For Now and Forever
EPISODE #107 (Tuesday,
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"Dear, I will always be supportive of you," Dr. Fred Rutherford said softly as he held Francis Callison in his arms and began to slowly stroke her hair, "and I will always stand by you. In fact, I...I..."
"Francis, darling, I love you," Fred seemed to blurt out. "I love you with all of my heart. I love you more than I ever thought possible. You are the most amazing woman than I've ever met in my entire life."
"Oh, Fred, I...I don't know what to say." Francis slowly pulled away from him, more than a little taken off guard by his proclamation.
"Don't say anything just yet." His voice quickly took on a more serious tone as he removed his arm from her shoulder and reached into his pocket. "I...I wasn't planning on doing this right now, but...well...you've always had such an effect on me that...well..."
"W-what are you doing?" she asked curiously. "What are you trying to say?"
"What I'm trying to say is," he paused as he pulled the ring out of his pocket and held it out in front of Francis so that she could see, "Francis, darling, would you make me the happiest man in the world? Would you marry me?"
THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM
"I swear that woman has lost her mind," Judith Stokes Linford grumbled as she stood at the bar and mixed herself a martini. "How can she even think about doing this to Daddy?"
"Doing what?" Mark Linford asked as he glanced up from the evening edition of The Daily Post that he'd been reading. "All I see is a woman still in the prime of her life trying to live that life the best way she knows how."
"W-what?" she gasped and spun around to face him. "Are you saying that you actually approve of mother's involvement with this man? She's still married to my father!"
"They're separated," he reminded as he returned his focus to an article on the police's investigation into the murder of Annabelle Lake. "Your parents are going to get a divorce. I think it's about time that you accepted that."
"I will not!" she said flatly. "I refuse to accept this. How can she do this to him? How can she betray Daddy after he's done nothing but stand by her and support her for all these years?"
"Well, I'm certain that she has a different take on the situation than you do. It's much different being that man's daughter than it is to be his wife."
"Are you trying to say that Daddy has mistreated my mother?" Judith questioned angrily. "How can you say such horrible things about him when he's the one responsible for any kind of advancement that you've made in your career? Don't you think that the least you owe him is your loyalty and support?"
"I'm not saying anything negative about your father," Mark sighed. "All I'm saying is that I'm certain that your mother sees things from a complete different point of view than you do."
"Well, she's wrong!"
"Judith, right or wrong it's really none of your business." He paused and took a sip of his own cocktail. "This is your parents' marriage and it doesn't concern you."
"Well, I'd like to know how you came to that conclusion!" Judith folded her arms tightly across her chest and glared at him. "They're my parents and that makes their marriage my business! Somebody in this family has to have some sense. Lord knows that it's not my mother!"
"Then, Judith, why don't you explain to me exactly what I should do?" Leticia Stokes spoke up as she stood in the doorway. "Why don't you tell me what you'd do in the exact same situation?"
"I wouldn't be gallivanting all over town on the arm of another man, that's for sure!" Judith snapped angrily. "Mother, how dare you do this to Daddy! I can't believe that you've become so heartless and cruel. How can you just rip his heart out like you're doing? It's almost as if you're determined to make him a complete laughing stock!"
"I'm trying to do no such thing," Leticia replied calmly in spite of her daughter's wild accusations. "Your father and I have problems that go back quite a few years. I tried...to ignore them, but I finally got to a point where I couldn't deny the truth. If you want me to be brutally honest, my marriage to your father was over a long, long time ago."
"What has this man said to you?" Judith questioned sternly. "What has he done to force you to leave Daddy?"
"Fred hasn't done anything!" Leticia insisted. "Well, anything except be the most kind and gracious and attentive man that I think I've ever met. Those are qualities that you're father lost a long time ago. Fred makes me...well...feel good about myself and I enjoy myself whenever I'm with him."
"Oh, brother!" Judith grumbled and rolled her eyes. "I'm beginning to think that you're becoming just as loony as Janet! At least now we know exactly where she gets it from!"
"Judith, my relationship with your father and my relationship with Fred are really none of your business!"
"See, I told you," Mark muttered with a smirk as he glanced up from the newspaper.
"So, you're having a relationship with this man now?" Judith's jaw tightened because of that idea.
"Well, I...I wouldn't exactly call it that," Leticia responded, "but I...well...I would like to think that it's the beginning of one." She paused as her expressions softened and she began to try to reason with her daughter. "Look, Judith, I don't try to meddle in your marriage so I don't think you have in place to meddle in mine. I'm sure that if I put my mind to it, I could spot flaws in your marriage to Mark."
"Helen Keller could spot the flaws in this marriage," Mark muttered under his breath, only to be heard by Judith who quickly turned and shot him a sharp glare.
"My marriage to Mark is not the point! We're talking about your marriage to Daddy!"
"Which is none of your business!" Leticia felt her temper begin to rise as she grew more and more frustrated. Why couldn't Judith just leave this alone?
"So, are you having an affair with this man?" Judith questioned bluntly. "Are you cheating on Daddy?"
"Judith!" Leticia chastised. "Don't be vulgar! Not that it's any of your business, no, we are not having an affair. And, please, his name is Fred. I would appreciate it if you'd call him by name."
"Well, what are you intentions concerning this man?" Judith spat. "Even if you're not having an affair with him, surely there's some kind of romantic involvement going on?"
Faced with her daughter's question, Leticia paused and bit her lip as she considered the possibilities. She hadn't really given much thought to exactly where her relationship with Fred was going. Now that she had to actually think about what her plans for the future were, she wasn't completely sure of what she was going to say.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"M-marry you?" Francis stammered in shock. "Fred, I don't...know what to say. This is so...sudden." She pulled away from him as she tried to recover from her surprise. "I didn't...know that you felt so...strongly about me."
"Any man with good sense would feel this way about you," Fred smiled as he continued to hold the ring out in front of her. "Please make me the happiest man in the world. Please take this ring and tell me that you'll be my wife."
"Oh, Fred, I...I..." She looked away and bit her lip. How could she answer him? How could she explain to him how she really felt?
"You...don't seem quite as excited about this as I'd thought you'd be," he muttered as he realized that things weren't going exactly as he'd hoped. "You will say 'yes,' won't you?"
"I...I..." Francis again turned to look him in the eyes and took a deep breath. "Fred, I can't. I can't marry you."
"W-what?" he muttered as his jaw dropped. "But I...I thought that you felt the same way about me that I feel about you."
"Fred, please, I don't want to hurt you," she sighed as she grabbed onto his arm. "You've been such a dear, dear friend to me and I don't know what I would have done these past few months if it hadn't been for your kindness and support, but I...well...I still love my husband. I will always love Charles. Nothing in this world could ever change that."
"Even after everything he's put you through?" Fred questioned incredulously. "My god! That man cheated on you and lied to you and did everything in his power to hurt you and push you away and..."
"But none of that was really his fault!" she reminded him firmly. "That was all because of Annabelle. He loves me. He never stopped loving me." She paused and gently touched him on the cheek. "And I love him. That has never changed."
"So you're going back to him?" he asked as the reality of the situation began to sink in. "You're going back to that lying..."
"Please, Fred, if you care anything about me at all, don't talk that way about Charles."
"No! I love my husband. I can't marry you." She paused and took a deep breath. She truly didn't want to hurt Fred's feelings---especially since he'd been such a dear and wonderful friend---but she couldn't lead him on. She couldn't make him think that she had any sort of romantic inclinations towards him when, in truth, her heart could only belong to Charles.
"Francis, you have to know that you're making a mistake by going back to him! Please don't tell me that he's blinded you with all of his pitiful recollections of the past." He grabbed onto her hand and held it tightly as he tried to force her to reconsider her decision.
"Oh, please, Fred, why do you have to make this so difficult for me?"
"Yes, Fred, why?" came the voice of Mary Albany from the doorway. Fred and Francis had clearly been too involved in their discussion to hear Mary's key in the lock or her coming into the apartment. "Why do you seem so obsessed with tearing my daughter away from her husband and rushing her down the isle?"
Fred immediately turned to look at Mary and bit his lip before he could respond to her questioning glare with a biting comment that would have been horribly inappropriate considering how hard he was trying to sweet talk Francis. He immediately realized that with Mama Bear present, the task of convincing Francis to marry him would become infinitely more difficult.
CALVIN'S HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Naomi, would you set the table for dinner?" Dr. Calvin Jackson asked as he poked his head in from the kitchen. "Ruby should be here any minute and I want everything to be perfect."
"How am I supposed to set the table and watch the baby?" Naomi Jackson asked as she cradled her infant son in her arms. "I don't see what's so important about this silly dinner anyway."
"It's important because I love Ruby and I want you two to get along," he commented as he returned to the task of stirring the gravy he had simmering on the stove. "Besides, if you can't even set the table because of Aubrey, how do you even except to find a job?"
"I...um...I'll get a baby sitter," she reasoned. "I'll find someone to watch him while I work."
"Well, then, you need to be finding someone to watch him so that you can go looking for that job like you promised me you would." He tapped the large wooden spoon against the side of the pan and sat it down on the counter before stepping back into the living room. "Remember, you promised me that you'd get a job and help out with your part of the bills if I let you move in. So far, you haven't even attempted to look for work."
"Well, I..." Her voice trailed off as she shifted the baby in her arms. "I haven't had time. I've been busy."
"Busy?" Calvin furrowed his brow and eyed her curiously. "Doing what? All I've seen you do since you've been here is read those silly movie magazines and sit with your ear pressed to the radio. I can't even get you to help clean the house!"
"Clean the house?" she asked with shock. "You sound like the only reason I'm here is to be your maid!"
"Naomi, that's not what I mean and you know it!"
"Well, it's hard trying to find a job nowadays. There's not exactly that much demand for colored girl singers in this dreary city." She paused and rolled her eyes as if his demands and suggestions were of the utmost in ridiculousness. "And I can't exactly drag my baby around on job interviews with me! Why don't...why don't you watch him for me sometime so I can go out looking for a job?"
"I spend almost all day everyday at the hospital," he reminded as he walked back into the kitchen to check on the pot roast. "I can't just make my rounds with a baby propped on my hip! You said that you were going to find a babysitter. I suggest you do that so that you can go job hunting."
"Yeah, okay," she grumbled under her breath. "Whatever you say. You know, I'm beginning to think that you're just as bad as Momma!"
"I'll take that as a compliment," Calvin grinned broadly as he again poked his head back into the living room before going back to the kitchen sink to wash and dry his hands. "Now, I've got to finish getting cleaned up for Ruby," he continued as he walked back into the living room and headed towards the stairs. "The roast is nearly done and I need to you make sure that the gravy doesn't simmer down too far. The potatoes are nearly done, too."
"You're expecting me to cook?" she gasped with offense.
"Of course, not," he sighed with a shake of his head. "I want dinner to at least be edible. I just want you to keep an eye on everything until I finish getting ready. Ruby should be here at any time."
"Oh, all right," she muttered as he disappeared up the stairs and out of sight.
However, instead of making another preliminary check on dinner, Naomi simply returned to reading her newest magazine. She had only gotten half-way through an article on Claudette Colbert when the door buzzer sounded.
"I'm coming!" she shouted as she scooped Aubrey up in her arms and headed for the door. "Oh, it's you," she sighed at the sight of Ruby Thomas standing on the front stoop. "C'mon in. Calvin said he was expecting you."
"How have you been, Naomi?" Ruby asked as she walked into the living room. "Calvin said that you'd moved in. Are you finding Albanyville to your liking?"
"This is the dullest city I've ever been in," Naomi grumbled and plopped herself back onto the couch and begin reading her magazine again. "I can't believe that Calvin and Momma like it here."
"Albanyville is a beautiful city," Ruby smiled as she sat down in a chair across from Naomi. "Everyone is so nice and..."
"Are you for real?" Naomi asked curiously as she popped her head up to eye her brother's girlfriend carefully. "This city is so boring! There is absolutely nothing to do. Now, New York was a city." Naomi's constant staring began to make Ruby more and more uncomfortable. "So, what do you do for fun in this stupid town?"
"I...um...spend time with Calvin," Ruby blushed awkwardly. "I really don't have that much free time. I work a lot."
"Work?" Naomi's eyes grew wide as the gears began to turn inside her head. Maybe Naomi could convince Ruby to help her get a job. "What kind of work?"
"Oh, I'm just...a maid for the Stokes family."
"A...maid?" Naomi gasped. Well, scratch the idea of trying to talk Ruby into helping her get a job. "You can't just be a maid! Why, Calvin couldn't actually be dating a simple maid!"
"W-why not?" Ruby asked as she felt herself feeling more and more nervous and out of place.
"Well, it's bad enough that Momma is a maid. Calvin hasn't been the least bit happy with that fact for years!" Naomi explained casually. "I just can't believe that he would lower himself to actually date a maid."
"Yes! My brother is a very important doctor. He saves lives for a living," Naomi reminded. "I don't know how he'd get too serious about someone who gets paid to jump on command like a dog in a circus act! Darlin', I wouldn't get too attached to Calvin, if I were you. I'm sure that whatever little...fascination, I guess it is...will be over before you know it. I just can't see him getting serious about someone whose main goal in life is to scrub toilets."
"B-but, I'm...I'm only working so that I can...save money to go to...nursing school," Ruby muttered softly as she sunk down into her seat. Naomi's assessments of the situation were making her more and more uncomfortable. Could Naomi's evaluations of her relationship with Calvin be accurate? Was she really only a temporary fascination for him?
"Nursing school? How sweet!" Naomi giggled. "Well, now, you just march yourself right over to that lily white Albanyville University and sign yourself up in the morning. I'm sure that they'll admit you right away." She let out a self-amused laugh. "If you want to go to nursing school, you'll have to go far away. Certainly you don't think that he's just going to give up his position at Memorial and follow you, do you?"
"I can just see it now," Naomi laughed. "You'll go away to nursing school---once you slave away a couple of years to earn the money, of course---and then you'll be gone a couple of years studying. He's going to just sit and wait for you to make something out of yourself? I don't think so! By the time you make yourself good enough for him, he'll have long moved on with someone far more suitable for him and..."
"W-when's dinner s-supposed to be...ready?" Ruby muttered as she fidgeted in her seat.
"In a bit," Naomi smiled. "Honestly, though, I don't even know why you're wasting your time---or his for that matter."
"I...um..." Ruby paused and bit her lip as she glanced down at her watch. "I...um...oh, gee. It's later than I thought and I...um...I really can't stay for dinner."
"You can't?" Naomi gasped with false surprise. "Oh, dear. What a shame."
"Yes, um..." Ruby continued as she quickly rose from her seat and headed for the door. "Just...apologize to Calvin for me, please. Tell him that I'm...sorry."
"Oh, I'll be sure to," Naomi smiled again as she followed Ruby to the door. "Now, you don't be a stranger. I think that you and I could get along like sisters. Well, at least until Calvin finds someone better suited for him."
As Ruby hurried off down the walkway, Naomi quickly closed the door behind her. A maid! How could her brother even think to become involved with someone so...so lowly? Naomi just couldn't fathom the idea.
"Was that Ruby's voice I heard?" Calvin asked as he came back down the stairs. He paused at the foot of the stairs and glanced around the living room before making a face when he realized that Ruby wasn't there. "I could have sworn that I heard Ruby's voice."
"Oh, you did," Naomi nodded as she returned to her seat on the couch. "She was here. Strange girl."
"Strange?" He eyed his sister curiously. "What do you mean by 'strange?'"
"Well, we were just talking about her plans for nursing school and things like that," she explained calmly. "I told her how I thought that was a wonderful idea, but she just starting acting all...odd, you could say. She just got up and left without saying a word. Really strange."
"What did you say to her, Naomi?" he asked sternly. "I know how you can be!"
"Me?" Her eyes grew wide with surprise. "I didn't say anything! We were just talking. Honestly, I haven't the foggiest idea what got into her."
"Great," Calvin grumbled as he headed back into the kitchen to check on dinner. When he discovered that the potatoes had boiled over and the gravy had simmered down to sludge, he groaned in frustration and disappointment. So much for his plans for a perfect dinner. It was all ruined! However, the state of the food was the least of his concerns. What was really on his mind was what had gotten into Ruby. Why in the world would she have just shown up and then disappeared without even saying a word to him?
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"What the devil is going on here?" Mary Albany asked as she stood in the doorway with her hands on her hips and glared at Fred. "I go out for a little bit and I come home to find you hanging all over my daughter and trying to fill her head with a load of bull!"
"Mrs. Albany, it really isn't like that," Fred tried to explain rationally. He was fully aware of how Francis' mother could be and really didn't need to be on her bad side if he had any hopes of convincing Francis to marry him. "I'm trying to find out why your daughter is so insistent about trying to salvage a marriage that has only brought her pain and heartbreak and..."
"I don't know what kind of garbage you're trying to sell, but I'm not buying it!" Mary said forcefully as she walked over too him and stared at him sternly. "Ever since you starting chasing after my daughter, I've suspected that you were up to something. What is it? Her money? Are you after our good name?"
"Mother!" Francis spoke up angrily. "I can't believe that you're talking to him like this!"
"Well, apparently someone has to because you're not going to!" Mary shot her daughter a disapproving look. "I just can't understand how you can be so blind where this quack is concerned!"
"I only have Francis' best interests at heart," he tried to explain. "I've grown to care about her and love her a great deal. I only want what's best for her."
"If that were truly the case, then you'd have disappeared out of her life a long time ago!"
"Mother, I think that I'm more than capable of handling this myself," Francis said softly as she tried to diffuse a situation that was nearing a boiling point. "After all, I'm a grown woman and I can decide for myself what's best!"
"Yes, dear, I know that," Mary smiled warmly as she took her daughter's chin into her hands, "but you can be overly trusting. It's that genuine goodness that leads you to want to see the best in people." She turned and shot Fred and cold glare. "Even if there isn't any!"
"Mother, let me handle this," Francis repeated. "Alone!"
"I will not leave you alone with this witch doctor so that he can fill your head with nonsense!"
"Mrs. Albany, with all due respect, this really is between me and your daughter." Fred's jaw began to tighten as he tried to quickly think of ways to run interference around Mary. "I love Francis very much and it would thrill my soul if she were to consent to being my wife once her divorce is final. I hope that you can see how much I love her and can eventually respect and honor our wishes to..."
"Marriage?" Mary gasped with shock. "Over my dead body! Francis is married to Charles and she is in love with her husband. Isn't that right, dear?"
"Y-yes," Francis nodded. "Fred, I'm unbelievably flattered by your proposal---really I am---but I can't marry you. I'm...I'm going to work out my marriage to my husband. He's the one I want to spend the rest of my life with---not you."
"Even after everything he's put you through? Even after all of the pain and all of the tears he's caused?" He shook his head as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Why? Darling, why are you being so foolish?"
"Foolish?" Mary laughed. "You think my daughter's being foolish for wanting to salvage her marriage to the man she loves---the father of her children? If you think that whatever friendship or flirtation or whatever you want to call it can hold a candle to what she shares with Charles, then you're the fool!"
"I said that this was between me and Francis!" Fred repeated through clinched teeth. "Now, butt out!"
"Fred!" Francis gasped, more than a little alarmed by the tone he'd taken. "I can't believe you're talking like that to my mother!"
"Oh, darling, I'm so sorry," he replied as his voice softened. "I didn't mean to. I...I'm just getting so frustrated. Here I am trying to make a big impassioned plea on my own behalf and I've...got to do it with an audience that I wasn't expecting."
"Fred, I never meant to lead you on. I never meant to hurt you." Francis reached over and gently touched him on the arm in an attempt to display her sincere remorse. "I love Charles. I can't betray my heart. I can't marry you."
"But...but..." Fred stammered.
"You heard her, now deal with it!" Mary said firmly. "She's in love with her husband and she's not in love with you." She paused and took a deep breath. "Now, I think that your visit is over."
"W-what?" he gasped as he looked up at Mary. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I would think that you'd be smart enough to understand, you being a doctor and all," Mary laughed. "But since that's apparently not the case, I'll spell it out for you. G-E-T-O-U-T. Get out!"
"Fred, maybe you better go," Francis said softly. "I don't...think that continuing this is going to be good for either one of us. I appreciate all the support that you've given me---really I do---but I can't return your feelings. If we keep seeing one another, you're only going to get hurt and I don't want that." She looked away uncomfortably and bit her lip. "Maybe it is best if you just leave."
"All right," he muttered softly as he began to rise to leave. "If that's what you really want."
"It is," Francis nodded.
Fred paused to glare hatefully at Mary and then took a deep breath as he pushed past her and headed for the door. Maybe his entire ploy to win Francis' hand had been foolhardy. Maybe he never really did stand a chance with her. He shook his head slightly as he thought about all of the time that he'd wasted---for nothing! Thank god he'd formulated a back-up plan.
THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM
"So, Mother, where are you planning to take this...situation...with Dr. Rutherford?" Judith asked pointedly. "I certainly hope that you're not planning to fall in love with him!"
"Judith, I don't think anyone ever plans to fall in love," Leticia countered, "that's something that just happens. Nobody has any kind of control over that."
"Lord knows you didn't," Mark mumbled under his breath as he glanced up at his wife.
"You are falling in love with him!" Judith gasped. "Mother! How could you do this to Daddy? How could you be so stupid? You're going to rip his heart out!"
"Honey, I'm not in love with Fred," Leticia tried to explain. "We haven't been seeing one another that long."
"But you are seeing him romantically, aren't you?"
Leticia looked away from her daughter, slightly embarrassed to be discussing such personal matters, and nodded weakly. "Yes, I am. Fred and I have been out on several occasions and...well...there has been quite a bit of romance." In spite of herself, Leticia smiled warmly.
"I can't believe this!" Judith shouted as she began to angrily pace about the room. "How can you be married to one man and chase after another man like a dog in heat?"
Naturally, with those words, Mark's head popped up and he nearly spit out his martini. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
"Judith!" Leticia chastised sternly. "Don't be vulgar! What's going on between me and Fred is nothing like that. He is a kind and gentle man and I enjoy myself when I'm with him. I haven't...been this happy in the company of a man in years!"
"Mother, dear, you are an old fool," Judith sighed with a shake of her head. "I just can't believe that you're doing this to Daddy."
"Whatever is going on between me and your father is his doing, not mine! I've given him chance after chance to change over the years and he refuses to be anything more than the arrogant, overbearing man that he's always been."
"He's your husband!" Judith reminded. "That should be enough for you!"
"I could very well say the same thing to you," Leticia responded firmly as she shot her daughter a cool stare.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Judith asked incredulously.
"Would you like me to spell it out for you?" Mark asked as he finally re-entered the conversation. "B-U..."
"Oh, shut up!" Judith snapped as she quickly spun around to face him. "This has nothing to do with me! This is all about Mother and what horrible things she's putting Daddy through."
"I'm not listening to another word of this," Leticia muttered as she tried to keep her temper in check and turned to walk out of the room. "I'm going upstairs."
"Mother, I'm not finished!" Judith spun around to face her again and quickly stormed after her. "I forbid you to see this man again! Do you hear me? I forbid it!"
"You forbid?" Leticia's eyes grew wide from shock. She couldn't believe what she was hearing! "Last time I checked, I was the parent and you were the child. You have no place telling me to do anything!"
"Well, somebody needs to keep you on a short leash so that you don't ruin your life!"
"You know, you're starting to sound just like your father," Leticia grumbled angrily. "And I'm not listening to him, either! I'm a grown woman and I can do what I want to do when I want to do it. If that means that I want to become romantically involved with Fred, then I will! And you can't do a damn thing about it!"
And with those words, Leticia stormed out of the room leaving Judith fuming and nearly speechless. As her hands balled into fists, she realized that she had to stop her mother from destroying her father and their family's good name. She was certain that nothing good would come of her mother's involvement with Dr. Rutherford and was determined to find out everything she could about him so that she could keep her from making the worst mistake of her life.
TO BE CONTINUED
Stephanie begins a new career.
For Now and Forever
©2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions