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Episode 26

 

Release Date:  June 16, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

With the help of Janet Harper, James learned that Brooke had been living with Philip Whitacre in Phoenix for the past five months.  Brooke insisted that their relationship was plutonic, but refused to return to Hollywood with James.  Brett purchased drugs from a pusher and maniuplated Gwen into administering them to James in an effort to keep him in a paralyzed state so that he could continue running Sunset Studios.  Stormy returned home and became aggravated that Brett was running things at the studio.  Heather used her relationship with Will to steal viable movie scripts from him for Sunset Studios.  In exchange, Brett promised to give her a starring role in The Murderess.  Brooke reconsidered and returned home, lying to an elated James that her baby was in fact his son. Ethan became devestated after hearing the news.  

 


 

Episode 26

"Hiding in Shadows"

 

Leilani was busy serving breakfast in the dining room, setting up a buffet of eggs benedict, bacon, sausage and toast, and pouring glasses of coffee and orange juice for the Blackthornes as they trickled into the room.

"You're not eating much, Darling," James said to Brooke as she nibbled at a piece of dry toast and washed it down with a sip of juice.  "Are you feeling okay this morning?"

Brooke nodded beamingly, gazing across the table at James who sat in his wheelchair next to Miranda.  "I'm fine.  Just not very hungry I guess."  She leaned back in her chair and placed a hand on her pregnant stomach.  "The baby is kicking like crazy this morning."

"Leilani, maybe you could bring Brooke a bagel," Miranda said with calculated certainty.  "Isn't that what Philip brought you the other day at the department store?"

Quickly, Brooke turned to Miranda and flushed with resentment.  She knew Miranda was trying to provoke an argument with her and James.  The fact that she'd lived with Philip in Phoenix was a sore subject and Miranda knew it.  It appeared that the young woman hadn't changed at all.  Still taking jabs and manipulating petty dramas at every turn.

"The toast is fine, Leilani," she said with a vague smile, then met with James's gaze to determine his reaction.   To her relief he didn't seem too affected by the mention of Philip’s name.

Heather entered the room silently and sat down next to Brooke while Leilani poured her a cup of coffee.  "Thank you," she said politely and brought the cup up to her lips.

"Good morning, Heather," James said, wishing to break the tension that Miranda had set into motion.   He couldn’t blame his daughter.  She’d been overly protective of him since his operation, and one of the only members of his family who’d stuck by him.

"Good morning," Heather said, then looked at Brooke with a smile.   "It's nice to have you back, Brooke.  How’s the baby?"

"Thank you, Heather," Brooke said happily and lowered her eyes to her stomach.  "The baby's doing fine.  He or she should be here in a couple weeks."  Her words came out methodically.  Being back in the house seemed so strange to her.  She couldn't relax or be herself.  But strangely, she knew that being there was right.

"It'll be something to have a baby in the house again," James said, then turned to the buffet.  "Won't it, Leilani?"

"Yes Mr. Blackthorne," she said dutifully and poured him another glass of juice.  "It's been quite a while since we had a little one around.”

Sickened by how everyone seemed to be treating Brooke as though nothing had happened, Miranda rolled her eyes and stuffed a forkful of food in her mouth to keep herself from going off at the hilt.

Blackthorne Mansion

Outside in the foyer, Brett came down the stairs and headed for the dining room just as Stormy emerged from the gym down the hall.  They met up and squared off with a rigid stare, as if challenging the other to deliver the first blow.

Reluctantly, they both backed off and wordlessly entered the dining room where the rest of the family was gathered.  Miranda looked at Brett and smiled happily, gesturing to the empty chair next to her.

“Good morning everyone,” Brett said while straightening his tie.  He sat down and pushed his coffee cup toward Leilani who stood by with a freshly brewed carafe.   “Brooke, it’s wonderful to see you in the house again.   Welcome home.”

“Thank you Brett,” Brooke said with a pleased glimmer in her blue eyes.

Stormy sidled uneasily into his seat across from his father and glowered at Brett from his vantage point.  He’s really snowed everyone good, he thought to himself.  The man of the house since he’d been away.  His own father, who heavily questioned Miranda’s decision to marry him last year, was his number one fan.  It was wrong in so many ways.

“Well Stormy,” James began with a stern scowl on his face.  “What do you intend to do now that you’re back?”

Uncomfortable at being put on the spot, Stormy nursed his juice and looked warily around the table.  “I’m not sure yet,” he said.  “I’m going to explore my options and take it from there.”

Brett scoffed under his breath and placed his elbows firmly on the table.  “What options are those, Stormy?” he asked spitefully.  Good Times Records is no more.  Are you thinking of starting up another recording studio?  Oh, wait, I guess you’d need capitol to do that.  Maybe you can work for your mother and Jordan.  Rydell Productions is in a bit of a slump but I’m sure they’ll get out of it sooner or later.”

Stormy clenched his fists angrily.  He knew that his brother-in-law was taking jabs at his expense, in front of his father and sister just to make him look bad.  Well it wasn’t going to work.  He would show them all what kind of man Brett really was.

“By the way,” Brett continued and removed a script from his briefcase.  “James, I have a new script that I’m sure is going to be worth a look at.”

“Let’s see it, Son,” James said and reached across the table for the bundle of pages.

The exchange made Stormy see red and he could hardly control his anger.  His father was calling Brett son?  That was the last straw.  He was his father’s only son, and that’s the way it was going to stay.

The Murderess,” James read from the title page.   “Is it any good?”

Brett nodded and grinned mischievously across the table at Heather.  “It’s excellent,” he said.  “I’d like to start optioning it right away.  With your approval of course.”

After a second or two, James handed the script back to him.  “I trust you.  Go with it if you think it’s going to be a hit.”

Exhilaration coursed through his veins as Brett took the script and placed it back in his briefcase.  He loved the fact that James had instilled such faith in him.  And it was about time he got some respect.  Soon everyone would know that he was a force to be reckoned with.

James took Brooke’s hand and squeezed it tightly, beaming from ear to ear as he scanned the length of the table.  “Now that we’re all here, there’s something I’d like to announce to everyone,” he began.  “Since Brooke is back, and the baby will be here soon, we’ve decided to get remarried.”

Brooke smiled happily and leaned over to kiss his cheek. 

Miranda practically choked on her food, coughing sickly as she quickly brought her napkin to her mouth.  She couldn’t believe her ears.  Not only had her father taken that witch back and forgiven her for being a slut, but now he was going to marry her again.  Will he ever learn?

“That’s wonderful, Dad,” Stormy said, realizing this was his opportunity to try to get back into his good graces.  “I’m very happy for both of you.  Brooke, welcome to the family.”

“Thank you,” she replied fervently, barely able to contain her happiness.  She was sure this was where she belonged.  She and James had been so in love at one time, and now was their chance to recapture that love.  And with any luck, her being there would prove beneficial to his recovery.

“When’s the big day?” Heather asked.  She tried to dodge Stormy’s biting stare, wondering what he was thinking and how he felt about her being there.

“In a couple of days,” James replied.  “We want to make sure we’re married by the time this beautiful baby comes.”

“The sooner the better,” Brooke said and kissed him again.

Miranda folded her arms and pushed herself back in her chair.  Brett clasped her hand and stopped her from storming off, as he knew she would.   She sighed and reluctantly remained seated, forced to celebrate the engagement that was doomed as much now as it was the last time.

Just then, Gwen entered the dining room dressed in a plain gray skirt and drab brown cardigan sweater.  Her long ash blond hair was pinned up onto her head and she wore no makeup.  Her eyes flickered past Brett and she felt a surge of excitement run through her body.   Quickly, she stifled any tell-tale signals that could be detected by the family and made her way over to James where she produced a paper cup full of pills.

“Time for your medication, Mr. Blackthorne,” she said and set the cup on the table in front of him.  “Shall I get the gym ready for your therapy?”

James groaned and rolled his eyes away from her.  “Oh Jesus, here we go again,” he moaned.

“Daddy, stop it,” Miranda said sternly.  “Stop giving Gwen such a hard time or she’ll leave us.  Then where will that leave you?”

“In a much better place, that’s where,” James deadpanned as he began swallowing the pills with his juice.

Brett watched him intently, certain that the muscle relaxers he’d given Gwen would do the trick in keeping James dependent on his wheelchair.   And as long as he was unable to get around on his own, Sunset Studios would be his own. 

“Are you ready?” Gwen asked as she moved behind his chair.

“No,” James said bitterly.  "I want to spend the day with my fiancé."

“Darling, you should go,” Brooke said.  “I have some planning to do for the wedding.  I’ll see you later, okay?”

He nodded glumly and kissed her before Gwen wheeled him out of the dining room and down the hall to the gym.   After he’d gone, Brett stood up and grabbed his briefcase tightly in his hand.

“Well, I’d better get off to the studio,” he said evenly, then kissed Miranda.  “I’ll see you tonight, Babe.”

“Don’t be too late,” Miranda said with a smile as he made his way out of the room.

After he’d gone, Heather quickly stood up and excused herself.  “I’d better get going too,” she said.  “I’ll see everyone later.”

Stormy stood up and stopped her from leaving. “Heather, we need to talk,” he said, pulling her aside just outside the room.

She shook her head in protest.  “We have nothing to talk about, Stormy,” she said coldly and pulled her arm away.  With that, she turned and trotted across the foyer to the front door.

Once outside, she spotted Brett getting into his black Italian sports car and called after him.  “Hold on a minute,” she said, preventing him from getting into the seat.  “Don't think you can just sneak off that easily.”

“Heather, I’m late,” he began with an irritated sigh.  “Can’t this wait until tonight?”

“No, it can’t,” she insisted with hostility evident in her voice.  The cool breeze whipped through her hair and she pushed it from her eyes as she glared at him heatedly.  “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m the one who got you that script that got you all that praise from James just now.  And I don’t think I have to remind you the lengths I had to go to to get it.  Now you owe me and you owe me big.  You promised me a part in the movie.  I want it.  In writing.  Unless you want me to go to Will Thomerson and tell him who’s been stealing movie deals out from under him.”

Brett leaned against the car and folded his arms with a cocky smile.  “You’re certainly full of surprises,” he said.  “Who would have thought that Heather Blackthorne would show some spunk and resort to blackmail?”

“All I want is what I have coming to me,” she said, her tone full of warning.  “And this time I damn well intend to get it.”

Brett raised an eyebrow and watched as Heather turned and started down the driveway to her car.

Jordan's House

Alex Reynolds positioned herself against the thick cushions of the luxurious sofa at her and Jordan’s home in Beverly Hills.  She nodded to the butler as he left a tray of caviar and champagne and then exited the room, closing the heavy wood doors behind him.

“Such elaborate hors d’ oeuvres for this time of the day,” Marilee Wells-Walker said as she leaned forward and scooped a giant heaping of caviar onto her toast points.  “I’m beginning to think my help isn’t needed in your new venture, Alex.  If you can afford this kind of luxury-“

“Call it a celebration,” Alex cut her off with a sly grin as she tipped her champagne flute to her full lips.  “A taste of things to come once we get our new company off the ground.  The caviar is Sevruga, by the way.  I only eat Sevruga caviar.  I like the best in everything.”

“I know you do,” Marilee said with a grin.  “After all, Jordan Rydell is quite a good catch.  Dare I say a step up even from James Blackthorne.  Both such handsome, virile men.”

“Your horns are showing, Marilee,” Alex joked.  She had to admire her peer for her determination.  She was a beautiful woman and had amassed a great fortune and a long line of husbands.   The latest was Seth Walker, a young congressman who spent his days at City Hall and his nights trying to please an insatiable Marilee.   "What would Seth say if he heard you talking that way about another man?"

Marilee laughed heartily, pushing a lock of wispy blond hair from her face and picking up her glass of champagne.  “Only kidding, Dear,” she said, then continued in an offhanded fashion.  “Speaking of James, did you hear that he went to Phoenix and brought Brooke Taylor back with him?   Rumor has it they’re planning on remarrying.”

Alex sighed and sat forward, crossing her legs.  “Yes, I have heard that,” she said.  “I only hope James knows what he’s getting into this time.  That woman caused him nothing but heartache the last time she was in his life.”

“Anyway, let’s get down to business,” Marilee continued, shifting topics with gleeful abandon.  “What's the next phase of our business plan?"

"I've applied for the drilling permits," Alex explained.  "It's just a formality, mind you.  That land in Colorado is worthless other than the fact that there's a fortune in natural gas underneath of it."

"So no concern of environmentalists getting in your way?"

"The way I look at it, I'll be doing the nation a favor by setting up this pipeline," Alex said eagerly as she nibbled at the delicacy.  "Who could argue with me exploring for energy sources?"

"There's always somebody," Marilee deadpanned and then broke out into laughter.

The parlor doors opened and the butler entered swiftly.  "Miss Reynolds, your son is here to see you," Gordon said with just the right amount of uniformity.  "Shall I show him in?"

Alex's face lit up and she quickly rose to her feet.  "Absolutely," she said, thrilled that Stormy had finally returned to L.A.  "Marilee, do you mind if we continue this later?"

"Not at all, Alex," she relied, standing up and grabbing her Chanel bag from the sofa.  "Call me tomorrow and we'll go over those bids from construction companies to handle the pipeline."

"Of course," Alex said as Marilee left the room just as Stormy entered.  "Darling!  I'm so happy to see you!"  She ran over and threw her arms around him ecstatically.

"Hi Mom," Stormy gushed, standing back so he could look at her.  "Marriage seems to agree with you.  You look incredible."

"Don't give my marriage credit for that."  She grinned and walked across the room to the desk where she lit a cigarette and gestured to the sofa.  "Sit down, Darling.  Would you like some caviar?"

He sat down and shook his head.  "Where's Jordan?" he asked.

"At the studio," Alex replied and sat down next to him.  "Stormy, I want you to know that I've tried to talk him out of this vendetta he has against you, but I’m not sure how much good it's done.   He's still pretty angry about what happened between you and Heather."

"I'm not surprised," Stormy sighed.  "Heather won't even talk to me.  We have to settle things between us but how can we when she's still so hostile?"

"I heard about Good Times Records.  I'm so sorry that things didn't go as you planned on the tour."   Alex took a drag of her cigarette and considered telling her son the truth - that she had been the one to pull the sponsors for the tour.  She immediately thought better of it.  How was she to have known that it would cost him his lifelong dream?  No, he would never forgive her if he knew she had been the person behind his troubles.  But all she wanted was for him to come home and forget about that trampy singer.

"Maybe it's for the best," Stormy said with a shrug.  "I was barely able to keep it afloat anyway.  The competition is so fierce.  I think it happened for a reason."

"What are you going to do now?" Alex asked.

He sighed and stood up from the sofa, beginning to pace around the room.  "I don't know," he said.  "Everything's so up in the air.  Dad still won't talk to me, Brett is walking around acting like he owns the house and the studio, and Heather's room is two doors down from me.  I feel like I'm a guest in my own house."

"Why don't you come live here?" Alex asked, her tone full of excitement.

Stormy frowned.  "Here?  Yeah, I'm sure Jordan would love that."

"He'll get used to it."

"No, I need to stay at the house. I just need to smooth some things out.  It won't be easy but I might have to suck it up for a while."

Alex crossed her legs and stubbed out her cigarette.  "And that tramp is back living in the house, I hear," she said.  "Honestly, I don't know what your father is thinking.  Hasn't he learned anything from the past?"

"She's having his baby," Stormy said.  "She's through with Ethan and it looks like they're going to be getting remarried in a few days."

Alex couldn't help but feel pangs of jealousy.  Parts of her still yearned for her ex-husband.  They'd come a long way since their bitter divorce, and were finally at a point in their lives where they could be friends.  It hurt her to see him with someone else - especially Brooke Taylor.  The fact that he was having a child with another woman was a hard thing to accept.

Will's House

Heather steered through the gates of Will Thomerson's estate and parked in the long driveway.  She got out and went inside where the butler greeted her and took her coat.  She made her way into the study where Will Thomerson was busy with a stack of paperwork and his nose buried in a laptop.

"Hello Princess," he said with a smile and got up to greet her.  “You look very pretty today.”

Heather offered a faint smile as he put his arm around her and led her to the cognac leather sofa across the room.   She wanted to make her visit quick and to the point.  She had to end it with Will, and the sooner the better.  Being with him for the past few months had made her feel like she was nothing more than a whole.  Sleeping with a movie producer to get a part in a movie was one thing, but sleeping with him to steal movie deals out from under him was far worse. 

But now she’d given Brett what he needed to outdo Jaguar Studios, and she was free to end it with Will for good.  The payoff would be when Brett cast her in the lead role in The Murderess.  Then everything would be worth the sacrifices she’d made. 

“I wanted to talk to you about something,” she began, pushing her long brown hair from her face.  “The thing is-“

“Oh I almost forgot,” Will cut her off and dashed across the room to his desk where he pulled open a drawer and removed a long velvet jewelry box.  “I have something for you.”

Heather’s eyes traveled to the tell-tale box and all the color drained from her youthful face.  She knew what this was and it wasn’t going to make what she had to do any easier.  “I need to tell you something first, Will, I-“

“We can talk later,” Will insisted and shoved the box at her.  “I wanted to give you something as beautiful as you are.  Of course there wasn’t anything so I hope this will do.”

Reluctantly she opened the lid and gazed at the shimmering diamond necklace encrusted with nickel-sized rubies.  Her eyes widened in disbelief at the elaborate gift from a man she didn’t love and had no intention of staying with.  The guilt was beginning to eat away at her and she couldn’t bare it. 

“Do you like it?” Will asked as he lifted the necklace from the box and fastened it around her delicate neck.  “I know it’s a little fancy for your tastes but I thought you could wear it to my party next week.”

Heather touched the luxurious stones with the tips of her fingers and felt a rush of air escape her lungs.  She had never owned anything so beautiful in her whole life.  It was like a dream.

“It’s wonderful,” she said, feeling her eyes stinging with tears.  How was she going to tell him it was over now?  Of course she couldn’t keep the gift, but the very thought of handing it back to him with those fateful words was enough to label her a first class bitch.

The moment was interrupted when Ethan entered the room and stared in awe at the beaming jewels around Heather’s neck.  A scowl appeared on his face and he marched mercilessly into the study.

“Ethan, I’m glad you’re here,” Will said and looked up at the young man.  “What do you think of my gift for Heather?  Does it even compare to her flawless beauty?”

“I think it’s a little early for Christmas,” Ethan said sarcastically and quickly changed the subject.  “Will, I have some bad news-“

He stood up and walked over to the desk.  “What is it?  Oh, by the way, have you made any progress on getting the rights to The Murderess?  I have a great feeling about this film.  I want to start production as soon as possible.  I’m even thinking of casting a very special young lady in the leading role.”  He gave a quick glance toward Heather and winked slyly.

Heather’s eyes flashed open in surprise.  She never thought Will would actually give her a role in a movie.  It always seemed like a bunch of talk.  Promises so that she’d keep his bed warm at night. 

“They optioned it to another studio,” Ethan announced with some regret.  “They bid too high and too early for me to do anything about it.”

Will’s eyes narrowed on him.  “So beat the bid,” he said plainly.  “If money is the problem then-“

“It’s too late,” Ethan continued.  “As of about an hour ago, Sunset Studios gained the option rights to The Murderess.  I’m sorry, Will.”

Eyes flaring and teeth clenched, Will balled his fists at his sides and started pacing back and forth.  “How could this have happened?” he demanded.  “We were the only studio looking into that script!  How could James Blackthorne have swindled it right out from under me?  How did he even know we were planning on buying it?"

Ethan’s eyes darted toward Heather, who quickly looked away and continued caressing the ornate necklace.   “I don’t know,” he said slowly. 

“Fist they took Blood & Oil and now The Murderess!” Will continued in a tirade.   “I don’t understand it!”

“Look, I have my eye on some other projects-“

“No, forget that!” Will insisted as he bounded toward the doors.  “I’m going to find out just what the hell James Blackthorne is up to!  I’ll be damned if I’m going to go down after everything that man’s done to me!”

After he raced from the room, Ethan turned to Heather and approached her swiftly, his eyes narrowing coldly on her.   She got up and started to move past him but he stepped in her path and flashed her a look full of warning.  “Where do you think you’re going?”

She winced uneasily.  “I’m going to make sure he doesn’t do anything drastic.”

“I have a better idea,” Ethan began.  “Why don’t you tell me what the hell you’re up to?”

She frowned and turned away from him.  “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the fact that you’ve been spying for Sunset Studios.”

What?”

But Ethan wouldn’t let her brush it off so easily.  “I had an idea you were up to something when you started sleeping with Will,” he began.  “And when Blood & Oil wound up in Brett’s hands I was a little more sure you were up to something.  But now after this I’m positive.   You’re working both sides of the fence, aren’t you?”

Heather started to walk away when Ethan grabbed her and pulled her back. 

Aren’t you?” he demanded angrily.

“Just leave me alone!” Heather screamed and darted out of the room, leaving Ethan behind with a bewildered look on his face.

Brooke stood in front of the dressing mirror at a boutique in Beverly Hills, admiring the white satin maternity dress she’d selected for her and James’s wedding.  The attendant took a few measurements and pinned the dress at the bottom while Brooke beamed happily about her upcoming wedding.   It would be different this time, she thought to herself.  This time she was determined to make things work with James.  He loved her more than anything, and as far as she was concerned the baby she was carrying was his.  Her brief fling with Ethan was a mistake and she was determined not to let it ruin the rest of her life.  No matter what her true feelings were.

“Can you have it ready by Saturday?” Brooke asked as she stepped down from the platform.

“Of course, Miss Taylor,” said the attendant.  “I’ll let you get dressed and I’ll meet you up front.”

After she left, Brooke glanced back in the mirror and jumped at the sight of Alex Reynolds standing behind her, a shocked expression on her face.  Quickly, she turned and met the woman square in the eyes.

“Isn’t this a lovely sight,” Alex mused with a snide grin.  “I wasn’t aware that designers made maternity wedding dresses.  I thought one would have to go to a bargain basement for something like that.”

Brooke glared at her with contempt and placed her hand over her stomach.  “Nice to see you too, Alex,” she said without meaning a word of it.   “If you’ll excuse me-“

“Just a minute,” Alex said, stopping Brooke from going into a dressing stall.  “I have to tell you that I don’t for one minute buy this act you’re putting on.”

“Excuse me?”

“This little miss innocent act,” Alex continued ruefully.  “And I guarantee that James won’t buy into it either.  He’s a very savvy man, Brooke.  He’ll see through you just like he did the last time, and then he’ll realize that he’s marrying a slut from Phoenix who couldn’t possibly live up to his standards.  Then, my dear, you’ll be back doing makeovers at the Lancôme counter again.”

This coming from the woman who James threw out of his house?” Brooke countered with a grin.  “The same woman who tricked him into thinking they were still married so she could relive her past?  Really, Alex, that is truly the sign of a desperate woman.”

Alex glared at her and took a step forward, opening her sable coat and placing her hands firmly on her hips.  “If you’re talking about that week on the island-“

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about.  You tried to fool James then, but as you said, he’s a very savvy man.  He knows that I love him and don’t have to resort to manipulations to get him.”

“You mean like the way you manipulated him into believing that’s his child you’re carrying?”

“It is his child,” Brooke said calmly.  “That’s right, Alex.  I’m giving James a child.  We share a bond that you and him haven’t shared in a very long time.  So get used to it, because I’m not going anywhere.”

With that, she walked into the dressing stall and slammed the door closed.  Alex fumed and clenched her teeth firmly together before turning and storming out of the dressing lounge.

When Brooke had changed and finished her business in the boutique, she made her way outside to the chauffeured Rolls Royce waiting by the curb.  The driver got out and opened the door for her.  As she was about to get inside, Brooke caught the reflection in the mirror of someone standing directly behind her.

A gasp tore loose from her throat and she spun around quickly.  The dark figure she’d seen was nowhere in sight.  She looked up and down the sidewalk and saw a flash of someone racing down the street and ducking into a storefront.  She frowned, wondering if she was seeing things or if someone had been following her.  An eerie feeling overcame her and she shuddered with fear.

Jasmes Blackthorne

“Leave me alone, you shrew!” James bellowed as he wheeled himself down the hallway at the Blackthorne mansion.  Gwen followed in close pursuit, frustrated that she hadn’t been able to get him to finish his exercises.  “I’m exhausted!  I can’t do anymore, you slave driver!”

“Mr. Blackthorne, if you would just-“ she began, throwing her hands up in resignation.

By the time they reached the foyer, Leilani was opening the front door to the unwelcome sight of Will Thomerson forcing his way into the house.

“What the devil are you doing here?” James yelled, angered by the sight of his mortal enemy standing before him.  “You think since you moved into that rat trap down the road you can come here whenever you want? Get the hell out of here before I have you thrown out!”

“Who’s going to throw me out?” Will asked sarcastically as he looked James up and down in his chair.  You?  That’s a laugh.”

“Don’t push me,” James argued.  “I want you out of my house.”

“So, the mighty James Blackthorne is really stuck in a chair for the rest of his life,” Will said with a sickly smile.  “I didn’t believe it until just now.  My how the mighty have fallen.  I guess this could be considered payback for the way you and that bitch Alex Reynolds set me up.”

“No, you set yourself up, Thomerson,” James returned.  “You took my company from me and you paid the price for it.”

“So now you’re sticking it to me by stealing all of my movie deals?” Will asked. 

Behind him, the front door opened and Brett entered the mansion.  He surveyed the tension in the room and surmised that Will Thomerson must have received the bad news about his latest movie deal.  Coming to the house to point fingers was something he hadn’t counted on.  Slowly, he slid around the perimeter of the room and watched.  His eyes traveled upward where Stormy was walking down the stairs, having heard the commotion.  Their eyes locked momentarily and then turned back to the confrontation between James and Will.

“What are you talking about?” James asked.  “I haven’t stolen anything from you.”

“You think that I’m responsible for your sister Georgie’s death so this is your way of paying me back,” Will insisted.  “Kind of weak.  I’m surprised at you, James.  I would have thought you’d be a little more creative than this.”  He turned and spotted Brett standing a few feet away.  “I suppose you had him do you snooping for you since you seem to be grooming him to do your dirty work.”

“I still don’t know what you’re talking about, “James yelled.  “Now if you’re not out of here by the time I count to three-“

“Don’t threaten me,” Will said.  “You swooped in and took the rights to Blood & Oil and The Murderess.  Am I supposed to believe it’s just a coincidence?”

“Maybe you’re pointing fingers at the wrong people,” James said.

“You mean I’m expected to believe that Ethan would betray me like this?” Will asked with a laugh.  “No, because I haven’t exiled him from my life the way you did.  One mistake and you toss him out the door and forget that you’re his family.  I took Ethan in and gave him the support that he needed when none of you self-righteous people would.”

Tempted to tell him the truth, James had to restrain himself from doing so.  As much as he resented Ethan for his affair with Brooke, he couldn’t be vengeful enough to tell him that Will was his father.  He didn’t want either one of them every to know the truth.  Not after what happened to his precious sister Georgie.

“Get out of here, damnit,” James said in a relatively cool manner.  “Learn to accept defeat and move on.”

Will took a deep breath and glared menacingly at James.  “I know you’ve found some way of getting inside information about my studio, and I promise you that I’ll find out how you did it.  Just know that sooner or later I’ll make you pay.  Then I’ll make Alex Reynolds pay for the way she helped you set me up.  I’ll have my revenge, James.  Just wait and see. “

James took a deep breath and watched as Will stormed back out of the house and slammed the door with brute force.   He turned and gave Brett a nod of his head.  He didn’t know how he got the deal away from Will Thomerson, and frankly he didn’t care, he was just glad that they were one step ahead of Jaguar Studios.   He trusted Brett with his life.

As he wheeled back down the hall, Stormy shot Brett an ominous stare, wondering what he was up to as the temporary head of Sunset Studios.

Stormy Blackthorne

Late that night, Stormy restlessly climbed out of bed and made his way downstairs to the kitchen.  Nearing the doorway, he heard the sound of faint whispering, and wondered who was up at such a late hour.

Rounding the corner, he stopped in his tracks when she spotted Brett and Gwen standing oddly close to one another beside the table.  The whispers grew to an instant hush and they both looked at him intently. 

“I just came down for some milk,” Stormy said with a frown as he rubbed his hand over his bare chest.  He wondered why Brett and his father’s nurse were talking so intimately this late at night. 

“I should get back to bed,” Gwen said faintly as she crept past Stormy and fled from the kitchen in her long chiffon nightgown.

After she’d gone, Stormy turned back to Brett and folded his arms.  “What was that all about?” he asked suspiciously.  The truth was he wouldn’t put anything past his brother-in-law after everything he’d done.  The possibilities were endless.

Brett didn’t bat an eyelash as he expertly covered himself.  “Gwen’s become almost like a member of the family,” he began, handing Stormy a carton of milk.  “You might feel that way too if you’d been around for the past five months.”   He started to walk past him when Stormy grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“Just a minute,” he began, his eyes challenging Brett’s.  “I think we need to talk.  It’s been days since I’ve come back and we’ve obviously been tiptoeing around some issues.  I think it’s time we cleared the air.”

“Is this about Lauren?” Brett asked, feeling chills run down his bare back.  “Because whatever she told you about us, it was a lie.”

Stormy shook his head back and forth in irritation.  “You know that’s not true,” he began.  “Everything Lauren accused you of was dead on.  The blackmail, the affair-“

“You mean your affair with Lauren?” Brett cut him off.  “Wouldn’t she have said about anything to get you to leave Heather and run off with her?  That’s exactly what she did, Stormy, and you fell for it.  And look where it got you.  You gave up everything for her and wound up losing your marriage, your recording studio, and the respect of most of your family.”

“And you haven’t profited at all from that, have you?” Stormy asked sarcastically.  “I see the way you’ve manipulated everyone in this house into thinking you’re some kind of hero.  You sacrificed so much to live here with Miranda so you could keep an eye on my father, you generously offered to help him run the studio while he recovers from his surgery, you’re everyone’s friend, including the nurse, and-“

“What was I supposed to do?” Brett cut him off quickly.  “Not accept any responsibility while you were gone, traipsing around the country with that cut-rate singer?  You weren’t here, Stormy.  Your family was in trouble so I stepped in and did what I could.  And I’d do it all over again if I had to.”

“Including whatever scheme you’ve hatched to win over movie deals from Will Thomerson?” Stormy asked.   “How did you do it, anyway?  Plant a spy in his house to get the goods?  Does my father know the lengths that you’ve went to?”

“Your father doesn’t care what lengths I have to go to,” Brett insisted.  “Especially when it comes to Will Thomerson.  You should know that.”

“But at what price?  What if something you’re doing while you’re delusionally running the studio backfires and you lose everything?  What then?  You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t think your morals are exactly up to standard, Brett.  You were a con man before you married my sister and came here to live with us.  This is my father’s livelihood you’re playing with.  He worked his whole life for-“

“You’re talking to me about morals?” Brett argued.  “That’s crap, Stormy.  You cheated on your wife, left her and the rest of your family, and didn’t even give a damn about what was happening here, as long as you weren’t inconvenienced in the process.”

Stormy stepped forward and gave him a threatening stare.  “I don’t know how you’ve managed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, but I promise you I am going to find out everything that you’re up to and make you sorry that you ever messed with me.”

But Brett wasn’t afraid of Stormy.  He knew that he couldn’t touch him.  He was too valuable to the Blackthornes now.   He scowled and brushed past him on his way out of the kitchen, leaving Stormy standing irately behind.   He made his way back up the stairs and silently ducked into Gwen’s room down the hall.  Miranda was asleep and he needed a release. 

Gwen was waiting for him on the bed, a thin sheet covering her naked body.   Brett was flushed with anger and resentment toward Stormy and he desperately needed to take his mind off of the disturbing confrontation. 

He untied his pajama pants and kicked them off, bending down and covering Gwen’s body with his.  He entered her hard and forcefully.   Gwen cried out in ecstasy as he thrust himself inside of her with feverish intensity. 

Heather Blackthorne

Back in the kitchen, Stormy poured himself a glass of milk just as Heather entered the room in a pair of short pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.  She looked at him with surprise and started to back up before he called after her.

“Heather, wait-“ he began.  “Don’t go.”

“I didn’t think anyone would be up,” she said nervously. 

“I know that you always get up this time of night to get a drink,” Stormy said with a grin and handed her the full glass.  “I guess you really know someone after you’ve been married to them.”

Heather reluctantly took the milk from him.  “Look, if you’re going to try to rehash everything, I’m really not interested,” she said.  “Our marriage is over.  Or, at least it will be as soon as you sign the divorce papers.”

“Is that what you want?” Stormy asked.

She looked at him hastily, feeling her knees grow weak at the sight of his chiseled body standing before her.  She missed him so much, especially at night in bed.  He’d been a wonderful lover.  The comparison to Will Thomerson was nonexistent.  Stormy was all man and knew how to please her.   Will was selfish and thought only of his own needs.

But she couldn’t dwell on the past.  He ran out on her and she could never forgive him for that.  “Yes, it’s what I want,” she said.

Stormy’s eyes lowered to the floor and he nodded grimly.  He knew he couldn’t argue with her on the subject of their marriage.  He blew it and there was no chance that she’d ever forgive him.  As much as he hated to admit that he screwed up, their marriage was over.

“Get me the papers and I’ll sign them in the morning,” he finally said, beginning to walk to the door.   He paused and looked back at her momentarily.  “And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry about everything.  I really didn’t mean to hurt you, Heather.”

She looked into his eyes and felt a spark, a reminiscent feeling of the love they once shared.   But just as he turned and left the kitchen, so did the feelings.   There was nothing left for them.   At long last the painful separation would be over and they could both get on with their lives.   Where that took them was uncertain.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke stood on the balcony that jutted out from her and James's bedroom upstairs.  She took in a breath of fresh night air and exhailed slowly.  She couldn't help but feel a little uneasy about what she was doing.  Yes, she did care about James very much, but was lying to him about her baby a wise decision?  So many lives could be ruined if the truth ever got out.   But more than that, James could suffer an enormous setback in his condition if she revealed the truth now.   Yes, she was certain that she was doing the right thing.  No one could ever known that Ethan was the father of her unborn baby.

Coming up behind her, James wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her softly on the neck.   She shivered from his touch and ducked back inside the bedroom with him.  

 

From out on the lawn, a dark figure watched them with menacing eyes. His breathing heavy, he turned and started back to the gates at the end of the property.  Soon he would make his move.  This time nothing would stand in his way.

 


Next time....

James and Brooke remarry.  Brett renegs on his promise to Heather.  Will vows revenge.  James makes a decision about Sunset Studios.  A prowler startles Brooke.

 

Read Episode 27

 

 


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