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Episode 68

 

Release Date:  September 22, 2007

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

The family gathered at the hospital, where they learned Miranda had lost the baby.  Miranda and Alex lashed out at Brooke for her role in Miranda's fall, but James, Ethan and David all came to her defense.  Brooke allowed David to comfort her. Brett and Miranda shared a tender moment over their loss.  Heather lashed out at Stormy, then comforted Brett.  Renee decided to have Sierra begin seeing Dr. Anderson to help her get through her recent traumas.  Renee saw Jordan and Alex in a tender moment, and told Jordan that they were through because she needed to concentrate on Sierra.   Alex became furious when Renee purposefully kept her from Blackthorne-Reynolds business.  In bed, Seth and Leigh conspired to use James and Alex.  Seth proposed to Alex that they form an offshoot of Blackthorne-Reynolds and buy an oil field in Costa Mesa so that she may break free from her partners.  Seth had a geologist, Logan Mackenzie, forge phony land surveys and submitted them to Kenny for the Land Commission's review.  Adrienne made plans to meet Renee for lunch, unaware that Eddie was following her as ordered by Jack.  

 

 


 

Episode 68

"The Love Killers"

 

Adrienne Fallmont woke up that morning with a plan.  She’d have coffee and watch the Today Show with the housekeeper, Magda.  Then she’d thin out her closet, parting with only the items she could positively do without, and give to the gardener to take to a local clothing drive at the battered wives shelter.  Next she’d attend the hospital board of director’s meeting.  A few stops at her favorite boutiques would follow before going home and taking a luxurious bath in her hand-carved marble claw-foot tub.   Finally, she’d head over to the Yacht Club for lunch with Renee DeWitt.

What wasn’t part of Adrienne’s plan that day was being murdered.

The house was set back in a wooded area of Glendale, surrounded by a tall black iron fence with a giant F soldered into the center.  Eddie followed Adrienne home from the hospital, keeping Jack updated on every stop she made.  The furrier, the jeweler, the bank.  He parked his car discreetly outside the gate and watched the house from behind sunglasses, a tweed driving cap pulled down over his face. 

His cell phone rang and he snatched it up from the seat beside him.  It was Stormy calling from Sunset Studios.

“What’s up?” Eddie asked.

Your Dad, that’s what,” Stormy replied irately.  “Since we shut down production of Donnie & Johnny after Nathan went up the river, he’s threatening to sue for breach of contract.  You’ve got to do something.”

“What do you want me to do about it, dude?” Eddie asked, fidgeting with his key fob.  “When have you ever known me to be able to convince my dad of anything?”

“He came in here with his attorney a little while ago ranting and raving.”

Eddie sighed, distracted just long enough to miss someone go inside the house and close the door securely behind.  “You know he was probably drunk or high, Stormy.  He won’t even remember it tomorrow.  Besides, it’s not your fault.  What are you worried about?”

“I’m already on thin ice with my dad and the studio.  If I can’t make this thing go away then he’ll hold me personally responsible.”

“So just like send a prostitute over to my dad’s house, compliments of Sunset Studios.  He’ll forget all about this breach of contract shiz, believe me.”

Inside the master bath of the two-story house, hot water ran from the faucet filling the tub while Adrienne passed through her dressing area.  She undressed, discarding her wrap dress and nylons, her breasts tumbling out of a white satin bra.

Slipping into a robe, she scanned her expansive closets, carefully choosing an outfit for her lunch date.  After making a conservative selection, she placed it neatly on the dressing valet and walked to the bathroom.  She went to the wicker étagère and turned on a small portable radio, ensuring it was plugged into the wall before tuning into her favorite afternoon radio talk show.

Standing before the mirror, she brushed her long auburn hair and pinned it up away from her neck.  She set the brush down next to her hairdryer, deciding to give her nails a quick file while waiting for the tub to fill.   She picked up a nail file and went to work at a jagged thumb nail.

Satisfied with her makeshift nail repair, Adrienne turned and tested the water in the bathtub.  She turned off the water and began to untie her robe when she heard a thump out in the bedroom.  Frowning, she peered through the dressing room walkthrough and immediately grew wary.

“Jack?” she called.  “Is that you?”

Feeling brave, she made her way into the dressing room, her feet stepping lightly on the plush carpet.  She scanned the bedroom, realizing it must have been Magda coming home from the market.  A fresh pile of towels on the bed caught her eye and she realized her faithful housekeeper must have come home and finished the laundry. 

Sighing, she turned back and started to the bathroom again.  She didn’t hear the closet door open, or the dark figure creep out and sneak up behind her.  By the time she realized what was happening, she couldn’t utter a word.  He wrapped her pantyhose around her neck and pulled tight, cutting off her airway.

Adrienne struggled in desperation, clutching her throat and trying with every ounce of energy she had to pry the nylons from her neck.  Her attacker was merciless, tightening the makeshift weapon as hard as he could, throwing her about and knocking her into the rows of hanging garments.

Moments later, Adrienne’s eyes fluttered and then closed.  She struggled for her last breath, failing and then slumping to the carpet. 

Outside, Eddie was busy watching the house, his eyes transfixed on the 70’s stone façade.  His cell phone rang again and he answered it quickly.  To his delight, it was the hot redhead number he’d met at the Ivy. 

“Well heeeey,” he said with a sheepish grin, again turning away just as the intruder left the house and disappeared undetected.

Blackthorne Mansion

James walked down an upstairs hallway at the Blackthorne mansion, arm in arm with Leigh Purcell after checking in on Miranda in her bedroom. 

“The poor thing is putting up such a brave front,” Leigh said and looked up at James with a sigh.  “Thank God she has you, James.  I see the way she looks at you, you know.  You’re her hero.  A truth father to your daughter.”

James patted her hand with a smile.  “That’s sweet of you to say, but I have to admit I feel like I’ve failed her.”           

“What makes you say that?” Leigh asked, stopping him before they reached the grand staircase.

He shrugged and dug his hands into his pockets.  “The last few years I haven’t been much of a father to her.  There’s always some excuse.  Work, Brooke, Michael and lately this thing with Nathan.  It seemed the minute she married Brett I handed her off to him and she stopped needing me.  Or I stopped being there for her, one or the other.”

“You’re there for her when it counts,” Leigh said with a reassuring smile and a warm hand on his shoulder.  “You’re here with her now, aren’t you?  She lost her baby and you dropped everything, despite all that’s going on in your life.”

He led her down the stairs to the foyer, still arm in arm.  “Well, Brooke and Michael seem to be out of my life, Stormy is running things at the studio, and I’m fairly confident in Alex and Renee’s abilities to handle things at Blackthorne-Reynolds.”

Leigh nodded distantly, thinking about her and Seth’s arrangement.  If she was right in Alex Reynolds’ usefulness to them, she wouldn’t have to use James after all.  And by keeping him out of it meant that she didn’t have to feel guilty about using him when she was clearly falling head over heels for him all over again.

“Well, now that you’re not spread so thin, maybe we can have dinner tonight?” Leigh asked hopefully.  “That is, unless it would interfere with your time with Miranda.”

He smiled tentatively.  Despite he and Leigh’s recent closeness, he couldn’t stop thinking about Brooke.  The sadness in her eyes at the hospital the day before reminded him of why he fell in love with her in the first place.  And even though they’d been through some rocky times lately, he didn’t want their marriage to end.  He had to give it one more try.

“I’m afraid I can’t get away this evening, Leigh,” he finally said, ignoring the disappointed look in her eyes.  “How about a raincheck?”

“Sure,” Leigh said, wondering if James was beginning to have second thoughts about their recent lovemaking.

Yacht Club

Renee made it to the Yacht Club right at two-thirty, took a table on the terrace and waited for Adrienne to show.  She thought briefly about canceling, her thoughts jumbled with recent developments with Jordan and Alex.  Quite why she decided to hand him over to her was a mystery.  Then she reminded herself that she needed to simplify her life for Sierra’s sake.  Her daughter was going through a terrible time, and she had to make sure she was there for her.  Jordan was a distraction.  But giving up everything to Alex was out of the question.  She still insisted on maintaining her role in Blackthorne-Reynolds, whether the aging drama queen liked it or not.

She glanced at her watch and then at the door.  To her surprise, Jordan entered with Heather.  She immediately worried that seeing him so soon after giving him the brush-off would sway her decision.  She would have to stay firm.

“Excuse me, would you Princess?” Jordan said to his daughter, showing her to their table and then making a b-line to Renee’s.  “Meeting someone?”

“I’m meeting Adrienne for lunch,” she replied.  “We have a lot to discuss so if you wouldn’t mind-“

Before she could react, Jordan sat down across from her and grabbed for her hand.  She instinctively pulled away and her eyes dodged downward.

“Renee, why are you doing this?” he asked.  “We were good together.  You know that as well as I do.”

“I already told you.  My daughter needs me.”

He shook his head.  “I realize that, but I care about Sierra as much as you do.  I wouldn’t dream of standing in the way of your relationship with her.  I just don’t want you to make any rash decisions based on what’s happened in the past few weeks.  A lot’s happened, and-“

“My mind is made up, Jordan,” Renee said and stood up.  She suddenly forgot about Adrienne and their lunch appointment.  “Besides, you and Alex are part of each other’s lives.  You always will be.  If you’ve cared about me at all you’d let me walk away with some dignity.”

Jordan was at a loss for words.  He ached for her but something she said he knew was true.  He and Alex weren’t finished.  As much as they tried to tell themselves otherwise.

After Renee had gone, he turned and rejoined Heather.  “Sorry about that.”

“What’s going on with you and Renee DeWitt?” Heather asked.  “Are the two of you okay?”

He shook his head sorrowfully.  “No, we’re through.”

Heather’s heart broke for him and she reached across the table.  “Daddy, I’m so sorry,” she said.  “I had no idea.  Is there anything I can do?”

Laughing, he flagged down the waiter.  “No, Sweetheart.”

“So does this mean you’ll be getting back with Alex?” Heather asked and surveyed the menu.

He frowned.  “Why?”

“Well, you still love her, don’t you?” Heather asked and shot him a quick look. 

He suddenly realized that he and Alex’s destiny was public knowledge.  Maybe he’d just been too blind to see it until now.

“Anyway, how are you?” he asked, desperate to change the subject.  “Have you been to see Miranda?”

She nodded.  “I feel horrible for her,” she said.  “I mean, she didn’t want this baby to begin with, but she grew to love it.  And Brett…”

“What about him?” Jordan asked with a frown and swallowed a hefty gulp of his gimlet.

“I don’t know.  He’s broken up about it.  If you could have seen him yesterday in the hospital chapel.  He’s so misunderstood, Daddy.  He’s just like a little boy.”

Jordan, full of skepticism, shook his head.  “Brett Armstrong is a conman, Heather,” he reminded her.  “Don’t let his phony show of emotion fool you.  I know men like him and they are not misunderstood.”

She shook her head.  “He wanted that baby so much.”

“He wanted that baby to stay connected with James Blackthornes’ family,” Jordan insisted.  He paused, suddenly alarmed by how adamantly she defended Brett.  “You’re not thinking of becoming involved with him, are you?”

Heather tried to play off his concern as unwarranted.  “Daddy, you worry too much,” she said and buried her face in her menu.  “Let’s order.  I’m starved.”

Jordan regarded her carefully, wondering just how close she and Armstrong had gotten.

Alex Reynolds

Alex was in her office at Blackthorne-Reynolds when Renee entered, draped in a cashmere coat and a pillbox hat.   She sat down across from Alex’s desk and crossed her legs.

“By all means, make yourself comfortable,” Alex said and raised an eyebrow.

“I intend to,” Renee replied and pulled a report from her purse.  “Just as I intend to make you uncomfortable.  I was just looking over your summary of the progress at the Colorado pipeline, and I have to say, I am unimpressed.”

“I’m not interested in impressing you, Renee,” she replied with irritation.  “But just for amusement sake, what is it you didn’t like?”

“For starters, I don’t like the way you chalk up these various expenses to maintenance,” Renee said.  “We’re in the business to make money, Alex.  I don’t want to have to audit every single report you try to smuggle past James and I.”

“I’m not smuggling anything by you and James,” Alex said and stood up in a huff.  “Those reports are one hundred percent accurate, and if you have a problem with them then I suggest you do us both a favor and go back to Merteuil Industries.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  We don’t need you, Renee.  Now take your meddling self and get out.”

Renee rose and looked at Alex in a bold and haughty manner.  “For the last time, I’m not going anywhere.  I’m in this company to make money and there isn’t a thing you can do to get rid me.  You, on the other hand, are way out of your league.  It’s only a matter of time before James realizes that.”

Alex glared angrily as Renee turned and left the office.  She’d had enough of her holier than thou attitude and irritatingly accurate eye for details.   It was time for her to branch out onto bigger and better things.  She lit a cigarette and buzzed for the receptionist.

“Yes, Miss Reynolds?”

“Get me Congressman Walker on the phone.”

Hotel Terranova

Brooke sat huddled in her suite at Hotel Terranova, sipping a cup of tea and smiling graciously at Ethan who sat down beside her on the sofa.

“Feeling better?” he asked.

She nodded begrudgingly.  “A little.  I just felt so nauseas there for a minute.”

“You’re making yourself sick over this thing with Miranda,” Ethan said.

“She was so angry,” Brooke said, staring off in a daze.  “The things she said to me.  I don’t understand how she could think that I would deliberately hurt her or her baby.”

Ethan put an arm around her and held her close.  He knew that nothing he could say would make her feel better, so he didn’t try.  He hoped that by just being there he could help her through the difficult time. 

“Listen, I’ve been thinking about something,” he said and turned to face her.  “I know you said you wanted to take things slow, and so far we have been, but I…I think we should take the next step.”

“The next step?” Brooke asked with surprise.  She didn’t know where this was coming from.

He nodded, setting her tea cup on the coffee table and taking her hand in his.  “I want to make a commitment,” he suggested.

“Ethan, I-“

“I’m not talking marriage or even engagement. I know you’re not even divorced yet.  I just want to know that we’re going somewhere.  I want to know that all that time we wanted each other, and then spent years apart, wasn’t for nothing.  We belong together, Brooke.  Don’t you think so?”

Flustered, Brooke stood up and moved across the room.  “Of course I do.  I still think about that night in the Caribbean.”

“Brooke, that was two years ago.  I’m talking about now.  I’m talking about us making a commitment, raising our son together, maybe leaving this place.”

“Leaving?” Brooke asked and spun around.  “Leave Los Angeles?”

“What is there keeping us here?” Ethan asked, running his fingers through his hair and pacing the room.  “Think about it, Brooke.  We can go anywhere.  We can start a new life somewhere else.  We can get married, we can have more children.  I want that so badly.  Tell me that you do too.”

She turned to him and shrugged awkwardly.  “Ethan, I do love you.  You’ve been so wonderful to me.  And I want you to be part of Michael’s life, but I-“

“What?” he asked, the hurt welling up in his eyes.  “Brooke, I don’t understand.”

“I just need time,” she said.  “I’m not saying no.  I’m just saying that I-“

Before she could finish, Ethan pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately.  He knew that if they didn’t make love now, their conversation would end in an argument, and then awkward silence, and then the possibility of losing what they’d only recently regained.

Brooke didn’t resist.  Just as she always had, she melted in his arms.  He lifted her up and carried her into the bedroom, laying her on the bed and stripping off his shirt.  Kissing her feverishly, they undressed and he took her slowly, guiding himself in and savoring every second until they both exploded in ecstasy.

Miranda Blackthorne

David sat next to Miranda in her bedroom at the Blackthorne mansion, holding her hand and smoothing her hair from her face. 

“It’s sweet of you to come by, David, but you don’t have to stay,” she said.  She was laying in bed, a blanket covering her and dozens of stuffed animals surrounding her  on all sides.  The room was filled with balloons and flowers from well-wishers.  Sympathy cards lined the cedar chest at the foot of the bed with thoughtful notes from all reaches of the city.

“Where else would I be?” he asked with a tender smile.  “You can stop pretending that you don’t need someone.  You’ve been through an ordeal.”

Her face flushed and she tightened her hold on his hand.   “Thank you.  You’re right.  I am glad you’re here.”

David’s face contorted to an exaggerated state of mock surprise.  “What’s this?” he asked with a grin.  “Miranda Blackthorne admitting that someone else is right?  Call the presses.”

She playfully hit him and drew him into a kiss.   “Well, at least now you won’t have this pregnant woman as your girlfriend.”

“Stop it,” he said seriously.  “Your pregnancy was never a problem for me.  How many times do I have to tell you that I’m crazy about you.  Nothing you could do, baby or not, would change that.”

Miranda nodded, still somewhat unconvinced.  Suddenly she got an idea and looked up at him with excitement.  “Let’s go away somewhere,” she said.  “Just me and you.  Take the weekend and go to someplace in the mountains.  Somewhere warm and cozy.”

David raised an eyebrow.  “I don’t think you’re in any condition to travel.  Dr. Mitchell said you needed to rest.”

“So what’s the difference if I rest in my father’s house or in a hotel somewhere?” she asked.  “Come on, David, I need to feel like a normal person.  Take me away and make me forget about all this.”

“How can I say no to that?” he asked, leaning in and kissing her softly.   “I’ll go make the arrangements."

He got up to leave just as Stormy entered the bedroom.  They exchanged nods and Stormy sat down in his place.

“How’s my little sister feeling?”

Miranda smiled and nestled back into her bed.  “Better now,” she said.  “Where’s Heather?”

Stormy shrugged.  “I don’t know.  She isn’t speaking to me.  I sort of went off on Brett at the hospital and she didn’t take too kindly to it.”

Miranda sighed and shook her head in aggravation.  “What is it with you and Brett anyway?” she asked.  “I realize he hasn’t been a particularly upstanding citizen since he came here, but he did just lose his baby.  Why can’t you give him a break?”

“Why are you defending that man?”

“I’m not defending him.  I just think there’s more important things than holding a grudge for things that are ancient history.”

His eyes narrowed on her and he crossed his arms.  “Like you’re doing with Brooke?”

Her head snapped in his direction and she scowled.  “That’s completely different and you know it.  Brooke Taylor is the reason I lost my baby.  Not to mention the fact that our father is broken hearted over this whole thing with Ethan and Michael.  I warned all of you when they got married that she would be his undoing, and look what’s happened.”

Stormy rolled his eyes.  “Jeez, you take after mom,” he murmured under his breath.  “Why can’t you let it go?  Brooke’s out of the house.  Isn’t that what you wanted?”

She decided to drop the conversation.  Obviously she and her brother couldn’t agree on anything today.  “Fine, whatever.”

“So things seem to be getting serious with you and David Jennings,” Stormy said, swiftly changing the subject.  “He’s a little old for you.”

“Age is just a number,” Miranda said and picked up a plush toy.  “David and I are the same age intellectually.”

He scrunched up his face and chuckled out loud.  “That doesn’t speak so well of David.”

She hit him playfully and folded her arms.  “We’re going away this weekend.”

“Good for you,” Stormy replied.  “You deserve a little happiness in your life.”

Their conversation was cut short when the door creaked open and Eddie popped his head in. 

“Pssst,” he whispered. 

Stormy turned and frowned at the site of his friend standing in the doorway.  “Eddie?  What are you doing here?”

“I need to talk to you,” he said dramatically, then made eye contact with Miranda.  “Hey Miranda, how are you?”

“Fine, Eddie,” she replied.

“Look, I’ll be back,” Stormy said and tucked the blanket up under his sister’s chin.  “You need to get some rest if you’re going to go on your weekend sex marathon with Jennings.”

Miranda threw a stuffed monkey at him and nestled into her pillow after he’d left.

Out in the hall, Stormy immediately detected the severity in his friend’s eyes.   “What’s going on?  I thought you were on a stakeout?”

“Yeah and I’m about to get fired from it,” Eddie said in a panic and led Stormy down the hall to his bedroom.

“What happened?”

“I was supposed to be following Jack Fallmont’s wife and I blew it.”

“Adrienne Fallmont?” Stormy declared as they entered his room and Eddie picked up the TV remote control.  “Why?”

“He thought she was having an affair,” Eddie explained as he switched through the channels.  “Anyway, I followed her around this morning, waited outside her house for her to leave for her lunch date, and she never came out.  I figured she must have given me the slip.  So I went to the Yacht Club to see if she was there and she wasn’t.”

“So where is she?” Stormy asked.

“You’re not going to believe it,” Eddie replied and tuned the television into a news channel where reporters were gathered outside the iron gates of the Fallmont’s home in Glendale.  A coroners van could be seen in the distance, the front door blocked off with yellow crime scene tape.

“Earlier today, Adrienne Fallmont, wife of California businessman Jack Fallmont, was found murdered in the upstairs bedroom of their home in Glendale,” said a reporter from the wooded front of the house.  “The body was found by the housekeeper, who came home from shopping and discovered Mrs. Fallmont’s body.  Jack Fallmont was phoned and came home to a crime scene.”

“What the-“ Stormy began, watching the coverage on the television.  He saw Jack come out of the house, his eyes red and puffy from crying as he shielded his face from the camera flashes. 

“We’re told there are no suspects in the homicide,” continued the reporter.  “And details of the cause of death have yet to be revealed.  More information as it becomes available.”

“Who would have killed Adrienne Fallmont?” Stormy asked in bewilderment.

“Her husband, that’s who,” Eddie said ominously and clicked off the television.

Alex met Seth Walker in his office at the Marina.  Joining them was Logan Mackenzie, eyeing her suspiciously as he sat cross-legged next to her

“It’s really quite simple,” Seth said with a swarthy grin.  “We start a brand new company with you as the CEO and combine your ten million with my ten million.  With that capital we’ll buy the land in Costa Mesa and start drilling immediately.”

“What about your variance?” Alex asked and stubbed out a cigarette in a crystal ash tray.  “I thought the Land Commission was trying to keep you from drilling.”

“We just got word that the variance was granted,” Logan chimed in.  “Drilling won’t be a problem.”

“So there you go,” Seth said with a self assured grin.

Alex looked over a stack of papers and frowned.  “Why am I listed as the sole owner of this company?" she asked.  “Your ten million makes you an equal partner, Congressman.”

He exchanged harried glances with Logan and shrugged indifferently.  “Well, as a public official, I can’t officially be named as co-owner.  It would be a conflict of interests.  For the sake of public knowledge, you’re the only person involved in Stratotech.”

“But if anyone finds out that I’m involved I could go to prison-"

“No one will know that you’re involved, trust me,” Seth insisted.   “I have contingencies in the event that people start asking who’s involved in the project.”

Alex stared at the paperwork carefully, part of her telling her that she was going into something far to risky, but the other part anxious to be rid of Renee DeWitt as a business partner.  Starting out on her own in a venture involving this much money was the only way to do that.

Finally, she reached into her purse and withdrew a check.  She tentatively handed it over to Seth, begrudgingly letting go as he took it from her.  “Where, may I ask, are you getting your half from, Mr. Walker?” she asked.  “Ten million dollars isn’t exactly in the budget of a Congressman.  Or did Marilee decide to loosen the purse strings and dish out the capitol for your new venture?”

Seth grinned mischievously.  “Let’s just say that my entrepreneurial spirit affords me the capitol.  I had a backer.  They reneged on the deal, and now I’m able to invest that money.  It’s really just legal jargon that you wouldn’t be interested in.”

Alex sighed and put pen to paper.  “Where did you get the name Stratotech?”

“A Schwarzenegger movie,” Seth said with a grin and took the contracts from her.

“How creative,” Alex said and handed him a check.  “How can I be sure that Renee and James won’t find out about these missing funds?  They’re bound to look at the books and realize ten million dollars has gone unaccounted for.  I could be accused of embezzlement.”

“Technically it’s not embezzlement if you’re using the funds to start up an offshoot of Blackthorne-Reynolds,” Logan reminded her.  Stratotech will be part of Blackthorne-Reynolds.  Your partners just won’t know it exists.”

“Let me handle your books,” Seth replied.  “Some creative accounting and they won’t notice one missing dollar.”  He stood up and extended his hand to her.  “Congratulations.  You just bought yourself an oil field.”

Alex took a deep breath, confident that she’d made the right decision.   Renee DeWitt would no longer push her around.  Soon she would be in control of her own life.

After she’d gone, Seth poured two tumblers of bourbon, handing one to Logan.  “Here’s to you, me, and Leigh and the fortunes we’re about to uncover.  I promise all your hard work will pay off, Logan, my friend.  Two hundred and fifty million dollars splits three ways quite nicely.”

He smiled and swallowed the drink in one gulp.  “Don’t your mean four ways?” he asked.  “What about your other partner?”

“That’s what Alex is for.  She’s taking the place of that partner, Logan.  I only go into business with people I can trust.”

Logan watched Seth walk across the office and stare outside at the marina.  “And how long do you think it’ll be before Alex Reynolds realizes it isn’t oil we’re digging for in Cosa Mesa.”

“Hopefully not until we’re rich, fat and happy,” Seth replied with a knowing grin.

“And she’s left holding the ball.”

“Exactly,” Seth said and swallowed his drink.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke slipped into her robe and left Ethan in the shower.  She couldn’t help but smile with elation after their afternoon of lovemaking.  It had been a long time since they’d been together, but she’d never forgotten what a sensual and virile lover he was.  It was as if they’d never been apart.  The way he held her in his strong arms and entered her slowly, taking care that she was one hundred percent satisfied…

A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts and her glorious mood dampened when she opened the door to James.

“I’m sorry for not calling first,” he said, standing in the hall.  “May I come in?  This won’t take long.”

Brooke didn’t have a chance to respond as James whisked his way into the hotel suite and turned to face her.

“I was wondering how you were doing,” he began, his hands in the pockets of his trench coat.  “The other day at the hospital you were very upset.  I want you to know I don’t blame you for what happened to Miranda and the baby.”

Brooke regarded him carefully.  “You don’t?”

“No.  I know you, Brooke.  I know you could never hurt anyone intentionally.  Miranda is just high strung.  She’ll realize that it was an accident.  Give her time.”

“Is she feeling okay?” Brooke asked.  She couldn’t help but be concerned for the young woman.  “I mean, do you think she’ll be able to put things in order?”

“She’s strong,” James said with a twinkle in his eye.  Slowly he walked toward her and reached his hand out to hers.  “Brooke, this whole thing has made me see things in a new light.  I know I’ve been horrible, but this thing with Miranda has made me realize what’s important.  It’s family.”

“There’s never been any doubt about what’s important to you, James,” Brooke said and glared angrily at him.  “Family is everything to you, which is why your uncle’s word was more important to you than mine.”

James sighed with defeat.  “I’m sorry about that.  I really am.  There’s no excuse for the way I acted.  I was a fool.  But Brooke, we can start again.  I still love you and I don’t want our marriage to end.”

“And Michael?” she asked, unable to believe that he could be so presumptuous to think that she would want him back after how he’d treated her.  “Are you saying that you could look past the fact that he isn’t your son?”

“I lived the past year believing he was my son.  I love that boy.  Nothing has changed.”

“So the idea that he was conceived while the two of us were married is-“

Her question was interrupted when the bedroom door opened and Ethan emerged, a towel wrapped around his waist and his bare chest and arms glistening from the shower.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t know you were here,” Ethan said, making quick eye contact with his uncle. 

James looked at him and then back at Brooke.  “Obviously I’ve interrupted something,” he said, his heart sinking in his chest with the realization of what he’d walked in on.   “My mistake.”

“James-“ Brooke began.  She knew what he must be thinking.  Not that he deserved an explanation, but she wanted to tell him that she and Ethan only just reunited.

“No, forget it,” James said with a chuckle and shook his head.  “Boy, I’m a bigger fool than I thought.  These past few weeks I’ve been under the impression that you weren’t a total slut, that you weren’t using our differences as an excuse to leave and jump into the arms of my nephew.”

“James, that’s enough!” Ethan shouted.  “You can’t come in here and talk to her that way.”

“And you,” James continued with disgust.  “I practically raised you and this is how you repay me?”

“Don’t hand me that,” Ethan said, gripping his towel closed around his waist.  “You only raised me because you refused to let my father in on the fact that he had a son.”

“I did you a favor by not letting your father raise you!”

"Stop it!” Brooke screamed and turned to her husband.  “James, no matter what you may think, Ethan and I haven’t been planning anything behind your back.   We slept together years ago but I married you.  Then you betrayed me in the worst, most despicable way you could have.  Who I see now is none of your business.”

“And the man that you turn to just happens to be Ethan?” James asked.  “Come on, Brooke.  I wasn’t born yesterday.  This has been your plan all along!”

“What plan?” she demanded.

“You know, I came here to try to find some common ground so that we could work on our marriage,” James continued.  “But now I see the two of you together and realize that you’re just a slut who manipulates her way into people’s beds for her own personal gain.”

“That’s it,” Ethan said, pulling his fist back and sending a shattering blow into James’ jaw.

Brooke covered her mouth with her hands and watched as Ethan grabbed James by the jacket and forced him out into the hallway.

“You can both rot in hell for all I care,” James said, rubbing his jaw and starting down the hall to the elevator.

Ethan slammed the door shut and walked over to Brooke, pulling her into an embrace as she cried quietly against his shoulder.   “I’m so sorry about that,” he said.  “Are you okay?”

She nodded and wiped her eyes.  “Take me away, Ethan.  Take me away from here.  I have to get away from this place.”

Brett Armstrong

Brett sat in front of the television in the darkness of his condo at the marina.  There was a knock at the door and he attempted to ignore it.  He didn’t feel like seeing anyone.  After Miranda lost the baby he withdrew to his condo and started taking stock in his own life and what it meant to him.  The answer was a sobering nothing.   Not his job with Congressman Walker, not his swanky new condo, and not his attractiveness to the opposite sex.  Nothing in his life seemed worthwhile anymore. 

The visitor didn’t give up, knocking again and finally calling through the door. 

“Brett, it’s Heather.  Open up.”

He barely moved from his position, instead taking a hearty swig from a bottle of beer in his lap. 

“Brett, I want to see you.  I’m worried about you,” Heather persisted from the hall.

Finally he begrudgingly got up and pulled the door open.  Standing in the doorway bare chested and wearing a pair of ratty sweatpants, he attempted to stand in her path of entry.

“What are you doing?” she asked.  “It’s five o’clock in the afternoon and dark as midnight in here.”  She walked to the windows and pulled the blinds open.

Brett shielded his eyes from the blinding sun as Heather began picking up empty bottles of beer and chucking them into the trash can.  “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“Trying to be a friend,” she replied.  “It isn’t healthy for you to sit here by yourself in the dark.”

“Like anybody cares.”

“I care,” she insisted and took the bottle from him.  “Look, I know you’re hurting and you feel like you have no one to turn to, but you’ve got me.”

He walked into the bathroom and splashed water on his face.  After that he felt a little better and he walked back into the living room.  “Thank you,” he said and wiped his hands on his pants.  “It really does mean a lot to me that you came here.”

She smiled and pulled him into an embrace.  “I hate the thought of you going through this alone.  I mean, of course I’m sick over what this has done to Miranda, but she has her family.  I just don’t want you to forget that someone does care.”

He pulled from the embrace and looked at her with a slight smile.  “You’re incredible,” he said. 

Heather grew woozy from his gaze that penetrated her eyes.  Something about the way he looked at her sent butterflies soaring through her stomach and she felt weak in the knees.

Before either could react, they were kissing tenderly.  Brett pulled away as if to gauge her reaction, then proceeded, leading her to the sofa and undressing her sensually.  She placed her hands alongside his torso and pulled him on top of her.  They made love slowly, taking their time, their lips never parting.

Heather knew she was allowing him to use her as a warm body in leiu of his pain, but she didn’t care.  She wanted to be there for him.  She was through fighting her feelings for him.

Jasmes Blackthorne

After hearing news of Adrienne’s murder, James headed for the police station where Stormy and Eddie were talking to Detective Baines in the waiting area.  He darted over to them in search of answers.  He felt like he’d come from one bad situation into an even worse one.

“I just heard about Adrienne,” he said.  “Stormy, what happened?”

“Mr. Blackthorne, what are you doing here?” Baines interrupted.  “Haven’t you been involved in enough homicides?”

“The Fallmonts are dear friends of mine,” James insisted.  “I just heard that Adrienne’s been murdered and Jack is being held for questioning.  I’d like to know what the hell is going on if you don’t mind.”

“Jack hired Eddie to follow Adrienne,” Stormy explained.  “He thought she was cheating on him.  Eddie was staked outside their house this afternoon when she was murdered.”

“There were no signs of forcible entry, so we have to assume that the killer had means of gaining access to the house,” Baines indicated.   “And Jack Fallmont does have motive.”

“What motive?” James demanded.

“A jilted husband flying into a jealous rage, it’s not that uncommon,” Baines admitted.  “And Mr. Distefano says he didn’t see anyone enter or leave the house during the hour he was parked outside, indicating that Mr. Fallmont was probably already home when Mrs. Fallmont got there.”

That’s your case?” James demanded.

“Well, the killer did take the surveillance tapes of the property with him before he left the house,” Baines explained.  “How would anyone else have known where to get them?”

“That’s irrevelant.  If Jack was home when she got there, why would he have bothered taking the tapes?”

“Because he would have known the coroner would be able to determine an exact time of death and he wouldn’t have been able to say he wasn’t home at the time. Like I said, he’s just being held for questioning,” Detective Baines claimed with a shrug of his shoulders.  “We’re checking his alibi right now.”

After he’d left, James turned to Stormy and Eddie in bewilderment.

Minutes later, he was in the visitor’s area of the detention center.  He sat down across from Jack, a glass partition separating them.  They each picked up a phone and spoke through the receiver.

“Jack, I’m so sorry.  This is just awful.” 

Jack simply nodded his head, his eyes red with tears.  “I haven’t told the children yet.”

“I’ll call them if you want me to,” James offered. 

Silence on the other end of the receiver.

“How did it happen?” James asked.  He knew he wasn’t looking at a man who would kill his own wife.  The look on Jack’s face was one of devastation and utter disbelief.

“She was strangled,” Jack said, choking on tears while desperately trying to hold himself together.  He had to be strong for Adrienne. 

James closed his eyes tightly.  “Dear God,” he whispered under his breath.   “Jack, I-“

“I didn’t do it,” Jack said, his voice suddenly filled with conviction.  “James, I swear.  I didn’t kill my wife.”

“Jack, I know you were upset about the thought of Adrienne cheating on you.”

“Not enough to kill her,” Jack said, sobbing under his breath.

“No, of course not,” James said.  “Jack, I know this is hard, but you have to try to look at this from another perspective.  Maybe whoever Adrienne was sleeping with was the person who killed her.”

Jack suddenly looked up at his friend and swallowed hard.  He shuddered at the thought of the danger Adrienne could have been in without even knowing.

Seth Walker

Seth was on the terrace of his and Marilee’s house in Malibu, tapping furiously on his laptop.  The ocean waves crashed onto the shore and the moonlight illuminated the stretch of beach where Logan Mackenzie stood, gazing up at the house.  He made his way up the steps to the terrace, clearing his throat to announce his presence.

“Logan, did we have more business tonight?” Seth asked and looked up from his computer.  “Marilee’s out for the evening.  Pull up a seat and I’ll pour you a brandy.”

Logan sat down and folded his hands in his lap.  “Did you hear about Adrienne Fallmont?” he asked.

Seth twisted his face into a frown and he shook his head sorrowfully.  “Yes, it’s awful.  To think that Jack Fallmont would murder his wife in cold blood.  It’s a shock, it really is.”

Logan regarded him carefully and accepted a snifter of brandy.  “So you believe that Jack killed her?”

Seth shrugged.  “Well they’re holding him.  I assume it’s for a good reason.”

“Do you think he found out about the affair?” Logan asked.  “Or maybe the ten million dollars?”

Standing up from the table, Seth walked to the railing and gazed out at the ocean.  “It’s possible,” he surmised.  “But we were careful.  No one ever saw us together.”

Logan stood up as well and followed him across the terrace.  “You don’t seem very upset about her death,” he said.  “Were you still sore about her backing out on the deal?”

“We hadn’t spoken since then, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

Logan leaned over the terrace.  “Interesting.”

“What’s with the third degree?” Seth demanded crossly.

“I just think it’s strange is all.  A few days ago she threatened to blow the whistle on this operation and now she’s dead, and you’re suddenly partners with Alex Reynolds and the project is full swing ahead.”

“You have every bit as much to lose as I do, Mackenzie,” Seth remarked.  “And for that matter, so does Leigh.  Your cut of this deal would be a huge loss if Adrienne had blown the whistle.  How do I know you aren't hiding something?”

Logan raised an eyebrow.  “Then I guess Jack Fallmont did us both a favor.”

Their eyes met in a stalemate and Seth went back to the table to pour another glass of brandy.

Alex's House

A mile down the beach, Alex flopped onto the sofa with a glass of champagne in one hand and the TV remote in the other.  She took a sip, smiling in celebratory cheer over her new company.  Soon she would be the wealthiest woman in the state and Renee nor James could make her take a back seat to Blackthorne-Reynolds.  The company she started, nonetheless.

Switching on the television, she caught the middle of a news story from Glendale at Jack and Adrienne Fallmont’s house.  News of Adrienne’s murder had escaped her until then.  She quickly set her glass down and covered her mouth with her hands at the horrifying news. 

“Source say that Mrs. Fallmont was found in her walk in closet, apparently the victim of strangulation,” said the reporter from the news station.  “Once again, Jack Fallmont is currently being held on suspicion in the murder, and is at this moment at the Beverly Hills Police Station awaiting charges.  No arrest has been made as of this hour, but we will keep you informed of the story as it progresses.”

Alex clicked off the television, chilled to the bone after hearing the news of her friend’s passing.   She jumped when the doorbell rang, her heart beating wildly in her chest.

Realizing she had given Veronique the night off, she jumped up from the sofa and wrapped her nightgown tightly around her body.  She fluttered across the room and paused at the door.

“Who is it?” she asked, her voice wavering and unsteady after the startling news.

“Logan Mackenzie.”

Frowning, she pulled the door open and looked at the attractive young man standing outside with a bottle of champagne in his hand.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Hoping you’d join me in a celebration,” he replied with a wink.  “It’s not every day that you start a new multi-million dollar venture.”

Alex looked at him suspiciously.  “I really wasn’t expecting company.  I-“

“You have time for one drink, don’t you, Miss Reynolds?” Logan asked.  “If we’re going to be working together we might as well get to know each other better.”

"It's getting late," she said.  "I just received some devestating news and I really need to be alone."

"All the most reason for you to not be alone," Logan said.

Relaxing a little, Alex stood clear of the door and allowed him entry.  “I suppose you’re right,” she said.  “Maybe one glass.”

Logan watched her scuttle across the room to retrieve another glass.  He loosened his collar and followed her to the sofa.

“To us,” he said after he poured them each a fresh glass.  “May it be a long and profitable partnership.”

Alex sipped from her glass, trying to figure out why it was that Logan Mackenzie gave her such an uneasy feeling. 

 

 


Next time....

Couples pair off in the mountains.  Details of Adrienne's last few days alive are made public.  Logan threatens Leigh. James tells Leigh they have a future.  Alex pushes Jordan away.

 Read Episode 69

 

 


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