Ridge and Brooke stood in the waiting area, still hugging. Massimo finished his call without being seen by them and headed their way.
”Ridge? How´s your mother and Thorne?”
”Mom is doing fine, but Thorne is worse”.
”I´m sorry to hear that. And I am afraid I have even more bad news for you. I just got a call from General Makibishi and there has been a fire over at the Marone-Makibishi building in Tokyo.”
”A fire? How bad is it?”
“It´s very bad. Total destruction. Aside from costing us millions, many important documents has been destroyed.”
”Damn it, not now!”, Ridge said frustrated.
”We need to send someone over there, someone who knows the business and can represent us. I wish I could go, but…”
”Wait a second here. You´re not saying I must fly off to Tokyo now?”
”I wish I could send someone else, but it would be an insult to Makibishi to send someone else, not to mention a waste of time. You´re the one who´s dealing with them.”
”What about you? Why can´t you go?”
”I have that meeting with General Erener the day after tomorrow. The man is already on his way over to the states.”
”Right… Damn! When will I have to go?”
”At latest, tomorrow morning. Ridge, I realize this is a bad time to go, but I wouldn´t ask if it wasn´t very important. You said yourself Stephanie is fine, and I´m sure Thorne will be okay too. There´s nothing you can do for him anyhow.”
”No, there´s not. Well, I guess I have no choice then.”
”Don´t worry, Ridge. I´ll look after Thorne for you”, Brooke said, trying to make the best of the situation.
”Thank you, Logan”.

Eric walked inside Stephanie´s room.
”Any news on Thorne yet?”, she asked.
”Not medically news, no. But I did overhear something. Sally´s secretary Darla was in with Thorne when I peaked inside. Apparently, she is pregnant with Thorne´s child.”
”Thorne is having a child with Darla? What about Macy?”
”I don´t know. All I heard was that she told Thorne to hang on because their child would need it´s father. I didn´t want to interrupt her in there so I left.”
There was a knock on the door and Darla peaked inside.
”Excuse me, Mr and Mrs Forrester, if I interrupt, but I need to talk to you.”
”Come in”, Stephanie said and Darla shut the door behind her.
”I know you saw me in Thorne´s room, Mr Forrester. Did you hear what I told him?”
”I think I heard you say that you are pregnant with Thorne´s child?”, Eric said.
”That´s right, I am.”
”If you don´t mind me asking, but how did this happen? He was still married to Macy, wasn´t he?”
”Yes he was. What happened between Thorne and I was just one night. He thought his marriage was over and we had a little too much to drink… Later, he found out Macy was still committed to him. Macy wanted their marriage annulled when she found out.”
”How far along are you?”
”4 months.”
”Have you and Thorne discussed what you intend to do?”
”Not really. This is all so new. At first, I was ready to give him up to Thorne and Macy as Macy can´t have children. Now I am focused on raising him myself and if Thorne wants… or can… he can choose if he wants to raise him with me.”
”If he lives…”
”I am so sorry. This must be a very difficult time for you. I just want to let you know that I pray for Thorne. I want him to get through this as much as you do.”
”Thank you, Darla”, Stephanie said and Darla left. ”Well, now I know why Thorne was so quick for forgive me for keeping Ridge´s paternity a secret”.
There was another knock on the door and Ridge walked inside.
”Hey mother, how are you doing?”, Ridge asked as he walked over to her.
”I´ll be fine, as long as Thorne survives.”
”He´d better”, Ridge said.
”What about you? You seem to be in a hurry.”
”I am. I´m going to Tokyo in a couple of hours”.
”Tokyo? Why?”, Eric asked.
”There´s been a fire in the Marone buiding and Massimo needed me to go there”.
”Why you?”
”Apparently, I am the most suited for the job. I know, this is a terrible time for me to take off to Asia, but there´s nothing I can do”.
”When will you be back?”
”I´m not sure yet. But I´m sure it can´t be longer than a day or two. I have to get going now, I haven´t even told the kids yet. I´ll be in touch”, Ridge said as he left.
”Massimo is up to something”, Eric said.
”Up to what?”
”I don´t know. But this seems fishy to me. Why send Ridge all the way to Asia for this important assignment when he has worked for the company for 1 year. And why now?”
”Maybe he didn´t have another option?”
”No, there´s more to this. Massimo Marone is always up to something.”

Brooke arrived home and found Nick in her living room.
”You´re back.”
”Yes, there was nothing more I could do there.”
”There´s no change?”
”No. And Ridge had to go off to Japan. Massimo sent him there.”
”Hope is asleep”
”Good. Thank you so much Nick.”
”No problem. It was quite fun actually.”
”So you don´t mind babysitting again?”
”Are you going to use me as a babysitter now? I said it was fun, but that doesn’t mean I will dedicate my life to it.”
”Oh, bummer. I thought I had found myself a free babysitter”, Brooke said as she held her hand on her neck.
”You look tense. Come here, sit down”, Nick said and led her to the couch.
”You took care of Hope and now you´re giving me a massage? You´re a keeper, Nick Payne!”
”I know, I know…”, Nick said.

Eric was still sitting in Stephanie´s room, waiting for news on Thorne. He just couldn´t go home when things were as they were. A nurse had already told him to go home for the night once, but how could he sleep at a time like this? Especially when feeling it was his fault. A nurse finally walked inside.
”Your son has woken up”, she told them.
”How is he?”, Stephanie asked hopeful.
”I can´t tell you that. Doctor Benson is checking on him, so you can´t go there yet. I told him to come in here when he was finished.”
”Thank you”.
”His going to be okay”, Eric told Stephanie relieved.
”Thank God for that”.
”I don´t know what I would have done if something had happened to him. I could never have been able to look myself in the mirror again”, Eric said.
”Don´t go there again. It wasn´t your fault.”
”It wasn´t your either”, he said when he saw her face expression.
”But it sure feels like it”.
”Let´s not think about who´s fault it was, because it was an accident, okay? The important thing is that Thorne is okay”.
”And that no one was killed in the accident”, Stephanie filled in. Eric didn´t agree with her on that one.
”That´s not true. A man was killed. An elderly man”.
”Don´t take on any blame, remember? Although it´s a tragedy that he lost his life today, it was an accident.”
”Was anyone else injured?”
”A few other people, yes. But as far as I know, only that man was killed.”
”You know, I can still see it all so clearly before me. And Thorne, sitting there beside me not breathing. There was so much blood and he wasn´t breathing. I´ve never been so terrified in my life before”, Stephanie said.
Eric saw before him a lifeless Thorne getting electric shocks. He decided not to tell Stephanie about that.
”Look, Thorne will be alright, so we won´t have to worry about this anymore.”
”Are you trying to avoid it?”
”No, but I am trying to move on. I can´t take it, seeing Thorne… Seeing his so helpless and wounded. I want to escape that image.”
Stephanie was silent, knowing full well what he meant. She just took his hand for comfort. He didn´t let go, just looked at her.

Rick was still at the hospital. The others had left already. He stayed behind for a number of reasons, though. He had nothing waiting for him at home since Amber had taken little Eric. He was worried about Thorne. And he wanted to check on Shannon. Mostly the 3rd reason kept him at the hospital. He had seen her go into a corridor where her mother was, but she hadn´t come back since. Maybe she had gone home.
As Rick was putting away a paper mug of water, he saw Shannon walking out there, completely shattered and devastated. Rick quickly walked over to her.
”Shannon? What´s the matter?”
”Rick…”, she said as she fell into his arms in tears. Rick stroke her hair gently.
”Is it your mother?”, he asked.
”She´s dead!”, Shannon cried out, chocking on her words.
”No… Shannon…”, Rick said as he comforted her.
”She seemed fine on the phone, she wasn´t injured. She promised she was okay.”
”What happened?”
”I don´t know. She just died!”, Shannon was completely shattered. Rick held her for minutes. After she calmed down, they sat down on a sofa in the waiting room.
”What am I going to do now? She was everything I had.”
”You don´t have a father?”, Rick asked.
”No, he died just before I was born.”
”Do you have anywhere to stay?”
”No, I don´t want to go home. I can´t go home now. I don´t want to be alone!”
”You won´t. You can come with me”.
”What? We don´t know each other… Rick, I can´t”.
”It doesn´t matter. You need someone right now, and I´m here for you. You should not be alone.”
”Thank you”.

Rick paid a little visit to Eric and Stephanie in Stephanie´s room.
”Hey, how are you?”, Rick asked.
”I´m fine.”
”And Thorne?”
”He just woke up, the doctor is with him right now”.
”That´s great, what a relief we didn´t lose him too”.
”A friend of mine lost her mother in the accident.”
”No one you know. But I will need a favor.”
”My friend needs a place to stay. Somewhere quiet. I was wondering if I could use the guesthouse?”
”No problem. You know where the keys are”.
”Give our best to your friend.”
”I will, thank you”, Rick said and left.
”Another death…”
”Just what I was thinking.”

Brooke and Nick were still in the living room in Brooke´s house, relaxing.
”I hope Thorne will be okay. It´s just so strange how Massimo sent Ridge to Japan. I was almost like he was trying to get rid of him”, Brooke said.
”Why would he do that?”
”I don´t know. Maybe he is still trying to keep Ridge and me apart?”
”Is there reason why he feels he have to keep you two apart?”
”No. I was just comforting Ridge”.
”Just comforting?”
”Nick, please. I don´t need to hear this”
”You don´t know what I was going to say”.
”Let me guess, stay away from Ridge he will only bring you unhappiness and pain”.
”Well, that is true…”
”Stop it Nick. Ridge has been the man I have loved half my life.”
”See, that´s the problem. You live in the past. Ridge married another woman and you kept hanging on. You still haven´t let go, have you?”
”Ridge isn’t married anymore”.
”And now, this is your chance?”
”I resent that!”
”Come on, Brooke. You have to realize that Ridge isn´t some big prize. Ridge is… Ridge.”
”And he happens to be a very big part of my life, and he always will be.”
”But you´re hoping for something more than just friendship”.
”I don´t know what I want, ok? I don´t know. Ridge and I have a very complicated past and we never really got the chance to be together. What we have will always be there.”
”I don´t know what I can say to you, Brooke. You are so blinded with the past. Maybe you and Ridge never got a chance to be together because it was never meant to be? I know that if you truly love someone, you never let anyone or anything get in the way. You and Ridge did, time and time again. I just think life has more to offer you than Ridge.”
”What would that be? You?”
”I didn´t say that. But you know what? Yes. You´d probably be better off with me, cause I know how to treat a woman. Ridge has never known that. All he knows is how to charm women and get them under his spell like lost puppy dogs.”
”Nick, I think you should go”.
”Maybe I should. It´s obvious that you will never know what you are worth”, Nick said and left the house. Brooke was steamed with anger and frustration. How dared he say those things?

Lucinda Freeman was a woman in her early 50´s, elegant, beautiful and rich. Now she walked into the Forrester Creations building with a mission. She walked up to Megan.
”Lucinda Freeman. I´m here to see Brooke Logan”.
”Mrs Freeman! I tried to get hold of you earlier to say the meeting has been cancelled. There has been an accident in the family and Brooke will be unable to come”.
”No, Megan. I´m available. Mrs Freeman, I´m Brooke Logan”, Brooke said and shook the woman´s hand. Brooke was immediately impressed with this woman. She had a certain way about her. She came off as very strong-willed and sophisticated.
”Hello, and please call me Lucinda.”
”Come into my office and let´s talk”, Brooke suggested. As they came into the office, Brooke sat at her chair and Lucinda took a chair in front of the desk.
”The offer still stands?”
”Well, we do need a new designer. And I am really impressed with your work. It would be an honor to have you onboard.”
”Then I accept. I am looking forward to the west coast.”
”Will you need time to move over?”
”No, I´m all settled. I can start tomorrow”.
”We have an office for you that used to belong to Amber Forrester. It has almost been cleaned out. I think we can have it ready for you by tomorrow morning.”
”Can I look at it?”
”Yes, sure. This way”, Brooke said as they walked out the hall.

”Mr and Mrs Forrester, I´m Doctor Benson. I operated on your son”, the doctor said as he greeted Eric and Stephanie.
”Hello, doctor. How is he?”
”He woke up from his coma a little while ago, which is a very good sign. I hadn´t expected it so soon. And there is no visible brain damage. He had eternal bleeding, but we were able to take care of that. He may need an operation again within six weeks, but that will be determined tomorrow when we get more test results.”
”So he´s okay?”, Eric asked relieved.
”No, sir, he is not. I don´t know what the nurse informed you, but he had a friction on his spine. We were able to fixture that, but the risks were not over with that. Any friction on the spine can lead into paralyses. I have been examining your son for signs of paralyses and I´m afraid the answer is positive. As of now, your son is paralysed.”
”God, no! How paralysed?”
”Total. He can only blink and breath by himself”.
Eric and Stephanie were shocked, devastated.
”That isn´t to say it will stay this way. Keep in mind that he has just woken up. With time, he may get his feeling back with the right physical therapy.”
”How are the chances of that?”
”I´m quite positive. I´ve seen this type of case before. If he recovers fast, there might be a chance he can be back to normal within 6 months. It´s all up to Thorne himself if he is determined. If he gives up, then yes, it could stay this way. But I must warn you that if he over do his training, he may take himself out and cause himself harm. I trust the physical therapist will run this over with you as well as with your son.”
”Can he hear us?”
”Yes, the nurse have instructed him on communication. One blink for no and two for yes. And try not to upset him. The most important thing is to encourage him to fight.”
”Thank you, doctor”.
”If you have questions, just ask the nurse to page me”, the doctor said and left.
”My God, Eric… Our son is paralysed!”
”What have we done to him?”
”He´s just gonna have to fight this. If I could do it, then he can too!”
”I hope you´re right”.

Lucinda returned to her suite at Beverly Hills hotel. She had already unpacked her suitcases and was settled. As she took a drink, the phone rang.
”Gary, stop calling me”, she told the person on the other end before even knowing it was her husband.
”Lucinda, you are not leaving me. You hear me. I´ve had it with your little games. Stop this nonsense and you come back home. NOW!”, he yelled.
”Don´t you dare speak to me like that ever again! I have just taken a job out here and you can expect divorce papers by tomorrow. I want them signed. And then I want nothing more to do with you. Our marriage is over!”