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Episode 154


Release Date:  October 18, 2011

 Read the episode Recap 




Mackenzie grew angry when Ethan blew her off to be at Brooke's side.  Arsenic was found in the water supply at Moonshadows.  Mason revealed to Chip that he planted it there.  Moonshadows was closed due to the bad water.  Lola gave Cecily Davidson an acting lesson.  Brett learned that Deacon Edgewater was suing Sunset Studios for the rights to The Benefactor.  Quinn Rainer faked Magnum's disappearance when their father left them penniless.  Benji snitched on Joba Branigan's drug operation and framed Hunt Roberts for it.  Nathan, Victor and Jack attended Questicon at Moonshadows.  A masked figure killed Jack and left a photograph of Natalie Davidson, the woman he accidentally pushed overboard his yacht years before.  Stormy saw Denise from archives having a meltdown over her failed acting career. Keaton, dropping his geeky act, had sex with a Questicon attendee in a storage room at Moonshadows.   Nathan later noticed that his glasses were left in the room where the killer's things were found.  Denise claimed that the police arrested someone for the murder.  



Episode 154

"The Wrath of Con"


Beneath the full moon, shadows danced across the pavement.  The wind carried voices and the sounds of laughter as Questicon attendees, still in costume, flitted about the parking lot at Moonshadows.  In the distance, a light saber battle commenced, its subjects jumping atop cars and flipping in and out of crevasses with their glowing swords.

Another group of overzealous science fiction fans acted out the evening’s events with morbid glee.   As a young man in a star pilot uniform fell to the asphalt, another hovered above him while wearing a helmet and a plastic knife in hand. 

“Please no!” the pilot cried.  “You can’t kill me!  Who will save the galaxy?” 

“No one can save us now,” the guy with the helmet replied in a deep baritone and went through the motions of stabbing the pilot in the stomach.

Raucous cheers and laughter exploded through the night, incensing Stormy as he made his way through the parking lot.  Behind him, a small group had assembled; anxious to find out whom the person was that had been arrested for Jack’s murder.

“Over there,” Denise said and pointed across the crowded parking area.

“Officer!” Nathan shouted as they neared a gathering of policemen.  “Officer, tell me you found the person responsible for this horror!”

“Nathan, let them do what they need to do,” Brett said and held him back.

When the police officers parted, they were surprised to find Jordan standing in handcuffs, an ambiguous expression on his taut face.  In the officer’s hand was a plastic evidence bag containing a Halloween costume.  In another was a bloody dagger.

“Jordan,” Victor exclaimed, looking around in wonderment.  “What on earth?” 

Stormy addressed the police.  He’s the one you arrested for Jack’s murder?” 

“We found him trying to flee the hotel with these,” he said and held up the evidence bags.  “What do you think he was doing with them?”

They all looked at him while waiting for an explanation. 

“You idiots, I found the costume and knife,” Jordan told them, twisting in the handcuffs that bound his arms behind his back.  “I was walking from my car to the hotel and I saw something in the bushes.”  He pointed a few hundred feet away to a line of shrubs.  “I went to investigate and that’s when Barney Fife here branded me the candy man.” 

“Convenient story,” the lead officer said.

“Officer, you can’t honestly believe Jordan would have had anything to do with this,” Nathan said.  “The man’s own mother has been a target of this lunatic.” 

“We can’t overlook anything,” the policeman said. 

“I’ll take over from here,” said Detective Rodriguez when he arrived on the scene.  He removed the handcuffs from Jordan and sent the other officers away.  “Mr. Rydell, a word?” 

Jordan followed him away from the crowd.  “Look, I don’t care how it looked.  I only came here because I heard about Nathan’s appearance at the convention.  I thought the killer might try something.” 

“And you thought you could take him or her down yourself?” Rodriguez asked. 

“It’s a hell of a lot more than you’re doing.  Two people are dead.  Whoever’s doing this has made it very clear who his intended victims are.  That means only three are left, and one of them is my mother.”

“I know you’re worried about your mother,” Rodriguez told him.  “But you’ve got to let me do my job.  I’ve got this handled.” 

“You do not have it handled.  Otherwise Jack Childers wouldn’t be on a stretcher on his way to the morgue right now.” 

Rodriguez looked at him crossly.  “You know, maybe all this concern of yours is just a cover,” he began.  “Maybe you are the killer and you’re just doing a very convincing job of hiding it.” 

“Is that an accusation?”

“It would be clever of you to just be pretending to be helping me.” 

Jordan shook his head irritably.  “Look, Detective, I didn’t kill anybody.  You say you want me to let you do your job, so do it.  Otherwise I’m going to continue with my own investigation.” 

Rodriguez sighed with resignation.  “Be at my office tomorrow morning at ten.  Maybe if we put our heads together we can figure out who he plans on targeting next.” 

He walked away and left Jordan standing alone.  Across the lot, Nathan and Victor exchanged harried glances.

“Looks like we’re a rare breed these days,” Nathan said to him.  “Jordan’s idea of hiring a bodyguard for Lola doesn’t seem like such a bad idea now.” 

“I quite agree,” Victor said. 

“Has anyone seen Keaton?” Stormy asked. 

Nathan shook his head.  He still thought it was odd that his glasses were suddenly missing just as the police found a pair identical to them in a storage room inside the hotel.  He wondered what the young director was hiding. 

Stormy saw Brett turn to leave and quickly went after him.  “Slinking off before you have to answer for your screw up?” he asked.  “We still have to deal with this lawsuit from Deacon Edgewater.” 

“I’ll take care of it,” he replied.  “Trust me.” 

Stormy sighed with exasperation.  Trusting Brett Armstrong was the last thing he ever thought he would have to do.  “Where are you going?” 

“To the hospital,” he replied.  “Jack Childers is dead and the only next of kin he had is Ashton, and he’s in a coma.  Someone’s got to help get his affairs in order.” 

Stormy sighed as he watched him go.  He hoped that they got this lawsuit mess cleared up before his father found out.  With as much as they had riding on this film, much of the weight rested on his shoulders. 

Kyle Fenwick

Inside the hotel, Kyle watched helplessly as mass exodus occurred in the lobby.  Guests departed in droves, staff evacuated, and tables in the restaurants were left with full plates of food still eerily present.  He ran his fingers through his hair and turned just as Mackenzie approached. 

“Not now,” he told her.  “I don’t think I can handle another one of your sisterly lectures. Especially tonight.”

“If you’re expecting me to tell you how everything you touch turns into a disaster, I won’t,” she said.  “It was implied.”

“What are you doing here, anyway?”

“I had a night to myself so I came in for a drink.  Why aren’t you at the hospital with Brooke?” 

“Because somebody’s got to be here,” he replied.  “We’ve already been threatened with four lawsuits by people claiming they’re experiencing symptoms of arsenic poisoning.  I expect that to quadruple by morning.” 

“So you just left James and Ethan at Brooke’s beside?” Mackenzie asked.  “Little brother, have you learned nothing?  They all flock to her.  Turn your back for a minute and she could be on to the next one.  I thought you of all people would realize that.” 

“Thanks for your vote of confidence,” he said with a snarl and walked across the lobby.  He stopped when he spotted Mason approaching. 

“Hey Kyle, I heard about what happened.  Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

“Thanks Mason,” he said.   “Looks like helping me get that variance was all for nothing.  Like there’s ever a chance that marina expansion is going to be finished now.” 

“You don’t know that,” Mason told him.  “This could be a temporary setback.  Do they have any leads on how the arsenic got into the water supply?” 

Kyle shook his head.  “Not yet.  But even if we can get the water cleaned up enough to open again, the lawsuits we’ll be facing will bankrupt us.” 

Mason patted him on the shoulder.  “I hope things don’t get that bad, but if they do, I can help.” 


Mason shrugged, hoping he didn’t sound too eager.  “I can always help find a buyer if Renee DeWitt and Brooke Taylor decide to sell.” 

“A buyer for a resort this size in this economy?  They’ll lose their shirts.” 

“It could be worse.  Just keep me in mind,” Mason said.  “I’m staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the meantime.” 

As he departed, Chip Matthews emerged from La Mirada bar and approached him swiftly.  That was an about face,” he said.

“What do you mean?” Mason asked. 

“An hour ago you were talking about leaving town.  Our plan to buy this place and drill for oil was up in smoke as far as you were concerned.  Now you’re offering to help find a buyer.” 

Mason wrangled him off to the side.  “Look, I feel horrible about that man that died,” he said.  “I really do.  But Brooke and the guy from your crew are going to be fine.  And there’s no way they’re ever going to be able to prove that I put the arsenic in the water.  So why not take advantage of this?  We could be filthy rich in a matter of months, Chip.   One lawsuit from a disgruntled guest and this place is dead in the water.”

“Do you have no scruples?” 

“Yes, but I also learned a long time ago that sometimes opportunities come up that you have to take by the horns if you want to get anywhere.  There were a few snags in the plan, but it’s still on course.  Are you still with me?” 

“A few snags?  A man died because of you.” 

“Think of all that money.”

Chip looked away and contemplated his request.  “Fine,” he said.  “I’ll go along with it.  But I want more than what you were cutting me in for in our original deal.” 

Mason sighed with exasperation.  “How much more?  Five percent?” 

Chip grinned.  “I’m not talking about money.”  He gave him a seductive look up and down and playfully licked his lips.  “You know what I want.” 

Mason laughed in spite of the obvious attempt at blackmailing him for sex.  While their one-time thing a few weeks before hadn’t exactly been torture for him, he wasn’t interested in a repeat.  But if it kept Chip’s mouth shut then he would go along with anything.   After all, he had people he needed to answer to if they didn’t get at the oil as he’d said he would.

Across the lobby, Mackenzie watched them talking.  This wasn’t the first time she saw her ex-husband in a heated discussion with the contractor for the marina expansion.  She began to wonder what Mason was up to this time. 

Ethan Blackthorne

Ethan was standing outside the intensive care unit at the hospital, gazing through the window at Brooke who lay asleep on the bed, tubes and wires attached to her mouth.  When James approached, he began to walk away. 

“Ethan, don’t go,” James said.  “We haven’t finished our conversation.” 

He looked at his uncle with a frown.  “You really want to get into that again now?  Brooke is fighting for her life and you want to continue reaming me for falling for Mackenzie?” 

James dug his hands into his pockets while he looked at him.  “Falling for Mackenzie?  That’s an interesting choice of words.  I mean, you’re here doting over Brooke, who you claim to be over, while Mackenzie is who knows where.” 

“Brooke is the mother of my son,” Ethan insisted.  “Where else would I be?” 

“I just think it proves that you may not be as over Brooke as you claim to be,” James told him.  “Maybe this thing you have going with Mackenzie is all due to your pride being hurt when Brooke chose Kyle over you.” 

Ethan looked back through the window and remained silent.  When he turned to respond, he saw Brett coming toward them.  Happy for the distraction, he called out to him. 

“Brett, what’s going on?” 

James turned and acknowledged him as well.  “Problem with the studio?”

Brett remained silent about the lawsuit.  “No, it’s Jack Childers.  He’s been murdered.” 

“What?” James exclaimed.  “When?  Where?” 

“Just a little while ago at the convention at Moonshadows,” he explained.  “Someone stabbed him and left a picture of Natalie Davidson.”

“Natalie Davison?” James asked.  “What’s going on?  First Elana Hendricks and now Jack?”

“There have been attempts made against Nathan, Victor and Lola too.” 

James processed the information. He’d been so wrapped up in his own problems that he’d barely paid attention to anything else.  “It’s like someone’s trying to get rid of anyone who worked for Sunset Studios.” 

“They arrested Jordan but released him,” Brett told them.  “He’s just as eager to get this maniac locked up as anyone is.” 

James shook his head in bewilderment.  “Ashton,” he said to himself. 

“What?” Ethan asked.

“He’s still in the coma,” James said.  “Jack was here every day with him.  I can’t imagine how devastated that young man will be if we wakes up.  It isn’t fair.” 

“I was going to go talk to Ashton’s doctor,” Brett said.  “They should know what happened.  I figure we may need to help out in some way.” 

“Yes,” James agreed and patted him on the shoulder.  “Thank you, Brett.”

“How is Brooke?” he asked.

“She’s stable,” Ethan said.  “They’re giving her something to counteract the arsenic.” 

“That’s good news,” Brett said.  “It’s chaos at Moonshadows right now.  The whole place is evacuating.  I think it’ll be a long time before they can recover from this.” 

After he left, he made is way down to the lower floor and passed by Ashton Childer’s room.  He stopped when he heard a voice from inside.  Peering through the doorway, he saw Blake Distefano sitting in the chair beside the bed.  

“That night should never have happened,” Blake was saying, unaware that he was being watched.  “All we did was try to help Benji and Sierra.  Then a damn drunk driver had to come out of nowhere and ruin everything.” 

He thought about the night he and Ashton had raced up to Mulholland to stop Benji from doing something drastic.  They might have made it if the accident hadn’t happened.  They might have been able to stop Benji from doing what he did. 

“It isn’t fair,” he continued.  “It isn’t fair that you’re in this hospital or that Benji and Sierra are gone while all the people who hurt them are still out there.” 

Brett felt awkward listening in on Blake’s private thoughts, so he decided to announce his presence. “Blake?”

Quickly, he stood up from the chair and turned, wiping a tear from his eye.  “Brett, what are you doing here?”

“I came to talk to Ashton’s doctor,” he explained.  “His father was killed tonight.” 

Blake barely reacted to the news.  He turned and looked at Ashton again.  “I should go.” 

Frowning, Brett watched as he made his way out of the room.  Reaching a hand out, he stopped him.  “Blake, wait,” he said, hoping to pick his brain about something else.  “How well do you know that Edgewater kid?”

“Van?” Blake asked.  “Pretty well.  Why?” 

“I need to talk to him.  Do you know where I can find him?”

“I just saw him downstairs in the E.R.  He’s a third year resident.” 

With that, he left the room.  Brett decided if he was going to get anything on Deacon Edgewater that could help fight the lawsuit, he’d have to go straight to those closest to him. 

Mackenzie Stone

“What are you up to?” Mackenzie asked as she sauntered over to Mason in the parking lot at Moonshadows.   There were few cars remaining, and the entire resort had turned deafeningly silent.  “And don’t tell me nothing because I know you, Mason.  We were married for a year, remember?” 

“You’ve always been so suspicious, Mac,” he said, opening the door of his rental car.  “Sometimes when you’re going out for milk, you’re just going out for milk.” 

She looked at him warily.  “If going out for milk means you wind up in bed with the neighbor, then I’ll buy it.  You’re forgetting, I was on to every underhanded move you made back then.  So what are you up to this time?” 

“What makes you think I’m up to something?” 

“I saw you talking to Chip Matthews inside,” she revealed.  “Things looked very intense from where I stood.  How are you involved with him?” 

Mason grew defensive.  “We’re not involved,” he said.  “I can’t talk to people now without my ex-wife getting suspicious of me?  You need to get a life, sweetheart.”

“Does this have anything to do with the marina expansion?” she asked.  “It would certainly explain why you got so chummy with my brother the minute you showed up in town.”

“I happen to like Kyle,” Mason said.  “We have a lot in common.  We’re both sick of you brow beating us to death.  Lighten up, Mac.  Or are you just sore that your boyfriend is still sitting by Brooke Taylor’s side?” 

The remark got the better of her.  She pursed her lips tightly as he got into his car and drove off through the night.  The sad thing was, Mason was right.  She was incensed that Ethan had blown her off for Brooke the last few days.  She decided to give it another day and then have a talk with him.  She had no intention of coming in second to anyone for any man. 

Kyle Fenwick

Once the last person had left Moonshadows, Kyle realized there was nothing more he could do for the time being, so he returned to the hospital to check on Brooke.  As he entered through the main doors from the parking area, he ran into Marilee Wells-Walker.  She looked away and attempted to skirt past him. 

“Marilee, wait,” he said and tried to stop her.  “What are you doing here?” 

“I came to check on Brooke,” she said.  “If you’ll excuse me, I have nothing to say to you.”  

“Please, don’t go,” Kyle said.  “I know how much I hurt you and I can’t tell you how sorry I am.  I never meant for you to assume I was your son.” 

Finally, she turned back to him and glared.  “What was I supposed to think when you show up in town claiming to be Will Thomerson’s son?” she asked.  “Born the same year I gave my baby up for adoption?  The worst part is you let me believe it for months.” 

He swallowed hard.  “I know and I regret that.  I regret everything I did when I first came to town.  You have to believe that.”  

“I don’t know what to believe,” Marilee said, running her fingers down her hair, now longer and colored a warm shade of auburn.  “I only hope Brooke knows what she’s getting into with you.  If you hurt her-“

“I’m not going to hurt her,” he cut her off.  He waited a few awkward moments before continuing.  “Have you searched for the son that you gave up?”

She looked away, the pain evident in her eyes.  “Yes.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I really have to go.” 

Kyle watched as she raced from the hospital to her car.  He did hate what he did to her.  He had to prove to everyone that he wasn’t the lying opportunist he was when he first got there two years ago.  And if Brooke found out about how he got the variance for the marina, and about David’s experimental surgery, that was going to be difficult to do. 

Brett Armstrong

From his days running cons, Brett was no stranger to getting around hospitals when he needed to.   Once, he and his former partners, Devon and Bailey, pulled a scam to steal fifty large from a dying socialite.  It had worked, and they blew the money at the roulette table in Reno, a mistake he chalked up to his youth and inexperience with large sums of money.

Feigning stomach pains, he admitted himself to the emergency room.  He knew they were backlogged with patients, most of whom were paranoid former guests of Moonshadows who wanted a comprehensive check to make sure they hadn’t acquired arsenic poisoning.  Luckily, Van Edgewater, the twenty-four year-old son of Deacon Edgewater, was one of only three residents on staff. 

As instructed, he took off his shirt and sat down on the exam table.  Van approached and began to examine him. 

“How long have you been having pains?” he asked, pressing on his stomach.

“A few days,” Brett told him.  “I didn’t think anything of it until I heard about people getting sick at that resort.  I eat there almost every day.” 

“Any fainting or dizzy spells?”


“Any trouble breathing?” 

Brett shook his head, making an obvious show of reading his name badge. “No,” he said. “You’re Van Edgewater?  Deacon Edgewater’s son?” 

“That’s right,” Van said and listened to his heartbeat through the stethoscope.  “Do you know my old man?” 

“Sort of,” Brett said, happy to have the conversation steer to his intentions.  “I work in the business and we’ve crossed paths.  He’s very famous.  You must get recognized a lot.” 

Van laughed.  “Unfortunately.”

“You don’t seem very thrilled about it.” 

He shrugged.  “It has its perks.  He got me admitted early to medical school so I could skip all the B.S.”

Brett recalled the time Benji and Blake got into some kind of trouble and Van botched some stitches he administered to Blake after an incident with a gun.   This was the youth of America?

“Still, it must be kind of exciting having such a mega producer for a father,” Brett went on.  “You had to have had the perfect life.” 

“Get serious,” Van said and checked in his ears with a small pen light.  “He was drunk for the better part of it.  Always on and off the wagon.”

“Really?” Brett asked.  He couldn’t remember ever hearing about Deacon’s drinking problem.  Then again, he probably did a good job of hiding it.  He wondered if he could somehow use it against him.  “Where is he now? On or off?”

“On,” Van said after thinking for a few seconds.  “Even when he’s not drinking he hangs out every night at the Dresden.  Sober.  Until something happens that pushes him over the edge again.” 

“Like what?” 

“Jesus, I don’t know,” Van said and handed him his shirt.  “Anytime the wind blows the wrong way he goes back to the bottle.  Doesn’t make the best decisions when that happens, either.  I got two half sisters and a brand new Porsche after the last one.”

Brett got up and started to put his shirt back on.  Yes, he could definitely use this to his advantage. 

“You seem fine,” Van told him.  “I’ll have a nurse draw some blood to find out if you’ve been exposed to arsenic.  Results should come back in three days.”

“Thanks,” Brett said and watched him walk away.  While the coast was clear, he darted off through the emergency room.  Even if he didn’t hate needles, he didn’t have time to stick around.  He had to save the film from going under. 

Brett Armstrong

The lounge at the Dresden was quiet, subtle lighting emanating from crystal chandeliers, tufted leather booths busy with hushed chatter, and the soothing sounds of a jazz quarter playing in the corner. 

Brett spotted Deacon Edgewater tucked into one of the booths alone, a clear liquid drink in front of him as he chatted casually with the cocktail waitress.  Forming a plan in his mind, he made a nonchalant trail to the booth beside him and slid in.  Once the waitress was gone, he turned and garnered the man’s attention. 

“Deacon?” he said.  “This is a surprise.  Funny running into you twice in one day.” 

Deacon looked at him.  “Armstrong?” 

Brett got out of his booth and joined him in his.  “I was driving by and decided to stop for a drink.  May I join you?” 

“Look, if this is about the lawsuit, I’m under strict orders from my attorney not to communicate with anyone from Sunset Studios.” 

Brett held up a hand in protest.  “I understand.  But I’m honestly not here to discuss any of that.” 

“I should still go,” Deacon said and attempted to leave. 

“Please, don’t,” Brett said and pulled at his arm.  “You really don’t have anything to worry about with me.  I’m nothing but a yes-man to James and Stormy Blackthorne.  They make the decisions.  I do as they say.  I guess when you’re not a Blackthorne you don’t matter.” 

“Isn’t that something?” Deacon said, resting back in his spot.  “Typical of that family to relegate someone of your talent with menial tasks.  No wonder you needed a drink.” 

The waitress came by and placed a napkin on the table.  “What can I get you, handsome?”

Brett calmly ordered a vodka tonic. When she left, he motioned to Deacon’s drink.  “Go ahead,” he said.  “You don’t have to wait for me.” 

Deacon handed him the glass.  “It’s club soda,” he said.  “I don’t drink.  Go ahead.  Have a sip.” 

Brett took in the vapors of the liquid and realized he was telling the truth.  “Actually, I don’t drink either,” he said.  “I shouldn’t even be here.  Today was just such a monumental catastrophe that I found myself getting into my car and stopping at the first bar I came to.” 

“Why’s that?”

“I’m a recovering alcoholic,” Brett told him.  “Been sober for a year.” 

“No kidding?” Deacon asked.  “Nine months for me.”

“Really?” Brett asked with mock surprise.  “Well, what do you know?  Looks like we have something in common.” 

Deacon raised his glass and watched as the waitress returned with Brett’s drink. 

“Actually, can you please take that back and get me a club soda with lime?” Brett asked when she set the drink down in front of him. 

After she left, Deacon looked at him and patted him on the back.  “That took a lot of courage,” he said.  “I’m proud of you, young man.  I know how difficult this industry can get.  To look a drink in the face and turn it down is a respectable thing.  Besides, it would be a shame to throw a year of sobriety out the window.” 

“I know,” Brett said sullenly.  “I should go to a meeting.  It’s been a while.  I just hate going alone.  I feel so vulnerable.” 

“We’ll go together,” Deacon insisted with a firm nod of his head.  “I could use a meeting myself.” 

Brett watched him slide out of the booth.  “Are you sure?”

“You bet I am.  What kind of recovering alcoholic would I be if I let a fellow survivor struggle through this alone?   Come on.  I’ll drive.”

Brett followed him through the bar, relieved that the first part of his plan was well underway. 

Brett Armstrong

The AA meeting revealed that the biggest contentions in Deacon’s sobriety were his shaky post as CEO of Double Strike Studios, and his son’s fondness for getting himself in trouble at every turn.  Most recent were an arrest for possession of pot, disorderly conduct at the Grove, and a near dismissal from UCLA’s medical program for reasons he didn’t reveal.  It seemed that when Van said anything could send his father back to the bottle, he was probably referring to his own actions.  

The next morning, Brett created a fake Facebook account and promptly studied Van’s wall posts.  It became immediately evident that his most prevalent friend, on-line and in the real world, was Joba Branigan.  After doing some research, he discovered that Joba had just been released from prison after spending six months for drug possession with intent to sell.  He remembered that his twin brother, Jeff, had been hit by a car and killed following some party that Benji was at.  Afterwards, the police raided their apartment in the Valley and got Joba on drug charges.  By then he’d already disposed of most of his supply, thus the light sentence. He also found out where he worked. 

“We don’t open till eleven,” said the slightly pudgy young man as Brett knocked on the door of California Taco in Van Nuys.  “Unless you like to eat tacos at nine o’clock in the morning.” 

“Actually, I was hoping to talk to you,” Brett replied.  “You’re Joba, right?” 

“Who’s asking?” he asked, standing inside the small restaurant in an apron and Diesel running shoes with bright green laces.  “You some kinda cop or something?”

Brett laughed.  “Do I look like a cop?” 

“Kinda,” he replied.  “Well, no.  Who are you?”

“I’m a friend of Van’s,” Brett told him.  “He said you could get me some stuff.” 

Joba tried to close the door.  “Sorry, I don’t sell that shit anymore.” 

Brett quickly went to stop the door from closing on him.  “Look, I don’t need much.  Just a bag of weed to get me through the weekend.  I’ve got plenty of money.” 

Joba looked at him through squinty eyes.  “You sure you ain’t a cop, bro?”

“I’m not a cop,” he said.  “Look, do you have anything or not?” 

Joba looked around and motioned for him to enter.  “Wait here,” he said and disappeared in the back.  When he returned a few minutes later he was carrying a large manila envelope.  “How’d you say you know Van?” 

“I didn’t,” Brett said with a grin.  “Just from around.  Sounds like you know him pretty well though.  From what he told me, I mean.” 

Joba drew the blinds on the door and went to a table where he sorted through bags of marijuana.   “I’ve known him forever,” he said.  “We’ve had some crazy times, that’s for sure.” 

“Oh yeah?” Brett said.  “Anything you want to share?” 

Joba laughed.  “No.” 

Brett laughed as well.  “Yeah.  He told me about this one time.  Said his dad would flip if he found out?” 

Joba looked at him with an alarmed expression.  “He told you about that?” 

Too easy, Brett thought to himself.  “Yep.” 

Joba took a fistful of cash from him and produced a plastic bag of weed.  “He says he didn’t know she was only sixteen at the time, but I don’t believe him.” 

“Yeah, but she was a hot piece of ass, I’m sure,” Brett said.  He never got the appeal of young girls.  He appreciated women and all the experience they brought to the bedroom.

“Cecily Davidson?” Joba asked.  “Yeah, I suppose.  If she took her clothes off, I guess.  Her face is bad news though.” 

Brett couldn’t believe it.  Van had sex with an underage girl, who happened to be playing a supporting role in The Benefactor.   “How long ago was this?” 

“Couple years ago,” he replied.  “Before Cecily turned eighteen.  Now she’s dating that tool Magnum Rainer, who hates Van.  I’m sure if he ever found out about what Van did to her, he’d blow a gasket.”

Grinning, Brett finished the transaction with Joba and made his way back out to his car. 

Magnum Rainer

“Who’d you say you were again?” Magnum Rainer asked as he opened the door of his mother’s house in Bel Air.

“Brett Armstrong,” he replied.  “I’m an executive at Sunset Studios.  I wanted to talk to you about Cecily.” 

“Oh.”  Magnum sounded worried.  He stood clear of the door and let Brett enter.  “Is this about The Benefactor?” 

Brett looked around the sparse surroundings.  He knew that Magnum’s father had left some time ago, leaving his mother to support them.  It appeared the only way she knew how to do that was to sell off the family’s priceless antiques, furniture and artwork.  Magnum’s sister Quinn had since married a soldier from Calabasas. 

“How long have you and Cecily been dating?” he asked. 

“Not long.  A few weeks.  Is she okay?  Is she getting fired or something?” 

Brett smiled and shook his head.  “No, but I’m worried about her.  That’s why I came here to talk to you.  I figure since she doesn’t have any family you could talk to her.  Something is really eating away at her.  We can tell in her performance on set.” 

Magnum ran his fingers through his hair.  “She’s been taking those acting classes,” he said.  “She thought it was helping.”  

“It is,” Brett was quick to add.  “But there’s something she isn’t dealing with.  I have a feeling it’s about Van.”

“Van?  What about him?”  Magnum sounded irritated by the mention of his name. 

“Well, I think she ran into him recently because she told me about what happened with him.  A few years ago.  Before she was of age.  I guess she really felt taken advantage of.” 

Magnum glared angrily.  “What the hell happened?  She never told me about anything with Van Edgewater.” 

“Apparently they had a little thing way back when.  I’m surprised she didn’t tell you.” 

Magnum shook his head.  “No, she didn’t tell me.  She knows how I feel about Van.  Ever since he-“   He paused and didn’t continue his thought until a moment later.  “He fucked my mom and that’s why my dad left.  Nice, huh?” 

Holy shit, Brett thought to himself.  And he thought his past was screwed up.  “Well, I just thought maybe you could talk to her,” Brett told him.  “We really want her to succeed in her role.  I know how important it is to her to try to live up to her Aunt Natalie’s reputation in the business.” 

“Yeah,” Magnum said, growing more incensed by the second.  “Thanks for telling me.” 

James Blackthorne

James stopped at the receptionist in the bullpen at the police station.  “I need to see Detective Rodriguez, please.”  

“I’m sorry, he’s with someone right now,” the woman said. 

James looked down the hall and saw the detective through the windows of his office.  When he saw him, he motioned for him to enter.   Quickly, James made his way into the office where Rodriguez and Jordan were gathered. 

“What the hell’s going on?” James asked. 

“We’re having a private meeting,” Jordan told him.  “What are you doing here?” 

“Trying to figure out why two of the top stars of Sunset Studios were murdered and no one felt the need to clue me in to what’s going on.” 

“Mr. Blackthorne, we’re trying to figure that out,” Rodriguez announced. 

“And he’s helping you?” James asked and gestured to Jordan.  “What do you know about any of this?” 

“My mother happens to be one of the intended victims.  Why wouldn’t I be helping the police?” 

“Yeah, well it’s my studio that these people all worked for,” James replied.  “Not to mention the fact that this lunatic has tried killing my uncle.” 

Jordan rolled his eyes.  “Don’t pretend like you care about what happens to Nathan.  You washed your hands of him when we sent him back to prison in Paris.” 

“He also happens to be the star of my movie.  I don’t exactly want to have to stop production when he winds up skewered like Jack was.”  He looked at the detective.  “What are you doing to protect the others?” 

“Since last night we’ve got men watching them at all times,” Rodriguez explained.

“That’s it?”

“We’re also trying to figure out what the killer might have planned next,” he went on.  “Based on the photographs he’s left, he’s either aiming for Lola, Victor or your uncle.” 

James looked at a whiteboard across the room with the names of the two deceased victims scribbled on it.  A line separated the remaining three people who had been targeted unsuccessfully.  He studied each name carefully, searching his mind for a reason why they were being systematically killed.

“Do you think someone has some kind of grudge against them for some reason?" Rodriguez asked.

“And using their past mistakes to taunt them?” Jordan added.

James shrugged.  “It looks that way.” 

“Well who could it be?” Rodriguez asked. 

James shook his head.  “I still think we’re overlooking something.  Someone who’s been at the studio since the beginning.” He searched his memory, recalling everyone who was still employed with Sunset Studios.  There was Suzette in wardrobe, Lenny in makeup, Denise in archives.  “That’s it.” 

“What?” Jordan asked. 

“Denise Syswicki,” James said.  “She’s worked at the studio forever.  Jonas hired her when he decided she wasn't right for appearing in front of the camera."

Rodriguez looked at him and then at Jordan.  “Sounds like she might have some buried feelings of resentment.” 

“She was at Moonshadows last night after Jack was killed,” Jordan said. 

“Denise wouldn’t do something like this,” James insisted.  “She’s worked for the studio for years.”

“But what do you know about her outside of the studio?” Rodriguez asked.

James couldn’t answer him.  He swallowed hard, wondering if maybe Denise was harboring some kind of deep resentment over something. 

“I say we pay Miss Syswicki a visit,” Rodriguez announced. 

Kyle Fenwick

In the waiting room at the hospital, Kyle watched as news of Jack Childers murder, coupled with the closing of Moonshadows, dominated the news channels. 

“Hollywood was rocked last night by another murder of one of its A-list stars,” said the reporter who was staked out just past the entrance to Moonshadows.  “In the second vicious murder in less than a week, authorities are reportedly left baffled by the brutality of the killings.  The latest, renowned actor Jack Childers, was apparently stabbed to death during a costume gala held here at the Moonshadows hotel and resort.  Police aren’t saying if this latest murder is connected to Elana Hendricks, who was found strangled to death in a darkened set where she starred in the daytime soap opera, The Young at Heart, but sources close to the investigation claim the killer leaves a photograph with each victim.  The murder coincided with Moonshadows being shuddered due to reports of arsenic being found in the water supply.  No word yet on when the popular resort will reopen.” 

Frustrated, Kyle turned off the television and spun around angrily.  “This is a nightmare,” he said to the EPA agent who stood by.  “Look, you’ve got to do something.  Every day that Moonshadows is closed we lose money.  Not to mention the hundreds of employees who aren’t getting paid.” 

“There’s nothing we can do until we find the source of the arsenic,” the agent told him.

“Well when will that be?” 

He shrugged.  “There’s no way to tell.  It could be days, weeks, or months.” 

“Months?” Kyle exclaimed.  “You can’t close us down for months.  We’ll lose the place if that happens.” 

“We’re taking this very seriously, Mr. Fenwick,” the agent claimed.  “It’s not safe for anyone to be anywhere near that resort right now.”

“So what are we supposed to do in the meantime?”

“There’s nothing you can do but wait,” Randolph replied before turning and walking away. 

Kyle sighed with aggravation.  He turned just as a young Latin American woman entered the waiting room.   Her eyes were glossy and she wore no makeup.  Immediately, she moved toward him. 

“Are you Kyle Fenwick?” she asked.

“Yes.  Do I know you?” 

She pulled her purse tight over her shoulder.  “They told me I could find you in here,” she began.  “I’m Jessica De La Cruz.  My father was Marco De La Cruz.  I believe he was staying at your hotel.” 

Kyle looked down and nodded in despair.  “Yes, he was.  Miss De La Cruz, I’m so sorry about your father.  I spent some time with him while he was here in the hospital.  He was a very kind man.” 

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” she said sadly. 

“I thought he didn’t have any family,” Kyle said.

She looked away.  “We fell out of touch over the last few years.  We didn’t agree on much.”  She ran a hand over her stomach.  “I found out I was pregnant and I decided to reach out to him.  But by then it was too late.” 

“I’m so sorry.  I’m sure he would have loved to know his grandchild.” 

“What happened?” the young woman asked.  “The doctors said he was poisoned.  I don’t understand.  Who would want to hurt my father?” 

Kyle shook his head. “It was unintentional.  Arsenic was found in the water supply at the resort.  We’re not sure how it got there.  It’s what got your father sick.” 

“How could that happen?” she demanded.  “How could you let that happen?”

Her outburst surprised him.   “Like I said, it was unintentional.  We were just as shocked when they found the arsenic as anyone was.”

“But you should have known something was wrong!” she exclaimed.  “If you were running the place you should have known!  Now my father is dead because you let this happen!” 

Kyle closed his eyes.  “I didn’t let it happen,” he said.  “It was an accident.  Other people got sick too.  I-“

“So that makes it better?   It’s okay that my father died because other people got sick but didn’t die?” 

“I didn’t mean that,” Kyle said.  “I’m sorry.  If I could have fixed this I would have.” 

“My father is dead because of your negligence,” the woman said, backing up to the door.  “How can you sleep at night?”  

Before he could reply, she was flying out of the room in tears.  Kyle barely had a chance to compose himself when Mackenzie entered.   He groaned and turned away from her. 

“As you can see, Mackenzie, I’ve got my hands full, so if you don’t mind-“ 

She ignored him as she walked into the room.  “What is going on between Mason and your contractor?”

Kyle frowned.  “What do you mean?” 

“I mean I’ve seen them together on more than one occasion.” 

“So what?  Mason lived at the resort and Chip worked there.  What’s the big deal?”

“The big deal is that Mason doesn’t do anything without there being a good goddamn reason,” Mackenzie told him.  “He’s up to something, Kyle, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were in on it.” 

“I don’t have time for this,” he said.  “Look, just keep your theories to yourself and worry about your own life.  I’ve got my own problems to take care of.” 

She shook her head with frustration as he stalked out of the room.  Maybe Kyle didn’t know what was going on, but Mason did, and she was determined to find out. 

Brooke Taylor

Michael jumped onto the side of the hospital bed, thrusting the rock he’d found in the garden at Brooke with excitement. 

“Look what Miranda and I found yesterday in the garden!” he exclaimed.  “It’s a moon rock!” 

“Look at that,” Brooke said weakly as she ruffled his hair with her hand.  “That’s very cool, honey.” 

“I’m taking it to school tomorrow to show Adam,” the little boy declared.

Brooke sighed with resignation.  She’d hoped that in the two days she’d been in the hospital things might have gotten better with her son and his imaginary friend.  It seemed her absence, however, had only cemented his need for him.  

“Careful, buddy,” Ethan said.  “Mommy’s still not feeling very good.  Come down off the bed.” 

“It’s okay,” Brooke said and curled her arm around her son.  “I missed this little guy.  Tell me what else you’ve been up to.” 

“Nothing.  Just waiting to go back to school.  I hate the weekends.  I don’t get to play with Adam.”  

Brooke frowned.  “Adam doesn’t play with you at home anymore?” 

He shook his head.  “No.  Only when I’m at school.  He says you and Daddy don’t like him so that’s why he doesn’t come to our house.” 

Brooke looked at Ethan and then managed a smile.  “It’s not that we don’t like Adam, sweetheart.  We just want you to have a lot of friends.  And if you are sad or upset about something, we want you to tell us.” 

Michael nodded while looking at the rock.  “Mommy, when are you coming home?” 

“Soon,” she said.  She did feel much better than she had in days.  Whatever medication they were giving her to counteract the arsenic was apparently working.  She only wished they’d been able to help Mr. De La Cruz before it was too late.

“Go out and wait in the hallway,” Ethan said and helped Michael down from the bed.  “Daddy’s got to talk to Mommy for a few minutes.” 

“Okay, bye Mommy!  I love you!”

“Love you too!” Brooke called after him.   When he’d gone, she lay back against the pillows and sighed.  “I hate what this is all doing to him.  I think I need to take him to see Dr. Podany again.  I think it’s time we tell him that we’re not going to be getting back together.”

Ethan remained tight lipped.

“I just don’t want him to keep holding on to the hope that we’re going to be a family again," she went on.  "You can see what it’s doing to him.”

“Sure,” he said meekly.  “So are you feeling okay?  You had us pretty scared.” 

“I’m better,” she told him.  “Has anyone else gotten sick?” 

“Not so far,” Ethan replied.  “Kyle’s dealing with the EPA.  They still don’t know when Moonshadows will be able to reopen.” 

She hung her face in her hands.  “How is this happening?”

“The good news is the people who were threatening lawsuits were checked out and didn’t have arsenic poisoning,” he said, filling her in. 

“That’s a relief,” Brooke said and ran her fingers through her hair.  She looked at him and noted the sadness in his eyes.  “Are you okay?  You seem kind of….I don’t know…down.” 

“It’s just hard hearing you say that you want to tell Michael his parents aren’t getting back together.  It just seems very final, that’s all.  I thought that-“

“Thought what?”

He shook his head.  He refused to second guess their decisions.  He was moving on.   “You’re with Kyle now.  It doesn’t matter.” 

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy had done everything he could to stall telling any of the cast and crew of The Benefactor that they might have to stop production.  But rather than succumb to Deacon Edgewater’s threats, he decided to go about business as usual. 

The necessary cast was gathered on the set for the control tower.  Among them was Cecily Davidson, who was being coached by Keaton before she stepped in front of the camera.   Stormy and Brett were on opposite sides of the set, ensuring the cinematographer and lighting assistants were prepared for the scene, which they’d moved up a day early as a result of the setback the night before.

During a break just before cameras rolled, Cecily made her way to the craft services table and picked at a bag of popcorn.   From behind, Van Edgewater appeared and pulled her off to the side. 

“Van,” she said with surprise, noting the black eye he was sporting.  “What happened to you?  What are you doing here?”  

“Why did you tell Magnum about us?” he demanded.


“About the night we spent together a few years ago.  He showed up at my door this morning and sucker punched me!”

“I didn’t tell Magnum anything!” Cecily exclaimed.  “Why would I?  That was forever ago.  He and I weren’t even together then.  Why would he care?” 

“Because you were underage when it happened,” he confirmed.  “Jesus, do you have any idea what this could do to my medical career?” 

Just then, two police officers appeared on set, followed by the Sunset Studios security team.  They pointed across the room to Van and quickly approached. 

“Van Edgewater?” one of the officers asked. 

“Yeah?”  He swallowed hard. 

“We have a warrant for your arrest.”  The officer turned him around and placed a pair of handcuffs behind his back.   “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” 

“Wait a minute,” he argued.  “Under arrest for what?” 

“Coercion of a minor child,” they announced as a crowd gathered.  “You have a right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.” 

“This is bullshit!” Van exclaimed, struggling in their grasp as they pulled him out of the room.  

Brett watched the events unfold, surprised that his plan was working as well as he’d anticipated.  He knew that by telling Magnum what happened, it would eventually wind up in his favor. 

“What’s going on?” James asked when he arrived on set with Detective Rodriguez.  “Stormy?  Brett?  Answer me.  Was that Deacon Edgewater’s son?” 

Brett shrugged innocently.  “I don’t know, James.  He just showed up and started hassling Cecily, and that’s when the police showed up and arrested him.” 

Stormy looked at Brett and whispered inconspicuously.  “Deacon Edgewater’s son?” he asked.  “What did you do, Brett?”  

“What makes you think I had anything to do with this?” he asked.

“Because the man is suing us,” Stormy told him.  “And yesterday you said you would take care of it.  Now all the sudden the man’s son is arrested for statutory rape? With one of the actresses in our film, no less.” 

Brett shrugged.  “Coincidence?” 

He regarded him warily and turned back to his father.  “We were just about to shoot scene forty-five,” he explained.  “We’re trying to make up for the time we lost yesterday.” 

James looked at them, unconvinced.  “Are you sure that’s all that’s going on?” 

“Absolutely,” Stormy said. 

Before James could say anything, Denise walked onto the set.  “James, I was told you wanted to see me.”  She looked at the detective and shifted uncomfortably.  “Is there a problem?” 

“We’re not sure,” he said.  “Denise, would you please come with us?” 

She followed them through the set.  Stormy ran after them and pulled his father back.  “Dad?  What’s going on with Denise?” 

“It’s nothing, son.  Just get back to the scene and we’ll talk later, okay?” 

“You know, I ran into Denise the other day in the screening room at the studio,” Stormy went on.  “She seemed very upset about something.” 

“What about?” 

He shrugged.  “I don’t know.  But she kept talking about how she’d been stuck down in the archives for her whole life and how Jonas had passed her up on a few roles she auditioned for.  I think she’s going through a rough time.  Whatever this is about, you should go easy on her.” 

James placed a hand on his shoulder.  “Don’t worry, son.  I’ll take care of it.” 

Denise Syzwicki

Outside, Denise lit a cigarette and blew a stream of smoke into the air as James and Detective Rodriguez studied her facial expressions.

“So what’s this all about?” she asked.  “Don’t tell me I’ve been accused of stealing office supplies.” 

“Denise, what were you doing at Moonshadows last night?” James asked her.

She shrugged.  “It’s a public place.  Do I need a reason?” 

“You do when it became a crime scene,” Rodriguez informed her.  “We have witnesses who claim they saw you just after Jack Childers murder, but no one can place you before.” 

“I didn’t get there until after,” she told them.  “I parked my car, walked up to the hotel and that’s when I saw Jordan Rydell being arrested.” 

“What did you go to the hotel for?” the detective asked. 

She hesitated before answering.  “To have a drink.” 

“So it wasn’t you who stashed the Halloween costume and bloody dagger in the bushes?” he went on. 

“That’s enough, Rodriguez,” James ordered.  “She’s not on trial.  We’re just trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on.”  

“What’s going on is that you think I’m killing the stars of Sunset Studios,” Denise said, gesturing with her cigarette.  “Isn’t that right?”

James took a breath.  “Denise, we just-“

“Let me tell you something, James,” she went on.  “There’s no one who knows more than I do about the stars that have worked for your studio.  I’m the authority.  Everyone’s come to me at one time or another wanting answers.” 

“The killer has left a photograph at each crime scene,” Rodriguez said.  “No one has access the way you do.” 

“Except for just about anyone in this town,” she scoffed.

“We know about the roles you auditioned for,” James said.  “I know it’s got to hurt being overlooked for other actors.”  

She regarded him carefully.  “What hurts is spending your whole life working for someone only to have my motives questioned.  I don’t have to put up with this.  I quit.” 

“Denise, please-“ James began.  “I’m not questioning your motives.  I just want to know if you’ve done anything that you might regret.” 

After a few moments of silence, she stubbed out her cigarette on the ground.  “The only thing I regret is spending my life working for people like you and Jonas Lamont.  I’m out of here.” 

“We still have more questions for you,” the detective said. 

“Am I under arrest?” Denise asked.

He shook his head.  “No.” 

“Then if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my things.”  She flashed James a look of anger.  “I assume you’ll want to have security escort me so I don’t steal anything.  Just don’t keep me waiting.  Contrary to what you might think, I do have a life.” 

She stormed off, leaving James to wonder if they were wrong in suspecting her of the murders.  On the surface she seemed like nothing more than a bitter woman with a lot of regrets. 

Nathan Blackthorne

Inside the studio, Nathan arrived and went directly to Keaton who was assisting the lighting techs with setting up the shot.  

“Keaton, a word?” he asked.

“Of course, Mr. Blackthorne,” he said and followed him to the side of the stage. 

“I want to know why your glasses were found in that store room with the killer’s photographs and the empty bag from his costume.” 

“What?” Keaton asked.  “I don’t understand.” 

“Come on, I’m an actor,” Nathan said.  “My senses are heightened.  I know when someone is lying.  First the pictures.  You said you got them for a scrapbook.  Now your glasses are found where the killer waited to make his move?  It’s you, isn’t it?  You’re the one who’s been doing this to us.” 

Keaton shook his head.  “No, I’m not,” he said.  “I swear to you.  Nathan, I worship you.  I have for my entire life.  I would never hurt you.” 

“Then what were you doing in that store room?” 

He fidgeted anxiously.  “I was…I was….”

“What?  Spit it out.” 

“I was with a girl,” he said.  “We had sex in that store room.  The one with the Vulcan ears.  The one Victor said I wasn’t interested in.  I took my glasses off and I guess I forgot them.” 

Nathan frowned. “You suddenly don’t need them?” 

“I never did,” Keaton admitted.  “I only wear them because I don’t want people to know the real me.” 

Regarding him suspiciously, Nathan folded his arms.  “Who is the real you?” he asked.  “Something tells me you’re not the awkward nerd that you claim to be.  The Keaton I know wouldn’t slip off to a storage closet and have his way with a Vulcan.  What are you trying to hide?” 

“Nothing,” he said after a moment of hesitation.  “I’m not hiding anything, I just-“

“You just told me you don’t want people to know the real you.  So who are you?  Where did you come from?  Who is your family?” 

Keaton looked away.  “They’re nobody,” he said.

“What about your parents?” 

“They’re dead,” he said quickly.  “Look, I’m just trying to make it on my own.  It’s not that uncommon for directors to struggle with their identity.  Scorsese, Hitchcock, they’re all conflicted.” 

“I’m watching you,” Nathan said.  “A very dear friend of mine was murdered last night and I intend to find out who did it.  Now is the time for you to tell me if you know anything.” 

“I don’t,” Keaton said.  “I swear to you."

Nathan locked eyes with him as he backed up and made his way across the set.  Keaton let out a sigh of relief, wiping his brow with his sleeve as he called to the actors. 

“Okay, let’s take our places.  We’ve got a scene to shoot.” 

Brett Armstrong

On his way back to his office, Brett’s phone rang.  He plucked it from his pocket and answered quickly. 

“Armstrong, it’s Deacon.” 

Brett raised an eyebrow, steering with one hand through the back lot of the studio.  “Deacon, how are you?” 

“Not good,” he answered.  “I need to get to a meeting.  Van’s got himself in trouble again and I don’t think I’ll be able to get him out of it this time.” 

Smiling, Brett stopped his car.  That didn’t take long, he thought to himself.  “Just hold on,” he said with as much conviction as he could muster.  “I’ll be right there.  We’ll get through this, Deacon.  That’s what fellow recovering addicts are for, remember?” 

“I don’t know how long I can keep from taking a drink,” Deacon told him.  “I’ve got a full bottle of vodka and a glass.  I’ve been sitting here staring at it for the past hour.” 

“I’ll be there right away,” Brett said.  “Can you hold on until I get there?” 

“I’ll try,” he said weakly. 

“Be there in a flash,” Brett said and clicked off the phone. He nestled back in his seat, grinning mischievously as his plan progressed faster than he’d ever imagined.  He called Violet's nanny at the condo while pulling back out onto the access road.

"Tiffany, it's Brett.  Just thought I'd see if my little girl was up from her nap yet.  I have a couple hours to kill and thought I'd stop by and see her beautiful face."  

Brooke Taylor

“You’re thinking about Mr. De La Cruz’s daughter, aren’t you?” Brooke asked as Kyle sat next to her in her hospital room.   “Don’t beat yourself up over what she said.  There’s no way we could have known about the arsenic.” 

“I know, I just feel so bad for her,” he replied.  “Her child is never going to know his or her grandfather.”

Brooke clasped her hand around his.  “Kind of like how you never knew your parents?” she asked, realizing he was talking about his own situation as much as he was talking about Jessica.  “I know it’s got to be hard, Kyle.  You were adopted at such a young age.” 

He shook his head dismissively.  “I’m not trying to compare the situations,” he said.  “I guess I’m also  just thinking about what Marilee said to me earlier.  She’s still so crushed over what I did to her.” 

“You were a different person then,” Brooke said.  “Marilee can’t hold this grudge against you forever.”

“She still has a son out there that she gave up,” he said.  “It’s got to be killing her.” 

“You can’t blame yourself about Marilee any more than you can about Mr. De La Cruz.  His death was tragic, but it wasn’t our fault.” 

Kyle sighed, realizing she was right.  It still didn’t make it any easier.  The look on the woman’s face was hard to get out of his mind. 

Mason Stone

“I heard you talking at the hospital earlier,” Mason said after the woman slid into the booth across from him.   “I’m so sorry to hear about your father.” 

Jessica De La Cruz smiled weakly as the waitress brought her a glass of water.  “Then you probably heard me blaming that man from Moonshadows for his death,” she said.  “I was angry.  My father’s passing is still such a shock to me.”

“You have every right to be angry,” Mason told her.  “That’s why I asked you to meet me here.  I think you might have a case against the owners of Moonshadows.” 

“Are you a lawyer?”

He shook his head.  “No, but I’ve consulted for legal firms and I know an open and shut case when I hear about one. You might want to think about seeing a lawyer and finding out what your options are.” 

“My options?” she asked timidly.  

“There are laws protecting people like you,” he explained.  “I know nothing can bring your father back, but you’re entitled to money that in some way tries to make up for your pain and suffering.” 

Jessica shook her head.  “I wouldn’t feel right about profiting from my father’s death.”  

“Of course not,” Mason said, then quickly went about things another way.  “When are you due?” 

“January,” she replied, smiling down at her stomach.  “I was hoping my father and I could mend fences so he could be a part of my baby’s life.  He won’t have any male influences.”

“Where's the father?”

“He left,” she said somberly.  “I guess it’s just going to be me and this little tyke.”  

Mason shrugged.  “All the more reason why a settlement could help.  It’s got to be difficult with medical bills.  Not to mention how much a baby costs once it’s born.  Did you father have life insurance?"

“I don’t know,” she said.  “Like I said, we haven’t been in touch for a long time.”

“Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to worry about money?” Mason asked.  “You should call a lawyer.  A wrongful death suit can be very profitable.  We’re talking millions.” 

“Millions?” Jessica asked, wide eyed. 

Mason smiled, sipping his drink as he watched her mind change before his eyes.  A lawsuit this size would surely drive Moonshadows to bankruptcy.  And once that happened, he would swoop in and buy it so he could finally get the oil sitting beneath it. 

Brett Armstrong

When Brett finally showed up at Deacon Edgewater’s house in the Hollywood Hills, it was dark outside.  He’d waited two hours before showing up, hoping it had been enough time for the inevitable to happen. 

When he arrived, he rang the bell repeatedly.  No one answered so he pushed the door open and proceeded into the sitting area, dark except for a single lamp beside the sofa.  

“Hello?” he called out.  “Deacon?  It’s Brett Armstrong.” 

Light suddenly came from overhead.  He turned his head and saw Deacon enter the room, staggering on his feet and a half-bottle of vodka clutched in his hand.   He was drunk out of his mind. 

“You were coming right over,” the man said, walking from the light switch and stumbling across the room.  “I waited for you but you never showed.”

Brett watched him in bewilderment.  “I’m sorry. My car broke down.  Deacon, are you drinking?  I thought we were going to a meeting.”

“Fuck the damn meeting,” he said, his speech slurred.  “What’s a meeting gonna do?  Is it gonna get my son out of trouble again?  Is it gonna save my job at the studio?” 

“Come sit down,” Brett said and led him to the sofa.  “I’m going to get you some coffee.” 

“I don’t want any coffee,” Deacon argued belligerently.  “I want to drink until I can’t see straight.”  He lifted the bottle to his lips and took a drink.

“Please, don’t,” Brett said and took the bottle from him.  He needed him drunk, not passed out   “What do you mean your job at the studio is in jeopardy?  What happened?”

He hiccupped.  “Just haven’t been pulling in the audiences like I used to.  The board said if I produced one more flop I’d be out.  Hell, if they knew I was drinking again they’d fire me on the spot.” 

“All the more reason to sober you up,” Brett said.   “Speaking of the studio, do they know about the lawsuit against Sunset Studios?” 

He shook his head.  “That was my ace in the hole,” he said.  “I saw what a buzz The Benefactor was making around town and so I decided it was the only thing that could save me.  I’d almost forgotten that we’d bought the rights.” 

“Thank goodness you agreed to drop the suit,” Brett said, finally ready to play his cards. 

“Drop it?” Deacon asked.  “Why would I want to do that?” 

“You said the bad publicity the movie was generating because of the murders would hurt your career even more,” Brett lied.  “Don’t you remember?” 

Deacon struggled to clear his blurry eyes.  “No,” he said.  “I don’t…wait….maybe I do.” 

“You were going to call your lawyer and tell him to drop the suit,” Brett said, grabbing the cordless phone from the sofa table.  “We had this whole discussion about it after our AA meeting."

“Did we?” 

Brett shook his head with mock sympathy.  “I guess you really have fallen off the wagon,” he said.  “I hope the board doesn’t find out.  I’d hate for you to get fired and leave them with a nasty lawsuit that they probably don’t even care about.”  

“I don’t want to lose my job.” 

“Then you should call your lawyer,” Brett said and handed him the phone.  “Do it for your career, Deacon.  Do it for your son.” 

Confused, he took the phone from him and started to dial.  “I’m so tired,” he said, his eyes droopy as he slowly began to lean back.   “Need to sleep.  I can’t believe I started drinking again.  I’m a weak sonofabitch.” 

“You can sleep after you make that call,” Brett said, propping him back up and instructing him to dial.   “Go ahead.  It’ll just take a minute.  Say John, I’m dropping the lawsuit.”

Deacon finished dialing and started to doze off as he waited.  When his attorney came on the line, he sat up quickly.  “John, it’s Deacon.  I’m dropping the lawsuit against Sunset Studios.” 

Brett sighed with relief.  Who knew that getting one man as powerful as Deacon Edgewater to fall off the wagon would be so easy?

James Blackthorne

James and Nathan made their way through the back lot at Sunset Studios as they discussed the events of the past two days.

“I know how close you were to Jack,” James was saying.  “I’m sorry about what happened, Nathan.  I can only imagine how you’re feeling.” 

“I’ll worry about how I’m feeling after they catch this maniac,” Nathan told his nephew.  “Victor and I have decided to start our own investigation into the murders.  He’s on his way to convince Eddie to take on the case as we speak.”

“You don’t want to wait and see what the police uncover?”

“You know how I feel about the police,” Nathan said with a grin.  “Besides, I think it would do their relationship some good.  Fathers and sons shouldn’t be estranged.” 

James dug his hands in his pockets as they stopped near a group of stage hands who were moving equipment from one stage to another. 

“There seems to be a lot of that in our own family,” James said thoughtfully.  “Ethan and his father, me and my father.”  

“Me and my daughter,” Nathan said, a hint of sadness on his face as he looked away.   “Despite everything I may or may not have done, I regret every day I didn’t get to spend with Sierra.” 

James didn’t know how to feel about the subject.  There were differing takes on what transpired on Victor’s yacht that night three years ago.  Part of him didn’t want to believe that his uncle would have done the things people accused him of where Sierra was concerned. 

By the time he had broken from the intense line of thinking, Nathan had moved ahead and was continuing through the back lot.  James paused, waiting a beat to consider his thoughts before going after him. 

“Nathan, wait,” he called. 

But as he moved toward him, he heard the sound of metal scraping against metal.  He saw the sparks from above as the crane toppled to the ground, camera equipment shattering in hundreds of tiny pieces.  He saw the crane falling toward Nathan, dropping to the ground at lightning speed.  Quickly, James ran toward him, intent on stopping the equipment from crushing his uncle to death.

Brett Armstrong

After he got Violet to sleep, Brett poured himself a celebratory glass of scotch and paced the living room of his condo at the marina.  He had to give himself credit where credit was due.  He’d succeeded in saving the film from certain disaster, and undoubtedly cemented his position in the studio.  Not even Stormy could refute that claim. 

A knock at the door alerted him to a visitor.  Checking his watch to confirm the late hour, he walked across the room and peered through the peep hole.  To his surprise, it was Stormy. 

“Come to congratulate me?” he asked after opening the door, a smug expression on his face.

“Congratulate you?” Stormy asked incredulously.  “You’ve got to be kidding me.” 

“I got Edgewater to drop the lawsuit,” Brett told him.  “You can’t possibly find a problem with that, junior.  I said I’d handle it and I did.”

Stormy walked inside as Brett closed the door behind him.  “Obviously you haven’t heard,” he said.

“Heard what?”  Brett asked as if waiting for the punch line of some bad joke.

“Deacon Edgewater killed himself an hour ago,” Stormy explained.  “His housekeeper walked in and found him with a pistol in his mouth."

Brett stood, paralyzed by the news.  Suddenly his victory came with consequences that he had in no way been prepared for. 

Next time....

Eddie investigates the murders but Miranda proves to be a distraction.  Stormy plans a romantic evening with Jane.  Alex reflects over Deacon Edgewater's suicide.  Brett struggled with guilt.  



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