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Episode 40

 

Release Date:  September 23, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Fed up with Gwen's blackmail attempts, Brett took money from a Sunset Studios account and bribed the prison warden in Paraguay to lock her up for the remainder of her sentence.  After the incident on the pier, James and Ethan learned that Winter hadn't kidnapped Michael at all, but was delusional enough to think she had.  Winter was taken away to a mental institution, and James had to break the news to Brooke that they were no closer to finding Michael.  Heather asked Miranda to help her break into Will's house to steal back the videotape of her night in Joel Armitage's office.  While snooping around the estate, they discovered a set of tunnels that connected Will's house to the Blackthorne mansion. Samantha, the woman Stormy had had an affair with while on tour with Lauren, came to L.A. and told Stormy that Janet Harper had taken photographs of them together in Denver. After spending a night with Ethan, Janet packed her things and went back to Denver.

 

 


 

Episode 40

"The Fallmonts" Part 1

 

Stormy Blackthorne stood on the balcony that jutted out from Samantha’s suite at Hotel Terranova, breathing in the fresh morning air and stretching languorously.

Suddenly a pair of hands slipped around his waist and he smiled, turning around just as Samantha ran her hands over his smooth, bare chest.   “Well good morning,” he said and kissed her warmly.  “I was wondering when you were going to wake up, sleeping beauty.”

She smiled sheepishly and kissed his neck with her moist lips.  “I have to get ready for my flight back to Denver,” she said, then wrapped her arms around him tightly with a slight groan.  “But I don’t want to leave.  I wish we could stay here in this hotel room forever making love and ordering room service.  We’d never have to leave.”

Stormy grinned mischievously.  “Sounds good to me.”

“But I have to get back to the reality that I call my life.”  She turned and sauntered back inside the suite where she picked up a few articles of clothing strewn haphazardly across the floor.   “I told my husband I was visiting my mother.  He knows I can’t handle more than a day with her so if I don’t get back soon he’ll get suspicious.”

“Are you sure going back to him is what you want?” Stormy asked and nuzzled himself against her back.   “He doesn’t own you.  You could stay here with me.”

Samantha gave him a sorrowful but stern look and shook her head.  “I already told you it’s impossible, Stormy.  I have my reputation to think about.”

“Don’t you mean your husband’s reputation?” he corrected her bitterly.  “Who is he, anyway?  You still haven’t told me.”

She shook her head again and pulled on a beige silk skirt.   “It’s better that you don’t know,” she replied.  “I don’t want to complicate things more than they are.”

Frustrated that she was adamant about staying with him, Stormy sat down on the edge of the bed and folded his hands between his knees.  “What about the pictures?  What if Janet Harper has already sent copies to him?  Then you have no reason to stay with him.”

Samantha sighed and looked at him with pleading eyes.  “Don’t make this any harder than it is.”

“I’m just trying to be realistic,” he replied.  “She obviously wants something from you.”

“Or not.  Like I said, she’s probably just taunting me with the fact that she has dirt on me.  It’s the nature of our relationship.”

Stormy grew into a daze as he tried to think of a way to help.  “She might still be in town,” he said.  “We could confront her.”

Samantha laughed.  “And fan the flames?” she asked.  “No, that’s definitely not the way to handle Janet Harper.  Listen, I’ll deal with her soon enough back in Denver.  I really just wanted to prepare you in case those pictures hit the media.”

But Stormy wasn’t satisfied.  He was determined to track Janet down and find out exactly what she’d been up to.  He got up and quickly pulled on his clothes. 

“Listen, I have to go,” Samantha said and grabbed her purse from the nightstand.

“Well let me take you to the airport.”

She shook her head.  “No, I’ll get a limo.  I want to make this short and sweet.”

He glared at her in spite of himself.  “You mean like us?  A few quick rolls in the hay and it’s over?”

“Stormy-“ she begged, wishing he would understand.  “I don’t want to end this on a bad note.”

He sighed and nodded glumly.  “Okay, okay.  We’ll play it the way you want.” 

“Good,” she said and grabbed her fur coat from a chair.

Stormy leaned in and kissed her, determined that it wouldn’t be the last time.

Hotel Terranova

Downstairs in her office, Miranda paced back and forth across the luxuriously decorated room, pausing to pluck a few leaves from a fichus tree in the corner.  A knock at the door sent her spinning around with a start, her hand clasped tightly over her chest.

“Jeez, you’re jumpy this morning,” Heather said as he walked into the office.

“It’s about time you got here,” Miranda screeched, racing across the room and closing the door behind her.  “What took you so long?  You were supposed to meet me here at eight.”

Heather flipped her long brown hair over her shoulder.  “I’m only ten minutes late,” she replied.  “Why did you insist that I meet you here, anyway?  We should be at home telling James and Brooke about what we found.”

Miranda shot her a look of warning and sat her down on the sofa.  “That’s the last thing we want to do,” she insisted.  “If we tell my father that Will Thomerson could have kidnapped Michael, he would go ballistic.  He’d kill him.  I know he would.”

“He’d have to get in line,” Heather said wryly under her breath.  “I still can’t believe that the tunnels run all the way underground to the Thomerson estate.  How easy would it have been for him to sneak into the house when everyone was out that night?  He could have taken Michael back through the tunnels and no one would have seen him.”

“But we have to get proof first,” Miranda cautioned.  “After all the false leads, the last thing we need is another red herring.  It won’t do anyone any good until we find out for sure if Will has my brother.  I don’t want my father being sent away to prison for murder because of our suspicions.”

“So how do you suggest we find out the truth?” Heather asked.  Since their discovery in the tunnels the night before, she had temporarily forgotten about the videotape and the urgency she felt to find it and destroy it.  Michael was more important right now. 

Miranda paused and looked at her with determination   “We have to go back and search that house until we find something.”

The severity in her voice sent chills down Heather’s spine.  She dreaded going back to Will’s estate, but for the sake of James and Brooke she knew they had to.

Blackthorne Mansion

Across town at the Blackthorne mansion, Leilani opened the front doors and greeted Alex Reynolds, who rushed inside in a panic.

“Leilani, I must see James.  Is he here?” she singsonged. 

“He’s in the library, Miss Reynolds.”

Quickly, Alex rushed down the hall and barreled into the library where James sat across from Jack Fallmont.  She looked at them both and huffed with frustration.  “Jack Fallmont, I should have known you’d be here, you low down, dirty, no good...“

“Nice to see you too, Alex,” said Jack with a chuckle.

“Don’t patronize me,” she lamented, bounding across the room and turning to James with a scowl.   “Do you have any idea what he’s done?”

“I think I know what this is about,” James said and stood up from his chair.  “And it’s not Jack’s fault, Alex.”

“Not his fault?” she gasped and threw her mink coat onto the sofa and fixed herself a drink.  It was only eight thirty in the morning but after the week she’d had she needed it now more than ever.  “His bleeding heart tree-hugging family has filed an injunction against us!”

“That’s why I came here this morning,” Jack announced.  “I heard about my nephew’s decision to block drilling on your land in Colorado.  I thought maybe there was something I could do to help.”

“You can start by telling your good for nothing nephew to butt out of our business,” Alex said in a rage.  “What right does he have to stop us from drilling for natural gas on our own land?”

Jack chuckled again.  “Well for starters, he is a Colorado state senator.  And secondly, that land has been environmentally protected for years.  Timothy isn’t the only one who’s upset about the pipeline.”

“Ugh, more heartfelt sap from the Sierra Club, no doubt,” Alex spat.  “James, we stand to lose everything if this injunction goes through.  We’ll be as worthless as that land if we can’t drill there.  Is that what you want?”

He shook his head.  “Of course not.  But if you’ll stop and listen to Jack, he’s offering to help us.  Maybe he has some influence over Senator Fallmont.”

“He is my nephew,” Jack said.  “He’s following in my brother’s footsteps.  I have a feeling he’s doing a little grandstanding in order to pave his way to Washington.  He wants to run for the U.S. Senate this term.”

“And he’s making us his example,” James said and shook his head.  “Well Jack, I hope you can do something to help.  The last thing we want is to wind up in court battling this thing out for the next two years.”

Just then, Brooke entered the library, her long face pale and indolent.  Her eyes were red and puffy and she wore no makeup.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize we had guests,” she said, looking around the room.

James jumped up and approached his wife timidly.  “Darling, I didn’t realize you were up,” he said, stroking his hand down her limp hair.  “You should go back to bed.  You tossed and turned all night.  Did you get any sleep?” 

She shook her head solemnly.  “Has there been any word from Detective Baines?” she asked.

James took a deep breath and shook his head.  “I’m afraid not.”

“Well maybe he called and you were to busy to be bothered,” Brooke spat, eyeing him with watery eyes.  “Is your business meeting more important than finding your son?”

Hurt that she would even suggest it, James shook his head and reached out to comfort her.  “Darling, no.  Of course not.  Jack and Alex just came by to discuss the pipeline and-“

But Brooked pulled away, her eyes flooded with tears.  “I don’t care about the pipeline,” she cried.  “All I care about is finding my baby.  But it looks like you’ve given up and gone back to business as usual.”

“Brooke, no!” James exclaimed, but it was too late.  She was racing down the hall to the staircase in the foyer.

Ethan Blackthorne

Ethan awoke in the room at Hotel Terranova with a start, glancing around and immediately realizing that Janet had left.  She said she was going back to Denver in the morning and that’s just what she did, even after the night of passion they’d spent together.

His feelings were mixed.  On some levels he’d used Janet as a crutch to get over Brooke, and to have someone to be intimate with when the nights got too lonely.  Last night was no exception.  But another part of him cared for her greatly.  She was vital and assertive, exuding a sense of confidence that he found extremely attractive, but deep down she was vulnerable and compassionate.

But now it was clear that he had been nothing more than a distraction for her while she was in L.A. working on a story that she had never fully availed to him. 

Rubbing his eyes and sitting up on the bed, he jumped at the sound of a loud knock at the door.   Housekeeping, he thought to himself.   He needed to get over to the mansion and find out if there’d been any word on Michael anyway.   Quickly, he reached for his trousers and pulled them on, zipping them up while walking to the door.

“Just a minute,” he said, running his hands through his hair and pulling open the door to find Stormy standing out in the hall.

“Ethan, what are you doing here?” Stormy asked, looking at his cousin, half-dressed and obviously having just woken up.  “I thought this was Janet Harper’s room.”

He nodded.  “It is.  Or was.   She checked out this morning.”

Stormy walked inside and surveyed the room.  “So what are you doing here?” he asked again.

“I spent the night.  When I woke up she was gone,” Ethan replied, going into the bathroom to splash some water on his face.  “I guess I was pretty wiped out because I didn’t even hear her leave.”

“I didn’t realize you and Janet had a thing going.”

Ethan emerged from the bathroom, his skin damp and his face sporting a two-day stubble.  “We’ve spent some time together over the past couple of weeks.  Is there a problem with that?  What are you doing here, anyway?”

Stormy realized he couldn’t divulge all the information to his cousin.  He owed Samantha that much respect.  “I just think it’s strange that she had such an interest in our family, that’s all,” he replied.  “Did you ever get the feeling that she was after something?”

The truth was, Ethan never really gave it that much thought.  “I don’t know.  She was working on a couple of articles for her newspaper.”  He frowned, his eyes narrowing on Stormy.  “You’re awfully interested in Janet all the sudden. “

Stormy shrugged and managed a smile.  “Not really,” he said.  “Are you headed back home?”

“Not just yet.   I thought I’d stop by the mansion and see how James and Brooke are holding up.   Has there been any word?”

“Nothing,” Stormy replied grimly as Ethan finished getting dressed.  “I’ll walk you out.”

Alex Reynolds

Back at the mansion, James was leading Alex through the foyer to see her off just as the doorbell rang.  After handing her her white fur coat, he pulled the door open and Jordan rushed inside. 

“I want to see my daughter,” he said, then paused when he saw Alex standing there at James’s side.  His eyes narrowed on her and he raised an eyebrow with a smug look on his face.  “Well, isn’t this a surprise,” he said, his tone dripping in sarcasm. 

James sensed the tension and knew right away that he was about to be put in the middle of a sticky situation.  Their separation was the talk of Hollywood at the moment and he couldn’t help but hear that he was inadvertently the cause.

“Heather went out early this morning to have breakfast with Miranda,” James said and started to walk away.  “Alex, let me know when you’d like to get together with Senator Fallmont to discuss this problem.”

“I will, James,” she replied and offered him an apologetic tilt of her head.  “And please let me know if you hear anything at all about Michael.”

“Yes, please do,” Jordan said with a roll of his eyes.  “Any excuse to throw herself at you…”

“Jordan, stop it!” Alex warned him.  “How many times do I have to tell you-“

“That you have no feelings for James?” he finished for her.  “You can say it until you’re blue in the face and I won’t believe it.  Exactly how many times a week do you stop by for breakfast meetings with your ex-husband, anyway?”

Alex glared at him angrily.  “We had to make some decision on how to handle this injunction,” she insisted.  “I don’t think I have to explain myself to you, Jordan.”

Jordan looked at James and chuckled heartily.  “Don’t be surprised if she turns out to the one who arranged for this convenient injunction on the pipeline.  Any excuse to spend more time with you…”

“I don’t have time for this,” James said and started up the stairs.

Watching him go, Jordan clenched his fists and turned back to Alex.  “You are so transparent,” he said.  “You really are a desperate has-been, Alex.  Your career is over, you have two failed marriages.  What’s next?”

Alex raised her hand to slap him when he stopped her mid-air.   “Nice try, sweetheart, but I’m not falling for that twice.”

Shaking her arm free, she stood back and took a deep breath.  “I’m sick of this, Jordan,” she said.  “I’m going to my lawyer today and filing for divorce.  And I’m moving back into my house in Malibu so you can have your shack in Beverly Hills.  I don’t want to be around anything that reminds me of you.”

With that, she turned and stormed out of the house.  Jordan stood back and watched her go.  Why did she have to be so damned stubborn?  He loved her so much but he couldn’t stand the way she constantly insinuated herself into James’s life.  That was enough to make him walk away from her forever.

Brett Armstrong

Brett sat in his office at Sunset Studios when the door opened and Stormy walked inside with a scowl etched across his face.   Brett looked up at him and sighed with irritation.

“Can you knock?” he asked.  “Just because your father put us both in charge doesn’t mean you can come into my office whenever you want.”

Ignoring his petty complaints, Stormy presented the expense log and gestured to a blank line in the spreadsheet.   “I’ll knock if you tell me what this is all about,” he demanded.

Without so much as breaking a sweat, Brett glanced at the log and shrugged indifferently.  “What are you talking about now, Stormy?”

“I’m talking about this fifty thousand dollar check you made out to cash,” Stormy said.  “What was it for?”

Brett stood up and adjusted the collar on his blazer.  “Please don’t tell me you’re going to monitor every cent that goes out of this studio, because I certainly don’t have to answer to you.”

His reaction cemented Stormy’s certainty that he was hiding something.  “When it’s an unaccounted for expense then you’re damn right you do,” he said.  “Now tell me what you used the fifty thousand dollars for.  Or do I have to get my father involved?”

Scoffing at his immature antics, Brett crossed the room and poured himself a glass of bourbon.   “Are you actually threatening me with going to your daddy?” he asked.  “When are you going to realize that you’re nothing but a spoiled rich kid who hides behind his family’s name?”

“My father put us both in charge of his studio,” Stormy argued.  “I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you destroy it.”

Confidently, Brett turned and leveled his eyes on his brother-in-law.  “If anyone’s going to destroy your father’s studio, it’s going to be you,” he said.  “You’re the one who used his entire trust fund to start up a record label, and then threw it all away and lost everything because of a woman.  If I were James, I would think twice about entrusting anything with you, Stormy.”

Brett’s jab sent contempt coursing through Stormy’s veins and he fought like hell to keep from punching him square in his pretty boy face.   “You smug son of a bitch.”

Happy that he’d sufficiently dodged the question of the missing fifty thousand dollars, Brett went in for the kill.  “Sooner or later you’re going to mess up again, Stormy, and when that happens, I’m going to be there to clean it up.  Then I’ll be the one going to your father and recommending that you be tossed out of the business.  If you can’t handle a measly recording studio then how the hell are you supposed to run Sunset Studios?”

Stormy decided to let Brett have his moment.  He had other things on his mind than battling it out with him over control.  “Just watch your back,” he said before turning and leaving the office.  “I’ll find out where that money went.  Don’t you worry about that.”

After he’d gone, Brett swirled the dark liquid around in his glass and swallowed it with one gulp.  He smiled, satisfied with his victory.  There would be no way Stormy or anyone else could trace the money he’d paid to the prison warden in Paraguay to incarcerate Gwen for the remainder of her sentence. 

Brooke Taylor

That evening, Ethan found Brooke in the conservatory sobbing quietly into a handkerchief.  He paused in the doorway and felt his heart breaking for her.  For their child.  When she looked up and saw him, she quickly stifled her tears and wiped her watery eyes.

“I just saw James in his study,” Ethan said and walked over to her.  “He said you wanted to be alone but I took a chance that you’d want to talk.”

Standing up and walking across the room to the piano, Brooke shook her head in despair, dabbing the corners of her eyes with the handkerchief.  “He’s given up, Ethan,” she said softly.  “He’s accepted that Michael is gone and that we’re never going to see him again.”

“That’s not true,” Ethan insisted, walking up behind her and stopping a comfortable distance away.   “He’s frustrated.  We all are.”

“He was having a business meeting this morning with Jack and Alex,” Brooke continued.   “Like nothing has happened.  As if our son isn’t out there somewhere with a stranger.  Or worse yet-“

“Don’t talk that way,” Ethan said and put his hand on her shoulder.  He felt her tense up and he quickly moved it away.  Comforting her was an instinct.  One that he wouldn’t soon learn to ignore.  “The police are doing everything they can to find him.  And they will.”

Finally she turned to face him, her eyes flooded again with tears.  “They have no leads, Ethan,” she said.  “Everyone they’ve suspected has proven to be innocent.  Philip, Gwen, Miranda, Jordan, Winter, you.  Who’s left?  Who else would want to do this to us?”

“Someone who doesn’t know who they’re dealing with.  This story is in every paper in every city in the world.  Someone is going to find him, Brooke, and when they do, the person responsible is going to be very sorry.”

But Brooke wasn’t convinced.  She buried her face in her hands and fell into his arms, sobbing hysterically.   “I only had a couple of weeks with him,” she cried.  “I keep closing my eyes and trying to remember his face.”

“Shhhh,” Ethan soothed her.  “Don’t do this to yourself, Brooke.”

She shook her head adamantly, pulling away and looking at him in desperation.  “I can’t help it!” she lamented.  “I can’t remember my own son’s face!”

Ethan felt his eyes tear up and he pulled her into another embrace.  It felt so good to be near her again, even if the circumstances were every parent’s worst nightmare.

Miranda Blackthorne

Brett was sprawled out on the bed in his underwear while Miranda sat at the vanity slathering lotion up and down her legs.  Her hair was pinned up off her shoulders and her skin was moist and damp after her nightly bath.

“Are you coming to bed soon?” Brett asked, staring at her with desire from his position on the bed.  He leaned up on his elbow and smiled at the ritualistic way she readied herself for bed.

“Almost done,” Miranda said, somewhat distracted.  “Brett, do you think they’ll ever find Michael?”

He took a deep breath and traced his index finger around his nipples.  “I think that the longer he’s gone the less likely it is that they’ll find him,” he said matter-of-factly.

She shot him a look of disgust and rolled her eyes.  “You’re so optimistic,” she spat sarcastically.  “Come on.  What if the kidnapper is someone so obvious but for one reason or another nobody’s bothered to suspect them?”

“Do you know something?” Brett asked.  “If you do you’d better say so, Miranda.  I don’t want people jumping all over you for keeping secrets like they did when they found the handkerchief you dropped.”

Miranda sighed and thought about the tunnel leading to Will’s house.  It was almost too obvious, which was why part of her doubted that it could be true.  If Will Thomerson had taken Michael, where was he now?  What did he do with the baby after he took him? 

“I don’t know anything,” she finally said and climbed onto the bed and straddled him in her lacy pink corset.   She decided it was best not to say anything until she and Heather had a chance to investigate further.  Brett and everyone else would just have to trust her to do the right thing.

“Now no more talk about that stuff,” Brett said with a sly grin and wrapped his arms around his petite young wife.  “There’s something I’ve been wanting to do to you since I got up this morning.”

She smiled and giggled when he kissed the nape of her neck.   Suddenly she shot up again and placed a hand over her mouth.  “I almost forgot.  Have you seen Gwen lately?  I went to her room earlier to see if she was coming to dinner and she wasn’t there.  Her things are gone too.”

Brett shook his head, slightly irritated that the moment had to be interrupted by a topic as unpleasant as Gwen Hardisty.  “Maybe she changed rooms.”

Miranda shook her head.  “No, I asked Leilani the same thing.  She hasn’t seen her either.”

Wishing that she would leave it alone, Brett slipped his hands underneath her garment and pulled her closer again.  “Maybe she left,” he suggested.  “After the truth came out about her past it was probably only a matter of time before your father asked her to leave anyway.”

Sighing, Miranda pulled the pins from her hair and let it fall gently around her shoulders.  “I guess you’re right,” she said, running her hands down his washboard stomach and pausing when she got to the waistband of his yellow boxers.   “Okay, no more talk about the baby or Gwen.”

“Good,” Brett said with a devilish grin and rolled her over, pinning her to the bed.

Blackthorne Mansion

The next morning, James entered the solarium where Boroke sat alone, nibbling on her breakfast of eggs, toast and a glass of juice.  He took a breath and sat down next to her, smiling while Leilani poured him a cup of coffee.

“Where did you sleep last night, Darling?” he asked.  “I waited for you to come to bed and you never did.  Are you okay?”

She nodded and sipped her juice tightly.  “I slept in the nursery,” she said evenly, her eyes not moving from her plate. 

James sighed and looked at her with pleading eyes.  “Brooke, you can’t keep doing this to yourself,” he said.  “You’re going to make yourself sick if you don’t-“

“If I don’t give up like you have?” she asked, finally shooting him a glare.

“No, that’s not what I was going to say.”

Brooke slammed her glass onto the table and folded her hands together.  “You want me to forget our baby and go on like nothing has happened, is that it?  Well I’m sorry, James, I can’t do that.  I can’t pretend that everything is all right.  And frankly I don’t know how you can do it either.  Have you really given up hope?”

“Of course I haven’t,” James insisted.  “I just don’t know what else to do.  Brooke, if it would help I would be out there searching myself!  I would go from door to door for as long as it took to find him!   But what good would that do?  If the police can’t find him then how am I supposed to?”

Brooke broke down and buried her face into her hands, sobbing silently until he got up and consoled her with his arm planted tightly around her.  “I can’t accept that he’s gone,” she said.  “He needs me, James.  He’s out there somewhere and he’s crying for me.  I know it!”

“We will get him back,” James proclaimed.  “Let the police do their job.  The FBI is being called in and they won’t rest until he’s home with us and the person responsible is behind bars.”

Trying desperately to put her trust in her husband, Brooke nodded her head and dried her eyes.   “It’s just so hard,” she sobbed.  “I’m sorry for blaming you.  I know you’ve done everything possible.”

“And I’m not done,” he assured her.  “But there are things that I need to handle right now.  Things with Blackthorne-Reynolds, and things in this house.  I’ve put them for too long and I’ve got to handle them.  First of all, I’m going to find Gwen and tell her that her services are no longer needed here.  When we do get Michael back, I don’t want her caring for him.  I don’t understand how her past got overlooked the way it did.”

“Gwen’s already gone,” Miranda said as she and Brett entered the room and sat down at the table.

“She is?” James asked in bewilderment.

Stormy and Heather had just entered the room and heard the announcement about Gwen.  Frowning, Stormy narrowed his eyes on Brett and then back at his father.  “Where did she go?”

Miranda shrugged.  “I have no idea,” she said, diving into a basket of muffins and croissants.  “But she’s gone.  And good riddance, I say.”

James looked up at Stormy and rubbed his chin.  “Son, see what you can find out about this,” he said.  “I’m not sure why, but something doesn’t seem right.  Why would Gwen just up and leave like that?”

“She probably knew her days were numbered anyway,” Brett suggested.  “James, if I were you I’d just count my blessings that she’s out of the house and out of our lives.”

“Still, I’d like to find out what happened,” James declared.

“I’ll get right on it,” Stormy said and grabbed a glass of juice from the buffet.

“Good,” James said and clasped his hand around Brooke’s.  “Oh, and by the way, we’re hosting a very important dinner party tonight and I’d like you all to be here to show your support.  Jack and Adrienne are bringing their nephew, Timothy for dinner so we can discuss this injunction against the pipeline.  My hope is that we’ll be able to come to some reasonable understanding and settle on a compromise.”

Miranda looked at Heather and bit down on her lip.  “Actually Heather and I have plans,” she announced.  “Sorry, Daddy.”

“What plans?” Stormy asked with a frown.

“Ummm….” Miranda hesitated, trying to think up a clever excuse for missing the dinner so they could go back to the Thomerson Estate.   “Well….”

“We’re going to that….thing… at the Valley Beach Club, aren’t we, Miranda?” Heather chimed in.

“Right,” Miranda said and stood up from the table.  “Actually we should get going.  I want to get a head start and pick out an outfit.”

“Me too,” Heather said, following her out into the foyer and up the stairs.

“What thing?” James asked with a frown as he sipped his coffee.  “If I didn’t know any better I’d swear those two were up to something.”

Ethan Blackthorne

Ethan jogged down the beach, sweating beneath the hot afternoon sun and pacing himself as he neared the lot where he’d parked his car.  He loved the feeling of running with the sand beneath his feet, the waves lapping at his ankles as he drove every thought from his mind.  It was the only thing that he had to look forward to these days.  The opportunity to forget about his troubles and be alone near the shore was comforting.

Nearing the end of his five mile stretch, he ran toward the parking lot and stopped in his tracks, panting for breath when he spotted Janet leaning against his car, her eyes covered with dark shades.

A smile spread across his face as he walked toward her, his bare chest and neck dripping with sweat from the workout.    “Forget something?” he asked with a devilish grin.

She took off her sunglasses and nodded.  “Yeah, I did,” she said, walking up and kissing him passionately.   A minute later she pulled away and looked to the ground.   “I got back to Denver and realized that I couldn’t leave things the way they were.  The other night you came to me because you needed someone.  I guess I forgot to stop and feel privileged that it was me you were coming to.”

Ethan couldn’t help but smile, happy that she’d come back at all.  “You seemed pretty determined to go back.”

She nodded.  “I was.  But I also realized that I wasn’t finished here yet.  There’s some things that I need to make right.”

He regarded her carefully, unsure what she was talking about.

“I learned a long time ago that I had to step on a few toes if I wanted to make it in this business,” Janet continued.  “It’s gotten me this far, but now I find that there’s one person I can’t stand hurting.  That’s you, Ethan.”

Still unsure of what she was referring to, Ethan leaned in and pinned her against his car, kissing her hard on the lips and thinking that he was glad to see her, regardless of her reasons for coming back.

Will Thomerson

“You want the manuscript back?” Will Thomerson asked as he stood in his office at Jaguar Studios with Janet.  “Tell me you’re joking.”

She shook her head firmly.  “I’m not joking.  I’ve had some time to reconsider and I think that giving it to you was a mistake.”

“A mistake?” Will asked with a smile.  “Tell me, Miss Harper, was my buying the Denver Tribune for you a mistake as well?  Do you regret returning to Denver and finding that you were in finally in charge of your own destiny?”

“Of course not,” she replied.  “And I’m sure we can come up with a solution that makes us both happy.  I’ll write another manuscript.  Anything you want.  I just don’t want that story about the Blackthornes used to hurt anyone.”

He smiled and walked around his desk toward her.  “Then why did you write it?” he asked.

“Not for the reasons you think,” she said.  “It wasn’t for revenge or for knocking them down a few pegs.  It was purely for power.  I wanted people to sit up and take notice of me.  You’re planning on using it to get revenge against James Blackthorne.  You want the whole world to see something that’s not there.”

“Oh, but it’s here,” Will said and held the script out in front of him.  “I took the liberty of having your work turned into a screenplay.  I’m going to start casting by the end of the month.”

Janet snatched the pages away from him and looked through it briefly.  She frowned, shaking her head in disgust at what she read.  “This isn’t what I wrote,” she said.  “You’ve changed everything to make the Blackthornes sound like the Manson family.”

“The principle of your story is still there,” Will gloated.  “I just added a few details that you overlooked.”

“Like Heather Blackthorne’s starring role in a porn film?” Janet asked.  “That never happened.  This is nothing but a bunch of fiction.  At least my version was based on reality.”

“It happened.  I can assure you of that.  I even have the documentation to prove it.”

Janet shook her head, disgusted by the deal she’d made with the devil.  How was she ever going to get out of it?  If that movie got made, it would hurt Ethan immensely, and she’d have no one to blame but herself.

“So take your bleeding heart and get out of my office,” Will said hatefully.  “Our business together is finished.”

Balling her fists, Janet realized that she was too late.  She’d sealed her fate and every one of the Blackthornes along with it.

Stormy Blackthorne

That evening, James was seated in the library at the mansion with Brooke, Stormy and Brett.  When Leilani entered the room, James sprang to attention.   “Is Jack here with his nephew?”

She shook her head.  “No, sir.  Miss Reynolds is here.”

Alex sauntered into the room and handed Leilani her wrap.  “Good evening, everyone,” she said, approaching Stormy and kissing him on the cheek.  “Hello Darling.  Where’s Miranda?”

“Out with Heather,” Stormy replied.

“I see,” Alex said and turned to Brooke.  “Brooke, you look well…under the circumstances.  How are you holding up?”

She saw right through her thinly veiled attempt at being coy.  “I’m fine, thank you.”

James cleared his throat and approached Alex in hopes of stopping any confrontations from arising.  “Jack isn’t here yet,” he said.  “But he should be shortly.”

“Well then I suppose I’ll have a drink while we wait,” Alex said with a radiant smile and motioned to Stormy.   “Would you mind, Darling?”

While Stormy went to pour her a scotch rocks, Alex approached Brooke and sat down beside her on the sofa.  “I’m surprised you’re here, Brooke.  This evening is going to be nothing but business talk, something I’m sure you have no interest in.  Unless of course Senator Fallmont wants lessons on the new spring shades in makeup.”

“Alex, I’m warning you-“ James started, fuming at her hatefulness.

“It’s all right, James,” Brooke said and stood up, glaring at Alex angrily.  “I think I’ll go upstairs for a while.  Call me when dinner is ready.”

Before he could protest, she was flouncing out of the library and down the hall to the staircase.   James approached Alex just as Stormy handed her her drink.  “Let’s get one thing straight, Alex.  I don’t care if we’re in business together or not, you have no right to come into my house and talk to my wife that way.  Do you understand me?”

She looked at him and nodded, detesting the stern sound in his voice.  As if he could talk to her like a child or a subordinate.  She didn’t like it one bit. 

Just then, Leilani came back into the room with Jack and Adrienne Fallmont in toe.  She announced them and James approached them quickly.  “Jack, Adrienne, so nice to see you,” he said, shaking Jack’s hand and kissing Adrienne on the cheek.

“James, I’d like you to meet my nephew, Timothy,” Jack said as Timothy Fallmont entered the room.  He was a tall, attractive man in his early thirties with dark hair and dark brooding eyes.  He looked the sort that commanded power and presence everywhere he went. 

“Senator Fallmont,” James said and shook his hand.  “I’d like you to meet my business partner, Alex Reynolds; my son, Stormy; and my son-in-law, Brett Armstrong.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Timothy replied, then backed up to the doorway.  “I hope you don’t mind but I asked my wife to come with me.  We flew in from Denver and came straight here.  I think she’s checking herself in the mirror in the hall.  You know how women are.”

James smiled and nodded just as a tall, leggy blond entered the room, dripping in diamonds and fur.   “Welcome, Mrs. Fallmont.  So nice to have you here.”

Samantha smiled uneasily and shook his hand.  Her eyes darted across the room where Stormy was standing, staring at her in awe.  “It’s a pleasure,” she said, feeling the walls closing in on her.

 

To Be Continued....

 


Next time....

Stormy demands answers from Samantha.  Brett finally gets the ammunition he needs to get Stormy out of Sunset Studios.  Miranda and Heather get busted. Jordan has a wild party full of surprises...and possibly bloodshed.

 

 

 

Read Episode 41

 

 

 


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