was bound to a wheelchair after his brain surgery.
Having spent the past five months searching
for Brooke, he received help from a reporter named
Janet Harper, who tracked Brooke down in Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Miranda traveled to Phoenix to
bring Stormy home after he and Lauren parted ways
during her tour. Brett, having assumed an executive
position at Sunset Studios during James'
illness, had been sleeping with Gwen Hardisty, the
private nurse hired to care for James. Miranda
became manager of Hotel Terranova, one of
James' fashionable resort hotels in the Hollywood
Hills. Jordan and Alex faced difficulties
in their new marriage. Alex considered going
into business with Marilee. Ethan began working
for Will Thomerson when James ostracized him from
the family for his afffair with Brooke. Meanwhile,
Heather had become romantically involved with Will
in hopes that he would help her with her film career.
While at a mall in Phoenix, Miranda and Stormy
ran into an eight months pregnant Brooke working
at a department store.
Lunch at Hotel
Terranova was an experience all its own.
The intimate restaurant just off the lobby was packed with dapper
businessmen, elegant women, and guests who stayed at the four diamond property
to benefit from the world-renowned tennis instructors, riding yards, golf ranges,
beautiful swimming pools. Some of the
most famous faces in music performed there nightly, turning the seemingly
casual atmosphere into an elegant affair of world-class taste.
and Heather were seated at their table and menus were thrust before them. Ethan continuously looked up at Heather who
sat uncomfortably close to Will’s side.
anything you want, Princess,” Will said, holding Heather’s hand in his. “You look like you could stand to gain a
pound or two.”
remark off, Heather poured over the menu, fully aware that Ethan was still
staring at her with burning intensity.
It looked odd with such a young woman with an older man. She knew this and she was used to the stares.
But if it benefited her career…
keep me in suspense any longer, Ethan,” Will said to the young man. “I’m dying to hear what you thought of The Murderess.”
it,” Ethan replied coolly. “The writer
obviously knows his characters. The plot
was believable, yet intense. And the
ending was pure Hollywood genius.”
with approval, Will folded his hands firmly on the table. “Good.
Then you’ll start working on getting the rights as soon as possible?”
nodded his reply and looked hastily around the restaurant. He wondered if Miranda would see them
there. They’d always been close but
their relationship had been strained since Brooke left town. After word got out that her might be the father
of her baby, thanks to Winter Austen’s machinations, he was less than welcome
with any of the Blackthornes.
“I see an
associate I’d like to say hello to,” Will announced. He kissed Heather on the cheek before he
stood up and made his way across the room.
was safety out of earshot, Ethan leaned in and whispered to Heather. “How much longer is this going to go on?” he
“What?” She pretended she didn’t know what he was
“What? You and
Will. What on earth do you have in
common? I’m sorry, Heather, I just don’t
get what you see in him. He’s twenty
years older than you. I’ve held my
tongue as long as I could.”
her teeth and snapped her menu closed.
“Like you have any room to dish out advice on relationships?” she
hissed. “Are you forgetting about that
nutcase Winter Austen? Or the fact that
you slept with James Blackthorne’s wife?”
sigh, Ethan leaned back and realized she had a point. He hadn’t exactly made the best choices when
it came to women. But what Heather was
doing was purely premeditated. “What do
you think you’re going to get out of this?”
he’d help me, okay?” Heather spat, standing up from the table and throwing her
napkin down. “Excuse me. I have to go freshen up.”
rubbed his hand across his face and watched Heather storm away. He knew that they were using each other and
it made his stomach turn. One thing he
knew of for sure was that Will Thomerson had it out for three people who’d
crossed him. Jordan Rydell, Alex
Reynolds, and James Blackthorne. He had
a feeling that Heather was the pawn in his game against Jordan.
And strangely, she was falling for it.
what are you doing here?” Miranda asked in a shrill voice. “Never mind, I
forgot you were the queen of the Sherman Oaks Galleria before my father took
you in. I hope you realize how much
trouble you’ve caused. Everyone’s been
looking for you.”
looked at her plainly. She was
twenty-eight and her once youthful, glowing complexion was tired and
listless. Her long blond hair was tied
back in a plain ponytail and her pregnant stomach looked as if it were ready to
you’ve found me,” she said solemnly. “So
what are you going to do?”
all-“ Miranda began, throwing her hands up in a tantrum before Stormy stepped
forward and silenced her.
why did you take off like that?” he asked sympathetically. “My Dad’s been worried sick. Ethan too.
You’re carrying a baby. Whose
baby it is nobody knows but you. Don’t
you think you owe it to them to go back and straighten this out?”
sunk to the floor and she shook her head. “I can’t,” she said. “I just don’t want to hurt anyone.”
little late for that!” Miranda exclaimed, trying to force her way toward her.
Stormy warned her with a cold stare.
“Look, I’m just as guilty as you are.
I took off for five months.
That’s why we’re here. Miranda
brought the jet. Brooke, you can come
with us. You can go back to L.A.
and at least give the father of
your baby a fighting chance. Whoever he
late for that,” Brooke insisted, her eyes welling up with tears as she
nervously fidgeted with a tray of mascaras.
She took a deep breath and looked up at Stormy again. “I heard about James on the news. About the surgery. Why didn’t he tell me?”
tell anyone,” Stormy replied.
DeWitt called me the morning of the surgery,” Miranda explained. “Daddy was too afraid to tell anyone.”
“How is he
now?” Brooke asked, her voice filled with concern. She hated the thought of James going through
such a traumatic ordeal, compiled on top of her taking off without a word. It wasn’t the best way to handle things but
she felt she had no choice.
walk,” Miranda replied matter-of-factly.
“He’s in a wheelchair. They say it might be forever.”
closed her eyes as tears began to form.
“Oh my God,” she whispered.
her soft side was about to show, Miranda folded her arms across her ample bosom
and attempted to maintain a rigid expression on her face. “Look, I know we’ve never gotten along but I
do know how much my father loves you.
He’s been a mess since you left.
I’m afraid that until this thing is resolved, he won’t have the
motivation to push himself. If that
happens then he’ll stay in that chair and become a hermit.”
and confused, Brooke turned just as Philip Whitacre approached, a hearty smile
on his handsome, tanned face. He walked
up and kissed her lightly on the cheek.
“Hey Babe. I know how hungry you
get in the morning so I brought you a bagel.”
a small paper bag from him and vaguely smiled.
“What’s this?” Miranda asked, her voice rising
to a high-pitched squeal. “Are you back
together with this guy?”
not like that-“
really? It sure looks that way to me!”
Miranda exclaimed, staring Philip up and down and clenching her fists in
anger. “It isn’t bad enough that you
lied to my father about your first marriage, but now you’re back with your
ex-husband? I suppose you told him he’s
the father too.”
see you again too,” Philip said with a smarmy smile. He was twenty-nine, a chiseled hunk with dark
hair and dark eyes that brooded mysteriously.
together,” Brooke insisted, growing more agitated by the second. “I had no where else to go so I came back to Phoenix.
I ran into Philip and he offered to let me stay with him until I got on
five months ago,” Miranda said, shooting Stormy an angry look and then pointed
a thin finger at Brooke. “You mean to
tell me you’re living with him but you’re not together?”
Brooke lamented, then shook her head in confusion. “I mean yes! God, why did you have to come here? Why did you have to walk into this mall and
mess everything up!”
she turned and ran down the corridor to the back of the store, leaving Philip,
Stormy and Miranda behind in mass confusion.
Miranda’s cell phone rang and she plucked it from her purse to answer.
she said absently, then paused and waited a beat. “What?”
it?” Stormy asked with a frown.
She blew a
strand of hair from her eyes and crossed her arms. “The pilot has to go back to L.A.”
“To pick up
our father,” she replied. “He’s coming here.”
Back at Sunset Studios in Hollywood, Brett sat in his office
overlooking the enormous lot where dozens of extras, camera crews, and prop
people ran back and forth with a sense of urgency. He reached across the desk and took the
bottle of pills from the unsavory looking character before him.
sure these are safe?” Brett asked, looking at the plain label on the orange
bottle of pills. He opened the top and
poured a few out into the palm of his hand.
They were big and white with a thick line down the center. “I don’t want him dead.”
sure about that?” the man asked.
looked at him with disgust. “Of course
I’m sure,” he barked. “Now I’m going to
ask you again. Are these safe?”
could sense the severity in Brett’s voice so he offered a quick nod of his
head. “Yeah, they’re safe,” he
replied. “They're a kind of muscle
relaxer. He’ll feel weak and fatigued
all the time.”
chances of him regaining the feeling in his legs are pretty slim?” Brett asked
ominously looking down at the pills in his hand.
“As long as
he’s taking these pills, he won’t have the strength to walk again.”
a deep breath and poured the pills back into the container. “What about long term effects? What if he keeps taking them indefinitely?”
be in the wheelchair indefinitely. Over
time they’ll cause too much damage and he’ll never walk again.”
pocketed the pills and handed the man a stack of hundred dollar bills. “Thank you for your time,” he said. “And for your discretion.”
Will stood in his bedroom at his sizeable estate in Hollywood.
He crept up behind her and kissed her neck, looking at their reflection
in the mirror. She started to pull away
but forced herself to remain available to him.
It was all for the good of her career.
know why you put up with me,” Will said, his blondish brown hair falling lazily
into his eyes.
a faint smile. “What do you mean?”
came in pieces, hurried between kisses and passionate embraces. “A girl as young and beautiful as you with an
older man like myself.” He laughed a
little in spite of himself. “But you’ve
never had it so good, have you?”
had to laugh at his arrogance. Yes, as a matter of fact I have had it as
good, and better, she wanted to say.
You have nothing on Stormy, that’s
for sure. But that was over with
now. She had moved on. She’d married Stormy for love, and she was
determined not to make the same mistake again.
Her relationship with Will Thomerson was purely for her own
benefit. Yes, he was attractive, but
there was no long term appeal.
you move in here with me?” Will asked, turning her around to face him.
and started to move away. “Don’t be
“Am I being ridiculous?” Will asked as he
followed her across the room. “You’re
living in James Blackthorne’s house. And
why? You’re practically divorced from
Stormy. He’s no doubt gone off on some
five-month long sexcapade. You have no
ties to that family anymore. Why would
you want to put yourself through that?”
it’s better than living with my arrogant, self-involved father,” she replied
and pulled her into an embrace.
“Princess, I just want what’s best for you,” he said. “You’ve made a happy man out of me these last
few months. I want to return the favor.”
Heather said, allowing him to lower her dress off her shoulders. “By putting me in your film, remember?’
sickly. “Ah yes,” he said as he pushed
her down onto the bed. “How could I
paced around the small two-bedroom apartment in Phoenix, nervously wringing her hands
together as she tried desperately to remain calm. What were the odds of Miranda and Stormy
showing up at the mall where she worked?
Now her attempt at getting away from L.A.
and that house in Hollywood was shot to pieces. She'd have no choice but to face the music
now. James and Ethan would demand an
answer from her this time.
A car door
slammed outside and she ran to the window to see who it was. To her relief, Philip was coming through the
courtyard surrounding the pool. He
pushed open the door and immediately saw the tense expression on Brooke's face.
you okay?" he asked, pushing his black hair from his forehead and making
his way through the living room.
"You took off so fast and just left me with those two."
they follow you?"
shook his head. "What is going
on?" he asked. "You never told
me that you were running away. You just
told me that things didn't work out in L.A."
pace again, Brooke placed a hand on her stomach and wished she could start the
day all over again. Not go to work and
not have to deal with the Blackthornes.
"I didn't run away, I just got fed up with everyone bullying me all
the time." She paused and looked at
Philip with plaintiff eyes. "I was
so confused. I didn't know where else to
her hand in his and sat her down on the old worn out sofa. "I know, that's why I took you in and
said I'd help you. I still mean that
Brooke. These last few months have been
incredible. I feel like I finally have
something to look forward to. This baby
means everything to me. So do you."
with regret, Brooke pulled her hand away and tilted her head to the side. "But it's not your baby, Philip. And I never asked you to help me when it
comes. I still plan on taking my savings
and moving out as soon as I can. I've
burdened you enough already."
you haven't." He shook his head
adamantly. "And I don't care if
it's not my baby. I want you to stay
here. There's no reason you should
stood up in a hurry and threw her hands up in despair. "You don't know what you're
saying," she said. "We're not
together, Philip. You know that. This has just been an arrangement-"
slyly and followed her across the room.
"I know we're not together."
With a slow, easy movement he slid his hand over hers and pulled her
toward him. "But I can't help but
hope that things will change after the baby comes. You want a father for your baby, don't
she pulled away and shook her head insistently. “Philip, I don’t feel that way about you
anymore. I’ve told you that.”
to put his agenda aside for the moment.
The past few months of living with Brooke had reawakened old
feelings. He wanted her back and wanted
to be a family with her and the baby.
Nothing was going to stop that.
are you going to do?” he asked as if she owed him an explanation. “Are you going to tell the father? Are you going back to L.A.?”
Gwen led James down the ramp in
his wheelchair safely onto the tarmac of the airport in Phoenix. Miranda and Stormy were standing nearby, the
warm breeze gusting against them as they approached cautiously, both fearing
their father’s wrath.
“Daddy, I’m sorry about taking
the jet again,” Miranda began as they met up halfway.
James glared at her with
contempt. "We'll deal with that
later," he began, then cast his gaze on Stormy who appeared beside
Miranda. "Stormy," he said
with a cold nod of his head.
"Hi Dad," Stormy
replied glumly, his hands dug deeply in his pockets. He hated the way his father could revert him
to feeling like a nine-year-old boy all over again. "Listen, I'm sorry that I-"
James cut him off quickly. "We'll deal with that later, too." It
was no secret he was disappointed in his only son. Taking off five months ago without a word,
and then only managing a single phone call to check up on his family since
then. It wasn't the kind of morals he'd
instilled in his children and it made him see red. "I have someone meeting me here. She's found Brooke and she's taking me to
"We sort of ran into her
too," Miranda announced uneasily.
"At the mall. She
was…uh…working at the makeup counter."
James's expression was one of
shock and horror. "Damnit," he
whispered quietly to himself. How could
the woman who might be carrying his child be made to suffer working a menial
job when she was eight months pregnant?
He hated the very thought of it.
"She took off before we
could stop her," Stormy added.
Gwen began pushing James further
down the tarmac as a woman approached from the terminal. "Mr. Blackthorne?” she began and
extended her hand down to him. “I’m
Janet Harper. We spoke on the
“Miss Harper, you say you’ve
found Brooke?” James asked.
Stormy’s eyes immediately darted
to Janet’s and he backed up a step. He
knew her quite well. His travels during
Lauren’s tour led him to many places and introduced him to many people. Janet Harper, the nosiest reporter he’d met
in his entire life. Oh yes, he knew her
all right, and the look in her eyes told him she knew exactly who he was.
“I have a van waiting,” Janet
announced. “I’ll take you to her
now.” She was a stunningly exotic
looking woman of thirty-two with shoulder-length black hair and a voluptuous
figure. Large eyes and a porcelain
complexion made her one of the more ravishing women in her field.
“Let’s go,” James commanded. Gwen began pushing him in his chair with
Stormy and Miranda following close behind.
He couldn’t wait to find Brooke and demand an explanation. Soon all his answers would be satisfied.
Half an hour later, the doorbell
of Philip's apartment rang and Brooke cowered away from the door in fear. She looked at Philip and then back at the door,
knowing that her past had finally caught up with her.
“Brooke, open the door. It’s James.”
“Oh no,” she whispered to
herself. The fear immobilized her legs
and sent her heart pounding inside her chest.
Why was she so afraid to face him?
She’d been madly in love with him not that long ago. Parts of her still loved him so much. That was something that would never die.
But the idea that she was
carrying Ethan’s baby, conceived out of lust while she was supposed to be
married to James. It was too much to
handle. She couldn’t face him.
Philip approached the door and
opened it partially. “Brooke isn’t here.
I don’t know where she is.”
“Where the devil is she?” James
demanded from outside on the patio. He
sat in his chair with Janet, Stormy and Miranda close behind. “Why did you let her leave?”
“You have your children to thank
for that,” Philip argued. “They scared
her off. Now go back to L.A.
You’re not wanted here.”
“I don’t give a damn!” James
bellowed. “I came here to see
Brooke. Now I’m not leaving until I
do! If you don’t open the door I’ll
break it down!”
Philip chuckled slightly to
himself as if to say and how? He turned to Brooke who shook her head in
frustration. It was no use. They’d found her and it was too late. She had to face up to things now.
“Open it,” she said softly to
His eyes narrowed on her and he
shook his head in protest. “No, if I
open the door-“
“Open the door Philip!” she
yelled, tears streaming down her face.
Reluctantly he did as she wished
and pulled the door open. James wheeled
himself into the living room and stopped before Brooke. Her pale, tormented face and pregnant stomach
was enough to break his heart.
“Brooke, I’m sorry but I had to
come,” James said, resisting the instinct to push Philip Whitacre down and roll
over him a hundred times. He didn’t even
want to think of what that man had done to his Brooke in the time they’d been
The sight of James sitting in the
wheelchair, broken and fallen from his once high perch atop his family and
peers, was enough to send her into hysterics.
How could the powerful man she’d fallen in love with be reduced to a
cripple in a wheelchair? It was
“Look, if I did something to make
you want to leave then I’ll be forever sorry,” James said. “But damnit Brooke, you weren’t honest with
me. You carried on with Ethan and you
got pregnant.” He paused, trying to
gather his thoughts and to put things into perspective. He didn’t want to scare her off again. “The only thing I need to know is do you love
Ethan, and are you carrying his baby?”
She shook her head as a tear
streamed down her face. “How can you
come here and ask me if I love Ethan?” she demanded with hostility. “I didn’t just leave you, you know James. I left him too.
I left because you were both driving me crazy. I couldn’t handle the pressure anymore. The arguing, the suspicion, it was too
much. How could I have raised a baby under
“But you owe me the truth,” James
said. “Are you carrying my child? You owe me that much.”
“You don’t owe him anything,
Brooke,” Philip interjected. “Not a damn
“Mind your own business, friend!”
James yelled. “This doesn’t concern
Philip slammed his fist against
the wall and stormed over to James. “The
hell it doesn’t!” he said. “Brooke came
to me for help. I’m the one who’s been
here for her all this time. The doctor's
appointments, the checkups, the shopping for baby furniture. This is more my business than yours so why don’t you get the hell out of here!”
“That could be my baby she’s
carrying, God damn you!” James bellowed.
“You have no right to talk to me that way!”
“I’ll talk to you any way I
want!” Philip argued.
“Stop it!” Brooke screamed, her
face flush with tears and torment. “Stop
it! Both of you! This doesn’t concern either one of you! This is my
baby! My baby! The only person responsible for it is me! “
James immediately sought to
console her. “Brooke, I’m sorry. God knows I didn’t mean to upset you. You just have no idea what it’s been like. Not knowing where you were all this
time. Going into surgery and not knowing
if I’d come out of it, or if I did if I’d ever see you again. Not knowing if I’d ever get a chance to see
my own child.”
Trembling, Brooke wrapped her
arms around herself and backed up a step.
She hadn’t realized how terrible things had been for James. All she’d done was think about herself and
her own problems. Here James was
fighting for his life. And now sitting
in that chair, barely hanging onto a life that he once had. What kind of person was she for denying him
“Brooke, I still love you with
all my heart,” James said, staring into her eyes and trying to get through to
her. “Remember how happy we were on our
wedding day? After so long we were
finally going to be together. Nothing
was standing in our way. But things
happened and kept us apart. So many
things. But look at everything we’ve
come through, Brooke. We’ve survived so
much. We can make it through anything if
you’ll just give us the chance.”
More confused than ever, Brooke
turned and wiped her eyes. She couldn’t
let her sympathy for James influence a decision as important as this one. If she went back with him, it would all
start over again. The distrust, the
double-dealings, the pain. She didn’t
want her baby to go through that.
“Brooke, we can have it all,”
Finally she turned to him and
took a deep breath. “I’m sorry you came
all this way, James,” she said. “But I’m
going to raise this baby on my own.
Without your help, without Ethan’s help, and without Philip’s help.”
“No-“ James gasped. Stormy and Miranda watched in great
“I’m sorry.” Brooke said before turning and walking back
into the bedroom.
James watched with defeat. He’d tried and he’d failed.
back in Hollywood, Heather finished dressing and
looked down at Will lying asleep in his bed.
She gritted her teeth and made her way down the stairs to his study.
way through the dark, she turned on the desk lamp and surveyed the stacks of
papers strewn about. Biding her time,
she rummaged through script pages and budget reports until she came to the copy
of The Murderess script.
determined sigh, she tucked it under her arm before switching the light off and
making her way out to the front door.
It was well
after ten when the Sunset Studios jet
returned to L.A and the limo driver brought James, Gwen, Miranda and Stormy
home in deadly silence. Stormy fidgeted
nervously with his hands, afraid to speak for fear that his father would take
his anger and resentment out on him.
Not that he
could blame him, however. Even Miranda,
who had taken the throne as queen of selfishness over the years, couldn't
compare to his behavior. It would take a
long time for him to make this up to his father. Leaving town when his
entire family fell apart didn't go over well, especially
with the Blackthornes.
that Janet Harper had surfaced in Phoenix and just happened to have had a
lead on Brooke’s whereabouts was suspicious to say the least. What were the odds that he would run into her
in Denver just when things were going sour
with Lauren, and then again in Phoenix?
She was definitely up to something.
He had a feeling that wasn’t the last time he’d run into Miss Harper.
got James into his chair and wheeled him into the house, Stormy tried to break
the ice with his father. “Look Dad, I
think we should talk-“
late,” James insisted, barely looking at Stormy. “We’ve all been through a lot today. I’m going upstairs.” He motioned to Gwen and rolled across the
too,” Miranda said, stifling a yawn. She
turned to Stormy and gave him a pat on the shoulder. She knew he was feeling badly and didn’t want
to pour salt on the wound so she offered him a friendly smile. “It’s good to have you home.”
managed a smile and watched his sister go up the stairs. His eyes traveled up to the landing where Brett was standing waiting for
Miranda. Resentment built up immediately
as he sensed that his unscrupulous brother-in-law had made quite a comfortable
spot for himself in the Blackthorne mansion while he was gone. He no doubt had Miranda snowed, and quite
possibly his father too.
couldn’t forget the evil things Brett had done.
Blackmailing Lauren into having sex with him, and then telling Heather
about his affair out of spite. They’d
been friends up until then. Then
everything blew up. But he was on to
Brett Armstrong, and he was determined to make everyone else see him for who he
home, Stormy,” Brett said with a smarmy grin as he put his arm around Miranda
and led her down the hall to their bedroom.
to contain his anger, Stormy picked up his duffel bag and started up the stairs
to his old bedroom. It felt strange not
going back to his house in the Valley, but since he and Heather were no longer,
he’d have to take up residence at the mansion again.
way down the hallway, he stopped when he heard a bedroom door open behind
him. He turned and saw Heather emerge
from her bedroom. He gulped, swallowing
hard at the sight of his wife living several rooms down from him. Miranda had told him she was living there,
but it didn’t seem real until he saw her with his own eyes. What on earth was he going to say to her? What words were going to make everything all
stood frozen for a split second. Seeing
Stormy again after all this time was enough to knock her off her feet. She knew he’d come home eventually, but now
that he had, it was harder than she’d thought.
look in Heather’s eyes gave Stormy the chills.
She made her way down the stairs to the kitchen and didn’t give him a
second look. Sighing heavily, Stormy
kicked open his door and threw his duffel bag inside.
home,” he mumbled to himself and flung himself onto his old bed.
changed into her nightgown and walked into the room where Brett was sprawled
out on the bed with a scowl on his face.
She frowned, immediately knowing what he was going to say.
believe you flew to Phoenix without even telling me,” he
said. “Am I your husband or am I your
her eyes neatly on him and took off her necklace and earrings. “Aren’t you being a little dramatic?” she
asked. “I wasn’t even gone a whole day. What’s eating you, anyway? Does this have anything to do with Stormy
perceptive nature was always a surprise.
“Why would I care that Stormy’s back?” he asked and sat up on the bed. The fact that Stormy could blow him out of
the water was of great concern to him actually.
He was the one person who knew his trickery before he and Lauren left on
tour together. He could convince Miranda
that he was not to be trusted and then he’d be out the door. No more big mansion to live in, no more fancy
clothes and car, no more heading up Sunset
Studios while James was incapacitated.
before he left the two of you had a pretty big falling out,” Miranda claimed as
she sat down at her vanity and began tissuing thick cold cream to her
face. “You know, I still don’t
understand what got the two of you so off track. I mean, you were practically like
brothers. I know it was because of
Lauren but what I don’t know is-“
exactly what it was,” Brett insisted, standing up and pacing the room. He had to do some damage control before it
was too late. “Miranda, the truth is
that I was Lauren’s manager, and Stormy was jealous of that fact because of
their affair. He was threatened by me.”
at him and nodded. “That sounds like
Stormy. I mean, that whole contrived
story he came up with about you blackmailing Lauren into sleeping with
you. How desperate he must have been.”
Brett said eagerly, hoping that his wife would stay on his side.
his marriage was a shambles, he was cheating on his wife, so naturally he blamed
you for the whole thing. Really it
doesn’t surprise me. Family shouldn’t
work together. It never works out.”
have to tell me twice,” Brett said with a smile, satisfied that his past
indiscretions would remain a secret.
Even if Stormy brought it up again, who would listen now? He’d deserted his family and would have to
scratch and claw his way back into their good graces. Yes, he was on top of the world, and Stormy
was outside looking in.
“So I was
thinking about the house,” Miranda said, turning around and looking at him with
excitement. “I know you were angry when
I said I wanted to stay here instead of moving in to our own place. But I just wanted to be here for Daddy after
the surgery. He needed me, Brett.”
sat down on the bed and ruffled his blond hair in his hand. “Yeah, and I went along with it because it’s
what you wanted.”
“Well I was
thinking now that Stormy’s back, and Gwen’s been doing such a good job with
Daddy, that maybe we can go ahead and move into our house now,” Miranda said,
the enthusiasm evident in her voice.
She walked over to him and put her arms around his neck, straddling him
on the bed. “Think about it. We’ll have our own place with all kinds of
privacy. We can do anything we
want. No one else around.”
thoughts began flying in a thousand directions.
“Now?” he asked. “Don’t you think
your father needs you here?”
her head and kissed him on the cheek.
“No, I think Daddy’s doing okay.
He has lots of people here who can look after him.”
lose his position in the house, and his relationship with Gwen, Brett decided
to do some quick thinking. “Miranda, I
didn’t want to tell you this before, but your father told me just the other day
that he didn’t think he could do it without you. He said that having you around every day
gives him the strength and the courage to keep on with his therapy. If it wasn’t for you, I’m afraid he’d give up
completely. And now that Brooke isn’t
trailed off in a daze and considered the new information. She couldn’t very well leave her father in
his time of need. And if he needed her
as much as Brett said he did, she’d be abandoning him. And God knows enough people had abandoned him
was just an idea,” she said. “I don’t
mind staying here if you don’t. I just
don’t want things to get too nasty with you and Stormy.”
smiled and pulled her into an embrace.
“I can handle Stormy,” he said.
“Your father needs you now.
That’s the most important thing.”
It was well
after midnight when Miranda had fallen asleep and Brett made his way down
the hall to Gwen’s room. They lay naked
in each other’s arms, the glow of candlelight illuminating the soft lines of
Gwen’s face. Her hair cascaded down over
her shoulders and she wore just the right amount of makeup to take the edge off
her dowdy, frumpy appearance that everyone else saw during the day. At night, when they were alone, a very
sensuous, delicate woman appeared.
wonderful lover,” she said, stroking her hand down Brett’s bare chest,
exploring the ridges of his muscles and the soft feel of his skin on hers. “I’m so glad you could get away tonight. I
really needed you, Brett.”
his thoughts elsewhere. Slowly he sat up
on the bed and reached into the pocket of his Italian silk robe, removing the
bottle of pills he’d bought that afternoon. It was showtime, and he'd
have to pull off the biggest con job of them all.
really worried about James,” he began, choosing his words carefully so as not to
arouse suspicion. “I really feel like
this incident with Brooke is going to set him back quite a bit.”
“How do you
mean?” Gwen asked, raising herself up on her elbow. “He’s been doing pretty good with his
smiled and turned toward her. “Miranda
said he was so upset when they left Phoenix.
I’m afraid he might do something drastic.”
the prospect, Gwen sat up and looked into Brett’s eyes. “Brett, what are you saying?”
want to make sure that he keeps up his spirits.
A thing like this can do all kinds of damage to his psyche. I think he needs some help but he’s not going
to ask because he’s too proud.”
we do?” Gwen asked with genuine concern.
lifted the bottle of pills and handed them to her. “These are a mild mood enhancer,” he said. “They’re a hundred percent herbal so there’s
no risk of side effects or anything. I
just think that he would benefit from taking them, that’s all.”
you get them?” Gwen asked with a frown as she examined the bottle.
“Oh, well I’ve taken them for years,” he
liked. Lying was second nature to Brett and he wasn't afraid to admit
it...to himself.. “I get them from a
nutritionist. They’re the best thing
that’s ever happened to me. I don’t know
what I’d do without them. My outlook on
life has been so much better since I’ve been taking them.”
Gwen began to hand them back to Brett.
“I’ve never had much faith in those herbal remedies,” she said.
suicidal,” Brett said quickly, realizing he had to think of something
fast. Maybe he needed to lay it on a little thicker. “I was on the verge of a total
breakdown before I started taking them.
Just imagine if James gets to that point. I for one don’t want to take anything for
granted. If anything happened to him, I
could never forgive myself.”
studied Brett’s eyes and saw the compassion he felt for James. She nodded her head, knowing what she had to
do. “Okay,” she said, placing the pills
on the nightstand beside her bed.
“You’re right. I don’t want
anything to happen to Mr. Blackthorne.”
smiled, pushing a lock of hair from Gwen’s face as he leaned in to kiss her.
He realized he should have went into acting.
while later, Brett crept into the hallway to return to his and Miranda’s room
down the hall. He tiptoed through the
dimly lit corridor and stopped with a jolt when he ran directly into Heather.
scared me to death,” he whispered. “What are
you doing up? It’s past one in the
reached into her nightgown and removed the script she’d taken from Will
Thomerson’s study. “I got the script,”
she said in a hushed whisper. “I made a
copy and put the original back so he won’t know I took it.”
grinned and leafed through the copy of The
Murderess. “Good work,” he said
with a flourish. “You work fast. Faster than last time. Incidentally, Will and Ethan don’t know
you were the one who took the Blood and Oil script, do they?”
“No, and I
don’t want them to,” Heather replied. “I
don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want
my shot in the business. And you said
you’d help me.”
Brett said, studying the title page of the script. “I promised you a role in the next film and I
“I hope so,
because Will said he’d put me in a film.
I’d just rather work with Sunset
Studios if I had my choice.”
laughed heartily. “Will Thomerson
doesn’t help anyone but himself,” he said, shaking his head back and
forth. “Don’t believe anything he says.”
“So when do
I find out what role I’m getting?”
time,” Brett insisted. “Just relax,
she demanded, trying to keep her voice down so as not to awaken the full
house. “Don’t tell me to relax. I feel like a prostitute, Brett. Sleeping with Will Thomerson so I can steal
movie options from them? Do you know how
low that is?”
one said this business was easy,” Brett said, placing a hand under her chin and
lifting it gently. “And if you feel like
a prostitute then you have nobody to blame but yourself.”
he walked down the hall and crept into his bedroom where Miranda was fast
The next morning, Ethan showed up
at the Blackthorne mansion with an uptight frown on his tanned face. He entered the foyer just as James wheeled
out from his study.
are you doing here?" James asked with a ferocious scowl. "I thought I made myself clear that
you're not a part of this family anymore."
to be unaffected by his Uncle's harsh words, Ethan stepped further into the
room and took a deep breath. "I
came because I heard that you found Brooke," he said, tight-lipped.
James asked angrily.
you the father of her baby?" Ethan asked, preparing himself for the bad news.
he is," said a voice from behind.
turned around quickly, startled by the sight of Brooke standing inside the
front door, dressed in a dark cotton suit and a suitcase in her hand. Ethan felt his heart jump and he quickly
rushed toward her.
James began, a wave of excitement rushing over him. He couldn't believe that she was there. After leaving her in Phoenix, he thought he'd never see her
smiled and walked purposefully toward James.
"I did some thinking after you left," she began. "I know I was wrong to leave and to deny
you being a part of your baby's life."
eyes widened while Ethan cowered away with disappointment.
is your baby, James," she continued.
She had to lie to him. Miranda had said that he was barely holding
on to hope. If she could give him a
family then maybe he'd have the motivation to keep pushing himself until he
could finally walk again. This was her way of ensuring that would happen.
She owed him.
you sure?" Ethan asked.
nodded. The hoax she was perpetuating
was a small sacrifice. After what
happened with Winter Austen, she had no intention of going back to Ethan. Every time they got together something
horrible happened. It just wasn't meant
to be. She needed to be with James who
needed her so much. Her feelings for Ethan would have to be forgotten.
about us?" James asked, his tone full of hope.
out her hand to him and wiped a tear from her eye. "I want to be with you more than
anything," she said and bent down to kiss him.
God," James said, wrapping his arms around her and covering her face with
either of them noticed, Ethan had turned and made his way back out the front
door. He slipped quietly to his car and
drove away, silently dealing with the final outcome of the long, painful wait. He'd lost Brooke to James. Maybe it was meant to be.
down the stairs and reluctantly interrupted the reunion between James and
Brooke. She held a glass of water and a
pill in her hand, approaching with a timid smile. "Mr. Blackthorne, it's time for your
medication," she said, handing him the large white pill.
pills," James said with a sigh and swallowed it down with a gulp of water.
as long as you get better soon," Brooke said with a smile and caressed the
side of his face. She hated seeing him
confined to a wheelchair. Her heart
broke for him, and with any luck her coming back to him would give him the
spirit to get up and walk again.
the landing, Brett watched James take the pill.
He nodded with a calculating smile, satisfied that his plan to keep
James incapacitated was going to work.
He would retain his position as head of Sunset Studios at any cost.
finds himself frustrated by how indispensable Brett
has become to the family. James and Brooke
announce plans to remarry. Heather demands
that Brett hold up his end of their bargain. Will
sees red when he learns that Sunset Studios
gained the rights to The Murderess. Someone
is following Brooke. Stormy and Heather get the
closure they need.