Nick arrived back at the Shady Marlin.
"Hi Nick" Christina said as she got up from the bed where she had been reading.
"Where have you been?"
"How did it go?"
"It went well. I think there actually may be a future for us."
"That good, huh? Then maybe this will come in handy..." Christina said as she handed over a wrapped present to him.
"Whatīs this?" Nick wondered.
"Youīll have to open it to find out".
Nick opened the present and looked surprised.
"Youīre serving me with divorcepapers?"
"Isnīt it about time?"
"And youīre sure about this?"
"Absolutely. You have found someone. That was the deal from the beginning, wasnīt it?"
"What about you then?"
"Well, if you and Brooke end up together, then maybe there is a chance for me and Ridge Forrester?" Christina laughed.
"Youīd like that, huh? Your "Mr Perfect"."
"Donīt tease me"
"Well who knows. Ridge would be a fool not to fall for you".
"You flatterer. Just sign the papers already".
"Okay, here we go" Nick said as he signed the documents.
"Here you go" Christina handed him over a bottle of beer.
"Hereīs to you and me. Let us live happily ever after" Nick said as they tosted their divorce.
Next day, Stephanie was getting ready to go to court for the closing arguments. Her attourney Russell Baxter had told her to meet him at the courthouse one hour before the court started. It was soon time to get going. Kristen and Felicia walked downstairs, formally dressed.
"Ready to go?" Kristen asked her mother.
"Yes. Have you seen your father?"
"Not since breakfast. He said he had to take care of something and that heīd be back soon".
"Heīs not joining us?" Felicia asked surprised.
"Maybe heīll meet us at the courthouse?" Kristen suggested.
"Maybe" Stephanie said disappointed.
The door opened and Ridge walked in.
"Hello mother, how are you?"
"Iīve been better" Stephanie answered.
"Well hopefully this will bring up your mood a little" Ridge said as he walked back to the door and held it up and made a gesture for Stephanie to go outside. Stephanie looked puzzled at him but decided not to ask, just go outside. Kristen and Felicia followed.
"Oh my gosh!" Felicia said as she saw her father standing next to a brand new silver colored Jaguar.
"You bought a new car?" Stephanie said.
"I sure did" Eric said.
"But you donīt need a new car" Kristen said.
"Thatīs true. But your mother does."
"Itīs for me?"
"You have to have a car, donīt you?"
"I wouldnīt be too sure about that".
"Come on, mother. You are not going to prison" Ridge said.
"Hereīs the keys" Eric said as he handed her them.
"I think I will let you drive" Stephanie said.
"Oh, just admit it. You bought this car because YOU want it" Stephanie chuckled.
"Well... I thought maybe you could let me borrow it sometime" Eric fessed up.
"Thank you, itīs a very nice gesture" Stephanie told him.
"So letīs get going" Felicia said and jumped into the backseat followed by Kristen and Ridge.
Brooke was at home going through some papers her lawyer had sent over. She was finally going to do it. She was finally moving forward with her life, selling her stock in Forrester and starting anew. As she put her feet up on the sofa and leaned back, she heard a noice coming from the front door. A scratching sound. Before she could think, Brooke stood up and her heart started beating faster. It was something disturbing about the sound. Who was behind the door? There was another scratch and Brooke hurried to the stairs and hid behind it, grabbing a vase on her way down. Her heart was rushing and the adrenaline was pumping. Was she being paranoid? Suddenly the door swung opened and someone walked inside. Brooke peaked up to see who it was. She took a deep breath out as she saw Bridget standing there wondering where Brooke was. Brooke got up on her feet and Bridget was startled.
"Mom, what are you doing there?" Bridget asked stunned. She noticed the vase in Brookeīs hand. "Whatīs going on?" Bridget demanded to know.
"Nothing. Nothing at all. I am just being paranoid."
"You thought I was a burgular?" Bridget questioned.
"Something like that".
"Iīm sorry. I had a problem getting my keys up from my purse. Mom, are you sure you are okay?"
"I will be"
"By selling your stock in Forrester."
"Why not? I need to get away from there."
"I understand. I canīt believe you have managed to stay this long, actually."
"Neither can I. But you know what? All that is over now. I will own 100%, I wonīt have anyone to compromise with and everything will be done in my style. I am very excited about this."
"I am happy for you"
"Thank you, honey"
"Who are you selling to? Dad?"
"No. Lucinda Freeman, you know, our assistant designer, has shown interest and she has been a wonderful friend to me"
"She has the money to buy all your stock?"
"Apparenly so. I think she got a very good settlement when she and her husband divorced."
"Will she take over as CEO?"
"I am not sure what she is planning, but you know what? That isnīt my problem. But I think she will do fine, she seems like a very bright woman".
"Well if there is anything I can do, just let me know."
"Oh I am sure there is something for you"
Everyone was gathered in the courtroom. The closing arguments were next on the agenda. The prosecution started. Stephanie didnīt care to listen to his garbage and focused more on the faces of the jurymembers. Were they going to convict her for murder? Were they going to end her life and take her away from everyone she loves? How could all those people who didnīt even know her make this decision? The prosecutor went over the evidence one by one. The gun belonging to Stephanie, the fingerprints, the gunpowder residue, Timīs past as a male prostitute, Brooke and Shannonīs testimonies, the motive and the opportunity. He made it seem as there was no doubt that Stephanie had killed Tim Cameron in cold blood. He didnīt leave anything out. He ended his argment by pressuring the jury not to clear Stephanie because she was a celebrity, but because she was innocent. But was she innocent? The evidence didnīt point to that.
It was Russell Baxterīs turn to defend Stephanie a final time before the jury. He got up from his chair, straightened his tie and looked at each member of the jury.
"Look at my client. Take a long good look at her. A celebrity? Yes. A powerful and forceful woman? Absolutely. Ruthless at times? Yes. Rich? You bet. A murderer? No. If a woman like Stephanie Forrester wanted someone dead, do you think she would be as stupid as to do it at her house, with witnesses around her? She is a celebrity. Her family is constantly in the press. We all know there are crazy people to go around out there. Crazy people who can form an obsession with celebrities. Stephanie Forrester was framed. By who we donīt know. But she did not pick up a gun and shoot Tim Cameron. Anyone can tamper with evidence. A number of people had access to the Forrester property. We donīt even know how many. A person can climb the gate or come through the rosebushes. My client is guilty of one thing. Bad security. I have already shown you other possibilities. Eric Forrester. The bitter husband. He had motive, opportunity and easy access. Brooke Logan. Bitter enemy. Had motive, opportunity and easy access. A jealous ex-girlfriend of Mr Cameron. An obsessed fanatic. Here is what happened. Stephanie Forrester arrives home. She finds her gun on the ground and naturally picks it up. It is her own gun, why let it lie there? She hears a noice coming from the poolside of the house and walks over there. Tim Cameron is lying in the pool, faced down. My client rushes over there and realizes he is dead. Shannon Davies peeks out of the window of the guesthouse and sees my client by the pool, in shock. She doesnīt see anyone else, because the murderer has already escaped the scene up to one minute before. The gunpowder residue can easily have been smeared on after the gun was fired. Keep in mind that residue was only found on Stephanie Forresterīs right hand. The hand that picked up the gun from the ground when she found it. Had she indeed pulled the trigger, there ought to have been residue on her sleeve as well, as she was wearing long sleeves. But there were none. I grant you we are dealing with a very clever murderer here. But even a clever murderer overlooks things. He, or she, did. But how do we prove that? We have no proof yet, I admit this. But our lack of finding proof should not mean that Stephanie Forrester gets sent to jail for a crime she did not commit. She shouldnīt have to suffer because of our failure. Thank you.
Brooke was almost finished with the documents she was going through when the doorbell rang. She went to open, this time realizing she was just being paranoid. No one was out to hurt her. Edmund Kelly was long gone. He wasnīt going to hurt her and there was nothing to be afraid of.
"Hi, good you could come over" Brooke said as Lucinda walked in.
"Itīs alright. I was over at the courthouse."
"How is that going?"
"Itīs anyoneīs guess. I feel sorry for Stephanie. I donīt get the feeling that she is guilty"
"When will they have a verdict?"
"Soon I guess. They are finished with the closing arguments and are only waiting for the decision."
"Well, I am sure she will be cleared" Brooke said.
"What about you? Have you made a decision?"
"Yes I have. Are you still interested in 51% of Forrester Creations?"
"I sure am".
"Then I suggest we get the ball rolling and call in our lawyers."
The Forrester family arrived back home after another long day at the courthouse.
"I feel like having a drink, does anyone want one?" Felicia asked.
Everyone accepted and sat down in the living room. It was quiet. No one felt like saying anything until Stephanie broke the silence.
"If itīs not too much trouble, I would really like for all of you to stay here tonight" she told her family.
"Of course we will" Ridge said. "Weīre a family, remember?"
"Thank you. Iīm going to take a shower before dinner" Stephanie said and headed upstairs.
The rest of them stayed in the living room and the awkward silence returned. Kristen finally gave up and told the others she wanted to go up and change clothes. As she walked towards her old room, she caught a glimpse of Stephanie standing by the window in the master bedroom, looking out.
"Mom?" Kristen asked as she knocked on the door. Stephanie turned around and smiled lightly.
"How are you?" Kristen wondered.
"Iīm fine. Come here" Stephanie ordered. Kristen walked over and met her mother half-ways as they sat down on the bed.
"My sweet little girl" Stephanie said as she ran her hand through Kristenīs hair.
"You havenīt called me that since I was 7" Kristen remarked.
"When there was that big thunderstorm and you ran in here for comfort"
"And slept right here with you and dad for three nights in a row"
"You were terrified"
"And Ridge was teasing me so much I was determined to sleep in my own room the next night"
"But ended up back here"
"That was because Ridge was scaring me with those sounds he did"
"I love you, Kristen. Always remember that." Stephanie said.
"Mom, donīt talk like that"
"If I get convicted, I just want you to know that"
"I do know it, I do. And I love you too"
"I am so proud of you. I know I havenīt said it to you a lot, but itīs true. I really admire the life you have created with Tony. The sacrifices you have made. And taking in Zende like you did. You are such a sweet angel and I am grateful you are my daughter. I see so much goodness in you" Stephanie said as she dried a tear from Kristenīs cheek. "Thank you for everything youīve brought into my life, sweet girl". Kristen embraced her mother and couldnīt keep the tears from coming. She had wanted to be close to her mother like this all her life. Now that she was, it was overwhelming.
"I donīt want to lose you" Kristen admitted.
"You wonīt. I will always be with you, no matter where I am".
"Whatīs going on here?" Ridge asked as he walked into the master bedroom seeing his younger sister and mother in an embrace.
"We were just remembering old times" Stephanie said.
"Then donīt let me interrupt" he said and turned to walk out.
"No, wait. Stay" Stephanie said.
"Iīll go change my clothes for dinner" Kristen said and excused herself.
"Sit down" Stephanie told Ridge. "I was just thanking Kristen for everything she has brought into our lives. That goes for you too"
"Are you trying to tell me good-bye?" Ridge asked. "Cause if you are, I will not listen to it".
"Ridge... We have to face reality. This may be my last evening here"
"But itīs not. I know itīs not."
"Well even if you are right, it still wonīt hurt if I say this to you. I love you, Ridge. You have been such a big part of my life for a very long time. My first born. I even have a hard time remembering what my life looked like before you came into the world. I was only a teenager myself. I was scared out of my mind about having a child. I had no idea how to take care of a baby."
"And look at how wonderful I turned out" Ridge said with a grin.
"But that wasnīt always the case. You gave me absolute hell when you were a teenager. More than your siblings combined. Well, maybe except for Felicia, but she was only a little girl when you were at your worst. I actually think you are responsible for turning her into a rebel" Stephanie smiled.
"She looked up to her older brother, what can I say?" Ridge said proudly.
"But even despite all the things you used to do, I still knew somewhere that you were going to turn into the man you are today. A wonderful father and a caring and honest man. But I think it was Caroline that made the difference.
"Before Caroline came into my life, I was terrified of commitment. I prefered living as a playboy."
"You really loved her, didnīt you?"
"I still do. And I still think about her every now and then"
"It was such a tragedy that she died. And then you had to lose Taylor too. I saw how you struggled to bounce back. It broke my heart to see you go through it again. But you survived and you stayed strong. I am very impressed with you. I donīt know if I had survived what you had to go through. If I need strenght, I can just look at you and be inspired. Thatīs why I know that you will be fine, no matter what. You will take care of the family, and it gives me a sense of comfort. Just remember that you donīt have to be strong alone. You have a family you can always, always count on."
"I know. Just as I always count on you."
"Thank you. I love you so much" Stephanie said as she hugged Ridge.
"I love you too, mother" Ridge said and hugged his mother back.
Brooke was sitting with a notebook in her lap on the sofa as the doorbell rang. It was Nick. She smiled as he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and went inside.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Coming up with a name for my new baby" Brooke said. Nick looked stunned.
"Youīre pregnant?" he asked.
"No, I was actually referring to the company I will start".
"A new fashionhouse"
"Yes. I have made the decision to sell my stocks in Forrester and use the money to start over"
"A lot of work"
"There sure will be, and it will all be mine" Brooke smiled.
"Sounds interesting. Need any help with the name?"
"Oh yes. There are a lot of good names, but whenever I think of someone for a few minutes it always end up sounding wrong. I want the perfect name".
"What have you come up with so far?"
"The usual. Logan Designs, Brookeīs Belief...." They just donīt sound right.
"How about... "Intensified... by Brooke Logan"" Nick suggested.
"Huh. Intesified? Iīll write it up on my list" Brooke said as she headed back to the sofatable where she had left her notebook, and wrote it down.
"Or Loganstyle? Inspiration?"
"I should have you make this list for me, Mr Ideapopper".
"I didnīt come over for that. I came over actually, to tell you I am about to be a divorced man"
"Christina agreed to a divorce?"
"No, I agreed. She brought me the papers."
"I still donīt understand why you two married".
"Seemed like a good idea at the time. It hasnīt hurt anyone so far... has it?"
"Me? No. It wasnīt a real marriage, so why would I care?" Brooke asked and turned away from him.
"Has anyone ever told you how cute you are when you act jealous?"
"What?" Brooke asked as she looked offended at the idea of being jealous.
"And even more cute when you look mad" Nick said as Brooke chuckled as her annoyness disappeared.
"But nothing beats that smile".
"Whatīs next? I look cute when I cry too?"
"No. Those tears are not becoming on you. And I tend to make sure you never spend one more minute crying".
"I like the sound of that".
"Youīd better, cause I will not accept those tears to return".
The Forresters had finished the dinner. Felicia was back in her room and was sitting before her mirror putting on some nightcream in her face and brushing through her dark hair. As she screwed the lid back on the cremebottle, she saw her motherīs reflection in the mirror. Felicia turned around which was Stephanieīs que to walk inside. She closed the door behind her and sat down on Feliciaīs bed.
"How are you?" Stephanie asked.
"Iīm fine" Felicia replied.
"Do you have a minute or two? I really want to talk to you".
"Of course. What is it?" Felicia asked as she turned around to face the mirror again to check on her eyebrows.
"Could you come sit here with me?" Stephanie asked seriously. Felicia noticed a tone in Stephanieīs voice that she hadnīt heard often before. She turned to Stephanie, looked at her quickly and did as her mother had asked.
"Are you okay?" Felicia asked.
"Iīll be fine. I just need to tell you something."
"If this is about why I havenīt settled down yet..." Felicia started.
"No, thatīs not it. I want to tell you how much you mean to me".
"I already know that".
"No, you donīt. I donīt think you have a clue. My family is my whole life. Iīd be nothing without you, every single one of you."
"Mom, you donīt have to do this"
"Yes I do. And I want to say it. I remember when I was pregnant with you. I had been sick all the time and I went into labour almost a month too early. I was in so much pain and I had to keep in labour because it was too soon for you to come. I fought for 36 hours to keep you inside before you were born. But when the doctors put you in my arms, I forgot all about the pain. You were so perfect it had finally all been worth it. And here you are, so beautiful, so bright, and you are still worth every second, and more." Stephanie said. Felicia smiled.
"36 hours huh?"
"Plus the 5 hours it took for me to realize I was having contractions to the time we got to the hospital. It was in the middle of the night. I thought I had eaten something inappropriate, cause your father had done the cooking. When I woke up your father to tell him I thought it might be contractions, he had me rushed halfways to the car before I reminded him we couldnīt leave Ridge, Thorne and Kristen alone at home. So I took him back inside, and instructed him to call his mother to come to over to babysit which she always offered to do."
"How could it have taken 5 hours to get to the hospital?"
"It was about 3 hours before I realized it was not normal stomachaches I had. Then another hour before we had gotten dressed, packed a few things and for your grandmother to get here. And almost an hour before we got to the hospital since your father missed a turn and then didnīt find the right road until 10 minutes later. It was really dark outside and he wasnīt thinking straight I might add. It was very stressful and we kind of paniced because you were premature."
"Stress and rational thinking doesnīt match"
"Exactly" Stephanie said. They were quiet for a little moment.
"I know you and I havenīt always seen eye to eye about much. We drifted apart somewhere. I always regretted that, but I hadnīt realized how much until now. I should have done more, I should have fought harder to heal our relation" Stephanie admitted.
"Whatīs done is done. That is in the past. I didnīt always make things easy on you. I was a rebel by heart, you know".
"You certainly were. I have actually come to appreciate that. You taking your own way, do exactly what it is that you want to do and not letting anyone stand in your way."
"Sounds like you" Felicia said and laughed.
"Well, maybe we are more alike than anyone of us has ever cared to admit".
"I have always looked up to you. Sure, you drove me insane every other day, but I think that was because you were right and I always refused to accept it, so I went the other way with even more determination to prove you wrong."
"I wanted to be just as headstrong as you were, if not more. And I had too much pride to roll over dead"
"Yes, you sure is my girl" Stephanie said as she nodded her head.
"I take that as a compliment, thank you".
"Iīll let you go to bed now" Stephanie said and hugged Felicia before she got up to leave.
"Mom..." Felicia said and Stephanie turned around.
"I love you" she said as she went over and hugged her mother tightly.
"I love you too, Felicia. I love you so much"
Stephanie returned to the master bedroom. The darkness had covered the sky of Beverly hills and it was a calm night. There was a knock on the door. Stephanie turned around and found Eric standing in the doorway.
"I just need to get a new towel" he said as he went to the master bathroom and got a towel from the closet.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked as he came back from the bathroom holding the towel in his arms.
"Good old times" Stephanie answered.
"Well I should go shower" Eric said and turned to go to his guestroom.
"Could you stay?" Stephanie asked as he was back to the doorway. Eric stopped and walked back in.
"Yes?" he asked, waiting for whatever it was she wanted to say to him.
"I meant, could you stay *here* tonight?"
Eric didnīt say anything so Stephanie quickly continued.
"Only to sleep. I donīt want to be alone tonight, but itīs okay. You donīt have to stay. I understand" Stephanie said and let Eric leave.
"Of course I can stay" Eric finally said.
"Thank you" Stephanie said and relaxed.
"I just need..." Eric said as he lifted the towel.
"Go ahead" Stephanie said as she raised her hand in the direction of the master bathroom. They eyes met for a moment before Eric went into the bathroom.
Nick and Brooke was sitting by the fireplace grilling some marshmallows. They didnīt say much. Brooke had put on a Bryan Adams CD that was playing in the background.
"Very good" Nick says as he took a chew from his marshmallow.
"They should burn for 3 seconds before you kill the fire. Then they are just perfect" Brooke said as she took a chew from her marshmallow.
It was quiet again. Brooke loved how Nick looked in the light of a fire nearby. She felt excited but at the same time safe. He always made her feel protected and special. Maybe he truly was her compass? Her lighthouse.
"You got a little smear here" Nick said as he put his finger on Brookeīs nose and dried it off gently, and kissed the tip of her nose.
"These are messy"
"I love messy" Nick said as he looked deep into her eyes.
"Me too" Brooke replied and met his eyes. They couldnīt take their eyes off each other. The electricity between them was unmistaken. Finally Nick leaned in and gently ran his nosetip across her cheek. Brooke closed her eyes. She couldnīt break away from him even if she tried. Every cell in her body pushed her towards him. Their lips finally met. Slowly and carefully. Nick laid her back on the carpet. Their eyes met again before they mealted into a passionate kiss.
Stephanie was tucked in under the cover. It finally felt right for the first time in many months. Eric was lying on his side of the bed behind her back, Kristen and Felicia was back in Los Angeles. Only Thorne was missing now. But the doctors were hopeful heīd make a good recovery in time. Even Pam was in town. Everything was finally going the way she wanted. But the feeling of bittersweetness was still hanging above it all like a gray cloud.
"Are you sleeping?" Eric whispered.
"No" she replied.
"Come here" he said as he moved over to her side of the bed and laid his arm around her. He always knew the small things to comfort her. She closed her eyes as a single tear representing both sadness and joy rolled down on her pillow.
Brooke woke up as she rays of the sun got in her eyes. She could feel Nickīs arm around her. She realized they had fallen asleep right there on the carpet in each others arms. They hadnīt had sex, but Brooke couldnīt feel better even if they had. Nick was still sleeping. She didnīt want to wake him up, he looked so peaceful. Brooke cosied up to the sofacushin she was resting her head on and just stared at Nick sleeping. What a wonderful moment.
"Good morning!" Felicia said as she opened the door to her parentīs bedroom. Kristen and Ridge followed right behind her.
Stephanie and Eric sat up in bed.
"Dad" Ridge said relieved as he had walked into the guestroom half an hour before and noticed it was empty.
"Whatīs this?" Stephanie asked happily.
"Breakfast on bed" Kristen announced.
"How sweet of you!"
"We have great children. We raised you well" Eric said.
"Move over" Felicia said as she sat down on the bed.
"Make some room for me too" Ridge said as he crawled up on the bed. Kristen followed him.
"When did you decide to do this?" Stephanie asked.
"Yesterday. I was just telling Felicia how long ago since we gathered in here for a breakfast together" Kristen said.
"Yeah, I think it was in 1974" Eric guessed.
"Too long ago" Felicia said.
"Absolutely" Stephanie agreed.
"Here you go, mom. I made these all by myself" Felicia said as she handed Stephanie a bread.
"Mmm, delicious. You made them ALL by yourself?" Stephanie asked as she swallowed a bite.
"You bet I did. I microwaved them using this very finger" Felicia said proudly as the others laughed.
Stephanie walked into Thorneīs hospital room. He was sleeping. Stephanie stroke his hair gently and suddenly his eyes opened. Stephanie smiled at her son.
"Good morning, honey" she said. "How are you?" she asked. Thorne simply looked at her with no more expression than that. "My sweet baby boy..." Stephanie said. "I have to say good-bye to you now. I know you may not understand. I donīt want to leave you like this, but I have no choice. But your father, your siblings, Darla and that gorgeous baby of yours will still be here for you. Your son needs you, Thorne. Thatīs why you have to fight like you have never fought before to get well. I count on you, and I know you can do it. Youīve fought all your life, havenīt you? Ever since you were a child, you had to fight to keep out of your brotherīs shadow. You think you werenīt good enough if you didnīt get the same amount of attention Ridge got. But you know what? You were so much more than good enough. I am very proud of you. You have always stood your ground and had wonderful morals. I just hate to see you like this. It should have been me. I was driving the car, I was the one having that stupid argument with your father over the phone. I can never tell you how sorry I am for what happened to you, and how you had to miss the birth of your own son. I can never give that back to you. There are so much I would like to go back and change. But as it looks I will never get that chance, so I have to accept it. But trust me on this, Thorne. You are not second in my heart. You are a big part of my heart. Each one of you are." Stephanie said as she caressed his cheek. Ridge peeked inside.
"Mother, itīs time now" he said and closed the door again. Stephanie now had tears in her eyes. This was it.
"Always remember that I love you, more than you will ever know" she said and leaned down and kissed his forehead. She looked at him for a few seconds, feeling the lump in her throat getting bigger. Stephanie kissed her fingertips and raised her hand towards him before she left. As the door closed, Thorneīs eyes blinked and his mouth tried to move. He finally was able to get out a sound...
"You arrr... inno...cent".
The judge entered the courtroom. The jury gathered up. It was judging time.
"Have the jury reached a verdict?"
"We have your honor"
Stephanie turned back her head to face her family. Seeing them there gave her the strenght she needed to face what was about to come. She already knew it. She had felt it coming.
"Just say it and be over with it" she said to herself as she stood before the jury.
"On the account of murder in the first degree, we find the defendant, Stephanie Forrester, guilty".