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Episode 73

 

Release Date:  November 23, 2007

 Read the episode Recap 

 

Previously...

Brooke and Ethan argued over her inability to commit to him.  She later shared drinks with David, who kissed her.  Heather informed an ecstatic Brett that she was pregnant.  Jordan proposed to Alex, who told him that she couldn't give him an answer yet, believing her involvement with Seth Walker to be too dangerous to get Jordan involved.  James had Stormy and Eddie hijack the truckload of weapons from Costa Mesa and replace it with an empty one.  When Seth learned that the shipment was missing, he threatened Leigh, telling her to make James release it or else he would kill him.  Solmenly, Leigh went to James the evening of the Filmmaker Awards and told him that she was Seth's partner and that he was in danger if he didn't do as the Congressman asked.  A hurt James sent Leigh away.  Stormy and Eddie were arrested when police inspected the truck and found the illegal weapons in the cargo.  Desperate to protect James, Leigh called Seth to her penthouse and pulled a gun on him.  After wrestling the gun from her, Seth shot Leigh twice in the chest. James arrived seconds later after reconsidering taking to Leigh, and Seth shot him too.  

 


 

Episode 73

"Under the Gun"

 

A cool breeze blew in from the balcony in the penthouse at Hotel Terranova.  A fast-busy tone emanated from the phone which hung carelessly off the cradle, dangling to the floor.

“Housekeeping,” called a voice from outside in the hall.  “I have your dry cleaning, ma’am.”

Another knock and no answer.  The maid entered the suite with a stack of garments in her arms.  She made her way to the bedroom and placed them accordingly before returning to the front door.  She paused before leaving, hearing the sound of the phone laying off the hook.   Frowning, she rounded the corner and entered the living room.  There she saw two bodies slumped on the floor, blood spilled everywhere.

"Santa Maria," she uttered in horror, backing up with her hands over her mouth.  Her scream was heard throughout the entire hotel, echoing up and down the corridors and resonating off the walls.

 

Searchlights cut through the night, circling the Los Angeles Theater in downtown L.A. where fans and paparazzi lined up behind the velvet rope for a glimpse of their favorite star or their hottest story.  The red carpet was peppered with celebrities, waving to the cameras and posing for photographs.  The 35th Annual Filmmaker Awards were in full swing, moments from the opening monologue inside the elaborate theater.

Inside the foyer, Alex and Renee stood in their regalia, dripping in diamonds and covered in Chloe and fur.  Their faces wore smiles, but inside they were in constant turmoil.  Neither of them had spoken to James since earlier that evening when he confirmed that the shipment of weapons to Panama had been hijacked by Stormy and Eddie.   The gravity of the situation hadn’t escaped them, and going to the Filmmaker Awards was the last thing on their minds.  But it must be business as usual, as James had insisted.  So here they were, along with their trusted bodyguards who were always a step away.

“Why haven’t we heard anything?” Alex asked under her breath.  “James was supposed to be here by now.  Stormy too.”  A gasp escaped her throat and she turned toward Renee with wide eyes.  “What if something happened?”

“Like what?” Renee asked.

“I don’t know.  I just have a bad feeling.”

Just then, Miranda and David approached with Sierra.  Miranda kissed her mother on the cheek and gave Renee a quick squeeze before putting an arm on Sierra’s shoulder and smiling cheerfully.  “Look who I found,” she said. 

“Sierra, where have you been?” Renee asked and looked with concern at her daughter.  “I don’t want you going off on your own tonight.  These Hollywood types can be very precarious.”  A quick glance in Alex’s direction before she added off-handedly, “no offense.”

“None taken,” Alex said with a snarl. 

“Mother, please don’t treat me like a child,” Sierra said with a pout and folded her arms across her elegant silver gown.  “I feel like I can’t breathe around you ever since-“   She paused, glancing at Alex and then shaking her head in dismissal. 

“I’m sorry, Darling,” Renee said and put a hand on her shoulder.  She turned to Miranda and David again.  “You both look very nice.  David, how nice to see you again.”

“You too, Renee,” he replied.

“Miranda, I thought you were coming with your father,” Alex said, determined to get James alone so she could find out what the hell was going on with the Costa Mesa operation.   The only reason she felt safe going out tonight at all was because she was at a crowded theater with hundreds of other people.  And of course Cliff, her burly bodyguard.  Who knew what kind of state of mind Seth Walker was in.  Even in the midst of all the chaos he could still prove to be dangerous.

“He said he’d meet up with us later,” Miranda replied, thinking about James and wondering if he had decided to talk to Leigh about whatever it was they argued about.  She hoped so.  The more cemented their relationship, the less likely her father was to get back with Brooke Taylor.

Across the room, they were being watched.  Seth stood behind a palm tree, sipping a glass of champagne and eyeing Alex carefully.  All he had to do was wait for her to go off by herself and his opportunity would present itself.  Then he’d find out what happened to his missing truck and get it on its way to Panama.  The sooner that happened the sooner he’d get his money.  He’d be on the way to the Cayman Islands a very wealthy man. 

Reaching into his tuxedo jacket, he secured the pistol he’d confiscated from Leigh. 

When Brett and Heather arrived in their formal attire, Miranda turned to them and forced herself to come off as anything but a bitter divorcee.

“Heather, you look gorgeous,” she said and kissed her on the cheek.  She turned her attention to Brett and gave him a quick, next-to-no-contact hug.  They’d shared a recent mutual loss, after all, and she’d barely seen him since.  He deserved compassion just as much as she’d received from others.  But there were limits, after all.

“I guess we should go in and sit down,” David said when the lights began flashing in the foyer.  He put his arm around Miranda and led her to the entrance of the theater.

“I can’t believe Stormy’s not here,” Miranda said, glancing around the crowd as they walked.  “Where on earth could he be?”

Stormy Blackthorne

The guard made his way down the cell block at the police station several miles away.  He paused at each set of bars and peered inside, inspecting the prisoners and ensuring they were all accounted for.   After he’d walked by, Stormy approached the bars separating him from Eddie and gripped the cold steel with frustration.

What is taking my dad so long?” he asked.  “I left him a message over an hour ago.  He never goes this long without checking in.”

Eddie sighed and hung his head between his legs as he sat on the cold concrete bench.  “I don’t know, dude, but I’m about to freak out.  I’m claustrophobic, you know.  The walls are closing in on me.  I can't take it.  I can't stand being locked up like a caged animal.  Stormy, if I don’t get out of here soon I’m going to explode!”

Stormy gave him a wry expression.  “We’ve been in here for fifteen minutes, Eddie," he said patronizingly.  “Pull yourself together.”

He groaned and drug himself to his feet.  “I can’t help it.  Do you realize what kind of trouble we’re in?  Parking a semi trailer full of machine guns and grenades at a truck stop isn’t exactly a traffic violation.”

“My dad will get us out.  He’ll explain everything to them.  Don’t worry.”

“Do you honestly think they’re going to believe anything he has to say?” Eddie demanded.  “It’s his company that owns Stratotech, remember?  We’re here for the long haul, and we’ll probably wind up being somebody’s bitch.  I know how things work in prison."

"You're being ridiculous."

"Am I?" Eddie exclaimed.  "Am I?"

Sighing, Stormy plopped down on the floor and tucked his knees under his chin.  He couldn’t understand what was taking James so long.  He should have been there by now.

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda was incensed to find Brooke and Ethan sitting two tables away from theirs.  She had half a mind to walk up and throw a drink in the woman’s face.  The nerve of her to show up at a function that she knew James would be at.  She was flaunting her relationship with Ethan.  It was tasteless.

Alex sat down at the table, scouting around the room for any sign of James.  She was beginning to get worried.  She still hadn’t heard from him or Stormy, and the fact that she hadn’t seen or heard from Seth since the night before was also troubling.  He must be planning something, she thought to herself.   She had to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

When Jordan arrived her troubles seemed to fade momentarily.  She watched as he kissed Sierra on the cheek and greeted Renee with a surprisingly civil hello.  He looked so handsome in his tuxedo, she thought.  His proposal the night before stuck in her mind.  As much as she wanted to be with him again, she couldn’t commit to anything with all that was hanging over her head.  It was no longer a matter of proving a point, it was for his own safety.  She couldn’t get him involved in the trouble that she’d caused.

Brooke sat rigidly next to Ethan at the nearby table.  His hand rested gently on her leg, which she didn’t mind so much.  At least he wasn’t forcing her to make a commitment that she wasn’t prepared for.  Since their blowout the other day they’d resumed a half-way normal existence.  If denying the source of the problem was normal. 

To her own detriment, she couldn’t help but glance over at David.  She felt a shortness of breath and didn’t know why.  Possibly because of the kiss they shared and the fact that she hadn’t been able to think of anything else since.  What was wrong with her anyway?  When he returned her secret stares she quickly turned away, forcing herself not to react.

At the next table, Brett placed an arm around Heather when he noticed that she looked a little green.  Leaning over, he whispered softly into her ear.   “Are you okay?” he asked.

She nodded, placing a hand on her stomach.  “I’m fine.  I just feel a little nauseas, that’s all.”

“Morning sickness in the evening?” Brett asked.   “Is that normal?”

“As of lately, yes,” she replied with a grin.  But as soon as she said it, she realized it was no laughing matter.  Jumping to her feet, she covered her mouth with her hands and darted out to the restrooms in the lobby. 

“What’s wrong with Heather?” Jordan asked as he looked around, eyeing Brett suspiciously.  He was waiting for the right time to confront his new son-in-law, and naturally give him the obligatory don’t hurt my daughter or else speech.  Perhaps tonight was just the night to do that. 

“She’s feeling a little…under the weather,” Brett replied, respecting her decision to wait to tell everyone about the pregnancy. 

Across the table, Alex leaned in to Renee and whispered in frustration.  “I can’t handle this anymore.  I’ve got to get a hold of James.”

“Don’t draw attention to yourself,” Renee whispered.  “If anyone gets wind that you’re walking on eggshells they’re going to ask you what’s wrong, and knowing you you’ll spill the whole thing and get us in even more trouble.  Just let James handle things.”

“I can’t wait for that,” Alex hissed.  She stood up and raced down the aisle and out to the lobby just as the awards presentation began. In the commotion, Cliff lost sight of her and became stuck behind a bottleneck of stampeding celebrities rushing for their seats.  

Eyeing her from the corner of the room, Seth discreetly followed her.  The lobby was nearly empty now.  He had a clean shot at her.  Calmly, he followed her into the restrooms, locking the door behind him and pulling the gun from his interior pocket.

As she pulled her cell phone from her purse, Alex heard someone enter the bathroom.  She looked up and froze, paralyzed with fear at the site of Seth standing there with a gun pointed directly at her.

“Where is the truck?” he asked simply.

Her mouth dry, Alex tried to speak but no sounds would come.  Her first instinct was to run but she couldn’t will herself to move. 

“I’m only going to ask once more,” Seth repeated.  “I know that your ex-husband switched the trucks.  My contact in Panama received an empty shipment today.  All I want is the truck with my cargo on it.  After I have it you can go about your evening.”

Still, Alex couldn’t speak.  This was it, she decided.  This was the moment she'd been dreading.  Seth was going to kill her.  She shook her head as furiously as she could in response to his question.

Where is it?” Seth demanded and grabbed her arm, pulling her to her feet.

“I don’t know!” she cried.  “He didn’t tell me!  I swear!”

Frustrated, Seth realized he was running out of time.  By now someone would have found the mess he’d left in Leigh’s hotel room.  The authorities were probably already on to him.  Getting that truck delivered to Panama was no longer a reality.  His best hope now was escaping with his life and his freedom, and with enough money to make up for his losses.

“All right, come on.  You’re coming with me.”  He pulled her toward the door.

The sound of a stall door moving caught his attention and he stopped dead in his tracks.  Someone else was in the restroom.  Swiftly, he tried each of the doors, pushing them open until he found her.  He came to a door that was locked and he forced it open with all his strength.  The door sprung open and he found Heather cowering against the wall in fear.  Gritting his teeth, he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out.

“How fitting,” he said, relishing the idea of Brett Armstrong’s wife being at his mercy.  It served his blackmailing PR man right. 

“Heather!” Alex cried when she realized the she was there and in the same danger she was. 

Heather swallowed hard, praying that someone would come in and see what was going on and call the police.  Why was Congressman Walker holding them at gunpoint?  She sensed that Alex knew why and that only frightened her even more. 

Seth grabbed hold of them both by the arms.  “Come on!” he yelled, forcing them toward the door of the powder room, the gun still aiming directly at them.

“What are you going to do?” cried Alex, who was almost afraid of the answer.

Seth slowly opened the door, peering out into the lobby to make sure the coast was clear.  As soon as he was sure no one was around, he pushed Heather and Alex out into the hall.  “Come on, you two are my ticket out of here.”

Alex resisted, trying to pull herself away from him as she twisted in his grasp.  Seth pulled her back toward him and slapped her as hard as he could.  Her hair whipped around and covered her face as she recoiled from the numbing blow.

Brett Armstrong

Back inside the auditorium, Victor Distefano had just finished his opening monologue when a spine-tingling scream erupted from out in the lobby, causing the crowd to suddenly quiet and turn in their chairs.

Brett stood up from their table, immediately alarmed.  He looked toward the doors to the ballroom and then back at Miranda, panic showing evident on his face.

“That sounded like my mother,” Miranda said, following his lead and rising to her feet.

They bolted up the aisle with Jordan, Renee and David fast on their heels.  Ethan saw the commotion from his and Brooke’s table and ran after them, certain that something terrible was happening.  They all raced into the lobby and stopped in their tracks, horrified by the scene.

Heather and Alex stood across the lobby, frozen in fear as Seth held the gun to their backs.  The panic and confusion in his eyes told them that he was a loose cannon waiting to explode.  One wrong move and he could shoot them both without hesitation.

“Heather!” Brett yelled, his heart pounding at the sight of his wife being held captive by the maniac.

Renee gulped, panic-stricken, and instinctively grabbed hold of Jordan’s hand without realizing what she was doing.  “Oh my God,” she exclaimed, fearful for Heather and Alex’s lives.

“Let them go, Walker!” Brett yelled as he stepped forward.  He knew he had to remain calm and try to reason with the man but seeing Heather in peril was killing him.  He had to think of a way to get her away from him.

“No way,” Seth insisted, pulling the women closer to him.

Jordan moved up alongside Brett and watched helplessly.  His mind raced in a thousand directions, desperate to think of a way to save his daughter and Alex.

“Our deal has gone bust, Armstrong,” Seth remarked.  “I’m sorry but you won’t be getting anything from me after all.  And unless you want a couple of dead women on your hands, somebody’s going to get me fifty millions dollars.  It’s a fraction of what I would have gotten, but it’s better than nothing.  And I’m not leaving this building until I have it.”

Brett shook his head back and forth.  “There’s no way!”

Find a way!” Seth yelled. “Get me the money and a helicopter on the roof in an hour.  If somebody doesn’t come through, your wife and the scream queen here will be splattered all over the street!”

Brett looked at Jordan in a panic as they watched Seth pull Heather and Alex down the hall and through a door leading to the stairs.  He started after them, intent on catching up with them and stopping Seth before he could do something to hurt them.  Jordan and Miranda both grabbed his arm and held him back, their eyes pleading.

“Brett, don’t!" Renee yelled.  "You heard what he said!  He'll kill them!"  She knew that it was true.  If he had been willing to kill Adrienne Fallmont and Logan Mackenzie, he wouldn't hesitate to kill anyone who got in his way.  

Brett looked at her and angrily hit his fist against the wall.  He turned to Jordan and looked at him with terror in his eyes.  "We have to do something," he said.  "Call James and get him down here."  He turned around and looked distantly in the direction of the stairwell.

Miranda watched helplessly as Jordan went to make the call and Brett stood in a bewildered daze.  David came up and grabbed her hand, squeezing it and offering her a comforting smile.  Her cell phone rang and she fished it hastily from her purse.  Flipping it open, she answered curtly.

“Miss Miranda, you have to get to the hospital.  It’s your father.”

Frowning, Miranda turned away from the commotion of the crowd.  Leilani?” she asked.  “What’s wrong?”

“It’s your father.  He’s been shot.  Please.  Come to the hospital right away.”

Standing in awe, Miranda slowly closed her phone and stared at the floor in a daze.  She couldn’t believe this was happening.  First her mother and her step-sister were taken by a madman with a gun, and now she finds out her father has been shot.  It was too much to take in.  She felt numb.

“Miranda, what is it?” David asked as Brooke and Ethan came up behind her. 

She turned to him with watery eyes.  “I have to go.  It’s Daddy.  He’s in the hospital.”

Seth Walker

In the stairwell, Seth ran up the steps, the gun held firmly in his hand as Heather and Alex trotted along several steps in front of him.  They looked at each other in terror, afraid of what was going to happen to them if Seth's demands weren't met.  Even if they did get him what he wanted, who was to say he wouldn't kill them anyway?

Heather cried silently, believing she would never see her husband again, or that something would happen to her baby.  She didn't know what the Congressman was talking about when he mentioned a deal with Brett.  Something inside told her that her husband had been up to no good again.  Now she and their baby were paying for it.  

Sobbing, she tripped on a step and fell on the landing, too tired to continue.  Seth picked her up and set her back on her feet.

“Get moving!” he yelled, pushing her up the stairs to a door marked Roof Access.

 Marilee Wells-Walker

Marilee covered her mouth with her hands, horrified by the details of what had transpired while she sat naively in the auditorium waiting for her husband.

“What is he thinking?” she gasped and turned to Renee.  “What’s going on?  Why is my husband taking hostages to the roof?”

“Your husband is a maniac,” Renee said quietly.  She felt for the woman, realizing that she was totally blind to what her husband had been up to for the past several months.

“We can see that, Renee,” Jordan said with irritation.  “But would somebody care to explain it to me?  How are Alex and Heather involved with that guy?”

Brett rubbed his face with his hands, terrified by the prospect of his wife and child in danger.  “It’s my fault,” he said softy.

“What?” Jordan asked.

“I knew he was dangerous and I did nothing about it,” Brett explained, sick to his stomach over the prospect.  “I blackmailed him, knowing he was a murderer.  Now Heather is paying for it.”

“A murderer?” Jordan demanded.

“Seth Walker killed Adrienne Fallmont,” Renee explained, offering an apologetic glance toward Marilee.  “He planned on selling illegal weapons to Panama, and Adrienne found out.  He’s done everything he can to cover up his ownership of Stratotech.”

Jordan paced around the lobby in bewilderment.  “How is Alex involved?”

“He tricked her into becoming his partner,” Renee replied.

Suddenly Jordan realized what had been going on.  It was Seth that had tried to break into Alex’s house.  He was the one she had been so afraid of.

“James tried to stall the shipment,” Renee went on.  “He had Stormy hijack the truck last night.”

Brett looked at her with alarm.  “That call Miranda got...  James is in the hospital.  Walker must have done something.”  He slammed his fist into the wall and pulled at his hair in frustration.  “Damnit, I should have stopped him.  If anything happens to James, Alex or Heather, it’s my fault.”

Jordan had no time for blame.  His main concern was getting his daughter and Alex to safety.  He would deal with Brett later.  He turned and headed off through the lobby, intent on taking matters into his own hands.

Detective Baines approached them from across the lobby and placed his hands on his hips.  "They're getting a chopper ready," he said.  "It should be here in thirty minutes."

"What about the money?" Renee asked.

"I’ll call my accountants," Marilee claimed.  "I’ll get the money. It’s my husband who's responsible for all of this.  If I hadn't restricted his access to my accounts none of this might have happened.   It’ll just take a little time to get the cash.”

"He's not going to give us time," Brett insisted.  "This guy is under the gun.  Don't you understand that?  What if he doesn't let them go?"

Baines didn't answer right away.  The truth was she didn't know what mindset the Congressman was in so he couldn’t give him an answer.  "We're going to do everything we can to get your wife and Miss Reynolds to safety."

"But what if he doesn’t let them go?" Brett demanded again, looking up at him with a tense, helpless look in his eyes.  He couldn't bare the thought of anything happening to Heather and their unborn baby.  After all the talk he'd done about changing and becoming a better person, his biggest mistake was blackmailing Walker.  Now the lives of his family were in jeopardy.  

Standing up again, Baines offered a dismissive shrug.  "I can't answer that until we get up on that roof and give him the money."

"Where did Jordan go?" Renee asked suddenly as she scanned the lobby.  He had been standing there moments earlier, and was now nowhere in sight.

Brett shook his head with a frown.  "I don't know," he said, wondering if Jordan was where he the thought he was.

 

Thirty stories above on the roof of the theater, Alex and Heather cowered in the corner, the wind blowing against them as they held on to one another in paralyzing fear.   They watched Seth pace back and forth, mumbling to himself as he held the gun out as a constant threat.

“Please just let us go,” Heather said, not taking her eyes off of the revolver.  “You don’t need us anymore.  They'll send the helicopter and the money.  Just let us go.”

Seth stopped pacing and walked over to them with a defiant look in his eyes.  “No.  You two are my insurance.  If I don’t get that money, you’re going to be the ones to pay the price."

Heather and Alex looked at each other, their eyes tearing as they realized they were doomed.  The police weren’t just going to hand that much money over to a criminal.  And then Seth would kill them just as he threatened to.  

Alex chewed nervously on her lip.  This was all her fault.  All because of her stupid rivalry with Renee.  If it hadn't been for that, Seth Walker would never have had the opportunity to come into their lives.  All she could think about now was Jordan and their turbulent past.  After their divorce, she yearned for him for a year.  Everything she did was to get him back.  The fact that she turned him away when he came to her and professed his love was the dumbest thing she ever did.  She'd give anything now to take it back and be warm and safe in his arms.

Jordan Rydell

Jordan took the elevator to the floor just below the roof of the old building, then shattered a window near the fire escape.  He climbed the iron ladder on the side of the building, taking two rungs at a time as he quickly made his way to the top.  He paused for a moment when he felt his foot slip off the slick surface.  He looked down at the street far below and closed his eyes.

Regaining his balance, he took a deep breath and continued up the ladder until he got to the roof.   Once there, he paused and peered over the ledge to survey his surroundings.   He could see Heather and Alex huddled by the far corner of the roof and Seth pointing the gun at them. 

He looked around for something to attack him with.  There had to be a way to overpower him and get the gun from him.  One thing was for certain, he couldn't wait for the police to handle it.  Even with Detective Baines at the helm, there was no time to wait around any more.  They had to do something now.

Brett Armstrong

Brett pulled Baines off to the side and looked at him with urgency.  “Do they have the money yet?” he asked.

After taking a deep breath he shook her head in regret.  “No, not yet,” he replied.  “It takes time, Mr. Armstrong.  You have to be patient.”

“We haven’t got time!” Brett exclaimed.  “We have exactly thirty minutes!  If he doesn’t have that money by then he’ll kill my wife!”

Baines knew he was right but there wasn’t anything they could do.  Fifty million dollars was a lot of money and it would take a small miracle for even Marilee Walker’s people to pull it together in the time they had left.

“I’m going to talk to him,” Brett began.

“No, absolutely not.”  Baines’ tone was adamant.

Brett glared at her with contempt.  “I’m going to talk to him!” he shouted angrily.

 

Jordan pulled himself up over the ledge onto the roof and hugged the side of the wall as he made his way along the length of the building.  He could see Heather and Alex still hovering in the corner.  It was obvious the gunman’s state of mind was bordering on agitation.  He didn’t have much time.  He spotted a tire iron laying on the thick tar rooftop and slowly picked it up, ducking behind the steel posts that supported the glowing neon sign.  

Just then the door leading into the stairway opened and Brett stepped slowly out onto the roof.  Seth saw him right away and quickly aimed the gun at him, his finger resting firmly on the trigger.

“Seth, I just came to talk,” Brett began, watching him carefully.  “It’s going to take a little longer to get the money.”

“That’s not good enough!” Seth yelled angrily as he moved the gun from Brett back to Alex and Heather.  He was sweating profusely and his back was drenched from the heat of the exhaust fans on the roof of the building.  “I want the money and the chopper up here on schedule!  You have twenty minutes!  Otherwise you can say goodbye to your precious wife!”

Jordan ducked behind a smoke stack a few short feet from where Seth was standing.  He gripped the tire iron securely in his hand and waited for a good opportunity to strike.  He had to plan it perfectly or it could go wrong and someone could end up shot.  It was a risk, but he had to do it.  His daughter was in jeopardy, and Alex was the love of his life.  

“Why don’t you let them go, Seth?” Brett said as he stood in the doorway.  He heard Baines come up behind him and reach his hand out but he wasn’t paying any attention.  If he could just talk to the madman long enough to convince him that he was making a mistake by holding them hostage.   “They’re no good to you.  Your helicopter will be here soon so why not let them go?”

“I don’t think so,” Seth replied.  “You’ve got fifteen minutes to get me that money and the chopper.  Now go back downstairs because you’re making me nervous.  And when I get nervous I can’t control my reflexes.”  He was showing his panic and he knew it.  After shooting Leigh and James, he had put himself up against a wall.  He'd doomed himself.  This was his last hope for escape.

Brett stepped toward him.  Swiftly and without warning, Seth turned and fired a warning shot at a steel barrel right beside Brett.  The bullet reflected off to the side and ricocheted into the night sky.

Heather let out a cry, grabbing tightly onto Alex’s arm.  She was terrified that Brett was going to get himself killed trying to reason with the Congressman.

“Get out of here!” Seth yelled again.

Jordan used the moment of chaos to make his move.  He quickly jumped out from behind the smoke stack, raising the tire iron high above his head and attempting to bring it down on top of Seth’s head.

Standing inside the stairwell, Baines saw him and yelled out instinctively.  Seth heard his cries and swiftly turned around just in time to deflect the attack from Jordan.  He pulled the trigger and fired the gun, the bullet grazing Jordan in the shoulder and sending him staggering back against the cement railing.

“Jordan!” Alex called out in horror.  She started to run over to him when Seth pointed the gun at her as a warning to stay put.

“Don’t make another move!” Seth yelled.  “You’d better get me that money if you don’t want someone else getting shot!"

“But we need more time!” Brett argued. 

Renee DeWitt

Renee searched the crowded lobby for Sierra.  In all the excitement she had lost track of her, and in her daughter’s fragile state she wanted to make sure she was okay.  As if the ordeal with Nathan hadn't been enough for a young woman to take - the realizatioin that he was her father, the incident on the yacht, and the incident with the letter opener - she was in no condition to endure any more.

“Darling, there you are,” she said when she found her sitting alone in a daze.  “Are you all right?”

“Why do these bad things keep happening?” Sierra asked, staring blankly at the carpet. “Mother, why?”

“Sweetheart, the police have it under control,” Renee insisted.  She said the words but she didn’t really mean it.  Everything had gone terribly wrong.  She pulled out her cell phone to see if she missed any calls.  Why hadn’t she heard anything from Miranda about James?

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda and David raced down the corridor at Cedars-Sinai, Brooke and Ethan fast on their heels.   They reached the nurses station and Miranda quickly grabbed one of the attendants.

“My father was admitted,” she began.  “James Blackthorne.”

“Miss Miranda,” Leilani called from the waiting area.  She darted over to them and placed a hand on her heaving chest.  “Thank God you got here.”

Miranda pulled her into an embrace and turned back to the nurse.  “I’m his daughter, Miranda Blackthorne.  What happened to my father?”

“Your father suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen,” explained the male nurse.  “A maid found them in the penthouse of Hotel Terranova.  He’s in surgery right now.”

“He’s alive?” Miranda exclaimed, hope returning to her washed out expression.

“He’s in bad shape,” explained the nurse ominously.  “They’re going to do what they can.”

Miranda looked at David and covered her mouth in horror.  The thought of anything happening to her father was worse than anything she could imagine.  Who would do something like this to him?   “Is my father going to die?” she asked point blank.

“He’s critical.  I’ll let the doctor fill you in when he gets out of the O.R.”

Miranda sucked in a breath of air before exploding into tears.  She clung to David and rested her head on his shoulder.  Behind them, Brooke and Ethan watched with wide eyes.  They couldn’t believe that James was having to face such a crisis.   Ethan was beside himself.  After everything he'd done to betray his uncle, this was the last thing he deserved.

“Excuse me,” Ethan said to the nurse before he walked away.  “You said a maid found them.  Was someone with him?”

The nurse nodded sorrowfully.  “Leigh Purcell.”

Miranda snapped her head back instantly.  “What about Leigh?”

“She was dead when the paramedics arrived,” he explained.  “I’m sorry.”

The news kept getting worse.  Miranda covered her mouth with her hands and turned away as she wept. 

Heather Blackthorne

The street in front of the theater was filled with awed specators, struggling to watch the events unfold on the roof thirty story above.  

Heather and Alex stood in the corner on the roof, the wind whipping through their hair as they stared at the menacing gun that threatened their every move.  Heather could see Jordan sitting in pain on the ground several feet away and she tried to see whether he was moving or not.  She thought she could see his eyes open but she wasn’t sure.  It was dark and Seth was standing in the way of her view.

Brett was sitting on the steps just inside the stairwell, his head hanging between his legs as Detective Baines stood watch over Seth outside on the roof.   The waiting was killing them all.  Their time was up and it didn’t look like they were going to get the money in time to save the women.  On top of that, news from the hospital about James wasn't good.

"Leigh Purcell?" Brett asked.  

Baines nodded.  "It looks like Walker shot her.  He was seen going up to her room earlier tonight.  She was dead when the paramedics arrived.  James was alive when they found him.  He's in surgery."

Just then Marilee appeared at the top of the stairs with a briefcase held tightly in her hands.  Brett shot to his feet and looked at her hopefully.  “Is that the money?”

She nodded.   “I had to take it from a Wells Inc. account, but I got it.  So what now?” 

“The chopper’s on its way,” Baines replied.  “After it gets here and Seth gets aboard, he’ll find two SWAT officers waiting for him.  He won’t get away.”

“I don’t care about what happens to him after he’s out of the building just as long as my wife is safe,” Brett insisted as he ran his fingers through his hair.   “Let me take the money out to him.”

Baines shook his head adamantly.  “Are you kidding?” he asked.  “One man’s already been shot.  I’m not risking another civilian going down in this thing.  I’ll take the money out.”

Brett sighed with reluctance and stood aside as Baines walked out onto the roof with the case of money.  He glanced down at Jordan and saw him moving on the thick tar covering the roof.

Seth pointed the gun at Heather’s head, watching carefully as Baines approached with caution.  “Is that all of it?” he asked, gesturing to the briefcase.

“Fifty million dollars.”

He gave a satisfied smile as Heather and Alex watched with anticipation.   “Throw it over here,” he said, using the gun to point to the ground.

“Fist let the women go,” Baines said.

Seth shook his head back and forth.  “No way.  Not until the chopper arrives.  Now throw the money down.”  He waited a beat and then grew impatient.  “Come on!  I don’t have all night!”

Detective Baines set the briefcase down and kicked it across the ground.  It slid a few feet and landed just beside Seth’s feet.  "Sounds like you left quite a mess back at Hotel Terranova," he said.  "You're in a lot of trouble, Walker, and this isn't making it any better."

Ignoring him, Seth grabbed hold of Alex’s arm.  “Open it up,” he said to her and pointed at the briefcase.

Alex reluctantly bent down and fumbled with the latches until they sprung up and the lid opened.   Seth’s eyes lit up as he stared down at the rows of bundles of cash lined up perfectly inside.  He licked his lips with anticipation and told her to close it up and hand it to him.  She did as he said and Seth snatched it from her and held it tightly in his hand.

Just then they heard the sound of the helicopter approaching.  Seth quickly drug Heather and Alex toward the edge of the building.  The propellers blew powerful gusts of wind over the top of the building and whipped Heather’s hair into her face.   The ladder from the helicopter dropped and Seth grabbed it, still pointing the gun at his captives.

“Now start climbing,” he ordered.

Heather looked at him in bewilderment.  “But you said-”

“I’m not through with you yet.  Now climb!”

Heather cowered, grabbing hold of the ladder and placing her foot on the first rung.

The growing crowd of onlookers watched with confusion.  “What are they doing?” Brett asked, flying into a panic.  “He said he’d let them go!” 

“He’s changing the rules,” Baines remarked with frustration. 

Shaking his head adamantly, Brett turned to him and gave him look of warning.  “I’m not going to let him take them anywhere,” he said before quickly rushing toward the helicopter.   He ducked beneath the propeller blades, forcing his way through the powerful wind blasts.

Seth saw Brett approaching and he fired the gun, the bullet missing him by mere inches.  Heather screamed out in terror as she stood half way up on the ladder.

Alex had to do something.  She grabbed his hand, knocking the gun out onto the roof of the building.  She could barely see what she was doing because of the strong wind blowing in her face.  Seth raised his hand to strike her and she hit him in the gut with her elbow.  Doubling over in pain, Seth dropped the briefcase and it fell off the building and disappeared from sight.  Halfway down, the latches sprung open and the bills fell out, spinning through the air like confetti. The crowd below went wild.  

“God damn you bitch!” Seth yelled, shoving Alex down off of the ladder.  She landed on the rooftop with a thud.  

Brett started running toward the chopper again.  Seth saw him coming and he climbed further up onto the ladder where Heather was dangling helplessly.   “Pull up!” he shouted at the pilot.  “Pull up!”

The helicopter began lifting higher into the air, pulling the ladder up with it as Heather and Seth hung onto the rungs.  She closed her eyes, afraid to look down as the helicopter teetered in the air, half over the roof and half over the street thirty stories below.

Jordan raced over to see if Alex was all right while Brett stood underneath of the helicopter, intent on saving Heather.  “Brett!  Don’t!” he yelled. “It’s too dangerous!”

He shook his head with determination. “I have to!  She’s pregnant, for God’s sake!”

With that, he leaped up and grabbed onto the ladder, pulling himself up onto the first rung as the helicopter lifted higher into the air and pulled away from the roof.

“Oh God!” Heather screamed while Seth grabbed onto her foot, trying to pull her off of the ladder.  The wind was too strong and her hands were sweaty.  She didn’t know if she could hold on for much longer.

Brett climbed further up onto the ladder, trying to pull at Seth’s leg.  Seth turned around and brought his foot down onto Brett’s hand with a startling blow.  Brett slipped and he started to fall.  Quickly, he was able to reach up with his other hand and pull himself back up again.

Seth managed to pull Heather down and she lost her grip, sliding down the ladder and practically landing on top of him.  She grabbed onto another rung and held on for dear life.

But Seth peeled her fingers from the rung and Heather began falling.  She looked down and saw that they were hovering over the street below, the roof of the building far out of reach.  Her screams pierced through the night air as she sailed from the ladder in a free-fall. 

In desperation, Brett reached out and grabbed her hand, stopping her from falling thirty stories to her death.  The helicopter started swaying and Heather prayed that Brett wouldn’t lose his grip on her sweaty hand.  Seth started climbing down the ladder again, kicking his leg out to knock Brett off.  A missed step jarred him loose from the ladder and he slipped off the rung.

Brett closed his eyes as Seth fell from the ladder and plummeted down through the air.  The crowd below screamed in horror, gasping as his body slammed against the street in front of the theater in a bloody splatter.

On the roof, Jordan and Alex each let out a sigh of relief.  She threw her arms around him and held on with all her might. 

“Are you okay?” she asked, inspecting his bloody shoulder.

“I’m better than okay,” he said, relieved that she and Heather were safe.  “It takes  more than a little bullet to the shoulder to stop me.”

The helicopter hovered back over to the building and lowered to the roof.    Heather got down off of the ladder first, followed by Brett.  The others ran over to them.  Heather threw her arms around Brett and held him close, tears falling down her cheeks as she trembled with fright.

Alex approached and Heather pulled her into an embrace, relieved that they’d made it through the terrifying ordeal.   Brett turned away and saw Jordan and Renee embracing happily.

“Brett, I don’t know how to thank you,” Jordan said and shook his hand.  “You saved my daughter’s life.”

They embraced warmly before Jordan turned and smiled at Alex, wincing from the pain in his shoulder where he’d taken the bullet.  Renee wrapped a torn cloth around it and tried to stop the bleeding.

Alex led him a few feet away and kissed him passionately on the roof of the theater.  “Remember what I said to you the other night at my house?’ she asked. 

He frowned.  “You said a lot of things.”

“I said to ask me again sometime.  Remember?”

He knew what she was getting at.  Holding her in his arms, he brushed the hair from her eyes and smiled.  “Alex, will you marry me?  Again?”

“Yes,” she said.  “Yes I will marry you again.”

Brooke Taylor

Miranda scowled angrily at Brooke and Ethan while she paced the waiting room at Cedars-Sinai.  The devastation of the evening’s events was so numbing that she couldn’t even bring herself to lash out at them.  It just didn’t seem important right now.

David could tell she was losing her grip, and having Brooke there wasn’t helping matters.  He did what he could to comfort her, so when he saw on the news that the standoff on the roof of the Los Angeles Theater was over, and that Alex and Heather were safe, he couldn’t wait to share the news with her.  Unfortunately, it did little to ease her mind.  Her father was still in surgery and Leigh was still dead.  All at the hands of a madman. 

Suddenly, the doors to the ER opened amidst a barrage of camera flashes and reporters clamoring for quotes.  Pandemonium had erupted in the hospital.  Jordan rushed in, his wounded shoulder wrapped in a towel and Alex and Heather tending to him dutifully.  Following behind were Brett, Sierra and Renee.  Every news field reporter and newspaper columnists was on hand, begging for a quote as to what went on on the roof of the Los Angeles Theater and for details of Congressman Walker’s death, not to mention wanting to clarify reports that James Blackthorne had been shot earlier that night.

A group of nurses darted over to Jordan and inspected his gunshot wound, announced that it was a flesh wound and that he would require stitches.  They led him in to an examination room and Heather followed.

Alex, shielding her eyes from the cameras, went to Miranda and pulled her into an embrace.

“I’m so glad you’re safe,” Miranda said.  “I’m sorry I had to leave.  But Daddy-“

“I know, Sweetheart.  I heard.”  Alex led her to a bench and sat down next to her.  “What do the doctors say?”

Miranda wiped her teary eyes and held tightly to her mother’s hand.  “He’s in surgery.  He’s critical.  They don’t even know if he’ll make it through the operation.”

Alex closed her eyes in devastation.  “This is all my fault,” she whispered, tears flowing from her eyes.  “I did this to him.  I did it.  If your father dies it’s because of me.”

Miranda shook her head in agony.  “You didn’t shoot him, mother.  Nobody forced that maniac to do what he did.  Just like nobody forced him to take you and Heather up to that roof.”  She glanced up at Brett, knowing fully well that he had been involved in this mess too, and that he blamed himself for what almost happened to Heather.

“We should have went to the police right away,” Renee said, her arm around Sierra.  “It was crazy to think we could handle this on our own.”

Just then, Kenny entered the waiting area and Renee and Alex approached him in a blind fury.  “I just heard about James.  How is he?”

Alex shook her head in despair.  “We still don’t know anything,” she said.  “Kenny, I have to find Stormy.  James sent him-“

“I know where Stormy is,” Kenny interrupted.  “I got a call a few minutes ago when word got out about James’s shooting.  He and Eddie Distefano were arrested tonight.”

Alex and Renee looked at each other in shock.

“I arranged for bail to be posted.  They’ll be released in a couple of hours.  I don’t know yet what the charges are going to be.  They found the truck and as of right now, Stormy and Eddie are of great interest to the FBI.”

How could things get any worse? Alex thought to herself as she turned and muffled her silent cries. Just then, Dr. Farraday emerged from the operating room.  He removed his surgeons mask and waited until the crowd had turned their attention to him.

“James is out of surgery.  He’s in recovery.  We were able to remove most of the bullet fragments, but there’s still very small pieces embedded internally.  That makes the next seventy-two hours extremely critical.”

“Will he pull through, Dr. Farraday?” Renee asked. 

“I can’t answer that, Renee” he replied matter-of-factly.  “We’ll monitor him closely and do everything we can.  Right now you should all go home and get some rest.”

Miranda turned and clung to David’s side.  “I can’t go home,” she said.  “I’m not leaving my father.”

“I’ll stay with you,” he said and squeezed her tightly.

The rest of the crowd stood silent, fearing that the worst part of Seth Walker’s reign of terror wasn’t over, and wouldn’t be until James was out of the woods.

Brett Armstrong

The next morning was a somber Sunday.  Hazy sun filtered through clouds and smog hung low over the city.  Everyone who had been at the Filmmaker Awards, and even those were hadn’t, were affected by the tragic outcome.

Brett had told Heather everything after they’d gotten home from the hospital.  His greed had gotten the best of him and instead of helping put a murderer behind bars, he used his wrongdoings to his advantage.  Regret came too late when Heather’s life was put in danger.  He knew that his actions would make trusting him difficult for her, and he was prepared to do anything he could to make up for it.

“If anything had happened to you-” he said as he came up behind her on the balcony at their condo.   “I know I’ve messed up in the past and I know everyone and their brother warned you about getting involved with me, but-“

Heather turned and placed her hands on her hips.  “What you did was stupid and selfish and makes me remember why I loathed you for so long.  And I don’t know that I can just forget about it.  I probably made a mistake ignoring everyone’s warnings about you.  Hell, I knew who you were and I still married you.  How dumb must I be?”

He shook his head in quiet despair.  “Heather, you’re not.”

“I appreciate that you risked your life to save me up on that roof,” she continued.  “And we are having a baby together.  But this is just who you are, Brett.  A con man.   You always have been and you always will be."

"Heather-" he protested, agonizing over the way he'd hurt her yet again.

She looked coldly into his eyes.  "How can I ever trust you?"  

Her words stung his eyes.  He lowered his head as she turned and walked inside, closing herself inside the bedroom.

James Blackthorne

At the hospital, Miranda and Sierra stood outside of James’ room in the ICU, peering through the window at his frail body lying empty on the bed.

“He looks so weak,” Miranda said, her voice filled with gloom.  “I’ve never seen him like this before.”

“He has a strong will,” Sierra remarked.  “He’ll pull through this.”

Miranda regarded her knowingly.  “I guess all the Blackthornes are strong.  It’s how we get through.  You have that gene, you know.  You made it through that ordeal with Nathan and you’ll be a stronger person for it.”

Sierra laughed in spite of herself.  “I don’t feel very strong,” she said softly.  “And no offense, Miranda, but I don’t think that I want to be a Blackhorne.  Look at the trouble that follows you around.  There’s always something.  My father was the worst of all of them.”

Miranda felt for her estranged cousin.  She placed a comforting hand on her shoulder just as Stormy approached from behind. 

“Any change?” he asked.

Miranda turned and lit up when she saw him there.  “Thank God,” she said and hugged him tightly.  “No, there’s no change.  He’s still critical.  Mom told me what happened last night with you and Eddie.  What’s going to happen with the charges?”

Stormy shrugged.  “Kenny says he’s working on it.  If charges are brought, we could be looking at prison time and a hefty fine for attempting to sell illegal weapons.”

Miranda shook her head in dismay.  “Seth Walker really did a number on this family, didn’t he?” she asked and looked back in at James.  “Stormy, what if he doesn’t make it?  Who’s going to hold this family together?”

He pulled her into an embrace.  “He has to make it.”

Alex Reynolds

Alex and Renee were summoned to Kenny’s office where they sat in bated breath awaiting for his arrival.  Silence permeated the room, broken only by the steely cold looks between them. 

When Kenny arrived he wasted no time in breaking a string of bad news to them.

“I just got off the phone with the SEC, the FBI and Homeland Security,” he began, opening his briefcase and producing a thick stack of papers that he referred to.  “As of this morning, you no longer own Blackthorne-Reynolds.”

Renee frowned and sat forward.  “What do you mean?  We have stock.”

“Your stock is worthless,” he replied matter-of-factly.  “The company’s been shut down by order of the SEC.  That’s usually what happens to a corporation that’s been involved in an international incident.”

“But all the money we put into it,” Alex protested.  “My Uncle Cyrus’s land…”

“And my fifteen million dollars,” Renee added.

“The assets will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be divided up amongst the three of you,” Kenny said.  “That includes the land at Costa Mesa that Alex bought under the Stratotech division.”

“Well that’s not so bad,” Alex said and uncrossed her legs.  She stood up and grabbed her purse.  “See that my check gets sent to me.  If you’ll both excuse me, I want to check on James, and then I have a wedding to plan.  Jordan and I are getting remarried.”

“I’m not finished,” Kenny said and pointed to her chair. 

Alex sighed and sat back down. 

“Not only have you been shut down, there’s an excellent chance that criminal charges will be brought against the two of you, Stormy, Eddie, and James - if he recovers.  And any profits from the sale of Blackthorne-Reynolds will probably only make a dent in the fines that you'll be assessed."

“Now wait a minute,” Alex began.  “Kenny, you know as well as I do that Seth Walker orchestrated this whole thing.  He was a murderer.  He used us.  It’s not our fault.”

“It kind of is your fault,” Renee insisted and pointed to Alex.

“Oh, of course, blame me,” Alex said and folded her arms.  “That’s so typical of you, Renee.”

“Who should I blame?”

“How can you sit there so high and mighty after all that’s gone on in the last twenty-four hours?” Alex shrieked.  “Leigh Purcell is dead, James is clinging to life in the hospital, and Heather and I were nearly turned to roadkill last night.”

“I know that.  I was there, remember?”

Alex rolled her eyes with a guffaw.  “Kenny, what kind of charges are we talking about?”

“For starters, Alex, you are looking at charges of corporate fraud for your part in the development of Stratotech.  That carries a sentence of a minimum of five to ten years in prison.”

Alex plastered her hands to her mouth and shook her head in despair.  No! she thought to herself.  She couldn’t go back to prison.  A month for perjury was unbearable enough.  But five to ten years?  She couldn’t survive that.

Kenny continued.  “However, there’s a chance that those charges could go away, if Renee and James refuse to cooperate.  After all, it was the two of them that you defrauded.”

They both looked at Renee, who sat innocently twiddling her thumbs together.   She looked at them and sighed in exasperation.  Why did Alex’s fate have to rest in her hands?

“Fine,” she said.  “Even though she deserves to go to prison.  You know, Alex, I told you you were in over your head with Blackthorne-Reynolds.  You’re an actress, not a business woman.  Just what the hell were you thinking anyway?”

“You have a lot of room to talk!” Alex shrieked.  “James and I were doing fine before you waltzed in with your money and your big ideas and your illegitimate daughter!  You ruined everything!  If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have even given Seth’s offer a second thought!”

Kenny smiled and folded his arms.  “That brings us to the charges of conspiracy to sell arms to embargoed nations, conspiracy to support terrorists, and charges of treason.”

“Terrorism?  Treason?” Renee guffawed.  “That’s ridiculous.”

“The government doesn’t take lightly to corporations selling arms to potential adversaries,” Kenny explained.  “They look at it as if you were supporting terrorists, and that in itself is treason.  If these charges stick, you could each be looking at a minimum of twenty years.”

They each stared at him in a daze.  The news was like a harsh reality slapping them in the face. 

“I know how you must feel, and I’m going to do everything I can, but I’m afraid there’s only so much I can do.  This is way over my head.  Congressman Walker was very detailed when he set this up.  He left contingencies.  He was guilty of murder, but unfortunately you’re the ones who will take the fall for Stratotech.  I hate to be indelicate, but you could all be looking at prison time.”


Next time....

Season 3 draws to a close.  An impromptu wedding masks the truth for Alex.  Jordan gets a surprise visit.  Miranda refuses to leave James's side.  Criminal charges weigh in on Alex and Renee.  

Read the Season Finale

 

 


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