produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #109 (Thursday, 4/4/02) click here for a printable version of this episode
Same Day
February, 1936 - Afternoon


SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY

54 Spring Lake Dr.Naomi Jackson"I'm so glad that you're here," Joyce Preston smiled as she stood in the doorway.  "We have lots of things to talk about."

"That's what you said on the phone," Naomi Jackson reminded calmly.  She hadn't expected the sudden telephone call requesting---making that ordering---her presence for an impromptu meeting.  "Now, why don't you just tell me why you wanted to see me."

"All in due time, dear," Joyce commented before turning to slide the large wooden doors closed.  After taking a deep breath, she walked over and sat down in a chair across from Naomi and paused to take a lengthy sip of her coffee.  "I see that you brought the baby."

"Of course," Naomi nodded and then looked down at her infant son who was cradled in her arms.  "That's what you asked me to do.  But...I don't understand why you specifically told me to bring him."

"Are you really that simple minded?" Joyce laughed.  "That baby is the key to both of us getting exactly what we want."

"Both of us?"  Naomi eyed Joyce carefully as a knot began to form in the pit of her stomach.  Although she couldn't exactly put her finger on it, she was suddenly quite sure that Joyce Preston had more up her sleeve than she'd even started to let her in on.


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THE LAMONT HOME - BACK YARD

2312 Spring Lake Rd."Sweetheart, here's your sweater," Burt Lamont said as he walked up behind his girlfriend Janet Stokes as she sat on a pallet in the grass, working on a painting.  "I know that it's rather nice today, but once the sun goes behind the clouds, it's going to cast quite a chill."

"Thank you, dear," Janet smiled as she took the sweater from him and wrapped it loosely around her shoulders.  "It's been so long since I've taken the time to work on my art that I was beginning to think that I'd lost my touch."

"You're too talented for that," he nodded and then sat down next her her on the ground.

"Thank you," she blushed and then returned her focus to her work.  "I'm really glad the weather turned out so nicely today.  I just got this sudden itch to paint and I knew that this would be the perfect spot.  Do you see the way that the clouds are moving behind those trees?"  She pointed off in the distance to a small grove of trees, not yet showing the first buds of spring.  "The stark nakedness of the branches shows quite a distinct contrast to the white clouds and golden sun.  I think this painting is going to show the ability for hope to shine through even the most barren pit of one's soul."

"That's...um...rather deep, Janet," he commented as he furrowed his brow in confusion and again glanced at the painting.  "I think you're doing a really good job at capturing the contrast."

Janet Stokes"I try.  You know, the sun and those trees is kind of like a metaphor for us and what we've been through," she muttered softly as she brushed another color onto her canvas.  "The rays of hope that continue to shine through even though...well...our pasts."

"You mean Judith, don't you?"  Burt let out a small sigh when he realized what was truly on her mind.  He knew that his long ago affair with her sister wasn't something that she could readily forget.  Even more difficult to get past was the fact that he'd fathered her sister's child---a child that was now dead.

"In a way, yes," she nodded and then leaned back to look at her work from a different perspective.  "But also my past with Gordon Scott.  Burt, we've both...got things in our pasts that haunt us.  We can't necessarily go back and change anything.  We've just got to accept what we've done and move on."

"That's very philosophical of you."  His eyes narrowed as he turned to look at her curiously.  "Are you...trying to say that you forgive me for what I did with Judith?  Can you really get over my past with your sister?"

"Why not?" she asked as she paused in her work to gaze at him lovingly.  "You didn't know who she was.  You didn't know who I was, for that matter.  That was my own fault.  I wasn't honest with you when we first met.  You had no way of knowing how we were connected."

Burt stopped and lowered his head as he considered the truths that she was telling.  She was right, after all.  Everything had all been a huge, cruel twist of fate---his romance with Judith, their baby, his eventual love for Janet.  Now that Judith was a part of his past and the baby was gone, maybe it was finally time to put the past to rest and move on.  Certainly there was no way that any of it could affect them anymore.  All of the secrets were out and there was no longer anything that was being kept hidden.

"Do you ever think about getting married?" he finally spoke in an almost casual tone.  "You know...someday?"

"Married?"  Janet paused in shock and turned to look at him.  "Of course I...think about getting married.  What girl doesn't?"  She eyed him suspiciously.  What had brought this on?

"I was thinking...well, because of Reginald and Jillian's wedding....  It was making me think about the future."  He hesitated for a moment and glanced down at the ground.  "I know that it didn't turn out quite the way everyone thought that it would, but I...well...it just made me think about the two of us."

"Burt, are you...asking me to marry you?"  She stared at him as a mixture of anxiety and anticipation began to churn inside of her.  "Are you...trying to propose?"

"No," he replied softly.  "Well, at least not yet."

"O-oh," she muttered and hung her head, clearly disappointed.

Burt Lamont"Now, don't get me wrong.  I do want to marry you someday," Burt tried to explain as he gently put his finger under her chin and lifted her face so that he could look deeply into her eyes, "but I want the moment that I ask you to be my wife to be the most beautiful and romantic moment of your life.  It's just not the right time, yet."

"Oh, Burt, just you proposing would make it the most wonderful moment of my life," Janet sighed dreamily.  "I don't care where we are or what we're doing.  Just being with you will make it special."

"Thanks for saying that," he grinned, "but I have a very specific idea of how I want everything to go.  I know exactly how I want to take this next step in our lives.  I want to be absolutely certain that nothing could spoil that moment when I ask you to be my wife."  He paused and leaned in to kiss her tenderly on the lips before speaking again.  "Because once we're husband and wife, they'll be nothing that can ruin our happiness."

As Burt held Janet tightly in his arms, the sense of hope that she'd felt quickly turned into a sense of fear.  If he thought that there was nothing left that could tear them apart, he was dead wrong.  If Burt were to ever find out that she was the one directly responsible for the death of his own child, he'd surely hate her forever and any hope that they might have had for happiness would be ruined.

As she lifted her head from his shoulder, she glanced at the painting that she'd been working on---the bright sunlight pouring through the trees had been intended to symbolize hope.  Now, however, as she checked the sky that she'd been so diligently copying onto her canvas, she noticed that the sun had disappeared behind the clouds.  And not just any clouds, at that.  They were now storm clouds and they were quickly rolling in.


SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY

54 Spring Lake Dr."What do you mean by 'both of us'?" Naomi asked as she eyed Joyce carefully.  "The way I see it, my son is the rightful heir to Thornton's estate.  Anything that he had should go to him!"

"Well, of course you'd see it that way," Joyce sighed.  "But if you have any intentions of getting your hands on that fortune, you're going to need my help.  Surely you don't think that it's going to come free of charge.  There'll be a little compensation required."

"I should have known," Naomi grumbled as she began to quickly rise for her seat.  "You don't care a damn thing about helping me get what should be mine...er...my son's.  All you want to do is get your greedy little hands on your husband's money!"

"That's not true!" Joyce insisted as she followed Naomi who was heading for the door.  "Of course, I want what should be rightfully mine---I was his wife, after all---but it's only right that you get what you deserve, too.  I can assure you that I'm very sincere about that."

Naomi paused as she reached the door and considered what Joyce was saying.  True, she didn't exactly trust Joyce, but she was very aware that this scheme was something that she might not be able to pull off on her own.  Considering exactly how much money was at stake, what would it matter to toss Thornton's wife a few measly dollars?  The rewards did far out weigh the cost.

"So, what are you proposing?" Naomi finally spoke as she turned back around and returned to her seat.  "How do you intended to help me get what rightfully belongs to my son?"

Joyce Preston"Well, I admit that revealing that my late husband is that father of your child would be a persuasive argument on its own," Joyce explained as she sat back down.  "However, my daughter has the unfortunate quality of being far too trusting where her husband is concerned.  Because of that, I'm certain that he would do everything he could to talk her out of doing the right thing."

"But...how...are we going to get around him?"  Naomi furrowed her brow as she tried to comprehend what Joyce was saying.

"It's simple, really," Joyce smiled slyly.  "She'll listen to me.  I can plead your case to her.  I can subtly work to convince her that giving you and your baby your rightful share of Thornton's estate would be the right thing to do.  You see, without my influence, you'd have a long uphill battle to fight.  You agree to let me help you and I can assure you that you'll get everything that you deserve."

Naomi paused and glanced down at her son who was soundly asleep in her arms.  Could Joyce Preston be trusted?  Naomi wasn't certain, but couldn't deny that she did have a point.  It would be a great help to her if she had assistance on the inside.  True, Naomi was positive that she could achieve her goals on her own, but it would definitely take much longer without Joyce's help.

"So, what's your price?" Naomi asked curiously.  "How much is this 'assistance' going to cost me once I get the money?"

"Half," Joyce replied flatly.  "I get half of whatever money you get."

"Half?"  Naomi recoiled with shock.  "You're crazy if you think that I'm going to give you half of what's rightfully my son's!"

"Either you give me half to help you," Joyce grinned slyly, "or I'll make sure that that little baby of yours gets nothing!  Just as easily as I can convince her to turn over the money to you, I can convince her to turn you out into the street without a dime."

Naomi JacksonNaomi sat in silence as she continued to go over her options inside her head.  Half of a fortune or no fortune?  Which was more important?  Giving up half the money for a guaranteed thing or risking it all for everything?  Finally, she spoke.

"Ok.  I agree to give you half," Naomi said softly as she hung her head.  "But only if you can promise me that you're going to convince your daughter to turn over the money."

"I'm as good as my word," Joyce smiled.  "I assure you of that."

"And I have one little condition of my own."  Naomi leaned back in her seat and grinned smugly.

"What condition?"  Joyce's jaw tightened.  Naomi was clearly going to be a lot more difficult than she'd originally thought.

"As of this moment, I'm living here," Naomi announced flatly.  "Me and my baby are going to be living in this house.  After all, all of this should be ours, anyway.  And also, this way I can keep an eye on you and make sure that you're living up to your end of the bargain."  And it would also get her out of Calvin's house and out from under his watchful eye.

"Live here?" Joyce gasped in shock.  "Why, I couldn't..."  Seeing the determination in Naomi's eyes, Joyce quickly backed down.  Perhaps this could be something that she could use.  "All right.  I'll talk to Sara and convince her that..."

Sara Manchester"Convince me of what?" Sara Manchester's voice came from the doorway.  "Mother, what's going on here?"

Joyce quickly turned to look at her daughter and realized that she would have to put her plans into motion much sooner than she'd expected.  Now was the time.  Silently, she prayed that nothing would go wrong.