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Episode 34

 

Release Date:  August 11, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Will offered to buy the Denver Tribune for Janet in exchange for the rights to her manuscript about the Blackthornes.  Will sent Heather on an audition with a director named Joel Armitage, who drugged her and filmed an adult movie with her as the star.  Ethan snuck into the mansion to see Michael, and then asked Brooke to have a DNA test done to prove who his father was.  Brooke unleashed her anger on Ethan and James threw him out.  Devestated after her miscarriage, Gwen theatened to expose Brett's lies, prompting Brett to vow to get rid of the meddling nanny.  Jordan grew jealous when Alex announced she was going to the premiere of Angel Assassin, then vowed to make James sorry for interfering in his marriage.  Miranda was absent from the opening, prompting her family to wonder what she was up to.  Gwen found a secret door hidden in the basement of the mansion.  After returning home from the premiere, James and Brooke learned that Michael was gone.  

 


 

Episode 34

"Into the Night"

 

It was well after midnight and yet no one was sleeping at the Blackthorne mansion in Hollywood.   Two police cars sat empty in the porte-cochere with their red and blue lights flashing silently in the night.  Inside, James and Brooke stood in the library talking to Detective Baines and two uniformed officers.  

“What time did you leave for the Mann Village Theater, Mr. Blackthorne?” Baines asked as he jotted notes down on a small pad of paper. 

James tried to think clearly amidst the chaos of the evening’s events.  He glanced next to him where Brooke sat in a flood of tears.  They were still dressed in their formal attire after returning home from the premiere of Angel Assassin.  “It was about seven o’clock,” he replied morosely. 

“And who was home while you were gone?”

“Just our nanny, Gwen Hardisty, and the baby of course.  Our housekeeper, Leilani, had the night off and she was out for the evening.”

The detective nodded and jotted the names down.  “I’ll want to talk to both of them before I leave here tonight,” he said.

“Detective Baines, what can we do to find my son?” James asked.  “Someone came into my home and took him.  I don’t see what answering these questions is going to do to bring him back.”

Brooke started sobbing uncontrollably and James quickly sat down next to her, his arm firmly placed around her waist.  “It’s all right, Darling,” he said.  “We’re going to get Michael back.  Please believe me.”

“We’re doing everything we can, Mr. And Mrs. Blackthorne,” Baines said.  “I’ve got the forensics team dusting for prints in the nursery right now.  I really need to talk to Ms. Hardisty.  She could have seen something or-“

James nodded and bounded toward the doors.  He called down the hall for Stormy or Brett, not wanting to leave Brooke’s side for an instant.  Quickly, Brett came down the hallway from the foyer where he was directing another team of investigators up to the nursery.

“Brett, would you please ask Gwen to come down here?” he asked.

Nodding, Brett dashed back down the hall to the stairs.  As he approached Gwen’s room, he heard voices from inside and quickly ducked around the corner so he was discreetly out of view.

Inside, Stormy approached Gwen as she sat silently on the edge of her bed.   “Gwen, are you going somewhere?” he asked, motioning to the half-packed suitcase on the floor of her room.

She didn’t look at him as she sat tensely on the bed.  “I’m sorry, Stormy, but I have to,” she began.  “I can’t stay here anymore.  Too much has happened.”

Frowning, Stormy stepped closer and examined her distraught eyes.  “What do you mean too much has happened?” he asked.  “Gwen, do you know something about Michael’s disappearance?  Did you hear anything?”

She quickly shook her head and dried a tear in her eye.  No,” was her defensive response.  “I just have to go.  Please-“

The sudden urgency to leave sent alarms tripping through Stormy’s head, but before he could question her further Brett entered from the hallway.

“Gwen, Detective Baines wants to speak to you,” he said.  “They’re in the library.”

Gwen stood up quickly, her eyes darting back and forth between Stormy and Brett. 

“It’s okay,” Stormy said and put a gentle hand on her shoulder.  “I’ll go with you.”

They made their way out of the room and down the hall to the staircase.  After they were safely out of view, Brett walked into the room and surveyed the suitcase Gwen had began packing. 

Why was she suddenly in a hurry to leave? he wondered to himself as he thoroughly inspected the room.  Was it because of what had transpired between them?  Was the guilt over the pills and the affair and the miscarriage too much for her?  Maybe she had decided to keep her mouth closed and just leave without saying anything to the family.

James had asked him to have her investigated in order to put Brooke’s concerns at ease.  The detective he’d contacted hadn’t reported in yet but when he did he hoped that he would have something he could use against her to keep her quiet.

But his fears quickly returned when he spotted an envelope with James’s name scribbled across the front.  He wasted no time in tearing it open and reading the contents of the letter. 

Mr. Blackthorne, I want to thank you for your kindness and your compassion over the last few months,” he began reading quietly to himself.  But I fear that I must leave your service and move on.  There is much to tell you and I’m afraid that I don’t have the courage to do it in person so I’m writing this letter.  Your son-in-law has a lethal hold over your family and I worry that my being here only makes it worse…

Brett’s eyes widened as he continued reading the rest of the letter.  In detail, Gwen had admitted the truth about the pills, their affair, and the fact that he had been the father of her baby.

His heart began beating wildly and he quickly ripped the letter into shreds, shoving the remains into his pocket and taking a deep breath before leaving the room.  He couldn’t let her ruin him, and he’d do anything to stop her. 

Blackthorne Mansion

Down in the library, Gwen sat on the leather sofa while Detective Baines questioned her about the evening’s events.  She cradled herself in her arms and rocked back and forth while James and Brooke listened intently.

“Were the main entrances to the house locked at all times after the Blackthornes left for the premiere?” Baines asked.

Gwen nodded instantly.  “Yes, the doors were locked all night.”

“And what time did you last see the baby?”

“About ten o’clock,” Gwen replied.  “I went to check on him before I turned in for the evening.”

“Did you hear anything?” the detective asked.  “Anything at all?”

Without hesitation, Gwen shook her head in reply.  “No, I didn’t hear anything until the family got home and Mrs. Blackthorne came into my room.”  She sat forward and looked at Brooke with pleading eyes.  “I’m so sorry about this, Mrs. Blackthorne.  It’s all my fault.  I should have left my door open or slept in the nursery with the baby.  I just don’t know how this could have happened.”

Brooke felt the tears coming on again and she buried her face in James’s shoulder.  He sat her down on the sofa and pulled Stormy aside.  “Call Dr. Farraday and ask him to come over,” he began.  “I’m worried about Brooke.  She’s not handling this well.”

Stormy nodded and obediently raced from the room so he could make the call in private.  On his way to the phone in the foyer, he ran into Brett who had just come down the stairs, a tense look on his face.

“Where’s Miranda?” Stormy asked.

Brett shrugged.  “Up in our room,” he said offhandedly.  “She’s exhausted.”

“How nice of her to be so concerned,” Stormy said sarcastically.   He couldn’t get over how spoiled and self-centered his sister was sometimes.  Their baby brother had just been kidnapped and she was up in bed.

“Hey, give her a break,” Brett retaliated defensively.  “You’d think you’d be a little more sympathetic to your own sister.  This is just as hard for her as the rest of the family.”

Stormy frowned and looked at him doubtfully.  “Yeah, that outburst earlier tonight really proved it,” he said, then picked up the phone to call Dr. Farraday.

AfterStormy made the call, Brett decided to fish for information about Gwen.  He had to know what he knew and if he was on to him.  “So what were you and Gwen talking about upstairs?” he asked.  “It looked like I walked in on something.”

“I don’t know yet,” Stormy said.  “But I’m going to find out.  Something’s got her running scared, that’s for sure.”

Brett prayed that Gwen wouldn’t reveal what was in her letter after she found it missing.  The last thing he needed was Stormy finding out everything he’d done.  He turned and ran up the stairs to check on Miranda.  After opening the door, he walked in and found her pacing the room like she was on pins and needles.  Something in her eyes told him she was tormented and filled with preoccupation.

“Miranda, are you okay?” Brett asked and ushered her to the bed.

She shrugged her husband’s hand off her shoulder and walked hastily across the room to the window.  “I’m fine,” she said, then looked back nervously.  “Are the police still here?”

Brett nodded, realizing she was more upset than he realized.  “Yes, they’re dusting for fingerprints and questioning Gwen right now,” he said.  “Miranda, where were you tonight?  You know how important it was to your father that you be at the premiere.  We were worried about you.”

She rolled her eyes and turned to face him.  “I doubt that my father was worried about me,” she claimed.  “You saw how angry he was earlier today.  He could care less if I was there or not.”

“That’s not true,” Brett said and tried to comfort her with a hand on her shoulder.  “Now where were you?”

She turned away again and ran her fingers along the top of the dresser.  “I just wanted to be alone for a while,” she said.  “I had a lot to think about.  Is that okay with you and my father?”

Brett sighed and dropped his hands to his sides.  “Yes, of course,” he said.  “I just wish you would have stayed and talked to me.  I want to help you through this.  You’re my wife.”

But Miranda wasn’t responsive to his plea.  She looked out the window and closed her eyes tightly.  “Brett, I’d like to be alone for a little while,” she announced.

Nodding, he turned and left the bedroom.  Outside in the hallway, he tried to determine if Miranda was still upset about the confrontation with her father, or if it was something else entirely.

Gwen Hardisty

In the library, Stormy watched Gwen’s terrified expression and wondered what was going on inside her head.  Should he tell his father and the detectives that she was planning on leaving town?  Did she really know something about Michael’s disappearance and that’s why she was leaving?

Detective Baines dropped his note pad into the pocket of his trench coat and looked at Gwen.  “Miss Hardisty, that’s all the questions I have for now,” he began.  “But if you think of anything else at all, please let me know.  The slightest detail might make all the difference in the world.”

Gwen nodded, her eyes distracted when Brett entered the room.

“And please don’t leave the city,” Baines continued.  “I’d like you to be available if we need you for anything else.”

“I can’t leave?” Gwen asked, her eyes wide and her heart pounding.  She hadn’t expected to be ordered into staying in L.A.

“Not until that baby is back with his family,” Baines replied.

Gwen nodded reluctantly and saw Stormy staring at her from across the room.  He was a little relieved by the Detective’s orders.  If Gwen was hiding something, at least now she wouldn’t be able take off and leave town.

“Thank you for everything, Gwen,” James said and guided her to the doorway.  “You can go back to you room.  We’ll see you in the morning.”

She walked in a daze down the hall to the staircase, pausing on the landing and gathering her thoughts before continuing up to her room.

Blackthorne Mansion

An hour later, James walked down the stairs and met up with Stormy who waited for him in the foyer.  “Dr. Farraday is with Brooke now,” he said.  “He gave her a sedative to calm her down.  Maybe now she’ll get some rest.”

“You need some rest too, Dad,” Stormy said and put a hand on his shoulder.  “It’s been a long night and you haven’t slowed down at all.”

James shook his head in deep concentration.  “No, I can’t sleep,” he replied.  “Not until Michael is back with us.”  He walked across the foyer and suddenly stopped, turning back to Stormy.   “Have you seen Heather?” he asked.  “She wasn’t at the premiere and she isn’t home now.”

Stormy shook his head.  “I haven’t seen her all day,” he said.  “I hope she’s okay.”

James rubbed his tired eyes.  “I hope so too,” he agreed and walked down the hall to the library where the police had set up an extensive surveillance system.  “This better work.”

Approaching from behind, Stormy watched as the officer turned knobs and pushed buttons on the phone tracing equipment.  “Me too,” he said.  “Do you really think the kidnapper will try to call?”

“The police think so,” James replied and turned toward him.

“But there wasn’t a ransom note,” Stormy insisted.  “Nobody’s made any demands for money or anything and it’s been hours.  I don’t see what all this equipment is going to do.”

“I don’t either, Son,” James replied with a faraway look in his eyes.

Frowning, Stormy pulled his father outside of the room and looked at him dead on.  “Look, I wasn’t going to say anything, but I have to tell you, Dad.  I think Gwen is hiding something,” he said quietly.

“What do you mean?”

Glancing around to make sure no one was listening, Stormy lowered his voice even further.  “Earlier tonight, after we got home from the theater, I caught her upstairs packing her suitcase,” he explained.  “She said she was leaving.  She said something about too much had happened.”

“What the devil was she talking about?” James asked, his brow furrowed.

“I don’t know, but you’ve seen how strangely she’s been acting lately,” Stormy reasoned.  “Think about it, Dad.  What if after she lost her baby something inside her snapped?  Don’t you think it’s strange that she’s been inseparable from Michael since you brought him home from the hospital?”

James shook his head.  “No, she’s his nanny.  She’s just doing her job, Stormy.  My God, you sound like Brooke.”

“How so?”

“The other day Gwen took Michael out for a walk around the grounds.  Brooke flew into a panic and thought someone had taken him.  She must have forgotten that Gwen told her before she left the house with him.”

Going over the facts in his mind, Stormy shook his head doubtfully.  “I don’t know, Dad.  I think there’s more to it than that.  I mean, what do we really know about her?”

“I know, that’s why I asked Brett to do some checking up on her,” James announced.  “Brooke had the same concerns that you do.”

“And?  What did he find out?”

James shrugged.  “Nothing yet.  We’re still waiting for word from the detective.”

Stormy realized they’d have to wait until the detective contacted them to find out what Gwen was hiding, if anything.  But one thing was for certain – she wasn’t above suspicion in Michael’s kidnapping.  She could have stashed him somewhere and was packing her things to leave town with him.   Anything was possible.

He turned back to his father and saw the determined look on his face.  “Dad, why are you so quick to discount Gwen as a suspect?” he asked.  “Do you know something?”

Just then, Detective Baines came down the hallway and met up with them.  “Mr. Blackthorne, I doubled up on that APB for Philip Whitacre,” he said.  “If he’s anywhere in the area, we’ll find him.”

“Good,” James said and nodded to the detective.  “Keep me posted.  And please make yourself at home, Detective Baines.  There’s some coffee in the library.

After the detective was out of earshot, Stormy looked at his father with a startled expression.  “You think that Philip Whitacre kidnapped Michael?” he asked.

“You’re damn right I do,” James replied with determination.  “He kidnapped Brooke and held her captive in a cabin in the mountains.  Nobody’s seen him since.”

“I just don’t see it,” Stormy argued.

“Why do you think he kidnapped Brooke?” James demanded crossly.  “Because he was angry that she left him and came back here.  Brooke said herself that he saw himself as the baby’s father.  He could have taken Michael because he wants it to be true.  Then he could lure Brooke away using my son as bait."

“But how would he have gotten into the house?  The doors were all locked and there was no sign of tampering.”

James shrugged.  “He got in before, remember?  He came in through the dining room window virtually undetected.  He took out our driver and tied him up in the supply shed.”

The facts began to add up and Stormy had to agree with his father.  “Why didn’t you say anything before?”

“I didn’t want to upset Brooke,” he replied.  “She has a soft spot for Whitacre.  To her he can do no wrong.  I told Detective Baines to intensify the search for him as soon as they arrived at the mansion tonight.”

Bewildered by the startling news, Stormy patted his father firmly on the back. “I’ll help in any way I can, Dad,” he said.  “If Whitacre took Michael he’ll regret the day he ever met the Blackthornes.”

Jordan's House

The sun had just come up over the horizon when Alex Reynolds climbed out of bed and made her way to the parlor room of her house in Beverly Hills.  Gordon had set up coffee service and an assortment of croissants and fruit, which she nibbled at while watching the morning news.

Moments later, Jordan entered from the hall and found his wife perched languorously on the sofa.  “Good morning,” he said with a biting glare.

Alex shot her sights toward him and scowled angrily. “Where the hell have you been?” she demanded.  “I got home from the theater last night and you were out.  Don’t tell me you’re just getting in.”

He shrugged and poured himself a cup of strong black coffee.  “Let’s make a deal, Alex.  I won’t ask you for your daily itinerary if you’ll extend the same courtesy to me.”

She huffed resentfully and threw her hair over her shoulder.  “I suppose this is my payback for going to James’s premiere,” she remarked.  “How childish, Jordan, really.  I mean why don’t you be a man for once and accept that I’m allowed to have male friends.  Dare I say it, even if one of them is my ex-husband.”

Ignoring her banter, Jordan strolled across the room and stood behind the sofa where he watched a news report coming on the television.  “Turn it up,” he said.  “That ex-husband you’re referring to is on the news.”

Alex frowned and turned back toward the television.  She picked up the remote and turned up the volume so she could hear the report.

“Last night’s gala premiere of James Blackthorne’s highly controversial film, Angel Assassin, was overshadowed by the apparent kidnapping of his two week old son, Michael Taylor Blackthorne,” the reporter said into the camera.

Alex gasped in horror and placed a hand on her heaving chest.  She sat forward and hung on every word from the newscast.

“Accompanying Blackthorne to the premiere was his wife, Brooke Taylor-Blackthorne, his son, Stormy and his son-in-law Brett Armstrong, both executives at Sunset Studios.  Sources say that upon returning to their Hollywood mansion, they learned that the infant - Blackthorne’s third child and Mrs. Blackthorne’s first - had been abducted from the nursery.   Authorities are not commenting on whether a ransom demand has been made, but they are sure that the culprit will be apprehended and the baby returned in a matter of hours.”

Alex switched off the television and shot to her feet in a blind panic.  “I have to go see James!” she exclaimed and raced for the doors leading into the hall. 

Jordan raced after her and pulled her back forcefully.  “No you don’t!” he yelled angrily and stared deep into her eyes.  “Alex, leave it alone!  It doesn’t concern you!"

She twisted from him grasp and stepped back.  “But James is in trouble!  I have to make sure he’s okay and I have to see if there’s anything I can do!”

Again Jordan pulled her back, restraining her with his hands clutched firmly around her frail arms.  “There isn’t anything you can do!  That’s what the police are for!  If you go over there now you’ll just be in the way!”

She shook her head in frustration.  “I will not!  And if you can stay out all night long without so much as a phone call, then I can certainly go see my ex-husband in his time of need!  Now let go of me before I do something I’ll regret!”

Reluctantly, Jordan let her go and watched as she dashed up the stairs to their bedroom.  He let out a sigh and rubbed the sides of his aching head.  What was it going to take to get her to forget about James Blackthorne?  It seemed that no matter what he did to try to get her away from him she was still determined to be in his life. 

Blackthorne Mansion

The front door of the Blackthorne mansion opened and Heather walked inside, hugging her arms around herself and listlessly making her way to the staircase.  She barely noticed the armed guard standing just inside the door who had already been made aware of who was permitted inside the house.

After making her way down the hall to her bedroom, Stormy appeared from another room and spotted her ducking quietly inside.   Quickly, he ran after her, the morning newspaper gripped tightly in his hand. 

“Heather?” he asked, knocking lightly on her door.

“Please go away,” she called in a faint voice.

But Stormy didn’t give up so easily.  He casually pushed the door open and found her sitting on the bed, her makeup smeared and her hair matted to her face.  “Heather, are you okay?” he asked.

She waited a beat and then nodded slowly.  She felt numb after everything she’d been through.  The reality of what Will Thomerson had sent her to do was horrifying and left a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach.   It was all because of Brett, she decided.  If she hadn’t agreed to steal for him none of this would have happened.  But Will found out about the betrayal and paid her back in spades.  Now she was left feeling humiliated.

“Where have you been all night?” he asked.  “You didn’t show up at the premiere and you didn’t sleep in your bed. “  He sat down next to her.  “Should I be jealous?” he added in hopes that she would manage a smile.

But she knew she couldn’t tell him what happened.  She couldn’t tell anyone.  She’d destroyed the tape after watching it and left Hotel Terranova undetected.  All she wanted to do was forget about the disgusting film she’d been tricked into starring in.

Realizing she was in no mood for jokes, Stormy decided to fill her in on what had happened in the last twelve hours.  “Heather, someone took off with Michael,” he said.  “Last night while we were at the premiere.”

The news sent her careening back to reality and she shot him a look of surprise.  “Oh my God,” she whispered.  “Poor Brooke.  Poor James.  They must be going through hell.”

Stormy nodded.  “I just wanted to ask if you saw anything,” he said. “Where you here at all last night?”

She shook her head.  “No, I was out all night.”

Again he wanted to ask her where she had been, but quickly realized it was none of his business anymore.  They were divorced and she had every right to run her life the way she saw fit.

Heather looked down at the newspaper in his hand and took it from him.  She spread the pages open and stared at the front-page headline.  Blackthorne Baby Abducted.  Search For Suspect Begins.  Below the article was a picture of Philip Whitacre.  Heather took a closer look and examined the picture carefully.

“Who is this?” she asked in a whisper.

“That’s Philip Whitacre,” Stormy replied.  “Brooke’s ex-husband.  They think he might be the kidnapper.”

Staring in awe at the photograph, Heather closed her eyes and recalled vivid images from the night before…

She laid on the sofa in the run-down old office building.  Cameras were rolling and bright lights were shining in her eyes.  She was unable to move, her muscles weak and her reflexes dull.  She knew she’d been drugged.  She knew when one of the two men had entered her because she felt discomfort and pain course through her body.   Desperately she tried to open her eyes and focus.  Camera blocking instructions were shouted from the director and she felt herself being moved into another position.   Finally she could see hazy images of the muscular body that was violating her.  With his dark brooding eyes and strong jaw line he was unmistakable.  It was Philip Whitacre…

“Heather, are you okay?” Stormy asked as he tried to break her from the trance she appeared to be in. 

She finally snapped out of the daze and looked at him with shame in her eyes.  “They think Philip kidnapped Michael?” she asked.

Stormy nodded.  “Yeah.  Why?  Do you know something?”

As much as she wanted to forget about the ordeal, she had to do something to help Brooke and James.  They didn’t deserve all the pain they were in.  “I know where you can find him,” she finally said with great reluctance.

Frowning, Stormy took the newspaper and looked at the picture.  “How?” he demanded.  “Don’t tell me you’ve gotten mixed up with this guy.”

She shook her head.  “It’s not important,” she began.  “But I know where he is, or at least someone who can tell you how to find him.”

Stormy shook his head in confusion as she handed him the slip of paper Will Thomerson had given her with the director’s address on it.   “I don’t understand,” he began.

“Just hurry up,” she said, feeling a tear in her eye.  “This man knows where he is.”

Deciding to put his questions on hold for the time being, Stormy got up from the bed and raced down the hallway.

Brooke Taylor

In the meantime, Brooke was bounding inside the library where James was conferring with the officers monitoring the surveillance equipment.  He turned to her and quickly ran to cut her off at the pass.

“Darling, you should be up in bed,” he said.  “It’s still early and you need your rest.”

Shaking her head, Brooke thrust the morning newspaper at him and shot him a menacing stare.  “What is this?” she demanded.

He looked at the newspaper with Philip’s picture on the front and tried to calm her down.  “I didn’t want you to find out about this,” he began.

Why not?” Brooke lamented.  “How could you allow this to happen?  James, how could you think that Philip would kidnap our baby?  For God’s sake, I’ve told you how many times that he’s harmless.  He doesn’t want to hurt us.  I’m sure of it.”

James didn’t listen.  He was convinced he was right in his assumptions, and so were the police.  As far as he was concerned that was all that mattered.  “He kidnapped you.  What makes you think he wouldn’t do the same to our baby?  You said it yourself that he thought of the baby as his own.  Who knows what’s going on inside that head of his.  He could be using our son as bait to get to you.”

Brooke didn’t know how to reason with him.  He was adamant that Philip be persecuted for everything that went wrong in their lives.   “James, please-“

“No, I’m sorry Brooke but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him try to take you away from me again,” James interrupted.  “And if he has our baby, God help him!”

Just then, Stormy raced into the library and interrupted them.  “Dad, I think I know where we can find Whitacre.”

Without wasting a second, James followed him to the doorway.  “Let’s go!” he exclaimed, looking back at Brooke and giving her a reassuring nod of the head. 

After they’d gone, she buried her face in her hands and sunk to the sofa in a fit of despair.  She was so afraid of what would happen when they caught up with Philip. 

A creaking floorboard startled her and she looked up quickly, hoping that it was James coming back.  But instead, she found Gwen standing in the doorway.  Their eyes met in a long, penetrating stare and Brooke stood up in bated breath.

Brett Armstrong

Meanwhile, Brett was sitting in his office at Sunset Studios.  He’d gotten up and left the house early after getting a call from the detective he’d hired to investigate into Gwen’s past.   The exchange of information was something he wanted to do away from the rest of the family.  With any luck, he would find something that he could use to blackmail her into keeping her mouth shut.  After writing that letter to James, there was no telling what she would do next.  Luckily he found it when he did.

A knock at the door sent him flying to his feet and he quickly went to intercept the detective.  “Good morning, Mr. Carlyle,” he said and stood clear of the doorway.  “I’ve been expecting you.”

“I have the report you asked for,” Dennis Carlyle announced as he handed Brett a portfolio.   “I trust it’s everything you were looking for.”

Brett leafed through the pages inside and raised an eyebrow after realizing how busy Gwen Hardisty had been over the last ten years.  The information sent chills down his spine and he had to sit down after reading the first few lines.

Miscarriage at age twenty-two due to complications with stress induced labor…mental breakdown immediately after.   Two months in a mental institution.   Worked as a private nurse for a family in Paraguay after release.  Attempted murder of the mother led to incarceration for six years in a prison in Paraguay.    Returned to United States one year ago after being released on parole...

"I know how shocked you must be,” Carlyle said.  “People have a way of hiding their past even from employment background checks.  The girl’s got an innocent face.  It’s no wonder she got as far as she did.”

Brett nodded in deep concentration.  He placed the folder on his desk and gave the detective a friendly smile.  “Thank you, Mr. Carlyle.  Send us your bill and we’ll make sure you’re properly compensated.”

After the man left, Brett sat down at his desk and pored over the report again.  He’d never in a million years thought that Gwen was this messed up.  Attempted murder?  Prison in Paraguay?  She’d mentioned she spent some time there but he never guessed it was in a prison.

Suddenly the possibility of her being behind Michael’s kidnapping was real.  She’d already suffered one miscarriage eight years ago and then a breakdown afterward.  It was highly likely that after her more recent loss she would regress. 

Sorting the facts out in his mind, he realized he would have to be very cautious with the new information.  Telling James would put Gwen on the top of the suspect list.  If that happened she wouldn’t hesitate to telling everyone about their affair and their plot to keep James immobile in his wheelchair.  He couldn’t risk that. 

Blackthorne Mansion

Brooke was walking up the stairs at the mansion when Gwen ran down the hall after her.  “Mrs. Blackthorne, wait,” she called up to her.

Brooke stopped on the landing and turned toward her.  “What is it, Gwen?” she asked.

Gwen took a step forward and folded her hands in front of her.  “I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am,” she began.  “I know you blame me for Michael’s kidnapping.”

Frowning, Brooke walked back down the stairs and stood before her.  “Why would you think I blame you?” she asked inquisically. 

Something about the look in her eyes sent chills down Gwen's spine.  “Because I was the only one here when they took him,” she replied.  “I was supposed to be watching him.  I just hope you know that I feel awful about it.”

Brooke’s eyes darted around the foyer and landed back on the young woman.  “I know how much you care for Michael,” she said with just the right amount of sincerity.  “Gwen, are you sure you didn’t see or hear anything last night?  Voices or footsteps?  I mean, anything that could give us a clue.”

Gwen regarded her suspiciously.  “You don’t think it was Philip Whitacre, do you?”

With a shrug, Brooke thought about the innocence in Philip’s eyes when they were stranded up in the cabin in Big Bear.   She refused to believe that he was capable of hurting anyone.  He would never have taken her baby because he knew how it would destroy her.

“I’m going to lie down,” she finally said and walked back up the stairs.  The truth was she thought that James was going after the wrong person.  She still had suspicions about Gwen and prayed that the detective would find something.

As she reached the upstairs hallway, Miranda emerged from her room and stopped in her tracks when she spotted Brooke.

“Hello Miranda,” Brooke said, eyeing her suspiciously.  She saw that she had on her coat and appeared to be head out somewhere.  “Where are you off to?”

Miranda looked away and fidgeted with her purse strap pulled tightly over her shoulder.  “I just have a few things to do at Hotel Terranova,” she said.  “I won’t be gone long.”

She started down the stairs and Brooke called after her.  “Miranda, wait,” she said.

Stopping reluctantly, Miranda turned and looked back at Brooke.

“Your father’s been wanting to talk to you,” Brooke started.  “He’s just as upset as you are about what happened last night.  He needs you, Miranda.  Don’t pull away from him now.”

Miranda didn’t understand how Brooke could be so forgiving after the things she said to her.  It made her uncomfortable and wonder what it was she was after.  There had to be an ulterior motive to her kindness. 

“Like I said, I’ll be home after a while,” she replied before turning and going down the stairs to the front door.

Sighing, Brooke continued down the hall to her bedroom, the sick feeling over Michael's disappearance coming at her in waves.  One minute she felt confident that he would be returned safely, and the next she feared that she'd never see her baby boy again.

Later, a sliver of light illuminated the dark room where Michael lay asleep in a crib.  The gentle sounds of a musical mobil hanging above carried through the rom.  The door opened and a figure stepped inside, reaching a hand out and gently stroking the side of the baby's cheek.

 


 Next time....

James and Stormy track down Joel Armitage and come across a porn star using the name "Biff Majors".  Brooke takes her despair out on Alex.  Brett barters with Gwen over her past.  Stormy goes on a stakeout.  Renee DeWitt finds a secret in the Blackthorne mansion and the police are called.  

 

Read Episode 35

 

 


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