzie looked through the door at James and ran her fingers through her long black hair.  “He knows?” she exclaimed.  “That’s just great, Ethan.  I thought we agreed we weren’t going to go public about our relationship because we didn’t want to hurt anyone.” 

“Well I didn’t say anything to him,” Ethan argued.  “Your goddamn brother was the one who told him.  I couldn’t exactly deny it.” 

She groaned with frustration.  “Damnit, Kyle,” she murmured under her breath before turning back to him.  “How did he take it?  Is he upset?” 

“What do you think?” 

“I should talk to him,” Mackenzie suggested.  “I have to make him understand that we didn’t set out to hurt him.” 

“I wouldn’t recommend it.  Just let him cool off for a while.  This is more about James and myself than it is about you.”  

“What does that supposed to mean?” she asked angrily. 

“My uncle and I have a long history together.  With Brooke specifically.  This thing with you and I just brings up the whole unresolved situation again.” 

Mackenzie set her jaw while folding her arms taut across her chest.  “Nice to know I’m even a factor in your little family drama,” she snapped.  “And I don’t appreciate being ignored all night.  May I remind you that you were the one who pushed for this relationship?  If you’re not fully invested then do me a favor and tell me so I can quit wasting my goddamn time.” 

Before Ethan could respond, she turned and stomped back down the hall.  He ran his fingers through his hair and turned in time to see James looking away. 

Brooke Taylor

In the intensive care unit, Brooke laid weakly on the bed as Kyle sat beside her, his hand resting on hers.   There were dark circles around her glossy eyes and her skin had a pale yellowish tint to it.   An I.V. administered drugs through a tube and her lips were cracked and chapped. 

“They’re still waiting for the test results,” Kyle was saying to her.  “But he needs to know if you’ve come in contact with anything that could have made you sick.”

“I don’t know,” Brooke said weakly.

“The thing is, the construction worker who they brought in yesterday has the same symptoms that you do,” Kyle went on.  “And the same symptoms were why Mr. De La Cruz was here for so long.”

“Are they okay?” Brooke asked, coughing. 

Kyle squeezed her hand.  “Mr. De La Cruz didn’t make it,” he told her.

Brooke’s eyes flashed open wide with alarm.   “He’s….” 

“I know,” Kyle said in a soothing voice.  “They just couldn’t find out what was wrong with him in time.  The good news is this might help them figure things out to help you.” 

“That poor man,” Brooke said, her eyes glossy with tears.   “He was fine one day and gone the next.” 

“I don’t want you to worry,” Kyle said, pushing her hair from her forehead.  “You’re going to be fine.” 

Brooke looked at him with uncertainty.  What if they couldn’t find out what was wrong with her in time?  What if she died just like Mr. De La Cruz?

Mason Stone

Mason Stone sat at a table in the sunny dining room of the Cahuenga Room, absently picking at his breakfast with the newspaper strewn out before him.  The hostess, Yvonne, came by and refilled his coffee and water and smiled flirtatiously before setting back off to the wait station. 

Sipping from his water, Mason turned and saw Yvonne refilling the water pitcher from a faucet.  His eyes went to the glass in his hand and he recoiled in horror.  His hand involuntarily let go of the glass and it fell, shattering on the table and spilling water and ice across the newspaper.   Quickly, Yvonne came rushing over with a towel. 

“I’m sorry,” Mason said in a panic.  He jumped up from the table and darted off to the doors, bumping into Chip Matthews as he entered the restaurant. 

“Whoa,” Chip said and stopped him with his hands.  “What spooked you all the sudden?” 

“Nothing,” Mason said irritably and shrugged away from.  “And let go of me. I told you I’m not interested in men.”  

Chip frowned incredulously.  “Okaaaay, yeah, I got that.  You bumped into me, remember?  What the hell’s got you jumping around like a bat out of hell, anyway?”

Mason turned and watched Yvonne cleaning up the rest of the water he’d spilled.  “Nothing,” he said.  “How’s the guy they brought into the hospital yesterday?” 

“No change,” Chip told him.  “Same with Brooke Taylor.  They’re treating them with antibiotics but they still don’t know what’s wrong.  They do know they have the same symptoms as the hotel guest who died, though.  It doesn't look good.” 

Color drained from Mason’s face as she struggled to maintain his composure.  “Do they have any leads?” 

Chip shook his head.  “Nope.  But they’ve got an environmental team out taking soil samples.  They think it could be something we kicked up during construction at the marina.” 

Mason swallowed hard.

“Listen, maybe there’s a way to spin this to our favor,” Chip suggested.  “Once the public gets word that one man is dead and two others are sick, there’ll be mass exodus around here.  This sci-fi convention will be the last business this place ever gets, and then they’ll have to take action.” 

“No,” Mason said.

Chip frowned.  “What do you mean no?” 

“I mean no,” Mason repeated, shooting him a blank expression.  “It’s just not right.” 

After he left, Chip scratched his head in confusion.  Right?” he murmured to himself.  “What the hell does right have to do with anything?”

Miranda Blackthorne

At the Blackthorne mansion, Miranda was in the dining room feeding Tiger her bottle when Stormy entered.  He went straight to the buffet where he poured himself a cup of coffee.

“I guess you heard me and Eddie last night,” Miranda said as Tiger slurped on her bottle in her arms.

“Kinda hard not to,” Stormy said, unsure of what to say to his sister to make it better.  “Have you talked to him?” 

She shook her head. “No, I was hoping you had.” 

“I was with Jane last night.  I haven’t talked to Eddie.  I thought he might need some time, anyway.” 

Miranda grew silent as she looked down at her daughter.  Eddie’s words had played over and over in her mind and kept her awake all night.  She’d never seen him so angry.  The worst part was he had every reason to be.  She had been selfish.  It wouldn’t surprise her if Eddie never wanted to talk to her again.  But despite how right he was to walk out on her, she hated that it was happening and would do anything to change it. 

“Will you talk to him for me?” she asked Stormy.

Immediately, he began shaking his head.  “I don’t know, Miranda.  I don’t like getting involved in you guys’ relationship.  It’s weird enough that my best friend and my sister are dating, but I can’t interfere.” 

“Can’t or won’t?” she asked with a sneer.  “I know Eddie’s your best friend and all, but I’m your sister.  Doesn’t my happiness mean anything to you?  What about Tiger?  Eddie was going to be her father and now she doesn’t have one.” 

“Can you blame Eddie for having had enough?  My God, Miranda, if it isn’t one thing with you it’s another.  David Jennings, call girls, dead bodies.  When does it all end?”

“I’m human, you know,” she fired back.  “I make mistakes just like everybody else.  I know you’ve made a few in your life.  Don’t act like you’re above me, Stormy.  I can’t take it.” 

He frowned.  “I never said I was above you.”

“Then don’t pretend like my mistakes are any worse than anything you’ve done.  I happen to love Eddie very much.” 

Stormy finished his coffee and went to the door.  “Well you might also lose him for good if you don’t do something.  It’s got to be you, Miranda.  Not me, not Dad.  You. 

With that, he turned and walked out of the room.  Miranda stood behind, bouncing Tiger gently in her arms as she stewed over her brother’s words.  She was getting fed up with everyone telling her how selfish she was. 

Nathan Blackthorne

Questicon 2011 Presents:

A Special Appearance by Nathan Blackthorne

Star of The Benefactor

Saturday 11:30am

Moonshadows Crystalaire Room

The sign was positioned outside the conference room on the lobby level of the hotel.  Nathan, Jack, and Victor paused at the entrance to sign autographs for a few enthusiastic fans, some who were in costumes for that evening’s banquet. 

“Thank you for coming,” Nathan said and scribbled his signature on photographs, magazines, and old videotapes.  “Your support is everything.  I hope you’ll see the new film.”

“This is quite a turnout,” Vaughan remarked at the growing crowd inside the room.  “I think this thing’s going to be standing room only.”

Nathan grinned.  “It’s good publicity for the remake,” he said, then acknowledged Keaton Hartley when he approached.    “There’s the man of the hour.  Keaton, I’d like to call on you during the question and answer period if you don’t mind.  I know the fans will be eager to find out more about our illustrious director.” 

“I wouldn’t want to steal the show from you, Mr. Blackthorne,” Keaton said bashfully while pushing his black framed glasses up on his nose.  He wore a pair of ill-fitting khaki’s and a loose flannel shirt.  “I just really came by to see the master in action.  The fans are totally eating you up.” 

“They are, aren’t they?” Nathan asked while surveying the crowd. 

“I’ll see you later on set,” Keaton said.  “I’m going to go find a seat.” 

As he walked away, Victor watched him curiously.  “Rather odd young man, don’t you think?”

“What do you mean?” Nathan asked.

Victor shrugged.  “Just a little uncomfortable in his own skin, it seems.  Almost as if something is hiding behind the geeky façade."

“Victor, you’re being ridiculous,” Nathan said.  “He’s a perfectly nice young man.  Not the typical Hollywood type, but most directors aren’t.”

Shaking his head, Victor pointed across the room.  “That adorable girl with the Vulcan ears has been staring him down for ten minutes and he’s barely noticed.  Had that been any of us, we would have already made our move.  Poor thing’s got no skills with the ladies, I fear.”

“Not everyone is the Don Juan that you are, Victor,” Jack said with a sarcastic smirk. 

Just then, Brett emerged from the room.  “They’re about to announce you, Nathan,” he said.  “I’ll take you around through the back.  The rest of you can take the front row.  Your seats are reserved.” 

“Capital,” Nathan said and followed him down a service hallway. 

Victor, Jack and Vaughan went into the Crystalaire room and proceeded down the aisle to the front row, smiling graciously at fans that waved and snapped pictures with their camera phones. 

In the center row, Keaton waited for the presentation to start.  He turned and noticed the girl with the Vulcan ears smiling suggestively at him from across the aisle. 

“Hi,” she said with a flirtatious wink.

“Uh, hi,” he replied awkwardly and turned back to the front. 

The girl frowned, put out by his lack of responsiveness. 

When the moderator appeared on the stage in a black and silver body suit, the crowd applauded with excitement. 

“Greetings earth denizens,” he began.  “It is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you our guest speaker for Question 2011.  You know him from dozens of films dating back to the 1960’s, but perhaps he’s best known to most of us as Norton from the 1968 sci-fi blockbuster, The Benefactor.  A remake is currently in production which I’m sure is no surprise to all of you who follow the blogs.  Please welcome without further ado, Nathan Blackthorne!”

The audience stood and applauded as Nathan took to the podium on stage. 

Lola Lamont

The Playhouse was a small theatre in Beverly Hills that was home to many local productions.  There were a hundred and twenty red velvet seats, a crude lighting and sound system, and a large stage front and center.  During off times the building was rented out for amateur productions and acting classes. 

Lola sat on the edge of the stage, her feet dangling over the side as she coached Cecily Davidson through her first scene in The Benefactor.  She’d asked the young woman to stay after class so that they could work privately. 

“I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to live up to your role in the original,” the mousy girl said as she sat to her right.  “You really owned that control tower in your scenes, Mrs. Lamont.”

“Lola, please,” she corrected her.  “Just remember, Diana is as much a victim in Norton’s expedition as those fifty children are.  It’s up to her and her alone to talk them through their ordeal.” 

“I never thought of it that way,” Cecily said. 

Lola lit a cigarette and blew a stream of smoke into the air.  “Let me ask you this, Cecily.  Have you ever been in a situation where everything you know and everything around you hinges on one simple action that only you can determine?” 

She thought long and hard.  “Do you mean like the time I elbowed Sarah Michelle Gellar in the chest to get the last pink angora sweater at Fred Segal?”

Lola looked at her from above her reading glasses.  “That’s exactly what I mean,” she said sarcastically.  “Think of that when you’re in the control tower and you’ve got fifty kids on a doomed space shuttle to the sun.”

“I’m sorry, Lola, I-“ Cecily whimpered.  “I’m trying.”

“Try harder,” Lola said, cigarette dangling from her mouth.  “Now go on and get out of here.  I can’t even stand to look at you.” 

The girl scampered off through the theatre as Jordan and Alex approached from the center aisle. 

“Well, she’s bound to get it now,” Jordan said sarcastically.  “Honestly, mother, you practically ripped her head off.”   

“Acting is the hardest profession in the world,” Lola said.  “It’s best she learns that sooner than later.  Having a famous dead aunt isn’t going to get her anywhere.”  She plucked her cigarette from her mouth and looked at Alex.  “Why are you two doing here anyway?   Please tell me you aren’t together again.”

“Funny,” Alex said with a droll expression.  Her hair was pinned up on her head and she wore a classic purple and orange Missoni dress.

“I told you I was helping Detective Rodriguez with the investigation,” Jordan reminded her.  “Well, it’s obvious that whoever is targeting the five of you was close to Jonas, or at least had access to his personal information.”

“What’s that got to do with her?” Lola asked and pointed at Alex with her cigarette.

“Alex was around for most of that time,” Jordan said.  “She was Nathan and Jonas’s protégé.  She spent a lot of time at the house and went to a lot of Jonas’s parties.” 

“So did all of us,” Lola said.  “If we don’t know anything what makes you think she does?” 

“She’d just moved to Hollywood.  She was curious.  She noticed everything.”

Alex shifted nervously. “Jordan, I told you I don’t think this is a good idea.  I really don’t know what help I can be.  Those days are as blurry to me as they are to everyone else.  It was so long ago.” 

“You said you’d try to help,” Jordan said, his eyes pleading.

Alex nodded in agreement.  As much as she didn’t want to relive those times, she would do it for Jordan. 

“So where do you want to start?” Lola asked.  “The day you got off the bus, penniless and seriously lacking good taste?”  

“Let’s start with the people Jonas associated with,” Jordan said.  “Is there anyone you can think of who might have been privy to the secrets he was keeping?” 

Alex grew into a daze, recalling the party Suzanne had told her about.  It was hosted by Deacon Edgewater at his house in the hills and everyone who was anyone was there…

The first person she remembered seeing was Elana Hendricks, the famous film star who she’d seen in so many pictures.  She’d heard stories about her penchant for alcohol, and judging by the way she stumbled about the party, she could see that it was true.  Strange that no one tried to take her keys from her when she went to leave. 

The next was a group of actors she knew all too well from the movies.  Nathan Blackthorne, Victor Distefano, and Jack Childers.  It was surreal seeing them in person.  Like legends that she was just now realizing were real live people. 

Finally, she came across Deacon Edgewater, who must have seen her enter the party because he came rushing toward her and dragging her off to other parts of the house.  She wondered if he knew who she was.  How could he?  She was a nobody.  A transplant from Michigan who barely knew her way around Hollywood.  The only reason she went to the party was because the girl she’d met at the audition, Suzanne something, told her about it. 

“What did I tell you?” Deacon said to two directors.  One was Robert Wylan and the other was George Dunning, who kept talking about his son Frank who’d just celebrated his thirteenth birthday.  Alex immediately recognized them both.  “Here’s another one.” 

“Another what?” Alex asked, clueless as to what they were talking about.

“Okay, you were right,” George said and handed him a hundred dollar bill. “Here’s your damn money.” 

“Don’t be such a sore loser, George,” Deacon said and pocketed the crisp bill. 

“Excuse me,” Alex interrupted.  “Would somebody tell me what’s going on?”

“Just a friendly wager,” Robert replied.

“I bet my friends here that I could find five girls who finagled their way through my front door in hopes of being discovered,” Deacon explained.  “You are an actress, aren’t you, Miss….?”

“Reynolds,” Alex replied nervously and a bit irritated.  “Alex Reynolds. And yes, I am an actress, but I didn’t come here hoping to be discovered.” 

“You didn’t?” George asked incredulously.  “What’s in the portfolio?  Recipes?” 

She tried to stop him from grabbing the leather case she’d bought at a thrift store a few days before.  “Hey, wait a second!”

“Head shots,” George said while perusing the contents.  He closed it and handed it back to her.  “Still trying to tell us you’re not here to get discovered?” 

“I’m just in the habit of carrying them with me everywhere I go,” Alex said, trying desperately to maintain her dignity.  Who did these men think they were?  Just because they were powerful producers and directors didn’t mean they could treat her like a joke.

“Tell us, Alex,” Robert said, baiting her.  “What makes you different from all the other girls who parade themselves around these parties every night?”

“I’m very talented,” she said, trying to maintain a stiff upper lip. 

“Talent doesn’t always pay the bills,” George said with a wink and a nudge.  “Come home with me sometime and then we’ll talk.” 

She pulled away, mortified by his lewd suggestion.  “No thank you,” she said.  “I think I’ll try my luck at using my talent instead.”

“You know that’s not how things work in Hollywood,” Robert told her and drew near.  He looked at Deacon.  “At least the others were aware of what they had to do to stand out.  This one’s living a dream.”

Alex fought back the tears.  She turned and ran through the crowd, pushing her way past anyone who stood in her way.  All she wanted was to get out.   When she stepped on Nathan Blackthorne’s toes, she barely muttered an apology.  It wouldn’t be until January of the next year that she would meet him in person.  Looking back, she wished she’d stopped and talked to him that night.  A lot of pain could have been avoided if she had….

“Look at her,” Lola said with a frown.  “She’s been hypnotized by her own dress.” 

“Alex, are you okay?” Jordan asked. 

She finally broke from the daze.  “I’m fine,” she said.  “Look, I’m sorry.  There’s just nothing I can remember that’s going to help.” 

Before Jordan could reply, she was tearing out of the theatre, racing down the rows of chairs until she reached the door.

“I always knew she was an odd woman,” Lola said and stubbed her cigarette out on the floor.

Stormy Blackthorne

With a mountain of work to do before filming on The Benefactor resumed that evening, Stormy only had time to grab a quick sandwich at the Sunset Studios commissary.  As he walked through the back lot, he passed the building that housed a small screening room, and saw the door slightly ajar.  Frowning, he stepped closer and heard the score from Love Nest, a 1980 Lamont 3 romantic comedy that his mother and Nathan starred in together.

“Hello?” he called out while stepping tentatively into the building.   “Who’s here?”

The movie played on the screen, but the small theater appeared to be empty.  He could see the faint glimmer of light from the projection booth above.  Quickly, he climbed the stairs.  He reached his hand out and pushed the door open, startled to find Denise Syswicki sitting in the booth crying silently.

“Denise?” he said.  “Are you okay?  What’s wrong?” 

She quickly rose to her feet and wiped her eyes.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t know anyone else was here.  I’ll go.”

“No,” he said, reaching a hand out to stop her.  “You don’t have to leave.  I just didn’t know anyone ever used this place anymore.” 

She looked out at the movie screen.  “I come here sometimes,” she said, then gestured to the wall of old film reels that lined the back wall.  “At least once a week and never had to watch the same movie twice.” 

“You’ve probably seen them all,” Stormy said and surveyed the lot of reels, each labeled with worn masking tape.  They dated back to the early days of Lamont 3 and went all the way through the last of Jonas Lamont’s films before he died.  

“I’ve seen them dozens of times,” Denise replied.  “The benefits of working in archives, I guess.” 

Stormy smiled.  “You seemed upset when I came in.  Do you want me to leave you alone?” 

“All I do is spend time alone,” she told him.  “Down in those archives.  Day after day.”  She ran her hand along the film reels.  “Nothing to do but sit and wonder what if.” 

“What if?”

She finally looked at him.  “What if things had been different,” she clarified, a far-away sound in her voice.  “What if I had been the leading lady up on that screen?  What if I was up there kissing Nathan Blackthorne or Victor Distefano instead of your mother or Lola Lamont?” 

Stormy looked at the film as it played.  It was a scene with Alex and Nathan engaged in some slapstick misadventure.  “Did you want to be an actress?” 

“I tried out for the lead in The Organization,” she confessed.  “Jonas told me that some people didn’t belong in front of the screen.  He said some of us were born to do other things.  That’s when he put me down in archives.  That was forty-five years ago.” 

“I’m sorry, Denise, I-“

You grew up in the business,” she continued.  “You know how hurtful it can be.  The rejections, the insincerity, the total lack of regard for anyone else.  Then one day you wake up and you don’t know where the time went.  You’re too old to do anything else and even if you could no one would look at you, because in this town if you’re not young and beautiful you’re nothing.” 

Stormy realized she just wanted someone to listen to her, so he stood patiently waiting for her to finish. 

“I tried again to audition,” she went on.  “Several more times, actually.  But each time I got overlooked for another actress.  Your mother, Elana Hendricks, Suzanne Rogers, you name it.  It got to where I was the laughing stock of the studio.” 

“People respect you,” Stormy told her.  “No one knows more about the studio than you do.” 

“Why should they get all the glory?” Denise continued.  “The Blackthornes and the Distefanos and all the others who made it to where I wanted so badly to be.  Now look at me.”

“It’s not so bad.  You-“

“I’ve never been married and I have 5 cats,” Denise cut him off curtly.  “Only five because that’s the legal limit before you get into a hoarding situation.  Trust me, I’ve researched it.”

“Look, things can still change.  It’s never too late.” 

“Yes, it is,” she said and sat back down in the chair to watch the movie.  “It’s too late.  It’s much too late.” 

Stormy remained for a few more minutes, then said an awkward goodbye which he wasn’t sure that she heard, and left. As he crossed the theatre downstairs, his shadow scrolled across the screen where his mother and Nathan were engaged in a loving embrace. 

James Blackthorne

At the hospital, James sat by Brooke’s bedside watching her fall in and out of sleep.  When she opened her eyes and saw him seated beside her, she drew the corners of her mouth into a smile. 

“How long have you been here?” she asked weakly.

“A few minutes,” he replied.  “I didn’t want to wake you.” 

She shook her head and tried sitting up in the bed.  “I wasn’t asleep.  Just resting my eyes.” 

“How are you feeling?”

“Okay.”

He smiled.  “You’re lying.”

She laughed, then started coughing uncontrollably.  James went to get her a glass of water but she shook her head once the spasm had subsided. 

“I’m fine,” she said.  “I just want to know what’s wrong so they can treat it and I can get back to work.  I’ve got so much to do.  The marina, the convention, Michael…”

“Michael is fine,” James said.  “He’s having a blast with his aunt Miranda.  You just concentrate on getting well.” 

“You don’t have to be here, James,” Brooke said.

He reached out and placed a hand over hers.  “I want to be,” he assured her.  “You were there for me when my father died.  I honestly don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there.” 

She smiled, her eyes half-closed.

“I think we really came to a new understanding while we were in Monte Carlo,” James went on.  “Don’t you?  I’m starting to feel like all that business from our marriage is in the past.  At least I thought so until Ethan…”  He paused, deciding it wasn’t the time to go into his problems with his nephew.

Heart monitors began beeping slowly, alerting James to a potential problem.  He looked at Brooke and realized that she wasn’t responsive to him.  Quickly, he pushed the button to summon the nurse.

“Brooke?” he said, placing a hand alongside her pale face.  “Brooke, can you hear me?” 

But it was no use.  She was unconscious.  Moments later, the heart monitor began beeping steadily.  He quickly pushed the call button again and yelled for the nurse.

“Help!” he called.  “Something’s wrong!  She isn’t breathing!” 

Moments later, Dr. Farraday ran into the room, followed by a nurse.   They quickly went to check Brooke’s vitals, looking under her eyelids and checking readings on the heart monitor.

“She’s in defib,” Farraday said.  “Get the paddles.” 

“Right away,” the nurse said and raced over with a crash cart. 

“James, you’re going to have to wait outside,” Farraday said as they prepared Brooke for the defibrulator. 

Quickly, he did as he asked, leaving the room and watching through the window as Ethan and Kyle fell in line beside him.

“What’s wrong with her?” Kyle exclaimed.  “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” James said.  “One minute we were talking and the next….” 

They watched as the hospital staff attempted to get Brooke’s heart started again.  The drawn, pale look on her face horrified them.  James closed his eyes, never having been so afraid of losing someone in his entire life. 

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda was going crazy waiting for Eddie to call, and she was positive he would.  Was he really prepared to throw everything away?  It seemed unfathomable to her, especially after how dedicated he’d been during her pregnancy with Tiger.  But as the day wore on, her positive attitude began to waver. 

She was sitting outside on the terrace while Tiger napped, the baby monitor positioned close by.  Michael was playing by the flower bed and came running up, interrupting her brooding state.

“Miranda, look at this!” he screamed while racing up the flowing green lawn.  In his hands he held a rock that he presented ceremoniously.

“Yeah, it’s a rock,” she said with little enthusiasm. 

“It’s a moon rock!” Michael retorted.  “I found it by the garden.  How do you think it got here?” 

Despite her foul mood, Miranda played along as best she could.  “It probably fell from a rocket ship or something,” she told him.  “It’s lucky it didn’t fall on the house.”  

“Right?” Michael said, staring at the rock in wonderment.  “I’m going to go put it in my room and show Adam next time I see him!"

Miranda sighed.  “You do that,” she said.  “Because you know what?  Adam is the only person who’s not going to abandon you.  Adam won’t run off the minute things get tough.  Not like some people.  Some people can be there for you all the time and then all the sudden give up on you.  So you’re wise to keep Adam around.  Maybe I need to get me an Adam.” 

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing,” she said with a shake of her head. 

Michael stared at her in confusion, then took off toward the house.  “Okay, bye!” 

She flopped against the lounger in despair.  Great, now she was tainting little boys with her negative outlook on life.  She needed help. 

“You look positively awful,” a voice from above said. 

Shielding her eyes from the sun, Miranda gazed up and groaned when she realized it was Kelly, dressed in her riding clothes, her hair tucked up beneath a black riding helmet.

“I don’t remember asking for your opinion on my appearance,” she fired back and closed her eyes.  “Get lost.” 

“You’re in a foul mood today,” Kelly said.  “That wouldn’t have anything to do with Eddie flouncing out of here last night, would it?  I must say, he looked awfully eager to get away from you.”

“Why don’t you do me a favor and get away from me?” Miranda said and got up from the chair. She went for the baby monitor but Kelly stopped her from leaving. 

“What did you do?  Cheat on him again?”

“If you don’t get out of my face, I swear to God I’ll go carnival freak crazy on your ass,” Miranda said while glaring menacingly at her.  “I’m in no mood for you today, Kelly.”

“It’s all good,” Kelly said.  “Look, all I’m saying is that it can be hard raising a baby on your own.  You’ve got a long haul ahead of you, Miranda.” 

“You’re not raising R.J. on your own so how would you know what it’s like?” 

“Not now I’m not, but back in New York I had to manage by myself.  Now you’re a single mother and the man who you’ve devoted your life to has walked out on you.”

“Eddie didn’t walk out on me,” Miranda said.   “We’re just having a difference of opinion.” 

“Is that what you call it?  Seems like he got fed up with you and your capers.  Maybe next time you shouldn’t make it so easy for him to find out when you’re doling out prostitutes.” 

“You were the one who told him!” Miranda exclaimed.

“Oh yeah,” Kelly said and feigned an apologetic shrug of her shoulders.  “I guess I did.” 

Glaring angrily at her, Miranda drew her fist back and punched her in the nose, sending her toppling to the ground.  She rolled down the hill and landed next to the flower bed. 

“You hit me?” Kelly screamed back at her.  Seriously?”

“Oops, I guess I did,” Miranda said with a smile before turning and walking back up to the house. 

Jane Wheeler

Just as Jane had predicted, she was already feeling the consequences of being charged with a misdemeanor.  Her job application for Event Manager at Moonshadows was denied because of her record.  And while she knew she could easily go to Stormy who would pull strings with Brooke Taylor, she didn’t want to get the job unless it was by her own merit.  Either way, Brooke was in the hospital so even if she did go to her to plead her case, it would have to wait. 

Storming through the lobby from the human resources department, she came across several crazed science fiction fans running about dueling with fake swords.  She darted out of the way, aggravated when they backed up into her anyway.  

“Watch where you’re going!” she screamed irritably and stopped for a minute to catch her breath. 

“Sorry!” one of them replied before continuing the battle near the elevators. 

Jane took a minute to catch her breath, then turned just as Brett approached from the Crystalaire room.

“Bad day?” he asked, noting her frazzled state.

“That’s an understatement,” she said.  “Just not a sci-fi fan, I guess.” 

Brett laughed.  “You’re going to have to shake that off if you’re going to be in the movie business,” he said.  “It’s pretty popular.” 

Jane rolled her eyes.  “Like that’s ever going to happen,” she said.  “I haven’t gotten a role in months.  I can’t even get an audition.  Hell, I can’t even get a job at this place.  I’m virtually unemployable.” 

“That can’t be true,” Brett said, looking down on her with a grin.  “You’re telling me Stormy hasn’t offered to get you a part in a Sunset Studios film?”

Jane leveled a look of defiance at him.  “I wouldn’t accept it if he did.  I’m not like Kelly.  I don’t accept favors from anyone.”

“Even Stormy?”

Even Stormy,” she replied.  “What are you doing with her anyway?  You know how Stormy feels about the both of you.  But then again, I guess that answers my question.” 

“Kelly and I are adults.  It’s not my problem if Stormy can’t handle that we’re spending time together.”

“Even if R.J. gets caught up in the middle of it?” 

Brett smirked and dug his hands into his pockets.  He hadn’t given Jane much thought before, but standing there talking to her, he could see what Stormy saw in her.  She was very beautiful and spirited.  Thin and waifish, perky breasts, and a wholesome face. 

“Why do all of the women in Stormy’s life feel the need to protect him?” he asked.  “He must find it emasculating.”  

Jane shook her head dismissively while waiving a hand through the air.  “I don’t know the whole history between you and Stormy, but I do know that he doesn’t like you, and I can see why.  Everything is not a competition.” 

“Sure it is,” he said.  “This industry thrives on competition.  It’s what separates the winners from the losers.  You don’t want to wind up a loser by association, do you?  Look at him.  He’s been trying to impress his father for years, and for what?  He had to cheat and steal to get his share of the studio.” 

“What are you talking about?” Jane asked.

“You don’t know?” Brett asked incredulously.  “Stormy tricked Brooke into giving my shares to him.  And you say I’m not trustworthy?  If I were you I’d look at the man you were sleeping with.  He’s the one you can’t trust.” 

“What’s going on here?” a voice called from across the lobby.

They both turned to see Stormy enter the lobby, a taut expression on his face.

“Stormy, what are you doing here?” Jane asked. 

“I came to catch some of Nathan’s speech,” he answered.  “What are you doing?  And with him?” 

“Relax, bro,” Brett said, relishing the jealous streak that he exhibited.  “We were just talking.” 

“I’m not your bro, and I don’t want you anywhere near Jane.  It’s bad enough you’re shacking up with Kelly.” 

The remark got to Jane, but she didn’t know why.  “I came in to apply for that job I told you about,” she explained.  “Then I ran into Brett.  I was just on my way over to see Miranda.  How is she?” 

“She’s upset, naturally.” 

“What’s wrong with Miranda?” Brett asked, suddenly stricken with concern.  “Is it the baby?” 

“The baby is fine,” Stormy snapped.  “My sister is none of your business anymore.  What is it with you?   Leave my family and my women alone.” 

“Your women?” Jane asked with a frown.  “Excuse me, but if you’re looping me into a category with Kelly, then we need to talk.” 

“That’s not what I meant,” Stormy said with a sigh.  “I’m sorry.  I’m just so frustrated because this guy won’t seem to stay out of my life.” 

Brett remained silent, watching with amusement as Stormy virtually hung himself by his words. 

“You know what?” Jane said with an angry shake of her head.  “I have to go.  I’ll see you later.” 

“Jane, wait-“ Stormy said, but she’d already tore through the crowd and disappeared outside. 

“Way to keep her happy, junior,” Brett said with a sneer before he turned and walked away. 

Standing behind, Stormy ran his fingers through his hair and cursed himself for letting Brett get to him again. 

Nathan Blackthorne

Inside the Crystalaire Room, Nathan had opened the floor to questions from the crowd of eager fans.   He pointed to a young man in the third row who jumped up from his seat in excitement. 

“I was wondering if you could settle a bet between me and my friends,” he began.  “In the original Benefactor, when you opened the safe that had the plans for the shuttle in it…um….what was the combination?”

Nathan smiled as politely as he could.  “I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”  He pointed to another young man.  “You.” 

“How many cubic feet of air was in the shuttle when it departed Earth, and how much was left when the children started to realize they were running out of air?” 

Again, Nathan smiled politely.  “I’m not sure,” he said.  “Next?”

An enthusiastic man jumped up with his hand in the air.  “Was Norton ever afraid that alien life forms were responsible for the shuttle veering off track?  And if so, what planet were they from?” 

Nathan gave the moderator a nod of his head to signify he was done with questions.  He hadn’t expected so many technical questions, but judging from the appearance of most of the conventioneers, they weren’t interested in his love life or the trials and tribulations he’d endured over the years.  Most of them probably still lived in their parents basements and worked at the local 7-11.

“That’s all the time we have,” the moderator announced.  “A big thank you to Nathan Blackhtorne for being our special guest speaker.” 

The crowd applauded as some began to leave the room and others went up to get Nathan's autograph or to snap photos with their camera phones.  Victor, Jack and Vaughan went up to the stage to wait for him. 

“Great speech, Nathan,” Victor said and patted him on the back.  “Makes you wonder why you didn’t do more science fiction.”

Nathan smiled wryly as he signed a few autographs. 

Amidst the crowd, a figure stood and watched them, cloaked in a black robe and hood, faceless except for a pair of tiny glowing red eyes.  The figure moved to the back of the room and slid through the service entrance.  Beneath its robe, it held a gleaming knife, biding its time as it waited. 

Kyle Fenwick

When Dr. Farraday appeared in the waiting room, James, Ethan and Kyle approached swiftly, firing off questions at him faster than he could answer. 

“She’s stable,” he finally told them.  “We managed to get her heart rate leveled off and we’re monitoring her closely.  Unfortunately, there’s not much more we can do right now until we find the source of the problem.” 

“When will that be?” Kyle demanded.   “Jesus, she’s been in here for twenty-four hours and you still don’t know what’s wrong with her.” 

Farraday nodded apologetically.  “We’ll know more once we find out what caused her and the others to get sick.” 

“Can I see her?” Kyle asked, running his fingers through his hair. 

“I’m afraid not,” the doctor replied.  “We’re about to do another battery of tests.  I’ll let you know when you can see her.  In the meantime, why don’t you go home and get some rest?”

After he departed, Kyle turned to James and Ethan.  “You should go.  I’ll stay here in case anything changes.” 

“Why you?” Ethan demanded. 

“Because I love her,” Kyle snapped.  “Like it or not, she chose me.  So instead of letting your ego get in the way, let her go, Ethan.” 

“She’s the mother of my child!” Ethan screamed and stepped forward.  “I’m not going to let you or anyone else tell me that I can’t care about her!” 

Kyle moved closer as well.  “You should have thought of that before you started sleeping with my sister!”

“Don’t you be so sanctimonious with me!” Ethan said, his temper erupting. 

“All right, knock it off!” James yelled when people in the hall began stopping to watch the spectacle.  “This isn’t helping Brooke!  I don’t give a damn who Brooke chose.  The point is she’s sick and there’s nothing we can do about it right now.”  

Retreating to their own spaces, Ethan and Kyle both took breaths in an effort to calm down.  Outside in the hall, Mason paused before entering.  He stopped a nurse who started toward the intensive care unit.

“Excuse me,” she said.  “That woman they brought in?   Brooke Taylor?  They still don’t know what’s wrong with her?” 

The nurse shook her head.  “Not yet, but I’ve got the tox screen results.”  She held up an envelope and walked purposefully down the hall.

Swallowing hard, Mason leaned against the wall and closed his eyes.  It was only a matter of time before they found out what he’d done.  His only hope was it wouldn’t be traced back to him.

Brett Armstrong

Brett decided to hang back at Moonshadows with Nathan to ensure he made it on set later that day.  They still had two scenes to shoot that day and he was determined not to fall behind.  He could see Stormy using it against him if that happened.   As it turned out, Nathan was more interested in having drinks with Victor, Jack and Vaughan in La Mirada bar than he was in going back to work.   It was obvious he was still high on the attention from his speaking engagement. 

“I’m headed back to the set,” Keaton announced when he found Brett in the lobby.   “Is Nathan coming?”

Brett looked into the bar and sighed.  “I think we might have to push the shoot back and hour or so.  I’ll get him there as fast as I can.” 

“Sure,” Keaton said, fumbling with papers in his hands.  “I’ll just make a change to the schedule and-“  He dropped the papers, which scattered across the floor in every direction.  Quickly, he bent down to retrieve them.  “I’m such a klutz.” 

Brett watched him warily, unsure of how someone so talented could be such a disaster in real life.   On top of Keaton’s geeky outward appearance, he wasn’t too sure-footed either. 

“I’ll see you later,” Keaton said, pushing his glasses up on his nose before turning and stumbling through the lobby.   He bumped directly into the girl with the Vulcan ears who had been leering at him earlier. 

“Gotcha,” she said, pointing a toy laser gun at his stomach and laughing in amusement. 

After he’d gone, Brett turned and saw Deacon Edgewater approach. 

“Hello Armstrong,” Deacon said.  He was an average looking, average-height man dressed in a navy blazer and light blue shirt.  In his early sixties, he was the successful CEO of Double Strike Studios.  Despite his less than dazzling appearance, he was always in the company of beautiful women. 

“Attending some of the exhibits at the convention?” Brett asked. 

“Yes, yes, I am.”   He put his hands in the pockets of his Armani trousers.  “Listen, I hope there are no hard feelings, Armstrong.  About last year when you came to me for a job, I mean.  You seem to be doing quite well though.  I hear The Benefactor is going to be a smash hit.”

“It sure is,” Brett told him.  “What’s Double Strike working on these days?” 

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Deacon answered with a sneer.  “How’s that new director you’re working with?”

“Keaton Hartley,” Brett clarified.  “He’s good.  A little nervous, but good.” 

“Good.  Well, say hello to James for me.  Tell him he’ll be hearing from me soon.  Very soon.” 

Brett nodded and watched him go.  He wondered why the man was being so cryptic.  With some producers in town, it was impossible to tell. 

Keaton Hartley

They found a small storage room in the back of the exhibit hall and locked themselves inside.  Standing in the dimly lit room, the Vulcan girl grinned mischievously while kissing Keaton hard on the lips. 

He hesitated, looking at her warily before suddenly dropping his geeky façade and taking her firmly by the shoulders.  He explored her mouth with his, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a chiseled torso.  He removed his glasses and expertly undressed her.  Beneath his feet, stray papers and empty bags scattered but he didn’t care.  He was caught up in the moment.

“Wow,” the girl said with a surprised grin.  “This is a surprise.  Here I thought you were a science fiction geek like all the other guys here.” 

“Don’t believe everything you see,” he said, pushing her head down and grinning eagerly when she closed her mouth around his dick.

Blackthorne Mansion

“Have you heard from Eddie?” Jane asked as she and Miranda sat in the game room at the mansion. 

Miranda shook her head, her eyes red and puffy from crying.  “Not a word,” she said.  “I think he really hates me, Jane.” 

“No, he does not,” she replied, placing a comforting hand on her arm.   “He’s just angry right now.  He’ll forgive you for the whole thing with Gemma and Hugh Rogers.  Stormy forgave me.”   Even as she said it, she couldn’t stop thinking about the barbaric way Stormy had acted back at Moonshadows, or the underhanded way he’d swindled Brett’s shares from him.  

“It’s not just about that,” Miranda explained.  “Eddie isn’t Tiger’s father.  David is.  I don’t think Eddie will ever be able to forget that.” 

“You have to give him time,” Jane said.  “He’ll probably call tomorrow.  Or in a few days.  You’ll see.” 

Miranda shook her head sorrowfully just as Stormy entered the room.    They both looked up at him and grew silent.  

“Hi,” he said.  “Miranda, has there been any word about Brooke?” 

“There’s no change,” she told him.  “Daddy and Ethan are still with her at the hospital.” 

“I might stop by and see if there’s anything I can do.  Jane, can I talk to you first?” 

“I don’t think there’s anything to talk about,” she replied, barely making eye contact with him. 

Miranda looked up.  “Wait a minute. What’s going on with you two?” 

“Nothing,” Stormy said and shook his head.  “Jane, I’m sorry for what I said.  Can we just talk for a minute?” 

“I have to go,” Jane said and flew up from the sofa with her purse.  “Miranda, I’ll call you tonight.” 

Realizing it was futile to try to stop her, Stormy watched as she flew out of the room and down the hall to the foyer.   

“Have you heard from Eddie?” he asked Miranda once they were alone.

She ignored his question.  “Never mind that.  What’s going on with you and Jane?  I thought things were good between you two.” 

“They were,” he said, then was quick to add, “until I ran into her and Brett talking at Moonshadows.” 

“Brett?” 

“I don’t know what they were talking about, but I know Brett.  It’s no coincidence that he starts sleeping with Kelly and then the next thing I know he’s trying to put the moves on Jane.  He’s trying to get to me.” 

Miranda stood up and threw her hands into the air in resignation.  “I can’t handle this,” she said.

“What?”

“Are you seriously going to do this again?” she demanded.  “You’ve let Brett come between you and girls before, but this time you’re really acting like an idiot.” 

“Excuse me?” he asked defensively.  “I think his record proves that I’ve been right to be suspicious of him.”

“Of Brett, yes.  But not of Jane.  She loves you, Stormy.  When are you going to just be happy with that?”

“I am, I just-“ 

“No, you’re looking for problems just like you always do.  Well this time you may have created one yourself.  Things could be a lot worse, you know.  Look at me and Eddie.  I pushed and I pushed until he decided he’d had enough.  Now where is he?  Do yourself a favor and don’t do the same thing with Jane.  At least one of us should be happy.” 

Before he could respond, she was flying out the door with the baby monitor in hand.   Sighing, he realized she had a point.  But he couldn’t help but feel that whenever Brett was involved, he had to be on guard. 

Mason Stone

Mason hung back near the intensive care unit and watched as James, Ethan and Kyle paced the waiting room.   

“What are you doing?” came a voice from behind. 

He jumped, turning when he realized it was Chip.  “I just came by to check on Brooke Taylor,” he answered. 

Chip frowned.  “You’re awfully concerned about her.  What gives?” 

He shrugged.  “Just being neighborly.  Kyle Fenwick is a good guy.”

They both turned when they heard commotion in the waiting room.  Dr. Farraday had emerged and was addressing the others.   Quickly, they stepped closer so they could hear. 

“We’ve got the tox screen back,” Farraday was saying.  “It shows traces of arsenic poisoning.” 

“Arsenic?” James exclaimed.  “How on earth-?”

“It’s coming from the water supply at Moonshadows,” he went on.  “The environmental team we sent out earlier today found traces of it.  It’s the same compound that killed Mr. De La Cruz and got the construction worker sick.” 

“Where is it coming from?” Kyle asked in a panic. 

“More importantly,” Ethan interrupted, “can you save Brooke before she dies too?” 

“Now that we know what we’re dealing with, yes,” Farraday told him. “We’ve administering a chelating agent through their I.V.’s.  We should see some improvement relatively soon.” 

“Thank God,” James said. 

“If the arsenic is in the water at Moonshadows, then why isn’t everyone sick?” Kyle asked.  “I feel fine.” 

Farraday shrugged.  “It varies depending on how much exposure a person has to the chemical.  A glass here and there is no big deal, but when it’s every day it can build up.  Do you drink bottled water or tap?” 

“Bottled,” Kyle said.  “Brooke doesn’t like bottles because she says it’s bad on the environment.  She’s constantly filling her thermos with water.” 

“I thought the drinking water at Moonshadows was filtered,” Ethan said. 

“It is,” Kyle said. 

“That just means that the problem started in the drinking water,” Farraday told them.

Kyle ran his fingers through his hair as he turned in frustration.  “We’ve got an entire convention going on this weekend.  Not to mention the employees.   God, what if more people get sick?” 

Out in the hall, Chip turned to Mason and saw him break out into a cold sweat.  “Are you okay?” he asked.  “You don’t look good.” 

Mason shook his head and backed up a step.  “I’m fine,” he said in a panic.  

Jordan Rydell

Jordan knocked on the door of Alex’s penthouse and made his way inside when she opened it. 

“Do you mind telling me what happened earlier today?” he asked.  “I mean, I ask you for help and you run off like a lunatic.” 

“I’m sorry,” Alex said, floating across the room while wringing her hands together.  “I thought I could help but I just can’t.” 

“Can’t or won’t?” 

“What?”

“This is just your way of sticking it to me for turning you away after Benji died, isn’t it?”

Alex shook her head.  “Jordan, no.  Of course not.  I just don’t think I can be of any help.  Whoever killed Elana and is trying to kill your mother and everyone else is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.”

Frustrated, he ran his fingers through his hair and turned.  “You remembered something today,” he told her.  “I saw it in your eyes.” 

“Not about this,” she revealed.  “I was thinking about something else.  Something that has nothing to do with this maniac.”  

Jordan looked at her warily.  “What was it?” he asked.  “What was it that you remembered?  If it wasn’t about this then what’s got you so upset?  You’ve been like this since you came back from Monte Carlo with James.”

“It’s nothing,” she said and turned her back to him. 

“Did something happen between you and James?  Did you sleep together in Monaco?” 

Alex made a face and turned back toward him. “No, of course not.  Don’t be ridiculous.  This has nothing to do with James.  I’ve just been reminded a lot lately of when I first came to Hollywood.”

“And?”

“And nothing,” she said.  “I’m just nostalgic, that’s all.” 

He sighed and went to the door.  “Just let me know if you think of anything that might help in the investigation.  As usual the police force is a bunch of inept morons.” 

“I will,” she said and managed a smile as he closed the door.    Wrapping her arms around herself, she walked across the room in deep thought.  She didn’t know why she’d started thinking of those days all of the sudden, but it was weighing heavily on her. 

Brett Armstrong

As the sun began to set, Brett realized he was going to have no luck in wrangling Nathan back to the set to finish the day’s filming.  It seemed that he, along with Victor and Jack, had been coerced into staying for the Questicon banquet and costume party. 

“We’re just going to mingle with the fans for a bit,” Nathan told him.  “Think of it as good P.R. for the movie.” 

“There won’t be a movie if we don’t stay on our filming schedule,” Brett cautioned him.

“Relax, Brett,” Nathan said and placed a hand on his shoulder.  “We’ll tack the scenes on to tomorrow night’s shoot.  I’ve got it down.  Trust me.  One take and we’re done.  You wouldn’t deny an old fellow a night out with his fans, would you?”  

Brett groaned in frustration as he watched Nathan venture off to the ballroom.   As he turned, he saw Stormy approaching swiftly.

“Look, save your breath,” Brett said in a proactive effort to stave off his tantrum over production schedules.   “We’ll get the scene shot.  It just may not be today.” 

“There might not be any scenes to shoot,” Stormy said and thrust a document at him. 

“What’s this?” Brett asked while giving it a quick scan. 

“I just came from the studio,” Stormy explained.  “We’re being sued.” 

“By who?” Brett demanded angrily.

“Deacon Edgewater,” he replied.  “He claims he optioned the rights to The Benefactor four years ago when you were still in charge. According to him and his lawyers, Sunset Studios no longer has legal right to the film.  It belongs to Double Strike Studios.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”  Brett immediately began thumbing through the petition.  “This can’t be happening.”

“It’s happening.  And just like I’ve been saying for years, you have no idea what you’re doing.  How could you have let this happen?  I mean, my father must have seriously been impaired from those drugs you were giving him, because he actually let a con man run his studio for him.” 

“Would you just shut up so I can think?” Brett asked.  He now understood the cryptic remarks Deacon had said earlier.  At the time, he had no idea he had something like this up his sleeve.   “This says we have to appear in front of a judge to decide if we can continue production.” 

“Face it, Brett” Stormy began.  “Your luck has finally run out.  All the underhanded tricks you can conjure up aren’t going to get us out of this one.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  You are the biggest disaster to ever happen to this family.” 

Fuming, Brett looked away in concentration.  He had to do something.  He wasn’t about to be the cause of everything going to hell. 

Moonshadows

The organizers of Questicon spared no expense in the setup of the ballroom at Moonshadows for the costume gala.  Black draping dotted with LED stars lined the walls.  There were black and silver table linens complete with celestial centerpieces, and a giant replica of the Rancor from Return of the Jedi hovering from the ceiling at the front of the room. 

Eager Questicon attendees began slowly arriving long before the gala started, lining up at the door and securing their seats at their tables.  Nathan, Victor and Jack gathered in the service hallway behind the ballroom planning their surprise appearance. 

“I think we should come out serving the first course,” Jack suggested while nursing a drink from the bar. 

“What?” Victor exclaimed.  “And be mistaken for a waiter?  I think not.” 

“I know,” Nathan said.  “We convince some of those Cylons to let us use their costumes and go out in disguise.”  

“Too confining,” Victor said, dismissing the idea.  “Have you ever put one of those on before?  They’re positively claustrophobic.” 

“True,” Jack agreed.  “Since that debacle in Acapulco during filming of House of Palms, I can’t stand confined spaces.”  

Nathan took a flask from his pocket and topped off his drink.  “Okay, okay,” he said.  “Something more subdued then.   What does a guy have to do to get a splash of soda around here?” 

“Where’s that bartender?” Victor asked and looked around the hall. 

“We’ll go find him,” Nathan said.  “Jack, you wait here and don’t let anyone find out about our little surprise.” 

He and Victor left while Jack remained, peering into the ballroom through the partially opened door.  A sound from behind caught his attention and he quickly turned only to find the corridor empty. 

As he started to turn back again, he heard muffled laughter.  His head snapped back around and scanned the hall. 

“Hello?” he asked, stepping tentatively down the deserted corridor.  “Who’s there?” 

Again the only response was more laughter.  Tiny, child-like sounds coming from an unknown source.  He could hear it getting closer the further he walked.  Eventually he stopped when he came to the door to what appeared to be a store room.  His face turned white with panic when he saw a photograph taped to the outside. 

“Natalie,” Jack whispered as he looked at the photo of Natalie Davidson.  Images of the night she fell overboard his yacht plagued him.  Whoever was taunting him knew about that night and knew that Jonas and Vaughan had covered it up. 

“Where are you, you bastard?’ he called out, scanning the hallway up and down. 

Turning back to the door, he placed his hand on the knob and braced himself.  After counting to ten, he pulled the door open, expecting the perpetrator to be inside the store room.  But to his dismay, it was empty except for a few stray items.   Frowning, he bent down to inspect them.   An empty bag from a Halloween costume, a pair of scissors, and a stack of photographs. 

Gasping, he stood up.  The killer had been there, he realized.  He'd used used that room to plot whatever he was going to do that night.  Fear welled up in his throat and he turned. 

The last thing he saw was the black, faceless presence before him.  Red, glowing eyes bore down on him from beneath a hooded robe.  He opened his mouth to scream but it was too late.  The knife plunged into his stomach and he slumped slowly to the floor in a pool of blood. 

Moonshadows

“Do you want to tell me what’s got you so jumpy?” Chip asked when he showed up at Mason’s cabana.

“What are you talking about?”  Mason asked, trying his best to hide the duffel back full of clothes he’d stashed next to the sofa.

“Back at the hospital,” Chip clarified.  “You were acting like you were guilty as hell.  Mason, tell me you didn’t do something you’re going to regret.” 

He turned and ran a hand over his face.  “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.” 

“What wasn’t supposed to happen?” Chip followed him across the room and that’s when he saw the duffel bag.  Resting on top was his passport and airline tickets.  “Wait a minute.  Where are you going?  Are you leaving?” 

“I have to,” he replied.  “I have no choice.”

“What the hell did you do?”

Fighting his emotions, Mason began pacing the room.  “I put the arsenic in the water,” he confessed.

“Oh Jesus,” Chip muttered. 

“No one was supposed to die,” he went on.  “It was such a small amount that all it was supposed to do was show up on the environmental reports the state runs every year on coastal properties.” 

“Mason, what are you talking about?”

“The resort would have been shut down and it would have gotten a reputation for bad water so it would have only been a matter of time before Renee DeWitt and Brooke Taylor had to sell it.  It was the only way to get at the oil.” 

“A man is dead,” Chip said.  “Jesus, do you have any idea what you’ve done?” 

“I know!” Mason yelled.  “I didn’t plan on anyone even getting sick.  Until Brooke Taylor landed in the hospital I didn’t think anything of it.  Jesus, Chip, what am I going to do?” 

“You can’t leave,” he responded.  “Not now.  What if more people die?” 

“They won’t.  They know what it is now.”

“And you better hope they don’t trace it back to you.  Where did you get your hands on arsenic anyway?” 

Mason put a hand over his face.  “From this crazy old man back in the sticks in New York.  Look, it’s not important.  You can’t tell anyone.  I’ll check out and no one will see me again.” 

“You have to check out anyway,” Chip said.  “Haven’t you heard?”

“Heard what?”

Kyle Fenwick

“Kyle!” his secretary, Marcia shouted as he barreled into the administration building at Moonshadows.   “How is Brooke?” 

“She’s stable,” he told her in a panic.  “Look, something’s happened.  The resort could be in jeopardy if-“ 

“Kyle, there’s two men here from the EPA waiting for you,” Marcia interrupted.  “They’ve been looking through our guest files.” 

“What?”

Just as he turned, a man in a white coat approached.  “Kyle Fenwick?”

“Yeah.”

“Agent Randolph from the EPA,” he said and showed him his identification.

“What’s going on?” Kyle asked, watching as more men in coats began piling into the building. 

“Moonshadows is being shut down by order of the California Department of Health and Human Services,” he said. 

“You can’t do that!” Kyle exclaimed. 

“We have orders,” he explained.  “You’re going to have to clear this entire resort within an hour.  Everyone has to check out.  They don’t have to go home but they can’t stay here.” 

Kyle turned in frustration just as Marcia came running back over. 

“Kyle!”

“What now?” 

“They found a body,” she said in a panic.  “Someone was stabbed over in the hotel by the ballroom.” 

Kyle looked at her blankly.  “You have got to be kidding me.” 

Nathan Blackthorne

Chaos had erupted in the ballroom.  Nathan and Victor returned from the bar and gazed down the service hall at Jack’s bloodied body lying lifelessly on the ground.  A team of police detectives were on the scene, taping off the area as uniformed officers tried to keep people away from the evidence. 

“What happened?” Keaton asked when he approached them from behind. 

“Jesus,” Stormy said when he and Brett returned from the lobby.  “Is that Jack Childers?” 

“I’m afraid so,” Nathan said sorrowfully.  “It appears our stalker has struck again.” 

“Did anyone see what happened?”  Brett asked, still clutching the legal papers from Deacon Edgewater. 

“We only left him for a few minutes,” Victor announced. 

Stormy looked around the area, alarmed when he saw people being ushered out of the room by men in white lab coats.    “What now?” 

“They’re closing the place down,” Keaton said.  “I just heard someone talking about it.  Arsenic poisoning or something.”  

“Damnit, why isn’t Vaughan here?”  Nathan asked under his breath.  He looked at Keaton.  "I thought you went back to the studio?"

“I think they found something,” Victor interrupted and watched as the detectives emerged from the storage room with a plastic bag containing a pair of black framed glasses.   “Evidence, perhaps?” 

Nathan looked at the glasses and then turned to Keaton, noticing he wasn’t wearing his.  He’d never seen him without his glasses.

Just then, Denise Syswicki approached them.  "Did you hear?" she asked.  "They arrested somebody outside.  They think it's the killer."  


Next time....

Brett must pull off the ultimate con to save Sunset Studios.  

 

 

Read Episode 154

 Visit our Forum to Leave your Comments and Feedback

Read about this episode in this week's BLOG

 

 


 Home    Episodes    Cast    On Location    The Insider    Forum  

 Contact the webmaster: mailto:admin@theblackthornes.com

 Copyright(c) 2005-2018 Sunset Studios. All rights resrved