Episode 125 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Rachel tells Belle about Jim Garnet, Amanda expresses parenting doubts to Carol, Carl tells his daughters to return to their old jobs

“What was his name?” asks Belle.

“Jim Garnet,” Rachel answers.  “At least, that’s what we knew him as.”

“We?’ asks Belle.

“My family,” Rachel says quietly.  She turns pale.

“Are you all right?” Belle asks.

“I-I don’t know.”

“Here, lie down on the couch,” Belle suggests.  “I’ll get you a drink.  I have a feeling you have a lot to tell me.”


“Thanks for taking care of him, mom,” says Amanda.

“Oh, it’s no problem,” Carol answers.  She turns to Lucas. “We had a great time, didn’t we, Lucas?”  Lucas nods.  “We learned our ABCs today.  Can you still remember them?”  Lucas nods.  “Good, ‘cus I’ll test you on them tomorrow.”

“Are you sure you can watch him tomorrow?” asks Amanda.

“I don’t see why not?” Carol replies.

“What about your work?”

“What about it?  I sit in the office doing paperwork all day.  It’s nice to take a break sometimes.  For the most part, Lucas is very quiet.  But, we take breaks and now that spring is finally here, we take walks.”

“I can’t expect this of you.  We should have thought about that before we agreed to all this.”

“What’s the difference,” says Carol.  “If you had a child and had to go back to work, do you suppose I’d let you put the child in daycare?”

“I don’t know.  I’d never thought about it.  But I don’t know how the others will feel about this arrangement. I mean, they each took him in and spent a lot of time with him.”

“It’s not the quantity, but the quality of time that’s important,” Carol points out.  “Are you suggesting that you wouldn’t be a good parent just because you’ll have to put your child in someone else’s care?  C’mon.  You know better than that.”

“I don’t mean that,” explains Amanda.  “It would be different if it was my own child.  No one can question me on that.  But, it’s just that we all wanted to offer him a home and it doesn’t seem fair to the others that I could have such a strong case, yet not be there for him during the day, and sometimes the night.  I have the least experience with raising a child.”

“I won’t disagree with you on that point.  But, you all have a claim on him and it’s hard to say who has the strongest claim.  This is an experiment for all of you.  No one said that it would be easy on anyone.  You can’t have expected that in the end, everyone will still be fighting for him.  You have to think about what will make him happiest.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do and I’m afraid I’ve already concluded that Michael and I are probably not going to be the answer.”

“It’s too early, yet.  But, be honest with the others and see what they think.  There’s really no reason that you should abort the experiment just because you feel guilty.”


“Does this mean we get another shot at our boutique?” asks Leslie.

“No,” says Carl.  “I’m sorry, honey, but that’s still on hold.”

“But the landlord’s going to ask for the rent.  How are we going to continue paying all the expenses if we’re not making any money?”

Carl sighs.  “I guess you’ll have to go back to your old jobs for a while.  Just until we get this sorted out.”

Episode 124 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Gavin produces a manuscript, Rachel recognizes Ryan Loomis, Amanda and Michael change their minds about Lucas

“Here are the first three chapters of my novel,” says Gavin.

“Thank you,” says Ashley.  “I was getting ready to hunt you down when I heard you had come back from wherever you were.  By the way, where were you?”

Gavin raises an eyebrow.  “Pardon?  I am way past the age of answering to anybody.”

“Well, if that’s how you feel about it, I guess I won’t tell you my good news.”

“That you’ve been offered a recording contract?” asks Gavin.  “Yes, I’ve heard.  Congratulations.  Does that mean you’ll be spending less time here at the office?”

“Actually,” says Ashley, with a thoughtful look, “I hadn’t thought of it.  I guess I’ve been too much in seventh heaven to work out the details.  But, if I leave this, I don’t know who’ll take over.”

“I’m sure things will sort themselves out,” Gavin reassures her.

————————————————————————————————————

“Carl has received instructions to stay,” says Rachel.

“Interesting,” says Belle.  “Do you know who the instructions came from?”

“A Bill Riley, in New York City,” says Rachel.

“Anything else?” asks Belle.

“Only that it involves you and Gavin.”

“Thank you,” says Belle.  “I wish I could send you to New York, but it wouldn’t be safe for you to go alone.  And if you went with Nicholas, the Steeles wouldn’t go for it.”

“No,” says Rachel.  “But if there’s anything else from this end, I’d love to do it.”

“What about your regular job?”

“Most of it’s routine right now.  It’s not as if Brighton has something major like this investigation going on – and it’s top secret right now.”

“True,” says Belle.  She sits and thinks for a moment, then as an afterthought, she pulls out her cell phone.  “Find out what you can about this man, Ryan Loomis.”

Rachel looks at the picture, gasps and turns pale.

“Do you know him?” asks Belle.

“Yes, but not by that name,” says Rachel.

———————————————————————————————————-

“Mrs. Flint,” says Nicholas.  “The checks I’ve run on Melanie Black show that she was married to a Carl Black.  But I have not been able to locate any divorce proceedings.  Of course, a lack of evidence does not necessarily mean that it does not exist.  Especially if the divorce was obtained outside of the States.”

“I understand,” says Marie.  “But, that’s not my biggest concern right now.  Of course, any weapons we have against her would be additional armory.  But I need some evidence that she is scheming to benefit from this marriage.  Even if she didn’t get a divorce, we cannot prove that she didn’t know that she was still married.  She claims her husband arranged it.”

“But why didn’t she do it herself?  After all, if she was leaving her husband – ”

“She claims he walked out on her,” says Marie.  “Of course, with a husband like that, I can’t understand why she didn’t leave him first.  That’s why I don’t trust that woman.”

—————————————————————————————————–

“I feel very guilty about this,” says Amanda.

“It’s not really our fault,” says Michael.  “We’re not going to be the only family with two working adults.  In fact, we hadn’t even considered starting a family until this situation with Lucas came up.”

“But we agreed to take turns with him,” says Amanda.  “And I feel we’ve let him down.”  She buries her face in her hands.

“When we made the agreement, you were on leave,” says Michael.  “And it seemed like a good idea.  But, hey, it still is.  This makes us realize that if we were to start a family now, we would have to use the services of a good daycare.”

“We can’t possibly put Lucas in a daycare the whole time he is with us.”

“Why not?” asks Michael.  “It would be exactly what would happen if we decide to adopt him.  We can’t raise his expectations and then do that to him later.  In the heat of the moment, we were willing to do everything for him.  Now that things have settled down, are we sure we are ready to take on that responsibility?  If we’re not, it would be unfair to him and to the others to continue with this.”

Amanda sighs.  “It’s not that I don’t want him, because I really do love the poor kid.  But, he does need a more stable home than we can provide right now.  I can’t expect my parents to watch during the day when they also have their work.”

“Maybe we should have an open discussion with everyone, including your parents.”

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Episode 123 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Belle, Gavin & Nicholas change tactics, Alex shows his jealousy, the Copperfields conspire, Carl tells Melanie of his change in plans

“Why didn’t you come?” asks Nicholas, as he enters Belle’s apartment.  “Oh,” he says, seeing Gavin, “I see.  Welcome back.  We were getting worried.”

“Really?” asks Gavin.  “Belle didn’t seem all that concerned to me.”

Belle rolls her eyes.  “I can’t afford to lose my head over everything.”  She turns to Nicholas.  “Sorry, but I had to hear what Gavin had to say.  And, as it turns out, it was best that I didn’t come to your rescue.”

“What do you mean?” asks Nicholas.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to be sacrificed to Ashley,” says Belle.  “But we can’t make it too obvious.”

“What?” cries Nicholas.  “You want me to give myself to that barracuda?”

“I’m sure,” says Belle, exaggeratedly, “as a man, you cannot possibly be that upset about it.”

“Be careful what you say.  Even Gavin hesitated to get into bed with her given the chance.  And he’s supposed to be an agent.  You know they have few scruples about such things.  I do not want to get shredded by her.”

“It’s true, Belle,” Gavin defends him.  “There’s something so ruthless about Ashley that we have to be very careful.”

“But none of the men in the past had any problems.  She slept with them and then got tired of them.  I’m sure you could survive that.”

“Not if she still feels a rivalry with you,” says Gavin.  “You cannot be seen to be around us without inciting anger and jealousy in Ashley.  That’s why I say I have to tell her off.  If those thugs follow us and find that I’m making up to her, we’re all in trouble.”

“And you had better get some writing done,” says Nicholas to Gavin.  “I know she’s getting anxious about what you’re doing.”

“Don’t worry,” says Gavin.  “I rushed something out on the plane.”

“Okay,” says Nicholas.  “So, what’s the next step?”

———————————————————————————————————

“I think I’m really going to like it here,” says Clayton.  “I’ll have more than one reason to get to work every day.”

“I will be moving back and forth between the two stables,” says Tara.  “I will be spending a lot of time doing administrative work from the stud farm.”

“That’s a shame,” says Clayton.

Alex disrupts them as he comes over with a horse.  “You’ll be in charge of Midnight Run.”

“Aye, aye, boss,” says Clayton, as he takes up the reins.  He nods to Tara and walks away.

“Why do you encourage him to flirt?” asks Alex.

“I do not encourage him,” Tara responds.  “Besides, what’s wrong with him wanting to flirt as long as he does his job?”

“So you’ll flirt with him in order to ensure that he does his job?”

“Are you a little jealous?” Tara asks.

“A little?  That’s an understatement.  I’d like to strangle him.”

Tara smiles as she takes his arm.  “And why would you feel a little jealous?”

————————————————————————————————————

“I hear that things are getting a bit hot at Golde, Inc,” says Lisa.

Rick and Blanche look at each other.  “Nothing we can’t deal with, honey,” says Rick.

“Well, you don’t have to be so secretive,” says Lisa.  “I was over at Amanda’s when Marie came along and talked about the situation.”

Rick smiles.  “I guess I forget still that you’re a member of that family.”

“Well,” says Blanche,  “at least we can all conspire together to get rid of the Black sheep.  This is going to be fun.”

——————————————————————————————————–

“Don’t keep calling me,” says Melanie.  “Why can’t you just leave town and stay out?”

“I just wanted to tell you that my plans have changed,” says Carl.  “I’ll be staying for a while.  At least, that will also give me a chance to keep an eye on you and make sure things are going well.”

———————————————————————————————————-

Episode 122 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Ashley flirts with Nicholas, Gavin fills Belle in on events, Buster tells Carl to follow Belle and Gavin

“Can you believe it, Mark?” says Ashley.  “I sang here as a favor to you, but it’s turned into my big break.”

“Congratulations, Ashley,” says Mark.  “I’m glad to have helped.  But, does that mean you won’t be singing here anymore?”

“Of course not.  It would be great to test the market by introducing new songs here.”

“And if you become a sensation, I might receive some publicity.  It’s turned out to be a nice arrangement for us both.”

“How appropriate that we’re celebrating at the place that has launched your career,” Nicholas chimes in.

“Yes,” says Ashley.  “I had to let Mark in on it.”

“And to celebrate appropriately, everything’s on the house,” says Mark.  He walks away.

Ashley turns to Nicholas.  “I knew he’d do that.  It’s just like Mark.”

Nicholas laughs.  “But it’s not as if you needed a free meal.  After all, aren’t I picking up the tab?”

“But I asked you out.” Ashley smiles suggestively.

“And you thought I’d let you pay?”

“I would have been disappointed if you had.  On the other hand, it might have made you a little more pliable.”  She runs her hand lightly along his arm.

—————————————————————————————————–

“You didn’t tell them anything, did you?” asks Belle.

“Of course not,” says Gavin.  “I just thanked them for coming to my rescue.  It was obvious to them that I was the one they were meant to find.  I had to keep my stories consistent with what I had already told those thugs.  You never know what would leak to the media.”

“So, you didn’t get to check out the premises.”

“I tried to be helpful, but they sent me off.  I dragged my feet, and I overheard them saying the place was completely deserted.  Of course, the thugs had already removed whatever was there.  There were several vans I heard taking off before the rescue squad arrived.”

“But they must have seen the vans leaving.  Did they ask about them?”

“No, but I’m not sure if they did see the vans.  There was a thick cover of trees and they had to land some ways away from the property, giving those guys a chance to leave unnoticed.”

“Hmmm,” Belle muses.  “The unfortunate thing is that the thug saw your driver’s license, so he knows where you live.  It’s possible they may trace you to make sure everything checks.  That could make things difficult from this end.”

“With Ashley, you mean?”

“Yes,” says Belle.  “And she’s out with Nicholas right now.  Rachel called to let me know, hinting that Nicholas wanted me to interrupt them.  This quadrangle needs to be broken up.”

“So that’s where you were about to go?  Damn Ashley.  She’ll be the undoing of us all and we can’t even trust her enough to tell her to go to hell.  I may have to do that yet.”

——————————————————————————————————–

“You got another job for me?” asks Carl, on the phone.

“Yes,” says Buster.  “But it’s nothing to do with jewels.  The boss wants you to trail a couple of people.  I believe you’ve dealt with one of them before.  Belle Silverman.”

“Belle Silverman?” Carl chokes.  “What does he want me to do with her?  She’s dangerous.”

“Really?  You can’t handle a girl?” Buster mocks him.  “We need to know about her personal life.  Especially about her boyfriend, Gavin Sparks.”

“Gavin Sparks?  I don’t know that name, but I do remember a man with her, when she came into the shop.”

“Follow them.”

———————————————————————————————————–

Episode 121 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Phillip gives Alex advice, Ashley asks Nicholas out to celebrate, Gavin returns, Marie seeks help from Michael

“Why so grim?” asks Phillip.  “Clayton seems a nice guy.”

“I’m sure he is,” says Alex, grumpily.  “But he’s only with us because he lost the horse show.”

“Was it deliberate?  What was the alternative?”

“Hell, I don’t know,” growled Alex.  “If he had won, he could have taken Tara out for dinner.  I suppose he thought this way he could see her more often.”

“Ah.  What are Tara’s feelings about this?”

Alex shrugged.  “She would have been happy either way.”

“Well, maybe it’s time you let Tara know how you feel.  You’ve been dragging your feet in your approach to her.

—————————————————————————————————

“I wanted to thank you for the review,” says Ashley.

“You’re welcome,” says Rachel.  “But, I was only trying to be honest.”

“Yes, but it’s landed me a recording contract.”

“Really?” asks Nicholas, overhearing.  “That’s great news.”

“Yes, even though it is just a small contract with a small studio,” says Ashley, turning to him.  “But I came over to ask you out to celebrate.”

“Uh, sure,” says Nicholas, turning to Rachel.  “Will you be joining us?”

Rachel, seeing the miffed look on Ashley’s face, answers, “Sorry, I’ve got a lot of work to do.  Have fun.”

———————————————————————————————

“William thinks I should work with you to introduce the Golde Signature line to Bellington’s,” says Melanie.

“And what experience of marketing do you have?” asks Jason.

“Well, none, actually,” Melanie responds.  “But he thinks I should learn.”

“We don’t have time for a novice.  We need someone to hit the ground running because we’re behind as it is already.  It’s better not to have someone new to hinder our progress.  So, I suggest you start somewhere else.”

Blanche comes in and hands Jason a portfolio.  “Bellington’s has made a huge profit in the past year, but their jewelry department has suffered recently due to lower quality and higher prices.”

Melanie turns to her.  “But Blanche is practically as new as I am,” she protests.

“Oh, yes,” Jason turns to Melanie.  “But Aunt Blanche does have a marketing degree and has worked in that field previously.”

Blanche looks from Jason to Melanie, and back to Jason again.  “What seems to be the problem?”

“Dad thinks Melanie should join our team, but I don’t feel we can afford to slow down to train her.”

“Oh,” says Blanche, thoughtfully.  “Well, don’t worry Jason.  I’m sure I can take her under my wings and teach her what she needs to know.  And, as long as she’s by my side, she won’t interfere with your work.”  Jason scowls but Blanche turns to Melanie.  “Come along, let’s get started.”

————————————————————————————————–

“Where are you going?” Gavin asks.

Belle turns around.  “So, you’re back.  I should have expected that you wouldn’t have considered calling to let us know what happened.”

Gavin’s eyebrows shot up, then he grins.  “I came directly here from the airport.  Wasn’t that considerate enough?  I thought it better to thank you in person.  For someone who only acts as an agent temporarily, you are very well trained.  And I have many reasons to be grateful for that.”

Belle shrugs.  “What can I say?  I’m a perfectionist.  You can’t do a job very well unless you are well prepared.  So, are you going to fill me in on what happened?”

“I’d love to,” says Gavin.  “But it looks like you’re heading out.”

Belle considers.  “I was going out.  But I’ve changed my mind.  Let’s talk.”

——————————————————————————————————–

“That’s wonderful news,” says Marie to Lisa.  “I certainly hope to have Lucas’ situation all settled soon.”

“Yes,” says Lisa.  “But we’ve just started.  He still has to have his time with Amanda and Michael. That will start next week.”

“And we’re looking forward to it,” says Amanda.  “Especially as he has made such strides despite the change in environment.”

“Michael,” says Marie.  “I wondered if I could discuss something with you.”

“Would you like us to leave you alone?” Amanda offers.

Marie thinks about it.  “No, that won’t be necessary.  Lisa’s part of the family now, and even if she won’t be affected by what I’d like to discuss, she may take a familial interest.  After all, Aunt Blanche is in on this.”

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