Something is definitely not right, Rachel thought even as she continued playing dutiful new mother-in-law, handing Marley a cup of tea and indicating the silver platter of cookies on the coffee-table between them. She hasn't looked me in the eye once since she got here.
"It was lovely having you at the house for Christmas," Rachel smiled blandly, all the while attempting to zero in on a logical entry point for the subject she truly wanted to discuss. "Long overdue, I'd say. When you and Jamie got married, I thought I'd be seeing more of you, not less."
"It's complicated," Marley hedged. "Jamie is so busy right now, we've hardly had time to even talk about making future plans, much less going forward with any."
"How are things between the two of you these days?"
"We're fine," Marley insisted. "Jamie and I got married to protect Kirkland, he's the most important "
Rachel cut off Marley's rambling deflection. "Despite the show he put on at Christmas, it hasn't escaped my attention that Jamie, at least, is most definitely not fine. And based on your reaction, I can tell you've noticed it too. Now, I haven't had much luck pinning him down "
"So you decided to subtly cross-examine me?"
"I didn't realize you thought I was cross-examining you." Or, Rachel winced, that despite her best efforts, she'd proven so unsubtle about it. "It's only that you've had more access to him over the past few weeks than "
"Actually, Rachel, Jamie's been hiding from all of us, not just you."
"Hiding?" The choice of words startled Rachel. "Why would Jamie be hiding?"
Marley hesitated, obviously wrestling with something. "You really should talk to Jamie. It's not my place to "
"I'm talking to you," Rachel shot back, her patience just about gone. "You know something, so tell me. Maybe I can help."
"Jamie doesn't want your help. Or my help, for that matter. He just wants to be left alone to do things his way. He was very clear on that score." Marley placed her cup on the table with a sigh. "I've tried, Rachel. I've done all I can to be understanding and supportive, but he just keeps pushing me away."
"Straight into Grant Harrison's arms?"
For a moment, Marley seemed unsure whether to blush or blanch. Somehow she managed to do both, as well as to freeze in place while simultaneously startling so hard she rattled the table with her foot.
Not a good sign, Rachel thought.
"Why..." speaking seemed to have become very difficult for Marley. "Why would you... why would you say something like...."
"Christmas Day. In our driveway. I saw him kiss you. I saw you... not push him away."
"Grant likes to play head games," Marley insisted, her power of speech returning with a vengeance. "Everyone knows that. It's the only way he can think of to win. He's trying to divide and conquer. It's obvious."
"Is it working?" Rachel asked her point-blank.
"No! Absolutely not!"
"Does Jamie know? Is that why he's been so on edge "
"Jamie's on edge because he's been killing himself trying to keep Grant from finding out about his being committed to a mental hospital," Marley blurted without thinking, then instantly wanted to scream and stuff the words back into her mouth.
"I'm sorry," Rachel's voice was filled with so much ice it sent a shiver not just up Marley's spine, but also throughout every inch of her. "What did you just say?"
"Your grandmother stopped by this morning," Amanda afraid to do it face to face informed Kevin's back as he diligently transferred notes from his briefcase into a filing cabinet.
"To see you."
"Give or take a day." He locked the cabinet and turned to face Amanda. "What did she want?"
"Just to say Merry Christmas, I think. To remind you that she existed. And that she loves you, no matter what."
"We had a nice talk," Amanda went on. "I don't think I've had an actual conversation with Alice since I was five years old and she was engaged to marry my Dad. And it certainly wasn't anything like this."
"Why? What did you talk about?"
"You. Me. Her. Spencer..." In response to Kevin's disgusted eye-roll, Amanda offered, almost pleading, "He makes her happy. You know... the way you make me happy."
Kevin waited a moment to let the full implication sink in. And then he inquired, "Was that really information I needed?"
"I just think you should give her a chance. She loves you so much "
Kevin cut Amanda off. "While I would love to stand around all day discussing my grandmother's sex life and the apparently miraculous restorative powers of Viagra "
"Kevin!" Amanda didn't know whether to be shocked, offended or amused, so she settled for a little of all three.
" I have something I need to take care of outside the office."
"You just got back," Amanda pointed out. But he was already out the door.
"Jamie was going to poison you with this?" Cass demanded, ready to explode as he glared down at the vial of liquid stuffed inside a plastic bag that Frankie held out for his examination.
"He wasn't going to, Cecile tried to blackmail "
"Why didn't Jamie take this straight to the police? Why didn't you both?"
"He's afraid of what Cecile was blackmailing him about, getting out."
"Who the hell cares? What kind of skeleton could Jamie Frame possibly have in his closet that's worth my daughter's life? Does he understand that Cecile threatened to kill Charlie? That she has to be stopped by any means possible?"
"He gave me this file "
"It's useless," Cass raged. "Does either of you really think some out of date, foreign arrest-warrant could ever stop Cecile for good? For God's sake, Europe released the Lockerbie bomber; you think they could hold on to Cecile for any length of time? I want her in Bay City, in maximum-security prison, where I can stop by every day to test the strength of the bars myself. Tell Jamie to man up and take responsibility for his own actions instead of letting my family dangle in the line of fire!"
"I have an idea," Frankie said. "Jamie doesn't want to testify against Cecile because he doesn't think it would do any good. He didn't exactly see us together under the most coherent of circumstances. He isn't willing to jeopardize his custody of Kirkland for something that might not even work."
"I said it before and I'll say it again: Who cares? Whatever happened to his sense of family loyalty?"
Frankie speculated, "Cecile gave Jamie this vial to use. That's why I had the presence of mind to slip it into a plastic bag when he gave it to me. If her prints are on it, if we have real, hard evidence against Cecile to go with the we say/she says, maybe then Jamie would be willing to join us and testify about what she did to me."
Cass thought about it for a moment. "You're a genius," he told Frankie, "Time to play a little CSI."
Lorna struggled to keep her features perfectly normal, to not react at all when Felicia told her about Lucas, figuring that any reaction she tried to fake would be easily spotted. Better to just appear to be in shock and let her ardent mother fill in the rest.
"Say something," Felicia urged.
"I I don't know what to say," Lorna confessed the God's honest truth.
"He's dying to see you, of course. I hope you're not angry that he came to me first."
"No! No, of course not. Of course he wanted to see you first. You're his wife. Besides, it doesn't matter, first, last... he's back. I I can't believe it."
"He knows about Jenna," Felicia said softly. "That's what brought him back. He couldn't bear to let us grieve for her alone."
"Is he okay? I mean, where has he been?" Were these the appropriate questions to ask under the circumstances? Lorna had no idea what the appropriate questions were to ask when a person who'd supposedly been dead for seventeen years suddenly came back. Maybe she should check with Cass. Cass, as her mother would be happy to tell anyone, knew and could do everything. Yes, even in a moment like this, Lorna could still manage to feel bitter. She'd always been quite good at multi-tasking.
"Former associates," Felicia said. "From the bad old days. They had him kidnapped as punishment for going straight."
"Oh, that's good," Lorna blurted out without thinking, impressed by her father's cover story. Yeah, that seemed pretty plausible. "I mean, it's good that he got away," she rushed to clarify.
Thankfully, Felicia wasn't really listening. She hedged, "He had to pay a hell of a price. But that doesn't matter. He's back. Our Lucas is back."
"Does that mean you're back," Lorna wondered. "With him?"
That finally got Felicia's attention. She practically deflated in front of Lorna's eyes as she admitted, "I don't know. I don't know what I should do. Just take him back with open arms or wait "
"For what?" Lorna wondered.
"I don't know that either. But... seventeen years, Lorna. People change."
"How many years was it the last time?" she prompted.
"How old were you?" Felicia asked ironically.
"Exactly. You were apart even longer the first time, and he was still the same Luke you fell in love with. You took him back then. What's different about now?"
"Kevin!" Alice exclaimed with surprise at the sight of her grandson.
But he clearly didn't have time or the inclination for salutations. Kevin blew by her and into his grandmother's hotel room. He looked around, making sure there was no one to overhear, and then he told her, "For the last time, stay away from Spencer Harrison."
"I appreciate your concern. But I think I'm capable of "
"Thanksgiving," Kevin said. "Grant, Spencer and Carl all toasted Ryan. Do you know who Ryan Harrison was?"
"Carl's biological son, Spencer's adopted son. He told me all about him. That night, actually."
"Did he tell you what happened to him?"
"He was a policeman. He was shot. In the line of duty."
"Did Spencer tell you that? The line of duty part?"
Alice paused, thinking. "No... I guess I just assumed..."
"He was shot by his own brother. Yeah. Grant shot Ryan. Because their insane mother, Justine, had impersonated Rachel and kidnapped Kirkland. Grant killed his brother. Who also just happened to be engaged to Grant's ex-wife, Kirkland's mother." Kevin took a breath and told Alice, "For all of Spencer's prattling on about being lace-curtain Irish, these folks aren't the Kennedys. They're the Borgias."
He swore, "People who get in the Harrisons' orbit, get hurt. They get killed."
"You chose to be in their orbit," she pointed out.
"I can take care of myself. I've been doing it for a long time."
"So can I." Alice refused to back down. "And so have I."
"Damn it, Grandma," he exploded. "Haven't you had enough heartache in your life? Do you need to go out looking for more?"
"What did you call me?" Alice asked, disregarding all the rest to focus on the one thing that really mattered.
Kevin ignored her meaning. He pulled himself together and stiffly told her, "Fine. I have dossier on this family and their crimes about six inches thick, but you don't want to listen to me. That's fine. That's perfect. You think I've got an agenda or an axe to grind or... whatever. It doesn't matter. You want an impartial overview. Try Google. Type in Spencer Harrison and Extortion. Type in Spencer Harrison and Organized Crime. Then try Money Laundering. Corporate Espionage. Racketeering. And then try the names Sean Harrison and Johnny Ryan. See what you get."
"You were committed to a mental institution in San Francisco?" Despite her best efforts, Rachel couldn't keep her voice from quavering. She'd promised herself she'd be strong, calm, that she'd listen without putting any undue pressure on him. She'd failed miserably before she even closed Jamie's office door behind them.
"Was it Marley? Was she the one who told you?" Jamie ducked his mother's question with one of his own, eyes flaring a momentary fury that he proved more successful at suppressing.
"What happened, Jamie?" Rachel heard herself pleading. Another act she'd hoped to avoid. "What in the world could have happened to you that required being committed? And how could I not have known a thing about it?"
He hesitated. It must have only been for a few seconds. But in those seconds, Rachel found time to reevaluate every mistake she'd ever made with her son. If only she hadn't lied to him about Russ... If only she hadn't brought Ted into their lives... If she'd managed to keep him from Blaine, from Cecile, from drugs... If only Steve had lived... Oh, damn it, if only Steve had lived!
"I was committed," Jamie finally said. "Because that's standard procedure after a suicide attempt."
Rachel blinked at him uncomprehendingly, her body going numb. "What?" she shook her head, trying to clear her suddenly blurring vision. "What?" she asked again, her hands reaching for him as she slowly sank to sit in the chair she'd just moments ago waved off.
She struggled to pay attention to what Jamie was saying, to listen to the story she herself had begged him to finally tell. But all she could think of was that there had been a moment in her son's life where he'd lost his way so completely that he'd wanted to die, that he'd tried to kill himself, that if not for the grace of God or Providence or who knows what, her Jamie would've been lost to her forever. And she wouldn't have known why.
She wouldn't have known why.
"Why didn't you contact me?" Rachel was shaking so hard from a combination of horror and fury that every word was a chore just to force out. "If not before... before everything got so out of hand...."
"I wasn't exactly in the best frame of mind, Mom," Jamie's anger at Marley dissipated into guilt-stricken misery over the pain he was causing. Why was it every time Jamie turned around, he was hurting someone else? "I wasn't thinking straight... At the time, I thought I could handle it."
Rachel shook her head confused. "But when you were in the hospital, you still...why didn't you call me then? Surely, one of your doctors... Surely, that's standard procedure, too!"
"I told them not to."
"For God's sake, why, Jamie?"
"You had a lot going on. This was right when you were pregnant with the twins, and you had the health scare with the tumor, and then two newborn babies to take care of...."
"You're my baby, too," she stared at Jamie in disbelief. "Did you really think that they that anyone could mean more to me than you? You needed me. And you didn't.... You relied on doctors and nurses instead of calling for your family. I just don't understand why you felt you couldn't "
"Because I didn't want or need the pressure of people judging me... asking me questions.... hounding me. I needed help, not confirmation that James Gerald Frame had screwed up his life. Again. I mean, what else is new, right?"
Rachel gaped at him. "I'm not people, Jamie. I'm your mother. I would have seen to it that you got adequate help."
"I got help," he calmly countered.
"And the love and support of your family. How do you think this makes me feel, knowing that all this was happening and you didn't you wouldn't reach out to me? How would you feel if Steven or Kirkland kept something like this from you?"
Jamie's eyes hardened as he answered in a slight, reproachful tone. "I'd like to think that I'd manage to look past my own feelings and just be grateful they'd gotten the help they needed. Whatever the source."
"I am grateful, Jamie. I am so grateful that you're better now, that I still have you. But, Jamie, answer me, please. If it weren't for Marley, would you ever have..."
"No," he told her honestly. "I would have never told you."
And Rachel winced, cut to the quick at the distance, the blatant distrust for her in his eyes.
"Well, I know now," she pushed forward, desperately still trying to come to his aid, even this many years after the fact. To show that she was indeed capable of doing more than just criticizing. "And I'll do everything I can to help you, including making any trace of this disappear so that neither Kevin nor Grant are ever the wiser. Marley told me how scared you were "
"I appreciate the offer, Mom, but there's no need for you to do anything. It's all taken care of."
"Taken care of?" Rachel frowned. "How?"
"Will you please just trust me?" he snapped in exasperation. "Alice and I made sure "
"Alice?" Rachel repeated, her body stiffening. "Alice Frame?" she clarified needlessly. For what other Alice was there that would make her son so quickly shut his mouth with such a regretful grimace and look away from her as if suddenly caught.
"Jamie, what the hell does Alice Frame have to do with any of this?"
"She helped me," he said slowly. "When I was in the hospital, she helped me. With the doctors, my therapy. And later with fabricating a cover story for why I was there. She falsified medical documents. She risked her career for me."
Rachel, frankly, couldn't care less about that. The only point she was interested in clarifying was, "Alice knew about you being sick? Alice knew?"
They were still at the Bumble Bee, finally ordering food to make up for the close to two hours they'd sat there with Kevin, just drinking coffee. Which Kevin had actually told Allie wasn't very good for the baby, prompting her to switch to milk, which he said was.
"Thanks," Allie told Gregory. "For, you know, agreeing to commit fraud on my behalf."
He shrugged and swallowed the last of his BLT. "In for a penny, in for a fraud."
Allie couldn't help smiling. "How do you do that? How do you not say anything, and then come up with just the right thing to say?"
"I listen," Gregory explained simply. "Like when Kevin said you should tell your mom. I think he's right."
"She'll go mental. And not just on me, on you too."
"Used to it," Gregory said.
"Are you being funny again? I mean, moms... going mental... My mom... Your mom..."
"Its two-tiered comedy."
"Stop it," Allie ordered. "Stop making me feel better about everything. I should be miserable."
"Because. I screwed up. People who screw up deserve to be miserable."
"Is that how it works?"
"Yes!" Allie shouted loudly enough to prompt several patrons to turn and look in their direction. She lowered her voice and confessed, "Except the problem is, I don't. I mean, I'm sorry this happened, I wish it hadn't. I'm sorry I'm laying all my problems on you, and forcing you to lie for me."
"My choice," Gregory reminded.
"Well then, I'm sorry I may still end up having to deal with GQ down the road, and I'm sorry I'm asking Kevin to maybe do something illegal. And I'm sorry I drank all that coffee earlier. But I'm not miserable. I actually feel pretty good. Now that I've made up my mind, I know that I'm doing the right thing. For me, for the baby, even for GQ. I feel kind of all empowered. And also guilty."
"Because you think you should be feeling miserable?"
"You really do listen."
"Go see your mom," Gregory urged. "That'll get the job done."
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