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Episode 56

 

Release Date:  March 25, 2007

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Nathan returned to Los Angeles and was immediately taken into police custody. Jordan began to doubt Renee's story about Sierra's adoption, and after confronting her about it, she admitted that she was Sierra's birth mother.  James blasted Brooke for inadvertantly telling Ethan that Will was his father.  Miranda kicked Brett out, then boarded a plane to Mexico to get a quickie divorce.

 

 


 

Episode 56

"American Star"

 

Leilani opened the door at the Blackthorne mansion and greeted James and Nathan with an enthusiastic welcome.  They entered the foyer, followed by the limousine drivers who wheeled in several large designer trunks and suitcases.

“James, I don’t know how to thank you,” Nathan said.  “Your attorneys did a remarkable job of getting me released so quickly.  Eighteen hours in that cell was long enough.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” James cautioned his uncle.  “The D.A. hasn’t dropped the charges, despite all Jordan and I have done to try to convince him otherwise.”

“That’s painfully clear,” Nathan said and motioned to the sensor locked around his ankle.  “House arrest is better than jail, I suppose.  At least until they decide if a re-trial is in order.  And for the sake of our family, I hope it isn’t.  Don’t they get it that I’m innocent?”

“We’ll make sure that they do get it,” James promised, knowing in his heart that his mentor couldn’t have done the things they accused him of.  He was a good, descent man.  A man whom he looked up to since he was just a boy.   A man who he had wronged and had never had the opportunity to make it up to him.  This time he would.

Brooke and Stormy walked out from the parlor room and approached them eagerly. “James, how did everything go at the court house?” Brooke asked.  “What did the D.A. say?”

“I’ll fill you in later.”  His reply was short and bittersweet.  “I’d like you both to meet Nathan Blackthorne, the greatest actor and director this town has ever seen.”

“Welcome home, Nathan,” Stormy said and firmly shook his hand.  “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to finally meet you.  I’ve seen every one of your movies.  Dad has them all down in a refrigerated vault in the screening room.”

“Ryan, we have met before,” Nathan replied.  He’d left Hollywood before Stormy’s nickname took.  “You were only about so high but I remember you well enough.  You were a ladies man back then and from the sounds of it you still are.”

Stormy flushed and dug his hands into his pockets.  “I take after my old man,” he said jokingly.

James and Nathan laughed in unison, then Nathan turned his sights on Brooke and he stepped toward her, his watery eyes twinkling.

“And Brooke, you are every bit as lovely as James said you were,” he said and took her hand in his.  “The pictures in those horrible European rags don’t do you justice.”

Brooke shrugged immodesty.  “That’s very kind of you,” she said.  She couldn’t help but feel like an outsider.  James still wasn’t talking to her, angry over her betrayal of his secret about Ethan.  She decided to suck it up and fight for their marriage even if James was prepared to continue with his silent treatment.  “James has told me a lot about you.  I hope you’ll make yourself at home.”

Nathan didn’t take his eyes from hers for several awkward moments.  He licked his lips and turned to James with a look of uncertainty.  “Well I don’t know that I’ll be staying at the house,” he said politely.  “I certainly don’t want to impose.  I can just as easily take a suite at that hotel of yours, James.  I understand Miranda is running the place now?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” James insisted.  “We want you to stay here.  Besides, it’s part of the conditions of your house arrest.”  He looked around the entryway and realized someone was missing.  “Where is Miranda, anyway?” he asked.  “I thought she’d want to be here to meet Nathan.”

Brooke eyed Stormy and then put a hand on James’s shoulder.  “She had to leave town for a few days on business,” she replied and changed the subject from Miranda’s impromptu trip to get a divorce from Brett.  “I think Nathan’s room is ready.  Leilani made up the suite at the west end of the hall.”

“If you’re sure I’m not in the way,” Nathan said.

“Would you stop?” James said and directed the chauffer to the staircase.  “Maybe you’d like to take a nap before the party tonight.  You’ve had a long night.”

Nathan followed him up the stairs and shook his head with irritation.  “You seem to forget, James, I was the entertainer back in my day.  There would be parties at my bungalow on Alvarado Court every night.  I never took naps then and I don’t need to now.”

Stormy smiled and put an arm around Brooke as they watched the two men make their way upstairs.  Brooke couldn’t help but wonder how Nathan’s return would affect her marriage to James.  Would she fail to be as important to him now?  The not knowing if they were going to be all right was killing her.

Nathan Blackthorne

After Nathan got settled, he took a walk through the house.  He explored the halls and various rooms where he’d once roamed, long before James had bought the house.  He pushed open the door in the family room to the hidden tunnels.  They were darker now, unlit and dusty, cracked paint and chipped brick crumbling to the floor.  A far cry from their origins.

 . . . . . . . . May, 1965 . . . . . . . .

He walked down the long corridor from the main house.  A tunnel of some kind with elegant sconces lining the walls.  Probably a servant’s passage, he decided.  All the big Hollywood moguls had them in their fancy mansions in the hills.  Through the thin walls he could hear the music and voices from Jonas Lamont’s cocktail party.  How he even got invited to his daughter’s birthday party he wasn’t quite sure.  After bit parts in three poorly received films he wasn’t exactly a star.  But his agent told him that Jonas Lamont had seen his work in Hathaway House and took an immediate interest.  So after buying a suit he couldn’t afford and driving his beat up Volkswagen to the mansion, he spent half an hour waiting for Lamont to approach him but as of yet it hadn’t happened.  So he decided to go on a sightseeing tour of the enormous mansion.  That led him through a secret passage from the family room.  As he made his way down the hall, the sounds of the party grew faint.  Now all he could hear was the silent crying of a woman.

Slowly, he pushed the door open when the passageway ended and emptied out into the pool house across the north lawn.  There, weeping on the side of a bed, was a young woman more beautiful than any he’d ever seen.

“I’m sorry, I must have taken a wrong turn-“ Nathan began, drawn to the young woman’s sad eyes.   “I’ll leave you alone.”

“Typical,” she said, suddenly feisty and devoid of the emotional mess he’d walked in on.

“I beg your pardon?” Nathan asked with a frown.  He was a dapper nineteen year old with black hair that was slicked neatly to the side.

“Why is it that men turn and run the other way anytime they see a woman crying?” she asked, dried her eyes with a handkerchief and stood up with a flourish.  She was a raving beauty with red hair and deep green eyes.  Quite spectacular, Nathan decided. 

He was dumbfounded.  “I’m sorry, I…” he stammered.  “I just didn’t want to disturb you.  And not all men are the same, by the way.”

“Tell that to Royce Jennings,” she sighed angrily.  “He shows up late to my own birthday party, smelling like another woman, and then leaves before the cake is even cut.”

Now Nathan understood.  “You’re Jonas Lamont’s daughter?”

She nodded and extended her hand.  “Jacqueline Lamont,” she said.  “Who the hell are you?”

“Uh, Nathan Blackthorne,” he replied awkwardly.  “Your father invited me.  I’m not quite sure why, but-“

“He wants you to star in his next movie,” Jacqueline cut him off.   “I heard him talking about it.”

The news sent butterflies through Nathan’s stomach.  “Oh, well, I…I….”

Jacqueline smiled and regarded him carefully.  “Do you want to swim?”  Before he could answer she walked outside to the pool and stripped off her wrap dress, revealing a turquoise one-piece bathing suit underneath.

“I ah…I didn’t bring a swimsuit.”

Jacqueline dove in, swam the length of the pool, and then bobbed to the surface with a smile.    “You don’t need one,” she said with a wink.

 . . . . . . . . Present Day . . . . . . . .

Nathan made his way to the library and inspected the dusty volumes of books that lined the walls.  He ran his hand along the shelf, impressed by how well the mansion had held up over the years.  He gazed up at a wall full of pictures hanging in concentric arrangements.  Some were of family, some were of old friends, some actors and actresses, and some friends long gone since the golden day.

 . . . . . . . . April, 1966 . . . . . . . .

Jonas Lamont was sixty-six years old and the most famous producer Hollywood had ever seen.  He’d had five wives, one of which, Elena, bore him a daughter, Jacqueline, and then passed away in ’64.  His single status now afforded him the luxury of having many tantalizing women at his beckon call.

Seated beneath the umbrella at a patio table by his pool, several young beauties tended to him dutifully while he sipped a long island iced tea.  He looked across the table at his newest protégé and slid a script across to him.

The Benefactor?” Nathan asked as he read the title page.  “This is that script you’ve been talking about for a year, isn’t it?”

“The usual tale of love, murder, organized crime, everything that the public wants to see, and more,” Jonas explained.  “The lead is yours if you want it.”

Nathan was blown away.  He’d already starred in two of Jonas’s films, both catapulting him to fame in a matter of a year.  The Benefactor was the film that Hollywood had been buzzing about for as long as he could remember.  He couldn’t believe Jonas was offering it to him.

“You want me as the lead?” he asked.  “Are you sure that I’m right for it?”

“Of course,” Jonas replied as one of his doting lovelies massaged his shoulders.  “This is a part tailor made for you, Nathan my boy.  I guarantee it will seal your destiny as Hollywood royalty, right alongside me.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Nathan gushed with gratitude.

“No thanks required,” Jonas smiled.  “Just a favor that I ask in return.”

“Anything.”

“Marry my daughter.”

Nathan wasn’t sure if he heard him right.  “You want me to marry Jackie?” he asked.  “But she’s with Royce Jennings.  She’s crazy about him.”

“He’s bad for her,” Jonas insisted.  “Makes her miserable, creates a bad name for himself as a playboy running amuck with a new woman every night.  And for some reason Jacqueline takes it from him.  You’re much more suited for her, I think.”

Dumbfounded, Nathan struggled for words.  “Jonas, I-“

“I know you love her,” he interrupted.  “You have for the past year.  I can see it every time you look at her.  And I see the way she looks at you.  Why not make it official and take her away from the heartache that is Royce Jennings?”

“What makes you think she’d marry me?”

Royce will never ask her,” Jonas reasoned.

Nathan hated the idea of Jackie’s father manipulating her life like that.  If she wanted Royce Jennings then who was he to tell her it was wrong? 

 . . . . . . . . Present Day . . . . . . . .

Nathan flipped through a dusty old photo album, one of the relics left behind from when Jonas owned the house.  He swirled a brandy around in a sifter and turned the pages with tan, overly-manicured hands.  He stopped, a pang of emotion that he hadn’t felt in almost thirty years as he looked at the photo of Jacqueline, himself, and Jonas posing out on the back lawn….

 . . . . . . . . November, 1969 . . . . . . . .

The Benefactor was a huge success.  Nathan became a household name in a matter of weeks after its release.  The joy over his newfound fame was clouded, however, in Jacqueline's insistence to have a child.  Despite her urging, he resisted, claiming that having a baby now would only distract him from his budding career.  Jacqueline somberly said she understood.  

The weeks of location shooting on his next film, Stockholm Syndrome, left their marriage strained.  He returned home early from shooting in the Swiss Alps just before Thanksgiving, stopped at a flower stand by the road and picked up a dozen red roses.  He entered the house, shook off his trench coat, and glanced around the dark entryway.  It was late, but Jackie was a night owl so he was sure she was still up.  He went upstairs and walked into their bedroom.  A flash of lightening illuminated the room, casting an eerie glow over Jackie and Royce as their bodies clashed together on the bed.

It was at that moment that Nathan realized his own quest for fame had become his undoing.  Jackie had gone back to Royce as surely as he had broken them up for his own personal gain.  Jonas had been the catalyst, but he went into it with open eyes, and lost his one and only love in the process.

“You couldn’t make her happy and so she went back to Jennings, what else is there to explain?” Jonas had demanded several days later.  “I should have known I couldn’t trust you to do right by my daughter!”

“She went back to him because I was on location nine months out of the year working for you!” Nathan exploded.  “Or have you forgotten that?  You were so busy worrying about getting her away from Royce Jennings that you didn’t stop to think of her happiness.”

“I don’t hear you complaining about your newfound fame,” Jonas insisted.  “You made a choice.  Your career or Jacqueline, and you chose your career.”

“You never gave me a choice!  You wanted to control everything and everyone.  No wonder you’ve failed so often in marriage.  I don’t think you’d know how to love someone, I mean really love someone, if you tried.  Instead you sit all alone in that big mansion of yours with nothing but your servants and your secret passageways to make you happy.”

“My daughter made me happy, but you drove her away,” Jonas exclaimed.  “She left town with that man and I don’t know when I’ll ever see her again.”

Nathan glared angrily at his mentor.  He knew arguing with him was useless.  It was his own fault for the way he treated Jackie.  Leaving her for so long while he cultivated his precious career.  Now he was paying for it.  And he would never be the same.

“Never again,” he said to himself quietly.  Never again.”

Alex Reynolds

Alex was sprawled out in bed at her home in Malibu.  She flipped through the television and found herself hard pressed to find a station that wasn’t talking about Nathan’s arrival and subsequent arrest.  She was floored to learn that he had already been released, remanded on house arrest until the D.A. decided when a re-trial would happen.  At least he was out of harms way at the mansion.  All she had to do was stay away and she’d be fine.

Lifting herself up off the bed proved to be exhaustive.  She lit a cigarette and gazed out the window at the roaring ocean.  Suddenly she realized that while she was safe from Nathan’s harm, others weren’t.  Miranda lived at the mansion, and could easily be one of Nathan’s victims.  Related or not, she wouldn’t put it past him.  And Brooke.  Well, did she really care about Brooke?  No.   But in good conscience she wouldn’t wish that kind of torture on any woman, even Brooke Taylor.  And she was certain that someone else would fall victim to his legacy.  Madam Valda had predicted it.

Sighing, she fled from the bedroom and down the hall.  Her nightgown billowed behind her as she made her way down the spiral staircase.  She paused on the landing, reflecting on a row of framed one-sheets from her film career.  Her eyes narrowed on the poster from Serendipity Express, her first film with Nathan.  It had been so long ago.  Now he was back and she was taken right back to that first time they’d met.

. . . . . . . . January, 1979 . . . . . . . .

Alex’s agent arranged a meeting for her with Nathan Blackthorne.  He seemed to have learned quite a bit about her prior to their meeting.  Like that she moved to Hollywood from Detroit just a year before, did some modeling and went through some auditions that didn’t pan out, until Double Strike Studios cast her in Bad Night, a B horror movie that got banned in most countries.  After that came Midnight Show, and more controversy over its graphic content.  Alex Reynolds, just 17 years old, had made a name for herself in the schlock shock basement, and Nathan was determined to turn things around for the raven haired beauty.  He was infatuated with her.

They met at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  Alex tried hard not to appear star struck, but she soon realized her efforts were futile.  Nathan Blackthorne was the most famous actor of their time.  She’d seen every picture he’d ever made and found him incredibly dashing, not to mention sexy.   Why he fought so hard to get a meeting with her was beyond her imagination.

“You really are lovely,” Nathan said as he watched her sip her Shirley Temple.  “I could see it on the screen the other night, despite your less than attractive makeup job.”

“It pays the bills,” Alex replied.  “Stephan Brackett was a joy to work with.  He’s a visionary.”

“If by visionary you mean a director who douses his lead actress in buckets of blood, then yes, I suppose he is,” Nathan said with a grin.   “Jonas Lamont has a new film he’s preparing for Lamont 3 called Serendipity Express.  A romantic comedy.  It’ll be my first stint at co-starring and directing the same picture.  I think it’s time you were involved in something really meaningful.”

“Meaningful?” Alex asked, the innocence in her eyes shining blatantly across the table.  “I’ve only always wanted to be a working actress.  I’m not interested in making a statement.”

“Well, you don’t have to make a statement to star in a self respecting film,” Nathan reasoned.  He took a deep breath and smiled at the exotic scent that emanated from her from across the table.   “Tell me that you’re satisfied with working for Stephan Brackett and I’ll leave you alone.

She only hesitated briefly before offering a coy response.   “I’m never satisfied.”

Nathan stared at the silky smoothness of her shoulders, covered ever so slightly by a satin halter top, and grinned devilishly.  “Then hold on to your hat, sweetheart, you’re about to become a star.”

. . . . . . . . June, 1979 . . . . . . . .

Principal photography for Serendipity Express took place in upstate New York aboard a real life passenger train.   Alex relished the attention from the cast and crew.  She had her own cabin as a dressing room instead of a dirty shack outside the studio at Kismet where she shot Midnight Show, and an actual hair and wardrobe person who made her more beautiful than she could have imagined.  It was all thanks to Nathan.   She’d quickly grown accustomed to his charms, to his attentiveness, and to his promises of stardom.

On the second day of filming they were to share a passionate kiss, which she felt a little apprehensive about as it was her first on screen kiss.  Of course the fact that Nathan was dashing and worldly made it all the more easy to get into the part.  She let him lead, and she felt herself grow weak at the knees even while the cameras were rolling and all eyes were on them.

Later, they shared a drink on the bar car and talked about the day’s scenes. 

“Did you love her?” Alex asked, stirring her Shirley Temple with her straw.

“Did I love who?” Nathan asked with an arched eyebrow.

Alex didn’t blink.  “The woman you were thinking about during that scene.”

Nathan could see how astute she was, the mark of a good actress.  He smiled fondly and nodded.  “I did, yes,” he said distantly.

“What happened?”

He shrugged.  “The business got in the way.  She couldn’t handle it so she took off.”

“How long ago was that?” 

“Ten years,” Nathan replied, thinking bitterly about Jackie.  Since she left he hadn’t come to grips with it, or felt compelled to become involved with anyone else. 

Alex moved over next to him.  She could see the hurt in his eyes, which was the first time since their meeting that she saw any real emotion. 

“Was she an actress?“

“Shh,” Nathan said and covered her lips with his finger.  He didn’t wish to talk any more about Jackie or their marriage, or the way he destroyed it with his devotion to her father and the business.  Despite his love for her, she wound up nothing more than the business arrangement Jonas had instigated.  But it was much easier to blame Jackie for it all. 

He put his hand on Alex’s leg and leaned in, kissing her on the lips and then pulling away to test her reaction.  Moments later, he kissed her again, and she succumbed to his advances.  A short while later they were in her private cabin making love until dawn.

Jasmes Blackthorne

Brooke found James in his study downstairs.  Tightening the belt around her nightgown, she waited in the doorway until he looked up and took notice to her. 

“Going to bed?” he asked coldly, rifling through a stack of drilling reports from Blackthorne-Reynolds.

“Soon,” she replied.  “I was hoping that you would come with me.  You didn’t sleep at all again last night.  You must be exhausted.”

James shook his head distantly and went back to his task at hand.  “I’m too busy,” he said quickly.  “The pipeline, Nathan, Ethan, whatever’s going on with Miranda and Stormy.  I just have too much to do, Brooke.”

“You can’t fix everything in one night.  Please just come to bed and get a good night’s sleep and-“

“I said not now!” James yelled angrily.  He ran his fingers through his hair and walked around the desk to where she stood.  He decided she didn’t deserve that.  She was trying, after all.  “Look, I know you mean well.  I just can’t think about anything else right now.”

She looked at him through cloudy eyes.  “I think you just don’t want to be around me because you blame me that Ethan’s in jail.”

“I never said that,” James argued.

“You didn’t have to,” she said in despair.  “Look, I am sorry that I told Ethan about Will.  I never meant to hurt you or him.  I just wish you’d give me the benefit of the doubt.”

Before he could reply, she turned and walked back out of the room.  James poured himself a glass of scotch and leaned over his desk in frustration.  In some small way it was a relief to be free of the lie about Ethan’s father.  The war with Will started so long ago.  He didn’t know what it felt like to be free of the lies.

 . . . . . . . . November 1980 . . . . . . . .

“Alex, I’d like you to meet my nephew, James,” Nathan said proudly and ushered her into the parlor room of his bungalow on Alvarado Court.  “He just flew in from Kansas, and it’s about time if you ask me.  I’ve been trying to get him out of that backwards town for years.”

“Nice to meet you, James,” Alex said and extended her petite hand to him.  She found him quite attractive, tall and lanky with dark hair and dark eyes.  He was eighteen and extremely impressionable.  But something told her that he had an agenda behind those dark innocent eyes.

“I’m sorry I didn’t make it back for Georgie’s funeral,” Nathan said, speaking of his niece who had died recently, shortly after childbirth.  “How did your folks take it?”

James shook his head solemnly and took the glass of iced tea he offered him.  “Not well,” he said.  “But they promised to keep the secret.  They swore they wouldn’t tell Ethan who his real daddy was.”

 . . . . . . . . One Year Earlier . . . . . . . .

The baby cried in its crib in the back of the old dilapidated farm house.  James could hear him all the way outside where he kicked stones and waited for the doctor and his mother and father to come outside.  They’d already been in there for so long.

An hour later, the old creaky screen door sprung open and closed again when Dr. Recht came out, carrying his medicine bag and his hat tucked under his arm.  He exchanged sorrowful glances at his mother and father and hung his head low.

"I’ll have the funeral home in the next county send a hearse over right away,” said the doctor.  He reached his hand out to them and offered a hopeful smile.  “She’s in a much better place now.”

James shook his head, tears forming in his eyes over the loss of his beloved sister Georgie.  She was only seventeen and she was gone, and he blamed one man for sending her straight to her grave.

 “The boy’s got to know who his daddy was,” said James’s mother a few days later while she fed Ethan his bottle.  “We can’t just act like he never existed.”

“He’ll wish that he never existed,” James vowed.  “He left Georgie pregnant and sick, mama.  He never even called to check on her.  She loved that rat bastard and he just took off for his fancy new life in New York City.”

“He wasn’t nothing but a kid himself, James,” his mother pleaded.

James shook his head.  “One day I’m gonna make him sorry,” he claimed.  “I’m gonna go see Uncle Nathan in California and we’re gonna make little Willy Thomerson wish he’d never met any of us Blackthornes.”

 . . . . . . . . December 31, 1980 . . . . . . . .

Jonas had thrown a New Years Eve bash to end all bashes.  Everyone in Hollywood was there.  James tagged along with Nathan and Alex, in awe of his Uncle and his mastery.  He was also quite jealous of his relationship with Alex.  She seemed to have it all, and they were a beautiful couple.  But something told him that she wasn’t in it for love.

“Don’t you just love New Years Eve?” Alex asked, slightly drunk and very carefree as she twirled around the garden beneath the glow of the moon.  “It’s filled with such promise and hope.  I feel like I could do anything, go anywhere!”

James laughed and eyed his uncle across the lawn.  “Where is it you want to go?” he asked, mesmerized by her beauty.

She jumped up onto a chair beside the patio table and looked up at the starring night sky.  “To the moon!” she laughed and spun around again.  This time she lost her balance and James caught her in his arms.

They stared at each other for a few seconds.  “Put me down,” she said softly.

James obliged and dug his hands into his pockets.  “You and my Uncle gonna get married?” he asked.

Alex shot him a look of surprise.  “Married?” she asked.  “What on earth gave you that idea?”

He shrugged.  "You spend a lot of time together.  The papers say you’re Hollywood’s golden couple.”

Alex sighed and flung herself onto the cold, damp grass.  “The papers see what goes on up on the big screen,” she said and gestured dramatically to the sky.  “They like seeing us as lovers in films, so that’s what we give them.  Jonas insists on it.  It makes him a lot of money.”

“And what do you want?” James asked.

She regarded him coyly.  “I want to be star.”

“Is that why you’re with my uncle?” James asked.  “So he can make you a star?”

She looked at him patronizingly.  “Don’t pretend that it’s some crime, James,” she insisted.  “Nathan helps me with my career, and I give him what he wants.”

“Being a star can’t be all you want.  What about love?”

“Why James Blackthorne, I never knew you were so philosophical.  What does a boy from Windsor, Kansas, know about love?”

Then, without warning, he leaned forward and kissed her hard on the lips.  Alex twisted away from him and pushed him onto the wet grass.

“I’m sorry,” he said and started to get up again.  “I shouldn’t have done that.”

Alex stared at him with surprise.  Not surprised that he kissed her – she knew he would eventually – but surprised that she liked it.  She and James were close in age, unlike her and Nathan, but they had nothing in common.  James was a small town boy and she was one of the most well-known women in Hollywood.  What possible future could they have?

James, stricken with guilt over kissing his idol’s girl, darted off across the yard, ignoring Nathan when he tried calling after him.

Jordan Rydell

Jordan left Renee at the hospital with Sierra while he headed home to shower and change clothes.  Now that Sierra was out of the woods, he expected Renee to divulge more information about her startling admission.  How she could have lied to her daughter for her entire life was beyond him.  It angered him, and yet it made him want to protect her.

After cleaning himself up and slipping into a burgundy velvet Gucci tracksuit, he went to the answering machine and checked his messages.  James had called, telling him there was to be a huge party at the mansion that night in Nathan’s honor.  He wasn’t sure how to feel about Nathan’s return.  Obviously there was some kind of history between him and Renee that she hadn’t felt comfortable enough to divulge.  He wondered what had went on between them all those years ago.

 . . . . . . . . September, 1981 . . . . . . . .

Jonas, now at the golden age of 76, had a garden party at the mansion to introduce his newest bride, Lola Beauchamp-Rydell-Lamont, a 54 year old woman who happened to be the oldest of all six of his brides.  She was an actress from the forties who was also a USO girl touring during the second world war with Bob Hope.  She had a nineteen year old son named Jordan who immediately took to Nathan for inspiration.  Jordan, like James, had made himself a fixture in Nathan and Alex’s relationship, joining them on the set of their latest films, and spending long nights at Nathan’s bungalow on Alvarado Court in deep conversation with Alex.  Lola didn’t hide her disapproval of her son’s infatuation with Alex Reynolds, the scream queen turned serious actress through the help of Nathan.

“Mary Ann, I must talk to you about that scene yesterday,” Lola said and drug Alex off to a corner of the lush green lawns of the estate.

Alex rolled her eyes and shrugged her off.  “I’ve told you a thousand times, my name is Alex now.  Alex Reynolds.”

Lola smiled.  “Oh that’s right, I just keep thinking that if someone is going to change their name, why pick something so androgynous as Alex.”

Lola was co-starring with Alex in The Briar Patch, another Lamont 3 production directed by Jonas in an effort to re-expose his new wife to the Hollywood scene.  Her days as an actress were over, so it was with the assumption that throwing Alex into the cast would reinvigorate Lola’s career.  

"Listen, Alex,” she continued, drawing her name out in a thoroughly patronizing fashion.  “Do you think that you were upstaging me just the tinsiest bit in that scene on the docks yesterday?  I mean, I feel that my character really has the upper hand.  Your portray was over the top, in my opinion, and-“

“Let’s cut the crap, Lola,” Alex cut her off.  She’d learned to stand on her own in the two years that she’d been exposed to Nathan’s influence.  Women like Lola Lamont didn’t intimidate her.  Not even when she knew what the real reason was for her confrontation.

“I’ll cut the crap if you leave my son alone,” Lola said, her piercing eyes shooting into Alex’s like daggers.

“I have no interest in Jordan,” Alex insisted and folded her arms.

Lola turned and saw her son staring at Alex from across the lawn, a sheepish grin while he talked casually to Charles Merteuil over an investment opportunity.  “I know my son,” she said while waving across the crowd at him.  “He’s smitten with you.”

“And that would be so bad because?”

“You are with Nathan, aren’t you?”

Alex shook her head.  “I’m not with Nathan.  Nathan is helping me with my career.  End of story.”

Lola dramatically brought her hands to her mouth and gasped.  “Oh, I’m so sorry, dear,” she began.  “I just assumed that since you live with him, sleep with him, and are never seen apart, that you’re together.  My mistake.”

“We’re close,” Alex said.

“Are you saying that you don’t love him?” Lola asked.

Alex shrugged and considered her reply carefully.  “No, I don’t love him,” she said reluctantly.  After all, she didn’t.  He was a great influence, a wonderful lover, and a huge stepping stone for her career, but that was all.  She loved the man and the legend, but not Nathan.

Beneath the catering tent a few feet away, Nathan watched them with a taut expression.  Hearing Alex admit her feelings was a shock, but he quickly pushed any feeling down below the surface.  It wasn’t worth it to him.  Not this time.  He wouldn’t make the same mistakes he made with Jackie.  He wouldn't let a woman get to him again.

 . . . . . . . . Five Minutes Later . . . . . . . .

For her next mission, Lola cornered Jordan by the gazebo where he played a crochet match with Renee Merteuil.  She pulled a young woman along with her, nudging her before her son as if offering a prize.

"Darling, look who it is,” Lola said with a grin.

Suzanne,” Jordan said with a smile as he extended his hand to the ravishing brunette.  “How are you?”

“I’m well,” replied Suzanne Rogers, an eighteen year old brunette and former star of the daytime drama, The Young at Heart.   She was now starring with Nathan in another of Jonas’s current productions, Happy Neighbors. 

“Do the two of you know each other?” Lola asked, surprised that her match making skills were so finely tuned.  Maybe her intrusion wasn’t necessary.  Maybe Jordan wouldn’t be so dumb as to fall for Mary Ann McCormack, or Alex Reynolds of whatever she was calling herself these days.

“Yeah, I met Suzanne the other day on the set with Nathan,” Jordan said, finding the young woman to be startling beautiful.  He couldn’t take his eyes off of her.

“How lovely,” Lola said.  “Well, I should leave the two of you alone.  I’m sure you have a lot to talk about.”  She kissed Jordan on the cheek and sauntered off to join her husband. 

“I wonder what that was all about,” Suzanne said with a grin and waved a polite hello to Renee Meteuil. 

Jordan blushed and dug his hands into his pockets.  “She’s always trying to fix me up.  I guess she just worries about me.”

“I think it’s sweet.”

Jordan laughed.  “Nothing about Lola Lamont is sweet,” he said and quickly switched subjects.  “This isn’t the first film of Jonas’s you’ve done, is it?”

Suzanne shook her head and flashed her effortless smile at him.  “No, I was in Hollow Tree.  Just a small part, but I had a great time.  Wasn’t your brother in that too?”

“Half brother,” Jordan corrected her.  “Troy is Lola’s son from her first marriage.”

She smiled sweetly and began plucking petals from a single white Shasta daisy.  Jordan watched her carefully, finding Suzanne Rogers to be refreshingly sweet. 

. . . . . . . . Two Weeks Later . . . . . . . .

Filming on the set of Happy Neighbors wrapped up, at least for Suzanne.  She was in her trailer tissuing off her heavy stage makeup when the door opened and Nathan entered.

“What do you want?” she asked after viewing his reflection in the mirror.  “I just want to get out of here and leave this nightmare behind me.”

“Oh, my dear, it hasn’t been that bad, has it?” Nathan asked and walked up behind her.  He placed his hand on her shoulder and caressed her neck.  A flinch from Suzanne told him the advances weren’t welcome.

"You mean having you make inappropriate suggestions to me for the last two weeks?” she asked. “Gee, it’s been a picnic.  I’ll be sure to tell the union what a fabulous co-star you are to work with.”

“I think I’m a pretty good co-star,” he said meekly and stepped closer.

Suzanne shot to her feet and backed up away from him.  “You’re a sex fiend,” she said.  “And you’re supposed to be with Alex.  Meanwhile you’re hitting on me and every other woman on the set of this movie?”

“Alex and I are not an item, contrary to public opinion,” Nathan said.  “I, however, can’t say the same thing about you and Jordan.  He used to hang out on the set of whatever picture I was working on.  Now it seems he’s only hanging out to see you.”

She glared heatedly and skirted away from him.  “Jordan and I are friends.  His mother introduced us.”

“Good old Lola, always on the lookout for the greater good,” Nathan said and leaned in to her.  He attempted to brush his lips against her neck but she expertly dodged away from him.  She’d gotten good at that lately.

"He looks up to you, you know,” Suzanne insisted.  “Jordan idolizes you, and this is how you treat him?”

“The two have nothing to do with each other,” he said with a sheepish grin.

Fed up, Suzanne brought her knee up and hit him between the legs.  She grabbed her macramé bag and pulled open the trailer door.  She was thrilled beyond belief to be done with Happy Neighbors, and with any association with Nathan Blackthorne.

Blackthorne Mansion

That night, the Blackthorne mansion was brimming with activity.  Dozens upon dozens of actors, directors, producers and models filled the foyer and ballroom, schmoozing and mingling while sipping champagne and nibbling at caviar.  A four piece band played in the corner while butlers passed canapés on sterling silver trays.

James and Nathan stood in the foyer, both dressed in tuxedos, and Brooke in a floor-length cream colored Armani gown.  They chatted politely with Marilee Walker and her husband, Seth.

“So Brooke, when can we expect to see you returning to the workforce?  Or is taking care of that beautiful baby boy becoming a full time job in itself?”

Brooke smiled and tossed her long blond hair over her shoulder.  “Actually I haven’t really thought about it.”

“That’s right, James told me you did makeup for a few pictures,” Nathan remarked.  “I don’t suppose that kind of grunt work appeals to you anymore.  You’ll probably want to spent as much time with Michael as you can, I’m sure.”

“For now, yes,” she replied, eyeing James uncomfortably.

“If you want my opinion, you belong in front of the camera, my dear,” Nathan said with a wink.  “A face like that begs to be looked at.  And I should know.  I’ve worked with some of the most beautiful women in the world.”

Brooke blushed with embarrassment and clutched to James’s side.  She saw Nathan looking at her with his glossy eyes and perfect smile and she felt a sense of unease.  There was something in his eyes, something she couldn’t put her finger on. 

 . . . . . . . . February, 1982 . . . . . . . .

“I didn’t tell you because frankly it’s none of your business,” Alex said coldly in between takes on Cannons Fire.  “We’re a screen presence, Nathan.   Hollywood’s golden couple.  It’s all an image.  You’ve said so dozens of times.”

Nathan tried to appear disaffected.  “I just thought that when my own nephew is involved I would get a little advanced warning.”

“James and I are in love,” she said stubbornly.  “Nobody could help that.  Nobody could prevent that.”  She turned and started toward her trailer when Nathan grabbed her arm and pulled her back.  “Let go of me!”

“You don’t know what you’re giving up by marrying James, sweetheart,” he said with steely grey eyes.

Alex swallowed hard, for the first time frightened by the way Nathan looked at her.

 . . . . . . . . May, 1982 . . . . . . . .

The wedding was the biggest and most lavish that Hollywood had seen in decades.  It was held on the grounds of Jonas’s mansion and the whole town was in attendance.  Alex wore a flowing pearl white Chanel gown with a beaded headdress; James dapper in a classic white tuxedo.  His best man was Kenny DeWitt, a law school student who he’d met at one of Jonas’s parties.  Alex’s maid of honor was Suzanne, despite the fact that neither women really cared for the other that much.  But Alex didn’t have many female friends.

Nathan attended, despite his reluctance.  Getting emotionally involved with Alex had been a mistake, one that he’d vowed to never do again.  After Jackie, he had sworn off any real emotion with other women.  Then Alex came along and he fell in love.  Now, again, he was left devastated.  He was a fool for thinking by denying his feelings for all these years they would be any less significant.

The ceremony went off without a hitch.  Lola was thrilled that Alex was no longer a threat to her precious Jordan, who was incidentally getting along roses with Suzanne. 

“I’m sorry about the way this happened,” James said to his uncle in a private moment at the reception.  “You just always said that Alex didn’t mean anything to you.  We spent a lot of time together, and-“

“You don’t have to say anything, James,” Nathan insisted.  He had mastered the art of hiding his feelings.  “Couples on the screen often have off screen romances that don’t mean anything.  Such as Alex and I.  I’m just happy that you’ve found your way here.  You’re on the road to becoming a powerful man in Hollywood.  Alex is the perfect accessory to that success.”

"Thank you," James said, unsure of whether he believed him or not.

"I got you a present," Nathan admitted.

"Nathan, you shouldn't have gotten me-"

"We've finally sealed Will Thomerson's fate.  That injunction I filed in your name against his play about Georgie has been approved.  Georgie's Song won't be premiering on Broadway or anywhere else for that matter.  His career is ruined, and he'll know that you were behind it.."

James was thrilled, but he didn’t have an opportunity to show it.  Across the lawn a small group had gathered, gasping and chattering and pointing.

“What’s going on?” he asked and became nervous after seeing the solemn looks on faces of the wedding guest.

They ambled over to the scene, first spotting Lola drenched in tears, flailing her arms about and crying dramatically.   Jordan and Suzanne were stationed beside her trying to calm her down.

“Lola?” Nathan asked and moved to the front of the crowd.  There, he saw what the commotion was all about.  Jonas was laying on the grass, his collar unbuttoned and his face glistening beneath the warm sun.

"He’s dead,” Jordan said and clutched to his mother’s arm.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke had gone upstairs to check on Michael in the nursery, thankful for a few minutes of peace and quiet alone in the dark room.  She switched on the glowing butterfly nightlight beside the crib and reached down to stroke the baby’s face.  Smiling at his peaceful slumber, she barely noticed when the door creaked open behind and a figure entered the room.

The floor creaking resonated through the room and she quickly spun around, startled to see Nathan standing there in the dark.  Struggling to catch her breath, she placed a hand on her beating heart and managed a faint smile.

“I’m sorry if I startled you,” Nathan said.  “I saw you come upstairs and I thought you might be checking on Michael.”  He motioned to the crib and then looked at Brooke.  “May I?”

Nodding, Brooke stood aside and watched as he peered down into the crib where Michael lay fast asleep.

“He’s a beautiful baby, Brooke,” Nathan said, then turned back to her.  “Beautiful just like his mother.”

Again Brooke saw that same look in his eyes.  She swallowed hard, trying her best to be as polite as possible.  Nathan was James’s uncle, after all, and a guest in their home.

“Thank you,” she said quietly.  “Well, I should get downstairs.”

Nathan reached out and stopped her from leaving.  “I’m sorry, was I bothering you?” he asked.  “You probably wanted to come up here to get away from that madness downstairs.  And here I am intruding.”

“No, it isn’t that,” Brooke insisted.  “I just….know that James will be wondering where I am.”

Nathan nodded and smiled again.  A calculated smile, Brooke decided.  Probably from years in show business.  “Of course,” he said, and then gestured to the door.  “I’ll walk with you.”

Brooke eyed him carefully, trying to shake off an eerie feeling in the pit of her stomach.  She started to the door, deciding it was probably just everything she’d heard about him over the years.  He was actually a very sweet and docile man.  James adored him so she was certain she would too.

Alex Reynolds

Alex arrived to the party after much hesitation.  She was dressed in a beautiful sequin gown and a black veil covering her face.  She ignored the hushed whispers and stares from onlookers, all in amazement that she would show her face  But she had to.  She had to show that she wasn't afraid..

“I can’t believe she came,” whispered Victor Distefano, one actor she’d worked on several films with.

“After what she said about him on the stand?” murmured Eric Autumn, a director of another film.

Holding her head high, Alex entered the foyer and exchanged pleasantries with a few people.  Her eyes traveled up the stairs to where Brooke and Nathan were just coming from the nursery. Suddenly she began to see flashes from an ugly scene from the past.

 . . . . . . . . July 1984 . . . . . . . .

After Jonas’s heart attack and subsequent death, Nathan became an embittered man.  The set of his and Alex’s next movie, Daylight in St. Thomas was sheer torture for Alex.  It was James' first production with his newly branded company, Sunset Studios, and he was particularly eager for Nathan, his idol, to be involved.

Alex didn’t want to do the movie, as she had a one-year old, Ryan, at home during most of the filming.  Plus James was always away so she felt particulary alone.  She knew Nathan hadn’t gotten over their relationship, despite the 2 years that had passed.  As soon as filming in the Caribbean was done, she and James were home again, but James had to leave for Berlin to do location shooting forhis next film.  James had bought Jonas's enormous house for her.  She was alone, and Nathan had paid a late night visit.

A burst of lightening illuminated the house, echoing through the walls and shaking the foundation.  Alex raced down the stairs, her nightgown billowing behind her with every step.  Suddenly, a pair of hands wrapped around her and pulled her back.  She screamed, fighting him off and realizing it was a futile effort.

“Not so fast, my dear,” Nathan said and carried her back up the stairs.  He ignored her screams and her constant struggle.  Entering the master bedroom, he set her down and threw her across the room to the bed.

“Stay away from me!” Alex screamed as he loomed over her and covered her with his strong body.

“You used to enjoy our lovemaking,” Nathan said and quickly ripped off her nightgown.  “You said I was the best there was.  Or was that just so that I’d help you with your career?  Now that you’re married to my nephew you discard me, is that it?”

“Please stop!” Alex screamed as he brutalized her on her and James’ bed.

“Well I found you and I introduced you to my nephew,” Nathan said, gritting his teeth.  “You were my protégé.  You belong to me.”

She cried silently, wishing that he would stop, but he ravaged her relentlessly.

 . . . . . . . . Present Day . . . . . . . .

As soon as Brooke was a safe distance from Nathan, Alex ran to her and pulled her to the side. 

“I have to talk to you,” she said urgently.

Continue to Part 2

 

 


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