For Now and Forever
EPISODE #99 (Thursday,
THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
"I'm coming!" Hannah Meadows called out at she raced down the stairs to answer the door. She was right in the middle of finishing getting ready to go to the wedding and was in no mood for interruptions. The doorbell continued to ring and she grew more annoyed. "I said I was coming!"
When she reached the door and flung it open, she was less than thrilled with the identity of the unexpected guest.
"Excuse me, ma'am," Detective Jim Fitzpatrick nodded politely as he flashed his badge. "I'd like to have a few moments of your time."
Hannah took a deep breath and clinched her teeth tightly. She was well aware of who Detective Fitzpatrick was and was certain that his impromptu visit was nothing short of a bad omen of things to come.
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - THE GROOM'S DRESSING ROOM
"I can't believe that I can't get this tie right," Reginald Callison grumbled as he stared at himself in the mirror and made a face before ripping his bowtie off in preparation to start again. "I've never had any trouble tying one of these things before!"
"You've never gotten married before, either," Trevor Callison commented as he leaned against the wall and watched his older brother closely. "You're just nervous. That's all."
"I don't know why I'm nervous," Reginald sighed. "Jillian and I have been together for a long time. I think we know each other better than anyone else in the world. I don't know what I've got to be nervous about."
"It's your wedding!" Patterson Monroe reminded as he walked up behind Reginald and checked his own hair in the mirror. "It's a big day---one that'll never happen again. Of course you're nervous."
"Well, I guess you're right." Reginald finished re-tying his tie and stood back to examine his reflection intently. It wasn't exactly the best job he'd ever done, but it would do. Taking a deep breath, he turned to look at the other two men in the room and smiled broadly. "Guys, I'm really glad that you both agreed to be part of the wedding."
"Hey, when you get asked to be your brother's best man, how can you turn it down?" Trevor asked with a laugh.
"I just feel honored that you wanted to include me as a groomsman," Patterson smiled.
"Well, Paddy, you mean a lot to my family, and to me, for that matter." Reginald reached out and grabbed both of them by the shoulders. "You're my best friend. How could I not include you?" He paused and smiled slyly. "I just expect you to return the favor when it's your turn."
"I...um..." Patterson stammered and awkwardly looked away. "I really don't think you have anything to worry about for a while. I'm not even...well..."
"As long as it's not Stephanie," Reginald muttered and turned back to look at himself in the mirror. "You can do much better than that and I just can't see myself as part of her wedding, of all people."
Patterson blushed slightly and turned away to hide his embarrassment. True, he'd found himself having deep feelings for Reginald's ex, but they'd not even made anything that even resembled an attempt at a relationship. No, Patterson and Stephanie had only become good friends. Although Patterson wouldn't necessarily mind a romantic involvement with her, he was certain that she wasn't interested and that her feelings lay elsewhere. Well...he was fairly certain, at least.
"Knock, knock," Charles Callison laughed as he tapped lightly on the door before pushing it open and walking into the room closely followed by his wife Francis.
"Dad!" Reginald exclaimed and went over to him. Immediately seeing his mother at his father's side, he quickly noticed that they were holding hands and couldn't contain the smile that spread across his lips. "You two have no idea what a wonderful wedding present it is to see you both together and looking so happy."
"Why wouldn't we be happy?" Francis asked curiously. "Our first born child is getting married! It's a beautiful day---a day to put aside all of the troubles of the past and just enjoy the wonderful things that life has given us."
Charles turned to smile at her and nodded in agreement.
"These past few months have been difficult for all of us," he commented. "Let's make today a day of new beginnings. Let's just forget about everything bad that's happened and work towards a better tomorrow."
"You know, I like the sound of that," Trevor nodded.
"Well, son, we just wanted to come in and tell you how proud of you we are," Francis beamed as she walked over to him and kissed him lovingly on the cheek. "And to wish you luck. Of course, I'm sure you're not going to need it. Having Jillian as your bride is going to be all of the luck that you need."
"Mom, I love you," Reginald said softly and took her into his arms to hug her tightly.
"Francis, dear, we better take our seats," Charles spoke up, "it's not too long until the ceremony starts."
"Yes, darling," she smiled and again took his hand as he led her out of the room.
Alone in the hallway, Francis turned to Charles and looked at him with a mixture of apprehension and worry.
"Do you...really think that this could be the start of a better tomorrow?" she asked curiously. "Do you really think that we might be able to put to rest all of the horrible things that life has thrown at us?"
"Well..." He paused and thought deeply. "Weddings are a time of beginnings. Why can't they be a time for new beginnings, as well?"
His words brought a smile to Francis' lips and she nodded in silent agreement before following him down the long hallway to the sanctuary.
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - SANCTUARY
"Wow, this crowd is every bit as big as I thought it would be," Douglas Davis commented as he slid into the pew next to his wife and sister. "The Callison family sure doesn't do anything half-way."
"You act like you're surprised!" Lorraine Davis laughed. "What did you expect for the first Callison wedding in over twenty years?"
"True," Douglas nodded. "It must be nice to be able to afford such a big affair. It's a lot different from our wedding."
"Well, those were different circumstances," she sighed and looked down as she placed a gentle hand on her stomach, swollen with child. "Besides, we couldn't have afforded anything like this even in a normal situation."
"You know," he sighed and reached over to take Lorraine's hand, "it really doesn't matter how big the wedding is. It doesn't matter if it's in a big church with lots of people and tons of flowers. What really matters is the people and the emotion involved."
Their eyes met and they both smiled. So much had changed between them since they'd first said their vows. So many emotions that they'd once thought could never exist between them had unexpectedly started to grow and flourish. True, they weren't yet at a point where it could be said that they had a real marriage, but they'd come so far. Neither one of them could doubt that, one day, their marriage would indeed be one based on love and not entirely on unfortunate situation.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Lorraine, Grace Davis sat completely lost in her own thoughts. Being there at the wedding had forced her to think about her own future with Trevor. However, her thoughts were troubled and dark. Oh, how she longed to one day be his bride. She'd fought her feelings for him for so long, but couldn't deny that he was the one special man she'd always dreamed off. Unfortunately, her naive and trusting nature along with her own insecurities had made her vulnerable to the wicked charms of another man. How could she have been so foolish? Although she dreamed of the day that she would be a bride, she was beginning to believe that her groom wouldn't be Trevor. He was just too good for her. He was an honest and noble man while she was weak and unworthy of his love and devotion. No, a wedding such as this with Trevor at her side would not be in her future. Of that much she was certain. How long would it be before Trevor realized the same thing?
"Grace, are you all right?" Lorraine asked softly when she noticed the dark and intense look on her face.
"I'm...fine," Grace muttered. "I'm just...thinking about how Momma won't be able to see me get married one day."
Lorraine let out a sad sigh and silently shook her head before reaching over to take Grace's hand into hers to give it a gentle, yet reassuring, squeeze. She then couldn't help but smile when she thought about how, despite their own complicated past, they'd become family. Life did, in fact, contain its own strange ironies.
Suddenly, a startling cough tore from Douglas' chest and his hand flew up to his mouth to catch it.
"Douglas, are you all right?" Lorraine asked with concern.
"J-just...a tickle in my throat," he muttered as he made several attempts to clear the tickle away.
She eyed him closely and then let out a worried sigh. "I hope you're not getting sick."
"I'm sure it's nothing."
"I just finally got over being sick." She reached over and patted him on the hand. "I guess it's your turn, now."
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - THE BRIDE'S DRESSING ROOM
"Jillian, you were absolutely right!" Helen Van Dyne exclaimed. "You look absolutely gorgeous! That dress is perfect."
"Well, being a Stokes does have its advantages," Jillian Stokes smiled as she gazed at her reflection in the large floor length mirror. "A designer friend of Mother's created this dress just for me. As soon as I saw the sketches, I knew that this was the dress that I wanted to walk down the isle in." She paused and turned to look at Helen nervously. "Do you think Reginald will like it?"
"If he doesn't I'm not sure he's in his right mind!" Helen giggled.
"I'm just so nervous," Jillian muttered as she bit her lip and glanced at herself again. "I know I'm being foolish, but...well...I've waited for this day for so long. I just...want it to be perfect."
"It will be." Helen walked up behind Jillian and hugged her tightly. "This is going to be the most spectacular day of your entire life. I'm...a little jealous."
"Thanks," Jillian grinned and then hugged her best friend back.
"Well, I'm going to let you finished getting dressed," Helen said as she slowly walked towards the door. "If you need anything, I'm just down the hall."
"Okay," Jillian nodded as she sat down at the dressing table to finish applying her makeup.
As Helen left, Jillian stared at her reflection in the mirror intently and smiled when she realized that she was glowing. Of course, why wouldn't she? It was the most beautiful day and she was preparing to marry the love of her life. In just a short while she'd begin a new life. Realizing the momentousness of the moment, she again felt the butterflies beginning to stir up inside her stomach. She was definitely nervous, but she knew that that was a natural feeling.
At the sound of the voice from behind her, Jillian immediately froze. It was a voice that was deeply familiar to her and one that she'd prayed not to have to hear on her wedding day.
"I can't believe that you had the nerve to come here," she said as she turned around.
"I had to," Dane Manchester muttered softly as he walked over to her. "I had to see you. I couldn't just stand by and let you make a mistake like this."
"A mistake?" She paused and took a deep breath when she realized that his visit was destined to be a less than cordial one. "The only mistake I ever made was getting involved with you."
"Now, Jillian, don't be like this," he sighed as he moved closer to her and reached out to gently stroke her cheek. After pausing to take in her appearance, he smiled. "You've never looked more beautiful. It's a shame that it's going to be wasted on a wedding to Reginald."
"Trust me," she replied smugly. "It's not going to be wasted."
"You really should have listened to me," he said softly. "I don't know how you could have ever turned your back on me. We were so in love and..."
"Wait! Stop it right there!" Jillian threw up her hands in an attempt to push him away. "You don't know the first thing about love. The entire time we were together, you were busy running around with Sara. How can you even claim to have loved me when all you did was lie to me and use me?"
"I...admit that I made mistakes," he muttered as he hung his head. "I've done a lot of things that I'm not proud of and that I wish I could take back."
"You can't erase the past," she stated firmly. "What's done is done. Besides, you're married to Sara, now. She's your wife and I'm going to be Reginald's wife. Why don't you just give up this silly obsession of yours and move on? I thought that's what you said that you wanted? I thought that you told me that you'd put what we had in the past."
"I...I did," he replied and then lifted his head to look at her with his soulful eyes. "But...well...today being what it is, it brought it all back to me---all of the feelings and all of the dreams that I had for us."
"You mean all of the plans that you had for yourself!" she snapped angrily.
"Don't do this, Jillian," Dane begged as he reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Don't marry Reginald. This is a mistake! I still love you!"
"If that's really true, then let me go and let me be happy. I'm happy with Reginald. I love Reginald. Just move on with your life."
"You're not an easy woman to get over, Jillian," he whispered softly as he pulled her into his arms. She felt his warm breath on her neck as his body pressed against hers.
"Get away from me, Dane!" she shouted and pushed him away. "Get away from me and get out of my life! I've managed to avoid you for months and I'm in no mood to have to put up with you today!"
"How can you marry him? How can you marry that...that murderer? Surely you know that he's guilty as sin!"
"Reginald is innocent!" Jillian snapped. "True, I don't know exactly what's going on, but I know in my heart that he's completely incapable of such a horrible thing." She paused and eyed Dane curiously. "Besides, why do you care about Annabelle's murder? You couldn't even stand her!"
"I don't care about Annabelle's murder," Dane laughed. "Only about how it affects you. You're about to marry a killer. That's why I care."
"Get out, Dane," Jillian said firmly as her jaw tightened. "I will not let you or anyone else ruin my wedding."
"Don't do this. Don't make a mistake that you're going to regret for the rest of your life." He reached out and again touched her lightly on the cheek. "You can't marry Reginald when you know that you still carry me in your heart."
Suddenly, Dane pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately. His actions caught Jillian completely off guard and, more than a little startled and stunned, she didn't immediately resist. However, when her mind focused and she realized exactly what was happening, she swiftly stomped on his foot with her heel and pushed him away before giving him a hard slap across the face.
"Don't you ever, ever do that again!" she spat angrily. "Whatever lie of a relationship that we might have had ended a long time ago. You're nothing to me but a bad memory." She clinched her hands into fists as her eyes burned with fury. "Now get out! I will not allow you to ruin my wedding day!"
"Fine," Dane muttered as he rubbed his stinging cheek. "If that's what you really want." He started to walked towards the door, but paused and turned to face her again. "You're making a mistake and you know it. There're still doubts in your head that you've buried and thought were long forgotten. I just hope that you don't remember them after it's too late."
Without saying another word, Dane left Jillian alone with her thoughts. She slumped down into the chair in front of the vanity and fervently began to re-brush her hair. Her face was flushed and her heart was racing---her glow slightly faded. Why did he have to show up and put thoughts inside her head? Why did he have to remind her of things that were only a distant memory in her past? As she set the brush down on the dressing table, she stared at herself in the mirror and she slowly lifted her hand to rub her fingertips across her lips. After all she knew about Dane, why did he still affect her so strongly?
THE CALLISON HOME - REGINALD'S BEDROOM
"I don't know why you think you have to barge into a person's home and just rummage through things like they were yours!" Hannah said angrily as she trailed along behind Jim and Russ as they started inspecting every nook and cranny of the room.
"We're investigating a murder," Jim reminded flatly as he pulled upon the draws of Reginald's nightstand and began to sift through his personal papers. "He have to look everywhere we can to find out the answers we need."
"Well, it's just disgusting!" Hannah stood with her arms locked firmly across her chest. "These are people's lives that you're trying to destroy! How can you sleep at night?"
"Don't you think Annabelle Lake's life was destroyed?" Russ asked honestly. "That woman is dead. How well do you think her daughter is sleeping knowing that her mother's killer is still out there?"
"Honestly, I don't care about that wretched Annabelle or her trashy little daughter. Neither one of them has done anything to endear themselves to this family." She furrowed her brow as she kept her eyes trained on Jim and Russ' every movement. "As far as I see it, whatever happened to Annabelle was her own making. She's the one who set the wheels into motion and then tripped and fell right under them."
"That's a rather cold outlook on the situation, Miss Meadows," Jim spoke up and turned to eye her curiously.
"Well, that's how I feel!"
"You've been with the Callison family a long time, haven't you?" Russ asked as he walked over to Hannah.
"Ever since Reginald Callison was an infant." She paused and smiled as a warm memory flooded over her. "He is a dear, dear boy and I just refuse to believe that he could be guilty of anything so heinous as murder! That's not the boy I know!"
"Well, that remains to be seen," Jim muttered as he returned to his search. "Miss Meadows, do you have any family of your own?"
"The Callisons are my family," she confessed softly. "My...own parents died when I was only a teen and I...I never married. The Callisons are the only family that I know."
"I see." Russ eyed her curiously.
"Well! What do we have here?" Jim smiled broadly as he reached into the back of one of Reginald's dresser draws.
"You find something?" Russ questioned and then walked over to the detective.
"I think we've found exactly was we're looking for," Jim nodded as he pulled out the beautiful and elaborate scarf that they'd been searching for. "I had a suspicion that this would be something that he'd hold on to."
"But...but...that's..." Hannah's voice trailed off as she caught herself.
"T-that's a beautiful scarf," she muttered awkwardly. "Why...were you looking for that?"
"You just leave this investigation to us," Jim smiled as he slipped the scarf into an envelope and then tucked it under his arm.
"I see you've found what you were looking for," the voice of Larry Rawlings came from the doorway of the room.
"Rawlings, what the hell are you doing here?" Jim snapped as he glared at the annoying reporter angrily.
"I just wanted to make sure that you boys didn't uncover something news worthy and then conveniently 'forget' to tell me about it." Larry paused and turned to Hannah. "I knocked, but the front door was open. I hope you don't mind." Not that he really cared.
"I can't believe that you people have turned this house into a three ringed circus," Hannah muttered angrily.
"So...detective, what do you have there?" Larry asked as he caught a glimpse of the envelope that Jim was struggling to keep hidden.
"It's nothing," Jim spoke firmly in an attempt to keep Larry as much in the dark as possible.
"Now, gee, what could you possibly be looking for here?" Larry paused and rubbed his chin in exaggerated thought. "It wouldn't be that mysterious scarf that Stella Wagner saw, would it? Makes sense, after all. Stella saw the scarf on the woman who probably killed Annabelle, I saw the scarf in the possession of Reginald Callison after the murder, I told you about it just today, and now you're here looking for something that you've obviously found."
"Stay out of this, Rawlings," Russ ordered as he stood by Jim's side in an attempt to present a united front.
"It is the scarf isn't it?" Larry grinned broadly. "You know, if you don't tell me what's going on and keep your end of our deal, I'll just have to print what I think is going on. I can see the headline now! 'Incompetent Albanyville Police No Closer to Solving Murder'..."
"All right, Rawlings," Jim sighed as he hung his head in defeat. "We found the scarf. It's exactly like Stella described it and, just like you said, it was in Callison's possession."
"I thought so," Larry grinned smugly.
"The only question now is 'who is the woman that this scarf belongs to?'" Jim slowly began to pace around the room as he thought over the possibilities. He paused in front of Hannah and spoke to her directly. "Do you know whose scarf this is?"
"N-no," she stammered awkwardly and looked away. "I've...never seen it before until t-today."
As Jim questioned Hannah, Larry carefully walked around the room, surveying his surroundings. He paused for a moment at the nightstand and reached down to pick up a picture of Reginald and Jillian that was housed in an elaborate golden frame. He couldn't help but smile because of how happy they looked in the picture. The golden couple were dressed in formal attire and clearly at some lavish society event. As he examined the picture, he furrowed his brow. The setting of the picture seemed so familiar.
Larry's eyes grew wide with realization when he suddenly recognized the background---The Grand Sunset Room. It was then that he realized exactly where he'd seen the picture before---on the front page of The Daily Post. It was the same picture used for Reginald and Jillian's wedding announcement on that day's morning edition. It was also a picture that had, according to the caption that had accompanied it, been taken at the ill fated party where Annabelle Lake had died.
"Boys, I just thought of something," Larry smiled as he handed them the photograph. "This picture was taken the night of the murder. Obviously there was a photographer there. I'm sure that this couldn't be the only picture that he might have taken."
Jim took the photo from Larry and inspected it carefully. "I...think I see where you're going with this. What if...the mystery woman who wore the scarf was caught on film?"
Larry's eyes nearly danced with joy at the prospect of finally learning the woman's identity. "I see we think alike."
"Don't count on it," Russ muttered sharply.
"C'mon, Leeds, we've got a few things to check out." Jim began to walk out of the room with Russ close behind. "Miss Meadows, send our apologies to the Callison family about our intrusion and the mess."
"Hey! Where are you going?" Larry called out as he raced after them. "You're not doing anything without me!"
As Jim, Russ, and Larry raced out of the house, Hannah stood silently and surveyed the mess that was left in their wake. With a worried sigh, she realized that the joyous day might have just taken a turn for the worse.
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - THE BRIDE'S DRESSING ROOM
Jillian carefully eyed her reflection in the mirror and took a deep breath. The cloud cast upon her day by Dane's unexpected and undesired visit had begun to lift and her joyous glow was starting to return. In only just a short time, she would begin her glorious walk down the isle to her waiting future husband.
Satisfied that she had everything perfect, she rose from her seat and carefully picked her veil up from its resting place on the vanity and began to attach it to her hair with an intricate array of pins. Unfortunately, she was interrupted by a soft knocking at the door. Suddenly filled with a sense of anxiety and foreboding, she sat the veil back down and stared at the door cautiously. Was Dane back for another foolish attempt to change her mind?
"W-who is it?" Jillian asked nervously as she began to wring her hands.
"It's...your father," came the voice from the other side.
"Oh, Daddy!" she beamed as she ran to the door, flung it open, and threw herself into his arms. "I just knew you'd come! I knew that you couldn't allow yourself to miss my wedding!"
"No, I couldn't," Nelson Stokes muttered with a half smile. "I couldn't bring myself to miss my little girl's wedding." He paused for a moment and looked at her intently. "I hope...that you'll give me a few minutes."
"Of course, Daddy! Anything for you!"
Nelson took a deep breath and walked into the room. "Do you really mean that, Jillian? Would you really do anything for me?"
"O-of course I would," she replied as a sense of nervous apprehension began to set in. "What...are you talking about?"
"Don't marry Reginald," he ordered sternly. "You're making a mistake. Reginald Callison is completely wrong for you!"
"Father, if this is what you wanted to say to me, then I'm not listening to you," Jillian said firmly and threw her shoulders back to take a defiant stance. "Is this the only reason that you're here? To stop me from marrying the man that I love?"
"You're only a little girl! What the hell do you know about love?"
"Father, I'm not a little girl anymore! I'm a grown woman---a woman who's going to marry the man of her dreams."
"You're just a foolish child, Jillian," Nelson sighed with disappointment as he shook his head. "I don't understand how you can love and support this man when he's under suspicion of murder."
"Suspicion, Father---suspicion! That's all it is. Reginald didn't do it. I know in my heart that he didn't do it."
"You're a fool," he spat angrily. "This man cheated on you with that trashy Lake girl. He's lied to you and betrayed you and you expect me to dance with joy that you're going to marry him? He's only going to bring you heartache and pain. Why should I believe that he's not going to betray you again?"
"Father, that was a long time ago. Things are different now. We're completely honest with one another about everything." Well, Reginald still wasn't being extremely forthcoming about the night that Annabelle Lake was killed, but Jillian immediately pushed those thoughts out of her head. "He is as completely devoted to me as I am to him."
"I can't believe that you're going to defy my wishes!"
"My marriage to Reginald has nothing to do with you!" she countered angrily. "It is only about me and Reginald and the wonderful love that we share." She hesitated for a moment and bit her lip. "Why can't you support me in this? Why can't you just be happy that I'm happy? Don't you...love me enough for that?"
"Oh, Jillian," Nelson sighed as he pulled her into his arms. "You'll always be my little girl. I'm always going to love you. I'm always going to support you, but...I just can't support t his marriage. I cannot and I will not give my blessing for this horrible tragedy. I only wish that you'd listen to reason and change your mind."
"No, Father," she shook her head and pulled away from his embrace. "I'm sorry, but I love Reginald and nothing will keep me from marrying him. Not even you."
"I'm...sorry you feel that way," he sighed as he hung his head. "Well, good luck and...if you ever need me---if he ever, ever hurts you---I'll be there for you just like a father should. I'll never betray you like he has."
After taking a deep breath, Nelson became resigned to the inevitable and silently walked out of the room, letting the door close quietly behind him.
A solemn Jillian went back to her dressing table, sat down, and immediately reached for a lace handkerchief that was neatly folded on top. She just couldn't cry---not yet. She couldn't ruin her makeup. She still had a wedding to get through. There would be plenty of time for tears later. However, those would be tears of joy.
"Jillian, it's time," came the voice of Mark Linford from the other side of the door. "It's time to get you married."
"O-okay," she sighed with a mixture of joy and sadness. "Just give me...a few more minutes. I'll...be right there."
"I'll be waiting for you in the vestibule," he called out. "Let's hurry up and get this thing over with."
Mark was definitely not the most romantic of fellows, Jillian realized as she carefully worked to pin the long veil to her hair. She'd much rather have her father walk her down the isle, but---considering the circumstances and her father's visit---she knew that that wasn't something that was likely to happen. Mark would only be a poor substitute.
Her veil finally in place, Jillian walked towards the door, but paused in front of the floor length mirror for one last look. Everything was perfect! Taking a deep breath, she smiled and realized that, in spite of the unpleasant visits from Dane and her father, she wasn't going to allow anything to ruin her day.
"Let's go get married," she muttered to herself with a smile and turned to walk out of the room. She was ill prepared for who she found on the other side of the door. "Oh, god," she muttered with unhappy annoyance.
"I...I hope I'm not too late," Stephanie Lake said and then pushed her way into the room.
"I am not doing this! I'm not letting you destroy my wedding day!" Jillian shouted angrily.
"Just...listen to me," Stephanie pleaded. "I...I have to talk to you. There are...a few things I'd like to say. I can't let you marry Reginald."
TO BE CONTINUED
As the wedding begins, the police make a shocking discovery.
For Now and Forever
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