Episode 120 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Clayton loses; Belle assigns Rachel to check on the Blacks; Jared Starr offers Ashley recording contract

“What was he thinking?” asks Alex.  “Did he deliberately sabotage his own chances of winning?”

“Why are you so upset?” asks Tara.  “I thought you’d be happy that you beat him, even if you didn’t win the event.”

“I just wonder if he is purposefully trying to become an employee.”

Tara shrugs.  “What of it?  I said he’s very good.  I also told you he’d be very distracted.”

“But I’m not sure I like the idea of hiring him.”

“Jealous?” Tara asks.  “If you’d rather not hire him, then I should at least offer to have dinner with him as a consolation prize.”

Alex scowls.  “I’ll leave it up to you to decide.”  He walks away.

———————————————————————————————

“What’s happening with Gavin now?” asks Rachel.

“I’m not sure,” says Belle.  “I can’t reach him.  I think his phone is dead.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Nothing,” Belle replies.  “I can’t do anything until I hear something from somebody.  I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news, but I can’t make it worse by rushing in.  All I can do is wait.”

“I know I’m inexperienced in investigations,” says Rachel, “but I’m willing to do anything you ask.”

Belle smiles.  “I have to concentrate on my schooling so I can graduate.  I need to make sure certain people stay out of my hair.  At the same time, I am involved in an investigation that no one should know anything about.  What you could do for me is find out more about Carl Black and his family.  Especially, their whereabouts and activities.”

“Right on it, boss,” says Rachel, as she walks out the door.

—————————————————————————————————-

“Miss Silverman?”

Ashley turns around.  “Yes?”

“I’m Jared Starr,” the man says, holding out his hand.  Ashley reluctantly takes it and shakes it.  “I heard you perform at the Hot Spot Cafe the other night and I read the wonderful review.  I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only who appreciated your talents.”

Ashley smiles.  “Thank you.  But there must be more to this visit than just congratulations.  Though it is a good start to flatter a publisher before you ask to get your book accepted.  I take it that you are a writer?”

“Actually, no,” says Jared smiling.  “I’m a music producer.”

Ashley raises her eyebrows in surprise. “Oh.”

“Starr Productions is only a small recording studio.  But, being small, we concentrate only on the best local talents.  I think, though, we have a chance of making you bigger than just local.”

“Oh,” Ashley says again.

“Unfortunately, because we are small, we can’t offer you a big recording contract or anything.  But we’d like you to consider working with us to record a CD.  We can work out the details and make an equitable split.”

Confused, Ashley answers, “I’ll have to have some time to consider it.  I wasn’t expecting any of this.  My family eventually wants to have their own recording studio, but that is sometime down the line.”

“Well, I don’t think you should wait that long.  But give me a ring when you’ve made up your mind.”

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Episode 119 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Tara and Clayton make a wager at the horse show, Gavin is to be freed, Marie sees Nicholas regarding progress on Melanie case

“Beautiful.  But then again, I never expected anything less,” says a voice beside Tara.

Tara turns to face the speaker.  “Hello, Clayton.  Ready to be horse-whipped?”

Clayton laughs.  “I guess it depends on who does the whipping.  I’ll tell you what.  Why don’t we have a wager?  If I win, you’ll have dinner with me.”

“And if I win?” asks Tara.

“I’ll pay for the meal,” replies Clayton, smile.

“What if neither of you win?” asks Alex, scowling.

Clayton looks over at him, with an eyebrow raised.  Tara introduces them.  “Well, if neither of us wins,” suggests Clayton, “then, our wager will depend on our placements.”

“I don’t mind a wager,” says Tara.  “But, I would rather on different terms.”

“What do you suggest?” asks Clayton.

“If you win,” says Tara, “I’ll have dinner with you.  But, if I win, you’ll come to work with us.”

“What?” asks Alex.  “I’m afraid that the hiring of staff would have to be approved by myself and my grandfather.”

“I thought I had full control,” says Tara.

“He’s right,” says Clayton.  “I’m not going to interfere with your business arrangements.  But I’ll accept your terms on condition that my hiring would be approved.  After all, it’s a win-win situation for me.”  He walks off.

“What were you thinking?” asks Alex.

“He’s very good with horses and would be a great asset,” Tara defends herself.  “He’ll be questioning himself which option he prefers and it will distract him more than he thinks.”

“But I’m not sure I like either option,” says Alex.  Tara smiles at him.

——————————————————————————————————-

“The helicopter’s been circling this estate,” reports the White man.  “It looks like it’s trying to find a place to land.”

“What are we going to do?” asks one of the Hispanic men.

“Call the Bandit and let him know what’s happening,” the Black man instructs him.  Then he turns to Gavin, “What do you know about this?”

“Nothing,” says Gavin, raising his eyebrows innocently.  “You can check my phone records.  The only one I’ve talked to in the last few days is my girlfriend.  I told you I only stopped around here to relieve myself, which I still need to do.”

The Black turns away from him and paces the room.  The Hispanic man turns to him.  “The Bandit says to take the rest of the stuff and leave.”

“What about him?” asks the Black man, pointing to Gavin.

“Tie him up and leave him here to be discovered, if he is discovered.”

——————————————————————————————————–

“Mr. Cole, may I speak with you?” asks Marie.

“Of course,” says Nicholas.  “Do you want to talk here or go somewhere more private.

Marie looks around the office.  “It’s okay here.  I just wanted to follow up with you regarding Melanie Black.  My aunt, Blanche, caught her meeting with a man at the Hot Spot Cafe.  She believes it was Carl Black.  I’d like to know what you have found out about her.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t given this case much thought recently,” apologized Nicholas.  “But I have been investigating her previous husband from a different angle.  You might be interested to know that she may not be legally separated from her first husband after all.  But absence of proof is not proof of absence, so I cannot tell you for sure yet.  Only her husband knows the truth of the case.  And I’m still working on how to get him to justice without compromising other parts of the investigation.”

“I understand,” says Marie.  “But things are getting unbearable now that my father has put her on the Board of Golde, Inc.”

“Have you discussed matters with Michael Silverman?  I believe he hinted at conditions in your mother’s last will that may affect the appointment of Melanie on the Board.”

“No, I haven’t,” says Marie.  “He has always reassured me that everything was going to be all right, but never said anything more.  I might have to ask him.”

—————————————————————————————————————

Episode 118 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Belle manages to talk to Gavin

“She’s my girlfriend,” says Gavin.  “I sent her home and continued using the car because it’s already been booked.”

“Why did you send her home?” the Black man asks.

“Because she’s only a couple months away from graduating and I didn’t want to be the reason that she didn’t.  She came out to join me and we had our bit of fun, but I had to send her home.”

The man reaches into Gavin’s pocket and pulls out his phone.  “We’ll see what she has to say.”  He dials a number.

“Darling, miss me?” Belle answers.

“Is this Belle Silverman?” the Black man asks.

“Yes,” says Belle.  “Who is this and what are you doing with Gavin’s phone?  Don’t tell me he lost it again already?  I swear that boy needs me to watch him like a baby.  One day.  Just one day away from me and he does something stupid like this.  He’s just lucky a guy found the phone.  If a woman had it, I’d swear he was cheating on me again.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” says the man.  “I did not mean to disturb you.  I was just checking on a possible stolen vehicle.”

“Stolen vehicle?” asks Belle.

“Yes, Mr. Sparks here was driving a car rented out in your name.”

“Oh, of course.  I rented the car when I went out to see him.  The rental company was happy to allow him to use it for the remainder of the time I had already reserved.  Did they say differently?  If so, I’ll learn not to use them again.  You just can’t trust what anyone tells you.”

“No, ma’am.  Again, I’m sorry to have involved you.  I did not check with the rental company.   I should have tried them.”

“Well, that’s a relief.  At least no harm done.  Now, can I speak to that errant beau of mine?”

“Uh, he’s a bit tied up at the moment.  Perhaps, he’ll call you later.”

“If he does not call back in five minutes, I’ll be sending detectives after him,” says Belle angrily.  “I’ve got the money and the connections.  I’ll bet he’s paying you to keep quiet about his activities.  I don’t know why I put up with him, but he can be such a darling at times that it’s difficult to let go.  Did you know-”

“Oh, he’s free now,” interrupts the man.  He puts the phone to Gavin’s ear and holds a gun nearby.  “She’s a talker, but if you say one word…” He waves the gun meaningfully at Gavin.

Gavin suppresses a grin.  “Hello, darling.  Miss you terribly.”

“I’ll bet you do,” says Belle.  “Tied up, huh?  Don’t worry, I’ve alerted the police and given your whereabouts.  Hold on tight.  Your friend thinks I’m accusing you of cheating.”

“Darling, I swear I love you and only you.  And I’ll be home soon.  Being away from you is torture and I’ve had enough.”

“You’d better come home.  That’s all I can say.”

“Love you, sweetie.” He blows a kiss into the phone and the man hangs up.

“Well, your story holds,” says the Black man.

“What’s that noise?” asks the White man.  He looks out the window.  “There’s a helicopter flying about above.”

“Go find out what it’s all about,” says the Black man.

——————————————————————————————————

“What was that all about?” asks Nicholas, as he and Rachel watch Belle hang up the phone.

“Throwing dogs off the scent,” Belle answers.

“Is Gavin really in trouble?” asks Rachel.

Nicholas and Belle look at her.  “No offense, Rachel,” says Nicholas, “but it’s part of my investigation.”

“Are you asking me to back off?” asks Rachel.  “I’d like to help and I promise not to get in the way.”  She turns to Belle and smiles.  “I’d like to do it for you.  You might not understand…”

Belle returns the smile.  “As a matter of fact, I think I do.  But I’m not sure you can help in this.  It’s very top secret.”

“I won’t breathe a word.  You can trust me on that.  I’ve learned to keep secrets.”

“All right,” says Belle.  “We’ll trust you to keep quiet.  But I’m still not sure there is anything you can do to help.  Gavin is in trouble.  He has been literally tied up.  But he had already called me before to tell me where he was, so I asked the local police to go out there.  All we can do for now is to sit tight.  And I hate it when I don’t know what’s happening.”

———————————————————————————————————-

Episode 117 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Belle gets message from Gavin; Blanche asks Marie to contact Nicholas; Gavin is questioned

“Hello, Nicholas, can you take a break?” asks Belle.

“Hey, welcome back.  But hold on, there’s someone who wants to meet you.”

“Not right now,” says Belle.  “We need to talk.”

Rachel approaches them.  “Ready for our late lunch?” she asks Nicholas.

Nicholas smiles.  “Yeah, uh.  Why don’t we all go to lunch?  This is your chance to meet Belle here.”

Rachel turns to Belle, beaming.  “I’ve been wanting to meet you since I first saw you.”

“Oh?  Where was that?”

“In Boston.”

“Boston?” Belle asks.  She inclines her head and examines Rachel’s face.  “I’m sure I would have – ”  She suddenly feels faint and grabs a chair.

Rachel reaches for her and helps her into the chair.  “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what just came over me.” 

Nicholas gets her some water.  “Here, take a drink.  It’s all we have.”

“Thanks.”  After taking a sip, she is overwhelmed with panic and shivers.  “Oh.”

“What’s wrong?” asks Nicholas.

“I don’t know.  I’ve never felt like that before.  But, suddenly, I think Gavin’s in trouble.”  Just then she receives another text.  She reads it, “Help!”

————————————————————————————————–

“I think you did great,” says Michael.

“I wasn’t so sure up there,” responds Amanda.  “I definitely wasn’t going to give him any rope.”

“Why not?  He might hang himself with it.”

“Yes, but then the jury might be convinced that he is truly mad.  Anyone who commits murder is mad, but there is a difference between incompetent insanity and his cold-blooded maneuvers to protect his skin.  It’s too bad they can’t introduce the blackmail.  That would surely show his true colors.”

————————————————————————————————-

“Is Mr. Cole still investigating Melanie?” asks Blanche.

“He’s still on the case,” Marie replies.  “But he has not made any reports.  Why?”

“Melanie met with someone and I believe it was her ex-husband.  I can befriend her and catch her out, but spying is not my line.”

“I’ll try to get a hold of Mr. Cole again.”

———————————————————————————————–

“I think we’re ready to go this weekend,” says Tara.

“This is my first,” says Alex.  “I wish I knew what our competition was like.  I don’t like to look like a fool.”

“Don’t worry,” says Tara.  “Just try to have fun.  Since it’s your first, just concentrate on getting experience, rather than winning.  It’s a lot less stressful that way.”

———————————————————————————————

Rick sings, “The wheels on the bus go swish, swish, swish.”

Lucas laughs.  “No.  Round and round.”

“Oh,” Rick corrects himself.  “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.  The wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town.  The people on the bus go side to side, side to side, side to side.”  He moves side to side while bouncing Lucas.

Lucas laughs harder.  “No. Up and down.”

“Oh,” Rick corrects himself.  He goes on to sing.

————————————————————————————————————–

Gavin is placed on a chair with his hands tied behind him.  The blindfold is removed and he sees three guys before him, one Black, one White, and one Hispanic.

“Who are you?” asks the Black one.  “And what are you doing here?”

“My name’s Gavin Sparks.  I’m a writer and I do a lot of traveling to gather inspiration.  This is my first time in Arizona, and boy is it hot.  I had a little too much to drink and didn’t know where the nearest rest stop was, so I decided to turn off and…well, you know, find a spot.”

“Why were you spying?  This is private property and we don’t like people encroaching on us.”

“I wasn’t spying.  I was trying to find a spot where I wouldn’t be observed.  And just when I was about to  open my pants, your friend there stopped me.” Gavin turns his head to where the White man was standing.

Another man enters – another Hispanic.  “What did you find?” the Black man asks.

“A laptop, some notebooks, some drawings, a bag of clothes, maps, wallet,” the other man answers.

The Black man examines the contents.  “Everything looks fine. But your car was rented out by a Belle Silverman.  Who is she and where is she?”

—————————————————————————————————————-

Episode 116 All That Glitters internet soap opera: Amanda testifies, Blanche trails Melanie, Gavin is caught

“Dr. Steele, before the day of the murder, had you ever seen Mr. Stone?” asked Mr. Truitt, defense attorney.

Amanda took a breath before answering.  She knew she had to be careful.  “I did not recognize him,” she answered.

“How do you mean?” asked Mr. Truitt.

“I mean that I had seen him before, but did not realize he was the same person until later.”

“When did you see him before?”

“The night David Golde was shot,” Amanda responded.  “I saw him by his car.”

“What did he look like at that time?”

“I did not pay any particular attention.”

“Is it possible that you ‘did not pay any particular attention’ because Mr. Stone appeared nothing out of the ordinary?  That he behaved in a very normal way?”

Amanda hesitated.  “It’s possible.”

“Now on the day of Ms. Van Ness’ death, can you recall Mr. Stone’s appearance?”

“I was in a state of shock.”

“Come, Dr. Steele, you had enough wits about you to call for him to ‘Stop!’.  You testified that when he heard you, he came after you.  You were in possession of your mind and you had time to observe him.   As a doctor, you are trained to be observant, so you should be able to comment on his appearance.”

Amanda looked at the attorney warily.  “He was angry.”

“Angry?  Not wild?  Not uncontrollable?”

“Objection, your honor,” said Mrs. Starr, the district attorney.  “He is leading the witness.”

“I’ll withdraw.  But, Dr. Steele, you testified that Mr. Stone later attacked you.  This was a matter of at least half an hour after he apparently came after you in anger.  Do you not suppose that had he been merely angry, he would have cooled off and disappeared?  Why take a risk and attack you?  Does it not suggest a disturbed mind?”

“I cannot answer for that.  Different people react differently to anger.”

Mr. Truitt huffed and returned to his table.

—————————————————————————————————–

“So, you’re back,” says Ashley.

“Hello, Ashley,” says Belle.  “I saw the reviews.  I’m sorry I missed your first public appearance.”

“Never mind that.  I’m curious to know where you stand with Nicholas.”

“What do you mean?” asks Belle.

“He said you had a fight and split up.  That’s why he came back without you.  Where did you guys go?  What did you fight about?  Is it over for good?”

“I don’t know, yet,” says Belle.  “I haven’t talked to him since I came back.”

“Well, let me know if it’s really splitsville, ‘cus I’m dying to get him to myself.”

“Excuse me?  You’re actually going to leave him alone if I want him?” asks Belle, incredulous.

“Did I say that?  I’m afraid you misunderstand, little sis.  I just use different tactics.”

“What about Gavin?”

“What about him?  I’ve never been a one-man woman.”

———————————————————————————————

Blanche decides to take a lunch break when she sees Melanie leave the building.  She follows Melanie to the Hot Spot Cafe.  Blanche enters and seeing Mark, waves him aside.

“Why, Aunt Blanche, I’m glad someone in the family is showing an interest.”

“Shhh.  Did I just see Melanie come in?” Blanche asks.

“Melanie?  Why would she want to come here?  I was out back a moment ago, so I don’t know.  But, let me check.”

“Wait.  I know I saw her come in.  But I’m surprised she would want to show her face here, knowing you own it.”

“But she doesn’t know.  None of the family took any interest in what I was doing, so I didn’t give them any details.”

“Well, we shouldn’t scare her off, so make yourself scarce.  I’ll see what she’s up to.”

Blanche cautiously approaches the back of the cafe and slides into a booth.  Melanie is sitting with her back towards her and Blanche hunches down to keep below the level of the seat.

“I warned you to get out of town,” says Carl.

“I can’t do that right now,” says Melanie.  “William has promoted me to the board.”

“Sitting pretty arent’ you?  Well, plans have changed.  I have to get out of town and I’m not leaving without you.”

“That’s too bad,” says Melanie.  “I’m no longer married to you, so I don’t need to follow you.”

“You’d better think again.  Either way, loverboy’s going to suffer for this.”

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin reaches a fork in the road and decides to try the right fork.  From what he could see on the map, they would reach the same road, at different points, and he could always return the other way.  As he reached his road, a car speeds by him going back towards the highway.  He recognizes it as Ryan Loomis’ and decides to turn the other way.  He follows the road until he sees another little used road with fresh tire marks on it.  He turns and follows the tracks.  As he approaches the edge of a woods, he slows down and pulls over.  He decides to explore on foot.  In the middle of the woods, he sees a house that is being heavily guarded.  Seeing that he was outnumbered, he decides to return to the car.  But as he turns around, he sees a gun pointed at him.

—————————————————————————————————————-