MANOR - FOYER
"I really don't know if this is
gonna work," Naomi Jackson said as she followed
Joyce Preston down the
stairs. "Do you really think that your daughter is just going to turn
over her entire inheritance to me?"
"She's not turning it over to
you," Joyce snapped. "She's turning it over to me so that I can
give it to you. Which I'm not going to do, of course."
"What? But what about my money? I thought that you were..."
"You'll get your share of the
money!" Joyce barked through clinched teeth. "But the bulk of it
is mine. All you have to do is..." She stopped mid-sentence and
furrowed her brow before pressing her index finger to her lips to silence
Naomi. "Shhh. I thought I heard something."
"Probably that old
Naomi grumbled. "That woman lurks around her like she's involved in
top secret espionage."
"Helga's been a thorn in my
side since Thornton and I met," Joyce commented before leading Naomi across
the foyer and to the library. "Let's go in here so we can have some
However, as Joyce slid the large
wooden doors open, she realized that they wouldn't be alone---Patterson Monroe
was seated on the sofa, nervously thumbing through one of her daughter's movie
"Oh, Mr. Monroe," Joyce
gasped nervously, "I...didn't know that we had company. Dane and Sara
went out to dinner, so I don't know what time they'll be home."
"I know. The housekeeper
told me," Patterson explained as he tossed the magazine aside and rose to
his feet. "Actually, I'm not here to see them."
"Y-you're not?" She
hesitated briefly and then turned to quietly address Naomi. "Dear,
would you...leave us alone for a moment? We'll...chat later."
With a silent, yet curious, nod,
Naomi agreed and quietly slipped out of the library, pulling the doors closed
"So, Mr. Monroe, what are you
doing here if you're not here to visit them?" Joyce asked curiously as she
kept a careful eye on him.
"I'm waiting," he replied
calmly. "I'm waiting for...Stephanie to come home."
Monroe, pardon me if I laugh," she chuckled, "but that silly little
niece of mine doesn't have good sense to come in out of the rain."
She paused and her tone grew more serious. "I...know that you're
worried about her, but...well...I'm sure that it's just like Dane and Sara have
suspected. She's probably just run off with her father and they're enjoying
a tender reunion. It's nothing more than that. Considering
everything that I've heard about some of the things that she's done, I really
don't suspect that she'd even want to come home."
"Stephanie did not run
off!" Patterson insisted firmly. "She's been kidnapped by her
father. If, by some miracle, she manages to get away from him, I think
she'll come back here, first, and I want to be here."
"Why in the world do you think
that Stephen would kidnap his own daughter?"
"Well, anyone capable of murder
is certainly capable of kidnapping." Patterson began to slowly pace
around the room as his worries again began to build.
gasped. "Stephen? I really find that hard to believe."
"The police don't seem to think
so," he replied. "In fact, I have every reason to suspect that
they're trying to prove that he was the person that murdered Stephanie's mother."
"Stephen killed Annabelle?" She covered her mouth in shock. "Oh, my!
I..." Her voice trailed off and she shook her head slightly, almost
as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing. "But, he couldn't
have killed Annabelle and he couldn't have kidnapped Stephanie. I refuse
to believe it. He never said..." She froze mid-sentence,
seeming to appear as if she'd caught herself before she'd said more than she
say?" He eyed her curiously, her verbal miss-step not slipping past
"I...said that I find it hard
to believe that..."
not that." He walked closer to her, keeping his eyes carefully
trained on hers. "When you said that Stephanie's father never said
something to you, you sounded like you'd actually spoken to him." He
paused and eyed her closer.
"Well, when Mort and I were
married, I spoke with Stephen rather often. He was my brother-in-law,
after all." She turned away, unable to meet Patterson's eyes, and
nervously fumbled with the collar of her blouse.
"No, you sounded like you've
spoken to him recently." He reached out and grabbed her by the arm
and forced her to look at him. "Have you talked to him? Did you
know he was alive?"
Joyce took a deep breath and
swallowed hard as she found herself unable to avoid Patterson's penetrating
glare. After taking several moments to formulate exactly how she would
respond and what she would say, she spoke again.
"I...guess that in light of
recent events, some things make much more sense than I thought that they
did," she sighed. "M-maybe I was wrong." She paused
again and looked away.
"W-what are you trying to
"Mr. Monroe," she began
carefully, "I think that there's something that I need to tell you.
I...have a confession to make."