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

 

EPISODE #119 (Tuesday, 5/21/02)
Same Day
March, 1936 - Afternoon

CALLISON PUBLICATIONS - DOUGLAS'S OFFICE

"Myrtle, I thought that I asked you not to disturb me," Douglas Davis said as he pressed down on the intercom button.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Davis," Myrtle replied, "but you have a phone call.  It's Miss Jillian Stokes.  She said it was urgent."

"I'm sorry, detective," Douglas sighed as he picked up the telephone receiver and pressed it to his ear.  "Jillian, it's Douglas, what's wrong?"  His eyes grew wide with shock and concern.  "Are you...sure?  I...um...yes.  I'll...be right there."

"Mr. Davis, is there a problem?" Jim Fitzpatrick asked with concern.

"I'm sorry, detective, but I really have to leave," Douglas quickly explained as he bolted from his chair and grabbed his coat.  "It's my wife."

"I...hope everything's okay."

"Oh, everything's fine," Douglas smiled broadly.  "She's having a baby!"

ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM - LATER

"Excuse me, nurse," Douglas said franticly as he hurried up to the desk.  "I'm looking for my wife.  I was told that she was brought in.  Her name's Mrs. Douglas Davis and she's..."

"Douglas!" Jillian Stokes called out as she rushed over to him, tightly gripping Reginald Callison's hand and dragging him along behind her.  "It's about time you got here."

"You wouldn't believe the traffic," Douglas sighed and reached up to loosen his tie.  "Where's Lorraine?  Is she all right?  Nothing's wrong with the baby, is there?"

"She's fine," Jillian laughed.  "She's just having a baby.  Women have been doing it for centuries."

"Well, Lorraine hasn't been doing it for centuries," Douglas retorted as he glanced down at his watch.  "And, besides, you know that she's had some problems with this baby."

"Douglas, she's going to be fine," Reginald assured and reached out to grab Douglas' arm supportively.  "The doctor is with her right now."

"Dr. Jackson?"  Douglas looked at both of them in surprise.  "He actually beat me here?"

"No, not Dr. Jackson.  It's Dr. Hardy."  Jillian took Douglas by the hand and slowly led him down the hallway towards the waiting room.  "I'm sure that she's in good hands."

"But I don't want Dr. Hardy to deliver this baby!" Douglas replied flatly.  "I want Dr. Jackson.  More importantly, Lorraine wants Dr. Jackson.  He saved both of their lives and he's the only doctor I want delivering this baby."  He again looked at his watch.  "I called him before I left the office.  He should be here."

"Douglas, do you mean Dr. Calvin Jackson?" Reginald asked as he furrowed his brow.  "The son of my grandmother's housekeeper?"

"Yes, that's him.  Remember, I told you about when Lorraine collapsed on the docks.  He saved her life."

"I...don't think that having Calvin here is going to be a good idea," Reginald cautioned carefully.  "I mean...well...I'm sure that you understand the situation and I don't think that..."

"I don't dive a damn about some stupid 'situation' as you want to call it," Douglas grumbled.  "He's a damn fine doctor and he's the only one I trust with my wife."

"Mr. Davis!" Calvin called out as he raced into the waiting room.  "I got here as soon as I could, but...well...I had some problems getting in."

"Well, that doesn't matter, now."  Douglas reached out and shook Calvin's hand.  "You're here and Lorraine needs you."

"Calvin, she's right through those doors and down the hallway on the left," Jillian motioned.

"Not so fast," Dr. Talbot Campbell spoke up as he came through the doors and threw up his hands to stop Calvin from entering.  "I can't let you go in there."

"What?" Douglas gasped incredulously.  "Dr. Campbell, what do you mean?  He's my wife's doctor.  He needs to be in there with her when the baby's born!"

"Mr. Davis, I understand what you're trying to say," Talbot sighed and nodded.  "This is an extremely awkward situation, but you have to understand my position.  I have to think about the rest of my staff and this hospital's other patients."

"I was afraid of this," Calvin grumbled.  "This is exactly what happened when I tried to get in."

"Dr. Campbell, what are you trying to say?"  Douglas glanced from Talbot to Calvin and then back again.

"Mr. Davis, I'm sorry, but things being what they are," he paused and took a deep breath, "I can't let this man in to see your wife.  I cannot allow him to practice medicine in this hospital."

THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - LOUNGE TERRACE

"Um, Mr. Monroe," Jasper St. John spoke up as he stood in the doorway of the terrace.  "I really...need to go back downstairs and take care of some things."

"Can I...just stay here a little while longer?" Patterson Monroe asked as he turned around to face him.  "Can I look around some more?  Maybe I can find something...anything...that the police might have missed."

"I...guess that it would be all right," Jasper replied.  "Just...take as long as you need.  Honestly, though, I really don't see what the point is.  Even if there were any kind of evidence out here about what happened to Mrs. Lake, I'm sure that the weather would have destroyed it, by now."

"Maybe," Patterson muttered softly.  "Maybe not."

Once Jasper left, Patterson carefully began looking over the terrace.  However, the only thing that he could really see were the large potted plants that lined the side railing.  There was absolutely no way that anyone could have gotten into the lounge through the terrace.  Unless...

What if Stephen Lake had been in the room before Annabelle had arrived?  Could he have come in and then hidden out on the terrace and waited to make his move?

Patterson shook his head and immediately dismissed that notion.  That didn't make logical sense, either.  After all, how could Stephanie's father have known that Annabelle would go into the lounge?  Besides that, since there was a witness who never saw anyone else go into or come out of the lounge between the time that Francis Callison left and Reginald went in, how could Stephen Lake have gotten onto the other terrace and into the main ballroom where Sara had seen him?  No, none of it made any sense.

"Mr. Monroe?" Detective Jim Fitzpatrick spoke up as he stood in the doorway.  "Can I ask you what you're doing here?"

"Just trying to figure out how Albanyville's finest missed such an important piece of evidence like this terrace," Patterson shot back.  "Tell me, detective, did your department even bother to consider that there might have been another way into that room other than through the doors to the ballroom?"

"Well, considering that Mr. St. John didn't bother mentioning this terrace's existence," Jim retorted, "I'm not sure how we could have known about it."

"You are the police.  Isn't it your job to investigate things?"

Jim hesitated for a moment, resisting the urge to fire off a defensive reply, but then calmly spoke again.  "So, exactly what are you doing here, Mr. Monroe?  How did you find out about this terrace?"

"I simply asked Mr. St. John.  If you'd done the same, maybe you would have known about it, too."

"Well, I know about it, now!"  Jim paused and took a deep breath.  "Not that it really matters.  I already told you that the investigation into Mrs. Lake's murder is closed."

"I'm not here because of the murder," Patterson explained.  "I'm here trying to find a connection between Stephanie's disappearance and her father.  Apparently, the police aren't going to do anything to help her."

"Why don't you leave the detective work to us?  There's no proof that Miss Lake has been kidnapped.  Even if she has been and her father is involved, it could be a dangerous matter.  You shouldn't get involved!"  Jim took another deep breath.  "Now why don't you just go home and let us do our job?"

Patterson eyed the detective carefully as he tried to keep his rising temper in check.  "So, why are you here, detective, if your investigation into Annabelle's murder is closed?"

"Just routine follow up," Jim explained.  "When I came into the lounge, I saw the drapes pulled open and the door leading out here.  I just wanted to check things out.  Curiosity, more than anything else.  That's all.  Go home, Mr. Monroe."

With a shake of his head, Patterson realized that he wouldn't be getting anywhere with the stubborn detective anytime soon.  Finally, with resignation, he nodded.  "Okay.  If that's a direct order."

"It is."

Without saying another word, Patterson shoved his hands down into his pockets and walked back into the lounge and headed for the door.  However, in spite of his seeming compliance with the detective's demands, Patterson was more determined than ever to get to the bottom of things.  He was certain, without a shadow of a doubt, that Stephanie had been kidnapped by her father and was in serious trouble.  If he couldn't count on the police to do anything to help her, he'd have to do it himself.  However, it was now quite apparent that he'd have to keep his search secret.  He couldn't let the police's "good" intentions destroy any chance he might have of ever saving Stephanie.

Once Jim had heard the main doors of the lounge close, he let out a deep sigh of relief.  Although he hadn't lied to Patterson---the investigation into Annabelle Lake's murder was indeed still closed---he still had his own personal suspicions that needed to be satisfied and those suspicions were even greater than before after learning the contents of Annabelle Lake's letter.

As he stood on the terrace, Jim reached into his jacket's inside left-breast pocket and pulled out a folded-up stack of papers.  Thank god he'd managed to dig the original plans for the hotel out of the public records down at the courthouse---plans that clearly showed the terrace outside the lounge.  Now holding a complete blueprint of The Grand Sunset Room and the adjoining lounge, he was determined to find a connection that might connect Sara Manchester's sighting of Stephen Lake on the terrace of The Grand Sunset Room and his possible means of access to the lounge at the time his wife was murdered.

Eyeing the plans carefully, Jim immediately saw that, although not connected as he'd hoped, the terraces for the lounge and the main ballroom both ran along the same side of the hotel.  Glancing up from the plans, he furrowed his brow as he thought.  Was there a way for a person to move from one terrace to the other?  Was the gap between the two terraces small enough to permit easy access?

With determination, Jim walked over to the row of large potted plants.  The plants were clearly there to provide a sense of privacy for the terrace.  In fact, they completely hid the other terrace from view.  As he attempted to push the pots aside, he realized that they were much heavier than they looked.  In fact, considering what floor they were on, they were probably weighted down to provide stability against any strong winds.

After realizing that there was no moving the pots, Jim carefully attempted to climb over them and through the plants.  He reached out his hand in order to find the railing of the terrace so that he could judge his distance and, using his other hand to move the plants' leaves and branches out of his way, pushed his way through.  To his surprise, he realized that there was, in fact, a slight gap between the plants and the railing.  Of course, there wasn't a great deal of room, but there was room for a person to stand.  What was even more surprising was the revelation of the true distance between the two terraces---only a few feet apart.

Considering the relative short distance, could Stephen Lake have gotten onto the lounge's terrace from the one outside the main ballroom and, therefore, access to the lounge?  Jim peered over the edge of the railing and noted how high up he was and took a deep breath.  There was only one way to find out---he had to try it for himself.

After climbing up onto the terrace's railing, he again looked down at the ground, over 75 stories below, and took another deep breath before praying that the old adage wasn't necessarily true---maybe curiosity wouldn't kill the cat.  He took another deep breath, brushed his concerns out of his head, eyed his target...and jumped.

To his relief, he cleared the distance with no trouble at all.  Turning to look back at the terrace outside the lounge, he knew that someone could have used it to gain access to the lounge.  That being the case, someone could have gotten in without being seen and used the opportunity to kill Mrs. Lake and then slip back out without being noticed.  With a smile of victory, Jim was certain that that person was, more than likely, Stephen Lake.

ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM

"What?"  Douglas gasped incredulously as he tried to comprehend what Talbot was telling him.  "Of course, you can't be saying that you're not going to let Dr. Jackson in with my wife?"

"Mr. Davis, I'm afraid that's exactly what I'm saying."  Talbot glanced for a moment in Calvin's direction.  "Certainly, you can understand the position that I'm in."

"All I understand is that you're refusing to let this doctor into the room with my wife who, incidentally, is about to give birth to my child!"  Douglas' face began to burn with anger.  "Well, I've got news for you, Dr. Campbell, I don't give a damn about your staff or any of your other patients!"

"Mr. Davis, please lower your voice.  This is a hospital."  Talbot carefully took Douglas by the arm and slowly led him down the hallway and away from the others.  Once they were a safe distance away, he spoke again but in a softer, more understanding tone.  "Mr. Davis, I mean absolutely no disrespect to either you or your wife, but...well...this is a little irregular.  I'm sure that Dr. Jackson is a fine doctor, but...well..."

"Well what?"

"He's a Negro," Talbot tried to explain carefully.  "Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but..."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "What I'm trying to say is that, unfortunately, my allowing him to practice any kind of medicine in this hospital would almost certainly not be looked upon favorably.  As Chief of Staff, I have this hospital's image to uphold and...well...this could result in my losing patients as well as members of my staff."

"I already told you that I don't..."

"I know.  I know."  Talbot held up his hands to calm Douglas down.  "But they do care.  I have to think about the total picture.  Mr. Davis, we've got plenty of fine doctors here on staff and I'm positive that any one of them would do an exceptional job.  They will provide your wife with the best care possible."

"Dr. Campbell, are you familiar with the specifics of my wife's medical history?" Douglas questioned pointedly.  "Did you know that she's had quite a bit of trouble with this baby?"

"I...um...no.  I didn't."

"In fact, she nearly lost this baby at one point."  Douglas took a deep breath as he fought back his emotions.  "I nearly lost both her and the baby.  Dr. Jackson is the only reason that either one of them is still alive.  He knows all of the details of my wife's condition.  After that incident, we both decided to make him her primary physician.  He will be the attending doctor in this delivery!"

"But, Mr. Davis, I....  No, Mr. Davis.  He won't be.  I'm sorry, but there's nothing that I can do."

"You listen to me," Douglas barked as he grabbed Talbot by the collar of his jacket and pushed him against the wall.  "In case you didn't know, I'm a lawyer.  If anything happens to my wife or our baby, I'll sue you so fast it will make your head spin!  What do you think that will do to your precious staff and your precious hospital?"

"Now, Mr. Davis, there's no reason to..."

"There's every reason to," Reginald spoke up as he quickly walked towards them.  "And I'll make sure that every detail is spread across the front page of The Post with your name in the headline!"

"Mr. Callison, I really don't think that's necessary..."

"Talbot, I've always admired and respected you and what wonderful things you've done with this hospital," Reginald continued calmly.  "I understand your concerns, but this is a special case.  God forbid, if something were to happen, do you honestly think that this hospital will be able to take it?  Will you?"

Talbot awkwardly looked away, unable to meet their eyes and let out a weary sigh of defeat as he weighed his options.  "I...I....  Okay.  I'll allow Dr. Jackson to attend to Mrs. Davis."

"I thought that you'd see things our way," Reginald nodded with a broad smile and then shook Talbot's hand vigorously before turning to address Douglas.  "Now, let's get Calvin in to see Lorraine."

As Reginald and Douglas hurried back up the hallway, Talbot slowly followed along behind and silently prayed that he'd made the right decision.

"Thank you, Dr. Campbell," Jillian smiled warmly as he walked up to her.  "You truly did the right thing."

"I hope so," he sighed as he watched Calvin walk through the swinging doors to where Lorraine was.  "I hope so."

"Well, Douglas, the only thing left to do, now, is wait." Reginald smiled as he patted Douglas on the back.  "It won't be long before your officially a father."

"A father," Douglas muttered to himself as the full impact of that realization finally began to hit him.  "Oh, I think I need to sit down."

"What I think you need is a strong cup of coffee," Reginald laughed.  "Why don't we go down to the cafeteria and grab a cup.  All we can do, now, is wait, after all."

"I...guess you're right," Douglas sighed and then raked his fingers through his hair before following Reginald down the hallway and towards the cafeteria.  "This waiting has got to be the most difficult thing that I've ever gone through."

After they'd turned the corner and disappeared out of sight, Grace Davis burst through the doors of the emergency room, frantic and slightly disheveled.

"Jillian!" she called out as she raced to her side.  "I...I just heard that Lorraine is having the baby.  Is she...all right?"

"She's fine," Jillian smiled as she reached out to take Grace's hand.  "Well, as fine as any woman can be in her situation."

"Oh, I hope that everything goes okay," Grace sighed and then bit her lip in nervousness.  "Oh, my.  This is...going to make me an aunt, isn't it?  I've...never been an aunt before."

"I'm sure that you'll be the best aunt in the world," Jillian laughed.  "I swear, I think you and Douglas are more nervous about all of this than Lorraine is."

"Well, it's just that...just that..."  Grace closed her eyes tightly and reached out for the wall as she suddenly began to feel her head spin.

"Grace, are you all right?" Jillian asked as she watched all of the color drain from Grace's face.  "You don't...look well."

"I...I'm...fine," Grace muttered weakly and then made a few short gasps for air.  "I...haven't had...anything to eat today and..."  Feeling her knees beginning to buckle underneath her, she slowly began to sink to the floor.

"Grace!" Jillian called out and instinctively grabbed her arm to steady her.  "Dr. Campbell!"

"I've got her," Talbot replied as he grabbed Grace's other arm and helped Jillian lead her to a chair.  "Miss Davis?  Miss Davis, are you all right?"

"I'm...fine..." Grace insisted again.  "I just...went straight to the bookstore from...school and I...didn't get anything to...eat."

"Honey, are you sure that that's all it is?" Jillian asked with concern.  "You look like you're going to be sick."

"Miss Davis, if you'd like, I could take you down to one of the examining rooms and give you a quick check up."

"N-no, I'm...fine."  Grace shook her head slightly, more in an attempt to fight her dizziness than in response to the doctor's suggestion.

"I think that you should listen to Dr. Campbell," Jillian advised.  "Certainly, this could all be because you haven't eaten, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to have him check you out just to be sure."

"I...I..."  Grace inhaled deeply and swallowed.  "I guess...so."

"Just come with me," Talbot said in a gentle and reassuring tone.  "I'm sure that everything is fine and we're probably over reacting, but in my line of work, it's always better to be safe than sorry."

"O-okay," Grace nodded and then shakily rose to her feet before allowing him to lead her down the hallway and into an examining room.

As Jillian watched them disappear out of sight, she shook her head and laughed to herself.  It seemed like Lorraine was handling all of this better than either Douglas or Grace and Lorraine was the one having the baby.

THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM

"Join us again, next time, for Woman Courageous!" the announcer's voice came over the radio causing Francis Callison to look up from her needle point and grimace, "brought to you by Glory!---the new washday product from Powell & Gilbert.  Glory brightens and whitens everything in your wash.  Go out and buy Glory today!"

"Well, it would have to go off, now," Francis sighed.  "I knew that we wouldn't find out who Eleanor was on the phone with today."

"Hello, Mom!" Maggie Callison called out as she breezed through the front door, a stack of school books in her arms, and began to hurry up the stairs.

"Not so fast, young lady," Francis spoke up and quickly rose from her seat and walked into the foyer to the foot of the stairs.

Maggie immediately stopped in her tracks about half-way up the stairs before turning to trudge back down them.

"Yes, mother?" Maggie sighed.  "What did I do, now?"

"Nothing," Francis smiled warmly.  "You just seem to be in an awfully good mood today.  I was just wondering if anything happened at school to bring this about."

"Oh, it's not school that's made me so happy," Maggie explained as she followed her mother back into the living room when Francis motioned for her to sit down, "it's getting to come home here afterwards."

"Ah, I see."

"Oh, Momma, isn't it wonderful to finally be back home---back in our own house with you and Daddy?"

"Yes, dear, it's very wonderful," Francis laughed and then leaned over to give her daughter a hug.  "For the first time in what seems like forever, I finally feel like everything's going to be all right."

Francis pulled away from her daughter and immediately noticed that the joyous smile that had covered her face had suddenly begun to fade, being replaced by a look of worry and apprehension.

"Maggie, what is it?" Francis asked with concern.  "Just a minute ago you looked like you were about to do a cartwheel across the living room floor, but now...."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Maggie blushed as her shoulders slumped and she sunk back onto the couch.  "I really am happy to be home, to have things like they were before, but..."

"But?"

"But I can't help but think that none of this is going to last," Maggie muttered softly, almost as if she were afraid to put her worries into words.  "I know that you and Daddy are back together and we're all living together again just like a family..."

"We are a family!"

"Yes, I know that, but..."  Maggie bit her lip and nervously looked away.  "What if this is all just temporary?  What if...well...I mean, the trial is coming up, and..."

"I think I understand, now," Francis nodded with a sigh.  "You're worried about what's going to happen, aren't you."

"Yes."

"Listen to me, it's very understandable that you're worried about this trial."  Francis reached over and took her daughter's hand.  "I'm worried, to tell the truth."

"Y-you are?"

"Yes, dear.  Very much so, in fact."  Francis paused and tried to search for the exact words to convey her feelings without completely dashing Maggie's sense of hope.  "Everyone knows that I had nothing to do with Mrs. Lake's death.  Well, everyone except the police and that silly district attorney, but let's not worry about them."

"But, I am worried!"  Maggie looked up at her mother as her lower lip began to tremble and her eyes began to fill with tears.  "What if that stupid jury doesn't believe that you didn't do anything wrong?  What if they decide that you did kill Mrs. Lake?  If they do, then you'd have to..."

"Maggie, we can't think like that.  We have to stay positive."

"But it could happen!"  Maggie grabbed her mother's hand tightly as if she were terrified of letting go.  "They could find you guilty of murder and then they'd take you away from us!  We...we just got everything back the way it's supposed to be and now...now...it could all disappear again!"

"Maggie, you listen to me," Francis spoke sternly and deliberately.  "We have to have faith in the courts and in the American judicial system.  Remember what you learned in History class?  Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  The jury is going to be fair and impartial and they are going to look at all of the evidence and come to a clear and rational decision.  You know I couldn't have done it, your father knows I couldn't have done it, and---most importantly---I know that I didn't do it.  They're going to see the exact same thing.  I'm not going anywhere---ever!  This is just another test of the strength of our family.  We have to stay positive and be there for each other.  Thinking negative thoughts isn't going to do anyone any good.  Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"

"I...I think so," Maggie nodded as she furrowed her brow and tried to process what her mother had said.  "It's just that I've waited so long for everything to go back to being the way it was that I'm...well...scared that now it's happened, it's all just a dream and I'm going to wake up."

"Honey, this isn't a dream.  This is very real."  Francis pulled her daughter into her arms.  "We're a family and we're going to be together.  Nothing is going to separate us ever again."

As she held her daughter in her supportive and comforting arms, Francis discovered that her daughter was providing her with as much comfort as she was receiving.  No matter what Francis had told Maggie in order to ease her fears and worries, Francis had her own concerns---concerns that were just as troubling as Maggie's.

What if a jury looked at the evidence and believed that she had killed Annabelle?  What if the trial's outcome was nothing at all like what they'd hoped for?  Could she withstand the pain and anguish of being separated from her family?  And, more importantly, could they withstand the pain and anguish of having to be separated from her?

ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM

"This waiting is driving me crazy," Douglas muttered as he paced back and forth.  "Why hasn't Dr. Jackson come out and told us anything?  What's taking so long?"

"Douglas, just calm down," Jillian smiled.  "These things take time.  There's no way of knowing exactly how long it's going to be.  I think that Mother told me that she was in the delivery room for 18 hours with Judith."

"18 hours?"  His eyes grew wide and he let out a weary sigh.  "I don't think that I can make it for 18 hours."

"It's going to be all right," Reginald spoke up.  "Maybe we should go back to the cafeteria for another cup of coffee.  This could take a while."

"No.  I'm staying right here," Douglas answered firmly.  "I want to be here in case something...goes wrong."

"Nothing's going to go wrong," Jillian insisted.  "Everything's going to be fine."

"And where's Grace?" he continued.  "You said that she was here, but she got sick?"

"Dr. Campbell is just giving her a little check up," Jillian explained.  "She was feeling a little light headed, so he wanted to check her out just as a precaution.  Grace said that she hadn't eaten today, so that's probably all that it is.  Either that, or she's just coming down with the same bug that both you and Lorraine had."

"I...guess so," Douglas mumbled and then checked his watch.  "I just wish I knew what was taking so long."

"Mr. Davis," Calvin spoke up as he stepped through the swinging doors, pulling off his gloves and surgical mask.

"Dr. Jackson!" he exclaimed.  "How's Lorraine?  The baby?  Are they..."

"They're both doing fine," Calvin smiled.  "Considering her history, I was a little concerned at first, but she came through everything with flying colors."

"Oh, thank god," Douglas sighed with relief.  "So, it's...over?  She had the baby?  I'm...a father?"

"You're a father," Calvin laughed, amused by Douglas' nervousness.  "The father of a baby boy."

"Douglas!  Congratulations!" Reginald grinned broadly as he patted his friend on the back and shook his hand vigorously.  "Now, where are those cigars you were promising to pass out?"

"I...um...oh," Douglas stammered awkwardly.  "In the rush to get here, I guess I forgot them."

"Well, I think that there'll be plenty of time for that later," Jillian laughed.

"D-Dr. Jackson?" Douglas spoke hesitantly.  "Can I...see them?"

"You most certainly can," Calvin smiled.  "In fact, Mrs. Davis is asking for you.  Just go through those doors and then down to the last room on the right."

"Douglas, give Lorraine our best," Reginald smiled.

"Yes," Jillian agreed.  "Tell her how happy we are for both of you."

"I...will," Douglas nodded before taking a deep breath and pushing his way through the doors.

As he walked down the corridor towards his wife's room, Douglas felt his heart begin to race with a mixture of excitement and nervousness.  After such a long and difficult period, it was nearly hard to believe that this day had finally arrived.  When he reached Lorraine's room, he paused and took another deep breath before knocked gently on the doorframe.

"L-Lorraine?"

"Oh, Douglas!" she called out.  "You're here!  Oh, come see the baby!"

As he stepped into the room, his eyes began to fill with tears at the sight of his wife cradling their newborn son in her arms.  It was nearly too difficult to believe that that baby---conceived under less than desirable circumstances---was now responsible for so much joy and happiness.

"Lorraine, darling, he's...beautiful," Douglas gasped softly as he sat down on the edge of the bed next to her and took in the full sight of the baby in her arms.  "He's...perfect."

"I swear that he's the most beautiful baby that I've ever seen," Lorraine smiled as she carefully ran her finger along the baby's cheek.

"Well, I...I guess we have to name him," Douglas laughed.  "We can't call him 'the baby' forever.  That might get a little awkward for him when he turns 18."

"Turns 18?" she gasped.  "Oh, Douglas, don't rush things!  I want...to keep him like this for a long as I can."

"So do I."

"Actually, I have been thinking about a name."  She leaned down to kiss the baby on his forehead.  "In fact, it's one that you and I have discussed several times."

"It...is?"

"Yes," she nodded.  "What do you think of Michael Martin Davis---after your father?"

"I...was thinking the exact same thing," Douglas grinned.  "We can call him Mikey, for short."

"I...like that." Lorraine agreed.  "So, Mikey it is.  Mikey Davis."

As Douglas sat on the edge of the bed, he leaned over and put his arm around his wife, drawing her closer.  They had all come through so much together to get to this point.  Now, with the birth of their child, they were what they'd always hoped to be---a family.

"Darling, I think this has to be the happiest day of my life," he smiled warmly.  "Being here with you...our baby..."

"I...know exactly what you mean," she nodded.  "In fact, I...never for a million years thought that I could ever be this happy.  I guess that Momma was right."

"What...do you mean?"

"She told me that everything would work out for the best," Lorraine explained.  "And it did."

"I guess that it's true when they say that everything happens for a reason," Douglas smiled.  "Seeing the both of you here, right now, I can't think of anywhere else that I'd rather be.  I don't think that it's possible for me to be any happier than I am right now."  He paused, bit his lip, and eyed her hesitantly.  "Lorraine, darling, I don't think that I've ever loved anyone as much as I love you right now."

"Y-you...do?" she stammered awkwardly.

"Yes, darling," he nodded and pulled her closer.  "I love you more than I ever thought could be possible.  I mean, considering everything that's..."

"I...know what you mean." she smiled.  "Oh, Douglas, I love you, too.  I love you, our son, and our family with all of my heart.  I just didn't think it was possible to ever be this happy."

Overcome with the joy of the moment, they kissed tenderly.  With the birth of their son, their marriage was finally cemented in stone.  A marriage of necessity and convenience had turned into a marriage of genuine love and devotion.  Lorraine's mother had been correct---everything had worked out for the best.

TO BE CONTINUED

TOMORROW

Unexpected help leads to a thrilling climax.

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

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions