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.
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
When Dr. Farraday emerged from the
intensive care unit, the three of them rushed over to hear what he had to
“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
“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
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.
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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
“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
“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,
Kyle squeezed her hand. “Mr. De La Cruz didn’t make it,” he told her.
Brooke’s eyes flashed open wide with
“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?
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
“Whoa,” Chip said and stopped him
with his hands. “What spooked you all
“Nothing,” Mason said irritably and
shrugged away from. “And let go of me. I
told you I’m not interested in
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?”
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,
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
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.
Special Appearance by Nathan Blackthorne
of The Benefactor
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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
“Hi,” she said with a flirtatious
“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
“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
The audience stood and applauded as
Nathan took to the podium on stage.
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,”
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
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
“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
“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
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.”
what?” Alex asked, clueless as to what they were talking about.
you were right,” George said and handed him a hundred dollar bill. “Here’s your
be such a sore loser, George,” Deacon said and pocketed the crisp bill.
me,” Alex interrupted. “Would somebody
tell me what’s going on?”
a friendly wager,” Robert replied.
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….?”
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.”
didn’t?” George asked incredulously.
“What’s in the portfolio?
tried to stop him from grabbing the leather case she’d bought at a thrift store
a few days before. “Hey, wait a second!”
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
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.
us, Alex,” Robert said, baiting her.
“What makes you different from all the other girls who parade themselves
around these parties every night?”
very talented,” she said, trying to maintain a stiff upper lip.
doesn’t always pay the bills,” George said with a wink and a nudge. “Come home with me sometime and then we’ll
pulled away, mortified by his lewd suggestion.
“No thank you,” she said. “I
think I’ll try my luck at using my talent instead.”
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.”
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
“Alex, are you okay?” Jordan
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
“I always knew she was an odd
woman,” Lola said and stubbed her cigarette out on the floor.
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
“Hello?” he called out while
stepping tentatively into the building.
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
“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
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
“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
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.
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
“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?”
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
“You don’t have to be here, James,”
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
“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
“What’s wrong with her?” Kyle
exclaimed. “What happened?”
“I don’t know,” James said. “One minute we were talking and the
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 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
“It’s a moon rock!” Michael
retorted. “I found it by the
garden. How do you think it got
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!"
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
Michael stared at her in confusion,
then took off toward the house. “Okay,
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
“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
“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!”
“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
“Oops, I guess I did,” Miranda said
with a smile before turning and walking back up to the house.
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
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
“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
“That’s an understatement,” she
said. “Just not a sci-fi fan, I
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.”
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
“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?”
“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
“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
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
Nathan smiled as politely as he
could. “I’m sorry, I don’t
remember.” He pointed to another young
“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
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
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.
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
“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
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
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
“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
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.
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.
“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,
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Nothing,” Stormy said and shook his
head. “Jane, I’m sorry for what I
said. Can we just talk for a
“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
“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.”
“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.
“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
“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 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
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
“We’ve got the tox screen back,”
Farraday was saying. “It shows traces of
“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
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 or won’t?”
“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
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
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 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.
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
“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
“By who?” Brett demanded
“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
“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
Fuming, Brett looked away in
concentration. He had to do
something. He wasn’t about to be the
cause of everything going to hell.
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
“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.
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.
“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
“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
“A man is dead,” Chip said. “Jesus, do you have any idea what you’ve
“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
“You have to check out anyway,” Chip
said. “Haven’t you heard?”
“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.”
Just as he turned, a man in a white
coat approached. “Kyle Fenwick?”
“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.
is being shut down by order of the California Department
of Health and Human Services,” he
“You can’t do that!” Kyle
“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.
“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.”
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
“What happened?” Keaton asked when
he approached them from behind.
“Jesus,” Stormy said when he and
Brett returned from the lobby. “Is that
“I’m afraid so,” Nathan said
sorrowfully. “It appears our stalker has
“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
“Damnit, why isn’t Vaughan
here?” Nathan asked under his
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.
then, Denise Syswicki approached them. "Did
you hear?" she asked. "They arrested
somebody outside. They think it's the killer."
pull off the ultimate con to save Sunset Studios.
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