used Blackthorne-Reynolds funds to give to Seth
to buy the land at Costa Mesa. The police found
that the security camera tapes from Adrienne's house
were missing after she was murdered. Miranda and
David went to Big Bear to spend time alone. Heather
and Brett returned from Reno with news that they'd gotten
married. Brett learned what was going on at Costa
Mesa and blackmailed Seth into giving him five percent
of the profits. Seth donated money to Kenny and
the Land Commission in exchange for drilling permits
for Costa Mesa. Logan blew up when he learned
that Brett was now partnered in Stratotech. He
demanded more of a cut from Seth, who grew angry by
his request. James and Leigh went to Costa Mesa
where armed guards were heavily present. They
traced a phone number to an answering service office,
then waited to see who picked up messages. To
Stormy's surprise, it was Brett, now on Seth's payroll.
Alex turned away Jordan's attempts at reconciling.
Leilani shared with James her concern over her
daughter in Hawaii. Leigh considered telling James
that she was involved with Stratotech, but quickly
reconsidered. Logan was killed in a car accident.
Brett found engine grease on Seth's arm.
It was late. The house was dark save for few slivers of
blue moonlight cutting through the windows.
An eerie quiet hung in the air, only the sounds of crickets chirping in
the night breaking the deathly silence.
The Santa Ana’s were blowing.
Leaves scattered over the roof. Shutters
tapped the windows and rattled garbage cans outside. This was enough of a disturbance to alarm
even the most heavy of sleepers.
The upstairs light
went on and Alex Reynolds leapt from her bed, her nightgown billowing behind
her as she made her way to the staircase and edged halfway down. There she paused, peering through the
uncertainty of the first floor and scanning the room for any sign of an
“Who’s there?” she
asked the darkness.
She swallowed hard,
pulling her nightgown closed and shivering on the staircase. “Is someone there?”
wasn’t alone, her heart raced. For the
third night in a row she slept fitfully, waking from every bump in the night. Most of the time she simply laid awake in bed,
terrified that someone had gained entry to the house. Terrified that someone was climbing the
staircase with a knife or a gun or a pillow to smother her with. Terrified that someone was going to kill
That someone was Seth Walker. He
lived only a mile down the beach. It
would be easy for him to leave his autumn slumber next to Marilee, slip on a
pair of gloves, walk to her house and silence her once and for all. Just like he’d done to Adrienne, and just
like he’d done to Logan.
Since the news of Logan’s car accident, she
had been paralyzed with fear. That same
morning she’d heard them arguing. Logan demanded more money in the Costa Mesa deal or he’d blow the whistle on
the whole operation, and Seth made sure that neither one happened.
she was next. She’d already confronted
him with her suspicions. She still
didn’t know what exactly he was up to.
Whether it was shipping oil to
Panama, or something more
scandalous. Either way, Stratotech was something she wished
she’d never gotten involved in. She
could no longer function. She didn’t go
to work, she didn’t see her children, she didn’t even leave the house. No one could get her if she was safely locked
inside. Or so she thought until tonight.
and sleepy, she sat down on the stairs and leaned against the banister. There she stayed until morning, scanning the
dark room and waiting for him to come.
that morning, Leigh Purcell drove to the pier and walked down to the end,
wrapped in a green cashmere shawl as she shivered from a cool breeze coming in
from the water. She gazed out at the
rippling waves of the ocean, eyeing a school of seagulls that glided through
the air. She became entranced in her own
thoughts, nearly oblivious to Seth who came up behind her.
about jumping?” he asked, holding a steaming cup of coffee.
turned and regarded him suspiciously. “Thinking
about pushing me?”
sighed and shook his head in frustration.
He set his coffee on the ledge and leaned against the railing. “Are we back to this again?” he asked. “I told you the other day. I had nothing to do with Logan’s accident. How could I have? The police say it was just that. An accident.”
police say it was impossible to determine.
The car was too badly burned. It
could have been break failure. Meaning
someone could have tampered with them.”
would I tamper with Logan’s
heard the two of you arguing the other day after I left your office. You said yourself that he was demanding a
bigger cut in this Costa Mesa
deal. You were furious.”
to kill him?” Seth asked with a wicked smile.
“Come on, Leigh. You know
me. You know I’m not capable of murder.”
like you didn’t kill Adrienne, right?” Leigh asked cautiously. She knew all she had were suspicions. There was nothing she could prove. But the odds were stacked in her favor. Two people associated with Stratotech were now dead, and Seth was
all the richer for it.
cared about Adrienne,” Seth claimed.
were sleeping with her, yes,” Leigh conceded.
“But you were sleeping with me,
too. That doesn’t mean either one of us
were safe. When she threatened to tell,
you went ballistic. Just like with Logan the other day in
your office. This is crazy. I should just tell the police about this
whole Costa Mesa
business and cut my losses.”
Seth ordered. “It’s too late for
that. You’re already in too deep. We’ll both go to prison, Leigh.”
shook her head in frustration. “Then I want
out. You can keep my money. I won’t say anything to anyone. I just don’t want in on this deal anymore.”
you just want to walk away and look like an innocent martyr to your boyfriend
James Blackthorne?” Seth asked. He
laughed and shook his head. “Priceless. Is he really worth it to you?”
least he’s not a murderer.”
not a murderer,” Seth insisted. “Leigh, you have to believe that. I may be a lot of things, but come on.”
shivered from the cold and looked at him with lost green eyes. “But I heard you and Logan. You were furious. You thought you were going to lose
smarmy façade suddenly disappeared and Seth grew quiet and solemn. He stepped before her and backed her up
against the railing of the pier. His
eyes bore into hers so deeply that she thought he was staring into her
get one thing straight,” he began slowly and methodically. “You did not
see me arguing with Logan.”
swallowed hard, fully aware that he was issuing an ultimatum. She slid out from behind him and dashed down
the pier. Whether he was or wasn’t a
murderer, he was not the kind of man she wanted to be associated with any
she’d left, Seth tossed his empty cup into the water and turned back down the pier. He would do anything he had to to protect his
investment. No one would stand in his
way now. Not Adrienne, not Logan, not
Leigh, and not Alex.
Brett was standing in the kitchen of his condo at the
marina, glancing through the morning paper while he sipped a cup of
coffee. He skimmed through the business
section, the entertainment section, and then breezed through the local
news. Not much happening outside of
wildfires in San Diego
and a fatal car crash on PCH.
A knock at the door brought him back to his own reality and
he traipsed across the room to answer it.
Upon opening the door, he came face to face with the most irritating way
to start his day.
“You’re busted,” Stormy said from the hall outside the
“What now?” Brett asked with irritation as he hovered in the
Stormy brushed past him and entered the living room. “Don’t play dumb. I know you’re involved with Stratotech. The only thing I don’t know is how involved you are.”
asked, alarmed that his former brother-in-law had uncovered the bit of
information. “I don’t know what you’re
“Oh come on, Brett,” Stormy said irately. “I saw you go into that office building and
pick up the messages from the answering service. Now who are you working for and what are they
Brett folded his arms and watched him pace around the
room. “You must not have enough to do,”
he said with a frown. “Is my being gone
from Sunset Studios leaving business
a little on the light side?”
“Cut the crap,” Stormy said. “Stratotech
owns a piece of land in Costa Mesa. They’re shipping oil to Panama. Adrienne Fallmont was involved before she
died. We think whoever owns Stratotech killed her because she knew
That bit of information was news to Brett. He suddenly wondered just how important this
deal was to Seth Walker. Was he capable
of murder in an effort to cover it up?
“What’s going on?” Heather asked as she came out of the
bedroom, wrapped in a bathrobe and her hair wet from the shower. “Stormy, what are you doing here?”
Stormy looked at her with wide eyes, then back at Brett who
stood by with an unrelenting smirk.
“Heather, I-“ he stammered. “What are you doing here? I thought you were through shacking up with
“We’re not just shacking up,” Brett said with
satisfaction. “We’re married.”
The news jolted Stormy back a step. He suddenly forgot all about Stratotech and Costa Mesa.
Never in his wildest dreams did he think Heather would sink as low as to
marry his worst enemy.
“Stormy, I was going to tell you. Things have just been so crazy since we got
back, that I-“ Heather began.
“I can’t believe this,” he said and walked directly to
her. “Look, I know I hurt you but I
always thought we would-“
“What?” Heather asked.
“We’d get back together? Stormy,
every time we tried it didn’t work.
There was always something or someone to get in our way. I’m sorry.
You know how much I care about you and appreciate everything you’d done
for me this past year, but…” The dreaded
pause. “I love Brett.”
Hurt and angry, Stormy sucked back the tears that threatened
to well up in his eyes. He was stunned,
and too upset to utter another word. He
turned and stalked back to the door, avoiding eye contact with Brett as he left
in a flurry.
Heather buried her face in her hands and offered a vague
smile when Brett kissed her tenderly.
When she returned to the bathroom, Brett raced out the door and caught
up with Stormy on the stairs.
“You going soft on me, dude?” he asked, unable to resist the
temptation to taunt him relentlessly..
“I was sure you would start one of your dog fights with me when you
heard the news. What’s the matter? Finally realize that Heather needs a real man
in her bed, and that you’re no match for me?”
Partly wanting to turn and walk away, and partly wanting to
punch his lights out, Stormy took a step forward and issued a look of
warning. “This marriage is a joke,” he
began. “She may think she’s happy right
now, but mark my words, you’re going to mess it up, and when you do, she’ll
kick you to the curb just the same way my sister did. You’ll either screw around on her, or screw yourself with however you’re involved
with Stratotech, but you will mess it up.
And when you do, just remember that I’ll be here for
just like I always am.”
With that, he turned and continued down the stairs. Brett set his jaw, intent on proving him
wrong. He and Heather would be happy,
and Stormy would see once and for all that he and Heather weren’t the golden
couple he always thought they were.
Heather went by the Blackthorne mansion to have breakfast
with Miranda. While she waited in the
dining room for her step-sister to come downstairs, she nibbled on a piece of
bacon and sipped from a cup of juice, absently gazing outside at the flowing green
lawns. When she heard Miranda enter the
room, she spun around and smiled brilliantly.
“Welcome back,” she said.
“I was beginning to think you and David were going to stay in Big Bear
Miranda smiled and flung her hair over her shoulders while
she poured herself a glass of milk. “I
wouldn’t have minded it one bit,” she said.
“It was wonderful, Heather. I
really feel like we got to know each other this past weekend. Did you know that he went to law school? Or that his family went to the cabin in Big
Bear every summer of his childhood?”
“No, I didn’t know that,” Heather said with a grin and sat
down next to her. “It sounds like you
had a good time.”
“It was better than good,” she said, biting off a piece of a
croissant and gushing with excitement.
“I mean, David’s always been kind of a mystery. I mean, we flirted and we went out on a couple
of dates, and he was there for me after the miscarriage, but I really think we
connected this weekend.”
“I’m so happy for you.”
“Okay, this is me
officially shutting up about my love life,” she said with an apologetic
smile. “So tell me what’s been going on
Heather bit down on her fingernails, certain that what she
was about to tell Miranda would go over like a box of bombs. But she would find out eventually, so she
took a deep breath and blurted it out.
“I got married,” she said.
“You did?” Miranda exclaimed in surprise and grabbed her
hand to search for a ring. “Oh my God, I
can’t believe you and Stormy are on marriage number two! Why didn’t you wait until I got back? I would have been a bridesmaid! As long as I got to pick the dress, of
Awkward, Heather thought
to herself. “Not Stormy.”
“Well then-“ she began, then realization hit her
quickly. “Oh my God, tell me you
didn’t. Tell me you did not marry
Heather squirmed uncomfortably in her chair. “Miranda, I know you don’t understand our
relationship, but can’t you just trust me?
I love him and I know he loves me.”
Miranda placed a hand on her forehead and silently groaned
to herself. “Look, I-“
“I know, you divorced Brett because he was
untrustworthy. He did horrible
things. But he’s more than made up for
that. At least to me.”
“Heather, you don’t-“
“I know, I know, he’s a con man and a lair. Well I think that it was this house that was
doing that to him, Miranda. I think
living under this roof with your father and your brother made him into this
competitive, fortune-hunting jerk. But
ever since he moved out he’s been totally different.”
Miranda stood up and began pacing the room. “What about-“
“Brett was broken up after you lost the baby,” Heather said
and followed her across the room. “I’ve
never seen him like that before. I think
he really wants to be a family and to have someone who he can take care of and
that can take care of him.”
“But Heather. I….uh…..arrgghh,” Miranda said and shook her
head in resignation. She pulled Heather
into an embrace and hugged her warmly.
“I’m scared for you.”
“You’re not mad?” Heather asked, wincing as she pulled
Miranda ran her hands through her hair. “No, I’m not mad. I just…”
A pause while she contemplated her feelings. All she could do was repeat herself. “I’m scared for you.”
James, Renee and Kenny met for
breakfast on the terrace at the Yacht Club.
They settled down at their table overlooking the marina and Renee sighed
with frustration at the empty seat beside her.
“I suppose Alex is another no-show
today,” she guffawed. “Honestly, if she
doesn’t want to take part in the business then why doesn’t she sell to us so we
can quit being disappointed every time she flakes out on us?”
“I called this morning and she said
she was feeling under the weather,” James said and smiled as the waitress came
by with coffee and the morning paper. “I’ll
fill her in after we get the details of the acquisition nailed down.”
“Fine,” Renee said and picked up her
coffee. “Kenny, how much is the seller
asking for the land?”
“Too much,” he replied and withdrew
a set of contracts. “Land in Nevada isn’t cheap, and we’re
about five million short of meeting their asking price.”
“Surely we can come up with another
five million dollars,” James said. “Blackthorne-Reynolds isn’t doing that
badly. The pipeline in Colorado is almost completed. Overhead has been fairly low lately. I don’t understand.”
Kenny shrugged. “I’m going through the books with a fine
tooth comb,” he said. “But I’m not an
accountant, James. I’m a lawyer. There are things in the ledger that I don’t
understand. Expenses that don’t mean
much to me without Alex’s input. She’s
been the bookkeeper since you started the business, and from the way it looks
she’s got some screwy methods of accounting.”
“So call her up and get her over
here,” Renee said. “I don’t care if
she’s sick. If there’s money missing
from Blackthorne-Reynolds then she’s
got a lot to answer for.”
James held up his hand in an effort
to stop Renee’s raving. “I’ll talk to
Alex and we’ll get it straightened out,” he said. “For now let’s try to stall. I want this land in Nevada.
The geologist I hired said it was a natural gas goldmine.”
“He wasn’t the one who died, was
he?” Renee asked and placed a hand on her chest.
James shook his head. “No.”
“Who died?” Kenny asked
“Some geologist,” James
explained. “Mackenzie. He was in a car accident a couple of days
Kenny grew into a daze, recalling
the meeting he’d had with Seth Walker. Logan
Mackenzie was the geologist who had been working with him. They were working together to get the
variance on the land in Costa Mesa. Now he was dead. Just like Adrienne. What were the odds that two people involved
with Stratotech were now dead? And was his keeping quiet about what he knew
going to get him into even more trouble?
“If you’ll excuse me,” he said and
stood up in a hurry.
“Kenny, we aren’t finished,” Renee
said with a frown.
“Just call me when you get the books
figured out. I just forgot about an
appointment I have.”
With that, he grabbed his briefcase
and raced across the terrace. He made his
way outside and across the street to Seth’s office. Darting through the door, he found Seth
talking on the phone while leaning back in his chair.
“What the hell is going on?” he
Seth quickly ended his call and hung
up the phone. “Kenny, how nice to see
you this morning. What can I do for
you? Don’t tell me the Land Commission
needs more money for their wildlife preserve.
I think my donation should have about covered it.”
Kenny leaned across the desk and
stared heatedly at him. “I just learned
that Logan Mackenzie died,” he said.
“Wasn’t he the geologist you had on hand to forge those land surveys at Costa Mesa?”
“He was my associate if that’s what
you’re getting at,” Seth said coolly.
“What is this all about? He was
in a tragic car accident. You know how dangerous
those curves on the highway can be.”
“First Adrienne, now Logan?” Kenny
asked and shook his head.
“Adrienne?” Seth asked and stood
up. “What does she have to do with
“She sent my ex-wife a letter asking
her to get it to me if anything happened to her,” Kenny said. “It was a map of Costa
Mesa and a truck route to Panama. Why would she send that to me, Seth?”
“I can’t pretend to know what
Adrienne did, or what went through her mind.”
Kenny dug his hands into the pockets
of his gray pinstripe suit. “We both
know there is no oil at Costa Mesa. So what
are you shipping to Panama?”
Seth grew serious, approaching Kenny
steadfastly and glaring into his eyes.
“Take this any way you want, Kenny, but I want you to stop asking
questions about this. As far as you
know, the subjects of Panama,
Adrienne Fallmont, and Logan Mackenzie are off limits.”
Kenny knew very well that he was
being threatened. He swallowed hard and
backed up a step. He was now more sure
than ever than something sinister was going on, and Congressman Seth Walker was
right in the heart of it.
In his office next door, Brett was
busy studying a spreadsheet of cost analysis for Costa Mesa.
By his calculations, with his five percent of Stratotech, he would be a millionaire in his own rite in a matter
of a few short weeks.
across a name over and over that struck a familiar chord in his mind. Several signatures that bore the name Logan
Mackenzie kept popping up on reports.
Now that he owned five percent of the company, he wanted to know who
else was on their payroll.
he murmured under his breath, racking his brain and trying to remember why the
name sounded so familiar to him. It
seemed that he’d read about a Mackenzie in the paper lately.
he remembered. He grabbed the newspaper
from his desk and tore it open to the local news. He skimmed down the page until he came to the
article about the geologist who died in the car accident on PCH.
up from the newspaper, Brett quickly began to realize that he was involved with
a very dangerous individual in Seth Walker. Adrienne Fallmont and Logan Mackenzie were
exhibits A and B.
idea that Hollywood
was the land of make believe had occurred to Leigh more than once. Everyone was an actor, this she knew. So why couldn’t she join the ranks of the
celebrity crowd and go about her day as though she were playing a part in a
movie? She wouldn’t have to feel the
guilt over lying to James, or letting a possible two-time murderer go
free. She could just be Leigh Purcell,
the woman James had met in Acapulco
seven years earlier on the set of a movie.
sadly James was bound to learn the truth.
She decided she’d have to step up her masquerade. Maybe getting away from the source of the
problem was the answer.
an idea,” she said as she and James had dinner that night at the mansion. “Why don’t we fly down to Acapulco tomorrow morning?”
“Acapulco?” he asked.
nodded and watched as he poured them each another glass of wine. Leilani had served dinner in front of the
fire in the family room. It was such a
romantic setting. It only made her want
to hold onto him even more.
to check on some things at my hotel,” she lied.
The place ran itself, after all.
“Plus I have my house and my things. Not to mention Purcell Worldwide.
I’d just like to touch base with my life there. We could make a vacation out of it.”
smiled and kissed her tenderly on the neck.
“I’d like nothing more than to go away with you,” he said, and then sighed
apologetically. “But this isn’t a good
time. This thing with Stratotech is really bothering me. Stormy and Eddie have been investigating, but
so far we’ve not come up with much. I
feel like I’m missing something.”
what?” she asked, fishing.
shrugged. “I don’t know. Somehow Miranda’s ex-husband is involved,
although he denies it. And even if he is
involved, getting him to tell the truth about anything is like getting secrets
out of a government agent.”
sighed in despair. “James, why do you
feel so passionate about this?” she asked him point blank. “Why do you have to know who owns Stratotech so badly?”
whoever owns it killed one of my best friends’ wives. I’m positive of that. And I owe it to both of them to find out who
it is. And besides all of that, the Filmmaker Awards are coming
up next week. I'd like you to be my date if you'll
appeared surprised. 'You want me to be
course." He smiled accordingly.
you,” she found herself saying, placing a gentle hand on the side of his face. “You’re
a good, descent man.”
appeared caught off guard. He looked
into her brilliant green eyes and touched her hand.
you too,” he said, pulling her into a kiss.
fireplace flickered before them as they lay in each other’s arms. The complications of their lives faded away,
everything seemingly less important than being together at that very moment.
sound grew louder and louder until eventually Alex leapt out of bed and cowered
in the corner of her bedroom. Her heart
raced inside her chest, her eyes grew wider and wider in terror until she was
seconds from fainting dead away.
Someone was in the house. This time she was sure of it. Terrified, she grabbed the phone and darted
into the closet, closing the door securely behind.
Peering through the wooden slats on
the door, she dialed and held the phone in her trembling hand. Seconds later, Jordan
answered at his house in Beverly Hills.
“This better be important,” he said,
woken from a deep slumber in his luxurious bed.
“Jordan,” she whispered
quietly. “Someone’s breaking into my
“Hello?” he said with a frown. “I can’t hear you. Speak up.”
“Jordan, it’s Alex!” she
squealed. “Someone is breaking into my
house. Please get over here!”
“Alex?” he asked and sat up in
bed. He rubbed his eyes and switched on
the lamp. “What’s wrong?”
“Jordan, please. Get the face cream out of your ears and get
your ass over here!”
Jordan frowned and looked at the
phone before hanging it up. “Ass? Cream?”
Did Alex just give him a bootie
Dressed head to toe in black, Stormy
and Eddie crept along the perimeter of the fence surrounding the Costa Mesa drill
site. They ignored the cautionary No Trespassing signs posted every ten
feet or so, waiting for the armed guard to pass before climbing over and
scuttling down the embankment.
Without uttering a word, Stormy
motioned for Eddie to follow, rounding the side of a trailer and huddling
behind it near the ground. Eddie pointed
to the door and slowly rose, trying the handle and finding it locked. He
reached into his pocket and removed a small device which he inserted into the
lock and turned it this way and that.
Seconds later the door popped open.
Stormy gave him an appreciative pat on the back and they entered the
Once inside, Eddie removed a small
pen light which he shined around the trailer.
“Careful with that,” Stormy whispered. “One look in this direction from that guard
up there and we’re as good as dead. This
is private property, remember.”
“Relax, buddy boy,” Eddie said and
went to work at rifling through stacks of papers and file folders. “You’re talking to a pro.”
Just to be safe, Stormy closed the
mini blinds that covered the windows. He
turned and aided in the search. Not that
they knew what they were looking for.
Anything that seemed out of place, he supposed. Or anything that would clue them in as to who
was behind Stratotech.
“Anything?” he asked Eddie.
“I don’t know.” Eddie shined the light over a document that
made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. “This looks important.”
Stormy came up behind him and peered
over his shoulder. Reading along, he
parted his lips and spoke out loud in a hushed whisper.
“Way Bill # 18796. Shipper: Stratotech USA. Consignee:
Casco Viejo, Panama,
Central America. Number of Cartons: 147. Gross Weight: 2, 240 Pounds. Manifest # 876.”
“It’s a shipping invoice,” Eddie
whispered and continued reading.
“Yeah, and look what they’re
shipping,” Stormy said and pointed to the document.
Eddie read further down the invoice. “Cargo: M240 Assault Rifles; 20mm
Autocannons; M203 Grenade Launchers….”
He paused and looked at Stormy.
“Holy sh- Do you know what this
isn’t selling oil to Panama,”
Stormy said. “They’re selling weapons.”
Their surprise over the information
was short lived. Footsteps shuffling
outside and a bright light shining through the window sent them both into a
panic. Eddie quickly turned off his pen
light and gave Stormy a fearful look.
Quickly, Stormy led him to the back
of the trailer. They disappeared from
view just as the door opened and the security guard entered, brandishing a gun
at his side and scanning the trailer with watchful eyes.
The flashlight cut through the
darkness, inching across the room until it illuminated every surface. He stepped down the center of the trailer,
casting the light right and left until he came to the back. A sound from behind caught his attention and
he quickly spun around, aiming his pistol and shining the flashlight straight
When his light showed no sign of
life, the guard went back to the door and peered outside. There was no one there. He turned back and looked through the trailer
once more before leaving and closing the door securely behind.
Once he was gone and the flashlight
faded into the distance, Stormy emerged from beneath a desk. Eddie followed, bumping his head on the metal
top as he slid out from the hiding space.
“Shhh,” Stormy said. “You want him to come back?”
Eddie shrugged apologetically and
followed him to the door. They peered
outside and made certain the coast was clear before leaving the trailer and
scurrying back up the hill to the fence.
The figure skulked around the side
of the house, peering in windows and checking for a way in. His feet rustled in the leaves outside the
living room window. He pulled at the shutters
and moved along to the front door.
Standing on the porch, he tried the knob, turning it once and then
pausing before rattling it again.
wind howled. Alex heard the intruder
trying to gain entry and she fled from the closet, picking up a fireplace poker
and raising it above he head. Slowly,
she made her way down the stairs. Her
eyes were transfixed to the front door.
She could see the shadowy figure standing on the porch.
“Who’s there?” she called from the
“Alex, open up. It’s Jordan.”
“Finally,” she uttered, unlocking
the door and pulling him inside. “What
took you so long? Did you see anyone
outside?” She peered cautiously through
the window at the front yard.
“Did you see whoever it was that was
trying to break in?” she asked. “You
must have scared him off.”
“What?” Jordan asked with a frown. “I thought I was coming over to…”
“What?” Alex asked.
“I thought you wanted to….you know,
Rolling her eyes, Alex stalked
across the room and poured herself a drink.
“Are you out of your mind?” she asked.
“Do you think I would call you over here at this hour for a bootie
call? Is your head screwed on
straight? Never mind, don’t answer
“Well what do you want?” Jordan demanded
angrily, and a little put off. “I could
barely understand you when you called me.
You were using that husky, whispery sex kitten voice you do.”
“I was trying to keep my voice
down,” she insisted. “Someone was
breaking into my house and I didn’t want them to hear me.”
Jordan stepped toward her and sensed
that she was being straight with him.
“You’re terrified,” he said.
“Alex, if someone is-“
His sentence was cut short when the
sound of tires squealing reverberated through the house. They looked at one another in a panic and Jordan dashed
to the patio door, sliding it open and darting onto the terrace. He gazed across the side yard and saw a dark
sedan speeding away onto the main road.
“Who was it?” Alex asked, her heart
He shook his head, examining the
door with a frown. “I don’t know. It was too dark to tell.”
“What are you looking at?”
Jordan bent down and inspected the
lock. “This has been tampered with,” he
said, then gave her a look of concern.
“Someone jimmied it open. Looks
like they used a screwdriver or something.”
Alex gazed at the door with a sense
of dread. She had been right. Seth had been there. He would have killed her if Jordan hadn’t
scared him off.
“Jordan, I’m scared,” she said and
ran to him, throwing her arms tight around his body.
“Who would want to hurt you?” Jordan asked as
he held her in his strong arms.
She shook her head, feigning
ignorance. She knew she couldn’t tell
him the truth. If he knew what kind of
trouble she’d gotten herself into with Seth Walker he would think even lower of
her than he already did.
“I’ll stay with you tonight,” he
said and looked into her frightened eyes.
Alex nodded, enveloping herself in
his masculine embrace. Somehow with
everything going on - the murders and the uncertainty surrounding her own
safety - she felt totally and completely at ease in Jordan’s arms.
block up the road, Seth stopped his car and looked back
at Alex's house through the rear window.
you sure?” James asked Stormy and Eddie the next morning when they came to tell
him what they’d found in Costa Mesa.
nodded. They were standing in the
library at the Blackthorne mansion.
Leigh was there, her heart pounding inside her chest, terrified that her
name had come up somewhere in the paperwork they’d found in the trailer at the
trucks are transporting weapons,” Eddie confirmed. “Some heavy stuff, too. We’re not just talking handguns. This is full-on assault arsenal.”
would Stratotech be selling arms to Panama?” Leigh
“Money, what else,”
James replied. “He’s supplying them with
enough weaponry to build an army.
They’ll use it for terrorism, intimidation against its enemies, you name
it. They’ll pay whatever it takes. The
point is it’s totally illegal. If the
government found out what they’re doing, there’d be hell to pay.”
must have found out about it,” Stormy declared.
“That’s why she sent that map to Renee.”
clutched her throat, fearing that her lie would soon be exposed. If James knew she was in on it, and involved
now?” Eddie asked.
rubbed the sides of his head. “I’m not
sure. But keep this under wraps for now
until I decide what to do. One thing is
for sure, we've finally got an advantage over these people."
Brett walked into
Seth’s office, closed the door, and unveiled a smile that instilled panic in
the depths of Seth’s body. He’d known
enough con men to realize he was not about to be approached with any form of
a good day?” Brett asked, a manila envelope tucked beneath his arm.
had better. What’s up?” Seth found himself studying Brett’s
eyes. What was he up to now?
sat down across from him and half-crossed his legs. “I’ve been thinking about our arrangement,”
he began. “Since Logan
took that unfortunate spill on the highway, that frees up quite a bit of the
proceeds from Costa Mesa.”
feel terrible about what happened to Logan. The fact that his share of the company goes
to me is a bittersweet gain.”
sure,” Brett mused. “You know, it’s
convenient that the police can’t come up with any evidence that Logan’s brakes were
tampered with. Convenient for you.”
you’re suggesting that I-“
saw you that day, remember? You walked
in here jumping out of your skin, out of breath and flustered. You had engine grease on your arm. You said it was from your garage.
And your office was a disaster area. Could
that have been because you and Logan got physical over
“I don’t have to explain myself
to you,” Seth began.
sighed and opened the envelope. “Luckily
– or maybe unluckily for you, depending
on how you look at it – one of your other bits of handiwork wasn’t so well
covered up.” He withdrew several large
color photos and dropped them onto the desk.
picked up the pictures and stared in defeat.
The tell-tale photos were of him entering and leaving Adrienne
Fallmont’s house – a date and time stamp clearly imposed on the bottom
corner. The date and time of Adrienne’s
“I printed those
from the security tape you took from Adrienne’s house,” Brett announced. “Right after you killed her.”
“How did you-“ Seth
“I went to Logan Mackenzie’s
office,” Brett explained. “I told them
I was his brother and came by to collect his personal effects. The security tape was taped to the bottom of
his desk. You
argued over the tape that morning in your office, didn't
you? He was blackmailing you with it. I
guess you missed it when
you did your clean-sweep of the place after you killed him.”
Angry, Seth stood
up and walked around the side of the desk, stopping only when he was a few
threatening inches from Brett. “You
don’t know what you’re getting yourself into,” he said through clenched teeth. “This is too big for you and your low-rent
“I know enough to
know that you won’t risk your freedom for even all the money in the world. You’re probably willing to make any bargain
you have to about now.”
Seth slammed his
fist on the desk in resignation. He
turned and gazed out the window. “What
do you want?”
Brett replied simply.
Seth let out a
silent groan, realizing he had to silence Brett once and for all. No way was he going to part with half of his
earnings from this deal.
“And before you get
any ideas,” Brett continued, “I have the original security tape in a safe
place. If anything happens to me – if
the breaks go out on my car, or the gas gets left on in my apartment – that
tape will go to the police.”
Seth now realized
he had underestimated his opponent. He
was trapped. Suddenly hiring Brett
Armstrong and his PR man seemed like the worst idea he’d ever had.
Jordan left that morning, Alex wandered the first floor of
her eyes darting back and forth as she secured the doors and windows. She knew that he would come back
again. Seth been there the night
before but luckily Jordan
had scared him away. Tonight she may not
be so lucky.
Pounding on the
door sent her heart racing.
Apprehensively, she approached, grabbing an ice pick from the bartop and
brandishing it in her path. She reached
for the knob, turning it slowly and peering outside.
A figure in a
trench coat loomed before her. She
opened her mouth to scream but the sounds would not come. Raising the icepick threateningly, she
started to bring it down to her attacker when his hand clasped around her arm
and forced the weapon to the floor.
“What the hell is
wrong with you?” James yelled and restrained her from attacking him.
Once she realized
who it was, Alex relaxed, stepping back and calming her erratic breathing.
“James, you scared
me to death,” she said in bated breath.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to talk to
you,” he said and entered the house.
“Who did you think it was?”
She shrugged, her
guilt showing through. “You can never be
too careful,” she said.
He shook his head
indifferently and led her into the living room.
“I know whatever is going on with you must take presidence over
Blackthorne-Reynolds, but there’s something I have to ask you. It’s important.”
“What is it?” she
asked and lit a cigarette.
dollars has gone missing from an account,” James began. “Do you have any idea what happened to it?”
She turned away in
an effort to avoid eye contact. He
couldn’t tell she was lying if she didn’t look at him. She knew that from when they were
“I have no idea,”
James regarded her
carefully. He turned her toward him and
looked into her frightened eyes. “Alex,
I don’t believe you,” he said. “Those
books have been doctored. What are you
She pulled away and
rushed across the room. Tears threatened
to explode. She stubbed out her
cigarette in a crystal ash tray and wrapped her arms around herself. “I wish I could tell you, but it’s too late.”
“Too late?” he
demanded. “Alex, if you’ve been
embezzling money, I need to know about it.”
embezzle!” she insisted. “I…I thought it
was a good idea at the time but….I was wrong!
I made a mistake! I shouldn’t
have trusted him!”
She finally turned
to him, realizing she had no choice but to come clean. It was the only way to end her sleepless
nights and her constant paranoia. Maybe
James would know what to do.
“I know you’ve been
trying to find out who owns Stratotech,”
“Do you know who
owns it?” James asked. “What does this
have to do with the missing ten million dollars?”
She swallowed and
forced herself to admit the truth. “We own Stratotech. It’s our company. I used the ten million dollars to create it
as an offshoot of Blackthorne-Reynolds.”
wondering if he heard her correctly. He
was at a loss for words. He began
pacing the room, racking his brain to try to understand what she was telling
“How on earth did
you get involved in this?” he finally asked.
“What even made you think of doing something like this?”
“It wasn’t my
idea!” she cried. “It was his idea!”
“Seth Walker!” she
lamented and threw herself dramatically onto the sofa in a fit of tears.
“Walker?” James asked. “What does he have to do with this?”
“He came to me with
the idea. He said we could go into
business together. He said there was an
oil field under Costa Mesa
and that we’d be millionaires a hundred times over.”
What was this
all about? How could you be so stupid?
You'd risk yourself for money? That doesn't
sound like you. Power, yes. Love, maybe.
But not money.”
Alex sat up and
glared at him menacingly. “It wasn’t
just the money, James. It was the
independence! I got sick of you and
Renee excluding me from the business so I wanted to branch out on my own!”
“So this is my
“You were the one
who asked her to come into the business, not me! If it wasn’t for her things would have been
shook his head in frustration. “And
closed her eyes and swallowed hard. “I
think he killed her because she found out they were going to ship oil to Panama.
his geologist died in a car accident and it looked like he killed him too,”
Alex blurted out. “And I confronted him
about it and now I think he’s after me.”
you? You’re his partner for God’s sake!”
was Adrienne!” Alex shrieked.
rubbed the sides of his head, pacing back and forth to clear his mind. He stopped and looked at her
point-blank. “I have news for you, Alex,”
he began. “It isn’t oil Seth Walker
plans on shipping to Panama. It’s illegal arms. Weapons.
Automatic rifles, grenades, you
Alex asked and clutched her chest. “But
Seth got a drilling variance. Why would he-“
a cover. Costa Mesa is a cover. He applied for
drilling permits so the government wouldn’t suspect anything was going on
there. It’s a base for arms
dealing. And since Stratotech is owned by Blackthorne-Reynolds,
you’ve successful given him the opportunity to drop the entire thing in our
laps if it goes bust.”
I had no idea!” Alex insisted. “James,
you’ve got to believe me! I didn’t know
about any of this, or else I would never have gotten involved!”
you are involved. And so are Renee and I. Seth set it up so that we’re the ones who
will take the fall for exporting arms to an embargoed nation. And believe me, when that happens, you’ll
wish he had killed you.”
covered her mouth with her hands and turned, horrified by the reality of what
she’d gotten them into.
Leigh comes clean. Seth
struggles to cover for himself. James, Alex and
Renee formulate a dangerous plan. The Filmmaker
Awards arrive with the usual drama.