MANSION - FOYER
Fred Rutherford pushed the front door open and stepped into the mansion.
He clinched his fists tightly in an attempt to stop his hands from shaking and
then reached into his pocket so that he could pull out a handkerchief to blot the
perspiration from his brow.
The tension and stress of dealing with his
mysterious blackmailer was getting to him. It seemed like his every waking
moment was consumed with thoughts and worry about who this person was and
exactly what they were planning on doing with their information.
walked over to the side table and set his doctor's bag down before snapping it
open and pulling out the latest mysterious note he'd received. The note
had reminded him of the information that the blackmailer had on him as well as
explicit instructions on how to make payment in Baily Park -- a payment Fred had
just returned home from making.
As he eyed the letter nervously, he silently
prayed that the payment -- although not quite the full amount that had been
requested -- was enough to pacify his blackmailer. Fred had finally
managed to get his hands on everything he'd been working for and didn't need to
have all of his hopes and dreams go up in smoke.
"Another late night at the hospital,
doctor?" Judith Linford asked as she stood in the doorway to the living
room. She'd heard the front door open and, suspecting that it was her
step-father trying to slip into the house unobserved, had crept to the door in
hopes of catching him in the middle of something unseemly. "It's
getting to be practically a habit."
"I...um...what?" Startled by
her presence, he quickly looked at her, crumpling up the blackmailer's note into
his hands to keep it from being seen. "I had a...late shift."
"You've had quite a few of those
Judith folded her arms across her chest and
moved further into the room, keeping her eyes locked on him the entire
time. He was visibly nervous and anxious and it immediately made her
"You're looking a little green,
doctor," she commented as she eyed him up and down. "You're not
coming down with something, are you? I'm sure that being around sick
people all day long puts you at a greater risk of catching something."
"I'm surprised that you're
concerned," he replied and turned his back to her so that he could
discreetly toss the crumpled letter into his bag and snap it closed.
"How so unlike you."
"Well, I'm only thinking of Mother,
"Of course." Fred paused and
took a deep breath to steady his nerves and release tension and then turned to
face her, shoulders thrown back in a display of confidence and strength. "But I'm
the picture of health. Not a thing wrong with me. There's no need
for you to worry."
"I see," she muttered as she rubbed
her chin with her index finger. "But still...." She cocked
her head slightly and narrowed her eyes. "You seem a little nervous,
doctor. Anything wrong?"
act like you're hiding something." Judith's eyes went immediately
to his doctor's bag, still sitting on the table. "You were looking at
something when I came in -- a letter of some sort." A love letter,
"You're mistaken." Fred
picked up his bag and walked past Judith and into the living room.
"No, I don't think so." She immediately
followed behind him. He was hiding something. "You were
definitely reading something and it's made you upset."
"Judith, you've got an overactive
imagination. You can't stand the thought of me being married to your
mother and you'd like nothing better than to find some way to destroy our
"Guilty as charged," she smirked.
"Well, your desire to find something
unseemly is clearly clouding your judgment and perspective -- making you see
things that aren't really there. Give it a rest, Judith."
"I'll rest once your filthy hide is out
of our lives and thrown out into the street where it belongs." She
walked over to him and looked him right in the eye. "I'm watching
you, doctor. I'm watching you very closely. I can tell you're up to
something -- it's written all over your face -- and I'm going to find out
exactly what it is."
"You better watch your step,
Judith," Fred sneered coolly. "I'd certainly hate for you to
stumble into some kind of trouble that you wouldn't be able to get yourself out
"Is that a threat?" Her hand
flew up to her chest in an exaggerated motion, displaying mock fear.
"Are you threatening me? Your own step-daughter? Why, doctor,
how could you?"
"Not a threat," he grinned smugly.
"Just a word of advice that it might be of great benefit for you to
He stared right into Judith's eyes and she
momentarily felt a chill run through her. She couldn't put her finger on
exactly what it was, but there was something about his look, his demeanor, that
informed her that he was serious -- deadly serious. Yes, the good doctor
would like nothing better than to wring the life right out of her with his
healing hands. Judith was certain of that. Despite the clear and
obvious threat, it only strengthened her resolve to get to the bottom of things. She had to rid her family of Fred Rutherford once and for all
-- before it was too late.