For Now and Forever
produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

 

Episode #100 (Friday, 3/8/02)
Same Day
February, 1936 - Morning
REGINALD & JILLIAN'S WEDDING DAY

GOOD HOPE CHURCH - THE BRIDE'S DRESSING ROOM

"Jillian, it's time," came the voice of Mark Linford from the other side of the door.  "It's time to get you married."

"O-okay," she sighed with a mixture of joy and sadness.  "Just give me...a few more minutes.  I'll...be right there."

"I'll be waiting for you in the vestibule," he called out.  "Let's hurry up and get this thing over with."

Mark was definitely not the most romantic of fellows, Jillian realized as she carefully worked to pin the long veil to her hair.  She'd much rather have her father walk her down the isle, but---considering the circumstances and her father's visit---she knew that that wasn't something that was likely to happen.  Mark would only be a poor substitute.

Her veil finally in place, Jillian walked towards the door, but paused in front of the floor length mirror for one last look.  Everything was perfect!  Taking a deep breath, she smiled and realized that, in spite of the unpleasant visits from Dane and her father, she wasn't going to allow anything to ruin her day.

"Let's go get married," she muttered to herself with a smile and turned to walk out of the room.  She was ill prepared for who she found on the other side of the door.  "Oh, god," she muttered with unhappy annoyance.

"I...I hope I'm not too late," Stephanie Lake said and then pushed her way into the room.

"I am not doing this!  I'm not letting you destroy my wedding day!" Jillian shouted angrily.

"Just...listen to me," Stephanie pleaded.  "I...I have to talk to you.  There are...a few things I'd like to say.  I can't let you marry Reginald."

GOOD HOPE CHURCH - SANCTUARY

"Mrs. Stokes, you've really out done yourself with this wedding," Burt Lamont whispered as he followed the Stokes family into their pew.  "It's absolutely beautiful."

"Well, only the best for my little girl," Leticia Stokes beamed proudly as she surveyed her surroundings.  The entire wedding had cost a pretty penny---money funded entirely by herself with no help from her husband---but every cent had been worth it.  "And wait until you see the dress!  It's...spectacular!"

"Mark, where's Jillian?" Judith Linford asked when she caught sight of her husband approaching them.  "Isn't she ready yet?"

"Almost," he muttered softly.  "You know how your sister can be.  She thinks she's got to look perfect."

"She better hurry up," Leticia sighed as she glanced down at her watch.  "The wedding is scheduled to start any minute.  We can't have a wedding without a bride!"

"I wish that my wedding hadn't had a bride," Mark muttered under his breath.

"I heard that!" Judith snapped angrily.  "If you think that this has all been a bed of roses for me, then you're sadly mistaken."

"If you both don't shut up," Leticia spoke up through clinched teeth, "then I'm going to chain you both together and leave you like that permanently!"

The thought of being stuck together forever made both Mark and Judith's eyes grow wide with fear.  Judith simply pursed her lips tightly, folded her hands neatly in her lap, and turned to keep her eyes straight ahead.  No way that she was going to be stuck with him for an eternity!

"I...um..." Mark stammered--- he himself less than enthusiastic about that idea.   "I'll go back into the vestibule with Helen and Janet and wait for Jillian to get ready."

Burt turned to look back over his shoulder at Janet who was standing quietly in the vestibule with the small bouquet of flowers and waiting her her younger sister to make her appearance.  He smiled warmly at her.  The sight of her with the bouquet was sparking more than a few ideas inside his head.

"Judith, I just don't know why you didn't want to be one of Jillian's brides maids," Leticia whispered as she leaned over to her daughter.

"I'd prefer not to participate," Judith muttered.  "In my opinion, weddings should only be a spectator sport."

"Oh, honestly," Leticia sighed.

"Well, I can think of at least one instance were the idea of a wedding wouldn't have been such a bad idea."  Judith casually glanced over to Burt who met her gaze with an angry glare.  "But, alas, I got stuck with second prize---a booby prize at that!"

"Judith, that's no way to talk about Mark," Leticia chastised.  "He's your husband!"

"Yes, I know," she muttered dryly.  "And I so keep trying to forget."

"Well, your marriage can't be all bad.  You were carrying his..."  Leticia froze when she realized what she was about to say.  It was supposed to be a happy day.  No sense bringing up tragic memories of the child that Judith had lost.  The saddened and solemn look that clouded over Judith's face immediately told Leticia that it was too late.

"Yes, Mark's child," Judith muttered, almost icily, before turning to shoot Burt a mournful and pained look.

Uncomfortable with the conversation, Burt began to tune them out as he let his eyes wander around the church.  He quickly caught sight of the Callison family who were seated on the groom's side of the isle and promptly grew uncomfortable.  How odd it was to actually be a part of that family, yet not be a part of that family at the same time.  While the rest of Burt's newfound family were joyously seated together, he was seated on the bride's side.  True, that was only because of Janet, but there was still a strange irony to the situation.  Even at a family event like a wedding, he still felt like he was regarded as an outsider.  Silently, he wondered if that would ever change.

"I just wish that your father were here," Leticia sighed to Judith as she hung her head.  "It's not right that Jillian is getting married without her father.  He should be here."

"Well, you know how Daddy is," Judith nodded.  "He's convinced that she's making a mistake.  I don't know if he can..."

"Is there room for one more?" came the voice from the isle.

"N-Nelson!" Leticia exclaimed as she jumped up and threw her arms around him.  "You...you came!"

"Why wouldn't I," he replied as he slid into the pew next to her.  "Our daughter is getting married.  Why wouldn't I want to be here?"

"But...well..."  She turned to glance back over her shoulder to where Mark was standing and waiting for Jillian.  "There's still time for you to...walk Jillian down the isle like a father should."

"I will do no such thing!" Nelson snapped angrily.  "Just because I'm here doesn't mean that I approve of this marriage.  I will not give my stamp of approval on this disaster by escorting Jillian down the isle and simply handing her over to him!"  He paused and took a deep breath to calm his temper.  "I'm here because I want to see my daughter on her wedding day.  I'm here because I want to see her make the biggest mistake of her entire life with my own eyes and....and I want to be here for her in case she comes to her senses."

"Oh, Nelson," Leticia muttered with a shake of her head, "when are you going to learn that you can't dictate and control everyone's life?  When are you going to realize that you most definitely don't always know best?"

"When someone can prove to me that I don't," he countered as he folded his arms tightly across his chest. 

Taking another deep breath, Nelson glanced down at his watch and furrowed his brow.  The wedding was supposed to start at any moment, but there didn't seem to be any indication that it was about to begin.  What in the world could be the delay?  Maybe Jillian had finally come to her sense.  He let out a weary sigh and silently prayed that that was the case.

GOOD HOPE CHURCH - THE BRIDE'S DRESSING ROOM

"What do you mean you can't let me marry Reginald?" Jillian asked as she felt her face start to flush with anger.  "I don't think you have any say in the matter!  I knew that Paddy was wrong about you!  I knew that you hadn't changed.  You and Dane are still out to ruin our happiness!"

"Dane?"  Stephanie furrowed her brow slightly.  "What does Dane have to do with anything?  I'm not here because of Dane."

"Well...you're still here trying to cause trouble!" Jillian spat.  "There's nothing you could ever say that would keep me from marrying Reginald.  When are you just going to accept that you were nothing more than a mistake?  He wants nothing to do with you!  Besides, I thought you'd latched onto Paddy.  Isn't one man enough for you or do you have to try and have them all?"

"J-Jillian, I...I..."  Stephanie awkwardly looked away.  Jillian's sharp comments affected her deeply.  "I'm not here to try and cause trouble.  I..."

"You said that you couldn't let me marry Reginald!  I don't know what that sounds like to you, but to me..."

"M-maybe I should have finished my sentence," Stephanie sighed awkwardly, almost apologetically.  "What I was trying to say is that I couldn't let you marry Reginald without me talking to you first."  She paused, looked away to avoid Jillian's penetrating glare, and took a deep breath.

"There's nothing that you could say that I would even care to listen to!" Jillian spat.  "I have no desire to listen to any more of your horrible lies."

"T-that's not w-why I'm here," Stephanie stammered as she began to grow more and more uncomfortable.  "I...I..."

"Oh, just wait until I tell Paddy!  He'll see that you haven't changed!  He'll see that you're still the same awful, wicked girl you've always been!"

"If you would just shut up and let me talk!" Stephanie snapped angrily

Taken aback by her sudden outburst, Jillian bit her lip and looked away in discomfort.  "Just say whatever it is you have to say and get out!  That seems to be the only way I'm going to get rid of you."

"I...I'm sorry," Stephanie muttered.  "I just couldn't let you marry Reginald without telling you how sorry I am for...everything that I did to...destroy what you two have."

"W-what?"  Jillian's eyes grew wide with surprise.  Surely she couldn't have heard her correctly.  "What did you say?"

"I said that I'm sorry!" Stephanie repeated as her voice took on a more solid and confident tone.  "I had no business trying to come between the two of you.  It was...obvious, even then, that you two were very much in love and that whatever he and I might have had had been over for a long time."

"I...can't believe that I'm hearing this," Jillian muttered and shook her head in disbelief.  After a few moments, Jillian turned to stare at Stephanie and inspected her expressions and demeanor closely for evidence that there was something else behind the sudden apology---some nefarious scheme that was being set into motion.  "What are you really up to?"

"That's...it," Stephanie sighed as she hung her head.  "I just couldn't let you marry Reginald without finally putting all of the bad things to rest.  I couldn't let you marry him without telling you how...how sorry I am for everything that I've done."

"Why should I believe you?"  Jillian eyed her suspiciously.  That couldn't be all that there was.  There had to be more behind her apology.

"I guess, considering everything that's happened, you shouldn't," Stephanie confessed.  "But I am being honest with you.  There are no ulterior motives behind this.  I should have given up on Reginald a long time ago.  In fact, I had given up on him, but I let myself listen to Momma and Dane.  They convinced me that he loved me and that we would have been together if it weren't for you."  She paused and bit her lip.  "Only now I see that they really weren't thinking of me and my feelings and what was best for me.  They were only using me for their own selfish agendas."

"Um...well..."  Jillian continued to eye her former rival carefully as she tried to weigh her sincerity against everything that she already knew.  "If...you're really being honest with me, if you're really sorry for everything that's happened, then I...accept your apology."  Her eyes immediately took on a more stern look.  "Don't make me regret that."

"Oh, Jillian, you won't," Stephanie assured as she began to look as if a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders.  "And I...want to tell you that I don't think that Reginald had anything to do with Momma's death.  He just...couldn't have had anything to do with it.  I will never believe that he killed my mother."

"I don't believe it either," Jillian sighed, a little shocked that she found herself in agreement with Stephanie, of all people.  "And I never will."

"If I can do anything---anything at all---to help prove that he's innocent, please let me know."  Stephanie reached out and grabbed Jillian's hands urgently.  Jillian was appropriately taken aback, but she didn't act on her first instinct to pull away.  "You two are so happy together.  You two belong together.  I've...always known that, I guess, but I could just never admit it to myself."  She paused and hung her head.  "I've always been so jealous of you, Jillian.  Not just where Reginald is concerned, either.  You've always had a sophistication and style that I've always...well...wished could be mine."

"Stephanie, I...don't know what to say," Jillian blushed, quite uncomfortable with Stephanie's flattery.  "Thank you."

"Well, I've taken up entirely too much of your time," Stephanie sighed as she began to walk towards the door.  "I don't want to keep you from marrying Reginald."  She paused and turned around to look at Jillian again.  "I know that...that we'll never be friends or anything like that, but...well...I just hope that we can finally put the animosity in the past."

"I'd...like that," Jillian nodded, quite shocked that the words were coming out of her mouth.  "In fact..."  She bit her lip with apprehension and took a deep breath.  "Would you like to stay for the wedding?"

"Me?"  Stephanie's eyes grew wide with surprise.  This invitation was quiet unexpected and something that she'd never dreamed of.  "I...well..."  She winced and looked away.  "Thank you, but I really don't belong here.  Of all the people that deserve to be here celebrating your happiness, I'm not one of them.  I'm really happy for you, Jillian---honestly I am---but I just don't belong here."

And, with that, Stephanie quietly left a still stunned Jillian alone.  Of everything that Jillian had expected to happen on her wedding day, Stephanie's sudden and unexpected apology had not been one of them.  Taking a deep breath, she turned to glance at herself in the mirror again and smiled when she saw that her bridal glow had not diminished.  When she checked the time, she immediately saw that she was late and let out a sharp gasp.  She was late for her own wedding!  Surely Reginald was getting worried.  After taking one last look in the mirror, Jillian opened the door and prepared to go make her grand walk down the a isle.

THE DAILY POST - ARCHIVES ROOM

"I really don't understand what all of this is about," Artie Green muttered as he led Detective Jim Fitzpatrick, Officer Russ Leeds, and Larry Rawlings down the rows of filing cabinets.  He turned and shot a curious and hateful look at Larry.  "And I really don't understand what he's doing here!  Don't you have some dirt to make up on some old woman in a wheel chair?"

"That's next week," Larry retorted, rather amused that he was deep inside the inner sanctum of his newspaper's rival publication.  "I've got more important things on the agenda for today."

"Rawlings, just shut up," Jim ordered angrily.  "I think it was a mistake to even let you be a part of this, but..."

"But you're just a little afraid of what I might write about the shoddy work of the Albanyville Police Department."  A smug grin spread across Larry's face.  He knew that he had them exactly where he wanted them and, as a result, he was about to land the biggest story of his career.

Jim winced slightly because Larry had been completely accurate about the reasoning behind his presence with them as they investigate the murder.  Both the chief of police and the district attorney had been breathing down his neck to arrest and formally charge Reginald Callison for the murder of Annabelle Lake, but he'd strongly resisted.  Something about the entire case just didn't sit right with him.  Jim was certain that Callison wasn't the guilty party; he was positive that he was covering up for the real murderer.  However, they'd had no real proof of that and no evidence that might suggest who that murderer might have been.  Until now...

"I don't understand why the pictures that I took at that party are so important," Artie mumbled again as he paused in front of a file cabinet and pulled open the top drawer.  "Let's see....hmm....the engagement party---no, wrong party---hmm...  Oh, look!  Here are some great shots I got of the snow storm a few weeks ago..."

"Why do I get the impression that you're stalling?" Russ questioned as he watched the photographer carefully.  "Are the pictures there or not?"

"I'm looking!  I'm looking!"  Artie furrowed his brow and took a deep breath.  He was less than thrilled to have a role in helping the police undercover evidence that they might use against Reginald Callison.  Of course, Larry's presence didn't leave him with a good feeling either.

"Oh, this isn't getting us anywhere!" Jim snapped and pushed Artie out of the way so that he could take his own look.  Within a few moments, he'd found the large envelope with pictures taken at the ill fated party and smiled triumphantly.  "Here they are!  Now, that wasn't so difficult, was it?"

"Well, if you'd given me a chance," Artie mumbled and awkwardly looked away.

"Now, let's have a look at these..."  Jim carried the pictures over to a nearby table---closely followed by Russ, Larry, and Artie---and sat down before spilling them out onto the table to carefully and meticulously sift threw them.

"Those are some nice shots, Artie," Larry nodded with a wicked grin.  "I especially like how you captured the essence of the Callison family.  You really should consider coming to work for The Examiner where your talents could really be used."

"Shut up, Rawlings," Artie snapped angrily.

One by one, Jim and Russ examined every picture closely for any glimpse of a woman wearing the elaborate scarf.  They saw pictures of Charles and Burt standing side by side, pictures of the intricately decorated cake that was created to help mark the occasion of Burt's coming out as a Callison, pictures of Patterson Monroe and Stephanie Lake, pictures of Dane Manchester dancing with Grace Davis....

Jim furrowed his brow and let out a weary sigh.  In all of the pictures that they'd seen, there'd been no sign of the woman with the scarf.  Until...

"Oh, my god," Larry gasped as he pointed at a picture that lay near the bottom of the pile.  He could only see the edge of it, but...  "Look!  Look at this!"  He pulled the photograph out of the stack and put it on top so that Jim and Russ could examine it further.

"Well, I'll be," Russ gasped when he took a good look.  "Isn't that..."

"Hold on," Jim muttered and reached out to grab another envelope that sat on the edge of the table.  Anxiously, he opened it and pulled out the silk scarf that he'd found in Reginald's bedroom---the same scarf that had been worn by the mystery woman.  In an instant, he could clearly see that it was the same as the one that was in the picture!  They had found their mystery woman.

"Oh, this is just too good," Larry snickered with glee.  "Well, boys, I guess I'll see you later!"

"And where do you think you're going?" Jim questioned sternly.

"I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I've got a story to write!"  Larry smiled and then quickly turned to leave.

"Not so fast, Rawlings," Russ spoke up as he reached out and grabbed him tightly by the arm.  "You've managed to force yourself on us so far.  What makes you think that you're just gonna cut out on us now?"

"Huh?"  Larry eyed him curiously.  "You're not...ready to get rid of me?"

"Oh, we're more than ready," Jim muttered, "but you're not going anywhere yet.  We have a couple of more stops to make."

"Stops?"

"Yes."  Jim glanced down at his watch.  "I think it's time for lunch."

"Lunch?"  Larry's eyes grew wide with surprise.  "We break this case wide open and you want lunch?"

"I was think about Joe's Cafe," Jim smiled and then turned to Russ.  "What do you think?"

"Sounds got to me," Russ grinned.  "I'm famished."

"And, while we're there, we can get Miss Wagner to give us a positive I.D. based on this photo."  Jim slipped the picture of the mystery woman into the same envelope as the scarf and tucked it securely under his arm.  "C'mon, Rawlings.  We have places to go and people to see."

As Jim, Russ, and Larry quickly headed out of the room, Artie simply shook his head nervously.  He hadn't seen what had been in the picture, but was certain that it wasn't going to be good news when what the police had discovered was finally revealed.

BAILY PARK

Stephanie silently strolled along the walkway and shivered as the crisp February wind whipped past her.  True, it was a warmer than normal day and the sun that was shining brightly warmed her face, but the air still had a bite to it---and so did life.  She'd considering just going home, but the prospect of running into Dane again made her wary.  She would have gone to see Patterson, but he was at the wedding.  She was all alone.

She felt good about what she'd said to Jillian.  It was long overdue.  She'd known for quite some time that she'd been completely wrong in her attempts to take Reginald away from her and had longed for some way to put that dismal part of her past to rest.  Maybe now she could move on.  Maybe now she could live her life without the specter of the events that happened at the engagement party hanging over her head.

Did this mean that her apology wasn't sincere?  Not at all.  Yes, there were some ulterior motives such as the slow redemption of herself in the eyes of the people that she'd wronged, but she was, in fact, truly sorry for all of the turmoil that she'd caused many months earlier.  Neither Reginald nor Jillian had deserved the treatment that she'd given them.  It had taken her a long time to accept that.  Actually, it was only because of Patterson's continued positive influence in her life that she could finally make that realization.

Patterson.  No matter what horrible things that she'd done, he'd been the one constant and guiding light in her life.  He'd believed in her and he'd trusted her and he'd pushed her onward into being a better person.  She'd never known anyone like him in her entire life.  He'd become so special to her.  He was just the kind of guy that a girl could fall in love with.

Love?  Did that thought actually cross her mind?  Could she possibly fall in love with Patterson?  As Stephanie turned to dodge another blast of winter wind, she bit her lip and considered the possibilities.  Of course, it wouldn't do her any good to let herself fall for Paddy.  After all, he only thought of her as a friend---a pet project, so to speak.  However, there had been those sudden kisses that they'd shared...  Stephanie let out a soft sigh and shook her head.  No, those kisses had only been the result of his pain from losing Lorraine.  He'd needed someone and she'd been there.  It wasn't her that he'd kissed.  It had only been a replacement for Lorraine.  Of course, all of that was in the past and Paddy had managed to move beyond Lorraine's betrayal.  What the future really held for them, she wasn't sure.  She could only see it in regards to the past.

Her mother had warned her that it was foolish to marry for love.  Love would get you in trouble every time.  Financial and social stability were much more important and would last long after the love had faded.  Was that why her mother had pursued Charles Callison so relentlessly---stability?  Was that why she'd pushed Stephanie so hard to take Reginald away from Jillian?  Her mother had repeatedly told her that she'd only wanted what was best for her and had assured her that Reginald was it.  In retrospect, Stephanie could clearly see that her mother had been wrong---dead wrong.  All that her mother's quest for security had gotten her was the eternal security of a pine box.

Her mother was gone now and Stephanie was left with only her memory and the constant inner struggle that resulted.  She so wanted to do the good and honest thing so that she could live up to Patterson's expectations of her.  She owed him that much for all of his constant support and devotion.  However, Stephanie just couldn't completely turn her back on everything that she'd known.  Her intense encounter with Helen Van Dyne had proven that to her.

She'd felt powerful and in control for the first time in ages and she reveled in it.  She felt strong, not weak.  Was it possible to be true and honest and still feel those same feelings?  Stephanie wasn't entirely sure.  She hoped so, but what if it weren't possible?  No, she couldn't think about that.  She couldn't allow herself to slip back into old habits after she'd struggled so hard to change them.  She owed it to Patterson and she desperately wanted his respect and admiration.

As the strong wind continued to blow, Stephanie decided that she needed to head home.  Home?  She didn't really have a home.  She'd been evicted from the apartment that she'd shared with her mother because she couldn't pay the rent and now she was living in the same house as Sara and Dane.  She winced slightly and realized that that arrangement wasn't going to work.  She had to find someway to make it on her own and get as far away from Dane as possible.  He always knew how to push all of her buttons and Stephanie was certain that constant exposure to him would begin to force her back into old habits.

Taking a deep breath, Stephanie reached into her coat pocket and pulled out the business card of Willis Lowell.  A radio actress---could she actually have a job like that?  Did she really have what it took?  She wasn't sure, but it was starting to seem like that might be her best and only option.  With a nod of her head, she decided that, first thing in the morning, she was going to call Mr. Lowell and set up an appointment.  She didn't know how successful she might be at it, but it was worth a shot.

As another stiff breeze lapped at her body, Stephanie turned down the pathway towards the main street and began to head home, not realizing that she was being watched.

"Oh, Stephanie, I've waited so long for this moment," Clark Saxon muttered under his breath as he eyed her closely.  "You and your Momma did everything you could to destroy my life.  She got exactly what she deserved and now it's your turn."

Taking deliberate steps, Clark began to follow Stephanie and gradual began to pick up his pace.  The time was now.  He had to make his move.  It was time to settle an old score.

Little did Clark know that the watcher had become the watched.

GOOD HOPE CHURCH - SANCTUARY

It was time.  As the delicate strains of the orchestra began, Janet---the brides maid---began her slow walk down the isle.  When she was right beside the pew where Burt was seated, she glanced over to him.  Would this one day be their wedding?  Would she find herself walking down the long isle to a waiting Burt?  When he smiled at her, she smiled back.  Once she'd passed, her smile quickly faded with the realization that if he were to ever learn about what role she played in the death of his child, she could forget about any dreams she might  have concerning a wedding.  As she took her place by the alter, she shook her head as if to free her mind of her troubled thoughts.  This wasn't the time for that.  This was a wedding---a happy and joyous affair.  After taking a deep breath, she smiled again.  No time for sadness.  Jillian was getting married.

Helen Van Dyne---the maid of honor---next began her walk down the isle.  As she passed the pew where Judith was sitting, she glanced over and saw her stony expression.  How would she react if Stephanie were to tell her the truth about her relationship with Mark?  Would she try to salvage her marriage?  Would she try to get back at Helen out of spite?  Helen swallowed hard with the realization that maybe Clark had been right.  Maybe they did have to do everything that they could to destroy Stephanie  before she destroyed them.  

Taking a deep breath, Helen took her place next to Janet and looked over at Reginald who was waiting patiently, yet nervously, across from her.  She couldn't help but laugh to herself about the irony of the entire situation.  After all, Helen had dated him first.

After everyone was in place---Janet and Helen on the left and Reginald, Trevor, and Patterson on the right---the large wooden doors in the back of the sanctuary closed.  This was it.  It was time.

"Are you ready?" Mark asked Jillian softly as they stood in the vestibule and waited for their cue.

"I'm more ready than I've ever been in my entire life," she smiled.

"Then let's get you married," he whispered and then took her arm and stepped in front of the doors.

Just then, the music swelled and the doors swing open to reveal a radiant Jillian on Mark's arm as they began their slow and dramatic walk down the isle.  Reginald couldn't help but laugh.  Jillian sure knew how to make an entrance.  As she slowly approached him, he inhaled deeply and smiled.  He had never seen anyone look more beautiful or more radiant in his entire life.  He knew at that moment that he was the luckiest man in the world.

As Jillian walked toward the alter, she kept her eyes focused on Reginald, the man who would be her husband.  She was so focused that she couldn't possibly have seen what was going on around her.

Dane Manchester was seated in the very back row, his eyes blazing with jealousy.  How could she do it?  How could she actually marry Reginald!  Could she really turn her back on everything that they'd shared?

When she reached the pew where her family sat, she took her eyes off of Reginald for a moment to smile at them.  Her jaw immediately dropped with joyous shock when she saw her father.  He'd come!  He'd actually come to her wedding!  Little did she know that he was silently praying for a miracle---some sort of divine intervention that would prevent her from make what he viewed as the biggest mistake of her life.  Of course, Jillian who was filled with an overabundance of joy could never have known this.

Finally, Jillian reached the alter and left Mark's side to take Reginald's hand.  It was time.

"Dearly beloved," the minister began, "we are gathered her today in the presence of God to join this man and this woman together in the bonds of holy matrimony.  Marriage is a sacred commitment between two people and God.  It is a commitment of love and a commitment of family.  It is a commitment that is to be made for an eternity."

"If anyone here has just cause why this couple should not be joined together in holy matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."

Jillian's breath caught in her throat.  Surely no one would even think to...

"Wait!" came a loud voice from the back of the church.

As the crowd of guests began to stir and chatter about who had spoken, all eyes turned towards the back of the church to see who had interrupted the wedding.  Jillian's eyes glazed over with confusion and fear.  This wasn't supposed to happen!  This wasn't the way it was supposed to be!

"R-Reginald, what's going...on?" she asked nervously as she grasped his hand tightly.  "Why are they...."

"I'm really sorry, Miss Stokes," Detective Jim Fitzpatrick sighed when he reached the front of the church.  "I really hate to do this, but I have a job to do."

"What's the meaning of this?" Reginald demanded angrily.  "Who the hell do you think you are just barging into the middle of our wedding?  Don't you have any decency?"

"Murder isn't a decent thing, Mr. Callison," Jim replied as he turned to survey the crowd before looking toward the back of the church where several uniformed officers stood.  "As an officer of the law, it is my job to bring criminals to justice.  Justice knows no proper time nor place."

"Reginald, I don't...understand," Jillian whispered nervously.   "What's...going on?  Why are they here?"

"I...I..." he muttered in replied as he grew more and more nervous.

"Mr. Callison, I know that you've done your very best to thwart our investigation into the murder of Mrs. Lake," Jim spoke pointedly and deliberately, "but surely you must realize that the truth always comes out.  You can't hide things forever."

Janet winced at those words.

"Oh, god," Reginald gasped as he hung his head.  "I...I..."

"We know about the scarf, Mr. Callison."

"Scarf?" Jillian asked as she felt herself growing more and more confused.  "Reginald, what is he talking about?"

"I'll...explain it all later," he sighed.  This glorious day was beginning to turn into a nightmare.

"We know that you've been covering for someone.  We know that you've been protecting the real killer."

"Reginald?"  Jillian's eyes filled with worry.

"I'm sorry that we have to do this, Mr. Callison," Jim muttered.  "Especially today."  He then carefully began to look around the room until he found what he was looking for and stepped away from the now unhappy bride and groom.  He then motioned for the officers to move to the front of the church as he took on a more stony expression and paused to take a deep breath.

"I'm really sorry, ma'am, but you're under arrest for the murder of Annabelle Lake."

TO BE CONTINUED

ON MONDAY

The mystery woman's identity is revealed!

For Now and Forever
produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions