"The police are here to see you, Donna," Marley told her mother, looking as confused as Donna felt, in light of the startling request.
"Me?" Donna peered from Marley to Jamie, who'd come up behind her, and then past both of them at Toni Burrell, waiting not so patiently in the foyer. "About what?"
"About the murder of Cecile DePoulignac," Toni broke in, stepping forward.
"I assure you, I have neither seen nor heard from Cecile in years." Donna clipped haughtily, easily moving from confusion to irritation to impatience. "Last I was made aware, she'd married Chad Rollo of all people, and they were gallivanting across various Mediterranean protectorates." A crash from upstairs caused Donna to look up at the ceiling. "Would you kindly call off your goons before they completely destroy my home and I am left with no choice except to file a lawsuit against your department?"
"We have a search warrant," Toni answered calmly, handing Donna a piece of paper that she promptly ignored.
"I am utterly unconcerned with whatever it is you think you have. Despite my well-known support financial and otherwise of our public servants, you have no right to come in here and turn my residence upside down."
"Where were you last night, Ms. Love? Between 1 and 4 AM?"
Donna didn't hesitate. "Here, asleep in my bed. Really, officer "
"It's Chief," Toni corrected smoothly, then moved on to, "Do you have anyone who would be able to confirm that?"
"Confirm that I was asleep in my bed at 1 AM in the morning?" Donna asked incredulously. "No. Unfortunately, the gentleman who otherwise might have vouched for me, decided to stay at his own place last night. If I had known I needed an alibi "
An officer trampled into the room, antique picture-frame in hand.
"Please do be careful with that," Donna instructed as he showed it to Chief Burrell, her eyes jumping from it to Donna.
"What is this all about?" Donna whispered to Marley.
"I don't know. They just came in and said you were a person of interest "
"Do you still have this scarf?" the officer broke in, flipping the picture around to show Donna a photo of herself with Michele and Bridget.
"Yes," Donna nodded, even as Marley placed a warning hand on her arm.
"May I look at it?" the officer pressed.
"I fail to see what my scarf has to do "
"If you could get it, please," Toni's request managed to not sound like one at all.
"I will not," Donna countered firmly. "Not until you tell me why you're here."
"We're investigating the death of Cecile DePoulignac."
"I know that. How is her demise relevant to me?"
"We found some items in Ms. DePoulignac's room related to you."
"Oh, please. Such as?"
Toni eyed her curiously for a moment. "Ms. Love, why don't we go down to the station? We have a great deal to talk about, and it would be simpler for everyone "
"Are you arresting me?"
"Not at this time."
"Then, I'm not going anywhere with you," Donna huffed. "If you have something you'd like to ask me, Chief, I feel confident that you can do it right here, without wasting any more of my time."
Marley looked nervously at Jamie, who only shrugged in reply. She urged Donna, "Maybe we should call a lawyer before you "
"Don't be silly, Marley. I have nothing to hide, and certainly nothing to be afraid of when it comes to Cecile. Let them ask me their silly questions. The sooner we get this over with, the better."
Toni addressed Jamie and Marley, "Mr. and Mrs. Frame, would you mind if "
"They can stay, " Donna cut her off. "I may need the witnesses for my subsequent lawsuit. Now, if you would please just What is that?" Donna inquired as the officer pulled a tape recorder from her pocket.
Toni pressed a button, and Donna heard her own voice floating through the room, realizing, horrified but too late, just how badly she'd miscalculated.
"Your targets are Felicia Gallant, Jenna and Dean Frame. It's critical that all three are taken out immediately. Preferably by end of day. Tomorrow will be too late for my purposes."
The older she got, the better Lorna understood that the most successful lies stuck the closest to the truth.
That was why, when faced with Felicia and Lucas standing in front of the NICU window, looking at her expectantly, Lorna said the first, sincere thing that came to her mind.
"It is so good," she told them, "To see the two of you together again. I never, ever dreamed that could happen."
Felicia beamed. "The three of us."
"The three of us," Lorna agreed.
"If only..." her mother glanced over one shoulder at Lori Ann.
"I know," Lorna said. "But, it kind of feels like Jenna is here, doesn't it? Watching over us. Reminding us all to shape up and fly right. If not for ourselves, at least for her little girl."
Lucas took a step forward and enveloped Lorna in a hug. "I love you," he swore, blinking back tears, his words carrying both years and layers of meaning. "And I am so sorry for everything I put you through."
"I love you, too." She returned his embrace. "It's good to have you back. Like this. Where you belong. Finally."
"Where's Grant?" Lila asked upon coming in and finding only Kevin sitting in the half-decorated living room.
"Study," Kevin pointed with his thumb. "The social worker on Kirkland's custody case is here for their fitness assessment."
"Then how come you aren't in there with them, doing the whole Congressional-hearing, whispering behind the hand thing?"
"No lawyers allowed. Apparently, they're under the impression that if I'm there, Grant might not give his most spontaneous and truthful answer."
"Go figure," Lila smirked.
Kevin smiled back and changed the subject. "How's the house coming along?"
"It's getting there," Lila looked around. "Not as quickly or smoothly as I'd have liked, but not as slowly and horribly as I'd feared. Six of one, half dozen of the other."
"Well, Grant is very happy with your work. He's a big fan of yours."
"Yeah," Lila conceded. "He's about the only one these days."
"Are the two of you..." Kevin wondered.
"Nope," she knew exactly what he was asking. "Not even a little."
"That's a shame."
"Oh, really?" Lila set a hand on her hip. "Don't tell me you're another one of those a beautiful woman like you should never be alone types. I'll have you know that I'm perfectly fine being on my own. I'm enjoying my independence. I don't need a man to be happy and fulfilled."
"Actually," Kevin replied slowly. "What I meant was it's a shame, because Grant being in a stable, committed relationship would make him look even better for the custody hearing."
"Oh..." Lila's righteous indignation deflated along with the exclamation.
"That said," Kevin went on. "You are a beautiful woman. And while I have only the greatest respect for your ongoing independence and/or happiness, I was wondering whether you might be interested in having dinner with me some night?"
Lila cocked her head to one side. "What about... "
"Done," he said.
"So you're on the rebound."
"Good." Lila smiled.
With Charlie still in the room, Cass and Frankie could only finish watching the news report about Cecile's murder in silence. They kept looking from the screen, and over Charlie's head at each other, both of them desperate to communicate, both of them lost for words.
"So who do you think did it?" Charlie asked once the anchorwoman had moved on to the next top story of the day.
"How would we know that?" Cass snapped. "Cecile had a knack for making enemies. Some of them were bound to be homicidal."
Charlie recalled, "They said she was a Queen or something."
"Tanquir," Frankie confirmed. "Your Daddy's been there. If he'd played his cards right, he could have been the King."
"This isn't funny," Cass lectured them both.
"This," Frankie indicated the TV. "Isn't. But that kind of was."
"Not if you'd been there."
Realizing that Cass wasn't about to be joked out of his dark mood, Frankie softened, telling him, "I'm sorry... I didn't think... You did care for her once. No matter what happened afterwards, somewhere, deep down, you probably... "
"Cecile killed any caring feelings I may have had for her, when she took you from me. I hope she burns in Hell," Cass said.
Needing to pick up an earlier edition of a book on Fortran to prove an obscure programming point on an even more obscure discussion board, Steven was taken aback to step into his old room at the Cory mansion only to come face-to-face with a surprise of the Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed variety.
Namely, Allie. She popped up guiltily, rubbing her eyes and shaking her head to clear it from the unexpected mid-day nap.
"Hey," Steven kept his voice low. "What are you doing in here?"
"Hiding," she admitted. "From Mom."
He half-laughed, not sure if she was kidding. "What for?"
"You mean she didn't send a mass e-mail out to all the Frames? Just Sharlene?"
He told her honestly, "I don't know what you're talking about, Al."
"I guess you will, soon enough." She sighed and, figuring now was as good of a time as any, told him, "I'm kind of... pregnant."
Steven's eyes grew wide. He set down the book he'd been holding, then felt the need to sit down himself. "Kind of...?" was all he managed to croak out.
"Well, no. For real, I guess."
"Amanda must be...."
"No wonder you're hiding."
"She hasn't figured out to look for me in here yet."
"What are you... What are you going to... "
"Kevin's going to help me find adoptive parents for it. I'm going to give it away."
"Listen, Allie..." Steven's fingers twitched nervously, as though he wished he could type out his next words rather than trying to say them. "I know that I was pretty hard on Gregory before."
"You called him a dimwit."
"Actually, I said he was dimwitted, there's a difference. But that's not the point. I know I've really ragged on him in the past. But.... he's a good guy. He's a stand-up guy. I'm sure he'd marry you if "
"I don't want to get married," Allie said.
"Why not? A kid needs two parents."
"And they'll have two parents. They just won't be me. Or Gregory." When Steven didn't look convinced, Allie prompted, "Come on, getting married because of a baby, when has that ever not gone spectacularly wrong for anyone you or I know? Did it work for my mom and dad? How about yours? How about Matt and Lila? How about Vicky going back to Grant because she was pregnant with Kirkland? Heck, it didn't even work for your namesake and Grandma, and back then people actually took their vows seriously! Shotgun marriage is not something this family does well. Marriage, to be honest, is not something this family does well. But the only ones that seem like they even have a chance of succeeding are the ones where the couple is in love. Just in love, and nothing else."
"Aren't you in love with Gregory?" Steven asked.
"I " His query took Allie by such surprise that she didn't know how to answer him exactly. "I I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know? You guys are... " Steven made a sweep of his hand in the general direction of Allie's burgeoning belly, unable to quite put into words what it was she and Gregory had actually allegedly done to cause it.
"So?" She defended, blushing. "You and Sarah are... too, aren't you?"
"So are you in love with her?"
"Oh," Allie said.
"Why would I... otherwise.... Wait a minute; we're not talking about me, here. What do you mean you don't know if you're in love with Gregory or not?"
"I just... don't. I like him a lot. He's great. He's sweet. And he's funny. Really funny, once you actually get that he's joking. And I like hanging out with him. But..."
"You think it should be more than that?"
"I don't know," Allie repeated. "I I was in love before. I think. I thought I was. And it was different."
"Good different or bad different?" Steven's inner scientist kicked in.
Grant waved to the departing Social Worker with a winning smile, making sure she was well out of the driveway before closing the door and pulling at his tie with a growl.
"I've had more fun during a colonoscopy," he muttered, striding down the hall and into his living room, where he found Lila.
"I hope that's for me," he nodded towards the glass in her hand, then knocked it back in one smooth gulp and handed it back to her.
"Shall I make you another, or would you prefer to chug straight from the bottle?"
"A glass, if you please." Grant settled into a chair. "I haven't sunk so low as to toss good breeding out the window. It's been a bitch of a day. Although clearly not for you, judging by those twinkling eyes and rosy cheeks. Dare I say I even detect the hint of a smile on those similarly rosy lips?"
Lila slapped the freshly made drink into his hand. "Is that your way of asking why I'm in such a good mood?"
"It is," Grant conceded, tipping his glass to Lila.
"I have a date," she finally said, displaying both satisfaction and delight. "With a man."
Grant grinned wickedly. "Well, if it were with a woman I'd "
"Oh, Grant, don't be so predictably male. This will be the first date I've had since Cass and I parted ways. The first date I've had in over ten years. I'm a touch out of practice."
"Don't fret. Things have not changed all that much. You go out to dinner, order the most expensive items on the menu, he takes you back to his place "
"You're being predictably male, again. Quit it."
"Well, considering how much of a scoundrel I'm reputed to be, this new man of yours couldn't be any worse. Do I happen to know the lucky bastard?"
"You do," Lila nodded. "Kevin Fowler."
Grant managed one of the sharpest eyebrow lifts Lila had ever seen. "Fowler? Isn't he boffing Amanda?"
"Not anymore. She broke it off," Lila dropped casually and took another sip of her drink. "What, Grant?" she rolled her eyes over his figure of visible, exasperated disappointment.
"You know better," he looked at her sternly.
"Know better than to do what?"
"Know better than to insert yourself into a situation that is far from over. Kevin is obviously using you to make Amanda jealous."
"Well, gee, Grant, thanks for the vote of confidence."
"You know what I mean. I don't want to see you get hurt. If you're so desperate for the attentions of a man "
"I should come to you?"
"You could do worse."
"I'm sure I could. But I like having you as a friend, and I've no aspiration to spoil a good thing. Besides, I have no long term designs on Kevin Fowler, either."
"You mean he's a disposable tissue in your recovery from the unfortunate business with Cass," Grant gave it some thought and decided, "I can abide by that."
Lila chuckled and threw a pillow at him. "I'm glad you approve."
"Just be sure not to underestimate Amanda in all of this. She can pull out claws with the best of them. She is Rachel's daughter, after all."
"What do you mean?" Lila asked, unable to imagine fluffy kitten Amanda Cory lowering herself to scrap like an alley cat.
"Talk to Lorna sometime," Grant chuckled. "Those two...well...I'm partly to blame. I should've been a bit more discreet..."
"Lorna," Lila groaned. "She certainly has a talent for inserting herself into marriages, doesn't she?"
"As far as I know, Lorna only played the role of mistress for me. Unless you know something I "
"No," Lila said quickly. "I just... she's moved into the guest house on the Cory estate and is suddenly underfoot these days."
Grant sat up with sudden interest and a slow smile. "Don't tell me..."
"Don't tell you what?"
Lila blinked. "Lorna and Carl? Together? As in Eww... He's, what, old enough to be her... her ancestor!"
"It didn't stop them before. And Lorna was a hell of a lot younger then."
"Lorna and Carl?" Lila repeated, practically gagging.
"When she first came to town... "
"But she and Matt were..."
"Both," Grant said lightly, enjoying being the bearer of disturbing information.
"That's an image to give a girl nightmares," Lila shook her head, unfortunately finding that the picture still stuck. She hurriedly changed the subject. "Well, not now, not anymore. No, oh, no, Grant you got that all wrong. She's not... she's not seeing Carl!"
"But she is seeing someone," Grant jumped on her hesitation. "And you know who it is. And it's somebody on the Cory grounds..."
"I didn't say that!" Lila objected. "And if she is seeing someone, I don't know who it is and it's none of your business besides. You're already trying to squeeze Marley onto a full plate. Where do you think you can slip in Lorna? And don't look at me like that, you know what I meant."
"I'd find some room," Grant grinned into his glass with a wistful sigh as Lila snapped her fingers in front of him.
"Eyes on the prize," she instructed. "Your focus should be on your son. Not on taking up bad habits. Again."
Grant snorted. "I can multi-task."
"Grant Spencer Harrison..." she warned with narrowed eyes. After a brief stare-down, he relented with another growl.
"Fine. Eyes on the prize."
"That's a good paterfamilias," Lila nodded, taking his empty glass and rising from the sofa. "Now, I'll go freshen your drink and then we can talk about what to do about those curtains in your study."
"Curtains," he scoffed. "I'm so Goddamn sick of curtains... "
Save for the faint thudding of the police officers' boots as they continued their search of the house, the Love living room stayed dead silent while the tape played on, all eyes on Donna, her recorded voice continuing to damn her.
"What is this?" Donna demanded, pointing at the recorder. "Some kind of trick? I'm not a fool; I know what you can do with technology these days. I own a television station. You can digitally manipulate practically anything to "
"I'm afraid it's no manipulation, Ms. Love. We've certified that the tape is authentic. The voice is yours, no question about it."
"Well, it may sound like me but random words can be pieced together from... from voice mail messages, or my own answering service, or even a surreptitious recording of me discussing a completely non-related topic. The possibilities are endless!"
"We found this tape in Ms. DePoulignac's hotel room."
"Well, if that doesn't suggest it's a fraud, then I don't know what would."
"We also found several documents that appear to corroborate the information on this tape."
"Corroborate?" Marley repeated in shock. "What exactly do they corroborate?"
"It's lies, Marley," Donna turned to her. "All lies. Why in the world would I ever want to have Felicia kidnapped?"
"Because she was getting close to finding out the whole truth about your daughter, Ms. Love," Toni continued. "Your other daughter."
"Vicky?" Marley looked helplessly at Jamie again, as if maybe he, of all people, might be able to help make sense of this. But he looked as lost as she did.
"What does Felicia have to do with Vicky?" Jamie asked.
"Nothing," Toni shook her head, eyes locked on Donna. "This has nothing to do with Victoria McKinnon. It's about "
"I've heard enough," Donna cut her off. "I want you out of my house. Now."
"Chief," an officer called from the top of the stairs. "Got something."
Marley turned on Donna as soon as Toni was out of the room. "What is she talking about? Why would Cecile be collecting files and tapes suggesting that you had Felicia kidnapped?"
"Because she's a lunatic, that's why."
"Was," Jamie said softly, more to himself than anyone else.
"Obviously, this was yet another hare-brained scheme to get her hands on the Love fortune. She poisoned your Uncle Peter into a heart attack while they were engaged, you know."
At the mention of Cecile and poison, Marley and Jamie exchanged nervous looks.
Donna went on, "And Cecile is very handy with a tape-recorder. There was an incident, many, many years ago, when I inadvertently may have chosen my words somewhat badly around Sally Frame "
"You were blackmailing Sally about being Kevin's biological mother as a way to get her out of Peter's life," Jamie reminded. "Cecile taped your conversation and blackmailed you right back."
"Exactly," Donna chose to ignore Jamie's implied rebuke to focus on making her own point. "The woman has no shame."
"Had," Marley corrected.
"Ms. Love, is this your scarf?" Marley and Donna both turned to find Toni back in the room, holding up the same scarf as pictured around Donna's neck in the photograph.
"It is. So what?"
"Please turn around," Toni instructed Donna firmly, nodding to the police officer next to her.
"Why?" Donna gasped as he gently took hold of both her wrists. "I don't understand "
"Donna Love," Toni began grimly. "You are under arrest for the murder of Cecile DePoulignac..."
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