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Episode 28

 

Release Date:  June 30, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

James and Brooke were re-married in a private ceremony. Miranda cautioned Brooke not to hurt her father again.  Stormy tried to make amends with James, then warned him that Brett was up to no good as head of Sunset Studios.  Brett backed out on his promise to give Heather a starring role in The Murderess.  Will learned that Heather was a spy and vowed to get revenge.  Janet Harper engineered an accidental meeting with Ethan.  James told a furious Brett that Stormy would be helping him run the studio while he recovered.  A mysterious intruder broke into the mansion and startled Brooke.  Later, James grew weak as a result of the pills that Gwen and Brett gave him, and fell down the stairs.  

 


 

Episode 28

"Love, American Style"

 

The television in the waiting room at Cedars-Sinai blasted a report from the Hollywood Bowl where setup was underway for the annual 4th of July celebration.  Bands did their soundchecks and the fire department supervised as fireworks were trucked in for the traditional display.   Miranda and Brett sat restlessly in the cold plastic chairs, watching the midday news on television while they waited for word about James.

"I don't understand what's taking so long," Stormy complained as he paced back and forth in the depressing waiting area flocked with cheap dime-store flags and red white and blue decorations.  "He's been in there for an hour and nobody's come to tell us anything."

"Brooke's still in with him.  Maybe she'll have some news," Brett remarked with a shrug.

Miranda gazed at the television and shook her head with concern for her father.  "I can't believe he fell," she said.  "It's like he's not getting any better.  Gwen should be in there with him.  She's his nurse.  She needs to confer with Dr. Farraday."

"She's upset," Brett said with an edgy sigh.   "She probably blames herself."

"That's ridiculous," Miranda exclaimed.  "You know my father.  Once he gets something in his head you can't change his mind.  He was determined to go out and look for whoever it was that Brooke saw in the house.  An army couldn't have stopped him."

"Well I'm going to go see if I can find anything out," Stormy said with frustration as he started out of the waiting room just as Heather entered with a tray of coffee.  He stopped and looked at her blankly, the awkwardness still present every time he saw her.

"I thought everyone would like some coffee," she said and handed him a cup.

"Thanks," Stormy said and took a cup from her on his way out of the room.

Brett looked up at Heather and rolled his eyes.  He wasn't in the mood for her this morning of all mornings. Was she going to start in on him again about his broken promise to cast her in The Murderess?  Hopefully she'd exhibit some tact and let it rest at least until James was back home with his family.

Moments later, Alex rushed into the waiting room, a streak of panic on her heavily made up face.  She rushed toward Miranda and threw her arms around her in despair.   A minute later, Jordan entered after having parked the car.

"Thanks for coming, Mom," Miranda said with misty eyes.  She gave Jordan a hug and then sat back down in her chair.

"How is James?" Alex asked, bundling her mink stole around her shoulders.  "I was horrified when I heard.  Miranda, Darling, tell me this doesn't have anything to do with that awful Brooke Taylor."

Miranda opened her mouth to reply when from outside the waiting room came Brooke, followed by Stormy and Dr. Noel Farraday, James’s long-time physician.

"Excuse me, Alex," Brooke seethed, her eyes red and puffy.  "If you've come here to start trouble then you can turn around and walk right back out that door."

Miranda glared at Brooke and stepped in front of Alex.  "Don't tell my mother to leave," she said.  "She has just as much right to be here as you do, Brooke."

Their eyes met in a long standoff.  How dare Miranda defend Alex to her at a time like this?  She was married to James now, not Alex. When were people going to realize that she was not going away again?  She was here to stay.

"Would you all stop bickering," Stormy insisted.  "Dr. Farraday has news about Dad.  He wanted to tell us all together."

Brooke broke from her penetrating stare and turned to the doctor.  "How is my husband, Dr. Farraday?" she asked.  "Please tell me we can bring him home."

He nodded and put a hand on Brooke's shoulder.  "He's going to be fine, Mrs. Blackthorne.  We took some X-rays and didn't find any broken bones or head trauma from his fall."

"Oh thank God," Alex said, placing a hand on her chest and leaning against Jordan for support.  Jordan couldn't help but feel jealous of his wife's obvious concern over James Blackthorne.  Something told him that she would never get over her first husband completely.

"I am concerned, however," Dr. Farraday continued.

Brett looked at the doctor with panic in his eyes.  What if he found out that he and Gwen had been feeding James muscle relaxers to keep him dependent on his chair?  What if this was the end of the line for him?   He couldn't let that happen.

"What is it, Dr. Farraday?" Stormy asked, paralyzed with fear that something worse had happened to his father.

"After reviewing the X-rays and doing some tissue monitoring, I'm surprised that this happened," the doctor continued.  "The tests show miraculous tissue recovery in James's legs.  That, compounded on top of his daily therapy, should be enough to give him substantial feeling in his legs again."

The family stared at him in silent disbelief, and Brett suddenly felt a surge of terror course through his veins.  What if this was it?  What if his plan was about to be exposed?  Stormy would get his way and have him thrown out of the house and out of Sunset Studios, leaving him to run it by himself.

"So why isn't my father walking yet?" Miranda asked.  "I don't understand it."

Dr. Farraday shook his head regretfully.  "I'm afraid I don't either," he said.   "There could be any number of reasons why he isn't regaining the use of his legs.  Something in his diet, something psychological, or-"

"You mean something my husband is doing could keep him paralyzed?" Brooke asked.

"Not exactly," Dr. Farraday replied.  "I'm thinking of possible drug interactions.  If any of you know what he's currently taking then maybe I can tell if there's been a reaction."

"His nurse would know," Miranda said.

Stormy grabbed his jacket and shoved his arms through it.  "I'll go home and talk to Gwen," he said.

"Why don't you let me do that?" Brett asked in a panic.  "James is your father, Stormy.  I know he'd want you to be here for him."  He couldn't let Stormy go and talk to Gwen.  Not in the delicate state she was in now.  She'd probably spill her guts and tell Stormy everything.

"Brett, I want you to stay here with me," Miranda pleaded, clutching to her husband's arm.  "I need you here.  I don't know what I'd do without you."

Decidedly caught between a rock and a hard place, Brett reluctantly gave in and sat back down next to Miranda.  He watched Stormy with hawk-like eyes and prayed that he wouldn't find anything.

"I'll let you know as soon as I can," Stormy said before turning and rushing out of the waiting room.

As soon as he got to the main floor of the hospital, he was accosted by a slew of reporters asking him questions about the condition of his father.

“Mr. Blackthorne, can you give us an update on your father?” asked a reporter from the Chronicle.  “Is it true that his condition has worsened?”

“How do you think this is going to affect the Academy Awards next year?”

“Is your father’s marriage to Brooke Taylor legal this time around?”

“What changes do you and your brother-in-law plan on implementing now that you’re both running Sunset Studios?”

Stormy was a pro at ignoring questions from reporters.  He made his way out to the parking lot when a familiar face stepped in front of him.   He stopped and looked Janet Harper up and down, not a bit surprised by her presence.

“You certainly have a way with reporters,” she said and licked her lips.  “I don’t suppose you’re holding out to give me a personal interview, are you?

Stormy smiled and folded his arms.  “Why do I get the feeling you’re following me, Miss Harper?” he asked.  “First I run into you in Denver, then at the airport in Phoenix, and now back here in L.A.  Am I supposed to believe this is a coincidence?”

“You can believe whatever you want,” Janet said with a grin.  “But I like to think of it as destiny.”

Suddenly remembering he was in a hurry, Stormy quickly cut their intriguing conversation short.  “Why don’t you tell me what it is you’re after, Miss Harper?”

She smiled and pulled her purse tightly over her shoulder.  “You’ll find out soon enough,” she said with a grin.

Stormy raised a curious eyebrow and continued down the steps to his car in the parking lot.  He didn’t have time for riddles, in particular riddles from a reporter like Janet Harper.

Blackthorne Mansion

Half an hour later, Stormy was walking inside the foyer of the Blackthorne mansion.  He started up the stairs when Leilani came running out from the dining room to see if there was any word on James.

"Not yet, Leilani," he said.  "Is Gwen in her room?  It's important that I talk to her."

Leilani shook her head.  "No, sir.  She was upset after the ambulance came and drove off in her car.  I don't know where she went."

He'd have to search her room himself, Stormy decided as he made his way down the hall upstairs.   When he got to her room, he quietly pushed the door open and walked inside the meticulous space.  Fortunately Gwen was alarmingly neat and orderly so finding the pills that she'd been giving James was no problem.

Quickly, he plucked his cell phone from his jacket and dialed Miranda.  Moments later she answered and he quickly rattled off the unpronounceable names from the labels on the bottles so that she could relay them to Dr. Farraday. 

After he finished, he clicked off his phone and started back out of the room.  Before he left, his eyes darted toward a bag from a local pharmacy that rested on top of Gwen's dresser.  He emptied the contents onto the bed and was floored by what he saw.  A home pregnancy kit.

Just then the door opened and Gwen walked inside, stopping mid-step when she saw Stormy going through her personal things.

"What are you doing?" she asked in horror.  Without wasting a second, she raced forward and snatched up the test.

Stormy felt horrible for having violated her space.  "Gwen, I'm sorry.  I was just looking for the pills that you'd been giving my dad."

Gwen looked at him quickly.  "Pills?"    She wondered if he meant the mood enhancers Brett had insisted she give to James.

"Yes.  Dr. Farraday wanted to know what he was taking so he could find out if the medication had anything to do with his fall."

"Oh," Gwen said, her heart beating wildly.  She wondered what Brett had really been asking her to give to James.  If they were just mood enhancers then the doctor wouldn't be having concerns.   "Did you find them?"

Stormy nodded reluctantly.  "Yes, those over there."  He pointed to the tray of pills he'd already reported back to Miranda.   "Is that all there is?"

Hesitantly, Gwen nodded her head. "Yes, that's all," she said.  "Is Mr. Blackthorne going to be all right?"

"I think so," Stormy replied as he started to the door.  He paused and looked back for a second.  "Listen, Gwen, I'm sorry if I overstepped my-"

She shook her head in an effort to dismiss any further discussion on the topic.  After he'd gone, she opened her top drawer and placed the pregnancy kit inside.  She moved a few articles of clothing around and withdrew a hidden bottle of pills from inside.   She shook them around in her hand and closed her eyes with regret. 

Cedars-Sinai

Back at the hospital, Brooke sat by James's side in his room, holding his hand and gazing longingly into his eyes.   He started to open his eyes and she squeezed his hand tightly, overjoyed that he was awakening.

"You gave us a pretty good scare," she said softly.  "How are you feeling?"

He nodded vaguely and managed a smile.  "I feel better now that you're here," he said.  "How are you feeling, Darling?  Did they find the prowler?"

Shaking her head, Brooke leaned forward and kissed his cheek.  "Don't worry about that now," she said.  "You're the most important thing to me.  You and our baby."

James smiled and squeezed her hand in return.   "Would you tell Gwen I’m sorry for being such an overbearing bully?" he asked with a good-natured chuckle.  "I think I've been pretty hard on her."

"I'll tell her," Brooke said with a smile.   "Dr. Farraday says you can come home in just a few hours.  We'll have a reason to celebrate this 4th of July.  Leilani and the Gardner have been busy getting the house ready for a little celebration.  Leilani's making her famous fried chicken.  We'll sit in the garden and watch fireworks..."

"Our first picnic together," James said, his eyes twinkling.  "I can't wait."

"Me either."  She leaned back, her hand still clasped around James's.  "Dr. Farraday says that your muscle tissue has improved a lot.  He says you might be regaining some feeling in your legs soon.  Won't that be wonderful?  Like a miracle."

James nodded dreamily.  "You coming back to me is the miracle," he said.  "I promise I'm going to give you the best life you can imagine.  Just wait and see."

Just outside the room, Alex listened to their heartfelt words with a pang of jealousy.  She wiped a tear from her eye and turned back down the hallway where Jordan was waiting.

"I'm ready to go," she said.

"But I thought you wanted to see James before we-"

"Now," Alex insisted as she gave Miranda a quick squeeze.  "Darling, I'm going to head home.  I'll talk to you soon, okay?"

"Won't I see youat the house later?" Miranda asked with a hint of disappointment in her voice.  "I think Daddy needs to have people around him right now.  That's why we're having this 4th of July party..."

She shook her head.  "Jordan and I are going up to the cabin in Big Bear for the weekend.  I'll call you when I get back.  We'll do something next week.  I promise."

Miranda nodded with a sigh and kissed her mother on the cheek.  Jordan said his good-byes to Heather and followed Alex down the hall to the elevator.

Will's House

The night sky lit up with fireworks, illuminated the gloomy parlor room of Will Thomerson's estate half a mile down the road from the Blackthorne mansion.   The butler entered the room and Will looked up from his reclined position at his desk where he poured over an old photo album.

"Sir, I've started to prepare the menu for your party this evening," he said.  "Will you require anything else in the meantime?"

"No, Gerald," Will replied absent-mindedly.  He turned back to the photo album and flipped through the pages.  Dozens of pictures from his youth growing up in Windsor, Kansas stared him coldly in the face.

His first love, young Georgie Blackthorne, looked so sweet and innocent back then.  She was a beautiful young woman with curly wisps of dark hair and sparkling green eyes.  A picture of them together at a town Christmas dance sent chills down his spine and he felt like he was twenty-five years younger. 

"My sweet Georgie," he whispered, touching the photograph with tender fingertips.  It had been a long time since he'd thought about her, not counting the times when James Blackthorne tried accusing him of killing her by leaving her with a broken heart.

The truth was he had to leave Windsor.  If he'd stayed and didn't take his chance on Broadway, he would have grown old and bitter and resented Georgie for keeping him there.  On the other hand, if he hadn't left Kansas, Georgie would never have been taken in by the carnival worker who got her pregnant and left her broken hearted.  As if his leaving wasn't enough of a heartbreak to her.

After a moment of reflecting on the past he looked down at the picture again and squinted, taking in the memories as best he could.  Suddenly, he caught a glimmer of something that he hadn't noticed before.  Or perhaps he'd been too blind to notice.

At twenty-one, Will had looked startlingly similar to Ethan.  The resemblance between him and Georgie was there, but the fact that Ethan today was like the spitting image of Will twenty-five years ago was astonishing to say the least.

He looked up from the photo album and stared across the room in a daze.  Just then the door opened and Ethan entered. 

"Happy 4th of July," he said and handed Will a box of sparklers.  "For the party tonight. I thought we could use a little entertainment."

Will took the sparklers and looked at Ethan closely.   He was amazed at how he never put the pieces together before today.

There was no carnival worker at all.

Jordan's House

Alex handed her stole to the butler as she and Jordan walked into their mansion in Beverly Hills.  She quickly made her way into the parlor room and poured herself a glass of brandy, standing back and watching a fireworks display through the large picture window.

"Will you please tell me what's got you in such an uproar?" Jordan demanded as he followed her into the room and closed the giant paneled doors behind him.   "You shot out of the hospital like you were a wanted woman.  What is it, Alex?"

"Leave it alone, Jordan," she said dismissively and turned toward the French doors that led out onto the terrace.

He sighed and shoved his hands into his pockets.  "I know what this is all about," he began.  "It's James, isn't it?"

She shot him a look of protest and folded her arms, entranced by the bright glow of the enormous fireballs in the sky.  "Don't be stupid."

"No, you're upset because James is lying in a hospital bed and you're not the one sitting by his bedside," Jordan insisted in outrage.  "Isn't that right?"

"No, you're wrong."

"I am not wrong!" Jordan argued.  "You're still hung up on the man and you’re so jealous that he's married again and has a baby on the way that you couldn’t bring yourself to be there another minute.  Admit it, Alex.  I’m right about this."

She turned to him and threw her half-full glass at the wall beside him.  Shards of glass and a spray of sticky dark liquid flew in every direction and Jordan quickly dodged away to deflect any fragments from hitting him.  

"I said you're wrong!" she screamed.  "Now just get out of here and leave me alone!"

"What about Big Bear?" Jordan asked in frustration as he fished the keys to the cabin out of his pocket.  "I thought we were going to spend the weekend together.  Just the two of us.  I'd rather not have James tagging along with us if you don't mind."

"I don’t care about Big Bear!" she cried and turned away.

Shaking his head in frustration, Jordan threw the keys across the room, turned and stormed back out of the parlor.  After he'd left, Alex buried her face in her hands and wept quietly.  She hated herself for feeling the way she did.  The truth was that Jordan was right on the money with everything.  She was jealous.  James didn't want her anymore and he'd moved on.

Absorbed in her misery, she walked to the French doors and opened them to let in some fresh air.  The smell of sulphur and smoke filled the room from the fireworks.  She took a deep breath and tried to put the day's events into perspective.  Suddenly a hand clasped around her mouth and her eyes flashed open in surprise, muffled screams emanating uselessly.

Blackthorne Mansion

After word of James's impending release came, Brett made a cleverly disguised exit from the hospital and made his way back to the mansion where he immediately sought out Gwen. 

To his relief, he found her alone in her room.   He quickly shed his jacket and loosened the top button on his shirt, panting with exhaustion from rushing so fast up the stairs. 

"Are you okay?" he asked, closing the door quietly behind him.

She barely looked up at him, wiping her teary eyes with a tissue.  "Go away, Brett," she said.  "I can't even look at you right now."

Wondering what had happened since he left, he raced over and sat down next to her on the bed.  Gwen immediately shot up and bolted across the room a safe distance away. 

"Gwen, you've been crying," he said, following her closely.

"James could have died," Gwen said between sobs.  "Do you realize that, Brett?  He could have died and it would have been all our fault."

Brett shook his head in protest and offered a patronizing smile.  "What are you talking about?" he asked.  "James falling down the stairs doesn't have anything to do with us.  The doctors always said he might not regain the feeling in his legs.  You knew that.  How would we be to blame if anything had happened to him?"

"Because of these!" Gwen lamented and threw the bottle of muscle relaxers at him.  "I don't know where you really got these or what they really are, but I know that his condition has gotten worse since I stated giving them to him!  That makes us both responsible, Brett!"

Unable to keep up with his constant web of lies, Brett threw his hands up in resignation and looked at Gwen with a leveled truthfulness.  "Look, I didn't mean for him to get hurt, okay?" he began, then quickly thought up another lie to cover his deceitfulness.  "I knew how eager he was to get back to work and I didn't want him to push himself.  I thought by giving him muscle relaxers he would be forced to taking it slow. "

Gwen looked at him and tried to decide if he was on the level or not.  It was so hard to tell sometimes.  Brett seemed to have a cover for every move he made.  

"My father and I never got along," Brett continued, deciding to lay it on even thicker.  "He threw me out of the house when I was seventeen.  For years I tried to win his love but it didn't seem to make any difference.  Then he died of a heart attack and I never got the chance to say goodbye to him."

Gwen felt her heart sink and she again felt sorry for Brett.  The puppy dog look in his eyes and the corners of his mouth turning down was enough to make up for any wrongdoing.

"With James it's like I have another chance," Brett said.  "I love him like my own father, Gwen.  I just don't want to see him hurt.  This thing that's happened, it's killing me inside knowing that I might have been the cause of it."  To top off the sentiment, he was somehow able to muster a couple of tears.  "I didn't know that he would get hurt, Gwen"

"Brett-"

"I don't even deserve the love and trust that he's given me," he cut her off, sitting down on the bed and burying his face in his hands.

Feeling responsible for his breakdown, Gwen sat beside him and took his hand in hers.   "You had good intentions," she began solemnly.  "I know how much Mr. Blackthorne means to you.  You're like another son to him.  I just wish you had told me the truth before any of this.  I'm a nurse, Brett.  I could have told you this would happen."

"I know.  I'm an idiot."  He looked up at her and dried the few tears he'd forced himself to shed.  "So what are you going to do now?  Are you going to tell James?"

She sighed and looked at the bottle of pills.  "I don't know," she began.  "For now I’m not going to do anything.  I think this family has been through enough."

Brett nodded and looked at the pill bottle.  He had to get it back from her.  Without the proof, it would be her word against his.  He got up from the bed and straightened his shirt before giving her a faint smile and leaving the room.

After he'd gone, Gwen went back to her dresser and put the pills back in the top drawer.  From out in the hallway, Brett watched her intently.

Alex Reynolds

Alex twisted from the grasp of the intruder and slid away, picking up a candlestick to use in her defense.  Her eyes riveted to the man standing before her, she slowly lowered her weapon and cocked her head to the side in confusion.

"Philip?" she asked in surprise.  "What are you doing here?"

Philip Whitacre took a step forward, unzipping his black leather jacket as his eyes bore into her threateningly.  "I need your help," he began.

"My help?" she asked.  "You've got to be kidding.  I believe I paid you in full for your efforts in breaking up James and Brooke last summer.  I want nothing more to do with you."

A sly grin broke out across Philip's face and he took a few steps forward.  "You certainly couldn't get enough of me last time," he began.  "If I remember correctly, your eyes were permanently rolled back into your head after I got through with you."

Alex fought the temptation and pushed him away.  As attractive and sexually charged as Philip Whitacre was, she had to remain faithful to Jordan, however irritating he might be at times.   "I'm a married woman now," she said.

"Does your husband give it to you like I do?" Philip asked, walking up behind her and pushing himself close, his hot breath on the back of her neck.  "Does he make you scream like I do?"

Alex felt lightheaded and she hurriedly scampered away.  "Really, Philip.  This is a bad idea.  What are you doing here, anyway?  I thought you were in Phoenix."

"I was," he said.  "But now I’m back.  I have some unfinished business in L.A.

Laughing, Alex lit a cigarette and puffed gently on the tip.  "I don’t even want to know what business you have in L.A."

"Like I said before, I need your help.  I need someplace to stay for a while," he persisted.  "A nice place up away from the city.  Just until I get on my feet.  I need to sort some things out and I need time and space.”

She tried to appear unaffected by his clever manipulation.  "I'm sorry.  I can't help you.  If my husband even knew you were here he'd have a fit.  He's very jealous, you know."

“Then what about that cabin I heard you talking about?” Philip asked.  “Where’d you say it was?  Big Bear?”

“Just how long have you been skulking around my terrace?” she asked, slightly unnerved that he had listened in on her private conversation with her husband.  “I should call the police on your ass.”

Philip dug his hands into his pockets and looked to the ground.  The tip of a key jutting out from under the sofa caught his attention and he suddenly got an idea.  Under the pretense that he was tying his shoe, he bent down and quickly scraped the keys up in his hand.

"Really, Philip.  What are you doing here?" Alex continued.  "If you're here to cause more trouble with James and Brooke you're too late.  They've already remarried."

He nodded.  "I know.  I wish them both lots of happiness."

Alex looked at him with a raised eyebrow.  She didn't buy his act for a minute.  There was a reason he had come back to L.A. and she was certain it had something to do with Brooke Blackthorne.

"Sorry for intruding on your evening," Philip said with a smirk as he backed up toward the terrace, clasping the keys tightly in the palm of his hand.  "I'm sure I'll be seeing you around."

In a flash he was gone and Alex quickly went to the doors to close them again.   She shivered from the eerie confrontation and took a long drag of her cigarette.

Jasmes Blackthorne

That evening, Leilani opened the grand double doors of the Blackthorne mansion and stood clear as Brooke wheeled James into the foyer, followed by Miranda, Stormy and Heather. 

"Welcome home, Mr. Blackthorne," Leilani said.

"Thank you, Leilani," James replied with a smile.

"Is everything ready on the terrace, Leilani?" Miranda asked.  "I think we’re all in need of a healthy dose of summertime fun."

"It looks lovely, Miss Miranda," Leilani said and led the family down the hall to the family room.  Once they entered, praises of approval came fast and furious.  An elaborate buffet was set up, the terrace doors open and flaming torches ablaze outside near the garden.  Brett was already there, pouring drinks at the outside bar and tending to the barbecue grill..

"Happy 4th everyone," he said as he walked over and embraced Miranda warmly.  "James, I hope you're feeling better.  You gave us all quite a scare."

"I feel fine, Brett, thank you."  He wheeled himself to the terrace doors and took in a breath of the fragrant garden.  Beams of light illuminated the sky from the Hollywood Bowl fireworks show, music from a band emanating all the way up the canyons.

"Would everybody care for some lemonade mixers?" Brett said as he handed out glasses to everyone.

"Sounds terrific," Miranda said as she took a glass from him.  "Daddy?"

"I wouldn't mind having some," James said happily.  He wheeled over to the sofa and Brooke sat down next to him after shedding her white fur coat.   "Darling, one sip won't hurt you.  What do you say?"

"Maybe just a sip," she said and took a glass from Miranda.   "I think we have a lot to celebrate tonight.  Dr. Farraday said that there's a good chance you'll be regaining some feeling in your legs soon.  Isn't it wonderful?"

"I hope he's right," James said.

"What about the concerns he had?" Stormy asked.  "Were the medications you were taking causing your condition to worsen, Dad?"

James sighed and shrugged indifferently.  "He doesn't know.  But he must think they were being counterproductive because he told me to stop taking all of the pills he prescribed.  That's good news in my book."

"That's wonderful, James," Heather said and exchanged relieved smiles with Brooke.

Brett bit down on his lip and realized that his plan to keep James immobile hadn't come off as easily as he'd thought.  And now with him and Stormy both running Sunset Studios together, the fate of his position with the studio was more up in the air than ever.  Once James started walking again, he'd be back in control.

Heather sidled into the room and cornered Brett by the buffet.  She shot him a lethal stare that he knew right away meant business.  It was clear that she wasn't through with him yet.  His reneging on the deal to get her a part in The Murderess wasn't just going to fade away.   Heather was going to be a thorn in his side for some time to come.

"Tell me, where is Gwen?" James asked.  "I'd like her to come down and celebrate with the family as well.  I think I owe her an apology."

"I'll go get her," Brett announced quickly, setting his cocktail down and making his way out of the room.  Stormy watched him and raised a curious eyebrow.   He thought it was peculiar that twice in one day Brett jumped to attention at the very sound of Gwen’s name.

Brett Armstrong

When Brett arrived at Gwen's room, he pushed the door open and found her sitting on her bed holding a small object in her hand.   There was a far-away look in her eyes that didn't subside until he called her name several times.

"Oh, I didn't hear you come in," she said distantly.

"Are you okay?" Brett asked, closing the door behind him.

She shook her head in despair and a tear ran down her cheek.  "No, I'm not okay," she said.  She stood up and looked at him dead on.  "I'm pregnant."

The news nearly sent Brett doubling over in shock.  He took a step back and blinked a few times before opening his mouth to respond. 

"Yes, it's yours."   She answered his question before he asked.

No, this couldn't be happening!  She can't be pregnant!  She'll ruin everything!

Gwen held up the pregnancy test stick and shrugged.  "Well, aren't you going to say anything?"

Brett considered his reply very carefully.  There were two ways to play this, and the wrong choice could send Gwen running to James with the truth about the pills he had insisted she give him.   No amount of twisting the truth and fabricating fake stories about his childhood would get him out of that one.  Stormy would make sure of that. 

"I think it's wonderful," he said and walked over and put her arms around her.

Shocked by his reaction, Gwen smiled happily and took a step back.  "Do you mean it?" she asked.  "You're happy about this baby?"

Brett nodded.  "Of course I am, Gwen.   Just think of it.  A baby of our own.  What more could we ask for?"

She laughed with exhilaration and threw her arms around his neck.   "I'm so relieved!" she cried.  "I thought you were going to be angry and-"

"How in the world could I be angry about something as beautiful as having a baby with the woman I love?" he asked, lifting her chin and gazing into her eyes. 

Gwen swallowed hard and felt a tear stream down her cheek.  "You love me?" she asked in disbelief.

"Yes, I love you."  He picked her up in his arms and spun her around in a circle. 

After the initial elation had subsided, Gwen covered her mouth with her hands and sat down on the edge of the bed.  "But what about your wife?" she asked.  "This is going to destroy her.  And we'll both be banished from this house without a second thought."

"And that's why we have to keep this just between us for the time being," Brett insisted, taking her hand in his and patting it gently.  "Nobody can know about this baby, Gwen.  Let me handle my wife, okay?"

She nodded, mesmerized by how gallant and cordial he was being.  She had no choice but to go along with him.  If they were going to be together she'd have to.

"For right now we have to act like everything is normal," Brett continued.  "James wants you to come downstairs to celebrate with the family.  You go down first and I'll meet you there in a few minutes."

"Okay," she said happily and kissed him warmly.  She turned and raced from the room, leaving Brett behind.  Once she was gone, he quickly went to the top drawer of her dresser and fished the bottle of pills from inside. He quickly pocketed the bottle and started back out of the room.  He had to get downstairs before anyone suspected anything.  The last thing he needed was Stormy causing more trouble for him.

Blackthorne Mansion

Outside on the terrace, Heather and Miranda set off a slew of bottlerockets and cowered away as they shot up into the air and crackled as they disappeared from sight.  Stormy laughed and approached with an M-80.  Gwen stepped out from the family room with some trepidation and quietly slid to the gazebo.

"Gwen, come over here," James said and flagged down the nurse.  "I'd like to tell you how sorry I am for the way I've acted recently."

She shook her head adamantly, unable to hide her guilt over her part in his fall. "Really, Mr. Blackthorne, that's not necessary."

"Nonsense," he said, handing her an envelope of cash.  "Please accept this and my apology.  Consider it a bonus."

"You deserve a bonus after having to put up with him," Miranda joked just as Brett approached and took his place by her side.   He and Gwen exchanged knowing glances while Stormy watched them both carefully.

"And while I'm feeling generous, I have something for you too," James said to Brooke as he motioned for Stormy to bring over an enormous wrapped package.   "Actually it's for our baby."

"For our baby?" Brooke asked with a bright smile as she walked over to the gigantic box that rested on the patio.  Miranda watched her coolly, fighting every temptation to scream out that she didn't deserve so much attention from her father. 

"It might be a few years before he or she gets to use it, but I wanted to get something for the future of the next Blackthorne," James said, watching in admiration as Brooke unwrapped the present.

"James, you didn’t," Brooke gasped as she revealed the polished leather saddle.  She turned to him and her jaw dropped in astonishment.  "You got our baby a horse?"

He nodded.  "A pony actually.  He's out in the stable right now.  By the time our baby is old enough to ride, that pony should be trained perfectly."

"It's wonderful, James," Brooke said and threw her arms around him.  "It's the best gift I could ever ask for.  Our baby could ever ask for, I mean."

"And now for you," James said, removing a long velvet box from his pocket.

Brooke's eyes lit up with excitement as she opened the jewelry box and gazed inside at the shimmering necklace and earrings.  She'd never seen so many diamonds in her entire life.  "It's beautiful," she whispered.  "But I don't understand. What's the occasion for all these gifts?  It's the 4th of July, not Christmas."

"I just feel very lucky and blessed and I want to share it with you."

Heather was quickly reminded of the similar present Will had given her the week before.  She realized she had a decision to make about their relationship.  Brett wasn't going to help her so maybe she was too quick to discount Will.

Miranda rolled her eyes and sat back against a cushy patio chair.  She couldn't stand how Brooke was yet again the biggest star in the house.  It was like last summer only worse now that a baby was involved.

Just then, Alex stepped outside onto the terrace from the family room with a flourish.  Jordan followed her close behind, his hands dug firmly in his pockets.

"Good evening everybody," Alex clamored, dressed festively in a red and white dress with matching pillbox hat.

"Mom!" Miranda screeched happily, flying up from her seat and rushing over to her and Jordan.  "I'm so glad you're here!"

"Hi Mom," Stormy said and waited behind Miranda to greet Alex.  "I thought the two of you were going to Big Bear."

"We decided to celebrate Independence Day with our children," Alex said, giving Jordan a wry look before hugging Stormy close.  "Happy 4th of July, Darling."

Heather approached her father and kissed him warmly.  The animosity she'd felt toward him lately dissipated and she welcomed him with open arms.  Stormy was shuffled awkwardly close to Jordan and the two met in a standoffish gaze.

"Jordan," Stormy said offhandedly.

"Stormy, good to see you," Jordan managed through clenched teeth.  He wanted to kill Alex for dragging him over there.  If it hadn't been for Heather he would have insisted he stayed home.  He didn't understand why everyone was fawning all over James Blackthorne so much.  They were acting like the 4th of July was his own personal holiday.

"What is she doing here?" Brooke whispered in James's ear, her eyes unmoving from Alex's painted on smile.

"Relax, Sweetheart," James soothed her.  "Stormy and Miranda are her children too.  And things between us have been better lately so I don’t see the harm in having her spend the evening with us."

"Well I do," Brooke said with a pout.  "She's positively horrible to me, James."

He pursed his lips together and kissed Brooke on the cheek.  "I'll handle Alex.  Don't you worry about that."

Just then, the entire night sky lit up in a myriad of colors and lights.  Loud crackling and a string of thunderous roars echoed through the canyons. Everyone stopped and turned to witness the elaborate grand finale, mesmerized by the awe-inspiring fireworks display.

Brooke put her hand on James's shoulder and smiled contently.  Their first holiday together was proving to be the best one of her life.  Alex approached and stood on the opposite side of Brooke.  She pushed her long auburn hair up off her shoulder and offered a coquettish smile.   "Hello Brooke.  I had a visit from a friend of yours today."

She looked at her and raised an eyebrow.  "Really?  Who was that?"  She couldn’t imagine having any friends in common with Alex Reynolds.

Alex hesitated and then shook her head, deciding it was best to leave her in the dark.  She didn't owe Brooke anything and certainly didn't have to tell her everytime she saw one of her ex-boyfriends.  "Oh, nevermind.  I'm sure it wasn't important."

Brooke frowned at the odd remark, turning back to watch the grand finale of the fireworks display at the Hollywood Bowl.  

A hundred yards away, a dark figure crept through the trees on the expansive grounds of the mansion.  He moved with cat-light agility, moving from tree to tree until he was in range and could get a clear view of her.  He stood and watched, gripping his fingers onto a tree branch as he watched the way she stood by her husband with that whimsical look in her eyes.  She looked so happy with him, but he knew it wouldn't last.  Soon she would come to her senses and come back to him.

Yes, soon he and Brooke would be back together, Ethan thought to himself as he watched her from across the lawn.

 


Next time....

Heather reluctantly goes back to Will in hopes of landing a gig.  Ethan and Janet grow closer.  Will gets a DNA test. Brooke goes missing during a torrtential rainstorm.

 

Read Episode 29

 

 


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