was questioned by the police about his whereabouts
the night Michael was kidnapped. Angered by
Alex's devotion to James, Jordan later informed
Alex that he was leaving her. Miranda admitted
that she'd been in the tunnels the night of the
kidnapping but couldn't see who had taken the baby.
Gwen later admitted that she'd also been in
the tunnels but got lost and took hours to find
her way back to her room. Stormy confronted
Brett about the phony detective's report about Gwen.
Brett quickly turned the blame onto Gwen,
claiming that she had swapped the reports herself.
Later, an astonished Brett listened on as
Gwen corroborated his story. She later blackmailed
him for cash. On his way home, Ethan spotted
Winter Austen buying baby supplies at an all night
Torrents of Winter"
the floor of the library at the Blackthorne mansion, James wrung his hands
together as he processed the events of the past few hours. It was barely dawn and the sun was coming up
over the horizon. After several false
leads in the kidnapping of his son, they finally had a suspect that could
possibly pan out. Now the only problem
was finding her.
should be out there helping search,” Ethan said as he stood next to Miranda and
Brooke. “I feel helpless just waiting
police said they have men out searching every street north and south of Ventura Boulevard,” Stormy said from across the
room. “They’ll find Winter
eventually. She can’t hide forever.”
eventually might be too late,” Brooke said, overwrought with despair. She couldn’t bare another day not knowing
where her son was and if she would ever see him again. It had been too long already.
afraid Brooke’s right,“ Ethan agreed.
“We all know what state of mind Winter was in when she left here last
summer. She was crazy jealous of
she was the one who claimed Michael
was your son,” James announced to his nephew.
“She probably still believes it, and in her mind by kidnapping him she’s
still hanging on to you.”
God, Ethan, how could you have gotten involved with her again anyway?” Miranda
asked, shooting her cousin a cold stare.
“This is all your fault.”
fault?” Ethan argued. “You were the one
who saw someone taking Michael out of the nursery and didn’t bother to stop
them! If this is anyone’s fault it’s yours!”
you dare throw that in my face!” Miranda screeched. “I told you that by the time I knew what was
happening it was too late!”
could have called the police right away!”
wait a minute!” Brett said in Miranda’s defense. “Don’t put this on my wife! It’s your
crazy ex-girlfriend who took the baby!”
right, stop it!” James interrupted and scowled at them both. “This isn’t getting us anywhere!” He sighed and stared down into the
fireplace. The truth was if it was
anyone’s fault it was his. He was the one who arranged to get Winter and
Ethan together last spring because he was worried about how close Ethan and
Brooke were becoming. If he hadn’t been
so jealous, Winter would never have came into their lives and they wouldn’t be
in this mess now. His son would be home,
safe and warm in his crib.
entered the room with Kenny DeWitt, who shot James a look of panic and rushed
toward him. “James, I got here as soon
as I could,” he said. “Is it true? Did Winter kidnap Michael?”
nodded and placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “It looks that way, Kenny,” he said. “Ethan saw her a few hours ago buying diapers
and formula and some other supplies. It’s
the only thing that makes sense.”
Kenny nodded with regret. “Yeah, it does,” he said. “Damnit, I told her to get out of town and
never come back. I gave her a check that
should more than have covered her living expenses for a while. Why is she pulling this stunt now?”
don’t think it’s money that she’s after,” Stormy said. “She hasn’t made any ransom demands. We think it’s because she believes Michael is
Ethan’s son. In her warped mind she’s
somehow holding on to him.”
shivered at the complexity of her lies.
The ironic thing was that Winter knew exactly what she was doing. She was right about Michael being Ethan’s
son. No one else but her knew the real
I’m so sorry,” Kenny said. “If I had
known this was going to happen I would have never asked for your help.”
looked up inquisically, as did Ethan.
“Help with what?” he asked.
“Kenny, what are you talking about?”
quickly shot Kenny a look of warning. He
didn’t need to fan the flames by having everyone find out about his deal with
Kenny. Renee had been on his case to get
his mistress, Winter out of his life, so James set her up with Ethan. It was like killing two birds with one
stone. Now it seemed it was coming back
to reap vengeance on all of them.
doesn’t matter now,” James insisted.
“The important thing is that we find her before she does something
rash. She could have caused Brooke to
miscarry that night she pushed her down the staircase. If she’s capable of that then she’s capable
prospect sent chills down Brooke’s spine.
When she thought of the horrible things Winter had said and done to her
last year it made her skin crawl. There
was so much hatred and jealousy swirling around her. It was no wonder she eventually snapped and
took the baby.
only thing I don’t understand is how did she know about the tunnels?” Brett
said, stroking his hand down Miranda’s hair.
“She never lived here so she wouldn’t have had an opportunity to find
could have been in L.A. this whole time,” Stormy claimed. “Until Philip kidnapped Brooke
this place wasn’t exactly hard to gain access to.”
God, the thought of that woman creeping around our house…” James said in a low
whisper. “Watching us and planning her
move. I swear when they find her I’ll
shake the life out of her.”
“If they find her,” Brooke said, breaking
down into tears.
rushed over and put his arm around her in an effort to reassure her. “They will, Darling,” he said. “I promise you we’ll get our baby back.”
looked at Brooke and wished that he could comfort her. Even after everything that had happened he
still felt connected to her. Those
glorious days in the Caribbean they spent together before things got so messed up still
played over and over in his mind. And
deep down he knew that Michael was his son.
Whether Brooke chose to admit it or not.
town, the early morning sun filtered through the curtains of the old rundown
motel room. Winter Austen hummed merrily
to herself as she moved around the small room, picking up trash and placing it
neatly in the garbage can. Her wispy
blond hair was tied up in a ponytail on her head and she was perspiring from
the stuffy air.
know this place is kind of a dump,” she said and started over to the crib
against the wall. “But we won’t be here
for much longer. After I get our things
packed we’re going to be moving on.”
walked over to the nightstand and plucked an envelope from her purse. Fanning out a chunk of hundred dollar bills,
she smiled happily to herself. “I still
have plenty of money left. I’ve been
smart and haven’t used any that I didn’t have to. If there’s one thing my mother taught me it
was how to budget when you’re strapped for cash.”
to straighten up the room and pack things into her giant duffel bag, she found
herself smiling fondly. “Mother would be
so proud of me. She always said I would
never make anything out of my life. What do you want to be a nurse for?
she’d always ask me. Taking orders from doctors who make ten
times as much as you do. You’ll never
amount to anything, Winter. You’ll wind
up somebody’s whore and die a lonely, bitter woman. Well, now’s my chance to show mother how
wrong she was, isn’t it, Michael?”
she stopped and looked back at the crib.
“We’re going to have to find a new name for you,” she said, reaching
down with her hand and smiling sweetly.
“Michael just doesn’t suit you. I
think you look so much like your father that you should have his name. Ethan Jr.”
She paused and nodded as if agreeing with herself. “Yeah, I like that. Ethan Jr.”
with her decision, she walked over to the mirror against the wall and examined
her tired reflection. “Mother will be so
surprised when we get to Portland and she sees how far I’ve come,”
she said, taking her hair down out of the ponytail and grabbing a brush from
the dresser. “She’ll see that I’m not
the waste of skin she thought I was.”
demented scowl spread across her face and she shot her attention back to the
crib across the room. “What’s that,
Ethan Jr.?” she asked. “Will my mother
ask about your daddy?”
turned back to the mirror and traced the outline of her face against the smooth
surface. “She might,” she said in a
weary tone. “She might say that I
couldn’t hold a man if I tried. She
probably thinks that your daddy threw me out like yesterday’s garbage.” Her eyes began to tear up and she began
trembling. “You’re just a stupid
whole. You’re so stupid...you’re so
stupid, Winter. Nobody wants you. Look what happened...some man knocked you up and didn’t even want
to stick around. He chose that bitchBrooke Taylor
over you and now you’re raising his baby on your own. Nobody loves you, Winter. You’re just a stupid nurse who’s a whore and
a stupid, stupid, stupid….”
the blood ebbed down her arm and trickled past her elbow. She stopped and looked in the mirror at the
huge cracks she’d made with her fingernails.
Her thumb and index finger were scraped and bloodied and she smeared the
dark, scarlet liquid over the mirror, staring at her reflection outlined in
an unmarked police car stopped at the motel office and Detective Baines
emerged, entering the office and showing his badge to the clerk on duty who sat
behind the desk reading the Los Angeles
me, Sir. We’re looking for a young
woman,” he began, taking a photo of Winter from his jacket and flashing it
before the old, weathered man. “Her name
is Winter Austen, but she might be using an alias. Have you seen her?”
man glanced at the photo briefly and shook his head. “Nope,” he said and went back to reading the
sighed in frustration and glanced at one of the officers at his side. “Would you please look at the photo again to
make sure,” he said. “It’s very
important. She might have been traveling
with an infant.”
the man took the photo from him and squinted.
He pulled his glasses from around his neck and positioned them securely
over his nose. “She does look familiar,” he said.
“And there was a young woman
who checked in her a few nights ago.”
she have baby with her?” Baines asked.
clerk shrugged. “I think so,” he
said. “I can’t be for sure.”
rolled his eyes. “Is she still here?” he
at an alarmingly slowly pace, the clerk reached for the guest log and traced
his finger down several names. “Ah,
yes, Cathy Simms,” he said. “That’s her. She’s in room 5B. She’s been causing problems because she
hasn’t let any housekeepers in her room since she’s been here. It’s our policy to come in every day at noon
but she won’t let anyone
in. I guess she wants her privacy.”
you,” Baines said and took off out the door.
He started down the outside corridor and turned a corner, pausing when
he came to room 5B. The blinds and
curtains were drawn and he couldn’t see inside. Reaching his hand out, he knocked firmly on
the door and waited a beat.
Winter’s eyes flashed open wide and she shot across the room to the crib,
reaching down and securely snatching up her precious bundle from inside.
she said in a whisper. “Don’t cry, Ethan
Jr. They’ll go away. I won’t let them take you away from me.”
another knock at the door startled her and she backed up against the wall.
Austen, this is Detective Baines from the LAPD. We need you to open the door, ma’am.”
shook her head, glancing around the room in a panic. She wouldn’t let them take her baby. She hadn’t come this far to have everything
taken away from her.
found her!” James said as he hung up the phone in the library.
Brooke and the rest of the family shot to attention. “I’ll go with you,” Ethan said and grabbed
be careful,” Brooke said tearfully and threw her arms tightly around her
nodded and kissed her lightly on the cheek.
“I will. And I’ll bring our baby
home. I promise.”
that, he and Ethan bolted down the hall to the front door. Back in the library, Brooke wrapped her arms
around herself and walked to the window in anticipation. Miranda approached her from behind and placed
a hand gently on her arm.
by the young woman’s ever so slight act of sympathy, Brooke felt a vague smile
tinge her mouth and she took a deep breath.
It amazed her that something as horrible as Michael being taken from her
would be the event that brought the family closer together.
with a feeling of hope, she vowed that if James brought Michael home safely she
would do everything she could to mend the wounds they’d all suffered, including
telling the truth about Michael’s father.
swerved through a flood of oncoming cars and pushed the gas pedal all the way
to the floor. He glanced beside him
where James was seated in the car, a look of optimism evident on his face. He knew how much James loved Michael, and
whether he truly believed he was his son or not, he would do anything to get
God, please don’t let her hurt my baby,” James whispered under his breath as he
stared out the windshield. His eyes
welled up with tears and he quickly wiped them away as if to dismiss any signs
Ethan knew his uncle too well. He
suddenly grew sympathetic toward him for everything that had happened. It couldn’t have been easy learning that his
own nephew slept with his wife. And
even though it seemed that in the face of tragedy they were growing closer
again, the subject of Michael’s paternity was still in question. Ethan was positive he was the baby’s father,
but Brooke swore otherwise. Was he
supposed to sit back and say nothing?
Give up on the fact that he had a son?
When Michael was finally brought safely home was he supposed to fade
into the background again?
decision would have to wait. For now the
only thing that mattered was finding him and bringing him home safely.
neared the motel off Ventura Boulevard and spotted the cavalry of
police cars staked out in the parking lot.
James threw open the door and raced up to Detective Baines positioned
near the office with several uniformed officers. The detective, seeing his panicked state,
held him off with a hand held firmly before him.
is he?” James ordered. “Where’s my son?”
it easy,” Baines said and gestured to Winter’s motel room. “The manager said she’s been here for a few
days. She won’t answer the door.”
sidled up next to James and surveyed the situation. “So get the key and open the damn thing,” he
said in a rage. “What the hell are you
standing around waiting for?”
shot him a look of warning. He hated
being told how to do his job, especially by Hollywood industry types. To them it was all a big movie script. What they didn’t realize was that people in
real life got hurt in situations like this.
don’t want to scare her off or cause her to do anything drastic,” he said. “We’ve got a crisis counselor on the way to
talk to her. We need to get her out of
that room but we also need to ensure the baby’s safety.”
anyone talked to her yet?” James asked.
Baines shook his head regretfully.
how the hell do you know she’s even in there?” Ethan shouted, running his hands
through his hair and sighing with exasperation.
“Jesus, I can’t believe this!”
hold on a minute!” Baines shot back.
“I’m in charge of this operation and I’m doing this my way! If it was up to you we’d go barging in there
and we’d have a hostage situation on our hands!
We don’t know if she’s armed or how far she’s willing to go to pull this
you expect us to stand around and wait for a crisis counselor to sweet talk her
into coming out?” Ethan yelled, then leveled his eyes directly on him. “Get the manager to unlock the door now.”
shook his head in aggravation. “Listen
to me, if we set her off by barging in there-“
he’s right,” James interrupted. “If
Winter Austen has my son in there then we have to go in. Waiting is not an option.”
the detective motioned to one of the officers who then went to retrieve the
manager in the office. “This is against
my better judgment.”
rolled his eyes with irritation. “No
offense, but your judgment doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere,” he
said. “All we have to do is open the
door and get the baby from her. She’s
not going to do anything to hurt him.
She’s a nurse, for Christ’s sake.”
the manager appeared with the keys. He
bent down to the lock and quickly fumbled with the keys as he opened the
door. Baines and another officer moved
forward and entered, their weapons drawn as they surveyed the room.
are they?” James demanded as he forced his way past them and scanned the empty
check the bathroom,” Baines said to the officer and pointed across the room.
told you we were wasting time,” Ethan said as he gazed down inside the empty
crib. “She’s gone.”
later, the officer raced from the bathroom, a grim look on his face. “The bathroom window is wide open. It looks like she got out that way.”
“What?” Baines asked and raced into the
bathroom to check it out for himself.
a parking lot in the back. She’s probably
already on the road by now,” said the officer.
Ethan shouted and slammed his fist into the door so hard that it cracked the
don’t believe this,” James roared and grabbed Baines by the collar of his
trench coat. “You blew it, Baines! You let her get away with my son!”
it easy,” Baines said and forced James to release his hold on him. He turned to the motel manager with a hint
of hope in his eyes. “Do you keep
records of what cars people are driving when they check in?”
nodded, suddenly all too eager to help.
“Yes, we require them to give us that information when they check in,”
he said. “I’ll go get it for you.”
ran his fingers through his hair and turned to Ethan. He suddenly felt closer to his nephew than he
had in a long time. It was like the old
days when they were constantly there for each other throughout every
crisis. They needed to keep each other
now more than ever.
sped down the road in her VW convertible, glancing to the back where the car seat
was securely fastened in with the seatbelt.
“Hold on tight, Ethan Jr.,” she said.
“We have to take a little detour before we head up to Portland.”
looked back to the windshield and kept her eyes peeled for police cars. “They’ll be coming after us soon,” she
said. “I have to think. I can’t let them take you away from me. Not my beautiful baby.”
car weaved in and out of the morning traffic, cutting people off right and left
and running lights at every intersection.
Cars honked and people yelled obscenities as she recklessly sped down
sat in the solarium at the mansion drinking a cup of coffee when Heather came
around the corner and timidly entered.
She paused in the doorway, her eyes sunken and her hair flat against her
face. When Brooke saw her she stood up
and offered a look of concern.
there you are,” she said. “We’ve all
been worried you. You haven’t come out
of your room for days.”
took a deep breath and walked over to the breakfast table. “I know and I’m sorry that I haven’t been
very supportive. I know what a trying
time this is for you and James. Has
there been any word?”
sighed and dug her hands into her pockets.
“Yes,” she said. “The police are
trying to find Winter Austen. They think
she might be the kidnapper.”
gasped in surprise. “Winter?” she
asked. “Oh my…..”
police tracked her down so James and Ethan left a while ago,” Brooke explained
further. “I just hope they get to her in
time. I can’t stand the thought of her
having my baby in her arms.”
gazed warily across the room. She felt a
little out of touch with everything that had been going on. Since her ordeal at the director’s office she
hadn’t been able to face anyone. Finally
this morning she woke up and decided she couldn’t stay hidden away forever. She wasn’t about to let Will Thomerson get
away with what he’d done to her.
about you, Heather?” Brooke asked,
hoping to get her mind off of her latest crisis for a minute or two. “What’s been going on with you? Jordan’s been calling for you
constantly. Don’t you think you should
call him? He is your father.”
sighed and nodded vaguely. Her father
was the person she was most worried about.
If he saw any part of that tape of her and those men he would be
devastated to say the least. How could
she face him after such humiliation?
just don’t want to see him right now,” she finally said and poured herself a
cup of coffee. “I have some things to
work out first.”
what’s happened to you?” Brooke lamented.
“You’re not yourself lately,
and I’m worried.”
smiled politely and gave Brooke an affectionate tilt of her head. “Your concern should be for your son, Brooke,
and nothing more. I’ll be fine. But I appreciate that you’re worried.”
walked to the window and gazed outside at the bright spring day. She prayed that James would call before long
with news. What on earth was taking so
LAPD helicopter cut through the morning fog high up in the sky above Los Angeles.
The pilots scanned the ground with hawk-like eyes, searching for the car
they were instructed to locate. But
with the morning rush hour in full swing, it was virtually impossible to detect
which car was the one in question.
the co-pilot grabbed the radio and called to their command post in Detective
Baines’ squad car. “This is officer
8279 reporting from chopper 5. We can’t
see anything from up here. Trying to
find a Volkswagen Beetle in this fog and in heavy traffic is like finding a
needle in a haystack. Any luck down on
blew a strand of hair from his eyes and grabbed the radio. “Negative.
She can’t have gotten far.
Concentrate on the side streets and steer clear of the freeways. She’s probably heading out of town but she’s
not stupid enough to risk being seen on the 101.”
in the passenger’s seat, James hastily grabbed the radio from Baines and
shouted into the receiver. “Get that
thing closer to the ground if you have to!
If she gets away with my son it’ll be your job on the line!”
Baines angrily snatched the radio back from him and shot him a look of
warning. He clicked on the receiver and
continued speaking to the pilot. “Get as
low as you can and radio us if you see anything. Got it?”
rubbed his eyes and looked into the back seat where Ethan was sitting
anxiously, his eyes peeled to every car that they passed on the road. They had to find her before she got away or
he may never see his son again.
can’t have gotten that much of a head start,” Baines said as she drove north on
not going to try to leave town now,” Ethan said. “She’s smarter than that.”
looked at him with a frown. “I think
she’s abandoned all signs of intelligence by kidnapping an infant,” he said
bitterly. “I don’t think we’re dealing
with a smart woman here, Ethan.”
shook his head adamantly. “All I’m
saying is that she’ll wait until dark to go anywhere,” he said, then grew into
a thoughtful daze. Flashes of their
time together as a couple flooded back to him and he tried to think of any clue
that might tell them where she was headed.
is it?” James asked, seeing that his nephew was on to something.
beach,” Ethan said quickly and shot to the front seat. “Head to the shore. She always wanted to go for walks on the
beach. I’m sure that’s
where she’s taken Michael.”
James said and pointed out the window.
“We’re ten minutes from the Santa Monica pier! Step on it!”
wasting a second, Detective Baines cranked the wheel and turned the car around
in a flash. The tires squealed and the
smell of burned rubber filled the air.
Every car in their path skidded to a halt as the unmarked squad car
veered off toward the coast.
was in the gym at the mansion working out on the lat press, his face sweaty and
his muscles flexing with every repetition.
With everything going on lately, there was no better way to work off his
anxiety than in the gym.
his set, he stood up and grabbed a towel to dry off his sweaty face and
neck. He turned around just as Gwen
entered the room, an unusually vixenish look on her matronly face.
a good workout, Brett?” she asked and leaned provocatively against the
eyed her up and down and walked past her toward the free weights. “What do you want now, Gwen?”
already told you what I want,” she replied, tossing her long ash brown hair
over her shoulder. “Fifty thousand
looked at her out of the corner of his eye and began lifting dumbbells in front
of the mirror. “Fifty thousand dollars
and you’ll go away quietly?”
her fingers along the cold steel of the bench press, she nodded with a wicked
smile. “Of course,” she said. “I always keep my word. No one will find out about
your…indiscretions of late.”
set the weights down and turned to her with a determined look in his eyes. “If that’s all it’ll take to get you out of
my life, then it’s money well spent.”
clasped her hands together and smiled happily.
“Good, then we both understand each other,” she said. “I’ll be up in my room packing. I’ll see you in an hour.”
folded his arms and watched her turn and leave the room. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get the
money to pay Gwen off, but he had to think of something. If Miranda or anyone else found out what he’d
been up to over the past few months, he’d be out the door in a heartbeat.
sat in the parlor of her house in Beverly Hills nibbling on a light breakfast
when the door opened and Jordan entered. He paused, glaring at her with hostility and
slowly turned around to leave.
“Jordan,” she called and stood up from
the sofa. “I didn’t expect to see you
let out a slight chuckle and dug his hands into his pockets. “Well this is my house,” he said and gestured with his hands. “I just came to get a few more of my things
to take back to the hotel.”
you’ve checked into a hotel rather than holing up on your yacht?” she asked
spitefully and folded her arms across her bosom. “I thought you’d have run off to your private
sanctuary like you usually do.”
Jordan shook his head in frustration at
her sarcastic tone. “My yacht seems to
have lost some of its solitude ever since you stowed away on my trip to Hawaii last summer,” he said. “A man’s palace isn’t always a mansion in Beverly Hills you know.”
smiled and purred seductively toward him.
“You didn’t seem to mind me stowing away when you walked in on me naked
on the bed,” she claimed. “If I recall
correctly it got your motor running rather smoothly.”
make jokes, Alex,” Jordan spat. “I didn’t come here to relive our romantic
past. I came here to get some of my
things. As far as I’m concerned the
further away from you I am the better off I am.”
he could turn to leave, she raced up to him and spun him around to face her
directly. “You aren’t seriously still
planning on going through with this, are you?
You actually intend to leave me?”
long as you cater to your ex-husband’s every need then yes, I have every
intention of leaving you. And why
shouldn’t I? Have I ever come first with you, Alex?”
a ridiculous thing to ask me,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
I haven’t ever come first with you,” Jordan continued. “The first time we were going to be married
you left me at the altar so you could go to James Blackthorne’s bedside at the
hospital after he collapsed. Then
instead of coming back and setting things right, you married Will
Thomerson. Forgive me, Alex, but when
was I ever important in your grand scheme of things during all of that?”
was married to Will for two days!”
Alex declared defensively. “And you know
I only did that so I could get the studio back for James. I owed him because of what I did to him in
mean pretending that you were still married so he’d fall in love with you
again?” Jordan asked angrily. “Yet another incident where I was conveniently
Alex spun around and stormed across the room where she lit a cigarette and blew
of long stream of smoke into the air.
“So this is all my fault, is it?” she asked. “I’m completely to blame for everything
that’s gone wrong with us?”
you accused me of kidnapping James’s son!” Jordan exclaimed. “I’m sorry but I think that pretty much
dashes any hope of a happy marriage we ever had!”
Alex started toward him in hopes of making him understand. “Look, I misjudged you and I’m sorry. It’s just that you’ve been so jealous of
James lately and what else was I supposed to think? “
first instinct shouldn’t be to accuse your husband of a felony!”
I made a mistake!” she hollered back.
“I’m sorry! I’m only human, Jordan!”
up with her cavalier attitude, Jordan gave her a wave of his hand and
started back out of the room. “You
can’t take responsibility for anything, can you?” he asked. “You don’t see the way you put James before
everyone else, including your own husband.
Well I’m not going to sit around and take it anymore. If you want James back, then go get
that, he turned and bolted out of the room.
Devastated by his hateful words, Alex picked up the ashtray and hurdled
it across the room, sending splinters of glass shattering in every
steered her car down the access road toward Santa Monica pier, her eyes on the lookout
for a secluded place to park and wait until it was safe to continue.
small parking area near a concession stand seemed like the perfect place to
hide out so she maneuvered her shiny red car into the corner stall and cut off
the engine. With a sigh, she turned around
and gazed into the back seat.
looks like a good place to stop, don’t you think?” she said and unfastened the
car seat. “We’ll hang out for a while,
enjoy this beautiful day together, and then we’ll drive some more tonight when
it gets dark.”
sound of the helicopter above sent her into a panic and she ducked down, trying
to peer through the window to see what was happening outside. “Shhhh, don’t cry Ethan Jr.,” she said in a
soothing voice. “I don’t think they saw
her heart raced in terror as she crouched down onto the seat and prayed that
the helicopter would pass.
Baines raced the car down the access road to the beach. He could hear the chopper above and knew that
if Winter Austen was nearby they’d catch up with her soon enough. No one could outrun a helicopter.
got to be around here somewhere,” Ethan said, gripping the seat back tightly
with his hands.
don’t know,” Baines said as she shook his head in doubt. “I have a feeling this hunch of yours is way
keep going,” James ordered, his eyes riveted out the windshield.
then a radio call came in from the helicopter.
“We’ve spotted the vehicle in question,” announced the pilot over the
static reception. “A red VW Beetle. Due east by the old Crab Shack.”
eyes flashed open and he glanced at the detective. “My son!” he said with pronounced
was already veering off to the right, trekking down the gravel road toward the
opposite side of the pier.
swoosh from the helicopter blades grew louder and closer and Winter realized
she was trapped. Suddenly, the sound of
sirens in the distance rang in her ears and she leapt to immediate action.
from the car, she leaned in to the back seat and plucked the baby from the car
seat, wrapping it securely in a blanket.
She could feel the wind from the chopper propellers brush against her
and she began running like mad.
she is!” Ethan yelled from the back seat of the car. “She’s heading for the pier!”
she’s got my son!” James bellowed in agony.
The sight of the bundle in Winter’s arms was enough to make his eyes
tear up with joy. They finally had her,
and in a matter of minutes he’d be holding his baby again.
brought the car to a skidding halt next to the concession stand where Winter’s
car was abandoned. James and Ethan raced
outside just as several squad cars arrived on the scene.
hold it right there!” Baines yelled over to James and Ethan. “Leave this to us! We don’t need you two going off and making
shot him a defiant glare. “We did things
your way already and look at all the time we’ve wasted,” he said. “Let me go talk to Winter. I’m the reason she’s doing this so I should
be the one to go.”
James began in protest.
can reason with her!” Ethan exclaimed.
“Just let me try!”
my son!” James roared
Ethan persisted. “James, I’m doing this,” he said and took off toward
realized he was probably right. If
anyone could talk Winter down it was Ethan.
But that didn’t stop him from wanting to be there in case he was
needed. He wanted to be the first one to
hold his beautiful baby when they finally got him back.
sprinted down the desolate pier, the choppy ocean waves breaking against the
concrete pillars and spraying up onto the surface. Winter was a few yards ahead, running with
the baby in her arms until she reached the dead end at the end of the pier.
stop!” he called after her as he grew closer.
turned, trembling from head to toe and her eyes tearing up when she saw Ethan
standing before her. The baby cradled
tightly in her arms, she backed up to the edge of the pier and realized she had
nowhere left to run.
it’s really you-” she said, barely acknowledging when James and Detective
Baines arrived on the scene. “I can’t
believe it’s really you. I never
thought I’d see you again.”
of the officers reached for his gun and Baines quickly waved him off. The last thing they needed was an incident
caused by a panicked woman and a gun.
give me the baby,” Ethan said, stepping forward slowly, his hands outstretched
to her. “Just hand him over and then we
can go and talk, okay?”
looked down at the baby in her arms, covered securely in the blanket. She held him close, swaying from side to side
and humming softly to him. “I don’t
think I can give him to you,” she said, her eyes flooded with tears. “He’s so precious and innocent. And he looks just like you, Ethan. He looks just like his Daddy. I even named him after you.”
clenched his teeth, angered by Winter’s assumption that Michael was Ethan’s
child. He had to keep telling himself
that Winter was unhinged. Her odd
movements and the deranged look in her eyes was proof of that. The sooner they got Michael away from her
you have to give him back,” Ethan continued, speaking slowly and choosing his
words carefully. He knew the slightest
wrong move could send her into a panic.
“He’s not yours. His mother is
very worried about him."
“I’m his mother,” she insisted, still
rocking back and forth in her stationary position. “I’m even taking him up to Portland to see his grandmother. I’m going to finally show her that I’m not
all bad.” A smile suddenly broke out
across her face and she looked at him with a glimmer in her eyes. “Ethan, you could come with us. That way my mother would see for herself that
I’m not the stupid girl she always said I was.
She’ll see that I can hold
onto a man and have a baby. She can’t deny it if it’s standing right
there in front of her.”
looked back at James for an instant. He
took a deep breath and decided there was only one thing to do. As much as he hated to admit it aloud, he
would have to for the sake of the baby.
you’re not his mother,” he said when he turned back to her. “And I’m not his father. James is his father.”
her head adamantly, she looked down at the baby and felt a tear trickle down
her cheek. “That’s not true,” she
said. “You’re lying. Ethan Jr. is your son. I know it for a
fact. I read it in Brooke’s letter.”
true, Winter,” Ethan said with great difficulty. He hated the thought of denying his own son,
but under the circumstances it was the only thing he could do to. “That baby belongs to Brooke and James.”
she whimpered, shaking her head in despair.
you can give him back now,” Ethan continued.
“Please just hand him over to me so he can go home and be with his
family. Please, Winter….”
looked down at the bundle in her arms and closed her eyes tightly. “No, he’s your son, Ethan, and I deserve to
have him. It should have been me having
your baby instead of Brooke.”
it wasn’t,” Ethan said, stepping closer again.
He sensed that she was backing down and that the nightmare was almost
over. If he could just get her to hand
not taking him from me!” Winter screamed loudly. “You’re not!"
officer went for his gun instinctively but it was too late. Winter turned and jumped over the side of the
pier with the baby, falling fifty feet down below to the choppy ocean surface.
raced forward, horrified by the sight of his son disappearing over the edge
with her. His heart stopped and he cried
out in terror.
“Nooooo!” Ethan screamed and raced to the
edge. He took a deep breath and dove
over the side of the pier after her.
James and Ethan struggle
to cope with the disaster on the pier. Heather
enlists Miranda's help to snoop around Will Thomerson's
house for the tape he'd made of her at Joel Armitage's
office. Samantha arrives in town with news
for Stormy regarding their affair.