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Episode 49


Release Date:  January 13, 2007

 Read the episode Recap 



Joel Armitage was struck by a car and killed while running from Ethan and the police.  Before he died, he admitted that Will Thomerson had kidnapped Michael and given him to him.  Later, they stopped Missy Armitage from running away with Michael, returning him to Brooke's arms at the police station.  Ethan was then filled with regret because James still believed himself to be Michael's father, even though he finally knew the truth.  Brooke's bail was denied and the judge insisted she be charged with first degree murder.  Kenny begged Renee to reconsider the divorce.  A suspicious Miranda questioned Brett about his role in Stormy's frame job.  Alex pleaded with Jordan to drop his plight in getting Nathan Blackthorne cleared of charges so that he could return to Hollywood.  




Episode 49

"The Stray Bullet"


The news coverage of that morning’s events came fast and furious.  Every television, radio and print media had swiftly secured headlines and broadcasts detailing the death of Joel Armitage, as well as the discovery that the Hollywood porn director had illegally adopted Michael Blackthorne.  As soon as they’d heard the news, Stormy and Heather raced back to the courthouse.

“Is it true?” Heather asked as she and Stormy approached Miranda and Brett in the waiting area.  “Did they find Michael?”

Miranda wrung her hands anxiously together and stared at the ticking clock.  “Yeah, he’s in the detention area right now with Brooke and James.”

“Is he okay?” Stormy asked.  “Did Joel Armitage really have him this whole time?”

Brett put a hand on Miranda’s shoulder and nodded with conviction.  “Apparently Thomerson gave him to the Armitage’s.  Some kind of payback for James. Armitage's wife tried running but they fired a warning shot and she surrendered.”

Staring distantly at the floor, Heather grew into a daze and thought about the disgusting things Will Thomerson had done before he died.  She shook her head and resisted the urge to cry.  “I can’t help but think part of this is my fault,” she said distantly.

“Why would you say that?” Miranda snapped.  “What Will Thomerson and Joel Armitage did to you had nothing to do with Michael’s kidnapping.  You were a victim as much as anybody.”

Suddenly Brett chimed in, a wicked tone to his already wavering voice as he rested his accusing eyes on Heather.  “Actually, I think Heather’s right.”

What?” Stormy demanded with a deep frown embedded in his face.

“If she hadn’t double crossed Thomerson then he wouldn’t have set her up on that phony audition with Joel Armitage,” Brett reasoned.  “They might never have met and then Michael wouldn’t have been living with strangers for all these months.”

“You son of a bitch!” Heather screamed and lunged forward.  She attacked him mercilessly, slamming her fists into his chest and pummeling him against the wall.  “How dare you!”

Miranda shot up from her seat and physically restrained Heather, although something inside her wanted Brett to get what he deserved for the nasty remark.   “Heather, stop it!” she exclaimed.

But Heather fought her step-sister for control and continued her assault, raising her hand and slapping Brett clean across the face.  “I hate you!  Do you hear me?  I hate you!”

Stormy couldn’t help but smile inside, amused by the look of fear on Brett’s smug face.  Finally Miranda managed to pull Heather off of her husband and safely drag her to the row of chairs across the hall.

“I’m only saying what’s on everyone’s mind,” Brett said defensively as he struggled to catch his breath and maintain his composure.  He ran his fingers through his hair to settle it back into place and adjusted the collar on his blazer. 

“Heather didn’t double cross Thomerson by herself,” Stormy reminded him.  “It was you who put her up to it just so you could win points with my father.  If this is anyone’s fault it’s yours, Brett!”

Just then, James and Ethan appeared from the detention area and approached them quickly.   The tenseness of the situation seemed to fade away and Miranda quickly raced up to her father.

“Daddy, what’s going on?  Where’s Michael?”

Unable to hide his pleased expression, James put his arm around his daughter and glanced at Stormy and Heather.  “They agreed to let Brooke have a few minutes by herself with him.  There’s a DNA specialist on his way to do a test to prove he’s really Michael.”

“Thank God,” Stormy said and pulled James into a strong embrace.  “At least one thing’s going right today.  How is Brooke?”

Sighing, James and Ethan exchanged worried glances.   “She’s happier than I’ve ever seen her.  I just pray that she’ll be able to handle it when Michael comes home and she’s still in this God forsaken place.”

“Talk about impossible situations,” Miranda mused and reached out for Ethan’s hand.  “We finally get Michael back and Brooke’s in jail being charged with murder.”

James nodded in agreement.  “I just pray that Brandon works up a defense good enough to get her out of there.”

Just then, Missy Armitage was led down the corridor by two police officers.  Behind them was a slew of reporters snapping pictures and clamoring for a quote.  Missy’s head hung low and her eyes were wide and empty, staring at the floor in a trance.

Ethan watched her out of the corner of his eyes, his heart breaking for the pain the woman would have to endure.  Her husband was killed and now her son was being taken away from her.

Suddenly Missy’s eyes darted up and landed on James and Ethan.  For a few seconds time seemed to stand still.  She felt like she was walking in slow motion.  The sight of the man who’d taken her husband and son from her caused more pain than she could have imagined.  All she could remember next was looking down at the gun in the police officer’s holster.

The next few seconds seemingly lasted an eternity.  Missy’s hand darted to the gun and swiftly lifted it from its resting place.  Before the police officer could react, she raised it into the air and aimed it at Ethan.  Her vision cloudy with tears, she moved her hand onto the trigger.

“She’s got a gun!” one of the reporters screamed.  “Look out!”

Miranda’s eyes flashed open in horror and her mouth opened in a silent scream.  Stormy instinctively stepped in front of Heather to protect her from the chaos.  Brett cowered in the corner and closed his eyes tightly.

“No!” James yelled just as Missy pulled the trigger and fired the shot.  He pushed himself into action, using all his strength to shove Ethan out of the way.  The gunshot echoed through the corridor of the courthouse and instigated screams of terror and fear.

“Daddy!” Miranda screamed.

Heather recoiled in horror, the sound of the gunshot echoing through her ears and she cried out in a panic.  Shoving Stormy out of her way, she bolted down the hallway and dashed outside away from the chaos.

The bullet shot through the air and shattered into the far wall of the corridor.  James and Ethan plummeted to the floor and crashed onto one another, bruised but safely out of harms way.

Before Missy could fire again, the police tackled her to the ground, snatching the gun from her hand and securely placing her wrists into a pair of handcuffs.  

“Daddy, Ethan, are you okay?” Miranda exclaimed and bent down to her knees.

“I think so,” James said breathlessly and pulled Ethan up with him.   “Is everyone all right?”

Ethan took a deep breath and nodded, alarmed by the devastating turn of events.  He looked at James and embraced him warmly, grateful for his fast action and quick thinking.

“He took my baby!” Missy Armitage screamed, struggling to free herself from the handcuffs that bound her arms behind her back.  “He killed my husband and he took my baby!”

Reporters snapped photos and struggled for a clear view of the happenings.  The police quickly led Missy down the hall to the detention area, fighting to keep her upright in her state of despair and desperation.

Heather Blackthorne

Outside, Stormy dashed down the courthouse steps and raced over to Heather who buried her face in her hands as she stood beneath a tree in the grassy area off to the side.

“Heather, are you okay?” he asked, his voice full of concern.

She sobbed silently, the sound of the gunshot playing over and over in her mind.  She extended her arms and pulled Stormy into an embrace, crying into his chest and holding on as tight as she could.

Stormy smoothed his hand down the back of her head and tried his best to comfort her.  Quietly, he wondered why her reaction to the incident had been so extreme.

Miranda Blackthorne

That night at the Blackthorne mansion, Miranda sat in the conservatory tinkling the keys on the piano when Brett entered, his bare chest glistening with sweat after his workout in the gym.

“There you are,” he said and kissed her lightly on the neck.  “What are you doing in here all by yourself?”

Shrugging, she stared in a daze at the black and white keys, strumming a delicate melody and letting her mind wander effortlessly.   “Just thinking about today,” she said distantly.

Brett draped a towel around his neck and sat down in a nearby chair.  “Yeah, that was a close call.  That nutty woman could have killed Ethan.  She should be locked up for the rest of her life.”

Miranda’s face twisted into a look of disgust and she shot him a penetrating stare.  “She just lost her husband and her baby,” she spat.  “You’d think you could offer up a little more compassion, Brett.  Put yourself in her shoes.”

Alarmed by his wife’s sudden hasty reaction, Brett raised an eyebrow and looked into her eyes.  “Why are you getting so defensive?” he asked.  “What if she’d shot Ethan?  Or your father?  Would you still be on her side?”

Rolling her eyes, Miranda stood up and walked across the room.  “Sometime you can be so cruel,” she said.  “What was all that stuff with Heather today?”

“What stuff with Heather?” he asked.  “She freaked out and ran out of there like a scared rabbit.”

Miranda shook her head.  “No, I mean before that.  All that stuff about blaming her for Michael’s kidnapping.  Do you know how hateful you were being?”

Realizing she was in one of her moods, Brett threw his hands up in resignation and rose to his feet.  “I just think that she’s not as much of an innocent bystander as everyone thinks.”

“But it was you who put her up to that business with Will Thomerson,” Miranda said and leveled her eyes directly on him.  “How can you put the blame on Heather when this whole thing has your name written all over it?”

“Why are you attacking me?” Brett asked with a perplexed look on his face.  “I didn’t kidnap Michael, I didn’t shoot Will Thomerson, and I didn’t pull that gun on Ethan today at the courthouse.  But strangely enough, I’m the one you want to blame for all of it.  And frankly, I’m getting a little sick of it.”

Before Miranda could reply, Brett was darting out of the room and down the hall to the family room.  She shook her head in frustration.  Brett had a clever way of making himself look like the victim in everything.  No, he didn’t kidnap anyone or kill anyone, but his hands weren’t exactly clean either.  He did put Heather in danger by having her seduce Will Thomerson.  She wondered again if he also was the one who planted the videotape in Stormy’s closet and phoned in the phony anonymous tip.  One thing was for certain, she was bound to get to the bottom of it one way or the other.

Making her way out of the conservatory, she started down the hall and up the stairs to their bedroom.  When she reached the top landing, she heard the faint sounds of crying and whimpering from Heather’s bedroom.

Frowning, she inched over to the door and paused to listen.  Carefully turning the knob and walking inside the dark room, she saw Heather laying on her bed tossing and turning in a nightmarish fit.

“Heather?” she asked and rushed over to the bed.  It was clear that the young woman was dreaming of something awful.  She gently shook her to wake her up.  Seconds later, Heather screamed out and shot up on the bed with a shriek, her skin cold and clammy and her nightgown soaked in sweat.

“Are you okay?” Miranda asked and placed a hand gently on hers.  “Heather?”

After a few moments, Heather caught her breath and stared at Miranda with wide eyes.  “I think so,” she said breathlessly.  “It was just a dream, that’s all.”

“Well, what was it about?” Miranda asked, her voice full of concern.  “You were tossing and turning like crazy.”

Shaking her head, Heather laid back down and stared blankly at the ceiling.  “It was nothing,” she said.  “Nothing at all.”

Unsure whether to believe her or not, Miranda went into the bathroom and ran a washcloth under the cold water for a few minutes.  She returned and placed it gently on Heather’s forehead.  Something told her that Heather was being torn apart inside by the events of the past few days.  The only question was why?

Ethan Blackthorne

When Ethan got home that night he threw his keys onto the table inside the entryway and ran his hand over his face.  He was exhausted and drained after the emotional last few hours.  He unfolded a piece of paper with his name scribbled on the outside.  A note from Janet expressing her apologies and then a quick goodbye.  He wasn’t surprised at all.  After James filled him in on her manuscript and her deal with Thomerson, he finally understood what her agenda had been all along.  Not that he could cast all the blame her way.  He used her as much as she used him. 

A million different thoughts raced through his mind as he sat down on the sofa and stared blankly at the far wall.

Michael was safe, temporarily in the custody of a state social worker until the results of the DNA test were made official.  The thought of his son in yet another’s stranger’s care was enough to send anxiety coursing through his veins.  On top of that, Brooke was in jail awaiting a first degree murder trial, and James was blindly under the impression that he was Michael’s father.  Everything was so messed up and it was difficult to find a silver lining.

Brooke’s declaration played over and over in his mind.  He couldn’t think of anything else…

“It isn’t fair,” Brooke finally said after a long silence.   She turned to face him and took a deep breath.  “What I’ve done to you isn’t fair, Ethan.  I thought I was doing the right thing for my baby, and for James, but how can I keep lying?”

He looked into her eyes, his heart telling him what she was about to say with words.

“Michael is your son, Ethan,” Brooke continued…

Ethan closed his eyes and wrapped himself in the comforting knowledge that he finally knew the truth.  But now that he did things were even more complicated.  Would Brooke tell James the truth?  And if she did would James turn his back on them like he had before?

Jasmes Blackthorne

Early the next morning, James sat in the visitation room at the police station with Brooke.  Brandon stood by and looked over a stack of notes in preparation for detailing their defense strategy.

“I hate the thought of Michael being in some social workers care,” Brooke said listlessly as she held James’s hand across the table.  “He must be so confused."

“It’ll only be until they get the DNA tests back,” James assured her.  “As soon as they prove that he’s a match with your DNA he’ll be at home with me where he belongs.  And so will you.”

Brooke closed her eyes as a tear trickled down her cheek.  “I’m not so sure about that.”

“We’re going to get you out of here,” Brandon said and sat down next to James with his notes.  “Brooke, I know it’s difficult to concentrate on anything but Michael right now, but we have to go over what happened that night.  There’s got to be something that you missed.  Something that can help us prove that Thomerson’s murder wasn’t premeditated.”

Brooke sighed and shook her head in despair.  “There’s nothing.  I’ve already told you everything.”

Think, Brooke,” James insisted.  “Is there anything that you can think of that we’ve overlooked?”

Frustrated, Brooke struggled to recall the events of that night.  She burst into tears and shook her head fervently.  “No, there isn’t!  I told you.  We argued, I grabbed the gun and I shot him.  That’s all there is to it.  I am a cold blooded killer!”

“What time did you say you got to his house?” Brandon asked.

Brooke shrugged.  “I don’t remember.”

“Okay, what about afterwards?” Brandon asked.  “You said you drove around for a while.  Do you remember how long you drove around before you went home?”

Struggling to remember the horrific events, Brooke buried her face in her hands and cried.  “I don’t know.  It was a long time. “

“A long time as in an hour?  Half and hour?  What?”

“I don’t know!  I don’t remember!”

Losing hope, Brandon reached into his briefcase and removed a set of crime scene photographs.  Maybe something there would jar her memory.  “The coroner claims that Thomerson was killed at seven o’clock.”

“Seven o’clock?” Brooke asked, instantly looking up at him.  She frowned and then looked at James.  “Are you sure?”

“Why?” James asked.  “Do you remember something?”

Confusion settled in and Brooke placed a hand on her forehead.  “I just didn’t think it was already that late when I got to his house,” she said.  “I was only there for maybe ten minutes.  It was still light out when I left.”

James’s forehead creased and he looked at Brandon.  “The sun sets by seven o’clock.”

Brooke glanced across the table at the photographs and picked them up.  The sight of Will’s dead body laying on the floor of his parlor room made her stomach turn.  The bullet hole in his chest, gushing blood onto his white tuxedo shirt and dripping onto the carpet and seeping into the floor sent chills down her spine. 

Suddenly she frowned, examining the pictures more closely and scratching her head  in confusion.  “That’s strange…” she murmured under her breath.

“What?” Brandon asked hopefully.  “What is it?”

Brooke looked at him and then back at the photos.  “I’m not sure.  It’s just that…”  She paused, increasingly more distraught over what she saw.   “Did someone change his clothes?”

“What do you mean?” James asked.

 “Well, it’s just that when I was there that night he was dressed in a robe.  A smoking jacket or something.  He wasn’t wearing a tuxedo.”

James and Brandon looked at each other in amazement.  “Are you sure about that?” Brandon asked.

Nodding, Brooke looked at the pictures again. “Yes, I’m positive.  That much I can remember.  He was wearing a smoking jacket and a pair of black trousers.  He wasn’t wearing a tuxedo when I shot him.”

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda took a seat in the chair next to Detective Baines’ rusty metal tank desk and flipped her hair over her shoulder.   Dropping her purse in her lap and crossing her legs, she leveled her eyes on the detective and offered a vague smile.

“So what can I do for you, Mrs. Armstrong?” Baines asked.  “If this is about your step mother’s case or about the kidnapping then…”

“Uh, no, not exactly,” she cut him off.  “This is about my brother.  I’d like to find out who phoned in that tip claiming that they saw him leave Will Thomerson’s house the night he was murdered.”

Frowning, Baines folded his hand under his chin and studied her carefully.  “Mrs. Armstrong, the tip was anonymous.  The witness hotline operators do not ask for names when people phone in.  It’s standard procedure.  It’s to protect the anonymity of the caller.”

“But this caller was lying,” Miranda corrected him.  “The only person who saw Stormy leave Will’s house was Janet Harper, and she already said it wasn’t her who made the call.  So somebody was trying to frame my brother.  The same person who planted that videotape in his bedroom.”

“So why are you here and not your brother?”

Miranda shrugged.  “I’m just taking a proactive approach.  Now are you going to let me hear the tape or not?”

“It’s against regulations,” Baines firmly announced.  “I’m sorry.”

Realizing she had no alternative but to pull the spoiled Hollywood brat routine, Miranda leaned in closely and met his challenging gaze.  “Detective, I’m a fair woman.  I’d hate to have to go to my father and tell him that the police aren’t interested in trying to bring this anonymous tipster to justice.  I’m not asking for much.  But I can assure you that my father won’t be too happy to hear that you are unwilling to do me this one favor.  I’m not even sure if he’ll continue to support the department in the annual charity ball.  How would the mayor like it if they didn’t get that annual check because of your devotion to regulations?”

Baines looked at her blankly, realizing that he was backed into a corner.

Renee DeWitt

The repeated sound of knocking at the door roused Renee Dewitt out of bed and she stumbled into the living room of her suite at Hotel Terranova.   Tightening the belt around her nightgown, she murmured to herself and reached for the door.

“Whoever it is this had better be an emergency,” she said irately.  “It’s barely nine in the morning.”

Finally she pulled the door open and let out a deafening shriek at the sight of the young woman standing in the hallway.  “Sierra!”

“Hello mother,” said the young woman with a toothy grin.  “I’m sorry if I woke you.”

Renee pulled her inside and threw her arms around her tightly.  “Don’t be ridiculous, Darling!  It’s so good to see you!  What are you doing here?”

Sighing with despair, Sierra walked down into the sunken living room and flopped onto the white cushy sofa.  “I’m on winter break.  Besides, I had to come see you, Mother.  I read about your divorce from Kenny and I was worried.” 

Sierra Merteuil was a stunning nineteen year old African American girl with light skin and curly brown hair.  Exceptional class and impeccable manners were the forefront of her personality.  Her dark eyes darted into Renee’s as if waiting for her to give an explanation for what happened.

“You didn’t need to worry yourself,” Renee finally said and sat down next to her. “You should have called me and told me you were coming, Darling.  Tell me, how is school?”

Sierra rolled her eyes and shifted on the sofa.  “Not so good,” she said.

“But Cambridge is the best university in Europe, Sierra,” Renee said with a frown.  “It was your dream to go there.  What happened?”

She shrugged and got up, pacing the room and pausing long enough to grab a handful of grapes from a bowl.  “I guess I’m just a little bored with Europe,” she said.  “I’ve lived there my entire life.  I never get to come here and see you.  You only come to England once a month.  It just gets lonely.”

“Well what about your friends?” Renee asked.

“They’ve all moved away.  Since the fall semester started I’ve been on my own.”

“Oh, Darling, I’m so sorry.  I had no idea you were so unhappy.”

Sierra turned and looked at her mother with pleading eyes.  “I was hoping you’d say that because I’ve made a decision,” she said.  “I want to come here and stay with you.”

Renee tried to hide her surprise.  “Well, Sweetheart, I think it would be wonderful if you could visit for a while.”

She shook her head.  “I don’t mean just a visit, Mother.  I want to stay here in L.A. permanently.  I want to get to know my mother.  You adopted me when you were just a little older than I am now.  Maybe you were too young back then but now it’s different.  We should be close.  I want us to be close, Mother.  Please say we can.”

Fully aware of the risks involved with Sierra’s sudden appearance in L.A., Renee pulled her into an embrace.  She struggled to think of a way to reason with her.  What her daughter didn’t know was that Kenny had no idea that she even existed.  And she didn’t want him finding out now.  There was too much to lose.

Brooke Taylor

Detective Baines rattled the keys in the door of the Thomerson estate, pushing it open and leading the small troupe into the musty entryway.  Behind him was James, Brandon, another uniformed officer, and Brooke, bound with a pair of handcuffs.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Brooke said with a sickly grimace as they entered the parlor room.

James put a hand on her arm in an effort to calm her.  “It’s very important, Brooke,” he said.  “It might be the key to getting you cleared of these charges.”

She shook her head in desperation.  “But I did it,” she insisted.  “I shot him.  I don’t understand how I can be cleared of anything.

“That’s why we’re here,” Brandon said as he pulled out the stack of photographs from his briefcase.  “We need to determine what you remember happening versus what the District Attorney thinks happened.”

Brooke sighed and tensed up as Detective Baines removed the handcuffs from her wrists.  She finally relaxed a little, rubbing the sore spots on her hands and looking around the dusty old room.  Being back there sent shivers up and down her spine.  The disturbing memories of that night came flooding back to her and she closed her eyes in an effort to push them away.

“Now the body was here when the police found him the morning after the murder,” Brandon said and motioned to the spot in the center of the room.  A tell-tale blood stain in the rug was still evident.

Brooke immediately frowned and shook her head.  “No, that’s not right,” she said, then pointed across the room to the fireplace.  That’s where he was standing when I shot him.”

James rubbed his forehead and walked over to the wall beside the fireplace.  “He was standing here?” he asked.

“Yes.  I’m positive.”

“And where were you standing?” Brandon chimed in.

Brooke moved across the room a bit and stopped two feet away from where James was positioned.  “Right here,” she said.

“Okay, and what happened?” asked Brandon.

Suddenly remembering everything vividly, Brooke held out her hand and pointed her index finger at James.  “I was holding the gun on him.  He came at me and tried to get it away but I pushed him back.  He might have hit the wall but I’m not sure.  All I know is that I shut my eyes and fired the gun.  When I opened them again he was laying right there on the floor.”

James tried to piece the events together in his mind.  Something didn’t add up.

“Brooke, they found the body at least four feet over from where you’re standing right now,” Brandon announced.  “Are you sure that this is where he fell?”

“Yes, I’m positive,” she replied.

James turned and examined the fireplace and the wall beside it.  He bent down and studied every inch carefully, running his hands slowly over the wall.

“What are you looking for?” Brandon asked.

James shrugged and kept searching.  “I have a theory,” he began.  “What if when Brooke fired the gun it missed Thomerson completely?  What if instead he hit his head on the brick when she pushed him away?  He could have been unconscious and appeared to have been shot.”

“That’s a long shot,” said Detective Baines.  “A person knows when they’re looking at a body that’s been shot.”

James turned and shrugged.  “Not necessarily.  According to Brooke she didn’t wait but a second or two before dropping the gun and rushing out of here.  She might have thought that she shot him but she really didn’t.”

Baines gave him a doubtful expression.  “That might hold up if you can actually find a bullet hole, but –“

“I just did,” James announced, running his hands over a bullet-sized hole in the wall directly beside the fireplace.

Will Thomerson

“Will Thomerson was a very disliked individual,” Brandon said as he paced the floor of Judge Anders’ chambers.   James, Brooke and Ed Littleton were seated in the chairs across from the Judge as they listened to Brandon’s recounting of the night of the murder.

“He had enemies that we probably don’t even know of, but the fact is that the night of his murder, he had several visits from people – all who had reason to kill him.”

Brooke wrapped her arms around herself, praying that their hunch was right.  At least if they could prove that she didn’t kill him, they could reopen the investigation and find the real killer.  Or better yet, let the whole thing drop and leave the man dead and buried.

“We know that Will called his driver and asked to be picked up for the Filmmakers Awards at eight o’clock,” Brandon explained…

Will stood in his bedroom in a silk smoking jacket, pulling his tuxedo from the closet and laying it carefully on the bed.  He smiled, lit a cigar and puffed gleefully.  The phone rang and he approached the bedside table where he lifted the receiver to his ear.

“Mr. Thomerson, it’s Lou,” said the caretaker from the guard shack.  “The driver was wondering when you wanted to leave for the Kodak Center.”

Will grinned and glanced down at the elegantly inscripted invitation to the Filmmakers Awards.  He put the tip of the cigar in his mouth and strolled across the room.  “Tell the driver to have the car ready by eight.”  A thoughtful pause.  “I plan on showing up fashionable late, just in time to accept my award."

“He might have been still getting ready and hadn’t yet gotten dressed because Brooke claims that he was in a smoking jacket when she arrived.  At six o’clock he heard a knock at the door.  It was Brooke…”

Brooke reached up with a gloved hand and pushed the doorbell at the Thomerson estate.  She waited with remarkable patience, quietly placing her hands in the pockets of her black leather jacket.   Moments later, Will answered the door and smiled knowingly.

“This is a surprise,” he said, cocky as ever.  After a moment or two, he shrugged and stood clear of the door.  “Well come in.  We might as well get it out of the way.”

Brooke entered the house and Will closed the door, the sound of crickets chirping in the night…

“They argued and he confessed to kidnapping her son.  He taunted her, refused to back down from his vendetta against James, and Brooke flew into a rage.  She picked up a gun that James had accidentally left behind the night before when he went there to threaten Thomerson.  Will laughed at her but Brooke meant business.  He tried to get the gun away from her but she pushed him back…”

Brooke clenched her teeth, aiming the gun at him and backing him up against the wall beside the fireplace.  “Don’t test me,” she said.  “Even if you’re dead we can still find him.  Somebody has to have him, and for the right amount of money I know they’ll come forward.  My husband is a wealthy man!”

The smile on Will’s face faded and he looked at her and the determination that he saw in her eyes.   Swallowing hard, he raced forward to get the gun from her.  They struggled and she pushed him away, sending him staggering back against the wall.  Unable to react in time, the back of Will’s head struck the heavy stone fireplace and he stood frozen for a few seconds.  Brooke pulled the trigger and closed her eyes when the shot rang out loudly, plugging the wall a foot away from where Will was standing.  A few seconds later, she opened her eyes and saw him slump to the floor, motionless.  She dropped the gun and backed up a step, staring in horror at the body laying at her feet.  The caretaker came around the corner from the dark entryway, his eyes wide with horror…

“When Brooke opened her eyes she assumed that she’d shot him so she left.  This is where there’s some confusion in the time frame we’re dealing with.  Brooke was in her car for probably almost an hour, driving around and trying to decide what to do next.”

“Did the coroner’s report say anything about a blow to the head?” Judge Anders asked as he listened to the account.

“Yes, and until now it was unexplained,” Brandon replied.  “The position of the head trauma matches up directly with the position he would have been in when he hit the wall of the fireplace.”

“So you’re saying that someone else came in after Mrs. Blackthorne left and shot him for real?” asked Ed Littleton, the prosecutor.  “Come on. That’s a colorful theory but you have no proof.”

“If you’ll permit me to continue, your honor,” Brandon said, disregarding the prosecution’s remarks.  “We think that Will was unconscious for about fifteen minutes.  He woke up when he heard pounding on the front door…”

Will winced from the dull pain in the back of his head.  He slowly sat up and tried to shake off the groggy sensation.  A loud thud repeated over and over and after a minute or so he finally realized that it wasn’t in his head. 

Struggling to his feet, he staggered into the entryway, pausing to regain his focus and balance.  After a few seconds he took a deep breath and pulled open the door.  He looked at Alex cross-eyed, bracing himself up against the door and placing a hand on his head.  “What are you doing here?  I’m not in the mood for you tonight, Alex.”

“I came to talk to you about James and Ethan,” Alex said, pushing her way past him and walking into the entry.

Irritated, Will closed the door and turned toward her.  He swayed back and forth on his feet, stumbling a few steps and struggling to maintain his balance.   “What about James and Ethan?” he asked crossly.

Alex studied his face carefully, noting the way his eyes glazed over…

“Ms. Reynolds told James that Thomerson seemed a little off balance when she arrived,” Brandon explained.  “But she grilled him anyway.  They went a few rounds and then she left without incident.  This is when Will finally went upstairs and got dressed.  He put on his tuxedo and when he came back downstairs Stormy Blackthorne was in the parlor room waiting for him.  He’d found the gun that Brooke had used when she thought she’d killed him, and he threatened him with it.  He was angry about what Thomerson had done to his ex-wife.  He and Jordan Rydell had tracked Joel Armitage down that afternoon and gotten the whole story from him first hand.  Stormy wanted revenge.  He wanted to make the man pay for what he’d done, but after thinking it over he realized that killing him wasn’t the answer…”

Stormy dropped the gun and went after Will with his bare hands.  Killing him would solve nothing, he decided.  Real revenge would be making him suffer like he’d made Heather suffer.

“You sick son of a bitch!” Stormy shouted, wrapping his hands around Will’s neck and tightening them with all his might.   He drew one fist back and sent it shattering into Will’s face, sending him flying across the desk and onto the floor. 

Quickly, Will climbed to his feet and punched Stormy in return.   He staggered back and tripped, hitting his forehead on the corner of the desk and wincing from the pain.  Lifting his hand, he felt the blood trickle down his forehead and then he slumped to the floor unconscious….

“Brooke Blackthorne didn’t remember seeing Stormy there when she supposedly killed Thomerson because Stormy hadn’t even been there yet,” Brandon said with exhilaration evident in his voice.  “The timeframe here works because according to Janet Harper’s statement, she arrived at the house at approximately 6:45pm .  She had a gun and she planned on using it.  Maybe not to kill Thomerson, but at least to scare him into giving her manuscript back to her.  But when she arrived, she heard yelling inside and realized he wasn’t alone.  She waited outside in the bushes for a few minutes.  The yelling stopped when Stormy was knocked unconscious.  I think this is when the real killer fired the fatal shot.”

“So where was the killer?” Littleton asked with an amused frown.  “He or she just magically appeared?  If Janet Harper was outside the house when the murder happened then she would have seen the killer go inside.”

“Unless the killer used the back door.  Or maybe the killer was in the house the whole time.  They could have been waiting for the right opportunity to strike.”  Brandon looked at his notes and then back at the judge…

Will looked down at Stormy’s motionless body on the floor.  He sighed with frustration and darted across the room to the wall safe camouflaged by a painting.  Twisting the knob a few times, he pulled open the heavy metal door and removed a black videotape.  It was clear that his role in setting Heather up was no longer a secret.  Soon others would be coming around and demanding answers.  He wanted to make sure that the videotape was secure in the event that there was another break in. 

Shoving the tape inside his breast pocket, he started back across the room and bent down to check Stormy’s pulse.  At least he was still breathing.

Suddenly a sound from behind. 

He stood up and turned around with a start.

The killer lifted James’s gun from the floor and pointing it directly at him. 

“What are you doing?” he asked, moving across the room in search of something to defend himself with.  “Put that down.  You’re going to kill someone.”

The last thing he saw was a blinding flash of light.  White hot, searing pain coursed through his entire body and he slowly slumped to the floor, his eyes open wide before slowly closing forever.  The last thing he saw was the killer standing above with an expressionless face…”

“Janet heard the gunshot and decided to wait a minute longer,” Brandon said, confident that they had arrived at the right conclusion.  “The killer probably left through the back door or some other way.  Then Stormy woke up…”

Opening his eyes with a start, Stormy shot to his feet, wiping a trickle of blood from his forehead.  He immediately looked to the floor across the room and saw Will laying motionless in a pool of blood.  He stepped forward and grimaced at the gruesome sight, then looked around the room in a panic.  Someone had come in and shot him in the few minutes that he was unconscious.  The killer could still be there.  Or worse yet, someone could see him leaving and think that he did it.

Without wasting another second, he dashed for the front door and raced down the steps into the yard.  Janet rose from her position hidden away in the bushes and clearly made out Stormy’s face.  She looked back at the house and placed a beating hand on her chest.  Suddenly the manuscript wasn’t so important to her any more.  She dashed down the drive and up the street where her car was parked…” 

“The next thing that happened was Jordan Rydell showed up.  He had a gun and he planned to use it.  He wanted to kill the man who’d caused his daughter so much grief,” said Brandon as he looked around the room at each person present.  “But when he got there he realized that someone had beaten him to it.  He examined the body, found the videotape in his jacket and then wiped the fingerprints off of the gun.  He wanted to make sure the person responsible wasn’t held accountable for killing someone so vile and contemptible.  This was when Alex Reynolds showed up again.  She was worried that her husband would do something drastic so she went back.  When she came in she found him standing over the body wiping the fingerprints off of the gun.  She immediately assumed that he’d killed him….”

Jordan!” she gasped, her hands plastered to her mouth.  “Is he dead?”

Jordan looked at her and then back at the body.  He shoved the handkerchief in his pocket and raced over to her, grabbing her by the shoulders.   “Alex, go home,” he demanded in an authoritative manner.  “You shouldn’t be here.”

“I was afraid you were going to do something drastic so I came here and-“ Alex stammered, too strained with despair to think straight.  “Oh God, Jordan…I can’t believe he’s really dead.”

“Alex, you have to go!” Jordan exclaimed.  “I cannot afford to be seen here!”

“Alex left and then Jordan left the same way he came, through the back door,” Brandon announced.  “About this time Brooke showed up back at the mansion and told James that she’d killed Thomerson.  James knew he had to protect her so he went to the Thomerson estate and when he arrived, his nephew Ethan was there.  He’d also gone to the house to have it out with Will…”

“He’s dead,” Ethan said, kneeling over the body and soaking the sleeve of his jacket in blood.  “Somebody shot him.”

“It was Brooke,” James said, staring with wide eyes at the corpse of his nemesis.  “He admitted to her that he kidnapped Michael and she shot him.”

Ethan’s eyes widened and he quickly went to work at tearing the study apart.

“What are you doing?” James asked.  “Ethan, don’t touch anything.”

“I worked with him,” he said, pulling open drawers and emptying them out onto the desk.  “They won’t think twice if they find my prints in here.  I’ve got to find something that can tell us where Michael is.  He had to have kept notes or contracts or something!”

“So that’s how Ethan Blackthorne found the list of possible names that Thomerson might have given the baby to,” Judge Anders speculated.  “Interesting.”

“But you still haven’t given us a name,” Littleton said with a frown.  He stood up from his seat and looked down at Brooke.  “According to you people, anyone could have been the person who fired that fatal shot.  Anyone but friends or family, of course.”  He laughed, shooting the judge a look full of doubt.  “I’m sorry, your honor, but this all sounds a little too convenient to me.”

“You can’t argue with the facts,” James said irately.  “Everything we’ve told you adds up.  The bump on Thomerson’s head, the bullet hole in the wall, the fact that Thomerson had kidnapped my son and given him to Joel Armitage.”

“So give us a name!” Littleton argued.  “The D.A.’s office is not going to drop the charges against Mrs. Blackthorne unless you can give us a viable suspect!”  

“It could be anyone!” Brandon yelled.  “If he had this many enemies then who knows how many more there could be!  The whole city of Hollywood might have wanted him dead!  Judge Anders, please-“

“That’s enough,” ordered the judge.  “I’ve heard enough.  Mr. Marksman, your theory makes sense, and I’m inclined to believe that someone else may have perpetrated this crime, but I’m going to have to concur with Mr. Littleton on this.  Unless you have another suspect, I’m not going to dismiss the case against Mrs. Blackthorne.”

Brooke shook her head with exasperation, feeling powerless in the impossible situation.  James walked up and put his hand on her shoulder, aggravated by the fact that they were still stuck in the same position as before they learned the truth.  Brooke was still going to jail, no matter what evidence they found to prove her innocence.


Next time....

Miranda's fears are confirmed.  The D.A. won't budge in Brooke's case, despite the evidence clearing her.  Renee tenses when Sierra asks questions about Kenny.


Read Episode 50



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