feared that Seth was going to kill her, so she locked
herself inside her house. Terrified, she called
Jordan who discovered the lock had been tampered with.
He spent the night when he realized how terrified
she was. Seth warned Leigh and Kenny to keep quiet
about what they knew about Stratotech. Stormy
confronted Brett about his involvement with Stratotech,
becoming distracted upon learning of his marriage to
Heather. Meanwhile, Miranda learned of the marriage
and admitted she was concerned for her step-sister's
well-being. Brett found the surveilance videotape
of Adrienne's house the day of her murder
in Logan Mackenzie's belongings, and blackmailed Seth
into giving him fifty percent of the money made from
Costa Mesa. Begrudgingly, Seth agreed. Leigh
tried to get James to leave town with her, but he declined,
then admitted that he was in love with her. Stormy
and Eddie broke into the office trailer at Costa Mesa
and learned that Stratotech was selling arms
to Panama, not oil. Kenny revealed a discrepancy
in the books at Blackthorne-Reynolds, prompting
James to confront Alex, who admitted she had used it
to buy the land at Costa Mesa. James blasted her
for her involvement, then revealed to a startled Alex
the truth about what Seth Walker was doing.
You Forgive Her?"
Taylor-Blackthorne was in turmoil. She was free of James and his anarchy, free
of the love that she convinced herself she had for him for two years, and free
of the lies about her son Michael. On
top of that, she was also finally free to be with Ethan after a long
separation. They’d shared a connection
since before she and James were even married.
The secret glances, the stolen moments of intimacy, and a romantic
rendezvous in the Caribbean where their son
was conceived. Yes, she now could live
the life that she was supposed to. The
only problem was, she didn’t know what that was. Since she and Ethan had reunited, she
struggled to regain that passion that she once felt for him. While he was the same man as he always was –
loving, caring, intelligent, strong, handsome, and an exceptional lover – part
of her didn’t know how to carry on with him without the drama and without the constant
During a weekend in
Crystal Lake they got close – almost as close as
they were that glorious night in the Caribbean. But since returning it had been much the
same. He pressured her for a commitment
and she found excuse after excuse to put him off. Her gut told her that wasn’t a good sign. But
they were supposed to be together, weren't they?
“I already told
you. I don’t think it’s right that I move
into your house. Michael is confused
“Michael’s only two
years old. I doubt very much that any of
this is going to scar him for life,” Ethan said, pacing back and forth before
the fireplace in Brooke’s suite at Hotel
Terranova. “And might I remind you
that Michael is my son. What’s so
confusing about a boy living with his mother and father in the same
house? It isn’t like I’m asking you to
marry me for God’s sake.”
“What does that
supposed to mean?” Brooke asked and bounced Michael in her arms while he fussed
about this way and that. “You say it
like us getting married is such a ridiculous idea. My divorce from James will be final in three
Ethan ran his
fingers through his thick brown hair and pushed up the sleeves on his
shirt. “You can’t even say that you love
me, Brooke. It’s obvious you’re not
ready to think about marriage again. At
the very least I thought we could live together until you were.”
“I’m not saying
it’ll never happen. This just isn’t the
He ran his fingers
along the top of the bar, staring at his reflection in the mirrored service
tray. “It’s hasn’t been the right time
for two years. You married James knowing
the way you felt about me, not once but twice. Well now you’re free. You can be with anyone you want. Now tell me, Brooke. Who do you want to be with now?”
She looked at him
blankly. Of course she wanted to be with
him. Didn’t she? She was the mother of his child. They had history together. They had chemistry.
asked. He got the feeling that she was
someplace else. When she didn’t
respond, he shook his head in frustration and kissed Michael on the cheek
before heading to the door.
“Wait. Where are you going?” Brooke asked.
“Home,” was his
parting shot before leaving and closing the door behind.
Brooke set Michael
in his crib and buried her face in her hands.
Yes, she and Ethan had history and they had chemistry. But if that were all true, why did she feel
further from him than she ever had before?
made her way through the lobby and entered the lounge. She ordered a glass of wine at the bar and
took a seat just as Miranda approached with a grin and a carefree kick in her
“I hope that you’re
not planning on spending the evening alone,” she said and sat down
across from her.
A forced smile
spread across Leigh’s face as she took a sip from her glass of chardonnay and tapped her
fingernails on the table top. “Would
that be so wrong?” she asked.
“When my father is
at home by himself, then yes it is.”
Miranda regarded her carefully and patted her hand. “You know, I think you’re the best thing
that’s happened to him in a long time.”
She nodded. “I do.
After that disaster with Brooke, it’s nice to finally see him happy for
once. I think he really feels something
for you, Leigh, and I couldn’t be happier for both of you.”
“Your father’s a
very special man,” Leigh said distantly.
“I love spending time with him.”
sensed sadness in her voice and in her eyes.
“Then why aren’t you with him now?”
realized that hers was a complicated question.
To break it down was simple. The
closer she got to James, the worse she felt about herself. Her alliance with Seth Walker could easily be
James’ downfall. When he learned the
truth he would never forgive her. But
why she continued to see him, yet said nothing about the danger they were all
in was not so simple. Her feelings were
confusing. She was selfish. She wanted to pretend there was nothing
standing in their way of being happy.
quickly shook the paranoid thoughts away and forced another smile. “Your father’s got a lot going on right
now. Business. I thought I’d give him the night off.” She quickly changed the subject to avoid
further awkwardness. “What about
you? I hear you’re getting pretty close
to David Jennings. He’s such a catch.”
gushed happily. “Yes, he is,” she
said. “We’re meeting a little later this
evening. Dinner and dancing. Oh, by the way, Daddy tells me you’re going
as his date to the Filmmaker Awards
tomorrow night. Maybe David and I will
join you if you don’t mind. We could
perfect,” Leigh replied. She only hoped
that she and James would make it that long.
At that moment he was strategizing with his partners on how to handle
Seth and Stratotech. The truth was out. And it was only a matter of time before that
truth included her involvement.
slap came fast and without warning. Alex
reached her hand to her cheek instinctively, glaring heatedly at Renee who
stood before her, her hands planted firmly on her hips.
dare you,” Alex seethed, reeling from Renee’s assault.
dare you put us and our company in
jeopardy,” Renee spat. “What the hell is
going on in that head of yours? Or is
the soundtrack from Fame playing too
loudly in there for you to think?”
you hadn’t tried pushing me out of the business then none of this would have
happened,” Alex insisted. “Besides, I’m
just as much a victim as you and James. Seth came to me, not the other way around.
And he said nothing about selling arms to Panama. I thought we were drilling for oil. You can’t begrudge me for wanting to expand
on the business.”
can when you did it at the expense of Blackthorne-Reynolds. You defrauded us, Alex. This is a partnership, and James and I had no
idea that you were using funds from the company to start up your own terrorist
does it,” Alex said and charged toward her.
it off,” James ordered, standing between them and pushing them apart. “Throwing blame around isn’t going to help us
out of this mess. Now we’ve got a
serious problem. If Seth makes that
first shipment of illegal weapons to Panama, we’re as good as ruined.”
how do you suppose we stop it?” Renee asked sarcastically. “You heard Alex. Two people are dead because they knew
what. If we march into his office and
tell him to stop the shipment he won’t hesitate to kill us too.”
know, why don’t we just send you in there to do it for us?” Alex said
with a snarl.
you enjoy the prospect of going to prison again?” Renee shot back. “Because I have no problem leaving you to
twist in the wind."
James insisted, tired and aggravated. “This isn’t helping any of us. Now I have a plan, but I need the two of you
to cooperate in order for it to work.”
do you have in mind?” Alex asked.
looked at them and picked up the phone.
“Remember how we tricked Nathan with the jets?” he asked as he dialed
the phone. “It's
the same principal, only this
time we’re dealing with weapons instead of a child molesting pervert.”
still think the weapons are less dangerous,” Alex murmured as she gave him and
Renee a thoughtful look. “So what are
we supposed to do? I can’t go on acting
like everything is fine.”
exactly what you have to do,” James said.
“Go to the Filmmaker Awards
tomorrow night. Don’t let on that
anything is up. There’s no telling what
Seth might do once he finds out what I’ve got planned.”
laughed and flopped down on the bed in a pair of lacy pink bikinis and a
matching bra. Brett climbed on after her
and kissed her tenderly on the lips.
love you,” he said and stroked her hair away from her face. “I really do.”
Heather traced her finger along his washboard stomach, exploring the defined
ridges of his muscular body. “Good,” she
said and exploded into a fit of giggles when he climbed on top of her and held
her tightly in his arms.
going to make such a perfect like for us, Heather,” he said softly. “And I’m going to do it on my own. Without your father’s help and without the
help of the Blackthornes. We’re going to
be so happy. Wait and see.”
know,” she said and kissed him passionately.
slowly undressed her, taking his time as he felt himself growing aroused by her
intoxicating scent. He loved the way she
smelled after she took a bath. So soft
and so feminine.
Yes, he was on top
of the world. And after he got the fifty
percent of the profits from Stratotech, they’d be the most recognizable couple
in all of California. Happy, wealthy beyond their wildest dreams,
and perfectly in love.
After their refusal
to move into the mansion, Alex and Renee got her very own bodyguards, courtesy
of James. While Alex half expected Kevin
Costner, she was a bit disappointed when it turned out to be a burly man in his late fifties doused in
cologne and too many gold chains around his neck.
When she arrived at
her door, Jordan
was waiting. The bodyguard, Cliff,
roughed him up sufficiently until Alex protested and declared his innocence.
“What’s with the
walking meat locker?” Jordan
asked with a frown while Cliff unlocked the door and inspected the house before
signaling the all-clear.
protection,” Alex replied, wanting to forego the long explanations. Jordan didn’t need to know the
trouble she’d gotten herself into. It
was bad enough that James and Renee thought she was an incompetent. She didn’t need Jordan to as well.
“Does this have
anything to do with the other night?” he asked and followed her into the living
room. “Alex, is somebody after you? Is that what this is all about? Please, you have to tell me. I want to know.”
“I don’t need you to
protect me,” she insisted and lit a cigarette.
“I am not Renee DeWitt. I don’t
need a man to chase away all the bad things in my life. Now what are you doing here, Jordan?”
He looked awkwardly
at the bodyguard and then back a Alex.
“It’s kind of private,” he said.
“Can we be alone for a minute?”
She looked at Cliff
and gave him a nod, signaling him to leave the room. After he’d gone, she turned back to Jordan and
shrugged. “So what is this about?”
He sighed. “It would be a lot easier if you weren’t in
such a hurry to get rid of me. I thought
we were getting close again. You called
me over here the other night and things seemed to be like they used to be.”
“Just because we
made love doesn’t mean things were like they used to be,” Alex said and poured
herself a glass of brandy. “We’ve made
love a lot since we divorced and we’re still divorced. Besides, I haven’t forgiven you for taking up
with Renee and then acting like you were doing me a favor by coming back to
“Alex, would you
just stop it,” he said. “I’m trying to
say something here.”
She let her guard
down, looking into his eyes and fighting to keep from growing weak in the
knees. He still had that affect on
“I came here
tonight because I…” He paused, reaching
into his blazer and removing a small velvet box. “I wanted to ask you to marry me again.”
The innocence in
his eyes went straight to her heart. She
gazed down at the magnifiscent ring, overwhelmed with emotion. She thought it was even bigger than the first
one he gave her.
“Jordan, I-“ she began. “I don’t know what to say.”
“I know it’s
sudden,” he said. “Our marriage didn’t
work the first time. I didn’t trust
you. It was partly my fault. But I still love you, Alex. I never stopped. We belong together.”
The truth was she
wanted nothing more than to be married to him again. She never even wanted the divorce in the
first place. But things right now were
too complicated. This business with Seth
and Stratotech. James and Renee were
furious with her. She didn’t think she
could take on anything more.
“What do you say?”
he continued, taking her hand in his. “I
know you love me as much as I love you.”
She looked at the
ring and then back at him. “Ask me again
sometime,” she said softly. “But right
now I can’t give you an answer, Jordan. I’m sorry.”
He nodded solemnly,
slowly closing the ring box and placing it back in his pocket. “Sure,” he said before turning and walking
back to the door.
“Jordan-“ she called after him. But he closed the door behind, leaving her
alone with the guilt over breaking his heart.
Sighing in despair,
she turned and walked to the terrace doors, taking in a breath of fresh ocean
air. Why did it have to be so difficult,
she thought to herself. Why couldn’t Jordan have
asked her months ago before any of this happened?
Brooke left Michael
with the nanny and went downstairs to the lounge to have a drink and to calm
her nerves. Her blowout with Ethan was
enough to ruin an otherwise mediocre day.
She didn’t know why he pushed so hard.
Didn’t he know that she was trying as best as she could?
“Care for some
company?” asked a voice from behind her.
She turned and
spotted David hanging back with a boyish grin and his hands dug deep in his
pockets. A brief shake of her head and a
vague smile before she turned back to her drink. “I’d actually like to be alone if you don’t
mind,” she said.
persisted. He approached and sat down
“Look, I don’t know
if you’re hard of hearing or you just don’t know how to take a hint, but I
don’t want any company,” Brooke snapped, her voice full of hostility. “And this stalking routine of yours is getting
a little old.”
David raised an
eyebrow, surprised by her sudden outburst.
He started to get up again when Brooke reached her hand out and pulled
at his arm.
“I’m sorry,” she
said. “I didn’t mean to snap. It’s just been one of those days.”
David sat back down
and looked at her warily. “I’m a pretty
good listener,” he said with a shrug.
“Feel free to unload on me all you want.”
Brooke offered a
faint smile, pushing her wine glass back and forth on the table by the
stem. “I think I’ll pass,” she
said. “I don’t know you that well and
I’m afraid you’d think I was crazy if I told you.”
chuckled. “Sometimes what we feel inside
is much worse than others perception of it.”
He tilted his head and regarded her carefully. “Try me.’
Sighing, she took a
sip of her wine and traced a finger along the bar top. “Relationships,” she said enigmatically and
turned to him. “They’re not easy, are
He scratched his
head and creased his eyebrows together in an exaggerated look of
concentration. “Relationships. Hmm, let’s see. Well, I’ve blown my way through about a
dozen a year since I graduated college and they’ve all ended badly. Some my fault, some theirs. I think I’m probably the last person on earth
you’d want to get advice from on that front.”
help but smile. “I told you,” she said and
turned back to her drink. “What about
Miranda? How’s that going?”
Miranda. David had almost forgotten about their
date. He looked briefly at his
watch. “I’m sorry. I have to make a phone call. Would you excuse me for a minute?”
nodded and watched as he made his way through the lounge and then disappeared
around he corner. Once
he was safely out of view, he reached into his pocket and removed his cell
phone. He quickly dialed, nervously
jiggling his keys in his pocket while he waited for an answer.
thought you were picking me up at eight,” Miranda said from her bedroom at the
mansion. “Or did I get my wires crossed? Was I supposed to meet you at the
bit his lip and shook his head guiltily.
“No, no, you didn’t get your wires crossed. But listen, something’s come up and I can’t
make it tonight. I’m sorry.”
didn’t bother to hide her disappointment.
Standing before her dressing mirror in a sprayed-on black dress, she
dropped her free hand to her side and began pacing in aggravation. “What’s
so important that you have to cancel?” she demanded. “David, I’m already ready to go.”
sorry,” he said again. “It’s just that a
problem with one of the hotels has come up and apparently no one can handle it
but me. I promise I’ll make it up to
you. We’re still on for the Filmmaker Awards tomorrow night, right?”
her lips in anger, Miranda rolled her eyes and kicked her shoes off in a
huff. “Right, whatever,” she said,
clicked off her phone and threw it carelessly onto the bed.
pocketed his phone and made his way back to the lounge where Brooke was
collecting her purse and heading for the door.
He quickly approached and flashed a toothy grin in her direction. “Sorry
about that,” he said. “You aren’t
leaving already are you?”
shrugged indifferently. “I need to get
back. I just came down for half an hour
of adult time. My son is up with his
nanny. I’d like to kiss him goodnight
before he goes to bed.”
David put his hands in his pockets. “Why don’t I come up?” he asked. “We could finish talking. Adult time doesn’t have to end just because
you’re going upstairs.”
knew it was a bad idea. Her attraction
to him was a powerful thing, and could lead to even more confusion if she spent
time alone with him. Even
still, twenty minutes later they were upstairs, Brooke had tucked Michael in
and sent the nanny to her room, and she and David were sharing a glass of wine
in front of the fire.
something I’ve got to ask you,” she said and tossed her long blond hair over a
shoulder. “Did you really see me at the
makeup counter at the department store three years ago? Or was that just a
smiled vaguely and grew into a daze, his vision blurred while he stared into
the bright glow of the fire. “No, it
wasn’t a line,” he replied. “I did meet
you at the makeup counter.”
nodded slowly. “Oh. Well, I’m sorry that I don’t remember. I don’t mean to sound immodest, but is it
possible that it meant more to you than it did to me?” She covered the awkwardness with a laugh.
it did mean more to me,” he explained.
“I thought you were someone else.
Someone that I knew a long time ago.
That’s why when I saw you again that day at the police station I
remembered the makeup counter.”
did you think I was?”
girl I knew,” David replied. “She was a
local girl up in Big Bear. Every summer
my family would go there and she would always come around. She was young, just a little girl, probably
ten years younger than me. Everyone
called her Babydoll. And before you go
there, there wasn’t anything sick going on, so don’t even think it. She was just a sweet, vibrant little girl who
was full of life and laughter. Blond
hair and pigtails and blue eyes. When I
saw you you reminded me so much of her.
It took me back, that’s all.”
looked into his eyes and for the first time since meeting him she saw something
other than the cocky, arrogant guy with deceptive good looks and a killer
smile. His honestly was refreshing, and
she hated herself for feeling attracted to him.
you for telling me,” she said. “It
certainly makes you sound like less of a psycho.”
grinned and nudged her playfully.
whatever happened to her?” Brooke asked.
don’t know. Her family moved away. She’s probably out there somewhere spreading
sunshine with that smile of hers.”
working at a makeup counter in the Valley?” Brooke joked.
David said. “You reminded me of her, but
now not so much.”
do you mean?” Brooke asked.
shrugged. “You seemed so happy back
then. Now you seem sad. I guess it goes to show that money doesn’t
the truth,” Brooke said thoughtfully.
Now it was her turn to stare into the fire. Before she knew it, David was inches away, his lips brushing tenderly against hers.
For a second, she found herself kissing him back. Butterflies tripped through her stomach and
she closed her eyes briefly. Seconds
later she opened them again and pulled away in protest.
sorry. You should go.”
didn’t mean to confuse you,” David said.
shook her head and went to the door.
“Kissing you isn’t quite enough to confuse me, David, but please, if
that makes you feel good and if that makes you feel like a man, then be my
guest, think it all you want.”
I meant was that I know you have a lot going on right now and I don’t want to
add to that,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
he’d left, Brooke shut the door and buried he face in her hands. She was crawling out of her skin with
frustration. How could she be having
these feelings for a man who wasn’t Ethan?
next morning, all of Hollywood
was busy with preparations for the 35th Annual Filmmaker Awards. Gowns were
undergoing their final stages of fitting, tuxedos were being pressed, and
diamonds were being bought by the truckload. The
guest list was in the hundreds. Actors,
actresses, directors, producers, writers, even politicians would all be
arriving that evening at the Los Angeles Theater.
one of the lucky invitees, Congressman Seth Walker was determined to get a few
things nailed down before attending the gala festivities. For starters, the first shipment of weapons
As soon as the freight reached its
destination in Central America, the money would be wired into his offshore
account in the Cayman Islands. And he needed to make sure it went off
without a hitch. With everyone who had
knowledge of his operation – Alex, Leigh, Kenny, and Brett – it could very well
be his only transaction. After the load
was delivered, he would leave town, millions of dollars richer. His partners would be left with nothing, and Blackthorne-Reynolds would assume
was on the phone with his foreman in Costa
Mesa checking on the status of the truck. It had left
the site last night. All his planning was finally going to pay
off. Once everything was set, he hung up
and leaned back in his chair. Finally he
was able to breath, to relax with the knowledge that nothing could stop him. His
elation was interrupted when the door opened and Marilee entered with a
I’m just on my way to pick up my gown for tonight,” she said and approached him
swiftly. Perched on the corner of his
desk, she massaged his shoulders and purred seductively. “Are you sure you like the black one I showed
you? It’s not too busty is it?”
grinned. “The black one is fine,” he
said. “No one will be able to take their
eyes off of you.” And maybe you’ll find your next husband for when I’m gone, he
thought to himself.
pulled her down onto his lap, aroused by the fact that she wasn’t wearing
underwear. Quickly, he unzipped his
trousers and took her passionately in his office chair. Money was such a turn-on, he though to
phone rang and he groaned with irritation.
It could be important, he thought.
He reached over and pulled it from its cradle, balancing it on his
shoulder while Marilee ground herself into his lap.
“Walker,” he answered abruptly. It was his contact in Panama. The connection was lousy but he got the gist
loud and clear. “What? That’s impossible.” Quickly, he pushed Marilee off his lap and
zipped his pants up. A close call with
the zipper caused him to break into a sweat.
what is it?” Marilee asked and smoothed down her dress.
held his hand up in an effort to silence her.
“Babe, I have to take this call.
I’ll see you tonight, okay?”
frowned, unsure of what had gotten him so upset all the sudden. Reluctantly, she grabbed her purse and went
out into the hall. After she’d gone,
Seth returned his attention to the phone and began pacing the office.
do you mean the truck was empty?” he asked.
“I just talked to my foreman and he assured me that the load went out on
schedule. All the freight was on board
when it left Costa Mesa last night.”
ran his fingers through his hair. His
heart beat wildly in his chest and he felt as though he would pass out from
sheer panic. “I’m
not trying to pull anything over on you!” he insisted. “If the truck was empty when it got there
then….” He paused. “Well how do I know that you didn’t unload
the truck and just say that it was empty?”
accusations didn’t go over well.
I understand. I’ll find out what
happened and get right back to you. I’m
sure it’s just some kind of misunderstanding.”
up the phone, he paused briefly while he mentally surveyed the damage this
could cost him. It was
insurmountable. He began pacing again,
growing more and more distraught as each second passed. Finally, he pulled the phone from the wall
and threw it across the room in a rage.
and Miranda were sitting in the solarium later that morning having breakfast
when Leilani entered and poured them each a fresh cup of coffee. He looked at her and noticed that she seemed
somewhat distracted. Folding the
newspaper and setting it on the table, he turned to her and cleared his throat.
how are things going with your daughter?”
turned to him and her eyes welled up with tears. “Not so good, Mr. Blackthorne. She’s refused to go back to her fiancée. She won’t go to college and she can’t get a
good job. I’m afraid of what will happen to
I’m so sorry,” Miranda said sympathetically.
sniffed and bowed her head down in despair.
“I may have to go back to Hawaii
for a while,” she announced. “I was
going to tell you after tonight. I know
how busy you are, Mr. Blackthorne.”
how long are you thinking, Leilani?” James asked in concern.
don’t know. A few months maybe.”
we can’t be without you for a few months,” Miranda insisted. “This house will fall apart.”
Leilani has a family to think about. We
can’t be selfish with her.”
okay, Mr. Blackthorne. Miss Miranda is
nice to say. But I think it’s best if I
go back. Just to get Kelly straightened
thought for a minute and took a sip of coffee.
“Listen, why not have Kelly come here to Los Angeles?” he asked. “We have plenty of room in the house. That way you can be close to her and you
don’t have to leave. What do you say?"
don’t know,” Leilani replied. “Kelly has
off the island.”
on, Leilani,” Miranda said. “It might be
nice to have a girl my age around the house again. Since Heather left it’s just been me and
Stormy and frankly he’s no substitute for a girlfriend.”
settled then,” James said. “Leilani,
call your daughter and I’ll make the arrangements.”
couldn’t help but overflow with gratitude.
She bent down and gave James a quick squeeze. “Oh, thank you, Mr. Blackthorne. This is so nice of you. I’ll go call Kelly right now.”
fled from the room and James and Miranda exchanged amused glances.
where is Stormy anyway?” Miranda asked with a frown. “He’s usually the first one down for
breakfast. Come to think of it, I
haven’t seen him since yesterday."
expertly avoided her question. “I don’t
pretend to know what your brother does these days, Miranda,” he said and took a
sip of coffee.
After picking up
her dress for the Filmmaker Awards,
Leigh returned to her suite at Hotel
Terranova. Tossing the garment bag
over the back of a chair, she proceeded into her bedroom and sat down at the
vanity. She stared at her reflection in
the mirror, slathering her hands in lotion while quiet reflecting on the
upcoming evening’s events.
the closet door creaked open and her eyes shot up. Through the mirror she saw Seth emerge, a
taut expression on his pale face. She
shot to her feet, backing up from him as her eyes moved back and forth for
something to defend herself with.
did you get in here?” she asked, her voice cracking with fear.
always were too concerned about details,” Seth replied ambiguously. “We have a problem, Leigh. Your boyfriend is making trouble for me. It seems the truck that went out last
is empty and the real cargo has gone missing.”
does that have to do with James?” Leigh asked.
She swallowed hard, afraid for James and what he had been up to. The last thing she wanted was for him to do
anything that would get himself hurt, or worse.
devotion to him is overwhelming,” Seth continued, staring at her and
approaching with wide eyes. He leapt
forward and grabbed her forcefully, moving with the speed and agility of a
panther. “Not to mention stupid.”
screamed out in terror, flinching and her eyes fluttering as she feared what he
was going to do to her.
see, Blackthorne thinks he’s got me stonewalled. As long as that shipment stays hidden he's
in the clear. But what he
doesn’t realize is that I don’t have much to lose. I’ve killed before and I will do it again if
I have to. Now you’ve got some work to
hurt me,” Leigh protested when he moved his hand slowly from her mouth. “Please don’t hurt me.”
smiled in amusement. “It’s not you I’ll hurt,” he said, relishing the
terror that was evident on her face.
“Now listen very carefully to me.
I want you to convince James to release that shipment. Tonight.
I don’t care how you do it.”
can’t,” she cried. “Why would he listen
to anything I have to say about it?”
tightened his grip on her. “You’re a
smart woman, Leigh. Make something
up. You’ve gotten pretty good at that by
now. But make no mistake, if you don’t get him to release that shipment,
James Blackthorne will be a dead man.”
that, he released her and she collapsed onto the chair at the vanity. Sobbing and gasping for breath, he watched as
he made his way to the door.
busy,” he said. “You have until tonight
to make this happen. If that shipment
doesn’t reach its destination, and my money isn’t wired into my account by the
time I leave tonight, your boyfriend's going to be shark bait.”
sucked in her tears, her eyes darting around the room. She knew Seth would follow through on his
threats. James’s life was in her hands. How on earth was she going to convince
him? He would see right through any lie
she came up with.
had gotten so out of hand. Why did James
have to get involved in the first place?
avoided the office that day. He didn’t
know what to expect from Seth after blackmailing him with the security tape of
Adrienne’s house. He was fairly
confident that he was safe. Seth was
careless but he wasn’t stupid. One move
against him and the tape would go to the authorities. Besides, with all the money he’d be coming
into soon, why did he need a job as a Congressman’s PR guy?
picked up his tuxedo and went back to the condo to surprise Heather with an
afternoon of together-time before the Filmmaker
awards that night. He wasn’t in the
business anymore, but most of the movies that Sunset Studios was nominated for were because of the work he did
while he was there. He wasn’t about to
he walked in the door, he scouted around for his wife. “Heather?” he called out, hanging his tux
over the bedroom door.
few seconds later, Heather emerged from the bathroom, her hands behind her
back. Brett could tell something was
up. He raised an eyebrow and pulled her toward
okay?” he asked. “You look like the cat
who swallowed the canary.”
shivered when he kissed her. “I wasn’t
feeling well this morning.”
I’m sorry,” he said and led her to the sofa.
“Do you want to skip the awards tonight? We can stay home and I’ll make you some
I want to go,” she said. “I feel better
now. It’s not that kind of sick anyway.”
frowned. “Well, what is it?”
she brought her hands from behind her back and held up a small white
stick. “I haven’t had my period lately,
and I felt nauseas this morning so I went down to the drugstore and got a
test. It’s positive.”
eyes widened in disbelief and he picked her up in his arms, twirling her around
and kissing her repeatedly. “We’re
having a baby?” he asked in elation, then repeated himself to make sure he was
“we’re having a baby?”
nodded happily and grabbed hold of his hand after he set her down. “Yes, we’re having a baby.”
he sat her back down on the sofa and knelt before her. “This is unbelievable. When did it happen? In Reno?”
shrugged. “Well I don’t know for sure,
but I think it happened before that. I
haven’t had my period for a couple of months.
I’ve always been irregular so I didn’t think anything of it.”
have made me the happiest man on earth," Brett
said and kissed her hand.
looked into his eyes, thrilled that he was so happy about the prospect of their
having a baby. She knew he would
be. She knew how important it was to
him, and she knew how devastated he’d been when Miranda had the
miscarriage. It seemed right that she
was carrying his baby now. Their lives
were finally coming together. Everything
entered the foyer at the mansion, dressed elegantly in a black sequin gown, her
auburn hair pinned delicately on top of her head. She smiled absently at Leilani who showed her
into the parlor room where James, Miranda and David were having cocktails.
there you are,” James said, dapper in his black tuxedo. He approached and kissed her warmly on the
cheek. “You look beautiful.”
love your dress, Leigh,” Miranda said, clutching to David’s arm. She was dressed in a simple but classy black
a-line dress, diamond earrings and a beaded bag. “You and Daddy are going to be the best
looking couple there tonight.”
best,” David said with a smirk.
Miranda gushed and kissed him lightly.
fidgeted nervously with her bag, trying her best to appear gracious and
social. She turned to James, pushing a
stray lock of hair from her eyes.
“James, I wondered if we could talk for a minute before we go. In private.”
course, Darling,” he said and led her across the hall to his study. Once they were inside, he closed the doors
and turned to her with a smile. “I bet I
can guess what this is about.”
can?” she asked, swallowing hard.
caressed her arm, inhaling the intoxicating scent that emanated from her. “I’ve been thinking about us too. And I want you to know that after this whole
mess with Walker is over with and we clear up
things in Costa Mesa,
I want to take that vacation with you.
We can go to Acapulco or Europe or wherever you want. Then when we get back, I’d like to you move
in with me. Here at the mansion.”
turned away, torn apart inside by his words.
How could she stand there and lie to him? She loved him more than anyone since losing
Roger years ago. And she returned the
favor by masquerading as an honest woman.
She couldn’t do it any longer.
you have to release that shipment,” she said, unable to look him in the eyes.
truckload of weapons that you commandeered last night. You have to release it and allow it to make
the trip to Central America. If you don’t, Seth will make things very
do you know about that? I haven’t told
you any of the details. The only ones
who know are Alex, Renee and Stormy.” A
pause while he moved before her and looked into her eyes. “Have you talked to Seth Walker?”
nodded, tears forming in her eyes. “Yes,
he means business, James. If you don’t
release that shipment, he’s going to do something awful. Please, just trust me.”
do trust you, Leigh. I just don’t
understand why you’re coming to me with this.
You know that I can’t let that shipment go through. The minute I do Blackthorne-Reynolds becomes
guilty of selling arms. Seth Walker
isn’t a threat. He won’t do anything to
risk the fortune he can make on this deal.”
turned away again. “James, I haven’t
been honest with you,” she said slowly.
“Our meeting in Rio was no
coincidence. I planned it.”
James asked and turned her toward him.
needed to find someone. A company to
utilize. Blackthorne-Reynolds was new and inexperienced. I overheard Alex and Renee arguing over
business and I knew that was the in we’d been looking for.”
he asked, slowly realizing what she was talking about.
and Seth. I’m a silent partner in
Stratotech. Bringing you and Alex into
the fold was my idea.” She took a breath
and hung her head low, ashamed after saying it aloud and realizing how selfish
and manipulative it sounded.
been in on this with Walker
all along?” he asked in disbelief. “You
knew about Costa Mesa
and the arms deal?”
ran his fingers through his hair, pacing the room in an effort to clear his
head. He stopped and looked at her
blindly. “And the murders? Adrienne and Mackenzie?”
had nothing to do with that!’ she exclaimed.
“It was Seth. He’s crazy with the
idea of all that money. It’s changed
him, James. The minute I suspected about
Adrienne and Logan I told him I wanted out, but he…he said that if I said
anything he’d kill me.”
whole thing was overwhelming to James.
Even more so than the business aspect of her betrayal, he had actually
grown to love her and to want a life with her. “What
about us?” he asked, hurt.
leapt to her own defense. “The way I
feel about you has nothing to do with anything else!” she exclaimed and raced
toward him. “You have to believe that,
James. That night we made love in Rio was like
an awakening for me. I fell in love with
you, and nothing about that is a lie.”
I’m supposed to believe you?’ he asked, looking at her with anger and
contempt. “You’ve put my business on
the line, risked the lives of people I care about, and now you tell me that I
should believe in your feelings for me?”
stood before him, quivering and humiliated.
“Fine, you can hate me all you want, James. But please listen to me. Seth will not stop until you release that
shipment. He said you have to do
or he’ll….” She paused. The last thing she wanted to do was use
Seth’s threats as a way to get to James, but she had to level with him, to tell
him what he was up against.
what?” James barked.
shook her head. “He’ll kill you. He will, believe me. You just don’t want to cross him, James. Seth Walker is a very dangerous man. Please.
If you don’t believe anything else I’ve said, believe that. Release the shipment.”
looked at her with disgust, turning back and looking out the window again. “Get out,” he said.
eyes flashed open in surprise by his reaction.
She knew he’d be angry, but to throw her out after
revealing Seth's plans was unexpected. “Please. I love you.”
didn’t respond, nor look at her. The
humiliation over her betrayal was too much.
she went to the door and opened it slowly.
Pausing, she glanced back at him and closed her eyes. She knew this would be the last time she’d
ever see him again. Once Seth learned
that she failed in her task, James was as good as dead. Unless...
that, she went out to the foyer and quietly slipped out the front door. Miranda and David heard the door closing and
emerged from the parlor room.
where’s Leigh?” she asked.
came out of the study and looked unhappily at the floor. “You two go on to the ceremony without
me. I’ll meet up with you later.”
Miranda began, but David held her back.
She watched her father walk miserably up the stairs. It took a lot to get him that upset, so she
knew it must have been something heartbreaking.
raced back to her suite at Hotel Terranova, her eyes flooding with tears as she
sped through traffic. She picked up her
cell phone and dialed with her trembling hand.
better have good news,” Seth said when he answered.
steadied her voice, pulling under the porte-cochere and stopping the car. “Can you meet me at my suite?” she
asked. “I’ll fill you in then.”
Seth agreed. Leigh climbed out of the
car and raced inside in her sequin gown, darted through the lobby and rode the
elevator up to her lavish penthouse suite.
When she got inside she was out of breath. She ran to the cedar chest in the bedroom and
bent down to her knees, pulling the lid open and rummaging through a stack of
blankets. There she removed a black
pistol. She opened the chamber, made
sure it was loaded, and snapped it shut again.
wasn’t about to let anyone hurt James.
He’d been hurt enough. She would
see Seth Walker dead first.
went up to check on James before she and David left for the awards
ceremony. She came up behind him in his
bedroom, placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled lovingly.
she began. “What happened? Did something happen with you and Leigh?”
sighed and shook his head. “It doesn’t
does matter. I saw the look on your face
when you came out of the study. Daddy,
you love her. I can see it in your eyes. Whatever happened between the two of you, is
it that important? Is it something that
you can talk over and work out somehow?”
don’t think so, Sweetheart.”
she turned and started back to the door.
Before she left, she turned back one last time. “I know you were hurt when Brooke left and
took Michael with her,” she began. “You
hid it but I know you were upset. You
had every right to be. But Leigh loves
you, Daddy. And I know you love her. So just go to her. Hold her in your arms and tell her that
there’s a chance. That’s probably all
she wants. That’s all any woman wants.”
turned just as she left. His daughter
may have a point, he decided. Despite
Leigh’s lies and manipulations, what they shared was very real. Maybe he owed it to her to hear her out.
his tuxedo jacket, he headed for the door.
miles south of Los Angeles, at a truck stop near Costa Mesa, Stormy and Eddie
sat in the cab of the semi.
Eddie set the break and opened the door, hopping out onto the
left the lights on,” Stormy said when he walked around and met up with him.
supposed to. That’s how other truckers
know you’re sleeping. Well, we’re not
but we want them to think we are.”
shook his head in amazement. “It’s scary
how much you know about the most useless information possible.”
slapped him on the back and pocketed the keys.
“Okay, let’s find the rental car
James had delivered here. We’ll get back to L.A. and find
out what's next with this arsenault."
you mind keeping it down?” Stormy said.
“I don’t want the whole truck stop finding out that we just parked a 57
foot trailer of weapons on the property.”
they started away from the semi, they were approached by two uniformed police
fellas,” one of them said. "Parking for
nodded confidently. “Yeah, getting some
shuteye. Just going for a walk to
stretch the ol’ legs. Anything we can do
for you officers?”
doing a routine check,” the cop said. “Mind if we take a look at your waybill?”
at all,” Eddie said, returned to the truck and unlocked the door. He
removed a clipboard containing the waybill and handed it to the officer. “Everything check out okay?”
like it,” he said, shining the flashlight along the side of the semi
trailer. “Just need to look inside real
quick, then you boys can be on your way.”
and Eddie exchanged worried glances.
There was no talking their way out of this one, and they knew it. Reluctantly, Eddie walked around to the back
of the trailer with the keys. He climbed
to the top of the step and unlocked the giant double doors. A quick look back at Stormy reaffirmed the
possibility that they were in a heap of trouble. James hadn’t counted on anything like this
happening when he came up with his master plan.
the officer said impatiently. “The door.”
nodded, reluctantly opening the doors and stepping down onto the asphalt. The officer shined his flashlight inside. He jumped up and inspected one of the
cases. Inside he found rows of machine
guns housed in plastic casings.
swallowed hard, flinching uneasily when the cop pulled out his gun and held it
on him. There was screaming,
barking of orders, and eventually he and Eddie were forced to lay flat on the
ground with their hands behind their heads.
couldn't possibly get any worse.
heart sped up when she heard the knock.
Squeezing her eyes closed in an effort to maintain her composure, she
glided across the room and pulled the door open with a great amount of
apprehension. She had to keep telling
herself that she was justified in her actions.
If she didn’t take care of Seth once and for all, she knew he would kill
look lovely,” Seth said when he entered the suite. He was dressed in a black tuxedo, his hair
combed neatly to the side. “I’m meeting
Marilee at the awards ceremony,
so I’d like to make this as quick as possible.”
She closed the door
“I hope you have
good news for me. I trust you spoke to
James.” A pause while he laughed. An evil laugh. “Well, of course
you spoke to James. Why else would you
be here alone instead of at the theater with him?”
walked across the room, pausing at the sofa and tracing her finger along the
me guess,” he continued. “You decided to
finally come clean with him and tell him of your involvement with me. He didn’t take it well, called you a liar,
there were tears and affected declarations of love, and then he threw you out.”
eyes welled up with tears.
that about how it went down?” Seth asked, then continued without waiting for
her to answer. “But don’t keep me in
suspense, Leigh. Is he going to release
that shipment or not?”
shook her head defiantly. “No.”
he asked in disbelief. “I can understand
if you wanted to get back at him for turning on you, but don’t you think you
should have told him what I would do if he didn’t come up with that missing
“James isn’t afraid of you,” she
said, her voice trembling. She reached
behind the cushion and felt around with her hand.
hadn’t predicted James Blackthorne’s stubbornness. He was still no closer to getting his truck
back, and he was running out of time.
the predicament I’m in,” he said and approached her slowly. “Do I let James live so that he can have a
second chance at turning around this injustice he’s done to me? Or do I kill him like I’d planned and go
after his partners? One of them has to
know where the truck is. And I have a
feeling Alex Reynolds would be more than eager to spill her secrets if it meant
saving her own life.”
going to leave James alone. You’re going
to leave all of us alone.”
oddly confident,” Seth said with a snarl.
He watched her carefully.
she brought her hand up from behind the cushion, gripping the gun tightly as
she violently trembled from head to toe.
She couldn’t control her nerves.
She was terrified.
had predicted her pathetic attempt at killing him. He knew it was why she asked him to meet her
there. Barely giving her the opportunity
to aim the gun in his direction, he strong-armed her and slipped the gun easily
from her grasp. She stumbled back and
glared at him with contempt.
hate you,” she said in bated breath.
shook his head with a smirk. “Did you
really think you could go through with it?” he asked her and looked at the gun. “You’re not a killer, Leigh.”
not,” she said in despair. “But I can
still ruin you. I’ll go to the
authorities. I’ll tell them everything. I don’t care if I go to prison. It would be better than letting you get away
with everything you’ve done.”
sighed and scratched his head. “I’m
sorry you feel that way.”
that, he raised the gun and pulled the trigger.
The bullet sunk
into Leigh’s chest and she staggered back a step, her eyes wide with
shock. White-hot pain seared through her
entire body. A few seconds later she
felt the second bullet hit her. Blood
gushed from the wounds in her chest and ebbed from her open mouth. She finally collapsed onto the floor, all
signs of life instantly disappearing.
lowered the gun, walking toward her and kneeling down to make sure that she was
dead. He ran a hand over his face, only
then realizing that he was drenched in sweat.
His heart raced inside his chest.
He had to move quickly if he was going to catch up with Alex at the
Los Angeles Theater. She was his only chance to find that
knock at the door scared him to his feet.
Panicked, he looked at Leigh’s body and then back at the door.
shoved the gun between his back and the waistband of his tuxedo pants. He went to the phone and picked it up just as
the door opened and James entered.
he called out, then stopped in his tracks when he spotted her body on the
floor, laying in a pool of blood. His
eyes flashed open in horror and he raced toward her, only then noticing Seth
standing at the phone.
just got here,” Seth said and hung up.
“I walked in and found her. I
just called the police. They're on their way.’
refused to make its way to his brain.
All James could think about was the last conversation he’d had with
Leigh and how ugly it had ended. He turned to Seth and saw the
panic in his eyes. “What
the hell did you do?” he demanded.
didn’t do anything,” Seth insisted. “I
told you. I found her like this.”
a liar and a murderer,” James said through gritted teeth. He went for the phone and started to dial.
looked down at Leigh’s motionless body.
He closed his eyes, reached behind him and pulled out the gun. Aiming it across the room, he pulled the
trigger and fired. The bullet sunk into
James’s stomach. Blood exploded from his
mouth and he sunk to his knees. The last
thing he heard was the tinny sound of the 911 operator through the phone
The family tries to
cope with the horrific incident at Hotel Terranova.
Seth's arrival at the Filmmaker Awards
brings dangerous circumstances. Brett fears for
the safety of his and Heather's unborn baby.