"Don't those reporters have anything better to do than to camp out in front of my house like vultures?" Donna lamented to Matt once they were safely inside her home. "They're trespassing. I am completely within my rights to turn on the sprinklers and freeze them to death."
"That's probably not the attitude you want to head into a murder trial with," Matt offered.
"I did not kill Cecile. I refuse to cower as if I had."
"Good," Marley panted as she descended the stairs, a suitcase in each hand. "You brought help." She dumped both at their feet. "Matt, you can take these when you and Donna leave. There are enough clothes to get you through the night. I'll have the rest of your things packed and sent to your new address."
Donna looked, disbelieving, from the bags to Marley. "You're kicking me out of my own home?"
"Correct," Marley clipped, arms crossed, her body a barricade preventing Donna from moving any further past the foyer. "You don't live here anymore."
"The hell she doesn't," Matt barked. "Who are you to decide "
"Who am I? I'm her daughter. The only one she has left, though, really, what do I know about that?"
"Marley... " Matt warned.
"I am also the legal guardian of two little girls, who happen to be very confused right now. I have every right to take whatever steps are necessary in order to protect them from... from... the poison that is their grandmother."
"I would never hurt Bridget and Michele," Donna seethed. "You know how much I love my granddaughters."
"How you can say that without fear of lightning striking you dead, I have no idea," Marley observed, then reminded, "Lori Ann Frame was in the hospital for almost six months because of you. Now, take your bags and get out. Or do I need to call the police and have them take you away? Again."
"Last I checked, Donna's name was on the title to this house," Matt countered coldly. "You, on the other hand..."
"Matthew," Donna begged him not to make things, worse before turning back to her daughter. "Marley, let's talk about this. Calmly."
"No. He's right. This isn't my house. If you won't leave... then the girls and I will."
"No!" Donna's facade crumbled and she lunged after Marley. "You can't. Please. Don't leave me alone. I can't lose you and the girls, too."
"You'll have him," Marley nodded towards Matt. "From where I'm standing, it's more than you deserve."
When Rachel checked with Spencer's hotel, she was informed that Mr. Harrison had moved out. He had apparently decided to open up his former home and make his stay in Bay City a bit more permanent.
"Fantastic," was all Rachel really had to say to that.
It got even better when she knocked on his door and was greeted by Spencer himself with Alice hovering in the background.
Rachel told him, "The evidence against Donna that the police found in Cecile's hotel room, it was all the same pieces that you gave me months ago."
"Perhaps you should be more careful where you put your things," Spencer suggested.
"My copies are still in my safe. Did you give that information to Cecile?"
"I hardly knew the woman."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"What motives could I possibly have had for exposing my... business dealings to the outside world?"
"You wanted to hurt Carl," Rachel grasped at straws.
"At my own expense?"
"No one can trace those documents back to you, you made sure of that."
"But why take the risk? Especially for no visible reward. Carl was the motive for Donna's actions, not a co-conspirator. This won't bring him down, it will make him sympathetic. A father denied, a tragic injured party yet again. At least in his own eyes, if no one else's. After all, wasn't it finding out about Ryan that supposedly brought about his miraculous redemption?"
Rachel didn't care to get into it. "Where did Cecile get her evidence, then?"
"I'm sure I have no idea."
"Ignorance is bliss, isn't it," Rachel observed, turning to Alice, "Speaking of which, are you aware that your boyfriend here tried to blackmail Jamie remember Jamie? into signing away his son?"
"My grandson," Spencer corrected.
"But the rest of the sentence stands."
Much to Spencer's surprise, Alice said lightly, "I actually was aware of it, thank you for your concern."
"I just don't understand it," Rachel shook her head. "How can you, someone who spent your entire life seeing yourself as the good one, defining yourself as the anti-me; noble, decent, self-sacrificing, holier-than-though. How can you, of all people, stand to so much as be in the same room much less the same bed with a criminal thug like him?"
"Why do you even keep picking it up?" Matt asked as Donna, once again, moved to answer the perpetually ringing phone.
"It might be Marley," she defended weakly.
Matt didn't bother to point out that if Marley unexpectedly changed her mind and decided to reach out to her mother, she would, more likely than not, call on Donna's cell-phone.
The fact is, he couldn't talk Donna out of answering. She seemed to need the abuse, seemed to actually perversely enjoy the penance of total strangers calling up to eviscerate her.
Except for this last one. Donna's face blanched white and, instead of politely setting down the receiver as she had every other time, she let it slip through her fingers and hit the floor with a thump.
"What is it?" Matt asked, swooping the receiver up but only meeting a dial tone in return. "What happened? Who was it?"
"Dean," Donna said, her voice trembling. "He said he's coming to kill me for what I did."
"Have you seen my daughter?" Amanda asked Carl, after a somewhat thorough sweep of the house failed to turn Allie up.
He thought about it, "Not for several days, I don't think. Of course, I have been rather preoccupied."
"Oh, yeah," Amanda remembered, nursing a twinge of guilt over her self-absorption. But, in her defense, Amanda had been pretty preoccupied, as well. "How did Donna's hearing go?"
"She's been let out on bail."
"Are you okay?" Amanda asked. "I read on-line about you and... Jenna. I'm sorry. You never even got to know her, did you?"
"I believe my daughter's dominant memory of me was that I tried to kill her via vehicular homicide. The fact that Lucas was my actual target, notwithstanding."
"You were responsible for a car accident I was in. I got over it. Maybe Jenna did too." Even as Amanda said the words, she wasn't sure if she was joking. To say that she had actually gotten over the crash that left her paralyzed for months wasn't precisely true. More like she'd decided to move past it. For her mother's sake, if nothing else.
Carl's look back at Amanda suggested that even if she were joking, he wasn't amused.
"Sorry," she told him again. "I can't imagine how you feel. Your own child, your flesh and blood, living an entire life somewhere out there in the world without you knowing a thing about it. Without you being able to be a part of it. That's what I keep trying to explain to Allie. Just the wondering alone could drive a person insane."
"I'm sorry?" Carl asked, utterly and suddenly lost.
"Oh. Right." Amanda threw up her hands. "I forgot. You don't know. My college-age daughter is pregnant."
Cass and Frankie stood at Felicia's door, holding Lori Ann in her carrier. Cass told Lucas, "I thought after everything that happened in court today, Felicia might want to see Lori Ann for a bit. I was going to come down for the hearing, but I was afraid I'd just be in the way."
Lucas hesitated, glancing over his shoulder to make sure Felicia couldn't hear, and then he admitted. "Fanny... Fanny is... I've never seen her like this. I've seen her angry. I've seen her miserable. I've even seen her out for blood. But I've never seen it take her over to the exception of everything else. Lorna was here earlier. Fanny wouldn't even talk to her, she was so consumed. Lorna looked like she'd been gut-punched... I should probably call anyway, come in, come in," he stepped aside. "Maybe you can talk some sense into her."
Cass and Frankie passed through the living room and into the study. Felicia was sitting hunched over her desk, furiously whacking keys on the computer with such force, Cass was surprised sparks weren't flickering in every direction.
Without looking up or paying any attention to Lori Ann in Frankie's arms, Felicia said, "I've been researching it. We can sue Donna for wrongful death. The burden of proof is lower in a civil case, so even if she manages to wriggle off in a court of law, we'll still be able to make her pay."
"Felicia," Cass began, crouching on the floor beside her so he could look up into her face. "This is pointless. There is nothing on that machine, not to mention no court in the world that's going to be able to make you hurt any less. Not for a long time."
"You think I don't know that?" Felicia turned on Cass with such fury, he nearly toppled over. "You think I don't know that the pain I'm feeling right now is never, ever going to go away? That even if I personally pull the switch on Donna myself, Jenna is still going to be gone? You think I don't know that? I'm an expert on loss, Cass. If you'll excuse the expression, I could write a book about it. Only it would be so raw and livid and unsuitable, it wouldn't sell a copy."
"It will get better," Frankie promised. "Please believe us. It will get better. Every day, the pain will get a little less."
"Spare me the platitudes," Felicia huffed. "My daughter didn't just die once, in that hospital room. She died over and over again. She died every time Donna Love looked me in the eye and offered her condolences. She died when Cecile decided to use the information she had on her. She died when Donna was arrested, and when she stood up in court and lied her head off, and she's going to keep dying every damn day, unless I can come up with some way to stop it. Everybody wanted a piece of Jenna. And, in the end, everyone has one. Donna, Carl, Cecile. What does that leave for me?"
"It leaves the fact that you were her mother. You. Nobody else." Lucas stepped into the room, his voice hard. "We were her parents. Donna and Carl were the people who got her killed. There's no comparison."
"It doesn't matter. Don't you see? In the end, they won. She's theirs again. They've taken her away from us, Luke. They killed her. And they're continuing to kill her over and over and over. They're going to keep doing it, too. Unless I can think of how to put a stop to it."
"Is it okay if the girls stay here another night?" Marley looked up to Jamie after peeking into their room to make sure both were sound asleep. "I don't want them living out of a hotel while I try to figure out what to do next."
"Of course they can stay here," he escorted Marley down the hall. "And so can you, for that matter."
Marley hesitated, then shook her head. "That's really sweet of you to offer, but "
"It's not like we're hurting for space. Someone recently told me we have 62 rooms in this place."
"You mean you're not sure?"
"I've never counted. How many rooms in your mother's house?"
He went on, "It's weird enough for Bridget and Michele already without you commuting back and forth between here and some hotel. Besides, the least a husband can do for his wife is give her a place to stay. It's in the handbook."
She felt herself smile for the first time all day. "We'd finally be living under the same roof. And all it took was for my mother to kidnap and murder innocent people to make it happen." Her smile fell, replaced by a pained look. "What if she's found guilty, Jamie? What if she goes to prison?"
"How do you know?"
"Because who in this town ever goes to prison for any crime they commit?"
"Are you trying to be funny again?"
"Is it finally working?" Jamie looked at her hopefully.
"A little," Marley nodded, suddenly aware and very grateful to see the friend she'd been missing these past few months. "Thank you for being so terrific about this. Especially after our fight about Cecile."
"We've been through way too much over the past twenty years for one stupid fight to break us, Marley. It may cause a dent, but dents are a mark of character."
She laughed. "And can sometimes even be buffed out. Still, I... I'm sorry for not coming to you... for going to Cecile behind your back. I just wanted to help."
"I know," he nodded with a slightly uneasy smile. "And I'm sorry I overreacted. It's just that when it comes to Cecile "
"You don't have to explain it to me. That woman, she just had a knack for pushing people's buttons. I went in intending to be calm and collected and in minutes she had me losing it.... Frankly, it doesn't surprise me that she's dead. Or that someone murdered her. Just that it took this long for it to happen."
"First of all," Alice spoke slowly, lest Rachel have trouble following. "Kindly refrain from telling me how I see myself. Second of all, believe it or not, not everyone defines their self-image in relation to you. And thirdly, correct me if I'm wrong, but the only criminal charges Spencer was actually brought up on, was for the offense of fraternizing with Carl. And the last time I checked, Carl was Carl..."
Spencer waited for Rachel to leave, slamming the door behind her, before he allowed himself to give in and burst out laughing.
"You are a wonder," he told Alice. "Though, why did you lie, telling her you knew about my blackmailing Jamie?"
"Because I don't like Rachel," Alice revealed the worst kept secret in Bay City. And then she asked Spencer, "The information you gave her, was it true?"
"So you kept your part of the bargain?"
"Alright, then," she nodded. "Although, I do have to tell you, if you go after Jamie again, I can't promise what my reaction would be. He means a great deal to me. And I know how much he loves his son."
"Kirkland's custody is currently up to the courts to decide. I am merely an interested observer, same as you."
"I'm holding you to that," Alice said.
"I expect you to." Spencer smiled and took her hand. "I meant what I said at lunch the other day. I intend to do everything in my power to keep small issues between us from turning into big ones."
"Was Cecile one of those issues you nipped the bud?" Alice asked unexpectedly, though clearly she'd been mulling over the question for some time.
"I beg your pardon?"
"You knew she was holding something over Jamie's head. You heard us talking about it before you burst into my office. Getting Jamie into trouble would be a sure-fire way to make the courts see things Grant's way, now, wouldn't it?"
"Conversely," Spencer offered, "Maybe I was trying to win your favor by helping your stepson out with his little problem?"
"Did you have anything at all to do with Cecile's death?" Alice asked.
"I did not," he lied.
"I want to put my cards on the table," Lila told Kevin over dinner at the Harbor Club.
He closed his menu and gave her his full attention. "I've been known to play a hand or two. Shoot."
"I'm not looking for a relationship right now. Like I told you before, I'm enjoying my independence too much these days. I'm hoping if I figure out who I really am, it will keep me from making the same stupid mistakes with men over and over again."
"A noble goal," Kevin praised. "And don't worry, I'm not looking for anything serious, either."
"Is it because you're still hung up on Amanda?"
"How come," Kevin wanted to know. "With you it's enjoying your independence, with me it's I'm still hung up on my ex?"
"You've got that look about you."
"There's a look?"
"Okay, I'll bite. What's the look?"
"When we first walked in, you took stock of the whole room, like you were searching for somebody."
"That had nothing to do with Amanda. I've been bumping a lot into one particular distant relative lately that I'd rather avoid."
"When you didn't find whoever you were searching for, you looked like you couldn't decide whether to be happy or sad."
"Happy," he reassured her. "Definitely happy."
"You loved her," Lila said simply.
"What? Is there a look for that, too?"
"Check out the mirror."
Kevin picked up his menu again and, without meeting Lila's eyes, said, "You are disturbingly knowledgeable."
"I was a private eye once."
"Really?" His head bobbed up, intrigued.
"No," she admitted sheepishly. "I ran a couple of errands for Gary Sinclair, though. He had a detective agency. I picked some stuff up."
Kevin signaled for the waiter and told Lila, "I can see why Grant likes you. You're something else."
"Problem is, nobody's sure exactly what, yet."
"Sounds like it could be fun to find out," Kevin flirted. "With no long-term strings attached, of course."
"Of course," Lila agreed.
She didn't expect Dean to get there so soon. Even if Donna believed that his threat was tangible and not just the hysterical raving of a distraught widower, she knew that he was nowhere near Bay City at the moment. The exchange of his call had indicated the West Coast. He couldn't have gotten there so fast, no matter how motivated to hurt her he felt.
Still, when Donna awoke in the middle of the night to see a shadowy figure hovering menacingly over her bed, she did wonder if this was it. If her past had finally and definitely caught up with her.
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