PART 11

A new morning had arrived with sunshine. Stephanie felt depressed as she sat down, alone, by the dining table. The table was set up for the whole family like always, but there was only one plate there. Stephanie sat down and took the morning paper. There was nothing interesting on the front page, but she read it anyhow. She looked up as Helen walked in with two extra plates.
”What are those for?” Stephanie asked curiously.
”Rick called. He’s at the guesthouse with Miss Shannon. They will join you for breakfast”. Stephanie smiled. At least she wasn’t alone now, and she had looked forward to meeting the young woman that had been staying at her guesthouse for the last week. Rick and Shannon walked inside and Stephanie got up from her chair.
”Good morning” she greeted.
”Good morning” Rick replied. “I want you to meet Shannon Davis. Shannon, this is Stephanie Forrester, my stepmother”. Stephanie and Shannon shook hands.
”Please, sit down” Stephanie said and the three took place around the big table. ”I didn’t know you were here” she continued, facing Rick.
”Well, I decided to stay over” he answered a little embarrassed. Stephanie smiled at it. She could see the two of them obviously had feelings for each other, but that it was very new. She remembered the feeling as she had felt it with Eric when she first met him. As Rick reached for the bread, Stephanie noted that he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring.
”Have you been able to see Little Eric?” Stephanie asked, avoiding asking right out if he and Amber were even seeing each other anymore.
”He’s at home. The strangest thing happened yesterday actually. Amber came to Forrester to say good-bye. She said she had to leave town and wanted Eric to stay with me while she was gone”.
”That doesn’t sound like Amber”.
”I know. She would never leave Eric for anything.”
”You don’t suppose she was threatened to leave?”
”Threatened?”
”That’s the only reason I can think of that would make Amber leave the baby. Did she say where she was going? How long she would be gone?”
”No, she was very mysterious about it all”.
”Who do you suppose would threaten her?” Shannon asked.
”Sheila?” Rick suggested concerned.
”Who’s Sheila?”
”You’re better off not knowing that” Stephanie sighed.
”Maybe I should call the police? See if there is any possibility that Sheila is behind Amber’s disappearance…” Rick said and went to make the call. Stephanie looked worried, which confused Shannon.
”Is this Sheila dangerous?”
”Very. But don’t worry. She’s in prison. I don’t think she can be able to escape again.”
”Again?” Shannon noted nervously. Of the conversation she had witnessed, there was every reason in the world to be concerned.
”The guards at the prison know to observe Sheila carefully. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about” Stephanie said confidant.
Rick came back looking reassured.
”It’s not Sheila” he said.
”There you go”.
”But there’s still something very strange about Amber leaving so sudden”.

Brooke got to the office at Forrester. She was determined to put the other night out of her head. But it was hard. Megan buzzed her as she was in deep thought.
”What is it Megan?”
”You have a visitor”
”Who is it?” Brooke asked, but didn’t have to wait long. A woman with light brown hair and eyes of a tiger stormed into her office. Brooke didn’t know what to think.
”Who the hell do you think you are?” the woman asked.
”Excuse me?” Brooke asked bewildered.
”I saw you last night. With my husband”.
”I’m not sure what you are yelling about” Brooke said offended by the woman’s actions and accusing words.
”You have an affair with my husband, and don’t pretend otherwise. I saw you with him last night, you little skank”. That last little remark made Brooke angry, but she played it cool.
”Who is your husband?”
”Are you sleeping with so many men that you don’t know who I’m referring to?”
”I am not sleeping with anyone, and I really want you to get the hell out of my office. Now, or I’ll call security”.
”I wish Eddie could see you right now”, the woman said and sneered.
”Eddie? Edmund Kelly is your husband?” Brooke asked cooler. The woman raised her hand to show off a wedding ring of diamonds.
”What does this tell you?”
”It tells me you’re married to a rapist. Your husband tried to rape me last night”.
”I don’t believe you”.
”Then don’t. I don’t care what you think. I don’t want anything to do with you or your husband ever again. Get out!”
Brooke could tell she had shocked the woman. She almost broke down right there. Brooke immediately lost her anger towards the woman and realized how she must feel knowing her husband was a rapist.
”I’m sorry” Brooke said and went over to the woman.
”No, don’t touch me. Don’t touch me!” the woman cried out. She had had suspicions about her husband cheating on her many times before, but not until now had those been proven true. Megan knocked at the door, as she was worried about the shouting from Brooke’s office. Brooke shook her head at Megan, as a sign to leave them alone. Megan shut the door behind her.
”Why did you go out with him?” the woman asked.
”We knew each other from school and he asked me out. I didn’t know he was married.”
”I’m sure he did a pretty good job at hiding it” the woman said hateful of her husband.
”We’re both victims.”
”He tried to rape you?” she asked, not wanting to believe it.
”Yes. And he would have succeeded if a friend of mine hadn’t showed up.”
The woman shook her head and started crying again. Brooke tried to reach out to her again, but was met with anger.
”I don’t believe you!” she screamed and ran out of the office.
”What was that all about?” Megan asked as she walked back into the office.
”A woman in denial” Brooke answered.

Stephanie returned to Thorne’s hospital room. He was ready to go home again. He was strapped up in a wheelchair but didn’t look too happy about that. Stephanie remembered how difficult it had been for her to accept that she had to sit in a wheelchair back when she had her stroke. Now, Thorne was in the same situation and he reacted in the same way she had.
Stephanie had signed the release papers, so she only had to take him home. Rick was waiting in the car at the parking lot to help get Thorne in the car. Stephanie talked casually to Thorne on her way out of the hospital, rolling the wheelchair ahead of her. Thorne wasn’t really listening. Stephanie knew he was depressed, it was obvious. Maybe there was a way to help out a little?
She headed for the gift shop with Thorne and parked his chair outside and walked inside herself. After a few minutes, she came out with a bag full of movies on DVD Thorne would enjoy and a Tigger stuffed animal. The last one wasn’t really for Thorne… She put the bag in Thorne’s lap and continued walking out to the car where Rick met up with them.
”What is this you’ve got here?” Rick asked Thorne as he took the bag.
”Just a few things to cheer him up”.
”And I’m sure Tigger will do just that”, Rick teased.
”It’s for the baby” Stephanie reassured.
”Oh, that’s right. I almost forgot that you’re about to become a father. That’s good. Now you have someone to fight for”. Thorne looked a little less depressed now as he saw the effort everyone were making for him.
”Did everything go okay?” Rick asked.
”Yes, but the strangest thing happened in the gift shop…”
“What?” Rick asked as he opened the door to the backseat for Thorne.
”I don’t know if I was just paranoid, but it felt like everyone were staring at me.”
”Sounds like paranoia” Rick laughed.
”I’m serious” Stephanie said.
They helped get Thorne into the car all right before taking the wheelchair to the back of the car to put it into the baggage compartment. Two women passed them and even Rick could now tell Stephanie hadn’t been paranoid. There was something other than just seeing a famous person in their eyes. Rick knew that look from before, when there had been a scandal in the family.
”I told you” Stephanie said as they jumped into the car.

Eric came by Insomnia to see Bridget. He couldn’t see her anywhere so he went to the counter.
”Excuse me, have you seen Bridget Forrester this morning?” he asked the girl behind the counter.
”She’s upstairs”.
”Thank you” Eric said and headed up. The girl stopped him.
”And you are?”
”I’m her father”
”Oh, Mr. Forrester! I… I didn’t recognize you” the girl said nervously as she realized she was talking to Eric Forrester himself.
”It’s okay” Eric assured.
”I wasn’t expecting a world famous designer to come in my first week here. But I guess I should have since you’re Bridget’s father, but I didn’t expect it. This is an honor, really. I just love your designs and I wish I could afford to wear them myself. They’re really beautiful. Oh, god, am I making you uncomfortable? I realize I am rambling on and on and on and you’re here to see your daughter. I’m really so surprised to see you here, even thought I shouldn’t be. I’m gonna shut up now…”
”And take a deep breath” Eric said jokingly. “It was nice to meet you, Kate”.
”How do you know my name?”
”I can read.”
”Huh?”
”Your name tag.”
”Oh… You must think I’m so embarrassing…”
”Not at all. Can I go up now?”
”Yes, you may” Kate smiled embarrassed. Eric went upstairs. As he was about to knock at Bridget’s door, it opened.
Bridget and C.J were in the middle of a passionate kiss. Bridget felt as this was right, her and C.J. felt good. And she knew he would never hurt her like Deacon had. Bridget felt a deep trust for C.J. and she needed that right now. They went back to when they were children. There were no surprises with C.J. With Deacon, she had loved the surprises and the mystery, but after everything that had happened, she had learned a thing or two about love. A deep friendship could lead into something amazing.
”Excuse me, I didn’t know you were busy…” Eric said from the door. Bridget and C.J. were embarrassed to be interrupted. And caught.
”Dad!” Bridget said stunned.
”Hello” Eric greeted.
”How long have you been standing there?”
”Long enough to realize what you two are doing” he teased, playing concerned.
”We were just…”
”Falling in love?” Eric suggested. He could tell he had caught them off guard with that comment, which he enjoyed.
”What brings you by?” Bridget asked, avoiding the question.
”I just wanted to see my daughter”.
”Then I should go”, C.J said.
”No, you don’t need to leave” Eric said.
”It’s okay. I have work to do”.
”It was good to see you again, C.J”
”Good to see you too, Mr. Forrester” C.J said as he left. Eric turned back to Bridget.
”So, you and C.J are getting closer?”
”Obviously… Do you have something against it?”
”No, not at all. Actually, I think you two look cute together”.
”Cute? Well, I’m glad you support me. But even if you didn’t, it wouldn’t make a difference”.
”Oh, I know. I know. Are you happy?”
”I’m happy with how my life looks right now, and that’s all I’m gonna say”.
”That’s good enough for me”.

Ridge was trapped in his temporary office in Tokyo, Japan. He had been surprised to even find out he had gotten an office there, as it meant he would stay longer than he had planned. He had started wondering why Massimo sent him there in the first place. He felt as though his work could have been handled by anyone at Marone Industries and didn’t see the point in him going. Ridge had speculated a few times that Massimo had sent him there to get him away from Brooke, but it didn’t bother Ridge. He knew there was nothing Massimo could do to make Brooke stop loving him.
”Excuse me, Mr. Forrester”, a short Japanese man said in his Japanese accent.
”Yes, Mr. Torshibi?”
”I got the report that you asked for”
”Thank you. Have the construction found the progress files for last year yet?”
”No, they have not. I fear they are lost”.
”Maybe we have copies over in Los Angeles, or maybe the Rome office.”
”Mr. Marone said no, there are no copies.”
”Well, maybe we don’t need them. It shouldn’t take very long in getting new numbers anyhow”.
”Maybe two weeks”.
”Are you sure you need them right away?”
”Yes, we need to make a new budget for next year”.
”Then we will get the reports redone. Thank you, Mr. Torshibi”, Ridge said and the little Japanese walked out of his office. Ridge sighed. He didn’t understand how the progress reports of last year hadn’t got copies anywhere and how they had to do them all over again. Very careless, Ridge thought. Or was Massimo deliberately trying to keep him in Tokyo?

Nick walked up to Brooke’s office at Forrester and was let inside.
”Nick!” Brooke said cheerfully.
”You seem to feel a lot better today”.
”I am moving on.”
”Good for you. And burying yourself in work help you do that?”
”Partly, yes. You are the other part. You stopped that creep from raping me.”
”Yes, I rode in on my white horse and saved the day”.
”Which makes you my knight in shining armor.”
”Yeah, that’s me. Your every day hero” Nick said and blinked his right eye at her charmingly. Brooke couldn’t help but smile at him.
”Now, honestly, how are you?” he asked, getting serious.
”I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there” Brooke revealed, letting go of her strong attitude. “Truth is, I have you to thank for a lot. If you hadn’t come in, I don’t know what I would have done. So, to thank you, I am treating you to dinner tonight.”
”Just a dinner? Here I save your life, and all I get is a dinner?” he joked.
”What do you suggest I owe you, Captain Payne?”
”I don’t know… How about a new telephone? Mine isn’t ringing as much as I’d like it to”.
”I’ll think about it. How about a dinner – to start with?”
”I accept your offer”.
”Good, because I wasn’t about to take no as an answer”.
”When and where?”
”My place at 7. And don’t be late!” Brooke said and kissed his cheek. “Go now”.
”You’re giving me orders… I like it!” Nick said and left. Brooke smiled to herself.

Stephanie sat in her office, going through some numbers. As she turned the side, she realized there was a paper missing. She figured it was still in Thorne’s office, as she had gotten the folder from there. So, it was just to make another trip downstairs.
As Stephanie passed the sowing room, she heard women talking. She was about to continue to Thorne’s office when she heard her name being mentioned. She stopped, curious of what they might be saying about her that kept them from working. She made sure they couldn’t see her and listened in.
”How outrageous. I thought she was such a moral lady. I just can’t believe she had an affair with that guy.”
”Look, we don’t know if this is actually true. It’s just a gossip magazine. You know half of these stories are either false or very overstated.”
”Stephanie Forrester isn’t here, Julia, stop sucking up to her”.
”Hey, I do not suck up. I just don’t believe it”.
”Well, I do. Don’t you remember the last time? They said Brooke Logan was going after Ridge again. And what happened?”
”That wasn’t so hard to figure out, she’s always after Ridge.”
Stephanie had heard enough. She walked inside.
”Mrs. Forrester!” Denise, head of the sowing room, exclaimed stunned when she saw Stephanie. She thought for sure they were in trouble now. As Stephanie walked over to Julia and Teresa, she thought Stephanie was going to let them have it. But to her surprise, Stephanie didn’t seem outraged, more embarrassed and determined.
”Give me the magazine” Stephanie ordered Teresa, who immediately obeyed.
Stephanie looked down on the article with her picture next to Tim’s picture. She didn’t have to read it to figure out what it said. She looked up to the sewers again.
”Go back to work”, she said and left, with the magazine.
”I think we just dodged a bullet, there” Teresa said relieved.

”I saw your dad leave” C.J said when he entered Bridget’s room.
”Yeah”
”What did he say? Is he okay with you and me?”
”Yes he is. As long as I’m happy, he’s happy”.
”So I don’t need to be afraid to walk outside by the cars?” C.J asked as Bridget burst out in laughter.
”No, he is not planning on hitting you with his car. But thinking back now, I’d say Deacon got what he deserved…”
”He deserved worse” C.J said in a revengeful voice.
”Let it go, C.J”.
”Maybe”.
”Why don´t you come over here. I have something I´d like to give to you”.
C.J walked over to her.
”What?”
”Myself…” Bridget said smiling. They kissed.

Stephanie returned to her office and sat down with the magazine opened on her desk. She had read thought the small article twice. Stephanie looked through the whole magazine and finally found what she was looking for. She picked up the phone and dialed the number she had underlined.
”Welcome to ‘The Insider’, who would you like to talk to?”
”You’re publisher” Stephanie answered.
”And who may I say is calling?”
”Stephanie Forrester”.
”Hold on”.
Stephanie waited for someone to pick up again. It took a minute and she was just about to hang up when someone picked up.
”James Lewis” a man’s voice said.
”Mr. Lewis, this is Stephanie Forrester. I am sitting here with your newest issue and I was wondering who gave you the story about me?”
”You will have to talk to our chief editor about that. Hold on”.
Stephanie waited once again.
”Victor Sanchez, what can I do for you?”
”Hello, this is Stephanie Forrester. I am wondering who gave you the story about me?”
”Mrs. Forrester. Our policy is not to reveal sources.”
”I don’t care about your policy. Give me a name!”
”I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
”What do you mean, you can’t?”
”I don’t have a name. The source was anonymous. Signed only with a letter”.
”What letter?”
”I can’t tell. It looks like a B. But it could easily be an L or F even.”
”I see. Mr. Sanchez, I would appreciate if you wouldn’t continue reporting about this”.
”I understand how you feel, Mrs. Forrester. But I have a job to do”.
”I know you do. Your job is to find dirt and intimate details on famous people for the world to know so your magazine sells. Integrity and respect is out the window as long as you sell” Stephanie said and hung up the phone. ”B, L or F… Brooke!” Stephanie said angered and stormed out of her office.

Brooke was sitting in her office, looking through some of Kristen’s designs. Brooke had to admit that they were really good. Something she would definitely wear herself. Maybe she should give Kristen more responsibility around the office? Suddenly, Stephanie burst inside.
”Was this your revenge? Eric told you and you just had to pass it along to everybody?”
”What are you talking about, Stephanie?”
”This!” she said angry, and put the magazine on Brooke’s desk. Brooke looked surprised.
”You think I’m behind this?”
”Yes, I do”.
”Well, you’re wrong Stephanie. This may be your style, but it isn’t mine. Maybe you should ask your husband or your lover?” Brooke said tough and the two enemies looked hateful at each other.