Baines questioned Gwen about Michael's kidnapping.
Stormy thought Gwen was hiding something when
he saw her suitcases packed in her room. Brett destroyed
a note that Gwen had planned on leaving for James,
revealing every dirty deed he'd been up to. Miranda
grew despondent and locked herself in her room,
refusing to say anything to anyone about Michael's
disappearance. Brooke grew upset when James had
the police looking for Philip in connection with
the kidnapping. Alex questioned Jordan as
to where he'd been after spending all night out
with no alibi. Heather saw a picture of Philip
in the paper and remembered him as one of the men
who had sex with her in the sex video Armitage had
directed. Brett received the report the detective
did on Gwen's past, which revealed that she'd been
in prison in Paraguay for kidnapping and attempted
James and Stormy arrived at the rundown office building
in downtown Hollywood. A squad car carrying two uniformed officers
and Detective Baines pulled up directly behind them. When they got out, James approached Baines and
held his hand up insistently.
“Let me go in first,” he said. “I want to talk to this Joel Armitage myself.”
Baines shook his head reluctantly. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t this like. I’d feel better if I went in there with you.”
“Listen, we can handle it, okay?” Stormy said
defiantly. “If he sees cops coming in
he might get scared and refuse to talk.”
Reluctantly, Baines agreed and held the officers back
while James and Stormy proceeded inside the building. Once inside, they entered an empty reception
area, the smell of scorched coffee and stale cigarettes pungent in the air.
“Hello?” James called out as they wandered through the
offices. “Anybody here?”
Moments later, Joel emerged from the back room and
stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of the unwelcome visitors. “Can I help you?”
James stepped forward and dug his hands into his
pockets. “Are you Joel Armitage?” he
“Yeah. Who are you? The cops?
Look, I’m just trying to make a living.
I have a family at home to support.” He held up a framed picture of his family,
his wife holding their newborn in her arms.
James ignored his plea, disregarding the picture while
Stormy curiously inspected several one-sheets that hung on the walls of the
outer office. “I’m looking for someone,”
he said. “I heard you might know where I
can find him.”
Joel shrugged and sat down at a desk. “Well if you’re looking for an actor then
you’ve come to the right place,” he said, pulling out several thick binders of
resumes and headshots. “I’ve got just
about every type you can think of.
Black, white, Latino, gay, uncut – you name it.”
James shook his head in confusion. He was beginning to understand what kind of
film studio this scum was running. He
looked over to Stormy who gestured to a poster of a film called Power Tools. It didn’t surprise him that Brooke’s
ex-husband was involved in the porn industry.
That appeared to be the only thing he could do with his miserable life.
“I’m looking for Philip Whitacre,” James said, dismissing
the director’s efforts to show him a stack of photos.
Joel hesitated and shook his head. “I don’t recognize that name,” he said. “Of course a lot of our actors use stage
Stormy handed over the newspaper with Philip’s picture in
it then took his place by his father’s side.
“Oh yeah,” Joel said, recalling Philip immediately. “He
goes by Biff Majors. I used him in a
shot the other day.” Then just as
quickly he tensed up, growing nervous and fidgeting with photos on his desk. “Listen, if this is about that girl…I was
told that it was legit. The guy who
hired me gave me a consent for with her signature on it.”
“What girl?” James asked with a frown.
Stormy flew into a panic, wondering if he was referring
to Heather. He still didn’t know how she
came to know where to find Philip, or how she knew about Joel Armitage. It didn’t add up, and he had a bad feeling
that she’d gotten herself mixed up in something awful.
“This actress I shot a scene with last night,” Joel
continued. “Biff was one of the actors
in the scene with her.”
“How did you meet Philip?” James asked, then quickly
corrected himself. “Biff, I mean.”
Joel shrugged. “I
was out at a bar in the Valley a few
weeks ago. The usual hangout. Lots of actors come in there looking for
work. They know what they’re after and
they know it pays well. So I meet this
guy – your friend Philip. Thought he had
the right look and he said he needed some money and a place to live. I brought him back here and had him do a screen
test.” He laughed and shrugged in spite
of himself. “Not that there’s much to a
screen test in this business, you
know. Just a matter of taking a look at
the goods if you know what I mean.”
James dismissed the remark with a wave of his hand. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. What next?”
“Well, he had the body and the merchandise so I told him
I’d get him something right away,” Joel continued. “Lots of demand for that type. Anyway, a couple days later I got a call
about a film some guy was producing. I
gave Biff a call and he made a cool grand.”
is he now?” Stormy demanded.
Joel looked at them skeptically, wondering if they were cops. He still wondered if it had anything to do
with the girl from last night. Slipping
her the GHB was extreme, even for him, but those were his orders and he was
paid well for it.
question!” James shouted angrily.
Joel replied without further hesitation.
He didn’t want to get involved in a
dispute over an actor. Whoever the guy was, Philip or Biff or
whatever he called himself, he wasn’t worth getting beaten up over. “He rented a studio apartment off Van
Nuys Boulevard next to the Michelin store. Top floor.
In a flash,
James and Stormy were darting back outside to their car. James called over to Detective Baines and
gave him the address of where they were going.
Within seconds, both cars were speeding off into the distance toward the
San Fernando Valley, dust from the gravel lot swirling
up into the air.
on the door of the Blackthorne mansion and waited impatiently until a uniformed
police officer opened it and stood authoritatively before her.
“I want to
see James,” she announced and attempted to brush her way past him.
“No one is
permitted inside the house,” the officer said and blocked her from entering.
his insulting tone, Alex placed her hands firmly on her hips and narrowed her
eyes firmly on him. “How dare you,” she
spat. “My children live in this house
and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you stop me from seeing them.”
“I’ve got my
orders,” said the officer. “Now please
turn and vacate the property.”
battle, Alex opened her mouth to respond when Brooke came down the stairs and
called after the officer. “It’s okay,”
she said. “Miss Reynolds can come in.”
stood aside and let Alex enter the house.
She traipsed through the foyer and started for the staircase when Brooke
stepped in front of her to block her path.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked.
“I want to
see my children,” she said defiantly.
“Would you please move out of my way?”
her head in irritation. She saw right
through Alex’s charade. “You’re not here
to see your children. You’re here to
“I’m sure I
don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alex said with a laugh as she touched
her diamond necklace with the tips of her fingers. “I happen to be very upset about what’s
happened. Is there anything wrong with
me wanting to spend some time with my children?
To reflect on my bond with them as their mother?”
me laugh,” Brooke shock back. “Besides,
your children aren’t here.”
With a shrug,
Alex turned and started down the hall to the study. “Fine.
Then I’ll just give James my support to let him know that I’m thinking
here either,” Brooke said and dashed over to block her way.
he?” she demanded. “Do they have any
leads on who took the baby?”
contemplated whether she should tell Alex the truth or not. She didn’t feel that she had a right to know,
but seeing as how she and James did have children together it didn’t seem right
to lie to her.
Stormy went with Detective Baines to find Philip Whitacre,” she finally
announced with some regret.
Alex asked in shock. “They think Philip
took the baby?”
nodded. “Obviously you haven’t seen the
moment to register the information, Alex thought about her brief history with
Philip. Never did she think it would end
up like this. “Well I guess James has
you to thank for this then,” she said spitefully.
“I beg your
“If you had
gotten legally divorced from him in the first place, none of this would have
happened,” Alex charged. “Honestly
Brooke, the pain you’ve caused this family since you arrived is unbelievable.”
trying to refrain from doing something she’d regret, Brooke clenched her fists
and took a deep, cleansing breath. “You
have some room to talk,” she
said. “You were the one who brought Philip here in the first place. If it wasn’t for your meddling and wanting to
break James and I up he would have never come into our lives!”
still be married to him, and that child of yours would be a bastard,” Alex
heatedly raised her hand and struck Alex across the face. Her breathing heavy and her chest heaving,
she stepped back and ran back up the stairs.
How could Alex come there and be so hateful on a day like today? Her baby had been kidnapped and all she could
do was spit her venom.
Stormy followed the police officers and Detective Baines down the musty old
corridor in an apartment building in Van Nuys.
Stepping lightly so as not to alarm him before they could make their
move, the officer in the lead reached out to the door and knocked firmly.
After a few
seconds of silence, he knocked again.
Still no answer. He looked at
Detective Baines who gave him the go ahead with a nod of his head.
Whitacre?” the officer called through the door in an authoritative tone.
sound of commotion from inside erupted and with one swift movement the officer
kicked the apartment door down. He
pulled his gun and aimed it directly at Philip who was scurrying to open a
window in the back.
called, his voice booming through the small interior.
his hands up in surrender. He was
dressed only in a pair of jeans, his bare chest heaving with panic and his face
soaked in a nervous sweat. Slowly he
turned around and came face to face
with James who glared at him with contempt.
you slimy son of a bitch!” he yelled and grabbed him by the arm, forcing him
across the room and throwing him down onto the bed. “Where is my son? Where is he, damnit?”
at him in confusion, trembling with fear as the officer pointed the gun
directly at him. He was disoriented,
having just woken up upon hearing the knocking at his door. “What are you talking about?” he asked. “What son?”
damn well what son!” James bellowed.
“The son you said should have been yours! Brooke’s and my baby! You took him last night! Now tell me where he is or do I have to beat
it out of you!?”
it easy,” Detective Baines said and stepped forward. “Mr. Whitacre, where were you last night
between the hours of ten o’clock and midnight?”
shrugged and wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “I was here,” he said. “I worked last night and I came home and went
to bed. I don’t know anything about your
baby being kidnapped.” He stood up, his
face full of concern. “Is Brooke
okay? She must be frantic.”
at him and pushed his way forward.
“You’ve got that right,” he said angrily. “What the hell did you do, Whitacre?”
Stormy aside and turned his attention back to Philip. “Did you see anyone last night who could
vouch for your whereabouts?” he asked.
“Someone who saw you during the time when the baby was taken from the
his head in irritation. “No, I don’t,” he said.
“I told you I came home and went to bed. What do I need with an alibi, anyway? Do you see
any babies around anywhere?”
have stashed him somewhere until you were ready to get out of town,” James
purported. “I know about the films
you’ve been making. After you’ve got
some cash you could take off with my son and be half way around the world.”
trippin’, man,” Philip said and pushed a long lock of greasy black hair from
his eyes. “What would I want with your
baby? Brooke chose you. She doesn’t want me.
I get it.”
stop you from kidnapping her,” James said.
“What did you plan to do, Philip?
Keep her locked up forever so she had no choice but to stay with you?”
He shook his
head adamantly. “No! I was messed up, that’s all. She took off, went back to you, left me with
nothing. I freaked out. Then she went into labor and I realized what
I’d done. She understood, man.”
“Well I don’t understand” James yelled and
grabbed him forcefully. “I swear to God
I’ll make you sorry for messing with me and my wife. You should have left town when you had the
chance.” He turned to Baines and
nodded. “I want this pretty boy arrested.”
frowned as the officers took out a pair of handcuffs. “For what?”
frustration, Philip struggled in the cold metal cuffs. “I told you I didn’t take your damn baby!”
arrest for the kidnapping of Brooke Blackthorne,” Baines said as the officers
led him outside and read him his rights.
“What?” Philip exclaimed.
Baines turned back to James and Stormy and threw his hands up in
frustration. “I don’t know, James. It looks like you’re after the wrong
guy. I think he’s telling the
truth. If he did kidnap your baby, where
and looked around the tiny one room apartment.
There didn’t appear to be any signs that a baby had ever been
there. It didn’t add up. He was certain that Philip was the kidnapper.
his arms. He wasn’t quite ready to give
up on Philip as a suspect just yet.
There had to be a way to find out if he had stashed the baby
back at the mansion and found Gwen upstairs in her room. He walked inside and watched as she rocked
back and forth on the edge of her bed, a distant look in her glazed over eyes.
began. “We need to talk.”
She looked up
at him and immediately grew agitated.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Come to steal more of my things?”
He smiled and
folded his arms across his chest. “You
mean the letter you wrote to James?” he asked wickedly. “I thought it was best that I destroy it
before it wound up in the wrong hands.”
making a mistake,” she said. “I can
always tell him to his face what a lying manipulative monster you are.”
confidence, Brett reached into his jacket and removed the portfolio from
Detective Carlyle. “I wouldn’t do that
if I were you,” he said. “This is a
report that a private investigator did on you.
You’ve led quite an interesting life, Gwen. Mental breakdowns, attempted murder,
prison. I wonder what James and Brooke
would think if they knew their nanny was a confirmed mental patient and
Flying up off the bed, Gwen raced toward him and snatched
the report from his hands. She read
through the contents and closed her eyes with regret. She knew her past
would come back to haunt her
eventually. It seemed it never went away
“I paid my debt to society,” she said and handed it back
to him. “I’ve changed.”
Brett eyed her skeptically and took a step forward. “Have you really?” he asked with a devilish
grin. “Tell me, Gwen, where did you hide
Michael last night after you took him from the nursery? You know, before we got home from the premiere
and found you innocently nestled in bed with a Danielle Steele novel?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Gwen said and
turned away from him.
But Brett persisted.
He knew he had her and that he was home free. “You do
know that once they find out about your past you’ll be their number one
suspect. Forgive me, but after losing
two babies it’s bound to have an impact on a woman. Maybe you felt like it was unjust and cruel
that each time you got pregnant it ended in tragedy. That woman in Paraguay
that you tried to kill….was it by any chance because she found you trying to
run off with her baby?”
Gwen shook her head, trembling from head to toe. “That’s a lie,” she said.
“It’s right here in the report,” Brett said with a
Finally she turned to face him, wiping the tears from her
eyes. “I paid for my crime and I was
released,” she said. “I’m never going
back to prison. Never!”
Brett shrugged indifferently. “You won’t have to as long as you keep your
mouth shut about us. You don’t tell
anyone about the pills, or our affair, or our baby.” He reached into his jacket and removed
another report. “And in return I’ll give
James my edited version of the detectives findings.”
Gwen eyed the phony report and looked at him with fear in
“My report says
that you spent six years working at an orphanage in Paraguay,
and that you were an exemplary child care giver,” he said, his voice
taunting. “Which one would you rather I
“It doesn’t matter,” Gwen said and walked across the
room. “I didn’t take that baby and no
one can prove that I did. I’ll just
explain to Mr. Blackthorne and he’ll understand that I made mistakes in the
past, but that’s just what they are – mistakes from the past.”
Brett motioned to her open suitcase on the floor. “And that’s why you decided to leave town the
night that Michael was kidnapped?”
She turned to him and glared with contempt. “Because you forced me to with your evil
ways,” she said, tears in her eyes.
Shrugging, Brett held out the two reports to her. “Either way, they won’t stand for a
criminal working for them,” he
said, watching her squirm. “It’s your
Gwen shook her head in disbelief and stepped
forward. “If you think I kidnapped Michael and you’re prepared to
keep it a secret to save your own skin, then you’re more of a monster than I
Suddenly Brett’s eyes turned ominous and bore into her
with feverish intensity. “You need to
get one thing straight,” he began, his voice dark and loathing. “I will do whatever I have to do in order to
get what I want. And what I want is to
own Sunset Studios one day. If that baby was still around, guess who
would be running it in twenty years? Not
me. That new Blackthorne heir that
everyone’s so crazy about would be in charge.
Not some outsider like me who married into the family. So don’t misunderstand me, Gwen. If that baby never comes back again it’ll
only pave the way for my success here.”
His words came through loud and clear. She pointed to the phony report and quickly
stepped back from him. “I won’t say
anything,” she said.
“Good,” Brett replied and walked back out of the
room. Once he left, he leaned against
the wall outside in the hallway. The
fact that she didn’t fight him made him realize that she probably was the kidnapper. If she was
innocent, his threats would have meant nothing to her.
When James and Stormy returned home and told Brooke of
Philip’s arrest, she became agitated, the waiting for news driving her
crazy. “I don’t understand you!” Brooke
cried as she followed James around his study.
“How could you have had him arrested when it was obvious that he didn’t
“Just because Michael wasn’t there with him doesn’t mean
he hasn’t done something to him,” James insisted. “Why are you so willing to defend that
man? He kidnapped you!”
“Yes, but I’m fine. Now our baby is gone and you’re taking
manpower away from finding the real kidnapper!” Brooke lamented. “James, forget about Philip!”
“I can’t!” James bellowed, angry that his wife was so
defensive of the man. “Do you know where
we found him, Brooke? Starring in
The news was unsettling but she didn’t back down. “So, you can’t judge him for that!” she
exclaimed. “Please just let him go so
the police can continue searching!”
Stormy interrupted and hesitantly agreed with
Brooke. “You know, Dad, she may have a
point,” he said. “Besides, if Whitacre
is keeping Michael somewhere else, how are we ever going to find him?”
James sighed and rubbed the sides of his aching
head. He realized that his wife and son
might be right. He didn’t like the idea
of letting Philip get away with what he did to Brooke, but at least they’d have
a chance of finding out what he was really up to.
“All right,” he said and picked up the phone to call
Detective Baines. “I’ll have him
Brooke took a deep breath and sighed with relief. She knew in her heart that Philip wasn’t a
monster. He couldn’t have kidnapped her
baby after everything they’d shared over the summer.
Stormy approached James after he got off the phone,
taking him aside and whispering to him in confidence. “I’m going to trail Whitacre,” he said. “If he took Michael maybe he’ll lead me to
James nodded, putting an appreciative hand on Stormy’s
shoulder. “Thank you, Son,” he
said. “Do you want me to have Brett go
with you? You might need help.”
“No, I want to do this alone.”
“Be careful,” James said and watched as Stormy fled out
of the room and down to the front door.
James walked over to Brooke and pulled her into an
embrace. “I’m sorry, Darling,” he
said. “I just want him back so
badly. This is driving me crazy. If Whitacre didn’t take him then I don’t know
who did. No one’s called or made any
ransom demands. What the hell are they
Brooke regarded him closely and clasped her hands
together as she pondered her thoughts.
“I told you before who I thought it was.”
James shook his head.
“I know you think Gwen took him, but Brooke, that doesn’t make any
sense,” he said. “Where would she have
“Well let’s find out!” she exclaimed. “She was the only one here last night and she
didn’t see or hear anything. Don’t you
think that’s strange? Why don’t we have
Detective Baines investigate her?”
The more he thought about it, the more sense it
made. “Stormy did tell me that Gwen was
planning on leaving town just after this whole thing happened,” he said.
“You see!” Brooke exclaimed. “She’s planning on leaving with our baby!”
Just then, Brett entered the study and approached James
with the phony investigator’s report he’d doctored up. “James, I’ve got that report Carlyle did on
Gwen,” he said.
“And?” James asked, taking it and leafing through the
“And she’s clean,” he said with a shrug. “She’s never so much as had a parking ticket
in her entire life. I don’t think we
have anything to worry about where she’s concerned.”
James looked up and sighed. Maybe they were both off base. Gwen certainly didn’t seem like the type to
kidnap a child from her employer.
“This doesn’t make sense,” Brooke said, taking the
portfolio from James and leafing through the sparse contents. She looked up at them and began sobbing. “Then why do I
have such a bad feeling about
James pulled her into another embrace and tried to
comfort her as Brett stood by, watching with a satisfied grin on his face.
Stormy drove his Cobra II down
Monica Boulevard, keeping an inconspicuous
distance from the old beat up Chevy.
He’d followed Philip Whitacre from the police station downtown and he
now appeared to be leading him to a seedy part of West Hollywood.
Nearing an intersection, he saw the light turn from green
to yellow but Philip proceeded through, so having no choice, Stormy pressed
down on the gas pedal and sped past the red light. Cars honked and people yelled out their
windows but he ignored them, intent on keeping up. He had to tail Philip until he was certain
that he wasn’t going to the hidden location where Michael was being kept. As hurt as Philip was over Brooke’s leaving,
there was a good chance he would want take the baby in order to lure him back
Minutes later, he saw the Chevy pull into an old
warehouse just off Sunset Strip. He
looked around at the unsavory surroundings and shuddered from the eerie feeling
that overcame him. Where was Whitacre going? he wondered as he parked his car a short
distance away, out of view from Philip’s car.
Stormy remained in his car, hidden behind dark sunglasses
and a baseball cap as he watched Philip jog up to the big garage doors and
phone in through an intercom on the front panel. Before going inside, Philip looked around
the parking lot as if checking to make sure no one was watching. Immediately, Stormy jumped out of his car and
jogged up to the warehouse.
After inspecting the intercom, he realized that the doors
were securely locked and couldn’t be opened except from inside, or by a
code. He bit down on his lip and walked
around to the side of the building, searching for another way in.
To his relief, there was a small, half-open window
several feet up. It looked large enough
for him to climb through, but he’d have to find something to boost himself
up. A quick glance around the area led
him to a giant barrel several feet way.
Without hesitation, he struggled to move it across the dirt lot and
position it underneath the window. Lifting
himself up, he stood on top of the makeshift stool and peered inside the
window. It was dark and all he could see
was rows and rows of racks housing metal film canisters.
Deciding he should take a closer look, Stormy lifted
himself up to the window and crawled through.
Once inside, he lowered himself down and dropped to the floor. He dusted his hands on his jeans and
proceeded into the warehouse. After a
quick glance through the canisters, he realized they were porn films all lined
up in rows up and down the length of the building. It appeared that he was in the production
offices of an adult film company. It
matched with what they’d learned about Philip earlier so he scouted around to
see where he’d gone.
Up ahead a few yards was a glass wall separating the
warehouse from a lounge area, an office, and a few crude movie sets. He sidled up against the wall and peered
through, spotting several cameramen and lighting technicians going about their
business. A few others directed the crew
around the set where several half-naked blondes with enormous breasts got
touchups on their makeup.
Finally he spotted Philip who was standing naked and
getting his body sprayed with oil.
Seconds later, he took his position between the legs of a fiery redhead
who was leaning against a desk in the “office scene”.
Stormy had seen enough.
He turned and started back toward the doors. It seemed that the only thing Philip had led
him to was the set of his next movie.
But what about Michael? They’d
been so sure that he was the kidnapper.
If he was, why wasn’t he going to check on the baby?
Finding a way back outside, he got back into his car and
called James to give him an update. “I
don’t know, Dad,” he said. “There just
doesn’t seem to be any reason to think Philip took Michael.”
James sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “Damnit, he’s the only lead we’ve got,” he
said. “If Philip didn’t take my son then
who the hell did?”
“Did Brett hear from the detective about Gwen?” Stormy
asked in desperation.
“Yes, and he found nothing. Well, except for the fact that she worked in
an orphanage for six years.”
Stormy pulled off his hat and scratched his head. “Doesn’t seem like the typical kidnapper,
“No,” James agreed.
“Listen, Son, why don’t you come home.
There’s nothing more you can do.
The police will be checking up on Whitacre.”
But Stormy wasn’t ready to give up. “I just want to try one more thing,” he
said. “I’ll see you a little later,
After hanging up, he nestled back in his car seat and
waited until Philip emerged from the building two hours later. It was getting late and it had almost been
twenty-four hours since Michael was taken.
If Philip was responsible, he’d lead him to him eventually. He had to.
Again, Stormy followed him in his car, this time all the
way back to his apartment in Van Nuys.
After Philip had gone inside, Stormy turned off his lights and watched
through the window on the top floor. All
he could see happening was Philip doing pulls up in the doorway and then
flexing in front of a mirror.
He watched and waited, not taking his eyes from the
Back at the Blackthorne mansion, Brooke sat in a rocking
chair in the baby’s nursery and cried silently into his blanket. She closed her eyes, letting the tears flow
as she rocked back and forth methodically.
The pain was excruciating and she didn’t know how much
more she could take. First she feared
she would lose him when she gave birth up in the cabin in the middle of a
rainstorm. But fate was on their side
and Michael was born happy and healthy.
She and James were set to start a wonderful life together. A new family and no worries from the past.
this. Now their baby was gone and she
felt helpless. Even James, who usually
commanded everything to happen according to his wishes, was futile in his
efforts to find him. And if James
couldn’t bring their baby back then who could?
Who would save her this time?
Kenny and Renee DeWitt arrived and James instructed the officer on duty to let
them pass through. With one look at his
best friend, James crumbled and broke into tears. Kenny approached, embracing him warmly and
patting him firmly on the back.
sorry, James,” Kenny said.
awful,” Renee said, dressed elegantly as ever in a flowing black gown covered
in a floor length fur. Even tragedy
didn’t stop her from looking like a million bucks. “What monster could have done this?”
James quickly regained his composure and wiped his
eyes. “Thank you so much for stopping
by,” he said. “You’re both good
friends. It means a lot to Brooke and
“Is there anything we can do?” Kenny asked as James led
them into the parlor. “Make phone
calls? Hire a private investigator? You know, Renee’s uncle is one of the best in
the business. He’s still handling cases
and he’s seventy years old.”
“He’s a regular Colombo,
James,” Renee agreed. “You just say the
word and I’ll call him.”
James shook his head and managed an appreciative
smile. “Thank you but I’ve got some of
my best men working on it,” he said.
“The police have been here since last night and Detective Baines is
working around the clock.”
“They’ll get him back,” Kenny said with a firm nod of his
head. “I know they will.”
“Kenny, while you’re here, I thought I’d give you those
old movie reels you’ve always wanted,” James said.
“Those old movies in your vault?” Kenny asked with
surprise. “James, I can’t let you do
“Nonsense,” he replied and led them back out into the
foyer. “I always said that I
would give them to you when I
got out of the business. Now here I am
starting a new venture with Alex. And
you know I’m a man of my word.”
“But you’re not retiring forever,” Kenny insisted.
“James, are you sure?”
James stopped in the doorway that led down to the
basement where the screening room and vault were located. “Kenny, you’ve been a wonderful friend to me
over the years in so many ways. You were
there for me when I had my operation, you stuck by me when Brooke left, and
you’re here now. I figure I owe you
They proceeded downstairs and James led them down a
corridor to the vault, past the screening room and laundry facilities.
“These were the first movies I made in film school and
your parents were kind enough to let me film at their cottage in Santa
Barbara,” James announced as he entered a large room
with piles of boxes and rows of film stock.
“I know how much it would mean to you to have them. That fire in ’82 destroyed most of the
buildings on that road if I remember correctly.”
“Mom used to say it was God’s will,” Kenny said with a
Renee waited in the hall for them to emerge from the
dark, eerie vault. She opened her purse
and plucked out a compact to examine her flawless appearance. Suddenly the lights flickered and the
basement went dark for several seconds.
A scream escaped from her throat and she stumbled backward, the wall
behind her giving out and sending her tumbling to the ground.
“Renee!” Kenny exclaimed and raced over to his wife. “What the-“
James stood in the hallway, his mouth gaping open in awe
at the sight of the hidden doorway.
Renee had leaned against it and it opened inward. He peered into the darkness of the long
corridor that spanned as far as the eyes could see.
“Renee, are you all right?” Kenny asked as he helped his
wife to her feet.
“Does it look like I’m all right?” she asked, dusting
herself off and becoming increasingly distraught over the incident. “Now I’m going to have to take this coat in
to be cleaned again. I’m covered in
this?” Kenny asked as he gazed inside through the darkness.
shrugged. “A passageway,” he
replied. “I never knew it was here.”
at his friend. “You’ve lived in this
house for how long and you never knew you had a secret doorway?”
replied, examining the edges of the door.
“I guess it blended in so well that I never noticed it.”
inspected the door hinges and frowned.
“It looks like it was sealed closed at
shrugged, wondering what they were so interested in a door for. “Well if it was sealed, someone obviously unsealed
it,” she said and started down the hall to the stairs. All she wanted to do was get cleaned up and
shed her filthy clothes.
James looked at each other and wondered exactly what Renee had uncovered.
About an hour
later, Miranda parked her car in the front drive and made her way into the
mansion. She rolled her eyes with
irritation when the guard stood forward and waved her on. As if she had to be permitted into her own house.
are,” Brett said as he came down the stairs.
“It’s almost midnight. Where the hell have you been all day?”
indifferently. “Didn’t Brooke tell
you? I had some things to do at Hotel Terranova.”
approached her and tried to determine her state of mind. “That was this morning,” he said. “You never work this long. Miranda, what’s going on with you? You’ve been acting strangely ever since-“
was cut short as Detective Baines and a uniformed officer emerged from the
basement steps. “Do you know where Mr.
Blackthorne is?” he asked.
wondering what was going on. “I just saw
him in the library.”
detective made his way down the hall and into the library where James and
another police officer were engaged in conversation. Brett and Miranda followed fast on their
heels, intent on finding out what was so urgent.
Blackthorne, we checked out that passageway,” Baines said.
up quickly. “And?” he asked. “Where does it lead to?”
“A lot of
different places,” Baines described.
“There are secret passageways that run all over this house.
Upstairs even. There’s so many
doors and twists and turns in there it’s like a maze. It took us half an hour just to get back to the
to be kidding,” Brett said in amazement.
How could no one have known about the secret passageways after all these
years? It didn’t add up. He looked at Miranda and shrugged. “Did you know about these tunnels?”
acknowledged his question, instead turning to the Detective and folding her
arms. “Could you tell if anyone’s been
in them lately?”
Baines’ eyes traveled to each of them in succession. “After investigating, we’re fairly certain
the tunnels had been sealed off for a number of years,” he began. “There was a thick layer of dust covering the
floor that was for the most part undisturbed.”
“For the most
part?” James asked, puzzled.
footprints,” he explained ominously.
“Some appeared to be relatively fresh.”
He reached into his pocket and removed a plastic evidence bag. “And we also found this.”
the bag from him and examined the contents through the clear plastic. “A red handkerchief?” he asked.
eyes shot back and forth between her father and the detective. She swallowed hard and quickly put her arm
“It was in
one of the tunnels just outside the nursery,” Baines continued. “There doesn’t seem to be any traces of dust
on it. I’d say it hasn’t been there very
long at all. A day or two at the most.”
“Do you know
whose it is?” Brett asked.
“It has the
initials EMB on it,” the detective replied.
“Do any of you have any idea whose initials those might be?"
just entered the room, stopping in her tracks and staring at the red
handkerchief in James’s hand.
the late news broadcast about Michael’s kidnapping, tipping a bottle of water
to his lips as he sat bare-chested on his sofa. He stared at the television in a daze,
becoming mesmerized by the constant coverage of the kidnapping.
has been made by the abductor since the infant was taken from the Blackthorne
mansion late last night,” said the news anchor.
“Authorities are not ruling out the possibility of a ransom demand being
finishing his water, Ethan set the bottle on the coffee table and reached
across the sofa where he’d tossed his jacket.
He reached inside the pocket and removed a small plush baby rattle,
smiling as he listened to the gentle purr it made when he shook it.
Another arrest is made.
Alex suspects Jordan. Stormy questions
Heather about how she knows Philip Whitacre. Brooke
goes to see Ethan. Miranda has something to