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Episode 33

 

Release Date:  August 8, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Brett and Stormy clashed over Sunset Studios business. Following her miscarriage, Gwen grew overly attached to Michael. Will sent Heather on an audition and the director drugged her. Jordan grew irate when he learned that Alex and James were in business together. Brooke insisted that James check into Gwen’s background after she took Michael for a walk without telling her. James canceled another date with Miranda, who got drunk and screamed that she wished Michael had never been born. 

 


 

Episode 33

"The Premiere"

 

Janet Harper finished her drink in the bar at Hotel Terranova and made her way across the lobby to the elevator.  It was getting late and she wanted to change clothes so she could be at the premiere of Angel Assassin before the rest of the media got there.  She wanted to be the first in line to get the scoop.    

Stepping into the elevator, she thought about Ethan and how strange he’d acted that night.  There had been something on his mind and he refused to discuss it, instead saying he was tired and wanted to go home.  After failing to change his mind, they said their goodnights and he left.  Unfortunately she had yet to get any useful information from him.  While Ethan was fun and exciting in bed, she had no use for him other than what he could do for her manuscript.

She approached her room and opened the door with her keycard.  Upon entering, she immediately saw that something was amiss.   Switching on the light, her eyes darted to a chair by the bed where Will Thomerson was seated.

“Good evening, Miss Harper,” he said with a sly grin.

“What the hell are you doing in my room?” she demanded, then wasted no time in heading for the phone to call security.  “Have you ever heard of breaking and entering?”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Will said, moving across the room and waving her manuscript in the air.  Luckily for him she wasn't expecting a search of her room.   “Very interesting reading, by the way.”

She quickly reached out and tried snatching the pages away from him.  “Give me that!” she exclaimed in frustration. 

But Will was too quick.  He held it up over his head and backed away from her, taunting her with a devilish grin.  “I’ll be happy to after you hear what I have to say.”

Janet groaned with irritation and stepped back.  “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t call the police right now and have you arrested.  You can’t just go breaking into people’s hotel rooms, you know.”

Will leafed through the manuscript and shrugged indifferently.  “This is quite a tell-all, Miss Harper,” he said, relishing the dirty details she’d written about James and his family.  “I must say you have a keen eye for details.  I particularly love the chapter about Alex Reynolds coming home and finding her husband in bed with Brooke Taylor.  It’s almost like you were there.  How did you ever get your facts?”

“I never reveal my sources,” Janet said with a smirk and sat down on the edge of her bed.  “Let’s just say a friend of a friend of Alex Reynolds was more than happy to dish the dirt with me over cocktails at the Polo Lounge.”

Impressed, Will glanced through a few more pages.  “And that affair Stormy Blackthorne had with Samantha whatsername in Denver last summer.  You were there to witness all the sordid details of that.  He probably had no idea he was the subject of your poison pen.  You must have been following that family around for weeks.  First Denver, then Phoenix-“

“Is all of this leading to something?”

Will set the pages down on the desk and poured himself a drink at the bar.  “Is it safe to assume that this is the reason you have been seeing Ethan?” he asked.  “To get more dirt for your masterpiece?”

Janet looked away, fully aware that her silence was a dead giveaway.

“I thought so,” Will continued and downed a glass of scotch.  “You know, Miss Harper, I’m aware of the problems you’ve encountered working for the Denver Tribune.   Didn’t the Fallmonts lean pretty hard on the owners to try to get you to stop printing gossip about them?”

“That’s right,” Janet said.  “They apparently don’t believe in freedom of the press.”

Will laughed heartily.  “Political families usually don’t,” he said.  “Why, Senator Fallmont himself tried to get you fired from the Tribune, didn’t he?”

Janet sighed and looked at him with a bored expression.  “What is this?  This Is Your  Life?  Look, it’s simple.  I came to L.A. to give the public what they really want.  The Blackthornes are hot right now.”

“I’m prepared to make you an offer,” Will said with a smile as if he was quite happy with himself.  “I’d like to take your manuscript and make it into a film.”

“A film?”

He nodded with excitement.  “Just think of it.  We can get the top names in the industry to star.  The Blackthornes Exposed: Secrets of A Hollywood Family.  It could be the top grossing movie of next year.”

Janet shook her head and stood up from the bed.  “It sounds nice but what do I get out of it?” she asked.  “I’ve worked hard on this story.  I want people to read it and see that I’m a serious journalist and that I’m a force to be reckoned with.”

“You can do that from Denver."

“No I can’t,” she replied.  “You said it yourself.  The Fallmonts have used their clout to limit my reporting to cat shows and ski lodge reviews.  No thank you.”

Will hesitated for a minute and then smiled gleefully.  “But there isn’t much they could do to stop you from writing any story you wanted if you owned the Tribune.”

Janet stopped in her tracks and spun around to face him.  “That’s serious money you’re talking about,” she said.  “Money that I don’t have.”

“But I do,” Will said with calculated certainty.  “I’ll buy the Denver Tribune for you, you give me the rights to your manuscript, and we’ll both be winners.  You can go back to Denver and hit the Fallmonts with everything you’ve got.  And the best part is, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.”

The prospect intrigued Janet to no end.  She rubbed her hands together and began pacing the room.  “If I own the newspaper then they can’t stop me from printing any story I want?” she asked.

“That’s right,” Will said.

She put her hands on her hips and looked at him dead on.  “Why are you so interested in making this movie?” she asked.  “I’m assuming it’s purely for revenge.  Possibly something to do with James's sister back in Kansas, and the fact that you've been taking turns destroying each other ever since.  In case you missed it, that's covered in chapter two." 

“Don’t worry.  I’ll fill in all the blanks so the public gets the real truth.”

Janet paused and considered her options carefully.  A minute later she turned to him and extended her hand.  “You’ve got yourself a deal,” she said, her eyes beaming.

Will couldn't be happier that she accepted.  At long last he'd be able to tell his side of the story, and put it out there for the whole world to see.  The Blackthornes would be sorry they ever crossed him. 

Heather Blackthorne

Heather stumbled across the office in the rundown old building in downtown Hollywood.  She tried desperately to focus but it was impossible.  A hazy cloud hung over her eyes and all she could make out were shapes and light sources.  

Placing a hand on her forehead, she teetered back and forth on her feet, growing more disoriented by the minute.  She heard voices in the room but none that registered as anyone familiar.  Soon she found it difficult to remember where she was or how she got there.  She remembered something about a screen test.  Was that it?  Was she doing a screen test?    The more she struggled to register what was going on the more confused she became. 

Slowly she reached her hands out in front of her to guide her way.  She felt the cold surface of a leather sofa and sat down quickly, laying her head down on the cushions.  The cold leather felt refreshing on her hot skin and she suddenly became aware of how thirsty she was.  Seconds later she was barely conscious at all.

Joel motioned to the director of photography and summoned the lighting guy.  While they set up their equipment, he opened the door and called in two muscular, greasy looking young men wearing navy bathrobes.  They quickly went to work at undressing Heather, then turned to Joel for further directing.

With a smirk, Joel shrugged his shoulders and called for quiet on the set.  “Action,” he said loudly.

The two men disrobed and took turns violating Heather as the red light on the camera blinked ominously.

Blackthorne Mansion

After Miranda's outburst, Brooke took the baby to the nursery and left him there while she went to console James.  It was obvious that Miranda's words hurt him deeply.  She found him in the library standing by the fireplace in a deep state of concentration.   

"James, we’ve got to go if we want to get to the theater on time," she said and approached him from behind.

Shaking his head, James stared at the flames with glazed over eyes.  "How could she say those hateful things about your and the baby?" he asked.  "My own daughter."

Brooke struggled to find words to make it all right.  She herself wasn't hurt by what Miranda had said.  She was used to her verbal abuse and didn't expect anything different from the spoiled young woman.  James, on the other hand, didn't have her thick skin.

"Having a baby in the house is an adjustment for everyone," she finally said. 

"Then why is Miranda the only one causing problems?" James retaliated and began pacing the room.  "Everyone else is perfectly happy.  Stormy, Brett, Heather - they're not getting drunk and spewing venom about an innocent little baby."

Placing a hand on his shoulder, Brooke turned him to face her.  "You know Miranda better than anybody," she began.  "She just needs time.  Don't be too hard on her."

Finally James had to smile.  "I can't believe you're defending her after the things she said.  Not just tonight, but last summer when we were planning the wedding.  Mean, hateful things.  And yet you still see the good in her.”

Brooke smiled in turn and hugged him warmly.  “I love you.”

“I love you too,” James said, somewhat more relaxed after their talk.  “Let’s see if the family’s ready and we’ll go.”  He sighed and adjusted his bow tie, finally noticing how stunning Brooke looked in her dazzling sequin gown and the necklace he’d given her on the 4th of July.  “You’re beautiful, you know that?”

“Well thank you,” she said with a giddy laugh.  Suddenly her expression dimmed and she crossed her arms hesitantly.  “James, I feel strange about leaving Michael home tonight.”

James frowned.  “It isn’t like he’ll be alone,” he said.  Gwen will be here.”

“Did you get a chance to talk to Stormy or Brett about the private investigator?” she asked.  “Are they going to check into her background?”

“I asked Brett to do it,” James announced.  “Stormy’s still getting situated at the studio and I didn’t want to burden him with another task.  If there’s anything Gwen is keeping from us, Brett will find out.”

Brooke nodded and relaxed a little.  Gwen wouldn’t risk doing anything now.  She was probably wrong about her.  She hoped so, anyway.

“I’ll have the driver pull the car around,” James said.

“Okay, I’m going to go say goodnight to Michael and I’ll be right down,” Brooke announced before leaving the room and heading up the stairs to the nursery.  When she entered the room, her heart stopped at the sight of Ethan standing beside the crib looking down at the sleeping baby.  “Ethan?” she asked in a soft, timid voice.  “What are you doing here?  How did you get in?”

He turned and looked at Brooke, immediately immersed in the old feelings they shared for each other.  Feelings that she now either denied or somehow lost over the past few months.

“Brooke,” he began, his hands in his pockets.  “You look well.”

She regarded him carefully, trying to determine his mindset.  So much had happened between them.  The affair in the Dominican Republic, lying to him and James about the baby, and then taking off to Phoenix.  She’d only seen him once since she’d gotten back.  It was easier that way.  No reminders from the past to cloud her judgement.  She was with James now and that’s where she belonged.

“So do you,” she finally replied.  “But you still haven’t answered my question.  What are you doing here?”

Ethan shrugged and looked back at Michael.  “I had to see the baby.  I ran into Miranda earlier and….well, I just had to come.  I hope you don’t mind.”

Brooke quickly walked to the crib to make sure Michael was okay.  “Well I do mind,” she said, forcing herself to sound bitter.  She’d forgotten how just being near him was enough to make her heart flutter.  “If James caught you in here he would have a fit.  You know how he feels about you.”

“What about you?” Ethan asked and stepped forward.  He couldn’t take his eyes off of her mesmerizing blue eyes.  They were just as he remembered.  “How do you feel about me?”

Keeping her back to him, she pretended to fidget with the baby’s blankets inside of the crib.  “What difference does it make now?” she asked.  “James and I are married and we have a son.  How I feel about you is irrelevant.”

“Unless Michael is really mine,” Ethan said boldly.  He knew there was still a chance that it was true.  No blood tests or DNA tests had been taken.  All they had to go on was Brooke’s word.

Quickly she spun around and slapped him across the face.  Ethan brought his hand up and ignored the stinging sensation.  “How dare you come into this house and question who the father of my baby is,” she said, her eyes threatening to explode with tears.  For so long the lying had come easily.  But now just after seeing Ethan for a few minutes it made it harder than ever.  “I told you months ago that James was the father.”

“But how do you know that for sure?”

I know!” Brooke lamented.

“Then perform a DNA test on the baby,” Ethan suggested.  “So we can find out once and for all.”

Outraged and hurt, Brooke began pounding her fists into his chest, sending him staggering back against the wall of the nursery.  “You have no right to ask me to do that!” she cried.  No right!”

After hearing the commotion, James had run up the stairs and into the nursery.  He spotted Brooke assaulting Ethan and quickly flew into action, trying desperately to get her away.    “What the hell’s going on here?” he demanded.

“You’ll never see that baby again!  Do you hear me?”  Brooke screamed.  “Never!”

Ethan cowered away, startled by Brooke’s reaction.  After James had finally calmed her down, he ducked out of the room and started to the staircase.  Quickly, James approached him and grabbed his arm with brute force.

“What are you doing in my house and what the hell did you say to upset my wife?” he yelled angrily.

Ethan looked at his uncle and shook his head with remorse.  “I’m sorry, James.  I just wanted to see the baby.  I didn’t mean to upset Brooke.”

“Well you sure did a bang up job of doing it anyway!  Now let’s get one thing straight, Ethan.  Brooke is my wife and Michael is my son. You have no right to come in here demanding anything.  Now get the hell out of here before I do something I’ll regret.”

Staring at him with pain in his eyes, Ethan started down the staircase and didn’t stop until he got to the front door.  After he’d gone, James closed his eyes and tried to put the disturbing scene out of his mind.  Why was Michael suddenly the topic of so much drama in their lives?

Brett Armstrong

Brett searched all over the house for Gwen and found her in the laundry room in the basement folding a basket of baby clothes.   He paused in the doorway and tried to find something to say to her that would smooth things over.  The last thing he needed was her blabbing the truth to anyone.

“Are you going to be okay alone with the baby?” he asked, failing at making small talk.

She frowned, barely looking back at him.  “I think I can handle taking care of a little baby,” she said.  “I am a nurse, you know.”

“I know, I just thought that after what happened you might not be ready to be around a baby, that’s all,” Brett said.  “Are you okay?”

Finally, she turned and glared at him ominously.  “God saw fit to take our baby away,” she replied.  “I just have to accept that and move on.”

“Gwen, I really am sorry about what happened,” he said, reaching his hand out and gently touching her shoulder.  “I know what I said the other day but I never meant for this to happen.  I’m sorry for not realizing how much you wanted this baby.”

She studied his face carefully, knowing better than to let him draw her in again with his smooth talk.  “You must think I’m really dumb,” she began.  “You told me to have an abortion because you didn’t want to ruin your precious position with Sunset Studios, or your ridiculous marriage to James’s daughter.   Our baby was just an inconvenience to you so you just assumed that I would brush it under the rug and forget about it.  Well I’m sorry if I have more regard for human life than you do.”

“No, you’re wrong-“ he started.  But he knew that she was right.  The affair was a mistake, and her getting pregnant was an even bigger mistake.  If anyone had found about it he would be ruined.  “Look Gwen, I can’t change what’s happened.  I really am sorry about the baby.”

Gwen relaxed a little and put down her defenses.   He sounded sincere enough, she thought to herself.  Maybe Brett wasn’t such a monster after all.

With a sly grin, he sidled up next to her and slid his hand over her shoulder.  “I just want to make sure we’re both thinking with our heads,” he continued.  “Yes, what happened was awful, but I don’t think that anyone needs to know that I was the father of your baby.”

Gwen looked at him and listened to his every word. Saving his own skin was all he careda bout.   She almost felt sick.  He was a monster.

“What would it accomplish, anyway?” Brett asked, brushing his lips against her neck and nuzzling her seductively.  “I’d be banished and you’d be fired.  We’d both be out in the cold and left with nothing.  Don’t you agree that it’s much better that we keep it to ourselves and just move on like nothing happened?”

His words disgusted her and she quickly realized that Brett didn’t have a sincere bone in his body.  He was only out for himself.  Quickly, she brought her leg up and kneed him in the crotch. 

Brett howled in pain and doubled over, hunched near to the ground as he gasped for breath.   “What the-“ he groaned.  “You bitch!  What was that for?”

“That’s for our baby,” Gwen said hatefully.  “And for me, and for your poor wife.  I don’t think any of us will be the same after you’re gone.”

Brett knelt on the floor of the laundry room and winced from the immense pain between his legs.  “What are you going to do?” he panted.

After hesitating for a minute, Gwen shrugged and gave him a coquettish smile.  “I don’t know yet,” she said.  “I’d like to see you sweat for a while first.”

As the excruciating pain subsided, Brett decided that Gwen was a threat to his livelihood and he was going to have to find a way to get rid of her.  For good.

Jordan's House

Alex stood before the dressing mirror in her and Jordan’s bedroom, admiring her flawless appearance and pushing a pair of diamond chandelier earrings through her ears.  In the reflection she spotted Jordan enter the room dressed in a burgundy tracksuit and his brownish blond hair sweaty after a jog.

“Why aren’t you dressed?” she asked and spun around with a flourish.  “I told the driver we were leaving in five minutes.  Jordan, we’re going to be late.”

“For James’s movie premiere?” Jordan asked bitterly and unzipped his jacket.  “What makes you think I’m going? “

Alex eyed him suspiciously and followed him into the bathroom where he turned on a hot shower.  “Because you don’t want to be accused of being a bad sport, do you?  How would it look if we don’t show up?  People will think you’re boycotting all premieres that don’t come out of your studio, and they’ll think I’m a jealous ex-wife.  I’m sorry, Jordan but I simply can’t allow the media to crucify us like that.”

“I’m not stopping you from going,” Jordan said and shed the rest of his clothes until he stood before her naked.   “If you want to go to James’s premiere then go, but you’ll have to do it without me.”

Alex gave a heavy sigh and turned to leave.  “Whatever.  I’m leaving.  This steam is causing havoc on my hair anyway.”   She grabbed her mink stole from the bed and started to the door when Jordan quickly approached and pulled her back.  “What are you doing?”

“Saving our marriage,” he said and pressed his hard naked body against her pristine gown.  Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her into a passionate kiss and felt himself growing aroused by her scent.

Seconds later, Alex pushed him away and stood back with a scowl embedded on her face.  “If you’re trying to swoon me into staying home with you then you can forget it,” she said bitterly.  “I told you I’m going to the premiere.  If you don’t want to go then you can stay here.”

With that, she turned and left the room.  Jordan’s mouth dropped open in awe, humiliated by the way she casually dismissed his advances.  Why was it that James Blackthorne was always more important than he was?  

Sooner or later someone would have to take something from James.  Something precious.  Then he'd know how it felt.

Camera flashes blinded James and Brooke as they stepped out of the limousine parked just outside the Mann Village Theater in Hollywood.  Reporters flocked around them, shoving microphones and tape recorders at them from every direction.  James smiled and waved congenially as he led Brooke up the red carpet to the mammoth front entrance of the theater.

Behind them, Stormy and Brett followed.  Janet Harper watched from behind the velvet rope where other reporters and media figures were gathered.  She stood beside an anchor from E! as he did his report on camera.

“James Blackthorne has just arrived with his family for the long-awaited premiere of Angel Assassin,” said the reporter into his microphone.  “A film that Blackthorne had to pull from release last year due to receiving an X rating from the MPAA.  Now after having removed several minutes of violence from the film, it’s finally being released worldwide just in time for consideration of a Filmmaker award nomination.  Everyone seems to be in attendance tonight for this gala event.  It’s a relative who’s who of Hollywood royalty tonight.”

Once inside the theater, James turned to Brett amidst a crowd of movie stars, directors and producers.   “I can’t believe we haven’t heard from Miranda,” he said.  “I don’t like it one bit.  Still no word from her?”

Brett checked his cell phone to make sure he hadn’t missed a call from his wife.  “No, she hasn’t even called,” he said.  “I’m really getting worried.  Where could she be?”

“This isn’t the first time Miranda has taken off after one of her tantrums,” Stormy said and twisted uncomfortably in his constricting tuxedo shirt.  “She’ll come home as soon as she’s done licking her wounds.”

Brooke agreed and clutched her beaded Prada bag at her side.  “I bet she’s at Hotel Terranova,” she said.  “She’ll probably come home tomorrow, James.”

But James couldn’t help but feel betrayed by his daughter’s absence.  It seemed that whenever something eventful happened she pulled one of her disappearing acts.  Last year at his wedding to Brooke she took off for Vegas, and now this, and all because she was jealous of Michael.  

What was she up to now?

Will's House

Will Thomerson sat in his study at his estate in Hollywood watching the news coverage of the premiere of Angel Assassin.  His private line rang and he casually lifted the receiver to his ear.

“It’s done,” said Joel Armitage.

“Where is she now?” Will asked.

“I checked her into a room at Hotel Terranova.”

“You what?” Will asked in a rage as he leaned forward in his red Eames lounge chair.  “James Blackthorne owns that hotel.  What if someone saw you with her?”

Joel shook his head in protest.  No one saw me with her,” he said.  “And I left your little surprise for when she wakes up.”

Will grinned and relaxed a little more.  “Good,” he said.  “Make sure I get a copy as soon as possible.  I’ve just acquired the rights to a manuscript and this home movie of yours should make for an interesting segment in the film.”

“You’ll have it first thing in the morning,” said Joel.

“Good.  And your payment will be delivered as promised.”  He hung up and watched an interview with James at the premiere at the Mann Village Theater.   He shook his head back and forth in outrage, fuming at the sight of his mortal enemy. 

Soon his revenge would be complete against the Blackthornes.  Heather had paid for her deception, and now he would make James pay for keeping his son from him.  Thanks to Janet Harper’s manuscript everything was going to work out perfectly.  They would all pay dearly.

Hotel Terranova

Room 1213 of Hotel Terranova was eerily quiet as Heather stirred awake and looked around to get her bearings.  She was groggy and had a numbing headache that she felt all the way down to her toes.    Her mouth was unbelievably dry and she felt weak and listless.

Sitting up on the bed, she looked around and realized that somehow she had ended up in a hotel room.   She looked to the end of the bed and saw the television on, white fuzzy static glowing silently on the screen.  Next to it was a videotape with a note attached to it.  In her hazy state, she stumbled across the room and read the words scrawled out on the slip of paper.  Congratulations!  Your first big role was a smash!!

Frowning, she stuck the tape in the VCR and waited for it to start.  Moments later, she saw herself laying on the sofa of an old cluttered office, the sound of cheesy disco music emanating from the background.   A flash of reality suddenly came to her and she covered her mouth in horror. 

The next thing she saw was two men coming at her, violating her in every way she could imagine.  They took turns with her while she laid there unconscious and unaware of anything going on around her.

Terrified and disgusted at the same time, she quickly ejected the tape and looked back at the note.  All she could remember was Will telling her to go to that director’s office for a screen test.  He was going to help her get into a movie.

On the other side of the note there was a cryptic message written.  Upon further examination, she became certain it was Will’s handwriting.   Next time you want to steal from me, you’d better be ready for payback.

Heather’s hands trembled uncontrollably and she dropped the note to the floor.  A few tears slid down her cheeks as the full reality of what happened began to sink in.

Blackthorne Mansion

At the Blackthorne mansion, Gwen left the nursery and went back down to the basement to gather the rest of the laundry.  She piled a heaping of baby socks and bibs in her arms and started back across the expansive basement, passing the racquetball court and the private screening room.

In her haste to leave the dark, eerie lower level of the house, she stumbled and dropped a few items from the laundry.  Sighing with frustration, she bent down to retrieve them.  As she stood back up, she leaned against the wall for a moment, long enough to secure the items in her arms. 

Without warning, the wall behind her gave way and she stumbled back a few steps into a dark, mildewy crevasse.  Frowning, she examined her surroundings and realized she’d come across a hidden door in the wall.  Somewhat unnerved, she peered into the darkness and tried to see where the opening led to.  But all she could see was blackness...

Alex Reynolds

Alex approached James after the unveiling of Angel Assassin.   She glared at Brooke who hung like a treasure on his arm.  “Excellent film, James,” she said and kissed him lightly on the cheek.  “It’s a glowing testament to your last picture as head of Sunset Studios.”      

James smiled in turn.  “And to think it almost didn’t happen thanks to you and Will Thomerson.”  He couldn’t resist the good-natured jab.

Janet Harper approached and gave Stormy a wink as she held a tape recorder out to James.  “Mr. Blackthorne, congratulations on a superb achievement,” she said.

“Thank you, Miss Harper,” James said.  “Good to see you again.”

Stormy eyed Janet suspiciously.  She seemed to keep popping up everywhere they went.  First he ran into her in Denver, then Phoenix, and now in L.A.  And the mystery only deepened by her refusal to admit why she was still hanging around their family.  What did she want? 

“Now that you’ve handed the reigns of Sunset Studios over to your son and son-in-law, what do you plan to do?” Janet continued.

“I’m starting a new business with my ex-wife,” James announced and motioned toward Alex.  Blackthorne-Reynolds is going to be the new powerhouse in the natural gas industry.  Mark my words.”

Janet smiled fondly.  “That’s quite a different tune from Hollywood.  I hope your fans can handle the news.”

“I trust my son and son-in-law to keep up the entertainment value that people have come to expect from Sunset Studios.”

“And one day your son Michael will no doubt have his hands in the business,” Janet said.

James nodded with a grin.  “You can be assured of that, Miss Harper.”

They started down the red carpet to the limo as the cameras flashed from every direction.

Jasmes Blackthorne

When they returned home, James took Brooke’s coat and gave her a kiss on the cheek.   “I’m going to go see if Miranda’s back yet,” he said.

“Okay, I’ll go check on Michael,” Brooke replied and started up the stairs to the nursery.  When she entered the room she saw that that baby wasn’t in his crib.  After a brief moment of panic, she sufficiently calmed herself down long enough to think rationally.  He probably started crying and Gwen picked him and carried him around for a while.  It seemed to be the only way he would go back to sleep sometimes. 

More than anything, she refused to get upset again the way she did the other day when Gwen had taken him out for a walk.  She disrupted the entire house, and for nothing.

Calmly, she turned and went down the hall to Gwen’s room.  After knocking, she slowly pushed the door open and peered inside.  Gwen was laying in bed reading.  The baby was nowhere in sight.

“Gwen?” she asked.  “Where’s Michael?”

The nanny looked at her with a frown and casually set her book down.  “He’s sleeping in the nursery,” she replied evenly.  “I put him to bed hours ago.”

Brooke’s eyes flashed open and she threw her hands up to her mouth.  “Oh my God,” she cried, trembling all over.  If Gwen didn’t have him then where was he?  Leilani was out for the evening and no one else was home.

Quickly she realized Miranda must have come home and got him from his crib.  She turned and ran down the hall, meeting up with James at the top of the stairs.

“Well Miranda still isn’t home yet,” James said, throwing his hands up in resignation.

What?” Brooke gasped, tears flowing from her eyes.  “James!  Michael is gone!”

“Darling, don’t get upset,” he said soothingly.  “Gwen probably has him and-“

“Gwen’s in her room!” Brooke cried.  She looked around, feeling the walls closing in on her.  “Oh my God!  Where is he?”

Just then, the front doors opened downstairs in the foyer and Miranda sauntered inside.  She looked up to the landing and saw the panic in Brooke’s eyes.  “What’s going on?” she asked.

“Miranda,” James said and rushed down the stairs.  “Did you take Michael somewhere?”

Immediately she grew defensive.   No!  Why would you think that?”

“He’s gone,” James said and turned around just as Brooke arrived at the bottom of  the stairs.  “Dear God, no.”

Miranda bit down on her lip and looked at the terror in her father’s eyes and on Brooke’s pale, listless face.  She showed no emotion as Brett and Stormy came down the hall and realized what was going on.

Stormy ran up the stairs to the nursery to see for himself.  They were right.  Michael was nowhere to be found.  He raced down to Gwen’s room and found her slipping her robe on.  She jumped with a start when he appeared in the doorway.  Stormy’s eyes traveled to the floor beside the bed where Gwen’s suitcase was laid out, halfway full of clothes. 

Downstairs in the foyer, James held onto Brooke as she cried hysterically on his shoulder.  He closed his eyes and made a futile effort to comfort her. 

Their baby was gone.  Taken from their own home into the night.

 


Next time....

Miranda remains unaccounted for.  Gwen prepares to leave town in a hurry. James suspects Philip.  Jordan is out all night. Stormy senses something is wrong with Heather.  Brett's P.I. finds a secret in Gwen's closet.  

 

Read Episode 34

 

 


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