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

 

EPISODE #147 (Monday, 9/6/04)
A Few Days Later
July 4, 1936 - Evening

THE DAVIS HOME - DOUGLAS & LORRAINE'S BEDROOM

"How do I look?" Lorraine Davis asked as she spun around in front of the floor-length mirror for her mother Edwina Blake to see.  "I hope I didn't spend too much money on this dress."

"You look wonderful, dear," Edwina smiled.  "I'm sure that once Douglas sees you in that gown, he won't even think about the price tag.  Besides, it really wasn't that expensive.  You did get it on sale."

"Oh, I know," Lorraine sighed.  "And I know that Douglas's promotion means more money, but I don't want to over do it."  She paused and looked down at her watch and sighed again.  "What's keeping him, Momma?  What's taking him so long to get home?"

"Honey, he called you from the airport as soon as his plane landed.  He'll be here in just a few minutes.  I'm sure his cab has just gotten stuck in traffic or something."

"I just miss him so much.  I know it's only been a few weeks, but it seems like forever."  Lorraine walked over to the window and looked outside in hopes of seeing her husband's taxi pulling up.  To her relief, the taxi appeared in sight at just that moment.  "Oh, Momma!  There he is!  It's him!"

Without saying another word, Lorraine hurried out of the bedroom, down the hall, and down the stairs, reaching the front door just as Douglas came through it.

"Oh, Douglas, I've missed you," she said as she flew into his arms and kissed him lovingly.  "Now, I know there's not much time left for you to get ready for the party, but you've got to tell me everything.  How did your meeting with Mr. Macalister go?  Did you get him to sign on with Callison?  Tell me everything!"

"There's...not much to tell really," Douglas muttered and walked past her to set his suitcases down by the stairs.  "The meeting went well.  He didn't sign, though, but...."

"He didn't sign?"

"Almost, but not quite."  He paused and rubbed the back of his neck, tight with tension.  "He's coming to town in a few weeks to meet Charles personally and, if everything goes well, he'll sign."  He looked up at the clock on the wall.  "Look, if we're going to make it to that party on time, I need to hurry up and get ready.  I'll...be down in a bit."

As Douglas disappeared up the stairs, Lorraine stood at the bottom and looked up at him.  Although she couldn't put her finger on it, something was odd about her husband.  He seemed different.  Something was wrong.  Suddenly, without real reason, Lorraine felt a sense of worry and dread flood over her.

THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM

"I'm so nervous," Corinne Campbell muttered as she wrung her hands together.  "Everything has to come together just perfectly."

"There's nothing for you to worry about," her husband Dr. Talbot Campbell attempted to reassure.  "You and Francis have gone to great lengths to make sure that every detail is taken care of."

"But this is the largest benefit that the auxiliary has put together."  She took a deep breath to calm herself and surveyed the room to see the guests starting to arrive.

"Your husband's right, Corinne," Francis Callison spoke up.  "We've checked and double checked all the details.  Everything's going to be fine."

"Of course you're not nervous," Corinne muttered dryly.  "You're not the one who has their reputation on the line here."

"Excuse me?  I think this is going to be a reflection of all of the members of the auxiliary."

"Francis, dear, I don't want to diminish your role in helping to put tonight together, but I'm the chairwoman of the auxiliary.  Ultimately, it's going to be me who takes the blame if anything goes wrong."

"Likewise, I'm sure you're going to be the one who'll take all the credit when things turn out perfectly."  Francis shot her "friend" a cold look.  "Look, Corinne, we all had a hand in putting tonight together.  Any success or failure should be shared by all of us."

"No surprise to me that you're so casual about all of this," Corinne muttered with disdain.

"Ladies!  Ladies!" Talbot interrupted.  "I know that tensions are running a bit high out of nervousness, but let's not forget why we're here tonight or that this entire benefit is the result of the combined efforts of every woman in the hospital auxiliary.  None of you could have done all of this alone."

"Oh, Talbot, darling, you're right," Corinne cooed and then kissed him lovingly on the cheek.  "I guess it really is my nerves talking."

"Oh, look, there's Jillian's sister Judith."  Francis motioned across the room towards the elevator that had just opened to allow Judith Linford to step out into the ballroom.

"I should have known," Corinne grumbled in disgust.  "That woman can't keep her distance for more than fifteen minutes."

"You know, Corinne, I've often thought about inviting Judith to an auxiliary meeting.  She's just the type of influential woman our organization needs."

"I don't think so, Francis."  Corinne folded her arms across her chest defensively as her jaw tightened.  "The last thing our auxiliary needs is a woman like that."

"Oh, Corinne, don't be petty," Talbot chastised and then quickly motioned Judith over to them, annoying his wife even more.  "Judith, how good to see you here tonight."

"Talbot, I wouldn't have missed tonight for the world," Judith smiled and then made a point to smirk in Corinne's general direction before turning towards Francis.  "Mrs. Callison, you've done a splendid job pulling everything together."

"It was a joint effort, Judith, dear," Francis reminded.  "Each one of us contributed to tonight's success."

"Yes, Francis, that's true," Corinne nodded, stepping forward just enough to place herself between her husband and Judith.  "But as auxiliary chairwoman, I'm the hostess of this party and...."

"Have it your way, dear," Judith smiled with false sweetness, patted Corinne on the shoulder, and then returned her attention to Talbot.  "Do I look all right?  I wasn't sure exactly how formal this affair was going to be and I was worried that I was going to be overdressed."  She held out her arms and turned in order to show off her gown.

"Judith, you look magnificent," Talbot complimented.  "You're far from overdressed.  Why, I think that you could very well be the belle of the ball."

Corinne's head snapped around and she glared at her husband before making a not-so-subtle clearing of her throat.

"Yes, dear, you wanted something?"  He was clearly oblivious to the point that she was trying to make.

"So, Judith," Corinne's full focus turned to her rival, "did you find the valet parking to be adequate?  You didn't have any problems did you?"

"No, of course not," Judith laughed.  "Why would I?"

"Well, I don't think that there were any places marked for brooms."

"You didn't have any trouble, did you?"

"Well, now," Francis spoke up, grabbing hold of Judith's arm, "if I could get you alone, I'd like to go over a few things with you about the upcoming new addition to our families."

"Of course," Judith smiled in Corinne's direction.  "Isn't it wonderful news?"

As Francis led Judith away, Corinne's blood began to boil.  How dare Judith Linford show up at her party and attempt to make a fool out of her, cozying up to Talbot like that?  Well, Corinne wasn't going to stand for it.  Judith had definitely gotten under Corinne's skin.

Which was exactly what Judith had planned on doing.

~~~~~

"Judith, you shouldn't let Corinne get to you," Francis counseled while she led her across the room.  "I know she can be rather...well...abrasive, but...."

"Corinne Campbell get to me?"  Judith let out a bemused laughed.  "That woman couldn't get to me if she tried!  She's barely worth me giving any attention to -- no more noteworthy than a buzzing fly."

Francis exhaled in relief.  "Good.  Granted, I know that her heart's in the right place as far as this benefit is concerned, but her methods can often leave much to be desired."

"Judith, you made it!" Jillian Callison exclaimed as she turned and threw open her arms so that she could hug her eldest sister.  "I'm so glad you're here."

"Me, too," Judith smiled.  "Now, when are we going to get together to plan for this new little bundle of joy that you're expecting?"  She struggled to maintain her smile, but the effort was definitely obvious to everyone present.

"Judith, are you all right?" Jillian asked with concern.

"Oh, it's nothing," Judith sighed.  "It's just that the irony isn't lost on me.  I thought I was going to be the one to have the first Stokes grandchild, but now...."

"Judith, I'm sorry."  Jillian bit her lip nervously.  "I was afraid that the news would make you upset and...."

"Nothing of the sort!  Don't you even feel the least bit bad for me.  This is happy news for all of us.  True, it does make me feel a bit melancholy, but that has nothing to do with you."

"I'm glad you feel that way, Judith," Reginald Callison spoke up, putting his arm around his wife Jillian.  "We both want this baby to be a joyous occasion for both of our families."

"Is Corinne being her typical self?" Charles Callison whispered into his wife Francis's ear as he noticed that her attention was drawn back across the room to where Talbot and Corinne were standing.

"Of course," Francis sighed.  "To hear her tell it, this benefit is all about her.  To hell with the hard work that everyone else has put into it.  And I'm not just talking about myself, either.  Each and every single one of us worked together to make tonight possible so that we could raise money for the new children's ward, but Corinne wants to make it all out to be that she did everything single-handedly -- without breaking so much as a nail."

"Forget about Corinne Campbell."  Charles kissed her tenderly on the cheek.  "I know how much work you put into this and I'm certain her husband knows, too.  Dr. Campbell is a smart man.  He's not fooled by her airs."

Hearing Corinne's name mentioned, Judith leaned in and listened carefully.

"Look, there's Douglas and Lorraine!" Reginald spoke up, pointing across the room.

"Douglas!" Charles exclaimed as he greeted him with a handshake as the couple walked over to them.  "I see you've gotten back from your trip."

"Just barely," Lorraine laughed.  "I was worried we weren't going to make it."

"So, how did the meeting with Macalister go?"  Charles led Douglas away from the group so that they could discuss business.  "Did you convince him to sign with us?"

"Not...exactly," Douglas muttered.

"What?"  Charles's jaw dropped in surprise.  "But I...your phone calls sounded more favorable.  You sounded like you had the deal all but sealed."

"I did," Douglas sighed.  "Well, I thought I did."

"What went wrong?"

"N-nothing, really."  Douglas motioned for a waiter to bring him a drink.  "Macalister just...wants to meet you in person before he makes a final decision.  It was a good meeting.  He sounds very favorable.  I think he'll sign."

"Well, that's good," Charles nodded.  "Did he say when we should expect him?"

"No, not...really."  Douglas looked away.  "But, like I said, he sounded favorable."

Meanwhile, not far away, Lorraine only half-listened to the conversation occurring between Reginald, Jillian, Francis, and Judith.  Her attention was fully focused on her husband as she tried to overhear what they were discussing.  Ever since Douglas had arrived home, she couldn't get the impression that something was wrong out of her head.  Concerned, she pulled herself away from the conversation and walked over to her husband.

"Douglas, are you all right?" she asked, drawing his attention away from Charles.

"Yes," he replied.   "Why would you think I wasn't?"

"Well, it's just that...."  Her voice trailed off, not quite sure how to express her concerns.  "You've seemed different since you got home.  It's like there's something on your mind."  She paused briefly to collect her thoughts.  "Did something happen in California?"

"Everything's fine," he muttered.  "I'm just a little...preoccupied with this deal, that's all."

"Are you sure?"  She touched him lightly on the shoulder, an expression of her concern.  "I mean, you haven't quite seemed yourself since you walked in the door."

"Honey, I've only been back for a few hours," he reminded.  "I'm just a little tired from my flight, that's all."  He stopped and quickly glanced around the room.  "Look, I see one of my department heads and I need to go talk to him about some business.  I'll catch up with you later."

And as Douglas quickly walked away, Lorraine couldn't get over her worries that something was, in fact, wrong with him.  He didn't seem himself.  Although she couldn't quite put her finger on what exactly about him worried her, it still continued to gnaw at her.

THE SUNSET HOTEL - ELEVATOR

three ding

four ding

"Oh, Paddy, I don't think I can keep my hands from shaking," Stephanie Monroe muttered as tried to hold her arms firmly down by her side.  "I don't think I've ever been this nervous in my entire life."

"Honey, you're going to be fine," Patterson Monroe smiled lovingly at his wife.

"I was think earlier how everything's just been moving so fast."  She slowly and diligently began to wring her hands together.  "We realized we were in love and got engaged and then married almost in the blink of an eye.  Are...are the next 20 years going to go by that fast, too?  I mean...twenty years from now, are we going to be watching our son study to become a doctor like his father or are we going to be planning our daughter's wedding?"

"Stephanie!" he laughed and then gently touched her arm, an attempt to get her to focus her attention on him.  "That kind of stuff is years and years away.  We don't have to worry about all of that right now."

"I know that," she muttered, slightly embarrassed for her excitement and nervousness, "but...."

"But?"

ten ding

"I remember when I was a little girl and I would lay on my bed and dream about what it would be like to be in love and to have my prince charming sweep me off my feet.  I dreamed about the big wedding and the wonderful life we'd have together."  She paused and bit her bottom lip before gazing up into her husband's eyes.  "It seems like that was all just yesterday and now...now here I am -- here we are -- so in love and married and...and...planning the rest of our lives together.  Here I am about to enter society on your arm as your wife.  My head's just...just spinning."

"Oh, darling," he sighed, turning her to face him fully, his hands lightly touching her on her shoulders.  "There's nothing for you to be nervous about.  You know these people.  These people are our friends.  You look beautiful -- just as beautiful as you did the day I saw you coming down the aisle.  I...don't think I could ever love you more than I do right now."

"Oh, Paddy."

fifteen ding

"Let's worry about tomorrow and the day after that when the time comes.  Tonight, let's just enjoy this party and celebrate what we have together."  He pulled her closer.  "Let's celebrate the wonderful lives we're all going to have together.  Let's show all of them exactly how much in love we are."

And with that, he pressed his lips against hers and they kissed long and deeply.

ballroom ding

The sound of a man trying to subtly clear his throat broke the moment between the newlyweds and they were forced to remember that they hadn't been alone on the elevator.

"Mr. and Mrs. Monroe...." the elevator conductor spoke up tentatively.  "This is your floor."

"T-thank you, sir," Patterson smiled with a blush, slightly embarrassed that, in the moment, he'd completely forgotten where he was.

The elevator doors then opened to reveal the Grand Sunset Room, lavishly decorated for the grand Fourth of July Ball.  Stephanie fought to suppress a squeal of delight and excitement, but didn't quite succeed as she took Patterson's arm and they stepped off the elevator.

~~~~~

"Well, look who's here," Lorraine muttered to Douglas, her eyes firmly locked on the happy couple as they walked from the elevator through the foyer and into the main ballroom.  "I swear, if that girl held onto Paddy any tighter she'd cut off circulation to his arm."

"Lorraine," Douglas cautioned, "please don't.  They're coming over here.  I know that you and Stephanie have had your differences, but you and Patterson are still friends.  You should at least make an attempt to get along with her if only for his sake."

"I have made an attempt!  It's just that she...she's so difficult to deal with!"

"Lorraine."

"Alright, alright," she sighed with a shake of her head and then took a deep breath.  "For Paddy's sake...."  She looked towards Patterson and Stephanie again and fought the urge to chuckle.  "Douglas, I wonder if she has any idea that she's wearing...."

"Lorraine, you look beautiful," Patterson smiled as he extended his arms to hug his dear friend.  "Douglas here is a lucky man to have a wife as stunning as you are."

"Keep reminding him of that, will you?" she laughed, her eyes moving beyond Patterson towards Stephanie who was standing right behind him, shooting Lorraine an icy glare.  "Stephanie, you look lovely tonight."

"Yes, I know.  Thank you, anyway."

Patterson quickly spun his head around and shot his wife a disapproving stare to which she responded with a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders and a tilt of her head.

"Stephanie, I'm not surprised that you'd...."  Lorraine's quick replied was cut off by Douglas's firm hand on her shoulder.  After quickly revising what she was going to say, she continued with a smile, "I'm not surprised that you'd go all out to make Paddy look so good tonight.  You know how important anything dealing with the hospital is to him, considering his father and all."

"Yes, I know," Stephanie nodded with a smile.  "Now, if you'll excuse us, I'm sure my husband," a word that she definitely emphasized, "would like to go speak to Dr. Campbell."

"Paddy!  My fellow newlywed!" Reginald called out as he made his way through the quickly gathering crowd of guests.    Once he reached them, he stuck out his hand to give Patterson a hearty handshake and slap on the arm.  "I should've known that you would've gone all out for this evening."  He turned to look for Stephanie, but when he saw her all of the color drained out of his face.  "S-Stephanie, you look...look...."

"Yes?"  She leaned closer to him, waiting for him to finish his sentence -- clearly fishing for a compliment -- and batted her eyelashes.  "Well, go on, Reginald.  Don't just stand there with your mouth hanging open!"  She stepped back and held out her arms and turned slightly to the left and then to the right.  "Do you like my dress?"

"It's...it's...."  Reginald stammered awkwardly as he tried to find the right words.  Finally, he decided that the direct approach might be best and he leaned in to her so that he could whisper into her ear.  "Stephanie, perhaps I should warn you that...."

"Warn me?"  She looked up at him curiously.  "Warn me about what?"  She let out a laugh.  "Where's Jillian?  I want to show her my gown.  Did you know that we ran into one another at Lerner's while dress shopping for tonight?"

"Um...no, I...."  Reginald paused and quickly glanced around the room, hoping to catch sight of his wife.  "She's probably...probably gotten ambushed by my mother."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "Stephanie, I really think I should talk to you about...."

"That dress really is stunning," Lorraine spoke up with a smirk.  "But it looks so familiar to me for some reason."  Both Douglas and Reginald shot her a quick look of warning.  "Maybe Jillian can remind me where I've seen it before."

"Perhaps you saw it at Lerner's," Stephanie suggested.  "I mean, I remember seeing your dress while I was shopping, but I passed on it because...well...I thought it a bit too dowdy for my tastes."  She turned and began scanning the crowd for Jillian.  She was determined to show Jillian exactly how perfectly the dress looked on her with the proper alterations.

Then, at just that moment as if on cue, the crowds seemed to part as if Moses himself were parting the Red Sea, and Stephanie saw Jillian across the room chatting with both Francis and Judith.  Jillian turned towards Stephanie, took one single look, and gasped.

Stephanie took several steps backward, recoiling in horror as her face flushest the brightest shade of crimson, practically matching the ball's decorations.

Stephanie and Jillian were wearing the exact same dress!

THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - FOYER

"Are you really happy?" Janet Lamont asked as she took her husband Burt's hands into hers and looked up into his eyes.  "Do you regret eloping to Davenport?"

"Regret marrying you?"  Burt Lamont let out a bemused laugh.  "That's something I will never regret for as long as I live.  Marrying you has made me the happiest man who's ever lived."

"I just hope everyone else feels that way," she muttered, Burt's hand clasped tightly in hers, as they stood at the doorway to the main ballroom and looked at the crowd of guests.  They'd only gotten back to town a few hours earlier and had yet to announce their elopement to either of their families.

"Are you nervous about what your mother's going to say?"

"A bit, yes," she nodded.  "I know she's going to be disappointed that she's not going to get to go all out with another big wedding like she did for Jillian, but our way was better, I think."

"Well, let's go spring the news on everyone," he smiled and took her hand so that he could lead her into the room.

They quickly spotted her mother and step-father, Leticia and Fred Rutherford, and hurried over to them.

"Janet!  Burt!" Leticia exclaimed, her arms flung open to greet them.  "I know you said you were going out of town for a few days, but you could at least have given me a little more information than that!"

"I know.  I'm sorry, Mother," Janet blushed and looked towards Burt.  "But it was a secret."

"A secret?"

"I think you two have been up to something," Fred chimed in.  "Do you two have some kind of news that you'd like to share with us?"

"Well, Dr. Rutherford, as a matter of fact...."  Burt glanced over at Janet and smiled broadly, barely able to contain his excitement.  "You see, Janet and I...."

"Ladies and Gentlemen!" Talbot spoke up from the bandstand as he tapped on the microphone.  "Ladies and Gentlemen!  Doctors and nurses!  Esteemed guests!  May I have your attention please."

"We'll...we'll tell you later," Janet whispered to her mother, not wanting to have to compete with Dr. Campbell's opening speech.  Leticia could only nod in reply and confusion.

"As most of you know," Talbot began as he looked out upon the crowd of partiers, "I am Dr. Talbot Campbell, Chief of Staff of Albanyville General Hospital, and I would like to thank each and every single one of you for being here with us tonight.  Not only are we here to celebrate the birthday of our great nation, we're here to raise money for a very worthwhile cause -- our hospital's brand new children's ward."

A round of applause sprang forth from the crowd.

"Thanks to your generous contributions and attendance here tonight, I'm proud to announce that our hospital is well on its way to building that new children's ward.  In fact, we are already eighty-five percent there!"

A louder round of applause.

"And because of that, I'd would like to especially thank our hospital's very own Ladies Auxiliary because of their efforts to stage this benefit here tonight.  Without the tireless efforts of those ladies, tonight and all of those accomplishments would never have been made possible."

Yet another round of applause.

"If I should be so brazen, I would like to single out one member of the Auxiliary for special mention.  Now, I'm sure this might seem slightly biased, but we all truly owe a debt of gratitude to the Chairwoman of the Ladies Auxiliary -- my very own wife Corinne Campbell."

Talbot reached out to take Corinne's hand and motioned for her to step onto the stage to say a few words.  She feigned embarrassment, but quickly relented and joined her husband at the microphone to bask in the glory that was "her" night.

"Oh, my darling husband," Corinne smiled and kissed him on the cheek before turning her complete focus to the crowd.  "As my husband Dr. Campbell said, we have already raised eight-five percent of the total amount of money we need to begin construction on our new children's ward.  We are so close to meeting our goals that it would be a shame to end this evening without reaching them, don't you agree?"

A loud chorus of agreement responded.

"Then dig deep into those pockets, folks."  She stepped down from the stage and made her way through the crowd, making sure to single out individual wealthy and influential guests.  "You heard me!  Dig deep!  Make tonight a true success!  Do it for the children!"

"I pledge another $500!" came a voice from the back of the room.

"Me, too!  Another $500!"

"Do you hear that, folks?" Corinne called out.  "Well, I know that the children hear that!  Each and every single child in need of medical attention in this town hears that!"

"I pledge $1,000!"

"A $1,000!" she gasped with excitement.  "Can anyone top that?  Anyone?"

"I pledge $10,000," came a female voice from just to the side of the stage.

The crowd fell into a hush of shock as everyone scrambled to see exactly who had made such a grand contribution.  Then, without missing a beat, Judith Linford gracefully ascended the steps up to the stage so that she could stand by Talbot.

"In case no one heard me," Judith smirked, making sure to look down in Corinne's direction, "I said that I would pledge $10,000 -- for the children."

"Judith, I can't believe this," Talbot gasped.  He was full of admiration and respect as he looked deeply into her eyes.  "This is just...such a grand gesture."

"Oh, Talbot, it's for the children -- little babies like...like the one I lost."  She bit her lip and turned away from him in order to hide the sorrowful mist in her eyes.

Meanwhile, Corinne was livid.  How dare that witch of a woman use her foul money to make herself look better to Talbot!  How dare she step forward in a blatant attempt to steal her moment in the spotlight!  As he jaw tightened, Corinne stormed up the steps and onto the stage and spun around to face the crowd.

"Yes.  For the children!" she spoke up.  "And because this cause is a worthy one, my husband and I are also pledging $10,000 to help build the new children's ward!"

"Corinne!"  Talbot's jaw dropped in shock and he swiftly grabbed her arm tightly and pulled her to him.  "Corinne, what the devil are you doing?  We can't afford a pledge like that!"

"Oh, of course we can, silly," she laughed.  "You're the Chief of Staff, after all.  You make a good salary."

"Not $10,000-to-charity good!"  He shook his head, still completely and utterly stunned by her actions.

"And Callison Publications will match those pledges!" Charles Callison spoke up with a wave of his hand in the air.

As more and more people joined in -- all with amounts far lower than the $10,000 mark -- Corinne was off and running, working the crowd once again, as Talbot simply stood on stage, his mouth agape, quickly becoming filled with worry about how in the world he was going to scrape together $10,000 to pay off Corinne's pledge to the hospital.

THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - LADIES ROOM

"What in heaven's name are you doing in that dress?" Jillian questioned as she drug Stephanie by the arm through the doors of the ladies room.  "I thought you said that you weren't going to get it!"

"Well, I thought you said you weren't getting it, either!"  Stephanie yanked away from Jillian and folded her arms defiantly across her chest.

"I changed my mind."  Jillian was clearly fuming.  How embarrassing to be caught out at a social function in the exact same gown as someone else.  "Besides...besides...you said you weren't getting that one!"

"I did not!" Stephanie snapped.  "I said I was thinking about it and I wasn't sure.  You just assumed I wouldn't get it because you told me not to!"

"I never told you not to buy that dress!"

"Oh, you most certainly did, too!  You told me how awful and how hideous this dress would look on me.  Well, I certainly proved you wrong, now didn't I?"

Stephanie waltzed over to the vanity and began to slyly primp and preen, making sure to check out her reflection from a variety of different angles, allowing Jillian to see exactly how wonderful the dress really did look on her.

"Oh, that dress wouldn't look right on someone with a full figure like yours," Stephanie mocked with a bobble of her head.  "It's the wrong style for you."  With a fire in her eyes, she spun around on her heel to face Jillian.  "Well, now I see exactly what you were up to!"

"What I was up to?"  Jillian recoiled as her hand flew up to her chest in shock.  "Certainly you don't think that I lied to you about what I thought about that dress so that I could convince you not to buy it just because I wanted it for myself!"

"You put that rather well," Stephanie nodded in full agreement.  "That's exactly what I think!  And I wouldn't put it past you!  You've always been jealous of me."

"I've been jealous of you?"  Jillian blinked her eyes several times, completely unable to believe a single word that she was hearing.  "Now, you listen here, Steffi.  Not for one instance in my entire life have I ever been jealous of you.  After all, there's never been a reason for me to be jealous of you!  You've never had anything that I've wanted."  She slowly drew her shoulders back, taking an offensive stance.  "Now, I on the other hand have always had Reginald...."

"Oh, and we're back to that, now, are we?"

"You're the one who brought up the word 'jealous', not me!"

"Why is it that every single time something goes wrong, everyone has to bring up what I did at your engagement party?  Haven't I suffered and paid enough for everything that happened that night?"

"You sure look like you're suffering now," Jillian muttered under her breath with a roll of her eyes.

"Excuse me?  What was that, Miss High-and-mighty?"

"Look, all of that was a long time ago," Jillian sighed.  "I've moved past that.  You were a different person then.  I know Dane had a hand in all of that.  You're married to Paddy now.  I shared my wedding day with the two of you for goodness sakes!"

"How generous of you to help out the little people."  Stephanie made a mock curtsey of gratitude.  "Jillian, you're just an arrogant snot who can't over the fact that someone like me could be better than someone like you."

"Someone like..."

"I mean, I had Reginald first.  I picked my wedding day first.  I saw this dress first!"

"You had Reginald first?"  Jillian clinched her teeth together tightly and then took a deep breath.  "And he quickly dropped you like a hot potato when he fell in love with me -- an emotion he never felt for you!"

"You're always trying to copy me!" Stephanie shouted angrily.  "Next thing you know you're going to say that you're going to have a baby, too!"

Jillian froze.

"W-what did you...say?"

Stephanie stopped and took several long breaths to calm herself.  Granted, the news was not even twelve hours old for her, but she was smart enough to know that getting all worked up and upset wasn't good for her.

"Paddy and I just found out today and we haven't told anyone yet," she began slowly.  "Do you remember the day we ran into each other at Lerner's?"  She paused and caught both her and Jillian's reflections in the mirror -- in the same dress -- and rolled her eyes.  "Well, of course you remember.  Anyway, I went there straight from the hospital."

"Yes," Jillian nodded.  "You said that Todd had an earache or something."

"Exactly.  Well, I ran into Dr. Hughes and he reminded me that it was almost time for my yearly physical.  He had an appointment cancel at the last minute and I simply asked him if he could work me in while I was there.  He...called me this afternoon."

"You're...having a...baby?"  Jillian let out a slow gasp of nervous excitement as her hand flew up to her mouth.

"Now, I know it's a little sudden.  I mean, we weren't expecting to be...well...expecting so soon after the wedding.  It's all been such a whirlwind, after all, from the engagement to the wedding and now this, but...."

"This is wonderful news!" Jillian exclaimed as she flung her arms around Stephanie and hugged her tightly, taking Stephanie off guard.  "Oh, my.  This means that we can both go through all of this together."

"Go through all of what together?"

Jillian pulled away and blushed as she winced slightly, remembering Stephanie's earlier comments.

"Well...um...I...."  Now how was she going to put this in such a way as to not send Stephanie flying off the handle.  "Only our immediate families know this, so you're actually going to be the first person we're not related to that I've told, but Reginald and I are...."

"No!"  Stephanie let out a quick gasp and then a squeal.  "Not you, too!  A...a...."

"A baby!"  Jillian grabbed Stephanie's hands and pulled them close to her as she held them tightly.  "Reginald and I are going to have a baby, too!"

"Oh, my gosh!" Stephanie flung her arms around Jillian as the women began to jump around the room in excitement.  "We're both going to be mothers!"

TO BE CONTINUED

NEXT TIME

Burt and Janet have an announcement to make.

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

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions