For Now and Forever
EPISODE #127 (Tuesday,
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - BRIDE'S ROOM
"What do you mean you can't?" Jillian Stokes asked as she felt her heart began to beat faster. "Stephanie, the wedding starts in just a little bit!"
"I know. I know," Stephanie Lake muttered, trying to keep her nervousness at bay. "It's just that...well...you've been entirely too nice to me. After everything that I've done, you really shouldn't have...."
"I've already explained that!"
"I know, but this is your wedding to Reginald and I really don't belong here." Stephanie wrung her hands as her eyes darted around the room, anything to avoid Jillian's rigid stare. "I...I thought that I could do it if I just focused on Paddy and how much I love him and...."
"Then stay focused on that." Jillian rushed over to Stephanie and grabbed her firmly by the shoulders. "Keep your eyes and your heart focused firmly on Patterson and forget everything else."
"B-but how? How can I forget the animosity that's between us?"
"Was between us, Stephanie. I thought that we worked through that. I...I don't...." Jillian's voice caught in her throat. "I don't hold any ill will towards you. This is the start of a new beginning for all of us! Reginald loves me and Paddy loves you."
"I know, but...." Stephanie fidgeted in Jillian's grasp. "I just can't do this. Not today."
"Stephanie, you're going to do this today if I have to dress you myself and drag you down that aisle with me by the neck!"
"You listen to me," Jillian said firmly as she felt herself growing angry, "I will not let you or anyone ruin this wedding for me and that's that!"
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - VESTIBULE
"What's taking so long?" Dane Manchester asked as he glanced down at his watch. The wedding was due to start in just a few minutes, but there didn't seem to be any sign that everything was ready. "Can't we just get this over and done with?"
"Why do you have to be so negative?" his wife, Sara, asked as she waited patiently for everything to get under way. "You've done nothing but complain ever since we left the house."
"Don't you see anything wrong with all of this?" he asked curiously. "I mean, don't you find it very strange and suspicious that both Reginald and Jillian were so insistent in having me and Stephanie here?"
"I think you're reading too much into it. After all, Jillian explained to you that she wanted this wedding to be about letting go of the past and grabbing onto a fresh start for everyone. They both want to forget about all of the animosity between them and you and Stephanie."
"That's the biggest load of bull that I've ever heard!" he responded flatly as he shook his head in disbelief. "This wedding is all about rubbing their 'happiness' in everyone's faces. Why they had to drag Paddy into all of this, I'll never know. I thought he was their friend."
"He is their friend!" Sara let out a annoyed sigh. Why did Dane have to be so difficult? "That's a big reason that this is all happening today. You're one of Patterson's best friends and he loves Stephanie."
"For whatever insane reason that he has," Dane grumbled.
"Are you talking about Stephanie or the fact that he's friends with you?"
"You know what I mean!"
"My, my, my," Joyce Preston smiled as she walked over to where Dane and Sara were standing. "Doesn't everything look wonderful?"
"Momma, I think they've done an amazing job with the flowers," Sara commented with a nod.
"You know," Joyce grinned as she surveyed her surroundings, "I've always loved weddings."
"Doesn't surprise me," Dane muttered as he rolled his eyes. "You've had, what, three of them yourself, already?"
"Momma, you've got to overlook Dane today," Sara spoke up quickly. "He's a little...edgy because of the wedding."
"Well, weddings are a commitment ceremony," Joyce commented slyly. "Some people clearly have a problem with commitment."
Dane's jaw tightened in response to his mother-in-law words. Joyce Preston had entirely too much pull and influence on her daughter and that bothered Dane to no end.
"I think I'm going to go see Paddy again and see if he needs help with anything," Dane said coolly before turning and walking away, leaving Joyce wearing a Cheshire-cat grin and Sara oblivious to the tension between her husband and mother.
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - CHAPEL
"I wonder what's taking so long," Charles Callison muttered nervously as he checked his watch again for what seemed like the fiftieth time in the past five minutes. "This wedding should be getting started and there's no sign that it's about to."
"Maybe Jillian's just having some trouble with her dress," Francis Callison supposed as she tried to consider all logical reasons for the delay. "Maybe I need to go check on her and help...."
"You'll do no such thing," Mary Albany spoke up firmly and grabbed onto her daughter's hand. "The last thing a nervous bride needs is her future mother-in-law barging in on her wanting to know what's taking her so long to marry her son."
"I think your mother's right, honey," Charles smiled.
"Oh, I know," Francis sighed. "When you and I got married, your mother hovered over me like a vulture, making sure every little detail was perfect and to her specifications. I almost thought that she was the one getting married."
"My mother did not hover!"
"Yes, she did, Charles," Mary corrected. "You forget. I was there."
"Well, my mother's hovering skills aren't the topic today." Charles slowly rose from his seat and turned towards the back of the church. "Since I'm filling in as honorary 'father of the bride,' maybe I can get all of the girls together and get this show on the road."
As Charles quickly walked up the aisle towards the vestibule, Francis saw their daughter Maggie coming towards them from across the room.
"Maggie, come here and sit down!" Francis ordered with a stern whisper. "The wedding's going to start any minute and we all need to be in our places."
"I was just talking to Burt," Maggie explained as she slid into the pew next to her mother and grandmother. "I was trying to talk him into sitting over here with the rest of the family."
"And what did he say?"
"He said he didn't want to," Maggie sighed. "He's going to set on the other side with Janet and Jillian's family."
"Well, this has all been difficult for him," Mary commented with a nod. "Being a Callison is just going to take him some getting used to." She paused and craned her head to look around the church. "Maggie, dear, where's Stanley? I thought he was coming to the wedding with you."
"He is," Maggie grumbled, less than enthusiastic about her date. "He forgot and left his camera in the car."
"Hello," Lorraine Davis smiled as she hurriedly walked over to them with her husband, Douglas, by her side. "I'm so glad we made it."
"Lorraine, dear, I was starting to get worried." Francis quickly rose from her seat so that she could hug her friend. "What took you both so long?"
"Mikey was being fussy," Douglas explained. "He didn't want his mommy leaving him."
"It took me a bit to get him settled down," Lorraine continued, "but I finally did and now he's safe and snug at home with Mom."
"So...." Lorraine paused and subtly glanced around the chapel. "I see that we haven't missed the start of the wedding. I thought everything would be underway, by now."
"Me, too," Francis sighed, "and that has me worried." She paused and bit her lip nervously as a string of possible complications began to run through her head. "I just don't think I could bear it if something happened to derail this wedding, too."
"I'm sure nothing's going to go wrong," Douglas reassured with a comforting smile. "This wedding is going to happen and I'm certain that there's nothing that's going to stop it."
"I hope so," Francis muttered and then quickly looked to her mother for reassurance. "I really hope so."
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - CHAPEL
"I just don't understand what's holding things up," Leticia Rutherford said as she slipped into the pew next to her daughter, Judith Linford. "Jillian was almost ready before Janet and I left the room. The wedding should have started by now. We're completely behind schedule."
"Now, now, darling, just calm down," her husband, Dr. Fred Rutherford, said as he sat down next to her and patted her gently on the hand. "I'm sure it's nothing. Maybe she's having a little trouble with her veil or something and...."
"Trouble?" Leticia furrowed her brow and bit her lip. "Maybe I should go check on her. Maybe I should see if everything's all right."
"I'm sure everything's fine," he reassured with a smile. "Trust me."
"That's proving to be a huge mistake, already," Judith mumbled under her breath as she tried to avoid his gaze.
"Judith, please!" Leticia snapped. "Do you have to do this here? I know that you don't approve of our marriage, but this is supposed to be your sister's big day. Can't you just let us have a moment of peace?"
"I'll have peace once that man you married is out of our lives for good!" She folded her arms tightly across her chest and kept her eyes focused straight ahead to avoid looking at him. "Daddy must be rolling over in his grave. At least he didn't talk Jillian into have him walk her down the aisle!"
"Judith, that will be enough!" Leticia paused and took a deep breath to calm her jangled nerves. Not wanting to incite any further conflict between her husband and daughter, she decided that a change of subject was in order. "I sure wish that Helen could have made the wedding. I'm surprised that she couldn't make it. She is Jillian's best friend, after all."
"Ah, yes, Helen," Judith smiled slyly. "It's too bad that her father's took sick again and couldn't be left alone." She struggled to fight the urge to grin broadly, savoring the moment. "What a pity."
"Look, there's Janet," Burt Lamont, seated on the other side of Judith, spoke up as he turned towards the back of the church. He'd been struggling to ignore the conversation -- and Judith -- but was discovering that it was becoming easier said than done.
He caught Janet's attention and threw her a questioning glance that she responded to with a slight shake of her head. Clearly, Janet didn't know what was causing the delay, either.
"I bet it's that Lake girl," Leticia sighed. "Honestly, whatever Jillian was thinking by...."
"That's our Jillian for you," Judith muttered. "Always out to save the world and every little urchin in it."
"Well, whatever Jillian's reasons, I hope she hasn't made a mistake." Leticia glanced down at her watch again and sighed. "I just wish that I knew what was going on."
Lady J's Jazz Club
Naomi Jackson sauntered into the club and looked around the room. It was nearly empty, but she wasn't surprised considering that it was the middle of the afternoon. Her mother, Dorothea, and her brother, Calvin, had insisted on going to the wedding, but Naomi just couldn't be bothered. After all, why should she go to some overblown affair for people that she didn't know very well and was already certain that she couldn't stand?
She walked over to the bar and casually slid up onto a stool and motioned for the bartender.
"Bourbon. On the rocks."
He smiled at her and quickly poured her drink and brought it over to her. Taking her first sip, she strummed her fingers along the bar. She let out a deep breath and looked around the room again. There wasn't a person in sight and she was quickly becoming bored. What was intended to be a fun afternoon out was quickly turning out to be a total loss. However, it was still better than being stuck in that stuffy manor with only that wretched hag of a housekeeper to keep her company. She laughed when she thought about how she'd conned the old bat into watching little Aubrey for her while she went out "shopping."
"Well, I'll be!" came a voice from behind her, nearly startling Naomi off of her bar stool. "If it ain't little Naomi!"
Shocked and caught more than a little off guard, Naomi spun around in the direction of the voice. However, as soon as she realized who it was, she let out a squeal of delight.
"Tyke? Tyke Harris?"
"In the flesh, Naomi," he smiled broadly as he spread his arms wide for her. "Why don't you come here and give an old friend a big old hug."
Nearly overcome with joy, Naomi rushed into his arms a hugged him tightly. Out of everybody she thought she might possibly see that day, Tyke had definitely not been on the list.
"What the devil are you doing here?" she asked as she pulled away from him and then stared at him in disbelief. "I...never expected to see you here."
"Well, darlin', the club back in New York hit kind of a rough spell," he explained as he walked over to the bar and motioned for the bartender to fix him his own drink. "Business just dried up. And without business, there's no need for a band. Sure, me and the boys worked here and there in some of the other joints, but nothin' real steady. A man's gotta eat, ya know."
"Oh, don't I know it!" Naomi walked back to the bar and sat back down. "You'd be surprised at how well I know it."
"Now, I'm sure you're not interested in things like that," she laughed slyly and then took another sip of her drink. "So, things got rough in New York? That still doesn't tell me how you wound up here in Albanyville. It's not exactly the center of the music world."
"That, darlin', is a story in itself."
GOOD HOPE CHURCH - CHAPEL
"I wonder what the delay is," Francis Callison sighed as she fanned herself in an attempt to brave the heat.
"I'm sure it's nothing." Mary Albany reached over and patted her daughter's hand reassuringly. "Weddings are a complicated thing to put together. Remember, when you got married, we fought with the buttons on your dress for almost an hour."
"I hope that's all it is." Francis looked down at her watch and noted the time. The wedding should have started fifteen minutes ago. Despite her mother's assertions, Francis couldn't avoid the gnawing feeling that something was going horribly wrong with her son's wedding.
"I bet it's Stephanie," Maggie Callison grumbled. "She's probably got something to do with this. Why Jillian even considered...."
"You don't think that Jillian's gotten cold feet, do you?" Douglas Davis asked curiously. "I honestly can't even think of any other reason why this wedding hasn't started yet."
"I can," Lorraine Davis muttered. "Stephanie. I knew that this was a bad idea as soon as Jillian told me about it."
"Well, as strange as it sounds, I can see Jillian's point of view."
"I can't!" She pulled her hand out of his and folded her arms tightly across her chest. "I just don't know what she was thinking. How could she do this? How could she support this? I just don't understand."
"I'm starting to get worried," Leticia sighed nervously. "What's taking so long?"
"Darling, there's nothing to worry about," Fred smiled. "I'm sure that it's just a little technical problem, nothing more."
"Look!" Judith spoke up suddenly as she pointed towards the front of the church. "There's Reginald, Trevor, and Patterson. The ceremony must be about to start."
"Thank goodness!" Leticia let out a huge sigh of relief.
"But...who's that with them?" Judith furrowed her brow as she looked intently at the fourth man standing next to Patterson.
"I think that's Dane Manchester," Burt commented. "He's a friend of Patterson's."
"But...isn't that the fellow that Reginald punched at the engagement party?" Judith rubbed her chin as she tried to remember. "What's he doing here?"
"Shhh," Leticia hushed as the first strains of music began to start. "Thank heavens! The wedding's starting."
As the delicate melody filled the church, the bridal procession began. First down the aisle was little Sally Fenton, the younger sister of one of Jillian's sorority sisters, nervously scattering her rose petals. Closely behind Sally was Todd Monroe who, despite not looking very comfortable in his tuxedo, was doing a respectable job carrying the rings. The sight of the two children in their formal dress inspired a small flurry of flashbulbs as everyone raced to capture the precious moment on film.
Next to make their trip down the aisle was Janet Stokes. Carrying a small bouquet of white lilies, she carefully stepped towards her place at the altar, pausing only long enough to smile warmly in Burt's direction. Burt returned her smile with a loving nod and then awkwardly reached down to his pocket. Yes, it was still there -- exactly where he put it. He smiled slyly as she moved passed him and towards the altar. He had big plans for later.
When Janet had nearly reached her place at the altar, Sara Manchester began her walk down the aisle. With butterflies flurrying inside her stomach, she silently prayed that everything went off as planned. She kept her eyes focused straight ahead, almost too nervous to look at anything or anyone else. When she saw her husband Dane standing at the altar, she kept her eyes locked on him, believing that the sight of him would soothe her worries. Unfortunately, Sara saw an odd and curious expression on Dane's face. Although she couldn't put her finger on exactly why, the sight of Dane made her even more anxious. Pushing the troubled thoughts out of her head, Sara continued on towards the altar.
Once Sara had taken her place next to Janet, it almost seemed as if the entire congregation heaved a huge sigh of relief. And then, right on cue, the grand bridal march began.
With the first notes of the march, everyone stood and turned towards the back of the church as Jillian made her grand entrance. Her sophisticated regal gown inspired a series of ohs and ahs as she made her walk towards the altar on the arm of her father-in-law to be, Charles Callison. She was all smiles. But then, why wouldn't she be? After all, it was the day that she'd longed for -- the day that she would marry the man of her dreams.
As she slowly walked towards the altar, she smiled lovingly at her family who beamed with pride and then turned to warmly nod in the direction of Francis, soon to be her mother-in-law. When she reached the altar, Charles guided her to Reginald's side who took her arm and smiled.
"Jillian, I love you," he said softly.
"I love you, too."
However, it wasn't over. Once he'd given Jillian over to his son, Charles turned around and hurried to make a quick dash up the aisle towards the back of the church amid a series of warm laughs. As the doors to the vestibule closed behind him, the guests erupted into the gentle buzz of anxious chatter. Moments later, the bridal march began to play again.
When the doors swung open, he appeared with Stephanie on his arm as he began to lead her on her own walk down the aisle. You see, Charles had to pull double duty as substitute 'father of the bride.' After all, it was a double wedding.
TO BE CONTINUED
With these rings, we thee wed.
For Now and Forever
©2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions