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Episode 156

 

Release Date:  November 10, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Brett reflected on his past as a con man in the wake of Deacon's suicide.  He later told Kelly that he was no longer interested in their alliance against Stormy. Kelly taunted Stormy with threats to take R.J. and leave town.  Kelly received several phone calls from an threatening source.  Heather arrived at Brett's door.  Alex recalled Deacon inviting her to his house to discuss a movie role.  Brooke decided to put Moonshadows up for sale when Jessica De La Cruz filed a substantial lawsuit.  Mason secretly formed a corporation, Loomis Enterprises, and put a bid in on the resort.  Mackenzie learned that Senator Nordquist was bribed into granting the variances, and accused Kyle of being in on it with Mason. During the argument, Mackenzie slipped and fell down a cliff.  Panicked, Kyle took off.  James counseled Marilee regarding the son she gave up for adoption.  Nathan survived the killer's latest attack.  A photograph of Bianca Burnett was faxed to Sunset Studios with a flaw in the photograph, prompting Eddie to think it might be a clue.  Eddie refused to forgive Miranda for her betrayals.  Miranda distracted Keaton while Eddie transferred information from his cell phone.  Later, Eddie asked Miranda to help him in the investigation. After being suspected of the murders, Denise quit her job in the Sunset Studios archives.

 


  

Episode 156

"Reconnections"

 

Brett stood clear of the door as Heather walked inside the condo.  He studied her carefully, unsure of what led to her showing up at his door.  Had she been released from the mental institution?  Jordan hadn’t told him as much, but then again he didn’t share details with him since the divorce.  However she happened to be there, she seemed surprisingly lucid.  Much more so than she had been the last few times he’d seen her. 

“Heather, what are you doing here?” he asked.   “When did you get home?” 

She was busy looking around the small condo, letting her eyes fall on toys, clothes and other various items that belonged to Violet.   When she broke from a daze, she looked at him and smiled. 

“I’m sorry for just showing up like this,” she said.  Her trademark waist-length locks of dark blond hair were now cut to her shoulders.  Other than that, she looked very much like she did a year and a half ago.  Her eyes seemed different, though.  They were more focused than in the last days before he’d had her committed. 

“I’m glad to see you,” Brett told her.  He suddenly remembered that Jordan was on the phone.  Quickly, he went to retrieve the receiver from the floor.  "Wait right here."  As he spoke to Jordan, Heather continued looking around the apartment, picking up pictures of Violet and smiling adoringly at them. 

“Jordan?” Brett said into the receiver.  “You’re not going to believe this-“

“Brett, listen to me,” Jordan interrupted him.  He was calling from his car, weaving through traffic on Sunset.  “I just talked to Dr. Bouvier.  Heather’s escaped from the institution.  He thinks she might be on her way to see Violet.”  

Brett’s eyes widened in surprise as he turned and looked at Heather.  She smiled at him, continuing to walk tentatively around the apartment.

Ethan Blackthorne

After he got home from taking Michael trick-or-treating, Ethan drove up Mulholland and rang the doorbell of Mackenzie’s starkly modern house that overlooked the canyons.  He stood on the porch waiting for her to answer, glanced at his watch to confirm the time, and rang the bell again.  After a few minutes of waiting, he took out his cell and called her.  To his frustration, it went straight to voicemail. 

Maybe she’d decided against spending time with him, he decided.  She had been very angry at breakfast that morning.  Not that he could blame her.  While he was genuine in his feelings for her, he didn’t expect her to have sat by patiently waiting while he doted over Brooke in the hospital. 

Realizing she must have let her frustrations get the better of her, he turned and retreated back to his car.  Maybe she’d cool off by morning.  He didn’t want to force the issue tonight.  It was better to leave it alone for now. 

He drove back down the road in the darkness, unaware that half a mile away just off the meandering road, Mackenzie lay unconscious at the bottom of a cliff. 

Kyle Fenwick

Kyle sped down Mulholland, staring in a daze at the blinding headlights as cars whizzed past him.  He closed his eyes briefly, trying to get Mackenzie out of his mind.   It was an accident.  She fell.  She slid on the rocks and toppled down the hill.  He most definitely did not push her.   But getting anyone to believe that was going to be difficult, so he had no choice but to run.   She could have told someone about her suspicions.  If he was placed at the scene, he could be blamed for her fall.  The fact was he wasn’t working with Mason on whatever plan he was cooking up.  All he did was accept a favor from a friend. 

He teetered back and forth deciding what to do next.  She was his sister.  He couldn’t just leave her there.  If she was still alive, she wouldn’t be for long if she didn’t get help.   And no matter what differences they had in their pasts, he didn’t want to see harm come to her. 

When he neared the entrance to the Ventura Freeway, he pulled into a gas station and found a payphone.  Using a handkerchief from the glove compartment, he picked up the receiver and called 911.

“There’s a woman lying at the bottom of a cliff off Mulholland and I don’t know if she’s alive or dead,” he said when the dispatcher answered.  “It’s about half a mile after the turnoff onto Deep Canyon Drive. Please hurry.” 

With that, he hung up and went back to his car.  Sitting behind the wheel, he wondered what he should do next.  He had to act normal, he decided.  The paramedics would find her and she would be fine.  Meanwhile, he’d get the proof that Mason was behind blackmailing Senator Nordquist.  Mackenzie would have no choice but to believe him. 

Brett Armstrong

“Brett?” Jordan asked from his car.  “Did you hear what I said?” 

“Heather’s here,” he told him.

“Jesus,” Jordan said, raking his fingers through his hair as he honked at a sea of cars that lied ahead of him.  “How is she?  Is she okay?”

“She seems fine.”  He watched her carefully.

“I’m a couple of minutes away,” Jordan said.  “Dr. Bouvier is with me.” 

“Jordan, I’ll handle it,” Brett said and hung up the phone.  When he turned back to Heather, she was standing across the room looking at him. 

“That was my father,” she surmised.  “I should have known he would be worried about me.”

“We all are,” Brett said.  “He said you escaped from the hospital.  Is that true?” 

Sorrowfully, she looked away.  “I had to,” she said.  “I mean, you have no idea what it’s been like.  My little girl is growing up and I’m missing it.  She’s not going to even know me the next time I see her.” 

“She’s asleep in the bedroom,” Brett told her.  “You could look in on her if you want to.” 

“No, I don’t want to wake her up.  She’d be confused.  I just need to know that she’s okay.” 

“She’s good,” he assured her.  “She’s very good.  She’s a very happy little girl.  We went trick-or-treating tonight.” 

Heather’s face lit up.  “You did?”

“She dressed up as a bumble bee.  You should have seen her, Heather.  She was so cute.”  He pulled out his phone and showed her photos. 

A tear formed in Heather’s eye as she smiled so big that her cheeks hurt.  “My little girl,” she whispered.  “She’s so beautiful.” 

“Just like her mother.”

Wiping her hands on her slacks, she walked to the sofa and sat down.  “My father told me you didn’t fight the divorce.  Thank you.” 

Brett knew it would come up.  He supposed it was better to get it over with now rather than later.  He owed her an explanation, after all. 

“I know that I hurt you,” he said.  “How you must have felt when you read that book-“ 

She flew to her feet and stopped him from finishing his sentence.  “I’m glad that Violet is here with you,” she said.  “She should be with her father.  I know that you love her.  I don’t expect to be a mother so soon after what I nearly did to her.”

Brett closed his eyes as he thought about the incident.  Heather, suffering from a psychotic break, tried driving off a cliff with Violet in the car.  Jordan stopped her, thankfully.  He shuddered to think of what their lives would be like if things had gone differently. 

“You’ll be a good mother to her one day,” he assured her. 

They were interrupted when the door flew open and Jordan raced inside, followed by Dr. Bouvier from the institution in San Francisco.

“Heather!” Jordan exclaimed and raced to his daughter. 

She smiled happily as he wrapped his arms around her.  “I’m so sorry, Dad.  I didn’t mean to worry you.” 

“Princess, why did you leave the institution?” Jordan asked.  “How did you get all the way here from San Francisco?”

“I took a van from the institution,” she said, then looked apologetically at Dr. Bouvier.

“It doesn’t matter how,” Jordan said and placed his hands alongside her face.  “Just don’t ever scare me like that again.” 

Dr. Bouvier stepped forward.  “Jordan, I’d like a minute with Heather if you don’t mind.” 

He nodded and gave his daughter a reassuring nod of his head.  Turning, he led Brett into the kitchen and watched them from across the room. 

“What happened?” Jordan asked.  “She just showed up and then what?” 

“She misses Violet,” Brett explained.  “Jordan, maybe it’s just me, but she seems fine.  She was lucid enough to drive eight hours across the state.  Maybe she’s better.  It has been a year and a half since she went away.” 

“I don’t want to take any chances in her recovery,” Jordan said.  “Did she ask you about Suzanne?” 

Brett shook his head.  “I brought up the book but she changed the subject.” 

They were interrupted when Dr. Bouvier approached alone.

“How do you think she is?” Jordan asked him.  “What would possess her to steal a van and drive all the way here?  Is she having another psychotic episode?” 

“Quite the contrary,” he replied.  “I was going to wait a couple of weeks to tell you, but after seeing how she’s reacted to being here, I might as well do it now.  I’ve done all I can for Heather at the institution.” 

Jordan looked at him with fear in his eyes.  “What are you saying?” 

“I’m saying she’s ready to rejoin society.”

“Are you sure?” Brett asked.

He nodded.  “She’ll of course have to remain in outpatient care for the foreseeable future.  She had a lot of issues to work out and they’re not just going to go away.  But I think that being home in a familiar place is just what she needs right now.” 

Jordan smiled in elation.  “That’s fantastic news,” he said. 

“What about Violet?” Brett inquired.  “Do you think she’s ready to see her?” 

“Supervised visits are permissible,” he told him.  “Don’t rush her into anything, though.” 

“We won’t,” Jordan said and walked back across the room.   “Heather, would you like to come home with me?”

She looked at him as if waiting for the other foot to drop.  When she saw the encouraging look on Dr. Bouvier’s face, however, she knew that he was being sincere.  “Really?” she asked and smiled ecstatically.

He hugged her warmly as Brett watched them from across the room.  He couldn’t help but wonder where he fit in.  They were divorced.  She hadn’t even made an attempt at bringing up his affair with Suzanne.   One thing was for sure, however.  He didn’t want to force the issue.  She would deal with it when she was ready. 

Ethan Blackthorne

Ethan flew through the doors of the emergency room, scouting around for a nurse that could tell him what had happened to Mackenzie.   When he asked the admitting desk, they told him she was in intensive care but wasn’t able to tell him anything else.  Frustrated, he turned and looked for someone else who could give him information. 

A police officer approached the same nurse who pointed across the room to where Ethan was standing.

“Mr. Blackthorne?” he said as he drew near. 

“Yes.  Do you know what happened to Mackenzie?” 

“She appears to have had a spill up on Mulholland.  She was pretty banged up when we found her.  We got your number off the call history on her phone.  Do you know what she might have been doing up there?” 

Ethan shook his head, then remembered Brooke saying that Kyle had been with Mackenzie earlier that night.   “She was with her brother a little while ago.  We planned on meeting at her place after but when I got there she wasn’t home.  What do you mean she took a spill?  Are you saying she fell?  Or did someone push her?” 

“Do you have reason to believe someone would have pushed her?” the officer asked, his interest peaking.

Ethan shook his head dismissively.  The truth was, he didn’t.  Mackenzie was a ball busting tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman, but who would want to hurt her?

“The brother you mentioned,” the office continued.    “You said she was supposed to be meeting him earlier?”

He nodded. 

“Got a name?” 

“Kyle Fenwick.”

The officer checked Mackenzie’s phone.  “He was the last person she called.  Around 6:30 this evening.  We’ll check him out.  Thanks for your time.” 

As the officer walked away, Ethan sat down and held his head in his hands.  What was Mackenzie doing outside on the side of the road like that?  He wondered if it did have anything to do with her meeting Kyle.  Surely he wouldn’t have done anything to hurt her. 

Brooke Taylor

The next morning, Brooke got Michael off to school and retreated to the parlor room at the Blackthorne mansion where she attempted to call Renee to fill her in on the developments with Moonshadows.  To her disappointment, she only succeeded in reaching her voicemail, so she left an urgent message and insisted she call her back immediately.

Just as she hung up, Leilani entered the room.   “Miss Taylor, you have a visitor,” she said with sustained difficulty.   “Would you like me to send him in?”

Brooke frowned at Leilani’s nervous behavior and slipped her hands into the pockets of her 1970’s inspired high-waisted slacks.  “Who is it, Leilani?”

Before she could respond, Brooke’s question was answered. 

“Hello Brooke,” Philip Whitacre said as he strode into the room.

“Philip?” she asked in disbelief.  “What on earth are you doing here?” 

“I heard you spent some time in the hospital and I wanted to see if you were okay.”  Philip,  Brooke’s first husband and the source of a great deal of trouble when she and James were first married, looked at her with his trademark bedroom eyes.  Six-feet tall and with a sturdy, athletic frame, he hadn’t changed a bit in the four years since she’d seen him. 

“So you came all the way to L.A.?” Brooke asked.  “You could have called.” 

He stepped closer, licking his lips as he drew near.   “And miss out on seeing that gorgeous face?” he asked.  “Don’t I even get a hug?” 

She shrunk away from him when he tried to pull her into an embrace.  “I thought you were in prison.  You and Will Thomerson drugged Heather Rydell and put her in a porno without her knowledge.” 

He shrugged apologetically.  “I was in for eighteen months but I got released due to overcrowding.  After that I decided to head back to Phoenix.  I got a job selling pharmaceuticals.” 

“From porn star to selling erectile dysfunction medication?” Brooke asked dubiously.  “That’s ironic.” 

He grinned and looked her up and down.  “Enough about me.  How are you?  I hear you got sick at that resort you own part of.  Something about arsenic poisoning?”

“What are you really doing here?  Don’t pretend you care about my well being.”

“I can’t believe you would doubt that.  We were married once, remember?  It was me you came to when James and Ethan Blackthorne were bouncing you around like a tennis ball.  We had plans to raise that kid together.  Then you took off.” 

Sighing, Brooke turned and walked to the fireplace.   “That was before I knew what kind of man you were,” she said.  “What you did to Heather Rydell was disgusting.” 

“Hey, I didn’t know it was going to go down like that,” he insisted.  “So where is the little tyke, anyway?  He’s got to be about five years old by now, right?”

“He’s six,” she told him.  “And he’s at school.”

“Good, then we have some time to spend together before he gets home.  So tell me, which one of the Blackthorne men did you wind up with?  James or Ethan?” 

Brooke looked away, realizing she didn’t owe him an explanation, but at the same time feeling a little hypocritical.  She was sure that her expression gave her away.

“Oh don’t tell me,” Philip went on.  “You gave them both the boot?” 

“I did not give them the boot,” Brooke argued.  “It just so happens that things just didn’t work out with either one of them.  We tried but these things sometimes have a way of running their own course.” 

Philip laughed.  “After all that B.S., you aren’t with either of them.  Priceless.”

“Shut up.”

“So who are you with now?  Don’t tell me it’s that Stormy runt.  A little young for you, but I guess you do like to keep it in the family.” 

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m seeing a man who is unrelated to the Blackthornes,” she said curtly.  “I’m only living here because we thought it would be easier for Michael in the interim.”

Philip shook his head in amazement.  “You rich people sure do lead screwed up lives.  You’re living with the two men you kissed off so that you can raise your son who you lied to everyone about his paternity for the first year of his life, and meanwhile you’re dating some other schmuck who is going along with it?  I gotta meet this guy.” 

Finally, she turned to him and positioned her hands on her hips.  “Would you stop?” she demanded.  “You have no idea what you’re talking about.  It just so happens that James, Ethan, Kyle and I all have Michael’s best interests at heart.”  

“If you say so,” Philip said, throwing his hands up in resignation.  He waited a few minutes before continuing.  “So how long before you give this Kyle guy the boot?  And the bigger question is, who’s next in the rotation?” 

“You should leave,” Brooke said.  “I have no interest in standing here listening to this.  I don’t even know why you came here.”

He shrugged.  “I think it’s a good thing I did.  I know you, Brooke.  Probably better than any of these guys do.  I knew you before you were the co-owner of resorts and movie studios.  I think it’s time you got a reality check on who Brooke Taylor is.”

“I know who Brooke Taylor is,” she cut him off. 

“No you don’t.  But luckily I’m here to remind you.” 

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda and Eddie pulled up to an office building in Sherman Oaks.  To Miranda, it looked more like a house than it did a business.  With fake brick siding and a pointed roof, it was marked with a sign on the front lawn that read Reconnections …Finding Your Way Home.  It sounded more like the tag line for a microchip company for pets than it did a service for bringing adopted children and their parents together. 

“What are we doing here again?” she asked, applying a fresh coat of lip gloss in the rearview mirror.  

“This place was in Keaton’s cell phone contacts.  I found several emails dating back a few months before the murders started.” 

“What did the emails say?”

“Nothing specific, which is why I thought we should come check it out in person,” he said while climbing out of the car.  “This place provides a service to people who want to find their biological parents.” 

“So Keaton was adopted?”  She got out and followed him up to the door.

“Why else would he have been a client here?”  He opened the door for her but she stopped him before the entered.

“Look, Eddie, I want you to know how much it means to me that you asked me to come along this morning.  It feels like old times, doesn’t it?” 

He nodded with a slight smile.  “Yeah, it does.” 

As they entered the office, they were greeted by a thin, pale woman seated at the reception desk. 

 “Welcome to Reconnections,” she said through pursed lips.  “How can I help you?”

“I’m looking for information on one of your clients,” Eddie said.  “I’m investigating a series of murders and we believe he may be connected.”

The woman leveled a look of suspicion at him from over a pair of wire-framed bifocals.  “Our client files are confidential,” she said.  “Are you with the police?”

“We’re working with the police,” he reported.  “It’s urgent that we get a look at those files.  Lives could be in jeopardy as we speak.” 

“I’m sorry,” she said in a high voice.  “Unless you’re the police and have a search warrant, I’m unable to help you, sir.” 

 “Sir?” Eddie said incredulously and turned away with a frown. 

“Look here,” Miranda said and leaned forward.  “It just so happens that my mother is Miss Angie Dickinson and I-“

“Your mother is Alex Reynolds, and you’re still not looking at the files.” 

Miranda frowned.  “How did you know that?” 

“Your face was all over the papers a few weeks ago when that pimp got murdered,” said the receptionist. 

Frustrated, Miranda threw her hands on the counter and cursed her own tarnished public image. 

“Look,” Eddie began, fishing two hundred dollar bills from his pocket.  “We’re not asking you to bend any rules.  Just walk away from your desk and we’ll accidentally look at the computer.  That way you aren’t doing anything against regulations.”

The woman looked at the money and shook her head primly.  “I don’t even have access to the files.  Only Mr. Brewer does.” 

“Mr Brewer?” Miranda asked.

“The president of the company.  Now if you don’t leave I’ll be forced to call security.” 

Miranda looked at Eddie and led him out of the building.  Once they were outside, they both proceeded to the car. 

“Well, that was a dead end,” Eddie said. “All we succeeded in doing was alerting her that we were looking for information.  I guess Reconnections is a lead that won’t take us anywhere.”

“Not necessarily,” Miranda said with a mischievous grin.  She plucked her phone from her purse and made a call.  “Stormy, I’m with Eddie.  We need your help.”

Eddie was willing to try anything.  Stormy didn’t have the exposure that Miranda did, so maybe they could get information from this Mr. Brewer after all.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke left several messages for Ethan reminding him of Michael’s appointment with the child psychologist that afternoon.  When she was unable to reach him, she decided to call Mackenzie.  The last she knew, they were going to spend the previous evening together. 

Before she could make the call, Kyle entered the family room.  “Good morning,” he said and kissed her on the cheek. 

“Hi,” she replied, the receiver still gripped in her hand.  “Have you spoke to Mackenzie today?” 

Kyle immediately went on the defensive.  “Mackenzie?  No, why do you ask?” 

She sighed and gestured to the phone.  “I’ve been trying to get a hold of Ethan all morning.  I thought he said he was with Mackenzie last night.  I was going to call her unless you’ve already seen her.”

“No, I haven’t,” he said.   Not only had he not heard from her, but he also hadn’t heard any reports of her accident.  That could be good or bad depending on how badly she’d been hurt.

“Did she mention if they were going anywhere when you saw her last night?” 

“No, she didn’t mention anything.”

“What did she want to talk to you about anyway?” Brooke asked.

“Just some family business,” he answered.  “I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you when you were released from the hospital.  I would have called but my phone died.” 

“That’s okay,” she said.  “I’m feeling much better today.  I’ll be feeling better when I find Ethan.  I really don’t want to miss that appointment with Dr. Podany.” 

Her cell phone rang and she plucked it from her pocket.  To her relief, it was Ethan calling.    She answered hurriedly and paused while he told her he’d been at the hospital all night. 

“Oh my God,” Brooke said.  After she got the details, she hung up and turned to Kyle.  “That was Ethan.  He’s with Mackenzie at the hospital.”

Swallowing hard, Kyle dug his hands into his pockets.  “What happened?” 

She shrugged.  “All he said was that she’d been admitted last night.  She just got out of the intensive care unit.” 

“So she’s not….” he began.  “She’s going to be okay?” 

Brooke shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I guess it’s still touch and go.  Kyle, you should go see her.” 

“I don’t want to leave you if you have to get Michael to that appointment,” he said, finding any excuse to avoid the hospital.  “If Ethan can’t go with you, I’d be more than happy to.” 

“No, you need to be with your sister.  I’ll reschedule the appointment.  Call me when you know something.” 

He nodded and kissed her again.  “Okay, I will.”  With that, he turned and walked back out of the room.  Down the hall, he leaned against the door and braced himself for what would happen when he got to the hospital.  He didn’t know what to expect when Mackenzie saw him.   With any luck, she’d confirm his story that her fall was an accident. She had to. 

Brett Armstrong

Brett waited as long as he could  before driving over to Jordan’s to see Heather.  He packed a bag of necessities for Violet and took her with him.  When he arrived, he made his way past Chad, Lola’s security guard, then the butler answered and ushered him to the breakfast room where Heather, Jordan and Lola were having a brunch of stuffed French toast, Heather’s favorite.

“Good morning,” Brett said, walking tentatively into the room.  He caught a disapproving look from Jordan but ignored it, balancing Violet in one arm while setting the bag into an empty chair. 

Heather turned and froze when she saw her daughter.  Slowly, she slid her chair out from the table and clasped her hands together.  She exchanged glances with Jordan who gestured with a nod of his head which she took to mean it was time to see Violet.  Time to face the life she’d left behind for a year and a half. 

“Violet,” Brett said and pushed a strand of curly hair from the little girls’ face.  “Do you remember who this is?” 

The three-year old reached a tiny hand out to Heather while the other was clamped between her teeth.   “Mommy,” she said, then broke into a fit of laughter.  “Hi mommy.”

“Hi sweetheart,” Heather said, wanting to reach out and hold her but at the same time afraid.  While she felt mentally healthy, she couldn’t help but fear another setback.  What if she did something to hurt her daughter?  How could she live with herself? 

“It’s okay,” Brett said, reading her eyes.  “Take her.”

Hesitantly, Heather lifted Violet into her arms.  The little girl nuzzled her head against her face and wrapped her tiny arms around her shoulders.  Tears fell from Heather’s eyes as she clutched her tighter. 

“Mommy’s missed you so much,” she said, cradling her happily.   “I’m so sorry that I had to go away, sweetheart.  I promise I won’t ever leave you again.  Mommy’s always going to be right here.” 

As he watched the tender scene unfold, Brett noticed Jordan motioning him from the doorway.  Hating to leave them at such a momentous occasion, he grudgingly followed him out into the kitchen. 

“It’s a good sign,” Brett said.  “They seem to be reacting very well to each other.” 

“It isn’t Heather & Violet that I’m worried about,” Jordan told him.  “It’s you, Brett.”

“Me?” he asked defensively. 

“She still hasn’t dealt with what you and Suzanne did to her.  You slept with her mother.  Can you blame me for worrying that it might have an effect on her sooner or later?  She blocked out the accident and everything that happened after it.  Now she’s blocking this out.  It can’t end well.”

“This is not the same thing,” Brett argued.  “Just because she hasn’t brought it up doesn’t mean she’s blocking it out.  She’ll talk about me and Suzanne when she’s ready to.”

Jordan shook his head and folded his arms across his chest.  “I still don’t think it’s a good idea for you to come around.  Not for a while anyway.” 

Brett laughed.  “This is really just about you not wanting me to be with your daughter, isn’t it?” he asked.  “You’re afraid she might reconcile with the man who stole your studio from you and you can’t stand it.” 

Jordan set his jaw, refraining from replying when Lola came into the room.  “All I’m asking is that you let me handle visitation with Violet for a while.  Let her get used to be a mother again before she has to get used to this.” 

Brett shook his head angrily as he stormed back out to the breakfast room.  After he’d gone, Lola approached Jordan while running a strand of daytime pearls through her fingers. 

“You can’t keep them apart if they want to be together, Jordan,” she said.

“We don’t know what Heather wants,” Jordan insisted. 

“Look what happened when I tried to prevent you and Mary Ann from being together way back when,” she said.  “You and Suzanne had a few good years but you know it was Alex that you wanted all along.” 

He looked at her with surprise.  “That’s almost the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” he said with only a hint of sarcasm.

She smiled.  “We’re only here for a short time.  Look at Jack and Elana.  When any one of us could go at any time, it’s time to start thinking in real terms.  What’s really important, Jordan?” 

Kyle Fenwick

When Kyle arrived at the hospital, he entered the emergency room and stopped dead in his tracks when he spotted two police officers hanging around the waiting area.  Nervous that they were there looking for him, he ducked into an alcove and bided his time.  His instincts told him to leave, to get as far away from the hospital as he could, but he also knew that that would arouse even more suspicion.  When he saw James and Ethan walking down the hall, he quickly went to intercept them.

“Kyle,” Ethan said.  “Are you here to see Mackenzie?”

He nodded and dug his hands into his pockets.  “Yeah. How is she?” 

“She hasn’t woken up yet,” he responded. 

“Do they know what happened?”  He had to find out how much they knew.  That was the only way to come up with a suitable cover. 

“They don’t know exactly,” Ethan said.  “But apparently she fell down a cliff off Mulholland.”

“Well, what was she doing there?” 

“That’s what they still don’t know,” James began, but stopped when the police officers approached. 

“Are you Kyle Fenwick?” one of them asked. 

He swallowed hard and nodded.  “Yes.” 

“We have a few questions for you, Mr. Fenwick,” they went on.  “We saw that you were the last person that Ms. Stone called from her cellular last night.  Mr. Blackthorne here claims you were with her last night.  Can I ask what time that was?” 

Kyle swallowed again, praying that his nervousness didn’t show through.  “That’s true, we were going to meet,” he began, rehearsing the speech he’d thought up on the way there.  “She called me and asked me to meet her at my house but she never showed.”

“So you didn’t see your sister last night?” one of the officers asked. 

He shook his head.  “No.”

“Do you have any idea who she might have been with last night?  We found tire tracks in the mud on the lookout where she fell, so we know she was there with someone.” 

“I have no idea,” he told them.  “I wish I could be of more help.  I just don’t know who would want to hurt my sister.”  

“Have you been able to trace the tire tracks?” James asked. 

The detective gave him a quick shake of his head.  “Not yet, but we’re working on it.”

Ethan rubbed his chin and turned to Kyle.  “What kind of car does Mason Stone drive?”

“Why?” Kyle asked.

He shrugged.  “He’s the only person I can think of that she would have been meeting.  Other than someone from the show, and that seems unlikely to occur in that kind of a setting.” 

Kyle decided that Mason was as good a scapegoat as he was going to get, so he decided to go with it.  “Come to think of it, she did come to me the other day telling me she didn’t trust Mason.” 

“Mason Stone is…?” the officer asked.

“Mackenzie’s ex-husband,” Ethan told him.  “He showed up in town a few weeks ago.  I’ve never trusted him.  As a matter of fact, the first time I met him he was getting pretty physical with her.  I guess their marriage didn’t end well.” 

“Thanks.  We’ll check it out,” the officer said and walked off with his partner. 

After they’d gone, James looked at Ethan.  “Do you really think Mason could have done something to hurt Mackenzie?” 

He shrugged.  “I don’t know, but right now it’s the only thing that makes sense.”

Kyle breathed a sigh of relief.  At least now he had bought some time.  Now all he had to do was find out what Mason was up to, and convince Mackenzie that he was innocent.

Alex Reynolds

“All right, I’m here,” Alex said when she walked into the Playhouse in Beverly Hills and found Lola reading a script in the front row of the deserted theatre.  “What do you want, old woman?  I was on my way to Deacon Edgewater’s funeral.”    

Lola looked up from behind her bifocals.  “Lovely to see you too, Mary Ann,” she said.  “Thank you for coming.  I have a few minutes before my next class starts so I thought you and I would have a little chat.” 

“For the one thousandth time, can you please call me Alex.” 

“Your name was Mary Ann when you got off that bus from Detroit, and it always will be.”

Alex rolled her eyes.  “What do you want to talk to me about?” 

“About you and my son,” she said, plucking a cigarette from a metal case and jamming it between her lips.  “I know I haven’t always been a supporter of your friendship, your relationships, or your two marriages, but I’ve changed my mind.” 

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m giving you my blessing,” she said, lighting the cigarette and blowing a stream of smoke into the air.  “You may resume your romance with Jordan at a mutually agreed upon time.  Whether that will ever happen is up to the two of you.  You’re both so damned stubborn it’s no wonder your last two marriages were so brief.” 

Alex shook her head in amusement.  “What the hell makes you think I need or want your blessing?’ she asked.  “Jordan and is an adult and he can do what he pleases with or without your consent.  What’s changed?”

She sighed.  “Nothing.  And everything.  This maniac who’s after me has already struck and succeeded twice.  I can only assume I’m the next to go.  I don’t want there to be any unresolved issues when I’m gone.”

“You mean because you’ve never liked me?” Alex asked  “Because you pushed Jordan and Suzanne into a disaster of a marriage just to keep him away from me?  What do you have against me, anyway?  And don’t tell me it’s because I upstaged you in every film we did together, because I don’t buy it.” 

Lola rose from the theatre seat and stood before her.  “Do you want to know why, Mary Ann?” she began.  “I never liked you because you breezed into town and two minutes later had directors barking at your feet to give you roles.  You had a career that rivaled mine and I was jealous.  And yes, you upstaged me in The Briar Patch, but only because you were a far better actress.” 

Alex frowned.  “So you kept me away from Jordan because of some petty jealousy?” she asked in disbelief.  “You saw what Nathan did to me that night at the mansion and you kept quiet because you were jealous?  I don’t believe you.”  

“It’s true,” she said with a shrug, cigarette still clamped between her teeth.  “I’m not proud of it, but it’s who I am.  Face it.  I never had a decent role until I met Jonas.  And even when I did, I couldn’t keep up.  Look what happened when I got overworked.  I had my own sister take over my life.  I just wasn’t cut out for the fast track and you walked in and did it like it was the easiest thing in the world.” 

“It wasn’t easy,” Alex said.  “I struggled every bit as much as you did.” 

“At times, yes,” she said.  “But you’ve persevered.”

Alex grew quiet for a few moments.  “I don’t regret marrying James.  I had two wonderful children by him.  But I can’t say I don’t wonder if things would have been different if Jordan and I had pursued our relationship back then.” 

“Now’s the time to find out,” Lola said.  She trudged through a pile of glitter on the floor as she paced before her.  How many times had she told the staff to clean up from the previous night’s show?  The stuff was everywhere.  “Since Benji’s death, Jordan has been searching for anything to hold on to.  Whether it’s finding my attacker or desperately trying to protect his daughter.  He needs you, Alex.  Whether or not you believe it, he does.” 

Alex grew silent, awed that the woman had not only called her by her name, but that she had been so profoundly honest with her.  When Lola disappeared into the back, she turned and padded up through the theatre.   A noise from behind caused her to jump with a start and quickly spin around.  To her surprise, Denise Syswicki was hunched over in of the theatre seats. 

“Denise?” she called out.  “What are you doing here?” 

Without answering, the woman turned and raced through the rows of seats, disappearing out a side door.  Alex stood behind, perplexed by the woman’s behavior. 

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy and Jane nestled into the chairs that sat before Mr. Brewer’s desk.  He was a stout man with wire-rimmed glasses and a few remaining hairs on the top of his nearly bald and very shiny head. 

“First of all,” he began.  “Welcome to Reconnections.  I’m sure that we’ll be able to help you find your way home.”  

“Actually,” Stormy began, his hand nestled around Jane’s.  “We’re looking for our son. We gave him up for adoption two years ago and we’re hoping to find him.” 

Jane smiled and squeezed his hand for maximum effect.  “We decided not to have the adoption agency tell us where he was placed because we thought he’d be better off, but now…”

“Now you’re having second thoughts,” the man finished for her.  “I completely understand Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” 

“We don’t want to take him away from his new family,” Stormy went on.  “But we just want to know that he’s being taken care of.  The adoption agency said since we signed that waiver, they can’t tell us the names of the adoptive parents.  We were hoping you could help us.” 

“Let’s start with some basic information,” Mr. Brewer began.  “When did you say you gave birth, Mrs. Smith?”

“February 28th, 2009.”

“I see,” he said and typed a few things into the computer.  “And you say it was a boy?” 

“That’s right,” Stormy said. 

“Very good.”  The desk on his phone rang and he answered it hastily.  “Miss Perky, I’m in a consultation.  Yes, please take a message.”  He hung up and looked back up at Stormy and Jane.  “Pardon the distraction.  We have a relatively small staff and things get fairly hectic at times.” 

“No problem,” Stormy said and gave Jane a smile and a squeeze of her hand. 

“Now where were we?” the man continued.  “Oh, yes.  What hospital did you give birth at?”

“UCLA,” Jane responded. 

Suddenly, a deafening alarm sounded throughout the office.  Mr. Brewer jumped to his feet and looked around for a minute before grabbing the phone and calling the receptionist.  “Miss Perky, what is going on?  Oh, I see.  Very well.  Yes.” 

“Problem?” Stormy asked.

“Fire alarm,” he replied.  “I’m sure it’s just a false alarm, but we should probably go outside nonetheless.  You can never tell with the wildfires in the area.” 

“Of course,” Jane said and rose to her feet, her purse clutched before her. 

“Right this way,” Mr. Brewer said and ushered them to the door.   They followed him closely, but Stormy waited for the right moment before ducking back into the office and closing the door.

Quickly, he raced around the man’s desk and leaned over the computer.  A brief glance at the system told him it was fairly easy to navigate.  Luckily the business hadn’t upgraded to a very advanced software system.  He knew he only had a minute or two to work with, so he quickly did a search for Keaton Hartley in the database.  The downfall to the older system was that it ran at a snail’s pace. 

Out in the hall, staff members quickly evacuated.  Jane stalled for as long as she could.  When Mr. Brewer turned and surveyed the reception area, he frowned and addressed her point blank.

“Where is Mr. Smith?” he asked.

Jane looked around nervously.   “He must have gotten out already.” 

The man shook his head.   “No, he was behind us.  I’m positive of it.” 

Jane panicked, unsure of how she was going to prevent him from going back into the office and finding Stormy searching his computer files.  The last thing she needed was to wind up getting arrested again.  She was already on probation.  One more incident and she could land herself in jail. 

“Uh, are you sure?” she asked and followed him in a desperate attempt to stall.  “Because I’m sure I saw him go out ahead of us.” 

The man turned the knob and pushed the door open. 

"Mr. Brewer, wait!"  Jane called after him.  To her relief, Stormy was not at the computer, but standing on the other side of the door breathing heavily, a panicked look on his face.

“Thank God,” Stormy said.  “I couldn’t get the door open.  I thought for sure I was toast.” 

Mr. Brewer frowned and checked the knob.  “The door is fine,” he said and looked around to ensure the office was secure.  “Are you quite alright, Mr. Smith?” 

Stormy nodded and took a few deep breaths.  “I’ll be fine.  I just need some air.  Thank you for your time, Mr. Brewer.” 

He walked after them.  “What about your son?” he asked.  “Are you still interested in finding him?” 

Stormy shook his head before leaving.  “Now that I think of it, he’s probably better off with his adoptive parents.  Can you just forget the whole thing?” 

Before the man could reply, they were rushing out to the parking lot and into their car where Eddie and Miranda were waiting.

“Did you find anything?”  Eddie asked, wiping his hand that had been stained with blue ink from pulling the fire alarm.

Stormy nodded and instructed them to drive away.  “Keaton was adopted all right,” he said.  “He came here eight months ago looking for his biological parents.” 

“Did you see who they were?” Miranda asked.

He shook his head.  “No, he stopped using their service before they could locate a match,” he explained.  “But I did find something interesting."

“What?” Jane asked.

“Someone else registered with Reconnections a while back,” he told them.  “Someone who was looking for the son she gave up the same year that Keaton was born.” 

“Who?” they all asked in unison. 

Marilee Wells-Walker

“James, what are you doing here?” Marilee Wells-Walker asked when the door to her office at Wells Inc. opened and he entered with Eddie following close behind.   “Eddie?  Is everything okay?”  

“Marilee, we need to ask you about something,” James said, all business.  “We know you went to Reconnections for help in finding your and Will Thomerson's son."  

She slowly sat back down at her desk.  “Yes, I did.  How did you know?” 

“I was investigating the murders and we came across your name in their database,” Eddie confirmed.  “It said that Keaton Hartley had been listed as a possible match.  He was born the same year as your son.” 

Marilee sighed and looked at her desk with sadness in her eyes.  “After I learned that Kyle wasn’t my son, I was desperate so I went to Reconnections.  They did locate a young man who could have possible been the son I gave up.  He was the same age, he was adopted to a family in New York, and it just seemed like a good possibility.”

“Keaton has since withdrawn from his search,” James revealed.  “Did you ever meet him?”

She nodded.  “I sent him several notes through the agency,” she explained.  “They give the other party anonymity until they’re ready.  He didn’t respond to the first few, and then finally he told them to arrange a meeting.” 

“What happened?” James asked. 

Shaking her head in despair, Marilee rose from her desk and walked across the room.  “It was horrible,” she said somberly.  “Just like when Kyle told me he wasn’t my son, but worse.  He said he’d already found out where he came from and that I was just bothering him.  He said if he didn’t stop contacting him he’d call the police.”

“Did he say who his biological parents were?” Eddie asked.

Marilee shook her head.  “No, but he seemed fairly certain of it.  He said that he knew his father very well already and that it was only a matter of time before they came face to face.” 

James frowned and exchanged glances with Eddie.  “What do you think he meant by that?” 

“I don’t know,” Marilee replied.  “After he left, I had the agency send him another message telling him that I was sorry for whatever pain I had stirred up for him, and that if he ever wanted someone to talk to that I was happy to be that person.” 

James could tell how difficult it had been for her.  He could see the sadness in her eyes.  “I know this has been hard, Marilee.  I’m very sorry.” 

She walked to the credenza and opened a drawer.  “He sent this to me,” she said and produced a fax with hateful words scribbled across the page. 

James took it from her and shuddered at the message.  Don’t contact me again if you know what’s good for you, bitch.  “It's definitely Keaton's handwriting.  He seems like a very angry young man.” 

Marilee nodded and sat back down at her desk.  “Anyway, that was months ago.  I don’t know if he’s found the father he talked about or not.  I’m sorry I can’t be more help.  But do you really think Keaton could be involved in these murders?” 

Eddie looked at the fax and noticed something that made him pause.  “Can I take this?” he asked. 

She nodded.  “Of course.” 

James gave Marilee a quick embrace and a few words of encouragement before leaving.  Once they were in the elevator, James shook his head in uncertainty. 

“Who do you think Keaton was talking about when he said he’d found his father?” 

Eddie looked at him with a knowing shrug.  “Only one person I can think of.  You saw how he acted the other day when Nathan was almost pulverized by that falling camera crane.  How he went on about how much he’s worshiped him?” 

“You think Nathan could be Keaton’s father?”  James asked.

“He and my dad were total womanizers back in their day,” Eddie told him.  “Is it really such a stretch that Renee was the only woman out of dozens that he got pregnant?  I’d be surprised if Nathan didn’t have another kid out there somewhere.” 

James tried to process the information.  “But that doesn’t mean Keaton’s a killer.” 

“Unless he’s bent out of shape about being given away for adoption,” Eddie suggested.  “Imagine worshiping someone your entire life only to find out that he’s your father.  Something in his mind could have snapped.  How well do any of us really know Keaton Hartley?” 

Kyle Fenwick

Against his better judgment, Kyle went in to see Mackenzie.  He figured he needed to do that much if he was to avoid suspicion.  While he stood at her bedside, she remained unconscious, her head bandaged from the fall and several scrapes covering her face. 

“I’m sorry,” he said out loud.  “You have to believe me that I never meant for you to get hurt.  I know we haven’t been close.  I know you were bitter that I was adopted and you weren’t.  I’ve always wanted nothing but the best for you, Mac.  You’re my sister.  I love you.” 

Slowly, she began to stir.  Her eyes fluttered open and she looked at him with contention.  “Kyle-“ she said, her voice raspy and her lips cracked and dry.   “What happened?” 

Nervously, he stepped forward.  “You fell,” he reminded her.  “We were talking on the lookout off Mulholland you slipped on the rocks.  Don’t you remember?”

Straining, she finally nodded with difficulty.  “Mason…” she began.  “You and Mason were in on it together.”

“No, we weren’t,” he insisted.  “That’s what I was trying to tell you when you fell.  You’ve got it all wrong, Mac.  If Mason is up to something, I have nothing to do with it.”

With each second that passed, she came out of her groggy state.  “You bribed that senator to allow the marina expansion,” she said.  “That’s why Mason has been hanging around.  What does he have to do with it, Kyle?” 

“I don’t know,” he insisted.  He glanced through the windows and saw Ethan coming down the hall toward the room.  Desperately, he tried to reason with her.  “Look, I’ll find out what Mason’s up to.  Just know that I haven’t done anything wrong.” 

“Then why am I in the hospital?” she asked. 

“You fell,” he said.  “It was an accident.” 

They were interrupted when Ethan walked in, his face lighting up when he saw that Mackenzie was awake. 

“Thank God,” he said and rushed toward her.  “I thought I was going to lose you.  How are you feeling?  Do want me to get the nurse?”

“I feel like I got hit by a truck,” she said wryly.  “I’ll be fine, though.  Ethan, there’s something I have to tell you.  You were right about Mason.  He-“

Desperate, Kyle flew into action.  “Uh, Ethan,” he began.  “Brooke called and wanted to know if you could still make Michael’s appointment.  She really wants you to be there.” 

Ethan paused and nodded in frustration.  “Yeah, I need to be there.  I’ll call her and see if she can reschedule.”  He looked back at Mackenzie.  “I need to step out for a minute.  I’ll have the nurse come in and check on you.  The police are going to want to know what happened last night.” 

After he left, Kyle looked at Mackenzie.  “You can see how close they are now, can’t you?” he asked her.  “If you turn Brooke against me, they’re going to end up together again.  Is that what you want, sister?” 

“Your horns are showing,” she said, wincing from the pain in her head.  “Fine, I won’t tell him anything yet.  But if you’re lying to me, Kyle, I swear to God I will blow you so far out of the water that you won’t know what hit you.” 

“Thank you,” he said.  “I promise you won’t regret it.  I’ll find out what Mason’s up to.  Who are you going to tell them you were with last night?”

“I’ll think of something,” she said and shook her head. 

Alex Reynolds

Glitter was everywhere, Alex thought bitterly as she kicked her shoes off in the doorway of her penthouse in Beverly Hills.   On her shoes, her nylons, and now all over her living room carpet.  Damn Lola and her acting class. 

Following Deacon’s funeral, she felt particularly morose, so she wanted nothing more than to climb into bed and draw the blinds.   A knock at the door, however, told her her afternoon plans weren’t going to go as she’d hoped. 

“What on earth are you doing here?” she asked when she opened the door and saw Philip Whitacre standing in the hall, a wiseacre grin on his handsome face. 

“Hello Alex,” Philip said and strode inside.  “Nice place. What happened to your house in Malibu?” 

“I sold it,” she said and slammed the door angrily.  “And I asked you a question.  What are you doing here?” 

“I thought you’d be happy to see me.  It wasn’t that long ago that you tracked me down in Phoenix and had me fly up here to break up Brooke Taylor and your ex-husband, James Blackthorne.” 

“That was five years ago,” she said.  “Ancient history.” 

He grinned and stepped closer to her.  “Come on, aren’t you even the least big nostalgic for those days?  We were quite the pair between the sheets.  You couldn’t keep your hands off me back then.  What’s changed?” 

“A lot,” she said, in no mood for his sleazy charms.  “Sleeping with you, Philip, was a huge mistake.  Just like you coming here was a mistake.  Now I’d like you to leave.” 

“How about I give you a refresher of the gun show?” he asked and flexed his arm muscles.

“How offensive,” she said and traipsed across the room.

Before she knew it, he was grabbing her arm and pulling her toward him.  “You know you still can’t resist me,” he said.  “I figure you owe me, anyway.  I helped you break your ex-husband up with my ex-wife, and all I got was a prison sentence.  When do I get my break?"

“How about if I break your arm?” she said and pushed him away. 

A knock at the door alerted her to a visitor.  Quickly, she raced over to open it, relieved to see that it was Jordan.

“I just wanted to come by and-“ he began, then stopped when he realized she wasn’t alone.  “What the hell is he doing here?”

“Hey, listen,” Philip said, backing away.  “I know you’re probably still pissed about your daughter, but I can explain-“ 

“Explain what, you son of a bitch?” Jordan said and grabbed him by the arm, flinging him across the room.

“I was just trying to make him leave,” Alex explained.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Jordan said and pulled him to the door.  “Get out and go back to wherever the hell you came from.  If I see you around here again, I’ll find someone to do to you what you did to my daughter.” 

Before he could protest, Philip was thrown out into the hallway.  Alex rushed over to Jordan and threw her arms around him.

“Thank you,” she said with a sigh of relief.  “I was afraid he would never leave.” 

“Are you okay?” Jordan said and looked into her eyes.  “You seem upset.  Is it just about Philip?”

She shook her head.  “No, I just came from Deacon’s funeral.  It was hard to get through it.  I nearly couldn’t bring myself to go.” 

Jordan lifted her face to his and kissed her softly.  Alex pulled away for a moment and then kissed him in return.  As she knew it would, it felt very right being in his arms again.

Stormy Blackthorne

“Heather’s back?” Stormy asked in surprise as he and Brett stood on the sound stages at Sunset Studios.  “When?  How is she?” 

“She’s fine,” Brett replied.  “She’s great, actually.  I took Violet over to see her this morning.”

“I need to call Miranda and we should go see her.”

“I think she needs to get settled in before she starts getting a lot of visitors,” Brett cautioned him.  “I think being back is kind of a shock to her system.” 

Stormy leveled a look of suspicion on him.  “Are you worried about Heather’s well-being or are you just trying to keep everyone from filling her in on what you’ve been up to since she’s been gone?  Face it, Brett, you weren’t exactly a loyal husband while she was away.” 

“She knows about Suzanne and I,” he reminded him.

“Well that’s not all you have working against you,” Stormy continued.  “There’s still the matter of you and your sabotage efforts against Deacon Edgewater.  How would Heather feel is she knew you’d driven a man to suicide?” 

“I told you I had nothing to do with his suicide,” Brett said.  It was getting easier to deny it to himself, but he still couldn’t help but drown in the guilt at times.  He’d gone to the man’s funeral but only succeeded in making it as far as the cemetery gate.  “I’m not the monster you make me out to be, junior.” 

“Yes, I forgot, you’ve changed,” Stormy said with a sarcastic roll of his eyes just as Keaton called cut from across the stage. 

“That’s a wrap everybody.  Great work.” 

Applause from the cast and crew erupted and Nathan gave a dramatic bow.  Stormy decided to let his issues with Brett go for the time being in light of the end to the film’s principal photography.

“Congratulations,” Stormy said and patted his great uncle on the back.  The Benefactor is sure to be a blockbuster.” 

“That it is, Ryan,” Nathan agreed.  “That it is.” 

Keaton approached and extended his hand to Nathan. “I can’t tell you how honored I was to direct you these past few months, Mr. Blackthorne.  It’s really been a privilege.” 

Nathan eyed him suspiciously.  “You did a fine job, Keaton.  I’m sure you have a bright career ahead of you.” 

Even as he said it, he didn’t believe it.  Keaton Hartley was hiding something, and he was more sure than ever that he was the killer.

“Listen,” Keaton continued.  “I was wondering if we could talk later this evening.  There’s something I’d really like to tell you and I figure what better time than now that the film is finished.” 

Nathan regarded him with a frown.  His instincts told him to turn his offer down, but the more he thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea.  Maybe he could finally get to the bottom of whatever was going on with the young man. 

“Okay,” Nathan said.  “Eight o’clock at my place on Alvarado Court?” 

Keaton’s eyes glazed over.  “Great.  I’ll be there.”

Miranda Blackthorne

When James and Eddie arrived at police headquarters to tell Detective Rodriguez what they’d learned, Miranda was there waiting for them. 

“How did it go with Marilee?” she asked when they assembled in the man’s office. 

“Keaton isn’t her son,” James announced.  “But we think we know who the boy’s father might be.” 

“Who?” Rodriguez asked. 

“My Uncle Nathan,” James reported.  “It fits perfectly.  He’s been fanatic about him since he started working on the film.  You should have seen how eager he was when we were scouting directors.  He blew the competition out of the water.” 

“What new, inexperienced director wouldn’t be?” Rodriguez asked.  “What proof do you have?  How do you know he's Nathan Blackthorne's son?”

“Nathan did numerous films the year before Keaton was born,” James explained.  “He was literally on every billboard in town.  He had women flocking around him every step he took.  And we all know what a ladies’ man he was.” 

“We think Keaton is holding some kind of grudge,” Eddie explained.

“That’s just not enough to go on,” the detective told them.

“What about his glasses that were found at Jack’s murder scene?” James inquired.  “Or the photographs he claims he purchased for a scrap book?  If nothing else, that at least warrants bringing him in for questioning.” 

“If that doesn’t, then this should,” Eddie claimed, producing the note Keaton had written to Marilee. 

“Don’t contact me again if you know what’s good for you, bitch,” Miranda read over his shoulder.  “Wow, passive-aggressive much?”

Rodriguez shook his head.  “That still doesn’t prove anything.  He felt like she was harassing him.” 

“Not the words,” Eddie said, taking the page and walking across the room to where the detective had posted all of the photographs that the killer had left.  “Look at the picture of Bianca Burnett the killer faxed after Nathan’s last accident.”

“I don’t get it,” James said.

Eddie pointed to the top right corner of the photograph.  “Look at the flaw in the picture.  I thought it was photo-burned but now I realize it wasn’t the photo, it was the fax machine.” 

“Huh?” Rodriguez asked.

Eddie pointed to the identical flaw on the faxed message to Marilee.  “See?  It’s the same.  Same flaw, same place.  The same fax machine was used to fax the picture of Bianca and the note to Marilee.” 

Rubbing his temples the detective looked at the two faxes.  "Today it's Keaton Hartley.  Yesterday it was Denise Syswicki.  I think you're grasping, James."

"Well then get this," Eddie said.  "I checked the history on Keaton's phone.  There were several calls to and from Denise Syswicki.  Most of them dated back before the murders started.  They're both involved somehow."

James looked at the detective.  “Now do you have enough to go on?” 

Rodriguez scratched his head while inspecting the two photographs.  The phone on his desk suddenly rang and he answered it abruptly.

“Rodriguez,” he answered, then listened to his officer.  “When?” 

From the sound of his voice, James could tell something else had happened.  As soon as the detective hung up, he pried him for information.  “What is it?” 

“Looks like there was another victim we hadn’t considered,” he said.

“What do you mean?” Eddie asked.

“Deacon Edgewater’s housekeeper just came in with new information,” he began.  “She says that the night of his suicide, she saw a man fleeing from the house.  I’ll give you one guess who it was.” 

“Keaton Hartley?” Eddie asked.

“Keaton Hartley,” he confirmed.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke decided to stop by the hospital to see if there was anything she could do for Ethan.  Despite the contention in their relationship as of late, she still felt for him and knew he must be worried about Mackenzie.  

On her way to the emergency room, she ran into Philip.  “Are you following me?” she demanded. 

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Philip replied, his arm in a sling and a piece of paper clutched in his hand.  “I had to see a doctor because that lunatic Jordan Rydell practically pulled my arm out of joint today.”

“I’m sure you deserved it,” Brooke quipped.  “Now if you’ll excuse me.” 

He followed her down the hall to the waiting room.  “What are you doing here?” 

“I’m visiting a friend,” she said.  “Is that okay with you?  Or are you going to analyze that part of my life too?”

“Did what I said earlier get to you?” he asked in amusement.  “Sorry, Brooke. I  just call it like I see it.  With you there’s always some drama that puts you at odds with the man in your life.  Surely even you can see that trend by now.” 

“Bug off,” she said, spotting Ethan in the waiting room and rushing inside while letting the door close in Philip’s face.   Quickly, she went to Ethan and put a hand out to him.  “Hi.” 

“Hi.  I’m sorry I had to cancel today.  I really wanted to be at that appointment.   I hope you understand.”

“Of course I do,” Brooke said.  “Is she any better?”

He nodded.  “She’s conscious.  They’re keeping her overnight because she has a pretty bad concussion.” 

“What happened to her anyway?” 

“I have no idea,” Ethan said.  “She claims she pulled over for something and that’s when she fell on the rocks.  She said she was alone when it happened.” 

Brooke frowned.  “Was that before or after Kyle saw her?” 

“Kyle didn’t see Mackenzie last night,” Ethan corrected her.  “He said she called and wanted to meet him at his house but she never showed up.”

“He told you that?” 

Ethan nodded.  “Me, James and the police.” 

“Kyle told me that he saw Mackenzie last night,” Brooke said, distinctly recalling her conversation with him that morning... 

“Did she mention if they were going anywhere when you saw her last night?”  Brooke asked him.

“No, she didn’t mention anything,” Kyle responded. 

“What did she want to talk to you about anyway?” Brooke asked. 

“Just some family business,” he answered...

“So why did he tell the police that he didn’t see her?” Ethan wanted to know. 

They were interrupted when a nurse appeared and gathered Ethan’s attention.  “Mr. Blackthorne, visiting hours are almost over.  I thought you might want to say goodnight to Ms. Stone first.” 

Ethan nodded and followed her out of the waiting room.  Once he was gone, Philip walked in and approached Brooke with a look as if to say I told you so. 

“So there it is,” he began.

“There what is?” 

“Your out,” he said.  “The thing that will push this Kyle guy away.  Just like you pushed me away, James away, and Ethan away.  How does it feel, Brooke?  How does it feel to know that no man will ever live up to your expectations?” 

She shook her head in frustration.  She had no interest in talking to him.  All she cared about now was finding out why Kyle had lied to the police.  “When are you going home?” she demanded. 

“Don’t worry, I’m leaving tonight,” he said.  “Just don’t forget what I said.  Sometimes, Brooke, you have to let sleeping dogs lie.”

She rolled her eyes.  “Do you know who made up that expression?  A dog.  Goodbye, Philip.” 

With that, she turned and walked out of the room. 

Lola Lamont

That evening after the sun had gone down and the last of the acting students had left the Playhouse, Lola collected her things and waited for Chad to do a security sweep of the parking lot.  Standing on stage with her purse and notebooks tucked in her arms, she looked out at the dark theatre.

For a split second, she thought she’d seen movement in the aisles.  Rumblings of fear overtook her and she glanced to the exit to see if Chad had returned from the parking lot.  So far nothing. 

When the spotlight in the crow’s nest across the theatre suddenly turned on and blinded her on stage, she dropped her belonging.    

“Hello?” she called out, shielding her eyes from the blinding light.   “Is anyone there?  Chad?  Is that you?”

Silence followed.  She quickly bent down to retrieve her items.  When she rose again, the spotlight turned off.  Swallowing hard, she backed up a few steps and inched her way to the exit. 

Rattling the door, she found it locked.  Panic overtook her senses.  She quickly raced across the stage to the door to the wardrobe room and barreled through.  A shriek tore loose from her throat when she saw Chad, her burly body guard, tied up on the floor with a gag over his mouth and a trickle of blood coming from the back of his head. 

“Chad,” she gasped, going toward him but realizing the killer could be anywhere.  He seemed to be breathing, so she didn’t waste time checking to see for sure.  She had to get out of there.   She was trapped and alone. 

Swiftly, she raced back out to the stage just as the curtain dropped on top of her.  Startled by the heavy fabric enveloping her, she clawed her way out and ran center stage, far away from the darkness of the theatre where anything or anyone could be hiding.

Sparks and crackling from above alerted her to more danger.  Glancing up, she saw a light tree falling toward her.  Quickly, she dashed out of the way, the heavy object crashing down inches from her head.  She fled down the steps from the stage, racing up the aisle to the back of the theatre.  She tried the doors but they were locked.  Trying as hard as she could, she beat on the doors, screaming and crying out for help. 

When she realized the effort was futile, she turned and hid behind a row of seats.  Crouched down to the floor, she watched and listened.  A deadly silence had fallen over the theatre.  Her fingernails grasped the red velvet seats.  Glitter from the floor covered her shoes. 

When she didn’t hear anything for several minutes, she slowly rose to her feet.  Her cell phone was in her purse on the stage where she’d dropped it.  If she could get to it in time, she could call for help.

Quickly, she raced back down the aisle, stopping when a familiar face appeared out of nowhere. 

“Thank God,” she said, breathing heavily and placing a hand on the person’s shoulder for support.  “Someone’s after me.  It’s the killer.  Hurry. We have to get out of here.” 

But when she saw the blade from the knife gleaming in the light, her eyes widened in horror.  Realization finally dawned.  The killer was directly in front of her.  

“Don’t do this,” she said, backing up.  “Don’t.  Please.” 

But it was too late. The knife sunk into her stomach in one clean movement.  Blood ebbed from her mouth and covered her hands that instinctively went to the point of entry.   Slowly, she sunk to the floor, the last image her mind processed being the killer dropping a picture of her sister Lana next to her on the floor. 

Eddie Distefano

Eddie and Miranda sat in Detective Rodriguez’s office while they waited for James to finish with the police.  Seated side by side in hard wooden chairs, they looked awkwardly at one another and then looked away.  The silence was finally broken when Eddie spoke up. 

“We managed to get a lot done today,” he said.

“Yeah,” Miranda quickly agreed with a nod of her head. 

More silence, then Eddie spoke again.  “Think we found the killer.  Or killers.  I hope.” 

“I hope so too,” she said, glancing awkwardly around the room. 

After a few more moments of uncomfortable quiet, they both spoke in unison.  “So I’ve been thinking.-“

“Sorry,” Eddie said with a laugh.  “Go ahead.” 

“No, you first.”

He shrugged.  “I was just thinking that I’ve been kind of a jerk lately,” he said.  “I know we settled this David thing a long time ago.  I guess finding out for sure that Tiger wasn’t mine really drove it home.  It wasn’t fair of me to hold it against you.” 

“It wasn’t fair of me to keep so many things from you,” Miranda said.  “David, Hugh Rogers, Gemma.  All of it.  I’m sorry, Eddie.  I’m just sorry.” 

“I know you are,” he said with a reassuring smile. 

When the silence that followed grew too unbearable, Miranda sighed and turned to face him.  “So what do you we do now?” she asked.

He hesitated for a minute and then suggested the only thing he could think of.  “How about we get married?” 

Jordan Rydell

When Jordan got home, he decided it was time to tell Heather about her brother.  So far they had managed to keep the truth about what happened to Benji from her, afraid that she wouldn’t be able to handle it.  But after seeing how far she’d come in her treatment, he realized telling her before she heard it from someone else was the only thing to do.  She’d already asked about him numerous times, to which she answered in the vaguest terms possible. 

“He’s gone?” Heather asked, tears flooding her eyes as they sat on the edge of her bed.  “Daddy, no.”

“I know, sweetheart,” he said, hugging her close.  “It was my fault.  I let things get too bad with your brother.  Just like I did with you.”

She shook her head, sobbing.  “No.  It wasn’t your fault.” 

“I turned my back on him, Princess,” Jordan said.  “How could I have done that?” 

“He was sick,” she cried.  “Just like I was.  You can’t blame yourself for what happened to him any more than you can for what happened to me.” 

He put his arm around her and held her close.  “I just feel like I’ve let you down,” he said.  “I’ve let everyone down.  Everything that mattered, I’ve lost.”

“You haven’t lost me,” she said.  “You haven’t.” 

"I'm going to make it right," Jordan said distantly.  "I promise you I'm going to make it right."  

Heather wiped her eyes.  She couldn't believe how much had changed since she'd been away.

Jordan up from the bed while still holding on to her hand.   “Come on,” he said.  “Let’s go get some dinner.”  

“Look,” Heather said, pointing to his shoes which were covered in glitter.  “Where did that come from?” 

He looked down at his feet and brushed some of the sparkly substance off onto the floor.   “I’m not sure,” he said.  “I’ll get Gordon to vacuum it up.”

She followed him to the doorway, holding his hand and crying silently after hearing the news about Benji. 

Nathan Blackthorne

Nathan opened the door of his bungalow on Alvarado Court and gestured for Keaton to enter.  Big band music played on the stereo and there was a fully stocked bar across the room. 

“This is very nice,” Keaton said upon entering.  “I always read about your place on Alvarado Court and wondered what it looked like inside.” 

Nathan looked around while taking a deep breath.  “This place has seen some wild, crazy times over the years.” 

“I can imagine,” Keaton said.  “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.” 

Nathan handed him a drink and sipped his own.  “I’m sure a Hollywood historian such as yourself knows more about what happened here than I do.  I wasn’t exactly lucid for most of the seventies.”

Keaton laughed and adjusted the zipper on his navy cashmere half-zip.  “People don’t have parties like that anymore.  It’s a shame.  Hollywood was a different place back then.” 

“Yes, it was,” Nathan said and gestured for him to sit down on the sofa.   “So what is it you wanted to tell me so badly, Keaton?  I’m very curious about what has you so enamored by me.”

“Enamored is a little bit of an exaggeration,” the director told him.  “I just have been a very big fan for a very long time.” 

“Sometimes we take our obsessions a bit too far,” Nathan said, watching him carefully.  “I should know.  I wasted half of my life doing just that. “

Keaton teetered back and forth on his feet as he stared into his drink.

“Isn’t that what this is all about, Keaton?” Nathan continued.  “Isn’t this all just a game of obsession?”  

“I don’t know what you mean.” 

“Elana, Jack, now me and Victor and Lola.  Haven’t you taken it all too far?”

Keaton crossed the room and set his drink down.  “It’s hot in here,” he said and took off his jacket.  From the interior pocket, something fell to the floor. 

Nathan reacted quickly, turning and pulling a pistol from a drawer at the bar.  He turned and aimed it at the director.  “Don’t,” he told him.  “Step away from whatever that is.” 

“It isn’t what you think,” Keaton said.  “It’s my autograph book.  All this time spending day after day on the set with you, I forgot to get it for my scrapbook.” 

“Your scrapbook?” Nathan asked suspiciously.  “You expect me to believe that?  After everything, you’re still claiming you’re just a fan?” 

“Yes,” Keaton said.  “I mean, there’s more to it than that.  There’s something you don’t know about me.  There’s something nobody knows.”

“That you’re a homicidal maniac?” Nathan asked. 

Keaton dashed across the room to retrieve the object that had fallen.  Nathan quickly ran toward him, waiving the gun threateningly at him.  At that moment, the door burst open and James and Detective Rodriguez entered. 

“Nathan, don’t!” James shouted.  “Let the police handle it.”

“Why?  So he can kill again?  So he can torture us with our past mistakes?”

“Mr. Blackthorne,” Rodriguez said.  “Put the gun down.  Let the police handle it from here.  We have evidence.  We can put him away.”

“He’ll get out,” Nathan said.  “This is a very resourceful young man we’re dealing with.”

“We just found a bloody knife outside in his car,” Rodriguez said, holding up an evidence bag with a dagger in it.  “He's been communicating with Denise Syswicki and we think she's involved.  Mr. Blackthorne, we’ve got him.” 

“A comfy jail cell?” Nathan asked, aiming the gun at him.  “No, he deserves to get exactly what he’s been giving.”   

“Nathan, there’s something else,” James said.  “He’s your son, Nathan.  Keaton is your son.” 

Nathan looked at him in awe, lowering the gun and blinking in disbelief.  Across the room, Keaton stared with wide eyes. 

Alex Reynolds

Alex finished her nightly bath and walked out to the living room in her bathrobe.  She couldn't help but wonder if things were about to change between her and Jordan.  He seemed different when he came to her apartment earlier that day. Something in his eyes told her he was not the same man who had broken things off with her after Benji died.  He'd grew wary, tired even.  Maybe he was ready to let all the pain go.   

Heading to the bar to pour a glass of club soda, she lifted a glass and promptly dropped it when she saw someone standing across the room staring at her.   

"Denise!" she shrieked, her heart beating wildly.  "What are you doing here?"


Next time....

Two arrests are made.  The sale of Moomnshadows draws near.  Kyle and Mason come to blows.  Brooke makes a decision about her romantic life.  Michael's school calls with troubling news.

 

 

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