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Episode 17

 

Release Date:  March 31, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

James verbally attacked Alex for manipulating him in the Caribbean and for her role in the takover of Sunset Studios. Fearing that he was losing ground with Alex, Jordan faked a heart attack to get her sympathy, then later bribed Winter into telling Alex he was in poor health.  Feeling guilty, Alex accepted Jordan's marriage proposal. After being tricked into thinking she was a suspect, Devon admitted to Brett that she killed Bailey.  Devon was arrested and taken into custody. Miranda became alarmed when she witnessed one of James's headaches. Stormy and Lauren continued their affair as Brett became more convinced they were hiding something.  Brooke suffered from nightmares about Ethan's death.  Later, a delerious Ethan appeared at a mission in the Dominican Republic where nuns were caring for him.


 

 Episode 17

"Young Americans in Love"

 

Stormy drove his tricked out Cobra II down Pacific Coast Highway and turned off toward the marina.   He drove down the crowded streets along the beach and parked next to a group of kids skateboarding in a parking lot.

Jumping out of the driver’s seat, he slammed the door shut and started toward the apartment building.   He jogged up the three flights of stairs and knocked on the door.  A minute later Lauren answered in the nude, a broad smile on her tan face.

Winter just left for work,” she said, grabbing his arm and pulling him inside.

“How much time do we have?” Stormy asked, covering her with hurried kisses.

“We’ve got all afternoon,” Lauren replied, unbuttoning his shirt and peeling it off of his body.  She ran her tongue along his chest as he fumbled with his belt and unfastened it hastily.

“Come on,” Lauren said.  She took his hand and led him into her sun-drenched bedroom.    They laid down on the bed and Stormy covered her with his muscular body, kissing her neck and working his way down to her shoulders.

“God I want you,” Stormy groaned as he looked into her eyes and slowly began making love to her.

Good Times Records

Heather walked into Stormy’s office at Good Times Records and, after finding it empty, went next door to Eddie’s office.  She found him sitting at his desk with a voluptuous blond on his lap, running her hands over his chest through his open shirt.

“Have you seen Stormy?” she asked, her long brown hair pinned back with two braids.   Seeing Eddie with the bimbo was no shock to her.  Since Stormy had been working with him over the years, she had come to expect his womanizing behavior.

“I thought he was here,” Eddie replied, looking up at her with surprise.  The blond girl tousled his hair and continued groping him in his seat.  He shrugged.   “Maybe he’s in the recording booth.”

“Thanks,” Heather said, waving before she went down the hall to the studio.   When she arrived in the booth, she found it empty and she sighed with frustration. 

She felt like she hadn’t seen her husband in days.  He was always working with Lauren.  Even when they were home together he was in front of the stereo listening to something he’d recorded that day.   She’d try to talk to him, or to initiate contact of some kind, and he brushed her off.   There was always something more important than her.

Sighing with despair, she sat down in the chair and picked up some sheet music laying nearby.    Raising an eyebrow, she began humming the bars quietly to herself.   The melody caught her attention immediately.    She wondered if it was something he’d been working on for Lauren.    The composer’s name didn’t ring a bell, but whoever wrote it certainly had a hit on their hands.

Kicking her legs up on the control board, she sang a few notes from the sheet music.   Her leg slipped and pressed a button on the controls.  Suddenly, the room filled with loud, blaring music.   She quickly shot to her feet, searching for the control to shut it off.    As the music progressed, she rolled her eyes with the realization that it was Lauren singing.  She didn’t know why she was surprised.

“Oh shut up!” Heather screamed, still searching with no avail for the off switch. 

Just then, the door opened and Eddie bolted inside, immediately switching off the overhead music.   “Let me get that for you,” he said.

Heather smiled and looked at him apologetically.  “I didn’t know how to shut it off,” she said.   “Thanks, Eddie.”

“No problem,” he said, examining her expression.  “Hey, are you okay, Heather?” 

She nodded evasively.  “Sure.  Why?”

Laughing, Eddie folded his arms and leaned against the wall.  “I saw your expression when that song came on,” he began.  “She’s not one of your favorite people, is she?”

Heather realized she’d been caught.    There was obviously no hiding her feelings for Lauren Spencer.  “It’s that obvious?” she asked with a smile.

“Hey, you don’t have to explain to me,” he said.  “I know how important Lauren’s career is to Stormy.   I can only imagine how that makes you feel.”

“No, I don’t think you can.”

Realizing the topic made her uncomfortable, Eddie decided to leave it alone and give her a break.  He glanced down at the sheet music in her hand.   “Why don’t you try it out?”

She looked at him with a frown, then down at the music.  “No, I don’t think so,” she replied, shaking her head with a polite smile. 

“Come on,” he coaxed.  “I used to love listening to you sing.  Give it a shot.”

Slightly embarrassed, Heather cleared her throat and quietly sang the opening notes of the song.    She laughed nervously and dropped the pages to her side with a shrug.

“That was very good,” Eddie said.

“No, it wasn’t.”

“Yeah, it was,” he insisted, noting the excitement evident on her face.   “You know, I’ve got some musicians coming in in a few minutes.  Why don’t you stick around and we can run through it live.”

Heather shook her head adamantly and set the music down on the table.  “No, that’s okay,” she said.  “I should get going.  I’m meeting my father for lunch.”

“So come back after,” Eddie said persuasively.  “You know you want to.”

Heather looked at him and beamed happily.   She was tempted to take him up on his offer.   All she wanted was a chance.  Maybe she should take the opportunity and not turn it down so quickly.

Cedars-Sinai

Brooke sat in her doctor’s office at Cedars-Sinai and watched her from across the desk, trying to predict what she was about to say.

“You’re in perfect health, Miss Taylor,” said Dr. Laura Mitchell, a pretty blond woman in her thirties.  “All your tests came back with very positive results.”

Brooke shrugged and attempted a smile.  “That’s great, Dr. Mitchell, but that doesn’t explain why I’ve been feeling so tired lately.   Since I got back from the Caribbean a couple weeks ago I’ve been so worn out.”

“That’s to be expected,” Dr. Mitchell said, folding her arms on the desk and smiling politely.

“What do you mean?” Brooke asked in confusion.

“You’re pregnant,” Dr. Mitchell said happily.

Brooke’s eyes widened and she felt the air rush from her lungs.    She leaned back in the chair and stared at the doctor in a daze.  She couldn’t believe what she was sitting there listening to.  Pregnant?   She didn’t know how to feel about it.

“I take it this is a surprise,” Dr. Mitchell said, noting Brooke’s expression.

She nodded, trying to register the information.  “Yes, it is.”

“Well, you’re very early on,” said the Doctor.  “I’d like to do some more tests and then I can tell you exactly how far along you are.  But as of right now I’d have to say no more than a few weeks.”

“A few weeks?” Brooke asked.  She did the math quickly in her head and closed her eyes in regret.   If she was only a few weeks along, that meant that Ethan was the father of her baby.   A few weeks ago she and James were already having problems in their marriage and they hadn’t been intimate.   It was days later that she and Ethan had made love.  Once in his house in the Valley and two more times when they were in the Dominican Republic, before he….

The news was unsettling at first, but the more she thought about it the happier she became.   Ethan was gone but she was carrying his baby.  She would always have a part of him with her.

When she left Dr. Mitchell’s office, she walked in a daze down the hallway, passing Winter Austen who stood at the nurse’s station.

Winter looked at her and clenched her teeth.  She looked around, noting that several doctors and nurses were present and it wasn’t a good time for a confrontation.  But sooner or later she would have her say with Brooke Taylor.   She looked down the hallway, wondering what she was doing at the hospital and why she looked so out of sorts.

Beach Club

Heather arrived at the Valley Beach Club for lunch with her father.  Much to her surprise and discontent, it appeared that Alex Reynolds was joining them.  She took a deep breath and forced a smile on her face.  She had to keep telling herself that Alex was Stormy’s mother and she deserved as much kindness as Stormy gave her father. 

“Hi Sunshine,” Jordan said, getting up and kissing her on the cheek.   He reached around and pulled her chair out for her.  “Where’s Stormy?”

“I have no idea,” Heather replied bitterly, taking her seat at the table and offering Alex a pleasant smile.  “What’s this all about?”

“We should wait for Miranda,” Alex said, looking around the dining room.  “She said she would be here.”

Heather sighed and took a sip of water.   She thought she was having lunch with her father but it was turning out to be a big affair of some kind.  “Why don’t you just tell me what’s going on?” she said.  “I’m really not in the mood for any surprises today.”

Jordan smiled and grabbed Alex’s hand.  They both looked at Heather and spoke at the same time.   “We’re getting married.”

Heather’s jaw dropped.   “Are you serious?” she asked.

“We’re serious,” Jordan replied.  “We got engaged a couple of weeks ago.  We were just waiting for the right time to tell you, Sunshine.”

“A couple of weeks ago?” Heather asked in disbelief.

"We didn’t want to spring it on any of you,” Alex explained.  “We’re still getting used to the idea ourselves.”

“Am I the first to know?” she asked.

Jordan nodded.  “Yes.  We were hoping to tell Stormy and Miranda at the same time, but I guess they had other things to do today.  And I called your brother in Switzerland and told him last night.  He won’t be able to leave school to come back, but he’s happy.”

Heather couldn’t believe her father was remarrying.   Granted, it had been ten years since their mother left, but somehow she always thought she would come back and they would get back together.   The fact that he was engaged again made that a very unlikely possibility.

“Well when’s the wedding?” she asked, realizing she was going to have to start getting used to the idea.

“This weekend,” Alex replied.  “We’re having it here at the beach club.”

Chuckling to herself, Heather took another drink of water.  “No sense in putting it off I guess,” she said.

“I hope you’re as happy about this as I am, Sunshine,” Jordan said, reaching across the table and resting his hand on hers.  “It would mean so much to me if you were on board with this wedding.”

Heather forced herself to smile.  “Of course I’m happy for you, Dad,” she said.  “I mean, why wouldn’t I be?   This way I don’t have to worry about having a mother-in-law and a stepmother.   This way they’re both the same person so it really simplifies things.”

Jordan studied his daughter’s expression, and then looked at Alex.   He knew it would take Heather a while to get used to the idea, but she would come around.   In the meantime, he was thrilled by his upcoming nuptials.   The fact that he had to manipulate his bride into accepting his proposal was beside the point.  He knew she would come to love being the next Mrs. Jordan Rydell.

Brooke's Apartment

Brooke was in the kitchen in her apartment fixing herself a snack when she heard a knock at the door.  She quickly ran to the door and pulled it open while wiping her forehead with the back of her hand.

“Hello Brooke,” Miranda said with a bittersweet smile.

Sighing, Brooke stood in the doorway and blocked her from entering.  “What are you doing here?”

Miranda pushed her way past her and entered the apartment.  She looked around the surroundings and scoffed before turning and laying her eyes on Brooke.   “I thought I’d give you a while to settle back in after your trip to the Caribbean,” she began.  “But I wanted to stop by and say thank you.”

“For what?” Brooke asked with irritation as she shut the door.

“For proving me right about you.  I told Daddy and everyone else that you were not to be trusted, and I was right.”

“You were not right, Miranda.”

She raised an eyebrow and scowled at Brooke.  “So that whole thing about you already being married when you were with my father didn’t really happen?   And you jumping up and running off to the Caribbean with Ethan didn’t happen either, I suppose.”

Brooke was tired of explaining herself.  She walked past Miranda and stood by the window.  “I went to the Caribbean to get divorced,” she said.  “Ethan went with me because he was being a friend.”

“That always was Ethan’s downfall,” Miranda said.  “He thought he could be all things to all people.  I’m sure at the time he didn’t know he was wasting his time on you.”

Brooke had had enough of her animosity and put-downs.   “You can leave now.”

“I’ll leave,” Miranda said, taking a step closer to Brooke.  “But let me make one thing clear before I do.   Your actions caused my father a lot of pain, and I’ll be damned if I’ll watch him go through that again.  He lost his company because he was chasing half way across the world for you!”

Lost his company?  This was news to her.   James must be devastated.  His studio was everything to him.

Miranda shot her one final glare and then turned back to the door.   As she did, her eyes traveled to the coffee table where stacks of pamphlets were sitting.  She squinted, reading the bold block lettering to herself.  “What to do if you’re…pregnant?”

Brooke immediately saw what Miranda was looking at.   She darted across the room and covered the pamphlets with a book.   “Please just go,” she said nervously.

Miranda’s eyes burned into Brooke’s as she stepped closer again.  “You’re pregnant?” she asked in a whisper.   “Oh my God.  You manipulative little…”

“Watch it,” Brooke said, shooting her a look full of warning.

“You got pregnant by my father just so you could hold on to him, didn’t you?” Miranda asked in amazement.   “God, that's such a typical move for a skank from the Valley.”

“Look, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Brooke couldn’t believe what was happening.  Of all the people to find out she was pregnant.  And of course Miranda jumped to the conclusion that James was the father.   She realized that’s what most people would think since they were supposed to be married.   No one even knew about her short-lived relationship with Ethan.  Maybe that was for the best.

“I know that you would do just about anything to stay in this family,” Miranda continued, her eyes jabbing Brooke like daggers.  “But to bring an innocent baby into it just to use as a pawn?   I don’t believe you.  You’re hateful.”

“That’s not it at all,” Brooke insisted.

“No, I think it is!” Miranda shouted angrily.  “And if you think that my father will accept that baby, you’re kidding yourself!    Why don’t you just do yourself a favor and end it now!  Just terminate this pregnancy and get out of our lives!"

“Shut up!” Brooke lamented, fighting back the tears.  Ending her pregnancy was not an option for her.   It was her last tie to Ethan and she planned on cherishing it.

Suddenly, Miranda grabbed the pamphlets off the table and began ripping them into dozens of tiny pieces.  Brooke quickly jumped forward to stop her.

"Just leave!"

"Let go of me!"

They struggled for a minute and then Miranda took a step back.   Trembling all over, she turned and bolted out of the apartment, leaving the door swinging wide open.  

Brooke cried silently, bending down and picking up the pieces of the leaflets from the floor.    She couldn’t let what Miranda said to get to her.   She was doing the right thing by keeping the baby.  Miranda didn’t know the whole story.  Nobody knew the whole story.  And they never would.

Heather Blackthorne

Heather stood behind the microphone in the recording studio at Good Times Records.    The band played an upbeat pop track as she sang along, barely able to keep from smiling as Eddie watched her with amazement from the control booth.

She was finally doing it, she thought to herself during an instrumental break.  She was singing just like she'd always wanted to.   The ironic part of it was that her own husband wasn't the one helping her, it was his assistant, and it stung deep.    Nevertheless, she was thrilled to be taken seriously by somebody.    She knew she had what it took to become a singer, and if her husband wouldn't help her she'd find someone who would.

As the song progressed and Heather sang her heart out, she didn't notice Stormy and Lauren enter from the back of the studio.    They booth looked at each other in awe when they heard Heather singing and saw Eddie in the control booth.

The sound of Heather's raspy voice singing the song that Stormy promise to her was enough to make Lauren see red.   "That's my song!" she shrieked, glaring at Stormy while pointing across the room to Heather.  "Stormy, stop her!   That's my song she's singing!"

Suddenly the music trailed off as the band stopped playing one by one.   Heather looked around at them, then through the glass windows of the control booth where Eddie was sitting.   She frowned, then turned to her back where everyone was staring.  To her surprise, Stormy was standing there with Lauren.  Neither of them looked very happy.

"Is there a problem?" Heather asked.  She wondered where they had been and why they suddenly showed up at the studio together, hours after Stormy was supposed to meet her for lunch with her father.

"What do you think you're doing?" Lauren asked in a shrill voice.

"Eddie said he wanted to do a demo for me," Heather replied.  She turned just as Eddie came out from the control booth.

"Not with my song he isn't," Lauren snapped, snatching the sheet music away from Heather.  She looked at Eddie and shook her fists at him.  "How could you do this?  That was my song.  We've been working on it for the album.  You can't just go letting anyone else sing it."

"I'm sorry," Eddie replied, glancing awkwardly between Stormy, Heather and Lauren.  "I didn't think it would be a big deal.  I mean, you heard her singing it.  It's like it was made for her vocal range."

"Well it wasn't," Lauren hissed, glaring at Heather.  She saw no reason to go easy on her.  Not after the way she'd treated her so coldly from day one.   Besides, circumstances were different now.   Heather had all but drove Stormy into the arms of another woman with her constant complaining and difficult personality.  She had no sympathy for her whatsoever.

"It's okay, Lauren," Stormy said, feeling like he was stuck in the middle of an impossible situation.   His wife and his mistress battling over a song.   It was almost too much to handle.  "We can get a new song."

"I don't want a new song!" Lauren ranted.   "That song was going to be the biggest hit of the album!  It's my song and I'm going to record it!"

Heather suddenly stepped forward and challenged her with her eyes.  "Consider it a payback for letting you borrow my husband," she said bitterly.

The room grew quiet and Lauren looked at Stormy and then back at Heather.  She shook her head in frustration and threw the sheet music at her.  "Fine.  Take the song.  I don't care," she said before dashing out of the studio.

On her way out the door, she ran directly into Brett.  He stopped her and looked at her inquisically.  Obviously there was some tension between her and Heather.  She pulled away from him and continued running down the hallway.    Brett frowned, deciding he had to get to the bottom of whatever was going on.

Back in the studio, Stormy felt like the room was closing in around him.   He hated the fact that Lauren was upset, but he also didn't want Heather feeling like he was against her.   Despite their problems, and the fact that he was sleeping with Lauren, he still cared for his wife and didn't want to lose her.  He knew that made him a pig but he couldn't help it.  Couldn't he just this once have his cake and eat it too?

Blackthorne Mansion

James was in his study at the Blackthorne mansion with his lawyer, Brandon Marksman.    Brandon looked over a set of contracts and referred to a giant legal dictionary, shaking his head with uncertainty.

"There's nothing we can do, James," Brandon said, looking up from the book.  "I've gone over the terms of the contract with Will Thomerson over and over and there's nothing protecting you.  It's a binding contract.  You didn't meet the loan terms and he was within his rights by taking possession of Sunset Studios."

"Damn it, Brandon, there's got to be something we can do!" James insisted, slamming his fists on his desk.   "I can't let him walk away with my studio!  Do you realize that I spent my life building it from the ground up?   From the dirt?   Do you have any idea what I've had to sacrifice to keep that ship afloat all these years?"

"I'm sorry, James.  I wish I could do something but I can't."

Trying to maintain his composure, James sat down at his desk and took a deep breath.  He realized Brandon was only telling him what he already knew.   There was no way of changing what had happened.   He'd lost Sunset Studios to his worst enemy.   It was a simple fact.

Just then, Miranda burst into the office in her usual fermented state.  James looked up at her and knew right away that something had upset her.  Unfortunately he didn't have time for her theatrics.  He had to find a way of getting his company back.

"Sweetheart, I was just in a meeting with Brandon," he said, hoping she would agree to hold off on whatever announcement she had to make.

"I'm sorry, Daddy.  This can't wait."

James frowned.  "What do you mean?  What's wrong?"

Miranda stood before him, shaking her head in despair.  "You're not going to believe what that witch is up to now," she began.

"Who?"

"Brooke!" Miranda replied.  She knew that once her father found out about the convenient way Brooke had gotten pregnant, he would see right through her manipulations just as she did.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke slipped into her bathrobe and turned on the faucet in the tub.  She thought that maybe after a nice long bath the tensions of the day would wither away and she could forget about her troubles.  Even for just a few minutes.

After the tub had finished filling, she started to remove her robe when she heard a loud knock at the door.   Disturbed by the constant unannounced visitors she’d been having lately, she started out to the living room, making sure that her robe was securely wrapped around her.

“What now?” she asked herself as she opened the door.

Her question was answered when she found Winter standing in the hall, a disgruntled look on her face.

“Can we talk?” Winter asked, not bothering to wait for an answer as she brushed her way past Brooke and made her way inside the small apartment.

Brooke shrugged and closed the door behind her.  She looked at Winter and saw that she was in her nurses uniform.  She decided she was either on her way to work or had just gotten off.   Obviously what she had to say to her was important or she wouldn’t have gone out of her way to see her.

“How can you live with yourself?” Winter asked, whipping her head around and glaring at Brooke.

“What?” Brooke asked in confusion.  She had a feeling she was in for another tongue-lashing.  First Miranda and now Winter.  When would she ever have any peace and quiet?

“Don’t play dumb with me,” Winter said, taking a few steps purposefully toward her.  “I see the way you manipulate people.   The way you hurt people.    I just want to know how you can stand yourself.  I mean, how do you go on everyday knowing that you ruin lives?”

“Winter, what is this all about?”   Brooke was dumbfounded.

“You were happily married to James, but that wasn’t enough for you, was it?” Winter continued, her wild eyes riveted to hers.  “You had to go after his nephew.  It isn’t enough that you have the attention of one man.  No, that wouldn’t do for Brooke.   No, you had to go after Ethan too.”

“You’ve got it all wrong.”

“You never get tired of playing the damsel in distress,” Winter said.  “Anytime you and James hit a bump in your relationship, who did you call?  Ethan.  And who did you toss aside when things got better with James?  Ethan.”

Brooke looked at the young woman, listening as her voice rose with every word she spoke.  It was almost like she snapped in the middle of her sentence.   Something went off inside Winter’s head and she started screaming bloody murder. 

“Never mind that he had someone who cared about him!” Winter shrieked.  “Never mind that he had someone who might need his attention too!   None of that mattered because poor Brooke needed him and to hell with everyone else!”

“No, Winter, you don’t understand.”  She took a step forward and reached out her arm.

“No!” Winter screamed, backing up away from her.  “I understand perfectly!  I understand that you have no use for anybody who can’t give you something in return!  You took and took and took and eventually Ethan paid the ultimate price, didn’t he?   He ran after you when you needed him, and he wound up dying because of it!  He’s dead because of you and you don’t give a damn, do you?”

“It was an accident!” Brooke replied, thinking back to the assault on the jeep Ethan had been riding in.   “His dying had nothing to do with me!”

“He wouldn’t have died if you hadn’t smothered him with your absolute selfishness!” Winter screamed at the top of her lungs.  “You killed him yourself with the way you pulled him into your sick, twisted little world!”

Brooke had had enough.  She couldn’t stand there and listen to Winter accuse of her being the reason Ethan was dead, and much less not caring that he was dead.   It wasn’t true and she simply couldn’t stand hearing it.   She ran to the door and opened it, then grabbed Winter’s arm and tried pushing her outside.

“Get out!” she screamed, using all her strength to force her out.

“Let go of me!” Winter bellowed, fighting with Brooke to maintain her footing.   She struggled with her and pushed her away, sending her sailing backward.

Brooke lost her balance and fell to the floor.   She shook her groggy head and looked up at Winter with a threatening glare.  “Get out,” she said angrily.  “Get out right now!”

Slowly backing up to the door, Winter stared at Brooke and repeated the same phrase over and over.  “You killed him,” she said quietly.  “You killed him.”

Finally she turned and walked slowly out of the apartment, leaving the door open and Brooke sitting on the floor trying to catch her breath.  

Alex's House

Alex watched their startled faces and couldn’t help but feel a little guilty about springing her engagement on them like that.   They were her children, after all.   But she hadn’t been able to bring herself to tell them until now.   She wondered if part of it was her own uncertainty about her decision.

“You’re getting married?” Stormy asked in disbelief as he looked at his mother and then at Jordan. 

“That’s right,” Alex replied with a smile.  She felt Jordan’s hand close around hers and she forced herself to keep smiling.

They were standing in her beach house in Malibu.  Stormy and Miranda agreed to meet them there since they hadn’t shown up for lunch that day.

“I don’t believe this,” Miranda said, folding her arms and pressing her lips firmly together.  “How long has this been going on?”

“A few months,” Jordan replied.   “I’ve been trying to get her to say yes to my proposal and I guess my persistence paid off.”

“When is this happening?” Stormy asked.  He was overwhelmed by their announcement.    He had a hard enough time getting along with Jordan Rydell as his father-in-law.  Now he had to have him as a step-father too.

“In two days,” Alex replied.  “It will be a small ceremony at the beach club.  Nothing fancy at all.”

“That’s right,” Jordan chimed in.  “But knowing your mother it will be an event.”

Miranda shook her head in amazement.  She couldn’t believe her mother was getting married again.   First her father married Brooke Taylor, and now this.   Why did she feel like she was the only one who had her life together?    Everyone else seemed to make all the wrong choices.

“I have to get out of here,” she said, turning around and bolting though the open French doors that led onto the beach.     

“Darling, wait!” Alex called after her.

“Let me,” Jordan said, stopping her from running after her.

Alex reluctantly agreed and stood back while Jordan ran after Miranda.    After he’d left, Stormy approached his mother and took her hand in his.

“Are you sure about this, Mom?” he asked, looking into her sparkling blue eyes.   He knew that Miranda was going to throw a fit about their mother getting married.   It was to be expected.  After all, it was Miranda they were talking about.  The girl who ran their father’s fiancé over with her car the day before their wedding.

“I am,” Alex replied, smiling.  

Stormy hesitated and then pulled her into an embrace.  “Then I’m happy for you,” he said.  “I just hope he treats you the way you deserve to be treated.”

“Thank you Sweetheart,” Alex said, a tear forming in her eye as she held him close.

Outside on the beach, Jordan found Miranda standing by the water gazing out at the hazy horizon.   The wind blew hard against them and he picked up a rock and threw it into the water.

“Is this where we have some kind of warm, fuzzy heart to heart about how much you love my mother?” Miranda asked, not so much as making eye contact with him.  “Because if it is you can save your breath.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything like that,” Jordan said, digging his hands into the pockets of his Armani track pants.

“Good,” Miranda said, then finally turned toward him with a menacing stare.  “And let’s get one thing straight.  I don’t like you and I don’t like you marrying my mother.”

Jordan shrugged.  “I didn’t think you would,” he replied.   He knew Miranda was going to be difficult to sway but he knew in time she would get used to the idea of her mother marrying him.  “But if you don’t go to the wedding on Saturday she’ll be very hurt.”

Miranda pushed a strand of black hair from her eyes.  “If you hurt my mother in the slightest way, I promise you I will cut every extremity off your body myself, starting with your penis.”

Finding it difficult to keep from laughing, Jordan nodded his head and tried to appear serious.  “Of course,” he said.  He knew right away where Miranda got her spunk.

After a second or two, Miranda slapped her hands to her side and started back up to the house.  “I guess I’ll have to pick out a dress,” she said.  “Do you think mother would take it personally if I wear black?”

“I don’t think she’d care,” Jordan said, walking alongside her up the beach.

Brooke's Apartment

Brooke stepped out of the bathroom, wrapping a towel around her hair and tightening the belt around her robe.   She went into the kitchen and ran some water into her teakettle, then set it on the stove.   She grabbed a mug from the cupboard just as the doorbell rang followed by several loud knocks. 

“Oh no,” she whispered to herself.  She didn’t think she could take one more visitor today.   “Who is it?” she called through the door, taking the towel off of her head.

“Brooke, it’s James,” he called from the hallway.  “Please open up.  We have to talk.”

Feeling her eyes stinging, she backed up and prayed that he would leave without breaking the door down like the last time.  “James, go away!” she called.  “I can’t see you right now!”

“This is important!” he called, his voice pleading.

“I said not now!”

“Brooke, I know about the baby,” James said.

Brooke froze, her entire body trembling as she looked around the room for something to brace herself with.     He knew?    But how did he-?     Miranda.   Of course.

Slowly, she walked to the door and unlocked it.   She was going to have to talk to him sooner or later.   She couldn’t keep putting him off.    She opened the door and stood clear while James walked inside.

“Thank you,” he said politely, walking into the apartment and turning toward her.  His eyes went instinctively to her stomach.  He didn’t know how far along she was but he hoped to find that all out in time.   “You look wonderful.”

Brooke chuckled and ran her fingers through her wet hair.  “So Miranda told you?”

He nodded.  “I think it’s wonderful.”

Her eyes shot up and she looked at him in surprise.  “You do?”

“Yes, of course I do,” James replied, the excitement pouring out of him.  “Brooke, we’re going to have a baby.   You and I.   Why wouldn’t I think that’s wonderful?”

Closing her eyes, Brooke realized that James thought the baby was his.   She had to tell him the truth.   It was the right thing to do.  She had to tell him that Ethan was the father of her baby. 

“James, look, I-“

He stopped her mid-sentence, stepping forward and taking her hand in his.  “I know a lot has happened,” he began, then stopped, squinting and feeling the searing pain shoot through his head.   Not now, he thought to himself.   “But I think we can move past it and-“  The pain continued, this time getting worse and sending him staggering backward in agony.

“James, what is it?” Brooke asked, stricken with concern.  She moved toward him, wondering what she could do.

“It’s nothing,” he said, trying to dismiss the pain.   “Just a headache.”  Suddenly he bent over, physically unable to remain standing upright.  He’d never felt so much pain in his life.

“Oh my God!  James!”  Brooke cried, realizing that this was no ordinary headache.  Something was seriously wrong with him.

Ethan Blackthorne

Just outside the apartment building, a taxi pulled up to the curb and stopped.  A minute later, the back door opened and Ethan Blackthorne emerged, supporting himself with a cane as he gazed up at the building.   

“Would you like some help, sir?” asked the driver as he got out of the cab after him.

“No, I’m fine,” Ethan replied with a smile.  His face was unshaven and his skin was suntanned.  He handed the driver some money and started up the steps to the building. 

He couldn’t believe he was finally home.    All he wanted was to see Brooke and hold her in his arms like that night before the jeep explosion.   That night was the only thing that kept him alive all those weeks in the jungle. 

Jasmes Blackthorne

Back inside her apartment, Brooke helped James to the sofa and handed him a cold glass of water.  He accepted it and took a drink, beginning to feel like the headache was subsiding.

“I still think we should get you to the doctor,” she said, staring at him with concern.

James shook his head adamantly.  “No, I’m fine now.  Honest.   It’s just stress, that’s all.”

Brooke had no choice but to take his word for it.   Still, she’d never seen him in such agony before.  She was genuinely concerned, and she knew there was something he wasn’t telling her.  She knew he’d lost Sunset Studios, and that alone must be killing him.  It had been his life for over twenty years.

“Darling, I have to know that you’ll give us another chance,” James said, turning to her with pleading eyes.  There was nothing more important to him at that moment than having her with him.  “Please, I know we can work through it.   And now that you have a baby on the way….our baby…..I know that things will be different.   We’ll be a family again."  

Brooke looked at him in despair.   She knew she should tell him the truth about the baby.   That it wasn’t his.  But how could she?   Seeing him in such a weathered state, and obviously so devoted to making their live together work.  There was no way she could destroy him with the news.    After seeing his episode a few minutes ago, she feared that telling him something like that would kill him.

She would have to tell him it was his baby.  It was an unthinkable fabrication but she had no choice.  Their separation had taken its toll on him.   Ethan was gone and she hated the thought of raising her child with no father.  Yes, it was settled.  She knew what she had to do.

“Okay,” she said with a vague smile.  “I’ll come back.  We’ll be a family.  You, me and our baby.”

James closed his eyes with relief and pulled her into an embrace.  He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this happy.   With everything else in his life going terribly wrong, having Brooke back was like a miracle.   And their baby was like a gift from God.

The half-open door creaked and they both looked up.  Their eyes widened in disbelief at the sight of Ethan standing in the doorway, weathered and haggard from his ordeal.

“Oh my God,” Brooke whispered, climbing to her feet.   She thought she was seeing a ghost.  “Ethan.”

“Hi,” he said, looking at Brooke and then at James. 

“Ethan, you’re alive!” James exclaimed, standing up and following Brooke across the room to where his nephew was standing.

Brooke stared into his eyes, trying to register what was happening.  She reached out to him, wondering if he would suddenly disappear when she touched him.   But his skin felt real.  He was standing before her like he’d never left.

Quickly she fell into his arms, sobbing uncontrollably as she quietly thanked God for bringing him back.   “I don’t believe it,” she said, tears streaming down her face.  “I thought you were gone forever.”

“Shhh,” Ethan soothed her.  “I’m alright.  Everything’s going to be alright now.”

James stood back, watching them embrace warmly, and suddenly feeling like Brooke had forgotten all about him.

 


Next time...

Ethan's homecoming turns bittersweet when he realizes how much has changed. Lauren sends Stormy packing.  Alex and Jordan's wedding day arrives.  Ethan questions Brooke about her baby.  

 Read Episode 18

 

 


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