Marley sat rigidly on her chair in the waiting area of the Bay City Police Station, eyes nervously darting around the bullpen in anticipation of... what?
Her mother's lawyer, some corporate retainer that Donna had adamantly insisted they call instead of Cass Winthrop, met them at the police station, then promptly disappeared along with his client. Now it was practically the next morning. Marley could see the faintest trickle of sunlight through the windows. And she and Jamie thank God for Jamie! were still here, waiting.
None of this made any sense. Donna arranging to kidnap Felicia, Jenna and Dean? Donna being blackmailed by Cecile about it? Donna murdering Cecile to keep her quiet?
Marley didn't want to believe any of it. She couldn't believe that even the most benign of Toni's accusations Donna having a secret daughter; well, technically it would be another secret daughter; a third one, if Marley really thought about it was something Donna would have kept from her.
But the look on her mother's face told another story. Marley had never seen her so lost, so out of sorts, so...guilty.
"I talked to Steven." Jamie interrupted her mind's unending cycling through the same few pieces of information at her disposal in the hope that this time, she'd somehow force it to make sense. "He's got Bridget and Michele safely tucked into bed at my mother's."
"He hasn't told them anything, has he? Or let them watch TV?"
"He promised to just sit tight until he hears back from us. No TV, no Internet. Mom's going to stay with them for now, and as soon as Steven and Sarah finish their one class this morning, they'll take the girls hiking. That should keep them busy and isolated."
"Good. I didn't want them seeing the mess the police made back at the house. I don't know how I'd explain it." She shook her head, bewildered. "I don't know how I'm going to explain any of this to them."
"Let's just find out what we're dealing with first."
"You heard the tape. You saw my mother's face. She... she did something, Jamie. Something bad. It explains why she's been so distant lately. So nervous. Off in her own world... kind of like "
"I was," Jamie finished.
"Because of Cecile," Marley reminded.
They both took a moment to consider the implications of the parallel, only to be interrupted by Matt's barreling in. He looked accusingly from one to the other and spat, "Neither one of you thought to call me? I had to find out from Steven? Where's Donna?"
"With her lawyer and the detectives," Marley answered, rising from her chair. "They've been in there most of the night."
"This is insane," Matt yelled loudly enough to cause several officers to look up from their desks. "Why would anyone think Donna killed Cecile?"
"The working hypothesis is that Cecile was blackmailing her," Jamie explained. "She apparently had a tape of Donna ordering Felicia, Jenna, and Dean's kidnapping."
"Which is ridiculous, of course," Marley cut in. "Why would my mother " She stopped abruptly when the outrage on Matt's face transformed into hushed surprise. And fear.
"What is it?" Jamie pressed, seeing the change in Matt, too. "Do you know something about this?"
Matt shook his head. "Not here, not now."
"It's true?" Marley grabbed him when Matt tried to turn away. "Was my mother... was she behind those kidnappings? Answer me!"
Matt's eyes flickered nervously around the precinct before he looked back to Marley and offered the most minute of nods.
"Why?" Jamie demanded, voicing the question that Marley couldn't.
"Because," Matt began reluctantly. "She was trying... to protect Jenna. She wanted to stop her and Felicia from uncovering the truth about Jenna's biological parents."
"Why would Donna care... Oh my God," Marley breathed, the light bulb at long last going off. "She... Donna is Jenna's mother, isn't she?" Marley looked to Jamie. "Chief Burrell said Cecile knew a secret about Donna's daughter. Her other daughter. Jenna is... was... that other daughter?"
Again Matt nodded.
"And the man that Donna didn't want Jenna to know was her father?" Jamie dared ask, even though Matt could already see he had done the math and put the pieces together.
"Carl," Matt admitted to a discombobulated Marley. "Carl Hutchins is Jenna's father."
"Good morning. My name is Jennifer Fowler, and this is Computational Cognitive Sciences. In this seminar, we're going to use a combination of mathematical modeling, computer simulation, and behavioral experiments to uncover the logic behind inductive leaps, including constructing perceptual representations, inferring causal connections, and predicting the future. In other words, we are going to be doing a lot of thinking about thinking."
Overall, Jen thought her first class on her first day at Bay City University went rather well. All twelve of her advanced Cognitive Science students appeared engaged and interested in what she had to say. Except for this one guy. He sat in the back of the room and spent a good fifty-five of their sixty minute period trying to distract the pretty blonde who sat next to him by periodically leaning over and writing his own remarks on the paper where she appeared to be diligently trying to take notes.
The fact that Steven Frame and Sarah Matthews-Wheeler held hands as they were leaving suggested to Jen that they'd met before. But that still didn't make his behavior anymore acceptable.
Jen called them both over and wondered if Mr. Frame might not be happier switching to a class on Behavioral Science, as Cognitive was clearly failing to hold his interest.
"I'm actually getting my PhD in Computer Science," he clarified. "I'm just auditing this course because my advisor thought a few of your less voodoo concepts, the modeling in particular, might be helpful for the work I'm doing in artificial intelligence."
"Voodoo," Jen repeated curiously.
"Come on," he laughed. "Even you've got to admit that everything you're doing here is just taking wild stabs in the dark. I mean, how far is any of this, really," he indicated several of the concepts Jen had written out on her Smart Board. "From Phrenology?"
"Hmmm," Jen mused. "Neuroimaging versus studying the bumps on people's heads. You're right, they're practically the same thing."
"Give it a few years, they will be."
"Are you equally as dismissive of Cybernetics?"
"As it pertains to game theory? No. As it pertains to any fruity-crunchyology? Psychology? Sociology? Astrology? You bet. None of that is real science."
Jen smiled pleasantly and briefly looked down at her student list to double-check that yes, indeed, Sarah Matthews-Wheeler was, in fact, majoring in Sociology. "I can see I'm really going to enjoy having you in my class, Mr. Frame."
"Come on, Steven," Sarah said, tugging on his arm and all but stepping directly between him and Jen. "We've got to go. We promised your dad we'd hang with the twins, remember?"
"Here you go," Kevin handed Cass the necessary papers outside of the NICU, while Frankie, with Felicia's help, went into the nursery to dress Lori Ann for her big trip home. "I already signed the hospital authorizations, so you're all set."
"Why are you being so pleasant about this?" Cass asked suspiciously.
"Because this is my favorite part of the job. I like making sure kids end up with the right family for them."
"Then how can you possibly be working for Grant Harrison?"
"That's my business."
"You know Kirkland belongs with Jamie."
"It wouldn't even still be an issue, if Jamie had a better lawyer."
"Okay," Cass said. "I guess the pleasantness is over."
"Enjoy your new daughter," Kevin said. "Give my best to your wife and Felicia. And let's hope none of us ever have to see each other again." He took one last look at Lori Ann, waved at the baby through the glass, and left.
Felicia had gone all out for Lori Ann's homecoming outfit, decrying traditional colors like pink, blue and yellow in favor of a black, white and red ensemble that she explained was not only stylish, but also utilized the primary colors beneficial to infant brain development. And that was just for her undershirt, bodysuit and tights. An Aletta designer dress of handmade lace went on top, followed by a Monalissa knitted hat with pom-pom, a pair of impossibly tiny suede boots, and a checkered Baby Dior coat with faux-fur collar. Cass, frankly, was happy to see the collar. He'd been anticipating a pint-sized feather boa.
Felicia carried Lori Ann out of the hospital, with Cass and Frankie walking behind, carrying the car seat, diaper bag, and an additional tote of designer clothes brought by Felicia in case the initial outfit proved not to her liking at the last minute.
All three of them stopped in front of Cass and Frankie's car, all three of them realizing that this was it, the moment of truth. The moment when they got to find out whether Felicia really meant for Lori Ann to be Cass and Frankie's daughter in anything beyond name only.
"This is so hard," Felicia confessed.
"I know," Frankie sympathized.
"I was there when she was born. Not a day has gone by since... For the past few months, she's been my... my everything. She's been all I thought about, all I cared about. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself now." Felicia laughed a little, pretending that she was joking. They all knew that she wasn't.
"You're not saying good-bye," Cass reassured. "She is still your granddaughter, she always will be."
"But she'll be your daughter, too."
"Yes," Cass said. "Remember when Lucas was afraid that I might turn out to be Jenna's birth father?"
He observed, "Who would have thought, twenty years later, it'd all end up like this... We're finally family, after all."
Felicia placed the baby in Frankie's arm. She took a step back, watching Lori Ann with her new parents as if taking a picture.
"You three look good together," Felicia finally said. "You look... right."
"Thank you for this," Frankie hugged Lori Ann tightly. "You don't know how much this means to us."
"I do," Felicia said. "Because I remember what getting to adopt Jenna meant to me. She didn't make up for the baby I lost. But she opened up a whole new world, just the same."
Frankie agreed. "Lori Ann isn't a replacement for my not getting to raise Charlie. She's a new beginning."
"We'll take the very, very best care of her," Cass promised. "She'll be loved, and she'll be safe."
He met Frankie's eyes above Lori Ann's head, and he knew that they were both thinking the same thing.
Lori Ann would be safe... now.
"My mother and Carl are Jenna's biological parents?" Marley said the words. She even heard them. She just couldn't make herself believe them. Or the subsequent implications.
"I really think you should talk to her," Matt urged. "She "
"Has been lying to me," Marley shot back, her voice tight with anger. "Keeping secrets. Kidnapping people. My God, Matt, Jenna... died. She died because of my... her... our... mother."
"Donna never meant for that to happen. She never thought "
"Donna had a pregnant woman kidnapped." Jamie, mentally reliving the last moments of Jenna's life, reliving the role his own actions played in her death, couldn't help seething with anger. "A woman with a history of high-risk gestation. How could she not think that "
"She was scared, alight?" Matt flared. "Carl doesn't know that he's Jenna's father, and Donna didn't want him to know. She was afraid of what he might do."
"What?" Marley had to use her last ounce of self-control to keep from screaming. "What could Carl possibly do that would have been worse than what she ended up doing?"
A door opened and suddenly there was a flurry of activity as Donna emerged from the interrogation room, head held high, even as she was led around in handcuffs by a police officer.
"Donna!" Matt reached out, but was stopped short of touching her by another officer. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Matthew," she insisted. Despite all evidence to the contrary.
He looked to her lawyer. "What's going on?"
"She's been processed and they're moving her to holding. We'll try to set up a bail hearing as soon as possible."
"What does that mean?" Matt wanted to know.
"Maybe in a day or two."
"A day or two! Look at her, she can't stay in jail until then." Matt turned to Donna. "I promise, I'll do everything I can to get you out of here."
"What for?" she asked, somewhat vacantly, glancing from him to Marley, who was keeping a horrified distance, all but cowering behind Jamie. "If my own daughter is standing there, looking as if she preferred never to see me again, how will the rest of the world treat me? Felicia? Carl? Dean? It might be best safer for me to stay in jail. You can't protect me from everyone."
She was pulled away before Matt could say another word, the officer leading her out a separate door.
Matt closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and vowed to prove her wrong.
"Did you and Ms. Cory work things out after I left?" Jen asked Kevin over lunch at Tops.
"No," her father stabbed a baby carrot with his fork.
He shrugged and continued to take his feelings out on defenseless steamed vegetables.
"You really cared about her," Jen deduced based on how hard he was working to look nonchalant.
"She didn't think so," Kevin observed, and promptly changed the subject. "How was your first day teaching?"
"Good." Jen knew enough to drop the topic. "It seems like a nice group. Though there's this one guy, computer science major, just auditing the class, he says, to get some insights for his artificial intelligence research. I can tell he's going to be fighting me every step of the way."
"You can take him," Kevin reassured.
"Oh, no question about that," Jen laughed.
"That's my girl," Kevin said. His eyes wandered over Jen's head. She turned in her seat to check out what he was looking at. "And that," Kevin said in answer to her unasked question, indicating the older woman heading towards them, a curious expression on her face. "Is my grandmother."
"Hello, Kevin," Alice said.
"Dr. Frame," he nodded his head, but made no move toward further introductions.
Nonplused, Alice stretched one hand forward and did the honors herself. "I'm Kevin's grandmother, Alice Frame."
Jen returned the gesture. "I'm Jennifer Fowler, his daughter."
"Oh," Alice said. "It's I I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"Well, now you do," Kevin said. He swept the dining room briefly with his eyes, zeroing in on Spencer occupying a table in the far corner. He'd risen when Alice entered the room, and was now looking over in their direction. "Have a nice lunch," Kevin wished Alice pleasantly.
Jen looked at her father, shocked by his behavior. Alice indicated Jen's empty plate, where she'd laid her knife and fork parallel to each other diagonally, both handles pointing to the right.
"What's that?" Alice asked.
Still flustered by Kevin's rudeness, Jen nervously explained, "It's a signal to the waiter that I'm done eating. I know it's silly, these days most waiters don't even know what it means. It's so old-fashioned. But it's a habit for me by now. My dad taught me."
Alice smiled at Kevin, who had developed a sudden, all-consuming interest in buttering his roll, and, just before stepping away to join Spencer, urged Jen, "Ask your father who taught him."
With only ten minutes to get from her Introduction to Chemistry class located on the Southernmost tip of campus to her Journalism lecture at the very Northernmost part, Allie was hustling as fast as she could, eyes down, bag slung over one shoulder, cursing how tired she constantly felt these days.
She didn't notice GQ until he'd stepped directly into her path, forcing Allie to glance up and swallow hard.
GQ, however, didn't seem interested in anything above her waistline. He didn't even bother looking Allie in the face when he relayed, "Steven says you're pregnant."
Once she'd taken her seat across from him, Spencer told Alice, "I've come to a decision."
"Is that so?"
"I decided that if you ever gave our relationship a second chance, I would promise not to make any mistakes in it."
"I beg your pardon?" Alice asked, growing more and more amused.
"I intend to make no mistakes in this relationship," he repeated. "To do nothing that would prompt you to doubt or regret it or me. Fortunately, I've committed so many grievous errors in the past that I believe I have a pretty good game plan for what not to do."
Spencer summarized cheerfully, "From now on, anytime a small problem dares come up, I intend to do whatever is necessary to make sure it doesn't turn into a large one."
She couldn't help laughing at his apparent sincerity. "That sounds like a rather impossible promise to keep."
He reminded, "If I didn't believe I could accomplish the impossible, how would I ever have found the audacity to pursue a woman like you?"
Somewhat shell-shocked, Rachel hung up the phone, made sure that Michele and Bridget weren't within overhearing distance, and quickly filled Carl in on the latest in Donna's situation, explaining that Matt had rung to give them a head's up: Jenna's parentage was about to become public knowledge.
"My, my..." was all Carl initially had to say in response
"Poor Felicia," Rachel looked down at the phone in her hand. "What a horrible way to find out. Do you think maybe I should call and let her know before... "
"Absolutely not," Carl said. "There is no reason for Felicia to be made aware of the fact that we had this information in our possession prior to its official public revelation."
"It's the truth."
"And what good would be served by its coming out? Look at it logically, Rachel. Felicia is going to be devastated. She will be in desperate need of a friend to lean on. In which capacity would you be more useful to her? As that said friend, or as yet another person who has betrayed her?"
"What an incredibly self-serving rationalization."
"And yet it is an accurate one. Would you prefer being the agent of her pain, or her healing? Frankly, it would be self-serving to tell her the truth at this time. You'd be salving your own needs, not hers."
"Is this how you did it?" Rachel wondered. "All those years of wreaking havoc everywhere you went? Is this the sort of verbal gyrations you went through so you could sleep peacefully at night?"
"I am not wrong," Carl said.
"You aren't exactly right, either."
He shrugged, and let the matter drop.
But Rachel wasn't quite finished yet. She said, "I do wonder, though, how Cecile got her hands on the information about Donna. As far as I know, Spencer gave a copy of that incriminating evidence to me, and me only."
"You mean because Harrison would blackmail, threaten and extort, but he wouldn't lie to you?"
"I mean because what motive would Spencer have for dealing with Cecile when it came to Donna?"
Another shrug from Carl.
"You, on the other hand," Rachel informed her husband. "Have plenty of motives for wanting to see Donna exposed. What better way to do it while keeping your own hands clean than to pass it on to the woman who has never met a blackmail opportunity she didn't like?" Rachel asked, "Did you give Cecile my information on Donna, Carl?"
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