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.
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.
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.
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
and looking out the window at the choppy waves of the Pacific, she realized
there was something else. Maybe there
was another nail yet…
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
later, the private investigator Dennis Carlyle came onto the line. “Yes, Miss Reynolds. How nice to hear from you again.”
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.“
course. Send me whatever information you
have on her and I’ll get started immediately.”
you’ll have it by lunchtime,” Alex said and hung up the phone with a smile.
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.
then, the maid, Veronique entered the room followed by Will Thomerson. Alex turned and grinned from ear to ear.
was just thinking about you,” Alex said.
“Veronique, would you bring some coffee, please?”
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?”
first,” Will replied slyly.
there news on project X?”
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.
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.”
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.
the next stage of your plan?” Alex asked, placing her hands along his face and
teasing him with faint kisses on the lips.
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.”
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.
don’t we move into the bedroom?” she said, standing up and taking his hand.
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.
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
is the last two,” he said, setting them down on her bed and panting with
exhaustion. “Man, those stairs are a
Winter laughed and punched him playfully on the chest. “You look like you can handle it,” she said.
yeah?” Ethan asked, pulling her in and kissing her sweetly. “Oops, sorry, I’m all sweaty.”
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.
you thinking what I’m thinking?” Ethan asked with a grin, his dirty blond hair falling
lazily into his eyes.
nodded. “I’m going to have to christen
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.
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.
Winter, I saw your car outside and I-“ called a voice from the living
both jumped up off of the bed in a frenzy.
Ethan quickly zipped up his shorts while Winter tied the strap on the
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.
Lauren,” she began. “It’s okay.”
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.”
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.
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
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
it won’t happen again,” Winter insisted, following Lauren out into the living room.
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.”
shot her a menacing stare, then broke into a laugh. “Hey, hands off. He’s mine.”
I know, it’s cool,” she said. “So did
you get everything moved in?”
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.”
do you do, Lauren?” Ethan asked,
taking a seat on the old floral-patterned sofa.
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.”
a singer?” Winter asked. “I didn’t know
nodded. “Just a hobby, I guess. We’ll see what happens.”
come and hear to sing sometime,” Winter suggested, looking at Ethan with a
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.”
disappeared into her bedroom and Winter leaned in to Ethan for a kiss.
seems nice,” he said.
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
grinned from ear to ear, staring at her from behind as he followed her into the
room and shut the door.
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.
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.”
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.
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-“
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.”
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!”
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.
Heather yelled angrily from the doorway.
“You can’t keep running out on me every time I want to talk about this!”
started the engine of his white Cobra and peeled out of the driveway, the
stereo blasting as he sped off down the road.
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.
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.
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.”
a special occasion,” she purred. “We’re
a shadow loomed over them.
what?” asked a voice from across the room.
both spun around and found Jordan Rydell standing in the doorway of the
“Jordan, what on earth are you doing
here?” Alex asked with a start.
thought I’d come by to take you to lunch,” he said, glaring at Will. “But from the
looks of it you already have
does, so if you don’t mind…” Will
began as he stood up.
just who the hell are you?” Jordan asked, stepping forward.
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.”
producer?” they both asked in unison.
what are you doing with this clown?” Will asked.
a….friend,” she replied awkwardly.
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.”
can we not do this now?” Alex asked.
“I’m a little indisposed here as you can see.”
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
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.
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.”
don’t you leave,” Jordan said, shoving Will in return.
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.
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!”
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.
turned to Alex and opened his mouth to speak when she stopped him with a wave
of her hand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
don't care if they have the final say!" James was yelling into the
phone. "There's got to be a way
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
don’t believe this!" he yelled.
was about the MPAA?" Ethan asked.
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?"
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!"
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.
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?"
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
they do that?" Brooke asked with concern.
She hated the thought of her husband having to go through this on top of
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!"
you make the cuts and resubmit it?" Brooke asked.
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.
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."
I told you to go home," James insisted, rubbing his aching head.
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.
you think you were a little hard on her?" he asked. "She was only trying to help."
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."
have to liquidate an enormous amount of assets," Ethan declared.
clenched his teeth angrily.
"Damnit, I wish I knew how this happened."
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
Carlyle, please come in," she said, standing clear of the door. "I hope you have
some information for me about
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."
name is Philip Whitacre," replied the private investigator, handing Alex a
raised an eyebrow and examined the photo.
"Very attractive," she said.
"Who is he? A lover?"
husband," Carlyle announced.
was stunned. "She was married
still is," he replied. "Their
divorce was never final."
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
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.
would say I told you so, but that would be too easy," Miranda said, her
arms folded as she watched Brooke pack her things.
are you talking about?" Brooke asked without stopping her frantic duties.
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."
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."
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
don't want to talk about this with you."
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
Brooke stopped and
spun around to face her. "Get out,
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
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.
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.
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?"
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.
turned and watched as she ran out the front door. "Brooke! Where are you going?"
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.
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.
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.
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
"Your step mother seems nice," Brett said
between reps at the bench press.
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
doesn't care much for her from what she's told me," Brett continued before
finishing his last set.
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."
I could help out," Brett joked as he sat upright on the bench. "So how's the music business treating
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
come you didn't go into the movie business like your old man?"
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
passionate," Brett commented.
about you?" Stormy asked, preparing to start another set of reps. "What's your passion?"
barely had to think about his response.
"Money," he said with a smile.
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.
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.
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."
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."
don't you just have one of your detectives check him out?" Ethan asked
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."
could be good," Ethan suggested.
"Maybe he's just a regular good guy who doesn’t have anything to
let out a chortle. "Everyone has
something to hide, Ethan," he said.
you say so," Ethan sighed, deciding to change the subject. "How's Brooke?"
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.
fine," he replied. "She's
tired so she went upstairs to lie down.
I'll tell her you were here."
smiled and started out of the study with his briefcase. "Okay, call me after your meeting with
Jack Fallmont," he said.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
over ten thousand dollars here," Miranda exclaimed. "Why isn't it in a bank?"
shrugged. "I've always figured my
money was safer with me than in a bank these days."
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
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
The two struggled around the hotel
room, knocking over lamps as they tried feverishly to hold on to the bag full
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
she said, thinking her luck might be turning around. "Are you Philip Whitacre?"
depends," he replied, dripping wet in a pair of black swimtrunks. "Who's asking?"
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."
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?"
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
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.
do you know Brooke Taylor?" he asked, drying himself off while eyeing Alex
with a sheepish grin.
married James Blackthorne, the movie producer."
got married again?" Philip asked, folding his arms across his bare chest
and letting out a slight chuckle.
"Well what do you know."
were married to her for a while, weren't you?" Alex asked.
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."
was amused by his immodesty. Somehow it
made him even sexier.
you get a divorce?" she asked.
shrugged. "Yeah. She said she was going to take care of
hate to be the one to tell you this, Philip, but she didn't."
he asked. "She never got the
shook her head. "No, which means
you're still married. And it also means
that her marriage to James Blackthorne isn't legal."
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.
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."
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."
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
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. "
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."
beg your pardon?" she asked.
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
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.
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
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
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.