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Episode 21

 

Release Date:  April 28, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Brett was angry when he learned Stormy had arranged Lauren's album release party without him.  James kept secret deals with Alex and Brandon from Brooke so she wouldn't know he was trying to get Sunset Studios back from Will.  When Brooke developed stomach pains, she called Ethan for help, which angered Winter further. Winter warned Brooke not to tell Ethan that her baby was his. Later, when Ethan asked Brooke for the truth, she lied and said the baby was James's.  Brett revealed to Lauren that he knew about her affair with Stormy.  In exchange for his silence, he blackmailed Lauren into sleeping with him. Jordan hid away on his yacht and licked his wounds following his breakup with Alex.  Meanwhile, Alex went to Will and accepted his marriage proposal. With Veronique as a witness, she and Will were married at her house on the beach.


 Episode 21

"Music and Passion"

 

Stormy and Brett sat in his office at Good Times Records going over last minute details for Lauren's record release party.  Stormy looked up from his desk and tapped his pencil on the surface.

"I couldn't get hold of Marjorie Stahl from Rolling Stone," he said.  "I was wondering if you could give her a call and make sure she'll be there tomorrow."

"Absolutely," Brett said, jotting Marjorie's name down on his pad of paper.  He looked up and gave Stormy a cocky smile.  Apparently he was good for something after all.

"Good, I think that takes care of the media," Stormy said, standing up and stretching his arms out over his head.   "I'll be glad when this party is over.  It's already killing me."

Brett stood up as well and started to the door.  "When Lauren hits the stores tomorrow it'll all be worth it."

Stormy smiled and grew into a distant daze.  "By the way, have you noticed anything odd about Lauren the last few days?"

"No, why?" Brett asked, feigning innocence.  If Lauren was acting strangely then he knew the reason why.  It had almost been a week since he started blackmailing her.

"I don’t know.  She's just seemed distracted or something.  Not herself."

"I haven't noticed," Brett said, then flashed him a toothy smile.  "Anyway, I've gotta get going.  I have some calls to make.  I'll see you later."

"See ya," Stormy said, still somewhat distracted as he stared at the phone.  He didn't know what was going on with Lauren.  For the last few days she'd been putting him off and canceling dates right and left.  They hadn't been together at all and it was starting to concern him.  He wondered if it she was starting to feel guilty because of Heather.

Minutes later, Miranda barged into his office and threw the morning newspaper on his desk.  "Have you seen this?" she asked in a huff.

Frowning at his sister's dramatic entrance, Stormy picked up the paper and saw a picture of their mother on the front page beneath a headline that read Alex Reynolds Weds Producer Thomerson in Surprise Ceremony.

"I don't believe it," Stormy said, his eyes wide as he skimmed through the article.

Alex Reynolds

"I don't believe it," Alex said as she stared at a stack of magazines and newspapers.  "How did they find out about this so quickly?"

Will walked up behind her on the terrace of her house in Malibu.   "You're a celebrity, my dear.  The media will dig until they get every ounce of information they can."

She shook her head and turned toward him, her robe fluttering in the warm morning breeze.  "No, this is not the result of digging.  You leaked this story to the press, didn’t you?"

Will appeared shocked as she poured himself a cup of coffee.  "Of course not," he replied adamantly.  "Why would I do something like that?"

Alex glared at him and dropped the papers onto the table.  "Because you couldn't wait to stick it to James," she began.  "That is the only reason you married me, wasn't it?"

"Don't be silly," was his easy response.

Alex threw her hands up in resignation.  The truth was James already knew about their wedding.  He was with her when she thought of the idea.  But what she didn't like was the fact that the whole world now knew about it.   And that meant Jordan would find out very soon if he hadn't already.   The thought of hurting him killed her.  She didn't want that at all.

All she was trying to do was help James.

Jordan Rydell

Jordan sat on his yacht, dressed in shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and a hat as he relaxed with a cup of coffee.   He opened the newspaper and skimmed through the headlines.  When he reached the picture of Alex he froze, his eyes fixated on the headline.

She certainly wasted no time, he thought to himself.  What the hell was he to her anyway?  A playboy while she juggled James Blackthorne and Will Thomerson?

Rolling the newspaper up tightly, he hurdled it over the yacht and watched it splash into the marina, sending a group of seagulls scattering up into the sky.

Heather Blackthorne

"That bitch," Heather muttered to herself as she lay by the pool at home in the Valley.

The newspaper article about Alex and Will's wedding came as a huge shock to her and she could only imagine what it was doing to her father.   She got up from her chair and went inside through the back door.

Grabbing the phone, she dialed Stormy's number at the studio and waited impatiently for him to answer.    She was going to find out what his mother was thinking when she ditched her father at their wedding and then turned around and married someone else the very next day.

Stormy's receptionist told her he was on the phone and asked if she wanted to hold on.  She said no and hung up in a tizzy.  It would have to wait, she thought to herself.  The most important thing now was to see how her father was handling the news.

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy let the phone ring over and over at Lauren's place.  He didn't understand where she could be.  It was fairly early and she was a late sleeper.   Either that or she was avoiding him again.  The fact that he couldn't get hold of her only reaffirmed the fact that something was definitely going on with her.  He was determined to find out what it was. 

Finally hanging up the phone, he grabbed his car keys and ran out the door.

Brett Armstrong

At that time, Brett was slowly undressing Lauren, admiring her body and feeling himself growing immediately aroused.   He'd wanted to get her into bed since the moment he laid eyes on her at the Fern Bar.   Unfortunately, she never seemed as interested.  Now he knew the reason was because she was too busy with Stormy.

Luckily for him, he stumbled on their little secret affair, and successfully used it to get her into bed.   Now he was having the time of his life, and although she didn't seem to enjoy it as much, there were times when he'd look down and find her rolling her eyes back into her head as if she was in heaven.   It fueled his ego and made him work even harder at pleasing her.  The prospect of being better in bed than Stormy was quite a thrill.

Lauren laid down on the bed and let him have her way with her.  She hated every minute of it but she knew she had to go along with it or Brett would tell Heather everything and then she'd most certainly lose Stormy.  The ironic part was that she had to lie to him to keep that from happening. 

She couldn’t help but compare the two men as lovers.  Brett was rough and robotic, succeeding only in pleasing himself and leaving her uncomfortable.  Maybe if Brett wasn't such a lying scoundrel she'd enjoy it more.  He had a kinky quality that she was sure his weird wife enjoyed about him.

Stormy, on the other hand, was gentle and giving, making sure that her needs were met.   She had fallen in love with him right away and hated the fact that she was sleeping with Brett.

After they'd finished, Brett rolled off of her and basked in the afterglow.  She got up and started to get dressed, looking down at him with disgust.  It was such a shame that someone as incredibly attractive as Brett was such a louse. 

"Something wrong?" he asked her.

She scoffed and pulled on her halter-top.  "I thought you and Stormy were supposed to be friends," she began.

Brett stretched his arms out and placed them behind his head.  "We are."

"Yeah right.  Is this how you treat your friends?   He would kill you if he found out about this.  The way you're blackmailing me into sleeping with you."

"I don't really look at it that way," Brett replied.  "The way I see it is that Stormy owes me."

Lauren's eyes widened in disbelief.  "Owes you?  Are you crazy?"

Brett sat up and pulled on his shorts.  "I was the one who found you," he said with a smirk.  "I was the one who convinced him to sign you to his label.  And then he turns around and sleeps with you.  Where's the fairness in that?"

Exasperated by his illogical thinking, Lauren started out into the living room and slipped on her sandals.  "You're really full of yourself, Brett," she said.  "I can't believe we're even having this conversation.   You're married for God's sake."

"Yeah well so is Stormy," he replied, following her as he pulled on his shirt.

Just then, Stormy walked into the apartment and saw them standing together in the living room.  They both looked up with surprise.

"So is Stormy what?" he asked, wondering what they were talking about.

Lauren looked at him and then at Brett.  She was sure that everything was about to blow up in their faces.

 Blackthorne Mansion

Brooke walked inside from the garden at the Blackthorne mansion and found James sitting in his study pouring over a stack of papers.   He looked up and shot out of his chair in a hurry.

"Darling, I've been looking all over for you.  Where have you been?" he asked, putting his arm around her.

"I was taking a walk in the garden," she said.  "It's such a beautiful day already."

He led her over to the sofa and sat her down.  "Brooke, you have to take care of yourself," he said.  "You need to get some rest."

She shook her head in protest.  "But I feel fine," she said.  "The doctor said that everything was fine with the baby.  There's absolutely nothing to worry about, James."

He knelt down and took her hand in his.  "I know that but I want to keep it that way," he began, looking into her magical blue eyes.  "If anything happened to you or our baby I don't know what I'd do."  

Ever since Dr. Farraday gave him the news that he was going to die within the year, he felt the ever-present need to protect everything around him.  Brooke, their baby, and getting his studio back were the most important things in his life right now.  If he didn't have them when his time came, he would feel like a failure.

Suddenly the phone rang and he reluctantly got up to answer it.   While he was talking to the caller, Brooke picked up the morning paper and read the article about Alex's wedding to Will.  She frowned, shaking her head in disbelief.  As soon as James hung up the phone, she stood up and flashed the paper at him.

"Have you seen this?" she asked.

James nodded, placing his hands on her arms and kissing her lightly.  "Yes," he replied dismissively.  Alex's marriage to Will wasn't a surprise.  It was only the first step in their master plan.  "Darling, I have to go out for a while.  I'll be back soon."

"But where are you going?" Brooke asked.

"I have to meet with Brandon about something," James said, thinking back on the phone call he’d just received from his lawyer.  "I'm sorry.  I'll see you later."

Before she could protest, he was out the door and flying down the hall.  She sighed and looked at the paper again.  She wondered what James had to do that was so urgent.  He'd been leaving for meetings with his lawyer quite often lately but he'd never tell her what they were about. 

She wondered if he was trying to get his studio back.  He promised he wouldn't.  He said he was going to slow down and take better care of himself.   Maybe that was all a lie just to please her. 

Deciding there was only one way to find out, she picked up the phone and called Ethan at his house.

The phone rang while Ethan was in the shower and Winter reached over to the nightstand and picked it up. 

"Hello?" she answered.

Brooke's heart thudded inside her chest and she quickly hung up.   She had no intention of talking to Winter, much less asking her if she could speak to Ethan.  After the incident in the hospital the other day, she never wanted to risk seeing her or talking to her again. 

Winter Austen

Winter looked at the receiver and slowly hung it back onto the cradle. 

"Hello to you too Brooke," she said with a smile.  It had to have been her.  Who else would call and hang up when they heard her answer?  She wondered what emergency there was this time.  Did she break a nail or did she need help getting a lid off a jar of pickles?

She laid down in bed as Ethan came out of the shower, wrapped in a towel and soaking from head to toe.  "Who was on the phone?" he asked in a hurry.

Grinning mischevoiusly, Winter got up and snatched the towel from his waist.  "Nobody," she said and began kissing him passionately.  She felt his hard body pressed against hers and she slowly lowered the straps on her nightgown.

"I was hoping it would be Brooke," Ethan said, staring off in concentration.

Winter dropped her hands to her side and looked at him in disbelief.  "What does that supposed to mean?" she asked in a rage.  "Why were you hoping it was Brooke?"

He frowned, uncertain of why she was getting so upset all the sudden.  "I just wanted to see if everything was okay with her baby, that's all," he said defensively.  "I haven't talked to her in a couple of days."

"Oh, well little did I know the world stops when Brooke doesn’t call with her usual petty problems," Winter yelled sarcastically. She pulled her nightgown strap back up and ran into the bathroom.

"Why are you getting so upset?" Ethan asked, his brow furrowed.  He suddenly realized he was naked and he quickly grabbed his towel from the floor and wrapped it around his waist. 

"I don't know, Ethan," she said, running a brush through her hair and then pinning it up.  "Maybe because every time we're alone, Brooke calls or Brooke needs you for something.  I feel like I have to share you with her!"

"She's pregnant!" Ethan exclaimed.  "I'm concerned.  Is that such a crime?"

"Let James be concerned!" Winter lamented, starting to get dressed.  "He's the father of her baby!  You're not!"  She found it so easy to lie to him about the baby's real father.

Ethan realized maybe she had a point.  Maybe his constant coddling of Brooke was inappropriate.  As much as he wanted to be the father of her baby, he wasn't.  And she had made her choice to be with James.  He had to respect that.

"I'm sorry, okay?" he began, walking over and kissing her lightly.  "I didn't know it was such a problem."

Winter finally calmed down and smiled as Ethan pulled her into an embrace.   She felt better after saying her peace where Brooke was concerned.  Maybe things would finally start to turn around.

Just then the phone rang and Ethan walked over to answer it.   Winter watched and wondered who it could be this time.

"Hello?" he answered.  "Oh hi Brooke."

Winter's expression soured and she gritted her teeth in anger.  She must have been fooling herself for thinking things would change.  Just the sound of Ethan's voice when he said Brooke's name was proof enough.  He was in love with her.  Plain and simple.

She grabbed her purse and brushed past him on her way out.  Ethan turned and tried to stop her but she kept going.  She was not going to sit around and play second choice to Brooke Taylor.  Not anymore.

Winter's Apartment

"So what are you doing here, Brett?" Stormy asked back at Lauren's apartment.  "I thought you were going home to make those calls about the party."

Brett looked at him and then at Lauren, his devilish grin undaunted.  "Well Lauren's the star of the show," he began.  "I want to make sure she's hip on all of the goings on."

Stormy frowned, strangely suspicious of his explanation.  "Lauren and I have already discussed everything," he said with his arms folded rigidly.

Again, Brett's eyes darted between them and he smiled eagerly.  "Not about the ice sculpture," he claimed.

"Ice sculpture?" Stormy asked.

Choosing his words carefully, Brett replied, "yeah, I thought it would be a nice touch.  I think Lauren really got off on it."

Lauren rolled her eyes and sat down on the sofa.  The play on words was almost too much to bare.

"Okay, well Lauren and I have some things we need to discuss," Stormy said, shoving his hands into his pockets.  "In private."

Raising an eyebrow, Brett started to the door and opened it.  He knew that was a bunch of bull.  Stormy didn't want to discuss anything with Lauren.  He just wanted to get laid.

"I guess I'll see you guys later then," he said before leaving and closing the door tightly behind him.  Outside, he bit his lips in concentration.  He wondered if Lauren would say anything to Stormy about their arrangement.   She'd be risking a lot if she did.

At any rate, he'd have to wait and see.  Just how long his good fortune lasted was in her hands.

Polo Lounge

Alex left the Polo Lounge and walked outside, slipping her Gucci sunglasses over her eyes and looking for James's limo.    When it pulled up by the curb under the awning, the driver got out and opened the door for her.  She graciously stepped inside where James and his lawyer Brandon were seated on the luxurious oxblood leather seats.

"What's all the mystery for?" she asked, looking outside the darkened windows.

She saw a mob of reporters coming down the street snapping photos, hoping to get a glimpse of the new bride.   The car pulled away from the curb and started through busy Beverly Hills.

"The media is going to be on you every step," Brandon said, opening his briefcase and removing a set of documents.  "If they got a picture of you with James and myself, it would all be over.  For the sake of this thing working, you have to make it appear that you're still out for blood as far as James is concerned."

Alex nodded.  "Got it."  She looked down at the documents in his hand and then at James.   "Are those the contracts?"

"Yes," he replied.  "Just sign on the bottom of each page."

She took his pen and scribbled her name a few times.  "How long before it's final?" she asked.

"A couple of days," Brandon replied, taking the forms from her and handing them to James to sign.   "After that we're home free.  But until then, remember not to be seen together.  You're supposed to be enemies."

"I hope this works," Alex said.

"So do I," James agreed.  "I'm not sure that Will Thomerson is going to turn a blind eye to what's going on right underneath of him."

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy sat down on the sofa next to Lauren and took her hand in his.  He could tell by the look in her eyes that something was bothering her.  He wished she would tell him the truth instead of turning away from him.

“Are you okay?” he asked.  “You haven’t been yourself lately.”

“I’m fine,” she replied, trying to shake off her encounter with Brett.  She didn’t want that disaster to affect what she had going on with Stormy.  It was too important to her.  “I’m sorry if I’ve been distant.”

Stormy smiled and hugged her tightly.  “So then do I have your undivided attention?” he asked with a grin.

“Yes, you do,” Lauren said, beaming from ear to ear.  She was amazed at how just being around him made her troubles vanish and her mood turn completely around. 

“Good, because I have amazing news,” he began, standing up and watching for her expression.  “Just before I left the office I got a call from a tour company representing the Ramones.”

“Yeah?” Lauren asked tensely.

“They want you to open up in their headlining tour this summer!” Stormy exclaimed.

“You’re kidding!” Lauren exclaimed, jumping up and throwing her arms around him ecstatically.   “Oh my God, Stormy!  This is like a dream!”

“I know!” he yelled, picking her up and spinning her around.  “Can you believe it!?”

“No, I can’t believe it!  This is great!”

“Just imagine.  The lights.  The crowds.  Lauren, do you realize what this exposure will do for your career?” 

After he set her down, she looked up at him and her smile began to fade.   “How long is the tour?”

“Four months,” Stormy replied, his smile still big as California.

Lauren’s eyes traveled to the floor and she sat down on the sofa.  “Four months?” she asked.  “Stormy, what about us?”

Suddenly the downside of his big news hit him and Stormy felt like he’d been hit with a truck.   He’d never thought about it like that.   He had grown so used to having Lauren around.  How was he going to go four months without seeing her?

Ethan's House

Late that night, Ethan opened the front door of his house and Winter walked inside in her uniform.   He didn’t hide the fact that he was surprised to see her.  After the way they’d ended things earlier that day he thought she’d never want to see him again.

“I’m sorry about earlier,” she said.

“Me too,” Ethan replied.

They fell into an embrace and Ethan stared across the room in a daze.   He was torn between being happy that she came back and being disappointed.   It wasn’t fair to either one of them that he kept thinking about Brooke.  And even if he couldn’t have her, he hated the thought of using Winter as a replacement.

Blackthorne Mansion

Tightening her nightgown around her waist, Brooke knocked on the door of James’s study and slowly opened the door.  He was standing at the window holding the phone to his ear.  When she entered, he turned around and gave her a smile as he hung up from the call.

“I’m not disturbing you, am I?” she asked.

“Of course not, Darling,” James said, walking over and kissing her.   “Are you going upstairs to bed?”

“Yes, are you coming?”

“In a few minutes.  I have a few more things to do first.”

Slowly, Brooke started out of the study.  She paused at the door and turned back toward him.  “James, what exactly are you working on anyway?”

“Just business,” he said with a dismissive smile.

She frowned.  “What business?  Forgive me for being blunt, but you lost the studio.”

James thought she was being awfully persistent, which wasn’t at all like her.  He stepped forward and examined her watering eyes.   “What are you asking, Brooke?”

She shrugged, uncertain of how she was going to broach the subject.  “It’s just that you promised you weren’t going to go after Will Thomerson.  You said that you were going to devote all of your energy to your family now.  Has that changed?”

James hated lying to her but it was necessary.  Besides, it wouldn’t be for very long.  In a few days he would have his studio back and all would be right again.  “No, of course it hasn’t changed,” he said, slightly unnerved and defensive.  “Damnit, Brooke, you’ve got to trust me.”

“I do trust you,” she insisted.  “I trust you, James.  I just don’t want our relationship to suffer because of your dedication to your work.  You remember what happened the last time.”

He tried to calm his nerves, grabbing her by the arms and looking into her eyes.  “I remember,” he said.  “And you have my word it won’t happen again.  You’ll see.  You and our baby are the most important things in the world to me.”

“We’ll see,” Brooke said, still uncertain of his credibility.  When she called Ethan that day on the phone he said he didn’t know of any business James was involved in at the moment, but he wouldn’t be surprised if he was up to something.  He said the vendetta between James and Will Thomerson ran very deep and James wouldn’t let it stand the way it was.

“Brooke,” James said before she left the study.  “Why don't I stay with you tonight?  In our bed.”

She paused meaningfully and then shook her head.  “I don’t think so,” she said regretfully.  “James, I can’t share a bed with you again until I know that things are going to be different.”

She turned and walked out of the room, leaving James standing in awe.  The sharp excruciating pain came on like a bomb hitting.  He staggered back a few feet and stumbled to the desk.   Quickly, he opened the top drawer and removed the bottle of pills Dr. Farraday had given him. 

Struggling with the cap, he finally got it open and popped two pills in his mouth, grabbing for his glass of brandy and washing them down.   He closed his eyes, trying to will the pain away.   The doctor said the pills would help but they were only a temporary fix.  The headaches would continue indefinitely up until the end.  He didn’t know if he’d be able to stand it. 

But he had to.  He had to make it long enough to be a family with Brooke and their baby.

Stormy and Heather's House

Stormy got into bed next to Heather and sighed with exasperation.  He didn’t mean to be so unfeeling about her father’s problems but he had his own to think about.  Making a descent effort to appear interested, he turned toward her and shrugged.

“So what happened when you went to see him?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Heather replied.  “He didn’t even want to talk about it.  But I know he was hurting, Stormy.  I saw it in his eyes.   I haven’t seen him look like that since my mother left ten years ago.”

“Well I can’t explain it,” he said.  “I have no control over what my mother does.”

“Well have you seen her?” Heather demanded.  “Did she say why she married Will Thomerson instead of my father?”

“Your father gave her an ultimatum,” Stormy exclaimed angrily.  “Alex Reynolds does not do well with ultimatums.  Come on, Heather.  Your father pushed her into Will Thomerson’s arms.  You just can’t order my mother around.  She doesn’t respond well to it.”

“She doesn’t respond to anything but what’s good for her,” Heather said, pulling the covers over her and rolling over.

Stormy laid back and closed his eyes.  At that moment he couldn’t care less about who his mother married, or how Heather’s father was taking it.  He couldn’t stop thinking about Lauren and the fact that she was leaving to go on tour.  He wanted to be with her so badly that the thought of her not being around was excruciating.

Blackthorne Mansion

The next morning Brooke woke up to a vase full of red roses sitting on the nightstand beside the bed.   She smiled and sat up, reading the card that came with them.

“I love you my Darling,” it said.  “From James.”

Brooke stood up and inhaled the fragrant scent, admiring the beauty of the roses and the thoughtful way James had of making things up to her.   He may have his faults but he was certainly a winner in the romance department.

She quickly threw on her robe and went down the hall to his room.   Knocking on the door, she peered inside and found the room empty.   With a frown, she turned and started down the stairs.  He must have gotten up early and was seeing to breakfast or something, she decided.

Finding Leilani in the dining room, Brooke yawned and walked toward her.  “Have you seen James this morning?” she asked. 

"Yes, Miss Taylor,” Leilani replied.  “He left about an hour ago.  He said he had a meeting to attend to.”

Brooke sighed, shaking her head in frustration.  What meeting?    What was he up to?

Just then the doorbell rang and Leilani started out of the dining room to answer it.

“I’ll get it, Leilani,” Brooke said as she turned and walked through the foyer to the front door.  When she opened it she was pleasantly surprised to find Ethan standing there looking handsome as usual.

Jasmes Blackthorne

James and Alex were standing in a grove of trees by a park off Laurel Canyon Road, both hidden behind dark Armani sunglasses.   James took a breath of fresh air and looked at her triumphantly.

“Brandon got the paperwork back this morning,” he said.  “It’s a done deal.”

Alex’s eyes widened.  “So soon?”

“Yes.  I think we should confront Will tonight.”

Alex nodded in agreement.  “That’s fine with me.  The sooner we get this over with the better.”   Suddenly her smile faded and she threw her hands up dramatically.  “But tonight is Stormy’s party.  We have to be there, James.  It’s important to him.”

“We’ll do it before that,” James said.  “I’ll meet you at your house at seven o’clock.”

“Okay.”

James looked at her with a sense of relief on his face.  “Alex, thank you for doing this.  Thank you so much.”

Alex smiled again, thrilled that their plan was working so far.   All she wanted was to make things right again.  To make up for the horrible things she’d done to James.

Brooke Taylor

A short while later, Brooke and Ethan were strolling along the pier among the crowds of people enjoying the sunny Saturday morning.  They stopped at a few shops and browsed through them briefly before continuing on their way.

“I just don’t understand what’s going on with James,” Brooke said, squinting through the bright sun as they made their way down the boardwalk.  “He promised me he was going to slow down and concentrate on his family for once.  But ever since I moved back into the mansion I’ve had the feeling that he’s up to something.  He’s always disappearing and going to secret meetings.  I never know where he’s at most of the time.”

“I wish I could help you,” Ethan began. “But since he lost Sunset Studios I’ve been in the dark about everything.  I can’t imagine what he might be involved in now.”

Brooke stopped and turned toward him.  “I think he’s trying to get Sunset Studios back,” she said, full of certainty.  “He promised me he wasn’t going to, but I think he’s gone behind my back and started some kind of war against Will Thomerson.”

Ethan frowned, shaking his head in confusion.  “If he was trying to get it back, he would have told me about it,” he claimed.  “I’ve always handled his finances.  Why would he be going it alone now?”

“Because telling you would mean running the risk of me finding out about it.”

Ethan sighed and they continued walking.  A few feet ahead they stopped at another shop and browsed around at a table of handmade blankets.  “I don’t know, Brooke.  I think you need to have a talk with him and find out once and for all.”

She nodded, gently running her fingers along a pink and blue baby blanket.  Her thoughts suddenly turned to her baby and she looked at Ethan with a certain amount of guilt.

“It’s gorgeous,” Ethan said, motioning to the blanket and picking it up.

“Guess I’m going to have to start making plans,” Brooke said with a smile, rubbing her stomach and feeling the soft blanket.   “I have to think about a nursery and start filling it with things like this.”

Ethan waved to the store clerk and held up the blanket.  “I’ll take this, please,” he said to the woman, then looked at Brooke and smiled.  “Consider it an early baby gift.”

Brooke smiled and looked into his eyes.  She tried to imagine what he would be like as a father.  If only she had the guts to tell him that he was going to be one soon enough.

Winter's Apartment

A short ways down the beach, Winter and Lauren were in the parking lot of their apartment building washing Winter’s red convertible Bug.   A nearby radio blasted as people ran along the beach surrounding them. 

“You’re going on tour?” Winter asked as she squeezed soapy water from a giant sponge onto the car.  “Lauren, that’s fantastic!  You must be so excited!”

“Yeah, I suppose,” was Lauren’s deadpan response.  She scrubbed the hood of the car and grew into a daze while thinking about Stormy and the fact that she was going to have to leave him.

“Imagine all the people you’ll get to meet,” Winter said, wiping her forehead with her arm.   She lowered the straps on her bikini top so she didn’t get tan lines.   “Famous musicians, agents, you name it.   I’m so jealous.   You’ll be off touring the country while I’m changing bedpans everyday.”

Lauren nodded silently, staring off into space in deep concentration.

“Hello?” Winter said, trying to catch her attention.  “Earth to Lauren.”

When she still didn’t respond, Winter picked up the hose and shot a spray of cold water at her.   Lauren shrieked with surprise and jumped out of the way.  “Hey!”

“Sorry, you were off in another world,” Winter said with a laugh.  “So what does this mystery guy you’ve been seeing have to say about it?”

Lauren looked at her and shrugged.  “He thinks it’s great.”

Studying her face, Winter dropped the sponge and moved toward her.  “So why don’t you seem happy?”

“I don’t know, Winter.  I’m excited and all but I hate the thought of leaving him for so long.  It's four months!”

“So ask him to go with you,” Winter suggested.  “What’s there to think about?  If he really wants to be with you then he’ll go.   It might make all those nights in hotel rooms a little more interesting.”

Lauren considered her idea and raised an eyebrow.  Maybe Winter was on to something.

“Anyway, you should at least think about it.  It won’t hurt to ask.”  Winter picked up the hose again and sprayed the soapy car.  She glanced up and her eyes landed on a familiar sight several yards up the beach.

Walking along the boardwalk was Ethan.   Next to him was Brooke.   Winter stopped what she was doing and watched them with menacing eyes.   They looked very cozy together.  Almost like a couple taking a leisurely walk together.   It made her sick.

Alex's House

That night, Alex sat in front of her dressing mirror pushing her hair up into a perfect coif and then applying a coat of bronze lipstick.  She impatiently looked at the clock, anticipating James to arrive in a matter of minutes for their big confrontation with Will.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror as Will approached from behind.  “Are you ready?” he asked, kissing her neck.

Standing up quickly, Alex turned toward him and tried to appear casual.  “It’s kind of early,” she said.  “The party doesn’t start for half an hour.  You know I like to be fashionably late.”

Will smiled and handed her her purse.  “I’d like to get there early,” he said.  “Besides, you’re out of gin and I’m dying for a drink.”

Alex looked at him and bit her lip.   If they left now the plan would be wrecked.  But she didn’t want to arouse suspicion with Will.  She’d have to let James know about the change of plans.  “Sure, just let me make a phone call,” she said, reaching for the phone.

“Can’t it wait?” Will said, taking her arm and leading her to the door.

Reluctantly, Alex let him escort her downstairs.  She hoped James would know enough to meet her at the beach club. 

Blackthorne Mansion

James walked out of his study as Brooke came down the stairs, dressed in a black formal Versace dress.  He looked at her and smiled broadly, kissing her lightly on the lips.

“You look amazing,” he said.  “You’ll be the envy of everyone there.”

“You look handsome yourself,” Brooke said, admiring his tuxedo.

James kissed her again and then pulled his keys out of his pocket.  “Darling, I’m going to have to meet you at the club.  There’s something I have to do on the way."

“Oh, well I can go with you,” Brooke offered.

Reluctantly, James shook his head.  “Believe me, it’s nothing very exciting.  Just some financial issues Ethan and I have been working on.”

Brooke frowned, distinctly recalling Ethan telling her earlier that day that he hadn’t been involved in James’s financial dealings lately.  She couldn’t believe that James was standing there lying to her.

“I’ll see you at the club,” James said before kissing her and flying out the door.

After he’d left, Brooke shook her head in disbelief.   She saw that nothing had changed where James was concerned.

Ethan Blackthorne

Winter sat on the bed slipping into her black pumps as Ethan stepped out of the bathroom in a dapper black tuxedo.   She watched him grab his watch from the dresser and looked at him suspiciously.

“What did you do today?” she asked.  Ever since she’d shown up at his house that evening she’d been dying to find out what circumstances brought him and Brooke together again that day.

Ethan shrugged.  “Nothing really,” he replied.   “Went to the pier.”

“Oh really?” Winter asked.  “With who?”

He appeared to hesitate before replying.  “With James.”

Winter clenched her fists.  Not only was he seeing Brooke behind her back, but he was lying about it too.  “I just remembered something I have to do,” she said, getting up and grabbing her purse.  “I’ll meet you at the party.”

Beach Club

At the Valley Beach Club, Lauren sat in her dressing room wearing a delicate silver sequined gown.  She fidgeted nervously with her hairbrush and examined herself in the mirror. 

When the door opened and Stormy walked inside she enthusiastically jumped up and ran toward him.  “I thought you’d never get here,” she said, smothering him with kisses.

Stormy smiled and kissed her in return.  “Hey, it’s still early.  You didn’t think I’d be late on your big night, did you?”

Lauren shook her head and grinned happily.  “I know, I’m just excited.  There’s something that I want to ask you.  I’ve been thinking about it all day.”

“What is it?” Stormy asked, detecting the severity of her voice.

“I want you to go on the tour with me,” she said.

Stormy’s eyes lit up and his mouth gaped open in awe.   While trying to form a reply, he noticed Brett standing in the doorway.  They both turned and looked at him, seeing the shocked expression on his face.

Blackthorne Mansion

From her bedroom, Brooke heard the doorbell ring and suddenly realized that Leilani had the evening off and was out for the night.  She grabbed her purse and headed down the hall to the stairs.   She’d been so busy thinking about James that she didn’t realize how late it was getting.   She would be late for the party if she didn’t get going.  She definitely had a thing or two to talk to James about when she got there.

She had just reached the first landing when the front door opened and Winter walked  into the foyer dressed in a black mini skirt and matching jacket.   Frowning, Brooke looked down at her and wondered what she was doing there.

“Can I help you with something?” she asked, immediately throwing her guard up.

Winter looked up and glared at Brooke.  She started toward the stairs intent on having it out with her once and for all.   “You can tell me what the hell you think you’re doing with Ethan.”

“I beg your pardon?” Brooke asked, startled by her nerve.  “I think you’d better leave.”

Winter shook her head and walked up the stairs to the landing.  “I’m not going anywhere until you get one thing straight,” she insisted, her eyes wildly darting back and forth.  “Ethan is mine.  You have your own man.  Why can’t you be happy with what you have?”

“I am happy with what I have,” Brooke said defensively.  She was slightly unnerved by how close Winter was standing to her and she felt anxious by her threatening stance.

“Oh please,” Winter mocked.  “You won’t be happy until you have every man in Hollywood chasing after you.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Brooke said, trying to maneuver around Winter so that she could proceed down the stairs.  “Get out of my way.”

“Get out of my life!” Winter yelled angrily.  “And stay away from Ethan!”

Fed up with her threats, Brooke forced her way past her and continued down the steps.  In her haste, she stumbled a little and started to lose her balance.  Her foot twisted inside her stiletto heel and she cried out as she fell and tumbled down the stairs to the hard wood floor in the foyer.

Winter watched with wide eyes, her heart beating wildly inside her chest.  She stood, frozen on the landing and gasping at the sight of Brooke’s unconscious body laying on the floor.

 


Next time...

Winter runs scared.  Stormy and Brett come to blows over Lauren.  Will vows revenge against Alex.  Brooke's baby is in grave danger.  Brett points Heather toward disaster.

 Read Episode 22

 

 


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