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

 

EPISODE #112 (Tuesday, 4/9/02)
Same Day
February 1936 - Evening

SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY

"Oh, Daddy, you don't know how many times I'd lay in bed at night and dream that you were coming back for me," Stephanie Lake sighed dreamily.  "I missed you so much."  She paused and furrowed her brow slightly.  "Daddy, why did you go away?  Why did everyone think you were dead?"

"Well, I didn't have much of a choice," Stephen Lake sighed with a shake of his head.  "I had gotten into...well...some trouble, you could say.  I'm sure that you remember those 'friends' of mine that would stop by all the time."

"I never did like them," she grumbled and scrunched up her nose as she shook her head.  "They were always so mean and rude---pushing you around and stuff."

"They weren't the nicest of guys," he admitted.  "Anyway, they had it in for me.  I disappeared and went into hiding for a while in hopes that they would just give up and move on.  But, guys like that don't give up.  Finally, in an attempt to get to me, they threatened you.  I..."  He winced slightly as if the memory were too painful, but still continued.  "I realized that the best way to keep you safe would be to make everyone think that I was dead.  Once everything had settled down, I'd always planned to come back for you, but...well...you're mother took you and disappeared."

"Oh, Daddy," she gasped.  "And you...have been looking for me all this time?"

"All this time," Stephen smiled.  "But now that I've found you, nothing is ever going to keep us apart again."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "Now, come on, Princess, it's time for us to go."

"Go?"  Stephanie eyed her father curiously.  "Go where?  What do you mean?"

"It's time for us to leave Albanyville.  It's time for us to finally be together."  He held out his hand for her.  "C'mon, Stephanie, it's time for us to go."

ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM

"Oh, my god, Jillian!" Janet Stokes called out as she rushed into the emergency room quickly followed by Burt Lamont.  "We came just as soon as we heard.  What happened?  What's going on?  Was anyone hurt?"

"Honey, just calm down," Burt said gently as he held her hand for support.

"I...can't calm down!" she snapped.  "I have to find out what's..."  Immediately noticing Judith's emotional state, Janet began to grow increasingly worried.  "W-where's father?  Was he...hurt badly?"

"Janet, I don't know...how to say this," Jillian spoke up, not sure of exactly how to break the tragic news to her already emotionally fragile sister, "but...well...father is...dead.  He didn't survive...the accident."

"W-what?"  Janet's eyes grew wide from shock as her hand flew up to her mouth to muffle the cries that wanted to break free.  "N-no!  That's...impossible!  I just...saw him tonight.  We all saw him!  We were all...together and....  No!"

"Janet, darling, it's going to be all right," Burt said tenderly as he took her into his arms before she could completely break down.  While he held her, he took a deep breath and turned his attention to Jillian.  "How...did it happen?  They said on the radio that it was some kind of accident."

"Apparently Nelson and Judith were in Judith's car heading into town," Reginald began to explain.  "Judith was driving too fast and the roads were wet.  She didn't make that sharp curve coming into the city.  I think that the police said something about the brakes failing."

"Dear lord," Burt sighed with a shake of his head.  "This is horrible."

"The doctors said that it's a miracle that Judith wasn't killed, too," Jillian continued as she glanced over to a row of chairs where her oldest sister was sitting, still extremely distraught, while being comforted by Dr. Talbot Campbell.

"Jillian, if any of you need anything at all, let me know."  Burt slowly began to lead Janet over to a chair so that she could sit down.  "I feel such a strong loyalty to all of you for being so welcoming to me that it's the least that I could do."

"Well, I see you're trying to weasel your way into all of the finest families in Albanyville, now, aren't you?" Reginald spoke up coldly as he eyed Burt.  "First the Callison family and now the Stokes family!  It's a good thing that the Rockefellers aren't in town or they just might be next on your list!"

"Reginald, you know good and well that it's not like that!" Burt argued.  "I love Janet very much and that makes me care about her family.  Besides, it hasn't been that long since I lost my own mother.  I know exactly how difficult it is to lose a parent."

"This is not the same!"  Reginald felt his temper begin to rise.  How dare Burt Lamont try to worm his way into places where he didn't belong.  "From what I understand, your mother was sick for a long time before she died.  It wasn't like you didn't know it was coming.  Nelson was in the prime of his life, the picture of perfect health, and he died suddenly and tragically."

"You seem to have an awfully high opinion of a man who couldn't stand the sight of you!" Burt countered.  "It's amazing how death can change a person's attitude!"

"Well, he would have come a lot closer to accepting me as part of his family than he would you.  You're just an over glorified stable boy, after all!"

"Both of you stop it this instant!" Jillian ordered as her eyes began to fill with tears that were brought on by a mixture of anger and sorrow.  "I will not have you two going at each other like a couple of little boys on the playground.  This is a hospital and my father just died and I can't...I can't..."

"Oh, Jillian, I'm...so sorry," Reginald muttered, quickly overcome by embarrassment because of his outburst.  "I wasn't thinking.  I...lost my head and I..."

"I...apologize, too," Burt sighed.  "I wasn't...thinking."  He paused and took a deep breath before turning to address Reginald.  "Look, I know that you don't like me.  I know that you resent me for being Landon's son, but...well...there's nothing we can do about that.  Besides, this isn't the time or place."

With a silent nod of agreement, Reginald took Jillian by the hand and led her down the hallway so that they could check on Judith, leaving Burt and Janet alone.

"How are you...holding up?" Burt asked softly as he pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket so that she could dry her eyes.  "I'm here for you.  You know that, don't you?"

"Y-yes," Janet stammered shakily, still too emotional to think straight.  "I just...can't believe...that he's gone.  This is just so...so..."

You did it!  It's your fault!

"Janet, are you all right?" Burt asked with concern as he saw a strange look cover her face.

"I...I'm fine," she mumbled as she tried to focus her eyes which were growing blurry.

If you hadn't done all of those horrible things, none of this would have happened!

"Are you sure you're all right?"  He continued to eye her closely.  Her breathing was labored and she was looking exceptionally pale.  Something was definitely not right.

"I said that I'm...fine."

You killed Gordon and you killed your sister's child!  God is punishing you!

"You don't look fine."  Burt carefully lifted Janet's chin so that he could look into her eyes and immediately noticed that she was more than a little disoriented.  "Let me get a doctor over here to look at you."

"No!" she snapped angrily and quickly jumped up out of her seat.  "No!  I said I'm fine!"

You took two lives.  Now, one has been taken away from you as punishment.  There's only one left!

"No! Janet cried out again before crumpling to her knees.

Burt immediately rushed to her side and waved for a doctor to come help.  However, Janet was barely aware of any of it.  It was almost as if everything that was suddenly going on around her wasn't really happening and she wasn't really there.  She was lost in her own terrifying thoughts.  What if her father had died as a punishment for her sins?  What if his death wasn't enough?  Would someone else have to be taken away from her as penance?  Would it be Burt?

SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY

"I...I can't go," Stephanie replied and shook her head.  "My home is here in Albanyville.  I just started a new job that I think I'm really going to like.  I've got friends here.  I can't leave them!  I can't leave..."  Paddy.  "I can't go!  Why don't you...just stay here with me?  You'll love it here.  I just know you will.  We can get a little apartment, just the two of us, and it can be just like it used to be."  She paused as a sadly ironic thought flashed through her mind.  "Except...Momma won't be there."

"We'll be just fine, the two of us," Stephen smiled.  "But we can't stay here.  I originally came to town because of some...business dealings, you could say...but too many people know too much about me now.  It would be too dangerous for both of us to stay.  We have to go."

"I can't go!"

"You have to, Princess!" he repeated sternly.  "I've spent entirely too much time and energy trying to find you to just walk away from you again and I can't stay here.  You have to come with me!"

"I can't!" she repeated defiantly.  "I am not leaving!"

"After all that I've done to protect you, you're willing to turn your back on me?"  His eyes grew wide from shock.  "Do you have any idea what I've done for you---to what lengths I would go to keep you safe?"

"W-what are you talking about?" she asked curiously as a sense of uneasiness began to overtake her.  "What...have you done?"

"You won't have to worry about that Saxon boy ever again," he explained calmly.  "I took care of that."

"But...but...Clark left town months ago!  He's...not any kind of threat to me anymore!"  She stopped and furrowed her brow as she thought.  "How...do you know about Clark?"

"I told you that I've been watching over you since I came to town and found you," he elaborated.  "I found out that Clark Saxon was here and watching you, too.  He was going to hurt you, sweetheart, but I stopped him.  He'll never hurt you again."

Her father's tone and change in demeanor caused a knot to form in the pit of Stephanie's stomach.  From the way he was talking, it almost sounded like he'd...

"W-what did you do to him, Daddy?"

"I killed him, Stephanie," Stephen revealed rather bluntly.  "He'll never hurt you again."

"Oh, my god," she gasped, stunned by the news.  "Why, Daddy?  Why?  Why did you do something so...horrible?"

"I did it for you, Princess," he explained calmly.  "I'd do anything to protect you.  That's why you have to come with me.  I can't protect you and look out for you if we're not together."

"But, Daddy, I can't go with you!" she cried.  "I can't!"

"You can and you will!" he ordered sternly and then swiftly reached out and grabbed her wrist tightly.  "We're leaving together.  I refuse to let anyone keep us apart again!"

"Daddy, you're hurting me!"

"I'm sorry, baby, really I am," he sighed.  "But this is for your own good.  I know what's best for you."

"No, Daddy!" she cried out again.  

As he began to drag her out of the room, she flailed her arms and began to kick at him in an attempt to force him to let her go.  Why was he doing this to her?  Why was he forcing her to leave everything that she'd known?  In her struggle to break free from his grasp, she bumped up against an end table and it toppled over, sending a small collection of framed photographs crashing to the floor.

"Don't fight me," Stephanie ordered as he picked her up in his arms and began to carry her towards the door.  "You'll see that this is for your own good."  As he opened the door and drug her out, he took a deep breath and smiled joyously.  "I've waited too long to find you to simply just leave you again.  No one will ever separate us again, Princess.  I promise you that and I will kill anyone that tries to hurt you or keep us apart."

Calvin's Home, living room

"I want to know where you've been!" Dr. Calvin Jackson said as he followed his sister---carrying her baby in her arms and fighting to carry her suitcase---down the stairs.  "You haven't been here in days!  I know for a fact that you didn't go back to Miss Mary's and..."

"Just drop it, Calvin," Naomi Jackson snapped as she dropped the suitcase by the front door.  "I don't have to explain anything to you!  I'm leaving and you won't have to worry about me again."

"You're my sister, Naomi.  I'm going to worry about you whether you're here or not.  Now, why don't you save me a lot of worry and at least tell me where I can reach you."  His tone softened slightly as he folded his arms across his chest and waited for an answer.

"It's none of your business," she argued.  "You never wanted me here, anyway, so I would think that you'd be happy that I'm leaving."

"Look, it's not that I didn't want you here," he explained, "but...well...you can be so difficult.  You promised me that you were going to go look for a job and you never did.  All you seemed to want to do is sit around the house listening to those absurd stories on the radio."

"I happen to like A Ray of Hope.  It's very motivational."

"It's a soap opera!"  Calvin shook his head in disbelief.  "Instead of listening to those darn things, you should be out trying to make something out of yourself.  You've got a baby to support now!"

"I know that!  I'm not stupid!"  Her jaw tightened as she thought about how overbearing her brother could be.  "You're just like Mamma!  Always hovering over me just waiting for me to do something wrong!"

"And usually we don't have to wait very long, now do we?"

"You all must really enjoy the mistakes I've made.  I bet you both just whoop it up over coffee laughing about poor 'ol Naomi---poor stupid Naomi!"

"You know it's not like that.  Mama cares about you.  I care about you.  We only want what's best for you."  Calvin carefully took her by the hand and led her away from the front door and into the living room.  "Even you have to admit that you have a habit of making choices that don't always turn out to be in your best interest.  Neither one of us wants to see you make those same kinds of mistakes again."

"But can't you see that things are different?" Naomi asked.  "This time I know exactly what I'm doing.  I'm going to finally live my dream."

"What are you talking about?"  Calvin paused to eye her closely.  He could tell that there was much more going on that she wasn't telling, but he just couldn't be sure of what it was.  "Have you found a new singing job?  Is that what this is about?  Don't tell me that you've managed to fall for another slimy record producer who's filled your head with all kinds of nonsense about making you a star!"

"This has nothing to do with that!" she grumbled.  "But I'm about to have everything that I've ever wanted and when I do, I'm not going to need you or Mamma ever again!"

She quickly rose to her feet and headed for the door, but Calvin was right on her heels.  He refused to let her get away so easily.  He had to know what sort of trouble she was getting herself mixed up into now.

"You could at least tell me where you're going," he said softly as he watched her pick up her bag and turn to open the door.  "If we don't know where you are, you know Mama's gonna be worried about you."

"All right," she grumbled.  "If you really have to know, I've got a job as a maid."

"A maid?"  His eyes grew wide with surprise.  After all of the nasty things she'd said about their mother's job, this was the last thing he would have expected.  "For who?"

"The Manchesters.  They live out by Spring Lake.  You know, that big old house that looks like a stupid castle."

"Well...I..." he stammered, a little embarrassed that he hadn't believed in her.  "I hope that you do the best job that you can do and don't do anything that's going to make them want to fire you."

"You still don't believe in me, do you?" she muttered with more than a touch of sarcasm and disappointment.  "Well, I'm going to show you!  I'm going to show all of you.  By the time I'm finished, you're gonna be coming to me and begging me to forgive you!"

As the door slammed behind her, Calvin's shoulders slumped under the extreme weight of worry that he was carrying.  Something about Naomi's new job just didn't sit right with him.  For some reason, there seemed to be more to it---more that she wasn't telling.  With that realization, he became determined to find out exactly what that could be.

SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER

"Dane?" Sara Manchester called out as she walked through the front door.  "Stephanie?  Anybody home?"  After pausing to listen for a response, she realized that the silence of the house meant that no one was home.  Where could everyone have gone?  Her mother had dropped her off before leaving to go somewhere---Sara had no idea where---but where were Dane and Stephanie?

Walking over to the closet in the foyer, she pulled off her jacket and hung it up before turning around and walking into the library.  She paused in the doorway when it dawned on her that, although no one was home, all the lights were on.

"That's odd," she muttered to herself.  "I can't believe that Dane would have left and not turned out the lights.  Electricity is expensive and..."  She laughed to herself with the realization that the price of power didn't really matter.  They could afford it, after all.  But still...

As she moved further into the room, she immediately spotted the over turned end table.  Now that was definitely out of place.  Something strange was going on.  Sara was certain of it.

After turning the table upright, she knelt down to pick up the frame photographs that lay in disarray on the floor and then careful put them back in their normal places.  However, she hesitated as she held a picture of her and Stephanie, both little girls at the time, and Stephanie's father.

It had been taken one Christmas many years earlier during a time when both of their families were all still together.  Well, almost all.  Sara's mother had run off several years before that Christmas and it had only been her and her father.  It was a difficult memory that she quickly brushed away.  Her mother had returned and was making a concerned effort to make up for her past mistakes.  In fact, over the past few months, Sara and her mother had grown increasingly closer.  Sure, they had their differences of opinion, but Sara couldn't help but be overjoyed to have her mother back in her life.

Just that night, Sara and her mother had gone out to dinner---just the two of them---as a part of their efforts to recapture some of that mother/daughter bond that had been missing from their relationship.  However, it had seemed like the only thing that her mother was concerned about discussing was Sara's college plans.

Although she had protested otherwise, it had seemed to Sara like her mother was making a strong attempt at persuading her to drop out of college.  "There's no need for college," she'd said.  "You've got a husband and a home, what more do you need?  Eventually, you and Dane are going to have children.  Certainly you can't raise a child and go to college at the same time!"

Sara wasn't entirely sure what her mother was up to, but she'd found her statements to be quite odd.  After all, Dane had recently remarked that he, himself, thought that she needed to drop out of school.  Of course, Sara had firmly refused, but now that her mother was making the same observations, maybe they did have a point.  It wasn't like she was going to have to work or anything.  When she and Dane had children, she was certainly going to be home raising them.  Why would she need college for that?

With a shake of her head, Sara looked back down at the picture she was holding and sighed before putting it back in its proper place.  After throwing herself down onto the sofa, she reached over to the coffee table to pick up her latest issue of Movie Mirror and immediately saw the script for Stephanie's next show laying on the floor.

"Well, Steph was here, that's for sure," she muttered to herself before picking it up to quickly skim through it.  Realizing that she couldn't make heads or tails out of the story that was going on---she didn't listen to The Trials of Prudence, after all---she tossed it aside and then folded her legs up under herself Indian style and began to read the article on Jean Harlow that she'd been intending to read all day.  She'd just have to ask Stephanie what happened to the table when she got home.

ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM

"How is she doing?" Reginald asked with concern as he gazed down at Janet who, though still clearly upset, was much more docile.  "It looks like that sedative that the nurse gave her helped."

"This is just going to be so hard for her to deal with," Burt sighed as he held Janet in his arms and stroked her hair.  "For all of you, actually."

"But we'll make it through this," Jillian nodded and then stopped to take a deep breath before turning to look down the hallway where Judith still sat, nearly overcome with grief, as she was being consoled by Dr. Campbell.  "Even Judith will be all right...eventually.  We're a family.  We'll make it through this together.  I just...don't know how mother is going to react to the news."

Just then, as if on cue, Leticia Stokes came rushing through the doors of the hospital, frantically searching the room for her family.

"Oh, dear lord, there you are," Leticia said, nearly out of breath as she hurried over to them.  "Fred and I were at The Gardens when Jasper told us about the accident.  It's all over the radio, but they aren't giving many details.  He just dropped me off at the door and he's parking the car."

"Oh, Momma," Jillian sobbed as she ran into her mother's arms.  "I'm so glad that...you're here now."

"It's going to be okay, darling," Leticia sighed as she held her daughter tightly.  "How...is everyone?  Where's Judith and your father?  Were they hurt very badly?"

"Mother, I...father is..."  Jillian froze and she began to tremble.  She couldn't say it.  She couldn't say the words.

"Jillian, honey, what is it?" Leticia asked curiously as she tried to fight the horrible gnawing in the pit of her stomach.  "There's something your not telling me.  It's not...Judith, is it?  How badly was she hurt?"

"N-no, not...Judith," Jillian mumbled weakly.

"Then I don't..."  Leticia's voice trailed off as her eyes quickly scanned the room.  

Janet looked like she was in a daze and both Reginald and Burt had awkwardly solemn expressions on their faces.  Jillian couldn't even seem to look her mother in the eye!  As Leticia's eyes traveled down the hallway, she saw Judith, still near hysterics cradled in Dr. Campbell's arms.  Only one thing could possibly have had such a devastating effect on Judith.  It was in that moment that she knew.

"No!" Leticia cried out.  "He can't be...he can't..."

"Mrs. Stokes," Burt spoke up as he left Janet's side and rose to his feet to take Leticia by the arm.  "I'm afraid that...your husband was...killed in the accident."

"Nelson?" she asked, not sure as if she could believe her own ears.  "Dead?  I...I..."

"Leticia, darling," Dr. Fred Rutherford spoke up as he ran into the emergency room.  "Is everything all right?  Are they okay?"

"Oh, my god, Fred," she gasped and fell into his arms.  "Nelson's dead!  Oh, god!  Nelson's dead!"

"There, there, Leticia, it's going to okay," he sighed as he held her tightly in his arms.  "I'm here.  Everything's going to be okay."

Meanwhile, down the hall, Judith watched her mother in Fred's arms and felt her face begin to burn with anger.  Overcome by a sense of uncontrollable rage, she sprang to her feet and bolted from Talbot's side.

"You!" Judith cried out.  "Get away from my mother!"

"Judith, calm down," Jillian spoke up sharply as she reached out in a futile attempt to grab her sister as she rushed past.  "This isn't the time or place to..."

"You've done everything you could to destroy this family!" Judith shouted as she pulled her mother out of his arms before beating him violently with her fists.  "Why can't you leave us alone?  Why can't you leave my mother alone?  Why are you even breathing when...when..."

"Judith, stop it!" Talbot ordered as ran up behind her and pulled her off of Fred.  "I mean this instant!  I will not have you turning this hospital into a boxing arena."

"Oh, T-Talbot," she sobbed as she grabbed onto him tightly.  "My Daddy is...dead!"

"Fred, I'm...sorry," Leticia apologized weakly as she struggled to compose herself in light of her daughter's behavior.  "Judith shouldn't have...attacked you like that and I..."

"No, darling, it's okay," Fred nodded.  "I know how difficult this is for all of you.  I know how she feels about me and I know how much her father meant to her.  It's...understandable how she feels."

"But that doesn't excuse..."

"In this instance, yes, it does."  Fred paused and took a deep breath.  "I think that I should just leave.  I really don't have a place here, right now.  You need to be with your family.  You've just lost your husband.  I'm only in the way."

"No, Fred, please," Leticia begged as she fought back her tears.  "Don't go.  I...want you to stay.  I...need you...to stay.  For me."

As Fred stood silently and watched Leticia trying to compose herself and handle her grief like a dignified lady, he smiled inwardly.  He would stay for her.  She did need him, after all.  In fact, he would quickly become her pillar of strength and support through such a difficult time.  And he had every intention of milking it for all it was worth.

TO BE CONTINUED

TOMORROW

Patterson discovers that Stephanie is missing.

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

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions