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Episode 7

 

Release Date:  January 19, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

Miranda threatened to move out if James didn't accept Brett as her husband. Alex and Jordan spent the night together. Winter got her job back at the hopsital and she and Ethan grew closer.  Brett got nervous when Stormy mentiond an article about Bailey's death in Las Vegas.  Ethan questioned James about his father.  A reluctant James claimed that his father was a carnival worker who impregnated Georgie and then disappeared.  Brooke told a devastated Ethan that their kiss should never have happened.  Alex overheard James telling his lawyer that Will Thomerson is Ethan's father.


 

 Episode 7

"Philip"

 

Alex Reynolds paced the spacious living room of her house in Malibu, pausing to pour a shot of vodka into her morning glass of orange juice.   There was a warm spring breeze gently billowing the curtains inward, the salty ocean air touching her lips. 

She’d been up since dawn, unable to sleep, as had been the case every day for the past week since she’d learned the sordid secret James Blackthorne had been hiding for so many years.  That his nephew Ethan was Will Thomerson’s son.

After days of agonizing over what to do with the information, and how to use it against James to pay him back for the loathsome way he’d treated her, she was still filled with uncertainty.  Obviously James had gone to great lengths to keep the secret from both Ethan and Will.  He would be devastated to say the least if either of them found out.  His hatred for Will over what he did to his sister Georgie fueled a rage so deep that he refused to let Ethan be part of his father’s life.

Finally she decided to do nothing for the time being.   Will was already hard at work on hatching a plot to destroy James.   If he found out that he had a son, it might distract him from his efforts, and she couldn’t have that.   There would be a time and place for her to drop the ball on the estranged father and son.   It would be the final nail in James’s coffin.

Pausing and looking out the window at the choppy waves of the Pacific, she realized there was something else.   Maybe there was another nail yet…

She picked up the phone and dialed a number from her address book.   “I’d like to speak to Mr. Carlyle, please,” she began.  “Tell him it’s Alex Reynolds.”

Moments later, the private investigator Dennis Carlyle came onto the line.  “Yes, Miss Reynolds.  How nice to hear from you again.”

“I have a job for you, Mr. Carlyle,” she announced.  “I want you to dig up some dirt on Brooke Taylor.   I’ll pay whatever it takes.“

“Of course.  Send me whatever information you have on her and I’ll get started immediately.”

“Good, you’ll have it by lunchtime,” Alex said and hung up the phone with a smile.

The best way to stick it to James was to get him where it hurts.  His precious Brooke has to have some secrets lurking around somewhere.  Something she could use to drive a wedge between them and their happy home.

Just then, the maid, Veronique entered the room followed by Will Thomerson.  Alex turned and grinned from ear to ear.

“I was just thinking about you,” Alex said.  “Veronique, would you bring some coffee, please?”

“Yes, Miss Reynolds.”

After she’d left the room, Alex approached her handsome co-conspirator, admiring his handsome face, thick blond hair and cat-like green eyes.  “This is a nice surprise,” she said with a grin.  “Is this business or pleasure?”

“Business first,” Will replied slyly.

“Is there news on project X?”

Relishing her choice of words, Will sat down on the sofa and patted the cushion next to him.   Alex raised an eyebrow, surprised by his nerve.   The fact that he thought he could summon her in her own home was undeniably pompous.   But it was a turn on, nonetheless, so she followed him to the sofa and sat down.

“James should be getting word any time now on the rating the MPAA has given Angel Assassin,” Will explained, reached beneath her robe and tracing his finger up her thigh.  “I wonder if we’ll be able to hear the screams from here.”

Alex closed her eyes as Will leaned in and brushed his lips against her neck.  She felt absolutely sinful.  She’d been juggling Will Thomerson and Jordan Rydell for over a week.  She felt like she was a teenager again.   And she wasn’t about to spoil it.  She was having too much fun.

“What’s the next stage of your plan?” Alex asked, placing her hands along his face and teasing him with faint kisses on the lips. 

“It’s still in production,” he replied, lowering the straps on her nightgown.   “But rest assured, it’ll be enough to make your ex-husband beg for mercy.”

Alex wasn’t sure what Will was planning next, but she felt comfortable enough to leave it in his hands.  Together they would make James Blackthorne rue the day he messed with either of them.

“Why don’t we move into the bedroom?” she said, standing up and taking his hand.

Will grinned and followed her up the winding staircase.   The thought of bringing James to his knees with the help of his ex-wife was a huge turn on.   He just knew this was the beginning of a very satisfying relationship.

Lauren's Apartment

Winter Austen carried a box from her car up two flights of stairs to her new apartment on the beach.   She set it down in her bedroom and turned just as Ethan followed with two more boxes piled in his arms.

“This is the last two,” he said, setting them down on her bed and panting with exhaustion.  “Man, those stairs are a killer.”

Winter laughed and punched him playfully on the chest.  “You look like you can handle it,” she said.

“Oh yeah?” Ethan asked, pulling her in and kissing her sweetly.   “Oops, sorry, I’m all sweaty.”

“I don’t mind,” Winter replied, peeling his damp polo off and kissing him as she rubbed her hands over his smooth muscular chest.    She let her hands follow his torso down to his madras shorts, pausing seductively at his zipper.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Ethan asked with a grin, his dirty blond hair falling lazily into his eyes.

She nodded.  “I’m going to have to christen the place.”

They both laughed and Ethan pushed her down onto a pile of clothes and CD's on the bed.   He fumbled with the strap on her bikini top and untied it quickly, kissing her exposed stomach with his warm, moist lips.

He buried his face in her breasts, kissing them eagerly and feeling himself growing more aroused by the second.   Moments later, he was on top of her, reaching down in an attempt to slide off his shorts.

“Hey Winter, I saw your car outside and I-“ called a voice from the living room.

They both jumped up off of the bed in a frenzy.  Ethan quickly zipped up his shorts while Winter tied the strap on the bikini top.

“Ooops, sorry,” said Lauren Spencer as she stood in the doorway with a look of utter embarrassment on her face.  “I thought you were alone.”  She turned and started back out of the bedroom when Winter called after her.

“Wait, Lauren,” she began. “It’s okay.”

Lauren turned back and looked at Ethan, admiring his perfectly sculpted body and extremely handsome face.   “Hi, I’m Lauren,” she said, extending her hand.  “I’m Winter’s roommate.”

“Hi, Ethan Blackthorne.”

“I’m sorry, Lauren.  I promise I’ll shut the door next time,” Winter said apologetically.  The last thing she wanted was for her new roommate to think she was some kind of raving nymphomaniac.

Lauren laughed and shook her head, gulping down a glass of water.  “It’s okay,” she replied.  “We’ll have to come up with some kind of system.”

Lauren Spencer was a typical California beach girl with long, sun-streaked blond hair and beautiful bronzed skin.  At twenty-four, she was a long-legged buxom beauty.

“Really, it won’t happen again,” Winter insisted, following Lauren out into the living room.

“Don’t worry about it, “ Lauren said, eyeing Ethan again as she watched him pull his shirt back over his head.  “I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off him either.”

Winter shot her a menacing stare, then broke into a laugh.  “Hey, hands off.  He’s mine.”

“Oh I know, it’s cool,” she said.  “So did you get everything moved in?”

“I think so.  It’ll just take me a while to get unpacked.  I’m pulling double shifts all week at the hospital.  I have absolutely no free time.”

“What do you do, Lauren?” Ethan asked, taking a seat on the old floral-patterned sofa.

“I’m a waitress at a diner down the street,” replied Lauren, sitting on the arm of the sofa and taking off her tennis shoes.   “And I just started cocktail waitressing at a club in Van Nuys.  Actually I’m just working there because the owner says he’ll let me sing a couple nights a week.”

“You’re a singer?” Winter asked.  “I didn’t know that.”

 Lauren nodded.  “Just a hobby, I guess.  We’ll see what happens.”

“We’ll come and hear to sing sometime,” Winter suggested, looking at Ethan with a smile.

“Great,” Lauren exclaimed.  “Well listen, I’m all sweaty after my run so I’m going to go shower.   If I don’t see you, it was nice meeting you Ethan.”

“You too.”

 Lauren disappeared into her bedroom and Winter leaned in to Ethan for a kiss.

“She seems nice,” he said.

Winter took his hand and pulled him up.  “Why don’t we go pick up where we left off,” she said, leading him back to her bedroom.

Ethan grinned from ear to ear, staring at her from behind as he followed her into the room and shut the door.

Stormy and Heather's House

Stormy Blackthorne was in a hurry, rushing from room to room in his house in the Valley as he tried to get ready for his day.   He stood at the sink in the bathroom, brushing his teeth when Heather came in and started in on him right away.

“I want to go with you,” she demanded, picking up a brush and running it through her long, silky brown hair.  “You’ve been putting me off for too long, Stormy.  All I’m asking for is a couple of hours in the studio to record that song.”

“Heather, I told you I don’t have time today!” he insisted.  A dribble of toothpaste ran down his chin and dripped onto his shirt and he rolled his eyes in irritation.  “Oh great, like I have time for this.”   He took a drink of water and rinsed his mouth before tearing off into the bedroom and peeling off his soiled shirt.

“You never have time for me,” Heather complained relentlessly, following fast on his heels as he grabbed a clean shirt and pulled it over his head.   “When are you going to realize that I’m just as important as-“

“Heather, that’s enough,” he cut her off, stopping long enough to give her a cold stare.  “I told you that I have a very busy day today.  I’ll try to get you in the studio as soon as I can.”

“Well when will that be?” she demanded, following him down the stairs to the front door.  “I don’t want to start my career when I’m in a walker and all pruned up!”

Tired of her constant badgering, he grabbed his keys and flew out the front door to his car parked in the driveway.  “I’ll see you tonight,” he said. 

“Stormy!” Heather yelled angrily from the doorway.  “You can’t keep running out on me every time I want to talk about this!”

He started the engine of his white Cobra and peeled out of the driveway, the stereo blasting as he sped off down the road.

Screaming in frustration, Heather slammed the door shut and spun around in a frenzy, her hair whipping through the air and falling into her eyes.   She picked up a vase from the table in the entryway and hurdled it across the room.   Shards of porcelain shattered everywhere and she broke into tears, sliding to the floor and pounding her fists angrily.

Alex's House

Alex was taking a leisurely bubble bath in her enormous tub, sipping a glass of champagne as Will Thomerson sat on the edge, rubbing her smooth, silky back with a sponge.

“So this is the glamorous life of Alex Reynolds,” he said, wearing only a towel around his waste.   “Bubble baths and champagne in the middle of the day.  A gentleman caller washing your back for you.”

“It’s a special occasion,” she purred.   “We’re celebrating.”

Suddenly, a shadow loomed over them.

“Celebrating what?” asked a voice from across the room.

They both spun around and found Jordan Rydell standing in the doorway of the bathroom.

“Jordan, what on earth are you doing here?” Alex asked with a start.

“I thought I’d come by to take you to lunch,” he said, glaring at Will.  “But from the looks of it you already have plans.” 

“She does, so if you don’t mind…” Will began as he stood up.

“And just who the hell are you?” Jordan asked, stepping forward.

Alex sighed, realizing that her fun was probably going to be over very soon.  No more juggling two men at once.   She’d be lucky if either one of them decided to stick around after learning she’d been seeing them both.

“Jordan, this is Will Thomerson.  Will, this is Jordan Rydell.”

The producer?” they both asked in unison.

“Alex, what are you doing with this clown?” Will asked.

“He’s a….friend,” she replied awkwardly.

“A very close friend,” Jordan announced.  “And I’d watch your mouth if I were you, Thomerson.  I’ll send you right back to Broadway if you’re not careful.”

“Look, can we not do this now?” Alex asked.  “I’m a little indisposed here as you can see.”

“That’s right,” Will replied.  “So you can feel free to let yourself out the same way you got in, Rydell.   Next time call before you decide to show up.”

“Just who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” Jordan asked with a frown.  He didn’t realize that Alex had any other love interests at the moment.   Not that he cared that much since he wasn’t really after her heart.  But anyone else coming into the picture might interfere with his plan to use her in his plot to upstage James Blackthorne.

“Don’t start with me,” Will said, walking up to Jordan and shoving him against the wall.  “You’re interrupting and you’re being rude.  Show some class and leave.”

“Why don’t you leave,” Jordan said, shoving Will in return.

“All right, that’s enough!” Alex yelled.  She was starting to feel vulnerable lying in the bathtub while the two men in her life were about to beat each other to a pulp.

“That’s it.  I tried being nice,” Will said, pulling his fist back and punching Jordan directly in the nose, sending him flying back into the vanity.

“Will!  Stop it!” Alex screamed, standing up and quickly grabbing a towel to cover herself with.   “Would you just leave!   Both of you!”

Jordan staggered to his feet, rubbing his jaw while staring menacingly at Will.  “Yeah, I’ll leave,” he said.  “This isn’t worth it.”   He turned and made his way downstairs and out the front door.

Will turned to Alex and opened his mouth to speak when she stopped him with a wave of her hand.

“You too!” she screamed.  “Just get out! Get your clothes and get out!”

Will clenched his jaw in frustration and walked out into the bedroom where he got dressed and left.

Upset that her morning had been ruined, Alex picked up her glass of champagne and finished it off.   She tied the towel around her body, trying to decide what she was going to do to fix the mess she was in.  She wasn’t ready to give up on Jordan.   Or on Will, for that matter.

Sunset Studios

The next day Brooke drove down to Sunset Studios after James called and asked her to go to lunch with him.   The invitation was a welcome one, especially since he had been so preoccupied lately that she didn't even feel like she had a husband.  Since they got married it had been one thing after another.  Miranda hitting her with her car, Miranda getting married, his vendetta against Will Thomerson, and most recently some secret favor he was doing for Kenny DeWitt.   Not once in the past few weeks had he taken time out of his busy life for her.

Luckily she'd stopped herself from doing anything drastic.  The truth was she was lonely and felt neglected, but she was determined to stick by her husband.   That's what marriage was all about.  She even overlooked the way he occasionally insinuated that she should stay out of family matters that didn't concern her.   That had been a difficult pill to swallow, but she maintained her sense of reason.

Upon arriving at his office, she opened the door and found James pacing the office while screaming at someone on the phone.  Ethan was standing by with a helpless look on his face.  He turned and saw Brooke enter the office and immediately grew tense.   He offered a wary smile and she tried not to show her excitement over seeing him.   It had been over a week since their kiss at his house and the guilt still hadn't subsided.   She felt like an adulteress just for being happy to see him again.

"I don't care if they have the final say!" James was yelling into the phone.  "There's got to be a way around this!"

Brooke frowned, wondering what had gotten him so upset this time.  She was almost afraid to ask.  When he hung up the phone she started toward him, hoping to calm him down but he threw his arms up and began pacing the room.

"I don’t believe this!" he yelled.

"That was about the MPAA?" Ethan asked.

"They gave Angel Assassin an X rating!" James bellowed, stopping to pour himself a rocks glass of bourbon.   "X ratings are for porn flicks, not pictures produced by Sunset Studios.   What in hell are they thinking?"

"This doesn't make any sense," Ethan remarked.  "What warrants an X rating?"

"They said it's too violent," James explained.  "They said I have to trim over four minutes of footage before they'll consider an R rating.   Do you have any idea how long that's going to take?  The movie's set to premier in a week!  This is impossible!"

"So what happens if you don't make the cuts?" Brooke asked.  She didn't pretend to know the ins and outs of the movie business.  She did makeup for Angel Assassin but that was the extent of her knowledge in the industry.

"There's not a theater in America that will show it," James replied, slamming his glass onto the bar and pouring himself another drink.  He looked at Ethan.  "Where do we stand financially?"

Ethan sighed, afraid of what his uncle was going to do when he heard the next bit of bad news.  "If the film isn't released on schedule, there's a chance the investors could call in their loans immediately."

"Can they do that?" Brooke asked with concern.  She hated the thought of her husband having to go through this on top of everything else.

"Damn! Damn! Damn!" James shouted, throwing his glass across the room and sending it shattering into a picture hanging on the wall.  "This can't be happening!"

"Can't you make the cuts and resubmit it?" Brooke asked.

He stopped pacing long enough to shoot her a venomous stare.  "Brooke, you're not helping," he snapped.  "Why don’t you go home?"  It was more of an order than a question.  

Hurt and frustrated, she looked at Ethan briefly, then back at her husband.  "I thought we were going to lunch," she said.  "Maybe you just need an hour to cool off and think of a plan."

"Brooke, I told you to go home," James insisted, rubbing his aching head.

Her eyes filled with tears and she ran out of the office.   Ethan looked at his uncle and shook his head in anger.  He felt like punching James's lights out for the way he talked to his wife.   She was a kind, sweet woman who didn't deserve that kind of treatment.

"Don't you think you were a little hard on her?" he asked.  "She was only trying to help."

James rolled his eyes and continued pacing.  "I'll make it up to her later," he said, distracted.  "Ethan, we've got to come up with a way to get those investors their money."

"You'd have to liquidate an enormous amount of assets," Ethan declared.

James clenched his teeth angrily.  "Damnit, I wish I knew how this happened."

Alex Reynolds

The doorbell of her Malibu beach house rang and Alex called for Veronique.  When the maid didn't respond after a minute or so, she got up and answered the door herself.  She was pleased to see Dennis Carlyle standing on the porch.

"Mr. Carlyle, please come in," she said, standing clear of the door.  "I hope you have some information for me about Brooke Taylor."

"I do, Miss Reynolds," replied the middle-aged bald man.  He followed her into the living room and opened his briefcase.  "She's originally from Phoenix.  I started doing some digging and located a man from her past."

"What man?"

"His name is Philip Whitacre," replied the private investigator, handing Alex a picture.

She raised an eyebrow and examined the photo.  "Very attractive," she said.  "Who is he?  A lover?"

"A husband," Carlyle announced.

Alex was stunned.  "She was married before?"

"She still is," he replied.  "Their divorce was never final."

Shocked by the interesting revelation, Alex folded her hands under her chin and began scheming.  This was definitely information that would kill James.  If anything, it would certainly drive a wedge between him and his new bride.  She laughed to herself.  The ironic thing was is that she wasn't even his bride.  Brooke Taylor was a bigamist. 

Brooke Taylor

Brooke thew open her closet doors and began pulling armfuls of clothes off of the hangers.  Fighting back a stream of tears, she walked to the bed and dropped them into a suitcase.  When she turned around again she jumped at the sight of Miranda standing in the doorway, a faint smile on her face.

"I would say I told you so, but that would be too easy," Miranda said, her arms folded as she watched Brooke pack her things.

"What are you talking about?" Brooke asked without stopping her frantic duties.

"I knew you were going to run out on him," was Miranda's smug response.  "I just didn't think it would be this soon.  Wow, you work fast, Brooke."

Brooke ignored her nasty comments and went about her packing.  "I don't know what you think, Miranda, but I can assure you you're wrong."

"Am I?" she asked, stepping further into the room and picking up one of Brooke's dresses from the bed.  "You are leaving, aren't you?   Does my father know?  Or are you planning on it being a surprise?"

"I don't want to talk about this with you."

Miranda realized that her father probably didn't know Brooke was leaving.  She followed her around the room, intent on pushing the issue.  "Man, I was right about you," she said.  "You're just a cold hearted bitch. "

Brooke stopped and spun around to face her.  "Get out, Miranda."

"What?" she asked, taunting her relentlessly.  "Did you think it would be easy married to my father?   Wake up, Brooke.  He's a powerful man.   You have no idea what it's like being in this family.  You knew you don't belong here."

Miranda's words only made her more sure that she was doing the right thing by leaving.   It was all true.  James was a powerful man and she didn't belong with him.  The way he kept pushing her away and telling her to stay out of his business only proved that fact.

She closed her suitcase and pulled it off the bed, brushing past Miranda on her way out the door without another word.   She made her way down the hall and started down the staircase.  Miranda followed close behind, smirking as she relished the moment.

As Brooke reached the foyer, James entered the house and saw her coming toward him.   "Brooke?" he said in confusion, noticing her suitcase in hand.  "Brooke, where are you going?"

She didn't stop her hurried pace or even respond to him.  Fighting back the tears that threatened to explode from her eyes, she walked past him without making eye contact.

James turned and watched as she ran out the front door.  "Brooke!  Where are you going?"

He cringed at the sound of the door slamming shut behind her.  Suddenly realizing what an ass he'd been, he turned and saw Miranda standing on the staircase looking at him with a sympathetic look on her face.

"What's going on here?" he asked.  He already knew the answer to his question.  He'd pushed his wife away by constantly shutting her out of his personal and business affairs.  He knew she was only trying to help.   This time he'd gone too far.  He'd drove her out of their house almost as quickly as she came.

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy offered to show Brett around the city as a favor to Miranda.   It actually wound up to his benefit because Heather had spent the entire day moping around the house and whining about Stormy not helping her with her career.  Having an excuse to get away from home and the studio was just what he needed.

He showed him some of the hot clubs in Hollywood as well as some restaurants and good places for shopping.   By late afternoon they were at the gym Stormy belonged to in the middle of an exhausting workout.

"Your step mother seems nice," Brett said between reps at the bench press.

"Brooke?" Stormy said, wiping his sweaty face and neck with his shirt as he spotted him.  "Yeah, she's petty far out.  She makes my dad happy so I guess that's all that counts."

"Miranda doesn't care much for her from what she's told me," Brett continued before finishing his last set.

Stormy let out a chuckle.  "Yeah, she's made that fact perfectly clear.  But I think she's easing up on her a little.  I think since the two of you got married she's probably realized she's not daddy's little girl anymore."

"Glad I could help out," Brett joked as he sat upright on the bench.  "So how's the music business treating you?"

Stormy laughed.  "Not so great," he said, switching places with his new brother-in-law and laying down on the weight bench.   "I've been scouting for new talent for months and I haven't come up with a thing.   I'm amazed at the lack of talent out there."

"How come you didn't go into the movie business like your old man?"

After he'd finished his set, Stormy panted with exhaustion and tried catching his breath before he responded.  "Music's always been in my blood," he said, his spiky black hair matted to his forehead.    "When it came down to making a choice, there was no competition.  I knew I wanted to be involved with music somehow.   As soon as I got my trust fund, I started Good Times Records. "

"You're passionate," Brett commented.  "That's good."

"What about you?" Stormy asked, preparing to start another set of reps.   "What's your passion?"

 Brett barely had to think about his response.  "Money," he said with a smile.

Blackthorne Mansion

That evening, James was in his study with Ethan.  They were going over figures and financial statements but James couldn't keep his mind off of Brooke.  He had no idea where she'd run off to.   She was obviously upset about the events that had been plaguing their lives lately.   And he hadn't helped matters by shutting her out.

"James, are you with me?" Ethan asked, trying to get his uncle's attention.   "We've got to figure this out.   Investors are going to want to start seeing their return on Angel Assassin. "

"I'm sure Jack won't mind waiting until we can reschedule a release date," James reasoned.   "I'll meet with him tomorrow and see if we can work something out."

Ethan sighed, setting a folder of documents down on the desk.  "Okay, well I'm taking off then," he said.  "Winter and I are going out with Miranda and Brett tonight."

"Oh Good," James replied with a hopeful tone in his voice.  "Let me know what you think of our friend Brett Armstrong.  I'm worried about what kind of man my daughter ran off and married."

"Why don't you just have one of your detectives check him out?" Ethan asked sarcastically.

"I did," James admitted.  "They couldn't find a thing on him.   It's like he just appeared out of nowhere.  He's got no history."

"That could be good," Ethan suggested.  "Maybe he's just a regular good guy who doesn’t have anything to hide."

James let out a chortle.  "Everyone has something to hide, Ethan," he said.

"If you say so," Ethan sighed, deciding to change the subject.   "How's Brooke?"

James quickly looked away.   He didn't want Ethan knowing that Brooke left.   The last thing he needed was his nephew consoling her.  Who knows what it would lead to.

"She's fine," he replied.  "She's tired so she went upstairs to lie down.  I'll tell her you were here."

Ethan smiled and started out of the study with his briefcase.  "Okay, call me after your meeting with Jack Fallmont," he said.

"Will do," James replied, feigning a smile for his nephew's sake.   Once he had left the room, he slammed his fist onto the table and got up to pour himself a drink.  He had so many things going wrong in his life that he didn't know where to start fixing them.  The most important thing was finding Brooke and bringing her back where she belonged.

Miranda Blackthorne

Upstairs, Miranda was changing for her night out on the town with Brett.   She went to the closet to find the right pair of shoes, and God knows she had a lot of them.   She knelt down to the ground and began digging around in the closet.   She knew she'd thrown a pair of Gucci sling backs in there the other day.

Rummaging around on the floor of the closet, she grasped onto a nylon duffel bag and pulled it out.  Quickly, she unzipped the bag in hopes that maybe she'd stuffed the shoes into it without thinking. 

To her surprise, her shoes weren't in the bag, but a lot of money was.   Her eyes grew wide as she pulled a stack of bills from the bag.  She figured there must be over ten thousand dollars crammed into it.

She picked up the bag and set it down onto the bed just as Brett walked into the room in his gym clothes.  He saw the bag and then looked at Miranda with fear in his eyes.

"Where did all this money come from?" she asked with a frown.

Brett's eyes darted around the room as she tried to think of something to say to his wife.   Sweat began pouring from his forehead and he quickly ran over and picked up a stack of fify dollar bills. 

"My savings," he replied with a nonchalant smile.  "You know, profits from the tour company in Vegas and a few other odd jobs I've done over the last few years."

"There's over ten thousand dollars here," Miranda exclaimed.  "Why isn't it in a bank?"

He shrugged.  "I've always figured my money was safer with me than in a bank these days."

Miranda raised her eyebrows and grinned.  "Wow, I had no idea you were such an entrepreneur," she said, throwing her arms around him and kissing him hard.  She pushed him down onto the bed and jumped on top of him.  "I've got myself a real businessman."

Brett smiled as she stripped his shirt off and started kissing his neck, then moving down to his chest and stomach.   He closed his eyes, thinking about the bag of money and that day at the Flamingo Hilton in Vegas…

“Are you trying to take off with our money?” Bailey asked, walking closer to Brett, his eyes threatening.  “Because if you are-“

“No, of course not,” Brett answered, trying to think of a way out of the mess.  “We’re partners, Bailey.  I wouldn’t think of taking your share.”

 “I hope not,” Bailey warned.  “Because I’d hate to turn you in for fraud.”

“You’re just as guilty as I am.  We’ve pulled this scam together in every hotel in the city.”

“Just give me the money and we’ll go our separate ways,” Bailey ordered.  ‘It’s obvious I can’t trust you.”

Laughing casually, Brett gripped the duffel bag and swung it at Bailey, hitting his face and sending him flying backwards.   Not wasting a second, he raced across the room to the door and grabbed for the handle.   Just as he was about to pull it open, Bailey came at him with blinding speed, trying desperately to snatch the duffel bag from him.

The two struggled around the hotel room, knocking over lamps as they tried feverishly to hold on to the bag full of money…

Brett broke from the daze just as Miranda was sliding off her halter top and straddling him, her long black hair falling down over her shoulders.  He kissed her passionately and tried putting Bailey and the money he'd swindled out of him out of his mind.   He had made a clean break from Vegas and was living a new life in Hollywood.  No one would ever catch up with him.

Philip Whitacre

Alex Reynolds landed in Phoenix and went directly to the address for Philip Whitacre that the private investigator had given her.   It was a typical apartment complex next to a lush green golf course.  Just outside the building was an overpopulated swimming pool with dozens of tanned and toned twentysomethings sunbathing and splashing around under the intense Arizona heat.

She stepped out of the cab and walked up to the second floor apartment, her floral sundress clinging to her damp sticky body.   She knocked on the apartment door and waited for an answer.   A minute later she knocked again, then turned to survey the crowded pool deck.   There were at least forty men there and any one of them could be Philip Whitacre.

She waited a few minutes, smoked a cigarette, and then decided it was useless.   He wasn't home and there was no telling when he would return.   She considered leaving and coming back later in the day.  There had to be somewhere around to get a good martini.  One thing was for certain, she wasn't leaving Phoenix without having a few words with Brooke Taylor's husband.

Reluctantly, Alex turned to walk back down the stairs.  She stopped in her tracks when a strapping young man in his late twenties with dark hair and eyes appeared before her.

"Hello," she said, thinking her luck might be turning around.  "Are you Philip Whitacre?"

"That depends," he replied, dripping wet in a pair of black swimtrunks.   "Who's asking?"

She was surprised he didn't recognize her.  She was only one of the most celebrated actresses in the movie business.  "I'm Alex Reynolds," she said, extending her hand to him.  "I wondered if I could have a minute of your time."

Suddenly Philip's eyes flashed open and he cracked a giant smile, revealing a row of perfect white teeth.   "Alex Reynolds, the actress?" he said, still somewhat disaffected.  "What do you want to talk to me about?"

Alex licked her lips, admiring his wet, tan, hard body.  "If we could go inside for a minute," she began.  "This won't take long.  It's about Brooke Taylor."

Philip raised one eyebrow and led her inside his apartment.   It was cold inside and the air conditioning felt good to Alex.   She wasn't used to the unbearable heat they experienced in Phoenix.   Once inside, Philip disappeared for a minute then returned to the living room with a towel.

"How do you know Brooke Taylor?" he asked, drying himself off while eyeing Alex with a sheepish grin.

"She married James Blackthorne, the movie producer."

"Brooke got married again?" Philip asked, folding his arms across his bare chest and letting out a slight chuckle.  "Well what do you know."

"You were married to her for a while, weren't you?" Alex asked.

"For a while.  Until she said she was sick of Phoenix and wanted to move on to something bigger and better."  He laughed.  "Like she's going to get any better than me."

Alex was amused by his immodesty.  Somehow it made him even sexier.

"Did you get a divorce?" she asked.

 He shrugged.  "Yeah.  She said she was going to take care of it."

"I hate to be the one to tell you this, Philip, but she didn't."

"What?" he asked.  "She never got the divorce?"

Alex shook her head.  "No, which means you're still married.   And it also means that her marriage to James Blackthorne isn't legal."

Philip seemed genuinely dumbfounded.   He looked at her skeptically, still unable to take his eyes from her impressive cleavage and killer legs.   "So why come here?  I mean, why you?  Are you a friend of hers or something?"  Then without warning he dropped his swimming trunks and stood completely nude while he grabbed a dry pair of shorts to put on.

"Yes, a very good friend," Alex replied with a wicked smile.  She was very impressed with the young man.  He had a lot of spunk.  Among other things.    "I wanted to come here and check it out first.   I didn't want to ruffle anyone's feathers until I was sure.   But now that I know it's true, I think you should come back to L.A. with me.  I'm sure Brooke will want to get this mess cleared up as soon as possible."

Philip laughed and pulled on a pair of soccer shorts.  "Why would I want to see Brooke again?" he asked.  "She ran out on me.  I couldn't care less if her marriage is legal or not.  It's no skin off my back."

Alex wasn't expecting him to react so casually.  "But think about it, Philip.  If you decide to remarry, you won't be able to until this gets fixed.   Don't you want to at least get it done with so you can move on with your life?   Otherwise you'll be tied to her forever."

He hesitated for a minute and then shook his head.  "Forget it," he said.  "It was nice of you to come all this way just to tell me this, but I have no desire to see Brooke Taylor again. "

"But-" Alex protested.

Philip gave her a boyish smile and took a step closer.  "But as long as you're here, Sweetheart, we might as well make the best of it." 

"I beg your pardon?" she asked.

"Well, it's not everyday a big Hollywood actress shows up at my door," he said with a sly grin.  "And don't think I haven't noticed the way you've been checking me out ever since you set foot in here."

Alex didn't know whether to be appalled by his nerve or flattered.   She certainly enjoyed being the object of affection of someone of his youth and good looks.  But as much as she wanted to act on her impulses, she had to refrain from doing anything inappropriate.  She was there for business, not pleasure.

Pulling open the door, she turned back and gave him a final look.  "If you ever do make it to Hollywood, Mr. Whitacre, that charm and determination will take you places.  Mark my words."

Philip bit down on his lip and watched as she left the apartment.

Alex got back in the cab and instructed the driver to take her back to the airport.   Her mission had failed but she wasn't about to give up yet.   There had to be a way to bring Brooke's misdeeds to James's attention, even without Philip Whitacre's help.


Next time...

Brett has a business proposition for Stormy.  James tries desperately to get Brooke to come home, then later tries to get a loan extension from Jack Fallmont.  Winter grows jealous of Ethan's concern for Brooke.   Alex gets two proposals.

 Read Episode 8

 

 


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