produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #82 (Monday, 12/24/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
Same Day
January, 1936 - Late Afternoon


THE PAGE TURNER BOOKSTORE

The Page Turner BookstoreGrace Davis"I had a hunch that you'd be working here today, so I just stopped in to see you," Dane Manchester smiled as he leaned against the counter.

"I...I'm flattered."  Grace Davis' breath caught in her throat as she felt her heart skip not one beat, but two.

"In fact, there's a question that I wanted to ask you."  He paused and looked her dead in the eyes.  "Actually, I was going to ask you at the party, but I didn't get a chance."

"Y-yes?"

"I was just wondering if...."  He looked away as if he were a tad embarrassed by what he was about to ask.  Of course, he wasn't, but it was a nice routine.  "Well, I was wondering if you still had that little crush on me like you did last year."

As he kept his eyes locked on her, Grace felt her knees grow weak.  Did she still have a crush on Dane after all that time?  Were the feelings that she'd once felt not quite as in the distant past as she'd once thought?  Now that she found herself cornered by his blatant question, she wasn't sure what to answer.


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THE LAKE APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM

800 W. Rose St. Apt #3"Here, have some hot cocoa," Patterson Monroe said softly as he walked into the room and handed Stephanie Lake the steaming cup.

She took it from him and then took a long sip before curling herself up into a ball on the sofa.

"I...I just can't believe it," she muttered shakily.  "She's...gone."

"I know, Steph.  I know."  He sat down next to her and gently wrapped his arm around her and began to stroke her hair.  "I can't believe it, myself."

"This is...all m-my fault."  She lowered her head as she tried to choke back her tears.  "If I hadn't told what she did to Mr. Callison, none of this would ever have happened.  I'd still have...my mother."

"Honey, you can't think like that."  He carefully held her head against his shoulder as she sobbed softly.  "None of this is your fault."

"Yes, it is!  If I'd...if I'd just kept my big trap shut, my mother would still be alive!  If it hadn't been for me, than none of this would have happened!"

Patterson MonroeSeeing her emotional state, Patterson bit his lip and began to grow slightly uncomfortable.  If anyone should bear the brunt of the blame, it should be him.  After all, he was the one who'd pressured her into telling the truth about what she'd learned concerning her mother's drugging of Charles Callison.

"I...I killed my own mother as surely as if I were the one who'd stabbed her!  In fact, I did stab her...right in the back!"

"Stephanie, it's going to be okay.  I promise you that everything's going to be okay."  He held her tightly in his arms and slowly rocked her back and forth in hopes of somehow easing her sense of grief and burden.  "I know what you're going through.  I know this is tragic and I know this is rough, but it's going to pass with time.  I know that doesn't mean much now, but..."

"Don't patronize me!  You don't know anything about..."  No sooner than the words were half-way out of her mouth, she immediately realized what she'd said and quickly bit her lip.  "O-oh, Patterson, I'm so sorry!  I...I forgot."

"It's okay," he sighed.  "I don't...talk about it much so it's kind of easy to forget.  But...I do know what you're going through.  It really hasn't been that long ago that I lost my own parents in that plane crash.  I know exactly what you're feeling.  I suffered through enormous amounts of guilt for quite a while."

"Guilt?"  She looked up and eyed him curiously.  "Why did you feel guilty?  They died in an accident.  They weren't savagely murdered like...like..."

"True, the circumstances are different, but...I just couldn't get over the idea that if I'd only been on that plane with them, I might have been able to do something to save them.  If only I'd been there."

"Oh, Paddy, if you'd been on that plane, you would have died with them."  Stephanie looked deeply into his eyes and tried to imagine her life without him.  That thought nearly sent her into a panic.  She'd grown to rely on him so much that she didn't know what she'd do if she didn't have him in her life.  "And...and what would...Todd do without you?"

"I know you're right.  It took me a long time to come to terms with that, but I know in my heart that I was kept off of that plane for a reason."  He pulled her into his arms again and rested his cheek on her head.  "Gee, who would ever have thought that we, of all people, would have so much in common."

Stephanie Lake"What?"  She looked up at him curiously.

"We're both orphans."  He let out a weary sigh.  "When it comes down to it, in many ways we're both exactly alike."

"W-we're nothing alike!" Stephanie shouted as she pushed her way out of his arms and bolted from the couch.  "You are a kind a decent human being and I'm...I'm..."

"Honey, don't do this to yourself."

"If it hadn't been for me, she'd still be alive!"  She turned her back to him, unable to deal with the enormous guilt over what she'd done.  "If it weren't for me, none of this would have happened!"

As Patterson sat in silence, his heart broke for her.  He remembered the pain of loosing his parents all too well and he physically hurt for her to have to go through the same thing.  How could he get her to see that revealing the truth about her mother's actions hadn't caused her death?  How could he convince her that she wasn't responsible?


THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM

2210 Elmwood Lane"Honestly, I just don't know what's wrong with that boy!" Charles Callison fumed as he stormed out of the office and into the living room.  "You'd think that if you were under investigation for murder, you'd at least have something to say in your defense!"

"You mean Reginald still isn't saying anything about what happened that night?"  Francis turned from her seated position on the sofa to look up at her estranged husband with an intense feeling of concern and worry.

"I swear, he's almost acting like he's guilty!"  He quickly lit a cigarette and began to pace around the room.  "I just don't know what's gotten into him."

"Oh, this is all my fault," she muttered as she covered her mouth and shook her head, still slightly in shock over everything that had happened.  "This is all my fault!"

Charles Callison"Francis, how is this your fault?"  He paused and looked at her curiously.  "You've done nothing wrong in all of this."

"Well, I..."  She looked away and bit her lip as she tried to fight back her tears.  "I mean, if I hadn't gotten him so riled up over Annabelle and what she did to you at the engagement party, he would never had set out to find her and..."

"Darling, you can't blame yourself for this."  Charles sat down next to her and pulled her into his arms.  "You had no idea that any of this was going to happen.  If anyone's to blame for anything, it's me.  I'm the old fool that believed her lies and brought her into our lives.  I'm the one who worked double time to force her onto everyone."

"Charles, you can't think like that."  She looked up at him and gently stroked his cheek.  "You had no idea just how low that woman would sink in her pursuit of you.  None of us did!"

"I feel like an old fool," he sighed, more than a little embarrassed by his gullibility. 

Pausing for a moment, he took in the joy and comfort he felt in having Francis' in his arms again.  It had been so long since they'd been this close...this open to one another.  Oh, how he'd missed her terribly.  No matter what had happened in his relationship with Annabelle, he knew that she would never have been able to replace Francis inside his heart.

"Darling?" he muttered hesitantly.

Francis Callison"Yes, Charles?"

"I know, now, that if it hadn't been for that blasted drug that Annabelle forced on me I would never have betrayed you."  He glanced down at his free hand that rested in his lap and fought to keep it from shaking with nervousness.  "I always loved you and I never stopped.  I only...pushed you away because I'd hurt you.  I felt so horrible for having betrayed you and..."

"Oh, I know, Charles."  She turned to face him and looked deeply into his eyes--the same eyes she looked so deeply into for nearly 24 years.

"Well, I...I just wanted to know..."  He paused as he tried to find the courage and the words.  "I wanted to know if you could ever forgive me for everything that I've done.  Francis, could you forgive me and be in love with me again as my wife?"

She eyed him intently as she hung on every word.  Could she find the strength to move past all of the hurtful things that had been said and done?  Could she find it inside herself to put the past behind them and move on into the future together?