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Episode 46

“Let the Party Begin…”
*Luke was stunned when Creg made his knowledge known of him and Todd’s secret relationship. Creg told Luke that he better show up at the party because he had something planned. Luke was determined to face whatever his scheming brother had in mind.
*Eve’s thoughts were full of the knowledge of Tara and Tom’s kiss. Also, she couldn’t help but be overcome with guilt because of the secret she has been hiding from Carl for years—Melissa and Cassie could be Gary’s children.
*Cynthia sensed that Lacey Ulrich would become an annoyance in her life—especially after Nicholas defended her.
*Jasper and Derek had a brief confrontation with Lacey, Amy, and Connor at the mall. Derek questioned him about the whole thing but he didn’t disclose anything about it.
*Gary planned for the party to be full of big surprises, mentioning that a gun would be the star of the show.
Evening has befallen Sunrise Bay as Gary’s party event has officially begun. The huge room is decorated with the utmost elegance, fine dinnerware, and fancy foods. The color theme is of red and gold. An orchestra plays on in the background as all the guests arrive…
Todd, Luke, and Annie arrive side by side. Luke wears a determined look of strength in his eyes, his earlier encounter with Creg dances in his mind.
Todd feels an aura of nervousness, sensing that Luke isn’t telling him something. Luke hinted at something possibly happening—however the hint was very vague:
“Just be prepared for anything, Todd. Be prepared.” 
Not wanting to go to the party alone, Annie had asked Luke and Todd if she could join. It was after visiting with Keith. Keith seemed semi-happy to see her. She can remember his apprehensive look as though there were other people he’d much rather get a hospital visit from. She talked with Keith about how Cassie started a fight in the middle of the waiting room and even mentioned the choice words Cassie had for her. Keith let out a disappointed sigh while shaking his head and then asked where Jarrod was. Annie bit her tongue and leaned in to give Keith a kiss on the cheek, not wanting to question him about why he was in the hospital in the first place. Even she had enough decency to know that it was too early to approach the subject, though the topic was eating at her mind.
Todd puts his hands in the pockets of his black dress pants, “Did you see the sign out front? It said that this will be an event not to be forgotten. What exactly does you father have planned, Luke? There’s this feeling of secrecy around the whole thing. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me who feels this way.”
Luke tries to maintain a cool composure as he scans the increasingly thick crowd, “I haven’t the slightest clue what my Dad has up his sleeve. He doesn’t involve me in anything. It’s not that I really care. I’m surprised I was allowed to be part of the brief meeting we had the other day over stuff like the color scheme and decorations for the whole event.”
Todd nods briefly and suddenly feels mesmerized by Luke’s face. He notices every detail of his handsome face, the slight imperfections of skin, piercing dark eyes, and aura of strength. It’s at that moment that he realizes Luke has lent a sense of security to his existance. He suddenly is overwhelmed with the feeling to jump on a table and scream to each guest about him and Luke’s secret relationship that has been blossoming. If only he could touch Luke and show affection in public.
Annie notices her brother staring at Luke and is very confused. “Um, Todd. Are you alright there, bro? Is there a big zit on Luke’s face that I don’t see?”
Todd takes a couple seconds before responding, “Um, it’s nothing. Uh, I’m gonna get a drink.” Now wearing a red face, he heads toward a waiter handing out tall glasses of sparkling champagne.
“What’s up with Todd? I was also meaning to ask about you guys’s friendship.”
“What about it?” Luke says, almost defensively. His eyes scan the crowd for his brother. The sooner I spot Creg, the longer I can monitor what in the hell he has planned. Not that it will make much a difference, most likely.
“I don’t know. What do two guys like you do for fun? I guess I never would have guessed you guys would become best buds.”
Luke’s demeanor remains serious as the dread of something happening tonight leaves a dark cloud over him. Before Luke has time to respond to Annie’s latest comment, Todd approaches with two glasses of champagne, nonchalantly motioning for Luke to receive once of them. 
Luke forces a grin (while his eyes continually scan the crowd) and accepts.
“Oh I see how it is. You get your best friend here a drink but not your sister.” Teases Annie.
Best friend, that’s a way of putting it, thinks Todd while he hands Annie the remaining champagne glass.
“Aw, you love me after all.” Grins Annie as she brings the glass to her lips, letting the sparkling liquid flow into her system.
As he watches his sister enjoy the glass that was actually for him, Todd moves his right hand over a few inches to brush against Luke’s fingers. Just then Luke’s eyes lock with Creg’s. Creg’s eyes read of wicked anticipation. It’s that anticipation that causes Luke’s heart rate to increase at a rapid pace.
Glancing at Todd, both sharing a warm eyelock, he motions Todd toward a table of various sweet pastries and chocolates. “There’s something I needed to rush by you real quick.”
Todd immediately notices the urgency in Luke’s tone, a pit of nerves forms in his stomach.

Cynthia leans in at the exact moment as Nicholas. Both of their lips meet. Cynthia’s are more forceful, as the couple shares a passionate kiss.
“You smell like strawberries.” Smiles Nicholas, as his nose is not even an inch from Cynthia’s.
“You smell like cow dung.” Says Cynthia with a serious tone before breaking into a playful giggle.
“Yes, I have a secret herd of cows I tend to. I know how you’ve always dreamt of snagging a farmer.”
“Oh yes, I love how dirty they get. Smelly farmers turn me on.” 
Nicholas’s eyes suddenly dart to Elaine, who has approached just in time to hear the off-the-wall comment from her daughter.
Cynthia jolts out of embarrassment and quickly speaks to try and erase any questions that may come from Elaine’s mouth regarding her statement. “So, Mother. What do you think of the fancy event Dad has thrown? Aren’t the decorations beautiful?”
Not questioning Cynthia’s comment, Elaine gives the room a scan for the millionth time while nodding in agreement. She holds a tall glass of champagne, her fingers tapping on its side. “I still am wondering what possessed him to throw such an event. I know the proceeds are going toward some charity, which I never got the name of. I guess you could say I’m a little surprised that he’d be so kind as to throw something like this.”
Cynthia can see her mother’s doubt about her father’s sense of giving, “Dad has always been involved with charities, Mother. Why are you so surprised? He is the pillar of Sunrise Bay, after all. This is his way of giving back to the community.”
Elaine slowly nods at her daughter’s “rebuttal”. “You’re right. It was nice of your Dad to do something like this.” An expression of melancholy seems to dawn on her face. She is suddenly overcome with a string of memories of her marriage with Gary—the good times of course. Before all of the affairs and deceit came to the surface. At the thought of deceit, ever since Gary revealed that he fathered Cassie and Melissa Jones, Elaine realizes the burden of sadness that has resided in her. Gary truly lied to her so much during the course of their marriage. However, she hasn’t been able to fight the leftover feeling of love and care towards the man. Just as these thoughts bubble within, she brings her eyes to meet his gaze in the close distance. Barbara stands next to him, holding his hand tightly. Elaine swears Barbara is casting her a look of coldness and scorn, almost as if Barbara read her mind and realizes that Elaine still had a place in her heart for Gary.
While Elaine’s thoughts are running amok, Cynthia turns her head to scan the crowd. Immediately, her eyes lock on Lacey and Amy. “What in the heck is she doing here?"
Nicholas’s interest is peaked, “Who?” As soon as he says it, his eyes lock with Lacey’s. Lacey sees him and gives him a wide grin, a fake one she passes to Cynthia.
“She’s here, Jasper. It’s that girl from the mall.” Derek says, causing Jasper to do a complete turn around. His gaze magnifies in on a beautiful Lacey Ulrich. She is wearing a sparkling red dress. Her hair is curled and rests on her shoulders with timid strength.
Jasper doesn’t realize it but his eyes have lit up.
Derek can’t help but notice Jasper’s transfixed stare, “You never did explain to me what that girl meant to you. However, by the look in your eyes, I can tell.”
Jasper quickly stops looking in Lacey’s direction and gives Derek a disgruntled expression, “What in the hell do you mean by that?”
Derek steps back on purpose in response to Jasper’s hostile tone of voice. “Whoa there, buddy, I wasn’t trying to cause a fight or anything. I’m just saying that the look in your eyes when you spotted her made me think that you have feelings for her or something along that line.”
Jasper vehemently shakes his head in disagreement, “You have it all wrong. It’s almost funny how off you are.”
He swallows hard, quickly casting a glance in her direction once again. He’s suddenly overwhelmed by the image of the baby boy he saw years ago. Where is my baby boy? I have the right to see my son. She can’t keep me from him forever.

Eve studies Tara and Tom as they talk in the distance. Her mind is in overdrive as she glances at Melissa. I have to tell Melissa about Tara and Tom’s secret kiss.. I’ve waited long enough. Damn Tom and Tara, why would they do something like that?
A tap on the shoulder makes her quickly turn her head. She is shocked to be looking into Gary Jackson’s eyes. She swallows hard, “Gary? Um, hi. I just wanted to congratulate you on the lovely event you’ve arranged. It’s very elegant and the orchestra’s music is so pretty.”
Gary slowly nods his head, “I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I have a lot more surprises up my sleeve for the night. Actually, they’re more like announcements.”
For some reason the look and tone of Gary is making Eve nervous. She presses for more information, “What do you mean by announcements?”
“Oh, Eve. I can imagine how your curiosity is peaked. I think you’d be thrilled to learn that one of them will leave you pleasantly surprised.”
Barbara appears beside Gary and flashes Eve a fake smile. Barbara immediately wonders why Gary would be having a conversation with his mistress from long ago. However, she doesn’t have to ask many questions as Gary motions her away from Eve.
Eve stares at the couple disappearing into the crowd. Her heart is racing. Pleasantly surprised? What in the hell kind of announcement could Gary make that has anything to do with me?
“Hon, are you OK?” questions Carl as he hands her a glass of champagne, motioning her to one of the tables that are set up in neat row.
Eve slowly nods her head, her mouth growing increasingly dry. “Yes, I’m perfectly fine. I was just thinking about Cassie. That’s all.”
“Well I don’t blame you there. I can’t get my mind off of her. I’m relieved we managed to convince Cassie not to come here. The last thing she needs to do is get into a huge fight with Annie Lansing in front of the whole town.”
Just as those words are uttered, Eve’s attention darts to the entrance of the hotel. Cassie enters wearing a very tight and revealing black dress—appearing dressed to kill.
Todd shakes his head in disbelief, “How could Creg know about us?”
“He obviously overheard something. If not that, the detective he hired to investigate you has been watching us.”
“WHAT?! Detective? What in the hell do you mean?”
A few heads turn when Todd raises his voice, including Annie’s. She begins to curiously stroll over to Todd and Luke to see what the “fuss” is about.
“What’s up you two? You both seem so secretive over here.”
Luke is overcome with annoyance by her interruption, “Annie, for once, can you mind your own business?” states Luke in a forceful tone. His brother has thrown his mood completely.
“Damn, Luke. I didn’t know it was so top secret. Sorry to interrupt!”
Todd then speaks up: “Annie, just please don’t worry about it. It’s of no interest to you.”
“You too?! God, I’m going to go find fun people. You two are acting like bitches.” Annie quickly darts away from Todd and Luke after casting them a peeved glare.
After Annie has disappeared Todd puts his attention fully on Luke. Nerves churn at the bottom of his stomach. Creg knows about us. It’s over. He hates me. He is going to make my life a living hell. Knowing him, he’ll do the same thing to Luke. Caught up in the moment of emotion he reaches to Luke and touches his hand, “Look, whatever Creg does with what he knows, I just really…I really want you to know how much I care for you. I’m sorry I got you involved in all this. I feel horrible.”
Luke raises his hand, “Whoa, whoa. Wait! You got me involved in all this? Todd, I felt the same way about you as you did with me. You didn’t force me into anything. Don’t think for a minute that I’m gonna let my bastard brother screw things up. This is what he wants. He wants to play with people’s lives. That is his favorite pass time.”
Todd tries to hold back tears, not able to forget that he is in a party with a huge crowd surrounding him. “I have to be strong. Luke, you don’t understand what a coward I’ve been my whole life. It’s time for me to do something proactive. Where the hell is Creg?”
Luke is surprised by Todd’s sudden fierce attitude. “No, Todd. I don’t want you talking to Creg. I can handle him and take care of this. I just have to figure out a way to get him to shut his mouth. I know how much you want things between us kept a secret.”
“No, Luke. Didn’t you hear what I said? I’m sick of being a coward. I don’t want you trying to protect me like I’m some wuss who can’t defend himself. I need to talk to your brother right now.” Todd spots Creg and darts toward him.
“Todd!” Luke quickly turns around as he watches Todd run off. Shit, what should I do? I guess I should just listen to him. He’s so adamant about confronting Creg. However, this will probably push Creg even further into messing around with our lives. I know how the hell he is. 
“Lacey’s here!” Tara’s tone is smothered in excitement. “Jasper, come over with me to say hi.”
When Jasper and Lacey were dating, Tara met Lacey numerous times. She always thought the two of them were adorable together. Jasper could never work up the courage to ask her out and Tara was his main cheerleader. Being four grades ahead of Jasper, she had the “influence” to convince Lacey to give Jasper a chance. That is exactly what she did and she was responsible for the two sharing their first date.
“I already saw her, Tara.” Says Jasper in a quiet tone, reading of defeat.
“So her name is Lacey? Hmm, how far do you guys go back?” This is Derek.
“Oh Derek, they dated in high school and it was so adorable.”
Jasper casts her a glare, “Do you have selective memory or something, Tara? Don’t you remember the disaster that Lacey and I were?”
Tara’s smile fades and she slowly nods her head. In her mind, she was remembering how Jasper and Lacey were like in their innocent seventh grade days. In actuality, the whole relationship did end with a devastating boom. Somehow, Tara felt that the two could still make amends, especially being that it was so many years later.
“Look, don’t you think it’s time you two got closure?” Tara questions. “Maybe her randomly showing up here is a sign that you two need to talk and put what happened behind you two once and for all.”
Jasper swallows hard and brings his attention back on Lacey. Suddenly Lacey turns around sees him. She freezes dead in her tracks.
Jasper’s eyes read of hurt and sorrow. Lacey stares into his eyes and notices it. It is surreal to her that the man she has feared for years is casting her such a painful expression. However, Lacey can’t forget how he had kidnapped their son when they were younger. What if Jasper wanted to steal Connor from her again?
Tara is happy that Lacey has noticed Jasper, “She’s looking at you now, Jasper. She obviously recognizes you. Come on, let’s go talk to her.” Tara gently pulls on Jasper’s arm to take him in her direction.
Surprisingly, Jasper doesn’t fight her motions toward Lacey. He wants to talk to Lacey more than anything. He wants to see Connor and find out what kind of son he has grown into.
Lacey quickly darts into "action mode", “Amy, we have to get the hell out of here. He’s coming over here with his cousin Tara. I don’t want to see her either.”
Jasper notices that Lacey is ready to make a run for it and finds that his voice is out of his own control, “Lacey, please wait! Please! We need to talk!”
Lacey is at first going to ignore him like she has tried her hardest to do when all the other “close calls” occurred. However, she senses something different in his voice than she remembered him as possessing before. With a hesitant sigh, she stops in her tracks and turns around.
“Hi.” Jasper says gently.
Lacey swallows hard and summons all her strength, “Hi Jasper.”
Tara then motions for Derek to follow her toward Tom and Melissa. She realizes that it’s time Lacey and Jasper caught up, without any outside interruption.
The orchestra is in the midst of playing a very fast and upbeat number. Everyone is gathered evenly over the dance floor and the event is in full swing. 
Meanwhile, Nicole points to an older woman’s short mini skirt in disgust, “That woman could be my grandma and look what she’s wearing!”
Annie wears an appalled expression as she looks at the woman, “I’m telling you, some people have no shred of decency. Anyway, you can’t believe how happy I was when I spotted you here. My brother and Luke have PMS or something, I swear.”
“PMS?” Nicole giggles. “You never fail to make me laugh. Anyway, have you been being a good girl and staying away from Cassie? I saw her floating around here a little bit ago. Speaking of trashy dresses, she was guilty of it as well.”
Annie’s eyes bulge as she begins to quickly scan the crowd,
“I can’t believe she had the nerve to come here! She knew I’d be here tonight. After our confrontation at the hospital, it seems she wants more.”
“Confrontation at the hospital?! Annie, please don’t tell me you started a big brawl there or something like that. That would be too much.” Nicole seems to redden out of embarrassment for her friend.
Annie vehemently shakes her head, “I didn’t start the verbal assault of course. It was that insecure wench’s fault. That girl just doesn’t know when to shut up and she pushes all the right buttons. She claims she was coming there to visit with Keith but I know she knew I was there. She wanted to relive our lovely restaurant brawl is what I’m thinking.”
Nicole shakes her head, “You have to be the bigger woman, Annie. You can’t afford to keep getting in big fights with her. Especially in public places. Believe it or not, you do have a reputation in this town of being everyone’s favorite fashion designer. I know that it wouldn’t cross your mind but these public fights could affect your career.”
Annie takes in a deep breath, “Maybe you’re right.”
Nicole takes a sip of her golden champagne, “I know I’m right. Just be on your best behavior.”
Annie suddenly goes a few shades of white as her eyes lock on two people who have entered the building. “Oh my god…”
Nicole quickly tries to see what has Annie so perturbed suddenly. “What is it, Annie? You look like a ghost.”
Annie’s eyes focus in on her incoming mother. However, everything sounds silent around her as her focus goes to the man walking hand in hand with her. She watches as Nina looks into the man’s eyes and he leans in to kiss her on the cheek.  Annie’s heart feels as thought it’s dropped to the floor. “It’s him.” She whispers in horror.