For Now and Forever
EPISODE #103 (Wednesday,
SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY
"Helga! Would you get the damn door?" Joyce Preston barked angrily. Why did she have so much trouble getting Helga to obey orders? After a few more intrusive chimes, Joyce took a deep breath to ease her rising temper. "Helga! Get the door!"
"Yes, ma'am," Helga Grimm muttered with a smirk as she sat her feather duster down and began to do as requested. "Anything for you. After all, you are the---ahem---lady of the house."
After stepping out into the foyer, Helga rolled her eyes and let out a frustrated growl. She simply couldn't stand Joyce Preston and was finding it harder and harder to deal with her. Sure, Dane was nice enough, but she loathed Joyce and Sara. And now that brat Stephanie had moved it? The manor was becoming a veritable three ringed circus! Helga wasn't sure how much more she could take. Thank god it couldn't get any worse.
"Hello?" Helga muttered as she opened the door to find an unfamiliar face. "Can I help you?"
Naomi Jackson smiled broadly as she shifted little Aubrey's weight in her arms. "Yes, you can," she replied matter-of-factly and pushed her way into the house. "I'm here to see Thornton Preston and I'm not leaving until I do!"
THE DAVIS HOME - KITCHEN
Lorraine Davis walked into to the room to find her sister-in-law Grace Davis standing at the sink and doing the dinner dishes. However, Grace didn't seem to be making much progress. It seemed like she'd been doing the dishes for almost a half an hour, yet she'd barely made a dent in the stack. Lorraine furrowed her brow, clearly knowing that it shouldn't take that long to do the dishes, and watched Grace closely. By the vacant and lost look on Grace's face, it became immediately apparent to Lorraine that something was weighing heavily on her mind.
"Here, let me help you with those," Lorraine spoke up as she walked over to the sink and picked up a dish towel. "You wash and I'll rinse and dry."
"Douglas said that he didn't want you doing anything to over exert yourself," Grace muttered and kept her eyes focused on the sink full of suds to avoid meeting Lorraine's eyes. "It won't be long before the baby's here and he doesn't want you doing anything that might cause you any more problems."
"Nonsense!" Lorraine exclaimed with a frown. "I would like to know how doing the dishes is going to cause me to over exert myself. I swear, that brother of yours treats me like an invalid!"
"Well, you did have all of those problems with the baby and..." Grace's voice trailed off as she returned her focus to the suds and took a deep breath.
"Okay. Out with it," Lorraine ordered sternly. "What's eating at you?"
"I...I don't know what you mean," Grace stammered awkwardly and popped her head up to look at Lorraine. "I'm...fine."
"No, you're not. It's written all over your face." Lorraine's eyes narrowed as she inspected Grace closely. "So what's bothering you? You know, you haven't really been acting like yourself for weeks now."
"It's just...um..." Grace looked away in discomfort. "I guess that Momma's death is harder on me than I realized. I know that she really hadn't been in good health for years, but I'd always hoped that maybe---somehow---things could be the way they used to be when I was little and now...well...now we'll never get that second chance."
"Honey, your mother's death has been hard for all of us---your brother included." Lorraine took a plate out of Grace's hand and carefully ran it under the running water to rinse away the suds. "But I think that there's more to it than that. You've been acting rather odd around Trevor, too, and I would think that he'd be the one you'd be most likely to confide in right now. You two have gotten rather serious over the past few months and..."
"Why do you care what's going on between me and Trevor?" Grace snapped, her tone startling Lorraine. "Why do you care about me period? It's not like we're best friends or anything! We've...we've barely even gotten along in the past because of him and..."
"I...well..." It was now Lorraine's turn to be uncomfortable and she quickly looked away as she dried the plate and gently placed it into the dish rack before laying the dish towel down onto the counter. "I know that we didn't exactly get off to a very good start, but whatever I had---or might have had---with Trevor was over a long time ago. I know that it took me a while to get over it, but I did. Trevor Callison is a part of my past and he's a part of your future."
"Oh, Lorraine, I'm...I'm sorry," Grace muttered as her eyes grew large with the realization of what she'd said and how she'd reacted. "I really didn't mean to say that. I..."
"No, it's all right," Lorraine nodded. "This has been hanging in the air between us for months---ever since Douglas and I got married, in fact. As difficult as this situation between your brother and me has been, I should have realized that it would be just as awkward for you considering...well..." She paused and took a deep breath. "I wasn't exactly very nice to you at the time, was I?"
"I really don't hold that against you. It was an awkward situation for all of us. I'm not sure I would have reacted any better if I had been in your position. I never...wanted things to happen between me and Trevor the way that they did, but..."
"I know," Lorraine sighed and leaned against the counter, the dishes in the sink having been forgotten in favor of more important things. "I just want you to know that I've put my relationship with Trevor in the past. It took me a long time to get past everything that happened, but I realized that it wasn't going to do me any good to hang onto some foolish kind of jealous rage. Trevor and I just weren't meant to work out. Neither were Paddy and I, for that matter." She hesitated and looked down vacantly down at the floor.
"Lorraine, I'm sorry," Grace spoke up as she carefully put her hand on her sister-in-law's shoulder. "I really shouldn't have brought any of this up."
"No, it's all right," Lorraine sighed. "Everything happens for a reason. I'm discovering that I'm happier with Douglas more than I ever thought I could be. Actually, I think I'm...well...."
"Grace, Trevor loves you with all of his heart," Lorraine continued with a completely different thought. "Even I can see that. Don't shut him out like I know you've been doing. If anyone can be there for you and help you to deal with your mother's death, it's him."
"I...I don't know..." Grace's voice trembled slightly as she thought about the real reasons for her distance from Trevor.
"Just give him a chance to be there for you," Lorraine urged. "I know he wants to be there. Whatever it is that you're going through, talk to him about it. I'm sure he can..."
The ringing of the doorbell intruded on their conversation.
"Saved by the bell," Grace quipped with a half smile.
"Just let me see who that is and---if you want---we can finish this conversation in a minute."
"O-okay," Grace nodded, uncertain whether it was a conversation she truly wished to continue.
As Lorraine walked out of the kitchen and through the living room to the front door, she gently rested her hand on her swollen stomach so that she could feel the slight rumblings of the baby inside. It would only be a few more weeks and she would be a mother---a fact that both thrilled and terrified her. However, those thoughts were quickly pushed out of her head when she opened the door to see who was on the other side.
"T-Trevor!" she gasped, more than a little surprised by the timing of his visit.
"Hello, Lorraine," he smiled awkwardly, "I...I hope Grace is home. I really...want to talk to her."
She nervously bit her lip and glanced back towards the kitchen. Would her words of advice be heeded? Would Grace actually see him after weeks of avoidance?
SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
"Don't just stand there! Tell Thornton that I'm here," Naomi ordered as she stood in the foyer and surveyed the lavish surroundings. When she turned to again look at Helga, she saw that the housekeeper still remained, frozen to the spot with her jaw hanging open. "Don't you listen? I said for you to get Thornton Preston!"
"I...um..." Helga stammered, immediately thrown off-guard by Naomi's arrival and demeanor. "I don't know what business that you, of all people, could have with him, but you won't be having it today or ever! Mr. Preston is dead."
"W-what?" Naomi gasped with shock. "D-dead?" A myriad of conflicting thoughts and emotions began to collide inside her head before a renewed sense of determination began to take over. "No! You're lying to me! You're lying to me because you don't want me to see him." She took a deep breath and her jaw tightened. "Well, I won't let you stop me! Thornton! Thornton! You come here right now! If you think that you can just run out on me like you did, you've got another thing coming!"
"Helga, what the devil is going on out here?" Joyce asked in annoyance as she stepped out of the library and into the foyer. "Who is this...this...girl and why is she yelling like a woman possessed? I certainly hope she's not going to be the new maid. Her behavior is certainly leaving much to be desired."
"Maid?" Naomi spat. "You think I'm going to be the maid?"
"Well, yes," Joyce replied matter-of-factly. "Why else would a girl like you be here?"
"A girl like me?" Naomi let out a deep, throaty laugh and shifted her baby's weight in her arms once again. "I'll have you know that my name is Naomi Jackson. Address me as either 'Naomi' or 'Miss Jackson' or don't address me at all!" She paused to inspect Joyce carefully. "You're Thornton's wife, aren't you? I recognize you from pictures that he's shown me."
"More accurately, I'm Thornton's widow," Joyce corrected as she folded her arms across her chest. "My husband is dead or weren't you listening? Now, my question is what business would a girl like you---Miss Jackson---have with my husband? Why are you here?"
"Well, I guess it's understandable that he wouldn't have mentioned me to you," Naomi replied smugly. "A husband doesn't confide such...indiscretions, shall we say...with his wife."
"What are you getting at?"
"You're not quite as smart as I thought you'd be," Naomi chuckled. "Do I have to spell it out for you? I'm your husband's mistress. Well, I guess that would be 'was', now."
"W-what?" Joyce took several steps backward as the effect of Naomi's announcement began to set in.
"I'd hoped to see him here in Albanyville," Naomi sighed and shook her head, "but I didn't know that he'd died. I...I'm really sorry that I didn't have a chance to see him again." She paused as a look of realization spread across her face. "But...but certainly a man with as much money as Thornton had left provisions for his children in his will."
"We didn't have any children," Joyce correctly sternly.
"Not your children! Thornton's children!"
"My husband didn't have any children!" Joyce's teeth clinched as she became more annoyed with her unexpected visitor.
"Oh, really?" Naomi smiled slyly. "Well, Mrs. Preston, I'd like you to meet my son Aubrey---Thornton's son!"
THE WISHING WELL SODA SHOPPE
"I can't believe that Eliza actually let you out of her sight for a night," Maggie Callison laughed as she leaned back in her seat and thumbed through the text book that was in front of her.
"Well, I just told her that I was going to be studying and that was that," Randy Lamont explained as he nervously spun a pencil around his fingers. "Maggie, I'm...really glad that you wanted to help me study for that English test. I've never been really good at conjugating verbs and diagramming sentences."
"I'm not exactly Shakespeare, either," she laughed. "I barely squeaked by with grades last semester, myself. I just managed to just get good enough grades to keep Mom from grounding me until I'm 20."
"Yeah, but you've got a solid 'B' in English. I'm counting my blessings that I've got a 'D'."
"Well, we made a deal," Maggie nodded. "I help you study for English and you help me study for Math. It's an even trade."
For the next few minutes, Maggie and Randy studied in silence as they intently read through the text in their school books. However, periodically, they would alternately glance up at one another. During one such glance, they both looked at each other at the same time. As a result, they both blushed deeply from having been caught.
"I...I'm sorry," Maggie apologized as she quickly looked away. "I was just...um...thinking about how odd it is that were sorta related, now."
"We are not related!" Randy said firmly as he slammed his book closed and and quickly pushed it away. "My brother is...your cousin. I'm nobody to you. We are not related! I'm not a Callison. He is!"
"I...I didn't mean to upset you," she spoke up awkwardly, quite embarrassed that her casual comment had caused such an intense outburst from him. "I guess...that this is pretty hard on you finding out that your brother really isn't your full brother."
"How would you feel if you found out that one of your brothers was only a half-brother?" he countered.
"I don't...know how I'd feel," she muttered and hung her head. The prospect of that idea was just too discomforting to think about. "But I...well...know how close you two have been and..."
"I don't want to talk about it," Randy said flatly as he folded his arms tightly across his chest and sunk down into his seat. After a few minutes, his rigid expression softened when he realized how his outburst had affected Maggie. "I'm...sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you. It's just that...well...this has been difficult and I...you know."
"Yeah. I'm...I'm sorry I brought it up. It really wasn't my place." She bit her lip and looked away, unable to meet his intense gaze.
"Besides, I have no reason to bother you with my problems when you've got enough of your own as it is," he sighed and then looked at her with much concern. "How are you holding up, anyway? I know what your family is going through right now has to be tough. I can't believe that the police actually think that your mom could actually murder anyone."
"I...I can't believe it, either," she sighed. "There's no way my mother could have done what the police say she did. Everyone's at the house right now with our lawyer trying to figure out what to do."
"Then why are you here? Shouldn't you be with your family?"
"I said the exact same thing!" Maggie exclaimed. "I should be there with Mom and Dad, but...well...they all still think that I'm just a kid. I got so crazy stuck in the penthouse with Nana that you couldn't believe how relieved I was when you called and said that you wanted to study together. As much as I hate to study, it was worth it to have something to take my mind off of everything."
"And here I am just bringing it up again," Randy sighed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...upset you."
"It's...all right," she murmured softly and then hung her head. "But it's just so...hard. I mean, I just thought that our lives were getting back to normal. Reginald and Jillian were getting married and Mom and Dad were...well...sorta acting like they might be working things out and now...now this!"
"It's...okay," Randy sighed and then bit his lip. "Look, I...I know that we didn't really get along very well when we first met and..."
"No, we didn't, did we?" she laughed awkwardly at the memory of their first few disastrous encounters.
"But, well, I think we've moved past that." He paused and took a deep breath. "In fact, I...well...I'd like to think that we've even sorta become friends."
"We have become friends," she nodded and then looked up at him with much interest. "I never would have thought that you and I would've gotten along so well."
"Well, Maggie, what I'm trying to say is..." Randy's voice trailed off as he tried to find just the right words. "Well, since we're friends and everything, if you ever need to talk to anyone---if you ever need anyone to just be there and listen---then I hope you feel like you can talk to me." And with those words, he reached across the table and gently took Maggie's hand into his.
The tender feel of his touch made Maggie's heart race and she gazed at him with a mixture of excitement, shock, and trepidation. Suddenly, she couldn't help but feel that her life---already bogged down with worry and turmoil---had just gotten infinitely more complicated.
SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
"E-excuse me?" Joyce stammered with awkward nervousness. "I don't...think I heard you correctly."
"Oh, I think you heard exactly what I said!" Naomi spat. "This precious little baby, here, is my son---my son with your husband!"
"Well!" Helga gasped with a slight look of amusement. "I didn't know he had it in him!"
"Oh, shut up," Joyce snapped as she turned to shoot the housekeeper and angry look. Realizing that she had to play this exactly right, she paused and took a deep breath and then put on her best charming face. "Naomi, dear, I admit that this is quite a shock, but...well..."
"Yes?" Naomi eyed her suspiciously.
"Let's go into the library where we can chat and be more comfortable," Joyce explained as she carefully led Naomi out of the foyer. "And where we can be alone to talk." She turned and shot Helga a hateful glance.
After they stepped into the library, Joyce pulled the large wooden doors closed so that they might have some privacy and then turned to face Naomi who had made herself more than comfortable on the large, cushioned sofa. Meanwhile, not wanting to miss out on something good, Helga quickly positioned herself right outside the door and listened carefully.
"So...you and my husband had an affair," Joyce began hesitantly. "I assume that this was while we were living in New York?"
"Yes, that's right," Naomi nodded. "I was singing at The Blue Pelican. It's a little jazz club right down on..."
"I'm familiar with it, yes."
"Well, anyway, I was singing there and Thornton would come in several nights a week." Naomi paused and brushed a lock of hair out of little Aubrey's face. "Of course, I didn't notice him at first. He just approached me one night and we started talking after one of my performances. I had never met anyone quite so knowledgeable and intelligent in my entire life. At the time, I didn't really know who he was or how famous he was."
"I'm sure," Joyce nodded, not quite sure how much of the young woman's tale she should believe.
"Well, despite our differences, there was an immediate connection between us," she paused and took a deep breath. "It was like something I'd never experienced before in my entire life. We...just got caught up in the moment and had a torrid love affair."
"So, Miss Jackson---Naomi---how long did this...affair...last?" Joyce sat down in an adjoining chair and kept her eyes locked on Naomi.
"Not very long," Naomi sighed with a shake of her head. "He...got called away on business. Something to do with a movie, I think. I...I tried to find him. I tried to track him down, but I just didn't have the means to do it and I lost him." She hesitated as she glanced down at her son. "It was only after he left that I found out that I was carrying his child. I...tried to find him. I wanted so much to tell him, but...but I couldn't! Finally, I...I found out that he'd moved to Albanyville. That's when I came here. I came to tell him about his son."
"But when you got here, you found out that he'd died," Joyce nodded as she carefully began to assemble the pieces of Naomi's story.
"Yes," Naomi muttered softly before popping her head up to look directly at Joyce. "I know this is rather scandalous considering...well...our differences."
"You mean the fact that you're Negro?" Joyce asked bluntly. "I'm sure you realize that that isn't exactly the best thing for my husband's memory to be saddled with. In fact, it paints him in a rather unflattering light." She paused and carefully sized up the situation. "However, we can't change what's been done, can we?"
"No, I guess we can't."
"Actually, it's good to finally meet you, Naomi." Joyce kept her eyes trained on the young woman and her child the entire time she spoke.
"W-what?" Naomi stammered with more than a little shock. "You...you knew about...your husband's affair?"
"Of course, I knew!" Joyce laughed heartily. "I'm not blind nor am I stupid. I knew that he was seeing some backroom torch singer in New York. I confess that I didn't know...specifics." Like the color of Naomi's skin or the baby. "But I knew."
"Why should I be? Men in my husband's position have extra curricular activities all the time," Joyce nodded and then leaned back in her seat to take an almost queenly appearance. "Of course, they don't always have their dalliances with little Negro girls. Also, although I knew about your relationship with my husband, there's no way to prove that this child is his."
"But...but...Aubrey is Thornton's son!" Naomi insisted firmly. "There wasn't...anyone else!" She paused for a moment to regain her composure. "All I want is what's best for my son---Thornton's son. He deserves his share of his father's legacy."
"Well, even if I were to agree with you," Joyce sighed, "I'm afraid that you're talking to the wrong person."
"What? But you're his widow! Surely you're the one who controls his estate!"
"That would be the logical conclusion," Joyce sighed with a roll of her eyes. "However, Thornton in is infinite wisdom---or senile foolishness, however you'd like to view it---completely cut me out of his will. I have no control over any part of my husband's estate. That all went to my ungrateful daughter and her husband."
"Yes. You see, my daughter Sara connived her way into my husband's bed and then conned him into cutting me out of the will and replacing me with her and her husband." Joyce's jaw tightened as the thought about the injustice of it all. "Sara is the person who actually owns this house and controls all of my husband's estate." She stopped and leaned forward in her seat to eye Naomi closely. "I really do sympathize with your situation. I believe your story. Your son should get what's rightfully his, but there's nothing I can do." Lifting her finger to her chin, she thought deeply. "Unless...."
"Unless what?" Naomi questioned curiously. "What are you talking about?"
"Like I said, I sympathize with your situation. You should receive everything that should be rightfully yours," Joyce nodded. "And I'm prepared to help you get everything that you deserve."
Naomi leaned back into her seat, more than a little shocked by Joyce's offer. Meanwhile, the wheels in Joyce's head began to turn as she thought about how should could best use Naomi and her child for her own advantage.
THE DAVIS HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Grace, you have a visitor," Lorraine called out as she stepped aside and allowed Trevor to walk through the door and into the living room.
"A visitor?" Grace asked curiously as she stepped in from the kitchen only to immediately stop frozen in her tracks by the site of him. "I...oh...Trevor. I...wasn't expecting to see you today."
"I'm sorry to just show up unannounced," Trevor smiled and then walked over to her, "but I really wanted to see you. I think that there are...things we need to talk about."
"Well, why don't I just go back into the kitchen and finish up those dinner dishes," Lorraine smiled warmly as her eyes darted back and forth between Trevor and Grace. "I'll give you two some privacy and some...time to talk."
Grace stood in silence with her hands clasped in front of herself in an attempt to keep them from shaking as she watched Lorraine quickly walk out of the room. Once alone, Grace took a deep breath as she tried to find the right words to say.
"So, Trevor, how are you doing?" she asked nervously and then glanced down at the floor in an attempt to avoid his penetrating gaze. "How's...your family doing? I know...that with what's going on, it's got to be hard on all of you."
"That's an understatement," he sighed as he hung his head. "I just can't believe that the police actually think my mother committed murder! The entire idea is just so...so preposterous!"
"Well, I've been keeping your family in my prayers."
"Thank you, Grace, but I didn't come her to talk about my family's problems," Trevor spoke up as he gently put his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to force her to look at him. "I came her to talk about you---about us."
"What about us?" In spite of herself, she looked up at him curiously and was immediately caught by his mesmerizing eyes.
"Grace, darling, I love you," he began. "You have to know that. You can talk to me about anything."
"I...I know," she muttered and forced herself to look away.
"Then why does it seem like you've been avoiding me? I call you on the phone and you just conveniently seem to not be here. I stop by, but you won't see me." He paused and took a deep breath. "I'm a little surprised that you were willing to see me today. I really wasn't expecting it."
"I...um...well..." she stammered awkwardly and then pulled away from him to walk across the room in an obvious attempt to put distance between them. "I've had a lot on my mind."
"I've barely seen you since that day at the bookstore---that day I saw you with Dane."
"He was...buying a book," Grace tried to explain casually. "It is a bookstore."
"That's not what I mean," he sighed. "I'm just trying to say that you've been avoiding me for weeks."
"I've had a lot on my mind!" she snapped angrily. "My mother died! My mother who I loved more than anything died before...before..." Tears began to well up in her eyes and her bottom lip began to quiver as she turned away from him to hide her pain.
"Grace, I know that," he spoke softly as he moved up behind her and placed a supportive hand on her shoulder. However, she flinched at his touch and quickly pulled away. "Darling, what's wrong? Why do you...seem so uncomfortable around me?"
"I'm not...uncomfortable." She wrapped her arms around herself and hugged herself tightly. "I'm just...just upset about my mother and I...want to be left alone to deal with it in my own...my own way."
"I think that there's more to it than that," Trevor sighed as he keep his eyes firmly focused on her. He paused and bit his lip as he tried to find the right words to voice his true worries and suspicions. "Grace, does any of this have anything to do with Dane?"
"What?" Grace gasped in shock and confusion as she spun around to finally face him. "What do you mean? What would Dane have to do with any of this? This is about my mother!"
"I don't think so," he responded bluntly and then paused to take a deep breath. "Grace, I know all about the snow storm. I know all about how you wrecked Douglas' car and got stuck with Dane. That's what this is all really about, isn't it?"
Grace's jaw dropped and she felt herself gasp for air. Trevor knew! He knew everything about what happened between her and Dane that night! As she felt her heart began to race, she immediately grew frightened. How would she be able to explain what happened? How could she make Trevor understand?
TO BE CONTINUED
A reunion you've been waiting for.
For Now and Forever
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