found a picture in David's cabin of a young blonde girl
with pigtails nicknamed Babydoll. David told Brooke
that she reminded him of Babydoll, a girl that he met
in Big Bear some twenty years earlier. A fortune
teller told Heather that her first born would pay
for her sins. When Heather learned that she was
pregnant, she and Brett celebrated. After leaving
James and Leigh for dead at Hotel Terranova,
Seth arrived at the Filmmaker Awards and demanded
Alex reveal the location of the missing truck. When
she revealed that she didn't know, he took her and
Heather hostage, demanding fifty million dollars and
a helecopter on the roof of the Los Angeles Theater
or he would kill them. Brett blamed himself for
getting Heather involved, prompting him to race to the
roof to reason with Walker. Meanwhile, Jordan
attempted to take Seth by surprise, succeeding only
in getting shot in the shoulder. Marilee came
up with the money, and just as the helecopter arrived,
Seth decided to take Alex and Heather with him. Brett
intervened and rescued them, sending Seth falling from
the roof to his death. Alex told an injured Jordan
that she'd decided to marry him after all. Sierra,
tormented by the trouble that followed them, told
Miranda that she didn't want to be a Blackthorne. Kenny
arranged for Stormy and Eddie to be released on bail
pending charges of gun running. James was taken
to the hospital where he underwent surgery with a grim
prognosis. Word spread that Leigh didn't survive.
Heather told Brett that despite his heroics, she
dind't think that she could forgive him for his involvement
with Walker, but Jordan expressed his gratitude for
saving the day. Kenny told Alex and Renee that
they could be looking at prison time for Blackthorne-Reynolds'
involvement with Stratotech.
Blackthorne had seen the white light in the moments
after he was shot. He found that heaven was just
like he'd been taught in Sunday school back in Kansas.
There were floating clouds, angels with harps,
and a golden archway welcoming him to the afterlife.
They taught him that he would feel peace, and
he did. They taught him that he would be reunited
with loved ones past, and he was. They taught
him that he would have to answer for his sins, and he
did. They taught him that he could look down on those
he left behind and be comforted in the fact that for
them too the pain would someday end as it had for
him, and yes, he did.
the five days since the rooftop calamity at the Filmmaker Awards, Alex and Jordan had not gotten a moments
peace. Reporters had been camped out at
the front door of Jordan’s
house in Beverly Hills
on a twenty-four hour basis. With every
quote or "no comment" they uttered
involving Alex’s involvement with the late Congressman and Stratotech, a dozen more questions were asked. The role that Blackthorne-Reynolds played in the scheme was still under
investigation by the government, and it hung over Alex’s head like an unpaid
debt. Renee had already issued her own
personal statement to the media saying that she had no knowledge whatsoever in
their involvement. It didn’t bode well
for the possibility of corporate fraud charges being brought against Alex.
It was the hottest
story of the moment, shadowed only by the public’s disbelief that the former
actress was planning a quickie wedding to be held that afternoon on the grounds
estate. As if the criminal investigation
wasn’t enough to hamper any celebratory nuptials, her ex-husband was still
laying in the ICU at Cedars-Sinai following the bloodbath that occurred at Hotel Terranova. Some said she was in denial. Alex thought of it simply as multi-tasking.
“Those go over
there!” she shouted, standing in the foyer of Jordan’s house. The wedding planner had everything arriving
at the same time; marble columns, fountains, linens, flowers and centerpieces. She supervised the deliveries, stressed over
the guest list, and argued when they tried delivering the ice sculptures six
hours early; all while communicating with the wedding planner through a two-way radio
It was eight-thirty
in the morning when Jordan
came down the stairs to the hustle and bustle of wedding preparations. Groaning, he tried slipping undetected into
the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.
While he was thrilled that Alex had agreed to marry him again, he wasn’t
so sure that she was thinking with a clear head. Her first ex-husband, whom she was still
quite close to, was in a coma following a life-threatening gunshot. To her it was just another wedding
“Don’t you try to
sneak past me,” Alex said when she spotted Jordan sidling along the wall. “I see you, Jordan. I need you to have some last
messengered this morning."
Jordan rolled his eyes
and approached her with caution. “More
invitations?” he asked. His arm was
bandaged from the bullet he’d taken the other night, but the pain was at a
minimal. “Alex, are you sure you’re not
rushing things a bit? The wedding is at two o’clock. How are these people going to clear their
schedules in time? Why can’t we wait and
get married next month?”
“I don’t want to
wait!” she replied, obviously hurt that he would suggest it. “I didn’t think you did, either.”
immediately regretted suggesting it.
“Then why don’t we just go to city hall and get married by a justice of
the peace? It would save a lot of
headaches, and plus, with everything going on, are you sure you’re not
have I ever done that?” she mused and scanned the length of a clipboard.
slipped his hands around her waist and looked into her eyes. “James is in the hospital, your children are
terrified that he won't make it, we just got through burying Leigh
yesterday, and may I
remind you that you could still be facing prison time for that whole Stratotech business?”
reply was simple and efficient. “James
is going to pull through. I’ll make sure
we videotape the ceremony to show him later.
Stormy and Miranda will be
fine. They’re strong.
They take after their mother
and father. And the investigation into Stratotech will be put to rest after the
one I’m giving this morning,” she replied, distracted by a ornate cherub fountain
being delivered. "Get rid of that monstrosity.
I specifically said no peeing fountains."
With a sigh, she turned back to Jordan. “Didn’t I tell you about the
As if on cue, the
doorbell rang and the butler responded.
surprise, a procession of reporters and television news stations entered the
house and began setting up their equipment in the foyer. He placed a hand on his forehead and watched
his house turn into further chaos. When
Renee and Kenny entered behind a reporter from Image magazine, he knew that the press conference was no joke.
“I hope your bride
knows what she’s doing,” Kenny said to him warily.
“You don’t event know what she’s got
asked, dumbfounded. "Jesus, you're her lawyer."
“It better be
something really good,” Renee said and folded her arms. “I do not
intend to go down with her sinking ship.”
Kenny smiled at Jordan
with amusement. “Oh, and
congratulations on the wedding.”
Jordan sighed with
exasperation. Just as he turned to
finally retrieve his morning cup of coffee, he heard a voice that resonated in
his mind. Frowning, he whipped around
and spotted his son, Benji, weaving his way through the crowd of reporters,
wedding planners, and interested parties.
exclaimed in surprise. “What on earth-“
“This place is like
a circus,” he said and dropped a suitcase and a duffel bag onto the floor. “What’s going on? Are they shooting a movie here or something?”
Jordan ignored his
questions. “What are you doing
here? Why aren’t you at school?”
“Didn’t you get my
e-mails?” Benji Rydell asked with disappointment. He was seventeen years old, a lanky six feet
tall, and had green eyes and dark hair that fell lazily over his forehead. He wore chinos and a navy blazer with the Beau-Soleil crest insignia on the chest placket.
By appearance alone, he was truly his father’s son.
“No, I didn’t get any e-mails,” Jordan said
insistently. “Are you on a break?”
“I graduated early,” Benji announced. “Today was the end of the semester so I’m an
official high school graduate. I can say
goodbye to boarding school, steel wool uniforms, and Switzerland.”
I guess I didn’t realize you were doing that well this year.” He finally got over his shock and pulled his
son into an embrace. “I wish I would
have known you were coming. Things are a
little nuts around here right now.”
Benji looked around and cracked a wiseacre
smile. “I’ll say. What’s going on? Does this have anything to do with that stuff
that went on at the Filmmaker Awards?
I saw it on E.T. and I couldn’t believe it. I was freaked out.”
“Come on,” Jordan said and led him toward the
kitchen. “I’ll fill you in on
everything. First I need to get some
coffee or I’ll freak out.”
The heart monitor beeped as it was
supposed to, air from the oxygen tank made the whooshing noise that it should,
and the EKG registered normal brain activity.
But Miranda couldn’t leave her father’s side. He was stable, yet critical, whatever that
meant. She was convinced that if she left
his room the heart monitor would stop beeping, the oxygen tank would turn off,
and he would fade away.
She held his hand tightly as she sat
at his bedside. He hadn’t woken up at
all since the shooting. A trauma-induced
coma, as the doctors put it. The main
problem now according to the doctors was the internal bleeding that they’d only
managed to stop temporarily, or the infections in his kidneys as a result of
the bullet fragments that remained.
She wore no makeup and her hair fell
flat against her face but she didn’t care.
She wasn’t there to accept compliments on her appearance. David had been there with her most of the
time, as had Stormy. Heather, Brett,
Brooke, Ethan, Kenny and Renee had come by every day but there had been no
The door opened and Stormy entered,
walking up behind his sister and placing a hand gently on her shoulder. “I’m gonna take off for a while,” he
said. “Mom’s got that press conference
this morning before the wedding. Are you
She nodded and touched his hand with
her fingertips. “Tell mom I’m sorry but
I don’t think I can go today.”
“Miranda-“ Stormy pleaded. “You can leave for an hour. I know it’s bad timing for a wedding, but I
think mom really needs us there. This has
been really hard on her too. I don't think she's coping very well."
“I’m sorry, Stormy, but I don’t
think that I can go to a wedding and celebrate with mom and Jordan while Daddy
is here hanging on for his life.” She
got up and walked to the head of the bed, fluffing the pillow beneath James’s
head. “Besides, I want to be here when
he wakes up. I have to tell him about
Stormy knew how hard she was taking
this, and he knew that nobody was as close to their father as she was, so he
didn’t argue with her further. “I’ll be
back after the wedding,” he said and left the room.
Out in the hall, he met up with
Eddie who approached quickly. “How’s
your dad?” he asked.
Stormy shrugged. “The same,” he said and put his hands in the
pockets of his trousers. “Come on, are
you ready to go?”
Eddie nodded. “What do you think your mom’s going to say at
this press conference?” he asked.
Stormy shook his head indifferently
and led him to the elevator. “Who
knows? Knowing her she could be planning
on reciting a monologue from one of her films.
But whatever she says, I hope to God it gets us off the hook.”
“I do own the Stratotech
Corporation,” Alex began as she stood in the foyer of Jordan’s house amidst dozens of
camera flashes. “The rumors you’re
hearing are true.”
Startled gasps and hushed whispers
fell over the crowd. Jordan stood in the front row
listening intently. Beside him, Kenny,
Renee, Stormy and Eddie watched in anticipation.
“However, I only bought the company
because I learned that Congressman Seth
Walker was planning on using it to sell arms to Central America,” she went on,
speaking clearly into the microphone.
“Being an American-loving citizen, and a supporter of our troops, I
couldn’t let a trusted politician get away with this injustice. I’m a firm believer in gun control, and that
was my main motivation in getting involved with this dangerous, dangerous man.”
Renee rolled her eyes in
disbelief. “Supporter of our troops?”
she whispered to Kenny. “Is she
“Rather than see these dangerous
weapons in the hands of potential adversaries, I asked a favor of my son, Ryan
Blackthorne, who hijacked the truck carrying these explosives in hopes that it
would delay them reaching their destination so that I could coordinate efforts
with the authorities. In hindsight, I
now realize this was a mistake. No one
could have predicted the Congressman’s reaction, and unfortunately, lives were
lost, and others were left in jeopardy.”
“So far so good,” Eddie murmured to
Alex smiled and winked at Jordan
before continuing. “Fortunately, the
selling of arms to Panama
was successfully stopped, and Congressman Walker’s reign of terror is now
over. I attribute this mostly to my
stepping in and taking control of the situation. And now, as an apology to the California Land
Commission, who were so viciously taken advantage of and lied to by Congressman
Walker in his dealings, I am happy to announce that I am donating the land at
Costa Mesa to them so that they may continue their practices of animal and natural
resource and environmental conservation right here in our beautiful state.”
The crowd clapped with
admiration. Kenny raised an eyebrow and
shook his head in astonishment. He
couldn’t believe how well Alex had spun the events to make her look like a champion
of the people. He watched as Alex
stepped away from the microphones and put her arm through Jordan’s. Cameras flashed and several members of the
Land Commission shook her hand.
Reynolds, I understand Blackthorne-Reynolds was shut
down when the investigation into your involvement began,"
said a reporter from the Times. "In
light of the circumstances involving your ownership
of Stratotech, will you be petitioning the SEC
for the right to continue operating Blackthorne-Reynolds?"
smiled and placed her hands before her. "I
do not intend to, no," she said. Her remarks
were following by gasps and inquisitive looks from the
media. "I'm sure my partners, James Blackthorne
and Renee DeWitt will support me in the decision to
let the judgement remain as is, with the proceeds from
Blackthorne-Reynolds being divided amongst the
three of us. Blackthorne-Reynolds will
glared at her from across the room, furious that her
partner didn't bother discussing the matter with her.
Across town at his condo, Brett
switched off the television after catching the coverage of the news
conference. He sighed and rose to his
feet, believing that Alex should have been the one to go into public
relations. She was very good at making
herself look like a hero.
“I guess it’s over,” Heather said
from the kitchen where she made herself a cup of tea. “For us, anyway. I keep thinking how torn up Miranda and
Stormy are over James. If he doesn’t
pull through I don’t know what will happen.”
“He’ll pull through,” Brett said and
sat down at the breakfast bar. “James
Blackthorne can’t die. Do you know how
powerful he is?”
her cup down on the counter in a fit of anger.
“Life isn’t all about power, Brett,” she said with abhorrence. “I thought after the other night you would
have realized that.”
He looked at her apologetically.
“I do realize that,” he said. “I
didn’t mean anything by it.”
know exactly what you meant," she said with
Babe, I know you're still angry about-"
bet your ass I'm angry," she shouted. "You
put my life and Alex's life in jeopardy. Leigh
was killed, and James may die because you put your own
selfish desires first, as usual."
not fair," Brett insisted. "James and
Alex got involved all on their own. I had
nothing to do with that. Look, I know that what
I did put your and our baby in jeopardy, but I can't
be held responsible for everything Seth Walker did.
Heather, I would never do anything to hurt you
intentionally. You have to know that."
threw her hands up in resignation. “I’m going to go start getting ready
for the wedding,” she said and started to the bedroom in a huff.
will too," Brett said and started after her.
she said and paused in the doorway. "I don't
want you to go. I'm sorry but I just don't think
I can be around you right now."
are you saying?" Brett asked, his heart racing.
looked down at the floor and then back up at him. "I
just need need some time," she said. "Time
that, she turned and went into the bedroom. She opened the closet and surveyed her wardrobe. She
rubbed her throat, feeling as though she was coming down with something. The flu or a cold of some kind. She’d been achy and swollen for days. On top of that, she had no appetite
whatsoever. Probably a side affect from
the pregnancy, she decided, pulling a black dress from the closet and holding
it in front of her. That or the stress over her marriage.
“Nice work,” Jordan said and
approached Alex after the press conference.
He kissed her and shook hands with a few passing reporters.
She smiled with conceit. “Some of it was true,” she said with a wink
as Kenny approached with Stormy and Renee right behind.
“Offloading that land was a
nice touch,” Kenny said with a grin.
“The Land Commission is loving you right now.”
Renee rolled her eyes. “All right, enough. Why don’t we just give her the Medal of
Freedom while we’re at it? For God’s
sake, the woman made herself sound like Mother Theresa.” She glared at
Alex and stepped toward her. "How could you
do that? You know how much Blackthorne-Reynolds
meant to James and I, and you just announce that it's
history before he or I can have a vote in it?"
“What do you think the chances are
that they won’t press charges?” Stormy asked.
Alex shrugged indifferently. “Well, I’m not going to sit around all day
worrying about it. I have a wedding to
get ready for.” She turned to Jordan. “Darling, I’ll be upstairs getting into my
dress. I’ll see you at two o’clock.”
Everyone watched in disbelief as she marched care-free
up the stairs, completely unwilling to accept the possibility
that things weren't as neatly resolved as she'd like
to think. When she reached the top landing,
she paused as Benji came out of his
“Benji, your father told me you were
back,” she said with a smile. “My God, I
can’t believe how grown up you are. You
are so handsome.” She walked up and gave
him a quick squeeze. “When was the last
time you came for a visit, anyway?”
Benji blushed and dug his hands into his
pockets. “A little over two years ago,”
he said. “I was here for Stormy and
Alex nodded with the recollection. “That’s right,” she said. “Well, your sister’s married again. Only this time you missed the wedding.”
He nodded and pushed his bangs from his eyes. “Yeah, I heard the guy is a real jerk,” he
said. “He was married to Miranda before,
Alex folded her arms. “He was a jerk, yes, but a lot of us
owe him a debt of gratitude,” she said after thinking about the events on the
roof of the Los Angeles Theater.
She shuddered to think of what would have happened to
her or Heather if Brett and Jordan hadn't intervened.
so happy you and my dad are getting married
again,” Benji said, his eyes beaming.
She smiled and grew serious for a minute. “I know you must have a lot of questions
about us. Your father and I, I
mean. Like why we divorced in the first
place, and why we’re just now remarrying.
But I want you to know that I love your father very much and I never
stopped. Things just got in the
way. But now I think we have a chance to
be really happy.”
“I’m glad,” he said timidly. “Looks like I came back just in time.”
“You sure did,” she said with a good natured laugh
and started toward Jordan’s
bedroom. She paused and turned back,
growing serious again. “One more thing,
Benji. I would never try to take the place of your
mother. Suzanne loved you
very much. I just hope that you
and I can be
The corners of his mouth turned up and he nodded
appreciatively. “I’d like that,” he
Alex smiled and continued on her way, realizing
that she didn’t have much time to finish getting ready.
Ethan found Brooke at the hospital pacing the
waiting room with a steaming cup of coffee.
He approached her and placed a gentle hand on her arm. “I just went by your hotel room and the nanny said
you were here,” he said. “Has there been
She shook her head.
“I saw your things packed up in your suite,” Ethan
continued. “Are you going somewhere?”
She nodded absently. “I’m moving into a house. Staying at Hotel Terranova was only a
temporary arrangement. I can’t live
Confused, Ethan ran his fingers through his
hair. “Wait a minute. You’re moving? I know we’re taking things slow, but I
thought we’d eventually move in together.”
“I know, I know.
You’re not ready now. I get
that. But this makes it seem like it’ll never
happen. You’re moving into a house and
you’re moving on with your life. Without
me. I don’t get it, Brooke.”
“Do we have to do this now?” she asked and dropped
her hands to her sides. “James is still
in a coma.”
that. But do I have to remind you what he did to you? The way he treated you?
Why are you hanging around here like-”
“Forgive me if I’m concerned about the man that I
was married to for the better part of two years. He’s your uncle, for God’s sake. What would you have us do? Pretend this isn’t happening? Turn our backs on him?”
“Of course not,” he replied. “It just seems that you’re using James as an
excuse to avoid me.”
She glared at him in disbelief. “That’s ridiculous,” she said, even though
she knew it was entirely true. “You’re
“What?” Ethan cut her off. “What am I doing?”
She looked at him plainly and folded her arms. “You’re smothering me.”
“I’m smothering you?” he yelled angrily.
“I told you that I needed time! I told you that I didn’t want to rush, and
all you do is badger me about moving in together and spending time together and
I just can’t handle it right now. I’m
sorry! I need room to breathe!”
After waiting for her tantrum to finish, Ethan set
his jaw and stalked toward the door.
“You want room to breathe?” he shouted.
“You’ve got it!”
Brooke buried her face in her hands, cringing as
the door slammed shut when he left the room.
She shook her head and sat down, jumping with a start when the door
opened again. She found herself hoping
it was Ethan returning. She didn’t mean
to go off on him, but everything was piling up and she was growing increasingly
“You okay?” David asked when he entered the
She smiled vaguely.
“Fine, thank you. How is Miranda
He entered the room with his hands in his
pockets. “About as well as can be
expected,” he said and gestured to the seat beside her. “Do you mind?”
She shook her head.
“I tried to get her to come with me to the
cafeteria but she refuses to leave his room,” David said as he sat down on the
plastic chair. “She won’t leave his
“He means everything to her,” Brooke murmured
sorrowfully. “You take away the tough
exterior and the chip on her shoulder and she’s just a scared little girl
inside. A little girl who wants nothing
more than to have her father all to herself. She's hanging
on to that. She doesn’t want the fantasy to
“You seem to know them pretty well.”
“I do. I
understand their relationship.
In many ways they’re all each other has.
They take care of each other.”
David hung his hands between his knees and stared
blankly at the floor. “When my father
died it was totally unexpected. A car
accident. He had been driving home from
one of his hotels in Santa Barabara and the highway was blanketed with
fog. He probably couldn’t have seen a
bird on his windshield it was so dense.
There was a ten-car-pileup and he was in the middle of it all. He was in a coma for a week. I visited him once during that time.”
“Why only once?” Brooke asked. "I
thought you were close to your father."
David took in a breath and shrugged. “It was too difficult seeing him like that,”
he said. “The powerful Royce Jennings
reduced to a vegetable. I just couldn’t
bring myself to watch him deteriorate.”
“Were you with him when he died?”
Nodding slowly, David looked at her and then back
at the ground. “I was, yes. I finally decided to risk being
uncomfortable. It’s selfish, isn’t it? I was too uncomfortable to see my
father in that state. Never mind what he
was feeling at the time. I was
Brooke studied his expression and realized there
was more to David Jennings than she’d realized.
She wondered if he’d opened up like this to Miranda. Something told her he hadn’t.
“So the day I went to see him, I walked into his
room, sat down beside the bed, and held his hand,” David continued. “He opened his eyes for the first time in a
week, looked at me, and then he died.”
Brooke’s eyes stung with tears. “He was waiting for
you. He couldn't let go until he saw you again.”
“Do you believe that?”
She nodded and wiped her eyes. “I do.
I don’t believe that God takes us until we have a chance to say
goodbye. Your father hung on because of
Now it was David’s turn to wipe his teary
eyes. He hung his head low, squeezing
his eyes shut when Brooke reached over and enclosed his hand in hers.
The small gathering of guests had assembled on the
flowing green laws of Jordan’s
home in Beverly Hills. Rows of white chairs adorned with pink bows
were filled with friends and family. The
delicate strings of a harp played the wedding march as Jordan and Alex
made their way down the aisle between the rows of chairs. Her in a slimming white satin gown and him in
a dapper black suit. They stopped in
front of the minister and he began the ceremony.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join
this man and this woman…”
Twenty minutes later, they were officially reunited
as husband and wife. The receiving line
moved at a snails pace.
“Third time’s a charm!”
“See if you can make this one stick."
The well-wishes and
thinly veiled digs came fast and furious. While Alex was disappointed that Miranda
hadn’t been there, she understood that she didn’t want to leave James. To
her it was business as usual. The more she told
herself nothing was wrong, the sooner he would wake
“I’m so happy for you,” Marilee said as she
approached and gave Alex a quick squeeze.
A tear formed in her eye and she quickly masked it with a smile and a
“Marilee, are you okay?” Alex asked
sorrowfully. “I would have understood if
you didn’t come. After everything you’ve
“Seth Walker wasn’t the first husband I’ve buried,
Alex dear,” Marilee said bravely. “And
I’m sure he won’t be the last.”
Alex laughed at her friend’s good natured sense of
humor. “I’m sure he won’t be,” she
“But seriously, Darling, I’m so sorry for
everything he put you through,” Marilee continued. “Seth had ways of distracting me.
I feel like a fool for having been so blind to
all blind when it comes to love," Alex said.
turn in line. He shook hands with Jordan.
“Congratulations,” he said and kissed Alex. “It was a beautiful ceremony.”
“Thank you,” Alex replied. “Jack, how are you holding up?”
“Better now that I know Adrienne’s
killer is in hell,” he replied. “I want
to thank you all for everything you did to uncover the truth. I can finally sleep at night knowing her
killer isn’t walking the streets.”
“We’re so sorry about everything,
Jack looked at his watch and jutted
out his hands. “Well I have to go,” he
said. “I want to go by the hospital and
check on James. Then I have a flight to
He shook his head. “I’m moving back to Denver to be with my children. Adrienne’s death has been very hard on
them. I decided to head up the Colorado division of Fallmont Industries
and leave Los Angeles
to my V.P. Too many memories here, you
“We’re sorry to see you go, Jack,”
Alex said and hugged him warmly.
“I can’t believe you’re really
here,” Heather said to her brother as they walked arm in arm on the other side
of the lawn. “I’ve had
Daddy all to myself for so long that I don’t know if I can share him with
Benji laughed as they stopped at the
punch table. “I’m just excited to be
back and to have a normal life. Seeing
you guys once a year and on holidays just wasn't enough.
I missed you. I missed having a family."
“Well you’ve got more family now
than you’ll know what to do with,” she said and rubbed her hand over her
stomach. “Including your niece or nephew
who’s on the way."
about your husband?" Benji asked. "Alex
said he was a descent guy. I guess he must be
if he did what they said he did up on that roof the
mention of Brett made Heather tense. She didn't
know what to do or think about him anymore. Despite
everyone's warnings, she married him with the full belief
that he had changed. His association with Seth
Walker proved otherwise. Now she was back to her inability
to trust him. Only now they were married and she
was carrying his child.
was a hero," Jordan said and approached them. "He
saved your sister's life."
exhaled and shook her head in frustration. It
was odd hearing her father sing Brett's praises. Part
of her thought he was as naive as she had been. "Daddy,
not now. I know you're suddenly Brett's biggest
supporter, but his saving my life doesn't change the
fact that he put it in danger in the first place."
right, he did put your life in danger,"
Jordan said. "And I will never forgive him
for that. He will always be on thin ice
as far as I'm concerned. But anyone who risks
their own life to save my daughter's automatically gets
a second chance with me."
ran her fingers through her hair, more confused than
ever. "You're just saying that because I'm
pregnant with his baby."
I'm not. If I didn't think he loved you, I'd be
the first to tell you that I don't give a damn if he
fathered your baby." A quick pause while
he shifted subjects and pulled both of his children
to his side. "Now what's going on with the
two of you? You aren’t already ganging up on your
old man, are you?”
Heather laughed. “Dad, we’re not kids trying to stay up past
our bedtime. We’re adults having an
Jordan took a deep breath of fresh
air and kissed them both on top of the head.
“I must be the luckiest man alive.
I’ve got my two children with me, the woman I love, and a grandchild on
the way. What more could anyone want?”
Benji smiled and flinched when Jordan pulled
him close and ruffled his hair. They
stopped and Heather placed a hand on her stomach, nausea setting in. She couldn’t tell if it was the pregnancy or
the flu that she suspected she was coming down with.
“Are you okay, Princess?” Jordan asked
and looked at her with concern.
She nodded. ‘”Just a little nauseas,” she replied. “I think it’s probably morning sickness. Daddy, do you mind if I take off early? I’d like to stop by the hospital and check on
Miranda and see how James is doing.”
He kissed her forehead. “Of course not,” he replied. “Give Miranda my love.”
She hugged him and Benji and then
turned and started off to get her car from the valet.
Several feet away, Renee pushed her hand through
Sierra’s hair and admired her beautiful daughter with a tender smile.
“Sweetheart, what is it?” she
asked. “You seem so sad.”
“I think I’ve made a decision,”
Sierra replied, wrapping her arms around herself. “I got offered acceptance to the music
department at Sarah Lawrence.”
Renee couldn’t hide her
New York City? Sierra, I had no idea you were
thinking of leaving. I don't know if I want you
The details were difficult for
Sierra to talk about, but she knew that she owed her mother the best
explanation she could give her. “I need
to get away from here,” she said softly.
“Ever since I showed up on your doorstep it’s been one thing after
Renee felt her throat closing and
she stifled back the tears that threatened her eyes. “You’ve been through a lot,” she said. “More than any young woman should have to go
through. I know most of it is my fault
and I’ll never forgive myself for what it’s done to you.”
“It’s not your fault,” Sierra
insisted. “Well, not entirely. It’s this place. Bad things happen to good people all the
time, but I don’t think I can take anymore.
At least not right now.
I know I have this new family here and all, but
right now I just don't think that I want to know
them. Does that make any sense?"
“Have you talked to Dr. Anderson
Sierra nodded. “He thinks it’s a good idea. It’s not forever. The vocal program is only a year. And the coaches at Sarah
Lawrence are some of the best
in the country.”
“You don’t have to justify yourself
to me,” Renee said and pulled her close.
“You are a brave, intelligent, beautiful, talented young woman and I
want you to have all the opportunities that I had. I know I wasn’t a very good mother when you
were growing up, but I want you to know that I love you more than anything in
A tear fell down Sierra’s cheek and
she clung to Renee with all her might.
“I know you do,” she said.
“I’m going to miss you so much,”
Renee cried, rocking her back and forth in her arms.
Inside the tent, Eddie followed
Stormy around to each food table, picking up one of everything he did.
“Come on, why not?” Eddie asked,
barely noticing the food falling from his top-heavy plate.
“Because I am not a private
investigator,” Stormy insisted. “I’m an
executive at Sunset Studios. I
have responsibilities there. I can’t
just ignore that to be the Fred to your Shaggy.”
“I’m Fred,” Eddie said with a
grin. “You’re Shaggy.”
Groaning, Eddie continued following
him around the reception. “What makes
you think you still have a job at Sunset Studios? Now that Blackthorne-Reynolds is no
longer, your father will probably reclaim his throne in Hollywood.
Then you’ll be back to playing PS3 all day in your underwear. Come be my partner. We’re a good team and you know it. Look how we cracked that Costa Mesa case wide open.”
“Eddie,” Stormy said irately. “No.”
By the time Heather got to the
hospital, she felt worse than before. She
was now convinced that the flu she’d been coming down with for the past few
days was hitting her hard. She headed to
James’s room in the ICU and bumped into Brooke just outside the door.
“Brooke, hi,” she said. “Has there been any change?”
She shook her head. “No, sweetie, there hasn’t,” she
replied. “How was the wedding?”
“It was very nice,” Heather
replied. She started to feel dizzy, the
room spinning and her skin feeling cold and clammy.
“Heather, are you all right?” Brooke
asked when she noticed her start to sway on her feet. “You don’t look so good.”
“No, I’m fine,” she replied, placing
a hand on her forehead and trying to will herself to feel better. She had no time to get sick. There was too much to do with the baby
coming and with the uncertainty over her marriage.
“Maybe you should come sit down,”
Brooke insisted and led her to a row of plastic chairs in the waiting
She followed her slowly, her vision
sudden blurring to the point of blackness.
Her knees buckled and she collapsed to the floor. Brooke darted over and knelt down beside her
in a panic.
“Help!” she called to the nearby
nurses station. “We need some help over
The reception continued, although
Jordan and Alex found time to sneak away from the guests and the paparazzi for
a private moment together under the gazebo.
“So how does it feel being Mrs.
Jordan Rydell?” he said and kissed her.
Alex exaggerated the movements of
hesitation and sighed evasively. “About
the same as it felt the last time I was Mrs. Jordan Rydell,” she joked,
then cracked a smile. “Only this time I
think I’m even more in love with you.”
Jordan gazed out at the wedding
guests and took a deep breath. “So what
do you think went wrong the first time?”
Alex frowned. “Well unless you want this time to start off
badly, I suggest we forget about the past.
Why would you ask such a thing?”
“So we don’t make the same
mistakes,” he replied. “I intend to grow
old with you, Alex Reynolds. I want to
go to film premieres when we’re ninety and we’re both in walkers and our
children have shipped us off to the Actors Retirement Village.”
“As long as your mother isn’t still
there,” Alex said with a wry smile.
offered a hearty laugh. “I have a feeling she probably will be.” He looked into her eyes and grew
serious. “I think we didn’t trust each
other enough. We let the past and our expectations for the worst get in the
“Let’s make things different this
time,” Alex said and took his hand in hers.
“If we agree to be honest with each other and trust each other then
we’ll be halfway there. We’ll already
have a leg up on last time.”
Jordan nodded. “Agreed,” he said. “No secrets, no distrust.”
we can start by you telling me something that I've always
wanted to know, but never got a straight answer about."
that?" Jordan asked and spun her around the gazebo
in a slow waltz.
did Suzanne leave you?"
stopped dead in his tracks and looked at her curiously.
"Why would you ask that? That was twelve
shrugged. "I don't know. I guess with
Benji coming home I couldn't help but think about it.
She left without a word to anyone."
continued taking her around the gazebo, masking the
anguish behind his eyes. "She
wasn't mentally well, you know that," he replied
easily. "'We'd been having problems and she
did you tell your children about why she left?"
said what I had to say. I didn't want them knowing
the truth, that their mother was unbalanced."
why would she leave her children like that?" Alex
asked. "That's what I don't understand. Even
if she had emotional problems, she wouldn't just up
and leave her children without ever seeing them again."
Why is this important? You never really
liked Suzanne to begin with."
shrugged and decided to drop it yet again. It
seemed that anytime Jordan's first wife came up in conversation
he was quick to change the subject. She realized
that Suzanne's leaving must have broken his heart
so badly that the very thought of her was
too difficult for him. They had been very much
in love during their marriage. The fact
that he could be so destroyed over it made her
love him even more.
have a toxoplasma infection,” Dr. Farraday said, taking care so as to explain
himself clearly. “The flu-like symptoms
you’ve been having are not an uncommon side affect from toxoplasmosis.”
is it?” Heather asked, terrified. She
was sitting on an exam table with Brooke seated across the room. She
was relieved to have someone there with her. When
she woke up not knowing where she was, she'd never felt
more vulnerable. Brooke had been kind and stayed with
her until the blood tests came back.
a parasite,” he explained. “It usually comes
from exposure to infected water supplies, cats, or from raw meat that’s been contaminated. “
Heather sat on the
table, frozen with fear as she listened.
“I’m going to start
you on an antibiotic called spyramicin,” the doctor explained. “It should clear the infection up fairly
then I’ll be okay?” Heather asked hopefully.
fortunately the antibiotics are very effective.”
looked down at her stomach and then at the doctor. “But what about my baby?” she asked. “Should I be worried?”
Farraday leaned in and folded his hands together. “Congenital
toxoplasmosis affects the fetus inside the placenta. It’s common among women like you who have
come into contact with toxoplasma antibodies for the first time. The fetus is especially at risk after the
first trimester, and you’ve just entered your second.”
my baby’s been exposed to it?” Heather asked and looked over at Brooke with
afraid so,” the doctor said.
the antibiotics will clear it up, right?” Brooke asked. “You said it would help Heather, so it’ll
help the baby too.”
shook his head sorrowfully. “Unfortunately
not. A fetus at this stage of pregnancy
doesn’t have a developed immune system.
The antibodies will be very difficult to treat with medication.”
brought her hands to her mouth and she shook her head in despair. Brooke immediately rose to her feet and put a
comforting hand on hers. “So what will
happen to my baby?” Heather cried, tears flowing down her cheeks. “Dr. Farraday, please. You have to help my baby get better.”
afraid there’s nothing we can do.”
words were like a thousand daggers sticking into her
skin. She immediately thought of the worst case
I lose the baby?”
women do, but many women carry to full term and give birth with few or no
complications,” he explained. “However,
in many cases the infant is born with some form of mental retardation."
news kept getting worse. Heather sobbed
uncontrollably, clinging to Brooke’s arm and trying to get a grasp of what he
was telling her.
know this is difficult to hear,” he said.
“There’s a chance that you could give birth to a normal, healthy
those chances are slim. But you do have choices, Heather.”
She frowned amidst a haze of
women in your position opt to have a therapeutic abortion.”
therapeutic abortion?” she lamented.
“That makes it sound so easy.
It’s not. It’s not easy, Dr.
Farraday! You’re asking me to choose
whether I want to have my baby or kill it before it even has a chance
to be born! How can you ask me to do
don’t have to decide right now,” he said.
“We have a small window of time before we have to make a decision. You should talk it over with your
husband. Search your feelings,
Heather. Ask yourself if you can give
the same love and affection to this baby if it turns out that something is
wrong with him. If the answer is no, It
doesn’t make you a bad person or a selfish person. Millions of women opt to terminate in this
shook her head sorrowfully. She honestly
didn’t know the answer to his question.
Did she want to bring a baby into the world knowing full well that
there was a chance he could live a life that was incomplete or filled with
emotional pain? It seemed cruel to think
she thought about Brett and how much he wanted this baby. He’d been destroyed when Miranda had her
miscarriage. How could she terminate
this pregnancy and see that same voided look in her husband’s eyes? It broke her heart to think about it.
you'd like, we can perform an amniocentesis to detect any abnormalities. If a birth defect or mental retardation are present,
we’ll know. Then you can make your
decision based on that.”
shook her head and stood up. “I don’t
want any tests,” she said. “I don’t want
a test to be the deciding factor of whether I’m going to keep this baby or not. I’m sorry, Dr. Farraday, but I can’t.”
maybe you should just have the test. At
least that way you’ll know,” Brooke said.
“At least think about it.”
shook her head in agony. The decision
was impossible. Now
all she could think about was Madam Valda and her predictions
of the future. She'd told her that her offspring
would suffer for her sins. It seemed that now
that prediction was a reality.
After leaving a
somber Heather at the hospital, Brooke went back to her suite at Hotel Terranova to finish getting her
things packed up for the move.
Surprisingly, she didn’t have much to pack. Most of her belongings went
straight into storage when
she married James. Her apartment in
Sherman Oaks didn’t hold much so she didn’t have alot to her name. Material possessions weren’t really what she
cared about anyway. She had
memories. Memories of her life before it
came to such a boil.
put Michael down for a nap and sent the nanny to her room before nestling down
with a black marker and masking tape.
Just as she did, a knock at the door interrupted her duties and she
sighed with frustration. What next? she
thought to herself as she went across the room and pulled open the door.
baby,” said a blonde woman standing in the hall, her arms outstretched.
eyes flashed open in surprise. “Mother!”
at the reception, Kenny found Alex and Jordan and pulled
them off to a corner of the lawn. “I have news,” he said. “I just
talked to my
contact with the state department. We
should go somewhere and talk."
later, Renee joined them in the parlor room inside Jordan's
house. They paced around the room waiting for
Kenny to deliver their fate.
looks like your press conference did some good after all," he began.
"The charges against Stormy and Eddie have
been dropped, but they can't just brush this whole thing under the rug. They're
looking to make an example out of Blackthorne-Reynolds.
Far too many corporations have been caught trading
arms with enemies and all they get is a slap on the
wrist. You're going to have to be the bar that
everyone else is weighed against."
not fair!" Alex guffawed. "Why should
I have to bear the brunt of the government just because
they went too easy on all those companies grandfathered
in during the Clinton administration? Clinton
said it was good for the economy. Now all the
sudden it's worthy of their attention?"
government was very grateful for your
donation to the Land Commission. They’re naming a street after you in Costa Mesa.”
“How fitting,” Renee said wryly as
she sipped from a tumbler of bourbon. “Let’s hope it’s a
two-way street. You know, to match your
that donation probably saved your asses," Kenny continued with
apprehension. "The criminal charges were
dropped, but you will have to pay fines. Despite
the technicalities of Walker's influence, on paper it
looks to them as if you were part of the operation.
They're going easy on you by dropping the criminal charges,
much in fines are we talking?" Renee asked.
hundred million dollars," Kenny replied, flinching
as if waiting for a boiling pot to explode.
Renee shrieked at the top of her lungs. "That's
better than prison," Kenny insisted.
hundred million dollars?" Jordan demanded. "We
don't have that kind of money. Even if James,
Renee, Alex and I pool our money together, we'll be
bordering on bankruptcy."
isn't as bad as all that," Kenny insisted. "The
sale of Blackthorne-Reynolds will knock that
down to seventy-five million."
brilliant!" Renee exclaimed and turned to Alex.
"I hope you're happy. Because of you,
this fifteen million dollar investment of mine
just cost me that plus an additional twenty-five
million. I could kick your ass."
it on, bitch," Alex said defiantly.
knew about this, didn't you?" Renee demanded angrily.
"That's what all that talk was at your press
conference about leaving Blackthorne-Reynolds
to be shut down. You knew that we'd need to liquidate
it to pay these absurd fines. You've been in talks
with the state deparment all week, haven't you?"
had to do something," Alex insisted, realizing
that she couldn't hide the truth. "They said
if I surrendered the land they wouldn't press criminal
charges. And I knew that the fines were going
to be steep. We had to sell off Blackthorne-Reynolds
to make even a dent in them. Otherwise we'd be
in worse shape than we are now."
thanks for letting the rest of us in on your little
deal," Renee said and folded her arms with a scowl.
we'll come up with something," Alex said and chewed
nervously on her fingernails. "I mean, we're
all wealthy, successful people. Surely we can
think of a way to come up with twenty-five million dollars
apiece and not have it affect our livelihoods. Renee,
you still own Merteuil Industries, and James
has Sunset Studios."
what about you?" Renee asked. "How
on earth are you going to contribute to the Seth
Walker Screwed Us Fund? You have your house in Malibu,
but that's a few million tops. As usual
you are inept on every level, Alex. A complete
waste of skin. And mark my words, I will not rest
until I destroy whatever is left of your miserable existance."
planted her hands on her hips and gave her an imperious
scowl. "I'll have you know I am perfectly
capable of contributing. I did have a career before
this whole mess started, you know."
all looked at her, skepticism evident in their raised
just go back to work. The world's been waiting
for my big return to the silver screen, and that's what
I'll give them. Alex Reynolds has officially returned
from her sabatical from showbusiness."
anyone could respond, Stormy
darted into the room. He
looked at them blankly, glancing at his cell phone and then back at them. “We have to get to the hospital,” he
looked at him knowingly. The tone in his
voice and the look on his face was enough to make them crawl out of their skin
They gathered in the waiting room and paced
back and forth, some permitted to go in and see James and others not. When Alex and Stormy entered the room, they
saw Miranda seated beside the bed with James's hand in
hers. Tears flowed from her eyes and she
sobbed when he saw them.
in the hall, Dr. Farraday spoke with Renee and Jordan. “He’s out of the woods,” he said happily. “Just the fact that he woke up on his own is
a miracle. The internal bleeding is
under control and his kidneys are responding to the medication.”
shut her eyes and clung to Jordan
with tears in her eyes. “Thank God,” she whispered.
“Family only right
now,” Dr. Farraday continued. “But I’m
sure that all of you being here means the world to James."
relieved, gazing through the window into the room where Stormy sat holding his
look very handsome,” James said weakly and looked into his son’s eyes.
take after my old man,” Stormy said and beamed happily. He felt his eyes burn and he took a deep
breath in an effort to maintain his composure. He’d never felt so relieved in his life. They’d came so close to losing him,
and only then had he realized that he'd often taken
their relationship for granted. Why did it take
a tragedy to bring family closer?
walked over and sat down next to him.
“James, save your strength,” she said and squeezed his hand. “Save your strength so you can get home and
take care of your family. They need you. We all need you."
James said through clouded eyes. “You’re
wearing a wedding dress.”
sniffed and sucked in her tears. “I got
married this afternoon.”
James asked and attempted to laugh.
“Who’s the lucky guy?”
said and smiled. “We decided to give it another go around.”
always did love you,” James said through a fit of grunts and deep
breaths. “He’s loved you for years.”
you won me over first, didn’t you?” Alex asked.
I'm sorry that things went so wrong for us." His
voice was weak, every word a struggle for him to speak.
kissed him on the cheek. "But we'll always be in each other's lives,"
she said. "We have children together and
for that I will always love you."
happened to Walker?" James asked, suddenly remembering
how he got there in the first place. He remembered
walking into Leigh's hotel room and seeing her dead
on the floor. He remembered picking up the phone
to call the police. After that it was all a blank. "We
have to stop him. He shot me. He shot...Leigh."
Alex said. "He's dead. Seth is dead
and he can't hurt us again."
you need to save your energy,” Miranda said and walked back to his bedside.
"Try not to talk."
little girl," James said and coughed. "Always
looking out for her dad."
I always will,” she said, relieved that he was awake and had a positive
prognosis from Dr. Farraday. Finally she
could breathe. Finally this nightmare was over.
is Brooke?" James asked, his eyes shifting around
the room. "Is Brooke here?"
Brooke's not here," Miranda said, wondering if he was only asking
because he was so doped up on medication. They
certainly hadn't had a civil relationship as of late
so she couldn't imagine he would want her there. "So
don't worry, Daddy. Brooke is out of your life
forever. You never have to see her again if you
don't want to."
shook his head. "I want to see her. I have
to make her understand. I have to tell her how
sorry I am for everything."
pushed his hair from his eyes and forced a smile over
her rigid expression. She prayed that during his
brush with death he hadn't come to some kind of revelation
that would lead him to forget about everything Brooke
Taylor had done to him. That would be the worst
thing that could happen apart from his dying.
tell her, Daddy," she said through pursed lips.
you have to. I have to make things right with
everyone that I've..." He stopped, grimacing
in pain, coughing a deep rooted cough that pulled at
his stitches. Once it subsided he took a breath
and continued. "I died, Miranda. I
died and went to heaven and saw so many people. Georgie
was there, and your grandparents, and Jonas, and-"
Miranda said and placed a finger over his mouth. She
was positive that he had dreamt whatever it was he thought
he saw. He'd been out of it for almost a week.
Any number of things could have gone through his
head, including the belief that he had gone to the hereafter.
Whatever it was, she was just happy to have him
home from the hospital and found Brett waiting for her. He came out of the bedroom, unbuttoning his
shirt and wondering if she was about to unleash on him again.
was the wedding?” he asked.
was fine," she said, dropping her purse onto the
sofa. "I went to the hospital afterwards
and checked on James."
is he?" Brett asked. "Has there been
slowly. “He woke up. The doctors think he’s going to recover.”
he said. “I can
imagine what a relief this is to Miranda.”
Heather walked to
the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water. She felt numb. The news Dr. Farraday had
delivered weighed heavily on her mind.
She couldn’t think of anything else, even muster the elation necessary
to celebrate in James’s recovery.
“Are you okay?”
Brett asked when he detected the somberness in her face. “Are you feeling all right?”
She nodded. “I’m fine.”
with the baby?”
fine,” she said. She couldn’t bring
herself to tell him the truth. He’d
already lost a baby. How could she tell
him that theirs was in jeopardy? He
would be destroyed. He wanted this baby
more than anything, and she was determined to give it to him. Nothing
else mattered to her now.
“When do you see
the doctor?” Brett asked. “For a checkup, I mean. I’d love to go with you. I want to be with you every step of the way
during this pregnancy.”
She forced herself
to smile in an effort to ease any worries he might have. “I already did,” she said. “They said everything was fine. There shouldn’t be any problems.”
Brett smiled with
relief and pulled her into an embrace.
“I’m so happy to hear that,” he said and kissed her warmly. “I guess after everything that’s gone on
lately, we deserve this, don’t we?” When she didn't pull away as she had
every time he got close to her recently, he began to
realize that maybe she was softening towards him. Maybe
she could learn to trust him again.
fought back the tears, staring
off in a daze and praying that by some
miracle their baby would be born happy and healthy. Doctors could be wrong, couldn’t they?
Benji Rydell had
been away from home since he was six years old.
After his mother left them, Jordan
sent him to boarding school in Switzerland. It was there that he learned manners, class,
distinction, got an excellent education that rivaled any available in America, played on every sports team, was popular with every student in school, messed
around with a lot of girls and a couple of boys when no one was looking, had
his first experience with pot, a messy experience with pills, learned to ride
horses which spawned a passion for polo, went skiing every month in the alps,
broke his leg when he was twelve, broke it again when he was fourteen, got a
tattoo from a Swedish whore in the neighboring village, grew a foot taller when
he turned sixteen, got an STD from the Swedish whore, cheated off his roommate
on a final exam in the eleventh grade, got his roommate expelled but not before
sleeping with his girlfriend and getting her pregnant and paying for an
abortion with money from Jordan that he said was for skiing lessons, found out
that he was far more well-endowed than most men, learned that
teachers were easily bought when your father was a Hollywood film producer, got
in thirty-two fist-fights since the age of eight, blackmailed the headmaster
after finding her in a compromising position with a jar of peanut butter and
her golden retriever, started the rumor that the cafeteria had rats, learned
how to get candy from the vending machines without paying, rarely wore his
uniform in the required manner, stole from the Gap, started the fire that
burned the stables down in 2004, bragged to his friends that his sister was the
one who killed Will Thomerson, bragged that his step-mother was Alex Reynolds, thought he had poison ivy and then found out it was an STD,
hacked into the school computer and changed his grades, slept with the dean of
discipline’s daughter even though she said she didn’t want to, was forced to
graduate early and was politely asked to never come back and to please skip the
graduation ceremony the following summer.
Now here he was
back in Beverly Hills. After the tediousness of the wedding
reception, he went up to his bedroom.
There he lay on his bed talking on the phone with
Duke Summerfield, a friend from
“Sure it feels
weird being back,” he said and lit a joint.
“My dad’s acting like he’s Ward Cleaver and my step-mom is totally
overcompensating. They keep saying how
happy they are and how we’re going to be one big happy family.” A pause while he laughed. “It’s like
a Mentos commercial."
“So what are you
going to do now that you’re out of school?” Duke asked over the
phone. “Go to college?”
and inhaled deeply from the joint. “No
way,” he said with a frown. “I’m going
to take it easy. My dad’s so eager to make it up to me for
shipping me off to Switzerland
for twelve years that I can probably get away with anything and he wouldn’t say
“Sounds like you’ve
got it made,” said his friend. “Just don’t do anything to screw it up.”
Benji shook his
head and stared at the joint. “Believe
me, I won’t,” he said. “I plan on being
an exemplary son. I’m going to make nice with my step
mother and my sister, I'm going to say please and thank you, and I’m going to stay out of trouble.” He got up off the bed and went to the window,
staring outside at Jordan who had just returned home and was climbing out of
his car in the front drive. “And then,
when he least expects it, I’m going to make my father pay for what he did to my
Jordan left Alex at the
hospital with Stormy and Miranda, believing she needed time with her children
before leaving James who was now recovering.
His talk with Alex earlier
about trust weighed heavily on his mind. Plus
the fact that she was so curious about Suzanne's leaving
made him realize that they were starting their second
marriage with more lies and more deceit. Nothing
had changed. With all the questions that Alex
posed to him, he couldn't help but think of his and
Suzanne’s first meeting in 1981, and how in love with her he'd been...
Lola cornered Jordan by the gazebo where he
played a crochet match with Renee Merteuil.
She pulled a young woman along with her, nudging her before her son as
if offering a prize.
"Darling, look who it is,” Lola said with a grin.
said with a smile as he extended his hand to the ravishing brunette. “How are you?”
“I’m well,” replied Suzanne Rogers, an eighteen year
old brunette and former star of the daytime drama, The Young at Heart. She was now starring with Nathan in another
of Jonas’s current productions, Happy Neighbors.
“Do the two of you know each other?” Lola asked,
surprised that her match making skills were so finely tuned. Maybe her intrusion wasn’t necessary. Maybe Jordan wouldn’t be so dumb as to
fall for Mary Ann McCormack, or Alex Reynolds of whatever she was calling
herself these days.
“Yeah, I met Suzanne the other day on the set with
Nathan,” Jordan said, finding the young woman to be startlingly beautiful. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her.
“How lovely,” Lola said. “Well, I should leave the two of you
alone. I’m sure you have a lot to talk
about.” She kissed Jordan on the
cheek and sauntered off to join her husband.
“I wonder what that was all about,” Suzanne said with a
grin and waved a polite hello to Renee.
Jordan blushed and dug his hands into his pockets. “She’s always trying to fix me up. I guess she just worries about me.”
“I think it’s sweet.”
“Nothing about Lola Lamont is sweet,” he said and quickly switched
subjects. “This isn’t the first film of
Jonas’s you’ve done, is it?”
Suzanne shook her head and flashed her effortless smile
at him. “No, I was in Hollow Tree. Just a small part, but I had a great
time. Wasn’t your brother in that too?”
“Half brother,” Jordan corrected her. “Troy
is Lola’s son from her first marriage.”
She smiled sweetly and began plucking petals from a
single white Shasta daisy. Jordan
watched her carefully, finding Suzanne Rogers to be refreshingly sweet…
his house, Jordan made his way up to the attic. He
went to the center of the room and knelt down to the
behind to make sure he was alone, he pulled a loose wooden plank
from the floor, reached into a large hidden hole beneath the attic, and removed a
small gold chain with a locket on the end.
The compartment inside the locket was empty. The back was inscribed with a single
phrase. My Darling Suzanne - All
back into the crevasse in the floor, he slowly removed another object. This one
larger and heavier. The long wooden
handle felt cold in his hand. The razor
sharp blade came close to piercing the skin of his finger when he touched it.
held the axe in his hands and began trembling.
His eyes focused
disturbing images from the past. Squeezing his eyes shut, he lowered the axe
back into the hole in the floor and quickly replaced the wooden planks. He climbed to his feet and dusted off his
pants before starting to the attic stairs.
wanted to know what happened to Suzanne. She wanted
to know the secret. But some
secrets were better left just that, he decided. Secret.
news,” Brooke said, gripping the phone tightly in her hand. “Yes, thank you for calling, Kenny.”
“What was that
about?” asked her mother from across the room.
Brooke set the
phone down and turned, distracted.
“James woke up from the coma.
They think he’ll pull through.”
Roz Taylor bounced Michael in
her arms and crossed the room toward her daughter. “Well what are you waiting for?” she
asked. “Get over to that hospital and
see him. He is still your husband, after
Brooke rolled her
eyes. “Mom, I don’t want to get into
it,” she said, still in disbelief that her mother was standing there in her
living room. Her visit was unexpected to say the
least. “James and I are divorcing. You know that.”
“All I’m saying
is-“ Roz began before Brooke held up a hand in protest. “Okay, I’ll stay out of it.”
“Mom, what are you
even doing here?”
“A mother can’t
come visit her daughter?” Roz asked.
She was an attractive woman in her mid fifties with blond hair and
a buxom figure. Her clothes were simple
but classy, her jewels modest but plentiful.
She’d been on the high end of middle class for some time, but still
managed to appear unaffected by her daughter’s lavish surroundings.
“Where’s Dad?” she
“On the road,” Roz
explained. “The life of a salesman, you
know. I think it’s Detroit this week. Or
maybe Dubuque. But anyway, I know you’ve been saying you
would come for a visit soon, only I couldn’t wait, so I hopped on a plane to
come see you and my grandson. And by the
looks of it, I’m just in time.”
“For what?” Brooke
asked and ran her fingers through her hair.
She loved her mother and had a fair relationship with her, but she
exasperated her. Having her show up
during such a chaotic time in her life was the last thing she needed.
“To help you move,”
Roz replied and handed Michael off to her.
“This guy looks like he’s ready for dinner, so you feed
I’ll do some packing.”
Brooke was too
tired to argue. She turned and went into
the small kitchenette to make dinner for MIchael.
Roz sat down on the sofa and opened a box of photos, letters, and
She paused before
stretching the tape across the length of the box, picked up a stack of pictures
and smiled while leafing through them.
One in particular of Brooke as a young girl, blond pigtails and a pretty
blue ruffled dress caught her attention.
She was posing while standing on a dock at a lake somewhere.
called into the kitchen. “Where’d you
get these pictures?”
Brooke asked from the doorway.
“In the copy paper
box,” said her mother. “I haven’t seen
some of them for fifteen years.”
while peeling an apple. “I
think I took those from Nana's house after her funeral.
I always meant to go through them but it was just
“I was just curious,"
her mother said distantly.
Shaking her head,
Brooke returned to the kitchen. “I don’t even know why I hang on to them. It all
just sits in a box getting musty. Maybe you want
to take them home with you when you leave.” She
hoped that her remark would open up a discussion as
to exactly when her mother was planning on going
home to Flagstaff. After a few tell-tale seconds,
she realized it wasn't to be.
Turning the photo
over, Roz read the handwritten scribbles on the back.
Babydoll, Big Bear Lake,
placed the picture back in the box and quickly secured it shut
with many strips of packing tape.
"I think I will take them with me," she said
use having any of this around cluttering up your new
Blackthorne had seen the white light in the moments
after he was shot. There were floating clouds,
angels with harps, and a golden archway welcoming him
to the afterlife. They taught him that he would
feel peace, that he would be reunited
with loved ones, and that he would
have to answer for his sins. They taught him that he
could look down on those he left behind and see into
he did, he
saw his daughter Miranda sitting vigilantly by his side,
reading to him from The Tempest,
their favorite Shakespearean play. Alex, the woman whose heart he'd stolen,
pouring over the casting calls in the daily trade paper
in search of meaning and retribution. Stormy,
hard at work at the studio in a
constant attempt at earning the love and respect
of his father. He
saw his friend Renee, sorrowfully watching her daughter
pack her suitcase, anguished over the misery she'd
created by her own love for her. Brooke, the woman who he'd planned on spending eternity
with, secretly smiling as she watched her estranged
mother playing quietly with her grandson on the floor.
His nephew Ethan, forever lovelorn while staring
symbolically at a portrait of his true love. David, visiting the grave of his father,
wishing for another chance to say goodbye. He
saw his best friend Jack, staring out the window of
his private jet and speaking a silent goodbye to a closed
in his life. His business associate Marilee, weeping in the solitude
of her malibu mansion over the loss of another husband and over the
prospect of being alone again. Lola, the forgotten
actress from another time sitting alone in her retirement
home while thinking of the life that
she once had. He
saw Brett and Heather, mending their broken vows in
a tender moment on the sofa. And he saw Nathan,
idol, trapped behind cold steel bars in his
prison cell wondering if freedom was ever a possibility.
once he saw the loved ones he was leaving behind....he
realized that he wasn't ready.
from Los Angeles,
a light snow fell from the sky, blanketing the ground and muffling the sounds
of city streets, cars honking and the hustle and bustle of a cold December
penthouse apartment was ornate, meticulously decorated and filled
with pre-war charm. A
shelf of golden statuettes lined the entry. Nothing was out of
place and there wasn’t a thing that didn’t scream old money. From the rows of books in the library to the
crystal chandeliers in the foyer, to the old fashioned phone that rang next to
the window in her bedroom.
three rings she picked up the ivory tusk receiver with a perfectly manicured
hand. Removing the Harry
Winston earring from her
right ear, she spoke softly and properly.
Blackthorne woke up from his coma.” The
caller was male and someone she knew. “He’s
going to make it.”
long pause while she processed the information.
see,” she said with a certain amount of detatchment.
pause. Longer this time.
are you going to do now?” the caller asked her.
crossed her long legs and tapped her fingers on the desk, the sparkle from her
giant ruby ring catching her eye while she was distracted in her own
just have to find another way.”
you coming here?” he asked.
she replied. “I need to take care of
some things first.”
what?” the man asked.
wound the phone cord through her fingers.
“I’ll call you in a few weeks.”
line went dead and she hung up, tracing her ruby-ringed finger along the phone.