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Episode 32

 

Release Date:  July 28, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

James asked Gwen if she would stay on as baby Michael's nurse.  Gwen continued to hide the fact that she had been in prison in Paraguay.  Jordan convinced Alex not to tell James that Will knew he was Ethan's father.  James continued his search for Philip, even though Brooke insisted that he drop it. Miranda grew jealous when james put her off to be with Michael.  Brett told Gwen that he wanted her to have an abortion, and she reacted violently.  Later, she began bleeding and was rushed to the hospital where she miscarried.  James bought out Marilee's interest in Alex's company, then announced that he was dividing control of Sunset Studios between Brett and Stormy.  

 


 

Episode 32

"Hollywood Kids"

 

Hotel Terranova was crowded with guests rushing about the lobby, checking in and out and scrambling to make their tennis lessons or tee times on the golf course.   The Mediterranean décor of the lobby boasted expensive tiles and artwork flown in from places as far off as Marrakech and Sri Lanka.  Nothing but the best for the newly remodeled hotel, Miranda Armstrong thought as she strode across the terracotta floor in her Manolo Blahnik heels.   She paused and took a satisfied look around the glamorous hotel that she’d single-handedly brought back from near bankruptcy.   Quite an accomplishment if she did say so herself.

Veering off into the restaurant, she spotted her cousin Ethan sitting in the bar with Janet Harper, a face she recognized from when they had located Brooke down in Phoenix a few weeks ago.  Unable to resist the temptation of a confrontation, she sauntered over and stood by with her arms folded.

“Hello Ethan,” she said, then looked at Janet.  “Miss Harper, isn’t it?  I believe we’ve met.”

Ethan looked up with a startled expression on his face.  He knew that his frequent visits to Janet at Hotel Terranova would eventually work against him.  Running into Miranda was bound to happen since she ran the place.  “Hi Miranda,” he said.  “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” she replied, then gave Janet an intense glare.  “I see you’ve been keeping yourself busy while you’re not working for my father’s nemesis, Will Thomerson.”

He nodded.  “Yeah, I have.”  He wasn’t about to play her games.  “How is Uncle James?”

“He’s fine.”

“And Brooke?” Ethan asked, swallowing hard and fighting back the bitter feelings of resentment.  “Is she happy to be back?”

Miranda saw right through his charade.  “Brooke is fine.  My father is fine.  And their baby is fine.  They’re one big happy family.  I guess you didn’t have as much of an impact on her as you thought.  She seemed to have gotten over you pretty quickly.”

“Look, I know James is angry with me but that doesn’t mean you have to be,” Ethan said and stood up from the stool.  “We’ve always been friends, Miranda.”

“Yeah well the last mistake you made as my friend was sleeping with my father’s wife,” she shot back angrily.

Ethan laughed at her remark.  “You’ve never liked Brooke.  I would think you’d be happy for anything that came along to keep her from your father.”

“Well I don’t want him to be miserable if that’s what you think,” Miranda said.  “You were like a son to him, Ethan, and you stabbed him in the back.  Forgive me if I’m not grateful for that.”

Janet quickly went to Ethan’s defense.  “I think Ethan was just saying that he-“

“I didn't ask for your input,” Miranda quickly cut her off, again directing her penetrating stare toward her.  “I don’t know who you are, lady, and why you keep popping up around my family, but I’d watch out if I were you.  You don’t want to mess with the Blackthornes.”

With that, she turned and darted off toward her office just off of the lobby.  Ethan sat back down and patted Janet lightly on the hand.  “I’m sorry about that,” he said.  “I’m still pretty much an outsider with my family these days.”

Janet eagerly perked up and crossed her legs as she leaned closer.  “What exactly did transpire between you and James’s wife?” she asked.   “I don’t believe it’s just a simple case of you stabbing him in the back.  You’re much too nice a guy for that.”

“It’s a long story,” Ethan said with a sigh and finished his drink.

Janet licked her lips.  Finally they were getting somewhere.  Ethan Blackthorne was one member of the family she didn’t have much written about for her manuscript.  Even the few evenings they’d spent together hadn’t proved beneficial.  He was surprisingly tight-lipped about his past.  But she was almost there and she wasn’t about to stop until she had the whole story about the Blackthorne family.

“Well why don’t we go up to my room and you can tell me all about it,” she said with a vixenish pout and took his hand in hers. 

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy walked out of his office at Sunset Studios and barreled across the hall, marching directly into Brett’s office and slamming the door closed.

“Where are those financial reports?” Stormy demanded, the veins in his forehead throbbing.  “I wasn't finished with them and you took them.”

Brett glanced up and shrugged indifferently.  “Which financial reports are you talking about?” he asked.  He wasn’t about to be bullied by Stormy.  He’d run Sunset Studios for the past six months and he’d be damned if he’d let him come in and tell him how to do things now.

“You know damn well what I’m talking about.  I was working on the budget for Blood & Oil.  I need those reports so I can finish by the start of pre-production.”

Brett stood up and adjusted his suit jacket.  “Let’s get one thing straight, Stormy,” he said and walked around the desk.  Blood & Oil is my project.  I’ll decide the budget and I’ll decide when pre-production starts.  Not you.”

Shaking his head in frustration, Stormy ran his fingers through his hair and tried to maintain his cool.  “You’re unbelievable,” he began.  “You may have been in charge before but now I’m here and I’m going to make some changes.  That means you don’t do a damn thing until I give the approval.”

“Your father put us both in charge,” Brett exclaimed, glaring wildly at him.  You don’t call the shots around here.  We have equal say, and if we both don’t agree on something then you don’t get to make the final call.”

“Then let me see the financial reports.  I’ll look over the budget and if I agree then you can start pre-production.  But not until then.”

Angry that he’d managed to make him feel so powerless, Brett grabbed the reports from his desk and thrust them at him.   “Fine.  But what’s next?  I suppose you’re going to take credit for the re-editing of Angel Assassin at the premier tomorrow night.”

Stormy shook his head.  “No.  I know you’ve been working on that for the past few months.  I’ll give you this one.”

He took the papers and gave Brett a final look of warning before turning and exiting the office.  After he’d left, Brett slammed his fists onto the desk and cursed his meddling brother-in-law.  He hated the idea that he was there.  James had entrusted him with his studio all that time, and now he had to share it all with Stormy.  It was enough to make him want to kill. 

Blackthorne Mansion

When Miranda got home that evening she found James and Brooke in the family room with the baby, oohing and aahing over how cute he was and shaking rattles and squeaky toys in his face.   She rolled her eyes and attempted to sneak off before they saw her but she had no such luck.

“Miranda, Darling, how was work today?” James called from inside the room.

She sighed and walked in with a smile plastered on her face.  “It was great, Daddy,” she replied unenthusiastically.  “How’s everything here?"

“It’s wonderful,” Brooke chimed in.  “Michael smiled for the first time today.”

“It was the spitting image of your brother’s smile,” James said, staring down in adoration at Michael.  “I remember it so vividly.”

Miranda wrapped her arms around herself and stepped forward.  “That’s great,” she said.  “What about me, Daddy?  Do you think Michael looks like me at all?”

James hesitated for a bit too long and then shook his head in reply.  “I don’t think so, Sweetheart.  He’s definitely got Brooke’s eyes and nose, and me and Stormy's mouth.  He's a Blackthorne through and through."

“Oh I see,” Miranda said, gnashing her teeth together.   She knew it was ridiculous but she felt unimportant ever since the baby came home.  Everyone had something they were doing for the family but her.  All she had was the hotel.  “Daddy, I still want you to come up to the hotel and see the progress on the new rooms.  I really think you’ll be pleased.”

James nodded after more hesitation.  “Okay Darling, I will,” he said.  “I’ll be out that way tomorrow for a meeting.  How about if I stop in and take a look?  Then you and I can have lunch together.”

Suddenly Miranda’s world didn’t seem so dark.  “That’s great,” she said with a bright smile.  “I’ll have the chef make something extra special for us.”

James beamed with approval and turned his attention back to Brooke and the baby. 

Miranda turned and started down the hallway, walking past Gwen as she made her way into the family room.  “Mr. And Mrs. Blackthorne, I can take Michael upstairs for his bath if you’d like.”

Brooke nodded in reply.  “That’d be fine, Gwen.  Thank you.  I’ll be up in just a little while to put him to bed.”

“Oh I can do that,” Gwen said and took the baby from her.  She smiled sweetly at Michael, cradling him gently in her arms.  “You and Mr. Blackthorne should spend some time alone.  Lord knows you've both been through a lot lately.”

“Well I would like to see him before he goes to sleep,” Brooke said, determined.  “I’ll be up in a while.”

Gwen’s expression turned stark and she nodded obediently.  “Yes, Mrs. Blackthorne,” she said and left the room with Michael. 

After she’d gone, Brooke followed James across the room where he poured them each a tumbler of brandy.  “Do you think Gwen’s okay?" she asked, her voice filled with concern for the young nurse.

“Why do you ask?”

Brooke shrugged and took the drink from him.  “Ever since Stormy took her to the hospital the other day she’s been different,” she said.  “Has she told you anything about what happened?  Why she got sick and had to go off in an ambulance?”

James sighed and shook his head reluctantly.  “No, but Stormy told me."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "She had a miscarriage.”

Alarmed, Brooke threw her hands up to her mouth and gasped in shock.  “How awful,” she said.  “That poor girl.  I didn’t even know she was pregnant.”

James led her to the sofa and sat down beside her.  “Apparently she didn’t want to make it an issue,” he explained.

“Well who was the father?”

“I don’t know.  She didn’t tell Stormy.  My guess is that it wasn’t someone she planned on having a baby with.”

Brett Armstrong

Upstairs, Gwen stood above Michael in his crib and gazed down at him with longing eyes.  She felt a tear roll down her cheek and she quickly wiped it away.  It was no time for sorrow, she thought to herself.  She’d lost her baby but she’d been given the blessing to care for Michael.  He was just as beautiful as she’d imagined her own baby being. 

“Gwen,” a voice said from behind and she quickly spun around, placing her hand on her heaving chest.  To her disgust, Brett was standing there in the shadows, watching her closely as if studying her carefully.

“What are you doing here?” she asked and turned toward him.

“I just got home,” Brett said in as gentle a voice as he could manage.  “I’ve been wanting to talk to you for the last few days but it never seems like the right time.  How are you doing?”

“You mean since I lost the baby?” she asked bitterly, her eyes darting around the room and landing back on Michael.  Our baby.”

“Yes, I was concerned.”

“I know how concerned you must have been,” Gwen spat sarcastically.  “This entire house has been whispering being my back since it happened.  Gwen lost her baby.  Gwen’s all alone in the world.  Who was the father of poor Gwen’s baby?”  She quickly turned back to him and rushed across the room.  “How about if I tell them who the father of my baby was?  I bet you’d be real concerned then, wouldn’t you?”

Brett didn’t know what to say.  It wasn’t his fault that she had the miscarriage but somehow he felt that she blamed him.  “Gwen, I-“

She turned around and returned to a relatively calm state.  “You got what you wanted,” she said softly.  “Now please just leave me alone.”

But Brett had to put his mind at ease.  He had too much to lose.  “Are you going to tell them that I was the father of the baby you lost?” he asked in desperation.  

“I said leave me alone,” she hissed.

Deciding it was best to drop it for the time being, Brett quietly ducked out of the room and started down the hall.  Gwen lifted Michael into her arms and smoothed her hand down the back of his head.  She closed her eyes and slowly began singing him to sleep.

Will's House

The next day, Heather made her way into the parlor room of Will Thomerson’s estate.  Ethan was there and she immediately grew tense, struggling to come up with an easy way to back away and avoid another confrontation.

“Heather, wait a minute,” Ethan said.  “There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”

She rolled her eyes and looked at him with irritation.  “What?  Do you want to attack me again and tell me what a horrible person I am?  Well save your breath.  People have done a lot worse to break into the business.  All I did was steal a few scripts.”

“Yeah, for James,” Ethan began.  “Do you have any idea how much he and Will hate each other?  If he found out you did anything to help Sunset Studios get the edge over him, he would go ballistic.”

“Well he won’t find out if you don’t tell him,” Heather said shortly and then turned around just as Will emerged from a hidden staircase in the wall. 

“Don’t tell me what?” Will asked with a smile.  He approached Heather and kissed her lightly on the cheek.  “You two weren’t talking about me, were you?”

“Maybe just a little bit,” Heather said playfully and tossed her long brown hair over her shoulder.  “So what was so important that you wanted me to come right over?”

Grinning from ear to ear, Will led her over to the sofa and sat her down.  “I have wonderful news,” he began.  “I’ve found a part in a film that I think you would be perfect for.”

Heather’s face lit up instantly.  “Really?" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him in elation.  “That’s fantastic!  What is it?”

“It’s a very juicy role, Princess,” he began.  “It’s exactly the kind of film you've been wanting to star in.  Now I’ve set up a screen test with a director.”  He casually reached into his jacket pocket and handed her a slip of paper with a man’s name and an address scribbled out on it. 

“Screen test?” Heather asked with a slight tilt of her head.

“It’s just a formality, dear,” Will said.  “The director just wants to get a feel for how you look on camera, that’s all.”

“Who’s the director, Will?” Ethan asked from across the room.  He thought it was strange that Will hadn’t mentioned this to him before. 

“He’s new,” was Will’s easy reply.  “And very talented.  Very hip with what’s hot right now and what the audiences want to see.  So Heather, can you make it over there later?  He said he'll be free tonight."

Can I?” she exclaimed and shot up to her feet.  “I’m going to go home and pick out something to wear.  Oh God, I’m so excited!”

In a flash she was racing back out of the room.  Will smiled to himself and almost forgot that Ethan was there.  When he turned around, he saw the young man staring at him from a distance.  "Things seem to be getting serious with you two," Ethan said.  "That necklace you gave her, now a part in a movie.  Is it a Jaguar Studios production?"

Will shook his head dismissively.  "No," he replied and quickly changed the subject to something else.  "Shall we send out for lunch today?  There's a lot of work to do and I think we should buckle down."

"I have plans for lunch," he replied.  "With Janet Harper."

Will raised an eyebrow and followed Ethan across the room.  Every time he looked into his eyes he saw more and more of himself.  He wanted so desperately to tell him that he was his father.  He wanted to start making up for all the years they'd lost.  But first he'd have to deal with James.   Making him pay was going to have to come first.

"You're seeing Janet Harper again?" Will asked inquisically.  "It seems like you may be getting serious about this woman."

Shrugging, Ethan absently began gathering a stack of papers on the desk.  "I think that I'd like to see where it goes," he replied.  "She's a very exciting woman."

"But how serious can it get?  She lives in Denver.  She won’t be in L.A. forever.”

"I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Ethan said.  The truth was his relationship with Janet was a mere distraction for the time being.  True, she was vital and attractive and he respected her but he didn't see it lasting.  Relationships were out of the question until he really got over the pain over losing Brooke.

"Ethan, I've warned you about this woman," Will continued, unable to hide the paternal instinct to protect his son.  "Her reputation precedes her.  I'm surprised you'd want to get involved with her in the first place.  Are you even aware of the media circus she started with the Fallmonts back in Denver?" 

Unwilling to hear any more about his new interest in Janet, Ethan held up his hand and started to the doorway.  "I'm a big boy, Will.  I think I know how to handle myself with a reporter.  Besides, she's not interested in me for that reason.  We enjoy each other's company.  End of story."

But Will wasn't so convinced.  He rubbed his chin and wondered what Janet Harper was after. 

Hotel Terranova

Miranda ambled her way through the kitchen at Hotel Terranova, peering over Chef Antón's shoulders and watching as he masterfully created an elaborate lunch for her and James. 

"Make sure you don't use any cilantro," she goaded.  "My father hates cilantro."

The chef threw his hands up in resignation.  "I know, I know.  Now leave me alone so I can work!"

Miranda offered a good-natured laugh and turned to exit the kitchen.  She was thrilled to finally spend some time alone with her father.  Since Brooke had returned, and in particular since the baby had been born, she felt like she was no longer important to her father.  Yes, some quality time was just what they needed.

Blackthorne-Reynolds

In the meantime, James and Alex were standing in the office space they'd leased to act as headquarters for their new venture.  James looked around at the expansive suite of offices in downtown L.A. and nodded with approval. 

"This is going to be fine," he said.  "Three offices and a reception area should be good for starters.  Then as we grow we can always buy the rest of the floor."

Alex rolled her eyes and lit a cigarette.  "I don’t see why we can't buy an office building down by the marina," she complained.  "The view is much better and we're not trapped in the city with all the smog and criminals."

"The view is spectacular," James said as he looked out the forty-story window.  "I think you're just looking for reasons to get out of this, Alex.  And you're not going to.  We're in business together whether you like it or not."

"Well I don't like it!" she spat and plopped down onto a stark white sofa.

"I don't understand.  We've managed to put the past behind us.  Why are you fighting me all the sudden?  Was Marilee such a better partner than your ex-husband?"

Sighing with frustration, Alex puffed at her cigarette and tried to explain why she wasn't happy.  "It isn't that," she began.  "You know I don't bare any grudges against you, James.  We have children together.  I just don't know how Jordan's going to feel about this…"

"How nice of you to consider my feelings," said a voice from behind.

They both spun around and saw Jordan standing in the doorway, a defiant look on his tan face.  "Jordan, how did you know where I was?" Alex asked.

He strolled into the office, his hands digging deeply into his pockets.  "I phoned the driver and asked where you were," he replied.  "Alex, why didn't you tell me James was in and Marilee was out?”

Alex tried desperately to think of an easy way to tell him, but there wasn't one.  Just a few days ago Jordan had told her to stay away from James and here she was getting involved with him again.  "I was going to but I-"

"Is there a problem, Jordan?" James asked.  "I mean, why do you care who Alex does business with?  She's your wife, not a stockholder in your company."

Jordan chuckled with amusement.  "You have a lot of room to talk, James.  If I remember correctly, when you were married to her she wasn't even allowed to acknowledge my existence.  You treated her like a possession and-"

"The hell I did!" James bellowed angrily.  "You have a lot of nerve talking to me that way, Rydell!"

"Stop it!  Both of you!" Alex lamented as she stood between them.  "I can't stand all this yelling!"  She turned to Jordan and placed a hand on his heaving chest.  "James bought Marilee's shares of the company.  I had nothing to do with it.  Now I'm sorry but you're just going to have to get used to the idea of us working together."

Jordan frowned and pushed her aside as he stepped toward James.  "Why are you doing this?" he asked.  "What do you care about the natural gas industry?  You're a film producer, James.  So tell me why was it so important to you that you get in on this deal with Alex."

"Call it expanding my horizons," James replied.  "Stormy and Brett are in charge of Sunset Studios now.  I'll let them have a shot at giving Rydell Productions a run for their money."

"But why this company?" Jordan asked in an accusatory tone.  "Why my wife?  Tell me, what does Brooke think about you working with your ex-wife while she's at home taking care of your new baby?"

"Brooke is all for it," he answered quickly.  "Stepping back from the studio is the best thing I can do for my marriage right now."

Alex prayed that Jordan would understand.  She looked at him with pleading eyes and attempted to reach out to him.  "It's really not a big deal, Jordan," she began.  "If you'll just-"

But he quickly pushed her away and took a step back.  "Why is it that the two of you can never seem to stay away from each other?" he asked, then grabbed Alex by the arms and shook her hard.  "I’m your husband!  Now you’re going to be with him on a daily basis! Are you still going to tell me that you don't have feelings for him anymore?"

She looked at him with frightened eyes, twisting away from his grasp.  "You're being ridiculous!  Just get out of here, Jordan!"

He clenched his fists in anger, turned and raced back out of the office.  After he'd left, Alex looked at James and tried to calm her frazzled nerves.  Why did it have to be all or nothing with Jordan?

Brooke Taylor

Brooke walked down an upstairs hallway at the mansion and entered the nursery where Michael was napping.  She crept over to his crib and stopped dead in her tracks, gasping in terror at the sight of the empty crib. 

"Michael!" she cried and raced from the room.   Tearing down the hallway, she bounded into Gwen's room to see if she'd taken the baby in with her.  But her desperate search ended in an empty room.

Panicked, she raced down the stairs calling out for Gwen.  No one else was home in the big house and she couldn't think of where they could be.  In desperation, she began going from room to room calling out for the nanny.

Alex Reynolds

"I've applied for the drilling permits," Alex explained to James as they went over some basic information about the new business.  "As soon as we're approved, Reynolds Inc. can begin construction on the pipeline in Colorado."

"You mean Blackthorne-Reynolds," James corrected her as he looked up from a stack of papers and manila folders.

"I beg your pardon?" Alex said with a hint of animosity in her voice.

James shrugged.  "Well Alex, if I own equal shares of the company, you can't expect my name to be left out of it, can you?" 

"Fine," she said smugly.  "Reynolds-Blackthorne it is."

"I'm sorry, I guess you misunderstood.  Blackthorne-Reynolds.  It's a catchier name and I think people will more easily associate a producer's name than that of a retired actress."

Alex gasped at the insulting remark.  "I am not retired!  I'm on hiatus!  And you know how we actresses are.  We demand top billing in everything."

James's cell phone rang and he fished it out of his pocket while continuing the exchange with Alex.  "Whatever you call it.  Just let me win this once, okay?" 

"What are you talking about?" Alex guffawed.  "You've already strong-armed your way into the damn company!"

Finally James answered his phone and found a panicked Brooke on the other end.  He quickly tried to calm her down long enough to find out what had happened.  She went into a hurried explanation of the events leading up to Michael's disappearance, sobbing uncontrollably with every word.

"What?" he exclaimed in the phone.  "I'll be right home."

In a flash he was out of his seat and bounding toward the door.  "Alex, we'll have to finish this later!" he said.  "I have to get home!"  Suddenly he looked at his watch and remembered his lunch date with Miranda.  "Listen, would you call Miranda at the hotel and tell her I can't make it?"

"Okay.  James, what is it?" Alex exclaimed.  But it was too late, James was already halfway down the hallway getting on the elevator.   She threw her hands up in resignation and went back to her stack of paperwork.

Blackthorne Mansion

Twenty minutes later, James raced inside the foyer of the mansion and found Brooke crying hysterically in Leilani's arms.  He immediately intercepted her and tried shaking her until she stopped crying.

"What’s happened?" he asked.   "Has there been any sign of them?"

Brooke shook her head.  "No!  James, where could he be?"

"Did Gwen take Michael out somewhere?" James demanded, holding onto her by the shoulders and trying to get her to focus.

 "No!" she cried.  "I know she would have told me if she was taking him anywhere!"

But just at that moment, the front doors opened and Gwen entered the foyer pushing Michael in a stroller.  She smiled brightly at the welcoming committee that awaited her.

"What's going on?" she asked innocently.  "Mrs. Blackthorne, have you been crying?"

Brooke raced over to the stroller and picked Michael up in her arms.  "Oh thank God!" she cried, stroking her hand down the baby's head.

"Gwen, where the devil have you been?" James asked, rushing toward her.  "We've been frantic looking for you and Michael."

She removed the scarf covering her head and frowned with confusion.  "I told Mrs. Blackthorne that I was taking the baby out for a walk," she said.  "I'm sure I told her."

"You didn't tell me," Brooke shot back, holding Michael as tight as she could.   "I thought he was napping.  I went upstairs to get him up and he was gone.  I was so scared."

Gwen lifted a diaper bag from her shoulder and handed it to Leilani.  "Well what did you think happened?" she asked with a penetrating stare.

"I don't know.  I thought someone took him."  Brooke looked at James with a helpless expression on her face.  "James, I'm sorry for upsetting you, but if I'd known Gwen was taking him out for a walk I never would have called you out of your meeting."

James nodded and pulled her close.  "I know, Darling.  It's all right.  Why don't you take Michael upstairs and I'll be up in just a little while."

Brooke nodded, giving Gwen a final look of despair before heading up the stairs with Leilani close behind.  James turned to Gwen and saw the bewildered look on her plain, unmade face.

“Gwen, I’m sorry about all of this,” he said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Mr. Blackthorne, if I’ve done something to upset you or your wife I’ll just never forgive myself,” Gwen said, shaking her head in frustration.  “Honestly I didn’t mean to-“

James quickly hushed her concerns.  “You haven’t done anything wrong,” he said.  “I think my wife is just a little nervous about being a new mother.  She’ll learn to relax in time.  For now just make certain you tell her if you’ll be taking Michael somewhere.”

“Yes sir,” she said apologetically.

James turned and went up the stairs to the nursery where Brooke was hovering over the baby’s crib.  “Darling, are you all right?” he asked.

Brooke turned to him and shook her head.  “No.  James, I know that Gwen didn’t tell me she was taking Michael for a walk,” she said.  “He’s only a few days old, and with this rainy weather we've been having....  I would have never let her take him without me.”

James put his arms around her and pulled her close.  “Brooke, she’s our baby’s nanny.  You’ve got to learn to relax and trust her.”

Brooke shook her head in despair, looking back at Michael.  “I don’t know if I do trust her,” she said.  “Do you, James?  Can you honestly say we know enough about Gwen to trust her with our baby?”

“Yes, I can,” James insisted.  “She was my nurse for six months and she did a wonderful job.  Now why can’t you just drop this?”

She shot him a cold look and walked across the room to the dresser.  “You mean the way you dropped your manhunt for Philip?” she asked bitterly.  “Oh wait, I forgot, you haven’t dropped it, have you?  You’re still working with the police to find him.”

“I’ve got to!” he yelled.  “Brooke, this is not the same thing.  Philip kidnapped you.”

Brooke sighed and realized she was fighting a losing battle.  “All I’m asking you to do is just check into Gwen’s references again.  For our own peace of mind.”

James frowned.  “You want me to have her investigated?”

“Yes.”

He shrugged with indifference.  If it was important to Brooke then he would have to agree to it.  Anything to make her more at ease with their new nanny.   “All right, I’ll have Stormy or Brett check into it.”

Brooke smiled and fell into his arms, staring over his shoulder at the baby laying contently in his crib.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda had spent the afternoon sitting at the bar at Hotel Terranova, ordering drink after drink in hopes that she could drown her sorrows.   When her mother called to say that James couldn’t meet her for lunch, her mood quickly turned sour.  But why was she not surprised?  So what if she had the chef spend all day on a fabulous dish that she wound up picking at while sitting in her office.  So what if she commanded the hotel employees to look sharp and be on their toes when he came because after all he was the owner.

Something obviously more important had come up.  But then again what wasn’t more important than her lately?   

She gulped down the rest of a glass of wine and ordered the bartender to bring her another one.  Suddenly a shadow loomed over her and she looked up, immediately growing irritated by the sight of Ethan standing there.

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” he asked and sat down next to her.

Rolling her eyes, Miranda took the fresh glass and took a big sip.  “Don’t start,” she said weakly.  “I’ve had enough to deal with today without a lecture about drinking.  Especially from you.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Ethan asked after ordering a scotch on the rocks.

Miranda placed a hand on her forehead and shook her head.  “Don’t let me keep you,” she began.  “I’m sure you’re here to see your reporter friend.  She keeps a messy room, by the way.  I got one of the housekeepers to tell me.”

Ethan couldn’t help but smile.  He’d missed her dry sense of humor during his exile from the family.   “So let me guess,” he started.  “Your father and Brooke are married again so it’s back to the same old problems.  You’re not your daddy’s little girl anymore and-“

“Don’t try to act like you know what’s going on,” Miranda said, her words slurring together.  “This is nothing like last time.  I can actually handle Brooke.”  A pause.  “Well, sort of anyway.  But it’s not just Brooke.  It’s everything.  I’m busting my ass at this hotel trying to make my father proud of me and all he seems to care about is Stormy and Brett, or Brooke and the baby.  Hell, even the nanny gets more attention than I do.”

“It sounds like you’re jealous of a baby,” Ethan said with a smirk.

Miranda shook her head in protest, her long black hair falling around her face.  “I’m not jealous,” she said.  “I’m just mad, that’s all.  Seven months ago I was set to move out into my own house with my husband and start our own lives, then Daddy got sick and so I stayed to take care of him.  Brooke wasn’t there, Stormy wasn’t there, and you weren’t there.  I was the only one who stuck by him.  Now this baby comes along and-“

“And you’re jealous,” Ethan repeated, taking a big gulp of his drink.  “Miranda, this is exactly like last time.  Do you remember the night of James and Brooke’s rehearsal dinner?  You were drunk, much like you are now, and you acted out on your jealousy and somebody got hurt.”

She threw her hands up in the air and laughed belligerently.  “I’m not going to run the baby over with my car if that’s what you’re thinking!”

“No, that’s not what I mean,” Ethan said with a chuckle.  “But your actions do have consequences, Miranda.  You’ve go to learn to let some things go and realize that you’re not the only person in your father’s life anymore.  He has a new family now.”

The words made Miranda’s eyes sting with tears and she quickly took another big drink.  Maybe Ethan was right.  Her father had a new life now and she didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.   “Maybe I'm a horrible person for saying this, and I'm sorry, but I wish that baby had never been born.”

Ethan knew she was upset and had been drinking for a while so he didn’t react much to the hateful comment.  He reached into his jacket pocket and handed her a monogrammed red Ralph Lauren handkerchief.  Suddenly he began thinking about the baby and wondering if Brooke had been completely honest with him and James about who the father was.  

“What does he look like?” he asked.  “I mean, does he look like James?”

Miranda shrugged and dabbed her eyes with the red handkerchief.  “I don’t know.  Daddy says he’s got his smile but I don’t see it.  I really don’t know who he looks like.”

Ethan grew into a daze, wondering if maybe by seeing Michael he would be able to determine the truth.  Maybe things weren’t quite as bleak as he’d thought.  Maybe he had a baby and didn’t even know it.

Heather Blackthorne

Heather sat in the old, musty, dilapidated office building in Hollywood, cringing at the director’s cluttered desk.  Piles of papers and photographs covered the surface while stacks of dusty magazines and videotapes were strewn all over the floor.  She wanted to get the screen test over with so she could make it home in time to change for the premiere.  James had been so good to her that she didn’t want to miss the opening of his big movie.

“Sorry it’s a little bit of a mess,” said Joel, a tall dark haired man in his forties who had greasy hair and way too dark of a tan.  “We had to cut back on expenses and the first thing to go was the cleaning lady.”

Heather nodded, forcing herself to smile.  “It’s tough when money’s tight.”  She looked around the rundown office, wondering how Will knew this guy.  He didn’t seem like the type of director he usually worked with. 

“Let me get you a drink,” Joel said, walking over to a small portable bar and pouring straight vodka into a glass.

“No, that’s okay,” Heather said, afraid to touch any of the surroundings for fear that she would catch something.   Was Will serious?  Was this the director he wanted her to screen test for?  It had to be some kind of joke.

“I insist,” Joel said, his back turned to her.  He reached into his pocket and removed a small capsule.  Quick as a magician’s slight of hand, he split the capsule open and poured the white powder into the glass.  “It’ll help you relax a little.  I could tell when you came in that you were a little nervous.”

Heather decided he was probably right.   Screen tests were always a little nerve racking.  She graciously accepted the glass and took a big drink. 

Jasmes Blackthorne

James was in the bedroom dressing for the premiere when he heard the front door open and voices carry up the stairs.  He stepped out of the room and went down to the foyer where he saw Miranda sauntering inside.  Brett had come down the stairs and met up with her, immediately sensing that something was wrong.

“Miranda, are you all right?” James asked, dressed handsomely in a black tuxedo.  “I was afraid you weren’t going to make it home in time to go to the theater with us.”

She shot him an ominous look and scowled angrily.  “No, I’m not all right,” she said, starting toward the staircase with Brett.  “And I don’t want to go to the premiere.  I just want to go to bed.”

“Miranda!” James called after her.  “Did something happen?”

She stopped and pulled away from Brett, glaring wildly at her father.  “Actually just the opposite,” she replied.  Nothing happened as usual.  Do you have any idea what I went through today at Hotel Terranova because I thought you were coming?”

James shook his head.  “I’m sorry, Sweetheart.  Didn’t your mother call you to tell you I couldn’t make it?”

“Yes she called me, but that doesn’t make it okay!” Miranda screeched.  Before she knew it, the foyer was quickly filling up.  Stormy had heard the commotion and came down the hall from the game room.  Brooke walked out from the parlor holding Michael in her arms and quickly felt the tension in the room.

“Miranda, have you been drinking?” Brett asked with a frown.

“I don’t know, maybe a little,” she said with irritation.  The truth was that she felt much more sober since her talk with Ethan.  He’d said some things that had awakened her on many levels.

“Brett, why don’t you take her upstairs?” Stormy said as he approached.

Brett shot him a cool stare and ignored his domineering tone.  One thing Stormy couldn’t do was tell him what to do with his own wife.  That was something he had no say in whatsoever.

Miranda looked back at James and took a step closer.  “So what was it this time?” she asked.  “Did Brooke run away again or get kidnapped by another ex-husband?  Come on, Daddy, just tell me what was so important that you couldn’t take an hour out of your day to spend with your daughter.”

Her tantrum was quickly getting on James’s nerves.  It seemed that she hadn’t quite matured as much as he’d once thought.   Getting married and finding a career wasn’t enough for Miranda it seemed.  “Look, I’m sorry that I had to cancel but it couldn’t be helped.  Gwen took Michael out for a walk and Brooke was sick with worry.  We didn’t know where they’d gone or if they were safe-“

“You have got to be kidding me,” Miranda said angrily.  “Did you find them?”  She turned and looked at Brooke.  “Of course you did.  Michael’s right here.”

“It was just a misunderstanding,” James explained.

Miranda placed a hand on her forehead and felt the room spinning.  “The nanny took the baby for walk and suddenly it’s such a monumental event that you have to put everything else on hold?  Forgive me if I don’t understand that.  What’s next?  You call the fire department when he gets a dirty diaper?”

“That’s enough, Miranda,” James ordered.

She shook her head in despair, feeling tears threaten to explode.  “I am so sick of everyone acting like Michael is God’s gift to the Blackthornes!  We did survive before he came along, you know!”

“Miranda, let’s go up to bed,” Brett said, gently coaxing her to the staircase.

“No!” she exclaimed and pulled away from him.  “I just want to know what makes Brooke and her bastard baby so damn special!”

In a flash, James brought his hand up and slapped her clean across the face.  Her hair whipped through the air and she brought her hand up instinctively, a tear trickling down her cheek.  

“Apologize to Brooke,” James said, trembling from the anger he felt.  Now!

Miranda flashed him a defiant stare and shook her head.  “No.  I’m not going to apologize to Brooke, or to you, because I don’t care about your new family and your new life together!  The truth is, Daddy, I HATE THAT BABY!!”

The room grew eerily quiet and Miranda backed up a few steps.  She saw the hurt look in her father’s eyes but she didn’t care.  She was only giving him back what he had given to her.  She quickly ran past him and dashed out the front door into the night.

Standing awkwardly in the center of the foyer, Brett decided he needed to do something fast.  He quickly went after her but it was too late.  She had disappeared and there was no sign of her anywhere.

 


 Next time....

Will makes Janet an offer she can't refuse.  Heather finds herself in danger. Jordan asserts his jealousy over Alex's business relationship with James.  The premiere of Angel Assasin arrives.  Brooke's worst fears are realized.  

 

Read Episode 33

 

 


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