For Now and Forever
EPISODE #88 (Wednesday,
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"That's...one of the reasons I came to see you." Dr. Fred Rutherford eyed Francis Callison intently as he carefully began to formulate his words. "I must admit that this visit isn't quite a selfless as I've led you to believe. In fact, it might be considered rather self-serving."
"W-what do you mean?"
"Well....considering what happened at the party, it's pretty much common knowledge how Annabelle Lake managed to weasel herself in between you and your husband. The drugging, I mean." Of course, it was still a closely guarded secret, now known only to Fred himself, what role that he had, in fact, played in the drugging of Charles Callison.
"That she could stoop so low...could be so desperate!" Francis shook her head vigorously, still amazed by the extremity of Annabelle's actions.
"Francis, I just wanted to know how...well...." He reached out and grabbed her hand and gave it a tight squeeze. "Since you now know that your husband's betrayal wasn't completely of his own choosing, how does that affect the state of your marriage? Does knowing the truth change your feelings for him? And, if so, where does that leave me and what's been developing between us?"
Francis stared at him blankly. Those exact same questions had been bouncing around inside the back of her own head for some time. However, they had never been put in such a succinct, verbal fashion. Now faced the those questions and the requirement to answer them, she was left completely dumbfounded and utterly unsure of how she felt and of what to say.
THE DAVIS HOME - DOUGLAS & LORRAINE'S BEDROOM
"You can't get Reginald to say anything?" Lorraine Davis asked her husband as she raised her head from the needlepoint she was focusing on. "I just can't believe that he would be so secretive about all of this."
"Well, I'm just as shocked and confused," Douglas Davis nodded as he continued to review his files while he adjusted a pillow behind his back. "You know as well as I do that Reginald couldn't have killed Annabelle. Why he's refusing to say anything in his defense is just beyond me."
"It sounds almost as if..." Her voice stopped suddenly, interrupted by a horrible cough. "As if Reginald wants everyone to think he's guilty."
"It almost looks that way." Douglas looked up from his papers and over to his wife who was snuggled into bed next to him. "Are you feeling any better? It seems like you've been sick for weeks."
"Oh, I'm fine," she sighed, laying her needle point down to her side. "In fact, I feel much better than I did a few days ago. This bug just seems to want to hang around a little longer than I'd like for it to."
"Well, as long as you're doing better." He smiled at her and reached over to take her hand into his.
During the past few months, Douglas and Lorraine's marriage, which had started under less than favorable circumstances, had slowly begun to change and grow. No longer fighting the hand that life had dealt them had relieved them of quite a bit of pressure. Now, they were finally starting to relate to one another as husband and wife instead of as two friends bound by an unborn child that neither one of them had planned on. Consequently, both of them were beginning to discover that much deeper feelings were starting to take root.
"I just can't believe that in a few months, our baby will be born," Lorraine sighed as she rested her hand on her swollen stomach and felt the rumblings of the child it contained. "It still seems so incredible that we're going to be parents."
"Trust me, I know exactly what you mean." He smiled warmly at her and gently covered her hand with his, feeling the movement of their child. Suddenly, the moment was interrupted by the intrusive ring of the telephone. "Well, I guess the phones are finally working again," he grumbled in annoyance and reached over to pick up the receiver. "Hello?"
"Oh, thank heavens, Mr. Davis!" Dr. Maynard said on the other end of the line. "I just didn't think that these phones would ever be back to normal!"
"Dr. Maynard? What's...what's wrong?" Douglas sat up straight in bed and furrowed his brow as he listened intently to the doctor's voice. "My mother? Is she okay?"
"Oh, Mr. Davis, I've been trying to reach you all night." Dr. Maynard paused to take a deep breath. "I'd hoped that your sister could have gotten to you in time."
"Grace? Doctor, what are you talking about? My sister has been sound asleep in her bed for hours!"
"Douglas, honey, what is it?" Lorraine asked as she leaned over to him and strained to listen in on the phone conversation.
"I...I'm not sure," he muttered in response as he covered the receiver with his hand.
"No, Mr. Davis, your sister was here, at the hospital, just a few hours ago," Dr. Maynard continued, drawing Douglas' full attention. "I'd been trying to reach you and she just showed up. It was like...a miracle!"
"Lorraine, sweetheart, go down to Grace's room and check on her."
She nodded her response and carefully slipped out of bed and pulled on a robe before heading out into the hallway.
"Now, tell me what's so urgent?" Douglas' thoughts returned to his mother. "Why have you been trying to get in touch with us?"
"M-Mr. Davis, I'm...I'm sorry to have to tell you this...." Dr. Maynard grew oddly quiet. The silence frightened Douglas terribly.
"What? What is it?"
"Mr. Davis, I'm afraid that your mother took a turn for the worse this evening. That's why I was trying to get in touch with you."
"Just let me...get dressed and I'll be right there!" Douglas swiftly climbed out of bed and began reaching for the clothes that were draped across the back of the chair by the bed.
"Mr. Davis, there's...no need to rush." Another unnerving silence. "It's too late. I'd hoped that your sister could have reached you in time, but..."
"Too late? Doctor, what do you mean 'too late?'" A sense of dread washed over Douglas. His mother couldn't be...
"Your mother passed away about an hour ago. We did everything that we could. I'm so sorry, Mr. Davis. I had really hoped that your sister could have reached you in time."
"P-passed a-away?" A blank expression covered Douglas' face. His mother was gone. There would be no more chances for a miracle recovery from the tragic fog that had clouded her mind.
"Douglas!" Lorraine called out as she quickly came back into the bedroom. "Grace isn't in her room. Her bed looks like it's been slept in, but there's no sign of her. I checked downstairs to see if maybe she was getting some milk out of the icebox, but she's nowhere in the house and...and..."
"What, Lorraine? What?"
"You're car's gone."
"Oh, dear lord," Douglas muttered as he raked his hands through his hair.
"Mr. Davis," Dr. Maynard continued on the other end of the line, "your sister left here to get you so that you could be with your mother at the end, but...that was hours ago! She should have been there way before now. Oh, I should never have...never have let her out on the roads in this weather."
"Dr. Maynard, this isn't your fault. When my sister is determined to do something, her mind's made up. I can't even talk her out of it." Douglas sank back onto the bed and let out a heavy sigh. "T-thank you for getting in touch with us, Doctor. I'll...make arrangements for our mother as soon as I can."
As a mixture of emotions began to swirl inside him, Douglas hung up the phone and finished his climb out of bed. Hurriedly, he reached for his clothes and began to frantically dress.
"Douglas, Douglas, what's wrong?" Lorraine asked as she rushed to his side and gently put her hand onto his shoulder.
"It's...our mother. She's gone."
"O-oh! Douglas, I'm...so sorry." Although Lorraine had only gotten to meet Louise Davis a few times and her mother-in-law was not exactly in the most lucid period of her life, Lorraine had listened intently to numerous stories related to her by her husband. Through these stories, Lorraine almost felt as if she had truly known the woman during the better period of her life. Her heart broke for, not only her husband's loss, but her own, as well.
"And not only that," Douglas continued, now dressed and reaching for his coat, "but Grace somehow slipped out of the house and went to the hospital! Dr. Maynard said that she left there hours ago and was headed back here to get me! She should have been home by now!"
"Douglas, you don't think..."
"I don't know," he muttered as he shook his head, the thought of an accident in such horrible weather frightened him. To not only loose his mother but his... He shook his head again, the thoughts too tragic to acknowledge. "I just...have to find her. If she's stuck along the side of the road..."
"D-Douglas," Lorraine called out, stopping him as he prepared to race out the door. She rushed to his side and took him into her arms before kissing him lovingly, tenderly on the cheek. "Darling, be careful."
He silently nodded his agreement and then took a deep breath before venturing out in search of his sister.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"Francis, are you still in love with your husband?" Fred asked intently. "Does knowing about everything that Annabelle Lake did change everything?"
"I...I..." Francis stammered, unsure of what to say. Finally, after collecting her thoughts, she took a deep breath and spoke. "Of course I love Charles. I am always going to love him. That's something that's never going to change, with or without Annabelle's maneuverings. However..."
"Yes?" He looked at her curiously. She seemed so adamant in her love and devotion for her husband, yet there seemed to be something else there. Some other kind of hidden feelings.
"Well...I..." Her voice trailed off again as she quietly remembered the past few months of heartache she'd suffered. "I'm not sure that just knowing about her schemes can erase the hurt that those schemes caused."
"Well of course not! Even though that woman tricked him into having an affair, even though it all originally happened against his will, that doesn't change everything that's happened since! She only drugged him once! She didn't continue to drug him to make him do and say all of those hurtful things!"
"But he only did those things because he thought he was protecting me!" she snapped suddenly. "If he didn't care about me at all, he wouldn't have spent so much time and energy pushing me away! Yes, it all hurt me terribly, but he was only doing what he thought was best for me in the long run."
Fred leaned back into his seat and eyed her closely. Her impassioned defense of Charles and his behavior took him by surprise. Maybe she wasn't quite as over her troubled marriage as she once tried to lead him to believe.
"You sound almost like you've completely forgiven him for everything that he's done." Fred chose his words carefully.
"I...I'm not sure exactly what I feel in regards to the past few months," Francis confessed honestly. "The only thing that I'm sure of is that I will always love Charles. Whether that's going to be enough to repair the damage that has been done.... Well, I don't know. Maybe too much has happened for us to be able to ever go back to the way things were. Maybe it really is too late."
Fred sat on the sofa in silence and simply nodded as he listened to her emotional observations. Privately, he has heaving a huge sigh of relief that Annabelle Lake would never be able to reveal his true role in her "seduction" of Charles Callison. That was definitely one secret that she took to the grave.
SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY
Sara Manchester leaned against the window pane and watched the snow gently fall to the ground. It had only recently tapered off to mere flurries, quite a change from the veritable blizzard that had been occurring throughout most of the evening. As she watched the delicate snow, she strummed her fingers nervously on the sill and then quickly glanced at the clock on the wall. When she realized the time, she furrowed her brow with anxiety and worry. It was late---too late. Where was he?
Letting out a heavy sigh, she walked away from the window and sunk down onto the sofa before picking up a movie magazine. As she randomly flipped through the pages, she scanned the various pictures of stars like Katherine Hepburn and Clark Gable that filled the magazine. She was only half paying attention, however. Her mind was really filled with thoughts of her husband.
Dane should have been home hours earlier. Of course, he rarely spent time at home anymore. At least, not since they received the inheritance from Thornton Preston and moved into Springhill Manor. As Sara bit her lip, she realized that he still believed the silly notion that she'd been having an affair with the late Mr. Preston. Although it wasn't true, she'd never been fully able to convince him otherwise.
"Sara, are you still in here waiting for Dane?" Joyce Preston asked as she rapped lightly on the door. "I'm sure he's fine. You should go to bed."
"I can't, Momma," Sara muttered as she casually tossed the magazine aside. "What if something's happened? We don't have any idea what the roads are like. He could have been in an accident and..."
"I'm sure he's fine. Stop this senseless worrying or you're going to make yourself sick." Joyce walked over and sat down next to her on the sofa. "Besides, I really don't think Dane Manchester is worth you getting all upset and worried over."
"W-what?" Sara asked as she quickly lifted her head to eye her mother curiously. "What do you mean you don't think Dane is worth it?"
"Well, I..." Joyce paused for a moment to give herself time to put her thoughts into words. "I just mean that I don't think Dane is good enough for you. He seems so...judgmental---so unsupportive. That's just not the type of husband my little girl needs."
"Of course, Dane has his faults," Sara nodded in awkward agreement. "We all do. But, I... Well, deep down inside, Dane is an absolutely wonderful man. I don't think I could ask for a better husband."
"Oh, Sara." Joyce shook her head slightly as if in disbelief. "Are you trying to convince me of that or are you trying to convince yourself?"
"I don't know what you mean!"
"Darling, what I'm trying to say is, well, I have been out in the world a lot longer than you have and..." Joyce had to play this just right. "And, well, I know the type of man Dane is. He's jealous and spiteful and possessive and he has to have his own way, no matter what. He's a self-professed playboy out to get whatever he can and he doesn't care who he hurts. That includes you."
"You don't know a damn thing about Dane! You just showed up out of the blue a few months ago. You don't know anything about me or my husband!" Sara jumped up from her seat and rushed for the door.
"Sara, I didn't mean to upset you!" Joyce called out as she raced after her daughter. "I'm just concerned about you!"
"Well, mother dear, you can just save your concern! Now, I think I'm going upstairs to wait for my husband in our bedroom!" As Sara's jaw tightened, she stormed out of the room and up the stairs leaving Joyce alone.
Taking a deep breath, Joyce returned to her seat on the sofa and carefully tapped her chin with her finger as she thought. She'd clearly hit a nerve where Dane was concerned. Joyce quickly realized that this was an angle that needed further investigation.
DANE'S CAR - SOMEWHERE ALONG ANDERSONVILLE RD.
"D-Dane," Grace Davis stammered awkwardly as she tried to push him away, "Dane, there's a...car coming."
Dane Manchester's head immediately popped up and he peered out the windshield to see two bright headlights approaching them from the distance. With a nearly inaudible grumble, he maneuvered himself back into the driver's seat and hurriedly began to adjust his clothes.
"I...I just don't know what got into me," Grace mumbled, half to herself and half to Dane, as she also began to compose herself.
As she anxiously watched the headlights, they came to a stop along the side of the road where she's wrecked Douglas' car. Within seconds, she could see the dim figure of a man get out of the car and rush to the driver's side of the other vehicle. Clearly seeing no one inside, the man quickly walked over to Dane's car. He's identity became apparent as he drew closer.
"Oh, Dane!" Grace called out as she fumbled with the handle to the passenger side door. "It's Douglas!"
She bolted from the car and raced into her brother's waiting arms.
"Grace, what happened?" Douglas asked as he wrapped his arms around her and gently stroked her hair. "Are you all right? You're not hurt, are you?"
"N-no," she muttered as she fought to keep her teeth from chattering because of the crisp January wind. "But...your car..." She nodded in the direction of Douglas' car which was resting against a tree. "I...I wrecked your car!"
"But are you okay?" Douglas asked again.
"I...I'm fine," she sighed. "Oh, Douglas, I'm so sorry I..."
"Let's not worry about that now," he interrupted. Taking a step backwards, he lowered his head and looked at her sternly. "What the devil were you thinking going out on the road in weather like this? My god! You could have been seriously hurt...or killed!"
"I...I...had to, Douglas," Grace sobbed, nearly overcome by emotion. "I had to go to Momma! I had a dream. I...heard her calling out to me. She needed me! Oh, Douglas, she's sick. She's really bad. Dr. Maynard said that he doesn't think she'll make it through the night. I just had to get home to you so that we could be with her. I...."
"It's okay. It's okay." Douglas again took her into his arms and let out a weary sigh. "I...know all about Momma. Dr. Maynard phoned me a little while ago and told me about your visit and about her condition."
"The phones are back up?" She looked up at him curiously. "Well...we have to go! We have to get to her!"
"No, Grace, we don't," he sighed as he tried to find the words and the strength to break the horrible news to her.
"W-what do you mean, Douglas? Why...why don't we?"
"Momma's gone, dear," he finally spoke. "When Dr. Maynard called, he told me that Momma died."
"Oh...oh, no!" Even though she tried to hold back her emotions, she couldn't fight the tears that began to stream down her face. "Oh, Douglas! I...I should have gotten to you! If only I hadn't been so stupid as to slide off the road then..."
"Honey, stop worrying about 'what ifs'," He smiled as he gently wiped away her tears. "It's not going to bring her back. She's better off now. She's in a better place. She's in a place where she knows who she is and she knows who we are and she's always going to be there to watch over us."
Grace found a sense of uneasy comfort in her brother's words as she continued to cry on his shoulder. Louise Davis did know who she was now. She did remember. She remembered Grace. She had finally remembered her own daughter. As Grace sniffled and tried to choke back her tears, she realized that maybe her mother had fought her way out of her fog long enough to give Grace the one thing she'd longed for for as long as she could remember. Louise's dying gift was to finally give Grace her mother back, if only for a few brief moments.
After a few minutes of mournful silence, Douglas pulled away from her and directed his eyes to the other car that sat along the side of the road.
"So, Grace, whose car is that?"
"It's...um...Dane Manchester's," she confessed as an uneasy sense of guilt and shame swept over her. "He was...um...driving along when I slid off the road. I slid right in front of him and he swerved to miss me. That's when I hit the tree."
"Dane! Dane!" Douglas called out as he waved his hand to motion for the young man to get out of the car and join them. "Dane, come here!"
Reluctantly, Dane pushed the driver's side door open, got out of the car, and slowly made his way over to where Douglas and Grace were standing.
"Hello, Douglas," Dane spoke carefully. "I...um...stopped to help Grace after I saw her go off the road. I would have...um...brought her home but...I managed to get myself stuck in the snow, too."
"Well, at least she wasn't trapped out here all by herself," Douglas nodded with a smile as he stuck out his hand. "Dane, thank you so much for taking such good care of her. I don't know what I'd do if anything were to ever happen to her."
"Y-you're...you're welcome," Dane replied as her shook Douglas' hand and a broad smile covered his face.
"Now, it's late and it's freezing out here!" Douglas let out a small chuckle. "Let's all get home so we can get some rest. I've got to see about getting my car towed into town tomorrow and start making arraignments for the funeral. Dane, let me take you home first. I'm sure you're car will be fine here until morning."
"T-thank you, Douglas," Dane muttered.
As the threesome quickly walked back to Douglas' car, Dane glanced at Grace who replied only with a silent shake of her head. They both knew that there were things that had happened that night that were better left unsaid and never mentioned again. However, Dane couldn't help but allow a sly grin of victory to slide across his lips.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"Francis, I know that this is a difficult time for you," Fred said softly as he put his arm around her. "Finding out the truth about what Annabelle did, her brutal murder, and then your own son being arrested and accused of the crime...those are some pretty horrible things to go through all at once."
"Y-yes, they are." Francis lowered her head slightly as she began to feel weighed down by all of the turmoil.
"And I'm sure that this difficult time is going to draw you and Charles closer together." He paused for a moment as he formulated his best line of action. "However, you can't confuse support and gratitude in a time of need with true, honest feelings. There are some things that just can't be erased."
"True," Mary Albany spoke up, announcing her presence, as she strode into the room, closely followed by her housekeeper and confidante Dorothea Jackson. "But anyone with two eyes can clearly see that what exists between Charles and Francis goes much deeper than gratitude."
"M-mother!" Francis spoke up, slightly surprised with the interruption. "What...are you doing up so late?"
"Well, Dorothea and I were engaged in a very involved game of cards in my room," Mary laughed warmly. "And, as usual, she beat me again. I just don't know how she does it!"
"Skill, Miss Mary. Just pure skill." Dorothea grinned with a slight sense of superiority. "I'm sure that if you keep working at it, you'll get better and beat me someday. Maybe."
"We were just finishing up when we heard voices coming from in here." Mary took a seat in the chair by the sofa and eyed Fred carefully. "Naturally, we realized that we had company and decided that we needed to be hospitable hostesses."
"Well, with all due respect, Mrs. Albany," Fred nodded as he tried to hide his annoyance with the intrusion, "your daughter and I were engaged in a rather private conversation."
"Oh, nonsense!" Mary scowled. "You're discussing my daughter's feelings for her husband---feelings that you know nothing about!"
"On the contrary, Mrs. Albany," Fred's jaw tightened as he fought to hold back his true feelings, "Francis and I have grown rather close over these past few months. She has confided in me a lot and I think that I know quite a bit about what's going on inside her head and her heart."
"Would you both stop discussing me like I'm not even here?" Francis snapped, more than a little annoyed with the biting tension that was ever present whenever her mother and Fred were forced to be in the same room. Ever since Mary had decided that Francis and Charles truly belonged together, would be together if it weren't for Annabelle Lake's schemes, Mary hadn't wasted an opportunity to try to get under Fred's skin.
"Oh, darling, it's only because I love you and care about what happens to you," Mary responded softly as she lifted her hand to gently stroke her daughter's face.
Suddenly, the intense conversation was interrupted by the intrusion of the doorbell.
"Now who the devil could that be at this time of night?" Mary asked as she rose from her seat. "Doesn't anyone know when to visit during decent hours?" She flashed Fred and stern and biting glance.
"I'll get it, Miss Mary," Dorothea spoke up as she motioned for her employer to retake her seat. "And I'll be sure to point out the inappropriate time."
"Thank you, Dorothea."
As she opened the door, Dorothea couldn't have been prepared for what she was about to find on the other side. After seeing the identity of the unexpected visitor, she let out a sharp gasp of shock and pleasant surprise.
"N-Naomi!" Dorothea exclaimed as her daughter quickly walked into the room. "What...what are you doing here?"
"Honestly, Momma, is that any way to treat your own daughter?" Naomi Jackson questioned coolly as she stood in the middle of the foyer.
Dorothea's eyes immediately moved from her daughter's face to what she was carrying in her arms.
"This, momma dear," Naomi said firmly in annoyance as she held the bundle out so that her mother could get a better look, "is little Aubrey. I named him after Poppa. He's your grandson!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Dorothea has questions for Naomi about Aubrey.
For Now and Forever
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