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

 

EPISODE #92 (Tuesday, 2/26/02)
A Week Later
February, 1936 - Afternoon

SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY

"I'm going out," Dane Manchester muttered as he grabbed his winter coat from the rack beside the door.  "I may be late so don't wait up for me."

"But, Dane!" his wife Sara Manchester protested as she quickly rose from her seat on the sofa and walked over to him.  "You just got home from class.  Can't you spend some time at home for a change?"

"I have things to do," he muttered again as he tried to ignore her.  "You can't expect me to spend all of my time just hanging around here, can you?"

"But, darling, this is our home now!  You never spend any time at home.  I'm always stuck here alone with Momma and Helga.  When are we going to spend some time together as a husband and wife?"  She grabbed onto his arm in an attempt to force him to listen to her pleadings.

"You didn't seem so concerned about that in the past!" he snapped coldly.

"D-Dane," she said softly as she tried to hold back her tears, "w-where have you been going?  Where are you spending your time when you're not spending it with me?"

He stood in silence and looked at his wife who seemed to be pleading with him for some attention.  Meanwhile, just on the other side of the doorway, Sara's mother Joyce Preston was carefully listening with much interest.  This latest argument between her daughter and son-in-law was something that could most definitely be used to her advantage.

THE STOKES MANSION - DINING ROOM

"Mr. Callison---Charles---called me again this morning," Burt Lamont mentioned casually before taking a bite out of his sandwich.  "He's just being so insistent that I change my name to 'Callison'.  I don't see what the big deal is.  Just because I found out that Landon Callison is my real father doesn't have to change who I am.  Why should it change my name?"

"I...um...don't know," Janet Stokes muttered as she stared down blankly at her plate .

It had seemed like a lovely idea at the time---a nice quite lunch together.  Now, however, she found herself feeling quite odd and out of sorts.  Janet couldn't exactly put her finger on what it was, but she felt very unusual.  Was it another strange memory, coming seemingly out of nowhere, that was tapping her in the back of her mind?  Was something trying to break free from the dark recesses of her memory?  Was that what had her so distracted?  She wasn't sure.

"And this is even harder on Randy," he continued, not realizing the conflict that was going on inside Janet's head.  "Oh, sure, he hasn't said much about it.  He won't actually talk about it to me."  Burt paused and let out a worried sigh.  "But I know it bothers him.  He'll always be my baby brother, but the idea that we aren't full brothers is something that I know he's having trouble dealing with.  I know I am."

"Of course."

"I mean, Pa's off god knows where and Ma's gone now, so...well...we're the only family we've got."  He paused awkwardly as he realized exactly what he'd said and then sighed.  "Well...I mean I'm the only family he's got.  I just found an entirely new family.  I know that has to be difficult for him, too."

"Y-yes, Janet, it's true.  But...but, it was long before I ever met you!  I-I didn't even know you existed.  Since you kept the truth about who you really were from me, I had no way of knowing that you two were sisters!"

"V-very difficult," she stammered and winced slightly, a searing pain piercing her temple.

"I just don't have any idea how Randy would react if I were to honor Uncle Charles' request and change my name."  He sighed and looked down at his plate and the half-eaten sandwich that he no longer had an appetite for.  "It would be like I was taking away the only family Randy has.  It would almost be like we weren't even brothers anymore."

"Judith, I'm surprised by how much of a recovery you've made since the last time I saw you," Dr. Talbot Campbell said as he and Judith walked into the living room, adjacent to the dinning room.  The sound of their voices drew Burt and Janet's attention away from their own conversation.

"Well, let's just say that I ran into an old friend who reminded me of how much I was missing out on," Judith Linford smiled slyly as she thought about her run-in with Joyce Scott.  "I've spent entirely too much time feeling sorry for myself.  It's time I got my life back in order."

"And like I said, there's no reason why you and Mark can't try to have another child whenever you're ready," Talbot smiled.  "Of course, there's no rush.  You have all the time in the world."

"Thank you, Dr. Campbell."  Then, out of the corner of her eye, Judith spotting Burt and Janet sitting in the dining room and suddenly became very uncomfortable.  Discussing the repercussions of the loss of her baby---the baby she had in fact shared with Burt---with the knowledge that he was listening made her quite nervous.  "Oh, I see we have company."

"Well, Judith, I have to be getting back to the hospital."  Talbot pulled on his coat and began to walk towards the foyer.  "Now remember, I still want to see you in my office for another follow-up exam."

"Yes, doctor," Judith blushed, slightly embarrassed by her doctor's devotion to her case.

After Talbot had left, Judith casually strolled into the dining room to join Janet and Burt.

"I couldn't help but overhear," Burt spoke up with a slight hesitation.  "From the sounds of it, you're getting back to your old self."

"Yes, in fact, I am," Judith replied rather curtly.  "I've begun to realize that I've missed out on a great deal of living by obsessing over...."  Her voice cracked as she tried to swallow back her emotions.  "I have to put the baby behind me."

"Well, it probably has more to do with me than with Burt.  True, he was very much involved, but I'm the one who has to carry this secret."

"What the devil are you talking about!"

"I'm talking about this baby!" 

"T-the baby," Janet muttered as her eyes began to glaze over.  The uneasy sound of her voice immediately drew both Burt and Judith's attention and they stared at her with a mixture of surprise and confusion.  "T-the baby!"

"Yes, you twit, the baby," Judith snapped.  "What else could I be talking about?"

"J-Judith..." Burt cautioned as he quickly lifted his hand to motion for her to be quiet.  "Janet, are you...all right?"

"T-the b-baby."  Janet stared blankly off into space as she gripped the edge of the table tightly in an attempt to keep her hands from shaking.  "Oh, my god!  The baby!  Your baby!"

"Well!  If this just isn't..."

"Judith, will you shut up!" Burt snapped and quickly jumped up from his seat and rushed to Janet's side.  "Janet, what's wrong?  What is it?"

"The baby!" she cried out again and then suddenly bolted from her chair and ran out of the dining room, through the living room, out through the large French doors, and out into the snow.

"Janet!" he called out as he began to race after her.

"Burt, don't," Judith said firmly as she grabbed his arm.  "Just let her go.  She's been having outbursts like this for as long as I can remember.  No one ever really knows what's going on inside that warped little mind of hers."

"But I just can't let her run out like that!"  He yanked his arm away, but stopped in his tracks, only allowing his eyes to follow in the direction which Janet had run.  "She sounded like she was upset about something.  She sounded like she...she knew!"

"Oh, don't be ridiculous!" Judith laughed.  "There's no way Janet could know about...about..."  She couldn't bring herself to say it---about our baby.  "Look, Burt, just let her get whatever this is out of her system.  Besides, this gives us a moment to be alone---a moment to talk."

Burt turned and eyed Judith curiously.  A moment to talk?  What in the world could she possibly have to say that he'd even be interested in hearing?

SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY

"Where I go and what I do is no one's business," Dane snapped as he spun around to face Sara.  "Especially yours!  After all the lies you've told me, I don't owe you anything!"

"But, Dane!" Sara cried as her eyes began to fill with tears, "I'm still your wife!  We're married.  That has to mean something!"

"It means nothing to me," he spat as his eyes began to burn with anger.  "Because apparently it meant nothing to you."

"You...don't still believe what Momma said, do you?"  She watched his expressions carefully for some clue as to what was behind his behavior.  "When she found out that we'd inherited Mr. Preston's estate---before we realized who each other really was---she...accused me of having an affair with him.  You don't still believe that?"

"Does it really matter what I believe?"  Dane paused and took a deep breath.  "Sara, you've lied to me before.  Why should I believe you now?  Why should I believe that you didn't have a relationship with Thornton Preston?"

"Because it's the truth!  Mr. Preston and I only had a working relationship."

"Ah, yes," he muttered snidely, "a working relationship that you lied about and kept hidden!  If you lied about that, why should I believe that you aren't lying about anything else?"

"But, Dane, I love you!"  Why couldn't he believe the truth?  Why did he have to automatically believe the worst?

"Frankly, I don't care!"  His jaw tightened as he quickly turned and headed for the door.  "And I will do as I damn well please.  You certainly do!"

As Dane breezed out of the library and through the foyer, Joyce ducked into a corner to remain hidden.  However, just as he reached the front door, she made her presence known.

"Dane," she spoke up tentatively, "wait."

"What is it, Joyce?" he sighed as he became resigned to the fact that he wouldn't be able to leave the house in peace.  "I'm really not in the mood to chitchat."

"Dane, I couldn't help...well, I overheard what you and Sara were talking about."

"Eavesdropping is probably a little more like it," he snapped as he turned to face her.

"Well, as loudly as you two were arguing, I think Helen Keller could have heard."  Joyce smiled slyly and laughed at the wryness of her quip.  "Actually, I've been meaning to have a word with you."

"About?"  He stood with his arms folded across his chest and glared at her.

"My daughter," she replied as she softened her voice to just above a whisper and moved closer to him.  "I want to talk to you about Sara."

Dane eyed Joyce suspiciously as he tried to figure out what she was going to say.  He could clearly tell that she was up to something, but what?

THE DAILY POST - REGINALD'S OFFICE

"Reginald, are you finally ready to tell me what really happened the night Annabelle was murdered?" Douglas Davis asked as he slowly paced around the office.  "I have to know exactly what happened if I'm going to work up any kind of case!"

"There's nothing to tell," Reginald Callison muttered softly from his seated position behind his desk.  "Besides, the police have yet to formally charge me with anything.  Until that happens, there's really no case for you to work on."

"Look, you know as well as I do that, considering everything the police know so far, it's only a matter of time."  Why did Reginald have to run verbal circles around him?  Why couldn't he just tell him what really happened?  "You were found over her body with the murder weapon in your hand!  How the hell do you think that looks?"

"I really don't have any idea, nor do I care.  There's nothing to tell.  Why can't you and my father understand that?"  Reginald strummed his fingers impatiently on the desk.  He didn't see any need in the constant meetings with Douglas that his father had arraigned.  Surely they must know that he wasn't about to say any more than he'd already said.  What was the point of forcing the issue?

"Because the police could charge you with murder!"  Douglas stopped and raked his hands through his hair in an attempt to ease his own tension.  "Don't you see how serious this really is?  For all we know, the police are merely waiting to nail down their case before they formally charge you.  In case you've forgotten, your wedding to Jillian is less than two weeks away!  Surely you don't want something like a murder charge hanging over your head!"

"I've already told you that there is nothing to tell," Reginald snapped as he jumped up from his seat and walked around to the front of his desk.  "Besides, I don't know how in the world that Annabelle Lake and what happened to her has anything to do with my wedding to Jillian."

Douglas let out a frustrated groan and buried his face in his hands.  They were going around in circles---circles clearly drawn by Reginald himself.

"It has everything to do with it!  You certainly can't expect to marry Jillian if you're charged with murder!  Surely you don't want to force Jillian to marry you inside a jail cell!"

"I don't want to force Jillian to do anything."  Reginald slumped back against his desk and let out a sigh as his demeanor began to soften.  "Look, Douglas, I've said everything that I have to say about this.  Why don't you and Father just let me handle this.  I know what I'm doing."

"Do you really?"

"Yes, I do," Reginald muttered with a nod of his head.  "And, trust me, what I'm doing is best for everyone involved.  Don't question me about it.  Just trust me."

Douglas eyed him suspiciously.  Reginald certainly sounded overly sure of himself.  What exactly was he up to?  Douglas wasn't sure, but that uncertainty made him very uncomfortable.  Although he couldn't explain it, Reginald's tone made him convinced that there was much more hanging in the balance than anyone could possibly realize.

SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER

"What in the world could I possibly have to say to you about Sara?" Dane asked as he eyed Joyce suspiciously.

"Well..."  She let a sly smile cross her lips before she moved even closer to him and touched him gently on the arm.  "I'm not blind, Dane.  Or deaf, for that matter.  I can see and hear what's going on.  I can tell that you and Sara are having problems..."

"That is none of your business!"

"Sara is my daughter and that makes it every bit my business."  Joyce softened her tone and paused for a moment to give herself time to decided on the best choice of words.  "Thornton was also my husband.  And I...I don't know if I can ever forgive Sara for what she's done."

"What do you mean?"  He looked at her with much interest.

"Now, granted, Sara didn't know who I was or who Thornton was," she looked away with fake apprehension, "but I still can't get over how she just threw herself at my husband!  I can't...forgive her for ruining my marriage and convincing Thornton to leave his entire estate to both of you.  That is an estate that should be rightfully mine!  I was his wife, not Sara."  She paused again and reached out to touch Dane tenderly on the shoulder.  "And...to see what she's doing to you breaks my heart.  It's obvious that you love my daughter very much.  But...but she doesn't deserve that love.  Oh, Dane, you deserve so much more than Sara is willing to give you.  She's such a selfish and ungrateful child!"

Dane stood in silence as he evaluated Joyce's words.  Although he found her tone and the "facts" that she delivered to be quite agreeable with his one assessments of his wife, he was still unsure about his mother-in-law's motivations.  Where was she going with this conversation?  Exactly what was she up to?

"You seem to hold a rather low opinion of your daughter," he commented as he watched her reactions closely, "especially since you seem so intent on rebuilding a relationship with her after all of these years."

"Oh, I do want a relationship with her!" Joyce exclaimed.  "I love my daughter!  That's why...I have to do everything I can to teach her a lesson.  I have to make sure that she learns that she can't just use people to get what she wants with a reckless disregard to other people's feelings."  Her eyes narrowed and her voice lowered to a whisper.  "Like how she blackmailed you into marriage..."

"She told you about that?"  Dane's eyes grew wide from shock.

"Well, not exactly," she blushed with feigned embarrassment.  "Like I said before, I have ears.  I hear things.  It didn't take much effort to piece together the details surrounding your marriage."

"And...what exactly are you proposing?  Surely you haven't cornered me just to tell me how awful you think Sara is for what she's done."  He lifted his hand to his chin and rubbed it as he thought.  "You mentioned something about teaching her a lesson?"

"Exactly," Joyce smiled.  "You see, her ill-gotten inheritance places her in a position where she believes that she has been give a great power.  Because of her scheming, she has this house and all of the money and everything that goes along with it."

"I have the exact same things, Joyce," he reminded.  "Your husband left everything to both of us!"

"Ah, yes, he did," she nodded.  "But, remember, you only have what you do because of Sara.  I'm sure that she knows that, as well."  She paused for effect.  "And I'm also sure that she isn't about to let you forget that.  In a sense, she owns you because, without her, you'd have nothing!"

"No one 'owns' me!" Dane snapped angrily.  "Especially not Sara!"

"I had assumed that that would be your attitude."  Joyce casually turned to make sure that no one was around who might overhear their conversation.  "You see, what I'm about to propose will teach Sara a very good lesson and it will ensure that you will be the one who controls her and not the other way around."

"Go on," he nodded with much interest, "I'm listening."

"If you and I work together and play our cards right, we can separate Sara from all of her ill-gotten gains.  We can take every penny of my husband's estate away from her and..."

"And where would the money go?"

"To us, of course," Joyce smiled.  "Look, the estate is rightfully mine since he was my husband.  However, I've come to appreciate you a great deal.  You're very good for my daughter.  But...well, you need to be the one in control.  You are the husband, after all."

"This all just seems highly unethical."  He stepped away from her in apprehension.  It all just sounded so unseemly.

"It's for her own good!" Joyce asserted.  "Once she's left with nothing and you have control over her share of the estate, she'll be forced to submit to your every whim.  She'll have no authority to make any decisions on her own.  Therefore, she'll have no ability to make a mockery of you.  Your marriage will once again be under your control."

"I...I don't know," Dane muttered as he thought carefully about her proposition.  The entire scheme sounded so distasteful.  However, the expected outcome definitely appealed to him.  Sara would finally be forced to take her proper place as his wife.  She would have to do as he wanted and he would have the freedom to do as he pleased.  Also, it would be a nice little payback for being forced into a marriage that he didn't want.  As he carefully weighed the pros and cons, Dane decided that he couldn't make an immediate decision.  This was most definitely something that needed careful consideration.  But, still, it all sounded so appealing....

THE STOKES MANSION - DINING ROOM

"Judith, I don't think that you have anything to say that I'd care to hear," Burt responded as he bit his lip with worry over Janet.

"But...Burt..." Judith said hesitantly, "I just...wanted to talk about...our baby."  As her eyes began to mist over with tears, she looked away as if to hide her own emotions.  "Dr. Campbell said it would help with my recovery if I were to talk about the baby with its father.  Of course, he assumed that I would discussing things with Mark, but considering the truth of the matter...."

"Oh, all right," he sighed, truly touched by her display of uncomfortable emotions.  "I...know that the past few months have been horrible for you.  I can't tell you that I can understand the pain you must feel for loosing a child that you'd carried for so long and..."

"I would expect that you would understand better than anyone!" she snapped.  "This was your baby, too!  You lost a child just as much as I lost a child---our child!  Don't you even care about that?"

"Oh course, I care," he muttered as he gently put his hands on her shoulders in an effort to calm her.  "Of course I mourn the loss of that baby.  Surely you don't think that I prayed for it to turn out like this."  He hesitated for a moment.  "But...maybe this has just worked out for the best.  Maybe this was just God's way of showing us that that baby didn't belong in this world---with us as parents."

"You think that the death of our baby was for the best?"  She recoiled in horror and outrage.  "How can you say such a thing?  How can you stand there and seemingly rejoice over the death of our baby!"

"Judith, that's not what I'm doing!"  He let out a weary sigh.  She sure could take the smallest statement and twist it around into a great wrong.  "Look, you know as well as I do that that baby would have caused no end of heartbreak...for both of us!  What kind of twisted home life would that baby have been subjected to?  All I'm trying to say is that maybe God was trying to spare the baby, and us, from a disastrous situation."

"Our baby was not a disaster!" she shouted as her face flushed with anger.  "How can you be so cold?  How can you be so unfeeling?  Even if you have nothing but disdain and contempt for me---not that I believe that, mind you---how can you display such contempt for your own child?  Our child!"

"Judith, I am not discussing this with you!" Burt snapped as he unsuccessfully tried to remain calm.  "It's clear that you can't---or won't---talk about this rationally.  You don't know how to do anything rationally!  You want to go on about how off her rocker Janet is; but, when it comes down to it, you're the one who's living in a fantasy world!  You're the one who has the problem dealing with reality!"

Overcome with mournful rage, Judith delivered a solid slap across his face.  How dare he belittle her feelings?  How dare he speak of their child and their love with such contempt?

"I'm done talking about this with you," he muttered as his hand flew up to his stinging cheek and he fought to contain his own anger.  "The woman I love is in a very emotional state right now and she needs me."

"I need you!"

"Find someone else to need!"

And with those words, Burt spun around and stormed away, leaving Judith fighting back anger and tears.  He couldn't think about that now.  He had to find Janet and make sure that she was okay.

As he stepped through the French doors and out onto the terrace, he found a shivering and sobbing Janet standing quietly in the snow.  Her emotional appearance disturbed him greatly.

"J-Janet," he spoke up tentatively.  "Janet, are you all right?"  He paused for a moment for an answer, but none came.  "Janet, darling, please come inside.  It's freezing out here.  You're going to catch your death of cold."

"D-death," Janet muttered, almost as if she were talking to herself.

"Janet, please come inside."  He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to keep her warm.

"Oh, Burt!  The baby!"  She turned around to face him as icy tears streamed down her face.

"I know that the loss of Judith's baby has been difficult for your entire family," he said softly as he tried to be as vaguely understanding as possible.  "I mean, Judith can be difficult enough under normal circumstances.  This was just a horrible tragedy.  Of course, you---as loving and sympathetic as you can be---would have the most trouble dealing with such a terrible thing."

"No, Burt!" she spoke up, her voice cracking from emotion.  "The baby!"

"Darling, what...are you trying to say?"  He searched her eyes for some clue as to what was going on inside her head.  "What about the baby?"

"Your baby!" she sobbed, clearly in deep emotional pain.  "I remember!  It was your baby!"

TO BE CONTINUED

TOMORROW

Trevor catches Dane and Grace together...

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

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions