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Episode 44

 

Release Date:  October 21, 2006

 Read the episode Recap 

 

Previously...

Stormy attacked Brett in retaliation for Brett telling James about his affair with Samantha Fallmont.  Detective Baines told a devastated James and Brooke that that they were putting Michael's kidnapping on a less urgent status.  Jordan and Stormy tracked down Joel Armitage and beat him up, then learned that Will had paid him to drug Heather and shoot the x-rated video of her.  Angry over Will's role in James and Jordan's misery, Alex decided to pay him a visit.  Believing they'd never get Michael back, Brooke admitted to Ethan that he was Michael's father.  Convinced that Will had kidnapped his son, Ethan went after him.  While getting ready for the Filmmaker awards, Will had a surprise visitor. Later, James, Brooke, Jordan, Alex, Stormy, Ethan, and Janet each returned home acting peculiar and attempted to create an alibi for themselves.  Meanwhile, Will had been shot in the chest and lie dead in his office at his estate.  

 

 


 

Episode 44

"A Cast of Killers"

 

All of Hollywood was abuzz last night at the 34th Annual Filmmakers awards post celebrations,” said the news reporter on the radio broadcast.  “Surprises filled every minute of the awards ceremony that drew in record numbers and scored the highest television ratings in over ten years.  Possibly the biggest surprise of the night was the award for Best Picture.  Many felt that James Blackthorne’s Angel Assassin would take home the award, with its much publicized initial X-rating, which was later edited down in order to achieve a tamer R-rating.   The big surprise came when the award went to Will Thomerson and Tour of Duty.  The reclusive producer wasn’t on hand to accept the award, despite his promise that he would be in attendance.  Thomerson has still as of yet to be contacted for a statement.”

It was early in the morning and Ethan turned off his car radio, his eyes unmoving from the intertwining maze of streets ahead of him.  He glanced down at a piece of paper in his hand where an address in the Valley was typed out.  Frantically, he looked up at the street signs and stopped at an intersection.   Slamming his fists onto the steering wheel in frustration, he gritted his teeth and referred to the address again.  The sprawling area of the Valley was growing faster than he could keep up with it, making it virtually impossible for someone to find anything.

Refusing to give up, he proceeded through the intersection and continued darting his head back and forth at the house numbers.

Blackthorne Mansion

Brett chased Miranda down the stairs at the Blackthorne mansion, catching her on the landing and wrapping his arms around her from behind.  She giggled and shivered at the touch of his lips on her neck, playfully pushing him away as she galloped the rest of the way to the foyer.

“You’re a little fireball today,” Brett teased, his tennis racket swinging in his hand as he dodged toward her.   “I think I’m going to have to show you up on the court.”

“Oh yeah?” she laughed, backing up in her pristine tennis whites.   “We’ll just see about that.”

When the doorbell rang, Miranda turned and bolted to answer it.

“Hey!  No fair!” Brett called and folded his arms across his chest. 

Miranda glanced back at him and shrugged.  “Sorry, saved by the bell.”

When she pulled the door open and saw Detective Baines standing on the porch, her good mood was immediately dampened.  On the other hand, maybe he had some good news about Michael.

“Good morning, Detective,” she said. 

“Mrs. Armstrong,” he replied in a no-nonsense demeanor.  “I’d like to speak to Mr. and Mrs. Blackthorne if they’re available.”

Miranda nodded and stood clear of the door.  “Of course.  I’ll go get them.  Has there been another lead on my baby brother?”

He entered the foyer and shook his head.  “I’m afraid not.  I’m here on a different matter.”

“Well what’s going on?” Brett asked as he stepped forward.

Detective Baines took a deep breath and looked at them both.  Will Thomerson has been murdered,” he said.

Brett and Miranda looked at each other in disbelief, then back at the detective.

Will's House

Up the street, a coroners van was parked in the driveway just outside the Thomerson estate.  Yellow tape was blocking the entrance as a swarm of police officers and crime scene investigators filled the house. 

Inside, a man in a lab coat dusted the door handle for fingerprints while another did the same to the desk in the parlor room.   Scattered pieces of paper and film scripts strewn haphazardly on the floor were placed carefully in plastic evidence bags. 

Will’s body was stiff, laying on his back in the center of the room.  He was dressed formally in a tuxedo, his crisp white shirt soaked in blood from the bullet hole in his chest.  An investigator snapped photos of the scene and then looked up at one of the police officers.

“I guess this explains why he didn’t make it to those awards last night,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.   “From the looks of it he was on his way, but somebody stopped him before he could make it out the door.”

“Maybe a jealous rival for the award,” the police officer joked.  “You know what they say, Hollywood can be a deadly business.”

Blackthorne Mansion

“Murdered?” James asked as he sat next to Brooke in the library at the mansion.

Detective Baines nodded solemnly.  “I’m afraid so,” he said.  “His driver was supposed to pick him up last night for the Filmmakers awards.  He never showed.  Then this morning he went back to the house to see if everything was okay.  That’s when he went inside and found the body.”

“How did it happen?” Miranda asked in awe as she put her arm around Brett.

“A gunshot wound to the chest.  We didn’t find a murder weapon at the scene.”

Brooke looked at James, her eyes wide.  He immediately put a hand on hers and quietly calmed her with his touch.

“Do you have any suspects?” Brett asked warily. 

“As a matter of fact, we do,” the detective replied.  “That’s the reason I came by this morning.” 

“What?” James asked with a deliberate frown.  “Surely you don’t suspect any of us.”

Baines shrugged reluctantly.  “I did walk in on the two of you going at each other pretty heatedly the other night,” he said.  “Mr. Thomerson claimed that you broke into his house and threatened him with a gun.”

“And you arrested him for suspicion of kidnapping,” James declared.  “Let’s not forget the outcome of that scene, Detective Baines.”

Baines regarded him carefully.  “I didn’t see a gun when I showed up that night.  Did you have your .38 revolver with you that night?”

James struggled to find a way to answer him without implicating himself.   He grew into a daze, recalling the incident with Will that night before Brooke, Miranda and Baines showed up to intervene…

“You son of a bitch!” James shouted, tossing the gun to the floor where it slid beneath an antique chair.   He lunged forward, his arms outstretched and his hands clasping around Will’s throat.

They struggled around the room, knocking over lamps and tables and sending shards of glass shattering everywhere.  Will pushed James back, sending him crashing into the wall and knocking a portrait to the floor.  James recovered quickly, struggling to his feet and racing back to attack him.

Suddenly Detective Baines appeared in the doorway with Brooke, Miranda and a uniformed officer.  He rushed over to break up the violent struggle but was quickly knocked clear of the scene…

“Mr. Blackthorne?” Baines asked, snapping him out of his daze.  “We did a check and you do own a .38 revolver.  Did you have it with you when you to see him the other night?”

James quickly shook his head in reply.   “No, I didn’t,” he lied, remembering that in the confusion he’d forgotten to retrieve the gun from where it landed beneath the chair.  Telling Baines about it now would only arouse suspicion in the murder.   “I went over there to demand he return my son to me.  We fought and that’s when you came in.  End of story.”

“So he was lying when he said you had threatened him with a gun?” Baines asked skeptically.

“Of course he was,” Miranda said, knowing full well that she and Brooke checked and the gun was missing from its box in the dresser drawer.  “My father is not a killer.”

Baines shrugged and looked at James again.  “But you do own a .38 revolver.”

“Yes.  It’s licensed.  I’m not breaking any laws by having it.”

“Detective Baines, was Will Thomerson shot with a .38?” Brett asked.

“We won’t know that until we get the ballistics report back.  But in the meantime, I’d like to take a look at your gun, Mr. Blackthorne.  Just as a formality.  If the victim was shot with a .38 and we can determine that your gun hasn’t been fired recently, then you have nothing to worry about.”

“Detective Baines, are you honestly considering me a suspect?” James demanded angrily.  “That man kidnapped my son.  Why would I kill him without first finding out where he stashed him?  That doesn’t make any sense.”

“There has been no proof to substantiate your claims that Mr. Thomerson abducted your child,” he said.  “We’ve been through all of this before.”

Just then, Stormy entered the room, dressed in the same clothes he’d worn the day before, his face unshaven and his hair tousled more so than usual.

“What’s going on?” he asked, looking around the room.

Miranda raced over to him in a panic.  “Will Thomerson was murdered last night.”

Stormy let his gaze travel to his father and Brooke, then to the detective.  “It’s about time,” he said and turned to leave the room.

“Stormy, wait-“ James called after him, noting the cut on his son’s forehead.

“Yes, what do you mean by that?” Baines asked.  “You act as if you were expecting him to be killed.”

Stormy shrugged, shedding his black leather jacket.  “It was only a matter of time,” he said.  “That man had more enemies than Jimmy Hoffa.”

“Including yourself?” Baines asked, raising an eyebrow.  “You’re certainly not above violent outbursts, Mr. Blackthorne.  I did witness that scene with you and Mr. Armstrong the other day in the hall.  As a matter of fact, I heard you threaten to kill him.”

Brett grinned, relishing the heat being put on Stormy.  He knew his brother-in-law’s hothead temper would come back to haunt him eventually.  May he did kill Will Thomerson.

Smiling, Stormy folded his arms and met the detective’s gaze.  “I was with someone last night,” he said.  “A woman I met at the Fern Bar.  I’d be happy to give you her name and address.  I’m sure she’ll vouch for me.”

“Yes, why don’t you do that.”

Heather entered the room and looked at Stormy, pushing her hair over her shoulders and looking around in confusion.  “I just heard it on the radio.  Is it true?  Will Thomerson is dead?”

Miranda looked at her and put a hand on her shoulder.  “Yeah, he’s dead.”

Baines, trying to focus on his task at hand, turned back to James and disregarded the interruptions.  He jotted a few things down on a small pad of paper, scratching his head with his pen.  “What about your nephew?” he asked.  “Is he available?  I’d like to ask him a few questions as well.  I know he worked with Will Thomerson, and he was just as disturbed by the possibility that he could have been Michael’s kidnapper.”

James stammered for a second, then quickly regained control of his thoughts.  “Ethan is out of town on business for a few days,” he said.  “He left yesterday afternoon.”

Baines jotted more notes down and nodded his head.  “About that gun,” he said.  “Where do you keep it?”

“Upstairs in my dresser.  Should I go get it?”

The detective nodded and gestured to the door.  “Yes.  I’ll go with you if you don’t mind.”

Cordially, James led him down the hall to the staircase in the foyer.  Miranda glanced over to Brooke who sat quietly on the sofa.  She wondered how she could be so calm after hearing that Will had been killed.  The only man who was a viable suspect in Michael’s kidnapping was dead and she didn’t seem phased one bit.

Minutes later, Leilani came into the room with Jordan.  Heather turned and grew tense when she saw her father standing there.   She started to dart past him when he grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

“Sunshine, I need to talk to you,” he said.

Heather paused, looking into his eyes.  She realized she couldn’t hide from him forever.  The humiliation she felt over what happened in the director’s office wasn’t going to go away, and neither was her father.

“We’ll give you some privacy,” Miranda said, motioning to Brooke and leading her out of the library. 

Stormy held back, eyeing Jordan knowingly before Miranda finally yanked him out into the hallway. 

Once they were alone, Jordan closed the library doors and followed Heather across the room to the window.   He put a hand on her shoulder and felt her tense up.  “Heather, you don’t have to be afraid anymore,” he said.  “Will Thomerson can’t hurt you ever again.”

Spinning around quickly, Heather stared into his eyes, her hands trembling.  “What?” she asked.  “How did you know that he-“

“I know what that monster did to you,” Jordan said, reaching into his jacket pocket and removing a videotape.   “But no one will ever know.”

Heather’s eyes widened in shock, taking the tape in her hand and staring at it in disbelief.  After a few seconds she looked back at him and shook her head.  “How did you get this?” she asked, her heart beating wildly.  “What did you do, Daddy?”

“I didn’t watch it,” he assured her.  “And I’m pretty sure that’s the only copy.  I thought you’d want to destroy it for yourself.”

Heather covered her mouth with her hands, afraid to think of what lengths her father had gone to to protect her.

Jasmes Blackthorne

Upstairs, James led Detective Baines into his bedroom, moving swiftly across the room toward the dresser by the far wall.

“I keep my gun in here,” he said.  “I have for years.   Luckily I’ve never had to use it.”

Baines nodded, watching him from the doorway.   “A simple test in the ballistics lab will tell us if it’s been fired recently,” he said.  “I’m sure you have nothing to worry about, Mr. Blackthorne.”

James bit down on his lip, carefully opening the bottom drawer and removing the box containing the gun.   He took a deep breath, biding his time as he planned his next move carefully.

“I’m sure you’re right,” James said as he slowly stood up, the gun tightly gripped in his hand.    As he turned around, he placed his finger on the trigger and fired the gun into the wall across the room.

The shot rung out and echoed with a deafening bang.  James feigned surprise and looked at the detective with wide eyes.  “Oh my God.  It just went off.  I barely even touched it.”

“What the-“ Detective Baines exclaimed, rushing forward and grabbing the butt of the gun with a handkerchief.  His eyes narrowed on James accusingly. 

Just then, Brooke, Miranda and Stormy appeared in the doorway, startled by the gunshot echoing through the house.   “What’s going on?” Miranda exclaimed.  “Daddy, are you all right?”

“Your father just accidentally fired his gun,” Baines said, looking at him skeptically.  “Unless that was a staged attempt to throw off the ballistics reports.”

What?” James asked with a frown.  “Why would you think I’d do something like that?”

“So our tests wouldn’t be able to prove anything, that’s why!” Baines shouted, looking at the gun in his hand with regret.  Something inside told him that James fired it intentionally to throw them off. 

“I can assure you, Detective, it was an accident.  It must have a hair trigger.  Maybe you could have your people take a look at it for me.”

Miranda eyed her father, then looked at Brooke standing beside her.  She knew something was going on.  First her father lied about having the gun when he went to Will’s house the other night.  Now he fired it in an obvious attempt at throwing off their investigation.  Something told her there was more going on than he was letting on.

Jordan Rydell

Downstairs, Jordan and Heather heard the gunshot and quickly ran to the door of the library.  Startled by the commotion, Heather dropped the videotape onto the sofa and it slid down between the cushions.   They ran out to the hallway and down to the foyer to see what was going on.

Ethan's House

Janet turned on the television at Ethan’s house, watching another news report come across about Will’s murder.   She sat down on the edge of the sofa, wrapping her arms around herself and watching with anticipation.

“Celebrations in Los Angeles today were cut short after the discovery of a body in this sprawling estate in the Hollywood Hills,” said the reporter standing just outside the gates of the Thomerson estate.   “The body of producer Will Thomerson was discovered early this morning by his limousine driver.  Details of the death are still sketchy at this time, but sources say that foul play is suspected.  Thomerson was absent last night from the Filmmakers awards ceremony at the Kodak Theater.  The award for Best Film was given to the former Broadway producer, an honor that will now be forever known as his last.”

Janet switched off the television and walked over to her purse resting on the sofa table.   She opened it and removed the .38 revolver, turning it around in the light and examining it closely.   She shut her eyes tightly, praying that Ethan would come home soon so she could tell him everything.   She had to before it was too late.

Jordan Rydell

Jordan drove his Mercedes along the dirt packed road just beneath a ridge in the canyons.   He made his way along the tree-strewn, deserted area and pulled up alongside Alex’s town car.

Pushing a pair of shades over his eyes, he got out of the car and walked over to where Alex was waiting for him.

“What’s with the cloak and dagger stuff?” he asked, looking around at their surroundings. 

Alex grabbed his arm and led him to the other side of the car.  “I had to see you and I wanted to make sure we weren’t seen talking,” she said, her head wrapped in a scarf and her eyes shielded by enormous sunglasses.   “Jordan, we have to talk about what happened.”

He shook his head adamantly.  “No, we don’t.”

“Jordan!  No matter what’s happened you’re still my husband!  I’m worried about you!”

“Look!  I cannot talk about this with you!” he shouted, grabbed her by the shoulders and shaking her firmly.  “Just go home and try not to think about it!”

She shook her head, fighting back the tears.  “I burned your jacket,” she said in a low voice.   “There’s nothing left of it.  They won’t be able to prove that you were there.  They won’t be able to prove that either one of us were there!”

“They will if you don’t stop it!” Jordan yelled.   “You have got to calm down.  Just go home to Malibu and act normal.   Please Alex, or you’re going to make things worse.”

Nodding reluctantly, Alex sunk her head down and allowed Jordan to lead her back to the driver’s seat of the car.   She got inside and started the engine, glancing at him once more before lurching forward along the gravel road.

Stormy Blackthorne

“Are you okay?” Stormy asked as he walked into Heather’s bedroom.

She shrugged, frowning at him as she tidied her room.   I’m fine.  It’s James and Brooke you should be worried about.  It’s their son and your brother that may never be found now that Will Thomerson is dead.” 

Stormy shook his head adamantly.  “I mean, are you okay?”

Heather stopped what she was doing and shot him a curious look.  “Why do you keep asking me that?” she asked.  “First my father comes over here and now you-“    She stopped, her hands cupping her mouth in horror when she realized that Stormy knew the truth.  “Oh my God….you know?”

“I know that Will Thomerson used you,” Stormy said.  “And I know about Philip and what happened in the director’s office.”

“Stormy, I-“

“You don’t have to say anything,” he cut her off.  “I’m so sorry that this happened to you, Heather.  If I could have stopped it I would have.  I would do anything to take that pain and humiliation away from you.  Anything.”

Heather looked at him in bewilderment.  She knew how much he wanted to protect her, and how much he still felt responsible for her.   Was it possible that he had something to do with Will’s murder?  First her father and now Stormy. 

Outside in the hallway, Brett rubbed his chin, wondering what exactly Stormy had done for Heather.  It would be just like him to be so stupid as to kill someone for her.

Alex Reynolds

Later, James was on the phone in his study when Alex rushed in from the foyer.  She waited impatiently for him to finish his conversation, lighting a cigarette and pacing around the office.

“Fine.  Have Mr. Littleton call me as soon as he gets in,” James said into the phone before hanging up.  He sighed and looked at Alex, waving off a cloud of smoke that enveloped him.  “Alex, what do you want?”

She frowned, stepping closer to him.  “Was that Ed Littleton?  The assistant district attorney?  What were you calling him about?  Does this have to do with Will’s murder?”

James shook his head dismissively.  “No, it doesn’t.  It’s about my uncle.”

“Your Uncle Nathan?” Alex gasped.  “What on earth were you talking to the assistant D.A. about him for?  He’s still in Paris, isn’t he?”

James barely acknowledged Alex’s dismay as he fiddled with stacks of papers on his desk.  “I’m trying to get the charges against him dropped so he can come back to Hollywood where he belongs.”

“James, you can’t!” Alex exclaimed.  “Why on earth would you want that man back here after what he did?”

“That was twenty years ago, Alex,” James deadpanned.  “The man was my idol growing up.  He’s the reason I wanted to move to Hollywood and got into the business.  He’s one of the most brilliant actors and directors of all time.”

“Brilliant isn’t the word I would use for him,” Alex said, her tone full of sarcasm.

“Anyway, if the D.A. agrees to drop the charges, he can come back to the United States and not worry about being arrested.  I’m hoping if I get enough support we can convince them.”

“Well count me out!” Alex lamented, growing increasingly distraught over the idea of the exiled Nathan Blackthorne returning to Hollywood.  “Anyway, that’s not why I came here to talk to you.  I wanted to see what you know about Will’s murder.”

“What makes you think I know anything?” James asked with a frown.

Rolling her eyes, Alex puffed away at her cigarette and flopped down in the chair across from his desk.  “Because you were his enemy number one.  Are you telling me the police haven’t been around to question you?”

“No,” James said.  “They did come by but so far there hasn’t been anything for them to go on.  And hopefully it will stay that way.”

“What do you mean?”

James grinned and looked at her dead on.  “Do you think anybody cares that he’s dead, or who killed him?” he asked.  “Come on, Alex, the man was going around terrorizing people, he kidnapped my son, he-“

“Well if he did kidnap Michael, then how are you ever going to find him?” Alex demanded, standing up again and leveling her eyes on him.

“I’m sure it will all work out,” James said with a shrug.

Alex shook her head, knowing that James knew something just by the look on his face.  She knew him too well.  “You don’t seem very worried about it,” she said.  “Just please tell me what is going on.  Do they have a suspect or not?”

“Don’t ask questions I can’t answer,” James shot back, fixing his eyes cleverly on her as he sat down and continued with a stack of paperwork.

Alex didn’t like the sound in his voice.  Should she be worried?  Was Jordan aware that the police had already been to James and questioned him?  So many thoughts ran through her mind, and so many questions that were yet to be answered.

After Alex left, James sat thoughtfully at his desk and picked up the phone, dialing the only person who could help him.

Kenny DeWitt

Kenny DeWitt was up to his old tricks again.  He’d been a model of monogamy since his wife Renee found him in bed with Winter Austen a year ago, and since then things had gone smoothly in their marriage.  Until he walked into the bar at Hotel Terranova a week ago and met the deliciously dirty B.J. Summers.  She had it all.   She was white, beautiful, stacked, and had blond hair for miles.  After an hour or so of small talk, they wound up screwing in the back of his limousine – his favorite place for tawdry hookups – which was where they were now when his phone started ringing.

“Damnit,” Kenny said, dismounting and rolling over onto the red leather seat.  He picked up the car phone and answered with a breathless groan.   “Kenny DeWitt.”

“Kenny, it’s James.  I need your help.”

Kenny immediately forgot about B.J.  He owed James big time and had made a promise long ago that he’d come through for him whenever he needed it.  “James, what’s up?” he asked, his face beaded with sweat from the vigorous lovemaking.

“I need you to tell a little lie for me.  If anybody asks, we were together last night.  All night.”

Kenny nodded.  “Of course, James.  You’ve got it.”  He paused, slapping B.J.’s hand away as she tried to entice him.   “Does this have anything to do with Will Thomerson’s murder?”

James sighed, rubbing his face with his hand.  “I don’t think you want to know.”

Miranda Blackthorne

That afternoon, Miranda found Brooke in the family room, standing by the desk staring at a picture of her, James and Michael.   She walked into the room and cleared her throat to announce her presence.  When Brooke looked up and saw her, she immediately grew nervous, setting the picture down and moving out onto the terrace.

“Have you seen my father?” Miranda asked as she followed her outside.

Sighing, she stared out at the grounds and nodded her head.  “He went downtown to talk to Detective Baines,” she said.  “He called and said they had the results from the ballistics test on James’s gun.”

“The gun that my father lied about?” Miranda asked.

“What?” Brooke asked, shooting her a quick stare.

“We both know that he took it to Will’s house the other night.  We found the empty box in the dresser drawer.  Why did he lie to the detective?  And why did he fire the gun unless it was to throw off their lab tests?”

“I don’t know, Miranda,” Brooke said, growing frustrated by her questions.

“I think you do,” Miranda said, turning Brooke to face her.  “And I also think you know that Will Thomerson didn’t kidnap Michael, don’t you?”

What?”

“My father went over there last night, didn’t he?” she continued.  “Because you were so upset about Michael and you were so sure that Will had kidnapped him.  But I don’t believe that my father would have killed him if he thought he was the kidnapper.”

“Miranda, maybe you should discuss this with your father when he gets home,” Brooke said, trying to skirt past her and walk back inside.

“No, I want you to tell me what happened,” she insisted, pulling her back firmly.  “You know, I’ve tried to give you the benefit of the doubt these last few months, Brooke.  I felt for you because your son had been taken away from you.  But now I’m more sure than ever that you are nothing but trouble when it comes to this family.”

“Please, just leave me alone,” Brooke said with irritation.

“If my father killed Will Thomerson for you and he has to go to prison, I will never forgive you, and you’ll be sorry you ever came into our lives,” Miranda said, staring at her with a biting glare before turning and rushing back inside.

Brooke stood on the terrace, burying her face in her hands in despair.  She was overwrought with confusion, not knowing what to do or who to turn to.  If only she could talk to Ethan.  James said he was away on business, but something inside told her there was more to it.  He wouldn’t have up and taken off like that.

Brett Armstrong

Brett walked down the stairs to the foyer, spotting Leilani making her way to the dining room and calling over to her.

“Leilani, have you seen my briefcase?” he asked.  “I have a meeting at the office and I’m late.”

Leilani thought for a second and then nodded eagerly.  “I think it’s in the library, Mr. Armstrong,” she replied before continuing on her way.

Quickly, Brett made his way into the library and scouted around for his missing briefcase.   He sighed, placing his hands on his hips as he inspected the room carefully.   He leaned over the sofa and peered behind it, then lifted the pillows and checked under them.  A frustrated groan escaped his throat and he threw his hands up in resignation. 

Suddenly, his eyes darted past a videotape nestled between the cushions and he reached down to pick it up.   Squinting at the small print on the label, he read the name quietly to himself.

Joel Armitage project,” he whispered over and over again.  For some reason the name struck a familiar chord, but he couldn’t quite decide why. 

After a few seconds, he raised an eyebrow, suddenly recalling that Joel Armitage was one of the biggest adult film directors in the business.  He’d seen many of his films and had acquired a great deal of respect for the man’s abilities as a director.

His curiosity too great to ignore, he walked across the room and placed the tape in the VCR.   Seconds later, the film started and Brett immediately recognized Philip Whitacre, kneeling on an old sofa with another man he couldn’t place.  When their bodies moved positions and the camera changed angles, he quickly spotted Heather laying on the sofa, completely naked and oblivious to the two men having intercourse with her.

Brett’s eyes flashed open, suddenly realizing why Stormy had been so adamant about protecting Heather.   Will Thomerson must have set the whole thing up when he found out Heather had infiltrated his camp and stole movies scripts from him. 

Ejecting the tape, he quickly placed it in his jacket and left the room.

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy knocked on the door to Ethan’s house and glared menacingly at Janet Harper when she opened the door.   Before she could close it again, Stormy forced his way inside.

“Ethan’s not here,” she said with irritation.  Stormy was one thing she didn’t need to deal with right now.

“I didn’t come to see Ethan,” he shot back.

Janet studied him carefully.  “Then what do you want?”

“I can’t believe you have the nerve to stick around after what you did to me,” he said angrily.

“What?” Janet asked in surprise.

“The pictures of Samantha Fallmont and I,” he reminded her.  “Samantha was right about one thing.  You get some sick, twisted enjoyment out of hurting people, don’t you?  Why did you even bother to send the photos to Samantha when you’d already shown them to her husband?  Was that just to twist the knife a little deeper?”

“I don’t have time for this,” Janet said and opened the door again.  “If you don’t mind, I’d like to be alone.”

Stormy offered a contemptible grin and folded his arms.  “You’ve certainly made yourself at home here.  I guess my cousin Ethan still hasn’t figured out what a troublemaker you are.”

“You have a lot of room to talk,” Janet said and slammed the door closed.   She turned to him and scowled angrily.  “You’re a walking billboard for an STD with as many women as you drop your pants for.  You’re lucky the only thing you’ve caught is the brunt of Timothy Fallmont’s wrath.”

Rolling his eyes, Stormy looked into her eyes and wondered what it was Ethan saw in her.  True, she was classy and beautiful, but she was more dangerous than either of them probably knew.  

“I can imagine what Ethan would say if he were to find out about your affection for voyeurism and erotic photography,” Stormy quipped.  “What other little secrets are you hiding?”

Swallowing hard, she thought about her manuscript and how hard she’d tried to keep Ethan from finding out about it.  The unfortunate thing was that after everything she’d done, she still hadn’t been able to get a hold of it.

“I’d think twice about telling Ethan anything,” Janet said, her tone full of warning.  “I’d hate to have to go to the police and tell them that you were at Will Thomerson’s house last night.”

Stormy regarded her carefully, wondering if she was bluffing.   “I was with someone last night,” he said.  “The police have already talked to her and she’s sworn that she was with me.”

Janet laughed.  “Well, once the police determine the time of death, they’ll probably ask her again.  And I’m assuming she won’t be able to swear to being with you all night.  I mean, you’re obviously young so I don’t imagine you have much stamina.  Anything else would just be too unbelievable.”

His eyes narrowing on her, Stormy took a step closer.  “What did you see exactly?”

Janet shrugged and walked away with a playful smile.  “I saw enough,” she said.

Stormy, caught off guard by the fact that she’d seen him, suddenly began to sweat profusely.   He hadn’t expected there to have been any witnesses.  One word from Janet could send his alibi into the gutter, especially if the police found out about Heather and established his motive.  But as long as there was no proof of what happened to Heather in Armitage's office, he was free and clear.

Jasmes Blackthorne

James stood in a waiting room at the police station.   He paced back and forth anxiously until Detective Baines emerged from the back.

“Mr. Blackthorne, thank you for coming down to see me,” he said.  “I have the results from the ballistics report we did on your gun, and on the bullet that killed Will Thomerson.”

“And?”

“It was a .38 that was used in the murder,” Baines declared.  “That much we know.”

“And what about my gun?” James asked anxiously.   He hoped that by firing it their tests would be thrown off.   Otherwise…

“Inconclusive,” the detective replied.   “There’s a possibility that your gun was fired more than once recently, but it’s impossible to tell for sure.”

Relieved, James let out a deep breath.  “Well, I can assure you it was just the once.”

“Yes, the accident back at your house,” Baines offered sarcastically.

James smiled.  “It was an accident,” he said.  “Anyway, have they completed the autopsy?  Do they know the time of death?”

“Yes,” Baines said, reluctant to give him much more information.   “He died around seven o’clock of a gunshot wound to the chest.   He also suffered a pretty severe blow to the head.”

“A blow to the head?” James asked with surprise.

Detective Baines nodded.  “Nothing serious enough to kill him,” he said.  “We haven’t been able to pinpoint how or when he got the head injury either.”

“Interesting,” James said, rubbing his face in concentration.

“It’s interesting if you believe that he only had one visitor last night,” Detective Baines said.  “But from the looks of it, he went through hell before he finally bit the bullet.  No pun intended.”

James frowned, studying the detective carefully.  “So you think more than one person showed up at his house with the intent to kill him?”

“That or just to get information out of him.  His study was torn apart, almost as if someone was looking for something.  Any chance you were one of those people, Mr. Blackthorne?”

James quickly hid his tightening jaw line.  “No.”

“There are more tests we can do on your gun,” Baines said.  “It’ll just take more time.  It might be easier if you come clean now.   Did you go to Will Thomerson’s house last night?”

Before James could reply, an officer rushed up and handed Baines a stack of paper bound with three clasps on the side.   “We found this at the scene.  It was buried under some papers.  I thought you might want to take a look at it.”

Baines took the papers from him and looked at them blankly.  James moved up behind him and peered over his shoulder.  He read the title page of the manuscript and his eyes widened in shock.

“What the-“ he began, then looked at Baines in bewilderment.  “I don’t believe this.” 

The Blackthornes Exposed: Secrets of a Hollywood Family by Janet Harper,” Baines read aloud, shaking his head in astonishment. 

Blackthorne Mansion

Back at the mansion, Brett crept down the upstairs hallway and paused outside of Stormy’s bedroom.  He pushed the door open and peered inside, cautiously making sure the room was empty.   Once he was satisfied that the coast was clear, he ducked inside and quickly moved over to the dresser.

After pulling out one of the drawers, he reconsidered and closed it again, glancing around for another inconspicuous spot to plant the evidence.

Moving over to the closet, he pulled the door open and reached into his pocket with a handkerchief, carefully removing the videotape so as not to leave any fingerprints.  With incredible caution he reached up to the top shelf and popped the tape into an empty shoe box.  

Satisfied, he turned and skirted back out of the room completely unseen. 

Brett Armstrong

Minutes later, Brett was standing at a phone booth in a neighboring lot close to Sunset Studios.  He dialed a phone number and waited for an answer, covering the receiver with a handkerchief to disguise any background noises.  

“Witness hotline,” said the woman on the phone.

“Yeah, I saw a man go into Will Thomerson’s house last night,” Brett said, effectively disguising his voice.  “He was about twenty-four, six feet tall, medium build, and had spiky black hair.”  He squinted, trying to recall what Stormy had been wearing that morning when he came back from his all night tryst.  “He was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and a black leather jacket.”

Before the operator could request further information, Brett hung up the phone and smiled wickedly.  With any luck the police would put two and two together and their efforts would lead them directly to Stormy.  Finally he’d be out of his hair for good. 

 


Next time....

Janet is questioned when her manuscript is made public.  Stormy is arrested. Miranda suspects Jordan.  Heather and Stormy are warned not to be seen talking.  Heather begs Alex to spare Jordan.  

 

Read Episode 45

 

 


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