"Well, good," Kevin shook hands first with Allie and Gregory, then with Rick and Mindy. "I'm very, very glad this looks to have worked out. I'll start drawing up the papers, but, remember, everybody, nothing is final here. Allie can still change her mind at any time with no penalties. Do we understand each other?"
Rick and Mindy nodded solemnly, even as Allie promised, "I won't change my mind."
She and Gregory said their good-byes to Kevin and the Bauers, stepping out into the hall. As they stood waiting for the elevator, Gregory asked, "Hudson?"
Allie nodded. "That's his name, or the deal is off."
"You don't have to..."
"I know. But you've been... You've been the best friend, the best boyfriend, the best... person, I've ever known. If my kid grows up to be even a tiny fraction of the human being you are, Rick and Mindy are going to be the luckiest guys on the planet. Well, after me, of course...."
Meanwhile, inside Kevin's office, Mindy was finishing up explaining the latest chapter in the saga of her mysterious parentage (go to: http://pgpclassicsoaps.blogspot.com/2010/02/guiding-light-synopsis-february1-5-2010.html for details) and the consequently missing paperwork.
"You said we needed my original birth certificate to file with the court and, at this point, I have no idea when or how I'm ever going to get that."
Kevin gave the matter some thought, then suggested, "I have a couple of private detectives I work with on a regular basis. Really thorough guys. This is right up their alley. Why don't you give me all the info you have so far, and I'll have them take a crack at it."
"That would be great!" Mindy gushed. Kevin took out his yellow legal pad again and started taking notes as Mindy dictated, "Summer of 1969, my mother was working as a waitress at this country club just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco."
Kevin hesitated. "Really?"
"What? Do you know her?" Mindy stared at him, dumbstruck.
"No," he shook his head. "No, no, nothing like that. It's just there was this French writer a long time ago, Eugene Sue. Revolutionary type, he wrote The Wandering Jew and The Mysteries of Paris."
"Oh..." the pieces clicked for Mindy. "I remember now. There's a street named after him next to the Poissonniere Metro."
"Kind of odd that your mother would have the same name, only backwards," Kevin mused. "Especially since, didn't your daddy say she was very interested in politics, civil rights, that sort of thing? Heck of a coincidence."
"You think the name's a fake?" Rick wondered.
"Yeah," Kevin admitted. "I do."
"Jamie's having an affair with Lorna Devon," Grant informed Marley mere minutes after barging into her office at the art gallery. He did his best to sound concerned rather than triumphant. "It's been going on for months."
"Sure. And you were celibate all those years 'trapped' on your tropical island hideaway."
"Ask Lila. She's seen them together."
"Pushing your lackey as a credible witness regarding my husband's alleged affair? You really must be desperate."
"I saw them, too. At the gym earlier."
"Okay. I'll bite. What were Jamie and Lorna doing at the gym that could possibly constitute an affair? Keep in mind, sweating, grunting and wearing a minimum of clothing kind of comes with the territory."
Well, if she put it that way, Grant hadn't actually, technically seen anything particularly incriminating. It was more of a feeling that had prompted him to badger Lila into a confession. A feeling about the way Lorna was looking at Jamie... The way that Jamie was....
"Lorna... she was... smiling at him. And Jamie was...well..."
"What? Smiling back at her? That's what nice people do, Grant."
"When exactly did Lorna Devon fall into that category?" He challenged, "Think about it: Why is she living at the Cory guesthouse? Lorna hates Carl even more than she hates me. You'd think she'd want to keep a wide berth between them at all times. And yet, there she is, bunking down only a hop, skip and jump away. From him and from Jamie."
"I think you're missing the more obvious suitor," Marley countered.
"Matt. They have a history. He also lives at the main house "
"Reasonable theory. If you think Matt would cheat on Donna."
Fed up and obviously determined to duck the question Marley stood, indicating the door. "Go away, Grant. If you thought for a second that you had Jamie dead to rights, you wouldn't have bothered coming here to gloat. You'd be in judge's chambers, presenting his head on a platter."
"I wanted to tell you first. So that you'd be prepared. I didn't want you blindsided."
"Spare me. You didn't come here out of any consideration for my feelings. If you had a modicum of decency, you wouldn't be trying to turn me against my best friend, the one person who's kept me sane as my mother is revealed to be a liar, a kidnapper, a killer and now a self-destructive lunatic, to boot. You don't care about me. So stop pretending like you do!" Marley couldn't keep the tears at bay any longer, swiping them angrily from her lashes, hissing, "Congratulations, you've finally broken me down, you sadistic bastard. This should positively make your day."
She was right. It should have. Strangely, though, it didn't.
"No," Felicia told Carl after finding him on her doorstep. Despite the fact that he had yet to ask her about or for anything. "No, I do not want to commiserate with you over "our" daughter. No, I do not want to hear your plans for Donna's downfall. No, I will not ask Cass and Frankie to let you see Lori Ann and no, you are not and never will be Jenna's father."
"May I come in?" Carl plucked the one issue she hadn't yet denied him on.
"Suit yourself." Felicia turned her back, declining to offer Carl refreshments or so much as a seat. He took off his coat, shook off the snow and continued standing there, somewhat awkwardly.
When he finally understood that no more would be forthcoming from Felicia, Carl ventured, "We were friends once. We were, frankly, more than friends."
"That was a lifetime ago."
"But surely, you must have espied a positive quality or two in me at that time."
"Everybody makes mistakes."
He realized that she was being flip, but Carl chose to treat her remark with absolute seriousness. "That is true. Just as it is equally true that I've certainly made more than my share."
"You've made enough to, on average, keep an entire convent pious for a generation," Felicia said. Before remembering the role a convent had played in her tragedy, and sobering considerably. She recalled, "You found us. You and Rachel, you found us at Sacred Heart. You saved... You tried to save Jenna. You definitely saved Lori Ann."
"Might you," Carl approached delicately. "Might you have a recent photograph of her? I haven't laid eyes on the child since she was still in hospital. I should like to see..."
Felicia nodded. She riffled around in her purse, pulling out a small digital camera and turning the view function on for Carl. "I just took these yesterday, at Cass and Frankie's."
Carl smiled as he clicked his way through over two-dozen shots of Lori Ann in a variety of Felicia-purchased outfits. And accessories. "Does an infant genuinely need such a generous number of hats?" he inquired.
"She does," Felicia confirmed.
He paused at a photo of Lori Ann with Cass, Frankie and Charlie. He asked, "Are they good to her? Are they as good as she deserves?"
"They're the best," Felicia reassured. "I'm in awe of how smoothly she's fit into their household, their family."
"Surface appearances can be deceiving," Carl warned. "Do you honestly believe that a foster clan can love a child as much as her own flesh and blood?"
She whipped around. "Are you seriously asking me that? Jenna..."
"Was a young woman you met a scant few years before she was old enough to go into the world on her own. You were very fond of her, certainly. I was very fond of Lorna whilst she was under my tutelage. But I would hardly compare it to the way I feel about Elizabeth or Cory."
Felicia stared at Carl as if he'd lost his mind. "Are you honestly equating my relationship with Jenna to that travesty of a "guardianship" you inflicted on Lorna?"
"I see very little difference in the two."
"That's because you're... you're... depraved, and that's putting it mildly."
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Felicia. I had hoped we might come to some sort of an understanding regarding my role in Lori Ann's upbringing."
"Understand this: Stay away from my granddaughter, or those children that you're so fond of, just might get an earful from me about exactly what kind of tutelage you put Lorna through. You got that?"
"Grant knows about you and Jamie."
"Grant knows what about me and Jamie?"
Lila rolled her eyes. "Oh, please. He knows that the two of you are carrying on an affair."
Lorna cocked her head. "I'm having an affair with Jamie? Really? How long has it been going on? Am I having a good time?"
"Sure looked that way the morning I caught you smooching him right outside this here front door," Lila parried, undaunted. "And that was no friendly acquaintance kiss. Unless you kiss all your friends in your underwear."
"You told Grant about that? What the hell were you thinking?"
"Covering for you and your married boyfriend isn't my job. I warned Jamie multiple times to stop diddling around with you, and to focus on his family. Obviously, he didn't heed my advice."
"You don't know anything. Now, because of your big mouth, things are about to get ugly, and a lot of people who don't deserve it are going to get hurt."
"Should've thought of that before you started up with Jamie."
"No. You should've thought before you told that ruthless SOB anything to help him get Kirkland. Believe me, Lila, I've been there. I know that Grant can be charming, and how he can seem vulnerable and misunderstood and like he just needs someone to love him and give him a chance to be a better person. I fell for that act myself once upon a time. It's especially effective if you've ever been the town pariah, too. He knows exactly what buttons to push in that regard. The man is toxic. As much as he claims to care about you is as much as he can and will hurt you. If he gets his hands on Kirkland, he's going to do to him what he's done to every other person who's ever been dumb enough or naive enough to try loving him. Grant will crush him. And if that happens, Kirkland's mangled life will be on you and your stupid, misguided notion that Grant is any kind of decent human being who deserves an ounce of anybody's consideration."
"Clever stunt your friend pulled with Allie's sonogram the other day," Kevin told Jen when she dropped by his office. "Your idea?"
"How did you know?"
"Sounds like something I'd advise one of my clients to do." He kept his voice utterly neutral as he asked, "GQ see anything of interest?"
"No," Jen admitted and, despite being tempted to, didn't bother asking if GQ were, in fact, the father of Allie's baby. Kevin Fowler didn't break client confidentiality for anyone. Instead, she queried, "Under the circumstances, do you mind my seeing him?"
"Have I ever stuck my nose into your love life?"
She sighed, "It might be a moot point, anyway."
"Not based on what I saw in the computer lab...."
"No. Based on what came after."
"What happened?" Kevin's head jerked up.
"I got treated to a ten minute lecture on how transracial adoption is cultural genocide for the Black community."
"Oh. Well.... It's not either of ours first time at that particular rodeo, is it?"
"But," Kevin reached over and lifted Jen's chin so that she was forced to look him in the eye. "This may be the first time it's actually gotten to you."
"It shouldn't. I realize it shouldn't, I realize that."
Kevin perched on the edge of his desk, looking down at her. "You know, I asked your grandmother about it flat-out when she first suggested I adopt you."
"Really? What did she say?"
Kevin smiled at the memory. "Miss Camille was not one for mincing words."
"She told me: I don't worry about her not knowing she's Black. I worry about her not knowing she's loved...."
Jen attempted a smile, but the effort never quite came to fruition.
"You're really upset." Kevin narrowed his eyes. "What the hell did that son-of-a-bitch say to you exactly?"
"You know," she waved one hand around. "The usual. Blah, blah, blah, Juneteenth.... Blah, blah, blah, Kwanza is so a real holiday.... It wasn't what he said. It was that... that..."
"He was the one who said it?" Kevin guessed. "You really like this guy."
"Yeah. I do."
"Any particular reason? That you can share with your father, that is?"
That finally coaxed a smile out of Jen. She confessed, "He isn't afraid of me."
"Wow," Kevin said. "That is big."
"It really is!"
"I know. I'm afraid of you."
"Exactly. Do you realize how rare it is for me to meet somebody who isn't afraid of me? Especially a man? Who stands up to me? Who can give as good as he gets? Who isn't so fragile that I need to watch every word I say lest I hurt his delicate ego?"
"I wish you luck, Jenny," Kevin told her sincerely. "He sounds like an overconfident know-it-all. Just like your old man."
Grant assessed Toni Burrell with a practiced eye and knew immediately that she was on a fishing expedition.
"I thought you'd closed Cecile's murder investigation," he offered. "Donna Love "
"We're just tying up a few loose ends," Toni cut him off. "You indicated in your initial statement that you went to Ms. De Poulignac's room at her request. Did she mention anything or anyone that she wanted to talk to you about specifically?"
Grant cocked his head, playing the moment as his wheels turned. They have a new suspect. They've found something that dropped Donna as their primary. Could it be...
"Marley Frame, for instance?" Toni threw the name out with deceptive casualness.
"Marley?" The suggestion knocked Grant for a loop, his memory of her furious, frustrated tears still fresh. "Why would Cecile "
"Mrs. Frame wrote a sizable check to Ms. De Poulignac several weeks before she was murdered. We suspect it was a blackmail payoff on behalf of her mother."
"And when Cecile came back for more, Marley strangled her, planted evidence and framed Donna?" Grant shook his head with a scornful laugh. "I think not."
"I'm interested in hearing what you do think then, Mr. Harrison."
Grant didn't waste a second in taking advantage of the opportunity. "I think that if Marley wrote a check to Cecile, it wasn't for her mother, it was for her husband, Jamie Frame. Cecile told me as much when she called."
"And you didn't feel a need to share this information with the police?"
"I didn't want to taint the evidence chain with hearsay," Grant offered his most dazzling smile. "Now that you have concrete evidence, it's a different story, of course. I'm happy to cooperate in any way I may be of service."
Toni's face indicated she wasn't buying the bull for a second. "Cecile De Poulignac told you that she was blackmailing Dr. Frame?"
"Not exactly. She mentioned that Marley had paid her off to keep some sensitive information about Jamie from coming to light. She offered me the chance to bid for it, as well. Cecile was a great believer in a free and unregulated marketplace."
"Do you know what it was Cecile De Poulignac was blackmailing her ex-husband with?"
"She was dead before I got the chance to talk with her about it. I suppose Marley would know all the details, since she was the one to pay Cecile off...."
"Oh," was all Amanda could think of to say when she rounded the corner of the Cory library to find Kevin standing by the back bookshelf, silently perusing the volumes.
He turned around, smiling when he saw her. "Sorry to startle you. I'm here to pick up Lila."
"Oh," Amanda repeated, figuring, heck, it worked so well the first time.
Sensing her discomfort, Kevin indicated a tasteful, leather-bound set of six volumes right at eye-level and observed, "Elliot Carrington's Journalist's Diary series. They're all here: Eastern Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia. First editions, too. Very impressive."
"My father published Elliot Carrington. Elliot was his protegee."
"I loved his stuff when I was younger. Other kids had Indiana Jones, I had Elliot Carrington."
Amanda laughed with sincere delight. "Don't tell me you dreamed of becoming a dashing, globe-trotting reporter? Are you a frustrated writer, Kevin?"
"Law school is full of them; Grisham gave a lot of people delusions of competence," he informed her. "But no, I always knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. The books were just a great read. My grandmother got me the whole set, autographed, for my 14th birthday. I gather she and Carrington were old friends?"
"They were a lot more than friends. Story goes that, when my mom finally got Steve Frame to marry her for Jamie's sake, of course Alice ran off to New York and became a live-in nurse for Elliot's stepson, Dennis; he's Sarah's father. Elliot was in love with her. Or so my mother tells it. Of course, Alice ultimately went back to Steve. So my mother slapped her with an alienation of affection suit, and when that didn't work, she had Steve sent to prison. Alice married him the day before he was shipped off."
"Wow. I had no idea my grandmother lived such a dramatic life."
"I'm sure she'd be happy to tell you all about it. If you'd only give her the chance."
He smiled, noncommittal, and, once again, deftly changed the subject. "It's good to see you, Amanda. You look great."
"You mean, for a grandmother-to-be?"
"I mean you look great," he reiterated. "But speaking of.... Listen, have you considered telling Sam about Allie? In my experience, the more family support for someone in her situation, the better. I'm sure she could use a visit from her dad."
"It wouldn't be the first time," Amanda sighed. "I don't think Sam's talked to Allie since she was maybe twelve, thirteen? I used to try and facilitate their keeping in touch, but once she got old enough, she put her foot down. Allie said if Sam wanted to see her, he could make the arrangements himself. As far as I know, he never did."
"Charming," Kevin drawled. "What did you ever see in such a treasure?"
"He could draw. He could sing," she offered lamely. "I was very young."
"Allie has picked out the couple she'd like to adopt her baby. They're nice people. You'll like them."
"Am I even going to be allowed to meet these total strangers who'll be raising my grandson?"
"That's up to Allie."
Amanda couldn't stop the short, bitter laugh that erupted from her throat. "Oh, well, guess that settles that."
"Amanda..." he began.
"What?" she turned on him furiously. Angry at Kevin. Angry with Kevin. Angry.
"I..." He took a step forward. He raised his hand, unsure whether to go the whole way and actually touch her. "I'm sorry to see you so unhappy. You don't deserve it."
She froze in her place, also unsure of what she wanted him to do, knowing only that she couldn't seem to take her eyes off his palm, his fingers, the way he was standing close enough to brush her cheek, the way he was holding back.
"All set," Lila materialized in the doorway. "Ready to go. Sorry it took me so long."
Kevin's hand dropped. Without breaking stride, he sidestepped Amanda, smiling at her over his shoulder with an expression that could have been apologetic, or remorseful. Or merely polite.
He offered Lila his arm. "No problem. Look at the results...."
She linked her own elbow through his and, accompanied by a chorus of "Have a good evening, Amanda," they were both out the door.
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