produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #79 (Thursday, 11/8/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
Same Day
January, 1936 - Evening


THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - FOYER

The Grand Sunset RoomFrancis Callison"M-Mrs. Callison," Stephanie Lake muttered weakly.  "My...mother d-drugged...your husband."

"W-what?"  Francis Callison quickly pulled away and stared at Stephanie blankly as her mind tried to process the unbelievable revelation she'd heard.  "Did you say drugged?  What do you mean?"

"Momma knew that your husband would never betray you if he was in his right mind.  She knew that his love for you was stronger than any of her charms or wiles."  As the truth began to spill forth from her lips, Stephanie couldn't have stopped it if she'd tried.  It was like a damn had suddenly burst and every horrible secret of her mother's came spilling out.  "She...she got some kind of drug.  I don't know what kind or how, but...."

"Y-yes?"

"But somehow, she slipped it to him during the engagement party.  She never did tell me all of the details, but I know that whatever that drug was, it put his head into a fog and he didn't know what he was doing."  She paused and took a deep, cleansing breath to punctuate the sense of release that she felt because of the intense burden that was being lifted from her shoulders.  "If it weren't for that drug...if it weren't for what happened that night...he would never have betrayed you.  He loved...loves...you too much for that.  Ever since that night, he's felt such intense guilt about what happened.  My mother has been using that guilt against him.  She's convinced him to rely on her and she's convinced him that you're better off without him.  He's only with her to spare you...because he loves you!"

"O-oh, my god," Francis stammered as she fell back against the wall.  Charles hadn't willfully turned his back on their vows and their marriage.  He hadn't sought out the warmth of another woman's arms because he'd grown tired of her.  He'd done it because of a cruel, heartless scheme perpetrated by a shallow, vengeful woman.  Charles had always loved her and still loved her.  Overcome with the sense of shock and disbelief that Stephanie's revelation had brought, Francis could only stand there with her mouth agape and eyes wide open.  "Oh, my god."


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THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - LOUNGE

The Grand Sunset Room"Thank god!" Dr. Fred Rutherford sighed as he closed the doors of the lounge behind him.  "You just saved me from the ever watchful eye of Francis' mother!"

"What the devil do you think you're doing here?" Annabelle Lake snapped angrily.  "How dare you bring her here!  I'm trying to cement my relationship with Charles.  The last thing I need is to have her and her mother skulking around trying to woo him back!"

"I really didn't have much choice!" he grumbled and then folded his arms across his chest defiantly.  "Her kids and her mother wanted her here.  Something about still being a member of the family and..."

"The hell she is!"  She started to pace around the empty lounge, a cloud of cigarette smoke following her wherever she went.  "That woman is out of this family!"

"Annabelle, she is still married to him.  The divorce hasn't gone through yet!"

"That's only a matter of time," she smirked.  "Charles is finally ready to move on with his life away from poor Francis.  I don't need her popping up to remind him about that boring past they share."

Dr. Fred Rutherford"Trust me, I don't like it much, either."  Fred thought about his plans to marry Francis as soon as her divorce was finalized.  If she couldn't let go of Charles or if the divorce didn't happen, he could kiss his own life good-bye.  However, he let out a small sigh of relief.  Thank god he'd thought of a backup plan.  "I want Charles and Francis apart just as much as you do."

"Then keep them apart!"

"I'm doing the best that I can," he snapped, "but I can't force her to do anything!  There's only so much persuading I can do.  I've got to let her think that she's making these choices on her own or we're both out of the ballgame."

"You might be out of the game," Annabelle smiled slyly, "but I just slid into home."

"W-what are you talking about?"

Annabelle Lake"Just this."  She held out her hand so that she could show off the shiny, new engagement ring that Charles had just given her.  "He asked me to marry him after the divorce."

"Well, isn't that just great news."  A broad grin covered his face as he thought about how the engagement would push Francis that much closer to him.

"It won't be if you don't hold up your end of the deal!"  As her expression turned icily serious, she slowly approached him and shoved her finger into his chest.  "Now get out there and get that woman the hell out of this party!"

"I'll do the best that I can," Fred sighed with a nod before turning to head out of the lounge in search of his date.

Now alone in the room, Annabelle took a long drag off of her cigarette and wondered if it would be appropriate for a woman of her age to wear white at her wedding.


THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - FOYER

The Grand Sunset Room"M-Mrs. Callison?  Are you all right?" Stephanie asked as she reached out to steady her.

"S-she...drugged him?"  Francis covered her mouth with her hand as she tried to let everything that Stephanie had told her sink in.  "W-why?  Why would she do something so...so horrible?"

"Because she knew that it was the only way she would ever get your husband to stray."  Stephanie hung her head in embarrassment.  "He...he loves you, Mrs. Callison.  He always has."

"If...if she hadn't drugged him...."  Francis' voice trailed off as she thought of all of the dark and painful months she'd had to endure after the engagement party.  She thought about the horrible words that she'd shared with her husband and the horrible things that had been said about her because of the separation--all because of Annabelle!

"If she hadn't drugged him, I'm convinced that you and Mr. Callison would never have separated."  Stephanie kept her hand on Francis' shoulder as she tried to show her as much support and understanding as she could.  "If it hadn't been for my mother, none of this would ever have happened."

Francis Callison"Why are you telling me all of this?" Francis asked in confusion as she inspected Stephanie closely.  "Why are you betraying your own mother?"

"It's...a long story."  Stephanie looked away as she fought back the tears that the memory of her mother's horrible words brought.  "But...I want to try to make amends for everything I've done.  I...know that I'm partly responsible for everything that happened at Reginald and Jillian's party."  Only partly responsible, of course.  Dane Manchester had had a much larger role, but that was neither here nor there at the moment.  "I just hope that maybe I can make up for some of that."

"T-thank you, Stephanie."  Francis lifted her hand to touch the young woman's cheek.  "Thank you so very much."  However, her expression soon turned darker as she stepped away and turned to face the entrance to the main ballroom.

"W-where are you going?" Stephanie asked nervously.

"I'm going to go have a few words with your mother."  Francis began to seethe with anger.  "There are a few things that she and I need to get straight and I need to tell her to stay away from my husband!"

Stephanie LakeAs Francis stormed away, Stephanie sank back against the wall and took several long breaths.  She'd done it.  She'd finally told the truth about what horrible things her mother had done.  Why, then, didn't she feel so good about herself?

"I'm sorry, Momma," she muttered softly as she choked back a tear.  "I'm so, so sorry."

Meanwhile, as Stephanie watched Francis walking away, she had no idea that she, too, was being watched from a distance....

"Oh, Stephanie," the mysterious figure muttered,  "I see that your mother's lies have done it again."