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Episode 69

 

Release Date:  October 4, 2007

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Before her lunch date with Renee, Adrienne was strangled to death by an unknown assailant.  Jack was arrested for suspicion in the murder, but insisted that whoever Adrienne was having the affair with killed her.  Brooke and Ethan made love.  Afterwards, James showed up and flew into a rage over their renewed relationship, vowing that they were through once and for all.  David and Miranda made plans to go away for the weekend pending her recovery from the miscarriage. Brett and Heather made love again.  Renee cut Jordan loose and told him to go back to Alex.  Alex gave Seth ten million dollars to create Stratotech, a secret offshoot of Blackthorne-Reynolds, which she would be named sole owner of. Logan Mackenzie warned Seth that they might not be able to trust Alex, then indicated that Adrienne gave them the same problem, and reveals that Seth was the man having the affair with Adrienne.  Choosing their words carefully, Seth and Logan each accused each other of killing Adrienne for threatening to squeal about the Costa Mesa deal.  

 

 


 

Episode 69

"The Weekenders"

 

Gossip and rumors spread through Hollywood like wildfire.  It was one downfall of living there that most people had grown accustomed to.  Whether you wanted to or not, you often learned the most disturbing secrets from the most unlikely source.

In the case of Adrienne Fallmont’s murder, the news traveled quickly.  Eddie told Stormy, who told Miranda, who called Alex, who had lunch with Marilee Walker, who had a tennis date with Leigh Purcell where they gossiped over the gruesome details.

“I heard he strangled her with her own pantyhose,” Marilee gasped after they finished their set and sat down at a table at Hotel Terranova for a glass of lemonade.   “Can you even imagine?  Her own husband."”

“But they released Jack days ago.  They said his alibi was concrete.”

Marilee scoffed and dabbed her forehead with a towel.  “Are you kidding?” she said. “With as much money as the Fallmonts have, he could have easily paid someone to lie for him.  You know that as well as I do, Leigh.”

“Yes, but-“

Their conversation was interrupted when Seth appeared from behind and placed his arms gently around Marilee.  “What are you two talking about so seriously?” he asked and kissed her on the neck.   “Am I interrupting?”

Marilee shivered from his touch and smiled adoringly.  “No, of course not, Darling.  Leigh and I were just talking about that scoundrel, Jack Fallmont and what he did to poor Adrienne.”

Seth grinned and sat down at the table.  “That scoundrel was cleared and released from jail,” he said matter of factly.

“Oh Seth, I love that you see the good in people,” Marilee said with a wink.  “So what are you doing here in the middle of the day?  I had no idea the life of a Congressman was so leisurely.”

“Is there anything wrong with me wanting to say hello to my beautiful wife?” he asked and kissed her again, the whole while eyeing Leigh out of the corner of his eye.  “Besides, I’m meeting Brett here to go over some press releases.”

“So now the truth comes out,” Marilee joked.  “That’s okay.  Leigh and I are going shopping anyway.  You and Brett can work as late as you need to.  Leigh, are you ready to go?”

She nodded awkwardly.  “Sure.  I think I’ll just go in and powder my nose first.”  She got up and went inside the hotel, ambling across the lobby toward the lounge.  She ordered a drink at the bar and collected her thoughts.  Her hands trembled nervously and she grabbed for the drink and swallowed it down in two big gulps. 

“Can I buy you another?” asked a voice from behind. 

Leigh turned and spotted Logan Mackenzie sitting at a table nursing a cocktail.  She let out a deep breath and attempted to skirt past him but he shot to his feet and pulled her aside.

“Don’t you think it’s kind of inappropriate to be having lunch with Seth’s wife while you’ve been sleeping with the man behind her back?” Logan asked under his breath.  “My, my, Leigh, your nerve never ceases to amaze me.  Much like your attending poor Adrienne Fallmont’s funeral the other day.”

“You’re one to talk,” Leigh said and looked at him bravely.  “I hear you paid Alex Reynolds a visit the other night.  What was that all about?”

“She’s our new partner,” Logan declared.  “Is there anything wrong with me welcoming her to the fold?”

“Not when she doesn’t know what she’s even partners in.  How are Seth and I supposed to know that you won’t tell her everything and risk this whole deal?  We could all go to prison if the truth gets out about that land in Costa Mesa.”

“That’s what Alex Reynolds is for,” Logan reminded her.  “She owns Stratotech.  We collect the profits and she gets left holding the ball.”

“Until she finds out what’s going on and threatens to tell.  Just like Adrienne.”

Logan folded his arms and regarded her carefully.  “Well, we both know how that ended for Adrienne, don’t we?”

With that, he turned and started through the lobby.  Leigh shuddered with uneasiness and walked over to meet Marilee on her way in from the terrace.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda sat in the exam room at Cedars-Sinai, chilly in her hospital gown as she waited for the results from her checkup.  Dr. Mitchell jotted a few things down on a clipboard and then looked up, removing her glasses with a shrug. 

“Everything seems fine, Miranda,” said the doctor.  “I don’t see any signs of complications from the miscarriage.  You’re very healthy.”

Miranda smiled with elation.  “So that means I can go away this weekend?”

Dr. Mitchell sighed and contemplated the question.  “You still have to take it easy.  I don’t want you hiking or skiing in your condition.  But I don’t see any reason why you can’t go away for a couple of days.  You seem to be out of danger.  Maybe the fresh mountain air will do you good.  Just make sure that you have my pager number in case anything should go wrong.”

“Thank you, Dr. Mitchell,” Miranda said and jumped down from the exam table.  “I promise.  I won’t get out of bed all weekend.  It’ll just be so nice to get away for a few days.”

“Well, have a good time,” Dr. Mitchell said before leaving the room.

Miranda quickly dressed, eager to phone David to tell him the good news.  When she’d initially brought up the idea of going away together several days before, he made her promise to get the all-clear from the doctor first.  Now that she had, there was nothing stopping them.  After all their ups and downs, interruptions, and bad luck, being alone together was something she felt they needed to do if they were going to find out if they were compatible.  And she hoped they were.

After she got dressed, she walked out into the reception area and ran directly into Brooke.

“Miranda, I’m so glad I ran into you,” Brooke said, pushing a long lock of blond hair from her eyes.  “I’ve been wondering how you were feeling.  Were you just in seeing Dr. Mitchell?  What did she say?”

“I know it’ll disappoint you to hear it, Brooke, but Dr. Mitchell said I’m doing fine.  She even gave me the all clear to have another baby.”

“Why would that disappoint me?” Brooke asked in exasperation.  “Miranda, I’m happy that you’re doing better.  And I hope that someday you do meet the right man and have a baby.  I don't know why you think I wouldn't want that for you."

Miranda rolled her eyes and folded her arms harshly across her chest.  “Maybe I already have met the right man,” she said.  “David Jennings and I are going away this weekend.  If things go as planned, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other.  And then who knows?  Maybe he and I will get married and have a baby together.”

“I just want you to be happy, Miranda.”

She looked at her step-mother and laughed.  “You mean as long as it doesn’t mean giving my father a grandchild.”

Brooke frowned in confusion.  “No, I think that would be wonderful.  I-“

“Because we all know that since you didn’t give James a child, you don’t want anyone else to either.  Not even his own daughter.  You’re so selfish, Brooke.  All you care about is yourself and being the most important person in my father’s life.  Well guess what?  You’re out of his life now.  I heard him talking to Kenny this morning about drawing up divorce papers.”

The news startled Brooke.  Granted, she knew it was coming, but the finality of it was hard to accept.  She and James had been through so much together.  Now it was over just like that.

“So what are you doing here, anyway?” Miranda asked, sufficiently satisfied that she’d gotten to Brooke.  “Not expecting, I hope.  Lord knows if you’re carrying another one of Ethan’s babies you’ll probably try to pass it off as my father’s just so you can hold on to him again.”

“No, I’m not pregnant,” Brooke replied defensively.  “I’m just here for my annual checkup.”

“Good.  The last thing we need is another bastard of yours running around the word,” Miranda said before brushing past her and starting to the elevators.

Hotel Terranova

Brett arrived at Hotel Terranova and met up with Seth outside on the terrace.  Seth ordered them a round of drinks and they dove into a stack of press releases and public appearance schedules.

“That takes us through the end of next week,” Brett said after they’d covered the last bit of material. 

“Good,” Seth replied and gazed adoringly at a passing blonde in a short tennis skirt and skin-tight polo.   “Anything else happening at the office today?”

Brett handed him a stack of phone messages and then opened a notebook.  “There was one thing that I wanted to ask you about,” he began.  “Your accountant called regarding a donation you pledged to a wildlife preserve on the south coast.  He wanted to know if the check should be made out to Kenny DeWitt or to the Land Commission’s treasurer?”

Seth quickly dodged the subject.  “I’ll call the accountant myself,” he said. The less Brett knew about that the better.  “Anything else?”

Brett could read him like a book.  Part of the advantages of being a con man for so many years.  He could spot a con a mile away.  “That donation wouldn’t have anything to do with your variance, would it?  I mean, I know you were denied drilling permits for that land you were looking to buy some time ago, then suddenly the Land Commission changed their minds.”

Impressed with the young man’s savvy, Seth swallowed a gulp of his drink and leaned forward.  “Brett, part of your job as my PR person involves the ability to know when your services are needed and when they’re not.  This would be one of those times when they’re not.  From now on, if anything comes through the office that has to do with Costa Mesa or the Land Commission, I want to handle it personally.  Is that understood?”

Red flag.   Brett bit down on his lip and realized he had a lot of work to do if he was going to find out what Congressman Walker was up to.  Whatever it was, it wasn’t legal.  Bribery of a city office was a big no-no for a Congressman.

“So Reno is off the schedule for this weekend?” he asked, deciding to change the subject for the time being.

Seth shook his head.  “No, I can’t make it.  You’ll have to go in my place and extend my regrets.  Book a flight out today an be back by Monday.  Make a weekend out of it.  You deserve it after all the disappointment you've been through lately.”

Alex Reynolds

Alex was in her office at Blackthorne-Reynolds when the door opened and Jordan entered, a bouquet of roses in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other.

“What’s this?” Alex asked and looked up from her paperwork. 

“Love in the afternoon, what does it look like?” Jordan replied with a smirk and kissed her tenderly.   “I thought I’d be the one to make the first move.”

“The first move?” Alex asked, a perfectly waxed eyebrow arched to oblivion.   “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

Jordan popped the cork on the bottle and withdrew two glasses from the bar.  “Well, we’re both free agents again and neither one of us can deny that there’s been quite a bit of sexual tension ever since our divorce became final.  We made love the day we got the final papers, after all.  And now that Renee and I have ended things, I think we owe it to ourselves to explore where this is going.”

“Where this is going?” Alex asked and rose to her feet in a huff.  “I’ll tell you where this is going, Jordan Rydell.  Nowhere.”

“Come again?” he asked, handing her a glass of champagne.

Angrily, she took the glass of amber liquid and poured it over his head, dousing his hair and watching the champagne pour down his face. 

“What the-“ he yelled and took a step back.  “What the hell is wrong with you?” 

“You and Renee didn’t end things,” Alex spat.  “It was not an amicable split.  She dumped you.”

“What’s the difference?” he asked in a shrill voice, dabbing his face and hair with a towel. 

“Would you be here today with roses and champagne if Renee hadn’t called things off with you?” Alex asked, her arms folded.  “Or would you be in her bed fawning all over her and Nathan's illegitimate daughter.”

Jordan clenched his teeth angrily.  He hated it when she got like this.  Everything had to be so damn difficult with Alex Reynolds.  Always had and always would.  “What’s with the what if’s?” he asked.  “The point is that I’m here now.  I love you and I haven’t stopped.  I think that you love me too.  Now why can’t you just accept that and forget the how’s and the why’s?”

“Because I have something called self respect,” Alex insisted.  “I’m nobody’s sloppy seconds, and I’m certainly not going to be a rebound from Renee DeWitt.”  She turned and went back to her desk.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”

Jordan stood, wet and flabbergasted.  Nothing about his gesture had gone according to his plan.  Of course, with Alex, nothing ever did.  He grabbed the roses, turned and marched out of the office, slamming them into a garbage can on his way. 

Just as he passed through the reception area, Renee emerged from her office and witnessed his tirade.  Obviously her setting Jordan free hadn’t phased Alex in the slightest.  She stormed into her office and glared at the woman in frustration.

“You really are a very dumb woman, you know that?”

“Go to hell,” Alex said spitefully.

“I handed you Jordan on a silver platter and you tossed him aside,” Renee continued. “Do you realize what you’re giving up?  Do you think there are men out there waiting in line to put up with your theatrical antics?  Well let me tell you something, lady, there aren’t.  You need to take it where you can get it.”

With that, she turned and stormed back out of the office, leaving Alex to brood over her actions once again.  Yes, she still loved Jordan, but her pride - or maybe her stubbornness - wouldn't let her take him back without at least making a point.  

Brett Armstrong

Brett left Hotel Terranova and headed home to pack for his trip to Reno.  On his way, he stopped off at City Hall to pick up some reading material for the plane ride.  After laying a thick layer of charm on Sharice, the large African American woman who worked at the counter in the records office, he was granted full access to every land purchase in the past six weeks.

He learned that Stratotech, a company based in California, had purchased the land and acquired a variance for the purpose of drilling for oil.  The company was listed as a corporation, so no owner was given, only the name of its CEO, M. McCormack.  But Brett was certain it was the same piece of land that Seth had expressed interest in.  Why else would he have given such a sizeable donation to the Land Commission?    What was his game?  He decided he’d have to do some more research when he returned from Reno.

When he got home to his condo at the marina, he started packing.  A knock at the door broke his concentration and he quickly ran over to answer it.  To his delight, Heather was standing on the other side of the door, looking radiant as ever. 

“Hi,” he said, gently taking her hand and pulling her inside.  “What are you doing here?”

“Well, until today we’ve spent every day this week together,” Heather replied.  “I thought maybe you were missing me.”

Brett grinned and drew her into a kiss.  “I was missing you,” he said, relishing the feel of her in his arms.  The past few days she’d been there for him in his grief over Miranda’s miscarriage.  He couldn’t remember anyone ever making him feel happier. 

“Are you going somewhere?” she asked when she noticed his open suitcase. 

“Reno,” Brett replied and went on with his packing.  “Seth overcommitted himself again and can’t make it to a speaking engagement for a bunch of conventioneers.  I have to go up and give his regrets in person.”

“When will you be back?”

“I was going to make a weekend out of it, but-“  He paused, turning to her and placing his hands on her shoulders.  “Why don’t you come with me?  We can have our own little weekend away together.  Do some gambling, see a show or two, stay in bed…”

Heather grinned and ran her hands down his back.  “Are you kidding?  I’d love to,” she said and broke away in excitement.  “Just let me run home and pack a bag.”

“I’ll pick you up in an hour,” Brett said with a grin, kissing her again before she raced out the door.

Brooke Taylor

Back at Hotel Terranova, Brooke rushed around her suite gathering last minute items into a suitcase when a knock at the door led her away from her task.  Michael was crying in his crib and Ethan was on his way over to pick her up for their weekend away.  She walked to the door and pulled it open, frowning at the sight of a statuesque man standing in the hall.

“Brooke Blackthorne?” the man asked.

“Yes.”

“You’ve been served,” he said, handing her an envelope before turning and walking quickly away.

Brooke knew what it was before she even opened it.  Sighing, she closed the door and walked over to Michael, picking him up in an effort to quiet his cranky state.   Bouncing him in one arm, she opened the envelope and withdrew the divorce papers from James’ attorney. 

Before she could brood too heavily over the impending divorce, Ethan arrived, jiggling his car keys in one hand and holding the door open with the other.

“You ready to go?” he asked. 

Brooke glanced at him and then back down at the divorce papers.  She set them down on the desk and nodded, forcing a smile on her face as she ran a hand through Michael’s blond hair.

“Yeah, I’m ready,” she said.  “Just trying to get Michael’s things together.”

“I’ve got a bellman on the way up to get your things,” Ethan said and walked over, kissing her and Michael both on the forehead.   He detected a hint of despair in her eyes and he placed a hand alongside her face.  “You okay?”

She nodded.  “I’m fine.  Just looking forward to going away for a few days."

Ethan took Michael from her while she quietly gathered the rest of their things. He wondered what had gotten to her so suddenly.  Whatever it was, he hoped that this weekend would seal their renewed relationship and they'd finally be able to pick up where they'd left off years before.  Nothing could stand in their way this time.

Stormy Blackthorne

Eddie, what are we doing here?” Stormy asked as they walked into the bedroom at Jack and Adrienne’s house in Glendale“This is where she died.  It’s creepy.”

“Jack hired me to find out who killed his wife,” Eddie explained, looking around the bedroom, glancing behind dressers and inspecting every surface in the room.  “Where else would I start but the scene of the crime?”

Stormy groaned and followed him through the room.  “The police have already searched he place with a fine tooth comb.  What do you think you’re going to find that they didn’t?”

“The police don’t have my keen sense of observation, bud,” Eddie said, flashing a pen light around and opening a drawer in the bureau.  He lifted a pair of lacy black panties with a set of forceps and examined them closely.

Stormy rolled his eyes.  “Let’s stick to actual clues,” he said and forced the underwear back into the drawer.  “Now come on.  I want to get this over with and get out of here.  I have things to do at the studio.”

“Well, until I find my Gal Friday, you’re doing to have to fill in.  What’s the problem, anyway?  We’re no strangers to recon missions.   Raiding the nurses office in high school, spying on the competition when we started Good Times Records, now a murder investigation."

Stormy groaned and ran his fingers through his hair.  “Look, we’re not going to find anything here.  Jack says he thinks whoever Adrienne was having the affair with killed her.  So we should be trying to find out who this guy is.  Start with bank records and find the money trail.  She withdrew ten million dollars from a Fallmont Industries account.  She had to have used it for something, and my bet is she gave it to him.”

Crawling on the floor and peering under the bed, Eddie stopped and looked up at him.  “Why didn’t I think of any of that?” he asked.  “I’m supposed to be the private investigator here.”

“No offense, Eddie, but I think you’re still back in the nurses office at West Beverly High.”

He offered a wry grin and climbed to his feet.  “Okay, so let’s go find this bastard, and the ten million dollars he ran off with.”

Alex Reynolds

Alex felt like she was in the middle of nowhere.  The dirt road was overgrown by grass and weeds and the air was dry and dusty.  She never in her life thought that she’d be in the middle of the god forsaken country with nothing but filth as far as the eye could see.

She made it to the old wooden fence where Seth had told her to meet him, and she turned off the car and waited for him to arrive.  Minutes later, he pulled up on schedule.  She waited for him to approach her car before climbing out and gazing around.

“This is it?” she asked.  “Sure doesn’t seem worth twenty million dollars.”

Seth grinned and led her along the fence.  They came up to a hill, the other side furnished with construction trailers and tons of heavy machinery that Alex didn’t quite understand, or really care about.  All she knew was that this land was going to make her a lot of money, and label her independent from the likes of Renee and James.

“It’s what’s underneath that counts,” Seth said.  “Believe me, our money is going to good use here.  We’ll be striking oil any day now.”

Alex peered over the hill, spying the few men working in the field.   “Seth, I realize I don’t have much knowledge about the technical goings on in the oil business, but I don’t see any drilling going on.  What exactly are those men doing?”

“You’re right, you don’t know the technicalities,” Seth cut her off.  “But luckily you don’t have to.  All you have to know is that in a few days the smell of oil will fill this entire field, and you’ll be millions of dollars richer.”

Alex decided to trust in that he knew what he was doing and that their crew did too.  “I’m curious about one thing,” she said as they continued walking along the fence.  Why me?”

Why you what?”

“Why come to me with this deal?” she asked.   “You didn’t need the money.  You could have gotten that ten million dollars from Marilee.  She’s your wife, and she’s very wealthy.”

Seth evaded her question expertly.  “You’re right, I could have.  But mine and Marilee’s marriage has always been about being equals.  I wanted to do this on my own, without her help, and without those society types accusing me of riding on my wife’s coat tails."

Alex nodded.  “I have to give you credit for that,” she said.  “And this former partner?  The one who reneged on the deal?”

“She became something of a silent partner,” Seth said with a grin.  “With her ten million dollars she’ll have a lifetime of happiness.”

“She?” Alex asked with a curious furrow in her brow.  “I sense your preference in doing business with the opposite sex.  Any reason why?”

“Women not only make wonderful lovers, but the best business partners.  It’s as simple as that.”

“And Logan?”

“What about him?”

‘He’s very handsome and very charming, but he’s so serious.  I wonder if he takes this as lightly as you do.”

“Logan’s put a lot on the line for this deal.  He wants his payback and he won’t let anything stand in the way of that.”

“Let’s just hope he doesn’t get greedy,” Alex said.

Seth considered her remark carefully, wondering if there was anything to her concerns.  Logan was nothing more than a frontman – a geologist to make it appear that things were legit at the drill site.  And for that he was being rewarded handsomely.  He was almost possessive about the deal.  His attitude toward Adrienne had been hostile to say the least.  And Leigh was downright afraid of him.  One thing was for certain, he would have to keep a watchful eye on Logan Mackenzie.

Blackthorne Mansion

Leigh did not live at the Blackthorne mansion, but she’d spent the past four nights there, and had smuggled in the necessities so seamlessly that James hadn’t even noticed.  Clean underwear, a toothbrush, a nightgown and a fresh change of clothes.  She was living her dream, but sadly she feared that’s all it would ever be.  A pipe dream that would never be fully realized.  How could they have an honest relationship when she was hiding so much from him?  Her partnership with Seth, Logan and Alex in a scandal so big that it now involved a murder and a phony offshoot of Blackthorne-Reynolds that could land Alex, Renee and James in prison for the rest of their lives.

“Are you okay?” James asked as they laid in bed together that evening before dinner.  “You look a million miles away.”

Leigh sighed and stood up, slipping into a robe and pinning her hair up away from her shoulders.  “Just thinking about us, that’s all,” she said with a faraway look in her eyes.  “Six years ago we spent two beautiful weeks together in Acapulco, and I never thought I’d see you again.  Then we met coincidentally in Rio.  Now here we are in Los Angeles.  You’re getting divorced, I’m a widow, we have no attachments and yet I feel like there’s something holding us back.”

“Aren’t you happy with the way things are?” James asked.  “We haven’t been seeing each other very long, and I wasn’t under the impression that it was anything serious.”

Leigh looked at him with surprise, the hurt evident in her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” James said and climbed out of bed.  He came up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders.  “I just didn’t know what you expected out of this.”

“Nothing,” she replied quickly.  “I don’t expect anything.  You told me that you needed time, that we had to take things slow while you decided what to do about Brooke.”

“The decision’s been made,” James said.  “I filed for divorce.  Brooke was served with the papers today.”

Leigh turned and looked at him with a smile.  “You did?” she asked in disbelief.  “Why didn’t you tell me?  I-“

He shrugged.  “It still doesn’t seem real to me.  That a few months ago I had a wife and a son, and now I have neither.  It’s all taking some getting used to.”

“Look, if I’m crowding you I can stay away.  I can give you space, James.  I certainly don’t want to make things harder on you.”

“You’re not,” James said and pulled her toward him.  “And I don’t want you to go anywhere.  I love you being right here with me.  I think that our coming together again was fate.  We’re here together for a reason.”

She closed her eyes and allowed him to drop her robe from her body.  He led her back to the bed and gently laid her down, covering her with his body and kissing her passionately.  Leigh was exactly what he needed to get Brooke out of his system.

David Jenner

Miranda and David arrived at his cabin in Big Bear to the welcome sight of falling leaves and a cool, brisk breeze blowing through the trees.  The small house was situated on the edge of the lake with a private dock and picturesque scenery from every window.

“This place is beautiful,” Miranda said as they entered the cabin.  “How long have you had it?”

“It was my father’s.  He bought it twenty years ago.  Came up here once a year every year, and the rest of the time it sat empty.  This is the first time I’ve been up here since he died.”

“I’m sorry,” Miranda said and placed a hand on his shoulder.  “Is this too difficult for you?”

He smiled and went to turn on a lamp.  “No, they’re good memories.”  He frowned when the lamp failed to turn on, bent down to inspect the cord and tried the switch again.

“Maybe it’s a bad bulb,” Miranda said, wrapping her arms around herself and shivering from the chill in the air.

David tried another lamp, jolting backward when the bulb blew and a spark flew through the air.  He laughed and turned to her with a shrug.  “Like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve been up here.  I’ll just check in the pantry for some bulbs.”

Miranda turned and walked to the fireplace where a row of framed photographs sat on the mantle.  She smiled at a thirty-year old photograph of David – probably seven or eight at the time – with his mother and father.  Other pictures of Royce and Jacqueline in various poses sat in a row.  A picture of David’s graduation ceremony from Yale stuck out and she picked it up, realizing how young David had looked back then.  Certainly not as handsome as he was today, she decided.

A leather photo album was propped up at the end of the mantle and she opened it slowly, slightly tentative about snooping through old family things.  She heard David enter the room and quickly turned away and tried to act natural.

“Not a single lightbulb in the place,” he said and slapped his hands to his sides.

She shrugged.  “We’ll use candles.  It’s much more romantic anyway.”

“Or candles,” he added, then laughed.

“Great,” Miranda said and walked up to him.  “Is there a store someplace close?”

He nodded.  “Just a mile up the road.  How about I start a fire, get you all cozy on the sofa, and run up and get some candles and some dinner.”

“Sounds perfect,” she said and watched as he went to work at starting a fire. 

Ethan Blackthorne

Ethan pulled his SUV into Roy’s Country Store and Service Station in Big Bear, hopped out and started filling the tank.  “The lodge is about thirty miles north,” he said through the window.  “We should be there in an hour.”

Brooke smiled, unfastened her seatbelt and swooped into the diaper bag.  “Good.  I’m starved.  And so is Michael.  I think I forgot to pack a snack for the trip.”  She cursed herself, realizing that in her harried state at the hotel back in Los Angeles she must have forgotten a number of things.  It wasn’t every day that she was served divorce papers, after all.

“Maybe they have something in the store,” he said and wiped the windows with a squeegee.

“I’ll check.”  She plucked Michael from his car seat, dangled her purse over her shoulder and headed inside the quaint little store in search of a box of crackers or some dry cereal for Michael to munch on the rest of the way to Crystal Lake.

Outside, David pulled his car into the parking lot, hopped out and jogged into the store.  He walked down a couple of narrow aisles before bumping directly into Brooke and Michael.

“David-“ she stammered, glancing around and wondering what on earth could have brought them to the same convenience store so far in the mountains.

“Well this is a surprise,” he said with a grin.

What are you doing here?” they both asked in unison.

Then Brooke remembered her run-in with Miranda that morning.  She and David were going away for the weekend.  As fate would have it, so were her and Ethan.

“I have a cabin down on the lake,” David explained.  “Just had to come get some supplies.”  He grabbed a box of candle sticks and held them up with a wry smile.

“How is Miranda?” Brooke asked, unable to take her eyes off of his strong, masculine face.  Why was it that whenever she was around him she had such difficulty maintaining her composure.

“Fine.  And you?  You must be here with Ethan.”

She nodded.  “Yes.  We’re going to a lodge up in Crystal Lake.”

He looked into her eyes and studied them closely.  “Have you been up to this area before?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

“Well, surely you must have taken family vacations when you were younger.”

“I’m not from Los Angeles,” she replied.  “I’m from Phoenix.  And we rarely took vacations when I was young.  My parents didn’t have much money.”

“Big family?”

She found his questions odd.  More so than usual.  “Not really.  My father traveled a lot.  He was a salesman.  He made enough to put food on the table, but not much was left after that.”  A quick change of subject made her feel less scrutinized by him.  “Miranda seems very smitten with you.  I hope that things work out.”

“Thanks,” he said.  “I hope things work out for you too.  Ethan seems like a very descent guy.  You deserve it.”

She frowned.  “This coming from the same man who showed up at my door the very day that I left my husband and asked me out on a date?”  She laughed and bolstered Michael securely in her arms when he began fussing.  “Forgive me, David, but I can’t quite follow you sometimes.”

“I didn’t ask you out on a date,” he reminded her.  “I just said that I wanted to get to know you.  To talk.  I find you very interesting.  I always have."

She sighed in exasperation.  “Like when we met three years ago at the department store?”

“What can I say?  You left a big impression on me,” David said with a shrug.

Their conversation was interrupted when Ethan entered the store and placed his arm securely around Brooke.  “Ready to go, sweetheart?” he asked, eyeing David with a glare.

“Yeah,” she said, still unsure of how to take David Jennings.  Something about him made her strangely uneasy, and yet she was still very attracted to him.

“Ethan, nice to see you,” David said with a wink.

Ethan didn’t respond, instead guiding Brooke to the checkout counter and casting a final look of suspicion on David Jennings.

Brooke Taylor

“I don’t know.  He just wanted to talk, that’s all.”

“I don’t get it,” Ethan said when they were in the car and back on the road.  “Every time I turn around that guy is all over you.  What is it with him, anyway?”

“He said he wanted to get to know me,” Brooke said, picking up bits of crackers that Michael dropped onto the floor.   “We met a few years ago at the department store.  He was shopping for a gift for his mother.  When he saw me again he remembered me, that’s all.”

“That’s all?” Ethan asked as they started up the mountain.  That’s all?  You don’t find that to be the least bit strange?  You don’t see me going up to somebody and saying ‘hey, I bought a tie from you years ago when you worked at J. Crew.  Remember me?’”

“Yes, it’s strange,” Brooke remarked.  “But I don’t see the point in getting all upset about it.  He’s harmless.”

Ethan pulled the SUV over onto the side of the road.  Brooke turned to him with a shocked expression and glanced back to check on Michael.

“Harmless or not, I just got you back in my life, Brooke, and I will not have anybody interfere with that. After years of pining away for you, the failed relationships and the sleepless nights, nothing, and I mean nothing is going to come between us ever again.”

She swallowed hard, realizing just how in love with her Ethan was.  If she didn’t know before, she knew now, and it made her heart soar.  She reached for his hand and held it tightly, deciding that any attraction she had for David Jennings didn't compare to what she felt for Ethan.

Miranda Blackthorne

While she waited for David to return, Miranda spent her free time touring the cabin and getting accustomed to her surroundings in the wilderness.  It was quite an adjustment for a girl from Hollywood, after all.

After taking in the eclectic art and mid-century furnishings, she nestled down in front of the fire with the photo album from the mantle.   She turned the pages slowly, studying every picture and smiling from ear to ear at every stage in David’s life.  One thing that she noted for certain was the rather long line of girlfriends he seemed to have had.  Each picture represented another relationship with yet another blonde starlet.

Shaking her head in amusement, she came to a page with one color photograph.  Next to it was a blank space where another had been – now only the faded outline remaining.  The single photograph was of a pretty blond girl of maybe five or six years old.   The strange part was that the young girl didn’t appear in any other photos.  She wondered if the missing picture was of her too.

Curiously, she plucked the photo from the page and turned it over.  A simple name and date were handwritten on the back.  Babydoll, 1984.

Before Miranda knew it, David was back and hauling several bags of groceries and weekend necessities.

“Miss me?” he asked and held up a bottle of wine.

Miranda closed the photo album and slid it out of the way.  She jumped to her feet and kissed him tenderly.  “You know it,” she said and peeked inside the bags.  “Let’s eat.  I’m famished.”

Heather Blackthorne

Late that night, Brett and Heather returned to their hotel room after an evening on the town in Reno.  The door burst open and they stumbled inside in a fit of laughter.  Brett twirled her around in his arms and flung her onto the bed.  He climbed on top of her and kissed her softly, inching his way down to her neck, shoulders, and finally to her belly button.  Heather giggled and pulled him up to eye level.

“You are so what I need in my life right now,” she said, staring into his deep brown eyes.  “I’ve never felt so care free as when I’m with you.”

“I feel the same way,” he said.

Heather kissed him passionately, pulling him close and inching her way out of her dress.  Brett hastily loosened his tie and unbuttoned his shirt, his lips never parting from hers.             

“I love you,” Heather said, running her hands through his hair. 

“I love you too,” he said ecstatically and shrugged out of his pants.  “You don’t think we made a mistake, do you?”

She shook her head.

“You sure?” he asked and rolled onto his back.  “I don’t want you to have any regrets.”

She climbed on top of him and mounted him expertly, her long brown hair falling down her bare back.  “No regrets,” she said, leaning down and kissing him as they made love hurriedly.

Jasmes Blackthorne

The next morning, Leilani served breakfast in the solarium  as James, Leigh and Stormy dined on eggs, toast, bacon and fresh fruit and croissants.  Stormy couldn’t help but level an accusing gaze at Leigh, still quite unsure as to what was going on between her and his father.  It seemed that he jumped from his marriage to Brooke directly into a relationship with Leigh awfully fast.  It was much the same as when he and Alex divorced.  It was possible that James Blackthorne could not be alone and without the company of a woman.  The fact that he didn’t know that much about Leigh Purcell was even more concerning to him.  She seemed extremely nervous all the time, as if hiding a huge secret from his father.

“Did you get that mess with Victor Distefano cleared up, son?” James asked as he stuffed a forkful of eggs in his mouth.   “The last thing this family needs is a lawsuit over our heads.”

“I think it’s going to work itself out, Dad,” Stormy replied, confident that Eddie was going to persuade his father into dropping the lawsuit.  “No worries.”

The doorbell rang while they continued their leisurely breakfast.  “How are things with you and Heather?” James continued.  “I got the feeling you two were getting close again.  Do I see a marriage number two in your future?”           

Stormy sighed and shook his head fretfully.  “I don’t know.  I thought we were on track to getting back together but then she started pulling away.  I'm not giving up on her though."

“I hope things work out,” James said.  "You know how much I love Heather.  I think you're good together."

Just then, Leilani entered the room with Renee fast on her feels.  “Mr. Blackthorne, Ms. DeWitt is here to see you.”

“Oh, thank you Leilani,” James said and stood up, kissing Renee on the cheek and offering her a seat.  “Good morning, Renee, would you care for some breakfast?”

“No, thank you,” she said in an obviously frazzled state.

“What’s wrong?  Is it Sierra?”

She shook her head.  “No, Sierra is fine.  I came because of this.”  She withdrew an envelope and handed it to James.

“What is it?” James asked.

“It’s from Adrienne,” Renee said, her eyes watering over with tears.

Leigh’s head snapped in her direction and she began to grow nervous.  What on earth had Adrienne done?

“Adrienne?” James asked.  “But I don’t understand.”

“The day she died, I was supposed to meet her for lunch at the Yacht Club.  She seemed very upset and wanted to talk to me about something.  I waited for her but she never showed.  Then today this came in the mail.  She must have mailed it that day.”

Stormy listened eagerly, hoping that any information contained in the envelope could help Eddie in his investigation. 

“We should probably give that to the police,” Leigh said and shot to her feet in a panic. “I have to go downtown this morning.  I’d be happy to drop it by for Detective Baines.”

“Did you read it?” James asked Renee.

She nodded.  “It doesn’t make any sense to me.  I mean, is this what she wanted to talk to me about so badly that day?”

James opened the envelope and produced a handwritten note.  Renee, get this map to Kenny.  He’ll know what to do with it.”  

Leigh placed a hand on her chest, afraid for what was about to happen.

James unfolded a second piece of paper.  “It’s a map,” he said with a frown.  “With a route drawn out from Costa Mesa to Panama.”

Leigh closed her eyes and willed herself to remain calm.  This was a development that neither she nor Seth saw coming.  If that map got into the wrong hands it could ruin everything.  James would learn the truth and he’d never forgive her.

Stormy eyed the map carefully.  He looked up at Leigh and saw he wavering on her feet.  She looked positively ill.  “Are you okay?”

She placed a hand on her chair to balance herself.  Taking a deep breath, she nodded and sat down again.  “I’m fine.”

“What do you think it means?” Renee asked. 

“I have no idea,” James said, staring at the map in a daze.  “Obviously something involving the land commission if she wanted you to give this to Kenny.  Maybe he’ll know what it means.”

“Excuse me,” Leigh said suddenly, bolting from her chair and walking brisky to the foyer.  She grabbed her purse and ran out of the door in a hurry.  She had to warn Seth about Adrienne’s attempt at squealing on them.  She only prayed it wasn’t too late.

Minutes later, she was at Seth’s office at the marina.  She busted through his door and stopped suddenly when she realized he wasn’t there, but Logan was.

“You certainly know how to make an entrance,” he said and looked over at her with a raised eyebrow.

“Where’s Seth?” she asked in bated breath.

“Suddenly find yourself in the mood?” Logan replied in a thoroughly cocky manner.

Leigh ran her fingers through her hair and rolled her eyes.  “Cut the crap and tell me where Seth is!”

“Whoa, what seems to be the problem?” he asked and walked closer to her.

Shaking her head, Leigh began pacing the room.  “We’re in trouble.  Adrienne sent a map of the truck route to Panama to Renee DeWitt.  Renee showed it to James and now he’s going to start asking questions.”

Logan grew quiet, remaining calm as he walked over and sat down behind Seth’s desk. “Relax.  James Blackthorne won’t be able to put any of it together.  He’d have to mention it to Alex Reynolds for any of it to make sense, and what are the odds that he’ll do that?”

Leigh groaned in frustration.  “She’ll find out about everything.  She’ll realize that Costa Mesa is a cover, that there isn’t any oil under the land.  Then she’ll get nervous and threaten to tell, just like Adrienne Fallmont did.”

Logan ran his hand over his face and focused on the worst case scenario.  If Leigh was right, then Alex Reynolds could easily be a problem for them.

Alex Reynolds

Gossip and rumors spread through Hollywood like wildfire.  It was one downfall of living there that most people had grown accustomed to.  Whether you wanted to or not, you often learned the most disturbing secrets from the most unlikely source.

News of the mysterious map and its bizarre contents traveled quickly.  Stormy told Eddie, who went immediately to his father, who had a lunch date that day with Alex.  Naturally, it came up between talks of Nathan and his recent reign of terror.

“Why would Adrienne send that map to Renee?” Alex asked in confusion.

“It’s all so positively boring,” Victor said and popped a pill, washing it down with a splash of vodka.  “Eddie seemed excited about it.  Apparently it has to do with some new case he’s working on.  I think he’s been hired by Jack Fallmont to find out who killed his poor wife.”

Alex stared down at the table in deep concentration.  What were the odds that Adrienne would have a map of Costa Mesa in her possession?  Did it have anything to do with Statotech and the oil field?  And if so, how was Adrienne involved?

“It seems so disconnected,” Victor went on to say, signing a few autographs for fans as they passed by their table.  “First there’s the missing ten million dollars, and now this map.  I don’t understand but thankfully Eddie has a good head on his shoulders and he’ll probably crack the case wide open.”

“Did you say ten million dollars?” Alex asked, her had snapping up instantly. 

“Yes, why?”

Alex grew into a daze, recalling conversations she’d had with Seth over the past few weeks…

“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, are you alright?  You look positively devastated,” Victor said and waved his hand in front of her face.

She broke from the daze, suddenly realizing that Adrienne must have been Seth’s original partner.  It was her ten million dollars that Seth invested in Stratotech.  And now she was dead. 

Looking up from the table, she spotted Logan Mackenzie seated a few tables away on the veranda.  He was staring directly at her, his eyes cold as steel.  Suddenly her heart began to pound and she knew that she’d gotten herself in over her head. 


Next time....

Alex realizes the severity of her business deal, and fears for her life.  Brett and Heather return from Reno with news, and an opportunity for Brett.  Leigh wants to tell James the truth about Stratotech and the reason for her coming to Los Angeles, but Seth and Logan have other ideas.  A killer strikes again.  

Read Episode 70

 

 


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