produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #151 (Monday, 11/22/04) click here for a printable version of this episode
Same Day
July 4, 1936 - Evening


THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - TERRACE

The Grand Sunset RoomJanet Lamont"Burt, I never want this night to end," Janet Lamont sighed softly as she basked in the warmth and comfort of his arms.  "Tonight has been so wonderful.  We're married, now, and everyone knows and...."  Her voice caught in her throat.

"What is it?" Burt Lamont asked his wife with concern as he looked down at her.

"I just...."  She paused and inhaled deeply.  "I hope that we're always just as happy as we are right now.  Promise me that, will you?  Promise me that you'll always love me as much as you do tonight and that you'll never let anything come between us?"

"I promised you that the night we got married."  He turned her to face him and placed his index finger under her chin so that he could lift her face and look deeply into her eyes.  "I meant it then and I mean it now.  I'll always mean it.  Nothing can and nothing will ever separate us."

Then, at just that moment, Judith Linford appeared in the doorway of the terrace, a fire of determination blazing in her eyes.  She was on a mission and she had her target in her sights.

Burt had made a promise that he might never be able to keep.


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THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - MAIN BALLROOM

The Grand Sunset Room"Randy, are you and Maggie enjoying yourselves?" Corinne Campbell casually asked her daughter's date.  "You two have been awfully quiet."

"Yes, ma'am," Randy Lamont replied, slightly uncomfortable with making small talk with Eliza's mother.  He reached up and tugged at his collar.  "This penguin suit is a little tight, but other than that...."

"I see."  She nodded silently as she continued to watch him and then turned to her daughter.  "Eliza, would you please go and get me another glass of wine?"

"But...."

"Now, Eliza."

Eliza Campbell"Oh, alright," Eliza Campbell muttered, less than thrilled about the prospect of leaving her boyfriend alone under her mother's overly watchful eye.

Corinne and Randy stood in silence as Eliza trudged away, leaving them alone to chat.  Once Eliza was a safe distance away, her mother took a deep breath before speaking.

"You and my daughter have been dating for several months now, I believe?"

"Yes, ma'am," Randy muttered, not quite able to bring himself to look up at her.

"I take it that you two have gotten serious?"

"We're just...dating."  Randy shuffled his feet on the floor.  He'd never really talked to Eliza's mother before outside of a few passing "hellos."  He was quickly beginning to understand why.

"Well, from what my daughter says, it's serious."  Corinne lifted her head slightly and looked at him directly.  "You haven't been leading her on, have you?"

"No, ma'am!"

Corinne paused for a moment, evaluating his response and reaction.  "You're a couple of years older than Eliza.  You just graduated high school, didn't you?"

"Um...yes, ma'am," he nodded and then looked away, silently praying for Eliza to hurry back and pull him away from the interrogation.

Corinne Campbell"You must be looking forward to college in the fall."

"I'm...um...."  He swallowed hard.  "I'm not going to college."

"What?"

"I...um...really can't afford it."  He looked down at his feet.  "I mean, my brother offered to pay for it, but I...um...don't want him to use the money Mr. Callison gave him from my brother's real father."

"I see."  Corinne's eyes narrowed and she tapped her chin with her index finger.  "Then I assume that you've been working?  What kind of work do you do?"

"Well...."  Gosh, why did Eliza have to run off and leave him alone with her?  "I've been...um...helping my brother Burt around the stables and stuff."

"So you don't actually have a real job."

"I...um...."  Randy looked down at his watch.  It'd only been a few minutes, but his time with Mrs. Campbell had seemed like an eternity.  "Jobs aren't exactly easy to come by.  I mean...I mean I've looked around a bit, but I...um...haven't really found anything."

"So what you're saying is that you've just graduated from high school, you're not going to college, you don't have a job, and you honestly don't have any job prospects on your horizon?"  Corinne nodded with each statement as if she were punctuating a point.  "And you're dating my daughter?"

"Um...yes, ma'am."

"I see."  She inhaled deeply as she evaluated the information.  Then she shook her head.  No, this would most definitely not do.  "Now, look, Randy, I'm sure you're a very nice young man, but I honestly don't think that you're the type of boy my daughter should be getting serious about."

Randy Lamont"Excuse me?"  Randy felt his face flush.  Was she telling him that he wasn't good enough for Eliza?

"Let me explain myself better."  She folded her arms across her chest and all but glared at him.  "I don't think a directionless young man with absolutely no goals in life has any business being involved with my daughter.  And, whether you realize it or not, it's obvious that Eliza is very serious about you.  I don't think those kind of feelings are appropriate given the circumstances.  She's barely sixteen and you're, what, eighteen?"

"Yes, ma'am, but..."

"I'm sorry, Randy, but I don't think I can permit my daughter to continue seeing you.  I don't think it's in her best interests."

"Mother!" Eliza shouted in anger, having walked up on them in mid-conversation, hearing practically every word Corinne had said.  "How dare you say things like that to Randy!"

"Eliza, dear, I'm only looking out for you," Corinne casually commented.  "You're too young to be serious about anyone, let alone some poor farm boy with no prospects in life.  I can't in good conscience permit this relationship to continue."

Eliza stood with her mouth hanging open in disbelief.  She was mortified.  How could her mother say such things?  How could she treat Randy like that?  To say that Eliza was furious beyond all belief would have been an understatement.


THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - MAIN BALLROOM

The Grand Sunset RoomDr. Fred Rutherford hurriedly pushed his way through the crowd.  He'd recovered from his earlier shock of learning the identity of his nefarious blackmailer and, with a newfound resolve, had only one goal in mind.  Seeing the object of his pursuit, he shoved his way past a partygoer, nearly knocking them to the floor, and lunged towards Joyce Preston.  In one swift movement, he reached out and grabbed her forcibly by the arm.

"I want to talk to you," he said angrily, giving her arm a violent jerk.  "You can't just leave me hanging like this.  What do you want?  Why are you doing this?"

"Not here," Joyce said sternly, trying to maintain her composure under the eyes of those nearby who were witnessing the exchange.  "Do you want someone to see us?  Do you want someone to overhear and know what you're guilty of?"

Fred considered what she'd said and realized that she was right.  He couldn't risk anyone discovering the horrible deeds of his past.  After all, that's surely one of the reasons why Joyce had pegged him as a target of her blackmail.  Weighing his options, he came up with an idea.

"Follow me," he ordered sternly, motioning for her to follow him.

With a dignified style and grace, she nodded to those around them and casually walked with him towards the doors of the lounge.  It was deserted and hardly used and Fred knew that it would afford them just the right amount of privacy so that they could continue their little "chat."

Joyce Preston"Do we really have to continue this conversation tonight?" Joyce asked as the doors to the lounge swung closed.  The moonlight streaming in through the large windows in the back cast eerie shadows on the floor.  "You know the information I have on you -- the file that Stephen Lake had on you that you mistakenly thought had been destroyed.  I've already sent you a copy of every page in that file, so you know I'm telling you the truth."

"How did you get your hands on that file?"  It was more of an order than a question.

"Oh, come now, Doctor," she fluttered her eyelashes coyly.  "A lady has to have her secrets.  Besides, how I got it isn't really important, now, is it?  The fact is I do have it."  She paused and leveled her gaze at him.  "And if you don't do as I ask, everyone you don't want to see it will have it, too."

"This isn't just about money, is it?"  Fred felt beads of perspiration begin to dot his brow.  He had a very bad feeling about all of this.

"Well, it is partly about money," she nodded.  "You will have to pay me for my discretion."

"I don't have any money!  I'm just a poor doctor who...."

"I'm not a fool, Dr. Rutherford.  Everyone in this town knows about your marriage to the wealthy Widow Stokes.  You've done quite well for yourself -- living the good life in that big mansion.  I'm sure you're able to get your hands on several large fistfuls of money."

She was right in her assessment and he knew it.  He did have access to his wife Leticia's personal bank accounts.  He also knew that he had to play his cards carefully when dipping into that financial pool so as not to stir up too much suspicion.

"You said 'partly.'"

"Very astute of you, doctor," Joyce smiled.  "You see, it is all about money, after all -- just not all about yours."  She paused momentarily and considered the best way to detail what she required of him and exactly how much to tell him.  "My dear late husband was a very successful and noted author.  When he died, he left a rather sizable estate.  Unfortunately, thanks to my wretched and conniving daughter, he didn't leave it to me.  She lied and schemed her way into an inheritance that rightfully belongs to me and I intend on righting that wrong."

Dr. Fred Rutherford"What does that have to do with me?"  Fred eyed her suspiciously.  She was only giving him bits and pieces of her plans for him and he knew it.  "What do I have to do with your late husband's estate?"

"Nothing."  She stopped and inhaled deeply.  "Originally, I had only planned to allow you to help me continue to live in the manner to which I've grown accustomed.  However, once I finally managed to sit down and thoroughly review that file, there was a small tid-bit of information about you and my former sister-in-law that stood out to me and it got me thinking."

"Your sister-in-law?"

"Yes.  I'm sure you remember Annabelle Lake."

Fred nearly choked at the mention of Annabelle's name.  He hadn't given her much thought since her untimely murder several months before and to hear her name brought up now -- especially in this context -- made him more uneasy.

"What does Annabelle have to do with this?"

"Nothing specifically.  But because of your history with her, I have a plan for you to help me take my husband's estate back from my daughter."

"How?"

"I'll fill you in when you need to know."  Joyce smiled slyly.

"And if I refuse to help you?"

"Well, let's just say that your wife will start receiving a copy of that file, page by page.  I'm sure that it'll make for rather interesting reading -- a real page turner, if you will."  She paused.  "And don't think that this will let you off the hook as far as your own financial obligations go, either.  I'll be expecting another payment from you shortly.  I do have expenditures to take care of, you know."

The more Fred heard, the more he realized that he was in even bigger trouble than he'd originally thought.  His cushy dream-life was quickly turning into a nightmare and Joyce Preston wasn't about to let him wake up from it anytime soon.