For Now and Forever
EPISODE #97 (Tuesday,
THE STOKES MANSION - JILLIAN'S BEDROOM
Jillian Stokes awoke to the golden morning sun streaming in through the curtains on her bedroom window. She sat up in bed and stretched, overjoyed that the day she'd waited for for so long had finally arrived. It was her wedding day!
She climbed out of bed and strolled over the the large floor-length mirror across the room and carefully inspected herself. She smiled and quickly noticed how radiant she looked. Of course, what bride wouldn't look radiant on the morning of her wedding? She let out a small laugh and began running down her mental list of things that needed to be done...
Breakfast with the family---Check.
Going to the church to get dressed---Check.
Marry the man of her dreams---Check.
Make sure that nothing and no one would ruin her wedding day---Check.
Jillian giggled. That last thing was a little useless. She was certain that on a day as perfect as this one---her wedding day---nothing could possibly happen that could spoil her happiness.
THE CALLISON HOME - DINING ROOM
"So, are you ready for your big day?" Charles Callison asked before taking a bite of his eggs. "You're not nervous are you?"
"Nervous? Me?" Reginald Callison laughed as if the idea were completely preposterous, but then his face took on a more somber expression. "Actually... I'm terrified. What if I get up there and forget to do the 'repeat after me' part? What if I mess up and say the wrong words? Jillian would never forgive me!"
"Oh, you'll be fine," Charles smiled. "Every man is a little nervous on his wedding day. It happens to the best of us."
"So...were you nervous when you married Mom?"
"Nervous?" Charles laughed heartily. "I was petrified! You try getting married knowing that your future mother-in-law is Mary Albany and she's sitting there, right behind you, with her eyes trained on you the entire time. I just knew that she was expecting me to say something foolish."
"Was Nana really that bad?" Reginald looked as his father with a mixture of surprise and amusement.
"You don't even know the half of it! It took me forever to convince her that I was good enough for her daughter. Remember, your mother is an only child. Do you think that your grandmother was going to let her go without a fight?" Charles chuckled as he thought about the hoops and hurdles he had to jump through and over to earn Mary's approval. It had all seemed so tortuous at the time, but he'd persevered because he knew that it would all be worth it. Now, he and Francis were separated thanks to the schemes of the vile Annabelle Lake and they had an uncertain future. My how things could change over the course of a lifetime.
"I'm sorry I'm late!" Trevor Callison spoke up as he burst into the room. "For some reason, traffic is a nightmare today."
"I was wondering if you were going to make it," Reginald smiled. "It would be like you to miss the entire wedding if a good story came up."
"Hey! I'm not that bad!" Trevor replied with a grin. "Besides, I wouldn't miss this wedding for anything. Now, please tell me that you two have saved me some bacon."
"Hannah!" Charles called out. "Trevor finally made it." As he waited for the family's housekeeper to bring in his youngest son's plate, he carefully surveyed the two young men who were seated at the table with him---his sons. It seemed like only yesterday that they were young boys who we out playing in the yard and tugging on their mother's apron strings.
Their mother---his wife---Francis Callison. Charles let out a small sigh with the realization that, no matter how perfect the morning was, it was still incomplete. Because of the rift in his marriage to Francis, neither his wife nor daughter were present for the happy family breakfast. He allowed a small frown to cover his face with the knowledge that, until the family was back together, their lives wouldn't be right. He had to do everything in his power to make sure that the Callison family was once again united. As he glanced up at the empty chairs around the table, he couldn't help but think of past days and past breakfasts when the entire family was together.
"Well, I just think that this wedding is exactly what this family needs," Trevor spoke up, pulling his father out of his thoughts. "This wedding is going to be the thing that finally brings this family back together."
Charles looked at his sons and nodded as he said a silent prayer that Trevor's words would prove to be profoundly prophetic.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"I don't know why we have to get ready so early," Maggie Callison grumbled as she watched her mother and grandmother scurrying around the room getting themselves together. "The wedding's not until this afternoon!"
"But, Maggie, we have to be at the church early to make sure that everything is on schedule," Francis Callison reminded, "and before that I want us to stop by the house so that we can all go to the church as a family."
"A family?" Maggie's eyes grew wide and she looked at her mother with much interest. "You mean you and me and Nana and Reginald and Trevor and...and Daddy?"
"Yes, Maggie," Francis sighed with a smile, "and your father. This is the first wedding that our family as seen since your father and I married and we need to be there as a family for Reginald."
"Now, if you don't hurry up and finish your hair, we're going to be late," Mary Albany interrupted and glanced down at her watch as she tapped her foot.
"O-oh...okay!" Maggie beamed and ran back to her room to finish getting ready.
"Now where did I put those earrings..." Francis muttered to herself as she hurried off to her own room.
"Darling, why don't you wear my sapphires. You know, the ones your father gave me for our anniversary that year," Mary said as she followed along behind her.
"Naomi!" Dorothea Jackson called out as she quickly walked into the room and paused before the mirror so that she could adjust her hat.
"What, Mamma?" Naomi Jackson asked with obvious annoyance as she stepped into the room from the kitchen, her infant son cradled in her arms.
As Dorothea turned around to look at her daughter, her shoulders slumped when she realized that Naomi wasn't dressed for the wedding.
"If you don't hurry up and get ready, we're going to be late! Miss Mary and the girls want to go by the house and then we're going to meet them at the church."
"I'm not going to this stupid wedding," Naomi sighed. "I told you that already. I don't even know why you're going. This is just some big shot society wedding. I don't know why you think you belong there. You're just the maid."
"Naomi!" Dorothea chastised sharply. "I'll have you know that I've known Reginald Callison since he was in diapers. I will not miss my chance to see that boy get married!"
"When are you going to get this foolish idea out of your head?" Naomi asked and shook her head in disbelief. "He's your boss's grandson! He's nobody to you. Why do you think that just because you work for somebody with some social standing that that makes you important!"
"Naomi, these people are like a family to me!" Dorothea shook her head, disappointed that her daughter couldn't see how much the Callison family meant to her. "Do you remember when your father died? Why, if it hadn't been for Miss Mary, I don't know what I would have done. Do you know that that wonderful woman paid for the entire funeral?"
"No one asked her for a handout!" Naomi snapped.
"It wasn't a handout!" Dorothea's jaw tightened and she felt her temper begin to rise. "Miss Mary is more than just my boss; she's my friend. All of the Callisons are my friends!"
"You are one deluded old woman," Naomi laughed, "if you think that those people see you as anything more than their poor colored servant. I'm surprised that they don't have you running around with a kerchief on your head and singing old spirituals!"
"I'm not even going to dignify that remark with a response," Dorothea said flatly as she turned away from her daughter to hide her own embarrassment caused by daughter's statement.
"Only because you know it's true! When are you going to pull your head out of the sand and admit it? You're nothing more than a servant to those people! You always have been and you always will be. The way you fawn over them is disgusting!"
"Naomi Ruth Jackson, I've had about as much of your sass as I'm going to take for one day!" Dorothea snapped her head back around and glared at her daughter.
"I don't know why I even thought that staying here was a good idea," Naomi muttered as she shifted Aubrey in her arms so that she could reach for her coat.
"And where do you think you're going?"
"About as far away from you as I can get!" Naomi snapped and stormed out of the apartment with her son in tow.
Now alone in the room, Dorothea let out a weary sigh and sat down on the sofa. Naomi had always been a difficult child. Apparently, in adulthood, nothing had changed. She silently wondered when, and if, she would ever learn.
ALBANYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT - MAIN SQUAD ROOM
"Well, if it ain't my two favorite officers of the law!" Larry Rawlings exclaimed as he walked into the station. "Any new bits of information about the Lake murder that you'd be willing to give to the press?"
"Beat it, Rawlings," Detective Jim Fitzpatrick muttered sternly as he glanced up from the stack of paperwork on his desk at the slimy reporter. "There's no story for you here."
"Oh, but there's always a story!" Larry laughed as he walked over to the desk and sat down in an adjacent chair. "Especially when the case is as interesting as this one."
"Didn't you hear the man?" Officer Russ Leeds asked. "He said 'beat it'!"
"Ah, I see," Larry grinned slyly as he stretched his arms and leaned back in his seat. "Albanyville's finest aren't talking because they're no closer to solving this one then they were the day that woman was killed." His eyes jumped from Jim to Russ and he carefully analyzed their every reaction. "I guess that working here in this dull city has made you boys soft. You guys don't know how to really go about investigating a murder!"
"I admit that we don't have a lot of experience with murder cases," Jim replied as he kept his eyes focused on the papers on his desk, "Albanyville is a rather peaceful city, unlike Riverside where they seem to be dragging a body a week out of their side of the river."
"Well, I'm sure Albanyville has their own fair share of bodies," Larry laughed. "It's just that our boys in blue know how to find them."
"Rawlings, we have nothing to say to you!" Russ snapped.
"Okay..." Larry sighed and then paused as an idea popped into his head. "Boys, I'll make a deal with you..."
"No deals," Jim said firmly, his eyes still focused on his paperwork.
"I'll make a deal with you," Larry continued, completely ignoring the comment. "I'll leave you boys alone if you'll answer one small question for me."
"Just one question?" Jim finally popped his head up and eyed Larry curiously. He was certain that Larry was up to something, but wasn't exactly sure what it might be. "All right, Rawlings. One question and then you're outta here."
Larry smiled victoriously. He knew that he had him hooked.
"What can you boys tell me about the mystery witness?"
"Mystery witness?" Jim furrowed his brow and rubbed his chin. "And what 'mystery witness' would you be referring to?"
"Well..." Larry smiled and leaned forward in his chair until he was nearly eyeball to eyeball with Jim. "I have it on very good authority that there was a witness at The Grand Sunset Room the night of the Lake murder."
"There was a room full of witnesses," Russ spoke up, more than a little annoyed with the reporter's intrusion. "No one saw a thing! Well, more accurately, no one's saying anything if they did see anything."
"Ah! But that's where you're wrong." Larry grinned again. "I know for a fact that there was a waitress there that night that saw Reginald Callison go into the lounge."
"We already know he was in there!"
"Did you also know that this waitress saw another woman go into the lounge and come back out right before Callison went in?" Larry paused for a moment and then smiled broadly when he saw that he knew much more about the Lake murder than the police did.
"Are you trying to say that there was someone who can state for a fact that there was someone else in that room right before Callison?" Jim set his pencil down and pushed his papers aside as he leaned forward on the desk giving Larry his full attention.
"Not only did she see the woman go in..." Larry paused for effect. "But she can also identify the woman based on what she was wearing."
Jim turned to glance in Russ' direction who was standing close by, nearly dumbfounded by Larry's revelation. Perhaps the annoying reporter did know more about the Lake murder than they'd given him credit for. Maybe this was just the break that they'd needed. Unfortunately, they were also both aware that his information would come with a very high price tag.
JOSEPH HAYNE RAINEY MEMORIAL NEGRO HOSPITAL -
"I just can't deal with that woman anymore!" Naomi exclaimed as she burst into the office, her son placed precariously on her hip.
Dr. Calvin Jackson immediately looked up from the report he'd been working on and saw the intense emotions that were being displayed by his sister. Realizing that he was about to have another ringside seat for one of her tirades, he let out a heavy sigh and resigned himself to the inevitable.
"Who are you talking about?" he asked, knowing full well that the cause of Naomi's apparent frustration was their mother. "What's happened now?"
"Mamma! That's who!" she replied and moved further into the office so that she could take a seat next to Calvin's desk. "That old woman is just impossible."
"Naomi, why don't you just take a deep breath and calm down," he muttered, less than enthusiastic about listening to another one of her rants, "and tell me what happened."
"I can't believe how she just prisses around like she's somebody just because she works for Mrs. Albany. Why she has to moon over those people is beyond me. Is she so stupid that she can't see that she's only a maid?" Naomi paused and rolled her eyes. "It's just embarrassing!"
"Naomi, you know it's not like that. Mary Albany and the entire Callison family have been good to Mamma. They're not like a lot of other people."
"Oh, now don't tell me that you've bought into her fairytale, too!" She shook her head and stared at him in disbelief. "I thought that you hated it that Mamma was working for them! Didn't you just tell me in a letter a few months ago that..."
"Yes, yes, I admit that I got myself a little bent out of shape," he nodded, "but I was wrong. I thought Mamma would be better off if she were living with me and I were taking care of her. I couldn't understand her devotion to those people, but...well...Mary Albany and her family aren't like regular employers. They're friends, too."
"I can't believe my own ears!"
"Just accept that Mamma knows what she's doing and that she knows what's best."
"Oh, Mamma always thinks she knows what's best!" Naomi snapped. "She's always trying to tell me what a horrible life I've made for myself and how everything I do is a mistake!"
"Now, Naomi, you know that's not true," he sighed and hung his head. She could be so headstrong.
"Yes, it is! All I've ever wanted is her support, but the only time she'll ever support me is if I do exactly what she wants me to do, letter for letter! I'm sick of it! I'm sick of her and I'm sick of that old woman she works for!"
"Mary Albany has been very good to our family," he nodded as he tried to reason with her. "Besides, you should be grateful to Miss Mary for giving you and the baby a place to stay. She didn't have to do that, you know."
"Oh, Mamma only talked her into letting me stay there so she could watch my every move! I swear that woman is like a hawk. I can't take a breath without her hovering over my shoulder waiting to tell me that I'm doing it wrong!" Naomi's jaw tightened as she thought about her mother's constant interference. "I'm just sick of it! I'm not staying there anymore!"
"Naomi, if you don't stay with Mamma and Miss Mary, then where are you going to go?" Calvin eyed her curiously as he waited for her to explain her latest half thought out plan. "You don't have any money. You don't have a job."
"Well..." Naomi's expressions softened slightly as she stuck her bottom lip out into a pout. "You've got that extra room in your house. It would be nothing to set the crib up in the corner for little Aubrey and..."
"You want to live with me?" His eyes grew wide with shock and apprehension. He wasn't sure that kind of living arrangement would be a good idea. His sister could be quite a whirlwind and he knew that her constant presence in his home would most definitely upset his normal routine. However, she was his sister and...
"You sound like you don't want to give me a place to stay!" she snapped angrily. "I guess you think that because you're some big shot doctor now that you're too good for me, too!"
"No, Naomi, that's not it at all," he sighed with a shake of his head. "It's just that...well..."
"We're family! I wouldn't think that you'd want your own sister and her baby out on the street!"
"You don't have to be out on the street!" he reminded as he became more and more annoyed with her dramatics. "Mamma and Miss Mary have given you a perfectly nice place to stay and..."
"I told you that I'm not staying with her anymore! I'm staying with you!"
Calvin's shoulders slumped in defeat and he sunk back into his chair. There would be no winning this argument. That much was certain.
"Okay," he relented with a half-hearted nod, "I'll let you stay with me...on one condition!"
"I shoulda known that there'd be strings," she grumbled. She paused to take a deep breath and realized that she had to take what she could get. "What do I have to do?"
"Get a job," he replied flatly.
"Oh, all right," she sighed with a scowl. "I'll bring my things over tonight and I'll start looking for work tomorrow." She paused and glared at him. "Happy now?"
"Well, I guess it'll do," he muttered.
As Calvin hung his head in defeat, Naomi clutched Aubrey close to her chest. Of course, staying with Calvin and working at some silly job would only be a temporary arrangement. She couldn't let him know that, however. Once she'd set her plans into motion, she would have everything that she'd ever wanted and she wouldn't have to rely on him or their mother---and all of their interference in her life---ever again. She wouldn't need any of them.
SPRINGHILL MANOR - STEPHANIE'S BEDROOM
"Stephanie?" Sara Manchester asked tentatively as she knocked lightly on the door.
"Yes?" Stephanie Lake replied as she paused in the process of putting her things away.
"I just...wanted to see...if you were having any trouble settling in," Sara said awkwardly as she walked into the room. "Are you...finding everything you need?"
"Yes," Stephanie muttered with an equal amount of awkwardness. "I just brought in the last of my stuff and I've got all of the furniture from the apartment moved into the garage." She casually eyed the numerous suitcases that she spread throughout the room and let out a weary sigh before turning to look at her cousin. "Sara, I...I just want to thank you for...giving me a place to stay. Only until I get on my feet, of course, but..."
"Well," Sara said softly and looked away to avoid Stephanie's eyes, "you're family, no matter what's happened, and I couldn't just let you have no place to go."
"But still!" Stephanie paused and bit her lip. "After...after everything that's happened, I'm...a little surprised."
"Let's not go into that now." Sara looked away awkwardly. She was still rather conflicted as to whether allowing Stephanie to move in had been the right decision. True, she missed the closeness that they'd once shared and she felt horrible for what Stephanie was going through due to her mother's death, but had too much happened? Were there still too many hard feelings for them to even have only a passing relationship?
Stephanie stared at Sara with her own sense of uneasiness. She so wanted to be able to make up for the mistakes of her past. Of course, she'd only persevered with Dane's plans in hopes of sparing Sara the eventual heartache that she knew that a life with Dane would cause. However, Dane's own twisting of the truth had painted her as the villain---the one responsible for all of the schemes and turmoil. Would she ever be able make up for things that weren't entirely her fault?
"I...I can't believe that Dane agreed to this," Stephanie muttered and looked away. "We...don't exactly...have the best history."
"Well, Dane..." Sara hesitated and bit her lip. "Dane doesn't know you're here. I haven't...told him that I asked you to move in."
"You haven't told Dane?" Stephanie's hand flew up to her mouth which was hanging open in shock. "Sara! You have to tell him! He's going to...to have a fit! How can he not know that I'm here? Surely he heard me moving some of my things in last night."
"I...he..." Sara winced and took a deep breath. "He's a very sound sleeper." She just couldn't let Stephanie know that the real reason that her husband hadn't heard her was because he hadn't been there! In fact, he hadn't come home at all the night before---something that was still weighing heavily on Sara's mind.
Stephanie nodded, accepting Sara's lie, and looked up to eye her cousin carefully. "Do you...think that we'll ever be...close like we used to be? Do you think that we can..."
"I...I don't know," Sara muttered. "I don't know if things can ever...go back to the way they were. But...well...you're still family and I'm going to help you out---just until you can get back on your feet." She bit her lip again and nervously looked away. "Um...I really have some things to take care of. If you...need anything, just...let me or Helga know."
And then Sara quickly walked out of the room, shutting the door behind her leaving Stephanie alone in her new home.
Stephanie let out a weary sigh and flopped herself down onto her bed. So much had happened, so much had changed. As she casually glanced around her room, she thought about how uncomfortable it would be to live under the same roof as Dane and about what kind of blow up would happen when he finally learned about her new living arrangements. With a nod of her head, Stephanie decided that her time at Springhill Manor needed to be as short-lived as possible. She had to get her finances in order and get out from under Dane's roof. However, she quickly realized that she also had to avoid Dane at all costs. The last thing she needed was to have unpleasant run-ins with Dane at every turn.
Glancing down at the morning edition of The Daily Post that lay on the edge of the bed, she immediately saw one of the headlines on the front page---"Callison-Stokes Wedding Set for Today!"---and sighed deeply. It was Reginald and Jillian's wedding day---the two people that she could directly trace the source of most of her problems to. If it hadn't been for Reginald and Jillian's engagement, she would never have found herself in alliance with Dane to separate them and she would never have found herself on the receiving end of Clark and Helen's wicked schemes.
Patterson had been so insistent on her changing her outlook on life and her tactics for achieving happiness. At one time she'd thought that Reginald was the only thing that could make her happy and that using any means necessary was justifiable. Now, however....
She so wanted to make Patterson proud of her, but sometimes it could be so difficult staying on her new path. Her confrontation with Helen in which she'd had the upper hand had left Stephanie feeling powerful and in control for the first time in months. She'd reveled in that feeling, yet later felt awkward for having enjoyed the moment because that reaction seemed like something that Paddy wouldn't have appreciated. He'd been so supportive of her and he believed in her, something that no one had ever done before. She owed it to him to be on her best behavior and stick to the straight and narrow. But, yet...
Stephanie glanced down at the newspaper again and eyed the pictures of Reginald and Jillian carefully. Their wedding day. As a determined look filled her eyes, she made a slight nod of her head before standing and reaching for her coat. It was Reginald and Jillian's wedding day and there was something that she had---no, needed---to do.
TO BE CONTINUED
The Callison family comes together.
For Now and Forever
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