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Episode 36

 

Release Date:  August 26, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

James and Stormy tracked down Joel Armitage, then learned that Philip Whitacre has starred in some of the director's porn flicks.  They had Philip arrested, but after finding no evidence that he was the kidnapper, had him released.  Brooke took her misery out on Alex.  Brett confronted Gwen with the detective's report indicating she'd spent time in prison and in a mental hospital for kidnapping and attempted murder.  Gwen agreed to keep quiet about Brett's deeds in exchange for his creating a new, "cleaner" report to present to James.  Kenny and Renee accidentally found a hidden door in the mansion. After the police investigated a set of intricate tunnels linking every room, they found a red handkerchief with Ethan's monogram just outside the nursery.  

 


 

Episode 36

"The Case of the Red Handkerchief"

 

The flashlight shined like a beacon in the dark tunnel as James followed Detective Baines through the hidden passageway.   Forensics experts were peppered up and down the corridor, dusting for fingerprints and examining footprint markings on the floor.

“I’ve read about these old Hollywood mansions in history books,” Detective Baines said as they made their way along the narrow corridor.  “These tunnels were used as pass-throughs for servants so they wouldn’t have to go through the main house.  They could come and go as the pleased, making their way from one end to another and no one would notice.”

“Unbelievable,” James murmured under his breath, gazing around at the cobwebs and dark crevasses. 

Slowly they approached a dead-end that narrowed into a small opening.  Detective Baines reached his gloved hand out and pushed open a small hatch that emptied into the pool house in the back yard.

“The kidnapper could have came and went through here,” he said, leading a startled James into the small building on the far end of the property.  “He wouldn’t even have had to use any of the main entrances to the house.”

James stood in bewilderment, stepping out onto the pool deck and gazing up at the main house.  “I can’t believe this,” he said.  “The tunnels go all the way to the end of the property.  This is remarkable.”

Baines shrugged his shoulders.  “Who owned the house before you?”

“Jonas Lamont,” James replied. 

"Lola Lamont's husband?  The producer?"

James nodded.  "After he died and Lola retired from films I bought the house.  No one never mentioned the tunnels.”

“Over the years they were probably used less and less.  Eventually he must have had them sealed off and never thought to tell anyone about them.”

James turned to him and shook his head in confusion.  “But if I didn’t even know about them, how in the hell did the kidnapper know?”

Blackthorne Mansion

A short while later, they were back up at the house in the library, poring over old servant logs from the archives.  Brooke, Miranda and Brett were standing by, observing with bated breath as they waited for more news.

James climbed atop the ladder and scanned through volumes of old dusty books, pulling another down and placing it on the desk.  He flipped through pages and stopped when he got about halfway through, startled by what he found.

“This diagram outlines the path of the tunnels,” he said as he scanned over a large map of the house and grounds.  “Anyone could have looked at this and knew exactly how to get into the house and to the nursery without being seen.”

“So the kidnapper must be someone in this house,” Brooke said, taking a moment to pause and scan the room slowly.  She immediately thought of Gwen.  Everything kept pointing to her as the main suspect.

“What about the handkerchief?” Brett asked.  “EMB are Ethan’s initials.  It seems to me that we’re standing around here taking guesses when it’s pretty clear who the kidnapper is.”

Brooke shook her head adamantly and gave Brett a cold, threatening stare.  “That’s ridiculous!” she exclaimed.  “Ethan would never do something like that.”  She turned to James and tried to reason with him.  “James, no matter what’s happened, you’re still his uncle and I don’t believe for a minute that he would-”

“Do you want to find your baby or not?” Brett interrupted, filled with irritation.

“Of course I do!  Brett-“

“Then why is every suspect innocent in your eyes?” he continued.  “First you were certain Philip couldn’t have done it, and now Ethan.  Is it just because you slept with both of them so they’re automatically exempt?”

James quickly cut in, his eyes flaring angrily.  “Brett, that’s enough!” he yelled.  “I won’t have you talking to my wife that way!”

Backing down, Brett gave an apologetic nod and slipped his arm around Miranda. 

After a few tense moments of silence, James turned to Brooke and reached his hand out to her.  “Darling, I know it’s difficult to think about, but how else would you explain how Ethan’s handkerchief got into the tunnel outside of the nursery?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, shaking her head in despair.  “I just know that he wouldn’t have taken our baby.”

“He would he if he still believes it’s his,” James countered regretfully.  He hated to bring up the whole mess again but it was necessary.  The lie that Winter Austen perpetuated last summer must still have an impact on Ethan.  He must still believe that Winter was telling the truth about the baby being his.

Miranda fidgeted nervously with her hands, listening to the bickering and developing a splitting headache.  Michael was gone and he was still the only thing people could talk about.

Brooke buried her face in her hands and wept silently.  The irony was that Michael was Ethan’s child.  She was suddenly faced with a horrifying prospect.  If James knew the truth would he still be moving heaven and earth to find him?

“He spent a lot of time here before last summer when things got so messed up,” James continued, desperate to get his wife to listen to reason.  “He could have seen this map and found the tunnels.  You saw him the other night before the premiere.  He was here in the nursery.  He probably got in through the tunnels that night.  He practically called you a liar and said that baby was his.” 

But Brooke didn’t care how bad it looked.  She refused to believe that the man that she once cared for so much would resort to such a heinous act.   There had to be another reason for his handkerchief being found in the tunnels. 

“Would you like us to go pay him a visit?” Detective Baines asked.

James hesitated, looking at Brooke and studying her expression.  He couldn’t let her personal feelings for Ethan cloud his judgment.  The odds were stacked up too high.  He had to follow through.  “Yes,” he finally replied with some reluctance.

Hurt and angry, Brooke turned and raced out of the room and down the hall to the staircase.  She wished James would listen to her gut instincts.  She knew Ethan wasn’t a kidnapper.  But James insisted on thinking the worst of his nephew, instead of directing his suspicions at Gwen.   She didn’t care that the investigation into her background had turned up nothing.  She was still convinced she was hiding something.

“She’ll be okay,” James said back in the library.  “Detective Baines, do you want me to go with you?”

He shook his head.  “We’d better do this by the book.  I’ll call you in a while.”

With that, he motioned to the police officers and led them down the hall to the front doors where they got into the awaiting squad car.

Brooke Taylor

Upstairs, Brooke entered the nursery and felt her eyes explode with tears at the sight of the empty crib.  She wrapped her arms around herself and walked across the room, praying that a miracle would present itself and deliver her baby back into her arms.

But the reality was that the longer it took to find Michael, the less likely it was that they would get him back.  She knew the statistics.  It had been over twenty-four hours and they had no hope. 

Nestling down into the rocking chair with one of his toys, she quickly drifted off to sleep, unaware of the presence just behind her. 

A built-in bookcase along the wall was partially open, acting as a hidden doorway where Gwen hovered, watching Brooke with daunting eyes.  A few minutes later she quietly retreated into the tunnel and closed the door behind her, leaving the bookcase seamlessly flush with the wall.

She turned and walked a few yards down the small dark passageway, re-entering her bedroom through the hidden door in the walk-in closet.

Ethan's House

Ethan looked at the clock beside his bed, fully aware that it was well after two in the morning and he wasn’t the least bit tired.  It was impossible to unwind after everything that had happened in the last few days.   He got up and strolled into the living room, switching on the light and turning on the news.

A loud knock at the door sent him jumping to his feet.  His heart pounding, he grabbed a t-shirt and pulled it over his head.  “Who’s there?” he called through the door.

“Mr. Blackthorne, it’s the police.  We’d like to ask you a few questions.”

Warily, Ethan reached a nervous hand out and unbolted the door, pulling it open slowly.  “Can I help you?” 

“I’m Detective Baines,” he said as he held up his badge.  “May I come in?”

Ethan shrugged and reluctantly stood clear of the door.  The detective and a uniformed officer entered the house.  “What’s this about?” he asked.  “It’s kind of late.”

The detective gave him an apologetic smile and surveyed the living room with discerning eyes while the officer went to check the rest of the house.  “It is important, Mr. Blackthorne,” he replied.  After finding nothing out of the ordinary in the room he turned to Ethan and looked at him directly.  “It’s about the kidnapping of Michael Blackthorne.”

“What about it?” Ethan asked.

“So you are aware that the infant was taken from the Blackthorne mansion the night before last?”

Ethan nodded with a frown.  “Of course.  It’s all over the news.  What do you want to ask me about?”

“Where were you the night in question?” he asked.  “Say between eight o’clock and midnight?”

Alarmed, Ethan staggered back a step and folded his arms.  “Why?  I don’t understand.”

Baines met his stare and studied his expression.  “Is it true that you broke into the mansion earlier that evening and Mrs. Blackthorne found you in the nursery with the baby?”

Frowning, Ethan shook his head in aggravation.  “No.  I didn’t break in.  I walked in through kitchen door.”

“Why didn’t you didn’t use the front door?” he asked.  “Were you hoping no one would see you?”

“No,” Ethan replied, growing more and more flustered.  “I mean, I’m not exactly welcome there anymore and I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers so I went in through the back door.   I went up to the nursery because I wanted to see the baby.  He is my cousin.”

Detective Baines narrowed his eyes on him.  “And then Mrs. Blackthorne walked in and asked you to leave, and when you wouldn’t, her husband had to come in and force you out.  Is that right?”

Ethan sighed.  “I was going to leave.  I just-“

“Then you came back later that night, didn’t you?” Baines continued badgering him relentlessly. “While the family was at the premiere of Mr. Blackthorne’s new movie.”

“No,” Ethan responded quickly.

The officer emerged from the back of the house and shook his head.  “It’s all clear,” he said.

Slowly the detective reached into his trench coat and removed the plastic bag containing the red handkerchief.  “Is this yours?” he asked and held up the evidence.

Ethan examined the handkerchief and nodded slowly.  “Yes, it is.”

“But you say you didn’t come back into the house that night?”

“That’s right,” Ethan replied.

Certain that his hunch was right, Detective Baines pocketed the plastic bag and leveled his accusing eyes at him.  “Then how did your handkerchief get into the tunnel by the nursery?”

“Tunnel?"  Ethan asked.  “What are you talking about?”

“You got in through the pool house and accessed the nursery through the tunnels, took the baby, and exited the same way.  Isn’t that what happened?”

Ethan shook his head.  “No, you’re crazy.  I didn’t take that baby.”

Baines’ eyes shifted to the sofa for a split second, eying a small object shoved between the cushions.  He leaned over and picked up the small plush baby rattle.  “What have we got here?” he asked, shaking the toy at Ethan.  “You look a little grown up for a toy like this.”

Feeling defeated, Ethan slapped his hands to his side and bit his lip.  “I took it from the nursery,” he said.  “I just wanted something to make me feel close to the baby.  Like I said, I’m not exactly welcome in that house anymore.”

“Where is the baby now?” Baines asked directly.

“I don’t know,” Ethan said.  “I told you I didn’t take him.”

Motioning to the officer, Baines sighed with exasperation.  “Okay, we’ll do this the hard way,” he began.  “You’re under arrest for the kidnapping of Michael Blackthorne.  You have the right to remain silent.  You have the right to an attorney…”

Ethan shook his head in disbelief as the officer placed a pair of handcuffs on his wrists and tightened them securely.

Blackthorne Mansion

When the sun came up hours later, James made his way down the stairs and started out the front door when Stormy came straggling inside. 

“Son, are you just getting home?” James asked, noting the bags under Stormy’s eyes and the crinkled clothes he’d been wearing since the day before.  “Where have you been?”

“Staking out Whitacre’s apartment,” Stormy replied, wanting nothing more than to take a long hot shower and a quick nap.  “I spent the night tailing him and then waiting outside in my car for him to make a move.”

“And?” James asked.

Stormy shook his head with regret.  “I don’t know, Dad.  If Philip Whitacre did take Michael, he doesn’t have him anymore.  The only thing I can think of is that he’s paying someone to look out for him until he can make a clean getaway.”

James pondered the idea for a minute and then shook his head.  “Well, maybe and maybe not.  The police arrested Ethan last night.”

“Ethan?” Stormy exclaimed with pronounced amazement.  “Why?”

“It’s a long story,” James said.  “Brett and Miranda will fill you in.  I’m on my way downtown to the station right now.  I’ll see you later.”

Stormy stood in the foyer in shock as James barreled out of the house.  He shook his head in disbelief and started up the stairs to his room.

Jordan's House

Alex sat in bed reading the morning paper and sipping coffee and juice when Jordan came out of the shower and gave her a disgruntled look.  “So what’s on your agenda today?” he asked.  “Going into your new office so you can play grown up with James Blackthorne?”

She shot him a look full of warning.  “What’s got into you?” she asked.  “You know James isn’t thinking about work at a time like this.  His son’s been kidnapped for God’s sake.”

Jordan rolled his eyes and started to get dressed.  “And the world stops for everything going on in James Blackthorne’s life,” he said smugly.  “You know, Alex, I really question whether doing business with that man is the right thing to do.  He has more personal dramas going on than it’s safe to know about.  What if he brings you down and you lose everything you’ve put into Blackthorne-Reynolds?”

Angrily, she pushed aside her breakfast tray and shot to her feet, her nightgown billowing behind her as she strode across the room.  “You could have a little more compassion, Jordan,” she said bitterly.  “An innocent child is at stake.  No matter what jealousies you may have about me and James’s association, that child is innocent.  I just can’t believe you’re being so cold about this.  What happened to the man I married?”

He groaned with displeasure and slipped into a tailored Gucci shirt.  “He’s about to get very angry because you seem to be putting everyone else before him,” he said.  “Now when are you going to step back and put things in perspective?”

“Who do you think you are?” Alex asked with a gasp.  “You can’t just make demands and beat your chest when you’re not the center of attention at all times.  Honestly, I don’t see what this rivalry you have with James is all about.  Your studios compete with each other and that’s all.  Why must you get so personal?”

Growing more irate by the minute, Jordan rushed forward and grabbed her by the wrists, shaking her hard.  “Because that man will not seem to go away.  Here he is, married again with a child and he still has to insinuate himself into our lives.”

“So this is about our business venture again, isn’t it?” Alex demanded and shook herself free from him.

“This is about me asking you to walk away from him once and for all!” he yelled at the top of his voice.  “But you can’t do that, can you?  Because you’re still in love with him!”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“Is it?” Jordan demanded, grabbing his wallet and keys and heading for the bedroom door.  “He has everything.  He’s not getting you too.  I think losing his baby is going to teach him a lesson or two.  Maybe now he’ll know that he can’t have it all!”

After he left the room, Alex turned and shuddered from the ominous remark.  She wondered just what her husband meant by that.  And how far had he gone to pay James back for his jealousy?

Jasmes Blackthorne

James stood in the lobby at the police station with Detective Baines, his hands planted firmly on his hips as he shook his head in frustration.

“He hasn’t confessed to anything,” Baines remarked.  “And he won’t give us an alibi for his whereabouts the night your son was abducted.  He put a call into his lawyer but he’s away on business until tonight.  My guess is we won’t get any answers from him until then.”

James clenched his fists in anger.  “If he’s not talking then that means he’s hiding something.  What did he have to say about the handkerchief?”

Baines shrugged.  “He admitted that it was his, but he wouldn’t say why it was in the tunnel.  On top of that, he denies knowing anything about the tunnels.”

The prospect of his own nephew kidnapping his son was torture for James.  He knew  they had had a falling out last summer, but they were still family.  Taking his baby was beneath contempt.

“We’re running out of time, Mr. Blackthorne,” the detective said.  “If he knows where your baby is then we’ve got to get him to talk now.”

James nodded in agreement.  “I want to talk to him,” he said.

Without hesitation, Baines led James to the interrogation room and motioned for an officer to unlock the door.  Seconds later, James entered the room and found Ethan sitting at a long, rectangular wooden table with his head in his hands.

“Ethan,” he began, moving purposefully into the room and avoiding full eye contact with the young man.  It hurt him seeing him locked up like that, but if he did kidnap his son then he would make certain that he never got free. 

After a long period of silence, Ethan ruffled his hair and offered a faint smirk.  “Well, I guess you got your wish,” he began.  “You’ve wanted to see me suffer ever since last summer when you found out about me and Brooke.”

“That’s not true,” James said and shook his head.  “I was hurt and I felt betrayed.  I never wanted this.”

“So tell them to let me go,” Ethan said blankly, his eyes challenging him.

James finally met his gaze and moved a step closer.  “I’ll tell them to let you go if you look me in the eyes and tell me that you didn’t kidnap my son,” he said.

With a loud chuckle, Ethan leaned back in the hard wooden chair and folded his arms across his chest.  “Like you’d believe me,” he said.  “Ever since that whole thing with Brooke I’ve become a monster in your eyes.  I’m no longer the nephew that you took under your wing when I came to Hollywood.  Or the little boy who came to visit you from Kansas and played with Stormy and Miranda in the yard every summer.”

“No, you’re an ally of Will Thomerson’s,” James said plainly.  “My mortal enemy.  I can’t understand how you could have gone to his side the way you did.  After everything I’ve told you about him, you would do that to me?  He’s the monster, Ethan, and he’ll drag you down into hell with him if you’re not careful.”

“You didn’t leave me much of an option when you blackballed me from nearly every studio in Hollywood,” Ethan countered.  “You washed your hands of me so why should I care if I’m working for someone that you don’t particularly like?”

James took a deep breath and glanced around the barren room.   “Did he put you up to it?” he asked.

What?” Ethan asked in awe.

But James saw the look in Ethan’s eyes and he knew it was something else.  “Or is it that you still think Michael is your son?” he asked.  “Is that it, Ethan?  You still think that Winter Austen was telling the truth when she said you were the father of the baby?”

“Why would she lie?” Ethan asked in low voice.

Why would she lie?” James asked in amazement.  Why would she lie?  Are you serious?  This is Winter we’re talking about.  She fought tooth and nail to hold onto you, and when you told her to go away after she pushed Brooke down the stairs, she felt she had nothing left to lose.  She was leaving town so why not go with a bang?”

“Brooke and I were together around the time she conceived Michael, and-”

“All right, I want you to listen to me!” James bellowed and slapped the palm of his hand onto the table.  “If you want to believe Michael is your son, fine, I really don’t care at this point.  But I’m giving you thirty seconds to tell me what you’ve done with that baby and where he is.  If you don’t I swear I won’t be held responsible for what I might do.”

“I didn’t take him!” Ethan yelled.

“Well then who did?” James shouted.  “Your handkerchief was found in the tunnel outside the nursery, you can’t come up with a plausible alibi for the night of the kidnapping, and you had plenty of motive!”

Just then, the door to the room opened and Detective Baines entered.  “I’m sorry for interrupting,” he began.  “But someone has come forward with an alibi.  He says he was with Ethan the night of the kidnapping.”

James looked at him with bewilderment as Will Thomerson walked into the interrogation room, staring at James menacingly.

Brett Armstrong

Brett toweled off after taking a shower and looked at Miranda as she paced back and forth in their bedroom, wringing her hands together anxiously.  He eyed her inquisically, running his fingers through his damp blond hair and approached her from behind.

Caught off guard by his presence, she jumped and let out a shriek, then quickly pushed him away with irritation.  “Jeez, you scared me,” she said and placed a hand on her beating heart.  “What are you doing?  Aren’t you going to the studio today?”

He frowned and folded his arms across his bare chest.  “Later,” was his brief reply.  “What’s got into you, Miranda?  You haven’t been yourself lately.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked and walked across the room, absently fidgeting with a floral arrangement on the dresser.    “No one in this house is exactly in high spirits lately.  Why am I any different?”

He studied her expression and movements carefully.  “You’ve barely spent any time with the family,” he said.  “You’re always holed up in here or at the hotel.  Your father and Brooke are going crazy with Michael gone.  I’d think you’d want to lend your support at a time like this.”

She rolled her eyes and flopped down onto the bed.  “I’m sorry, am I not being a good daughter?” she asked sarcastically.  “Like my father even notices anymore.”

Brett sighed and managed a faint smile as he started to get dressed.  “I know what this about,” he began.

“You do?” she asked with surprise, looking up at him with wide eyes.

He nodded and pulled on a pair of jeans and a navy blazer over a pink Lacoste polo.  “It’s because of what happened the other night,” he described.  “That incident in the foyer when you got home from Hotel Terranova.  Miranda, if you’re worried that your father and Brooke are going to hold what you said against you, I’m sure they won’t.  They’ve probably forgotten all about it by now.  They have other things on their minds.  Besides, it isn’t the first time you’ve run your mouth off without thinking.”

Her eyes sunk to the floor and she shrugged.  “I guess you’re right,” she said, growing into a deep daze.  But she knew that they wouldn’t just forget after learning what else she’d done.

Blackthorne Mansion

Downstairs, James arrived home and ushered Brooke into the solarium just off the main staircase.   He didn’t know how he was going to tell her that yet another lead had skirted by them.  Even if this one she would be relieved to hear about.

“What is it, James?” she asked, seeing the severity in his face.   “Did you see Ethan?  Did he confess?”

He shook his head.  “Ethan has a alibi for the night Michael was taken.  He was with Will Thomerson.”

Brooke looked deep into his eyes and knew there was something he wasn’t telling her.   “But you don’t believe it, do you?” she asked.

James shook his head adamantly.  “No, I don’t,” he said.  “Brooke, he still believes Michael is his son.  That’s what you two were arguing about the other night upstairs, wasn’t it?”

“James, I told you Michael is your son,” Brooke insisted, tears threatening to explode from her eyes.  She couldn’t take much more of it.  Having to constantly lie to her husband was driving her insane.  And now with Michael gone, she felt the burden of guilt weighing even more heavily on her.   He had a right to know that Michael wasn’t his son.  And she had to tell Ethan the baby that was kidnapped was his.  But how?  After all this time?

“I know that, Darling,” James said, placing his hands on her shoulders and looking into her eyes.  “But Ethan still believes it and I think that’s why he took Michael from us.  He thinks he’s taking something that’s his.”

“But he has an alibi!” Brooke lamented and turned away from him.  “Why do you have to think the worst of him, James?  Why?  Ethan wouldn’t do something like that, no matter what he believed to be true about the baby.”

“Then how do you explain that his handkerchief was found in the tunnel?” James asked.  “He didn’t have an explanation for that.  He and that jackass are in on something together.  Who knows, maybe he’s watching the baby while he plans a getaway.  Will Thomerson would like nothing more than to see me suffer at the cost of my child.”

Brooke shook her head in despair.  “You’re being ridiculous,” she said warily.

“I am not!” James shouted just as Leilani entered the solarium with Alex directly behind her.  He collected his thoughts and turned to her with an exasperated sigh.  “Alex, what can I do for you?”

Panicked, Alex clutched to James’s arm and shot him a terrified look.  “James, I have to talk to you,” she said.  “It’s important.”

Brooke clenched her fists in anger at the intrusion.  Of course James was going to want to talk to Alex in private.  She was getting used to it by now.  “Go ahead.  I’m going out for some fresh air.”  She brushed past them and made her way across the foyer to the door.

After she’d gone, James led Alex over to the table and sat her down while she lit a cigarette and puffed heavily.  “What is so damned important?” he demanded.  “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something?  Alex, I told you I’m not even thinking about work right now.”

She shook her head in devastation. “No, it isn’t that,” she claimed. “It’s Jordan.  I’m worried, James. I think he’s…”

“You think he’s what?” James asked, still irritated by her sudden appearance.

Alex stood up and looked at him dead on.  “I think Jordan kidnapped Michael,” she announced, her hands trembling.           

“What?” James asked with a gasp.  “That’s crazy.  You’re not making any sense.”

Immediately Alex could tell he was dismissing her fears.  “You don’t understand, James, he’s crazy jealous!” she exclaimed.  “He’s always talking about how you have everything and yet you still want more.  He thinks you have some ulterior motives for buying Marilee’s shares of my company.  I think he would do anything to hurt you.”

“Alex, I have a lot of enemies and a lot of rivals,” James explained.  “If I suspected them all of kidnapping my son there wouldn’t be room enough in the jail cells!”

But Alex wouldn’t let it rest.  “We had a big fight about you the night of the premiere,” she pressed on.  “When I got home he was nowhere to be found and he didn’t come home until the next morning.”

The information caught James’s attention and he paused, wondering if Jordan Rydell would really be capable of kidnapping just to settle a score.  He’d always thought of Jordan as more of a playboy than a felon.  But maybe Alex had a point.  She obviously knew him better than he did.  Maybe he had an axe to grind and used Michael to do it.

“Will you at least check it out?” Alex pleaded.

James nearly laughed in spite of himself.  “You want me to have your husband arrested?  Is that what you’re saying?”

She shrugged and placed a hand alongside her aching head.  “No, but it wouldn’t hurt to have the police question him.  James, we can’t let him get away with this.  If he’s done something-“

He put a hand up to stop her and nodded his head.  “All right.  If you feel that strongly about it then I’ll ask Detective Baines to pay him a visit. “

Alex took a deep breath and tried to relax.  She prayed she was wrong about her husband, but something inside told her she was right on the money.

Will's House

“Why did you lie for me?” Ethan asked as he and Will arrived back at the estate up the road from the Blackthornes.  “I was home by myself when Michael was kidnapped.  I don’t think they’re going to stop pursing this, either.  Your history with my uncle could be enough for them to discredit your story.”

Will shook his head and poured them each a drink.  “You’re forgetting that I’m quickly becoming just as respected a producer in Hollywood as your dear uncle James.   My word has come to mean something in this town and if I say we were together then we were together.”

Ethan took the drink from him and studied him suspiciously.  “Aren’t you even going to ask me if I kidnapped that baby?” he asked.

Will gulped down half of his scotch and sat down in his chair.  “No,” he replied with a grin.  “I’m not.  And if you know what’s good for you you’ll keep quiet about the alibi I concocted for you.  There’s no need to go getting sanctimonious just for the sake of standing up to James Blackthorne.  Take my help and accept it for what it is.”

Confused, Ethan downed his drink and rubbed the sides of his aching head.  “Now that I’m off the hook for the time being, I’m afraid of who they’re going to accuse next,” he said, growing into a daze as he stared at the wall across the room.

Intrigued, Will leaned forward and folded his hands on the desk.  “Someone close to James, I’m sure.  He loves turning his back on his friends and family to suit his own sense of reality.  Look at what he did to you.”

Ethan nodded, his eyes glazing over.  “Someone very close to him,” he said.

“It sounds like you know who they might accuse next,” Will said.  “Do you know something that they don’t?”

Finally Ethan looked up and nodded vaguely.

“Then you have to tell them,” Will insisted, feeling his paternal instincts kicking in again.   “You can’t take the wrap for something someone else did.  You don’t owe that family anything, Ethan.  They turned their backs on you and now you’re supposed to protect them?”

Struggling with his conscience, Ethan leaned back on the sofa and weighed his options carefully.  On one hand, Will had a point.  But on the other, he couldn’t do harm to anyone intentionally.  His instinct was to protect them.

Heather Blackthorne

Stormy knocked on Heather’s bedroom door and slowly opened it.  His eyes traveled across the room where she laid on the bed listening to slow mood music.   It was obvious that something was bothering her, and he knew it wasn’t just about Michael’s kidnapping.  He was convinced it had something to do with Philip Whitacre and the sleazy porn director they’d encountered the day before.

“Heather, are you okay?" he asked, walking into the room and stopping beside her bed.

She rolled over so that her back was toward him.   “I’m fine,” she said.  “I just want to be alone, Stormy.”

But he persisted.  Heather didn’t hide her feelings unless she had a good reason for doing so.  “I can’t just leave you like this,” he said.  “Something’s wrong and I want you to tell me what it is.”

“Just go away,” she said, feeling a tear trickle down her cheek.  The memory of what Will Thomerson had done to her was still as vivid as if it were happening right now.  He found out that she’d betrayed him and he took his revenge.  Sending her to that sick director’s office was the work of a sociopath.  All she could do now was sit and wait for the video to show up somewhere.  Her poor father would be ruined when he got wind of if.  She couldn’t bare the thought.

“Listen, I need to know how you knew where we could find Philip Whitacre,” Stormy said, coaxing her relentlessly.  “He was mixed up in some seedy stuff and I would hate to think that you were mixed up in it too.”

“I said leave me alone!” Heather cried, unable to face him.  She didn’t want him to see her like this.  She didn’t fight for her dignity after he’d left her just to have him find out that she’d starred in a low budget porn flick.

Deciding that she was in no condition to talk to him, Stormy turned and reluctantly left the room.  But sooner or later she’d have to come clean and tell him what he wanted to know.

Stormy Blackthorne

A short while later, Stormy arrived in his office at Sunset Studios and began organizing piles of film scripts on his desk.  There was a lot of work that he’d neglected over the past few days since the kidnapping.  Tailing Whitacre had taken up a lot of his time and he wanted to make sure that the studio wasn’t the next thing his father lost.

The secretary buzzed his office and he quickly pressed the intercom.  “What is it, Terri?”

“There’s a Dennis Carlyle here to see you, Stormy,” said the secretary from the outer office.

Frowning, Stormy tried to place where he’d heard the name before.  After a few seconds, he suddenly remembered that Carlyle was the private detective that his father used from time to time.  He’d handled the investigation into Gwen’s background.

“Send him in,” he finally said and approached the door.

When the private investigator entered, Stormy shook his hand and gestured into the office.  “Good morning, Mr. Carlyle.  What can I do for you?”

Carlyle pursed his lips together and shrugged with a faint smile.  “I hope I’m not overstepping my bounds,” he began.  “I’ve heard about the kidnapping on the news and I know that your father has some P.I.’s working on it for him.  I just wanted to throw my hat into the ring and offer my help if it’s needed.  Mr. Armstrong seemed very pleased with my findings about Miss Hardisty.  Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t ask me at the time I gave him the report.”

Stormy shrugged with a slight chuckle.  “Well, no offense, Mr. Carlyle, but there wasn’t exactly much to your report,” he said.  “Gwen Hardisty wasn’t exactly an intriguing subject for you I’m sure.”

The detective frowned in confusion. “I realize you work in films and this is Hollywood, but attempted murder and mental breakdowns are still pretty intriguing in my opinion.”

Stormy shot him a quick look of distain.  “What did you say?”

“Well, Gwen Hardisty could star in her own life story and it would be better than most of the movies out there today,” Carlyle said with a laugh.

Stormy looked away, wondering what Brett was up to this time.

Ethan Blackthorne

Ethan arrived home later that morning and found Brooke waiting on his doorstep, bundled in a brown sable and her hair tied up off her shoulders.  He frowned, wondering if she’d come to give him the third degree much as James had earlier at the police station.

“Does James know you’re here?” he found himself asking as he unlocked the door and went inside.

“No,” Brooke replied and followed him into the house.   “I’m here because I want to tell you how sorry I am.”

Ethan threw his keys onto the table in the entryway.  “Sorry for what?”

“You spent the night in jail,” Brooke declared.  “That couldn’t have been easy for you, Ethan.  Especially since you’re innocent.”

He regarded her carefully, wondering if it was a setup.  “You think I’m innocent?”

“Yes, I do,” Brooke replied with a nod of her head.  “I told James that you couldn’t have kidnapped our baby.  Even if Will hadn’t come forward with an alibi, I still wouldn’t have believed it.”

Ethan walked across the room and rubbed his tired face in his hands.  “And how are you so sure?” he asked.  He was tired of being the scapegoat for the Blackthornes.

She thought for a minute and then smiled.  “I know you.   You were the only one who understood me for a very long time.  Maybe you still are.  But you’re not this horrible thing that James wants you to be.”

Looking into her eyes, Ethan wished things could go back to the way they were before.  They’d come so close to being happy together and now it seemed like a million years ago.

“Is that why you came here?" he asked.

Brooke shook her head adamantly.  “No, I came here because I think you know something.”  She paused, taking a step closer to him.  “How did your handkerchief get into the tunnel?”

Ethan grew into a daze and wondered if now was the time to tell the truth.  He had protected her for as long as he could but Will was right.  Unless he talked now, he would remain at the top of the suspect list.  And as long as he was suspected, the real kidnapper still had baby Michael.

“I gave it to Miranda that day,” he finally confessed.  “At the hotel.  We were talking and she was upset because James had been giving the baby all of his attention.  She started crying and I gave her the handkerchief.”

Brooke’s eyes widened in shock.  Suddenly everything began to make sense.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda found James in his study and hovered timidly in the doorway.  When he finally looked up and saw her, he managed a faint smile.  The look in her eyes took him back to when she was a little girl and had done something wrong.  She’d bat her eyelashes at him and give him a puppy dog pout until he had no choice but to put his arms around her and forgive her.  Now she was twenty-one years old and things hadn’t changed at all.

“I’m sorry, Daddy,” she said and walked over to him. 

James embraced her tightly and stroked his hand down the back of her head.  He knew she couldn’t help but say things she didn’t mean sometimes.  It was part of her personality.  And with Miranda, you took the bad with the good.

“I love you, Sweetheart,” he said and kissed the top of her head.   “I know you didn’t mean what you said.”

She closed her eyes and held onto her father with all her might.


 Next time....

Jordan, Miranda and Gwen are questioned.  Ethan is slowly welcomed back into the family.  A new suspect emerges from the past.  

 

Read Episode 37

 

 


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