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Episode 23

 

Release Date:  May 6, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

After Brett made a scene at the Lauren's album premiere, Lauren told Stormy that Brett had blackmailed her into sleeping with her.  An angry Stormy attacked Brett by the pool and a vicious brawl ensued.  Brett told Heather there was more going on between Stormy and Lauren than she realized.  Heather followed Stormy to Lauren's dressing room and found them making love.  Brooke was rushed to the hospital and was successfully kept from going into premature labor. When Ethan learned that Winter was with Brooke when she fell, he angrily broke off their relationship.  Alex revealed to Will that she signed over Sunset Studios back to James, and then served him with annulment papers.  Later, Will cornered Alex at home and threatened to seek revenge against her and James.  


 

Episode 23

Season Finale

"Too Late"

 

Stormy stood in front of the window at Lauren’s apartment, staring outside at the crowds of care-free beachgoers frolicking in the sand and surf.    He closed his eyes, remembering a time when his life was much simpler.  Simple certainly wasn’t the case now, especially since Heather had thrown him out of their house the night before.  His marriage was over, his friendship with Brett was over, and he felt like his entire family was against him because of his affair with Lauren.   Meanwhile, Brett was still sitting pretty back at his father’s house, unsuspected of any wrongdoing whatsoever.  If anyone was the bad guy in the whole scenario it was him.  He blackmailed Lauren into sleeping with him.  He cheated on his wife and lied to everyone about it.  Who knows how many other evil deeds Brett Armstrong had done since he came into their lives.

Before he knew it, Lauren was wrapping her arms around him from behind and gently kissing his neck.  She loved having him spend the night.  It was the first time he’d ever been able to since they started their affair.   Little did Stormy know she was secretly thrilled that Heather was finally in the know.  Maybe now they could get on with some sort of a normal relationship.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked.

Stormy sighed and turned toward her.  “Everything,” he replied.  “Mainly about Brett and the way he seems to have gotten off squeaky clean in this whole mess.”

Lauren shrugged.  “So why don’t you tell Miranda?  She’s your sister.  She has a right to know that her husband is a cheating, blackmailing liar.”

Stormy stared off in concentration and shook his head.  “I don’t know.  Telling Miranda bad news is kind of like lighting a firecracker while it’s still in your hand.  You’re bound to get your head blown off.”

Just then there was a knock at the door and Lauren walked over to answer it.  After she pulled the door open, Jordan Rydell rushed inside and landed his gaze on Stormy, his eyes flaring wildly.

Stormy looked up at him and gulped.  He knew why he was there.  As Heather’s father, he was doing his obligatory visit to threaten him and tell him that he always knew he’d wind up hurting his daughter.

Before he could react, Jordan was rushing up toward him and sending him flying to the floor with a swift punch in the nose.   “You son of a bitch,” Jordan seethed, glaring down at his son-in-law.  “How could you treat my daughter like this?”

Lauren quickly ran to Stormy’s side and tended to his bloody nose.   She looked up at Jordan and scowled at him.  “I don’t know who you think you are, but you can’t just come barging into someone’s house throwing punches!   Now you’d better leave before I call the police.”

Stormy shook his head and struggled to his feet.  “Lauren, it’s okay,” he replied.  “I guess I had that coming.”

“You’re damn right you did,” Jordan said.  “I told my daughter from the minute she met you that you were nothing but trouble.  She chose not to believe me, but now it seems she’s singing a new tune.   You just couldn’t keep it in your pants, could you, Blackthorne?”

“Look, Jordan, you don’t understand,” Stormy protested.  “I love your daughter.”

“That’s a bunch of bull and you know it,” Jordan exclaimed.  “You don’t cheat on someone you love.  But then again I guess I shouldn’t expect anything else from you.  Look at your parents, for God’s sake.  They wouldn’t know a moral if it bit them on the-“

“Now hold it right there,” Stormy cut him off.  “Is this about my mother?  Are you just pissed that she dumped you and married Will Thomerson instead?  Because you were the one who gave her the ultimatum.  You can’t bully my mother into doing anything.  She won’t stand for it.”

“This has nothing to do with your mother,” Jordan said.  Truthfully it had more to do with Alex than he let on.  The whole Blackthorne family seemed to be administering one painful blow after another to his family.  He was fed up with it. 

“Whatever you think of me or my family, I swear to you, I never meant to hurt your daughter,” Stormy went on.  “That’s the truth.”

Jordan shook his head angrily.   “Now that we’ve seen you for the snake you are, I expect you to be out of my daughter’s life for good.  I don’t need her coming crying to me again because of something you did.   So stay here with your trampy lounge singer and leave Heather alone.”

Stormy sighed in desperation as Jordan turned and bounded back out of the apartment.

Cedars-Sinai

Meanwhile, at Cedars-Sinai, James walked into Brooke’s private room and flashed her a handsome smile.  “Good news, Darling.  Dr. Mitchell signed your release papers so I can take you home right away.”

Brooke smiled and sat up on her bed.  “Oh that is good news,” she said with a certain amount of relief.   “So everything’s okay with the baby?”

James nodded and kissed her warmly.  “It’s more than okay.  She says our baby is perfectly healthy and as long as you stay reasonably stress-free, there shouldn’t be any more problems.”

Brooke threw her arms around him and pulled him close.   She was more than relieved by the news.  After her fall down the stairs, she was terribly afraid that she would lose the baby.

“Listen, why don’t you get dressed and I’ll be back in a few minutes after I pull the car around, okay?” James said.

Brooke nodded eagerly and hugged him again.    James smiled and walked out into the hall.  He started toward the elevators and paused, nearly doubling over from the searing pain that coursed through his head.    Holding himself up against the wall, he closed his eyes and tried to block out the pain.   But it wouldn’t subside.   It persisted just as it had for the last couple of days. 

Before, his headaches were brought on in times of stress or when something happened to upset him.  But as the days went by he began getting them for no reason.  It was a sure sign that his condition was worsening far sooner than Dr. Farraday predicted.  But he couldn’t let it happen now.  He couldn’t lay down and die before he ever got a chance to hold his baby.

Winter's Apartment

Stormy sat down on the sofa and Lauren followed him, trying to guess what was going through his mind after Jordan’s impromptu visit.  She put her arm around him and tried to calm him down but it was useless.  He was already in a tailspin over Heather.

“I need to go see her,” he said, holding his face in his hands and staring down at the floor.  “I can’t just leave things the way they are.”

Lauren sighed and pulled away from him in protest.  “But what is that going to solve?” she asked.

“I don’t know!” Stormy insisted, standing up and pacing the room.

Following him with her arms folded, Lauren searched for something to say to get him to reconsider.  “Do you want to stay married to her?  Is that what you’re saying?”

Frustrated, Stormy shrugged and shot her a look.  “Maybe.  I don’t know.  I just know that I can’t go another day without talking to her and trying to explain.”

“Oh that’s just great!” Lauren exclaimed.  “So where does that leave me?  I thought we were going to be together, Stormy.  I asked you to go on tour with me, remember?  Have you even given that any thought?”

“Of course I have!”

“Well you haven’t given me an answer!” Lauren replied hostily.  “And now you tell me that you might want to get back together with her?  To save your marriage.  Is it just me or are you trying to give me the brush-off?”

The truth was that Stormy didn’t know what he wanted.  He did still love Heather and he always had.  Falling in love with Lauren was an accident.  It had nothing to do with his marriage.  “Look, I just need to talk to her.  That’s all.  If you can’t understand that then I’m sorry.”

Lauren opened her mouth to respond but Stormy was already barreling out the door and down the steps to his car.   She threw her hands up in resignation and ran into her bedroom, slamming the door angrily.

Jasmes Blackthorne

Back at the hospital, James sat on an examining table while Dr. Farraday checked his vitals and examined a new set of x-rays. 

“I wasn’t expecting this,” said the doctor, shaking his head as he looked at the x-rays.

“What?” James asked nervously.

“The brain swelling is progressing more rapidly than I’d anticipated.  I may have overestimated the time table we’re dealing with.”

James closed his eyes with regret.  “So you’re saying I could die much sooner than you originally thought?”

“I’m afraid so.”

James buttoned his shirt and jumped down from the table.   He was at a loss for words.   He was now faced with the possibility that he wouldn’t survive long enough to see Brooke give birth to his baby, much less have a hand in raising it.

“James, I told you there was a procedure that could make a difference,” said Dr. Farraday, taking off his reading glasses and looking at him sympathetically.  “There are no guarantees but it’s the only option you have.”

“You said the chances that I’d survive the operation are less than half,” James said.

“That’s right,” said Dr. Farraday.  “But at this point, I don’t see there are any other alternatives.  If you go without the surgery, you could be looking at a matter of weeks before you die.”

James cursed to himself and turned around in despair.  The last thing he wanted was to go through a risky operation and cause more stress on Brooke and the rest of his family.  They’d all been though so much already.  But if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have the joy of watching his baby grow up, or the pleasure of having Brooke as his wife again.

Taking a deep breath, he turned back to the doctor and nodded hesitantly.  “Okay,” he said with some regret.  “Schedule the surgery.”

Stormy and Heather's House

Heather opened the front door of her house and immediately tried pushing it closed again when she saw Stormy standing on the porch.

“Go away,” she said, trying to force it closed.

“We need to talk,” Stormy insisted, pushing his way inside.

Heather glared at him and ran into the living room.  “There’s nothing to talk about so why don’t you just leave.”

“How can you say there’s nothing to talk about?” he asked, pulling her toward him.

Refusing to look into his eyes for fear that she would cave, Heather resisted, turning away and looking out the window.  “Do you have any idea what it’s been like for me?” she asked, growing into a daze.  “All those months that I begged you to help me with my career.  To at least just take me seriously.   You ignored me and told me that you didn’t have time, that someday you’d get around to it.”

“Heather, that’s not what this is about,” Stormy protested.

“Don’t you dare tell me what this is about!” Heather yelled, finally turning and glaring at him.  “This is about what I say it’s about.  I’m angry and you have no right to tell me that I shouldn’t be.”

Stormy backed up a step.  He’d never heard her talk like that before.  The anger showed in her eyes and all over her face.  

After deciding she had his attention again, Heather turned away and continued.  “I asked you over and over again to just give me a chance.   Then when Lauren showed up and you took her under your wing and signed her to your label, I thought it was just because I wasn’t good enough, and I accepted that.”  She glanced at him and felt a tear forming in her eye.  “But I never thought that you’d start sleeping with her and that I’d have to accept that I wasn’t good enough in that department either.”

“Heather, that’s not how it is!” Stormy insisted.

“Yes it is!” she exclaimed.  “That’s exactly how it is!  I wasn’t good enough to be a singer, and I wasn’t good enough to satisfy you in bed!  Just admit it!”

“No!”

“Admit it, Stormy!” Heather screamed, walking forward and hitting his chest with her fists.  “I wasn’t good enough so you went out and found someone who was!”

Stormy grabbed her arms to stop her from hitting him.   He hated the fact that she blamed herself for everything.  It wasn’t like that at all, but how could he convince her of that?

Before he could say anything else, Heather ran past him and dashed up the stairs to their bedroom.  He ran his fingers through his hair and turned around in frustration.   Maybe now wasn’t the best time to try to get through to her.  Maybe he’d have to wait until she’d had time to calm down.

Brett Armstrong

Brett drove up to the driveway of a house in the Valley and parked the car, smiling with excitement at Miranda who sat next to him in the car.

“Brett, what are we doing here?” she asked with irritation.  “Whose house is this?”

Brett got out of the car and opened her door for her.   “It’s our house,” he said, taking her hand and leading her up to the front porch.

“What?” Miranda asked with a frown.  “What are you talking about?”

Turning the key in the knob, he opened the front door and led her inside the quaint cabana style house.  “This is our house,” he said, beaming from ear to ear as he walked around the wood floors of the living room.  “I just signed the papers this morning.”

Miranda looked around the small surroundings, shaking her head in dismay at the surprising news.  “You bought a house?” she asked.  “What’s wrong with where we live now?”

“Nothing,” Brett replied, walking up and putting his hands on her waist.  “But it’s your father’s house.  Besides, Brooke's living there now and the baby will be following soon after.  I thought you’d be thrilled to have a place of our own.  Somewhere we can start our own life together.  Away from your family.”  He was desperate to get away from the rest of the Blackthorne’s.  After everything that went down with Stormy and Lauren, James wouldn’t rest until he had him exiled from L.A.  If they continued living in the mansion, it would only be a matter of time before things hit the fan.  They needed to be as far away from everyone as possible.

“I guess I never thought about it like that,” Miranda said, looking around and touching the bare walls with her hands.  “Living with Brooke would be like a nightmare.  And once that baby comes who could get any sleep?”

“So you like it then?” Brett asked with excitement evident in his eyes.

She shrugged.  “Yeah.  I mean, it’s kind of small, and it’s in the Valley.  But I guess it might be okay.”

Brett smiled and picked her up, spinning her around as he kissed her cheerfully.

Jordan's House

The butler opened the door to the vast mansion in Beverly Hills and led Alex into the sitting room.  He disappeared through the giant paneled doors and she looked around nervously.  Wringing her hands together, she paced the floor of the stylish room and admired a photo of Jordan and his two children. 

The sound of the doors opening again sent her into a panic and she looked up, spotting Jordan entering the room with a somber look on his face.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.  “Shouldn’t you be at home with your new husband?”

Alex put the photo down and ran across the room toward him.  “Jordan, please.  I wanted to talk to you before it was too late.”

He frowned.  “Too late for what?”

“For us,” Alex replied, her eyes pleading.  “Jordan, I love you.”

He scoffed and walked over to where she’d been standing.  He looked down, noticing the picture she’d been holding when he entered the room.  “Unless I’m mistaken, the minute you said I do to Will Thomerson kind of signified the end of us.”

“But there’s something you don’t understand,” Alex said.  “Will and I aren’t married anymore.  I had the marriage annulled.”

He looked at her with surprise.  “That was quick.”  He walked over to the window and looked outside at the flowing green lawns.   “I can’t imagine what could have happened to change your mind in the two days you were married to him.”

“That’s just it,” Alex continued eagerly.  “It was a setup.  I was helping James get his studio back.  We wanted to stick it to Will just like he stuck it to James.”

Jordan turned toward her and rolled his eyes.  “Ahhh, so James is the catalyst here.  Why am I not surprised?”

“What does that supposed to mean?”

“It means that James seems to be your first priority lately,” Jordan replied.  “It was James that you ran off to be with when we were supposed to be getting married.  It was James that you manipulated into thinking you were still married back on that island.  It seems that he’s the one you should have married, not Will, and certainly not me.”

“No, that’s not the way it is,” Alex said in desperation.  “I was just trying to undo some of the damage I’d done.  It was partly because of me that James lost his studio, and he’s been having headaches because of that plane crash and it was my fault that he-“

“Enough!” Jordan yelled.

Alex stopped mid-sentence and shot him a troubled look.

“All I’m hearing is how you did everything for James,” Jordan continued.  “Well what about me, Alex?  I’m the one who asked you to marry me.”

“Yeah, so you could manipulate me into starring in your damn movie!”

“At first, yes!” Jordan replied.  “But then I fell in love with you!  I was planning our life together, Alex!  I wanted to be the envy of every couple in Hollywood!  I wanted to shower you with affection and show you how special you are!”

Jordan, I-“

“But you know what happened instead?” He cut her off.  “You shot me down, left me at our own wedding, and made a fool of me.”

Alex felt her eyes stinging with tears.  “I never meant to hurt you.  I thought I was doing the right thing.”

He shook his head.  “You did the right thing.  For James.”  He turned and left the room, disappearing from view and leaving Alex standing in despair.

She couldn’t accept what she’d done.  She had spent so much time trying to destroy James and then trying to help him, that she completely ignored Jordan’s feelings.  Now she’d lost him forever, and she would never forgive herself for that.

Ethan's House

That evening, Ethan returned home from a four-mile jog through the Valley and trotted up to his front porch where Winter was sitting, impatiently waiting for him.   He let out a deep breath and stopped just as he got to the steps.

“What are you doing here?” he asked in bated breath.  “I thought I told you I never wanted to see you again.”

Winter shot up to her feet and reached out to him in despair.  “But Ethan, I can’t just walk away from everything we had together,” she said, following him to the door as he unlocked it.   “I love you.  We belong together.”

He shook his head and turned back to her.  “We do not belong together,” he replied bitterly.  “Anyone who would harm a pregnant woman-”

“I didn’t hurt her!” Winter protested.  “Can’t you understand that?  It was an accident!  How many times do I have to tell you!”

“Why should I believe you?” Ethan asked with a frown.  “Brooke told me about all of the horrible things you’ve said to her.  Name one thing she ever did to deserve any of that.”

Struggling with words, Winter shook her head in exasperation.  “Look, Ethan, I was jealous.  I admit it.  I was jealous of all the time you were spending with her.  Does that make me a terrible person?”

“No,” he replied after hesitating for a few seconds.  “And maybe her falling was an accident, but I think that you secretly hoped she’d be hurt.  I mean, you did run off without so much as calling for help.  You left her there alone.”

“I was scared!” Winter cried, trying to keep her wits about her.  “I didn’t know what to do. I just froze up.”

Ethan opened the door and started inside.  “Whatever it was, it doesn’t matter now,” he said.

“Don’t say that!” Winter argued, trying to stop him from closing the door on her.

“It’s over, Winter,” Ethan said, forcing the door closed and locking her out on the porch.

Winter turned around in desperation, fighting back the tears that formed in her eyes.  She couldn’t believe Ethan was tossing her aside like that, ike their relationship meant nothing to him.  And it was all for Brooke.   All for his precious Brooke.

Blackthorne Mansion

Miranda walked down the hall at the Blackthorne mansion and found Stormy in the game room playing PS3 in front of the TV.   She frowned and sauntered inside, flopping down on the couch and eyeing him suspiciously.

“So you’re moving in now?” she asked, watching the television with annoyance.

He didn’t look up at her.  “No, just killing some time.”

Miranda laid back and put her feet up on the coffee table.  “So you’re moving in with Lauren, then?”

Stormy sighed and shut of the game.  He realized he wasn’t going to get a moments peace at the house so why did he even bother.  “I don’t know yet.  Lauren’s leaving tomorrow to go on tour for four months.  She asked me to go with her.”

“Are you going to?” Miranda asked with surprise.

“Miranda, I don’t know,” he replied, growing more and more irritated by her questioning.

“Does Heather know?” Miranda asked, glaring at him.

 He rolled his eyes.  “Heather probably couldn’t care less if I left town.  She’s not very happy with me right now.”

Miranda sat forward and threw her hands up in aggravation.  “Why should she be?” she asked irately.  “She just found out her husband has been cheating on her.  I would have kicked your sorry ass out too.”

Her words made him see red.  If only she knew that her own husband was doing the exact same thing to her.  He wished he could just tell her everything about Brett.  It was the only fair thing to do since he was her brother and all.   Before he knew it he was standing up and shouting down at her.

“Then by all means kick your husband out!” he began.

What?” Miranda asked in shock.  “My husband hasn’t done anything.  You’re the issue here.  Not Brett.”

They didn't see Brett appear in the doorway.   He heard their volatile words and quickly ducked around the corner out of sight.   He strained to hear their conversation, leaning as close to the door as he could without being noticed.

“Brett’s been lying to you all along!” Stormy yelled, already regretting that he’d brought it up.   Just like he’d told Lauren earlier, telling Miranda anything was asking for trouble.  “He found out about Lauren and me and blackmailed her into sleeping with him!"

“That’s ridiculous!” Miranda exclaimed as she lurched forward.  “Like Lauren would even go along with something like that!”

“She went along with it because she didn’t want Heather finding out that way!” Stormy insisted.  “She was trying to protect me!”

Miranda rolled her eyes.  “Oh yeah, right.  When faced with a choice like that, Lauren’s first instinct is to protect you from your wife?  That doesn’t make any sense, Stormy!  If she wanted you so much then she wouldn’t have cared if Heather found out or not!”

Stormy ran his fingers through his hair and chuckled.  “How did I know you would react this way?” he asked.  “You refuse to see the truth that’s right in front of you.  I’m really surprised by you, Sis.  You’re usually the first to jump on the attack when you think something’s going on behind your back.”

“That’s because there isn’t anything going on behind my back!”  Miranda exclaimed angrily.   “You’re just trying to shift the blame onto someone else so you’re not the only one who looks like a total jackass!  Brett is a good guy, Stormy.  He’s proven that over and over again.   You used to think so too.  Remember Devon and the way you helped him expose her?  You found out then that you were wrong about Brett.  So what happened all the sudden?  One minute you’re best friends and the next you’re beating each other to a pulp in the pool!”

“He’s a fraud, Miranda,” Stormy persisted.  “He’s using you for your money.  He’s using you because of this house and all your connections with Mom and Dad.”

Miranda laughed and shook her head.  “That is not true,” she said.  “Brett just bought us a house.  With his own money.   He didn’t want to live here anymore because it’s not something we can call our own.   He wants to make it without mom and dad’s help.”

“You’re moving out?” Stormy asked in shock.

“Yes, so there goes your theory about Brett using me.”

Out in the hall, Brett listened carefully.  He couldn’t be happier with the way Miranda had handled herself.  Thank God she was so naïve that she believed he bought the house so they could become independent from her family.   It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.

“Ask him,” Stormy continued.  “Ask him about Lauren and see what he says.”

“I don’t have to ask him anything!  I know he didn’t do the things you’re accusing him of!”

Sighing with frustration, Stormy turned and raced out of the room.   Brett heard him coming and quickly ducked around the corner.    When he was gone, he waited a minute and then proceeded into the game room where Miranda was leaning thoughtfully against the pool table.

“Hey baby,” he said with a grin, walking over and putting his arms around her.

“Hi,” Miranda replied, forcing a smile on her face.

Brett leaned in and kissed her.  “Something wrong, Babe?”

She hesitated and then shook her head with a smile.  “No, everything’s perfect,” she said, trying to shake off the lies Stormy had told her.   “I was just thinking about the new house and how excited I am to move into our own place.”

Brett grinned and hugged her close.  “It’s going to be so great,” he said, then added deliberately.  “The most important thing to me is to make it on our own, without your dad’s help.”

Miranda smiled contently, burying her face in his shoulder as he held her close.  She was more secure in her marriage than ever.  Her brother was an idiot for thinking Brett could be anything but honest with her.

Brooke Taylor

James knew he couldn’t put it off any longer.  He had to tell Brooke that he was checking into the hospital for surgery tomorrow.   A surgery that was so serious there was a fifty percent chance he wouldn’t even make it out alive.   As the mother of his expected child, she had to be told, and it couldn’t wait another minute. 

Knocking on Brooke’s bedroom door, he waited a beat before walking inside.   He smiled at her as she was turning down the bed, glowing in her radiant blue chiffon robe and her long blond hair cascading down her shoulders.

“You look beautiful,” he said with admiration. 

Brooke smiled and got into bed.  “I was hoping you would stop by before turning in,” she said.

“Really?” James asked, walking into the room and standing above her.

She nodded and pulled the sheets down on the opposite side of the bed.  “I was hoping you would stay with me tonight.”

James’s face lit up.  “Are you sure?” he asked, praying that it was for real, that she actually did want to share their bed with him again.

“Yes, I’m sure,” she said.

James took off his robe and climbed into bed next to her.  He looked into her beautiful blue eyes and put his arm around her, pulling her close and kissing her.  “I’ve waited so long for this,” he said.   “Just to hold you close again.  It means so much to me.   Having you home where you belong, and knowing that our baby is safe.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“Everything's going to be all right,” Brooke assured him.

He kissed her again, trying to find the words to tell her what he desperately needed to.  But what words could he use to tell her such horrendous news?   What words could he use that wouldn’t spoil the magical night they were spending together?  Maybe it was better to just tell her later so she wouldn't worry.

Deciding it could wait until morning, he put it out of his mind and nestled close to her in the bed.   If there was a chance of him not making it out of the surgery, he wanted to spend his last night with the woman he loved. 

Alex's House

The next morning, Miranda went to her mother’s house in Malibu and sipped a cup of coffee while Alex got dressed in her bedroom.

“So let me get this straight,” Miranda started.  “You married Will Thomerson, Dad’s worst enemy, and divorced him two days later?”

“That’s right,” Alex replied, powdering her face with a makeup brush as she examined herself in the mirror.   “It was strictly business.   Your father now owns Sunset Studios again, as he should.”

“Wow,” Miranda said with a smile.  “It’s kind of nice having my parents on the same side for a change.   I don’t remember the last time the two of you did anything nice for one another.”

“Well I’m a changed woman, Miranda,” Alex said, turning around and smiling happily at her daughter.  “Revenge is not my main priority anymore.”

“So what is?” Miranda asked skeptically.  “Are you going back to work?”

Alex sighed and walked across the room to her enormous walk-in closet.  “That’s a possibility,” she replied.  “I’m keeping my options open.”

“And what about Jordan?”

Alex pretended not to seem phased by the mention of his name.  “What about him?”

Miranda got up from the chair and followed her mother across the room.  “Come on, Mom.  I haven’t seen you so happy with someone in like forever.  I thought you two were kind of cute together, to be honest.  And don’t ever tell him I said that or I’ll deny it.”

“Jordan isn’t very happy with me,” Alex said regretfully.  “He seems to think that I cater to your father a little too much.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Miranda replied, pulling a gown out of the closet and holding it up to her small frame as she looked in the mirror.  “You were set to marry the guy.  Then things got kind of messed up and now you can go back and fix it, right?”

Alex sighed and flung herself onto the bed.  “I don’t think so, Darling.  I think Jordan has finally had it with me.”

Miranda pursed her lips together, upset that her mother seemed so unhappy, despite the brave face she put on.

Blackthorne Mansion

James and Brooke sat at the breakfast table with Stormy as Leilani served them coffee and juice.   The room was eerily quiet until the doorbell rang and James got up to answer it.

“I’ll get it, Leilani,” he said, heading out into the foyer.  He needed a distraction from the tense morning they’d had so far.   He was on edge, trying to think of a way to tell Brooke about the operation.  But he kept putting it off.   He was going to have to tell her that morning because he was scheduled to check in to the hospital in the afternoon.

When he opened the door, Kenny DeWitt entered, offering a booming good morning as he patted James on the shoulder.   “James, I stopped by to give you my congratulations,” he said, holding up the morning paper. 

James looked at the headline and smiled vaguely.  “Thanks, Kenny.”

Frowning, Kenny turned to his old friend and folded his arms.  “You don’t sound like a man who just got his company back,” he said.  “What’s wrong, ol’ boy?”

Just then, Brooke and Stormy came out of the dining room after hearing the commotion.   Brooke looked at James with a frown, suddenly realizing that she was right about him trying to get his studio back, and doing it behind her back.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked.

“I was going to, Darling,” James said, walking over to her.  “I just didn’t want to jinx it, that’s all.”

She frowned.  “Is that what all those secret meetings were about?”

He nodded reluctantly.  “Well, yes.  I had to put the wheels into motion, but Alex and Brandon really did most of the work.”

“Alex?” Brooke exclaimed.  “Your ex-wife helped you get your studio back?”

James didn’t want to argue.  He knew she didn’t want him going out of his way and making their lives chaotic while trying to get Sunset Studios back.  But he hadn’t done that at all.  He’d succeeded in getting it back with very little discourse. 

“Look, it was just a simple business deal,” James said.

That’s why she married Will Thomerson,” Stormy said, snapping his fingers.

Brooke shook her head in aggravation and headed for the door.  “I have to get out of here,” she said.

“Brooke, wait!” James said, pulling her back.  “Please, don’t be upset.”

“I’m sorry,” Brooke said as she turned to him.  “I believed you when you told me that your family was the most important thing to you.   I guess I was wrong.”

James watched in sorrow as she left the mansion.  He slammed his fist against the door and turned back to Kenny and Stormy. 

“James, I’m sorry,” Kenny said.  “I had no idea-“

“No, it’s okay, Kenny,” James replied, patting his friend on the shoulder.  “It’s not your fault.”

Stormy hated to change the subject from something obviously so important, but he had to let his father know what was going on in his life.  “Dad, I need to talk to you.”

“Not now, Son,” James said, turning away and trying to decide how he was going to smooth things over with Brooke.  Particularly since he was going into the hospital later that day.

Just then, Miranda and Brett walked down the stairs, holding hands gleefully and running over to James.  “Hi Daddy,” Miranda said, kissing him on the cheek.  “Guess what?”

James rolled his eyes and turned to his daughter.  He wasn’t in the mood for her dramatics today.  “What is it, Miranda?”

“Brett and I are moving out,” she announced, squeezing her husbands hand firmly in hers.

Stormy glared at Brett, summoning all of his self control to keep from lurching forward and beating the tar out of him.

“You’re what?” James asked with a frown.

“I bought us a house in the Valley,” Brett said.  “You won’t have us crowding you anymore.”

“We’re going to start moving in today!” Miranda exclaimed, heading for the door.

James closed his eyes in frustration and tried to focus on one thing at a time.  All he needed now was to hear that his daughter was moving out with the scumbag she’d married in Vegas. 

“Are you sure that’s what you want?”  he asked, hating the idea of his daughter not being close to him.  He wouldn’t have the luxury of keeping an eye on her anymore.   She was a wild child at heart, and he feared she needed particular guidance now that she was married to Brett.  “There’s plenty of room here at the mansion.”

“We want our own place, Daddy,” Miranda said happily.  “Please understand.”

James didn’t want to argue about it now.  He had to concentrate on Brooke and his impending surgery.  “Fine.  Whatever you want, Darling.”

They waved goodbye and made their way outside, leaving James in the foyer with Stormy and Kenny.

“I’ve gotta go too,” Stormy said, angry that his father didn’t have time for him as usual.  He fumbled with his keys in his pocket and headed outside to his car.

"Stormy, wait-" James began, but it was too late.  He was gone.  He sighed and shot Kenny a look of exasperation.  He couldn’t believe how his day was turning out.

Ethan Blackthorne

“I can’t believe he lied to me!” Brooke exclaimed as she paced around Ethan’s living room.   “He promised me he wasn’t going to put any more energy into that vendetta against Will Thomerson.   He said our baby was the most important thing in his life.”

“I’m sorry, Brooke,” Ethan said, taking her hand and looking into her eyes.  “Try not to get too upset.  Dr. Mitchell said you have to take it easy from now on.”

She nodded and slowly sat down on the sofa.   She had to get a handle on her anger over the situation.   She looked up at him and winced uneasily.  “Did you talk to Winter?”

Ethan nodded.  “I told her I never wanted to see her again.”

“Oh Ethan, I’m so sorry,” Brooke said regretfully. “I feel like this is all my fault.”

“It’s not,” Ethan snapped.  “Winter was the one who was jealous.  She’s the one who pushed you down those stairs.”

Brooke looked down, terrified that her life was never going to go back to normal.  She had so many things to worry about.   Winter, James, her baby’s health, and not to mention the fact that she was lying about the father of her baby.   It was all too much.

Before she knew what was happening, Ethan was placing his hands alongside her face and drawing her closer.  She closed her eyes, instinctively giving in to him as he kissed her with his soft, warm lips.

“No,” she said, quickly pulling away.  She stood up and held her head in her hands.  “I can’t, Ethan.  I’m sorry.”

He exhaled with frustration, confused by his feelings and hating that he couldn't act on them.

Kenny DeWitt

“James, why haven’t you told anyone about this?” Kenny asked back in the living room at the mansion.  “Brooke doesn’t even know?  Or your children?”

James shook his head.  “I couldn’t tell them.  I didn’t want to worry them.”

Kenny sighed heavily.  “James, you can’t protect everyone all the time.”

“I know,” James said, leading Kenny out into the foyer.  “I’m going to tell Brooke as soon as she gets back. “

“You check in tonight?”

“Yes.  The surgery is first thing in the morning.”

“Well, I’ll be there for you, old friend,” Kenny said, giving him a quick squeeze.

“Thanks, Kenny,” James said, showing him out the door.

After he’d left, James turned and started up the stairs when the doorbell rang again.  He sighed and pulled it open, thinking Kenny had probably forgotten something.  To his surprise, Winter was standing on the porch, a distraught look on her face.

“Winter, what are you doing here?” James asked.

She made her way inside, clutching her purse tightly as she turned toward him with a scowl.  “You have to do something about Brooke and Ethan,” she said.

He frowned again.  “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play games with me, James,” she said.  “You bribed me into getting back with Ethan a few months ago so you could keep him away from Brooke.   Well now that Ethan and I should be perfectly happy together, Brooke is slowly sinking her claws into him again.”

“That’s not so,” James insisted.

“It is!” Winter exclaimed.  “She’s with him all the time.  Every word that comes out of his mouth is Brooke this and Brooke that.   I’m telling you, James.  You’d better put a stop to it or I’ll-“

“Or you’ll what?” James asked, eyeing her skeptically.  “I think you’re the one who needs help, Winter.  You have the nerve to come over here telling me that there’s something going on between Brooke and my nephew, when you nearly caused her to lose her baby.”

“I did not,” Winter said in aggravation.  “I told Ethan and I’m telling you.  That was an accident.”

“Why were you confronting her in the first place?” James ordered.  “Just who in the hell do you think you are?”

Winter glared at him and took a step forward.  “I’m the woman who wants to make her relationship work.  But your wife, or fiancé or whatever you call her, isn’t making that possible.”

“You leave Brooke alone or I swear I’ll make you wish you were never born.”

Angry that he wasn’t taking her seriously, he left her no choice.  “You’d better wake up and realize that there’s more going on than you know,” she began.  Then before she knew it she dropped the bomb.  “Brooke is carrying Ethan’s baby.”

James’s eyes widened and he looked at her in awe.   She couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.   How could something like that even be possible?  In order for Brooke to be pregnant with Ethan’s child, that would have to mean they slept together.   And recounting the months that had passed, it would mean that it had to have happened around the time they were in the Dominican Republic.

Suddenly the prospect didn’t seem quite as far-fetched.   Suddenly everything began to make sense to him.

Lauren Spencer

Lauren opened her apartment door and looked at Stormy with a biting glare.  He waited a beat and then walked inside when she stood clear of the doorway.

“I’m sorry about yesterday,” he said glumly.

She folded her arms and watched him squirm in his own discomfort.  “Did you get everything worked out with Heather?” she asked.

“No,” he replied quickly.  “I mean, sort of.”

Lauren sighed and walked across the room, fiddling with a knick-knack on the television while she prepared herself for the bad news.  “Let me guess.  She said she would take you back and you agreed.”

Stormy walked up behind her and yearned to reach out to her.  “She said it was over and she can never forgive me.”

Lauren swallowed hard.   What did that mean for them?

“I’m not going back to Heather,” Stormy continued, grabbing her arm and turning her toward him.  “Our marriage is over.  It was over a long time ago.”

Lauren prayed he’d tell her what she wanted to hear.   She wanted him so badly she could taste it.

“I want you,” he finally said.  “I’ve wanted you since the day I met you.”

Her expression turned to one of great content as she threw her arms around him and pulled him into an embrace.  “Oh God, I love you,” she said.  “I’m so glad you came back.  I was packing for the tour and I kept thinking about how I didn’t want to leave things the way they were. “

“I know,” Stormy said, kissing her repeatedly.  “I just want to be with you all the time.”

Lauren stood back and looked at him hopefully.  “Does that mean-?”

He nodded, smiling from ear to ear as he hugged her again and picked her up off the floor in elation.

Jordan Rydell

Miranda walked into Jordan’s house in Beverly Hills and followed the butler into the sitting room where Jordan was just hanging up the telephone.

“I don’t suppose that was my mother,” Miranda said, moving swiftly into the room.

Jordan frowned.  “No, as a matter of fact it wasn’t,” he replied.  “Is there something I can help you with, Miranda?”

She nodded, flashing her attitude blatantly at him.  “Yes, you can get your head out of your ass and marry my mother.”

He sighed and went back to his desk where a slew of paperwork was laid out from end to end.  “Thank you for coming by, Miranda.   It’s been lovely seeing you as usual.”

Refusing to give up, Miranda stepped forward and slammed her hand on the desk in an effort to get his attention.  “You love her!  So why are you being such a pompous ass about this?”

Surprised by her candor, Jordan looked up and raised an eyebrow.  “Whatever I felt for your mother is gone.  She ruined it when she chose your father over me.  I’ve moved on, and so should the two of you.”

“Moved on?” Miranda asked angrily.  “Don’t tell me you found some Hollywood bimbo to cavort around town with.   I hear that was your specialty once upon a time.”

“No,” Jordan replied flatly.  “I’m going away for a while.”

“Where?” Miranda demanded.

“Hawaii.  It’s beautiful this time of year, and I haven’t taken my yacht anywhere in years.  I figure it’s about time I did something for myself.”

“You can’t leave!” Miranda exclaimed.  “You have to stay here and marry my mother!”

“I don’t want to!” Jordan said, finding it amusing that he had to defend himself against her.   “Since when did you become such a supporter of my relationship with your mother?”

Miranda hesitated, not willing to admit that she had a soft spot, but realizing it was the only way to get through to him.  “Because it’s been years since I’ve seen her as happy as she was when you were together. And since you broke up, I haven’t ever seen her as miserable.”

Jordan paused, wondering if there was some truth to what she was saying.   He did still love Alex, and wanted more than anything to be with her.   But no.  She made her choice and now she had to live with it.

“I’ll send you a postcard from Hawaii,” he said, quickly looking down at his desk and trying to act busy.

Miranda huffed in frustration and then turned and raced back out of the room.

Jordan looked up and watched her go, desperately trying to get Alex out of his mind. 

Ethan's House

Ethan followed Brooke across the room to the window, trying to get her to talk to him after the awkward moment had passed.

“I’m sorry, Brooke,” he said.  “I know I shouldn’t have done that.  I just can’t help myself.  The way I feel about you is-“

Suddenly the phone rang and interrupted his sentence.  Brooke looked at him and shook her head.  “You better get that,” she said dismissively.   She couldn’t stand the guilt over her feelings.  Why hadn’t she gotten Ethan out of her system yet?  She was supposed to be reconnecting with James, and instead she was at Ethan’s house discussing the kiss they shared.   It was all wrong.

Ethan answered the phone in a hurry, anxious to get whoever it was off the line so they could finish their conversation.

“Ethan, are you free right now?” James asked as she stood in his study back at the Blackthorne mansion.

Frowning, Ethan shot Brooke a nervous stare.  “Uhhh, sure James.  What’s going on?”

Brooke quickly turned to him, her heart beating wildly as she realized he was on the phone with James.  What could he be calling for?  Did he know she was there?

“Now that I am in control of Sunset Studios again, I wanted to go over a few things with you,” James said.  “I don’t see any reason why we should put it off, do you?”

Nervously, Ethan ran his fingers through his hair and nodded.  “Uh, sure, I guess not.”

“Good.  I’ll see you in a few minutes then?” James asked with a smile.

“Sure.  I’ll be right over.”

James hung up the phone and stared across the room in a daze.   Disturbing images of Brooke and Ethan in bed together ran through his mind over and over like the reel of a movie.   He couldn’t get it out of his head.   It was haunting him.

“I’ll make you very sorry, Ethan,” he said to himself, staring down at the phone.  "I'll make you both very sorry."

Back at Ethan's house, Brooke walked over to Ethan and looked at him with great anxiety.  “What did James want?” she asked with wide eyes.

“He wants to talk about business,” Ethan replied, grabbing his wallet and keys off of a nearby table.  “I have to go over there right away.”

“What should I do?” Brooke asked.  “He can’t know I was here.  It’ll be too hard to explain-“

“You’ll stay here for a little while and then you can go home,” Ethan suggested.  “He won’t know we were together when he called.”

Brooke turned around, overcome with anxiety as she felt her eyes stinging.  “God, I hate all this lying and sneaking around.  I haven’t even done anything wrong and I feel like I’m some kind of evil, manipulative-“

“You’re not,” Ethan said, grabbing her arm and giving her a comforting look.  “You were just upset, so you came to see a friend.  That’s all.”

She nodded, stifling tears as he opened the door and started outside.

“I’ll see you in a little while,” Ethan said before turning and leaving the house.

After he’d gone, Brooke turned around and wrapped her arms around herself.  She was so confused about everything.   Her feelings were a mess and there didn’t seem to be any hope of ever sorting them out.

Renee and Kenny's House

Winter pounded on the massive door of Kenny DeWitt's mansion in Bel Air and then stood back, running her fingers through her hair.   She raised her fist to knock again when the door opened and Kenny stood before her, frowning at her sudden appearance.

"Kenny, you have to help me," she pleaded, tears forming in her eyes.  "I didn't know who else to go to."

"Do you have any idea how much trouble I'll get into if Renee sees you here?" Kenny yelled, grabbing her arm and forcing her outside onto the porch.

"I don't have anywhere else to go!" Winter exclaimed, shrugging her arm away from him.  "You're the only one who doesn't think I'm a horrible monster."

"Don't count on it," Kenny said sarcastically, shutting the door so no one inside could hear them.  "Now what is it that I can do for you, Winter?"

"I need money," she said in desperation. 

Kenny rolled his eyes.  "I'm not giving you any money."

Winter grabbed him and looked at him with wide eyes.  "Please, Kenny.  I need to get out of here.  Away from these people."

"Wait a minute," Kenny cut her off.  "You're leaving town?"

She nodded.  "I've ruined everything.  I tried holding on to Ethan but he couldn't get Brooke out of his mind.  Then I told James the truth about Brooke's baby and now I'm sure Ethan will go to her.  Don't you see, Kenny?  I ruined any chances I had with Ethan."

Kenny didn't even pretend to know what she was talking about.  All he knew was that his friends were miserable because of her, and it might do them all a world of good if he did give her the money to leave town with.

"All right, calm down," he finally said, realizing how disturbed she was.  "But if I give you the money, you have to promise me you'll never come back to L.A.  Nobody needs you causing trouble here anymore."

Winter nodded in agreement, wiping a tear from her eye as Kenny went back inside to get his checkbook.  She would leave all right. But one day she'd be back.  As soon as all of this blew over she'd settle the score with Brooke, Ethan, James, and every other Blackthorne who messed up her life.

Heather Blackthorne

Miranda felt like the family mediator when she left Jordan’s house in Beverly Hills and headed over to Heather’s place in the Valley.  She was unsuccessful at getting Jordan to reconsider marrying her mother, so maybe she’d have a chance at helping her brother’s marriage out.

“Thanks for coming by,” Heather said as she led Miranda into the living room.  “When I heard the doorbell I thought it was going to be Stormy again.”

“You don’t want to talk to him?” Miranda asked.

Heather shook her head adamantly.  “No, of course not.  Miranda, he cheated on me.  He was probably doing it for months.  If I hadn’t walked in on him and Lauren together at the club, I think it would have went on forever.”

“Did he tell you he was thinking of going on tour with Lauren?” Miranda asked.

Heather’s eyes shot upwards and she looked at Miranda with surprise.  "He is?” she asked in dismay.

Miranda nodded.  “She’s leaving today.”

Heather stared off in a daze, trying to predict what was going to happen.  It was almost a given that he would go with her.   As into her career was he was, he would give anything to be there when she promoted her album.

“But listen, if he decides to stay here, the good news is that Lauren will be out of the picture,” Miranda continued.  “At least for a few months.   You can get your marriage back on track.”

Heather looked at her skeptically.  “Why are you being so supportive?” she asked.  “You haven’t given a damn about our marriage in the past.  What changed?”

“Why does everyone keep asking me that?” Miranda asked in disbelief.  “I’m just trying to make sure that everyone else is as happy as I am.  That’s all.”

Staring at the floor in concentration, Heather shook her head.  “So you think that if Lauren weren’t around that Stormy and I could maybe work things out?”

“Definitely,” Miranda replied adamantly.   “You know what they say.  Out of sight, out of mind.”

Biting her lip, Heather thought about the possibility of working things out with Stormy.  She did still love him more than anything.  They’d been sweethearts since the ninth grade and her feelings had only gotten stronger since then.   She would be a fool to give up their marriage now.   Maybe all they needed was a little time to work things out and talk about their feelings.  And with Lauren out of the picture, that might be a strong possibility.

“What are you going to do?” Miranda asked as she watched Heather stand up and grab her purse.

“I’m going to go find Stormy,” she said.  “I’m going to tell him that I’m not giving him up without a fight.”

Miranda smiled, happy that at least one of her attempts at spreading happiness had turned out favorably.

Blackthorne Mansion

Ethan walked into the Blackthorne mansion and found James sitting behind his desk in the study.

“Hi,” he said with a nonchalant smile.  “Are you ready to get down to business?”

James stood up and glared at his nephew with contempt.  “I most certainly am,” he replied.   “But first I have to confess that I told you a little lie to get you over here.”

Ethan frowned in confusion.  “What do you mean?”

Walking around the desk and stopping just inches from Ethan, James looked down at him and clenched his fists angrily.  “I didn’t ask you here to talk about business.   I asked you here to talk about the affair you’re having with Brooke.”

Ethan’s eyes widened with surprise as he saw the dead serious look in James’s eyes.

“What’s the matter, Ethan?” James asked.  “You seem a little nervous.”

“Look, James, whatever you think you know-“

“I know that you slept with my wife!” James yelled in a blind fury.  “You lied to me and betrayed me after everything I’ve done for you!”

Ethan closed his eyes, wishing he knew how James found out about him and Brooke.  It had happened so long ago.  How could he know?

“I raised you after your father left you and your mother died!” James continued.  “I took you in and I gave you money and a job and a life!  I protected you from everything, from everyone who could destroy you!  From everything that could hurt you!”

He stopped, placing a hand on his forehead and praying that his headaches didn't come on.  He didn't want his anger to be overshadowed by his illness.   Thoughts of Will Thomerson flashed through his mind.  He considered the years and years he'd kept the secret from Ethan that Will was his father.   Just to protect him.  It seemed inconsequential now.

“I’m grateful to you for that, James,” Ethan said.  He knew he couldn’t deny anything to him now.  It was too late for that.  Telling James that he didn’t have an affair with Brooke would be like stabbing his Uncle in the back.

“So you show your gratitude by going to bed with my wife?” James asked in utter devastation.  “I loved you like I love my own son!”

Ethan knew he had to do something to make James understand.  “It happened while you were separated,” he explained. 

“It started a long time before that!” James yelled.  “I saw it building for weeks!  Months maybe!   I saw the way you looked at each other, the way you held her a little too close and a little too long every time you came or left the house.   I saw you dancing on our wedding day!  I saw the look in your eyes, Ethan!   You wanted her then!  On our wedding day!”

Ethan didn’t let himself lose control.  He had to try to explain.  “After Brooke left the house that day that Philip came to town and announced that they were still married, she came to me.  She was upset.  She thought she’d let you down and that your relationship was over for good.  I tried to comfort her.  I-“

“You did a damn fine job of that, didn’t you?” James bellowed.  “You comforted her so well that she got right into your bed!”

“It was a mistake!” Ethan exclaimed.  “The next morning she got up and flew to the Dominican Republic to get her divorce.  I was worried about her so I went after her.”

“And what a romantic setting that must have been,” James interrupted, glaring at him smugly.  “The balmy tropical breeze, the sunsets, the sound of the waves.  You must have felt like you were in paradise.  And to think, I was actually afraid I’d lost you forever in that jeep explosion.  I actually felt like I lost something precious to me.  If only I’d known that the only thing I lost was the man who tried to take my wife away from me.”

“But after I came home it stopped,” Ethan insisted.  “The two of you were trying to get your relationship back on track and I accepted that.  I realized that you were the one Brooke wanted.  She was carrying your child.  It was only right that she went back to you.”

“So I should be grateful?” James asked with a slight chuckle.

“No, that’s not what I mean-“

James took a deep breath and stepped closer to him.  “I have to ask you something, Ethan,” he began.  “Why didn’t you fight for her after your miraculous return from the dead?”

“I told you, because she was carrying your child and I-“

Your child!” James screamed. 

 His words shocked Ethan to the core, sending him staggering back a step.  What?”

James nodded, glaring at his nephew with contempt.  “It’s not my child that she’s carrying,” he said.  “It’s yours.”

Ethan’s eyes widened in disbelief as he stared at James in awe.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke pulled up into the circular drive outside the mansion and quickly went inside, trying to act as casually as she could under the circumstances.   She didn’t want James to suspect that anything was going on.

Immediately upon entering the foyer, she heard loud voices from the study.   She quietly crept over to the door and paused just outside, listening to the conversation going on between James and Ethan.

I’m the father of Brooke’s baby?” Ethan asked in disbelief. 

“Don’t act like you don’t know!” James shouted.  “It’s written all over your face!”

“Did she tell you that?” Ethan asked, feeling numb all over.

Brooke covered her mouth to keep from crying out.  She leaned against the wall just outside the study and tried to catch her breath.  How did James find out?   She hadn’t told anyone!

“No, she didn't tell me.  She’s been lying to me since the day she announced that she was pregnant,” James replied.  “Making me believe that's our baby she's carrying!  A life that we created out of love!  But it's not!  It's a life that you created out of your own lust and deception! "

“Look, James, I swear to you I never knew about this,” Ethan insisted.  “If that child she’s carrying is mine, then I am just as shocked as you are.”

“How typical,” James said, growing into a daze as he stared past him.  “It looks like Brooke is going to have some explaining to do when she comes home."

Ethan nodded, agreeing with James one hundred percent.  He asked Brooke point blank if there was any chance her baby could be his, and she said no.   If that was a lie, then he deserved to know the truth.

“So do you have any idea where she is?” James asked.  “I’d like to get this settled as soon as possible.”

Outside in the hall, Brooke closed her eyes in despair, feelings tears threaten to explode.   She couldn’t deal with it anymore.   All of her secrets were out and she couldn’t bare the thought of what was going to happen next.   She’d ruined her life and she’d ruined James’s and Ethan’s too. 

Quietly, she raced across the hall and went up the stairs to her bedroom. 

Alex Reynolds

Miranda gave Alex a tour of the new house, smiling happily as they walked from room to room, weaving through stacks of boxes piled on the floor.

"This is lovely, Sweetheart," Alex said distantly.

"Yeah, it's kind of small, I know," Miranda said.  "But I thought I'd call that decorator you used for your house.  She could do wonders."

"Absolutely," Alex replied, although her mind wasn't on houses or decorators.  She couldn't stop thinking about Jordan and the way they'd left things. 

"Brett is coming back over in a few minutes," Miranda said as she took a peek inside the refrigerator.   "He went back over to the mansion to get a few more things but I know he'll be upset if he misses you."

Staring out the window in a daze, Alex forced a smile on her face and turned back to her daughter.  "Yeah, I'd love some, Sweetie."

Frowning, Miranda took a step closer to her mother examined her carefully.  "Mom, are you even listening to me?" she asked.

"What?  Of course I am."

"No, you're not.  You're thinking about Jordan, aren't you?"

Realizing that she couldn't fool her perceptive daughter, Alex nodded with a sigh.  "Yes, I guess I was."

"It's not too late, you know," Miranda said.  "He hasn't left for Hawaii yet.  You can still catch him."

Alex turned around and floated across the bare floor.  "No, it's over," she said.  "He's made that quite clear."

"Since when does Alex Reynolds give up on anything?" Miranda asked with a knowing smile.  "You used to fight until you got what you wanted.   What changed?"

"Nothing's changed," Alex declared.  "I just don't think there's any hope for Jordan and I.   He said it himself.  He's fed up with me."

Miranda pulled her mother into an embrace, wishing there was something she could do to help her.   She hated seeing her so miserable.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke walked down the upstairs hallway at the Blackthorne mansion with a suitcase in each hand.   She passed Miranda and Brett's bedroom just as Brett was walking out into the hall with two boxes in his arms.

"Brooke?" Brett said, noticing her sullen expression and the fact that she was carrying her suitcases as if she were going somewhere.

She ignored him, refusing to stop and be talked out of leaving.  She had to get out of that house before she hurt anyone else.  She had to get as far away from L.A. as possible.

Brett watched her race down the staircase and head directly to the front door.  He frowned, wondering what was going on and if James knew about her leaving.

Quietly, Brooke pulled open the front door and slipped outside.

James and Ethan came out from the study just as Brett was walking down the staircase.    "Who was that?" James asked after hearing the door open and close again.

"Brooke," Brett replied, struggling with the heavy boxes.  "She just left."

James looked at Ethan in confusion.  "She was here?"

"Yeah," Brett announced.  "She just left with her suitcases.  Is she going somewhere?"

Quickly, James ran to the door and yanked it open.   He looked out at the driveway and saw Brooke's car speeding down the road a ways up ahead.    He sighed with regret and turned back to Ethan. 

"She's gone," he said.

Ethan stared off in a daze, feeling a sense of anxiety overcome him.  He had a strong feeling that Brooke wasn't coming back, and they'd never know for sure whose baby she was carrying.

The afternoon sun blazed down over the marina as Jordan climbed onto his yacht and asked the attendant if they were ready for shove off.

"Anytime you're ready, Mr. Rydell," said the young man as he adjusted the navigational aids.

"Good, let's get out of here," Jordan said, his tan skin glistening with sweat beneath the hot sun.  He adjusted his hat and opened the door to the lower cabin.  He wanted nothing more than to change into his swim trunks and lay out in the sun and forget about everything and everyone. 

Making his way down the steps to the luxuriously decorated cabin, he walked into the bedroom where the attendant had stowed his suitcase.   Glancing at the bed, he stopped and stared in astonishment at what he saw.

"How soon before we're in the Islands?" asked Alex as she laid naked beneath a plush fur blanket on the bed.   "I'm dying to wear one of those grass skirts."

Jordan's jaw dropped at the surprise awaiting him in his cabin.  He felt the yacht slowly floating away from the dock, then the vibration from the engine rumbling beneath his feet.  He smiled at Alex, amused by her persistence and ingenuity. 

Winter's Apartment

Heather knocked on the door of Lauren's apartment, eagerly awaiting an answer but none came.   She tried the knob and found it unlocked.   Quickly, she raced inside and called out for Stormy.  She knew he'd be there because Leilani said he left the mansion earlier that day.

"Stormy!" she called out, checking each room for any sign of her husband or his mistress.

She didn’t care what had happened before.  Whatever drove Stormy into Lauren's arms could be fixed.  They still had a chance at being happy and getting things back on track in their marriage.  All she had to do was stop him from going on tour with Lauren and everything would work itself out.  She just couldn't lose her husband.

Going into Lauren's bedroom, she was startled to find the bare walls and the empty dresser drawers pulled out halfway.   She felt her heart thudding inside her chest, rushing to the closet and pulling open the door.    Her eyes were unmoving as she stared at the empty hangers inside. 

Looking down to the floor, she saw a few pieces of Stormy's clothes discarded and left behind.   She bent down, picking up a ratty old T-shirt and lifting it to her face as tears formed in her eyes.

She was too late.   Lauren already left for her tour and Stormy went with her.   She'd  wasted too much time and now her husband was gone.

The prospect was too much to bear.   She stood up and grabbed a lamp from the bedside table, hurdling it across the room and shattering a mirror into dozens of pieces.   A second later, she raced back out into the living room and began sobbing uncontrollably.

Drawing her hand back, she swept it across a bookshelf, sending books and tiny knick-knacks crashing to the floor.   Her tears kept coming and she nearly hyperventilated, distraught that her husband had left with another woman.

Continuing her rage, Heather picked up a pillow from the sofa and used it to break everything she could find.   Glass shattered everywhere, books and records piled onto the floor, and feathers from the pillow exploded into the air like a giant cloud.   Hysterically, she dropped the pillow and walked out the door. 

She made her way down the stairs and walked over to the beach where she collapsed to her knees, burying her face in her hands as she cried.  The pain over her husband leaving came at her in waves, flooding her eyes with tears and leaving her hollow and empty.

Ethan's House

Ethan languidly walked into his house and threw his keys on the table in the entryway.   He sighed deeply and went into the living room and stood in a perplexed state of mind.   Everything had gone so wrong so fast, he thought to himself. 

As if his confrontation with James wasn't unsettling enough, but to find out that Brooke could be carrying his baby.

And now she was gone.  Disappeared without a clue as to where she went or why she left.

The why wasn't as much of a mystery, he decided.  She couldn't handle the pressure anymore.  Knowing that she'd lied to James, and lied to him.  It must have sent her over the edge.  She must have gotten to the point where she had no choice but to leave them all.

He sat down on the sofa and held his head in his hands.   "Brooke, why didn't you tell me?" he whispered to himself.  "Why didn't you tell me?"

Jasmes Blackthorne

James walked down the stairs at the mansion, holding a small suitcase in his hand and staring off in a state of bewilderment.  He was numb all over.  He didn't know how to react to the day's events.   Everything was such a mess.

"Mr. Blackthorne," Leilani said as she entered the foyer.  "The car is here to take you to the hospital."

James closed his eyes and started to the door.   On top of everything else, he was about to go into surgery and there was a chance he wouldn't come out of it alive.   He never got the chance to tell Brooke about it.  He never got the chance to live the happy life with her and the baby. 

Opening the door, he turned back and glanced back at his house.   All it was now was a reminder of a happier time.  He closed his eyes and remembered standing in the foyer with his family and friends as he and Brooke declared their love for one another and exchanged wedding vows.

It seemed like a million years ago.  So much had changed since then.

He reluctantly walked outside and closed the door, leaving his house quiet and tenantless. 


 

 


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